My purpose, as a person.

1395410_534306836651189_1774003493_nIt has been recommended, at least once, that I not talk about abuse, as a small business owner. After all, people don’t want to hear about that. Skincare/beauty brands are supposed to be all about light, beauty, happiness, fulfillment, etc., and that’s not what abuse is about. Abuse is the opposite of all that. It’s darkness and misery and, in most of us, it only creates feelings of darkness and misery.

So, why do I talk about abuse, especially as a small business owner?

Because it matters.

It matters in general, it matters to several of my friends/fans, and it matters to me. I want to build my brand to epic heights. I want people to replace their personal care products, wax melts, room sprays, essential oils, etc. and immediately think of my products as the ones to buy. Experts say that you should stay away from heavy subjects if you want to accomplish that goal; but, I don’t want to wait until I’m a millionaire to start talking about things that matter again. It’s a catch-22, I know. On the one hand, you’re supposed to wait until you’ve gone big because people don’t want to hear about heavy subjects and, thus, may shun you and your brand if you violate that expectation. On the other hand, many of the same people are all too proud to hear about the same subjects from famous people. Those that aren’t entirely pleased to hear it are complaining because said famous people waited so long to talk about it. If it really matters to them, they should have talked about it before they were rich and famous, or so I’ve seen it said on social media.

So, here’s my position: Some brands focus on cancer and/or heart disease, some focus on veterans, some focus on animal welfare and the vegan lifestyle, etc. In a way, my focus is part of all of the above, because abuse is involved in all of the above.

Extreme and/or prolonged stress creates and/or exacerbates illnesses, both minor and chronic–including cancer and heart disease. Abuse leads to PTSD, which mirrors the PTSD of veterans. Yes, I have discussed my PTSD with veterans. The biggest takeaway from one such conversation was that his nightmares were about the hands, faces, and voices of dead comrades, while mine were about the hands, faces, and voices of former classmates who are still alive. The focus on animal welfare usually centers around animals being abused, be it by forcing them to live their lives in extremely cramped spaces, by physically abusing them on their way to being slaughtered, or by using them for medical or cosmetic testing.

In addressing peer abuse, my primary focus is on promoting respect, even when you don’t agree with someone. You can disagree with everything that person believes in and do so respectfully. Likewise, it’s entirely possible to simultaneously support more than one demographic without putting one over another. For example, I believe it’s shameful that anyone should need help and be unable to receive it, particularly due to a line on a piece of paper. A veteran is homeless and can’t get help because s/he didn’t serve in a qualifying war. A non-veteran is homeless and can’t get help because s/he isn’t a veteran, or because he is male, or because s/he doesn’t have kids, or because s/he doesn’t have a qualifying disability, etc. A person is toeing the line on homelessness or going hungry, but can’t get help because s/he isn’t homeless yet and/or because s/he makes a few dollars too much per month. An abuse victim can’t get help because he’s male, because it wasn’t dating violence or adult-on-child abuse, or because what s/he went through was “only” sexual harassment. Where’s the justice in that? Even in referring to sexual abuse, we use the terms “harassment” and “abuse.” If harassment isn’t abuse, what is it? The short answer is that it is abuse. Harassment is verbal abuse, while battery is physical abuse. Both are psychological abuse.

Abuse literally formed the foundation of my life–my child and teen years–and even carried over into my 20s. It’s a virtual cornerstone of our society, from what we acknowledge as abuse to what we dismiss because it would mean changing our own attitudes. It’s 90%+ of every political campaign process, most discussions on any major social subject, and the larger part of how we interact with each other on a day-to-day basis. It’s everywhere, and in everything–even discussions on movies… I spent more than a decade, working as an anti-abuse advocate on the subject of peer sexual abuse in high schools–pre #MeToo or #MeTooK12 movements.

Now that I’m building an unrelated small business, I could probably stop discussing abuse, if I try really, really hard; but, why should I? Why should anyone? Issues don’t stop being issues, just because we refuse to talk about them. They only get worse. I hope you can stick with me through the more difficult posts. If you want to talk about your own experiences with abuse and/or ask polite, genuine questions, you’re welcome to. If you would rather scroll on by and only look at my posts about personal care products, home/office products, food recipes, recycling, fitness, etc., that’s ok too.

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Bathsheba

Update: I sent this response to Insight for Living and the article by John Adair has since been removed from their website. I messaged my appreciation and would like to also publicly thank them for their consideration. Even with prescreening, sometimes, things slip through. I appreciate their willingness to read this rebuttal and remove the article. Likewise, the rest of us, and the Church in general, must be more Christ-like in how we respond to sexual abuse victims. There is no minimizing or excusing sexual abuse. There is no sharing the blame between the perpetrator and the victim. The very nature of being a victim of sexual abuse requires that the victim not share any of the blame at all. It’s ok to suggest ways that people in general can avoid being abused, or to suggest ways to end the abuse as quickly as possible and escape to safety. However, to blame a victim of sexual abuse, for any reason at all, is like blaming a victim of arson because s/he lives in wooden house; blaming that kid at the mall for standing so close to the half-wall, because that guy threw him over the railing; or blaming a drunk-driving victim, for being out. We don’t blame other victims of crimes. We don’t suggest that they share the blame, because we know that they couldn’t possibly have done anything to deserve it and that you cannot control everyone else’s actions, including against you. You can take precautions and you can respond proactively. However, you cannot do anything to share the blame for being a victim of arson, drunk-driving, or attempted/successful murder. Likewise, you cannot do anything to share the blame for being abused.

——————-

This article was written by John Adair and has recently become a subject of understandable offense to modern survivors of sexual abuse. Rather than responding briefly, or limiting my responses to my personal thoughts, I decided to spend this evening researching the subject.

“…a beautiful woman stood on her rooftop and prepared to bathe.”

The Bible doesn’t state that she was on her rooftop, only that David was walking on his own rooftop. As noted in https://margmowczko.com/a-sympathetic-look-at-bathsheba/, the palace would have been the largest building in Jerusalem, built on high ground, and with the highest rooftop. Likewise, it was common, then and in some modern cultures, to bathe in rivers or springs, in lakes, by wells, etc. Thus, she could have been in her own walled-in garden, a reasonable distance from the palace, and risked being seen by him. Likewise, she could have chosen a place in the river, hidden by bushes from all other vantage points, and have been seen from the palace, by a man who was not supposed to be home.

It has been theorized that she must have been bathing in the evening hours. Else, how could he have seen her well enough to lust after her and, yet, not see her well enough to not have to verify her identity? Having had to verify her identity, it is reasonable to assume that he could not, in truth, see her well enough to establish her beauty, per se. Rather, he saw a woman bathing and felt lustful by the knowledge of what she was doing. It’s possible that he was already experiencing lust/sexual restlessness and, upon seeing a barely discernible woman, bathing wherever she was, he decided that he wanted her. Likewise, it is believed that people generally bathed with some article of clothing on to hide their nudity, in case someone of the opposite gender happened to pass through. Thus, he also could not have seen her nudity–except, possibly, within the boundaries of her belief that he and all other applicable men were away at battle.

“…The Bible records no instance of protest on Bathsheba’s part, either to the messengers who brought her to the palace or to the king who clearly intended to have her…whether she was a crafty seductress or a naive, newly married girl, Bathsheba’s silence—rather than protest—stands out in the encounter. When the opportunity arose for her to resist, she did not.”

As was stated, the Bible did not record her protest; but, neither does it say that she didn’t protest. Further, this was the king–a man with the full power to have her arrested, kill her, charge her husband with a crime, kill him, and/or dishonor her entire family. Not coincidentally, he did kill her husband, after it became clear that he could not deceive Uriah into having sex with his wife and, thus, believing the child to be his own.

In contrast, the Bible’s text appears to mark Bathsheba as a woman of character. First, Bathsheba means “woman of oath” or “daughter of an oath,” according to http://hebrewname.org/name/bath-sheba-bat-sheva and http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/bio_1.htm. This name would have been chosen by her and/or her family as part of her Bat-Mitzva, prior to which she was known as Bathshua, which means “daughter of my prosperity.”

Second, it wasn’t common to refer to women in the Bible by name. Of those who were referred to by name, Jewish women who were, as individuals, being portrayed in a negative light were not identified in terms of their families. For instance, Delilah was simply a woman in the valley of Sorek, while Jezebel was a samaritan. In contrast, Bathsheba was “Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Eliam was one of David’s primary advisers, as were Ahithophel (Eliam’s father) and Uriah. Ahithophel is believed to have been David’s chief advisor, as supported by 2 Samuel 16:23, which states that all the advice he gave was regarded by David and Absalom as having come from the Lord. By referring to Bathsheba by her name and her relation to 3 of David’s advisors, it is reasonably understood that she was a woman of honor, not someone who seduced the king and committed adultery.

“Most of the questions surrounding this event ask whether or not she was bathing on her roof to tempt David, for she had to know that she was within sight of the palace.”

2 Samuel 11:1 states that the king should have been in battle, as was the custom in that country. Likewise, because they were at war, every able-bodied man in the country should reasonably have been at war. Therefore, even if she was within reasonable sight of the palace, at least from the vantage point of the palace roof, she would justly have believed that the king–and all other applicable males–were not home.

“And this is the real lesson of Bathsheba’s fall into sin: we are all responsible for what we do…Choices were made by David and Bathsheba all along the way toward their adulterous encounter, and the same is true of anyone who falls into sexual sin today.”

2 Samuel 11:27 says “But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the LORD.” It doesn’t say that “Bathsheba had done evil” or “they had done evil.” It says David did evil in the sight of the Lord.

In 2 Samuel 12, King David is confronted by Nathan, on behalf of the Lord, for having killed Uriah and taken his wife as his own. This entire passage focuses on David’s guilt and refers to Bathsheba only as Uriah’s widow (or wife, depending on the translation.) Likewise, Matthew 1:6 refers to Bathsheba only as having been Uriah’s wife prior to marrying David.

In 1 Kings 1:11, Nathan speaks to Bathsheba, regarding Adonijah, the son of Haggith, and asks her to accept his counsel, to save her life and that of her son, Solomon, from Adonijah’s plans, and to have Solomon named as king after David.

At no point does the Bible indicate any fault on Bathsheba’s part. Thus, there is no indication that Bathsheba had sinned at all, nor that she had lost status in God’s eyes–only that she was sinned against. The closest that can be perceived as blame against her is Psalm 51: 4, where David is quoted as saying “Against You, You only, I have sinned.” However, even among those who attempt to assign blame against Bathsheba for David’s sin, surely none would argue that David didn’t sin against Uriah. He attempted, twice, to deceive him. When it became clear that he couldn’t, he had him killed. Therefore, it’s clear from 2 Samuel that David sinned against Uriah. As I understand rape and marriage customs in the Old Testament, it can, at most, be said that he is no longer considered to have sinned against Bathsheba because he allowed her to grieve Uriah’s death, then preserved her honor (per their customs) by marrying her and accepting their son as his own–thus preventing her from potentially facing public shame for adultery and/or having a child out of wedlock.

After David dies and Solomon becomes king, Bathsheba becomes the queen mother, with all the respect that comes with it. In 1 Kings 2:19, Bathsheba went to speak to her son, on behalf of his brother, Adonijah. Solomon rose to meet her, bowed before her and, upon being seated again, he had a throne set for her on his right. He publicly honored her to a degree that, according to https://edwardsri.com/2014/12/27/is-marys-queenship-biblical/, was unmatched by any other king.

Try this 1 weird trick to avoid eating junk food…

2019-1-18_''one weird trick'' post

Just kidding… 😀 This dish is very healthy, delicious, and will keep you from eating junk food, at least for the moment; but, it’s not a “trick.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 sliced banana
  • about 1/2 cup of Dannon vanilla yogurt
  • a tsp or so of raw honey.

The raw honey came from Bee Well Honey Farm in Pickens and is infused with orange blossom and echinacea. It’s so good… We’re currently on our second large jar of “regular” raw honey from them. Plus, this time, we tried a sample of the orange blossom and echinacea honey and that was that. 🙂

I hate vegetables…

vegetable-skewer-3317060_1920_webI’ve always hated most vegetables, both in taste and texture. Growing up, I liked canned french-style green beans and I liked canned corn; but, you can only eat so much of either. I’m 34 now. For most of the past 17 years, I’ve happily avoided vegetables in general, with some exceptions. Carrots are good in stew. Tomatoes and spinach are good in many dishes, including salads or cold sandwiches/wraps. Eggplant is decent when seasoned, layered with a slice of cheese, breaded, and baked/fried. Broccoli is mostly likable when covered in cheese sauce–or, at least, it was when I was a child. Lol. Mushrooms aren’t a vegetable, though I’m happy to treat them as one–best served pan-fried with butter, salt, and garlic, or seasoned, breaded, and deep-fried with a side of ranch. I recently tried roasted Brussels sprouts with a homemade Alfredo sauce, for which I can’t remember all the ingredients. For practical purposes, adding mozzarella cheese, cream cheese, extra parmesan cheese, and garlic to a jar of Alfredo sauce will give you a reasonable approximation of the taste. I almost liked them, which is to say that the cheese sauce made it possible to chew and swallow one. On the upside, my mom, a vegetable fan, liked it a lot.

Unfortunately, we need vegetables. So, the challenge, short-lived as it may be, is to find recipes that allow me to enjoy them–or, at least, hate them less. Last night, I decided to try a new idea. I put equal parts frozen carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower in a skillet, along with about a handful of spinach from the freezer (a handful if it weren’t frozen) and probably about half of a sliced red bell pepper. This got pan-fried until very soft, with about an inch of chicken broth, plus salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, basil, rosemary, and ginger. Sorry, I only measure my cooking ingredients when something is being baked or when I’m following a wholly unfamiliar recipe. However, I can tell you that I used a lot of garlic, a little bit of ginger, oregano, and onion, and even less basil and rosemary.

671f0b87-97dc-42ab-b699-428a50aa9678_1.27395c77a0b042964c03507d829fb115To this, I added a lot of parmesan cheese, probably about 1/2 cup total, I’d imagine, and all of this went in my stand-mixer. Obviously, I need an actual blender for vegetables; but, it did the job well-enough for a first experiment. To the final product, I added the remaining 1/2 cup or so of the aforementioned Alfredo sauce, probably about a tablespoon of heavy cream, and another tablespoon of chicken broth. If you decide to try this recipe, you’ll know when it’s right based on how it tastes to you. For dinner, I scooped a couple stirring spoons onto 1/2 sliced chicken breast, with Texas toast on the side. The verdict: I actually mostly liked it. I expect to like it better with the use of a proper juice blender, as that will get all the chunks out; but, I liked it all the same.

eggs and vegetable puree_webToday, I decided to try the same vegetable puree in/on an omelet. If you’ve ever made an omelet with anything more than cheese, you know why some of it was on top. Here too, I expect to like it more with the use of a proper juice blender, as I really don’t like the chunks/strands. However, it is bearable–which is a critical detail–and my mom likes it. To be fair, she likes almost everything I create, food and skincare, and she likes vegetables; but, it’s still nice to hear. 🙂

Comment below or on Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook with your favorite non-traditional vegetable recipes.

My bathroom smells amazing…

49344239_1135929296570291_6103115610986643456_nIt’s a reasonable bet that “amazing” isn’t a word you would often associate with the everyday smell of a bathroom; but, it does. This afternoon, before leaving to run errands, I took a simple cotton pad, added several drops of essential oil, and hung it in a mesh bag on the back of the door. When we got back, the bathroom smelled strongly of peppermint, with an undertone of lavender. Even better, between the draft under the door and the central air system, the hall and living room also smell vaguely minty. Delicious…

I’ve also enjoyed Moonlight Stroll, Outdoorsman, and Island Breeze. Moonlight Stroll is woodsy, with a hint of citrus, for a slightly relaxing feel. Outdoorsman carries a stronger aroma, like walking through a forest of hardwoods and pines. Island Breeze is very tropical, fruity, and sweet. Each of the above were compliments of newly-made packs of body wipes that lent their aromas to the room overall. Naturally, I hadn’t counted on that; but, if your bathroom must smell like wet wipes, it’s hard to think of a more appealing scent. 🙂 With so many fabulous options, I look forward to experimenting more. I hope you’ll try some also and let me know which ones you like the most.

Understanding U.S ingredient labeling requirements

I recently received a couple comments on Quora from a skincare manufacturer/beauty blogger who was “concerned” about the legality of my labeling my products in clear, easy-to-recognize, English.

2018-12-19_Quora_Exchange with Kelly Spartiatis_edited

This is only one of such comments I’ve received from her. (Yes, she’s been blocked now.) It’s worth noting that she is in the UK, where it’s, presumably, required that ingredients be listed by the botanical and/or Latin names. Within the U.S, I understand that there are many people who believe that the FDA also requires the use of INCI names (aka the Latin name) on all cosmetic products. However, my understanding, based on their posted rules, is that they do not. It is permitted, as an addition in parentheses, beside the common name for an ingredient. Likewise, it’s strongly recommended, presumably required, for products that are being marketed internationally; but, it is not required within the U.S, nor, by appearances, is it intended to be used by itself. My products are only marketed and shipped within the continental U.S.

Though I can see how my emphasis on posting in plain English might be misunderstood, it is not my intention to attack cosmetic manufacturers who, for instance, list beeswax as “cera alba” or “cera alba (beeswax).” Now that I’m in natural skincare production, I generally recognize botanical names as botanical names, besides which they are usually listed alongside the common name–making it that much easier to understand. Rather, the purpose of my marketing my ingredients as being “clearly listed, in easy-to-understand English” is to appeal to the average customer, specifically in reference to the prevalence of synthetic ingredients, each listed in Latin/chemical names and each being something I can’t tell the purpose of without Googling the ingredient. You’d be amazed at how many synthetic ingredients there are, even in mainstream, supposedly natural, products.

As a customer, I dislike having to pull up Google on my phone, to then look up upwards of half the ingredients in a product. I like having the ability to Google something almost anywhere, at any time; but, I don’t like having to. By marketing my ingredients as being labeled in “clearly listed, easy-to-understand English,” my purpose is to emphasize that you, as a customer, can look at my ingredient list and not have to ask yourself whether an individual ingredient is harmful–because, while you may or may not know why it’s used in my products, you have an idea of what it is. Likewise, you don’t have to ask yourself how many ingredients are hidden under the legally-permissible term “fragrance.” You don’t have to ask yourself whether there’s something in my products that you’re allergic/sensitive to. My goal as a business owner is to make all of my products as natural, gentle, and safe as possible. For me, a product being safe includes the ability to know if something you’re allergic/sensitive to is in the product, just by looking at the ingredient list. If there is, I’m happy to customize orders in any way I can. I currently carry 3 butters, 7 oils, 25 essential oils, 17 extracts, 4 exfoliates, cornstarch or arrowroot powder, beeswax or soywax, and bentonite or white kaolin clay.

The Messages behind Common Sayings

portrait-3037160_1920Have you ever stopped to really wonder about those messages–seemingly everywhere–that tell us to fail big?

“Fail big.”
“You succeed or you learn.”
“You never know what’s possible if you don’t fail.”
“Focus on what you’re good at.”

It’s kind of like when you’re a child and you’re upset about something not going your way, so your parent hugs you and says “it’s ok. We don’t always succeed at the same things” and then guides you toward a different activity, after which you never try that first activity again. Of course, the first part is completely true; we don’t always succeed at the same things; but, this is where many people split off: Sometimes, it’s about capability overall. Other times, it’s about capability in that moment. Sometimes, it’s not about actual capability at all, but about interest. Being able to do it doesn’t mean you’re going to enjoy it. This is where the admonition to “focus on what you’re good at” comes in. At heart, I like to think it’s meant to mean that you should do what you love; but, I very rarely hear anyone say “Do what you love. If you don’t know the things necessary, learn them.” In contrast, I have heard people tell me to get my head out of the clouds and focus on working a “real” job. I was working in fast food at the time and trying to succeed as an entrepreneur. Yes, fast food is a real job and I was very good at my job. When I left one job, a lot of customers went with me. When I left later jobs, several coworkers and managers quit too. Being good at something doesn’t mean we should be forced to accept it as the best, or only, opportunity we have in life.

I’m sure somebody will probably say that I’m splitting hairs or missing the point; but, word choice is the cornerstone of verbal communication. To me, at heart, “fail big” means nothing by itself. At the least, it isn’t encouraging. Who wants to fail big, besides a circus clown? Even s/he isn’t actually failing. S/he is making a mockery of failing in order to make the audience laugh/clap, which, in itself, is a success. In any other field, failure is failure, whether it’s a small failure or a big failure. The only question I can see in it is how much you invested in the process, be it monetary, psychological, in reputation, or in time spent, and, thus, how much you’ve lost and how well you can recover from the loss. I had a band director in middle school with a more encouraging version; he who would tell us to practice the piece and always aim to play it correctly; but, if you miss an individual note, don’t freak out. It’s unlikely that anyone in the audience is going to realize, for example, that the 3rd clarinet in the 2nd row hit a b flat instead of a b natural. What they will notice is if that person gets all flustered and misplays half the row, or stops playing entirely. Instead, his recommendation was to pause, keep your instrument in position, and come back in at the beginning of the next row. Then, he made a joke about intentionally messing up big by playing a very loud note in a different key. We all laughed; but, come concert day, no one did that. There were a couple minor wrong notes; but, with the encouragement he had given in class, we all continued on and the concert went well.

I see career goals, and life in general, in much the same way. Making a minor mistake once in a while is inevitable. However, behind the scenes, you handle this by re-examining your intentions and resolving the error that led to that minor mistake. You get everything right for presentations. If you make a minor mistake in your presentation, you keep going as if it’s an insignificant thing that you can resolve later. Did you notice the error? Yes. Does your audience know you noticed the error? Probably. But, did you draw attention to your error by stopping, shuffling through speech cards, and stuttering an apology? Nope. Of course, there are times when the error in question isn’t yours, but is technological. You can either handle this by getting upset and cancelling/derailing the rest of presentation, or you can be prepared for the possibility and make a joke about technology being meant to make things easier. In the technology field, people usually laugh at those jokes, as long as you continue on as if it’s an insignificant pebble in your path, instead of treating it like a boulder.

“You succeed or you learn.”
“You never know what’s possible if you don’t fail.”

I never really got these. Perhaps, they come from a place of always getting what you want and, thus, always succeeding, with or without trying. There were courses in school where I didn’t have to try all that hard–courses some of my classmates were struggling in–but I still learned. You learn in everything you do. You either learn that something worked or you learn that it didn’t. If something doesn’t work, there’s often something in it that would work under different circumstances.You live you learn, you love you learn.
You cry you learn, you lose you learn.

You bleed you learn, you scream you learn.
You grieve you learn, you choke you learn.
You laugh you learn, you choose you learn.
You pray you learn, you ask you learn.
You live you learn. –Alanis Morissette

In everything you do, you learn something. Similarly, in everything you attempt, you learn if something is or isn’t possible. Failing teaches me that something isn’t possible. Whether or not there are redeemable aspects in it varies by situation. In success, I learn what is possible.

What if we stop telling people to fail big? Instead, what if we tell people ways in which they can succeed, big or small. Aim to fail small. If you fail, small or big, don’t freak out. Just continue on and reassess things as needed. You may find that some major changes are in order. On the other hand, you may only need to change something relatively small. Either way, you learned.