Review – Art Naturals.

I decided to review Art Naturals for you today because I’m continually impressed with their products and am now using several of them. This company have not asked me to write this review. My blog isn’t anywhere near popular enough to warrant enlisting me for such a thing anyway. I’m writing this simply because good brands need recognition!

Art Naturals Argon Oil Organic Conditioner
Art Naturals Argon Oil Organic Conditioner

I first came across Art Naturals when looking around for hair conditioner with organic natural ingredients. I choose a different brand almost every time I shop because not many of the natural brands are actually effective conditioners. After trying Art Natural’s reasonably priced Organic Argon Oil Conditioner at $14.95 with Prime on amazon.com I was so impressed with the quality, that I started buying other Art Naturals products.

This conditioner is so potent and thick, that I watered it down when the bottle got half way empty, which has made it last a long time, with just as much conditioning impact. In fact, I recommend you do this, as it started getting difficult to push the conditioner out the bottle. I felt like a kid again, trying to hit the back of a glass Heinz Ketchup bottle, patiently waiting for the contents to eventually make its to the neck and onto my plate….but this conditioner is even more dense and thick.

Art Naturals Vit C Serum
Art Naturals Vit C Serum

After loving the conditioner, I ordered some Vitamin C serum, to use under my face lotion. I’ve been using an expensive spa brand at $60 a vile. The serum does wonders for my skin texture and quality, but at $60 a vile, wasn’t so wonderful on my bank account. So Art Naturals to the rescue! Art Naturals Vit C Age Defying Serum retails on amazon.com for $10.95 with Prime shipping. It’s the same size as the $60 brand I’ve been buying, and also contains the same additional ingredients of Amino Acids, Hyaluronic Acid, Vit E and Ferulic Acid. The serum feels very similar to it’s spa equivalent and has been giving me the same results. Once again, I was really impressed at the quality for the price point.

Art Naturals Oils
Art Naturals Oils

But today, I decided to write this review because my Art Naturals Essential Oils pack arrived. I ordered the Art Naturals 3-Piece Lavender Oil Set with 10ml Lavender Oil Bottle and 10ml Signature Zen Bottle, 4 fl. oz selling at $14.95 with Prime, a little cheaper than it costs on Art Natural’s own website at $18.00 with free shipping, though this is still a reasonable price. I bought this to use on a lavender/flax seed eye pillow to help me sleep and repel spiders and other bugs while I’m sleeping. I don’t use artificial chemicals and sprays for insect repellent and I don’t believe in taking prescription drugs to aid sleep. Oils are my go-to option for many mild symptoms and ailments, like congestion, aches and stress, as well as insomnia. Recently I’ve been using DoTerra Oils. This brand is exceptional, with quality products and a huge range of proprietary blends. But their prices are very high. They claim incredibly high standards of oil, and high potency, so this is their reason for high prices. Although their products are wonderful, I feel their prices are too high to make their value worth while for most people’s budget.

Art Naturals packaging
Art Naturals packaging

So, following the success of my Vit C Serum, I decided to give Art Natural’s Oils a try. My package arrived in the usual amazon packaging. When I opened the shipping box, this little box was inside. This beautifully designed, high quality, recycled box. I was pleasantly surprised and couldn’t wait to open it.

When I looked inside, I was delighted at the attention to making sure my oils arrived intact and in perfect condition. The bottles were packed in custom formed foam, including the pipette. I’ve snapped these images to quickly show you how well the viles were packed.

Art Naturals packaging inside
Art Naturals packaging inside

Usually oils in this price range arrive in a small, flimsy, cardboard box that is exactly the same size as the bottles themselves, offering little cushioning. These are usually wrapped in a piece of bubble wrap or a padded envelope, but never arrive so carefully and beautifully presented. It was a touch I couldn’t help but be impressed with, as a designer.

I immediately tried the Signature Zen oil and was treated to a wonderfully refreshing blend of Citrus, Rosemary and Lavender. The Lavender Oil on it’s own also smelled fantastic and is perfect for using on my eye pillow. Since this oil came in such a large bottle, I’m also able to indulge with it and use it in an oil burner for extra relaxation mode.

Art Natural’s website sells their entire range of products and claims that they’re 100% organic and made in USA. They have an ambassador program and a money back guarantee. Definitely a brand worth checking out!

Product Review – The Eva Cup (alternative feminine product)

By now, if you’re a woman, you may have read somewhere about a Diva, Luna, Iris, Lena, Blossom or Eva Cup – the eco-friendly, super hygienic, reusable silicone tampon alternative for those times of the month. I was curious about it for quite some time and took about 6 months to finally pluck up the courage to buy one and another 3 months after that to finally use it. So let me tell you how that went.

I first heard about the Diva Cup on a Yoga ashram. One of my bunk mates was raving about it and sported it around the room excitedly, explaining all about it and how awesome it was for the environment, and also how it claimed to prevent toxic shock. We were all a little embarrassed but intrigued and I vowed to get one and give it a go. Recent news has also brought light to cotton/plastic products leaching toxins into the blood stream, and that inside the body where tampons go is a high risk area. Here’s a Huffington Post article detailing some recent finds.

The months went by after I left the ashram, and period after period hit. I had a back supply of tampons and had been travelling, so didn’t feel comfortable ordering one for delivery at my various short stops. For some reason, the idea of dealing with fumbling around with this thing for the first time, while not in the comfort of my own home just didn’t motivate me to make the jump.

Eva Cup

So I waited six months until I had settled down. But this wasn’t the end of the wait. I bought the Eva Cup from amazon.co.uk,  while staying here in UK at my parents’ home. It arrived three months ago. Here’s a link to a reasonably priced Diva Cup  in USA, available on amazon Prime.

Once again, I decided to wade through my back supply of tampons before attempting the Eva Cup. For some reason this was a good excuse to not use it. The idea of dealing with the cup brought back memories of puberty and learning how to deal with tampons back then. I remember that being a not-so-smooth process of trial and error that I will spare you the details of, suffice to say, it took practice. The cup also reminded me of the old diaphragms they gave out in the 90’s for birth control and I remember not so fondly the difficulty I had inserting that thing correctly and how many times I didn’t get it right.

I got down to my last handful of tampons, and thought, that’s it, I’m giving it a go next month. Then low and behold, I got one of the heaviest and most painful menstrual cycles I’ve ever experienced. The kind of period that leaves you doubled over with a hot water bottle and pyjamas on, eating chocolate and snapping at anyone who gets in screaming distance. So I left the Eva Cup locked away once again.

By now, I’m sure you’re picking up on my apprehensive, unenthusiastic desire to give this thing a shot. I had every intent of giving it a go, but like an out of shape procrastinator with an unused annual gym membership eating fast food on a Monday night, I just kept making excuse after excuse to not use it.

So this month’s period arrived on schedule. Hmmm…..I’ve run out of tampons. I’m down to a handful of sanitary towels, which I hate and that feel like diapers between my legs…and cramps…hmmmm, not the worst I’ve ever had. I had run out of excuses. There was only one thing left to do. Go forth and conquer the Eva Cup once and for all.

I read the pamphlet cover to cover and followed the directions to wash the cup with soapy water, then sterilize it by boiling it for 5-7 minutes before use. It says to do this at least once before use and after use when your period is over. …and more if you can, but that soapy water suffices between uses. You can use it for up to 12 hrs at a time, including over night.

They come in 2 sizes: pre-birth / under 30, and post-child birth / over 30. I am over 30, but haven’t had kids and know I have a smaller than average body in all areas, so

The Eva Cup
The Eva Cup

went for the pre-birth version. They come in a variety of colors and have cute little sacks for storage. They price anywhere from $15-$25. I decided to go for one that said it was made 100% in the USA, as this instilled some assurance for me that the materials used were all they said they were.

I sat in the bathroom double reading the instructions carefully before folding it in a ‘U’ shape and giving it the old heave ho! It went in surprisingly easily. I was sure I had done it wrong, but with no point of reference, I decided to see what happened. I had a pretty heavy flow this month, so was apprehensive that the cup wouldn’t take the heat, so I decided to wear a sanitary towel as a back up. I wore it for half the day. I had no spotting. The thing seemed to be working. I couldn’t feel it on, I didn’t feel uncomfortable, and going to the bathroom felt much cleaner and didn’t involve yanking tampons seemingly every hour of the day. Things were going well.

I decided it was time to rinse it out. This was challenging. There’s some fumbling around required to reach in and grab it, give it a bit of a Kegal push and release the suction created in there to get it out. The first time I did it, during the heaviest part of my period, it was easy. As the flow lightened, the suction made it a little more challenging and it took me a few minutes to get it out. This wasn’t a super awesome experience, but still beats dealing with mostly dried out tampons at the end of a cycle. Ladies you know what I mean.

Rinsing the cup out between applications is easy, as long as you have access to a private bathroom. It’s not the kind of thing you can change in the public bathroom without causing a scene. But luckily, if you apply it before you go out, you probably won’t have to rinse it out until you get home. Just be aware of your timing and the weight of your flow.

I have to say, after much procrastination and apprehension, I give the Eva Cup 2 thumbs up, so does my pocket book. I’ve now eliminated hundreds of dollars worth of tampons from my regular expenses, and know I’m doing something healthier for my body, and the environment. I highly recommend giving it a go. It was definitely a daunting experience to over-come to start with, but I’m so glad I finally did it and I won’t be going back to tampons again.

Special thanks to Jocelyn Ramirez for introducing it to me so enthusiastically!

Update: It’s been about four months since I wrote this, and didn’t have time to post it, so just reaffirming that I’m still delighted with using the Eva Cup. Now I’m used to it, I don’t have any problems or discomfort with it at all. Very happy!

2nd Update: Found this new feminine cup company OrganiCup who have a great website with info that may answer any questions you have about using this product. Check it out! And also, since posting, Eva cup have a great 2 pack available on amazon. I’ve purchased these extras for stashing in my handbag, gym bag etc, for emergencies. Get it in USA here. Still very happy with product. I’m never going back to tampons!

 

 

Book Review – “Dying To Be Me” by Anita Moorjani

Anita Moorjani's "Dying To Be Me". Hayhouse.
Anita Moorjani’s “Dying To Be Me”. Hayhouse.

“Dying To Be Me” is Anita Moorjani’s true account of her battle with cancer, her near-death experience (NDE) and the events surrounding that event. The most compelling parts of the book being about her NDE, where she claims to have died, experienced another realm, and chosen to come back, knowing that she would fully heal within days, even though her 4 yr battle with cancer had left her physical body with Stage 4 Lymphoma that had shut down her organs, produced massive skin legions, and developed into multiple lemon sized tumors throughout her body, leaving her in a coma. Her doctors were just waiting around for her to die, her family surrounding her in her dying moments, expecting the worst.

This book is for anyone who is open to unconventional, nonreligious ideas about what lies beyond this world after we die. If you identify strongly with one religion, Anita’s words may offend or horrify you. However, I don’t discourage you from reading it if this pertains to you – even Moorjani herself doesn’t discourage the means by which you achieve happiness and experience oneness, stating that meditation or prayer can aid in reaching both. But she does step outside the boundaries of all conventional religion with both her opinions and her NDE account. She also talks about the confines of religion preventing its practitioners from finding happiness and oneness.  I for one resonated with her opinions and found her NDE recount intriguing, provoking and inspiring.

Moorjani recounts experiencing a oneness with the universe while in her NDE. She claims that it was like waking from a dream, leaving her physical body and becoming one with everyone and everything, transcending time and space. She claims that she knew about everything that pertained to her, including where around the world her family members were and what they were doing….what the doctor in another room was saying about her to her husband….all facts that were later known to be accurate.

She also talks about feeling the essence of her loved ones that had passed on around her. She could feel them and became them, understanding everything they felt all at once. She could see other lives she had lived, in another life time, though she says linear time didn’t exist as we know it in our physical bodies, so it was as if she was living other lives all at once.

The biggest take away her book reveals, is the importance and strength of love. She says that in her NDE she felt an overwhelming sense of love. A universal love that transcends everything. She says that love accepted her unconditionally. That this love is God. That God is all of us, because we are all one. The oneness and love she felt IS God. She basically claims that we are all part of the universal love. Our essence or spirit, or soul, whichever one you chose to identify with, goes back to this realm of pure unconditional love when our physical bodies are no more. I found this a consoling condition to look forward to, as someone who previously questioned the many seemingly nonsensical versions of life after death that most religions have to offer.

It’s hard to find just one quote to do her words about her NDE justice, but in her words, this is part of the experience:

“The further outward I expanded, the less unusual it felt to be in this miraculous state – in fact, I had no awareness of it being out of the ordinary. It all seemed perfectly natural to me at the time. I continued to be fully aware of every detail of every procedure that was being administered to me, while to the outside world I appeared to be in a coma.

 I continued to sense myself expanding further and further outward, drawing away from my physical surroundings. It as as though I were no longer restricted by the confines of space and time, and continued to spread myself out to occupy a greater expanse of consciousness. I felt a sense of freedom and liberation that I’d never experienced in my physical life before. I can only describe this as the combination of a sense of joy mixed with a generous sprinkling of jubilation and happiness. It stemmed from being released from my sick and dying body, a feeling of jubilant emancipation from all the pain that my illness had caused me.

 As I continued to plunge deeper into the other realm, expanding outward, becoming everyone and everything, I felt all my emotional attachments to my loved ones and my surrounding slowly fall away. What I can only describe as superb and glorious unconditional love surrounded me, wrapping me tight as I continued to let go. The term unconditional love really doesn’t do justice to the feeling, as these words have been overused to the point of having lost their intensity. But the physical battle I’d fought for so very long had finally released its strong hold on me, and I had a beautiful experience of freedom.”

(P. 65 –  2012, 1st Etd.)

Moorjani was raised Hindu, in an Indian family living in Hong Kong, surrounded by Chinese and British ex-pats. Her upbringing was a cultural and religious mash up that led to her confusion and fear of the world and everything in it. She attributes a diagnosis of Stage 2 Lymphoma on her fear of cancer among other things, having watched her best friend and a family member suffer through aggressive cancer treatment. She speaks candidly about her religious conflict in the first few chapters of the book, even telling the story of her unsuccessful brush with arranged marriage.

She blames fear for manifesting disease in all of us. She talks about how to “live your life fearlessly”, not depending on approval from anyone, including yourself. That you have nothing to actually prove to yourself at all. That the universe created you perfectly already. You are here for a purpose that will manifest itself to you without you having to pull teeth to find it. In fact, she recommends following your heart, doing only things that make you happy, forgetting worries about money and success and peer approval, and allowing your heart to tell you what you need out of this life. Beyond this life, nothing you do will make you less loved or change where you end up – no heaven and hell, no karma, or whatever you want to call it. She talks about Heaven being a state, not a place.

The book wraps up with a Q&A from some of her many live talks, trying to further express the experience and the lessons she learned in her NDE. From her perspective, she talks about her experience being like that of a blind man who has never seen, getting to finally see, then losing his sight again. Now that he has seen, he remembers what it felt like, though he can’t access that sense anymore. Throughout the book she does her best to use analogies like this to express what she deems an experience near impossible to recount in words.

What is clear though, is that the experience opened up a new found wisdom and clarity for Anita that has allowed her to enjoy her life to the fullest, appreciate it and spread the word of love and acceptance, and her message of oneness to thousands across the world – Not to mention it having been the moment she made a miraculous recovery from certain death.

I found the book an infectious and easy read. I literally didn’t put it down from cover to cover, taking a day to finish it. However, its the type of book you’ll want to pick up again, maybe highlight, maybe make notes in. I had planned to pass the book along to a friend on completion, but have since changed my mind. I will be keeping my copy close at hand, and will be buying additional copies to distribute to anyone who I think will give Anita’s words the time and energy they deserve.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with an open mind… and if this woman and her incredible story interest you further, here’s a video of her talking at TED: