Mindfulness Box Zen Lifestyle Subscription Unboxing & Review: November 2015

Mindfulness Box

Mindfulness Box is a lifestyle subscription service aimed at promoting mindfulness, inner peace and balance by giving people the tools to live with more intention and in the present moment. This lifestyle box includes holistic and homeopathic, essential oil, and mineral based health care products, handcrafted jewelry, delicious biodynamic treats, natural minerals/crystals and more. Each box contains 4-5 items accompanied with guided dialogue to enrich the recipient’s journey to balance and inner peace. Boxes cost $29.00 per month, which includes shipping, and are less with multi-month subscriptions. Use code CRUNCHY10 for 10% off of your order.

Mindfulness Box graciously sent me this box to review. I received no additional compensation, and all opinions are my own. See more of my Mindfulness Box reviews here.

Asher and Alina have become my regular Mindfulness Box unboxing sidekicks. They love to see what interesting, useful, and tasty items will be included in the box. You can watch us unbox and discover, or if you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came with the sunny, smiling Mindfulness Box symbol and “Present Moment. Beautiful Moment” message to set the tone to best appreciate the contents. Everything arrived to me safely and intact.

Mindfulness Box November unboxign & review

As always, Mindfulness Box included an enclosure card listing the contents along with descriptions and values, as well as suggestions for how to integrate the items into our life in a way that would promote mindfulness. We set the card aside so that we could discover the items on our own, but referenced it at the end to help us learn about what Mindfulness Box had curated for this month. This month’s theme was focused on gratitude, a perfect message for November when we shift our intention more mindfully to giving thanks.

Mindfulness box serpentine palm stone & heart chakra meditation

Alina had asked to be the first to unwrap an item from the box. She discovered a smooth, polished green stone. In reading the enclosure, we discovered that the stone was a serpentine palm crystal; perfect for carrying in a pocket or holding in one’s hand during meditation (value, $7.50). Mindfulness Box described serpentine as being excellent for meditation and associated with the heart chakra. They also included a heart chakra guided meditation activity.

Mindfulness box custom grateful tea towel

Asher wanted to find the next item in the box, and chose to take out a white tea towel that had been embellished with a stamped mandala design and the word “grateful” as well as the Mindfulness Box logo (value, $14.00). I really liked the unique design of this Mindfulness Box custom item. I do a lot of fermenting and culturing and often need to cover jars with a tea towel to protect my ferments from dust or critters while allowing air to circulate freely.

kombucha infusing with gratitude-mindfulness box

This tea towel was perfect for covering my most recent batch of kombucha. It made me think of Marasu Emoto’s work investigating the relationship between focused intention and water crystal formation. Although the science is dubious, I figure that it cannot hurt to infuse my kombucha and other ferments with a little positive energy and gratitude while they culture.

Mindfulness box gratitude pocket journal

Building on the theme of gratitude, Mindfulness Box sent a pocket-sized, softcover, gratitude journal; custom made as an exclusive for this box (value, $6.00). The journal included a number of writing prompts to reflect on gratitude and blessings, as well as inspiring quotes about gratitude.

Mindfulness box gratitude journal sample page November box

I look forward to using this journal for my own reflections as well as using the prompts to serve as conversation starters during dinner or discussion times with the kids this month. Rich and I often talk about gratitude and how to practice gratefulness in our life as a way to bring about greater happiness. This journal will be a welcomed addition to our practice.

Mindfulness Box Zenbunni chocolate & yo soy candle Grateful

Alina showed off the Zenbunni Spirit Weavers Chocolate Bar as her next selection (value, $3.00). We have gotten to sample several Zenbunni bars through subscription boxes and have become familiar with their high-quality, full-bodied chocolates. The Spirit Weavers bar commemorates the Spirit Weavers gathering that brings together women from around the world annually to practice and share skills that support the body and spirit such as fermenting, dyeing, and herbal medicine making. The biodynamic bar blends hibiscus, elder flowers, and blood orange with cacao and cane jaggery to give a delicious boost to the immune system. I enjoyed the hint of fruitiness balanced by the rich and slightly bitter chocolate.

Zenbunni Spirit Weavers chocolate bar Mindfulness Box

The final item, uncovered by Asher, was a Yo Soy “I am Grateful” soy candle in a sweet orange and chili pepper fragrance (4 oz., value, $8.00) I did not see this scent on the Yo Soy site, but they had many other tempting fragrances available. As is obvious in the video, my kids are very used to having little glass jars of homemade salves all around the house, which is why Asher kept trying to dig his finger into the candle (fortunately without success). As much as I love salves, I was happy that this was in fact a candle. I find that with the darker days in the fall and winter months, I am lighting candles more for meditation, during a relaxing bath, or to create a quiet tone within the house. I was delighted to have this candle to add into the mix, and I loved the fresh orange scent that was balanced with just a hint of spice from the pepper. According to Mindfulness Box, the candle is meant to align you with your intention of gratitude.

Mindfulness full November Box Unboxing & review; zen meditation, chocolate, crystals, gratitude

The overall value of this month’s box according to the retail values provided was $38.50. This is a good value relative to the box price, and a significant increase over last month’s box value. I know that I will use every item in the box, as well as the meditation and gratitude practices. I find that the longer that I have been receiving subscription boxes, the more I have come to appreciate item utility and goodness of fit with my lifestyle over straight retail price. After all, the ultimate value is in the perceived utility to me, not a theoretical number. I very much liked the gratefulness theme; it is one that is not just popular at this time of year, but is very much in keeping with Mindfulness Box’s year-round mission. I like that Mindfulness Box consistently sends a nice balance of items for home, for self, and for emotional and spiritual wellness.

What are your thoughts about Mindfulness Box? Do you appreciate reminders and practices to promote gratitude in your life?

To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you are interested in finding “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes to enhance the way you live, eat, craft, play, care for you home and body, etc. you can find them on my ULTIMATE list, recently updated for fall. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent!

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Love Yourself First-Now Teen Self-Esteem Subscription Unboxing & Review: November 2015

Crunchy Parent Love Yourself First-Now Teen Self-Esteem Subscription Unboxing & Review November 2015

Love Yourself First Now is a relatively new subscription service targeted for young women ages 14 and up. LYFN was developed by a school psychologist/mother of two, and is aimed at promoting self-esteem and developing a sense of self through appreciating one’s self rather than looking to others for validation. Each month’s box features a theme and includes 4-6 functional products like jewelry, makeup, accessories, and inspiration to LOVE YOURSELF FIRST-now.

Boxes cost $29/month, shipping included. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Use code CRUNCHY for 10% off your Love Yourself First-Now subscription order.

Love Yourself First-Now graciously sent me this box to review. I received no additional compensation, and all opinions are my own.

Given that this is a subscription box aimed at girls in their younger teen years, I invited my own in-house, almost-teen to join me for the unboxing this month as well. Eva was very excited to see the LYFN box on the counter when she came home from school, and couldn’t wait to see what LYFN had in store for this month. You can watch us unbox and discover, or if you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came with cute chevron trim and an LYFN sticker. Unfortunately I did experience some breakage with this box (more on this below).

Love Yourself First-Now November subscription unboxing & review

LYFN included an enclosure card describing the box contents as well as providing valuing information and some usage suggestions. We set the card aside during the unboxing so that we could enjoy opening it all on our own, but did reference it to learn that this month’s theme is “Thankfulness.”

The first items that Eva grabbed out out of the box were two bags of herbal tea; Tazo Passion tea and Stash Cinnamon, Apple, Chamomile tea (value $0.50). All of my children are big tea drinkers, especially in the colder weather. We do appreciate herbal and other naturally caffeine free teas, so these are right up our alley. These look like they will be perfect to provide warmth on a cool fall day.

Next Eva saw a small envelope with a tiny “thankful” clothespin and four “I’m thankful for you because __________” cards (value “priceless”). LYFN suggests using these cards to reflect on what you are thankful for in others and leave the cards as a way to brighten their day. I think that cultivating a practice of gratitude is an important and rewarding habit for everyone. Building this skill at a younger age will pay dividends across a lifetime. I also think that adolescents can be surrounded by temptation to point out what they wish was different about the people around them (especially parents and siblings). Being thankful for the people in their lives gives perspective and appreciation that can lead to stronger relationships and to greater overall happiness.

LYF-N teen tween subscription box review November 2015

Eva really liked the cute owl “Thankful” mug that she saw in the box next (value $10.00). As she said, it was a perfect match for the enclosed teas, and was really cute with the purple owls and the polka dots. I think that Eva will welcome having her own special mug. From a very practical standpoint, I always like having distinct and different glassware for all family members. It makes it easy to know whose glass is whose on a given day so that we don’t mix them up and drink out of the wrong one, especially during cold and flu season. This mug is super cute and age-appropriate. I also like how it ties into the thankful theme. You can never have too many reminders to be grateful.

LYF-N thankful mug closeup

Both the thankful clothespin and the mug were customized with the word “thankful” handwritten on them. To some, this handmade touch may seem like the perfect personalization; to others the handwritten embellishments may lack a certain level of polish. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. That said, when taking photos for the review, I did notice that the “Thankful” on one side of the mug was already starting to rub off. I’m not sure what type of product was used to embellish the mug, but I expect that with washing the words will probably wear off pretty quickly. Hopefully the sentiment will still be remembered anyway, and the owl mug is really cute even without the embellishments.

Love Yourself First-Now subscription unboxing & review Damaged picture frame

I am glad that I went to take the next item out of the box because unfortunately it had broken during shipment and there were many glass shards as a result. LYFN sent a cute custom picture frame (value $10.00). The 4×6 frame is a cheery turquoise color and is embellished with a bright pink flower and a dry erase marker attached to the frame with velcro. Inside the frame is the the prompt, “Today I am thankful for.” The girl is encouraged to write on the frame who or what she is thankful for on that day.

I thought that this was such a cute idea and I could see Eva having a lot of fun with it. Obviously with the broken glass we couldn’t give it a try, but I wondered if it might have been tricky to write on the frame with the limited blank space available. I think that I might have reprinted the prompt in a smaller font to leave more space for Eva’s thoughts. I contacted LYFN to make them aware of the shipping problem, so I hope that boxes not yet sent may have had extra cushioning added around the frames to avoid breakage. LYFN offered to send a replacement frame. I imagine that if anyone receives a broken frame they can contact LYFN and they will take care of the problem.

LYF-N Thankful necklace

The last item in the box was a pretty gold-toned necklace with three charms; a small round “be thankful” disc, a turquoise-colored bead, and a metallic tassel (value 15.00). I can see this versatile necklace being dressed up or down, and I think that Eva will really enjoy wearing it. Once again, I think that it will serve as a reminder to be thankful for all the things that are good, and right, and helpful when she begins to feel overwhelmed by all that seems wrong, and missing, and difficult in life. During adolescence, life can hand you some big situations, and yet the brain development still makes emotion regulation a challenge. A concrete reminder hanging around your neck to encourage you to focus on the good can be grounding, and helpful in keeping emotions from becoming overwhelming.

Love Yourself First Now thankful necklace closeup

I am still a big fan of the concept of the Love Yourself First-Now box. Eva really likes receiving the boxes. She responds well to the types of items that have been included, and the color and style choices made. She commented that she thought that this month’s box had a more mature overall feel than last month’s box. She attributed this in part to the color choices but also to items like tea and a necklace that was stylish.

Love Yourself First-now complete November unboxing & review Thankfulness theme

According to LYFN, the value of this month’s box is $35.50 plus they thankful notes, which are priceless. I find it difficult to assess the objective value of the items included in the LYFN boxes since they generally seem to be non-branded items without tags or packaging, as well as handmade or customized items that are exclusive to LYFN. I try instead to look at the overall box as a gift and consider whether I would end up paying $29 or more for something similar if I was to put it together myself with comparable items. I absolutely think that this month’s box value justifies the price, and all of the curation, acquisition, customization, and packaging has been done for me. I loved the chevrons, polkadots, and colors throughout the box. I thought that the overall appearance of the package was very appealing for the demographic; cute without being over-the-top.

I really liked the thankfulness theme and thought that it was carried through the box items very well. Gratitude is a skill that Rich and I try to practice regularly for ourselves, as well as cultivate in the children. I appreciate that LYFN is highlighting an attitude of appreciation through this box. I thought that the items included this month were on-target for the age demographic. I know that Eva will use all of the things in this month’s box. Her new room and her collection of wardrobe accessories is shaping up to be quite cute with the items that LYFN has been sending.

I think that LYFN is still a newer subscription that has been evolving since its inception with some growing pains along the way. I like that there appears to be a commitment to staying true to the intention of helping teen girls to nurture a sense of appreciation for themselves and for their lives. As a small indie company I think that a few of the items reflect a handmade “imperfect” quality that some will find endearing and others may not enjoy as much. My guess is that most of the girls receiving the boxes won’t mind the less refined touches.

I would love to hear what other parents think about the Love Yourself First-now boxes. Do you think that this would be a good box for your daughter? What do you think about the overall LYFN concept and execution?

To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you are interested in finding “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes to enhance the way you live, eat, craft, play, care for you home and body, etc. you can find them on my ULTIMATE list. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent!

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Cancer, Self-Care, and Gratitude

AlicePopkorn / Foter / CC BY

I don’t like asking for help. It is a quality that I am afraid that I have passed along to my children. In all honesty it’s really less about asking for help that I don’t like, it’s the needing help altogether. Logically I know that it is natural to need help with things in life, both large and small. Emotionally however, I do not like to show weakness or need. I want to be able to take care of myself. My parents say that one of my favorite phrases as a child was, “Me do it!” I think that I’m still a “Me do it!” girl at heart.

When I received my cancer diagnosis four-plus years ago, I had to surrender to the idea that I was going to need help. I was going to need help for myself and I was going to need help for my family to do all of the things that I normally did for us that I would no longer be able to accomplish on my own. One of the greatest immediate challenges was being able to go for my daily radiation treatments. They would only be for a short while each morning, but I needed time to get to and from the hospital, to change into a hospital gown, and assume my contorted position on the machine to be shot full of targeted, cancer-blasting radiation. Asher was still an infant at the time and he was not invited to join me in the “mommy microwave” for my five weeks of daily treatments. I didn’t have anyone to help me with childcare. We had never had the resources for a sitter so I had nobody to call. We had used up a lot of our community goodwill less than a year prior when I had spent 166 days on bed rest trying to sustain Asher’s pregnancy. Rich worked from home a lot at that time when he wasn’t traveling for his job, but he was always on seemingly endless conference calls and otherwise working to support us. Managing the needs of a ten month-old while mama was getting zapped daily wasn’t going to be easy for him to take on during his work day. Additionally, we were concerned about the impact of our need for his time on his job security, especially so close on the heels of my extended bed rest stint. His employment was our only source of income and health insurance.

I tried to explore potential resources for child care: could the hospital provide a volunteer to meet me at the cancer center and just hang out with Asher in the waiting room while I spent my 15-20 minutes in treatment each morning? Were the hospital social workers aware of any social service agencies who could provide short-term child care to allow parents access to treatment? Was there any child care available on-site at the hospital? I explored every suggestion or lead. I even recall one conversation in which I was told that if I had breast cancer then there might be some resource available. My somewhat desperate response was, “Well, I have breasts, and I have cancer. Is there any way somebody could help hold my baby so that I can get radiation now?” It was new territory for me. I had gone from avoiding asking for help to begging for it, and I wasn’t getting very far.

I was never able to secure the childcare needed to make my radiation appointments. Instead I did my best to schedule treatments during Asher’s morning nap and Rich suspended work travel for the five weeks, working from home to help in a pinch if Asher woke up before I could scoot back. Despite my childcare assistance failing, I made a commitment that I was going to take advantage of the help that was available to me. I was going to pick up the phone and ask for what I needed, and sometimes I might get it. Specifically, I decided that during the course of my radiation treatments through my surgery date I would do at least one thing each week that would support my health and healing in a way that felt good both physically and spiritually since treatment did not feel good in either of those domains. I was acknowledging my physical and emotional vulnerability and trying to honor it.

Luckily for me, I lived within reasonably close proximity of two cancer support centers and there were additional support and wellness services offered through the hospital cancer center where I went for my daily radiation. Through these resources I was able to schedule no-cost appointments for a range of services such as massage, Reiki, Healing Touch, reflexology, and more. I really wasn’t picky. Anything that allowed me to feel nurtured or cared for helped to fortify my spirit and feel supported in my fight. In addition, these services were provided by volunteers, some of whom were cancer survivors themselves. In those difficult days of treatment when I was kissing my infant son goodbye and trying to imagine how long I could be a healthy and well mama to him and his sisters, it was very helpful for me to see and speak to survivors, especially long-term survivors.

I did a really good job of my once a week appointments through the course of my radiation and up until my surgery. Then my focus shifted to physical therapy, twice a week at first, and then once weekly for 8 months to address pain and help me regain my ability to stand, walk, and increase strength and range of motion to compensate for the quadriceps muscle that had been removed from my leg. Other family needs required my attention as well. Asher in particular needed a lot of support at the time. I had weaned him when I started treatments and quickly discovered significant problems around his ability to eat. In addition we were involved in follow-up care for a surgery that he had to address a birth defect. We were navigating the Early Intervention system, working through a lot of evaluations and home visits, scheduling therapies and trying to rally the support necessary to meet his nutrition needs. My self-care dropped off. I picked it up again later for a bit with a weekend “cancer yoga” class, but that too fell by the wayside when demands became great for me to work over the course of a year or two to renovate our home so that we could sell it and move to an area that would better meet the needs of our family. Our budget was strictly “DIY if at all possible” so I was burning the midnight oil and weekends laying flooring, sewing curtains, painting walls and ceilings, refinishing cabinetry, replacing light fixtures, combing home improvement resale shops, Craigslist, and thrift stores, and learning my way around impressive power tools that I borrowed from my father. In the triaging of our life, I moved myself down the list.

So remember back when I said that this blog is self-care for me? Well, it is in the sense that it allows me a creative outlet and keeps me in a conversation about my interests. It also lets me hear my own voice and evaluate what I am saying sometimes. I recently read myself writing “I may never get to that ‘someday’ list that I always put my own needs on. I keep saying that I will join a gym again or start attending yoga classes at the cancer wellness center again, or make time to spend with friends, but somehow months go by and it just doesn’t happen.” It didn’t sit well with me when I saw those words in black and white. It showed me that I am not having integrity with my commitments. I am committed to treating myself as important; to supporting my physical, mental, and emotional health to live a long life of wellness. I cannot take care of my children if I die an early death that I contribute to from my own neglect. I don’t want “Me do it!” attached to that outcome.

I called the cancer support center closest to where we are now living. I signed up for a weekly “cancer yoga” class. It is a uncomfortable for me. I have to work through the conversations about whether I deserve to be there (I’m not in treatment anymore and haven’t been for a long time); how do I fit in (I am always the youngest usually by decades, can I relate to these people? Can they relate to how cancer has impacted my life?); what am I not getting done while there (I should be getting groceries so that the kids have food for lunches. I need to figure out dinner for tonight. Do I need to skip out on the ending meditation to pick Asher up from school on time?, etc.) I’m doing it anyway though. I try to clear my mind. When thoughts of questioning or doubt creep in I try to picture all of the people who have donated time or money to cancer research and to cancer support agencies. They want me to be okay. They want me to live a long, healthy life and to be able to care for my children. I focus my energy and gratitude toward them. I receive their support. I honor their personal struggles and the loved ones who they may have lost to cancer; who may have inspired the generosity that allowed me to have this moment of nurturing. Lunches and dinner will work themselves out. Asher won’t be stranded at preschool. I am grateful for this day. I am grateful for this moment. I am grateful for this support. “We do it.”

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