What Gardening Can Teach Us About Ourselves

Sunflowers In my Garden
Everyone deserves to make time for things and activities they are most passionate about. 

It’s March and it’s almost that time of year when we have to start getting our gardening tools out and start sowing our spring and summer crops.

I almost decided to not garden this year 1. because it took too much of my day hours last year, 2. i have more going on this year than I did last year when we first moved in this house. Spring 2017 was so spectacular that I spent 85% of my waking hours outdoors.

Last year was also my first time gardening, and thus was my first growing season. I remember how I felt when I was in my garden, it was an overwhelming feeling of joy and so much purpose. In the garden there’s always something that needed my attention. The dogs spent a lot of time outside too for as long as I was there. The three of us got a lot of sun together.

In working with earthly elements, I discovered another part of myself that I have not met before. It was in one of my gardening sessions last year when I was first introduced to the concept of intuition–in completely trusting this flow of ancient wisdom from elsewhere.

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It took me to a quiet place where I just know what to do. It felt like coming home.

Here are some of the lessons I learned from the garden last year:

  • Tune in. If we pay attention, the plants (and our environment) will tell us what they need. I carry this with me now in all aspects of my life.
  • The high point in engaging ourselves on a project is what we learn during the process. To venture on a project for the first time is about learning to focus and invest our attention in mastering the craft and catching the wisdom that is shared by our process in the environment we are working on. Notice how you feel when you are deeply immersed in your element, I experienced many meditative moments, and some moments of frustration when I know there is nothing else I can do but let go. Our attention is our biggest investment in the projects we undertake, the money for the tools and equipments that we need comes secondary.
  • In gardening, there are several factors to why we reap what we reap during harvest. The gardener is not the only player in this game, nature has it’s say and will dictate what happens to our crops. It reminds me of our own impermanence in this world. What makes gardening fun is knowing you can keep building and growing the garden for the whole growing season. Which in my case here in the Pacific Northwest is short.
  • Set yourself up for success. I like playing this game with myself where I do as much as I can today so that I don’t have to do it tomorrow, but that caused me to missed some important things indoors that needed my attention. So this year, I am going to try and create a better time management so that both indoor and outdoor tasks that need my attention gets taken care of.
  • Patience instead of pressure. There are some projects that require pressure, and some people thrive in pressure. Gardening is the opposite of being under pressure because everything about it is effort and patience.
  • Creating in our element is an expansive experience. Notice how when we are doing what we are good at and what we love, we hardly notice the passing of time? Learning takes place when are ready to accept the wisdom and we stay with a project long enough to witness and help it through it’s life cycle.

Our experience on social media and other online outlets can be constricting. Recent studies have shown how our habit of “browsing” has noticeably cluttered our space and capacity for creating. Since the rise of social media in our culture, our attention span (adults and children) is noticeably shorter.

Working on projects that require an X amount of focus can help create a breathing room in our mind and our soul. These therapeutic activities (whatever it is that we decide to take on) create internal expansion and are healthier for us in the long run.

For a meticulous gardener, every plant is precious and needs ample attention and care. There is also the thrill of waking up everyday excited to see the changes: what’s thriving, what’s bloomed overnight and what’s being attacked by pests.

Gardening is inviting ourselves to co-create with nature. And I like this whole concept of time away from modern technology. It is not a cheap hobby, but it can be cost effective when planned accordingly. Last year, I grew almost every seed I could get my hands on. Some succeeded and some did not. And that was fun. This year, I will concentrate growing only herbs and vegetables that I use in my kitchen.

I am really excited to step into spring, get into the rhythm of the garden and find out more of what the plants can teach us.

What You Seek Is Seeing You

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“Nirvana”

There is a silence,

a gentle breeze,

that takes over me when I empty myself.

What I’ve been looking for,

this tenderness,

this profound peace,

was in me

all along.

-DS

There is no price that can amount to the happiness I feel after a good workout. Working out at home and at the gym is by far the best “self-emptying” method I’ve found (long walks come in second, and meditation comes in third). It gives me an opportunity to connect with my mind and body. It gives me some sort of physical stress, but I can tell this is the kind of stress that my body wants…and need. When we empty ourselves, we break the habit of carrying negative stress caused by interactions from our immediate environment.

I used to push ‘fitness’ to the side when I was in my 20s thinking that it’s not a vital part of living. I always said, “don’t have time for it.” Fast forward to my 30’s I began to feel my body more, I have stress coming from different places, and I didn’t know where to begin my personal overhaul–I just know that something different needs to be done. It was overwhelming to have so many symptoms of unhealthfulness. I would constantly medicate just to pacify all these feelings of stress and anxiety from thinking too much about my health.

Luckily we have 2 young dogs that are eager for walks. Long walks was where my fitness journey began.

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These two special souls remind me that I need to stay on top of my health. They saved me when I couldn’t save myself. My Obi (Rhodesian Ridgeback) and My Akira (Shiba Inu). 

I started taking long walks with my husband and our two dogs. Washington is such a beautiful state for doing this kind of thing. The air quality is really good because of the trees and there are hundreds of trails to choose from. Luckily, we live close to a trail alongside a river that streams from Mt. Rainier. I started to feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally. The feeling was similar to waking up after a long frustrating dream. Like, “oh, was I the prison guard all along?”

This gave me the idea that the more movement I add in my life, the better I would feel. I incorporated routine workouts, and wow, it’s truly life changing.  I love this place where it takes me. Which I think may be my personal nirvana. It’s so beautiful, so peaceful, and it’s a place where I know that everything is okay.

I see now that when we operate from this place, we feel good and confident that even the toughest storm will have a hard time shaking our foundation.

So I invite you to embark on a journey. Find what empties you, what brings you that genuine happiness, what makes you surrender in joy and peacefulness. When we know how to access this place and we continue to show up to the part of ourselves that want to be in healthfulness, our life and our well-being will improve dramatically.

Aloe Vera and its Healing Properties

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Experience the freshness by going to your local health food store. ❤ 

Aloe Vera Plant (believed to have originated from Sudan) is one of the most revered plant worldwide for it’s healing properties. It is rich in vitamins, minerals, saccharides, amino acids, anthraquinones, enzymes, lignin, saponins and salicylic acids–all of which our body can recognize and know how to process. 

There are many benefits in including aloe vera in your medicine cabinet, refrigerator, or freezer. 

Here are some of the benefits of Aloe Vera that I’ve gathered:

  • It soothes burns and skin irritations (some claim that it may even help soothe symptoms of psoriasis
  • It instantly moisturizes the skin and hair
  • It can be a laxative (so if you are new to eating aloe vera, you might want to test a small amount). 
  • Aids in digestion when consumed in its juice form
  • It can be used as a topical on inflammed body parts.

I hesitated buying it because I was lazy, until one Saturday morning while shopping at Whole Foods (at $3.29 for a good sized leaf), I finally added it to my cart. My husband smiled and jokingly said, we now have a lethal weapon in our cart. Yes, it’s got spikes on the sides but they can be carefully and easily removed using a sharp knife. 

Here is an article by Wellness Mama on how to deal with fresh aloe vera, she includes how to remove the sides, how to extract it, and how to turn it into aloe vera gel: click here to read it

I am amazed by the instant gratification effect that this plant have. I used it for both my dogs and I. 

Purifying Mask For the Face:

  • Mix 1 tsp of aloe vera gel with 1 tbsp of raw honey. Leave it on for 30-40 minutes and rinse in the shower or cold water. 

The Result: Clear, smooth, glowing, rosy complexion

Leave-on Conditioner For the Hair: 

  • Apply the gel from the roots to the tips of your hair. Massage some gel on the scalp as well. Leave it on.

The Result: Shiny, hydrated, moisturized hair

Conditioner for the Dogs:

  • I lathered the aloe vera gel on their coats and bellies. My Rhodesian Ridgeback’s belly is a little bit on the dry side this time in the winter. My Shiba Inu, just loves to look like a goddess. 

The Result: My Ridgeback stopped itching, and both their coats looked amazing!!!

Aloe Vera plant will now be a staple in our home. I hope you give it a try because it’s as good as it’s reputation, and it is very affordable. There’s a lot of recipes for aloe vera concoction that are worth a try once you have a plant in your hand. Here’s the one that I liked: Click here to visit the face mask recipes.

 

 

 

How Elimination Diet can Improve our Quality of Life

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We save ourselves from trauma when we are conscious of what we put on our plate.

It’s not easy to make good food choices and eat healthy in this culture. Luckily for us, our built-in body intelligence  knows when have eaten something that we shouldn’t. With awareness, time, and practice, we learn to understand this intelligence. Eating and doing good by our bodies are habits that drastically improve our quality of life.

On occasion, I indulge in something I know that contains one of my allergy triggers like red wine. Food additives that trigger my allergies which can cause body inflammation and my skin to break out are: sulfites, tartrazine, benzoates, grains, sugar, and other processed foods with preservatives. These are the ones that I know of so far that cause suffering and stress to my body.

Dealing with suffering takes away so much of our good energy. I remember being at the peak of feeling unwell (inflamed skin, abdominal pain, leg cramping, low energy, frequent migraines, and insomnia all at once) I felt powerless, I just kept asking how much more of this I can handle. All I know in that moment is that if I go see a doctor, they will put me on a medication that can potentially destroy my organs and affect my fertility over time. My health is not an option I can risk or gamble. 

The reason why I got into elimination diet is that I needed to be done with my physical and internal suffering so that I can focus my energy on my passion and my essential task (my family and my work). I had every reason to believe that I can gain control of what’s happening to me. 

One of the first things I had to remove were all highly processed packaged foods. If it comes in a box or a bag, I’d avoid it. I got into reading ingredients list on everything that I am buying. I stopped shopping at places that sell foods that are unfriendly to my body. If a store is not transparent on where they are sourcing their food from, we don’t go there. A year later, I followed it by detoxing from cannabis (both THC and CBD). Then I developed an exercise routine that can easily be done at home. I was surprised to find out how much it made me feel better and more connected to my body. I am reminded of how sacred life is. Now I have the energy and the will to focus on what matters most in my life (my marriage, our beautiful dogs,projects and little things that gives me happiness :)😘) 

What I would hear from my community when I tell them that I cannot eat from certain food group was, “oh how sad you have to give it up, it’s so delicious,” or “that’s so crazy” or “oh that’s great, but are you actually happy?” Insome ways, elimination diet may appear or sound extreme. But the results that we get when we eat only the food that’s good for us is priceless. 

We all have different body types, blood types, and allergy triggers. That’s why I recommend elimination diet by personalizing your journey. It’s easy to follow health gurus and popular diets. It’s hard when there’s something in that box that doesn’t suit us and we only get frustrated and give up hope.

What we mostly do in our home is a hybrid of Ketogenic and Paleo Diet. I mention these two diets because it is easy to find recipes online and modify them if there is something in the ingredients list that you are allergic to. The foods in these categories have eliminated highly processed foods + bad oils and is a good start if you want to learn what whole foods are. 

This article by Mark Sisson from 2012 helped a lot when I was beginning this journey, he has a good list of what to avoid when learning to eat clean and only shopping for what is good : click here to read it

When doing elimination diet, it is important to: 

  • Pay attention to the way your body feels after having a meal. If you suspect something on the food triggers negative impact, write it down. You will need to test it again in two ways: both in its isolated form and combined (mixed with other foods) form.
  • Make notes to remember what foods trigger your allergies. This is only until you remember what to avoid.
  • Read labels when food shopping (pay special attention to ingredients). Do not shop in a hurry. Allergen triggers can hide in those bottles of condiments that are sold in the market. 
  • Choose organic produce when you can. It’s better to know that somehow the food you are buying passed certain standards (organically grown fruits and vegetables still has pesticides but it is grown with limited application and the pesticides used are derived from organic matter instead of harmful chemicals that not only poison us, it also poisons the environment). 
  • Buy meat and dairy (if you tolerate it) that are not treated with antibiotics.  Although the labels will claim that there is no proof that this impacts us, the consumers, do we really want this stuff in our bodies when our goal is to kick what doesn’t serve us?
  • Get into meal preps and DIY snacks of only stuff that you know that’s good for you. The internet is filled with amazing resources. Find your favorite food blogger who is on a similar path. 
  • Prepare and eat meals at home as much as you can. This way, you have full control of what’s in your food. Most restaurants will cook with bad oils / fats to cut cost. Our  brain is made of fat and needs good fat to power through life. So learn to use and cook with good fats.

The hard work is only in the beginning. This is a path that will have long term positive results that will improve our quality of life. Know that there are others from all around the world that’s doing this journey. This is the truth that I keep reminding myself as I go along. I am not alone. 

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Meat and vegetables make me feel at my best.

Showing Up is an Expression of Love

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Photo by Ian Parker

What does it mean to “show up”?

To the best of my understanding and experience,  “showing up” is our ability to grant our passion and accountabilities our full presence. It doesn’t necessarily mean that our physical bodies need to arrive somewhere. Showing up pulls from our capacity and willingness to focus our attention where it is needed (either by something or someone).

Showing up is key to achieving success in our lives. It is a vital part of our creative process because that is when the REAL work gets done.

When we show up to our life and to our immediate environment, the things that need our attention and support gets taken care of. When we show up for the people in our community, not only does it strengthen our relationship, we also learn a lot from each other in the process of showing up for one another. These interactions that happen in our immediate environment has the most impact on our personal evolution and therefore are the ones that we need to pay attention to.

Showing up is an expression of love, both to ourselves and to our community. We may have friends and family that are not affectionate, or expressive of their feelings, but are always there showing up for us when we have a crisis or we just want to catch up. 

The people in our lives are here for the reason that we chose them to stay in ours too. To keep the connection alive, we simply must show up. 

We each have our own way of expressing ourselves, our love, our gratitude, irritations, anger, and all of our other human qualities that don’t necessarily define who we are. These are very short-lived feelings. What matters in showing up is that we are willing to do the work that is involved and we are willing to work through it, even on days we don’t feel like it.

This may be coming from a self-ISH place: there is a very satisfactory feeling that occurs in our inner self when we show up to our commitments. A part of what can keep us happy is when we feel that we have accomplished something, whether we are in the prepping stages of a project, or at congratulatory stage for the completion of it’s life cycle.

When we have a lot of things going on, the best we can do is keep track of our commitments and show up for it.

How to create a healthy environment for ourselves so we can keep showing up:

  • Self-care. Eat well and get the amount of rest that your body needs. We function better when our personal needs are taken care of. Make sure to create a ritual for yourself that will allow you to feel how special you are. Whether it is working out, a long bath, a cup of wellness beverage, sitting down doing absolutely nothing, a drive in the forest, a good read, …whatever floats your boat. That ME TIME is a must. When we show up to ourselves and our own needs, we can be sure that we can handle everything else that needs our brilliant presence. 
  • Create a good routine. (a.k.a setting yourself up for success) It’s all about the flow. Good time management is helpful when have a lot going on in our daily grind. So setting a time for the tasks that we need to show up for can help manage the stress that comes within the territory of being accountable. I start the day with a shower followed by a good hearty meal before my many things. If I have an appointment, I create reminders on my phone that alerts me three days before (in case there’s prep work that needs to be done), again the day before, and another one two hours before. For my daily tasks, I like to keep it old school with a notebook with an itemized list of what needs to be done that day, followed by other things / interests outside of work that I like to do that day a.k.a, play.  Before I end my work, I try to make another list for the next day’s important tasks. This helps me get a better rest at night. 
  • Pay no mind to procrastinating. It is a distraction to the real entity (a.k.a the brilliant, YOU) that shows up and does the real work. 
  • Make time for your passion. The things we are passionate about are what makes us happy, so it’s important to make time to show up to your passion. This is us feeding our soul. This is the kind of happiness that affects us on a cellular level which is really great for our health. I notice how much happier I feel when I make time to get into things I am interested in. 
  • Show up for the people you love. In this day and age it is impossible not to be able to reach out to our friends and family no matter the distance. The Internet has just made our world a much smaller place and there are so many tools we can use to let the people we care about know we are here for them.
  • Honor our commitments. By showing up. 🙂 

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Real Love is a Conscious Choice

IMG_2777Before discovering the true meaning of love, I treated it as this elusive entity in my life. Like I was a fishing pole and if I waited long enough, I’d catch love. This pattern of thinking consumed me. I’d hold on to whatever I catch for as long as I could no matter how unhappy and toxic of a person I become. My incapacity to love myself and lack of imagination for the love that I want in my life played a big role on the choices I made. It also did not help that my ideals were influenced greatly by romcom movies I’ve seen from my early years.

I made unconscious choices for most of my relationships or lack thereof, which only resulted in terrible misjudgments and created more confusion in my life. Who is the entity that participates when we are on autopilot? I was looking in all the wrong places and attracting other energies that did not mesh well with mine.

I felt a thirst that nothing or no one else could quench. It was maddening.

Somehow luck never leaves our side even when we’ve given up because we messed up so many times. It sticks and cheers us on silently, waiting for the right time to surprise us.

“I will be waiting here,
For your silence to break.
For your soul to shake.
For your love to wake.”
-Rumi

Love found me when I least expected it.

My husband and I met at the workplace. I had no idea that this person whom I’ve been emailing work related stuff with, exchanging “hi”, “hello”, “good morning”, “have a good evening” for 6 months, is the person whom I’ll be sharing the rest of my life with. Looking at him from the outside, all I know is that he’s got a great sense of humor and he carries a seriousness in his overall personality. One day, he asked me to go for a walk with him and I said yes. That was the beginning of our journey together and the beginning of the many yeses I will say to him. For the first time in my life I felt that thirst being quenched. It’s so rejuvenating that I keep wanting more. Our first walk was followed by many many walks, sunrises, and sunsets in LA. We have been inseparable since.

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I remember walking underneath the palm trees of LA streets when we were getting to know one another. That first walk that turned into many…How many of our secrets do they know?

We got married in the late summer of 2011. It was just us and the judge who pronounced us man and wife. I didn’t mind that it wasn’t the wedding I had imagined having from all those years of attending big wedding ceremonies. What mattered to me the most in that moment is I am now getting married to this amazing human who brings so much magic in my life.

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Staying and being in love is a conscious choice.

Falling in love and embarking on this adventure with my husband has taught me a great deal about myself and what it is like to wake up next to someone I care deeply about, someone I  love and someone I am attracted to. 

The vows (“to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.”) we exchanged that day we got married is something we choose to uphold every waking day of our lives, together. Aside from the bliss and the passion, there are storms that shakes things up and makes the marriage feel even more real.

There’s a lot of personal growth and evolution that occurs between two people when they decide they want to be in a lasting relationship together. Change is powerful and beautiful in many ways. These are the real gifts that come with being in a relationship with another divine being. For him and I, the key is that we stay together.

In our relationship we outgrow ideas, things, people, and all sorts of manners. We don’t expect each other to stay the same. We embrace the nature of our humanness. We make mistakes and forgive each other. We admire one another’s growth and uniqueness. We fight the good fight. We serve each other. We laugh at our silliest moments and call each other out on our BS. We own and keep conscious of our accountabilities to each other and to the environment we are cocreating both as a couple and as individuals. No matter what life brings us or what each other bring to the table, we stay together as conscious and as present as we can and we go through it together. We enjoy the bliss, the hurt, the growing, the fun, and all that encompasses being in a relationship.

Love is not tiresome, nor is it unmindful. Love is generous. It takes many acts of kindness to wake somebody up from their long slumber of numbness. That is what my husband did for me. And in loving my husband, I learned that love is not elusive. It is quite the opposite, love is abundant and ever present. We are the source of the love we want to create in our lives. We need only to learn to tap into the source. 

There can only be limits to love and loving where we put it.

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“Love is not an emotion, it is your very existence.” -Rumi

The Power Of Essential Oils

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I am a sucker for scents.

The olfactory system or our sense of smell is a gateway to our soul. Our ancestors relied heavily on their sense of smell to look for their mating partners, track game, and to sense danger. We use our nose to interact with our environment. We embrace scents that are pleasant to us and we instinctively cover our nose when something stinks. It has it’s own preferences.

I welcomed aromatherapy with an open heart and an open mind not knowing how impactful this would be in my life. I just loved a good whiff of something beautiful. My husband and I first encountered a diffuser when we were looking for an anniversary present for his parents. They loved it. Then we bought one for my sister in law and she loved it. Finally, after a month or two, we got one for ourselves. I was wowed with the effects.

Since adding essential oils to my daily rituals, I find myself happier and more enthusiastic about starting my day and getting stuff done. Diffusing essential oils add more substance and beauty to the space we are moving in. I like to have the diffuser on my activities whether I’m in creation mode or just lounging around in our living room. I never expected this to work on this aspect, but it did: I used essential oils that promotes creativity and relieves stress in the form of aromatherapy as my training wheels in getting off both smoking and ingesting cannabis–a tool that I once relied on to cope with my life’s stress and anxiety. It felt like a love affair that needed to end. Getting off of any medicine that extremely alters my perception became my big goal since waking up to my body in 2017. I left it cold turkey and I don’t plan on looking back. I just knew it was time and that it was no longer serving my mind, body, and spirit like it used to. 

Essential oils helped me get back into feeling my body again. These plants are so intelligent that they know how to communicate with us in an inexplicable way. These days I don’t bother much with explanations, I go for personal results. What I mostly look for are facts on safety and toxicity levels of essential oils and carrier oils–this is the most important part to consider when choosing and using your EOs. I don’t need to see a ton of research as a basis of what works and what doesn’t, I go for what makes sense to me, I experiment and observe how I feel. Every time I discover something that works and touches my being, I feel accomplished. A  life that feels good and clear makes life easier, sweeter, and enjoyable.

I use EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database when researching product ingredients. 

While there are so many EO brands out there in the market, they each have their own stellar and not so stellar products within the line. Nature will always dictate the quality of the oils we get because EO’s are made in batches from different parts of the world. You will be amazed by how deep the research about EO’s can go because people love to talk about it and share their own experiences like what I am doing now. Finding what scents you love and finding brands that represent integrity is a fun part of the journey.

I get my EO’s from Whole Foods, Thrive, and Vitacost. I have tried and tested the brands that are available from these stores and I am happy with them. I can feel the benefits from them and I haven’t had any allergic reactions from the oils that I have bought and  used for my DIY body products. 

I’VE USED EO SO FAR ON:

  • DIY Body Products: body oil, body butter, hand and feet butter 
  • DIY Air Freshener
  • DIY Multi-purpose home cleaner 
  • Diffuser

And there’s so much more you can do with them! I just love that I am no longer spending my money on products that have unnecessary toxic chemicals mixed in on their formulas. I used to buy body butters and hand creams from a store that claimed to have non-toxic ingredients only to find out that they do after doing a thorough research on their ingredients. Now I just make my own! It’s so easy and I love being involved in the process of making my own body products. 

SOME TIPS FOR BEGINNERS IN EO:

  • Research what scents you want to start with — they each have their beneficial effects, and if you are working with a budget, you want to start with a few.
  • Buy an EO that is sold in a dark glass bottle with an orifice reducer (this acts as the dropper). Dark and opaque bottles will keep your EO’s from being exposed to sunlight. 
  • If you have pets, look into what’s safe and what’s not safe to use around them.
  • Always dilute your EO’s in safe carrier oils if you are using it for your hair, face, and body. 
  • Store your EO’s in a cool and dark place to prolong the shelf life. Same goes with your DIY products. I currently store my EO’s in a box in the coolest part of the house.
  • EO’s will cause plastic containers to deteriorate because they are of high concentrate, so opt for glass containers when your are working with EOs regardless of the dilution ratio.
  • If you are in the market for a diffuser, get a shape that’s most convenient to the touch (some get too hot), has a good warranty, and one that you can easily clean. 
  • Opt for glass containers for DIY products. They are available on health food stores, online at Amazon (keywords: cosmetic jars, cobalt glass containers, amber glass containers), and other packaging places. There are so many offerings in the market these days. I always just go for the best deals that I can find and reading reviews from other buyers help too.

Having access to essential oils, coupled with creating a beautiful living environment, and changing the way I eat has completely rewired the way I greet life. 

EO’s To Spike Creativity:

  • Frankincese
  • Tangerine
  • Vanilla Absolute
  • Rosemary
  • Clary Sage
  • Vetiver
  • Lemon
  • Bergamot
  • Peppermint
  • Sweet Orange
  • Basil 
  • Eucalyptus
  • Jasmine Absolute

EASY DIY AIR FRESHENER:

What you will need:

  • Filtered water (I bought this spray bottle from Whole Foods, I have several of them around the house for different purposed and I find the quality of the bottle to be great, I found similar looking ones on Amazon that I haven’t tried. This bottle fits 2/3 cups of water)
  • 20-30 drops of your favorite essential oil

Enjoy! 

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I am currently enjoying the Aura Cacia brand. Good quality EO’s that fits my budget!