Friday, June 26, 2015

Is Social Media Ruining Your Mood? Or Enhancing it?

Hey there! Have you ever been playing around on Facebook or Twitter, clicking randomly on things that interest you, and find yourself going down a deep rabbit hole?

You click on a couple of political articles, for example, about horrific things happening in the world, and suddenly all you see in your newsfeed is a steady stream of more horrific articles. Or you click on a funny cat video your friend just posted, and the next three or four posts feature funny animals.

"Wow," you think. "That New Age spiritual notion of what you focus on increasing in your life must be true! There's the evidence right there in my newsfeed!" Yeah, well not so fast.

A number of technology-oriented entities, Apple and Google in particular, have been innovating in trying to make your online experience more custom-tailored to you, especially when it comes to mood. The idea can be used in a variety of ways from making your online searching experience more effective to filling your Facebook newsfeed with the kind of content you seem to want to see. If you have better success in finding what you are looking for by using a particular browser or social media service you are much more likely to associate a positive experience with using it—good for you because you'll be happier and more satisfied, good for the company because you'll want to use their service again.

And this isn't just happening online. I was recently shopping for clothes at Forever 21 and noticed that the music was making me feel good in a situation -- clothes shopping -- I usually associate with misery. I'm not your typical shopaholic. I shop for clothing twice a year to replace things I feel like I need but might not otherwise buy. But the last two times I shopped there, both within a week of each other, were different. I lingered. I felt better while I shopped. And that experience was so unusual I stopped to actually pay attention to the music alone. Such uplifting messages! "You are so beautiful." "I like you just the way you are." "Cut loose! Footloose!" "What a feeling!" and on it went. All popular songs, nothing glaringly out of place except I was surprised to hear "What a Feeling" from Flashdance both visits. That's what tipped me off. I didn't know if the songs were being chosen on purpose (they are), but I truly thought they were. And my next thought was "This is genius!" I felt increasingly better about myself as I was shopping in a place I originally thought of as a store where nothing would fit. (I mean, I'm no longer even close to 21.)

So, on some levels, this can be a very good thing. But there are days when I think Facebook has it totally wrong. Recently, I clicked on that horrifying blog news report about the 800 and growing heat wave deaths in Pakistan that are very likely the result of global climate change. I even went as far as to share it, even though I fought with myself as to whether to add to the relentless barrage of bad news in the feed I was getting at that time. It got so bad afterwards that I had to shut my computer down and take a good long break. I don't go to Facebook to feel miserable and depressed. I go there to relax, connect with my Friends and snack a little on a variety of Internet content and treats. But this week my newsfeed became awash with all things dark and horrible. I needed to beat a retreat and get my downtime fix somewhere else.

Such as in books! Before Facebook I used to read those paper things that actually require an attention span, and I did it for hours at a time. (Did you know that the average attention span of a human being is estimated to be 8 seconds?!!!) So I decided this would be the summer when I would return to reading books. Actually, I downloaded a few to my Kindle. I've become a modern girl.

And what did I wind up reading? "Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate New Ideas and Predict the Future" by Rohit Bhargava. And in that book I read about trends in 2015 that include using seasoned journalists to create positive useful content for brands and nonprofits, social media experiments, mood-sensing technology, and a variety of other things that sparked me to write this blog post right now. Fascinating things about how even the rate of your typing on a laptop or, especially, a mobile phone is tracked for clues about your prevailing mood as you search the internet or walk through your neighborhood.

Oh! By the way, did a coupon for Starbucks wind up in front of you as you were walking down the street with your cellphone in your face just as your local Starbucks came into view? That's the result of the GPS on your phone and, at this point in time, you probably wanted it to do that. Maybe you do want that latte right now. Maybe you were going to Starbucks and that coupon will come in handy. But if someone knows where you are and what you are searching for or what you might have just said or texted to a friend, including what mood you are in. . .

I think my mood is not being enhanced in a good way as a result of that realization at all.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

New Geometric Mugs, Leggings, Shirts and Totebags on Society 6
I designed some very interesting patterned cloth in a class I took last year but have discovered I like it best on products like this mug I just created for Society 6.

Society 6 is a company I just started working with. I haven't given up the Zazzle shop I share with Paul but I've been wanting to add items they don't offer. For example, this mug is printed top to bottom instead of in just a small designated area. I have mugs like these at home and I love the look of them.

I also have been designing leggings, shirts and totebags that are printed all over. Again, SO much more stylish! It's fun to have more choice.

Blue Foxtail Leggings by Sheryl Karas
Blue Foxtail Shirt by Sheryl Karas
Blue Foxtail Totebag by Sheryl Karas

Saturday, June 06, 2015

All Triple Strength Flower Essence Aromatherapy Perfume Balms on Sale!

I really LOVE these triple strength healing balms! I keep a couple in my purse and a few by my bedside. They're convenient and small and don't tip over and work super well. And smell like perfume -- sometimes I use them just for that purpose alone.

But I don't love making them.

And because they are time-consuming to make and contain triple the amount of my high quality and pricey organic essential oils, they're pretty expensive when I sell them at full retail prices. So, step by step, I'm letting them go.

As of now I will no longer be offering these balms wholesale. And that means I can drop my retail prices to something more affordable. But don't delay! My best-selling Releasing Worry and Fear balm is already sold out. When the others go, they'll be gone for good as well.

Buy them in my Etsy store!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Lazy Girl's Approach to Better Health

In the last few years I have gotten into some lazy habits. Cooking, for example. I used to cook healthy food almost every day. But I got out of the habit when I hooked up with someone who loves to go to cafes, and hates kale and other things I used to eat. We moved multiple times and I had my whole way of life disrupted. Eating out in new places is a lot of fun but we've lived in Chico three years or more so I can't really use that for an excuse. What's for supper? I don't know, I didn't plan ahead so we don't have the right ingredients, nothing interesting is already prepared, cheap Chinese food is just down the street and, despite the vegetables, that's not as healthy as you might think. Then menopause set in and changed my metabolism, the leeway I might have had in my youth is gone, and now none of my clothes fit.


This week I went clothes shopping, had the horrifying experience of standing in front of full-length mirrors with awful glaring lighting. . . and saw the awful glaring truth. Yikes!

I know, I know, love my body no matter what size but, still, there are health effects to be expected from this. Let's get real. It's time to re-incorporate some healthier habits into my life!

Big sighs. What are the "easiest" things I could do to generate the most healthful impact?

Thinking way back in time, I remember always planning a week's worth of meals in advance. I'd make sure I got all the ingredients for those meals instead of randomly filling my basket with whatever looked good. And I cooked every night and rarely went out to eat. Cooking from scratch every night, however, is no longer appealing so the current choice is to add in delicious home-cooked meals that will be delightful to eat a second or third time. Or prepared choices that I can mix and match the whole week through.

The first thing I made was a big bowl of salad with the ingredients that make salads start to look sad as time goes on--cut up tomatoes, avocados, etc.--prepared and kept in separate bowls. And a delicious marinated artichoke frittata--just mix the ingredients up, heat on the stove in a cast iron pan for a bit while you waste time on Facebook, add cheese and put under the broiler for a little bit more when the timer you set rings, and now you have a main dish for 3-5 meals, depending on who's eating. Then I felt inspired so I added a pot of rice, made up a nice fruit salad, and opened up a ready-made bag of already cooked seasoned lentils (from Trader Joe's -- yum, highly recommend) and put it in a container so I can just spoon some out whenever I want some.  This doesn't sound like a "lazy" approach but trust me, one night of cooking and ingredient prep led to super easy breakfasts, lunches and dinners for several days after. Paul and I added some microwaved Indian dinners one night and fish with asparagus another but the more time-consuming items were already done. 15 minute dinners that make you feel like you're eating like kings is pretty awesome.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Call of the Heyoka - New Art Print on Etsy

I've been doing a number of experimental artworks in the classes I've been taking lately. Three of my pieces from last year were accepted into the juried Butte College student show this week. This is one of them. I call it "Call of the Heyoka" but it could be called "Marc Chagall Goes to New Mexico" because I was under the influence of a book I read by him at the time. But it's really about a couple of Heyoka (sacred clowns in the Native American tradition) who ride their horse backwards across the New Mexico skies to remind us to pay attention to who we really are, what we really want, what we are doing, and where we're going.

Buy a print in my Etsy shop!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Flower Essences and Aromatherapy for Pain and Stress Reduction

Every time I use my "Releasing Worry and Fear" Reiki-infused flower essence aromatherapy oil I think, "Holy crap! This stuff is amazing!"

It's been awhile since I've tried it. But last night my feet hurt and lower back hurt and I KNOW I've been under some emotional stress. I've been worrying about decisions I have to make that might have significant consequences, and my back has been freaking out. I rubbed Some 'Releasing Worry and Fear" on the soles of my feet -- where it hurt -- up and down my legs, butt and lower back. Wow! In seconds I felt the tension ease away, my feet and back felt better, and I thought, "Oh yeah, that's why I made this stuff." I'd still be making it for me if I wasn't making it for all of you.   Find it in my Etsy shop!