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Homemade Lavender Cuticle Balm

Ingredients for Homemade Lavender Cuticle Balm

Ingredients for Homemade Lavender Cuticle Balm

Blame my Vata tendencies, but, I have notoriously dry cuticles, usually all year, but particularly in the winter. I have used a number of commercial cuticle creams and balms, which work okay, but, I don’t like ingredients like read like a chemistry test. Also, as someone who wavers between vegetarian and vegan tendencies, I also don’t care for products that have been made from an animal based product or tested on animals. Since I make so many of the products I use and consume, I decided to make my own.

I just happened to have a leftover container from a commercial product, that I cleaned out and measured how much volume it could hold…not much – roughly 2.25 teaspoons. The recipe I used below fits this container perfectly. If you have a larger container or wish to make a larger batch, this can be doubled or tripled.

Cruelty-Free Lavender Cuticle Balm

3/4 tsp Candelilla Wax
3/4 tsp Coconut Oil
3/4 tsp Shea Butter
1/8 tsp Vitamin E Oil
5 drops of Lavender Essential Oil

Homemade Lavender Cuticle Balm

Homemade Lavender Cuticle Balm

In a double boiler, add the candelilla wax, shea butter, vitamin e and the coconut oil until thoroughly melted, making sure to not scorch the blend. Add lavender essential oil and stir until all ingredients are completely blended. Pour into heatproof container and let sit until cooled. This will harden fairly quickly. The cuticle balm was ready to use in less than half of an hour, but, it could take longer depending on the room temperature and how large of a batch you made. If you increase this recipe, take note that Candelilla wax tends to be a harder wax than beeswax, so you may want to decrease the quantities if you double or triple this recipe.

It smells delightful, has soothing ingredients and is cruelty-free, which is important to me. This container is also small enough to pop into my purse so that can easily reapply throughout the day.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.


Live/Love: Ten ways to live holistically every day

Here are ten suggestions for living a holistic lifestyle.

1) Live with Intention – live mindfully.
2) Embrace your inner wisdom – trust your instincts.
3) Inspire the world around you – be the person you aspire to be.
4) Share your journey – reach out to others.
5) Express your emotions – don’t bottle them up.
6) Move your body – relieves stress and makes you feel good.
7) Be the change – advocate for what you believe in.
8) Seek possibility – even in trying times there is always the possibility of choice.
9) Explore your passions – explore your creativity, embrace nature.
10) Love – open your heart

Music: “Green Grass of Tunnel” by Múm

Movement is the best medicine for lower back pain

In my mid-twenties, I had what I disparagingly call my “farm accident.” I was tilling my tiny urban garden and one of the wheels fell off. Since I always struggled to start the darn thing, I figured I wouldn’t turn it off, but, prop it up with my one hip, grab the wheel and pop it back on and make sure the pin was in place so it wouldn’t fall off again. While doing this, I felt something pull in my right lower back, and radiate out to my hip. I ended up finishing my task and I went into my house, took some ibuprofen and crawled into bed.

Weeks turned into months and the pain simply would not go away, in fact, it got worse. I was at a concert and had to walk up a set of stairs to get to the rest room. I was in tears by the top of the steps. The next day, I made an appointment with my local doctor and they did an x-ray of the area and didn’t “see” anything. The doctor hypothesized that I had arthritis (at 27) and gave me some muscle relaxers. They didn’t really make the pain go away, they just made me care less. I don’t care for taking any more medication than I have to, so I decided I needed to try something else.

For the first time in my life I visited a chiropractor. Through x-rays they discovered that my first and second lumbar discs were not the usual “pie shape” but more flattened, and my right hip was higher and pushed forward of my left hip – so essentially twisted. While the chiropractor did alleviate some of the pressure, I still had a tremendous amount of pain and it felt like I had a persistent knot in my lower right back. I went for treatment for about six months and I finally gave up on the chiropractor because it got to a point where I wasn’t in significant pain any more, but it also wasn’t making it better.  (It didn’t make it worse, either.)

Struggling on and off for a couple of years, I resorted to ibuprofen, random chiropractor trips, and massage – I simply wasn’t getting the relief I needed. I had read about how wonderful Pilates was for strengthening your core muscles and I began doing Pilates at home with a VHS tape. (Yes, this was some time ago.) It was a simple mat Pilates workout that had two 20 minute sets. I started out doing it about 2 -3 times a week, then I slowly increased it to a daily practice. After about three months, I started to realize that my back pain has subsided. The further I got into my Pilates practice, I noticed not only did my back not hurt, but my body was also leaner and stronger. It seemed counterintuitive at the time, but, I knew it made the difference for me.

I walk, run, lift weights, and practice both Pilates and yoga now. My back pain, while still present, is not overly significant and I now see a chiropractor on a regular basis for maintenance. My back is in the best shape it has ever been.

There is a great video on YouTube by Dr. Mike Evans. He talks about movement and back pain. It is very thorough and explains why “motion is lotion” and one of the best treatments for lower back pain. I hope that you will consider trying a safe exercise routine to help alleviate your lower back pain rather than resorting to medication only.

As always, please consult your doctor before doing any new form of exercise.




Five Things I Learned After Having Major Surgery

Gently handled flower

Stock photo from

I have a very rare form of cancer called a neuroendocrine tumor. It started in my pancreas, so I am known in the medical world as a PNET. It’s actually the same kind of cancer that Steve Jobs had. Even though it tends to be slow growing, it is a devastating disease with some patients having massive symptoms throughout their illness. I have lost many friends to this disease, so it is not something to take lightly or a benign illness as many in the medical community incorrectly believe.

I was diagnosed when I was 37, relatively young for the disease and had major surgery to remove the tumor from the tail of my pancreas, a bunch of positive lymph nodes and my spleen, which had been damaged by the tumor blocking the splenic vein. Even though I was told this surgery would be curative, the disease spread to my liver in less than a year after that surgery.

Even though I was offered a liver resection early on, I resisted having surgery as my first one was so complicated and was able to manage my disease for a number of years. Six years after that initial surgery, I underwent a second surgery to remove a portion of my liver and my gallbladder. Even though my second surgery was “easier” and without complications, I still had a significant amount of pain post-surgery that lasted for far longer than my doctors or I anticipated.

Here’s a few of the things I have learned throughout my journey.

  1. Get moving!
    The most important things you can do after surgery is to get exercise. You will hurt, it will suck, but it will get you on the road to recovery much faster. Choose a low impact sport – gentle yoga, water aerobics or walking. My personal choice is walking, as it a great way to get moving. My first walk after being released from the hospital was 40 minutes long….to go around my city block. It was slow. I took breaks. When I got home, I napped for two hours. But, it gave me such a strong sense of accomplishment. There is nothing like feeling like you can tell cancer to go eff itself.
  2. Eat like you give a damn!
    Even though you are recuperating and a bag of Chips Ahoy sounds like the perfect soul food, try to resist. I’m not saying you don’t deserve to treat yourself, but, your body will heal faster and more thoroughly if you are eating better. If you don’t have much of an appetite, healthy smoothies or juices made from veggies (and some fruit) are a great way to nourish your body, without taxing it.
  3. Take your meds!
    I’m not a fan of surgery, let alone prescription drugs, but, at some point they are necessary, even my naturopath and acupuncturist agree. Don’t be a martyr, if you need pain relief, do yourself a favor. If you have run out and still it pain, make that call to your doctor’s office and get a new script. It will give your body the extra time to rest and heal.
  4. Keep in contact!
    If you are like me, you’d rather cocoon and hide away from the world. Your friends and family are seriously concerned about you and have your best interests in mind. When they call, try to pick up the phone and talk, even if it is only for a few minutes. They will understand. When they text or email, get back to them with a quick note. If you need help with anything, and I mean anything, like maybe someone to walk with you or help you prepare food or take care of your pets, do not be afraid to ask. People will be grateful that you asked them and allowed them to help you during this time.
  5. Be gentle with yourself!
    If you are not recovering as fast as you expected, don’t beat yourself up about it. We all heal differently and some of us require more downtime. Take extra time off from work, or if you must go back, see if you can do a reduced schedule while you regain your strength. Don’t compare yourself to previous surgeries or even those of friends. Pamper yourself in a way that makes you feel great – maybe it’s a pedicure or massage. I have had wonderful Reiki and other forms of energy work during these times and have had significant shifts in energy and more importantly my emotional space.

While I sincerely hope that you will never have to experience any radical surgery, I hope that my handful of tips will help you or a loved one navigate this journey in a meaningful way.