Hippie Magic

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So there was a whole lot of Hippie Magic going on in my house tonight…..“What exactly IS Hippie Magic?” you might ask.  That’s what all of my homemade DIY personal care products have come to be known by in my house.  Hippie Magic is my new favorite passion.  I’ve been dabbling in it for a few years.  And with each foray, I’ve been more and more pleased with the results.  The perks to Hippie Magic are two-fold:  1) Generally speaking, I can make extremely effective homemade items at a fraction of the cost compared to the various drug store and designer products I have used in the past; and, 2) I know exactly what ingredients are in my homemade Hippie Magic.  Tonight, my daughters and I made a face wash, deodorant and a luxurious skin lotion. Of course, much of this is trial and error, so I don’t have results yet on those items, but we had fun in the process of creating our products.  And as much as the older girls complained about “helping” or “using” the items, I know they feel a sense of pride in using something they made themselves.  Plus, I knew this had to be the title and topic of my next blog when my four year old came in and said, “Ooh….that looks like Hippie Magic!”  

As I mentioned, I have dabbled in Hippie Magic on and off for years.  So what really sold me and convinced me to get on the band wagon of things au natural?  The worst sunburn of my life.  And for a pasty white chick who grew up in the south, that’s saying a LOT.  I religiously slather on copious amounts of SPF 50+ in an effort to keep my skin blindingly white.  However, a visit this summer to a water park in Texas proved too much for this Alaskan Chick.  I knew it was bad very early, despite multiple applications of sunscreen.  I first sought shelter, then decided to leave the park altogether.  Wise choice.  What was I going to do?  Right away my dad said “vinegar or pickle juice”.  Now, my dad is an extremely intelligent man but has been known to pull some legs.  So I ignored him altogether and went to my favorite resource.  The Internet.  Of course there were gazillions of “sure-fire” sunburn treatments.  But it all came back to what my dad said……a recurrent theme was using Apple Cider Vinegar with Mother (also known as Raw ACV) along with coconut oil, which has been my go to everything elixir for about five years.  I was sold.  My mother became my nursemaid for the next few days, ensuring to treat my back thoroughly.  We would dab the Raw ACV all over the burn.  The heat from the burn would evaporate the liquid quickly, so we did this for a few minutes to ensure we coated every inch.  Once this dried thoroughly, we would then apply a thick coat of coconut oil, which has been my primary go to moisturizer for years anyway.  We did this every night for three nights.  Between applications, we would also use aloe very gel.  NOT the green crap you get at the grocery or drug store…..I got mine from a health food store.  This helped relieve the heat throughout the day between ACV applications.  The results were unbelievable.  I did peel, but barely, all things considered.  I mean the burn was so bad, I probably should have gone to the ER.  I just KNEW it was going to blister and I’ve never had a blistering sunburn before.  But it was all avoided.  By this old school remedy that was easily treated with products many of us already have in our pantry anyway.  Talk about going back to the basics……I realized this was what Brilliant on the Basics was all about.  What else could be simplified in healthier, chemical-free ways?  These results just don’t lie.  And thus, Hippie Magic was born.   

The Hardest Day to be Grateful For….

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On September 11, 2001, I was a carefree 25 year old…..manager of an upscale bistro and also a bartender on my days off.  I was thoroughly enjoying my life.  Then the event that changed the world for our generation happened.  Less than four months later, I, like many other patriotic Americans, had enlisted in the military.  I consider that to be the best decision of my life.  Fast forward ten years.  I was stationed in Singapore in 2011 when I found out I was selected to promote to the rank of Chief Petty Officer (E-7).  Unlike other branches of service, the Navy goes through an intensive six week training period for those priviledged enough to be selected for Chief. This training (over the years called various things…..including Initiation, Induction, The Season, and Phase III, just to name a few) is meant to help those selected develop into strong enlisted leaders. This photo is from the U.S. Embassy in Singapore on the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. My class of five Chief Selects was invited to participate in the 10th anniversary ceremony there.  It was an emotional time for me as I was going through the transition process after being selected for Chief Petty Officer. Part of the transition season is that it is a time to reflect on what brought you to the point where you will receive your Anchors (the symbol of a Chief Petty Officer). As I was reflecting on my Naval career and back to those terrible attacks, I endured a difficult internal conflict which continues to haunt me every year, and likely will continue to burden my thoughts for the rest of my life. While it is awful to even consider being grateful for that day in 2001, there is a part of me that MUST be. That day gave me the courage and determination to radically change my life at the age of 25 and enlist in the U.S. Navy. Only because of that day, did I meet my ex-husband and have our three amazing girls. I will truly never forget the sacrifice all those souls who lost their lives fifteen years ago. Nor those who fought valiantly afterwords. It will always be a poignant reminder that as terrible as the events were, I am in debt to the victims and their families. For their sacrifice has brought me the greatest joys of my life.

On a sad side note, something odd struck me today……..fifteen years ago, Americans and our allies around the world hung the American flag and gathered in impromptu groups to sing patriotic songs.  The level of patriotism in our country exceeded anything our nation had seen in over 60 years.  Today, we stand an entirely different country.  Only fifteen years later, instead of reflecting on great patriotism today, we are talking about NFL “role models” (I use that term loosely) who are standing in protest against our national anthem and our flag.  Our forefathers must be weeping as much for the state of our nation today as they were in 2001.  I weep with them.

   #NeverForget

Back to the BASICS

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While serving in the U.S. Navy in 2008, they started a program called “Brilliant on the Basics”.  The goal was to remind us to get back to the fundamentals as a way of ensuring we were appropriately taking care of our Sailors.  How can you ever expect to excel in complex areas if you continuously overlook the simple stuff?  The concept spoke to me, which is why I have used that as my primary platform for my blog.  When I decided to leave the Navy and move to the Last Frontier, one of my primary goals was to simplify life for myself and my children.  As Americans, we have come to live exceedingly complex lives.  Smart devices, prepackaged food in an effort to make mealtime “easier”, health and beauty products loaded with who knows what…….All of this at what cost?


So how do we become Brilliant on the Basics?  Well, like all things, it is best to start at the BEGINNING.  Don’t ever be afraid to start over.  It could be something as simple as modifying a DIY product because the last batch just didn’t provide quite the results you wanted.  Or it could be as massive as starting over in life…..with a new career or in a new location.  Of course, we will make mistakes.  But how we move forward (which can often include taking a few steps back in order to begin again) will dictate the overall end results.  YOU have the power.  Take control of your own destiny and don’t be afraid to fail.  Our failures are what helps us forge on and become stronger.  When I decided to leave the Navy as a Chief Petty Officer (E-7) instead of continuing on until retirement, I knew people would ask me “Are you crazy?” or “What are you thinking?”  What I wasn’t prepared for was the number of people who said things like, “I wish I was that brave,” and “I’m jealous….I could never do that myself.”  People are so afraid of change.  But if you are not happy in your own skin and the life you have made for yourself, who do you really have to blame?  I knew it was time for me to make a change and so I did something about it.  To me, that’s not brave…..that’s just good old-fashioned common sense.  If in your heart, you know it is time for a new beginning, make it happen.

Once you begin, the times comes to ASK questions.  What is the value added of something in your life?  Big picture, this can apply to all sorts of things.  There was a period of time in my old hometown where I was a member of dozens of local Facebook groups.  There was everything from “Buy, Sell and Trade” groups to “Bad Drivers” and much, much more.  At first, there was some sheer entertainment value from these groups, as well as the occasional informational tidbit or great deal to be made.  But over time, the groups became such a drain on my life.  Negativity permeated the groups.  It soon became exhausting to even see a post on my timeline.  So I asked myself, “What is the value added of having these groups in my life?”  After a brief pro/con list where the scales were quickly tipped to the negative, I realized there was almost no value added.  And I deleted them ALL.  It was one of my favorite Facebook days ever.  The freedom I felt after purging those groups from my life was energizing.  On a smaller scale, I started to think about the products I use at home in the same terms.  Is there really a value added by throwing a store-bought frozen lasagna in the oven instead of planning ahead and making one myself to have stored in the freezer?  Sure, some time and effort is required to have one on standby in the freezer, but in the long run, is that really all that difficult?  Easier said than done, I know.  And I fail at this often myself.  But I would much rather have the homemade version that a store-bought brand…….it always tastes better, you know what’s in it, and you get the sheer satisfaction of knowing that YOU did that.  To me, that is value added every time.  The key here is to start small.  Don’t expect to eliminate all these unnecessary evils from your life in one fell swoop.  If you try to do that, you will fail miserably and be more reluctant to try again in the future.  Start weeding things out slowly.  Just like any new regimen, it takes time to build a pattern.  Before you know it you will be seeing long lasting results.  And once you do, you will be emboldened to continue to make more (and likely bigger) changes.

Once you know what changes need to be made, it is time to SEPARATE.  Remove all things toxic from your life.  That means the food and products that are full of unnecessary chemicals and additives have got to go.  It also means the people who are equally toxic should be shown the door as well.  Just like I did with the Facebook groups, try cutting toxic things or people out of your life for even just a few days.  Once you realize the negative impact they were having on you, you will be much less likely to go back.  This can be especially hard when the toxic person is someone you love.  You can’t ask them to change for you……that never works out.  If a truly toxic person is going to change, they have to want to do it for themselves.  If they cannot do that, you may have to consider whether or not it is time to eliminate their presence from your life.

After you determine what (or who) needs to be removed from your life, you can begin to IDENTIFY what is important to you.  Start focusing on those people, those things.  Negativity breeds negativity, which is why we purged that from our lives.  It is time to focus on the positive.  I like to joke that I am just a “Little Ray of Sunshine” in a world of “Negative Nancies”.  I challenge myself every day to be the light in a dark and negative world.  As with everything, at times I fail.  But trying to focus on the positive and not be eaten alive by negativities is one of the most important things in my own personal daily life.  For me, I’ve also come to realize that trying to make meals from “scratch” vice out of the box is kind of a big deal too.  Now don’t get me wrong…..I’m not over here with my pasta roller creating my own noodles or anything crazy like that……yet! But I would much prefer to go back to the good ‘ole fashioned way of cooking, cleaning, beauty, etc.  I believe it makes a difference.  Once we can identify the extraneous materials and eliminate them, we can focus on our priorities and start improving upon them daily.

Now comes the time to CLEAN up our lives!  You would be amazed by how much you could simplify your life by going clean.  To some people, that means different things.  Did you know the FDA just ordered 19 ingredients be removed from anti-bacterial hand soaps and sanitizers?  I walked away from the anti-bacterial craze many years ago……maybe it was an irrational fear from reading books by authors like Robin Cook.  But to me, it just seemed to make sense that we were doing our immune systems more harm than good by using anti-bacterial EVERYTHING.  I remember working at a daycare and having moms freak out because their three-year old (who finally just started daycare after being essentially quarantined for the first three years of life) would catch a cold.  Exposure to various germs early in life is generally a GOOD thing and helps us BUILD a strong immune system.  But trying to chemically alter our response to these germs (by use of a gazillion anti-bacterial products) does nothing more than make those same germs mutate into something we may not be ready to contend with.  Call me crazy, but I’d rather take my chances with the good old fashion germs rather than the mutated varietal.  As a general rule, I try to use naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal products instead of the chemically altered ones.  Nature has been at this for quite a few more years than humans, so I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Finally, we are ready to SIMPLIFY.  My own personal desire is the simpler, the better.  Of course my reality does not always comply……but I’m a work in progress.  Actually, my significant other is a minimalist.  As somewhat of a self-proclaimed hoarder, it’s been quite an adjustment.  But more than anything, I feel relief.  It is an amazing feeling to not have crap just piled up everywhere.  Although I am still my own worst enemy and have not quite fully embraced the minimalist lifestyle…..I want to.  Yes, I do!  But the hoarder in me still rears her ugly head from time to time.  I must admit that the simplicity that comes from a minimalist-type lifestyle is breathtaking.  As a hoarder, you can often feel like you are drowning in “things”.  What are those things?  Who knows….they haven’t seen the light of day since 1997. But they are IMPORTANT things!  Sentimental value is always what gets me…..I strive to live the life of “throw it out if you haven’t used it in the last year”.  But my personal reality is that I have an emotional tie to everything you could imagine.  That is one of the advantages of our technological age though…..you can videograph or photograph anything to remember it these days.  So I challenge you……SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE!  Get rid of the excess!  You’ve started over.  You’ve figured out what items still have value to you.  You’ve removed what didn’t.  You’ve figured out what matters now.  You’ve cleaned up your life.  Don’t’ take it up a notch!  Take it down a notch!  You deserve it!  Once you become Brilliant on the Basics, you are on your way to greatness!  Be Bold, Be Brilliant!