Wanderlust Wednesday: The Hunt For Local Organic Farm Fresh Goods

Great article about living a wholesome life.

Blu Owl Gypsy

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Cocoa Green Market and 12 Palms Farm
4880 Coconut Avenue,
Cocoa, FL 32926
Hours:
Tuesday 12-3
Friday 10-5
Saturday 10-2

I am enamored with living a simple way of life.
Fresh fruit and veggies from the farm…
Milk from happy cows…
Eggs that are produced by healthy hens that rule the roost…Clean Wholesome Simplicity.

Full Disclosure: I am typing this on my iPhone while scarfing down a brown sugar PopTart and a Diet Coke.

This is my lifelong inner turmoil. An acute, bone-deep longing for a sane way of living and the lure of Pop Tarts. Add in the fact that in an urban setting it’s unusual to find a place that offers these “luxuries”.

Yes! Natural wholesome food and goods are officially a luxury! Crazy, right?

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About 2 months ago, I stumbled across a video of a Cocoa, Florida farmer lovingly feeding homemade sourdough bread to her rooster, Elvis. I…

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Under Pressure…

 

PRESSURE!!!!!!!
Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you, no man ask for…”

Yup……PRESSURE! That’s what I’ve been feeling in my professional life lately and particular yesterday. Drama can roll in like a tsunami and I can, admittedly, get sucked into that riptide. I try to fight the currents but as we all know, you wind up exhausted, disorientated and probably drowned. I have control issues…so this does not sit well with me.

So, what’s the other options?

I have learned a few tricks when I start to take things too seriously and become overwhelmed.

1) Laugh. Seriously, it’s gonna be alright.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

“A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:

  • Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
  • Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
  • Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.”

2) Actively look for something to learn.

If you are purposefully looking for ways to learn then that day is not a waste.

I am grateful that I learned some amazing techniques by watching my co-worker and educator Jaclyn Chan yesterday.  As she was riding some kind of artistic wave, banging out some serious work, I was mentally taking notes.  I got the benefit of consciously and methodically LEARNING. Honestly, if you can learn one thing each day you have a success….even with chaos swirling around you.

1920s inspired!  By Jaclyn Chan

1920s inspired!
By Jaclyn Chan

 

3) My co-worker mentioned a group hug…

Not sure how appropriate that is for most professions but in our industry, meh, it works.

4) Ask yourself if you are doing your best.

No… really. Are you?

“My philosophy is that not only are you responsible for your life, but doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.”

~Oprah Winfrey

There are days that I coast. I’m working on that.

Go forth and learn something new! No day will be wasted!

Baby steps….

 

My 16 year old son told me his fondest memory of me from his childhood was when I trained and ran the Disney Half Marathon in 2009. THAT was the first time....the first step really, into my journey. It's amazing what your kids will notice.

My 16 year old son told me his fondest memory of me from his childhood was when I trained and ran the Disney Half Marathon in 2009. THAT was the first time….the first step really, into my journey.
It’s amazing what your kids will notice. What I remember is mommy running for 4 months. Running when she had never did before. Running in the snow, the rain, the cold….and not giving up. It was the first time I didn’t give up on myself.

I am one of the luckiest people I know.
Really!
A few years ago, I was living vicariously through my children’s lives rather than taking action in my OWN life.
And now I get to live out my dreams! Seriously, everybody should be able to say that.

Alana rocking it as she always does. Can't tell you how grateful I am to my models!

Alana rocking it as she always does. Can’t tell you how grateful I am to my models! The male model was styled by Ramon Montalvo. Beautiful!

This past week I was lucky enough to participate in a creative photo-shoot at Maximus Spa and Salon in Carle Place, NY. I started working at Maximus , fresh out of Cosmetology School, a little over a year ago.  Since then, I have been aggressively and systematically learning everything I possibly can. I’m rather relentless and I can be incredibly hard on myself when I’m not progressing as quickly as I believe I should. So, when the opportunity for the assistants to create and execute their own ideas AND have them photographed… I began to PLAN.

And obsess.

Oh….I’m a neurotic planner.

I quickly came to realize, I had far too many ideas in this noggin of mine so instead of looking for one model, I asked two fabulous co-workers (Janine and Alana) to be my models. Sweet as they are beautiful, they were incredibly easy to work with and willing to vamp up the looks I wanted to create.

Prep work

Janine had more hair than you can possibly imagine! The concept of the night was “1940s”.  I love that time period but wanted to bring  a modern translation. I did a set, spraying each section with Chi Iron Guard, with a 3/4 inch marcel iron, one inch subsections, rolling down and the front section used a 1 1/4 inch marcel for volume to accomplish a smooth side victory roll. Once everything cooled, we released the curls, shook them out, did a light tease at the root, then “rouched” the hair by taking small pieces of the hair, holdin a small piece of the end of the curl and pushing and gathering upward to create a full undefined curl. The picture above is one of my co-workers and the owner of the salon helping mt get this done since. In all honesty, I think they were having fun. LOL!

My model, Janine, is on the right and the beautiful, Eleni, who is snapping the pic, was done by the very talented Ramon Montalvo.

My model, Janine, is on the left and the beautiful, Eleni, who is snapping the pic, was done by the very talented Ramon Montalvo.

My second look was Alana. She had recently cut her hair above the shoulder and dyed a panel on the side a bright red. He head is also shaved on one side of her head. I went into a little bit of a panic when she cut her hair because I had something in mind that need a few extra inches in top but I was not going to be detered! As Tim Gunn loves to say…”Make it work!”

She has incredibly dense hair, even with one side shaved off, so I sectioned off the top horse-shoe section for my victory roll. I added some extensions for length, from the nape , in one inch subsections, up to the occipital (that rounded area on the back of your head) I then, did a french braid, incorporating the extensions, from the side, around the back, then switched to a fishtail braid at the tail. I pulled it apart at the tail to create some volume. Finally, I gently molded and pinned the top into a modern day victory roll.

Alana rocking it!

The photographer was a great guy, incredibly professional. His name is Rich E. Miller and I would work with him any day of the week.  If you want to see some of his work, you can check him out on Google + here: Rich E. Miller page. I’m excited to see what he puts up (all the pictures on here are cell phones or quick shots by co-workers).  And if you are interested in seeing other styles that were done at the shoot, you can pop over here to see some behind the scene shots.

So…..the rest of the pics are of my evening working with the photographer. I have to admit, if I was to do it all over again, I think I would’ve worn something cuter and redid my makeup. LOL! I look washed out!

Janine was slipping on the marble...hey, we do what we have to do to get the shot. LOL

Janine was slipping on the marble…hey, we do what we have to do to get the shot. LOL

Big hair...don't care! Trying to create more volume.

Big hair…don’t care! Trying to create more volume.

Last, but not least, I want to thank Aida Vokshi, the INCREDIBLE make-up artist (and hair stylist!) for listening to me obsess over the look for my models and helping me come up with a concept for the makeup and executing it with precision. You are BRILLIANT! Also, Jaclyn Chan (aka Jackie) and Richard Calcasola for the support, gentle guidance and room that we needed to challenge ourselves. It was an incredible experience that I can’t wait to repeat.

BY the way, I’ll be posting a vlog about my experience on Youtube. If you haven’t subscribed  to my channel yet, please check it out!

Moisturizing the Sahara Desert!

Water!….WATER!!!

<gasp>  Can a girl get some Poland Springs when she needs it?!

I don’t know about you, but Autumn has not fully arrived until my skin and hair feels like all moisture has been sucked out of it! I have tried fancy (and expensive!) moisturizers, cleansers, conditioners and whatnot but I always feel my skin and hair is back to dry, flaky and dull within a couple of hours. This has plagued me since I was a kid and I remember being told that as a teenager it was great since I never broke out but as an adult I would wrinkle up like a prune at a young age.

BAH!

Like I said, I have tried many products but ultimately only two things worked.

Wait for it…

Coconut Oil and water…water, water, water!

The water thing seems obvious but admittedly, I have to force myself. I easily get distracted and hours will go by before I’ll take a swig of my water bottle. And the truth is, the dry weather combined with the seasonal comfort food tend to create an odd combination of puffiness AND driness on my face. It’s like my face is saying “Hey, she’s got dry wrinkly skin and we’re going to highlight it by making her good and puffy without smoothing it out.”

<shaking fist in the air> Curse you, dehydrated skin!!!!

English: Coconut oil in solid state.

English: Coconut oil in solid state. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So aside from drinking tons of water (duh!) I have discovered that coconut oil has done more things for my skin than any expensive moisturizer. Originally, I was just using it as a way to repair my dry cracked hand by applying a thin coat on my hands overnight.  It worked like a charm! However my face was getting worse and worse. The fine lines were becoming deeper and deeper and the flakiness was putting a crimp in my morning make up routine.  So on impulse, I put a thin coating of coconut oil on my face before bed, praying that I wouldn’t wake up with a face full of blemishes.

Viola!

My skin was smooth and quite lovely! I started by using it once a week but as the cold weather continues, I’m using it with more and more frequency. Even when I first come out of the shower! Just take a pea sized amount of the creamy solidified oil then rub it between your hands to liquify it, then spread it on, concentrating on the driest parts of your face.

Now, would I recommend this to EVERY skin type? I dunno. If you suffer from dry cold weather skin, then it should be great. If you tend to have oily skin then obviously this isnt for you.

Give it a try and leave a comment on how it worked for you!

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Showering Daily? ….Ummmm, yeah, sure.

I’ve heard all the idioms associated with how you should exercise and eat well daily. It should be like a habit…brushing your teeth, brushing your hair, taking a shower.  In my case, putting on make-up and doing my hair for work. This made me think.

Have you ever been in a funk where you didn’t brush your teeth or take a shower until your family is complaining about the stink?

When I first broke my foot back in May I was a complete and total hot mess. Showers were not on the list of priorities…they were actually quite exhausting and at times painful. My thought was that I was sitting on my duff with my foot elevated… I’m not exactly working up a sweat so I could wait a few days to take a shower. Unfortunately, I was also heavily drugged at first (did I mention the had to re-break my foot TWICE in a week!) so days melted together, come to think of it, weeks did too. A shower was not on my radar…until my husband would get a change of clothes, set up the bathroom to be crutch friendly and very gently explain that it was time.

stupid foot

What’s my point? Well, I’m getting back in the swing of things and the more I feel a little bit like myself, the more I realize I am falling into old habits of pre-“Reinventing Danni”. I THINK about exercising but I don’t actually do it (except when I post it on Facebook…it’s not real unless you post it on FB) Hell, I’m barely interested in taking a shower much less look nice. So where does this leave me? Exercise should be like taking a shower or brushing your teeth….you do it daily.

I’M NOT EVEN SHOWERING DAILY! <snort> Does this make me a lost cause? Am I destined to be like the girl on the left of the picture below? Danielle…just coasting through life, uninterested in myself….

Or am I Danni, the girl on the right? Ready to take on the world! Push herself to new heights! BE THE BEST SHE CAN BE!

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This is a VERY slippery slope people!!

I can’t continue to cling on to the excuse that I am a hot mess from my injury….

I’m going back to work in a couple of weeks and I was thinking I need to start making the habit (and effort!) of wearing make up again. Do my hair. Dress nicely. Do some modified exercises.

…and, yes, taking a shower daily.

No one is a lost cause. Sometimes your “marathon” training  is just to get up. Take an action. Be interested.

I know I’m not the only one that’s gone through this…it’s why I’m sharing.

Because YOU are not alone either.

❤ Danni

A Glimpse Into My Thought Process….Don’t Be Scared.

make it happen

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my goals. I remember writing them down (I don’t remember where) plotting a course, and giving a timeline.  Of course, as the days and weeks go by and unexpected events happen (i.e. my broken foot), the specifics of what I’m doing starts to blur. I’m still vaguely working towards it for a long while, then I get lost. My daily routine to improve upon myself becomes a “when I remember” thing. Suddenly, I’m asking the old questions. Why can’t I get fit? Why am I not progressing in my hair cutting skills? Why can’t I catch up on my bills?….

Okay…am I making a big assumption here or is this common?

Now just for full disclosure…this pattern is a vast improvement over my “don’t make any goals because I’ll only disappoint myself” pattern. However, the new Danni, who is habitually reinventing herself, feels a need to improve on this. I actually had a sleepless night, tossing and turning as I tried to refocus what it is I REALLY wanted. I think I was trying to crystallize how much I WANT my goals in my head because if there isn’t a healthy desire for it, it ain’t happening! Not being at work, not being able to whip out an intense workout, being stuck in a chair doing a lot of nothing, these things have dulled the shine of my dreams. I’ve become complacent. Yuck.

I figured I’d share a little on how I get my mojo back and how my meandering thought process gets me there.

I start by really looking at the TOTAL PACKAGE of who I envision I want to be. I know I want to be fit and strong  (I won’t lie, mostly because I want to wear gorgeous clothing. LOL), incredibly skilled at my trade, be a trend-setter in my industry and make a lot of money doing it. I’m in an image driven industry but I do not feel compelled to be like everybody else. I want everybody else to look at what I do and want to follow me (oh my God, did I just say that out loud?! <snort>)

What KIND OF PERSON does that? Certainly, not the apathetic, lethargic person I’ve become these past 2 to 3 months. No, this person would be driven, passionate about what she wants, curious, determined, confident, unstoppable and…BANKABLE. These are all things that were NOT me. Mind you, there are few attributes that I DO have that I want to incorporate into this picture such as motivating, positive, up-lifting, fun and caring. These attributes are important. They are who I am and I can never change so I have to make them work into this picture of who I want to be (who I really am).

Okay, so I’ve identified where I’m at, what I want, what kind of person I’d have to be to get it…now what? I think I’d have to figure out  and, perhaps, visualize how that “go-to” person would approach her day to day. What are her daily practices? What kind of daily mini goals, short term and long term goals would she go for? How would she handle a day that was less than successful?  How does she view challenges? How does she present herself? What is going to inspire this person? There are many successful people to draw inspiration from if you are not sure. This is where writing is important. You sometimes have to lay it all out to get an idea of what this journey is going to look like. The more ideas and detail the better. Oh, and I don’t write what I’M willing to do. I write what this fabulous goal-orientated person would be willing to do. You see, I’m not that girl yet so I may censor myself.

Once I have everything written out, I evaluate it and make a map. You can’t get to a destination that you’ve never been to without a map! (or atleast a set of directions) Then I’m on my way!

Right now I’m about to enter the writing stage. I’ll let you know how it goes…should be rather extensive.

Here’s what I want to leave with you.

1) Just because you’ve never done something before, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. You are very possible.

2) A good plan will get you far. You may need to adjust and re-evaluate as time goes on but try not to “dumb down” your dreams. Regret is an awful thing and it is rare to hear someone regretted making their life more fulfilled.

3) I will always be cheering you on. I am always thrilled when someone steps out of their comfort level and have their eyes opened to their untapped potential!

You’ve got this….and so do I. 🙂

❤ Danni

Rainbows and Unicorns…or am I just delusional?

spew

As many of you know, I have often stated that I’m all “rainbows and unicorns”.

Yes, it is somewhat tongue in cheek. I am a naturally positive person but “rainbows and unicorns” tends to denote someone who is living in La-La-Land. Though, let me tell you, there is something to be said for La-La-Land! Everything is beautiful, people are happy, we randomly break out in song and  little critters are skittering about… It’s a nice place to be. But sadly, it is not my permanent place of residence.

Like many of you, my life is complicated.

Financially these past few years have beaten my family to a pulp. Medically, we have had at least one long term medical issue that threw a wrench in our daily (and financial) lives and then as that just started to get better, I broke my foot and haven’t been able to work for several weeks. Last fall, we got hit with Sandy which was probably a good month of daily insecurity, on top of what we were already dealing with. And right now, we are barely keeping our head above water, catching up seems  elusive and  typically, my husband’s anxiety levels fluctuate between orange and red on the “terror alert scale”.

Uh-huh…La-La-Land suddenly sounds very appealing doesn’t it?

A few years ago, before I started my whole “Reinventing Danni” mission, I think I would have marinated in misery. I mean, really, we went from middle class comfort and contentment with vacations and savings and 401ks… to debt to our ears, rationing food and praying the electric doesn’t get turned off before we scrape the money together. Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not sharing this for a pity party (which I only indulge in for one day every three months…I pencil it in on my calendar). I’m sharing this so you can see how attitude is EVERYTHING.

I decided, some time ago, that even though everything was falling apart, I would not. Every time something went wrong, I trained myself to look at every negative situation as a life lesson that would only enrich and enhance our lives. Mind you, sometimes it takes a couple of days to figure out what that opportunity to grow is, but I’ll be damned if I don’t find it!! And when I do find it, I embrace it.

I broke my foot so now I can take the time to appreciate some precious moments with my children (where I would normally be working).

Woohoo!!!

I have time to look at my career path and adjust my dedication to learning new skills so I can be even more successful!

Yes!!!

I am developing a new appreciation of how much I underestimated  what my body REALLY can do and I’m excited to start a fitness program to take me to a new level of health!

Woot Woot!!!

I get to appreciate how wonderful my job really is because I miss it so much!

AWESOME!!!

It’s very easy to forget how lucky you are when you’re in the day to day and all these great things that I’ve learned in the past several weeks makes me realize that the mess that we are in today is temporary. There IS a glorious light at the end of the tunnel and I am being handed all the life lessons to make it work. I am going to be SO SUCCESSFUL!! Hell, I already am!

Do I live in the land of “Rainbows and Unicorns” or am I just delusional?

<shrug> Only time will tell. 🙂

~Danni

I Want To Be The Best!…if you don’t mind.

 

 

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I am very competitive.

I had an inkling years ago that I was competitive. In the safe environment of my family, we jumped on each other as we tried to outsmart the other player…from basketball to playing a board games, it was aggressive and intense! There was an unbridled joy in trying to outwit your sibling, though I can honestly say I was not often the victor. (not for a lack of trying. LOL!) However, as I got older, I would not even consider competing in anything. Not in play, not in work, not in life.

If I was a pseudo-psychologist I might say that perhaps a fear of failure was a factor in this. Hey, fear of failure is pretty common and I’m no different!   No…I was afraid of what people would think.

Seriously.

Sensitive to a fault, I would worry about what people would say if I tried to be better than others. What if they laugh at me? What if they talked behind my back, eyes rolling in disbelief? What if I fail and I lose credibility?  What if they heckle me? Who the hell did I think I was?

This feeling spread in ALL aspects of my life. I would not try. I waited for things to fall in my lap. On the few times that I did try something it was juuuuuust enough to pass as mediocre, a C+. And believe it or not, I’d “ask permission” from people to do something out of the norm! It was like I needed people to say it was okay.  I’m feeling a little nervous even admitting to all this because, written down in black and white, it’s quite horrifying!

I can try to explore the causes  but, really, is it that important? I was tired of mediocrity! I was annoyed with being safe! I was sick of allowing other peoples opinions dictate how I lived my life! And let me tell you…when you hand over your power, THEY WILL TAKE IT.

brave others

So, one day,  I decided no matter what people thought, I would do everything in my power to be THE BEST at whatever I put my mind to. No more half- hearted tries. No more looking for approval before I acted. No more using my kids as an excuse. No more down-playing what I was trying to accomplish because I was afraid of what people thought.

The evolution from just 2 1/2 years ago is actually quite startling. It was not easy. In fact, my heart would pound a mile a minute every day! But as each day passed, it became a easier. I began to crave the challenge. I became comfortable with the idea that I may make an ass of myself but AT LEAST I TRIED! I  feel that, for certain people in my life, my failures were a chance for them to feel superior and secure in their own little lives. That’s fine.  Their opinions don’t touch me anymore because in my head, failure has become an OPPORTUNITY! I will learn. I will grow. I will try again. And I won’t be asking their permission.

~Danni

If you have any thoughts on the subject or would like to hear about something in particular, drop a comment!

Who the Blog Do You Think You Are?!

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A blog.

My sister will be so proud.

I have been avoiding this for some time. If you know me “in person” you know that I can ramble on incessantly about just about anything. So, for the sake of public sanity, I have avoided a blog. But….

Lately, on my Facebook page (which is where all this began), my inbox was filled with questions of “How did you lose the weight?”, “How much do you exercise?” “What do you eat?” “Can you give me a sample menu?”….

This has been a bit nerve-wracking for me because I couldn’t answer them! Not without sounding like a fruitcake. <snort>  Sure, I eat old fashioned oatmeal or eggs with a dry stir fry in the morning but I also eat chicken nuggets and french fries off my son’s plate! I am most certainly not a paragon when it comes to eating!

And exercise? Yeah, sure, I put in my time. I’m not aggressive unless I’m preparing for something like a race (there’s a life lesson in that statement) but my philosophy is not so different from when I use to teach fitness classes back in the 90s…you had to pay me to workout. HA!

So with that being said, I cringe when I am told I am their “thinsperation”. <gag> Really…someone emailed me that.

Look, I love that I lost weight….I could stand to lose a couple more and gain some muscle but I’m not stressing out over it. In the end, what I think is my “Great Achievement” was the steps I took to redefine who I was! Those scary, heart-stopping steps when I was convinced that my only worth was that I made good looking babies… Yup. More difficult than any race or any diet.

So…..this is what my blog will be about.

I will be pushing my limits. Doing things that I’m afraid to do. Daring to be that woman that I always wished I could be!

I hope you find some inspiration….

~ Danni