It is busy, busier, and busiest here in Dani-land, and I need to employ tactics to keep my stress levels down. Sometimes it is hard to adhere to my weekly routine, and sometimes I skip steps, but when on-point, a weekly bath is my saving grace, my ticket to freedom. And music is one of the many ways I keep my little brain focused on the task at hand: NOTHING!
I will never forget the time when I first heard Washed Out’s “Feel It All Around.” I was floating over a tiled mosaic of Andy Warhol at a fancy hotel pool, surrounded by my fellow creatures of the night, taking a rare moment to soak up some vitamin D. My friend Michael was spinning and he played that song, and for a few precious moments, I was completely in space.
Songs like that were medicine for my poor soul back then, when drinking free vodka at tacky clubs was how I thought I would find Mr. Right. Despite having a goddamned blast and meeting some lifelong friends, I couldn’t continue to drink like that.
This is how I learned to take better care of myself. And I am still learning how to be a person, in general. I never, ever, ever took baths up until about two years ago. I was working 30 hours a week at one job, sewing 30 hours a week for myself, and doing freelance activities another 20. "Stressed" is not even the word.
I booked a tropical vacation for a month ahead, bought a bag of lavender flowers, and created an hour bathing ritual to save me from madness.
Now that more time has passed, once again I am seeking balance, and I am again turning to the tub. Using a blend of herbs and salts, I can soak away all of my sins, problems, and worries, and hope with all my will that no one knocks on the door. I always issue a stern warning to not enter while I am bathing, but someone almost always does (life with roommates, dogs and significant others).
To keep distractions to a minimum, I try using a dreamy and whimsical playlist to help drown out the outside world, no matter where that is.
The songs on this playlist were chosen to keep you calm and chill, but mostly upbeat. Ranging from Major Lazer’s hit “Get Free” (one of my favorite songs ever) and Radiohead’s sleepy live edit “True Love Waits,” take a trip to Portlandia and back on a soft fluffy rainbow of tunes.
But you'll need more than music. The first step to a successful bath is to get everything you need set up, so there is no mental distraction, and no getting out!!
- 1c Epsom salt
- 1/2c yellow coarse ground cornmeal
- 2tbs dried lavender flowers,
- a few drops of peppermint, eucalyptus, or wintergreen essential oil
- skin brush or loofah
- a washcloth
- your favorite face mask
- 1c baking soda (not for the bathwater)
- a screen to cover your drain
Tub temperature is really a personal preference. I mostly really like hot hot hot baths, but sometimes, especially in the summer, it takes SO long to get in and get comfortable that most of my "me" time is wasted squatting butt naked in scalding water trying to slowly lower all the way in. Some like it hot, and I like it mostly hot. If you will be dilly-dallying a lot before the bath, sure, set that water to all the way hot, that way by the time you get in it will be inhabitable.
First, sprinkle the cornmeal under the running water; you want it to rehydrate and soften, releasing its oils into the water. Cornmeal contains unique oils, which are very commonly used to treat acne, athletes foot, and calloused skin. Having an on-again, off-again relationship with all three, I LIVE for cornmeal soaks.
You can add the lavender flowers at the halfway point, as they too need time to soak in the hot water and release all of their goodness. REMEMBER: some flowers cause allergies and sensitivity. (If you have a history of seizures, stay away from lavender and try rose or chamomile instead. If you are prone to skin allergies or seasonal allergies, stay away from chamomile.) The flowers add their essential oils to the water, distributing them all over your skin and softening areas that never see the light of day.
After the tub is filled, turn off the water and sprinkle in the epsom salts. Press play on the playlist and apply your face mask of choice. Just before hopping in, I make sure everything I need is within reach, but out of splashing range, and keep a dry towel on hand so you can handle things safely. I use a small washcloth as a neck cushion in the tub, since the porcelain tends to hurt after awhile, and I am squirmy.
Let the dreamy, trippy, honey-thick melodies fill your bathroom with love and try as hard as you can to enjoy the moment. I am one of those people that is always moving; sitting still is rare. In fact at night, I fall asleep watching nature documentaries, hypnotizing me into closing my eyes, and wake up talking about blue-footed boobies and mega dams. This is the curse of the hyperactive, and bath time is one of the few times I have to just stop.
This playlist is full of those types of songs, moments in time, dreams come true or dreams being lived. They remind me to soak in the moment, and be present in it. Put down your phone, stop thinking about work, and just get back in tune with yourself.