Poised for Spring (Wellness Wednesday)

Happy First Day of Spring! We have sunny, cloudless skies and slightly milder weather today, so I’m soaking up the cheer and enjoying birdsong.

Interestingly, in the middle of all this sun and hope and good vibes, I am dealing with anxiety. If you struggle with depression and anxiety, do you find that anxiety heightens during months of fluctuating weather, such as Spring and Fall? Mine does. And as a result, I am always looking for tools that I can use to settle my mind and emotions. I do yoga, drink herbal teas, take an herbal supplement and use essential oils in various ways to alleviate anxiety.

Today I have two aromatherapy blends to share with you that combine some of my favorite oils that will help with grounding, calming, centering, steadying, etc., along with plenty of other benefits.

First, is a massage blend. I chose four essential oils for this blend:

Vetiver: Vetiveria zizanioides; Part of plant used: Roots of grass; Botanical family: Poaceae; Vetiver is strengthening to the immune system, eases muscular aches and pains, helpful for anxiety and depression, nourishing and healing to the skin, is grounding, centering, gathers your thoughts together when you feel scattered in your thinking, is balancing and stabilizing.

Black Spruce:Picea Mariana; Part of plant used: Needles; Botanical family: Pinaceae: Black Spruce is a decongestant, eases minor pain and inflammation, is antimicrobial, antispasmodic, builds confidence, is revitalizing to the mind.

Lavender: Lavandula angustifolia; Part of plant used: Flowering tops; Botanical family: Lamiaceae: Lavender is anti-inflammatory, is good for wound healing, eases muscular aches and pains, is calming and soothing, eases and helps with nervous exhaustion, anxiety, depression, and panic attacks.

Green Mandarin: Citrus reticulata: Part of plant used: Peel/zest of fruit; Botanical family: Rutaceae: Green Mandarin is useful for easing nervous tension, anxiety, depression, headaches, stress, is nurturing, warming, calming.

Steady Spring Massage Blend

In a 2 oz. PET plastic bottle or glass bottle, combine the following:

5 drops Vetiver

8 drops Green Mandarin

13 drops Black Spruce

18 drops Lavender

After you add the essential oils to the bottle, fill the rest of it up with refined sesame oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil, or jojoba. Screw cap on tightly, shake well, and store in a cool, dark place.

To use: Massage into back, shoulders, chest, arms, legs, feet.

The second is a diffuser blend. Here are the essential oils I chose:

Frankincense: Boswellia carteri; Part of plant used: Resin; Botanical family: Burseraceae Frankincense relieves anxiety, tension, supports reflection, contemplation, and prayer, alleviates feelings of despair, is anti-inflammatory, a wound healer, good for respiratory system.

Cypress: Cupressus sempervirens; Part of plant used: Leaves, twigs, cones; Botanical family: Cupressaceae; Cypress is a decongestant, supports healthy lung and airway function, is calming, helpful for alleviating feelings of sadness and during times of transition and bereavement.

Black Spruce: see above

Lavender: see above

Steady Spring Diffuser Blend

2 drops Frankincense

2 drops Cypress

4 drops Black Spruce

5 drops Lavender

Drop into diffuser, fill with water, and diffuse for an hour at a time.

The information I’ve shared with you today comes from my Level 1 Aromatherapy Course from New York Institute of Aromatic Studies.

I’d love to know what you think of either of these blends if you make them. Also, let me know in comments what essential oils you want to learn about or what kinds of recipes you are looking for.

What is Saving My Life Right Now

How was your Monday? I felt like I didn’t move very quickly from one task to another today. My theory is that my body gets to the point where it just has enough and purposely slows down. The weekend was full with late work hours and going to see my daughter in The Addams Family Musical at her high school on Friday and Sunday.

On Sunday evening after the show, Alan and I made a Vegan Shepherd’s Pie and Gluten Free, Dairy Free Irish Soda Bread while listening to Celtic music in celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day. It felt good to return to a tradition I enjoyed with my children when they were younger and had let go of in the past few years. I am looking forward to the rest of this week and to another celebration– the first day of Spring!!!

So here is where I follow several bloggers who have taken a cue from author Barbara Brown Taylor to answer the question: “What is saving your life right now?” Here is my list of current or ongoing lifesavers.

My Bullet Journal Notebook: I’m not going to stop singing the Bullet Journal’s praises, so if you’ve never heard of it, here’s an in-depth delve from Lazy Genius into the Bullet Journal world. (It really is the ultimate guide and will answer lots of your questions.)


The Bullet Journal is this ridiculously simple analog method of keeping your life together in one place. It works for everyone, is completely customizable, and once you start using it, you will be lost without it. This year, I got Alan on the Bullet Journal train and he’s enjoying using it to keep his life organized. This is my fourth year and I am continually finding new ways to entrust my life to its pages. The good news is, you can start it anytime. Check out the Bullet Journal website for short videos showing what it is and how to use it. Once you start, you won’t look back.

My diffuser: I haven’t been sick once all winter and I credit my diffuser, as well as my diet full of whole and green foods and low in sugar! I have several essential oil blends I’ve made and tested to keep me healthy. I’ll be sharing a few blends this week on Wednesday’s post.

My Blackwing Palomino 602 Pencils: as a left-handed writer, my hand tends to cramp up and get tired fairly quickly. There is a fluid elegance and ease to these pencils that have earned them high praise from many famous creatives.

Glo, formerly YogaGlo, is the primary way I practice yoga. In early December, I signed up for the free trial and never looked back. From 5 minute meditations, to 90 minute yoga classes, from super chill restorative Yin and gently Hatha to a sweaty Vinyasa Flow, there are choices for everyone.

You can search by time length, by instructor, by style, by body part you wish to focus on, by time of day, etc. As I work toward my goal of yoga and meditation everyday, Glo provides me with a feast of opportunities to practice.

Barre3 is the other exercise life-saver that I am in love with. It is a combination of ballet, Pilates, cardio, and yoga and is always low-impact. You will sweat, but you will never jump. Even their Barre3 Burpees are slow and much attention is paid to proper alignment, so my wrists and knees have never been sore afterwards. My butt and legs have, though!

It is a workout unlike any other I’ve experienced and the Barre3 message is body-positive and affirming. They’re never pushing you through a workout so you can look great in a bikini. Their language is aimed at building strength, confidence, and feeling good in your own body. They encourage people to pay attention to how they’re feeling (example: “If there is any tension in your neck, lower your arms, etc.”) and to modify each move to make it their own. Here is $10 off if you decide to join!

I’d love to hear what is saving your life right now! Please share in the comments below. Also, I will be giving away my copy of The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll and a couple other goodies on Instagram this week. So head over to my Instagram tomorrow Tuesday March 19 to enter. (US only)

Self-Care for Scurrying Souls

On this day before Thanksgiving, whether you are shopping, cooking, or traveling to be with loved ones, most likely you are in motion and, possibly, going non-stop. You are thinking of that long shopping list, all the pies you need to bake (or pick up), or are making sure you remembered to pack all the necessities before you get in the car and start the long trip to Grandma’s.

I get it. I’ve been there. This Thanksgiving, my biggest stress is to continue making products to get into my Etsy shop and to sell at upcoming craft fairs. I feel like an elf in Santa’s workshop.

Yesterday I took product photos until my back ached like I’d been weeding the garden for hours. Then I sat in my office chair for the rest of the day and late into the evening editing photos, listing products on Etsy, and making ornaments. 

Although the day started off with a pretty challenging Vinyasa class on YogaGlo, the rest of the day I forgot I lived in an actual body and didn’t take care of myself. My diffuser sat on my desk unused, my throat was dry because I didn’t drink enough water, and my back ached from all the photography, and sitting and hunching in my chair. 

You know what’s great about our bodies? They only put up with so much and then they lay down the law. My back and neck sent up a cry of protest overnight and I woke up with a lot of soreness and stiffness.

I am using Arnica gel on my neck and shoulders and a pain blend massage oil on my back.

I am drinking tea and plenty of water.

I am diffusing a great blend for my stuffy nose and asthma, and am getting up to walk around periodically.

I am taking time for short yoga sessions.

I am reading poetry because it lifts me up in ways prose can’t. (Currently I’m reading Devotions by Mary Oliver.)

So today will be a different story and I’ll still get plenty of work done. This is my plan:

The takeaway from this tale: don’t wait until you’re sick or in pain to take care of yourself!!! Do it right now!

And now for my diffuser blend. You may not have heard of the first two essential oils, but I encourage you to incorporate them into your life. I get most of my oils from Aromatics International. They have some pretty amazing deals for Black Friday week. Here’s a link for $15 off your first order.

Niaouli has fruity, fresh, warm and camphor-like qualities. It is great to support the immune system and healthy airway and lung function. It is antibacterial, anti fungal, soothes pain and inflammation, and is a decongestant. 

Spike Lavender is not the same as regular Lavender. It has a touch of camphor-like aroma, it is stimulating and energizing, is great for healthy lung function, and helps with pain and inflammation.

Cypress has a woodsy, balsamic, resinous aroma. It is good for healthy breathing; it promotes proper circulation, is calming and uplifting to emotions, and has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, decongestant, and antibacterial qualities.

Breathe Clear, Feel Better Diffuser Blend (I use the greater number of drops because I’m in a large, drafty room; if you’re in a small space, you can use less.) 

Niaouli 6-10 drops

Spike Lavender 3-5 drops

Cypress 3-5 drops

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my dear readers! Remember to take time for yourself today!!!

*This post contains affiliate links. It helps pay for this blog. If you choose to purchase through a link, it will benefit me in a small way at no cost to you. 

Five Reasons I Use Magnesium Oil Every Day (And How To Make Your Own)

fullsizeoutput_1a14.jpeg

(Happy Halloween, everyone!!!) For this edition of Wellness Wednesday, I’m talking about a mineral that has been extremely helpful to me; one that is a daily part of my wellness regimen. I honestly can’t live without this stuff!

Have you heard of Magnesium Oil ? Have you ever used it? I didn’t hear about it until two years ago when I was searching for ways to relieve the Restless Leg Syndrome symptoms I experience most nights. I bought a bottle of lotion containing Magnesium Oil on Amazon and began using it every night. When I did a bit more research about Magnesium Oil, however, I discovered it was super easy to make myself, and I’ve been doing that for a while now.

So what is Magnesium Oil? It is Magnesium Chloride in water, which has the ability to absorb efficiently through the skin. Here are five reasons I use Magnesium Oil.

  1. It relieves my symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome. Do you experience that achy, creepy, I-want-to-crawl-out-of-my-skin feeling whenever you settle down to sleep at night? Magnesium oil is like magic for this problem. Just rub in a magnesium oil lotion or spray it directly on your legs and massage it in. You should feel a difference within a few minutes.
  2. It can keep headaches away or to relieve a headache if I have one.
  3. Magnesium Oil reduces soreness and stiffness in muscles.
  4. I use it to relieve PMS symptoms.
  5. I use it to reduce anxiety. When I am feeling extra panicky, I reach for my spray bottle of Magnesium Oil.

My favorite store-bought Magnesium Oil Lotion is Life-Flo Magnesium Lotion — 8 fl oz. It has a subtle vanilla fragrance from natural vanilla oil. So if DIY is not your thing, you can get it online and in health food stores.

If you do want to make it yourself, you only need two ingredients and a Spray Bottle to store it in. (Oh, and in case you wondered, Epsom salts are NOT the same as Magnesium Chloride Flakes, so don’t use them to make Magnesium Oil. Epsom salts are Magnesium Sulphate. You need Magnesium Chloride flakes. What’s the difference? Here’s one explanation.)

Magnesium Oil Recipe

Magnesium Chloride Flakes

Distilled Water

You will need equal parts Magnesium Chloride Flakes and Distilled Water. I usually make mine using 1/2 cup flakes and 1/2 cup water and make up a new batch every three or four weeks.

Directions: Boil water in a saucepan. Turn off heat and add Flakes. Stir until dissolved. Remove from heat, cool, and pour into a clean spray bottle. Store any remaining Magnesium Oil in a glass jar the refrigerator. Make sure to label it with something like “MAGNESIUM OIL FOR SKINCARE: NOT FOR DRINKING” and keep out of reach of children.

Note: It may sting your skin, especially if you just shaved your legs, for example. If that happens, simply take a little body lotion or cream, or whatever moisturizer you have on hand, and rub it into your skin. If spraying the oil is just too strong for you, simply make your own lotion by adding some Magnesium Oil to a bottle of lotion or cream, shake to blend, and then use as needed.

Suggestions for Use: I usually apply it in the morning before working out at the gym, after a shower, and at bedtime when my legs are restless. I use a spray bottle for the most intense application and relief, and a lotion bottle with added Magnesium oil which works well too, especially if I just shaved my legs.

If you use Magnesium Oil or if you try it, let me know!

fullsizeoutput_1a15.jpeg

* This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase through one of the links here, it benefits me in a very small way at no extra cost to you!

What Is Saving My Life Right Now (October edition)

IMG_1399

How has this October been treating you? Have you stayed well, enjoyed the colors of the leaves turning and adjusted to the temperature dropping? Do you tend to get blue this time of year or do you come into your own, reading, working on projects, and loving to snuggle under cozy blankets, making plenty of hot tea or coffee and nourishing soups, and focusing inward a bit more?

I am probably a mix of both of these–I really enjoy cooler weather and being a bookworm at heart, it’s easy to settle into an indoor kind of life. At the same time, the transition of losing a little more sunlight each day challenges me to be proactive about staying positive and looking for natural solutions to heightened anxiety and bouts of insomnia.

The title of this post comes from Barbara Brown Taylor’s book Leaving Church. I’m following in the steps of other bloggers who like to pause during each month and ask themselves the question, “What is saving my life right now?”

      1. My Fab Four Smoothie. This smoothie comes from nutritionist Kelly Leveque’s book Body Love: Live in Balance, Weigh What You Want, and Free Yourself from Food Drama Forever. (Thanks to my friend Ellie for the recommendation!) Kelly advises her readers and clients to start the day with a smoothie that contains the Fab Four: protein, fat, fiber, and greens. The reason for this is so that your blood sugar won’t spike, your energy levels won’t crash, and you won’t find yourself so hungry/hangry again so soon after a meal. Since I’ve been a smoothie-for-breakfast fan for years, just some small adjustments to my recipe, such as just half a banana rather than a  whole, a handful of spinach, and a tablespoon of coconut oil or almond butter are making a difference in my appetite. I definitely stay full longer and don’t want to reach for a carby snack by mid-afternoon.
      2. Ashwagandha Root . Kelly recommended a few supplements in her book and this was one. Ashwagandha Root, or Indian Ginseng, is an adaptogen. What’s an adaptogen, you ask? Oxford Dictionaries defines an adaptogen as: “a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress and to exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes.” Since I’ve been struggling to keep anxiety from getting the better of me, when I heard about Ashagandha, I decided to get the powder form and add it to my smoothie. I’ve only been using it for a few weeks, so I need to keep using it before I can report more accurately on its effects, but it seems to help calm me down. (Obviously, check with your doctor before including this in your supplement regimen.)
      3. Listening to positive, you-can-do-this podcasts. I’ve been immersing myself in the wisdom of women entrepreneurs this month. Particularly, I am tuning into the words of Jenna Kutcher and Rachel Hollis (again, thanks to my friend, Ellie). Feelings are so fickle! Somedays I wake up feeling like I am enough and other days I need to hear someone else’s story, to hear how they built their business, what obstacles they faced, the hard work they put in to become successful, and their encouraging words to those of us who are still on the journey. Jenna’s podcast is called The Goal Digger Podcast and Rachel Hollis calls hers Rise. Check them both out! I’m pretty sure your spirit will be lifted from the abundance of positive content that they provide. IMG_1400
      4. Pachinko . I am about halfway through and I love it! It is beautifully written and the characters are so engaging, the plot so captivating, that I know I’ll be sad when I reach the end. Honestly, I feel like I’ve read a lot of unspectacular fiction this year, but this is a unique and delightful book that stands out all on its own.
      5. Friends. I’m an introvert and often think I can go for weeks at a time without contact from anyone other than my family and partner. My independent nature is slowly beginning to believe that I actually need people, that I need other women to connect with, to share life with, to give to them and to receive the gifts of listening and conversation, the benefits of their life stories and experiences, the wisdom, healing, and nurturing that comes from healthy relationships. I’m so thankful for the friends I’ve known for years, as well as the ones I’ve met more recently.
      6. Digestive Enzymes. Yeah, what a change of topic! Like Julia Michaels, I’ve got issues, or at least my digestive tract does. I’m constantly working on fine-tuning my diet so that I can eat a meal without pain. This month I bought Garden of Life – Omega Zyme Ultra Digestive Enzyme Blend, and, for now, at least, they are really doing the job. As long as I remember to take the enzymes with my meal, I am distress-free–no cramping, no pain, no bloating, etc! This is really good news! Here’s to hoping they keep on being effective.
      7. Yoga. One of my goals this year was to move closer toward a daily yoga practice. Whether it’s a 10 minute power yoga video, a 20 minute Hiit video with Sadie Nardini, a 30 minute before-bedtime relaxing sequence, or (my favorite) a 75 minute Hot Power Yoga class in Ithaca, it all helps to reduce my overall tension and anxiety levels and provide a sense of calm, strengthen my core and entire body, and increase flexibility. I’ve managed to fit in yoga more this month than any other this year, and it feels so good.

So what’s saving your life this October?

 

* This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase through one of the links here, it benefits me in a very small way at no extra cost to you!

A Diffuser Blend to Boost Your Mood (Wellness Wednesday)

fullsizeoutput_19de

Am I the only one who has been fighting the blues now that the weather is colder and dusk settles sooner? No, I didn’t think so. I’m reading (and loving) The Upward Spiral and taking a look at my life and asking myself how I can make small changes in my day that can benefit my depressed brain and boost my mood.

As I study for my aromatherapy certification, I am learning so much about how aroma affects the brain and the emotions, as well as the physical body. Just breathing in certain aromas can change your mood, prevent you from getting a cold, or help strengthen your immune system.

fullsizeoutput_19df

Some folks think aromatherapy is weird and a bunch of hippie New Age nonsense. Well, they’re actually just shutting down a whole world of wellness possibilities. Think about it: don’t you get a cold because you breathe in someone else’s cold virus some of the time? Of course, you can also get sick from touching a contaminated surface and rubbing your eyes or putting your hand into your mouth. But if sickness can come to us through the air we breathe, why is it so hard to believe we can boost our mood, stay well or prevent a cold, for example, through breathing in a diffused essential oil blend?

Just yesterday afternoon, I was feeling weepy and blue. I set the coffee kettle on the stove to boil, and grabbed Gabriel Mojay’s Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit from the library shelf. After leafing through a few of the pages on depression, and using my intuition and sense of smell, I came up with this blend.

fullsizeoutput_19dd

Lift Me Up Fall Diffuser Blend:

5 drops Cypress

2 drops Juniper

3 drops Sweet Orange

Fill your Diffuser to the fill line with distilled water, add the drops of essential oils and turn it on. Diffuse for 30 minutes to an hour at a time.

fullsizeoutput_19e1

Within half an hour of diffusing, I stopped in the middle of my work and it hit me: the sadness and emotional heaviness had completely lifted! All I could think was, Thank You, God! I am so grateful for the very real power to heal holistically that is available to us through what we find in Nature. It’s amazing and very empowering on a personal level!

fullsizeoutput_19e0

I’d love to hear about how you stay well and boost your mood during the Fall! Do you have a favorite diffuser blend? Please share with us in the comments!

PS, if you want to learn more about essential oils for free, this link will take you to the The Essential Oils & Aromatherapy Summit airing 12-6pm EST October 23-26.

* This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase through one of the links here, it benefits me in a very small way at no extra cost to you!

A Little Island Addition (Juice Recipe)

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

My eyes are doing so well these days! It’s not that I don’t have to be careful when I want to open them when I wake up. I still proceed with caution and a bottle of eye drops in hand, but I have not had an extreme episode of corneal erosion since I started juicing again last month.

Do I get tired of washing, peeling, and cutting up vegetables and fruits and cleaning the juicer afterward? Yes, of course I do, but I just have to remind myself of the alternative (extreme eye pain, puffy, scratchy, red eyes, light sensitivity, migraines…loss of productivity) and then my perspective becomes clearer. It’s a very small portion of time and energy out of my day and the benefit of eye health far outweighs any inconvenience. I’m so thankful for the simplicity of the solution.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Because my eyes are what I am mainly treating with juice, I’m always using carrots as a base, but this week, for some variety, I added pineapple. So here is the recipe; it makes about three pints, which lasts a couple of days for me and Alan. Feel free to cut it in half.

Pineapple-Carrot-Orange-Celery-Apple-Pear Juice

  • 10 carrots, tops cut off
  • 4 cups, peeled and cut up pineapple
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into large pieces
  • 2 oranges, peeled and halved
  • 2 apples, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 1 pear, cut into large pieces

 

Enjoy!

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset