Since Mause came to live with us, I keep the Unicorn Room closed. She likes to beleaguer the unicorns. When I open the door, the smell of smoked herbs releases endorphins; my mind readies to meditate. I’ve learned to establish daily rituals around my creativity, writing, and self-care. Ritual can be anything from sitting with a devotional and mug of hot coffee to smudging the four directions to walking with the rising sun. It’s simply any process you repeat to connect inward before going outward into your day. The seasons change our rituals, as do the days of the week.
We writers are multidimensional beings.
The Unicorn Room is sacred space. The kind any seven-year-old girl would love and feel safe. When I was a child and didn’t feel safe, I often hid in closets. Even today, I love to hunker into a down sleeping bag and tuck my head inside. As an adult, I’ve craved my own space which I carved out in strange ways, sharing space with family and critters — my end of the couch next to a bookshelf where I could set a cup of tea and store my writing journals; my side of the bedroom kept neat and tidy with inspirational art; the kitchen where food becomes art and love.
My home on Roberts Street has a room for me. The walls are shell-pink, a lavender shag rug covers the hardwood floor, purple script encourages me to “Read, Dream, Write, Breathe, and Play,” and a bookshelf holds my collection of rocks. One wall is dedicated to planning novels, and tapestries and a unicorn quilt decorate the remainder. I like to smudge, play meditative music, and sit on my purple meditation pillow. I use the Calm app to meditate. From where I sit and breathe, I can contemplate my W-story board with goals and progress and my giant vision board that shows character arc and plot. A single tall window with a gauze turquoise curtain allows light and air. Best of all, I can close the door.
Mause joins me in meditating. Every morning, when I rise I set the kettle to boil. I prepare a cup of hot lemon water with a pinch of chipotle, a dab of honey, and a teaspoon of dried elderberry. It’s my morning anti-Covid cocktail based on an anti-viral health tonic. I have no proof it works, but it cleans my kidneys and offers a dose of immunity support. Not to mention, it’s tasty. At the same time, I brew a press pot of coffee and let it steep while I go to the Unicorn Room with a puppy fast on my heels.
Usually, said puppy barks at me when I smudge. When I last walked with the People of the Heart Water Walkers, we took turns smudging each other. If someone felt frustrated, another would say, “Burn the sage!” The smell reminds me of the West where I rode my horse as a kid. Sagebrush is a part of me. But I’m also aware that the popularity of sage smudging raises ethical issues of use. I only burn that which is gifted to me from those who grow it or traditionally harvest it as medicine. This year I will grow my own smudge sticks from garden herbs. No matter the smoke, Mause barks. She’d be a pain if I chain-smoked!
My latest meditation essentials include a jar of chewy puppy treats, a clicker, a small puppy chew, and a rope carrot. If you want to test your ability to relax under any conditions, meditate with a puppy. With the treats and clicker, I’ve taught Mause, “Downward Dog.” She collapses across my legs or lap. I make her “Wait… wait… wait…,” taking deep breaths each command. Eventually, she settles down and by the time I get to my Daily Calm, she’s either out like a light or out the door.
My writing rituals include clearing my desk, filling my water bottle with cold tap, and looking at my weekly calendar with tasks, goals, and small steps. By the time I turn on my computer, I’m sucked into a vortex like a portal to another world. Mause is my anchor to the real world. Puppies don’t let you venture far without them. But she does like to curl up on my chest — a difficult feat as she now weighs 25 pounds and stretches out three feet — and listen to my heart. In a Covid world, I’m grateful for the warm snuggle.
A friend of mine makes ritual of coffee every morning. Another sits with her prayer list. My next door neighbor used to be a postal carrier, and he follows the ritual of a morning walk. Rituals can form habits. And writers need habits to create, process, draft and revise. It’s too easy to put off writing when our brains feel like pea soup. We cultivate small increments and squirrel away safe spaces so that we can come to it every day. We make it a ritual so we easily fall into the pattern of use.
On my way out of the Unicorn Room this morning, I tinkered with my poetry board, words on magnets. One phrase caught me — “deep wishes.” I an instant I followed a storm of dandelion seeds and swooshed below the earth’s crust in an ore cart to a crystalline cave. I thought I’d see where writers would dive with the phrase.
March 11, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about deep wishes. Where is the deep — in the sky, the ground, or outer space? What kind of wishes reside there for whom and why? Go where the prompt leads!
Respond by March 16, 2021. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form. Rules & Guidelines.
Waiting to Rise by Charli Mills
Lake Superior doesn’t freeze flat like a pond. She’s a non-conformist to the ways of domesticated bodies of water. Into the night, she goes screaming, waves punching with each yell. She thrashes, her hips undulating with deep wishes unfulfilled. When they force her into cold compliance, she fights back. The shock of winter marriage doesn’t smooth her wild edges. Ice grabs hold, insistent, freezing her shoreline, paralyzing her economy. She plunges deep and draws her strength, cracking the façade they give her. Ice fractures over and over. Wishes caught and released, shared among women waiting their turn to rise.