Naturally BeYOUtiful!

Naturally BeYOUtiful!

The Christmas season usually involves some family celebrations with relatives we may not have seen in a while, dinner dates with dear friends, and parties with work associates.  While we all usually want to look our best at these social functions…I’ve found as I get older that enhancing our God-given attributes, along with a happy smile, is the best way to be truly beautiful!

Naturally BeYoutiful!

“Beauty might bring happiness…..but happiness always brings beauty!     Tribute Journal

According to an article published by the Organization of Health Guidance For Better Health, a woman’s true beauty is an abstract term that is hard to define, and is usually a matter of opinion and very much in the eye of the beholder.  But I think you’ll agree, that being genuine in our efforts to be who we really are while working to improve imperfections and flaws, not only in how we look, but in how we behave, ensures that our authentic beauty will ultimately shine through!

A Tale: “Becoming The Best Version Of Ourselves!”

Once upon a time, there was a girl with freckles sprinkled across her nose and coarse, wavy hair during an era when creamy skin and silky, smooth hair were the accepted standard for defining true beauty.  Fortunately for this young gal, she had parents who were exceptional in their ability to help her gain a healthy balance in her view of achieving beauty in all its many aspects, helping her to focus her efforts on continually working to become the best version of herself…inside and out.


As this girl got older…I also realized that surrounding myself with genuine friends and good style mentors, (often these people are one in the same) was perhaps one of my best beauty tricks!

The Best Beauty Tricks!

When time seems to be our most precious commodity…can we really afford to take the time to do the things that help us put our best foot forward, so to speak?  Well, as luck would have it, a few years ago, when I was in desperate need of a new hair stylist, I crossed paths with the ever talented, beauty magician extraordinaire, Rachel Wheeler, from Lox Studio Salon, and she helped me realize, once and for all, that the resounding answer to this question is, “YES!”  Adopting a simple routine to help us look good and feel better about ourselves and exude more confidence in a world that is sometimes happy to beat us down a bit, is always worthwhile.

For this holiday post, I asked Rachel, a natural beauty in her own right, to offer a few tricks of her trade, including some beauty products she recommends that will help inspire us to be more dedicated to a personal care routine.

Rachel Wheeler at Lox Studio Salon.

Rachel practices what she preaches and accentuates her beautiful eyes and bright smile, not to mention her gorgeous hair, with just a light application of some of her favorite beauty products.  She is truly is a credit to her profession!

•  Hair Care and Color:

Almost as important as our clothing fashion, our hair style seems to be just as vital when trying to convey our true selves; when we have a good hair day…all seems right with the world!  Fundamental to good hair care is a good trim (and for me a lot of texturizing to help my thick, unruly hair style easier) and finding products that are formulated to care for specific hair types is integral!  Rachel told me that if styling products didn’t exist, then she would insist on always having Lanza Trauma Treatment Conditioner in her hair care arsenal.

Lanza Trauma Coonditioner

“This conditioner will whip your hair back into shape if you haven’t washed it in a few days; you can use it as a regular conditioner after shampooing, or as a leave-in conditioner if your hair is in need of some extra TLC!  It smells great too…and who isn’t a sucker for a good smelling hair product!”Kenra Blow Dry SprayRachel says Kenra Blow Dry Spray deserves a special hair care product reward!  This spray conditions, detangles and protects your hair from heat exposure.  It seems to have unique memory powers as well, that help keep hair looking good all day.  Shake the bottle well and spray generously on towel dried hair then brush with a wet brush to help spread the product down the hair shaft.

Hair styles for special events.

(via Rachel Wheeler)

While you may not want to make any drastic changes to your current hair style during the holidays, a fancy up-do for a special event could be fun; and if your stylist is as creative as Rachel…you’re sure to feel festive and beautiful!    

When it comes to color…Rachel told me when she first started doing my hair, that unless you are going out on a limb and doing some exotic hair color, (which is definitely the trend now) her recommendation to clients is to color hair a shade or two lighter or darker than their natural eyebrow color.  As women age, she suggests going a little lighter than their natural hair color, adding some warm highlights to help brighten skin tones.  Rachel also let me know that I only needed to do a full color treatment on my hair about every 3 months or so, touching up the root growth in between.  Following this regimen is more gentle on your hair and dries it out less, but as mentioned above, conditioning your hair regularly after any treatment is always key to keeping it healthy.

Healthy hair is your crowning glory!

(via Rachel Wheeler)

“Healthy hair is literally your crowning glory!”  Andreas Stavrou Hairstylist

(*One quick word about drug store box color kits…did you know that your hair stylist’s are educated to be master mad scientists of sorts, in that they have extensive training on how certain chemicals react with your specific hair type and how to blend a variety of professional products to create a perfect mixture that is specific for your unique hair color?  Rachel advises that if you plan on never having your hair colored professionally that you’re probably fine using box color, but if you do want to have your hair done at a salon, then it’s best to stay away from over-the-counter products, because there are so many unknown chemicals added to them that make it extremely difficult and expensive to lift this kind of color from your hair before a professional one can be applied.  Over time, these products can also leave your hair dry, damaged and dull.)  

•  Beautiful Skin:

If I ever did stumble upon the fountain of youth…discovering the secrets of maintaining youthful skin (minus the break-outs!?!) would be my number one priority!  We put high expectation on skin care products, so you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to learn that many of Rachel’s favorite skin care and make-up picks are inexpensive brands, with some coming from her favorite local drug stores!  (A girl after my own heart!)

Norwex facial cloth.

While Rachel doesn’t usually go for multi-level marketing products, she says the Norwex Microfiber Wash Cloth is a good one, especially since many of the make-up removal towelettes on the market, no matter how gentle they claim to be, can be irritating to your eyes.  Rachel rinses her cloth in hot water to wash her face and remove make-up too.  According to the company, the cloths are naturally made and contain antimicrobial silver that when moistened activates a self-purifying process that stops bacteria, mold and fungi from forming.

Kiehl's ultra facial cream.

Rachel recommends Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream to moisturize skin in the morning before applying make-up and again in the evening as a night cream.  Although it’s often considered a splurge item, a 4 oz. jar is under $50 at Nordstrom’s, but you only apply a thin coat, so this seems like a good buy.  Rachel says it also serves as a great foundation primer too.  I just like that it isn’t greasy.  

Aquaphor healing oinment.

I chuckled when I saw Aquaphor Healing Ointment on Rachel’s skin care list, little did she know that it’s sort of a trade secret among nurses who use it on newborn babies and other patients who have dry, rashy skin.  It also provides intensive treatment for chappy lips and skin during the cold, winter months.

•  Best Brows and Lashes:

Care and maintenance of eyebrows and lashes has definitely taken a more prominent spot in most women’s daily care routine.  Besides being an amazing hair stylist, Rachel does lash extensions in her salon, and while I’ve never had mine done, I can vouch for the fact that her work just adds to the natural beauty of each client–a sure sign of an insightful artisan!

Brow care products.

Although she used to have her brows waxed, Rachel decided she prefers to have control of the shape and care of her brows, so she uses the Touch’N Brow razors by Sally Hansen.  Rachel says these also work great for getting rid of unwanted facial peach fuzz.  You might need to have your stylist help you learn how to use these.  You can see a YouTube demo here.  Once your brows are trimmed and shaped, Rachel likes using the Anastasia Brow Wiz Pencil to fill them in.

Cover Girl mascara.

If there is any one product that women seem to feel the most passionate about, it is finding the perfect mascara that gives volume and lengthens their eyelashes.  Some days a few coats of mascara and some lip gloss is all the make-up I wear.  As already mentioned, Rachel does eyelash extensions, but she told me that she’s not a huge advocate for having them for everyday life; if you have a big event or vacation coming up, then go for it, otherwise, just find some great products that accentuate your natural lashes.  Rachel has found that using RevitaLash to help lengthen and strengthen your own eyelashes is well worth the investment, and her very favorite go-to mascara brand for long, think lashes is Cover Girl Lash Blast…I love it too.  Other top mascara contenders that get my vote are Loreal Voluminous, Clinique High Impact, and the classic Maybelline Great Lash.

•  When Outer Beauty Meets Inner Beauty: 

I don’t think we should ever apologize or feel guilty for wanting to take care of ourselves.  I once heard it said that we should try and see our physical attributes the same way we would those of a child or beloved friend–with appreciation and acceptance, not criticism.  I hope we can all better understand that everyone is unique and we each have something to bring to the world; when we can walk out the door and feel beautiful and confident, I believe we will be less superficial and tap into our best beauty…the kind that is ignited in our hearts where we are thoughtful in our words, kind in our thoughts, and considerate in our actions.

Naturally beautiful!

I hope everyone has a beautiful holiday season!

I’d love to know of any fun beauty tips or tricks you use that you’d be willing to share with us here. 


A Little TLC For Our Smiles!

A Little TLC For Our Smiles!

No doubt about it, our smiles are one of our most cherished assets, and since I’ve recently devoured a substantial portion of bite-sized Halloween candy, it seemed like a good time to offer a few reminders on how to take good care of those smiles from one of my favorite dentist’s…my son, Dr. Jake Wilding DDS!

A Little TLC For Your Teeth!

“They sure are handy when you smile…so keep your teeth around for a while!”  Dr. Suess

Tips for good smile care.

A healthy smile is achieved by using a variety of methods to help create and maintain the appearance and integrity of those pearly whites!

◊  Knowledge is power:

Jake was always a “cause and effect” kind of kid…he also loved learning  how the various functions of the body were interrelated in his physiology and anatomy labs while doing his undergraduate studies, so it’s apropos that he would give me a brief overview of what dental decay is exactly!

Tooth decay, also known as dental caries, results from the action of bacteria that live in plague, which is a sticky, white film formed by  a protein in saliva and sugary substances in the mouth.  Tooth decay takes place when the acid from plague bacteria and sugar attach to a vulnerable tooth surface that is not given proper care.

Did you know that tooth decay has become such a critical problem, that according to the American Dental Association, it is second in prevalence, after the common cold only, of health issues that affect our overall well-being.

◊  An ounce of prevention:

I suspect that if we had unwanted bacteria growing in any other part of our body and were told that we could prevent it (or at the very least, slow growth down) by brushing the area twice a day, along with regular check-ups by our doctor, we wouldn’t even hesitate to do it!  As a nurse, I’m always aware that it’s easier and less expensive to prevent health problems than treat them later on down the road.  Being mindful of our bodies, including taking time for good oral hygiene, is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  Like any other daily routine that promotes wellness, a little tender loving care for our smiles is a crucial component.  I like the four simple strategies to prevent tooth decay and preserve healthy teeth that Jake outlined.

1. The best way to prevent tooth decay is obviously to brush our teeth at least twice a day, preferably after every meal and floss daily.  Effective brushing cleans the outer tooth grooves and spaces between the teeth as well as the tongue.  Flossing once a day also helps prevent gum disease, known as gingivitis, by removing food and plaque at and below the gum line, as well as between the teeth.  We should visit our dentist every six months for a thorough oral exam and professional cleaning.

Using an electric toothbrush will certainly amp up our oral care and a water pick is a great choice if we have a hard time flossing or have deep pockets along our gum line, but good old-fashioned brushing and flossing are always the “go-to” care options.

Brush your teeth quote

Like most dentists, Jake suggests that we brush our teeth in a circular motion with a soft/medium bristle toothbrush for at least two minutes to allow time for the fluoride in the toothpaste to infiltrate completely into the tooth enamel.  We can make it fun by humming a favorite song or brushing during an advertisement segment of a TV show we’re watching.  Only use fluoride with someone who can rinse and spit.  Babies can’t spit and often just swallow what’s put into their mouths, and that can cause their stomachs to become upset and may lead to fluoride spots forming on developing tooth buds.  (Jake likes a toothpaste called MI paste.  You can read about it here.)

2.  The use of products containing fluoride and calcium phosphate helps to make your tooth enamel become more resilient to demineralization caused by food and bacteria in plaque.  Toothpastes, mouthwashes, vitamin supplements and fluoridated public drinking water are all possible sources of fluoride.  Put in simple terms, fluoride chemically binds with a natural mineral (hydroxyapatite) in our tooth enamel and helps strengthen them so they can better withstand decay and erosion.  Calcium phosphate helps to remineralize the lost calcium in weakened teeth.

A Little TLC For Yor Smile!

“Wake up, put on your prettiest smile and love today!”  Daily Dental Humor

Speaking of fluoride, the debate about the addition of fluoride into public water is always ongoing…but nearly all public health, medical and dental organizations record a significant reduction in dental disease when fluoride is properly added (0.7 mg of fluoride per liter of water) to community water.  Because of its contribution to the large decline in cavities in the United States since 1960, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) named water fluoridation one of the 10 great public achievements of the 20th century!

3.  While fluoride, along with thorough brushing and flossing, proves to be most beneficial on the smooth surfaces of teeth, sealants should be considered to help protect the irregular chewing surfaces.  A sealant is a clear, flowable resin that is painted on the grooves of the back molars that quickly bonds into the depressions of a tooth, protecting it against dental caries and plaque.  Sealants cost less than fillings and can last up to 10 years.  It is usually recommended that sealants be applied to premolars and molars of children and teenagers between the ages of 7 and 14 within the first few years after eruption.

Dental sealant.

(Sealant via World Dental Clinic)

Sealants often reduce the risk of tooth decay by as much as 80% in molars.  I had sealants applied to my children’s teeth when they were young, and even now as adults, they have had very few cavities.

4.  Eating a nutritious diet, not only helps us maintain a healthy weight, it’s integral in preventing tooth decay.  It goes without saying that a variety of foods from each food group, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, protein and low-fat dairy products, with a limited amount of refined sugars and processed carbohydrates is best when it comes to maintaining good oral health; when we eat is an important factor to consider as well, since foods eaten with a meal cause less harm to teeth than snacking throughout the day, since more saliva is released during a meal–and saliva helps wash foods from the mouth and lessens the effects of acids that cause tooth decay.  Most dental care providers also agree that babies not be put to bed with anything in their bottle except water to prevent early onset tooth decay.  A healthy lifestyle simply require us to be aware of our habits and establish a better routine when necessary.

A Little TLC For Your Smile!

I know what you’re thinking…easier said than done–right?  I like the motto my father lived by, “Moderation in all things!”  It’s worth taking the extra effort though, if we can feel good and have more time and money to enjoy ourselves rather than being sick and having to pay extra in medical and dental costs.

◊  A good investment: 

Did you know that the condition of our teeth and gums can often offer clues to other more serious systemic problems regarding our general health, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, sinus infections and arthritis, to name a few.  Because of these potential links, it is important that we tell our dentist’s if we’re taking any new medications or have had any major changes in our overall well-being.  It’s been said that if our eyes are the window to our soul, our mouths are the window to our bodies.  As you can see, giving our smiles a little TLC is a good investment that always proves to have huge dividends!

Smile quote.

When I asked Jake if there was a treatment plan for my sweet tooth…he just laughed and said, “Yes…..self control!”   Ugh!!  He also gave me a few suggestions to help make a visit to the dentist more enjoyable.  Always visit with your dentist and be informed about the procedures that are recommended.  If treatment requires a shot, (anesthesia) try taking a deep breath and keeping your eyes opened and fixed on a focal point.  Know that it will be over in a few seconds, then the numbing sets in.  Communicate with your dental team.  If you are feeling anything uncomfortable, raise a hand and let them know.  Perhaps more medicine needs to be administered, a bite prop adjusted or more suction provided.  Ask to see the tooth before and after the procedure–often seeing the improvement makes any discomfort experienced seem more worthwhile!          

I’m so blessed to be surrounded by lovely people in my life who always make me smile…sometimes even when I don’t feel like it!

One last thing, since Monday is Veteran’s Day, I want to express how blessed and thankful I feel for all those who have served and those who still work hard to preserve our freedoms in this wonderful land of America!

Army Proud!

Jake obtained his professional degree with a military scholarship and has served as a dentist for the army for the past 4 years.  He and his cute family recently moved to Augusta, Georgia, where he will study prosthodontics.

I’m curious…how do you make going to the dentist a good experience?  Any dental “tricks of the trade” that you swear by to keep your smile healthy? 

–All the best, Mary

Sunday Morning! Taking Time To Nurture Our Souls!

Sunday Morning!

Sunday morning always seems to have a special feeling…whether I’m attending church, going to work as a nurse in the NICU, or enjoying a leisure breakfast with my husband, I love the unique pace of a beautiful Sunday.  More than ever before, it has become a day to reflect and take the opportunity to truly be grateful for all the many blessings I enjoy.  My cute hubby, who is a news junkie of sorts, has also deemed it a good news day–a much-needed break from the grind of the regular work week and a day to nurture our souls so that we can be better fortified to live our best lives.  For some time now, we have recorded the CBS news show, “Sunday Morning” that used to be hosted by veteran TV journalist, Charles Osgood.  The unique stories shared on this wonderfully produced program, spotlight the innate goodness found in most people and their genuine desire to serve and uplift others.  After all–when it’s all said and done…isn’t that what life should really be about?

Sunday Morning! Nurturing Our Souls!

“Wishing you a happy Sunday!  Let’s do what makes our souls shine!”  Steve Hartman on “Sunday Morning”

Taking The Time To Nurture Our Souls!

In today’s society, we tend to have the need to constantly push ourselves to achieve and always show strength–and while these are admirable attributes in and of themselves, we run the risk of making life more about accomplishments and less about being loving and doing more of those things that bring us happiness.  If you’re feeling a bit stretched to your limits–you just might find that any given Sunday morning is the perfect time to be a little introspective and take a personal inventory of the things that nurture your soul and create more joy in your life.  My husband is a financial planner and makes the analogy on occasion, that if you don’t make regular deposits into your bank account of life, so to speak, there will come a time when you won’t have anything left to withdraw.  Wise insight!  How then, do we go about nurturing our souls so we can open our hearts and be more caring?

♥ Count Our Blessings

It’s sounds a bit cliché, but perhaps one of the best ways to find more contentment and joy in our lives is to really recognize what we have to be thankful for…whether you write these things down in a journal or just take time for a moment or two of thoughtful meditation, acknowledging our blessings seems like one of the best ways to nurture our souls!

Sunday morning! Taking Time To Nurture Our Souls!

Most anything from generic spiral notebooks to small pocket planners work well for jotting down some thankful thoughts, but if you’d like a special gratitude journal, Rifle Paper Co. has a good variety of unique ones!  

It goes without saying, that a personal thank-you is always the best way to express gratitude!

Showing gratitude.

My mom always used to say, “Gratitude unexpressed is not gratitude!”

♥  Unplug And Look Up!

I know this seems to be the “catch phrase” of this generation, but with the influx of information from all the technology readily available at our fingertips, it does seem that more often than not, our eyes are constantly looking down at our phones or they’re affixed on some other sort of screen.  As I’ve made a conscious effort to put my phone away during those times that I’m playing with my grandkids or out for the evening our with my husband, I can vouch for the fact that a big part of nurturing my soul has come from looking up and being truly present in the moment when spending time with family and friends.  In fact, I’ve even gone so far as to find excuses to plan special occasions with family and friends, where we get together and socialize the old-fashioned way with fun games, good food and lively conversation.

Nurturing our souls.

I think every family has a few favorite games that they love to play together, but if you want some great ideas for some hilarious and technology-free fun, then check out the “Unplug and Play” game book by Brad Berger!

♥  Create A Home Sweet Home!

I’m a firm believer that your home should be that comfortable safe haven from the outside world; the place you go to surround yourself with the people and things you love the most!  While I don’t necessarily adhere to overly strict rules when it comes to keeping a nice house, one of the first things I learned in nursing school is that a neat environment lends itself to our overall well-being!  The rhythm of a good weekend where equal parts of work and play are enjoyed, always serves to help me nurture my soul, especially when a little quiet introspection while relaxing at home on a lovely Sunday morning is included!

Home sweet home pillow.

“A Sunday well spent…brings a week of content!”  Old Proverb

♥  Strengthen Our Body And Minds! 

All too often, we prioritize everyone and everything else in our lives except for time to care for ourselves, leaving us feeling a bit exhausted and overwhelmed.  As a result, we find we’re living in a state of chronic stress without fully realizing it.  Living this way can take a huge toll on our physical health, as well as our mental state of mind.  Recognizing that our bodies and minds…and ultimately our spirits are all connected, gives us a powerful incentive to do better at including some regular physical exercise and mindful creativity to help us live a more balanced and vibrant life style.  Taking time to do these things helps us to have a sense of inner peace, which is key to nourishing our souls.  Creating simple routines to include a little self-care is obviously a very individualized process, but taking care of ourselves is integral to being more fully present for others.

Nourishing our souls quote.

“A happy life is manifested in a more balanced union of the body, mind and soul.”  Tribute Journal

♥  Love More Fully!

Ultimately, when it comes to nourishing our souls, I think you’ll agree, that loving with a generous heart is what seems to matter most.  In her article, “Rx For The Soul” psychologist, Dr. Judith Rich, states that “the soul is here to learn to love it all, even and perhaps especially, those things the ego thinks are unlovable.”  Maybe by loving the unlovable parts of ourselves and others, we’ll see the good and decent parts of one another more clearly and our souls will find peace and a greater acceptance of people from all walks of life!

Nuturing our souls.

“At the end of our life, our questions are simple:  Did I live well?  Did I love fully?”  Jack Kornfield

As I close this post, I want to share a good news story by TV journalist, Steve Hartman, on a recent “Sunday Morning” episode.

Happy Sunday…and best blessings to everyone!

Sunday blessings

“Do not face the day until you have faced God in prayer!”  Bible Quotes

Now it’s your turn…what do you do to nourish your soul?

–Much love, Mary