Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday Mantra: Make Your Actions Count

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Make Your Actions Count. Pay it forward
Recently, this little message went viral on Facebook:

To start this year off right, I'm participating in a pay-it-forward initiative: the first five people to comment on this status with "I'm in" will receive a surprise from me at some point this year- anything from a book, a ticket, something homemade, a postcard, absolutely any surprise! There will be no warning, and it will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something that I believe would suit you and make you happy. *these five people must make the same offer in their Facebook status and distribute their own joy. Copy this onto your own profile (don't share).

My reaction: YAY/Finally/THIS. IS. AWESOME!

And: Why didn't I think of this/why didn't I do this sooner/I'm an idiot!

When I first saw the movie, Pay It Forward, not only did I turn into a puddle of tears, but I also felt this sense of wonderfulness and awe at such a simple idea. Such a simple act of kindness. If you haven't seen the movie I highly suggest you do, but I'll give you a quick run down on it. In the movie, a little boy sets out to do something helpful for three people with the agreement that they then would each need to do something for another three people. Each person that helps someone must Pay It Forward to someone else. The thought is that by passing along an act of kindness to someone and then tripling it, eventually the whole world will be helping each other out.

To honor my Facebook agreement, I'm offering this up to you. 

Send an email to me at and include a short list of some of your favorite things, hobbies, etc. Maybe you like going to the movies, maybe you like rap music, or tea or poems, or pina coladas and getting caught in the rain…whatever your thing is, tell me a little about yourself so I'll have a good idea of what you might like. At random, I will pick 5 names and, over the course of this next year, I'll send each person a surprise. I'll announce the winners names in a future post and will reach out to them for addresses to mail the surprises to. Some of my best shopping is done on trips to other countries so you may even get something from one of those trips!

But of course, in return, you have to Pay It Forward. You can take the above message and copy it to your Facebook account or email a group of friends (whatever you want, whatever works for you) but you have to Pay It Forward.

I'm excited to start this Pay It Forward journey with you. Let's have fun and change the world together with our random acts of kindness.

Image via DieselSC

Monday, January 20, 2014

In the World of Wellness: Amen to Oils

Wellness is a term widely used that has multiple meanings around health and positive life style changes leading to well-being. Here we will use the term "wellness" as a means of defining a life free from disease as well as a way to explore alternative medicines, what they offer, and what this could mean for you.

Every month I'll do a post on a health and wellness related topic. This will give you a chance to explore other options, become informed, and make the best overall decision for your own well-being.

In the World of Wellness: Oils: Not just for food
Not too long ago I read this article in Cosmo and, much like the writer says about the oils, the article changed my life. I won't re-write what she said because the article is of course what inspired me to share this with all of you, but to sum it up, the author writes about her experience switching from face moisturizers to oils of all kinds.

This practice of using oil for skincare is nothing new, yet somehow it's been somewhat of a secret and has just recently grown in popularity.

While I already have more coconut oil that is humanly sane and plenty of essential oils, including the Kama Ayurveda oil I mentioned a while ago, which I still love, I hadn't really branched out from using those.Therefore, I had to go on an oil shopping spree to put her article to the full test.

I went and bought as many oils as I could find: Avocado, Apricot, Grape seed, Argan, Nighttime Baobab, Soothing Tamanu (both by Aura Cacia), and my now favorite, Seaberry by Fresh.

Ohmygoodness. How had I not done this before? Every morning and night I would try a new oil on my face and see this almost immediate glow. I stopped using my nighttime moisturize because it seemed like overkill and most days, I don't use any moisturizer during the day either. The oils (along with some sunscreen, put on prior to them) are all I need. I will note that eye cream is still essential. Getting the oils too close to the eyes tends to bring on blurry vision for the rest of the day. Not that I accidentally did that or anything.

During this time of transition from moisturizers to oils I also went and got a facial, to see if a professional would notice the difference I thought I was seeing. I will say, I'm blessed to have great skin thanks to my mom, but even with that, the last time I had a facial my skin was pretty dry and lacking luster. This time, not the case. I go to a local natural aesthetics school, SWINA, and with that you always get a student and an instructor looking at your skin. This time, both of them were blown away by how great it looked. Honestly, I've never gotten so many compliments on my skin in under 60 seconds before. And that wasn't all. Later on I heard the instructor right out my door going on and on about my face to someone else. It's clear that the ancient practice of using oils for skincare is life (and skin) changing.

If you read the Cosmo article, please note I didn't try the oils she lists at the bottom. I did try the Josie Maran argan oil she liked, but I was more impressed with Acure pure essential argan oil.

The best thing about the oils is that they last a long time because you only need a few drops. Also, I think it's important to call out some comments left on the Cosmo article. Many of the readers said they also wash their hair with oils and have other skin and body care uses that sounded pretty darn amazing.

My suggestion? Join the oil club. You will not regret it. In fact, I think you'll find your daily skincare routines to be far more exciting and luxurious.

Image via Makeup by Patricia

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday Mantra: Watch Your Words

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Watch what you say, how you say it, and who you say it to

It seems to me that people are always pointing out the flaws in life, in other people, in society. "Flaws" I hadn't noticed before. They don't realize that sometimes it's better not to see them. That not knowing is peaceful. Because when I don't see them, I don't care, I don't judge, I don't compare. I don't know I'm supposed to.

I think of a younger me. A young girl who didn't understand what cellulite or stretch marks were, what wrinkles meant to youth, or how the weight of someones body could determine if they were either beautiful or ugly. A young girl who was better off not being aware of these so called flaws and the labels of good/bad/ugly that have been attached to them.

I talked about this last week, with #14- Reshape the Future - but it's so important that I wanted to go over it one more time. 

People are impressionable, regardless of their age. What you say to someone will stick with them longer and cut them deeper than you could ever possibly imagine. Wars are fought over words, are they not? That's how powerful they are.

With awareness, compassion, and a new way of thinking, we truly can reshape the future. We can stop finding the "flaws" and start finding the beauty. We can teach the next generation of children that they are good enough. We still need to teach ourselves that, in the process. 

Let's change the world, my friends, one kind word at a time. Who's with me?

Image via Pinterest

Monday, January 6, 2014

Monday Mantra: 14 Things To Do To Change Your Life

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Change your life, change the lives of others
Sunrise at Mt. Batur
The year has begun and with it, resolutions galore. Here are 14 things you can do to make not only your life better, but the lives of others as well.

1. Be confident
Time and time again I've heard this little saying: Confidence is the sexiest thing a person can have. Guess what? It's true. It's also free of charge, requires little maintenance, and never goes out of style. Think of someone you know who exudes confidence. I image they're fun to hang out with, someone you turn to for advice, and are capable of making everyone feel comfortable because they, in turn, are comfortable in their own skin.

Be yourself and be confident in who you are.

2. Be humble
This might sounds as if it's the complete opposite of #1, but it's not. You should never have to give up your self-confidence in order to be humble. In fact, the more confident you are in yourself, the easier it is to give praise to others. Humble people appear friendlier, more approachable, and easier to interact with than those with an arrogant attitude. Besides, when was the last time you enjoyed a conversation with someone who did nothing but talk about themselves the whole time? I'm betting never.

3. Burn your candles, wear your jewelry, etc. etc. etc.
All too often when I buy something for myself or get a present from someone else I keep it safe and sound in its packaging, staring at it and loving it from afar. Why? Because I'm dumb. I worry about damaging it, as if the new scarf a friend bought me is made of glass or because that pretty bracelet my mom gave me might get banged up at some point. You'd think I was a professional wrestler or the female version of Bear Grylls, flinging myself from airplanes and scaling dangerous mountains, but no. I worry for no reason. Things will get worn out. We will get worn out. That's just life. It's a waste of having something if you don't enjoy it. Use it or give it to someone who will reap more pleasure from it than you ever did.

4. Figure out what you can contribute to the world 
Every once in a while I stumble along an article that makes me re-think myself. This one did that. What do I put into the world that makes me worthwhile to others? Read this with an open mind and think over what the author is saying. He makes a lot of sense. Then think about what skills you contribute to the world and get out there and start contributing!
6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person

5. Be a champion of good character
Character is defined as "the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual." Take a moment and think that over. Think about the qualities that are distinctive to you. Do you like them? How do your qualities make you feel? How do your qualities make others feel?

My specific point on this one is that too often it seems that we, as a whole, have lost the ability to Follow the Golden Rule, say "please" and "thank you", and show respect for others. Too many times we're in a competition to one-up someone else and that kind of an attitude makes us lose sight of what matters. A true test of someones character, in my opinion, is how they treat the wait staff at restaurants.  If there isn't a thank you after they fill the water glass or check on the meal or do any damn thing for you, I question their attitude of gratitude. Namely, that they don't have one. Don't be one of those people. Be grateful, be polite, set the example for others.

6. Have daily adventures
Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, found in her research that doing new things makes you feel happier than sticking with the old, familiar, comfortable things. Changes can be small, like going for a walk somewhere new or trying our a new restaurant. Sounds like fun, right? Fun always generates happy feelings. So shake up your routine. Try something new. Have small daily adventures that lead you to happiness.

7. Fail daily
When did we decide failing was a bad thing? I assume long ago, when someone with a lack of awareness in this area told us we were awful or terrible and that we should quit while we're ahead, all because we failed. They, my friends, were wrong. A long time ago I read The Geography of Bliss, in which the author seeks to understand what makes different nations of people happy. My favorite part of the book is where he goes to Iceland, a country that is dark 6 months of the year, yet incredibly happy. Of the many possibilities why, my favorite is this: they don't think failing is a bad thing. In Iceland it's common for people to have many careers throughout their lives. How else will they find out what they're meant to be, if not by trying out different things until they find the one that suits them? All of this trying, of course, means a lot of failing too.

Failing teaches us what to do next, what not to do, and how to get back up after we fall down. It makes us stronger, more dedicated, and far more wiser. Imagine if our parents had never let us try walking again when we were infants, simply because we failed at it the first time. We'd all be a bunch of ridiculous looking adults, crawling around on the floor right now.

Failing is not the problem. It's the way we view failing that is, as if it's some sort of an epidemic that needs to be stopped. We learn best when we try and when we try we generally fail oh, a few thousand times, until we finally get it right.

Please fail daily. And by that I mean keep trying. Never give up. Try something new and keep going, no matter how hard or how long it takes. Please, please, for the love of everything, fail.

8. Let go once and for all
Holding on to past grudges, to wrongs that have been done to you, to anything at all that is a negative in your life is a waste of your precious time. Every time you bring up an old wound, you bring it into the present. You re-feel the feelings and once again send yourself down that rabbit hole of could've/should've/would've/why?

Knock it off.

Let go of the things that no longer serve you.

9. Define your life
I ran across this article on Elephant the other day and, even though I'm a few weeks late, I still love the idea. Pick one word that sums up 2013 for you. Why did you pick it? What does that word mean to you?

Then pick one word for how you want your 2014 to look. Write this word down and post it where you'll see it every day to help you remember why you selected it and how you can make that word come to life this year.

10. Become a mentally strong person
We can all benefit from being a little more strong, and not just physically. Forbes recently released an article called Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Avoid. According to this list, mentally strong people don't complain very often, they don't waste time feeling sorry for themselves, and they don't make the same mistakes. Read it, apply it, strengthen your mental state.

11. Stop the drama
One of my favorite lines ever is from The Help in which, at the end of the movie after Hilly Holbrook stirs up more lies and more drama, Aibileen Clark says, "Ain't you tired Miss Hilly? Ain't you tired?" I love everything about that simple statement- aren't you tired of of all the lies, of all the terrible things you do?

We are all tired of it. From everyone.

Drama is stupid. It's not fun, it's not cool, and it makes you look like a cold-hearted fool. It is pointless. The only good drama is that which is in a movie and that is where it should stay.

Give. It. Up.

12. Don't let the Debbie Downers get you down
You know that friend/co-worker/family member that is constantly complaining about something? It's time to cut them loose. There is no reason at all to put up with their naysaying ways. They will suck the life right out of you and cause you more good than bad. Be done with them.

13. Do something for someone other than yourself
There's not a lot I need to say here because this little picture sums it up nicely.

14. Reshape the future
Last, but certainly not least, read this article (When Your Mother Says She's Fat) and pass it along to every single person you know.

It's our responsibility as human beings to shape this world properly. Every person out there, especially mothers and teachers and people of influence, has a chance to reshape the world.

People are always pointing out the flaws in life, in themselves, in other people. As a child I remember being told what cellulite and stretch marks were and, having never heard of these things before, I had no perception of them, good or bad, until I was told they were awful, terrible, horrible things to have and that if you had them, well then you had a problem.

It is beyond time to stop the self hate. Hasn't it been long enough? Ain't you tired everyone? Ain't you tired?!


Image 2 via Pinterest