For the past two years, blogging has been the main focus in my life. It feels ridiculous to type that sentence, but it's true. 

During the #GoneGreen2016 series, I blogged daily, and the entirety of my day was taken up by a stressy mix of researching, digesting, writing, editing and uploading my discoveries. In hindsight, it was an unhealthy task to take on, but I was determined to learn how to live more ethically and sustainably, and it seemed to be the most productive way forward.  

When 2017 rolled around I had high hopes of rebalancing my lifestyle, I had 'paid my dues' and thought everything would fall into place, and that posting only twice a week would be a walk in the park. I assumed that the ever-elusive work/life balance equilibrium would naturally fall into my lap. But it didn't.

I'd get up each morning, make a coffee, maybe work out, sit down at my computer, and there I'd stay for the duration of the day, and often much of the night as well. I was usually irritable, regularly stressed out, and constantly depleting my barrel of creativity as I pushed myself mercilessly forward in fear I'd lose what I had worked so hard to build.
PJS: Azura Bay

I gave up time with my partner, my family, my friends, and myself. Yet what I gained in self-education, readership, and 'online power', I lost in real life experiences, connections, spirituality, self-love, self-care - and worst of all, the foundations of my marriage which I wrongfully assumed could withstand any and all, began to falter. 

I've written about this or at the very least alluded to this in various posts over the years, my husfriend and I both freelance from home with intense schedules and ridiculous work hours that are often self-imposed. Our finances are irregular with heavy ebbs and sporadic flows, and though we are often together, we're together in work mode. Individually, it was more of the same, while we weren't making time for each other, we also weren't making time for our personal, mental and spiritual health. Nor our friendships, our family and our community.

We both made efforts towards making positive changes in our life, but bad habits are easy to make and even harder to break. It wasn't that anything was particularly 'wrong' with our relationship, with ourselves, or each other, it was just that the lifestyle and daily doings we had built around our person and our couple weren't conducive to maintaining optimal spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health. We needed the consistency of routine to break out of the sickly cycle. 

So, when 2018 rolled around, we decided to stop complaining about it and do something. We bought an RV which we'll take off in this Spring, and in preparation for what we hope to be a blissful more affordable lifestyle, we've developed a healthier schedule: no working on the weekends, computers off by dinnertime, mini breaks throughout the day, and a healthy morning routine. After practising the morning routine for a few months now, we genuinely look forward to it each morning, and though it is a set of simple and relatively obvious choices, it feeds with equality our spiritual health, mental health, physical health, and health as a couple.

PRESS SNOOZE (10 min)
SNOOZING FOR SNUGGLES IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH AND HEART
Morning cuddles set a serene tone to the day. Before we go to bed, we set the alarm earlier than we plan to get up and snooze it at least twice to enjoy the conscious bits of bliss that come with it.  Though it might sound like an excuse to be lazy (and it is), there's actually some science behind it. 

Whenever us humans make physical contact with someone important to us, oxytocin is released, which reduces high blood pressure and also releases dopamine. Simultaneously, it drops our level of cortisol, the main biological culprit of stress and anxiety, which then triggers the restoration of our immune systems. So, It's not only just a pleasure to snooze all snuggled up in your sheets, it's a necessary part of health and wellness for you and yer bae.
STRETCHING SERENITY (20min)
PULLING AND MEDITATION COMBINED FOR HEALTH OF BODY & MIND 
[OIL PULL] Once we do finally get up, before doing anything else, we put a tablespoon of organic raw, cold pressed coconut oil in our mouths. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic method for detox and rejuvenation, and it offers various health benefits oral and otherwise. Various studies have discovered that it treats tooth decay, whitens teeth, kills bad breath, heals bleeding gums, prevents heart disease, reduces inflammation, soothes throat dryness, prevents cavities, heals cracked lips, boosts the immune system, improves acne, strengthens the gum and jaws, and treats TMJ.

To do it, you put 1-2tsp of coconut oil into your mouth, swish it around for a bit, and then let it sit for 20 minutes before spitting it out in the toilet (not the sink!). You can't talk while you oil pull, so it's a lovely way to transition out of bed in the morning stretching the snuggle session's serenity.

[MEDITATE]  I use the 20 minutes the oil is in my mouth to make the bed, light some cedar, and sit down to meditate. Sometimes we do a guided meditation with to the warm wise words of my friend Sarah's #LiveAwake podcast, and sometimes we do it in silence. Beyond the beautiful spiritual benefits of meditating which help us connect to ourselves and communicate with the powers that be, scientific studies have proven meditation helps boosts your health, happiness, and social life. It also helps balance emotion, reduces stress, depression and anxiety, increases productivity, and gives you both wisdom and perspective. 
AWAKE THE BRAIN (30min)
STIMULATE WITH LANGUAGE 'N' TEA
This step is all for me (my husband is trilingual so he plays guitar during this time), and I tend to retreat back into the bedroom with a cuppa hot Numi Organic Tea or Chicory (faux coffee made from dandilion root) to do it. 

I live in Paris, France, and thus French is a necessity. Nothing makes me feel more insecure and useless in a social setting than being unable to communicate. I'm old, and thus my brain isn't exactly a sponge when it comes to language learning, and because I spend my days glued to a computer writing in English, daily French practice is key.

I'm currently using Duolingo, I've also used Michael Thomas Method for French, and I learnt Danish back in the day with Rosetta Stone. 30 minutes of language learning/practising while still cozied up in my PJS with a hot drink makes the whole experience pleasurable rather than painful.

Beyond the confidence boost, learning two or more languages is a proven asset for the cognitive process including being able to problem solve, multitask, stave off Alzheimers and Dementia, improve memory, and help with decision making ... it also enhances your understanding of your mother tongue, which is an added bonus.
WORKOUT GEAR: Asquith London | EARBUDS: House Of Marley 

MOVE 'N' SHAKE (30 min)
DEATH TO THE GRUMPSTER 
Once I've finished French, I make up a smoothie, and once I've finished that, I exercise. I like to change things up, so I'll either go for a run in the park, swim in the public pool, go to yoga, or use a tacky workout app I've grown to love called Sweat With Kyla and workout at home. I'm an incredibly moody, impatient, grumpy human being BUT, if I exercise and meditate daily, I'm not. Which is amazing. 

Exercise is not only an important part of maintaining cardiovascular health and external aesthetics, it also combats health conditions and disease, improves mood, boost energy, promotes better sleep, reduces stress, alleviates depression and anxiety, prevents cognitive decline, boost brainpower, sharpens memory, helps control addiction, increases relaxation, improves productivity, AND boosts creativity. So for me, and for my husfriend, making time to do this helps repair each of the issues we were individually experiencing in one go.
SHOWER 'N' START (30 min)
TIDY ALL FORE YOU ARE COMPUTER BOUND
Most of last year and the year before, I skipped mornings showers, saving them until the end of the day as a decompression before I crawled into bed, computer warn and exhausted. I spent the day in my PJs and kind of frumped about, hair in a greasy bun just looking like your typical hermit blogger ... best emojified by the Japenese Ogre emoji 👹. As I transitioned into this morning routine mid-way through last year, that stopped. After exercising, I shower, moisturize, and if I'm planning on leaving the house put makeup on then, if I'm not, and I'm looking rough, I'll put on a bit of bronzer or creme blush

I usually cruise around in my robe and tidy up the flat so it feels cozy while I make breakfast and another hot drink. Then I get dressed. Even if 'getting dressed' means putting on sweatpants and t-shirt, I try to make sure I feel I'm at least presentable enough to answer the door to the post person or run out to the shops without scaring the locals. Though I still put relatively minimal effort into my appearance on the daily, it makes a difference in my self-confidence and comfortable inside my skin which is huge, especially in ones 30s when the face and body are changing once again.

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BEDDING
UNDER THE CANOPY | Shibori Duvet Cover Set + Seafoam Sheets
Based in the U.S.A, UNDER THE CANOPY makes affordable bed linens with a plethora of certifications signalling positive intention. They hold certifications across the board: GOTS, Oeko-Tex, and Forest Stewardship Council linens all produced under Fairtrade conditions.
WHERE TO BUY? On their website HERE** 20% off with discount code LEOTIELOVELY20

THROW BLANKET
Made out of recycled cotton, HAPPY HABITAT gives a second life to pre-consumer fibres and clippings that would otherwise end up in the landfill. Using only a smidgen of the energy and water needed to produce new cotton. 
WHERE TO BUY? On her website HERE.

THROW PILLOW / MEDITATION PILLOW
HILARY HOPE | Upcycled Floor Pillow
I meditate on my Hilary Hope meditation pillow which is handcrafted in Victoria, Canada from sustainable repurposed materials. One side is made from upcycled vintage fabric, while the other features a naturally hand dyed design. Each creation Hilary makes is one-of-a-kind.
WHERE TO BUY? On her website HERE.

PYJAMAS
AZURA BAY | Bamboo Satin Floral PJS
This female owned and operated online boutique, based in Winnipeg, Canada, ships globally and specializes in luxurious ethical and sustainable lingerie and swimwear. Azura is my go-to for any intimates, swimwear or loungewear with their conscious collection of aesthetically pleasing gear.WHERE TO BUY? On her website HERE.

ROBE
UNDER THE CANOPY | Kimono Robe
This is the same brand that created our bedding. They produce cradle-to-cradle, with the planet and its inhabitants in mind, utilising a vertically integrated supply chain, meaning they control the supply chain from manufacturing to end sales, which drives cost down. All their products are ethical, sustainable and affordable.
WHERE TO BUY? On their website HERE.

WORKOUT GEAR

ASQUITH LONDON | Flow Leggings + Balance Bra
Made with ethical, eco-friendly and sustainable bamboo and organic cotton. Each item is made in a family-run factory in southern Turkey where employees enjoy a 9-5 day, paid holiday and safe working conditions
WHERE TO BUY? On their website HERE.

MOCCASINS
MANITOBAH MUKLUKS | Street Moccasins
Indigenous owned and operated, this Manitoba based Métis company produces moccasins and mucklucks. They produce their footwear at their Indigenous-owned production facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba (my hometown), providing opportunity through employment to keep the crafts of their ancestors alive (though since I bought these 5 years ago, they've gone through such growth, they now only produce 20% of their product in Winnipeg).
WHERE TO BUY? On their website HERE.

OTHER ITEMS
beauty
ORGANIC RAW COLD PRESSED COCONUT OIL | TONGUE SCRAPER | LAMAZUNA ZERO WASTE TOOTHBRUSH | BIODEGRADABLE DENTAL FLOSS | ZERO WASTE TOOTHPASTE

food CHICORY | NUMI ORGANIC TEA | GREEN VIBRANCE
scents CEDAR INCENSE CONES

SOURCES: THE WEEKMIC | HUB | ACADEMIC JOURNALS | NCBI | DR. AXE | PSYCHOLOGY TODAY | THE TELEGRAPH | ORGANIC FACTS | HUFFINGTON POST | MAYO CLINIC
SPONSORED POST: This post was sponsored by multiple brands, each of which I personally selected and approached for this collaborative post. The story, including all content, experiences, suggestions and opinions, are my own. I was gifted or bought the majority of what was pictured.