Think Dirty and Read Labels!

In the past few years, I’ve become mindful of my body and the things I’m putting in it and on it.

From reading food labels in the grocery store (and trying to eat healthier) to reading the labels on my lotions and body care items, I tend to spend a little extra each month to make sure that any food items or hygiene products that I’m using won’t cause long term health problems.

It started back a few years ago when the aluminum in women’s deodorant was being linked to breast cancer. That was all I need to hear before I started looking at the aluminum free selections in the store and veering away from brands like Secret and Dove.

Then I got savvy with my food. I began questioning myself every time I went to the grocery store. Where was it coming from? Who was growing it? What did genetically modified mean? I did a little digging around and found that GMO’s were not for me. It woke me up to the disparaging state of our food industry and the gross injustices that products labeled “organic” or as I like to think of it, “not fucked with” are twice the price of items that were grown honestly and who’s path can be easily traced from the farm to the store.

Further I saw how outrageously overpriced healthy foods were and how terribly under priced everything processed or manufactured was. When I moved to New Haven, I began to buy my produce directly from CT farmers at the Wooster St. Farmer’s market. It was the most secure grocery shopping I had ever done. I knew where it came from and I knew how long it would last and I wasn’t spending a fortune. Win Win.

Lastly, I’ve been trying to get a handle on what I’m using on my hair and skin. Perfumes, cosmetics, hair products. I recently downloaded the app, Think Dirty, and took it to my bathroom shelves. The app is designed to scan a product’s bar code, and then report back the toxicity  and the long term health risks of what you’re using. Its amazing how careless people can be when it comes to putting things on their skin. We tend to take for granted that our skin absorbs whatever we put on it. I cringe at the thought now, thinking about how topical things still have to get processed through our internal organs and how damaging all those unchecked labels can be to our overall, long term health. Some of the products I was using were “dirty” either in carcinogenicity, developmental & reproductive toxicity, or in immunotoxicities. Health problems that were a mystery were actually being caused by what I was putting on my skin, and ceasing to use certain products has remedied those issues.

Though I thought I was being so careful reading labels, I was still surprised at how much product I threw out. Sunscreen, lotions, eye shadows and even one bottle of hair product that I thought was totally safe, were disposed of.

So what remains on my shelf? What labels were safe and good and checked out well with the Think Dirty App? Granted, the items that I use might not work for you (for instance, I have naturally curly hair, so I use a lot of curly hair products) and maybe your skin type is different from mine (lovely combination skin that can’t make up its mind whether to be dry or greasy). But I urge you to READ THE LABELS of what you’re buying. It’s not hard to find an equivalent to whatever you’re already using. It might be more expensive, but so is poor healthy. I feel a personal level of responsibility to take care of myself as best I can in the age of information. Plus, bonus- if you’re unsure what you replace your toxic items with, Think Dirty will provide you with alternatives.

So here’s a compiled list of what I’ve found to be safe so far:

Shea Moisture – I frequently use their soaps, scrubs and occasionally their hair products. I love this line, and I love that they are so much more than a company. Some of the proceeds from their products even go to various causes combating poverty, empowering women through educational grants, building schools, and even matching employees charitable giving.

Everyone 3-in-1 Lavender & Aloe Lotion (EO Products)–  One of the best buys I made was this lotion. I use it for my face and body. The product commitment and the certifications of their products is wonderful – the label reads Organic, Non-GMO, No synthetic fragrances, cruelty free, gluten free.  I encourage you to read up on the company here.

Burt’s Bees Rhubarb Lip Shimmer – I love it when I find a good red lip color. I was sad to have to part with my favorite red lipstick because it scored so poorly on the app, but I was happy to see that my beloved Burt’s Bees checked out just fine.

Other great lines of natural/ handmade products I’ve encountered over the last year are Lush Cosmetics and Ava Anderson. I’ll actually be making a trip to Lush this weekend in honor of Valentine’s Day.

treatyoself

Here’s to reading labels, and creating healthy regiments!

 

 

So It Is and So It Begins

Give Birth to Yourself

When I had Facebook, for a very long time, this quote was my cover photo.

I loved it because it reinforced in me the need to get to the heart of who I am as a person and where I want to go in life. It also gave me a great deal of perspective during my single years (and currently).

I connect with this even more now, as I am taking on new positions and grand ventures. I’m not worried about any of those things, because I’ve finally learned that everything has its time, and I’m finally trusting the timing of my life.

When I was in high school, I had it all figured out. I’d go to college, move out of my house by the time I was 21, live alone for a while and be a massage therapist/ actress and eventually  end up living in NYC with my husband and first baby.

Yup. BIG PLANS!

Funny how things don’t happen the way we wish them to.

I’m 29, single, and I just moved out of my parents house last week and I’m working as an Admin while I figure out what I want to do my Master’s in.

Between my teen years and now, my perspective has changed a great deal: from wanting a husband and a baby to wanting to first do things on my own. To live alone, to get to know myself first before I try wrangling another person into the mix. It’s like the Rolling Stones said, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need.”

This is what I need.

I’ve always had an independent spirit and right now I feel like it’s actually running free. I love it. I love going home to my tiny apartment and feeling a sense of pride, knowing I’m responsible for it. The cleaning, the supplying, the coziness of the space is all up to my own design. I’m taking all the love I have and putting it out into this space to make it full of love and welcoming. It’s the best feeling ever.

It is so much fun getting acclimated, cooking for myself and taking care of myself.

This is my path, and I’ve never been so happy to be on it.

I still hope to meet someone and fall in love, but not the way I initially imagined it. First of all, I want to take the time to actually fall in love and not just jump into it like I have in the past. When romance has graced my life, it always goes from 0-Relationship with very little “getting to know you” time. My ideas of love are always best conveyed with music. What use to sound like a crazy fast romance, love at first site type thing has done a complete 180. Now, it sounds something like this:

I want someone I can be friends with first and really get to know. That quiet kind of love, the kind that is felt when I hold their gaze, when I hear their voice, and when I feel their touch. The kind that conveys understanding and knowing that grows with each day, week, month and year that it progresses. Something that grows over time, and isn’t forced and rushed all at once.

And then I remember what I’ve learned about planning and I realize I probably have very little control over how it will happen and I’ll end up just going with it like I always do. But this time, I must insist on progression.

For now, I’m exactly where I want to be and where I need to be. The feeling of those two intersecting is giving me so much hope for what’s to come. I’m discovering so much about myself living alone, and building on the foundations of who I am that I’ve already established.

Life has become an even grander adventure.

Because you know its all about that balance, bout that balance…

Every morning, unless I have something pressing and immediate to do when I hit my desk, I open my browser and check the headlines of some of my favorite websites: HelloGiggles.com, Jezebel, Reuters, Huffington Post, and sometimes whatever is on Google/ Local news.

Mostly, the news I reads infuriates me, and I descend into an inward spiral of thought of, “Why is this still happening?” “This is so senseless,” and “Have we learned nothing.”

This line of thought is now followed swiftly by: “Time to stop reading.”

One of the things I hear a lot from friends these days is how they need to filter the information they’re constantly receiving. In the age of social media, we are constantly overloading ourselves with content- humor, news, tragedy; we can very easily burn ourselves out after 5 minutes of reading a news feed.

I started to notice this about myself a few months ago- I would be constantly logged on and attached to my Facebook page, (which is where I received most of my daily news) seeking content, reacting to it, posting, re-posting, inviting people to add their own energies to what it was I was reading/ experiencing/ seeing. And after a while, I just found it all exhausting. And I found that there was a lack of sincerity in me toward my Facebook connections: I’m seeing your life, feeling your pain, your joy, but I’m not directly involved. I’m removed from it but still experiencing it.

This is so freaking weird.

So I deleted my Facebook.

Ego

Reality Check here.

And now, each morning, I still open my usual news tabs and see what’s going on. And here’s how I approach news / media : If I’m reading something upsetting that pretty much drowns my faith in humanity, I follow it up with something uplifting that restores my faith in humanity.

In the last few months of using Facebook, I started to feel and realize I was exhausted – reading through my news feed and reacting to everything I was seeing and reading, internalizing it, thinking about it, was becoming too much. I began to pull back – logging out of the app on my phone, turning off notifications, not logging on while at work, and slowly began to really question what I was posting and putting out  there – thinking of the 104 individual connections I had, and imagining what their reaction was to my page. (* Note: Yes, 104, or 109 I think was my final number of friends before I deleted my account. I was always a fan of the Facebook clean out, and closing connections that were no longer viable).

Finally, one night, I furiously searched the control panels for the delete button. I didn’t want this anymore. I didn’t want to be accessible to people in this distant, inauthentic way. If one more person told me they “saw it on Facebook” I was going to lose my mind.

I craved human interaction, face – to- face (or a handwritten letter!) not Facebook.

I had prided myself for so long about being okay about being alone; but I wasn’t ever really alone. I had all these connections on this device in my pocket.

I wanted to make memories with my friends that didn’t involve check ins and posting status updates every time we went to the movies or out to dinner. I also wanted to focus on the people in front of me, not what my friends on Facebook were doing. Quality, not Quantity was my goal.

I wanted to waste less time getting sucked into looking at other people’s lives and spend more time creating the life I want to live. You know, the way people have been doing it for centuries, before social media.

I don’t want my life to ever resemble this:

Status

Finally, I successfully located the delete page (not the Deactivate page, the DELETE page). I was finally ready to move on, and I needed to act on it. So I filled out the form, scheduled for deletion, logged out and haven’t looked back.

Now, let’s be real – I’m no social media pariah. I still have Instagram (yes, I know, owned by Facebook: I never said I was perfect) and I still have my Twitter, Pinterest, and clearly, my WordPress. But I utilize my social media in a different way. I moderate myself with it ; my news feed is comprised of people I want to hear from and share my journey with, and some accounts that I can rely on for a good solid laugh. Do I sometimes still get sucked into the time-wasting-succbus that is the interwebz? Of course. But are the times that it happens getting shorter? Absolutely.

I’m moving into my first place in a few weeks (omg, #adulting!) and my current thought process is to not install internet immediately. I have book shelves full of books. The two shows I normally watch are both having their season finales this week and I won’t need cable until the fall when they start back up again. As an experiment, I want to see how long I can live without Internet and cable in the apartment. Who knows, perhaps I’ll actually read the entire Outlander series before Season 2 premieres. I have a GoodReads list 150 books deep of books I want to read. Perhaps now will be the time to do it.

My 29th birthday passed recently, and I just feel myself narrowing down my list of priorities. It’s been a few months of taking stock of where I’ve been (never forgetting) and realizing where I want to go. Since going off Facebook, I feel I bring more to my relationships (friends, colleagues, family, etc) because I’m not as distracted. Not to mention productivity at work is at an all time high.

I realize how much more there is to share with people that has nothing to do with what I saw on Facebook. I feel a more sincere interest in my friends and their lives by engaging them off of social media. Not everything has to be a broadcast.

Also- I came to realize just how much Facebook redefined the word “friend.” I realized going off Facebook how many people were actually acquaintances (which is perfectly fine!) and who my true and close friends really were. It also made me realize that perhaps there were people I wouldn’t have actively chosen to be friends with, if not for the mutual friend connection. There were times I wouldn’t accept friend requests because frankly, I met you once and don’t feel obligated to share my life with you. Its as if social media has created a massive platform of over sharing where people can just watch what you post, draw their inferences and pop you into a box/cookie mold and then move on to the next post.

And I no longer wanted any part of it. To quote Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” ‘I am large, I contain multitudes.”

I have so much more to offer people than articles I find interesting or pictures I find funny on a social media site.

I get more joy out of exclaiming about an article I read over glasses of wine with a friend than I do posting it to their “wall.” And thanks to texting and email, I can still share things when someone asks me to send it to them. It has become less about shoving media and news into people’s faces and more about discussion and engaging communication. ( Not to mention the passive aggressive status updates that I will never miss).

This is just my personal journey, but since getting off Facebook, I feel like I’ve gotten a life.

Social Media Real life

If you feel the same, similar, or differently, feel free to share it in the comments!

Somewhere I haven’t been before

First things first! Thank you for stopping by my blog today. If you’re feeling of a generous heart, I have  cause that is rather important to me.

One of my best friends is a school counselor in Bridgeport, CT. She is trying to raise funds for the graduating 8th grade class so that every child has the chance to participate in the graduation festivities (Class trip to NYC, caps and gowns for the ceremony, and a graduation banquet). It’s approximately $80/ child to participate in all 3. If you would like to donate, please follow this link to the GoFundme Page. Thank you for your consideration and generosity!

As much wanderlust as I have,
I’m finding it satiated in my current environment.

I’m dog/house sitting for someone- living completely alone for the first time in my life. It’s only for 5 days, but this is without a doubt a precursor of what is to come when I move out in a few months on my own.

Last night was the first night, and my companion (Finley!) was absolutely awesome. I came to the house, settled in, and for the first time in my life, I was quiet (shocker to everyone who knows me, because I am not a quiet person).

I was quiet and a bit cut off and it was nice.

This morning, I took care of my charge (the dog’s needs come first!) and then made breakfast. I used a perk coffee pot (old school!) and didn’t mess it up, and just sat outside, enjoying the morning.

The house is positioned on a hill, and the back yard drops off to a cliff side. The view of the upper parts of the trees is gorgeous at sunset; the warm glow of the sun and sky splash the trees with the most beautiful color I’ve ever seen.

I’ve made sure to pack plenty of books, and with my quietness, will probably write for the first time with complete clarity.

Also this week, I became privy to some very high profile dating advice, the kind that people pay a lot for. Through another’s generosity, I was able to watch a bunch of great videos that broke my dating ideals wide open.

One example the advisor gave really struck me over the head (well, lots of his advice did that) but this piece in particular is what I’ve been turning over in my head this morning.

He asked the audience if they’d ever seen someone try to play dolls with a little girl (Hi- I had Barbie’s until I was like 12). He observed that most times when someone played Barbies with a little girl, that she would say something to the effect of, “No, Barbie doesn’t sit there, she doesn’t do it like that, YOU’RE NOT PLAYING RIGHT!”

It was like a cartoon anvil fell on my head.

That has been me, in every single relationship- I have an idea in my head of what is suppose to happen, and while I’m not communicating it, I’m expecting the other person to just know how to play their part. And that isn’t entirely fair on my part.

How will I ever expect someone to sustain if I don’t communicate effectively with them? Maybe they are playing right- they’re playing the way they know how, which might be exactly what is desired, just in a different form.

I was never a huge Sex and the City fan (but I’ve been meaning to borrow the dvds from my cousin who is the ULTIMATE Sex and the City Fan), but I know enough to know that my last relationship was akin to that of Carrie and Mr. Big. (on again off again, crazy, inconvenient and don’t want to-live-without-you love, at least from my perspective).

Call it “being human” but I feel like a relationship surgeon, like the Cristina Yang of relationships. I feel like I can look back on what transpired and pluck out the exact moment when it got fucked up, and what I could have done differently. Its something that up until the dating advice, I was dwelling on.

Then I realized what I’ve always known- whatever is meant to be will find its way. That much in my life has always been a constant truth. I didn’t do it right this time, but next time looks really promising from here. I cannot control anything but myself, and I think that is the work that I need to do.

To borrow from Richard from Texas in Eat, Pray, Love, “You need to learn to select your thoughts the same way you select your clothes everyday. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.”

In the past few months alone, I’ve read a ton of books. Since last year, I have gotten back into reading, and it’s absolutely amazing. I feel that through reading, I have some of the answers needed to navigate my life. I just need to start incorporating more quiet time to let them plant more firmly and blossom.