Why Every Woman Should Experience a Korean Spa

I recently had my first Korean Spa experience. For an entry fee of $20, I had an unlimited amount of time to enjoy a hot whirlpool, a rejuvenating cold pool, a healing tea pool, a sauna, a steam room, an infrared room, a Himalayan sea salt room, and an invaluable lesson on stereotypes and sisterhood.

To explain a Korean Spa is to simply say that the above amenities are enjoyed naked. I don’t mean naked under a sarong, or naked under a towel. I mean naked like you entered the world four seconds ago. This is how you walk around. All day. The herbal tea station offers nothing to “take off the edge” either, unless chamomile makes you a fearless rock star. But that’s okay. This is a feat to face sober. Sharing a day with naked female strangers is a wonderfully sobering experience that lends clarity to the bond that women hold but rarely recognize – our beautiful selves.

When you’re forced to get naked, the view isn’t always pretty. I’m talking about the psychological view. I am not proud to admit the following, but in the spirit of nakedness, I will confess that my first inclination was to scope out all of the women I looked better than. Please don’t think I’m an asshole for this, as my second and immediate inclination was to call myself an asshole for doing that. It was an insecurity defense that I must’ve learned from magazines? movies? society? in grade school? No matter. I take full responsibility for my initial reaction, which truly isn’t how I conduct myself in day-to-day life. It’s interesting (and embarrassing) where the mind goes when it’s scared.

Once the fear, the judgement, and the chastising for judgement passed, I was able to relax. After all, I was at a spa.

So I threw back a shot of chamomile tea (it was hot – that wasn’t smart) and proceeded into the pool area like a fearless (naked) rock star. And do you know what happened next? Nothing. No one pointed. No one commented. No one broke into song (although I kind of wished they did – I love musicals and totally accept people breaking into song as a plausible occurrence). Every woman in the room simply continued to…be a woman. And they were lovely. As a group, the women were truly lovely. It’s an observation I had not made in a really long time.

All kinds of women were present – toned and dimply, taut and loose, tucked and sagging, large and small, dark and light, tall and short, hairy and smooth, disabled and able, scarred and unscarred, opinionated and indifferent, introverted and extroverted, and the list continues. Other than gender, the loud bonding factor we shared was the trepid expression followed by relief as we entered the facility filled with other women.

This observation struck a sad nerve with me, and it occurred to me that maybe as a society, we’ve been conditioned to believe that women, especially in groups, are judgmental, psycho competitive, and mean. Sure, we can all say yeah, but I know this one woman who…, but that’s one woman. Or maybe we all know a few women who…, but again, that’s a selected minority of individuals who have chosen to be crazy (this word is associated with women way too often). When did this one woman or a few women become all women? How did this trend catch so much fire?

All men aren’t cheaters. All cops aren’t racists. All homeless aren’t drug addicts. All overweight people aren’t lazy. All (pick your race) aren’t (pick your stereotype). These irresponsible lists are endless and they’ve become dangerous in its perpetuation. The danger lies in how quickly these statements turn into belief systems, and I’m just as guilty as anyone for entering this danger zone of belief —  I walked into a room full of women and waited to be attacked. Ummm, so I walked into a room of my own kind and waited to be attacked? And to make it worse, I put up a rude defense in anticipation of an attack that never happened. That’s terrible, especially since I’ve always been surrounded by fantastic women and I forever cherish my female friendships. While I strongly feel that the media and entertainment industries have been most irresponsible in carrying out these stereotypes, it is our individual responsibility to not blow air on these fires of misguided thought.

What an injustice it is to approach others (and ourselves) in any other way than with a blank slate. My day at the spa was rejuvenating to my body and to my body of beliefs, some of which had gotten a little more off track than I care to admit.

Maybe I didn’t have to get naked to realize all of this. Or maybe I did. Either way, I’m glad I was reminded of the special privilege it is to be a woman. This isn’t to say that women are better than men (I would never say that…publicly…smiley emoticon anyone?). It’s a privilege to simply be alive and what an enjoyable honor it is to share the ties that bind me with an incredible gender of sisters.

(I feel like I should cue a Beyonce song or something right about now.)

CLEAN, SIMPLE, PURE, and FABULOUS FACE CREAM

cream end

I have made a face cream that is PERFECT for my interesting skin, which is acne-prone, super sensitive, and with a health condition which carries a slow healing process (Don’t be jealous, people). As a side plus, this cream is a GREAT blend for smoothing the appearance of stretch marks (not that anyone writing this has those…).

The key to creating fluffy, smooth cream is using the ratio of 75% hard oil to 25% liquid oil. Because Shea Butter (hard) and Safflower Oil (liquid) carry a 0% pore-clogging rate on the comedogenic (acne causing) ratings chart, I chose those for my base.

Ingredients:

  • Shea butter (raw, unrefined) – about 1/5 block
  • Safflower Oil – about 1/3 cup (but you can add more as per instructions below)
  • Essential Oils: Elemi, Geranium, Lavender, Tea Tree (I choose 1st distillation, therapeutic-grade EOs…Umm, it’s for my face!)

Instructions:

1. Melt shea butter in a double broiler.

2. Pour into glass bowl, place in freezer for 20 minutes to cool and harden (Consistency will be plushy and soft with a little liquid in the middle – think hardened grease/fat consistency.).

3. Transfer shea butter to new glass bowl, add safflower oil, mix with blender (Consistency should start to become fluffy and smooth like cake batter. Add more safflower oil if the mix is too hard.).

4. Add 20 drops of each essential oil:

  • Elemi for smoothing and toning
  • Geranium for regenerating
  • Lavender for calming
  • Tea Tree for cleansing

5. Transfer cream to an airtight glass jar and enjoy!
melt cream1cream2cream3 #DoNotEatTheBatter

A Tale of Two Memorial Days

There are two ways in which I have honored and will continue to honor Memorial Day: before my brother went to war and after my brother went to war.

I very vividly remember learning what Memorial Day was as a kid and feeling conflicted about “celebrating” it. There were groups of families who weren’t looking forward to this special Monday like I was. I didn’t know any of those families, of course. All of the families I knew were like mine with some variation on the day’s activities – barbecues, going down the shore (that’s how we tri-state people say going to the beach), park festivals, block buster movie-going, you name it. The three-day weekend was game for anything as it was the kickoff to summer. As for my family, we barbecued. Every year. And it was a blast!

Either my family drove across the Ben Franklin Bridge to Cherry Hill, NJ or my cousins drove across to West Chester, PA. Both drives led to a house with a smoking grill lined with hamburgers and a backyard set up for an annual badminton game (As a side note, I’d like to publicly state for the record that my cousin Ken and I are reigning champs, although this has been heavily disputed). My brother, my cousins, and I held play-to-the-death summer backyard badminton games for years…like, well into our twenties…like, our last game being in our thirties (where Ken and I reign as champs – just wanted to get that in again). We literally wore brown patches into what had been green grass on either side of the net because we played so hard. This thrilled our parents as home owners. Ah, but they didn’t really care. It was a great day for them too – a day off from work with good eats, good laughs, and a good life. Parents were happy, kids were happy, and summer vacation was a couple of weeks away – Memorial Day was a fantastic holiday!

That was before my brother went to war. Twice.

My brother served in the U.S. Army with deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Those years were the most horrible Memorial Days to date. How could I ignore the obvious wonderment of whether I would forever be a part of those “groups of families who weren’t looking forward to this special Monday” next year (and every year thereafter)? It was terrifying, and yet I knew it served zero purpose to live in that headspace, so I made efforts to not be the emotional basket case I felt like and attended a barbecue or joined in on the activity of the day like it’s just another fantastic holiday. Waves of emotion repeatedly washed over me throughout the day, and I wanted to stop the party and yell Hey! Why is everyone laughing and having a good time? This is a sad day. And, who knows, this could be one of my saddest days for a long time to come. But I didn’t do that. I fake laughed, fake smiled for pictures, and took a bathroom break when I needed to dry a subtle watering eye.

The most beautiful phone call I ever received was the one where I learned that my brother had landed safely on U.S. soil. He was home for good and with no plans for future deployments. I breathed…honestly, for the first time in years. I hadn’t realized that I was even holding my breath. He was going to be here next Memorial Day and for every Memorial Day after. We could barbecue, play badminton, go down the shore, or do anything we wanted like other complete families. All was great. But it wasn’t.

Now it’s after my brother went to war.

Memorial Days since haven’t felt like that old fun. My breathing still becomes tepid. Old familiar fears creep up and mix with tears of deep gratitude that I can’t properly put into words. And to be completely honest, I feel guilty. My answered prayer is someone else’s unanswered prayer. My greatest fear is someone else’s harshest reality. I feel guilty (but so grateful) that I got what I wanted and so many others didn’t.

While I don’t pretend for one second to associate with the grief of fallen soldiers’ families, my worst fear gave me a glimpse into their every day, and I sincerely don’t know how they deal with Memorial Day. How do they gather for a barbecue with an empty seat at the picnic table? How do they play badminton with a teammate gone? How do they breathe? No really. How do they breathe?

Sometimes I think it would be great to go back to those happy Memorial Days with barbecues and badminton games when it was a fantastic holiday (before). Now (after), I think Memorial Day is a fantastic day to offer up prayers for fallen soldiers and their families. It’s a fantastic day to reach out to veterans from any wartime era because they may be missing a comrade. Most of all, it’s a fantastic day to be grateful for life. So many lives were given for ours. That’s the trade-off. That’s how war and peace, which is to say evil vs. good, was designed. It always has been, and it always will be.

So I won’t wish you a happy Memorial Day because we wish each other happy birthday, and this is not a day in the same vein. I do, however, hope you have a fantastic Memorial Day, and how you make it fantastic is up to you.

memorial day

EndoFlex: Energy Lost and Energy FOUND!

Adrenal fatigue is when your adrenals cannot adequately meet the demands of stress (physical, emotional, psychological). This was me! All the coffee in the world wasn’t giving me the “pep” I needed to maintain motivation for an active day. My nutritionist suggested taking adrenal caps which were way above my priceline (the good ones anyway). I did some oil nerd research, which led me to EndoFlex.

EndoFlex contains sesame seed oil to easily penetrate the skin and is a blend of the following essential oils: Spearmint, Sage, Geranium, Myrtle, German Chamomile, and Nutmeg. It can be diffused, applied topically to the thyroid and to the kidney/adrenal areas on the back, and taken internally.

The energy boost isn’t like a caffeine jolt with its accompanying crash. It’s a subtle, stamina-keeper for a long day. EndoFlex coupled with proper diet and exercise has truly supported my energy needs. Oil enthusiasts all have oils that they will never be without. EndoFlex is mine 🙂

EndoFlex (2)

Do YL Essential Oils “Cure” My Issues?

To begin, if anyone other than a certified medical professional tells you that they have a product that “cures” your issues in question, hide your wallet, run for the hills, and report that person and their product immediately…if you can get good cell reception in the hills that you’re hiding in, that is.

No. YLEOs do not cure your issues. What they do is provide powerful assistance and deep relief to alleviate your issues.

For example, let’s take one of my all time favorite YLEOs – Stress Away. I mean, the name gives away the oil’s intended use, but let me break down how it “cures” me when I use it (on the daily!).  So Stress Away has never paid my rent (rude), or confronted my mean boss at work (so rude), or found my soul mate (I can’t even talk about how rude this is). Stress Away has made me take a deep breath, relax and center myself, and proceed with my action or train of thought with a grounded approach.

Much in the way that meditation is recommended and used during times of disease treatments, so are therapeutic grade essential oils. Neither meditation nor essential oils are recommended to cure the disease, but rather to aid in the body’s overall desire to heal itself through complete health, which is the mind, body, and spirit. When one teeters, the other two often fall like dominos. The stronger the dominos, the harder they are to fall.

I hope the following goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: Always, always, always consult with your doctor about using any product when being treated for serious health issues…but you already knew this, right?

So be good to yourself so that your body will be good to you in return.

drinks stress away

…you can, but it’s “frowned upon.”

 

 

Why Young Living Is The ONLY Brand I’ll Use

So I’m not a big fad bandwagon-jumper, especially when it comes to health and nutrition, because reports never fail to surface that the “breakthrough” product/trend actually melts your kidneys, shrivels your heart, and makes you forget how to comb your hair. Yes you can join the inevitable class action lawsuit, but by the time it’s settled, you walk away with your cut of $35, gummy kidneys, a raisin heart, and messy hair. Yeaaahh, I’ll pass.

I did my research on essential oil brands and was floored by what is allowed to be bottled and sold. For my money (which I don’t care to waste), I want pure, therapeutic-grade, medicinal quality oils for addressing my personal issues of joint discomfort, skin irritations, and emotional grounding and balance. You can read the sexy graphic below, but I MUST tell you about my two favorite key elements that sold me on Young Living’s honesty and integrity:

  1. YL oils never expire. Bam! Only synthetic additives would make a pure-labeled oil expire.
  2. YL bottles their oils at first distillation. This is huge! Store bought oils and the greater majority of competitor brands bottle at complete distillation. Think of distillation in terms of making a cup of tea. First distillation is using the tea bag once and throwing it away. Complete distillation is using that same tea bag for upwards of five times and then bottling. Umm, I’ll have the first cup that functions as actual tea, thanks.

Okay, here’s that sexy, informative graphic for you:

ylu-seed-to-seal-infographic

Contact me with any questions 🙂

https://www.youngliving.com/vo/#/signup/start?site=US&sponsorid=2186634&enrollerid=2186634