Too much information.

We are not made to process the amount of information that we’re exposed to each day.

Never before has this happened in history, where at the touch of your fingertips is the answer – several answers, in fact – to any question that may cross your mind.

Never before have we had real-time updates to what is happening across the world with a link to donate and buy a t-shirt and join an activist group.

Never before have we been expected to DO SOMETHING about EVERYTHING until we are so paralyzed that we do NOTHING but distract ourselves with shallow entertainment and food and drugs and booze and anything at all to just distract ourselves from the pain of living in a fallen world.

That’s not the way it’s supposed to be.

Or… maybe it is, and we just haven’t caught up yet. All I know is that all this information is making a lot of us both really crazy and really paralyzed.

information overload

You have a purpose, and you should certainly do something about that. But I know how hard it can be when your mind is so cluttered with everything that you just shut down.

I don’t know the solution to this problem. But I do know of a few quick fixes that can help you feel better, really soon, and hopefully get some clarity about what to do next.

You can take a media fast. What are you scared of? That there will be some emergency election you won’t be informed enough to take part in? That humanity will suffer because you’re not available to comment on something? Turn off your phone, your computer, your TV and even the radio and experience silence and the hum of real life happening for awhile. It will be okay. Glorious, even.

You can create something. Do it without looking at how others have created a similar something and second guessing your ability to measure up and just do it. It doesn’t have to go anywhere else. It will be okay. Inspiring, even.

You can have a conversation. You don’t have to look up the answers to questions that arise on your smartphone – you can just ponder them together and form ideas together or just take pleasure in the company of someone you love.

You can be still. Despite mountains of cultural evidence to the contrary, you were not made to produce, perform, and achieve. It’s 125% okay and wonderful to simply stop, ponder, and marvel at the fact that you are experiencing reality and that it goes on and on and on regardless of what you accomplish. That might seem scary, or it might seem comforting. Either way, it’s a good idea.

Normally I would insert a request to share or tweet or comment on this post if you liked it, but that seems a little hypocritical in light of the topic, here, doesn’t it? #bloggerproblems Do what you’re moved to do. I love you no matter what. 

Non-MLM Essential Oils

I was talking essential oils with a friend recently and she mentioned how much she loved one of the blends from a certain Big Name direct sales company. “I know you hate MLM oils, but…”

Wait a tick!

I certainly don’t hate essential oils from the MLM brands. I have used a couple, even, with no complaints!

The reason I don’t actively promote MLM oils or buy them myself is simply because they are overpriced.

You heard me. non mlm essential oils

They. Are. Overpriced.

I mean, they have to be. That’s the nature of MLM companies. When you have tiers and tiers and tiers of salespeople to pay, you need to build that into your pricing. I’m not knocking it… that’s just the way it is.

And it adds up… a lot.

“But.. the testing! The rigorous testing!”

You can find cheaper brands that are also well-tested and that are just as high quality.

“But… the certifications!”

They don’t mean a thing.  Read that link. You’ll find that “therapeutic grade” means “shady marketing” more than anything.

All that being said, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to buy essential oils from these companies. If you want to support a friend who is starting a direct sales business, by all means, that’s great! If you simply like the oils better than others you have tried, onward!

But don’t be fooled into thinking you’re paying for higher quality. ALSO don’t be fooled that your friend, who has had sales training, necessarily knows what they’re talking about. I mean, they might… but only if they’ve done their due diligence beyond what the MLM companies teach their salespeople.

What you’re paying “extra” for is marketing. Period. Not quality, not “aromatherapy education.” Marketing. Sales training.

Cool? Cool.

Well, now what?

So now that we’ve established why I personally don’t buy essential oils from MLM companies, you’re probably wondering which companies I do buy oils from and why. I encourage you to do more research beyond reading my blog (as always) but my hope is that this will be a helpful resource as you start or continue that process.

Each of these brands offers both organic and non-organic options. I don’t always buy organic essential oils. *GASP* The thing is, most herbs are naturally pest-resistant and don’t really need pesticides or herbicides to grow well. So an oil might not even have any pesticide or herbicide residue present, but still not be labelled organic because it’s really expensive for companies to do that. I suggest looking into the growing practices of the plant in question. If you don’t have time to do that or if it sounds really boring, buying organic oils is safe bet… It will just cost you more. :)

Are there others? Most definitely. The Hippy Homemaker is a smart lady and she has a list of her favorite brands along with some really helpful, unbiased info about the essential oil industry and labeling. I also learned a lot from Whole New Mom’s “Great Essential Oil Showdown” series. Check those out for even more info – there’s nothing else I could say here that isn’t linked. :)

As always, my dears, if you have any questions, concerns, hopes, dreams, desires – leave a comment and let me know! I absolutely adore you, you know.

 

Natural health is about empowerment, not fear. 10 Skills for the Maintenance + Repair of You.

For me, anyway.

If you’ve spent more than 5 seconds in the natural health blogosphere, you have probably come across a bit of fear mongering. Everything causes cancer, doctors are evil, and autism is all part of Their Plan. I understand those views completely but they are unhelpful. Let me talk about why I care about natural health anyway.

When you take a look at humanity over the ages, you’ll see we are living in a very “specialized” culture. People have their own set of skills that they provide to others in exchange for money, which is spent on buying other people’s skills (or the goods they create with those skills.) It’s a great system in a lot of ways, and it’s how this huge empire that we live in was built.

I think it’s foolish, however, to apply this concept to our bodies. Which is what we have done – care of the body itself is often delegated to doctors (who may or may not specialize in a certain “function” of the body), the government food pyramid, diet “experts”, pharmaceutical companies, etc. When it comes to life-threatening injuries and emergency situations, this system has been a huge blessing overall. The same can not be said for preventative or wellness.

People need to know how to maintain wellness. People need to know how to respond to minor injuries and illnesses on their own. We can’t always rely on systems, you know? It just won’t stay the same forever. Look at history. That’s not fear-mongering or being pessimistic or anything. It’s simply an unbiased look at HISTORY.

Your body is the only thing you are guaranteed to carry with your throughout your entire life. You may even use it to give life to children, who will have their own bodies to take care of. It is absolutely worth an investment of your time to learn how to maintain and repair yours – and then pass on those skills.

That’s what I’m trying to do here. Okay? I don’t want you to feel scared or – like some of you have said – guilty for ever choosing to do things the “mainstream” way. That’s not the point. Do what you have to do – but learn this stuff and pass it on, because I guarantee it’s knowledge you’ll use someday.

  1. Learn basic nutrition.
  2. Learn about what allergies look like and how to treat them.
  3. Learn how to follow an elimination diet to pinpoint food intolerance.
  4. Learn how to cook, even if it’s just simple meals.
  5. Learn natural remedies to common illnesses.
  6. Learn about what fevers actually are and stop medicating them all the timeddictions.
  7. Overcome addictions.
  8. Exercise – do something fun!
  9. Learn to grow food and medicinal plants.
  10. Practice mindfulness and understand that your mind and body are intricately connected. 
Do you agree or am I some kind of crazy lady? Anything you would add to this list?

A Healthy Summer Drink Recipe and the Natural Health Benefits of Green Tea

by Angie Neal
If there’s one vice I have that is truly bad for me, it’s diet pop. Diet Pepsi has always been my favorite, but Diet Mug’s Rootbeer and Fresca come close behind. I started drinking diet pops a long time ago, so I could cut calories and still have my fizzy, sweet drinks.

They’re just so addicting! Like many vices, I would stop drinking them, only to come back to them later on after getting a random craving. When it comes to addictions (I have what you would call an “addictive personality”), if you want to stop it, you have to replace it with something else.

So far, green tea – in all its antioxidant-rich, metabolism-boosting glory – has been the best replacement for my diet pop addiction. It’s by far the healthiest drink I could have used to replace them with! Hopefully, I can even reverse some of the damage I probably did to myself by drinking so much diet pop through the years.

In this heat, I got a bad hankering for a big Polar Pop of Diet Pepsi. I gave in a few times. Today, I decided to do something different to stop my craving, and it worked!

This is a really simple recipe I created with the stuff I have on hand in my kitchen and my herb garden – A lemon and my sweet basil plant. I had an empty gallon jug from water we bought at the store, so I used that as the container for my recipe.

Here’s how to make a delicious jug of iced basil lemon green tea! 

  • Fill your empty jug with water and dump the water into a pot on the stove. Add a little more water to make up for what will evaporate. 
  • Bring it to an almost-boil, and add 10 green tea bags. If you have a tea infuser and loose leaf green tea, use however much you would use to make 10 cups of tea. 
  • Steep for 5 minutes. You don’t want to steep green tea too long, or it’ll be really bitter. 
  • Take it off the heat and let it cool down a little. 
  • Stir in your chosen sweetener, or leave it unsweetened like I did with mine. 
  • Slice up a lemon and cut the slices in half. Throw those in the jug. 
  • Cut 8 fresh sweet basil leaves in half and throw those in the jug. 
  • When it cools down a bit more so that it won’t melt the plastic, carefully pour it into the jug with a funnel. 
  • Let it cool down in the fridge, add some ice to your glass, and enjoy! 

You can always add different flavors to suit your taste. Green tea has a pretty plain, planty taste which is good by itself (I like it, anyway!), but also makes it perfect for adding other flavors. Try other citrus fruits, berries, honey and fresh ginger.

Here are some of the facts about why green tea is so good for you. They even make up for the fact that it’s not carbonated.

  • All those antioxidants! Both green and black tea have 10x the amount of antioxidants you would get from fruits and veggies. These antioxidants detoxify the body, which helps protect you from things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and cancer. 
  • It works as an anti-inflammatory, which makes it great for people with problems like arthritis and asthma. 
  • It can help speed up your metabolism and help with minor weight loss. 
  • It kills bacteria and gives your immune system a boost! 
  • Green tea has half the amount of caffeine as black tea, which is perfect if you need a boost in the evening, but you don’t want to stay up all night. 
  • It’s easier on the stomach than coffee. I also have a bad habit of drinking more coffee than I should. I can be more excessive with green tea, without getting too jittery or hurting my stomach. 
  • It can help your brain work even better, with the help of an amino acid called L-theanine, which had been found to help improve brain function. 

Have you made any healthy and natural replacements in your own life recently?
Angie is a blogger and copywriter who loves to work with creative small businesses. You can find her lifestyle/beauty blog at http://thismuseistaken.com, or get blogging advice and help with blogging and copywriting at http://buzzcopy.net.

Blending Essential Oils for Acne Prone Skin

Essential oils can be used for so many things, including household cleaning, medicinal purposes and even in your beauty routine. I have been using essential oils for several years now and I’ve learned a LOT along the way. Although I definitely got by for a long time without them, it’s hard for me to imagine going a day without using them for one thing or another. One of the things I love most is blending essential oils to get the most out of the different properties each unique oil has.

Not every essential oil is suited to every purpose. For example, I love using lemongrass oil in my aromatherapy burner, but it doesn’t make my skin happy at all. Tea tree oil is wonderful for clearing up my acne, but it’s a bit too harsh to use for my newborn’s baby care.

Here, I’ll cover my favorite oils to use in my skin care routine. As someone who has suffered from severe acne, I hope that these tips will help you clear up your skin too!

Acne-Fighting Essential Oils

One of the first reasons I turned to essential oils for their beauty-boosting benefits was to clear up my acne. Because all essential oils contain powerful antibacterial and cleansing properties, many of them are useful for this purpose. The key to choosing the right ones are to find those that will benefit your skin without being too harsh. The following essential oils are those that I’ve found to be helpful for clearing up acne, starting with the gentlest option:

Ylang Ylang – gently cleans, tones, and moisturizes skin.
Lavender – a little more powerful, lavender’s antibacterial properties can whip breakouts into shape.
Rosemary – a great option for combination skin, as it fights acne while balancing your oily and dry skin patches.
Tea Tree – for the worst of the worst, including multiple blemishes and cystic acne, try tea tree.

Blending Essential Oils for Skin Care

There are a few ways you can blend these essential oils for use in your skin care routine. One of my favorite, simplest ways, is to combine a drop of two different oils (or two drops of any one oil) in my hand along with a dime-sized amount of jojoba oil and oil cleanse with it.

You can also just use it as a facial serum and let it sit on your skin.

One more way that you use essential oils to clear up your skin is to treat your makeup brushes with essential oils. This is only recommended if your makeup brushes are made from natural fibers, as synthetic fibers might be broken down by the oils. To do this, clean your makeup brushes well with a bit of facial cleanser and warm water. Then, soak the brushes for 30 minutes or so in a solution of:

1 cup of warm water
1/3 teaspoon of baking soda
3 drops of your chosen essential oil(s)

(shake the solution well)

After soaking, rinse well and lay the brushes flat on a clean towel to dry. For the best results, treat your makeup brushes this way every month or so – give or take depending on how often you wear makeup!

Clearing Up Acne Improves Confidence!!

According to About.com, “A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology found that acne patients experienced social, psychological, and emotional ramifications at the same level of those with chronic health problems, such as epilepsy, diabetes, and arthritis.” As someone who has gone through it myself, I have no problem believing this.

As I said before, I once suffered from incredibly severe acne and it’s hard to put into words exactly how much it can diminish your confidence. If you have this problem, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Although I tried many commercial products to clear up my skin, what would happen is that it would clear up for a couple of weeks and then gradually become worse again until I was back where I started. It wasn’t until I started using oil based skin care products like the ones I made myself that my skin actually improved for good.

I hope that you have the same experience after trying essential oils for your skin. xx

Why I DON’T Support Stricter Cosmetic Regulation

I feel like one of my callings in life is to spread the word about living a less toxic life. Not everyone knows that so much of our food and personal care products are loaded with junk ingredients that are causing serious health issues throughout the population. 

Many others who share this passion of mine promote the idea that stricter government regulation on toxic ingredients would be the best way to handle this issue. I don’t agree.
Government regulation is notoriously inefficient. It’s also never as effective as it should be. Bureaucracy looks a lot better on paper than it plays out in real life. 
For one thing, it’s expensive. There’s a of government staff to pay, after all.
Look at organic food: is it really that much more expensive to grow it? Not necessarily, but USDA certification is expensive and cumbersome, and it turns out it doesn’t really solve the problem anyway.
There are a TON of small businesses making awesome natural skin care products that are free of toxins, healthy to use, and work much better than anything you can buy in a store. The only way a LOT of these businesses are able to operate is in a fairly unregulated market. 
Are there crappy companies putting out junk products by taking advantage of this? For sure. But you don’t have to buy anything from them, because there are a ton of other WONDERFUL businesses making AWESOME skin care products that you can buy from.
Many of these businesses would have to close up shop if they were burdened with the obligation to get government certified. I don’t want that. 
Consumer education is more effective. That’s why I want to continue studying the relationship between health and our food, personal care and lifestyle and share what I learn. What I DON’T want is for laws to come into place that will place a work at home mom in jail or burden her with heavy fines for making a batch of body butter in her kitchen and selling it. 
Now, I’ve sold my own homemade products in the past, and some of you who have known me awhile might think I’m biased for thinking this. Of course I am, but I can honestly say I would still feel this way even if I’d never been there myself. 
It comes down to this: You have to make a decision between educating yourself and actively choosing what to buy – and vote with your dollars by doing that OR vote to enable expensive, inefficient systems paid for by tax dollars so that the government can do it for you (but not really..).

Cold Brew Coffee, Where Have You Been All My Life?

It’s hot out.

But here I am, still addicted to coffee, all “I don’t waaaannnnnnaaaaaa boil water. I don’t waaaaaannnnaaa wait for drip coffee to get cold in the fridge.”

So I started cold-brewing my coffee a couple weeks ago and everything is right in my world once again. In fact, I think this might be my new favorite way to prepare coffee!

It’s super easy:

  1. Mix water and coffee grounds. (I use just shy of 2 liters of water / 1 cup of coffee grounds)
  2. Wait. (I am bad at this, so I just go to bed.)
  3. Strain. (I use a french press. You can also use cheesecloth, a clean dishtowel, or a mesh strainer.)
  4. Drink. (I do this very fast and with much rejoicing.)
You can get really efficient about this and have multiple pitchers of coffee and grounds “brewing” in the fridge at the same time so you’re never out. 
You should let the coffee brew for at least 7-8 hours, but I really like the way it tastes after about 12. 
What’s really amazing is how smooth the coffee tastes when you make it this way. There’s no “acidic” taste. I assume the coffee is probably easier on you stomach, too, so if you have that problem – give this a whirl!
Serious Eats called this “coffee concentrate” but I laugh in the face of danger and drink it with just a splash of milk, a few drops of stevia, and vanilla.  
What will you put in yours? 

Keep Calm and Live Naturally – How I (Mostly) Stopped Yelling At My Kids

I joined Kristen’s (of When At Home fame) Thrive Intentionally group on Facebook a few months ago. The group is “A safe place to share goals, accomplishments, challenges, financial encouragement and whatever else comes to mind. The purpose is to be intentional about life so that we can thrive in it.”
I’ve shared a few of my goals there for accountability – the biggest one was at the end of last year when I set out to stop yelling at my kids. And you know what? I think I’m there. As much as I’ll ever be, anyway.  
Have there been difficult moments? Yes. Have I lost my cool? Totally.
But it’s no longer my knee-jerk reaction to any unexpected situation to FREAK OUT and get overwhelmed. “Losing it” happens less and less often as time goes on – and when it does, I’m quicker to apologize to my family. I’m more calm in general. I worry less. Learning to control my anger has changed everything for me – and for them.
It’s hard to break any bad habit. This was challenging for me and I believe that a big reason for that is that anger, emotions, stress – they’re not just emotional but physical. You won’t be surprised that I took a holistic approach to dealing with this.
I’m not “done.” I would still love to grow even further in this area. But it’s going well, and a few people have wanted to know what I’ve been doing, so here we go.
Here are some of the ways I’ve grown in managing my emotions and all but stopped yelling at my kids. 
Get accountability.
Tell people about your goal! Having that accountability makes you more aware of your actions. Telling someone who is around a lot and can gently remind you to be mindful is also helpful.
Set reminders.
I love this idea from Amanda at Dirt and Boogers. She puts up physical reminders of her goal – yellow paper hearts – all over her home to remind her not to yell.
Identify triggers + map out coping strategies.
What do you yell about? I used to yell about two things in particular: messes and disobedience. Now, we deal with messes by having several quick “pickups” throughout the day. When I’m getting frustrated with my kids (for any reason) I step back and think about how I want to respond, rather than react.
Have an emergency plan. 
Sometimes there are overwhelming moments. Life happens. Know what to do in those moments. I have a few tactics here. Aromatherapy is one. Getting alone to pray helps. You’ll figure out what it is you need to do when you start to slip. 
Maintain wellness.
Emotions are so much easier to manage when you’re well. A few things I’ve found particularly important are:
  • Getting enough rest. “Enough” is different for everyone and I’m not convinced it’s one steady number all the time. (Also: Did you know that women on average need more sleep than men? Not relevant, but interesting…) Sometimes I need 9 hours of sleep, sometimes I jump out of bed ready to go after 5. *shrug* “Enough” rest usually means that you’re able to wake without an alarm.
  • Stop eating sugar. I quit sugar at the end of last year and the couple of times I’ve had it while we were out and about, I’ve noticed how drastically it affects my mood! I think all simple carbs have this effect. Low GI foods don’t cause the “carb crash.” Pair carbs with lots of protein.
  • Have fun. It’s okay (and necessary) to do things that you enjoy doing for the simple reason of having fun. It’s okay to not be “productive” every minute of your life. It’s okay to have hobbies, interests, and to spend time with friends just for pleasure. I have to remind myself of this often.
  • Moooooooooove. I know exercise is boring, but there are lots of ways to make it fun. You can play outside with your kids, or dance, or hike somewhere beautiful. It’s not all workout DVDs and smelly gyms, my friends. 
  • Take care of yourself. Whatever that means for you – for me, it’s brushing my hair, getting dressed. Simple, right? Maybe it’s a mom/work-at-home thing, but days on end of a top knot and yoga pants happens easily, but it makes me feel like crap about myself.
I feel great about achieving this goal and I hope I can learn even more about managing my emotions. My family deserves it! I deserve it! I pin stuff to a board called calm. if you want to follow me there… I also started a Facebook group to connect those of us who are working on this. Let’s support each other!
Do you yell more than you’d like? Are you working on managing your emotions? What do you think will help you the most?
Resources:

Why I’m Using Natural Deodorant // an Arborstead review

I’ve tried dozens of different deodorants and antiperspirants over the years, including versions I’ve made myself. Store-bought “natural” deodorants have always left me disappointed, either because the ingredients turn out to be junk or they just don’t work. While some of the recipes I’ve tried have been good, I have never gotten one right on the first try. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get it down, and frankly, I’m over it. Deodorant just isn’t that exciting for me. ;)
But it’s still important to me to use a natural deodorant, due to the health risks linked to the ingredients in conventional antiperspirants.
Why Use a Natural Deodorant?
Aluminum, which is used in conventional antiperspirants as the main active ingredient, is linked to breast cancer
I’m also wary of the concept of antiperspirant in general. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense that blocking sweat glands could lead to health issues. Sweating is one of the ways our bodies get rid of toxins, and we inhibit that with antiperspirants.
Arborstead – This One Works! 
When Laura, the co-owner of Arborstead natural products asked me to try their products, I knew I was in for a treat. Their natural deodorants are one of their main products and are TRULY natural. The ingredients list was free of anything sketchy and they also had some really great reviews already. Arborstead sent me a sample of each of their scents as well as a full sized Patchouli + Ylang ylang combo – that was my choice and after sampling each scent, it’s still my favorite! I’m glad I chose it – I love anything ylang ylang.

They have 8 scents to choose from: 
  • Bergamot & Black Pepper
  • Ginger & Lime
  • Lavender
  • Patchouli & Clove
  • Patchouli & Ylang Ylang
  • Rosemary
  • Sage & Juniper
  • Lemongrass + Eucalyptus
A couple things I LOVE about their deodorants are that the scent combinations are really unique AND they aren’t lacking in scent at all. In fact… something kind of funny happened:
I think all the scents, except maybe lavender, are pretty gender neutral.
One thing I found was that the deodorants are really soft, so if they are warm or if you twist the product up too far, it can get a bit messy to use. Because it works well (and that’s the important part), it’s not a deal-breaker for me, but it’s something to be aware of. I have gotten used to being careful while putting it on.
Bottom line: I definitely recommend Arborstead for their deodorants alone – but they have even MORE awesome products on tap of that. I was also able to try their lip balms and their natural wood polish – both of which work as promised on their website. Their lemongrass + basil lip balm is always in my bag!

Check out Arborstead on Etsy here -> http://arborstead.etsy.com
A Giveaway!



Made in the USA Giveaway Arborstead is generously giving away a $100 gift card to their shop to one of my readers! Enter below…

This giveaway is a part of the Made in USA giveaway hop hosted by Happy MotheringEasy Green Mom and Brittleby’s Corner through the Green Moms Network. Each blogger in the hop is hosting an individual giveaway with prizes that are all Made in the USA in honor of Independence Day. Be sure to visit them after entering this giveaway!

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$50 Vitacost Gift Card Giveaway!

Hey friends! it’s your lucky day. I’m giving away a $50 Vitacost gift card as part of the 2nd Annual Summer Sweeping to Win Giveaway Hop, hosted by the Blogging Mamas Network! You can use it for snacks, drinks, or whatever else your healthy little heart desires. ;) Vitacost has it all!

Enter using the Rafflecopter below – and be sure to check out the other giveaways in the hop!

Happy summer!!

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So Easy Being Green, Viva Veltoro, the Blogging Mamas Network, and the Summer Sweeping participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations. This individual giveaway is self-sponsored and not officially affiliated with Vitacost.