Rituals, Walking Around the Block & the War of the Roses


Rituals are the formulas by which harmony is restored. – Terry Tempest Williams


We planted four clump, yellow rose bushes in our backyard garden last summer. They are situated in an area where for some odd reason, everything seems to perish. I have a number of concocted theories as to why this continues to happen. Our home is well over 70 years old and from what I discern from original plans, a garage once stood near that area. Maybe this contributes somehow. Or there is possibly too much sun. Too little water. Or our 100 pound German Shepard stomps over the plantings when chasing her tennis ball.

I’ve just surveyed the situation. It’s not looking all that hopeful.

The point is not the roses, but that the ritual of the garden occupies my mind in a manner that frees me for a stretch of time. Small rituals makes us more comfortable, more centered — even when a sense of instability may exist all around us. For you, this may mean walking around the block after dinner, game night, sitting on your balcony in the morning or a quiet cup of coffee before you write a report. You could call these routines, but somehow these idiosyncratic actions hold more value than that label would imply.

Whatever that ritual is, no matter how small it may seem — it matters. Small rituals help define who we are as individuals. They help align who we are with our surroundings. I feel they likely make us better contributors, as well.

When we get back to our desks, the rest will still be there.

But for that moment, I’m rooting for the roses.

Strategy: Rituals

  • Do you have a small ritual that helps you remain productive right now?
  • Do you feel rituals have become more important during this crisis?
  • Does your organization or team have a ritual that helps them along?

Rose update: We’ve lost one. The others are hanging on. (It’s quite hot and dry here at the moment.)

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist who explores the value of core stability to empower work & career. She helps people & teams build a stronger work life foundation through The Core Masterclass. A charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program, she has been featured at the Harvard Business Review, Talent Zoo and The Huffington Post.

2 thoughts on “Rituals, Walking Around the Block & the War of the Roses

  1. Since moving to my new home about a year ago, one of the attractions in this small community is our gardens. This year I began the ritual of watering the many flowers with a sprayer. Midday around lunchtime I spend 20 minutes nurturing the plants. In return, they have bloomed beautifully. Gardening is my new ritual which not only nurtures the plants but also myself and everyone I come into contact with throughout the day, :-).


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