Saturday, April 23, 2011

Inner and Outer Beauty -- Appreciating our Spiritual and Physical Blessings

In her book, "A Woman's Path to Inner Beauty," Ginger Garret tells of time when an older woman said to her, "How you catch a man is how you have to keep him." Garret drew from this the fact that if, as a single woman, she focused all of her attention on her outer beauty and drew a man to her solely through that, she would create in a man the unrealistic expectation of always looking beautiful and young. If she drew a man to her whose main concern was outer beauty, she could face unhappiness as outer beauty began to be affected by age. However, if she focused on inner beauty and drew a man to her on that basis, her marriage would only grow through the years as a woman who follows the Lord continues to grow in inner beauty. If she married a man whose primary concern is godliness, the marriage would be built on firmer ground.

If we are single, it is wise to pay attention to how we present our outer selves. Let's be honest. As women, are we drawn to choose a mate who is slovenly, negligent, prone to avoidable health problems by unhealthy habits, unkempt, and the like? Likewise, men, who are hard-wired to appreciate the beauty of a healthy and well-kept woman, are drawn to women who do keep their appearance neat. This is being good stewards of the body God has given to us, not being in the dumps because we cannot meet the unrealistic beauty standards of a materialistic culture.

In the same way, once we are married, it is not fair to our spouse to indulge in neglect -- to become unkempt or negligent in our appearance. We do invest in marital happiness by paying a little attention to our looks and health. This signals to our husbands that we do care about them. It is one way of showing love. Again, we are to be good stewards of the bodies God has given us, rather than to bemoan the extra challenges that come with aging.

I've learned the hard way that neglecting your health and beauty in the vital decades of your thirties and forties makes it all the harder to get back health and a neat appearance when you are in your fifties. Not only that, but the woman who sets herself up to enter her middle years and beyond with the best possible health will be more productive than someone, like myself, who is struggling with chronic health issues. In my case, there is nothing I could have done to stop the health issues from developing, but much that I could have done to work with my health to keep them from being as ravaging as they are. The good news is that it's never too late to start where you are and improve.

Having said all of that, I find Ms. Garret's premise to be absolutely true. If you build the early years of your marriage on superficial things, time will erode the connections you have unless you start where you are and build deeper connections. If, however, your marriage is based on eternal things, your marriage will only grow deeper and sweeter over time. I'm so thankful that my husband has been a good example in this. He sees beyond my surface appearance to my heart and my soul and my mind. The spiritual values we share grow deeper through the years.

The illustration above is a word cloud that I was playing around with listing buzz words from a few Bible verses, including Phil. 4:4-8. In this wonderful verse, we are presented with qualities that make good food for mediation. A mind that dwells on these things will emanate a loveliness that cannot be defined in purely physical terms.

Because our society exaggerates the natural attraction of physical beauty and places a level of importance on it that it simply cannot bear, we are all tempted at one stage or another of our lives to become insecure about outward looks. Keeping in mind that eternal, inner beauty is the only truly lasting beauty helps us to be secure. We can be secure when we are preteens and just learning how to live in maturing bodies. We can be secure when we are in the prime of our years. We can be secure when we start seeing time march across our faces and bodies, leaving its footprints. If we are secure inside, making our outsides as modestly lovely as we can becomes a more pleasurable process. We are not desperate to live up to some unattainable standard. We are simply caring for the wonderful bodies God has given to us to dwell in on this side of heaven.

When we are secure in heart, we can appreciate all of the wonderful things our bodies can do. Our hands, for example, can work and serve and love and comfort. Our eyes can see and notice and appreciate and move us to concern. Our ears can hear and love music and take in wise words and provide a way of caring to someone in need of being heard. Our mouths can speak words that encourage, enjoy foods, sing praises, and recite poetry. The list of good things our bodies can do is long and lovely.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

14 days to better skin -- Palmolive, doctors, and hope in a jar/bar of soap

I've noticed and even sampled several anti-aging products that promise younger, smoother, or otherwise prettier skin in periods of 2 weeks to a month. Today's product claims sound credible -- because of new understandings of the benefits of ingredients like retinal and other alphahydroxy acids, as well as new methods of formulation which supposedly allow vitamins to be absorbed into the skin.

Yet, in looking at some vintage ads, such as the one to the right, I found that there were many ads for Palmolive soap through the years which claimed that doctors proved that if you used Palmolive soap, you could have lovelier skin in 14 days. These ads are from days well before the age of modern cosmaseuticals.

Camay evidently had similar ads promising that you could have beautiful skin after using just one bar of Camay.

According to a book containing research from many home economics books, women in the early part of the 20th century had methods for exfoliating the skin (I don't know if they called it that) with a wash cloth and soap.

In young healthy skin, the cells turnover about evey 21 to 28 days. As we age and also are exposed to the weather, the sun, and other things in the enviornment, our skin begins to slow down its cell turnover rate. Older, duller, damaged skin cells stay on the surface longer, causing our skin to appear duller. Many older and many newer skin products do work by stripping away this layer of old dull skin. They also cause very mild skin damage which causes the skin to respond by increasing circulation and skin cell production. The goal is to re-create the healthy skin cell turnover rate seen in the very young. Thus, decades worth of products have held out the promise that we might, indeed, see younger -- or at least prettier -- skin in the mirror after just 2 to 4 weeks.

Whether every product that makes this claim delivers or not, I cannot say for certain. Nor, can I say for sure that our modern products are better than our grandmother's soap or cold cream and wash cloth, though I do think that there is reason to believe they are more advanced. Whatever method or product we might try, it's nice to think that pampering the skin for three weeks or so could produce a visible change in our appearance.

Some women, myself, included, have to be careful about using some of the stronger products in today's skin care offerings. I have been trying out the CVS Skin Effects line to see if it will work with my sensitive skin. Of course, the best skin product is a good sunscreen, and I buy mine from my dermatologist.

The author of the Japanse Skin Care revolution promotes a lovely, gentle, and potentially inexpensive method of giving yourself a skin mask. This is more of a hydrating technique. Check it out if you are interested in skin care.

What skin care products and methods do you use?

Health and Beauty to You!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What was Grace Kelly's favorite perfume?

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Did you know that Grace Kelly's husband, Prince Ranier, commissoned the House of Creed to make a perfume for Grace for a wedding present? The perfume is the famous "Fleurissimo".

Note: While Fleurissimo is still available today, perfume companies do change their formulas slightly over time to account for changes in available ingredients, public taste, etc. Not having been around when Fleurissimo was first invented, I don't know if it still smells exactly as it did when Grace wore it. However, it's still a lovely thought that we might enjoy a bit of her elegance through this famous perfume. Fleur, of course, means flower.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Conflicting reports about vitamins

We all know that getting our vitamins and minerals from foods is the best way. However, I, along with everyone else in the U.S., have been prescribed Vitamin D. I also was advised to take iron when I was younger and borderline anemic. Doctors have also suggested Vitamin E, calcium, and Niaspan (a prescription drug derived from high doses of niacin) at times, and I still take fish oil supplements on doctor's recommendations. Many doctors also say that taking a multivitamin (not one with mega doses) is ok.

I'm sure I needed the Vitamin D and probably should still be taking it, though I'm not the best at remembering to. We get Vitamin D from the sun. However, I am fair-skinned, with a history of skin cancer on both sides of my family, and I try to be good about wearing sun screen. I am really careful each time I take my father to the dermatologist to have what seems like half of his body sprayed down with liquid nitrogen. Also watching large cancers being cut out of his scalp seems to make me reach for the bottle of sun screen. I used to think my last words to my equally fair skinned children would be, "Wear your sun screen!", but they are adults now and must make their own decisions. If, however, you want to track down my daughter and daughter-in-law and warn them not to climb into tanning machines, you have my permission. :)

I have tried a lot of different kinds of vitamins and have a shelf full of still-in-date ones that I have promised myself I will work through. The vitamin that makes me feel the best is Emergen-C, probably because of the magnesium in it. I do seem to feel better if I have just a little supplemental magnesium and sometimes take supplements with calcium and magnesium in them. I'm not endorsing Emergen-C or calcium supplements. If you take too much magnesium, it can dangerously affect your heart rate and also give you diarrhea. Plus, there are conflicting reports about whether it's safe to take Vitamin C or not. I'm just saying that I seem to have a little more energy when I do take it. After I work through all of the vitamins on my vitamin shelf, I don't know if I will buy more or not.

This matter of conflicting reports about the usefulness and/or safety of vitamin supplements is confusing -- at least to me. Here are a smattering of links I've gathered in case you'd like to research the topic along with me.

Multivitamin Use May Have No Effect in Post-Menopausal Women.
Risks of Taking Common Vitamin Supplements -- Some May Actually Increase Risk of Death
Organic Foods May not Have As Many Vitamins as Those Grown with Pesticides
Discussion of Risks/Benefits Vitamin D from Vegan perspective -- how to get Vit. D from sun
(I'm not vegan, but good article for vegans and even those of us who aren't)
How much Vitamin D/Calcium
Calcium Supplements May Cause Heart Attacks
Dr. Oz advice re calcium
Reuters: Vitamin C, E do little to cut heart risk
Study says Vitaman C does have positive effect heart
Mega-Doses Vitamin C cause hardening of arteries
Who should take Vitamin B-12 supplements?
10 common vitamins not to take without doctor's orders
What vitamins should you take?
10 Vitamins you should be taking -- take for particular needs

As you can see from just this sampling, there are a variety of opinions about which vitamin supplements you should take or if you should take vitamins at all. I would suggest that the Internet isn't the most reliable source of health information. I do believe in the old advice about discussing the vitamins you take with a doctor you trust. The media, including the Internet, tends to target the latest study and that often not very well A doctor has more of a broad look at all the research and the years of training and experience with which to interpret the data.

Research into the use of vitamin supplements is interpreted in the media according to the philosophy of the author. Some are highly skeptical of the vitamin industry; others are biased toward the vitamin industry. Some people believe strongly that adding vitamins to a healthy lifestyle is the way to go; others believe just as strongly that vitamins are useless and even harmful for those who are living a healthy lifestyle. Some people mistrust medical science and tend to believe any claims made by alternative practitioners; others mistrust the claims of alternative practitioners and believe only research backed up by credible science. Others fall somewhere in between and are just trying to find the best way to feel and to be healthy.

Vitamin supplements and cosmetics are marketed to us in ways that appeal to our desire to feel and look wonderful at every moment. Advertising for these products often grabs our emotions and our senses in such a way that we want to believe whatever fabulous claim the product is making. I know I'm susceptible to some claims. However, when it comes to popping pills, we should use caution, I think.

How about you? What do you make of all the vitamin research? Do you take vitamin supplements? If so, have you found them to give you increased health and energy?

I'd love to hear what your vitamin experiences are.

Good health to you!

Monday, April 4, 2011

A super-minimalist wardrobe

Do you want to create a very minimalist, truly streamlined mix-and-match wardrobe. Check out this video from Money Saving Mom. Notice how much she accomplishes in her wardrobe with a very few pieces. Actually, even if we a lot of items in our wardrobe, we all tend to reach for about this many key items on a daily basis, anyway. So, even if you don't want to pare down as much as Money Saving Mom has, you'll benefit from seeing how she puts her basic outfits together. If you're looking to pare down your closet, create a wardrobe that's quick and easy, or build a wardrobe on a budget, I think you'll enjoy the ideas in this video.