January 14, 2015

IMG_5322Does anyone else feel that January arrived like a hurricane? Despite all the new structures I’ve built to allow for more creative space this year the first few weeks of the month have been a total whirlwind. It feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to regularly pick up my camera or a notebook; start dreaming and planning; but I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things and am getting excited about all the ideas simmering away in my brain. To start off the new year, let’s talk about health, and — which I’ve never brought up here before — beauty. 2014 was a year of experiments in caring for my body inside and out, and keeping healthy is more on my mind than ever these days. After a year of testing things out, here’s what I’ve learned so far:



My hair care routine has been pretty low maintenance thus far, but I’ve found some quick ways to make a big difference in the hair’s texture and well being. The French dry oil and dry shampoo are both God-sends — I use them every day in between showers to keep my roots and hair around my face from getting greasy and the long ends to keep from drying out (read more about my favorite French beauty products here). This styling cream has argon oil and can be used on dry or wet hair to add texture, and the end doctor made a huge difference with how many split ends I get between trims. My hair is long and heavy, so this root pump goes a long way in giving me volume, and the sea salt spray is great for days when my hair is feeling flat and lifeless to make it big and crazy again. Also — like mom always said — brushing out my hair every night and braiding it before going to sleep has finally eliminated tangles.



If you’re looking through this list and wondering if either my skin or me are bi-polar — allow me to explain. My normal state is an oily T-zone but my skin fluctuates drastically from dry to oily depending on the weather. On top of that I have serious, hard-core, impossible to cure acne. To an extent that I’ve not yet witnessed in anyone else I’ve met to this day, which has always caused me to hesitate before sharing thoughts on skincare or beauty in general. I’ve tried everything from the most extreme Western medicine (acutaine), birth control, dermatologist prescriptions, regular facials and peels, to acupuncture, and every cleanse you can think of, all to no avail. What I have succeeded in is learning to reduce my inflammation, and keep my skin in check as much as is possible. Believe me, I really wish I had a solution to could share with you. This year I tried using all natural products only (with the green clay as a cleanser, tea tree oil and other essentials oils to treat and hydrate), mostly natural products, different kinds of cleanses, and lots and lots of turmeric (oral only — so far!). I still haven’t cured myself — not that I was expecting to after 17 years of this problem — but I did learn some new things this year.


Introduce one new product at a time

Remove one item from your diet at a time

Give yourself lots of TIME — it takes months for your body to change and adapt

Keep a daily log of how you look and feel — day one is a great app for this

Watch yourself closely, and listen to your body. When it doesn’t like something — it will tell you.


Top to Bottom: 100% Pure Foundation / Ursa Major Face Balm / Ursa Major Face Wash / Vivant Skincare Sunscreen

First of all, I re-familiarized myself with this essential list of non-comedogenic ingredients. If your skin is prone to break-outs, you need to reference this list before purchasing anything that goes on your face. My big skin meltdown of the year came from algae — which for some reason is cropping up more and more in products advertised for acne-prone skin — bad news for your pores! I’ve found a few products from the lines Osea and Acure that I like and that are non-clogging (see my list above this one), but largely both lines are full of algae (either advertised or hidden in the ingredients list) and should be avoided if your skin is remotely like mine. My biggest triumph this year was (drumroll please) turning to men’s skincare. Why didn’t I think of this before? I found Ursa Major through local boutique Philtre and am completely in love with the fact that this line is 100% non-comedogenic ingredients in each product, that naturally exfoliates with alpha-hydroxy acids and doesn’t dry out or irritate skin (exfoliating is key for acne prone skin but it’s almost impossible to find non-physical exfoliating products — and beads spread bacteria and irritate inflamed, sensitive skin). It’s 100% natural (not that that necessarily means anything — do your own research on both ingredients and the companies ethos!) and to top it off smells amazing. I had hoped that trying natural products only would make a difference, but it really didn’t. My skin is apparently too troubled for natural only to keep it in check, but I still use the french clay mask weekly as its a great at detoxifying.


With all this talk about how horrific my skin is, maybe you’re wondering why on earth I would have a lifestyle blog that documents my face regularly — scars and all. Well I’m so glad you asked. Growth doesn’t come without challenge, and when I first began putting myself in front of a camera it was a big challenge. I have no illusions about my non-model body or how I fall on the photogenic scale, but I keep photographing myself anyway because at the end of the day it’s drastically improved my confidence. Not because it makes me feel like I’m oh-so beautiful (usually the first reaction is the opposite as I’m processing photos — there are a LOT of outtakes). Like many (more attractive) women before and after me, I used to shy away from a camera, and then unsurprisingly hated what I saw. Documenting myself and my personal style over the years has given me huge growth. It’s made me so much more self aware, released me of my fear of other eyes and lenses, and made my self criticism healthier —  by accepting my appearance the way it is, reminding myself not to slouch, or to smile more (I have a serious angry resting face). I believe that you don’t have to be a model to master fear of the camera, and I urge all women to take this challenge on. It will be rough at first — like all challenges are — but I believe that everyone can win with this in time. Because there’s been some pretty bad photos taken of me, and you know what — the people who love me don’t love me any less for them. And — after many years of struggling — those people finally include me.


tea2IMG_5563IMG_5649I’ve always tried to make healthy diet choices — selecting sustainable, organic, etc. options; even going meatless and gluten free from time to time. Following Michael Pollan’s Food Rules. This year I learned what my body actually needs for everything to function properly. I’ve been consulting with a nutritionalist — the amazing, caring and talented Rena — and with her help I learned how to manage my blood sugar levels throughout the day — which alone eliminates a huge amount of unnecessary stress (we call it hangry), reduces inflammation, and eliminates chronic insomnia (caused by erratic blood sugar levels spiking on off hours in the night). On top of that I’ve gotten my digestion on track and have more energy, less stress, and feel better than ever. I have to mention this revolutionary development here, but at the same time I don’t want to go into too much detail about the specific supplements or diet changes I made. Everyone’s body is so different, and the internet is a dangerous place to base major lifestyle changes on. If people are curious, I can go more into this in another post, but for now I recommend consulting with Rena (she skypes!) yourself if you’re interested in this kind of holistic healing, or at least keeping an eye on her helpful blog.


Some of My Favorite Teas — from Left to Right: Tulsi Cleanse / Mr. Trombly Pumpkin & Cream / Jasmine Green Tea / Ginger / Mint / Tulsi Sleep / Green Tea

Aside from my diet changes — which are specific to my body — I can recommend with no hesitation that everyone drink more tea. I’ve always drunk lots and lots of water throughout the day (and if you’re not on the same page start with that first!), but regular coffee and alcohol consumption has always made me worry that I’m bringing myself back down to square one. Lately I’ve been trying to substitute more and more tea on those times when I’d rather brew a second cup of coffee, or reach for that glass of wine after work. In addition to that I’ve even gone on mini cleanses with no coffee or alcohol at all — just water and tea (le horror) — periodically throughout the month. So far I’ve gotten sick less than usual, and noticed improvement in bloating, headaches, and trouble getting going in the morning. I don’t know that you’ll have those results, but I do know that tea is healthy and can be delicious to boot. If I had to guess I think I’ve avoided it most of my life because it doesn’t give me that instant satisfaction available in coffee or wine — but the more I substitute tea in my diet the more of a habit it becomes. My favorites are rooibos for late afternoons and evenings, and plain green or jasmine green tea. Mixing herbal teas in with green (green ginger is a common one) isn’t very helpful I’ve found. The tea either doesn’t steep long enough to get the ginger effects, or steeps too long and the green becomes bitter (steep green tea for no more than 2-3 minutes with water that is not quite boiling).


For 2015 so far my focus is getting back into exercise — which I’ve definitely neglected as life and work reached all time craziness levels these past 6 months. Either by yoga or jogs — apparently even 5 minutes a day is better than nothing. I’d love to hear what you think about all this and what you’re doing to stay healthy. Do any of your resolutions have to do with health this year? What have you learned that’s new versus tried and true methods you’ve always stuck to? Next week I’ll be sharing more of my own resolutions — until next time you can stay in touch with me over at instagram, pinteresttwitter, or facebook.

Thank you so much for reading!

  1. WineGalCA

    Cute and fun post! Just like you! Keep putting your beautiful self out there.
    Mmmm! Pumpkin Creme tea; yes please. Happy 2015 my dear friend!

    • jm

      The pumpkin creme is soooo yummy. Perfect to sip on while taking a bath. Heaven couldn’t be better ^_^
      Thanks so much for introducing me to it! Happy 2015!

  2. Dang girl I loved this post and I’ve missed your reflections and musings! This is probably the best blog post I read this week (including my own). Did I say that out loud? ;)

    I can’t imagine how frustrating the skincare stuff has been. One of my best friends is in that same exact situation– nothing works for her. That said, there are some really great looking products on your list, and I’ve yet to try any of them, but have heard great things! And thanks for the hair product rec’s… I need to get my overgrown hair under control some time soon.

    And I love love love your photos! Taking outfit photos has been the biggest reminder for me to smile more often. I’ve realized what a difference it makes for my face (seriously– some people look great when they’re not smiling, but I look unhappy, haha).

    Miss you friend!

    • jm

      Wow! What a compliment!! Thanks so much Daisy as always for your thoughtful words. You always put such care into everything you do and its truly inspiring! I miss you too! And I completely relate about smiling. It used to annoy me so much (heck, it actually still does) when random people ask me to smile, but I think I finally understand where they’re coming from. So my goal is to beat them to the punch and remind myself =) you win more bees with honey, right?

  3. Such a beautiful post and thoughtfully written words, Jessica. You have such an awareness towards your health and body. Really inspiring and truly wonderful to see.

    • jm

      Rena thank you so much for your constant encouragement, tireless emotional support and fabulous advice. I feel like I’ve finally found my fairy godmother =o)

  4. I love every single French product you mentioned on here. When I was in Belgium, I used La Roche Posay, Vichy, and Avene religiously and so far, they’re the only thing my very-very-sensitive skin has tolerated. You’re looking so lovely and I always love checking in to read your inspiring words! What a lovely blog!

    • jm

      Thank you so much Kristine! I SO miss La Roche Posay!!! Those products are heavenly for sensitive skin and are so hard to find here in the states. And I really miss my Vichy moisturizer which was the only thing that kept me going through those dry Parisian months of winter. You should blog about all those products you’ve tried! I’d love to read more about your thoughts!

  5. great post and totally inspiring! thank you for sharing yourself.

    ditto on 2015 being a year of focus on exercise. my goal is to finally conquer regular exercise! as I get older I feel my body holding me back from all the things I want to do (handstands! mountain biking! bird of paradise yoga asana!) and wear (I’m in that awkward zone between straight sizes and plus sizes which turns clothing shopping into heartbreak). It has been a long road towards self acceptance and continuous gratitude for my body for all the adventures it has made possible.

    my other big new years goal: no new clothes! only thrifted or handmade clothing. so far so good but its only been a month. ;)


    • jm

      I LOVE that goal! You’ve inspired me to give it a try myself — I’ve toyed with the idea in the past, but though the spirit is willing, the free people sales rack makes me weak. I’d love to take that challenge on again — maybe just for 6 months and see how I do ;o) keep me posted as you go!

      I had no idea what bird of paradise yoga asana was, so I immediately looked it up. Damn! I dream of being that flexible. I hear you about getting older. I really need to make exercise a priority — I keep putting it off telling myself I’m still young and in relatively good shape, but I feel like I can hear the clock ticking, and I know the longer I take to strengthen my body and make regular exercise habitual, the harder it will be, and the more of a disservice I’m doing to my body.

      Here’s to us both doing a handstand together by the end of 2015!

  6. LN

    Hey lady, it’s been years! Saw an instagram of your Mexico big-beautiful-hat adventures and came back to your blog and this post. I have always been impressed and inspired by your journey and I love your share about health and about the confidence and growth you have experienced from sharing your photographs and life- and your encouragement to women to do the same. Also my 2015 year has been my journey into the healthiest Warkentine I’ve been in years- loving eating clean (freeee of my addiction to refined sugar and flour) and seeing what this ol’ body can do- physical activity galore- I started taking aerial silks (?!?) which makes me feel strong and glorious, yoga (have you been back to Yoga to the People since our adventure 5 years ago?) and trying things Id never thought I would do before- surfing, backpacking, anything that makes me feel friggintastically alive. I would love to reconnect soon, thanks for your blog and creating this space to reflect on being the awesomest people machines we can be. Hope you are loving your 2015 year of strength and fitness and woo!


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