Spiritual Healing with Crystals

Crystals can serve many purposes. From jewelry to decoration to facial rollers and Gua Sha (the heart in middle is intended as a Gua Sha facial massager), these gemstones can uplift the spirit and bring its owner a deeper sense of spiritual health. To me, they are not just a ‘Millennial Fad.’ When I was a little girl I loved the crystals that I collected and knew that they were special. Now, I always have a rose quartz frog as a paper holder on my desk and a shell filled with crystals that I look at throughout the day, which I find to be spiritually uplifting. I sometimes meditate with a rose quartz in hand. If you also find crystals uplifting, but have yet to familiarize yourself about the benefits of crystals, the task for you is identifying which crystals speak to you and why.

For me, my three favorite crystal types are Labradorite, Rose Quartz, and Clear Quartz. I’ve included the meaning/symbolism of the three below. Furthermore, there are numerous crystals that you can identify with beyond those colors: there is Amethyst, Tiger Eye, Citrine, Jasper, Obsidian… There is something for everyone! It may not be the ascribed meaning to a certain crystal that speaks to you, rather the color or shape that speaks to you, and that’s totally fine!

There is a special connection between your Zodiac sign, the moon, and your birthstone. However, that can be your jumping off point in how your learn about which crystals speak to you. There are myriad reasons why you may connect well with a particular stone(s). Crystals are meant to help your cleanse, refresh, and center your energies, so that can be any combination of stones for you.

I think you can’t go wrong when you start familiarizing yourself more with crystals, there is only good to be had with nature’s wondrous gifts. Ideally, a deeper sense of appreciation and connectedness to your life force will be part of your journey with identifying your favorite crystals. Enjoy your gemstone journey!

Labradorite

Labradorite is considered a tremendously spiritual stone, especially helpful for people who tend to overwork. It helps an individual regain energy while aiding the body and spirit in healing itself. In the metaphysical world, labradorite is considered one of the most powerful protectors. The gemstone creates a shield for auras and protects against negativity of the world. Labradorite is said to temper the negativity within ourselves as well. Labradorite is known for its changing colors, so it is no surprise this gemstone is known as a stone of transformation, enhancing strength of will and inner worth. The gemstone labradorite is said to stimulate the throat chakra. Though not associated with any zodiac sign, supposedly the sign of Cancer is especially drawn to labradorite.

Rose Quartz

Rose Quartz is the stone of universal love.  It restores trust and harmony in relationships, encouraging unconditional love.  Rose Quartz purifies and opens the heart at all levels to promote love, self-love, friendship, deep inner healing and feelings of peace.  Calming and reassuring, it helps to comfort in times of grief.  Rose Quartz dispels negativity and protects against environmental pollution, replacing it with loving vibes.  It encourages self forgiveness and acceptance invoking self trust and self worth.

Clear Quartz

Clear Quartz is the most popular and versatile healing stone of all the crystals. It is the most powerful healing stone thought to be able to work on any condition. It is known as the stone of power and amplifies any energy or intention. It is said to protects against negativity, connecting you to your higher self. Clear Quartz is known as the “master healer” and will amplify energy and thought, as well as the effect of other crystals.  It absorbs, stores, releases and regulates energy.  It balances and revitalises the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual planes.  It aids concentration and unlocks memory.  Stimulates the immune system and brings the body into balance.  Clear Quartz (Crystal Quartz, Rock Crystal) harmonizes all the chakras and aligns the subtle bodies.

Your Astrological sign, planetary alignments, and crystals are all connected to your spiritual being.

Horst Rechelbacher’s Devotion to Natural Beauty Changed An Industry

“Love lights up the cells.”

Horst Rechelbacher

To me, there is nothing ‘cooler’ than appreciating natural beauty, experiencing the beauty of nature, and understanding you can be a responsible citizen of the world: integrating corporate social responsibility (CSR) into beauty is the way of a sustainable future — beauty is nature, nature is beauty… For Horst Rechelbacher, the late founder of Aveda, he understood this integration and created wonderful products that truly improve the health and wellbeing of people. Creating products that do this begins with understanding how our spirit, our understanding of how love drives us, can be molded into our reality: when we practice meditation and yoga, when we find our chakras more centered, we live more joy filled and happy lives as a result. This allows us to create wonderful things that brings more beauty into the world, because beauty truly does come from within. Horst knew this himself.

Growing up, I have had a special connection to this man who I never met and who passed away in 2014. My mother is from the same hometown as Horst: Klagenfurt, Austria. There is a special connection that I feel to him because I understand where he comes from. The only hair products I knew as a child were from Aveda. My mother loved to use the Aveda Brilliant humectant hair product, and to this day, the smell of that hair product immediately reminds me of my childhood and smelling my mother’s hair. Since I was passionate about learning about the benefits of natural beauty that Aveda espouses, I did a school project about Aveda and learned all about Horst Rechelbacher when I was a young girl. I studied how his understanding of plants, aromatherapy, holistic and natural medicine about apothecaries because his mother owned an apothecary in Klagenfurt all shaped what would become a giant brand, Aveda. Aveda is now owned by The Estee Lauder Companies as of 1997. Horst sold it for $300 million.

I attribute much of Horst’s successes to three things: 1) He was a product of the wonderful vocational training programs that Austria has to offer, which Horst began to attend at the age of 14. 2) He is a product of all of his learnings about plants from his mother who owned an apothecary in Klagenfurt which focuses on holistic and all natural health treatments. 3) He kept his spirit open to change: when the fast paced life of being a celebrity hair stylist began to wear on him in his twenties, he decided to reinvision the life he wanted to lead… which led him to study Ayurveda in India. In Sanskrit, the word Ayurveda means “The Science of Life.” This combination of factors with Horst’s energy and talents ultimately shaped Horst into creating such a brilliant brand as Aveda.

Horst Rechelbacher changed the face of beauty as we know it because he brought the concept of nature and beauty to market and pioneered the entire natural beauty industry. He also is a pioneer for the intersection of CSR and capital markets because beauty and nature intersect so beautifully. His niche in natural beauty unlocked a truth: responsible corporate activity helps preserve the integrity of Earth, nature and humans. We have so much to thank Horst for and there is still so much work ahead in many industries, which he paved the way for, and we must thank him for.

Horst as a young hairdresser.

Manifesting Your Vision

We all have a vision for our lives and sometimes our visions can feel unattainable. This is where positive thinking, goal setting, and a strategy to achieving your goals with the proper tools can take your far. A positive solutions-oriented mindset coupled with an adaptable strategy, you can achieve that vision! Your vision begins with writing it down. Write down your goals. This will take you far as it’s the first step in making your vision a reality. My entire life, I have loved making collages. It’s something I enjoyed in school for my art classes, but I have been creating collages since I was a little girl and gluing pictures into my diaries. I continue to believe in the power of having a vision and achieving it because I know it works.

People I have worked with often call me “Pollyanna” as I bring a positive mindset and outlook to most aspects of my life. I find that ironic because I had never heard of the character when I was growing up! About a year ago, I stumbled into a rare copy of the book from the 1940’s that was in a giveaway box in my neighborhood… The illustration of a woman on the cover of it has similar features to me. It was a fun reminder that a “Pollyanna” outlook can be powerful… when realistically applied. You can achieve anything you put your mind to.

A 1946 copy of Pollyanna that I found in my neighborhood…

Strategies For You

  1. Write down your goals.
  2. Create a plan on how to achieve your goals and stick to it. This can often become incremental and there will be subsets of goals – this is good! Remember to be realistic about how you can work towards your vision, while also having a holistic view of the results you want.
  3. Celebrate some of your ‘baby steps’ towards your goals. Make sure to celebrate how far you have come, but remember not to get too sidetracked along the way! Recommit to your vision as often as possible to keep it relevant.
  4. Adjust your sails when needed. The direction of your ship may change due unforeseen circumstances (this will happen!), so be sure that you can adapt, understanding any barriers to your vision and how willing you are to make sacrifices for your vision.

Tools To Achieve Your Vision

  • Vision Board: Being visual about the images that you have associated with your goal is helpful — it’s top of mind and you can place your vision board somewhere close to where you sleep, so you can see it first thing when you wake up. The process of creating a vision board can take a few days. Write down the images that you generally want to see and start looking for them in magazines etc. You can start laying out the cut outs onto a poster board before you start gluing. I love vision boards and believe they can be powerful.
  • Positive Affirmations or “Power Thoughts” as the pioneer of positive affirmations, Louise L. Hay, branded them. You can find many empowering books from Hay House Publishing or you can also reference my friend Natalie Glebova’s empowerment handbook, I Am Winning. It’s incredible what we can tell ourselves which can hold us back — i.e. along the lines of “I’m not good enough” thoughts can create barriers for yourself, when there are none! You have the power to change how you think.
  • SMART Goal Structure: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely (Natalie Glebova used this methodology to reach her Miss Universe title!). You can structure all of your goals using this plan (you can download templates online) to help you along the way. I have used the SMART goal template both in my professional and personal life to achieve outcomes in a timely manner.
  • Healthy lifestyle: relax and sleep well. All too often, when working to achieve our goals, people can easily neglect something so essential in helping us optimize our bodies – proper relaxation and getting good sleep each night. Perhaps a phrase made iconic from the film Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, it’s unfair to neglect our bodies for short term outcomes – our bodies need proper rest, so don’t underestimate how lack of good rest can you hold you back from performing at your best in life. This is invaluable in allowing our bodies to stay healthy. We should all commit to maintaining healthy lifestyles that prioritize good nutrition, a love of exercise (Our bodies were literally made to move! For me, taking a good walk even makes me feel brainier), and learning how to relax and maintain a good sleep schedule. This is essential in giving you the energy you need!

LoveShackFancy on Melrose Avenue

LoveShackFancy has opened a flagship destination on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. Described as “Marie Antoinette goes to The Beverly Hills Hotel,” this ultra-feminine and floral loving designer has also recently partnered with Target to launch a capsule collection with prices of less than $75 to be a more achievable price point as many dresses in the collection usually start in the $400 range. LoveShackFancy was started by Rebecca Hessel Cohen, a good friend of Aerin Lauder. Rebecca launched her company 6 years ago in 2013. A female founded and ultra-feminine brand is now gracing Melrose Avenue for all those who are florally minded.

There is a range of styles to choose from summer dresses to Bridal dresses; if you are seeking a range of bridesmaids dresses, look no further. Themes within the Bridal range include “Beach Bohemian” to “Garden Romance” to “Country Reverie,” so you have options to decide which goes best with your wedding’s setting. The ethos of this brand is appreciating nature and femininity, and who doesn’t love this feminine look?

xoxo Bianca

Gothenburg, Sweden: Earth’s Greenest City

For three years in a row now, Gothenburg, Sweden has been called “the most sustainable city” in Europe, and now, the world. The land of Greta Thunberg, Sweden is eco-conscious and forward thinking when it comes to being aware of how we impact our wonderful Earth by having the privilege of living on it. Sweden is a global leader in the tourism-sustainability movement. While travel is unfortunately put on pause for the moment (and perhaps for the good of the atmosphere moreover), it’s always good to know who leads the world and why when it comes to sustainable living. Sustainable living will not go away: we must focus on climate change.

Policy, infrastructure, and lifestyle changes are the bedrock of sustainability. The European Commission has named Gothenburg its European Capital of Smart Tourism in 2020 for its ways of living. Namely, the city’s main transportation is accessible to everyone, its hotels do not use mini plastic shampoo bottles that create excessive plastic waste, and its hotels are sourcing electricity from wind turbines.

All of these things add up to a large impact on a city, which are globally scalable solutions. While countries may vary in their ability to implement eco-friendly policy quick enough, there is urgency and the urgency to do this should be our highest priority. Unfortunately, if we don’t prioritize the green movement, we won’t have anything left to prioritize in the future since all of our resources will be gone. Let us take a lesson from Miss Greta Thunberg and the city of Gothenburg.

Stamptitude

Some things are always going to be timeless. Receiving a letter that is sealed with a wax seal is likely one of the classiest and thoughtful gifts you can give in our technology saturated worlds. Where sending a letter seems unfathomable for some now, it’s highly personalized and meaningful.

There is nothing more sincere than receiving a letter that has thought and detail put into it. Stamptitude is a small family owned business which has become the premier wax stamp producers of our time. With a social media presence of almost 60k followers, the appeal of wax seals is real; everyone likes the idea of receiving such a beautiful gift and it’s even more exciting to give. The Co-Founder of Stamptitude can be found on social media as well: @junesmessydesk and her page boasts almost 90k followers alone. People are fascinated with watching the calming videos of wax dripping onto an envelope… it’s become a new type of ASMR.

I grew up in a household that cherished letter writing, card giving, and wax seals. Sealing almost of all of my letters with a stamp of the letter “B” for my name or a fleur-de-lis symbol was commonplace for me when I was growing up. Some of my fondest memories as an adolescent include watching my mom show me how to create the perfect wax seal on letters I wrote. Wax seals are an art… getting the right amount of wax onto the envelope fold is a skill! Another skill that has become almost obsolete is the skill of calligraphy. That should never die off! Perhaps one of the most classic images we know of the wax seal is a white envelope and a red seal. The vast array of wax seals now is so comprehensive that you can virtually choose any wax seal color to match the color of your envelope.

There are many different seal designs and wax colors to choose from. A love letter… a wedding invitation… an event invitation… a note of gratitude… there are countless reasons to wax seal your cards to others and it’s a great reminder to not let the art of card writing slip away from us. We are left with a tangible reminder of another person’s thoughts and that is priceless. Happy Stamping!

xoxo Bianca

Beauty: Natural Groomed Eyebrows

There is a science to eyebrow grooming. Minimal eyebrow shaping to maintain one’s natural brow shape can make or break a beauty look. Less is more in terms of grooming; do less with your eyebrow grooming process and you will look better because of it. It’s the most underrated beauty secret and it’s a powerful one. We underestimate the power of eyebrows on a face. I have seen such a range of eyebrow styles recently and I will say, the Kardashian family’s overuse of eyebrow makeup has created a trend of unrealistic eyebrows which distracts from the face, sometimes so much so that it’s distracting from all other features of the face — and not in a good way. If you are blessed with natural brows, cherish and love them.

My first job when I was a teenager was as a babysitter at a gym. One of my colleagues had very prominently filled in dark eyebrows. I remember one of the kids asking me a question about my colleague, but she didn’t remember her name, so the girl did this motion with her hands over her eyebrows and exclaims to me, “The lady with the big eyebrows!” I learned early on that eyebrows can make or break a beauty look.

There is a key constant to grooming – always pay attention to the alignment of where hairs need to be met that is symmetrical to the face and in reference point to your eyes (see graph above). You really only need a tweezer most of the time… waxing and threading and all other types of eyebrow grooming is a bit too invasive in my opinion and too hard to maintain for it to be sustainable for you.

You don’t want to make your eyebrow grooming routine a hassle; the way your eyebrows are groomed, they should be able to naturally grow out and be groomed using a tweezer to grab a few stray hairs when needed. You do not need to commit to an entirely different eyebrow shape when it’s groomed, that is unsustainable and most likely won’t benefit your face shape as your eyebrows are the way they are for a reason.

Stay away from tattooing eyebrows (especially when you have eyebrows?!). This is a trend that I have seen recently where women will tattoo their eyebrows to fill in any slightly sparse areas because they don’t want to apply makeup. Some women will tattoo their brows even when they have hair… this is absurd. The only time it’s acceptable to tattoo your brows is if you don’t have any left in my opinion.

I have had a ton of experience observing eyebrows… my mom had hers tattooed when I was a little girl because she unfortunately lost her eyebrows early. I also had my silly phases in high school. I wanted to have the perfectly groomed eyebrow look because Megan Fox was all the rage when I was in high school, so I did my best to make my eyebrows look artificially perfect. I know that look is not necessary and I am happy to leave my eyebrows as is now and groom them as minimally as possible.

There are two major aspects to eyebrow grooming:

  1. Do not over groom them; keep the look natural…

2. Do not overuse makeup. If your eyebrows are sparse or nonexistent, you can lightly apply eyebrow pencil in fine strokes that appears like hair! Do not apply eyebrow makeup like it’s a crayon filling in a space…

If you want to fill in sparse hairs, this is a great tutorial video.

Happy brow grooming!

ASMR: Low Grade Euphoria for Stress Relief

Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a subjective experience of low grade euphoria which results in a combination of positive feelings and tingling sensations, which can be from a variety of stimuli; there are now more than 13 million YouTube videos where people film themselves producing some form of ASMR sounds for stress relief or sounds of nature.

To learn more about ASMR is all about, it’s probably best to breakdown its etymology:

  • Autonomous – spontaneous, self-governing, with or without control
  • Sensory – about the senses or sensation
  • Meridian – signifying a peak, climax, or point of highest development
  • Response – referring to an experience triggered by something external or internal

It’s also important to note that these various responses outlined above are subjective and dependent on a variety of stimuli… I am a huge proponent of finding the particular ASMR that you find most calming for yourself, because there are particular memories which are attached with sensory experience (for example, how we attach scent and memory together etc.). Last year, The New York Times wrote an article outlining the history of ASMR.

There are many reasons why people are interested in ASMR; for example, I encountered it for the first time when looking for calming background sounds when I was diagnosed with tinnitus at the age of 20. For me, listening to calming ocean sounds is really soothing, especially for managing my tinnitus which I have been able to manage very well alongside my loved ones for the past seven years, but it’s a journey that I deal with everyday. Being conscious about sounds which help destress you is always beneficial, whether you experience tinnitus or not.

ASMR stimuli can include the following:

  • Listening to a softly spoken or whispering voice
  • Listening to quiet, repetitive sounds resulting from someone engaging in a mundane task such as turning the pages of a book
  • Watching somebody attentively execute a mundane task such as preparing food
  • Loudly chewing, crunching, slurping or biting foods, drinks, or gum
  • Receiving personal attention
  • Initiating the stimulus through conscious manipulation without the need for external video or audio triggers
  • Listening to tapping, typically nails onto surfaces such as plastic, wood, paper, metal, etc.
  • Hand movements, especially onto one’s face
  • Listening to certain types of music
  • Listening to a person blow or exhale into a microphone

A niche concept on the Internet erupted to a phenomenon for a reason… ASMR is not just a ‘trend,’ it’s been a denotation of the physical experiences which profoundly affect us and which lacks in the stressful pace of everyday life. It’s up to us to change that by being mindful of our intake of sensations, our feelings, and our behaviors. On a lighter note, the famous painter Bob Ross, is a great example of a form of ASMR.

One of my favorite PBS shows when I was a kid was watching Bob Ross paint and many adults now also love to rewatch his painting videos for the calming and soothing affect his voice has with the sound of him painting. Nic Hankins is one of his contemporaries who has continued the legend of Mr. Ross. He is a wonderful example of the calming effects of ASMR. IKEA has also produced ASMR videos using their products.

Ultimately, ASMR is what you choose to make of it, which is what can be so great for your own stress relief; for example, I think that certain sounds can help for meditation, so there are some videos that I love to meditate with, specifically “The Butterfly Effect.” Moreover, you can listen to ASMR for stress relief while working or before you go to sleep. There are so many ways to integrate stress relieving sounds into your life and choose the sounds that you enjoy.

Our bodies are composed of about 70% water – vibrations matter because our body intensely listens to vibrations when so much of us is composed of water. The vibrations of sounds affect how we feel, since water’s vibrations impact who we are. In turn, that affects how we experience our lives. ASMR can help us integrate a more mindful experience in how we choose to intake sensory experience.

Pretty Vulgar Cosmetics

As a long time beauty secret devotee, I am constantly scouring the marketplace to find the next beauty innovation: to not only pursue trends, but to find innovative beauty products that have great price points and also are beautiful pieces to put on a vanity. Enter Pretty Vulgar Cosmetics. This brand’s edgy name and rosy style is exactly what contemporary shabby chic lovers look for… this beauty brand does not encompass one singular beauty style (i.e. only classic makeup looks or only edgy and contemporary looks).

This brand allows you to lean into realizing life’s contradictions and living them out in any way you please (who said you can’t wear a rose print dress with a cat eyeliner?) Pretty Vulgar is a forward thinking brand that also appreciates classic and vintage style. This is a U.S. based company, available at Sephora, and in Europe it’s now available from Douglas Cosmetics. As they say, “Embrace your beautiful contradictions.”

VivaMayr Maria Wörth

Along the shoreline of one of the world’s most beautiful lakes (if not the world’s most beautiful lake), Lake Wörthersee, sits a holistic health clinic, VivaMayr. The clinic, which focuses on four principles to wellness:

  1. Destressing
  2. Cleansing the organs
  3. Training as a factor in healing
  4. Substitution

Prominent physician Dr. F.X. Mayr found that long-term health stems from a healthy gut. Chewing our food between 30-50 times for each mouthful and eating the right food improves our gut health.

Modern Mayr doctors have expanded the principles of Dr. F.X Mayr and the Mayr Cure to create Modern Mayr Medicine. The results can be brighter skin, more energy, better digestive health, a flatter stomach and happiness from within. Prominent clients include Kate Moss, Christian Louboutin, Elizabeth Hurley, and Karlie Kloss. Locations of VivaMayr include Maria Wörth and Altausse for medical centers. Day clinic locations are in Vienna and London.

Treatments include a range of personalized medical treatments, water therapy (hydrotherapy), movement therapy (physical activity), lab infusions (vitamins), massage therapy, oxygen therapy, nutritional consultation, and cryotherapy. All of the treatment programs are bespoke and intended to fit your personal needs.

What are the ways to get there? From Zurich, there are nonstop flights to Ljubljana, Slovenia. VivaMayr is about a 50 minute car ride away in Austria. Alternatively, you can fly to the Klagenfurt, Austria airport from which the resort is a 20 minute ride away. My mother is from Klagenfurt and visiting via the flight to Klagenfurt might be best.

What is the cost? An all inclusive experience is 5,000-7,000 EUR. One week is the minimum recommended time that you should stay at the resort, and also, a calmer, less busy time is recommended for before and after your stay to help you ease into the process of wellbeing at VivaMayr.

Many fans of the treatments say that VivaMayr is more of a lifestyle than a destination. The treatment methods and lifestyle changes are easily integrated into your everyday life to improve your quality of life and health outcomes.

Karlie Kloss at VivaMayr modeling for Vogue