Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The smell of getting stuff done

We're both of us writing right now, my son and I, and we're helping each other stay focused and on task. He and I both tend to notice how everything is connected to everything else, which is a blessing and a curse all at once. Everything is full of wonder, and everything is a distraction; we have lots to write about, and writing is hard.

Before we got started we each put a drop of Clarity on our palms, and breathed deeply, to help us remember how to focus. This is what it smells like to take hold of our thoughts, to channel our creative energies toward our respective goals.  Crisp as basil, sharp as rosemary, and serene as jasmine. It's the beautiful fragrance of getting stuff done.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Postpartum Emotions

Integrating a new baby into the family is a big deal, both logistically and emotionally. It's a huge transition, and it always seems to happen at the same time as I'm recovering from childbirth. Funny thing about that. 😉

On days when I'm proactive about supporting my own emotions, I'm much better able help the whole family feel loved and nurtured during this time. On days when I forget... well, I'm learning to remember. Case in point: I didn't remember to turn on the diffuser this morning until I caught myself getting a little too worked up over a pair of jeans that didn't make it into the laundry. That was my cue!

All in all, the newborn phase has more sweetness and less overwhelm this time around. Part of this has to do with spending lots of time out in nature, part of it has to do with having wonderful teenagers to help out, and part of this has to do with oils.

Here's what I've been using:

Joy--this is what I've been diffusing in the mornings, to get the day off to a positive start. Makes a HUGE difference. The kids all love it, too, so that's win. Right now I'm diffusing  the blend as-is, but sometimes I add lemon or frankincense.

Progessence Plus--I've been kind of slow in jumping on the Pro+ bandwagon, but oh my gracious, I'm on it now! I've been putting two drops on my neck every morning​ since the baby was born, and if I skip a day, I definitely notice!

Clary Sage--while I was in labor, I used Sclaressence and Dragon Time, both of which are gorgeous  blends featuring clary sage. After Sibyl was born, though, I switched over to using straight clary sage, because I didn't want to risk decreasing my milk supply with the peppermint in Sclaressence, nor did I want to risk oversupply with the fennel in Dragon Time.

In those first few days while my tummy was shrinking back down (always an uncomfortable process, and this time almost as bad as labor!!) I rubbed Clary Sage onto my belly, and found it deeply soothing. Now I'm just putting a drop in my palm and breathing it in whenever I need a little more calm. I'm also putting it on the back of my neck to help with tension. Seriously, wintergreen has nothing on this amazing oil, and clary sage also smells absolutely gorgeous. It's quickly becoming a new favorite of mine!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Soothing Spray

Little Sibyl is one week old now, and she's an absolute dream, bright-eyed and snuggly and perfect. Birth was hard, but she is worth it, and while she snuggles sweetly in my arms, I thought I'd share a little recipe that's making life easier right now.

In preparing for the birth I put together a soothing spray:

* 5 drops copaiba essential oil
* 5 drops frankincense essential oil
* 5 drops helichrysum essential oil
* 2 Tbsp. V6 vegetable oil blend
* 2 Tbsp. witch hazel
*1/4 cup water

This spray was an absolute lifesaver in helping to prep my pelvic floor for birth, and it's very soothing now as I recover. It's also coming in handy for the sundry outdoor irritations that inevitably happen when the kids play in the woods all day, so I'm pretty sure it's going to be a staple in our home from now on. It doesn't hurt that it smells divine!

Frankincense and copaiba are some of my favorite oils to use on a daily basis. Helichrysum is something of an investment oil, but it is worth every penny--this is the oil that first convinced my skeptical husband that there's a lot more going on than just the placebo effect! I definitely wanted to make use of powerful oil in preparing for and recovering from birth, but for everyday use I may experiment with replacing some or all of the helichrysum with a more affordable oil such as lavender.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Little Magic

“Maybe, maybe not. Or maybe I’d cause a flood and people would be killed. That’s the problem with big magic. I only do little magic. Good cooking, my curing soup, my Tonic.”

Ella Enchanted is one of my very favorite read-alouds. It's light and fun and easily accessible, but each reading leaves me with something to ponder. I guess you could say that it is little magic, and in that regard, it makes a good case for itself.

Sometimes we need big magic, though.

Fourteen years ago, when I was pregnant with the twins, I had horrible nausea. It was so bad that I couldn't even hold down water, let alone enough nourishment to sustain two growing little ones. Without some extraordinary intervention, we would have been done for.

My doctor gave me an incredible potion that could completely stop nausea in a matter of minutes. It was big magic, and I'm grateful for it.

But big magic can have unintended consequences. Zofran helped me in big ways, but the side effects can be ghastly. When I was pregnant with the twins, it was too expensive to use except in emergencies. I had a sample pack of ten blissfully nausea-free days which I carefully hoarded and rationed. In a later pregnancy, however, the price had gone down enough that I could afford to be nausea-free every day. It was wonderful at first, but after a few weeks of consecutive use my digestive system shut down. It was a nightmare, and I regretted it for months after.

I'm so glad that there was big magic available when I was in danger of dehydration, but for lesser nausea, it did more harm than good.

Better stick to little magic whenever possible. Pressure to certain spots on my wrists, visualisation exercises, little tweaks to what I ate and when. Avoiding the many smells that made it worse and seeking out the few that helped. Ordinary, everyday safe things, strategically planned out to help me manage. It wasn't an instant fix like Zofran, and little magic wasn't enough all the time. Still, the little things added up, and without any awful side effects.

Big magic is sometimes necessary, but it is never entirely safe, and it requires a good deal of specialized knowledge to control.

Most of the time, we really just need some little magic. The tiny changes that send out big ripples.


Fresh air.

Lots of good clean water.

Is your perfume making you sick? Or helping you stay emotionally balanced? (It might be doing either one!)

Do you have enough beauty in your life?

Do you need a hug?

What are you cleaning with?

Are you eating good wholesome food, and in the proportions that make you feel good?

Even when big magic is necessary, it's important to tend to the little magic in our lives.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Essential oils all around

Even if you're brand new to the concept of essential oils, you probably have quite a bit of experience with them already. Essential oils are simply the volatile plant components that float off into the air, giving off a distinctive aroma. You could even say that essential oils ARE the aroma, since your experience of smell comes from inhaling these compounds.

If you've ever walked through an evergreen forest or smelled a rose, you've experienced their benefits aromatically, and if you've ever peeled an orange, you've absorbed its oil through your skin. At almost every meal, you are most likely ingesting the aromatic compounds from various herbs and spices.

Wherever there are plants, there are essential oils. They are a normal part of everyday life for all of us, and they are a factor in our health, whether we're paying attention to them or not.

Distilled essential oils allow us to access these fragrant compounds in a form that's convenient, shelf-stable, and easily portable. It gives us the chance to enjoy and experience the aromas of plants from all around the world. 

Generally speaking, getting these aromatic benefits in their natural state is ideal. Nothing really replaces the magic of a long walk in the woods... but by diffusing essential oils from aromatic trees, you can access many of the same benefits. It's a way to breathe in more of the joys of nature in the midst of modern life.

    Monday, October 9, 2017

    Strategic Flavors

    Ingestion is a controversial topic in aromatherapy, which is funny, because most of us ingest essential oils all the time.

    Essential oils are frequently used as flavorings in the food industry, especially in candies and sodas.

    This is obviously not a strong argument for their health benefits--although peppermint candy and cola syrup are traditional folk remedies--but it does mean that ingesting essential oils is a pretty normal thing, and as long as they are properly diluted and used in moderation, it's as risky as drinking a can of La Croix.

    Too much essential oils can be very dangerous. So can too much baking soda. But in both cases, it's pretty easy to safely incorporate them into your food, because unsafe amounts taste absolutely revolting. 

    As with baking soda, there's a large gray area between normal culinary amounts and poisoning, and if you're going to go there, you had better make certain that you know what you're doing. 

    But thus far, I haven't felt the need to learn how to ingest larger amounts of essential oils. I'm very happy with the results that I get when I use normal flavoring amounts, and simply deploy flavor strategically. 

    I've always enjoyed putting flavored creamers in my coffee. Now, I make my own. Copaiba is my go-to flavor; it tastes lovely and supports my body in incredible ways. Depending on how I feel, though, I sometimes switch it up and use Thieves, peppermint, or nutmeg instead. 

    When I want the health benefits of some savory oil such as oregano, I'll whip up a yummy olive-oil based dipping sauce and enjoy it with some bread. There's great power in normal everyday flavors, used strategically. It's joyful and delicious, and it's safer that way, too.

    Sunday, October 1, 2017

    Doing the things.

    Living inside this body of mine is... complicated.

    I've long since given up the search for a diagnosis, but my sister was finally diagnosed with a genetic collagen disorder that pretty much explains my whole life--the pain, the heart murmur, the gastroparesis, and even the long string of bewildered doctors.

    I'm looking forward to getting genetic testing and solid answers, but in the mean time, it doesn't make a whole lot of practical difference. There's no cure, but neither is it likely to kill me any time soon; it's just a matter of doing what I can to live the best life possible.

    And there's a LOT that I can do.

    There's no magic bullet, just a whole bunch of simple little things that add up to a big difference... as long as I actually do them.

    This year, in the spring and early summer, I felt so good that I mostly forgot that I was sick. As life got busier, I stopped focusing so intently on maintaining my health, at the same time as the ozone levels literally took the wind out of me.

    In the middle of a relapse, it can feel impossible and hopeless, but it's not.  The biggest part of the battle is remembering that I'm not really as powerless as I feel.

    So this list is mostly for me, to reference and remember. Here are some of the things that help me:

    Hydration--Water is life, but it doesn't do my body much good without adequate...

    Salt--High blood pressure runs in my family, so I grew up using salt very sparingly. My own blood pressure runs low, however, so learning to adequately salt my food has been important. When I use enough salt, I can stand up without getting dizzy, and food tastes better, too!

    Music--Listening is good, playing is better, and participating in an ensemble is best of all. Unfortunately, this is really hard to pull off when I'm sick, but whenever I'm able to, it pays off in a big way.

    Exercise--Daily life supplies opportunity for at least as much physical activity as I'm capable of. Exercise is important though, for maintaining good posture throughout the day. So that, you know, my ribs and spine stay where they're supposed to be.  I highly recommend Pain Free by Pete Egoscue. The neck pain sequence is magic. Time-consuming magic, but worth it. And when I do the exercises outdoors, it doubles as...

    Grounding--This one sounds crazy, but it makes a huge difference. The more time I spend touching the bare ground, the better I feel. I feel better after going outside barefoot for just a few minutes, and even on my worst days, an hour laying on the ground relieves 90% of my joint pain. Some people say that the Earth's mild negative charge can neutralize free radicals, others say this is crazy. All I know is that it helps me a lot.

    Kything--Okay, this one makes my obsession with grounding seem downright mainstream! You're free to believe me or not, but plants talk to me, and the more I listen, the better I feel.

    Probiotics--I had a lot of ear infections as a kid, and antibiotics did a number on my gut flora. Kefir has been life-changing for me, transforming my digestion. I got my kefir grains from a friend who got them from a friend who ordered them from www.kefirlady.com  I haven't figured out how to maintain a colony here in the RV, so I've been drinking store-bought kefir from time to time to time. I also plan to try out Life 9. I like growing my own probiotics so much, but sometimes that just isn't practical.

    Juice--even with probiotics, digestion can be pretty exhausting for me. Juices and smoothies help me get adequate nutrition without taxing my digestive system too much.

    NingXia Red--This wolfberry-based supplement is loaded with antioxidants, and I feel so much better when I have 2-4 oz. a day. Last month we had mix-up with the post office, so I've had to make do without it. NOT a fun experiment, but it's confirmed yet again that, yes, this stuff helps. A lot. (Added bonus, it's the most delicious thing I've ever tasted.)

    Copaiba--I am so grateful for this South American tree resin. I like swirling a drop in my cream before I pour my coffee.

    What's on your list? What do you do to keep yourself feeling your best? 

    (This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. None of this should be construed as medical advice, and none of these claims have been evaluated by the FDA. Except the one about Copaiba being generally recognized as safe for human consumption. My apologies to aromatherapists of the British persuasion. These are simply my personal experiences; you do you.)