Category Archives: Company Philosophy

The Balancing Act of Work vs. Play

Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber’s book The Art of Time details how people today get more done, but with less satisfaction. He and others note how we confuse quantity of things done with quality of experience enjoyed.  He writes, “We now tend to simply do nothing thoroughly, we just try to do more of it.

In my career as a Scenic Designer and Painter in the theatre for 25 years, I worked hard and I played hard, but it there was no real balance. It was one or the other and in binge doses at that. I loved every minute of it, but that kind of living takes its toll. Upon retiring I was ready to practice the art of relaxation and enjoy more satisfying “play” time. However, after years of fast-forward days, weeks and months that always seemed to be speeding out of control, I found I had forgotten how to unwind at a normal pace.

Heart and Head for Music

Eventually, we arrive at the point where we lose the ability to concentrate, and as a result, unable to enjoy slower personal moments. Many experts believe that until we become more aware of the pace at which we live, we will never be able to slow down and control our natural rhythms.

Before I decided to resume working, I first had to ask myself some questions, as I did not want the new work to consume me in the way my first career did. I needed to be sure I could run down the path following my heart without compromising the work  values in my head, so I did a work/play assessment with the following questions:

  • How did I differentiate work from play?
  • What constitutes play in my life?
  • Does my current breakdown of work and play support a happy, healthy, and balanced life?
  • Would I benefit from more play and less work?

I was determined to combine the things I desired in my leisure time into the work I would be doing. Gardening and growing food, creating with my own hands and traveling to find new experiences, people and traditions are all woven into my work as a Maker of artisan bath and body products. I believe I have achieved a fairly balanced life today. I have managed to channel play into my work and work into my play, and that is a huge difference in what my day can be. A good part of my balance is that I love my job. I would hope so, as I shaped it.

monarch-butterflyThe way we use our time is most often an expression of our innermost values. Once we determine how not to abuse our work/play time, we can then use our “free time” more purposely and in a much more fulfilling way. We can improve the quality of our free moments by choosing to spend them in ways that more closely align with our passions and true nature.

If you find your joy, health, or relationships compromised, it might be time to explore your work to play ratio too, and to inject more play into your life.

What is so special about a Sea Salt Bath?

Dating back to Cleopatra, the seas have been known for the power to heal and rejuvenate. sea salt 1Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, discovered the therapeutic qualities of seawater by noticing the healing affects it had on the injured hands of fishermen. The seawater not only restricted infection risks, but patients who followed treatments involving the use of seawater found that it also promoted pain relief.

It is now known that sea salt therapy is an effective treatment that assists in the rejuvenation of the cells and also induces a healthy exchange of minerals and toxins between the blood and the water. Sea salt is hailed for its health-enhancing minerals, therapeutic properties, and all-natural harvesting process. Adding a little sea salt to the bath can stimulate circulation, ease muscle cramps, help relieve stiffness in joints, aid with arthritis or back pain, and soothe achy, overworked legs and feet. Plus sea salt helps cleanse and detoxify the largest organ in the body—your skin.

Bath Salt Crystals are produced through the natural evaporation of sea water. Salt water is captured in shallow ponds and allowed to evaporate by means of the sun and wind. The typical salt crystal “crop” takes from one to five years to produce. In high mineral salt production, the environmental conditions directly influence the salt quality through the quality of its main raw material – sea water. My favorite sea salt is from the coast of Brazil. The sea water used to make CEARA™ Bath Salt Crystals is especially clean as it is collected from a mangrove area, an ecosystem that removes undesired elements from the water.

Some of the most beneficial minerals found in Sea Water are as follows: Magnesium is important for sea salts 2both combating stress and fluid retention, slowing skin aging, and calming the nervous system. Calcium is effective at preventing water retention, increasing circulation, and strengthening bones and nails. Potassium energizes the body, helps to balance skin moisture, and is a crucial mineral to replenish following intense exercise. Bromides act to ease muscle stiffness and relax muscles. Sodium is important for the lymphatic fluid balance (this in turn is important for immune system function).

Water therapy is the combination of sea salts and water and is the basis of many powerful therapeutic treatments. There are numerous types of Water Therapy administered at spas, ayurvedic & holistic centers, and health clinics around the world. Sports therapy clinics use Hydrotherapy Baths to help patients recover from joint and muscle injuries. Dermatologists are recommending Sea Salt baths for patients with psoriasis, eczema and other dry skin conditions. Estheticians emphasize the cleansing properties of a sea salt bath to clean pores and to detoxify the bodyCancer patients use water therapy to help deal with radiation treatments.

If you are like me, there is not always time to visit a resort or spa. There are several therapies I enjoy at home with little or no mess and preparation.

1. Thalassotherapy Bath: Draw a warm bath (100-104F) and add a cup of Mineral Bath Salt Crystals. Dim the lights and soak for 20-30 minutes. Music will also add to the experience. Drink plenty of water during and after your soak. Pat skin dry when finished and wrap in a warm bath robe. You’ll feel relaxed and rejuvenated.

2. Salt Scrub: Apply an oil or soap-based salt scrub to dry skin. The shower is the perfect, easy to clean up, place for this. Be sure to massage entire body. The salts will exfoliate your skin allowing the nourishing essential oils to be absorbed. Be careful not to slip as the oils can be slick. Can also be used in the bath.

3. Detox Therapy Bath: Use an unscented combination of Epsom salts – high in magnesium  and sulfur – and sea salts – 2 cups to a bath. Detoxification of your body through bathing is an ancient remedy that anyone can perform in the comfort of their own home. In detoxification circles, your skin is known as the third kidney, and toxins are excreted through sweating . It is believed the application of seawater allows magnesium and potassium to be drawn into the blood stream while toxins are actively eliminated.

bathtub-woman1Another wonderful side effect of a hot bath is that it promotes an easier sleep and helps to overcome insomnia. A sea salt bath is my weekly ritual on Saturday nights – whether I need it or not!

My journey with a Monarch Butterfly

The Monarch Butterfly and I

“Just living is not enough, said the butterfly,
one must have sunshine,
freedom and a little flower.”
~Hans Christian Andersen

As a child I was always fascinated with the gardens of my grandmothers in the rural mountains of southwestern Pennsylvania. I loved the colors, the scents the tranquility and, oh yes, the butterflies. I would lie in the grass and watch them float through the air for hours on end. Butterflies have always had a magical quality to me. They appear so ethereal and fragile, much like fairies dancing on air. I did not know it then, but maybe somewhere deep inside my soul, that these beautiful creatures do more than just look pretty and pollinate flowers. They can serve as wonderful spiritual messengers—both literally and figuratively.

*“Overwhelmingly, cultural myth and lore honor the butterfly as a symbol of transformation because of its impressive process of metamorphosis. We can relate the butterfly’s stages of life to our own life-phases…growing pains, times of ravenous hunger, times of vulnerability, moments of miraculous expansion”.

We start out as simple beings and learn to function in the world, much like the caterpillar. We move along through life in our day-to-day activities, but search for deeper meaning. At some point, we are ready to emerge and share our true essence with the world. Much like the butterfly, we spread our wings and fly.

EGG(growing pains)

Throughout my childhood, my family moved house and neighborhoods several times, which was basically asking my three sisters and I to reinvent ourselves in new environments. We learned early on that change was something inevitable and that it was both frightening and exhilarating simultaneously.

CATERPILLAR(ravenous hunger)

Two of us embraced the thrill and the other two were more cautious. Wild, impetuous Karen chose a military career, flying with the Air Force as our father did. Beverly and Kimberly stayed in the familiar world in which we were raised. I chose a life in theatre, which took me on journeys across the country and the Atlantic. Each trip took me to a new home and a new show onstage which was  ever changing. I embraced the new environments, the new friends, the constant challenges that the theatrical stage brought to my drawing table. It was magical yet a bit frightening at times. I found love and marriage on three of those journeys, although none of them were with the soul mate I was seeking, so I continued onward and more inward as well.

In the mid-90’s, I finally recognized that a friend who had spiraled in and out of my life over the course of fifteen years was the person I wanted to accompany me on the remainder of my life journey.  He spent the summer of 1998 with his mother in NH as she lost her final battle with cancer and after twenty-five years of travelling, we decided to move to the family farm in Intervale. This beautiful Valley has now become home to me. The first thing I did? Planted gardens!

CHRYSALLIS(vulnerability)

I started with a perennial and herb garden which I designed as a healing labyrinth path. After the whirlwind of life on the road for so many years – it was part of my inner focus establishing itself in the new environment.  Walking a labyrinth is a wonderful meditation for practicing mindfulness. It brings your awareness into the present moment. It also connects you to nature and all its creatures.

I had no idea how much change was still in my future. That first garden led to three more gardens along with a discovery of healing plants and flowers and their uses. My company, Fields of Ambrosia was in it’s early beginnings when my sister Karen was diagnosed with cancer at 44. Her young passing was devastating for me. It was also the beginning of a catharsis that was long unheeded. Imagine the whole of your life changing to such an extreme you are nearly unrecognizable at the end. Although we live much longer than the butterfly, life is fleeting and time moves quickly. Sometimes we do not realize it and then, all of a sudden, the years just slipped away. I had missed so many years of my sister’s life, and my families’ lives, that the loss of her brought me back to the rest of my family with a passion. Now I spend as much time as I can with both of my  remaining sisters and their children so as not to miss anything more. I believe that butterflies can teach us to enjoy the present moment and to make the most of our existence here on earth.

BUTTERFLY(miraculous expansion)

What began as a love of flowers transformed into a small venture of making natural soaps & lotions for family, friends and myself then expanded into aromatherapy products using essential oils to help my sister through her treatments. The positive effect that these products had on her body and her mind then led me to establish Fields of Ambrosia: BATH-BODY-AROMA as a full time business and to bring my new found knowledge to others. I also became a part of Jen’s Friends Cancer Foundation in North Conway, NH. Ten percent of my profits, as well as product donations, are given to Jen’s Friends each year in the memory of Karen and Francis’ mother who both succumbed to this unfortunate disease.

My heart has been opened by the changes that I have experienced. I love more. I care more. I empathize more. I am more sensitive to the energies around me and strengthened to be less victimized by those energies. I am less wasteful in my life and have learned to keep my demands small.  I am more than I was before this journey began. I also came full circle back to my other love, the theatre, thanks to the amazing people at M&D Playhouse in North Conway, NH.

It is no surprise that my early fascination with flowers and butterflies is so prevalent in my life today. I chose the Monarch butterfly as the symbol of my business because its connection with my soul is so fitting. It also symbolizes the work that I do with Mother Nature’s bounty in creating my products – transforming simple ingredients into wonderful lotions and creams, therapeutic and healing remedies and sometimes just plain and simple good stuff!

*”We are all on a long journey of the soul. On this journey we encounter endless turns, shifts, and conditions that cause us to morph into ever-finer beings. At our soul-journey’s end we are inevitably changed – not at all the same as when we started on the path”.

*Excerpts from Animal Symbolism by Avia Venefica