Last month, in my educational newsletter to my fellow oilers, I talked about the importance of spring cleaning, and I related it to the chemicals on our face. Women are exposed to a range of 150 and 500 chemicals, daily. Most of which we do not know the direct effects. A risk averse person might suggest that the average women is a chemical concoction away from disaster.
Societal norms, aside, maybe it’s time for women to take off their make up?
Societal norms, considered, what does it say when we wear make up every day? Men don’t, in our modern age. If we are going to a play, a night out on the town, both genders are generally expected to dress up a little, comb their hair, brush their teeth – societal hygienic and grooming standards. But, aside from a blip into metrosexuality (isn’t it all beards now?), only a woman is required to cover her face, in a painted on mask, to be considered put together.
Let’s take a pause. I actually love wearing make up. I enjoy the whole process. I equate it to art. I think it’s fascinating the shapes we highlight and create and the colors we play with, with paint for our skin. I even find that a powdered foundation keeps my oily skin feeling fresh, all day. Me and make up? Love it. (The more research-intensive part is finding toxic-free varieties.)
What I would like to link together, though, is this requirement that women put a mask on to look their best. It’s a direct implication that women do not look their best without new skin, new eyes, new cheeks, and new lips. Men can simply walk out of their house, and they are applauded for buttoning their shirts or not sagging in their pants. The expectation is different for women.
What does that continue to say about our society? Yesterday was Equal Pay Day for Women. Yesterday marks the day that white women begin to earn as much as their male counterparts in the workforce. If you add other aspects, such as being black, or Hispanic, their day is not yet here. What does it say, about our society?
It continues to reinforce the message that women cannot and will not be enough. It says that we don’t look the part, and we don’t deserve to play the part.
Clarification, I don’t choose to believe this. I feel that if we succumb to this victim mentality we allow the oppressors to win. And, I will not allow the oppressors to win. Everyone deserves a fair shake at this game called Life. Everyone deserves to be treated fairly, no matter what their skin or gender, or choice of make up. Instead of being a victim, I will, however, kindly challenge these micro-oppressions.
Women are not required to wear make up to look their best. Women are not required to wear a dress, or a pant suit, to be presentable. We, this generation and beyond, are shaking the old beliefs and creating our own, because the old beliefs, the old suit, it just doesn’t fit anymore.
I believe our job is to shake those suits that don’t fit anymore. Our job is to challenge these micro-oppressions when they are, again, layered as norms. Our job is to say, “No, that really isn’t how it is and couldn’t we consider it a different way.”
And, today, I’m saying that about make up. Not only is it generally quite toxic to our skin, it can mask who we really are. If we are to truly show up and change this world, we need to show up as we really are. So, please, take off your make up, and change the world.
Make up at work – from the abstract, “Although many women find pleasure in wearing makeup, the authors conclude that the institutional constraints imposed by the workplace effectively limit the possibilities for resistance.”
A few weeks ago, I ran out of lotion. I sort of despise going to the store to buy new personal care products. The labels confuse me. I don’t understand all the ingredients, what I need, why, what it’s good for. The longer and more chemically the name sounds, it raises more red flags than I care to admit.
So, my lotion ran out. But, I have sensitive skin that needs routine hydration. I have autoimmune issues that exacerbate that sensitive skin, so no matter how hot or cold or wet or dry it is outside, I need hydration for my skin.
What’s a girl to do? Well, not unlike my cooking, I went for whole ingredients. Herein lies the confusion, how do you make lotion? Why do you need certain ingredients.
Confession: I love to read and I love to research. But, if it’s not easily understood, then I pass. In college, I loved digesting complex ideas and trying to understand them. As my son has grown, and my family and I have settled into these roles, though, I find the more complex something is the more of a turn off it is.
So, when looking at a recipe, I found I want simple, easy to understand, just like my cooking desire of 5 ingredients or less.
Lotion added water. Body butter was straight plant fats, which meant simpler though there was a bit in the process. I opted for the body butter, because the whole thing felt simpler. Comparing some recipes, the ratio seemed to be 1 part plant oil to two parts plant butter, and for every 1 cup of body butter about 10 drops of essential oil. I decided on my amounts not unlike making soap. You figure out how much you want in an end product, and adjust accordingly. I figured 3 cups of finished product would be enough. And, I then proceeded to make about 4 cups! (Oops!)
Recipe & Technique
1 bowl filled with ice
1 bowl, smaller, to nest in iced bowl later
I crockpot for slow melting of fats
Container(s) for finished product
A stick blender for mixing
1 cup mango butter
1 cup shea butter
1 cup coconut oil (counting as a butter because of consistency)
A few shavings of coconut butter
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup jojoba oil
10 drops clary sage
10 drops geranium
10 drops lavender
I found this didn’t scent my body butter as much as I wanted. Next time, I’ll up the geranium and lavender to 15 or 20 drops each. And, next time, I’ll maybe have ⅔ cup each of the mango and shea butters and coconut oil.
Add all plant butters and oils (except essential oils) to your crockpot. Put on low, and let sit until all oils are melted. One blogger noted that letting her oils melt together for 20 minutes refined them enough that the finished product wasn’t grainy. I forgot about my crockpot for a bit, so my oils sat for nearly two hours. Note, many recipes instruct you to use a double boil method. I don’t like it. Something about the steam and hot bowls that turns me off. I found the crockpot method works best for my “fix it and forget it” world.
When the oils are sufficiently melted together, you now need to cool them. After they had been in the ice bath for about 5 minutes, I added my essential oils and I began mixing with my stick blender. I didn’t have enough ice, so while I was using my blender to mix up the oils, I noticed it wasn’t coming together as well as I liked. I refrigerated the mixture for about an hour. Some recipes skip the ice bath and say to refrigerate for 2 hours.
I compared the process to making a meringue or whipped cream. The oils cooling, the mixing to change the texture, it felt the same. So, that’s what I used as my guide to know when I was done. Once the oils were cool enough, whipping them up was quite fast. The yellow color quickly changed to the thick white you see pictured above. I made enough to fill that container plus another.
About the Essential Oils
The oil of clarity and vision, it gives courage to see the truth, see limiting beliefs, encourages openness to new ideas and perspectives. The body system affected by clary sage is largely the hormonal system, which is why it can help balance hormones and soothe monthly discomfort associated with menstrual cycles. Clary sage also soothes nervous tension and lightens mood. I chose it for this body butter because of it’s calming properties and how it is soothing to the skin.
The oil of love and trust. Need I say anymore? It seems so obvious to me that for something I am putting on my body, it should absolutely include proving love, trust, and emotional healing. Geranium can even encourage forgiveness, and it fosters human love and connection. Geranium primarily supports emotional balance and skin. With skin, it promotes clear, healthy skin. It can also helps calm nerves and lessen stress. And, as a bonus, it supports liver health! We like to say, with using essential oils there are side benefits.
Lavender is widely known for and used for its calming and relaxing qualities. But, did you know that it’s also the oil of communication? While it can soothe occasional skin irritations, helps skin recover quickly, and even ease muscle tension it can also promote emotional balance. It encourages positive emotions of open communication, being released, expressive with emotional honesty, and being heard.
One of my favorite ways to use essential oils is in the laundry. I like slathering my wool dryer balls with an oil of my choice. Not only do the dryer balls reduce drying time, but then I get an all-natural clean smell for my laundry – with therapeutic benefits.
Writing prompts are a godsend when one doesn’t want to divulge too much about their day-to-day, yet exercise the thought connections – words, texts, paragraphs, brain synopses, how it all flows together. I’ve used Plinky previously, but their topics don’t always resonate. So, happily, I checked out WordPress’s Daily Post, Writing Prompt, and yesterday, this is what I discover.
Every city and town contains people of different classes: rich, poor, and somewhere in between. What’s it like where you live? If it’s difficult for you to discern and describe the different types of classes in your locale, describe what it was like where you grew up — was it swimming pools and movie stars, industrial and working class, somewhere in between or something completely different (See more here.)
I followed a boy here, but he was just the catalyst. I had always dreamed about living in the Pacific Northwest. After watching Singles, I had this idea of perpetual fall – my favorite season – and if Michigan wasn’t doing it for me, then where else could I go? This boy afforded me the reason to move – we were in love. Well, the relationship didn’t last, but my love affair with Portland has.
I moved here in 2003. I was told I didn’t need a car because the bus service was amazing. I heard stories of a hippies paradise, and what I found was that I no longer had to argue about recycling. There were interesting things on every corner – Portlandia adorned a building that looks like a present, it rained blossoms in the springtime, there was art in the parks like Washington DC, and people even painted the streets to slow down traffic. The bus came, frequently, so I didn’t even own a car for the first 3 years I was here – relying on my feet, my seat (on a bike), the bus, or ZipCar (then FlexCar) to get me where I needed to go. I was in my twenties, and it was a dream. The independence I felt was triumphant, as I continued to go to school and work a full-time job, then about a mile from each place.
When I moved to Portland, I lived in three neighborhoods over the course of three years. I started in southeast, moved across the river to southwest (Corbett / Lair Hill), and finally have made North Portland my home, with my husband, who I met here.
In 2008, I started looking at my neighborhood in more depth. We had lived in Arbor Lodge since 2005, and in that short time, we saw many changes. The Yellow Line Max finished and started running, local favorite health store (New Seasons Markets) opened a store, and the development soured. The boy who brought me here liked to repeat that wherever MAX goes stores turn to gold. And the amount of development that continues to blossom is astonishing.
In 2008, when I was examining the changes in the neighborhood, the rose-colored glasses came off. No longer was I a 20-something who only cared about an organic garden and getting along with my housemates. Now, I was married with a baby. Now, our income reduced because of situations beyond our control. Now, we had to look at things in a leaner light. And, we were surprised. In 2008, we made less than half of the median family income for the area, and we qualified for many services offered in the social safety net. Our housing related costs were 70% of our family budget, well over the HUD recommended for a stable family. But, what could we do? We had a house with a garage and a yard. If we moved we’d be getting a slightly less expensive apartment. So, we stayed, and we got by, and things got better. We stayed in our walkable neighborhood, where we would frequent King Burrito and Walgreens. We stayed in our neighborhood where I could still take the 35 to work, and as our income increased, we started to get more interested in buying a house.
The shock we found. We assessed our income and figured we could afford a $150,000 in 2009. So, began our real estate search. 3 agents later and a month of flea bites to torture my sensitive legs, we decided that buying a house wasn’t in the cards for us. Clearly, we are being priced out of the market since staying on budget was so important to us. The only thing we could afford wouldn’t qualify for a loan!
We waited, and the market changed. Circumstances adjusted so that in 2012, we started our search again. We found a compatible agent who walked us through house after house after house, over the course of about 10 months. We cringed. We looked beyond our price range. And we bemoaned the low inventory. Finally, all the puzzle pieces fell into place, and we found a modest home with sturdy bones, without fleas, that was in our price range. We haggled, we negotiated, we inspected, and we waited. And, on the day before Thanksgiving, we closed on what is now our first house. I know we got a good value for our home, based on the market, the walkability, the neighborhood, and the type.
What I don’t get is why collectively, we let it all get out of hand. We have known we live on a fine line between making it and not making it. We try to plan and budget to make sure we stay on the “make it” side of the line, but like many American families, we’re only a few paychecks away from needing to go back to that social safety net if something bad were to happen. In fact, Kaiser Health News released a report documenting how close we are to being eligible for premium benefits compared to the federal property rate. And, I had thought that we’d been moving forward over the last few years! Now, it seems we’re taking a few steps backwards.
The pundits have talked, since Mitt ran for president, about the growing divide between haves and have nots, and it seems that Portland is one of those key examples of how that divide is working. After considering this writing prompt, I’ve been digging through the census data and collecting some things that have been percolating in my brain for the last few months. And, this is what I found out.
Oh! How Portland has changed over the years! In my first observation, I considered that I moved here in 2003, into the home of a friend who bought her house the year before with her husband. They live in a modest neighborhood, that in the 70s earned the nickname “Felony Flats”. Their modest, 1,200 square foot, 3 bedroom home, with a tiny backyard, and intriguing shared garage increased in value by 35% over the last 10 years. A 35% increase in value seems outrageous to me. The US Inflation Calculator figures that there is a 26% cumulative rise in inflation from 2003 to 2014. So, my friends’ home increased in value 10% over the rise in inflation. Our new home increased 82% from the value of the home in 2003 and the value of the home in 2014 – over 50% higher than the cumulative rise in inflation!
Thinking about housing prices, made me consider income and who holds the wealth in the city. I was able to find a comparison between 1999 and 2012. In 1999, it looks like the wealth was distributed in a fair bell curve, with a bulk of the city’s wealth being held in the middle. In looking at the 2012 data, though, it looks like it’s beginning to distribute up, as if we’re on the beginning of a J curve, giving the haves more resources than the have nots.
That is Portland in a nutshell. You have neighborhoods that appear primarily working class, but the desirability factor continues to price existing residents out. The incomes are distributing away from the lower and middle class towards the upper class. Housing affordability matches the higher incomes. Houses are being torn down and developed into McMansions. The sustainability factor of Portland is decreasing because all the kitschy amenities that make this place great are disappearing.
So, a day in the life of PDX is interesting, because it is in the midst of this change – and I, for one, am not sure where the change will lie when it’s all over.
Barbara Kingsolver talked about her coffee methods in Small Wonder. She and her husband indulge in this one non-local treat, but source their beans from a well-managed farm that focuses on shade grown beans. Prior to reading that some years ago, I never considered the sustainable factor of coffee.
I don’t know the particulars from each, but common themes include well-managed forests, fair wages, and farmer controlled prices. This isn’t necessarily found in all roasters – just themes I look for and note when I can find it.
My favorite, by far, though, is Peet’s. I enjoy the experience of walking into the store. I have a friend who has worked their longer than I’ve been choosing their beans. And, the coffee is fantastic. I started with their signature blends (Major Dickinson and Arabian Mocha Java), but as I tried more coffees my preferences have tightened to specific origins: Africa and the Americas. A kind barista suggested I have a sophisticated palette, yesterday, when I thanked him for giving me a chance to review the offerings.
I love my smooth, bold flavors that wake your mouth up with every sip. I love making the boldness creamy with half-and-half. I don’t mind drinking it black. I love the smell. I love the concept.
When I consider that I started drinking Folder’s Crystals, based on what my mother was drinking at the time, my indulgence has certainly turned into an investment. I sometimes feel guilty about that – comparing what we indulge in today versus other times – thinking that I’m bathing too much in a lap of luxury. But, my coffee is like other food. I want to make sure we are putting good quality into our bodies and the people who work really hard to get this product to us are paid and treated fairly.
So, I was thrilled, yesterday, when I walked into the store and saw the stand advertising their Panama Reserve. The storyboard explained that the family who produced these beans are dedicated to preserving the Rain Forests of Panama. By securing ownership of the land that buffers the rainforest, they protect the sensitive habitat there.
I continued walking around the counter to collect my drinks (one for me and one for Levi), and was pleased to see a resurrected brochure describing the Sustainability Initiatives Peet’s enacts. A recent initiative is ensuring their roasting is done in a Gold LEED certified building. One of the reasons I started drinking the coffee is their direct relationships with their farmers. And, I was surprised to learn about their targeted philanthropy that focuses on education, kids, and the grounds around coffee.
It oft surprises me the push back sustainability gets, because it’s not supposed to be something that takes away, in the end. What sustainability is trying to make sure is that we all have enough for us and for our children and for our children’s children. In this one brochure Peet’s captured that sentiment: take care of the families that produce the product, make a great product, and take care of the land that is important to the people and the product. Et, voilà, a sustainability plan that makes sense is born.
It’s my birthday, and I’m throwing a party! Okay, clarification, it was my birthday, but I’m still throwing a party. Come join me at the Lucky Lab Tap Room on Friday, September 13th. Join me and raise money for CAT!
Why do I want to raise money for CAT? What is CAT? CAT is The Community Alliance of Tenants, Oregon’s only renters’ rights organization. I’ve spent a lot of time there, over the last five years, because I firmly believe that societal change begins at home. And, that’s what CAT does – we empower renters to make sure they have safe, stable, and affordable homes.
It is our job to make sure we leave this world in a better place. I believe this world would be a better place if we could all realize our potential. I believe in Maslow’s Hierarchy of achieving self-actualization – our potential – but it starts with taking care of basic needs. And basic needs start with having enough to eat, enough to wear, and a safe home to call home.
I am celebrating my 35th year by raising $3,500 for this organization I love. And, I am celebrating at the Lucky Lab Tap Room. Don’t worry, if you don’t live in the area, there are plenty of ways to give! Donate to the organization I love, and help make my dream of raising $3,500 come true. Change starts at home. At CAT, we make good renters. Good renters make good communities, and good communities support one another to make our entire society better, more understanding, and more loving. At CAT, we make positive change a reality.
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet a local gal who is doing her own part to save the world. Aimee Fahey, local recruiter and blogger extraordinaire, has a series she does where she interviews those who enter her circle. Some she has known for some time. Some, she has recently met. All are given the same series of questions. All are inspiring. I am honored to be among these great green examples of how we make our paradigm shift into a more sustainable world.
Aimee – thanks for the opportunity to answer your thought-provoking questions!
As to my green pledge – here’s to another week of trying to get on the bus.
One good, tangible measure of sustainability is the triple bottom line. The idea that we find ways to and enact on measuring equity (people), environment (place), and economics (profit) in equilibrium. We take each, and if one is failing – if we don’t make enough money for example, then we consider that we haven’t achieved a sustainable mark over the time in which we are measuring these indicators.
So, how sustainable are we in 2013? We have surpassed predicted carbon emissions, indicating we are on a road for disaster in an ever-changing climate induced world. Our recession still has a strangle hold making it hard for families to get ahead. And, we have reports every day – it seems – about another company cutting corners in such a way that its workers suffer the most egregious abuses.
And, in the midst of that, while working in an organization undergoing its own transition and struggle with change – the obvious thought reveals itself in startling clarity – we don’t value people.
Sustainability argues that we must hold these things: people, place, profit in tandem. We must balance them equally lest the three-legged stool topple over for ever more. And, what I have realized for the better part of the last 7 years is that we value equity least of all in this triptych. We grasp onto the things we can measure easily. We can measure if we made our profit – or not. We can measure if we planted enough trees – or not. These are easy things in which to define success.
But, when it comes to people, the number of indicators to use grows exponentially. What do we measure? Do we measure wages? Do we measure healthcare? Do we measure access to healthcare? Do we measure … happiness? In a sense, I think it boils down to the latter. This ubiquitous, moving thing that is difficult for an economist to measure strictly against a black and white line… so instead of trying, as a society, we just don’t.
Then it rears its ugly head in contract negotiations, workplace equity, overall societal health. It impacts the never-ending challenge of balance between work and family life – because we chase the greasy buck instead of the success of the people earning the buck. It turns loyal people unloyal. It makes people seek autonomy elsewhere. It creates and fosters toxic work environments where blame is placed haphazardly, and instead of listening to the real problems – petulant children are blamed and then reinforced the excuse on why we don’t need to listen.
I had a birthday. I was shown love through many birthday wishes and some choice, VERY thoughtful gifts.
So, now I am officially 35. I’ve been saying it for like 6 months. But, now I can officially say it. I was told today it’s a rite of passage.
I’ve written about how I imagined 35 before. I started a fiction, maybe two years ago, as a means to process day to day things. Perhaps a phrase struck me in a conversation but I really wanted to anonymize the situation… so instead of saying something like “a person close to me” or “he” or “she”, I created little fictions. The fictions weren’t very good, thinking in full context, but they were a lot of fun to write. I could project. I could fantasize about what something would be like. I was able to tell a story … just for the sake of story. The hard part was making it coherent. I wrote in fragments, so I didn’t always remember what I said. I started keeping a simple log of timelines, but I still didn’t get all the details right. Then, there was the redundancy, so reading it all together it was… well… boring.
It was a much safer way to digest the work, the family, the club scenarios I couldn’t make sense of and had to process in order to understand. There was a picture floating around Pinterest the other day that said something like, “I don’t know what I think until I read what I write.”
So, what do I think right now? I think I’m a year older. I still like being in my 30s. It still feels young and adventurous, even though I don’t feel as adventurous these days. It feels full of potential and promise, while at the same time angst and frustration over not having accomplished anythign super significant. If you look at my life through a certain lens, you could argue that’s a bunk, silly, illogical thought. But, I’m thinking about it through the paid lens. I’m at a job without a title that means much. I’m at a payscale that fails to pay off my loans, productively. I’m maxed out with my roles trying to seek fulfillment bouncing between paid work, three volunteer roles, motherhood, and wifedom. It’s full, but it’s not wholly fulfilling because I crave more. So, that’s 35 for me.
Perhaps my 35-year-resolution should be to secure that role. Secure that place where I can get more fulfillment from fewer roles. So, what can go and what can’t go? Mother and wife are here to stay, so that’s a minimum of two roles. I love volunteering, but I splice my volunteering to get fulfillment for the things that matter to me: people (social change), food (food security/sustainability), and environmentalism (stewardship/sustainability). I amass skills that heighten my big picture awareness, but they don’t give me a lot of depth in a specialty. It makes it difficult applying for jobs that focus on a specialty – a specialty that I know a lot about but have difficulty explaining the required depth.
I have a new niece. My brother had surgery on his neck. We have a vacation booked in a few weeks. We fly, of course. So, what does that mean, but Airport Security.
I really hate airport security. I find it intrusive and ineffective. I’m sure someone who is obsessed with security, terrorism, and the like would show me several studies proving how all these measures really make us safer, but I don’t believe it.
The first time I remember airport security was when I was in high school. I had the opportunity to fly to D.C. with fellow classmates in a project called, “Project Close-Up.” It is a week peak at Washington D.C. for teenagers. You are assigned a 20-something Georgetwon grad student (or similar) who serves as your own personal tour guide: taking you to lobbyists, congress, the Smithsonian, teaching us how to use the Metro. It was amazing.
Getting there was even more exciting. It was April. 1995. We had a snowstorm the night before. We had to meet at a school an hour away to bus-pool with a few other schools to Detroit-Wayne County International Airport (DTW). We averaged 30 mph on the freeway. The bus drivers were talking in their radios how they didn’t get much sleep the night before. We slipped and slided, in a big yellow bus, all the way to the airport. My knuckles were white nearly the whole way there.
We arrived, with twenty minutes to check into our flight. We had 20 students and teachers in our class.We were rushed to the front of the line. We ran down the cooridor to airport security.
We were waved through. One gal had some metal piece stuck in her ski jacket, and they waved her on after three wand swipes!
Waved us by! That was 1995.
Six years later was, of course, 9/11/01.
In 2004, I flew back to Michigan for a quick 4-day weekend to celebrate my maternal grandfather’s 80th birthday. It was held at the Rock Township hall where most family celebrations were held. To expedite this trip, I needed to fly from Portland to Escanaba. The most cost-effective flight took me from Portland to Denver to Kansas City to Milwaukee finally to Escanaba.
The airport that had the most stringent airport security was both Escanaba and Kansas City. We flew a puddle jumper in and out of Escanaba. Escanaba is a town of 30,000. Kansas City was one of the slowest airports I had ever visited. I came up with a conclusion the day I questioned why Kansas City had airport security at evcry gate and I was rewarded with a pat down for my question. I learned that the smaller, more insignificant hte airport, the more airport security works to validate their job.
I often wonder how that makes us safer. I really don’t think it does.
I believe that knowing our neighbors makes us safer. That means, we need to interact with them, ask them to check our homes while we’re on vacation. We interact with them over fences and on front porches. We wave and smile while they walk by. We don’t have to know them intimately, but enough that they are no longer strangers.
How can we shrink our world so we feel more neighborly in the big airport full of strangers?