Friday, July 20, 2012

Beautifully Broken

Nearly five years ago, we made a 12 hour journey to St. George's Island, Florida.  Seven months pregnant with an eleven month old--loved the beach experience, not the drive! 

I was fortunate to bring home a large seashell memento.  The summers leading up to now, I would bring it out of storage along with the rest of my shell collection to decorate our home.  

Beach life in our land-bound, Tennessee home. 

A self-proclaimed aesthete, I revel most in God's handiwork.  The beauty of nature surpasses our own humble attempts of its replication--continuously revealing God's majesty.

And so, I displayed the whole part.  The seemingly most beautiful side.

On whim recently, I turned the shell over, revealing the broken side.

Jagged edges.  Parts missing.  Yet depth unveiled.  Mesmerizing internal spiral design shown through a portal, likely caused by the ravaging sea.

In this life, we can't escape brokenness.  We can find beauty in layers.  By God's grace, brokenness enables our souls to grow and flourish.

Daily reminders help us mend our cracks, faults, wounds--not hiding, but enriching--revealing.

Beauty is not perfect, not yet.  That awaits us in Heaven.  For now, we work on our producing good fruit.  And as every arborist knows, more pruning = greater yield.

Wonder in your own beauty, imperfect as it may be.


Thursday, March 22, 2012


by Jena Sanders

 blossom |ˈbläsəm|
  • mature or develop in a promising or healthy way
  •  seem to grow or open like a flower 

Weathered thru winter, God's handiwork springs forth.  Foliage shoots up from bulb long planted. 

Greater promised, closed bud transforms.  Petals explode--layers of colour.  Beauty encompasses.

In this fallen world, experiencing sharp pain--hurt, cut through the core, we blossom.

Colours, character emerge.  Shades deepen as edges soften and furl.


Time tolls.  New generations bloom.

Body withers.  Beauty morphs.  Til, long last, eternity in blossom.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Healthy Dyeing

By Jena Sanders

Hair dye.  Have you tried it?  If you are like the average woman and some men, you probably have changed or enhanced your hair colour at one point or another.  Whether trying to cover gray or just changing pace from your natural hair colour, there are endless hair dyes available on the market from which to choose.

My first experience changing hair colour occurred in my late teens.  I tried to recapture the dirty blonde locks of my early youth and I opted for inexpensive DIY brands.  In retrospect, this was not a good idea to unprofessionally attempt to turn my naturally dark brunette hair blonde.  The end result was more brassy than not.  Returning to my natural colour after a couple of years,  I was content with my dark brown hair that grew much healthier without the harsh bleaching processing.

That is, until I began to notice gray hairs creeping into the brown strands.  For a couple of years, plucking would suffice to keep them at bay.  However, in my mid-twenties after the birth of my firstborn, I knew this habit would be too time consuming to continue on regular basis.  With the demands of motherhood, and ever increasing grays, I started looking for other options. 

      {Not that there is anything wrong with going gray and, indeed, Proverbs 16:31 NIV states, "Gray   hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life."  In fact, my paternal grandmother was mostly gray by her mid thirties.  She had beautiful hair--thick and wavy, styled shortly.  I thoroughly admired her lovely silver locks.  But at this point in my life, kicking off my thirties, I find myself too vain to start "going" gray.  I would venture to say throughout my forties, also, I would prefer less salt, more pepper.} 

Well on my journey to healthy living, I sought hair dye that did not contain harsh ingredients such as ammonia, peroxide, heavy metals, PPD and substances that over the long term would not be healthy for my hair, or body, or potential baby.  At first I opted for henna powder, a natural dye derived completely from the tropical shrub.  Mixed with liquid, it creates a mud-like mask.  After a couple of tries dyeing my long hair with a muddy mixture that came off in clumps (much easier to have help applying it), I realized this method was not for me.

     {I would, however, recommend giving henna powder a try or two, as it is probably the most natural form of semi-permanent hair colour.   Results can very, but your hair is left incredibly shiny and soft as the henna coats each strand, while naturally nourishing the hair.}

Continuing my search, I tried a brand that was healthier, free from some of the harsher ingredients, but smelled pontent and still contained some harmful ingredients.  While the gray coverage was good, I still wasn't too impressed.

Finally, online, I came across the brand Surya Brasil; and more specifically their henna cream.  Surya Brasil started back in the mid-nineties, successfully selling worldwide, their first product--henna powder.  They released their henna cream version in 1997 and subsequently have grown to include other natural cosmetic products.

Their vision from their website states, "Surya Brasil respects the interconnectedness of all life and strives to create for consumers a healthier lifestyle and thus a healthier world through the use of its products. The company brings together Nature, the Science of Ayurveda, and Technology thus harmonizing the human with his environment while respecting the animal and plant kingdoms for the purpose of preserving a better world -- one that is ecologically sustainable and socially just."

Henna cream (pictured above) is semi-permanent and does cover gray (my personal experience is that the colour is lighter on gray hair appearing more as highlights).  It does so without harming the hair, and claims it is the only hair colouring product to contain fifteen organic extracts that treat the hair and scalp.  Moisturizing, conditioning, and revitalizing, henna cream leaves hair shiny and soft.  Its mild smell results from using essential oils for fragrance (Rose, Sandlewood, Ylang-Ylang and Jasmine--all used in various SoJoy Spa products, coincidentally).  The healthy ingredients, along with its ease of use and affordable price, makes henna cream an excellent alternative to other dyes on the market.

If you are interested in natural hair dye that is good for your hair and your health, I would highly recommend trying Surya Brasil's henna powder or henna cream and perhaps their other eco-conscience hair products.  The dyes come in a variety of shades and are suitable for most hair types.  Although one is not able to purchase directly from their website, I purchase their henna cream, along with other vitamins and supplements from or

Here's to eco-chic, natural living.  Nothing wrong with a little glam to soften the crunch.  ;)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Green Life

by Jena Sanders

The environmentally-friendly buzzword used over the past couple of years is commonly referred to as "Going Green" or "Green Living" or simply "Green(ing)." 

At its core "green" living is really living holistically.  Holistic, defined by the dictionary, refers to something "characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole."  On a broad basis, holistic living views society as a whole, intertwined by understanding of past generations, and considerations of those to come and applies such knowledge to actively enrich and manage present lives.  However, as our society becomes increasingly ego-centric and individualized, less thought is given to a broader picture of mankind.  For man was created to live wholly; a multifaceted life, striving for a broad base of knowledge resulting in skills and aptitude in multiple fields or disciplines, i.e. a renaissance man or polymath, relying on family and local community to fill in the shortages.  Unfortunately, as our society becomes increasingly compartmentalized and specialized, negative results occur: the loss of time-honoured art & craft traditions, decreased quality of life and the inability to live in harmony with the natural world.

To bring in holistic living on a personal basis, we must take control of our personal health and well-being. With the exception of trauma and truly amazing technical advances, standard medicine and the SAD (Standard American Diet) are incomplete paths to well-being and can even be harmful.  Industrialized nations have become dependent on synthetic medical treatments for ONLY the symptoms of an illness or targeting a specific gene while fully neglecting the WHOLE body. Assess and evaluate all medical treatment options at all times. The human body is composed of a web-like matrix of interconnected and entwined parts.  Such a whole body requires optimal nutrition that can be obtained by raising your own food, or knowing personally who is growing what you are eating.

Although there are numerous parts that make up a green life, two crucial aspects are sustainability and seasonality.   These principles are part of the reason Green Streets Market, a food & arts festival was estabilished in Lawrenceburg, TN.  Allison Baker, Jill Poston, Pat Adams and yours truly, embarked on a mission:

"Our objective is to enrich our community through encouraging growth and the revitalization of Lawrenceburg's economy by promoting a monthly food and arts festival during the harvest season.  We hope to sustain a vibrant and flourishing relationship between consumers and local farmers and artisans in a family friendly environment.  We also encourage local business participation by sponsoring our monthly markets.  Our desire is to utilize local resources to educate the Lawrenceburg public about the benefits of living a healthful, "green" lifestyle."

We believe knowledge is key to action, and understanding and ability comes best from personal experience.  Ideally, plant and grow your own food.  Or take advantage of your own local farmer's market.  Wouldn't you rather purchase strawberries (with noticeable and actual flavour) from a local patch in May, than getting a questionable product from a chain grocery store in December?  Who knows from where they have shipped and what chemicals have been sprayed on them?  Eat seasonally and locally.  Likewise, why not support local artists to enhance your community's culture and shop local businesses to the stimulate the local economy?  As our tag line for Green Streets Market states, "Live Green. Buy Local!"

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring '11 Jewelry: "Flight of Fancy" Takes Off...

by Jena Sanders

Well, y'all, I have been busy, with gardening season in swing, SoJoy Spa's new product launch (coming very, very soon!), and finishing Spring's 2011 Jewelry collection (...not to mention full-time mothering).  But, the collection is finished!  Lots of turquoise, feathers, and bird-esque components, with pops of peridot and purple.  Here is a glimpse of highlights from the collection.

Spring 2011, "Flight of Fancy"

fun, flirty and light statement earrings.
Malachite, feather, crystal & suede larait necklace.

navy gold stone necklace and turquoise nest necklace with coordinating earrings.

spring peep wine charms.
peridot swarovski crystal and sterling earrings.

Stay tuned with more pictures to come from this collection on facebook and available for purchase soon at

Southern Joy's Jewelry collection will premier at First Fridays Art festival in Florence, Al, this coming Friday, April 1st 2011.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wellness Wednesday: Wonderful Watercress

by Jena Sanders

Freshly picked watercress from our spring.

An aquatic plant with a peppery flavour, watercress is one of mother nature's most nutrient dense and medicinally powerful foods.

Loaded with 15 essential vitamins and minerals (i.e. micro-nutrients and antioxidants) watercress in modern times has come to be considered a cancer-fighting super food.

In fact, did you know watercress contains more vitamin C than an orange, more calcium than milk and more absorbable iron than spinach??

That's not all, it also contains vitamins A, K, and B1 & B3, along with magnesium, manganese, potassium, zinc and more!

In 400 BC, Hippocrates, The Father of Modern Medicine, is said to have founded the first hospital near springs filled with wild watercress that he used to treat patients with blood conditions.  

An abundance of watercress.

In the 1600s, herbalist John Gerard touted watercress as a treatment for scurvy, as it was much easier to come by than the elusive orange at the time.

Watercress was even recorded in the first American Thanksgiving dinner with the Pilgrims and Indians...So how can you enjoy it, too?

My family is blessed with our own spring that has an abundance of watercress.  Harvesting it before flowering buds appear,  I will toss some in a salad with some olive oil and vinegar, or make a cream based pureed sauce, or even chop it up and toss it in a warm potato soup.

If you are not as fortunate to have access to your own watercress, now is its harvest season, so try finding some at a local farmer's market or a store such as Whole Foods.

And who knows, at some point it might be a anti-aging, super-nutrient in SoJoy Spa products, you'll have to stay tuned...

**Medical Disclaimer:  The information contained in this article is intended to provide helpful and healthful advice from traditional, home-health & well-being practitioners (Not medical doctors) and should not be construed as medical advice.  Please consult your primary health physician if you have or may have any pre-existing medical conditions.**

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


By Janet Poston

In green tea, leaves are dried or slightly steamed but not fermented.  Green Tea is rich in Catechin Polyphenols (also known as Flavonoids), very powerful anti oxidants. The health benefits from green tea are primarily due to its anti-oxidizing properties.

. . . So, what are some health benefits of green tea?

•  Anti-Aging:  The anti oxidants in green tea neutralize free radicals present in the body.   (The free radicals are responsible for corrosion within the body).

•  Stimulating: Green tea is ideal for countering sleepiness, laziness, fatigue, and lack of energy and to improve blood circulation. 

•  Immunity Boosting: The Catechins present in green tea prevent bacteria and viruses from attaching to cell walls and infecting them.

•  Astringency:  Green tea triggers contractions in muscles and tissues and thereby helps to tones up muscles and skin.

•  Anti-Carcinogenic:  Free radicals are also responsible for causing certain types of cancer.  Drinking green tea can help reduce the chances of cancer.  Green tea is now being used clinically in prevention of cancer, particularly those pertaining to colon, rectum, pancreas and intestines.

•  Reducing Cholesterol: Green tea has been shown to be effective helping reducing cholesterol levels, probably due to its alkaline nature.

•  Cardiac & Arterial Health: Green tea helps prevent thickening of blood, thereby reducing chances of arterial sclerosis and strokes. 

•  Anti-Diabetic: The alkaline nature of green tea helps reduce the blood glucose level.  Plus, better health helps the pancreas function like it should. 

•  Weight Loss:  Green tea also helps in weight loss  by enhancing the rate of metabolism and thereby eliminating some stored fat in the body.

•  Stamina & Endurance Booster:  Green tea gives you an extra boost, and it effectively counters muscular pain due to over exercise of muscles.

•  Deintoxicating: Green tea is a great cure to get rid of hangovers and fatigue caused by consumption of alcoholic beverages and lack of sleep due to late night parties.

A favorite green tea of mine is Yogi organic Green Tea Kombucha.  The ingredients in the tea bag are:  organic green tea leaf, organic lemongrass, organic spearmint leaf, natural passion fruit flavor, natural plum flavor, organic kombucha (aiding in digestion).

Now instead of tossing your used tea bags in the trash, you can go green yet again:

Try using a cooled tea bag as an astringent.  Wipe away residue from your face or place cooled bags (from freezer or fridge) over your eyes as you take a 10 minute rest.  This will help . . .

Erin Go Braugh!

. . .  and Go GREEN!