A New Kind of Craving

In my classroom I've learned that if you are working with first graders, structure is key to staving off chaos. Nothing brings crazytown faster than lulls in the day or a random schedule. Don't believe me? Try coming in on one of our 'safety days' where we have all our safety drills back-to-back in one fell swoop. Efficient, yes. Good for little ones, nope. That one day can throw a wrench into our weekly routine faster than Santa and his little elves. Veering off of our normal schedule happens a lot and it is inevitable. We just brace for impact and try to resume regular programming as quickly as possible. 

What I realized a few years ago was that it is not just a little people thing. Yes, kids need structure. Blah, blah. We know this. But I started seeing this through an adult lens when some things in my life were going sour a few years ago. I realized that we ALL crave routine and structure...it's just that we are {usually} more refined than kids in our expression of that need. Where they run around like banshees when their nighttime routine is off, we grown ones might suffer a distracted mind, insomnia or mild depression symptoms. Or maybe you run around like a banshee too, I dunno.

I'd like to take it a step further than merely routines. I believe children (and therefore, adults) need rituals. It seems to me that rituals take it from the level of routine and kick it up a notch to something more important. Almost spiritual. 

To be honest, I struggle with routines and rituals. I never seem to do the same thing twice when I wake up in the morning and I cringe if I'm made to participate in a liturgical church service (remind me to tell you that story!) I couldn't even listen to some beautiful French monks because their unified singing voice felt like a practiced cult. I had to walk out early...I know, I'm weird. But Katie don't do no cults.

There is a part of me that feels that by joining the ranks of the routine, I'm giving up my individuality and choice. So generally, I rebel and then pay the price. But at least I'm free, darnit! Free to feel WHAT exactly? To feel lost, unsure, tired, achy, lonely, distracted, late, annoyed...sometimes I even mistake some of these feelings for how I see my self in relation to God. What I really think is that I just need some structure. And maybe some sleep.

I've long since introduced rituals in my classroom (Firelight Friday, anyone?) so I decided to tackle my personal life. Therefore, I've been identifying chaotic areas of my life and have started examining the ritual that might fit my style in that area. Examples you say?

I have a friend who takes a bath every night to get ready for bed. I love that! However, I can't stand getting wet (oh, come on! I'm not the only one, surely) so that may not work for me. But turning out the lights at 9:00 and reading a book by candlelight?
Yes, please.

I know someone who wakes up 1 hour before her whole house to she can drink a cup of coffee and pray, then she'll go run and shower. So great! I mean, I could stand just to wake up more than 15 minutes from when I have to leave, but you get the idea. I could at least give myself some time to soak in the morning instead of racing out with my makeup bag and a coffee-to-go.

Another ritual I've always connected with was on one of my favorite movies, Lucky Seven. {BTW, if you haven't watched this movie, do it. It is great and Patrick Dempsey is in it. So is a performance by EastMountainSouth. I will not need to twist your arm further. Go! I'll wait while you google it, stream it, or rent it.} 

Like I was saying, in the movie, she has a standing weekly dinner date with her sweet dad where they get out the nice dishes and talk about their week. She goes to this dinner no matter what and no matter how old she gets. ugh.love.it. That ritual resonated with me and my love for family (and food! boo-yah. Mum, I comin' over with a soup tureen.) After you are done looking up Lucky Seven, you can look up soup tureen...don't worry, I had to as well. Better yet, here's a pic:

 I guess I'm still figuring out which rituals I want in my life so I'll keep you updated. But I think that's the key: they need to be rituals I *choose* to put in place, not ones that develop by chance. Like a river carving its winding way through rock, habits form from repeated action over time. Routines (good or bad) will develop regardless of your rebellion. Take it from me, it is better to build in great ones that feed your soul than to succumb to the messiness of chance or apathy deciding your routine.

Any ideas out there for awesome rituals? What is something you consider a great routine in your life?