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Living Smoke Free – I did It My Way

It was the fall of 1996 and I had decided to finally stop smoking. I smoked for over 20 years and enjoyed everything about it: the scent, the camaraderie in smoking circles, the self-contained privacy of a good cigarette and the sensuality. Yes, I loved everything about smoking and still do — I just don’t smoke anymore. No one was more surprised than my family when I stopped. I was a staunch advocate of smokers’ rights and very much enjoyed my habit and its routines. When asked why I stopped smoking, my response is the same now as it was then: it seemed like the thing to do at the time.

When I realized it would soon be time to stop smoking, I approached the release process with some holistic healing ideas I had explored over the last few years. If I was going to succeed at not smoking, I would have to ignore the propaganda about smokers, i.e., people who smoke, and cigarettes. As a stereotype, the word smoker carries numerous negative emotional and mental associations and as a declaration of free will, I released myself from this identity. The idea of “quitting” something is usually classified as an undesirable act as well. To mentally facilitate my decision, I also shelved the “quitting” approach. I set about cultivating a mental and emotional movement away from being a smoker to someone who smoked and in the process, freed myself from psychological barriers that were likely to complicate my progress.

I affirmed that I was a valuable person who simply chose to enjoy cigarettes, nothing more and nothing less. After all, without Prohibition, people who drink alcohol are acceptable and because of a simple change in politics, I saw no reason to accept the mainstream Society’s attempts to brand me as some alien life form on the sole basis that I smoked tobacco. Though I never did berate or hate myself for smoking and encouraged others who wanted to stop smoking to discontinue that toxic practice, I concluded that in order to succeed with my goal, I would need to cultivate the most powerful force in existence — love. I immediately discarded any ideas that elicited even one iota of guilt for enjoying cigarettes, or fear of some physical disease as motivation to stop smoking. Both fear and guilt require reinforcement to maintain their life span and hence, motivating power. Love on the other hand, is self-contained, self-supporting and self-perpetuating.

I took a good look at cigarettes and their role in my life. I realized these rolled-up tobacco packets were friends — yes, friends. I loved my cigarettes like a best friend. These dried plant sticks were with me through good times and bad; whether or not they approved of my actions or decisions, and were never too busy to talk or hold my hand when I needed a friend. In essence, cigarettes were always there for me no matter what. As friends then, I recognized each one for the service it provided me. I showered love upon these little tobacco leaf bundles and with gratitude, acknowledged the important role they had played in my life. And, like any other inevitable parting, I gradually said good-bye to my dear friends — not with guilt, hate and disgust, but with grace, appreciation and Love. Through this path, I empowered my stop smoking decision from a place of purposeful choice.

The night I smoked my last cigarette, I made a 72-hour bar graph to mark my progress since this period is particularly critical. The first 24 hours were easy; the next 48 hours were more challenging with physical withdrawal symptoms. I drank lots of water and pure fruit juices. I played with my cigarettes, went outside for breaks, something I discovered I greatly enjoyed and saw no reason to discontinue simply because I had given up the habit that required it, and played with burning cigarettes in an ashtray while I talked on the phone. Simply having the smoke around me was enough to soothe my desire until I no longer needed the burning cigarette ritual. I continued to carry cigarettes and a lighter for 3 more years recognizing that not smoking was always by choice and that if I really wanted a cigarette, I could have one.

While there are now options like nicotine gum available to aid in non-smoking, I did not know of anything but the patch in 1996, and I had seen what those could do to someone’s skin. Having recently begun exploring flower essence therapy, I decided to add some additional self-support with a few select essences. Flower essence therapy was initially discovered by a British physician named Edward Bach and the original flower essence line is still known today as Bach Flower Remedies. Flower essences are the result of infusing a flower’s signature into water primarily via solar heat. This mother tincture is then diluted and potentized and the result preserved with brandy, apple cider vinegar or glycerin. The water molecules become a carrier for the flower’s infused energy signature and these attributes are then delivered to the recipient either orally or topically. In a nutshell, flower essences work with emotional, mental and spiritual components and are a non-invasive and very safe therapy. Flower essence choice is important as effectiveness matches the mutual resonance chord struck between issue and essence. As such, if a non-matching remedy is used, the essence has little if any impact. This aspect of flower essence therapy provides a safety net unheard of with conventional drug therapies, including nicotine substitute options.

Researching with a “stop smoking” focus, I selected four flower essences to form my support community: Nicotiana,
Pine, Holly and Self-Heal. Nicotiana, or Flowering Tobacco, is helpful for cleansing and revivifying the heart forces. Many folks who smoke are sensitive and smoking seems to help ease the powerful feelings and sensations they experience. Other common wounds include the need to move from a survival mode to skillful living and Nicotiana can also help with this. Pine, an original Bach remedy, is indicated for guilt and feelings of inadequacy. Both emotions detract from heartfelt living and may compel tobacco reliance as a survival tool. Holly is a beneficial essence since it supports the heart area and its ability to express and receive love as well as providing an opportunity to gain a transpersonal perspective on love.

Many that smoke have a profound ability to love but this capacity is censored from fear of being hurt or because of perceived early life betrayals. Many cigarette devotees also seem to share a common theme that they are somehow defective. As a result, authentic self-expression and its creative power, heart chakra doctrines, are stifled due to
survival concerns. Holly flower essence can reestablish Self integrity and dissolve this bondage. Self-Heal, an FES Quintessentials flower essence, is a wonderful all-around remedy. It grants strength and connection to our own powerful inner healing components. I recommend this essence for virtually every situation as it supports all other essences in addition to being its own dynamic healing agent. Taken 4 times a day for 12 weeks, these flower essences carried me through this transition.

As I encountered the world nicotine-free and grieved the loss of my friends, a re-integration period was required. Over the course of several months, I engaged another dozen flower essences to assist in various aspects of this process. Some of these included Dogwood, Olive and Dandelion remedies. After 19 years, I still keep a bottle of Five Flower Formula, the equivalent of Dr. Bach’s Rescue Remedy, around for stress and other emotionally-challenging times finding it an effective antidote regardless of the stress source. While there are moments when I consider striking up my friendship with cigarettes again, with the help of flower essences and loving choice, as of today, I still live smoke-free.

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A Wash in Beer

Ah, beer. Who hasn’t heard of this bubbly brew or watched the Superbowl specifically to be entertained by the brewery industry’s commercials. While appealing to a broad spectrum of people, beer is a versatile beverage with a broad range of uses. It makes a tasty marinade, a moist and light bread and, fantastic soap! Yes, soap. Once the alcohol and its drying effects are removed, beer makes a near perfect skin care addition to soap. Since beer is primarily hops, many of this herb’s properties and benefits become a skin cleansing asset when added to soap. The diverse array of beers from micro breweries and distinct contributions from craft breweries add a new dimension to soap crafting options with beer.

Belgian lambic ales bring the richness and nutritional value of fruit to the beer market and when used in soap, these ales transfer these attributes to skin care. Oats, barley and wheat are mineral-rich grains that contribute an array of health promoting benefits to everything they touch, including soap. By adding lambic ales and whole grain beers to soaps, we bypass an otherwise risky bacterial potential and avoid the need for preservatives. Because of the fermentation process used in making beer coupled with the preservative and antibacterial benefits of hops, beer grants our skin the opportunity to directly benefit from these botanical ingredients when it would otherwise be problematic to the soap making process or require preservatives. If an ingredient requires a synthetic preservative to maintain purity, the reason for using “natural soap” is defeated.

In addition to adding flavor to beer, hops makes a relaxing tea. Traditional uses for hops include anti-stress or sedative blends along with sleeping formulas. Beer soap brings some of hops’ relaxing effects to the bathing experience making beer soap a great cleansing choice after a strenuous workout, whether in the gym or the yard. Hops have a slightly sweet fragrance and soaps made with beer initially display a sweet under note because of this. Over time, this fragrance tends to diminish and aroma notes contributed by other ingredients tend to be more dominant. For example, with their fruit additions, lambic ales add a beautiful, rich fruit scent to soaps made with these luscious beers. Fruit beers broaden the soap coloring palette as well so that a framboise or raspberry lambic ale grants a garnet tone to soap. Raspberries are packed with vitamins and minerals and contain ellagic acid, a compound found to have anti-carcinogenic activity on skin cancer cells as well as other cancers. Black currant or cassis lambic ale lends a rich note to bar soap acting as both a distinct coloring agent and fragrance additive. As a healthy skin addition, black currants are packed with anti-oxidants along with Vitamin E and Vitamin C among other nutrients. A robust brown color, oatmeal stout combines the skin soothing benefits of oats with hops’ anti-inflammatory, skin-softening attributes for a gentle, skin-loving wash.

I remember as a teen it was all the rage to wash your hair in beer. Personally, I didn’t much care for the idea since I disliked the smell of Coors, the only beer I was familiar with at the time. When I began exploring beer soap, however, I decided a beer shampoo bar was definitely in order. Once an appropriate ale was selected, it was time to formulate the soap recipe. For its moisturizing and small, tight bubble attributes, an abundance of castor oil figures prominently along with jojoba & wheat germ oils for their hair & skin care attributes. Since hair is made of protein, silk fibers are a nutrient additive and lend a helping hand to lather. Finally the bar is enriched with kukui nut oil, rich in essential fatty acids and noted for its hair care benefits. The resulting beer-based shampoo is a great scalp conditioning, dense-lathering bar soap that works equally well whenever a thick lather is desired, such as with shaving. Skin also benefits from this soap with its silky lather and skin-loving ingredients.

None of these skin care applications are possible without first removing the alcohol content from the beer. Not only does alcohol inhibit the chemical reaction necessary to the soap making process, it also dries the skin. This necessary extra step makes beer soap more labor intensive. While most soap makers simply substitute beer for the water portion of a soap formula and add lye to the beer, I found this method to be risky for the very reasons I wanted beer as an ingredient — the nutrients, fragrance and color. After a bit of research, I developed my own modified technique for making beer soap. Since the soap from my test batch made with a framboise lambic ale carried a noticeable fruit note and retained tones distinct to its beer base, the technique was deemed successful. This technique is now employed in all my beer soap making.

While nearly any beer can be mixed into soap, I prefer working with beers that have either ingredients beneficial to skin care or strong, unique fragrances I don’t otherwise have access to in a natural form — I never use synthetic fragrance oils in my soap. Rich colors and strong scented beers assure these treasured elements have a high probability of withstanding the soap making process. Beer soap is a wonderful cleansing and moisturizing experience…and a beer lover’s dream come true. What an inconspicuous, unique way to add health supporting characteristics to your skin care regimen — or celebrate a special occasion with someone’s favorite beer in a bar soap.

Cheers!

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FAQ

How is your soap made?
Our bar soap is made using the cold-process method of soap making. This involves transforming vegetable oils and butters into soap through a chemical reaction process called “saponification”. Saponification occurs when the fatty acids in oils and butters come into contact with sodium hydroxide (i.e., lye). Every bar of genuine soap is made this way, whether the soap is made by a cottage industry soapmaker or a corporation.

This is my first experience with handmade soap; what differences might I notice?
For many people, their skin has adapted to the detergent bars sold in stores and it will feel quite different after using real soap. The most common difference I’ve heard about is due to the fact that the mass-market detergent bars actually dry out the skin by stripping off the skin’s natural oils.

The skin needs a certain amount of oil to protect it from environmental pollutants. Because of the detergent bar’s stripping action, a person’s skin may overproduce oil to compensate for the harsh drying effect. Thus, many people consider themselves to have “oily” skin. For those with “dry” skin, the skin’s natural oil production mechanism has been unable to adequately adapt and thus, the skin can actually feel quite dry as a result of the synthetic-laced bath bar, especially during the winter months.

Changing environmental factors can also cause the skin to require more water in order to remain hydrated and this translates into more water intake — healthy skin is an inside as well as outside job. To support and supplement this action, nutrient-rich body butters and lotions can provide extended skin-contact and deliver concentrated nutrients to the chosen skin areas. The combination of water intake and quality body butters can do wonders for many skin condition.

Our soap is naturally one-third glycerin and two-thirds soap.  With the naturally gentle soap and glycerin elements intact in real soap, a bar’s potential drying out effect tends to be minimized or non-existent depending on the oil blend used to produce the soap.

When initially changing over to natural soap after years of using mass-market detergent bars, the skin can go through a transitional period where it seems to feel oily after bathing. since the skin’s oil-producing mechanism is self-adjusting, it may take some time for this protective activity to downgrade the compensating oil production and rebalance itself. For most people, this generally occurs within 10 days though each body is an individual organism and other variables can influence the exact timeframe.

Changing from mass-market shampoos to natural shampoo bars has consistently shown a longer adjustment period, from 2 to 4 weeks. However, my hair has never felt so soft or looked so healthy as when I changed from commercial shampoos to my Bubbles & Locks shampoo bar (discontinued). The transition period was inconvenient as I had to wash my long hair everyday; but once I got through this 10 days, I was glad I followed through.

My husband experienced the oil overproduction effect when he changed from commercial detergent bars to my handcrafted, all-natural soap. It took about two weeks of using Sacred Showers soaps before his skin balanced itself out. Now he no longer has “oily” skin, a “condition” he thought he had his entire life. In hindsight, it seems evident that the detergent bars he was using (which shall remain nameless here 🙂 were stripping his skin of its natural oil, and in an effort to protect itself from external environmental factors, his skin began compensating with heavy oil production.

Is one Sacred Showers soap better as a facial bar than another?
I personally use every Sacred Showers formula on my face as well as my body. However, everyone is unique so as in most of life, experimentation is sometimes helpful to find what suits an individual best. Consider sampling a few small bars if you want to target a specific personal situation or email us for suggestions. Some soaps I would consider for a facial bar would be Fabulous Skin! or Silhouette which I recently designed as a face soap with botanical teas and infusions.

If you prefer an unscented soap as a facial bar, consider Simple Pleasures or Whispers. Several people have commented that they enjoy using Honey Tree as a facial and/or shaving bar.

None of my soaps are classified according to skin type. Everyone’s skin is different and often changes from season to season — this is “normal.” Life is a dynamic event.  Accordingly, our soaps are formulated to be balanced and adaptive for changing conditions rather than targeting isolated conditions.

Targeting isolated components merely requires you, the user, to purchase more specialty soaps for different body areas. Because of how we formulate our soaps, each one may actually be used as a shampoo, body or shaving bar; personal preferences will dictate actual usage. You may find one soap is more comfortable to use during one season and another soap formula feels better during another season. As with any skin care product, however, if irritation develops, discontinue use.

Tell us a little about the ingredients in the Sacred Showers soaps and how a bar is developed.
Our bar soaps are naturally produced and never tested on animals.

Additives such as clays, nut meals, honey, herbal tinctures and herbs are cosmetic or food grade. We use high quality and vibrantly dynamic flower essences, the FES Quintessentials and Healing Herbs lines, which provide distinct qualities and lend energetic support to a blend.

Fragrances are frequently derived from essential oils which contribute an aromatherapy element as well as many having distinct skin care properties. Finally, we consider vegetable oil and butter profiles in relation to the soap’s concept and identity.  Most soap coloring is naturally derived from its ingredients. Thus, many bars are similar in color.  Other bars contain herbal coloring.  At this time, Fall, 2013, this is the extent of our color collection though we are exploring mineral colorants. Soap Cakes may contain a small amount of FD&C colorants.

The soap formula is then designed and the soap making process undertaken. The creative expression is executed with all soap making elements purposely administered to create a synergistic soap bar that will provide an enhanced bathing experience complimentary to both body and soul — holistically formulated & crafted.

Care is taken to enhance the very best attributes of each soap ingredient during the blending process, including attention to environmental factors. We think this carefully orchestrated methodology results in a noticeable difference in the bathing experience.

After more than ten years of sharing our soaps with customers, family, friends, I think it is safe to say everyone agrees — there’s nothing else like a shower with Sacred Showers Handcrafted Soap, Holistically Formulated & Crafted — for the benefit of everyone, including the planet!

I sincerely THANK YOU for visiting our web site & considering Sacred Showers Handcrafted Soap.