Sustainable Halo

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song. – Chinese Proverb

Move along… May 31, 2009

Filed under: Adventure! — Simple Jess @ 3:09 pm

As my departure draws closer, the days seem to evaporate into a puff of hazy, quickly swirling vapor. I am focused but also experiencing the carefree and lucid mindset of the adventurous traveler. The things that usually matter on a day to day basis do not and I am no longer making plans in my Virginian community. I am also not making many plans for my future home in Coronado because I am ready to arrive and feel the place out in order to get a sense of how to plan things. Sure, I have my future gym picked out and my son is enrolled in pre-school for the fall. But I have let go of the persnickety planning that I used to do and it feels great. The adventure is beginning to unfold.

It does help that I am familiar with San Diego. I used to live there five years ago and am excited to experience the nostalgia but curious to see how things have changed. A lot can happen in five years! After all, we have had two children and experienced a lot of growth ourselves. I am sure that San Diego has grown too.

I chose to drive with my two boys across the country and am excited, although realistically wondering what kind of trouble I am getting myself into! We are stopping a lot along the way to visit family and friends all over the map. This is the kind of adventure that I have craved for years now. Yes, I know that it will be a challenge with my little munchkins along for the experience but I would have it no other way. They are really good in the car and this will test their little mettles.

My excitement and anticipation grow as I prepare for and dream of all the great times we might have in Southern California. I have said my goodbyes to everyone and had one more night of fun in Virginia this past Thursday with Lauren and Brook. It is bittersweet but as I have learned from all my other moves; it is one of the best opportunities for growth that I found. It tests your friendships and provides a new path for your relationships to travel upon. In July, I will hop North to Napa and visit my friend Stephanie who will be flying in from Virginia to stay at her home there and run a half marathon. I might never have done that with her if I had stayed in Virginia.

This time of expansion is a bit scary but I am up for the challenge; more so, I am ready to do this. It is time.

I have my days of almost pure stress because I am trying to juggle several things at once and have no good cushion to land on because my security here in Virginia is no longer something to rely on. I am learning how to avoid the trap of stress induced anxiety which leads to me being a less effective parent. I am learning that I do not need the securities that I always relied on before in order to provide a safe and loving environment for my children. Of course, I look forward to having some of it again once we land in our new community but know that it is not a necessity. The life of a military family is often exciting with a little bit of drama but a whole lot of love. One thing is for sure. It gives you, as my Dad always said, “… gravel in your gut.” It is positively one heck of an adventure and my gratitude is constant. I treasure my family, my friends and this beautiful country that I am about to travel the old school way…kids screaming and all:)


Quick note: Door to door salesmen May 22, 2009

Filed under: Quick Notes — Simple Jess @ 6:28 pm

I just had a door to door salesman try to sell me steaks at my door. In the past, I would have had to come up with a creative story to explain why I did not want to partake in his endeavor. We have all been there; I know you understand. But it got me thinking:

What if someone came to my door offering fresh veggies and fruits? A local; someone who was recognizable and sincere. Offering you a variety of produce and sustaining your community! What a difference!

So, since I do not consume meat or dairy products I had the PERFECT excuse! His first line was, “You eat steak like everyone else, right?” And I laughed, truly laughed softly and said, “Actually, no, we do not. We do not eat meat or dairy.” He shook my hand and moved on very quickly. So if you ever want a quick solution to the door salesman, this is your ticket to freedom!

All joking and camaraderie aside, it made me feel so good. Sometimes I feel a bit detached from society, even though I try really hard to blend and not offend. There are rare moments such as this that make me feel like I am really moving in the right direction in an instant gratification kind of way. Of course, I always carry my moral and ethical standards with me, day to day, moment to moment; but there is something really sweet about killing two cancers with one stone.

I do not judge or resist anyone. I really don’t. But sometimes my ego creeps in and says to me, “Wow, you are justified.” I have to decide if I want to let it have an affect or not. In this moment, I let it in. I will not let it blow my ego up but I will let it be a kind and gentle reminder that I am doing the right thing for me. I will take that man’s quick exit as a compliment and confirmation to a commitment and sacrifice I have made for what I deem to be a greater good. You never know, who knows what affect I had on him. Hopefully, it was a positive and honest impression…it felt really good and free.

I had to share this as quickly as possible because I have so much going right now and wanted to make sure that I documented it for myself and for anyone else who found it moving. Move along, my dear friends. It is worth the moments of clarity and transformation!

Love and light,


Time Out!

Filed under: Inspirations — Simple Jess @ 8:51 am

One never knows when a tragedy or disturbance of some kind will come along and wipe the slate clean for you, starting things over or at least calling for a time out.

These events can vary in severity; the intensity levels exist on a very broad spectrum of discomfort. Some happen quickly and end just as fast while others build up into a blowup which might go on for awhile. But when a difficult situation arises, we do not always know how we will react. We cannot gauge it by looking at how we typically live our lives because a response to an emergency brings out an awareness in us that we most often are not in touch with. Everything else melts away and you are left with that moment only. It brings everything into a different focus.

Most of us go along without worrying too much about what “might” happen and some of us push boundaries, exposing ourselves to the constant pressure of growth, diversity and renewal. Then there are those who paralyze themselves, not branching out into life for fear that they will hurt or uncomfortably expose themselves, maybe even lose someone they love. But, in the face of a challenge, we cannot always predict our reaction.

Whatever it is that sustains one’s degree of contentment during times that are strained or difficult is elusive. Some throw their entire faith into God or some other spiritual force. Others just live in a place of acceptance. Ultimately, the importance of sustaining one’s balance in life is unmatched and when facing strife, acceptance, confidence, curiosity, hope and growth are all necessities.

One of the most obvious opportunities for deep growth and clear messages of direction is when one becomes ill. Yesterday, I had an experience with illness that really shook me and sent me to a place in my mind that I have not visited in awhile. It was painful and scary but also enlightening.

I awoke and got the boys fed and dressed. My husband and I got ourselves ready to take him to work. We are sharing a car until we settle into our new community and that in itself has been a relationship builder. It takes a good dose of team work to manage that and I have to say that I am proud of how we have handled it thus far! This morning was like any other except for a feeling like I had a blister on my toe. This was not unusual since I get blisters on my feet often from running, so I payed little attention to it.

Now with my husband at work and getting myself and the kids settled back into the house. I decided to cut my son’s hair. I was feeling cold so we went onto the deck in the sunshine. It felt unusually warm and nice. When I stepped back inside my chill came right back and I noticed that my toe was really hurting me now when I put my weight on it. I took my youngest son upstairs for a nap and began to struggle with even the stairs. I was light-headed, short of breath, weak and sore all over. My mouth was really dry and I felt nauseous. I was not sure what to make of this.

I would describe myself as someone who handles pain well and takes a bit of pride in toughing out any kind of spell but I was pretty sure something was wrong. I called my husband, who had no car mind you, and he said I would have to drive to his work place so he could take me to the ER. Our sitter is on vacation and things were beginning to deteriorate pretty quickly. My only other choice was to call an ambulance but, again, the kids?

I managed to get us all in the car with food, drinks, diapers, you know, all the stuff! We took off and my lethargic state increased in intensity with every mile I drove. I resisted the urge to pull over because of that desire to control the situation, not panic and make it easier for everyone. Was this the best choice? I do not know. I just know that I got myself and the boys to my husband and we went straight to the ER.

They could not tell me exactly what had happened to me but they could not ignore my declining functions. There was a red line already working its way up my ankle so they quickly hooked me up on the IV for an aggressive antibiotic treatment. I tried to keep my cool and maintain a sense of humor throughout the experience but inside I was scared. Being a mother, one cannot help but first go to one of the darkest places in their mind. What is this and can it leave my children motherless?

I thought a lot about my family and how our upcoming transition has gotten us all a bit distracted. I was saddened at the thought of moving further away from some of our family members and suddenly felt pretty insecure. I laid there worrying a bit and also thinking, “Well, this is perfect timing. Isn’t it just the way of life to have something thrown at you when your plate is full.” I have been so busy making last minute plans with friends, getting ready for my final days in Virginia and preparing my family for the move that it seemed only natural that I was provided with a time out.

It gave me pause for reflection and a good dose of reality. We are never completely safe in our physical bodies so it is imperitive that we live each moment to the fullest. If you need a rest then rest! If you love someone then go tell them right now for no reason. If you haven’t spoken to someone for awhile and always regret it, give them a call! If it has been a long winter for you, go eat your lunch in the sunshine. Whatever it might be, just fully live the moment you are given and give it your complete attention.

My toe is okay and I have follow up treatment today but it was a realistic tap on the shoulder; a reminder of my mortality and that I sometimes need a time out. It gently nudged me to keep my halo spinning and growing sustainably; to keep dreaming and opening myself up to the possibility of this moment.

Love and light,


Gimme More May 16, 2009

Filed under: Inspirations — Simple Jess @ 11:28 am

Sometimes I feel like I am 40. I do not know why this is, since I have never been 40 and do not really know what it is like to be that age. Many of my friends are older than me and it just seems like I gravitate to an older attitude. I have a desire for their wisdom. My life has thrown me in many directions and maybe I just feel tired, I don’t know. I find myself drawn to the magazine More, for mature women. I’m no spring chicken, you know, I am 33. But I do not technically qualify as one of their readers. But I love reading the articles and it speaks to me more than most of the other mags that target moms, younger professionals and homemakers. More does just what it describes itself to be, it gives you more. It is a really nice blend of information and inspiration without the bull, which is something I believe most women in their 40’s and beyond demand.

Perhaps it has something to do with having just birthed two children, back to back, and being married to someone who is never home. My day to day experiences are challenging and at times I feel like I barely know myself anymore. This is a good thing, though. As scary as it can be, sometimes you just have to jump into the deep end and not worry about what type of swimmer you will be. You may find yourself backstroking for awhile because the sun in shining gently down and you want to admire it face up. You may find yourself treading water because you cannot decide on anything else to do at the moment. Or you may struggle to find your position in a sea of swimmers as you get kicked and dunked and ignored for awhile. Without knowing the outcome, you just have to jump.

I feel as though I have jumped; leaped into living without a map or comfort zone. Diving into the world without trying to control it has become cathartic for me. I see relationships getting stronger and experience an honesty that is refreshing and free. I worry much less about others think of me and it just feels great. I imagine this as the type of transformation women experience upon entering their 40’s and I yearn to infuse my 30’s with a bit of that wisdom. I know that I have not earned the 40 badge yet and know that I have a lot yet to learn. My friends and mentors who have aged well continue to inspire and challenge me. So, I pick up this magazine at the market with pride but sometimes wonder if I have found a publication of secrets not meant for the girl in her 30’s. I conclude that the wisdom of women should be shared with everyone and encourage anyone of any age to flip through that magazine, it could really surprise you.

Give me More please!

Love and light,


Love’s Baby Soft and Coca Cola May 13, 2009

Filed under: Sustainable Living — Simple Jess @ 9:02 am

Over the past few years, since having my children, my tendency to seek out holistic, organic and natural products and practices has grown in intensity. It began with natural bath/body products and baby clothes but quickly transformed into an all encompassing effort, including changes with our food, toys, birthing practices, diapering accoutrements, house cleaning goods, carbon production, etc. I could go on forever it seems.

This does not mean that I have completely overhauled my life or that I expect perfection from myself in making these changes. It really is a long process for most. Especially if you share your life with others who do not share the same desire. I am fortunate that my children are very young so they do not know the difference. My husband has been good about accepting that these things are important to me, even though he thinks that the added expense is an unnecessary waste and thinks, in general, that I have gone a little bit too far on the “crunchy” route. But, bless his heart, he mostly does not quibble. Especially when I show him the money we are actually saving in other areas. He even likes some of the changes and continues to grow himself. As long as I give him the space he needs to progress on his own, things are fine. I have noticed that he is increasingly more receptive to these matters as he witnesses a friend struggle with cancer.

I often tell myself, “Live like you have cancer.” I do not want to find out I have it and then rearrange my habits accordingly. Instead, I would rather learn from those who have it or have survived it and do my best to take care of me and mine in such a way that either prevents it or sustains our health to a level that is strong enough to fight it if it does happen.

But, one’s sanity is a large factor in the sustainability of a complete and whole life. No matter how well meaning our intentions are and how much we learn about important changes that need to be made, our progress is often slowed down by trying to go whole hog. This works for some, but for most of us it is counter-productive and impedes a process that benefits from the ebb and flow of steady transformation.

I have not used Love’s Baby Soft since I was a teenager, when sunbathing and starving my already skinny body were my efforts to achieve a “sexy” look. But, it really does smell good and even though I am now turned off by most imitation scents, I put a bottle in my shopping cart when I was at Target the other day. I pressed the button and it sprayed into the air…I was finished, it went straight into the cart. I did, however, make a conscious decision to purchase it with the understanding that reverting is sometimes necessary. I will probably not buy another bottle, for a very long time anyway, it is just something that I decided to do to reminisce.

I also have decided that on occasion, I will allow myself a Coca Cola. I know it is void of anything good for me and that it is actually a bit like poison in my opinion, but shucks, it tastes good on a hot day. Again, as long as it is a conscious decision, I think it is something that I will grow out of. If not, at least I know that I will never be addicted to it. I had one the other day and it tasted great. I do not want another one though. I know this is the antithesis to Coca Cola’s efforts at keeping folks sipping on their globally popular kool-aid.

Just keeping it real here! It’s all about keeping it real at Sustainable Halo. Whatever your “treat” may be, keep it real and keep it conscious. Make every effort you can to incorporate healthier substitutes and you will find that it becomes less of a treat and more of an alien product that just doesn’t seem “right.”

I am off to spend the day at the Botanical Gardens with Graham, Peter, and some friends. Enjoy your day! And do not forget to give to yourself and others.

Love and light,


Work Out! May 6, 2009

Filed under: Mind, Body and Spirit — Simple Jess @ 4:12 pm

Yesterday was one of those yucky days. It seemed like everything was shaping up to design a square, boxing me in and challenging me at every corner. I called my sister and she was experiencing the same thing. She said, “There must be something in the air,” and I replied, “I hope so because if this is all me, I don’t know that I can own that right now!” It was a nice reminder that life is so much bigger than you and when you cannot see the forest through the trees, its okay to sometimes just surrender; to stop barreling through the constant quandary and allow the atmosphere’s inevitable current to position you; instead of resisting, trying to control it and ultimately tiring out.

I chose to let go. I went home, let go of the idea that I would get a work out in and settled into another impossibly rainy and muggy day. While the boys played, I had a rare opportunity to sit and watch Oprah. It was much needed and my last post explains why it was so meaningful. After getting the boys settled, fed, bathed, read to and encouraged for bed, I had a bowl of curried lentil soup and a few dark chocolate chipotle hazelnuts from Trader Joe’s and sat back for a night of letting go. I knew that I would muster what I needed to regain my sanity with a work out tomorrow.

Today, I made it through the rain and yuck to the gym. I worked out so hard and it felt so good. You see, working out makes me happy. I am naturally a physically active person and it is the quickest and healthiest hammer I have in my wellness toolbox to snap myself out of a funk. I don’t even have to try these days because I have been doing it so long. Its like riding a bike. Its muscle memory. I worked out so hard. My entire shirt was soaked and I looked like I had peed my pants. The advantage to being 33, having 2 children and not really caring what others think is that I have the freedom to really just do what I want. Never let them see you sweat, my tush!

I have a theory that is still under development and am very eager to it share with you all when we launch in January 2010. So I must end my explanation of that at this time. For now, I will just ramble on and hopefully reach out to you with this simple blog. The adventure that is Sustainable Halo is really a dream for both Lauren and I and we are humbly thrilled to have you along for the ride. We promise to have much more substantial and thorough information for you in the future.

So my day continues…

Peter was an angel and slept 3 hours for his nap, while Graham locked me out of the house and continues to test my patience with his terrible, yet terrific, two year’s old moxie.

Whatever it is that you find to be a strength of yours, mine is exercise and physical activity, take some time for yourself to give it your all for 2 straight hours. Give it your all, push yourself and, most importantly, try to transition from that activity into another dimension of growth; like reading a book, cooking up a great meal, meditating, watching a movie, whatever you find as a nice soft place to land. Life will often throw you a curve ball so you need to hold onto that motion and bank the energy…YOU”LL NEED IT!

Love, light and peace,
Jess and Oprah May 5, 2009

Filed under: Charity — Simple Jess @ 5:39 pm

I had the fortunate experience of watching the Oprah show when it aired, instead of digitally recorded. It was one of those moving shows that makes me take a seat from my household tasks for a moment.

I enjoy the Black Eyed Peas in my own way but never really loved them and was really excited when came out with his own album because his talent is so unique. Then, during the presidential campaign, he was all over the place. His video, New Day, was touching and inspirational; I shared with all of my friends via email. He quickly commanded his position in my list of top entertainers.

Today, this artist exceeded my expectations of what might come next from his remarkable talent. He decided that he wanted to start sending young adults to college. The inspiration that moved him during the election became his desire to invest in the future of this great nation of ours, our youth. His original goal was to send one deserving student to college and he asked Oprah to come up with 4 contestants who came from a single parent home. After reviewing their stories, his motivation carried him even further in his philanthropic ways and he chose to send ALL FOUR!

It was so moving to see not only the recipients’ reactions but to see the donor’s. He teared up and asked them to keep learning and pass along the message that single parents are the backbone of this nation. Two of the students had been accepted to schools in Virginia, Hampton University and Virginia Tech, and now their dream is a reality and their special energy will be blessing our local universities!

For more details on the show go to:

For information on’s new scholarship program go to:

Where do find your inspiration? Your family? Your church? Your friends? Or are you lacking in inspiration? Check out these links and it just might give you a gentle shove to help someone out. Even if you have no money and very little time, hold the door for someone. Really get down and look your child in the eyes and tell them that you love them. Tell your local bank teller or grocer how much you appreciate their kindness when you visit. Do something. ANYTHING. Big or small, do what you can to nurture this country. Wrap your sustainable halo around your world and watch it go boom!

Love and light,