Contemplative Motherhood Podcast

Creating Rituals: Transforming Our Rhythms and Routines

June 27, 2021 Erin Thomas & Chelsea Whipple Season 1 Episode 6
Creating Rituals: Transforming Our Rhythms and Routines
Contemplative Motherhood Podcast
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Contemplative Motherhood Podcast
Creating Rituals: Transforming Our Rhythms and Routines
Jun 27, 2021 Season 1 Episode 6
Erin Thomas & Chelsea Whipple

In this episode Erin and Chelsea tackle our everyday mundane routines and rhythms and transform them into a Sacred Connectedness. What does that mean? Finding that the everyday mundane can be an invitation to enter a Sacred space. When we stay present in these activities they can become rituals. Rituals that begin to open a Divine Presence surrounding us while we do laundry, dishes, drive kids around, pick up the same toys over and over, etc.

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode Erin and Chelsea tackle our everyday mundane routines and rhythms and transform them into a Sacred Connectedness. What does that mean? Finding that the everyday mundane can be an invitation to enter a Sacred space. When we stay present in these activities they can become rituals. Rituals that begin to open a Divine Presence surrounding us while we do laundry, dishes, drive kids around, pick up the same toys over and over, etc.

Chelsea Whipple  0:06  

You are listening to the contemplative motherhood podcast, my name is Chelsea, I'm a teacher, practitioner, spiritual director and pilgrim.

Erin Thomas  0:15  

And I'm Erin, a creative homeschool educator, counselor, and spiritual seeker, listen in as we dive deeper into the contemplative lifestyle, through hearing about each of our lives.

Chelsea Whipple  0:28  

You'll hear our triumphs, failures, practices and mistakes as we journey together. You might even hear a kid or two in the background.

Erin Thomas  0:36  

So grab some coffee, tea, curl up and take off your shoes. You are welcome here. Now let's get started. 

Welcome to another episode of the contemplative motherhood podcast guys, I am Erin and I am super excited to be here with you again today. I'm here with my closest friend Chelsea, I think we could say that at this point.

Chelsea Whipple  1:02  

The Anam Cara, here we go. Very good.

Erin Thomas  1:06  

And we are going to talk about the beauty of sacred connectedness, rituals, rhythms and routine. And I'm really excited about this episode,I don't know if everyone, 

Chelsea Whipple  1:20  

but you're too excited for that.

Erin Thomas  1:23  

I don't know if everyone will be as excited.

Chelsea Whipple  1:29  

Maybe towards the end I don't know.

Erin Thomas  1:31  

Let's see. Um, so we're going to talk about rhythms, rituals and routines, so that 25 times.

Chelsea Whipple  1:41  

Peter Piper...

Erin Thomas  1:43  

and Chelsea was so gracious to sort of lead us off in this conversation and I feel like this is something that we've talked about before in various conversations but I'm excited to hear your thoughts on this and flesh this out a little bit. So within the lifestyle of contemplative motherhood, how can we turn our everyday routines, into purposeful rituals and rhythm. Chelsea. I'm excited.

Chelsea Whipple  2:15  

Okay, I'm going to start us off with a truth reality in my life. I do not like routines. I hate routines, okay, no no no not hate, I love those routines, and I am not a fan of predictability. Yet, I need routines, especially Chelsea who is a procrastinator, I need routines. I need routines as much as my kids need routines. You know I need the predictability of what comes next. It helps you know my brain to not have to be in overdrive so much, which feels like it just can overheat. A lot of times 

Erin Thomas  3:04  

The infamous overheat. 

Chelsea Whipple  3:05  

Yeah, there we go that should be a new thing, I'm sorry, my brain is overheating right now, but I need to know what comes next, like, I need to know what is a typical day, I mean we all know as moms like your typical day is kind of, I don't know it's laughable to be like, what's my typical day, but you know, we have some predictability in our routines, you know, from usually the times you eat, the times you go to sleep, your laundry days, your activities, you know, on and on, things might change throughout the day but you know things are kind of primarily in their order. And so I need it, but that does not necessarily mean I like routines. So I'm going to use an example. And Erin and I were just talking about this. Yeah, laundry day. I know so laundry day for me is typically friday. I do have a set day that I like to do laundry, it is been like that for years, they are typically my light work days that I work from home. Sometimes I don't have kids because they're in school. And so, I know. And so they'd be Yeah, wasn't like this during the pandemic but, so they're my more housecleaning day. So Friday is my laundry day okay we get that established, I don't look forward to Friday's being laundry days but it's what happens. And so you know Friday rolls around, it's kind of like yay it's Friday TGIF, and I'm like, Ah, means house cleaning, that means laundry. All right. Okay, here we go. I'm not going to go into dishes Day, which I don't know about you, but dishes day is every day, and I definitely loathe dishes.

Erin Thomas  4:40  

That's my application so I'm, yeah, okay, okay, okay,

Chelsea Whipple  4:45  

I'm gonna get us back on the subject, I won't go too much of a rabbit hole because I could literally talk about how much I dislike, all of this for a while but I'm not going to do that. Okay, so I hope you y'all know I am not a fan of routines, predictability, but again, they make my days more organized my brain doesn't overheat, as much, because I can just do you know you don't have to think you're just going along with emotions, basically. 

Now, as I walk through life in a contemplative manner. One thing that has been a great asset to me, is understanding that routines, you know the routines that I loathe can be more than just a mindless movement throughout the day. They can be transformed into a purposeful ritual. Now I like the word ritual. I know Erin might use another word for the same thing as more of a rhythm or her routines or rhythms, but for the, for me, the word ritual immediately brings me into a stance of sacredness. So I enjoy lots of rituals in my faith tradition, and how I connect to the Spirit. So for me when I go to a church service for example, everything that's tangible, so everything that I use my five senses for, and everything that's intangible during the service, which I use the word intangible you know something that goes deeper than words, something that's happening that you can't describe. So every tangible and intangible has a different meaning for for this ritual, you know, even from the direction the church faces, to the long walk to the altar rail for me to receive a sacrament to the rhythm of watching the incense flow back and forth and smelling the incense. There's lots of stained glass windows in the church that I attend, and the light just penetrating those colors I mean just a vast brightness of rainbow colors everywhere. You know, and all the way down to the words repeated over and over and that mantra like voice.

Erin Thomas  7:10  

This is so interesting to me, friend because, first of all you describe this in a very tangible way. And it makes me interested in this connection of sort of your sacred experiences within your faith tradition. And how does that tie into these anchoring points of ritual and things like seem less spiritual or less sacred right housework, chores. Yeah, those things. Yeah,

Chelsea Whipple  7:43  

so this is going to be fun. I hope so. Because like how do you make laundry day into a ritual. I don't make something that you do. That's just has to be done, you just have to get it done. You can't, you know, like, I'll admit, there have been times in my life where I'm like kids just pick out clothes in the laundry basket is good, you don't care about wrinkled clothes right now. Anyway, but it has to be done, you know, so in order, you know, 

so you think what makes a ritual ritual? What makes ritual, a sacred act? And one of the things is that it's purposeful, You know, it can almost be purposeful in the way that it opens up the sacred, and then as you do it more and more and more. It's not that you're thinking about it as much, but then something triggers, And you notice that for the first time. 

Erin Thomas  8:44  


Chelsea Whipple  8:45  

And I'll dive a little bit deeper into, into what that means, especially when it comes to laundries, because I'm gonna use laundry as my example if you can't tell by now but, so I read a book recently that talked about making everything you do become an act in the presence of the holy, and it was by written, oh gosh, I'm so gonna butcher it, but it was early 10th to 14th century work. And it was a monk, who had to do chores, every single day. And what he wanted to do was to figure out how do I find the Presence, the holiness in this ritual in this routine that I do every day to make it a ritual, and he never expected it to be published, somebody found his notes afterwards and they connected because he would write letters kind of like a spiritual director so he would write letters back and forth to people who would, you know come seeking spiritual advice or you know just kind of talk with him and he'd listen. So anyways, that opened a whole new Act of, you know, what can I do to invite the presence and not make it another you know another to do thing I have to do. And so taking laundry day. It was a slow act of really allowing myself to breathe in the presence of the Divine and ask. This sounds silly but to do laundry with me, and to make this a spiritual practice. And you know sometimes it's a silent act where I'm just present, I'm not talking, I'm not verbalizing anything, sometimes it's just a smile, sometimes it's just a noticing the very act of what I'm doing, but I have found in just like this book says that the intentional mind becomes more joyful, you become more aware of what you're doing. And it starts to give energy to the act itself, and not just a, another thing to do to check off the to do list.

Erin Thomas  11:03  

Yeah, that's huge. That's a huge deal.

Chelsea Whipple  11:06  

Yeah, yeah, and you know just to go into this briefly, but I, it's not about it being kind of a pious activity. 

Erin Thomas  11:17  


Chelsea Whipple  11:18  

so if you're familiar with piety. I, the tradition that I grew up in, has the habit of making you feel guilty for not praying enough, not attending church enough, not being involved enough, maybe not even believing enough. And I have to admit, like I don't really fall, I don't fall into the guilt like that's just never where I have found myself but I know a lot of people do. And so it's not like, oh I have free time I need to dedicate this time to God. And so we see it as like almost a task list kind of a thing. Right. But what I'm trying to kind of orient this to in a, Erin I know you're going to dive deeper I can feel it into this a lot more, is it it's not about guilt or another thing to do, it's about just being present, and whatever that means to you. So again, it's not about praying at that time if you feel led to great do that, or have a conversation. If you feel led to great to that. If you feel like just being silent, it's just really noticing the act of you're doing, noticing the soap that you're putting in the laundry that you're putting in even noticing the clothes that you see, you know, if you see all bathing suits and towels. Oh, what a great week we had, we got to go swimming and all that kind of thing, and we're even reflecting on the joyous moments with the clothes that you see.

Erin Thomas  12:51  

Look at all this dirt.

Chelsea Whipple  12:53  

Yeah, Sometimes, sometimes it's finding a toy in the bottom, and literally reflecting like, do you think they accidentally throw a toy in here, or do you think, because sometimes my youngest will throw things places for me to find. I'm like, Oh, did he do this for me to find. I know, it's fun.

Erin Thomas  13:13  

I love it.

Chelsea Whipple  13:14  

Yeah. And you know, even with that, you know, so my youngest, who's almost four, he's just, he teaches me so much I mean they all do, but he's at that stage where he wants to help, and we all know sometimes you just want to get it done. But this ritual, as you know, so when he comes and barges in and wants to help me, you know usually spilling the soap and talking so much and I can't hear him and I need him to slow down and I just want to put laundry in, but with the ritual, you know, it's like you don't, you notice that you don't get so annoyed. And it almost becomes a sacred act between the two of us something we get to share together, you know, and enjoying our presence together, and you know, seen as joy on his face, of helping, you know that is just always when you take the moment to notice the joy of when you said yes you can help and how excited they are. 

Erin Thomas  14:13  


Chelsea Whipple  14:15  

And, you know it may sound silly, but, you know, try it, see if it does not transform a routine into a sacred ritual, you know, and it works with everything you do in an ordinary day, getting dressed, eating, breathing, working, driving, etc. You know, it's, again, the spiritual practice is just about that intentionality of the act that we're doing as spiritual seekers, sort of opens our mind to the possibility of the Divine Presence is surrounding us and with us at all times, in whatever we are doing in the ordinary ordinariness of our lives. And if you're a consistent listener by now hopefully you can repeat this phrase, but it reveals the extraordinary in the ordinary. And what I am finding, because this is still a fairly new practice to me, that is really starting to make an impact. And I noticed how my mind becomes focused on the task at hand. It is not jumping all over the place to what is next, like I'm a big next person, when I'm doing a task I'm always thinking about what's ahead. What what do I still need to accomplish for that day what's next, and this and that, that can put that can overheat the brain. And so to me it's like, I don't, I can't even think about that because I'm so focused on the task at hand. That why am I worrying about something that's, I still have to do next, and not, you know, looking at what I'm doing right now. 

So, you know, and really during this time I'm honed in during this rirtual time of being present to the smell of fresh, fresh, laundry, as I pull it from the dryer, know the warmth of the clothes in my hand. And let me tell you the feeling of folding the last piece of clothes, and breathing a sigh of relief. 

Erin Thomas  16:21  

It's a big deal. 

Chelsea Whipple  16:22  

It is like, you know, and it feels like just revealing the honest of ordinary life, like it seems so simple and so like a little bit out there, but it's just realizing the honestiness of ordinary life of things that we do all the time, you know that sometimes the mundane can possibly open the door to absolute creativity, like just amazingness of the intricacies of our world and what we do all the time. And what we notice and what we don't notice. You know, and it gives me energy. It breathes life into the day, it the day doesn't become so boring, of, you know chores, I need to get done before, school's out or you know whatever dinner needs to be ready. And it doesn't leave me that tired feeling that sometimes routines can do. And in a sense it renews my mind, body, spirit, and soul.

Erin Thomas  17:34  

I love that so much, and part of the reason I love that is because at that point, most of us would not think of laundry as like this rejuvenating experience right. Yeah, but I think it's really important to sit in that space and Chelsea make such a good portion, and of explaining the details of what it's like to experience this within the contemplative practice. I, I think it's important that we sit within that space of this connectedness and where does that lead us to. I'm just sort of flabbergasted by your thoughts on this because I had not thought of laundry and that way, I think, ever. So I'm super appreciative. 

Chelsea Whipple  18:27  

I do think about, you know, what about dishes, I won't go into dishes but, you know. So Erin, I can't wait. And I'd love if you would, you know, take us even deeper, you know, into your thoughts of how we can turn these routines into purpose, purposeful rituals and rhythms.

Erin Thomas  18:47  

Yeah, no pressure.

Chelsea Whipple  18:52  

Take it away Erin

Erin Thomas  18:53  

no I am really chewing on a lot of what you said and you know we've talked about this in multiple conversations but because it's been, it's been on my mind and my heart a lot recently. And and I think, in a sense I do reiterate what you're saying that I think one of the things that's most important. In contemplative motherhood is to recognize that the anchor point of the rhythms and routines are representative of so much more than the chores we complete them, charts we create for our children or for themselves. I don't know if your chart lady, I'm a chart lady.

Chelsea Whipple  19:35  

Oh my gosh, we need to give you a clap for that one, that they represent so much more love it.

Erin Thomas  19:42  

Yeah. So I think let's let's talk a little bit about the application of a ritual here and you did such a great job of fleshing that out. And so I just kind of want to point out a personal example of how maybe it's perhaps the chore that you did. But, you know, I think what most of us there always does seem to be the task that needs to be completed that just isn't our favorite right. Yep, that's just real life, and as a result, I found myself and still do on days when I'm off balance, a bit procrastinating this task, or this everyday mundane activity because of that mindset, because of that sort of negativity that is so easy for me to associate with it, and you know it's super easy for me to say like I hate dishes

Chelsea Whipple  20:42  

like that, you know, we should all just like declare out what we don't like, like it's okay, I don't like this, I don't like this. Yes, it is,

Erin Thomas  20:51  

it is, and it's okay to confess that you don't like that. Right, yes. But part of the contemplative practice and being a contemplative mother for me, has meant sometimes looking a little bit more past that, for me. My example is dishes. They have always piled up in our home, and I don't know if you all have that one kid who, like uses 10,000 cups. I don't understand. I mean, I can write your name, water bottle. I can buy you the pretty fancy label but we must use 10,000 and, you know. Yeah, I mean that's just one of my children so that's just facts. And anyway, I would find myself, irritated, every single time I did the dishes, and I'm not saying that I'm getting to this point where I like hop and skip to the sink, Okay. That's not what happens. You know, when the time came, and I sat in sort of that space of why I had this irritation. For the purpose of exploring my everyday life and finding the sacred within the mundane activities. I realized that part of it was this physical act of me desiring just to ignore these everyday activities, because I really ultimately thought, you know, what do they really add value or worth to anything. And, like, does anyone really notice these 10,000 cups. And I think if we're all sort of honest, maybe we've had a point in our lives in which we have struggled to find whether or not this act of whatever we're doing or this work that we're doing. Does it add value, or is it worth anything? And ultimately I realized that this physical act had no deeper meaning to me, and I just, like, didn't want to do it, frankly. 

But I think at some point, like you Chelsea I began to invite the divine into this place with me, and this was where there were sort of a stopping moment, you know, one of those things where the light bulb just goes off and I'm going. Why, I can just invite the divine to be present with me in this everyday life activity? It seems like such a simple concept but actually doing that practice is so challenging. And you mentioned this, And for you this was the laundry, and what that represented to you. For me it was very similar I started noticing things that I had not noticed before. The plates that represented a meal around the table of laughing, or a meal that didn't go as planned and ended with a burnt plate. It's happened a lot or something, so sweet, the little knives with the peanut butter, still on them. As I, my kids are starting to make their own sandwiches. Now if you put the peanut butter knife on the countertop I might have a different reaction. But again, you know, recognizing this knife with a peanut butter is that my child is teaching himself how to make sandwich. And those really annoying 10,000 cups were a result of lots of playing outside, and my youngest daughter says I desperately need water for my tongue. 

Chelsea Whipple  24:49  

I love that. 

Erin Thomas  24:51  

I don't know why her tongue in particular, but she does

Chelsea Whipple  24:54  

you gotta wet wet the tongue.

Erin Thomas  24:57  

Wet the whistle a bit.

you know, you sort of said this in in a roundabout way as well but as a result, this transformed this experience for me. And you use routine, I use rhythm, but all of these points to a connectedness that happens when they become ritual, a practice, or an order that signifies something deeper, to us spiritually. And so I wanted to give just a little bit of an example of that and then we can sort of round it off but you know I think there are various faith traditions that practice rituals and Sacraments to use a similar word to ritual to signify the physical representation of an act that becomes a profoundly deeper act of spiritual meaning. And this is done in a lot of ways right depending on what background you're from. Yeah, maybe one of the ones that we're most familiar with. and in some faith traditions as the partaking of bread and wine representing the Body and Blood of Jesus, I say this because I think it's one of the sacraments that most, most of us are familiar with in a larger context, but your faith tradition may have a different ceremony or ritual that is known as a sacrament and. But I think what's important is not necessarily what we call it, both of these terms lead us to a point of connectedness, where this ritual component, the spiritual practice of this everyday Act takes us from the rhythms and routines to the sacramental, the ritual, and the divinely spiritual. 

So, you know, I go deep with that to say, I think it's important for us to say that, like if you're rolling your eyes with the idea that chores and routine. Children are really challenging and you're not really at the point necessarily where you're seeing a deeper meaning or spiritual significance, it's okay to say that, maybe you and all of us are going to have this sort of some days we feel this way and some days we don't right. But just as other work is not enjoyable there's a notion that realizing our work has deeper meaning takes us to a more contemplative space. And I want to reiterate that, you know, just as we've sort of said as mothers, we are mothers and we're spiritual beings in prior episodes. It's super easy for us to sort of segregate these concepts of housekeeping and chores and, you know routines and schedules and like there's no spiritual dimension to that work right. And so while we obviously can't promise that doing these particular activities will give us a case of the warm and fuzzies. I I do without a doubt, I think it's a really important component to the practice of contemplative motherhood and being present within motherhood and present with the divine. I was recently reading a book called keeping house, the litany of everyday life, by Margaret Kim Peterson, and here's just a brief quote a primary objective of keeping house was to make room. Room for connecting and reconnecting with other people. And with the rhythms of individual, and common life meals, rest, work, play, and, you know, ultimately, that's the beauty of this pattern is that this continual practice of this work is making space for the divine in our everyday lives. And then within that space, we have been given a gift of connectedness in the common everyday life, that is the merging of sacred spaces. And so listeners Chels I've really felt the heart of contemplative motherhood is to invite you in, with us on this journey, not to give you a polished answer, or a polished spiritual application, but to be honest with you, and to share our hearts. And so as we usually do, Chelsea has so graciously provided a practice for us to help us apply this conversation.

Chelsea Whipple  29:47  

Yeah. And just to say before I reveal the practice. I hope also that you could, you know, as you're listening, feel the connection of the routine, becoming the ritual. And just as simple noticing. Again the clothes of what your kids wore that week. So knowing what activities they did, bringing that as a reneweness of life, and the dishes. Looking at those little peanut butter knives, I love that description, you know, and, of what they're learning and you're reflecting it while you do the dishes and noticing that I think that's the key part of the spiritual practice is noticing as you do the act. 

So I think by now everyone knows where I'm headed with this practice probably this week is I want you to pick one routine that you do this week, and it can be anything, you know, driving kids to activities, doing laundry, taking a shower, you pick, in a way to help you turn it into a ritual. So as you do this routine, you know, invite the divine presence with you. You can listen. Pray be silent. Notice the extraordinary in that moment of what you're doing. If your kids are along for the routine, be present with them, enjoy their presence. Take a moment to breathe it in, take a moment to soak in this every day task, alongside the holy and breathe. Breathe and the sacredness of the moment. 

So I'm going to cap this off with a quote by Pierre Teillhard de Chardin. And he says, We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Erin Thomas  32:11  

Man, that's profound. I love that. Yeah. Take a deep breath after that.

Chelsea Whipple  32:19  

All right well we can't wait to hear what routines you turned into rituals,

Erin Thomas  32:24  

I know please do share that with us, and again thank you for joining us on another episode of the contemplative motherhood podcast 

again for joining us today on the contemplative motherhood podcast with us your host Erin Thomas and Chelsea Whipple,

Chelsea Whipple  32:41  

to get regular updates on our podcast, here new episode drops, interact with us about past and future episodes, and find our show notes, make sure to go to our website, www. contemplative

Erin Thomas  32:55  

As always, we appreciate your support of this podcast and then helping us share our journey with others. So if you enjoyed today's podcast, make sure to subscribe, rate, and leave us a review. This helps us to cross paths with other pilgrim mamas across the board. So until next time.

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