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Filtering by Category: creative self-care

five ways to use a mantra

liz lamoreux

how to use a mantra.jpg

A mantra is a phrase that can help you invite in mindfulness to your daily life. Mantras were traditionally used during meditation and are still used this way in many spiritual traditions. 

I think of a mantra as an intention. This intention might come from a deep wish you have inside, or it might be a shift you’re hoping for in your life (or even for the world). Your mantra could be more like a prayer or guidance that you’re holding close. You might work with just one mantra for a long time, focusing on it during meditation or moments of quiet. Or there might be a handful of words or phrases you turn to depending on what you need in a certain moment.

I started making my Soul Mantras jewelry because I wanted to wear the phrases that were guiding me to keep them close each day. I found that when I wore “I am enough” and “find your center” and “open up and live” on my body, I was reminded to believe these truths. And I felt less alone as the words themselves became companions in the beautiful and tough moments. 

In our current culture, mantras are used in several ways to invite in mindfulness to our daily lives. Here are five ways to help you get started:


You can repeat your mantra silently to yourself as you breathe and let this repetition be a space for your mind to rest while you meditate. The mantra assists you in entering the silence meditation is helping you find by giving your mind something to focus on. 

holding mala_2-2 copy.jpg

A mala can be helpful when using a mantra in meditation because it gives you a set number of times to repeat the mantra. A mala, similar to a rosary, is helpful when used in meditation. You slide the beads between your fingers so you can focus on the words of your mantra instead of counting the number of times you’re saying the mantra. Most malas include a “guru” bead that is larger than the other beads so you know where to begin and end your meditation. We don't currently have malas in stock, but you an find some lovely handmade malas on Etsy.

As a touchstone

You can use your mantra as a touchstone during your day. When I want to pause for a moment or two and reboot myself a bit using a mantra, I inhale and think the words, and then exhale and imagine all that I need from the mantra surrounds me. Then I breathe all that in and say it again to myself. Doing this a few times creates some space between whatever is happening in my life and where I want to be. 


As a visual reminder

For me to use a mantra as a touchstone though, I usually have to see it or I won’t remember. So to keep this practice close, I have a handful of mantras and other reminders I need throughout my home. From artwork that includes affirmations (like my friend Lori Portka's work) to a postcard on the fridge to sticky notes on the mirror in the bathroom to a talisman I keep in my pocket, I love to be surrounded by these reminders that help me refocus throughout the day. I’ve been known to even write mantras on the bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker. This is a big reason why I created the Soul Mantras inspiration decks.

As a journaling prompt

Using a mantra as a journaling prompt can help you peel back the layers of how you’re feeling about something. Let yourself freewrite with the mantra as a jumping off point. Freewriting means just putting your pen to paper and writing for several minutes without stopping.

For example, if you’re feeling drawn to a particular phrase, like, “I am enough,” you could use that phrase as a journaling prompt. It could be a question – “What if I believed that I am enough?” – that you then answer through journaling. Or it could be more of a statement like “I know I am enough because…” 


And of course, you can wear your mantra

From writing a word or phrase you need to hold close onto your wrist with a sharpie to wearing a necklace or bracelet with your mantra to getting a tattoo, wearing your mantra is always an option. It keeps it close to you, sometimes feeling like a whispered prayer you carry with you daily. Customize jewelry with your mantra right here.

Photo credit: Top photo by Lauren Oliver Photography, mala photo by Bonnie Albers

what if meal planning could actually support me?

liz lamoreux

meal planning made doable

I was part of a conversation during the retreat I attended last month that made me realize having a meal plan doesn’t have to mean cooking everything from scratch but instead could mean just having a general plan for food and eating. And that plan might include ordering a pizza one night etc.

This is seriously a huge aha because the idea of a meal plan always brings up such shame for me. Meaning: meal plans are for people who love cooking for their families and are good at it and always know just what to make and and and and... I had created a whole story around the idea that meal planning is for supermoms who have lists of recipes and love grocery shopping not moms who often realize it is 4:30 and say, "shit shit shit what are we going to do for dinner?" while dreading stopping at the grocery store with a hungry, tired kid.

I don't hate cooking. It's actually that, as I said to a friend at the retreat, I love to cook but I’m in a season of life where cooking can feel impossible some days. Add in the grocery store several times a week and I'm ready to just take a nap and can't we just have cheese and crackers for dinner thank you very much.

BUT this weekend, armed with my new take on a meal plan, I created a general plan and then an actual grocery list. I focused on simple meals we like that don't take much time (love this cookbook) along with deciding I would try the "roast a chicken once a week" method for a while because it has always been a good one when we've done it in the past. (Bone broth! Leftovers that can be used for lunches and other meals!) Then, EJ and I went to Trader Joe’s to make things even easier (especially since we already had several things we needed), and there were peonies!


With this simple shift in realizing what a meal plan could actually be, I pretty much know what we’re going to eat for the week with wiggle room for my need to be more human than super mom and an internal agreement that it really is okay to get takeout when the day goes upside down and there isn't time to cook. I'm also reminding myself that it's about making one move each day toward the life I imagine; it's not about being perfect. 

How do you tackle meal planning? I'd love to know your tips.

6 ways making lists can be an act of creative and mindful self-care

liz lamoreux

list making self-care.jpg

I love a good list. From lists of favorite things to lists of 10 places you should visit in Paris to gratitude lists to your favorite songs in high school, I love them all.  

List-making can actually be an awesome self-care practice. The act of slowing down and focusing on writing a list pushes you out of the swirling thoughts in your mind to bring your attention to just one thing: writing the list. A list can connect you to the present moment and the beauty and gratitude waiting to be found in your daily life.

It can also be a great writing practice and warm up before you dive into a writing project or it can even be the bones of an essay, a blog post, or a poem. I often encourage women who have the "I want to be writer" dream deep inside them to begin with lists. Get some words on a page because writers have to write and push through just dreaming about writing.

Here are a few list-writing prompts to get you started with your own list-making practice.

The "Want To Do" List

When the "to-do" list starts to feel heavy and even overwhelming, it can be helpful to create a "Want To Do" List.  

You can make it really doable and include items like: take-out for dinner, stopping by the park on the way home from school pick-up, taking a 10-minute nap, and reading before bed.  

Or you can fill it with the dreams and desires you have right now and add things like: a weekend getaway, less time on devices each weekend, more whole foods in your diet, or more time with everyone together in the evenings.  

Having a "want to do" list pushes you to notice what you need and separate it out from what must get done each day. You could make this list every day in a simple small notebook (I love Field Notes and pocket Cahier Moleskines) and begin to notice patterns as you listen to what you need.

list making as self care

The What I Did List

When I get to the end of the day and have that "I really wish I'd gotten more done today" feeling, I sometimes make a list of the things I really did today. When I start listing things, I begin to realize that I accomplished so much more than I thought I did. This is a simple one but can make a profound impact on your internal self-talk. Try it and see what you find.

I Want to Remember List

Pausing to pay attention to what you want to remember can be a beautiful daily practice. It invites you to really notice the moments of joy and growth and realness that make your life what it is.

This practice is a great one to pair with scrapbooking or a simple album of photos and words. And it is one that you can do with your family. I love asking my daughter a version of this question that is age appropriate for her, like, "What did you love most about today?" Making lists like these can help you to see the positive moments in your life, which is especially helpful when you're going through a tough time.

Gratitude Lists

Here's the thing: writing a gratitude list every day will change your life. For real. So even though this one has been around for a long time (Remember learning about this on Oprah in the 90s?), it can be a lovely and supportive practice. 

Psychology professor Robert Emmons explored the idea of keeping a gratitude list in one of his studies. He found, “subjects who wrote down one thing that they were grateful for every day reported being 25 percent happier for a full six months after following this practice for just three weeks” (from “6 Surprising Reasons Why Gratitude is Great for Your Health,”). If this isn't a reason to try this one, what will be?

To begin this practice, simply answer the question, "What am I grateful for today?" and make a short list. Try to write down at least five things you're grateful for each day, and notice how this practice makes you feel. You might even want to journal about that very idea once a week to see how this practice affects you. My daughter and I have been making these lists together for a few weeks now (about 2-3 times a week after dinner), and I'm already noticing the ways that throughout our days, we each bring up things we want to add to our lists.


List Journals

My daughter and I also love these "My Listography" journals that are full of fun list prompts that invite you to think about so many things. There are versions for parenthood and lists about the future and books and movies. They are an accessible way to give yourself a few moments of slowing down and thinking about yourself in the middle of your day. And they are simply fun!

A List of Here

Another list I make sometimes is actually one of my favorite poetry prompts. I call it "a list of here," and I literally just make a list of what I'm noticing in this moment. I like to list somewhere between 5-15 observations. This is a really beautiful mindfulness practice as it centers you in the middle of your day and brings you back into your body and heart as you take time to simply observe your surroundings along with your inner self-talk. Over the past year, I've started sharing them on Instagram with the hashtag #alistofhere - feel free to join in!

I hope you'll try list making as a self-care tool in your corner of the world. I really believe that it can help you slow down and notice your life in a new way. And it can help you get to know yourself better, which is a pretty awesome thing, don't you think?

Create your own afternoon retreat

liz lamoreux

creating your own afternoon retreat.jpg

Anne Morrow Lindbergh said, "I believe that true identity is found . . . in creative activity springing from within." This speaks deeply to my belief that creativity and mindfulness can help us deepen our inner relationship as we find our way in this wacky, wonderful, hard, beautiful world.

Over the years, I've hosted quite a few retreats, and I learned how important it is to talk about how we can take what we've experienced during our time away from our daily lives and recreate a piece of the experience at home. I encourage the women I work with to take an afternoon every month or so and carve out some time, even if just for two hours, that is devoted to creative play and reconnection with themselves.  

As I get ready to go on a retreat this week - this time as a participant instead of a host - I thought it would be fun to share a template for you to use to create your own creative retreat afternoon for one.

creative books

Something Inspiring

First, gather something inspiring to read that will get you in the mood to dive into taking care of yourself.

I almost always start with poetry or blessings that help me set an intention for the day. A few favorites:

Maybe you'll want to gather several creative books (like the examples I show in the photo above, including Inner Excavation) or others that inspire you that you can peruse through during your afternoon. Magazines like Flow, Womankind, and Happinez can be fun too.

liz lamoreux photo walk

Something Creative

Warm up with some simple creative play.

Consider starting with a photo walk. Get outside with your camera (or phone) and notice the beauty around you. Take about 10-20 photos (or more) and just have fun. You might want to:

  • Take a self-portrait or two.
  • Find something green, something purple, something citrus.
  • Find your shadow.
  • Find a heart.
  • Find your senses.

Another idea is to start with a writing warm-up. Take out a notebook and set a timer for 5-10 minutes and just start writing. Don't pick your pen up, just get all the thoughts onto the page. This is actually a great exercise to do at any point during the day. You can use it when you feel stuck or if thoughts of what you "should" be doing pull on you. Think of it like a brain dump that will free you to get back to creative play.

watercolor play liz lamoreux

Something Colorful

Add in something colorful to your creative play. Gather a few art supplies. These can be really simple, like crayons, colored pencils, a blank sketchbook or notebook, watercolors and watercolor paper. You also might want to gather some collage supplies like magazines, a glue stick, journal, photos, and other fun things.

If you are new to this kind of creative play, here are some prompts to help you get started. With each prompt you can collage a page with images and words from magazines, draw, make lists in different colors or markers, just write your response, paint whatever comes to mind, and so on. Choose one and go for it:

  • I am...
  • My secret dream is...
  • I hope...
  • The colors of my life...
liz lamoreux retreat for one

Something Nourishing

Gather a few nourishing foods that you love and that will give you energy. This can be another form of creative play as you choose the colors, little bowls and plates, etc and make it special for yourself. Think about adding in fruit and protein and even some chocolate.

Most importantly, listen to what your body needs and nurture it.

Something Grounding

Finish your day with something grounding. A few ideas:

  • Sit in the quiet and take five deep breaths.
  • Journal for a few minutes with a prompt like "I want to remember" or "In this moment, I..."
  • Go on 10-minute walk and notice what you find.
  • Stretch.
  • Stand outside barefoot and feel the earth beneath your feet.

Consider closing your day with a commitment to creating space for more afternoons like this one. Maybe even put the next one on your calendar. 

If you enjoyed this post and would like even more ideas about creating your own retreat (for a few hours or even a weekend), let me know in the comments and I'll work on some more posts like this one.

Photo Credits: All photos by Vanessa Simpson of Focus In Photography, except the watercolors, which shows a glimpse of the kind of creative fun that I like to share on Instagram.