Three Face Masks to Soothe Your Soul and Face


I don't know about you, but I'm feeling this influx of daily news on a pretty deep level. And while all I want to do is talk to you about why I marched in the Women's March or why pushing through the DAPL cuts to my core, I also recognize that we are being bombarded on every side and every social media network with people's political opinions. So for now, I just want a little respite. It doesn't mean I'm not fired up and ready to go and that I'm not here to listen to how you're feeling about everything. Please use the comments as much as you like! But it does mean that I want to shine a little light into a world that's feeling a little dark with some fun face masks. Sound okay to you? Great! Let's jump in.

My face is breaking out. My naturopath had me do some blood tests which concluded it's most likely not hormone related. Great! Then WHAT IS IT? She says it's stress. I say, whatever it may be it's annoying. So, to combat the stress and the breakouts, I'm taking to face masking. DIY-ing lifts my spirits and I'm incorporating some skin and soul soothing ingredients. *P.S. All of these masks are strongly colored, especially the turmeric, so take care to watch what they come in contact with. 

First up, Cocokind's Organic Ultra Chlorophyll Mask. This detoxing, nutrient-rich mask is easy to use with just a little bit of water, but I love to add raw honey for its skin healing elements. After 10-15 minutes, my skin feels refreshed. Want to up the ante? Take it to the steam room! Cocokind founder, Priscilla Tsai, says the steam helps open up the pores which allows the chlorophyll to clear out more dirt. No steam room? I like to put it on before I shower and just sit in the bathroom for a few minutes before hopping in to wash it off. 

Second, Jessa Blades' DIY turmeric, honey, & yogurt mask. Mix about 1/2 tsp turmeric powder with 1 tbsp full fat yogurt (or I used goat kefir, which is different but still has a good bacterial count), and 1 tsp raw honey. A little goes a long way here, but the slight exfoliation of the turmeric and the cool kefir was so lovely and soothing. The anti-inflammatory properties of the turmeric, skin healing honey, and cooling kefir is a great way to keep my redness level down. 

Lastly, Adina Grigore's Dessert Mask from Skin Cleanse. For about one use, mix 1 tbsp organic olive oil, 2 tsp raw cacao powder (not heavily processed), and 1 tsp fine grain sea salt. This mask is like a brownie for your face. The olive oil is really nourishing, while the cacao is antioxidant rich, and the sea salt scrubs away the bad leaving glowing skin behind. 

Do you have a favorite DIY mask? Leave the recipe in the comments below! Or better yet, make some and tag @lisammagee in your instagram photo so I can see! 

Sometimes I Need to Hear Things Twice


Sometimes I need to hear things twice before I REALLY hear them. Such was the case this past week when I attended The Class by Taryn Toomey on Wednesday. They mention on the website how cathartic of an experience The Class can be. The sounds, movement, and sweat can really get emotions flowing. While in the cool down after intense cardio, I contemplated what I needed to leave in the room before I headed back into the world. My mind immediately jumped to something Erin Stutland says in her "Soul Stroll" audio.

"What you used to think was hard is now easy. Just see if you can take on this idea that it's easy. That life is just getting easier. " 

These words brought tears to my eyes. As crazy hard as the workout was, my life has been feeling harder. It's been so hard to see my face breakout. To see my thyroid hormone plateau at an elevated level. To not know if something I eat is going to make me feel terrible. But as I sat there on that mat and heard those words again (which to be honest, I've heard them at least 20 times), I realized I had a choice to make. I could either choose to let my life feel hard or I could choose to let my life feel easy. I don't know about you, but I want any easy life. Does that mean I won't have bad days? Of course not. But choosing my health is an easy choice. Choosing to not eat specific foods because they can disrupt my body's processes sounds like an easy choice. Is it challenging? YES. But it is the easy choice to make. I keep thinking how hard it is to have to watch what I eat so carefully. And is this going to be life for as long as I live? It probably will be. But that doesn't mean it has to be hard. It may feel hard for awhile. Hard to figure out what my body responds well to, but it will get easier. The more I pay attention to how I feel with certain foods, exercises, and daily habits, the easier it will be to stay on the path of health. 

3 Ways I (Try to) Cope with Anxiety


I wrote the post below while sitting on a plane heading back to New Orleans for Christmas. I'm going to be honest, it's pretty personal, and possibly TMI. It also feels good to post it knowing that the people who need to read it will, and anyone else will just know my digestive system a little better. Also, to my cousin Charlotte who sat next to me on the plane, if you read this, sorry and I love you!


At present, I'm sitting on a plane with Debussy in my ears while still hearing the screeching cry of a baby a few rows away. And I am feeling that baby's pain. Maybe not that much. But I'm uncomfortable. My stomach is popping little gas bubbles all the time and I can't figure out why. Yes, those zucchini potato latkes at the airport may have been a bad idea. But why? They were oven baked. Nothing weird. And the few fries I had? Not out of the ordinary. Somehow though immediately upon consumption I felt terrible. Sharp stomach pains then annoying bloating and gas. And then I ate some banana bread. And some dried mango.

I've been having weird stomach problems for a few days now and it's something that comes and goes. Overall, my digestion is better. Better than it was last year. Better than it was 6 months ago. But I'm going home. And that brings anxiety. Sometimes I am the strongest disciplined person, able to say no to the things I don't want and know will make my body feel awful. But lately I've been giving into cookies and sugar and things I know I don't want to consume. The anxiety I've been feeling over going home, over the election, and the stress my family has been under because of it has taken a toll on my strong will. I want comfort. I want mac and cheese. I definitely don't want kale. I want a po-boy and bread and cookies. I want bacon. These are things that have never made me feel good. So the question becomes how do I move through this? How do I cope with anxiety and the stress I feel I'm under? Well, I'm still figuring that out. 

One thing that seems to work well for me is writing. Even a few minutes helps release a lot of tension that I feel. Writing this now I'm consciously having to unclench my jaw just from the build up of anxiety that's manifesting itself in my body. 

Another thing is breathing. Consciously, deeply breathing. I'm a breath holder. It's unconscious but sometimes I have to remind myself to breathe. 

Talking (and usually crying whilst talking) has also become a big part of moving through this season. I'm a very emotional person anyways but this season has brought an uptick of sharing my feelings with others and looking for support and someone to talk it out with. My sister has been a big part of this as well as a few other dear friends without whom I would be a mess. I'm also looking forward to potentially seeking some professional guidance in the new year. 

This outlet of talking is also coming forth in community. I've set up a meeting this month for women who have (currently or otherwise) health issues and need space to be supported by other women. As I've reflected on this year, I've realized how far I've come, while also feeling like I haven't moved at all. I've been getting a lot of advice but I see the need to just vent and cry and be comforted in the unknowing of what my health looks like and will look like in the future. If you're in the NYC area and interested in participating, please email me at the address in the About section. There is no better time than the present to hold each other up and give comfort and support.

Putting Those Gift Cards to Good Use


Happy New Year! Ready to move into 2017? Me neither! I've been reflecting on this past year and, in particular, the amazing shops and teachers I've come across in 2016. I always get gift cards and cash for Christmas, and once what I need is bought, I like to spend a little on things I have wanted for a while. Consider this list of favorites the gift guide I meant to write before the holidays!

Herbs

Mother Mountain Herbals - Stina Swesey's beautifully packaged teas, skincare, and tinctures would make anyone happy. She uses a lot of foraged ingredients which I think make her products even more special.

Wooden Spoon Herbs - Lauren's elderberry sumac syrups is one of the most amazing things I've ever tasted and it will help keep you from getting the cold your office is passing around. Another favorite is the Bless Your Heart Tea which strengthens (actually physically and emotionally) the heart, and who couldn't use that right now?

Ginger Tonic Botanicals - I first heard Lindsay Kluge on the Being Boss podcast and immediately fell in love with her philosophy. I recently tried her Daily Nourish Tea thanks to an Instagram contest and it is wonderful. Also, Richmond friends, she's a local herbal practitioner. Why not get a consult?

Skincare

Marble & Milkweed - Briar's beautiful, handmade skincare line is completely inspiring. Not to mention she's a proactive activist which makes me love her more. 

Apoterra - One of my facialist's favorite skincare lines, I love that Apoterra is handcrafted in NYC and infused with tons of florals. 

Cocokind - As a brand ambassador for Cocokind, it's basically my duty to tell you about this company, but more than a duty, I LOVE this organic, great-for-sensitive-skin line from a women run business. I am so proud to represent this line and the lifestyle founder Priscilla Tsai is promoting through Cocokind. My faves? The rosewater toner and matcha face moisturizer!

S.W. Basics - I cannot say how much of an effect S.W. Basics and founder Adina Grigore's book Skin Cleanse had on my understanding of what goes in and on my body. The S.W. Basics line consists of five or less, organic ingredients that really work! Adina also has another book, Just the Essentials, all about essential oils coming out soon which I am really looking forward to!

Things

IMBY - Sara, a friend of my sister's and Tulane grad, created IMBY for those seeking pieces "Made in the USA under safe working conditions by workers paid fair wages with American-crafted, ethically sourced, and even deadstock/surplus fabrics that otherwise would have been destined for the landfill." I love the selection of pieces and look forward to ordering some new basics this year!

Cookbooks

One Part Plant - If you aren't listening to Jessica Murnane's One Part Podcast, you should be! I'm super excited for her first cookbook, One Part Plant, to come out early this year! One Part Plant is all about incorporating plant-based meals into your weekly routine in an easy way. Pre-order the cookbook here.

YUMuniverse - I really enjoyed reading through this cookbook from Heather Crosby. She has a very thorough knowledge of how to transition your diet to a more plant-centered way of eating. The best part is Heather's expansive website dedicated to creating a community around the plant-based lifestyle. 

Teachers

I've been able to meet some amazing teachers this year and I encourage you to explore their sites, blogs, and how you could work with them:

Jessa Blades (and find her picks for natural beauty products here)

Melanie Herring

Erin Telford

Lacy Phillips of Free + Native

Morgan Yakus

Erin Stutland (I highly recommend her Soul Stroll audio!)

Claire Ragozzino of Vidya Living

Happy 2017, everyone! Looking forward to growing this blog with you over the next year!

For You...


I've realized that I still have a lot of grief over the election, which has also translated into grief over the Dakota Access Pipeline and general humanity (elephants being born without tusks because of poaching, etc...). If you're feeling the same, whatever side of the aisle you fall on, I invite you to discuss it here in the comments, or text, email, message, Instagram, Facebook me, and let's talk about it. I know I'm not alone in my feelings and you aren't either. 

 

**P.S. Please refrain from any insults or unkind words. We all process things differently, and I hope we can allow each other the space to feel whatever feelings we're feeling in a kind, inclusive way. 

Giving Thanks + The Best Granola Ever


This week I thought I might tell you about one of the things I am most thankful for: cooking. Cooking has been a saving grace for me when things in my body feel outside of my control. It has been so wonderful to control the quality of what I put in my body and infuse it with as much joy and love as possible. There are days when I feel uninspired, but it is truly a satisfying thing to be able to have the time to cook for myself.

One of my favorite recipes I've put together has been my gluten-free granola. I love homemade granola. Maybe it's my mother's influence but it tastes better than anything on the market. This recipe I adapted from Juice Press's Super Popular Granola. Sometimes it just ends up being the entire contents of my pantry with everything I throw into it. The great part is that you can add or subtract the things you want or don't want and it will still turn out delicious. 

The Best Granola Ever

(Gluten-Free, Vegan if using maple syrup)

About 3 cups gluten-free rolled oats (I use Bob's Red Mill for most all of the dry ingredients)

1/2 - 3/4 cup dry quinoa (depending on how much crunch you want)

1/2 cup dry amaranth

2 tbsp chia seeds

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

1/4 unsweetened coconut flakes

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup maple syrup or honey

1 tbsp cinnamon

Optional: extra spices of equal measure such as cardamom, nutmeg, or cacao powder + dried fruit such as raisins, goji berries, blueberries, or mulberries

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt coconut oil and maple syrup or honey together in small glass bowl (can use double broiler for a quick melt, but I also like to just put the bowl in the oven for a minute). Mix in cinnamon and other spices if desired to oil mixture. Lay out dry ingredients (but not dried fruit) on lipped roasting sheet and coat evenly with oil mixture. Stir to coat thoroughly. Place in oven for 15 minutes or until lightly toasted. Mix in dried fruit if desired to cooled granola mixture. Once cooled, granola can be stored in glass containers on the counter for about a week. 

I hope this recipe inspires you to get creative in the kitchen. You can substitute so many things for other dry ingredients so play around with it until you find what you like best. As always, feel free to leave questions below or comment on your favorite granola additions!

Why I Pet Patches the Cat Everyday (And Other Forms of Self-Care)


Whatever side of the aisle you fall on, this was a hard week for a lot people. We're all searching now for a little peace in this increasingly chaotic world (or maybe you're still protesting and that's okay, too). We're wondering what we can do to get through this, to heal, to understand, and to move forward in a place of strength and solidarity. I want to make this space comfortable for any person from any party to be able to bring who they are in an open dialogue, so I will only touch on politics to say I'm still in denial. I still feel as though I am in a dream, still sitting and watching it all unfold at an election party. But I'm not there and we must move forward. How? Day by day and step by step. 

One step I would like to offer up is self-care. You may be hearing that word a lot right now, mostly coming out of the wellness industry. I think Renee Byrd from Will Frolic for Food said it best, "Self-care, for me, is about developing comprehensive, preventative, daily practices that lead to improved long-term emotional and physical wellbeing." It's the little things or habits that we incorporate into our daily lives to bring a sense of calm or do something meaningful for our future health. When I add fermented ginger carrots to my food, my digestion doesn't miraculously feel amazing, but I know that it is improving the way I will feel further down the line. 

It may be reading your Bible before going to work. Repeating affirmations to yourself before you step out of bed. Making a cup of coffee in your special mug and enjoying it before frantically trying to get dressed. Spritzing lavender pillow spray before going to bed. Spending a few minutes petting your cat or dog. Maybe it's adding a few drops of a flower essence, tonic, or tincture to your morning cup of water. Holding a crystal in your hands or putting your feet in grass to remember your connection to the earth. Whatever it is, repeat and repeat again. The amazing thing about our minds is that they are malleable. New neural pathways can be created and we can interrupt our way of thinking and put in a new thought to create positive change.

Here's a few things I do to create a practice of self-care:

Ashwaganda, turmeric, and lemon tonic in hot water made in my special bowl and mixed with a chasen (bamboo whisk). This adaptogenic (stress-balancing) and inflammation-calming tonic is good for my body, but also is a small dose of meditation. Japanese tradition says creating a bowl of matcha refocuses your concentration from your thoughts to the movements with the whisk.  

Abhyanga is an Ayurvedic form of full-body self massage that not only stimulates the lymphatic system, but connects you to your body. I use cold-pressed sesame oil or calendula-infused apricot kernel oil, but you can use any oil you like. I also occasionally use Naturopathica's lavender body oil as it is extra stress relieving. The practice is usually done before a bath, but can be done before or after a shower. *Beware of slippery tubs if massaging before the shower. (See more here.)

I touched on this earlier, but fermented foods are finding a big place in my self-care practice. I am in love with Hawthorne Valley's fermented ginger carrots to throw on EVERYTHING or Miso Master's chickpea miso to add into soup. Building up my gut health is so important for my overall health. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, said "All disease begins in the gut," so I'm taking good care to build up happy, healthy bacteria for my mind and body. Kombucha, kefir, yogurt, or sauerkraut are also great additions to any daily food routine (although I would limit kefir and yogurt to 2-3 times a week because of the dairy). 

Pet my cat named Patches. This is going to make me sound like a crazy cat lady and that's okay. I'm usually alone in my apartment and having another creature here is so comforting. We've been together since I was in 7th grade and my sister will tell you we have a weird connection (at least I think she will). She knows when I'm hurting and knows when I really need a snuggle. Petting or combing her, especially her favorite spot, the head, is a way that I honor her place in my life. 

These are just a few ways I'm starting to practice self-care. However this practice manifests for you is perfect. It's all about what works best for you, what fits into your schedule and creates calm, and what brings you the most joy. I've been trying to strive for perfection in this and do these things everyday, but some days I forget and that's okay. You'll know to do it when you need it.

I'd love to start a conversation with you and help you find a self-care practice to incorporate into your daily life. Or maybe you're an expert at self-care and want to share your practice with others. Use the comments below and let's start a dialogue of support. We're stronger and better together. Whatever you're feeling, please keep an open mind and utilize words of kindness instead of insult. 

Face Mapping + Quick Fixes


Recently as I was looking up "acne face maps" trying to figure out where the tiny bumps all over my forehead have come from, I stumbled upon an article from Teen Vogue over the very issue I was looking into. ( Side note: For those of you curious, this is actually a real thing, especially in Chinese medicine.) When I got to the section on jaw/chin acne, the author recommends birth control and some unpronounceable chemical (and, okay, they mentioned leafy greens) as a solution to the hormonal imbalance that is causing the acne. If you know me and you read my first post, you know this made me angry..but, like, righteous anger, because even though I have gone through so much with my skin and body in the past few months, I still want the quick fix.


Said tiny forehead bumps have been driving me mad for the past few weeks. I don't feel like my diet has changed or my products, but there they are like a taunting reminder that I don't know everything about my body and I'm not in control. Over the past few weeks I have tried mask after mask trying to detox my skin in hopes of getting rid of them. So as I wiped off my clay mask, I checked my forehead to see if the bumps were gone. Do you hear how silly that is? After a 10 minute mask I expected all of the bumps to magically disappear from my face. Why do I think that? Where does that notion of magic skincare products come from? And then I read that Teen Vogue article, one of my favorite magazines as a teen, mind you, and it struck me. I have been fed the quick fix for at least the past 15 years. I've been told that things can change overnight. That the chemicals I put on are "miracle" creams and gels and I'll look amazing in the morning. And then the morning comes and that giant zit is still there or the harsh chemical I put on has dried my skin out so much I'm peeling. So you buy another product. And then another. Until your cabinet is overflowing with "miracles in a jar". It's madness. And I know it. I've known it for a while and I've changed my skincare products because of it, but there I am using a two-ingredient, all natural, non-toxic mask thinking the exact same way. I've been programmed to believe a product is my savior.

But I know better than that. I know (and I'm telling myself more than anyone) that what is coming out on my skin is a result of how my body is operating. I know that it takes time to heal. That food is the medicine. That it can take a while of storing up good things for any change to come. Yet, even though I know all these things, it's going to take time for ME to heal, not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually as well. I have a tendency to be very hard on myself. If something's not going right, I will find the solution. I'm a problem solver. And I love that about myself, but I also need to realize that patience is the best route for healing. There is no overnight fix, and I need to be okay with that. I want (and need) to work with my body, listening to it at all times for what it is asking of me, instead of forcing it to do the things I want it to do.

Are you experiencing the same kind of "quick fix" anxiety? What is getting you through the frustrating times?

 

From the Beginning...


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I want to begin with how I got to now and why I'm starting this blog.

Since I was a kid I've always had bad skin and a bad digestive system. I just never connected the two. In high school, my dermatologist put me on skin treatments that exacerbated the situation so I let go of the (expensive) creams and stuck with good ol' Clearasil. But nothing changed. For years. Instead, my hormones were imbalanced, my digestion was inflamed, and my skin was a mess. 

As a 24 year old, I began having terrible cystic acne, the worst IBS symptoms for a time, and developed menstrual cramps that made me feel like I could pass out. So I turned to the gynecologist and dermatologist for help. My gynecologist found nothing wrong, but my dermatologist said that the jaw/chin acne were clear signs of an hormonal imbalance. So she put me on a birth control pill to balance my hormones. My acne cleared and my insane cramps went away. Miracle! It was like magic. And I was telling everyone how I had been healed and recommended they do the same if they experienced any similar symptoms. 

Cut to 3-4 years later, skin still free from cystic acne, but painful cramps every so often and low energy, I learn from Nicole Jardim that my miracle pill is just covering the problem like a Band-Aid on a giant gash. My body is tricked into thinking it's pregnant (are anyone else's alarm bells going off???) and what I thought was my period is just bleed-through. The pill I had put my hope in was nothing but a lie. Here starts the drastic change that would ensue. 

A blood test later would reveal I also had hypothyroidism (possibly Hashimoto's autoimmune disorder, but more on that later), a vitamin D deficiency, and high cholesterol and triglycerides. I started working with a naturopathic doctor for three reasons: get off birth control and balance my hormones naturally, calm my digestive system, and improve my thyroid health. 

Now at about five months later, I've been off birth control for 3 months using food and supplements to balance my hormones. This is a work in progress, however. My period has become regular and cramps have subsided and I'm thankful for that. My thyroid health has improved and my energy has increased. My digestive tract is much happier than before and still somewhat inflamed.

So here we are. My mental and emotional state during this transition has taken more time to process than my physical health. I want to explore that, too, since they are so interconnected. I want to use this space to discuss these topics and my progress more in depth. If you have questions about what I'm doing, I want to explore them with you. I believe in community. I believe in a shared life. So share with me. Tell me how you feel healthy and well.  

P.S. Two books that helped me begin my journey were Skin Cleanse by Adina Grigore and Woman Code by Alissa Vitti. I will talk about these books more in depth later, but if you need a place to start, these are great reads that really get to the heart of the matter.