Spring is finally here! I look forward to this time of year, like most people who live in northern climates. The snows thaw, temperatures warm and nature begins to come back to life. It’s time for the fresh and the new; and it’s also time to let some old things go. Yep, Spring Cleaning time! Pull out, dust out, clean out, throw out. Works great for our outer stuff. But what about our inner stuff?
Our inner worlds are also cluttered with old emotional habits and patterns that no longer fit. If we were to analyze our negative internal dialogue, for example, we would likely find that underneath all its layers lies a fear of some kind that holds us back from being or expressing our most awesome selves. The question is: how do you throw that fear stuff out?
Recognize your fear and how it expresses itself.
That’s not always an easy thing. The tell-tale, fear red flags are anxiety or worry. Our bodies are really good at carrying these signs. You might feel your stomach turning or butterflying; you might have a headache; you might feel down or like you’re carrying a heavy weight; your heart might literally ache a little or be beating a little too fast. These physical sensations are usually quickly followed by some self-talk, usually judgemental, mean and self-deprecating. Yep. That be Fear going on inside you.
Here’s a little story from my Life’s Safari to help illustrate. When I began Free Lion, I was making Vegan Leather bags (available through my Etsy Store. I still make them to order). After graduating from Architecture school, I had been a stay-at-home and then part-time working Mom. After my divorce, I had to focus on making a full-time living. I had always wanted to work for myself as an artist/artisan, selling what I made. But, I was broke and terrified, with no real confidence that I could run my own business.
When I sat to work at the sewing machine. I would feel that knot in my stomach and my heart would race a little. Then the thoughts would start. “You’ll never succeed. You think that’s even good enough? No one is going to buy that! Everyone is going to see you have no talent.”
I would argue with those voices in my head to hold them at bay while I sewed. This went on until I noticed that it was taking me forever to make a bag because I was spending more energy and time focused on fighting with the voices than on sewing. That was the day that I started questioning the voices in my head.
Question the Voices in your Head
I was working with a counsellor at the time who introduced me to Byron Katie and The Work, a meditative approach to opening to your heart’s voice and your personal truths. The goal is to be who you ARE, not what others think you SHOULD be. The process is not to simply replace a negative thought with a positive affirmation, a la Louise Hay or The Secret. It goes much deeper than that. It helps you become mindfully aware of your thoughts and the effect they have on you, so that you can change your relationship with them.
Most of us react in situations on auto-pilot, using stress survival habits we learned as children. Katie lays out 4 questions to ask yourself in the face of negative thoughts or fear feelings. My counsellor added one more, which helped me to stop taking on other people’s stuff by identifying which beliefs/thoughts were mine and which belonged elsewhere. Asking yourself the questions gives you a moment to slow down, witness, analyze, evaluate and choose how to respond. It takes you from reacting on auto-pilot to responsively using your own agency.
Here are Katie’s questions, plus the one more from my counselor. Sit with each question one at a time, in order. Go inside and listen for the answers that come up, paying attention to your internal dialogue, body sensations, etc. As in, "What comes up for you?" I found it useful to record my answers in a journal so that I could go back over them, analyze and re-evaluate.
So back to the story of me struggling at the sewing machine with vinyl and voices in my head. Care to walk through the Katie questions with me? Ok. Close eyes. Deep Breath. And then another one. And one more. Blow it all out. Now, take one more. Breathe.
The Statement under question,
"You’ll never succeed."
1. Is it true?
Hmmm. I don’t know. I’ve never run my own business before and actually, I’m just fricking scared right now.
2. Can you absolutely know it’s true?
Meaning do I have Actual Factual, tangible evidence that it’s true, that I won't succeed? Uh, well no. I guess i don't. I haven’t done it before so i have no concrete experience or numbers to prove I won't succeed. So it might be possible, right? I might actually be able to do this.
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
I feel sick, my stomach turns; i feel anxious, scared, like a loser, helpless, crippled, disempowered, unworthy, alone, kinda abandoned. Yeah. This sucks.
4. Where did you learn this idea?
Hmmm. My dad, rest his soul. He was a talented artist who wanted to be a graphic designer. In fact, in 1964 he was all set to start a job with an advertising firm in Nairobi, Kenya. Due to family circumstances, he had to join the family restaurant business. He quietly set aside his dreams, and never talked much about his own disappointment, or how he lived with it. He was, however, the voice of doom in all of our own career explorations. Sadly, Dad didn’t have a Byron Katie to help him out. But I do.
Ok, so this isn’t my own belief at all. I learned it from Dad. It's a limiting belief that comes from his experiences and fears. His idea of success was a professional career, not one based on craft or manual labour. I have professional credentials, but I haven't worked in architecture for 11 years. I'm behind on the career track. and the industry has become computerized. I would have to retrain, something I don't have time for. Besides, I would rather run my own business, designing, making and selling my own work.
I am not my father. I don’t have to listen to his fears and values anymore. I don't have to let them hold me back. "Thanks for worrying about me, Dad but I'm not a lesser person for enjoying designing and working with my hands. I am not a lesser person for not meeting your expectations."
This is huge! I can give myself permission to make another choice. I can work at wiping Dad’s broken dream from my inner dialogue, without shame or guilt; I can listen to my heart’s truth; I can shift my perspective; I can focus on bringing my own dream to life, one step at a time. And if I get stuck, I can ask for help. Hell Ya! A hallelujah door just opened up in the sky (cue choir of Angels)!
5. What happens when you believe something else?
When I believe that success is possible, the way that feels true to me, I feel more relaxed, grounded, capable, determined. While I am looking at a mountain to climb, I feel scared yet excited, hopeful. Maybe I WILL be able to do this after all. Woohoo!
Choose your own Adventure
The beauty of this process is that you can CHOOSE your own beliefs, your own feelings, your own adventure. You do not have to be weighed down by beliefs that are the projections of someone else’s broken dreams or expectations. Nor do you have to be wracked with guilt for not living up to them. It doesn’t mean that you won’t ever feel fear or have limiting beliefs ever again--you will. But now you’ll have a method to face each one, break it down, shift your perspective and choose something else.
Did you notice that the answer to the question involving my Dad was the longest of all the answers? That’s not an accident. The stuff that we inherit from childhood is actually the most complex stuff to dismantle and throw out. But it is possible to do. Just go slowly, layer by layer. And be kind with yourself.
Just remember that you were born with abilities, predispositions and talents written right into your DNA. That’s your nature. How you are raised and taught (that's Nurture) can sometimes wreak havoc with your inner balance. So, it’s down to you to honour your own nature and nurture yourself back into wholeness
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team
How do you overcome fears? Do you have a process that works for you?
Humans have been rocking rocks and crystals probably for as long as we’ve been in existence. Talismans and amulets are unearthed in countless archeological digs all over the world. The Ancients, it seems, had an understanding that matter is affected by the flow of energy (Chi, Prana, Life Force) and vice versa. Today, thanks to the genius of scientists like Nikola Tesla, we understand that all things in the universe are forms of energy with their own frequency and vibrations--including crystals. Tesla declared this the key to understanding the universe, proving how certain forms of energy can alter the vibrational resonance of other forms of energy when they occupy the same space.
Human trust in the Stone People (as they are known by many Aboriginal peoples) and crystals hasn’t ebbed away. Healing crystals and stones are still a thing, used to align and alter the vibration of body cells, chakras and subtle bodies (that's your emotional, mental field and intuitive fields). These ancient practices still continue while scientists and doctors develop their medicinal solutions. What I’ve come to understand is that one can support the other. Healing is dependent on many, many variables, and no one healing practice has all the answers. Our critical thinking, discernment, feelings and intuition play a huge role in the choices we make for ourselves in these areas. And what works for one may not work the same way for another.
When I was growing up, talismans for support and protection were definitely a part of my life. My mother would tie a cord around my neck made from red and green string strands twisted together. The red stood for passion, life blood; the green for verdant peace. Seven knots were tied into the cord, a protection prayer solemnly spoken over each one. Its job, she said, was to keep me safe and surrounded by some positive vibes.
In Gujarat (where my people and Gandhi come from) there is a long, ancient tradition of wearing Navratan Jewelry. Navratan means, “nine gems” and refers to the nine different stones set into a single piece of jewelry, very often a pendant. The stones are chosen for their healing and balancing properties and their association with the nine planets in Indian astrology. By wearing this jewelry, it is believed you call in the qualities and energy of each stone and corresponding planet to yourself, thus making life a little easier to navigate. An interesting side note in the lore of these gems: each one is described as having a positive AND negative qualities, just like your average human (hence “Stone People”). When placed together in the same jewelry piece, the stones work to support one another but also to keep each other in check and balance.
Are the stones themselves the actual source of healing; or is it our BELIEF in them? Or is it both? I don’t know for sure. But I will say this: Medical research has shown that positive beliefs, attitudes and the determination to heal play a huge role in recovery. So if the Stone People do nothing more for us than act as a catalyst for a perspective shift from “I am a victim of life” to “I have Choice and Agency in my life,” then I, for one, will wear them and say, “Thank you.”
Lately in the Free Lion Studio, we’ve been making beaded Aroma bracelets combining Lava and gemstones to bring together the benefits of stone and crystal healing with Aromatherapy. In the spirit of my ancestors’ Navratan jewelry, I have been wearing a number of bracelets so that the Stone Peeps can work their magic together: Lava, Green Jade, Sodalite and Aventurine. Placebo or not, gotta tell ya, I’ve been feeling help to stay grounded as I go through some changes in my business and personal life. Guess I can thank the Lava for that. I’m working at growing Free Lion which means some creative thinking and dreaming the new dream. Yay, Green Jade! And staying balanced and centered in my emotions and self-care has been critical to navigating the changes. Woohoo, Aventurine! Writing these blogs has been an excellent adventure so far. I spent many years in self-doubt about my writing abilities and was nervous about putting myself out there. Thanks for the solid, Sodalite!
Check out our Lava Bead Aroma Bracelets. They allow you to take your Aromatherapy with you wherever you go. Aesthetically simple and clean; elasticated and easy to wear, they can be worn alone or in combination, depending on your Stone Peep needs. And they are a really good option for kids who benefit from Aromatherapy.
In the end it comes down to personal experience and choice. Trust your gut: it knows you better than anyone else.
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team
When I say “Avocado”, do you say “Guacamole”? Well hopefully by the end of this article you’ll be saying, “Beautiful Skin and Hair”.
Avocado Oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A, D and E, which provide skin with deep moisturizing. The oil of an avocado easily penetrates and is quickly absorbed by the skin. And it’s also thick enough to serve as a protective barrier.
Avocado can also help repair damaged hair. Its rich fatty acids coat your hair shaft and help it retain moisture while providing your hair with long lasting and deep hydration. Its rich cache of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals help condition hair, promoting damage repair, healthy hair growth and nurture frizzy hair. And it just may soothe that itchy scalp issue, too!
Where Does Avocado Oil Come From?
The fruits of the Persea gratissima – better known as the Avocado tree – are native to Mexico, Central, and South America. For its countless benefits, the Avocado was considered a precious fruit. It was believed to bestow immense vigour, maintain good health, relieve intestinal issues, and promote healthy hair growth. The Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans also spread the fruit pulp on their skin for cosmetic purposes. Yep, these wise people knew a thing or two about how to stay healthy and beautiful.
And then along came the Europeans. Due to the value placed on the Avocado, European conquerors loaded up their ships with it and other fruits and vegetables they then introduced to other parts of the world. And this, folks is how avocados, potatoes and tomatoes (among many other plants) circumambulated the world.
Avocados Are Nature's Gift to Good Health
Avocado fruits have greenish or yellowish flesh with a buttery consistency and a very rich, nutty taste. Avocado oil is pressed from this yummy fleshy pulp, making it one of the few edible oils not derived from seed. Most fruits are high in carbohydrates, but not avocados--they are uniquely high in healthy fats. including oleic acid and essential fatty acids. They are also rich in Vitamins A, B, C and E. Studies have found avocado oil helpful in preventing the onset of diabetes, high cholesterol, triglyceride levels and obesity. In France, it even has prescription drug status because of its proven ability to counter the negative effects of arthritis
Avocados are a wonderful fruit or oil to eat, for health and beauty from the inside out. And a beautiful oil to use on the skin due to hits very high skin penetration and rapid absorption properties. Yay Avocado! Oh but wait. There’s MORE!
Aids in Treating Wounds
Avocado oil can help heal wounds, according to a 2013 study. Researchers found that avocado oil can promote increased collagen synthesis while decreasing numbers of inflammatory cells during the wound-healing process. How cool is that?
Soothes Sunburned Skin
In addition to providing the skin with moisture, the antioxidants, flavonoids, and phenolic acids found in avocado oil can help soothe sunburned skin. Ok, this is even “cooler”. :)
If you’ve been in the sun and feel your skin is a little dry from the heat, or sunburned, try this hydrating and cooling body mask. Combine mashed avocado, 1/2 teaspoon of honey, and 1/4 teaspoon of lime juice in a bowl. Apply liberally over the skin and leave on for 10-15 minutes to enjoy the healing and hydrating effects.
Boosts Collagen Production, Reduces Itching and Inflammation
Avocado oil also contains sterolins, natural steroids that may be effective in boosting collagen production and in treating age spots. Sterolin is known to soften the skin and reduce the appearance of age spots. Its also high in lecithin, a lipid that helps deliver nutrients directly into the bloodstream and deeper layers of skin.
With its high level of vitamin E, avocado oil may reduce itching and skin inflammation and is also beneficial in softening rough and cracked patches. Dry skin needs soothing foods like avocados to stay moisturized and hydrated. Ok, Menopause, bring it on. I’ve got Avocados!
Can help repair damaged hair
Avocado’s rich fatty acids coat your hair shaft and help it retain moisture while providing your hair with long lasting and deep hydration. Its antioxidants, vitamins and minerals condition hair, promoting damage repair and healthy hair growth. It’ll also help nurture frizzy hair and repair split ends. And it just may soothe that itchy scalp issue.
We use Avocado Oil in some of our products, too!
We use Avocado Oil in some of our formulas, like our Body Butters. I’ve designed these butters to keep your skin moisturized, smooth and supple. Avocado oil plays a big role in making that magic happen.
It’s also a big part of our Face Chai face care system for Mature/Dry skin, soon to be explored in further detail in forthcoming newsletters. Stay tuned. In the mean time, here are some DIY recipes you can try at home. See if Avocado is YOUR magic fruit.
Coco-Creamy Green Moisturizing Mask--
An anti-wrinkle, healing option for dry skin
1/2 teaspoon plain yogurt
1 tablespoon Oat flour
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon coconut oil
Scoop out avocado and mash it in a bowl until its smooth, no lumps. Add yogurt, lemon juice, oat flour and oil. Mix well. Spread a small amount over the face. Pick a good book to read for about 20 minutes. Wash from face followed by gentle massaging motions. That’ll help stimulate your circulation so you don’t have to go get one of those crazy face vibrators that are out there right now. Seriously. Not making that up.
Simple Hydrating Avocado Hair Mask
This one is very old school.
1 avocado, mashed smooth, no lumps
After shampooing your hair, apply mashed avocado directly onto your hair, massaging it into the scalp and the hair, from root to tip. Work some extra into those split ends. Clip up your hair and wrap in a towel or put on a shower cap.Leave the mask on for about 10 minutes before rinsing clean.
Avocado And Banana Hair Mask
Deep Conditioning Treatment For Dry Hair: This recipe can even maintain your naturally curly hair gloss.
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 ripe avocado, mashed
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2-3 drops of your favourite essential oil, such as lavender, rose, sweet orange or jasmine.
Mash banana and avocado together in a bowl, until they form a smooth paste without any lumps. Add olive oil and essential oil drops. Stir all the ingredients together until you have a smooth mixture of uniform consistency.
After shampooing your hair, apply mashed avocado directly onto your hair, massaging it into the scalp and the hair, from root to tip. Work some extra into those split ends. Clip up your hair and wrap in a towel or put on a shower cap. Leave the mask on for about 20 minutes or longer before rinsing clean. Rinse as many times as needed to remove the mask entirely.
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team
What's your favourite Avocado health or beauty recipe?
It's flu season, and I’m down for the count with sniffles, cough, congested chest, sinus pain and a headache to beat the band. My go-to in this situation is a wellness tea passed on from my grandmother. Back in her day, Nanima was the neighbourhood Ayurvedic concoctionist. People would park themselves in her kitchen, chatting, while she blended them a healing brew. She wasn't a purist, though. She'd take the best of Western medicine alongside her home remedies.
In that spirit, I have Tylenol at the ready for head and sinus pain. And Nanima's tea to ease cough and congestion.
What’s in the Wellness Tea?
Freshly sliced ginger
Ginger contains a high quantity of antioxidants that help boost your immune system against the common cold or flu. Its potent anti-inflammatory properties effectively sooths a sore throat. It’s has antimicrobial properties help your body fight cold causing viruses. Ginger is also helpful for settling upset stomachs, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and cold sweats.
Flesh lemon slices
Lemon juice is rich in vitamin C which works to neutralize the disease causing pathogens along with boosting your body’s immune system.
Tumeric is full of curcumin which is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral. It can help relieve chest congestion, runny nose and open up the sinuses, especially when put in boiling water.
Honey soothes a sore throat, making it an affective, natural cough suppressant. It’s anti-microbial properties help reduce inflammation.
Activates the healing properties of these natural ingredients and adds the physical sensation of warmth and comfort.
Optional : Brandy
Brandy also has anti-microbial properties that help cut up the mucus built up by a cold. It is warming to the chest and throat. In small doses, it can be calming and settle you in for a good night’s sleep.
Free Lion Wellness Tea
1 tsp sliced fresh ginger
2 slices fresh lemon with zest
1/2 tsp tumeric powder
1 tsp honey
1 cup boiling water
Optional: 1oz Brandy
Place sliced ginger, lemon, turmeric powder, honey (and Brandy, if desired) in an 8-12oz mug.
Pour boiling water over ingredients, filling mug. Stir and let steep. Sip slowly until it’s all gone.
This flu season, rest up and be good to you!
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion