Karen's Essentials

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It has been a minute since I have posted almost 2 months; I have missed writing and missed interacting with you all. As you may remember I started a new job in October I put a lot of pressure on myself to keep all the balls in the air and well obviously it didn’t work. So to make a very long story short I am back. I know we have all been inundated with Resolutions, Declarations and all the other things that we usually give up on by February. My focus this year is a little different I no longer want to live in doubt or fear of the unknown. Here is a break down of what God has allowed me to see throughout this year.

  • I started this blog March 1, 2017- I allowed fear and doubt to keep me from launching earlier I doubted anyone would be interested in what I had to say. To date, my blog has had almost 5,100 hits.  I hadn’t looked at my stats since November I was so encouraged to see the level of engagement even with a two-month hiatus. This has fueled me to keep taking chances and sharing my experiences in hopes it would encourage others. The encouragement you guys have given me through your comments, emails and sharing my blog with your friends has been amazing.
  • My children-even when they go through tough seasons either from their own doing or due to circumstances beyond their control. I have decided to encourage more and lecture less, to wait to hear from God before I speak so I won’t resort to guilting or shaming. I can always pray. I can always be available without judgment or damnation instead exercise grace and love.  I can trust that the same God that has/is working on me and is still working on my children. Most importantly I can move out of God’s way and allow Him to move in their hearts.
  • New job-I am learning to not let fear and doubt cause me to question my decisions. To leave a job after 14 years to do something vastly different is a huge deal, but in my mind the transition would be smooth  (why did I think that). There is a lot to learn, how am I going to remember it all, this is too hard I can’t (all the conversations I have had with myself).  I refused to give into it. My co-workers have been super supportive and encouraging they have said we have all been there you’re doing great. I would take two steps forward and ten back as it relates to my confidence. Guess what? You don’t actually die from being uncomfortable, and unsure. I am getting it and feel more at ease daily still overwhelmed at times but I know it’s a process.
  • My Plan- to stop allowing fear and doubt to hold me back. Reading my devotion on the First 5 App a few weeks ago stopped me in my tracks. The question: Does unbelief ever hinder God’s work in your life? Oh my goodness! Really Lord? I have struggled with decision making lately; is this…God’s will for my life. To be honest I have never felt quite sure what His will is for my life. The writer referenced  James 1:6-7 Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry” their prayers’ are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open (The Message). This passage was like a bucket of cold water a reality check of sorts.

Trust me I still struggle with exercising, eating healthy, making time for self-care and all the other obligatory New Year’s resolutions; but all those things pale in comparison to living with confidence in what God is equipping me to do. Remembering He is with me and He wants me to be Strong and Courageous in every area of my life. I have to stop throwing my hands up when things don’t line up the way I thought they should but to keep pushing, and striving and trusting God!

I am thankful to look back on 2017 remembering the many challenges of being a wife, mother, daughter, employee, blogger and future entrepreneur. What has encouraged me the most has honestly been the times that I did “it” scared and God was whispering I got you keep going. I can’t let the noise of doubt drown out God’s plan for my life.

Do you struggle with doubt? Worry? What are your plans for 2018?

 

 

Depression is not a topic that is frequently talked about; let’s face it mental health particularly depression is not a feel good topic. When talked about it can be awkward and uncomfortable at best.  Most of us have felt deep sadness; the death of a loved one, a breakup, the state of the world you name it we all have felt sadness. What do we do when it’s more than sadness?

I have been seeing a therapist weekly for the past several months; my initial reason for going was to continue working through the many phases of healing from my childhood trauma. I couldn’t figure out what was triggering flash backs, anxiety and just feeling very sad. I certainly didn’t think I was suffering from depression but after further digging through my counseling sessions I was diagnosed with moderate depression.  During my sessions I spent more time talking about the hopelessness I felt at my former job than my past trauma.

Things were complicated and I didn’t want to believe that my job was making me sick; so much of what was happening, I had absolutely no control over (which took me back to that little girl who was victimized so long ago). I hated feeling like I had no control, it was like a heavy weight that was dragging me down.

I could not wrap my mind around this but if I am being honest I knew the situation wasn’t healthy for me but I bargained, talked myself out of leaving it was a constant battle for years. Now, 30 days later and a new job I am a lot more cautious; not timid or anxious but firm when drawing the boundary lines of work and personal. I feel so much lighter, like this burden is slowly being lifted.    Once again learning to Relax, Relate Release (in my Whitley Gilbert voice).

Possible signs of depression:

The persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest that characterizes major depression can lead to a range of behavioral and physical symptoms. These may include changes in sleep, appetite, energy level, concentration, daily behavior, or self-esteem. Depression can also be associated with thoughts of suicide.

I experienced fatigue, I had a hard time sleeping,  trouble concentrating, mindless eating just feeling BLAH! I never felt suicidal but I did feel hopeless, angry and agitated. I am sharing all of this in hopes that someone will be encouraged to seek help if they are dealing with depression.

As women we wear many hats, as caregivers for our spouses, children, parents we are employees, business owners, etc., if you are anything like me you keep it moving because life doesn’t stop.  This season has taught me to slow down and take personal inventory of where I am, emotionally and not to just brush off what may be brewing under the surface. I thank God for leading me to an awesome therapist (who happens to be a Christian). My prayer was to find a good fit, not some weirdo (which I have had in the past) or someone that was super aggressive, and pushy. Kristin has been a Godsend.

Have you ever experienced depression? Did you see a therapist?

I was very hesitant to share this post I started writing this several months ago but just couldn’t hit publish. I was nervous how it would be received;  but tonight the timing feels right.

 

Mielle Organics 5 Product Review

Sally’s Beauty Supply had a sale awhile back on Mielle Organics; and I purchased 5 of their products. Most of the products I have used multiple times (more than twice) to give a thorough review of each.

Mielle Organics White Peony Leave-In Conditioner $15.99

 

White Peony Leave-In Conditioner $15.99 https://mielleorganics.com/collections/leave-in-conditioners/products/organic-white-peony-ultra-moisturizing-leave-in-conditioner

is a light weight leave in with a soft floral clean scent; it comes in a spray bottle but the consistency is like that of a thin lotion. Since this product is very light I used it to refresh my curls, or to re-wet my hair while styling instead of just plain water. The second ingredient in this product is glycerin which if not used carefully can cause dryness. When I used this product as a refresher I would layer a light oil on top which helped to seal in the moisture and I had no issues with dryness. When I used the leave in to re-wet my hair while styling I also had no dryness I used a styler on top (either a gel, or twisting butter etc.,)  I wouldn’t repurchase this product because it was just too light.

 

Mielle Organics Avocado Hair Milk $15.99

The Avocado Hair Milk $15.99 https://mielleorganics.com/collections/hair-moisturizers/products/avocado-moisturizing-hair-milk

is marketed as a moisturizer but I used it as a leave in. The hair milk also has glycerin pretty high up on the ingredients list but because it contains so many oils and butters I wasn’t concerned about my hair being dry, in fact my hair felt very soft and moisturized. The scent is a tropical coconut smell that is pleasant and not overpowering. The texture is thicker than the White Peony leave in not super thick. The product absorbed easily into my hair and played well with stylers. I would repurchase to use during the warmer months when I normally use a lighter leave in.

Mielle Organics Brazilian Curly Cocktail Curl Cream $13.99

Brazilian Curly Cocktail Curl Cream with Babassu Oil $13.99 https://mielleorganics.com/collections/brazilian-curly-cocktail/products/brazilian-curl-cream

The Curl Cream has a lotion consistency slightly thicker than the Avocado milk, the scent is sweet but I can’t really describe what it smells like (not my favorite scent). I used this product to refresh my curls as a moisturizer or to seal my ends. I liked this product most as a sealer. I liked this product, but it didn’t wow me, after I use it  up I probably will not repurchase.

 

Mielle Organics Honey & Ginger Styling Gel $11.99

Honey & Ginger Styling Gel https://mielleorganics.com/collections/styling/products/honey-ginger-styling-gel

I am a self professed “Gel Snob”, when it comes to gel I like what I like. My absolute favorite Gel is Uncle Funky’s Daughter Curly Magic Curl Stimulator! In my opinion it is the best gel ever (for my hair). I prefer a gel that has a lot of slip that glides on the hair, I want the gel to be slimly or snotty if you will (yep snotty), my gel of choice must have a decent amount of hold while allowing my hair to still have movement and it must be moisturizing. I know I am asking a lot but…that’s what a good gel is to me for optimal results.

Now that I have given you all of that back ground lets’ talk about this gel. It does offer slip, it is slimy,  moisturizing but it offers very little hold and glycerin is high up on the ingredient list. I used the gel to do a wash n go twice and a twist out. The wash n go’s were super fluffy,  and soft and lasted maybe 2 days each time; the twist was better because I used it along with another styler. I can make this product work in conjunction with other stylers. I typically don’t like to “make” hair products work, since this product didn’t leave my hair hard or dry it’s doable. I would not repurchase this gel again but I will work through it to use it up.

 

Mielle Organics Mint Almond Oil $13.99

Mielle Organics Mint Almond Oil $13.99 https://mielleorganics.com/collections/hair-oils/products/mint-almond-oil

The Mint Almond oil is a light oil that didn’t weigh my hair down nor did it leave my hair feeling greasy. The website lists the ingredients: Almond Oil, Soybean Oil and Peppermint oil as the only ingredients but the actual bottle list glycerin as the first ingredient and the other 3 ingredients mentioned.  Not sure why you need glycerin in an oil. This oil was just okay for me, I don’t use oil regularly on my hair I actually prefer something thicker (butters or pomades) Oyin Handmade’s Whipped Pudding, Burnt Sugar Pomande, Camille Rose’s Curlaide Moisture Butter to name a few. I wouldn’t repurchase this oil.

To wrap up, none of these products wowed me, having said that  I didn’t think any of the products were terrible either. To be fair I didn’t read the ingredients before I purchased them and didn’t realize they all contained glycerin; which if not used wisely can prove to be problematic. I don’t totally avoid glycerin but I don’t use a lot of products that contain glycerin or at least not at the top of ingredients lists. Mielle stand out product for me is still the Babassu Oil Mint Deep conditioner Review Mielle Organics Babassu Oil Mint Deep Conditioner

Have you tried any of these Mielle Products? If so what was your experience using them?  What are your favorites from the brand? Do you have a go to hair product line?

I know I have been missing in action the past few weeks; I have been in a constant flux of transition which has me in deep thought, and very contemplative. As it seems I am transitioning in almost every area of my life I wanted to share what I am learning about myself.

  • Being too comfortable leads to complacency and self-doubt. I started to question every decision I made and I knew I needed to do something to challenge myself and to step out on faith. I made the very difficult decision to leave my old job of almost 14 years; I gave myself a deadline and if I hadn’t found a new job I was still leaving. GULP. That was scary and my self-doubt went into over drive! I did find another job rather quickly after I made up my mind I was leaving my old job no matter what. I am super excited to be starting a new chapter, but I knew I needed time to process the reasons I had to leave and also process why I stayed so long.  I was STUCK!  It is all very complex to say the least.

 

  • In this new season I am learning that fear isn’t a bad thing when it comes to making changes or challenging yourself to new things. I haven’t started a new job in over 16 years ( I was a stay at home mom for a few years) but I am doing it SCARED! I am learning something new about myself daily and I like it, even when I am frustrated or feeling doubtful I am also filled with anticipation to see where God will lead me next. I have told myself even if it turns out this isn’t a perfect fit that’s okay too I can begin again. I have learned that I must always have boundaries in every area of my life with my job, ministry, and family. (especially work)

 

  • My son turned 18 today! The time is going by so fast it takes my breath away.  We have spent 17 birthday’s with him as a family but this birthday he wanted to go out to dinner with just his friends. OUCH!  I would be lying if I said that it didn’t sting a little  (well a lot)! Transition. Aaron will be graduating from high school this year and onto Culinary school. We can see the finish line to the empty nest season  WOO HOO!  I am filled with mixed  emotion though, at times I want to savor every moment while also imagining a time with just me and Michael NO KIDS. Aaron is the youngest, hard to believe we have gone through this process twice and it hasn’t gotten any easier.

 

  • The last few months our parents (my mom and Michael’s dad) have had some health challenges which makes us increasingly aware that our aging parents need us more. I don’t know if you have every looked at your parents and realize they are visibly getting older and may need you to remind them that they are still valuable even if they can’t do what they used to physically, that you still need them and you value their wisdom.

I am learning that Goodbye’s aren’t always bad and Hello’s can be super scary! I am embracing this new season with all it’s turns, pot holes,  and surprises as I anticipate what the Lord is showing me and leaning into the new assignment He has given me.

Goodbye and Hello…TRANSITION

Are you in a season of transition? What are you learning through the process?

I have a lot planned for the blog in the next few weeks stay tuned!

What are some topics you would like see?  What would you like to see more of? Sound off in the comment section!

 

 

It is no secret that Fab Fit Fun is my favorite subscription box; $49 is a great value for a box that has beauty products, skin care, fashion, and fitness related products in each box.

FFF supports global causes;  the fall box is supporting UNICEF USA-Every Child Has the Right to an Education. There is an article in the newsletter that they send with each box detailing how “we” can support this cause by donating to UNICEF so that children around the world can go to school. http://unicefusa.org

Fab Fit Fun Fall 2017 Value $377-$392

 

Mer-Sea Scarf $98

Mer-Sea Scarf $98; I received it in gray, the scarf is super soft, cozy and very versatile. The scarf can be  worn as a wrap or a regular scarf, they also suggest using it as a bed runner. Mer-Sea & CO teamed up with http://water.org, a charity with a mission to make clean water available  to women and their families in developing countries.

 

 

The JETSET DIARIES Beanie $49

FFF gives you an option to add a fashion boost for an additional $10 I added the Jetset Diaries Beanie a $49 value. The beanie also came in the color Rose (which I was hoping for) the hat is well made its light weight but still seems to be pretty warm. Beanies are perfect for me in the fall when I am wearing twist (otherwise my hair won’t fit under most hats).

 

Private Party Gym Bag $59

Private Party Gym Bag $59 this bag is adorable! The denim bag features, cotton handles an outside zipper compartment and an inner open pocket for all of your necessities.

B-LOW The Belt Mia Belt $55

The B-LOW the Belt Mia Belt $55, is made of 100% synthetic leather and features a round buckle hardware. This is my least favorite item in the box the belt looks like faux leather and isn’t worth $55 in my opinion.

IMM Living Wire Heart Ceramic Jewelry Holder $33

IMM Living Wire Heart Ceramic Jewelry Holder $33 this rose gold and porcelain minimalistic jewelry holder can also be used as a desktop accessory to keep all of your knick knacks in place.

MOLR Organic Carbon + Coconut Teeth Whitening Powder and Toothbrush $43.95

 

I  had a choice of Teeth whitening powder or Apple Cider Vinegar Hair rinse (at no additional cost) I choose the MOLR Organic Carbon + Coconut Teeth Whitening Powder $43.95.

This toothbrush set uses the power of activated charcoal to clean and whiten teeth as it binds teeth-staining pests like wine, coffee and plaque. I absolutely love this; I have been using activated charcoal to gently and safely whiten my teeth off and on for about a year. The charcoal doesn’t stain your teeth, and since the charcoal is derived from organic coconuts it is safe to use. Using Charcoal is a bit messy but its so worth it. As an added bonus the toothbrush bristles are black so no staining. Side note: turmeric mixed with coconut oil also makes a great paste to naturally whiten your teeth.

MYTAGALONGS Hot & Cold Gel Pack $15

MYTAGALONGS Hot & Cold Gel Pack $15 this hot and cold pack is perfect for soothing any aches and pains. Freeze or heat the gel pack for needed relief. The gel pack is such a practical item to have without the mess of ice when you need something cold to soothe a boo boo.

DECO MIAMI Lavender Cuticle Oil $12.50

DECO MIAMI Lavender Cuticle Oil $12.50 a nourishing blend of vitamins and organic oils (argon oil and bamboo extract) are combined to moisturize and soften the cuticle bed of your nails. This oil is lovely it penetrates very quickly without leaving my hands feeling greasy and the scent is heavenly.  My neglected cuticles are looking and feeling much better.

TRESTIQUE Matte Color & Shiny Balm Lip Crayon $28

Tre’StiQue Matte Color & Shiny Balm Lip Crayon $28 in Tuscan Wine & Syrah Balm this handy 2-n-1 product that features a creamy, lightweight lip color crayon with a natural matte finish, and a BB lip balm for added shine and moisture. You guys know how I feel about “red” lips on me but this one I think I may be able to pull off. The formula on both the matte side and the lip balm are very comfortable.

WHISH BEAUTY Renewing Mud Mask $48

Which Beauty Renewing Mud Mask $48 this mud mask features natural ingredients like bentonite clay, allow, and rosehip oil to reveal smoother, softer skin while slowing down the aging process (the claims). I love a good mud mask  for my normal to combination skin this mask boast great natural ingredients I can’t wait to try it.

My Fab Fit Fun box total value was $392 for only $49! My FFF link is listed below if you would like to sign up! I receive no commission only a credit towards my next box. FFF  gives $10 off your first box.

http://xo.fff.me/gICU4

Are there any subscription boxes that you are interested in and would like me to try out and review?