Thankful Thursday | Rituals

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Getting out of bed in the morning sure has changed.

For one thing, it takes a lot longer. There’s a series of stretches that must be done before I actually get up, as my back and legs are a “tad” stiff.

But, that’s after removing the night splint I use to ease the plantar fasciitis in my right foot.

Of course, I have to first take off the cotton gloves that cover the Bag Balm, slathered on my hands the night before to treat the dry skin of psoriasis. Otherwise, the gloves get stuck on the velcro straps of the night split.

Gone are the days when I hit the ground running. Running to get the kids off to school and myself to work. Thankfully, I didn’t require stretching or anything else, because there simply wasn’t time.

When I think back to those days it amazes me what I accomplished inside of twenty-four hours. These days I have to pace myself or risk pulling a muscle. 😉


One thing I’m truly grateful for this week (and everyday) is my morning coffee. And, more importantly, the time I have to enjoy it.

Knowing the Keurig awaits is all the incentive I need to get out of bed despite the annoying delays.

What is it about a simple cup of Joe that gets coffee lovers moving in the morning? One estimate says 64% of Americans drink coffee everyday. Is it the bold taste of the beans or the caffeine rush? Is it the heady aroma that tantalizes our olfactory nerves?

I believe it’s a combination of all those things, as well as the ritual itself. Humans are known to be creatures of habit. Our habits or rituals give us a sense of security and provide structure to our schedules and meaning to our everyday lives. 

man wearing black crew neck shirt and black jeans

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

But, when we’re younger we often don’t have the opportunity to truly enjoy them. Careers and family responsibilities take up a great amount of our time and energy. That cup of coffee is usually gulped down from a travel cup as we make a hurried commute to our next destination.

For example, the young man in the photo above is putting on his shoes as his coffee sits cooling in the background. The building across the street signals that he lives in the city and there’s probably a steady stream of interesting people on the sidewalk below. If it were me, I’d be drawn to the window, to relax, sip the java, and people-watch. But, he probably has to get to work, school, the gym, or someplace else. He probably won’t have time for another 30 years, or so.

These days I have the luxury of less work and more time. The kids are grown and flown. My job is part-time with long weekends and the summers off. The housework doesn’t require the same level of attention as before. Everything is easier, albeit somewhat emptier, at times. However, my hobbies and ongoing projects fill up any voids that come along. 

The morning routine is to enjoy my cup of Joe at a leisurely pace, planning the day’s chores and activities according to my schedule. While this schedule demands some age-related conditions like morning stretches, it also allows a little dreaming over a second and, sometimes, a third cup of coffee.

And that’s a ritual I can really get behind!


 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share | Simple Pleasures

Weekend Coffee ShareIf we were having coffee I’d ask how you define “simple pleasures” in your life today.

Since my mom died almost two years ago, I started feeding the birds. It was something she always did. I also started doing it as a way to entertain the new cat that adopted me while Mom was in declining health.

We have ceiling to floor windows in the den that look out at a small side yard. There are large arbor vitae trees that provide a home to many birds. I placed several feeders, as well as a bird bath in this area.

I then put a cat tree near those windows and enjoyed many happy hours watching Miss Kitty stalk and “attack” our feathered friends from inside the glass. Even the squirrels would climb up onto the feeders and taunt our poor feline! I’m not sure who was more entertained, the cat or myself.

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I lost my mom first and then my kitty. I gave the pet items to my son who has two cats of his own, but the bird feeders remained; a constant reminder of what I’d lost.

I considered getting rid of them because watching those little feathered creatures was painful at first. But, I slowly realized that they came to depend on me. Kind’ve like my Mom and Kitty did. 

Sure, my furry friends managed without my help before and could again. But, winter was coming, a season when freezing temps and snow make food and water scarce here in the northeast.

The menagerie of wildlife isn’t limited to just birds, but also includes rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, opossums, raccoons, and the occasional skunk. Knowing that my efforts improve their quality of life makes me feel really good inside.

 There was no way I could let them down and it was a win-win for all of us. So, I continue my ritual of going out every morning to fill the feeders and put out fresh water. I also offer up a variety of fruits, vegetables, and peanuts. As the weather turned cold I even invested in a heated birdbath to prevent the water from freezing.

There was a time when I good-naturedly laughed at my Mom’s concern for the outdoor critters. It was during my busiest years, working and raising a family, and I couldn’t imagine devoting any of my precious time and energy to the wildlife; there just wasn’t enough of either.

But, times have changed.

Cardinal on bird feeder in winter

With the kids grown, my parents gone, and a semi-retired lifestyle, I now have the time. And I consider my caretaking of the backyard animals one of my simple pleasures. I get a tremendous amount of joy looking out the window and seeing them feasting on the goodies I put out. 

I have lots of simple pleasures these days: the occasional bubble bath, good books, walks in the park, playing photographer, writing, lunch dates with friends, and so much more. 

And, of course, spending time with my family. We don’t even have to be doing anything special; just hanging out is best. No deadlines, no expectations, no dress code. Just being comfortable in who we are and making memories. 

Time seems to be the common denominator. We spend so much of our lives working and hurrying to the next thing that we don’t really have time for simple pleasures. It’s all we can do to manage the basics. 

I’m proud of all that I accomplished so far. It took a lot of hard work to raise the wonderful family that I have. It wasn’t easy getting the college degree as an adult. There were heartaches and tears along the way, but that’s life.

And, as with most things in life, there are trade offs. Apparently, the tradeoff for gray hair and creaky knees is time spent doing the things we want to do versus what we have to do.

At this stage of the game, I think it’s well worth it.

What about you?