Rituals, not habit.

Hygge Night

Years ago I lived in Seattle and each day I’d take the number 11 bus from Madison Park (a charming little hidden spot on the water – I literally lived on the water) all the way down Madison Avenue to downtown for work. And each morning I’d see a man begin to open up his shop by bringing everything out (it was garden/home store so you can imagine the effort of bringing out lounging chairs and potted plants! then every evening on my return home I’d see him putting them all away. And this routine for some reason bothered me.

It wasn’t until one day when I spoke to the man, who was extraordinarily grumpy, did I realise why it bothered me – it was a routine he had to do and there was no joy to it. It was almost as bad as a nasty habit for him.

There is for me a great deal of difference between ritual and habit. I tend to think of a habit as something one does without really thinking of it – whether if they have to or not. They just do it. It could be something as mundane as always touching their hair, to brushing their teeth, to cutting their toast the exact same way. Just doing something without thought – habit.

I’m not really a creature of habit but I do have a thing for rituals.

Each night when I know I am to be in (the dog doesn’t need to go out, no last minute parties to go to, no runs to the grocer) I start my evening ritual which actually doesn’t take very long and isn’t really all that grand – but it’s important to me.

It begins by closing all the curtains {of which I have a lot of 5 sets in 4 rooms} and making sure all the windows are closed {except for my office – that doesn’t shut until I turn in}. A few key lamps get turned on in the living room, office and bedroom (to save on electricity and because overhead lighting is just far too much). I light a few candles (office, bathroom and bedroom) and then change into my night clothes.

Oh, how I have a thing for night clothes! There is nothing nicer to me than a slip, a gown – anything – to change into at night. I like clothes for purpose and I adore pretty things and clothes just for night help me slow down. And once I’m changed I wash up and then it’s off to the office for a little work, movie or reading.

Sometimes the evening turn down starts at 8, sometimes at 2AM but it always happens. And I’m mindful each time (though sometimes if I’m home late from being out, I skip the lights thing and just light a candle, wash up, change and read a magazine in a total of about 30 min. Just enough time to signify change to rest my body ).

But these are my rituals that without I might feel lost. They help to keep me conscious of the life I lead instead of just waltzing through it from day to night.