Tunes for a Monday Morning
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Rituals of beginning

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From dancer/choreographer Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit:

"I begin each day of my life with a ritual: I wake up at 5:30 a.m., put on my workout clothes, my leg warmers, my sweatshirts, and my hat. I walk outside my Manhattan home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to the Pumping Iron gym at 91st Street and 1st Avenue, where I work out for two hours. The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab. The moment I have told the driver where to go, I have completed the ritual.

"It's a simple act, but doing it the same way each morning habitualizes it -- makes it repeatable, easy to do. It reduces the chance that I would skip it or do it differently. It is one more item in my arsenal of routines, and one less thing to think about.

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"Some people might say that simply stumbling out of bed and getting into a taxicab hardly rates the honorific 'ritual.' It glorifies a mundane act that anyone can perform.

"I disagree. First steps are hard; it's no one's idea of fun to wake up in the dark every day and haul one's tired body to the gym. Like everyone, I have days when I wake up, stare at the ceiling, and ask myself, Gee, do I feel like working out today? But the quasi-religious power I attach to this ritual keeps me from rolling over and going back to sleep.

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"A ritual, the Oxford English Dictionary tells me, is 'a prescribed order of performing religious or other devotional service.' All that applies to my morning ritual. Thinking of it as a ritual has a transforming affect on the activity.

"It's vital to establish some rituals -- automatic but decisive patterns of behavior -- at the beginning of the creative process, when you are most at peril of turning back, chickening out, giving up, or going the wrong way.

"Turning something into a ritual eliminates the question, Why am I doing this? By the time I give the taxi driver directions, it's too late to wonder why I'm going to the gym and not snoozing under the warm covers of my bed. The cab is moving. I'm committed."

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What rituals do you use to start your workday, or to help you cross over from the everyday world into the time-bending realm of creavity? This is a discussion I keep returning to (we've spoken about it before here and here) as each season brings new work and health challenges, and as I strive to use my time and energy (my spoons) as wisely as I can.  If you participated in the previous discussions, have your rituals changed in the intervening year? Or, perhaps, are you one of those contrary creative souls for whom the very idea of a ritual or routine is anathema? What helps, what hinders, when you're at your desk or in your studio, and it's time to begin?

Nattadon morning 5 My apologies for the late post today; we're having difficulties with our Internet service.  Images above: These early morning photographs come from a blessed day of sun this past weekend, the landscape glowing, saturated with rain.


I get up remove the cats from the cupboards and work-surfaces they shouldn't be on or in, make tea, rant at the idiots on the radio, take tea up to Clare tell her what I think of the idiots on the radio, go downstairs, remove cats from the cupboards and work- surfaces they shouldn't be on or in, make breakfast, make Clare's packed lunch for work, pack the lunch, get Clare up, come back downstairs, remove the cats from the cupboards and work-surfaces they shouldn't be on or in, wash up, make sure Clare's definitely up, come back downstairs, remove cats from the cupboards and work-surfaces they shouldn't be in or on, wave Clare off to work, go to the shops, do shopping, come back, remove cats from the cupboards and work-surfaces they shouldn't be on or in, read this blog, write a comment and try not to be offensive (doesn't always work) remove cats from the cupboards and work-surfaces they shouldn't be on or in, wonder where the time's gone, decide I need a better ritual

P.S. decide I need a better ritual apart from reading your blog, Terri. it's the only good bit of the ritual.

P.P.S. Remove cats from the cupboards and work-surfaces they shouldn't be on or in

Tea ritual and half an hours read and alternate days some exercises. In winter I go down stairs ,light the woodstove,put the kettle on and pull the curtains . I always light a joss stick and tell myself how lucky I am to have a home and people who love me.

Routine, routine, routine. I totally agree we need to reduce the number of decisions - save that energy for the work itself. I get up at the same time each day, eat breakfast etc, into the studio by nine scrape down my palette and begin. Now spring is here, I'll probably start a little earlier. I'm just on my coffee break now, back to work in ten;)

I tend to wake up at about 5.30 most weekdays; this is my time and special as it is not yet peopled by my boys (all of them). After coming to I tiptoe downstairs and put on the coffee pot, then I turn on the computer. I go back to get my coffee, feed the cat and then return to catch up with family around the world via facebook and then read Myth and Moor if you have posted it. Finally I watch the birds on the garden feeders for about 5 minutes, before going upstairs to rouse the household.

I am fascinated by the rituals and routines we have. I can't read a new book until I have opened the volume at the centre and smelt the pages. My son (Aspergers) has a lot of routines that secure his day. They are the anchors that tie him safely to his mental moorings.

Visiting here first thing in the morning and reading with a mug of tea in hand is one of my favorite rituals of daily beginning.

LOL. I suggest that perhaps you give up on a lost cause with that it really worth all that energy? Because they will always win.

I try to establish spirit-replenishing rituals but I am so resistant to them, much to my detriment.

So I feed the cats, make the coffee, drink the coffee, eat breakfast, check Facebook and blogs,, scoop the litter boxes, sometimes let out/supervise the cats in the backyard for a few minutes, fill the bird feeder...and I usually like to clean at least one thing.

And every so often, maybe twice a week,, I sit at my little altar for a few moments of communion with myself, and feel gratitude for all the blessings. On those days, the day unfolds in a more peaceful way.

And also open all the blinds and check the weather so I know what to wear, or sometimes stick my nose out the door to breathe in the fresh air, if it's too cold to have the windows open.

in the Sunday Times newspaper travel supplement on 24th January, there was a small photograph of a cat and a Bhuddist monk in the Nga Phe Kyaung monastry. The cat was leaping through a hoop, having been trained to do so by the monk. This one small photograph has given me hope that one day I'll be able to train my bloody cats to keep out of the cupboards and off the work-surfaces.

Not much hope admittedly, but I continue to aspire!!!

I have visions of a collective of Myth and Moor readers, holding mugs to their lips whilst drinking in Terri's blog. It would appear you are our daily ritual Terri.

My morning ritual varies from season to season but there are elements that remain the same always: candles are lit at my altar(s) and at my writing table, some gentle yoga, a walk outside, a cup of strong coffee, paper and pen-that is the fundamental skeleton and it does not waver-as usual I loved this and I had been thinking about reading the Creative Habit-now I'm sold!

The portable cats...This is so funny and charming.

gathering the energies here to begin the next illustration with the New Moon this morning in another hour and a half... this is the half way point, song no 20 in this ongoing project of illustrating my partner Old Man Crow's lifetime of songwriting... each one drawn in the space from New Moon to Full then resolved and released by the next New Moon and so it goes... til 2015 when all the drawings will be tweaked with a dash of red added in then the final decisions about layout & font with a launch booked at the local gallery for 2016. Howz that for organization? but I'm the craftsman in this duo, Old Man Crow is the writer, the flight of ideas mercurial man... there is no formula to how it comes out, he writes what & when his muse commands... I've seen him pull over to the edge of the freeway to scribble down the next line... whole songs come out in one night... sometimes... others take decades to complete... it's interesting to observe other creative folks rituals here whilst I'm dithering at the edge of the pool for another hour and a quarter now!

My morning rituals of making coffee, drinking coffee, journaling three pages and then getting caught up with email and reading my favorite blogs (like this one), usually mean that I’m late for work most days.

Arriving home from work, it’s a quick change into stretchy clothing so I can do yoga to soothe away work stress. Then make tea and set the timer to write for an hour (and try not to let anything distract me).

I’m now working on a post writing ritual – something to return fully back to the present and shake off the world I was creating, which is sometimes a scary place. Playing my flute for a while helps but I need to come up with something to quiet my mind a bit more.

So true, but in different time zones.

I love your cats. :-)

Birdie, there's actually such a thing as "decision fatigue" which saps one's energy. Routines cut down the number of extraneous decisions one has to make (will I go to work now? will I avoid the internet now? etc.), and that's important -- particularly for people like me with a chronic health problem that keeps energy in short supply.

Here's the NY Times article on decision fatigue, in case anyone missed it:

Awww, shucks....

I think you'll like it, Bri. She also has a good book on creative collaboration.

That's a very interesting concept, the post-writing ritual. I'm going to mull over that one for awhile.... Thank you.

Thank you! You are so right, and I spend way too much time wavering and second-guessing pretty minor decisions. Finally I had to establish a rule: whatever my first impulse is, follow it. There is no right or wrong in so many of these things!

There are times, Phyllis, when I wish the cats were "trans-portable"!

Sometimes I love them too!!

I wish I had a ritual that I could rely on to get me going and into the right headspace, but mostly I'm running to catch up, everything is chaos and no two days are the same. I haven't read the NYT article but I suspect that's me all the way. I'm chronically disorganised in the 'macro' aspect of my life. I can be super organised in micro events, like my exhibition coming up, but the 'big picture' is all over the place which means I'm making decisions all the time about stuff that really shouldn't be mulled over at all. But I suppose I've muddled through life this far, and I'm probably too old to change now!

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