Posts Tagged ‘Natural Beauty’

7 Tips for Henna, Amla, and Morrocco Method Shampoos

For the past several weeks, I keep getting nudges to write about hair. Some clients have mentioned hair issues, and I’m sitting here with a mud pie of henna on my head, so here goes. Back in June 2009, I wrote a comprehensive post about all things henna, along with lots of information about natural hair care, hair nutrients and general tips for full, shiny hair. I wanted to reblog it, but over eight years later, I have too many updates for the little reblog box. You can read my original post here. In today’s post, I’ll just add additional things I’ve learned about henna and Morrocco Method over the years.

Please note that anything I say about henna refers only to body art quality, pure henna (Lawsonia) from a reputable source. Do be careful when experimenting with henna. Some companies add toxic ingredients to get all sorts of unnatural colors and effects, still calling their products “henna.”

To provide some background, though, yes, I henna my hair. I started back in 2006, because a mehendi artist told me that henna would tame the crazy, wild knots I used to get on the back of my head. Using henna did tame those knots, but it didn’t change my hair color Continue reading

Interview with Lyme Disease Survivor, Stylist and Blogger Catherine Grace O’Connell

Today’s post originally appeared on Sprout Art: Interviews with Creative People. When Catherine shared the link with me, I asked for and received permission to post the entire interview here to raise awareness with so many others dealing with Lyme Disease and other debilitating physical or emotional challenges. [Please note, this post shares the updated 5/20/2016 version of this interview.]

Catherine Grace O’Connell is an inspiration and one of the most beautiful people I know, inside and out. I can vouch for the severity of her struggles with Lyme Disease and the intensity of her journey. She has walked through the fire, the eye of the needle, and the Dark Night of the Soul, not only surviving to tell the tale, but shining and inspiring others.

I’m so pleased to be able to share this interview with my readers, because so many Chronic Lyme clients ask me if I know of people who’ve actually moved beyond their diagnosis and its myriad symptoms to lead the magical life I see waiting for them to claim. I have lots of incredible, yet confidential stories, which makes me all the happier that Catherine has decided to go public with her journey during Lyme Awareness Month.

A FaceBook comment introducing the link to Catherine’s interview shares what I know many who encounter her feel:

 

“This is an interview done with one of the most inspiring women I am proud to call a friend.

She nearly died from Lyme disease And has become one of my closest friends ~ meeting on Instagram. She’s someone I admire deeply and hope you will read her interview and if you feel so inclined, leave a comment too ~ here is my comment:

Catherine is one of the most compassionate, inspiring, generous, loving, kind women I know, and a leader of how to live with chronic illness. I’ve been so fortunate to get to know her personally and despite her own personal battle with Lyme (almost dying and daily seizures) and all that life has thrown at her ~ she is a beacon of light to me and so many others.

There are many physically beautiful people in the world. However, when you combine Catherine’s outward beauty with her inner spirit ~ which has such a glowingly beautiful aura ~ and her ability to, not only cope with immense adversity, BUT to triumph with great tenacity ~ AND SHARE all she has learned to help others ~~ you have one immensely powerful leader.

I’ve been fortunate to grow personally through following Catherine on Instagram and she has become one of my biggest cheerleaders. She has changed my thinking drastically and not only do I believe I will heal from this illness BUT I WILL TRIUMPH in a way that I never believed or knew would be possible.

I’m forever changed by her friendship and spirit. If you’re hurting and go to her Instagram page and just notice gorgeous photos of a beautiful woman ~ dig deeper! Read her quotes ~ read her writings ~ and one day soon, when she shares her full story on her own website you will understand and respect her all the more. I look forward to knowing her full story because from what she’s personally shared with me, in brief format, she has me immensely inspired and motivated to continue to live as passionately as I can WHILE I fight each day AND dream of fulfilling my bigger bucket list (of which I never had before) one day when I’m physically able to.

God has blessed me with a friendship with Catherine that has changed my life and I’m forever grateful to her.

She’s special and we are fortunate to have her inspiration to grow from!”

 

UPDATED 5/20/16 version below:

 

Interviews with Creative People

“I would hug that little girl and love her. I would let her know that she had it all right all along. She had all the answers within. And I would tell her to not be afraid and to go for it. Follow her dreams and to not look back. Trust. Trust in the Universe.”

– Catherine Grace O’Connell

Catherine Grace O’Connell
Personal Stylist, Lifestyle and Fashion Blogger, Lyme Disease Survivor
Instagram Website (to be launched within the next few weeks) Online Store: Witlee
Facebook: Light On Lyme

Catherine Grace O’Connell is a Personal Stylist, and a Lifestyle and Fashion Blogger originally from Lake Forest, Illinois on Chicago’s North Shore. She graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1983 with a double major in Economics and French studying International Finance and had every intention of going to third world countries and saving the world. Catherine went to work in Washington, DC on Capitol Hill for Senator Howard Baker while he was Majority Leader of the Senate. Following his retirement, she went on to work for Congressman Norman Lent before leaving Washington and returning to Chicago to work for a Swiss Bank Corporation in Marketing and Aon Corporation in Sales. Her time on the Hill was quite an exciting one with lunches in the White House Mess, visiting the oval office and a private meeting with Ron and Nancy Reagan at the President’s Dinner. It was a heady time for a sorority girl just out of college. Eventually, Catherine married and had two beautiful children, Maddie and Ryan, who are her pride and joy. Maddie is a 24 year old Actress who graduated from UCLA and lives in West Hollywood and Ryan is a talented musician, who is 22 and in his final year at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

 

To entertain her creative side, Catherine started an Interior Design Business while raising her children. She also began studying spirituality while going through some challenging times in her marriage. Eventually, Catherine left the marriage to start a new life in LA and to obtain her Masters in Spiritual Psychology. After a series of serious health issues, Catherine was diagnosed with late stage Lyme disease and almost lost her life to the illness just over a year ago. In her own words Catherine has come to know that: “Life threatening illness has a way of changing people at their very core and that is certainly my story as well which lead me to reigniting my passion and my purpose.” Read on to find out more about Catherine and her work.

 

Tell us about your work as a personal stylist and your journey so far.

 

This is a relatively new journey over the past few months beginning with this foray into the Instagram world. The reception that I have received has been overwhelming. I have to admit entering the blogging world in my mid fifties while most bloggers are closer to the age of my daughter initially felt a bit intimidating. I tend to be very creative and not very technological. I love playing around with patterns and colors. I believe that there aren’t any rules when it comes to fashion. My personal styling business is more about assisting women to see their inner beauty, what I often refer to is helping women to put on their “infit” before they put on their outfit. I love helping women to adopt a beautiful mindset. I have been on a deeply spiritual path for much of my life having overcome a great deal of adversity as have most women by the time of midlife. I practice yoga and meditation. I am also a Reiki Master Teacher and have been trained in many healing modalities. I bring a lot of spiritual inspiration into my personal styling and fashion blogging as it is truly my passion and purpose in life to inspire others along the way.

 

Was this always what you wanted to do or did it emerge over time?

 

I was a very sensitive young girl. I always knew that I was different in some way. My heart truly hurt seeing the disparity in the world and I wanted to make a difference.   I spent a lot of time volunteering growing up. I worked in old people homes and hospitals. Later in college, I volunteered tutoring women in prisons. I desperately wanted to help. My love of fashion was very much alive although I had little money to buy beautiful clothing. I remember my first pair of jeans were my brothers hand me downs. As soon as I was old enough to work, I began to earn money so that I could buy clothes. I worked in factories, delivering telephone books, bagging groceries, you name it and I did it. Soon enough, I would take a bus to the mall to work at Charles Stevens for the discount. Over time, I began working at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. I was offered a Management position at Neimans having been the number one saleperson. Yet the messages were so strong to get a “real job” and so, I went on to work in Washington and Swiss Bank to get on the career track as I was “supposed to do.” I had a real job at the cost of my passion as so many of us do in life. It took me another thirty years to reconnect with my passion.

 

What and who has helped you in the process of following your dream?

 

There’s an interesting story behind the beginning of this business. In the spring of 2015, I was still bedridden with Lyme disease. I spent a year with daily seizures, making walking extremely difficult. It had been the most difficult year of my life as my I dropped down to almost 100 pounds and my organs began shutting down. I went through a near death experience where I left my body and had to make a decision on whether or not to come back. Somehow, I made the decision to return, yet I didn’t understand why, as I was suffering immensely. One day, last spring while still bedridden, my daughter had a life changing conversation with me. She asked me what I would do if I were well. I told her that I would travel and write my story. I began creating bucket lists. Well, that soon became a fashion blog as I went online and began dreaming and scheming. I began visualizing. I began living in that space. And, I began healing. Quickly. And, before I knew it, I was off doing photo shoots. I had no idea what I was doing. It had been a very long time that I had been in front of a camera. I certainly didn’t know a thing about editing and I had never been on Instagram. I created an Instagram account. I pulled out my iphone and handed my camera to friends and family. Over time, I recruited a close friend who taught himself how to take photographs and how to use Lightroom and Photoshop. I invested in a really good camera and an expensive lens. I started reaching out to various brands that I loved and they responded. And, I began a personal styling business with an emphasis on helping women to connect with their inner beauty. For the first time in my life, I began doing things that made me happy.

 

What inspires you? 

 

Women of all ages inspire me. Women with a strong sense of self and a strong faith inspire me. Women who have overcome adversity inspire me the most. I consider myself to be very spiritual yet not religious. I am open to all faiths and belief systems. I tend to be very Buddhist by nature. I adore the Millenials and greatly admire their strength and dedication to protecting our environment. And women of midlife, or as I like to call it, Act II, my hats are off to all of you. To me, by the time most women have hit midlife they have had to overcome difficult challenges by turning within. It is those inner resources that are immensely powerful and to me that is what ultimately determines a woman’s strength and beauty.

What challenges have you encountered and how have you overcome them?

Like so many women my age, I have encountered many challenges throughout my life. I haven’t yet shared my story publicly. I was diagnosed with PTSD, having survived some pretty severe trauma and abuse. The details are not what is important. I have learned a great deal through this journey. As I have shared with the many friends that I have made within the Lyme community, I have received many blessings through this illness. I will be perfectly honest that the suffering with Lyme disease is absolutely beyond anything I could have ever imagined. Yet, it is almost a way of the Universe forcing you to turn within and to shine a light on those dark places inside of us. It has helped me to be even more empathetic and compassionate. To open my heart even more. It also helped to light a fire inside of me to ignite my passion and my purpose. I literally watched myself come alive through aligning with my true passion and truly believing in myself. It takes a lot of guts at the age of 54 to jump into the Instagram Fashion Blogging World.

 

What message are you trying to share with your work? 

 

The message at the core of everything that I do is to Believe in Yourself and to Love Yourself. Beauty is truly on the inside. I was always told that I was beautiful when I was growing up by not by my family. It didn’t matter how others saw me. What mattered was how I “felt”about myself.   The messages within my family were quite critical and so that was what I believed. Those messages literally affected me and my beliefs about myself. They changed me at my core. I didn’t understand that the messages had nothing to do with me. I took on other people’s projections as my own. I then married a man who was extremely abusive and I left the marriage in a million pieces. I had to take responsibility for my own empowerment. The most important thing for a woman is how she chooses to feel on the inside. Life responds from there. To me, that is what fashion is all about. Fashion instantly changes how a woman feels. When we change how we feel. We change how people respond and our life changes.

How did you learn to deal with criticism?

 

It is a continual learning process. What I have learned is that everyone is a mirror. In other words, when I am angry at someone, I need to look at myself. For example, this was a difficult week for me. I had a lot of emotion come up with a situation. I had to take responsibility for my anger and what was triggered inside of me. It is never about the other person. It always comes down to you. If someone criticizes you, and you react, then it is up to you to look within to see why you were triggered in the first place. As they teach on the spiritual path, if you are truly peaceful within, it isn’t possible for criticism to trigger you. So, the answer is always within. It is never outside of you. The journey truly never ends.

 

What is it that you love about living a creative life?

 

It is so interesting as people have always described me as a creative and I tended to discard that label. Now, I see that as so true. I was the child who was always rearranging her bedroom. What I find now is that even when I’m having a bad day with the Lyme, when I do a photo shoot, I’m in a different place. It instantly changes my energy. I’m happy, joyful and playful. With Lyme disease, I don’t get a lot of sleep. I can look tired with bags under my eyes and they seem to go away when we begin shooting. I tend to be very holistic and natural. I have found that reconnecting with your creativity instantly reawakens joy making you look beautiful.

 

 

 

What advice would you give to aspiring artists?

 

Don’t wait. It is truly never too late to get started. Your heart knows. Turn within and listen. Then just do it.

 

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back?

 

I would hug that little girl and love her. I would let her know that she had it all right all along. She had all the answers within. And I would tell her to not be afraid and to go for it. Follow her dreams and to not look back. Trust. Trust in the Universe.

 

What are you most excited for in the future?

 

I am excited that I have a future. Just over a year ago there was no future. The greatest challenge with a chronic illness is that it becomes a part of your being. The danger is that it becomes your story. I am consciously choosing each day to live in a new space and I’ll be honest, it’s not easy. To live in a place with hope and new beginnings is a conscious choice I am making each day. To live as “Catherinegraceo” and to hopefully inspire others along the way. I want to thank each and every one of my Followers on Instagram. You have no idea how much you and your comments inspire me. You all are truly the reason that I am here today.

CGO7

Catherine Grace O’Connell

Personal Stylist, Lifestyle and Fashion Blogger, Lyme Disease Survivor

Instagram
 Website (to be launched within the next few weeks)
 Online Store: Witlee
 Facebook: Light On Lyme

Fear or Flowers? Love in the Time of Transmutation

Pick a headline, any headline: WW3, worldwide famine, corporations poisoning all waters, Civil War, global financial collapse, global warming, global Ice Age, “mutually assured destruction” … you name it, we’ve got it. The question is, what do we intend to do with it?

I recently posted at the end of a gardening article: I truly believe all the challenges facing our world today offer opportunities to return to our Divine connection, spiritual tools and natural abilities. Faery tales — great repositories of truth — describe so many situations in which people with pure hearts receive even the most impossible gifts. People say with scorn, “Oh, that’s just a fairy tale, a myth,” in order to dismiss something as ridiculous. I could not disagree more. Our weakness, disconnection and “need” to struggle are the biggest lies ever told. Faery tales, folklore, ballads, and myths — real ones, not Disney — give us clues and wisdom for a return to more magical lives.

If you want to fill your imagination and creative capacity with disastrous details, symbols and images, then plenty of websites, newspapers and media options will help you do just that. If you want to distract yourself while remaining unconsciously committed to the slaughterhouse path, plenty of “reality” TV shows, smart phone app’s, fashion catalogs and gossip rags will help you do just that.

But what if you want to transmute the negativity into something positive? What if you want to imagine something preferable and supercharge your imaginings into form? I wrote an email to a friend this morning with the title “globally curious.” That email included the following excerpt:

I keep seeing this since 2013, but much more so in the past month — service to self and defiantly ignorant or defiantly abusive people are being given a chance to recognize what they’re doing and to choose to correct the mistake in this moment, with no consequences so long as they truly shift. It’s like the universe is saying, “It’s decision time. Are you SURE you want to go down that path? Are you SURE, because this decision really matters.” As in, the decision creates matter.

It always reminds me of the Hopi Prophecy that every living being will be given a choice before the Red Star Kachina, the purifier, comes. Of all the prophecies, that one seems most to be playing out right now. Those who return to the old ways will find Gaia magically transformed through great chaos, but they will be untouched by the chaos themselves. I just feel this happening, and I see it with clients, stories about their relationships, observe online at [various] sites, and even my David has witnessed some absurdly obvious versions of this at work. El Mundo Malo or El Mundo Bueno.

Which do you choose?

Here in Goshen, while we face an uncharacteristically brutal winter, we’ve got unexpected flowers inside. You can see them reaching towards the outside world — offering glimpses of color and beauty in an otherwise white, grey and frozen land:

flowering geraniums

Inside the curtains, we see lush green foliage and just the hint of those red flowers shining possibility to a barren world. We know the flowers exist, so those outside our faery haven receive even more brilliant flashes to remind them of what’s possible. Does anyone from the nearby apartments ever open their blinds to see those flowers? I don’t know, but for now … in the bleakest winter … those flowers will remain in that window offering an alternative:

geraniums

I saw this video on Rumor Mill News the other night, and I loved the video, as well as the comments, included below. Fear or Flowers? Love in the Time of Transmutation. All is possible when we remember who we are and allow love to empower our creations:

“With all the talk of war now, this post is very appropriate. Let’s remember who we are folks, we are all one.

~Jordon”

_______________________

Strangers Are Just Friends Who Haven’t Met Yet

“Touching Strangers, it’s the monograph taken by photographer Richard Renaldi (renaldi.com) that is slated to be released by the Aperture Foundation in Spring of 2014. In creating this work of art, Richard roamed the streets of New York City in search of random strangers that he would publicly bring together for intimate photos. As odd as this may sound, some of the end results revealed in this news story may truly amaze you… ”

“Many of you may have been already familiar with this news story or the work of Richard Renaldi as the video has been circulating the internet for over half a year now. I wanted to quickly share it now to share what parts of it truly stood out for me.

“In this world, especially I find in North America, so many of us have become so accustomed to becoming lost in our own world. We walk the streets of busy downtown cores or suburban shopping malls and we choose to isolate ourselves to our electronic devices or even more prominently the perpetual rush – the walk where any form of eye contact with a stranger is unwanted and desperately avoided. What I loved the most about the work of Richard Renaldi was that with each set of strangers that he brought together he directly challenged what so many of us define as comfortable. Even though many verbal and body cues initially showed a level of discomfort and/or nervousness for many involved, this not only quickly faded but never seemed to impact the genuineness of the captured picture.

“For me, this reminded me of the incredible interconnectedness that we all share with one another on the planet. I truly believe that as different as we may be, we all carry within us the ability to connect and be comfortable with even the most intimidating of “strangers.” Be sure to check out and stay posted to Richard’s website for more information on Touching Strangers once it is released. In the meantime be sure to share the video, which the news reporter summed up perfectly when he said,

…He shows us humanity as it could be, as most of us wish it would be, and as it was at least for this one fleeting moment in time. [Source]”

Another reader submitted this comment, with subject line, “This is so cool!”

“Hi, everyone, this is where we are actually going. I’ve been living in a neighborhood for over 3 years and have only met three people in the neighborhood. My next door neighbor and I share lawn mowing and snow duties. My other next door neighbor is rarely seen and even though I have cleared snow from his walk, in three years he has never done mine.

“This is the America most of experience in these times. If the SHTF tomorrow, we will either turn to each other or run the risk of perishing alone in our homes when the guy next door has a hydroponic farm in his basement that would feed everyone on the block. Get my drift?

“We have to travel in this direction (of making new friends often) even while recognizing that we are living the way the cabal have designed for us. And that should make us angry. Angry enough to shake hands with a stranger?

“Best regards, everyone
CapnGriff”

I know this world looks bleak to the logical mind, but what about to the human heart? What about to the artist’s inner eye? What about the potential for love and beauty? I had a dream the other week, and at the very end of the dream, someone handed me a lotus blossoming from the mud. As I accepted this lotus into my own hands the alarm beeped, anchoring that vision in my imagination. When I opened my eyes, I saw a pink rectangle of light hovering above my crystals — with no external source of that light. It lasted only a moment, but again, that rosy rectangle has anchored itself in my imagination as a window into a rosier world.

As Jon Rappoport reminds us:

“Many wonderful things can be done with logic. Don’t leave home without it. Don’t analyze information without it.

“But art and imagination are of another universe(s). They can deploy logic, but they can also invent in any direction without limit, and they can embrace contradiction. They can build worlds in which space and time and energy are quite different.

“Magic is nothing more and nothing less than imagination superseding this universe. Magic occurs when imagination takes this reality for a ride.”

Finding Beauty

Despite having a busy session load this week, I’ve spent an enormous amount of time overhauling our front yard into a lasagna garden with layers and layers of organic material, eventually to be topped with wood mulch. I’ve planted mums, transplanted marigolds from the backyard beds to more of a front display, uprooted tomato plants, and added compost galore. Today is garlic planting day, as well as another canned salsa adventure to use some of the tomatoes and massive haul of jalepeno’s. It’s a lot of work, but I enjoy the time, the creativity and the physical vigor.

In addition to “painting” our yard with color and prepping the Fall/Winter garden beds, I’ve taken to flower arranging. These bouquets turned out so pretty that I felt called to share them here. Gardens can be productive and beautiful!

Bouquet I made for David and me when I accidentally snapped off two zinnias gone wild. "Fixing" the problem became a delight.

Bouquet I made for David and me when I accidentally snapped off two zinnias gone wild. “Fixing” the problem became a delight.

A bouquet I made last night for David's mom.

A bouquet I made last night for David’s mom.

A different angle of David's mom's bouquet. It's actually a 360 display, with so many different colors and flower types, even herbs!

A different angle of David’s mom’s bouquet. It’s actually a 360 display, with so many different colors and flower types, even herbs!

Before I made the bouquet for his mom, David sent me the following picture with this quote: “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
– Marcel Proust

magnets-my-garden-kicks-ass

I had to smile, because, yeah … as much work and love as I put into it, my garden does. 😉 And I’m ever so grateful!

Beauty Inside and Out

Here are a few photos from today’s morning glory meditation. Although not pictured, we now have a new “color” of pure white ones, in addition to the surprising variety from previously uniform flower producing seeds.

Morning glories and jade

Green Man

Bird, Chandelier and Morning Glories

Morning glories from inside

The thing I love about morning glories is that they’re gorgeous, require little to no care, and they serve a “magickal plant” purpose. Traditionally, they are used to keep away “hostile” nocturnal faeries, but they are not the only flowers that keep away unwanted visitors. Regular, old companion planting suggests including yarrow and flowering herbs in the garden in order to attract “beneficials,” which act as predators of unwanted bugs like aphids and cucumber beetles. Beautiful, edible nasturtiums offer themselves as “trap crops,” luring aphids away from other plants, while sunflowers and purple coneflower (echinacea) attract birds, who also eat beetles and pest larvae.

We can learn a lot from Nature. “Protection” need not become ugly, aggressive or imposing. Beauty heals, both inside and out, and we can transform an ugly, aggressive, imposing world by inviting and cultivating beauty.

So paint that wall with something lovely. Hang a gorgeous piece of art. Plant those flowers, and decorate your home. Go ahead: accessorize your outfit with healing crystals and protective gemstones. Nature shamelessly and wisely adorns herself, lifting the hearts, minds and spirits of those with eyes to see, noses to smell, ears to hear, mouths to taste and skin to feel.

How often humans forget to recognize themselves as part of Nature! You are beautiful. May that beauty spill out of you in all its glory.

Quick Reviews and Updates

Over the past year, I’ve stumbled upon some terrific products that deserve some mention here. Today’s post offers a hodge podge of updates and quick reviews of things I use, read and love. I’m not affiliated with any of these books or products in any way other than enjoying them for myself. Just sharing what I’ve found …

Uncle Harry’s Tooth Powders and Toothpaste

I love, love, love Uncle Harry’s! So much, in fact, that I got Bonne Sante to start carrying their line in Hyde Park. Warning: the flavors and textures are different than typical pastes. Some people find these too intense, but they work well for me. I especially like the Toothpowder for Sensitive Teeth if I’ve been grinding. Yes, sometimes I do grind, but Uncle Harry takes away the pain!

For everyday use I love the Miracle Alkaline Toothpaste in peppermint flavor. It’s messy. I’m not sure why, but it is … however, it gets my teeth so clean and strong that my dentist started recommending it to her patients. She even made me bring in the little glass container so she could inspect the ingredients herself. She could not believe that my teeth stayed this hard without flouride.

I also love Ascended Health oral care products, but Uncle Harry’s are much easier on the wallet. When I’ve suggested $50 toothpastes to clients they always ask for an alternative. I love the vibe, the superfoods and the Lemurian crystals in Ascended Health, but I’ve also been very happy with Uncle Harry’s at 1/5-1/10 the cost.

Sumbody Mineral Makeup and Lip Tint
Cassie Margraf turned me onto this company before I left California. They offer an extremely natural line of scrumptious bath potions, lotions and pure mineral makeup. (Their products are not entirely vegan, so check individual items for beeswax or goat milk if you want to avoid those.) I don’t wear a lot of makeup, but I like the slight UVA/UVB skin protection from some of the minerals. My fair skin stays softer and less freckled if I use a slight dust of minerals on it before going outside.

My favorite thing in the Sumbody line is actually their First Kiss Lip Tint. It has a yummy flavor, which I can’t quite place, and it goes on so sheer you almost don’t see it, providing non-gloppy lip moisture for hours. (A note for strict vegans, I discovered after purchase that the lip tint does contain a small amount of beeswax, although this little pot has already lasted me eight months with about 1/3 left to spare.)

Cleansing

I decided to do a month-long cleanse in July. I’ve tried many methods before, including juice feasting, colonics and other packaged cleanses, but when I want a system overhaul, I tend to go for Dr. Natura’s Colonix. This time I also added Toxinout, for extra liver cleansing.

Even though I eat a relatively clean, mostly raw diet free of animal products (except for the occasional touch of raw honey in a raw food treat), I find my body responds well to regular cleansing. With all the changes in my life since New Year’s Eve, it felt like the right time. (Many of you know I filed for divorce on December 31, 2009, relocated to Chicago, started a door/portal painting journey and new life, and as of July 1, 2010, I am officially divorced. “Out with the old to make room for the new” works on all levels.)

Dr. Natura’s Colonix is not raw, but it does get rid of parasites and old intestinal crud. I have taken this cleanse before with, um, dramatic results. Without getting graphic, let’s just say that I know this stuff works well. A lot of my clients have taken it for two to three months and noticed major lifts in mood, weight loss, more creativity, and a greater sense of clarity and peace. I like this product because it does not require fasting or even a raw food diet, and people find it gentle enough for everyday use. Many of my clients travel for work, and they cannot afford “the runs” or other issues associated with colon cleansing.

I also like that Colonix provides a strong defense against parasites. Most people don’t realize that when we have parasites (and pretty much everyone does!), these little beasties have their own agendas and energy. Sometimes irrational fears, anger, aggression or other “personality traits” are really “parasite traits.” For example, I have found that pin worms resonate with anxiety (especially about finances). Round worms resonate with negativity, anger and aggression, while Candida resonates with “victim,” especially the kind of victim who feels walked on by everyone else. I often recognize Candida overgrowth just by the corresponding “poor me” mentality. Removing such unwanted guests can bring back our natural, joyful state. Other people notice relief from skin conditions, back aches and/or chronic illness.

Some raw foodists want to know why I choose Dr. Natura over the Ejuva cleanse. For me, the main factor is price. Dr. Natura is quite reasonable, and it gets the job done. I don’t have any major health crises where I feel I need to invest in the extra, extra effective cleansing of the Ejuva. If I did, I would likely give it a try, though, and I’ve had clients and friends heal themselves of severe digestive and other issues with Ejuva.

VOC-free paint

Those of you who’ve followed my portal painting know that after door number 4, I switched from primarily acrylics to VOC-free wall paint. I found the fumes from acrylics bothered me when painting such large surface areas.

My local Ace Hardware offers a Natura line with hundreds of gorgeous, vibrant colors that they will custom blend. Having access to these transformed my painting process and allowed me to color the backgrounds of the doors without suffocating myself! Because the paints are water based, clean up is very easy–just rinse under warm water. I highly, highly recommend the Natura brand for anyone painting walls, doors or furniture. I have a small apartment and for about 6 weeks there, I was painting for 8 or more hours per day. Once I switched to the VOC-free Natura line for large surface areas, I experienced zero side effects from fumes.

Ecstatic Beings

“144,000 ways to eternal ecstatic bliss”: the subtitle promises a lot from Shazzie and Kate Magic. As a Lazy Raw Foodist, I’ve not counted to 144,000, but the book does provide a ton of health, vibe and bliss-raising tips from recipes to kundalini yoga to poetry to numerology and doorways. How can a portal painter not appreciate a book that actually lists doorways to bliss? (page 106)

Brilliantly colored and full of love, this magazine-style book shares the kooky, awareness-opening consciousness and humor that are trademark Shazzie and Kate. Some parts may shock the squeamish or easily offended. In fact, I heard some UK book stores had banned Ecstatic Beings, which just makes me giggle. How can anyone ban an ecstatic being? I love this book because it pushes boundaries, goes beyond the normal and acceptable and encourages readers to do the same.

You don’t need to take urine therapy (111-113) in order to benefit from reading Ecstatic Beings. You can simply choose to celebrate the Revolution holidays they list (pages 104-5), or learn new vocabulary words like “Braw: A raw person with a big ego who takes themselves too seriously and puts their own success above the realvolution.”

“It’s a funny thing about life. If you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.” –Somerset Maugham

Kate and Shazzie not only quote Somerset Maugham, but they offer tools to “build your own ecstatic bliss bubble,” helping readers to imagine beyond what they used to imagine, expecting and bringing in better and better bests. As a Life Coach and Medical Intuitive who practices “Reiki for Rockstars” (pages 42-3), I wholeheartedly approve of “cacalchemists” (people who “create alchemical delights using cacao”) and Visionaries in Paradise (people “committed to creating their own reality in the guise of heaven on earth.”) If you love these things or think you might, you will find Ecstatic Beings a strange and delightful read.

Interview with Sarma Melngailis

I have long wanted to interview Sarma for this blog, because she’s a woman of fascinating contradictions, multi-talents and beauty. Plus, she makes some seriously awesome raw food! Really, those Rosemary Quackers are unbelievable. 🙂 Sarma has received quite a bit of press for her restaurant, online shop and books, but I wanted this interview to show a side of her that not everyone gets to see. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as we did!

Sarma Photo

1. You’ve got a new book that just came out. For those of us who loved Raw Food, Real World, please share a bit about how your new one’s similar and how it differs.

It’s called Living Raw Food and like the first book it’s full of recipes from my restaurant Pure Food and Wine, but this time they’re divided in two sections: easier recipes that don’t require much soaking time or dehydration, and more ambitious recipes that require a bit more planning. The text around the recipes in Raw Food Real World was from a beginner’s perspective. My co-author and I described how we felt after our overnight transition from eating absolutely everything to eating only (or, mostly only) raw plant foods. Now this book is written just by me, and it’s more about what it’s been like for me after five years on mostly raw. I also really wanted to address some of the more common questions I’ve been asked over the years, which includes issues related to emotional detox and people’s struggle to “stick with it”. There are also lots of short essays about various ingredients and an essay on feeding your pets raw.

2. Your restaurant gets rave reviews from around the world. Please share some of your favorite moments of recognition.

Hmmm. It’s not that often that I get asked to gloat but this is fun! Domestically, I’ve always been really proud of our listing as a three-star restaurant in Forbes magazine’s list of All Star New York Eateries, every year since we’ve opened. It always makes me really happy when we’re recognized for our food and not just in a vegetarian category.

Internationally, we’ve always gotten tons of coverage from Japan more than anywhere else. I think they are very in tune with what’s new and perceived as “cutting edge” over here, and also experiencing a big movement towards organic and healthy living. Also, Japanese food has similarities with our food in that it’s very much about aesthetics, natural flavors, and respect for the ingredients. Japanese food (like raw food) is very restrained in comparison to often heavy or sloppy American or other foods.

What other favorite moments… OKAY, since my father is from Latvia, I was totally excited when the magazine with the biggest circulation in Latvia, Sestdiena (which translates as “Saturday”) put me on their cover. That was pretty cool. International press is great because so many people from all over the world are always traveling through New York, and we also ship One Lucky Duck orders internationally now.

3. So many people know you as the author of Raw Food, Real World and the owner of Pure Food and Wine, but you also have an online store called One Lucky Duck. I haven’t made it out to NYC yet, but I sure love the Duck. For those readers not aware of your company, please share some of the vision behind this little gem.

One Lucky Duck is a brand I created for our packaged snack line and ingredients and also for our online store (http://oneluckyduck.com). Launched in 2005, it’s a source for the best of everything raw and organic. I felt like there was a need for a fun, colorful, reliable source that didn’t carry an overwhelming selection of products, only the very best that we find in every category. We carry a whole line of our own packaged cookies and snacks, ingredients and supplements in a section called “eat”.

Then we also have “glow” for skincare and cosmetics, “read” for books and magazines, “wear” for apparel, and “nest” for kitchen tools, home products, exercise tools, and pet products. The website is a lot of fun—we just updated it to add more informational sections and my blog.

4. You have an unusual tattoo. Is there an interesting story behind that?

Thanks. It’s the One Lucky Duck logo (registered and trademarked, by the way!) I got it just before the online business launched in the summer of 2005. As soon as the logo was completed and confirmed, I realized it was the tattoo I’d been waiting for. For years and years I’d wanted to get a tattoo but really didn’t want to get just anything. So I was waiting for the right image and this was it. I like the idea of branding myself with the brand of the company.

5. Tell me about your famous sneaker collection.

Oh dear. This is a bit embarrassing. Over the years I’ve collected a lot of sneakers. I purposely avoid going into or looking in windows of sneaker shops, but sometimes I can’t avoid it and see something new or a color I don’t have. Right now, I have 39 pairs of Pumas. I don’t know how they all fit in my apartment b/c it’s not very big but they’re stashed in the backs of closets and up on shelves. I also have 3 pairs of Pro-Keds, 2 Adidas, 3 pairs of Vans, a few Converse, and a few boring old running sneakers. I just have a thing for old-school style sneakers (and all of these collected over many years! I haven’t bought any new sneakers in at least a year… I think.) I only have a few pairs of high heeled shoes and I wear high heels maybe two or three times a year.

6. You’re widely recognized as one of the most gorgeous raw foodists. What are your favorite beauty products?

Oh… thanks! Well, I love coconut butter. That’s one of my all time favorites because it has so many uses – body oil, face oil, make-up remover, shaving, lip balm, and then you can put some in shakes too because it’s so yummy. Speaking of yummy, Bee Yummy Skin Food is another favorite product. It’s amazing for everyone and really healing for burns and any irritated condition. I think it’s also great to keep skin clear—it’s not a heavy cream. And for cosmetics, RMS Beauty is made by my good friend and is outstanding. The concealer is the best, and I love the luminizer too—it’s shimmery and makes you glowy. Those are my all time favorites. And lately I’ve been using Dr. Alkaitis products (cleanser, eye cream, etc)—they’re amazing.

7. You once sported a blue Mohawk. Care to share anything about those days? What has inspired your various style shifts?

Oh yes. Well, when I was 12 years old I started cutting my hair shorter and shorter. Then coloring it orange, then it got brighter—like Ronald McDonald bright—then it went to blue, then green, and back to mostly blue and so it went until I was 15 when I finally grew it out and dyed it brown (which then shifted to my current blonde over the years). I think I just liked being different, and at that age I could get away with it. During that time I worked at a quirky frame store and art gallery, where I could also get away with it.

8. You receive a lot of emails from young women with eating disorders. What tips can you share here for anyone struggling with body image issues?

I always say to them, go easy on yourself! Better yet, forgive yourself! It’s okay. It’s funny? Okay, it’s not always funny, not at all. But I think if you can try to see it that way, then at least some of the pressure is lifted, and it’s the pressure that’s causing all the trouble. The saddest thing is to feel terrible, guilty, and alone over those sorts of issues. And I think feeling really bad about these sorts of struggles only exacerbates the whole thing.

Breathing in and out and focusing on being compassionate with your self no matter what’s going on is helpful. Also, trying to shift thinking towards being optimally healthy (vs. optimally skinny, etc.) can provide the right kind of inspiration, and that’s how raw food can help because it shifts your focus onto food as nourishment and fuel and eating optimally healthy foods (which are also optimally healthy for the planet).

I read an excerpt from Frank Bruni’s upcoming book—he’s been the New York Times restaurant critic for over five years, and turns out he was bulimic throughout high school and college. You don’t often hear about men having these sorts of struggles. So, it’s not as unusual as people think. Overall the issue of body image is a tough one. Everyone’s their own worst critic, and feeling crappy about that stuff doesn’t do anything to help at all.

9. In addition to being One Lucky Duck, you’re also “One Smart Cookie” with a surprising history in … investment banking? How did you know it was time to take a leap of faith into something different?

After college I came to New York and worked for Bear, Stearns. After two years of many 100-hour plus weeks of working, I moved to private equity. I still worked my ass off there, but it was more interesting. Finally, I wanted more of a life and more control and figured at a hedge fund I could have that—where the work is not deal-oriented but rather market-oriented and so didn’t require late nights and weekends. I thought I’d be happy then.

Instead, having more time only made it really obvious to me that I simply didn’t love what I was doing and very often felt out of place in that environment. I didn’t get excited about reading The Wall Street Journal and talking about deals. But I loved reading Gourmet and Food and Wine and loved talking about restaurants and food. When I was leaving private equity to go look for work at a hedge fund, one of my colleagues pointed out to me that I didn’t seem to love what I do, since I always talked about food and restaurants. I think that’s when I realized inside that I needed to leave finance, though it didn’t happen until almost a year into my next job.

10. You run a busy restaurant and online store with over 70 employees in total, have written two books, you represent your own brand to the press and public, you’re in a relationship, and you’re doing all of this under some challenging circumstances. I also know you’ve got a huge heart. How do you manage to keep it all together?

I don’t always keep it all together! Or, I just haven’t figured it out yet. The restaurant and oneluckyduck.com stay together and running because so many amazing people work there and I’m lucky that they’re so dedicated. I’m usually able to keep myself together because I’m inspired by them and inspired by all the people who come to the restaurant and juice bar, and visit the website and read the books.

Still, sometimes I let myself fall apart. Or, I hit some kind of burnout threshold and then just really don’t want to get out from under the covers. I used to beat myself up over this, or try to avoid it. Now it’s much better if I can accept that it doesn’t mean I’m a total failure if I feel that way now and then, and just go with it!

11. What’s your very favorite “New York Moment”?

I think it was actually the very first day I lived in New York in the summer of 1994. I’ll never forget the feeling standing on the street on Second Avenue and 10th street holding the keys to the little studio apartment I was renting. I was out of college and my father just rode off after having helped move me in. I felt this incredibly exhilarated feeling, all on my own, in New York City, where I’d barely spent any time before, living alone in my own place for the first time—completely independent. So I’m in this euphoric mood, and I turn to walk down the block and there’s Robert DeNiro, just standing there talking to someone. And he looks right at me and I look right back. Of all the people to see in New York City on your first day there… !

12) Please tell us a bit about your furry friends, Dallas and Sydney.

Sarma's Feline Friends

Sarma's Feline Friends

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I have two cats, Sydney and her brother Dallas. They’re from the same litter even though they look very different. I got them from someone’s house near where my mother lives in New Hampshire, so I met their mom and other siblings. They’re over eleven years old now.

After I switched to raw food six years ago I started thinking more about what I was feeding them and what their ideal and natural diet should be. After looking into it I started feeding them raw food and they’re amazing on it. I haven’t brought them to the vet since and they’re beautiful, energetic companions. The food I get them is raw organic chicken and vegetables and it comes frozen. I also give them dehydrated wild salmon treats which they go totally bonkers over. We carry them at oneluckyduck.com. They come for dogs too but they’re the same thing, just a bigger size. I’m working on spinning off the pets section of oneluckyduck into its own site, shinyhappypets.com, so that’s one of the projects in the works.

Too Cute!

13. I’m so excited by your work! If Sarma had Sarma’s way, what else would we see from you in the near future?

A LOT! There’s a lot I want to do. Feeling held back from being able to charge forward to make it happen has been really challenging. I’m looking for the right partnerships and funding, which takes time. It’s like finding the right person to father your children… you don’t want to do that with just anyone. It’s been a long and very interesting road, but I really want to do it all the right way. Bringing raw food (and natural living) into the mainstream in a very big (and fun) way is the goal, and there are a lot of really great and different ways I want to do that, and in different parts of the world. And one of these days, I want to take a real vacation!

Thanks so much, Sarma! Wishing you the grandest of blessings and synchronicities and that all-elusive vacation.

You can visit Sarma at http://oneluckyduck.com or Pure Food & Wine.

Interviewed by Laura Bruno of www.internationalrenaissancecoaching.com. If you liked this interview, you might also enjoy ones with Cassie Margraf and Tania Marie.