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  • Writer's pictureashlynnmalia

October 2023

The word of this month is “ritual.” Earlier on I would've said “routine,” but I actually hate routine and conveniently forget that about myself every time I start to feel like I'm losing control of my life. I say, “hey, you know what's a good idea? Establishing a routine!” and whether that routine is waking up at a certain time each day, getting x, y, and z done before I leave the house, adding a specific kind of exercise to my day, meditating immediately after I wake up or every night before I go to sleep, I inevitably throw it off or feel I’ve done it wrong and I always, ALWAYS, end up feeling suffocated by it.

So what’s the difference between routine and ritual, then? Where the priorities lie. To me routine is going through the motions. Monotony. Something to fill time, a plan to follow in order to reach an end goal or just to have something to do. The emphasis is in the actions. Ritual assigns meaning. Ritual says, “this small act symbolizes something bigger than what you’re physically doing.” You turn on your kettle in the morning and make tea and pour it into a mug in with the logo of your favorite bookstore on it because it symbolizes the inspiration you feel from that place, you drink the tea and its jasmine tea because jasmines are your favorite flower and thinking of jasmines reminds you of walking with your family around Hawaii at Christmas time and now you’re ingesting the energizing feeling of finding a piece of your own truth in someone else’s words and you're ingesting what it feels like to be around people who love you and make you laugh and all you had to do was sip something hot. The emphasis is on what purpose an action has to you, personally.

And the fun thing is, after a tiny ritual like that, I'm so much more inclined to do the things that are good for me - those health-and-wellness oriented routine things - and actually enjoy it. It happens with little to no forcing once a ritual has gotten my mind in an inspired place. Those actions don’t seem as daunting (as someone in the final stages of recovering from a foot injury, having developed a habit of just fucking SITTING all the time, moving my body is especially hard some days, and I don't automatically have the mental strength to “just do it.” I’m sorry)

I was recently accused of being a grandma and while i don’t fight the allegations, (they’re true its fine) I think my accusers are missing the point of my enjoying a mug of tea at 2 pm, my sitting with my back against a tree trunk looking up at a canopy of leaves, my late night collaging at home and my walks in silence. They are by far the least boring part of any day. Overflowing with meaning, purpose. Turning me into a tolerable person. Likable, even. Dare I say lovable (that’s a can of worms to open another month)

Point is, I have come to the realization that I am not someone with endless motivation to spare at any given moment. I am sprung into action much more successfully if I feel inspired, not obligated, to do it. Showing up for myself is not second nature to me but something I'm training myself to do, and ritual seems to be helping the most.

Til next month,


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