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Overcoming the Plague of Anxiety: Finding your way back to a place of rest

Anxiety

Anxiety (Photo credit: Rima Xaros)

Of all the clients I have seen over the years, one of the most common problems people have come to counseling for anxiety.  According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issue, affecting approximately 40 million adults each year.   To a certain degree, anxiety is a perfectly normal reaction to stress.  For example, if you have a big exam coming up at school or an important presentation at work, anxiety and nervousness are natural responses.  However, if an anxiety response causes substantial emotional impairment or distress, a person may be dealing with an anxiety disorder.  For more information on anxiety and how to help ease the symptoms, keep reading.

While anxiety has many forms (listed below), this article focuses on anxiety in the general sense.  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders describes Generalized Anxiety Disorder as extreme and frequent worry that is difficult to control and causes impairment in functioning in at least one area of a person’s life (that is not caused by a medical issue or substance use).  Symptoms can include feeling edgy, cranky, and drained; having difficulty focusing, muscle tension, and trouble sleeping.  Remember that each individual is different so anxiety may not look exactly the same from person to person.  This can be exhausting to deal with for ourselves and our loved ones.  In addition to the mental and emotional response to anxiety and stress, our bodies also have a physiological response to stress and anxiety.

Naturally, our bodies respond to stress by trying to avoid or eliminate the stressor.  The hypothalamus kicks into gear.  The pupils dilate, the adrenal glands drive cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine throughout the body, the heart rate and blood pressure jump, our bodies burn stored fat for energy and constrict blood vessels in certain parts of the body.  This readies us to respond to and survive the threat by fighting, fleeing, or freezing (i.e. the fight-or-flight response).  While these automatic functions in the body are invaluable in protecting us from threats, anxiety can enable them by even a perceived threat.

If we get stuck in an anxious mindset, anything can become a perceived threat.  This can leave our body in survival mode around the clock, when it is only meant to turn on in an emergency.  Operating on this mode all the time can actually have toxic effects.  No wonder you are having difficulty concentrating and sleeping with all of this going on inside your body!  But how can a person get off the anxiety roundabout?  We have to engage our minds and bodies for the solution.

  • It all starts in the mind.  Ask yourself when the anxiety first started.  What was happening at that time?  What were you responding to?  Sometimes anxiety is (and other mental health issues are) a result of something we’ve been ignoring within ourselves that is trying to get out.  We can only stuff it down for so long before it manifests itself.  Identify how you respond to the trigger emotionally, physically, and mentally.  What are your thought responses to stress?  For example, if a teacher or an employer asks to speak to you privately after a presentation, are you assuming that what they have to say is negative?  Jot the answers to these questions down.  Take your time.  If you are having a difficult time answering some of these questions just relax and give yourself a break; you may have to revisit these questions repeatedly, and that is completely normal.  Now that you have identified the stressors and your initial responses, let’s get your body under control.
  • When you feel the anxiety start to creep in, the first thing to do is maintain a low heart rate.  Take slow, deep breaths.   Under stress our bodies want to huff and puff; these shallow intakes can encourage the stress response in your brain.  By maintaining your breath you can cut off the anxiety hormones at the pass.  Relax any muscles that may have tensed.  Try some progressive muscle relaxation; you may be surprised at how many of your muscle groups have been activated.  Participate in regular exercise.  When we sweat it releases many of the toxins in our bodies and leaves our brains and bodies in a much more restful state.  One of the most effective ways to relax the mind and body is through prayer and meditation.  Studies show how powerful these are, as people who identify themselves as religious are less likely to become anxious and depressed.  In one study, 20 out of 22 participants who practiced prayer or meditation to reduce moderate to severe anxiety showed marked improvement after three months.  When we pray and meditate, we use the most advanced part of our brains that is responsible for thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving.  These functions are dampened by anxiety from the activation of more primal instincts for survival.  Let’s not underestimate the power of our Lord.  He designed us this way for a purpose.
  • Now back to our thoughts.  Once the anxious thoughts have been identified, challenge and replace them along with any fearful self-talk; exchange them for empowered, positive ones.  Analyze how likely the feared event is to occur.  You see, our fears are like a plant.  They start with one seed, and then we water it by continuing to think and speak fearful thoughts which, many times, are unrealistic.  What can you do to control the outcome of the dreaded situation?  Remind yourself that you are not as helpless as you may feel.  Identify how you might respond to the feared outcome in order to return to a normal level of functioning.  And try to stay in the present moment.  Anxiety is usually brought on by thoughts of the dead past or the imaginary future.  Most of the time we are safe and should not have to feel worried.  This can be incredibly difficult at first, but patiently keep returning your focus to the here and now.  However, if there is a question of physical safety in your life, contact a helping professional to assist you in getting you to a safe place or situation as soon as possible.
  • Have a loved one or close friend to talk with about the anxiety.  Sometimes another person can give us a fresh perspective on how probable a feared event is.  They can also hold us accountable to our coping strategies.  If possible, this person should not have an anxiety problem as anxiety can be contagious; if we are in close proximity to an anxious person, our brain picks up on their elevated heart rate and will send a signal to the body that something is wrong.  This can stimulate an anxious response within us.  Also, exposing ourselves to anxiety-provoking material can do this: reading crime novels, watching disturbing movies or television, etc.

Again, we are all unique so some techniques may work better for you than others.  It can take time to overcome anxiety, so celebrate every small victory you have.  The good news is that anxiety is very treatable.  Continue to educate yourself on the causes, symptoms, and solutions of and to anxiety with many available books on the subject.  If your anxiety is serious, get in touch with a good counselor or licensed therapist.  Trained professionals have many additional resources and treatment exercises to help you reclaim control over your thoughts and feelings.  I am confident you will find freedom from the plague of anxiety and find your way back to a place of rest.

If you would like to see an article about other specific types of anxiety or anxiety in children/adolescents, or for questions, please leave a comment below.  Thanks for reading.

“If any of you are having trouble, pray.” James 5:13

“Cast all of your anxiety on God because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Anxiety types or disorders:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Panic attacks and Panic Disorder

Phobias (ex. Agoraphobia)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Acute Stress Disorder

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Resources: A great workbook to check out is The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne

References
American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth ed., Text Revision. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 2000.

Anxiety, Prayer, and Spirituality: Clinical evidence to the power of prayer and faith as an antidote to emotional diseases. (2007). In Holistic Online. Retrieved August 2, 2013, from http://www.holisticonline.com/Remedies/Anxiety/anx_prayer.htm

Facts and Statistics. (2010). In Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Retrieved July 2, 2013, from http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

Howard, P. J. (2006). The Owner’s Manual for the Brain: Everyday application from mind-brain research (3rd ed.). Austin, TX: Bard Press.

Jongsma, A. E., & Peterson, L. (2006). The Complete Adult Psychotherapy Treatment Planner (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2012, June 30). Anxiety: Symptoms. In Mayo Clinic. Retrieved July 2, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/anxiety/DS01187/DSECTION=symptoms

Nevid, J. S., Rathus, S. A., & Greene, B. (2006). Abnormal Psychology in a Changing World (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Statistics: Any anxiety disorder among adults. (2013). In National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved July 2, 2013, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/1ANYANX_ADULT.shtml

My video on this topic:

 

Marc Jacobs Beauty Style Eye-Con No. 7: First impressions review and swatches

Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con No. 7.  Picture by www.somethingtoconsiderblog.com

Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con No. 7. Picture by http://www.somethingtoconsiderblog.com

Marc Jacobs is launching his own beauty line, Marc Jacobs Beauty.  When I got the e-mail from Sephora about this it piqued my interest.  The collection preview on Sephora’s website consists of Style Eye-Con No. 7 Plush Shadow palettes (7 refers to the number of shadows), two Style Eye-Con No. 3 trios, the Lust for Lacquer Lip Vinyl Sheer lipgloss, the Magic Marc’er Precision Eye Pen liquid eye liner, and the Lip Lock Moisture Balm. The full collection will be available August 9 and will include 122 products.  I opted for the shadows.

The No. 7 palettes are a better value.  At $59 you get seven shadows in a range of finishes and .24 oz of product.  This comes out to about $8.50/shadow; not a bad deal for a high-end eyeshadow.  The No. 3 trios cost $42 for only three shades (though I am unsure of the product weight).  For an additional $17 you get four more shades.  Also, I was not in love with the choice of shades in the available trios.  If you are going to spend money on a high end product, you better love it.

The seven shadow palettes preview come in two color ranges: #202 The Tease and #204 The Starlet.   Tease is chock-full of with purples and pinky-tones: a purple sheen, matte grayish purple, matte pale pink, iridescent champagne sheen, metallic pastel pink w/gold shimmer, matte bright aubergine, and deep aubergine w/iridescent shimmer.  Starlet has a larger range of shades: a metallic muted lilac, metallic champagne pink, metallic dark copper brown, metallic bright copper, metallic gold, metallic bluish silver, and metallic gunmetal gray.  I purchased The Tease (see below for swatches and additional pics).

The packaging is very slender, glossy, and lightweight.  This would be a great palette to travel with as it is much less bulky than, say, the Urban Decay Naked palettes.  This can easily be stored in your purse and has a mirror inside.  The downside is that, even though it comes with a fabric protective case, as soon as you touch it there are big time, noticeable fingerprints.  This makes it look not so sleek and dirty in a hurry.

As for the shadows themselves, overall these are great.  The colors are absolutely beautiful.  Most of the shades are smooth and easy to blend; the shade #7 is the only one that is gritty.  Some have better pigmentation than others.  I find numbers 2,3, and 7 need to be built up a bit, but once they are they provide a gorgeous finish.  I wish the palette would have included a matte mid-tone brown for blending, but it does offer a couple of matte shades so it is not all shimmer and sheen.  These shadows have great staying power (I’m an oily girl, so that’s saying something!).

Is this palette worth picking up?  If you are in the market for high-end eyeshadow and could use an easily-blended palette to spice up a neutral collection-sure.  While not all high end makeup equals high quality, this definitely is (and it’s certainly more affordable than Dior).  Plus purples look great on every eye color.  It can be found here.  If you already own plenty of decent shadows then I wouldn’t break the bank for it.  Remember, at some point it’s just makeup.  You don’t need it to be beautiful.

Have you purchased any of the Marc Jacobs Beauty products?  Let me know what you got and how you like it in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con No. 7 swatches. Pic by www.somethingtoconsiderblog.com

Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con No. 7 swatches. Pic by http://www.somethingtoconsiderblog.com

Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con No. 7 swatches. Pic by www.somethingtoconsiderblog.com

Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con No. 7 swatches. Pic by http://www.somethingtoconsiderblog.com

Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con No. 7 swatches. Pic by www.somethingtoconsiderblog.com

Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con No. 7 swatches. Pic by http://www.somethingtoconsiderblog.com

Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con No. 7. Pic by www.somethingtoconsiderblog.com

Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con No. 7. Pic by http://www.somethingtoconsiderblog.com

Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con No. 7. Pic by www.somethingtoconsiderblog.com

Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con No. 7. Pic by http://www.somethingtoconsiderblog.com

Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con No. 7. Pic by www.somethingtoconsiderblog.com

Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con No. 7. Pic by http://www.somethingtoconsiderblog.com

Toxic Makeup Best and Worst: E.l.f. review

e.l.f. Studio Cream Blush

e.l.f. Studio Cream Blush (Photo credit: Mad Tofu)

If you have read my previous posts, you are undoubtedly aware of my current journey to dramatically reduce toxins from my personal care products.  I realized how toxic most of my makeup was and have been trying to build up a low toxin makeup stash (if you are interested in reading about the toxins found in makeup and other products, click here).  I use www.goodguide.com and www.ewg.org/skindeep to look up product ratings and ingredient information. Below is an overview of some of e.l.f.’s highest and lowest toxin-rated products for your consideration, as well as their price.

Though their products range from no health concern to high concern, e.l.f. (http://www.eyeslipsface.com) has a good selection of low-toxin products.  And since it is a popular drugstore brand, the affordability of their products is attractive.  This hopefully will dispel the notion that all low-toxin makeup must cost a fortune.  For reference, the Good Guide (GG) ingredient health rating ranges from 0-10; zero being the worst, highest health concern risk.  10 is the best, lowest health risk score.  Another bonus to Good Guide is that it also evaluates the company’s social and environmental policies.   If you are interested in their overview of e.l.f., visit http://www.goodguide.com/brands/274227-e_l-f-cosmetics.  The Skin Deep (SD) rating is unfortunately the opposite, so 0 is best score, 10 is the worst (sorry of that is confusing).  Let’s begin with the low-toxin products as of this writing.

Essential shine eraser: score of 10 (GG); no ingredients that raise a health concern. $1

Studio cream blush (all shades): score of 8 (GG); low level health concern.  $6

Studio corrective concealer & complete coverage concealer (all shades): score of 8 (GG; 1 SD). $3

Studio matte eyeshadow (all shades): score of 8 (GG). $3

Mineral lipstick (all shades): score of 8 (GG). $5

Essential all over color stick (all shades): score of 8 (GG). $1 (are we loving these prices yet?)

Nail polish: score of 8 (GG) in the following colors: black, plum, blush, fuchsia, copper, sunset, cranberry, burgundy, white, chocolate, clear, innocent, coral, moonlight, lilac, nude, berry pink, fire coral, party purple, fluorescent pink, punk purple, passion pink, royal purple, purple dream, hot pink, purple pleaser, light pink, red velvet, light red, desert haze, smoky brown, medium red, golden goddess (glitter), mod mauve, dark navy, mango madness, dark red, metal madness, fair pink, pearl pink, mint cream, bubble gum pink, champagne, dark glitter purple, matte finish clear nail polish ($2), and nail polish removal pads.

Treat and tame eyebrow (all shades): score of 8 (GG). $3

Waterproof eyeliner pen (all shades): score of 8 (GG), $2

Mineral Eyeshadow primer (all shades): score of 8 (GG). $3

Essential zit zapper: score of 8 (GG). $1

Essential all over cover stick (all shades): score of 8 (GG) except for apricot beige (6 GG, still in the low concern range).  $1

Mineral eye liner: score of 8 (GG) in the following shades: ash, black, coffee, and midnight.  $3

Essential feather-proof moisturizing lip liner (all shades): score of 8 (GG).  $1

Mineral Lip liner (all shades): score of 8 (GG).  $3

Mineral blush (all shades): score of 7 (GG).  $5

Bronzed mineral glow and Shimmer mineral glow: score of 7 (GG, SD 1).  $8

Studio shimmer sheets (all shades): score of 7 (GG).  $3

Studio shimmer palette: score of 7 (GG, SD 1).  $3

Essential brightening eye liner: score of 7 (GG) in the following shades: midnight, coffee, black, ash, and plum.  $1

Mineral moisturizing lip tint (all shades): score of 7 (GG).  $3

Studio lip balm (all shades): score of 7 (GG).  $3

Mineral concealer: score of 6 (GG) in the following shades: dark, deep, fair, and light.  $5

Mineral foundation: score of 6 (GG) in the following shades: dark, deep, warm, fair, and light.  $5

Lip primer/plumper: score of 6 (GG).  $3

Mineral personal blend foundation (all shades): score of 6 (GG).  $8

Contouring blush and bronzer powder duo: score of 6 (GG, SD 2).  $3

Studio eyebrow kit (all shades): score of 5 (GG).  $3

Studio high definition powder: score of 0 (SD).  $6

Studio blush: score of 1 (SD) in the following shades: peachy keen, tickled pink, and blush rose. Score of 2 (SD) in the following colors: candid coral, fuchsia fusion, mellow mauve, and gotta glow. $3

Studio bronzers (all shades): score 0f 2 (SD).  $3

Studio mineral-infused mascara: score of 2 (SD).  $3

Studio cream eyeliner: score of 2 (SD) in the following colors: coffee, gunmetal, midnight, metallic olive, and plum purple. $3

Studio pigment eyeshadow in the shade passionate purple: score of 2 (SD).  $3

Certain studio single eyeshadows: sand dollar has a GG score of 8; butter cream, coffee bean, and wild wheat have a SD score of 2.  $3

If you are interested in seeing swatches of some of these products, click on the video below.  That is the end of the E.l.f. products with low health risk ratings.  I also wanted to note that E.l.f.’s now discontinued bath and body products also scored well, for those of you who may own them.  I’m so bummed they got d/c’d, I’m always looking for good bath and body products!  Now for the poorly rated makeup.  For the sake of time I will not list all of them.  That would be an egregiously long post.  Basically if it’s not rated okay then I would expect it to be a bad rating since the average health rating of their products is 3.4 on Good Guide (and many products rate 0).  Here’s a brief rundown.

Most mascaras, eyeshadows, lip glosses (even mineral), cream shadow and liner, foundations, the blemish kit, studio concealers, natural radiance blushers, false lashes, brightening eye colors, essential lipsticks, shimmer eyeliner pencils, lip glosses,  glossy glosses, and glitter glosses, custom eyes, liquid liners, beauty books, tinted moisturizers, and the shielding hydro tint score poorly.  Their scores range from moderate to high concern.  Bad scores are due to ingredients such as propyl paraben, silica, ethyl acrylate, propylene glycol, and triethanolamine.

E.l.f.’s social responsibility rating is 3.2, and their environmental responsibility rating is 3.2 by Good Guide.  Perhaps this is why their costs are able to remain low.  For more information on this click here.

In sum, while most of their products rate poorly, many raise only a low level of health concern.  This goes to show that low toxin makeup does not have to be expensive.  Let me know what brands you would like reviewed and your favorite low-toxin E.l.f.  products in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

My video on these products:

‘Good’ Looks?

English: Makeup before attendance. Српски / Sr...

English: Makeup before attendance. Српски / Srpski: Шминкање пред наступ. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“That which is striking and beautiful is not always good, but that which is good is always beautiful.” -Ninon de L’enclos

Have you ever stopped to think about what is in your makeup?  Unfortunately we cannot assume that if a product is allowed on the shelves it must be okay.  In fact, it may even be toxic.  Thanks to being born the only girl in a house full of boys, makeup has never been that important to me.  Still, I like to get dolled up on occasion, and I want to feel good about what I am putting on my face.  This post is not an alarmist scare tactic.  Rather, my opinion is that people should be educated about their products so they can make an informed decision.  Below is a list of personal care ingredients that are suspected toxins known as the “dirty dozen,” a brief description of the serious health concerns to which they are linked, and resources for finding non-toxic products.

  • BHA & BHT
  • Parabens
  • DEA-Realated Ingredients
  • Dibutyl phthalate
  • Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives
  • PEG Compounds
  • Coal Tar Dyes
  • Petrolatum
  • Siloxanes
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  • Fragrance
  • Triclosan

While each ingredient affects us differently, some are known carcinogens, linked to organ toxicity, as well as birth defects, hormone disruption, cancer, skin rashes and irritations, allergens, asthma, and reproductive problems for both genders from either direct use or in utero exposure.  I enjoy makeup, but it is absolutely not worth those risks.  Some argue that many of these ingredients are considered low risk in small amounts.  However, people are not just exposed to them in a one-time use product.  Unfortunately, most personal care products contain one or several of these toxins, from lipstick to shampoo, lotion, soap, and more each and every day (not to mention toxins in other products such as food and cleaning products).  I would rather yield to the Precautionary Principle and limit them as much as possible.  It seems inconceivable that these ingredients would be allowed in so many of our products.

“Most consumer products are unregulated in the U.S., so manufacturers are allowed to use hazardous chemicals without demonstrating the safety of the products and without labeling them as toxic.” (Malkin, 2007).  Stronger regulation of cosmetic ingredients would help reduce or eliminate the risk posed by these components from the products that we put on our skin.  As the skin is our largest organ, the majority of what we put on it gets absorbed into our bodies.  Some of the ingredients above help products penetrate more deeply into our skin, causing us to absorb even more.  Many in-depth resources have been written about toxic ingredients and the lack of laws regulating their use, such as the references listed below.  If these ingredients are in so many products, how can they be avoided?

If you are like me, trying to decipher the ingredients list on a package can make your eyes cross.  What’s more, many of these products are listed under multiple names, such as the many types of siloxanes (generally they are listed as words ending in “–siloxane” and “–methicone”). Luckily there are search engines available that provide information on the safety of product ingredients.  I use Good Guide at www.goodguide.com and Skin Deep at www.ewg.org/skindeep. Each site pulls up a detailed rating regarding ingredient safety and toxicity.  Good Guide even has an app for smart phones.  Although I have found the regular search engine works a bit better, it is convenient to have it at my fingertips in the store.  It has enabled me to avoid purchasing a product with a low health rating numerous times.  Before you think this message is all gloom and doom, be encouraged that many products are available with safe ingredient alternatives (both affordable and high end).  And if you are motivated, you can take action.

-Urge your country’s leaders to pass legislation for safer personal care products.  If you live in the U.S., contact your representative and encourage them to co-sponsor the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2013 (H.R. 1385) here: http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5500/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=13369.

If you live in Canada, go here: http://action2.davidsuzuki.org/cosmetics.

-Support health-conscious businesses by purchasing their products that have safe ingredient ratings.  Do not assume that if a product is labeled “natural” or “organic” that they truly are.  Companies recognize that many consumers are interested in healthier product ingredients.  They are trying to capitalize on that, labeling products as natural and organic which are not.  This also happens due to the lack of regulation.  Also do not assume that just because a company makes certain products with low-risk ingredients that all of their products will have the same rating.

-Reduce the number of products you use each day.  And remember, you do not need makeup to be beautiful!  The times in my life I’ve worn the most makeup were when I was most insecure, which is no good reason to wear it.

-Contact cosmetic and personal care companies and retailers to let them know healthy product ingredients matter to you.  For a form letter to retailers, go here: http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5500/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=12309.

-Spread the word so others can make informed choices about their products.

-Stay informed through campaigns such as the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (http://safecosmetics.org/), Teens for Safe Cosmetics (www.teensturninggreen.org/ ), and the Breast Cancer Fund (www.breastcancerfund.org/), among numerous others (a list of more endorsing organizations can be found on the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website).

Don’t be discouraged.  Many companies are making the move toward safer products for their consumers; products that work just as well if not better than the toxic alternative.  It simply takes a little extra time on our part to find them.  Each time we purchase them, we send a message that toxic makeup should be a thing of the past.  Companies will make what people will buy.  Thanks for reading.  Please let me know your favorite low-toxin personal care products in the comments below.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1Peter 3:3-4

References

Malkin, S. (2007). Not Just a Pretty Face: The ugly side of the beauty industry. Gabriola Island, BC, Canada: New Society Publishers.

Suzuki, D. (n.d.). “‘Dirty Dozen’ Cosmetic Chemicals to Avoid. In David Suzuki Foundation. Retrieved June 4, 2013, from http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/health/science/toxics/dirty-dozen-cosmetic-chemicals/

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

http://www.goodguide.com/

http://safecosmetics.org/

Watch my YouTube video on this topic:

Water in the Basement

We’ve had some pretty nasty thunderstorms here lately, leaving many people with water in their basements.  Fortunately, our house had very, very little so it was more annoying than catastrophic.  Due to this water, we were going through boxes and things that have been stored down there and I came across a box I have not touched in years.  It contained memories from college.

Inside the box were many things I had both treasured and mindlessly thrown in to accelerate the moving process.  Class schedules, pictures, funny notes my roommate and I had taped to our door, flash cards, and e-mails I had printed.  Even notebooks I would doodle and journal in if I was bored at work at the mall (yes I was a total mall rat).  The nostalgia hit me so hard it was almost painful.  College was a very interesting time for me, simultaneously fun, challenging, chaotic, and amazing somehow.

Perhaps it was being an adult without 100% of the responsibility that would eventually come.  Maybe it was that my whole life was before me, full of promise and possibility.  I used to daydream about what the future would hold: what will my career be?  Who will I marry?  Where will I live?  How many children will I have?  What adventures will we create?  What will all of that look like put together?  My imagination would run wild with these things, picturing both the exciting and mundane.  I loved to dream.

Sitting there it occurred to me how, at this point, it seems so much of my life has been decided.  I know the answers to most of those questions now.   As a child in school I remember how much I looked forward to the weekend.  In time, I realized it was more the promise the weekend held than anything else.  But I miss dreaming a little, and I’m not entirely sure why.  Perhaps I feel a little trapped, like I can’t make any major change without disrupting the kids or job security.  Not in an immature, bored kind of way.  I have been very content with my life since undergrad, full of so many wonderful people and experiences I would never trade in.  And I certainly wouldn’t want to repeat college all over again.  Yet in the background there’s always that nostalgia that won’t be completely quiet.  And sometimes, times like now when I find an old photo or hear an old song, it becomes a guttural scream; a cry of restlessness.

Perhaps I need to remind myself that life is never fully decided.  That, in many ways, my proverbial “whole life” is always ahead of me; be it 80 years or mere moments.  Maybe the cure for the common life is to do something spontaneous.  To keep dreaming big.  To believe that God still has something special up His sleeve.  This can be a bit scary.  After all, not all change is pleasant.  And as I sit in the mildly musty basement lost in thought and memories, my little boy runs up to me and gives me a craft he made for me.  My heart warms, and I pack up the past and head back upstairs to my gifts of the present; reassured that I still have the right to dream.  For a romantic like me, I’m glad to have something to dream about.  And glad for a little water in the basement.

Preparing for Baby: What’s in My Hospital Bag?

As pregnancy winds closer to an end in expectation for birth, one of the to-do list items to check off my list is packing the hospital bag.  Whether you are packing your bag months in advance in anticipation, or if you are a procrastinator packing at the last minute, below is what I consider my hospital essentials when having a baby.

For Me

  • Slippers for doing laps around the birth center to get dilated
  • Warm, fuzzy socks to keep my feet warm
  • Reusable feminine pads to manage bleeding (for vaginal childbirth).  Reusable pads are better both for mom (no harmful chemicals like dioxin) and the environment.  I use Lunapads which you can find at http://www.lunapads.com
  • Reusable nursing pads.  These are important for both breastfeeding and bottle feeding moms as your milk will come in regardless.  I like the brand Skoon which can be found at http://www.sckoon.com/organiccottonbabyclothing-collections-breastfeeding-pads.html
  • Massage items so your spouse or coach can rub your back during labor (I prefer LUSH massage bars to lotions or creams-less messy).  You can find them at http://www.lushusa.com/Massage-Bars/massage-bars,en_US,sc.html
  • Nipple cream for breastfeeding mothers.  This is essential.  When nursing my daughter, I somehow missed the memo about nipple cream and they were so sore it made nursing almost unbearable.  A few days later my friend asked me if I had been using any cream and mercifully filled me in on it.  What a difference it made!  I may have given up on breastfeeding without it.  An alternative that I’ve heard works well is using breast milk.  After your child has finished nursing, rub a small amount of breast milk on the nipple and let it air dry.  The nipple cream I like is Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter, a 100% natural product.  This can be found at http://www.abesmarket.com/store/earthmama/products/?gclid=CMe-jcrN8LUCFetAMgodo1QADg
  • Headphones and MP3/iPod for music to help relax or distract you through contractions
  • Camera for taking pictures/video
  • Lip balm for hydrating lips that get dry from all of that deep breathing
  • Toiletries
  • Book or magazines

For Baby

  • Cloth diapers-I am packing some Bum Genius 4.0 one size diapers.  These may not work for babies that weigh less than 8 lbs, so just in case I am also packing some Kissa’s newborn prefolds and Thirsties extra-small diaper covers.  My favorite website for cloth diaper essentials is  http://www.kellyscloset.com/ or even craigslist/on-line yard sales for gently used ones for very cheap
  • Baby lotion-I use California Baby natural lotion which can be found online or at Target http://www.californiababy.com/super-sensitive-shampoo-bodywash-8-5-oz.html
  • Clothes-onesies, bodysuits or pajamas, and an outfit for newborn pictures
  • Small amount of olive oil (I use cold pressed extra virgin olive oil)-put this on baby when changing their diaper.  This will help the ever-so-sticky meconium clean off like a dream.
  • Receiving blankets or swaddlers

Some women like to bring pajamas or robes from home that are more comfortable than hospital gowns.  If you do this make sure you are okay with them getting stained by the plethora of fluid that accompanies childbirth.  My list may seem very modest.  I remember with my first child I completely over-packed as I was not sure what I would need.   You may have additional items that are essential for your comfort.  Pack whatever you feel you need.  I recommend keeping it simple so that packing to go home will be a simpler process.

Thanks for reading.  Please leave me your hospital bag essentials in the comments below.

My YouTube video on these items:

Simple Easter Bird’s Nest Cupcakes

Simple Easter Bird’s Nest Cupcakes

These adorable Easter treats are super easy to make!  Not to mention a big hit with the kids.  Or if you are just looking for a fun spring dessert, these easy cupcakes are for you.

What You Will Need

-Cake mix and frosting of your choice (eggs, oil, and water per directions)

-1 Cup shredded sweetened coconut (or chocolate frosting alternative)

-3-4 bags of Cadbury Mini Eggs

-Cupcake baking pans and cups

Directions

Bake cupcakes according to directions (if you want to keep it really simple use a box mix).  While cooling, lightly toast the coconut at no higher than 350⁰ for about 8 minutes, turning half way to ensure even browning.  But keep a close eye, coconut flakes can burn very easily.

Once cupcakes are cool, add frosting.  Now comes the fun part.  Place Cadbury Mini Eggs in center of cupcake (I like to use 3 in a V shape) and press into frosting.  Then sprinkle toasted coconut over top, mainly on the outer rim, to create the nest.  Do not place coconut first as the mini eggs will not stay without the help of the frosting.

If you do not like coconut, you can use chocolate frosting to create the nest.  Simply use a frosting bag and piping tool (or cut the tip of the corner of a zip lock bag off) to make the nest frosting.  Swirl on frosting in a circular motion, leaving room in the center for the eggs.

That is all there is to it!  I get tons of compliments every time I make them and my kids love them.  Below is my YouTube video tutorial on these cupcakes if you are interested.  Please let me know if you try these in the comments below along with your favorite Easter dessert recipes.  Thanks for reading!

Birds Nest Cupcakes Tutorial

Product Review: Happy Happy Joy Joy Conditioner

Product Review: Happy Happy Joy Joy Conditioner

Over the last few months I have been trying to green my beauty routine.  This included purchasing a conditioner called Happy Happy Joy Joy (you can find it at www.lushusa.com).  The last time I visited LUSH I asked one of their staff for a conditioner recommendation for my hair type: long, oily, fine, lots of hair.  She suggested Happy Happy Joy Joy, their new conditioner.

The Product

HHJJ is a vegan conditioner that contains ingredients such as rose water, almond milk, and orange blossom water.  LUSH is known for creating products with little to no preservatives.  It is advertised as a light conditioner for all hair types including processed and color treated.  The conditioner is perfumed and leaves your hair smelling rosy the entire day.  It is sold in the following sizes: 3.3 oz ($12.95), 8.8 oz ($24.95), and 16.9 oz ($39.95).

The Results

This conditioner left my hair feeling soft.  It is definitely perfumed as the makers suggest.  When I smelled the scent in the store I liked it; however, I learned that I do not like it enough to be on my hair for an entire day.  I like the rose scent, but I wouldn’t say I love it (although the aroma grew on me over time).  While the consistency definitely seems lighter than most conditioners, I found that if I did not take extra care to wash it out completely it left my hair flat.  This is a huge issue for me, having fine hair.  Overall I would rate this conditioner a 3 out of 5.  If I can get it rinsed out enough I rate it a 4, but it seems like I have to rinse it much longer than other conditioners I have used.  This may work better for other hair types that do not get weighed down as easily.  If you really enjoy a rose fragrance you will love this in your hair all day.  I may repurchase this in the future but will likely try another conditioner first.  Hope this is helpful!

As always I purchased this myself and I am not affiliated with the brand in any way, just wanted to pass along my experience with it for those considering giving it a try.  Please leave a comment below if you have used it with your results and hair type.  Thanks for reading!

Forgiveness: Good for Your Health?

Asking For Forgiveness

Asking For Forgiveness (Photo credit: hang_in_there)

We can all relate to being hurt by others.  A healthy habit that people may not realize is good for them physically is practicing forgiveness.  We may believe that it is good for us spiritually or emotionally, but physically?  And still others may be much more interested in revenge rather than forgiveness.  Yet there is an abundance of research that suggests just how beneficial the art of letting go can improve one’s overall wellness.  Before getting into the advantages of forgiveness and how to implement it, let us first define it.

I like to think of forgiveness as letting go of a past hurt or injustice to the point where it no longer causes a marked negative emotional or physiological response.  Another definition I like is, “letting go of the need for revenge and releasing negative thoughts of bitterness and resentment,” (Ponton, 2007).  Forgiveness is not, however, approval of the offense.  So why practice forgiveness?

“[A] Hope College in Michigan study shows a physiological response to remembering past hurts: increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, and higher muscle tension,” (Hayes-Greico, 2013).  Studies show that people who practice forgiveness report measurable mental, emotional, and physical benefits such as:

  • lowered blood pressure, stress, and anger
  • decreased depression and anxiety
  • lowered risk of addiction
  • improved immune health
  • healthier relationships

Now that the value of forgiveness has been established, here are steps one can take toward forgiveness.

I will not kid you; forgiveness can be a very long and difficult process at times.  This involves changes in how we think and feel.  We first make the decision to forgive, which may include changes in our behavior (e.g. ceasing to seek revenge).  This is not necessarily a one-time resolution, but rather one that needs to be made and reinforced over and over again.  Forgiveness also requires a change in our emotions; moving away from resentment and anger and instead toward understanding and compassion.  Consider the words of Thich Nhat Hanh:

“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over.  He does not need punishment, he needs help.  That’s the message he is sending.”

When we put our situation in this perspective, it makes it possible to empathize with the one who hurt us.  Empathy enables us to have compassion for them.  This has been helpful to me in removing the personal sting that comes with being hurt badly and moving toward letting it go.  When we forgive we can heal.  What helps me personally is choosing to forgive and allowing it to happen little by little over time rather than trying to force myself to forgive instantly.

I used to hold grudges very tightly, ruminating over how I was wronged.  I refused to forgive until the person apologized sincerely (and maybe not even then).  So I prayed that God would help me work on forgiveness since I truly did not know how to do it, and He graciously has shown be step by step.  No more ruminating over the injustice, just a releasing of it.  That at times includes forgiving myself for things I have done wrong and making amends as best I can.  It includes putting it behind me and not condemning myself indefinitely for it.  When I have done this I have experienced remarkable personal growth.  As a counselor, I have found that people have tremendous power over their thoughts and feelings simply by making different choices and being intentional.

Forgiveness can be reached with or without continuing the relationship with our offender.  There are times and situations when we may need to cut toxic people from our lives.  We do not have to continue to be a victim to someone who may not seek or want our forgiveness.  We can do it for ourselves.

Forgiveness, while at times incredibly difficult, can be a very powerful practice in our lives.  Forgiveness opens us up to numerous physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits.  Even if the culprit does not deserve our forgiveness, we do.

 

Thanks for reading.  Do you have a personal experience with this you would like to share?  Leave a comment below.

 

References:

“Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness”. (2011, November 23). In Mayo Clinic. Retrieved February 23, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/forgiveness/MH00131

Harris, A. H., & Thoresen, C. E. (2005, March). “Forgiveness, Unforgiveness, Health, and Disease”. In U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Retrieved February 23, 2013, from http://www.chce.research.va.gov/docs/pdfs/pi_publications/Harris/2005_Harris_Thorsen_HF.pdf

Hayes Grieco, M. (2013). “Forgiveness and Health Research”. In Mary Hayes Grieco and The Midwest Institute for Forgiveness Training. Retrieved February 23, 2013, from http://www.maryhayesgrieco.com/forgiveness/research.asp

Ponton, L. (2007). “What is Forgiveness?”. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 23, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/what-is-forgiveness/

Tomasulo, D. (2010). “Gender and Forgiveness”. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 23, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/06/29/gender-and-forgiveness/

Concert Review: Coldplay Mylo Xyloto

Coldplay Mylo Xyloto Chicago, Il 2012.  Property of Kristen DeLange

Coldplay Mylo Xyloto Chicago, Il 2012. Property of KDL

August 8, 2012                  

United Center                 

Chicago, IL

Opening Acts:

Marina and the Diamonds

Charli XCX

The Band:

Chris Martin-lead vocals, piano, guitar

Jonny Buckland-lead guitar

Guy Berryman-bass

Will Champion-drums

As you probably know, Coldplay is a British alternative rock band with a sound that is simultaneously pensive and high energy with a bit of pop and passion.  They have earned numerous awards, including seven Grammys.  Mylo Xyloto is their fifth studio album since their inception in 1997.

Beginning with Hurts Like Heaven, the band performed with an electricity that was contagious to the crowd.  They played a great mix of new songs and old favorites: Paradise, Princess of China, Yellow, In My Place, Amsterdam (played in full for the first time since 2005).  They even snuck in a Louis Armstrong cover of What a Wonderful World, a sweet rendition featuring only Martin and his piano (for a complete playlist see below).

The main stage was huge with a long walkway, plus a small mini-stage within the crowd for a more intimate set.  The sound was incredible live, which certainly cannot be said of every band.  Vocals were spot on, music was perfect, sound and speakers well balanced.  How awful it is to attend a concert with distorted sound!  The laser lights timed to the music added to the visual intensity, as did the numerous confetti eruptions and graffiti symbols that covered the album.  They even provided bracelets, or xylobands, for the crowd that also lit up to the music.

Overall this was an excellent concert experience that I highly recommended.  While I must admit Coldplay is one of my all-time favorite bands, that was also the consensus of those we met at the concert.  They ended with Every Teardrop is a Waterfall, somehow still with tons of energy.  The only diappointment was that it had to end.

Songs Performed:

Mylo Xyloto

Hurts Like Heaven

In My Place

Major Minus

Lovers in Japan

The Scientist

Yellow

Violet Hill

God Put a Smile Upon Your Face

Princess of China

Up in Flames

Amsterdam (played in full for the first time since 2005)

Don’t Let It Break Your Heart

Viva La Vida

Charlie Brown

Paradise

Us Against the World

Speed of Sound

Clocks

What a Wonderful World

Fix You

Every Teardrop is a Waterfall

Thanks for reading.  Have you seen Coldplay in concert?  Leave a comment below!