Valentine’s Day is here and that probably means one of two things. Either you are excited for a fun romantic date out with your loved one or you’re preparing for Galentine’s. (My “Galentine’s” will be co-leading a book discussion on Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness.) Did you read my newsletter this month? Well, I talked a lot about self-care, so another thing you can do for Valentine’s is to simply love yourself. When I get home from the book discussion, after I put the kiddo in bed, after I get ready for tomorrow, I fully plan on turning on a favorite show and a favorite diffuser blend while I pamper myself. This is one of my favorite things to do. Here are more ways for you to explore “Pamper Days”:
Epsom Salt Bath: This will help detox and destress you from your everyday life plus it will help soothe your muscles. I gave my feet an Epsom salt bath last week after the kiddo’s birthday party.
Sugar Lip Scrub: Growing up, I had the most terrible chapped lips that were always peeling so this is something I like to do on a routine basis to help my lips stay smooth and soft.
Clay Facial Mask: This is made with Bentonite clay which has a ton of nourishing properties for your skin to get you back to glowing.
Strawberry-Lime Sugar Scrub: This is one that will make your skin as soft as a baby’s bottom. It also helps your skin feel bright and fresh.
Bergamot Foot Mask: Feet should not be out of mind just because they might be out of sight. Don’t forget to show them a little love too.
Let’s talk about research for a hot minute. It took me 12 years to get my bachelor’s degree. I ended my time, transferred to Portland State University, submerged in 400 level courses where we looked at primary sources for – well – everything. Something in my view changed, and I cared less about secondary sources, and now, whenever I read something, I’m scrounging for their primary sources where they formulated their opinions.
This thinking, now ingrained in my soul, was shaken to its core while helping my fifth grader with his homework the other week. He was working on a research project. (The fifth grade got a sink or swim project in research, you know, thrown in the deep end, then given a life raft.) We worked on this over a course of several weeks, doing research first, then weeks later putting it together in his presentation. My darling fifth grader, when I probed him for his sources, said, “I don’t know, I guess I just knew it. I don’t know how it got in my head.”
It’s moments like these that test my patience and help me grow as a person. I’m sure my deep sigh, intake of breath, is an alert that momma is not pleased. I tried so hard to say in the nicest way possible that he got the information from somewhere, though I am sure irritation and a little disgust eked through. He is surviving, and I think it’s okay to show our distasteful emotions so children know adults have them too. Showing these emotions also alerts both of us a boundary has been breached! After we worked through it, he remembered all the sources, and we were able to properly document his project.
That said, if you’re following me on Facebook, you may be wondering – where the heck is your sourcing Michelle? You say all these things, what did you just miraculously materialize the info? Short answer – no. Yet, I don’t make space to source my posts within the posts. So, I’m going to give you my annotated bibliography here.
The Sources I Use
I have curated this collection of sources for the last three to four years. Some of these are secondary, yet still useful. I am always on the hunt for primary sources to better describe how the chemistry works with our human bodies. Here is my list of current essential oil education research.
Emotions & Essential Oils: a Reference Guide for Emotional Healing, 6th Edition (Enlighten Healing, LLC, 2017)
Though I got into the oils because of how they can positively support my health, I turn to the emotional aspect even more. This concise book works through all the single oils and blends I use describing their emotional aspects with a short story, a summary of positive and negative effects, and handy tables and indexes to guide my research.
Essentials of the Earth, 7th Edition (EoEBooks, 2017)
This small, spiral bound book works like an encyclopedia of oils and issues. Everything is in alphabetical order, it’s concise, and gives a range of oils to use for any issue. This also has a corresponding app for your phone.
Fritz, Stephanie, Essential Oils for Pregnancy, Birth & Babies, 2nd Edition (Gently Born Productions, 2015)
In my oil community, this gem is the go-to resource for anything pregnancy related. Stephanie goes through the oils, how they can support all phases of pregnancy and postpartum. If you know someone expecting, definitely check out this book.
Gillerman, Hope, Essential Oils Every Day: Rituals and Remedies for Healing, Happiness, and Beauty (HarperCollins, 2016)
Essential Oils Every Day is new to me, acquired from my local bookstore (Powell’s). I am enjoying learning through this very different resource than I have previously acquired. She goes through different oils offering various blends and use ideas with some wisdom along the way on how to generally use essential oils.
Lawless, Julie, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Oils in Aromatherapy and Herbalism (Element Books, 1995)
I purchased this book at my local bookstore (Powell’s) while acquiring a few others. I chose to get this older version, Julia had a newer version, because I wanted to show that the way we talk about essential oils has a few decades of history under its belt. This book, this encyclopedia has beautiful drawings and images of the oils and their respective plants. She offers good summaries of a variety of oils and interesting ways to use them.
Mangandog, Desiree, LAc, MSTOM, I Am Fabulous: Blends for Emotional Well-Being (Bear Nature, LLC / DNA Essentials Inc., 2017)
Are you stuck? Feeling down? Hoping to get more magic in your life? Desiree, a student of Chinese medicine for over 13 years, has compiled this book of blends to address a myriad of emotions we experience daily. Check out her protocols and blends. For more information, see all her offerings at www.desireemangandog.com.
Modern Essentials: a Contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils, 7th Edition (AromaTools, 2015)
This was my first essential oil book purchase. I was drawn to its amazing summary of oil history, how they are produced and tested, and its beautiful index of issues, wonderfully cross-referenced. In between, the publishers go through all the oils I use starting with singles and then blends. This is by far my favorite book as an all-in-one reference for the oils I use daily, some background on their chemical makeup, and some amazing insights on how the oils can support my physical and emotional health.
Schnaubelt, Kurt, PhD, The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils: The Science of Advanced Aromatherapy (Healing Arts Press, 2011)
This was my first purchase outside my oil community. This book does a great job of explaining why I’m okay with using oils internally, topically (and neat sometimes), and aromatically. Dr. Schnaubelt breaks up his book in sections where he discusses understanding the language of plants, exploring authentic essential oils, and healing with essential oils. The latter portion is great if you’re looking for general protocols and guidance.
The Essential Life: A Simple Guide to Living the Wellness Lifestyle, 2nd Edition (Total Wellness Publishing, 2015)
Total Wellness Publishing launched their first edition in 2014 or early 2015. I gave that copy away! This is an amazing compliment to the Modern Essentials book and offers more for those more motivated by beautiful pictures. This book breaks down oil use by body system and offers a lot of uses for around the house. It is an amazing resource and one of my go-tos as I conduct this “a year of oils” campaign.
Worwood, Valerie Ann, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, 25th Anniversary Edition (New World Library, 2016)
I picked up this resource to engage more third-party ideas of how to use oils. I wanted another voice to explain different ways of diluting, different use, and get a sense of oils not in my collection. I have not been disappointed. Valerie does an incredible comprehensive job of detailing all the many ways we can use essential oils and offering many blends and protocols for anything you could think of.
Monday night initiated the 2018 Empowered Life series. This event, unlike the others, was a paid event. We were blessed to hear the insights and knowledge of Desiree Mangandog. This was the first time I saw her live, though I finally acquired her book during the 2017 Convention.
Desiree has quite the loving, inspired reputation among my essential oil community. She is known to assess the energy of a room, immediately. As such, I loved how she started this “Healers Workshop” with diving right into our auric field.
Desiree walked us through various ways to shore up our boundaries, in a healthful, managed way, while being open to creating our own loving tribe just for us. All the while sprinkling in her wisdom gleaned from years of study.
She walked us through managing our auric field to learning about the energy hooks we receive and leave on those we encounter. We did a beautiful exercise of removing those energy hooks, repairing the cracks, and reinforcing our boundaries. We left with a three-week protocol to establish our boundary so we can share our gifts and love with the world. I applied this blend of petitgrain and melaleuca multiple times Tuesday.
In teaching us how to clear things – she went through the thinking that we need to 1) clear out the bad, 2) be open to the good, and 3) harmonize. The last piece, she repeated, often, was essential to support good rhythmic flow.
Desiree walked us through how the ego affects us. I loved that we spent a little bit of time here discussing symptoms to look for when the ego is bruised, such as: worrying about our bodies, time, or what’s going on around us (environment). She encouraged us to be mission-centered, believing in and staying connected with the divine (infinite love, wisdom, gifts). Previously when she presented here, she stopped addressing source as God because she sensed the attendees weren’t open to it. Monday, she simply said, “I don’t work that way, and I don’t understand that thinking.” I was endeared how she called the elephant out with her beliefs and how they might conflict with those in the room.
We also spent time removing limitations, though she cautioned we may have a tough time on Tuesday. I did do this protocol during the event, so was sure to apply helichrysum multiple times to offset any challenges. While discussing limitations, she brought up a common oil use of wild orange. We oilers often cling to its emotional properties, the oil of abundance. She cautioned us though – if we are submerged in limitations when we use wild orange, we may be inviting an abundance of limitations. So, clear your limitations first, then use your wild orange for abundance.
So many blends, and so many protocols for getting in touch with the divine, clearing residual energies, listening to our hearts, and more. This workshop was well worth the $30 (ish) price tag. (The event time/location is usually free). We walked away with so much information. After I finish checking over this post, I’ll be making my own labels to get my stash of rollers ready for when I need them.
In anything, especially network marketing, when you are a part of a thing, you are often a part of a larger thing. The larger essential oil community I belong to hosts monthly events in downtown Portland. On the third Monday of the month, we have free education to help us all learn more about essential oils. The 2018 topics and dates are set, and I am so excited. These events get better and better every year! Let’s live this empowered life, together!
I Am Empowered: A Healer’s Workshop
Desiree Manandog, MS
Natural Solutions for Empowered, Healthy Living
Aisha Harley & Josie Schmidt, ND
Taming the Tiger: The Trinity of Frankincense, Copaiba, Siberian Fir
Josie Schmidt, ND; Will Wan, MSOM, LAc; Micaela Coria-Carew, ND, LAc
Home Detox: Simple, Healthy Home & Personal Care Solutions
Stephanie king, BS, Exercise Science, Personal Trainer
Microbiome & Gut Health
Rachel Hess, LMT, ND
Cancer: Integrative Care for the Body, Mind & Soul
JoDee M Anderson, MD, MEd; Elizabeth McElligott, ND
Addiction & Recovery
Oils for Healing Trauma: From Stress to PTSD
Louise Rose, ND
Unlocking the Mighty Mitochondria: Enhancing Brain Health & Function
Jennifer Tufenkian, ND
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?
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.”
A few weeks ago, I ran out of lotion. I sort of despise going to the store to buy new personal care products. The labels confuse me. I don’t understand all the ingredients, what I need, why, what it’s good for. The longer and more chemically the name sounds, it raises more red flags than I care to admit.
So, my lotion ran out. But, I have sensitive skin that needs routine hydration. I have autoimmune issues that exacerbate that sensitive skin, so no matter how hot or cold or wet or dry it is outside, I need hydration for my skin.
What’s a girl to do? Well, not unlike my cooking, I went for whole ingredients. Herein lies the confusion, how do you make lotion? Why do you need certain ingredients.
Confession: I love to read and I love to research. But, if it’s not easily understood, then I pass. In college, I loved digesting complex ideas and trying to understand them. As my son has grown, and my family and I have settled into these roles, though, I find the more complex something is the more of a turn off it is.
So, when looking at a recipe, I found I want simple, easy to understand, just like my cooking desire of 5 ingredients or less.
Lotion added water. Body butter was straight plant fats, which meant simpler though there was a bit in the process. I opted for the body butter, because the whole thing felt simpler. Comparing some recipes, the ratio seemed to be 1 part plant oil to two parts plant butter, and for every 1 cup of body butter about 10 drops of essential oil. I decided on my amounts not unlike making soap. You figure out how much you want in an end product, and adjust accordingly. I figured 3 cups of finished product would be enough. And, I then proceeded to make about 4 cups! (Oops!)
Recipe & Technique
1 bowl filled with ice
1 bowl, smaller, to nest in iced bowl later
I crockpot for slow melting of fats
Container(s) for finished product
A stick blender for mixing
1 cup mango butter
1 cup shea butter
1 cup coconut oil (counting as a butter because of consistency)
A few shavings of coconut butter
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup jojoba oil
10 drops clary sage
10 drops geranium
10 drops lavender
I found this didn’t scent my body butter as much as I wanted. Next time, I’ll up the geranium and lavender to 15 or 20 drops each. And, next time, I’ll maybe have ⅔ cup each of the mango and shea butters and coconut oil.
Add all plant butters and oils (except essential oils) to your crockpot. Put on low, and let sit until all oils are melted. One blogger noted that letting her oils melt together for 20 minutes refined them enough that the finished product wasn’t grainy. I forgot about my crockpot for a bit, so my oils sat for nearly two hours. Note, many recipes instruct you to use a double boil method. I don’t like it. Something about the steam and hot bowls that turns me off. I found the crockpot method works best for my “fix it and forget it” world.
When the oils are sufficiently melted together, you now need to cool them. After they had been in the ice bath for about 5 minutes, I added my essential oils and I began mixing with my stick blender. I didn’t have enough ice, so while I was using my blender to mix up the oils, I noticed it wasn’t coming together as well as I liked. I refrigerated the mixture for about an hour. Some recipes skip the ice bath and say to refrigerate for 2 hours.
I compared the process to making a meringue or whipped cream. The oils cooling, the mixing to change the texture, it felt the same. So, that’s what I used as my guide to know when I was done. Once the oils were cool enough, whipping them up was quite fast. The yellow color quickly changed to the thick white you see pictured above. I made enough to fill that container plus another.
About the Essential Oils
The oil of clarity and vision, it gives courage to see the truth, see limiting beliefs, encourages openness to new ideas and perspectives. The body system affected by clary sage is largely the hormonal system, which is why it can help balance hormones and soothe monthly discomfort associated with menstrual cycles. Clary sage also soothes nervous tension and lightens mood. I chose it for this body butter because of it’s calming properties and how it is soothing to the skin.
The oil of love and trust. Need I say anymore? It seems so obvious to me that for something I am putting on my body, it should absolutely include proving love, trust, and emotional healing. Geranium can even encourage forgiveness, and it fosters human love and connection. Geranium primarily supports emotional balance and skin. With skin, it promotes clear, healthy skin. It can also helps calm nerves and lessen stress. And, as a bonus, it supports liver health! We like to say, with using essential oils there are side benefits.
Lavender is widely known for and used for its calming and relaxing qualities. But, did you know that it’s also the oil of communication? While it can soothe occasional skin irritations, helps skin recover quickly, and even ease muscle tension it can also promote emotional balance. It encourages positive emotions of open communication, being released, expressive with emotional honesty, and being heard.
I am not consistent with diffusing in the early hours to set the tone of my house. But, I’d be remiss to leave the house without my trusty oils by my side. Essential oils have the power to support moods, whole body health, and sometimes they just smell good. So, over the last several months, I’ve gotten in the habit of using ClaryCalm (the women’s monthly blend) and Whisper (the women’s blend) with coconut oil as my deodorant. This fragrance, by fair, gets the most comments. A day doesn’t go by when I wear these two oils that someone asks, “What is that smell?” or, “What are you wearing?” It took me a long time to admit that it was me!
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.