Small props = Big Help

I just turned over my beautiful sandal-wood hour-glass to write this post.  I could easily look at the clock or set a timer to gauge the hour but using this prop is a more delightful measuring of time.

In my jeans pocket is another one of my props…a pedometer.  Like most of us, I am trying to get more exercise and watching those steps tick out one-by-one is a great motivator to park the car a little farther away or take the stairs.  Of course, I would still be trying to “walk more” but this little device makes it so much more fun.

“Prop” : a person or thing that is a source of support or assistance. (Oxford Dictionary.)  I need a lot of props to get through a day.

My morning prop of Chinese tea in a colorful mug along with a ½ of whole wheat English muffin with blackberry jam initiates my hour with God. The “Secret Garden” Pandora station prop tells me it is time to write. A hand-painted crystal goblet keeps me hydrated. Draping my colorful stole around my neck informs me I am a chaplain now.

In my book, Rhythms of Renewal , I wrote…  Many rituals include props of some sort to help enhance the experience.  Some more examples are:

  • Candles: Candles are lit at the beginning of a ritual and blown out at the end.  The Jewish Sabbath meal on Friday nights begins with this ritual.  Many dinners, personal ceremonies, conversations start this way.
  • Clothing: Marking the day to evening transition by changing into comfortable clothing, stepping into stretchy clothes before a morning exercise routine, donning a fun apron to start preparing food are all examples of clothing as props.
  • Food/drink:  Sharing a toast, breaking the bread, and pouring the tea are all components of certain rituals.  Think of the role of a cake in a birthday or wedding celebration, oyster soup on Christmas Eve, ham on Easter. When food is scripted, there is usually a ritual involved!
  • Music: Many rituals include a background score.   Lacing up the shoes and choosing the playlist gets many a runner out the door.  Classical music eases bill paying, dining can be enhanced by jazz in the background, creative writing encouraged to flow with movie soundtracks, and praying more focused with Gregorian chants.

Most of  life’s tasks can be accomplished perfunctorily but why not add a pleasant prop?

I would love to hear about some of your props in the comments section.

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8 Responses to “Small props = Big Help”


  1. 1 lilytemmer April 19, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    I don’t have one, though I might reconsider this; but my favorite story comes from a friend of my neighbor, who says she keeps a large plastic alarm clock around her neck while she is housecleaning that is set to ring every half an hour to remind her to get back on track, since she is easily distracted!

  2. 2 Letitia Suk April 19, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    A definite PROP! Whatever it takes 🙂

  3. 3 Helen April 19, 2012 at 10:05 PM

    You make me think of Mr. Rogers changing his sweater and shoes. Rituals can be very soothing. I have to be careful not to get too dependant on routines because then I get crabby when things change. I do like routines, but I can’t think of any “props” in my life right now. Great post.

  4. 5 bronx51 April 20, 2012 at 5:56 AM

    I don’t know if it’s a prop, but maybe something more like a setting. Each morning I take my coffee, a bagel thin with strawberry jam and butter, and my computer and sit on a particular love seat in our family room, facing the window. Somehow my dog Strider knows to bring a chew toy with him to jump up next to me, ready to start his day and mine. Lately I’ve noticed that he moves over to give me enough room to sit down. Sharing a love seat with an 80-pound, exuberant, 18-month old Golden Retriever is a welcome prop/setting to start the day. I don’t know whose props are whose, but it works to give us both a good start to the day! (And even as I’m writing, he’s crossed over to the love seat opposite mine, to take up his seat facing the same window).

  5. 7 Debbie McKenzie April 21, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    My morning props are a few special coffee cups. If my coffee is not in one of those, it just doesn’t taste as good. Unfortunately, I think my afternoon prop is a can of Coke. That’s not working so well, as I am valiantly trying to lose the last 10lbs that need to be lost. I guess we can have beneficial props and others that are not so beneficial. Another of my favorite ones is to use special pens when I need to get to work on something I’ve been putting off. For some reason, a favorite pen helps me get going.


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