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My life: constantly on the go. Always something happening, frequently several somethings happening all at once. Until everything just stops. Or, I get sick. Like most parents, I rarely just get “sick” if I’m getting sick, I’m getting really sick. Can’t get out of bed, can’t lift my own head, my body’s done until whatever it is passes, sick. I spent the majority of last week feeling like I was breathing through a bowl of water. A trip to the Dr. at the beginning of the week confirmed that there was something starting to take hold in my lungs. Great…just what any busy working parent needs–the start of pneumonia.There went all my grand plans for the week.

My family tends toward more natural approaches first. This time, I was coming off 2 work weekends in a row with absolutely NO break on the one day off I had. There just wasn’t enough of anything left to try to fight this off on my own. So, with a prescription for antibiotics and a Dr’s note for two days off work, I tumbled into bed. There I stayed for most of the next 2 days.Luckily, I have a stay at home spouse who can take care of the rest of the family when I just stop and a job that has sick leave. I had the luxury of staying in bed those 2 days while my body worked to heal itself.

Somewhere in between begging the universe to let me rest or just take one tiny breath without coughing for an hour and restless bouts of napping, I came up with the brilliant idea to get something with eucalyptus to help ease my breathing. Better yet, since my back was hurting, why not get something I could use in the bathroom. Maybe a shower steam or something? Hmm….so, late in the evening the day before I had to return to work I made an impromptu run to the local big-box store in search of something with eucalyptus.

What I found was something that not only eased my breathing but also made all my muscles feel totally relaxed in a way that usually only comes at the hands of a masseuse. The name on the bottle read Aches & Pains, I chose it because it contained the Eucalyptus I was looking for. As I poured the salts into the water, I was enveloped in the strong smell of eucalyptus. Adding some bubbles–I love bubbles–from the same line, I just sat for a minute to enjoy the easing sensation I get from the eucalyptus oil. When the tub was full, I grabbed a book and sank into the hot sudsy water.

For the first couple minutes, it was just another bath. Slightly more fragrant than normal (man, that eucalyptus is strong, even when the lid is closed), but still just a regular bath. Then the warming started. I felt it first along the backs of my legs, this gentle warmth that penetrated deeper than just the water. It spread to my back, my belly, my hips. Every sore place on my body that was in contact with the water was warm and tingling and relaxing. Sitting there soaking in the water, I could literally feel the muscles start to relax. The tightness in my chest and back began to ease. I just felt……good and warm and sleepy.

The first rush of air on my wet skin created this penetrating coolness, as relaxing as the warmth. It was all I could do to pour myself out of the water. Wrapped in an absorbant robe, I collapsed into bed. My entire body felt loose, relaxed, and pain-free. My husband was kind enough to rub some lavender oil into my back so the skin wasn’t overly dry and with the combination of relaxed muscles, an eased chest, and the aromatherapy I collapsed into one of the best night’s sleep I have had in a very long time.

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We are so used to light now. Thanks to electricity we can have our homes be as bright as noontime in the middle of the night. Light is a wonderful thing. Too much bright light…well, that’s another story.

When I want to relax, the last thing I want is bright light. Even the bulb of a lamp can be too much. Sometimes I’ll turn the lights off and open the curtains at twilight. This lets the natural light softly filter in bringing the colors of night with it. There’s something soothing about the deepening blues and purples and red-oranges that signal the day is over.

When the weather will not cooperate, I use candles. Their flickering flames gently light the world around them. I have several candle holders, depending on my mood. My current favorite is stained glass in oranges and greens. I have a plain pillar candle inside and it casts a beautiful colorful glow when it’s lit. I also have a variety of tea light holders–tea lights are a versatile candle. They come with their own little cups making cleanup a breeze. I put them in plain colored glass, arrange them in front of a mirror, or put them in the little “lanterns” my children made for the holidays.

For those who are not comfortable with real flame, there are now a variety of flameless candles. These little wonders flicker like flame and can set a similar mood. Using batteries instead of fire, they are safe to use in areas where normal candles may not be.

There’s just something magical about relaxing by candlelight.

It’s winter here. Not just winter, it’s heading into the coldest part of the year. The time when just breathing the air outside hurts. Just because it’s cold outside, doesn’t mean you can’t be warm and toasty inside.

On days like today, I love my “warm fuzzies” as I call them. My entire family has their own warm fuzzies–for some it’s a blanket, others have a robe, or slippers, or pjs. They are as vital to our wellbeing as the air we breathe.

Personally, I have some yummy pajamas in either soft cotton or fleece. Depending on how cold it is, or how I feel I may also add on a fluffy robe and my favorite blanket. The feel of the fabrics is just as important to me as the warmth. I want to feel the warm softness against my skin. Sometimes just reveling in the sensation of well-broken in cotton, soft, fluffly fleece, or warm brushed flannel is the perfect comfort on a cold winter’s day.

There are few things better than a long, hot soak after a hard day. Taking a bath is one of my favorite ways to indulge myself. It’s no secret to those who know me that I love bath stuff. All kinds–bubbles, salts, fizzies, oils, soft soaps, creams, bars, you name it I’ll want to try it.

Rather than looking for a specific product for my bath, I go for a scent or mood. If I’m looking to relax I reach for something with neroli oil, if I want to feel upbeat I look for a citrus or fruit. Sometimes I want to feel feminine and I’ll reach for a floral scent like rose or jasmine. Then there are the times when I just want some comfort–at those times I look for vanilla based scents.

Everyone has their own preferences for bathing. Personally, I prefer to run the water as hot as I can stand it then let some out and refill with hot water as long as I want to soak. A long, hot soak does wonders for my body and my spirit.

pearls11Some days there’s no time for pampering routines. Even quick pick me ups seem to take away from something that must be done….yesterday. On those days, focus on the simple things. Put on the most comfortable clothing you possess for the occasion. Choose things that are comforting and pleasant feeling.  Really feel the softness of the fabric as it slides over your skin.  Focus on the cool smoothness of any accessories. Pay attention to how your clothing lies against your skin, how it moves when you move, how it slides gently against your skin. Indulge in the physical sensations and just feel.

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