Skin Care Meditations

IMG_1842We can live a more elegant life by turning everyday routines into special rituals. You probably do some type of skin care every morning and evening. If you’re like me, you often rush through the process without giving it much thought. Routine skin care can be transformed into a twice-a-day meditation that cares for your face as well as your soul.

Vicky Tsai, founder of the luxury skin care line Tatcha, said, “Skin care is self-care.” She claims her own skin care discoveries came at a time when both her skin and her heart were broken. Our skin can react to stress, worry, and heartache with acne, rosacea, dermatitis, deepening wrinkles, and other unpleasant conditions. It can be a vicious cycle of stress causing skin problems causing more stress.

No matter what products we choose to use, most skin care routines include cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing. Let’s turn each of those steps into a calming and centering meditation morning and night.

Morning Skin Care Meditation:

Cleansing ~ Cleanse your face slowly and gently the way an esthetician might do during a facial. Picture starting the new day with a clean slate. Set intentions for your skin, heart, and mind to stay clear throughout the day. That might mean eating clean foods, shutting down negativity, and sending pure, wholesome thoughts to yourself and others.

Exfoliating ~ Most experts agree skin needs regular exfoliation to help skin cell turnover, which slows down as we age. Regardless of the type of exfoliator you use, the goal is to make skin more luminous and vibrant. In the morning, picture the process giving your skin a healthy bright glow, which you reflect in your attitude throughout the day.

Moisturizing ~ In the morning, take time to pamper your skin with a moisturizer suitable for your skin’s needs. As you massage it into your skin, focus on the product soothing and protecting your skin from the ravages of the day. Make a promise to do all you can to treat yourself and others gently.

Evening Skin Care Meditation:

Cleansing ~ At night, as you wash away make-up, dirt, and oil, imagine stress from the day going right down the drain. As you rid impurities from your skin, breathe deeply and focus on clearing your heart and mind for a good night’s sleep.

Exfoliating ~ Evening exfoliation is a time to meditate on every cell in your body resting and rejuvenating. As your skin lets go of dead skin, consciously let go of old thoughts and ideas that aren’t serving you. Begin to move more slowly and intentionally to let your body know it’s time to wind down and benefit from the healing, restorative properties of sleep.

Moisturizing ~ Use your moisturizer and your fingers or tool to give yourself a relaxing facial massage. Gently smooth away wrinkles and worries. Before turning out the light, take a moment to look at yourself in the mirror with love, gratitude, and compassion. Go to sleep feeling beautiful, because you are. §

“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.”
~Mandy Hale

Featured Art ~ Mary Cassatt, “Woman Bathing (La Toilette)” 1890-1891

Self-Care and Green Smoothies

During stressful times, I always seem to throw self-care out the window. The next thing I know, my sleeping, exercising, and eating habits are out of whack, creating even more stress and dis-ease.

Although I’m honestly in no mood for any of it, I re-established some healthy routines this week including drinking a green smoothie every day. I’ve already noticed an improvement in my sleep, digestion, dark circles, and dry skin. I like the ritual of making the smoothie and knowing I’m taking positive steps to get my mojo back.

You can find plenty of smoothie recipes on Pinterest or Google, adding and subtracting ingredients as you wish. I tinkered with one and came up with this simple recipe that tastes fresh, healthy, and delicious.

Combine and blend until smooth:
1 cup oat milk
a big handful of greens (I use a mix that includes spinach)
1 green apple
1 banana
a dash of cinnamon
1 cup of ice

At the end of the day, we are each responsible for our own self-care. I hope you’re taking the time to take good care of yourself. I’m inspired by this anonymous quote, “An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.” Cheers! §

The Elegance of Breaking the Hurry Habit

In one of my favorite poems, My Symphony, William Henry Channing advises us to “hurry never.” As much as I’ve always loved that sentiment, it’s something I’ve been slow to learn. Breaking the hurry habit can be difficult, but it is one of the best things we can do to take better care of ourselves and to capture that elusive everyday elegance.

As a busy mother and teacher, I operated on two speeds for decades ~ a hundred miles an hour and passed out from exhaustion. Most days, I hit the ground running the second I crawled out of bed in the morning until the second I collapsed back in at night. During the five minutes between classes, I flew around like a whirling dervish, squeezing in as many tasks as I could before the next class began.

I don’t say this to boast. It wasn’t healthy or wise, and it was anything but elegant. Even after my children were grown and I was no longer teaching, I still found myself rushing. I walked, drove, talked, moved, and acted as if there was a sense of urgency when there was none. I had a hurry habit.

It seems the want to rush isn’t just a symptom of our modern, fast-paced lifestyle. These words were written in the 1600s by Saint Francis de Sales, “Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”

I sympathize with those in the hectic stages of childrearing, caregiving, homemaking, schooling, or career. I know it sometimes seems there’s no choice but to be in a hurry. I also know the toll it can take on our relationships, health, and inner peace.

We all want to be active and efficient, but we can learn to do so at a slower and more deliberate pace. As a reminder to myself, and to you, here are ten ways breaking the hurry habit can help us live with more grace ~

  1. Better Health ~ When I catch myself rushing, I feel my heart race, my muscles tighten, and my breathing constrict. Our bodies aren’t meant to be in perpetual fight-or-flight mode. Slowing down can improve our physical and mental health.
  2. More Beauty ~ I wonder how many sunsets or full moons I missed because I was too busy to notice. The more we slow down, the more we notice beautiful things around us.
  3. More Help ~ If our life truly demands us to constantly be in a hurry, it’s time to get some help. It’s smart self-care to ask for help when we need it. No matter what we’ve been taught to believe, nobody can do it all.
  4. Sweeter Memories ~ Have you ever been so busy that you felt you completely missed a child’s important milestone, a holiday, or a special event? Time moves on whether we’re aware of it or not.
  5. More Kindness ~ Being in a hurry can cause us to seem rude and self-centered. Slowing down allows us to be more courteous, patient, and aware of others.
  6. More Productivity ~ It may seem counter-intuitive, but hurrying doesn’t always help us get more done. In fact, rushing often results in mistakes, accidents, and bad choices.
  7. Better Decisions ~ When we set an intention to stop hurrying, we find it easier to make decisions about what we can include in our lives. Saying no to one thing means saying yes to something more important to us.
  8. More Peace ~ Think about the difference between frantically driving someplace and leisurely driving to your destination. A calmer, less rushed demeanor can bring more peace to ourselves and those around us.
  9. Better Planning ~ A school secretary I worked with had a sign over her desk that read, “Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.” If we want to stop rushing ourselves and others, planning ahead is crucial.
  10. More Elegance ~ There’s nothing attractive about running around like a chicken with its head cut off. By breaking the hurry habit, we can calmly glide through our days with more elegance and composure.


“Wisely, and slow. They stumble that run fast.”
~ William Shakespeare

10 Ways to Bring More Joy to Your Days

Hard to believe we are already three months into the new year. My personal mantra for this year is Joie de Vivre, or joy of living. Honestly, on more than one occasion I double-checked my poor French didn’t cause me to sign-up for more stress, than joy, in my vivre!

Of course, true advocates of la joie de vivre would say it’s when things get a little crazy, or fou in French, that we must remember to celebrate life’s simple joys. We each have our own ideas about what brings happiness, but here are ten areas where we can all find more everyday joy.

1. Dining ~ No matter what we’re eating, we can make meals a more pleasant ritual. We can take time to put our food on a pretty plate and sit down with a placemat and napkin. We can turn off the television and put away our phones. It will soon be warm enough to dine al fresco. Savoring our meals with gratitude is a simple joy we often take for granted.

2. Nature ~ Research indicates many people, especially children, are increasingly experiencing a nature deficit. With spring right around the corner, most of us are eager to get outside in the fresh air. Take a walk. Listen to the birds. Enjoy the sunshine. Nature is good for the mind, body, and soul, and it is such a simple way to increase our joy.

3. Creativity ~ When we get lost in something creative, we give our brains a break from fret and worry and get into a meditative state some scientists call flow. Whether we enjoy gardening, cooking, painting, quilting, or some other hobby, delving into a creative pursuit is where we can find our happy place.

4. Flowers ~ Flowers bring joy to any space. I’ll never forget how my students reacted when I brought in fresh flowers for our classroom. It won’t be long before the earth will be speaking to us through blossoms of every type and color. Pick a single flower or budding tree limb and arrange it in a vase of water for instant happiness.

5. The Arts ~ The arts have always brought joy to humanity. Thankfully, we all have different tastes in architecture, sculpture, painting, literature, music, performance, and film, but we know what makes our heart sing. Until we can safely return to our beloved museums, libraries, and theaters, we can explore the arts at home. I’m already planning my trip to see the Van Gogh Immersive Experience in Chicago.

6. Wardrobe ~ Opening an organized closet filled with a small selection of clothing I want to wear brings me such joy. I personally love the simplicity and femininity of dresses. I’ve already put away my darker, heavier ones and brought out my spring things. Getting dressed is something we do every day, and it can easily become something that brings us joy.

7. Attitude ~ Nothing adds more joy to our days than having a positive attitude. Cultivating a good attitude is a daily habit. Whatever we focus on seems to increase, so it only makes sense to think on the positive. Long ago I heard someone say we can choose to wake up and say, “Good God, morning” or “Good morning, God.” The choice is ours!

8. Color ~ What colors bring you joy? This week I looked at thousands of rugs at a large decorating store. I had to dig deep to find one in a color that made me smile. That peachy-coral rug and a few cans of paint in fresh, happy colors have made our new house feel like home. To a large extent, we have a choice about the colors that surround us. What color do you need more of in your life?

9. Self-Care ~ Sometimes we need to pamper ourselves a little. My sister sent me a gift set of heavenly lavender-scented bath products. She knows how much I value the simple joy of closing the door and luxuriating in an hour or so of at-home beauty treatments. It’s not about primping and preening for vanity’s sake. It’s about taking time to care for ourselves, so we can take care of others.

10. Spirituality ~ Our spiritual growth is a lifelong process that can bring us the ultimate joy. We can seek it throughout our days from books, music, meditation, scripture, yoga, art, nature, prayer, silence, service, and religious practices. Many would agree, the greater our spirituality, the greater our joy. It was Mother Teresa who reminded us, “Joy is strength.” §

(To read more about the French expression, Joie de Vivre, please go to my January article at http://www.thesimpleswan.com/2021/01/03. Merci!)