(Living Well With)
Artist Cleo Wade's Wellness Routine Includes This Non-Negotiable Practice
If you’re not already familiar with poet, author, artist, and activist Cleo Wade — who’s been referred to as “the Millennial Oprah” — you’re about to be. Over the last five years alone, she’s done countless artistic and activist projects that promote self-care and harmony, from four published books of poetry and illustrations to 10-word “love” mantras on 46-foot screens in L.A. to a public booth titled “Are You OK?” in L.A. and New York City, where Wade encouraged “free, peaceful, and loving conversation.”
As it happens, the activist’s artistic roots run deep. “I've always felt creative and I went to poetry summer camp as a child, which is a funky thing,” says Wade to TZR. “But I mostly have been inspired by people and their lives. More and more, I write more about my own life, but I think that for a long time, I am probably that annoying person that asks you a million questions if we're sitting at a communal table in a restaurant. And I've made a friend in every airport I've ever been in.”
Wade explains that at the core of her work is her deep interest and love for the human experience. “I think that although it doesn't always seem that way, we live in a world of so much goodness, and have these beautiful, miraculous things happening all the time,” she says. “And so I feel lucky that what I'm inspired by, there's an endless well of it.”
In fact, Wade’s latest venture is spreading her message of love and acceptance in a fresh way. In her recent holiday collaboration with Burt’s Bees, the activist’s illustrations and uplifting affirmations are splashed on the beauty label’s best-selling products. For instance, one of the limited-edition lip balms reads “Take Care” while another encourages you to “Stay Weird.” Self-care and self-love are always at the forefront with Wade, and she’d have it no other way.
Ahead, Wade expands on her own self-care journey, revealing her wellness routine and the products and practices that keep her inspired and confident.
Do you employ certain self-care practices, particularly during the holidays?
I think one way to practice self-care is to be with people you love, and who love you, and have time to connect with them. I think also doing things that take five minutes, 15 minutes, two minutes, is really important. And then there's the self-care where you can blend it. You can do a face mask with your best friend over the holidays, and have a glass of wine, and catch up on your lives, and make that your little Happy Hour. I'm a big fan of letting self-care look however it needs to so you can get it in.
When you wake up, what is the first thing you do?
Well, the biggest trick is to wake up before your kids. I do meditate every day and I'm very horrible at it — I just think of random sh*t the whole time, but I do it. And sometimes I do it in the morning, sometimes I don't. But I think that whether you can meditate, or you can't, have at least five or 10 minutes to yourself to only be in your own energy to start the day.
Whether you create a ritual around that, like pouring your tea, getting the water boiling in the kettle, and just taking that time to yourself, even if it's only 10 minutes, I think starting the day without somebody else's needs [in mind] is one of the best things you can do for yourself as a parent and a person.
What do you do to treat yourself?
I think creating space to be an adult is a treat as a parent. Whether that's getting dressed and getting yourself together to have a date night or going out with your friends, just those moments where you get to return to yourself. Being a mother, being a parent, is a 24-hour job — you can't do anything well 24 hours a day. And so just taking those moments, whether you want to frame them as a treat or not, to just remove yourself from that role — without guilt, because it does help you and feed you — is so helpful.
And your motherhood is only really as powerful as your personhood. I think sometimes if I just put some product in my hair, and put some tinted lip balm on, pinch my cheeks a little, and leave the house for a dinner, that feels like a nice treat.
Do you have a secret weapon when you want to look and feel good?
I think the thing that I use in the most varied ways is the [Burt’s Bees] lip balm [shimmer] because you can tap it on your cheekbones or underneath your eyebrows and over the bridge of your nose to give yourself a little extra moisture or highlighter, in a way.
I truly can't even tell you how amazing the fig [shade] is. It just brings life back to your face. I don't even know if you're supposed to do this, but I'll put it on my cheeks a little bit, too. One of the tricks one of my makeup artists taught me once was when you're wearing the lipstick, also mix that color in with your blush so it all goes together. And so in my day-to-dayness, I always remember that, and I'll use my tinted lip balm, and then I'll put it on my cheeks a little bit if I need to leave the house.
What is one thing that you cannot live without?
Sleep. I think sleep is probably in the top three most important things you could put in your beauty routine. I think it's the most important thing you could put in your work routine, your parenting routine. I think that when we're tired and exhausted, it's really hard to access resiliency, and it's really hard to access hope and optimism.
And so I've always said that self-care is actually a part of being better at being in the world — because when you are, even at the very least, rested, you just have the energy to help other people and help solve problems. And then, beyond that, I'll say that with most beauty things — whether it's dry skin, or zits, or whatever it is — sleep will infinitely help all those things.
Do you have a favorite workout or wellness practice you do?
I really wish I did. I just haven't gone there yet — I had two kids so close to each other. But I walk a ton. I very gratefully live around a lot of nature in California, and so I go on a walk every single day. And that just is the exercise that also gives me the most peace of mind. My partner Simon and I take a walk together most days right before we start putting the kids to bed, and then I'll do a walk with my kids a couple times a week, too, but those are usually bonus walks. I also go on walks with my neighbors. I'll go on a walk with anyone.
What is the best piece of relationship advice you've ever gotten?
My advice would probably be don't try to find your lifelong mate.
Any spiritual text will tell you to take it one day at a time and really be open to change — changing yourself and changing your whole life. I think when you're open to that, you can watch your whole life change in a year.
Go out into the world as happy as you can possibly be, so you can deal with, and move through, whatever is blocking your own joy and happiness. I think that the people who are attracted to you when you're at your most joyful are usually the keepers. So I'd say that diving into your own joy, and being open to a relationship, will usually yield a relationship that, at the very least, feels really good — no matter how long it lasts.
What is one thing you would go back and tell your younger self?
Whenever someone asks me this question, I always have to think about what my younger self could hear, because that's the hardest part. We like to think that our younger selves are mini versions of our older selves, so they'll listen to whatever it is you say to them as if you're some wise person giving them advice.
But I think I would tell my younger self to try — try anything. Because I think the fear that stops us from trying holds us back from getting to where we want to go, or from getting there at the pace we want to get there. So I think: Just try.