Women's Wisdom

My heart-opening glass of water.

I LOVE our friends. We don't get store-bought fruit cakes, re-gifted wines, or cheesy things with green felt lining on the bottom, we get incredible gifts- olive oil from a family farm in Torino, personally harvested chaga from Woodstock, hand-made smudge sticks from Mt. Shasta, rare fruits, coca leaves from Peru, stones/crystals from different places, and all manner of wonderful things from all over the Earth. And spring water. As in spring water collected from a spring. Who has had the opportunity and great blessing of drinking living water knows what a gift it is to consume. Actual spring water isn't a bottle of water that says "spring water" on its label. That water is treated and completely void of any and all traces of its original content if it was ever collected from a spring in the first place. So, if you've been drinking dead water your whole life and then have the chance to drink live, truly hydrating water from a spring (like I did a few years back from a spring in Maine when my friend brought us some in two 5 gallon jugs- Thank you Nalla!!! <3), that first sip is like an oceanic experience. It was so smooth and soft. It felt like velvet in my mouth and like oneness in my heart. I closed my eyes and felt connection to Pachamama and to Source. It took a moment to remember where I was. I held my glass of water as if I were holding a precious gem and I drank it deliberately and oh so ceremoniously. It was sublime. I was satiated like never before and didn't need water again until much later in the day.

A day later, still high from the experience, I sat in meditation and and my mind wandered to what in the WORLD else I was potentially missing from living a life of conformity and complacency. I began to get a real and more complete sense of why people like Daniel Vitalis began a website called www.findaspring.com and why people are choosy with their water, food, clothes, environment, etc etc etc. Before my experience with that glass of water, I thought why would ANYONE drive to a spring when they can get a decent bottle of water from the local Whole Foods. Then that "decent" water became not even close to good enough. It began to dawn on me why things like this were important. Why asking questions was important. Thus began my second round- so far in this lifetime- of unearthing some major truths.

Without asking questions, we miss being an active part of our own lives. It takes more work and creates discomfort sometimes, but isn't it worth taking matters into our own hands? Asking questions demands more from all of us... something, I understand, that is not for everyone. But I truly wish more of us would do it, for everyone's sake. After my water experience, my questions took me down another point of no return. I learned things I could never unlearn, nor would I want to. It is seemingly easier to live on automatic pilot and allow things to be chosen for me, but in the long and short run I am absolutely content being the author of my life or as much as I am allowed without beginning to hit some serious walls. Some call me a conspiracy theorist which is fine because I am the first to say that most truths nowadays do sound like an intricate plot for a bad movie: Murderous multi-national bio-tech company creates genetically modified bees that go mutant and wipe out the population of the earth in three days! Yes, Monsanto is now in the business of creating the frankenbees that can resist the chemicals and pesticides in their frankenfoods- the very frankenfoods that are wiping out the real bees and us.

Another friend of ours brought us a gallon of spring water this weekend and again I had some deep remembrances as I sipped. I felt again the very real truth that I am of the earth and that regardless of how strange life feels at times and how far we seem to have strayed from our original intent, everything is alright and everything comes from God (or Source, or Spirit, or whatever name you give it- if you even believe there is an IT). As I sip on it now, I recall the words of a very spiritual being that I heard earlier today: "Simplicity is divinity and divinity is simplicity." I gave some to my daughter so I can continue the legacy... so there will continue to be people on this Earth that know what truth tastes, smells, looks, sounds and feels like. And so that there will always be people to seek it out.

Aveda, Shmaveda.

I think I've used every possible beauty product out there- from makeup to hair care.  Here is what I have concluded... It's all garbage.

And here is a little bit of information some of you may not know.  Unused frozen cord blood from newborns goes into your Estee Lauder skin renewal creams. (and I'm sure some other companies I just don't particularly know which).  It's not widely known and they would like to keep it that way.  I actually just found out for myself a couple of years ago.  But it just goes to show you the integrity of the beauty business is less than remarkable.

I recently watched Chris Rock's documentary "Good Hair" and was baffled by the amount of money women with kinky hair spend on relaxers and weaves.  All this money spent just not to look like yourself.  It just seems so superfluous.  The first time I relaxed my hair I was 15 years old.  Something did not feel right to me when the lady demoing her product said to me "let me know if it starts to burn because we have to wash the product off IMMEDIATELY if not your scalp could blister and scab and your hair could all break off."  WHAT?!?  Chris Rock showed how a can of soda disintegrated into nothing in a matter of hours when left inside a bottle of relaxer mix.  And we're all okay with this.  ?!?

There are SO so so many chemicals in beauty products.  We've been conditioned not to question it or be concerned by it, even when you find out several known carcinogens are in your shampoo.  We've done okay with all of it so far, why bother... right?  I say, "wrong!"

After being in the beauty business for many, many years (a make up artist for MAC at a counter and at fashion shows and a hair dresser for many years as well) I've come to find out what is in conventional beauty products and it ain't pretty.  From crushed beetles, fish gills, highly toxic and abrasive chemicals (not to mention allergenic despite all the hypo-allergenic claims on labels) that could strip your floors, to newborn cord blood it's a wonder how more people are not aware of the exactly what they're putting on their bodies.  But again, we are conditioned to not ask questions.  I used to have a client in a salon I used to work at- she was a BEAUTIFUL, young college girl.  Everything was beautiful about her except her hair.  It was absolutely trashed.  It felt like straw and looked like burnt hay and as much as I suggested she not bleach her hair platinum blonde anymore, she insisted on keeping her hair as light blonde as was humanly possible.  She barely had any hair left on her scalp but whatever was left she wanted it to look like Pam Anderson.  So, I continued to oblige for as long as I could.  This was at the tail end of my career in the beauty business.  I had come to realize that there were people much more willing to damage people's hair/face/skin and put dangerous chemicals on them on a weekly or monthly basis.  My conscience couldn't take it anymore.

Years later when I began to miss the beauty biz, I began looking into working in a more natural salon.  I began doing research on Aveda salons and while Aveda talks a fantastic talk, it's just talk.  The only difference between Aveda and Pantene is that Aveda has cooler packaging and a marketing department that has convinced everyone that it's natural and sustainable.  It's not.  It may possibly donate some of its proceeds to the rainforest here and there as they claim but their ingredients are just as terrible as any conventional product out there.  Their hairsprays are just as much a plastic polymer as any other hairspray out there and their hair color is just as damaging to your scalp.  All-natural Aveda is simply good advertising and a public willing to accept it- no questions asked.

So years after all of these adventures in the beauty business, what is my beauty regimen?  (This is my favorite part!...)

FACE:  I only wear make up on very special occasions (and by makeup I mean mascara, eyeliner and lipstick) and I only buy  products that have a very small ingredient list- all of which I can pronounce and actually know what they are.  I clean my face with Dr. Bronner's Castille soap and tone with rosewater witch hazel.  I moisturize only if I need it with E3Live facial cream- completely free of anything grody.

BODY: I cleanse my body with Dr. Bronner's castille soap and moisturize only when I need it with MSM body lotion, Nubian Heritage's coconut and papaya lotion, coconut oil or PureLife's Monoi Oil.  And I feed myself good, clean, organic food.  For deodorant I use Living Libation's Poetic Pits and more recently Nourish's Fresh Stick deodorant made with ONLY certified organic ingredients that are truly pure and natural.

HAIR:  I shampoo with either Dr. Bronner's castille soap or baking soda and water and I condition with apple cider vinegar (1 tablespoon in 1 cup of water).  That's it!  And my hair is shiny and soft and- when I leave it curly- has beautifully formed curls!

There was a lot of trial and error getting to this beauty regimen.  When I went to change my shampoo and conditioner and tried some products that boasted being 100% natural like Morrocco Method and Nature's Paradise- and although finally and actually 100% natural- they left my hair feeling very oily and/or filmy.  I feel like they were trying too hard to have a glorious cocktail of all-natural ingredients that they missed the mark as well.  For myself, I have found that the simpler the better.

Next time you're in the shower, consider what you are putting on your head and what your skin is ingesting on a daily or weekly basis.  And if you have children, consider what is going into their new little sensitive bodies. Don't get me started on Johnson and Johnson's baby products.  Between them and Proctor & Gamble (which I call "Proctor & Gamble with your life"), I could go on an never-ending diatribe!

Be informed, not fooled!  True beauty is simpler than what society has made it out to be.