Wellness rituals I love, Part 2: Dry brushing

Care of the self starts with care of the physical body as a top priority, and the mental,emotional, and spiritual bodies follow closely. Last week I posted about a ritual I love, drinking golden milk each night. The second wellness ritual I want to share in this little mini-series on the blog is about a practice I began last autumn: Dry brushing.

Again: I’m not a medical doctor. Always seek the advice of your medical doctor before starting new regimens

Dry brushing is easy, takes just a minute, and has so many benefits (besides just brushing off dry skin cells,) including:

  • Stimulating the lymphatic system: eliminating cellular waste & toxins
  • Exfoliation: removing dry, dead skin cells, thus unclogging pores and helping you glow
  • Increasing circulation: encourages metabolic waste elimination
  • Reducing stress: The act itself is meditative and can relieve muscle tension and calm your mind, like a body massage might
  • Improving digestion & kidney function: Supports organ function by shedding excess water & toxins
  • It's invigorating: It simply feels good!

One very important thing to note is that there is a correct way to dry brush in order to reap the benefits, especially those involving toxin release and lymphatic drainage. The best how-to I found for this is this video. It's just over 11 minutes long, but its so thorough and informative that it's well worth the watch.

I like to dry brush just before turning on the shower. I purchased a soft bristle brush with a long handle, like this one from Amazon. I also bought a smaller version that's good for travel.

Enjoy! A third installment in this mini-series on physical well-being will be posted next week...

Wellness rituals I love, Part 1: Golden milk

I'm big on self-care rituals. (But you probably already knew that.) Today I'm sharing the first in a little series of blog posts about my favorite daily rituals that directly benefit my physical health, therefore my overall well-being: Golden milk!

Note: I'm not a medical doctor. Always seek the advice of your medical doctor before starting new regimens.

Oh you guys, this is magic in a mug. I've been drinking it nightly for nearly a year, and it is just so soothing to me and is working wonders for my health. There are so many wonderful benefits to drinking golden milk. The most potent part of golden milk is turmeric, which contains curcumin. Curcumin has amazing health benefits, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cancer-preventative properties. Additional benefits of turmeric are:

  • Anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, antiseptic,analgesic,.
  • Boosts immunity.
  • Anti-carcinogenic.
  • Helps maintain cholesterol levels.
  • Promotes digestive health.
  • Liver detoxifier.
  • Regulates metabolism and weight management.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Memory and brain function.
  • Various skin conditions.
  • Neurological disorders.
  • Lowers Triglycerides

The recipe I use for my golden milk is from the wonderful instructional video below. I've written out the ingredients and recipe below (with some of my personal preferences) but I find it very helpful to watch the video tutorial, too.

First, make the turmeric paste:

  • 1/2c spring water
  • 1/4c turmeric powder (I like to get a large bag of quality organic turmeric here. If this becomes a daily ritual for you, you'll save money getting this big bag instead of small portions in your grocery store.)
  • Heat on med/low for 7-9 min stirring constantly
  • Store in glass container in fridge up to 14 days

To make the golden milk from the turmeric paste:

  • 1c milk (It can be cow, almond, coconut, etc. as long as it's unsweetened. Each lends a different flavor to the golden milk, and I've found that unsweetened coconut is my personal preference.)
  • 1tsp turmeric paste you made (above)
  • Honey or maple syrup or stevia to sweeten (Sweetening is optional. I like to add a dollop of manuka honey to mine.)
  • Heat on medium for 5 min
  • Add 1/4-1/2 tsp oil to mug - Udo's oil or coconut oil are my favs
  • Adding a dash of black pepper to recipes containing turmeric enhances curcumin’s bioavailability by 1,000 times, due to black pepper’s hot property called pipeline, so by mixing turmeric and black pepper together, you increase your body’s absorption of the turmeric by 2000% - and it adds a fun kick.

Other golden perks:

  • If you drink it at night before bed, it helps you to fall right to sleep.
  • It dyes the bristles of your toothbrush golden if you brush right after drinking it. (Um, yay..?)
  • If you google 'golden milk' you can get tons more info and variations on the recipe. There are turmeric juices and smoothies out there you can make, if warm drinks aren't your thing.
  • My 8 year old daughter even enjoys golden milk. She prefers hers made in the traditional way, with cow's milk.

Live by the moon

Humans are tidal. We're made of mostly water and pulled by the moon in ways we may not even consciously realize. We undoubtedly feel its pull on our emotional and creative rhythms, so why not tune more into this natural cycle so it can empower and inform our lives? Reproduction is affected by the moon by way of menstruation, fertility, and birth rates. Lunar cycles have been proven to impact the hormones of animals (do your cats go bananas on full moon nights like mine do?), along with influencing crime rates, traffic accidents, and hospital admittance. Acknowledging that this rhythm impresses upon our lives, bringing our awareness to it more fully, and using its power to guide our intentions can help us roll with the tide.

Simple rituals for the lunar cycle

A full lunar cycle, from new moon to new moon, lasts about 29.5 days. The new moon (or when the moon is in total darkness, resting in the shadow of the earth) is aligned with the idea of a fresh start and a new beginning. This is a time to start new projects and plant new seeds. It is a time to call forth energy to manifest something new over the following 14 days when the moon will be waxing, meaning the light part of the moon is growing. I enjoy setting intentions on a new moon for what I'd like to create for myself. I often smudge with the sacred wood, palo santo, to bring about fresh energy during this time. It is a wonderful time to create vision boards, soul collage cards, or to visualize what you would like to call into your life.

My recent full moon cleansing altar
My recent full moon cleansing altar

The full moon (or when the moon is in total, circular brightness, with the sun shining upon its surface) is powerful when it comes to honoring manifestations, decision-making, and setting intentions for what to release as we move through the following 14 days when the moon will be waning. Waning means the light part will be decreasing in size, as we move toward the next new moon. This is a wonderful time for smudging with sage or cedar, herbs which assist us in cleansing ourselves or our space, as well as letting go of that which is no longer serving our greatest good. I also like to write on pieces of paper the things I hope to release, and to burn those pieces of paper during the time the moon is waning. On a practical note, the energy of the waning moon period supports cleaning out your home and space. The light of the full moon is also said to cleanse the energy held in crystals and stones, so you can set them outside or in a windowsill on the night of the full moon.

The graphic below, by Ezzie Spencer, gives guidance on the types of intentions we are invited to set during each specific phase of the moon, along its path of waxing and waning. So, look upward tonight. Remember that you are a part of nature -- connecting more deeply to your place in the universe -- and perhaps try a small ritual of your own, letting your awareness of the phase of the moon empower you more consciously.

Spencer lunar cycle
Spencer lunar cycle

Natural healing: Oils, herbs, flower essences

Ever since I was a child, I intuitively understood the restorative powers of the earth's gifts -- I feel like we're all born that way. I remember concocting "magic healing potions" in my backyard that were made from flower petals and herbs growing in our garden --  usually with some mud or pebbles thrown in for good, messy measure. As I got older, I studied the healing properties of the earth's gifts: herbs, oils, and flower essences. For a few years during my 20s, I ran a small, side business selling natural care products such as soaps, salves, teas, and lip balms. This passion has now become integrated into my family's everyday care, and is one of the ways I tend to my own self-care. Here I'll share a brief overview of my favorite remedies, along with links (Amazon affiliate and otherwise) for where to find some of them. Important Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, and this is not medical advice. I am solely sharing which remedies and rituals I personally use for self-care and healing. Always consult with your doctor before beginning any natural remedy.

Essential Oils

I delight in the delicious aromatherapy essential oils provide. In the morning or when I'm needing to be more alert, I like citrus, minty, and green scents, such as grapefruit, ginger, peppermint, and rosemary. When I need to wind down and relax, I love lavender, rose, and ylang ylang. The quality oils from DoTerra are my absolute fav. You can purchase any of them here. Lately, my favorite oil is DoTerra's Balance blend, which feels very earthy and grounding to me. I enjoy sprinkling it into the bottom of my shower to create a makeshift steam room. I use oils in a warm mist humidifier in the wintertime, like DoTerra's On Guard oil for immune support and Breathe oil for respiratory health. I also use various oils throughout the year in a diffuser in my therapy office, and my clients comment on how much they enjoy the subtle scents in the room.


I love to use dried herbs, though it's important to consult a doctor or naturopath before doing so, as they are quite powerful. I enjoy drinking herbal teas (peppermint, chamomile, fennel...) I also like to make herbal bath soaks, sometimes with eucalyptus or peppermint or lavender, mixed with ground oatmeal or epsom salts, tied up in a cheesecloth and placed into warm bath water. I also love to create with herbs by making things such as lavender wands, sachets, and dream pillows. (<-- Links to "how to" posts from my former art blog for families.) Bundling and then burning dried herbs (aka: smudging) is another favorite way I use herbs for self-care -- favorite smudging herbs of mine are sage and cedar. More on this piece in next week's post -- stay tuned! One of my favorite blogs for creative uses for herbs is 5 Orange Potatoes.

Flower Essences

I discovered Bach flower remedies during graduate school, and I have used them ever since. The Bach company puts out a list of how their remedies can help support different emotional states. They also list them by remedy, detailing the healing properties of each. Generally, flower remedies are administered by putting a few drops in your water bottle and drinking the essence, and some types, like their famous Rescue Remedy, come in a spray bottle so the essence can be spritzed into the mouth. An artful way I like to use my flower essences is to add them to my watercolor water or to my paints when making art, to energetically infuse my image with... well, healing flower power. While flower essences are very subtle, they are also powerful -- again, always consult your physician before use.

Simple ways to use oracle cards

If you're seeking a quick, fun, and meaningful way to look inward, working with oracle cards could be an enriching practice for you. The simple act of choosing a card (or a few cards) is an immediate way to invite self-reflection, whether you are starting your day, pondering a lingering question in your life, or invoking nighttime dreams. Oracle cards generally come grouped into a deck, and they can provide us with insight into our innermost questions -- not from some outside source, rather from our inner wisdom used in deciphering their message. Tarot cards are one well-known example of an oracle card deck, though there are many other types. You don't need to be a professional tarot reader, a shaman, a believer of woo-woo, or anything other than exactly who you are to make oracle cards part of your practice. All you need is a favorite deck (or you can even create a deck yourself using your own art and/or images cut from magazines.) A few of my favorite oracle card decks I keep around my studio are pictured below, and many can be purchased via the Amazon affiliate carousel at the bottom of this post.

Ways I like to use my oracle cards:

  • At the start of my morning
  • To set intentions for my week, placed upon my altar or around the house as a visual reminder
  • For clients to draw at the begining of therapy to arrive into the sacred space and set the tone for the session
  • As creative writing or journaling prompts
  • For help in answering a question that I'm mulling over (because the reflecting on the image requires me to go deeply inward and inquire from my true, core self.)
  • Before bedtime, to close my day or invoke/inquire into my nighttime dreams
  • To mark special occasions, like my birthday, new years, or the beginning of a project
  • To mark a transition, like a move, a new job, a birth, a death, a relationship beginning or ending

How-to and prompts:

Once you have a deck you like, get a feel for it. Hold the deck in your hands, shuffle it gently, cut the cards - do whatever you'd like. While you are holding the cards, think of a question you'd like to ask. It can be as simple as: "What do I need in this moment?" or "What will this day bring?" You can fan them out or stack them. Using your intuition, pull a card from the deck. (Sometimes a card will fall on the floor as you shuffle - that's usually your card.)

After you pull a card, study it closely. If you have a deck of words (like the Angel card or Blesssing card decks in the carousel below) or phrases on the card (like the Shambhala deck or Danielle LaPorte's Truthbomb deck,) then see how/if this word or phrase could apply to your life.

If your deck is comprised of cards with images, really look at the card you pull. What is pictured? What colors are used? Is there movement or stillness? Is there a person(s) present? Are there animals? Which natural elements stand out: fire, water, earth, air? Simply describe what you see. (We art therapists call the practice of just describing what you see "the phenomenological approach to the image" - fancy huh?) Describing form/the image leads to content/the meaning.

Now it's time to let your mind free-associate and play! Does your card remind you of anything or anyone in your life? Could it apply to the question you asked as you shuffled? What do the words or colors or shapes mean to you? (i.e.; "yellow reminds me of the sun and happiness" or "owls make me think of nighttime and wisdom" or "the word 'patience' is such medicine for me right now.") At this point, you may choose to make notes in your journal. If your card comes with a booklet describing the images (as tarot cards and other decks often do,) you might choose to then add this collective wisdom into your own personal reflections. Though, I'd recommend saving the booklet for last so as not to cloud your intuitive hunches.

You might also pull 3 cards in a row, representing 1) Who I was, 2) Who I am, and 3) Who I will become. You can get creative about what sets of cards can mean, or you can consult the booklet that comes with your deck to see what types of readings are recommended.

This practice can be infused with any energy you give it: light, fun, sacred, deep, meditative, inspiring... and the best part is that you can connect with yourself and your inner voice in under 5 minutes when engaging in oracle card reading. Trust the process.