I’m excited to announce my new interview series called “Living Slower With…” I’ve had this idea since I launched SlowMama and thought it would be a great new feature for 2012. I’ll be interviewing interesting women about their lives, asking them how they live well in a fast-paced world and how they juggle their many priorities. Hope you enjoy my first conversation below…
I first met Theresa Cangialosi when I walked into her Baltimore aromatherapy boutique, SoBotanical. Something magical seemed to be going on in there; it was full of mysterious colored bottles and intoxicating scents. Ever since, I’ve been a huge fan of Theresa’s products (I’ve written about them here), and inspired by her ability to live so naturally in the city as an entrepreneur and mom. She gave birth to her gorgeous daughter, Gabriella, in her late 40s, which I also find amazing.
Zoe Saint-Paul: Aromatherapy is a fascinating field. How did you get into it, and what do you love about it?
Theresa Cangialosi: My initial interest started in the mid-1980s while working as a flight attendant and traveling overseas. I came across essential oils in drugstores everywhere I went and wondered why they weren’t in the United States. I introduced them to a health-food store I was working in and ended up buying all the supply. I immediately saw results. The management thought it was hocus pocus, so I left and opened up my own store with a focus on essential oils and natural body products.
I love that I get to witness positive results daily. To hear positive feedback from tens of thousands of people over the years is a true testament to the art and science of aromatherapy.
What are your favorite scents?
The immune-boosting essential oils: eucalyptus, ravensara, tea tree, lavender. I also love to wear ylang ylang as a quick little perfume or a jasmine pomade that I make.
You’re an entrepreneur and a mom. How do you find time for both?
My first priority is my family. I do my work around my daughter and my family’s schedule. Having my studio by appointment is wonderful, because I can be flexible with my hours and creative time. This also helps me have more in my life than just work. Some customers are bothered that I’m not always available, but I think those who are supposed to be there will find a way. I have loyal clients — some from more than 25 years ago.
There are never enough hours in the day, but that’s what makes it perfect: It all happens in divine order. I believe in going with the flow.
Take us on a brief tour of your typical day.
I wake up around 7 am, put on a pot of coffee, and get ready for the day. If I have 15-20 minutes to sit by myself in peace and read the paper, all is good. The rest of the house wakes up shortly thereafter (dog, daughter, husband, and cat), and I help with all their morning routines. It’s then off to Montessori school for my daughter by 9 am. After an hour, I’m back home — tidying the house, starting loads of wash, and getting things organized for any business I have that day: returning calls, putting together orders, working on business development and some appointments.
Three times a week for an hour, I do a group fitness club at the gym, and 1-2 times a week I do yoga. Then it’s 2 pm and time to pick up my daughter. I love the car ride, as I use it to catch up on sports radio (I am a huge Baltimore Ravens fan!). The afternoon is all about my daughter, Gabriella, and on some evenings my husband and I get a sitter so we can form sentences together without interruption. Before I know it, the day is over and I look forward to sleep, ready to start all over again the next day. I certainly do not understand the concept of boredom!
How do you stay organized?
I used to be super organized in all aspects until Gabriella came along; now I let a lot of things slide. We travel quite a bit, so I’m always ready to go; being a flight attendant helped me travel light and stay organized. Chaos makes me anxious, and so does a dirty environment, but I’ve loosened up quite a bit. Still, I love to organize; in fact, I used to be a cleaner and home organizer when I was younger for families and hotels. If I didn’t have an aromatherapy business, I might be a professional organizer. I love Feng Shui energetics.
You became a mother at the ripe young age of 48. What did it bring to your life, and how did it change you?
As everyone says, it changes your life — and for mine, it was for the better. I have much less time for myself and very little down time, but it allows me to be of service to others and to find the flow. It makes me want to be a better person and to teach my child things that were never taught to me. I knew having a child would be a huge change, and that’s why I waited so long.
I must say you look incredibly young — I never would have guessed your age. May I ask what your diet is like?
I’ve been vegetarian since I was 16 years old, and about 9 years ago I started eating some fish and shellfish, so technically I’m a pescatarian now. I’m picky about the cooking oils I use; no fried, boxed, or canned foods; and not much sugar except for special occasions. I love nuts. I do mostly organic food, and I love veggies. I never consumed soda or juice and never did milk or eggs. I drink lots of water — my skin looks and feels older when I don’t have enough water — or when I have a good cry (like the other night after the Ravens lost!). My downfalls are coffee, red wine, and chocolate… I cant resist them. I do regret spending so much time in the sun when I was younger, though.
Slow living is about simplicity, beauty, staying connected, and not rushing through life all the time. How do you incorporate these ideals into your life?
I’m a very simple person — a very blessed simple person — so I appreciate the goodness of life. I move at my own pace and don’t compete with others but try to embrace them. I’m a very spiritual person and stay connected within. Remembering to give thanks every day is important to me. Whatever I get done in a day is perfect, and I don’t put time frames or restrictions on my life.
What is your best tip for living well?
Living well is in the mind and then translates to the body, so keeping a healthy mind and body is very important. Without good health, nothing is fun. Eating healthy is extremely important, as is laughter and happy memories. Beauty happens naturally if you take care of yourself. Live life as if there’s no tomorrow — use your good dishes, good glasses, and say “I love you” every day, because there may not be a tomorrow. All we have is the moment, really.
What drives you and what relaxes you?
Having a great family drives me. Creating new ideas drives me. My husband and I are both entrepreneurs, and we can come up with some ridiculously crazy and wonderful ideas at any moment! What relaxes me: having my team win!, a healthy family, spa treatments, being with best friends, and looking forward to family events.
What is your greatest challenge?
Remaining focused and giving thanks no matter what.
Your guilty pleasure is…
…enjoying a great massage treatment with no care in the world except to receive. (I was a massage therapist for more than 10 years.) Traveling for fun is also such a pleasure, with quiet beaches and a great glass of wine in hand…
If you could speak to your 25-year-old self, what would you say?
I’d say, you’re not as old as you think you are, and you can do anything. Don’t be so serious. Family is super important, so cherish it while it’s here. Forgive all.
You have a free Sunday afternoon. How do you spend it?
In fall and winter: Brunch, football, and dinner. In spring: brunch, relaxation, and dinner. In summer: brunch, beach, and dinner. Sundays are always about nothing and everything!
What do you love best about your life right now?
I love that I have lots of joy and don’t fear anything at this moment. I also have someone to share my joy with, and that makes it even better. I love knowing every one close to me is healthy, and I pray for this every day.
Thank you, Theresa, for sharing a little of your life with us!
(SoBotanical’s new website is under development and will be ready this spring.)
Images: 1 & 2 by Zoe Saint-Paul, 3 & 4 from Theresa Cangialosi