Sleep And the Subconscious: An Exercise for Tapping Into Your Creative Psyche

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I’ve always had a contentious relationship with sleep.

When I was diagnosed with an unknown form of epilepsy (a seizure disorder) at 17, I was given a lifetime prescription to pharmaceutical drugs and the gift of a neurologist-sanctioned excuse to get a full eight hours of sleep a night.

My doctors stressed the importance of getting regular sleep—physical fatigue and emotional stress exacerbate the symptoms of epilepsy—but frustratingly prescribed me a medication with a main side effect of insomnia. Ah, the irony.

 

@betterbymichelle

Michelle Pellizzon

I spent many years staring into the dark as the clock ticked through the night, my mind refusing to rest.

This double-whammy of a problem—seizures and permanent under eye bags?!—lead me to eventually stumble upon meditation and mindfulness practices. After practicing full-body meditation on a regular basis, it became clear that my body was desperately trying to communicate with me … and I was not paying attention. But slowing down and listening helped me hear what my body was trying to say.

Although I wasn’t a perfect meditator (I often go days without sitting), I noticed my epilepsy symptoms went away when I did indulge in a few minutes of mindfulness a day. So did my insomnia. The improvement in my wellbeing was remarkable. Mindfulness gave me a clearer overall perspective of the world, which helped me take everything a little less seriously and have a little more empathy for other people. Perhaps most importantly, I learned exercises that allowed me access to my subconscious mind, which in turn made me far more creatively inspired and made me less anxious.  I became a better version of myself mentally and physically.

But before you get to thinking that I’m some ego-less Buddhist monk, let me be honest: I didn’t tell anyone about my weird new habits. Even though I was performing very well at work, present in my relationships, and pretty dang happy, I was worried people would raise their eyebrows at my experiments.

Then something really wonderful happened. As part of my work as an editor, I began to interview female leaders in an attempt to understand how women can change the paradigm of what it means to be a ‘female leader’ in this modern age. And I was surprised to find that the best leaders I interviewed—the ones who really walked the walk and talked the talk—all had a spiritual practice … like me. And they were a bit nervous to reveal that aspect of their personality, even though it clearly played an integral role in why they were such incredible leaders … which also resonated with me. When asked, they made it clear that they wanted to connect with like minded women who understood where they were coming from.

After seeing this pattern emerge too many times, I created oh holisticism, a collective of women interested in exploring the intersection of holistic living, mindfulness, esoteric healing, conscious leadership, entrepreneurship, and fun. Today, we count ourselves at over 1,500 members across the world.

I’ve learned a lot in the past few years while on this path, but hands down, the most important tool that I’ve learned over the past decade of experimentation is what I’ve come to call the Awake/Unconscious exercise. Whenever I revisit it, my creativity knows no bounds and I notice an elevated sense of mental clarity, and I can immediately see which areas of my life need more attention.

The practice is inspired by psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s theory of the subconscious mind. Jung believed that the subconscious (or unconscious) mind impacts the actions of our conscious, waking mind. Essentially, our unconscious influences our perspective, logic, awareness, emotional intelligence, and feelings. It’s the root from which everything else grows.

If we can tap into the insights of our subconscious mind, Jungian practitioners believe, we can access our true depth, potential, and genius. No big deal.

Here’s the tricky part: Jung stipulated that our subconscious mind is constantly trying to communicate with the conscious mind, but the two essentially speak different languages. This is because the subconscious is buried deep within our psyche. It’s tough to access, and even more challenging to communicate with. One way Jung suggested we translate what the subconscious is trying to tell us? By looking at our dreams.

Jung’s work and research led him to believe that our unconscious mind communicates best through dream imagery. While we’re asleep, the psyche can run wild and truly express itself. When I first read this, I was so annoyed. I’ve never been one to recall my dreams. For so long my insomnia prevented me from even sleeping, and now I’m usually so tired at night I don’t even remember my head hitting the pillow. Try as I might, I couldn’t remember my dreams.

So I found a solution—a way to channel my subconscious without having to keep a dream journal. In the 10 minutes directly after I wake up, I write. You know that sleepy time when you’re half awake, have morning breath, and are still kind of dreamy? That’s when your conscious mind is waking up, too, and taking the steering wheel from your subconscious. If we’re lucky, we can tap the transition and use that time to allow the subconscious to communicate.

I am constantly STUNNED by what ends up coming out during this quiet time—some of my most creative ideas or intense feelings have been ‘accidentally’ revealed to me during this 10-minute exercise. It’s amazing for when you’re stuck on a problem, feeling stressed, or just want to get clarity on a situation. Here’s how it works.

  1. Fall asleep. Get 8 hours. Wake happy.
  2. Immediately after waking up, grab a pen and paper. Don’t check your phone or technology.
  3. Begin writing. Don’t even think about it—just allow your pen to float across the paper without judging or inhibiting yourself. This is the most important aspect. Do not try to think of what to write or go back and read what you’ve written mid-sentence. Allow your subconscious to take over, even if you just write jibberish! Just don’t let your pen leave the paper. You can draw or you can write. Get in flow.
  4. If you have specific questions, write them down the night before and answer them in your Awake/Unconscious state.
  5. Stop when you feel ready. You can do this exercise daily, weekly, monthly! Whatever.  

Like all things, the more you do this exercise the easier it gets. And it’s so easy, you can do it from bed! You’ll likely find that you’ll look forward to this practice, because it’s so interesting to see what the subconscious reveals.

#beautyzzzs, @betterbymichelle

Apply your skincare + Makeup like a pro: Fiona Stiles dishes her top skin + makeup tips

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“I almost forget that there’s real weather In other parts of the country. LA’s climate is so ridiculous that the years and years I spent on the east coast seems like a far away dream. But those winters are real and your skin needs some extra love. I truly believe in an occlusive barrier in the winter to combat the effects of the wind chill. Using a products like the HollyBeth Rose Geranium moisturizer will help keep the moisture in even while the wind whips about your face. Water based moisturizers will evaporate in the cold, so you want to create a barrier to keep the moisture in. Radiator heat is no joke either, so when you get back into your cozy house slather on that balm or oil and let your face soak it in. Skin looks different in the winter, makeup can just sort of look like it’s sitting on top of the skin. Find blushes that have a very soft mica in then so that there’s a pretty glow on the cheeks (without looking sparkly) and find blush shades that are closest to your skin tone; soft peaches, rose tones and blush shades are best. Leave the bronzer for warmer months. Anything too bright or too “poppy” will not feel integrated and will sort of “stand off” the face.” Fiona Stiles

How to get the most bang out of your beauty bounty: what products can’t you live without, Fiona?

There are too many favorites to list here, truly your eyes would glaze over because I have a deep and special love for ALL of the products in my kit, but there are for sure ones that I would be crushed if I couldn’t use on the daily and here they are in no particular order……

Tata Harper Illuminating Moisturizer: I love this for the face of course, but at work I am constantly using it on the body for a gorgeous, soft radiant glow on the clavicles, shoulder caps, legs etc.. Plus the smell is out of this world….

Kejiwa Venus Love Spray: One spritz of this “psychic mist” will transport you into another world. It’s meant to clear the energy around you, and I certainly use it that way on set, but I also like to use it as a face mist during skin prep. It lets the model or client take a deep breath, re-center and relax, which just makes for a better day all around. And it works beautifully to set the makeup. After setting the face with loose powder, I like to mist this onto the face so that the powder melts into the skin, allowing the makeup to look more seamless.

French Girl Lip Scrub:  A lot of what I do as a makeup artist is dependent on a well primed canvas. The first thing I do when someone sits in my  chair is asses their skin to see if there’s something that needs special attention… is their skin oily or dry, do they need to exfoliate their skin, or their lips? If I’m going to do a bold lip, those lips need to be in perfect condition to receive the pigment. I love to use the lip scrub from French Girl. It’s like eating a french pastille and the sugar and oil combo really do a knock out job of getting the lips silky smooth.

Orgaid Vitamin C sheet masks: These are great for pluming the skin and prepping the face for makeup. It’s also just a wonderful, quick, luxurious treatment that isn’t expensive, doesn’t take an hour and has immediate, noticeable results. Nothing beats a good sheet mask (and this one has an incredible ingredient deck so you can feel good about all of those ingredients soaking into your skin).

Anastasia Brow Wiz Brow Pencils: They’re just the best on the market. The colors are spot on and the formula is the perfect consistency for creating the loveliest brow. There’s a shade match for everyone in her line so all brows are spoken to.

NARS cream blushes: The range of shades in this line is just so delicious and the consistency of the cream blushes is incredible; they blend perfectly onto bare skin or onto foundation. I’m not actually even sure how many of their cream blushes I have, maybe all of them? They’re like Pokemon cards for me, I want to collect them all!

Fiona Stiles Beauty mascara: Sooooo many mascara run on me and make me look like a feral raccoon at the end of the day, but this mascara gives me insanely long, full lashes with zero smudging. It makes even the shortest lashes look fluffy.

Maybelline Lash Discovery mascara: The teeny, tiny brush on this is what makes it so special (and a staple in my kit for over 10 years). I can find all of the invisible tiny lashes at the inner corners with this brush and magnify them, making the eyes seems wider and bigger. I’m not sure how many tubes of this that I’ve gone thought over the years, but it’s a LOT.

Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Illuminator: Here’s another product that’s been in my kit for ages. I love that it’s a transparent liquid illuminator. It doesn’t make the skin lighter or darker, like some highlighters can, and it melts into the skin seamlessly, just making you look like you are surrounded by candlelight 24/7. I always know this will make the skin look drop dead gorgeous on the red carpet….I pop a bit on the tops of the cheekbones and a little along the top 1/3 of the bridge of the nose. I’ll even mix it into under eye concealer to bounce light back and reduce the appearance of dark circles and underage bags. It’s a miracle product.

Charlotte Tilbury’s lipsticks: Which ones? ALL OF THEM. Her colors are incredible, as are the formulas. There isn’t a shade that I don’t like (or that I don’t own).

Personal faves from Fiona S medicine cabinet

Goldfaden MD Doctor’s Scrub: I use this at least 3-4 times a week. I have never used a scrub that is better than this; the micro-fine particles make it so that you can really massage it into every nook and cranny of your face and they really get the job done. My pet peeve is a scrub that feels thin and sparse and leaves me feeling unsatisfied. This one leaves me 100% satisfied.

Goldfaden MD Sun Visor SPF: I’ve been known to say that I won’t switch on a lightbulb without putting sunscreen on first. I think it’s your best line of defense when it comes to aging. I’m not sure how many bottles of this I’ve gone through, but it’s a substantial amount. I have a real issue with product textures, especially sunscreens, and if it doesn’t feel good, I just won’t use it. This feels like nothing on the skin and it doesn’t mess with your makeup, or make your skin a funny color like so many natural sunscreens do. It’s my holy grail product.

SkinCeuticals Retinol: In my personal life I lean towards non-toxic beauty products, but I still get down with this because the efficacy is just so good.

Heir Atelier Eye Primer: I have oily skin, and oily eyelids, so an eye primer is a must for me. This one doesn’t make my shadow look dull, or change the color of it, and it keep say eye makeup crease-free from dawn to dusk.

In Fiore Veloutee Balm: In real life I’m a total lip balm girl. When I’m running around town or working I just need moisture on my lips and I don’t want to have to worry about reapplying  a lip color. I love how chic this balm is, and it makes my lips feel velvety soft. Plus I use it on my cuticles and around my eyes when I’m not wearing any makeup.

As a makeup artist, what is the one piece of advice you’d like to share? Are there any makeup application tips you can share? What are the best tips for achieving a “natural” look and flawless complexion (tools, product, application, treatments, lifestyle tips, etc.)?

Even when I do a strong editorial look, it still has a “natural” feel to it. I never want the skin to feel dead or flat, that makes an image feel static. I love the life and tangibility that comes from “feeling” the skin in an image. You can add all of the highlighter in the world, but if you put it on heavily covered skin, it looks two dimensional. I remember staring at my daughter’s skin when she was a few months old and marveling at how it looks the side of a lit candle;  the texture was perfect but there was an inner glow that beamed out from it. That’s what I am for when I do makeup.

So that said, how do you create that. It all depends on the person so there isn’t one tip or trick that will cover all of the bases, but there are a few universal tools and suggestions that work across the board. Prep the skin in a way that’s best suited for your skin type. If you have dry skin (no visible pores, fine wrinkles) you can really go for it on the moisture front. Oils, balms, rich creams, the richer the better. That will help bring life and luminosity to the skin (favorite products for this category: * Kahina Argan Oil //one of the purest Organ Oils on the market//, * HollyBeth Organics Rose Geranium Moisturizer, Leahlani Skincare Bless Beauty Balm). Use cream blushes (again I love NARS, and also Kjier Weiss as well as Kosas) and only powder where you need it.

If you have oily skin, use a more lightweight moisturizer (I love the one from * Schaf and the matte moisturizer from *Earnest Supplies) and find a foundation that won’t sink into your pores. I go back and forth between a cream blush and a powder blush, it really depends on the look, but with oily skin, sometimes a powder or stain lasts longer than a cream (the Glossier Cloud Paint is pretty great).

You just can’t go wrong with a * beautyblender, it truly makes a difference in how your makeup goes on and blends. It that feels like too much for you, then I swear by dense synthetic foundation brushes, they melt the product right into your skin. And the great thing is that the inexpensive ones are just as good as the expensive ones. It’s one of those few times that there’s real democracy in makeup tools!

Here are the steps to a beautiful, natural look that any one can wear:

– Fill in your brows if needed and brush them up and set them with a clear brow gel. I don’t feel put together if I don’t set my brows. Plus the gel makes them look a bit shiny, which is sexy.

– Apply cream bronzer on your cheeks and then add a pop of a fresh, bright cream blush. It adds dimension to the face and depth to your blush.

– Curl your lashes. I love the one from * Surratt. Curling your lashes really, truly makes a difference in how you look. No one escapes my chair without a proper curl.

– I love the Lid Tints form Jillian Dempsey on the eyes for a cool, unfussy look.

– Lots of mascara, because well, I just love mascara. You can use brown if you want, but I love a rich inky black. Brown is lovely on the lower lashes if you want something a bit softer.

Dior Lip Glow in Berry or the Lip Stains from Vincent Longo. They give your lips color without the fussiness of lipstick.

Dive deeper into Fiona’s amazing curated assortment of hard-to-find and the best of beauty from around the world @ Shop Reed Clark.

Truly Transparent with Goldfaden MD

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The skin is the body’s largest organ and research proves it capable of absorbing up to 60% of the ingredients in the products we apply. Many synthetic ingredients have been recognized to cause skin irritation and may lead to damaging effects longer-term. All of our products are made without hars synthetic ingredients; we are committed to create safe, yet effective products that utilize the most effective and innovative naturally-derived, result driven ingredients.

To show you this, we enlisted the help of some of our influencer friends on social media to help show you why they use our products! See below to see what some of them had to say:

@courtneeruthie: Goldfaden MD has been a dream for my super sensitive skin being organic plant based with no gluten, toxins, alcohol, silicone, or mineral oil. oh and no animal testing! At 23, I just now understand the importance of taking care of your body and skin. It’s made the biggest difference! What you put on your skin is just as important as what you put in it.


@alexandra_asnaghi: Do you love your skin? I take care about the largest organ of my body with Goldfaden MD and the vegetarian, gluten-free, plant based skincare line. Today: Detox Clarifying Facial Wash! So soft and foamy. I wear green, and you?

 

@ilonashabovta: Invest in your skin \\ …taking care of your skin is so important & what you put on it is just as important as what you feed your body. That’s why I love Goldfaden MD bc its a plant-based, dermatologist-developed skincare line that doesn’t test on animals and is paraben free. After my sun-kissed vacation this stuff is magic.

 

This is our pledge to you! See below for some more info on our products and scope out our selection here if you’d like to shop!