Give Yourself a Little Love

We’ve all heard it said that we can’t love others unless we first love ourselves. It’s true. We can’t give something that we don’t have. So…even in the midst of busy days and hectic schedules, be sure you’re finding ways to give yourself a little love.

One of the best ways is to pamper yourself is with a day at the spa. Nothing soothes a weary spirit better than an hour-long massage, a relaxing facial, or a sweet-scented body scrub.

English: lemon balm Deutsch: Zitronenmelisse

Lemon balm

But, wait! Who’s got time to spend a day at the spa? Besides, professional spa treatments are costly. Sure, they’re worth it — if and when we have the time and money.  The good news is that we don’t have to go to an expensive spa to reap the benefits — and pleasures — of spa services. We can indulge ourselves at home with easy-to-make spa treatments for facials, body scrubs, and more.

And what about that massage? Set aside an hour — or two — to share with the one you love. Need I say more?  Include juice or wine, fruit, cheese, and good music, and you’ll be creating a memorable experience for both of you.

Here are a few resources you might enjoy:

Couples Massage DVD

Intimacy Spa – Sensual Massage for Couples

Plantlife Massage Oils

The Book of Massage

The Massage Bible

Music for Massage

Sacred Presence – Song for Loving Touch

In addition to soothing and sensual massages shared with one you love, you can give yourself a little love by creating your own body scrubs, facial masques, and more. These home-spa products are easy-to-make, and a true pleasure to use.

Bubble Baths and Sensual Soaks

One of the quickest, easiest, and most enjoyable bath product recipes in my collection is this ENERGIZING GREEN TEA SOAK. It’s perfect for those times when you need a break between your workday routine and a night on the town. It’s refreshing, too, after a long work-out.

  • Combine 1/2 cup Epsom salts with 1/4 cup loose green tea leaves. Add in two tablespoons of dried herbs. Rosemary and lavender work well. You can also try lemon balm or mint. Add two tablespoons of orange or lemon zest (store-bought or freshly-grated). Mix these ingredients well, then tie them into an old pair of nylon hose. Draw a warm bath, drop in the bath bag, and let it “steep” as the tub fills.

If you like lavender — and who doesn’t? — you’ll love this SOOTHING LAVENDER SOAK. It’s ideal before bedtime. Lavender has a fresh, clean scent that will relax you and send you off to sweet dreams.

  • Add 10 drops of lavender essential oil to a warm bath. Pour in 2 cups of warm whole milk.  Relax. Enjoy.

To nourish your body and easy dry skin, try this HEALTHY SEAWEED SOAK. Seaweed powders are available in health-food stores. You’ll find both kelp and dulse. Either can be used for this soak.

  • Fill your tub with hot water. While the tub fills, pour in 1/4 cup of dried seaweed powder. Allow the powder to steep for several minutes, then add 1/4 cup Epsom salts, 3 drops lemon essential oil, and 3 drops lavender essential oil, or substitute another favorite fragrance for the lavender.  Soak for 15-20 minutes.

Scrubs

Nothing smooths skin like a body scrub. Heat from the shower allows you to actually scrub away toxins.  This SWEET SUGAR SCRUB is one you’ll use often.

  • Mix 1 cup of white sugar, 1 cup of brown sugar, and 1-1/2 cups almond oil. Add in 2 drops of essential oil — your favorite fragrance. Massage into damp skin with fingers or with a soft scrubbing mitt.

Don’t forget your hands! This simple LEMON AND SUGAR HAND SCRUB not only relaxes your hands, but leaves your skin radiant and glowing.

  • Mix 1/2 cup white sugar with 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Massage onto damp hands. Rinse, pat dry, and apply your favorite hand moisturizer.

When you need a real pick-me-up, try this SPICY CINNAMON SCRUB. Follow with a hot shower and an overall application of a shea-butter moisturizer.

  • Mix 2 cups of light brown sugar with 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup honey. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon. For an even spicier aroma, add a pinch of ground ginger. Mix all ingredients well, then apply with a mitt.

Foot Soaks

Like the fresh scent of the woods? This WOODSY FOOT SOAK will quickly become one of your favorite relaxation techniques.

  • Add about a teaspoon of sea salt to a basin of warm water, then add in 5 drops of spruce essential oil, a few lemon slices, and a sprig of fresh rosemary. Your feet will love you.

How about a cool soak? This CITRUS-MINT FOOT SOAK is sure to put a smile on your face. There’s just something about the aroma of oranges and lemons.

  • Fill a basin with cool water. Add slices of lemon and orange. Drop in a handful of fresh spearmint or peppermint. Soak your tired little tootsies for 10-15 minutes, then pat dry and massage in a moisturizing foot cream.

FACIAL TREATS

Although actually a treat for your entire body, this COOL CUCUMBER MIST can be used as a refreshing face mist. Be sure to store in the refrigerator. When spraying as a facial mist, keep eyes closed, and hold spray bottle 6-8 inches from your face.

  • Mix 1 cup of distilled water with 1/4 cup lemon witch hazel. Add 2 tablespoons strained cucumber juice. Pour the liquid into an attractive spray bottle. Use as a facial mist, or as an all-over body spray after a bath or shower.

Feeling fruity? Try this ZESTY GRAPEFRUIT FACIAL. It’s a fantastic way to wake-up your skin. It will leave you feeling fresh and invigorated.

  • Use a grater to grate the rind of 1 whole pink grapefruit. (Save the fruit segments to enjoy at breakfast or as a snack.) Add 3/4 cup plain, whole-fat yogurt to the rind. Mix well. Smooth the masque over your face and neck, avoiding the eyes. Leave on for 10 minutes while you stretch out and relax. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat your skin dry.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

If you have sensitive skin, always test home-spa products before use. The best way to test is by rubbing a small amount behind one ear. If the product causes redness, swelling, itching, or any discomfort, better skip the treatment.

Where to find the ingredients?

Dried seaweed powders can be purchased at health food stores, as can a variety of oils, such as sunflower oil, almond oil, and coconut oil. Often these oils can also be found at pharmacies.

Essential oils can be purchased at many different retailers — check New Age shops in your area — or they can be ordered online.  I purchase all my essential oils from Sun’s Eye and have always been delighted with the products and service. If you’d rather purchase in person, you can visit their web site and find a list of retailers.

Dried herbs can be found on your grocer’s shelves and at specialty stores. Tip: Specialty stores will have greater variety and higher quality herbs.  For fresh herbs, nothing is better than your own little herb garden. During spring and summer months, you can also find fresh herbs at farmers’ markets or at retail nurseries.

Have fun with these treatments. Follow the recipes as given, or try your own personal variations. If you come up with a delightful little concoction, please share!

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Disclaimer: I feel I should add a standard disclaimer to this post. The information presented here is for educational purposes. No guarantees are made regarding the effectiveness of these home-spa products, nor am I assuming any responsibility for the use of them. As with any home treatment, use common sense. 

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You can make your home-spa experience even more enjoyable by using the following tips:

  • Dim the lights to create a soothing atmosphere. Light fragrant, scented candles or a stick of incense to add to the calming mood.
  • Put on soft, relaxing music or ambient natural sounds.
  • Use the softest, fluffiest towels you have.
  • Wear a loose-fitting robe.
  • Heat your robe and towels in the dryer for a few minutes before you begin your treatment.
  • Fix a favorite beverage to enjoy. Depending on the time of day, your mood, and your tastes, you might want to choose hot chocolate, herbal tea, red wine, or a hot, spiced cider.
  • Take time to fully enjoy the experience. Yes, we’re all short of time, but loving ourselves is vital to our emotional health — and to the well-being of all our relationships. It’s worth it to take a few extra minutes for yourself now and then. Your heart and soul — as well as your body — will be grateful.

ENJOY!

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What’s Your Romantic Fitness Quotient?

English: A young woman and man embracing while...

How strong is your love?

How strong is your relationship? Strong enough to withstand trials, troubles, and temptations? Check your RFQ — Romantic Fitness Quotient — by looking at these twenty-one key relationship issues. No, you won’t find any scoring guidelines at the end, but you will find a few tips you can use to build your relationship and put more love in your life today.

  • Acceptance: He’s not perfect, but then again, neither are you. Do you and your partner make allowances for each other? Can you tolerate his quirks? Or do you nag at him about picking up his socks or leaving dirty dishes in the sink? Does he complain that you spend too much time in the bathroom? Does he fuss when you forget to turn off lights? In the early stages of a relationship, we strive to hide our flaws and always be on our best behaviors. We’re polite, we’re courteous, we’re thoughtful of our partner. As the relationship continues, though, we ease back into being ourselves – warts, belches, farts, and all.
  • Arguments: Arguments run the gamut from minor disagreements over trivial matters to full-blown shouting matches. Note: If arguments ever escalate to violence, GET OUT! Never stay in an abusive relationship. Even couples with strong, healthy relationships have spats from time to time. In fact, if you never argue, that might be a warning sign that the relationship is faltering. People are free to express disagreements in a healthy environment. But, how bad are the arguments? How frequently do they occur?   What happens afterward? An occasional argument offers opportunites to clear the air, to get unresolved issues out into the open, and to reach new levels of understanding with your partner. Learn to argue effectively, admit when you’re wrong, and always be willing to say “I’m sorry,” when the argument is over.
  • Balance: Good relationships really are 50/50, not necessarily every moment of every day, but in the long run, both partners should be making similar emotional investments. If he’s controlling all aspects of the relationship – choosing what you do as a couple, setting the rules for your behavior, and making all decisions — it’s a dictatorship, not a partnership. Relationships are about give and take, just be sure you’re getting back as much as you’re giving.
  • Character: Do you truly like, respect, and admire your partner? Healthy relationships are formed between morally-healthy individuals. If you question your partner’s character, what you should really be asking is why you’re staying in the relationship. People who lie, steal, and cheat aren’t trustworthy partners.
  • Comfort Zone: When  you’re with your partner, are you relaxed and at ease? Or do you sometimes feel a little uncomfortable with yourself and your surroundings? Are you rushing around to put every pillow in place and dust every shelf before he arrives? Do you fret about having spotless silverware or worry that he might not like the wine you’ve chosen? Do you go out of your way to fix your hair and make-up and “dress to the 9’s” even if the two of you are spending a quiet night at home? Sure, it’s good to care about appearances – to a degree. It’s also good to be comfortable enough with your partner that you can dress in baggy sweats, kick off  your shoes, let down your hair and forego make-up, and still feel loved and appreciated.
  • Communication: Your ability to communicate with your partner is a critical factor in making or breaking the relationship. Communication is more than mere conversation, although that’s important too. Communication means exchanging ideas, discussing issues of importance, talking through problems, and expressing understanding for one another. Can you talk about anything that’s on your mind? Or do you feel a need to skirt around certain topics? Does your partner listen to what you’re saying? What about your own listening skills? Communication is a two-way street, remember. Do you ask one another for ideas and opinions? Do you work together to make important decisions? Do you take time to talk about trivial things too? Communication isn’t always on major issues. Sharing that crazy dream you had, or babbling about nothing in particular can be great ways to relax and enjoy time with the one you love.
  • Drama: Most of what’s on this list are qualities or skills you’ll want to cultivate in order to maintain a healthy relationship. Drama, however, is not one of them. Some people actually equate “roller coaster emotions” with being in love. Not so. If your relationship lifts you to the heights of heaven, then plunges you to the gates of hell – in the space of twenty-four hours or less – you’ve got a bad case of drama going on. It can be fatal to the relationship. A constant environment of questions, problems, frantic situations, and desperate emotions is as unhealthy as it can get. The highs and lows may give you a rush, but eventually you’ll burn out. Life offers enough drama in itself; you don’t need more from within your relationship. Instead, your relationship should be a strong, secure shelter from the dramatic storms taking place in the outside world.
  • Dreams and Goals: What are your partner’s dreams? Do you know? Do you support those dreams? Do you encourage your partner to pursue them? Or do you tend to roll your eyes when he talks about making his million, leaving his mark on the world, and pursuing that crazy childhood ambition of his? Of course, you’ve got dreams of your own. Does your partner support your dreams? Do you get the support and encouragement you need? Supporting a dream means more than merely tolerating it. It means helping your partner make that dream come true. Sometimes it might mean making sacrifices. Of course, your partner would do the same for you…right?
  • Flexibility: How easily can you adapt to changes within the relationship? We often fall into patterns, and those patterns become comfortable ruts. When something happens to force us out of our ruts, we may find ourselves getting very uncomfortable. Maybe your partner’s work schedule changes, or maybe you decide to enroll in evening classes and you won’t be getting home until late. Would those changes throw you or your partner into a tither? Flexibility in a relationship also means being willing to make last-minute changes in plans, when necessary. Sometimes, things happen. Are you and your partner able to deal with the occasional cancellations, delays, and postponements life sometimes throws your way?
  • Flirting: Yes, flirting. With each other — definitely not with other people. Chances are you did a lot of flirting when you first met your partner, but do you still flirt and tease now? Do you still look for little ways to make your partner feel special, ways to say “I‘m interested in  you,” without words? Does your partner still flirt with you? If the two of you have stopped flirting, it’s time to start again. Flirting adds fun to the relationship and keeps it feeling as new and exciting as when you first met.
  • Friends and Family: Quite simple. Do you like them? Do they like you? If you can’t stand his friends or if he truly hates your mother, your relationship is going to suffer. It’s equally true that if your friends don’t like your partner or if your parents think he’s a real loser, you’re going to have struggles to deal with. There are also time issues involved here. Does he spend too much time hanging out with the guys? Does he think you spend too much time with your family? For older couples, there can also be issues with ex-spouses and children from previous marriages. To make your relationship work, you’ll have to be willing to work through the problems friends and family can bring.
  • Happiness: One question here. Are you really happy in your relationship? Be honest with yourself, and if you’re not happy, admit it and find ways to fix the problems. Being happy in a relationship means laughing with your partner, having fun, and enjoying life — even the difficult moments. Happiness comes from within ourselves, of course, so don’t blame your partner entirely if you’re not happy. A problematic relationship, however, can wear us down, making it hard for us to find happiness within ourselves.
  • Hobbies and Interests: Do you and your partner share the same interests? Probably not all of them, but having at least one hobby or interest in common can strengthen a relationship in many ways. Although it’s wise for each individual in a relationship to have his or her own interests, it’s also beneficial to find one significant interest or activity the two of you can enjoy together. Do you share a passion for football? Both love modern art? Photography? Dancing? Find things that excite you both and enjoy them together. Nothing comes to mind? Take a look at classes offered at local colleges. Sign up together to learn Chinese cooking or wood-burning. You’ll be able to expand your horizons and strengthen your relationship at the same time.
  • Honesty: How honest are you with your partner? Can you always say what’s on your mind? Lies come in different shapes and sizes, and for the most part, deceit is bad for a relationship. But there are little exceptions. Your partner might not want to know every detail about every previous relationship you’ve had, but important facts need to be out in the open. The real issue, of course, is trust. As they say, trust is a must…or your game is a bust. It’s true in sports, and it’s true in the relationship game, too.
  • New Things: Before you read on, stop and think of the last “new experience” you shared with your significant other. How long has it been? New experiences can be as simple as going to a new restaurant, or as challenging as sky-diving, and the results won’t always be positive. Be willing to venture out of your “comfort zones” with your partner. Even if the experience isn’t all you’d hoped it would be, sharing it with the one you love will make it worth the time and trouble, and you’ll have memories to share later on.
  • Personal Space: Togetherness is wonderful, but personal space is required, too. People have different needs where space is concerned. Some need very little; others need a lot. Be sure you’re getting enough time for yourself, and that you’re giving your partner enough personal time, as well. In a strong relationship, couples respect one another’s privacy. Both individuals should have times and places to call their own. In other words, stay out of his “man-cave” unless you’re invited in, and let him know that your purse is “off-limits”. It’s not that either of you is hiding anything; it’s just that “personal space” thing.
  • Playing Head Games: Relationships should be fun, and you and your special someone might enjoy a lot of games together. “Head games” are not part of any good relationship, though. What is a head game? Messing with somebody’s mind. Devising little tests or tricks. Manipulation. Think “junior high”, all right? Remember all those dreadful little schemes you and your friends cooked up? “Hey, I want you to flirt with Tommy before I get to the party, then let me know if he flirted back.” Or how about “I’m going out with Bobby next weekend, but only to make Tommy jealous.” I could go on and on. Unfortunately the human mind’s capacity for devious thinking knows no boundaries. If you’re playing destructive mind games with your partner, it’s a sure sign your relationship is headed for trouble.
  • Quality Time: Everybody’s busy these days, and relationships suffer because of it. Couples in good relationships know the importance of finding “quality time” to share together. Even if it’s only a few minutes each day, take time to set all else aside and concentrate on each other.  Sit on the porch together, hold hands, and watch the sun come up before you start your busy days. Or end the evening together watching the sunset. Set aside a little “talk time” — just the two of you, no phones, no television, no radio blaring in the background. And no complaints, no whining, no criticism. Use the time to tell your partner how glad you are to be together. Show your appreciation. Share your hopes and dreams. Now and then, be sure to take time away together, too. Slip away for an hour of “afternoon delight” with your partner. Now, that’s real quality time!
  • Sexual Compatibility: OK, we all know that sex isn’t supposed to be the most important factor in a relationship. But, let’s be honest. While good sex isn’t enough to make a relationship, bad sex can sometimes be enough to break it. Like everything else in life, sexual preferences vary from one individual to the next. Some lovers are very conservative; others are willing to try anything — once, at least. No matter where you fall on the sexual adventures scale, unless your partner has similar needs, your intimate life won’t be satisfying for either of you.
  • Temptations: Time to be honest now with yourself.  Have you given in to temptation and cheated on your partner? Not good, but of course, you already know that. Or maybe you haven’t strayed, but you’ve thought about it. Not good, either. Ladies, if that good-looking fellow in the next cubicle has your heart doing flip-flops, or if you’re fantasizing about other men during sex, something is wrong in your relationship. Gentlemen? Yes, we know you like to look, but if looking leads you down the path toward infidelity, your relationship probably isn’t going to last. Here’s the simple truth. Temptations are everywhere. Couples in strong relationships won’t give in to them. But couples whose relationships are weak can easily succumb. The three danger areas are (1) boredom in the relationship, (2) lack of communication between partners, and (3) lack of romance.
  • Values: What are values? They’re our beliefs, our standards, our ideals. Values are those things that are personally important to us, our guidelines for how we conduct ourselves and how we want to live our life. Some people place great value on education; others, not so much. For some, family comes first, above all else; others make their career their top priority. One person might stress the virtues of time-management while another believes that living in the moment is the only way to happiness. One woman spends hours in front of her mirror because she feels appearances matter, while another woman says it’s who you are inside that counts, not how you look. Different people. Different values. Different beliefs. Although you and your romantic partner won’t agree on everything, it’s important that your overall values be the same, or, at the very least, compatible. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can change your partner’s beliefs or that every difference can be resolved by compromise. It won’t work, and neither will your relationship unless you and your partner share key values in your lives.

So, how does your relationship score? Room for improvement, maybe? Good relationships are “works in progress”, and time spent strengthening our romantic bonds is always time well-spent.

If you want to give your relationship a boost, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Tip #1: Bring back the romance. Do something today to woo your sweetheart. Flowers. Soft music. A candlelight dinner. Stop by the store and pick out a “thinking of you” card. Or make your own. Tuck a “love note” inside your honey’s lunchbox. Be creative and look for little ways to show your love.

Tip #2: Shake things up! Plan something a bit out of the ordinary for you and your partner to enjoy. If you usually spend Friday night at the movies, pick up tickets for a concert instead. Always take the kiddies to the park on Saturday morning? Hire a trusted babysitter to do it for you while you and your sweetie enjoy a little time in bed — alone. Look at the habits and routines you’ve fallen into, then look for a way to shake it up now and then.

Tip #3: Listen to what your partner says. Really listen. Don’t just nod your head and pretend to be listening while your mind is off on other things. Communication has always been the most important factor in making any relationship work, and the key to effective communication isn’t talking. It’s listening to what others say. Today, make it a point to give your partner your full attention. You’ll see immediate benefits.