Welcome to Refinery29’s Feel Good Diaries, where we chronicle the physical and mental wellness routines of women today, their costs, and whether or not these self-care rituals actually make you feel good.
Today: a transformational coach and meditation teacher co-parents her 4-year-old niece, tries Dunkin' Donuts coffee for the first time, goes on a weekend getaway with her new boo, and decompresses using Headspace — a mindful meditation app that will guide you to lead a happier, healthier life.
Location: Charlotte, N.C.
Occupation: Transformational coach, meditation teacher, writer
Salary: $50-$80k / year (but it varies each year)
Location: Charlotte, N.C.
Occupation: Transformational coach, meditation teacher, writer
Salary: $50-$80k / year (but it varies each year)
5 a.m. — My 4-year-old, Carmen, wakes up, “feeling kinda hungry.” She eats half a pack of crackers and tries to talk to me. With eyes half-open, I tell her I’m still sleepy and if she wants to stay awake and play on her iPad she can do that, but I will be going back to bed.
9 a.m. — Oops. I didn’t think I’d sleep for another four hours, but my body had other plans (read: needs). I roll out of bed and make my daily earl grey tea with oat milk and honey. Breakfast today is pan-toasted sourdough with butter (a staple since discovering that sourdough — somehow, miraculously — doesn’t impact my gluten sensitivity), and a strawberry watermelon mango smoothie.
10 a.m. — I finally start my morning routine of resetting my space. Carmen “helps” me make the bed. We listen to music as I tidy up the kitchen and playroom. I’m a highly sensitive person and environments have a big impact on my mental health and overall energy. It feels so good to give my space a little love before starting my day.
10:15 a.m. — I sit down in front of my Gohonzon — a scroll used as a visual focal point by practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism — and chant “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.” Chanting is a major part of my holistic wellness practice. It helps me elevate my life state (my spiritual/mental “posture” or perspective). It is a practice to remind myself, daily, that I am inherently wise, courageous, and compassionate, and that I’m capable of overcoming any problem or challenge that comes my way. I first chant for world peace and the happiness of all living beings and then I chant to achieve my personal goals.
10:30 a.m. — I brush my teeth and do my skin-care routine. I take 1000mg of vitamin C and some echinacea because the little one has had a runny nose, and I don’t want it.
11 a.m. — I sit down at my computer to do a bit of admin work. Since I started co-parenting my niece, I had to reduce my work hours significantly. I typically only work Mondays, Tuesdays mornings, and Fridays — but I have some outstanding emails that need to get sent.
12:30 p.m. — I warm up some Trader Joe’s fried rice for lunch and eat it with leftover chicken.
4 p.m. — I take the kid with me to go shopping for clothes. I have some upcoming getaways with a new boo I’ve been dating for a few months, and my closet has been feeling outdated and not in alignment with my current self. We stop and get fast food — nuggets and fries — on the way. Choosing fast food is definitely not my proudest moment as a parent, but it’s the path of least resistance, and I’m giving myself permission to choose ease today. I buy a bodycon dress from Old Navy (one for the kid as well), and a $5 toy tea set from Marshalls. ($60)
7 p.m. — After being in stores (read: around other people as a highly sensitive person) I notice myself feeling a little overwhelmed and drained. I’m craving movement to diffuse pent-up energy and a moment to clear my mind. I decide to take the little one on a slow stroll through the neighborhood. As we walk, I play Headspace’s Walk It Off meditation, which guides me to recalibrate and use gentle movement to release challenging emotions. I come home feeling refreshed and ready to tackle bedtime.
8:30 p.m. — I make myself ginger tea with honey — more immunity support so I don’t catch whatever the kid’s got — and sip it as I do the bedtime routine. I’m determined to break cycles of self-abandonment while parenting, and I’m proud of myself for carving out moments to care for myself as I care for the little one.
Daily Total: $60
9:30 a.m. — I start my day with earl grey tea and pan-toasted sourdough with butter for breakfast, again. When I moved into this house, I decided not to get a microwave and — while it is occasionally inconvenient — it helps me practice slow living. I have to warm up all of my food on the stove, which makes every meal feel fresh and home-cooked.
10:30 a.m. — I tidy and clean my house while Carmen plays on her iPad. The last few years have made it so clear that having a clean and organized home space helps me feel grounded and relaxed. I love to love up on my space. I clear things off of surfaces, put away the dishes, and throw in a load of laundry. The difference is magic.
11 a.m. — After dropping the kid off at my mom’s house, I come back home to pack for a long weekend trip with my boo. I make myself an iced coffee and get deep into cleaning my house while listening to Renaissance for the 1,000th time.
2:30 p.m. — I warm up leftovers for lunch and head on the road. I’m super excited to be spending the weekend with my new boo in her hometown. We live 1.5 hours apart, so most of our hangouts are extended to save ourselves time (and gas money).
5 p.m. — I snack on (a lot of) cashews to avoid getting hangry before dinner. I’ve learned to have snacks with me at all times, because when I go too long without eating, I start to feel like my brain is malfunctioning and everything is harder than it needs to be.
10 p.m. — Bae and I eat a lovely late dinner at a local restaurant. Bae treats, so I don’t spend anything. (I love it here.)
Daily Total: $0
9 a.m. — I wake up and spend the morning cuddling and chatting with bae in bed. She heads out to run some errands, so I use the alone time to cut my hair. Since October 2019, I’ve been shaving the sides and back of my head at least once a week. I taught myself how to do it after a month of traveling in more rural parts of Mexico, where finding a barber who was familiar with Black hair was difficult. It saves me about $1,200 a year to cut my own hair, which I love for me.
9:30 a.m. — I shower and do my skin-care routine. I do some organic movement — a little yoga, a little whatever-feels-good stretching — to wake my body up. As I do, I listen to a Headspace meditation on letting go of stress. I wasn't particularly stressed, but I absolutely feel lighter and more clear-minded by the end it. I’m reminded that the most potent self-care practices happen in tandem — starting my day with a beauty ritual, movement, breath, and mindfulness together help me feel centered and powerful at the top of my day.
10 a.m. — I call my bestie, Amanda, on FaceTime. We check in with each other on FaceTime regularly, which is an essential part of my social health. Talking to her is a safe space for me to be myself openly, exchange ideas, and to process my experiences and feelings.
12 p.m. — Bae comes back from their errands and we head out to the farmer’s market. I hadn’t planned to get anything other than coffee, but instead, I end up buying a beautiful Thai cooking kit (which has all the ingredients you need to cook Thai food in the comfort of your own home) from a local small business named SimpliThai. For lunch, I order a falafel salad from a food truck. ($30)
3 p.m. — We go to the annual Greek festival and share chicken kebabs before heading back to take a very long — and very necessary — nap. ($6)
9:30 p.m. — We eat a late dinner at a Mexican restaurant (shrimp fajitas with corn tortillas). I usually prefer to eat dinner by 8 p.m. so I can start winding down, but I’m considering this a mini vacation, so all rules are out the window. Bae and I split the bill. ($28)
Daily Total: $64
9 a.m. — I start the day lying in bed with bae, talking, cuddling, and dozing in and out of sleep. It feels so special to ease into the day with affection and laughter. I spent the last three years in a long-distance relationship, desperately craving regular togetherness and slow, easeful moments of just being. New bae and I are still, well, new, but spending this time with her in the morning feels right.
10:30 a.m. — I shower and do my skin-care routine.
12 p.m. — We head to Dunkin’ Donuts because I’ve been craving iced coffee and the local coffee shops are a long drive from where we’re staying. It’s my first time trying Dunkin’ coffee, so I’m pleasantly surprised to find they have all sorts of non-dairy milk. I get an iced latte with oat milk (no syrups or flavoring). It’s shockingly delicious. Bae and I split an order of hash browns. She treats me (again), so I don’t spend anything.
2 p.m. — We go to the flea market, which features dozens of vendors selling pretty much everything you can imagine. I decide not to buy any clothes or accessories (I’ve spent enough money the last few days), but I do stop by a food truck and order a platter of flounder and hushpuppies, risking it all for the fried (gluten) goodness. ($9)
9 p.m. — I eat leftovers from the Mexican restaurant, and start winding down. I listen to Headspace’s “Switch It Off” meditation — which helps me settle into deep relaxation and let go of the thoughts and experiences from the busy day. I sleep deeply.
Daily Total: $9
10 a.m. — Another Dunkin latte, because apparently, I’m that girl now. I order two plain pieces of sourdough bread with butter, and find myself missing my delicious, fresh, local pan-toasted bread. It’s definitely not the same. Bae treats, again, so I don’t spend anything.
11 a.m. — Bae and I are coworking at her studio — one of my favorite ways to be together. I eat an apple and sit down to work on a newsletter.
1:30 p.m. — I get an oat milk matcha latte from Starbucks. ($6)
3 p.m. — Bae and I get fruit smoothies (her treat).
6 p.m. — We drive to the lake to watch the sunset. I marvel at the way the whole sky becomes a prism, and reflect on how it feels like wealth to be able to watch the sun go down next to someone you love.
7:30 p.m. — Before heading on the road to go home, we stop to pick up Mediterranean food. It’s my turn to treat. I order a Greek salad with falafel (with added olives and extra dressing), and bae gets chicken and rice with a salad. After I eat, I make the drive back home. ($41.50)
Daily Total: $47.50
7:15 a.m. — I wake up in my own bed after three sleeps away. I check in with my body and ask if it needs more sleep. I feel like I could get up, but I could also rest a while longer. I decide to sleep in.
9 a.m. — I wake up again, and it feels good to be in the familiar energy of my home. I start my day with three mindful breaths, with both feet planted firmly on the floor and my spine straight, my head reaching for the sky.
9:30 a.m. — I make myself some Lapsang Souchong tea with milk and honey and sip it standing in the kitchen, gazing into space, the way my grandmother does.
10 a.m. — I take a quick shower and am reminded of how my mother has, for years, taken three-minute showers. This baffled me for years (Why would she do that? How is she doing it?) until I started co-parenting Carmen, my 4-year-old niece, whose mom — my sister — passed away of an overdose in 2018. (You can read more about her story here.) As I wash myself at double-speed, motivated by today’s deadlines and wanting to be fully present with the kid while she’s here, I realize why my mom has been taking microshowers all of my life: for me. She sped through her care so she can spend more time on mine. The thought almost brings me to tears.
10:30 a.m. — After my shower I finish my tea and head out the door for a morning walk. My friend Alex Elle just celebrated walking every day for the last year, and my friend Brandi Francis has been moving her body, if only for a little bit. Inspired by their commitment to themselves — and the power of breaking generational patterns of self-abandonment — I decide to walk today. I listen to a Headspace practice as I walk briskly to my neighborhood park. I’m reminded that “mindfulness” can be woven into the small moments, and that being in meditation doesn’t always have to mean sitting in Lotus pose with my eyes closed. Walking and simply being present — breathing intentionally with each step, noticing the way my body moves and makes contact with the ground below — feels really good.
11 a.m. — I walk a trail in the park for about 30 minutes and head home. (I find that my neighbor has cut down a tomato bush without harvesting the fruit, so I pause to gather tomatoes, proud of myself for rescuing them from their untimely demise!)
11:30 a.m. — I return home and make myself scrambled eggs and a smoothie (a few big chunks of frozen watermelon, a handful of frozen strawberries, ¾ of a frozen banana, a handful of frozen mango, fresh ginger, and water).
12 p.m. — I finish writing a newsletter, sharing a revelation I had about how when we change, our homes need to change with you. I feel super proud of myself for getting it done. I have a strong desire to write more consistently and create more helpful content for the people who engage with my work online, but it doesn’t always happen. Whenever I sit down to write, I often feel a small twinge of guilt that I haven’t done it sooner. Today, I choose not to indulge the voice of my inner critic, and celebrate myself for showing up.
2:30 p.m. — I pick up Carmen from swim class. Today begins my co-parenting shift. The kid and I drive to a local cafe to meet up with Austin, a best friend since high school. I get two vegan, gluten-free cookies — one for me, and one for the kid. ($10)
5:00 p.m. — The little one and I leave the cafe and drive to meet up with another best friend from my childhood, Elsa, for our weekly dinner date. We make the most of Charlotte rush-hour traffic by having a sing-along to a playlist I made (because if I have to hear “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” one more time….).
5:30 p.m. — We meet up with Elsa at a build-your-own salad spot. I get a salad and grains bowl for me and a kid’s meal for Carmen. ($23)
7 p.m. — We come home and I take 15 minutes to decompress. I tell Carmen I need alone time and let her play on her iPad so I can have some unbothered solitude. I tidy up a bit, put some (gluten-free) chicken nuggets in the oven for Carmen, and make myself some tea.
Daily Total: $33
7 a.m. — I wake up with my alarm, which is something I rarely do. I’m leaving for an apple-picking trip in Georgia with bae tomorrow, so I’m determined to get my work done while Carmen is at pre-school. I make myself tea and pop some frozen hash brown patties in the oven. I lay out Carmen’s clothes for the day, pack her snacks, and clean up a bit. I chant Nam Myoho Rengo Kyo while moving throughout the house. I eat a hash brown pattie right off the pan.
8:20 a.m. — I drop the little one off at pre-school and head to the grocery store. I get a bag of organic apples, organic strawberries, Chobani extra creamy oat milk, two packs of free range chicken, organic extra virgin olive oil, and loose leaf lavender earl grey tea. ($68)
9 a.m. — I come home and make myself an iced coffee with maple syrup.
9:30 a.m. — I notice some of the leaves on my houseplants are yellowing. I take the dead and dying leaves off, rearrange some of the plants — a regularly occurring pastime — and water one that looks thirsty. Tending to my plants is a meditative practice. It grounds me in the present and reminds me of the interconnectedness of my inner life and my environment. My plants add so much life to my space and serve as little reminders that growth is always possible. Tending to them is an act of gratitude for all the beauty and benefits they bring to my home.
9:45 a.m. — I have a 10-minute dance party, a ritual I created for myself to ground and energize before sitting down at my laptop to work.
10:30 a.m. — I drag my big papasan chair onto the porch and sit outside to do some work. It feels so good to feel the crisp air on my skin and hear the birds as I write.
12:30 p.m. — I drive to my friend Kahlil’s house for a yoga flow. Kahlil and I have been doing yoga weekly for a few months, but we’ve fallen out of our routine because we’ve both been traveling.
2 p.m. — I get a Chipotle bowl for lunch. It’s simple and easy. ($10)
4 p.m. — I return home to prepare to lead a client through a breathwork session tonight. It ends up being canceled so, instead, I guide myself through breathwork. I feel energized.
Daily Total: $78
Weekly Total: $291.50
Reflection: I want to practice honoring my routines and rituals, even when I’m not at home or following my regular schedule. I feel my best when I incorporate prayer (chanting), meditation, movement, and plant-based eating into my everyday. I want to find more nourishing alternatives to social media scrolling — I love the little mental break it provides, but I know I could be using my time in more intentional ways. I also want to explore sleep training, so I can establish a consistent sleep schedule. For the most part, my life is good — I feel so blessed and fortunate.