Lisa Hunter creates custom ceremonies in Boulder, Colorado. Her goal:
help folks acknowledge life's Big Milestones - weddings, baby namings, housewarmings - in a truly meaningful way.
But what about life's lovely little moments? I ask her. "Is it possible to celebrate something as simple as walking my dog, bb, to the lake?"
It is, Lisa says. So we do.
Here's how you can create a simple ritual/ceremony to celebrate life's everyday moments - and how Lisa and I used these steps to create a ceremony of lake-walk-with-dog appreciation.
(ps: Introvert readers? Check out the innie "Aha!" moment I had in Step 4. Does that sing to you?)
1. Pick the everyday event you'd like to celebrate.
To find the everyday event you'd like to celebrate, ask yourself:
What makes me smile? What makes me feel lighter, just thinking about it?
You're looking for something you enjoy, but might overlook in the course of a busy day: waking up, drinking coffee, reading Ask Amy's advice column in The Denver Post (if you're me).
The daily event that I'm going to celebrate with Lisa is my daily lake walk with my funny, smart bichon frise, bb, near our home in Northern Colorado.
As an ex-New Yorker, I'm awed the mountain views, the access to a quiet public space, with some doggie socializing opportunities built into it. The clouds reflecting on the water...
Next step? Add a ritual to this everyday event.
But what is a ritual, exactly?
That's where Lisa's expertise come sin.
Ritual, is a process of "realizing what you're letting go of and what you're stepping into," she explains, as we cross the busy street that leads to the quiet lake.
Watch Lisa Hunter of "Ceremonies With Lisa" on how to create an everyday appreciation ritual:
2. Identify an Intention
When we arrive at the lake, Lisa asks me to set an intention for my walk with bb.
Uh-oh, I think.
I had picked walking to the lake with bb instinctively.
But I wasn't sure i wanted to put formal words to the experience.
Perhaps because I spend so much time with words every day? Or perhaps because I feel I could overwhelm the simple happiness of the walk by heaping too many Big Words on it?
For now, I tell Lisa that I was here to celebrate how much I loved my daily walk with my dog in such a beautiful place.
The words will take care of themselves.
3. Begin Your Ritual with a Few Meaningful Words.
"Acknowledgement is what makes your ritual a ritual," Lisa says, as bb and I settle beside her on a bench by the lake.
Now, I need to say or do something to kick off our ceremonial experience of the walk.
"If you feel connected to something bigger," Lisa offers, "you can say something like, 'God, please bless this walk.'"
Another option, she suggests is to "Acknowledge the interconnectedness of nature."
"If you're a fan of quantum physics," she adds, that can work, too.
All of these ideas sound great, in theory. But none of them sing to me, personally.
And then I find the words that express what I'm feeling when I arrive at the lake each day with bb.
They words more Brooklyn than Kahlil Gibran in style. But they make me smile. So I go with them.
See how Lisa and I came up with my invocation here. (PG Language Alert)
4. Discover the meat of your ritual.
Now that I've kicked off our ceremony of appreciation verbally, Lisa, bb and I begin our walk.
Some people might find added ritual benefit in picking up a fallen leaf or a pebble from the path and framing it in the sand, she tells me, as we walk along.
I could also create a cairn - a ceremonial pile of rocks, she suggests.
Again, I can see the appeal of these ideas. But I don't feel them. I'm a "leave no trace, everything in its place" kind of walker. Moving things doesn't feel appreciative to me.
But then I hear the wind in the leaves of a nearby tree. And I realize: I'm an appreciative listener. All of which jives with the rest of my life as an Introvert.
I live and work with an inward focus. Why shouldn't I celebrate my walk innie-style, too?
This change of plan works for Lisa.
We had set out to create a ritual ceremony for our walk, she notes, with a happy-sounding voice. But instead, we're discovering that I already have a built-in ritual for my walk.
My ritual starts with a moment of quiet awe, followed by some appreciative listening, and a mosaic of quiet moments and dog/human social moments.
My style of appreciation sounds quite simple.
But the simplicity doesn't make it less meaningful, for me. In fact, it ups its daily beauty.
5. Conclude your ritual.
The end of an everyday ceremony of appreciation is a lot like the beginning. Only in reverse.
"My conscience experience is now done," Lisa offers as a possible ritual-ending line.
You're welcome to use my Brooklyn-ese words of appreciation at the end of this post, as well.
And then? Lisa suggests,"take a moment of appreciation for what happened along the way" before you return to the busy buzz of normal life.
So. Before we leave the world of daily appreciation rituals for our busy lives, let's review.
To appreciate everyday life's moments:
Identify. Intend. Engage. Acknowledge. Appreciate.
And that makes me wonder.
Could life be a daily ritual of appreciation?
My Brooklyn-accented inner voice uses my ritual words of intention to weigh in on this idea:
Holy shit. This rocks.
Sounds good to me.
(Want to hear a song of everyday appreciation? Download/stream my song "UH-HUH" from BLAME IT ON HOBOKEN here.)