Have you ever heard the quote, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply”?
Do you think we have a listening problem in our society?
I do. I think we have a listening problem – with each other, with our communities, with our world.
Steve R. Covey wrote about that, often, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He explained that we have a need to be understood, but we reply first instead of understanding! We need to learn to listen, to understand. And, we need to lead by example.
I invite you to practice with me. Join me in 30 Days of Listening. I will gift you the experience of being listened to. You can talk to me about what’s on your heart, and from that, we will both be more connected to each other, to our family and friends, and more prepared to share that with our world.
Sign up today! I am looking to fill up December with listening!
I was (clinically) diagnosed a few years ago with Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome. I had been working to get a diagnosis for almost 20 years. Suddenly, the protocol changed, and I got the diagnosis I thought I wanted.
But what did it mean for my care? Nothing changed with my healthcare providers. I added it as a note to my medical record. We didn’t do any more tests. No further counseling, support, advice, was given. Okay, you have this diagnosis, it explains some things, have a great day.
All I knew is that my untested hormones were likely out of whack, and it could be used to explain some things I don’t like about myself. (Yes, Byron Katie, I’ll get to that work later.)
But what was I supposed to do with that information? Where were my hormones supposed to be? How does PCOS come into my life? Why do I have it? Should I care? What should I do about it?
When I got the diagnosis, I also had my oils. There are two blends for women that I immediately began using. They are known to support hormone regulation, and I had a supposed hormone disruption.
One of my oil team members recently found an expert on PCOS! So, I did the webinar, and then I was able to participate in an intro call. Sara, of Conceive with Joy, works with women affected by PCOS. Largely, she focuses on women who want to conceive. Yet, all women who need healing, she would be open to talking to, to see if she could support.
I couldn’t believe how much relief I got in a 45-minute call. Sara validated where healthcare has failed me. She validated that I deserve to have another way of living. She validated that there is hope on the other side.
We started with a meditation. There was no prompt, it just was. I applied melaleuca, and later told Sara I did so. Melaleuca is the oil of energetic boundaries. This helps me to keep healthy boundaries and open to hearing new things. We practiced clear, deep breathing, taking intentional moments to make ourselves present to the call. Of course, social media, computers in general, and phones were all off or silenced. Across the land, we were connected. We expressed gratitude for both showing up, and we came back into awareness.
We talked about PCOS symptoms. We talked about the true test for knowing (get the testosterone checked!). We talked about things that I’ve experienced outside of PCOS that could be related. We talked about trauma, and how trauma can be something traumatic, or at the time it could be something mundane, not fully taking in how its affecting our every day. We talked about how memories are stored and where healing could happen.
Sara got her start as a doula, and she has been loving on women and healing women for close to ten years. She has the heart and compassion to lead women through a PCOS healing journey. I cannot wait until I can work with her.
Do you read my essential oil newsletter? In it, I talk a lot about removing toxins. I talk about removing toxins from our bodies, from our homes, and even suggest removing them from our minds (toxic energy). But, why? Let me take you on a journey, starting with lunch with a friend, recently.
We were talking about our respective businesses in health, and she started to ask me about how to make laundry less toxic, and what essential oils can be used. I had to pause and take a step back. The oils are awesome, helpful, and can do so many things, certainly, but we must step backward first.
What kind of clothing are you wearing? Synthetics? Natural fibers? Both?
What kind of detergent are you using? Dye-filled, additive-filled, or natural?
Are you using dryer sheets? Did you know they have carcinogenic effects? Have you tried wool dryer balls instead?
Have you considered washing natural fibers separate from synthetics, keeping like materials together?
After those things are remedied, then the use of essential oils is a great compliment. Sure, you can use the oils beforehand, but their effect will be greater once the toxic-daily-routine is minimized.
Now, let’s take a look at how my awareness was raised. I was in my early twenties, living at home with my sister and my parents. We were all working adults. And, one of my favorite things to do with my sister was spending our limited disposable income at fun stores at the mall. We’d then, after collecting our purchases, race home, as much as we were willing to speed. No one wanted a ticket! One of our favorite things to do was get peachy-smelling lotions from a favorite store in the mall. A store, that in their title, was named after being natural.
Once home, I’d bathe as I normally do, and, then, I would luxuriate in this sweet smelling lotion. Soon, I noticed that I had a rash over my entire body! Little red bumps that were so populous, my whole body looked red. The last time this happened was when I prayed to God to be allergic to the nasty penicillin I had to have, when 5 years old. I powered through though. I wanted that sweet smelling lotion on my body. I noticed that after a day or two of doing the same thing, the rash lessened. But, triggers were going off in my brain – this can’t be right! Shortly, I abandoned the sweet smelling lotion because I did not like giving myself a rash to smell good.
A few years later, I was diagnosed with eczema. The doctor wanted to make sure my career wasn’t beholden to daily chemical use, like a photographer who develops film, because that would put my skin in a constant state of stress. That was my introduction to sensitization. Once you have eczema, an autoimmune disorder that creates flaky, irritated skin, you don’t go back. You don’t undo eczema. You only manage the symptoms.
So, how do you manage the symptoms? You remove toxins from your daily life. For me, it began with body soap, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, and laundry soap. Getting as pure as possible meant abandoning the brands that were on the shelf, and only if desperate buying the “free and clear” varieties. Getting as pure as possible sometimes meant making my own things. Though, now, I prefer to pay someone to make soap. (Check out my friend Kristina’s soap! It’s only the basics.)
What I was (and still am) experiencing is a term called chemical sensitization. Chemical sensitization means the more exposed to a chemical you are, the more sensitive (or reactive) your body can be to it. I saw the same thing when my slow-to-potty-train son broke out in the same kind of rash after a night of soaked pull-ups. This led to an UNKNOWN diagnosis for his allergies, because he didn’t check positive for eczema. And, for some reason, we cannot do all the tests for all the chemicals. (We have been exposed to more than 80,000 chemicals and counting, and we do not understand the ramifications of all these things.)
We are living a life of toxicity. So many inputs, every single day, and we don’t know how they all interact. It was all these thoughts and more that surfaced when my friend asked how she should deal with her laundry. If you need a first step, pick a natural laundry soap. My favorite oil company makes one. My second favorite is by Biokleen.
What is one thing you can do today to remove toxins from your home?
It is Monday, September 11. This is the 16-year “anniversary” of a terrorist attack on the United States when the World Trade Center came crumbling down after planes strategically smashed into it.
Today is also my first day back from an epic summer vacation and an amazing convention at dōTERRA. Upon leaving, careless teenagers threw fireworks into a canyon on a beloved hiking trail, which ignited over 34,000 acres. The speed at which the flames spread was alarming, sad, and scary. I could sit in the comfort of my Portland home and only be affected by the smoke, which made it very difficult to breathe. I was not affected by an evacuation order, but I wondered if it would come close. Just days before my husband and I discussed renewing our hiking along some of those very same trails. And, with a heavy heart, I reminded myself that everything happens in its perfect timing, no matter how sad.
I took that thinking with me to the convention last week, and it did not disappoint. Some funny, silly, frustrating, amazing things happened, and through it all, I reminded myself that everything happens in its perfect timing.
Space was combined because the Utah Jazz had an amazing season. So, the planned construction of Salt Lake City’s arena was delayed. That meant more lines, more waiting, and more patience required. The day we registered, I was hoping for quick lines, as was my previous experience. It took an hour to register, and I panicked that I would miss my scheduled and paid for tour. I did not miss my tour. An employee kindly guided my momentarily panicked being to where I needed to go and ensured I got to see what I got to see. I spoke my mind to someone who I deemed entitled (reminding people of boundaries). I gave suggestions for a smoother flow. I met a new friend, who I saw briefly every day afterward. I smelled the most amazing warehouse.
The next day, we missed hearing Rachel Platten sing Fight Song, but we spent time together, and we were reminded of how other people live very different lives than us. In a moment of desiring to stock our room with cheap wine, we were reminded, perfectly, of the need to ask, sometimes, “Are you safe?” (See dōTERRA’s partnership with Operation Underground Railroad.)
We, as a team, got to know each other a little better, we opened our hearts a little more, we learned a whole lot, and we reconnected with our purpose, just a little bit deeper. Together, we watched others be vulnerable, and we touched our truths one more time.
Are you thinking, seriously, all this at an essential oil convention? YES! All this at an essential oil convention. Stay tuned for more updates. Make sure you’re on my mailing list to receive a breakdown of the 9 new oils.
Much love to you my dear friends. Remember, everything happens in its perfect time.
My son’s age is a constant reminder of how long I’ve been without my sister, Cristi. This year, he turned ten. This year is the tenth year of her not being here. This day is the tenth year of her not being there, though we found out ten years ago tomorrow.
Every time I think about this, I think about an image of a 29-year-old woman on the brink of blowing up her career (for good), touching all the lives of the students she worked with, and the laughter she brought to my family. Forever frozen in time, and now we only have her memory to hang on to.
We are back, traveling again, celebrating family, sites, and death. Two of the deaths we are going to celebrate are the lives of my grandparents, my maternal grandmother, and grandfather. We will have a memorial around the family farm, celebrating their lives, their legacy. At the same time, our immediate family will hold tight to the memory of our sister, daughter, friend, who died ten years ago, much too soon.
In the midst of this intimate memorial will be nearly 4 generations of people. People who wouldn’t be here or have come together without my grandparents. And, then, of course, there will be the people who couldn’t make it. Maybe it was money or time, or in the case of Cristi, maybe it was because a life was taken too soon. We will celebrate. We may cry. We will share stories. We will laugh.
Then, we will depart and go back to our regularly scheduled lives. Some of our travels will take us to exciting new adventures. Some of our adventures will take us to the normal routines of daily life. Wake up, go to work, go to school, get dressed, eat a meal. We go on living while the dead do what dead people do according to your respective beliefs.
I was raised in the Catholic church. My husband and I are raising our son with Christian (Protestant) – Catholic views. Yet, I hope for an afterlife that is kinder and more loving than that which these religions preach. I dream of an afterlife where our loved ones are walking with us, guiding us, our guardian angels. I dream of an afterlife where we’ve made pacts with each other, and we are each others soul mates. Where we are learning some spiritual lesson, every day, and we have the support of those around us. There is no accident when it comes to where we are.
In this moment, I am writing this at a yummy café near where my mother’s new job is. Near where high school friends are employed and helped me with certain esthetician tasks. Near where I’m meeting another old friend for lunch. Near where I’ll meet up with my family at a beloved fabric store (that happens to be having a tent sale today). None of these things happened the way I envisioned. And, it’s all working out perfectly. I will take this sign on this tenth anniversary of my sister’s death that no matter the heartache we’ve had or is to come, everything is unfolding as it should.
I’ve written about this before, but this is a topic so near to me that I think uncovering and unpacking the layers is relevant, important, and necessary. When I go back to what it is I do, connecting women and holding space for women is the common theme. So, why is that so important?
Connecting to Sustainability
Years ago, I identified that my goal is to educate people on the importance of a sustainable society. This was a beautiful moment because it allowed me openness to opportunities that had just been created and were now available to me. I was able to declare Sustainable Urban Development as my minor at Portland State. I was able to travel to Italy on a Sustainability Study Abroad. I was able to co-author a book on Sustainability. Because my bucket job explorations in sustainability didn’t lead to a paid gig, I kept unpacking what sustainability meant for me.
The Triple Bottom Line is the common definition I use. It’s easy to understand, wrap our heads around, and generally gets the point across. I’ve called it the Three Es, until this new definition. It means that you balance three things equally instead of just one.
In business, the norm is to balance the books. You know if a company is making a profit, or not. You balance the profit books, the economic books. In the Triple Bottom Line definition, you add two books: people (equity) and planet/place (environment). With how we’ve measured environmental success, this piece is easy to measure. We know if we are polluting the environment more than cleaning it up. We know if we are cutting down more trees than planting. We know if our food is contaminated, or not. We know if our water is contaminated, or not.
But people, that’s where things get messy. Because people are messy. We bring all of our junk, or baggage, to the table – no matter what the table is – work, family, volunteering. If we had a bad day at work, it’s often hard to hide it from our families. If family life is stressful, it affects our concentration at work. We are a society that likes easy things, so we don’t deal with the people aspect because it is hard.
And, the hard thing is exactly what we need to deal with. If we want our society to be a better place tomorrow than it is today, we have to tackle the hard thing. I want society to be a better place. I want my son to grow up with kindness, compassion, and opportunity within a setting of health, wellness, wealth, and awesome choices. I want the next generation to have even better opportunities. If we collectively want that, and I think we do, then we have to work together to figure out people.
Connecting with Women
I am focusing on women for many reasons. I am a women. I was raised by a women, who served our family as a single mother using social services, until she remarried. I have sisters. One sister is the mother of a special needs child. One sister was killed by her boyfriend. That is, one sister was a victim of domestic violence.
I watch all the women in my circle: gay, straight, single, parents, black, hispanic, white – and they all have spaces where they need support. Many women I see are not the sole breadwinners of their families, and that directly affects choices they make. Some women face exclusions that I, as a white women, cannot relate to, and it’s unfair and unnecessary.
So, I see a need for us, women, to come together like we never have before. I see a need for us to cross race, political, and economic lines and see the potential in each of us. I see space for us to thrive together.
When women support each other in joy, we do amazing things. We love. We share. We are kind. We show up with compassion. We gift, and we support. I want to create a society that honors the feminine to bring these necessary things back into our world, massively. Join me. Let’s connect.
Last month, in my educational newsletter to my fellow oilers, I talked about the importance of spring cleaning, and I related it to the chemicals on our face. Women are exposed to a range of 150 and 500 chemicals, daily. Most of which we do not know the direct effects. A risk averse person might suggest that the average women is a chemical concoction away from disaster.
Societal norms, aside, maybe it’s time for women to take off their make up?
Societal norms, considered, what does it say when we wear make up every day? Men don’t, in our modern age. If we are going to a play, a night out on the town, both genders are generally expected to dress up a little, comb their hair, brush their teeth – societal hygienic and grooming standards. But, aside from a blip into metrosexuality (isn’t it all beards now?), only a woman is required to cover her face, in a painted on mask, to be considered put together.
Let’s take a pause. I actually love wearing make up. I enjoy the whole process. I equate it to art. I think it’s fascinating the shapes we highlight and create and the colors we play with, with paint for our skin. I even find that a powdered foundation keeps my oily skin feeling fresh, all day. Me and make up? Love it. (The more research-intensive part is finding toxic-free varieties.)
What I would like to link together, though, is this requirement that women put a mask on to look their best. It’s a direct implication that women do not look their best without new skin, new eyes, new cheeks, and new lips. Men can simply walk out of their house, and they are applauded for buttoning their shirts or not sagging in their pants. The expectation is different for women.
What does that continue to say about our society? Yesterday was Equal Pay Day for Women. Yesterday marks the day that white women begin to earn as much as their male counterparts in the workforce. If you add other aspects, such as being black, or Hispanic, their day is not yet here. What does it say, about our society?
It continues to reinforce the message that women cannot and will not be enough. It says that we don’t look the part, and we don’t deserve to play the part.
Clarification, I don’t choose to believe this. I feel that if we succumb to this victim mentality we allow the oppressors to win. And, I will not allow the oppressors to win. Everyone deserves a fair shake at this game called Life. Everyone deserves to be treated fairly, no matter what their skin or gender, or choice of make up. Instead of being a victim, I will, however, kindly challenge these micro-oppressions.
Women are not required to wear make up to look their best. Women are not required to wear a dress, or a pant suit, to be presentable. We, this generation and beyond, are shaking the old beliefs and creating our own, because the old beliefs, the old suit, it just doesn’t fit anymore.
I believe our job is to shake those suits that don’t fit anymore. Our job is to challenge these micro-oppressions when they are, again, layered as norms. Our job is to say, “No, that really isn’t how it is and couldn’t we consider it a different way.”
And, today, I’m saying that about make up. Not only is it generally quite toxic to our skin, it can mask who we really are. If we are to truly show up and change this world, we need to show up as we really are. So, please, take off your make up, and change the world.
Make up at work – from the abstract, “Although many women find pleasure in wearing makeup, the authors conclude that the institutional constraints imposed by the workplace effectively limit the possibilities for resistance.”
I love, so much, the outpouring of support, love, prayers, and friendly thoughts to me and my family in this time of grieving. The kindness in the thought expressed, “I’m sorry,” means a lot. But, I need to acknowledge that I am not sorry.
I was sorry when Cristi died. Hers was a life cut too short, unfinished. She was my sister, and I felt robbed that we didn’t get a chance to adult together. I was very sorry when she died. And, I really appreciated the sentiment expressed, then. No one really knows what to say in times of such a tragic situation.
I found the words, “I’m sorry,” were the best choice for others also experiencing grief. “I am sorry that this thing is happening that is causing pain.” But, pain is life. Life is full of promise, joy, pain, happiness, tears of sadness and gladness. So, in a sense, I am far form sorry that you are experiencing that we are experiencing this human existence to its fullest. I am glad that we have the opportunity to feel sadness and grief over a life no longer with us, immediately right now.
How lucky am I that, in this immediate instance, I have a grandfather that lived to be 93 years old. Though he wasn’t always lucid the last ten years of his life, by all accounts he lived a full life. He married his high school sweet heart, he served his country, he raised a large, boisterous family. He provided for his needs, his children’s needs to the best of his abilities, and supported the next generation. I am so happy that I get to call him my grandfather, and I am so happy that he had this rich story cultivated around his values and his expression of life.
I am not sorry he died. I am not sorry he lived. I am not sorry for his story, as it was a glorious one.
In reflection, there are a few things I am sorry for. I am sorry that Alzheimer’s consumed his existence these last ten years. I am sorry that dementia made him into a man I didn’t recognize. I am sorry that old age brought bloating and other ill-health side affects that mostly made him unrecognizable. I am sorry that the last time I saw him, five short minutes, was largely spent with him sleeping.
But, I am not sorry I did get to see him in his end of life. I am not sorry for that last hug. I am not sorry that his life helped me reshape what I think about aging and the aging process. Like leaves that wither and die in the fall, all life has a season, and I truly believed my grandfather and grandmother lived their season to their fullest. I am not sorry I got to witness so much of their life.
Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa, for continuing to show me what love and life can look like, even past your end of days.
It’s Thursday. It started out as a normal Thursday. But, now, it will forever be known as the day my grandfather died. He was 92.
He lived a long life. He met his sweetheart in 7th or 8th grade, and they courted through high school. He served as a nurse, stationed in Germany, during World War II. We didn’t call it PTSD back then, but I was instructed never to ask about the war (to any of my grandparents), rather to listen kindly if they shared stories. Grandpa Woodaz didn’t share any stories.
Growing up, I thought of him as fierce. Like my grandmother, he was always there. We spent a lot of time on the farm when living in the UP, where I was born. One entire summer, we lived with my grandparents. I remember being told our car needed to be fixed.
We would wake up and go to bed with the rest of the farm, which included my grandparents and my uncle. He was the youngest and finishing high school. Together, they had ten children, never loosing any, within an almost 30 year span. That uncle, Danny, was an uncle when he was born. Their legacy includes over 40 grandchildren and many, many, great and even great-great grandchildren.
My grandfather offered me my first beer. It was likely Pabst Blue Ribbon. I was 8. I had a sip, because, why would you say no to Grandpa? I hated it. And, boy did he laugh. His Polish blue eyes twinkling, and the smile that lit up his whole face. Contrasting with his deeply tanned, brown skin, and white hair, always short in a buzz cut. We often saw him after he came home from work at the paper mill. And he always asked, “Do you want a whisker rub?” The worst kind of cheek-to-cheek kiss a child could ask for, with his five o’clock shadow, like sandpaper on your baby soft, childhood skin. And he would laugh, and laugh.
Sometimes, he wouldn’t laugh, and the fierceness would come through. When I was about 5, my cousin, Darryl, did not obey my grandfather, and he climbed on a flat bed trailer that was on the property. The wood was rotting, and Darryl fell and cut his lip. The next thing I knew, Darryl was in Grandma’s chair, in a timeout in the living room, a little blood coming from his lip. How could he be in trouble when he got hurt? He did not listen to Grandpa, and that’s why he got hurt.
They had 10 kids. TEN. Can you imagine? I can’t. We’ve stopped at one. I’m guessing that’s one reason why it was a never-ending parade of weddings when I was a little girl. All the weddings were held at the Hall. This was a community building, and every single reception was held in this hall. We had a formula for weddings. From my young eyes, it looked like: potluck made by all the gray haired aunts, kegs of beer, and a DJ who played polkas. The building was like a large pole barn with hard, concrete floors. They were perfect for dancing, and boy did our family dance. I have memories of begging to polka with Grandpa. Why? Because you didn’t actually need to know how to dance! He would spin you around, and you would fly. Uncle Tommy was the only other person who would dance with you, like that.
Eventually, Grandpa retired. And, then, he was home all the time. But he never stopped moving. He was always puttering to and fro. Coming in the house, periodically, for another cup of coffee. When I was younger, he’d open the fridge when the day was done and get a beer. That stopped after some time. Coffee, though. Never ending coffee. After my Uncle Danny returned from his tours in the Navy, the coffee got better. You see, Danny spent time in Seattle. So the Midwestern, watered down brew turned into good coffee. When it was the Midwestern brew, we had a church coffee pot in the kitchen. And it was never empty. The coffee was always on.
Eventually, age settled in. But, it was after they both turned 80. Though I’ve heard that the human body has the capacity to live to 120 years old, because our life expectancy is in our 70s, I was amazed they made it that long. That feels like a long, full life. The end of life cycle turned into a challenge as health related issues arose. That’s not how I will choose to remember either of them. This image in 2004 is how I will remember them. Vibrant and full of life. The laughs – everyone always laughing. The big, giant bear hugs (and yes, this is why I’m a hug person), the traditions old and new, the pride of our Polish heritage. I miss my grandparents, as they were, every single day. I cling to hope they are reunited, maybe ready to recreate their love story.
Thank you Grandma and Grandpa for showing me what love can look like.
I love writing, but finding my blogging voice has been quiet, silent, for a long time. I had an amazing experience a week or so ago, so I thought I’d write about it.
I have friends all over the political spectrum, but your vibe attracts your tribe, and my tribe is left-leaning women who resonate with creating a women-empowered economy, and even smashing the patriarchy. We know that it’s our time, and we want to do this journey together. A journey where we create a more love-centered, compassionate world. A world where we seek win-wins, instead of wars.
This election has a lot of us riled up. RILED UP. I have confessed, multiple times now, that during Obama’s administration, I fell asleep politically. Instead, I chose to focus on my family, things near to me that I could control. I missed out on great speeches, some political decisions I think are disastrous and don’t represent my values, and some political decisions I would have appreciated celebrating.
An old man was elected to the presidential office. Again, someone who espouses values that I do not agree with, at least they come across as the opposite of compassionate, win-win decisions. The campaign, from that vantage point, seemed to be a campaign of anger, hate, and riling people up for violence. Again, values that I do not espouse, nor do I want represented in the office we hold most dear in this land.
So, what’s a girl to do? We march. And, march we did. The early estimates, for Portland, guessed that 20,000 to 30,000 women would show up. The final estimates guessed that over 100,000 people showed up to say, “NO,” to the current administration and the policies that have been promised.
When Bush was president, another president whose values I did not hold in similarity, we marched. But, then I stopped. Much like falling asleep to the Obama administration, I fell asleep to the things I didn’t feel like I could change.
Hopefully with age comes wisdom. And, this time, the people who have chosen to help organize these marches have also organized actions. 10 actions in 100 days. I have cultivated a left-leaning tribe, and the people in my tribe are ACTING. Some are signing and sharing petitions, some are making calls, some are attending town halls, some are protesting injustices, some are doing all these things. A friend and I hosted a Huddle (action number two), and that felt great.
Though we invited a handful of people close to us, the majority who showed up were strangers to us. Other concerned women who want a world that is more compassionate, loving, and inclusive of all of our differences. We talked, and I had the opportunity to serve, gifting the group my facilitation skills.
Joy! Bringing women together, who showed up, ready to engage! Joy! Listening to all their varied stories while we thought of what we want our world to be. Joy! Seeing the actions that sprang up. For example, a committee formed around one woman who is interested in exploring a political office! Joy! A group was created so that we can stay in touch and engaged.
If you want to know more about the Huddle or other events that we have planned, send me a message. I would love to connect with you. Stay with me, as I continue to fine tune and realize my own story. As we connect together, we will share our stories together and create a world we want.