The tale of the owl: Routines and Rituals

This weekend has been – for me – a weekend of contentment. I’ve gone about very routine, domestic tasks -those that keep the house running smoothly – with a very light heart.  I am thankful. I’ve not felt rushed or stressed. On occasion I admit that it felt as though I was not being productive (as if productivity is the litmus test of a well-lived life!!!) but then quickly realised I’d actually done a lot of thing that needed doing without stress.

So what then had changed?

I got up relatively early on both Saturday and Sunday. By early I mean I got up by 8.30, but as I’d slept until then (not been disturbed by someone/something or pressed a snooze button) it wasn’t hard to get up ‘early’. Well, that’s not quite true. Our house – for reasons of economy and environmental friendliness – isn’t really as warm as I’d like this winter – so stepping out of a warm bed into more hostile cooler air is always going to be a bit of a mental battle for me! But it is one I’m able to overcome – I am English after all!  (I grew up in England in an era where central heating and double glazing were not the norm (I’m not sure they are even today!!) which means homes aren’t nearly as warm and cozy as I would like! What’s more English houses are generally draughty – front doors from the living area often even open right onto the street – so draught excluders – like these – are commonplace. I even found an owl one!


Secondly, I had a routine this weekend.
It was a routine that took others in our household into consideration, but which nonetheless felt that I had chosen for myself.

It looked a bit like this:

On Friday early evening I went swimming/steam room/sauna (while hubby took care of going to the vets and taking dogs for a forest walk) which was a fantastic start to the weekend for me. Hubby had supper from food I’d set aside from lunch I’d had with a friend which meant I got to spend the rest of the evening  by the fire keeping warm and reading and making notes.

Sat /Sunday
After breakfast I went for a nice dogwalk in the snow (armed with camera) with my husband. Both walks were different, neither walk was too long and the dogs were well behaved. Hubby wanted to try out his new camera which gave me time to take photos – which for me is the main point of going for the walk anyway!

On Saturday immediately after the dog walk I did a very quick trip the store, first to drop off the recycling and then buy some groceries. On Sunday hubby left after the walk for a dog obedience test which meant I was home alone. Getting that space is important for me to re-charge my batteries. I don’t score particularly high on the introvert scale, but it’s there. I love time alone – just not too much of it and not too often – because being with others does drain me of energy.

Thirdly, I wasn’t a slave to our regular meal times.
We haven’t eaten differently this weekend, (January is a time we traditionally eat well  – and more protein than usual – because we work through what’s already in our freezer (things bought for high days and holidays over the Christmas period but which were not needed) but we’ve eaten meals at times it’s suited me best.

Breakfast at 9ish before the dog walks (second breakfast for hubby!)

Late Lunch  – on Saturday with family, on Sunday just the two of us (quite late, both days definitely later than my husband’s normal preference, but because he knew in advance it would be like this he could revert to hobbit practices and have ‘a second or even third breakfast’ which always works well.

And no cooked supper:  This is important!
I had already made the decision only to cook once on each day of the weekend (again not hubby’s preference, he’d really like two freshly prepared warm meals!) but because I’d made it clear that I wasn’t going to do this – it gave him the freedom to cook himself something on Saturday evening. It takes so much pressure off me to do this – and maybe this blog – and my journey with the parliament of owls – can remind me : Setting this boundary is actually good for me and for the whole household.

So how has this owl spent the rest of her time this weekend?
What’s made it less stressful and more pleasurable?

I’ve read, made notes and pottered around doing chores (doing the laundry, folding the now-dry bed linen, tidying my sock drawer etc) and lesson preparation but making the latter fit in with my reading and writing rather than vice versa.

I’m reading about the Spanish Civil war at the moment – and it’s fascinating – and I feel good that I’ve been able to carve out time at home this weekend to really get into this. That’s another thing I need to remember – I don’t have to do other things to earn reading/writing time – I can choose to prioritise them without letting the house fall apart around me-or fear that it will –  (I can’t rest or relax if it’s too dirty, too cluttered, or too noisy!)  Additionally I’ve had the chance to chat with a friend (online) about my reading which has also added to the enjoyment.

Both Friday and Saturday nights I sat by the fire, usually alone (for most of the time) reading –  and enjoying an Irish coffee – as I read or scribble notes. Last night I also watched a bit of TV (on my ipad) tucked up warm in bed . All good!

What does any of this have to do with owls in the wild?
Nothing much to be honest! I found an old blog  ‘How writers, artists and other interesting people organise their days’ (here) It looks at drinkers, drug users, early risers, exercises, nap takers, night owls (which is how I found the site), procrastinators and smokers and which was made into a book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, in 2013.

Did you know …

Freud worked sixteen hours a day, but Gertrude Stein could never write for more than thirty minutes, and F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in gin-fuelled bursts – he believed alcohol was essential to his creative process.

That underlines to me how different we all are – and how important it is for us to find routines and rituals which help us live life to the full! How important it is for me to be a wise old owl and find those rites, rituals and routines that are good for me and to find healthy ways to put this learning into practice!

The quote I liked the best was this one

I really dislike afternoons, whatever’s happening. (Kingsley Amis)

I like it because I can relate to it. At 3pm every afternoon -more or less without fail- I flag. It’s the time when I almost always have the least energy – when I most need to change what I’m doing -and when necessary flop and take a life-saving, life-bringing nap.
I wonder if that’s why the Brits traditionally had afternoon tea at 3pm?

Do owls drink tea, I wonder. Do they have rites, rituals and routines that restore balance to their lives? Do they have ‘bad-hair days’ when everything has gone awry and their inner peace evaporates? Do their survival strategies kick in and save the day? Who knows … but I do know that this blog is helping me explore who I am and what makes me tick well.

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