Reflections on My Experience with Cranial Therapy

“You are more than the bad things that happen to you. You are the grace that follows.”  ~ Malaya, Code Black

The Backstory

I have spent my entire life hiding my experiences and emotions for fear of people’s inability to accept them or need to judge them. And like many, my deep desire to belong, to fit in, to have value, drove me to mold myself into what I thought would make me accepted and valuable. In my mid-20s, I decided that it shouldn’t matter and tried to be open about my ‘past’, resulting in exactly the kind of hurtful reactions, assumptions, and rejections that I had feared. So, I crawled back into my protective hole where I tried to project what seemed acceptable, shielding those close to me from what I began to feel were the ‘dark’ parts of me. In hindsight, I now know those negative reactions had everything to do with the people who reacted and very little to do with me, but those experiences formed my fundamental perception of myself and my relationships.

My coping mechanism – building an impenetrable privacy wall against even my closest relationships – left me feeling completely and utterly alone and unloved. I walked around feeling that if they knew my experiences, my emotions, they would no longer love and accept me as a person; yet these truths have everything to do with what made me the person I am, how I perceive things, and the decisions I make.

My experiences are that most people listen long enough to determine what to say next or what assumption to make, rather than listening with intent to understand. For example, when I told my physicians about the traumas I survived, I would see their expressions change and from that point on, they would assume anxiety or depression as soon as they could not find an easy explanation for symptoms I was experiencing.  Twice in my life this resulted in emergency health situations that never needed to be an emergency had they listened to me in the first place. In many instances, sharing with friends or family resulted in awkwardness and sometimes rejection…but at the very least a definite change in the relationship (usually not for the better).

Here’s the amazing part: after YEARS of counseling and therapies to move past my traumas and calm the resulting autoimmune effects of routinely bottling up undeserved shame and subconsciously-remembered pain,  years of thinking I have moved past all of it; something as seemingly simple as an unexpected, fairly routine surgical procedure can trigger me and make me realize I am still not completely OK.

The Trigger

A few weeks ago I went in for a post hysterectomy checkup appointment with no pain but some minor bleeding, and ended up having to have a cauterization procedure to stop an overgrowth of scar tissue. The nurse had no idea what I had been through, no way of understanding why I instantly looked like a scared deer in headlights, so she assumed it was just because I didn’t understand that the procedure was considered safe and necessary. With a confidence that I’m sure was in an effort to put me at ease, she expressed that there was no other valid option for me to correct this complication, and it needed to be done.

For the first time in a long time, I felt it: that wave of panic and fear that comes in knowing you are about to be forced into something that is invasive, painful and something you don’t want. I should have told her what I was feeling and why. I should have asked her to let me wait until I was able to feel ready. But I did not do either. I did what I always did when I was trapped and needed to survive. I packed my brain immediately into that safe little survival closet and resolved to muscle through.

The rest of the procedure was a bit of a blur. It hurt, but I dulled it out. The remaining silver nitrate burned, a lot to me, but I didn’t say anything because I just wanted to get out of there before I collapsed: and besides, she said burning could be normal. I forced myself to smile, laugh, and even joke with the checkout woman so that no one would know how weak I felt on the inside. Then, I walked to my car as quickly as I could without looking as crazy as I felt, closed the door, and sobbed that ugly kind of sobbing that makes me feel ridiculous and out of control…because, well, I think I  was out of control.

The Failure of Familiar Coping Mechanisms

Then, I did what any perfectionistic survivor with unrealistic expectations of myself would do; I made it worse by starting to beat myself up. I told myself I was being ridiculous – logically speaking, it was merely a medical procedure that I needed and NOT an assault, but my feelings wouldn’t cooperate. I tried to push down my feelings, pull myself together, drive home, and walk through the door with a smile for my kids. I walked around in that fog, beating myself up, crying on and off and getting madder at myself every moment, for the next four days.

I thought that feeling like this again was a bad thing, but it ended up being a blessing. It led me to realize I still needed help, and deep down I do know that getting help shows how strong you are, not how weak, so I found the courage to look for something new that may help where I was in that moment.

Expanding My Toolkit Cranial Therapy

I felt I had come as far as I was going to with talk therapy, and the last thing I wanted was to be asked to explain everything all over again. I knew I needed something different, so I did my research and decided I needed to try a massage professional who specializes in stored trauma.

Did you know that your body can store the emotion of traumas, and that if you don’t find a way to release them, they can come back when faced with even remotely similar situations? When a friend shared this with me a few years ago, it resonated with me, but I couldn’t find anyone local at the time who was certified in the technique. With  my recent trigger experience, I felt it was what I needed to try. I called a local spa to ask if they knew of anyone. Not only did they know of someone, but they had recently hired someone, and she was willing to fit me in the next day.

How Its Making a Difference

It amazes me how, in just a few sessions, I have been empowered to feel and release my emotions, but without them having to be tied to a specific bad memory and without me having to drudge it all up again. I am feeling more comfortable in owning who I am and what I have been through, regardless of how people may react to. Most importantly, I am feeling that it is not worth my health to continue to hide my own experiences just because it may make someone else uncomfortable…there are also those that my story may help.

Let me give you some specifics about what cranial therapy is doing for me.

I usually wake up with a sense of heaviness and some level of fear, and then use my oils and positive affirmations to push through and be the person I want to be with the feelings I know I should have. Lately, I am waking up feeling less heavy, and less fearful, without having to reach for my oils to just own my feelings. I have always thought I would spend the rest of my life pushing past that heaviness in order to be the person I wanted to be. For the first time, I feel like there is hope to BECOME the person I always thought I could be without it having to be a constant battle.

For me, the proof that it was working came yesterday, when I had to repeat the procedure that triggered me a few weeks ago. It was still very difficult for me, but I was able to confidently tell the doctor what happened to me in the past, how I reacted to the previous procedure, and what I needed from her in order to get through it in the best way possible. I felt strong in expressing that I would not tolerate my emotions being used to discredit my symptoms or feelings in the future, and was relieved to find her highly sympathetic and compassionate. It was still a difficult procedure for me, and I am still working through some emotions today, but I was able to handle it. And, I have been better able to communicate my feelings afterwards to those who are here supporting me, and I’ve been speaking up for my needs without feeling I should suppress them.

My privacy wall is starting to crumble away and I look forward to the day when my loved ones are gazing back at me with new understanding of who I am and how I feel.

I think that as I’m letting myself feel and release these emotions that have weighed on me for so long, I am freeing myself to believe with my heart AND mind that I am worthy of love and care regardless of what anyone else thinks: and THAT is priceless.

Why Im Sharing this Experience

Only a few people know how big a step writing this blog post is for me. Though I have felt called to share aspects of my health journey, I have been too afraid of the judgements, rejections, my family’s privacy to delve this deeply into my own story in a public forum. I have never felt safe sharing this much.

But here’s the thing, holding it all in has its consequences too. I cannot continue to protect others at the expense of myself. I will never feel truly loved and accepted until I know the people who love me truly know me, even the thoughts and experiences I am afraid to share.  The only way I will ever stop caring more about those who reject me than I care for myself is to truly accept myself and embrace what has made me who I am…without shame and without apologizing for how uncomfortable it may make others feel.

If you see any of yourself and your own feelings in what I’ve shared, then I recommend you try some holistic therapies like cranial therapy. You have nothing to lose and possibly everything to gain. This therapy was exactly what I needed to add to my toolkit at this point in my journey, and I am thankful to Truespa Skin Care Center in Palmerton for bringing Dana Massey to our area with these skills. She has a gift, and that gift has already changed my life. In only a month or so, I have made progress in ways that I wasn’t able to during years of conventional therapy.

ALL-NATURAL BUG SPRAY

HT BUG SPRYMy best friend, Denise, and I have been on a mission to come up with an affordable and all-natural bug spray that works:

  • during all of our outdoor activities (e.g., hiking, boating, horse riding, barn cleaning, and camping).
  • against all of the major pests in our area (e.g., mosquitos, gnats, ticks, horse flies, fleas).
  • on both us, our kids, and our dogs.

It took us almost a full season, and at least three tweaks, but we now have a finished product that we have tested and are very happy with.

NOTE: This is NOT safe for cats. To make for your feline friend, omit the Peppermint and check with your veterinarian.

To make this bug spray, gather an 8 ounce glass spray bottle, and add the following essential oils:

  • 35 drops of a Repellent Blend
  • 35 drops of Peppermint
  • 35 drops of Lemongrass
  • 15 drops of Cedarwood
  • 15 drops of Lavender

Fill the spray bottle with distilled water (will not spread after spraying quite as well on skin) OR fractionated coconut oil (will be a bit more oily on dog fur and hair), screw on the spray top, and shake to mix.

  • For humans: spray onto ankles, wrists, back of neck, and hair every 4-6 hours or as needed.
  • For dogs: spray your dog’s chest, back of neck, back of ears, stomach, and tail every morning and afternoon before letting your fur baby outside.  If your dog is skittish or doesn’t like being sprayed, then spray your hands first and then rub into those same areas. Be sure to keep your hands away from his/her nose since the sense of smell is so much more refined than ours and the scents can be overpowering for dogs. I actually stand behind my one dog and put my arms under her front legs and rub onto her chest so she doesn’t try to sniff my hands…otherwise she goes into a sneezing fit lol. It won’t hurt your dog if this happens, but you want him/her to like the spray, so still good to steer clear!

If you try this, let me know what you think! I no longer use any chemical-based flea, tick, or bug spray on my family…and yet we experience less issues than before. I hope you have the same experience!

Does Choosing Supplements Feel Like a Never-Ending Maze?

iStock_000008226295_SmallI have been getting some questions as a health coach about how to go about choosing from the many holistic product options, especially when it comes to supplements. So, I will summarize 4 key pieces of advice:
 
1) Make one change at a time.
This is the only way for you to feel whether a product is working for you, and it increases your chances of sticking to the new habit, because you will know EXACTLY what changed.
As a health coach, I have seen people change only what they eat with no added supplementation at all, and still reach 60-95% of their goals. Nothing is more important than what you choose as fuel for your body, what you do to keep it in shape (movement of some sort), and how you manage your thoughts (lessening stress and negativity).  
Many find it easier to start with taking a supplement, because they feel it is something they can do with less effort at first, or because they feel it will help them have more willpower. If that is you, then go ahead and try it, but JUST take your new supplements at first so you know what is changing. If you start the supplements AND you start eating better AND working out more…you cannot say which change is helping most. How do you really know? 
 
2) Research your ingredients.
Natural does not necessarily mean it’s right for YOU and your body. A year or so ago I had a friend who started taking aloe daily to help with digestive issues. After a couple months, he went for a colonoscopy. Afterwards, the doctor told him he knew he was drinking aloe juice and to stop it immediately because the continued use over time was turning his intestines black, and although it would reverse if stopped, if continued it could do damage.
And did you know that if you have a latex allergy, you should be VERY cautious of taking aloe? The aloe plant contains an aloe gel in the middle and an aloe latex before the leaf and after the gel. When the aloe ingredient manufacturing process includes both, an aloe-allergic person could react and the latex portion is what causes the intestinal damage due to its laxative effects.
Now for some, aloe has been a lifesaver and works well, but most gastroenterologists agree it should be taken as needed and not proactively/daily over time to be safest. Is it possible that some supplements have found a way to harness the good parts of aloe and not the challenging parts to ensure continued use is safe? Absolutely. But if it were me, I would want to ask and know how they are ensuring that, and I would at least want to know that it COULD become an issue so that I could monitor with my doctor. This is merely one example of why it is important to know your ingredients and be aware of all potential benefits AND risks.
Basically, do your research because not all ingredients are manufactured or processed the same, and some have risks to specific groups of people. High quality supplements cost money, so make sure the ingredients and science behind it feels worth your investment. Just be sure your research is coming from expert sources, and weigh both negatives and positives against logical tests to see if you can trust all the information (e.g., Is the opinion based on newer or older research?, Does the person have a personal interest in the advice presented?, Does the article include links to science-based studies/references?)
3) No one option works for everyone.
Every body is different, with a different natural chemical plant than everyone else. So, although some things may work for the majority, no one thing will work for EVERYONE, and no experience will be exactly the same. So, do your research to ensure the line is pure, well balanced, and ask others how it has worked for them. Then trust your instincts. If you feel it may be right for you, then try it. You have nothing to lose usually. In most cases, you will receive some benefit even if it isn’t exactly what you were looking for, and many high quality lines offer a money back guarantee the first month.
 
4) No supplement or natural product is legally allowed to claim it CURES or HEALS disease, or that it REPLACES any approved medication.
If someone is saying that their supplements will cure cancer, heal your Crohn’s Disease, or replace your prescriptions then you should be at least a bit skeptical. That sort of language is often used to convince those groups to buy, and does not always stem from truthHowever, some natural products ARE proven to be highly supportive of specific normal body functions (e.g., respiratory, digestive, etc.).
And, many times the person means well. It is completely normal process to have a product work so well at supporting a body system that a person experiences a grand improvement in their wellbeing, and of course that leads them to wanting to shout it from the mountaintops and help everyone they know feel better too! When someone says to you something like, “I took this and my reflux was cured!”, that is hopefully an accurate perception of what they believed to have happened. However, what most likely happened is that the product helped fill a deficiency within their body and that enabled that body system to fully function again. The supplement didn’t cure the reflux, it supported healthy digestion. The body then stopped the reflux because it was able to.
This is largely different than what happens when you take a manufactured drug that is synthetically produced to change how normal body functions operate in order to facilitate a change in disease state. If someone is marketing honestly and legally, then the message should be that the product supports or promotes healthy normal body functions or promotes or improves normal, everyday types of issues (aches after working out, feelings of anxiousness before a test, etc.).
According to the FDA, as soon as someone is benefiting from the sale of a product, that person can no longer say that the product stopped his or her reflux or saved them from buying reflux medicine….EVEN IF THAT IS THEIR TRUE EXPERIENCE…because it then falls under commercial speech. Someone may take that as a drug claim and purchase based on that perceived promise. How do I know? Because I carry the doTerra line of oils and supplements and our company has been cooperating fully to educate every leader and advocate in the company as to why controlling commercial speech is so important, and on how to still promote the benefits of our products in a compliant manner. I believe the best in most people, and think those who are still making those claims are doing so because they just don’t understand the laws yet, but the few who use those claims for financial gain only, the few who are the reason the FDA has to make these efforts to begin with…those are the people you want to watch out for.
The bottom line?
I think it is awesome that there are so many natural, quality supplements out there to choose from today. They are sorely needed thanks to the state of our food supply, the amount of toxins we are subjected to daily, and the latest findings that are finally proving that many of the grocery and pharmacy chains have fake supplements on their shelves or supplements without the proper ingredients to facilitate absorption (resulting in expensive urine).
 
So, understand that natural supplement products are merely a support tool that DOES NOT give you a free pass to eat like crap and never workout, yet still expect to get healthy. Research the ingredients so you know what the potential benefits and risks are. And, maintain an accurate expectation of natural supplements’ role in your wellness goals.
They are supportive. They are not magic pills.
iStock_000008226307_SmallThey cannot immediately instill perfect willpower, turn your metabolism into overdrive, erase years of bad habits, make that hot in the corner see you as sexy, or fix your marriage.
 
However, they CAN be a HUGE part of your wellness toolkit when used properly.
 
My most important piece of advice? Don’t be afraid to try different products, and once you find one that helps you reach your goals, don’t let the naysayers and skeptics talk you out of it…stick with it until your body tells you there is a change needed.

Magic Potions? They’re Hocus-Pocus!

Screenshot 2016-01-06 15.34.12As a health coach, I respect the fact that every person is different and therefore will find different products that work for them. That is why I carry more than one, and use more than one brand of product. I choose what works best FOR ME. I also help my clients choose what is right FOR THEM, even if what’s right isn’t any of the products I can supply.

In health coaching school, we are taught that choosing real, unprocessed foods that are non-gmo and grown in a sustainable manner AND managing your primary foods (emotional needs such as stress, love, exercise that you love, and spirituality) are the foundational cornerstones of health. My experiences with my family’s health and my clients’ have proven to me that this is true.

What about all these magic potions out there?

There is no magic potion, no fancy drink or pill that will make up for choosing too much sugar, unhealthy fats, or toxic chemicals. To be at our best, most of us should be eating real foods at every meal, including a full glass of water and about 6 grams of protein within 1/2 hour of waking…and I don’t mean by adding water to a processed protein shake…I mean through FOOD.

Healthy smoothies, ground by you, using fresh veggies, fruits, and food-based-proteins are fine. And, if you choose to use a healthy, no-chemicals-added replacer shake from time to time because of time constraints that is better than nothing, but it is still NOT a healthy food replacement.

Feel free to enjoy and use some of the natural herb and essential oil based products that can naturally help curb cravings and support healthier digestion and weight loss…but just don’t think they make it so you don’t need healthy foods.

What about supplements and essential oils? Do you really need them?

Supplements and essential oils support health and can have amazing benefits, but they are not a “get out of healthy habits free card.”

The answer is that with our current food supply, yes, most of us do need supplements (even those of us who eat very healthy). Again though, they are not even close to a replacement for healthy foods. And, most supplements you find either don’t have the right kind of nutrients and macronutrients, not enough of what you need even if it IS the right kind, or they have TOO much (which can also cause problems). In all of these cases you are likely to end up with very few benefits and very expensive urine…because you likely won’t absorb most of what you take in.

Most everyone needs a BALANCED multi-vitamin and mineral (no or minimal iron unless you are low), Omega-3s, Vitamin D (if it isn’t in your multivitamin in high enough amounts) and a high quality, multi-strain probiotic.

Many companies claim to have amazing probiotics and charge an arm and a leg for them, but do you know what matters in a probiotic?  The number of healthy bacteria strains, the measurement of bacteria strains (cfu), how it is stored/protected to keep those bacteria alive until you consume it, and how those bacteria are introduced into your system and how they plan to ensure most of the bacteria make it through your digestive system into the targeted location. If your probiotic brand is not refrigerate, you have no idea how long it has sat on that shelf, has only 1-4 strains, and has no explanation of how it was specially made to ensure you will actually benefit from those bacteria (rather than merely killing them during digestion)…well, I would recommending researching them more before you spend the money.

You can skip the expensive probiotic altogether if you choose to ingest foods high in probiotics EVERY DAY such as kombucha, water kefir, sauerkraut, raw cheeses, and raw unsweetened yogurts…but these can be expensive too unless you make them yourself; and if you buy the regular processed store cheese or yogurt instead of raw, unsweetened it won’t help much (and may hurt by feeding the unhealthy bacteria with the sugars and additives they contain).

Whether of not you NEED essential oils is a very personal opinion, but they are not magic potions either, but just as with supplements, they can provide great benefits and be a supportive part of your wellness toolkit.

What about a cleanse? Are they really helpful?

I believe I owe my life to a healthy, food-based elimination diet cleanse. Literaly. I am not exaggerating. So, of course I feel a cleanse can be helpful.

But be careful. There are some very UNHEALTHY cleanses out there being touted as safe, when in reality they can cause harm. For example, your body needs fiber to remove toxins, and juicing releases a lot of toxins from your system. So, if you stay on a juicing-only cleanse for many days without adding in any fiber, or even worse, while also adding in supplements to enhance the detox, you could easily overload your filtering organs and get very sick.

Any cleanse should be primarily food-based (or all). Remove all sugar, processed foods, trans-fats, and inflammatory foods for 10-30 days. That along with increased water intake of 64-96 ounces of water per day will make most Americans feel like a million bucks (at least after the first week of detox sludginess…that is a word according to me). 🙂

If a cleanse says you don’t have to change what you eat, or worse yet, that you don’t have to eat at all, please look for another one. Supplements can support cleansing, but the right foods are still what matters most. Great cleanses will teach you healthier habits you can maintain even after you are finished with your cleanse.

And as usual, don’t blindly take my word for it…do some research…look up some of these things for yourself and make an educated decision on what works best for you.

What do I advise?

Please throw out this search for magic potions and fountains of youth, and instead consider these three primary steps to work toward and maintain your version of healthy:

1) Eat real, healthy, unprocessed foods.

2) Move your body every day…in whatever form of exercise makes your heart sing. Take a hike, go for a walk, do yoga on your bedroom floor, join a fitness class group (peer group, belonging, AND exercise…helps with number 3 too)…just move somehow.

3) Take care of your emotional needs. Make your self-talk kinder, surround yourself with people who help you stay positive and celebrate your strengths instead of pointing out your challenges, learn how to say no unless you are excited about saying yes, and make yourself a priority. You deserve to be healthy, but almost no one can be healthy if they aren’t first HAPPY.

Feel free to supplement these steps with any of the holistic complimentary therapies that work for you. In my family, some of the things we supplement with are regular chiropractic care, herb and whole-foods based supplements, essential oils, an annual cleanse, and pet-therapy (we have two of the cutest dogs ever who smother us in unconditional love, laughter, and cuddles).

Which of these three primary areas do you do well in? Which would you like to focus on improving this year? What are some of the complimentary therapies you find helpful? I’d love to hear from you!

 

Romance Versus True Love

IMG_6999Like we wives often do, I sometimes find myself wishing my husband could be different…mostly I find myself wishing he could be more expressive and romantic. BUT, when I really look at all he’s given me, he IS expressive and romantic…just in his way…not in the way my childhood romance novels had programmed me to expect.

My husband is the person who saw through and then fought through the protective wall I built around my heart. He managed to get me to trust that he truly had unconditional love to offer (really he made me believe that there was even such a thing). 

I’m sure I have some really annoying habits. I think that once or twice in my life I have been stubborn, emotional, and maybe even impossible; but he is always there for me. He always forgives me. He always is there to hold me when I finally break down and admit that I am not feeling strong enough.

THAT is romantic.

My husband helps with everything around the house and goes above and beyond to try and ensure our family has everything we need.

THAT is how he expresses his love.

And, in reality, I think that is what true loves looks like.

I am thankful that my amazing husband made the choice to love me, the real me with all my brokenness and imperfections, and that he understood that real love is more about acceptance and commitment than excitement and romance. I will continue to work to love him in the same way until we are old and gray in our rocking chairs on the dock of our lake house.

Gratitude Ponderings

IMG_6802Today as I ponder about gratitude, I find myself thankful for the growth we experience and the lessons we learn from sorrow/mourning. That may sound odd, but I was talking to a friend today who said she felt like she was experiencing an evolution in her life (one that was a bit painful), and I have another friend who is working her way through the loss of her Father, which I feel fairly safe saying is the worst loss of her life to date. I was thinking and wishing that I could do more to help them, and was thinking about how hard loss and death are to deal with. That is what got me thinking.

Craig and I moved to Palmerton in 2000. The first year we lived here, I travelled the country training and Craig travelled to Allentown to work long hours every day while we planned our 2001 wedding. Then, right after 9/11 we found out we were pregnant, and I almost immediately was put on bed rest. We still knew no one locally other than our neighbors. At that point in my life, I had experienced a lot of loss and rejection, so I was OK with that, because I was afraid of making friends anyway.

Then, Francine happened. She lived a couple houses down from me, and our boys were born a couple days apart. She and her extremely confident happy self immediately took me in (love the analogy) and we became extremely close. A little later, I started spending a lot of time with my neighbor’s daughter Nikki, who had moved home to fight a cancer that had returned. I grew to love both women greatly. Both of them helped support me through all my fear and struggles after I was diagnosed with heart failure and given a very bleak life span estimation. They both celebrated with me when it became obvious I was going to prove the doctors wrong.

Then, only a couple months after the doctors confirmed I would live after all, a drunk driver hit Francine’s car head on and God called her home unexpectedly. This woman who was so full of life and was my rock, who wouldn’t let me give up and believe the doctors death sentence, who was more happy and alive than anyone I had ever met, was dead. I couldn’t believe it. Why would God let me live but take her? Then, about a month later, Nikki died too, and although it was a bit more expected, it hit me hard.

I couldn’t take any more loss. I stopped putting myself out there. I kept most of my friendships at a very shallow level. I would find myself wanting to connect more deeply, but my insecurities and fears held me back. Plus, I never wanted to hurt like that again.

Until a few years ago, when I realized that all I was doing was going through the motions. I wasn’t living if I didn’t allow myself to truly connect with people.

I promised myself that I would start actively trying to foster new friendships, and prayed that God would help me meet the right people. Since then, I continue to be blessed left and right with EXACTLY the right people. I feel like I belong somewhere, like I’m part of a community, for the first time in my life. I still miss Francine and Nikki, but I can now look back and remember the good memories most. Mostly, I look back and am comforted in the knowledge that even the hardest of times usually results in us being a stronger, happier, healthier version of ourselves if we just let ourselves feel the feelings, work through them the best we can, and learn whatever lessons we can.

I still wish I could do more to help my friends who are struggling right now, but I am thankful that they will come through on the other side…hopefully stronger, happier, and healthier versions of themselves. I look forward to when they too will be able to look back and see the good, and merely respect the sorrow that remains. And, I’m thankful to have the opportunity to support them in any way I can until they get there.

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.

10580156_928186460530330_1819748629669680544_n[Fish are jumpin’, and the cotton is high.]

Ok, enough with my musical theater reference.

Although I love the above referenced song, I am not so sure I agree. Summer is not easy in our home. When you add up four kids-worth of camps, sports practices, and activities; two businesses worth of responsibilities; and regular summer family excursions it is downright hectic and can become exhausting. We are always both sad and excited when school starts back up. Sad because we usually feel we’ve missed most of the summer fun, and excited to get back to a more “normal” routine.

This year though, we have committed to trying to keep summer sacred. This year, Craig and I both are making a more pronounced effort to shave off more “easy” time with our kids.

We are also preparing to ensure we have everything we may need. We have found natural remedies that work really well (in many cases better than store-bought remedies) for common summer challenges like pesky bugs and sunburns. Here are some of our favorites:


“Get Lost” Bug Spray 

We tried quite a few different recipes, and this is the one we have found to work best for us.

In a 4ml spray bottle add:
20 drops repellent blend (I use doTerra’s Terra Shield)
15 drops lemongrass
15 drops peppermint
10 drops cedarwood
(optional, 10 drops lavender)
Fill remainder with your choice of either pure witch hazel, fractionated coconut oil (FCO), or distilled water.

Notes:

  • If you use water, shake well before each use.
  • This is natural, so you will need to reapply every 3-6 hours as needed.
  • For dogs, the oils in this recipe are considered safe, especially at this dilution.
  • For cats, EXCLUDE the peppermint and cedarwood but add the lavender (peppermint is toxic to cats and can cause death if ingested or absorbed through the skin, and cedarwood is listed on the caution list for cats).
  • For horses, I have read that it is better to include the lavender and fill with 1/2 apple cider vinegar and 1/2 distilled water. Do not spray the mixture too close to horse’s eyes though (peppermint can sting), spray into your hands and then rub around ears and on the neck.

Bug Bite Soothing

Whether it is a mosquito bite or bee sting, just apply lavender to the affected area. If it is a tick bite, it is best to mix Melaleuca and Lavender to ensure it is clean (or use the First Aid Spray below).


First Aid Spray

We took a general first aid spray recipe and added two more oils to make a more well-rounded first aid spray. In a 4 ounce spray bottle, mix:

25 drops lavender
25 drops melaleuca
20 drops frankincense
15 drops helichrysum (optional, but we wouldn’t go without it)
Fill the remainder with fractionated coconut oil

This is what we used to help Craig’s face heal after a traumatic injury (Craig is my husband). It is also what we use for general cuts, scrapes, bruises, and tick bites. Some say this would be OK for minor burns too, but I find Melaleuca to be too drying for burns or very dry skin, so I personally wouldn’t choose it unless I had nothing else.


Sunburn Soothing Spray

Sunburn can make things very uncomfortable. We have found this mixture to be very soothing.

In a 4 ounce spray bottle, mix:

20 drops of lavender
10 drops of frankincense (or 10 more of the Lavender if you don’t have any)
2 tablespoons of pure vitamin E oil
Fill remainder with apple cider vinegar

Shake, then spray onto the sunburned area. If the burn is really bad, we’ve soaked soft cotton fabric in more chilled apple cider vinegar and laid the fabric gently over the burned area (after spraying).

Note: We do not use aloe vera because it can be drying, and because our son is allergic to latex. The outer layer of the aloe plant has a substance with very similar makeup to latex, so he reacts. It makes his skin feel like it’s on fire, which obviously is not what we’re going for when he has a sunburn.


Cooling Spray

You know those days when you are sitting in your car or outside and even the breeze makes you sweat? When the heat is really heavy and seems like it just won’t break?

You can make your own “cool breeze.”

Just mix peppermint with either water or fractionated coconut oil in a spray bottle, then spritz  the back of your neck, belly, lower back, or back of your knees. The peppermint creates a cooling sensation. Even a hot breeze will feel cool when it hits the peppermint on your skin.

You only need about 20 drops in a 4 ounce spray bottle. Just be sure to shake before you spray if you use water to dilute.

Note: Some say that mixing with water will increase the potential of a skin reaction, so if you have sensitive skin, you may want to use the FCO instead. We have never had any problems, even with our kids.


Energizing Spray

In a 2 ounce spray bottle, mix:

12 drops peppermint
12 drops of your choice of lemongrass, basil, or rosemary
fill remainder with distilled water or fractionated coconut oil

You can spray this into your hands, rub them together, cup your palms around your nose, and take deep breaths; OR spray onto your clothing or in the air around you. Do not use citrus oils because they are photosensitive (if you apply them to your skin and go into the sun you are far more likely to burn and it can discolor the skin).


These are some of our top “must haves” as we start enjoying summertime. What are yours?

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To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at alicia@healthytangents.com to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.

Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.

Easing Seasonal Discomfort Naturally

Do you want to know what used to annoy me? And I do mean ANNOY me.

Spring Bouquet & ButterfliesYou know those commercials of the gorgeous woman leisurely strolling to a sunny spring window with a bouquet of fresh flowers and throwing open the windows in pure joy because she is FINALLY able to breathe in the fresh, spring air? C’mon, you can picture it right? The birds are chirping, and as she flings open the windows butterflies and sparkles come swirling into her home, wrapping her in a warm, sparkly, spring hug.

Now, I fully admit that this wonderful depiction of springtime joy shouldn’t annoy me. However, when you suffer from seasonal allergies, you don’t see butterflies bearing sparkles; you see well-camouflaged little demons spreading misery-inducing pollen.

Your joy at spring warmth is put on hold while you engage in a weeks-long battle to avoid sinus infections, antibiotics, and steroids. Go for a walk with your kids? NO. That would mean suffering through the next two days not being able to see able to see or think straight.

Ok, yes, this is a bit dramatic. I was going for a bit of comic relief. However, seasonal discomforts can become severe and can ruin spring for many people…or at least put a damper on the festivities. And in many cases, the over the counter medications available don’t provide enough relief.

BUT, did you notice that I used the past tense in my opening sentence? I USED to be annoyed by those commercials?!

By taking action to naturally support my body and regain balance in my digestive system, I have been able to beat my seasonal discomforts down to an occasional runny nose, scratchy throat and mild sinus pressure. And the best part is that now I am able to use wellness products that even kick those discomforts to the curb!

Thank goodness, because I LOVE butterflies. It was quite disturbing when my mind transformed them into evil pollen-carrying demons.

It is highly likely you can enjoy the same results by considering three steps.

1) Balance your Gut: Between 65-80% of your immune system resides in your gut. In order for your immune system to function properly, it needs to be supported by multiple strains of bacteria that play different roles in digestion and other bodily functions. When we choose mostly processed and sugary foods, those bacteria colonies become unbalanced. Bacteria such as candida and H. Pylori can live in that toxic environment and can take over. They excrete additional toxic waste products in your system and can eventually cause a multitude of symptoms such as skin eruptions, digestive issues, inflammation, and eventually autoimmune issues. The best approach is to starve those bacteria and cleansing your system of toxins. The best type of cleanse is a whole-foods-based elimination diet.

Please do not choose any of the longer-period juice cleanses. Juicing removes fiber, and your body needs fiber to remove toxins. So, when you juice for long periods, you do force the release of many toxins, but then your filtering organs are flooded with no way to get rid of them.

2) Restore healthy bacteria in your gut: During any cleanse, you should at the very least take a high-potency probiotic. Based on the research and classes I’ve taken, look for a minimum of 8 strains and 50 billion CFU during your recolonization stage (usually 1-3 months). Make sure the capsules are allergen-free, manufactured recently and stored properly: preferably refrigerated to help keep as many organisms alive as possible. If you choose not to cleanse, taking probiotics is still a great way to support your immune system. After 1-3 months at the 50 billion CFU level, you can drop down to 25 billion CFU for maintenance. I use this probiotic with my clients.

3) Choose natural wellness products as your first line of defense: Before reaching for the prescription or over the counter medications, try to go natural. You may be surprised at how well natural methods can work. I have listed these options in the order in which I would follow if my discomfort continued to escalate. My family and many of my clients have reported far better results with these protocols than with the traditional methods they followed previously.

  • To help ease seasonal sinus discomfort, equal parts of lemon, lavender, and peppermint essential oils mixed into a roller bottle blend is highly effective for most, and very easy to use. Apply behind the ears, behind the neck, base of the spine, and/or bottoms of the feet. Do not apply anywhere that will be in direct sunlight for 6 hours after application since lemon oil is photosensitive and will promote burning. This mix is safe to mix in warm water and drink as a tea.
  • To help ease occasional sinus pressure, apply an essential oil digestive blendto the bridge of your nose, above the eyebrows, and/or above the forehead along the brow line where you feel the pressure (we use one that mixes anise, ginger, fennel, peppermint, tarragon seed, caraway seed, and coriander seed oils). Diffuse an essential oil respiratory blend to help keep the airways open (we use one that includes laurel leaf, peppermint leaf, eucalyptus leaf, melaleuca, lemon peel, ravensara leaf, and cardamom seed essential oils ). If these steps don’t help, try applying a drop of frankincense over the bridge of your nose or place a drop under your tongue.
  • To flush out congestion and make your sinuses a less welcoming place for bacteria to grow, use a Netti Pot or sinus rinse (we use Neil –Med).
  • To help support clear sinus passages, especially when trying to support your body in avoiding a sinus infection, heat some water in the microwave or on the stove. Let the water cool some, but ensure that it is still steaming. Add one drop each of peppermint, melaleuca, oregano, and lavender; then breathe the steam in. Place a towel over your head for more effect. I warn you though, wait about 30 seconds before starting to breathe the oils, and start a head length away from the cup. Move closer as you are able to tolerate it. The oils are potent and can cause a burning sensation to already inflamed sinus tissue if you get too close too fast. Breathe for 30 seconds at least 3-4 times each time.
  • To support your immune system in its efforts to fight off any threatening infections, dilute oregano and melaleuca essential oils and apply to the bottoms of your feet morning and night.

For many of my clients, the gift of enjoying spring with their families again was well worth making the lifestyle changes that enabled that outcome. Please don’t let your fear of the unknown hold you in an uncomfortable pattern. You can help your body find relief. I will help you if you want and/or need me to.

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To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at alicia@healthytangents.com to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.

Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.

“You were right.”

My daughter, Jaylee, is a gymnastics ADDICT. She has NO other interests. She is determined to become an elite gymnast, compete in the NCAA at a top school, and compete in the Olympics at 19 (the first Olympics she will be eligible to compete in if the age requirements stay the way they are). It is so amazing watching her learn the physical and mental dedication it takes to work toward such a lofty goal.
Two weeks ago, I was scrutinizing our current food choices in an effort to make them healthier and better for our daughter Karly, whose little body is fighting off Lyme Disease at the moment. I told Jaylee that I felt that she was eating too much hidden sugar or foods that convert to sugar, and that it was likely a major factor in why she was feeling more tired than usual, and why she had knee ligament pain (something she hasn’t had in the past). So, she started an elimination diet with me…complaining the entire time.
We didn’t start “all-in” right away, because she is picky and I was trying to help her find enough recipes she likes first. We started by ensuring a healthy, no-sugar breakfast each day instead of her normal gluten-free but flour-heavy options (and of course we were also using essential oils and targeted supplements to help support ligament healing).
On Friday night, after practice, Jay spoke up from complete silence in the car and said the three words we parents would all love to hear from our kids more often: “You were right.”
What? I seriously am not sure this particular child has EVER said that before, so of course I was curious. I asked, “Right about what baby?” She replied, “Eating healthier this week really did make a difference. My skills were much better and my knee hurt much less. I had an amazing night. Even my coaches said so.” Wow.
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Yesterday, at her meet, she won third place all-around, first on bars, first on vault, and tied for sixth on floor. She fell off the beam, but not because of knee pain. Win for the Mom. Now, I just hope she remembers that lesson for a very, very long time.

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To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at alicia@healthytangents.com to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.

Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.

Are you sure it’s Lyme Disease? Part 2.

This is a follow-up post to Are you sure it’s Lyme Disease? Ask the right questions before starting antibiotics.

I received some fairly quick responses from my call in to our kids’ pediatrician. The doctor I had been working with to date was out of the office today, so her partner was given my questions. He was less than happy with my efforts to advocate for my daughter. He told the nurse to tell me something like this:

“You need to stop looking on the internet, because information to those uneducated enough to understand what it means just creates problems. You needed to start her on the antibiotics yesterday as instructed, but since you didn’t, do it now. It is a two part test, and both parts were done. We wouldn’t have prescribed the antibiotic if it weren’t safe. Leave the medical decisions to those of us who studied enough to make them.”

Well, OK then.

Even if I ignore the fact that she is my daughter, he is her doctor, and I pay for his SERVICE; even if I ignore the fact that there has been more than one time in my life that either I or one of my children would have become much sicker or possibly died had I NOT done my own research and advocated; even if I ignore the fact that they wouldn’t even have tested for Lyme if I hand’t suggested it; even if I ignored ALL of that…I pay for his service and still have the simple right as a parent or patient to ask questions.

Period.

We all do.

So, now that I distrusted his responses due to how obviously tainted by ego they were, I called the lab to confirm they ran both tests, and they did. I called the pharmacist to ask about whether the Doxycycline will be OK even if the Lyme is in my daughter’s kidneys or liver. She reassured me that this is the best antibiotic for Lyme, even if it has spread to the organs. The contraindication is more for kidney or liver disease. So, I decided to pick up the antibiotic to start today.

AND, now I am doing my research on how to best support my daughter’s healing while she is on the antibiotic. It seems I will at least rotate probiotics in with the antibiotic but on the off-time-cycle (antibiotics at 8am and 8pm, probiotics at 2pm and 2am), and I will be using essential oils that support proper immune function and help the body fight against threats like this.

I am also researching other local pediatricians so I can decide whether to switch offices, because I prefer someone I can partner with, rather than someone who feels he should be able to dictate to me according to his beliefs. Too bad I cannot guarantee that I will always see the partner. She was very considerate.

Please don’t settle when it comes to your childrens’ health. You deserve someone who will partner with you and who will respect you and your feelings/opinions.

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To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at alicia@healthytangents.com to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.

Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.