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

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/

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. 

LEARN ABOUT VOOLUU: BRAND NEW AND SUPER FRESH!

’m really excited to announce that I’ve joined the team at Vooluu as a brand ambassador! This is kind of a strange new world for me because I’ve literally said no to selling a million products. You name it, I’ve been hit up to sell it. Honestly though, the fact the people even consider me a health and wellness ‘influencer’ is seriously flattering and I’m certainly not complaining! However, I am extremely wary of multi-level marketing, I really appreciate everyone that reads my words here and I only want to advise you to buy things that I seriously know and love and trust and love.

Here’s the story…

Vooluu reached out to me after finding my blog and I did some research and spoke with the founder and was honestly blown away by the commitment of this team; not only in their ability to find me in a sea of bloggers, (what?) but also in the extreme integrity they have around product sourcing, development and goals. This team is legit! They have communicated clearly, picked an amazing group of ambassadors including athletes, health coaches, bloggers and influencers, and have really given us all of the resources that we could possibly need to really understand the product and talk about it.

Vooluu is focused on two key products (with more coming soon!):

1. All in One Green Protein Shake:

  • Superfood nourishment featuring plant & sea based proteins
  • Immune-boosting mycelium blend
  • Live probiotics & enzymes
  • Free of dairy, added sugar, soy, gluten and GMO ingredients
  • Provides a completely balanced amino acid profile
  • 100% organic
  • Get your daily dosage of greens, micronutrients and proteins — all in one shake!

2. 100% Organic Dark Chocolate Crunch Bars: 

Chocolate is a necessary part of life, if you don’t agree, you should stop following my blog.

High Fiber • High Protein • Complex Carbohydrates • Calcium, Manganese • Zinc • Iron • B vitamins • Phosphorus, Antioxidants • Omega 3 & 6 • Vitamin E • Trace Minerals • All 9 Essential Amino Acids • Tryptophan • Copper • High Folate Choline

Essential Ingredients:

  • Chia Seeds: Originally from South America, chia seeds are packed with superior nutrition. Unlike flax seeds, they’re absorbable by your body in whole form.
  • Hemp Seeds: A high protein seed with all essential amino acids.
  • Buckwheat Groats: Even though it looks like a grain, buckwheat is a fruit seed that is related to the rhubarb plant, making it a great alternative to wheat.

Even better? I’ll also be writing on Vooluus blog about superfoods, healthy lifestyle and I recently wrote about not sacrificing flavor and nutritional density which is unfortunately often the case with protein powders and green drinks. I also wrote about the amazing benefits of medicinal mushroomswhich made me want to go mushroom hunting!

I can’t recommend these products enough, when I drink the green powder in the morning I feel amazing all day long and the chocolate is such a nice (and healthy) treat! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out!

TRAVELING AUSTRALIA: A GLIMPSE AT SYDNEY AND THE PERFECT WHITSUNDAY ISLANDS

When I was a kid my dream was to travel to Australia. For a few years I even collected koala bears and kangaroos in a variety of forms, from stuffed to porcelain and also started a piggy bank to save up. For some reason life got in the way and we never made it but finally, over a decade later I made it to the land down under and it was more amazing than I could have ever imagined! 10 days in Australia is just not enough. Choosing the perfect destinations was hard, to say the least, but we made a decision and got some great advice on must sees. We began our trip in Sydney and then headed up to the Whitsunday Islands and it was hard to choose what to highlight!

SYDNEY

There is a ton to see and do in Sydney, I had no idea what to expect, I only know a few people who have ever been so I had to do some digging for the top sites, not only tourist attractions but also more local, and of course, the best food!

We stayed at the Shangri-La in an area called “The Rocks”, on a hill above Circular Quay (pronounced Key), which is the popular harbor that you’ve probably seen photos of. The hotel was really beautiful and the view of the entire harbor was incredible. I was alone for the first few days of my trip, so I really got to explore my way aka see everything possible and walk everywhere! I wear my husband out with all my walking, seeing and doing, so it’s always nice to have a little bit of time alone to just wander and think and envision and explore, there’s nothing like it!

The Rocks is really interesting. It’s the most historical area in Sydney and holds a lot of historical buildings and interesting architecture but is also a hip nightlife spot and sits next to the cruise ship docks. I noticed equal numbers of tourists and locals flocking, here which gave it a much more authentic and local vibe.

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia 

On day one in the height of my jet lagged unconsciousness I wandered out to the Museum of Contemporary Arts “Artbar” because I’d been told earlier in the day that the theme was Mad Max style dystopia and there would be rooftop drinks and DJ’s etc. I’m so glad that I went, it was really cool to see amazing art in a really interesting setting with some crazy costumes (pics here to see what I mean) and cool curation! I don’t know much about modern art (except that the creepy movie rooms scare me) but this museum, and the event especially were very unique, not to mention the view from the rooftop was absolutely incredible.

HUNTER VALLEY WINE COUNTRY:

Just 2.5  hours from the city is the beautiful Hunter Valley known widely for it’s Semillon production along with other varietals (Yep, fancy words, I know my wines…wink). Anyways, our guide Flynders (seen in the photo lying on the ground) was really fantastic and I got to meet some great people, primarily Americans living in Sydney, but also a German and young European couple who had been working on an organic farm, amazing! The wines were also great! Unlike wine country in the U.S. these wineries were much smaller and more laid back. We tasted several wines at each stop and then were invited inside to try anything else from the list that we liked; this made for a long day, especially since we also stopped at a chocolate  factory, vodka tasting room and cheese tasting room, OMG!

BONDI BEACH

Bondi Beach is really well known as a hotspot year round but we were lucky to be there during the Sculptures By The Sea exhibit with hundreds of works of art created by artists from around the World. There were so many stunning works and I’ve added a few of my favorites below, but I definitely recommend you check them all out on the website.

MANLY BEACH

I ventured out to Manly on my third solo day and I’m so glad that I did! The boat was jam packed with locals headed to catch some waves for the day. After a 40-minute ride we pulled up to the docks and I was really confused because I didn’t see any waves at all, in fact, just the opposite, totally calm mellow water. However, I quickly caught on that all of the hoards of people were crossing the street and walking along an amazing wide street lined with adorable boutiques, ice cream shops and cafes that led to the other side of the island which was indeed the total opposite. Rough, wavy, windy and full of surfers. Manly felt like a perfect beach town. I met an American nanny who asked about my shoes and we walked together for awhile while she told me her story. Next I did some shopping and enjoyed lunch at a small restaurant where plants grew on the walls and everyone was in a swimsuit, I loved Manly and could’ve stayed longer. If you go, you should try to spend a day or two there.

BLUE MOUNTAINS (AKA NO MOUNTAINS DUE TO RAIN):

Our Blue Mountain trip wasn’t all of the mountainous wonder that we’d envisioned when signing up. But, it was still a good time. This just so happened to be the same day of the Melbourne Cup, an event that seemingly all of Australia takes the day off for. Much like the Kentucky Derby, everyone puts on big hats and goes to a bar to drink all day. A local explained that each year there is one big race and many small ones, and this year a female jockey won the big race for the first time ever, pretty amazing! We also paid a visit to scenic world with many, many squealing Japanese tourists (my fave) and very little scenery. Finally, the highlight of the day, a trip to a wildlife park to say hello to some Australian wildlife! This was so much fun. We got to pat a koala bear on the booty (as instructed) and feed some wallabies. We also got to check out other native animals that I’d dreamed about seeing forever!

ONE & ONLY HAYMAN ISLAND & THE GREAT BARRIER REEF

…Skip to Wyatt and I re-uniting, heading back to the airport, flying to Hamilton Island. I have to start with thanking my friend Kelly for this amazing intel. I had never heard of the Whitsunday Islands until she told me I should check it out. Kelly basically said these were the best beaches she’d ever seen and I was sold! I’ve seen some great beaches so I was ready to be totally wowed!

The One & Only experience is just like it sounds, completely one of a kind. (p.s. they are not sponsoring this post, but I’d gladly come back :). We disembarked the plane at the tiny airport on Hamilton and stopped by the O&O desk and that’s it, they got our bags, led us to our taxi (a yacht) and we were on our way to paradise. We also got champagne for the trip, not a bad deal! Hayman Island is a tiny chunk of land that is super secluded and private for hotel guests only. The resort was recently renovated and is completely beautiful and luxurious. When the boat docked at Hayman there were golf carts waiting to take us to the main building and there each guest got their own guide to give us a tour and complete the super brief check-in to our room. Because we were celebrating our anniversary, we also had chocolate and more champagne waiting in our room. I was overwhelmed to say the least. This is why we go on yearly honeymoons, married life is hard!

Our stay was so magical. Giant breakfasts every morning, easeful but active days in which we took long walks out on the sand flats, laid in comfy beach chairs or big beanbags in the pool, took sunset hikes and a kayak snorkel trip and finally went to the Great Barrier Reef to Snorkel! I wrote a ton about the reef for GLDMNE, you can read that here, and I will here say I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m usually a wary snorkler but this felt so free and wide open. There is nothing around the reef so coming upon it by boat was remarkable, the water so clear you can see the fish and turtles right through it.

Leaving Australia was not easy! I felt very at home in this place across the globe which didn’t surprise me since every Australian I’d ever met has been so kind and generous. Hopefully we’ll make it back again some day and if you’re planning a visit I hope this will help you choose some great sites to see!

PERFECT MOTHER’S DAY GIFT: HEALTHY SUBSCRIPTION BOXES

Mother’s Day is almost here and I’m always the most last minute shopper! I LOVE the Moms in my life and want to spoil them so this year I checked out a bunch of healthy subscription boxes that are so cool and full of amazing goodies! These make amazing gifts because they keep on giving for months and the receiver will get to try out tons of fun stuff that they may not usually buy for themselves. Also, if you’re trying to get your Mom on the healthy bandwagon this could be a very sneaky way to ease them in. I think my personal favorite on the list is Raw Spice Bar which I’m testing out in the next couple of weeks and can’t wait to write about. Stay tuned and check the list and let me know which are your favorites cause let’s be honest, I haven’t picked one yet! Click here for the full list!

FRESH: SKIN CLEANSE BOOK LOVE PLUS A BRIEF LIFE UPDATE

This week a few of my favorite lady bloggers have been getting real and honest on the heavy stuff that is going on for them in their lives. It almost feels like something has been in the air lately and everyone is going through some intense stuff, or probably more accurately, they’re going through life. My friend Shannon talked about the realness of marriage (of which I can certainly relate), my friend Julia about her isolation having moved away from friends and family and my favorite DJ Tasha Blank was talking about a block in her creative energy. This is an interesting week to read these three topics as I’m feeling each of them so strongly myself. As a creative person I often get really stuck in my head and overwhelmed by everything that’s going on in my life. This week has been so intense mentally and emotionally, I’ve been waiting for big news and it’s had me anxious and unable to concentrate. I’ve been writing a lot for my freelance clients but it’s taking me forever to get anything done.  The good news is I’m very happy to have accepted a job offer and I’m finally done dealing with the nightmare that is job hunting. This round has been a huge learning experience and very different than the East Coast mentality of get it done, I’ve had some trials and tribulations, but I’m SO excited about my new job, and I can’t wait to get back in the swing of things, meeting new people and not working at home 100%! Hooray!!

Switching gears, but actually kind of related because self care and taking care of yourself is ever present, today I want to talk about an awesome new book that is a must read for anyone who cares about their skin; Adina G’s Skin Cleanse. Adina is also an Integrative Nutrition grad and the brains behind SW Basics, a line of skin care crafted for those that are tired of chemically enhanced products and want to get back to well, the basics.

I’ve suffered with acne and skin issues basically all my life. In middle school my cystic acne got so bad I went on my first round of Accutane (aka teenage poison), which did treat the symptoms of my acne, but not the root.  I did a little search for this post and found out that Accutane was taken off market in 2009 (thank goodness) but you can still get generic versions. I also found that it was originally marketed as a chemotherapy drug, WOW, what?! Seriously scary stuff.  I link a lot of my anxiety issues today to this drug and I STRONGLY urge everyone, especially parents, to be wary and avoid at all costs. Since then, I’ve tried literally everything for my skin. Going to dermatologists that pushed every cream, pill and smelly cleanser on me that they possibly could. There are periods of my life that I refuse to look at pictures of myself, bad skin is scarring, literally.

It wasn’t until I learned a ton about food and diet and started to change the way I care for my skin and my body in general that I noticed results. I wish I could find the recipe again for the first DIY skincare recipe that I tried, total #GAMECHANGER! The facewash was castor oil based and involved a ton of oils that I had never heard of before and the ingredients also confused me, I mean, wasn’t oil bad for acne prone skin? That’s what doctors had been telling me for years: ‘Avoid oil and oily foods (lol) or you’ll break out’. They were on the right track but didn’t realize it wasn’t the oil on the pizza, it was the highly processed ingredients and hormones and sugar and chemicals within that and every other food I was eating on a daily basis. When I started using these ‘new to me’ oils like olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba and argan I started noticing a lot of differences in my skin and I realized that I didn’t need to kill everything on my face to get clear skin, Adina actually mentions that we need good bacteria on our face to eat the bad, which is not unlike the bacteria in our gut. My skin was also in need of hydration and less cleansing, rubbing and product overload. So basically, I can relate to everything in Adina’s book and it’s inspiring to me! I’m so glad she’s sharing some of her secrets with the World!

What I love about this book is that it goes through a lot of our misconceptions around skin care, walks us through a skin cleanse aka a product free period aimed at getting our skin back to a neutral state, and then brings in some really new thinking about how to use real ingredients to revive our used and abused skin. Everything goes back to diet. Just like with other health issues,  Grigore says, ‘if you have a recurring skin problem, it’s most definitely the result of something going on internally’ and further, “when you are eating foods that are depleted of vitamins and minerals , you aren’t getting vitamins and minerals, sounds basic, but it’s a connection a lot of us have not really made yet.’ And that’s true, it takes a long time to make this discovery for ourselves and then we get it and it’s like a serious lightbulb aha moment. I love watching family and friends have these moments, it’s so inspiring!

My favorite part of this book is definitely the recipes! Adina is sharing some amazing secrets that I’m sure took a long time to develop and I bet she had to put a lot of random foods on her face to figure out, thanks girl, you’re FIERCE! I tried this amazing Dessert Mask and loved it! I did take a pic of myself with the mask on but I hopefully you can understand based on the ingredients why I’m not posting that.

DESSERT MASK RECIPE (Via SkinCleanse):

Ingredients: 

4 Teaspoons Cocoa Powder

1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt

2 Teaspoons Olive Oil

1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon (I added this in because I love it Adina mentioned it being great for skin in another recipe)

Directions:

Mix cocoa powder and salt in a small bowl, then stir in olive oil to create a paste. Apply with fingers and leave on for as long as you’d like (I did 40 minutes). The sea salt may start to sting over time as it works its magic (mine didn’t). Rinse carefully–this mask will stain a washcloth (yes, it sure will). Makes one to two uses and can sit out on your counter for a few days.

Result: Really smooth and bright skin. I felt that I needed a little extra moisturizing after, but my skin felt really happy and cleansed.

You can buy Skin Cleanse here and my one word of warning is to definitely buy the actual book, not the kindle version, in some ways this is part cookbook and journal and you’ll want to highlight and take notes. Now I need to buy the actual book myself.

Let me know what you thought of the book in the comments below and if you have a favorite ‘natural’ product please share as well!

CABO SAN LUCAS TRIP DETAILS AND LOTS OF PHOTOS

Now that we  live in California the need to escape to the beach in the winter is not nearly as emergency level, but it’s still so nice to get away and take a break together and just re-connect with yourself and your significant other.

This post has a lot of photos, which I don’t usually do, but to give a little background, I used to love photo shoots. When I was a dancer we took pictures all the time in tiny costumes, on top of buildings, pretending to be super models. Growing up as an actor I feel in my element in front of a camera and although I’m definitely not a top model, I just have a lot of freaking fun shooting pictures, it’s a creative outlet for me. However, in the last few years I’ve stopped taking pictures almost altogether. I’m still in my twenties (not much longer), but I feel like my body is a lot different than it was in my early twenties so like every woman everywhere I guess I’ve become a bit self conscious. However, now that I’ve started sharing more about my life here at Fresh and Fierce I’ve also started taking more photos of my day to day and while traveling, and totally love it again! Wyatt talked me in to shooting some pics in my new high waisted swim suit on our recent trip to Cabo San Lucas Mexico and we had so much fun! I was really happy to get some good shots of my Tattoo that I had done in Williamsburg over a year ago at Eight of Swords, the owner Dave is an amazing artist! More on that someday…but for now let’s talk about the beach…

Cabo recently experienced a really bad hurricane, but the area has rebounded surprisingly well. A lot of the resorts are still closed, but Cabo Surf, where we stayed, was back up and running with a whole new wing of rooms and a great beach! I loved the laid back vibe of Cabo Surf, there were only a few people on the beach each day and the resort was quiet and the staff very friendly and helpful. This hotel is not near the main tourist drag, so we were thankful the food was good and we didn’t really have much reason to leave. The rooms were very nice and we could hear the waves crashing every morning, so great!

Now that I’ve tried out a high waisted suit, I think everyone needs one! This one was around $20 on Amazon. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it so I didn’t want to spend a lot to try it out. Sun glasses are from Urban Outfitters and hat is from Amazon as well, and was great because it could be totally scrunched up in my bag. The earrings I got in Thailand at a market and unfortunately lost one on this trip, sad! The whole ensemble was very affordable.

Ok , so moving on from my silly posing to the coolest thing we saw while on the trip, Whales!! I’ve seen a lot of sea life before, but this was a first and totally amazing experience, I can’t even describe it. We went on a super cheesy, but admittedly fun pirate boat and got great views of the whales. We (W) got these awesome shots. As soon as we left the dock a baby whale and his mama were playing in the bay, jumping and flipping their tales, so cool to watch! At one point the whale swam right under our boat!

Every year several whale species migrate from the chilly Arctic waters to the Baja Peninsula where the temps are just right to give birth and rear their babies. I totally get that, I’d rather have a baby in warm water than cold! I’d recommend going out on a small inflatable boat in you get the chance to get even closer to the action!

Food: For me, the most important part of visiting any place is experiencing their food, and finding a good salad if at all possible. We ate some amazing food in Cabo, which kind of surprised me since I haven’t had that experience in every part of Mexico. Our resort had great food and we went in to San Jose Del Cabo with friends to have a meal as well.

Flora Farms was my favorite. It’s a really popular farm to table spot where Adam Levine apparently got married. I see why he would pick the venue, it’s so gorgeous, and although we got there just as the sun was setting still got to see the beautiful gardens in their full kale-growing glory.  This restaurant was certainly a highlight of the trip. Such great food and ambiance, it’s like a trendy New York hotspot, but in the middle of nowhere. We had an amazing meal in the garden and I got some shots of the surroundings including this over the top palm tree, farm stand of veggies grown on-site, and my tasty carrot margarita.

We were so lucky to have some friends in Cabo as well to show us around. They took us to the beach one day where we lounged around and drank beer and ate guac. Ahhh, vacay, how I love you! If you find yourself getting married in Cabo and need amazing bridal hair and makeup you have to check out our friend Neysa, she is so talented and will definitely make you look fierce on your big day!

Hope you enjoyed this photo filled post, I certainly had fun writing it! Look for more travel posts on the blog soon!

Have you been to Cabo? What did you love? Let me know in the comments.