Workday Excursion Wednesday!

What do I do at work? Besides work – I think about my next vacation, short daytrips or even places to explore on my lunch break. I’m just one of those people who must get out of Dodge on a regular basis for my own sanity. This urge doesn’t stop once I am sitting behind a desk (I try not to sit behind a desk that often for work, but for now…).

So, I think of little things to do during my lunch hour. You will never catch me eating my lunch at my desk – mouse in one hand, fork in the other – NEVER! I value my “me time”! If I didn’t use this time to explore and wander, I would end up sad, bitter, angry, hating and resenting myself, everything and everybody. Dramatic? Yes. But, it’s true. It’s important to know yourself and what makes you happy. #SelfCare, HELLO!

It doesn’t have to be a lunch hour hike, where you get all sweaty and need a shower afterwards. It can be a short stroll in the park, visiting a local shop or even eating lunch at a new and different place. I have to do something.

I moved to Westchester County nearly a year ago. So, YAY! To me, this means “New places to explore every day!”. I just use my favorite apps – Yelp, TripAdvisor and Google Maps – to do some research, and then I’m off…

To use alongside the apps, I purchased an amazing book: Walkable Westchester

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Yellow tabs = Weekday Pink Tabs = Weekends

The book is broken down into sections from tiny walks and parks to long weekend hiking trips! It’s such a great resource. I have used it for a couple of adventures, and, as you can see by the tabs, more are coming soon!

I decided to turn this into a weekly bloggy thing. I will share what I have done during my lunch hours each Wednesday. I call it “Workday Excursion Wednesday”! Yay!

I have gone a few places so far, so I will share a few standouts to catch you guys up!

First up: Kensico Dam – Valhalla, NY

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The Dam in winter!

I actually went here on an unseasonably warm day in February, so I need an update with foliage (if it ever stops raining, I will!)…

Next: Carroll’s Park – Valhalla, NY

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I had lunch here on National Picnic Day! I just bought a salad from the salad bar at a nearby grocery store, sat at a table and enjoyed the duck pond…

Went shopping: The Twisted Branch – Valhalla, NY

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Little oil and vinegar kegs! For tasting!

This is my favorite small shop in Valhalla! The Twisted Branch! I had to go in because I saw on Yelp that they had an olive oil and vinegar tasting bar, and I’m all for a good tasting. I ended up trying pretty much everything, and bought a bunch of different flavors! I am such a fan, and so is my (former restaurant chef, current home chef) boyfriend! If you bring in your empty bottle, you can get a refill for 15% off!

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I teamed up with The Twisted Branch for a giveaway on the DaytoDayDweeb Insta account @DaytoDayDweeb ! It’s for these two delicious products! US Only. Contest ends 8/24/18 at 8am!

A little drive: Chappaqua Pocket Park – Chappaqua, NY

This lovely miniature park is a short drive away.  I love everything to do with flowers, so I like to visit every garden I possibly can, big or small.

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Easy stuff: Around my office building

Some days I can’t go that far :-(, but I still must go! When this happens (rarely), I just take a walk around the office building. There are several seating areas and fountains, which makes it a pleasant experience and can (briefly) take you away…

A few tips:

  • Time your trip – It’s important that you time these visits properly so that you’ll have time to enjoy your trip and time to get there and back within a lunch hour. Use the Google Maps app for current traffic info. Also, if you are actually planning a more active excursion, schedule some clean-up time before you hit the office!
  • Use your apps – Some good apps, as I’ve mentioned are Yelp and TripAdvisor. They will find the awesome things available in your area. Don’t forget Groupon for local lunch deals!
  • DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT! – I’d never been to an oil tasting shop until I found The Twisted Branch, and now I love it! Whatever odd or new thing is available, just give it a try. You might actually like it!

So, do a little research! Make the workweek fun!

Also, if you are also located in the Westchester, NY area, give me some ideas! Where do you guys go to get away?

Women’s Wellness Wednesday

Why tiptoe around it? This blog is about your period. Premenstrual syndrome, PMS, to be more specific. I put together a list of supplements you can take to help quell whatever symptoms you may have. I notice, now that I am closer to 40 than I am 30, I seem to get ALL OF THE SYMPTOMS. I never had bloating, now I’m a pufferfish. I never had mood swings, now I’m Sybil for a week. It’s pretty new and strange to me, but I am working on getting a handle on it. Some of the stuff I’ve found works great. Here are all the supplements, tools, tips and tricks I use for “That Time of the Month”. Hopefully, it’ll also help any struggling ladies out there!

Okay. Let’s start with the supplements…

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I got this at Vitacost!

MCT Oil – “Fuel Your Brain” – Am I the only one who gets a little “fuzzy” around this time? Do you guys also get clumsy with a major case of the dropsies? Well MCT oil may help with this! I add a little to my smoothies in the morning and it adds some nice richness to an otherwise watery smoothie.

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The jury is out on this one…

Evening Primrose Oil – “The Old Standby” – This has been touted as the PMS supplement for years. However, recently studies have shown that, well, they don’t do too much. But, why change what has helped so many for decades? Even if it’s a mind over matter thing, well, I believe in the power of positive thinking…

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Works! But use caution (please)…

Black Cohosh – “Hormone Control” – I know, I know. This supplement is usually recommended for women who are going through menopause. Well, guess what? The symptoms of menopause and PMS are very similar. Similar enough to use the same supplement that is known to: regulate mood, reduce inflammation (so you don’t have to pop the NSAIDs) and promotes healthy skin (this is important around that time)!

***Yes, there are side effects and warning about long term use of Black Cohosh. I make sure that I only take it the week before my period starts. Consult a doctor before taking this supplement.***

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So many ways to take magnesium! Good Day Chocolate is at Whole Foods!

Magnesium – “Keep Calm” – Magnesium is my FAVORITE supplement! I don’t know if it is another “mind over matter” supplement, but after I have a fizzy Natural Calm drink I feel so good! There are lots more benefits to magnesium, some are listed in another one of my blogs. The most important benefit when it comes to premenstrual health is the calming properties. Marketers and supplement makers are on to this and they are putting it in everything – from powders to candy! That makes it easier to find a magnesium supplement that you’ll like. Since it’s calming, sometimes it’s exactly what you need.

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Fish Oil has so many benefits!

Fish Oil – “Control the Swole” – Fish oil has lots of health benefits, and most are related to cardiovascular health (Omega-3 fatty acids, etc.). I’ve recently read where it’s effective in preventing bloating, so… Little tidbit: It’s important to use a good fish oil supplement. When I say good I mean one that does not cause “fish burps”. Yeah. That’s not pleasant. Usually the supplement will even say “Does not cause fish burps” because it’s that big of an issue. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

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I am new to this one. My boyfriend introduced me!

Ashwaganda – “Stabilize Your Mood” – I wish I could think of a better headline for this but, this is fine. This supplement is known for its calming effect, something that is necessary when you have period related mood swings.

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This brand has more than just melatonin…

Melatonin – “Get Some Sleep” – So, this is a problem for me around that time. Usually a week before my period starts, I sometimes I stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning. That’s even if I have work the next day. Melatonin really helps with that. I like to take two of these gummies – the full dosage – around that time.

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My bag is not in good shape!

Maca Powder – “The Wonder Supplement” – I call this a “wonder” because it’s helps with every women’s health issue you can think of! Got a hormone imbalance? Maca powder! Fertility issues? Maca powder! Seriously, this stuff is great. What’s not so great is the taste. The word “earthy” comes to mind. Earthy. As in eating dirt. Yeah, blend it with something with a strong taste to mask it. I add it to smoothies, but most recently I added some to my muffins. With the major flavors being cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, they taste great!

Here is a product that helps me make it through this time, especially at work:

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This is a lifesaver if you have bad cramps and have to go to work!

Thermacare Heatwraps – “Kill Those Cramps!” I remember using these years ago, but I had no idea they still made them! I was so happy when I found them at the FSA Store (side note: if you have an FSA, use those dollars! If you aren’t sure how to spend it, the FSA Store is incredible!)! These heatwraps have adhesive strips so they can be securely placed on the inside of your panties for a warm, pain killing effect on cramps. That’s what you need sometimes to help release the cramps, warmth. I recommend wearing larger panties with these, for effectiveness and for comfort’s sake. I didn’t think I would end this blog with a panty tip.

Doing what works best for you health-wise takes research and a little trial and error. To be better prepared for “that time” you can use some of my tips, do some of your own research and consult your physician if you have existing health issues. Stay healthy, ladies!

 

Making the Most of Every Day…

This is just a quick post…

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This is a nice little park next to my job…

 

quick Yay! I have a tagline! I thought of it while I was in the park during lunch today. Yes. The park, during my lunch break. Today (4/23/18) is National Picnic Day after all. So why not? That’s a question I ask a lot now that I think about it – Why Not?

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My picnic lunch – in case you were wondering!

Why not leave the office during your lunch break?

Why not take a walk outside during the day?

Why not appreciate the spring perennials (while they’re still around)?

 

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I’m referring to the daffodils in the distance!

It’s so important to take advantage of these little moments in life. Enjoy yourself!

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First perennial spotting of the year! In my own front yard!
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More, near the train station of all places!
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The latest blooms near my house…

I’m obviously a crazy flower lady!

What do you do to enjoy your day-to-day life?

Eclipse Mode…

The eclipse has passed, but I still managed to complete a couple of “rituals” that are supported by the energy of the eclipse. The first thing that I did was break out my crystals

Crystals
I took them outside right before the eclipse, notice the shadows…

…Hematite and petrified wood to be exact. Both of these crystals bring forth a calming energy. I really need that right now. I am doing a lot right now and I need to chill out about it. It’ll be wonderful.

Hematite is great for grounding and stability and the petrified wood is great for easing worries and bringing about good fortune in business ventures (yay!). OKAY – so, about the crystals. Yes, I believe that if I believe that they are bringing the energy that they are supposed to bring then they will bring that energy. The Law of Attraction. Manifesting. I believe in all of that. ANYWAY. That brings me to meditation

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I did manage to have a short meditation during the eclipse. It felt amazing! I was able to concentrate in a way that I haven’t been able to in a long time. I used a great mantra as well…

True Love
My mantra…

About love…

I WAS the type of person who was too busy for love. I WAS more concerned with myself and my goals (…the next one, and the next one, and the next one…), than I was with getting deeply involved with someone. I have been very self-involved for the past TEN YEARS! In 2007, I ended a not-so-good relationship (no deets here, sorry). After that, I threw myself into my studies, work and the endless pursuit of knowledge. So far I have received four degrees (AS, BS, MA, MPS…) and countless certifications (I’m an Offender Workforce Development Specialist and I’m certified to teach preschool through third grade in NJ – I’ve done work in prisons and preschools the whole spectrum!).

Of course, I have dated in these 10 years. I’ve had a couple of several monthers here and there, but nothing long-long-term. I realized that I usually approach dates like job interviews (occupational hazard). Not that I am cold and questioning, not at all, I’m a warm and excited person naturally, but I do have that mental checklist. We can have a great time, but I know by the end of the date if you are going to “get the job”. A lot of guys haven’t! When I realize they aren’t getting the job, that’s when I turn cold.

I thought, perhaps, I should be a little less judgey-wudgey (my mom doesn’t call me “Frasier Crane” for nothing). Nah. Having standards is necessary in today’s world. I think I need to be…MYSELF! My self is fine, always has been. I just need to be more open to possibilities…

Speaking of which, Sage Smudging (nice segue)!

Sage

Here is a great article on how to smudge and what materials you need! I didn’t smudge today. I am actually saving it for this Saturday at 7:32 am, my Venus Return. That’s so close to being a literal “total eclipse of the heart”. Speaking of which (better segue)…

Happy #NationalRelaxationDay!

Honestly, I had no idea it was National Relaxation Day until I saw all the hashtags popping up on Instagram this morning. What a great day for it too…It’s raining where I live (Hudson Valley, NY)…I have to go into the office tomorrow…It’s Tuesday…

I don’t know! This holiday should be every single day. Or, every night at least.

Since I didn’t know about this, I was too late to make an appointment to get a massage (bwah haha!) so I’ll have to settle for the next best thing: A relaxing magnesium mocktail…

This is what you’ll need:

Ingredients

  • 1 packet of Natural Calm
  • 1 packet of stevia
  • 2 Limes
  • Your favorite unsweetened sparking water

Magnesium has so many benefits – and most of us are lacking in this particular mineral. It helps with…

  • Digestive motility (I told you I’d mention this a lot, it’s important)
  • Calming & Sleeping – a natural sleep aid
  • Beauty – helps maintain collagen
  • Heart health – it’s up there with potassium and sodium, assisting in heartbeat and blood pressure regulation
  • Muscle soreness relief 
  • Migraine prevention (I’ll have an entire blog about this, soon)

So, back to the drink…

Stirring
Action shot!

Juice those limes and add the stevia packet. Stir to combine…

Fizzy

Add about 3/4 of the can of sparkling water. It’ll bubble up a lot, and it’ll bubble up even more once…

Bubbles

…you add the packet of Natural Calm! Stir gently and then add the rest of the seltzer…

Finished Product

NOM! YUM! My choice of sparkling water (Simply Balanced Tropical Cherry from Target) made this taste like a Cherry Lime Rickey, or that cherry lime drink from Sonic…

Okay, so now that we’ve had a drink, we can look at some relaxing pictures. I just added some relaxing words to these pictures I took in various places. Enjoy!

Breathe 2

Relax

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Enjoy

These Moments...

Yay!

Sending Some Love…

We’re in need of positivity today. I took some of my brightest pics and added more happiness to them. Feel free to share…

Just Love
Very simply…
Blossom & Grow
ALWAYS!
Listen to Your Heart
Trust yourself…
Shine Bright
Even in darkness…
Keep It Simple
Don’t worry…
Friday!
Something that always makes me happy! This picture reminded me of a Friday night…
The Little Things
Have to appreciate…

Smoothie Supplements!

Smoothies are one of my favorite things. Seriously, I have been drinking them fairly regularly for years. I have gone though several blenders (blown out motors) and shaker cups (mold – from leaving them out in my car) over the years. I have tried several “diets” in my life, but the one thing that has remained constant is The Smoothie.

My smoothie taste has evolved over the years too. I went from just your basic fruit, ice and yogurt (delicious, but not that healthy) to pure fiber shakes (icky, but effective) to what I do now, which is a little bit of a blend of the two styles (accidental pun in there!).

Today, I’m not really going to show how I make my smoothies, talk about the protein powder I use (that deserves its own post) or give recipes. I’m just going to show some of the supplements I use to make my blends even more healthy.

Starting with my favorite, Hemp Seeds

SS - Hemp Hearts

I really like hemp seeds in my smoothies, for the health reasons I’ve listed above, but especially because of the last little thing I added there: they add such a nice, thick texture to smoothies. Use hemp hearts and cashew milk and you’ll feel like you are drinking a milkshake, seriously.

Another favorite – Chia Seeds

SS - Chia Seeds

I like chia seed for everything! I make chia eggs, chia pudding and even chia cheesecake pots. They gel up so nicely and add bulk and help bind food (all of which are reasons why they are great for digestive health).

While I rotate the use of all of the others, MSM is in every smoothie I make…

SS - MSM

MSM has no flavor. In fact, I used to just put a half-teaspoon in some juice in the morning and go. Now, it is in every smoothie. So many beauty related benefits, especially for hair, as it is supposed to help strengthen cells during the growth phase.

Here is a new favorite, Maca Powder

SS - Maca

I first found out about it when I was researching foods that would help in treating Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), something I am managing with weight regulation. Maca is great for helping regulate the hormones (if you know about PCOS you know how important that is) so, I ordered it immediately. And I love it! It tastes great – I am a fan of earthy tastes though, think about my beet post. It mixes so well with cocoa powder too. One of my favorite things to have mid-morning is a Hot Maca-Cocoa!

Here is an old favorite, something I’ve been using for a while: Flax Seed

SS - Flax

Flax seeds were one of the first things I heard about when I got into the “healthy food, health living” lifestyle, about 13 years ago. OMEGA-3s! That was all the rage back then. Heart health is still supremely important, but I don’t see too much out there about flax seeds anymore. Actually, no, I see them used a lot as an egg substitute in plant based diets. I am determined to bring them to the forefront again!

Now, something good AND tasty: Matcha Powder

SS - Matcha

I must admit, I originally bought this with lattes in mind. I knew about the benefits, but I really just wanted it hot and milky. However, a couple of weeks ago, I added it to a basic vanilla smoothie and WOW! It’s so good! Plus, a metabolism booster…and a mood booster…and an energy boost. So many benefits!

Last, but certainly not least, Spirulina!

SS - Spirulina

Yay! My new favorite thing! Not only does it have the benefits I’ve listed above, it’s great to use topically. The morning after I used it in a mask I looked in the mirror and thought “Either I got a good night’s sleep last night, or that mask helped my dark circles…” I didn’t get a good night’s sleep. I like to use spirulina in a fruity-slushy type of smoothie, goes better with the flavor.

These are the supplements I’m using right now, and I rotate some of them out and put others in. There will be updates when I do!

 

Self-Care Sunday…

After my (tiny bit of a) Freak Out Friday, I decided I was in need of a Self-Care Sunday. Not that I’m super stressed today. I mean, after the gym and grocery shopping, I just flopped down and started watching a “That 70’s Show” marathon. BUT STILL, I feel like I need to do something beauty-wise to make me feel refreshed and ready for the work week. Kind of like a “reset” because it’s Sunday.

So, I decided to do a facial mask! Not one of the many sheet masks that I already have, I’m going to make one, fresh, from scratch. How about a…

…Spirulina-Cucumber Mask – I happen to have a sack of spirulina that I got from Nuts.com. Spirulina is an antioxidant and it’s great for the skin. It is brightening and has antibacterial properties (great for eczema). I could use some brightening. I feel as gray as my gym tee, and it’s still summer.

Spirulina Mask
I froze my cucumber slices for extra cooling…

It’s pretty obvious what’s in it and how it’s made, but…

I blend the water and cucumber and strain the mixture into about a teaspoon of spirulina powder…

Cucumber Blend

Stir it up into a mask-y paste…

Mixing Mask
I just used my brush handle to mix it…A couple of cucumber slices for my eyes there…

Apply mask to your face and neck with an clean ELF stipping brush (type of brush, optional)…

Face Paint 2
I put it in the fridge – it feels so nice and cooling…

Let it sit for 15 minutes and rinse off!

I feel brightened and refreshed already! I liked the way it felt on my skin. I might use it on my neck more often than on my face actually – I have melasma on my neck and I am constantly looking for products to make it more smooth and even looking. But, I’m not quite done for this Sunday…

A little aromatherapy would be nice…

I have a crazy collection of Yankee Candle tarts that I need to use up before I buy anymore (I put myself on a Yankee Candle “No-Buy”), so I’ll dip into it today.

Tart Collection
I am determined to use this all!!!

I’m feeling like a fresh scent…

Tart Choices
These are the types of decisions I enjoy making…

Meadow Showers it is…

Tart Burner
I guess I’m attracted to green today…

Lovely…I could use something else though…

Time for a healthy snack. I’m going to have two of my (recent) favorite things:

Fruits and Booch!

Self-Care Snack
Great sale on Kombucha at my local supermarket!

Not eating it right now, saving it for Twin Peaks tonight!

Ready for the week! Oh, and I have to leave on this note (since I was feeling Elphaba a little while ago)…

 

 

Freak-Out Friday…

I turned 38 on Sunday (yay). Almost 40. Awesome. For the past couple of years I have noticed that things are changing, physically.

The Hair…

I have five to six gray hairs now, which is fine. Seriously. I only had one gray hair about three years ago, and now I have six. That rate of growth is nothing to be alarmed about. I have so much hair that you’d really have to take a mini flashlight and a tongue depressor (thinking back to those crazy elementary school lice check-ups!) and search my hair to find them. I take fenugreek and I use it topically, which is supposed to help darken hair/keep it dark. Also, whatever. I’ll dye it if it starts to become “too much” for me, but not a moment sooner than that (I like my natural hair color – plus only SIX HAIRS!).

Hair Care
Pre-Poo: Coconut oil and aloe vera for moisture ~ Fenugreek for growth and darkening…

So, I’m sorta “at peace” with my grays…

The “Puff”…

I now get bloated and put on visible, obvious water weight about a week before and during my period. My face gets super puffy and everything (incl. hands, feet, tummy) gets so flippin’ bloated!

This has never happened to me before! In fact, in the past, when I would see commercials for PMS medications I used to think “…Bloated? Water retention? Does that really even happen? Heh, heh…” – YES! It happens, young fool! This is a fairly recent phenomenon for me too – I just started noticing this last fall! I can’t even weigh myself until I am in the clear also, because that water puts on at least FIVE POUNDS. Seriously, at least…

So, what do I do about it? I don’t take a pill for it (even though I was seriously tempted one time because I had a date the next day). I like to make detox/debloat drinks. I’ve tried a couple of different recipes, and I’ve found that anything with green tea and ginger and/or turmeric works pretty well. I just make different combinations of those three ingredients and it seems to help. Iced green tea with lemon and ginger is my favorite.

They say that drinking and eating these foods/drinks/spices help:

  • Cucumber
  • Parsley
  • Green Tea
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric (the BEST anti-inflammatory spice!)
  • Lemon
  • Watermelon
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Dandelion Tea (I haven’t had this, but I know it’s a big part of Jillian Michaels’ detox, so it might be worth a try…)
  • Cranberry Juice
  • Water – Lots of water, of course!

Here are a few of the combinations I’ve tried:

Detox Drinks
Detox~De-Bloat! l to r: Black Lemonade (activated charcoal), Lemon-Ginger Green Tea, Cucumber-Parsley Green Tea and a shot of ACV with Ginger and Turmeric!

At least I get to try different home remedies and recipes, which is lots of fun for me. Especially if I get to buy a new gadget. I’ll have to think of some…

The Eyes…

Probably the most superficial thing, the thing that really irks me: the changes to my under-eye area.

Now, I’ve always had a hollow under-eye area. I have high cheekbones with chubby cheeks, so that just naturally occurs.

Young Erika Hollows
2nd Grade Under-Eye Area!

It didn’t bother me until a couple of years ago, when I noticed that on top of being “hollow” they were also getting darker (sounds familiar – “Erika and the Deathly Dark Undereye Hollows”…).

So, when I’m tired (which is every-single-morning now), I look like this:

Older Erika Hollows
ZERO MAKEUP! You can see the darkness, even with the old-timey filter…

Eventually, during the course of the day and with the help of concealer, the darkness is less obvious. But it’s jarring to me – because I’m not used to it!

I’m also not used to: Undereye dryness.

I must’ve been such a jerky youngster. I used to see commercials for eye cream and think “C’mon! These women are being so dramatic. Do you really need that?” YES! Skin changes over the years, especially around the eyes!

I used to have an oily under-eye area. I remember when I worked in a department store, at age 20, I would use the tissue paper from the bagging area to blot my face. I’d have to blot my forehead, nose AND under my eyes. NOW, I’d kill for some excess under-eye oil! The dryness is what emphasizes fine lines, so I’m learning that I have to keep that area SUPER HYDRATED. I told my mom about my issue and she bought me this:

Josie Oil
Josie Maran Argan Oil – Light – because I’m sensitive…

She said that it’s not enough to use my regular moisturizer (even though it’s a cream), I have to add an oil or serum beforehand. She’s right! My skin looks and feels so much better when I use the oil! I don’t use this only around the eyes. I use it on the dry patches around my nose, around my lips and to condition my eyebrows. It’s great! I highly recommend it. My mom got me the “Light” formula because she knows how sensitive my skin is, and I haven’t had any reactions to it. I combine it with my First Aid Beauty and it’s great!

I’m sure I’ll notice more as time goes on, but for now…

Wellness Wednesday!

I seem like a very calm, serene person. Someone I once worked with called me “the definition of laidback”. That’s fine. That’s awesome. But, while it looks that way, that’s not the way it is. Think about ducks. They look so smooth and graceful gliding across a pond, but under the water they are paddling for their lives. That’s how it really is with me. I am quiet and cool, but inside my mind is racing, going a mile a minute. I am think about the past (“I wonder what would’ve happened if I…”), present (“It’s too warm in here, I might get a headache”) and future (“I think I’ll have pancakes for breakfast tomorrow. Probably not tomorrow, maybe next Monday”) – all at once. This is all happening while I’m listening to music, checking an app notification, working on my laptop and watching tv on closed captioning at the same time. It never stops – and that’s good! I do enjoy living this way, the Multi-Tasking Life, but I do need a break from it every once in a while.

About 12 years ago, to cope with the stress brought on by over-stimulation and overthinking, I began meditating. It was something I had heard and read about for years, and one day I decided “…that sounds like something I need in my life…” I picked up the book “The Complete Idiots Guide to Zen Living” and I was on my way.

Since then I have taken a couple of classes here and there – on the Alexander Technique and even aromatherapy – to add to my Zen/meditation repertoire. In 2008, I was lucky enough to take daily meditation classes at the Omega Institute during the Women and Power Workshop. There, we did seated and walking meditations at least twice a day on the gorgeous grounds. I don’t practice every day, I wish I did. In fact, and this is bad, I usually only practice when I am at the stress breaking point.

Omega Sanctuary
Steps leading to the Sanctuary at Omega Institute

When I do meditate, I really love the focus I give to my breathing. I have the tendency to, like most people, hold my breath when I am stressed out or in pain. It’s amazing how a deep breath, in and out, can help to relax you so much.

It sounds really simple, right? Just clear your mind of all thoughts, focus on your breath and chill out. Well, it’s not always easy for me to “clear my mind”. In fact, I don’t think I have ever completely “wiped the slate clean” while meditating. And that’s, okay. I can still feel blissful while a little something goes on in my mind. It usually ends up being something happy and hopeful instead of worries. There is something that helps though…

Guided Meditation and Imagery!

These styles of meditation can really help anyone who has a problem with focus. The guide talks you through your meditation, by telling you what types of breaths or movements to make (guided meditation) or by talking you through different imaginary scenarios that will help you get through whatever problems you’re having (guided imagery). I find it easier to concentrate on the music and/or the guide’s voice than to just sit in a quiet room and try to “clear my mind”.

It helps put me in a positive mindset. I like to listen to guided imagery before I do something important – before taking a test, giving a presentation, etc. it can really make you feel more powerful and confident.

It can also help you sleep. There are some great Youtube videos and podcasts out there with meditations specifically for helping you sleep. You have to find the ones that will work for you. Some make me fall asleep while I’m listening and some just make me feel relaxed but not sleepy.

As with anything – do what works for you!

The Tea Garden

Today I visited The Tea Garden, a new teahouse in my hometown of Middletown, New York, where they held a free morning guided meditation and breakfast bar.

Meditation Area
In front of the meditation area. I didn’t want to close my eyes!

It was great! Jillian, the owner and meditation guide was so knowledgeable and had so many tips and tricks.

I told her about how thoughts will sometimes intrude my meditation and she advised “…step outside of them and don’t get involved. Treat them as if you are a third party observer.” I actually found that really helpful during today’s meditation.

Oh – and there was also food! There are nothing but clean eats on the menu and they are all small, palate cleansing dishes. Nothing heavy, nothing to feel guilty about.

Today there were tea eggs, kidney beans, a variety of pickled and spiced veggies and, my favorite, steamed buns…

Steamed Buns
Steamed Chinese bread, steamed custard bun (nai wong bao) and spicy cucumber. To drink: “Double Beauty” – a mixture of tea and coffee and lemon ginger water…

So, I have to say, it was a pretty good “Wellness Wednesday”…

  • For more on guided imagery and meditation, visit Health Journeys.com
    • From that site, I enjoy guided imagery from Belleruth Naperseck and Lynne Newman. Lynne is a New Age practitioner who is local to me, and leads amazing guided meditations in person as well.
  • Some great podcasts:
    • Meditation Minis with Chel Hamilton
    • Sleep With Me: The Podcast That Puts You To Sleep (hilarious, actually)
    • Guided Meditations: The Yoga Bunny