Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Complex Meters

Common wisdom dictates that the first rule of not going crazy is never to google your cardiac symptoms. Numerous tests have shown my arrhythmia to be benign, so I've pretty much put it out of my mind, except when playing my flute. That little stutter every fourth beat always throws me off if I'm not paying attention. My heart beats to a different drum, but I'm finally learning how to navigate the poly-rhythms.

Living well with chronic illness is, to a large extent, a mental game. No amount of positive thinking will give us a normal life, but sometimes mindset can make the difference between being stuck in bed all day, and being stuck in bed most of the day. We take what we can get, and we live with very little margin for error.

Once while I was in high school, maybe six months after the onset of my symptoms, I woke up feeling unexpectedly wonderful. My mind was clear, my joints only ached a little bit, and I had more energy that I'd had in weeks. It was glorious. I decided to surprise my mother by secretly getting all sorts of homeschool work done, while pretending to be as incapacitated as the day before. It backfired horribly. Feigned lethargy quickly became very real, and by afternoon I had relapsed altogether.

It's a lesson I've taken to heart. I have to make the most of every good moment, gathering enough joy to propel me forward, postpone the next relapse, hopefully make it as mild as possible. Keeping my morale up is no small feat when my whole body hurts, and this strategy isn't without its drawbacks; invisible illnesses are even harder to explain when you smile all the time. It's better than the alternative, though, so I work hard to keep my chin up. A joyful heart makes good medicine indeed.

Most of my symptoms, I've googled like crazy, as one does when the battery of blood tests fails to produce answers. After all these years, my sister finally has a diagnosis, and it appears to be genetic, so I'm praying that I will soon be able to get some medical help that actually helps. In the mean time, I'm always looking for ways to maximize my health on my own. I play around with sundry herbs, craft my own antibiotics out of kitchen staples, and make music like my life depends on it.

Last week I finally broke down and googled my arrhythmia. It turns out that in cardiac terms, "benign" simply means that I'm not about to drop dead. It doesn't mean I won't be dizzy and out of breath all the time. All those years of anxiously wondering why the blood work never gave any answers, and what if this was all in my head and I was going crazy... well, this might have been good to know.

I'd thought that if I could just avoid thinking about my heart, I could protect myself from anxiety. Funny how that backfired.

I'm learning once again that the antidote to fear is always joy, never ignorance. You have to face the struggle head-on, or it will constantly ambush you, but then you also have to seek joy out, treat it as if it's more real than pain.

Which it is.

And now I think I'll practice my flute. Today's challenge is to turn my scales into something beautiful enough to stay on beat.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Freedom and Flow

The deeper I dive into this network marketing gig, the more excited I get.

It's work. HARD work. But it's good work, because I get to exactly the work I was made to do.

The work I do looks different from the work that that the other amazing people in my organization do. They help make my work profitable, I help make their work profitable, and when we work together, each of us can work in our strengths.

Some are constantly meeting new people and introducing them to our products, while others make sure that everyone has amazing customer support, and nobody falls through the cracks. As for me, dialogue is my big thing, and a rousing Facebook discussion is my happy place. Somebody pinch me, I'm building my career around that.

It's a gorgeous thing to watch people finding their places, supporting one another out of their strengths. The cycle of exchange is mesmerizing, almost magical.

And really, this is what marketing is all about, isn't it? Bringing people together, facilitating the kind of mutually beneficial exchanges that allow everyone to work in their own strengths.

It smells like justice, and I'm so glad that I get to be a part of this ecosystem.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Stress Away

Ask anyone what their favorite oil in the starter kit is, and it's usually Stress Away! This blend smells amazing and does what it says :) I love keeping this one in my pocket, to help me respond with peace and intentionality whenever stressful situations arise.

This blend has made a big difference for our family, helping everyone get along, particularly during the "crazy hour" right before supper. Copaiba provides the main magic in this blend, and Ocotea, Vanilla, and Lavender work together to make it even more relaxing. Cedarwood adds a warm fuzzy note, encouraging family closeness and affection, and Lime clears the air, making it easy to let go of negative thoughts.


Ahhh, Thieves! Crazy name, amazingly versatile oil.

This lovely blend of clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary was inspired by an old legend about four 15th century French thieves who... well, you can look it up the rest.

Point is, this stuff smells like Christmas, and it supports the immune system beautifully.

I run this in the diffuser a LOT, especially during the winter months. Breathing in its spicy goodness helps us all a lot.

It's also really great for home cleaning. I've added Thieves to my DIY cleaning sprays, but I like the Thieves Household Cleaner better now. Either way, it's a wonderful thing when your cleaning products support your health instead of making you sick!

Thieves is a little on the spicy side, so it's important to dilute it before applying it to your skin. I like making up roller bottles with a few drops of thieves and some​ liquid coconut oil. That way it's easily on hand when we need it.

I find the best results when we roll it on our feet and spines. Honestly, I have no idea why it would matter, but putting it on my chest doesn't give me nearly as good results as when I apply it to my feet and spine.

And I love to make a throat-soothing drink by mixing a drop of Thieves Vitality in some honey, and adding hot water. Yum!

Have you tried Thieves?

How do you use it?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

I'm sitting outside, barefoot, directly on the ground, gazing up on the sunlit leaves. It is just what I need, body and soul.

There are dozens of theories why this would would be so, and most of them sound a little nutty.

 I recently read a study supposedly suggesting that rats are more emotionally resilient when exposed to green lights. Since the rats in the control group were kept in total darkness, the whole thing sounds rather fishy to me.

I don't know.

All I know is what poets, sages, and sensible grandmothers have known for ages: that when I am barefoot, pain ebbs out of my body, and when I am surrounded by glowing leaves, my soul is restored.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Joy is all around us... but we have to choose it. We have to seek it out. Joy will never force itself upon us--that is against it's nature.

Pain has no such inhibitions, and will push joy out of your consciousness if you let it.

Don't let it.

Joy is quiet, but it is there, embedded in all things beautiful. And beauty is as real and ubiquitous as the laws of gravity and light.

Beauty is the name mathematics goes by when we feel it rather than think about it. Everywhere that there is matter, there is math, and everywhere that there is mathematical order, there is beauty.

Beauty is everywhere, and your life depends upon it; the graceful dance of respiration, your pulsing blood, the electric poetry of your nerves.

You don't have to notice it. It will never force you to pay attention to it. But it is always there. You wouldn't be here otherwise.

Even pain has it's own peculiar beauty.

Beauty has it's own peculiar pain, too. You cannot escape pain, and unlike joy, you can't always ignore it either. But you can fight for joy and beauty anyway.

Pain is a much smaller part of my life now than it has been in the past. I've been getting to knows​ my body better, and finding lots of self-care techniques. With the right nutrition, my joints don't dislocate nearly as often, and when they do, I have a toolkit full of ways to deal with it.

But last night I didn't get nearly enough sleep. My feet hurt, my knees hurt, my elbows hurt, my fingers hurt, and my neck hurts. I ought to be grateful that I don't have any ribs out, but pain sucks even when it's less pain than you're used to.

So I'm fighting hard for joy. Here are a few things that help:


Listening to other people's music helps some, and so does making my own music. The real magic is in making music together with others. I'm so glad my flute choir rehearses to tonight. I need it.

Prayer is in this category, too. It is a powerful thing to enter into the song of the angel choirs. My voice is fumbling and often cracked and out of tune, but they are very gracious, and welcoming to beginners.

(Come to think of it, my flute choir is rather like that too, welcoming and supporting and challenging musicians of all levels of ability. If you are in the DFW area and you play the flute, you should NOT miss out on the opportunity to play with us!)

---Light. We don't always have much control over how much light there is around us, but we do have control over how much we pay attention to it. We humans can't gaze straight at the sun without getting burned, but plants feast voraciously upon the light, and over it up to us in a form that can nourish us, body and soul. Every sundrenched leaf, every blade of grass offers up a gift of joy. It will never force itself on you. You have to seek it out. This is pretty effortless in springtime in North Texas, but in some times and places, looking for light is arduous work. It is 100% worth it.

---Smells. What we breathe matters. A lot. If you can smell it, it's affecting your brain chemistry.

I'm sitting here peeling and eating clementines as I write, and they are so, so good. I'm confident that the part that I eat will help me soon, but the fragrant oils from the peels are naturally wafting up to my nose, making their way to my brain, and lifting my mood right now.

Fragrance is always affecting you all the time, whether you pay attention to it or not. So pay attention.

A lot of us find Young Living's Joy essential oil blend very helpful. But although I absolutely LOVE the smell when I'm happy, when I'm discouraged I find it obnoxiously over-cheerful. (Same goes for the Stress Away blend, by the way.)

Blending it with frankincense makes it wonderful though. They smell sublime together, and frankincense is the sort of smell that knows all about pain. If frankincense can make friends with joy, well... maybe I can, too.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Helping Daddy hand wash clothes is Johnny's new favorite game. Laundry has been one of the most difficult issues in transitioning to the RV life, but we're finding our rhythm. Hand washing a few essentials allows us to go a little longer between trips to the laundromat, and saves us time overall. And baby gets some water play, which he thinks is the best thing ever.

There's no way we would do this with any other laundry detergent, but I feel better about these ingredients than the ingredients in most baby shampoos!

When we first got the Thieves laundry detergent free as part of a promotional, Andrew was hesitant about using it-- he definitely didn't want any strong smells lingering on his clothes, even something so pleasant as Thieves!! But once the clothes are dry, there isn't even a noticeable fragrance, just nice clean clothes without any itchy chemical residue.

The Young Living lifestyle isn't necessarily involve more fragrance. We're slowly getting rid of all the sythetic fragrances that have been threatening our health, and replacing them with products that smell good SAFELY.