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  1. Hygge: feeling warm, comfortable and safe. This Danish concept advocates enjoying the simple pleasures and treating yourself with care. During Chicago winters, we could all do with a little dose of hygge: the perfect antidote to Zoom overload. Here’s how. Clear out clutter To ensure the simplicity required for this concept, some decluttering is required. Make this an opportunity to donate items, then clear everything out of sight into some large, natural hampers. Bring in cozy Wool blankets, faux sheepskins, baskets of slippers. There is nothing better than snuggling with your family and embracing the best of togetherness. [Related: From slow to go! Balancing life post-pandemic] Add texture To complement the soft textiles, add some earthenware bowls for soup or glass jars filled with pinecones for a pleasing aesthetic. Bringing nature in promotes the tranquil vibe. Display those memories While we can’t see extended family members as much as we would like, displaying photos brings them closer. Or, dig out old mementos and arrange treasured items on shelves where they bring back happy memories. Read and listen Reading and listening to music are soothing pastimes for many of us. Select some poetry or a beautiful photo book, create a playlist, and chill out in a nook made from a bean bag chair or throw pillows. Embrace changing seasons Embracing the seasons is a part of hygge that we all have to accept in Chicago. Bundle up on sunny days, invest in a sled for the snowy ones, and makeover your bedroom hotel-style for the really ugly ones. Set a fire Whether you have a fireplace indoors, a fire pit outside, or just a visual on YouTube, fires are immensely relaxing. Rearrange the furniture around this focal point, replacing the TV with conversation. Enjoy a cuppa Make 2021 the year to up the ante on winter drinks. A hot chocolate bar is a fun, low-key activity for all the family. Alternately, cover a box with beautiful fabric and fill it with a range of teas for a home tasting. Bake a treat Though cookie exchanges are a no-no, take the opportunity to explore comfort foods from across the globe. Baking bread is another wonderful way to bring in the hygge, filling your home with an enticing aroma. [Related: Family-friendly slow-cooker meals for cold snaps] Bathe in light If candles are problematic with children and pets, there are plenty of realistic battery versions. And of course, strings of tiny fairy lights add a magical effect strung up a little haphazardly. Put away tech Central to the theme of hygge is simplification, and that applies to technology, too. Identify a place to put away these items at the end of the day, such as a sanitizing station or a charging drawer. Embrace neutral decor To fully embrace the required Danish décor, repaint a room in neutral colors of grays, greens and creams. For a low-commitment fix, try adding new pillows or replacing the bold with calming artwork. As we continue our winter living with COVID, it is so important that our homes become our sanctuaries — and not our cells. While traveling and experiencing a refreshing change of scene remains problematic, setting up our dwellings to provide respite is hugely beneficial to our wellbeing.
  2. I had the pleasure of joining thousands of other women to attend Michelle Obama's book launch event for her book, Becoming, on Nov. 13 at United Center. It was amazing! I was in awe of her story, her strength, and steadfastness to become the Michelle Obama so many of us have come to love and adore. No matter your political affiliation, you cannot deny the superpowers she displays as a daughter, wife, mom, friend and leader. A true boss! Ok, so now that I have finished gushing about Michelle Obama (can you tell I admire her just a little bit?), there was so much that I took from listening to the over two-hour conversation between her and my other hero, Oprah Winfrey. I am sure every mom felt a little bit more confident in their walk leaving the event! I know that I walked away feeling reassured by my mission as a mompreneur to inspire and enable moms to be more intentional about their self-care. One of the things that Michelle Obama shared that evening was to "push yourself up on your priority list." Sounds easy enough but yet it is so challenging for moms to do. I mean, if we push ourselves up on our to-do list, what will need to get de-prioritized? Will it be our partners? Our children? Mommy chores? It will likely be something, but we as moms have to get to a place where we are ok with it. We have to feel confident in knowing that the benefits of prioritizing "us" will far outweigh the cost of not conquering the to-do list or temporarily de-prioritizing someone else. It will be there tomorrow. I can talk to you about this until I am blue in the face. I can have your bestest girlfriends call you and tell you once a day to have some me-time. I can even ask your significant other tell you its ok to be selfish every once in a while to have a mommy break. But if you do not truly believe this yourself, it will be in vain. If you do not put mind over matter to make it happen it will not. In order to become the moms and, most importantly, the women we were destined to be, we must be more intentional about our self-care in 2019. Here are three easy things you can do: 1. Create a list of your favorite things to do. From working out to trying new restaurants to taking a walk along the lake, there are tons of different things you can do. 2. Once you make your list of favorite things, pick two things to do over the next two weeks. It can be as quick as 15 minutes or as long as a couple of hours. Write it down on the calendar. (Writing it down is important.) 3. Share your intention with at least one person. This can be a fellow mom (and if it gets her on board to join you), your significant other, or a co-worker. Ask them to check with you a couple of days before the scheduled break to make sure you are on track for still taking it. If you are successful with completing these tasks, “rinse and repeat” and try again next month. We not only owe it to Michelle Obama so that she has tangible proof that her story made an impact, but more importantly, we owe it to ourselves. I am ecstatic for 2019 and all of the awesome women we will continue to become as a result of being intentional about our self-care in 2019.

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