origin story

How’d I wind up here?! (pt. 4)

Wow. Who knew I could talk about myself for this long? If you’ve made it this far, Congratulations! You are patient, determined, and most likely have a bottomless beverage and well trained bladder.

We’re on the home stretch now. You’ve read about how even as a kid I messed around with trying to improve products, about the Bathtub Epiphany, and about the dangers of browsing the internet while bored. Now it’s time for the really important question.

What up with tea?

I’m so glad you asked. Obviously, I have deep love for tea – it’s in my products, it’s in my business and blog names, and I may have an entire kitchen cupboard overflowing with more varieties than a dedicated shop would carry.

Now, I can hear your doubt. “But Shawna,” you say, “You always joke about needing ALL THE COFFEE. I never hear you say anything about needing ALL THE TEA.”

True. Coffee is for productivity. Remember, I make products for the ‘busy, stressed out woman’. Why? Because I am one, and I know many others. Coffee allows me to function when I get much less sleep than desired, and gives me something to fill my mouth with so I don’t scream when I open the dishwasher and realize the kids loaded 4 pans in upside down and ran it without soap. Again.

Tea, however. Tea is for my soul. Tea is for my mind. Tea is for my health.

IMG_0182

My teapot has a home on my desk, for easy access while I work.

The process of making tea – and I’m not talking about the ‘nuke a cup of water and plunk a bag in’ process – is soothing. It forces you to take your time and slow down – even though it’s only for a few minutes. You have to wait for the kettle to boil and the pot to warm. You have to choose the right blend – do you want something floral and calming? Or maybe something energizing? Fruity? You have to wait for it to steep. It’s an intentional process.

And once you have your pot brewed? That first mug you pour is a little bit of heaven. Rich, fragrant steam. The sound of trickling water. Beautiful color. Warmth seeping into your hands as you wrap them around the cup. And the first sip. Complex, rich, and stress relieving. It engages all of your senses and resets your body and mind.

And those are just the mental and emotional benefits. Study after study has shown that tea is good for your physical well being too, both when taken internally and when applied topically. High in antioxidants and full of trace minerals, tea is a complex compound that scientists are still studying.

So, that’s what’s up with tea. And that’s how I ended up here, making bath and body products. It was a long, winding path, but I’ve been headed here since I was a kid and am loving every minute of it.

 

If you’ve never indulged in a ‘proper’ cup of tea, I urge you to give it a try. Focus on the sensory experience. Then come back here and let me know what you thought.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How’d I wind up here?! (pt. 3)

The story continues with a cautionary tale about boredom and browsing the internet.

No…not THAT kind of internet browsing! Sheesh.

It’s been several years since the great Bathtub Epiphany. Life has gone on, kids have grown, and I now somehow find myself a homeschooling mother to kids ranging from upper elementary to high school. The super intensive, kid on the hip, no privacy ever years have turned into the ‘is your schoolwork done?’, multiple activity, taxi driver years.  I am simultaneously busier than ever and bored. Yup, bored. Turns out you do a LOT of waiting around at this stage of life. Waiting for the homework to be done. Waiting for  _insert activity here_  to end. Waiting for them to get done with work. Lots and lots of waiting.

So what does a mom with an internet connection and large quantities of waiting time on her hands do? Well, she starts out by researching cool school activities, and ends up never washing her hair again. (or maybe that’s just me…)

I was on the ‘hang out and be social’ area of the homeschooling forum I belonged to, and a conversation caught my eye. People were saying they didn’t wash their hair. At least not in the traditional sense. They were talking about this thing called ‘no poo’ and how their hair was healthier and better looking than it had ever been. My first reaction was “Gross!” But boredom will cause you to do strange things, and I kept on reading. Then I typed ‘no poo’ into the search bar, and read some more. And it started to sound interesting.

Remember how, as a kid, I would try to mix up various bath products to produce one that would do it all?

Well, no poo appealed to that kid. And it appealed to the young mom who had a deep love for baths. And it gave the currently bored woman something to play with. So, I got out the baking soda and apple cider vinegar and gave it a try. After all, I had nothing to lose. If it worked I had just found the cheapest way ever to clean my hair, and if it didn’t I would just go back to shampoo.

Much to my surprise, it did work. Very well in fact. I loved the way my hair looked and felt, and I loved that I only had to wash it once a week. I have a lot of hair. Washing it takes a long time!

So I kept it up. And I discovered another benefit. Not only did my hair look amazing, but my migraines disappeared. Just gone. Now, I had had these since my teen years. I got them a couple times a month, and they were killer – vomiting, slurring my words, dark room, no noise or jostling, please just cut my head off migraines. So imagine the bone deep joy when I realized that I hadn’t had one – not one! – since I started my hair washing experiment.

I don’t know about you, but those kind of results made me wonder what would happen if I replace the rest of my bath products with natural versions. So, a run to the local health food store, a revamp of the shower shelf, and I was ready to be wowed.

I wasn’t.

I tried different brands. I read reviews. I detoxed. I just wasn’t thrilled with any of the results.

So it was back to – you guessed it – browsing the internet. I tried several DIY recipes, and they were ok, but I wanted something more. I wanted to know how to make my own, specific to my skin’s needs. Something luxurious, pampering, natural, and not $300 a pop. More internet time later, and I’m signed up for the first of many natural skincare courses.

See what happens when you’re bored and have internet access?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How’d I wind up here?! (pt. 2)

Otherwise known as “The Bathtub Epiphany”.

Yup. It deserves capitals.

Let’s set the scene. I’m now a sleep deprived mom of young kids who hasn’t used the toilet or taken a shower alone in years. My decorating style is early fisher price, and my clothing is chosen based on what will best withstand the various bodily fluids deposited on it by runny noses and leaky diapers. In other words, I’m a tired, sloppy, often cranky, hot mess.

One night, after Justin and I have gotten the kids down for bed, rather than collapse on the couch and stare at a screen until I muster up the energy to make my way to bed, I decide I’m going to do something radical. Something I haven’t done in … well … a really, really long time. I’m going to soak in the tub.

I shut myself in the bathroom, almost giddy with the thought of a gloriously long, blissfully solo soak in some steaming hot water, and turn to the tub.

Oh, right…we have 25,496,385 bath toys…

Five minutes later, I have found the tub, covered the sink and counter with various animals, letters, and containers, and have the water running. I throw some baby bedtime bath bubbles in there – hey, you use what you’ve got – and settle into nirvana.

In the busyness of raising young kids, I had forgotten how much I loved soaking in the tub. The enveloping warmth, the weightlessness, the softness of the water, and the scented steam all combine to create utter physical relaxation and allow my mind to wander free. It feels something like this:

Woman taking bath

I lay there for probably an hour, slowly relaxing and thoughts drifting from chores that needed to be done to mentally writing sarcastic articles about motherhood to pure appreciation for the time alone to just be. When I got out of that tub, I was relaxed, peaceful, and happy. I had both the physical and mental energy to have a fun, relaxing evening with my husband for the first time in months, and I was calmer and more patient with the kids the next day.

And that’s when it hit me. The Bathtub Epiphany (are you ready for it?).

Here it is:

I’m a better mom, better wife, better person if I take some time for me.

It seems pretty obvious with today’s awareness of self care, but back then it was a revelation. I loved spending time with my kids. I loved teaching them, playing with them, snuggling them, giving them new experiences…but I had lost me in the process. I made the decision then and there to try to carve out one hour a week to soak…to indulge in a sensory experience that relaxed and refreshed me, and restored my reserves of energy and patience for the week.

And she did, and her husband and children sing odes to her, and the woodland creatures flock to her calm, joyful presence, and she has changed the world for the better.

…wait, this isn’t a made for tv movie….

Oops.

Ok, real life happens. I didn’t get my soak every every week. But I did make time for it more often. It didn’t make me a perfect wife and mother, or suddenly grant me the ability to be superwoman and save the world while maintaining a perfect home. But it did restore my energy and equilibrium, and better equip me to manage the day to day life in the trenches with young children and still be able to enjoy time with my husband.

My kids are older now, and daily life is significantly different than it was back then. But I still need that weekly time. And I still have to be intentional about carving it out. So do you. There is always something to do – young kids, teen kids, elderly parents, sick spouses, work projects, volunteer opportunities – the list of really important things that can fill our calendar is endless. But do yourself a favor, and put an hour a week on that calendar for yourself.

Do you take the time to recharge? What restores you? Let me know in the comments below! (oh – and you can find the first post in the series here.)

 

 

 

How’d I wind up here?! (pt. 1)

Ever ask yourself that? I have. Oh, not because I’m unhappy with where I am. Quite to the contrary, I’m loving every minute of it. (ok…not every minute. Bathing the dogs after they roll in something disgusting isn’t high on my list of great moments. Neither is dusting.) But I have had to wonder just how I wound up here, because it’s the first question the people who don’t slowly back away in fear of the crazy lady ask after they find out what I do.

So. How did I wind up here? My usual smart ass answer is boredom. And it’s true. But it’s also more than that. It’s a combination of different moments throughout my life. The earliest being when I was just a kid and trying to combine shampoo and conditioner into one product (yeah…mom…sorry. That’s probably why we were always running out of hair products and bathroom cups) in order to make hair washing quicker and more efficient. I had soaking to do and stories to read, and hair washing got in the way. I continued to mess about with combining products through my teens. Mixing moisturizer and foundation, trying to combine lotion and soap, or mix different facial cleansers to make the perfect one step morning face wash. After all, at this point in my life I had some serious sleeping in and loafing around to do – but I needed to look good doing it. They say necessity is the mother of invention. In my case, laziness was.

Of course, most of these things were unmitigated disasters – although the moisturizer and foundation combo was pretty nice. And obviously, all these products exist now. So why do I make my own? Where does ‘for the busy, stressed out woman’ come in? What does boredom have to do with it? And what up with tea?

It’s a longish story, and chances are high your coffee would be cold (or wine glass empty, depending on time of day) before I was done telling it. Not to mention those pesky people that you’re hiding from so you can just have five minutes of peace and quiet and a good piece of chocolate would find you. So in the interests of hot coffee, full wine glasses, peace, quiet, and chocolate we’ll break this up into parts. In the next post, I’ll tell you about my bathtub epiphany. (it’s not as dirty as it sounds)