I don’t mention my business very often on this blog, because books and reading are so much fun to write about. But because some of you have shown interest in aromatherapy, herbalism, Ayurveda, etc., I wanted to share this update.
Today I closed my Etsy shop. Although it was a good place to learn about online marketing, I’ve known for a while that I would eventually leave. The algorithm is always being changed. The fees keep going up. And the policies grow ever more restrictive.
But, I kept hanging on for the sake of my faithful customers, with hopes that perhaps things would improve. But yesterday I received an email about an update to their “Prohibited Items Policy” that would impact most of my listings. I was informed that as of March 2nd, I would no longer be able to say that my products could sanitize or disinfect, had any antibacterial, antiviral, or antimicrobial properties or could in any way prevent or protect from flu, virus, bacteria, etc.
As an aromatherapist and herbalist, I know that many essential oils and herbs do have antibacterial and antiviral qualities. They can clean the air or surfaces. They can build immune strength and are effective allies that help the body to defend itself against colds and flus. This is not just my opinion, but a growing number of scientific studies continue to show that plant medicine can be very effective.
I realize Etsy is trying to protect themselves from legal action, and that’s their choice. My choice is to stay true to myself and the products that I make. So I closed my Etsy shop and will now focus solely on my Delicata House shop, which is what I want to do anyway.
So that’s my story on this snowy winter evening. I hope you are staying warm and well, wherever you are!
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you. This helps run the blog ad-free. Thank you!
Today on Instagram Live (watch video below), I shared some herbal, Ayurvedic, and aromatherapy remedies for keeping your sinuses healthy through the winter. If you live in place that experiences cold winters, you probably have indoor heating. This can dry out your sinuses quite a bit, which can lead to sinus congestion, sinus pain, nosebleeds, and even ear pressure/congestion/pain.
Allergies can also irritate your sinuses. Mold, dust mites, or animal dander could exacerbate this problem. I invested in a good air purifier a few years back, a suggestion of the allergy doctor I go to. As long as I keep the filters clean and change them when needed, it helps to lessen allergy symptoms. I also diffuser essential oil blends that are beneficial for sinus and immune health…you can read through the list of some of my favorites below.
Ayurveda recommends using oil in the nose (and ears) during the cold, dry months. You can purchase a Nasya oil from an Ayurvedic brand like Banyan Botanicals, (US only), but you can also use any plain vegetable oil you have on hand: olive, sunflower, coconut, avocado…All you do is take a little oil on your pinky finger and gently massage it into the inside of your nose several times per day.
There are also many essential oils that will support sinus health and keep your breathing open and clear.
My list of favorites includes:
Scotch Pine (or any pine)
Black Spruce, White Spruce
Siberian Fir, Silver Fir (any fir)
How do I use essential oils this time of year? Mostly, I diffuse them. I have diffusers in my bedroom, on my desk, and in the kitchen. I highly recommend the cool-mist water diffusers, especially during the winter months, because they add some much needed moisture to the air.
But another great way to use essential oils for sinus health is with an inhaler. It looks a bit like a lipstick tube and has a cotton wick inside which you can apply drops of essential oils onto and then breathe it in as often as you’d like. You can also get a cotton ball or cotton pad, apply drops to that, and hold it up to your nose.
This month, I am working on letting go of resentment, unforgiveness, guilt, and other negative mindsets that have weighed me down for too long. As someone who went through a midlife upheaval three and half years ago, I had some stuff I was carrying and I knew it was time to lay it down. (I created the October Release Set for this reason.)
You also may have woken up one day recently and decided it was time (like I did), or you may have been working on letting stuff go for years. If you’ve just started this journey, you’re in good company. And as long as you set your intention and are moving toward letting go, that’s all you need to do. Whether it takes a moment or years will be your individual story.
You may receive talk therapy or counseling through all or part of your journey. You may keep a journal. You may read books to help you understand the process. You may join a group. You will find that taking long walks, gardening, and just being in nature will help you heal.
So what steps am I taking, you ask? As a support to my own process, gardening has been a very healing experience. To engage in a reciprocal relationship with the earth, to care for plants, to give back has helped my soul to mend. The trees and herbs especially, with their gentle strength, have been my plant companions during this rather quiet year.
One book on this very subject is The Wild Remedy: How Nature Mends Us by Emma Mitchell. It’s a month-by-month look at how one woman experienced nature’s healing as she struggled with depression. This book has beautiful watercolor and natural flat lay collections throughout, and the writing makes you want to be in the English countryside with her. Oh, and the book starts with the month of October so it’s a brilliant time to read it!
What else am I doing besides spending time with nature? I’m taking my Oregano Flower Essence every day and using the Release essential oil blend. Why? Because, as I mentioned above, plants can aid us as we heal emotionally and mentally.
Cypress (one of the oils in the Release blend) has particularly been a close ally over the past several years since my divorce. Whenever I’ve been overwhelmed by sadness, I have used Cypress in my diffuser with a few other oils such as comforting Lavender, cheerful Sweet Orange or Grapefruit, and grounding Vetiver. And within a half hour, the cloud lifts and my outlook on life is much more positive.
The other intentional action I’m taking is that every day in the mirror I speak out what I am releasing and who I am forgiving (including myself). As new hurts come up, I do my best to deal with them right away, rather than adding them to the pile. Because new hurts will come up, particularly with close family or friends…(I am NOT talking about abuse, just everyday interactions with family members that can cause hurt.)
Another extremely helpful action I took this month was to read Desmond Tutu’s The Book of Forgiving to gain some insight into the process. He lists four steps on the path to forgiveness: Telling the Story, Naming the Hurt, Granting Forgiveness, and Renewing or Releasing the Relationship. It was helpful for me to learn that we can straddle two steps, or go forward and then go backward as we work through the process. It can be short or it can take months or years for this process to be accomplished. It’s different for everyone and we can take all the time we need.
As you work on your own inner healing, know that you are surrounded by others who are walking the same path you. Get counseling if you can, read books, talk to a spiritual director or other mentor, journal, wrap your arms around the maple in your backyard, put plants on your windowsill and flowers on your table. And most of all, be kind to yourself.
*Affiliate Links: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you.This helps with the costs of running the blog ad-free.
We were getting ready to drive to a music gig near Keuka Lake, filling water bottles, ironing clothes, and packing snacks when I spotted the mail basket. I rifled through the pile and came across a letter addressed to me from the U.S. District Court. Oh no!!! (Oh, yes.) It was a jury summons–but this was worse than usual: for a period of at least a year, several times per month, an hour and a half drive each way.
At the moment I felt like freaking out, but we had a three-hour performance that afternoon, so I read it over once and set my freak-out aside until after our show. By the evening, my chest felt tight, by the end of the next day, I had a sore throat and my shoulders and neck were sore with tension.
I filled in the online questionnaire and gave a valid excuse why I couldn’t serve (my business can’t survive without me), but I have to wait three weeks to find out if I still have to go.
So, now I have a choice to make: I can live each moment until then in fear, worry, upset, dread, and panic, or I can find ways to act and think differently–with positivity, joy, and courage.
Gretchen Rubin’s Third Commandment from her Happiness Project is “Act the way you want to feel”. Does that seem too much like “Fake it till you make it”? But think about it: Where will those good feelings come from if we don’t take the energy we have and transform it into something better?
If you don’t happen to wake up happy and positive each day, do you just let that dark cloud of gloom hanging over you ruin your whole day? I’ve absolutely been guilty of this. I’ve also had days where I wake up super negative but do the things I know will propel me out of my funk.
The first scenario is a passive one: I just go with whatever happens, just feel whatever feelings I feel and act however I feel. The second scenario is active: I take what I have and make something better out of it. Do you know these are both decisions?
You and I can either decide that we will let our feelings run us OR we can decide that we will run our feelings. You are more powerful that you realize! You have the power to make or break your day!
But what about if you’re already an anxious person (like I am) and you happen to be in an extremely anxious season? The Fall seems to heighten anxiety for me and I know I’m not alone. We don’t have to take it! (Does this remind you of a certain Twisted Sister song?)
I wanted to share a list of things that help me calm down. Some of these I am learning in Ayurveda School, some of them I’ve learned in the HSP class I’ve been taking, some I’ve learned as an aromatherapist, and some I’ve discovered on my own. They all help, but there’s just one catch: We have to actually do the things!
Visualize how you want your day to go, walk through any known difficulties and decide how you will handle them. (Thanks, Brendon Burchard, for your awesome High Performance Planner!)
Develop a daily yoga practice. It could be 5 minutes or 90 minutes, but practice. There is nothing else like it for calming the mind, connecting the mind and body, and grounding you.
Drink herbal tea/coffee substitute. You know what? I don’t love most herbal teas, but I drink it because it calms me down. Lemon balm has been daily go-to. However, I just found a new caffeine free gluten free herbal tea that satisfies my coffee craving without the jitters. If you’re a coffee nut like I wish I could still be, you gotta try it: Teeccino Dandelion Coconut Roasted Herbal Tea.
Go for a walk outside. I always feel refreshed and my nervous system feels soothed when I do.
Eat lots of plants.
Have a gratitude practice. This could be in your journal in the morning or at night.
Keep a positives journal. This is new to me, but the teacher of the HSP class said sensitive people focus on the negative too much and need positive things to keep them grounded. Make notes of what good things happen in a day, things you love, moments of happiness, and then read through these when you’re feeling anxious.
Read poetry. YES!!! If you think you don’t like poetry, start with children’s poems and approachable poets like Mary Oliver and David Whyte. Poetry speaks to and nourishes the soul, the emotions I would say that if you’re a sensitive person, like I am, you may not be able to read some poetry that tends to be chaotic, angry, and violent. I tend to gravitate toward poems that express reverence for nature and that speak to the inner life of a person. These are a good place to begin:
Get a massage whenever you can anddo self-massage daily. Even if you don’t get to a full body self-massage every day, which I highly recommend, at least do a foot massage right before bed. Some warm sesame oil and a drop or two of Lavender essential oil massaged into your feet will send you into blissful slumber.
Practice positivity. Focus your thoughts and speech on “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things.” This is found in Philippians 4:8.
Spend time processing your day: thinking about and journaling about it. According to my HSP teacher, sensitive people need about two hours of alone time each day.
Take one day off per week. Does this sound impossible? I know, it’s pretty difficult for me as well. When I do it, my life is better. We all need adequate rest and time for recreational pursuits. Work on this one and I will too!
Use an aromatherapy diffuser near your desk while you work and in your bedroom at night. Turning it on for an hour or two at a time is a wonderful way to calm down your mind, emotions, and your whole body. Calming essential oils like Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Black Spruce, Cypress, and Mandarin are a few to try, either individually or blend a few together.
That’s my list. I hope you find some useful tools to help you handle bouts of anxiety. I would love to hear about what things help you when you are feeling anxious.
And, finally, here is an aromatherapy blend to use in your aromatherapy diffuser.
Calming Blend For Anxiety
1 drop Vetiver
2 drops Black Spruce
2 drops Red Mandarin
3 drops Lavender
PS: Today’s title was taken from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis: “But no one except Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, “Courage, dear heart,” and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan’s, and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face.”
We just finished the first week of September and I feel all the things: a little melancholy that summer is waning, excitement for the start of a new season, and the sense that I am myself as this is my birthday month. Transitions–endings and beginnings blurring together–are always difficult, even when you are looking forward to the new.
I don’t know how the weather is where you live, but here in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, we are experiencing pleasant weather in the high 60s to mid- 70s (Fahrenheit). Although it still is warm, there is a tinge of a chill, and the nights fall a little earlier with each passing day. My daughter began eleventh grade this week, my stepson twelfth grade, and I am in my second month of Ayurveda school.
How I start my day determines how successful the rest of it will be, so I wanted to talk about morning routines. What does yours look like? Mine varies quite a lot. On Sunday, my wake-up time depends on whether my husband and I have a music gig or not, but most of the time I can sleep in.
Monday through Wednesday during the school year, I get up to drive my daughter to school. My choice is to either get up at 7 and launch directly into making breakfast/coffee/tea, and then drive her to school, or I can get up early at 5:30ish and meditate, journal, practice visualization and affirmations, exercise or do yoga, shower, and then start making breakfast, etc. The latter is my ideal.
Even the rest of the week–Thursday through Saturday–if I get up early and get all of those important soul-nourishing pieces of the morning done before the rest of the house wakes up, I feel amazing! I have a positive outlook, feel confident, and am ready to face the day. This way I can begin work, meet the needs of my family ,etc., without resentment or trying to figure out how to squeeze in a workout.
It might seem crazy to contemplate getting up an hour or two before everyone else. That obviously means going to bed earlier. As a certified lifelong night owl, it is challenging for me to stick to this. And I am not religious about it. If I don’t have a good night’s sleep, am not feeling well, or if I go to bed late because of work or a special occasion, I don’t get up super early and I don’t beat myself up about it. But as soon as I can realistically get back into my morning routine, I will.
So my hat is off to you if you’re already an early bird and rise before the sun to do what you need to in order to make your day a success. But if you’re like me and are still moving toward your ideal morning, that’s great too! The best thing is to ask yourself why would you want to do this and then write down a good long list of reasons why. The more reasons you have, the more likely you will continue working toward your goal. If you can display your list of reasons somewhere visible to motivate you, all the better!
Design the morning that works for you, at this stage in your life. And like I said in my Facebook and Instagram Lives on this topic, please, if you’re a young mom with a baby or toddler, or you’ve got an elderly parent or sick family member you are caring for, or anything else that is super demanding, this is not the time to begin a new routine, to get up early, etc. Be extra gentle and kind to yourself and take time for yourself when you can.
And since I am always looking for ways to share what I learn about aromatherapy with you, here are two diffuser blends that are great for mornings. They are motivating, positive, promote confidence, perseverance, and a bright outlook.
Morning Blend 1:
1 drop Basil
2 drops Cedarwood
3 drops Lemon
Morning Blend 2:
1 drop Tulsi
2 drops Cedarwood
3 drops Orange
Alright, I’d love to hear about your morning routines: what works, what doesn’t, and what new habits you’re incorporating into your life this September.
For the past few weeks, I’ve had higher-than-usual anxiety levels. Lots of activity and a full house are definitely part of it, plus the changing weather, and my ongoing post-divorce inner work/healing. Yes, I know, we’ve all got stuff to deal with and we have to do the best we can every day. So, here is a list of some of the tools that are helping me get my anxiety under control each day.
Calming Aromatherapy Blend:
(4 drops Cypress, 3 drops Lavender, 5 drops Sweet Orange essential oil.) When my anxiety seems to be peaking, this blend helps me almost instantly. I put it in my diffuser, sit down to work at my desk, and within 10-15 minutes I feel that tightness in my chest ease, the inexplicable sadness and worry lifts, and I come back to myself.
I’ve said it before and will say it again: This blend of B vitamins and herbs really works to calm me down, boost my mood, and relieve stress. Whether for everyday anxiety issues or for situational anxiety, (before a performance, for example), it works for me within twenty minutes. You should have this in your natural first aid kit.
Walking outside for at least twenty minutes each day.
Just get out there! Your mood will lift, your ability to focus improve, your stress levels will drop, and your overall sense of well-being will rise. Feel the sun or rain or wind on your face, connect with your surroundings, and remind yourself that you are part of the planet, and the planet is part of you.
Pick one or do all of them, but whether you are praying, practicing yoga, meditating or doing breathing exercises like Pranayama, you will benefit with lowered stress levels and a calmer, more positive outlook. I enjoy meditating and practicing yoga with the YogaGlo app on my phone.
Watching something that makes you laugh.
I can get so serious and stuck in my head, trying to solve problems and get work done, that I forget to take a break and just laugh. Whether it’s I Love Lucy episodes, a movie like Beauty Shop with Queen Latifah or a TV show like The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, a good laugh session will do wonders for your mood and you’ll stress less.
Reading books on contemplative prayer and mindfulness:
When I turned seven, a couple of family friends gave me Nancy Drew mysteries for my birthday. I gobbled them up and was soon devouring the whole collection from our little public library in Brooklyn. By the time I was twelve, I was devouring Agatha Christie mysteries. Since the essential oil I’m sharing about today is Cypress, that made me think of the Christie mystery, Sad Cypress.
Actually, Cypress isn’t sad at all–it has quite the opposite effect. It is gentle and uplifting to the emotions. Happy Wellness Wednesday, friends! It’s time for another edition of “What Should I Do With My Oils?”.
Latin name:Cupressus sempervirens L.; Family:Cupressaceae; Part of plant used:Leaves, twigs, cones.
Therapeutic Actions: Antispasmodic, Antiseptic, Decongestant, Restorative to the Nervous System.
How to use: Helpful for varicose veins, edema, preventative for sore throats, relieve lymph congestion, respiratory infections in the early phase, influenza, asthma, sore throats, dry spasmodic coughs, bronchitis, rosacea, wound healing, calming, helpful for transitions or times of grief, soothes anxiety.
Each Tuesday I go Live on Facebook at 12pm ET and Instagram at 12:15pm ET with a series called “What Should I Do With My Oils”. I focus on one essential oil each week, sharing benefits, ways to use it, blends and recipes, as well as any safety concerns. And on Wednesday I share the info here on the blog. This week I’m focusing on Sweet Orange. S
Latin name: Citrus sinensis; Family: Rutaceae; Part of plant used: Peel/zest of fruit. Aroma: fresh, fruity, citrusy.
Safety info: Store Sweet Orange in a cold, dark place. The fridge is a good place! Shelf life is 1-3 years. If the oil is stored improperly (been exposed to heat and sunlight), or is old, it can oxidize and cause dermal irritation.
Like Lemon, check to see if your supplier distills or cold-presses their Orange oil. Cold-pressed Orange is not phototoxic, but distilled is. This just means you shouldn’t slather on a product with a high dilution of Orange in it and then go out in the sun. If you do use a product with lots of Orange, Lemon, or other Citrus oils and are unsure about how it was processed, just avoid exposing your skin to the sun for 12 hours. Example: no tanning beds or lying poolside.
Every Tuesday, I go Live on Facebook and Instagram with my series “What Should I Do With My Oils?” and talk about one essential oil, its uses and benefits, and share a few recipes/blends as well. This week I shared about Niaouli, an EO that is super beneficial this time of year.
Niaouli: Latin binomial: Melaleuca quinquenervia ct 1,8 cineole; Family: Myrtaceae; Parts used: Leaves; Aroma: Camphoraceous, fruity, warm, earthy,
Safety concerns: Don’t put near the nose or face of infants and children under 5 years old; can cause breathing problems in infants and young children.
Sore throat recipe: 1 drop Frankincense, 1 drop Niaouli, 1/2 teaspoon Jojoba oil. Rub on front of throat and back of neck.
Breathe Clear Blend: 6 drops Niaouli, 3 drops Cypress, 3 drops Spike Lavender. Diffuse for 1-2 hours at a time.
Allergy Lotion Blend: 15 drops Niaouli, 9 drops Lavender, 5 drops Eucalyptus Radiata, 8 drops Lemon, 8 drops Scots Pine in a 1 oz bottle of lotion. Apply lotion to neck, chest, and upper back.
I also wanted to recommend an aromatherapy book that I refer to often that you might want to consider for your home library. Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit contains plenty of history and lore connected with plants, as well as information on essential oils to use for emotional and mental well-being.
I just had the most painful back pain episode of my life! I was at the gym this past Sunday morning, walking on the treadmill, when I felt a tightness and pain in my upper left back/shoulder area. Attempting to ease it out, I stretched a bit and thought I’d just keep going. About ten minutes later a pain like nothing I’ve ever experienced started stabbing me in that same spot. I couldn’t breathe without extreme pain and nothing would stop it. Somehow I managed to get myself out of the gym and drive home, crying all the way.
Alan massaged my back, got me some ibuprofen, and had to help me shower and dress–it was that debilitating! I laid flat for most of the day, and could only take shallow breaths. At dinner time, I went downstairs determined to help myself, made a list of analgesic, anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory essential oils, and made myself Daytime and Nighttime Roll-on Blends.
Alan applied the Nighttime Blend after dinner. I didn’t feel any better and took ibuprofen around 9:30pm. I was crying in pain by 11, so he applied the Nighttime Blend and massaged my back again. At 5AM I woke up and felt quite a bit better, fell back asleep and woke at 9:15AM to way less pain and much more mobility without pain. No ibuprofen all Monday, just a massage and the Daytime Blend!
Although I’m going to take it easy for the rest of the week, I am thrilled that the pain and stiffness have been reduced this much. I will have the doctor take a look at my back and hopefully I can get some physical therapy soon.
So here are the blends in case you want to re-create them for yourself to have on hand for extreme pain situations.
Daytime Pain Relief Blend: In a 10ml roller bottle, 10 drops Clary Sage, 7 drops Rosemary, 7 drops Laurel, 10 drops Sweet Marjoram, and 11 drops Spike Lavender, and fill the bottle with Calendula oil or a carrier oil of your choice
Nighttime Pain Relief Blend: In a 10 ml roller bottle, 11 drops Clary Sage, 7 drops German Chamomile, 5 drops Frankincense, 7 drops Black Spruce, 15 drops Lavender
(Disclaimer: The information contained in this post does not take the place of medical advice and is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or ailment. If you are in pain, see your healthcare provider.)