What's In Your Toolkit?

I’ve had a toolkit ever since I moved into my first apartment in college. It’s a hard, edgy box that contains various sized nails, a hammer, screwdrivers, tape measure and other items I’ve found to be useful over the years. I have another toolkit that sits on my dresser in my bedroom whose items are just as useful. Instead of hanging artwork or repairing a loose baseboard, this toolkit helps me care for my physical, spiritual, mental and emotional well-being.

My day to day work pulls me in a hundred different directions for nine hours a day, five or more days a week, 12 months a year. As a mom (my real job), the time spent kissing, hugging, bathing, combing hair, wiping noses, potty training, life training, playing dress-up and cleaning leaves me fulfilled and exhausted. Over the years, I have found things and done things that have sustained and rejuvenated me. These items and practices have now become part of what I call my Self-Love Toolkit.

What it Holds
I like to engage all of my senses in my attempt to transcend stress and anxiety. I equate it to watching one of your favorite films with surround sound. So, here is my five-speaker-plus-the-subwoofer list of relaxation essentials.

Smell
No matter what I’m experiencing, the time of day or mood I’m in, a calming scent brings me to a place of euphoria almost instantly. Some scents that I find soothing are clary sage,  eucalyptus, sandalwood, lavender, ylang ylang, bergamot, and chamomile. Try mixing essential oils to come up with a personal self-soothing blend. Or, for immediate satisfaction, burn your favorite candle.

Sight
I love the flicker of candlelight. I like to set tealight candles around my bed and bathroom to create a sense of warmth and comfort. If placed strategically, they can even make a pile of clothes temporarily disappear.

When I’m in the mood to just lose all space and time, I watch a few shows, documentaries or movies on Netflix. Luke Cage, The 100, What Happened Miss Simone, Narcos and anything space related are a few of my favs.

Sometimes, I need to fill my spiritual cup. One Day My Soul Just Opened Up by Iyanla Vanzant and Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach are two essentials. Vanzant’s book offers 40 soul-strengthening nuggets that help you move toward spiritual growth. I love Simple Abundance because it provides daily motivation in short passages that help you reflect on what’s important in your life. Couple these gems with a gratitude journal and you’ll have a sure-fire way of recognizing life’s gifts when you feel like your cup is half empty.

Hearing
Spa music is simply divine. It instantly changes my mood, lowers my anxiety and sets the stage for relaxation. I dial up Pandora’s Calm Meditation Radio to listen to artists like Deuter and Liquid Mind whose elegant and soothing sounds transport you to a place of peace and serenity. I also have spa music downloaded on my phone just in case I lose reception or Internet connection.

Taste
Some of my most profound thoughts and ideas come to me after having a glass of wine. This is a must have for my toolkit. I love the light, fruity flavor of a pinot gris or chardonnay as it goes well with a bit of dark chocolate. I always have some good chocolate on hand in my toolkit.

Touch
Outside of getting a full-body massage, a nice, hot 2-hour bath is extremely effective in de-stimulating after a long week. I usually immerse myself in bubbly goodness around midnight well after the girls have gone to sleep. In addition to my scented bath cream, I add Epsom salt to the water which helps to relax muscles and draw out toxins from the body. Lastly, I use my Clarisonic body brush and a sugar scrub to gently remove dead surface cells and pollution.

Putting it all together
When I am exhausted, despondent and achy, I don’t have to search for the things to make me feel better. By having my toolkit ready and visually pleasing, I can take care of myself with minimal effort.

It’s not easy being the best possible mother, sister, daughter, leader or friend that I can be. My life is full and it’s also filled. My self-love toolkit has helped to make me the best woman I can be for myself and everyone within my world.

What are your self-love toolkit essentials?