One of my favorite ways for getting the benefits of any oil in me is through internal use. When I started using the oils, I added orange oil to my water. At the time, I was locked into an 8:30 am – 5 pm desk job. I was a main point of contact, so my mobility was limited. Colleagues would often walk to the nearest convenience store, and they would generously ask if they could get me anything. I routinely asked for something sweet, like a brownie.
Now, here’s the thing. We weren’t talking about a quality brownie. There was no richness. There was no delectable quality of cocoa and flours coming together to satisfy an intense chocolate craving. No, we are talking about the most replicable, boxed, processed thing in all its unhealthy glory.
And I would eat one, every single day. Every single day.
Until the oils were introduced. And I noticed my cravings weren’t calling out to me. My water tasted bright and uplifting, and I wasn’t relying on a sub par dessert to get me through my morning.
Two full Whole 30 plans. The rest of the year was a loose 80/20 following, lowering our grain input, but not saying “no” to prohibited foods like Oreos when cravings arose.
What does this mean? When we focused on eating right, managing stress, and getting that nutrition right, our bodies shifted. We slept better, our hearts got right, our waists got thinner, and doctor visits were radiant.
Separately, during the 80/20 time, we noticed stress rise, then our waists got thicker, and movement got harder. So, another plan was in order. We attempted to do it during Lent, mocking last year identically. But, we didn’t. We enabled each other towards cravings. Until the husband had it with the tightening belt, and we started again on March 27. Frankly, it’s been a hard week. We’re hungry and relearning what we can eat.
The boy had a sleepover, so we cheated (completely against the rules) on Saturday with a compliant meal peppered with a very non-compliant Mimosa.
Today, we’re out of food and pay-day is tomorrow. So, I’m scrounging in the fridge to find enough food to stave off hunger. I purposefully used up our store-bought mayo a few months ago. Our protein source is down to a dozen boiled eggs or canned tuna. What’s a girl to do? No real mayo, no eggs… Google to the rescue and it gave me Jane’s Healthy Kitchen recipe. Having all the ingredients, I had to try it. I desired to make it Whole 30 compliant, so I withheld sweetener, but all I tasted was the apple cider vinegar. So, I added about a tablespoon of local honey to cut the acid.
My nutrition friend Leigh, crediting ATP Science, added, “the ACV will help manage the insulin response… so that’s a good addition. If you added turmeric in, the vegetable oil will convert to DHEA omega 3 like fish oil.” Definitely try for next time!
When I started the Whole 30, I started it as an experiment with my body. I started it to see if there was any reactions to food that I could weed out. I didn’t start the Whole 30 to see how I used food to confront emotions. In the third week of the challenge – the second week of March – I had a terrible day, and then week, at work. And, in that week, my emotional eating was crystalized.
I had a bad day at work. One bad day turned into a terrible week. I’d like to get into the details, but it’s too personal and too close. I’ve gotten congratulations and compliments on this thread of personal posts, but previous emotional confessions have happened so long ago that there has been time for healing. That is, the emotional incident occurred so long ago that I’ve had time to make sense of the emotions, so sharing the feelings is cathartic and hopefully helpful to others with similar issues. While sharing my feelings on recent incidents could be cathartic and helpful, I’ve also found myself in situations where it became uncomfortable to discuss the thing that happened so recently. So, we’ll leave it at as a bad day that turned into a bad week.
The first bad day, when I came home, the only thing I wanted was a brownie. A rich, fudge, chocolatey brownie. But, I was doing the Whole 30. I was committed to the Whole 30, and sweets are strictly prohibited. There is no cheating, and there is no slipping. To the point you are not to eat fruit if you are craving sugar. So, I resisted.
It was painfully clear though (as if I hadn’t realized it before *hear the sarcasm*) that I am an emotional eater. I take comfort in comfort food when I don’t or cannot deal with whatever emotion surfaces.
I vented, in this instance, to my husband instead. Declaring loudly, “I am an emotional eater!”
So, I’ve known for a long time that I take comfort in comfort food, but it wasn’t until that moment that I knew that was a barrier for me in dealing with emotions. Realizing it, so clearly, because I committed to no cheating through Easter.
Emotions arose, and I could not cheat with a brownie. I had to figure out what was bothering me. It has taken me now maybe 6 weeks to figure out what really bothered me about that bad day and bad week. I figured it out without resorting to sweets to help, but I have not finished my end of the deal – I have not confronted those whose actions I found so offensive. So, I sit on the edge of artificial harmony because I’d rather not go for the jugular.
But, I have realized that I am an emotional eater. And, now this recognition brings choice – to succumb or to confront. And, I can do this, eyes wide open. And, I should thank the Whole 30 for helping to bring about that realization.
How do you deal with difficult emotions? Do you take comfort in rich, chocolatey brownies, or do you face the emotions head on?
Using oils to help my son isn’t something new. I started applying them on me and Levi as soon as I got my first package.
What is surprising, though, is how often I use them in conjunction with helping him find emotion. He got in trouble, again, at school. Sure, part is the age, but part — why can’t he just remember?
Then, I have to consider. It’s taken me how long to learn to identify and name my emotions? And, he is only eight years old? I must give this young one at least a grain of salt.
This particular week, he had two days in a row where he was disrupting his class in some way. His teacher purposefully addresses the outcome that wasn’t met to incite a conversations with parents or care givers. She marks off the one of four student-learning-expectations that were not followed. Often, though, our darling son “cannot remember” what happened.
Levi has a very distinctive “flight” response when he doesn’t want to talk about a thing. He clams up. He freezes. And, he runs away. Usually, he runs to his room.
As he’s gotten older, Peter and I have gotten more stern about telling him to stop, come to us, and try to talk.
I have tried to articulate emotions – attempting to model by showing him through me, like this action makes me MAD. We sometimes try to name what we think he’s feeling, choosing a few different words to see if we land on something that resonates with him.
This particular time, those strategies weren’t working.
So, I went to my oils and grabbed Balance and Citrus Bliss. I told Levi to take his socks off, and we both sat on the living room floor. I grabbed his feet and I massaged a drop each of the oils on each foot. I talked, specifically, about something other than the bad behavior.
Within a few minutes, he started to open up, and he was able to remember that he talked out of turn in class.
I love this power of touch, this power of aroma, this power of these gifts of the Earth.
I needed permission to feel. And, I didn’t have it. I didn’t give it to myself. I didn’t think I could give it to myself. I felt conditioned to be stoic. I felt conditioned to not show emotion. I felt conditioned to put on a happy face and keep plugging through, while recognizing there are ebbs and flows to life. I simply chose not to react to them.
Or so I thought.
Flashing back to a scene long ago where I was in my apartment. My boyfriend was visiting, not saying much, smoking a cigarette at my dining table. I knew the relationship was ending. I played two songs that spoke to my emotional being, passively describing how I felt because I couldn’t vocalize the words. He picked up on what I was trying to tell him. I was trying to tell him I knew something changed, and I knew he no longer cared for me in the same way as when we got together. And, I knew he didn’t want the relationship to last. And, I was deeply, very sad. Though I could not express any of that. Soon after the relationship ended. I was heartbroken. And, I was afraid of being vulnerable about expressing those emotions because I was afraid he would leave, and I would never meet anyone again. I was afraid I would never find love again.
I am still afraid of being vulnerable, but something in my life changed dramatically when I became a mother. Something became incredibly clear as I have watched my son grow up to be a man. I want him to be able to express himself, to use his words, and to be vulnerable with those he cares about. I want him to be able to express when he is unhappy as easily as he could express when he is happy. I want him to be able to tell those he cares about that something they did bugged him, a lot, and he would prefer if they could not do that thing.
The realization sank in – I need to model this behavior. How can I model this behavior? I am stubborn. I won’t admit I made a mistake if I adamantly believe I’m not. I have a tendency to go for the jugular when really provoked, and since I don’t like being mean I tend towards a state of artificial harmony. But that means frustrations come through in the form of passive (aggressive) behavior.
Sure, my son can come into his own with those weaknesses, but I feel like I ought to do my part to teach him a better way. So, what’s this better way?
I need to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. I need to be vulnerable. So, why is vulnerability important?
Brené Brown gives a great TED Talk on why that’s important.
So, I should be vulnerable. But how? First, a therapist, years ago, gave me permission to be mad. Since, I’ve acquainted myself with other coaches and trainers who have reiterated that sentiment. It is okay to feel. It is okay to say no. It is okay to tell people you don’t want or like a thing. I have to remind myself to be compassionate to me. I have to remind myself that I don’t have to be perfect. I have to remind myself to put away the “shoulds” and accept that good enough is okay.
I no longer remember how I got Elevation and Citrus Bliss. I’ve scoured my past invoices, and have resolved they must have been a promotion.
I cannot imagine, though, a life without these two oils.
Previously, I learned I have vitamin B and Vitamin D deficiencies. One test clocked in my Vitamin D at “11”. A friend exclaimed, “What do you have rickets?!”
I haven’t asked for a new vitamin panel, so instead, I go off how I feel. After learning that a symptom of deficiencies in both vitamin B and D can be “low moods”, I was keenly aware of my mood when I decided to stop taking my Walgreens supplements.
But, how was I going to support my moods to get my “cheery” stasis consistent?
I decided to wear Elevation daily, as a deodorant. I also diffuse Citrus Bliss when I am home.
Aside from my husband commenting, the other day, how much he’s appreciated what a good mood I’ve been in the last few weeks, I immediately noticed the difference in our home.
After diffusing Citrus Bliss a few days after that initial package dropped on my doorstep – it was so clear how much “lighter” our moods were. We were more open to talk about whatever – our days, our feelings, what’s for dinner. We were less tense, and the mood in the house was joyful.
It’s amazing, this realization… that bringing plant-based oils into our home has allowed us to be more open. I enjoy the scent, like smelling a fresh rose blooming in a garden. I enjoy watching the moods. I enjoy learning about how the oils can clean our homes, ourselves, our lives.
It’s joyful knowing the empowerment that comes with this oil and all its brothers.
Here are two handy guides on what oils to use for emotional support. Oil users will diffuse these oils, apply them topically, or depending on the oil use them internally to give emotional support. It is important to acknowledge emotions as they arise and address them. People address the emotions in quiet meditation, journaling, prayer, or talking with a close friend or confidante.
Sunday night, Levi went to bed warm. He had woken up even more congested in the morning, and now, compare to Saturday, he had lethargy added to his obvious symptoms. Bedtime came, and he didn’t even fuss.
However, 9pm rolled around and he came out of his room in a confused and delirious state! I had waited for this moment. The moment when my son finally got a fever.
Sure, he had a few mild fevers as a toddler, but so far nothing as a little boy. After we got him to calm down and stay seated (he had got up unsure of where to go, as if there was a fog over any lucid part of his awareness), I found the thermometer. 101.7! It barely took 10 seconds to figure it out!
So, now, empowered with my natural health care remedies, I grabbed my peppermint oil. Levi is accustomed to me slathering him with oils. We use InTune and Balance daily to keep him focused and help moderate moods. We have had mixed success, but he is always compliant and rarely complains.
I told him I was only going to put a drop on his forehead and on the back of his neck. I warned him his eyes might sting. I let him stay up and watch Pokémon, since this 9pm fever waking was to prevent any school attending for Monday.
Around 10pm, I checked his temperature again. 100.4. He was still ebbing in hotness. I applied more peppermint. I let him continue watching TV while I did whatever it is I construed as work.
Around 11pm, I checked his temperature again. He felt a smidge warmer, and sure enough he was. 100.6. I told him I was going to apply more peppermint. In the interim, he had complained twice of tummy troubles, so we had even brought out the DigestZen with immediate results. Now, time for another application of peppermint, he tells me, “I like that one (peppermint); it made my whole head cold.” I replied, “Good, it’s cooling.”
I had heard, I had read, and I had observed with other ailments of my own the cooling effect of peppermint. It was a joy to be able to have such control of an illness, in my home. I didn’t need to call the advice nurse. I just used my instincts and acted with the tools I’ve added.
Levi woke up Monday in a buoyant mood, at 9am. He was staying home to let the illness clear for 24 hours. But, his temp? It was 98.9. Later, we checked it again, and the thermometer read 98.0.
22 pounds, as of three weeks ago (3rd week of March). This is significant for a number of a reasons. I made some changes that I hadn’t previously considered in my diet. I added essential oils to my daily healthcare regimen. And, I am learning, with more awareness, to accept me for who I am.
My whole life, I have disliked my body image. I was never a size 2, and that’s mostly who I compared myself to. I come with baggage that puts me in a statistical category where body image is harder to deal with. A statistical category that says being overweight is more common. I come from central European genes where sturdy people seem to be the norm – with my Polish and Slovenian heritage – read, not a size 2.
Finally, at the age of 27-28, I was learning to love my body and appreciate its curves. I was okay with my D cup and, then, size 12-16 pant size. This change of heart is relevant because growing up, I hated that size. I only viewed it as fat, and I only compared it to the relatives, whom I loved, that also struggled with their weight.
Struggling with weight! What a concept. There is so much in our world, and that we judge each other on this outward appearance is disgusting and shallow. It’s horrifying to consider that we judge health based on someone’s size, and despite the “skinny” backlash when curvy women display themselves unabashadely, skinny isn’t always healthy and curvy isn’t always unhealthy.
Growing up with this stigma, though, that a size 2 is health, and anything over is not, and knowing I could never get back to a size 6, which I only saw during a growth-spurt at age 13 and 14, hung heavily for years, for decades.
I grew up and learned to accept myself in ways my teenage self never could, during my twenties. I started to care less what others thought of me, and I tried to pay attention more to how I showed up. I started to appreciate those hips and arms and other curves.
And, just as I was on the cusp of self-acceptance, I got pregnant. I got pregnant when I was in a new relationship, in a new house, with a new job, trying to finish school. Then, I never gave myself credit for the stress that induced.
Levi was born on time, but with learning to take care of a new family, I was not able to finish that school term. I gained 50 pounds while pregnant, and by my 6 week check-up, I had lost 40. What I didn’t consider was how awful I felt. I was shaking all the time. I couldn’t sleep. My eating was erratic. I was stressed trying to learn to manage everything within this new life: the new home, new husband, and new baby. I am slow, often, to identify what was wrong, and I had no idea an auto-immune disease was wreaking havoc on my body.
In September of 2007, I learned I my thyroid was hyper active, and I self-diagnosed with the help of a 60s nursing textbook that I have Grave’s Disease.
Shortening the timeline, I went from being on the cusp of self-acceptance to completely crashing with struggling to take care of my new son, my new husband, finishing my bachelor’s degree, and maintain a job. The job went away, with the argument the contract ran out. I never asked for help, so I never admitted to my boss how much I was struggling to balance it all.
After the hyper-thyroid diagnosis, more doctor visits, and the addition of medication, my squishy frame that had gotten closer to my pre-pregnancy weight but never as toned or fit as I was in the fall of 2005, the weight gain began. I gained anywhere between 10 and 20 pounds every time my medication changed – slowing down my thyroid, controlling symptoms, and otherwise mucking with body in the name of health. 3 years later, I finally got a paying job. And, again, the weight gain continued. Every time my job got more sedentary, I gained another 10-20 pounds.
Pre-pregnancy, I was 185 pounds. I was a size 14, most of the time, and I felt good even if I hated the weight.
August 2014, I clocked in, again, at 262 pounds, a size 24-26, a size I never wanted to be, hating my body every time I look in the mirror. Hating my body every time it’s uncomfortable to sit down. Hating my body every time it hurt to walk. Hating my body every time I felt passed over for some recognition. Every day, despite the cheery attitude I might have showcased, I was full of hate for myself.
I knew what the lesson was. But, I wasn’t learning it. The lesson is self-acceptance. The lesson is while not being a glutton, while trying to maintain health in the ways I can, that I need to learn to love these unsightly curves.
I have not learned this lesson. This is an ongoing lesson. This could be a lifetime lesson for me.
So, how can I do self-acceptance in a body I am conditioned to hate and have grown to hate with ebbs and flows of growing up to an adult woman dealing with the effects of an auto-immune disease?
First, I recognize, or try to remind myself that my husband doesn’t hate my body. Second, I try to appreciate or accept the things this body can and still does for me. Even though it was hard to walk, I could. Even though it was uncomfortable siting down, I managed. Even though… Mostly, I might find myself intervening if someone else says something about how they hate their own body. Usually it’s a woman, but sometimes it’s a man. No one is satisfied with how they look. We don’t often talk about how our minds work, it’s more about how our bums look in a pair of pants.
And, I really think we need to accept how our bums look, no matter what our conditioning has told us. Lesson: learning self-acceptance.
It’s my birthday, and I’m throwing a party! Okay, clarification, it was my birthday, but I’m still throwing a party. Come join me at the Lucky Lab Tap Room on Friday, September 13th. Join me and raise money for CAT!
Why do I want to raise money for CAT? What is CAT? CAT is The Community Alliance of Tenants, Oregon’s only renters’ rights organization. I’ve spent a lot of time there, over the last five years, because I firmly believe that societal change begins at home. And, that’s what CAT does – we empower renters to make sure they have safe, stable, and affordable homes.
It is our job to make sure we leave this world in a better place. I believe this world would be a better place if we could all realize our potential. I believe in Maslow’s Hierarchy of achieving self-actualization – our potential – but it starts with taking care of basic needs. And basic needs start with having enough to eat, enough to wear, and a safe home to call home.
I am celebrating my 35th year by raising $3,500 for this organization I love. And, I am celebrating at the Lucky Lab Tap Room. Don’t worry, if you don’t live in the area, there are plenty of ways to give! Donate to the organization I love, and help make my dream of raising $3,500 come true. Change starts at home. At CAT, we make good renters. Good renters make good communities, and good communities support one another to make our entire society better, more understanding, and more loving. At CAT, we make positive change a reality.