Working direct with local farmers, doTERRA sources it's Vetiver from some of the poorest areas of Haiti. Unlike other grasses, the root system of Vetiver grows downward, making it an ideal crop to prevent soil erosion and assist in soil stabilization.
And this unique growing system is also why Vetiver is the oil of descent. It helps you go deep and uncover the root of a deep seeded, emotional issue. Vetiver helps bring relief, but not through avoidance. It challenges ones need to escape and instead assists in a deep connection to the physical world and the emotional body. Vetiver is a key oil in fostering self awareness and aiding in recovery.
As Vetiver is the oil of grounding and depth, it is also a wonderful tool to help with sleep, making it deep and restful. But a little Vetiver goes a long way! One drop diffused with lavender while you sleep, one or two drops in a warm bath, or my personal favorite - rub a drop of oil on the bottoms of my big toes. (in reflexology, the big toe is the key to good sleep https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-21028/diy-foot-reflexology-for-your-best-sleep-ever.html)
But what makes doTERRA Vetiver so unique is the system of sourcing, known as Co-Impact Sourcing. Vetiver thrives in some of the poorest regions of Haiti, where soil is at its worst. But high quality oil is very labor intensive to produce, and the Vetiver roots take 16-18 months to mature. Not ideal for a impoverished family. The need for quick payment often means farmers will harvest the Vetiver before its ready, which can lead to sub-par product, which then leads to sub-par payout for the farmers. doTERRA has formed growers collectives on he ground in Haiti to not only provide training as to proper harvest practices, but to implement a favorable payment schedule and offer incentives for superior quality product. That in turn encourages more sustainable farming practices and provides a better quality of life for those who are struggling. (https://doterra.com/US/en/difference-co-impact-sourcing-vetiver-haiti). And as the consumer, we end up getting the best quality Vetiver possible.
So everyone benefits. Corporate Compassion...it can actually exist!
I was driving into work last week, and in front of me, an SUV was making a right hand turn. And for a moment, a split second really, the driver was distracted. Maybe she was fiddling with the radio, checking a text, or looking down at her GPS. Maybe there was no real reason, just a moment, like we all have, where she wasn't fully engaged in what she was doing. But in that moment, she didn't see the nanny pushing the double stroller across the intersection.
I stopped, everyone stopped.
Luckily, everyone walked away from the accident physically ok. A few bumps and bruises, a broken stroller, a dented bumper and a lot of tears, but they were all able to walk away. A miracle really.
But as I stood there, with my arm around the sobbing driver, as others comforted the frantic nanny who was trying to calm the terrified little girls (both the exact same age as my own daughter, who at that moment was probably on a walk with her own nanny) while she tried to reach their mothers, I knew no one was going to walk away from that moment unaffected. Their lives would never be the same. I was only a witness, and even now, a week later, my hands still shake a bit as I write this.
In this country, in this city, we make multi-tasking an art form. Read any job description, and I bet you will see "must be able to multi-task" somewhere in the job requirements. Why? Why must we all be masters of doing 20 different things all at once? When did care, and attention to detail become secondary to checking things off a list? And when we do 20 different things all at once, are we even doing any of them very well?
If we're being honest with ourselves, when was the last time you can say you were fully present in something you were doing? Driving to work? Doubtful. Playing with your children? Unfortunately probably not. In a yoga class? I bet not even then. Compare that to the last time you felt you did something really well. Not "well enough," but really and truly well. The truth is we're all living a distracted life. And it only takes a moment, one split second in time, where a distraction can turn tragic.
But can we really live a life where we're fully present in all things? Of course not, it's too much. "Living every moment as if it was your last" is fine advice, but it's awfully heavy. What pressure to put on ourselves! And it's just not practical in this world we live in, where multi-tasking is the norm.
But what if we made a commitment for 2 hours a day, every day, to be fully engaged in something we were doing? One hour can be spent on doing something we had to do, like finishing up a project at work, making dinner for our family or driving with our eyes on the road. And then another hour on something we were choosing to do? Going to the park with our kids, writing in a journal, enjoying a meal. Just 1 hour each where we don't check our phone or email, turn on the TV, or let our mind wander to the 10,000 other things we could probably be doing at that moment. Some days, this might be the easiest of tasks, other days it may seem impossible. But either way, whatever we're doing within those hours would be done well, with our fullest attention and deepest commitment. Plus, I think we would soon find that our life feels richer, time moves at a bit more of a manageable pace and each moment has a little more value to it.
Multi-tasking is a great skill, but even better, is living well.
(First, a disclaimer: this post has absolutely nothing to do with the novel or film. I don't even know what they're about, though I hear good things. Sorry if you're disappointed. I hope you'll still read on.)
After a heartfelt marital discussion, with complete sincerity, I remarked to my husband...
Maybe the reason things seem so overwhelming right now, is that Mercury is going into retrograde.
He rolled his eyes and smirked...
Yeah, or maybe it's because we killed all the unicorns.
He's a funny guy...a funny, cynical guy.
But seriously, when things seem too much, when we get overwhelmed, it really helps to be able to put that blame elsewhere, far outside the self, in order carry us through. And as yogis, we tend to give ourselves lots of options. Mercury always seems to be going into retrograde, doesn't it? What's up with that?! And don't even get me started on the perils of vata season! (I'm serious, don't...it can really f things up) And while the validity of these explanations is up for debate - as is, in my opinion at least, the terrible outcome of having killed all the unicorns - how do we remain levelheaded and clear seeing when things seem to be spiraling out of control around us?
It's hard to look at the state of the world and not feel distressed, but what about when the spiraling is all our own doing? When we take on too many responsibilities, too many commitments? Maybe we hate letting people down, or maybe our drive is driving us out of control. Or maybe we just love life and want to embrace all it has to offer. When we do it to ourselves, it's even more appealing to put the blame elsewhere. Not just on the change of seasons, or on poor misunderstood Mercury, but on our job, our parents, our children, our partner.
In those moments, we need to have the self awareness to step back, to exhale and ground down and connect to the earth, to something solid and constant. Yoga, meditation, hiking, a cup of tea - these are all means to access a moment of peace and perspective in a world spinning around us.
But let's be real, the demands aren't going to disappear just by acknowledging their true cause and taking a deep breath. There are always going to be pulls on our time - both welcome and not. There are always going to be commitments we either want to make or have to make. Life is going to continue, every blessed moment. So what we have to do, is be a little selfish.
Selfish...this word always gets a bad wrap and I'm not entirely sure why. Shouldn't we be concerned with the self? This is where we live, where we experience. Without the self, we simply aren't. I agree that too much attention is ill-advised, but isn't that the case with everything? The honest point is, we actually do need to put ourselves first. A bold statement perhaps, but what I mean is that we should always check in first with the self to see what it most truly wants and needs. And perhaps that will be to make a sacrifice for someone or something, to put someone else's needs above our own or choose some aspect of our life over another. But you have to make sure that is truly what you want and need to do. Because if it's not, then the commitment won't come from a solid, grounded place. And with no anchor, things will quickly begin to overwhelm. And there won't be anything Mercury can do to help.
So have a care for yourself, in the vata season and always. You are the most wondrous thing you will ever have the privilege to experience. Honor that.
Every night, before she goes to sleep, my daughter always counts her blessings. She'll lie in the darkened comfort of her room and say aloud all the things that she is grateful for. I listen over the monitor to her soft, sweet voice whispering over and over again "mama, daddy, baby, happy. mama, daddy, baby, happy...book, duck, ba-ba, moo, ball, meow, yucky, yummy..."
Ok, so maybe I'm projecting a bit. I mean she is only a year and a half, and she's most likely just practicing her words, lulling herself to sleep with the comfort and awe of knowing she can make sounds that actually mean something. But what are those first words if not a representation of the things that matter the most to us? When babies first start speaking, it's normally always some version of "mama" or "daddy," because that is our whole world. As that world grows, so does our vocabulary. We start learning the words for things that interest us the most or things we see everyday. We learn how to communicate the things we need and the things we want. And what are those if not the things we are the most grateful for?
There's been this recent trend I've noticed on social media - gratitude challenges. 100 Days of Happiness, 30 Days of Gratitude, etc, where we post a picture a day, or make a list of the things that make us the most happy. I love this practice not only because locking ourselves into a daily commitment to pause and see the opportunities for gratitude, (both the obvious and the unassuming), bring a lightness and joy to our own lives, but doing it via Facebook and Instagram allows us to share that light and joy with others. When I see friends' postings, it instantly lifts my heart, and inevitably, something I am grateful for in my own life comes to mind, and I smile.
When so much of what we read and see lately in the world brings such a darkness and sense of utter helplessness, it's these little moments of joy that bring me comfort. Because I realize that while I might not be able to fix the world's problems, I can fight the darkness in my own life by consciously basking in the light. And that lightness can come with every breath, if we only open our eyes to see it. Because though we may not get the chance to witness a spectacular sunset every day for 100 days (wouldn't that be amazing?) or have the time to catch up with an old friend over tea every afternoon for a month, we can find these moments in the subtle, perhaps even in the seemingly mundane...a long hot bath, a bowl of fresh cherries, taking a long deep breath.
So start your day with the wise words of Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, and always count your blessings. Because let's face it, we should all be grateful for great books, delicious things and warm milk.
This time of year has always been one of my favorites, because it is unlike any other. It's not the beginning of a new calendar year, or the start of a new season, and yet it's still a time of transition and possibilities. From that very first moment, at 5 or 6 years old, when we left behind all that was comfortable and familiar and walked through those wide double doors into a whole new world, this time of year has stayed with us. It's a time of new opportunities and experiences, of limitless potential and learning.
And the beauty is that we don't have to be a teacher or a student or even a parent to feel the power and harness the possibilities. We can tap into those ingrained memories of first days of school gone by and channel it into a driving force to bring change and growth into our adult lives. The summer heat is (eventually) dissipating and those cooling autumn winds are (again, eventually) coming to gently push us towards our goals. I feel it in my own life, this need to shake things up, to move out of my comfort zone and really go for it. Perhaps what "it" is exactly, is still developing, but I do know that "it" will be grand.
Because "it" can be anything. A quest for something enormous and life changing, like a new, more fulfilling career or an intense home improvement project. Or maybe its something slightly smaller scale, like a clean and ordered house or the recipe for the perfect pasta sauce (both of which I would consider life changing, for the record). It can be something tangible, like learning Spanish, or something more intangible, like cultivating patience. Maybe it's something specific, like "I really need a new car," or something obscure, like "I gotta get my life in order." Whatever "it" is, now is the time. Seize the moment, harness the power of the present and take a step. And then another...
The time to harvest is almost here. What will you be gathering?
Lots has been written about this "millennial" generation...they're lazy, they're impatient, they're entitled. Employers complain about them, parents lament about them and the public is generally terrified of what will happen when they take over. But a recent rash of articles in Forbes Magazine - yes Forbes! - has started people singing a different tune. Perhaps the millennials aren't to be feared, but welcomed with open arms.
Now the "millennial" generation, or generation Y, technically applies to those born from 1980-2000, of which I am, just barely I'll admit, a part of. It's a wartime generation. From Desert Storm to the never ending "War on Terror," our country has been at war for the vast majority of our adult lives. It's a technological generation. We've seen the first computers, the first cell phones, the first digital televisions, the list goes on and on. We are a globally connected generation. We can video chat with someone in Israel, while watching real time footage of what's happening in Syria and reading status updates of what's going on in Egypt. Thanks to social media, we know when a friend in Ukraine is feeling scared, we can get tipped off to a great new band from Iceland and we can watch a kitten playing in a paper bag in Tokyo.
The political ride hasn't been any less dynamic, whatever your political leanings may be. So far, millennials have been able to vote in 4 presidential elections. The first, in 2000, illuminated the cracks inherent in a system that actually gives very little credence to what the majority wants. And the 3rd in 2008 saw the election of the first black president in a country founded on the backs of slaves. Distrust in the government and the corporations who fund it is rampant, and the polarization within the government is staggering. While currently the "liberal agenda" is being pushed and the "conservative backlash" intense and unyielding, things were arguably completely flipped just 6 years ago.
Issues of civil liberty are at the forefront - gay rights, women's rights, immigrant rights, the rights of the poor to a living wage and healthcare - followed closely by environmental concerns - clean water and air affected by fracking, pipelines and excessive carbon dioxide, genetic modification of our food sources and of course, the oft-debated climate change.
This is the world we have come of age in. And it sounds strikingly familiar to the world that lead to the explosion of social change in the 1960's. Now, whatever your feelings about the "hippie movement" may be, it is - in my opinion - undeniable that this decade effected the country and (dramatic pause) the world, in incredibly profound and positive ways. Civil rights, environmental protections, empowerment of the youth to affect change, all of this came about in those years. Not to mention some pretty kick ass music.
Like us, they were a wartime generation - fallout from WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Cold War. They were told to hide under their desks like we're told to report suspicious packages; our terrorists were their communists. Technology leapt forward in their generation as well, moving from radios to color TVs in every home as the means of family entertainment and ideas. The television connected them globally - images of war and news of assassinations visually poured into their living rooms for the first time. And 1956 and 1960 marked the first mass market television broadcasts of the Olympics, showing in (relative) real time what the world actually looked like, and what happens when we all came together in a positive way.
Our reality mirrors their reality, albeit with way cooler technology and slightly less naiveté. Already, the world can see the seeds of their passion sprouting once again as the millennials enter adulthood. And while righteous indignation and protest has it's place to spur change, the positive side of things, like volunteering, universal healthcare, alternative energy, organic foods and holistic living are steps towards a realized "utopian" dream. And don't get me started on popular culture - yoga, music festivals, fashion, marijuana legalization...they already brought back the VW bug, maybe the VW bus is next? (fingers crossed!)
The age of Aquarius is an astrological certainty, some believe it's already upon us, and it is thought to be a time of enlightenment and personal freedom. But what it will actually bring is up to our generation and the generation of our children. We can sow those seeds of a better world - we can create conscious corporations who care for their employees, we can be open minded leaders willing to compromise to find the best solution and we can rely on renewable fuel sources like wind, sun and sea water (yes, sea water!). We can vow to care for the least among us and we can honor the earth for the gift that it is. If Forbes will admit to the business world that this next generation of CEO's is something to look forward to, then imagine the positive impact in store for the rest of the world if we only take a lesson from those who went before us and open our hearts and our minds to the possibility of a better and brighter future. Maybe it is finally time to truly let the sunshine in.
When I found out I was having a girl, I was beside myself excited. Visions of adorable outfits, ballet classes and infinite sweetness ran through my head.
But I was also terrified.
The idea of raising a girl in an image obsessed culture, that trivializes and objectifies women caused more than a few sleepless nights. And now, as I look at Maya about to turn a year old, I realize that it's only a matter of time before the limitations and expectations our society places on all women and girls will rest on her tiny shoulders.
When well meaning friends and family tell her she's beautiful I secretly cringe inside. Are their good intentions already teaching her that her worth is based solely on what she looks like?
It's hard, not to tell a sweet little girl in one if those adorable outfits, that she's beautiful. To comment on how pretty she looks. I do it, we all do. But are these comments the beginnings of a sense of self slowly consumed by image and appearance?
I know how conscious I always am of how I look to others. I know that I believe my value in their eyes increases or decreases based on how I look each day. But it's not just others perceived perceptions that are the problem. My sense of worth in my own eyes is directly tied into my outer self. Honestly, it's only a recent development that I've begun to give any credence to my inner self. Do I want my daughter to wait until she's in her 30s to understand that her true value lies beneath the surface? And the sadder thought is that if she does, then she would be one of the lucky ones. Many women go through their whole lives without ever truly realizing that truth.
To me, my daughter is perfect, inside and out, and always will be so. But to her, in her own mind, her own heart, where it truly matters, what will she believe? And will that belief lead her into making bad life decisions? Will she not study as hard in school because she doesn't believe her mind is of any value? Will she starve herself in an attempt to obtain an unobtainable ideal? Will she stay in a relationship with someone who hurts her because she believes she deserves no better?
I recently watched the documentary Miss Representation and I was inspired and ignited. As a mother, I have a responsibility to teach my daughter to look both ways before she crosses the street and not to speak to strangers. To say please and thank you and always eat her veggies. But it's also my responsibility as a mother, and first and foremost as a woman, to nurture her confidence and applaud her intelligence. To teach her that however she may look on the outside, it's on the inside that she is the most beautiful.
And it's not just a responsibility I feel to my daughter, but to all daughters. We can never expect to be treated with respect if we don't first treat ourselves and other woman with respect. When our daughters see us taking down ourselves in the mirror, or hear us making derogatory comments about other women, the cycle continues. We become weak, and the weak are easy prey, easy targets of politicians and advertisers and anyone else who stands to profit from the oppression of a people.
Women will never find true equality until we truly believe that we are equal. And if we don't see the value of standing up for ourselves, then no one else will. We must be the change, for Maya's sake, and the sake of young girls everywhere. May they always be fully aware of their own unique perfection and may they never need to be told they can be whatever they want, because of course they can.
So we hear it all the time - be present, live each moment, be amazed, be grateful - but sometimes, we just don't want to. Maybe we fought with a loved one, maybe work sucks, maybe your 9 month old kept you up all night for no discernible reason, or maybe it's just too dang cold outside. Whatever the reason, life is often hard. But as the wise Jimmy Dugan once said "...it has to be hard...it's the hard that makes it great." (yes, I realized I just quoted a fictional character from a baseball movie starring Madonna...which is a weird thought in and of it self, but anyway...) And in those moments, when life is really kicking your ass, those are the best times to check in and find the opportunities for gratitude, because they're there, I promise.
And it doesn't have to be a "fake it till you make it" mentality. By allowing ourselves to truly feel our emotions, by inviting in the pains or heartaches or annoyances, and sitting with them, we acknowledge that they are part of us. And all of us is ok, hell, all of us is beautiful. Turning away or denying their existence, denies a piece of ourselves. And if you're not whole, then how can you be present? Let those feelings in, allow them to settle, and smile, because this is life.
Easier said than done? Perhaps. But I found this insightful step-by-step guide on Elephant Journal today to help jumpstart those rocky days.
So, kiss the loved one you fought with, put fresh flowers at your desk, hug your daughter who refused to let you sleep and don't forget to wear a hat, it's cold outside.
yoga teacher, filmmaker, wife, mother and citizen of the world. this is my journey into radical gratitude and living each moment in pure joy.