After a decade of being in the fast-paced, high-stress world of PR, events, and marketing, both working with agencies and brands—JM, an English-major graduate and a nerd at heart, is taking things slow. Having worked in PR and marketing, she has always been comfortable and thrived in its dynamic, adrenaline-and-caffeine-fueled environment. But for over a year now, she decided to take some time to slow down for a change.
Currently, she works as a freelance copywriter and event scriptwriter (the thrill of working with events never leaves you, she says), band manager, social media manager, and managing a small household of semi-dying plants.
1) Tell us about your favorite rituals
The single most important start to my day, and a ritual that I don't think I have neglected to do for the last couple of decades of my life, is making my bed every morning. I am so particular about how my pillows should be arranged, and that there should be no creases to my sheets. I don't think my day can start in the right order if this particular little chore has been left undone. For me, it feels like it's my commitment to taking control of at least one small part of my day—especially during this time/the last fews of months when so little of what's happening in our daily lives is something that we can actually control.
2) How do your rituals fit into your morning or night routines?
Making your bed doesn't really take much time at all! 5 minutes of your morning is all it takes. I get so frustrated with my husband when he happens to wake up later than me and he'll leave the bed all in disarray and won't get to fixing it until much later in the day! Good thing he generally wakes up much earlier than me, so I can make up the bed how I like it in peace.
Also, I was never a morning person. You would be hard pressed to find me bustling about anytime before 10AM, but a few months into the lockdown, I find myself looking forward to my morning routine. Once I’m satisfied with making my bed, I wash and moisturize my face, style my hair (whether it’s on a messy or sleek bun, braids, colorful pins, the works), and put on just a touch of makeup: usually fix my brows and a bit of color to my cheeks, lips, and in case I’m feeling extra special that morning—eyeliner. Finish everything off with a choice pair of earrings. Yes, I do all of this even when I’m still in my tank top and shorts. Again, small things that were originally part of my old routine before going to work; these little odd quirks give me a better sense of control over my day.
Then, I proceed to prepare my morning coffee. I take my morning coffee very seriously. I put on some music, get my coffee brewing, prepare a light breakfast (usually sweet or savory bread. I am also very serious about bread), and enjoy my quiet time —before my husband comes back from his morning run, thus signaling the end of my one alone time of the day since lockdown. Also, this usually means I need to start working already.
3) How long have you been following these rituals?
It was actually thanks to my mom who would nag me endlessly when I was younger about not leaving your bed unmade, no matter what. I pretty much picked the habit up, and have been applying it since I left home for college and started living alone. I'm grateful for the little things our parents say that sticks to you.
I make it a point to have a mental checklist at night of what are my small/big goals the following day. From what I want to wear for the day, to all the little or big tasks I plan on accomplishing. I'm really all about lists and to-dos! I have been a bit more laidback with the scheduling and planning during this period, and I feel like this unwinding or unwiring is kind of a ritual of learning as well.
4) Who or what influenced you to follow them?
Aside from my mom’s influence, I think it’s really all the Capricorn energy in me. I don’t recall picking up my habits anywhere or from anyone in particular; ever since I can remember I have always been like this, like it’s been hardwired in me all along.
5) What tools, items or products do you use in doing your rituals?
I have started making it a point to light my Saan Saan candles (Old Manila and Shrine Hunting are my favorites) on Sundays, along with the smudging of our condo with palo santo. I feel like it helps me start the week right somehow by acknowledging the good things and the bad that happened the previous week. I also developed a habit of smudging my guests who visit our home, pre-lockdown, which always gets a crack out of everybody! I tell them it's my way of finalizing the clearing of whatever bad vibes they were feeling, along with always being ready to offer a glass of wine or beer.
6) Do you dedicate a special space in your room or home for your rituals?
I have a special little nook by the edge of our couch right beside our living room window, with a little side table of some of my favorite things. The views are spectacular, especially during sunset, and this little spot is where I have my morning coffee and book, or afternoon cocktail while listening to music, or light my Saan Saan candle.
7) How did these rituals help you on a daily basis?
I have always been very serious about my routines and rituals ever since, to the point that I can't properly function if one tiny little detail did not go as planned, prepared, or expected. I guess this is why this time of unwinding and unwiring is also a new ritual that I ought to incorporate in my life every so often; to help better address myself and the points of view I would normally overlook when you're on a rigid kind of day to day routine.
8) Do you use a particular mantra, self-talk or positive reinforcement as part of a ritual or routine?
My brain is a never ending stream of consciousness, so I never really had a set mantra or self-talk. If I had to choose one that still stands true for me in any situation, it's that "the Universe provides." This little phrase has gotten me and my rambling overthinking brain through all sorts of drama and overexertion.
9) Have you ever stopped following a ritual? If so, what is it and why?
Like I said, I am mostly a creature of habit, albeit with erratic outbreaks! I am pretty sad about not being able to read as much as I did at the start of the year, though. I was so happy with my reading progress for the first 3 months of the year, and then all of a sudden the world changed, and you wake up to one grueling day, and try to sleep through more terrible news at night. I started and abandoned quite a few titles since then; none of them would offer the hook or temporary respite that my mind is craving from everything that's happening. At first I felt some sort of guilt with this inability, when so many fellow bookworms seem to be having no trouble continuing their literary adventures. I’m taking this as another lesson learned during this time, that sometimes it’s okay to take my time.