It’s been a wee while since I’ve written on my blog. If you’ve been around a while, you’ll know it’s been a big year over in my corner of the world. Last year, my partner and I uprooted our Sydney city life to move to the beautiful spacious countryside. We welcomed our son, Massimo, into the world shortly after.
It’s been a big, beautiful and steep learning curve where I’ve experienced every fibre of my being be rewoven and rearranged. The words of postpartum doula Julia Jones have been vibrating through my system like a mantra: “when a baby is born, so is a mother, and the birth of a mother can be more intense than childbirth”.
I’ve given myself the space and grace I’ve needed to allow this change to unfold behind the scenes, with periods of time away from the stimulating, cerebral world of writing, teaching and running a small business. Luckily, thanks to our move toward a simpler, lower-cost life, I’ve had the good fortune to be able to do this. But, it’s been almost a full turn around the sun since I became a mother, and I’ve learned many things from many wise women that I would love to begin sharing with you.
Needing a New Structure for this Season of Life and for Serving My Community
Last October, I sent out a survey to my email community asking folks what they were struggling with, dreaming of and craving as it related to their health and wellness. A common theme that emerged was:
I know what I need to be doing to look after my health – I’m just struggling with the “how” – how do I fit all of this in? How can I do it if I don’t have a maid, babysitter, personal chef and secretary? How do I actually put my needs first when there are so many demands on me?
I thought, good question! I’ve been in the thick of living out that question for myself in this new, at times overwhelming and demanding, season of life. I’d love to share with you what I have found so far, and I feel I’ve stumbled across something quitely special and magically mundane: routines, rituals and systems crafted with equal parts compassion and pragmatism.
I had to go back to basics, not just in the domain of my health, but in all the other areas of my life: home, work, relationships, self-care and creativity. The “reweaving” has involved distilling every area to its essentials, arranging bite-sized pieces to daily, weekly and monthly rhythms, and then arranging them in a streamlined, sequential order that makes sense. They’ve become soothing scaffolding that has been helping me move through my life with a greater sense of ease.
Rules Don’t Work, But Routines Do
In truth, I don’t always love doing a routine. The free-spirited hippy in me instinctively wants to push against strong boundaries and not be boxed in. But boundaries I have needed and the feeling of freedom and spaciousness I experience within it is enough to convince the free spirit that this is a wise way to be in the world right now. If I’ve had a sleepless night tending to a teething babe or pushed myself a bit too hard the day before, the entire morning feels like I’m dragging my feet. But I know that my routine is covering off the bare basics crafted with an attitude of grace and space, and they set me up for a good day. It’s actually on the most challenging days it’s the most helpful.
Start with Baby Steps
There’s great comfort in only focusing on the task in front of me. After that is done, the one after that. Because it’s part of a system, I can really rest assured that by the end of the week, I’ve tended to my body, there’s lovely food that’s been planned and cooked, the house is (relatively!) calm and clear.
I’m indebted to Diane Hansen-Ingram, Becky Rapinchuk and Marla Cilley for the generous wisdom they share through their websites that I’ve been learning from and adapting. And also to Erica Feldmann and Rhonda Hetzel, for helping me see just how valuable tending to the hearth is, even when it’s largely invisible work that never ends. This way of organising time and space, with a reverence for its importance, has truly been a game-changer, and I’d love to share what I’ve distilled from 18 months of experimentation. I like to think of it as my “Calm Energy Routine”. I’ll explain each component, and if you’d like to download a printable version, you can do so here:
The Calm Energy Routine
This routine has three components: daily habits, weekly tasks, and a monthly focus.
1. The Daily Habits
Completing these seven daily habits is the secret to nourishing yourself and maintaining a sustainable daily rhythm.
Drink 2–3 litres of water and/or nourishing herbal infusions throughout the day. I like to make a big French press (mine is 1.5L) of a herbal infusion in the morning, and then I sip at it throughout the day. Herbs that often grace my daily infusion have been nettle, alfalfa, milky oats, red clover, tulsi, catnip and chamomile.
Take your daily herbs and nutrients. A foundational protocol that I recommend is a good quality multivitamin, omega 3 oil (1000mg of combined EPA/DHA), magnesium (300mg as citrate or glycinate) and vitamin D (1000IU–2000IU). If you’re planning to conceive in the next 6–12 months, this blog will guide you on more specifics. And if you’re pregnant, you may like to take a look at this piece I wrote.
Move & Stretch
Do something every day that moves your body that is loving and enjoyable.
Bed (on) time
Make it to bed at the time that gives you 7–8 hours of sleep.
For even just a couple of minutes a day, sit down with a cup of tea, read a few pages of a good book, breathe, stare at a tree, pray or listen to a meditation…whatever brings you peace and brings you into the now. The more you bring restful moments into your day, the more effective you can be. Truly.
For Folks Who FAM – Chart
Note your fertile signs in your chart or chosen app. I personally use my bullet journal and make a note before going to sleep. I recommend two apps to my clients and students: Read Your Body and Kindara, with all predictive settings turned off. I written a tonne about the Fertility Awareness Method, and I also teach it.
2. The Weekly Rituals
These tasks range from a couple of minutes to a more in-depth kitchen session. Seeing these tasks as healing rituals has really helped me shift my mindset from household chores to this is very important work. Magic can be infused into the most mundane activities, and I invite you to ask yourself, “how can I make this task sacred?”.
Monday – Body Blessing
Set your herbs and remedies for the week, making taking them daily so much easier. Use a pillbox to plot out your nutrients and herbs for the week, and keep it somewhere where you’ll be able to see it daily. I like mine on a little tray with any herbal liquids/powders that I’m also taking.
Tuesday or Wednesday – Plan & Organise Meals
Sketch out the meals for the week ahead – this need only take 10–15 minutes. Check to see what fruits and vegetables are in season where you live, and use this as a starting point to getting your planning on. You may like to pull out your recipe books for inspiration and begin a running document on your favourite easy meals of the season, making future meal planning sessions a cinch.
From your meal plan, create your shopping list. You may want to order these online or choose Click and Collect or Direct to Boot for your errand day to save on time. If you work outside the home, online delivery is terrific.
Thursday or Friday – Clean Your Fridge & Errand Day
Before you head out, do a quick clear and clean out of your fridge, so everything is nice and fresh for your groceries. Go grab your market basket or shopping bags and do your groceries (or collect them). It’s great to batch your errands, so go and do anything else that needs to be done outside the home or the office, such as going to the post office, dropping items off at the charity shop, returning library books etc.
Sunday – Rest and Renew
Really rest; be intentional and protective with your pocket of time dedicated to you. Read a good book, take a nap, listen to an album, do a longer journalling session, get yourself out into nature, take a spa hour…whatever fills you up!
3. Monthly Healing Focus
I’ve been intentionally learning from The Medicine Wheel (also known as the Celtic Wheel of Year) for many years now. The Medicine Wheel not only forms the foundation of naturopathic medicine and herbalism, but it’s also helped me connect with something deep from my Irish, Scottish and Scandinavian ancestry. This system allows you to tend and nurture all areas of your health with simple remedies and season-specific routines. With immune support beginning in autumn, mood-lifting in the depths of winter to a refreshing health reset in the spring, you won’t have to work out what you should be focusing on; it’s all laid out for you and aligned with nature’s rhythms.
Introducing Sun School
Something that I’ve always been inspired to create in my work is ways for folks like you to become your own greatest healers. While herbs are so helpful in a clinical setting for helping to shift health conditions, they truly shine when they’re being used in the day to day, in the kitchen or in the garden, being made into simple, effective remedies. If you’d love to take your Calm Energy Routine to the next level, you can incorporate The Medicine Wheel as a structure to harness the seasonal energy to focus on a specific area of your health month to month. You can learn more about the Monthly Healing focus system and align your self-care in my monthly care package, Sun School.