Labor Day has passed, and I can no longer use the summer card, by which I mean, the mindset I’ve cultivated over my 22 years as a parent that there is no need for order or routine from June to August because IT IS SUMMER for goodness sake!
I have settled one kid back into her new college digs and the other into his boarding school dorm room. Back in my parenting-from-a-distance mode, I realized that my own self care and daily rhythm have suffered during all the fun we had this summer. I have abandoned those touchstones that keep me sane, and it’s time to get them back in my life.
I don’t think I’m alone in succumbing to this selective amnesia when it comes to making choices that are good for me vs. fun in the moment. Most of us actually know what’s good for us. We don’t need new information. We just need to let our bodies and souls help us remember what we’ve forgotten.
If you, too, are feeling untethered as you traverse the space between summer and fall, read on for ideas on getting yourself back on track without beating yourself up for all the fun you had this summer! First stop? Let’s look at the beginning and end of our day. How we start and end our days has a profound impact on everything that goes between the two.
Let’s start with just these daily bookends. What’s the first thing you do each day and the last? For me, I’ve gotten into the habit of picking up my phone first thing in the morning and binge-watching shows at day’s end. These are not habits that serve me well. If I resist the urge to reach for my phone first thing and sit quietly and listen, what practices emerge of choices that would move me toward a state of groundedness? Your answer will be different from mine, but here’s what comes up for me as a nourishing morning routine:
Don’t touch the phone.
Go to the kitchen and make warm lemon water. Keep resisting the phone.
Head upstairs to my yoga room. Leave the phone downstairs.
Practice yoga intuitively, just moving as my body wants to move (10-30 minutes).
Meditate for 5-10 minutes.
Read something spiritual for 5 minutes.
Journal for 5 minutes.
That is an hour upon waking that would feed my soul instead of feeding my craving for information (Instagram & Twitter) and distraction (word games). I write this as much as a reminder to me as a jumping off point for you. Somewhere in that quiet place deep inside, you know how to start your day in a way that’s congruent with your truest self. I’m just here to urge you to listen up to your wise self!
So, you do you all day long. We’re not going to overhaul your whole schedule now—just the beginning and the end. I have had a sacred end-of-day ritual that I rarely compromise, but by the end of this summer, even that was not happening. I need to light candles, give myself a warm oil massage and soak in the bath. I have not been doing any of these things, instead opting to catch up on my “guilty pleasure” shows like Bachelor in Paradise and Younger. My sacred bathroom space is a mess as I’ve not fully unpacked from one adventure before packing for another. The resulting piles are making me avoid my sanctuary that’s feeling more like a storage area than my private retreat. So, here’s my plan for ditching the late night TV and easing back into my peaceful slumber routine.
Clean up my bathroom, setting the stage for the rituals to return.
Screen time cut-off of 9 p.m. Leave phone charging in the kitchen.
Light candles and warm my oil at 9:15
Abhyanga (warm oil self-massage) at 9:30
Bath at 9:45.
In bed reading a book by 10:15.
Both my morning and evening routines are made up of mindful activities that help me reclaim my time and, in the process, my soul. Scrolling mindlessly or trying to beat one more high score on a word game were robbing me of starting each day connecting with my inner wisdom. And my escapist TV habit was taking the place of true self care.
If you are looking for some reading material to take to bed with you after you turn off your phone for the evening, may I suggest my newest book baby, Original Resistance: Reclaiming Lilith, Reclaiming Ourselves? Through poetry, essays and art, this anthology will light fires within you that will illuminate a path back to your truest self. Luminaries including Sue Monk Kidd, Mirabai Starr and HeatherAsh Amara are singing this book’s praises. And a free small group study guide is available here. The facilitator welcome and first three sessions are up, with the remaining six sessions coming soon.
Here’s to falling mindfully into some new habits together!