Month: June 2014

Getting Oily

From the desk of: Erin

 

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Regarding “natural” living, I’d like to think of myself as “practically and skeptically crunchy”. For instance, I see the benefit of whole, unprocessed foods, but I’m not entirely sure that pumping supplements in addition to eating real food is the way to go. We diaper(ed) our babies in cloth diapers, but for bedtime they wear/wore  disposable because they stay drier. And I’m not anti-medicine, but if there is an alternative that might be cheaper, safer, and has been used successfully for centuries, I’ll give it a try.

I recently took up an interest in essential oils and aromatherapy. I follow a number of blogs about clean/green/natural living and those that use essential oils are kind of evangelical about it. Eventually, their sermons wiggled into my brain and I decided to try some out for myself. If it doesn’t do harm, why not?

I didn’t want to drop a boatload of money on this venture, so I limited myself to four oils and a diffuser (bought for a discount on Groupon). After doing some reading and inquiring on an essential oil forum, I decided on lavender, lemon, tea tree, and a “Germ Fighter” blend that includes clove, cinnamon, rosemary, lemon and eucalyptus. I also happened to have rosemary, lemongrass, eucalyptus, sweet orange and peppermint on hand from some attempts at cold remedies, homemade cleaning recipes, and bug spray.

So it has been two weeks and a whole lot of learning and reading. Here is what I have tried and the results.

  • FOR CONGESTION – BigKid has allergies and the congestion is back. I diffused eucalyptus and tea tree oil.  A few hours after each diffusion, his congestion decreased noticeably. After 24-hours (4 diffusion sessions), he could breathe easily through his nose, though he wasn’t entirely cleared up. I can probably couple this with something topical, but I am hesitant to use topical treatments often.  FINAL VERDICT: I think that he would still be stuffy otherwise. I say yes, this worked.
  • FOR RUNNY NOSE – Babe is teething hard and drippy, drippy, drippy. I mixed 1 drop each of lemon, lavender, and tea tree oil into 3 Tbs. coconut oil and have been rubbing it on his back twice a day. I would say the drips go away within an hour, but come back a few hours later. Maybe the snot-volume is less? In 24-hours, he is not nearly as runny as before. FINAL VERDICT: Maybe. I’ll definitely keep trying this.
  • FOR TEETHING – Teething!!! ARGH!! This guy suffers big time. I can’t find the recipe for a homemade teething balm that I used, but this is similar. Instead of clove oil, I used “Germ Fighter”. When he gets extra chewy on his hands, I rub some of this on his gums. I try to do it only once a day. It really seems to bring him relief, until the next day, that is. FINAL VERDICT: Works.
  • ACNE – I was blessed with two lovely zits on my forehead, just millimeters away from each other. Though I would have preferred to not have any zits, these couldn’t have been better placed for a more scientific approach to experimentation. They were so close that they would be treated the same way and they showed up on the same day. I rubbed one drop of undiluted tea tree oil on one and left the other alone. A week later, they were both diminished and still matched each other. FINAL VERDICT: This did not work.
  • BEDTIME CALM – I diffused lavender in BigKid’s bedroom during our bedtime routine to help calm him. He seemed to be staying up later and playing more actively than before. I went to an essential oil forum and asked about kids having an opposite reaction to lavender and a handful of people said that they had a kid who was energized by the scent (while a second kid in the same family was not). Interesting. So I stopped diffusing lavender and suddenly he was going to sleep an hour earlier. I was running the diffuser in our room at night, too. I’m not sure we slept better, but I haven’t done it consistently enough to know for sure.  FINAL VERDICT: NOT FOR THE KID. Maybe try again for the adults.
  • MOSQUITO BITES – We recently went camping and came back home with a healthy dose of mosquito bites. I rubbed lavender on them instead of suffering through the itch. Usually, for all of us, the itch seemed to go away within minutes and seemed to last fewer days. FINAL VERDICT: Do it again.
  • FOCUS – Currently, I am diffusing orange and lemon in the office for some focus and maybe a little energy. I have finished this post without too much mental effort, but I am still looking forward to a nap. FINAL VERDICT: Maybe try again? Maybe try a different oil?

It has only been two weeks, but I”m kind of liking the experimentation. So far, many things have worked. I’ll continue to learn and read and maybe report back.

Have you ever used EOs? What for? Did they work?

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Yuck!

From the desk of: Erin

 

Regarding that 30-day “ab challenge“?

1. I’m six days in and I am learning I really dislike sit-ups. Bring on more planks, please.

2. I seriously doubt my abs will look all sweaty and rock hard like the photo on the website. They should use photos of people who started the challenge from scratch. Talk about unrealistic expectations.

That is all.

JUNE: Take Time Off!

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Welcome to June, dear readers!  I hope this glorious Spring is treating you well: filling your hearts, lifting your spirits and warming your cockles.  Here in the American South we’ve been having a beautifully drawn-out sweet and temperate Springtime.  What good fortune we are having!

 

The month of May found me cultivating my meditation practice, as you may recall.  This resolution – while perennially difficult for me – has proven to be much more attainable than expected.  I have managed to sit for my practice most days this month.  And I’ve not really felt guilty about the days I didn’t sit, but I did, strangely, miss the experience on those days.  I have discovered that evening meditations work best for me right now.  In the past, I always tried to practice meditation in the mornings after waking, and with mixed results.  However, meditating just before bed is proving a welcomed addition to my nighttime routine.  It allows me to soften my mind and body in preparation for sleep.

 

In an effort to keep myself from getting too “thinky” about the practice, I have only been asking myself to sit down and count out 50 breaths.  I have a pretty slow breathing pace, so this allows me a decent amount of time ‘on the cushion’ for my practice.  I do hope to eventually add more breaths/time, but for now, this seems to be sufficient for me to feel benefits and to still feel like I can sustain the practice without too much effort.

 

I have noticed that I am drifting into sleep much more easily and comfortably.  (However, my sleep, once I’m in it, is still fraught with physical discomfort and crazy dreaming.  Will have to figure out how to address that at some point, but that will have to be left for another blog entry.)  I have also been experiencing some pretty auspicious emotional shifts happening.  I don’t attribute these solely to the meditation practice, but I think the practice is definitely playing an important role.  I will talk more on that later.  I’m also feeling like I have a much calmer internal sea; much more equanimity.  There may be some emotional debris bubbling to my surface, but deep underneath all that is a new stillness and serenity.  It sounds a little hokey when I type it out here, but I don’t know any other way to describe it.  I believe those moments I’m spending in mediation are directly contributing to the well of contentment, and that is motivation enough to keep up the practice.

 

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June’s resolution is one that I feel would be well applied to the lives of most modern Americans:  Give myself days off of work and don’t work on those days.  Sounds simple enough, sure.  But, in practice, this can be a nearly impossible feat for many of us.  In fact, the timing couldn’t be better on this resolution.  Just last month I made the decision to add an extra day of work to my schedule.  I was already scheduled to what I believed to be my maximum number of client hours in a week, but I was feeling concerned about money (thank you, IRS), so thought I’d try working a little more.  Surely I’d be able to do that – work one more day a week … just for a few hours … no problem!  Well, as it turns out, it is a problem.  So, a few days ago, I changed my schedule back to the old one.  The moment I did that I felt a weight lift from my heart and from my shoulder girdle.  Whew!  Just adding that one day a week to work had increased my stress levels, dramatically decreased the quality of my sleep, affected my ability to make the best food choices for myself, roused an old muscular injury (which is still not ironed out), and made me feel so exhausted and overwhelmed that I found myself just wanting to crawl into a hole to get away from it all.  No good!  And … No more!  I’m back on a schedule that my body, mind and spirit can handle.  And, in the spirit of June’s resolution, I am not going to plan too much drudgery on the days when I’m not at my job.  Instead, I’m going to do things that make me feel good.  Brilliant plan!  I encourage you to try it, too!  I’d love to hear how it goes for you.

 

Well, that’s it for now, superstars!  Today’s a day off for me, so I’m going to wrap this up and go enjoy the rest of this beautiful Sunday afternoon.  I hope you do, too!

 

xoxo,

melanie