A consistent conversation with my friends recently has been encompassed with wondering when the next desire of our heart will happen (meeting a man to marry, being able to move to an area we love, having a baby, etc) and sitting in the moment of what feels like unanswered prayers, tempting us to feel temporarily hopeless and impatient. So many of these desires are out of our control, yet we try so hard to control them + when our attempt is failing, we feel defeated. It’s a vicious cycle!
I have realized that these conversations have not only been happening with friends, but they have been subconsciously swirling in my thoughts. We all tend to be on this mission to make life just the way we want it. This seems like a bit of an intense and selfish statement, but if we are honest, it tends to be the case, right? To explain further, we may be so pleased with the majority of our life, but there always seems to be something we want to change; something that can be “bigger and better.” To get vulnerable for a minute, here are some personal examples: I absolutely love our life in California, but I wish my family was here; I am grateful for our house and neighborhood, but there is another living location that is grasping my attention; I am so thankful for our dry shampoo company, Stranded, as well as my blog, but sometimes I feel like they could both me more groundbreaking and “successful.”
As I sit on these thoughts, I am reminded that striving for more and being driven are not bad things, as long as they are managed properly and do not overtake our gratefulness in the present moments as well as in our current victories. On the other hand, our attempts to make things better often blind us from the beauty of what is happening now. Not to mention, the word contentment is vividly flashing in my mind. Contentment is defined as satisfaction; ease of mind. If you are honest with yourself, do you have ease of mind? Do you feel satisfied? If the answer is no, why do you think that is? Our culture has trained us into getting things when we want them, and social media tempts us to compare and feel like we are not good enough. We often see the successes of others without the work and the struggle that made them happen; we see beautiful relationships without the arguments and intentionality it took to develop them; we see pretty pictures without the hustle and reality behind them. The visuals that fill our minds every day are real life minus a lot of reality, yet even when we know this, what we are seeing can still so easily lead to discontentment.
But what if we changed our perspective? My two dear friends and I were talking yesterday about starting the practice of gratefulness. We want to wake up every morning and write down or state ten things we are currently thankful for. This helps us to dream in a healthy way about the future while being settled in today. Not to mention, some dreams are way tougher than we may realize or imagine. If we think about it, there is so much hope in embracing the temporary! I believe resetting our minds in this way takes practice + requires us to have grace on ourselves. Training ourselves also gives us hope during painful seasons because it is a reminder that they will soon pass and healing will come!
I have come to realize again and again that striving for me is almost always not the best. God knows what is best for us and when it is best for us. This simple thought is so difficult to accept sometimes. The reason something isn’t happening right now does not mean He is not answering prayers. He is always working even when we are unable to see it + we might translate not getting what we want into an unanswered prayer when it is far from the case! My prayer is to always live open-handed, being aware of the beauty of the present (even during painful seasons), and having trust that Jesus guides us and leads us in His perfect timing.
We are thrilled to introduce you to Megan O’Neill- goop’s senior beauty editor. We are forever goop fans here at LSK. We are signed up for their emails, follow them on all social, check their site regularly, and always look to them for wellness lifestyle tips, healthy recipes, and clean, toxin-free beauty product recommendations. Megan has a column called Megan Tries It, where she tries new products and then gives goop readers the 411 on them. Read the Q&A to get to know Megan as we pick her brain on all things clean beauty and healthy living!
-It is no secret that we are goop super fans! Can you share a little bit about work life @ goop?
The vibe here really thrills me; it’s laid back yet hyper-focused. We produce a ton of content—really informed, smart, engaging, thoughtful content—and so a tremendous amount of work goes into creating it and getting it into shape and making sure everything is meticulously researched. I love that we don’t just fling things up onto the Internet. So yes, work life at goop is definitely rigorous, but the flip side of late nights are the office Transcendental Meditation sessions or that Susan Miller—she’s a beyond-legit astrologist—will come read us our horoscopes for an hour one day. And there’s also humor. We all get stressed, but it’s definitely a team that likes to laugh and so there’s a lot of jokes and asides and silliness throughout the day.
-We are loving your Megan Tries It column- you have tried a lot! To-date, what is your favorite wellness practice that you have tried for the column?
Thank you so much! I really enjoy writing Megan Tries It—and trying all manner of things. God, so many things I’ve fallen in love with but there’s a sleep potion that really is just next level. It’s called Sleep Inner Beauty Powder and it’s from this Australian brand The Beauty Chef. It’s a powder made of turmeric and natural sedatives like sour cherry, passionflower and lemon balm-and it’s the most soothing, soul-warming, incredibly tasty before-bed drink!! You dump the powder into warm almond milk, add honey, and omg—it puts me into a coma. My husband is an insomniac, a bad one, and even he says it’s helped him relax and ease that racing mind of his.
Something I’ve tried that I loved that was a little more out there was a chakra healing crystal treatment. I lay sprawled on a massage table, bathed in lights beamed through crystals suspended over me. The point was to balance and stimulate my chakras, which can get out of whack from things like stress or too much sitting. I am absolutely down to try anything that may help me feel more soothed throughout the day. Why on earth not? And I can attest that it is soothing and fantastical to be bathed in crystal light.
-Have you always been interested in mindfulness, self care, and overall well-being? Share a little bit about your wellness journey.
I have! My mom has always been someone who chose natural remedies over store-bought over-the-counter things. She’s someone who’s been juicing for something like 40 years, long before it was cool. When my older brother was little, my mom has his bottle filled with sea kelp, and there was no having refined sugar for him. She had bone broth simmering frequently. We drank castor oil when we needed a “clean out,” which is something I think she grew up doing in Jamaica, where she’s from. She relaxed a little by the time I came around and I was allowed to have Doritos and Gushers and awesome kid snacks because total deprivation is definitely not the way. But we never took aspirin or Tylenol for headaches. If I had a headache my mom would say, “Just sit quietly, and it will pass” or “Drink some water.” It made me furious that I couldn’t just take a Tylenol, for God’s sake! But now that’s my mentality, too.
-What are your 3 must-have skincare items?
Vintner’s Daughter is the most beautiful, healing face oil that makes my skin so insanely glowy. It’s a blend of nourishing essential oils like hazelnut, bergamot, evening primrose, sea buckthorn…it feels stupendous on your skin, too. I’ll never not use it. Then I’m also in love with the Replenishing Night Cream from goop. It’s rich and intensely hydrating, and I smooth it on before plane rides, and it really holds up against the stale air plane air. I’m always preposterously dewy when I disembark. I definitely wear it during the day, too, when it’s frigid out. And I’ve just discovered the Essential Serum from Modicum. It’s filled with antioxidants, sea buckthorn, black cumin, and helichrysum oils. (It’s called a serum but it feels like a luxurious face oil and hydrates like one, too.) Helichrysum is an ingredient I hunt for in skincare, it’s so therapeutic and it smells herbaceous and heavenly. I massage the Modicum serum into my face before Vintner’s some mornings, and it just supercharges things and makes my glow last all day.
-Is your daily beauty routine simple or complex? Give us some details!
I relish it my routine. And it’s not just a routine, it’s a soothing ritual that makes me feel prepared and put together and calm and beautiful. In the morning, I wash my face—I’m into the cleansing balm from goop and the Black Mint Cleanser from Odacite—then I press in my oils (Vintner’s always; or Modicum first and then Vintner’s). I choose my outfit and during that time all the goodness in the face oils seep into my skin. Then I smooth on SPF—loving Vive Sana Serum Crema right now; it’s zinc and if your skin is dark like mine, you need just a little, not a lot, or else it doesn’t melt in as invisibly.) And then I glutinously pump Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essence on top for the prettiest, verging-on-sweaty sheen. That is my vibe right there.
-What is on your radar when it comes to wellness trends? What is looking like “the wellness practice” of 2018 from your perspective?
The thing about wellness is it’s not trendy—it’s boundless, and you write your own rules, and that’s the beauty of it. Wellness is cooking your own food and being in charge of what you’re putting into your body that way. Or it’s walking aimlessly after a long day of being hunched over your computer to clear your head. Or it’s dabbing essential oils at your temples before bed or sipping a cozy sleepy powder drink. I just started using goop’s rose quartz roller in the mornings and after long plane rides to LA because it truly wakes my skin up and feels like a massage. It’s an ancient Chinese skincare tool—you roll the beautifully smooth rose quartz across your cheeks, forehead, chin, under-eye area. I swear you look better and your skin more vibrant immediately after.
-Besides goop of course, where do you find toxin-free, clean living inspiration, information, plus tips and tricks? Any favorite blogs or Instagram influencers that you follow?
My mom is definitely my greatest, most authentic wellness inspiration. And I love going to Integral Yoga Natural Foods and Apothecary on 13th street and seeing what tinctures and potions and coconut-sugar snacks they have. Sauntering down the aisles and peering into the nut bins there always inspires me. And there are always a lot of great looking people shopping in there, who I think might be ancient but look smooth and shiny and spry. That place makes me want to live a long, healthy life.
-Are you an essential oils fan? If so, how do you incorporate them in your daily life?
I go for essential oils before I go for fragrance. Most mornings I dab either frankincense or lemon essential oil on my wrists and behind my ears. Lemon is incredible, and studies show citrus scents help wake up your mind.
-If you had to name your top 5 favorite clean beauty/skincare brands, what would they be at the moment?
goop, Vintner’s Daughter, de Mamiel (face, body, and aromatherapy oils that are chanted over and energetically charged that make your skin look fantastic), Sangra de Fruta (their body serums and creams are to die for), Balmyard (the blackberry cheek and lip tint—gorgeous).
-What does living a clean lifestyle mean to you? Can you describe the peace of mind and/or joy that using safe products brings you?
I just want to feel fantastic and age gracefully. I rarely get sick—I really take pains to eat wholesomely and take care of myself, and I think that has a lot to do with it—but I did get sick maybe a year ago with a mild flu, and it freaked me out. I lay on the couch for two days and had no energy and it felt like a death sentence to not be able to move and gallivant and cook and laugh. It occurred to me that maybe that’s what being old and decrepit is like. And old and decrepit do not go hand in hand. I think maybe they used to. I want to be old and vibrant, and I think that’s attainable if I care about what I eat and what goes onto my skin. I feel beautiful knowing that what I’m eating and slathering on is pure and mindfully sourced. And it feels incredible to feel beautiful.
Oh worship music– it has the power to awaken our hearts and sharpen our minds. There is nothing I like more than turning it on in the morning while spending time in the Word, turning it up in my car while driving, or listening to it soothingly in the evening as I am winding down.
This song in particular has my heart singing praise to Jesus. As Bethel Music sings and the Word declares, Jesus is the King of our hearts, our reason and inspiration for everything, our stronghold during hard times, our passion, our strength, our refuge, our fortress, our light, and our savior! The wind inside our sails…he gets us moving in the right direction and keeps us moving along His path.
But I will sing of your strength and will joyfully proclaim your faithful love in the morning For you have been a stronghold for me, a refuge in my day of trouble. To you, my strength, I sing praises because God is my stronghold- my faithful God. Psalm 59:16-17 (CSB)
By singing songs like King Of My Heart and believing every single lyric, we are proclaiming our faith in Jesus, the One who loves us, protects us, strengthens us, and holds us everyday of our lives. He is a good, good father!
Whether it is something big or something small, we all need inspiration to be strong and courageous quite often. It could be learning something new at work, taking a professional risk that you believe you have been called to take, making a personal decision that you have been praying about for months, going into a social situation that might give you anxiety, or so on and so on.
The list is truly endless of situations that come up in our lives that require strength and courage, in both little amounts and big amounts, so thank goodness that the Lord is with us through it all. Literally through it all! Not only is he with us, but he is before us, behind us, beside us, for us, and in us. He has already stood where we are standing and knows exactly what will happen before we even get there.
“Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” -Joshua 1:9 (CSB) This is our inspiration as believers- the promise that He is with us. He has commanded us (out of love for us) to live life courageously and with strength, for He is with us every second and every step of the way, so there is no reason to fear or lose hope. Keep pressing on and keeping fighting the good fight every day…He is with you!
Happy Wednesday, friends! Today we are continuing our Q&A series with the three founders of Branch Basics and we are so excited to introduce you to Marilee! Marilee is Allison’s aunt and is a wellness/nutritionist guru! You probably remember Marilee’s name in both Allison’s Q&A and Kelly’s Q&A. Read the Q&A with Marilee below to get to know her + learn even more about Branch Basics, the toxin-free, totally safe, and completely pure home cleaning solution that we love. Also, they are kindly offering a promo code for LSK readers…use code LSK20 for 20% off at branchbasics.com!
We have heard so much about you in Allison & Kelly’s Q&As! What originally inspired you to become so knowledgeable and passionate about holistic living and toxin-free products?
In my twenties I was faced with the fact that I needed a kidney transplant and would never have children. I never had the transplant, had a child and recovered from many lifelong chronic health issues just through the study of using food as medicine which resulted in a radical diet change from the Standard American Diet to eating only nutrient dense real organic food.
Later, I had a severely chemically injured 10 year old child that we were told would never recover and would be a bubble boy for the rest of his life, but he did in fact recover and the steps we had to take for him to completely heal revealed just how much having products and materials with harmful chemicals in our homes impacts our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.
Our lives were transformed with the application of just getting back to basics – eating real food and creating a healthy home.
It seems like you played a pretty large role in Allison’s journey through turning around her PCOS. What was that like for you, guiding her through that time, as her aunt?
It was such an honor and privilege to spend that couple of months with Allison as I had missed much of her growing up years since we had been so isolated from family during the time my son was recovering from chemical injury. Getting to really know her and watch her heal and recover during that time and after she left my home was like seeing my own daughter emerge healthy and strong with her own precious baby. I cherish the relationship I have with Allison now (niece – like a daughter, friend, and business partner) and it wouldn’t have happened had we not all faced major health challenges.
We of course know how important our diets are for our overall health, but what is your #1 bit of advice when it comes to eating healthy?
Plain and simple.Get back to basics and eat only the organic real food that God created for us!
We love Branch Basics’ REVIEW, REMOVE, REPLACE process for beginning the journey of removing toxin-free products from one’s home. Can you briefly share why removing toxin-free products from our homes is so crucial?
Our home should be a safe haven, a place of refuge and regeneration that is free from contaminants and elements that harm our health. Overwhelming scientific evidence indicates that the air within our homes is polluted and that illness caused by exposure to these pollutants is a serious threat to our health. Research has shown that many of these chemicals in our homes can cause symptoms in every organ, disrupt the endocrine system leading to breast and prostate cancer, endometriosis, fibroid tumors, ovarian cysts, loss of sex drive and fertility and can damage brain chemistry leading to hyperactivity, learning disabilities, depression, and even mental illness. They can also accumulate in the organs, triggering cancers of the liver, lung, colon, thyroid, etc.
Creating a healthy home by eliminating these poisons can save money that might otherwise be spent on doctor visits, medication, and missed workdays. A chemical free-living area enables our bodies to use its energy for rejuvenation and healing instead of detoxifying chemicals. Removing this immune stress gives the body the power, and literally the breathing room to maintain health or to recover and heal!
What has been the most joyful part of this Branch Basics journey for you?
Having the opportunity to work with our team and share information that is life changing to many people with ears to hear!
What is your dream for the future of Branch Basics?
We want to create an army of people who are eating real food and have created truly healthy homes so that the healthcare crisis we are facing in America can be turned around. We would also like to have a Branch Basics Healing Center/Resort where people could come and experience the “transforming power of pure” – stay in a facility built with non-toxic materials where no harmful chemicals are used, eat real food, use safe products we would furnish, and wear clothes we would provide to ensure that everyone would not be exposed to residues of toxic laundry products. This would provide participants at our center a fast track to healing that would motivate them to go home and apply what they learned just as Allison and Kelly experienced at my home.
We have mentioned it before on the blog, a beautiful hardcover version of the Bible that we absolutely love spending time in. Of course every version of the Word is a beautiful gift, but this version is especially dear to us. Friends, meet She Reads Truth.
Many of you have probably heard of She Reads Truth- an online Christian community inspiring women who love Jesus to spend time in the Word and live out their lives in Truth while inspiring and encouraging others in their faith journeys. Their website, Facebook page, Instagram account, and app are all inspiring places inviting His daughters to spend connecting with other believers while strengthening their faith.
Their hardcover Bible is not only aesthetically gorgeous on the exterior, it is complete with the Christian Standard version of the Word with additional historical information and timelines, devotions, space for notes, and more. We look forward every day to spending time in our She Reads Truth Bibles, expectant to what we will read and grateful for the time spent with Him.
Thank you, SRT, for developing such an incredible version of the Bible- it is such a blessing to all! Click the image below to check it out. xx