Welcome blog #sponsor Cottonbabies: not JUST for babies!

Find out how 6 diapers can change your world! {free shipping on all US orders} Cottonbabies.com

Welcome a new blog sponsor, Cottonbabies! I actually cloth diapered both my children (consecutively and simultaneously) in BumGenius diapers, which is how I learned about Cottonbabies. You can find my posts on cloth diapering here. If you’ve been with me a while, you’ll know that I also wrote for the Cottonbabies blog for several years — definitely check it out, it’s a great resource for parents.

It might be tempting to think of Cottonbabies as a store only for mothers with babies, but it’s actually a great resource for parents of children of all ages. I want to list a few of my favorite products for children who are past the baby stage, like mine are.

We use Earth Mama Angel Baby body products a lot around here, actually. The nipple butter is ALL we use on chapped lips (I haven’t breastfed for over 3 years). It has the staying powder of Vaseline but none of the petroleum byproducts. And it stings less than most chapsticks, although my second favorite EMAB product is their lip balm. It doesn’t sting the kids at all. My son says he likes it because “it isn’t spicy”.

Eco-friendly period products. If you don’t have a tilted cervix like me and can use menstrual cups, Cottonbabies carries DivaCup. For the less adventurous, they also carry Lunapads cloth pads and organic tampons.

Piggy Paint. Little Lady is dreadfully obsessed with nail polish right now. It would be terribly toxic, if Cottonbabies didn’t carry Piggy Paint! Unlike some other eco-friendly non-toxic brands, Piggy Paint really stays put for a long time on little fingers.

All kinds of eco-friendly, educational toys. They have a whole section of Pretend Play – my kids use the tea set made from recycled plastic literally every day in their play kitchen. You can even get an eco-friendly telescope or microscope for your Big Kid from Cottonbabies!

And probably the thing you’ll be most excited about if you shop at Cottonbabies online store: FREE SHIPPING!

The Cottonbabies banner ad will be on the left column for the next 3 months, any time you need it. Visit Cottonbabies today and let me know what you think!

Facebook Pages is dead, join my Facebook Group!

Did you know that when I post an update to this blog’s Facebook Page, only about 10 people see it? 20 people on a good day. After nearly 1,500 people have clicked “Like” for this Page over the years, only 20 of you (at most) are typically allowed to see my Page posts in your News Feed. Largely, this is because Facebook wants me to pay for my posts to be Promoted. Paying Facebook per News Feed appearance would ensure that my posts would show on more of your News Feeds when you log in and scroll down. Notice that I still said “some” and not “all”.

I have never paid for my Facebook Page posts to show up on your News Feed because this blog doesn’t make money. If this blog made money, I wouldn’t have set up a GoFundMe for my yoga teacher training, would I?

When my Facebook Page posts show up in your News Feed without paying is called “organic reach”. As in, it reaches people “naturally” because they “Like”ed a Page. In November of last year, Facebook finally announced that organic reach is dead. Facebook Page posts will not be seen by anyone who has “Like”ed a Page unless the Page owner pays, starting in January. I will now be required to pay for you to see my posts, even though you said you “Like” my Page and want to see my posts. It’s not for you to decide anymore. This action took effect some time within the last week or so. I can vouch for the impact already.

Obviously, I can’t pay. So you probably won’t see my Facebook Page posts anymore.

There are a few different routes we can take here if you’d still like to stay in touch via social media.

Twitter – who is on Twitter personally? I am, but I haven’t been on as often since it got very crowded. I’d love to connect with you there, so Reply to me there @_conscientious and let me know you’re a reader!

Google+ – are any of you on G+? I am, but I only use it personally – I don’t use the Page functionality. Feel free to Follow me there. Or whatever it is called on G+?

Instagram – follow me on IG, regardless, because I post there a lot. I basically do little mini-blog posts there. About yoga, nutrition, what my kids and I do. I heart Instagram!

My preferred option

Join me in the NEW! Living Consciously Facebook Group – What is the difference between a Facebook Page vs Group? In a Group, we all join the group and talk to each other. It’s not just me posting, although I will typically post to get the conversation going in various directions. I will moderate the Group (no being mean to each other! I will remove people if needed). But we can talk about and share articles about natural remedies and essential oils and avoiding GMOs and yoga and drinking wine at the end of the day! I am looking forward to it!

Join my Facebook Group: Facebook Page vs Group - Living Consciously BlogTo join:

1) either click this link to be taken to the Group or search for “Living Consciously Blog” on Facebook and click on the “Closed Group” option.

2) Look for the “Join Group” button and click it.

I’ll have to Approve your membership in the group, which should happen within a few hours.

3) Invite your friends to join the conversation!

 

Other ideas? I am open to your suggestions about how to connect outside of this blog to chat or to share information on living more consciously. You can also email me at jenny{at}living-consciously{dot}com.

 

2015 To Do List

As explained in previous years, I don’t make resolutions. I make “to do” lists, to help inspire me to complete tasks that I would otherwise skip. Sometimes it’s something around the house, sometimes it’s learning something new, and sometimes it’s actually self-care (last year: go to the dentist after 3 years). I have the entire year to get these things done…or not. At the end of the year, I give an update on how I’ve done (see the 2014 How Did I Do? post).

I’ve noticed that as I’ve looked toward 2015 with the changes in my approach to life that I gained in 2014, my “To Do” items got a little more long-term oriented. Perhaps a little less measurable than before. I’ll try to create some kind of measurement for each one, if I can.

2015 To Do List | Living Consciously Blog

1. Keep track of the money I make (or lose) in essential oils. If you know me in real life, or even just casually read the blog, you know that I don’t actively SELL oils. I mean, I am a distributor for essential oils and I buy them myself. I always have a link at the top of my blog if you want to buy from me online at retail prices (“Product List” in the navigation), or sign up under me to buy wholesale (“Sign Up Here” in the navigation). But I don’t push them. I don’t mention that I sell them very often. I do allow my local friends to order oils through me when I put in my monthly order and I only charge them what I pay. I pay the ($10-$11) shipping myself and don’t charge them for that. Unfortunately, I just realized last month that some of the oils I order for others are also taxed — and with some of the more expensive blends this can be as much as $6 — but I’ve never charged anyone tax. I often have someone tell me on Facebook that they want me to order an oil for them, I order it, and when I attempt to contact them to drop it off and collect payment, they never respond. Likewise, it is not unusual for me to deliver an order and not be repaid for as many as 4 weeks.

Basically, I am a terrible business person. I am horrible at math, bad at conducting business, and I don’t like to ask people to pay me.

I think the first step in the process of figuring out if I am even breaking even (probably not) is to open a separate checking account for the EO purchases. That way I can track the cash going in and out. I have avoided doing this since my husband and I have all joint accounts and having a separate account feels dishonest to me, somehow. But unless I want to keep losing our joint money, I have to separate these expenses.

Measurement: I should be able to at least give a rough guess as to whether I am losing money or gaining money, even if it’s not an exact number.

2. #handstandby40  If you follow me on Instagram, you know that in January 2014 I took a yoga arm balance workshop and almost immediately became obsessed with arm balances and yoga challenges. I vowed in 2014 that I would learn to handstand (a straight yoga handstand, which is done in complete stillness, no “walking” on the hands to maintain stability) by the time I turn 40. And by that, I mean be able to arrive in handstand reliably without falling and stay for as long as I want to, without falling due to instability. I literally practiced handstanding every single day from January to August, 8 straight months. If I was tired, if I was sick, if I hadn’t done a full yoga practice that day: handstand. 

In August, through practicing the yogic yama satya — truthfulness, including truthfulness to self — I realized that my body needed a rest to reach the next level. So I backed off of the handstand part of my practice. I actually saw an improvement for a few months! Less intensity was beneficial.

And then I got lazy about handstanding. At this point, I’ve lost the ability to arrive in handstand reliably, and cannot seem to maintain stability for as long anymore. I need to pick it up again with the handstand practice. I only have 3 years!

Measurement: Obviously, I’ll still have a little more than 2 years left until 40 at the end of 2015, so not having nailed handstands is OK. Let’s say that I hope to be able to arrive in handstand reliably. I shouldn’t have to fall over 5 times before I catch some air.

3. A less intense cleanse. I learned this year from my macrobiotic cleanse and my shorter liver detox, that cleanses are do-able. I was on the fence about cleanses until 2014. Now that I know I can do it, and that a short term cleanse (like the 2 week liver detox) does make me feel better, I’d like to investigate doing something more simple and short term a few times a year. Maybe something I even make up myself. Nothing expensive, and no more of these 30-day things. Just 3-5 days of very clean eating and lots of veggies in the Vitamix, perhaps?

Measurement: One cleanse, of any type. Bonus: 2 cleanses.

4. Learn to wear jewelry. Let’s not get crazy here. I am not a flashy person. I have worn the same silver hoops in all 6 of my ear holes 24/7 for the past 5 years at least. I am going to say that Hot Jewels count as jewelry here. And diffuser necklaces count too. But I really need to work on at least changing my earrings once a month. I think I might start documenting my success on Instagram. Maybe with the hashtag #learntowearjewelry?

Measurement: A few pictures on my Instagram this year showing that I wore jewelry of some kind without being forced (i.e., by a special occasion that requires jewelry).

5. Morning Time. Another practice I developed in the latter half of 2014 was getting up before my family is up and reading scripture and meditating. When it was warmer and I got up early enough, I also did some yoga. Since the weather turned cold, like a lizard I cannot maintain enough body heat to leave the blanket in the chair where I’m reading to do yoga in the morning, but I digress. The morning time has been good for my patience as a mom and my overall view of the ebb and flow of life throughout the day. I even feel like catching up on social media that early in the day is profitable because it keeps me from having to check my phone constantly while getting the kids ready in the morning.

Measurement: I’d like to be able to say at the end of 2015 that I maintained my morning time as a regular habit. That I committed to morning time more often than not.

2014 To Do List – How Did I Do?

Every year I make a To Do List instead of resolutions. This is the time of the year where I check in on my 2014 list to see how I did!

2014 To Do List - how did I do? | Living Consciously Blog

2014 To Do list

1. Go to the dentist.

Did it with a Groupon! Yay! They said they found 1 cavity for sure and maybe another one but I didn’t have the funds to fix it and it doesn’t hurt. I have been oil pulling in hopes that it will help delay any issues. The list didn’t say I had to fix anything!

2. Fix the paint in the half bath downstairs.

I did not do this. I did locate the paint but it is in this huge container that I cannot figure out how to open.

I think the only way to open it is to put it in the car (VERY HEAVY) and drive to the paint store where we bought it more than 3 years ago and ask them to open it with some kind of special tool. That is a lot of effort. Every time I thought about it, I had to go take a nap.

3. Eliminate the part time jobs that do not generate income.

I feel like I have done a really good job of this, even when it hurt. I am not teaching Kids Yoga anymore. Which made me sad and made some of my little yogis sad, but it was the best for my life balance and for my own children. At one point I was devoting around 8 hours a week to Kids Yoga and making less than $2 an hour when it came down to doing the math. There was also the stress of shuffling my own children to childcare and rushing to pick them up on time, etc. Letting go of that has been very beneficial overall.

I involuntarily lost many of my weekly Pilates classes when my studio cancelled morning classes. Which was painful, but necessary. I have been using the extra time in the mornings to have mindful reading and prayer. It’s actually be really great.

4. Try to blog at least 3 times a week.

Hahaha…. NO. I am down to about once a week, or every 10 days. However, I participated in a conversation with a few other bloggers last month about how our frequency has decreased but we all feel that we produce higher quality and our traffic has not suffered. So: thank you! Thank you for reading even when I post sporadically!

5. Address my health issues.

I really feel like I gave this my best shot. Things I did:

30 day macrobiotic cleanse (other posts here, here, here, and here)
natural skin care
naturopathic treatment
liver detox

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen much change. I had several months of severe flare-ups in digestion and skin issues after each attempt. Not the kind where the body is flushing out toxins, because I “waited it out” for 2 months each time and it did not get better. I am not sure what the next steps are, but I will keep you posted.

6. Keep up or even expand my personal yoga practice.

My favorite part of 2014 was getting back into a regular studio practice! I have seen huge growth by putting myself under the instruction of teachers whom I admire and by allowing my mind into the stillness that a dedicated practice demands. I have really loved the instructors at The Yoga Factory. I also visited Nama Shivaya in Dallas and enjoyed it as well. Something new that I tried in 2014 was Holy Yoga. I know, I totally laughed when I first heard about that, too. I will have a guest post coming in the next month explaining more about what it is and why I stopped laughing.

The summary of this year is really one of slowing down, listening for direction rather than blazing ahead, and growing inwardly. Waiting, accepting, and listening. In this listening, I have clearly heard that my path lies in completing my Yoga Teacher Training (YTT). I have spent the last few months exploring the various local options that would fit with my SAHM schedule and not take time away from my children. I will have more posts about my path in this direction and I hope that you will join me in my journey and give me feedback as I go!

Looking back in gratefulness to 2014 and forward in anticipation of 2015!

All the Drama on the Internets #5: NPR GMO bias?

Every so often I like to give you a bulleted list of some recent “green” stories in the news and why half of the people are excited to hear about the news or study and the other half are super offended by it for some reason. DRAMA ENSUES. Almost 100% of the time, I am somewhere in the middle. I just figured that some of you might want to know what’s out there and read for yourselves. Just in case you aren’t already immersed in social media 24/7 like I am…

Food Babe speaking at ShiftCon | Living Consciously Blog

On Thursday I ignored the article NPR published calling Food Babe an alarmist because I didn’t want to draw attention to it (still refusing to link to it). Yesterday I spent most of the day watching my private Facebook groups of green/holistic/real food bloggers argue over whether the attack on the food movement by NPR was warranted, if it damaged us all in our efforts to raise awareness of the issues with our food system, and whether Vani should really be allowed free speech like the rest of us. OK, so I made that last part up, but kind of not really. Because whether we like her message or not, whether we agree with the way she says it or not, I don’t think we can argue that she has a place at the table (so to speak), just like any of us with a blog.

If you aren’t familiar with Food Babe, go ahead and look her up. She’s so huge I don’t even have to link to her. Do I read her blog? No, not regularly. Mostly because I am orthorexic, and if I read too much about the tiny details of chemicals in everything I start starving myself. But here’s the thing: most people are not like me. In fact, most people are the opposite. The majority of Americans eat the food they find in the middle of the supermarket, the Standard American Diet, which (aside from being woefully nutritionally deficient) is full of so many chemicals, additives, preservatives, and overall fake-ness that our bodies don’t even know how to function properly. What’s worse is that most people actually feel like they are eating healthfully because our government requires pretty much no labeling or explanation of what is really inside our food when it comes to GMOs, synthetic chemicals, and ingredients that are banned in the UK and other industrialized countries.

Food Babe’s value is that she uses the sensational-type headlines that Americans consuming mass media find intriguing. “You Won’t Believe What’s In Your Yogurt – And It’s Not On The Label!” , “If You’ve Ever Eaten Pizza Before, This Will Blow Your Mind (Maybe Literally)“. Are they the kind of blog post titles you’d find on my blog? No. But they work for her and they draw attention to her message. She also has the guts to go after the big corporations and she’s had some very impressive wins – getting Kraft to remove the artificial orange from their macaroni & cheese, alerting us to the yoga mat ingredient in Subway buns, telling us all that the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is deadly.

OK, so it’s actually things like that last one that get us into trouble.

Does the Pumpkin Spice Latte have bad ingredients in it? Yes. Should we be putting that crap in our stomaches? Not really. But will one latte really kill us? No. No, it won’t. But…

Here’s the thing: those nasty chemicals like the ones in the Starbucks latte might be small in the latte, but they are in EVERYTHING we consume. Those little tiny bits of chemicals in your coffee creamer, in your sandwich bun, added to your lunch meat, in your salad dressing, in that artificially-colored yogurt with aspartame that you had for a snack, the eggs McDonald’s sells that have 17 ingredients (look it up) — it’s the accumulation of those chemicals that is the issue. And that is what Vani has spent the past several years exposing, one at a time. She is there to teach those who aren’t aware to start thinking about what they are eating, to ask “why?”. I think she has a place. She is good at what she does, and she is drawing our attention to very important issues.

Obviously, my technique in encouraging consciously living and eating is different than hers, but I also don’t grab the kind of attention she does from the mainstream public. I think that a lot of you were probably already on your way to making better choices when you found this blog. She writes the kind of headlines that reach people who aren’t seeking ways to change, and causes them to consider something for the first time.

I am a little disappointed in NPR. We’ve been members of our local NPR station the entire time we’ve been married, and my husband was a member for years before we were married. We will continue to support our local NPR station. It was unsettling to see that there was only one side represented in this article, with heavy quoting from a pro-GMO group but not representation from anti-GMO groups at all.

Just this morning, NPR released another article putting GMO ingredients in a negative light. Because so many vitamins added to processed foods are manufactured using GMO ingredients, the cereal makers who have agreed to remove the GMOs from their cereal are left with cereal lower in added vitamins. I say good! We should not be relying on sugar- and grain-filled cereal each morning to meet our nutritional needs with manufactured vitamins. We should be getting these vitamins from whole foods — fruits and vegetables and superfoods throughout the day. If moving toward fewer GMOs also moves us toward more whole foods, GREAT!

But, NPR…not so great, guys. Not so partial. I would definitely not go so far as to say that there is a NPR GMO bias, but I would like to ask: Where is representation from our side in these stories?