Why Chemical Safety Matters

I am just sick today about the number of cancer diagnosis just within my small group of friends and family lately. I am sick of having to police everything that comes into our house for carcinogens. You know that there is absolutely no requirement for chemical safety testing of what goes into personal care products or cleaning products in the US, right? None. Truly, any chemical can be included for you to rub on your skin or inhale via cleaning. Companies test only enough to make sure that most people don’t see an immediate reaction. They are not required to prove the safety. No long term chemical safety testing. No testing of the cumulative effects over the long term (when small dosages “seem fine”).

I am not dumb enough to believe that legislation will happen to fix this. TCSA reform has been diluted to the point that it will be nearly useless in it’s final form. The chemical companies’ lobby groups have boundless financial resources because they are making so much profit by selling cheap products with dangerous ingredients to all of us. We and our children are the ones who will suffer the effects. I am done with it.

"The only way to address the chemical safety issue is to vote with our dollars, as we have done with food."

 

The only way to address the chemical safety issue is to vote with our dollars like we have done with food. We are seeing huge shifts as Kraft, General Mills, Subway, and even McDonalds start to move toward removing artificial ingredients because the consumers starting buying differently, NOT because of legislation.

Guys, we have to start doing this with our personal care products and our cleaning products. Is it fair that we have to monitor the things we buy on our own? No, it isn’t. We deserve for personal care and cleaning product companies to make ALL products from safer ingredients, not cheaper ingredients. We *should* be able to go to Target and buy whatever is on the shelf and not worry. But the only way we can get the companies to change is to change our buying behavior, just like food. It is a long road, but every purchase counts!

It’s not about privilege, it’s about being responsible with the privilege we have, at whatever level we have it. Those of us who can afford to make purchasing changes need to do it on behalf of those who cannot afford it yet, because we want the trickle down effect to be that the inexpensive products eventually become safer too, so that EVERYONE is safer. Think big picture. Think long term. Because the corporations and legislators are not. (and btw, as far as cleaning products, white vinegar and Bon Ami are about the cheapest cleaners there are and also the safest, so those changes can be made very cheaply)

And again, it’s not about being sanctimonious. I hope you all know me well enough to know that I don’t judge what anyone else buys or the different levels of “crunchiness”. Some days I make good choices, myself, and other days I make not-so-great ones. But it’s a journey. It’s about slowly shifting the paradigm. Again, big picture. Not giving up. Keep trying to find replacements that support the change.

Join me?

More info on chemical safety

Sustainable, responsible & functional yoga clothing

NOTE: I worked with Fit Approach on their #pranaSpringStyle campaign on Instagram and received a free prAna top (as shown below) in compensation. I received the top after the challenge was over, and I wrote my original post about the prAna mat more than a year before this. All opinions regarding prAna are my own. Jump directly to my discount code.

As you begin to expand your yoga journey outside the physical poses (asana) of yoga and start to take your mindfulness off of the mat and into your daily life, you might find yourself more aware of what kinds of companies and business practices you are supporting with your purchases. I know that has been a part of my own journey. Not only do I try to invest my clothing dollars in products that are made sustainably, are toxin-free, and whose companies practice environmental responsibility, but the bonus has been that the quality is often higher than cheaper pieces.

I’m currently teaching four yoga classes per week, one Lagree fitness class, and I try to take at least one class from another instructor, so I spend a lot of time in my yoga clothing. I not only practice in it, but I often end up transitioning directly from a class to preschool or elementary school pickup, or to the grocery store. (If you do this a lot too, I do have a DIY tutorial for a coverup skirt you might check out!) But the point is: I am now choosing quality over quantity. I can save up longer and slowly replace my cheaper pieces with longer lasting versions.

One company that has never let me down is prAna. Not only do I recommend their non-toxic rubber yoga mat, but I have loved every single piece of clothing of theirs that I have owned. I recently had the opportunity to participate in a daily yoga challenge celebrating their Spring Style line of clothing and loved the sense of community it built. You can look back on the posts by searching Instagram for the #prAnaSpringStyle hashtag. Here are some of my favorite shots from the challenge:

Well, that final picture was actually taken after the challenge, when I had received my new grey Quinn Jacquard Top from prAna. To be honest, I wasn’t sure about it from the picture on the site but it fits wonderfully. It moves with me, doesn’t rub in irritating places, and has full frontal coverage without having to add a sports bra. LOVE. And, it is certified bluesign®, which indicates the highest standard in the textile industry for environmental health and safety and chemical management – it’s a third party certification that prAna pays for, to ensure it’s not just greenwashing.

If you happen to be looking for some high quality, high performance, sustainably & ethically produced activewear you can get 15% off any prAna purchase right now using my code: PSSS16LC

And be sure to keep following myself and prAna on Instagram for challenges, inspiration, and the day-to-day active journey!

Recent thoughts on blogging

BeachWalkingBlogging

Perhaps you have noticed that the spaces between my posts get larger and larger? I’ve enjoyed sharing my tricks, tips, and even my life over the years with my blogging readers. I’ve spoken at Blogger 2013 and this past month at ShiftCon 2015. I have blogging friends, Twitter friends, and most recently, Instagram friends. People that I’ve never met in real life but I have shared important times with, and who encourage and inspire me every day.

Sometimes, truthfully, I hang onto the space just so that I won’t lose those friends. I want to say that I’m a blogger because I want to be with them.

But, truthfully.

As you probably know, I recently completed my yoga teacher training. I am in the midst of a study right now about making space in our lives for the divine, for the holy. In order to properly lead meditation, one must meditate.

With three new yoga classes per week and existing 1-2 Lagree classes to teach, where will this space to meditate and dwell come from?

It will not come from more activity. It will not come when the feeling of “I must do this next…” follows me every time I sit down for a moment.

My kids are growing up so fast. Little Sir just entered kindergarten, and Little Lady just cannot wait to join him. This is my last year at home with her. I cannot believe that he is not with us during the day anymore, and he never will be again. As much as I waited for the day when they would both be in school all day, I am already grieving for the time that is ending.

How will I spend this last year? Will I spend it dashing upstairs to get a blog post finished as they finish dinner? Will I spend it trying to drum up business for sponsored posts? Will I attend Twitter parties instead of putting them to bed at night?

No, my friends, I will not. Not because any of those things are wrong – many women with children enjoy them. I don’t. At least, not anymore.

And while the blogging conferences provided plenty of swag at Christmas time, the money for the travel could just as well have gone toward a family weekend.  And if I don’t spend the money at all, I don’t have to earn it through blogging, either.

I read the piece that Dooce published recently about stepping back from her own blogging. It felt a little bit like the end of an era. So many of the bloggers from those early years are stepping back. Gina of The Feminist Breeder, for example. Others have stepped back for a while and returned full force with new passion, like my friend Charmed Valerie.

Maybe I will be one of those who comes back in a few years with renewed vigor, who knows.

In yoga, we use the term “holding the space “. That phrase has been following me around for a few weeks. It describes the idea of sitting in silence (or even within activity around you) and waiting while something grows or becomes clear. It’s a nonjudgmental place, where there is no right or wrong answer. Just waiting to see what will happen, to understand what should happen.

Readers and friends, will you hold the space for me? I may visit now and then with some thoughts. But I am no longer going to promise to blog regularly.

For now, I am still loving Instagram, where you can find me @consciouslyjenny, and my new love is Periscope, where I am, incongruously, still @_conscientious. Please visit me there!
Love & hugs,

 

Jenny

My Favorite Yoga Jewelry

NOTE: I mention products in this post but I bought all this jewelry myself and the companies have no idea who I am. I’m not even using affiliate links, so take that, FCC.

It’s more than halfway through the year and I haven’t done an update on my 2015 to do list. A few of the items are going to fall off completely, due to last weeks post. Also due to last weeks post, I’m going to go back to blogging more along the format of my thinking.

One of my favorite to dos so far has been the jewelry. I actually thought this was going to be the worst, and in January I was really grumpy quite about it. But then I discovered a couple of things that have made it a little bit easier and more fun.

I admit that I am taking my jewelry inspiration from Instagram yogis, because that’s the look I’m most comfortable with. I think it’s a pretty good idea to find a style that resonates, follow people who wear the style well, and find similar pieces for yourself.

Tattoo Jewelry | Living Consciously Blog

I started out with tattoo jewelry. I love it because you don’t have to put it on in the morning, or take it off when you wash your hands or take a shower. There are tons of different brands nowadays, and I can’t really recommend one over another because I haven’t had that much experience. I found mine in the clearance aisle at Target for $2! A few popular brands include, Flash Tattoos and Hot Jewels. It’s a little pricey to buy online off those sites — I would actually recommend you go to a department store and look in the jewelry aisle or even the tween girls aisle for the best deals. If you are brave enough to go into Claire’s in a mall (I’m not), they have quite the selection as well. Warning: not all the brands lasted through a sweaty yoga practice. I got some nice, sparkly gold glitter on my rubber yoga mat at one point!

Another favorite yogi jewelry investment: malas. Malas are beaded necklaces and sometimes bracelets made of stones or seeds with specific healing or spiritual properties. A mala necklace always has 108 beans, while shorter necklaces or bracelets can have beads in other increments of 9 or 12, as those are sacred numbers in many traditions. A mala is used for meditation. You run each bead through your finger each time you say a mantra during meditation. That is why the number of beads is important, the mantras are supposed to be said a certain number of times. Malas have been used in many religious traditions, including Christian. They are related in a way to the Catholic rosary. There is actually nothing magical about a mala, but I like the way it is a piece of jewelry that is also useful. A mala is also said to carry the energy of your yoga practice and when it breaks that is the sign of an intentional being fulfilled and seen as a good thing. This is convenient since I’m super hard on jewelry and very likely to break mine. The cord is knotted between each bead so that when it breaks, the beads won’t scatter.

Malas, however, are not exactly cheap. They have to be handmade (knotting between the beads) and the intention set by the person who knots the mala is also important. The stones or seeds that they are made of are significant to different intentions in meditation. Because that was all too overwhelming for me, I signed up for a subscription to Yogi Surprise Jewelry box (referral link). They did not pay me to say this, and I don’t even have an account anymore because I couldn’t finanically sustain my subscription for more than 4 months. But let me say that their quality is very good and I enjoyed every piece I received from them! They send one mala-style necklace and one bracelet along with a  vegan, sustainable, fair-trade and whole-food chocolate treat each month. I seriously have to say that I loved nearly everything they sent. There was one chocolate that was too bitter for me, but that wasn’t their fault. If you are as overwhelmed by yoga jewelry options as I am, I highly recommend this box. Disclaimer: The link above is my referral link, if 3 of you sign up from it I will get a free box.

Malas And Yoga Jewelry |Living Consciously Blog

I found through my encounter with the surprise jewelry box that I really enjoy bracelets. I like the pretty music they make when I use my hands! It is like having beautiful hands. I actually am starting to see the gentle clicking as a reminder to be gentle and beautiful in my actions. Yes, that is kind of a woo-woo yogi thing to say, but why not? I am hoping at some point to invest in some MantraBands and Pura Vida bracelets to deepen those intentions.

I’d love to see your yoga (or otherwise) jewelry! Tag me in your photos on Instagram!

Where Did My Essential Oil Blog Posts Go? i.e. How I Lost 67% Of My Blog Traffic

Where Are My Essential Oil Blog Posts and Pins? | Living Consciously Blog

So hey, apparently upwards of 20,000 of you used to visit my blog every month from Pinterest for my essential oil recipes. Recipes that I still use literally every single day, multiple times a day. Where did my essential oil blog posts go? Well, I was forced to remove them all from my blog. Not only my own blog posts, but my entire Pinterest board of other peoples’ blog posts, as well any Twitter or personal Facebook posts where I mentioned how I used essential oils or how they work.

For the record, I’ve never really made discernible income from selling essential oils. I published the recipes for literally thousands of visitors to use and fewer than 20 people ever actually bought oils from links on this blog over 3 years. Even when those people bought oils from my site, I only got gift certificates for the purchase of more oils, at a ridiculous percentage like 5% or 10% of their purchase (I don’t even know because it was insignificant. I think the most I ever got was $10. Which required me to buy product to utilize.). When someone “signed up” under me, I got a one-time payment, but only if I had spent enough on product in the last few months, myself. I have had less than 40 people sign up “under” me in 3 years because I have never pushed oils on anyone. I never contacted anyone who signed up “under” me in order to pressure them to buy or sell oils. I also made sure to always post recipes that could be used with any brand of oil, not just the one that I sold.

I offer all these qualifications, not because I owe them to anyone, but because I want you to understand that I was not making money hand-over-fist from this endeavor. The only entity making money from the posts on this blog were the companies who sold the oils. The same company that came to me and told me that they would disconnect my account if I did not remove all these posts.

Not only was I asked to remove the posts on this blog, but also all the Pins of recipes I had pinned on Pinterest from other people’s blogs. You might say, “hey, no one can tell me what to Pin!”. That’s what I thought too, but apparently I was wrong. Because I tried to preserve some of the recipes on the Pinterest board and the company DID disconnect my essential oils account until I had deleted the entire board. All of the saved recipes, gone. So if you followed that board on Pinterest, that’s why you can’t find them anymore.

Why? Because of the FDA. In January 2015, the FDA sent warning letters to the two primary essential oil companies, who are both network marketing organizations {definition}, to alert them that their company representatives were making health claims about oils that are restricted only to drugs in the U.S. You can read the letters here. If you don’t live in the U.S. or aren’t familiar with the way the FDA works, it is an governmental organization that takes craptons of money from large corporations to put it’s stamp of approval on their products saying those products are safe. This organization is responsible for approving such chemicals as trans fats, in which evidence of serious harm built up for nearly 20 years before the organization finally admitted that the substance was clearly toxic. It had to wait that long to say something because it’s primary source of income is from drug companies, most of which sell drugs that combat the effects of trans fats.

Was it ridiculous that some people selling oils were claiming they could cure cancer and ebola? Probably so. There are also plenty of uninformed people out there advocating the misuse of oils without proper dilution, even now. And yes, that kind of abuse should be regulated by someone. But how far is it ok to take this? For example, a “headache” is a symptom of a number of diseases including glaucoma, brain cancers, and migraines. In the U.S., diseases are only allowed to be treated by FDA approved drugs. Only companies that have paid the FDA for review and approval can claim to cure disease. Therefore, according to the FDA, I cannot tell you that essential oils can help your headache, because that is the same as claiming the oils cure cancer or glaucoma (even though that’s not what I said). Because the essential oil companies didn’t pay the FDA for the right to say that.

As a Pinterest user, you’ll find that Pins about essential oils are being deleted from your boards or that the Pins now link to pages that no longer exist. All the recipes are gone, slowly being removed by the bloggers if they want to keep their personal access to the source of the oil.

For now, if you want to use essential oils daily for wellness as I do, my recommendation is to buy an essential oils pocket desk reference (affiliate link), which contains an extensive index of health issues and the appropriate oils and safe usage to treat them, as well as scientific research to back it all up.

I have deleted all references to the brand I use on this blog and also deleted the personal web site portal that I paid the company to allow me to offer the oils for sale directly online. Honestly, I have considered ending my relationship with the company. Right now, that’s still not off the table completely. But as I mentioned, I do use oils literally every day and believe in their effectiveness. I just can’t tell you about that anymore.

Fortunately, I’ve never been an essential oils blogger. This blog is a chronicle of my ongoing journey for health and wellness. It is indeed unfortunate that I am not longer allowed to share this facet of my journey with you. I hope to be following this blog post with another post about what direction I’d like to take with the blog in the future, as the drastic decrease in traffic leaves me with a bit of a challenge. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!