Teacher Appreciation Week

Teacher Appreciation Week

I am almost finished with my 11th year of teaching. As with every year, there have been times of laughter, times of sadness, times of confusion and dismay, times of pride. While I always enjoy reflecting on my own teaching, what I like to do this time each year, during Teacher Appreciation Week, is think about the teachers I had in my past who have played their role in shaping me into the person I am today.

To the following teachers, in alphabetical order…

Dr. Marilyn Aronson (deceased)
Dr. Aronson – there’s not a class day that goes by where I don’t feel you in my very bones. Your lessons about “Hard writing makes easy reading” continue to resonate and I hope I make you proud every time I teach it. I took your Greek Tragedies book so I could have pieces of you with me from one of my favorite works during AP Lit, Oedipus Rex. I hope you know you are a legend and you are loved.

Mrs. Stacie Brooks
You were my first teacher-love. You were the first person (outside of my family) who made me believe in myself. You called me out when I feigned illness, but you never made me feel bad about it – you always knew it was about my self-confidence. You made me love school and I am forever grateful.

Mr. Martin Doyle
Any Russian I learned in high school, I learned from you. Seriously, I wish I had you for all three years of Russian. You taught me incredible study techniques that actually made me a better student. You are the only reason I had any confidence to take Russian in college.

Professor Donald Loewen
You made me challenge my honor and made me a better person for it. You are also the person who made me fall in love with Russian. Spasibo bolshoye, Professor.

Mrs. Carol Lowe
You were one of the toughest English teachers at Tech and that’s why I loved you. You were no-nonsense, brilliant, with an amazing sense of warmth and kindness. Every kid respected you to the highest degree because you deserved it. You read all of our work, each and every word, and you let me express myself – yours was the only homework I ever wanted to do.

Ms. Judith Mandiberg
Your leading sentences are what gave me confidence in creative writing. You may not believe me, but I would write several different stories for each of those sentences. But what was more important was how you cared for us. You trusted us with your address to write you letters and during a time that was so tumultuous for me, you were a guiding light, personally answering each and every one of my letters. I’m sorry I stopped writing. If I could find your address again, this time I would come for coffee.

Professor Rachelle Moore
Your guidance, leadership, and friendship molded me into someone who was confident enough to take control and run my own programs. Your Computers in English Studies class is what has given me the confidence to build my own websites today. You inspired me to write poetry again.

Mr. Sigmund Robinson
I can still rattle off electronics equations because you made us memorize every one. I am able to fix small circuits, understand the difference between parallel and series, and appreciate my Jewish ancestry because of you.

Professor Libby Tucker
Your classes are literally the entire inspiration for my teaching! Because of you, I am able to teach the most amazing senior elective English class in the history of public school. You showed me that my love of folklore and the supernatural was real and valid – you gave me my life’s purpose.

Professor Al Vos
You actually taught me how to read Shakespeare and I am forever grateful. You opened up an entire world of figurative language, complex characters, love, devastation, all through the eyes of Iago, Prospero, Portia, and more. I only wish I can be half as inspiring when I teach Shakespeare.

Mr. Steven Zebofsky
You made me love history. Even though I was a horrible history student who couldn’t write an AP US essay to save my life, you taught me things about the world that no one else ever mentioned. I was always amazed and how all you needed to do was write an Aim on the board and still deliver a brilliant lesson simply through discussion and debate. Thank you for letting be Sparta and kicking Athens’ ass.

As you think about all the teachers who have positively influenced you or your children, please remember them during this special week. A little moment of gratitude means everything to us.

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

A Serenity Candle Created From Chaos

A Serenity Candle Created From Chaos

I bought twelve amber glass jars a little less than a year ago. I stored them in a drawer for that entire time. I had a million ideas for these jars. I knew I wanted them to be a candle, but I pined over the design of the label, and most importantly, over the fragrance.

I knew I wanted something a little spicy. In my mind, I kept seeing a phoenix, or the symbolic burning of rebirth. I experimented with a sweet orange and jalapeno fragrance, but I smelled no spice. Then I tried a caramel and cayenne, it just smelled like burnt sugar. I mixed hot pepper with lavender, with vanilla, with sandalwood… everything was just awful and burned my nose. I sadly decided to give up on the hot pepper.

I was actually a little heartbroken. I did not just want to buy a conventional fragrance oil; I really wanted this candle to speak to whoever was burning it – I wanted them to hear my soul through the blend of fragrances.

The scent still needed fire and spice – I had to show that aspect; the part where you find the strength to emerge from the flame, but I realized I needed it to be delicious. This spice shouldn’t be painful; this spice was meant to demonstrate empowerment, so the candle needed to also be sweet, or tangy, but completely palatable.

The idea of patchouli struck me. Alone, patchouli is musky with a bit of earth, not the hot spice I was looking for, but combined with chocolate, it is complex – both sweet and green; it gives the chocolate a punch. To add to the depth of this new combination, I wanted something floral. I love the scent of true rose, but it is dominating and overpowering, so blending rose with a fruit base to make a rose-jam scent would be perfect.

The combination of patchouli, chocolate, rose, and jam is sophisticated, intoxicating, and serene. It immediately reminded me when you’re at the breaking point and you absolutely need a moment to step away from the stressors of your life. The scent is both so complex, much like our daily chaos, I wanted something to balance the scent with tranquility. That’s where the idea of our logo came into mind.

 

Serenity Prayer Candle Scents the Moment
Shop the Serenity Prayer Candle

 

Instead of further complicating the deep and provocative scent combination I created with a witty and wordy name, I chose the Tree of Life directly from our logo. This tree is a perfect symbol of serenity. That’s when the name finally hit me… Serenity Prayer.

The most famous part of the “Serenity Prayer” poem by Reinhold Nieubuhr:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

The final goal of creating this new limited-edition candle was to ask people to stop and meditate when they light the candle. The objective is to make the moment so peaceful from the alluring aroma and candlelight that everyone could stop to collect themselves, say the “Serenity Prayer” and find that moment of calm.

SHOP THIS CANDLE NOW

More than Soap and Candles: Twenty Random Facts About the Maker

More than Soap and Candles - Twenty Random Facts About the Maker

I realized in 3 years of blogging about business, I have never actually written about myself. I like to think that anyone who is shopping with Scents the Moment is someone who is already quite conscientious about living a natural, healthy lifestyle and about caring for animals, so they would also be curious about the person who is crafting their products. Hey, I figure if my soap is hanging out in your shower, you should allow me to introduce myself – Hi, I’m Kristen Fusaro-Pizzo and I am honored to be a part of your morning routine!

Firstly, while I do credit Frank, my husband, as being co-owner, I am the one who does 99% of the product-making – with the rare occasion where Frank will help me mix some bath salts. That’s why this particular article is more about me – the one behind your candles and soap.

In no particular order, here are some facts about me:

  1. I was a complete nerd in high school and proud of it. I was one of the captains of the bowling team, one of the founders of mah-jongg club, and one of the editors of the yearbook – I even went to yearbook camp.  I now teach in the same high school where I was a student.
  2. I have read Macbeth at least 50 times and can recite random portions of it from memory.
  3. My all-time favorite Broadway musical was Rent. I was definitely a “Rent-head” all throughout college.
  4. My college major was English with a minor in Russian language and literature. My first master’s degree is in teaching secondary English, and my second master’s degree is in educational leadership.
  5. I have not traveled nearly as much as I would like to, but I have been to Russia and South Korea, both of which were really amazing.
  6. When I craft new soap recipes, I see the whole process backward in my head. I envision myself smelling my soap while in the shower and begin designing with that end moment in mind.
  7. My all-time favorite sitcom is The Golden Girls with The Goldbergs as a very close second. I prefer light comedy but have never missed an episode of Game of Thrones.
  8. I have no qualms about being a child-at-heart. I love Harry Potter, Disneyworld, The Little Mermaid, playdough, “Guess Who,” Super Nintendo… I’d rather be in Disneyworld than anywhere else on the planet.
  9. Despite being the head of a business network, business owner, and high school teacher, I am actually very much an introvert. I would pick alone-time or time with my pittie, Lucy, over anything else.
  10. It is my life’s goal to own a large dog rescue ranch where unwanted pit bulls can roam free and live out happy, healthy, loved lives. (All dogs would be welcome, I just have an affinity for pit bulls because they’re the underdog… pun intended.)
  11. I have absolutely no fear of public speaking but I am deathly afraid of rollercoasters.
  12. I like to identify as Slytherin, but my Pottermore told me I’m a Ravenclaw. I just can’t get down with that, though.
  13. My greatest dislikes are:
    1. People starting to eat before everyone has been seated or served.
    2. People who are too proud to admit mistakes or being wrong.
    3. People who lie to make themselves look better.
    4. People who are generally phony or unoriginal.
    5. Celery. Disgusting.
  14. I use all my reject products on myself. I am keenly aware of waste and it breaks my heart. I secretly judge people who don’t recycle.
  15. I am distinctly unlucky. I once picked all 5 numbers, in order, of the New York Pick-5 lotto… but never bought a ticket.  I bowled a 298 game after I was pulled out of a match.  I hit the 7-10 split spare in bowling but no one was around to see me do it.
  16. My all-time favorite food is pizza.
  17. I absolutely love teaching Grendel by Gardner, Macbeth (as you figured), Greek Mythology, and 1984 by Orwell. Teaching these works makes me so excited to go to work every morning.
  18. I have difficulty trying to complete one task at a time. This is a great source of anxiety for me as I am always working on multiple things at once and never feel accomplished. (I also never feel finished about anything, which creates more anxiety.) I actually believe my anxiety is both a detriment to my health and a core aspect of my success.
  19. If I had a million dollars, I would pay off my house, my parents’ house, my in-laws’ house, put money aside for my niece and nephew to go to college anywhere they want, and rescue more dogs. If I had any leftover… (which I probably wouldn’t, considering the price of college these days)… but if I did, I would put a down payment on a little soap shop by the water.
  20. My birthday is on Christmas. My Mom’s name is Mary. My father-in-law’s name is Joseph. I was born on a Sunday. Chew on that.

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

What is Ayurveda and Ayurvedic Herbal Medicine?

What is Ayurveda and Ayurvedic Herbal Medicine_

I have long been intrigued by Ayurveda and ancient Indian herbalist practices. My introduction to Ayurveda is actually one of the (many) reasons I chose to develop my own skincare; I just didn’t feel Western culture used enough of these practices in our own holistic health.

The main practice of Ayurveda is the balance between mind, body, and spirit. It is the belief that if all three are in balance, you will be healthy. It suggests that total wellness is a derivative of all aspects of the whole self, meaning that the root of medical ailments is not always solely physical. Another important aspect of Ayurveda is understanding the harmony in the universe; the belief that the whole universe, alive or dead, is all interconnected.

The Three Doshas of Ayurveda

In Ayurveda, it is understood that all humans are divided into five elements of the universe: space, air, fire, water, and earth.

As explained by WebMD: “These combine in the human body to form three life forces or energies, called doshas. They control how your body works. They are Vata dosha (space and air); Pitta dosha (fire and water); and Kapha dosha (water and earth).

Everyone inherits a unique mix of the three doshas. But one is usually stronger than the others. Each one controls a different body function. It’s believed that your chances of getting sick — and the health issues you develop — are linked to the balance of your doshas.”

Achieving Balance

Imbalance occurs when we have accrued too much of one specific dosha. Too much Vata dosha, which is the control of the basic body function, can lead to anxiety, heart disease, skin problem, arthritis. Too much Pita dosha are more likely to develop metabolic and gastrointestinal issues, high blood pressure, and infections. Too much Kapha dosha is usually shown through obesity, cancer, diabetes, nausea, as it is related to the main body system.

To achieve balance, Ayurvedic practices would teach us to follow these steps for a healthy, balanced life:

  • Eat foods that are mildly spiced. The best spices to use are cumin, turmeric, coriander, fennel, mint, asafetida (hing), black pepper, dried powdered ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne. These spices help aid in digestion and balanced eating.
  • Do not wait until you’re full to stop eating. Eat only until you are no longer hungry.
  • Drink water that is alkaline. You can use lemon or lime with deionized water (like Smart Water).
  • Use skincare products rich with real sandalwood and jasmine. This is one of the reasons we make our natural probiotic deodorant, It’s the Pits, with sandalwood powder.
  • Exercise moderately most days of the week. Practice yoga and deep-breathing exercises every day.
  • Read, study, or create at least once per week.
  • Spend time just being alone and quiet. No cell phone, no technology, no music. Try to walk through nature, like a park or beach, while practicing this mental clarity.
  • Build bonded relationships with people and animals. Give hugs and love!

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

Protecting the Honey Bee

Protecting the Honey Bee

As a certified cruelty-free and vegan company, we’re always looking for innovative ways to change the way classic products that have been made with animal ingredients into vegan options. We use candelilla wax instead of beeswax, fruit and vegetable fats instead of animal fats, natural sugars and essential oils instead of honey, etc..

In our progress, we have realized sustainability goes far beyond not using animal by-products and recyclable containers – it includes actively protecting all of Mother Earth’s creatures.   This feeling of responsibility has spanned across the country as more people become aware of agricultural problems.

In 2014, there was an outcry from beekeepers across the United States as dwindling bee colonies threatened the overall survival of bees. This continuous drop was deemed the “Beepocalypse.” In 2015, the government responded and got involved to create a “National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and other Pollinators.” Since then, there has been a huge uptick in the survival of honey bees, touting a 20-year national population increase.

So, what can you do?

You can start by planting a spring garden!  The best chance for honey bees to thrive is to have plants to draw nectar from.  For an even more thorough list of bee-friendly flowers, visit Beverly Bees’ website.

Scents the Moment - Save the Honey bees.png

Once you’ve planted your garden, it’s really important to allow your plants time to grow and flower. The flowers are the part of the plant that attracts honeybees.  They are attracted to bright colors, so planting the same bright plants together makes it even easier for honey bees to find.

From the Experts

I interviewed Igor Yakolev, owner of Beezy Beez Honey in Staten Island, New York.  Yakolev does everything when it comes to honey bees. From tending the hives, to harvesting honey, to infusing all types of products with honey, Yakolev is known as the local beekeeper of Staten Island.

According to Yakolev: ” To make honey bees thrive without having a beehive on your property is by planting honey bee friendly plants such as wildflower plants, clover plants, just to name a few. Do not use pesticides because that honey bee will bring it back to its home and can kill off that hive. Remember honey bees are quite docile towards people; if you leave them alone they will leave you alone.”

Beezy Beez Honey introduced an amazing hive-hosting program that is beneficial to both honey bees and your garden. You can host a home beehive on your property by contacting Igor Yakolev at beezybeezhoney@gmail.com. You can also find them on Facebook and Instagram.


Any steps you take toward protecting honey bees is a huge step in the right direction towards protecting all of Mother Nature.

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

New Name, New Logo, New Brand

STMlogo

It’s fitting for our business that 2018 is the year of the dog in the Chinese zodiac – the dog, this year, is the Earth element. As an Earth Dog year, we should expect groundedness, action, and regeneration. It’s especially symbolic for us as we embark on yet another rebranding journey.

Why are we rebranding?

When I start thinking about all the things that need to change to make our business fluid again, I ask myself this same question with frustration. The answer is simple: We now know where we want to go and who we want to serve. Our goal is to make our business more directed and focused on the beauty of the bath. Our aim is to simplify with a targeted focus on calm.

Why change our name?

Our previous names are really all part of our evolution. We started as “Candle Moments” in 2015 when we only made candles, then we evolved to “Bath, Body, Candle Moments” when we started incorporating the cosmetic aspect of our business, but our tagline has always been “Scents the Moment.” Interestingly enough, we always felt “Scents the Moment” was a much clearer representation of who we are: Creating scents for moments to make you sense the moment.

Can you explain the new logo?

We actually loved our previous logo, but not quite like this one which captures the full essence of our new name, but also incorporates the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is symbolic of our business, and hopefully resonates with our customers, in several ways:

  1. The Tree of Life represents our connectedness to Mother Earth and all of her creatures.
  2. It demonstrates our love, honor, and respect for all life forms as a dedicated vegan company.
  3. It symbolizes the beginning of humanity and how we, as humans, all share moments or experiences that transcend time and space.

What should customers expect during this transition?

During this transition to a new name, new logo, and new packaging, please expect the following:

  1. Delayed shipping times as we’re spending more time on graphic design work.
  2. More items being sold out for longer periods of time. As we build to create new packaging, our goal is to minimize our in-stock inventory – so, we won’t be adding new products until the others are sold.
  3. Old labels, business cards, and business literature. Most of these items were purchased previously in major bulk, and since our contact information has remained the same, we’re trying to reduce our carbon footprint by not throwing away all of the old marketing material.
  4. New packaging, eventually.
  5. Some downtime on the website as we work to update and upgrade.
  6. Outdated photographs of items until we get new photographs with our new packaging.

What if I am having a hard time adjusting to this change?

If there is anything we can do to make adjusting to our new business roll-out easier, please feel free to contact me by email at info@scentsthemoment.com.

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

Moments of Appreciation: A List of Daily Moments to Celebrate

Moments of Appreciation_

It can be so easy to get lost in our woes and stresses; they are truly overwhelming. I don’t know if it’s because I was raised in New York City, or if it’s because I’m naturally cynical, but I need to make a conscious effort to be mindful of positivity and gratitude. This weekend was my positive project. I specifically promised myself to release any negativity this weekend and to stop and appreciate little moments in my life.

I hope you will use my list of moments to remind you of the joy you have in your life or to be inspired to seek out joy.

The Positive Project – A Weekend of Gratitude in Little Moments

  • Sleeping late on Saturday! I wake up at 5am during the week to get to my day job, so sleeping-in to nearly 9am on Saturday was ahhhh-mazing! I felt so refreshed and joyful as I rose.
  • Photos from the dog park. Sometimes I go with my husband and Lucy (our pitbull), but Frank wanted to let me sleep on Saturday. Instead, I woke up to find texted photos of my goofy pup having the time-of-her-life at the dog park.
  • A clean house! I decided that my mental well-being was worth whatever money it would cost me to hire a housekeeper, and I did. She cleaned the whole house on Friday night and to wake up to a fresh, clean home just gave me such a sense of relief.
  • My whole attitude this weekend was lighter because I knew Monday was self-directed teacher day – no students and we get to spend the day working on our own curriculum/grading. What a relief knowing I don’t have to be “on.”
  • In the spirit of a clean house, I decided to tackle the laundry and the messy front hall. I went to the Container Store and bought a sliding-drawer stand for the front hall so people can put their shoes in drawers instead of piled on a shoe rack. There’s a drawer for mail, for Lucy’s walking supplies, and it just organized our entire hall.
  • I spent a lot of money eating out the previous two weeks, and both my wallet and bones were feeling it (always too much sodium in take-out). Frank and I spent Saturday cooking together. We made a big pot of fresh chicken-orzo soup, we made cauliflower-crusted pizza, and I baked chocolate chip cookies.
  • Perfectly green-yellow bananas! I order my groceries from Peapod and I almost never have a problem, but this time, the bananas they brought me were so green, they could compete with Kermit. I was annoyed because I knew even if I let them sit for a few days, what usually happens is they go from that green to black, but, they actually ripened perfectly. I love when the bananas aren’t mushy and still a tiny bit green, and it just made cereal so much better.
  • Grace and Frankie returned to Netflix! I love this show and binge-watched the whole season while cooking and cleaning this weekend.
  • A whole lot of nothing. I did not make soap, I did not grade papers, I did not do anything related to any of my jobs. I just enjoyed cuddling my husband and dog the whole weekend.
  • My Amazon packages came a day early! It’s not that I needed the products I bought that quickly (mostly stuff for Lucy), but I hate being stuck with the cardboard boxes for an extra week because our recycling day is Monday morning. Score for the clean-house!
  • I spent some time playing a computer game that I love. Wizard101 – It was made for kids, but lots of adults play it, also. It’s just fun to escape my own brain for a while.

It was a truly pleasant weekend filled with little moments that I appreciate. It’s just nice sometimes to not have to be obligated anywhere or to do anything. I firmly believe the more we let go of obligation, the more joy we can bring into our own lives.

The Moment My Heart Broke: The Power of Literature

 

The Moment My Heart Broke The Power of LiteratureWhen I read something I love, I read with a pen, with a fervor, with an impatience. I prefer paperback books so I can crease the binding. When I love a book, it looks battered and abused. In my lifetime, I have gone through four copies of Macbeth that have, quite literally, fallen apart on me. This year it was time for a replacement – the last one was about 9 years ago. I tried to save it with packing tape, glue, rubber-bands, but it was beyond repair. I love my books to their death.

One of the saddest moments of my life was moving from my parents’ house to my first apartment. My Dad had built shelves for every inch of my room so I was always surrounded by the books I read, blanketed by their hopes and dreams. When I had to move, there was no room for the books and my parents wanted to convert the room. I tried to sell them, give them away, donate them, but to no avail. I remember I placed an ad on Craiglist saying “free books” and I just left them out on a table on my front lawn. It was August. A whole day passed and it began to rain. I stood out there in the rain with my books as their words dripped from their pages, disappearing to only live in my mind. Homeless, lost; I was abandoning the pages that comforted me for my entire life.

I slumped into the grass and just cried. All around me, I watched the end of the wild things, of Desdemona, of Portia; I said goodbye to Heathcliff, Red Horse, and Sebastian. It was the dawn of a new era and the death of another.

Moving into that apartment without my books, I have never truly recovered. People have bought me books since then, but I quickly try to get rid of them or bring them with me to school because I will not make another home library again. I have this deep fear that I will have to abandon my books again someday and I just don’t think I could live through that kind of loss again.

As an English teacher by day, this is one of the hardest questions I receive. I usually throw my hands up and say that I don’t know, but this time, I am not allowing myself any excuses. What I simply cannot do is choose one of these books over the other because I love each of them for different reasons. What I guarantee is that each of these books has somehow cut me to the core, whether it was breaking my heart, relating to me at the time I needed it to, making me aware, or inciting other inspiration.

Here is “the list,” in no particular order:

  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  • The Tempest by William Shakespeare
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  • Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
  • The entire Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  • Grendel by John Gardner
  • As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  • From Good to Great by James C. Collins

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

 

I’m Just So Tired! Ways to Bring Energy into Your Life

I'm Just So Tired! Ways to Bring Energy into Your Life

It’s just about 3:00pm, you stare at the clock, an hour passes by for it to turn to 3:01pm. You’re exhausted. All you can think about is heading straight for your couch, your cozy socks, and a warm cup of tea. The mid-afternoon slump.

Or your alarm starts blazing. It’s 5:00am – time to get up and shower, walk the dog, or go for a run. You hit snooze – nine more minutes will do the trick. Ten seconds later and your alarm is ringing again. The morning slump.

It’s Friday at 9:30pm and your friends want to go out for a drink. You contemplate the idea of getting dressed – for the second time today – and actually leaving your house. You send a text – “I’m not feeling well.” This white lie saves you again. The evening slump.

If any of the above sounds like you, you’re pretty much in the same boat as 2.77 million Americans.

Infographic: Americans Are Tired Most Of The Week | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista

What is making us so tired?

Most Americans report not having the opportunity to sleep at least 7 hours, which is the new recommended rate for most adults according to the National Sleep Foundation. While we all know that getting enough sleep is a priority, sometimes we still need an extra boost to get us into quality sleep.

Get Some Quality Rest

  1. Try reading 30 minutes before bedtime. The process of your eyes scanning a page creates mental exhaustion, which may be exactly what you need to get you to sleep.
  2. Lavender essential oil, of course! Pure lavender essential oil has linalyl acetate, which is a naturally occurring phytochemical found in different plant species. Linalyl acetate is the essence of the oil which scientifically calms the nervous system to produce relaxing feelings. This is exactly why we named our Lavender and Chamomile blend “Rest Easy” and one of the main reasons we’re obsessed with lavender oil.
  3. Wash your sheets and blankets and take a bath before bedtime. The calming sensation of warm water (and even better if there’s lavender in your bath) helps to relax muscles and release tensions. The clean sheets and blankets mentally calm you because cleanliness gives us a sensation of being organized, which our brain needs to calm down (who can relax with chaos around them?).

If you’re already starting to incorporate quality rest into your life, there are some other techniques to give you some energy throughout your day.

Give Me a Quick Pick-Me-Up

  1. Reduce the number of refined carbohydrates and sugars in your diet. Unless you’re about to do a serious workout, carbs, when digested, become glucose, glucose spikes the production of insulin, and while it creates a temporary feeling of energy, that quickly becomes a crash as your body tries to regulate its blood sugar levels. Reducing your carb and sugar intake helps to level your blood sugar, which creates a steady stream of energy throughout the day. Some excellent low-carb snacks – cheese sticks, nuts, coconut milk, avocados.
  2. Bright, cheery essential oils can help you feel energized as well. Rosemary, peppermint, orange, lemongrass, lemon, eucalyptus, and grapefruit are great for a burst of energizing air. You can diffuse these oils, use products with these oils, but never put the oils directly on your body. You must blend the oils with a carrier oil before putting it on your body! A safe ratio is 1 drop of essential oil per 10 drops of carrier oil. Excellent carrier oils include jojoba, coconut (liquid – also known as MCT ), sweet almond, sunflower, and more. *Important note – Citrus essential oils are phototoxic, meaning they can cause burning in the sun. If you plan on being exposed to sunlight, do not use a citrus oil blend on your skin.
  3. Increase your circulation with some moves! If you’re feeling a slump, try to do a couple of jumping jacks, walk up stairs, or anything that gets your heart pumping. When your heart pumps extra blood and increases circulation, you bring oxygen to your brain, giving you some quick energy.
  4. Get cold! Just like warmth makes us cozy and sleepy, brisk and chilly wakes us up. Open a window, go outside, decrease the temperature in the room if you want everyone awake. (My students always state how chilly my classroom is, but this is exactly why I keep the room comfortably chilly, to keep everyone’s attention.)
  5. As always, get hydrated. Our brain function slows down when even if we’re slightly dehydrated. We should be drinking half our body weight in ounces of water every day, but if that’s too much, grab yourself a cold bottle of water to help wake you up. Add a spritz of lemon or lime for the essence of citrus (see #2) plus the hydration!

What are some tips you have for grabbing energy?

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

Appreciate the Grease that Got You Here

Appreciate the Grease that Got You Here

For all the cooking I do, I did not own a cast-iron skillet. I must have mentioned this to my mother in passing because, in maternal tradition, she, like her mother did before her, and my grandmother’s grandmother did before her, presented me with a beautiful cast-iron skillet for Christmas this year. I was so excited! In our family, a cast-iron skillet is the purest form of cooking craftsmanship. The person who can truly master this beast is the understood, albeit unproclaimed, chef.

Last night I decided to whip it out for the first time. I hand-washed it, dried it, covered the bottom in extra virgin olive oil (and I add dried spices like thyme, rosemary, and basil), placed it in the oven, and let it drip-bake off for an hour. After, I pulled it out again, gave it a good washing, and prepared to make my cauliflower rice-and-mozzarella stir-fry.

When I was done with cooking, Frank, my husband, came over the skillet and looked horrified at all the crusty pieces that had browned the skillet. “You ruined the skillet your Mom gave you!” I looked over at the skillet and knew it wasn’t ruined, it was seasoned.

That’s when it struck me. In the New Year, we’re so focused on the shiny and new, whether it’s the new gifts we receive or the new promises we make to ourselves, that we don’t look deeply at what brought us there.

2017 was a rough year for me. I suffer(ed) from depression, I gained weight, I lost touch with friends, I struggled with my career, I made business decisions that I wouldn’t make again – I burnt out. For every metaphorical and clinical determination of the words, I sincerely burnt out. I lost myself inside of myself.

This week was the first opportunity I gave myself to actually relax. I read, I cooked and baked, I finally cleaned my house, I made soap, I spent time with my family and my dog. Despite breaking out with some crazy rash that made me look like a red crocodile, I allowed myself to just be. I refused “opportunities,” I said no, I stayed home, I made a planner, and I’m working on a vision board.

I realized I am not unlike my cast-iron skillet. I have grease that won’t wash off, stains from my past, but beneath it – or better yet – because of it all, I am a cast-iron skillet.

While I am not one for resolutions, because real change takes real time, I am all about being reflective and I decided that the grease is what got me here. Of course, I have made mistakes, and I would chalk it off to being human, but it’s so much more than that. I don’t believe we ever conscientiously make the mistakes we do, we do what we think is best for our happiness at that moment in time.

What we need to realize is that the grease, our choices, are all part of the composition of ourselves. Sometimes they weren’t right, but I think it’s more like our wiser selves seeing a new picture because of that grease. Without it, we would just be a shiny, new cast-iron skillet with no flavor, no culture, no essence of being.

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