When I was growing up there were two Japanese families who lived across the street from me in my neighborhood. When I was invited into their home to play, we would rush in, as kids so often do, bringing our whirlwind of activity from the outside sweeping in like miniature tornados on the inside. Only I learned pretty quickly that in the Japanese homes there was always a required pause because the rules in their home was to remove your shoes at the door. Both homes had a small tiled entryway and before continuing onto the carpet, you were to do so shoeless.
I felt that pause so vividly, even in my childhood activity. A distinction was made, not just in my mind, but through my body. There was the sensorial difference between feeling the ground with shoes on and feeling the ground with shoes off. It felt ceremonial and royal. We were entering into someplace special. Holy ground if you will. This was part of their culture, part of their story, part of their magic.
It makes me think of Mr. Rogers, a show I enjoyed quite a lot when I was little. At the start of the show he would come into his home, and it was always exciting to see him enter through his front door. Before he did anything else, he would change from his jacket to a cardigan sweater and from his outdoor shoes to house shoes. He took great care and finesse in hanging up his jacket and removing his shoes, and then at the end of the show, he would switch back to his outdoor shoes and hang up his cardigan and put back on his jacket. In this simple ritual he set a feeling of specialness around his show. It began with intention and it ended with intention. This was his magic.
As I have returned to working outside our home, I have found myself quite organically developing my own rituals to help ease the shift from work to home. When I arrive home at the end of a teaching day, my feet pulse with the desire to get out of my boots and onto the ground. They want to feel something beneath them. It is me searching for stability and groundedness, to be able to trust that at home something will always hold me, no matter how the day has played out. After a day of giving of myself, I long to feel solid and complete and whole just as I am.
As a winter evening carries on I will eventually make the shift into slippers, often rubbing lavendar oil into my dry feet before tucking them into moccasins, grey, soft and warm. I find my grey wool sweater, the one built for heat, and I slip my arms in feeling Mr. Rogers-ish. I wash my face and rub it with lotion. My husband has taken to lighting candles or burning some incense to transition our bodies for rest. We bought lamps for gentler light in the living room as the evening turns to night. Every night is different and some nights there is just too much activity to make the ritual long and drawn out. But bits and pieces of it remain, often including a bedtime story for my youngest who still enjoys being read to.
As I am typing this I am on the opposite end of the spectrum - experiencing the morning. My home is slowly waking up. I feel the yin of day occurring, balancing out the yang of night. We are dawning shoes, beckoning brighter light, awakening to possibilities, grinding coffee beans, finding our warm coats to carry us out into the world at large.
I notice my coming alive when I lace up my shoes, when I pull my black leather jacket from its hanger in the back of the closet. This is my story, borrowing magic from my childhood memories of Japanese friends and Mr. Rogers. Finding ways to make the repetitive tasks a ceremony in their own right. This is what sets a feeling of specialness around my day. It frames it, beginning and ending with as much intentional magic as I have the energy to muster up.