A Moment to Rise Up: Body Shaming For Business

A Moment to Rise Up_ Body Shaming For Business

I am fat. This is not a secret. Aside from the pragmatic fact that I can’t hide this reality, it is something I have accepted about myself. I recognize the health risks, the lack of clothing options – I am painfully aware of weight limits on rides, of my hips on airplanes, how I choose to stand on subways. I am extra cognizant of sweat, of keeping my hair long, and avoiding sleeveless dresses like they’re the plague. I can tell you how many points, calories, carbs, sugars, and the fiber of nearly every common food.

Growing up as a fat child, I grew a very thick skin… pun intended. I was “baby beluga,” “fat ass,” “piggy,” and everything in between. I have been told “But you have such a pretty face,” “maybe if you lost weight,”  and what I shouldn’t be wearing more times than I can count. I have avoided reunions and social gatherings; I have exercised until I vomited. I have tried juicing, drinking shakes, gone carb-less, went Meditteranean, counted everything under the sun.

The very topic of weight is my Kryptonite, but I have embraced this reality.  That being said, it’s not something I want someone to offer to “fix” unsolicited.

It should be as equally socially unacceptable as if someone suggested, WITHOUT BEING ASKED, acne medication, hair growth treatment, anti-aging cream, deodorant, breast augmentation…. you get the picture. Nonetheless, people view my weight (and based on my conversations, not just me) as a gateway to promote their health business to me.

Exhibit A
The top message is a private message I received to my business Instagram, and the bottom message was my response:

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When I initially received this message, I was hurt, shocked, and quite indignant. While the hurt and shock dissipated, I remain indignant. As a professional and as a business owner, I was tempted to just reply “no thanks,” but I am tired of being considered broken. I am tired of being considered less worthy of respect than anyone else with an issue.

So many thoughts ran through my mind – Who is this person to think she has the right to believe she is better than I am? What level of arrogance does one need to impose her lifestyle on mine? Does she have any idea of who I am?

I am a friend, a daughter, a granddaughter, an aunt, a sister, a niece, a wife, a teacher, a soap-maker, a business owner, a colleague, a network leader, a community member, a dog-mom, a New Yorker, a home-owner, a tax-payer… I am so much more than my weight.

Yet, in one fell swoop, everything that embodies my identity came down to my body. My body that is not acceptable. My body that others believe I should change. Do I recognize all the repercussions of my weight? – Absolutely. Do I walk around and point out how others are flawed and recommend I should change them? – Absolutely not.

Body shaming in business, sadly, is nothing new. While not all marketing uses tactics that are so direct and personal, all body shaming approaches are equally grotesque. Every day we are blasted with before-and-after photos, with photoshopped images of celebrities, with idealized caricatures of people.

Even the champions of body image, like Melissa McCarthy, Chrissy Metz, and Ashley Nell Tipton have all suddenly embarked on a weight-loss journey. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to be healthier, and even wanting to be thinner (I know I still want to be thinner), there is something dreadfully wrong with the concept that we, as fat women, are not enough – as who we are, where we are.  There is something dreadfully wrong with the idea that the solution for weight loss is as simple as eating less and moving more – even science has proven that the psychology runs far deeper.

There is something even worse with the movement for inclusion and “fatness” is still something to be ostracized, separated, and unaccepted. The idea that all “fat” people are lazy, sitting around eating fast food. I am fat and I work three full-time jobs and I haven’t had fast food in over ten years.  When it comes to business, I should want to buy into whatever you’re selling, not be shamed into buying it.

But “It’s about health and living a healthy lifestyle” – yes, true, but it should also be about living life in the current moment. It should be about loving who we are at this very moment and not just what we could be, and more so, what others think we should be.

kristen-fusaro-pizzopresident-2

 

A Moment to Give Thanks

A Moment to Give Thanks

While I encourage everyone to practice gratitude every day, Thanksgiving is specially set aside for us to give thanks, appreciate, and fill our hearts with graciousness for what we have. On this Thanksgiving, I would like to share little moments of gratitude that I have for 2017, hoping it will bring you joy and help you to remember the little moments, too.

I am thankful for…

  1. Lucy, our little, mushy, sweet-as-pie pittie. Something about her caught Frank’s eye, and he knew she was meant to be with us. We’ve had a few rough moments – like when she ripped up our brand new carpet or chewed up $600 worth of sea sponges, but the joy she has brought to our lives will always outweigh those moments. Her happy little tail, how she purrs like a cat and snorts like a piggy, how she is such a good girl and always sits for her treats. She’s the little lady of our house and I can’t even remember life without her.

     

  2. A VERY successful first annual Holiday Shopping at the Hilton event! My team and I spent nearly a year planning this shopping event, trying to make the best show possible for vendors and shoppers alike, and with nearly 700 visitors, it was clearly a huge success. I am so grateful, and looking forward to future Vine events!
  3. My amazing and loyal customers who shop with our small business, who support our shows, who spent all night voting for us as the best online shop in Staten Island (even though we didn’t win). Our customers are the most genuine, sincere, thoughtful people in this whole world. I would be NOTHING without them, especially my VIPs!
  4. Being invited to speak at Maker Mastermind for the Indie Business Network and the Evolution of Marketing seminar with the Small Business Development Center. It has been just such an honor to help other makers and entrepreneurs grow!
  5. My friends and family who are just so supportive of any wacky idea I come up with. I may be the luckiest person on the planet because I have just a strong, willing, and loving support network.  Especially my parents, Aunt, and grandmother, who make every effort to come to every show.
  6. My students who bring me joy, laughter, inquiry, and intellect every single day.
  7. My Principal, Mark, who is always encouraging me to grow and giving me opportunities to become the best self, understanding I will bring that to my classroom.
  8. Handwritten notes from my friends Pam and John. Always random, these little moments of finding notes in my mailbox bring me joy and fill my heart with love.
  9. My Vine Vendor Network family who has taught me so much about what a true team looks like. Especially Sandra, RoseMary, and Brooke.
  10. My friend Jackie who is my biggest cheerleader, one of my closest friends, and always working to help me improve.
  11. The Thankful Candle! Because it took FOREVER to find the perfect ripe cranberry fragrance that I absolutely love!

    Thankful Candle
    Thankful Candle Scented in Cranberry
  12. My consultant Barbara, who believed so much in my mission for Bath, Body, Candle Moments that she took the dive to become our Hawaii consultant! (Go shop with her!)
  13. For everyone who takes the time to read my blog posts!
  14. For my morning gigantic coffee, which has picked me up, comforted me and been there through all the roughest alarms.
  15. And my amazing husband, Frank, who is my rock, my soul, the love of my life.

On this Thanksgiving, I wish you all moments of love, happiness, comfort, relaxation, and joy.  From our family to yours!

Kristen Fusaro-Pizzo

Different Ways to Incorporate Aromatherapy into Your Life

Different Ways to Incorporate Aromatherapy into Your Life

You’ve heard the term “aromatherapy” thrown around quite a bit since the resurgence and rediscovery of essential oils in the last fifteen years. I say resurgence and rediscovery because using aroma to create mood and atmosphere has been around for centuries, and using essential oils for various purposes has been around for millennia!

“Aromatherapy,” as the term connotes today, implies that using different fragrance can elicit different positive moods, feelings, and emotions for people. Some common scents found in aromatherapy include lavender and chamomile for calming and relaxing, eucalyptus for air-freshening, peppermint for awakening and relaxation, and citruses for concentration, but the power of aromatherapy doesn’t stop there, nor is it the same for every person. Because our sense of smell is directly linked to the olfactory area of our brain, the area used to store memories, different fragrances can have varying effects on people. For example, if your grandma always baked delicious apple pies, then the fragrance of apple pie could have an aromatherapy effect of nostalgia, calming, and joy.

In this blog, I would like to offer different suggestions for how you can incorporate aromatherapy into your everyday life to bring you joy, relaxation, comfort, and elicit life’s ideal moments.

  1. Wear Your Aromatherapy as Jewelry! Popular and fashionable, Aromatherapy Necklaces allow you to interchange the fabric insertion of the locket. The insertion is fabric so you can drop a few drops of your favorite essential oils, fragrances, or perfumes and wear it around your neck all day long.
  2. Light a Soy Candle! Candles are a classic way to bring aromatherapy into your home. Burning a favorite scented candle for a few hours could enliven your space with a fragrance that makes you particularly happy. Plus, the candlelight is soft and relaxing to watch flicker.
  3. Scent Your Linens! Spraying your favorite aromatherapy blend on your linens can be a fantastic way to elicit calming feelings. The Rest Easy Aromatherapy Spray is blended with Lavender, Roman Chamomile, and German Chamomile essential oils, and is said to create feelings of serenity and harmoniousness. Plus, because of these particularly gentle essential oils with our natural blend of witch hazel with benzoic acid, you could also spray baby’s linens and your medium-large-sized dog’s linens!
  4. Use Your Body! With all the choices of perfumes and fragrances, wearing your favorite fragrance on your body is one of the most popular ways to create aromatherapy in your space.
    1. You could also use your body with a beautifully scented natural deodorant! As you move throughout the day, you’ll get delightful whiffs of your favorite scents.
    2. Lotions, creams, and body butters are another amazing way to wear the fragrances that bring you comfort.
  5. In Your Shower! Shower Steamers are specifically designed to create aromatherapy while you shower. From a bright, freshening, cleansing breath of greens (like eucalyptus, basil, tea tree, and peppermint), to everyone’s favorite relaxing scent, lavender, you can turn your shower into an aromatherapy spa.
    1. Don’t forget how much revelry a deliciously scented soap can bring to your shower day after day! Fragrant soaps can help you relax or wake you up, and mixed with the heat from a hot shower, it’s like taking 15 minutes for simple bliss.
  6. In Your Bath! The popular bath bomb can turn any bath into a luxurious and exciting experience! With so many varieties of fragrance (plus all the pretty colors), bath bombs are an amazing aromatherapy retreat. The same for bath salts! Bath salts make your bath water soft and moisturizing, plus with all the different fragrances, you are sure to find something that brings your mind and nose merriment.

Whatever way you choose to bring aromatherapy into your life, it’s a natural, safe, holistic approach to living a life of joy. Remember, any scent can function as aromatherapy, as long as it’s a scent that you just absolutely love to smell!

Kristen Fusaro-Pizzo

Holidays are for Grown-Ups, Too!

Holidays are for Grown-Ups, Too!

Today we were vendors at a Holiday Fair geared for children. Santa was there taking photos with all of the kids. LOTS of toy vendors, kids jewelry, arts and crafts for…kids. What we saw: A lot of happy children with parents who were so giddy to make their kids happy that they denied themselves moments of relaxation.

“I would SO want to buy these bath bombs, but my kids would want to use them… I’ll take two, one each for my daughters.”

We were thrilled to serve this Mom, honored to be a part of her moment to bring her children happiness, but I was struck with a twinge of sadness that Mom didn’t get a moment for herself.  I like to get to know my customers, so I struck up a conversation. I learned that she has two daughters, ages 2 and 4, she’s been a nurse for 12 years (just coming off of a 12-hour shift), married for five, went to school at the College of Staten Island for her nursing degree. She grew up and lives in Staten Island, New York, but works at a hospital in Brooklyn in the Intensive Care Unit. She has a mixed-breed dog named Snoopy who sneaks table food.  I asked her when was the last time she took a moment for herself – she laughed and said: “Probably before I was married.”

This sounds all too familiar. It inspired me to write this poem:

Twas the night before work, when all through the house,
Every creature was stirring, even the spouse.
Who needs dinner and help with homework,
Clients still calling and piles of housework!

“Mom needs a break!,” you finally say,
Dad nods, agrees, and takes the kids out to play,
You fill your tub, grab a book, and candlelight,
Some time to relax, you squeal with delight!

Whirls and swirls of red and green,
Creates a bubbly bathroom scene.
A bath bomb awaits, oh such a treat,
This is your moment to put up your feet!

As the holidays come around and you spend your time and money to make sure everyone has a joyous season, please remember YOU deserve a moment to relax and recharge, too! When you’re happy and calm, you can be the best-of-the-best for everyone else. Your best-self starts with self-care.

We appreciate YOU so much and want you to feel comforted and pampered. You really, truly, sincerely deserve it.

Kristen Fusaro-Pizzo

Poem for Bath Bombs.jpg

Perfect Gifts for Everyone You Might Forget

Perfect Gifts for Everyone You Might Forget
Perfect Gifts for Everyone You Might Forget

Believe it or not, the holidays are right around the corner, and as we all know, the older we get, the longer our lists become!  When we have so many gifts to buy, planning can become cumbersome. The worst situation would be to find ourselves forgetting someone we definitely should have bought a gift for, even if it’s just a little something. If you could use an extra checklist with some suggestions, this is the right place!

Your Mail Delivery Person
Through rain, sleet, snow, or hail, your mail delivery person ensures you receive your packages (and bills) on time! Why not say thank you with some calm and relaxation? We recommend one of our lavender and chamomile blends:

Your Secretary/Human Resources Person
She/he makes sure you get your checks on time, processes your sick days, and buffers to the boss when you need to run out and grab your kid from school. A little thank you goes a long way. We think reminding this person of how deserving they are of a vacation will do just the trick:

Your Pet Groomer
She/he keeps Fido looking fabulous even when he’s been playing in the mud. Scratches, nips, no matter, your pet groomer brings out your pooch or kitty with a beautiful bow and wide smile every time. We definitely think this person deserves a drink…

Your Kid’s Teacher(s)
They love your kids for 8 hours a day. They stay up late to write curriculum, write the recommendation letter, manage the school play, facilitate clubs, coach a team, and your kids are better people because of them. As a teacher myself, I highly recommend you opt for the pampering:

Your Boss
She/he makes your workplace somewhere you want to go because you respect what she/he is doing for the company. She/he gives you personal time to manage your life, and guidance when you need assistance. A great boss is hard to find. A little appreciation to show you know how rough it can be being the boss says everything about you:

Your Co-Worker BFF
They cover for you when you run out of the office, bring you a cup of coffee when you’re down, and share lunchtime laughs over the shenanigans that happen at work. No one else can understand what you go through at your job quite like your co-worker BFF, make sure he/she is appreciated with a little something to say thanks:

Yourself
We get so wrapped up in caring for others, we sometimes forget to care for number one – ourselves. You work hard every single day by managing your job, your friends, your family, your pets, often putting your own needs aside. Remember the love you bring to yourself multiplies into more joyful moments you can share with others:

Who else should we add to our list?

Kristen Fusaro-Pizzo

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.

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

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