Welcome to Refinery29’s Feel Good Diaries, where we chronicle the physical and mental wellness routines of women today, their costs, and whether or not these self-care rituals actually make you feel good.
Have your own Feel Good Diary to submit? You can do so here!
Today: A Black, American woman living in Morocco who finds wellness through meditating, belly dancing, and socializing with old and new friends.
Location: Tangier, Morocco
Occupation: Travel writer and English teacher
$50 a month for a basic membership to Suhaila Salimpour’s online belly dance classes
*This diary was written in August 2020.
1 p.m. — I had fallen asleep doing a guided visualization by hypnotherapist Steve Burgess on YouTube. I woke up feeling tranquil. I washed my face first to separate the oils and dead skin, and then again to remove it all. I use Clean & Clear Daily Facial Cleansing Bar Soap. It’s ten dirham, or about $1, and it does a good job. After, I cut an aloe vera leaf to spread it over my face, ears, neck and anything else. The leaf costs 30 cents at the market. I make sure to get one every week because it makes me feel like a goddess. When it dries, I pour a little rosewater (cooking grade, $3) on my hand with a few drops of tea tree oil (locally made, $4) for another layer of nutrients. My last potion is a bit of mattifying face lotion (Nivea Essentials, $6).
For breakfast, I took Greek yogurt from the freezer and mixed it with a blend of avocado, raw sugar, coconut milk, and almond milk that I had prepared before bed. I’m experimenting with cutting down on bread and sugar, despite having a tattoo of wheat on my inner arm. After, I made black coffee with my Moka and sipped while writing. I did this all ass-naked, because, home.
7:40 p.m. — By the time I closed my laptop, I was ravenous. I drank water first and made the fastest, most satisfying option I had: pasta. I hadn’t had bread in four days, whereas I used to have it every morning, so I wasn’t worried. The green spinach noodles boiled as I cut garlic, broccoli, and mushrooms to sauté in a vegetable butter. I have used the same alla Calabrese sauce all year with any veggie combination, a bit of cheese, and black pepper ($10).
I ate and felt more in tune with myself. To reestablish that, I meditated by candlelight. These days, I sit before a self-love altar, upon which is a candle (energy, protection), herbs (lavender sage other local dried flowers for beauty), the equivalent of $40 (prosperity), an amethyst geode (strength), and a note that says, “As I see myself, I see God” (idea from public figure Shaman Durek’s book, Spirit Hacking). In this session, I sat with my concerns about my career before letting them evaporate. I left a teaching position at a small private school in Tangier in July, despite the economic uncertainty due to COVID. I know I am a great candidate, but the stress came from wanting to control what happens next is a lot.
I like to meditate with an issue because it tends to deliver answers. This session, I realized that the eating disorders in my teens taught me things about willpower and control, but the opposite of control is trust, and now is a time to trust. The best fit for me is mine, period. I took a walk on the corniche to stew in this content headspace. It was liberating.
12:30 a.m. — I hung out in a parking lot by my home with my boyfriend and a good friend. In Morocco due to COVID-19, we were on strict lockdown for about four months, during which only grocery stores and pharmacies were open, there was no travel between cities, and at times you had to have special papers saying you could be outside. Face masks are still mandatory, but everything has been opening up bit by bit.
I didn’t get to bed until 4 a.m. Earlier, someone in our group passive-aggressively corrected my Arabic pronunciation of the word for “lighter.” Before bed, I let the tension I still felt toward that person go. It wasn’t mine to harbor.
Daily total: $24.30
2 p.m. — In my un-air-conditioned apartment, I played with steps from Suhaila Salimpour’s online belly dance classes, which I pay for monthly. I started classes back in spring, when it was illegal for us to go outside. Transitioning between moves, I observed the energy traveling through my body and tried to be conscious of my relationship with the ground. An hour later, I added matcha powder to frozen Greek yogurt. I consumed the combination, and drank fizzy water, while somehow still dancing to music.
When I was finished eating and dancing, I grabbed a mask and a paper bag and headed outside. Last night, I had left a cigarette butt on the ground. (I used to smoke cigarettes, and while I stopped, I’ll sometimes smoke when around people due to social anxiety.) I went to bed feeling guilty. To take responsibility for my actions, I pledged to pick up some trash today. I did my street leading up to our garbage dumps. I felt people staring at me, even the guys who hang by the dumpster to inhale glue. I kept my gaze on the ground and picked up butts. I pretended it wasn’t that much different from a dance.
6 p.m. — I decided to make a rice recipe I saw on Instagram to have with a home-made avocado smoothie. I went to the souk for spices and tomatoes. To get there, I made my way through a bazaar of clothes and makeup. A couple of women complimented my ombre braids (black on top, white on the bottom) in passing — then reached out to grab one. A year ago, I would have been frustrated at the extra attention, good or bad, I get for my Blackness. It started as a small annoyance but built up into anger over time. It took a while to understand that strangers will project parts of them (fears, desires) onto my skin, like I’m a movie screen; it has nothing to do with me. Today, I just laughed and turned into the shop. There were giant lumps of spices, dried fruit, candies, and nuts between us customers and the vendors. In Arabic, I said I wanted a dollar each of turmeric, cinnamon, and dates. He pointed to the turmeric and cinnamon sticks to explain that if I wanted powders, they’d have to grind it. ($5.30) While I waited, I lost myself looking at the wall of oils and honeys and natural soaps. Women in colorful scarves reached over the goods to pay for their items. No one cared about the flies and bees enjoying the sweeter items. I used to, but now I think of them more like the critters in a still life. Or maybe food critics.
Daily total: $5.30
12 p.m. — I was supposed to be preparing for an interview, but I’d made the mistake of picking up my phone first thing after waking up. I actually avoid the news whenever possible, and I felt a little bombarded by the sensationalist headlines. My mind was buzzing and needed to slow down. I sat by an orange soy candle and tried to transmute this excitement into my alert, professional persona by saying, “I love that my mind can process so much — faster than my body. It’s already on the job.” I wrote my intention and a note of gratitude in a 17-month Fringe Studio planner from TJ Maxx ($12.99), then I listened to a podcast about teaching English as a second language to wake up my teacher side.
3 p.m. — The interview went great — I got the job. I carried that high into making an omelette with spinach, broccoli, Emmental cheese, and dates on the side (about $10 total). I had slept at 4 a.m. and woken up at 9 a.m., so the plan was to do some writing and whenever that was done, sleep. I love my unorganized sleep schedule. A few months ago, I tried to commit to a schedule, sleeping from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. every night — but I disliked it.
Daily total: $22.99
4 p.m. — My boyfriend was stopping by before his weekend trip back to his hometown. He was bringing my laundry, since my place is too small for a washing machine. I wanted to freshen up so I brushed my teeth again with an activated charcoal and coconut oil toothpaste ($7) that I get from a shop that sells religious items. My basic toothbrush is Miniso ($2). I wasn’t wearing makeup or much else.
6 p.m. — As I’m cooking my favorite chickpea recipe from Bon Appetit, I noticed a dense feeling in my chest. It had been a while since I felt anxious. I know it was about the piece I just pitched. I’m still learning about working in media, and sometimes I get caught up putting pressure on myself to be established in the competitive industry.
I pulled a card on the free Labyrinthos app for some tarot insight and got Ten of Wands, reversed. The description said I’m taking on too much and should delegate or prioritize. Slow my roll, got it. The chickpeas turned out salty and too hard, so I rinsed them and stored them in the fridge to salvage tomorrow, and just had the salad I was going to pair with them (boiled broccoli, cheddar, red onion, almonds, and bacon). I’ve made this recipe a few times before, from Delish. The ingredients for my meal were roughly $32.
Daily total: $41
6 a.m. — I felt a pounce and woke up to my cat wanting to join me in bed. Ordinarily I’d love this, but a few hours ago he snuck outside, meaning he brought in fleas. Even though I had sprayed him, he was scratching. I noted to give him a bath during daylight and I gave him the boot because who wants fleas in their bed?
With awareness, I reached for my phone and searched Ecosia.org (a search engine that donates its profits to reforestation efforts) for Facebook.com. Over a week ago, I deleted the app because I was checking it too much only to find toxic and emotionally taxing headlines. Scanning the timeline, I liked what I wanted more of in the world (people rallying for equality) and passed on a bunch of what I identified as demonizing people I didn’t know. I saw funny memes in between. Anything about Trump, I ignored. I believe any news relevant to my life has a way of getting to me through friends, directly. I’ve already decided on who I’ll vote for and how I support my causes, so anything else is just theater. As a Black person, my hands are mostly tied in just healing me.
After Facebook, I check a group for a favorite podcast called Soberish. I think the podcast name came from the host, comedian Jessa Reed, originally talking about her past meth addiction, but either way it’s actually a spiritual show. The community’s posts are like a palate cleanser for the chaos on my main timeline.
Before getting off, I saw a call for contributors for a publication and checked out the site. I got a rush of excitement to see it covers wellbeing in areas like culture, sex, and spirituality. I read some pieces and fall in love with the way they sound like they care about the person reading it. I share one asking a psychologist about “How to Relieve Work Stress Without a Glass of Wine” with my bff who lives back in the States. She talks about the country’s drinking culture a lot. I get out my laptop to familiarize myself.
2 p.m. — I’d given my cat a bath and spent the day drafting ideas. At this point, my brain was foggy and interrupting me with old cringe memories of myself. I played Duncan Trussell’s podcast on metaphysics to distract myself. Then I had yogurt and dates ($2) before taking a 3-hour nap. I played a guided meditation because I knew it’d knock me out.
Daily total: $2
3 p.m. — I’m over the bread experiment. I go to the bakery and get two mini baguettes of fresh, whole grain bread with nuts and oats on top ($1.20). The bread, with thyme ($3) and rosemary ($2) and a non-salted vegetable oil spread ($2.50), tastes amazing. I have it with my frozen yogurt and coffee. My multicolored stainless steel Zara Home utensils (a set is about $24) make this moment even more cheerful. I’m not going back to toast every breakfast, but I save the second baguette in the fridge for tomorrow.
9 p.m. — I put on a face mask (Yves Rocher Sebo Pure Végétal Masque Désincrustant au Charbon, about $11) and while it sits I check an astrology app called The Pattern. It says I’m in the peak of a life cycle where I’m more independent and adaptable. According to it, I am in a spot that supports my free-spiritedness. I rinse and moisturize with the last of this week’s aloe vera leaf.
In bed, I think back to everything that took up mental space today — any work, any social issues, any goals — and imagined them evaporating from my body. I let tension from all my muscles go, and I became aware of who I am outside of what I occupy myself with during the day. This mental activity prevents nightmares, and welcomes vibrant dreams because I’m just so damn relaxed. It substituted my meditation for the day.
Daily total: $19.70
12 p.m. — With the bread I’d gotten yesterday, I made an old favorite, avocado toast, specifically because it was hit when I left America. I miss my friends who I ate it with. I add a fried egg, sunny side up, and salt, pepper, and red chili pepper flakes. I had it with coffee and cucumber water. I’m charged on Patreon for my subscription to the podcast that made me want to meditate, “Lighting the Void” ($5). They host interviews with experts in the esoteric, paranormal, spiritual, and parapsychological fields.
7 p.m. — I wanted steak and fries for dinner, but didn’t want to go out to eat. I decided to make it for tomorrow’s lunch if I was still in the mood. For dinner, I boiled lentils with curry, salt, and ginger powder (ingredients were about $6.80). I added some heavy cream and shredded carrots. I loved it.
I cancelled a weekly session with my Italo-French classical voice teacher, who incorporates New Ageism into the art. If one day the energy in my voice is off, she may pause the lesson to work with my chakras. She’s big into spiritual ascension, and the only person I know I can talk about auras and whatnot with. But a half hour is relatively pricey at the moment.
Instead, I connected over a long coffee with an energetic friend from New York, who loves to scout and invite cool looking strangers to our table. It would have been only $1.50, but she charmed a man who had been sitting with us into paying. She’s socially talented.
I’d had a small social circle of other foreigners, but this season, they seem to be going back to their home countries. But I just met a kind Moroccan woman I could see myself being friends with. It’d be nice to get out more and learn the local Arabic. (Hopefully without being judged for my mistakes!)
Daily total: $11.80
Weekly total: $127.09
Reflection: I noticed a huge shift in my well-being when I started doing some form of meditation every day. It really does make my mind more of a tool when I want to manifest or deal with negative energy. If I do not feel emotionally or spiritually in alignment, I don’t function well. I guess I got used to prioritizing my interior world because my dad’s a pastor and the invisible sides of life were a big part of my upbringing.
Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?