Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bonnie Cannavino, President of Red Cherry Group


I never get tired of interviewing women and finding out how they have built their business and what gives them the drive, strength and chutzpah to carry out their dreams. Its a pleasure to feature Bonnie Cannavino, President and Founder of Amrit Organic and Red Cherry Labs.  I first met Bonnie years ago when she worked for Bioelements and then again as a Spa Director, and we have stayed industry colleagues seeing each other at industry events in which we get to catch up on our business and lives. I have great admiration for Bonnie who started her business later in her career and has all the gusto needed to grow this business into an amazing specialty organic boutique lab servicing those concerned about healthy skincare and body care for the professional day spa market.
 
BC: Bonnie, tell me about your career path and what lead you to creating your own lab.


Bonnie: This was the most unexpected journey. Little girl, with big dreams just hoping for a great career in Make-up artistry…that turned into a full circle of opportunities! From struggling to make a splash in renting salon space,  to a highly successful Bridal Makeup Business  “One Beautiful Face” building it, working 52 weekends a year, 4 assistants and 3 hairdresser to managing my first DAY SPA and then off to work for Revlon’s Midwest European Division.  I successfully completed a 5 year program to build several of Revlon Brands selling Rights to Davidoff. Then Bioelements, newly launched, leading me to building a national brand and managing Distributorships. But it didn’t stop there. I then found this experience launched me into General Management of Maxine Salon & Spa for 5 years building into a multi-million dollar business including the branding of Private label and Formulating Natural Products. Little did I know, after leaving, I would open a spa business consulting business and get connected to formulating a brand of the first Organic Manicure & Pedicure Products in 2004, that moved me into creating the Red Cherry Certified Organic Lab, from a lack of finding a resource to formulate my products to my highest standard of organic and spa professional excellence. Whew!

BC: How did you come to choose to create organic products?

Bonnie: Growing up on natural home cooking and prepared nutritious school lunches, even through College, gave me the insight very young to be healthy and strong. I chose the beauty Industry because of its ever growing grassroots. It was a natural to me and I saw a great need in our industry to preserve beauty not just from the outside but changing how we use and experience a healthier lifestyle and creating a healthier salon and spa environment. Creating organic products had to be about authenticity and active principles, taking us away from the traditional footprints of formulation. Thus the environment and beauty is detoxified, strengthened, stabilizing the endurance of more youthful and lasting beauty to be handed down and treasured.  Know that the personal care industry is not new, but has a rich history of natural and organic material bases that changed in the 20th century and as an industry we recognize the need for the balance of these precious Organic Compounds to bring health with the wonderful new sciences of Cosmeceuticals to maintain balance and youth. My company I put in the forefront of these new horizons in our industry.

BC: What's been the most challenging part of ownership?

Bonnie: Of Course, It’s wearing all those hats! But the most exciting part is, as you and your business grow, you get to put a hat on someone that believes in the dream and you get to put a new one on. With every part of business there is growth in watching and market stimulation. The responsibilities expand and it’s recognizing the good and the pitfalls by bringing forward all your past experiences of success forward. I’m a future thinker tending to forecast 3 years out. So, I surround myself with grounded professionals that can see where I want this company to go and improve, thus knowing your own weaknesses is the key!

BC: What's been the most rewarding?

Bonnie: Seeing our industry change for the better and growth of health and wellness, but the reward for me is being a central impact to that change.  My own personal grow coincides with the spa brand and business movement, which is my passion and ability to present and give back to my industry is the ultimate gift to my mentors and those around me.

BC: In this endeavor, what skills have you gained and how did you grow personally and professionally?

Bonnie: My two skills:  Successful Business Development thru Professional Individual Growth, which you cannot separate in an intimate people business and the other, is Creativity. I was so lucky to have the opportunity to learn from others by diving directly in. My mentors gave freely and I have the ability of knowing how to surround myself with like-personalities, a “key” the factor in success to every position I attained. I have the utmost integrity, never to abandon.  I believe in long relationships and solid foundations.   

BC: I imagine starting a business in a historically low economic time had been challenging, what motivates you every day?

Bonnie: There is an advantage to every economic wave. The organic material resource to product formulation is the hardest today because of its sensitivity to popularity, draught, war and disease. Motivation is never a problem when you have a passion for what you do, but it’s the serious decision to know your success and how you got there to taking on a journey with commitment and determination. I love what I do and I embrace and take responsibility for every action and its wonderful outcome.

BC: What advice would you have for entrepreneurs thinking of starting a business?

Bonnie: In one sentence…Be the art of listening, recognizing the truth and red flags to making the correct decision.

First be humble and list out in columns all your strengths and weaknesses. List all the tools of your successful background knowing why it’s successful. Do not go into a field you have not experienced without success. Seriously decide if you are a self-starter, a sticker and a motivation with tireless energy. Make sure you can handle failure and the ability to know why something failed and if you have failed those around you. There are so many individuals that think it’s easy but are not equipped in the business they create. Business is math and consistency, communication, marketing experience, quality and control, trouble shooting and recreation…to a bottle of Champagne once a year!

BC: What's the best advice you have been given in business?

Bonnie: OMG…I have had many, my mentors were wonderful…but several things stick out: First…keep it as simple as possible, second never be afraid to seek out answers and thirdly keep your relationship whole and growing.

BC: What are the 5 things you can't live without?

1.       My husband who encourages me to go for it…he sees my success and passion

2.       My associates and all my relationships, they are most precious

3.       My clients and all those students who are not afraid to pick up the phone and ask for my opinion

4.       Estheticians, spas and medi-spas, I have and can inspire to great careers

5.       For this industry that has given me so many rewards for my efforts, knowledge and creativity

I thank you Elaine…for bring me home to my humble beginnings!
 
Bonnie, Thanks for sharing more about your career and business, inspiring story filled with many examples to continue to grow within your industry. I think our readers will enjoy learning more about your career path. See you soon~
 
 

 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wednesday's Woman Jana Jane Hexter

What an exciting opportunity to interview Jana Jane Hexter, an accomplished grant writing consultant who worked in Political Science (remembering back to when I graduated from HS this was the field to go into!) with a degree from Cornell University -she has raised over $32M and wrote an acclaimed book on the topic!

But what I find fascinating is she is a natural intuitive with the capacity to see, hear, feel and know information from beyond the physical realm, including communicating with those that have died. She know shares this gift with others by providing intuitive guidance at www.thejanachannel.com


Jana Jane Hexter, The Jana Channel


I recently had a session with Jana and the outcome was mind blowing and I was so grateful to have the experience. I learned something that came from our session that was very important and yet went into this session not having any expectations, in fact the most mind blowing part about it was something I wasn't expecting to get out of it. I was focused on something entirely different yet this was so important I realized I got exactly what I needed! So cool. I just had to share more about Jana with all of you.

BC: Jana, Please share with our reading audience what you do for a living and how your journey evolved over the years to lead you to your current endeavor of the Jana Channel?

Jana: I use my intuitive gifts to help people who are at a crossroads in life find their new path with grace and ease. I particularly enjoy working with accomplished, intellectually curious, and spiritually aware people who are committed to exploring the deeper questions, relishing life, and giving back to the world. I also can help people connect with those who have passed on.

As you mentioned in your introduction, I have a very traditional background. Grant writing is logical, analytical and objective. So, it’s not exactly, the life path of someone you would expect tell you at a dinner party that they could speak to your dead mother.

When people ask me how I started doing intuitive work, I usually quip that I was dragged into it kicking and screaming! My belief system simply didn’t accommodate the after-life, guides, angels and universal life force or Spirit.

But I had series of extraordinary experiences that demanded that I reevaluate the nature of life and existence and my purpose on the planet in this life. I realized that I have been a channel or bridge between realms all my life – in fact, if you look at my first career I was also a bridge between the funders and the nonprofits and aiding in the transition of their agencies.  And as Brit living in the U.S., I often act as a bridge between those cultures for people. I am now clear that I came here to help people through transition at a time of global transition and be a channel for the Divine Feminine when called to do so. While a decade ago I would never in a million years have thought that I would say these things publicly, it gives me a deep sense of peace to be helping people by openly sharing my sacred gift and living a life aligned with my soul’s purpose.

BC: What is an intuitive?

Jana: There is a consciousness that connects us all that transcends language, time, and physicality. It contains a vast amount of information and intelligence. We all tap into it at some point in our lives – like those moments of crisis when we act in split seconds and later wonder how we knew what to do. In those moments we are tapping into the collective universal consciousness that is not boundered by time and place as we are in the physical world.

We can all access this realm but for generations western society has dismissed and derided it as irrational, unscientific, and untrustworthy. In fact, it is an incredibly useful source of guidance for our lives.

I believe it is time for us to develop the concept of intuitive intelligence. Let me explain. When I was young, intelligence simply meant being book smart, and if you didn’t test well then you were stupid. Then in the 80’s and 90’s we embraced the concept of multiple intelligences including emotional and artistic intelligence. I believe that it is time to acknowledge intuitive intelligence, or the ability to connect with the non-physical realm, and help people to develop this aspect of their being.

I simply have an excellent capacity to tap into this realm and in doing so can help people heal blocks, access information for themselves, and live a more fulfilled life aligned with their soul’s journey.

BC: What typically do you help others with? Why do they seek your services?

People come to me for a lot of reasons. They might be in a major life transition such as end of a relationship, career change, health challenge, or retirement and look for guidance about the best way to proceed.  Some people feel stuck or have a general sense of unease and want to move forward but aren’t sure what’s in their way. Others are open to the ethereal realms and come to me to help them access information that is useful to them in living a deeply fulfilling, aligned life or more fully develop their own capacity to do that themselves.

Each and every session is absolutely unique and I never know what will unfold. I have the ability to connect people with their higher selves, guides, angels, recall and heal past life issues that are blocking them in this life, connect them with departed friends and relatives, see the gift they came here to share in this lifetime and also connect with the higher spiritual dimension. I simply work with my clients to define a clear question and then open it up to Spirit to provide exactly what is needed for this person at this time.

As a result of a session with me people often experience

  • Clarity about their direction and the best next step - and the ability to start on a new life path or career with ease knowing that it's right for them.
  • Closure and setting their heart at ease about the death of loved one and their manner of passing.
  • Learning to access, develop, and use their intuition.
  • The comfort of being seen at the deepest level - getting present to parts of yourself they'd forgotten, ignored, or invalidated.
  • Knowing their life’s purpose and what they have to offer the world - stop wasting time on things that don't fit.
  • Validation of their own intuitive feelings so that they trust themselves and create a meaningful life path with confidence.
  • A visceral experience of unconditional love, self-acceptance and wholeness that is tangible and real in their life.

My work runs very deep and acts at a spiritual or cellular level and as such, takes months to unfold in someone’s life. Many people have told me that is has been a life-changing experience. One person said that the session brought all the strands of her live together and made a lot things make sense for the first time. I believe that our birthright is the deep fulfillment and joy of living authentically from our heart and freely sharing our innate gifts with the world and I am committed to helping people achieve that so that we all honor the sacredness of every being on the planet.

BC: Have you ever had a situation where you needed to guide someone away from something?

Not really. Sometimes people ask whether option A or B might be better for them and Spirit will respond that one option is preferable or that the question is moot for some reason and explain how to think about the situation in a way that is more aligned with the spiritual dimension.

BC: How do people react when you tell them what you do at cocktail parties?

Jana: Surprisingly positively.  I was raised in a family of skeptics so I assumed that most people would think that I’m nuts if I told them about what I do and my experiences. But I have found that most people are interested. Many people have had an experience of their own that is out of the bounds of contemporary thinking and often share these with me. Popular TV shows such as Medium, and Ghost Whisperer are shifting  our cultural openness  to incorporate an understanding and acceptance of the ethereal realms and most people are more open than you might expect.

BC: Do you have suggestions for people in terms of developing their own intuition? I can remember a few times in my life that I was being guided and decided not to follow my intuition. BIG MISTAKE!

Jana: Yes. One of the most valuable things is to take time to meditate, or in prayer if that is your belief system. I have meditated for an hour a day for more than 8 years now and I can attest to the benefits in my life. We live in a frantic, noisy world that leaves us disconnected from our body’s messages, natural rhythms, and innate intuitiveness. Calming the mind and coming back to center is not only fulfilling, it is also purifying and clarifying.

And meditation doesn’t have to be our traditional conception of it. Arjuna Ardagh wrote a great blog post last year pointing out that,

Silent meditation, like Vipassana or Zazen, were developed in old traditions by men for men. When a man sits still for a long time with his spine straight, his testosterone reserves are rebuilt in his body, causing stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol to reduce and he has the experience of coming home to himself.

For the feminine heart, the whole process is completely different. Women have about one thirtieth of the testosterone in their bloodstream than men do, and they alleviate stress through the release of oxytocin, which also balances the stress hormones. So while a man might really benefit from the practice of Qigong or silent meditation, a woman might get much more benefit from dance, from moving into her feelings, or spending nurturing time with her close women friends.”

My own experience is that time deeply connecting with nature, dancing, sacred sex, or being in sacred circle with women calms and centers me like little else. 

The second thing that people can do to develop their own intuition is simply to be open to the concept that it is a very real, powerful, and useful aspect of their being. We are conditioned by religions, governments, schools systems etc. to put more weight on external authorities rather than our own inner knowing – our internal sovereignty. To listen to those gut reactions, that little voice in your head telling you to move forward or stop, or simply ‘knowing’ that something is right for us without proof or evidence is powerful if we do not deny it. We are receiving intuitive guidance all the time and yet we are conditioned to dismiss it rather than act in alignment with it.

Almost everyone can name a time when they knew that something was right or wrong for them but they didn’t listen to themselves because the other option made logical sense or fit a cultural norm and then it played out badly. We usually regret those moments and live wondering ‘what if?’

There is a deep sense of peacefulness that comes from trusting your heart’s intuitive intelligence regardless of how crazy it might seem to the rational mind or societal expectations and not having any more ‘what ifs?

When you align your actions with your own inner guidance, even if things don’t work out the way you envisioned, they often unfold in such a way that you are left with an expanded view of yourself or the universe that feels true and real.

As a special for our Beauty Curators readers...If you are at a place in your life where having a session with Jana will help you on your life path, simply mention the Beauty Curators for a special price of $350 that's a savings of $150 off the regular fee! Click here to get your reading scheduled or learn more about the services Jana provides:   The Jana Channel





I am really excited about the Wednesday Woman's feature and would love to know your feedback and what type of subjects you might find interesting or women to learn more about!

Thanks for stopping by, feel free to pass on to your circle of friends and make comments below.




 

 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wednesday's Woman-Tara, founder of Tara Spa Therapy

Early in my career I studied aromatherapy, and its been of great interest to me and often go to source for healing - in fact, aromatherapy is one of the treatments I use to help me get my sense of smell and taste recovered since my concussion post accident. I use aromatherapy for bathing, and prepare the face for cleansing, there are many oils that would benefit various ailments and often used them when massaging my sons before bed time when they were toddlers and even now when they request a massage.
 
It was during one of opening Kiva Spa in Chicago that I first met Tara from Tara Spa Therapy, I relied on her excellence in products but also her knowledge and partnership for creating unique spa treatments for world class spas. Tara has touched many in the spa world by leading the industry with her innovative treatments and regional specialties designed for destination spas across the globe.

She is a pioneer in a market where there are many "me too or copy cat brands" often calling themselves natural but in fact are far from it. I appreciate her staying true to her mission and being authentic.

I was able to interview Tara recently before she left for a trip to Paris and I hope you enjoy getting to know this wonderful woman, her company & unique products.
 
One of the missions I have for the blog is to highlight unique business women and share their stories...


Tara Grodjesk, Founder Tara Spa Therapy
  
BC: What is your background and tell me about your career path? 
 
TG: Honors Degree in psychology from University of Michigan. Studied Humanistic Psychology and Human Potential- How we lead a fulfilling life full of peak and transformative experiences. Stumbled into massage school at the age of 21 never having had a massage before in my life. Trained as a structural bodyworker and was certified as a holistic health educator. Went on to study ayurvedic medicine in a 3 year medical program with clinical practice. Opened my own clinic in NYC and NJ: Bodywise, the Center for Relaxation and Rejuventation where I did structural bodywork sessions and yoga therapy and ayurvedic consultations. I started training massage therapists and spa professional in the spa industry beginning in 1987 Founded the TARA brand in 1996.

BC: How did you first come to create your brand Tara Spa Therapy? 

TG: I was representing different companies and realized that I was helping put everyone else on the map with their brands and it was time for me to put myself on the map. I had been developing treatment programs and creating signature treatments and regional specialities for spa consultants and spa directors. I started two divisions of my company: spa products and spa consulting.

BC: As a business woman, what's been really gratifying? 

TG: To realize that through my products I have touched hundreds of thousands of individuals. And that I've maintained my integrity and authenticity despite the corruption in the business world today..

BC: What are the lessons that have been challenging in growing your brand?

TG: Being under-capitalized is really challenging. I didn't have a business plan, I had a vision and inspiration and used the bootstrap method. It's a hard way to go and takes a lot of dedication and a ton of passion for your mission. Funding is key to being able to grow to the next level. 

BC: Companies like life have cycles of development from infancy where there are no limits just enthusiasm and strong creative energy to teenage years where some constraints are then put in place as a company grows, where are you in your business life cycle and what are your hopes for the future of Tara Spa Therapy? 

TG: I have watched the different cycles and realize we are in a place where the entrepreneurial phase has run its course; its really time for a business executive and business development experts to take it to the next level. I am still wanting to stay involved and help to impart the vision and philosophy of the brand, but it needs more strategic expertise than I can give it on my own. The other interesting note is to see if you stick around long enough, customers cycle back and you stay in the game. its' so odd to watch that happen, and some of my first customers are still buying my products since 1989!

BC: what has inspired you in helping others achieve wellness?
 
TG: Its been a vision of mine since I went to the holistic health institute. I wanted to help others live a healthy happy vital life so that we can all be and do better in the world and ultimately impact social change and really make a difference in the world, for the better.
 
BC: You travel extensively both domestically and internationally and I think you can relate to this next question & I am curious how you care for yourself while on the road, perhaps there are some tips you feel would be beneficial - with today's lifestyle being plugged in 24/7, I worry about how we model healthy behavior for ourselves and our children, are their rituals that make sense to do daily that help manage stress that you have found supports a busy lifestyle? 
 
TG: I know it sounds cliché but the following is what helps to keep me balanced in the day to day: meditation, breath awareness, physical exercise- I love yoga especially. And right eating.
 
BC: I find your seasonal product for achieving wellness so practical, how did you come up with this concept(what's this based on) and do you have a subscription program for folks that want to sign up for this on your website?
 
TG: Staying Healthy Through the Seasons is based on the Ayurvedic philosophy that our bodies need different things at different times of year. And if we attune to the natural rhythms of nature we can help maintain our own sense of balance and well-being. I love this program because it reminds us that our needs change as the seasons change. Winter is a time to boost immunity and to warm the bones.  Spring is a time to cleanse and detox; Summer is a time to chill out and refresh; Autumn is a time for Balancing. Now of course we can use all of this all year round, but these season are best for those wellness practices.I don't have a subscription program yet, but I hope to soon. Yet all of the staying healthy through the seasons products are available on my website www.taraspa.com

BC: What products do you always take with you?
 
TG: I never leave home without 3 bottles of bath and diffuser oil and some unscented lotion. I can use the concentrated essential oil blend such as detoxifying or revitalizing in the bath- which is the first thing I try to do when I travel to get grounded and re-align; take a bath. And I can also use the blend mixed with unscented lotion after I shower for an aromatherapy treatment on my skin. I can use the blend as a natural perfume. Very
versatile!!

BC: Some of my favorite products include the bath salts, I love to have a great soak at night before bed and the restful sleep collection is perfect to help me relax into a deep slumber.

(I was once talking to someone who said they never take a bath! seriously? I was shocked but maybe we need a quick survey! (Leave a comment below as to whether you prefer bath, showers or like me do both ...shower in the am and soak at night...lots of "good" thinking gets done in the soak)

Tara Bath Salt Collections -there is even one for PMS, (just saying you don't have to struggle with it!)

This is an excellent aromatherapy for adding a few drops to your children's bath or adding a few drops to Tara Unscented Lotion and customizing a after bath massage for your children, its relaxing for the children, creates a ritual and bonding experience & truly helps to reduce stress.


 
 
BC: Tara, thank you for taking the time to share more about you and your company, on behalf of my readers, its been a great pleasure!

Readers, I hope you are enjoying the Wednesday's Woman feature.

Warmly,

elaine
 
 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wednesday's Woman: MaryBeth Janssen, Writer, Yoga Master, Mind-Body Educator

LddIt is a great honor to feature Mary Beth Janssen in the Wednesdays Woman feature on TBC blog. She is a truly exceptional person and I am thrilled to know her, inspired by her on a daily basis thru her communications on social media - inspiring messages and powerful force on living your best life. It seems her wisdom is what we need more of. She's has so many unique experiences that I was so thrilled to have some time to interview her about her life- fascinating.

 
Mary Beth Janssen is a highly respected beauty and wellness educator who teaches mind-body health and organic lifestyle seminars, workshops, and retreats worldwide. She is a certified mind-body health educator for Deepak Chopra's Chopra Center for Well-Being, as well as a massage therapist, aromatherapist, herbalist, and yoga teacher. Janssen is also founder of the Green Beauty and Wellness Group. She writes for Organic Spa Magazine, Conscious Enlightenment Media, and several blogs, and has authored six books, including Radiant Beauty and Rejuvenation. Janssen lives in the greater Chicago area, IL. We will be giving away one of her books called Pleasure Healing, I have a copy in my library and its a go to book that I enjoy reading over and over.
 
 
BC: Mary Beth, you have such interesting experiences and expertise - how did you begin your career?
 
MBJ: I was working in the salon...went to a Pivot Point cutting class at the midwest beauty show...we're talking late 70's here...and the late great Leo Passage and Grace Doran (who became not only wonderful mentors but great friends) met with me and suggested going into teaching.they got me hook, line, and sinker! ;-) got my teacher's license and 8 months into teaching.
Leo Passage sent me to Holland to teach 16 government teachers the pivot point scientific approach to hair sculpture...in dutch, mind you! went swimmingly and this started my traveling/teaching internationally...Leo also brought me into the publishing department at Pivot Point, where I worked hard on the creation of educational programming for undergraduate and graduate training...produced/directed design forum for many years... 
 
I ultimately became the company's international artistic director and was in this position til I was head hunted away in 1993 to ISO (innovative styling options)/Unilever...a whole new world opened up to me working for a major manufacturer and being in the position as creative and education director...a huge responsibility but I thrived...among them, was intimately involved in developing and launching the ISO liquid line with a wellness positioning...
 
I asked my boss (to shore up my wellness cred) if I could attend a week-long training for medical professionals to learn from Dr. Deepak Chopra and his partner Dr. David Simon...called "journey into healing" I had been in trainings for years related to the healing arts and wellness(energy healing, massage therapist, yoga, shamanism, etc.)--was a CMT at this point as well.
 
My boss sent me to the Deepak training on iso's dime! How cool was that?...and it changed my life...I knew at that training that this is what I meant to be teaching, writing about etc.
 
I started my own company, the Janssen Source in 1997 and haven't looked back since...spent 2 1/2 years to become a certified ayurvedic/ mindbody health expert through Chopra center for well-being/university...staffed many deepak seminars/workshops around the globe with him--from India to Oxford, and San Diego to Chicago and  more...
 
At this time my book writing career  (now on number 7!) and writing about beauty and wellness integration for the media began (various magazines/blogs)...and was also asked to take on other assorted projects that really resonated with me...development and launch of mop (modern organic products) and innersense amongst them...at this point I've successfully traveled into a large number of beauty and specifically spa environments nationwide...always working and teaching but also always learning...
 
I met Horst (Editors comment: Horst Rechelbacher the founder of Aveda and Intelligent Nutrients who passed just recently) during this time and we became friends...I spent some very interesting times on the phone or in-person with Horst discussing life, health, spirituality...he graciously wrote a beautiful foreword for my pleasure healing book...
 
BC: And what was the journey like for you to become an expert in body mind field? Was there a time in your life that you shifted toward a career in wellness?
 
MBJ: I grew up on an organic farm...and wellness has always been in my bones...my travels at Pivot Point and beyond informed much of my wellness learning as well...I've ALWAYS been a seeker. On a pivot point booking in Europe in the late 70's I went to the TM (transcendental meditation center in Antwerp, Belgium and did a week-end course to learn tm...)
 
BC: Life feels more frenetic today I imagine than years previous and I believe most people long to master their days, their time and slow the pace. I often feel the stress most people feel is affecting chronic health but if we could master our emotional selves we would present and experience life at a different level. When I read your book Pleasure Healing I realized one of the biggest voids on my own life is the mindfulness in each moment. How can we achieve being present in our day to day?
 
MBJ: This is a very loaded question Elaine! ;-) the short answer would be to read the chapter in my book titled "embracing mindfulness."
 
Mindfulness (also called present moment awareness means "paying attention on purpose." this takes a commitment...making a commitment is our responsibility--no one else's. intentionality plays into this. mindfulness and intentionality are practices...by setting an intention each and every morning as to being in the moment as much as possible, or committing to accomplishing some goal (getting healthier or fit, learning something new, being happier, etc), or verbalizing how we want our day to go, or how we want to feel is important for programming our subconscious to follow-through (versus flying by the seat of our pants every day!).
 
BC: I love that setting the intention the moment your waking up. I have started doing that each morning for the past month! And really feel this working for me. How can we start this shift in our own lives?
 
MJB: Remember that new habits take 21 days to take hold...so you hold the reins in committing to and making a daily mindfulness meditation practice a reality and a habit. And when you do...your life, your health, your relationships, your joy will begin to find natural balance and powerfully deepen, transform, grow, expand exponentially...I promise! mindfulness brings to mind..."the past is history, the future a mystery, but today, ah, today, it is such a gift...and that's why they call it the 'present.'"
 
and...
 
If you are depressed, you are living in the past.
If you are anxious, you are living in the future.
If you are at peace, you are living in the present.

Lao Tzu  

 

BC: I'm so interested in psychoneuroimmunology - I don't think western medicine is far enough along with this. Explain it and how we might use this to change our health.
 
MBJ: Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is the study of the interaction between psychological processes--our mental and emotional states--and the nervous and immune systems of the human body. Understanding it is the first step for us to change our health for the better...Have you heard the expression "our issues are in our tissues" or "our biography becomes our biology?" Tis true! ;-)

Every single thought we have becomes a molecule in our body...mind over matter, if you will. One of my great mentors Dr. Candace Pert (she discovered endorphins--our bodies natural pain-reliever and mood enhancing chemical-- in the laboratory)--who wrote the book "the Molecules of Emotion" simply stated that if you have angry thoughts you create angry cells in your body, sad thoughts--sad cells, happy thoughts--happy cells....

When we are mindful....we can have a more evolutionary response to stress. Stress or the fight or flight response is hard-wired into us...it is governed by the sympathetic nervous system. When we perceive a threat whether real or imagined--our HPA axis (hypothalamus tells the pituitary to tell the adrenals to start releasing stress hormones) kicks into high gear--with the requisite and drastic bodily changes that prepare us for fighting or fleeing.

If this stress response is allowed to always be turned on with no respite...it will eventually and ultimately break us down. Stress when uncontrolled is a killer...that's well established now. 85-90 percent of doctor's visits are attributable to stress--physical, mental, emotional and environmental. In this country 7 out of 10 people will die of chronic disease--the kind that builds and takes hold in our mind-body physiology over time (and can be modulated/prevented through lifestyle choices). 

Stress is at the root of much of this. You CAN choose between war and peace. We can choose a more life-affirming way that will safe-guard our health...it's called the relaxation response and is governed by the parasympathetic nervous system...but you must be in mindfulness mode to do this.

Healing breathwork (pranayama) is your number one friend in creating this shift from stress to relaxation mode... (SO many folks I see are breathing shallowly in the upper part of their chest putting themselves in perpetual stress mode) along with a dedicated meditation (or other contemplative) practice, a daily physical fitness regimen--(including yoga, cardio,and strengthening), optimal nutrition, sensory modulation therapies(massage, aroma, sound, color, etc)...all integral in controlling stress and shifting into relaxation mode...

BC: I love the quote in your book from Deepak Chopra about "we are doing the best we can from the level of consciousness we're in" - sometimes its easy to forget that when dealing with people day to day.

MBJ: Yes, so true! This thought process can dramatically change your interactions and relationships. When you understand where someone is coming from, you're auto-magically less judgmental. When you become less judgmental, you become more tolerant. When you become more tolerant, you become more able to forgive....and when you are more forgiving, you are more apt to love...unconditionally.
 
BC: What does Ahimsa mean (is it pronounced A Him sa?)

MBJ: Ah-him-sa...   Ahimsa means non-violence or non harming which = kindness and compassion in all you do toward and for  yourself, others and the environment...              
As a yoga teacher, I have a choice. I can live and teach the whole of yoga as delineated in Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, or can simply focus on the physical practice of asana. If we choose the whole of yoga, the first two steps on the ladder of the eightfold path are the yamas and niyamas. These ethical and spiritual observances help us develop the more profound qualities of our humanity...
 
The name of the first limb of the eightfold path, yama, originally meant "bridle" or "rein." Patanjali used it to describe a restraint that we willingly and joyfully place on ourselves to focus our efforts, the way a rein allows a rider to guide his horse in the direction he would like to go. In this sense, self-restraint can be a positive force in our lives, the necessary self-discipline that allows us to head toward the fulfillment of our dharma, or life purpose. The five yamas—kindness, truthfulness, abundance, continence, and self-reliance—are oriented toward our public behavior and allow us to coexist harmoniously with others.
Ahimsa traditionally meant "do not kill or hurt people."

This can be extrapolated to mean that we should not be violent in feelings, thoughts, words, or actions. At root, ahimsa means maintaining compassion towards yourself and others. It means being kind and treating all things with care.
 
In class, we often see students being harsh toward themselves—pushing when they should be pulling back, fighting when they need to surrender, forcing their bodies to do things they are not yet ready to do. When we see this kind of behavior, it is an opportune time to bring up the topic of ahimsa and explain that to be violent to the body means we are no longer listening to it. Violence and awareness cannot coexist. When we are forcing, we are not feeling. Conversely, when we are feeling, we cannot be forcing.

One of the main purposes of yoga is to cultivate feeling and awareness in the body, and violence only achieves the opposite result. We carry this knowingness out of the yoga class and into all facets of our lives...
 
Kindness, truthfulness, abundance, continence, and self-reliance—living and teaching these yamas puts us on the fulfilling path of an all-encompassing yoga for life, an approach to the inner quest that makes us whole.

BC: With your vast experience, what part of your career is the most fulfilling?

MBJ: Simply put...to wake every day and question "how may I serve?" as opposed to "what's in it for me?" And specifically, I'm humbled by my patients or wellness class attendees who share what an impact my teachings have had on their life--their health, emotions, anxiety, depression, pain, etc...and I have to say that I do love writing about the wide variety of wellness topics which then become (fodder for!) my curriculum of offerings....


BC: Tell me about your dog and how you are both certified to help others?

MBJ: Hogan, my German Shepherd and I are a certified therapy dog team...Hogan loves to just sit next to those who are hurting...those in hospice, hospitals, etc. he is brilliant and loves to be of service to others(and petted!)...as we all know now when we reach out and touch, hug, or in the case of our pets, stroke their fur...we release the "love hormone" oxytocin...which has a wonderful, healing affect on our mindbody physiology.


Hogan in the front and Luna in the back

BC: Lastly what is a day in the life like? I 'd love this ..I know it's a personal peek into someone else's life...

MBJ: ....open eyes/set intention/meditation...evacuate kidneys...pooches out the door to do same...;-)...a couple big glasses of pure water with lemon, evacuate bowels, breakfast/social media, yoga, dog walk, run, self massage, nasya/neti, bathe...dress...work...lunch/brief walk...mid-afternoon pooch walk, personal run, meditation, dinner, reading/writing/ television, social media/phone

Big Thank YOU! I loved learning more about you and your journey. You have had an amazingly interesting career that has many lives and its so awesome to see that you continue to develop and have so many more options in life to fulfill your creative outlet. _/\_Namaste Mary Beth!

Mary Beth is a writer for Organic Spa magazine, she has a regular column ask the Organic Beauty Expert and she is available for speaking engagements, yoga retreats, corporate events, retreats. If you would like to reach Mary Beth, you can link to her via www.thebeautyagents.com/mary-beth-janssen

Please sign up for the blog and you could win a copy of Mary Beth's book Pleasure Healing. We are hosting a little drawing ;-)

 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cancer Survivor Hitting The 5 Year Mark 4/27/14=Cancer Thriver

My blog was started and is really about beauty in life and in products and of course I have spent 25 years in the beauty industry but that  is just a small sample of the years I have been a beauty bug. I was a really small girl when I realized I love all things beauty. This post is about beauty too, but more personal and the essence of beauty ....being alive!

Today I share a small peek into my own life & how rich it feels to reach this 5 year mark after a cancer diagnosis! It's just a little bit about the journey I went thru & the immediate impact hearing those words - "The tests came back positive & you have cancer".

Just a short few years ago, I was driving with my friend and colleague to a meeting downtown with a beauty company. Cheryl and I were beauty warriors in business together and she was more than a colleague she was my dear friend. As is stands I have no doubt God put me in her presence when I heard those words that morning while at work, she was a great person for me to be with that day.

It was an early Monday morning, I just had a romantic anniversary weekend with my husband of 17 years at the time. We spent the night in a romantic Chicago hotel, had a yummy dinner & just enjoyed our celebration weekend. So I would say there was a smile on my face that morning as I drove down the high way, the way a lingering vacation stays with you, you are just moving thru life at a slightly different pace.

I missed a call and thought perhaps it was the folks we were meeting that morning. So as I retrieved the message, I heard my new doctors voice - she left a message that indeed the biopsy we took just 4 days before was cancerous and we had to remove the tumor.

Emergency landing, I pulled over and asked Cheryl to drive to the city. I had to hear that again. Certainly I was hoping I heard it wrong. (And I am sure for Cheryl it was hard to be with me at that moment. and the beauty warriors we are we went to the meeting like we never heard that message!)

And then I made the call to the doc.

She is an amazing doctor, super smart with terrific chair side manner & a beauty on top of it!

(A dangerous combination & that combination = patient loyalty in my book!).

Dr. Dina Elaraj practices medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. And she explained we needed to schedule surgery to remove the tumor. I think I was in shock looking back, scared of course to hear those words.

What does that mean for my life, for my family? And as I thought of Jojo and our young sons, I wondered what impact would it have on them. How do you keep a brave front so you don't burden them with those concerns, fears etc.

My life was so full, this darling little nuclear family, husband, 2 beautiful sons who I adored, a great dog, life in the burbs, wonderful friendships and extended family,  a career I loved and was passionate about, ....everything I ever wanted....all of these things you treasure flood over you, you don't want to think of losing any of them. As soon as I heard cancer diagnosis........ lots of weird & flooding noise rattling around in my head. I knew I had to get past these self limiting conversations in my head.

I started recalling the few days before when I met with Dr Elaraj for the first time. I knew the tumor was growing despite the fact that I had been checking it for a few years. So when I first met her days before to check it out, she said "we are going to biopsy it today". I responded with: "oh no need for that, I have had it biopsied twice and the results were fine". (.... I know, I know... dumb!) She was assertive so I just went along with the in-office procedure (mind you I was not mentally prepared to be biopsied!) and obviously now so glad I did. I can be a stubborn.... patient ;-)

When you go thru the initial shock, you move into ACTION mode. And if you know me I am researching everything. I was on more medical journal sites across the world and learning as much as I could.
Including, second opinions, and how much Radio Active Iodine (The Gold Standard of the type of cancer I had.....and part of the post surgery treatment plan.)

The RAI (Radio Active Iodine/Nuclear Medicine) you have to go into the hospital and be isolated for a period of a few days and then you are released to your home, where you are isolated from your family in a room for the remainder of 7 days.

In my experience, the hospital I was at was near my home, its a special room. A man comes in with a special hazmat suit on protecting him from the poison that was my "life saving" formula. He opens a metal box and inside was a large pill, he has you remove it, gives you a glass of water and instructs you to swallow it and then he snaps the box shut, turns on his heels and bee lines it out of the room!) You are completely alone with your thoughts for what seems like a very long time. Trust me its nothing compared to what fellow cancer warriors go thru with Chemo and Radiation.

Surgery. Check
Send pathology slides to Sloan Kettering in NYC for second opinion on staging and follow-up treatment. Check
Post Surgery treatment. Radio Active Iodine. Check
Annual Body Scans. Check.


Secretly, I was praying thru all of that to get to the 5 year mark. "Let me make it to 5 year mark". Never ever did I think I would want 5 years to pass quickly ;-)

Your survival rates increase so anyone with a cancer diagnosis probably longs for the opportunity to make it to that mark. (And hopefully mindfully living in the moment. so you can soak in every nano second).

This weekend (Sunday 4.27.14) I made it to the 5 year mark! Holy cow! Soaking it all in. So.... so thoroughly grateful. and so much to be grateful for. It is not lost on me how many people do not make it to the 5 year mark, they don't make it to the finish line & I know I am lucky. (My dear friend Maureen said to me to remind me of the hope and promise of the future: "we are lucky people" so I adopted this phrase & made it my mantra.)

So many people to thank for their loving support during the diagnosis phase & after. Those that leant an ear to let pour out my fears, not judging or trying to soothe me but just acknowledging the fact that I had them.

The dinners people so generously made for my family both during the surgery week and again when I went thru the TOTAL ISOLATION period and couldn't cook for my family or touch anything, the special chili that Megan made still lingers on my mind 5 years later, and she included the recipe (which I could never re-create, it was the best chili ever tasted)! Kim sent delish treats that nourished us and delivered from Moveable Feasts in Geneva, Il.

My family for their loving kindness. The amazing flowers that were sent. (Amanda I took a picture of that arrangement it was the biggest ever and I had to find a special place to put them!)

Probably so much more to say that I am forgetting but I trust you know that you left your thumbprint on my heart for supporting & cheering me on!

And today I get to toast you all for your support helping me reaching this goal...if I can quote Emma Stone last night on Jimmy Fallon:

"Darling, you must come over for a restorative glass of champagne". Celebrating!

When you have cancer you feel as tho its another one of your badges you wear.... much like a girl (or boy) scout might have....mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister, SpaQueen, beauty expert, cancer survivor...today I am a cancer thriver.

Total Game Changer.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Beauty Maintenance - Getting Lifted

 
Hi Loves! I'm soooo needing a bit of sprucing up, maybe its because spring might actually be here and  that feeling of everything needing to be refreshed in the house, out of the house...suddenly everything looks tired including me! I've decided I needed some serious face attention! (It could be that this weekend is my 22nd wedding anniversary & feeling nostalgic looking back on wedding photos remembering when my eyes were a bit higher on my face-seriously when did that happen?)

I went to see Renee, aka the Brow Queen and resident licensed esthetician at Salon Estem located in downtown Glen Ellyn to help give my face a bit of a lift. (Shhh...boy does she have some tricks up her sleeve. I tell you the before picture is sans any beauty products so there it is.... all natural...no makeup if you know me this is an issue, I don't get the mail without makeup on ;-)
What can I say??? 25 years in the beauty business has left a lasting impression on me!

Yikes like one of those tabloid pix caught without makeup


Renee recommended a couple of things to address my concerns about everything dropping on my face and the fact that my brows could be shaped and tinted to give more definition to framing my eyes & ultimately giving more balance to the face. She also provided a treatment by NuFace which is a micro current that stimulates & lifts the muscle. Much like Pilate's for the face. It was a technology first discovered when treating individuals with Bells Palsy. And its the only FDA approved equipment which can be used in the privacy of your own home! It lasts for 72 hours in one treatment so for a special event (wedding, class reunion, special date) its a must. (However~ you can continue these benefits and improving the skin by owning one! and doing the treatment every couple of days while you are watching TV.)


After Lash and Brow Tint
Before Lash and Brow Tint

 


In addition to being the Brow Queen, she wields a pretty amazing air gun! Creating a sun drenched glow with her customized tanning product, you do not have to go thru winter being pasty! Highly recommend this service. PRO Tips: remember wear an old bikini and dark clothing that you would not care if you got a bit of product on to wear home and exfoliate and shave the day before the appointment, AND do not do this the day of your wedding or special event!)

I sat with Renee to ask her a few beauty tips for my readers.

BC: Renee, What do you clients love about their services with you?

R: My clients are like most people wanting to have some relaxation time yet have a results oriented skincare treatment, I am known for striving to give them more than they expect or came in for, always making sure to spending more time on their massage or if their skin needs extra boost customizing their masque with special enhancements.

BC: You are known for your brows! I have had someone ask me if you do my brows before. What's so special about your technique?

R: I use a specialty wax which is much gentler on the skin to start with, and I truly groom the brows for the individuals bone structure to make sure its the best shape for their face, I always give them tips on how to maintain at home & frequently recommend tinting them, especially wonderful for warmer months when hair color can get washed out due to the sun exposure. I also recommend tinting eyelashes for much of the same reason, and often women want to go with out mascara so they can swim and enjoy the outdoors in our shorter summer season. (EDITORS NOTE: Never mind just looking amazing when you wake up in the morning!)

BC: If I could only have 2 products in my beauty arsenal, what would you recommend?

R: The product hands down that I cannot live without is our time released Retinol Resurfacing Nighttime Complex, its going to deliver gentle resurfacing without any redness, ,dryness and irritation typically associated with a vitamin A product. its the number one skincare treatment sold here at Salon Estem. (BEAUTY EDITORS NOTE: retinols are proven methods for stimulating collagen, thickening the skin and turning cell over...as we age cells get sluggish and turn over much slower resulting in dry, dehydrated dull conditions)
 And our Radiance Boost Toner used daily this will perfect your skin, leaving it luminous and makeup looking flawless throughout the day.

BC: What is the best cycle to come in for facials, it is once a year or twice a year?? or weekly? (that would be my choice!)

R: If there are not any corrective conditions such as rosacea or acne, roughness, hyper pigmentation, then I recommend every 6 weeks to keep the skin looking optimal. By keeping a regular routine, we keep the skin in perfect health, we are going to work on keeping pores clear, and refined, (especially important as one gets into the peri menopause and menopause age because our hormones also affect our skin & the size of our pores gets larger as we age) but also to stimulate the muscles, lifting and contouring the skin, making sure that we relax the face so that stress doesn't show up - which can be quite aging. It's not only relaxing but we do a wonderful facial treatment including a cleansing massage, analyze the skin, talk about the current care and what the concerns are and build a proper plan around the conditions present. We provide a deep exfoliation-this helps whisk away build up and milia (EDITORS NOTE: those little hard white seedy looking things that you can not squeeze to remove yourself! Believe me, I have tried!) that can show up on the skin, and rejuvenating massage that will leave you looking and feeling better ( most people get an amazing nap!) followed by a customized mask and appropriate eye care, serum and moisturizer.

BC: I heard of a group of girls planning a STAYCATION over spring break, they couldn't get away due to various schedules, so they planned a night at one house, everyone showed up with a themed dinner component and most wore vacation type clothes, including sporting a self tan service! That's one way of bringing the vacation to you! Tell me about the sun service you offer at Salon Estem & any tips you have for someone considering this service.

R: Considering our short summers here, why not have this year round? At least you can look someone glowing in winter :-)
Our self tan service its very effective, and gives a boost of confidence because you look better right away. Its perfect before a special event where you might be showing more skin is strapless dress.

Here's a snapshot of Renee, she is amazing with her hands! I love her massage and I am so happy with my brows being shaped and tinted! She's pure magic!

Renee, LE



This is me after she got her hands on me! Notice the difference in the jawline and brows from the NuFace~

 
Let Renee get you gorgeous, simply mention The Beauty Curators Blogpost and you can receive 10% off any service with Renee thru the end of May.You can make an appointment by calling 630.534.4555
Pricing Brow wax $20, Brow Tint $10, Lash Tint $15, Nu Face Current only without a facial $60 and a spray tan $43, you can actually shower as early as 2 hours after this service.