How Do You Practice Self-Care AND Still Nurture Others?

How Do You Practice Self-Care AND Still Nurture Others?

How do you balance self-care while still being the everything to everyone? That seems to ask the age old question women (especially moms) get asked all the time. How do you give to others while still making your own needs are met?

What it really boils down to is the idea of finding balance. I remember being on a business retreat a couple of years ago, and the idea of finding balance when you’re a mom who also runs a business came up. What surprised me was how triggering the word “balance” was for so many of the women there. After a bit of discussion, the group consensus was one of two things. Either “balance means whatever you need it to mean to feel balanced,” or “balance doesn’t really exist.” 

I get asked about my own balancing act as a busy mom with busy kids and busy businesses all the time.

It can be a challenge to balance self-care!My answer usually has something to do with the fact that my own self-care is non-negotiable and I don’t feel the least bit guilt about it. I even wrote a chapter of Love Your Skin, Love Yourself about how self-care is not selfish. So how do I do it? How do I practice self-care without neglecting my kids or my responsibilities?

There are several strategies that work for me, and I am NOT one of those perfect Insta-moms who always has it all together all the time. But I do have part of it figured out, at least for me, and how I do it has become a major tenet in how I live my life, raise my kids, and share my mission. It’s a little bit old school and maybe a bit cliche, but it’s worked for me.

Teach others (your kids, your co-workers, even your spouse!) self-care WHILE you practice self-care.

Teaching is powerful aspect of both the Mother and Priestess Beauty Archetypes. Take my Beauty Archetype Quiz HERE if you haven’t already!

This whole idea all started for me years ago, when I was trying to lose a large amount of post-pregnancy pounds, clear up my skin for good, and also put the brakes on some chronic health issues that had begun to manifest. As I also wrote in Love Your Skin, Love Yourself (which I kind of call my “skin care self-help memoir”), I tried all the conventional diets, worked with a personal trainer, (and am sad to admit that I even tried diet pills) and did not get results.

It wasn’t until I decided to try a plant-based diet that incorporated things like food combining, eating light to heavy, cutting gluten, dairy, and sugar (gasp!), and adding fermented foods that I had my first big challenge with trying to nurture my family AND balance self-care.

I mean, I had a toddler and a kindergartener. And a husband (who happens to be a chef which means he is picky, but works crazy hours so he doesn’t actually do the cooking at home) to consider. Would I have to become a short-order cook and prepare everyone different meals? How could I make them all eat what I needed to eat to achieve my own personal health goals? 

I taught them how to shop for and prepare the foods that I needed to eat for my own goals, but that they also liked and were still balanced and healthy to suit the needs of growing children (and an overworked husband).

When I used teach self-care and healthy shopping at health food stores

Flashback to when I used to teach health food store tours!

Yes, they were young. But I took them shopping with me, and treated the experience like the health food store tours I used to give back in the day. I taught them where all the healthy stuff was and why it was healthy, also taught them why some of the other stuff was not a great idea. I let them help me make the shopping list, pick out their own produce, and put what they wanted in the cart (as long as it was on the list).

I had them help me prep veggies, soak grains, and make homemade sauerkraut and kombucha. As I watched shows on Food Network and poured through healthy cookbooks to get flavor inspiration, my kids watched with me and looked at the books with me. To this day, they still watch cooking shows before cartoons.

Was it always perfect? Heck no. Did it take longer than it would have taken me to do it myself? Heck yeah. But the early results were this:

  • Kids who rarely got sick (despite attending the slimy, microbial petri dishes known as preschool and kindergarten)
  • Kids who understand why certain foods are good for us and others are not
  • Kids who were able to make themselves small meals and snacks at a very young age, which took a ton of pressure off me.
  • My husband’s severe allergies improved to the point that he no longer needed to take allergy medicine
  • I lost 80 pounds and cleared up my skin

Fast forward nearly 10 years (yikes!), and here are the results we have today:

  • Organic chicken and kale curry salad

    Organic chicken and kale curry salad made by my then-11-year-old daughter. 100% her own recipe, made from scratch with no help from me.

    My kids both love to cook and are really good cooks (I post pix of their food often on my Instagram)–better cooks than I am, in fact! These days, I only need to prepare meals once or twice a week. The kids handle the rest both for themselves individually (breakfast, lunch, snacks) and for our family.

  • My kids are still ridiculously healthy. When they do get sick, it’s rarely nothing that can’t be handled with herbal teas and homemade chicken soup.
  • My kids could handle grocery shopping themselves if they needed to. They understand how to “shop the perimeter” and what to look for when choosing things like meats and eggs. They also understand how to read labels for things that we do buy packaged, so they know how to pick the ones that are the least processed.
  • My kids are also both honor students and elite classical ballet dancers who are strong and recover quickly from injuries.
  • My skin is still clear and vibrant looking (at nearly 42 years old), and my teenage daughter, who is predisposed to acne (thanks, genetics!) is able to manage it well when she listens to me about her topical routine.

Yes we still eat out from time to time (probably more often than we should–but it’s at places like Whole Foods or quality local restaurants rather than fast food). Yes we still have sweets from time to time and “break the rules.” 

For me, healthy cooking was a big stressor, but it is also one of the most important aspects of self-care because without it, there’s no way anyone can look or feel their best.

As I learned to get healthy, I taught my kids. As I learned how to manage my time as an entrepreneur, I taught my kids. As I continued to go back to school for my various certifications, I demonstrated good study habits to my kids and invited them to do their homework with me the whole time. As I continue to fall in love with nature and using plants for skincare and to keep us healthy, I teach my kids what I’m learning, and I invite them to share their own experiences.

We cook together, we clean together, we do “homework” together, and sometimes we exercise together. And we make herbal skin care together.

Because I’ve taught as I’ve learned, many time-consuming parts of my life are now shared. This leaves me with time and energy to practice self-care meaningfully, while still nurturing my family AND giving them the skills and resilience to do the same as they mature.

And I encourage you to do the same, whether it’s with your own kids if you have them, or whatever that looks like for you–your staff, partner, extended family, anyone who you need to nurture in your life.

Do you need help improving your own skin care or self-care practices?

Teaching my daughter to practice self-care with handmade skin careI encourage you to take this opportunity to involve your kids–invite them into your learning process, so that as you learn to give your skin and body what it needs, so will they.

My online course, Create Your Skincare Personal Edition is an AWESOME opportunity to learn how to make all natural, herbal skincare together. It teaches how to choose the right ingredients for your skin whether you’re “of a certain age,” a young teen with acne, or anything in between. You’ll then use those ingredients to make cleansers, toners, exfoliants, masks, moisturizers, lip balms–anything you can imagine!

It’s the perfect way to combine nurturing, creativity, and teaching while working towards your own goal AND empowering your family to practice self-care.

How do you balance self-care and nurturing in your life?

Please share in the comments below!

*Photo credits: Balance photo by Bekir Dönmez on Unsplash. Health food store tour photo by Barb Sherf. Photo of my daughter and I by Julia Lehman Photography.

4 Ways to Easily Get Your Holistic Skin Care Goals Back on Track!

4 Ways to Easily Get Your Holistic Skin Care Goals Back on Track!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the New Year lately–about resolutions and goal setting in particular. If you are anything like me, you made a LOT of goals at the beginning of the year. Let me guess–you had skin care goals, weight loss goals, financial goals, or something else along the lines of self improvement. Am I right? If you are like millions of other people, those goals aren’t quite accomplished yet. You might have even forgotten what you even wanted to do in the first place.

Let’s get your skin care goals back on track today!

Rachael Pontillo...your holistic skin care Yoda!I like to think of myself as your personal holistic skin care Yoda. It is my goal (and my absolute pleasure) to help you focus on something that I know matters to you….getting (and keeping) gorgeous skin for life!

You want a SIMPLE holistic skin care regimen that’s made up of products that WORK (without the expensive add ons that you really don’t need anyway), so you can find them easily in your medicine cabinet, and put them on quickly…I’m talking 5 mins or less. You want SAFE products that don’t contain toxic or even questionable ingredients.

You want to avoid that panic of “will these foods make me break out?” whenever you go out for lunch.

You want to wake up every day with clear, smooth skin and know that it will stay that way, because you’ve set your diet, skincare, and lifestyle up to make it so.

But then a few months pass, and you’ve fallen off the wagon.

I understand getting off track. It happens to the best of us! People are busy, and some details are easy to forget.

So today I’d like to offer you some advice for getting your holistic skin care goals back on track (so you don’t find yourself making the SAME resolutions come next January!):

1. Take inventory.

Skin care supplementsGo through your skin care products, makeup, and dietary supplements and THROW OUT anything that has expired or that you haven’t opened in 3 months or longer. Don’t replace them! Focus on keeping your supply of the stuff you actually USE replenished.

2. Give your lifestyle a reality check.

Take out a piece of paper (or open a new doc if you’re not a pen and paper kind of person), and write down a truthful account of a typical day in your life. How much sleep you are getting, how much water you are drinking, what you eat, what times of day you find yourself feeling stressed, how you currently manage that stress, how often you find time for exercise/movement–stuff like that. BE HONEST with yourself. Then pick ONE thing in your typical day to focus on improving for the rest of this week. Next week, add another one. And so on.

3. Ask yourself how you can make your daily holistic skin care regimen easier?

Was your skin care regimen too expensive? Were you using too many products? Were you getting tripped up with complicated healthy recipes? Were you trying to collect lots of spiritual swag (candles, stones, incense, a special cushion, New Age music, etc) before starting your daily meditation routine? What specifically were you finding too complicated or overwhelming in your regimen? Identify one aspect and simplify it. Use fewer, but more targeted skin care products. Download a guided meditation app. Make mealtime easier with a slow cooker or Instant Pot.

4. Get an accountability partner.

Get a skin care accountability partnerFind a friend, colleague, or family member who’s also interested in getting back on track with similar goals. Schedule brief check-in calls weekly to set ONE small, attainable goal for the week, and then report back next week to report your progress and set another goal.

Those are 4 actions you can take RIGHT NOW to get inspired and reinspired to start thinking about your style again.

Need more holistic skin care guidance and accountability?

If you want more personalized help on your style journey, I’m here for you!

In honor of getting back on track, I also have a special bonus for YOU. If you sign up for my Must Have Secrets for Gorgeous Skin e-course (10 really fun, easy-to-follow videos delivered via email), you’ll also get my bonus “DIY Skincare Gift Guide + Recipes.”. You also get access to our private student Facebook group where you can ask questions and get my feedback personally! You can get all that holistic skin care goodness for just $29.97 HERE.

Is this a bribe? Heck yes! Well…let’s call it a little positive reinforcement 🙂

Consider it a little shortcut to the clear, smooth, vibrant skin that will soon be yours! If this is still a goal for you, then there’s no better time than now, to get my professional help, right?

So if you want to wake up January 1st with one less “resolution” on your list, let’s do this now 🙂

*Supplement photo by Kayla Maurais on Unsplash

Teen Acne: 6 Ways to Help Your Teen Help Themselves

Teen Acne: 6 Ways to Help Your Teen Help Themselves

Back in 2013, when I wrote my first (and now bestselling) book, Love Your Skin, Love Yourself, I made a bold statement:

“I’ll be damned if I let acne or any other skin condition ravage or destroy my children’s beautiful skin and beautiful souls. Not gonna happen, not on my watch.”

Wow! Just rewriting those words brings it all back: the years I spent avoiding mirrors and windows, hiding in the back of a group photo, and plastering myself with makeup to cover the blackheads, white heads, and redness. It also brings back the feelings I had that because of my teen acne (and later on, adult acne), I didn’t get to have the great things in life that the girls with clear, glowing skin got to have. Things like the confidence to get up in front of people and speak my mind, have all the hottest guys fawning over me, stuff like that. But most importantly, I remember the paranoia–feeling that people were always staring at me, gossiping about how gross my skin was, thinking I was unclean.

Acne and other visible skin conditions REALLY take a toll on your mental, emotional, and spiritual health by affecting your self confidence, self-image, and feelings of self-worth.

I was dead serious when I wrote those words back in 2013.

The problem?

I didn’t HAVE a teenager back then. I do now. And thanks to genetics (my husband also struggled with teen acne), my daughter is prone to breakouts. You know what I noticed though? It’s not because of her diet, or lack of sleep, or a sedentary lifestyle. She eats more fruits and veggies than I do, is better with sleep than I was at her age, and also is a classical ballet dancer (trains about 20 hours a week). It’s also not because of a lack of high quality skin care products and treatments–I make her a simple, yet targeted organic skin care regimen.

So what is the issue?

In a nutshell, she’s a typical teenager. She doesn’t always listen to me and has her head in the clouds half the time. In the morning before school, she’s usually rushing to get out the door, and at night when I ask “did you do your skin care?” she absentmindedly answers “Mm hmm.” But when I go to kiss her goodnight, it’s clear that she hasn’t.

What I realized is that when my daughter does what she’s supposed to do for her skin with her topical regimen, remembers to drink enough water, and is good with other aspects of hygiene (changing pillow cases and towels, not touching her face, etc), her skin is pretty clear. But like with many things, she needs a little help with reminders and motivation.

Here are a few of my favorite strategies to help my daughter manage her teen acne:

1. The My Skin Buddy™ AKA “MSB”

My Skin Buddy

Get FREE shipping on the MSB with code RPBEAUTY!

Teens love technology. That’s no secret. So I figured, there must be a skin care gadget out there that would make my daughter want to use it on a daily basis. Enter the My Skin Buddy (get free shipping on the MSB with code RPBEAUTY at www.myskinbuddy.com!). I found this at the International Congress of Esthetics and Spa a few years ago, and since then have noticed that many of my Create Your Skincare students who are aestheticians use and recommend it. This little gadget helps to deeply cleanse the skin without the danger of over-exfoliating or stripping the skin’s lipid barrier, like some of the other cleansing gadgets do. It also helps to support clear skin with the assistance of LED lights, and only takes a few minutes a day. My daughter likes this because she says it feels relaxing on her skin, and because it’s a gadget. She actually uses it almost every night, with the custom cleansing lotion and herbal toner I make her.

2. Fitness and wellness tracker apps

So much of having clear skin has to do with lifestyle factors like movement, sleep, and water. Luckily, there are many apps that track those things! Our favorite is the BellaBeat app, which you can use with or without their wearable wellness trackers to log things like water intake, meditation (it even comes with pre-recorded guided meditations), exercise, and menstrual cycle. If you purchase one of their products, you get additional tracking options. Apps like this gamify certain aspects of daily life that otherwise, might go unnoticed. It’s been hugely helpful for my daughter (and me too!).

2. Basic hygiene upgrade

Other than the “wash your face, brush your teeth, brush your hair” daily routine, there’s a lot that can be added to a teen’s hygiene routine to manage teen acne that might not seem immediately obvious. Pillow cases, sheets, wash cloths, and towels need to be changed regularly. Pathogenic bacteria, mold, and yeast can build up in linens, and exacerbate acne. Towels and washcloths should be changed daily, and if your teen has severe acne, so should pillowcases. If it’s not severe, 1 to 2 times a week is fine. Phone hygiene is also a must–cell phones accumulate high levels of microbes, most of which should NOT be on one’s face. Using ear buds or speaker/video options and sanitizing the phone often are a huge help.

3. Gua sha

gua sha

Some of my rose quartz, jade, and marble gua sha, acupressure, and facial massage tools.

Gua sha is an ancient practice that comes from Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda which uses a small gemstone (traditionally jade) or metal (copper) tool for massage that helps to support healthy lymphatic circulation. Gua sha was multiple skin benefits, and while it shouldn’t be used directly on pustular acne, there are many different protocols that can be done at home to support the skin and improve the appearance of teen acne. It’s especially helpful to help relieve congested/clogged pores and improve the appearance of acne scars. It’s also a gadget–though not an electronic one–and gua sha tools now come in a wide variety of shapes, cut from many beautifully colored stones. Gua sha can be overdone though (like anything else), so I recommend taking your teen to an acupuncturist or holistic aesthetician trained specifically in this modality to learn the right at-home technique.

4. Teen acne facials

If you’re a parent of a teen, you surely know that they are often more likely to listen to pretty much anyone else before they listen to you. Facials have been great for my daughter, not just because of the facial itself, but because she’ll actually have a conversation with the aesthetician and listens to what she says. It doesn’t matter that I’m an aesthetician myself–to her, I’m mom. Just make sure you find an aesthetician who vibes with your teen and also who is a good fit for your own philosophy towards skin care.

5. Focus on quality from the start

I’ll be blunt–most of the products marketed to teens are absolute crap. And most of the influencers they follow on social media are also peddling crap. But the teens (and sometimes the parents too) don’t have the ability to understand that, and it can be really hard to see past the marketing and hype. Explain to your teen how it works. Explain that influencers are paid to push products, and that their reviews are more often based on money than actual results. Explain that everyone’s skin and lifestyles are different, and that works for a rich celebrity or influencer who gets products for free is not necessarily what’s going to work for your teen. Explain that for many things in life, you get what you pay for, Skin care is one of those things.

6. Get your teen skin care help from someone who’s not you!

Must Have Secrets for Gorgeous SkinI can help! As someone who’s survived teen acne and also who’s a licensed aesthetician who makes skin care products, I’ve got street cred with the teens (tip: use the word “legit” when you describe me to your teen…works every time with mine!).

I’ve got a great video skin care course called Must Have Secrets for Gorgeous Skin that teaches exactly what strategies I used to clear up my acne and keep it gone. It’s a great companion to my book, Love Your Skin, Love Yourself, and both come with bonus DIY skin care recipes.

  • Get Must-Have Secrets for Gorgeous Skin + bonus recipes for just $29.97 HERE.

  • Get Love Your Skin, Love Yourself + different bonus recipes HERE.

Ultimately, it’s up to your teen to manage their acne.

You can buy them all the products and tools. You can give them reminders. You can buy them healthy food and supplements. You can take them to the spa. But they also need to learn that if they want something in life, they need to actually put all those tools and advice into action. Sometimes as a parent, we need to let things get worse before so they can get better. We also have to be OK with the fact that it’s not always going to be perfect (it’s usually NOT going to be perfect).

How do you help your kids manage their teen acne?

Please share your tips in the comments below!

*This post contains affiliate links

Earth Day: The Roses and the Bees

Earth Day: The Roses and the Bees

It’s Earth Day today. And it is an important day, because while the “Hallmark Holiday” nay-sayers might call it a fake holiday, and the cliche-ers might say things like “every day should be Earth Day,” we have to face the reality that in our modern, mass produced, tech-driven society, every day is pretty much the opposite of Earth Day. While I’ve written about Earth Day, and other issues concerning sustainability and the health of our planet, my vibe today is a bit different.

This year’s Earth Day falls during Passover and following Easter. It’s a month past the Vernal Equinox, and a time in many other spiritual and cultural traditions that symbolize freedom, new beginnings, and rebirth. It’s also just over a week following the fire that destroyed much of La Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris.

While you might not think about that as significant information for an article about Earth Day since it is a manmade building in the middle of a manmade city, its burning during this time in history was also seen as many as symbolic of rebirth and new beginnings. A symbol of a paradigm shift from a masculine dominated society to a Divine Feminine one.

Bee on dandelionWhat really grounded that idea for me was not only that the iconic famed rose windows were saved (Rose is one of the most powerful and universal images of the Divine Feminine–but Rose’s energies are also balanced with the Divine Masculine because of its thorns), and the bees who lived in hives on the roof (set there as a Paris initiative to protect the declining bee population) survived.

To learn more about Divine Feminine archetypes and their relation to beauty and skincare, take the free Beauty Archetype Quiz HERE.

Let’s talk about those bees.

The honeybee is another longstanding universal symbol of the Divine Feminine. It’s not just the fact that they are governed by a Queen, or that the workers are female–it’s that everyone knows their role, and fulfills it in collaboration every day, for the greater good of the whole–of the hive–of Mother Earth. While all that they do may appear to be in service to the Queen, the Queen herself is a busy bee, constantly feeding and nourishing all the larvae to ensure the future of the hive. It is a cooperative, collaborative, intuitive society that exists to nourish the greater whole beyond the single hive. Without the bees, just about every other species of life on the planet would suffer, because their efforts ensure food at nearly every stage of the food chain on this planet. It is true that if bees go extinct, humans will too. Protecting them needs to be a top priority.

I have a complex history with bees because I used to be deathly afraid of them.

It started when I was a child. I was at my dad’s house and we were running back and forth from the kitchen to the back patio bring food outside for a barbecue. The sliding glass doors must have been open for quite awhile, because when I opened a cabinet to get plates, three or four bees flew out of the cabinet right at my face. I didn’t get stung, but holy cow was I freaked out. For years after (and probably still now, to be honest), whenever I’d get a buzzing sound near my face, I’d flinch, sometimes to the point that I’d give myself a neck spasm!

Carpenter beeWe have carpenter bees in our yard. They are extremely aggressive, torpedoing right at me, buzzing loudly while I’m gardening. These are the males–they won’t sting or bite but they will pelt you right in the face–in order to protect the females, which are busily nesting in my deck. I do not like those bees, but I also don’t want to kill them, because they are important community pollinators, and pollinators are declining.

I live in a very “Suburbia USA” type of neighborhood in the Philadelphia suburbs where most of the houses look the same, and most of the neighbors mow their lawns around the same time on the same day each week. The majority of my neighbors focus on getting green, weed-free lawns and use pesticides and synthetic fertilizers to achieve that. We don’t use those, and we also don’t mow often. That mostly started because my husband has really bad allergies and between both our schedules, we just don’t have the time. We certainly could hire someone to do that for us, but honestly, it’s just not a priority for us.

So our house kind of sticks out among our neighbors (much to their dismay, I’m sure), because it’s a little bit wild, with dandelions, violets, plantain, unruly raspberries and honeysuckles, mints, and lemon balms. Because of this, we also have a lot of bees. Tiny ones, regular honeybees, fuzzy and chubby bumblebees, and those big and shiny guardian carpenter bees. By being busy and, well, because of my husband’s allergies, we accidentally created a sanctuary of native plants in our yard for bees, butterflies, sometimes hummingbirds, and other pollinators.

I made the decision to take that further, and plant more native plant species in my yard to make it even more home for the pollinators.

Every year, I add more perennial native plants, in addition to my annual herbs and flowers. We also have a couple of stumps in our yard from trees that we sadly had to take down, that we are allowing Mother Earth to take back, rather than grinding them down. Our soil is mostly clay, but it is rich with fungi and other microbes, so it happened with the first stump way sooner than we thought, and is already happening with the one we had to take down last year due to storm damage.

This year, Earth Day is about the roses and the bees.

yellow rose

One of the roses from my unruly rose bush with an attitude.

Last fall, I planted bee balm, in addition to other native plants (Joe Pye weed, goldenrod, witch hazel, and elderberry to name a few). This year, I will add to that, starting today, with a new rose bush. My current rose bush is the bane of my husband’s existence because first of all, it houses some of those aggressive carpenter bees, and second, it laughs at his landscaping efforts. It grows so fast, and every time he trims it, the next day, it will sprout a new branch that shoots two feet up over the top of all the other ones. It makes me smile all the time.

You might wonder, aren’t I afraid of the bees in my own yard? I’ve never been stung in my own yard. Neither has anyone in my family. When my husband teases me about my knee-jerking, neck-spasming reaction to getting buzzed, I now tell him it’s fine. I have made peace with the bees and they are welcome on my property. I don’t love when they accidentally get in my house–don’t get me wrong–but if that happens, we gently help the lost bee get back outside rather than killing it.

Many Earth-based cultural and spiritual traditions view Mother Earth as a living, breathing deity that like most mothers, gives of herself without a thought to nourish and protect her babies. For millennia, humans lived cooperatively with Mother Earth and Her other inhabitants–taking what we needed, giving back what we took when we could. Modern life has changed that. The need for mass production, instant gratification, and convenience that a consumer-based society requires depletes Mother Earth’s resources, pollutes Her air, soil, and waters, takes without consideration for when and if more will be available, and thinks not of the wellbeing of other living beings that also depend on Mother Earth for survival. It ignores the importance of other beings that play an integral part of the food chain and food webs; as well as their roles in our planet’s air, water, and soil cycles.

The answer is not to find another planet to colonize once we’ve eventually destroyed this one.

The answer is to pick one thing to start with to heal the Mother we have. My one thing this year is more planting, in order to provide more food and more of a hospital backyard ecosystem for the bees and other pollinators.

Earth Day treesMother Earth still sacrifices for her children, though she is wounded and struggling.

And like the shift that happens in human life when the relationship of the parent caring for the child morphs into that of the adult child caring for the aging or sick parent, it is time for us–the children–to care for our Mother Earth.

For simple, every day things you can do in your life and in your business to give back and protect Mother Earth, check these out:

I also teach extensively about sustainable, Mother Earth-friendly ingredients, formulations, and business practices in my online Create Your Skincare Professional Edition course. 

How are you celebrating Earth Day this day and every day in your home or business?

Please share in the comments below!

*Carpenter Bee photo by Daniel Schwen [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]. Trees photo by Casey Horner via Unsplash.

Why Humans Need Handmade Now More Than Ever

Why Humans Need Handmade Now More Than Ever

If you were a fly on the wall in my house back in the 1980s and 1990s, you would have been one inspired fly. Now I’m not here to claim that my family was any more or less entertaining/weird/crazy/dramatic than anyone else’s was, but one thing we were for sure was creative. My mom was into handmade everything, whether it was homecooked meals (even though she was a working single mom, we had homecooked meals almost every single day), pottery, crafts with pressed flowers and dried leaves, actual paintings (Mom has an affinity for chickens and roosters), Halloween costumes, DIY skin care remedies–you name it. Some of her catchphrases that still echo in my head when I’m shopping are: “You know you could make this for half the price,” and of course “They don’t make them like they used to” (I’m sure you’ve heard that one too).

Although I used to roll my eyes, Mom was right. Though the popularity of the Handmade Revolution/Maker Movement has jacked prices of craft supplies and fabric up higher than they were in the ’80s and ’90s, the quality of mass-produced goods has gone down significantly. Even clothing purchased at “better” department stores is rarely higher quality than that purchased at discount and off-price stores. The fabric quality itself might be slightly better, but what does that matter if it still falls apart after just a few wears?

I have always loved handmade arts and crafts because I marvel at the amazing things people create from almost nothing; with just their hearts, souls, and own two hands.

Handmade doll

Me as a baby with the “Rachael doll” my Cioci (Polish for “aunt”) Stella made for me.

I credit that appreciation again to my mother, but also to all the women (and many of the men) on her side of the family. My aunt, great aunts, cousins–they each had incredible talent for handmade things like crocheted blankets, the Polish arts of paper cutting and painted eggs (wycinanki and pysanki–check out my cousin Felicia’s amazing work here), stained glass, doll making, jewelry making, pottery, figurine making, ceramics, you name it.

Some of the crafts I’ve enjoyed over the years are handmade skin care (obviously), pottery (although I’m really not that great at throwing pots), setting gemstones into jewelry (I have a gemology certificate), painting and illustrating, card making, polymer clay design, fashion design and sewing, doll-making, interior decorating, surface pattern and textile design, cooking, herb gardening, and handwork like knitting and crocheting.

While the Industrial Revolution certainly made certain aspects of life easier and more accessible, what it also did was disconnect us from our own innate creativeness.

It took humans thousands of years to get to the point where they were able to live off the land–feed, shelter, clothe, and care for themselves and their communities. To create art, music, theater, toys, and games. They may not have had many conveniences in life, but they knew how to be self-reliant individually, and within their own communities. In just a couple hundred years, we’ve managed to undo all that. And I’m not sure that we’re better off because of it.

Technology has helped us in many ways–my goodness, without the Internet, I would not be able to make my living doing work that matters to me while still being able to homeschool my younger daughter (using mostly online curriculum). It has removed certain barriers to knowledge that kept many people from being able to achieve their dreams or venture out from outdated societal roles. Technology in modern medicine–when used appropriately–has saved many lives. But technology and mass production have also depleted natural resources, polluted the air, soil, and waterways making humans and wildlife acutely and chronically ill, and have also disconnected us from our own connection to the land–and to ourselves.

When you use something handmade, you’re not only using the thing, and getting whatever result the thing is supposed to deliver.

One of my mom’s paintings, “King Rooster” by Cathy Moskal, 2003

You get someone’s expertise. You get someone’s own particular way of doing things that makes it just a little different from the craftsperson down the street. You get someone’s passion–their why in life–their creative spark. You’re getting their spirit and their humanity.

It shocks me how many people have no idea what’s in their skin care or have no idea where their food comes from.

It shocks me that people don’t know how to grow their own food, create their own art or make their own music. It shocks me that so many kids today–and so many adults–don’t know what to do with themselves when the power goes out or they go somewhere without wifi.

Not to get all dramatic or dystopian on you, but should some disaster happen, what would most people do? How would they find and prepare food? How would they maintain warmth and shelter? How would they clothe themselves? How would they tend to their sick and wounded? How would they create beauty, music, and enjoyment?

When entertainment is available on demand, there’s less need to create. When goods and services are just a click away, we no longer have the need to find creative solutions for our problems or ways take care of ourselves.

lemurian quartz crystal

My Lemurian quartz crystal made into a beautiful pendant by my cousin Terry.

I’m not saying we need to revert back to an agrarian lifestyle, or go off the grid. But I do think it’s time to find a happy medium and reconnect both to ourselves and to the earth. We need to find value in the little things–the simple things, and we need to recognize, value, and support skill and talent. By embracing the Handmade Revolution, we can do that. When we incorporate the value of handmade into our lives, we give ourselves the freedom to express form, invigorate the senses, and quite frankly, prevent the creative brain from going dormant.

We are all creative beings, and creative beings need to create as much as we need to eat, breathe, and sleep.

If we stifle our creativity, or discount its importance, we then create blockages in other aspects of life. That can hinder our ability to move forward in different areas like health, work, and relationships.

One of the things I love the most about expressing creativity through his that when you create; whether it is a complete garment begun from just one thread, or whether it is a scene or precious moment in time you’ve managed to capture, you leave a legacy. In a way, I believe that expressing creativity is the closest we get to immortality.

One of my own handmade skin care gift sets.

Make handmade, share handmade, buy handmade, sell handmade.

So whether it’s a simple doodle, beeswax candle, beaded jewelry, knitted scarf, mini succulent garden, herbal salve, or organic skin care product line–I encourage you to add handmade into your life. Teach your kids the wonder of how it feels to be able to say “I made that.” Use handmade crafts to reconnect your mental, emotional, and spiritual with the physical to restore balance in your life.

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