Ladies, Take Off Your Makeup

March 2011, driving to the UP, sporting a rocking red drugstore lipstick. It pretty much only looks this awesome when you put it on.

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.

More to consider

Men like women to wear less makeup? No, they don’t

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.”

We Need to Stop Making Assumptions About Why Women Wear Make-Up — Here’s Why – “At some point – probably high school – I believed that learning how to ‘put my face together’ felt like a necessary right of passage because I am a woman.”

Make Your Own Body Butter

Body-Butter 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

Materials

  • 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

Ingredients

Butters

  • 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

Oils

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup jojoba oil

Essential Oils

  • 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.

Process

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

Clary Sage

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.

Geranium

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

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.

Setting the day up for success

I am not consistent with diffusing in the early hours to set the tone of my house. But, I’d be remiss to leave the house without my trusty oils by my side. Essential oils have the power to support moods, whole body health, and sometimes they just smell good. So, over the last several months, I’ve gotten in the habit of using ClaryCalm (the women’s monthly blend) and Whisper (the women’s blend) with coconut oil as my deodorant. This fragrance, by fair, gets the most comments. A day doesn’t go by when I wear these two oils that someone asks, “What is that smell?” or, “What are you wearing?” It took me a long time to admit that it was me!

Which oil do you sport daily?

Using Oils Internally

One of my favorite ways for getting the benefits of any oil in me is through internal use. When I started using the oils, I added orange oil to my water. At the time, I was locked into an 8:30 am – 5 pm desk job. I was a main point of contact, so my mobility was limited. Colleagues would often walk to the nearest convenience store, and they would generously ask if they could get me anything. I routinely asked for something sweet, like a brownie.

Now, here’s the thing. We weren’t talking about a quality brownie. There was no richness. There was no delectable quality of cocoa and flours coming together to satisfy an intense chocolate craving. No, we are talking about the most replicable, boxed, processed thing in all its unhealthy glory.

And I would eat one, every single day. Every single day.

Until the oils were introduced. And I noticed my cravings weren’t calling out to me. My water tasted bright and uplifting, and I wasn’t relying on a sub par dessert to get me through my morning.

Here’s another great resource on using the oils internally.

A great summary of the benefits and some uses of Wild Orange.

Renewed Whole 30

Two full Whole 30 plans. The rest of the year was a loose 80/20 following, lowering our grain input, but not saying “no” to prohibited foods like Oreos when cravings arose.

What does this mean? When we focused on eating right, managing stress, and getting that nutrition right, our bodies shifted. We slept better, our hearts got right, our waists got thinner, and doctor visits were radiant.

Separately, during the 80/20 time, we noticed stress rise, then our waists got thicker, and movement got harder. So, another plan was in order. We attempted to do it during Lent, mocking last year identically. But, we didn’t. We enabled each other towards cravings. Until the husband had it with the tightening belt, and we started again on March 27. Frankly, it’s been a hard week. We’re hungry and relearning what we can eat.

The boy had a sleepover, so we cheated (completely against the rules) on Saturday with a compliant meal peppered with a very non-compliant Mimosa.

Today, we’re out of food and pay-day is tomorrow. So, I’m scrounging in the fridge to find enough food to stave off hunger. I purposefully used up our store-bought mayo a few months ago. Our protein source is down to a dozen boiled eggs or canned tuna. What’s a girl to do? No real mayo, no eggs… Google to the rescue and it gave me Jane’s Healthy Kitchen recipe. Having all the ingredients, I had to try it. I desired to make it Whole 30 compliant, so I withheld sweetener, but all I tasted was the apple cider vinegar. So, I added about a tablespoon of local honey to cut the acid.

My nutrition friend Leigh, crediting ATP Science, added, “the ACV will help manage the insulin response… so that’s a good addition. If you added turmeric in, the vegetable oil will convert to DHEA omega 3 like fish oil.” Definitely try for next time!

I am an emotional eater

We bought a coloring book that links to an app on my phone.
We bought a coloring book that links to an app on my phone.

When I started the Whole 30, I started it as an experiment with my body. I started it to see if there was any reactions to food that I could weed out. I didn’t start the Whole 30 to see how I used food to confront emotions. In the third week of the challenge – the second week of March – I had a terrible day, and then week, at work. And, in that week, my emotional eating was crystalized.

I had a bad day at work. One bad day turned into a terrible week. I’d like to get into the details, but it’s too personal and too close. I’ve gotten congratulations and compliments on this thread of personal posts, but previous emotional confessions have happened so long ago that there has been time for healing. That is, the emotional incident occurred so long ago that I’ve had time to make sense of the emotions, so sharing the feelings is cathartic and hopefully helpful to others with similar issues. While sharing my feelings on recent incidents could be cathartic and helpful, I’ve also found myself in situations where it became uncomfortable to discuss the thing that happened so recently. So, we’ll leave it at as a bad day that turned into a bad week.

The first bad day, when I came home, the only thing I wanted was a brownie. A rich, fudge, chocolatey brownie. But, I was doing the Whole 30. I was committed to the Whole 30, and sweets are strictly prohibited. There is no cheating, and there is no slipping. To the point you are not to eat fruit if you are craving sugar. So, I resisted.

It was painfully clear though (as if I hadn’t realized it before *hear the sarcasm*) that I am an emotional eater. I take comfort in comfort food when I don’t or cannot deal with whatever emotion surfaces.

I vented, in this instance, to my husband instead. Declaring loudly, “I am an emotional eater!”

So, I’ve known for a long time that I take comfort in comfort food, but it wasn’t until that moment that I knew that was a barrier for me in dealing with emotions. Realizing it, so clearly, because I committed to no cheating through Easter.

Emotions arose, and I could not cheat with a brownie. I had to figure out what was bothering me. It has taken me now maybe 6 weeks to figure out what really bothered me about that bad day and bad week. I figured it out without resorting to sweets to help, but I have not finished my end of the deal – I have not confronted those whose actions I found so offensive. So, I sit on the edge of artificial harmony because I’d rather not go for the jugular.

But, I have realized that I am an emotional eater. And, now this recognition brings choice – to succumb or to confront. And, I can do this, eyes wide open. And, I should thank the Whole 30 for helping to bring about that realization.

How do you deal with difficult emotions? Do you take comfort in rich, chocolatey brownies, or do you face the emotions head on?

More on youngin’ emotional identification

I did get this one of him, though
I did get this one of him, though

Using oils to help my son isn’t something new. I started applying them on me and Levi as soon as I got my first package.

What is surprising, though, is how often I use them in conjunction with helping him find emotion. He got in trouble, again, at school. Sure, part is the age, but part — why can’t he just remember?

Then, I have to consider. It’s taken me how long to learn to identify and name my emotions? And, he is only eight years old? I must give this young one at least a grain of salt.

This particular week, he had two days in a row where he was disrupting his class in some way. His teacher purposefully addresses the outcome that wasn’t met to incite a conversations with parents or care givers. She marks off the one of four student-learning-expectations that were not followed. Often, though, our darling son “cannot remember” what happened.

Levi has a very distinctive “flight” response when he doesn’t want to talk about a thing. He clams up. He freezes. And, he runs away. Usually, he runs to his room.

As he’s gotten older, Peter and I have gotten more stern about telling him to stop, come to us, and try to talk.

I have tried to articulate emotions – attempting to model by showing him through me, like this action makes me MAD. We sometimes try to name what we think he’s feeling, choosing a few different words to see if we land on something that resonates with him.

This particular time, those strategies weren’t working.

So, I went to my oils and grabbed Balance and Citrus Bliss. I told Levi to take his socks off, and we both sat on the living room floor. I grabbed his feet and I massaged a drop each of the oils on each foot. I talked, specifically, about something other than the bad behavior.

Within a few minutes, he started to open up, and he was able to remember that he talked out of turn in class.

I love this power of touch, this power of aroma, this power of these gifts of the Earth.

I will not be ashamed

Refusing to be photographed in Italy.
Refusing to be photographed in Italy.

We do what?

A photographer friend noted how common it was for her women clients to refuse photographs of themselves. They are too ashamed of how they look, so they erase themselves from their children’s lives for shame. What happens is that children, when as adults looking back, children then have no photographic keepsakes of their mothers. Their mothers have been erased from their lives.

I was horrified at the thought of my son looking back when he becomes a young man only to find no pictures of me or his father. Sure, we’re not model beautiful. Yes, we have our own identify issues, but to erase ourselves from our son’s life because of shame of how we look?

I was simply horrified.

Begrudgingly accepting I need to be in photos.
Begrudgingly accepting I need to be in photos.

Until that day, I had accepted that I needed to be in photographs. But, that need was limited to special occasions. At Levi’s birth. His birthday parties.

When I heard that anecdote years ago, now, I resolved to be in Levi’s photos unashamed.

I have tried to make a routine of taking little selflies whenever Levi and I do something. Maybe we’re getting coffee or playing in a park. Maybe I’ve taken him volunteering or brought him to a social justice something. Maybe we’re with friends.

On the coast with family.
On the coast with family.

I also take pictures of Levi and my husband, lest that stage be forgotten.

I always cringe looking at certain pictures. Criticizing myself for my looks. Continuing to be very uncomfortable while trying to be unashamed. I try suppress the shameful thoughts while I embrace the things I love: my son and my husband and the moments we share.

I am my son’s mother. My husband and I are his immediate role models. I want my son to be able to express his emotions. I want him to look back at his childhood with fondness. It takes a sense of courage I never considered.

It takes acceptance of where I am. I cannot figure out how to get more movement into my days. If I can’t get more movement into my days, and I eat a moderately healthy meal, and I know there are obstacles stacked in front of me, then I need to be somewhat okay with what I present.

I am not sharing this to say: do this. Rather, I am sharing this to capture this journey I am on. How I have faced hating how I look, being ashamed, facing the model I am to my son, and trying to assess how I want to show up in life.

I am trying to remember that I like it when I am truly cheerful, despite my (perceived) flaws. I am trying to remember that I like having even emotions so that I can be present to whatever situations arise.

I can’t be present when I am dwelling on things I cannot or am unwilling to change. So, I must face them with owning who I am and being unashamed about that person. I have a story, just like we all have a story. I am living my story, and it is unique to me. It is special for my family to share, and I have to be present for them. And, to be fully present, I will not be ashamed.

Cooling Relief of Peppermint

In addition to cooling, peppermint supports alertness, clear breathing, and can support healthy digestion.
In addition to cooling, peppermint supports alertness, clear breathing, and can support healthy digestion.
Sunday night, Levi went to bed warm. He had woken up even more congested in the morning, and now, compare to Saturday, he had lethargy added to his obvious symptoms. Bedtime came, and he didn’t even fuss.

However, 9pm rolled around and he came out of his room in a confused and delirious state! I had waited for this moment. The moment when my son finally got a fever.

Sure, he had a few mild fevers as a toddler, but so far nothing as a little boy. After we got him to calm down and stay seated (he had got up unsure of where to go, as if there was a fog over any lucid part of his awareness), I found the thermometer. 101.7! It barely took 10 seconds to figure it out!

So, now, empowered with my natural health care remedies, I grabbed my peppermint oil. Levi is accustomed to me slathering him with oils. We use InTune and Balance daily to keep him focused and help moderate moods. We have had mixed success, but he is always compliant and rarely complains.

I told him I was only going to put a drop on his forehead and on the back of his neck. I warned him his eyes might sting. I let him stay up and watch Pokémon, since this 9pm fever waking was to prevent any school attending for Monday.

Around 10pm, I checked his temperature again. 100.4. He was still ebbing in hotness. I applied more peppermint. I let him continue watching TV while I did whatever it is I construed as work.

Around 11pm, I checked his temperature again. He felt a smidge warmer, and sure enough he was. 100.6. I told him I was going to apply more peppermint. In the interim, he had complained twice of tummy troubles, so we had even brought out the DigestZen with immediate results. Now, time for another application of peppermint, he tells me, “I like that one (peppermint); it made my whole head cold.” I replied, “Good, it’s cooling.”

I had heard, I had read, and I had observed with other ailments of my own the cooling effect of peppermint. It was a joy to be able to have such control of an illness, in my home. I didn’t need to call the advice nurse. I just used my instincts and acted with the tools I’ve added.

Levi woke up Monday in a buoyant mood, at 9am. He was staying home to let the illness clear for 24 hours. But, his temp? It was 98.9. Later, we checked it again, and the thermometer read 98.0.

Thank you doTERRA. Thank you peppermint oil.

Learning Self-Acceptance

Levi and I pose for the Feb 7 cleanup.
Levi and I pose for the Feb 7 cleanup.

22 pounds, as of three weeks ago (3rd week of March). This is significant for a number of a reasons. I made some changes that I hadn’t previously considered in my diet. I added essential oils to my daily healthcare regimen. And, I am learning, with more awareness, to accept me for who I am.

My whole life, I have disliked my body image. I was never a size 2, and that’s mostly who I compared myself to. I come with baggage that puts me in a statistical category where body image is harder to deal with. A statistical category that says being overweight is more common. I come from central European genes where sturdy people seem to be the norm – with my Polish and Slovenian heritage – read, not a size 2.

Finally, at the age of 27-28, I was learning to love my body and appreciate its curves. I was okay with my D cup and, then, size 12-16 pant size. This change of heart is relevant because growing up, I hated that size. I only viewed it as fat, and I only compared it to the relatives, whom I loved, that also struggled with their weight.

Struggling with weight! What a concept. There is so much in our world, and that we judge each other on this outward appearance is disgusting and shallow. It’s horrifying to consider that we judge health based on someone’s size, and despite the “skinny” backlash when curvy women display themselves unabashadely, skinny isn’t always healthy and curvy isn’t always unhealthy.

Growing up with this stigma, though, that a size 2 is health, and anything over is not, and knowing I could never get back to a size 6, which I only saw during a growth-spurt at age 13 and 14, hung heavily for years, for decades.

I grew up and learned to accept myself in ways my teenage self never could, during my twenties. I started to care less what others thought of me, and I tried to pay attention more to how I showed up. I started to appreciate those hips and arms and other curves.

And, just as I was on the cusp of self-acceptance, I got pregnant. I got pregnant when I was in a new relationship, in a new house, with a new job, trying to finish school. Then, I never gave myself credit for the stress that induced.

Levi was born on time, but with learning to take care of a new family, I was not able to finish that school term. I gained 50 pounds while pregnant, and by my 6 week check-up, I had lost 40. What I didn’t consider was how awful I felt. I was shaking all the time. I couldn’t sleep. My eating was erratic. I was stressed trying to learn to manage everything within this new life: the new home, new husband, and new baby. I am slow, often, to identify what was wrong, and I had no idea an auto-immune disease was wreaking havoc on my body.

In September of 2007, I learned I my thyroid was hyper active, and I self-diagnosed with the help of a 60s nursing textbook that I have Grave’s Disease.

Shortening the timeline, I went from being on the cusp of self-acceptance to completely crashing with struggling to take care of my new son, my new husband, finishing my bachelor’s degree, and maintain a job. The job went away, with the argument the contract ran out. I never asked for help, so I never admitted to my boss how much I was struggling to balance it all.

After the hyper-thyroid diagnosis, more doctor visits, and the addition of medication, my squishy frame that had gotten closer to my pre-pregnancy weight but never as toned or fit as I was in the fall of 2005, the weight gain began. I gained anywhere between 10 and 20 pounds every time my medication changed – slowing down my thyroid, controlling symptoms, and otherwise mucking with body in the name of health. 3 years later, I finally got a paying job. And, again, the weight gain continued. Every time my job got more sedentary, I gained another 10-20 pounds.

Pre-pregnancy, I was 185 pounds. I was a size 14, most of the time, and I felt good even if I hated the weight.

August 2014, I clocked in, again, at 262 pounds, a size 24-26, a size I never wanted to be, hating my body every time I look in the mirror. Hating my body every time it’s uncomfortable to sit down. Hating my body every time it hurt to walk. Hating my body every time I felt passed over for some recognition. Every day, despite the cheery attitude I might have showcased, I was full of hate for myself.

I knew what the lesson was. But, I wasn’t learning it. The lesson is self-acceptance. The lesson is while not being a glutton, while trying to maintain health in the ways I can, that I need to learn to love these unsightly curves.

I have not learned this lesson. This is an ongoing lesson. This could be a lifetime lesson for me.

So, how can I do self-acceptance in a body I am conditioned to hate and have grown to hate with ebbs and flows of growing up to an adult woman dealing with the effects of an auto-immune disease?

First, I recognize, or try to remind myself that my husband doesn’t hate my body. Second, I try to appreciate or accept the things this body can and still does for me. Even though it was hard to walk, I could. Even though it was uncomfortable siting down, I managed. Even though… Mostly, I might find myself intervening if someone else says something about how they hate their own body. Usually it’s a woman, but sometimes it’s a man. No one is satisfied with how they look. We don’t often talk about how our minds work, it’s more about how our bums look in a pair of pants.

And, I really think we need to accept how our bums look, no matter what our conditioning has told us. Lesson: learning self-acceptance.