The Beginning of My Organic Journey

I’ve always been fairly “green” conscious in my day to day life (eat organic veggies, careful where I buy my meats (no beef), consume very little fast food, make my own laundry detergent and drink lots of water/teas). I also recycle. But I failed miserably at most everything I put on my face/body. What’s insane is that I knew it wasn’t healthy and did it anyway. The non-organic products were plentiful, cheap and had creamy creams and sudsy soaps. I did try my hand at going organic years ago, but “organic” meant no suds, lotions that sat on the skin or were too watery, and they were definitely expensive and choices were limited. Product spreadability was minimal and makeup was laughable.

My “out with the chemicals, in with organic/all natural journey” began after returning home recently from visiting Sedona. (Maybe because of the “Sedona magic” I kept hearing about?) I was privileged to meet up with a longtime Canadian internet pal and her husband while there. We hiked quite a bit and I mostly wore lightweight, long-sleeved shirts, lightweight pants, and a visor (with my head previously sprayed with sunscreen before meeting up). My friend owns a shop in Canada that sells organic/natural cleaning supplies and soaps, so she’s all about being green. We even talked about why my eyes were always so red. She asked me what I used for eyeliner and mascara and I told her Almay and Maybelline, respectively. She just nodded. I’ve used Maybelline mascara since I was a teenager and I switched to Almay eyeliner, hoping to stop the redness but it didn’t. On our last day of hiking, it was going to be hot so I wore shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. I brought my chemical-laden sunscreen with me. Before we set out, I got out of the car and sprayed myself down. Now, she is a very sweet person, but I noted her look of slight disapproval as she moved, though I made sure I was far enough away from everyone and downwind. I thought she just didn’t understand that I HAD to wear sunscreen. Her disapproval must have made an impression on me because once home, it didn’t take long before I began my search, so I thank her.

I wear makeup every day. Most days I feel like I could scratch my face off. My eyes water and turn red every day. I raided my bathroom cabinets, drawers, and shower, covering my computer desk with at least four or five dozen products (ridiculous in itself!). I scoured each product label, entering the long chemical words to find out what they were and the harm they can cause. I got sick to my stomach as I placed makeup, hair care and skin products – some brand new and unopened (some expensive) –  in a trash bag. The MONEY I wasted! I thought about the HARM I have been doing to my precious body from all the parabens, phthalates, glycols, etc! I read some of the side effects of certain chemicals in makeup and hair/skin care products: headaches, hair and scalp problems, premature aging, infertility, acne, skin allergies, eye infections, hormonal imbalance, cancer, and skin discoloration. Some even contain arsenic and formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives! Nope, I’m done. I decided to switch out all of my products to as organic/natural as possible, then I set out on my mission. I’m sure there are some fantastic and fantastically expensive products out there that work well, but I am a retired teacher so the items I researched and chose were within my budget.

Organic Throwaway

I searched for organic shampoos/conditioners, soaps, eyeliners, serums, facial SPF moisturizers, facial scrubs, primers, foundations, eye shadows, mascaras and lotions. I researched every ingredient, science study, and multiple reviews for each product. I also looked for products that were labeled cruelty-free. Four days later (I love being retired!), I had a good list of items to try. The items I chose were also based on me being a redhead with dry skin, fine hair and almost 60 years old, but maybe this will inspire you to go on your own search that fits your criteria.

Makeup: Organic makeup that I could try on in a local store was extremely limited so it was an easy search, though not inexpensive. I settled on Juice Beauty. The reviews were outstanding for the organic aspect and good to excellent for application. Way over one dollars later, I have serum, concealer, blush, primer, and foundation from Juice Beauty. I’m fairly happy with it and even though the coverage is sheer, I now know I’m putting something healthy on my face. Plus, I don’t mind seeing my freckles so it works for me and my face doesn’t itch. I tried the Juice Beauty eyeliner and took it back because it was not creamy and it was next to impossible to use. (My Canadian friend sent me a Dr. Hauschka eyeliner pencil and I love it. I will order more on Amazon.) I didn’t like Juice Beauty eye shadow colors (still researching eye shadows) or their facial setting powder so I went with Bare Minerals Mineral Veil. I had used it before and liked it so I went back to it. I settled on Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes for my mascara and I have to say that so far, I love it. I need a facial sunscreen so I found Australian Gold Botanical tinted MINERAL facial sunscreen (no chemicals!) with broad spectrum SPF 50 and it is AMAZING! I love this stuff and compared to the chemical sunscreen lotion/moisturizer I was using, I’m over the moon happy with this product. It goes on smoothly and the tint doesn’t really color your skin, it just helps so the minerals don’t appear white on your face. It’s magic! They also have it in an non-tinted lotion for the body and a spray so I can spray my head as well. That was a BIG score for me since sunscreens can be so chemically harsh and I tend to break out with so many of them. I can’t say enough good about the Botanical sunscreen line.  UPDATE: I found an organic makeup online, Zuii, and they have samples for $2.00 each. I spent $26.00 for samples of primer, foundation, lipstick, and pressed & loose powders. I’ll do another update after I receive and try them.

NOTES: In my search for organic makeup, there were several good ones online but I didn’t want to try something I couldn’t test in the store. Also, in my opinion, the four “cleanest” brands I found that weren’t organic or natural (and most not cruelty-free) were It Cosmetics, Tarte, Clinique and Bare Minerals. Though each one had some product(s) with an ingredient I wanted to avoid or the reviews clarified what I wasn’t looking for, many products in these lines are somewhat acceptable, except for those trying to be purely natural and avoid bad chemicals. Because of this information, Juice Beauty was the clear winner for me. Origins is the oldest “organic” company (by Estee Lauder) but I read where they have come under fire for including “not so organic” ingredients in their products. Recently, Estee Lauder has come out with Origins Organics so that may be another brand to try in the future.

Shampoos and soaps were fairly easy to find so narrowing shampoos down for me came down to reviews. My scalp used to itch and I noticed my hair was starting to break off – not fall out – but break off. I use a lot of hair care products that provide volume as well (the labels on those products really made me sick to my stomach from all the bad chemicals in them!) I chose two brands so I could rotate them. I have fine, limp hair and need a volumizing shampoo. The Acure Volume Shampoo is outstanding! My scalp quit itching and my hair had gorgeous volume after the first round! My hair felt so clean. The other shampoo and conditioner I chose are the Juice Organics Volumizing brand. They are also good, but I love the Acure best. My local grocery store had organic soaps with which to bathe. I chose a lavender scent and it’s wonderful. I still use Lever2000 deodorant soap under my arms, but that’s something I’m going to have to work through.

On to facial scrubs: I had ordered the Acure Brightening Facial Scrub on Amazon and was waiting on it when a worker/friend in our local vitamin shop suggested Organic Manuka Honey Face Scrub. I wanted to try my new makeup right away so I bought it. I had been using the same facial scrub for many years and I’m guessing it’s best for teens with oily skin because my skin became drier and drier as time went on – and no doubt because I’m getting older, as well. The Manuka scrub left a slightly oily feeling on my face which was weird because I’m used to a very dry feeling after using a scrub. I didn’t like it at first, but 5 minutes later, my skin was radiant and not oily! I think I can get used to this. I haven’t yet tried the Acure scrub yet but if it is anything like their shampoo, I’m sure I’ll be pleased. UPDATE: The Acute facial scrub is intense. The granules are bigger so a light scrubbing is all you’ll need to do. Once a week with this product will be enough for me. 

Organic Facial Scrubs

For hair care styling, I chose Organic Excellence Styling Spray for hair volume/hair spray, and Giovanni Organic Hair Care L.A. Natural Styling Gel for some extra hold for my wonderfully fine, limp hair. I have these products on the way from Amazon so I’m not able to tell you about those just yet. I hope to update soon. UPDATE: These two products are PERFECT for my hair! I cannot use as much of the Giovanni gel that I had used of my previous gel product because it can tend to get heavy, but when I combine it with the Organic Excellence spray, the hold is just what I was looking for. I am extremely happy with both of these products and how well they work together.

This journey has been a real eye-opener for me. I’m so glad I challenged myself to make these changes. I know I can’t avoid all the chemicals in my life, but I do have daily control over what I choose to put on my face and skin. Organic products have come a long way so if you are like me and were turned off to using them years ago, I urge you to challenge yourself to live a cleaner lifestyle. There are many other products out there I want to try, but I started with what I felt was immediately important to my lifestyle and within my budget.

Now to turn my household completely green…

©Lori Ziegelmeyer

*And just FYI: I do NOT get paid for any product mentioned here on this blog*

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Imagination

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I used to be a cowboy and I used have a horse. Not a real horse, but an ironing chair that moved up and down a steel rod, stopping at chosen heights, with four feet splayed out for balance. It had a small back with a curved place behind it to tie on my “reigns” (Dad’s belts). I yelled giddy up and drove my spurs into the belly of the make believe stallion that would rare back, whinny and gallop away. I used to run away from Indians (straight shot) from my parents’ bedroom, across the hallway (huge boulders) and into the living room (a place like the Grand Canyon), and jump on my “horse” like they did in the Westerns I saw on TV. I would rock the green vinyl-covered chair back and forth in a mad gallop away from the Indians to safety. I could raise and lower the chair (big horse/pony) to accommodate my imagination. There were some pretty dangerous situations played out in my living room. Once, I was almost captured by the “Injuns” and my trusty dog growled them away. At another time, Daniel Boone, himself, showed up to slit some throats on my behalf and touched the front of his coonskin hat in a nod to my continued saved life. I outran rattlesnakes by day and slept around campfire by night. I could swing my leg around the neck of my horse and glide off as if I were a ballerina sliding off the back of my partner. I would run for cover behind a huge rock (sofa cushion) and kill at least a half dozen Indians with my cap gun so I could live to fight another day. It was a hard life, being a cowboy alone in the vast landscape with everyone wanting to kill me. Thank goodness I was saved many times when my mother called me to supper. Hey, a cowboy has got to eat.

I said I didn’t have a real horse, but I was a real cowboy.

Today, I think about my mother and what she heard and saw me perform. Was she happy her little girl had a good imagination? Was she amused I thought myself a cowboy? Did she  silently laugh as I played out scenarios, victorious in my battles with the Indians? I’d give anything to know these answers. Was she proud of me for being victorious? Did she ever play such games herself? Did she see herself in my play? I’m guessing she did. My mother was maybe a semester away from graduating with a bachelors in teaching History and close to having enough hours to become a nurse. Then she decided to move to where the action was (LA, California) and became a script girl for MGM, hanging out with people like Jackie Cooper (I have the picture to prove it) and was friends with Mel Blanc (voice of Bugs Bunny, et al) and his wife. She met my dad one night at the Palladium Ballroom in 1945 and was married two weeks later for a total of 58 years until her death.

I have a picture of her, about age 4, on the rooftop of her childhood home with her big sister, Eleanor. She is singing out loud and proud. She was unencumbered. She was unaware of any judgments. She was singing from her soul. She felt it. It was real. (Maybe she was a cowboy, too.)

This is how I see her, even today. A rebel, my mom. I try to live up to that, but a cowboy only has so many lives.

The Whole 30

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I’m just sharing this information because it has helped me so much. Please understand I don’t advocate doing ANYTHING without first checking with your doctor(s)!

I was so excited to retire seven years ago. I’d been looking forward to it for a couple of years, happy I could now make camping reservations and not worry about what day of the week we had to go. Three shoulder, one knee and one wrist operations later, I found myself sedentary, overweight and unhappy. I couldn’t hike, ride my bike or exercise like I was used to for fear I’d hurt myself again and go through all the pain that comes with it. Pain was not my friend. Pain can change a person. I did get a lot of art work done, which does make me happy, but I hurt ALL THE TIME. I was also diagnosed with osteoarthritis during this time. My problems are manageable and I know how lucky I am that it’s not something worse, but I’m writing this as someone who was constantly active and had an extreme set back on the road to enjoying retirement. I made some really bad choices to comfort myself. Maybe you also made some bad choices recently and want to change them. Maybe you are facing the same situation of hurting all over and don’t like taking nsaids and other pain killers. (I took so many I am concerned about my liver and kidneys).

I began to eat copious amounts of comfort foods: potatoes, chocolate, creamy sauces, flavored coffee creamers, etc. I also began drinking A little too much. Drinking helped with the overall malaise and I took great joy in fatty, sugary foods. I wasn’t moving much at all because it hurt and it took too much energy. Plus, I just didn’t want to.

Becky and I fell into a horrible pattern. She was joining me on the bad food/drinking habits and gained a lot of weight. To her credit, she continued to exercise and we ate at home most of the time so we didn’t consume a lot of junk food (but she found delicious fatty sauces to DIE for). She has thyroid issues and recently has been thrown into a-fib. She also noticed her immune system was starting to fail. We both decided that something had to give. What’s the saying…car mechanics own the worst-running cars and nurses make the worst patients? We are physical educators and we certainly know better! (We used excuses like, “We’ve exercised all our lives, we earned this _________ (fill in the blank with the fattiest food and drink you can imagine), and, “Life is short and food is good and we won’t miss any of it!”) We became gluttons, truly. It was fun while it lasted, but it was time to live a better life.

Becky, being the amazing researcher she is, decided to try The Whole 30 program, which is basically a paleo plan: no sugars, no grains/legumes and no dairy. When she explained this program to me and said this is what she thinks we need to do, I thought, “Just kill me now!” I love (did I say LOVE?) chocolate, milk chocolate – the sugar-ier and fattier the better. The 30 in The Whole 30 means 30 days. I promised to stick with it for “The Whole 14.” That’s all I felt I had in me. Of course, the book says you’ll really feel good after week three. I still have horrible sugar cravings, especially at night watching TV. I found hot/cold teas and grapes are a great substitute for the chocolate I so covet. It works for me.

I feel absolutely fantastic after 13 days. My achiness and overall malaise (what I call “body fire”) are calmed to the point where I don’t look and feel like a 90 year-old when I get up from a chair or out of bed. I’m sleeping through the night (as much as a geriatric dog will let me) and I have more energy throughout the day without sugar dives. What I would call a side effect of The Whole 30 is weight loss and both of us have lost some weight (3-4 lbs per week), which feels amazing! I started exercising and even decided to ride my bike again after telling myself that my health could suffer dramatically again if I ever had an accident and fell off. I decided not to live like that anymore. Anything can happen at any time. I needed to enjoy life a little more and I love biking. I have to mention that meditation – just 5 or 10 minutes a day – also helps. For me, it sets in motion a calm day and I feel more focused. I usually do this before my feet touch the floor in the morning but have been known to fall back asleep for 10 minutes. LOL!

Another thing that I believe helped calm my inflammation besides diet (for me, sugar elimination in particular), are the supplements I take. I took supplements off and on for years but it was always hit and miss. I decided to take my supplements religiously during these 2 weeks because I knew what they could do if taken regularly (why I didn’t do this before, I have no clue!). Two supplements in particular have shown anti-inflammatory properties and I swear by them: Tumeric and Bromelain. Tumeric is a spice that comes from the ginger plant that’s mainly used in Asian dishes and is the main spice in curry. Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes found in pineapples. Tumeric cannot be taken if you are taking blood thinners. If you are interested in this supplement, do some research to decide what kind of turmeric (there are four) is best for your situation and be sure to ask your doctor if this would be a good thing for your health. I also take fish oil, B complex, Evening Primrose, CoQ-10 and glucosamine chondroitin.

Today is my day 14. Tomorrow I have the “right” to add whatever I want back into my diet. That was the agreement between us. She started a week earlier than me so she only has a week left. Both of us think we’ll continue with this paleo plan but I WILL use some half and half in my coffee and I will eat popcorn at the movies. I’m taking a stand on that. We all have our breaking points. 🙂

A few other tidbits:
I had solar nails for 15 years and decided to take them off about 6 months ago. They were paper-thin and hurt. My hair was also dry and brittle after so many operations in a short period of time. I looked for something that would help both and found Biotin, a B vitamin. I have taken one soft chew daily for about 9 weeks and I can’t believe the difference already – even my eyelashes have gotten longer! I guess I was lacking in that vitamin because it sure has helped.

Though I love to move, I’m lazy on some days when I know I should be active. It helps having a dog that bugs me for a walk but she starts and stops so much I don’t get a workout so after I walk her and put her up, I take off on a 20 minute walk by myself. It also helps to have a partner to exercise with. Becky and I are our best motivators (and sometimes our worst but we’re getting better). Maybe your husband or wife doesn’t want to exercise but I bet someone in your neighborhood does. Ask around. Don’t call it “exercise” if that has a bad connotation for you…call it “going for a walk” and take your phone or camera and try to find things as you walk that bring beauty and happiness to your life. xo

This experience follows my previous blog post about my Inner Buddha needing attention. This was one way I paid attention.

My Inner Buddha Needs Attention

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There are four and half hours left in 2016 and I came to my computer to write, as has become habit for the last four years. This year was seen by many as the worst ever. So many icons died in the music, literary and film worlds that it seemed overwhelming. But people die. It’s a beautiful part of life that we endure and if we’re able, we see the necessity. Others see this year as particularly bad since the election. This is what I want to focus on tonight because I haven’t been at my best for what seems like a long while. I feel the need to write it out so I can sit back and actually look at what I’m feeling in words because it seems so overwhelming at times.

I know that I only have so much time on this earth. I believe that we don’t “die,” spiritually speaking. I love the saying ‘Not to spoil the ending for you, but everything is going to be okay’ because I take that spiritually, not earthly – but even then, it applies. I believe in life everlasting. I hope I get to see those I love again in another realm. I know how blessed I am. Taking all of that into consideration, I’m angry and stressed out and unhappy and it mostly has to do with the direction I see my beautiful country going. Without getting into all the reasons why I feel that at this moment (because I don’t want this to be all about that because it could take a long time and I’d rather write about how I feel about it), I want to address what I’m going to DO about it.

Many of my friends feel caught, too, in this up/down, right/left, backwards/forwards world of spirituality and politics. We all feel pulled. Those I’ve discussed this with are truly horrified about what the future holds. I know it sounds silly after reading the paragraph above and all the jargon about ‘everything will be okay,’ but it’s real. Every day I feel pulled – no, compelled – to share with my conservative Facebook friends what is in the news because I fear they are only listening to FOX news and don’t hear what is really going on. I know I, too, can become an echo chamber so I try to debate issues with those who see differently.  I set up a friends list that is only seen by my extreme conservative and liberal friends so we can banter without others “sneaking a peek” and not joining in. I have to admit, I chose some vocal people and we have had heated discussions and except for one person that I made invisible to this political list (for acting like she was above the fray when she was actually stirring the pot and not in a good way), things have gone okay for the most part. Invariably someone will name call and healthy debate comes crashing down.

Here’s where I find myself: I don’t consider myself a nasty person, but recently I sometimes cheer internally when I see a response that may be slightly nasty by a poster, mostly because the poster he/she is responding to was nasty. I know my posts make others feel bad for voting for someone they may not have particularly wanted to vote for. I know they are also not happy with me for sharing it. The conundrum is what to do about it. Do I stop sharing and hope they’re seeing more than one side of the issue or do I continue? My peace of mind is important and I feel social media has affected many of us in negative ways. My dang dog even hates me on it! My wife hates it but doesn’t bother me about it like she used to – she gives me enough rope to hang my own damn self and I feel that’s what I’m doing. If she were to die tomorrow with the social media habits I have now, I don’t think I could forgive myself for not spending more time with her. She’s much much more important to me than anything on social media, so why do I do it? Like I said, we only have so much time on this earth and my duty is to figure out how I want to spend the rest of it. She means more to me than life itself. That should not be followed with a ‘but.’ When I ask my friends how they feel about social media, they agree it’s time consuming but many said they would be lost without Facebook. They said they feel they might miss something. They like the friendships and the connections. They all feel overwhelmed with the current political climate in the country and online.

Which brings me back to the point of this writing. I know the answer to my searching. This writing clarifies it for me, but I’ve always known what to do. It’s just taking the necessary steps to give up needing to prove anything to anyone, to “shine the light” on stupidity. I need to have more faith in my countrymen that they will support the right thing. There is a big jump time happening (and has been happening for quite a while now) and I have to decide if I want to be part of the problem or part of the solution. I can affect world peace by being peaceful within myself (getting back to meditation) and radiating that out to others. I can be happy by making others happy. I can please those who love me by being more present. I just don’t think I can continue to spend as much (any?) time on social media and be happy.

The new year is in four hours and I plan to spend those hours being present, with my Love and my dog. The new year brings hope and a new direction, filled with possibilities and choices. I am the only one responsible for my life.

Life Path

Life Path

My path was littered with all kinds of leaves in various stages of life and death. “Nothing lives forever except love,” my mother’s words echoed in my ears. I began my hunt for the colors of life.

Green grows early and strong – ever hopeful! It is work and responsibility. It is alive and beautiful and energetic. Green stays. Green is unaware of what is to come.

Green yields to yellow as the months give way to the year. Yellow is mellow. It has learned and is wise. Yellow is giving and warm and smart. Yellow is getting tired.

Orange is different. It is showy and signals the unexpected. Orange flies in the face of conventionality. It brings the surprises in life.

Red! Ah, red. Red is the FIRE in life. It is exciting and thrilling. It begs for attention. Reds bring passion to life. What are my reds?

Brown. Death brown. Loosed from home, its heart falls gently toward Mama Earth while carrying with it what was.

©Lori Ziegelmeyer

#fall #lifepath #fallcolors