The pelvic floor is the foundation of our bodies, both physically and energetically.  Pregnancy and delivery greatly impact this area, and that impact is unique to each individual. However regardless of personal symptoms or delivery experience, a reconnection to the pelvic floor postpartum is crucial to regaining balance, optimizing function and creating stability both physically and emotionally.  It is obvious that rehabilitation in any other area of the body would entail understanding how the muscles work, what a contraction and stretch should feel like, and how to integrate it’s proper recruitment in functional movement.  So why should the pelvic floor be any different?  And beyond that, our pelvic floor is also our pleasure center, which allows us to experience pleasure locally and globally.   And for all these reasons, it is key to establish a quality connection with the pelvic floor as part of the healing process during the 4th trimester shift.
Allison Oswald (DPT, WCS, CPT)
Understanding where the pelvic floor is and how it functions is step one. Simply defined, it is a group of muscles that span from the pubic bone to the tail-bone, as well as between the two sits bones.  Together these muscles form a diamond shape that are responsible for supporting the organs above them, closing off or opening the urethra, vagina and rectum, as well being a part of the sexual experience.  These muscles move up and down with the breath like a trampoline would, moving down/lengthening with an inhale and up/shortening with an exhale.  After pregnancy and birth, the coordination of the pelvic floor with breath is often disrupted, therefore re-establishing this rhythm is how to begin finding balance again.
Plumb Line Studios in Santa Monica, CA
To find this rhythm, alignment of the ribcage over the pelvis will optimize the ability to find connection.  From here, one can practice breathing and begin to feel the pelvic floor move with the breath.  And finally, the recruitment of the pelvic floor muscles with function can be established.  Below are my 3 essential exercises for my postpartum clients to reintegrate their pelvic floor and be on the road to connecting with their pelvic power once again.  
  • Alignment with Breath:  Sitting on an exercise ball, spread your buttocks to connect the pelvic floor with the surface of the ball.  Rock your pelvis forwards and backwards a few times to feel the range of motion available to you.  Now stop in the center, all the while keeping your upper body still, don’t feel the need to squeeze your shoulder blades.  Now you have found your most ideal alignment of your ribcage over your pelvis.  Breathe in through your nose feeling your ribcage expand all around, trying not to breathe into your shoulders.  Exhale through your mouth and feel the ribcage come back together softly.  Continue this breathing and begin to experience the movement in the pelvic floor with the breath.  As you inhale, it lengthens and gets closer to the surface of the ball.  As you exhale it draws up slightly.  Do this for 3-5 minutes daily.

 

  • Pelvic Floor and Deep Abdominal Contraction:  Get on your hands and knees with your wrists under your shoulders and knees under hips.  Ensure you have a slight arch in your low back, as you did in exercise #1.  Now maintain the shape of your spine as you breathe in (feeling your ribs expand and pelvic floor lengthen), then exhale drawing your pelvic floor up and in (actively contracting).  On the exhale you should also see a gentle drawing in of your belly. Do 2 sets of 10.

 

  • Pelvic Floor and Function:  As a new mom, a lot of squatting is involved with childcare.  Therefore I always have my moms practice squatting and utilizing their breath.  Stand with your feet hip distance apart.  On an inhale, squat down with your hips going back like you’re sitting in a chair (this is when the pelvic floor is lengthening).  On an exhale through your mouth, engage your pelvic floor and abdominal wall (as in exercise #2) and come back up.  (Tip: Always exhale through your mouth when lifting something heavy, coming up from the floor, or any other exertion, as this will set up and activate your core system to work) Do 2 sets of 10.
Be patient with yourself and remember quality of movement over quality.  And even though many women have postpartum pelvic floor symptoms (ie. leaking, pain, pressure), do not accept them as normal.  Seek help and know that healing is possible. You are in charge of your body and overall know what is best.

Allison Oswald (DPT, WCS, CPT) discovered a passion for working with women throughout their journey to and post motherhood. Since 2011, she has operated her own private clinic, Plumb Line Studios in Santa Monica, CA. From her studio, she works with women on an individual basis and sets them up on the proper treatment plan which also utilizes other aspects of her clinic, such as, pre and postnatal Pilates, lymphatic massage, a retail shop of the best products for mothers and shares a referral guide which includes other practitioners in California. Allison lives in Santa Monica, CA with her husband and two sons.

As a doula who supports new families in making healthy choices, I find that there are critical moments during pregnancy and the postnatal period that are not commonly addressed but have great impact on maternal, fetal and newborn health. Let’s talk about the first environment – the womb. Inside the womb, a baby’s gut is believed to be nearly sterile until the water breaks. The microbiome, a community of trillions of bacterial organisms that live inside our bodies, is first inoculated by mama’s bacteria in the birth process. The baby will swallow the beneficial bacteria during the birth journey. At birth, a newborn’s microbiome will closely resemble the bacteria of the mom’s gut microbiome. Those bacteria will colonize the baby’s gut, develop her microbiome and lay the foundation of her immune system. But what happens when a baby is born via C-section and misses out on the contact with its mother’s flora?

An option that I highly recommend is bacterial supplementation with a baby probiotic. Evivo is the first and only product of its kind. Together with breast milk, Evivo is clinically proven to restore your baby’s gut microbiome to its original state with the good bacteria B. infantis. Our gut is home to tens of trillions of organisms, including up to 1,000 species of bacteria. It is estimated that 60- 80% of our immune system lives there. Evivo significantly reduces an abundance of potentially harmful bacteria in your baby’s gut, especially those linked to a higher risk for colic, eczema, allergies, obesity and diabetes.

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Humans and their microbes share a mutually beneficial relationship, shaping human development and health outcomes beginning at birth. They entrain our immune system, fight off infection and help process our food. Thankfully Evivo is here – a functional supplement that helps develop the baby’s metabolism and immune system and builds the foundation for good health that lasts a lifetime, even if baby was born via C-section.

My son was born vaginally and my midwife suggested I introduce a baby probiotic to help ease his gas which develops at around six weeks of life. This can help ease colic in symptomatic newborns. I wish a product like Evivo existed which was easy to prepare, travel with and administer. I remember the difficulties of traveling with a bottle of powder – the spills, storage issues and just feeling like I wasn’t “doing it right.” Evivo is easy to mix as each dose is one packet, it stays stored in the freezer until ready for use and is easily dialed up in a syringe to give to your baby. I suggest placing the syringe into the corner of the baby’s mouth while breastfeeding and release the probiotic that way. Evivo captures all the nutrients and immune factor from your breast milk, converting them into additional nutrients for baby. As long as your little one is consuming breast milk you can continue administering Evivo. It will also help protect your baby during the transition to solids. And, it’s affordable at $2 per day, which is about a $400 investment for the first 6-months of baby’s life – totally worth it.

What are your thoughts on probiotics? Would you try this product?

We are offering a discount code for your first purchase of Evivo. * http://bit.ly/2o0cPx0

HCP210 – $10 off starter kit 4 weeks or greater

HCP220 – $20 off starter kit 8 weeks or greater

Let us know how you like it and ask any questions you have below.

For more information see these FAQ’s on Evivo https://www.evivo.com/faq

Gemstone Organics is a unique company based on their ingredients and their magic Gem ‘juice’ Essence. Gem Essences have been used in the past as elixirs, and now Gemstone Organics have created a way to use those high-vibrational healing essences on your skin. Gemstone Essence works similar to a mineral spring, introducing you to mineral energies that you might be lacking while adding to a more wholly balanced you, in body, mind and spirit. The ingredients are all 100% USDA Certified Organic, food grade edible, pH balanced, and alcohol-free.

Founder Debra Haugen says her love of rocks goes back to childhood and digging around in the gravel pits for treasures. So when she began crafting her own skin care products, it only made sense to include her magical gem essences, created from the personal collection of stones she has gathered throughout the years.The crèmes are uniquely healing because they are handcrafted with gem essences and organic ingredients. You get the handcrafted magic twice: first through the alchemy with the healing gemstones into essences and then through the art of fusing the rejuvenating waters, organic oils, and other botanical ingredients with love. When you use these products you will feel their power, and your skin will glow!

Our Essential Summer Glow Pick is the -Gold Crème –The Gold Crème is handcrafted with Coconut & Hemp Oils and has every ingredient you need to moisturize, rejuvenate, and safeguard your skin. Both of these organic oils have amazing antioxidant properties that prevent burning and oxidative damage, which may lead to skin cancer. Use Organic Gold Creme and stay protected and glowing all summer!

 

 

To learn more or purchase, go to www.gemstoneorganic.com.

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This book is a perfect companion for the woman on the rise. Its about embracing your unique feminine edge, using self-care as a pathway to empowerment and standing tall on a pedestal you built for yourself.

It’s about women reclaiming their bodies as sacred and uncovering their unique brand of magic. Own Your Glow is an elixir, a formula for standing in your truth and using your feminine edge to design a life worthy of YOU. There is a sensual, textured, prescriptive, grown-ass woman-ness that laces the book. Its a calling to all women to awaken the divine and tap into our power source.

Own Your Glow is an inspirational, actionable, and wildly enriching companion for change. Celebrity wellness and lifestyle guru, Latham Thomas provides soulful principles that offer an illuminated path for examining life’s challenges, helping you curate your path to greatness, while embracing your uniquely feminine attributes. Packed with rituals, meditations, and snackable lifestyle tips, Thomas provides a clear framework for harnessing your passion, developing spiritual fitness, and embracing true vulnerability. This guide is for anyone who wants to witness her own life transform and contribute to the positive change of the world around her. Combining spiritual, psychological and self-reflective tools, Thomas offers an antidote to the hustle-hard, make-it-happen mainstream culture and fosters slowing down, intentionality and self-care as a pathway to empowerment.

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How much more potent and powerful would we all be if we embraced our inherent talents, strengths and feminine edge, rather than dwelling in patterns of self-criticism, doubt and catty competition? Thomas invites you to step into a soulful-fulfilling life of freedom, transcending self- destructive habits and creating a blueprint for a more gratifying, centered, and bountiful way of living. Own Your Glow is an awakening roar for women to mobilize, become the masters of their lives, hold their crowned heads up high, letting their relentless light within shine bright for the world.

Get your Copy Today!

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Post by: Gaylee Warner author of “Letters to Muriel”

Forty-one years ago my newborn daughter died. I knew she would 3 ½ months prior to her birth. Ultrasound technology was brand new but there was no missing this birth defect. All I could think was, “How do I go on? How do I even breath?” Those who know my story have asked me how I got from then to now. How did I heal?

I turned to my faith. I am not a religious person but I have faith in an all-loving entity who is there for me when things are good and when things are bad. I did not, for a moment, think that this was some kind of punishment for mistakes I had done in the past. Guilt has no place in healing. Guilt creates an atmosphere that is toxic to true grieving. Guilt is a diversion.

I trusted that my daughter’s death was something that would, ultimately, lead me in the path I was supposed to follow. I believed that life was not haphazard. Things, even those that bring us to our knees and cause unbelievable despair, can set our feet towards our future. I trusted even when I did not understand. As time went on, I made it my mission to learn more about my daughter’s birth defect. Muriel, my daughter, was anencephalic. It is under the classification of a “neural tube defect” and the brain does not develop. Consequently, her head was very, very tiny. I asked questions in order to better understand what had happened. I needed to know if this could be avoided in the future as I wanted children. I had to know if I had somehow, inadvertently, been a participant in her birth defect. If so, what did I need to do differently? For me, knowledge and learning helped the multiple “Why?” questions and gave me better direction for the future. Knowledge gave me hope.

I told my story and received love and comfort from people I knew would listen, and from people I did not expect would listen, but did. I talked about my experience, and pain and sorrow. I learned to listen to other people’s experiences, pain and sorrow. We grieved together. We walked a ways down the ‘healing-path’ together.

The last key was time. I think the adage that time heals all wounds is misleading. Healing is never finished. It is a forever, life-long, on-going process. What time gave me though, was the opportunity to wade through the pain, obtain a measure of distance from what had happened and the knowledge that I could and would continue to breath. As trite as it may sound, the only way to get through grieving is to do it. That is the gift time gave me. That….and the perspective of looking back, seeing where I was at the beginning and reflecting on where I am today. My daughter’s death set me on the path to becoming a nurse, hopefully, a better mother and a more compassionate human being.


 and daughter of a career military officer. With her family, she has lived in Morocco, Japan and all over the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. She currently resides in Wisconsin and writes children’s books. To learn more about the author, please visit her website at www.gayleewarner.com, or her Facebook page. Gaylee Warner | Mom, retired nurse, author of “Letters to Muriel”

Recipe_Quinoa Cauliflower

This simple bowl combines complex sweet and savory flavors with the nutty flavor of Toasted Quinoa. This recipe comes from our friends at I Heart Keenwah.

Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets 1 tsp ground turmeric
Chopped parsley
Olive oil, as needed

Red pepper sauce:
1 red pepper, cut into strips
1 head of garlic, peeled
1 cup Toasted Quinoa, plus water as directed 1 tsp ground cumin

Dressing:
1/3 cup tahini
1 Tbs miso paste
1 tsp maple syrup juice of 1/2 a lemon

Combine cauliflower and turmeric and roast at 400° for 35 minutes. On a separate pan, also roast the red pepper and garlic for 25 minutes. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on each to prevent sticking. Cook Toasted Quinoa as directed on the package. In a small bowl, stir together dressing ingredients. In a food processor, blend the roasted red pepper and garlic with a pinch of salt, a drizzle of olive oil and cumin. In a large bowl, combine cooked Toasted Quinoa with dressing and chopped parsley. Top with roasted cauliflower and red pepper sauce.

I Heart Keenwah’s Toasted Quinoa is now available on amazon.com, in Whole Foods Market stores throughout the Midwest, select Safeway stores and coming to Kroger in 2017!

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Post by: Tracey Thomas

Latham’s recent experience working with a VBAC patient and her doctor inspired me to share my experience having a doctor/doula combo while giving birth to my son Chase in September of 2016. Thank you for allowing me to share this with other mamas and mamas-to-be!

When I became pregnant for the second time, a wonderful and exciting feeling of entering a familiar territory came over me. My husband and I had a great childbirth nearly three years prior with my first son, and it seemed that we had much less to learn the second time around.

Working full time while raising a preschooler, I did not have the luxury of being able to share every kick and craving of my second pregnancy on social media and mommy forums. But I knew exactly what I wanted for my second birth. l wanted to enjoy every moment of the miracle taking place in my body.

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I was extremely lucky to have one of the most sought after concierge doctors in South Florida as my obstetrician. Dr. Lanalee Sam is an amazing woman and mother; she is also attentive and experienced. That was reassuring for a busy professional mom like me. So when Dr. Sam opened the conversation of inviting a doula to be a part of my childbirth, I was surprised. That just didn’t resonate as traditional doctor speak (I always thought it was a doula or doctor).

To be clear, Dr. Sam is all about the virtues of advanced medicine and how it can promote a healthy childbirth under many circumstances. Although I was having a healthy pregnancy, Dr. Sam explained that a doula would provide me with constant support, and she would be a personal advocate for the type of labor and delivery I wanted. That sounded incredibly empowering.

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Dr. Sam recommended our doula to us, Chanice Ford of Concierge Doulas. My husband and I first met with Chanice in our home. She explained the role of a birth doula (there are also prenatal and postpartum doulas, but Chanice would be our birth doula and assist during the labor and delivery). In her second visit to our home, she helped us design our birth plan and talked about our desires, fears, and expectations for childbirth. By the end of our time together, she seemed more like a BFF than a health consultant.

That feeling did not change throughout my pregnancy. Chanice provided everything from advice to motivation, affirmations, and companionship. In short, she was a blessing that I didn’t even realize I needed. She understood pregnancy, and she had grown to fully understand me as well. I had my own pregnancy expert on call who allowed the experience to be completely about me and my baby

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With Chanice’s support, I was able to fully labor at home using breathing techniques and affirmations that she taught me. At nine centimeters along, my husband and I met Dr. Sam and Chanice at the hospital. Chanice had prepared the room with soft lighting and music; she also gave me a massage as I waited a short time for delivery. It all felt very beautiful and organic with my husband my by side, relaxed, and enjoying the essence of moment. Chanice was neither too attentive nor inattentive, just offering a reassuring presence for whenever I wanted her support.

In just a short time, it was time to deliver our new baby. Within a few pushes and surrounded by an incredible team, my second son was born. I ending up not having an epidural or other pain medication or interventions, which was part of our birth plan. It was the perfect combination of Dr. Sam’s expertise and Chanice’s support that made the experience not only exactly what we wanted, but truly memorable and empowering. My husband and I were grateful to know that every choice we made during the pregnancy was absolutely well worth it.


Tracey Thomas is a writer and Senior Manager of Learning & Development for Orangetheory Fitness. She is a health, spirituality, and vegetarian food junkie who strives to promote wellness for women in all areas of their life. Tracey lives with her husband and two sons in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Hand on belly

When we bleed it is a sacred time, although it’s often internalized as a curse. When a woman experiences PMS and a symptomatic cycle, it often means she is spreading herself too thin and not listening to her internal rhythms. Scheduling your life, as often as possible, so that you’re not taxing yourself when your cycle can’t handle it will keep you from senselessly depleting your energy. When you feel tired, slow down. It’s not that anything is wrong with you, but that you are not listening to yourself. The body speaks in very clear terms about what it needs and desires from you. During your bleeding phase it’s time to dream more and sleep more. As you lose blood, you also lose minerals and it’s easy to feel depleted. Some women even become anemic. Carrying on as if nothing is happening will result in you pushing yourself too far, which in turn can result in moodiness, low blood sugar, and symptomatic headaches, etc.

During your bleeding phase, just say no, to everything. Even if you feel like you have the energy, allow yourself the opportunity to rest. A practice of setting boundaries, resting, dreaming, eating well, phone fasting, and meditation will help you to get the most out of your bleeding phase and boost your glow power. Whenever possible, you should steer clear of making any major commitments that will put you through a lot of pressure or unnecessary stress. For example, I will not take on any late appointments or commit to evening events that will keep me out late at night during my period I want to be finished with my work day by 2pm. I work from my desk at home the first two days of my period and temper with much-needed rest during this time. I essentially mark a red line through the times I bleed and I request this of my clients as well. Reclaim that time to rest your body. And fortify with foods that support your hormonal health.

Before Period- Ovulation – Blooming Phase Recommended foods for this period include sweet potatoes, cacao, maca root powder, spices, coconut oil, dates, and leafy greens.
Period- Releasing Phase This first phase of the cycle, which lasts on average from 5-7days, begins with the first day of our menstrual flow and is an opportunity for us to clear out and let go. During this phase of your cycle allow yourself to rest, refrain from doing any strenuous physical activity. Instead take a walk and get fresh air. Feed yourself blood-building, robust foods including green juice coconut, beets, beans, squashes, and avocado and adequate protein through smoothies and light snacks throughout the day. Sip on infused ginger tea to help ease any cramps.

After Period- Renewal Phase Eat heartier meals containing healthy fats like avocado, walnuts, quinoa, black beans, and almonds. One of my favorite recipes for Rosemary Almonds comes from Alicia Keys  It’s one of my go-to glow foods to carry while in the renewal phase, made with peeled almonds, rosemary, olive oil, and sea salt. Have a smoothie containing low glycemic berries, like blueberries, along with hempseed oil and Maca powder (an adaptogen that works on the reproductive system). Goji berry tea helps to restore the body after menses and offers an array of amino acids. Simply place 2 tsp of dried goji berries into a cup of boiling water. Allow them to soak and release their power into the water, then drink.

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Follain is a new kind of beauty store with safe and effective skincare, hair care, cosmetics, men’s, and new mom’s products, by 60+ passionate brands. I first became acquainted with Follain at the WELL Summit in Boston, where I was delivering the keynote. Tara, the owner led a lecture about non-toxic skin care and the Follain philosophy. With locations in Boston, New York, DC, and Nantucket–Follain is leading a revolution in personal care–dedicated to ensuring that you no longer have to sacrifice health or values for beauty. Follain is gaelic for “healthy, wholesome, and sound”–the principles that we’re bringing back to beauty!

Tara Foley launched Follain in July 2013, as the healthy beauty retail alternative, and a catalyst for cleaning up the U.S. beauty industry. Before Follain, Tara researched safe and sustainable skincare, apprenticing on an organic lavender farm in France, and with a private label skin care company in Maine. With degrees in public policy and in business, Tara’s vision, passion, and activism fuel Follain’s growth, and its mission of improving the health and lives of others. She is a new mother and with a  new shop which opened in NYC pre-holiday season, Tara has a lot on her hands.

We caught up with Tara to learn a little about the new store, motherhood, and some of her favorite products!

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Tell us about the new space and how birthing Follain NYC is a baby of it’s own.

It’s a huge risk. It’s an emotional roller coaster. No matter how much I prepare and work to make it perfect, there are serious curve balls daily. And I learn SO MUCH with each of them. I’m exhausted, yet filled with more joy and love than ever before. ALL of this–and more!–can be said for having a baby and for the process of opening our NYC store! I’m not sure how this all happened the same year, but it did…and I’m more confident than ever that growing a business while growing my family is the best thing I’ve done yet. I’m laser focused, and I’m learning more than ever about myself, my skills, and my endurance. I’m even more obsessed with educating on the benefits of safer skincare alternatives. It’s pretty amazing.

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What led you to open in NYC?

I actually came up with the concept for Follain while living in NYC five years ago! An activist at heart, with a public policy degree in tow–my day job then was working at a law firm, but after hours I researched and blogged about clean beauty. The blog was my personal outlet, and when I noticed there was no single, expert beauty retailer of clean beauty products–not even in NYC!–I left the city to learn about the skincare business–working for a private label skincare company, and on a lavender farm–then opened four Follain stores, where I experimented with everything from the store size to the merchandise selection. Once we nailed down the details, we felt ready to return to NYC! And five years later, we’re so excited to be back!

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How is juggling new motherhood and this business?

Honestly, it’s impossible at times! This is Follain’s busiest and most important time of year AND we’re working on big developments for 2017. I have my hands full, but these days, who doesn’t? I’m beginning to realize what women mean, when they say they work more efficiently as new Moms. It’s TRUE! All of a sudden, I ruthlessly prioritize during my day. The time with little Henry is so fulfilling…silly…and amazing! Oftentimes I hop back on the computer after he goes to sleep, but if I’m really good–I’ll take the time after bedtime for myself. I’ve learned that without that occasional, forced “me time” I’ll decombust!

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What mama and baby products should we look out for in 2017? 

My favorites in that section remain the pregnant belly oil by Soapwalla and Erbaviva’s bath sachets for baby (or Mom)…but Mama and baby products don’t always live there at Follain! New Moms love our gentle and safe skin and body products. Some favorites are the moisturizers with fewer essential oils, like Ursa Major’s Golden Hour Recovery Cream and SW Basics Cream. We’re constantly on the hunt for safe and effective skincare for highly sensitive skin. Stay tuned for lots more options there next year!

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If you’re gifting someone else or yourself, what’s in your Follain gift guide?

If it’s Follain’s guide: here are the links to some of our curated sets. I can build out a longer, better guide if that’s what you want.

If it’s my own personal gift guide: 1)  Our awesome masks (they’re perfect to do in the time while nursing or pumping!) like my favorite Manuka Exfoliating Mask and Hydration Mask! 2) More Coyuchi linens for me, and for baby Henry — they’re organic, respectful to the environment, and also just lush and sophisticated. When you don’t get to spend a whole lot of time in bed, you want to make it count!  3)  More No6 clogs and Chuck All Stars — because I’ll literally wear them all!  4)  Lip scrubs — One for every bag! They’re the only thing that really repair my dry cracked lips in the winter. I always keep this one by Ilia handy, but want more around–like this Stewart & Claire goodie! 5) Gift certificates to my favorite daily hot spots, like spinning studios, but also to some new ones I’d like to try while visiting NYC–like MNDFL, the meditation space in NYC. 6) A great new diffuser. I’ve always loved the look and compact size of the ones by Page Thirty Three!  7)  More Blue Cocoon! Always.       8) Plants! — Love everything curated by Niche in Boston, and by The Sill while in NYC.