2018 Intentions

Goals. Resolutions. Intentions. There’s no denying that these words are thrown around like confetti during the start of a new year. Although they mean roughly the same thing, I find that the word “intention” is the most robust of the three, so that’s what I’m rolling with. Admittedly, I used to think that new year’s resolutions were dumb. “No one ever sticks to them anyway,” I’d mutter to myself. However, gradually, over time, I’ve found that setting realistic goals at the start of a new year can be incredibly powerful. After all, small changes can make a substantial differences in our overall wellbeing.

I’ll be honest: I’ve been kicking myself for not having this post ready to go on New Year’s Day. As I’m sure most of you can relate to, the month of December was a complete blur, and before I knew it, 2018 was here. Although writing this post has been on the forefront of my mind from January 2nd onward, the perfectionist in me fought back. If it wasn’t posted on January 1st, it’s no longer relevant, right? WRONG!

For the first time ever, I’m excited about declaring my intentions publicly. I’ve never been super vulnerable on this platform, and it’s about time I change that. There’s also something incredibly powerful about putting a pen to paper and writing my intentions down. If nothing else, putting my intentions out there for all to see will hold me accountable. With all of that being said, why wait until 2019 – another 358 days – when I’m ready to start crushing my intentions now, in this very moment.

Be okay with silence. Better yet, embrace it! If I’m alone, I find myself latching on to music, podcasts, and social media to fill the silence. Although these things will always have a time and a place in my life, there is something to be said for enjoying time with yourself and yourself only. Life is noisy both literally and figuratively, so I’m choosing to embrace silence for at least 30 minutes a day.

Continue to grow spiritually through yoga and meditation. 2017 was a year of tremendous spiritual growth for me. Although I had no intention of that being the case, I loved every second of it. For several months now, I’ve been going to yoga once a week and will continue to do so. When it comes to meditation, I’ve merely dabbled with it and hope to make it more of a constant in my life in 2018. My intention is to use the Calm app for guided meditation 10 minutes a day, 3 days per week.

Use oils for emotional support on a nightly basis. About a month ago, I started to use a set of essential oils referred to as the Feelings Kit. It contains six magical bottles of oil: Valor, Harmony, Forgiveness, Release, Present Time, and Inner Child. Applying them nightly while speaking affirmations into the universe has benefited my emotional wellbeing in a multitude of ways. However, over the past week or so, I’ve been using these oils less consistently and feel more irritable and less confident in result. Back to my emotional support oils I go! I intend to use them nightly from here onward.

Commit to a half-hour of no technology before bed. Whether it’s the blue light from our screens or the content that we engage in, technology makes it incredibly difficult to unwind, thereby compromising a good night’s sleep. Additionally, limiting screen time before bed allows us to engage in more meaningful activities. Diving into a good book, drawing a hot bath, or meditating (as mentioned above) are all excellent ways to utilize this time.

Allow for 8-10 hours of sleep. Some people can function on six hours of sleep. I am not and never have been one of those people. Instead, I am the best version of myself when I get between eight and ten hours. As problematic as that can be in a world where 24 hours in a day is not enough, I’ve learned that shifting my mindset is key when it comes solving this problem. When I get adequate sleep, I get more done in less time. Why compromise my precious sleep when I’ll spend the day lollygagging around anyway? Further, allowing for more sleep means cutting out the bullsh*t. Did I really need to stay up till midnight, scrolling through Instagram while binge-watching Bravo shows? Absolutely not.

Exercise in a variety of ways 3-5 days per week. Variety is the spice of life! I’ve found that I enjoy exercise the most when I switch things up. Luckily, the ClassPass app makes this super easy to do. After some experimentation over the past year or so, I’ve found that HIIT, yoga, barre, reformer pilates, and cycling are my favorite ways to get my heart pumping. Gone are the days in which I force myself to engage in exercise that I hate. (Ahem – running.)

Eat more plants. Ditch the meat, dairy, and gluten as much as possible. I feel so much better in every which way when I eat a plant-based diet. After all, food is fuel. I know how to eat healthy and I know how to make healthy food taste good. However, when it comes to food, self-control is something that I’ve always struggled with. So, this intention really comes down to being more mindful about what I’m consuming. Instead of mindlessly inhaling a mediocre cheesesteak at 2 am or grabbing a handful of stale cookies from the nurses’ station, I have to ask myself: Is it worth it worth the empty calories? Is it worth the sub-par taste? Is it worth how you’ll feel in several hours?

Limit alcohol intake to weekends and special occasions. In the moment, drinking to my heart’s content seems like a great idea. However, the following day – when I sleep the morning away, have a pounding headache, skip the gym, and eat terribly – makes me feel awful both physically and mentally. Loading myself with empty calories isn’t ideal either. Because I’m a social person and because social activities tend to revolve around drinking, limiting instead of abstaining is most realistic for my lifestyle.

Start saving money. For real. There’s no denying it. I’m a huge spender. Because I like nice things and work hard for my money, I’ve embraced the YOLO mentality for far too long. While I’ve “saved” over the past several years, it’s nothing to write home about and certainly hasn’t set me up for the future. Now that I’m rapidly approaching my thirties, it’s time to buckle down. This is scary to write, but here goes nothing: I will increase my retirement contribution to 10% and ensure that 20% of my paychecks end up in my savings account.

There you have it, ladies and gents! My 2018 intentions are officially on blast. If you feel so inclined, I’d love to hear about yours! May your 2018 be full of countless blessings. :)

Traveling with Essential Oils

Later tonight, I’m hopping on a red eye and am embarking on a 11-day trip to Ireland with my mom and brother. My cousin and his fiancé are getting married in Belfast and, when presented with the opportunity to attend, there was no way that we were going to pass it up. We decided to make several stops while we are there, including Dublin, Galway, and the Aran Islands.

While I am so incredibly excited, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel a little panicked about not having all of my oils and oil-infused products at my fingertips. You see, while I love to travel, I haven’t taken an extended vacation since oils have become such an integral part of my everyday life. As such, I’ve put a ton of thought into what I will bring on my journey – so much so that I decided to compile a detailed list and share it with you.

For starters, Young Living makes an adorable, portable, itty bitty diffuser that is perfect for traveling. The diffuser that I am referring to is called the Orb. It’ll save me from having to lug around one of my full-size diffusers, and it is both spill-proof and USB-powered.

Next, let’s talk about travel bags for essential oils. I searched the internet for hours looking for the perfect travel bag. Believe when I say that Baggage and Co. (via Etsy) makes the cutest, most practical travel bags around. They use Rifle Paper Co. fabric, for crying out loud! I ultimately purchased one of their 10 bottle bags that fits roller bottles, 5 ml bottles, and 10 ml bottles. Versatility is the name of the game! I won’t deny that narrowing my collection down to just 10 oils was a painstaking process, but now that I’ve decided on which are worthy of coming along for the journey, I feel so freaking good about what I selected.

ESSENTIAL OILS

  • Valor: A blend of Black Spruce, Camphor, Blue Tansy, Frankincense, and Geranium, this is one of my absolute favorite oils. It goes onto my wrists every. single. day. Personally, I call it “liquid courage” as it helps me get through everyday woes. I have no doubt that it will come in handy for those pre-flight jitters.
  • Deep Relief Roll-On: Between flights, train rides, and walking on cobblestone streets, I have a sneaking suspicion that this trip won’t be without achey muscles and joints. And, let’s be honest: I’ll likely experience a little bit of head tension after over-indulging in too much whiskey and Guinness. Comprised of Peppermint, Lemon, Balsam Canada, Clove, Balsam Copaiba, Wintergreen, Vetiver, and Dorado Azul, this magical roll-on provides relief from all types of discomfort.
  • Peace&CalmingLavenderCedarwood: Every oil user has their tried and true sleep trio, and this happens to be mine. Although I generally sleep well on vacation, changing time zones can be tricky and result in a compromised sleep schedule. Ain’t nobody got time for that when there are sites to be seen! Fun fact: Cedarwood is known to naturally stimulate melatonin production.
  • Tummy Roller: This is one of my favorite DIY roller bottles because it is a total miracle worker! In a 10 ml roller bottle, combine 15 drops Digize, 15 drops Peppermint, and unfractionated coconut oil. Irish cuisine, while delicious, can be both heavy and indulgent. Since I generally don’t eat that way, especially for prolonged periods of time, both Digize and Peppermint will provide me with mind-blowing digestive support. Digize is a blend of Tarragon, Ginger, Peppermint, Juniper, Fennel, Lemongrass, Anise, and Patchouli. I prefer to add extra Peppermint to Digize as it tends to mask Digize’s not-so-lovely smell.
  • Oola Family: The Oola line of essential oil blends is my latest obsession. All of the blends are incredible in terms of both functionality and aroma. Because this is a family trip, bringing Oola Family along for the ride seems more than appropriate. This blend is too complex to list all of the single oils that it contains, but trust me when I say that it’s absolutely amazing!
  • Present Time: A blend of Bitter Orange, Black Spruce, and Ylang Ylang, this essential oil is incredible for emotional support. I have found that my best travel experiences take place when I completely let go of the mundane things that I deal with on a day-to-day basis. It’s difficult to live in the moment when you are worried about sharing the perfect Instagram photo or racking up a less-than-ideal credit card balance. Present Time is all about living in the moment and embracing the YOLO mentality that we know and love!
  • Orange Vitality: I love love love Orange and include it in countless diffuser blends. Unfortunately, I won’t have my entire oil arsenal with me, so Orange is coming along for a more practical purpose. I add a drop of Orange Vitality to my Thieves AromaBrite toothpaste for a naturally brighter smile.
  • Frankincense: Similar to what I said about Orange, I love Frank (yes, we are on a first name basis) as it is a staple in many of my diffuser blends. Again, as I won’t have all of my oils with me, Frank is tagging along for a more practical purpose. I add a drop of it to my ART Light Moisturizer as it provides phenomenal skin support.

Next, let’s talk supplements because Lord knows that I can’t be without them for 10 whole days. Interestingly, extensive research has made it quite clear that the vast majority of supplements on the market do not get absorbed by the body. What does that mean? You’re literally pissing money away if you’re not investing in high quality supplements.

Well, Young Living’s supplements are not only high-quality, but also infused with essential oils. While this may seem silly, hear me out. Taking supplements that are infused with essential oils makes them 70-80% bioavailable to the body. This is HUGE. Because of this, I notice an insane difference in my wellbeing when I am without them. This, my friends, is why they are coming along for the ride.

Young Living’s Core Vitality Case is the bomb.com for storing supplements. Damn straight I have a pill box − I’m 28 going on 84 and proud. Because I’m terrible at remembering to take my precious supplements, I use this case both at home and while traveling. It houses three Vitality oils, which means that I get to bring three additional oils with me. SCORE! It also houses veggie capsules and provides enough room for a dropper bottle of carrier oil so that I can make my own supplements on the fly.

SUPPLEMENTS

  • Thieves, Lemon, and Peppermint Vitality: I love my Vitality oils. The pretty white label means that they are safe for consumption.
    • 2 drops Thieves + 2 drops Lemon + carrier oil will provide much-needed immune support. Between germy trains planes, trains, and automobiles; overindulging; and being on-the-go, traveling wreaks havoc on the immune system.
    • 2 drops Lemon + 2 drops Peppermint + carrier oil will allow for detox from the overindulgence mentioned above. I have a “when in Rome” mentality while traveling, but it tends to get me in trouble once those early morning tours and train rides roll around. In those instances, this combo will provide me with some pepp in my step − literally.
  • Multigreens: This powerhouse capsule is packed with chlorophyll, which is present in every green plant. Key ingredients include spirulina, alfalfa sprouts, barley grass, bee pollen, eleuthero, and Pacific kelp. As I anticipate eating much more meat and potatoes than I typically do, I’ll take all the green nutrition that I can get.
  • Life 9: Combining 17 billion live cultures from 9 beneficial bacteria strains, this is the probiotic of all probiotics. Gut health is hugely important, but even more so while traveling. My digestion gets all sorts of whacky after flying and veering away from my largely plant-based diet, so there is no way that I’m leaving home without some digestive support.
  • Super B: Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12 are engery-boosting and so very important. Each one plays a unique role in the body’s overall function. I’ve noticed a huge difference in my energy level since I started taking Super B, hence why it’s coming along with me.
  • Ningxia Red: This delicious beverage is loaded with antioxidants and has become a staple in my everyday life. I seriously crave it. Because of that, I love that Young Living offers it in convenient, single use packets that are super convenient for traveling.

Lastly, I am so grateful that Young Living’s Bon Voyage Travel Pack exists. Now that I know just how terrible most personal care products are for our health and wellbeing, I can’t imagine having to resort to bringing them along with me for the sake of being TSA compliant. I also love that I don’t have to triple check a toiletry list to make sure that I’ve packed everything that I need. Instead, everything comes in a neat little bundle, ready to go. All of the incredible goodies that are included in the travel pack are listed below.

PERSONAL CARE

  • Thieves AromaBright Toothpaste
  • Thieves Fresh Essence Plus Mouthwash
  • Thieves Dental Floss
  • Cinnamint Lip Balm
  • Young Living Toothbrush
  • Lavender Shampoo
  • Lavender Conditioner
  • Morning Start Bath + Shower Gel
  • Genesis Hand + Body Lotion
  • ART Light Moisturizer

And, that’s a wrap! As you can see, traveling with essential oils is well within the realm of possibility. If you’ve traveled with oils before, I’d love to know which made the cut.

Also, feel free to follow my journey on Instagram, and stay tuned for Ireland travel tips! :)

DIY Garden Spray

As a city dweller, I take pride in my urban garden. Between veggies, herbs, and flowers, I’ve got containers upon containers of homegrown goodies come summertime. While most gardeners in the ‘burbs and countryside have to worry about a whole slew of insects, rodents, and even large animals such as deer, the most common pest that I’ve come across in the city is squirrels. Ugh!

I love animals of all kinds. I also love using all-natural products whenever possible. As such, store-bought and toxin-filled products just weren’t cutting it for me. I’m not in the business of hurting harmless critters or myself; I simply want them to stay away from my labors of love. After a bit of research, I’ve come up with a recipe to keep the squirrels away without harming them or poisoning my food. 

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1/4 cup red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp. unscented Castile soap
  • 25 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 16 oz. glass spray bottle

What you’ll do:

  • Add the filtered water and red pepper flakes to a small pot; bring to a rapid boil for approximately 5 minutes; allow to cool to room temperature
  • Pour the mixture over a fine mesh strainer; add the liquid to the spray bottle; discard the red pepper flakes
  • Add the unscented Castile soap and peppermint essential oil to the spray bottle; top with filtered water until the bottle is full; apply the lid and give it a good shake
  • Give your plants and the soil below them a good spritz every several days, especially after rainfall

DIY Dry Shampoo

Hellooooo, ladies! If you are an avid dry shampoo user such as myself, you will love this post! I am a dry shampoo junkie. I go through cans and cans and cans. Between work, school, maintaining a social life, enjoying hobbies, and working out, whose got time for daily hair washing and styling?! Quite honestly, I should have invested stock in Batiste a looooong time ago. However, as I’m on a mission to rid my apartment of all things toxic now more than ever, I almost fainted when I realized what goes into that aerosol can.

Upon researching how to make some dry shampoo of my own, I was blown away by how simple (and cheap!) it is to make. As an added bonus, I made mine with peppermint and lavender essential oils. They not only make the final product smell wonderful, but have functional benefits as well. The tingling sensation of peppermint on my scalp is also amaaaaazing! It’s truly incredible how much more I have incorporated essential oils into my life since joining the Young Living community. I have learned so much in such a short amount of time and know that I have only hit the tip of the iceberg in terms of what there is to learn.

Ingredients:

  • Corn starch: adds volume
  • Baking soda: cleanses
  • Peppermint essential oil: anti-itch
  • Lavender essential oil: anti-dandruff, strengthens hair, promotes hair growth

What you’ll need:

  • A 4 oz. powder shaker with lid (I purchased this one from Amazon and it is perfect for this project!)
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 6 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 6 drops lavender essential oil
  • Optional for brunettes: 1 tbsp. cocoa powder

What you’ll do:

  • Add all ingredients to the shaker, apply the lid, and shake well
  • Shake the dry shampoo onto the roots of your hair and use your fingers to work it into your scalp; allow to sit for roughly 5 minutes
  • Once 5 minutes has elapsed, brush the remaining dry shampoo through your hair and style as usual

April ’16 Running Playlist

Happy Weekend, y’all!

Since I’m in the midst of training for the Broad Street Run, I figured that I would share one of my favorite running playlists with you. While nearly everybody requires great music to get them through a workout, I really do when it comes to running. I am not a natural runner by any means, and working my way up to even 10 miles is a challenge. Thus, the better the music, the better I perform. If I have an awesome playlist to look forward to, I’m that much more motivated to get my butt outside and run my little heart out.

If you run roughly a 10-minute mile such as myself, this playlist is perfect for a four-miler. If you’re a Speedy Gonzalez, my apologies. If you give this playlist a try, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! What songs do you recommend that I add to my May running playlist?