Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Oils are yummy #31days

Let me state the obvious: By October 31st I will not have written for 31 days on self-care. That is okay though. I am learning self-compassion as I lean more into self-care. If I was extremely hard on myself and acted like this was another deadline in my life, that would be a little counterintuitive right?

About a year ago I was in Minnesota for one of my best friend’s weddings as a bridesmaid. As most wedding weeks go, it was crazy, high stress and a bit chaotic. I was starting to come down with a cold and it was then that the maid of honor introduced me to the wonderful world of essential oils Londa is a massage therapist and had brought with her to our hotel suite a huge bag full of essential oils. I took some oil concoction she created for me and within a couple days my cold was gone! At the time I was without health insurance and so I figured this was one way for me to invest in my health that didn’t include a large urgent care bill. Rather I hoped it would be preventative for me. Also if you know me you know that I smell everything I touch. When I go into libraries I sniff books. I sniff the smell of glossy magazines. You all know now my love for the smell of rain. When I was in 5th grade I would pull out my neighbors rubber cement and sniff it (yeah….about that) Anyway I love my candles and I love my essential oils because they smell amazing! If things don’t smell good I can easily lose my appetite. All I can do is perseverate on how to get rid of that awful smell!

Here is a quick list of some of my favorite essential oils I do indeed possess.

Lavender: If you came to my wedding (aka at a lavender farm) you know how passionate I am about lavender. Lavender is the most versatile of all essential oils. Lavender is an adaptogen which means it helps the body adapt to stress or imbalances. It is great before bed in a sleep spray or in a bath. I use it just about every night. It can also be used to cleanse cuts, bruises and skin irritations. I have about 4-5 lavender essential oils running around, a few in the bedroom, a few in the bathroom and one at my office. It is seriously the best.

Peppermint: This is another of my favorites. It is one of the oldest and most highly regarded herbs for soothing digestion. I use this if I feel nausea or if I feel a migraine coming on. A combination of peppermint, lavender and eucalyptus is especially helpful in reducing headache pain. Peppermint has been known to improve concentration and mental sharpness so it's not something I take before I sleep but definitely if I feel a migraine sneaking up on me mid-afternoon it's a winner. 

Lemon: This can be used for a lot of different things. It can be added to water to enhance flavor or added to food (however make sure it’s an edible essential oil, some aren’t) Lemon can be paired with other essential oils to help with colds and sinues. You can make a facemask and include lemon as it’ s known to be beneficial to the skin. I like to pair it with Clove. 

Clove: This essential oil has immune enhancing properties. When I start to feel a cold coming on or a sore throat I’ll combine the Clove and Lemon, dilute them with some oil and swallow them in a pill or put them on my neck and massage it into my skin.

Orange: Supposedly this essential oil brings peace and happiness to the mind. I don’t know how true this is but I’ll take it. Besides it smells great! It is rich in the powerful antioxidant d-limonene and aids in maintaining normal cellular regeneration.

The great thing about essential oils is once you have a few and know a little you can start combining them. I combined my lavender and orange into a spray for a fun aroma. I also have lavender and rosemary which is really great for joint pain relief. I use Peppermint and Wintergreen for muscle soreness as well.

So there you have it, my self-care practice for the day. Hope you consider giving it a try too :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Celebrating is a priority #31days

Recently I have been on a Darling kick. This magazine is good. And by good I mean absolutely awesome. Since I’ve also been on a Kinfolk kick I headed to Anthropologie the other night to buy the latest issue only to find they didn’t have it but they did have the latest issue of Darling. I am so proud there is a magazine out there that encourages women to celebrate being women without the objectification, degradation. Beauty apart from vanity and influence apart from manipulation, style apart from materialism. We can be full of wit and wisdom. We can create beauty and embody love...

I am just SO excited for a magazine that is not about losing pounds, the latest diet and how to look perfect without “trying” at all. While it is quite a bit more expensive than a celebrity gossip magazine I assure you it’s worth it (my brain tells me so)

Anyway tonight I am celebrating. I am celebrating that it is Thursday night and that the weekend is almost here. I am celebrating my cider candles. I am celebrating that Scott made a breaded parmesan chicken dinner for me. I am celebrating that we are sharing space as we read books and magazines (and blog!) I am celebrating that the moon looked HUGE tonight. I am celebrating that my hair stylist is a block from my apartment and that I can walk to her and visit my friends while they get their hair done. I am celebrating the orange and yellow flowers Scott brought me the other day when I had a headache. I am celebrating having bold conversations this week, sitting through hours of grueling training, passing and not failing, and emailing people I think are cooler than me. I am celebrating my new soft shirt that has an Owl wearing glasses that I got at Target today for 6 bucks on my lunch break.

I don’t need a birthday or a holiday to celebrate. Today is enough. This moment is enough.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

When candles don't work #31days

I have some days where I really love practicing self-care. I have other days where it doesn’t feel like I have time. I have days where I feel so discouraged and defeated I feel that nothing will help me. I had a gray day this week. It seemed that my usual things that helped lift my spirit weren’t working. Usually buying candles, or drinking some strong coffee can do the trick. When that doesn’t work, I go to journaling or doing some art. Painting brings color and life to my soul. It feels like my insides are being released when I do art.

Somedays however no matter what I do, it’s just not turning my world cheery.  I had a strong desire to color the other day so I bought a box of crayons and Scott printed out some fall coloring sheets for me (complete with pumpkins and scarecrows) And yes, I used to be a nanny (once a nanny, always a nanny in heart) Scott and I walked to get ice-cream this afternoon too and I had a double scoop with my favorite, chocolate chip cookie dough in a homemade waffle cone. Even though these things are great and take the edge off of my mood it is what it is today.

So I decided to pray.  Praying is a form of self-care that doesn’t always produce immediate results as I would want or hope. It doesn’t suddenly make me feel better. It doesn’t make me healthy inside instantly. It doesn’t change a lot of things in fact. At least from what I can see.

The thing is though for years and years people have prayed. I somehow trust this tradition. Something in my gut tells me that all my prayers are heard. My grandma was a woman who prayed all the time.  She would call my family and I and take our prayer requests. This time of year reminds me of her because she would always send me an obnoxiously orange and adorable Halloween card in the mail with cash to buy myself some candy. She did this no matter how old I got. She loved fall and she loved Halloween. She was the first to decorate her house and the first to buy way too much candy for all trick-or-treaters in her neighborhood and to put on a pointy black hat. 

I miss her.

But I just have this feeling that she is up celebrating fall with Jesus and experiencing all of her prayers answered that she wrote down on all her crinkly papers scattered all over her house here on earth.

My grandma was a bit of a worrier. I know people say you can't worry and pray simultaneously but I would just like to say I am a really good multi-tasker and I think my grandma was too. I would also like to note that we are human and sometimes I am just really anxious. But damn it, I am still going to pray.

Tonight I am praying through Ephesians 3:17-19. I am praying that the Anointed One would reside in my heart, that my love might be rich soil where my life can truly take root. I am praying that love will be the bedrock where my life is founded. I am praying that I will understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, deep, surpassing everything. This love sets me free and keeps me safe. I am praying this love gives me hope and faith. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Walking with splashy puddles #31days

Walking with splashy puddles

I love LOVE rainy days.

In San Diego I hold rainy days very close to my heart. I want to hoard them like I do my chocolate in our snack cupboard. This past summer has been hot (to me that is) I have become weary of sleeping with no covers, windows open, fan on every night. I am also over wearing shorts and sandals. I want to wear boots and scarves. It has been so dusty and dry here like an old piece of bread.

Finally today it rained! There is nothing like rain to me. The way it looks. The way it smells. It leaves the world looking more shiny and sparkly than before. Everything gleams with an afterglow. The leaves carry translucent water droplets. The skies look ominous and gray. The clouds are jumpy and puffy. Today there was a rainbow. The roads become sleek and silver. Sometimes after the rain, the sky turns baby blue and the sun peeks out causing lamp posts and bushes to shimmer.

Today after work I decided to take a walk around my neighborhood. I wasn’t sure if I had time because I needed to make dinner so I could make a Yoga class. But I just loved that the weather was finally a 57 degrees or so. I put on scarf and zipped up my boots and went out to encounter the magical “after rain” world.

I found great delight in the puddles and the ways the greens on plants looked even greener. I breathed in the fresh air. Most people feel bad for me when I tell them on my honeymoon in Italy it rained almost every day. But to me it was romantic, cozy and whimsical.

I grew up in the Midwest with really intense thunderstorms, the kind that cause your electricity to go out. The kind that involve you and your family camping out in the basement because of tornado watches. It’s weird that this feels nostalgic to me in a happy kind of way. Sometimes my sisters and I would go run out in the rain and get soaked just because we could. Other times our family would stay inside by candle light and flashlight due to the electricity situation.  Rain feels free and safe to me. It seems these two things are so contradictory in the way we go about achieving them.

It seems to me that free would involve letting go, risking more, daring more. To be free is to be released. To experience freedom one is  no longer confined or controlled.

But to be safe one would expect more caution, more structure, more confinement perhaps. To be safe is to be protected and often that means not being exposed to danger or risk.

So it seems like an juxtaposition position that I would actually experience the feeling of freedom and safety simultaneously when it rains.

But I do.

I guess it’s just nice to know that rain takes care of me in that way.  Sometimes when I am tired and worn out of practicing self-care (because it takes so much intentionality to be there for myself) it’s a mysterious and lovely thing when rain shows up and is just there for me. It reminds me of Someone else I know. :)

Monday, October 7, 2013

31 days of Self-Care days 5 & 6

Since I missed yesterday I thought I would talk about two ways I took care of myself today. Monday is a hard day for me. It means the weekend is over. I have to go back to work. I have to get up early. Somehow I start off Monday already feeling behind.

One thing I have started scheduling on Monday after work once or twice a month is a massage. GREAT DECISION. This helps me look forward to my Mondays. I found a way to make it cost effective by finding a great deal on Groupon and I buy them in packages so they aren’t as expensive AND I can plan them and look forward to them since I have already essentially paid for the massage.

My massage therapist is amazing. She is tiny in physique but not in strength. My muscles are extremely tight and she is thankfully really strong. She does aromatherapy and deep tissue. Today I had my massage and was just so thankful to have time to relax. She used lavender and peppermint to help me breathe deeper. I decided it would be a good opportunity to practice gratitude so I mentally took notes of the things I was thankful for today:

  1. My massage therapist
  2. Large pumpkins
  3. I finished all my progress notes!
  4. Scott
  5. My clinical supervisor
  6. Compassion
  7. A home that makes me feel safe
  8. Prosciutto
  9. My friends that host and invite me into the intimate details of their life
  10. The sound of a fan

I felt like with each passing breath I was creating more room for joy as I thought of all I am grateful for. The list could go on and on but sometimes I like to sit on a couple things I am really thankful for. I want to be present with my joy and not race to the next thing on my list.  Gratitude and massage therapy are two ways I practiced self-care today. What are you grateful for this Monday?