How I feel beautiful at home: 20 Canadians share their cherished personal rituals

A collection of small and simple things that can lead to immeasurable pleasures.

A collection of small and simple things that can lead to immeasurable pleasures

(Left to right, submitted by: Renée Power; Marilyn Jensen; Atul Dhir)

Everyday rituals can ground us and our days. But especially in these challenging times, these small pleasures can be more vital than ever. For a hit of inspiration, we asked Canadians from across the country what rituals they cherish most and why. Specifically, what makes them feel beautiful at home, just for themselves. 

"I think haircare in general makes me feel beautiful. Whether it is a line-up or fresh fade on my head, or 'manscaping'  — what is the gender neutral term for this? — my body, I find the extra time taken to areas that are often ignored remind me that I am still special to me." 

- Jesse Lipscombe, Edmonton, Alta., actor and activist

"Currently my obsession with beeswax candles and the golden light they emit has made me feel so centred and relaxed in my space and, in turn, beautiful. I love to light one when it's still dark in the morning and do my morning routine, which includes movement, meditation and journaling." 

- Renée Power, Vancouver, B.C., designer and founder of A Bronze Age

"I love the sensation of burned sweetgrass in our living and work space. The scent … gives me an immense sense of pleasure and calm. A friend of ours who has a store in the Junction (neighbourhood in Toronto) got me hooked on it, and at this point I do it at least a few times a week."

- Saty Namvar, Bloomfield, Ont., photographer

"I spend a lot of time making myself beautiful at home. My self-care ritual is different from day to day, depending on what my body needs. It usually involves a daily mindfulness practice — yoga, meditation, or some form of pranayama. Sometimes, I like to get a quick serotonin boost by putting on a playlist and having a solo dance party. Other times, it's taking an epsom salt bath or reading Sufi poetry before bed."

- Andrea Wan, Vancouver, B.C., artist

"The ritual that makes me feel beautiful at home is getting dressed up for my Instagram Live called 'Makers and Muses'. It's a series that I started earlier this year where I talk to creatives in an interview-type setting for about an hour. I usually dress up a little (or a lot) fancy because that's part of my brand ... but it also makes me feel good."

- Meg Greenlay, Winnipeg, Man., hairstylist and ceramic artist

"This year, I am relying on my relaxation ritual, which involves a DIY thermal spa experience at home. Hot bath in the dark (sometimes with a candle, bath salts, essential oils), and then cold water.

My ritual makes me feel beautiful at home because I feel relaxed and in tune with my own self for a few minutes in my busy day."

- Anna Binta Diallo, Montreal, Que., designer and co-owner of Sama Rakk, and visual artist

"We've filled our house with different species of plants and have even started an indoor greenhouse to grow veggies and herbs. It feels good to have the house full of life, and the greenery is really uplifting and calming at the same time. 

I love how present I am when working with plants. In an age where we are constantly connected, it feels great to disconnect from social, the news, all the other distractions and just focus my attention on a hobby that brings me a lot of joy." 

- Grant Carson, Penetanguishene, Ont., entrepreneur

"I'm a member of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation, and I feel beautiful and at my best when I am wearing Indigenous-made beaded jewels!… The colours are vibrant and sparkly, and I feel empowered, strong and well put together. 

I wear these pieces whether when I'm just at home, camping in the Yukon wilderness, in a business meeting or even when I'm on a Zoom meeting! When I wear my beaded jewels, I feel connected to my grandma Agnes and to my other ancestors who beaded and created exquisite pieces. There is a deep connection and feeling of admiration for all of the grandmas and aunties who passed this art form to the next generations."

- Marilyn Jensen, Whitehorse, Yukon, performing artist, educator and consultant

"After the first few 'numb' weeks of March/April 2020, I started getting out of bed up at a regular time each morning, showering, selecting an outfit as if I were going out to work. I put on make-up and coiffed my curls. It helps me feel somewhat normal, even if my commute is only a few steps to my 'office'." 

- Laurie Hall, Toronto, Ont., college instructor

"The perfect lighting — in my case, very dimmed — is what makes me the happiest at home. It might be an old trick, but flattering and forgiving lighting always makes me feel and look my best.

After playing around with different bulbs, I realized the perfect one (for me) is a 7.5 watt one in warm white. That is the $3 solution for a soft and warm glow."

- Claude Laframboise, Montreal, Que., stylist and writer 

"I am a self-taught furniture maker. My passion is woodworking, and my workshop — located in the one-car garage of my house — is like a second home. It makes me feel 'beautiful' because I go to work every day loving what I do, [which] gives me a nice confidence boost. 

There's nothing like opening up the door first thing in the morning with a coffee in hand, flicking the light switch on, and being hit in the face with the smell of locally sourced hardwoods. It smells incredible! And I usually have a certain beats-instrumental playlist that I listen to in the shop that puts me in the zone. It's so peaceful and relaxing." 

- Brodye Chappell, Charlottetown, P.E.I., furniture maker and founder of Brodye Chappell Builds

"We recently sold our home in Toronto and moved to Halifax, so it's been a year full of ... change. One of the things I have done to keep myself feeling beautiful at home is to take more time for self-care. Now that we live in Nova Scotia, it's so inspiring to get outside and go for a walk … the views of the Atlantic Ocean and beaches, even in winter, are stunning.  

However, as refreshing as the fresh ocean air is, it is also drying to my skin. I have to take extra care to make sure I'm taking good care of it. A daily facial oil, full of omega fatty acids and natural antioxidants, helps my skin look and feel its best."

- Daniel MacKinnon, Halifax, N.S., art director and co-founder of Crambé Skincare

"I love taking baths with candles and epsom salts. It makes me feel beautiful to cleanse and soften my skin. Taking the time to separate from everything happening in my world and the whole world. I feel at peace, which in turn makes me feel beautiful. 

As a mom, finding spaces in my day to escape and find time for myself is important to me. I think it started 18 years ago, after my son was born. I have kept this bath time ritual a big part of my life — before bed, it quiets my mind and soaks away the stresses of the day."  

- Jennifer Harper, St. Catharines, Ont., founder of Cheekbone Beauty

"Something that I do to feel beautiful at home is dressing up for myself. Spending a little extra time getting ready in the morning — whether it's putting on a face mask, doing my makeup and hair, or changing out of sweatpants for a pair of jeans — gives me an extra boost of confidence to go about my day at home. 

My parents have always reminded me that you do not make yourself up to impress others. It doesn't matter what other people think as long as you like it. With this philosophy in mind, I have grown to learn that feeling beautiful, to me, means taking care of myself, and being confident in my own skin."

- Azzedine Fong, Kingston, Ont., university student

"Three years ago, my wife and I bought a 1920s Dutch Colonial home near the University of Saskatchewan that I walked by and admired every day while I was in undergrad. 

One of the changes we've done is to create space for a home gym, which I use daily. It's become an important component in my overall health and well being. It gives us the opportunity to feel physically and mentally optimized, and beautiful in our home." 

- Atul Dhir, Saskatoon, Sask., dentist

"Yoga and meditation make me feel great at home, and have changed my life. I decided to start both about three years ago, when my anxiety was getting worse and I was looking at different ways to cope with it. The fact that I can move my body and get to stretch or get a nice flow of movements makes me feel amazing and grateful for what my body can do. 

I also feel more confident in my body [now]. I always wore baggy clothes while working out before, but being at home and feeling more confident in my practice has let me feel comfortable in a sports bra and tights!"  

- Chantal Carriere-Khan, Winnipeg, Man., therapist at Positive Perspectives

"Growing up, my grandma used to make me porridge on the stovetop. 'This will stick to your ribs,' she'd say with a wink, as she dropped raisins into the pot. I can close my eyes today and suddenly be in her kitchen, with the ivy wallpaper and milk-coloured cabinets. 

Nowadays, I make myself the same porridge in that very same pot. And when I do, I honour my grandma's memory and I bestow upon myself her care. 

Slowing down, cooking something warm and nutritious, feeding my body ... those practices make me feel good and healthy. I always feel most beautiful when I feel my most healthy."

- Katrina Tompkins, Joe Batt's Arm, Nfld., production manager at The Woodshop on Fogo Island

"The one ritual that I treasure most is cooking and eating a beautiful, elaborate breakfast together every morning as a family. Some of our favourites are crispy seared sablefish, fried rice, homemade pizza, green kale smoothies, steamed lobster, and grilled steaks and chops in the summer. There's no boundaries to our breakfasts!

Running multiple restaurants and growing our company takes a lot of time and dedication. It's the most beautiful feeling to cook for my own family, and to see my wife and sons enjoy the fruits of my labour. As a chef, I'm at the service of giving pleasure to others, and my life's greatest joy is seeing the smiles on my boys' faces when they are enjoying a feast."

- Craig Wong, Toronto, Ont., chef and owner of Patois and Bar Mignonette 

"The pandemic taught me that I have to find excitement in much simpler things than what I'd rely on before, so one thing I look forward to each Monday is my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist that adds at least something different to my routine.

Why does listening to my playlist make me feel beautiful? I carefully curate my playlist with songs that elicit an emotional response because they're tied to lessons in my life. Successes. Failures. Everything in between. I learn to express those memories through music."

- Casey Palmer, Toronto, Ont., project management office lead

"The one activity that makes me feel great at home is my daily workout. Growing up and being part of an athletic family, exercising has always been an integral aspect of my life. 

In what has been a very challenging past year for us, COVID-19 has really changed the way we adapt at home ... to keep healthy. It has pushed my creativity in a positive way to find different activities to get your heart pumping; whether it's through yoga, kettlebell training, HIIT programs or even simply doing some sit ups. I can't stress enough how important it is for me to accomplish these in order to feel amazing mentally and physically! I challenge everyone to get their sweat on daily so we can feel beautiful at home."

- Ryan Chung, Banff, Alta., owner of The Quest Gallery and Images of the North

Truc Nguyen is a Toronto-based writer, editor and stylist. Follow her at @trucnguyen.

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