The Sunday Bath

The Sunday Bath

I originally wrote this on December 15 — on paper! In a beautiful new notebook! And I decided to share it here, now.

Six and a half years ago, my friend Abby Bales gave me an inflatable bath pillow from The Body Shop. It was part of an incredibly thoughtful care package she sent during a very sick, very sad time in my life.

One and a half years ago, during a pep talk phone call from my friend Chris Heuisler, he suggested I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I hit “Buy Now” on Amazon before we even hung up our phones.

Three days ago, my friend and physical therapist Brynn Fissette told me the reason my body aches and feels like it’s rapidly deteriorating is because I’m riddled with stress. I’m carrying that stress everywhere. In my posture. My ribs are blown out. My shoulders may as well be earrings. And, she explained, it all comes back to breathing. Apparently I’m not doing it right. I’m holding my breath in instead of letting it out. A metaphor for life, no doubt.

Yesterday, while furiously running holiday errands on a rainy, traffic-riddled Saturday, I decided to treat myself. To my basket at Indigo filled with thoughtful treats for my loved ones, I added a bright white, long-sleeved, knee-length waffle robe. The robe of my dreams. “F*ck it,” I told myself indignantly. “I deserve this!”

By Sunday, my shoulders were back in their normal state: high as a turtleneck. I was irritable, stressed, bordering on manic. After putting Annie to bed at 7:08 PM, I half-jokingly asked Brian if he wanted to draw me a bath. “Really?,” he asked. I somewhat meekly answered, “kind of.”

Brian practically ran to the bathroom and started the water. Maybe he, too, thought I deserved this. More likely, he’d do anything to get me to chill out, to get me out of his hair and off his back for a bit. To get some peace for himself.

Twenty or so minutes later, Brian came to the bedroom to get me. “Your bath is ready,” he whispered, as he led me down the hall.

The lights in the bathroom were off. The room was filled with candles. Some version of “Alexa, play spa music” played. There were bubbles. A sheet mask. (“Calming,” the package read.) A glass of ice water with a slice of orange. A salt scrub. (“Invigorating,” that one read. Contradictory, with the “calming” face mask, but I’m a sucker for anything peppermint scented, and appreciated the way he’d raided my bathroom cabinets for anything that might help me.)

In the tub: Abby’s pillow.

Perched on the side of the tub: Big Magic.

And hanging on the door, my new robe.

All opened for the first time.

The Sunday Bath

Brian shut the door and I took a deep breath. It wasn’t going to be a productive Sunday night. I wasn’t going to prep for Monday morning. The kitchen sink would remain filled with dirty dishes until the next day. And I was going to get in.

I have no idea how long I was in there. Roughly 43 pages long. Prune-y toes long. Long enough to fully, deeply, finally relax.

Eventually, after a luxurious experience with the invigorating salt scrub, I drained the tub. Dried off. Put on my new robe. (Heavenly, which is not a word I ever use. But that was $98 well spent.) And I blew out the candles.

I practically floated down the hall back toward the bedroom, smiling contently.

“You look relaxed,” Brian told me. He seemed both proud of himself for facilitating my newfound state of giddiness, and relieved that it worked.

“I am,” I said, for the first time in the longest time I can remember. And I meant it.

The Sunday Bath
Quality photos, as always!

And now, The Sunday Bath is a thing. Despite a lifelong resistance to ask for help when I need or want it, or to rely on others in pretty much any scenario, I asked Brian if he would do that every Sunday. Sure, I could do that all myself. But there’s something so much more indulgent about someone else finding the perfect water temperature, lighting the candles, and crafting the fruit-infused water.

One of my goals for 2020 is to do more to set myself up for success. To start, I’ve turned off all notifications on my phone and set screen time limits for each day. And if choosing indulgence over chores on a Sunday evening means a happier, more productive and pleasant Ali, I’m all for it.

I’m looking forward to writing more in 2020. I don’t know yet what that will look like — how often it’ll be, how committed I’ll be — but I’m happy to be back here in the space I created 10 years ago. (!!!) And I’m so happy you’re here, too.



36 Responses

  1. Did you cry when he did that? I almost cried for you…so sweet. Thanks for taking care of yourself, it helps others follow your lead 🙂

  2. I’m bad about commenting on blogs but felt I needed to. Years ago, when I was in a job that had gone toxic and with a nightmare boss, I started spending all weekend dreading Monday and it ruined my weekends. My boyfriend (now husband) convinced me to start a Sunday night ritual (bath, special bath bomb, magazine) and the ritual lasted long after the bad job ended. Sometimes my beloved German Shepherd would lay on the bathroom floor next to me even though she hates baths…it felt annoying at the time but we lost her 6 months ago and I’m glad I shared those times with her. My life has changed: we moved out of the city, we built a house, we have a 9 month old baby, I still run but not marathons anymore but I’ve got a LOT of stress in my life right now (my infant niece has brain cancer, my husband is being laid off, being a mom is the best thing ever but it’s stressful too) and I think it’s time to restart the ritual I ended when I was so pregnant that it wasn’t fun anymore. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. I read this post and immediately put a standing date called “Sunday Bath” on my calendar. I’m all about finding ways to nourish myself this year!

  4. Happy to have you back to writing! A great post and reminder to take time for ourselves. We get so caught up with making sure everyone else is happy that we forget about ourselves. 2020 goal for me is to do more for ME!

  5. Good for you! Too much stress is damaging on all levels and while you think you are productive by always being efficient and doing things, you really aren’t. Relaxing should be part of our day just like exercise or taking a shower. I struggle w constant doing and having to be efficient as well, but have gotten so much better over the years. It’s especially hard w a little one (mine is now 14, but I remember the days when mine was little- in some ways it gets easier, in others it doesn’t). Keep at it and I will be cheering for you here! Happy new year!

  6. Excellent! Glad that you are back writing. Turning off phone notifications is a life changer. I did that 1.5 years ago and it helps SO much. I only get text message notifications on my phone.

  7. I love this! It’s real writing, it’s what blogs are missing nowadays. Everyone is all buy this, swipe up that.. but remember how this all started, the live journal days! Bring back more writing, it’s wonderful.

    From another girl who loves to write!

  8. I aways enjoy reading your writing and I hope I can take this to heart so, at least for a little while, my shoulders will not be earrings!

    1. Thank you for reading, and sending so much love to you and to all of Australia. We are all thinking of your beautiful country during these horrible fires.

  9. Such a good reminder! And so well written!!!

    Thanks for sharing and I am so excited you are back to blogging!

  10. I’m so happy the blog is back! I’ve missed it! And, super happy you are letting yourself find some zen, we all need it…

  11. This brought me to (Happy)tears. We have babies about the same age (11/5) and I’ve followed your struggles and success as they have mirrored my own journey navigating motherhood. I’ve never thought to ask my husband to draw a bath, but I think I will now. I’m so very glad you’re back here, whatever it ends up looking like!

  12. Self care is sooo important. You can’t pour from and empty cup 🙂 Good for you and for Brian to help! Glad you are blogging again!

  13. I love this and definitely need to do it more often. I went to the chiropractor earlier today because my back has been bothering me for weeks, she commented and how tense my shoulders and neck were. I’m sure a big part of my back pain is stress-related, and it’s hard to know how to deal when you’re a mom and wife, etc and there is always more to be done. May just have to skip the dishes tonight and take a bath!

    1. Take the bath! Your chiropractor would want you to take the bath, and so do I! And you’re so right that there is always more to be done. But I’m starting to remind myself that there will never NOT be more to be done, right? It’s easy to get into robot-mode and just go go go, and it’s hard to break from that cycle. But take the bath!

  14. Good work!! (Yes, sometimes relaxing is work) it’s hard to take the time and not do the Sunday night prep. But I’m glad you were able to get a bath!

  15. This sounds so nice! Such a good reminder to all the busy women out there.
    Excited to read your blog again! I really enjoy your writing 🙂

    1. I woke up to a sink full of dirty dishes and guess what? It wasn’t that big of a deal! Need to remind myself of that constantly. That the little household things I stress over aren’t THAT big of a deal! Annoying? Sure. But I’ll take the bath, please!

  16. This made me tear up. I am so glad you shared. I love that Brian so enthusiastically took care of your bath, but more importantly, that you let him. I am very happy you are back to sharing your writing with all of us!

    1. I think he was enthusiastic because it meant I would be behind closed doors for a while! Haha. Either way, it worked out great for both of us! And I am grateful!

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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