Oils for Emotions & Healing 


These are a few of my “must have” oils:

Frankincense – This most precious all around go-to oil for cell renewal, brain function, anxiety, stress, depression, memory, goes into my coconut oil facial moisturizer and scrub, on my chest and neck whenever I’m dousing myself (it blends well with any other oil), and in my bedside diffuser at night. When in doubt use Frank.

Balance Blend
– I use Balance when I feel wound up, overwhelmed, unfocused, or scattered, and need to ground myself. I put a few drops in my palms, cup then over my nose and take deep breaths, then rub it on my chest and neck.

Clary Calm
– Thus clary sage blend is good for balancing your hormones and everything related to hormonal fluctuations: stress, pms, peri-menopause, cramps… I use it daily on my lower abdomen, wrists, heart, and the back of my neck on most days. 

Citrus Bliss
– This uplifting, happy, wake-up, abundance blend is like sunshine in a bottle. It goes on my wrists when I need some motivation and pep.

Ylang ylang
– My favorite scent, an exotic floral that reminds me of China Rain from the 80’s, it’s so yummy and just makes me feel happy. It’s good fir reducing anxiety and depression and goes on my wrists, neck and chest daily.

Vetiver
– For grounding, I mix a few drops in massage cream and rub it into the souls of my feet when I get into bed.

Cedar
– Cedar is grounding as well and smells like a sauna, it goes in the diffuser at night.

Lavender
– This is the oil for everything and if you only buy one oil I’d start with lavender. It’s calming and promotes restful sleep, good for your skin in general and also for bites, burns, or scrapes. It goes into my diffuser at night and into my facial products.

I hope this introduction is helpful! If you’re interested in these or any other oils please message me and I’ll hook you up ☺️

Navigating Early Sobriety

When I posted on Facebook a few weeks ago that I was celebrating my eighteenth month of sobriety I received this comment: “I’d love to get some recommendations on how you’ve done it! I always seem to go a couple weeks and then end up drinking again.”

I read it before a hike, so of course it was swirling in my head as I entered the woods. I had so much to say. First though, because she said she frequently goes a few weeks without alcohol, I answered under the assumptions that the detox /withdrawal phase wasn’t something she needed support with, but rather she was asking for help on how to make sobriety stick.

Here are some of the suggestions I gave her based on what I’ve found helpful, especially during the first 6 months. Of course I suggested she take what sounded helpful  & leave the rest. Maybe someone else reading this will find something helpful here as well:

Commit

I chose to take a 30 day break or “sobriety experiment” to see if I could stick to it, and I did. Then I stretched it to 90 days, then to 6 months, and then I knew I wanted to stay sober forever. (That doesn’t mean that I don’t take it one-day-at-a-time when necessary.) I suggest committing to at least 30 days. It takes longer than a few weeks to really feel some benefit physically, and it will give you a few chances to face some social and/or emotional challenges that will help strengthen your sobriety muscles and give you rushes of pride and confidence. It’s as simple as this: go to bed sober each night. Commit to the longest amount of time that doesn’t freak you out, while at the same time just go one day at a time, or one minute at a time if necessary. When you reach your goal set a new one.

Plan

The first day I knew it would be a challenge was about 5 days in. It was my full shift at work, I’d be getting home at 9pm, and the next day I could sleep in. I always looked forward to wine after work on these days. I was afraid I’d buckle. So I prepared. I cleaned my house, put on fresh sheets, scrubbed my bathtub, and bought myself an essential oil diffuser,oils, bath salts, candles, and a new book. I planned what I’d have for dinner, prepped it, and got myself yummy fizzy waters and a dessert. A few hours before my shift ended I was looking forward to my luscious evening at home more than I’d ever looked forward to wine! I don’t have to go all out like this anymore but it helps to know what my transition plan is before I get home from a long day so I don’t pace around trying to figure it out.

I suggest looking at the times of day and situations you are most likely to drink and plan ahead, be it after work, while cooking dinner, etc and plan things to do instead, make yourself a list.

I suggest taking a break from challenging social settings in the beginning. Look at it like you are on a retreat. Know it’s ok to say no.

If you do go out with friends who drink take your own car. Have a text buddy. Have a plan B. Invent fancy mocktails and always have one in your hand. No one knows or cares what you’re drinking. If they ask say you’re on a detox or have to get up early. If you feel awkward, realize once they are one or two drinks in they really aren’t paying much attention to you. But you may be surprised that you don’t feel awkward and end up having fun!

Community/Support

I didn’t go to AA until my 30th day. I’ve gone a handful of times since then. It’s not really my thing, but I do go to Refuge Recovery.

I suggest checking out Refuge Recovery or AA or Smart Recovery to see if you connect with them. There are also many online resources, communities, and phone meetings available these days.

Reach out to friends and acquaintances who don’t drink, or don’t drink much, to do non-drinking activities like hikes or movies.

If you feel comfortable telling people, tell them. I told everyone I knew and announced it on social media the first week. In hindsight I don’t know how I did that! But I do know it plays a large part in keeping me on track. If you don’t feel comfortable telling the world, don’t. But try to find at least 3 people you can text or call who get and support your decision.

Go on Instagram and check out the sobriety and recovery hashtags. There is a huge sober community over there and it has a way different vibe than Facebook. Many people I know create a separate account for sobriety related things if they are still anonymous to friends, coworkers, or family. Don’t discount online friendships. Some of my closest friends I’ve never met in person, or only once or twice. But I can call them whenever I need, and they get me.

If you can, avoid gossip or drama or toxic, complicated intrigues. It may feel like it gives you energy or entertainment but it’s really stressful on the mind and heart, and we want to feel peaceful and even.

Don’t worry about the label

Don’t worry about whether you are an “alcoholic” or not.  If it helps to call yourself an alcoholic, go for it, but you don’t have to have a label to stop. You can quit just because you think it’s limiting you, because you want more energy, less brain fog, you’re tired of wasting hours or days hungover. I’ve personally gone from trying to accept the label, to disregarding it completely, to recently starting to see that it might benefit me to label myself. Maybe we all have a different idea what it means. To me it meant physically dependent, and I never was. But I don’t have an off-switch so maybe I am. This is a personal subject, but just know it doesn’t really matter- if you want to quit, quit!

Discover What You Love

Think of all the things you’ve said you want to start doing and haven’t, and DO them. Paint. Run. Do yoga. Write. Take a dance class, a pottery class, music lessons, cook, be creative.

Self Care 

Yes that word is everywhere now, but there is a reason! Our society has been neglecting it for decades and it’s the reason some people turn to substances to check out. And it doesn’t just mean manis and pedis. To me it means taking care of my body and mind and being aware when it’s stressed. It means meditating daily, moving my body regularly, reaching out to people, journaling, not eating too much sugar, saying no, avoiding drama, and getting good sleep, and yes, having a mani/pedi once in a while. It’s mainly keeping in good touch with myself and not ignoring my needs.

Write/journal 

Write a vision of what your life (health, home, finances, relationships)  will look like sans alcohol in 6 months, a year, five years. Write a letter to alcohol and tell it everything – thank it for how it’s helped you, tell it how it’s harmed you, explain why the relationship is over now, and say your good-bye. Know there will be sadness and grief. Feel it.

Get Inspired

Read recovery memoirs such as: Dry, Lit, Blackout, Drinking: A Love Story, Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol, Her Best Kept Secret.

Listen to recovery podcasts like:
Home , Edit, The Bubble Hour, Shair, Since Right Now, The Unruffled Podcast

Check out these blogs: Laura McKowen, Hip Sobriety, She Recovers,  Tammi SalasThe Sobriety Collective

Read this article: Enjoli

Don’t compare yourself to others

Stay true to yourself. You may feel you weren’t “as bad” as some of the stories you’ve heard and read, your friends might still be drinking like you did and seem to have no problems, but only you know how alcohol has been affecting your life.

 

Thank you, my Facebook friend, for asking me to contemplate what helped me on my Eighteen Month sober-versary, it allowed me to really reflect back on the past year and a half. I hope it helps you and others!

 

 

 

Letting the Bees Out

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There’s been a beehive buzzing in my heart for over six years. I couldn’t hear it, didn’t want to hear it, acknowledge it. But my chest has gotten tighter and the bees have gotten louder. They say the second year of sobriety can be harder than the first. I don’t know about harder, but it certainly has it’s own rocky terrain.

The first year was spent mostly finding my feet, figuring out what life would look like sans alcohol: who I am, who my tribe is, what makes me feel good, what is in my self-care tool box, what recovery modality, if any, will be my go-to. Now that I’m in my second year the layers are beginning to peel off and it’s becoming more clear what drove me to drink. Other addictive habits pop up and keeping them in check is like playing a game of whack-a-mole. And over and over, I’m left to look at myself in the mirror, not always happy with what I see.

Last weekend I went to a yoga workshop with two of my favorite people, Holly Whitaker of Hip Sobriety and Laura McKowen. The workshop is called Never Not Broken. From the event description on Hip Sobriety: “What if we understood that our greatest strength comes from the times when we are broken open? And what if we never sought to “fix” that brokenness, but instead drew our deepest wisdom from it? Inspired by the Hindu deity, Akhilandeshvari, the Goddess of She-Who-Is-Never-Not-Broken, this workshop will flip the commonly held ideas of strength, weakness, power and struggle. We will cultivate a new kind of gentleness, understanding and compassion for ourselves and others.”

I’m not sure what I expected, but it was not to spend 3 hours on my yoga mat being broken open. Laura and Holly took turns leading us through traditional and kundalini yoga practices while providing writing prompts to jot down in the journals at our sides. I remember clearly the moment I cracked open. I was in a deep cobbler pose, my forehead resting on my toes, when Laura’s voice asked repeatedly “What broke you?” My mind flicked through the slide show of my life: My parents divorce? Over it. Mom’s alcoholism? Accepted. The rape/s? Discussed at length and processed. Visions flicker through my mind of my 20’s, my marriage, motherhood, creating a family, a home, a life, divorce…………….my throat caught.

A few bees buzzed out of the crack that opened in my heart, swirled around in my mind. The divorce was my choice. Well, not so much a choice as I didn’t see any other way to stay alive. I felt like I was drowning. I could barely get out of bed in the morning, couldn’t keep up with the house, rarely made dinner, and had to ask friends to drive my girls around. At 39 years old I’d been a wife for almost 20 years, since I was little more than a child, and I was lost. I was failing as a wife and as a mother. I couldn’t see any way to find and save my own self if I stayed in my marriage. So I blew it up. I left.

Leaving my daughters 50% of the time broke me. They were my world. They were 11 and 13 years old, and needed me more than ever. I had been a stay-at-home home-schooling mom for the length of their lives. Attachment parenting, family bed, nursing-nearly- forever kinda mama; that was my identity.

As I lay on my yoga mat I remembered my daughters rolling their suitcases to my car after the days they’d spent with me, my youngest sharing my queen sized bed while her sister slept on the couch in my studio apartment. A sob broke from my throat. I remembered stalking their social media accounts to see what they were doing when they were with their dad: slumber parties with girls I barely knew in the cabin that was once my home, wearing clothes I didn’t recognize. Pictures of them swimming with manatees in Florida, horseback riding in Half-Moon Bay, doing all the things I’d always wanted to do with them for the first time.  To quiet my grief I turned to beer and bars and boys and doing all the things I couldn’t when I was married, because otherwise I threw it all away for nothing, right? 

Worse was when my girls came back home, and I still wanted to escape. I was emotionally absent, on my phone, obsessing about a man, sneaking away to smoke cigarettes, anything to avoid really seeing my beautiful daughters and recognizing just how much we had lost.

I remembered the look on their dad’s face as I walked away from him in the front yard to leave one of the final times, his face crumpled into tears, mine doing it’s best to hide the relief I felt to be free for another handful of days. Free so I could party with my friends and flirt with boys and forget for a brief while that I’d destroyed my family, abandoned my daughters, and broken the heart of the man who’d stood by me and given me everything for 20 years. I was so cold, so hardened to him and his sorrow I feared I was a narcissist. I took all the quizzes. How can you spend 20 years with someone and not cry at the end? Well, turns out there were always tears. They only took six years to escape. If I’d let them out then I may not have survived it.

Laura guided us from cobbler pose to lie on our stomachs. Helpers walked around the studio with boxes of tissues; I wasn’t the only broken one. My shoulders shook as I sobbed, flashing through the final years of our marriage and the perfect little family everyone saw from the outside. The perfect little family in our tiny cabin in the woods, that was filled with a sad, tense energy we all felt but no one talked about.

Now it’s Memorial Day weekend. Social media is filled with gatherings and families and vacations. My home is silent. Later today I’ll be with my girls. They’re 17 and nearly 20, and they’re alright!  The kids almost always are. What our family went through was as much a part of their paths as it was mine. Maybe someday they’ll lie on a yoga mat and remember lost feelings from these years, and know it shaped them and couldn’t have happened any other way. I don’t doubt they’ll always know, have always known, how fiercely I love them. 

The tears are still coming. I miss having a family sometimes, and I miss my little girls, and I grieve all the time I didn’t have with them. The crack is opening wider and there are more tears to release, lots of bees buzzing and needing to be let out, so they can come and go and fill my heart with honey.

By the end of the workshop we had created a map in our journal, tracing our way from where we are now to where we are going, through the devastation of all the things that have broken us. Just like Akhilandeshvari, we ride the crocodile of our confusion and fear and use it to reach our destination of wholehearted acceptance and compassion for ourselves and all beings. I see now that these years have been making me who I am and beneath the surface I’ve been writing the guidebook on how to live my life; it’s been inside me the whole time. And I pray I’m never not broken.

The Resistance

GAAHH I’m having such resistance to writing on this blog! I feel like they just turn into long boring “status updates”. But as much I didn’t want to do it, I clicked on my stoking life bookmark, the “write” button, and here I am. I have to rid my mind of the wish to write the perfect post and JUST DO IT. I may not even edit.

This is what my journal looks like. If you’re familiar with morning pages you’ll know it’s a practice where you just keep writing without stopping until you fill a certain number of pages. Even if you just write “I have nothing to say” over and over and over. So here goes.

It’s 11:43 am and I haven’t brushed my teeth yet. I ate a 1/2 an avocado in the skin with a spoon for breakfast. I rearranged my room so my altar is  in the alcove and I may get a curtain later to hang in front and keep it more sacred. I just had a great phone call with a friend and we had a big belly laugh…. she hadn’t washed her face yet and I hadn’t (still haven’t) brushed my teeth, and I told her that when I was rearranging my room I found 7 decks of tarot cards and 8 malas and I complain I can’t go on a retreat “HOLY SHIT I’M SUCH A PRIVILEGED WHITE CHICK!” We started cracking up, sharing our “it’s so hard to get out of my comfy bed in the morning to meditate” “where is my motivation to run” “it’s too late to do my yoga because it’s hot (so sunny and beautiful) now” “I have too much spare time and have to be careful not to watch much netflix or I get depressed.”  “Im kinda sad today, it must be the moon.” I mean I could go on and on it’s so fucking ridiculous.

When we were done laughing at ourselves we were left with an incredible sense of gratitude fir our freedoms and agreed to remind ourselves of how incredible our lives are if we start to whine. At the same time we do need to be gentle with ourselves and realize that self-care is new to us and imperative to our sobriety. Making a habit of it can be hard work. Pushing through the resistance is necessary and it helps to have sisters in recovery who get it. 

wow, this is almost turning into some legit content. I was just tempted to hit post and walk away.

But I won’t.

I have a list of posts and I don’t want to write any of them right now. One I’ve been avoiding is about the upheaval and grief and some actual trauma I felt last January when my Bachelors/Teaching credential school plans got yanked out from under me the day before my 3rd year classes started. I turned it around in my mind to acceptance within a few days, but found myself sobbing with grief a few months later. I still evidently had some processing to do. I realize I could still go back next fall, and it’s still an option, but I knew if I had to take a pause I might lose my school mojo. I did but it has been replaced with mojo for something even better, I think the universe knew what it was doing, as I suspected.

She Recovers is the largest online recovery platform for women in North America, with over 250,000 followers and sold-out retreats around the world. They created a coaching designation to better serve these women and I’m currently working on completing it, along with just over 20 other women. I’m really excited to be a part of this organization and to start organizing retreats and serving the She Recovers community in California. I feel this has a lot more opportunity to be of service and is more up my alley than being a teacher. The security and benefits would have been nice but the pay still wouldn’t have been enough, even if I found a job, and I’d be stuck with student loans!

Ok so there’s that, I don’t like to talk or think about school because even though I know I’m on the right path, I’m still a little raw from the jolt that redirection gave me and I really really did love going to school.

Listening to Modern English Pandora, Dancing with Myself…

I went back to my Buddhist Center, my spiritual home, a few weeks ago. I’ve gone a handful of times in the past few years but always with a sense of guilt because I stopped doing my practices consistently a few years ago. With my divorce and bouncing from home to home and different job schedules and oh yeah, the partying, it fell away. But it never left my heart. I never put away my altar or my Dharma books. I’ve been going to Refuge Recovery this past year and have developed a consistent daily meditation practice so when I went to my center a few weeks ago it occurred to me that I could do my Tibetan practices again now that I have that structure! It’s been a little over a week and it’s all coming back to me. I told my friend last night I was happy to find my Lamas are still in my heart, they never left, and they were never even mad at me. They were in there watching, protecting me, and knowing I’d be back the whole time. I feel strong and loved and there’s a richness to my experiences. 

I’m going to hit post in minute, thank you for reading as I attempt to smash through this writers block and clear some blog cobwebs away.

Pretty in Pink just came on Pandora, I’m going to turn it up loud.

PS I edited this 😉

Challenge Accepted!

Today I was asked to put together an Essential Oil Kit for someone who is allergic to Lavender and doesn’t like florals or grasses. Challenge accepted! She wanted a general multi -purpose starter kit for good emotional juju and general well-being, along with something for her sinuses. This is what we put together:

Citrus Bliss ~ Holds energizing and purifying properties that can uplift and elevate your mood and reduce stress, and is the oil of abundance and prosperity. Also useful for household cleaning. This blend can be diffused, inhaled, and/or applied topically.

Frankincense ~ “The King of Oils”- when in doubt use Frankincense! This precious oil helps relieve anxiety, depression, stress, and grief, promotes peace and well-being, encourages cell regeneration, and boosts immune system and brain function. It can be diffused, inhaled, applied topically, or taken internally.

Breathe ~ This blend helps open up the respiratory system and sinuses, aides in a restful sleep, promotes deep breathing, opens the heart chakra, and releases sadness and grief. It can be diffused, inhaled, and applied topically.

Peppermint ~ A must for every starter kit, peppermint uplifts, opens sinuses, helps with focus, clears the cobwebs in your brain, energizes, freshens breath, and helps with digestion and headaches. It be diffused, inhaled, applied topically, or taken internally.

This kit was really fun to put together, please let me know if you’re interested in a custom kit!

this beautiful, impermanent life

Here I am at nearly 15 months sober and I realized I hadn’t posted since last July! So many things have happened that I wish I’d been writing about, but I felt very introverted and private and vulnerable. Something about spring has me bursting open and reinspired to return to this blog. So I’m back, and I’m sure things will get filled in in the next few posts. I did write a bit in Facebook and Instagram around my 1 year sobriety birthday and about Refuge  Recovery, so I’ll share those thoughts here:

When I woke up on 1/9/17 I wasn’t sure my 1 year sobriety birthday would feel like a big deal. But I woke up so teary with gratitude. 

Looking back on all the uncertainty the first months about what I am, and why, and how long will I do this- none of that matters now. I’m doing it because my life has gotten so much better! And the taste of alcohol sounds gross now, and getting numb or foggy holds no appeal. 

I want to continue to dive more deeply into my self, learn more about how I tick, what I really feel, what my true intentions are, not react to things out of fear, and to increase my understanding, compassion, and love for myself and others. I can only do this by keeping a clarity of mind.

I’ve grown to know and love my wise inner self and to listen and pay attention to her. I couldn’t hear her before. Im not sure I was aware she existed. But she’s pretty fucking amazing and I’m not turning my back on her again. 

AA hasn’t really clicked for me. It works for others, for some the term “alcoholic” is helpful and necessary. For me, not so much. Although it’s been beneficial to me and I love the people, it doesn’t feel like “my” path. I’m not convinced of the disease/ allergy model for myself,  and we have learned so much about addiction since the 1930’s. I resist labels. We change. We wake up. 

I quit drinking because I realized I don’t want to go through life numb and confused. Sobriety has allowed me to develop better, more consistent self-care routines, including getting back into meditation. It’s been hard to have a regular practice since my divorce 5 years ago, but it’s been sticking again since I removed alcohol from my life. 

I finally starting going to my first Refuge Recovery meetings in October and I don’t know what took me so long! I love it because you don’t have to identify as a particular addict. According to Buddhism, we are all addicted to something. We desire, we crave, we mindlessly try to satisfy our craving, we get disappointed, we suffer, we crave more. 

I’m stoked to have found a recovery model that ties my buddhist path and sobriety together and will also keep me on the meditation train and help with money and technology habits as well. For me it’s about being as awake as I can to experience this beautiful, impermanent life.

The Self-Woo

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Having heard the terms self-care and self-love thrown around for the last decade and only recently really “getting it”, I assumed the revelations I’m about to share have always been obvious to everyone but me.  After some recent conversations I realize that is just not so, so maybe my thoughts on this are worth sharing.

I used to think self-love and self-care were the same thing. Of course those who love themselves take good care of themselves, and vice-versa. But  I don’t think I knew what either of them really were until recently, or what it meant if one of them was missing. I recently realized they are not the same thing, that lack of self-love can lead to lack of self-care,and even more empowering: that self-care can lead to self-love.

My experience with both came through happy accident. The first few weeks of quitting wine, I had to seek out other ways to ease my discomfort and anxiety. These things included hot baths, good sleep, clean sheets, healthy food, hot teas, massages, essential oils, pedicures, all the typical self-care rituals.

As I became more mindful of my likes and what helped make me feel more ‘at ease’, my self-care grew to include things that weren’t necessarily enjoyable, like doing the dishes and setting up my coffee before going to bed, paying my bills on time, cooking myself healthy meals, and doing my laundry before I ran out of clothes. I realized these were aspects of self-care we often overlook, because they don’t feel good in the moment. But we can’t deny that they are a way of caring for ourselves. I am always happy with the result.

After a few months of this I started noticing little stirrings of self-love in my heart. I know myself better and care not only about my happiness now, but my future happiness. I want the very best for myself and will do anything to get it. I thought about all the self-care I’ve been indulging in and wondered if there was a connection.

If I were in a romantic partnership and felt a disconnect, or a lack of love, what would any counselor or advice column tell me to do? Act as if. Go on dates. Do little things for each other. Clean the kitchen and set up the coffee before bed for my partner. Run them a hot bath with essential oils. Give them a massage. Put some clean sheets on the bed and spritz them with vanilla, for a romantic evening.

My conclusion is that without even realizing I was doing it, by practicing self-care I was actually wooing myself. Yes, a few more of those woo woo words I’ve heard thrown around for a decade: date yourself, woo yourself (GAG!). But I can attest to it – if you want to know what self-love means and feels like, it begins with the caring, and yes, the wooing. If you don’t believe me, just try it yourself. You won’t regret it ❤