Neti Pot: I never thought 6:30 a.m. could be so much fun.

A few months ago I pried my hands off of $22 and bought a Neti Pot from The Chopra Center's website. (Apparently in addition to be concerned with my syncrodestiny and my ability to grow younger and live longer, Deepak Chopra is also concerned with my nasal cavities.) I had been "Neti Potting" for months with just a juice glass. Now I see that an actual Neti Pot is essential to obtain the full benefits of the practice and saves an inordinate amount of time and dish washing. According to wikipedia, Neti Potting, as I call it, is officially known in western cultures as Nasal Irrigation and is "an ancient Ayurvedic technique known as Jala neti, which literally means nasal cleansing in Sanskrit, where the practitioner uses a neti pot to perform the irrigation. "

This morning I woke up barely able to breathe. I have been stuffier than usual lately, as I have been dedicating my personal time in the morning to more creative endeavors than neti potting. Like so many things that bring me true pleasure in life, Neti Potting is more fruitful as a daily practice. So this morning diverted from my routine by impassable sinuses, I went straight to the mini-day spa otherwise known as my bathroom, poured 1/8th of a teaspoon of sea salt into the Neti Pot and summoned the hottest water my faucet produces. I mixed it up, stuck the spout of my beautiful hand-fired Neti Pot up each nostril and watched the water, snot and mucus pour out of the opposite nostril and voila. With in minutes I could breathe through both nostrils.

The first breathes after Jala Neti are unlike any other breathing I do throughout the day. They are yoga breathes, deep, cleansing, cathartic inhalings of spirit. Inspiration literally translates as the breathing in of spirit. With out full, deep breathes, exactly how creative or productive can I be in the morning?
The first time I did a neti pot I remember thinking, "Oh, now I know the exact location of my sinuses.” As the Neti Pot's elixer fills them I picture my face turning into an anatomy chart with my nasal cavities highlighted by the hot salty solution. The next few minutes are spent in homage to Cameron Diaz's elevator scene in My Best Friend's Wedding where she impersonates the symphonic range of her fiancĂ©’s snoring capabilities with various gargling, snotting, and snorting. In other words, Neti Potting is best done in private. So that the snot, saliva, and salt water that are thrust about in the name of clear nasal passages don’t frighten any small children or potential life long mates. In other words it is a discombobulated unattractive process but it lets me breathe easier than I ever have before.

Energy Balancing System; a detoxifying foot bath

It's Friday night and my good friend Claire and I decided to perform detoxifying foot baths at her place and then go for sushi. I first got wind of these detoxifying foot baths about four years ago at the old Open Eye Cafe. My source was completely unreliable, tweaked out, and about to skip town due to some unfortunate law related circumstances. These were the sort of folks I met hanging around the now retired, closet-sized Open Eye. Anyhow this under-medicated, soon-to-be-outlaw explained to me that his dad was a chiropractor who operated a machine that you put into a tub of water along with your feet and it cleanes out all toxins from your body. I assumed this involved a great deal of pain or a great deal of bullshit. A few years later, however, my law-abiding, sane friend Claire related to me that detox foot baths were costing her a fortune at $40 a pop so she decided to go ahead and buy the machine for herself. She purchased the EB Pro Energy Balancing System from EB Pro. Unlike me she is a science minded individual who in fact studies various science related fields with some of the most respected professionals in the country. She swears it's not bullshit. I for one can't swear to this because while my AP science classes were going on I was conducting some research and development of my own, which had very little to do with science and a lot to do with a mild form of brain damage otherwise known as teenage experimentation. Anyhow if Claire and wikipedia can explain it scientifically I'm willing to believe it's true. I have seen it with my own eyes (and feet) now three or four times. I am certain that my feet start out in a clean pale of water with nothing but salt in it. Then Claire puts the metal thingy (known to those in the field as "The Array") in the water. This creates the therapeutic ion field. The metal thingy is hooked up to a machine. As the machine runs the tub fills up with yeast, heavy metals and other waste residues. I just wish I saw it come out of my feet or felt some pain or something. I mean how do I really know it's not coming out of the machine? But Claire and her scientist experts are more brainy than I when it comes to ionizing foot baths so I bow to them. I do feel like I've just run a marathon after I do the foot bath. Sometimes I even feel light headed. Honestly, I feel fantastic even as I am writing this 8 hours later. Claire is very generous and lets my feet release the heavy metals and yeast for free. What comes out of my feet looks and smells disgusting. Enough yeast comes out to bake baguettes for all the Frenchmen in Quebec. The heavy metals materialize resembling discarded pencil shavings and the water turns from crystal clear purified water into something resembling urine. Yet again, obtaining beauty looks ugly. But my toes still look cute. And I suppose it's fitting that I'm spellbound by this ionizing foot bath. My feet always have been my favorite body part and I doubt I'd find the whole thing half as interesting if I were expected to sit with my hands in the bath for twenty minutes.

EO Grapefruit Mint Body Lotion

When I was little I was certain my mom was crazy. (Sorry ma) I mean the Santa Claus thing sounded a little nutty, the Easter bunny sounded completely whacked out, and she carried lotion in her purse. The whole adult thing just seemed off to me. Now I'm an adult and I have just recently started carrying lotion in my purse. I justify what was once a very odd-seeming behavior by saying that I have found the best body lotion ever. It's organic, made in the US, comes in adorable, neatly-packaged, purple bottles, and in about 5 seconds can turn my boss into a peach of a woman, my desk into a lovely hunk of metal, and my car into a serene little pod driving up and down the country roads of lovely Orange County, North Carolina. What I'm saying is, not just any lotion gets the purse treatment. EO (Essential Oils) makes body lotion, my favorite shampoo, hand soap, and every other product from hand wipes to perfume to foot lotion. My organic flavor of choice is the Grapefruit and Mint Body Lotion. The ingredient list is long but includes organic chamomile flowers, aloe, white tea, calendula flowers, and mango seed butter. Also for those of you who are as obsessed with organic products as I am, or even just beauty products in general, their ingredient glossary can be used as a lay man's bible. It smells like instant heaven and the cream itself is thick but not suffocating. After a few minutes I could forget I have it on all together were it not for the ambrosial scent.

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa: I dream of nothing more than this place

Three and half years ago I spent a week with an ex-boyfriend in Taos, New Mexico. The whole weekend was like a dream but Ojo Caliente has stayed with me. 12 different minerals gather in this place to create the most rejuvenating hot springs in North Amercia. These 12 minerals do not gather in the same place anywhere else on planet earth. They tell you here that SPA stands for Salud Per Aqua, Latin for 'health through water'. We traveled south of Taos and the Rio Grande into the middle of the dessert. My memories are faint and dream-like but I remember sitting in the pool filled from a Lithia Spring, looking to one side and seeing the expanse of desert and looking to the other and seeing the expanse of red canyon walls towering above me. Since that trip I have known that I belong in New Mexico. In Taos. Someday I will be a wild haired old woman living alone and in love with the dessert and Taos Mountain.

On Wednesday of this week my heart dropped to the floor and tears came to my eyes as I audibly gasped in the middle of my office. Emily, my dear friend and road trip companion, notified me by email that she is moving to New Mexico. I have only had this job for a month and tears started to well up in my eyes. I am loosing Emily but will get to go visit. She will get to go to amazing wonderful beauty places. Natural Spas like Ojo Calinete where you immerse your whole body in a swimming pool sized mud bath and bake dry under the dessert sun. I can go visit. But more than I am sad to loose Emily (I know she will be back and we will have more adventures together), I miss that I am not living in New Mexico, visiting various health spas and Canyon Ranch-esque places. Until that day I will sit here at my humble location in Chapel Hill and write my little heart out about new beauty products and spas. And I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I can't wait to write about my trip with Emily to Ojo Caliente.

"Fun Betty"

It's time to talk about some other hair. They are making hair dye for the hair down there. I have yet to feel compelled to dye my hair down there hot pink, or black, or blond, but if I did I could order "Fun Betty" from Beauty Gone Green. I'm single. I've been single for a while and I'm looking forward to being single for another long while. I may get to try this out and no one else will ever know.


Today one of my long standing fantasies came true. Teri let me behind the scenes to check out the genius that is Beauty Gone Green and get some pictures of my favorite stuff at Spa Physiog. Now when I tell you all how heavenly Spa Physiog is, you'll have a visual reference. I also found out Eminence is making Chocolate. This could be very dangerous.

Up-dos to Brazilian Hair Straightening: It's time to talk about my hair.

I have been holding out on you in a very big way. My motives have been selfish; fear and insecurity. I have only been to Blu Icon once so I wasn't sure I would be able to write adeptly about it. Also, Julie who is the only hair stylist worth going to below the Mason Dixon Line, is an absolute treasure, and I have wanted to keep her to myself for fear of not being able to get an appointment once I let the cat out of the bag. But I now realize these motives are poor and it's 3:50 a.m, I can't sleep, and I can't think of anything better to do. So in 2008, Julie and Blu Icon are my gift to you.

My reluctance to talk about Julie and Blu Icon at first surprised me because, especially with beauty products, I figure the more the merrier. Being a woman is hard enough with out jealously guarding the very things (namely good beauty products and providers) that can make it utterly heavenly. Then I realized...oh yes this is about my hair. I have never wanted to talk about my hair. Growing up I was teased mercilessly (at least by myself, and at most by slightly older teeny-boppers) about my big hair. Thick hair doesn't cover it. It's massive in volume, excessively curly in the back while only wavy in front. There is no way to succinctly describe my hair. Frankly now that I have found Julie, that doesn't matter. So I have the styling covered. She is a genius. But the daily maintenance is well, a bitch. Mostly I am defeated and wear it up.

When I have $30 to spend I'll have it blown out which lasts for fours days due my nearly ethnic maine's thickness which can go four days and not even look remotely dirty. I told you its thick. I dream of Brazilian or Japanese Hair straightening which will leave me with beautiful pin straight, even Jenifer Aniston straight, locks indefinitely but it costs $400. So I leave myself with mostly ugly hair and then about once a month it is stunning for 4 days. During these four days I often have people who I have known for years introduce themselves to me or at least take a few minutes to recognize me. My hair can make me look like a completely different person if styled.

I just don't feel like investing two hours a day in that. So if you have made it this far you deserve the goods.... Blu Icon Color Group has been given a Carrboro Small Business loan. This loan is responsible for starting several local staples such as Weaver Street Market, Orange County Social Club and Carrburritos. Needless to say our town would be a completely different place with out the numerous businesses that have begun with this humble loan. Not unlike Weaver Street's co-op, each stylist at Blu Icon rents their own work area, books their own appointments, and makes their own schedules. This makes for very happy stylists. Anyone who has ever sat down for a blow out that takes an hour and half and realizes their stylist is nearly homicidal due to their working conditions can understand how valuable this is. Julie is happy to be there and I'm happy to be there. It makes the whole process much more enjoyable. And it's located across the street form my lovely dear Teri at Spa Physiog.

Pacifica Candles: Mmm, mmm, mmm for the smell of it

I like bringing the day spa home. In order to this in most luxurious, simple, speedy way I can think of I light a candle that smells exotic and heavenly and is good for me. Once I found Pacifica candles at Spa Physiog, I have honestly never tried anything else. Their floral, spicy, aromatic scents are created by a woman who travels the world looking for new ways to bring ol' factory pleasure to my apartment. I think for me, this indulgence is also a celebration of being able to smell. December 31 marked 3 years of not smoking and after a very long career of over a pack a day I simply had not smelled in a very, very long time. For Christmas this year I asked for Candles from Pacifica and Santa filled my stocking abundantly. Tuscan Blood Orange, Moroccan Chamomile Apple Blossom, Tahitian Gardenia, Tibetan Mountain Temple, Sandalwood, and Spanish Amber promise to fill my apartment and help me celebrate the use of all my senses the whole year through (let's hope). Ah yes and the candles are made with Natural and Essential oils, cotton wicks and soy wax. So they are actually good for me (and the planet) too.

27 is stunning, it enters through Spa Physiog

It's been a while since I have written. December was a busy month. The holidays, new car, new job, two trips to D.C., and one trip to the beach. By the end of the month I was haggard. I needed a facial and I was dangerously low on funds. I was one of the only people in my building on the official work days of Thursday December 27 and Friday December 28. I was so exhausted I was beginning to feel completely insane. I knew my funds were limited but I also knew that a call to my dear sweet earth angel, Teri Exum at Spa Physiog, would remedy every frazzled nerve and help me welcome 27 with beauty strength and confidence. I left her a message Thursday night and she agreed to see me Friday immediately after work. Dear woman. We covered the usual ground: the holidays, family, a mutual friend's wedding. Teri is excellent at the unofficial part of her job (and perhaps the unofficial job of every service provider in the beauty industry): emotional care taker. Teri understood immediately what I needed. My 27th birthday was coming up. I had just finished interacting with the monstrosity I loosely refer to as family and I was going to yet another friend's wedding. She could also tell because in the last year I had only scheduled working appointments, meaning that there was some painful but essential function to be performed such as a chemical or glycolic peel. This time I asked for just the facial, "just the fun stuff", as we call it. The pure and absolutely indulgent pleasure of a Teri Exum facial is like visiting a lush tropical garden, a shrink, and a massage therapist all in the very same hour.

She put no less than 15 different Eminence organic creations on my face each one carefully applied and infused into my face with two hot towels. My favorite this time was a new product by eminence called Raspberry Eye Masque. A week later, I still feel like it took 8 years off my eyes. I am finally at the age where a special eye cream is a necessity and I think I have decided on the Herbal Eye Contour Cream. If you try only one eminence product in your life (which would be an incredibly foolish mistake given the tremendous amount of pleasure offered and the fleeting nature of life and joy) try this one. I do not know how they make an eye treatment product (of which you put only a minute amount around your eyes) that makes your entire body smile like a confident super model, but they do. At one point I was so relaxed my body began twitching. If it weren't for this twitching I wouldn't have woken myself up thus missing the remaining 45 minutes of this ultimate sensory pleasure. This has happened to me before and I imagine it is the equivalent of a junkie buying a bag of baking soda with their last pile of cash. It is not pleasant and I recommend doing whatever necessary to avoid falling asleep on Teri's table.

That night I was a completely different person with no trace of insanity left. I ran into an old friend at the market and happily gave her and her groceries a ride home. Everyone I encountered that evening commented that I seemed to be glowing. I knew the facial was going to leave me financially broke. That seemed a small price to pay for a complete lobotomy that left me smelling of blueberries, raspberries, Jasmine Flower Petals, Evening Primrose Oil, Stone Crop, and any other fruit, spice or heavenly essence that Eminence adeptly packs into their facial treatments. Over the course the beach vacation that followed my facial it increasingly came to my attention that my day spa affinity is more accurately described as an addiction - seeing as how I am completely willing to spend my last metaphorical dime on a number of "necessary" treatments. And at the suggestion of friend I have changed the title of this blog to reflect this admission. It also seems more fitting to rename the blog as I am obsessed with day spa treatments and yet am completely willing to spend the three days immediately following said pricey treatment dressed in torn jeans and fleece pullovers with a massive knot of curly unwashed hair piled atop my head. These are not so much the habits of a beauty queen. I suppose since I was little grooming and hygiene which allowed inner beauty to shine interested me much more than loads of makeup and hairspray which somehow seemed to negate any feeling of glamour. At least that's how it was, and is, for me. And at 27 it's so nice to be me.