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The beginning is always today. 
― Mary Shelley

When my children were small and clustered in the infant to preschool years, taking a moment to get dressed for the day took intention and strategic planning. Many days it felt impossible. Sometimes I would wait for the first nap; sometimes I would put the baby in the crib or give my toddler something to keep himself busy. Many times my littles were in the room with me at my feet or rummaging through my bathroom drawers. Such small windows of time kept these daily self-care routines simple and quick, and although my children are growing and more independent, our mornings are now busy in different ways. It turns out, these small routines forged in the early years still carry me now. They are fifteen minutes well spent.

On any given day in motherhood, there are a million reasons not to carve out time for yourself––even simply to wash your face, put on a little makeup, and change out of PJs. But hear me: you are worthy of the time. Brush your teeth. Wash your face. Brighten your tired eyes with a little concealer or dab your cheeks with a little blush. Swipe on a little gloss and the kids are certain to ask where you’re going. Ha! It requires less time than you think, and the result will always help you feel more human.

MY FIFTEEN MINUTE MORNING ROUTINE

Whether we consider ourselves morning people or not, getting dressed and facing the day is necessary for all of us. Perhaps the morning is not the ideal time for soul-care, quiet thought, or creative work for you. That’s ok! We are each gloriously different,  but I encourage you to take care of your interior person by finding time in later hours. The morning routine below is how I get ready for the day each morning, moving from morning breath and PJs to a fresh-faced leader in my home.

Get Dressed, 5 minutes / Most days, I wear a version of the same thing: jeans, a top, and a layered sweater. I add dresses or skirts to join in the warmer months. Since I am home most days, the goal is to feel put together in some manner, but also remain comfortable. And yes, some days I end up in yoga pants and an oversized sweater. I leave more playful, creative styling for date nights or other evening events when I have a bit more time to experiment with what I own. I have been long inspired by the capsule wardrobe I first discovered here several years ago.

Brush Teeth + Wash Face + Mindset, 5 minutes / I wash and prep my skin first, using my favorite Cleansing Balm, Radiance Serum, and Day Cream. It’s strange how wonderful a warm cloth on my face can be in the morning, especially the cold days. Then I brush my teeth, allowing my skin to soak up the hydration for a bit before makeup. It may sound silly, but toothbrushing is the time when I refresh my mindset. I may focus on an encouraging quote, a recent conversation, or a Scripture on the mirror, but these intentional few minutes serve as a brief meditation each morning and night.

Hair + Makeup, 5 minutes / Some days, I just let my frizzy waves go and wear my hair down just as it is. Many days, I tie it back in a twist, a braid, or top-knot to save styling time. I still use these tutorials I shared a few years ago. As for makeup, I prefer natural, glowing colors that don’t require heaps of fuss or time. For those of you who enjoy the same, here are my non-toxic favorites that I can apply in only a few minutes:

This collection is also wonderful for a finished look in under five minutes and includes many of my favorites, too. Enjoy!


Images by Hannah Walls 

The end of October is a strange month to discuss habits, I know. Yet what I hope to encourage is that shifting a lifestyle pattern can happen at any point in the year, with the simplest goal, the smallest choice. It doesn’t need to happen all at once either, beginning every change at the same time, bombarding your new year with new rhythms and routines. But when the impulse or longing for change hits, it’s best not to wait but to simply begin right then, regardless of your original agenda. Here are five wellness habits I established this year for my body, mind, and spirit, all beginning at different points, in different months, based simply by a need I noticed in my lifestyle. Some of them are merely tweaking something I had already been doing, some of it is based on consistency, some was beginning something new altogether.

Screen-free Days | Although our family began this practice before this year, my attitude changed at the onset of 2018. Instead of screen-free days feeling like a discipline and restraint, it became a day I looked forward to, a liberating, unapologetic practice of self-care for myself and our home. My phone can be the slipperiest part on my end, for sure, so I often turn it off and set it aside for the day. Yes, I miss texts. Yes, I miss important updates and news. Yes, I miss phone calls from friends or family members. But only for that day. The personal and social updates are always waiting for me when I return the following day, and I find myself more grounded in the midst of the noise and information. Plus, as a family, we enjoy one full day each week with quiet, with the simplicity of only the relationships and activities we’re enjoying right that minute. It’s somewhat like stepping out of a crowded bar or restaurant into the quiet night. In one environment you can hear; in the other, you can listen. The contrast is inviting. Helpful resources: Garden City (more about work and rest than screens, but so good!), Screen-Free Fun (for ideas with kids), The Big Disconnect, The Tech-Wise Family, Simplicity Parenting, and so many more. 

Reading, Meditation, + Reflection for Spiritual Growth | It can be difficult to discern the strength of my soul or spirit, but I knew at the beginning of the year, my own felt weak. I was distracted and pre-occupied with what was happening in culture, with popular opinion, and with my own image in the midst of it all. What is true of our bodies is also true of our spirits, if we want to grow in any endeavor, we must rearrange our life for growth. In February, I began rearranging my life for spiritual transformation. I began reading and studying the Scriptures again several days a week, most intentionally on my screen-free day. There was no set agenda other than creating space to hear what God wanted to speak. Sometimes it felt inspiring and revelatory; sometimes it didn’t. Other days, I began meditating on passages, perhaps a Psalm or a few verses from the Sermon on the Mount or verses I had read the day before. I generally take a small passage of Scripture (no more than 10-12 verses), and read the passage three times, slowly and intentionally. Ideally, I do this aloud, but that’s not always possible. The aim is to allow God’s sacred words to soak into me without expectation of what I need to do with them. I read aloud and repeat, listening. This practice led to forming a group of women to read the Scriptures aloud with each week, and also to recovering this practice with my children in the mornings. I began journaling more consistently again, thoughts, reflections, ideas I was learning in studies. It’s been such a life-giving practice this year, strengthening my foundations, rooting my heart in purpose. Tools and books that have been helpful this year: my journal Bible, journal, Garden of Truth, She Reads Truth books, Cultivate Journal, Sacred Rhythms, Freedom of Simplicity.

Clean Personal Care Products | I’ve mentioned my journey to clean out toxins from our home and bathrooms here before, so clearly, this isn’t entirely new either. Yet the more I learn about the effects product ingredients can have on our hormones, emotions, mental and physical health, the more I pay closer attention to what we use in our home. This past spring, I emptied my bathroom drawer of any remaining personal care products––makeup, deodorant, toothpaste–– that include harmful ingredients and swapped them for safer alternatives. I’ve still been using Beautycounter for skincare and makeup and really appreciate their attention to quality and performance as much as safety. Their products keep getting better, as do their standards. For daily makeup, I stick with a few basics that can be applied in just a few minutes, like this custom makeup collection (which saves about $50 when purchased as a collection). I often add this neutral eye palette and keep my favorite Twig lipstick in my bag for quick application, too.  This new limited-edition skincare collection includes my very favorite products and is such a steal for a starting point. I often share more favorites on my wellness page.  As for other products, I’ve been loving this deodorant, and although I’ve been experimenting with safe solutions for my sensitive teeth, I think this toothpaste or this one are my favorites. If you’re curious to learn about the safety of some of the products in your home, the Environmental Working Group is a wonderful free resource! Their Skin Deep database has info on thousands of products, and it’s best to aim for the lowest number rating (I try to stick with ones and twos).

Daily Exercise | At the beginning of April, something clicked. I noticed the soft, undefined nature of my entire body, the way my clothes had steadily increased in size, yet still felt uncomfortable. I was a busy work-from-home, homeschooling mother. I had accepted it, telling myself I was growing older and this was normal. I wanted to be gentle with myself, understanding the context for doing so many things. And I have been gentle and permissive. But this was not simply about body image or lofty expectations, this was about strength and long-term health. I was tired of feeling tired and out-of-shape. I wanted to feel strong again, to feel energy and stamina in my days again. Knowing I had to use all this thinking for positive momentum, I immediately pulled my dusty 4-year-old running shoes from the closet, pulled on my snug running shorts, downloaded the Sweat app, and texted my sister to ask if she wanted to join me. We began the BBG workouts the next morning, the first Monday in April, walking for cardio days and doing my best to finish the resistance days. It was hard. And good. Almost seven months later, I’m still at it and growing stronger and faster! I don’t have a sensational weight loss or health story, but I’ve established a simple 30-minute daily habit. My clothes feel better. I am definitely stronger. My energy feels more consistent. When considering workouts in the beginning, it was important to do something I could manage consistently at home or from home for 30 minutes or so a day, without gyms or expensive equipment. Over the months, I have used whatever I had nearby or in our shed for resistance: the steps on our front stoop, picnic benches, chairs, gallon paint cans, planters. I’m beginning to add pieces of real equipment now as a reward for all the hard work. But most importantly, exercise is a part of my daily habit again. Even on rest days, it is a mindful rest and time for stretching and decompressing and meditation. // Helpful Tools // Sweat App (They have different programs within it for different goals. I’ve been using the BBG plan.) Yoga mat (any will do, but this one is new on my wishlist), jump rope, hand weights, weighted ball. Begin small with weights and check Craigslist and FB Marketplace for gently used equipment.

Cleaner Eating + Drinking | Those terms can be so vague and slippery, can’t they? There are so many opinions on what is best diet-wise, and I am not about to toss another one at you. Although I began regular exercise in the Spring, by the early Autumn, I knew I needed to rest some of my eating habits for a time, too. I love a bold, dry red wine in the evening and a dark, pour-over coffee first thing in the morning. I love crusty bread, soft cheeses, and dark chocolate––especially when pulled from the hot oven or melted into a ganache. Beginning the day with a cup of coffee and ending with a wine pour during the dinner hour is a part of my daily rhythm of beginnings and endings, and yet, sometimes, I feel the need to test my life without some of these affections, to re-discover my mental, emotional, and physical health apart from them. The aim is not deprivation; the aim is wholeness and well-being. Health that provides stamina for true living. Next month I will turn forty, so this month seemed like a fitting time to clear and re-start my eating and drinking habits, before a new decade, before the holidays. A few friends and I joined together for meal planning and support to do a 26-day plant-based detox loaded with smoothies, juices, herbal tea, and high-nutrient meals, and without caffeine, alcohol, meat, salt, or spicy foods. As you can imagine, the first week was the hardest, with headaches and lethargy, yet by the second week, my energy felt intense and steady. I felt stronger in my workouts and runs, and clearer minded in my days. I felt better in my clothing and noticed more tone again. It has been so good. The hardest parts, as expected, were the cocktail parties or social gatherings and family meals, as I was eating something different from my family, which was weird. But it sparked so many conversations about freedom and choice, the ways in which we use our freedom to make hard decisions. Such a good lesson and so many applications. I have finished the detox now and am creating my own meal plans again, but this time with more intention toward vegetables and fruits. I am delaying introducing coffee and meat again, although I did enjoy a small glass of natural organic wine over the weekend. Right now, I don’t know where I am heading, but I am excited to protect some new boundaries, to search out economical ways to enjoy whole foods and play with new flavors and recipes. // Helpful Tools // A detox partner or group. 

Although I do much to protect my skin in the summertime, I always seem prone to dry spots and dullness as the weather cools off and summer’s kiss fades. I imagine I’m not alone. The best combat against dryness and dullness is diet. I can always see the evidence of my diet in my skin. So when I appear piqued, I focus first on eating and drinking more fresh produce and of course drinking an appropriate amount of water. It always makes a difference.

But sometimes, especially as my skin ages, I need something more to fill in those deepening fine lines, dark spots, and dry patches. Feeling the same? Below are my six favorite products to hydrate, nourish, and leave my skin glowing.

Cleansing Balm to Hydrate / Hydrate on the inside. Hydrate on the outside. If you’re needing more moisture, this is your product. I can’t rave enough. The Cleansing Balm is my very favorite product for all seasons, but especially in the colder months when my skin becomes drier. Loaded with Vitamin C and various berry oil extracts, this will cleanse, hydrate, and brighten your skin tones. My skin looks smoother and feels softer with this balm, and I never have that “tight skin” feel after washing my face. Whether you’re a beauty minimalist or in need a catch-all product for travel, this is worth it! Rub on dry skin, and remove with a warm muslin cloth (included with the purchase).

Nourishing Cream Exfoliant to Regenerate Cells / Sloughing off dry, dead skin helps boost cell regeneration in your skin––something that happens naturally in young skin and slows down as we age. This creamy exfoliant doubles as a cleanser for me two mornings a week. The jojoba beads are gentle for your skin and the environment, as most exfoliants contain harmful plastic beads now negatively impacting our oceans and sea life.

Rejuvenating Radiance Serum to Brighten Skin Tones/ Okay, truthfully, I love the entire Rejuvenating Collection, but I noticed an immediate difference when I began using this serum twice a day beneath my moisturizer. After just a couple of weeks, it had begun noticeably firming and brightening my skin, including a couple of dark spots on my face. Plus, I only need one pump to cover my entire face and neck so it last a while.

No. 01 Brightening Face Oil to Improve Luster/ Wait. Oil? On my face? I know. Each of the face oils are a blend of seven different plant oils targeted toward specific skin treatments. This one, recently awarded by Allure’s Best of Beauty for 2017, is for brightening––exactly what I want following the sun-drenched season. The No. 1 oil includes Vitamin C and blend of several oils, including rose hip, black currant, and orange. Plus this doubles as a hair serum for frayed ends, a spot treatment for dry patches, and a primer to even makeup application.

Color Pinch Cream Blusher in Caramel to Contour Face/ This one was unexpected, but has climbed to be one of my daily favorites. I swipe it just along my cheekbones and gently rub in as a contouring bronzer. I often dab a little on my eyelids for a quick spot of color, too. Made with Jojoba ester and carnauba wax, the cream blusher blends well, but also condition and hydrate skin.

Sheer Lipstick in Currant to Add Lustrous Autumn Color/ I tend to stick with lighter, more neutral lip shades, but I love this one for Autumn. In the day, I may just dab a bit for a light flush to my lips, but I love the more concentrated color for the evening or nights out.


As a consultant with Beautycounter, I earn a commission on all purchases through my site. I am sharing them with you because I love the products, the transparency of the ingredients, the public mission for safety, and of course, because I have noticed a beautiful change in my skin as a result of using them. If you have any questions or are interested to hear more about the opportunities with Beautycounter, please feel free to email me!  Thank you for supporting my growing space and small business. You are a gift. 

Every night I slide into bed grabbing a book on the stool beside me. Most evenings, my eyelids begin to close after just a few flips of the page. Bedtime is clearly not the best reading time for me any longer. My days begin early and by the time I’m tucked into bed, my body seems to intuitively know I need sleep. So if I want to read a book and actually understand what I’m reading, I have to make time during the day, which requires a bit of extra discipline, one that always feeds my soul and massages my brain a bit.

When my children were younger and regularly napping, I tended to find pockets of quiet a bit easier, mimicking their patterns for day rest, but it’s a little more difficult as the kids grow and our energy is more constant throughout the day. And so I look for these pockets in the morning before the kids wake up, on the weekends when we schedule regular periods away from screens, and ideally during the day when my children are working or playing independently. Audiobooks are a lifesaver, too. Also in the moments when I tend to flippantly pick up my phone to scroll social medias, I’m learning to ask myself more often: is this what I need right now, or would it be better to sit somewhere with a book? 

I tend to read with a pencil in hand, an active expectation that I’m going to learn something new, I suppose. The more I mark up a book, the more I connect with it, digest it, practice or think on it. I still remember when Olive first began learning to read, I found her flipping through a chapter book marking every sight she knew at that point. I thought, that’a girl. Although I love immersing into a well-written novel, memoirs, self-helps, and cultural commentaries always lure me. I find myself with stacks on parenting, poetry, writing, business, culture, etc.––books that often directly apply to my living. Fiction feels like spa therapy, and so I always aim to keep one novel and a book of poetry on my nightstand, too. Consider it balance to my constant effort in self-improvement (insert: eye roll).

For those of you who are curious, here’s a smattering of the non-fiction on my nightstand I’d recommend. Unfortunately, I only read one adult novel this summer. ONE! And although promising in ideas, the content turned out to be a bit unsavory, so I won’t mention it by name. (Insert: smirk.) But I would love to hear your favorite fiction recommendations. As you can see, I can use some storytelling balance.


The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection  | As someone who remembers childhood and teen life before the internet, who traveled internationally as a teen without a cell phone, who didn’t have a personal email until her last year of university, and who parented her children’s early years without social media, I LOVE this book! It’s a MUST for every parent and millennial, right alongside Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows. Don’t get me wrong, I totally feel old writing this, but this is the first book that actually refers to my generation as the last to remember absence, to remember life with abstract space and digitally noiseless downtime. He works through many topics in this book, even heartbreaking ones, like the modern hardships of depression and cyber-bullying plaguing teens and young adults. It’s well-written, poetic even, and enjoyable to read without the fear-mongering tone prevalent in other books on technology.  If you’re looking for some practical parenting thoughts on this idea of absence, you might find what I wrote early last year about the hidden gift of boredom helpful.

Gracelaced: Discovering Timeless Truths Through Seasons of the Heart | My friendship with Ruth has been a gift of the internet, one for which I’m grateful. Her wisdom, directness, and love for Scripture always speaks straight to me and so many others. She is a gifted watercolor and hand-letter artist, and just launched her first book––a book divided seasonally and topically into over 30 different truths and meditations on Scripture. She sent it to me a few weeks ago to preview, and one of my favorite aspects, aside from the beauty and encouragement, is the way it’s parsed seasonally into digestible segments, making it a gift to pick up while I’m making dinner or taking a small break from school or work. It is always a fresh breath, especially as a mother.

The Soul of Discipline: Simplicity Parenting Approach to Warm, Firm, and Calm Guidance | Most parenting books address specific stages from infancy to teens, but what I adore about this read is the gentle, holistic viewpoint, defining what discipline is––debunking the negative connotations––and how it evolves through the different phases of parenthood. Written by the same author of Simplicity Parenting (one of my very favorite parenting books), The Soul of Discipline follows the Governor-Gardener-Guide phases of parenting, how our role of leadership changes as our children grow, from the vigilant, boundary setting Governor of the early years through the probing and attentive Gardener during the tween years into the more relaxed decision-maker and more helpful Guide years with our teenagers. Although parents of infants and toddlers might not find the Gardener and Guide sections important quite yet, this book will be helpful to have as a reference in the years ahead. Consider this a gentle resource that will grow with you, one to reference at any point in parenthood. If you’re curious, here’s a list of other favorite parenting books.

Grit: The Power and Passion of Perseverance  | Mark and I have had several conversations with our children about why we do hard things, and this book was a song of praises for the value of hard work and cultivating lifelong interest. Equipped with heaps of research and narrative, I found myself challenged, encouraged, confronted, and inspired in nearly every life touchpoint––from the way we parent to how I grow a business and cultivate vision in general. I mentioned this book here a couple of months ago, as something anyone working toward hard things should read, and I mean it! I even marked certain chapters to listen to on audiobook with the children in the car. I’m sure they loved the discussion of high and low-tier goals afterward, too. See what fun our car rides are? ;)

Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul | This book was handed to me recently by a dear friend after a conversation about our 3-ness on the Enneagram––our constant need to be doing and to be successful in all endeavors, our tendency to perceive that we are loved for what we do rather than who we are. You can read more about the Enneagram, but this particular book has been a well-spring of wisdom, beautiful encouragement, and rest for me in a really hard last few months. It’s rare in modern culture to be reminded of the gift of begin brought low.

The Rain in Portugal  | I picked this book up on a whim last month. I haven’t read any of Collins poetry in a couple of years, but I always remember his lighthearted, masterful play with words and felt I could use some laughter. Plus, his poetry books always have the best covers, and so you know, I totally judge books by their covers. The same is true of win bottle labels. Design matters. But I digress. I like to have books of poetry around the house to pick up when I have a brief moment of quiet and don’t want to commit to a longer period of reading. This collection is cheeky and endearing, whisking me off on a ferry or to Moscow in the most causal way, as if we were lifelong friends having a conversation. This one I’d definitely recommend and re-read.

nurturing_self_skin_care_beautycounternururing_self_skincare_beautycounter-2

“a series dedicated to nurturing and nourishing the self from the inside out”

Perhaps I am noticing my own skin more as my children grow older and I help them cultivate their own self-care practices. As in every other area of life, it is easier to lead them if I honor the practice well myself. It’s the hidden gift in parenting: we can’t give what we don’t have. Yet having a conversation about skin care is as much a conversation about genetics, food, sleep, and stress as it is about skincare product; it’s also a conversation about self-image and social norms. Each impacts the other whether we intend them to or not.

I have always been a simplest in terms of skin care, using minimal product and make-up, and for the most part, it has worked for my skin. But in the last year or so, like many other things, my skin has changed. Parts of it have become drier while other parts have become more prone to break-outs. (What the heck?!) Fine lines are forming, revealing where I smile or how I focus with a furled brow. And with my thirty-eighth birthday arriving next week, I am honestly asking myself this: how will my attitude be toward myself as I grow older?

While in a waiting room with my children the other day, my girls noticed a magazine with a Botox ad in it: a beautiful woman, peacefully closing her eyes while a needle pushed into the skin at the corner of her brow. Their expressions told me all. They didn’t remark at her loveliness or her content mannerisms, they only noted the injection with horrified expressions, looking to me to explain whether this would be their fate as women. In a very simplified way, I explained the cultural pressure to look young and wrinkle-less, to which they both looked pained and shocked. Blythe responded, “Why? Wrinkles are the fun part of getting older!” I immediately jotted those words down so I can remember them now and forever. As I head into all the middle years of life, I want to be gentle with myself and my skin. I want to look forward and not backward, to view my forming wrinkles and lines not as an indicator of waning beauty, but an invitation into a deeper one.

This year, I read (and loved) the book Skin Cleanse and initially followed her journal and elimination idea with my food and lifestyle for 7-10 days to begin making note of what might be causing negative reactions in my skin. Taking some time to learn about this part of my body has been teaching me another way to appreciate, nurture, and take care of myself. So it seemed natural to share these thoughts and practices here, too. nurturing_self_skin_care_beautycounter-2nururing_self_skincare_beautycounter-9SKIN WELLNESS

It’s possible to choose the highest quality skincare and yet still negatively impact our skin by living with high amounts of stress, malnutrition, or sleep deprivation. Over-straining the nervous or digestive systems can naturally result in skin flare-ups, rashes, itchiness, flakiness, and so on. Conversely, it’s just as possible to eat and rest well and yet rub harmful products onto our face and bodies. These sort of products––with hidden harsh chemicals or metals––disrupt our endocrine system, negatively affecting our hormone levels leading to changes in mood, sexual development, metabolism, and our skin’s appearance. That’s right, ladies. Here’s an informative article from the Journal of Applied Toxicology.

Although I’ve always known our skin is important, I have never really thought of it as an organ. In fact, it is our largest organ, and according to this article, it makes up 8 pounds or 22 square feet of the human body. With three separate layers, it is both a protectant and sealant, waterproofing and guarding our internal organs against bacteria. It is connected to our nervous system sending and receiving signals to the brain, helping to regulate our body temperature. And the briefest truth is how we take of the inside of our skin is just as important as what we apply to the top of it.beautycounter_nurturing_self_skincare-3beautycounter_nurturing_self_skincare-5 BEAUTYCOUNTER

I have always been particular about the products I use on myself or my children, even making several on my own with essential oils. But with the skin changes I’ve experienced the last month, I wanted something more consistent in quality to help narrow factors in why my skin was breaking out in certain spots or dry in others. I first heard about Beautycounter at the beginning of the year through a friend and was shocked by what I learned about the beauty industry after watching this brief video. I valued the company’s clear ingredient list and their commitment to the never list. As someone who has always purchased natural, plant-based products, I could not believe how many I had around the house with the toxic chemicals listed on the never list. Yikes! It’s been helpful for more than just skincare.

I decided to sign up as a consultant this last summer––a way to share things I’m learning, products I’m absolutely loving, and a way to help support our family. I especially love the business––their emphasis to educate the public about what we use on our bodies and to also transform the legislation around the skin care industry. Naturally, I have slowly been transitioning all of my skincare to Beautycounter and am now shifting my cosmetics as well. I know they are not the only quality skincare around, but I wanted to be clear about what I’m using and why.

SKINCARE / I began with the Nourishing Collection, using the Cleansing Balm to wash and adding a couple of drop of #2 Plumping Face Oil at night. I am slightly obsessed with the Cleansing Balm, so much so that if I could have only one Beautycounter product to use day and night, that would be it. I only use about the amount in my hand shown above, unless I’ve worn more eye make-up, and it removes all of my makeup really well (even mascara) and comes with a washable muslin cloth which helps gently exfoliate my skin each night. It’s a wonderful hydrant, so I can use leave it on my clean skin in lieu of a moisturizer. I’ve occasionally used it for my elbows or heels, something I’ll be grateful for in the winter. It’s perfect for eczema and psoriasis, too. I also keep the Peppermint Lip Conditioner on our bathroom counter, which I swipe on several times during the day (as do my girls).

MAKEUP/ In terms of daily wear at this point. Most days I use Dew Skin, especially if we’ll be outside for a while since it has an SPF. Like it’s name, it leaves my skin with a dewy look that I’ll appreciate more in the winter when I’m sweating less. Wink. I use the Skin Concealer Pen and the Lengthening Mascara daily. The concealer pen has a brush on the tip instead of a wand, which I love. It makes the application so much smoother. And the mascara is the best mascara ever compared to other non-toxic brands I’ve tried. It has beeswax in it, which helps it build really well. Most days I swipe one little stroke for a little definition. And for the evenings I’m going out, it will build really well. The Cream Blusher is next on my list.

I’ll also briefly note here that they’ve just released their holiday collections which can be a great way to try or gift a few products at once. I’m hoping to get this one this year to sample several colors at once. Feel free to email me if you have any questions.  nurturing_self_skincare_beautycounter-8nururing_self_skincare_beautycounter-3

LIFESTYLE FACTORS

But as I noted above, what I’m putting on my skin is only part of the equation. In the last year, I’ve also re-evaluated my entire lifestyle (hence this series), noting how each can positively and negatively impact my skin, too.

sleep / I know there are often other people and circumstances that affect our sleep (I hear you, parents!), but sleep is SO important for all manner of wellness, including our skin wellness. According to this article, beauty sleep is in fact a real thing, as blood flow better circulates to our skin while we sleep, affecting our skin’s dryness, puffiness, and color. If it helps, I shared some tips and thoughts about developing healthy sleep habits here.

hydrate / Our cells are mostly water, and when we become dehydrated it affects everything, including our skin. I have to really watch this in cold months, when I tend to want hot coffee and tea to help stay warm. But I can tell when I’m dehydrated. My tongue feels dry; my brain feels cloudy; my body feels tired. Drink water! To help, I try to start my day with a large glass of water.

protect alone time / Stress affects our skin! And in a very small way, carving out space for yourself in the day can help decrease stress. At the very least, it can give you time to rest or sleep. I often find my own time alone in my morning routine.

exercise / I am learning that exercise doesn’t have to be rigorous, but it can be. A daily walk can be as effective for relieving stress and promoting blood circulation as a run. Try yoga or Crossfit or running or swimming. Do what works for your lifestyle right now, but do something a few minutes each day.

eat or drink your veggies / All of our bodies are unique and uniquely process foods differently. But we all need fruit and veggies. I love all foods and try to eat whole foods with plenty of fruit/veggies as much as possible. Don’t get me wrong. I love a strong cup of coffee in the morning and a glass of wine in the evening. I sometimes eat leftover cake for breakfast on the weekend. Balance is always key. But I’ve found something that always help calm my skin is making a glass of fresh juice a few times a week. Here are two of my favorites:

A Hydrating Glow : 1 beet, 3 carrots, 3 celery ribs, 1 large cucumber, 1 lemon (or orange if I want a bit of sweetness)

The Immunity Boost : 1 apple, 1 orange, 4 carrots, 1 cucumber, 2″ piece of ginger

Like so many other areas of living, the goal is not mastery. It’s not achieving a perfect ideal. The goal is again to pay attention and to quiet the noise of our lives and listen to our bodies. When my eyes begin to puff or carry dark circles, I may apply concealer, but I also want to learn to pause, to ask myself about my sleep and hydration. When break-outs or new lines appear, I may be frustrated and try to fix them, but I also want to consider my stress levels and the foods I’m eating. All of these things are connected, all of these things matter to my well-being.

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Consider the regular practice of unplugging a cleanse for the soul, an opportunity to listen to both yourself and others in a different way.

Like many thirty-somethings, I am old enough to remember life prior to the internet, before cell phones or personal computers or even dial-up internet access. I remember car trips without the option of screens or electronic navigation. I remember writing nearly everything by hand, from school reports to the little notes I passed to friends in the school hallways or left on the fridge or countertops for my parents, little evidences of where I had been.  I remember the first time I heard about the world wide web and later opened my first personal email account. It sounds ancient now, even as I write it out, knowing these words are being read in another part of the globe, perhaps on a beach or a bus or a favorite bedroom chair. Technology has forever changed our human existence. It has more obviously changed the way we relate with others, but also the way we perceive and relate with ourselves.

It surprises me that on any given visit for a personal wellness check, my physician will ask me about my diet, drug/alcohol consumption, smoking habits, and stress levels, and yet not once ask how many hours a day I spend on a screen or whether I ever use my cell phone while driving, eating meals, or going to the bathroom. These questions seem just as relevant to my mental and emotional wellbeing.  I do not think the internet is inherently bad or harmful to the self. It allows us to follow news threads around the world, to take classes online, pay bills without stamps, and avoid shopping malls altogether. We can read books, write essays, and share photographs and art with the world and connect with other people, businesses, and causes outside of our locales. Technology can build community. It can educate us and even begin breaking down cultural biases, introducing us to parts of the world we might not ever see or experience. But the point is: it is always connecting us.

Last year, when our family began practicing a regular Sabbath meal/day together, I also began practicing a weekly 24-hour break from my phone and computer.  Most weeks, this lines up with our family’s sabbath day, but sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, it is an intentional 24-hour period where I make myself unavailable to email, interact on social media, work on the computer, and so on. I am unplugged. After years of working and connecting online, I have noticed my soul begins to ache after staring at a screen for too long. My brain begins to feel cloudy and weary, like it has multi-tasked for too long. Practicing a weekly rest from screens creates order and balance of self again. It prioritizes my life as it exists apart from the internet. It has also taught me to recognize when I need quiet, when I need to go outdoors and move my body or simply find a place to rest my thinking and stretch. This regular unplugging has revived the word unavailable again, and it feels good.

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IDEAS FOR UNPLUGGING

read a book | I have recently begun re-reading Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brainsa well-written book on how internet use is reshaping our neural pathways so that we are better skimmers and surveyors on information, but no longer able to focus or contemplate deeply. He writes, “What the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. Whether I’m online or not, my mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.” Reading books––real books––preserves the faculties of your brain that help you concentrate.

put the phone away | Even on a day I am not fasting from my screens, taking time to put to my phone away in the car or at the table or even on an average day at home is teaching my children something about phone etiquette, about offering preference to those whom you’re with over whatever might be happening elsewhere. Truly, I am not always wonderful with this, but I am learning. It is best if I tuck my phone in my purse out of reach, ignoring calls, texts, and emails until I arrive. I sometimes ask the kids to text for me, if it’s something time sensitive. Be patient with yourself and others as we navigate new cultural norms.

expect to listen  | When I am struggling to write or think clearly during my day, I know I need to unplug. It helps me to hear my own voice again, to work with my hands and let go of distraction in my mind and heart. I might take a walk around the block or stretch for a few moments wherever I am in the house. I breathe deeply and listen more closely.

go outside | This seems obvious, but it is always so refreshing (except when it is 100 degrees) to be outdoors. Sometimes I work in the yard or play with the kids. I might make a picnic or on the best weather days spread a blanket in the yard to read a book or sift through new recipes.

RESOURCES, FOR THOUGHT

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains | Sherry Turkle “Connected, but alone?” | Tiffany Schlain “Growing Up the Internet”