Winter Solstice

When winter approaches I typically find myself in a constant state of excitement and stress. Stress as I try to make plans with my family for the holidays, striving to make sure everyone is happy. Excitement for the cozy sweaters and soft music in the mornings, seeing all the people I love in one place and the barrage of holidays to celebrate in a short amount of time. (If you know me my birthday counts as a holiday, I’m just saying!) But each year I try to spend more attention on the things that are enriching instead of “door-busters” and Black Friday sales. I prefer to give homemade gifts and make big meals with my partner for our favorite people.

However more recently I’ve been embracing the coming winter and what it offers me spiritually, by being still, specifically on December 21st, the Winter Solstice.

We all know it’s the shortest day of the year but that’s not all. December 21st typically goes unobserved as it sits in the shadow of Christmas day. But what many of us don’t know is some of our favorite Christmas traditions originated as ways to celebrate the Winter Solstice like hanging a wreath on your door, decorating an evergreen tree and sitting by the fire with family.

Try this: Instead of buying a wreath this year, go outside with your family in nature and have each person pick a branch from an evergreen tree. Arrange them in a circle and tie them together as a symbol of family unity. However you celebrate with your loved ones don’t forget to spend some time with yourself.

The word Solstice loosely translates as “standing sun.” In other words, the position of this celestial body is no longer visually progressing toward the longest or shortest day of the year but rather appears to be temporarily stationary. I see it as a time to pause, take note and observe something larger than myself. Because we are experiencing ample darkness (specifically in the northern hemisphere) on this day, one way I plan on honoring the cycle is to meditate. Meditation is an inward act, just as winter encourages us to spend more time indoors. So this Winter Solstice I advise you to do the following:

Find a quiet space either in your home or out in nature where you feel at peace. If outside, watch as the sun sets on the shortest day of the year and really be present in your thoughts. Write a poem, sing a song or just simply express gratitude in whatever form of creativity that suits you. If you’re indoors for the Solstice, grab a candle and a comfy seat. Turn off the lights and take a few moments in meditation or reflection. Spend some time acknowledging the year that’s past with acceptance of the journey and its highs and lows. When you’re ready open your eyes, light the candle and shift your thoughts to the future. This is a good time to grab a journal, focus on the light as the candle burns and write down your intentions for the coming year.

To amplify those energies you can use aromatics like incense, oils or even teas in the scents of cedar, spruce, pine, cinnamon and clove (my go-to tea during this time of year is called Winter Solstice from Peet’s Coffee). If you’re into Crystals like me, I recommend using garnet, onyx, rose or crystal quartz and chrysocolla either during meditation, placed on your altar or carrying them on your person throughout this seasonal transition. Regardless of how you celebrate remember to center yourself, show gratitude and share the love this Winter Solstice.

(Source: Crystal Bible by Judy Hall)

Turmeric Takeover

I began actively seeking out turmeric after I became a mother. My body went through a very painful and drastic state that left me quite out of balance. My high risk pregnancy was quite the affair, the delivery was a grand production, followed by a prolonged hospital stay due to a septic vessel experiencing several surgeries, a night in the ICU and 8 transfusions. Needless to say, but I am saying it;  I had to take a proactive approach into helping my body recover at every level possible. My hemoglobin count was low, I was dealing with poor autoimmune responses while trying to produce breast milk and stay on top of all my other obligations and responsibilities. I wouldn’t call it failing speaking on my own behalf, but that is the best description I can offer at the moment.

This tropical golden root spice has so much to offer that it’s nearly impossible for us not to want to work it into our personal self-care routines.  Powerful healing properties are encased within cucurmin, the active element that gives turmeric its divine coloring and provides cell protection that makes the root such a sacred commodity.  The uses are multitudinous – allergies, depression, cancer, gut health, muscle aches and hyperpigmentation just to literally name a few. Again, you can thank curcumin for its strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant features.

This powerful cousin to ginger has the ability to heal and change lives. But only if we use it wisely, and vet our sources. Turmeric can be found just about anywhere – but a good product knows not only how to provide but also to advise. For instance, black pepper aids in the absorption of the compound; which is extremely important since Turmeric metabolizes in your body very rapidly. I wish we could give you better recommendations, but as always get professional advice when healing and treating your body. But we are absolutely not going to leave this blog without some great ways to take in magic:


1. Drink it!

  • For those that have a serious tree nut allergy, I got you. The nut free vegan has a spicy recipe that tastes a bit like a chai tea latte. Love nuts? Try this recipe with almond milk http://thenutfreevegan.net/turmeric-golden-milk/ . Also, insider mom tip; I mixed my milk or formula with chamomile and turmeric on fussy nights and the result for my little was heavenly.

2. Pills

  • On days where my body feels sluggish, nauseous and bloated, I go right to my capsules. I did purchase a brand from the grocer, however when this bottle is out I will be going for something I make at home so that I have less fillers and more of the good stuff.

3. Face Mask!?

  • Let me tell you, you may not need to see an esthetician’s ever again. Try mixing turmeric, greek yogurt and honey into a thick sticky paste when your face humid feeling hot and inflamed. It will cool it down and the honey will cleanse any bacteria away. Want to level down your fancy? Simply purified water and turmeric mixed into a paste can wipe away dry skin and hyperpigmentation in as few as 5 days.

4. Savory recipes

  • Potatoes can be eaten anytime of the day and year. Enough said.

https://ascensionkitchen.com/turmeric-roasted-potatoes/

5. Teeth Cleaning!

  • Not only can it whiten your teeth, it can enhance your gums and enamel! I haven’t tried this yet but I promise when my activated charcoal toothpaste is gone, I am going take a walk on the wild side and deviate from my plans to see if this really works. Surveys say that it’s tried and true!
  • making your own simply takes baking soda, high grade turmeric and great coconut oil.

Try these and share! Hashtag #bloomingdreamers

Get to Know the Cofounders

It’s time to collaborate with someone when you are amazed by one another’s genius. There’s a lot of ground to cover and on that journey, beautiful, amazing things will happen. Whether it’s a vacation, cooking for your families, resting on the beach or working together on life-changing contributions, it takes labors of love to fulfill these experiences. So what else would the end result be, if not serendipitous? 

We are soul sisters who met through an unlikely love affair that occurred on a small island of the Pacific coast. Just kidding, it was not as scandalous a story –  we had a friend we shared in common. Our journey began bussing the number 51 from the neighborhood and landing at our first jobs together – which shall remain nameless since they did us no favors.

The rest was beautiful history and now we are manifesting destiny.

Through thoughtful words and vivid imagery, we are researching what it takes to care for your body inside and out; all so you can find restorative therapy in getting back to the basics of healing and growing.

Love,
Akilah & Isabel

Autumn Vibes

Fall is the feast for the eyes and the belly

Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I prefer a warm breeze blowing through my sundress over boots and beanies any day but there’s something to be said about the transitional, equalizing energy of autumn that rejuvenates me. The trees come alive as they change colors from vibrant mustard to coral fire red, the air is fresh and brisk in the rain – oh it’s so romantic when it rains! Fall is the feast for the eyes and the belly. This time of year I encourage you to slow down, take it all in and be mindful of how you’re honoring yourself and the change in seasons.

There are so many things you can do to tap in but here are a few of my favorites:

1. Document the change. Take that old dusty camera out of your drawer, lose the iPhone and spend the day photographing the exciting visuals of fall. If you live by the coast or in a place where there aren’t many deciduous trees, take a drive inland and spend the day in another city.

2. Autumn is all about introspection. We prepare for the darker half of the year by initiating projects that keep us indoors like knitting, carving wood or writing. These kinds of projects are essentially an exercise at sorting your thoughts and feelings and checking in with yourself. Enjoy the fruits of your labor by learning a new skill and creating something beautiful.

3. Eating what’s in season. I don’t know about you but I get sick at least once a year and it’s usually when I’m not listening to my body or taking care of myself. Nature bears fruit all year long but that doesn’t mean you should be eating strawberries in the winter. For example in California, autumnal produce is hearty and vitamin rich, like yams, beets and squash. Root vegetables are delicious, versatile and provide insane amounts of nutrients. No wonder they grow during flu season! My advice to you: go to the farmers market or use a website like https://www.seasonalfoodguide.org/ to make sure you’re buying what’s in season.

4. Time to get witchy. Right after the Autumnal Equinox on September 21, Halloween, Dia de los Muertos and all things spooky and spiritual are in the air once again. We honor our dead, dress up like our worst nightmares and face the coming darkness head on. Now when I say “get witchy” I don’t mean wear a pointy hat or ride a broom but rather tap into unconventional spiritual practices. Some personal rituals that I enjoy are burning sage, card readings and cleansing my crystals. Granted those activities can be done at any time of the year but for me I feel a more intense energy calling me to do those activities at this time of year.

Consider it like and energetic reset button — burn Sage, Palo Santo or Cedar with the intention to clear stagnant energies in your home and around your body that can be disruptive to the coming season. Do a daily card reading to gain some perspective or pick up some new stones for your pouch to help you stay grounded through the shift into the darker half of the year. Some stones I’m working with right now are:

·     Tiger’s Eye – grounding energy, facilitates manifestation. Keeps me on task and in touch with my intentions

·     Tourmaline – disperses negative energy, psychologically aids in understanding oneself and others. Powerful mental healer

·     Fluorite – brings stability to groups, linking them to a common purpose, dissolves fixed patterns of behavior. Great for organization and concentration

·     Topaz – mellow, empathic stone, brings joy and good health. Great for affirmation, visualization and manifestation. Excellent emotional support stone

·     Aquamarine – Courageous and calming stone, brings closure on all levels. Use for meditation, clearing (communication) throat chakra

Regardless of where you live or what you believe, set time aside this fall to do some self care in whatever form that takes. Allow yourself to take some extra time to reset, set your intentions for the transition and stay grounded. Your renewed energy and glowing aura will won’t go unnoticed. 

– Isabel

 

 

Bare Skin Beauty

Some of us have fallen victim to pollution, allergens, sunlight and other irritants that come in contact with our skin.  While I adore sunny days and cold weather seasons, I was just never consistent about caring for my skin to enjoy these without consequence. My habits for taking care of my skin have been bad my entire life and for someone who grew up with chronic eczema, I should have been more on top of quenching my thirsty hide. But you don’t know what you don’t know, and in some cases, we accept what we know because we just don’t think things could be any better. Even when I was having my worst outbreaks, I learned to live with it. Sometimes I complained enough to get a steroid cream or try a new lotion. But it would never be enough because not only was I inconsistent, I didn’t know what to do beyond what the prescription label said.

From normal skin to severely sensitive, we owe it to our largest organ to treat it well. Usually, when something is going on on the outside, it’s because something is going awry on the inside. We have just accepted topical creams and heavy medications as the cure for our momentary visual disruptions. Shouldn’t we all be thinking of lifestyle? Longevity? Health? Sustainability? Beautiful youthful skin was always thought of as an indication of social and financial status. These days those words are synonymous. Scary. Anyway, holistic alternative methods are back and accessible. They’re in your health food stores, online mass distributors and anywhere else you can get your hands on some organic produce and herbs.

I personally was getting sick and tired of my skin. It was throwing tantrums like an insatiable two-year-old. I would buy products and use the whole container thinking maybe I have to buy another cycle before it will work. There is nothing more wrong inside of that irrational logic. I started making some life changes around my diet, water consumption, and the products I was choosing to put on my skin.

Challenges

  • Diet – Tons of processed food and not enough vitamins.
  • Product junky – Buying things simply because the labels are attractive aesthetically.
  • Full sun Exposure – Not taking enough time to prepare for a change in the environment.
  • Not enough Water – For every pound you weigh, there should be an ounce of water consumed per day.

Building consistency takes time. Setting small goals and deciding to do something easy and delicious for your skin will be the best thing for your personal self-care routine.


-Akilah

Soul Fall Retreat 2018

I knew we were entering a state of serenity when the traffic started to dissipate, cell phone service was hard to reach and the trees covered the road in an orderly and coveted fashion. Fall was surrounding us and giving us that organic cozy feeling that so many marketers try to emulate during this time of year to get us to over consume and artificially participate in the true meaning of community. We were all purposely embarking on a weekend journey that was going to reconnect us with our souls in the midst of nature. This was going to be beautiful(turned out to be one of the biggest understatements I’ve made this year).

Creating a sacred space inside a home away from home when you have an intention to do some work on your soul is like physically being a part of an inward transition. Imagine buying a new desk for a room inside your house that has been filled with clutter and chaos. You would first remind yourself of what your plans are to use the desk. In this scenario let’s say it is to write a book. First, you would bring some order and get rid of the things that do not serve you for this project. Then you would align your tools; proper lighting, calming smells, music to help you focus, inspiring art or photos on your wall. The next thing you know, this space is now yours. Inspired and created by you. You have no excuses to continue the path to your purpose and write that book.

Now comes the communing. While the women who entered this journey all have different crafts or life’s work; them coming together was the beginning of showing support and respect for the challenges they face in their daily lives. Each one was extended an invitation because they were seen as people who work hard, who love unconditionally and who have the capacity to teach and share with others without judgment. Isabel, Janel, Jasmine, LaDonna and myself leaned into one another with unwavering trust.


 Our first morning we built a fire, had breakfast together and took off on one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever been on. Laughing and discovering while Isabel took photos, Janel and my son we’re expanding on their already beautiful bond. I’m pretty sure my mother, LaDonna never dropped her smile. Jasmine was like a child all in her element and full of peace. I was completely in awe that I was able to witness all of this wonder amongst people who inspire me into greatness. How could I be so lucky to be a part of all of this? The rest of the day was spent crafting our visions, journaling, cooking, and storytelling. We all blossomed. Do you have any idea how stunning a woman is when she sheds those restrictive layers and begins to open up? It’s rich. Vibrant. Aromatic. Emotional. It’s something to celebrate. This occasion had to be topped off with homemade dishes and Prosseco.



Our final morning, we orbited around each other like sisters who had grown up together and learned all of each other’s very own special ways and mannerisms. Part of our token in leaving, we each made our very own scented body balm to take back home. The combination of lavender, lemongrass, and eucalyptus is so damn heavenly. Add those smells with the practice of reviving vintage skills to exercise patience, meditation and using your hands to create beautiful things for your body and soul; the feeling of completeness emerges.  


The beauty of engaging and celebrating in this cabin will stay with us for as long as the memory stays on our minds. We are grateful for each other’s gifts. We bask in one another’s love. We will do this again because this is what it means to empower women through anything. Through life and all of the steps that will require us to get through it. A sister and a friend within every single one of us.

-Akilah

A Foodie’s Journey

My partner Neko, wants to become a chef. Funny thing is we met in grad school studying photography. Throughout the 7 years we’ve known each other,  Neko would periodically proclaim, “I should’ve gone to culinary school!” all the while cooking an amazing meal. I wasn’t sure that was going to be a thing til this summer once we got back from the very delicious country of Thailand. Neko came to me one day in June and said, “I’m going to New York to learn everything I can from Laurel” a close friend of ours and head chef in upstate New York.

(c) Isabel Gonzales 2018
(c) Isabel Gonzales 2018

We arrived late July, just in time for more weather reminiscent of Thailand’s wet season and no return ticket in hand. While we were there I watched friendships being built, creativity expressed fully and a flood of happy hormones as I got to taste-test all the wonderful meals they brought to the table, literally. We often discuss how food brings people together but there’s something to be said about being in the presence of 4 chefs in the kitchen that lets you know you’re witnessing magic in the making. They all speak the same language, are equally as passionate but each approach food very differently. While one may be avant-garde with her platings, the other wants to produce the best of the best of the classics.

After 3 weeks on the east coast, real life beckoned and I had to get back to work. In the days following, Neko was cooking up a storm! Those garde-manger skills really made their way home and into my belly in the form of salads, sides and desserts. We even threw a bbq where Neko debuted her salmon ceviche in coconut milk paired with a honey and tajin infused mezcal cocktail. Needless to say I’ve been spoiled lately but I pull my weight with baked goods.

(c) Isabel Gonzales 2018
(c) Neko Reindl 2018

I’m the baker in this outfit. Something about precise measurements and exact temperatures really engage my inner sweet-loving scientist. So every now and then I make a big production and bake whatever Neko asks for, from cornbread, to pound cake, to cookies. This time it was bread from scratch. We had recently watched Michael Pollan’s Cooked episode about bread and were both touched and inspired by how bread is a symbol for family and togetherness across the world. Just the scent of fresh baked bread can trigger some of my warmest memories of childhood and that is why I love to bake. Like my parents and my uncle Gene, I want to be the person who triggers and creates those same warm memories for others.

The three of them have always had an unspoken baker’s challenge or competition with each other and I’d like to think, having the biggest sweet tooth ever, I was nominated as the judge back when I was kid. The story goes that they all started with the same recipes back in the 1970’s, but each contender of the secret bake-off has been customizing those same recipes over the last 40 years so the end result is never the same. One of their favorite recipes is carrot cake, and when they bake one, they each come up with reasons to suddenly stop by for a visit, piece of cake in hand, ready to share. If I’m there, I get in on the action, sweet-tooth satiated for a brief moment, then one of them leans over and whispers, “he put too much sugar in it” or “she baked it for too long” as they stuff more cake in their mouths. But in all fairness, the bottom line is that they each took the time to bake something with love and the intention to share it with others, and that’s what food is all about.

So next time you find yourself heading for the drive thru, turn around and go to the grocery store. By buying your own ingredients, you get to customize your meal and you know exactly what went into your food. Appreciate the beauty in the shared experience of cooking together or even cooking for a loved one as a kind gesture, instead of a chore. Cooking for one? No problem. Consider this an exercise in treating yourself well. On that note, who wants seconds?

-Isabel