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Fall 2010 Ritual Enews

Fall 2010 Ritual Enews

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Published by Meg Cox
Seasonal Ideas for Family Traditions
Seasonal Ideas for Family Traditions

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Published by: Meg Cox on Oct 06, 2010
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02/01/2014

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MEG COXS RITUAL NEWSLETTERFALL 2010Hello, everyone! Boy, I have really missed communicating on thistopic, with this group.This is my first ritual newsletter for 2010, I realize, but I amcommitted to getting back into the swing and producing a new issuequarterly.THANK YOU, STARBUCKSI was in New York City the other day and saw this sort of crudestencil on the glass door of a coffee shop. It showed a white cup withsquiggly lines shooting up from the top, like steam, and the words: TakeComfort in Rituals. I did a double-take and thought, Wow. Great message.Then, pushing through the door and into the shop, I realized it was a Starbucks, and that Take Comfort in Rituals is the chains newmarketing slogan. I subsequently went online and discovered that manypeople have had the same experience I did, reacting positively to themessage and then realizing with a little shock that this wasnt some localproprietor trying to inspire his customers, but a giant corporation tryingto herd us into line.I dont think Ive seen an article or book on frugality lately that didnt mention cutting out frills like $4 lattes in order to save money ina recession. So this is clearly a bold attempt by Starbucks to challengethat way of thinking, to tell customers that indulging in a Pumpkin SpiceLatte isnt a silly, guilty pleasure, but a comforting, sustaining ritual.Suggesting that maybe a little ritual treat like this is the recipe forsurviving hard times, rather than giving in to total self-denial anddespair.I was fascinated to see how many of the blogs that werecommenting on the Starbucks campaign were written by ministers orhad a religious theme. Some took pains to explain a difference betweenrituals and ritual, others took pains to discuss how the rituals of Christianity can be taxing but worthwhile, but quite a number of postersseemed discomfited by the whole thing.
 
For my part, I think this was truly brilliant marketing, and to theextent that it does get people thinking and conversing about themeaning and value of small rituals in their daily life, Im very grateful.A GIFT THAT IS ALSO A RITUAL: VOICE QUILTOne of the reasons I was especially eager to write this newsletteris to share my experience with something called a VoiceQuilt. Last spring, my husband celebrated a milestone birthday and I wanted to dosomething memorable involving the whole extended family.I had heard there was something called a Voice Quilt that included good wishes and recorded messages from a bunch of peopleand decided to check it out. It sounds like a basic concept and works likevoicemail, but if you follow directions and organize it thoughtfully, youcan create something that will make the recipient feel truly celebrated.Its good to give people very specific instructions so there is somekind of a theme to the final recording, so it isnt just 15 people in a rowsinging Happy Birthday. I wanted this to sound more like an audioversion of This is Your Life rather than a random sampling of voicemail messages. Everyone on my list was asked to share a memoryor tell a story about why my husband was so important to them. Themaximum message is only about 4 minutes, which is plenty of time and Imade sure they all understood that after recording the message, theycould listen to it and if they didnt love it, delete it and start over.The folks who run the company send you an e-mail every timesomeone records a message, so you can follow up with stragglers. Then,you assemble the messages in some kind of order (like a playlist foryour iPod) and record a special framing message at the beginning andend. For my husband, the message-leavers ran the gamut from his 2-year-old granddaughter to his 92-year-old godmother. While I wasrecording the ending comment, I had my husbands favorite songplaying in the background, Someone to Watch Over Me, and I explained,These are all the people watching over
 you. 
These message compilations can simply be downloaded onto aCD, but I opted to buy a handsome box, like a music box, for myhusbands VoiceQuilt. It was gorgeous. And when he opened it, duringhis party, most of the people who had recorded messages were present.
 
We all sat and listened to the whole thing  about 20 minutestogether.It was incredibly moving: my husband said it was the best gift he evergot in his lifetime. For all of us, it was a very special ritual.I think this product can add a lot to many celebrations, includingretirement parties and big anniversaries. Im told some people fill themwith messages of hope and healing for friends and family membersbattling life-threatening illnesses. And I know somebody who is going tocreate a Memories Box for her mother, recently diagnosed withAlzheimers.Just so we are clear, Im not affiliated in any way with thiscompany! For more info, go to their website, www.voicequilt.com.A SIMPLE NEW RITUAL WITH MY HUSBANDYou all know I am a real fan of super simple rituals and it doesnt get much simpler than this: every day, when possible, my husband and Itake a walk on our street. This is usually in the morning and we walk thestreet several times. We simply walk and talk, and sometimes lately wetake turns kicking acorns down the road.But Ive been amazed at how much this very basic ritual helpssustain us and feel connected. Just having that time without pressure totalk about whatever is going on in our lives has really helped us feelclose. Tiny misunderstandings dont build up into something big. We areable to made decisions on family matters in a calm way.You know, Ive preached for years about the importance of dailyrituals of connection, and this one has reminded me how profoundlyhelpful they are.RITUALS OF PHILANTHROPY: BLOGGER GIVES AWAY $100 DAILYIve written in the past about the idea of philanthropy as a ritual,something threaded through ones life, often taking on overtones of aspiritual practice.The most amazing practitioner of this Ive found is BettyLondergan, who has been giving away $100 a day all year and writingabout it on her blog, What Gives 365. I met a friend of Bettys at adinner party and the next thing you know, I had convinced Betty to

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