So I thought I would kick off the new year by getting rid of things I have lying around that are seldom used and gathering dust. Makeup, clothes, home decor, and toys were making their way into the “donate” pile. This quickly became an exercise in self reflection.
At first I felt the urge to justify keeping things, thinking, “Oh I’m sure I’ll use this soon.” But as my stack began to grow, the buzz of having more space and simplifying my home began to kick in. Before I knew it, I was happily tossing things in. I began to feel more energized, and it occurred to me just how long it had been since I felt that way.
I realized that not only did I need to declutter my house, I needed to declutter my life. It wasn’t just about “things” zapping my energy. Unhealthy habits, relationships, and priorities can throw everything off kilter. They steal our time, energy, and quality of life. And just like justifying the keeping of unnecessary things, we legitimize those habits by saying, “It’s not that big of a deal.” We defend unhealthy relationships with family, friends, and partners, thinking, “It will get better.” We excuse skewed priorities with, “I’ll get to it later.” But later never comes. Not that way.
Later is now. This moment is what we have to work with. Maybe “it” is that big of a deal. And how can things get better without correction? Ask yourself honestly what (or who) needs to go, needs to change. Even if the one who needs to change is you. Change is scary, but what scares you more? Changing…or staying the same?
What will you “declutter?” Leave a comment below. Thanks for reading.
Since my last toxic makeup review was on a high-end brand (Urban Decay-to read it, click here), I thought I would review a popular drugstore brand next. Below is a quick rundown of some of Revlon’s best and worst rated makeup products. The ratings were obtained from the Skin Deep database by the Environmental Working Group (which can be found at www.ewg.org/skindeep). The rating scale is simple, ranging from 0-10 with 10 being the most toxic product score. As always, please keep in mind that formulations in cosmetics are constantly changing. Consequently, I encourage looking up product ratings before you buy them either on Skin Deep or www.goodguide.com (which also includes the company’s eco and social responsibility ratings). While Revlon has quite a few low-toxin products (168 out of the 1022 current products rated), overall most of their products were in the moderate or high toxin range. For the sake of brevity I did not list all 1022 products, but here are various examples of Revlon’s products and their ratings, starting from the worst scores.
10: Hair color. Do you really want this absorbed into your head?
9: Colorstay Mineral Blush in Roseberry, Colorstay Blemish Concealer, Silky Powder Bronzer in Sunkissed Bronze, Age Defying Makeup Foundation with Botafirm for Dry Skin
8: Certain Moondrops crème lipsticks
7: Some Super Lustrous Lip Glosses (ex. shade Nude Lustre 040), Photoready Powder, ColorStay Foundation for Combination/Oily Skin
6: New Complexion One-Step Compact Makeup, Nail Care Liquid Quick Dry, Cream Blush in certain shades (ex. shade Rosy Glow)
5: Nearly Naked Makeup (ex. shade Warm Beige), PhotoReady BB Cream Skin Perfector, Illuminance Creme Eye Shadow (ex. shade 725 Va Va Va Bloom), Just Bitten Lip Stain & Balm (ex. shade Dawn), ColorStay Ultimate Suede Lipstick (ex. shade Flashing Lights), Colorstay for Normal/Dry Skin Makeup with SoftFlex (ex. shade Sand Beige), ColorStay Liner For Lips
4: Matte Eye Shadow (ex. shade Vintage Lace), Colorstay 12-Hour Eye Shadow quads in certain shades, Luxurious Color Eye Line (ex. shade Black Velvet), Lip Butters (many hearts may be breaking over this, these are so popular!)
3: Certain shades of PhotoReady Concealer Makeup, PhotoReady Cream Blush (ex. shade Coral Reef), PhotoReady Mousse Makeup in certain shades, ColorStay Whipped Creme Makeup in certain shades, Colorstay Aqua Mineral Finishing Powder-Translucent, ColorStay 16-Hour Eye Shadow Quad (ex. shade Bombshell), Age Defying with DNA Advantage Cream Makeup, and nail polishes scored at least 3, at most 9
2: Super Lustrous Lipstick in many but not all shades, here’s a few: Sky Pink, Wine with Everything, Violet Frenzy, Peach Me, Smoky Rose, Coffee Bean, Apricot Fantasy, Sassy Mauve, Just Enough Buff, Cherries in the Snow; Photoready Kajal Intense Eye Liner & Brightener (ex. shade Purple Reign), Grow Luscious Waterproof Mascara, Custom Eyes Duo Shadow & Liner Palette (ex. shade Naturally Glamorous 020), Custom Eyes Mascara (ex. shade Blackened Brown 003), ColorStay Ultimate Liquid Lipstick in many but not all shades, here’s a few: Nude, Perfect Peony, Premier Pink, Prized Plum, Stellar Sunrise, and more; PhotoReady Eye Primer & Brightener, PhotoReady Makeup foundation (all shades)
1: ColorBurst Lipstick in the following shades: True Red 090, Rosy Nude 065, Fuschia 030
0: Remover for Lash Adhesive, Color Allure Nails, Medium nail glue
Please note I did not include products considered by Skin Deep to have an old formula (more than 3 years old), and also that not all shades of the same product will have the same score. Approx. 16.4% of the products I viewed were low toxin, which is honestly more than I thought there would be. But Revlon can certainly do better! Poor scores resulted from toxic ingredients such as multiple parabens (linked to reproductive toxicity, hormone disruption), BHA (linked to cancer, organ toxicity, hormone disruption), methyl methacrylate (linked to developmental toxicity, for example, fetal exposure in utero, breastfeeding infants, direct application exposure while still developing), and many more. Good Guide (www.goodguide.com), which rates product health, social, and environmental responsibility 0-10 (but with 10 being the best, no-toxin score) gives Revlon the following overall ratings: Health 1.9 (extremely poor), Environmental 3.9 (poor), and Social 3.9 (poor). Visit their website for more information.
Do what you wish with this material. Perhaps it will spur you on to changing your Revlon purchasing habits. If you feel inclined to take further action, there is a form letter on the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website that you cane-mail to Revlon asking them to remove harmful chemicals from their products. They also have more information on the kinds of toxic ingredients in Revlon products as well as their linked health concerns (and much more). Here is the page: http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5500/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=15670
What did you think of Revlon’s ratings? Were you surprised? Please leave a comment below with your thoughts, questions, and requests for other brand reviews. Be good to one another and thanks for reading.
Up for your consideration are the Tinted Mineral Moisturizer and Refining Finishing Powder by Juice Beauty. I spotted these in Ulta awhile back, and since I’m always on the hunt for effective low-toxin products, I thought I would give theses a shot. Here’s a bit of background on Juice Beauty in case you are unfamiliar.
Founded in California, their goal was to create healthy and effectual personal care products. They have created antioxidant and vitamin-rich, organic, juice-based formulas that strive to be more effective than their high toxin-counterparts. Using juice as a base eliminates the need for petroleum derivatives that many other companies use, which suffocate the skin and frequently contain harmful chemicals. Juice Beauty is a certified organic brand, so you can purchase their genuinely natural ingredients with confidence. But enough chat about the company. How well do the products actually work?
The tinted moisturizer has an SPF of 30, which is a bonus so no added sunscreen is necessary. Obviously the ingredients are a major plus. Not that all of my makeup is completely natural/organic, but I prefer anything that goes all over my entire face to be as natural and low-toxin as possible. It is very moisturizing, and since I am an oily girl, I do not use any supplementary moisturizer with it. This leaves the skin with a very dewy finish. For dry skin this is great; however, if like me you are more slippery, I would recommend using the refining powder to set it. The loose powder is very light and leaves the skin with a very natural finish (as in the middle ground between dry and oily). It does not look cakey, and for me it seems to last all day, even in the summer. Not everyone cares for loose powders, but they do not bother me if they perform well. I noticed it settled a bit into my smile lines throughout the day but not terribly. I saw no noticeable difference with how it looked when I used a primer underneath or not. The refining powder scores a 2 (low toxin) on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database. The tinted moisturizer scores a 2 in the shade ivory, 3 in sand and tan (which puts them just into the moderate range). For more information on what these ratings mean, visit http://www.ewg.org/skindeep
For the tinted moisturizer, I dot it all over my face with clean fingers and then massage into the skin. I usually then go over it with my Bare Minerals precision face brush just to even it out. I apply the refining powder with the Bare Minerals flawless face brush, tapping off any excess product into the cap.
If you’ve been burned by tinted moisturizers that lack any semblance of coverage, this will not disappoint you. However, if you are in search of a full coverage product, this (or any tinted moisturizer for that matter) is not the item for you. While the price point is a bit steep (the tinted moisturizer retails for $29 for 2 oz of product; the refining powder goes for $22 for .28 oz), you get plenty of product. Could the health score of the tinted moisturizer be better? Of course (in the darker shades that is). So if you are really uncomfortable using anything other than low-toxin products, you will want to pass on this. Overall I think you get what you pay for: high quality, natural products that do pretty much what they say they do. And if you purchase them from Ulta and are dissatisfied, you can return them for a full refund or store credit (at least here in The States).
Have you tried them? Leave a comment below with your thoughts and skin type. Of course I purchased these with my own money and these thoughts are my own. Thanks for reading.
Info on the company found at http://www.juicebeauty.com
Skin Deep database: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep
Interested in seeing how these products look on the skin? Watch my YouTube video:
Hello, Lovelies! I’m back with another makeup brand review. I previously reviewed E.L.F. Cosmetics (to read this review, click here). This time we are looking at Urban Decay and spotlighting some of their best and worst health rated products. As usual I use www.goodguide.com and www.ewg.org/skindeep to get these ratings. Below I have listed current ratings as of this writing. Don’t forget: product formulations are constantly changing so you may want to double check scores before purchasing. For Good Guide (gg), 10=no toxin, 5-9=low toxin, 3-4=moderate toxin, 0-2=high toxin so the higher the number the better. As for Skin Deep (sd), the ratings are opposite of Good Guide; 0=no toxin, 1-2=low toxin, 3-6=moderate toxin, 7-10=high toxin so the lower the number the better. I included prices if available, but don’t fret, ebay and amazon are always loaded with discontinued makeup. I included ratings on d/c’d products in case you have them in your stash. Let’s highlight some of their low-toxin products first. Urban Decay has quite a few low-toxin products.
24/7 glide on lip pencils in all colors except Wicked (gg 7, sd 1 or 2); $19
Lip junkie lip glosses (gg5+); $19
Naked 2 eyeshadow palette of 12 shadows (all shades score well except for Blackout-gg 4; could not find score for Bootycall); $50
Most of their false lashes (gg 8); $15
Urbanglow cream highlight in the shades sin, wicked, and brown sugar (gg 8); $24
Cannonball ultra waterproof mascara (gg 8); $20
24/7 glide on eye pencils in the shades: zero, lust, perversion, ransom, rockstar, stash, demolition, underground, yayo, flipside, gunmetal, graffiti (gg 6+, sd 2); $19 (some shades are on sale on www.sephora.com for only $6!)
Eyelash primer potion (gg 8) $20
Meltdown Make-Up Remover (gg 8); $24
Lipsticks in the following shades: gravity, trainwreck, jilted, vinyl, voodoo, wanted, buzzkill, requiem, revolution, midnight cowboy, lovechild, hot pants, rush, sellout, naked, apocalypse, peroxide, confession, and gash (gg 6+); *note: these are the old lipsticks, not to be confused with the brand new Revolution lipsticks that, to my knowledge, have not yet been rated.
Ammo eyeshadow box/palette – 10 Shades (gg 7); $34
Eyeshadow singles in the following shades: buck, darkhorse, roach, woodstock, foxy, baked, virgin, zephyr, s and m, smog, loaded, lost, tease, naked, verve, evidence, asphyxia, toasted, freelove, rockstar, blunt, bust, mildew, x, ydk, peace, flash, pistol, fishnet, bender, scratch, snakebite, busted, vanilla, mushroom, gravity, shattered, bordello, height, secret service, half baked, swf, radium, sellout, kush, snatch, suspect, last call, abc gum, psychedelic sister, acdc, twice baked, gunmetal, sin, grifter, midnight cowgirl, chopper, oil slick, stray dog, polyester bride, midnight cowboy, rodeo, midnight cowboy rides again, and the stardust eyeshadows (gg 5+); $18. *Note the older formulations of these shadows have much worse scores
Eyeshadow Primer Potion in sheer nude, eden, and greed (gg 6+); $20 (greed is on sale right now at www.sephora.com for only $10)
De-slick, All Nighter, and Dew Me setting sprays (gg 6); $14-29 depending on size
Revolver fragrance Oil (gg 6)
Guardian angel spray moisturizer SPF 8 (gg 6)
Stardust sparkling lip glosses in andromeda and space cowboy (gg 6)
Midnight cowboy body shimmer lotion (gg 5)
Rollergirl eyeshadow palette of four shadows (gg 5)
It would take too long to list all 500 or so poorly rated products, so I’ll highlight a few.
Naked 1 palette of 12 shadows (gg 0); $50
Urban brow styling brush and setting gel (gg 4); $20
Urbanglow Cream Highlight in the shade Moonshine (gg 4); $24
Many eyeshadow colors (too many to list), here’s an example of a few: cobra, blackout, chase, maui wowi (gg 0-4), $18
Big fatty waterproof mascaras (gg 2-4); $20
24/7 glide-on shadow pencils (gg 4); $20
The black palette (gg 4)
Loose pigments (gg 0)
Surreal skin mineral makeup and Surreal cream to powder foundations (gg 0, sd 3+); $31 and $35 respectively
De-slick mattifying face powder (sd 3); $32
Naked skin beauty balm (sd 5); $14-34 depending on size
Afterglow glide on cheek tint (gg 3-4); $24
24/7 Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner (gg 0); $19
Ultraglide lip glosses and xxx shine glosses (gg 0)
These bad scores are due to ingredients such as silica, butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), propylene glycol, triethanolamine, and multiple parabens. These are linked to health concerns such as cancer, organ toxicity, hormone disruption, and cellular level changes. Overall, Urban Decay health product ratings are 2.8, their social responsibility rating is 3.2, and their environmental responsibility rating is also 3.2 (none too impressive).
So judge for yourself if Urban Decay is the right brand for you. Most of their low-toxin products, while costly, are highly pigmented, beautiful, and have great staying power. And remember that not all high-end makeup makes for good health quality products.
What are your thoughts on Urban Decay? Leave a comment below. As always, thanks for reading.
“Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the most high, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling for He shall give His angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways.” Psalm 91:9-11
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)
Acute Stress Disorder
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Resources: A great workbook to check out is The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne
American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth ed., Text Revision. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 2000.
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
Coal Tar Dyes
Sodium Laureth Sulfate
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.
-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.
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
Malkin, S. (2007). Not Just a Pretty Face: The ugly side of the beauty industry. Gabriola Island, BC, Canada: New Society Publishers.
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.
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
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
Book or magazines
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
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.
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
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.
My Cloth and Biodegradable Diapering System (Photo credit: po1yester)
Amazingly I find myself sitting here, very pregnant and contemplating cloth diapers for my soon-to-be newborn. This is something I have given only the briefest consideration in the past. Sure I was aware of some pros to going cloth. But there was one factor I just could not get over: dealing with the poop. So here is my story of how I came to consider this seriously.
First of all I should let you know that my dad worked in environmental safety as his professional career. Why is this important? Let’s just say I was raised with a heavy awareness on how we as people affect the environment and the importance to taking care of the planet (to put it mildly). My father is very passionate about this, and I was fortunate enough to have this passed on to me. Obviously, using disposable diapers and wipes takes a nasty toll on the ecosystem. It is estimated that a child will contribute 8,000-10,000 disposable diapers into the landfill before becoming potty trained. This does not include the use of swim diapers or disposable potty training pants (which, let’s face it, are basically just diapers that go on like underwear). And then it takes hundreds and hundreds of years for these diapers to decompose. But this is something I have known for years, and while it gave me an occasional twinge of guilt, did not sway me to use cloth diapers. Next is the issue of cost.
It costs roughly $2000 to diaper one child for 2 years with disposable diapers. This is not including disposable wipes. It costs approximately $300-400 to diaper a child for 2 years with cloth diapers (of course this number can be much higher or lower depending on the type and material of cloth diapers you wish to use). Again, this is something I was aware of, no surprise there. This still wasn’t enough to sway me. But here are some things I did not know previously.
Have you ever read the directions on a package of disposable diapers? If you are shaking your head thinking that is the dumbest question you have ever been asked, I understand completely. I never had either until recently. But if you check it out, the disposable diapers give the direction to dump fecal matter into the toilet before disposing of the diaper. What?! I thought I was using these to avoid dealing with the poop as much as possible? It turns out I was supposed to be dealing with it all along. There goes my main reason for avoiding cloth diapering. But that is not the factor that tilted the scale for me.
Now maybe you are much smarter and up on things than I am and this will be no surprise to you. I was completely shocked to learn what chemicals are in disposable diapers. Some such chemicals are dioxin, sodium polyacrylate, Tributyl-tin or TBT, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and fragrance which contain phthalates. While the threat of each chemical differs, some are carcinogenic known cancer causers, known to disturb hormones, known to disrupt the endocrine system, known respiratory irritants, and known for potentially causing skin irritation. These are products that are sitting on our children’s most private body parts for hours at a time. Once I learned this, it was a done deal. My aversion to inconvenience could in no way trump the health of my child. Then I began the long process of researching different kinds of cloth diapers and alternatives to disposable wipes.
While I was tempted to beat myself up for not going cloth sooner, at least I am doing it now. And I am not alone. More people seem to be considering cloth than have in decades. I must admit, when the initial box of cloth diapers came and I actually took them out and looked them over, the reality of choosing cloth sank in deeper. This is no longer a great idea on principle. I am actually going to have to deal with the poop and the washing of the diapers. But when it comes to my child’s best interest, it’s a no brainer.
Are you a terrible parent if you choose to use disposable diapers? Of course not; it takes much more time and up-front cost to use cloth. I hope you will at least consider it. Do some research, using the references listed below and others (there are many) before you come to a conclusion. Thanks for reading. Please leave me a comment below with your thoughts on this topic.
Here is a quick and easy recipe for a do it yourself face mask that will leave your skin feeling hydrated and soft. Why spend a ton of money on store bought masks that have harmful chemical ingredients that your skin absorbs? For this you only need four ingredients that you may already have in your kitchen.
What You Will Need:
1 medium sized ripe banana
¼ cup of rolled oats (preferably not quick oats)
Approx. 10 drops of almond oil
1/8 tsp pure vanilla extract (not imitation)
Blender or food processor
Mix all ingredients together in your blender or food processor until well blended and oats are ground. You can adjust the thickness of the mask by adding or subtracting oats. I prefer the consistency to be quite thick as it spreads on easier, but do what works for you. Start with a clean face either just after a bath or after steaming your face to open up pores in preparation for the mask. Use your fingers to spread the mixture relatively evenly over your face. Note that this mask is a bit messy and should be done over a bowl, at a table, or in a shower with a drain catcher. Store any extra mask in the refrigerator (toss out after a week or two). Let sit for 10-20 minutes and then rinse with warm water and a wash cloth. If you have dry skin you may want to moisturize afterward (for oily, combination, or normal skin this most likely will not be necessary).
Who is This Mask For?
This mask is great for most skin types, including dry, normal, combination, oily, and some sensitive skin types. While oatmeal has many calming properties, if you have highly sensitive skin you may want to check with a dermatologist before trying this mask. If you have very oily skin (or if you live in a very hot, humid climate) and you find this mask too hydrating, try reducing the amount of banana used. This mask is great for winter months when everything is drier. If you have acne-prone skin, do not be afraid to try this mask. I have oily, acne-prone skin that is more combination during dry weather and I love this mask. It leaves my skin feeling soft and hydrated but not oily and it has never caused me to break out.
Why These Ingredients?
Banana-very hydrating for the skin!
Oats-soften, trap in moisture, calm the skin
Almond oil-moisturizes, removes dead skin cells, has anti-aging properties
Pure vanilla extract-an antioxidant
Thanks for reading. Please leave me a comment below if you try this mask with how it worked for you and your skin type. Also let me know what masks you enjoy using!
Check out my YouTube video on this where you can see my friend Ruby apply her mask 🙂 :