Little Rituals: Pay Attention

close up photography of honeybee
Photo by Kat Jayne on

Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.
-Mary Oliver

I love this poem by Mary Oliver.  For me it beautifully captures the experience of having small rituals a part of my life.  When I slow down enough to notice details and deliberately move through the moments of my day, there are so many opportunities to be intrigued and to feel gratitude.

I don’t always remember to pause and notice, but when I do, my day is better without fail:  I am more grounded in my values, more conscious of the actions I choose to take, and more resilient for any obstacles I face.

This week, I challenge us both to take five minutes to intentionally pause for the seemingly small stuff.  Look at the color of your dog’s eyes.  Notice the way your child’s smile tilts to one side more than another.  Look at the intricate details and threads woven together to create fabric for a piece of clothing.  Look at the sky to study the shapes of clouds. Consider how you would recreate them if you were handed a paintbrush.  Examine by touch the scars, knots, and many different textures of a tree’s trunk.  Smell your food before you taste it.  Listen to the sounds of bugs, birds, humans, and machines working busily around you.

Nature provides an endless array of subject matter, especially when we zoom further in or out than our eyes would normally focus.  When I am in this mindset, I love taking pictures of the random things I discover.

My favorite shots often include things that would otherwise be easy to pass without a glance, but upon closer inspection become artwork.

Mushroom gills
The gills of an oyster mushroom from my garden.

See what treasures are hiding in your own backyard or home. And this weekend, if you notice something interesting, take Mary Oliver’s advice and share it with someone else.

Tree roots on a walk.

“It’s not really about sitting in the full lotus.  It’s about living your life as if it really mattered, from moment to moment to moment.”
– Jon Kabat-Zinn


I am convinced that ritual is one of the key ingredients to a life well-lived, or at the very least, a great way for a busy person to pause and actually notice when he or she is in the midst of a life well-lived.

And I am even more convinced that ritual is most likely to happen consistently when it is simple, easy, imperfect, and quick.

I’ll be sharing several little rituals I rely on this January and February. I encourage you to try one, and see if it’s something that adds meaning or space for reflection and integration of all the seemingly ordinary yet rich facets of your own every day life!


If you’d like support creating your own rituals, yardsteading and nature connection practices, check out The Handmade Life!  There I offer nature-based coaching sessions, share herbal traditions, handcrafted goods, DIY workshops and herbal consultations.

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