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

 

 

Taking a Moment Away from Social Media

Taking a Moment Away from Social Media

I love social media. I love reading funny updates from friends and family, watching videos of adorable pets, staying abreast of momentous occasions from people I don’t speak with very often. But despite all of the wonderful news I learn from social media, and the glorious “unfollow” button, I am still bogged with political banter, tortured animals, and nefarious messenger-chain-letters.

Even with all of the annoying aspects of social media, I still enjoyed scrolling through Facebook (which is where I spend most of my social media time)…until one day about a month ago. A friend of mine posted a candid photo of a bunch of us working on a project. The photo of me was awful – my hair was in a messy bun, I have gained a bunch of weight this year, and I overall looked like something from “The Worst of Jerry Springer.” I asked the person to take down the photo, but they kindly insisted that I was my own worst critic and it was “such an awesome candid photo of us all working together.” Finally, I decided she was probably right and I was thinking too much into it.

Until someone commented: “Who is that fat beast on the right?”

I was so shocked and hurt, and figured my friend would delete the comment, but no, instead came a mixed barrage of agreements, laughing emojis, and a couple of “you’re a jerk’s.” I quickly untagged myself from the photo and blocked the initiator, but I realized it wasn’t enough.

Something about social media perpetuates the cruelty of humanity. More so, the indignant, maligned sense of righteousness that comes along with the commenter. To him, I am subhuman, an unwieldy mass to be extinguished.

Of all the moments I try to recreate in my products, I never anticipated empathy as being a required sentiment.

I decided I would quit social media.

The hardest part of quitting social media as a business owner is that I drive 96% of my business from my business’ Facebook page and VIP group; without social media, my business would drown.  I thought about having someone else manage my business social media while I took a hiatus, but I realized I would lose the core of my business, and that’s the raw honesty and the community I built around that. When I decided to quit, I could only do so half-heartedly, and that hurt the most. I needed to keep my own page so I could manage everything with my business.

I decided I would quit posting and hide as much as possible from my timeline unless it was directly related to my business.  Part of me thought that I might be giving him power by shutting down, but I was reclaiming my sense of self – my right to not live my life on the web.

Since I stopped posting over the last month, I feel like I have washed off an enigmatic, parasitic need to prove myself. It’s as though I have spent the last 20 years (I’m going way back to AOL profiles and AIM away-messages here) documenting the fun and friends that I have. I spend so much less time searching for the next witty comment or cute photo that I am actually enjoying the little moments.

Now, I’m making it sound like I was hyper-addicted to social media, and that was never true, but I did find myself trying to make people laugh or showing off some fun activity I participated in. Worst of all, though, I would allow myself to keep going through photos of my past and compare my ever-fluctuating weight. I know what I am, but I felt like the consistent reminder of what I was was starting to break me.

I long for the opportunity to just delete my profile and make a strictly-business account, but there is so much good that comes from the ability to quickly message a group of people, create an event, or ask a question in my soaping groups – obliterating social media altogether would just isolate me from my time era.

With that said, it was high time I took a moment away from social media to find a moment of balance.

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

The Best Moments Products During Pregnancy

 

The Best Moments Products During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an amazing time for future moms, but it can also be incredibly nerve-wracking. There are so many rules involved about what you can and cannot ingest, wear, smell, etc.; it may feel like pregnant women should be walking around with a caution label.

The Cautions

When it comes to fragrances and skincare for pregnant women, there’s a lot of information warning women against the use of essential oils or certain fragrances. The reality is that most of this information applies to ingesting essential oils – which we never recommend unless under the direct care of a certified medical professional.

The second major precaution for pregnant women is the warning against the use of phthalates. Phthalates are a chemical compound are often found in vinyl flooring, toys, detergents, lubricating agents, and fragrance in cosmetics.  While the FDA has declared they have found no conclusive evidence that phthalates are endocrine disruptors, phthalates are still under strict evaluation. The problem is that the FDA does not require the cosmetic industry to clearly indicate whether or not the fragrance used has phthalates, which is why Bath, Body, Candle Moments always takes extra precaution to always formulate WITHOUT phthalates. Rest assured, we are a 100% phthalate-free fragrance soap, skincare, and candle manufacturer.

In general, because of hormonal shifts in pregnant women, some fragrances a woman used to love may become irritating, and vice-versa. It really comes down to personal preference, and not safety, for pregnant women and fragrance. Fragrances are generally safe to use for pregnant women.

The most important point here is to be sure you’re gathering your information from credible resources.

For Sore Mommy Belly & Nipples

Carrying a baby is hard enough without the skin stretch irritation, which is why I recommend Butter Me Up Body Butter and/or our Body Lotion. Rich in butters and nourishing oils, it will help keep the skin supple, especially while it’s stretching to accommodate baby’s growth.  The Body Butter and Body Lotion will not necessarily help with stretch marks, as that really depends on genetics, and how hydrated momma keeps her skin, but consistent moisture is key to creating skin elasticity.

For sore nipples before giving birth, Butter Me Up and the Body Lotion will work wonders.  However, we recommend using organic extra virgin olive oil or organic raw cocoa butter while nursing and/or breastfeeding.  This is because we don’t want to risk baby ingesting any fragrance, but before baby comes, slather on that Body Butter and Body Lotion!

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For Hormone-Fickle Face

The hormone shifts in pregnant women can do all sorts of crazy things to your facial skin. You may have not seen a pimple since you were a teenager, and all of a sudden you’re breaking out like crazy, or suddenly your life-long acne has cleared up completely. The most important steps to take during this shift is to consistently stay well-hydrated, exfoliated, and moisturized.

Give your face a beautiful cleansing with our Resting Beach Face Dead Sea Mud Vegan Facial Bar Soap which is scented with soothing lavender, geranium, and ylang ylang essential oils. Follow up with Evanescence at night to keep your skin soft and supple. Two-three times per week use Face the Day to exfoliate and moisturize.

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For Relaxation

Our number-one recommendation for relaxation is our Rest Easy Aromatherapy Spray gently formulated with witch hazel and benzoic acid, scented with the essential oils of Lavender, Roman Chamomile, and German Chamomile. Completely alcohol-free, you can use this lovely spray on your body, face, linens, or you can use it to remove make-up, as a facial toner, and you can even use it to spray baby’s crib – that’s how gentle it is.

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Our phthalate-free cotton-wick soy candles are another wonderful way to just kick-back and relax while you’re pregnant. We highly recommend grabbing the remote, putting on your favorite fuzzy slippers, lighting the perfect Moments Candle, and just taking a deep breath of complete and utter calm and relaxation.

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For Cleansing

For both momma and baby, the purest and most gentle soap we offer is the Purely Free Vegan Soap. Formulated without any fragrance and rich in cocoa butter, known for its super-moisturizing properties, this soap is absolutely an ideal way to cleanse while pregnant or to cleanse baby. It’s completely pure and natural with a luxurious and gentle lather that will leave skin feeling clean and soft with no irritation because it’s free of fragrance and detergents.

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As I mentioned earlier, the best thing you can do while you’re pregnant is to gather as much information as possible and test your own tolerance for different fragrances.


This article is in no way meant to treat or diagnose any disease, nor does it take the place of a consult with a medical professional. Please be sure to speak with a medical professional before using any essential oils while pregnant.

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

The Six Wellness Alarms You Need to Program Into Your Phone Right Now

The Six Wellness Alarms You Need to Program Into Your Phone Right Now

I was at dinner with some friends when my phone alarm went off at 8:00 p.m.; it has rung at the same time for the last 14 years. People look at me strangely, and sometimes it has been awkward, but that alarm has saved me from myself, reminding me that I have to take an incredibly important medication at the same time every day.

Since the dawn of the industrial age, some people have criticized and villanized technology, most recently the use of smartphones. But the purpose of all technology has always been to improve lives, and if it’s used as a tool and not a substitution, it can be especially useful for our health and wellness.

You already probably track your steps and/or your food with your phone, and I’m sure you use it to wake you up, but you can use it to be proactive for a multitude of healthy behaviors.

Here are the six alarms I want you to program into your phone TODAY to remind you of your health and wellness.

  1. Any medications that you take! Program your phone to remind you to take your medications. Almost all medications are the most effective when taken at the same time every day. This is especially useful if you have to be mindful of being on a full or empty stomach.
  2. An hourly reminder to take a deep breath. Deep breathing helps to calm and relax you. This can also be great if you’re using an aromatherapy spray, such as Rest Easy; your deep breathing can be filled with lovely essential oils!
  3. An hourly reminder to stretch or take a quick walk. So much of our lives requires us to sit down, especially with the American work-through-lunch mindset, that a quick reminder to get up and keep the circulation moving in your body is healthy and rejuvenating.
  4. Call/Text a friend or family member reminder. The best way to keep your spirits up is by maintaining happy and healthy relationships. Setting a phone reminder is a great way to make sure you’re doing your part to show the people you care about that you’re thinking of them.
  5. Set a water reminder. This is best done in the middle of the day. Once you set your water intake goals, a reminder in the middle of the day can help you remember you should be about half-way to your goal.
  6. Bedtime reminder. The new iPhone actually has a bedtime feature which allows you to program how much sleep you need and reminds you to go to bed. This is really helpful to ensure your body is getting enough rest and maintaining a regular schedule.

Utilizing your phone (which has become an appendage for most of us) as a tool for wellness is yet another way you can ensure you’re taking the best steps towards a healthy life.

What alarms do you set on your phone?

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Introducing Twenty Paws Rescue: Our New Charity Organization

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Frank and I had been thinking about adding a dog to our family for a long time.  We were waiting for the right moment…pun intended.  When we first got married, we lived in an apartment that wouldn’t allow pets, so it was out of our hands. But when we finally bought our house this past August, it was only a matter of time.

I admit I was hesitant at first. I LOVE dogs. I’ve raised two dogs in my life: Rocky, a lab-beagle mix, and Daisy a pit bull mix, but I was living with my parents and completely aware of how much help they offered. Dogs need tons of love and attention and working two full-time jobs and one part-time job, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to give enough of myself.

And then there was Lucy.

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Frank and I saw this little “pocket pittie” (as she was described by Twenty Paws Rescue) and fell in love. Her bio read she was good with other dogs and kids, perfect for us since we have a niece and nephew, and tons of other dogs in our neighborhood. We put our application in, and after a rigorous interview by Rachel and her team at Twenty Paws, we drove to the Upper East Side of Manhattan on May 6th to pick up our Lucy, who had traveled all the way from North Carolina.

After a visit to our vet, we learned that little Lucy, who is only two (and shares the same birthday as our niece…which is also our dating anniversary, April 17th), was used for breeding purposes. She had also suffered from Lyme Disease (cured now). This poor baby had been through so much.

Now coming into our fourth week with Lucy, she is vibrant, alive, and not a pocket pittie anymore, but very much a full, healthy girl at around 58 pounds.

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Lucy loves her walks! We take her on three a day and hire Wag to take her on a fourth while we’re at work.   (Disclosure: Click the link for Wag to get a free week of walks for your dog and a free week of walks for Lucy!)

So, after many conversations, we decided that it would be most beneficial for pups to make our priority charity Twenty Paws Rescue, a not-for-profit Brooklyn-based charity focused on emptying shelters and saving dogs. We loved our time with Staten Island Hope Animal Rescue and hope all of our donations have served them well, but we are moving forward to help rescue the dogs now.

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A portion of all of your purchases from here on in will be donated to Twenty Paws Rescue and we are so excited to begin this new partnership in honor of all the good they do for dogs, and in honor of our Lucy.

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When You Need a Moment to Step Away

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I haven’t blogged in two weeks. I haven’t made soap in over a month. I only stepped into my lab twice in the last two weeks. I haven’t even logged into my business social media accounts to maintain them. The normal joy I feel from crafting was, strangely, just non-existent. Luckily, since the business is mine to run, I can choose when I want to work and when I don’t, but because the business is almost solely my responsibility, if I choose not to work, my sales plummet.

I try to be open about my anxiety and clinical depression. But we all know there is still a stigma and shame to those of us who suffer from depression – why can’t we just “snap out of it” or “get over it.” Believe me, and I think I can speak for most of us, I wish it were that simple. My whole business was born from my depression; my needing a moment to step away. To take me down from a panic attack, I would light candles of fragrances that would remind me of happier moments in my life….like my wedding cake.  So I started making my own, and the rest is history.

But this blog isn’t about my depression, per se; it’s about recognizing when you need to walk away from things. It became obvious to me that I needed to walk away from my business and concentrate on different moments of my life when we adopted our rescue pup, Lucy. What started as a rushed chore to get home and take her out for a walk became my half an hour of peace. It was just me, Lucy, and the pavement. I didn’t have to worry about posting the right thing, or finishing something up, or some order; I had the perfect reason to put all of it aside and just be present with Lucy.

I’ve been torn about my feelings because I love my business and I’ve worked incredibly hard to grow it, but I couldn’t ignore my visceral reactions of flooding tears, overwhelming trembles, constant migraines, and persistent illness. Walking with Lucy, I felt a little freer, a little less trapped to my home office, a little riskier with my money. I specifically remember thinking that “I can’t be buried in my money, so they can bury me in debt” as I was walking. I felt like Atlas on a coffee break – alive, weightless, impermanent.

Unfortunately, this need to let go doesn’t always work so easily. For example, my day job as a teacher wouldn’t just let me walk out because I didn’t feel like it that day. So, we persevere and continue to push ourselves beyond breaking points causing irreparable damage.  I started to feel damaged…like the sunken hole I was in had gotten so deep I couldn’t pull myself out of it. If I didn’t act in my favor soon, I would have crashed and burned. Lucy was a big proponent to this since I could not longer hide behind my screen all day.   I had to make a choice, and I chose me.

I always preach that people should just learn to say “no,” and yet I always find myself in the corner of an obligated yes. I do believe that true friends will understand whatever you go through, but that can only go so far when all you want is to say no all the time. You can’t be depressed and a good friend.

The real trick is to listen to yourself before it gets to the point where you want to run and hide from all things in existence. Do things for yourself everyday. Light a candle, take a bath, go for a walk with your Lucy. I wish I would have listened to my signs before I felt broken.