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!

Skin, digestion, and liver update

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If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that it’s been about a year since I’ve actively been trying to solve my stomach and clear my acne naturally. I’ve had them all my life, to some extent, but I had a blessed reprieve while pregnant back-to-back with my children from 2009-2011. Both issues resurfaced 2 years ago. Last January, I did the 30 day macrobiotic cleanse complete with probiotic superfood supplements. That did not work, unfortunately. Then I went to a naturopath who discovered that the issue was most likely my liver (and that my gut has become very averse to probiotics, which is why I reacted poorly to the probiotic-based cleanse). I then did a Paleo-ish cleanse for two weeks, followed by a liver detox. I felt good for about a week after that.

After about a month, the acne came back FULL FORCE.

In fact, my face is pretty flared up right now. I have had to switch back to the less-eco-friendly makeup options to cover up the severity of the breakouts. Honestly, I am kind of at the end of my rope here. I do NOT trust conventional Western medicine after that supposedly holistic doctor tried to give me an extremely harsh blood pressure medicine while telling me it was perfectly safe to use for acne. But I feel like I’ve also kind of exhausted the holistic options. Chiropractic, reflexology, essential oils, naturopathic treatment…?

I had to quit the probiotic supplementation because it was making me sick again, just like before. I took probiotic supplements for 2 months, which should have been more than enough time for the “detox effect” to subside. I actually got sicker and sicker the longer I took them.

On the bright side, my digestion hasn’t been too bad overall. Eating fast food twice on our trip home from Thanksgiving made me sick for about 2 days, but I think that’s probably to be expected. Since my two cleanses this year, I have been eating even more cleanly than ever, and any kind of change back to the Standard American Diet throws my body for a loop. But the acne is seriously OUT OF CONTROL. The Board & Batten Begin Again that I recommended in my Holiday Gift Guide has actually been very helpful in restoring some balance because it helps the damage heal faster and when I use it as a mask it restores moisture.

If you have any random suggestions, please throw them at me! And yes, I do oil pulling every day. I am taking Maca (which seems to help my skin, weirdly enough?) and I am taking a supplement recommended by my naturopath for my liver.

Living Consciously Holiday Gift Guide 2014

I’ve never done a Holiday Gift Guide before, but this year I really learned about some great brands and products that I think will truly help you give (or receive) this season in a way that will help you live more consciously in 2015, so I had to share! Please note that I do have an affiliate relationship with some of these brands, or that I might have received free products the first time I tried them, so that I would know whether I wanted to recommend them to you. I have noted which and what applies with an asterisk or affiliate relationship marked in parentheses.

My hope is that you will be able to find some amazing non-toxic gifts for anyone on your list, while giving back (see Soapbox Soaps) and supporting small businesses.

Happy Holidays!

GiftGuideKids2014v2For the Kids

Bendi Baby Yoga Mat (affiliate link) – A yoga mat specifically made to be as tall as your child and light enough to carry! Comes in two sizes: Baby and Tot. Make sure to follow them on Instagram, they have some adorable pictures!

Kids Yoga Stories – I used these books when I taught Kids Yoga and the kids LOVED them. Now there is also a set of flashcards with children doing poses to make learning the yoga poses easy for kids. I’d also recommend signing up for the weekly newsletter on this site, which comes with really neat pose sequences that you can do with your child at home.

Mama May I Shop* – An adorable boutique of handmade, sustainable toys for all ages. My kids (ages 3 and 5) absolutely LOVE telling stories to Daddy and I at night and listening to us make up stories for them with Story Starters. These handmade wooden dice have pictures printed on them in eco-friendly ink. You roll them and make up stories! They come in a metal tin with a little notebook for recording your best stories. Other toys we were interested in included play silks, Fairy Friends, and the assortment of crayon wallets!

Musical Instruments – More of a general suggestion, I wanted to include this because we recently purchased both a child’s guitar (affiliate link) and a full junior drum set (affiliate link) for our son, even though I honestly thought we were insane to do it (especially when it came to the drum set). But it hasn’t been a terrible idea, actually. I have noticed he has much better rhythm and it gives him a constructive way to use his energy. We started at the age of about 2 with this simple Melissa & Doug music set (affiliate link).

 GiftGuideAnyone2014v2Eco-friendly non-toxic gifts for anyone

Vitamix blender (affiliate link) – Although this is more of a dream item for most people, it’s absolutely worth the price tag, in my opinion! I got mine for Mother’s Day this year (2014) and still use it every day, sometimes multiple times a day. Make your own nut milk, nut butters, soups, hummus, smoothies, and even juice with your Vitamix to avoid additives and preservatives in processed foods. For ideas, check out my Vitamix recipe Pinterest board.

Board & Batten Farm to Skin* – A new concept in luxury skin and body care, this company has a “Farm to Skin” philosophy — their products are created from raw materials taken from their own farm in Florida. On their site you can purchase soy candles, charcoal soap, body creme, and a full skin care line, all packaged beautifully and ready to gift. I have tried the “Begin Again” facial buff made of organic quinoa and fruit enzymes and loved how simple yet effective it was! If you just can’t decide on a gift, try a pre-assembled gift set bundle.

Soapbox Soap Holiday Bundle* – One of my favorite discoveries at ShiftCon this year, Soapbox Soaps are in the business of giving back to those in need year-round. Every time you purchase a soap, body wash, or body lotion from Soapbox Soaps, they will donate an equivalent value to someone in need. For example, buy their famous charcoal soap and they’ll give a bar of soap to someone who doesn’t have access to soap. Buy a body wash and they donate an entire month’s worth of water to areas with no access to clean water. For a bottle of lotion, one year of vitamins to undernourished populations. My favorite item for gifting is the Holiday Gift Bundle, the purchase of which provides a bar of soap, a month of water AND a year of vitamins to someone in need!

Dolly Moo products – I won a package of Dolly Moo products in a yoga challenge this year and the scrubs quickly became my favorite. I love that the body products are made of ingredients I recognize and that all the scents come from essential oils. She also makes dried sage smudge sticks for cleansing the home. The company has a lovely Instagram page and is very committed to the yoga community in particular. Bonus: the scrubs also stand in for shaving cream on legs, leaving your legs luxuriously moisturized! Two products for the price of one!

Living Consciously Blog's Non-Toxic Gift Guide Stockings Stuffers 2014 Non-toxic Stocking stuffers/Secret Santa suggestions

Nutiva O’Coconut coconut nuggets – I loved finding these low-sugar (3g) GMO-free Fair Trade treats in my ShiftCon swag bag so much that I ordered more of my own from Vitacost.com. Flavors are Original and Hemp & Chia. The ingredients are healthy but the taste is like candy! They can be difficult to find locally, but if you have a Natural Grocer or Whole Foods near you, try the treat section. Or just buy through Vitacost (affiliate link).

Dang coconut chips Dark Chocolate – Coconut chips dipped in dark chocolate! Yum! Fair Trade, GMO free, and low in sugar. Very easy to find at any local health food store, but also available on Vitacost (affiliate link).

Miessence Rose Monsoon Hydrating Mist – The brand is committed to 100% organic skin care ingredients, and it’s a great place to find any body products or even probiotics, but their moisturizing rose water spray is something that everyone can use! Just this week I spent too much time in front of the fireplace and felt smokey — I sprayed a fine mist of the rose water all over my hair and face and the smokiness was gone! An instant mood brightener during hectic holidays, you might actually want to grab some for yourself as well as your friend. There is a discount with a purchase over $150. Be sure to click on her “Special Offers” for botanical perfumes currently more than half off!

Earth Mama Angel Baby Lotions – Not just for new moms and babies anymore! Here’s my last-minute pampering suggestion: Earth Mama has come out with 2 brand new lotion scents that make great teacher gifts, and you can run to your local Sprouts or Target as late as 10pm the night before and grab a bottle for $10! Put it in a cute bag with a note about how you trust your little one with such a great teacher every day and you’re done! They have all kinds of great stocking stuffers, from relaxing herbal teas to non-toxic lip balms (which are our family’s personal favorite chapstick option!) If you do want to buy online, you can always buy from Amazon (affiliate link) or directly from their web site.

 

* All items marked with an asterisk were given to me to sample by the company at some point in 2014. I liked them so much that I proceeded to purchase them with my own money and/or use them regularly. I did NOT get paid to mention any of them in this gift guide.

Certified organic skin care: Miessence

Disclaimer: My friend Erin of Ely Organics provided the Miessence skin care products to me at no cost in order to help me try to solve my skin woes. I am so grateful! All opinions are my own. Please take a minute to visit Ely Organics and learn more about the products and specials she has going on right now.

Green My Routine

Miessence Certified Organic Skin Care

Along with the Miessence superfoods that I’m taking during my 30 day cleanse for restructuring my insides naturally, I’m also using a new line of certified organic skin care to treat my cystic acne naturally from the outside.

Here are the products I’m using and a little about each one.

Purifying Cleanser – a purifying cleanser with fresh organic lemon peel oil, witch hazel and burdock. I can attest that it does leave the skin feeling soft, clean and fresh, without feeling stripped and dry.

After cleansing I use one of these two treatments, but not both:

Purifying Mineral Mask – specifically formulated for problem skin with natural green clay, organic echinacea and witch hazel to tone and purify the skin. Contains the wonderful properties of organic lavender, lemon myrtle from country Queensland and tea tree from the forests in northern New South Wales.

OR

Garnet Exfoliant – works effectively to clear congestion resulting from a build-up of dead, dry surface skin cells. The best scrub ever, with a fresh citrus blend of organic lemon, bergamot and orange.

Then, I follow with this series:

Balancing Skin Conditioner – gentle version of a toner, conditioning is a vital step in the Miessence skincare regime. Conditioning has a twofold purpose: firstly, to feed the skin with nutrients in the water-soluble botanicals, organic herbs, vitamins and essential oils, and secondly, to provide a hydration base for the moisturizer to lock in.

Purifying Blemish Gel – a potent and powerful blend of healing and calming organic herbs and flowers, including purifying thyme, healing plantain, clarifying echinacea and soothing marshmallow. Contains the potent properties of organic lavender, lemon myrtle from country Queensland and tea tree from the forests in northern New South Wales. (this is supposed to be a spot treatment but I have to use it pretty much all over my face since my face is covered in spots)

Organic Balancing Moisturizer – a creamy moisturizer with significant and lasting effects on skin hydration and smoothness. Formulated with plant phospholipids, organic seed butters and oils, organic herbs and flowers to maintain healthy skin. Contains organic rosehip seed oil, jojoba, calendula, chamomile, olive leaf, marshmallow and lavender.

I love how these products use essential oils to boost their effectiveness. I was already using thyme and tea tree on my skin before I started using these products, and now they are incorporated into the regime.

How does my skin feel? On the surface, it feels much smoother. The mask has really helped resurface and the balancer and moisturizer are very effective.

Unfortunately, cystic acne does continue to come up from underneath the skin. I am confident, however, that it is not the result of toxins on the surface of the skin because Miessence has no toxic ingredients in their products and I am fully confident that I am putting only pure, natural things onto my skin using this system. I can’t think of any other brand about which I can say that. I’d highly recommend ordering Ely Organic’s Miessence Purifying Essentials starter pack of skin care!

2014 Macrobiotic Diet for 30 days: Ely Organics Miessence cleanse

NOTE: The Miessence products I’ll use in my cleanse were given to me by my friend Erin Ely of Ely Organics. She is running an awesome promotion right now on these products and I’d love if you’d take a look because I appreciate everything she’s doing to help me solve my health issues!

30 Days of Macrobiotic Eating | Conscientious Confusion

I’m not going to lie, I’m dreading January a little bit this year.

There are two things that I do not do:  New Year’s Resolutions and diets. I make a to do list each year. And I just eat well.

But there’s this issue with my digestive system and my skin, which I believe are connected. And I refuse to take ridiculously dangerous blood pressure medicine or the lifetime of low-dose antibiotics the dermatologist recommended.

So far, I’ve had limited success with supplements, essential oils, and reflexology at precise times in my monthly cycle. However, it’s probably time to bring the probiotics back in and do a little “reset” of what’s inside my gut.

I’ve talked before about the thought of doing a cleanse. I could never really convince myself to do it. But with the help of my friend Erin from Ely Organics, I’ve decided to commit to a regimen of specifically targeted organic superfoods and a macrobiotic diet geared to help bring my body back into balance from the inside. I’ll be doing this for approximately 30 days, (or until I fall off the wagon).

What is a macrobiotic diet?

According to Wikipedia:

A macrobiotic diet (or macrobiotics), is a dietary regimen which involves eating grains as a staple food, supplemented with other foods such as local vegetables, and avoiding the use of highly processed or refined foods and most animal products. Macrobiotics also addresses manner of eating, by recommending against overeating, and for chewing thoroughly.

More specifically, the percentages of foods are as follows, according to WikiHow:

  • 50% grains
  • 25% in-season vegetables
  • 10% protein
  • 5% soups
  • 5% sea vegetables
  • 5% nuts and fruits

How is this different from how I already eat?

Honestly, it’s not that much different from how I eat currently.

I found a chart on Hubpages describing a step-by-step process of transitioning to a macrobiotic diet:

Steps to a macrobiotic diet from http://emmamedu.hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Start-Macrobiotic-Diet-Step-by-Step

According to this chart, I already eat Step 6. I actually don’t use that much soy presently, because I am very aware that most soy is genetically modified (GMO). I like to avoid that. I actually do more beans and nuts than soy. But for the next 30 days, I can make a concerted effort to obtain only non-GMO soy products. It’s a little more expensive, but do-able short term.

What will I need to change to go fully macrobiotic?

Eliminating sugar/fruit. I don’t currently consume much refined sugar, but I do eat a lot of (organic) fruit, honey, and maple syrup or products containing those things. Apparently you can consumer brown rice syrup for sweetness, but it is strongly discouraged. One thing that I am very worried about is coconut milk. I do consume quite a few coconut products, and coconut milk in cartons does contain cane syrup (sugar). The idea is that I should be replacing my fruit and sweet consumption with green vegetables. I am not sure how this is going to go.

Eating slowly. Hahahahaha!! Whoever invented this diet did not have two preschoolers or live in Dallas, Texas. Yes, let me wait to chew 50 times before I tell my son to stop flinging water at my daughter at the table. And it’s super fun to listen to her screech for 5 minutes straight because she wants a napkin but I’m still chewing. In the time it takes to chew 50 times, my children can collectively ask 500 questions. Or the same question 500 times. Either way, it’s possible that I’ll go insane. I am seriously considering the possibility that I might only be able to eat when my children are asleep. Which, unfortunately, kinda makes the macrobiotic principle of “eat when you need food” impossible. Because if I need food and they’re awake, I can’t eat slowly.

No snacks on the go. In the macrobiotic diet, there are no “allowed” foods that can be carried in my purse or eaten on the go. I eat about 3 snacks a day right now because I am constantly hungry. I am not sure how this is going to work. Do I just ignore the fact that I’m hungry because I can’t cook some rice with seaweed and eat it slowly? I’m a little stumped on this one. I’m considering rice crackers, tahini, and dried nori. Right now I carry around mixed nuts and dried edamame but there is oil used in the roasting process that isn’t OK according to the macrobiotic diet.

Adding Miessence certified organic superfoods

To make up for gaps in nutrition and protein, and to help rebuild positive flora in my gut, I’ll be using the following Miessence certified organic superfoods.

Fast Tract: Gluten-free certified organic probiotic liquid. To re-colonize the gastrointestinal tract with the full spectrum of Lactobacillus (friendly) bacteria.
Usage: I was instructed to drink one 750mL bottle per week, which is around 3.6 oz per day.

InLiven: probiotic powder (dormant organisms until hydrated & activated). In-Liven certified organic probiotic is the result of over 20 years research and development. The bacteria are produced from fruits and vegetables and not fast-tracked from fecal matter. Contains significant enzymes, vital amino acids and a broad spectrum of essential nutrients (including plant proteins).
Usage: 3 teaspoons InLiven every day, total – take 1 teaspoon 30 minutes before a meal. Can be blended into a drink with 2 c. apple juice and strawberries, no banana.

Topical: Make a poultice using Fast Tract powder and InLiven liquid and apply to the face.

I’ll also be using Miessence skin care, and will do another post about that.