Sunday, May 25, 2014

Monday Mantra: That's How The Light Gets In

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: There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in.

"The hardest thing in the world is to live in it." - Buffy Summers

Sometimes I think the world is too broken to be repaired. Sometimes I think there's no hope. Sometimes, when I feel broken, these are the things I play over in my mind.

One thing that always pulls me back to my home base of hope and happiness is wonderment and the belief that there is more than what I see or know. In those moments I go outside, look up at the sky, and run through a fantasy list of "what ifs." What if I had super powers, what if there is another me on another planet, but with a different life, what if, what if? As crazy as that sounds, it always leads me to think about the things I do know to be true that are so mind blowing they, too, almost seem impossible.

For example, the human body is the most perfect, amazing, fantastic machine ever created. It is designed to function with our surroundings so that air from the trees and plants from the earth give us what we need to survive. It is so perfectly planned that I cannot help but marvel at the genius behind it. I've never dreamed or created anything as fantastical as this. I can't even imagine where I would begin just to try and match it. Even when we neglect or damage these perfect machines, they keep trying beyond all comprehensible thought to thrive, to survive. 

Or when I look at my little dog, so full of emotion and love and beauty, I can't help but wonder. We are two completely different beings. The only language we share is love and yet somehow that is enough. 

Or like this research by Dr. Masaru Emoto that shows how water reacts to different songs being played, different prayers being chanted, and different photographs being shown to it. Water. Water reacts differently to different things. And since we're mostly made up of water, that makes this research all the more fascinating.  Studies that show how our tears of joy are completely different than our tears of happiness. Think about that for a moment. Without these other raw emotions, everything in-between happy and sad, our tears would look the same. This, then, wouldn't seem that impressive at all. And the tears of grief…how exact. They resemble a barren wasteland where nothing, not even hope, can live.

Because of things like this, it's impossible for me to imagine that nothing else exists beyond us, beyond this place, beyond what we think we know. Beyond our sometimes broken promises and broken dreams. I need those moments that make me hope with all the might of my heart that there is more to everything than I understand. Only in those moments of wonder do I feel, ironically, certain.

I go outside, look up at the sky, and realize how breathtakingly magical this world is. Made even more beautiful by it's broken pieces and us, our sometimes broken selves.

I can't help but wonder if, at some point, everything must break to let the light of discovering the impossible in.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Monday Mantra: Satisfaction

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: Action is the way

Society 6
I always thought the mark of being an adult could be acquired with one swift move. Something so accurate that, once done, I would feel it hit my bones and grab my soul and poof - I would officially be an adult. I would be the thing I had been trying to be my whole, little kid life.

I thought the key to this was in the simple purchase of a tape measure. I had seen my mother, my grandparents, and all of their friends with it and, in my mind, it was an absolute necessity to being a real, legit grown up. It was one of the very first things I bought for my apartment to solidify my adult status.

"There," I thought. "Now I am officially an adult. Now I've got it all together, I've got everything I need, it's all figured out, I will be satisfied."

But I am never satisfied.

Nothing is ever that simple.

Nothing is ever enough.

Every time I reach a goal that I've set for myself, I immediately turn around and set my sights on a new challenge, another thing to be/do/accomplish, and I'm right back where I started. Ground zero.

This is both a blessing and a curse. It drives me to work harder, try new things, and never settle, never give up. But it's also the reason I alternate between being a blonde, a brunette (and most recently, a redhead) and why I go to school forever and ever, learning everything from architecture to medicine. I am never satisfied.

Because of this, of me being me, I've decided the only way to any satisfaction is hidden in the word itself. I must take action to find satisfaction. And when I've lost it, once again as I always do and always will, I must take new actions. It must be a wheel, ever turning, of yearning to grow, planting the seeds, reaching my goal...and starting all over again.

Action is the way.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Monday Mantra: Wrong

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: Just…stop
For a long time I thought about writing something about religion on here, but I try to be very cautious with this hot topic item because it really, truly makes people go crazy. Like, freak-out-and-yell-at-you-because-you-don't-believe-what-they-believe kind of crazy. I don't like crazy. Crazy is exhausting. But I had an assisted epiphany this weekend and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. Thus, this post.

When I was a little girl I went to worship service every Sunday, thought of my church as one of the happiest, funnest, best places to spend my time, and said my prayers nightly. I even made a promise to God that I would never be one of those adults who forgot to say their prayers each night. 

When I was a teenager I slept in and missed some services, I felt less and less comfortable at church, and I completely forgot about my prayer promise to God. I would pray occasionally, but it was usually only when I needed something.

In my early 20's I suddenly remembered my promise and it bothered me greatly that I had broken it for so long. I also realized that I didn't need a building to worship in. I could do that anywhere, any time, any way I wanted. Now, I pray every single night - when I need guidance and when I'm just grateful for my awesome life. I go to church when I go home and visit my mom, but church doesn't mean anything specific to me anymore. I stopped believing everything that was being shoved down my throat and I started believing what made sense and felt inherently right to me. I've never felt closer to the God I believe in and I feel like I have an amazing relationship with my God, but because I'm not a text-book believer I'm constantly being told how wrong I am. 

Wrong because I don't think homosexuals are or should be going to hell because they have a different sexual preference. Wrong because I don't think it's wrong to live with your significant other before you're married. Wrong because I don't necessarily think the Bible is the end-all, be-all of everything because I wasn't around a kajillion years ago when it was written and I don't know if it's been interpreted correctly, if it's real, if it's stories, or if it's a bunch of tests meant to make us really think and half of us are failing them because we don't actually get the message trying to be delivered. 

I'm wrong because I freely admit that I don't know. 

I'm wrong because I don't know what God looks like or if God is a person, a universe, or the Wizard of Oz. Wrong because I believe in a God that is kind, loving, and compassionate and understands that being a person is absolutely the hardest thing in the world to do. I am wrong because I don't stand up and agree 100% with something that can't be proven. I am wrong because I admit to the idea that I could be wrong in what I believe, even if it feels right to me. 

When I get told how wrong I am and how my soul is in danger, I like to remind people of all of the other things that I very clearly have not done wrong in life. For example, I'm not a serial killer. Pretty sure that's a big win right there.  I've never touched a drug in my life, I don't lie, steal, or cheat. I don't torture animals and I don't take candy from babies. I'm financially independent, I pay my taxes on time, I have never stopped pursuing knowledge, I donate to charities, I hate Monsanto (uh, this should count as extra special bonus points), and I usually, mostly, almost always drive the speed limit. Ultimately, even though I fail at this all the time, I am in a constant state of trying to be a good, kind, open-minded person who loves and respects everyone. 

But apparently, none of that matters because my boyfriend and I are buying a house together, and *gasp* will be living in it - together! And we're not married! Everyone should start wearing black around me because hell is right around the corner, or so I'm told.

Here's my frustration, if you haven't already picked up on it.

I really, truly don't care what other people believe in. If you're Atheist and happy, I'm happy for you. If you're a Catholic-Hindu-Hippie and happy with that, I'm happy for you. It is completely beyond my interest to judge you on what you believe in. In turn, I very much expect this same respect back. I don't want what someone else believes to be pushed and shoved and forced at me every 5 seconds. When that happens, I believe you less. I think you are the one who is unsure. I think you are actually quite afraid. Afraid that you might be wrong, afraid that there's more to all of this than you think, afraid that you can't control me. 

One more time, in case you missed it.
You. Can't. Control. Me. 
Or anyone. You absolutely, positively, cannot force someone to believe what you believe.

The harder you shove anything at someone, the more they'll go the opposite direction. I'm positive this has been proven 41,738,362 times and yet there are people out there who do it daily. Find a new hobby, people. This one is dead.

I'll bet you $10 right now that I'm going to be told my Burn in Hell chances just increased because I wrote this post. 

I'll be Googling flame retardant clothing if you need me. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

In the World of Wellness: Summertime Skin Health

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: Protect what you have control over

Question: What is the largest organ of the body?
Answer: Your skin

Most people get that one wrong.

I wrote this post a couple of years ago, but with summer creeping up on us I thought it was beneficial to dust it off, update it a bit, and share again.

Skin Health: What You Need to Know NOW

Ever since I was a little girl I thought it was odd how people thought the sun caused cancer. The sun that helps flowers blossom, vegetables and fruit grow, gives us the tans we all so dearly strive for (which, in turn, supplies us with much needed vitamin D). The sun that we all look forward to, to come out and melt the snow and heat up our pools and lakes so we can go swimming. I never understood this fear of the sun. Especially since I love it. I love its warmth, the way it makes me feel tingly and heats my skin up when I'm outside. There is nothing I don't like about the sun.

My whole life I have doubted the sun and cancer theory. One day school I got the answers to this problem that plagued me. It's not the sun after all. Nope. Not the sun. In fact, it's actually us and the decisions we make without even realizing it.

Let me explain.

Your skin is the largest organ of your body. That means when you put anything on your skin, anything at all, it hits everything internally and all parts of you. Ever heard of those patches to help control smoking or that help you not get pregnant? When you really think about it you're putting a band-aid like object on a tiny section of your whole body and that small object somehow magically works exactly the way it should for whatever specific bodily function it's supposed to. One tiny square is all it takes for your whole body to respond. Interesting, right?

Now think about this: Every day you put on cologne/perfume, lotion/after shave, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, makeup/moisturizer, deodorant, sunscreen, etc. How many ingredients can you pronounce on all the labels? How many are even listed sometimes? And what exactly do they all do? Well, let me tell you my friends, those ingredients you can't pronounce cause cancer and all kinds of other diseases. I know that's tough to swallow.

Here's how it works:

You put on multiple products each day that all affect the largest organ of your body, thus affecting the rest of you. These products are full of chemicals. Full of them. Then you go out into the sun. The sun, doing it's job of heating things up, heats up these chemicals on your body and these chemicals start to react.

Heat + chemicals = badness and are only good when used in a science lab for experiments, not on your body. This is where the bad news comes in.

Day after day, month after month, year after year of doing this will hurt you in one way or another. There's actually a website that lists all the chemical names and what they do to you. That's right ladies and gentleman, once again there is something out there that would be helpful for all of us to know but no one ever told us because they wouldn't make any money off their products if we knew. Sad, but true.

You might think you only use a little bit of each product, so no big deal. Not exactly. You see, it's like the patch example. Even a small amount has big impacts.

Think of it like this: Let's say you wake up and shower with body wash, wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner, and then put lotion on. Let's say you only use a quarter size amount, which we will call 10% for each item that you use. So right off the bat you're at a 40% rate of chemical use on your skin, again, the largest organ of your body. Then, you put on perfume/cologne, moisturizer, chapstick, and deodorant. Now you're at an 80% chemical use rate. Then you put on some sunscreen (I'll get to this in a second), maybe you need gel/hairspray, and maybe you're like me and you have an addiction to body spray from Victoria's Secret. I know, it's amazing stuff. I had to give that up, too. Anyway, now you're over a 100% rate of chemical use, not to mention the reapplying you do throughout the day. So in any given day you are putting excessive amounts of toxins on and in your body. Scary thought.

Personally,I went home, sorted through my cabinets, and threw everything out. Everything. I went to my local health stores and bought everything I needed to replace those old items with new, organic and chemical free ones. Good news - the switch over is pretty easy. It's a one day task of trashing the bad and buying the good. Once you've done that, it's easy from there on out.

As for the sunscreen issue, you probably also don't know that most sunscreens are bogus. Ever been in the sun with sunscreen on and still gotten burned? That's because there was nothing effective actually in your sunscreen. It's easier and cheaper to make bogus products, so they do.

More Q&A time. I know you're excited, don't try to hide it.

Q: Bogus products are full of what?
A: Chemicals.
Q: That do what?
A: Heat up in the sun.

Uh oh.

Sunscreen, the thing that's supposed to protect us, ends up hurting us. When I switched over to a new sunscreen I never had a problem again. I live by the Alba brand, but only certain varieties of it. Not once have I gotten a sunburn of any kind since the switch. Keep in mind that getting a sunburn, regardless of what you're putting on your skin, is still definitely bad. There is nothing good about burning your skin ever, but a lot of the danger lies in the chemicals in and on your body.

My all time favorite skin care line is Hylunia. The ingredients are listed right on the site by the product. They are expensive, but isn't everything that's skin related? So why not spend your money on the good stuff. Some less expensive products that are better than a lot out there are the Say Yes line (Say Yes to Carrots, Say Yes to Cucumbers, etc.) and the Jason line. They're not perfect, but they're affordable and still a much better option that most things out there.

Food also plays a part in the way your body interacts with the sun, so keep that in mind. Real, natural, life supporting food will support your life. Chemically induced, lab created junk will turn your body into a trash can.

I know this can be tough to hear and it can be even harder to make the changes. If it helps at all, I'm not perfect at this myself. Let it be known that even with this knowledge I still must have my Viktor and Rolf perfume. I've made the conscious decision that I cannot live without it. Also, just as a side note, your body and life are yours to do with as you please. I just feel that everyone has the right to be informed so that they can make the best decision for themselves.

Below is the link to the site that lists all the chemicals, the good products, and the bad. Grab your products and start researching!

Skin Deep

Also, I want to re-mention this amazing burn cream from another post I did a while back - Ching Wan Hung burn cream. It works on all burns - cooking, curling iron, and sun - and is truly one of the most amazing products I know of. I hope everyone gets this and keeps it on hand for those "just in case" moments. Why, you may ask?

A few years ago, I burned my arm right where my tattoo is. It was pretty bad and I honestly thought I'd have to have my tattoo re-done. I hadn't heard of this magical cream yet, so all I could do was a whole lot of nothing...just the normal, burn yourself and heal, things. The next night, in class, my teacher, a Traditional Chinese Medical Doctor, told me where to find this cream. Not only did it heal my burn quickly, but you would never know I had burned myself in the first truly saved me.I tried it on an unexpected sunburn one time, too (AZ weather...sometimes, in winter, it's rather warm) and it worked like a charm.

Image 1 via Beauty Health
Image 2 via Alba Botanica