Apr 18, 2019
by Melissa, Office Manager
Work-Life Balance is as hard to define as it is to achieve. For each person, it depends on individual circumstances and what you define as important. Often times when people talk about work-life balance they are referring to not letting their career take over their personal life, but it can be the other way around. Sometimes you may find that it is time to really focus on your career. It is a highly personal, individual question, and there is not a single way to achieve that balance. In my life, I find I benefit from certain steps to ensure my goals and priorities are clear:
The first step I use is to define for myself what things mean the most. We are often so busy with the whirlwind of life that it takes a conscious effort to self-reflect on what is most important. Years ago, I attended a training seminar where they had us imagine our own funeral and the things that people would say about us. The point of the exercise was to recognize what was most important to you. For me, I wanted to be thought of as a world traveler. From that point on I made travel one of my priorities. Instead of wishing it would happen, I made it happen. Now things have changed and travel may not be as high on my priority list, but I still think of that exercise when I make decisions on what to prioritize and how I want to be remembered.
The second step is to be transparent about what you need. Recently I was working at a job that was fairly demanding with long hours. Despite my passion for my work role, I knew I needed to make a change. Just like any big decision, I talked to my key stakeholders (my husband and my boss) to decide what my options were. I found out my husband would be supportive of me making a change. I next had a frank and open discussion with my boss about what a workable solution looked like. Ideally, my boss would have accepted the things that I needed and I would have been able to stay in a job I loved, but in the end that didn’t happen. I didn’t try to use leaving as a negotiation tactic or to manipulate her in any way, but I was open, and in the end, I let her know that what she could offer wouldn’t fit my needs. I kindly let her know that I would be looking for another job. I don’t think to quit your job is the way to go in most situations, but in that moment I knew it was the right thing for me to do to find work-life balance.
On the other hand, I also have used transparency with people I know to help me be able to work more. For instance, I am part of a neighborhood carpool. It isn’t practical for me to deliver and pick up my kids at school every day, so I rely on other moms to help shoulder the burden. I like to think of it as outsourcing. If there is a task that isn’t critical to my roles, then I look to see if there is a way to outsource it. I have friends that outsource cleaning their houses. If you can afford it there is nothing that says you have to be the one to clean the bathroom.
My last step for finding work-life balance is to try and leave the stress where it belongs. I try to leave work-stress in the office and life-stress at home. It isn’t always possible, but it helps to have a way to decompress. My husband likes to listen to music or an audiobook on the commute home. I enjoying working in the yard, and spending 10-15 minutes checking on all of my flowers and herbs helps me focus back on home life and let go of work stress. Taking a few minutes to meditate or do something you enjoy as you transition is a great way to keep your life compartmentalized.
To summarize, for me finding a healthy work-life balance means identifying what matters most and prioritizing, practicing transparency with the people around me to make sure my needs are being met, outsourcing when needed, and leaving stress where it belongs. Good luck in finding your own balance!
Apr 18, 2019
So many store-bought items are so simple to make, like syrup. Used to preserve fruits, as a delivery method for medicine, as a topping for fruit, pancakes, and ice creams, syrup can sweeten cocktails, tea, coffee, and lemonade. Here are some recipes to get you back to making your own.
Basic Recipe- Adapt for flavors and ingredients:
Combine equal parts sugar and water in ratios of 1:1 or 2:1 depending on how sweet you want it.
Heat sugar water until dissolved in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the edges start to simmer immediately remove from heat source. Liquid should be clear.
If infusing with other flavors, stir them into syrup just as it comes off the burner, cover and allow to steep. You can do multiple flavors at once by pouring the liquid into jars with different ingredients. Cover the jars with lids while steeping.
Once cooled, strain additional ingredients. Leaving behind material will shorten the shelf life.
Store the syrup in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use. 1:1 hot process simple syrup can last a month, while 2:1 should last 6 months. Watch for mold.
Get creative! Add & mix flavors. Try fruit, edible flowers, cinnamon, etc.
Apr 18, 2019
by Abbie, Graphics Goddess
Apr 18, 2019
by RidgeCrest Herbals
Before you put your precious bulbs and seed starters in the ground, make sure your soil is ready. You can purchase a simple soil test at your local garden store to find the pH, potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus levels in your soil. Once you know what your soil is lacking, you can supplement as needed. Banana peels add potassium, chicken feathers add nitrogen, eggshells add calcium, Epsom salts add magnesium, lobster shells add phosphorus, and wood ash helps to neutralize pH.
Some seeds can be put straight into the ground, but you need to start many popular garden vegetables in a protected indoor environment before transplanting them outdoors. You can start your seeds in anything from cardboard egg cartons and eggshells to paper cups or discarded toilet paper rolls. This should happen around mid-March to early April, and your starts can be moved outdoors around the end of May.
Early spring is an excellent time to clean up existing garden beds. You want to wait until your soil is thawed and dried out a little bit to avoid soil impaction and to make it easier to pull dead annuals from the previous year. Take the dead leaves off existing perennials. You don’t need to get too crazy with clean up, just be sure to remove the thick clumps of leaves so they won’t slow new growth.
If you put down leaf mulch in your beds last fall, you can leave them on your beds through spring. The mulch will help to keep new weeds from having a place to sprout, and the decomposing leaves will continue to nourish your soil.
Apr 4, 2019
by RidgeCrest Herbals
Apr 3, 2019
by Melissa, Office Manager
Keeping a clean house benefits your body and soul. A clean house is healthier; it reduces allergens and bacteria. It lowers the risk of injury, wards off pests, and reduces mold. Studies show that the "visual noise" of a cluttered home can increase stress levels, impact sleep, and affect long-term health. Cleaning lowers stress levels, so there is no downside!
Having a cleaning schedule helps me to make sure everything gets done. Here what I do, try creating one for yourself:
Daily Cleaning - Making the bed, dishes, wiping counters, etc. These things take two minutes or less - not a big deal, but will save you time in the future.
Weekly Cleaning: Bathrooms, dusting, and vacuuming. If you don’t have the time to do them all in one day during the week, do one task a day on rotation.
Monthly/Seasonal: Cleaning the fridge, dusting your blinds, and decluttering are jobs that need to be done frequently, but not every week.
Yearly Tasks: I like to tackle one big cleaning project a month. Washing the windows, cleaning out all of your cupboards, cleaning your gutters, etc.
Create a schedule and follow it yourself to see if you notice the mental benefits!
Apr 3, 2019
by Abbie, Graphics Goddess
I grew up in a time when housewives everywhere were saying, “better living through chemistry!” The ‘80s and ‘90s were a golden age of chemicals in our food and household cleaning products, and we all thought that was a great idea... until it started giving us all respiratory problems, skin allergies, and cancer. Now there is a massive movement toward less harsh alternatives, but that presents a new problem – what products can we use that have less harmful chemicals, but still ACTUALLY get the house clean? I've been trying to answer this question in my own home, and these have been the most successful methods I have found:
Steam: I invested in a good home steam cleaner with a bunch of different hand attachments last year, and it has been one of the best home purchases I've ever made. Steam cleaners take distilled water, and superheat it into a powerful jet of steam that kills bacteria on contact, loosens grime, and blasts hard water, while excess water wipes away easily with a cloth. Because of all of the different attachments that came with my cleaner, I can mop my floors, squeegee my windows, pull stains out of my carpets, sofas, mattresses, and blast stuff out of my shower door and window tracks that used to be impossible to get at. I even squeegee my windows and wash my walls with this thing.
Vinegar: I swapped out my bathroom cleaning products for good old cleaning-grade vinegar and haven't looked back. I buy gallons of it at the grocery store on the cleaning aisle. I keep some in a spray bottle undiluted for things like cleaning my stainless steel fridge faucets and fixtures, I scrub down my showers and toilets with it, I use it in my laundry to deal with smelly towels, and for tough messes on my stovetop. There are a million articles on ways to use vinegar for cleaning, so this one is definitely worth a google search to give you lots of ideas.
Isopropyl alcohol: That's right, like the kind you keep in a first aid kit to sterilize things. While the CDC no longer considers alcohols to be “high-level” disinfectants because they cannot inactivate hydrophilic viruses (i.e., poliovirus, coxsackievirus), isopropyl alcohol still kills all of the other harmful bacterias and germs, so I always keep it on hand. Instead of spraying my counters down with a cleaner with 50 unpronounceable chemicals in it, I just wipe them down with a hot, wet sponge and then go over them with a spray of alcohol and a rag. Did you know that 91% isopropyl alcohol and a cloth will pull pine tree sap off of your car without damaging your paint or windows? It's also great at cutting through baked on grease on stoves. Awesome!
Melamine sponges: You've seen them marketed as “magic erasers.” These white sponges are actually a high-density foam made up of formaldehyde-melamine-sodium bisulfite copolymer. The word formaldehyde usually does strike humans as toxic, but when you mix different chemicals the resulting compound is more than just a sum of its parts, and the new chemical has different properties than its components. These are my go-to if steam, vinegar, or bleach won't get rid of my stain or problem spot. These sponges work like mini sandpaper at scrubbing off everything from grease on barbecues and stoves, to crayon on walls, to the permanent marker on countertops. They're also GREAT at taking hard water deposits off shower doors and for cleaning the plastic components and leather seats in your car. While there is the bummer of adding bulk to landfills when you throw them away, it's an option for when all else fails.
These are just a few methods that you can start trying in your own home to get away from harmful chemicals in your daily life, and there are many more solutions online. I wish you luck in your quest to clean....cleaner!
Apr 3, 2019
by Shae, Service and Social Media Goddess
I have struggled with anxiety and depression since I was a pre-teen. There is this dark emptiness inside of me as vast as the universe. A black hole that eats up my happiness, my motivation and any will I have to do anything but breathe, and on my bad days just breathing is hard. I have been taught that this place is a bad thing, so I have spent most of my life fighting it, fighting myself and in turn becoming exhausted with the near-constant fight.
One bad night, almost two years ago, I was reading articles in the bath, crying, feeling really low and empty. I came across an article that talked about befriending this space, letting yourself be ok with the sadness and stopping the fight. It resonated with me and have since tried to implement this into my life when the bad times come up.
I now see these feelings as phases, I appreciate the low because I can have the highs, I see that I need the dark times to see the light, I need the rest so I can grow. So now, instead of fighting with my depression, instead of shaming myself, hating myself for not being happy and thinking there is something inherently wrong with me, I embrace it. I realize that it’s really ok to be sad, that in these times I need to take extra special care to be my own friend. My sadness makes me whole and complete. Yes, I still get sad and depressed, and there are days where it's still hard to breathe, but they have become so much easier to work with and instead of the hate, I love myself harder, I love myself more.
Mar 12, 2019
by Aspen, Herbal Authoress
Hello, Dear Readers!
Last time you will hear from me in a row, with everyone at Expo West and my vacation coming up, scheduling got in the way of variety. Ah, well!
Today my mind is on the topic of Minimalism and tidiness. It took me a long time to realize that my mother, bless her heart, is a giant airhead. Just as an example of how she floats through life, she has literally hundreds of pairs of reading glasses. If she loses a pair, she just buys another pair. She can't keep track of her phone, and when her office got too cluttered she simply got a new desk and started a new office in another room rather than going back and finishing the multiple projects she had started. Needless to say, her house is a disaster of clutter. It took me a long time to realize that I had picked up a lot of that disorganized penchant for clutter and that it was adding major stress to my life.
I only really began making major efforts to change my habits when I realized that I was going to be a single mother with a full-time job and a business to run. I realized that my time was finite and that I needed to operate more efficiently if I was going to be able to give my son the quality time he deserved, rather than constantly spend my time trying to manage everything. I began researching minimalism and tricks to keep things tidier. Here is what has made the biggest difference for me:
- Marie Kondo - y'all know this. Go through your house and if you don't have a use for something or it doesn't bring you joy, get rid of it. I couldn't believe even in my bedroom at my brother's condo that I share with my son, I managed to get rid of about 15 garbage bags worth of stuff that I wasn't using. Now I have more space for the things I do use, and I can have the second tip:
- Have a designated home for everything: If there is no specific place to put your items, you eat up energy later when you need them again and have to search to find them. This is especially important for me in the morning when I am trying to get all of my food and my son's food, along with all the things we will need for the day (cell phone, headphones, diapers, shoes, etc.) The one that really gets me is lids for food containers. I insist we pair them together as soon as they come out of the dishwasher. It takes up more space in the cupboard, but nothing is more stressful than trying to find a tupperware lid when you are running late!
- Follow the 1-touch rule: The 1-touch rule means that when you are done using something, you are only allowed to touch it once to get it back where it belongs. For example, if you come home and take your jacket off, you can either drop it on the couch or a chair, which creates a second chore for you later, or you can put it away immediately, only touching it once, with and not have to think about it again. This was a game changer for me. I started realizing that I would, say, change my clothes and leave them on the floor, creating more work for myself when the laundry hamper was literally five feet further. I felt so stupid realizing my own inefficiency and started wandering the house, muttering "1-touch" like a crazy person.
- Create routines: The most recent routine I have put in place that I am actually quite enjoying is with the dishes. I cook a ton, and my kitchen is the one place where I truly need a lot of equipment to enjoy what is both my hobby and one of the most important things I can do for my child, which is set an example of a healthy lifestyle and relationship with food. But it does mean a LOT of mess, and I was finding it difficult to keep my toddler out of the dishwasher long enough to load the knives. So the past few weeks as I have cleaned up the kitchen after my flurry of daily morning meal-prep, I have been turning on My Little Pony, giving him a bowl of snacks and some milk, and plopping him down in front of it. This is the only screen time I have ever allowed, and the 20 minutes it takes me to unload and reload the dishwasher is well within the AMA's recommendation for screen time for his age, and it is the only screen time he is allowed. He enjoys it, I enjoy it (is there an adult equivalent of Bronies for females?) and I leave my kitchen clean and reset for when I get home after work, which reduces my stress levels.
And in the end, for me, that is what Minimalism is all about. It reduces my stress and helps me feel more in control of my life. What helps you feel less stressed?
Mar 12, 2019
by Matt, Herbal Head Honcho
Politics are like the weather—people like to complain a lot, but they hardly ever do anything about it! Luckily, politics is slightly easier to change, though it definitely takes longer to see those changes (Here in Utah, we say that if you don’t like the weather, just wait 15 minutes!). Sometimes the pace of political change can seem glacial, but when enough people get behind an important idea, change can come with remarkable speed. Here are a few principles to help jumpstart your political activism:
- Your government representatives work for YOU. So when you speak, they want to listen! Your support and vote are important to them. Don’t be shy about approaching them with issues that are important to you.
- You are not alone in trying to get your representative’s ear. Each Congressperson currently represents about 711,000 people and each US Senator represents from 563,626 to 37,253,956 people. They can’t personally meet with everyone, but luckily, not everyone is trying to meet with them. Just by making an effort you improve your chances!
- Your representatives have staff. Use them! Representative track lots of issues and delegate them to employees for day-to-day monitoring. In many cases, the subordinates may know the problems you are dealing with better than their boss, and they have the boss’ ear, even after you go back to work. Staff members can be your best friend or your worst enemy, so treat them right.
- Your representatives are BUSY, so be respectful of their time. Get straight to the point and tell them what you would like them to help with, and how.
- Understand the process and be informed. It won’t help your credibility if what you are asking for is impossible, or was soundly defeated three weeks ago. If you understand the lawmaking process, you can better contribute to the discussion.
- Every bill is assigned to a committee for initial screening. Work with members on the appropriate committees to make sure your bill gets early traction.
- Get bi-partisan support. If your bill or issue appeals only to one party, then its chances of success are minimal. Influential members of both parties will help your issue get serious consideration.
- Representatives have differing priorities and objectives. Not every representative may be aware of your issue, and they may be fighting other battles so they may not want to lead out on your topic. Still, if you can find an ally elsewhere to carry the ball, you can at least get your representative to vote in favor of your pet project when it comes up.
- Some representatives may just see things differently from you. That’s okay. You don’t have to win all of the votes to your side— only the majority. Treat other views with respect, even if they disagree, because you may yet need their vote on another issue. This is a good rule for life in general, even though it runs counter to the current polarized style of national discourse.
- You are not the only person interested in your issue. Organize with others to multiply your voice and make it heard! The more you educate people, the better your chances of success!
- Representatives can do more than just make laws. Sometimes a Congressional press conference, letter, subpoena, or hearing can be all that is needed to change the course of public policy. Be creative!
- Be persistent. Few legislative successes come easily or quickly. Keep after it until you succeed.
Although these principles are written with an eye toward Washington DC, they also apply to state and local issues right up to the United Nations. Remember the old adage—all politics is local. Representatives listen most to the people they represent, so local connections are always the key to getting things done. Getting your neighbors involved with you on a cause you believe in can be both fun and rewarding and can help make your world a better place.
Finally, don’t limit yourself to thinking locally. Involve friends you meet from other places too! They can work on their representatives, whether they live across town or around the world.
Armed with these simple ideas, you can do a lot! Whether you want to help bring about world peace or save Franklin’s bumblebee (or both!), you stand a much better chance if you work smart! I hope this helps, and I hope to see you on the Hill - you will find me there advocating in just these ways for the supplement industry!
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