Gentler Days: Tips for a Gentler Morning

You know when you first click over to a new blog and you feel that instant sense of connection? You don’t actually know the person, but after reading just a couple of posts, you feel like you could be friends? It happens rarely, but man, that’s the best!

I got that feeling as soon as I clicked over to Sparklingly, which is why I’m so excited to introduce a new three-part series courtesy of one of my very favorite bloggers, J! J’s posts are this perfect combination of down-to-earth and what I like to call “fancy” (check out her recent medicinal moxology post as an example), and her writing, like her knitted napkins, is beautiful.

Like me, J is constantly experimenting with little life tweaks to create a happier day, and I’m always drawing inspiration and ideas from her suggestions. I asked her if she would be interested in doing a guest post, and the post she sent me was so detailed and thoughtful, I decided to break it into a Gentler Days series, including tips for a gentler morning, a gentler work day, and a gentler evening/night.

I hope you enjoy her advice as much as I do!

Potted Flowers

I’m so completely thrilled that Amanda asked me to pop over for a guest post. I don’t remember how I first found her beautifully-photographed, deliciously-creative, perkily-puggled site, but once I did, I couldn’t help but become a loyal follower!

Full disclosure: I’m in it as much for the good eating as the dog watching and noting the parallels in our lives—we’re both the same age, married, living in bustling Northern/New England cities (hi from Manhattan!), and interested in living as well as we possibly can.

While I’m not vegan, I do share Amanda’s outlook on food: it should be real, whole, flavorful, and as pure as can be. I’ve tried to extend that to other parts of my life as well, from the products I use in my home and on my body to how I live in general. I find that the gentler I am to myself, the better I am to everyone else—so I incorporate small tweaks on just that idea into my daily life.

When I commented on one of Amanda’s posts to share some of my own “hacks”, she asked if I could expand upon them. If you, too, are always looking for ways of being gentler to yourself, perhaps some of these might inspire a few good changes of your own?

For a gentler morning…

Coffee & Roses
– Lights off to ease into the day: If you’re stuck with a no-window bathroom like I am (and you have the morning to yourself), this one’s for you: don’t turn your bathroom light on when you stumble out of bed. Leave the door open and let the light from open shades throughout your home brighten up the bathroom so you can take care of business (except for when makeup and hair time comes). It’s so incredibly relaxing to take a shower with a soft glow from the sun versus the glare from light fixtures.

– Fill your home with green plants and fresh flowers: There’s nothing that picks up your mood, creates a more organic living space, and makes you feel ready for another day than sweetly nodding blooms and lushly shining greenery greeting you when you wake up.

Fresh Fruit & Flowers

– Turn the burner on and the microwave off: If you prepare your breakfast, or hot lemon water, or coffee/tea/hot chocolate, oatmeal, etc. at home, don’t use the microwave. Besides the fact that you want as few crazy electromagnetic frequencies between your body and your food as possible, there’s just something calming about heating up water or milk on the stovetop that forces you to enjoy your morning, rather than rush through it.

– Read your labels: The amount of things we put into our body is scary! If you can, try as much as possible to limit the amount of chemicals you use. For me this means using edible products—if I can’t eat it, I try not to use it on my body, which is why I now make coconut oil and cacao butter moisturizersface washes, sunscreen, and deodorant for myself. I also refuse to buy any food product with a long-winded label (the longer the ingredient list, the more likely it is to have weird things in it).

– Dry brush: Look into getting a long-handled body brush and smaller face brush to use in the mornings before your shower. A good dry brushing of your skin gets rid of dead skin cells, makes your skin more elastic, promotes cell renewal and blood flow, and it just feels good!

Dry Brushing

– Filter, filter, filter! I try not to read the news, especially local news—it’s just too much to bear. When something big happens that I need to know more about, I’ll hear about it somehow, but scrolling through all the badness is a lot to take, especially first thing in the morning (or last thing at night!).

Thanks, J! What are some things you do for a gentler morning?

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  1. Thank you for the lovely intro, Amanda!
    Can’t wait to see what people share! 🙂

    XOXO,
    J.

  2. Kait says

    Oh I love this! I’m so excited about this series.

    Two things: I start each day with an intention/prayer (whatever you want to call it). This is an idea I picked up from Gabby Bernstein and I started when things got really tough between school and health stuff this year. Its stuck because I like the hope + newness + good start it gives to my day. I try to do this before I open my eyes but sometimes I don’t remember! Regardless, I always say the serenity prayer + some personal intentions such as “help me be focused and productive” or “find peace and calm in this busy day.”

    I’ve also found that doing something methodological, and to me meditative, before jumping in the shower helps me ease into my day with more peace. For me, this is usually preparing and/or starting breakfast. Some days, I mix up my smoothie. Others, like this morning, I slowly measure out everything I want for oatmeal and allow it to cook low and slow while I get ready. There’s something about measuring and chopping and starting my day with loving creation that is so beautiful.

    xo

    1. “There’s something about measuring and chopping and starting my day with loving creation that is so beautiful.” — Well said, Kait!

      People are always startled when they find out I wake up hours and hours before our office opens, but if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have time for that lovely, methodical, creating time in the morning, which you’re absolutely right, is such a peaceful and beautiful way to start the day!

  3. Alla says

    I also agree with heating up your milk/water on the stove top. It IS more relaxing… magic. If I commute to work I make it a point to put the smart phone away and open a book! Sometimes I look up and notice I’m pretty much the only one indulging in such vintage pastime…
    What a great collaboration idea ladies!

    1. Ha, “vintage pastime”—love it!

      And, I was just reading Bon Appetit’s latest “Morning Routine” blog post over lunch and the actor/writer Eli Roth has this to say on the subject:

      “…my favorite part of my morning is my Gaggia coffee machine…I have a grinder, I’ll grind the beans fresh, pack the espresso–this is a beautiful hand pump machine, a gorgeous piece of machinery, the centerpiece of the kitchen. It’s like a 20-minute exercise to make the coffee, clean it, change it, but it’s part of my morning ritual. I always feel better after I do it.”

      http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandforums/blogs/badaily/2013/07/eli-roth-morning-routine.html#ixzz2ak4Ap5jM

      We’re not alone! 😉

  4. Rhona says

    Great post. I just read something on another blog last night about having a more calming morning and these tips are will also help me. I really enjoy the cooking on the stove instead of the microwave. There is just something soothing, as you said, about cooking instead of plugging in the time. It really does make you feel more relaxed to stir and gaze for a few minutes.
    Also, I a huge fan of making my own shea butter and coconut butter products. I now use these on my hair (I am black and is great on natural hair) and my skin. I have had some old marks on my skin that just disappeared since using my blend. And, my skin is soooo much softer and lush due to the shea and coconut. I look forward to this series. Thanks J and Amanda!

    1. Homemade butters and potions are so lush (and magical!).
      Glad you enjoyed the post, Rhona! 🙂

  5. I love making daily tweaks in life like this. And J I am already in love with your blog. Amanda- thanks for introducing J 🙂 I need to try that face brush thingy and flower or anything green brightens my life.

    1. Whoa, way to make me blush, Dixya! Thanks! 🙂

      Let us know if you try the face brush—I promise you’ll see great changes (and your skin will feel amazing!). Just make sure to use a natural-bristle brush.

  6. J – totally with you here! We haven’t missed hearing the beeps of the microwaves years ago and news I totally avoid. – However facebook these days seems to really have taken the place of news. I find out about a lot before I hear it from a direct news source. ~ lovely idea for the 3-parter. So good to have these rituals… – M

    1. Thanks, M! I may have to un follow some of my FB pages…sometimes they reveal more news than I want!

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