A few days go by where I find myself jumping out of bed directly into action. Productivity. Yang. Application. Leaning forward. Being a mom. An educator. Available. An activist. An artist. A writer. A wife. A hostess. In no particular order. The greater share of this orientation being toward service, giving, showing up.

This morning, however, I wake before everyone else, even our sweet pups. Rare, as we often rouse in unison. Or if I was writing until the wee hours of the night (I am nothing if not a nocturnal artist whose lifestyle and rhythms have had to adjust with becoming a momma), my husband granting me the greatest gift of an extra couple of hours. Add this to list of reasons I adore him.

I slip out of bed onto the balcony. Deep breath. My lower back hurts from having slept in an awkward position. My quads feel strong from soulcycle yesterday. It is quiet. I feel vulnerable. I yearn for what ritual provides me:

— a presence in my body
— intentionality
— gratitude
— discernment (so many yes’s and no’s to respond to the many requests for my participation, time, consideration. how can I know what my answer is without giving myself a moment to tune in?)

With my eyes closed, I can smell this California air. See the hummingbird. The dragonfly. I can fill my cup (although not with coffee for the time being, this is an experiment).

I am crying now. Grief that I tucked into my chest for how many other things have sprung to the higher regions of my list of priorities. Anyone who says putting yourself first above your young child(ren) must have a value system that diverges from mine. Or perhaps they meant after your child turns 18. My son ever’s well-being and my connection with my husband souleye, as well as my feeling that I am contributing to this planet, often trump the hours alone that my temperament and body crave. But not this morning.

This morning, with a lawn chair perfectly placed to avoid a sunburn, I avail myself of the magic of this southern California “fall” weather with the perfect book on my lap—this particular morning: Women’s Power to Heal by Maya Tiwari. Along with many other gems throughout this book, maya extols the virtues of ritual. And I am reminded of how anchored I feel when I have this kind of triumvirate moment: reading, contemplating, writing. cyclical. opening. reliable. bringing my thoughts, in all their erratic-ness and scariness and brilliance and silliness, into my awareness. dropping me into my heart, into my feelings: sad, excited, afraid, calm, happy, strong (if that’s a feeling, which I don’t think it is. There is rarely a time where there is only ONE feeling. I am a sensitive, after all).

This reading-reflecting-writing ritual kickstarts further rituals, each characterized by the tender and generous energy of allowing…

It allows for looking within for answers, clarity, mission-full-ness, kindness. It allows for the repressed tears, and for the boundaries-borne-from-frustration. It allows for appreciation. It allows for nurturance of a friendship in the form of an email. It allows for clarity around what charity to participate in, and what article to write.

These tears and this deep breathing—they make space for the channeling of art, messages, wisdoms, ideas. Which makes space for shifts and brave steps and visions and transformations and returns-home. This reflective time allows for a re-setting.

There is no candle required this morning, with how gleaming the sun is on my neck. I will save that for just before sleep. When the house is quiet. And it is time to turn within.