Since beginning my journey in slow and ethical fashion, I’ve come across numerous brands doing incredible work to responsibly produce goods that are beneficial and respectful to both the people involved in manufacturing, and the environment. As I’ve been on my own journey in sustainable living, friends and family have become curious about how they too, can live and shop more responsibly. Since most of my exploration has up to this point has been in the realm of fashion, a majority of the brands I’ve been exposed to create ethically-made women’s clothing. More recently though, I’ve gotten connected with a few companies that are creating quality, timeless, gender neutral pieces. One of these companies, is JORD.
JORD (pronounced “yode”) is based in St. Louis, and makes quality watches made from natural, and largely reclaimed materials. Their gorgeous wood watches are both beautifully crafted, and mindfully made. From bamboo to olive, to numerous others; there are a total of 13 species of wood that JORD utilizes to create their watches. As you browse their website you’ll find that they provide information about the quality and texture of wood itself, where it comes from, and how sustainable it is. This transparency empowers customers to make an informed decision when considering which watch best suits their lifestyle and needs.
In addition to building their watches with quality wood, the glass and movements that make up their pieces are also built to last.
JORD was kind enough to gift my husband David a Zebrawood band to accompany his Apple watch. Sourced from Congo, West Africa; Zebrawood contains pronounced growth rings that create a highly contrasted, yet timelessly classic watch design. The band itself is stylish, yet made to be worn for years to come. David has sported it for everyday wear, during our recent Maui trip, and for classier occasions such as date nights or weddings. He’s found it easy to dress up, or wear casually; making it a perfect capsule wardrobe piece.
Funny enough, I actually gifted David a wooden watch for one of our first dating anniversaries a few years back. And though it was a beautiful watch, we both noticed that it wore out quickly. In contrast, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how the quality and craftsmanship of his JORD band seems to withstand the wear of day-to-day living, and the occasional Seattle down-pour (the wood is water-resistant.) Needless to say he’ll be wearing this watch for a lifetime! In addition to the incredible craftsmanship, JORD watches are custom sized, with a one year warranty and the option for personalized engravings to ensure that your watch is perfect for yourself, or a loved one.
I’m excited to share that in this next month I’ll be hosting a giveaway with JORD, so one of you can add this capsule classic to your own wardrobe! The winner will receive a $100 gift-code toward the purchase of any watch (or Apple watch band) on JORD’s website, and will be announced at the end of this month via email.
Have you ever walked into Target, shopping list in-hand (or phone), determined to get in and out of there in under 30 minutes…only to be completely derailed within the first 10 seconds walking through those sliding doors? Suddenly you’re scanning the dollar(-ish) section for cheap and trendy home décor, which then leads you straight into that gorgeous home goods section, which is conveniently right next to the clothing department, which is right across from the beauty and haircare aisle. Next thing you know you’ve gone back to switch out your little red basket for an entire cart; and have somehow managed to pick up about a dozen unplanned items – perhaps not even managing to get the things that were actually on your shopping list. You walk out of the store, far from unscathed by all too tempting prices and aesthetically arranged shelves.
I hope I’m not alone when I say that this “Target effect” has impacted my consumption not only with the clothing I’d spontaneously purchased; but even in the impulse snacks I chose to buy, the home goods I decorated my apartment with, and the “wellness” products I just needed to give a shot.
A couple years ago I started to confront my consumption habits in a seemingly unrelated attempt to better my mental health and wellness. I’d recently begun therapy, and in doing so had realized that my life was unnecessarily cluttered — not just with things, but also with negative self-talk, numerous self-imposed obligations, and even a handful of unhealthy relationships. It was clear that my entire life was in need of “Kondo-ing,” and clearing out unnecessary material possessions was the least intimidating place to start.
This process turned out to be far from easy. As I made an honest assessment of each personal possession, an increasing awareness of dissatisfaction with much of what I owned surfaced. I had too many pieces of clothing, but ironically “never had anything to wear.” I had dozens of clean beauty and makeup products, but none of which actually worked with my acne-prone skin. And I had a myriad of once-stylish, dollar section-procured wall decorations, but felt uneasy and overwhelmed by my own living space.
The temptation to throw it all out at once was curbed only by the fact that my donation-dependent ministry income would simply not support the replacement of these less-than-satisfactory items. And even if I were to cycle it all out…would I not just end up in the same place of dissatisfaction when trends shifted, my mood changed, or the low quality of my cheaply-bought items finally gave out?
Thus began my journey into a simpler, slower lifestyle. I unsubscribed to my ad notifications, and took a break from my regular, boredom-inspired Target runs. Having now acknowledged that the accumulation of more “stuff” would only further fuel my anxiety, I replaced the time once spent browsing for things with activities that encouraged self-reflection, self-compassion, and self-love. Afternoons went from strolling around the local mall, to deepening my yoga practice and starting a blog. Mornings shifted from scrolling through Instagram ads, to enjoying my morning coffee while reading an article to learn something new. In doing so, I developed a clearer understanding of who I am, what I enjoy, and what I need. As my self-perception deepened, I grew a desire to externally express who I am through my living space and personal style.
From this place, my consumption habits shifted. As the cheaply-made items I’d once purchased during past Black Friday sales began to wear out, I started to invest in timeless, well-made pieces that actually reflected my unique style and personality. Slowly but surely I’ve been curating a capsule closet with long-lasting, ethically-made and sustainably sourced pieces that I’m proud to wear. When my husband and I got married and moved in together, we were more intentional about what we chose to put in our shared living space. Our purchases were no longer about what was cheap or convenient, but were instead informed by what was purposeful, and reflective of our values.
Today’s capitalist-fueled marketing encourages us to buy more and buy quickly. But if we’re to truly make the shift away from consuming in meaningless quantities to instead investing in intentional quality, it’s going to take time. The instant gratification that comes from an impulsive fast-fashion buy fades quickly when the new, updated and “exclusive” version of an item suddenly makes what you already own feel irrelevant. Trust me when I say it’s worth it to invest in that which might take longer to procure but will bring you joy for years to come. And perhaps what you’re “investing” isn’t monetary. Creating a capsule closet or intentional living space doesn’t have to be expensive. Putting in effort and time to find quality secondhand pieces is just as valuable of an investment as purchasing a brand-new, ethically and sustainably made article of clothing. And if we’re talking about sustainability, it’s certainly the zero-waste way to invest, since it gives these lovely items a second (or maybe even tenth!) life.
And hopefully, some of what you already own is already reflective of your unique style and personal values. There may be quite a few items that were impulsively purchased just to stay up-to-date with the ever-changing trends…but there will likely be other pieces that you have simply because you love them, and because they fit your frame in just the way you feel your best self in. What I came to find as I began my journey of capsule closet building, was that quite a few of the fast-fashion items I already had were actually in alignment with the styles I’d felt empowered in much of my life. Though the quality of the items couldn’t stand the test of time, there was no need to throw them out before letting them live out their full clothing lives – even if it’s short.
As a person with a smaller-than-average frame, I’ve always loved items that were once considered “too boxy.” I like the way they encourage me to take up more space – both physically, and emotionally. Though wide-legged pants have been all-the-rage in recent fast fashion circles, I’ll personally be keeping this style in my wardrobe long after the trend has passed, because it embodies a form of self-awareness and self-love that I want to be expressed in the clothing I wear for years and years to come. I’ve also come to find that there are particular colors and fabrics that I’m drawn to. Olive green has been a tone that I’ve loved for years and will continue to love due to its versatility. As of lately, I’ve come to appreciate the way it highlights the olive and brown tones in my skin – a part of me I didn’t openly acknowledge nor love until recently. Fabrics like linen and tencel have also become personal favorites, as many ethical fashion brands have been utilizing these materials to create sustainably-made, long-lasting pieces. Not only are these high quality fabrics timeless, but they seem to fall on my body in such a way that is both comfortable, and flattering. They remind me to balance all the effort that goes into a busy day, with a mindset of ease.
So perhaps as you consider your own relationship with clothing, and with “things” in general, it may be helpful to first come back to yourself. To remind yourself of who you are, what you value, and what brings you a sense of life and joy. As you grow in self-awareness, self-compassion, and self-love; pay attention to the ways that this deepened sense of self may want to manifest in your external life – both in the clothes you wear, and in the messages that are communicated to yourself, and the world around you through those simple, yet powerful pieces. Learning to choose quality over quantity may take time, but is a worthy investment for your closet, as well as yourself. There’s an undeniable sense of personal power that grows as you intentionally choose in to your own unique form of self-expression. Finding that, my friends, is of much greater value than any Black Friday sale deal you’ll ever get your hands on.
This probably comes without surprise, but I have a period. It comes every month, whether I like it or not. With its ever-persistent frequency, it got me thinking about what I choose to put (or not put) into my body each month, and how my monthly cycle adds to my personal contribution to the environment.
So began my journey toward a healthier, zero-waste period.
I can’t quite remember when my first period was, but I do remember how excruciatingly difficult
I found it to insert a tampon when the time came. I can’t recall how much
menstrual health was talked about in my middle school sex-ed class, but it
clearly wasn’t discussed to extent that I felt in any way prepared to know what
period products worked best for my body. Nevertheless, I went on to use tampons
for a majority of my cycle due to the convenience of being able to swim, run,
and stay active while on my period.
From middle school until now, the predictability of my
period thankfully stayed consistent. I can just about nail down the exact time
of day it’ll start. What has changed
though, is my body’s reaction to old Aunt Flow’s visit. It seems that the older
I get, the heavier my monthly flow, and the more sensitive my body becomes to
menstrual cramping and body aches. This could be due to a variety of reasons,
from an increased hormonal levels that come with being in my 20’s, to the mix
of synthetic materials that make up the ingredients list of the tampons I’d
used most of my life. Either way, it’s made me reconsider what products I use when
my monthly menstruation hits.
Having been swept into the “clean beauty” trend, I made the switch to organic tampons about 2 years ago. I hadn’t thought much about the impact non-organic tampons might have on the environment prior to that, but was keen on ensuring that what I put into my body wouldn’t put me in harm’s way. In retrospect I came to find that much of the organic beauty trend wasn’t personally healthy for me (particularly in the realm of skincare), but stuck with using organic tampons as I thought it couldn’t hurt to take the precaution, especially since they’d become more financially accessible as organic tampon and pad companies started popping up left and right.
This last year in particular though, I’ve been on a journey questioning and addressing my consumption patterns. It started with reconsidering my diet, and how the overconsumption of red meat contributes to climate change. Lately, I’ve been exploring how to more intentionally invest in slow and ethical fashion, as a means to reduce my clothing consumption and waste. And as my period has continued to come each month, I’ve also been considering how to consume and waste less during my monthly menstruation.
Did you know that tampons are used by about 43
million people in the U.S. alone? And of those 43 million, one will likely
use 11-16 thousand tampons in a lifetime.
That’s a LOT to dispose of, y’all. Not
only are single-use applicators adding to landfills, but most non-organic
tampons contain rayon and traces of dioxin, which are dangerous to both your
body and the environment.
There are some amazingalternative tampon solutions out there, like the first ever FDA-cleared re-usable tampon applicator by THINX. Designed with medical-grade materials, this pocket-sized tool lets you ditch single-use applicators by inserting an applicator-free tampon into the THINX re.t.a. (reusable tampon applicator.) On average, using an OB (non-applicator) tampon produces 58% less waste than a normal tampon.
But in an effort to personally ditch single-use period products altogether, I decided to integrate a menstrual cup into my monthly cycle. The cup seemed like a simple solution, as most menstrual cups are made with medical-grade silicone and are flexible enough to fold and insert with ease. They can be left in for up to 12 hours (dependent on your body and your flow) and can be washed and sanitized for re-use once your cycle is over. I understand that the cup doesn’t work for everyone’s body, but I wanted to give it a shot as it really did seem like a “catch all” solution to my period waste problems.
I’ll be real – transitioning to the cup has been a process to say the least. I give extra props to those who use menstrual
discs, because though cup insertion has been pretty simple…I’ve come to
find that removing it is the tricky part. I can’t imagine removing something
that doesn’t have a handle of sorts to help identify where it’s at “up there”. Either
way, you really get to know yourself when
using either product. After trying out a few menstrual cups in different sizes,
I’ve come to find that with a personally moderate menstrual flow, I like model 1 of
the Diva Cup best. I leave it in anywhere from 5-8 hours at a time, and it
catches most of my flow pretty seamlessly. But when I say most, I mean not all of
my flow. It wasn’t quite the “catch-all” solution that I’d hoped it would be,
as I still found myself wearing liners to catch the little bits that the cup
let slip out. I’ve also noticed that after the first couple “heavy” days of my
period the cup gets increasingly difficult to remove because it doesn’t fill nearly
as much. With gravity playing a generous factor in aiding cup removal, having a
lighter cup actually becomes pretty problematic.
That’s when I decided to try out THINX underwear. I’d seen ads for THINX across social media, and occasionally in my inbox. But “period proof panties” seemed too good to be true, and I didn’t have the guts to give them a shot until hearing positive feedback about the underwear from a trusted friend. THINX are washable, reusable undies that are designed to replace pads, tampons, liners, and some days — even cups. The period-proof tech in each pair consists of 4 layers of fabric that are moisture-wicking, odor-controlling, super-absorbent, and leak-resistant.
A couple cycles ago I reached out to THINX as I was researching menstrual hygiene and eco-friendly period options for future blog content; and THINX graciously sent me a complimentary pair to try out. Y’all….I was absolutely blown away by the effectiveness of these period-proof panties. Not only were they perfect for pairing with my menstrual cup on heavy days, but they completely replaced the need for pads and liners on the days where my flow was too light for a cup. Surprisingly stylish, and easy to clean; I very quickly got back in touch with THINX to join their THINX Leaders program and build a fuller set of THINX underwear for periods to come.
At this point in my low-waste journey I’ve found that the
combination of a re-usable menstrual cup with a few pairs of THINX underwear is
the perfect fit for my body, and my flow. I know that everyone’s body is
different; and for some a re-usable
tampon applicator in combination with organic tampon inserts, or re-usable
pads is a better option. No judgement there! The thing to first prioritize is to know your flow, and
find what low or no-waste option works best for your body.
If you are looking to try THINX specifically though, this
weekend is the perfect weekend to do
In honor of May 28th being Menstrual Hygiene Day, THINX is generously offering a 30% discount off of all their period-proof undies from May 24th – 28th. Should you choose to invest in a few pairs yourself, you can do so through my THINX Leader link, meaning I’ll receive a 10% commission for every 10 pairs sold. I will be donating all commission made this weekend and onward to Planned Parenthood, in support of the vital reproductive health services and education they provide. If you’d like to think about it longer before trying out THINX, you’ll still be eligible for $10 off your purchase after this weekend’s sale by buying through my THINX Leader link.
I know I’ll be getting myself a couple more pairs this weekend, and I hope you’ll join me as we crush period stigma, pursue a zero-waste lifestyle, and fight for menstrual equity in the process!
As an Ennegram type 3 (The Achiever), I’m constantly looking for the most
productive way to utilize my day. Just recently I took a “Vision Day”
of sorts to map out the remainder of the year, and to determine what lifestyle
choices I’d like to hone-in on over the next 9 months. A good friend of mine
reminded me that it takes approximately 3 weeks to build a new habit, and 1
week to break one. With this in mind, I decided to create month-by-month
“Habit Building” schedule. I intend to spend the first week of the
month critically assessing a particular aspect of my lifestyle, and then spend
the following 3 weeks integrating healthier + more sustainable everyday actions
toward building a habit.
Ironically enough, the topic that felt of utmost importance to creating a sustainable
habit-building foundation, is not that which initially screamed
“productivity.” Although most of us start the year attempting to build
habits around what we eat, how much we exercise, or how much literature we
read; I thought it particularly important to first address the quality of an
easily-overlooked daily practice – sleep!
Sleep Foundation describes sleep
hygiene as a variety of different
practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality
and full daytime alertness. Why is this important? Sleep is sleep, right?
And given how readily accessible caffeine is, why should it matter if the sleep
I get each night is ‘quality’ sleep?
That being said, I’ve spent the last week observing my personal sleep habits
and patterns through keeping a sleep
Needless to say, I have some obvious issues maintaining consistent, quality
sleep. As a means to start changing that, I’ve compiled a few daily actions I’ll
be practicing over the next 3 weeks to build healthier sleep hygiene. In case
you’re also hoping to shift your own sleeping habits, I thought I’d share what
I’ll be trying in the next 21 days.
consistent sleeping schedule: Personally, my ideal “wake-up” time that I’m
working to normalize, is 6am. According to the National Sleep Foundation,
adults between the ages of 26-64 years old (aka, likely everyone reading this
post) need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. You can visit their website to
is recommended for other age groups. This means I need to aim to go to
sleep between 9-11pm.
Being a “certified yoga teacher” doesn’t mean I’m immune to exercise droughts. If
I’m real, I’ve been in one for at least the last 2 months. Part of my 6am
wake-up goal is the capacity it will create for me to re-integrate a daily yoga
practice into my mornings. Although it’s said that some of us should avoid
intense exercise close to bed-time, integrating regular movement at other
points during the day is said to increase
the quality and duration of sleep.
Reducing Blue–Light Exposure prior to bedtime: Blue
light itself isn’t necessarily bad for us; as
it boosts attention, reaction times, and mood – the sun itself naturally
produces high levels of it. And though there’s still quite a bit of research being
done regarding the holistic impact of blue light exposure, one thing that’s
surely agreed upon is the
impact of blue light in suppressing melatonin production. Melatonin is the
hormone your body naturally produces that lets it know
that it’s time to go to sleep. While light in general decreases the body’s
melatonin production; blue light does so at an exponentially larger level.
Aside from decreased screen time and dimming my living space, I’ve also
partnered with Baxter Blue — an
Australian-based glasses company that donates a pair of glasses to someone in
need through each purchase through their “Pair for a Pair” pledge with @restoringvision. I’ll be trying out a
pair of their non-prescription glasses that filter blue light known to
cause digital eye strain, to test out the impact decreased exposure to blue
light has on my quality of sleep.
& Caffeine Consumption: Up to this point I’ve really taken advantage of
hearing that a glass of red wine daily can help decrease heart disease…so you
can only imagine how disappointed I was in doing further research, and finding
that although alcohol does help healthier people fall asleep
quicker, and sleep deeper for the first half of the night… it actually reduces
REM sleep for the second half of the night, significantly. For more obvious
being a stimulant can delay the timing of your body’s readiness for sleep.
I’m looking to replace my evening glass of wine with herbal tea, and to have my
morning coffee and/or black tea before lunchtime.
Thoughts + Activities that Reduce Stress: Be it yoga, meditation/prayer,
reading, or sorting through my thoughts via journaling – partaking it
stress-reducing activities on a daily basis can improve the quality of one’s
sleep drastically. There’s an unfortunate cycle
in that lack of sleep leads your body to boost its levels of stress hormones,
which in-turn causes
hyper-arousal, making sleep even more difficult to enter into – let alone
stay in. I’m hoping to fight this downward spiral by engaging in intentionally
stress-reducing thoughts and activities particularly close to bed-time. This
may mean no email-checking past 6pm, or scrolling through my IG feed less…but
those things will surely still be there
the next day, after a good night’s
There’s still quite a bit of research to be done on the topic of sleep
itself, but I’m hoping that practicing these simple things on a daily basis
will help build long-term habits that promote good sleep hygiene. In an effort
to create a strong foundation to integrate further lifestyle habits, I’m
excited to begin by first investing in the health of my body and mind that’s generated
before my day even begins. For me, investing in sleep hygiene is the vital first
step in my personal journey toward a holistic health that addresses my body, my
mind, and my soul. I look forward to sharing about its impact in the months,
and years to come.
If investing in sleep hygiene is something you’re personally interested in,
here are a few websites that were helpful for me in my own research on the
I also recently read an interesting article on The Good Trade on the topic of dreams, and how keeping a Dream Journal can contribute healthy sleep hygiene, increased self-awareness, and all around mental health and wellness. The author links additional resources at the end of her piece.
About this time last year, I was super burnt out. After nearly 4 years in full-time ministry, my
heart, my body, and my soul was for lack of better word — DONE. I’ve shared
briefly about this in little blurbs on Instagram posts, and have even mentioned
it a couple times in past blogposts, but I think to truly understand the depth
of this exhaustion, I should rewind.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a pretty driven person.
Perhaps it was due to upbringing, or perhaps I was meant to be an Enneagram 3
from birth. Either way, I’ll always find a way to do the most I can, in the
least amount of time – but not for the sake of resting afterwards. No, it was definitely for the purpose of making
room to then accomplish more.
Now this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, for a majority
of my life this worked to my advantage. Western culture absolutely worships productivity, efficiency, and
The real issue began to surface when my understanding of my
relationship with God, with myself, and with others was also dependent on what I achieved, how fast I achieved it, and what
more I was working toward. You see, in this mindset there’s no sense of ever having “arrived” after something is
Oh, I’m serving as a
Resident Advisor, while leading a small group, while working 3 part-time jobs,
while being a full-time college student? Well then what more can I add onto my
plate? What more can I do to better steward these responsibilities? What more
can I pursue, now that I feel like I’ve nearly got all that managed?
Now, my motivation to do
more wasn’t necessarily a negative one. As someone with religious values
pursuing a social-justice related major (American Ethnic Studies &
Education), the most obvious motivation I had was to pursue justice for the
sake of all people flourishing – particularly those who’ve up to this
point been marginalized. It only takes a quick scroll through social media to
notice not all people are flourishing, if any.
This motivation in-and-of-itself is good. But as an
achievement-oriented person (and let’s be real, a human in general)…placing my
personal value and self-worth in what I do
– is a less obvious, but ever existent second motivation that I also needed to acknowledge.
So let’s factor these two motivations into some of the work
I engaged with while in ministry. The intention I had going into the job was to
care for, educate, and empower the students I worked with, such that students
could positively bring impact and change to the systems and communities they were
a part of post-college. This is good.
But factor in the second motivation that I was admittedly
much less aware of…and my own character, self-worth, and value is put to question
whenever my effort in caring for, educating, or empowering students fell short.
In addition to this, even when things were
going well; there was always a sense of it still
not being enough – because there was alwaysmore work to be done. The world,
and the evangelical church for that matter is stillbroken and unjust…and if there’s clearly more work
to be done, then I haven’t quite done all that I should be doing. You can see
how our lovely burnout spiral begins.
So fast-forward to this time last year, when I miraculously (with
the help of therapy and a few good friends) came to the realization that
something about this whole way of living was just, off. I still cared about
justice. I still cared about God. But I just
couldn’t reconcile the disconnect I felt between my intended motivation,
and the reality of my dilapidated soul.
The months following my decision to leave ministry were
hard. I’d sensed that the only real thing I should be doing at the time was,
well…nothing. Finally acknowledging that this merit-based-worth mentality had taken
such a strong grasp on my soul, I avoided just jumping into the next job, the
next task list, or the next achievement as I normally would.
I sat in my discomfort — and I felt depressed. I felt anxious.
I felt worthless. And at times, I felt lonely. The only real spaces where I found
myself genuinely experiencing God again, were in practicing yoga. The only person
I believed truly cared about me when I wasn’t serving or helping them in some
way, was my husband. And the only thing that kept me grounded in those months
of battling with those thoughts and feelings, was the belief that the way I had
been living didn’t need to be the way I had to live the remainder of my life.
And I don’t mean to make these 6 months of “rest” seem like
they were inherently terrible, nor unbearable in any way. I have a wonderful
husband, incredibly supportive friends and family, and the financial flexibility
to take this time to step away from the responsibility of work. I’m definitely
not complaining. I’m simply sharing about the internal questions, and process
that my soul went through to embody the drastically different values and
self-perception that I have now.
Around 6 months into this intentional rest &
unemployment, I started noticing differences in the way my body, mind and soul
felt and functioned. And I should emphasize that there were no obvious “aha!”
moments, events, or special revelations that happened during those few months.
It was simply a long, gradual process of shift in perspective and experience of
myself, and the world around me.
In practicing yoga regularly throughout that time, my body
felt strong, flexible, and grounded. I came to find that I didn’t need to
underfeed and overwork it in order to feel my best. This overflowed into my
mind as well, as my internal dialogue began to change. Rather than feel that
the worth I had as an individual was scarce without action, I began to believe
that I had an abundance of worth for simply existing. Instead of being afraid
of failure, opposition, or judgement, I began to exercise flexibility in recognizing
that I don’t have to know and
understand everything. Or do everything right the first time – that there may
not even be a “right” way to approach every situation. And with my body and
mind finally in alignment, my soul felt peace as well. The dissonance that my
intended motivation once had from the well-being of my soul finally began to dissipate.
And so, with this new mindset, I’ve decided to start doing
things again. But this time, I recognize that my pursuit of loving, educating,
and empowering those around me must come from a far different place than it once
did. It has to begin with embracing my own abundance in worth – rather than desperately
grasping for it through actions in attempt to prove to others and myself that
love is something I deserve. It starts with humbly acknowledging what I don’t
know and putting myself in a position to learn. And it involves pursuing joy,
for the sake of joy – regardless of if it “accomplishes” anything in the
This doesn’t disregard my desire to seek justice, and to
live it out in every corner of life possible. It simply means that in my
pursuit of justice, I have to ensure
that I’m nurturing my body, mind, and soul at the same time.
To me, holistic wellness is more than a non-toxic skincare regimen, a new diet, or engaging in
some fitness program. Pursuing holistic wellness is investing in that which encourages
the flourishing of my body, my mind, and
my soul. The wellbeing of all 3 aspects of myself are not independent of one another. Investing in wellness holistically
means addressing mental and emotional health, asking spiritual questions that I
need space to wrestle with, and experiencing joy in activities that very well may
have no productive outcome.
Similarly, seeking justice needs to look different too. Pursuing socially conscious living implies that the entirety of my life is centered on building a world where all people flourish. It also implies that I not center my own ego in the process, in assuming that I am the solution to all of the world’s injustices. I’m one person working towards a solution, but I’m not the solution. In this season of life, working towards a more just world looks like questioning the social impact of my consumption habits, but still finding joy in the process by expressing myself through my ethical fashion journey. I acknowledge that sustainable living won’t fix the world, or it’s unjust systems. But I also acknowledge that I’m human, with limitations, and beginning this journey by questioning the integrity of something as simple as the clothing I wear, is better than letting fear of failure stop me from beginning at all.
So in this space, exploring holistic wellness and socially
conscious living may take the form of health-related blogposts, or ethical
fashion reviews. But I hope what is communicated in the content I create
reaches far deeper than product marketing or discussing wellness for the sake
of its trendy nature. My motivation in this little corner of the internet I
occupy, is to explore the inseparable nature of holistic wellness and just
living. It’s to confess that hey, I’m new
to this too. And I know just as little about these topics as anyone else, but
let’s learn about it, imperfectly, together. And it’s to inspire those of
you who are along for the ride; that this journey in pursuing a world where all people flourish is not impossible,
but will undoubtedly take a regular self-check and a whole lot of intentional
self-care. It’s a tricky balance of self-love and selfless-love that is nearly
impossible to “achieve,” but I believe it is well-worth the journey of
I’m an evangelist. Always have been, probably always will be. And not necessarily in the religious sense of the word – though I have had my fair share of experience in evangelical ministry; but more so in my inherent enthusiasm for the things I love, and my desire to share that enthusiasm with others.
All that being said — when I find a great podcast, a well-written book, an amazing company, etc. – I can’t help but tell everyone I know about it. And initially when I started this blog, my intention was to stay far, far away from the world of sponsored posts, paid collaborations, and promoting products simply for the sake of growing a quick following. I didn’t want to risk the integrity of authentic writing, for some free fast-fashion pieces or a pyramid-scheme asking me to exchange a discount code for some free publicity. I also didn’t want to promote unnecessary or excessive consumption.
However, as I continue in my own personal journey exploring the intersection of socially conscious living and holistic wellness, I’ve come to find that this journey is less about eliminating consumption altogether, and more about orienting myself to question what I consume, where it comes from, and whether or not it’s beneficial to myself and the world around me.
And so, given my inherently-enthusiastic nature, I should’ve known that the time would eventually come when I’d find companies, products, and content that I’d have the urge to write about. As I’ve begun exploring the realm of ethical fashion, conscious consumerism, and holistic wellness; I’ve been humbled by some of the incredible people, companies, and stories I’ve come across. And though I’m early on in my journey of exploring these topics, I’ve made the decision to start sharing some of these resources for those who are interested in learning about what I’ve personally come to find helpful. Over the next few months, I’ll be incorporating highlights of a few ethical and inspiring brands I’ve come across – some of which I have professional partnerships with, and others that I’m simply just a huge fan of. I hope what I share can be of interest to those of you on a similar journey exploring a lifestyle that pursues wellness, and mindful living.
Recently I was contacted by Skylar; a natural fragrance company whose mission is to celebrate Body Beauty by creating a new world of fragrance by using clean, conscious ingredients to craft beautiful, innovative and hypoallergenic scents for yourself and your home. Needless to say, I was impressed with the vision of the company. I hadn’t yet considered how the perfumes or scents I used daily might have an impact on my personal health, or the wellbeing of the planet.
As I learned more about Skylar, I was pleasantly surprised by the integrity and transparency of this relatively new fragrance company. Skylar promises clean, conscious, and innovative products as they eliminate the top 6 “dirty ingredients” present in most scent companies. Their products are completelyfree of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, allergens, animal-derived ingredients, and synthetic dyes. Y’all…I’ve been using perfumes, and candles for YEARS; and never thought to consider what ingredients were contributing to these smell-good scents.
The company’s founder, Cat Chen (shout-out to WOC-owned businesses!!), started Skylar when she discovered her 4-year-old daughter was allergic to her traditional perfumes. As someone who’d been working with the Honest Company, she began the hunt for clean fragrance products that lived up to these same clean standards. Unable to find a fragrance brand that was hypo-allergenic and toxin-free, she decided to work towards the creation of clean fragrance and thus, Skylar was created.
Skylar’s innovative approach to scent utilizes nature-powered perfumes and candles that are packaged and produced with well-being of both people, and the planet in mind. Expanding the frontier of “clean beauty” as they pioneer the creation of hypoallergenic perfumes, Skylar’s products dispel the myth of “natural” being equivalent to “healthier,” and instead cultivate just the right formulae of both natural, and lab-made ingredients to produce scents that are safe for even the most sensitive of customers.
What I’m super excited to announce is that I have the honor of partnering with Skylar to launch their newest product, in the form of a program called the Scent Club. Over this next season, I’ll be collaborating with Skylar to share the mantra, back-story, and limited-edition scent that is included in this monthly membership. As a regular perfume-wearer, I’m really looking forward to incorporating cleaner scents into my daily routine. In my own journey toward holistic wellness, replacing my current face and beauty products with healthier alternatives has been a slow but steady part of the process, so I’m grateful to have the opportunity to do so with my good-smelling-scents as well!
The first Scent Club perfume they sent me is Magic Bloom, accompanied by the mantra “nurture your inner magic”. Before getting into the incredible smell, and encouraging mantra of this month’s scent, can I just say how impressed I was with their packaging?! Yes, of course the box was beautiful…but what I really appreciated, was how minimal and eco-friendly it all was. I’ve always side-eyed Amazon, amongst other brands that ship tiny items in huge boxes, with un-recyclable styrofoam, packing peanuts, etc. Skylar however shipped their Scent Club box in a compact, recyclable box with compostable packing peanuts made of non-toxic, biodegradable organic vegetable starch. After opening, you simply put them in your kitchen sink, and they’ll dissolve upon touching water. How clever is that?!
This new scent was spot on as well. The first time trying it on I asked my husband what he thought, and his immediate response was “oh wow, it really smells like spring!” I couldn’t agree more. With hints of yuzu, magnolia, and pear; this citrus-infused scent gently wakes up my senses, nudging me into a smooth transition from the dreary Seattle winters into a bright and vibrant spring. I’m looking forward to ushering in the warmer weather this month with this light and cheery scent.
The box also came with a bookmark for Scent Club members to write down their own response to the mantra, “I will nurture my inner magic this month by…” I chose to personally nurture my own inner magic this month by stopping to pay attention to my body, my mind, and my soul.
This month brings a lot of transition for me. We just moved into a new neighborhood and have simplified our lifestyle to accommodate for a much smaller living space. I’ve also just begun a new job, volunteering as an Impact Editor for a local non-profit to hone-in on my writing and creativity skillset. And as I continue to invest in my personal blog, I’m beginning the exploration of new partnerships, writing topics, and lifestyle changes that I hope will make a long-term impact in my life and the lives of others for years to come.
In the midst of all this change I’m finding it increasingly important to actively stop, observe and tend to the wellbeing of my body, mind, and soul. These 3 aspects of my being are so interconnected, and influential in what I can give to the people around me; but are also the most easily neglected during times of busyness and change. So, with the mantra of nurturing my inner magic in mind, and my portable roll-on scent in hand as a reminder; I look forward to actively investing in acknowledging and nurturing those 3 areas of my life and being.
This is just the first scent of the monthly fragrance that I’ll be receiving as a Scent Club member, but I look forward to sharing about the scent and mantra of future scents as they come. If you’re interested in following along, you can do so as I share more on Instagram (@marikoashley) Otherwise, you can try it for yourself (along with any other Skylar products) for 10% off with the code MARIKOS10 🙂
My husband, David and I just recently returned from our 10-day honeymoon with time spent in Paris, and Rome. It was a really lovely trip, and happened to coincide almost exactly with the STSFxBIPOC10x10 challenge. For those who are new to the challenge, the gist of it includes selecting 10 items of clothing to wear for 10 days. This particular version of the challenge, hosted by @selltradeslowfashion and @buyfromBIPOC invited participants to self-select 10 pieces of clothing, leaving it up to the participant’s discretion whether shoes would be included in those 10 items or not. Happening between March 11th-22nd and giving us the weekends off, we were invited to particularly highlight BIPOC (Black & Indigenous People of Color) makers within our 10 pieces.
I initially joined the challenge because since I’m relatively new to the slow fashion movement, I thought it would be a great opportunity to practice simplicity and mindful consumerism, particularly while traveling. Coming from Western culture, I’ve noticed a temptation to over-consume – be it food, clothing, culture, experiences. American society leads us to believe that the more we see, the more we do, the more we buy, the more we taste — the more interesting, respectable, and content we will be. It all comes down to more. Acknowledging that overconsumption is clearly an issue back home, I thought it would be interesting to see how translating the concept of mindful consumerism while traveling would play out. Participating in the 10×10 was an accountability of sorts, keeping me in check as I was reminded at the beginning of each day that what I have is enough, before even leaving the Airbnb or hotel.
Overall, it was both an extremely challenging, and conclusively gratifying experience. I thought I’d share my main learnings in blogpost form – for myself to remember, and for those that are following along in this personal journey of mine toward holistic health and socially conscious living.
First off, I’d like to say that trying out a “challenge” while crossing cultures is QUITE difficult. I tend to be overly ambitious in nature, but I should’ve known that factoring in cross-cultural dissonance would add a complicated layer to my experience in the challenge. Upon landing, my husband and I felt immediate discomfort in recognizing that we were outsiders in an unfamiliar place and culture. After a few awkward interactions due to our lack of competence in knowing French or understanding Parisian culture – we realized the lack of cultural competence we had going into our international travels.
Now – as someone who cares deeply about cross-cultural competence, engagement in issues of racial and social justice, etc…being in a position of recognizing my absolute LACK of cross-cultural competence to start our trip was humbling to say the least, if not humiliating.
Why hadn’t I done more research prior to this trip? I should’ve brushed up on my French and Italian before coming. I wish I’d better prepared for this.
As an enneagram 3 (The Achiever) it’s safe to say that I literally hate feeling incompetent in anything. If there’s something I sense I won’t do well in, I tend to avoid trying it at all. The fact that I started a blog and pursued yoga teaching is a miracle in and of itself – but also marks a bit of progress in this journey I’m in to take risks despite potential failure.
But this. This was something else. It was our honeymoon, for goodness sake! A honeymoon is supposed to be easy, lavish, and full of nothing but good vibes…right?
In our state of humbling cross-cultural dissonance, David and I realized we had a choice. We could sit there, regretting all that we were lacking as we came into the two weeks to come and grasping for glimpses of comfort and familiarity wherever possible. Or – we could step into the remainder of our trip recognizing the abundance of growth that it had to offer; in diving deep into a new culture, being transformed by our own discomfort, and examining and questioning the character issues that arise when we’re put in an uncomfortable situation.
These aren’t quite the thoughts I’d been led to believe I’d be processing on my “dream honeymoon,” but given that my husband and I are anything but traditional – we recognized that this was simply an incredible opportunity to continue the journey we were already on in personal growth and transformation.
And so, that’s how our honeymoon began – and how my journey on my first 10×10 challenge began. Humbling. Full of discomfort. And open to transformation and growth. It may seem silly to narrow character development down to something as seemingly-superficial as the clothes I chose to wear, but I came to find that it meant a surprising lot to me.
My participation in the challenge itself was mostly fun. I loved the creativity it required in crafting new outfit combinations with pieces I’d already worn 5-6 times that week. I enjoyed stopping to take a quick photo in a quaint, undiscovered corner of a new city. It allowed us to take our trip slowly, and to really take in and observe the sights, scenes, smells, and sounds of the people and places we were surrounded by.
It was also difficult. There were mornings when getting ready that I’d regretted deciding to participate in such a challenge while traveling to a new city. Being unfamiliar with the weather patterns of the cities we were in, I’d wished I’d brought different pieces with me – or more pieces altogether. But part of the challenge itself was recognizing the unpredictability that may arise in the midst of it, and being resourceful in utilizing what I’d pre-selected to rise to the occasion.
I also noticed that in my feelings of regret or discomfort both within the 10×10 challenge, and in our travel; my desire to unnecessarily consume increased. When feeling that I lacked the appropriate clothing to withstand the windy days in Paris, all I wanted to do was step into a boutique and purchase a few cute sweaters. In situations where my lack of knowledge in Parisian or Italian culture began to surface, I wanted to move faster in hopping from attraction to attraction, covering up my personal shame of cultural incompetence with the distraction of over-consuming exciting new experiences.
But beginning each morning recognizing my commitment wearing solely these 10 items of clothing helped to keep my desire to over-consume in check. Keeping up with the stories of joy, creativity, and perseverance of others doing the challenge through the #STSFxBIPOC10x10 hashtag reminded me of the same abundance I had even with the few articles of clothing, and little competence I had to start off each day. And this in no way excuses cultural incompetence – my husband and I truly tried our best to learn what we could as we went, attempting to respect and honor the places and people we came into contact with as best possible. But it encouraged us to continue trying to learn, grow, and move forward; despite the obvious imperfection of our efforts.
And in this, I recognized a very valuable but easily dismissed lesson… engaging in any sort of effort toward socially conscious living – be it something as simple as a closet minimizing challenge, or as complex as dismantling oppressive systems; requires the humility to do so imperfectly. It requires the will to continue taking a posture of teachability as one makes mistakes along the way. It’s not about going through things perfectly the first time, or even the tenth time. It’s about continuing to try, whilst learning from those who are farther along.
Translating this back into the concept of consumption, I’ve narrowed it down to one broader learning. Conscious consumption (for me) is less about cutting off consumption altogether, and more about questioning what I consume, and why.
What do I consume on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis? Where are the pieces of products I’m consuming coming from? Who creates and is impacted by what I consume? How is the personhood of those creating and impacted by what I consume being honored? Why am I consuming said product?
Will it contribute to my holistic well-being — or is it simply perpetuating a cycle of overconsumption and disposal while lacking to address the character issues that create this desire in the first place?
These are the questions I’ll be asking as I move forward in my personal journey toward holistic wellness, and socially conscious living. Of course, the 10×10 Challenge has encouraged me to continue the minimizing of my closet, and the investment in long-lasting, ethically made pieces to build a capsule wardrobe.
But ultimately, it’s encouraged me to holistically question my consumption: of clothing, of food, of everything; and to continue to explore new methods, companies, and people that also seek to build a more just, sustainable, and ethical world. I look forward to continuing to share the ups and downs of my own journey with you – imperfections and mistakes in all.
If you’re at all interested in seeing which pieces I chose for the 10×10 challenge, you can see the looks more closely here.