WHY I’M FEELING FIERCE THIS WEEK (HINT: ELEPHANT JOURNAL)

Yesterday was a big day. An article that I’ve been working on for months was accepted and published by Elephant Journal. This is a really personal piece so I took some time to consider how I wanted to share it with the World. Here on my blog alone just didn’t seem right.

I wanted to propel this one out, which was admittedly extremely scary and vulnerable. My palms were sweaty. I had to text my Mom and ask if I should share it and I didn’t want to, and she told me to go for it and it would be ok, so I did, and it was. Thanks Mom!

The feedback I’ve received overnight has been tremendous and I’m so, so happy that this piece has resonated with so many. People from my past life in clubs and dance music and so many other areas of my life have come out of the woodwork to share how they relate. The positivity is so energizing and inspiring. Proof that dance creates community.

I wanted to get this one out primarily because I’m worried for women. I’m worried for the stress we’re under, the insane standards we (and society) have set for us, the leaders who don’t understand how to lead us and the other women who don’t support or help others succeed. 

I wrote this piece because I’ve seen women do amazing things, and it had nothing to do with their job title or paycheck, but everything to do with their drive to do something to create change and bring joy, health and healing to others, in big or small ways.

I’ve worked with some amazingly talented people who flew under the radar with their greatness because there is a lot of shit working against them and not everyone wants the spotlight. I work in health and wellness and as much as this is an industry run by women it is also an industry inundated with really bad practices and in some cases men who don’t know how to manage us (not all men, and I’ve had my share of bad female managers too!).

The article was originally titled: “Off the Mat, Onto the Dancefloor” because my relationship with yoga is teaching me that being stuck on a square in a roomful of silent people who are stuck in their own heads, trying to burn calories so they look a certain way, or injuring themselves to get into a pose like their favorite insta yoga celebrity, may be keeping us stuck instead of opening us up. Don’t get me wrong, yoga is deeply engrained in me, but I’m worried about the future now that I’ve seen some of the leaders and some of the direction of growth.

Dancing has always taken me out of my head and forced me to be present. When I worked in clubs or went to parties I was able to fully express myself. The women I danced beside are powerful, creative and never apologized. They are fun, thoughtful and extremely loyal, they brought me a lot of joy in a lot of venues, on a lot of nights. I want to see more of that in my industry. I want to see women working together and growing together, not afraid to say no or ask for help. Not being made small. Not trying to be men or succeed based on the status quo, but instead owning who they are, powerful and strong and always embracing what’s ahead, while being grateful for the things that didn’t work out. Being positive when things get rough and dancing like our life and happiness depends on it.

Hope you get out and dance this week! THANK-YOU SO MUCH for reading and sharing <3

PRODUCT LOVE: MY NEW FAVORITE HEALTHY CANDLE

There are a few things that I can’t live without in my home, the first is plants, the second is candles! I have candles in every room and I’m always looking for the perfect combo of fragrance, non-toxic ingredients and long burn time, a trifecta that’s safe for humans and my furry babies, that smells great but doesn’t overdo it. In essence, a healthy candle. Sounds impossible, right?

Enter Locale58. A new candle company based in San Franciso. Co-founder (and super fierce chick) L. T,. reached out and asked if I’d like to try out one of her new candles and write about it. Ummm, yes, please! I was so excited to learn about Locale58’s new line of candles inspired by the West Coast that are made right here in California.

According to the site, the candles are hand poured by two friends (B + L) whose roots run “California deep”. The candles are made from 100% soy wax and come in scents that they feel truly represent different locations in California. L + B’s mission is to share their favorite West Coast spots with people worldwide. Pretty freakin’ awesome IMO!

THE CANDLE

I was sent a “San Francisco” candle that came in a super sweet cotton drawstring bag and I could smell it before I even took it out. The scent is deep and masculine, which I love, and is described as “clean and defined,” which it truly is!

The scent profile for the California candle is: 

High Notes: Cedar

Mid Notes: Tonka Bean (which I’d never heard of, read about it’s awesome smell profile here). 

Low Notes: Amber

I’ve burned the candle several times and it just keeps going, filling my large living room with warmth and a super inviting scent, perfect for Fall and cozy nights in.

ince I don’t always get to speak directly to the creators of products that I love I decided to do a little Q+A with Lexie to get the full scoop!

ME: I’m really getting into essential oils and their amazing benefits, are you using any essential oils in your candles? I’d love to hear more about what’s going into them–without giving away all of your secrets!

L: We are using a blend of fragrance oils, the equation to our candles is wax and a secret fragrance oil.. oh and some love too! 🙂

ME: What is it about the city of San Francisco that evoked these scents (cedar, tonka bean and amber) for you? 

L: When we started working on SF, we picture it would be burning in a San Francisco high-rise in a really industrial penthouse with lots of leather furniture, really cold air, crisp & clean. Primarily in a man’s flat. Hence, the masculine scent. 

ME: Why did you choose soy?

L: Soy Wax is a cleaner burning wax that emits no toxins, carcinogens and pollutants which help reduce risk of allergies. Soy wax also burns at a slower rate than traditional paraffin wax so you get to enjoy your candle 30-50% longer.

I can’t wait to try out the Newport Beach and Los Angeles scents next!

THE FIRST FIVE YEARS

One of my favorite musicals of all time is called The Last Five Years by J. R. BrownI know it by heart and although it’s a sad story, it’s also enduring. Two people tell the story of their five year relationship, she from the end to the beginning and he from the beginning to the end. Sounds confusing, but it’s really lovely. Each tell the story from their point of view and only meet in the middle, where they sing one song together and then are back on the path to their ultimate demise. The point of mentioning this story, and the reason that I think I love it so much is that it accepts and confronts the truth, that marriage is hard, it’s complicated and it’s rarely what you see on social media. It’s getting to know someone more deeply than you ever thought possible. It’s teaching each other things, staying curious and being champions for one another. It’s being vulnerable long past the first few dates and in new ways. It’s good at times, it’s bad at times, but it’s also so rewarding.

Today I’m celebrating five years of marriage with my husband and it’s so amazing to look back on the last nine years of our life together. The places we’ve gone, the journey’s we’ve been on together. The moves we’ve made, the push and pull of two upstaging, ego filled Leo’s trying to share their feelings, work together and understand who we are together. It feels like a lifetime already, but there’s so much more to go. I can’t believe how much we’ve both grown, both together and individually.

I wanted to share a few things that I’ve learned and then I asked my other half, W, to be a guest on this post and share his thoughts as well:

What I’ve learned (and am still working on):

Stop striving for perfection and be present with the person right in front of you. The day after our wedding was a hurricane, not ideal, but oh well, it was still an insanely perfect day.

Growing together and as individuals is equally important.

Meet halfway, and also decide what’s truly worth arguing about. Let it go. Don’t pick fights because you’re scared.

Feed the whale. Before we got married, Wyatt and I did a marriage success course (yep, it’s a real thing and I totally recommend it!) and the thing I remember most is that you have to reward good behavior, that’s especially true for men (their words, not mine :).

Stay curious.

Have integrity. If you say you’ll be there, be there. Make your relationship a priority every day.

Don’t fear change. Thinking that a relationship will ‘change us’ causes us to become guarded. Call it growth instead of change. Growth is inevitable (and amazing) when we choose to share our lives with someone else.

Listen. Seriously. Put your phone down and hear what the other person is saying, be curious, be understanding.

Sometimes going to bed mad isn’t such a bad thing, resolution is often easier after a good nights sleep.

Keep exploring. Each other and the World.

What W’s Learned:

Focus on your own individual happiness. This way you can bring joy and love to your partner when you get to spend time together. 

I consider my wife my best friend, I share everything with her good or bad. This friendship is imperative to our relationship.

Time apart is awesome, every time I’m away from my wife, I miss her – we are independent souls and individualists so this time apart is an important space to create and then get to refill!

Make decisions together and be OK with the answer when it’s NO. The more important decisions you work through as a couple, the stronger the bond. 

Touch each other – even just a pat on the butt or holding hands often – it’s something to remind us that we are sensual beings and to take it easy.

Learn the signs of a bad argument and draw lines around the communication. My wife and I occasionally get stuck and dig our heels into an argument. It’s better to take a walk, blow off steam etc. before saying something that leaves a mark. 

Sex – often, it matters. 

You can’t make the relationship be anything other than what it is. Life is too short to try to change people. I accept my wife and love all the nuanced behavioral traits as a part of what makes her whole.

Explore the world together. For my wife and I, rarely are we as alive as when we are visiting a new country- Romantico!

Be curious, learn about what makes her happy. I often ask to try something out that she’s interested in. Right now we’re cooking Blue Apron together. 

It’s been an awesome journey and I’m so excited for the next five years to come.

GOODBYE 20’S, WELCOME 30’S

This weekend I turned 30 and I’m over the moon excited and so ready to enter this new decade. Not to put any pressure on it, but I have a strong feeling my 30’s are going to be more amazing than my 20’s could’ve ever hoped to be. I’m not sure why everyone is so scared to leave their 20’s? Frankly, I’ve found this past decade to be somewhat unnerving.  I mean you get out of school and everyone is like, ok, you studied something random for four years, now go and be a productive part of society, ok?!  I mean entering the workforce at exactly the moment the economy took a dive has been interesting, to say the least. Plus, apparently I’m a millennial, I get that now and am actually ok with it thanks to this new podcast, the most recent episode, ‘Screw it, I’m going outside,’ basically sums up my career path thus far.

Thirty feels like the age of wisdom, maybe the path will begin to become clear, maybe not, and that feels more ok. NOTHING IS A STRAIGHT LINE! I trust that every step I take and every person I meet is moving me in the right direction.

I have to say, though, when I wrote down everything that I accomplished in my 20’s I realized two things:

  1. I’m really hard on myself. It’s never enough. Why do we do this (ladies, I’m looking at you)?
  2. I actually accomplished a lot and I’m pretty proud of it.
  3. I spend too much time comparing and that is pointless!

30 events that have transpired and lessons I’ve learned in the last decade that have helped shaped me:

  1. Lived in NYC for five glorious years
  2. Worked in theatre in NYC and saw more shows than I can count
  3. Travelled to Spain and Tokyo on my own on my first big adventure that forever changed me
  4. Switched career paths and left theatre to find my calling in health and wellness
  5. Worked for several amazing companies including Wanderlust, Integrative Nutrition and now sweetgreen making friends for life and gaining amazing experience
  6. Met and married a really cool guy that I met in a night club through odd circumstances. The odds were probably against us, but I love him more than ever and we’ve been married five years in August!
  7. Got married in Montauk on the beach
  8. Travelled a ton with above mentioned dude and have had a million incredible experiences with him in Australia, Indonesia, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Japan, Thailand, Hawaii, Mexico and more states than I can count.
  9. Learned that travelling and experiences are the best things to spend money on
  10. Learned that obsessing over food gets you nowhere, balance is everything
  11. Became a health coach
  12. Quit smoking
  13. Lost my Grandma to cancer
  14. Moved coasts twice
  15. Welcomed my niece Anjali into the world
  16. Welcomed my baby sister August into the World and embraced my modern family
  17. Supported my Mom through recovery and my sister through pregnancy
  18. Went to Thailand to deepen my yoga practice and get certified
  19. Taught yoga at my home studio and others in Brooklyn
  20. Did the AIDS walk every year that I lived in NYC
  21. I actually get paid to write for amazing companies and people- what?!
  22. Built this blog and am writing for so many others that I don’t get to write here enough
  23. Wrote a musical about dance music culture
  24. Danced on stage at Red Rocks twice
  25. Danced on stages all over NYC and Denver
  26. Completed the full Landmark Education program
  27. Became a dog mama (twice!)
  28. Worked at Wanderlust festivals around the US and Canada, practiced with the greatest teachers and made the most amazing connections and friends
  29. Realized the importance of keeping the good people close and losing the ones that don’t build you up, inspire you and help you grow.
  30. Learned the importance of self-care!

This exercise of looking back was really powerful for me and a great reminder that we never give ourselves enough credit, never appreciate all of the work that we’re doing, all of the growth that we’re experiencing, all of the lives we’re impacting. Is every day perfect? No! Not by a long shot. Honestly, some days I want to just give up, I get worn out and anxious, I wonder what all of the hard work is for, but it’s coming, I know it is, and it’s so exciting to think about the possibilities.

quote

In my 30’s I’d like to give back more, find a company that I can really grow with (or create my own), extend our family, become a gardener, spend more time with friends and so much more TBD…

SISTER TRIP TO PLAYA MUJERES + A LOW SUGAR MOJITO RECIPE

The last couple of months have been really busy (indicated by my lack of new posts, oof)! I’ve been working almost non-stop, but thankfully my sister C is a super planner and she forced me to book a sister trip to Mexico several months in advance to celebrate our 30th b-day coming up in July. She truly is the Yin to my Yang and so glad she made me lock in a date as we were both very ready for a break when the trip finally came.

As most of my readers know I travel a lot but C has a 2-year old and works full-time so she hasn’t been anywhere in WAY  too long so I let her pick the spot she wanted to go and she chose Playa Mujeres in Mexico. Near Cancun, this was a much longer trip than Cabo for us, but well worth the long travel day!

Playa Mujeres is about 30 minutes from the Cancun airport and we both flew in around the same time so we were off the plane and on the beach in about an hour, pretty awesome! We’ve both been to nearby Playa Del Carmen and Tulum and heard great things about the beaches and warm water and were happy with a less party-centric vibe, so we were super excited to check it out and have a stress-free week of sunning, lounging and eating.

Resort Highlights

We chose to stay at Excellence Playa Mujeres, one of three resorts owned by the same company on a long stretch of literally perfect white sand beach. Excellence is adults only and has insane reviews on Yelp so it seemed like an obvious choice, and overall, we had an amazing experience.

Rooms, Pools and Spa

The rooms are all similar in layout (or so we heard), but vary in location. In such a large resort there are several buildings that are a good walk from the beach, ours was one of those, but was right on the lazy river pool (see below) which was so peaceful and relaxing. We were also really close to the spa and gym so no complaints there! Rooms closer to the main building, beach and large pools are presumably much louder and less private but do offer a quicker trip to the beach. But let’s be honest, a few more steps on vacay never hurt anyone!

Our room was so nice, had a beautiful balcony, big whirlpool hot tube, giant bathroom and nice couch for lounging. The only downside was the terrible wi-fi, but it was kind of nice to disconnect! If you’re going for a honeymoon or big anniversay I’d say it’s worth the splurge for the first floor rooms with swim up access to the lazy river and private sun beds, but otherwise you’ll be happy in any room!

Deciding where to chill each day was a challenge…

We spent a few days laying on the beach and the water was a perfect temp, plus, the kayaks were free to take out which provided some nice afternoon exercise.

We also loved the spa! Each treatment starts with a hydrotherapy experience, similar to a Scandinavian spa with different temperature pools, a sauna and steam room to loosen you up before your massage.

Food in Review

Not gonna lie, all-inclusive resorts tend to make me a bit nervous, I’ve had not so great experiences before and as someone who tries to eat well, even on vacation, usually the food leaves a lot to be desired and is super greasy, processed and not very fresh. At Excellence I was really pleasantly surprised. With ten different restaurants on the property there is certainly plenty of choice.

C and I really loved that the portions were very small, after all, it’s super easy to overeat on vacation and the homemade bread alone was enough to make us super full. Our favorite restaurants were Basmati for Indian food, Toscana for both the fresh breakfast and lunch buffet (you know I love breakfast), and Spice for the Hibachi, Teppenyaki dinner, which is the only meal that has to be reserved. We also loved the Mexican restaurant with an open ceiling and amazing singer and guitarist who sang authentic songs throughout dinner. Most people also loved Chez Isabelle, the upscale French restaurant, and we liked it, but found it pretty heavy, plus, the wait was over an hour and we both hate going to bed super full.

Regarding booze, the options were pretty vast and the bars abundant. Apparently, you can get top shelf booze in the Excellence club, but C doesn’t drink and I didn’t want to overdo it, so we stuck with the basics. My favorite was a mojito called the Hemingway (sans sugar), I’ve put the recipe below, it was a really unique combo and dangerously tasty!

Day Trip to Isla Mujeres

One of our favorite parts of the trip was a day trip to Isla Mujeres on a catamaran. Isla Mujeres is just beginning to gain popularity (or so it seems), although, Playa Norte, has been named one of the top beaches in Mexico and it certainly didn’t disappoint. We started with a brief snorkel and were bummed that we couldn’t go to the Musa Museo an underwater art museum created after the last hurricane in the area to help re-build the reef. After the snorkel we docked near the downtown area and rented a golf cart to ride around the island, such a fun way to take a spin. The best stop by far is the turtle farm sanctuary founded by a fisherman to help protect sea turtles. Next stop was an amazing overlook to get a fresh coconut water and then the mayan goddess statues of which the island was named for.

In Closing…

While I generally prefer to travel farther afield from the all-inclusive realm to really experience all that a place has to offer Playa Mujeres was a really nice opportunity to just disconnect, completely relax and be pampered. We were able to workout in the nice gym, do a yoga and zumba class, swim and eat whenever we felt like it and that’s pretty freakin’ awesome!

Have you been to Playa Mujeres? Would love to hear what you loved here or on Facebook!

HEMINGWAY MOJITO RECIPE (SANS ADDED SUGAR)

Ingredients:

6 fresh mint leaves

Juice of 1 lime

Club Soda

1 shot Bacardi Limon

3 oz. champagne

Sprig of fresh mint, for garnish

To Make:

Step 1: In a rocks glass, add the mint leaves and lime juice. Muddle to release the mint oil.

Step 2: Add the rum and fill the glass 3/4 full with ice. Add a quick splash of club soda and top off with the champagne. Garnish with the mint sprig.

6 REASONS TO STOP WAXING AND START SUGARING

Waxing is really unpleasant, if you’ve ever tried it you’re no stranger to the pain. If you haven’t, good for you, way to #embracethebush. I’ve been waxing on and off for many years, mostly because my skin is sensitive and razors are a no-go on my bikini zone, not mention, just like a mani/pedi hair removal is a necessity for bikini season and I love a good trip to the beach!

The thing about wax is it’s not a gentle method, at all. Regardless of whether your esthetician is using a hard or soft wax you’re going to experience some serious pain, redness and possibly blisters and bumps for at least 24 hours. Different salons use different methods, some preferring hard over soft wax, or vice versa, but it doesn’t really seem to matter and taking advil won’t help, sorry.

What is sugaring?

I was recently prompted by a health coach in Oakland to try sugaring for the first time and was curious to try it out when she told me it was a more natural alternative. After doing some research for this article I found that there really isn’t a lot of information out there about the process, which is weird because it’s been around since 1900 BC when the Persians started using it! Regardless, I was ready to give it a try. A quick Google search only brought up a few sugaring services in my area and I chose Yung who was totally amazing! Yung let me know that not many aestheticians use the sugaring method because it takes much longer to learn and making/using the paste isn’t nearly as straightforward as normal waxing methods. In fact, in France they go through two years of schooling just to learn it! Yung also said she did a lot of trial and error on friends and family before working on clients… brave souls.

The Process

After my first session, I can see why the price point is slightly higher–the whole process is much more bearable. So what’s the difference? First, sugaring paste is kind of like a blob of wax and the same piece is used for the whole session. It’s placed on one spot and then pulled in the same direction as hair growth, helping to fully remove the hair follicles. The session took a bit longer than my usual wax would, but that’s primarily because I was asking a million questions. Based on what I learned from Yung and my research it turns out there are a lot of reasons to try sugaring vs. waxing, here are a few:

  1. Cleaner ingredients: Wax is usually full of toxic ingredients like preservatives, resins and chemicals that can cause rashes and bumps, especially when used on sensitive skin. Sugaring paste, on the other hand, is generally made of just a few ingredients including water, sugar and lemon juice and may contain cornstarch, honey or molasses, with the worst ingredient I could find was guar gum.
  2. Less ingrown hairs: Sugaring removes dead skin cells helping prevent ingrown hairs from growing in. The sugar can also be used over the same place several times to ensure removal of small stubborn hairs that cause problems later. Finally, unlike wax, sugaring isn’t as likely to break the hair and cause it to get stuck under the skin.
  3. No sticky residue: Unlike wax, sugaring paste doesn’t contain resins that stick to skin and therefore won’t need to be removed with a chemical solvent (gross!). You’ll leave your sugaring appointment with no wax pieces leftover and skin will become calmer more quickly because the skin is less damaged.
  4. No Burns/Infections: Wax is often overheated and can result in burns and scarring to the skin, especially if it’s left on too long. Some women have also reported infections occurring in the bikini zone which happens when bacteria gets into open hair follicles. To top it off, wax is also often cross contaminated with bacteria because of double dipping. Since one blob of sugar is used for the entire sugaring session no contamination is possible, making the experience cleaner and producing less waste.
  5. Slower re-growth: Sugaring doesn’t require the hair follicle to be as long as it needs to be for waxing. Getting ‘sugared’ every three weeks for the first few treatments will help to extract the hair at it’s earliest growth phase, which can lead to permanent hair removal.
  6. Less Pain: Ok, there is still some pain, but I found sugaring a lot less intense. My waxer told me this is because she’s pulling smaller sections than traditional wax would. Alternatively, the sugaring paste seeps into the hair follicle, lubricating it and making extraction less painful, grabbing the hair from the root and quickly removing, with less disturbance to the skin.

I’m only a couple of weeks post my first sugaring experience, but so far I’m impressed. I have less ingrown hairs and my skin was much softer and less aggravated after. In just a few hours it was totally back to normal. Apparently, you can even make your own sugaring paste at home… I think I’ll let the pros handle it for now!  Have you tried sugaring? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

CREATING A TEA EXPERIENCE WITH THE EXPERTS AT FAR LEAVES TEA

When I think of making and drinking tea I get warm + fuzzy feelings from my childhood. Memories of my mom making herbal tea before bed, having a conversation with my Grandma over a cup of green tea, and growing up in the mountains, I enjoyed countless cups of hot tea after a long day in the snow. As I’ve grown up (and required more caffeine) I’ve developed a true love of coffee as well, but have realized that too much coffee is not good for me. The high caffeine makes me anxious and twitchy, and as my passion for health and wellness grows so does my love of tea and its many benefits. 

Although I still love a good cup of coffee, especially iced when the weather warms, I’ve really re-started my exploration of tea, and have Amy and the Far Leaves Tea team to thank! Tea time is sacred time. “Traditionally called “Cha Dao”, or the Dao of Tea, it is the harmony of tea, water, utensils, preparation, environment and conversation to create the perfect moment–a moment that can last for hours.”(2) Far Leaves  places a strong emphasis on this process and by taking part in a few tea tastings and watching them put their heart and soul into the tea process. So basically, I’ve been doing it all wrong, tea is a lot more than tea bag in tea cup! I am so excited to to take my tea drinking to the next level and dive in head first!

Here are nine important ‘tea experience best practices’ that I’ve learned in my explorations as a tea newbie:

  1. Invest in the right pot: Not all pots are created equal and finding the right one for you can require some testing and research. In terms of size, buying a larger or smaller pot will depend on how much tea you’re drinking during the day and whether or not you like to make tea for large groups of friends. Tea pots are made from several different materials as well; from cast iron to clay to glass and each has it’s own pros and cons. Far Leaves recommends glass tea pots as they allow the drinker to see the color of the tea they’re drinking and for pourability (see #3). My husband bought me a gorgeous cast iron pot for Christmas (see photo) and I absolutely love the aesthetic of it it, plus it keeps my tea warm for a long time!
  2. Water quality matters: I’m always preaching the importance of good, clean water and that rule still applies when it comes to making a perfect pot of tea. Start your brew with fresh, filtered water to really bring out the truest flavor in the leaves and avoid adding minerals and chlorine.
  3. Don’t pour poorly: See what I did there? Pouring method is really important and lends to the overall experience of tea drinking. During my tastings with the Far Leaves team I learned how to properly pour from a glass teapot with a large handle; hold the pot up high and gently rotate your wrist to to create an even pour, allowing the air and water mix for a lovely smell and perfect pour into your cup. According to Far Leaves, to properly pour tea “Pay attention not to drip, distribute the tea equally to all those who are present and pour tea for yourself last.”
  4. Reuse! Don’t waste your leaves: Tea leaves vs. tea bags allow you to re-brew the same leaves 2-3 times so remember to save leaves after the first steep and simply add them back in when you’re ready for round two!
  5. Ditch the bag: Although using a tea bag may be an easy method, it’s not the best way to drink tea. Tea bags break down tea leaves, resulting in less well-rounded flavors and are often left in the cup too long resulting in over steeping and bitterness.
  6. Temperature matters: Different teas require different water temperature to create the ideal brew. Through trial and error you’ll find the right temps for your favorite teas but here’s a quick guide to start you out:
  • White + Green Teas: 170-185°F
  • Oolong Tea: 180-190°F
  • Black + Herbal Teas: Full boil 208-212 °F

       7. Use a Timer: According to a British study, only 16% of tea drinkers steep their tea for the correct amount of time, and the British know their tea! While tea steeping is largely a matter of preference, be sure to do some research for your preferred tea type.

8.  Know the origin: Knowing where your tea leaves come from and whether or not they are organic is extremely important, but can be tricky to prove. If pesticides are used on tea leaves they’re generally not rinsed before drying, washing the pesticides right into your cup, yuck! Far Leaves places a strong emphasis on the sourcing and farming practices of their teas, and have trusted sources in China and Japan dedicated to keeping the taste and quality of the tea while skipping  the use of pesticides.

9.  Slow Down and Enjoy: This is the most important part of any tea ceremony and where the real benefits lie! Taking time              out of your day to spend with friends or family over a pot of tea is extremely important. We never make take the time to                  slow down and relax and the process of brewing, pouring and enjoying tea is the perfect opportunity to do so!

My Favorite flavors: Herbal (PM)- Lemongrass Medley | Green (AM)- Lavender White | Black (AM or afternoon)- Rose Grey

Read more about the insane health benefits of tea here, and if you’re in Berkeley, check out the Far Leaves tea room and share your favorite teas in the comments

**Far Leaves provided me with samples but as always my opinions are my own.

Resources:

  1. http://www.buzzfeed.com/ailbhemalone/milk-first-then-tea#.wlNWmexMd
  2. http://www.traditionalstudies.org/the-art-of-chinese-tea/

WHY ROSE IS ALL THE RAGE AND 6 FRESH PRODUCTS TO TRY

In case you haven’t noticed, rose is so hot right now, Pantone even named Rose quartz this year’s color of the year. While I don’t really care for pink or ever wear it due to my bright red hair color, I will admit that my bathroom counter is getting extremely crowded with rose oil beauty products. Rose has been used in beauty products for hundreds of years, dating back to the Greek and Romans who used rose petals in their baths, cosmetics, medicines and herbal remedies, but we’re really only just beginning to see the benefits of this super flower.

I’ve been using rose oil products on my skin for several months now and I’ve noticed a huge difference! I have acne prone skin and the antibacterial properties in rose help to keep bacteria at bay while also toning and moisturizing my skin all day and improving my skin tone. Rose is also known to help protect and repair skin from sun damage which I could definitely use after my years of tanning bed use. 

Here are some of my favorite natural rose products right now:

  1. Osmia Organics Rose Clay Facial Soap: With hydrating pink clay plus rose and geranium oils this soap creates an amazing lather, lasts forever and will leave your skin hydrated and smelling great!
  2. Acure Moroccan Argan Oil- Rose: This stuff has some serious super powers. I’ve tried a lot of oils and my skin reacts best to Argan, it’s the right mix of moisture and helps improve skin’s tone and texture, I’m obsessed. This one is awesome because it utilizes the healing and soothing powers of three potent botanicals: rose, lemongrass and geranium. Boom!
  3. Dr. Bronner’s Rose Soap: If you haven’t tried Dr. Bronner’s soaps you’re missing out. This Castile soap basically does it all, (and the bottle will tmi you all about it!) it’s super moisturizing and gentle enough for your face and body. The rose will tone skin while Castile soap is super moisturizing. The smell is really deep and nice to wake up to in the morning and lingers in the shower.
  4. Inflora Botanica Rosewater Mist: You can tell if you’re getting a really quality rose product because of the scent and deep amber color and this rosewater is the real deal. I happened to find this product while wandering around a little local holiday fair in Oakland and although I wasn’t in the market for skin products I’m so glad the sweet lady I spoke to convinced me to try it out.  I bought both the oil and mist and they work really well together because the mist helps the oil absorb into the skin. This product comes from Turkey where the roses are hand-picked and distilled in copper and the product is 100% organic. Added bonus: it’s also really inexpensive!
  5. Nectar Vital Rose Drop by Osmia Organics: I got this product in my first Beauty Heroes box and am loving this little super hero. It’s the second Osmia product on here because their stuff just rules, it’s so well formulated and really works. Adding a few drops of this oil makes your moisturizer or serum more powerful so a little bit goes a long way! The combo of rose and sandalwood in here is so lovely as well!
  6. doTERRA Rose Essential Oil: doTERRA oils are my fave and the rose is so lovely, everyone needs it in their oil arsenal! Rose oil has so many uses, you can add it to your favorite base oil like coconut, avocado, sesame, argan or whatever else you’re in to. As with the other products listed here the rose oil helps to balance moisture levels, even skin tone and heal imperfections and diffusing the oil can even promote feelings of vitality and energy in the am. Yes, please!

Do you use any rose products? What’s your favorite?

FIERCE LIST: V-DAY GIFT GUIDE 2016

Last year I shared my Valentine’s gift guide from Cabo San Lucas Mexico, where I was warm and loving some quality time with my hubby! This year feels completely different, but also very special, I’m writing this from my amazing home in the Oakland hills, feeling a lot of love for life. I fallen in love with some new products this year and also have some old faves coming back in to my life. Check out the list below for the perfect gift for yourself or the special person in your life!

  1. Far Leaves Tea Gift Set ($80)The perfect gift for the tea lover (or tea novice) in your life. Far Leaves emphasis the art of tea and after one tasting with them I was hooked on their high quality and super flavorful teas. This amazing glass pot truly takes your tea game to the next level and the gift set is wrapped in a hand stitched tea towel, so dang cute! The Jasmine green tea is beyond potent so it’s a great option for those looking to avoid coffee but need that caffeine fix.
  2. Aritzia Faux Fur Vest ($50): Real fur is an obvious no-no in my book, who wants to wear cruelty on their body? Gross! That’s why I love this Aritzia faux fur vest. I bought it when the sale started after Christmas and now it’s even more discounted. This kind of reminds me of my raver days with the big hood but it’s (thankfully) much classier, sits at the perfect length and is the most beautiful color.
  3. W3ll People Gift Set ($75)I discovered this makeup line about a year ago and I’ll never look back. WP foundations and lip glosses come in lots of tones and last all day! They’re now selling the line in Target stores too, YES!!
  4. Osmia Organics Black Clay Facial Soap ($24)This amazing Colorado created soap came in to my life about four months ago and I absolutely love it! As I’ve mentioned before I’m done treating my skin like crap with chemicals and other toxic ingredients and now I’m all about simplicity. This soap combines Black Australian Clay and Dead Sea Mud that tones, cleanses and nourishes skin without over drying. The bar is tiny so it’s easy to travel with but lasts forever! This company is going to make big waves!
  5. Marisa Mason Summer land Earrings ($115)Because I love summer and gold, these are clearly a must have. These can be dressed up or dressed down and will make a boring outfit pop!
  6. Matt & Nat Central Bordeaux Wallet ($70): I’ve loved Matt & Nat since my days of working in retail. The company has been around for a long time and the quality and design of their products has continued to grow year over year. Every bag and wallet is 100% vegan and the company is serious about ethics and sustainability. No animal products are used in their designs, instead, they use recycled nylon, cork and rubber.

If all else fails, check out these insanely cute (and funny) cards.

I HAD A SPIRIT GUIDE READING AND HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED

Remember The Wonder Years theme song about getting help from your friends? I love the premise of that song, we all need guidance sometimes and lately I’ve been feeling like a little support may be just what the doctor ordered. Afterall, I have some super exciting stuff going on and really feel that I’m closer than ever to my calling, but sometimes the messages are unclear and my energy scattered. My brain is often super busy questioning if I’m on the right track and doing what I “should be” doing. Sound familiar? If not, please share your secrets! Anyways, I shared this feeling with my friend Emily at brunch recently. Emily is a manager at Lululemon and an amazing life crafter, goal-setter, manifester type chick, who sent me the name and phone number of a woman named K who does spirit readings. K only corresponds via text until your phone call, which I found to be at first since my job is to market health and wellness and I can’t imagine having just referrals create a business, umm, wow! But, after setting up my appointment (2 weeks out) I thought, ok, this chick must be doing something right.

THE READING

I’d consider myself a dabbler in the spiritual world. I’ve worked with coaches, done crystal skull healing in Mexico, numerology, tarot cards and I draw Art of Attention cards daily. However, there is still so much out there that I haven’t tried so I couldn’t wait to learn more about those forces around me that “have my back”, so to speak.

The entire week leading up to my reading I was so excited for it, I had a great feeling and was energized by the experience. Thursday was a busy day and I just barely made it home in time to pick up the phone and call K, but when she picked up I immediately felt relaxed,  in tune and focused; K is soft, warm and lighthearted with a really genuine laugh. We started by breathing together to ground ourselves in the present moment and then she asked me to say my name out loud three times and start thinking about my life and questions that I have, but not to say them out loud as she wants to gather the information from the reading. As usual, my brain was flooded with a million thoughts, mostly future focused and probably largely fear based. I thought of my husband and my dogs, my career and our lovely new life in Oakland as well.

Loud sound in the background– cards being shuffled. K asked me to tell her when to stop. I barely had to think and said, ‘now,’ I was sure.

K began talking, a lot, and really fast. I was writing furiously, I’m a chronic note taker. She said the spirits were very active and had a lot to share, she seemed to be having two conversations. One with me, and one with them. She said there was a sadness around my heart, a sense of loss, a scattered energy. Hmmm. She said it’s not a person, but maybe a place, a home, people. Looking too much in the past. Yep, that’s NYC. I guess I am still mourning my loss of that home and all of the inspiration I left there.

She spoke of my marriage; ‘you’re both looking in the same direction’, that’s good! 

And the most poignant part of the call was on the second shuffle of the deck when she spoke of my purpose. This was it, what I really wanted to know. I’m here to share knowledge, to teach, and do so through a creative outlet which has always been dance, cooking and especially writing. She said this calling will eventually bring me money!( What?! For real? Great!) She continued–You are a story weaver, a creator, and have a great piece of work inside of you. She said, ‘The spirits say this year you will get your wish, but you’ll need to plan for it and I see a lot of work in your future!” At this point I’m totally on-board and excited– “yes, ok, great, amazing!” Finally, she says, you’ll encounter bumps, but your guides want to remind you that you’re EXACTLY where you need to be. Who doesn’t need to hear that from time to time?

AN INTRO TO YOUR SPIRIT GUIDES

Another fascinating part of the reading is being introduced (unless you’re lucky enough to be tapped in already) to your spiritual guides and angels. K said, “we call them angels because we envision them protecting us, wrapping their wings around us, we can relate to that imagery, but really, I don’t see wings, I see energy, they wrap us in energy”. I did further research after and read another definition that resonated: ‘ Spirit Guide is a non-physical entity that is usually seen as the higher self, an angel, a highly evolved being or group of higher beings, their main purpose is to help protect the individual, assist in spiritual development or even provide a source of inspiration.” Pretty cool, right?

K described my spirit guides to me and my primary guide, the one that was most present during the reading had a male presence, although “spirits are sexless”, she added. K told me my guides were adamant that I wasn’t asking for help enough, “but I didn’t even know I could,” I protested”! She advised me to start asking in small ways, to build the muscle so to speak. Ask for a parking spot, ask for advice on a tough decision, ask for a miracle! Done and done.

This call was personal, moving and emotional, she said things about my future, my husband and my possibilities that moved me and held so much truth. During and after the call I felt a strange vibration and excitement, like I was winning the lottery, and I still feel that way a few days later. Some parting words of advice I received were, “Let your path unfold, get quiet, focus on the third chakra (the source of power, self-esteem, transformation), breath and get calm to hear the answers within you, listen to your deep intuition, because it is in you.” My spirits insist that there is never a right time to take a leap, so you just have to go for it, do it and trust. We are all here for a specific purpose, we have a contract to fulfill and it’s so important that we each go for it!  She said, “when you’re doing what you’re meant to do it will just flow out of you”.  Funny, I wrote this piece like my hands were on fire. I feel good, alive and reaffirmed in my mission to spread the love, light and wisdom in whatever ways I can.