Health · Wellness

Wellness Wednesday: Those pesky New Year’s Resolutions 

January 4, 2017 I posted my resolutions for the year.  Writing them down is supposed to make them stronger somehow.  I revisited my progress in March and now I’m checking back in.  In a nutshell this is the condensed version of them.

Resolution #1

January 4, 2017:   Try to cut back on processed foods and find exercises that I can do even with my feet in the terrible condition they are in. Walking, running, and any type of exercise that puts pressure on my feet are out so some research is going to be necessary. Weight loss would be great but my goal is a stronger, healthier body.

March:  I have lengthened my yoga routine and perform it at least 5 times a week (sometimes more). My body complains whenever I skip it. My feet and ankles are getting stronger and I’ve found some cardio moves that I can do that don’t put too much pressure on my feet. I must confess that I am still eating unhealthy snacks after dinner and am trying desperately to stop. I am so mad at myself afterwards, but can’t seem to keep myself from doing it. Needless to say, no weight loss has occurred.

September:  It is now September and I can honestly say that I feel like I have fulfilled this resolution. Although not to the extent that I would have liked. Our garden has provided a bounty of fresh vegetables this season and I’m proud to say that we eat one meatless meal almost every week. I don’t think it’s helped us cut back on junk food consumption as much I would have liked, but there’s always next year’s resolutions. I’m sure we eat a lot less processed foods than other families, but I haven’t been able to reduce my portions enough to lose even a pound of weight. My late night snacking is still a problem as well. I keep trying though. My yoga routine went out the window as soon as school was out for the summer. Unless I got up at 6am and performed my routine in the cramped quarters of my bedroom, someone always walked in and disturbed me. I tried to get my girls to practice yoga with me and they pretty much put an end to my yoga routine as well as resolution number 2 (no yelling). All they wanted to do was talk, giggle, or complain that it was too hard. Near the end of June however I realized that while I wasn’t really strong enough to swim enough laps in our pool for it to make much difference, I could tread water. I have been doing this almost daily and can now easily tread for over 30 minutes without getting out of breath. This is great exercise for me since it puts no pressure on those painful feet of mine. I even manage to swim a few laps during my time in the water. While I haven’t lost any weight I have toned up my legs considerably. Alas all good things must come to an end, the weather is getting colder and our schedules are getting busier and I’m already having trouble finding time (or high enough temperatures) for my swim. Maybe I can get back to yoga with the kids in school? Or maybe I’m strong enough to try bicycling.

Resolution #2

January:  This one is for the entire family. We need to yell less and listen more. Our new mantra is going to be: STOP, LISTEN, BREATHE, THINK, and then ACT. No yelling, I’ve learned it doesn’t do any good anyway. 

March:  I must say that I was doing great until the end of January (3 whole weeks) when I exploded over my eldest daughter’s lack of concern about practicing for her speech and song for the impending Jr. Beta Convention. I was so frustrated with her indifferent attitude that I didn’t even realize I was yelling until it was over.  Time to start over again.

September:  Somehow I don’t think my family will ever fulfill this resolution.  We’re loud and emotional and unfortunately that leads to yelling especially when we’re frustrated by other family members actions (or lack their of).  Back to January’s mantra, “STOP, LISTEN, BREATHE, THINK, and then ACT.”  Maybe I can have it tattooed on everyone’s foreheads so we’ll see it before we speak.  I’m afraid it’s going to take something that drastic to force a change in this behavior.

Resolution #3:

January:  I resolve to create a “Happiness Journal” to record the things I’m thankful for that make me happy every day, and I will try to live in the moment and appreciate every minute whether difficult or joyous.”

March:  I started off great (not exactly). I purchased a journal and titled it. Then one month later (February 4th, to be exact) I made my first entry in it. It was two pages long and consisted of me venting my frustrations about my entire family. In the end I finally managed to find two tiny things to be grateful for. One week later I managed a list of three things that I was happy about. I haven’t touched it since. It’s time for a re-boot on Resolution 3 as well.
September:  In preparation for this post, I spent 30 minutes searching for my “Happiness Journal,” that should tell you how well I’m doing with this resolution.  After March’s post I dutifully tried (for 2 days) to list things that made me happy, but I found that what I really wanted to do was vent about all the things that had made me mad that day.  I wasn’t sure how healthy that would be (now I’m thinking maybe it would be a good idea, at least I wouldn’t keep things bottled up inside me until I explode thereby breaking Resolution #2).  Needless to say nothing else was written until I dug out the journal for this post.  The first day of the “re-boot” I managed to list 2 things I was happy about.  Imagine that, after 6 months you’d think the list would be longer than that.  The next night when I couldn’t sleep I used the journal to vent about all the changes I want to make in my life so maybe then I’d have something to write in a “Happiness Journal.”  Maybe I should just rename this journal “Things I Think Would Make me Happy” or “Journal for Venting my Frustrations so I don’t Break Resolution #2.”  

I’m writing all this to give you a little hope, not to discourage you from making resolutions.  We may not stick to the letter of our January resolutions, but some part of our proposed positive changes usually stick.  And any positive change in our lives is a win in my book, no matter how small.  What I have learned is that your resolutions should be small (think baby steps) and realistic.  

 

Health · Wellness

Wellness Wednesday: August oil of the month: Lavender Flower CO2


Plant Therapy, the essential oil company that I promote, always picks one essential oil to highlight each month and this month it is Lavender Flower CO2.  If you select the previous link you can read their blog post on this unique oil.  Apparently it has a crisper and cleaner aroma than steam distilled lavender (which is what I’ve always used) due to lower temperatures used for CO2 extraction.  This retains more of the beneficial properties of the plant allowing for stronger calming and relaxing effects on our emotional well-being.  I personally can’t wait to try a stronger/better version of one of my favorite Essential Oils.

If you click the link they also share this formula for a Multi purpose blend that can be used on blemishes, bug bites, minor scrapes and sore muscles!

3 drops of Lavender Flower CO2 Lavandula angustifolia
2 drops of Chamomile Roman  Chamamelum nobile
2 drops of  Bergamot Citrus bergamia
2 drops of Cedarwood Atlas Cedrus atlantica
10 ml of carrier oil or Aloe Vera Jelly

If you mix it with a carrier oil such as coconut oil, then this will fit perfectly into a roller bottle.  I carry a similar blend in my purse for cuts, scrapes, and bug bites on-the-go!  If you use the aloe jelly, a jar or tiny squeeze bottle would work better.
If you would like to learn more about or purchase this or any other essential oil, please feel free to contact me, either in the comment section here, or on my “Yes, there will be pancakes” Facebook page, or at NaturesEssentialsPT@gmail.com.

 

Family · Health · Wellness

Wellness Wednesday – How to clean your Steam Humidifier

I know that there is a lot of “discussion” over the type of humidifier to use and I’ll admit that opinions vary even in our own household.

A cool mist humidifier seems to work best for my husband who has broken his nose so many times and has not had it “reset” correctly so the airways inside his sinus passages are blocked and/or caved in.  Therefore the mucous (gross, I know, at least I didn’t say snot) that our body creates to lubricate our sinuses gets all clogged up in there when he lays down to sleep.  His doctor had a much more technical description for his problem, but that’s the gist of it.  He needs a more humid environment when he sleeps so his sinuses don’t get stopped up with thick gluey mucous (gross, again).  Neither he nor I can sleep in a warm humid environment so we tried a cool mist humidifier first and it seems to be working great, at least until he decides to have his nose surgically repaired.

My daughters seem to breathe easier with a warm steam humidifier when they get head and/or chest congestion from allergies or colds.  That warm “steam room” environment provided by the heated mist really seems to ease their breathing better than a cool mist.

I’m not going to spend my time trying to convince you that one type of humidifier is better than the other when clearly our family can’t even agree.  All I will say is find the type that works best for you and then the most important thing is to:  Keep it CLEAN!!  Because whether it is cold or hot, it is always WET and all sorts of things including mold, bacteria, and fungus thrive in a damp environment.  All humidifiers, if used regularly, should be rinsed out and dried with a soft cloth once a week and they should be majorly cleaned once a month.

Today we’ll concentrate on steam humidifiers as I think they are a little more difficult to keep clean, especially if you have hard water.   Our humidifier requires that you add a pinch of salt with the water each time you refill it.  The salt helps create an electric current which produces the steam, but the current also pulls minerals out of the water and deposits them within the diffuser mechanism as well as in the bottom of the water receptacle.  As you can see from my pictures:

  1. Assemble your supplies:  A large (4 cup) measuring cup that will hold your diffuser mechanism, white vinegar, an old toothbrush, cleaning cloths, a grease-dissolving cleaning spray, magic erasers, and patience (it takes a long time to dissolve “rocks” using only vinegar).
  2. Pour 1/2 cup vinegar into your large measuring cup then fill to 2 cup line with water.  Place diffusing unit in measuring cup and let it soak (you may have to add more water to completely submerge the device, but don’t let it reach above the collar to the motor. Don’t get the motor wet!).
  3. Allow device to soak, checking every 30 minutes to see what minerals have broken free.  This process can take as little as an hour and as long as 8 hours (and several changes of the vinegar solution) depending on how dirty your humidifier is.  You’ll know you’re finished when the device no longer rattles if you give it a little shake.  Here’s a sample of what I got out of mine:IMG_6177
  4. Next use some of that de-greaser spray to clean the top of the humidifier as well as the water receptacle (Be careful not to let any drip into the motor).

     

  5. Next use your magic eraser to clean the remaining stains off the plastic.
  6. Your finished project should look like this:
Health · Wellness

Wellness Wednesday:  How to clean your essential oil diffuser

Over the years I have read lots of instructions on how to properly clean an essential oil diffuser. All of them a little different, but all adamant that you be very careful not to damage the metal disk at the bottom which is responsible for aerosolizing the water (and oils).  Through lots of trial and error I have determined this to be the best method for me:

  1. Fill the water reservoir half full, and add in 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar. I probably use more vinegar than this since I don’t measure and just pour some in, but let’s stick with 1/2 teaspoon to be safe. We don’t want to damage anything. Run the diffuser for 5-10 minutes to allow the vinegar/water mixture to work through and loosen up the gunk. IMG_6142
  2. Turn off the diffuser, unplug it, and dump the water out. Be extra careful when you dump, as getting any water into the underside of the machine or into the motor area will ruin it.
  3. Then wipe out the inside of the diffuser with a soft cloth or q-tip.  Don’t use anything like a brush or toothpick that could scratch the ultrasonic disk in the bottom.  Pay special attention to cleaning the metal disk as these often cause the most issues when they get dirty (a q-tip  works especially well here).  You can use a drop of lemon essential oil on your brush or q-tip if you need to cut through extra grime.
  4. Also pay close attention to the hole and crevices in the top of your diffuser as they can get clogged with build-up as well. Again, a q-tip works well here.
  5. Cut a “magic eraser” into 1″ squares, wet them, and use to remove stubborn stains on the plastic (inside and out). Just remember to avoid the silver disk. This will make your diffuser look almost like new!IMG_6146
  6. Wipe all surfaces with a soft, damp cloth to remove any “eraser” residue and it’s ready to use.
Family · Holidays · Wellness

Essential Top 6 Essential Oils

Mother’s Day (May 14, 2017) is just around the corner so I thought I’d write a post about the essential oils that I think are the “Essential Top 6 Essential Oils” (Ha Ha!) in case you need inspiration for a gift.    Essential oils are so useful in day to day life.  I don’t know what I ever did without them.  I use them in my kitchen counter cleaning spray,  mop water,  hand cream, face oil, and bath salts.  I have roll-on formulas for headaches, sinus congestion, allergies, and tummy aches.  I even carry a “first aid” oil roll-on in my purse for cuts, scratches, and bug bites.

And the new uses for them keep appearing.  Here’s an example: One of my cats “got sick” in my bedroom the other day and the smell was AWFUL!  I used a mixture of lemon, rosemary, tea tree, lavender, and pine in my diffuser to purify the air.  It worked wonderfully!  No more stinky sick cat smell.  The room smelled fresh and clean.

My girls have diffusers in their rooms to help them sleep, or with seasonal allergy symptoms, or congestion.  So you see there are a million uses and close to that many oils.  The possibilities are endless and sometimes overwhelming.  So here’s my list of my Top Six to get you (or your mother) started.

  1. Lavender – calming, relaxing, helps with sleep.  Treats scars, wrinkles, and minor skin burns.  And lessens itching from bug bites.
  2. Eucalyptus – great for congestion.  Apply topically to aching muscles and joints.  Can stimulate circulation as well as aid mental focus.
  3. Peppermint – has a cooling effect on the skin.  Dilute and apply topically for headache or indigestion; just a sniff calms a queasy stomach.
  4. Lemon – anti-bacterial:  boosts the immune system and is also great to add to cleaning products for this reason.  Apply topically to cold sores but watch for photosensitivity.
  5. Rosemary – stimulating, warming, and refreshing.  Add to eucalyptus to treat congestion or muscle aches.  Add to peppermint and dilute for a great tummy soother.  Also aids mental alertness when combined with lemon and/or peppermint.
  6. Frankincense – immune booster.  Also promotes clear breathing, and clear mindedness.  Smells amazing!IMG_6042

As you know, I use and sell Plant Therapy Essential Oils as well as my own blends (Nature’s Essentials) so if there is anything I can get or make for you just let me know.

 

 

Health · Wellness

Wellness Wednesday-Sore Muscle Soak

The other day my husband came home from work complaining of sore muscles in his lower back because he had spent the day moving paint cans from one shelf to another (and then back again).  We performed the usual sore muscle routine: ice and ibuprofen but as the evening progressed he didn’t seem to be improving.  Knowing he had to go back to work today and move the paint cans (back and forth) again today, I offered to make him a “Sore Muscle Soak” for the bath.  Of course, being a man, he said he was fine (repeatedly) until he finally admitted that it sounded like a good idea once our girls were finally in bed.  So here’s my formula, this makes enough for 1 bath:

IMG_5838


Sore Muscle Soak
4 drops Wintergreen essential oil
4 drops Juniper Berry essential oil
5 drops Rosemary essential oil
5 drops Frankincense Serrata essential oil
10 drops Lavender essential oil
1/4 cup Epsom Salt
1/4 cup Baking Soda

Combine Epsom Salt and Baking Soda in non-reactive glass jar.  Add essential oils one at a time, stirring between each additional oil.  This can now be stored for up to 3 months in a sealed glass container or immediately added to a warm bath.  Soak for about 30 minutes to relieve muscle soreness.

 Each of these oils helps with muscle pain, inflammation, AND relaxation, so this mixture is perfect for a nice long soak.   My husband actually admitted to feeling much better after his bath!

Family · Health · Travel · Wellness

Trip of a Lifetime turns into trip to ER

I was trying to write a fun 3-day travel itinerary for Memphis for today but I’m having difficulties. Since today is World Health Day my problems sort of fit in with the theme of the day. This day marks the anniversary of the World Health Organization (WHO), which was founded in 1948. The World Health Organization is the leading global health authority within the United Nations System. Every year they have a theme that pertains to an international health issue; this year’s theme is Depression. Although I am saddened by the current turn of events, I wouldn’t call it depression, but, as you will see by the end of this post, there is a connection.

Monday my mother and John, her significant other, went to Saguaro National Park in Tucson, AZ, to see the Saguaro Cacti bloom. It may sound strange to many of you, but it was something she has always wanted to see. She had been having respiratory issues for the past three weeks leading up to the trip and had seen the doctor several times including right before they left for Arizona. Steroid shots, antibiotics, and a “rescue inhaler” were all that were prescribed. She was short of breath but the inhaler seemed to help and they had a lovely day Tuesday looking at the Cacti.

img_5813

But at 3am Wednesday morning she woke up having difficulty breathing and by 6am John called an ambulance. They arrived in the ER and she was given a chest x-ray and lots of blood work. Doctors thought it might be pneumonia and admitted her to hospital for antibiotics and steroids. I thought things were okay. Then I received a phone call at 4:30 my time (2:30 PST) from the hospital. It was the doctor in the Intensive Care Unit telling me that my mother had collapsed and was septic; she had to be intubated and was now in the ICU on a ventilator with a major change in antibiotics plus vasopressors and diuretics for her heart. WHOA! Big change! He mentioned tests for pneumonia and Congestive Heart Failure and of course my emotions were on a roller coaster.

Yesterday, Thursday, she showed signs of improvement and they were able to take her off the ventilator. Her blood work results were better and her test results came back negative for flu. Another chest x-ray showed positive changes over yesterday’s. They are still waiting on results from blood and sputum samples, but since she seems to be responding to the antibiotics they are assuming bacterial pneumonia for now.

Isn’t it sad that a trip of a lifetime can change so suddenly and drastically? So here is a link to a wonderful article on getting through hard times. I have a copy saved on my iPad and read it whenever I have to deal with one of life’s bigger “curveballs”. It helps you realize that you are not alone in your troubles. The hardest part is not being able to be there with her. I’m usually “just around the corner” and can be there when she needs me. This distance is difficult to handle.

Today is her birthday and that makes it even harder. So Happy 76th Birthday Mom! I Love You! I know you will be better soon and able to come home.