Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why I washed my face with oil

I think I have officially crossed into a full-fledged "crunchy" person. And I am loving it.

I'm always looking for more frugal, chemical free ways to live. I'm not an alarmist who immediately threw out all of my old beauty products when I found out about the chemicals in them. I've been gradually switching out my products over the course of several months. I've switched my soap & shampoo and numerous other toiletries. I'll get into what specific products I've been using in another post, but my main product right now is Kirk's Castile Soap, a super cheap soap with no yucky ingredients. I use it for washing my hands, body, face and even for shaving. One time I was desperate and used it as a shampoo, which worked pretty well also. 

Although my skin has cleared up SO much, I feel like pregnancy has made it dull and dry. I haven't been able to find a reasonably priced, chemical-free facial moisturizer either.

I was browsing the archives of Simple Mom, one of the many blogs I frequent when I came across a post for the oil cleansing method. That's right. Cleaning your skin with oil. Before you swear off my blog, please read this post and my comments below on how it worked for me.

Instructions on how to do this are on the link I posted above. It's basically a combination of castor oil and olive oil. My skin has been so unbelievably dry (and I didn't have any castor oil at home) that I actually used pure olive oil. I'm such a believer in the oil cleansing method that I'm going to buy some castor oil as soon as I have a chance for a deeper clean (castor oil is supposed to draw out dirt and unclog pores).

I thought it would feel weird and greasy, but the more I rubbed it in, the more luxurious it felt. My skin was just drinking it up saying, "Please never dehydrate me again!" After a quick steam with a washcloth, I just used the same washcloth to wipe the oil off of my face. I did have to rinse off the washcloth a few times and gently re-wipe portions of my face, but in the end I didn't feel greasy AT ALL.

a chemical-free facial
softer, smoother, flake-free skin
inexpensive (I dipped two fingertips in olive oil, and that covered my entire face)
smelling like an Italian restaurant for a couple of minutes (this may be a minus for you, but it                      
made me really happy...and started a craving for Italian bread with herbs)

Minuses: none

I seriously cannot stop touching my face.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Being a Good Steward, Part 1: Money

Stewardship: 1. responsibly managing the resources within one's control: can refer to environment, money, time, etc.; 2. a virtue intended to make one feel guilty for buying a $4.00 cup of coffee that comes in a non recyclable cup in the drive-thru while having the car running and the A/C on high.

I used to focus so much on what I lacked in: money, talent, etc. Recently I feel like a veil has been lifted and I can see how abundantly blessed I am instead of what I am lacking. This realization has come with the responsibility I know have of being a good steward of all I have been given, no matter how big or small the amount.

Not to brag, but I am very bad at many, many things. Dancing, reaching things on the top shelf, initiating small talk, leaving voice mails, playing tennis and (according to my husband) loading the dishwasher - just to name a few. I can live with these failures.

Making a budget and sticking with it should not be something I fail at doing. The way I deal with money impacts my family immensely in the long and short term, not to mention being irresponsible with it is a slap in the face to my husband who works so incredibly hard. We have lived by certain money rules for awhile that have kept us from getting in trouble, the main one being to use credit cards like they are debit cards and to pay all of our bills on time. We're good at this rule. Our credit score is awesome. Too bad this is only step one of being good stewards of our money.

Every time we tried to establish a budget we either disagreed about nearly everything, failed to make the budget realistic, or just didn't stick with it. I think a lot of this was my attitude towards the Big Scary Budget. I would try and approach it with my head held high, but would quickly run away with my tail between my legs, crying in a corner while emotionally eating a Chicken Biscuit from McDonald's (which was not in the budget). The budget would blow up in a scene similar to this:

Chris and I recently attempted to tackle the BSB again, this time with much success. We agreed on almost everything. After clearing that hurdle, the next one was fast approaching - sticking with the given budget. As the end of the month comes near, I see that I did an OK job. I have a lot of fine tuning to do over the next few months, including finding a way to organize and keep track of everything more efficiently (If you have a system for budgeting that you use, please share in the comments below!)

In the past, every time I couldn't do the budget perfectly, I would quit. Right now my methods are probably laughable, but they are working. We're well on the way towards our main goals of saving like crazy, living below our means and giving to charity/tithing every single month.

It has been difficult to change. The tough thing about realizations is that they call one to action, to make tough changes. However, I shudder at the thought of being one of those people who remains stagnant, never growing or learning, always struggling with the same thing. I think I'd choose painful inner growth spurts over being stagnant any day.

Now I'm going to go turn off the lights in the other room and maybe crank the AC from 72 to 75. Hey, I'm a work in progress.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The private life

Ever heard the phrase "Dance like nobody is watching?" likely implying to be free, uninhibited. I'd rather dance only when nobody is watching.

I've had to take those Myers-Briggs personality tests for one thing or another since high school. Sometime around the middle of college, the results bar shifted from full on extrovert to slight extrovert and finally tipping the scales to the introvert side. I don't know if I've always enjoyed the privacy of both my personal space and innermost thoughts this much, or if I'm just realizing it now.

Example- I go on campus one day a week for class. My class is boring, but I love to learn. This may sound odd, but I also find it a bonus that I don't know anyone on campus. At the beginning of the semester, I got there an hour early, found a parking space and headed to the cafe to satisfy an intense craving for a cheeseburger and fries. I enjoyed ordering my greasy burger and paying for my substandard service because I could do so with sweet anonymity. I would slip into a chair at a small table and stick my nose into a book until class began.

Then one horrible day, I hear my name. Don't panic, Nicole is a common name. I pull myself from the world world of Anne of Green Gables and see a vaguely familiar face hovering above my once private table. We exchanged the typical pleasantries. However, instead of saying hi and moving on, she proceeded with a full blown conversation. A long one. It wasn't an easy conversation either - this person was a casual acquaintance primarily in middle school and the beginning of high school. I never knew what to say to her back then, and our ten year absence from each hadn't remedied that. At the end of the awkwardness (or so I thought), she proceeded to tell me her schedule (I don't know why - were we supposed to hang out now even though we never, ever have before?) and then said four awful words: "See you next week." As she walked away, I felt my chest tighten. All I wanted was 30 minutes a week to read my children's book and dunk my fries in barbecue sauce laden with high fructose corn syrup in peace. I felt like I had been robbed.

I'm not anti-social, I just feel like I need extra time to recharge and process. I love spending time with family and friends. I feel invigorated after having a good conversation. I'm really open in small groups and with people I know. However, large gatherings with lots of small talk drain me. In college, I would get really excited about parties and then feel really anxious to go home after 30 minutes. Then I needed hours to unwind from the taxing activity of standing there holding a drink in my hand, trying to think of something intelligent to say. I think it took me 20 years to realize that fatigue I felt after social gatherings was from trying to be a lot more extroverted than I am.

If you disagree with me because you've had a conversation with me where I would not stop talking, I was either a) really passionate about our conversation b) very comfortable with you c) hopped up on caffeine.

Of course, sharing my feelings on the internet may not seem like a very "introverted" thing to do, but a blog is in fact an introvert's best friend. It gives an outlet in an extremely controlled space. I can premeditate everything I'm about to say, and then hit delete whenever I want. If only real life worked the same. Until it does, I can be found reading Anne of Green Gables in my car while eating a lunch I packed at home.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mothering Instincts and Queso

I think the mothering instincts are kicking in.

On the way home from my six month check up (baby is doing awesome, by the way), I decided to fulfill the craving I had been having for two days for Chik fil a. (As an almost vegetarian before this pregnancy, I sure think about meat an awful lot lately. I dreamed last weekend about bacon followed by another dream two days after that about hamburgers.) I had this manic craving for a chicken sandwich that had to be fulfilled. I sat in traffic forever before I almost made it to that blessed chicken store when I got diverted by -Izzo's. I pulled a sharp right turn into the parking lot. The chicken sandwich gradually danced out of my thought bubble to be replaced by fabulous, gooey nachos. Yum. I haven't had an overwhelming amount of pregnancy cravings, but I've been having them more recently. Also, I hadn't eaten a long time. Pregnancy + cravings + manic hunger = this story.

I ordered the nachos to go, but when I got in the car I realized that home was nearly 30-40 minutes away. So I ate just a few to satisfy my rumbling tummy (and then a few more.....and a few more) and headed on the road. I placed the queso in the passenger seat next to me. I was about 25 minutes into the drive that I realized that every time I braked, I protectively shot out my hand to save the queso. Whenever there was a lull in traffic, I found myself lovingly rearranging the queso so that it didn't tip over.

Sometimes I worry about what kind of mother I'm going to be. If I care about my kid as much as I cared about that queso, I think I'm going to be okay. Especially if my baby is particularly delicious.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Modesty, thoughts on being a "prude" and the New Feminism

I've seen lots of posts on Catholic blogs, articles and message boards on modesty. I've heard so many different views on modesty including but not limited to the following babble: "pants are immodest, skirts are fine, pants are fine if not too tight, skirts should only be below the knee, you shouldn't wear sleeveless, it's a man's problem if he can't avert his eyes, if you've got it - flaunt it, no skin two fingers below the collarbone, cleavage is fine, cleavage is the devil, breasts are for breastfeeding - get over it, no ankles, no wrists, nudity is the best option because it defies our over sexualized culture, elbows are too sexy to be seen," etc, etc.

The discussion gets extremely ridiculous.

However, all of these comments and views have one huge thing in common - they all focus on modesty in regards to clothing (or lack thereof). Although I have a loose outline for myself in dressing modestly that continually evolves over time, I'm not going to discuss that aspect at all in this post because I think people are missing the picture that how we dress is only one aspect of modesty.

 Lately, I've been getting a strong feeling of anger/embarrassment after different situations and I couldn't figure out why. I was trying to chalk it all up to pregnancy hormones, but in the end my husband cracked the code. I won't get into details, but there was a situation that ended up with me in tears, feeling angry, embarrassed and ashamed all at the same time. Originally I thought I was upset just because of something someone said to me that I thought was really inappropriate, but in then end I realized I was more mad at myself. I had said something that opened the door for the aforementioned comment. I started thinking that if I had acted and spoken like a lady, then I would have been treated as such and the person probably never would have said what they did.

I've been doing lots of reflecting and praying on being a mother lately. Chris pointed out that it made sense that I felt the way I did since I had been focusing so much on motherhood and modesty lately. (by modesty here, I mean how I present myself in general, not just dress). I've always really struggled with balance in this area. A lot of my friends know me as candid, but that doesn't mean I need to be known as crass. I think for awhile I thought this meant that I needed to be closed off, but that would be against my personality (and being "closed off" isn't a reflection of modesty either.) If my gift is to be honest and forthright about things, I can still do so modestly.

For example: I think one thing a lot of Catholics are afraid to talk about (or think that they are supposed to be afraid to talk about) is sex. And we shouldn't be afraid to talk about it...modestly. Talking specifically about what goes on behind closed doors or participating in the vulgar "street talk" about sex? No. Talking about it as a beautiful sacrament, an important component of marriage and something that can be so holy? Yes.

The following comment is not a stab at anyone in particular. I'm sure most people thought nothing of it, I'd just like to address it. Last October, many women on facebook posted their bra color without explicitly saying what it was (Their statuses would say "blue lace" and that's it.) It drove a lot of guys crazy until they cracked the code on why all of their female friends were posting colors as their statuses. It made me a little uncomfortable at the time so I didn't participate, but I had no idea why. Call me a prude. By the way, all of this was in the name of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

This October I got another message informing me of this year's little "trick" for the women of facebook: posting in your status where you put your purse when you get home by saying "I like it on the______" and naming where you normally place your purse. It is undeniably meant to imply something else. I really wanted to not be a weirdo and to think it was funny like everyone else did, but I was really taken aback and immediately thought that I was just being an old lady again. Then I had that little moment where I imagined how I would feel if I posted it. My feelings were much clearer this time - I would feel immodest.

At the same time, I completely understand why a woman would post this. I've dressed and acted immodestly before (extremely and "sort of" immodestly at different times in my life) and I understand the range of reasons from wanting to be provocative to not really understanding how I was being immodest. I also understand this isn't an extreme case of immodesty. A male friend of mine posted this as his status in response "Hey ladies I'm sure there's better ways of spreading breast cancer awareness than making sexual innuendos." He followed this by giving links to Breast Cancer Awareness organizations and a guide to doing a self-breast exam.

I don't think that people's facebook statuses need to be something explicitly, consciously "holy". I don't think being a modest woman is at all about being mild, weak or quiet. I think women are allowed to be strong and vocal pillars. However, I think the way secular feminism is trying to accomplish this is backwards. I don't think defying puritanical sexual repression by being sexual explicit is constructive. This isn't just a "religious" thing either. Aristotle wrote extensively about virtue with one of his main points being balance. As a plug for a later post, read up on the New Feminism, which I think employs this idea of balance exceptionally well. Here's a brief introduction:

"The New Feminism rejects the temptation of imitating models of 'male domination' in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation...[John Paul II calls] women to value their "feminine genius" as mothers and caregivers as well as their participation in politics and economics. He describes the 'feminine genius' as including empathy, interpersonal relations, emotive capacity, subjectivity, communication, intuition and personalization."

In short, being modest or virtuous in general doesn't mean being serious and prudish with no laughter in your life. Before you call someone a prude, think about this...Doesn't the word prude stem from prudent? I'm pretty sure that's a virtue, thanks. If that's your best insult, I think you're wise. Take that.