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Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle

When we become stuck in the cycle of always reacting and giving away all our energy, we are no longer present and participating in our own lives.  Sound like a pattern? Learn how a broken unicorn mug inspired me to not let anyone dull my sparkle!

I used to have a favorite mug – a rainbow unicorn with these words etched into the side: “Don’t ever let anyone dull your sparkle.” I say “used to” have a favorite mug because I broke it. I’m clumsy like that. No family heirlooms, good China, or fancy champagne flutes stand a chance in my hands. And if I am trusted to actually wash one of these items, the family will look on, faces grim and eyes clouded with apprehension as I brandish Great-Grandma’s rhinestone-studded goblet in my slippery, sudsy hands.

Yikes!

Every day we make choices as to who or what is getting our energy. Are we being conscious about it? Think of all the energy drains that we let into our lives – the things we let in that destroy our serenity:

  • Stressing about the things we can’t change.
  • Managing everyone else’s lives but our own.
  • Deliberately putting ourselves in toxic situations 
  • Getting stuck in damaging patterns.
  • Maintaining harmful relationships.

With each new sunrise, we have the choice as to whom or what we give our energy. It is up to us.

To whom or what are you giving your energy?

Now, the point here isn’t to say that we all need to stay in our own personal bubble and avoid people, places, traffic, long lines, telemarketers, and a co-workers boring story about the dream they had last night.  And while is is impossible and unrealistic to create a completely stress and annoyance free existence free life… “and then what did the hippopotamus in your dream say, Martha?”  … we do have the opportunity to choose how we react and to what we react.. 

We can choose not to:

  • Argue
  • Have the last word
  • Always be right
  • Be perfect
  • Micro-manage

Is it easy? Ha! No way. We all have days when we wake up, feeling like we hit the “reset” button and completely unlearned everything we thought we had figured out the day before. And we know it’s only a matter of time before Crazy Aunt Mable suspects that we are deliberately not answering her calls. But when we finally do pick up, it is ultimately our choice if we let it ruin the rest of our day. 

The same goes for current events. When we watch/read the news, there comes a point when we reach saturation; nothing new is being said and we have all the information we require – the rest is just chatter and rehash. Why do we keep listening? Arguing back at the TV or shaking our fists at the car radio? Are we scrolling through the comments on social media and composing the perfect argument retort in the shower?  Are we having the “last word” in conversations in our heads with people we haven’t even seen in 20 years?

Why? Why are we doing this to ourselves? 

But it’s not just about shielding ourselves from energy drains, but also finding ways to replenish. So, what makes you sparkle? Is it going for a hike? Taking your dog to the dog park? Playing in the yard with your kids? Watching the sun rise? Recharging with a bubble bath, complete with candles, chocolate, and a good book? When is the last time you did something to help shine your sparkle? It is an important part of our daily self-care to do things that allow us to recharge and rejuvenate.

You can bet that Mr. Flop isn’t rehashing old arguments in his head. Pets don’t ruminate – and neither should we!

If we keep ourselves worked up into a constant state of anger, stress, fight or flight – it has a terrible impact on our body and our mind. Physically, we suffer from poor sleep, high blood pressure, indigestion, and stress eating (to name a few). Mentally and emotionally, we become caught up in a cycle of despair and anger. We fail to notice the joy and good things around us.  When we are stuck in this cycle of always reacting and giving away all our energy, we are no longer present and participating in our own lives. Everyday we have choices. We may not always make the best choice, but we can try to bring awareness to who or what we are giving our attention.  

Today, my broken unicorn mug has been glued and re-glued.  It is no longer capable of holding liquid and it graces my desk these days as a pencil holder. However, the sentiment remains – when I see this mug I am reminded that I have choices, and ultimately, it is up to me to not let anyone dull my sparkle.  

Today, ask yourself, who or what are you allowing to dull your sparkle?

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Apothecary Pop-Up!

TheoFEST Mind Body Spirit Festival – come visit the Bumblebee Cottage Apothecary. We will have many new products and special blends just in time for autumn.

Saturday, September 7th, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Theosophical Society Grounds, Wheaton, IL

Wheaton’s premier mind-body-spirit festival features tasty vegetarian food, holistic vendors, a festive Kids’ Korner and hands-on demonstrations in tai chi, yoga and other practices. Participants at this family-friendly event can also enjoy talks on meditation, Buddhism, holistic healing, shamanism, spirituality and more.

one of the newest products for fall

The annual festival takes place on the Theosophical Society’s 40 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, including a world-class library, the Quest Book Shop, an outdoor labyrinth and the Buddha Meditation Garden.

TheosoFest is free and open to the public. Parking on the grounds is $5 per vehicle, and hybrid cars and bicycle riders can park for free. A complete schedule of evenbts at www.theosophical.org/theosofest.

The Theosophical Society is located at 1926 N. Main Street in Wheaton.

Upcoming Shows:

Saturday, September 21, 8 a.m. – Noon at the Batavia Farmer’s Market

Saturday, October 19th, 8 a.m. – Noon at the Batavia Farmer’s Market

Saturday, November 9, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Sunday, November 10, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Heritage Prairie Farm Artisan Craft & Food Fair.

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Special Event! Pop-Up Apothecary!

Come visit us at the Batavia Farmer’s Market on Saturday, August 17th from 8 a.m. until noon.

for the crazy cat lady in all of us…

We will be featuring many new products including:

  • Five tea blends – including one that will help you hang on to summer a little longer
  • 12 flavors of lip balm for people plus one for cats
  • Seven moisturizing sugar scrubs – including one you can actually put on toast
  • Three things to help deal with stress
  • Almost two dozen herbal remedies, ointments, and salves
  • Four fragrances
  • Nine skin care creams and toners to deal with acne, wrinkles, and everything in between
  • Three hair treatments
  • Two kinds of gift sets
  • One new skin care starter kit
  • And 17 things you didn’t know you needed

We will also be taking reservations and deposits for this year’s Elderberry Syrup – this syrup is very concentrated and not diluted with fruit juices (like many store brands). Elderberry Syrup is available in very limited quantities so be sure to secure your order soon. Stop by or email for more info. Local only.

cheers!

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Four Ways to Love Your Gut

What has been considered a “controversial” and New-Agey topic has hit the mainstream and now has scientific studies to back what supporters of holistic wellness have long suspected; a healthy gut is the foundation for physical and mental health. Referred to as “the second brain,” the GI tract is literally home to trillions of bacteria that play an important roll in our quality of life.

A recent study has found a strong link between depression and the absence of two intestinal bacteria: Coprococcus and Dialister. Scientists discovered that people with depression lack these particular bacteria. So that “gut feeling” or that “nervous stomach” – there’s literally more to it that we previously suspected! Researchers are learning more every day about the benefits of a healthy gut as well as the mental health implications. We are also beginning to realize that the balance (or lack of ) intestinal bacteria can directly influence conditions relating to inflammation, mood, disease resistance, metabolism, weight, and so much more.

Unfortunately, for the average person, typical lifestyle habits do much more to compromise rather than nurture this healthy gut balance. Behaviors like eating a limited variety of food, being too dependent on processed foods, overusing antibiotics, and consuming artificial sweeteners all take a toll on our health.

So what are some things we can do to restore and maintain a healthy gut biome?

  1. Beware of artificial sweeteners and processed foods. As much as possible, eat food that is an ingredient, not food that has a list of ingredients. Artificial sweeteners and food additives disrupt the metabolism and greatly reduce gut diversity. Eating whole foods in as close to their natural state as possible is your best bet.
Eating a wide variety of veggies helps maintain a healthy gut.

2. Eat your veggies. Most people say they eat their veggies, but studies show that only 1 in 10 Americans are actually eating the recommended servings of veggies per day. On top of that, most of us don’t eat enough variety. The top three vegetables consumed by people in the United States are potatoes, corn, and carrots. Additionally, most of the potatoes consumed are in the form of French fries and starches added to processed snack foods. Modern, big-scale agriculture has degraded food quality with chemical farming and has contaminated our bodies with Glycophosphates and other hidden poisons. Over time, these assaults on our intestinal biome create heightened allergic responses, which further degrade the intestinal lining. By incorporating more diversity into our diets, we are able to increase our healthy gut biome because each vegetable contains a different microbial species. Even better are the veg and greens that you grow or forage yourself. Eating seasonally and locally are also beneficial in maintaining a healthy gut balance and helping to restore one that has been depleted.

3. Incorporate more fermented foods into your diet. Think beyond yogurt. Foods that contain probiotics, like kefir, raw milk cheeses, sauerkraut, miso, and kimchi are all your friends. Be sure to vary the types of fermented foods, too – incorporate soil-based and milk-based products and foods into your diet. Take it slow though – let your body get used to these good things. For example, if trying kimchi for the first time, start out with just a tablespoon with lunch and slowly build up to a tablespoon with meals throughout the day.

A delightful bowl of goat kefir, sprinkled with berries, hemp seeds, and honey.

4. Play with your pets! Yay! (Another excuse for me to get more pets!) Our cultural germ phobia and anti-bacterial everything has done more harm than good when it comes to a healthy gut. Unless you are literally working with the Ebola virus on a daily basis, there is no need to completely sanitize ourselves, our children, or our homes. This chronic over-sterilization has caused a lack of bacterial diversity in our lives. We all need exposure to dirt, animals, and a variety of microbes. We need these small, frequent exposures to bacteria to keep our immune systems functioning – our immune system needs this “education” in order to keep us healthy. A sterile environment impairs the immune system and has even been linked to the tremendous rise in auto-immune disorders. So dig in the dirt, go camping, eat that pistachio that fell on the floor, and play with your dog.

Don’t mind if I do!

What ever your level of health may be, everyone can benefit from adding a variety of foods and whole foods to our diet.

Know that you need to eat more variety, but at a loss on how to put it into action for the dinner table? Sign up for a Grocery Store Field Trip and be inspired!

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8 things you can do tonight to get a better night’s rest

“O sleep, O gentle sleep, Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frightened thee. That thou no more will weigh my eyelids down, And steep my senses in forgetfulness?”


― William Shakespeare Henry IV Part 2

If you are up all night tossing and turning, or counting the cracks on your ceiling, you’re not alone!  It is estimated that between 50 and 70 million Americans suffer from some kind of sleep disorder. Research has also shown that Americans spent $41 billion on sleep aids and remedies in 2015 – a number that is expected to top $50 billion in two more years.

person lying on bed

A good night’s sleep is vital for both healing and sustained wellness.

While we are snug in our beds, it may feel like we are entering into a short term hibernation, but sleep is a time when the body is actually quite busy. Getting a good night’s sleep is the foundation of good health.  During the night, we restock our supply of hormones, process significant toxins, work on digestion, repair damaged tissue, generate vital white blood cells for immunity, eliminate the effects of stress, and even process heavy emotions. Unfortunately, we have an epidemic of sleep disorders – from trouble falling asleep to often-interrupted sleep, to actual insomnia.

Additionally, sleeping soundly will often increases our motivation to make further lifestyle changes.  We make better, healthier choices after a good night sleep.  Lack of sleep can cause that vicious carb-craving cycle, higher blood pressure, low or poor work performance, a lower sex drive, decreased reaction time and attention span, and increased stress.  With extended sleeplessness, (we’re talking days) a sufferer will experience slurred speech, delusions, and even hallucinations – oh my!

Hopefully, we don’t actually get to that point.

When we do fall asleep, we can thank our pineal gland, a small ant-sized lobe near the middle of our skull.

Thank you, pineal gland!

Following our circadian rhythm, the pineal gland secretes a neurotransmitter and hormone called melatonin. Melatonin suppresses the activity of other neurotransmitters and helps to calm the brain (in part by countering the stress hormone cortisol from our adrenal gland). And as we become drowsier, the brain slowly begins to turn off our voluntary skeletal muscle functions, so we don’t move around too much and try to act out our dreams. This is why it’s so hard to move your limbs or shout out in response to a nightmare (or why our legs don’t move when we chase rabbits in our dreams!)

That dog is dog tired!

For ideal sleep, melatonin should be rising steadily and cortisol should be rock-bottom low at bedtime. But there’s a catch: the pineal gland secretes melatonin largely in response to darkness. And our evening cortisol levels are lowest in environments with low noise. With our addictions to TV, video games, and email in the evening, however, our evening activity choices can get in the way of these natural pro-sleep chemical shifts. These devices mostly display full-spectrum light which can confuse the brain about whether it’s night-time or not. We also, unfortunately, tend to watch shows and surround ourselves in media that can be loud and/or stressful (the news, a crime shows, social media comments, or ever-longer to-do lists).  Even digesting a heavy meal eaten later in the evening can prevent or interrupt sleep. (Think acid reflux or stomach churning all night long).

To reboot a healthy sleep hygiene, there are simple changes we can make that will be quite powerful.

1. Have a relaxing ritual at night. Choose more calming, quieter evening activities that resonate with you and help you to relax, both mentally and physically (reading a book, taking a bath, going for a light stroll outdoors, cuddling with a pet). Right now, I have baby chicks in the house and they all need special cuddle time.  For me, it is an enjoyable and relaxing experience to hold a precious baby bird until she falls asleep in my hand.

Zelda is ready for bed!

2. This one will be a challenge: Turn off all full-spectrum light for a full one to two hours before bedtime. This means no email, TV, or smart phone apps. This is an especially good idea for the little ones and should be encouraged in the already sleep-deprived teens as well.  Various e readers have night time settings, which can be helpful.

3. Avoid controversy like the plague! Right before bed is never a good time to start working on a budget, paying bills, or filling out an application for a home equity line of credit.  Avoid stressful conversations with exes, insurance agents, or annoying telemarketers in the full hour prior to bedtime. Some people like to journal to help wind down for the day – it can help bring focus and can even be a act of meditation for some people. 

4. Truly a no-brainer here, but avoid caffeinated food or drinks after 2pm (teas, coffee, soda, chocolate) If you are highly sensitive to caffeine knock off by noon. If you truly need an afternoon pick-me-up, eat kale. (I’m kidding. But still eat kale!)  A brisk walk will do wonders to get you out of a slump.

5. Make it quiet but not too quiet. If noise is an issue in your bedroom (too little OR too much), soft foam ear plugs and/or the white noise of a fan can help level things out.  If you sleep with a snorer, tooth grinder, or live under a bowling alley, a little white noise will help buffer out some of the other noises. 

one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand…

6. Keep the window open when possible.  Okay, during the polar vortex I wasn’t too keen in letting a 40 below breeze drift into my bedroom, but most other days, and yes, even in winter, I like to keep the window open a crack to get a little fresh air.   If it’s gorgeous out, I’ll keep it wide open so the cat can sit on the windowsill.  Falling asleep while listening to crickets, spring frogs, or the distant rumble of a thunder storm rivals any sound machine.  There is also the added benefit of waking up to birdsong in the morning.

7.Have a relaxing ritual at night. Herbal tea (e.g. lavender, chamomile, valerian, passionflower) can help one to relax and set the tone for sleep. A bubble bath or calming essential oil can be wonderful.   I love to drink tea and will often settle in with a soothing blend. 

8. Quiet the digestion and ease stomach issues. For those who live with acid reflux or any kind of intestinal discomfort, it is usually a good idea to have a lighter dinner and to avoid any food at all for a full three hours before bed.  Right before bed is not a good time for that pastrami on rye and a pint of ice cream.

Sleep is something we may need to work at and set as a priority – same as the other important events in our day.


How do you like to wind down at the end of the day?