Elle is a freelance illustrator and maker who likes to dip her toes in all sorts of things. She designs and photographs content. She also makes paper cutting, embroidery, murals and other commission work.
1) Tell us about your favorite rituals.
This is a little tricky. Pre-quarantine, I’d have said that I didn’t have very many rituals, since I really wasn’t a set schedule sort of person. My days were always different, and the only thing I would do regularly was my skincare routine before going to bed. It’s different these days, being home.
I wake up earlier, sometimes at 6am. On warm days I make a cup of iced coffee, take a beach towel out onto the porch, and sit in the sun with a book.
In the evenings, I light a candle or some palo santo, and wait quietly for the comforting scent to fill up the room. I’ll just pat some face oil on while listening to music. Most times I pray. The quiet night sometimes means loud thoughts, and anxiety comes knocking. It’s calming to sit in the glow of a candle, take my worries about an unknown tomorrow, and entrust them to God.
2) How do your rituals fit into your morning or night routines? How much time do you allocate for them?
Before the quarantine, it was normal for me to go to bed at sunrise, rushing a deadline or (more likely) having ideas for personal projects that just couldn’t wait for the morning. I was tired, all the time.
My new morning routine in the sun gets me excited for the day, even when the day is just sitting at a desk working while listening to podcasts. If I wake up extra early I can sit out there for an hour, sometimes two. I like to watch the shadows change, and the leaves move in the sun. At night, sometimes it can take only 15 minutes, but it’s a lovely 15 minutes.
3) How long have you been following these rituals?
As you know, these are very new. The me from The Before Times would just run around all day, no plans, with nothing ever the same. Life is different these days, and having something to do regularly is now very comforting to me. Not only comforting, but I find I work better and rest better.
4) Who or what influenced you to follow them?
This really makes me think of my parents, who have their own rituals. I grew up seeing my parents reading the Bible and journaling in the quiet mornings, and my mom always puts on lotion before bed. My dad does the laundry. They both go out on the porch now to watch the sun go down.
5) What tools, items or products do you use in doing your rituals?
In the mornings I’ll have a coffee or a tea that I pour over ice. I have an inabel beach towel hand woven in Ilocos, and a sunscreen oil that smells like coconuts. This always coaxes my brain into thinking I’m at the sea.
At night I sit at my table and light a candle, my favorite is Old Manila. My little wedge of palo santo sits atop a bowl with shells from my favorite childhood beach haunt. It makes me smile.
In the mornings, I sit in our small front garden, where I never would have sat before. I’ve grown to like it so much. The lockdown means fewer cars, less people, and more birds singing. I’m going to miss this when the world starts up again.
7) How did these rituals help you on a daily basis?
Starting mornings with nothing to do except catch light makes my whole day better. I find it easier to find joy in the small things, finding it easier to take things like nature does: not slow, exactly, but quiet, deliberate, and joyful.
Photos by Elle. She is on Instagram as @ellebattung.