Self-Care Series: Part Deux

(Psst! If you missed part 1 of the self-care series, you can check it out here!)

Here’s a fun fact you almost definitely already know: the skin is your body’s largest organ. What you may not have heard is that it is also your body’s largest defense against infection! Keeping this defense moist and healthy is essential; when the skin gets dry and irritated, cracks in the skin can occur which can leave your whole body much more vulnerable to infection. Here’s the great thing – caring for your skin can feel really good. This is one of those “you’re probably already doing it” sections of the series. You probably already wash your face, you probably use lotion sometimes, maybe you’ve even been known to give exfoliation a go. But if you’re not enjoying your skin care routine or don’t really do it often enough to fully reap the benefits, it’s time to change it up. Here are some ways that you can really pamper your body’s largest protector that can actually feel like a personal treat instead of a chore.


1. Introduce dry brushing to your daily routine. Dry brushing promotes overall circulation, helps eliminate toxins, and exfoliates your skin like crazy. I bought my dry brush off Amazon, and immediately started using it before every shower. To dry brush, you simply drag the bristles over your skin in long, even strokes, always moving toward your heart center. Pass once over your entire body, then shower to rinse away any dead skin. When I say this will exfoliate your skin, I really mean it – I’ve had dry, rough skin for as long as I can remember and I credit dry brushing more than any other part of my routine with finally giving me the smooth, soft skin that even I can’t keep my hands off of.


2. Find a skin care routine that you like and use each step, beginning to end, twice a day. Take the time to slowly massage your face with your fingertips as you cleanse and work in your products; facial massage has been shown to relieve tension, increase circulation, and assist better absorption of facial products, all of which help contribute to a clear, youthful, glowing complexion. Each evening, I use a cleanser, a toner, an essence (in the form of rose water), a serum, an eye cream, a night cream, and often some rosehip oil or an acne cream as needed. In the morning, I do the same minus the eye cream and the night cream. Is it a lot? It seemed like it at first, but now I actually look forward to that time each morning and evening – seriously! In the mad dash of our day’s beginning or the exhaustion of our day’s end, it can be difficult to make time for a lengthy routine, but that mad dash and that exhaustion is exactly what makes the time I take to do this routine so important to me.


3. Set aside an hour or so each week for a facial mask routine. In the interest of total transparency, I’ll go ahead and tell you that I don’t LOVE my mask day. It’s time-consuming, it’s kind of messy, and my husband can never seem to resist a little giggle at my clay-covered face’s expense. But let’s face it – skin can be finicky, and our daily routines aren’t always enough to keep dryness or breakouts at bay. Speaking of facts to face, my personal diet/beverage consumption isn’t always necessarily in check, and sometimes I can forget to practice what I preach in terms of the regularity of my daily cleansing routine. That’s when I like to take a little spa break for myself and treat my skin to some extra TLC in order to repent for my dermal wrongs. I start with an exfoliator, then move on to a deep pore purge with a clay mask, and if my skin has felt especially clogged or dull, I’ll follow up with a peel off mask. After all this, I have to imagine my skin is feeling a little traumatized, so I cap it all off with a nice, comforting sheet mask and/or a generous slathering of my favorite night cream.


4. I’ve saved my favorite for last: take the time for long, warm, totally self-indulgent baths on a regular basis. Baths improve circulation, soothe the sinuses, help stimulate your body’s production of melatonin, moisturize your skin, and are a wonderful way to indulge in some aromatherapy. By the way, when I say indulgent, I mean Indulgent with a capital I; if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right, right? Build your own bath as though you were building a romantic evening for a lover. First, candles are an absolute necessity – there’s nothing relaxing about the light in any bathroom I’ve ever seen. Second, put on a favorite playlist that fits your vibe (I’m a little partial to one of mine that’s heavy on the Sade and Nina Simone, but everyone has their chill). Next, add some fun stuff in a scent you love to your bathwater. I tend to go for plain Epsom salts with my own blend of essential oils for muscle soreness, but a nice skin-softening bath bomb or oil can be wonderful as well, and sometimes I’ll even add some fresh or dried flowers if I’m feeling extra fancy. After setting up your perfect scene, it’s time to simply exist within the moment you’ve created for yourself. I like to close my eyes and let my mind drift, but if that sounds too boring (hey, I get it), it can also be nice to take some time for a few chapters of that paperback that’s been sitting on your nightstand. After you’re properly placid, take advantage of all the moisture your skin has absorbed by giving yourself a long, full-body rubdown with a rich lotion or some coconut oil.


It can be easy to forget that our skin exists in a constant state of change, with old cells dying and new ones forming. It’s incredibly susceptible to many environmental factors, from pollution and sun damage to diet and dehydration, which makes it incredibly important to show it the love that it deserves. It also contains about 1,000 nerve endings per square inch, which means that it can be one of the most physically enjoyable forms of self-care to practice. Now, go spend some quality time with one of your most hardworking organs and get your glow on!


(Author’s note regarding the featured image: part of my personal collection/obsession, with some of the products I mentioned. Only the finest crappy cell phone quality photos for you guys.)

Meditation and Affirmations for Moms

While it’s no secret that most mothers consider their children to be the greatest gifts the universe ever gave them, it’s also no secret that being a mother is hard work. The hours are long, the job is often thankless, and your co-workers are usually messy and hypersensitive! With this relatively common knowledge, it stands to reason that moms should be incorporating a variety of self-care rituals into their daily routines – but the vast majority of us often don’t, and I was no exception. Meditation was the self-care ritual that, for a very long time, I knew I needed but hardly ever took the time to do. My errant thoughts took control of almost every session and left me feeling a lack of connection to my practice and to be quite honest, like a bit of a fraud. Then, at Wanderlust Yoga Festival several months ago, I met Ashley Wray of Mala Collective. I picked out a beautiful howlite and rudraksha mala (pictured as the featured image for this blog post – isn’t it stunning??), and was able to immediately take a meditation class with Ashley. For the first time ever, a regular and enjoyable meditation practice was made to seem attainable. She not only eased my insecurities regarding my “errant thoughts”, but she also explained to me the concept of using a mantra to take my practice into new territory.
So, what is a mantra? Well, the mantra definition as it stands in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is, “a sound, word, or phrase that is repeated by someone who is praying or meditating”. In the most basic sense, the mantra gives your mind something to focus on to make it more difficult for it to wander off. Those errant thoughts I keep talking about? A mantra can be just what the doctor ordered to help with that. Many ancient and Sanskrit mantras are still in use and are an incredibly powerful way to connect to your higher consciousness. However, for the purposes of this blog, I’d like to focus on a more modern incarnation of the mantra called the affirmation. Okay, now what is an affirmation? Affirmations are short, powerful statements that, when you say them or think them, can create your reality. Life as a mother can often leave me feeling as though the control I think I need exists at all times just beyond my fingertips, so the idea of creating my own reality? Sign me up! Below are just a few of the mantras I use often to assist my travel down the road to my own reality.


I am Patient

I use this mantra more than any other. That howlite mala we discussed? It actually is the “I am Patient” mala from Mala Collective, so I suppose you could say that I was drawn to this mantra as I was drawn to the mala (which shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise since few people are as in need of patience as moms). This mantra reminds me not only to be patient with my family and my child, but also with myself. It reminds me to be present in the current moment, rather than becoming impatient for the next moment to arrive.


I am Divine

In a world of diapers and demands from tiny humans, it’s not difficult to forget that as women, we are goddesses. When was the last time you reminded yourself that you hold within you the power of the divine feminine? If we don’t take time to reconnect to our Shakti (feminine) energy, we forget ourselves and can be left feeling like pieces of us are getting lost under the mountain of mundane tasks that dominate our day-to-day. This mantra reminds me that I am connected to a higher purpose and am a creature of beauty, light, and strength – even if I do have half my toddler’s breakfast in my hair.


I am Grounded

This mantra is all about feeling rooted, safe, and secure. Other than brief bouts of situational anxiety, I was almost always able to manage my more apprehensive emotions… pre-children. After I had my son, it was like a chasm of previously contained emotions had been ripped open, leaving me with sometimes crippling anxiety for the safety of those I loved so much. My regular yoga practice helped, but it wasn’t until I learned the concept of grounding that I was finally able to start actually dealing with and easing my anxiety, rather than just becoming better at ignoring it.


I am Love

I’ve saved my personal favorite for last. To be a mother is to be the embodiment of pure love. It is to give of our bodies, souls, and minds freely and without consideration for the effect it may have on any of them. This mantra, more than any other, is motherhood in a metaphorical nutshell. It reminds me that I can and do embody love in all of its forms – for myself, my children, my husband, my friends, and any person that crosses my path. It reminds me that my heart chakra is open, and to be kinder to myself and others.


These mantras are extremely personal and dear to me. They’re not just empty words – they represent the person that I want to be, and the person that I truly already am. Who do you want to be? What reality do YOU want to create? Hey – there’s a mantra for that!

(If you’re interested in the mala pictured or another mala/meditation piece from Mala Collactive, you can find them online at