When the Healthy Coastal Lifestyle Bites You in the Butt

I did everything that I was supposed to do. I watched what I ate; walked, jogged, and did cardio classes; weight-trained; and practiced yoga. As a result, I dropped a good bit of weight, improved my overall health, toned up, and started feeling quite amazing. In short, I made significant strides to taking a bunch of weight off my knees so they would be stronger and not hurt.

In the epitome of kicks-in-the-teeth, the cruelest of ironies, improving my health to make my knees happier wore one of them down. It’s the classic, “Well, shit.” moment.

Earlier this year, my left knee started swelling and staying swollen for no discernible reason, and it started twinging a bit. My daughter pushed me to go to the doctor to see what was up. A doctor’s appointment, x-rays, a follow-up, and an orthopedic referral later, I have an answer, and I don’t like it: Arthritis. My orthopedist compared images of my left knee from three years ago to Tuesday’s images and noticed some definite degeneration. The very things I had been doing to improve my health hurt my knee. That was really disappointing.

I’m trying to be positive. One, I was doing everything right, and my doctor was pleased with the improvements I’d made to my health, because that’s part of the treatment for the knee. I didn’t damage it doing stupid stuff. Two, I’m under no restrictions. I can still walk, run, take aerobics classes, practice yoga, and do weight training. In fact, he was kind enough to give me even more exercises to do! Granted, they’re dreaded wall squats and lifts, but the quads and knees are already feeling more settled. Three, he sees no reason why I shouldn’t be able to achieve my goal of completing a 5K later this year or doing some hiking.

I simply have to add things to my life I wasn’t prepared to add at this point. I have to add anti-inflammatory medications or supplements to my life – and I really don’t like having to take medicine if I can avoid it. I have to add rehab exercises to an increasingly busy schedule. I have to add the reality of considering cortisone shots versus pill-popping – and I HATE needles!

This is my new reality: A body that is beginning to show some signs of age. Now, I have a choice. I can either accept this new reality and deal with it; or I can pretend it doesn’t exist, give up, and undo all the progress I’ve made. That choice is pretty easy to make. I’ve just gotta grab my turmeric and knee brace, and I’m back on the move.

Joy Begins with Gratitude

As soon as the teen declutters her folder in my Dropbox – she’s got a video in there she’s working on for a cool project she’s doing – I’ll begin talking more about our Tidying Up a la the KonMari Method, complete with pictures.

I read Marie’s book, and some of her beliefs and how they translate into her method strike me as strange. Her beliefs, not so much, but how she ties them in with tidying… That’s another story. If you catch her show on Netflix, she begins each home visit with a time of meditation in which she introduces herself to the home and thanks it for what it does for the home’s owners. It seems strange to thank an inanimate object for anything.

In Marie’s book, she advises thanking your home each time you enter. She suggests thanking everything you get rid of for what it did for you or taught you. The focus of the KonMari method is being intentional about what you keep, not what you discard, and keeping only those things that spark joy. When we express gratitude for what we have, we find our attitude towards it changes.

As I’ve said before, I’m not a “stuff” person, so finding joy in what I have is rather a reach for me. That being said, I’ll try almost anything once with the belief that, if it doesn’t work for me, I can always go back to what I did before or try something new. No big deal. Following the KonMari Method, I became intentional about making the bed every day. Then I decided that the last person up should make the bed, so I only do it half the time. It’s nice sinking into a nicely-made bed with fluffed pillows each night. My husband, though… He has to put up with some girly pillows. Poor guy.

I don’t verbalize “thank you” to my house when I enter. Generally, I’m simultaneously kicking my shoes off, hanging up my purse, and keeping a cat from slipping out. At night is when the gratitude is most available to me. I slip my day clothes off and let them rest on my bed before changing into what the evening holds – loungewear or workout wear. When I get ready for bed, I put my day clothes away and thank them for what they did for me. Same with my lounge wear and workout wear. As I do this, I’ve noticed a couple of new things. One, no matter how tired I am, I will still take the time to put the clothes away. Two, I am becoming more grateful for these clothing items.

Gratitude is also part of the practice of yoga. One of our instructors says every practice, “Think of someone you’re grateful for, maybe someone who made it possible for you to be here tonight.” My thoughts immediately go to whoever is home and cooking dinner while I practice. It’s one thing to think, It’s so nice of my teen to make dinner while I’m at yoga! It’s still another thing to feel grateful in my heart for her doing this. When I go home, though, and tell her “thank you,” that gratitude is out in the open. It becomes a tangible thing that fills her heart and mind so she can then share my joy. She blooms in front of me in those moments.

With these expressions of gratitude comes an understanding of joy in my things. I have always appreciated my things and taken great care of them. Now, I will know the joy they spark when it comes time to tidy again and to cull out.

Part of the healthy coastal lifestyle is having good mental health and a healthy space. These are interconnected, and feeling and expressing gratitude helps promote good mental health and good, healthy relationships. How do you express gratitude for the things you have and for the people who help make your life possible? Drop a comment below.

So far, we’ve done clothes and books. My trunk is filled with bags of clothes and my living room still holds bags of clothes and boxes of books, all ready to donate.

Slayin’ it in 2019

It’s 2019 – new year, new beginnings. Where are you in your life? Settling into your resolutions okay and ramping up your goals? As I’m heading into an exciting year, I wanted to pass on some thoughts about ways I’m planning on making 2019 all mine. Feel free to use these tips and hints to make 2019 an amazing year.

  1. Set goals. Make goals, not resolutions. Think about what you want your life to look like in December. Now, figure out what you need to do to get there. Creating smaller goals as stair-steps toward your final goal (or next big stair-step goal) will give you a feeling of accomplishment all year.
  2. Give grace. Grace needs to be like glitter at a tween princess party – that craps needs to be everywhere! Someone rub you the wrong way? Give them some grace. Got a child who’s missed her responsibilities one day because she’s not feeling well? Give her the grace. Most importantly, though, spread some of this same grace to yourself. While glitter may be the herpes of the craft world, grace is like the warm sunshine after weeks of winter cold; you want that stuff to pour out and spread everywhere.
  3. Move it. Walk, run, or bike. Find an aerobics class. Practice yoga. Stream pilates workouts through your TV, computer, or phone. Just do something to be more active. Now, do it after the Superbowl, too, not just for the first few weeks of the year. The World Health Organization and the US Department of Health and Human Services both recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity per week or a minimum of 75 minutes of vigorous activity. I’m proud of the fact that last week, I averaged 58 minutes of activity each day. That’s over 400 minutes total! Some days were heavier on the activity than others, and that’s OK.
  4. Eat well. Part of eating well includes eating good tasting food. It also includes not depriving ourselves. You’ve heard me say before and I’ll say again, “Just eat the damn dessert!” Need chocolate because your day sucked? Eat chocolate. Your spouse cooked a hearty, hot, calorie-laden meal on a cold night that is comfort on a platter. Savor every. Single. Bite. As my family was planning a get-together with friends for the Flotilla, my friend said, “I’ll just make that my cheat day.” Ha! December was my cheat month! But I still got out and got moving a few times a week. But then it rained. (That’s where #2 comes in.)
  5. Live. Find reasons to do that one thing that will make your year memorable. Forget about buying stuff; instead, have experiences and make memories. What if there was that trip you wanted to take? Make this the year you take that trip or at least start planning that trip.

This year is rife with promise. Claim this year as an amazing year, the year that you make amazing things happen. How are you going to do this? Let us know in the comments below.

Introducing Caribbean Carnivale

Caribbean Carnivale Soap

Earlier this year, my younger daughter wanted to take a stab at making soap.  She was (and is) a bit young to fly solo, but she was able to plan and design her soap and handle the inert ingredients.  In all, she did enough to make this soap hers.

As you can see from the pictures, these soaps are totally gorgeous!  They perfectly capture the exuberance and effervescence of Carnivale on a Caribbean island.  They’re bright, bold, and lively.  Their scent, you ask?  A fresh, zesty bergamot and tangerine blend will practically make your head spin with its citrus blast.

Close-up of the Swirls

My daughter says the swirls are like the sunset on the ocean.  You can see the fiery blaze of the setting sun around two of the edges and the sun burnishing the waves with shades of red and purple.  What an amazing way to bring the beach to your bath – an exotic, Caribbean beach!

To bring this little bit of the beach home – and Caribbean beaches are absolutely gorgeous! – take a stroll through our web boutique and pick up one of these special, limited edition soaps before they’re all gone.

I’m always on the lookout for amazing beaches.  Got a favorite?  Tell us all about it in the comments.

I Messed Up, Y’all

Screen shot
My activity tracker for last week

You see it there, folks.  My daily goal to hit 30 minutes of activity a day tanked last week.  There’s no excuse.  The weather was decent, I made it to yoga two days, and I wasn’t that sick.  (My teen brought a cold virus home from a rafting trip and, well, sharing is caring.)

If I were dieting with a goal of nothing but weight loss, I’d have gotten discouraged. I was feeling soft around the middle, slack, and unhealthy. When you’re dieting and exercising just to lose weight, it’s so easy to think, “I’m a failure” when you fall out of your fitness routine. Were this my mindset, I’d have shrugged in resignation and taken the attitude of just quitting, because I’d already fallen so far off the wagon.

I’m not dieting to lose weight, though, so this is where having the goal of cultivating a healthy lifestyle comes in and makes a significant difference. I had already planned to go through a toning/training circuit Sunday afternoon. Sunday morning while chatting with my friend and aerobics instructor, she encouraged me on all the weight I’d lost. That little bit gave me the extra boost I needed to get back on track.

Just because I got off track last week doesn’t mean I have to stay off track this week. That goes for all of our goals, though, doesn’t it? Whether we’re working toward work goals, fitness goals, relationship goals, or home goals, the truth is, we’re not going to succeed every week. Mess happens, life happens. We cannot, however, take that one week of failure over against many weeks of rousing success and allow that one to undo all the rest of our hard work.

I jumped on that attitude. Training/toning Sunday, rest Monday, 2.5 mile walk and yoga on Tuesday, more toning yesterday, and today a walk on the beach. I feel better and more successful already.

What goal are you striving toward that you could use a little (or a lot) of encouragement on? I invite you to drop it in the comments below.

Embrace Your Mantra

Last night was my yoga night.  My younger daughter had asked me to skip yoga Tuesday night since we were celebrating her birthday, so I was really in need of last night’s stretching and strengthening.  The yoga master invited us to think of a mantra, not something I’d come across in practice before.  While the suggested mantras were self-affirming – “I am strong,”  “I am powerful,” and so forth – I found myself thanking God for making me strong.  Eventually, as the practice wore on, I thanked God that I am “wonderfully made.”

It doesn’t sound like I’m owning the hard work I’ve been doing on my body or affirming myself for who I am.  But I know myself.  If I were to say, “I’m so strong,” a part of my mind would ask, “But why aren’t you stronger?”  If I gave myself strokes for my increasing flexibility, inevitably I’d also come down hard on myself in that practice where my body is stiff and my mind is struggling to center itself in my flow.

I don’t often talk about my faith in my business content.  Not all my customers share my faith, and I don’t want to put walls up between them and me.  Last night was significant, though.  As I was in pigeon pose, I thanked God for making me strong and for making me so wonderfully.  You see, if God made me to be strong and knit me together wonderfully, then I must be put together pretty awesomely.  That means I can take satisfaction and find contentment in how I am, even with that patellar ligament that could be looser and that pose I don’t quite have the flexibility to pull off.  It means I can give myself the very necessary grace to carry that little roll around my middle and to still be working towards the stretching and flexibility I desire to have.

Yoga pigeon pose
Pigeon pose

So, my mantra for last night’s practice was, “Thank you, God, for making me wonderfully.”  That acknowledges that I am, in fact, put together well, that God made me to bend, stretch, and flex as I need to for yoga.  But it also liberates me from any potential negative or ungracious self-talk.  If God made me, then I must be made pretty well.  However, I need to honor my createdness by taking care of the creation.  I do this by following my healthy coastal lifestyle.

Then yesterday afternoon…  Yet another powerful reminder of how well we’re made and how much we really need to take care of our bodies.  On the recommendation of a friend, I watched this documentary on Netflix that shows exactly what sort of damage obesity does to the human body.  I’m not going to go into all the details, but let’s just say, it wasn’t pretty (or for the weak of stomach).  All the organs in the human body are crafted to fit together in blocks, like they’re part of a 3D puzzle.  Obesity severely compromises how they rest in the body and how those individual organs perform.  We think of obesity simply as being fat and possibly we recognize that it can lead to type 2 diabetes and stroke.  It can also lead to severe organ failure, any one of which is fatal.

Then how cool was it to hear the verse in Psalms during one of yesterday’s readings that reminds us, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (some versions say, “complexly”).  That tells me I need to pay significant attention to that verse, to sit with it for a bit, to remember that I am marvelously made, but that I also must respect my body by taking care of it. 

Time for your part.  Why not set a mantra for the week?  Make it affirming; you certainly deserve it.  Care to share?  Drop yours in the comments below.

What Facebook’s Changes Mean for Small Businesses

Facebook announced last week that they are changing – again – their algorithms.  This time, however, it’s in a way that I as a regular Facebook user like.  Facebook is going back to showing us posts from our friends and family members with fewer posts from companies, pages, and brands.  As a person on Facebook who uses social media to keep up with people I don’t get to see on a regular basis, this excites me.  I’m looking forward to not having to click on a friend’s profile to see what they’ve been up to.

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...
Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Français : Logo de Facebook Tiếng Việt: Logo Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a brand with a Facebook page, however, this means that even fewer people will see my page posts.  I’m not sweating it, though.  Why?  Because that’s not where I devote most of my promotional time and energy.  My Facebook page is a great place to post things on the run.  My branded Facebook group is where I spend the most time having fun and engaging with my customers.

Here are some of my thoughts on the changes and small business.

One, we shouldn’t put all our eggs in one basket. If you invest your savings in stocks, you wouldn’t chunk the whole lot in IBM or Apple; you’d put it into a mutual fund. We shouldn’t invest all our business promotion time/energy/money in one source, either. We don’t have control over what the stock market does, and we have no control over 3rd party entities, like Twitter, FB, Instagram, etc.

Two, Facebook will still make money from this move. It’ll just cost more to get the good reach. We might start seeing more ads from huge companies and fewer from small businesses.  I’m not going to put my money there, personally, when I’d rather invest that money elsewhere, like new product development.

Three, while we can’t control what the social media/networking companies (yes, profit-making companies) do, we CAN control what we do. Social media companies do not have our best interests at heart.  Their devotion is to their shareholders, investors, and employees.  They started these great social networks and figured out a way to monetize them.  So what can we as business owners do?  We can blog and send those newsletters out. We can engage with our customers intimately. We can make and keep our customers happy and show them our love and appreciation.

I’m not going to change much about how I market, because FB posts to my page aren’t doing much for me already. I’ll just keep on doing what I have been doing. For me, that’s blogging, sending emails, engaging with my group, and making personal contacts with customers.

What do you think about Facebook’s coming changes?  If you’re a business owner, how will Facebook’s changes impact how you market your business?  

Warming it up with Slow Cooker Tomato Soup

Brrr! I woke up a couple of days ago to discover that someone had turned off the heat! We went from summer to fall in a blink! I’m not a cold-weather person, so while Autumn is perfectly lovely, it’s not my favorite season, because I know what’s coming. (Then again, I did use the phrase “when Summer returns in December…” last night.) Be that as it may, Autumn is the perfect time of year to cook up something warm and comforting for dinner with planned-overs for either another dinner or lunch. Usually, “comforting” equals high-calorie and high-fat, but we don’t want to give up healthy for satisfying.  I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do when it’s cold is to go outside to exercise.  In fact, so many of us come as close as possible to hibernating when it gets cold, and all those pounds we lost in the spring and summer find us – and they bring friends with them!  LOTS of friends!

Poking around on Facebook, I discovered this incredible slow-cooked tomato soup recipe.  I love some good tomato soup on a chilly day – or any day, really – and it’s not unusual for us to have some cans in the pantry, at the very least.  When I found out, though, that I could easily and quickly whip up some soup in the slow-cooker, I got happy and immediately decided to let my family be the guinea pigs for this experiment.  Again, this isn’t my recipe, but it’s definitely worth sharing.

(Tomato soup from Sara Nesbitt on Vimeo.)

I have to keep my people to just one serving per meal, especially my teen daughter after soccer practice or a soccer game.

Tomato soup in the slow cooker

She’s usually famished after being on the field for an hour-and-a-half or so.  Here’s the recipe, step-by-step…

Ingredients:

  • 56 ounces Diced Tomatoes, Canned
  • 2 cups Vegetable Broth/Stock
  • 1/2 yellow onion, minced
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon garlic Powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 whole Bay Leaf
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup half & half or whole milk

Instructions:

  1. Add all ingredients in slow cooker in the order listed.
  2. Turn on slow cooker to high and cook for 3-4 hours. If you are cooking on low cook 6-8 hours.
  3. Pour 1/2 of the slow cooker into a blender and blend until smooth, repeat with the remaining 1/2 of the soup. Pour all of the soup back into the slow cooker and serve immediately or keep warm until ready to serve.

Cream of tomato soup
Delicious, hot cream of tomato soup

Using half-and-half, this recipe came up to 143 calories per serving, calculating 8 servings.  I prefer cooking this low and slow, turning the heat down to “warm” once the carrots are soft.  Pair it with grilled cheese on whole wheat, and you’ve got a wonderful, fairly healthy dinner*.  (My health app clocks this one at 400 calories, 55.7 g carbs, 22.5 g fat, and 19.7 g protein.)

Give this one a try, and drop a comment below letting me know what you think of it.

*Caveat… My health goals focus on overall health.  I don’t concentrate on reducing any one nutritional element in my endeavors, choosing instead to strive for balance. If you have health needs that require you to watch your carbohydrates, fat, cholesterol, or sodium, it is your responsibility to adjust the recipe to meet your unique needs.

 

Saying Good-bye

Back in December, I vended my annual holiday event, Mom by my side.  As she looked at my greatly minimized display of wares, she asked, “Why aren’t you selling lotions anymore?”

I replied, “Because they just weren’t selling, and they aren’t shelf-stable from year to year.”  I went on to explain about the freedom I’d felt at no longer being slave to my products and how liberating it is to be able to cut products out of my line when they’re no longer performing as I’d like them to do.

When I rebranded to form Coastal Carolina Soap Co., I resolved to keep the product offerings limited.  Even taking a less-than-objective view towards my display and my site under Sara’s Soaps ‘n Such, I thought it looked cluttered, and from a buyer’s perspective, the plethora of choices was overwhelming; there were just too many soaps from which to choose.  So after ruthlessly purging my inventory, I vowed, “Never again would I have so many soaps!”  That means, when I add a soap, I would have to choose a soap to get rid of.

I’m introducing a lovely new soap called Green Hibiscus Peach, which is a delightfully sophisticated peach with floral notes.  I’m also excited to announce the return of Orange Blossom, a soap I’d planned to carry over to the Coastal Carolina Soap brand from the beginning.  These soaps will be ready early May, just in time for Spring Fest.

So, what’s going?  After assessing my database and past year’s sales, I decided to discontinue Magnolia in Bloom.  I have ten of these beauties left in stock, and they will only be around for another month or so.

Magnolia in Bloom soap
Magnolia in Bloom soap

While I’m selling those soaps, I’ll be showing off the two grand new soaps that are coming out across my social media channels, and I’ll be broadcasting my swirling magic in our Facebook group.  I hope you’ll join us!

It’s Here! And I’m so excited!

It happened yesterday, and this week is the big launch! I decided to do something new and different with my business, and doing something new, especially in business, is always a crazy combination of scary and exciting.  I started a community on Facebook that is geared especially to my customers and those who have been following my brand.

So how did I come to this decision?  Facebook’s algorithms severely limit how many of my page’s posts cross my customers’ newsfeeds (unless I pay a lot of advertising costs), which sort of makes it, What’s the point?  With this reduced page reach, I’ve been feeling like I’m talking to myself most of the time, and, frankly, I do plenty of that offline without doing it on social media.  At the same time, there’s no denying the power of video, and by and large, my posts that include pictures and videos get the most reach and the most engagement.

When I first started out in business, shows and markets were the sustaining backbone of my revenues.  While schlepping tables, canopy, and products around wasn’t fun, interacting and engaging with my customers was a joy!  Now that I’m largely private label and wholesale with but two events a year, I miss engaging with my customers.  This allows me to do so more, whether we live across town or across the country from each other.

This is going to be fun, I just feel it!  And I hope you’ll join in the fun and the conversation.  You can find our group at this link.