My Full Moon To Do List

Maybe it seems a bit contrary to compose something as mundane as a to do list in conjunction with an event as energetically meaningful as a full moon, but I’m a Capricorn and lists are kind of what we do. Honestly, I’m taking this down as much for myself as for a public blog, because the full moon is an incredibly powerful time, and I always kick myself the day after when I realize I’ve forgotten to observe this day purposefully! I’m not suggesting you sacrifice any chickens – in fact I actively advise against doing that – but I do know of a few relatively simple ways to harness the ancient energy of the full moon, release things that are holding you back, and manifest a richer life in the month ahead.

1. Think Happy Thoughts

See? I did say these things were simple. Energies and thoughts are multiplied like you wouldn’t believe during the full moon, so your positive vibes during this time are getting a big dose of full moon magic and growing exponentially. Take 5 minutes when you wake up and before you go to bed to reflect on your blessings. Spend time considering the good things the Universe holds in your future, maybe even writing them down. Look in the mirror and go over what you like about yourself. One thing I do not recommend doing is using this time to tell your partner about that thing they do that’s been bugging you for ages – magnified emotions means negativity is magnified too, so stick to the lovey-dovey sh-stuff for now if you can.

2. Meditate

With the extra spiritual energy flowing, meditating with the full moon is a must. I personally notice quite an observable difference in the ease with which I slip into my peaceful, calm “meditation headspace” during this time. As a bonus, many yoga studios and spiritual centers host full moon group meditations, so it can be a wonderful opportunity to get out in your community, meet like-minded people, and combine the powerful energy of a full moon with the powerful energy of a room full of meditating individuals.

3. Sage Burning/Mindful Release

While new moons represent new beginnings, full moons represent completion and celebration – time to release the old to make room for the new! Burning sage has been used for centuries as a means of cleansing and releasing negative or stagnant energies. To perform a sage smudging ritual, simply light your sage bundle and let it burn for a moment before blowing it out and blowing the ember to life. Hold it over a fireproof dish (I use an abalone shell, but your ex-roommate’s old chipped dinner plate works just as well) and use your hand or a feather to waft the smoke all the way around your body from the bottoms of your feet over the top of your head. Repeat a statement of release that feels right to you – I often use, “I release all that no longer serves me”, but you do you! You can also use the sage smoke to cleanse your mala/crystals before laying them out under the full moon to charge, but more on that later.

4. Cleanse Your Body

By this, I mean something slightly more than “take a shower” and slightly less than “starve yourself with green juices for 7 days”. Cleansing my body is just about doing something with the mindful intention of helping my body physically release some of the toxins from the previous month. Maybe I’ll do an extra long hike or extra hot power yoga class – though many yogis prefer to leave the full moon as a time of rest. Perhaps I’ll take a long, hot detox bath and follow up with a nice, gunk-pulling clay mask (because duh, I’ll take any excuse for a self-care skincare spa day… more on that here). Maybe I’ll even go on a quick, 24-hour raw food/hot tea cleanse, if I’m feeling especially bombastic!

5. Recharge Your Mala

If you don’t use a mala, you can skip this one (but seriously, look into getting a mala for your meditation practice).  Leaving your mala or crystals out in the full moonlight will recharge their energies and amplify once more the quality that initially drew you to them. Simply leave them outside under the full moon overnight and return in the morning. If you live somewhere known for its burglars or its raccoons, consider securing your mala/crystals up high or leaving them in a windowsill that will receive plenty of moonlight.

Your “to do list” for the full moon will change each month, depending on what that moon has held for you. Often you may need less, and sometimes you may even need more in the form of a retreat or a bra-burning bonfire. What you do to mindfully release the negativity of the past during the full moon is not necessarily important, it’s just that you do something that feels right to you. Feel free to use my list as a starting point and use your own intuition to let your practices evolve!

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.)

Self-Care Series: Part One

I know, I know, you really don’t need another person telling you how prioritizing self-care has a truck-ton of benefits for you and your life. You’ve heard it, your mom’s heard it, we’ve all heard it. But if you’re picturing self-care as an all-out Instagrammable spa day or tropical yoga retreat, you’ve got it all wrong. Okay, maybe not ALL wrong, those things are blissful and still totally count as self-care, but they’re not necessarily realistic examples of how the general population is able to reap the long-term benefits of self-care in their daily lives. A few of the rituals I’m going to discuss may be new introductions to your days, but I’m willing to bet that you’re doing most of these things already. So why should you bother keeping up with a series about it anyway? Because, more than introducing new self-care to your already packed life, I want to help you make minor changes primarily to the way you consider and approach the rituals already present in your life. The concept for this series started out as one blog, but as the blog got longer (and longer… and longer…), I realized that the “minor changes” I had made has affected A LOT more aspects of my life than I had realized! All that said, here is part one of our Self-Care Series (at least 7 more parts to come!) to help you add mindfully beneficial self-care rituals to your daily routine and, hopefully, help adjust your feelings toward activities that you may not yet be thinking of as self-care.

 

Part One – Exercise

No, wait! Don’t leave me yet! If exercise isn’t already a part of your daily routine, you probably think I’ve made a huge tactical error (if my intention is to get you to keep reading this series) by coming right out of the gate referring to exercise as “self-care”. Exercising when you don’t enjoy it can feel laughably far from self-care. I promise I truly know this from experience, as I’ve fallen off and gotten back on the workout wagon more times than I remember (and probably more times than I would admit even if I did). I grueled away hours of my life on weight benches, stair climbers, and treadmills, hating almost every single moment of it. Not surprisingly, I never stuck with anything and never really reached a point where I was satisfied with how I felt or looked. Sound familiar?

But then, something freaking magical happened – I found my yoga home. A term like “yoga home” may sound like an eye-rollingly crunchy term, but all I really mean is that I finally found a yoga studio close enough to my home with a gloriously wide range of yoga styles (yin to hot vinyasa), flexible class times, in-house childcare, and a handful of teachers I truly adored. Basically, I switched workouts, gyms, and studios for years until I finally discovered a place that made it as hassle-free and enjoyable for me to get a workout in. That enabled me to commit to my practice and a healthy body in a way I never had before, and eventually to start learning about and applying other tenets of yogic practice as well (we’ll go into those other tenets later – back to the exercise alone for now!).

If yoga truly isn’t your thing, THAT’S OKAY! If nothing you’ve tried so far is your thing and you’ve lost count of how many times you’ve stopped/started, that’s also okay. It doesn’t mean that you’re a failure or that you’ll never be able to approach exercise in a loving way, it just means that you haven’t found your niche yet. Try new things. Keep trying new things until you find the new thing that just makes you pause and think, “You know what, I wouldn’t hate to do that again.” I’m not kidding, that’s all it takes to start.

Your next (and really, it could be considered last) step here is to make it a priority to do it as much as possible. When I finally found an exercise I enjoyed doing, prioritizing exercise became prioritizing self-care. I was making it a point to spend an hour doing something that was solely for the benefit of my own mind, body, and soul. Talk about empowering! I watched other pieces of my life begin to benefit – changing the method and mentality surrounding my daily exercise caused me to change the method and mentality surrounding almost every aspect of my life. And here we are, at the very beginning of a whole series about each of those aspects. Stay tuned for part two next week!

*The photo of the cat wearing workout gear was shamelessly added to make you like me and want to read more. There may be an internet clause somewhere that says I have to disclose this.