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Journal

Embodied Rituals for Skin + Soul

Filtering by Category: BodyCare

Lavender Mint Body Butter

Katie Gordon

Last weekend I got to hawk my wares for the first time ever (!!!) at Portland Plant Medicine Gathering. It was one of the best experiences I've had in owning a business, and it made me realize how much easier it is for me to simply sell my products online, either through Etsy or my own website, than it is to actually have to stand up in front of people all day and talk about what I do and why. But I loved it! Getting to see HOW people experience the things you've put so much love, time, and energy into crafting is one of the best things ever. Knowing that people deeply resonate with your art, in whatever form that art takes, is what keeps us creating and doing the work we feel compelled to do. 

Photo credit:  HerbRally

Photo credit: HerbRally

One thing I got great feedback about was my body butter. People actually asked if I ever take on apprentices to teach how to make body care. (I don't. But if you're interested, live in the area, and don't mind being paid in tea and good, albeit sometimes sarcastic, company, feel free to shoot me an email ;) ) I will, however, share my body butter recipe! I don't actually sell this particular scent, although maybe I will now, but it's one of my favorite essential oil blends. This is, however, the base that I use for all my body butters, sometimes mixing and matching various butter and oil combinations.

Lavender Mint Body Butter

1/4 c. Shea Butter
1/4 c. Mango Butter
1/2 c. Sunflower or Almond Oil
A few drops of Vitamin E Oil
30 Drops Lavender Essential Oil
30 Drops Peppermint Essential Oil 
Optional, few drops of Vetiver Essential Oil - because it's rooty and cooling and wonderful

As a side note, this is just my method. It's a bit of a process, but one for which I very much enjoy setting aside the time. 

Begin by melting the butters and oil together in a double boiler over low heat. Once completely melted, put the bowl in the fridge and let it cool until it becomes mostly solid (at least one hour). Shea butter crystallizes if it doesn't cool quickly enough, which is why sometimes DIY body butters feel a little gritty. Cooling it in the fridge will keep this from happening.  

Once solid, take it out of the fridge and let it come back to room temperature. Add your essential oils and vitamin E oil. Then use a hand mixer to whip everything together for a minute or so, just until it's smooth and the oils are all mixed in. Since we waited for the mixture to come back to room temperature, it'll be much easier to spoon into your jar. This will make about two 4 oz. or one 8 oz. jar of body butter. 

Keep in mind, a little goes a long way. I like using body butters right after a bath or shower so that it can really soak in. Enjoy!

Wild Woman Hair Serum

Katie Gordon

It took me a loooooooong time to embrace my wild, out of control, thick, curly hair. I used to actually cry because I didn't have "normal" straight hair like most of my friends when I was little. Throughout high school and college I either straightened it or just threw it up because I didn't know what to do with it or even how to take care of it.

After trying out SO MANY products - supposedly for curly hair - and years of frustrated, wanting-to-pull-my-hair-out moments, I eventually learned what my hair needs to be healthy (i.e. curly sans frizz). So even though it's still crazy, in the best way possible, my hair's now softer curls rather than dry and frizzy. It's becoming more common knowledge now that our hair, and the rest of our skin for that matter, needs oil just like our bodies need fat. Curly hair especially needs A LOT of oil because it's naturally drier and because of that it's more prone to breakage which leads to even more frizz. In order to care for our locks we need to nourish it with oils that not only smooth our hair but also repair damage that happens as a result of everyday elements (wind, heat, water, etc.)

When I first started adding oils to my morning ritual (yes, getting ready is a ritual) I was worried it would leave my hair greasy or weighed down, but my hair literally drinks this stuff up! This combination of oils is my favorite...and it's not an exaggeration to say it has changed the way I relate to my hair.

For women who run with the wolves...

Some of my other favorite essential oils, are rosemary, jasmine, lavender, cedarwood, peppermint, bergamot, and sage. Think fresh and perhaps a bit floral. I get all of my ingredients from Mountain Rose Herbs because I know I'm getting the highest quality organic oils and herbs.

In a small mason jar, blend your carrier oils and give it a little swirl. Then add your essential oils, if you're using them. This is when you can get creative and play with different scents and combinations of oils. Once you're happy with your oil, use a little funnel if you have one to pour your serum into a 2 oz. bottle. I use a dropper bottle because it looks cool and it keeps your bottle from getting oily when you use it. Make sure to label it in some way! I generally find that if things aren't labeled, I won't use them because I forget what it is.

To use your hair serum, rub a few drops between your palms, flip your hair upside down, and "scrunch" your hair from the ends with your oily hands. I find doing it this way keeps the roots from feeling too oily and it adds enough moisture to all of my hair to keep it curly and not frizzy. If you have thick hair don't be afraid to use a whole dropperful of oil. It's like a leave-in conditioner and your hair will love you for it!

Disclosure: Wild Grace uses affiliate campaigns from Mountain Rose Herbs that may be displayed as text links or images such as banners, buttons and widgets.  When you click on these affiliate program links and make a purchase, a very small commission may be credited to Wild Grace.  The commission that I receive is very small and helps me to defray the cost of buying ingredients to craft skin + body care recipes.  When you do make a purchase using my Mountain Rose Herbs affiliate link, your purchase is the same price you would pay if you went directly to MountainRoseHerbs.com.  I sincerely appreciate your support and if you plan to purchase something anyway, I would be truly grateful if you did so through my affiliate link to Mountain Rose Herbs.

The Mercies of Pain

Katie Gordon

When I was in high school I had a boyfriend who, some might say, I shouldn’t have been with.  I don’t like labeling people, but I feel okay saying he had some issues.  I know now that he was in my life to teach me lessons about how I treat myself, but until very recently, I blamed him for a lot of the emotional pain I’d felt for so long.  It took a lot of tears, and facing my fear of feeling that grief and anger for me to finally realize I had been in a holding pattern since I was 14, resulting in stabbing pain in my upper back.  I had been pushing him and his memory away without really letting his presence go and without learning the lesson I was meant to receive from him.  As Pema Chodron says, “Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” So there I was, in physical pain for years because I didn’t trust that I could handle the emotional pain that would inevitably come up.  The day I finally allowed myself to feel, REALLY FEEL, my anger toward him, and also toward myself for abandoning my sweet 14-year-old self way back then, the pain began to fade away.

We all have aches and pains.  They can be caused by old injuries, scars, lack of movement, and musculoskeletal tension pulling our bodies out of alignment and into contorted shapes.  But sometimes our memories, our stories, internal scars, wounds, the things we tell ourselves every day subconsciously can be the cause of chronic pain in our physical bodies.

The thing is, we hold onto stuff.  We love to hold onto stories, retelling them to ourselves, our therapists, our friends over and over again.  Even when we know it's not serving us, even when the actual event is long past.  Our bodies hold this trauma in our tissues, our muscles, fascia, blood, even bones.  Threads get wrapped around themselves, tangled up, knotted, sending shadowy tendrils out through the rest of our bodies, keeping our past pain in our present moments.  But in the words of Rumi, “Pain is a treasure, for it contains mercies.”

flower ribs

 Pain is vital: Our bodies signal pain to tell us when something isn’t quite right, so we can address our environment, choices in our lives, or our connections with others.  The problem arises when we don’t allow ourselves to fully feel the pain, recognize it for what it is, and let it go.  In order to let go and free the physical body from pain and tension, we must be aware of where the root of tension lives.

That tension in your upper back may be from tightness in the chest.  When muscles in the front body are tight they strain muscles in back, so if your pecs are tight from overuse and under-stretching, your upper back may feel the effects.  Did you know tension is also caused by grief, anger, loss of personal power, or frustration?  And not that irritated kind of frustration, but actual rage?

Do you have chronic jaw tension?  Grind or clench your teeth at night?  Get tension headaches?  Pause and ask yourself “Have you been speaking your truth?  Or is there something you’re not saying?” Speaking your truth isn’t about talking without a filter.  It’s about saying what needs to be said, when it needs to be said, to whom it needs to be said.  It’s about sharing your soul’s work with the world, and showing up authentically every day.

rollins

Everything we tell ourselves about the sensation of pain is in our mind. Our thoughts, emotions, and stories are the reaction, but it is in integrating our emotional and physical pain that we can begin to process and release. I invite you to take just 30 seconds to feel your body, sit with the sensation of pain, and compassionately begin to connect your emotional and physical states. Visualize yourself embracing your pain, thanking it for its lesson, and letting it go. Pain isn’t bad - our scars are beautiful.  When we can feel them, breathe into them, unwind and lay them out, they become our connection to self, our fellow human beings, and our message of truth to the world.

Piece by Piece: Deconstructing an Eating Disorder

Katie Gordon

skeleton in the closetAfter announcing the creation of Wild Grace, my health coaching and bodywork practice specifically for women working with disordered eating, addiction, and trauma, the response was overwhelming. It made me realize something I already knew, but find difficult to put into practice: People love when you get real. Like, nitty-gritty real. Sure, nice stories about recovery from disordered eating and living happily ever sound good. Sometimes we even need them to give us hope and inspiration, but the truth is that the rest of us may have stories that don’t sound as nice. I’m making it my mission to give people the space, support, and deep love to be able to speak their truth, to tell their story without the fear that they’ll scare someone away. I kept waiting for that a-ha moment.  The moment when I’d feel the vice grip release and I could breathe again.  When that internal monologue would finally shut off, and I’d be able to look at a plate of lovingly prepared food without thinking about whether or not I’d exercised enough, or restricted enough, or what I’d be doing the next day to deserve eating it now.  That moment never came. There were a few times when I thought I had it, when I felt the hard edges soften, my rules start to bend, and my heart begin to show her true self.  Inevitably, within a few days that light bulb would dim and I’d be back to where I was before, only now with the disappointment in myself because I couldn’t keep up the illusion.

It took a long time for me to realize that this approach is actually extremely passive.  I was waiting for the right time, the right conditions, the right situation with the right people to all come together in one moment and flip that switch for me. It was like I was sitting at the beginning of a path, waiting for the Universe to pick me up and set me on my feet at the end. Over time I realized that if I wanted something to change I couldn’t wait for it to happen to me.  It took me until halfway through my health coach certification program for me to begin to understand how to take those first excruciating steps.  After years of treatment, therapists, and dietitians I had only JUST started on this path of recovery.

At first this realization made me even angrier.  How could I have been working for so many years and gotten nowhere? What the f*ck had I been doing with myself? I had become jaded, pissed off, and untrusting. In a way it felt like a waste, and at times I wish I could go back to make my college years a little less painful.

But in my anger I learned.  I learned to honor the power of my anger, to know that it’s not ‘bad’, but rather something to listen to and feel.  Anger is a powerful teacher.  I was afraid to listen, afraid to feel, and afraid to go to that deep place within myself where anger lived. It was ugly, dark, and gnarly.  Mostly, though, I was afraid of letting anger out, because who knew what would come out along with her.  Would I ever be able to get her back under control?  To tighten the lid back on, apologize to whoever was in her path of destruction, and get on with my life?

The thing is, I wasn’t fooling anyone.  Maybe they weren’t seeing the full extent and depth of it, but anyone could see something was there, seething just beneath the surface.  So I decided to give up being ‘nice’:  It wasn’t really working for me.  I have a huge and beautiful heart.  I don’t need nice.  Being nice only served to make me small, from which place I wouldn’t be of any use to myself or anyone else.  Instead, I’d set boundaries while loving my family and friends unconditionally.  Because love isn’t nice.  Love is speaking your truth, listening, and creating space where it’s safe to open our hearts to each other.  Love is getting real, getting into the nitty-gritty, and trusting that whoever’s there with you is meant to be there.  Love is having faith that everything destined to happen will happen.

My full story will eventually make it out. I’m sure it gets easier to write, easier to take that next step and gain momentum.  Right now, each word, each tiny step is still a bit like giving birth to a piece of my soul.  But it’s real.  And with each word, the vice grip of anger, of control, of restriction loosens and I fall in love with myself that much more.

My point is this: no matter what your story is, stop waiting for the a-ha moment.  Recovery from addiction, an eating disorder, or trauma, is a series of conscious decisions to take that next step, a process of unraveling that thread a millimeter at a time.  The more gut-wrenching it is to unwind it all and take that step the more truth your story holds. Within that pain, that work, and that struggle is where your power lies.

Cleanse with Oil!

Katie Gordon

For so long we heard that if we have oily skin, we shouldn't use skincare with oil in it.  How many moisturizers do you see lining the shelves of drug stores, Whole Foods, etc. with "oil-free" in the name.  The belief was that if you have oily skin, why would you want to add more oil?  Now we know better.  It's kind of like low-fat diets.  We all know now the whole low-fat craze was BS, right?  Right.

Think about it: we wash our faces with cleansers that strip away the naturally-occurring oil, only to replace it with unnaturally-occurring moisturizer.  If we're feeding our bodies with whole foods, why aren't we doing the same for our skin?

But oil for your skin?  Won't that clog my pores?  No.  Oil attracts and dissolves oil, so the nourishing oil that you're putting on your face will wipe away the dirty oil that accumulates on your skin all day.  AND it's great for removing make-up.  AND you know exactly what you're putting on your face.  A lot of the nasty, harsh chemicals in cleansers strip your skin's sebum, resulting in over-production of oil, leading to clogged pores, blackheads, and irritation.  So if you feel like you've been fighting a losing battle with your skin for years, try cleansing with oil.

Want to find out more about the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM)?  Check it out at Crunchy Betty.  I love this lady.  She makes natural beauty easy and more approachable, even for those of us who wouldn't necessarily describe ourselves as "crunchy".  In her post on the OCM she gives details on which oils to use for your skin type and things to add in for extra fun.