January + Reset + Intentions

In 8 days, we enter the second month of this new decade. Am I almost 1/12th done with what I set out to do this year? I can’t say that I am; yet I can say that I have loved this month so far.

I cleansed. I am 3 days away from the end of my 21-day cleanser (read more here), and I feel lighter, stronger, and healthier than ever (yet also hungry and somewhat unsatisfied…).

I reset. This past weekend was Serious Business, the annual personal and professional development conference ideated by Debra Neill Baker of Neill Corporation. This year’s theme was Reset, particularly applicable to a new decade. My highlight was Neil Pasricha’s admonition that “action creates motivation” (instead of the other way around).

I organized. I handled end of year paperwork, started getting things ready for Aprils’ tax deadline, threw away old bills and bank statements, and purged paper.

I unsubscribed. From so many email newsletters I delete before opening, my inbox feels lighter. And I cancelled magazine and entertainment subscriptions I no longer benefit from.

I recommitted. To my evening skin care routine, and to using my Advanced retinol serum twice weekly. I can’t help but think that there is a correlation between this behavior and recent compliments on my “fresh” and “glowing” look.

I tried something new. My workout rituals involve running and SoulCycle, and have for years. This month, I decided I to add strength training and tried Orange Theory Fitness for the first time. I was mostly in the red, have hardly ever been so sore, yet I have another class booked for this Friday!

Before February arrives, here are some intentions for the next 8 days:

  • Read two more books (which will bring me to one per week)
  • Finalize the Alchimie Forever 2020 budget (yes, I am very late on this)
  • Buy some extra drip colored candles and use some empty wine bottles as candle holders to decorate the mantle (something my parents used to do, which a recent dinner at The Columns in New Orleans reminded me of)

The Power of Words

I love to read, and I love to talk about books. I look forward to weekends (including music festival weekends!) so I can dive in a book and spend two days reading. If you want to speak my love language, send me a book recommendation you think I will enjoy or ask me about a recent book I read. At home, I have bookshelves full of books I loved, and piles of books I am looking forward to reading.

Yesterday, I added a new book on my list of books to read, thanks to the recommendation of Debra Neill Baker of Neill Corporation.

She opened our day-long strategy meeting by reminding us of the power of words, and by sharing three sentences we should all incorporate in our conversations more frequently to build connection and love:

  • “Tell me more”: this helps us listen better. I like to “end” a conversation with “what else?” – yet this verbiage is so much more powerful.
  • “I was wrong”: because “I am sorry” is over-used and not powerful enough. This will be a hard one for me to incorporate in my language…  
  • “I don’t know”: because it is ok not to know. As a colleague added, another nice way of saying that is “I haven’t learned that yet.”  

These phrases came from a book Debra read recently, which I immediately ordered: Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan. This book is about “12 essential phrases that turn the wheel of life.” (I think “No” is on that list and that is certainly a word I need help with!)

Today, I commit to using these three more frequently. And this weekend, I am going to read this book!  

Get Out of Your Own Way – and Get Healthier Now

I just returned from Serious Business, the leading conference organized by Neill Corporation, and the brainchild of Debra Neill Baker and Carol Augusto. This year’s theme was “Get out of your own way,” a powerful reminder that despite our best intentions, we are sometimes our own worst enemies…  

One of the keynote speakers was Ben Greenfield, who spoke about habits to enhance health and longevity, as reported in the book Blue Zones. This resonated with me particularly strongly as I recently read the book Ikigai, which touches on the same theme, and am in already struggling to keep some of my New Year’s resolutions.

The list of healthy habits below may not be new information, but I know I get in my own way, and needed the reminder. Here are Ben Greenfield’s healthful recommendations for cleaner, better, longer living.

  1. Don’t smoke. (If not for longer living, do this for better skin)
  2. Avoid sugar and vegetable oil.
  3. Eat dark colored fruits and vegetables, like purple cabbage and blueberries. (And put them on your skin too!)
  4. Eat legumes.
  5. Implement 12-16 hours of intermittent fasting in your routine, to help your body “clean up the trash.” That may mean giving up breakfast…
  6. Go to the gym, yes. But beyond that, incorporate low impact movement every day. (Walking or gardening come to mind) 
  7. Ensure you have a strong sense of community. (When is the last time you called your best friend?) 
  8. Possess a strong life purpose, what the Japanese call “ikigai”
  9. Ruthlessly eliminate the sense of hurry to minimize stress.
  10. Engage in a spiritual discipline, religion, or the belief in a higher power.  
  11. Remain reproductively useful. (Yes, he did tell the audience to have more sex) 
  12. Drink a little every day, mostly wine, preferably red.

BeautyView: Debra Neill Baker, Chairman of Neill Corporation

I am writing this from Las Vegas, it is day 2 of the International Spa Association annual conference. The week of ISPA is always dear to me, not only for the industry learning, the visits with my favorite spa people, but also because ISPA has played such an important role in my relationship with my husband Edwin. After the BeautyView on Susie Ellis of SpaFinder (who is responsible for my meeting Edwin), it seems only fitting to interview my step-mother-in-law, Debra Neill Baker, Chairman of Neill Corporation, also referred to as Chief Energy Officer and self-declared Beauty Evangelist. I remember the first time I met her, at ISPA 2005 in Dallas, TX; I remember she was wearing a gorgeous white pant suit (she usually wears Aveda black on black); I have learned so much from her, still feel like I have so much to learn… starting with striking the word “favorite” from my vocabulary…

AP: What city were you born in? DN: I was born in Kansas, farm community…no city within 100 miles.

AP: What city do you live in? DN: I have lived the past 30 years in the country 50 miles outside of New Orleans.  Might sound similar and it’s nothing the same!

AP: What is your middle name? DN: June, after my Aunt Ava June.

AP: What is your astrological sign? DN: Taurus.

AP: What is your favorite thing about the beauty (and spa) industry? DN: it’s life-supporting and gives us the opportunity to truly “touch” others.

AP: Least favorite thing? DN: favorite is not a word I use much…”least favorite thing”…even less!

AP: What is your most prized possession? DN: My home.

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? DN: That I freak out (inside) when I speak in public… I seldom appear to be nervous. I move right through the fear   and use it to create energy!

AP: Do you wear a watch? If yes, what model? DN: Yes. I wear a man’s Cartier that I have had for 18 years… I am practical and extravagant simultaneously, and I value quality and timelessness.

AP: Diamonds or pearls? DN: Definitely diamonds…although I have very few. Jewelry has never been that compelling to me.

AP: If you could have dinner with the person of your choice, who would it be? DN: My children, Garrison and Paris… my best work and best teachers.

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? DN: I re-framed and re-defined balance years ago. I live a blurred life… work and life are intertwined intentionally. And balance is not a steady state; it’s a dynamic and energizing lifestyle that works for me.

AP: What are your three top tips for travel? DN: 1. Let home be wherever I am.  2. Carry my essential oils/botanical aromas for anointing my environment. 3. Be in the Flow: accept delays, cancellations, etc… breathe, hydrate, read…

AP: What is your favorite book? DN: There’s that favorite word again… books have been my primary self-development tool my entire life, including from Your Erroneous Zones to Think and Grow Rich to As A Man Thinketh to anything by Rumi or Thich Nhat Hanh.

AP: What is your cocktail of choice? DN: Vodka is my cocktail of choice…for the effect not the taste!

AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? DN:  No secrets, but rather purposeful decisions, a lifetime of taking care of this vehicle/temple/body, mind, and spirit. I have always had a whole-person approach…beauty/health/energy is an inside/outside process…breathing, moving, hydrating, conscious-eating, and sleeping!

AP: What fragrance do you wear? DN: I haven’t worn synthetic fragrance for over 30 years…Horst/Aveda created an awareness and sensitivity that has influenced my olfactory system forever! I wear Aveda aromas.

AP: Botox or not? DN: Why not?!

AP: Hair color: natural or not? DN: naturally, haircolor!

AP: 3 songs on your ipod right now. DN: Peter Gabriel/New Blood, my old stand-by Al Green, My Morning Jacket… I thrive on diversity.

AP: Quote to live by? DN: “Relationship is the key to the Universe … and the relationship with Self is at the source of it all.”

AP: Who is your mentor? DN: I have many… from my grandmother to my late husband Edwin to my present husband Michael to my children and too many in-between to list! When I was in my early teens I decided that I wanted to learn from everyone, from many teachers and Gurus…and ultimately be my own Guru! That may sound like a bit of arrogance… and truly, it’s about being a self-control freak!

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today? DN: Be clear about your values, what is truly important and meaningful to you, what gives you a feeling of fulfillment… that will lead you to work that expresses who you are and who you want to be!