Meditation for Everyone: A Guide for the Less-Than-Novice Meditator

Meditation for Everyone- A Guide for the Less-Than-Novice MeditatorAdd heading

In our busy lives of working, learning, care-taking, chauffeuring, cooking…the list goes on, finding an extra 20 minutes in the day may seem impossible. Especially for those of us who may be critical of the idea of meditation – “There’s so much more I can get done in 20 minutes than to sit there and breathe!” – meditation may seem like wasted time, but it’s exactly the opposite. Meditation is the practice of clearing your mind for a mindful moment to reduce our stress, minimize our anxiety, regain clarity and focus.

But HOW do I meditate?  If you Google this question, you’ll get thousands of hits with different ways to practice meditation. There are essentially five steps to meditation:

  1. Preparation – Clearing your mind for a focus.
  2. Contemplation – Deliberate your focused thought.
  3. Meditation – Focus.
  4. Dedication – Who is this for?
  5. Subsequent Practice – Bringing this into your daily life.

When I first started meditating, I really had no idea what I was doing. I read and read…AND READ and I still didn’t seem to understand. Some advice explained I have to sit cross-legged, some said I had to have absolute silence, some said extreme deep-breathing. The conditions never seemed to work for me – my legs cramped, there’s ALWAYS noise around me, and I was yawning-to-death from all the deep breathing. I eventually gave up believing I was incapable of meditating.

Then about a year ago I was dealing with something very frustrating; I shut my laptop in disdain, went to the bathroom and rinsed my face with cool water, and I looked in the mirror and said, “God, give me patience!” Then it hit me – meditation is YOUR own practice of calm. Meditation is anything you need to bring you to the point you want to be at that moment. For some people, it’s prayer, for others, it’s running.

Just because my form of meditation didn’t follow the “rules” of gurus, high priests, or anyone else who is far more enlightened that I am, didn’t mean that I wasn’t meditating.

I learned to turn meditation into picking a mantra; this is what works for me and this is what I teach others who struggle with finding a moment of peace and tranquility. These are a few great mantras to start with:

  1. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr
  2. Small changes to make big results.
  3. I am enough.
  4. Kindness and compassion lead to happiness.
  5. This too shall pass.

Putting it into Practice

I. Preparation – Find a place where you feel at peace. This can be anywhere you’re able to focus solely on you and your thoughts. For me, it’s in my office (strange, right?). I need the space to be organized and neat; I cannot focus in clutter (for some people, clutter doesn’t matter). I also like to light a candle (if I have the time to let it burn), and if not, I spray some Rest Easy or wear my Aromatherapy Tree-of-Life necklace; these fragrances elicit calm energy for me. The next part of preparation is choosing the mantra you want to focus on for meditating.

II. Contemplation – Here you deliberate the mantra you chose. Why do you want to focus on bringing this energy into your world? What is giving you stress/anxiety/fear/etc. that is preventing you from making this practice happen? The practice of self-reflection helps to become cognizant of the barriers preventing the mantra to become reality. It’s okay if this phase is hard, or if you don’t have all the answers the first time. That’s why meditation is a practice; it’s not meant to be perfect the first time, the fifth time, or even the tenth time. It’s the art of mindfulness, and true art takes time.

III. Meditation – This is where you hone in and focus on what you want to bring into your life. You can simply repeat the mantra in your mind, or offer solutions as you allow your mind to focus on the mantra. For example, you keep repeating “This too shall pass,” until you recognize that whatever is making you distraught is temporary and you will overcome it. Again, if this doesn’t come to you right away, there’s tomorrow’s practice to look forward to.

IV. Dedication – In the dedication stage, you give your practice of meditation to its purpose. For example, if I am meditating to “I am enough,” I may dedicate my practice to myself. It may sound like, “I dedicate ‘I am enough’ to myself because I deserve love, honor, and respect as I am.” If you’re meditating for patience, it may be along the lines of, “I dedicate “God, give me patience” to all of those I have been impatient with and to everyone who I will encounter tomorrow.” On some level, this provides accountability because by giving your meditation a purpose you lead it to subsequent practice.

V. Subsequent Practice – The easiest stage to understand, but perhaps the hardest to manifest, is subsequent practice. This is where you bring your mantra into your everyday activities, so you can quickly bring your mind there when you need it. You’re waiting on an extremely long grocery line and the person in front of you needs a price check for every item, you say to yourself, “God, give me patience;” you breathe it in and feel yourself become more patient.

Along with the five steps, deep-breathing exercises throughout are extremely helpful. According to Harvard Medical School, this is because biologically our bodies see deep-breathing as a way to “quell errant stress response.” Try it right now – take one deep breath in through your nose, filling your whole diaphragm, and release – I guarantee you will feel a bit calmer than a moment before.

How do you bring meditation into your life? Have you tried any of the mantras suggested? I would love to hear more in the comments section!

Kristen Fusaro-Pizzo

What it Means to Live a Life of Abundance

What it Means to Live a Life of Abundance

For those of you who may not know, I am also a high school English teacher. This past summer our department asked rising seniors to read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. I’ve read and taught the book before, many years ago, so I saddled up my sunscreen, flip flops, and my trusted copy of Siddhartha not expecting to be any further enlightened (pun intended) than I was the last time I read it. I was wrong and as an English teacher, I should have known better.

Ultimately, Siddhartha learns the path to enlightenment is one that cannot be taught and it cannot be bought, it must be achieved through spiritual fulfillment – what I now recognized and understood as abundance. With each passing year, month, even moment, we gain insight and experience – if we allow ourselves to be open to gratitude, learn from what was, not focus on what will be, but be at peace with what is.

Abundance, as I have come to understand it, is a richness that cannot be acquired by money, success, or fame. It’s found in waking up and watching the rising sun, tucking your kids into bed, walking with your dog, doing acts of kindness simply because it’s kind.

On a stringent path to discover true abundance, I questioned whether the appreciation and admiration of others would detract from our own abundance. As all quality ethics questions do, it comes down to sense-of-self. When it comes to “doing good,” the power of the goodness lies in intent. If someone happens to appreciate or admire your good traits and kind acts that stemmed from absolutely no desire to ingratiate others, this is abundance. Your drive to better your surrounding world must simply be to better the world for its own sake.

Abundance, first, comes in prioritizing. In the book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People* by Steven Covey, he states: “We must have the discipline to prioritize our day-to-day actions based on what is most important, not what is most urgent.” While the most urgent duties of our life include necessary responsibilities which should not be dismissed, abundance is about looking at life for the big picture – your credit cards will not cry at your funeral because you paid more than the minimum every month, but the people (and animals) you’ve truly invested your time in will. Vis-a-vis, abundance stems from the love we put into the world.

Each moment of every day is an opportunity to add to your “bank” of abundance. Appreciating the perfect cup of coffee, enjoying music, even stopping to be thankful that you have the metacognition to be aware of your gratitude all leads to a life of abundance. It’s about appreciating the small steps.

Today, I got a call-back from BonTon retailers about their interest in carrying our candles and soaps. It’s just a call-back, but taking a moment to feel proud of this accomplishment for a small business, however small of an accomplishment it may be, is abundance. It’s one small step in a positive direction.

Fill each moment of your life with positive, small changes to gain abundance. Take the time to appreciate the positives. Be mindful of each of your actions – towards others and towards yourself. Feel gratitude. Feel forgiveness, especially for yourself.

When you find peace, you find abundance.

Kristen Fusaro-Pizzo

*This is an Amazon affiliate link.

How to Stay in Touch (Social Media & Contacting Us)

How to Stay in Touch (Social Media & Contacting Us)

Today’s blog post is a quick one just to give you information about how to keep in touch with us using the platforms you love to use every day.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter
Our newsletter is a great way to stay in contact with us! We’ll email you with news and updates, usually around 3-4 times a month. *Note- There are a lot of fields in the sign-up form, but all we really need is your first and last name, and email address.
SIGN UP HERE*

General Contact
Email* – This is the BEST way to reach us. We have quick and easy access to our email right on our phones, so we’re able to respond to all of your questions usually within a few hours. Our email address is info@scentsthemoment.com.

Phone – We do have a phone number, 718-667-3150, but our line is often unattended. If you prefer a phone chat, please feel free to give us a call and leave a clear message with a number to reach you. We make all call-backs within 48 business hours.

Social Media

  • Facebook Fan Page* – Like and follow us to get all the updates!
    • Our VIP Facebook Group* – This is our favorite method of staying in touch with you. We’re extremely active in our VIP Facebook group, and it’s a super-fast way for us to provide you with top-notch customer service.  Plus, being a member of our VIP Group gives you access to great benefits like weekly sweepstakes, birthday bonuses, and more.
  • Instagram*– We like Instagram because we try to be artistic photographers. This is not a great place to direct message us, though, because we don’t see it.
    • Tag us @bathbodycandlemoments
  • Twitter – Follow us on Twitter as we share and repost fun tweets from people we admire. Plus, Twitter is the first place where new products on the website are announced.
    • Tag us @bathbodycandlem
  • Pinterest – You can shop most of our pins! This is also a fun way to add some of your favorite Moments products to a board.
  • YouTube – We make all kinds of videos. Sometimes they’re instructional, sometimes they’re just us catching up.
  • Google Plus – A super-easy display of our blog content, videos, and some updates.
  • Tumblr – You’ll find a hodge-podge of our content on Tumblr, including our blog posts and Instagram posts.
  • LinkedIn – This is a general resume and profile of Kristen. All of her blog and business content goes to this channel.

Other Blogs

Kristen is also President of the Vine Vendor Network. If you’re interested in reading her blog about small business, click HERE.

*All the links with the asterisk are where we are the most active and most likely to get a fast response from us. These are also the best places to go for new content, new products, information, and more!

Living Naturally with Breast Cancer

 

Living Naturally with Breast CancerOctober is Breast Cancer Awareness month and I need to ask you: Have you had your mammography in the last year? Not trying to get in your business, but totally getting in your business.

In the last year, I have learned about five women I know who were diagnosed with breast cancer. Turns out that according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, 1 in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes. This staggering number is one of the many reasons I decided to create a natural bath and body line for our company.

I met Lisa Vento-Nielsen in the summer of 2016 when I was running a special summer project in my school for upcoming seniors to prepare for college and careers. Lisa was one of the guest speakers that my principal invited in to teach students about preparedness. Along with being the owner and visionary of The Next Step as an entrepreneur and author, Lisa gave the students incredible tips on how to write resumes, use LinkedIn, and blogging. I remember clearly thinking – “This woman is a firecracker!” – Brilliant, bright, vibrant, energetic, no one knew, including herself, that she was living with breast cancer.

Fast forward to earlier this summer, I noticed Lisa was off of Facebook but found her again on Instagram. I wanted to touch base with her simply because I found her inspiring and wanted to go grab coffee with her – that’s when I found out she was living with breast cancer. Instead of giving into cancer (and let’s be honest, sometimes people don’t have a choice), she turned her pain into an array of inspiration and education. She started a new blog, called The Time Between – Breast Cancer Survival Guide. 

Knowing several of my customers are breast cancer survivors, I am sure to curate some products that are without fragrance oils. However, my biggest drive was to create a natural deodorant free of aluminum, parabens, phthalates, dyes, and any other additives that may be linked to breast cancer. While the evidence of linking antiperspirants to breast cancer is still considered inconclusive, I know my customers were looking for a natural alternative where there was clearly no link to breast cancer.

Once I heard what Lisa was going through, I had to let her know about my products. It was not even about business, which is why I curated a small package for Lisa for free, but about education – there is a better way; people now have a choice to live naturally. Here you can read about Lisa’s experience with our products: Click Here for Her Review.

While breast cancer is still prevalent, the greatest resource you have is knowledge and prevention. What is recommended for your health and prevention:

  • Get 30 minutes of exercise every day
  • Keep your weight down to a healthy number
  • Drink plenty of water daily
  • Perform monthly self-exams on your breasts to check for lumps and indentations on your breasts
  • Visit your gynecologist at least once a year – but most insurances will pay for 6-month visits
  • Get a mammography every year after turning 40, and earlier if there is a history of breast cancer in your family
  • Stop smoking
  • Limit your alcohol intake
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables

To your health and happiness!

kristen-fusaro-pizzopresident-2

The Art and Market of Castile Soap

The Art and Market of Castile Soap

Olive oil is a staple in many nations, but especially in Mediterranean cultures. From cooking to soapmaking, olive oil is one of the most versatile natural ingredients found on the market today. The ingredient is so important in traditional soapmaking, that one traditional recipe of soap, Castile soap, named after its origin city in Spain, is made solely with 100% olive oil as the lipid.

The history isn’t completely clear, but it’s believed that Castile soap originated in the early 1500s-1600s as a derivation of Aleppo soap. Aleppo soap is a combination of olive oil and laurel berry oil originating in the Middle-East. It’s believed that the Crusaders brought it back to Europe around the middle 16th century, but because laurel berry oil was native to the Middle East, it was dropped from the recipe when soapmakers in Castile, Spain started crafting it themselves. (Wikipedia.)

Castile soap is a test of fortitude and patience. Soapmaking is already a time-consuming art, as the cold-process method requires soapmakers to wait between four and six weeks of “curing” before the soap is ready to be used. Castile soap takes between six months and one year!

We crafted our first version of Castile soap, With Grace, on April 2, 2017, using a steep water discount and adding sodium lactate.  In soapmaking, a water discount means we cut down on the amount of water used in the recipe. This helps to create a harder bar of soap a little faster. Adding sodium lactate, which is a liquid salt derived from the natural fermentation of sugars found in corn and beets (read more on our blog post about sodium in soap), also creates a harder bar of soap. Because Castile soap is 100% olive oil, it can be very mushy and difficult to unmold – the combination of the water discount and sodium lactate make it possible to maintain its shape and still be usable after a nearly six-month curing time.

What makes Castile soap so coveted is the moisturizing properties of olive oil. In cold-process soap, olive oil is often a key ingredient because it is rich in oleic and linoleic acids. These fatty compounds produce conditioning effects when saponified, making a soft, gentle, and stable lather in soap. Therefore, Castile soap is effective for sensitive skin and for babies because of its gentle properties.

Unfortunately, have you noticed the price of olive oil going up in grocery stores? According to USA Today, “The combination of bad weather and pests hit the harvest in Southern Europe, most of all in Italy, where production [of olive oil] is halved from last fall. That’s pushing up Italian wholesale prices by 64% as of mid-February compared with a year earlier, which translates to shelf price increases of 15 to 20% in Italy.” Since the overwhelming majority of olive oil is imported from Italy and Greece to the United States, the prices have significantly jumped, making Castile soap an even more coveted luxury item.

Even with olive oil prices rising, the demand for Castile soap remains high. With such nourishing, moisturizing, skin-loving properties, it’s easy to see why the love for this soap remains 500 years later.

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

 

A Brief History of Wax and Candles

A Brief History of Wax and Candles

I teach a high school senior English course entitled “Gods, Monsters, and the Apocalypse,” which is incredibly fun for me. I am always looking for new lessons to integrate into my curriculum. It’s the beginning of the school year and I always start with Greek Mythology, and I was researching new information, I started thinking about candles and wondered if there was any connection with Ancient Greece (since so much of the humanities and sciences are derived from Ancient Greece).

Interestingly, there is not much reference to candles in Greek mythology. There is man’s first fire, which was given to humanity by Prometheus, the Titan, during the great war between the gods and titans.  The second reference is to Daedalus, the inventor who was also a revered intellect. He used wax to create the wings he made for his son, Icarus, to help them escape the labyrinth that King Minos trapped them in (side note – Daedalus actually created the labyrinth, but it was so complicated, the sky was the only way out).

According to the National Candle Association: “The Egyptians were using wicked candles in 3,000 B.C., but the ancient Romans are generally credited with developing the wicked candle before that time by dipping rolled papyrus repeatedly in melted tallow or beeswax. The resulting candles were used to light their homes, to aid travelers at night, and in religious ceremonies.”

Tallow, or rendered animal fat (most commonly cow today, but could be any game), is actually still used in modern soap-making (not by us, we’re vegan makers), but offered numerous uses throughout time as no part of an animal was wasted. The tallow was used in candles, but probably had an awful smell while being burned, so upon the discovery of beeswax in the Middle Ages, beeswax was immediately preferred. Though, like today, beeswax was expensive and reserved only for those who were affluent enough to afford it.

The late 18th century brought the whaling industry, especially to the Americas, which carried through to the early 20th century. “The sperm whale was also used for its spermaceti—the wax taken from the oil of this huge mammal. This wax was used extensively as the fishing industry began to expand. The spermaceti candle was popular because it had no acrid odor, did not soften in summer temperatures, and burned evenly” (Encylcopedia.com). Whale blubber was popular not only for making candles but was the base of many original cosmetics, especially lipstick. The blubber was so incredibly versatile that whales nearly became extinct until the whaling ban. From blubber came the extraction of stearin acids combined with petroleum to create paraffin waxes, which are still popular today. In the late 19th century

The late 19th century’s discovery of electricity brought a decline of candle-making for light, but the early 20th century saw a boost for candles again when people wanted candles for decoration. Bayberry wax was soon discovered and became quite popular, especially around Christmas-time, for its unique earthy-scent. While bayberry wax did gain in popularity, especially as awareness for natural and plant-based goods grew in demand, the difficult rendering of the wax made it extremely expensive.

It wasn’t until 1993 that Michael Richards of Cedar Rapids, Iowa (USA)  invented the use of soy wax candles. He sought to find a natural, sustainable resource for candle-making that was cheaper than bayberry wax or beeswax. Burning much cleaner than paraffin candles, much cheaper than bayberry or beeswax candles, along with being a sustainable source, soy wax candles soon became the consumer favorite and exactly why we create our candles with soy wax.

kristen-fusaro-pizzopresident-2

Seasonal Dry Skin Solutions

Seasonal Dry Skin Solutions

The air suddenly got much chillier in New York the last few days. Along with the sweeping cold-front, I noticed that my skin was drier and itchier. This is not new for me, and usually the first indicator of fall and winter for my body.

To check to see if your skin is too dry, there is a simple test. Take your fingernail and run it down your arm, if the lines remain on your skin, or you see some peeling, your skin is too dry.

Sometimes people don’t realize that your skin care needs change with the seasons. Our skin directly responds to two major factors: 1) What we put inside of our bodies, 2) The environment.

When the weather starts to become cooler, the humidity in the environment drops. While this is generally more comfortable for most people (who likes to just stand and drip with sweat?), our skin is responding to the lack of moisture in the air by also drying out.

Speaking with Pamela Maes, skin-care expert and esthetician with over 6 years of experience, she offers this skin advice:

“Consider changing your skin-care routine to suit the winter weather by changing to a richer moisturizer. Between the dry indoor air and the cold outdoor temperatures, the moisture in your skin can quickly get zapped. Also, try doing a scrub one day and a mask the next to maximize skin-care benefits.  Another tip: Add a humidifier to your room to combat the dry air inside.”

As the winter months approach, we recommend exfoliating two-to-three times per week for your body and twice-per-week for your face. The outer layers of your epidermis will get dry and flaky, and exfoliating polishes the dead skin away to reveal the new, fresh skin.  Not every exfoliator is made alike, and it’s important to discern between a facial exfoliator and a body exfoliator. Generally, it’s fine to use a facial exfoliator on your body, but not the other way around; body polishes may be a bit too rough for facial skin. Body exfoliators should be rich to help replenish lost oils, and facial exfoliators should use oils, like jojoba, which mimic the properties of human sebum.

Pro Facial Tip: For an at-home spa treatment, light a candle, run a bath, and soak a washcloth in hot water (as hot as you can take without feeling any discomfort), and place the hot washcloth over your face. Allow it to sit there for 5-7 minutes. The heat will encourage your face to sweat, helping to push out any facial impurities. Rinse with cold water and follow with a clay facial mask.   Finally, rinse the mask and finish with a facial serum.

Pro Body Tip: After exfoliating, then shave (if you need to); this will make the hair easier to come off. Rinse with cool-to-cold water and follow with a rich moisturizer – either a body cream or body butter will be great. This is amazing for hands, knees, and elbows, as well!

How You Wash Matters: It’s probably incredibly tempting to take a super-hot shower, especially as the weather gets cooler; however, this is detrimental to the health of your skin. According to Newsweek.com, long, hot showers actually strip your skin of its natural moisture, making you feel drier and itchier. It’s best to reduce the length of time you spend in the shower along with lowering the temperature.

If you tend to get itchy, dry skin, opt for natural soap free of parabens, surfactants, and phthalates. Natural soaps scented with essential oils might be most beneficial for you, but if you have severely dry skin, opt for fragrance-free soap.

Remember to Nourish from the Inside Out: During the summer and spring, we take more caution to stay hydrated. Plus, with all the seasonal fruits and vegetables available, it’s a little easier to ensure we’re getting our 5-servings a day. While the winter and fall are so tempting with delicious coffees and desserts, it’s imperative to continue to hydrate your body with pure water and nourish your body with fruits and veggies. The natural nutrition keeps your skin glowing and more resilient to the harsher environment.  If you’re not a fan of drinking plain water, add cucumber, mint, lemon, and/or lime to add a burst of nutritional flavor.

Dry skin is not fun, but there’s plenty that can be done to prevent and improve so your skin will feel youthful and look glowing again.

kristen-fusaro-pizzopresident-2

One Full Year as a Homeowner

One Full Year as a Homeowner

On August 17, 2016, Frank and I closed on our first home. It’s in Richmondtown, a beautiful and historic neighborhood of Staten Island. It has three bedrooms, one of which we converted into our lab/office, the other is a hodge-podge of a guest room-meets-storage, and the third is our bedroom. One and a half bathrooms, with the full bathroom having a very annoying separate tub and shower (my Mom loves this, I hate it, Frank couldn’t care less).  We have all the necessary amenities like a super-advanced washer and dryer who sing to us when finishing a load, dishwasher, full eat-in kitchen, dining room, living room, lots of closet space. We live in a community so there is a pool, people to mow our lawn and shovel our snow. The biggest drawback is no backyard.

In the past year, I thought it would feel more like my home at this point, but there is this eerie sense of impermanence and silent fear of something catastrophic breaking. We have filled the house with decorations and photographs, an electric fireplace, all new flooring, freshly painted walls, a whole new outdoor landscape, but it always feels unfinished.

I kid you not, I spent 7 hours painting the very tiny front gate last year. I was so meticulous not to spill one drop of paint on the ground. It was cathartic – covering up the rust of the house’s past, a fresh coat of white symbolizing our fresh start, and by April of this year, it was completely rusted again. Our hose has nowhere to go so it lays sloppily right in our front walkway. Instead of buying one of those springy hoses, or trying to roll it up, I just walk over it – I don’t know why I just don’t fix it, but looking at it makes me feel exhausted and exasperated.

The house always feels dirty to me. It didn’t feel like this in the apartment. Maybe it’s because we have Lucy now and my attention is elsewhere, or maybe cleaning just feels like one of those uphill battles. I know, why don’t I just hire someone, but it’s as simple as now we have a mortgage payment, double the electric bill, and so much insurance for so many things I don’t even know what’s covered.

The closet doors constantly break off. The doors in the lab are off the hinges and instead of fixing the closet, I have to physically move the door out of the way anytime I need access to the closet. The closet doors holding the washer and dryer fell off right into my toilet paper holder, so now they have a giant, gaping hole.

Having a home has made me feel so inadequate. I don’t know how to fix anything. I am consciously aware of how much of a Xennial I am. I am still calling my Dad to help me fix everything. I think this bothers Frank even more than it bothers me. But I have been wanting an extra shelf in the bathroom for so long, and I don’t know how to anchor screws to do that. If it weren’t for my Dad, I wouldn’t even know I had to anchor screws. I still have the shelf, but it’s not up on the wall…it sits on another shelf somewhere else.

Our couch rubs up against the wall and cuts a hole right through it. I’ve patched it twice already. I’m actually really good at wall patches. I fill with plaster and smooth it over, plaster again if needed, sand, and paint. I love the feeling of filling an empty space. I hate when the empty space keeps returning.

Still, with all of the idiosyncracies, it’s peachy-keen compared to the apartment we were in. We were rained on…for four months. The hot water heater broke at least a dozen times in the two years we were there. We were breathing in mold. We had drain flies. The tiles were falling off the bathroom walls. We had a ghost.

I actually think we still have a ghost.

In the apartment, the hallway lights would turn on and off by themselves. I would joke that we had a ghost, but in my gut, I figured all the roof leaking and being rained on probably damaged the wiring. That’s until we moved into the new house where the hallway lights turn on and off by themselves. Now I somewhat believe we may have a ghost. I don’t mind him/her, I just wish he/she would help us lower the electric bill.

Household maintenance is seriously annoying. As I write this, I am reminded that I should make an appointment to have the dryer vents cleaned out, check the fire and CO2 alarms, fire extinguisher, pour some drain cleaner down just to keep it all flowing.

Plus, there’s never enough money to actually fix anything. People tell me to give it time since we just bought the place, but it’s seriously overdue for new windows. And that bathroom. Eek. Can Bath Fitters drop a whole new bathroom in? How much does that cost?

Still, the place is ours, overflowing with boxes from my daily supplies deliveries and from the things I ask Frank to carry upstairs for me since I have the strength of a 98-year-old. When did we accumulate so much…stuff? Sometimes the inner neat-freak in me (who hides deep within reality) has a breakdown and just wants to walk around with black garbage bags and dump everything.

I can’t believe it’s been only a year. In many ways, this year felt like it was 10. I don’t know if this makes sense, but the days are short and the year is long. I need to learn how to just relax and allow everything to happen in its own time, but I am always so anxious to be finished that having a house unravels me because it’s never done.

I think I need to light an Unstressed Candle and drop in a bath bomb...might as well, there will still be things to fix tomorrow.

 

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

Mindful Moments for the Overly Anxious

Mindful Moments for the Overly Anxious

I am an anxious person. I am consistently riddled with various anxieties. If someone were to open the door to my mind right now, this is what they would see:

  • Must write a blog post
  • Should get to sleep because it’s past 1am
  • Less than a month before school starts
  • Did you even think about your lessons for next year?
  • Did you review the summer reading?
  • Where is your summer reading book?
  • Are the clothes still in the wash – they’re going to smell and need to be rewashed…
  • The bath bombs aren’t drying
  • When does the dog need Heartguard again?
  • Why did I eat so much at dinner again?
  • Is dust waging a war against me?
  • The water bill is due this quarter
  • I should really just relax
  • Now it’s 1:15
  • Hellllloooooo…time to blog!

For me to write this post about being mindful is a bit paradoxical. I have to be mindful of my own thoughts in order to write, but I need to be cognizant of my crazy to write about regrouping to mindfulness. And people wonder why I’m anxious.

Anxiety comes from living in the future. We lose our sense of mindfulness when overrun with thoughts about the next moment(s). Of course, we need to plan for our future and consider different future results for our actions; however, the anxiety we feel is not for us to control. 

I have to repeat this to myself when trying to gain mindfulness. I cannot control the future, but I can control right now. Ultimately, if we look to control “right now,” we shape our future.  For example, I have anxiety about the upcoming school year, which I get every single August. I cannot control September and my new schedule, but right now I can review my “first-day-of-school” lesson.

Mindful Practices

  1. If you’re rattled about something, what can you say or do right now to make progress? This applies to almost every anxiety.
  2. Cut off every distractor, whether it’s the TV, radio, phone, other people, etc. and ask yourself: “How are you feeling? Why are you feeling this?” – Treat yourself like you would your best friend in crisis.
  3. Stop and listen to your body. Are you tired, hungry, dehydrated? Drink a tall glass of water before making a decision or taking the next step. Give yourself some breathing room.
  4. Meditate by immersing yourself in a hot bath with calming scents like lavender and chamomile. Feel the steam open up your pores. Pay attention to how the water feels between your fingers. Just rest in the tub without worrying about washing, rinsing – allow yourself to soak.
  5. Clear your space to clear your mind. Spend time to clean one room completely and stay in that room for 10 minutes to appreciate your work. Notice how your mind feels in a clean environment.
  6. When you begin to feel anxiety, stand up, stretch, and walk outside. Do not look at your phone or watch. Take a walk while breathing in fresh air. Be alone.
  7. Tilt your neck to the left so the left side of your face is touching your left shoulder. Place your left hand on your head above your right ear. Place your right hand on the right side of your neck. Gently stretch until you feel the tension release. Repeat on the opposite side, reversing left-to-right.
  8. Take a bottle of Rest Easy, shake, spray right above your head and let the droplets fall onto you. Spray as much as you like. Close your eyes and just take deep breaths – breathe in through your nose slowly, and exhale through your mouth slowly.

When it comes to mindful practices, it’s all about retraining your mind to focus on the here and now. It’s a necessary step towards stress reduction and building new, good habits. If you had a bad habit you would like to break, stop and be mindful of your behavior, try one of the steps above, and do the positive behavior instead.

This takes time and mindfulness doesn’t just happen overnight, but with a continued promise to yourself to be mindful, you can reduce your stress, anxiety, and change your habits.

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

 

 

Tales of an Angry Handcrafter: Rude Soap, Candle, & Skincare Questions with Answers

Tales of an Angry Handcrafter- Rude Soap, Candle, & Skincare Questions with Answers

I like to present myself as a jovial person full of laughs and jokes. Put me in the right crowd and that’s exactly who I am.  I am also capable of fear-rendering rage, but this Hulk only comes out when 1) Driving – because I am obviously the only person who knows how to drive in the whole world, 2) Facing Arrogant Ignorance – because nothing grinds-my-gears quite like a person preaching from a soapbox (no pun intended) about wrong information.

I was vending at an expo earlier this week and it was uncharacteristically slow. On top of the lack of foot traffic, the number of rude people out of the few dozen people who stopped by was blisteringly high. But today’s post is not just about the rude commentary from the expo event; it also includes a collection of various rude comments I have received about my business and the answers I wish I would have had at the time.

Before I begin, I want to acknowledge some facts: 1) My business is not for everyone, 2) My personality and demeanor are not for everyone, 3) Those who appreciate both are the best people on Earth.  Now that we cleared that up…but seriously, it’s okay if my products don’t appeal to you – I may not understand your opinion, but I will always respect it. That said, a little respect goes a long way, and if you’re at a show and not loving the products at a vendor table, simply say “thank you” and walk away.

The following statements have been made to me at vendor events over the years by people who lack couth, were raised in a barnyard, or just sadistically enjoy rudeness. In an effort to minimize these comments in the future, I also have answers… I hope you appreciate my snark.

  1. Why should I buy your soap when I can buy a bar of soap at the grocery store for 99 cents?
    1. Why buy a Ferrari when you can get a 1974 Gremlin? The reality is that wherever people spend money is where they find the greatest value. If a person doesn’t value a product that is carefully formulated and hand-crafted, free of parabens, phthalates, detergents, animal by-products, is certified cruelty-free, vegan (OR sustainable palm-oil vegetarian), that is made specifically to moisturize skin, then I won’t be able to change your mind.
  2. Oh no, your products are not “all-natural”!
    1. No, and we never claim them to be “all-natural;” however, we do use natural ingredients mixed with SCIENCE. Why aren’t we touting ourselves as “all-natural”? Well, because poison ivy, scurvy, mold, and the bubonic plague are “all-natural,” and yet, we don’t want our bodies rubbed in them. There’s a reason people live well into their 80s now and not during Paleo times – it’s called SCIENCE.
  3. I can buy candles at XXCANDLE STOREXX for much cheaper.
    1. Yes, you probably could, and we’re sure they’re wonderful. So, what makes our candles stand out? Well, for one, we use USA soy wax, ensuring American farmers remain employed. We skip on paraffin because it’s petroleum-based, and we don’t believe big-oil needs any more money, plus soy burns much cleaner; we skip on beeswax because we’re a vegan company and love plants. Our wicks are cotton, not lead or zinc, so you won’t be burning any metal pollutants in your home. Our fragrances are always phthalate-free, minimizing the risk of allergic reaction and indoor air pollution. Our jars are Libbey-glass, which are American-made and high quality; they’re not going to combust on you. We assemble and hand-pour each and every candle with love and concentration to quality. So, you could spend less somewhere else, or you could support our small business that always has YOU (and not the almighty dollar) at the center of our vision.
  4. Oh yeah, I saw a video on how to make XYZ product myself; that’s easy to make.
    1. Awesome! We love supporting other makers! Let us know when you’ve bought all the ingredients, created a Good Manufacturing Process lab, purchased packaging, created a website, obtained liability insurance, designed and printed your labels, maintained batch numbers, followed FDA regulations, received a county business license, federal tax-ID, state tax-ID, and tested your products – then we’ll be super-psyched to purchase and try your products out, too!
  5. I make soap/scrubs/etc. also, can you share your recipe?
    1. In a word, nope. We’ll gladly share our ingredients (because we 1. have to legally disclose them, and 2. like to be transparent), but our recipes – sorry, friend, we went through a whole lot of testing (=time & money) to ensure our recipes are superb. However, we’ll happily private label our products for you to sell and make money with!
  6. You use lye in your soap. I can’t use soap with lye, it makes me itch/squirm/dance-on-bars, etc.
    1. So sorry to hear you’re unable to use SOAP – what do you wash with? Oh, you see, all soap is made with lye (even way back when great-great-great granny made her own soap). No lye = no soap.
  7. I only use natural essential oils which are chemical-free.
    1. We love essential oils, too! We use them in many of our products, but we also love phthalate-free fragrance oils. You see, there are only so many scents that can be recreated with essential oils, and we like to have the ability to tap into all fragrances.
    2. Also, essential oils are not “chemical-free” – if it’s chemical-free, it doesn’t exist on Earth.  For example, Lavender essential oil is comprised of “a total of 47
      compounds representing 98.4 – 99.7% of the oils were identified. 1,5-Dimethyl-1-vinyl-4-hexenylbutyrate was the main constituent of essential oil (43.73%), followed by 1,3,7-Octatriene, 3,7-dimethyl- (25.10%), Eucalyptol (7.32%), and Camphor (3.79%)” – African Journal of Microbiology Research.
  8. Are your products homemade, like in your kitchen?
    1. Our products are “handcrafted,” and maybe we’re just being picky about connotation here, but the implication of “homemade” versus “handcrafted” implies a product with less sterility and stability. And no, we actually have a dedicated LAB where we create our products.
  9. Why do you donate to rescuing animals and not something important like cancer research?
    1. We believe any cause for the freedom, health, and well-being of Earth’s creatures is a justifiable cause. Our focus happens to be animal rescue because we’re advocates for those who don’t have a voice and because we personally rescue pit bulls. However, we’d love to be a part of any charity event, and in fact, we currently support various religious, historical, civil-rights, and animal groups through vending.
  10. I don’t use soy because of all the GMOs and your products have soy.
    1. Yup, some of our products, and all of our candles do use soy wax or soybean oil. Truthfully, we don’t mind GMO soy for wax candles because it allows for a larger production to support American jobs – and since you don’t eat your candles, it’s not going to alter your body. As for our skincare products, we use organic soybean oil (and according to USDA standards, you cannot label something organic if it has GMOs) because we know that’s important to you and it’s going directly onto your body.

Yes, believe it or not, we have received all of these questions, and usually presented to us in a rude manner, but we remember the heart of it comes simply from not knowing our brand yet. Hopefully, this gives you a better idea of who we are…and a better way to ask questions when you don’t know!

Do you have “rude” questions for us? Please feel free to go rogue and ask away!

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident