daily gratitude – grief

**I was going through my drafts and found this. I would have written this about 2yrs after my mom passed. It’s been 4yrs now but I can say, the sentiments remain the same. **

I was nominated on facebook to share 3 things I’m grateful for, over 5 days. I accepted the challenge and realized I enjoyed it so much that I decided to continue. Because I know there are so many who have also walked the path of grief I wanted to share today’s daily gratitude:

Grief is messy business. Mostly because there is no one right way to get to other side of it. It’s a strict teacher that does not waiver. You can hide, duck and even run…but this is a seasoned teacher who knows all the tricks. So while I resisted with tantrums and mental shutdowns – doing my best to avoid the lessons and realities of what is, she stood strong.

Thank you Grief for waiting for me. Thank you tears for being the rain that watered the seeds of hope. Thank you silence that let me hear the whispers within. Thank you spirit for guiding me when there was no path. Thank you loneliness for making me look up – and feeling His love in the embrace of those that love me here.
Today I am thankful that I was given the chance to walk some of my most dark days and felt some of the most heart-wrenching heart ache that I wasn’t expecting and didn’t know how to handle. I’m thankful for a loving God who was willing to risk losing me to the darkness of anger and sadness for the chance to hold me fully, and have the ability to enter a new softened heart, ready to do the hard work of being a light of love in this world.

I’m thankful (now) that grief knocked me on my a$$ over and over the last two years. I’m thankful for the grace of Life that picked me up each time. I learned to be stronger, smarter and hopefully better.
Grief is messy business for sure and while I don’t tend to like mess – for me it was where I found the deepest of treasures. Myself.

New tears

“It’s strange that we would have a 16yr old daughter this year…”
“yeah.”

Tears well up and I already know his are the same.
“We should deal with her plot…not sure what you need to do to….”
“yeah…I have no idea what’s involved…”

Quiet fills the space. Who knew soft tears could be so loud, no words are needed.

At 23 and 26yrs old, which today literally seems like someone else’s life it feels so long ago, we had no idea where life would lead us. We had little to no advice offered in terms of making huge decisions about burial choices and the future. How could we have known that less than 2yrs later we would move to the other side of the country never to return.

I haven’t cried about Emma in a sad way for almost 6yrs. The first 10yrs were a normal roller-coaster of grief turned sadness that ended with a full out emotional meltdown that lasted close to a year. Desperately trying to avoid embracing the very human struggles of accepting the illogical events that happen in life – I had to literally fall to my knees and say out loud:

“why me, why her, why us….why?”

In fetal position sobbing, a concerned husband tending my rawness as best he could with the only answer there was:

“I don’t know….”

I cried all my whys and then, I let go.

I had always seen Emma and her life as something to celebrate and be thankful for as any of our other children. I found it amazing and fascinating that a person could live out their purpose in 15 short days. After I finished my crying of that time and particular day of asking my “whys” and letting go of them, I stop crying. My feelings of celebration, gratitude and peace only grew stronger and deeper as the days, months and years have passed. I haven’t tried to not cry, there have just not been any tears to cry.

The moment in the car a few days ago is really a culmination of thankfulness, actualizing resilience and sadness from a mother’s heart who wonders what that 16yr old might have looked like, been like or could have been, and more than anything the tears that sat at the edge of my eye lids were tears for a young girl, so much stronger than she would ever understand and feeling proud that both her and I were, still trying, still here.

In the last few years I have learned a few things about tears.

Tears are a signal that we are growing, changing and expanding. In all their forms, they water the very places that are making us more courageous, stronger, sweeter, more compassionate, more whole, resolved and the most important, more loving. They are an opportunity to stay open, clean and offer reflection. In this way, they are essentially watering our inner gardens as we tend them with the activity and learning of life.

As gentle gardeners, we pull the thoughts that longer serve us, add inspiration to encourage juicy growth and learning, and place ourselves in the area that offers the most Light. The Brightness that divinely nourishes the shoots of possibility and effort. It penetrates the dark soils where new seeds are planted, waiting patiently for the perfect mix of tears and Light to break new ground.

In the past these new tears would have seemed annoying to me. A sign of weakness and the inability to “move on”. I would have worried ‘here we go again…’ and would have started looking for the storm of emotion on the horizon. But that day in the car, I embraced them and almost felt happy to feel them again. Instead of annoyance, I almost felt excitement in wondering what am I going to learn from this new growing season.

These new tears, regardless of how many, are here to help my gardens grow and as an avid life gardener, I welcome them to water both the hidden seeds I have yet to know and the growing sprouts of life – this my friends, is reason to buy rain boots.

Faithfully,
S. xo

Status

superhero status

If you find yourself feeling bad about your parenting:

Remember all the way back to the time when you thought that your parent(s) were the smartest, strongest, can do anything person/people – the superhero(s) of your world. Honestly, how did they make the perfect hop scotch every. single. time?
Now think about how old you were and how old they would have been.

See. Now you are the superhero. You are doing just fine and your kids will be fine too. (just like you right? 😉 ) Go save your world!

xo

who we are teaches

I have a friend who was injured a few weeks ago at a competition. There is a possibility that her knee may never fully recover, meaning she would not be able to perform at that level again. There is a lot of uncertainty at the moment and the fear of losing something she loves, her sport to start.

As a mother she is struggling to wade through her emotions with her two young daughters watching on. Intuitively she knows she needs to let her emotions flow but fear grips her as she sees the glances and their own tears when she cries and hits the walls of anger. She wants to protect them and be an example of strength and resilience.

Being a woman and mother today is difficult. You would think it would be easier with technology and the ability to connect – but it seems that instead of being an opportunity to share and release, it offers the spotlight to compare ourselves and worse, judge ourselves.

In an attempt to calm some of her fears I shared with her that after my mom passed away in 2012, I cried everyday. I cried (what felt like) all day. I just cried. I would sit with my roll of toilet paper and just sob. Sometimes, my eyes closed, trying to take deep breaths to attempt to create a dam so I could have some relief, the tears fell like a faucet you didn’t quite turn all the way off, slow and steady. My face burned.
I remember talking with someone and saying “I’m just crying…what is going to happen to my kids?”

What I have always believed and over the last few years have learned is that our children learn the most from us when we are brave enough to be authentically ourselves. Learning doesn’t come from what we know – that’s why it’s called learning. Learning comes from taking a step into a space of unknown and being willing to be open and sponge like – absorbing new ideas, information and lessons that can potentially help us.

I want my kids to be learners and seekers. I want them to be ok with things they don’t know, and to have courage to admit that they need help. I want them to know that learning isn’t always pretty. Sometimes it can look beautiful and fun, full of excitement and joy. But then there is learning that is difficult and painful, doesn’t feel worth it or worth the discomfort. There is learning that is often far from your comfort zone. Sometimes so far, you don’t know if you will make it back.

Being willing to go down these paths of growth and learning requires both courage and faith. Courage in yourself and faith in what you have already built as a foundation within your children. Trust that, no matter what the outcome – there is opportunity, for both of you.

I encouraged her to just be honest with the girls. It’s what I have done with my kids. It’s not an unusual thing for my kids to hear a version of the following:

“I’m ok. I’m just sad.”
“I’m really sorry, I want to (insert activity) but I really need to rest.”
“You know when I said (insert angry words), I was really upset and should have taken some time before I talked with you. I’m really sorry, it’s not ok for anyone to talk to you that way. Can we talk about it now and maybe I can explain?”

My goal is to be my best as much of the time as I can while I weave in honoring myself and my needs and embracing who I am. And who I am is human who is flawed and growing. I am a woman with a story that is unfolding over time. That doesn’t stop because I have children. It just means they are now part of my story.

And it is my hope that moving toward being more of myself and more authentic with them I can teach them the following:
I want to show them that the label ‘parent’ should be taken seriously and responsibly but isn’t another way of saying ‘I know everything and make no mistakes’ – because then we never end the epidemic of perfectionism, judgement and lack of self forgiveness.
I don’t want them to fear the very emotions that create parts of  life; sadness, anger, frustration and disappointment. I want them to feel fully so they can use those to propel themselves toward happiness, lessons, solutions and new opportunities. When we try to bypass what is perceived as negative, we often bypass what it was trying to teach us and more importantly, what it is trying to give us.
And most of all, I want them to love their families fiercely and I know that the only way they will be able to do that fully is by deeply loving and embracing themselves, their needs and desires, within the confines of taking care of everyone else.

I tried to convey this to my friend; when we are fully ourselves, living authentically – in both the joy and the sorrow is when we likely will teach our children the very most important lesson of all:

To be that themselves.

the switch – essential oils

I’ve been waiting a long time to write this. I have thought about it a lot over the years but for one reason or another the time never seemed right. Mostly because I do my best to avoid contributing to conflict and there is never a good way to break bad news. I have no desire to engage in debate, only to share my personal experience.

I have been using essential oils as our main go to “medicine” (my word not theirs) for the last 14yrs. We have been fortunate to have been able to avoid taking any antibiotics, and our children had a good run of avoiding all over the counter drugs till about 4yrs ago. Even so, I believe that two of our kids have had a total of 2 doses of over the counter meds in total.
I believe we have been able to do this because of our lifestyle choices, making whole food nutrition the foundation of our health and then supporting our bodies with a good multivitamin, regular vitamin C and not only, but mainly our oils.

I started this natural health journey with Young Living and I was a consultant with them for 7yrs. Here is why I left:

The culture of the company:
Right from the very beginning I did not like the vibe and the “let’s help spread Gary’s message”. I appreciated that he wanted to help people with the oils but it just rubbed me the wrong way. I had my own message, I had no desire to spread his. Saying that, I knew I could ignore it for the most part and as a consumer wanted to get the best product I could. Also note that essential oils were not all the rage as they are today and the ones available in grocery or health food stores smelled bad, some of them had alcohol listed on the label and a few made me break out in hives right there in the store as I was testing them. So, when I say I wanted the best product, I did the best due diligence at the time.

The culture of a company beginning with it’s founder and leader to it’s employees and customers are important to me, especially if I am representing them in some capacity.
I don’t say this lightly, I felt the culture of this company to be somewhat “cult” like. And some would say that every direct sales company is the same – I would say that good company culture creates enthusiasm where the other creates a feeling of conflict. I’ll also say, that with direct sales, you get all types and unfortunately the bad apples give us all a bad name…I still think that a lot of really great products are sold via direct sales.

Unreliable results:
The first time our son had a fever after getting the YL oils, we put peppermint on his feet as was recommended. This was supposed to help bring down the temperature. It didn’t. Ever.
For seven years we used peppermint for fevers and it never once brought down fever for any of our kids.
Our children always had extremely high fevers, so I rationalized it by telling myself that at least I was supporting their bodies fighting whatever infection they were fighting and that possibly the fever would have gone higher and lasted longer without it. Of course, there was no way to know that for sure…and now I don’t actually think that is the case…it’s just what I thought at the time.

Another situation was when my son was about 4 and ended up having a small case of pneumonia. We had been putting on the oil blends to help with respiratory issues and peppermint as he had an extremely high fever – neither seemed to make any difference. In a situation like this one, I would never expect the oils to “cure” with one application but I would expect to see (now) a temporary decrease in temperature, a decrease in severity and length of coughing and the ability to breathe better for a short time. None of this happened.

Because of these unreliable results it made it difficult to share with confidence because I really didn’t know if it would work or not and my credibility was already being questioned by my friends with raised eyebrows.

I want to make it clear that I was 100% invested in this company. I was on a monthly order and continued to use oils right up till I made the switch. I even went to Cancun for one of their educational conferences and wrote Gary a very personal letter which he read to the entire group. There were things I did like about the company and learned a lot about health in general but then there would always be these moments when it just didn’t feel right. Like at this event in Cancun when he said:

“We aren’t on US soil so how about we do some diagnosing and prescribing”

and went on to listen to ailments people had and offered them an “oil prescription”. In my opinion, this was arrogant and contributed to this culture of “we know better and don’t want to follow the rules”.
The fact is, even though I did have inner question marks and things I didn’t always agree with – they were at the time, what I felt were the best oils I could find and use.

The switch:
My aunt who was also a YL consultant let me know that she would be switching to a new oil company. I trusted her judgement, she was much more involved with YL than I was and without hesitation I told her to let me know when it would be available – I would make the switch also. I knew little to nothing except that several old YL staff members were founding it. That in itself answered a lot of question marks. It was very common for a very prominent person in the company to just disappear and never be spoken of again. David Sterling and Dr. Hill were in this category.

My first days with DT:
The first thing I noticed was the smell of the oils. There was a softness and richness that I had not experienced with any other oils.
I got my oils and having only YL to compare, I’ll be honest I wasn’t expecting any better results – I believed that I had been using pure oils all along.

I was pregnant with cute kid #4 at the time and had really sore hips. I had been using oils to try and help but they did little to alleviate the pain. Once my DT oils came in, as a last ditch effort I asked hubs to try and put on some Deep Blue oil, which is a blend to help with discomfort. He did, I got up, and I looked at him with huge eyes – it’s gone, the pain is gone! I ended up using 5 or 6 bottles before she was born.
This was literally the most exciting thing ever to me and I never looked back. I knew from that experience that I was working with something very different and that has not changed in the 7yrs that I have been a consultant. I can say that I confidently recommend oils now without hesitation for common things like coughs, fevers, areas that are experiencing discomfort and everyday non chronic emotional issues. (Our emotional oils are da-bomb!)

I’m a mom and really just an average consumer like anyone else. I have limited time, limited cash and my overall desire is to get the best product available. I have been living this more natural lifestyle for over a decade – people ask for my opinion and I want to feel good about what I recommend. I would never say that DT are the only pure oils, that is ridiculous. And I am not shy to say to anyone that if I found better oils that were more effective than what I am currently using, I would switch in a heartbeat. My intention is to use the best product and my intention today was to offer my experience using both. Even if I had filled this post with a ton of “facts” and links we all know that you can find anything to support your position – so that doesn’t seem like a good use of my limited time or yours.

This morning I saw this petition on facebook. This is not the first whisperings I have heard that indeed YL oils are not necessarily what they promote them to be. It confirms the discrepancies I found when using them. It is disappointing, and shows the need for the industry to become more transparent and offer true regulations in testing to create a culture of expected transparency.

I do feel DT is trying to offer consumers that information having world renown Dr. Pappas testing our oils. I have spent quite a bit of time recently reading and watching information from Dr. Pappas regarding all different types of essential oils and companies and have appreciated his integrity and desire to offer the average consumer tools to identify oils that are or are not what their labels claim. You can follow him on facebook. **Please note that Dr. Pappas does not endorse any company and is in no way affiliated with doTERRA. His is a third party testing facility and education center.**

If you are in the space of researching oils and deciding which ones might be the best for you, I hope this helps a bit. I have tried to be honest in my experience and am happy to share if you have questions regarding my personal experience and am happy to help you get started – just contact me. I wish for you the wonderful benefits that you can experience with essential oils and hope for everyone love, joy and true wellness.

Faithfully,
S. xo

Here are some additional links you may find helpful:
How essential oils can be adulterated
doTERRA Science Blog
*I am recommending this link because it has information from many different sources not just DT*

 

 

 

 

 

beautyhacks – baby

I am in love with the new Beautycounter baby line. As a once upon a time doula, these products make me feel good and happy knowing that parents now have a viable choice in getting safe products for their babies. When we consider that the 60% of what we put on our skin is absorbed within 26 seconds – it makes sense that any parent would want effective products that are safe, as potential chemicals could affect babies much faster due to their size than for adults.

I do love when you can take a product and morph it into a variety of uses for the entire family. The new balm and baby oil will definitely be staples used in our home from now on as they both can be used in multiple ways for everyone but today we are going to focus on babies.

new-baby-bundle-collection-600-new_1

For baby

Tushy Balm
When baby’s tush needs a little tlc:

Equal parts:
Lavendar
Melaleuca
Myrrh or Sandalwood

You can make this up in different ways depending how how you want to use it. You could premix this in the baby balm to your desired consistency but once you use it once for the tushy you could not use it for any other reason as it would be unsafe. If you put this blend in a spray bottle with the baby oil you could then use it for several different things but sometimes you need more of a balm for tender tushies…but it would be easy enough to just add some baby balm separately.
The other option is to pre-mix the oils in a spare oil bottle and just add one drop to the baby balm when you use it – personally I think that is how I would use it if it were me.

Sore tummy/Colic

Equal parts:
Cardamon
Fennel
Orange

Or

Equal parts:
Roman Chamomile
Lavender
Geranium

Other oils to try: Marjoram, Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, Ginger (use cautiously at a lower ratio), Rosemary, Melissa.

Often when our babies are in distress when it comes to their tummies, we don’t always know why. You may have to try a few different oil combinations to find the right one for your baby.

Once I found a blend that worked well for my baby, I would then put the oils (about 10 drops each *except ginger which I would only put in a few*) in a 10ml rollerball and fill with the baby soothing oil. When baby is fussy, I would then just roll a bit on tummy and rub softly till absorbed. You could also use this on their feet and do soft reflexology to help sooth the tummy.

Baby-Reflex-Flat

 

Owie Mouth

Equal parts:
Roman Chamomile
Lavender

I used Roman Chamomile with one of my babies when he had a sore mouth. If you are making it, I would mix one drop of this blend with the baby oil and rub along gums.

Dry scalp

Equal parts:
Geranium
Sandalwood

A lot of babies will get scaling on their heads, a lot of people call this cradle cap. If not managed it can cause infection because the skin below cannot breathe, so while not a major problem to their health, you do want to keep it to a minimum.
Put 5-10 drops into a 10ml spray bottle and fill with baby oil. After bath time spray on head and use comb to softly lift scales – DO NOT force them up.
If you are dealing with a severe case I would add Melaleuca to your blend to help avoid infection.

Dry skin/eczema

Equal Parts:
Sandalwood
Roman Chamomile
Lavender
Helichrysum

You could do equal parts of all of these, maybe 5 drops each in a 10ml spray bottle or whatever blend you feel works best for you and spray on affected areas to relieve discomfort.
For severe cases this could also be put in the balm.
Please note that small newborn babies will sometimes have peeling skin – this is completely normal and unless they are showing discomfort I would suggest to not “treat” it. Also, newborns do not need daily baths – this will dry out their skin. When you do give a bath, using a mild soap like our gentle all over wash is ideal.

**Just a note about using essential oils. I feel it important to note that just like there are no regulations governing the cosmetic industry, there is also no regulation regarding essential oils. I feel it’s also important to note that many main steam essential oils are not pure as many of their labels claim. It’s also common for companies to include alcohol which I would never recommend to use on a baby.
If you are in doubt, please contact me and I will be happy to offer you suggestions and safe options.**

Enjoy your new baby and let me know if you try any of my baby beautyhacks! Keep an eye out on Instagram as I post photos of these hacks!

With Joy,
S. xo

 

Quote

inspirational Mondays

 

What I’ve come to know is that in life,

it’s not always the questions we ask,

but rather our ability to hear the answers that truly enriches our understanding.

Never, never stop learning.

~Lester Holt