Chani Nicholas Falls Asleep to Whipped Cream and Cricket Sounds | Healthyish

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In Going to Bed with…, we talk to the people we’re crushing on about how they wind down before going to sleep.

Chani Nicholas was only 12 years old when she got her first astrology reading. “I felt like the woman reading my chart was speaking a language I knew but had never heard before,” says the Los Angeles-based astrologist, now 42. “I’ve been learning about astrology ever since.”

Today, reading your horoscope is less about flipping to the back pages of glossy magazines in search of insight into your crush and more about joke memes and discussions about how your sign will affect your mental health in any given month. In this trendy, online cosmic playground, Nicholas has taken astrology in an even new direction, using horoscopes as a call to action for social justice and compassion.

“To me everything, every occupation, every interaction is a call to love, which is justice. Socially, if we aren’t trying to create spaces where love, and therefore justice, can occur we are doing the opposite. And we don’t need anymore hate, intolerance, or injustice here.”

Chani Nicholas’s horoscopes have celebrated the appointment of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other women in Congress and called on readers to support transgender communities. She also believes in making astrology accessible beyond the internet, providing free or low-cost readings and workshops for people who need support but may not have the means. “Art and care should be part of our everyday lives, accessible, and integrated into all we do,” she says.

This belief in uplifting community is a family affair. Her wife, Sonya Passi, runs FreeFrom, which works to make safety affordable for all survivors of domestic violence so that they can build lives free from violence for themselves and their children. Later this year, HarperCollins will publish Nicholas’ book, You Were Born for This: Astrology for Radical Self-Acceptance and Living Your Purpose, on how people can understand their life purpose through an astrological lens. Besides working on the book, Nicholas still posts horoscopes and calls to action daily. Here’s what she does when she gets some much-needed down time.

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Photo by Graham Walzer

Nicholas’ truly balanced skincare routine.

Pillow Talk

My wife and I usually have a long talk before bed. It’s relaxing to sort through the day with each other, making sure that we have some quality time to connect once the business of the day has passed. If something is bothering one of us, we’ll generally stay up until it’s sorted through as much as possible. We also tend to wake up and talk about the dreams that we had the night before if we have time. I feel like sleep and dreaming is such an important place to process the events of our waking lives. We both have a very active dream life and are constantly referring to them as the events of the day unfold.

Netflix and Popcorn

When I’ve had a hard day I watch The Great British Baking Show on Netflix until it asks me “Are you still watching?” When my wife leaves for long stretches of time I usually lose my will to eat a grown-up dinner and instead have popcorn with butter and Spike seasoning salt. When she’s gone, I also lose all sense of an appropriate bedtime and end up watching too many Beyoncé clips on Instagram. If I’m really wound-up, I end up making memes, most of which are too bad to see the light of day. My go-to comfort food is whipped cream. If I’m run down and ragged I need fat. Lots of it. I could probably live on English trifle.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

My pre-bedtime skin routine is a must. In my twenties I never paid much attention to what my skin needed but now I feel like a desert monster if I don’t hydrate. I use Coconut and Rose soap to wash my face, Rose Hydrating Mist to hydrate it and Pure Passion to moisturize. If I’m stressed I’ll put on Keep Calm. All products are handmade, completely natural, and made by entrepreneurs at Gifted by FreeFrom.

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Photo by Graham Walzer

The colorful bookshelves that line Nicholas’ L.A. home.

The Reading List

If I’ve got the head space, I’ll read before bed. Right now I’ve got a bunch of books going. If They Come For Us by Fatima Asghar, Decolonizing Wealth by Edgar Villanueva, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, and Bright Lines by Tanwi Nandini Islam.

Hypnosis by Crickets

I’ve recently started to not eat after 6 or 7 p.m., and I feel like it’s helping me to transition from my day to night routines. There’s less work for my body if I stop eating before I sleep and I’m a big night snacker so it’s been a big change for me. I drink a lot of water after I stop eating and take magnesium and melatonin before bed. I’m super sensitive to sound so we put on “Crickets by the Ocean” by Cricket Sounds on repeat to drown out some of the city noise and generally signal to our bodies that it is time to wind down. It’s kind of like hypnotizing ourselves.

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Hilton Dresden Eats Tuna Melts in Bed and Sketches to Fall Asleep | Healthyish

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In ‘Going to Bed with…‘ we talk to the people we’re crushing on about how they wind down before going to sleep.

Hilton Dresden knows a thing or two about building their own path. The artist embodies a gender identity that thrives in ambiguity and refuses labeling, and their signature nimbus of curls, deadpan humor, and wonky illustrations of “people and animals with weird faces and weird outfits” have moved front and center in the last few years. Two summers ago, Dresden created and starred in the comedy web series “5 Things with Hilton Dresden,” produced by Out Magazine. More recently, they designed the illustrations for Nicopanda’s spring ’19 capsule tee collection and hosted a number of enjoyably offbeat red carpet interviews for Out (their Call Me By Your Name red carpet coverage is chef’s kiss a delight).

When it comes time to reboot and recharge, Dresden looks to their friends and being present in the moment. “I’m a pretty extroverted person so hanging out with friends, having a drink, commiserating, and talking it out with people is probably the most healing thing for me. I’m always in my head thinking about why I shouldn’t be happy or don’t deserve to feel good, and I know so many people struggle with that as well. I’m here today to say, ‘Fuck that. I’m going to have fun.’”

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Photo by Emma Fishman

Dresden soaking up the sun.

When we talked, the Trump administration had just announced a proposal to define “transgender” out of existence. Dresden called the move an “attack on the trans and gender non-conforming communities” that must be fought against. In times likes these, a solid night of rest can be both more imperative and harder to come by. We caught up with Dresden to see how they’re handling the stressful days and restless nights.

All good nights start with Sex and the City

I don’t have a plan for each night or a certain skin mask I’ll do, but when I get home, I like to watch some Sex and the City in bed while eating chips and salsa. I’m a Carrie. I know a lot of people think they’re a Carrie, but I’m actually a Carrie. If you just look at the facts, you’ll see. I have the hair and the insanity and the sort of lack of self-awareness. And I’m a writer, and I dress crazy. There are definite Miranda undertones too.

An essential bed tray

I have this tray I bought at Ikea that lets me eat my meals in bed without as many crumbs and spills. I was certainly eating most meals in bed before, but now, with the tray, my hygiene has marginally improved.

Curly hair maintenance plan

My hair is a very wild creature, so I probably get it wet like twice a week, or once a week even, because it’s so curly and I don’t want to over do it on the curls. I recently got this new conditioner from DevaCurl after visiting their salon in New York. It’s a silicone and sulfate-free conditioner, and it was way too expensive, and I won’t be buying it again after I use up the bottle, but it’s been working great. I’ll sometimes do a mask and wrap my hair in a grocery bag. After I shower I scrounge in a lot of leave-in conditioner and sometimes coconut oil and different oils to help it stay hydrated. Aside from that, I just let it do its thing for the rest of the week. I really don’t know what I’m doing in any aspect of my life, especially haircare.

Beer, wine, or a tuna melt?

I love alcohol. I love to indulge in some beer or wine before bed if I have it. As I mentioned, I love chips and dip, so if I have that around I’ll definitely pull it out. But I don’t usually have that many groceries in my house because I don’t make it to the grocery store as much as I should. Sometimes I have to go out to the deli and get a tuna melt.

A small bit of election joy

I’m grateful that Democrats have taken back the House, and that Wisconsin (my home state) voted out the scum that is Scott Walker. We still have a lot of work to do, but I’m hopeful that things can get better, because they’re so bad right now. I’m also grateful to be working on a new web show, “Hilton Dresden Wants A Show,” with my best friend and collaborator Talia Heller. Look out for it on cakeboymag.com!

Will doodle for sleep

Throughout my life I’ve dealt with insomnia and had a hard time falling asleep. I’ve always found that drawing and doodling in bed while watching TV is the best way for me to calm down. Reading is also really helpful. TV does not really help a person fall asleep. I’m sure the screen is bad for that or something. I’d like to stop rewatching The Office until 2:30 a.m. every night. I think that might help me get off to a better start in the mornings. I just read If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin and that was really good. And I read Big Little Lies kind of recently, after I saw the show. The show was my favorite thing ever. The book is very, very good too.

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