30 November 2015

10 Sustainable Gifts For Your Spiritual Someone

Shameless plug (sigh) but I gotta do it, since discovering Palo Santo last year, my husfriend and I have become slightly obsessed. This magical wood has been used by the Incas and indigenous people of the Andes for centuries and is often used by Shamans in sacred plant spirit ceremonies such as Ayahuasca. It is used for energy cleansing and healing in a similar way to sage, the smoke omitted from this natural aromatic wood enhances creativity and prepares you for meditation, it is traditionally used for relieving common colds, flu, stress, asthma, headaches, anxiety, depression, inflammation, and emotional pain. It also has the added bonus of keeping away mosquitoes!
It is sustainably wild harvested by a family that has planted over 30,000 trees back into the area over the last 10 years. The wood comes from naturally fallen tree branches, which lie dead for 4-10 years before they are harvested.   

I’ve not had the pleasure of visiting Thich Nhat Hanh’s Mindfulness Centre, Plum Village, here in France - but my partner has, and the light in his eyes when he describes his time there makes me believe it is a magical and healing place. I have been to one of his Wake Up! Groups here in Paris and London, and read his book: How To Sit last year in an effort to deepen my meditation practice. My sister, who is a yoga teacher, highly recommends the entire Mindfulness Essentials Series of how-to titles. Each one is simply written, wisdomful and enjoyable, introducing beginners and reminding seasoned practitioners of the essentials of mindfulness practice. 
ECO HOW? Thich Nhat Hanh’s books are printed on recycled paper and I read that the profits from sales of the books go to the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation.

My first Christmas with my partner he gave me one of these as a gift, it is a beautifully meditative and creative object which creates a form of cathartic communication between your heart, mind and soul, expressed though artwork which can not be judged by you or any other (as it simply doesn’t last long enough to!). It is one of those rare gifts that can be given to any human of any age, gender or nationality.
ECO HOW? While there are some plastic components (the try and the brush hairs are synthetic), they are created from recycled materials. All the other components are made from natural materials and there is no ink, no paint and no chemicals. It is also endlessly reusable, so zero waste comes from your creations.

One thing that always gets my knickers in a twistare yogi’s who don’t use eco friendly/ethically produced products during their practice. If you know a newby yogi or an oldby yogi who is looking to purchase any yogi things, there are two great brands who respect the earth and her inhabitants: Barefoot Yoga (Europe) & Manduka (U.S/Canada
ECO HOW? The items pictured in this Eco Yoga Package include a Hybrid Eco Mat, which is composed exclusively of all-natural rubber and hute fiber. There are no chemical additives used. The Eco Yoga Blocks pictured are made form sustainable wood. And the Mexican Blanket is made with recycled yarn
WHERE TO BUY? Barefoot Yoga (Europe) & Manduka (U.S/Canada

The first Christmas my partner and I spent together I purchased one of these mala bracelets for him from etsy without contacting the artisan in advance. In my checkout message, I asked him if he would be open to adding a few healing stones that I felt would benefit my husfriend. The owner, Jorge, wrote back the most loving and encouraging email I’ve ever received from a human, and we designed the bracelet together. Two years later, we’re still in touch, my partner wore the bracelet every day for two years and the chord had finally stretched out. Jorge offered to replace the chord with a new eco friendly long lasting material he has since found, for free, just because he’s a kind soul loving soul. This has been, and continues to be the most heartfelt and continuously loving gift I have ever bought or given.
ECO HOW? On top of just being an amazing human Jorge uses eco friendly components in his designs and delivers each mala inside an organic hemp drawstring pouch (to raise awareness about hemp’s endless applications). He even mails the purchase in a 100% recycled paper.

A lovely moon calendar graphic which captures the waxing and waning cycles of the moon, keeping you in touch with the cycles to come.
ECO HOW? This piece of art is printed on eco friendly acid free paper which is 100% post-consumer fibre, processed, chlorine free and FSC recycled. The ink used to print is a low impact vegetable based ink.

To follow up on my previous panties in a knot comment, practicing yoga in clothing made neither ecologically, nor ethically, does not the highest expression of ones enlightenment make. So step away from the Forever 21s & Lulu Lemons of the world and embrace some thoughtful threads instead.
ECO HOW? Ethically and Ecologically produced, Threads For Thought has pretty impressive production methods that are both Ethically and Ecologically minded. To top it off, they are philanthropic too with their New Roots giveback.
WHERE TO BUY? Threads For Thought (some others I like are: OmGirl, Solowstyle, CozyOrange)

Tea, as nature intended it. My friend Jimmy who has a beautiful farm-to-table restaurant in London, called La Ferme, recently discovered this brand. He was the first to introduce me to the benefits of dried Lavender tea, and the luck given in gifting it. The health and spiritual benefits of natural tea are bountiful and Le Benefique does it perfectly.
ECO HOW? Their packaging is completely recycled and the products are ethically sourced from the nature itself, in France.

Both sun catchers and dream catchers are beautiful gifts to give and receive. It is better to buy these two objects in person if possible from within the community which you or your loved one belong. Dreamcatchers specifically should be bought from someone who creates them traditionally, or made by hand yourself using recycled/upcycled materials and found feathers, to be given as a gift but not sold. 
ECO HOW? Indigenous peoples have had an eco and ethical ethos in their spiritual and artistic creations since the beginning of time, which is one of many reasons buying a traditional dreamcatcher (not one from urban outfitters/free people) is important. Proper sun catching prisms are made out of natural materials from the earth and thus, should be eco friendly by nature.
WHERE TO BUY? This website has links through to a number of websites selling traditional dreamcathers http://www.native-languages.org/dreamcatchers.htm - sun catchers you will find in your local hippy shop. 

Whether you buy bath salts or make them yourself, they make a great gift, a handful in the bath will infuse the water with minerals for the body to absorb, offering physical and spiritual benefits a plenty.
ECO HOW? Herbivore’s ingredients are all natural and ethically sourced and their packaging is sustainable.
WHERE TO BUY? http://www.herbivorebotanicals.com/products/dead-sea-bath-salts


I was recently welcomed into the Ethical Blogger's Network and a number of the amazing humans involved in this community have created great gift guide's as well:

Ellie & Elizabeth from Dress Well, Do Good's 'Gifts For Kids Under 10 &
Jen, Shara & Janelle from Style & Purse's 'Men's Ethical Gift Guide'

24 November 2015

Portfoilo: Harper's Bazaar China

Upon our arrival back to Paris from the U-S of A, my husfriend got a call from his buddy Julien Carlier who had been hired to make a giggle inducing satire of a fashion video for Harper's Bazaar China, starring the gorgeous Patricia Zajacova

The handsome pair came up with a number of funny scenarios for their shot list titled, Cover Letter, and lovely Patricia graciously played along with them while they shot their beautiful but boisterous scenes.

After it was all said and done, and the boys had played around with the edit, they invited me (mainly due to the few feet away that I sat from them, Shane being my husfriend and Julien being my buddy ole pal) to jump in and help them write / do the voiceover which would accompany the film. Which I happily agreed to. 

Above is the full video, but below are links to both the boys websites, if you've got time for a quick creep around I highly recommend it. 

Julien Carlier: http://juliencarlier.com/


Much of my words from the original submission were edited to fit the readers of this publication. You'll find the story, as it was written, below under it's original title: 'Cries Of War'.

A link to the published story in San Antonio's independent online publication, Rivard Report can be found HERE.


It’s now been a week since the attacks on Paris, the place my San Antonian husband has called home for the past 12 years. A place I more recently named my home.

The news has been alight with action film-esqe captures of the attackers alleged to have caused the horrific tragedy so recently passed. The rash President of the Republique, like the Bush who burned before him, speaks words familiar. Sends bombs. Wages war.

But there are no celebrations here. Unmoved, Parisians react with ambivalence.

They’re not naïve enough to think the captures of these criminals will change anything. It certainty won’t bring back the lives lost, nor prevent similar horrors from occurring. Nor are they naïve enough to think small men with big bombs will fix their problems either.

So they lay flowers, light candles, and quietly, with sorrow and defiance in their eyes, celebrate life again. As they always have and always will. Their solidarity stated in unity from freshly painted walls throughout the city “Fluctuat Nec Mergitur” it reads, “tossed by the waves but not sunk”.

But the world does not follow suit. The media sensationalises. And on the walls of a world in which people hide their faces behind photos hued in red, white and blue, a different reaction ensues, fuelled by the very impulse of ignorance and hatred, which reaped death on these streets.

They blame Refugees (those who flee their home country due to heinous acts of terror) and Muslims (1.57 billion people who couldn't possibly "all be terrorists" or "we" would all be very extinct) for these acts of terror, and in their reactive generalizations, they support the very fear, hatred and violence they attempt to condemn. Ignorantly, they promote the next tragedy. Ignorantly, they feed the anger resting inside the dormant souls of those who commit crimes like these.

Directly disrespecting the lives lost, they use a tragedy they don’t understand as a platform for their heightened racism and dehumanization. Conclusive chatter which insults the very beliefs the majority of the lives lost here fought for and believed in.

“WAR” the close-minded shout, with sinful wrath burning in their bellies, suffocating their souls.

“WAR” they cry again, forgetting, these tragedies, though horrific, are reactions amplified and provoked by the wars we as a Western world wage.

Forgetting that if one allows their heart to fill with hatred and their soul to fill with wrath, one becomes no better, nor worse, than those who seek to destroy the peace and freedom these cries of “WAR” claim to protect.

That they have learned to think like those they so venomously hate.

For they’ve fed from the same fires of terror, death and darkness.

For they have become very much the same.

23 November 2015

Guest Post: 11 Eco/Ethical Holiday Gifts For The Whole Family

I did up a little gift guide for at Bon Joy Box, an amazing quarterly subscription box that features fashion, beauty and living goods from brands who support employment and restoration for women who are survivors of, or at-risk for, trafficking and exploitation. 

Each of the items listed has been purchased by me in the recent past for someone I love and comes highly recommended as great gift choices.

Here is a link to the story:

19 November 2015

Ally Bee: A Labour Of Love

Noble fibres, a gift from gracious grazers who inhabit the southern pastures of a kingdom not forgotten, create the foundation of a garment so beautifully pure and loving it acts as an amorous armour to the outside world.

Gathered while the earth is in full bloom these fibres are cleansed and spun before being sent north to be knit in a way most traditional.

Undyed yet exploding in a spectrum of 22 arrangements of browns, beiges and greys, they leave but a small train of un-tainted water behind them.

Their natural state invites them to return to the earth from which they sprung when the garments they’re soon to become have lived a full life.

The process leaves waste wanting, as every inch of fibre is respected and appreciated in a way long forgotten by most.

The alpaca who donate these fibers are nature’s perfect lawnmower, ‘ruminants’ they’re called, who eat less than most other domesticated animals. To mistreat these conscious creatures would mean certain death to any business who hopes to benefit from their generous gifts, as these sociable creatures become physically ill and their soft fleece hardens, without the love and companionship of other alpacas and respect from their owners. They need happiness to create.

The combination of these limited but meaningful steps of cradle to cradle creation, make each AllyBee item, and others of its kind, privy to a kind of love most garments will never know. Which as Dr. Masaru Emoto suggested with his water molecules experiment, might produce results you could have never imagined.

16 November 2015

[Thoughts From Paris P2] Why Francoise Hollande's Swift Strikes On Syria Are Deplorable

I came home from a day out in Paris last night. Throughout the day people shared their empathy and sadness for what happened.

On our way home we found a number of police cars and men in full combat gear blocking off a street near our apartment, so when we got home I looked online to see if there had been another shooting.

There hadn’t been.


What I did find was that France had announced (LESS THAN 48 HOURS after the attacks) that they’ve launched their first air strikes in Syria (allegedly to ‘protect’ France and Syrian civilians).

My stomach dropped and anger rose.

It is important to understand that throughout this experience anger has not been a part of my emotions, nor the emotions of both strangers and friends I've encountered since the event. No one I spoke to this weekend had any angry words towards Syria, any other country. They talked about the problem our western world has created and how we need to find a more loving way to solve it. But they didn't speak positively of war. 

Those who were killed in this horrific event lived in a neighbourhood of educated forward thinkers with peace and empathy on their minds, not war.

Using this event as an excuse for further violence is deplorable.

This is France’s first  strike on Syria. In his speech announcing the air strikes, Francois Hollande admitted that on November 7th (less than a week before the shootings in Paris) the French government did a reconnaissance mission to stake out their target. Which is a weird thing to do nearly a year after the Charlie Hebdo attack (if he could turn around strikes on Syria in less than 48 hours after an attack, he certainty could have done so in January when the original attacks on the city took place … if he was so worried about the safety of his people and Syrian civilians).

Coincidently U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to launch a new initiative for a political solution in Syria during meetings in New York this week.

This retaliation has nothing to do with humanitarian hopes nor the development of democracy, at best it is a wrath filled retaliation no better, nor worse than the atrocities that happened here ... either way it is drenched in the $c€nt of a little $om€thing called oil.

As of yet, there have been zero Parisians rallying in response to the terror reaped on their own land, but I suspect, in the next week, you’ll see a response to Francois Hollande’s sneaky decisions and quick actions, as he deepens his involvement with the dark powers who sneak around behind the guise of war.

14 November 2015

Some Thoughts From Paris

Since waking up this morning I've seen people on Twitter and on my Facebook feed blaming Refugees (those who flee their come country due to heinous acts of terror) and Muslims (1.57 billion people who couldn't possibly "all be terrorists" or "we" would all be very extinct) for these acts of terror, an ignorant and reactive generalization, which supports fear, hatred and violence. The very acts we all wish to condemn.

I think I can speak for the majority here in France (a country which built its unity on brotherhood "fraternite") when I say it does not serve the lives lost to use this tragedy as a platform for racism and dehumanization. If it were me who passed away - I would find conclusive chatter such as this insulting and un-serving of a future I believed was possible.

This kind of impulse won't prevent another tragedy like this from occurring. It only feeds the anger resting inside the souls of those who commit these crimes.

Peace is what the majority of this world wants. But war comes at a price for everyone, including the aggressor. These tragedies, though horrific, are reactions amplified and provoked by the wars we as a Western world wage.

If we think new wars and aggressivity will snuff out the hatred directed at “us”, last night’s familiar tragedy is proof of the fallacy of that reaction.

Wars and agressivity breed further war and agressivity on both sides. If we allow our hearts to fill with hatred and our souls to fill with wrath, we become neither better, nor worse than those who seek to destroy our peace and freedoms. We become the same. Fed by the same fires of terror and darkness.