What do I say to someone diagnosed with cancer?

It’s breast cancer awareness month and this means you can buy anything pink. In fact, I challenge you to find something not pink during this month.

Unfortunately, though, what you can’t buy with those pink items is an education about breast cancer (or any cancer) including, prevention.

And while I’m so happy we can talk about breast cancer considering there was a time when women suffered in silence, I do think we need to do more than “pinkwash.” I think education should be the focus.

So today, let’s start with three things you can say to the newly diagnosed should you find yourself at a loss for words.

3 Simple Phrases

 

“I’m sorry”

The reality is this; there are no words of wisdom at a time like cancer. The word “cancer” alone can clear a room or a social calendar. It can render you speechless.

Saying these these seemingly little words can convey you’re concern and care without saying things that could offend. You can always go back later and say more heartwarming words once you’ve collected your thoughts.

“What can I do?”

I think these words speak volumes especially for the newly diagnosed. I remember walking out of the breast clinic the day I got my diagnosis and thinking, what comes next?

Chemotherapy is big, ugly and scary and each person has their own reaction to it. So just knowing you can count on someone to do anything for you is comforting.

“I’m gonna love you through it”

These are words plucked right out of Martina McBride’s song entitled “I’m gonna love you through it.” But they are perfect! However you say it, the best thing you can say is that you are going to be right there with them. There’s no greater gift.

 

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Useful Gift Ideas for the Breast Cancer Fighter

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Mental Unwellness Day

Did you know? One in five adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, experiences mental illness in a given year? (National Alliance Mental Health)

It doesn’t matter where I am or who I’m talking to “depression” usually finds its way into the conversation.

The current state of affairs, discord and day-to-day challenges can leave us feeling empty and emotionally drained.

We are inundated with issues and problems. The unknown. Poor health. Workplace abuse. Money problems. Aging.

All things that can trigger unhappiness and poor mental health.

And while these issues may not be the cause of Bipolar or Schizophrenia or any other mental illness, they certainly can irritate mental illness.

So what can I do?

  • Take a break from news.
  • Take a walk.
  • If your a bible reader, make time for personal study or reading.
  • Do things that bring you happiness inside.

No, it’s not gonna solve every problem you have. But, it may induce the happiness endorphins. And that’s a good way to fight back!

Don’t be afraid to call a friend or a family member. Share your truth with someone!

I started out my career as a suicide intervention counselor. Trust me, I never once felt bothered by a caller seeking conversation or help. Neither will your friends or family.

We must start to include mental health and wellness as an important part of overall good health.

In 2008 my friend Lara died by suicide. I miss our inside jokes. The lunches. The conversations. And her idiosyncrasies.

The Health Brief

The F.D.A. has approved a generic epinephrine auto-injector

Teva Pharmaceuticals U.S.A. has gained the F.D.A. approval to market their generic version of EpiPen.

The need for a generic life-saving version of the EpiPen started in 2016 when Mylan Pharmaceuticals (a multibillion dollar pharmaceutical company and the owners of the brand name medication, Epipen) made a what were you thinking kind of move and drastically increased the price of the EpiPen medication from $100 for two pens to over $600 for two.

(Someone had to be smoking some serious crack when they made that decision).

Even with insurance the hefty increase in price made it virtually impossible for everyday people to buy the life-saving medication.

Mylan’s disturbing increase combined with the upset of the people and the news coverage caught the attention of federal antitrust regulators.

Regulators started an investigation that led to what some have called a “Mind-Blowing” antitrust scheme wherein 18 drug makers were accused of fixing generic drug prices.

All together, the 18 companies worked together to falsely inflate the prices of 15 drugs to treat glaucoma, arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety and asthma as well as several other conditions, the attorneys general allege.

Although there are other medications on the market none of them have been granted the title “Generic EpiPen” until now.

This approval means patients living with severe allergies who require constant access to life-saving epinephrine should have a lower-cost option, as well as another approved product to help protect against potential drug shortages.— F.D.A. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in the statement.

Hopefully, it will be far more affordable!

More than 100 cases of Measles have been reported in the U.S.

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 100 cases of measles have been diagnosed this year in 21 states and the District of Columbia.

How? A contributing factor to an increase in measles in the United States is that travelers visit countries where there’s a measles outbreak and then they bring them back.

What can I do? If you already have measles, it’s important to reduce the risk of spreading the infection to other people. You should:

  • avoid work or school for at least 4 days from when you first developed the measles rash
  • try to avoid contact with people who are more vulnerable to the infection, such as young children and pregnant women, cancer fighters and the aging while you’re ill

What about prevention? If you plan on traveling to other countries, see your doctor, first! You may need to be vaccinated. Whether you’re traveling or not according to the CDC, two doses of MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine are nearly 100 percent effective at preventing measles. (CDC)

But I’m worried about the safety of vaccines. You’re not alone. Many of us are. As the years pass we get more information about the potential side effects. There are pros and cons to vaccination.

I plan to discuss this more in a future article but for now my advice is that you do your research. Talk to your doctor. Don’t let others influence your decision. Trust your gut.

Weed killer reported in breakfast foods? 

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently reported that Glyphosate, a weedkiller linked to cancer, was found in “hefty doses” in popular oat cereals, oatmeal, granola and snack bars.

To my dismay, the weed killer was also found in about one-third of the samples made with organically grown oats. For the full story and the brands tested go to EWG.

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Up Close & Personal: Lesley Barth

LESLEY BARTH is a singer-songwriter and entrepreneur who believes music has the power to change lives and help us to better understand ourselves, and each other.

With her rich voice, relatable lyrics and 70’s sound (and vibe) she’s been compared to music greats like Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Carly Simon and Cat Stevens.

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with Barth. She talked about why flying solo is so important to her and how she’s overcoming the habit of worrying about what others think.

Continue reading “Up Close & Personal: Lesley Barth”

under (re)construction

Hello friends! It’s Friday July 27, 2018—I hope this finds you staying cool, and looking forward to a good weekend.

To my cancer fighter readers, I hope this finds you on a good day.

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. That’s because a few weeks ago I had the final surgery of delayed breast reconstruction (yay!).

I’ve been recuperating.

This surgery was to remove breast tissue expanders a.k.a. spacers, and replace them with permanent breast implants.

What is a breast tissue expander? A breast tissue expander is an inflatable breast implant designed to stretch the skin and muscle to make room for a future, more permanent implant.

The breast tissue expanders are seen here on the left. Not every expander looks the same. I’m a very petite woman and each surgeon has their preference.

Why do you need expanders? Once you have a mastectomy you don’t have a pocket (or space) to hold implants so the surgeon creates one using “spacers.”

It took me four years to get to this place. Reconstruction doesn’t typically take as long as mine did. Many (like Angelina Jolie) opt for immediate reconstruction following mastectomy.

That was my intent, too. But everyone’s body and circumstances vary.

In my case, when my surgeon removed my breast tissue (I had double mastectomies) my skin rebelled. It quickly started to change color. When the skin changes color it may mean the skin is dying off due to lack of blood supply.

This is a complication called, Necrosis.

When my surgeon saw my skin reacting negatively she determined it was better to back out of immediate reconstruction and give my body and skin time to heal. And I agree!

At the time, she didn’t know if the skin issue was going to end up being a complex situation.

Thankfully, it was not! Within days my skin was back to normal.

I could have jumped right back into surgery to finish the job but I wanted to take a timeout to just breathe and heal emotionally. And, I wanted to restore my immune system before doing so.

Cancer, chemotherapy and surgery are taxing physically and emotional. I needed a break, so I took one.

Two years later I went back to the same plastic surgeon. This time my experience was a disappointing debacle.

I’ll share more about that in another letter but for now, I just wanted to touch base with you all. And, I like to try to keep my articles shorter than normal for people on the run.

Update on my blogging challenges.

I haven’t given up on my blogging goals. If you’ve been following me you know what I’m talking about, if not, you can read more about that here..

I continue to learn ways to better myself as a writer, content creator and blog designer. And I’m looking forward to applying what I’ve learned.

But if there’s one thing life is teaching me it’s that you don’t have to do it, grasp it or be it, overnight. It takes time and patience.

Have a great weekend!

Always, Imperfect April

Skin Cancer Awareness

Hello everyone. It’s Saturday June 2, 2018—I hope this finds you somewhere breathing in peace and happiness.

If you’ve been following me then you know I’m working on consistent writing, and posting. This week, my post is coming to you a day later than I planned. But as they say, better late than never. And I’m okay with that.

It’s hard to believe that we’re already in the month of June. Before June slips into July, I wanna take a little time to talk with you about skin cancer.

In case you didn’t know, May was skin cancer awareness month. But since cancer doesn’t need an occasion to strike I think anytime is a good time to talk prevention.

As a breast cancer survivor I know how scary and painful cancer is. So the way I see it, the only option we have is prevention.

Prevention is your best defense!

I know there are some of you who may be thinking “Sunscreen is an extra step I don’t need” OR “A tan makes me look and feel healthy and sexy.”

I get it! It’s bathing suit season. We all want to look and feel our best. I also know that a tan can improve our appearance in the same way that foundation does. A tan is a cover up that goes a long way.

But, a tan does not equal healthy.  Let’s say that again, together; A tan does not equal healthy. Here’s what the FDA had to say about tanning:

There is no such thing as a safe tan. The increase in skin pigment, called melanin, which causes the tan color change in your skin is a sign of damage.

Evidence suggests that tanning greatly increases your risk of developing skin cancer. And, contrary to popular belief, getting a tan will not protect your skin from sunburn or other skin damage.

Additionally, premature aging is a long-term side effect of UV exposure, meaning early signs of aging may not show up on your skin until many years after you’ve had a sunburn or suntan. Avoiding UV exposure is essential to maintaining healthy skin.

Did you know?

Cataracts are one form of eye damage that research has shown may increase with UV exposure. Cataracts can cause clouding of the natural lens of the eye meaning decreased vision and possible blindness..

Other types of eye damage include cancer around the eyes, Macular Degeneration and irregular tissue growth that can block vision (Pterygium).

So what’s a girl supposed to do?

Fake it. Use self tanner. There are so many on the market now that it doesn’t make sense to lay out and wait for the color to come. You can even find organic and all natural tanners. Or, you could go to a professional sprayer if you’d prefer.

Consider UV clothing and hats. I predict UV clothing will be the next big thing. I’m waiting for Target to partner with some cool brand. If it happens I’ll let you know.

SPF and shade. Use SPF everywhere! Slather this baby on from head-to-toe. Even under your clothes and don’t forget the back of your neck. I recommend using a separate one daily for your face, as well. Here’s a few of my favorite options. One is chemical free, one is not.

For over the counter options Good Housekeeping compiled a great list here. 

Do you have a favorite SPF product?

The Challenges of Blogging: Comparing Myself to Others

Hello! It’s Friday, May 17, 2018—IF you’ve read my last entry on the The Challenges of Blogging you know I’m a work in progress. In that post I confessed that my to-do list often gets in the way of my writing.

“At times, I fool myself into believing that I can do one chore and stop there. But in reality, one chore leads to another and another and the next thing I know, I’m behind in my writing.”

TODAY, I’m talking about how I’m trying to break the habit of comparing my blogging abilities (and blog design) to other more established bloggers.

Now, if we’re being honest here (and I hope we are) I don’t think there’s anyone here who hasn’t been guilty of comparing their work to someone else’s, especially you ladies.

It doesn’t matter what we do, as women, we are quick to compare ourselves to others.

In the blogosphere comparison is easy to get caught up in because we have so much to stack up to. Everyone from celebrities to children have gotten in on blogging.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across an interesting blog authored by a little girl (I can’t remember the name now) but her blogging abilities made me feel “uber” inadequate (laugh).

Those little ones are born with the technology skills no other generation has had.

And as for those celebrity bloggers; well, they’re hiring a team of people to write, edit, post, design and market.

Good points to keep in mind when we feel compelled (by we, I mean, me) to compare ourselves to others.

There’s a lot of blogs out here. They are pretty and fluffy and they depict the perfect lifestyle.

While the icing and bling of the web can be distracting for me and even blinding in some cases, my goal is to continue to stay true to my vision.


Be true to yourself and your dreams

–Lara Prescott


 

My solution: Silence the blogs and people that divert my attention. Since I know that comparison is self-sabotaging behavior I’m working on drowning out the noise.

I’m not doing this with every pretty blog that comes along, because I want to learn from my peers.

But, I’m selective with who I let into my peripheral. I don’t want someone else’s voice and vision to take over my creative thoughts.

In my next post on The Challenges of Blogging I’ll let you know how I”m doing and I’ll  share with you some other things I’m learning. For now, though, I continue to work on consistent writing (and posting) and this whole comparison thing.

How do YOU stay true to yourself when it comes to your work and art? Please share with me in the comment section.

A Few Nice Gift Ideas

It’s Monday May 7, 2018—IF you happen to be on the hunt for a last-minute gift or two, you might like a few of my faves.

Continue reading “A Few Nice Gift Ideas”

The Finer Things Club: Jenna Fischer

It’s April 16, 2017—Today, Jenna Fischer of the NBC funny show, The Office, released a limited edition of items you can buy from the “Finer Things Club.”

There are T-shirts, teapots and coffee mugs.

Continue reading “The Finer Things Club: Jenna Fischer”

Hugs Have a Therapeutic Effect on People

Hello everyone! Thank you for joining me today. I hope this finds you at the beginning of a great week.

It’s Monday, April 16, 2018–It seems like every other week we learn something new about what is or isn’t good for us. But I have to admit, this hugging thing is something I can get behind. In psychology we are taught that emotional deprivation can lead to a variety of issues in children. So, common sense tells me that adults, too, would experience some negative symptoms due to lack of affection.

Continue reading “Hugs Have a Therapeutic Effect on People”

The Challenges of Blogging

Friday, March 23, 2018–YOU might agree that blogging is a business. It requires time, creativity, energy and nurturing. Blogging can generate income and for some, celebrity status. But as with any business, blogging has its share of challenges, disappointments, setbacks and learning curves. Here are just two of the challenges I’m currently struggling with as well as my solution to them.

Continue reading “The Challenges of Blogging”

Amy Schumer

Funny girl Amy Schumer is married!

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Yup

A post shared by @ amyschumer on

Continue reading “Amy Schumer”

Mood Board

Happy Friday, friends.

I hope this finds you planning for a great weekend. Today’s post is all about home inspiration. We’re currently in the midst of renovating our home. And if you read last weeks post then you know we HAVE to remodel since we live in a fixer upper.

Continue reading “Mood Board”

Seeking Bright and Uncluttered

Hey everybody! It’s Thursday February 1. Where does the time go, right? Wherever you are I hope this finds you having a great week. My week has been pretty tamed. I’ve had a laundry list of things to do (including the laundry). But since I’ve been staying home a lot (trying to avoid contact with sick people), I can focus on getting some real work done around here, like painting.

Continue reading “Seeking Bright and Uncluttered”

Warm & Cozy

Hi everybody, I hope this finds you gearing up for a good weekend!

SO many friends in social media have been posting images of themselves snowed in, playing in the snow, skiing or just pictures of the snow by itself. While snow makes for beautiful images, it’s more than this California girl can handle so I am doing all I can to stay warm. In this post I share some of my favorite soft and cozy things to keep me warm.

Continue reading “Warm & Cozy”

How to Protect Yourself and Others From Getting Sick

The cold and flu season has officially descended upon us. Everyone, everywhere is getting sick. To my dismay, I have been sick twice in the last few months–it hasn’t been fun. Making matters worse for me is that cancer and chemotherapy treatments have left me with a weak immune system. This means I am more susceptible to catching a cold, the flu or anything else going around.

Continue reading “How to Protect Yourself and Others From Getting Sick”

Behind The Scenes With Alicia Silverstone and MyKind Organics

Gifts for the Wine Lover

Happy Saturday, friends!

I hope this finds you having a great weekend. But, if it finds you shopping for the wine lover in your life, I hope this helps!

Always, April


Continue reading “Gifts for the Wine Lover”

Gifts for Seniors

After a certain age it’s easy to assume that the older adults in your life have all they need and want. But the reality is that some 6.4 million older Americans live at or below the federal poverty level of $11,800 a year (AARP). And being a woman, a person of color or a person in poor health increases the odds of poverty.

Continue reading “Gifts for Seniors”

My Favorite Magazines to Give and Receive

Casual reading has become a luxury that most people can’t afford–literally and figuratively. The cost of books and magazines, demanding schedules, shorter days and the never ending to do list can make it impossible to take a break.

Continue reading “My Favorite Magazines to Give and Receive”

Chemical Free Lip Liners

Great news! 100 Percent Pure has released a line of lip liners! Yay!

Finding a chemical free lip liner has not been an easy task. You can imagine my surprise when I found these in my inbox.

Just look at the pretty colors.

In addition to the big release the Pure beauty team gave us tips to lining. Here’s a few don’ts.

#1 Overdraw Your Lips

While bigger can be better, full on exaggerating your lips (like Miranda Sings) won’t fool anyone. A little out of the natural lip lines will give you the illusion of plumper, fuller lips, but let’s just enhance our lips to a level of believability, not science fiction.

#2 Harsh, Unblended Lines

We can appreciate your dedication to clean, perfect lines… but practicing around your lips is not the place. Blend, blend, blend. Save those perfectionist skills for your cat eye wings. Soft lines and edges will keep your lip liner looking natural and subtle.

#3 Over Sharpen Your Pencil Tip

You’ll want a soft, rounded tip to achieve the perfect smooth lip pencil application. Sharp points will just create tight, intense lines.

For the full article click HERE.

Myths About Breast Cancer

MYTH 1: You have to have a family history of breast cancer to be at risk

The truth is, most women with breast cancer don’t have a family history of the disease.  Only about 13 percent of women diagnosed have a first-degree female relative (mother, sister or daughter) with breast cancer. Having said this…

A woman who has a first-degree female relative with breast cancer has almost twice the risk of a woman without this family history. If she has more than 1 first-degree female relative with a history of breast cancer, her risk is about 3-4 times higher.

Regardless of your beliefs or fears, please do your breast exams and get your mammograms.

If you’d like to learn more about breast cancer and your risks you can go to the Susan G. Komen.

Please share.

I Think We Need Adult Drivers Education

I have my pet peeves. There’s no doubt about. Last week, after doing a little grocery shopping, I was headed to my car when I noticed this parking situation.

 

TheLifestyleBrief.com

Granted, neither of these cars belong to me. Still, why in the world do people park this close? Look at the lines on the ground. Could that truck be parked any worse (insert eye roll).

TheLifestyleBrief.com

As if I wasn’t already annoyed, I came across this wandering shopping cart.

TheLifestyleBrief.com

While this isn’t my car either, a few weeks ago–and although I parked so far away from the store it may as well have been in Egypt–I returned to find a ding in my door.

I guarantee you it’s because someone with a lack of respect for other peoples things parked too close to my car, or they just let their cart wander off without any regard for others.

The moral of the story; treat others the way you want to be treated…please?

 

Gossip Girl Gets Even

On Monday, Gossip girl, Blake Lively, posted this picture on Instagram with the caption “Happy Birthday, baby.”

 

View this post on Instagram

Happy Birthday, baby.

A post shared by Blake Lively (@blakelively) on

When I saw the picture I paused…and then Googled ‘Blake Lively husband.’ I could swear Lively was married to Ryan Reynolds (and she is), but the two Ryan’s together confused me, momentarily.

As the day went on, I learned this was Lively’s way of getting even with her husband for a picture he posted of her on her 30th birthday. The picture showed only half of her face with the caption “Happy Birthday to my amazing wife.”

View this post on Instagram

Happy Birthday to my amazing wife.

A post shared by Ryan Reynolds (@vancityreynolds) on

Maybe the post was meant to imply she’s his better ‘half.’ Whatever the case, the picture made me laugh and for a minute, stumped me. The couples public teasing gives us a behind the scenes look at their relationship. This one gets a ‘super cute’ and ‘funny’ rating from me!

Alwayz, April

The Teal Pumpkin Project

I can’t believe it’s already Mid-October. The month is getting away from me. Before it comes to a screeching halt, let’s talk about the Teal Pumpkin Project.

“The TEAL PUMPKIN PROJECT and the Teal Pumpkin Image are trademarks of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).”

 

Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.9 million children under age 18. That’s 1 in 13 children, or roughly two in every classroom.

If you celebrate Halloween, putting a teal pumpkin on your doorstep means you have non-food treats available for kids with food allergies.

Examples of items you could offer are glow sticks and small toys. This simple act promotes inclusion for trick-or-treaters with food allergies or other conditions.

Last year, almost 18,000 households from all 50 states participated in the Teal Pumpkin Project.

You can also go directly to the Teal Pumpkin Project Website for a free downloadable sign to put in your window. You’ll find a list of non-food treats there, as well, in case you need some suggestions. 

If you’re interested in getting more involved with the teal pumpkin project you can learn more about becoming a Teal Project insider HERE.

Almost perfect, April

Images sourced at Teal PumpkinProject

Discrimination

By P.P.

On the foggy summer streets of San Francisco, we good Catholic children of St. Thomas Parish gathered daily to choose teams for our favorite games. “Eeny meeny miney mo, catch a nigger by the toe, if he hollers let him go, 1-2-3-4-5.” Our good Catholic parents watched and smiled.

Fifty years later, the memory takes my breath away. We were not mean or hateful, just unbelievably stupid and ignorant. Today our raised consciousness recognizes discrimination against blacks, women, gays, even the height and weight challenged.

We don’t always solve the problems, but at least we see them. Still, discrimination exists. I came home from a class one night and sat down to watch a TV show with my daughter Lara who had recently moved back home.

The sitcom plot took a turn when a crazy woman just out of the crazy house came over and acted crazy. The laugh track was cranked to the highest volume and my stomach knotted.

“Oh, my gawd,” said Lara lunging the recliner back to upright. “This is the third show this week that is getting laughs off the crazies.”

Eeny meeny miney mo, catch a crazy by the toe

Once again we are woefully ignorant and insensitive. Look at our very common expressions. Better yet, listen to them. “What a nut job!” “I’ll be ready for the loony bin!” “He’s such a schizo!” “You’re driving me crazy!”

We don’t mean to be cruel or thoughtless, but ignorance is no excuse either. Millions of people in this country suffer from mental illness. TV commercials promote pills, but they don’t deal with the reality of people drowning in darkness, randomly selected for a pain beyond that most of us will ever know. A pain that goes beyond will, a pain to which they are neurologically chained.

Christmas 1990. I sat with my friend in her motel room, the floor like her mind was strewn with a clutter she could not clear. She had divorced her husband and her children were exhausted from begging her to get up. I was her only visitor.

How dare this pain be used for humor or cheapened by squeezing a pill commercial in between foot and yeast infections. We would not dream of passing a man on the street who was having a heart attack, yet we pass—albeit squeamishly—a man having a conversation with the voices in his head.

In a society that ruthlessly pursues wealth as the marker of success, we dismiss those who are not achieving without ever trying to distinguish between those who won’t and those who can’t.

When I was growing up, the ultimate threat was “We’ll have to send you to Imola”, the state hospital in Napa.

Governor Reagan stopped that when he emptied our mental institutions and filled our streets. The lucky ones stayed at Imola, safe and supervised. The others we step around on the streets—or laugh at on TV.

“That’s it! “ Lara said. “I’m going to write a letter! I should have taken some stationery when I left the hospital. I’ll tell them a thing or two.” She could.

Cancer Survival Kit

Happy Friday, friends!
The number one question I get regarding the cancer patient is what should I buy someone with a diagnosis to show my support?

If you’re not sure what to buy the cancer fighter in your life, the first thing to do is to keep in mind how you feel when you are fighting a bug. What are some of the things that bring you comfort?

For example, hot soup and cozy pajamas always feel so good when you’re feeling ‘blah?’ It’s the same way for the cancer fighter. Here are some of my faves.

Consider gifting your loved one with a nice carryall bag equipped with Ginger Candy to help fight nausea and a soft small blanket to take to chemotherapy (sometimes it gets cold in that suite). You can check out Target for some faux fur blankets or Kaufman Mercantile for a beautiful classic cotton version.

A scarf is also a nice option. It’s a good idea to keep the neck covered when the body is weak. I’ll be posting more ideas soon but trust me, this is a great start!

Oh, I can’t forget my favorite cookbook! You will see this one a LOT around here; One Bite At a Time is authored by chef Rebecca Katz. She’s the best when it comes to cancer nourishment (in my opinion).

What nourishes your soul when you’re feeling under the weather?

Alwayz, April

What is DACA?

You’ve heard the acronyms and the heated debates. The he said, she said. But do you know what DACA is? If you don’t, you’re not alone. Most people including the news reporters, had no idea what any of that jargon meant until DACA became an issue. So In case, like me, you’re wondering what DACA is, here it is in a nutshell:

 

source CNN

Fashion Friday

There’s no doubt about it; Summer is slowly drifting away making room for fall. And while fall means back to the daily grind for most of us, it doesn’t have to mean a dull existence.


Color is a good way to brighten the day. This fall I find myself drawn to splashes of red. When it comes to fashion, much like my music, I don’t like to put limitations on myself based on some rules or the expectations  of others.

I think fashion should reflect the personality of the individual. As you can see here in my casual Friday post, I like to marry business with casual. This works for dinner, dates, parties, casual Friday or just the weekend.

I have to run now, but I hope this finds you somewhere planning for a great weekend!

Alwayz, April

Alicia Silverstone: School Lunch & Snack Ideas

Alicia Silverstone came into my peripheral as Cher Horowitz in the funny-rich-kid film Clueless. But in real life Alicia Silverstone is a vegan mom and wife. In this clip she shares her tips for making snacks and school lunches. Do you have some ideas? Please share!


 

You Can Now Bring Joanna Gaines Into Your Home

“There’s no place like home.” Dorothy, Wizard of Oz

featured image | @bedbathandbeyond

After fighting breast cancer I know for sure that home should be a soft place to fall. The space where you recharge your batteries. Where you heal, smile, laugh, cry, fall in love and gather with friends and family.

It doesn’t matter how big or small your home is or how much money you have, your living space should be a reflection of the good in your life.

What you put into your home will either enhance your life or take away from it. Whatever you choose, it will have a big impact on how you feel emotionally.

So many get caught up in decorating their lives based on the opinions of others. Based on magazines, advertisements and programming.

My desire is to encourage you to cultivate a life and a living space that brings you peace and happiness, based on your ideals, regardless of status or income.

In Real Fine Things you will find all of the lifestyle things I think are pretty great, at a variety of price points. If you have something you think should be featured here be sure to hit me up.

Remember, if you like what you see, share it! And please join me in social media at the top right corner of the screen.

Always, April


Joanna Gaines Partners With Bed Bath & Beyond


Chip and Joanna Gaines are hot ticket items for HGTV. The ‘Fixer Upper’ duo got T.V. famous (almost) overnight. With Joanna’s keen eye for renovation and home decor, it’s easy to see why.

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When asked what inspires me within my own home I always go back to the same thing. There was a place and time when less was more. People didn’t over crowd their spaces and their homes were functional and practical. They worked hard on the land and their home served as a place of rest to prepare them for another hard day of working the fields. Call me old fashioned but I am truly inspired by this way of living. –Joanna, blog post Magnolia Market Dot Com

Fixer Upper wouldn’t be the same without Joanna’s husband, Chip. He’s the physical muscle and artist that helps bring Joanna’s visions to fruition.

From demolition to renovation and real estate, Chip does it all. In the fall, this hands-on dad of four, will be releasing a book titled Capital Gaines Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff .

“I’ve done so many dumb things in my day that I had enough material to write a book… so I did!” Chips says on Instagram.

The two are really making good use of their success. Joanna has recently partnered with Bed, Bath and Beyond to bring us rugs, pillows and throws, designed by her.

I was so excited to hear this news! I love Joanna’s sense of style.

Despite the rumors about Joanna leaving Fixer Upper and releasing a new cosmetic line Joanna had this to say in a blog post,  “Just in case you were wondering, YES! We are currently filming season 5 of the show. No! I am not getting into the business of facial creams. And No! We are not expecting baby #5. And no worries, believing some of these stories happens to the best of us. In summary, don’t buy the facial cream, friends.”

You can check out her new line here. Or, if you live in Chelsea, New York, it’s rumored that a Bed Bath & Beyond there is selling the items in-store. You can also buy home decor items directly online at Magnolia Market.


Some of my Favorite Magnolia Market Finds


Hanging Metal Planters
Vintage inspired Hanging Metal Planters are perfect indoors or outdoors. Hang them individually or pair them together to add an industrial farmhouse feel to your space.  |Image provided by Magnolia Market |
White Ellis Tower
This White Ellis Tower is a two tiered stand that is great for entertaining. Place hors d’oeuvres or desserts on it at your next gathering. | Image provided by Magnolia Market |
Matilda Jane Kids Apron
I LOVE Aprons! This Matilda Jane Apron comes in two sizes, one for kids and the other for adults. The apron’s two pockets make it great for play or functional use. 
The Matilda Jane Apron was designed by Joanna Gaines and was inspired by her daughters. |Image provided by Magnolia Market |

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Ripped From the Pages: Oprah’s Sorbet

With the release of her cookbook, Food, Health and Happiness, Oprah Winfrey really can say she’s done it all.

There’s no denying Oprah knows a thing or two about good living. Not just because she’s one of the richest people on the planet, although that certainly helps!

But because her fame and fortune has afforded her the opportunity to be in the company of some of the most talented chefs, designers and health aficionados.

People we aren’t typically exposed to. The same people who helped Oprah create her own home, life and dinner party menus.

Oprah’s appreciation of good food and good living combined with the knowledge she’s acquired from her talented friends and employees will influence everything she does pertaining to lifestyle.

When Oprah shares I listen, borrow and apply when and where I can.

For example, those sorbet recipes you see above. I assure you those sorbets taste just as delicious as they look in that pretty little picture. Likely due to the tips Oprah’s received from her famed chefs.

I prefer a sorbet over ice cream. I never liked the way my mouth or my body feels after eating whole milk ice cream. It turns out I am lactose intolerant, though, I didn’t know this until I was an adult.

After attending a health presentation a few years ago I was inspired to try my hand at making sorbets and shakes. They were delicious.

Even my husband, a die-hard chocolate and sugar lover, agreed the homemade desserts are competitive to the store bought products he was used to eating.

Knowing it was healthier was an added bonus. He said there was no sugar crash either. I think sorbets are a delicious healthy alternative to store bought anything.

Even better is that I know what goes into my food. I’ll share some of my own recipes with you down the road. But for now, I think Oprah’s sorbet is ‘peachy-keen,’ as they said in the fifties.

If you have kids this would be something fun to try with them, too. Let me know if you try the sorbets. I want to hear what you think. And don’t forget to share this if you like what you read here!

What’s your favorite summer treat?

Enjoy! April


Oprah’s Ginger Peach Sorbet


Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chopped ripe peaches (about 6 medium)
  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. pickled ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • ¼ cup water
  • Directions

  • Cook time: 2 hoursCombine all the ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a container and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours. Pour into an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Smart Points: 1 per serving
    Calories: 77 per serving
    Read more: http://www.oprah.com/food/oprahs-ginger-peach-sorbet-recipe#ixzz4mdkJYtLh

Speaking of Food


I do believe Martha Stewart finally has some real competition. The Kraft Heinz Company and Oprah Winfrey recently announced the debut of O, That’s Good!, a line of four flavorful soups and four savory sides that bring a nutritious twist on comfort food classics to everyone’s table.

The twist includes healthy substitutions like replacing some of the potato in their Original Mashed Potatoes dish with mashed cauliflower. In their Broccoli Cheddar Soup they’ve replaced some of the cheese with velvety butternut squash – increasing the number of veggies while keeping all of the rich flavor in every bite.

“I love healthy foods and eating from my garden,” said Winfrey. “When Kraft Heinz approached me for a food line, what got my attention is making nutritious comfort foods more accessible to everyone. This product line is real, delicious food with a twist. You’ll feel good about serving it for your family.”

The O, That’s Good! Soups will retail for $4.99 and the sides will go for $4.49. You can expect to find the new line in the refrigerated section in select grocery stores and will be available nationwide in October 2017.

For more information on O, That’s Good! Soups and Sides, please visit http://www.Othatsgood.com.

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I’m Still Here…

Never underestimate the value of an ordinary day-April

August 1, 2017–Hello, friends. It’s hard to believe it’s August already. I can hear Target tearing down the summer display ads and replacing the swim suits and beach totes with sweaters, backpacks and back-to-school bargains.

Meanwhile, we’re still dealing with the heat and humidity. You may have noticed I’ve been M.I.A. That’s not by design.

At the end of June I caught what I thought was a flu bug; fever, aches, pains, low appetite–you know the drill. I stayed in bed, made soup and expected it to flee in about a week or so.

That’s not what happen. It turns out I probably had something a little more serious than the typical flu. Something like the influenza virus.

My doctors are unable to confirm this considering I waited too long to be seen. In fact, the reason I went it at all was because my asthma was out of control and I couldn’t digest anything. (You’ll hear more about that in future posts).

As you may recall, I’m also a cancer and chemo survivor. This means my body is somewhat weak to begin with. It’s been rough around here, lately.

I think I’m on the mend now, but, I’m afraid to get too excited about anything until I know for sure.

For now, I continue to nurture my body and hope to be back soon (hopefully end of week). Until then, may this find you having a good summer wherever you are.

Always, April

Breast Healthcare Apps, Movies, Olivia Newton-John and Flashback Friday

It’s Friday June 16, 2017–Olivia Newton-John recently announced that after living cancer-free for 25 years, cancer has returned and it has metastasized. In case you don’t know, metastasized means that cancer has spread from one place of the body to another.

As a breast cancer survivor, her ‘news’ made me cringe. It’s a reminder that cancer can happen to anyone at anytime. Even worse; it can happen more than once. My thoughts and prayers go out to her and her family as she faces another battle with the criminal-like disease.

The three K’s. Know your body. Know your risks. Know the facts. Get regular checkups. Do regular self-exams. If you have daughters, teach them how to do breast self exams. Encourage them to become familiar with their bodies so they can quickly identify if something changes. As Fran Drescher says “Early arrival, 90 percent survival.” The youngest breast cancer survivor I met was 19. Cancer does not discriminate.

We’ve come along way. We now have apps to help make it easier to remember to do a self-breast exam, and to help you teach your daughters or younger sisters how to do one. I’ve tried a few of them but it comes down to preference. Some of these apps are aimed at the younger selfie generation making it more eye catching for them.

Breast Check Now  Check Yourself    Your Man Reminder


Movie Reviews


It is Friday, after all! For me, the best way to kick off the weekend is with dinner, a movie and my man. I don’t wanna fight crowds (or the angry and violent) just to see a movie. The bonus is that I can eat all of the popcorn I want without paying the high price of theater popcorn, and I can go the bathroom without missing a beat.

Some of my recommendations may be a littler older. But still, if you haven’t seem them they’re worth watching.

Jackie
Netflix is my go-to for movies and TV shows @netflix IG

Jackie: Don’t underestimate this one. You might be inclined to think that this is just another Kennedy movie. But it’s not! Natalie Portman does an AMAZING job at portraying Jackie Kennedy. The film is one of a kind in that it takes us backstage and into the life of the wife, the woman, the widow and the Lady of the White House. No sex. No contrived drama. I do not recommend this movie for children. We see a lot of blood and grief, although, the movie is not gruesome.

 

 

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: I totally underestimated this one! Great movie for the whole family. One scene implied supernatural abilities featuring Darth Vader, in case that’s something you’re concerned about.

It was very reminiscent of the original Star Wars. Loved, loved, loved seeing older characters in this film. This goes on the repeat watch list for sure.

 

 


Flashback Friday


In support of Olivia Newton-John (and just because it’s a fun one)!

 

 

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Flashback Friday: Girl Power

It’s Friday! Let’s dance our way into the weekend with Melanie Chisholm, Victoria Beckham, Geri Halliwell, Melanie Brown, and Emma Bunton AKA The Spice Girls!

 

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To Joey With Love

Warning: You’re going to need some tissue. This is not your average Cinderella story. But, it is a story about love. Life. Success. Beauty. And, the unthinkable.

I remember the first time I saw the husband-and-wife singing duo Joey+Rory. It was on a show called Can You Duet. They were an interesting and talented pair.

Their career catapulted after their appearance on that show. I remember feeling happy for them. They seemed so down to earth. Those are the kind of people I enjoy seeing succeed.

But then, the duo took a step back indicating they “wanted more to life.” They were expecting a baby so they chose less. In preparation for the birth of their child, the couple simplified their lives by putting their music career on hold and staying at home, planting roots deep in the soil of their small farm, and the community they loved.

They believed God would give them a great story. Despite pain and loss they say..He did. As a breast cancer survivor I don’t know if I’ll be able to watch this in full. But, I have followed the story and I have seen bits and pieces. I am sharing it with you because I think it’s beautifully done. Let me know what you think if you watch it.

Always, April


CMT will host the broadcast premiere of To Joey, With Love on Wednesday, June 21 at 8/7c. The documentary is the incredible true love story of Joey and Rory Feek (Joey+Rory) and was filmed by the couple over two and a half years.

To Joey, With Love also takes viewers from the birth of their daughter Indiana, born with Down Syndrome, through Joey’s struggle with and ultimate surrender to cancer — all amidst their never-ending hope in something far greater.

 

 

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What’s Inside Your Breast Implant?

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), of the 1.7 million cosmetic surgical procedures performed in 2015, breast augmentation was among the top 5. I would think it’s closer to the number one spot, but that’s just my opinion.

 

It doesn’t matter whether you’re planning for breast reconstruction or you’re considering augmentation, I think you’ll find this video helpful.

“Traditionally, most breast implants had a silicone shell filled with liquid silicone. Newer, shaped implants have a silicone shell with cohesive gel silicone inside. The benefit of the shaped silicone is that these implants do not leak like traditional implants. Here we are cutting an implant in half to show you what is inside. Nothing leaks out!” Dr. Leif Rogers, MD, FACS

 

View this post on Instagram

Traditionally, most breast implants had a silicone shell filled with liquid silicone. Newer, shaped implants have a silicone shell with cohesive gel silicone inside. The benefit of the shaped silicone is that these implants do not leak like traditional implants. Here we are cutting an implant in half to show you what is inside. Nothing leaks out! ⠀ 👤Facebook: Leif Rogers, MD 👻Snapchat: @LeifRogersMD 🐦Twitter: @LeifRogersMD 📺YouTube: Leif Rogers, MD ⠀ 🏢310-860-8915⠀ ⠀ ⠀ Check out our non-surgical aesthetic account @privetaesthetics for even more videos! ⠀ #LeifRogersMD #LRMD #breast #implant #breastimplant #cup #size #shape #body #chest #perfection #silicone #atheltic #aesthetics #cosmetics #plasticsurgeon #plasticsurgery #BeverlyHills #Pasadena #LA #LosAngeles #California

A post shared by Leif Rogers, MD, FACS (@leifrogersmd) on

 

While I was planning for breast reconstruction I couldn’t get any doctor to show me the inside of an implant. In fact, in most cases, doctors didn’t even have the right sample for me to see or touch before making a selection.

*I’ve never met with Dr. Rogers. This is not an endorsement. Please do your own research prior to selecting a surgeon.*

 

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Weekend Mom Moments

Quick note: My apologies dear friends for any issues you experienced viewing this post. It’s fixed! Enjoy, and thanks for your patience.

Always, April

Over the weekend families everywhere gathered together to celebrate their moms. Here are just a few of my favorite publicly shared moments.

Hoda Kotb posted this heartwarming, new mama moment.

Natalie Morales from the Today Show.

In true mama fashion SJP posted a video of this with the caption “The sound of practice, music to my ears.”

Joanna Gaines of the hit T.V. show “Fixer Upper” posted this cool flashback.

Kate Hudson is notorious for writing the most touching Instagram posts. She’s usually all heart. This year she kept it simple.

One of my favorite country singers also a stepmom.

Be sure to follow these beautiful moms for more.

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‘Nasty Woman’ Teen Shines at Women’s March Washington 

 

Nina Donovan is a courageous 19-year-old college student who used her talent as a spoken-word artist (think Hamilton) to rise up against the modern-day Goliath: politicians threatening to trample on equality in America.

Continue reading “‘Nasty Woman’ Teen Shines at Women’s March Washington “

Ashley Judd Breaks Down ‘Nasty Woman’ at Women’s March in D.C.

Ashley Judd takes the stage by storm at the Women’s March in D.C. delivering a powerful poem written by 19-year-old, Nina Donovan.  Some (men) have already classified it as a “psycho rant” proving Nina’s point.

Coffee-Mate Dignifies Women Coping With Hair Loss

https://www.ispot.tv/share/Ahoz

The One Self-Care Practice You Can Do Anytime, Anywhere

stressed-woman

Hello, friends. As I write this, president-elect Trump is taking his seat as the official leader of our country. While some are celebrating his victory, others are struggling with fear, anxiety and uncertainty.

I worry about what will come next. I struggle with anxiety and insomnia. I avoid the news or any conversation surrounding politics, because it makes me feel stressed. My fear is war. Everyone talks a good game, but our generation has no idea what war would look like for us. -Emily

Whether or not you share the same sentiment as Emily, there’s no denying this presidential switch, the political discord among Americans and the fear of violence and terrorism can add to the day-to-day anxieties we already face.

Did you know? Anxiety disorders affect 40 million Americans over the age of 18, and cost the U.S. 42 billion dollars a year.

While you probably agree that managing and minimizing stress is important to good health; demanding schedules, tight budgets and the daily grind can make it difficult to find downtime–especially for women. The mere mention of the word ‘downtime’ may strike a negative chord in some of you.

I hear you! But like so many other women, I too, used to juggle it all. I was working, pursuing, cleaning, and catering to everyone else. I never had enough time for me. Then…I was diagnosed with breast cancer. That’s a brick wall no one wants to hit.

It is with confidence I say continual exposure to stress and anxiety has a profound impact on the body. It can lead to a laundry list of health problems including disease. So while the whole brick wall had to fall down on me, the lesson I learned is that there is more to good health than eating the right foods and/or exercising.

Being in good health includes maintaining a good state of mind. It’s learning to process negative emotions. I believe taking what I term ‘mental health breaks’ throughout the day can contribute to overall good health and maybe even stave off illness. While disease can happen for a variety of reasons, I am of the opinion you can stack the odds in your favor by taking care of the whole body including mind and thoughts.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have all of the answers. I am, like you, a work in progress. I’m still learning some things as I go. That’s how I came up with the following mental health exercise.

Health challenges and setbacks have, at times, limited my ability to even leave the house. I had to get creative. The following self-care practice is something I designed to be used anytime, anywhere. Try it out. I think after the first couple of times you’ll identify the benefits (and your friends and family might too).

Change the things you can, accept the things you can’t

  1. Take 5 minute breaks. Keep it short and sweet. This minimizes guilt and makes it easier to create consistency. You may think five minutes isn’t enough, but it’s just enough to make a difference in your personality and attitude. You can  always add more time to the clock later, but trust me on this, start out slow.
  2. Do what makes you feel good. Everyone pushes meditation to quiet the mind. If that’s what works for you then by all means, have at it! But there are no rules to downtime. There is no one size fits all when it comes to stress management. If reading a bible verse calms your brain, then do that. Consider taking a short walk down the street and back. Sit on the porch. Watch something that makes you laugh. Dance. Sing out loud. Read. Close your eyes. This is your five minutes to just breathe and release tension. 
  3. Schedule your timeout. Set a reminder on your phone or write it on a post it note and stick it on the refrigerator. But in the words of Nike, just do it!

 

 

 

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Image sourced at Pexels

Letter From April: Making a Change

<a href=”http://Follow my blog with Bloglovin” target=”_blank”>YOU CAN FIND ME ON BLOGLOVIN’ TOO

Hello friends, readers and fellow bloggers. This is a quick note to let you I’m making some changes starting with the name of my blog. After careful consideration and testing I decided to change my title from Imperfect Living to The Lifestyle Brief.

The new address will be; THE LIFESTYLE BRIEF DOT COM. Though, you’ll be able to find me with either name.

I continue to own the Imperfect Living name and plan to use it in another venture. But for now, I’m very happy and excited about this change. I think you’ll find the Site improved. You will continue to find the Imperfect Living theme, here. So…I’m not going anywhere in terms of that.

I hope you’ll continue to be a friend and follower as I grow up right before your eyes. Thank you so much for supporting me.

Wishing you happiness, balance and acceptance

Imperfect April

A Lipstick Love Story 

THAT lipstick in the photo is my favorite lipstick-ever!
For as long as I can remember I’ve had a drawer full of lipsticks that I can’t wear because while they look pretty in the store, they don’t look so pretty on me.

After my breast cancer battle I promised myself I would clean up my life in multiple ways including; getting rid of the stuff that I didn’t need and the stuff that didn’t work.

So why is this lipstick my favorite?-Because I have dry, sensitive and flaky skin and lips. Chemotherapy medications have wreaked havoc on my skin and body. Additionally, It catapulted me into early onset menopause which can cause dryness and irritation on it’s own.

So my lips were a mess. It was embarrassing. They were always peeling and bleeding. It felt like I had one of those dry white lines around my mouth all of the time. I felt so self-conscious.

Desperately seeking a solution I spent a lot of money buying one brand after another. Good brands claiming to eliminate my symptoms but none of them worked for me.

But then a girlfriend told me about Root Pretty. I had seen them on Instagram but since they don’t allow returns I was skeptical. I already had a drawer full of lipsticks and moisturizers that I could’t use, I didn’t want to add to that so I moved on.

But then my friend told me I could order samples and that the Root Pretty balm was so affordable and worked so well that she would buy it from me if I didn’t like it. Coming from her, that was a surprise. We’re talking about a girl who doesn’t even like to use mousse or hot irons.

So I caved. I started out with their Pretty Balms and it was love at first use. I’m so glad my friend insisted I try this product. My lips are in the best shape they have been in years.

After trying a couple of samples, I recently purchased the lipstick you see above in the color Kate. It is the perfect day-to-day or day-to-evening fall color. The biggest bonus for me is that enhances the skin of my lips.

I even wear it when I go to bed. Crazy, maybe. But I’m good with it!

The best compliment I recently got was when my husband kissed me on the lips and then pointed out that  my lips were so soft. As someone who is finding her way back to sexy, that was such an empowering and flattering moment. I highly recommend this product. And in case you’re wondering, I haven’t received compensation on any level for sharing this product with you.

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Healthier Beauty Gift Guide

Hey, everybody! Welcome to my list of favorite beauty products. Whether you’re shopping for yourself or checking off your gift buying list, I know you’ll find something here that you’ll love as much as I do

These gifts are perfect for everyone. But, I especially like them for women in the midst of a change. This includes; the cancer survivor, the menopausal woman, the pregnant woman and the young teen. Young girls are just women in training so why not start them off right.

What we put on our bodies shouldn’t just change the outside but should have an impact on the inside as well. All of these products make me feel like I’m doing something luxurious for myself. May you have the same experience. What’s your favorite healthy buys? hugs.

Note; hover and click on the red words to go directly to the website.

  1. best lip balm and lipstick you’ll ever find rootpretty.com $8-$16.
  2. even Alicia Silverstone loves this shampoo and conditioner dessertessence.com $7-10. You can also buy this direct at Whole Foods and Sprouts.
  3. not ready to make the swap cold turkey, ease into it with this luxurious shampoo and conditioner fresh.com $27 nordstrom $27.
  4. my favorite chemical free deodorant schmidtsdeodorant.com $8.99.
  5. purelygreat cream deodorant has a great rating with both the Environmental Working Group and the consumers  mynaturaldeodorant.com $12.99.
  6. my favorite CC cream juicebeauty.com $39.
  7. this stem cellular cleansing oil is great for dehydrated skin. juicebeauty.com $39.
  8. this cleansing milk is great for dryer skin.  juicebeauty.com and Ulta stores $22.
  9. root pretty perfecting serum is a skin saver. Great for hands, toes and cuticles, this stuff will help you to love your skin again rootpretty.com comes in 2 sizes; $18-$63.
  10. best face primer. two kinds; one for the teen and one for the mature. 100percentpure.com 2 types; $35 and $45.

 

Image sourced; Pexel