My Morning Ritual

I like the word ‘ritual’ more than ‘routine’. To me, a routine sounds dull, monotonous. Mechanical. A routine is intentional, as minimalism is intentional. It is something I have crafted for myself to give myself a good start to the day.

To be perfectly honest with you guys. I am not a morning person. I’m not even an afternoon person. My chronotype is a bear, meaning I crave sleep and am most productive mid-morning. I have trouble getting up and am pretty eager to climb back under the duvet at the end of the day. In the mornings, I more or less resemble this:

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Suffice to say, mornings are rough for me. So I take them slow. My alarm goes off at about 5:30.

Yes. 5:30. While I need sleep, it’s about quality over quantity and oversleeping can damage the quality of sleep you have at night. The early wake-up ensures I get enough z’s but have time for an easygoing morning. That said, I don’t get up straight away. I like to have a leisurely stretch because my muscles will be tight and tender. I’ll start on the glass of water I leave beside the bed. After 15 minutes or so, I get myself up. Patrick is a night owl, so he’ll still be sleeping.

I’ll stick in some earphones and listen to a podcast or some upbeat music while I wash my face and brush my teeth. It helps to wake me up. Next I’ll do a yoga video (Yoga With Adriene on YouTube is my favourite) followed by some guided meditation on Headspace. Keeping calm is central to my health and gentle stretching is great for my body so I try and do both. Even if it’s just ten minutes apiece. Afterwards, it’s time to make breakfast. My current breakfast obsession is ‘cinnamon toast breakfast quinoa‘ by Cookie and Kate. I like to top it off with some chia seeds and blueberries. I make enough for two and try and coax Patrick out of bed to eat. If not, it goes in the fridge for later. I like it when he gets up, though. A few minutes with a loved one is a great way to start the day.

I’ll make up a mug of cold brew coffee to have with it and only then do I allow myself to check my phone if Patrick is still sleeping. Usually it’s to check out the headlines on my Flipboard app.

After breakfast, I get dressed. I have a shower and pick what I’m wearing the night before so it’s a snap to get ready. My makeup is pretty minimal because my medication makes my skin pretty acne-prone. Just some concealer under my eyes, some tinted moisturiser and brow filler and I am done. Then I usually have time to have a quick play with my cat, Leo, before it’s time to kiss my boys goodbye and head out the door.
How do you like to start your day? Let me know your favourite morning rituals in the comments.

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For the Love of Busy

“No matter how busy a man is, he is never too busy to stop and talk about how busy he is”

Author unknown

You know that guy, who complains about how stressed and busy they are, how little sleep they run on. They complain, but there’s a glimmer of pride as well. Maybe you’ve been that guy at some point or another. I know I have. We read articles about successful CEO’s who sleep for four hours a night and work long hours for six figure salaries and we want to be like them because that is the ideal. Who doesn’t want to be rich and successful? So we push ourselves. Five hours sleep, running on nothing but caffeine and willpower. The shiniest, most productive cog in the machine. We live in a world obsessed with productivity.

But here’s the kicker, folks. Busy and productive are two very different things. It doesn’t matter how fast I run on the wheel, I’m not going anywhere.

Busy is not something to idolise. Busy is not something to love. But we do. We love to hate it. To wear it as a badge of honour to prove the lengths we go to, the demand we’re in, how much we contribute to the world. I have to wonder, though. What are we contributing? What are we sacrificing? How does this all balance out?

When my health took a serious turn for the work this year, I was in denial. I wanted to be fine. I expected myself to maintain the fast and efficient level of work that I had been capable of before hand. Instead of maintaining my work, however, I started making mistakes. Lots of them. So many that I soon found myself in a meeting with my boss, staring at a warning letter. Something had to change. It took a major job scare for me to realise a few crucial things. My job wasn’t a career. I didn’t want a career. I enjoy my job, but it should not be the centre of my life. I shouldn’t be damaging my own body trying to keep up a standard I thought they expected of me. I should work to live, not live to work.

I also realised I wasn’t the same person I was when they hired me. Not physically, emotionally or mentally. I needed to adapt to the new way my body operated. It was a slower pace than I was used to, but it would have to do. I talked to my partner and we both decided that full-time work was not ideal for me so, once he graduates university and starts earning more, I could reduce my hours and go part-time.

With the pressure off, I stopped pushing myself. I acknowledged my limits and made them clear to those I work with. Before that meeting, my boss had no idea what I was going through. She had no idea I was constantly sick and in pain. Once it was out there, she offered help and support.

Now I manage my work better. I make sure deadlines are clear so I prioritise better. If there’s an extra task added on, I make sure I know which is the most pressing so I’m not scrambling to get everything done. I learn to say no (politely of course). I don’t work through my lunch break and don’t linger after hours unless it’s an emergency. I take regular breaks and make sure my health and wellbeing is my number one priority.

This doesn’t just apply to work, either. I need to accept that sometimes my shelves get dustier than I would prefer, or there are dishes sitting unwashed. I need to know when I can go out with friends and when I need to stay home.

You know what? I’m not stressed or busy but I am productive. I give myself the space to ensure my work is good quality and being calm makes it easier to troubleshoot and come up with solutions when things do go wrong.

Some people enjoy being busy. They thrive under pressure. For me, I prefer having things to get done, but too much and I start stressing out. Anyone with my illness will tell you that stress is like poison. While I may have immediate physical effects, stress is damaging to everyone. People have died from work-related stress. There’s even a word for it in Japan, Karoshi meaning ‘overwork death’. How terrifying is that? We live in a world that literally works people to death. No job, no paycheque, is worth running ourselves into the ground for.

I’m trying to opt out of the rat race for want of something slower and simpler. I’m much happier on the sidelines.

Self Care Sunday: Magical Magnesium

This is the first in my new self care series. On Sundays I will be posting things I’ve been doing to take care of myself. Mostly to keep myself accountable for my own care, but also to encourage you guys to take the time to focus on things that make you feel good.

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I’m not a huge fan of the consumerist version of ‘treat yo self’ because I’m trying to live with less stuff. I’m a recovering impulse buyer, I don’t need the temptation. But self care is about what works for you. You rock. Whether you’re working, studying, healing, you are doing a fantastic job and need to reward yourself. If we let our well-being fall by the wayside, then other parts of our lives begin to suffer. I neglected to take care of myself and listen to my body. I tried to work as if I were a healthy human being and my work suffered and caused a whole host of issues and stress. It was a hard lesson to learn.

Now, on to my self care. Fantastic news, friends. I have been pain-free for three whole days. Now, that might not sound like a big deal, but I’ve been in the midst of a severe fibro flare. This is three days of zero pain after five weeks of constant often debilitating pain. I feel fantastic! My legs still feel weak and I still need my cane when I leave the house, but this is the closest I’ve felt to normal in so long.

What do I attribute to this euphoria? Magnesium. Not the oral supplement. I have been taking that for months with zero improvement. No, what I did was have a bath in magnesium flakes. It’s made with magnesium oil and absorbs better into the body than supplements – at least for me. It’s meant to be five times more effective than Epsom salts.

I’m a girl who loves to soak, so when I stumbled across the magnesium bath flakes I needed no further encouragement. I was ready to hop in the tub. I also added a few drops of some essential oils for a full spa experience (the first time it was with Eco Aroma’s ‘Sinus Blend’ because I was battling a cold. The next baths were with lavender and rosemary).

The suggestion is for a 30 minute bath, it gives the magnesium time to absorb. I grabbed my kindle and settled in for a nice long soak. It was really relaxing and when I – reluctantly – climbed out, I felt really good. No pain. The next day? No pain. Once I hit about 4pm at work I could feel an ache in my wrists, but it was nothing compared to what I had been experiencing. It was much more manageable. I also found that if I had the bath closer to bedtime, I slept better. One of the symptoms of fibromyalgia is difficulty sleeping or non-restorative sleep. I found I woke up less during the night. I’ve been using it daily for three days now and if the benefits keep up, I will not be turning back.

If baths are not your thing, magnesium oil is available in sprays and gels for topical, daytime use (I’ve just ordered the gel myself for when I’m out and about). The brand I used is Amazing Oils because it had the best reviews, but feel free to try out other brands. It’ll be available on Amazon and in health food stores. It comes with a bit of a price tag, definitely more expensive than buying Epsom salts from your local supermarket. I think it’s worth the cost if it relieves my pain and makes me a functional human being again. A handful per bath is all you need and if you don’t have chronic pain, then it will go far. Girls, this stuff will work miracles for cramps as well.

I’m happy to make this a permanent part of my self-care ritual and I hope that if any of you guys try it, that you reap the benefits, too. Take care of yourself, friends!