A Healthy Hint of Green

My health took a turn for the worse three years ago when I developed Lyme disease. As a part of my healing process, I reevaluated all the chemicals that I used in our home and on my body.  Up until that point, I knew many the products I used had chemicals in them, but I just took it for granted that they were safe.  Experience is the best teacher, as they say!

Below are some tricks that I’ve learned to use to be a little more heathy while lessening the toxins on/in my body.

Healthy Aromas

Before Lyme, I loved having candles burning in our home. I also used scented dryer sheets and fragrant laundry detergents, lotions and soaps.  Sadly, all of these things are not very healthy for the immune system due to all the man-made fragrances and chemicals in these products.

IMG_1004I now use diffusers in both the bedroom and livingroom. You can create healthy and pleasing scents with just a few drops of essential oils of your choosing. Be sure to research them; don’t just purchase any oil on the market! (Check out my post Diffusing the Confusion About Essential Oils.)   Personally, I like lavender and geranium together for sleeping.  Clove and orange or lemon and eucalyptus are great in the living room.  And both these combinations are helpful in building up your immune system.

Interestingly enough, when I lit a popular commmerical brand of candle in my home, after being ill with Lyme for many months, I had quite a different reaction than my before-Lyme lifestyle. Before Lyme, I enjoyed the heavy candle scent.  Now, candle scents are overwhelming to me, and I can honestly say that I haven’t burned those candles, or any candle, since.  I prefer essential oils because they give you a clean, light smell without the heaviness you can experience with candles. And because oils are so concentrated, you only use a few drops at a time. The oils produce a long-lasting scent, but they can also can provide health benefits, like altering moods or boosting the immune system.

During the winter months,  I have found that diffusing oils in my home has cut down on illness in my family, too.  We haven’t been hit with a stomach bug in over two years, and I’m very confident that it has to do with using essential oils.  I typically diffuse lemon eucalpytus in the living room, which is known to be a great germ killer.  When I  experienced some congestion early in my Lyme illness, I found that shaking a few drops of this same oil while taking my shower helped to diffuse the oil into the air and also made it easier to breathe.

Healthy Showering

When I started this switch, I thought about all the products that I used in the shower: soap, shampoo, conditioner, and shaving cream.   Between those four products, I was easily putting hundreds of compounds on my skin and into my system daily.  A pretty scary thought when I couldn’t even pronounce most of the ingredients!

Now, I try to purchase shampoos and conditioners  that are better for my hair and system in general.  My hair dresser has a line of hair products that are more natural than commerical products you can find in the stores, and I also have learned how to make my own soaps, without the harsh chemicals and fragrances.  Before learning how to make soap, I did use Dr. Bronner’s Castile soaps and Shea Moisture products, which I found to be healthier in some respects.   But now that I make my own soap, I haven’t purchased bar soap for my family in three years!  I can use whatever essential oils that I like to scent my own soaps, and since I know what is in them, I know what is going on/in my skin. IMG_1005

Another decision I made was that my body washing product would double as my shaving product, thus cutting down on the amount of products I’d need to use.  And I found that my homemade soaps work just as well as a shaving cream because they lather well–and smell nice, too!

Heathly Cleaners

If you really are into organic cleaning, you can learn how to make your own cleaners with essential oils.  Valerie Worwood’s book The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, 25th Anniversary Edition, has wonderful information about how to use essential oils for many uses, including home cleaners.IMG_1003

If you’re not into the Ma Kettle mode yet, you can research and purchase more ‘green’ products like Mrs. Meyer’s. I have used the hand soaps,  all-purpose cleaners and tile and tub cleaner from time to time.  I love the scents like Basil and Honeysuckle. The company also has seasonal scents like Peppermint and Orange and Clove.  It was because of the Orange and Clove hand soap that I then made my own mix of the same essential oils to diffuse in my home!

I purchased Woolsie’s dryer balls, and I won’t ever use a dryer sheet again.  The dryer balls work just as well, and because I do love smells, I just add a few drops of an essential oil on the dryer balls to get a healthy smell in my clothing.  There are unscented dryer sheets, but I perfer the dryer balls since they last a longer time than the sheets.

For washing my clothes, I use fragrance-free detergents. My clothes are clean without harsh chemicals or perfumes.

For the dishwasher, I am still mainstream with Finish dishwasher tabs.  I tried a ‘green’ brand–I can’t remember which one–but found that they didn’t seem to clean as well. I’m still on the hunt for a product that I like, and I’m sure I’ll find one.

Healthy Personal Products

Deodorants that didn’t burn or were effective were hard to find.  Tom’s brand would burn, and Kiss My Face brand didn’t seem to work at all for me.  But then I tried a brand called Crystal Essence.  I purchased both a roll-on and stick, and both seem to work well for me.IMG_1007 I also use Tom’s toothpastes and mouthwashes.

And while I’m not a big make-up person, I do like to make myself look a little more glamourous from time to time. But it’s been challenging to find ‘green’ make up that isn’t expensive.  I love Burt’s Bees lip products, and was happy to find recently that in addition to their lip balms, some stores also carry blush, eye shadow, and mascara.

Making the Healthy Switch

I knew it would be super expensive to just toss all my soaps, cleaners, lotions, deodorants, and make-up all at once.  I also didn’t know how my body would react to certain products, or how well they would actually perform.  So, I’d purchase one or two items to test at a time.

Three years later,  I’m happy that I made the changes that I did.  Much like my health returning, going green has been a gradual process, but I’m satisified that I have started to replace the more chemical-laden products that we use for ones that are a little more green.

Have you thought about going more green?  If you have, share your story.

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

lymeheadIt has been almost three and a half years since I started my battle with Lyme disease. My  “diagnosis”(–many like myself, who have Lyme, don’t get a definitive “You’ve got Lyme” confirmation from a medical doctor–) gave a name to my symptoms, but not a solution. My health declined steadily within a few months, and then kept me out of work for six more. My visits to medical doctors, who did not give me the correct help that I needed, left me questioning everything I had come to expect as fact about myself, my health, and the medical community at large.

Since I took control of my health with lots of legwork and missteps along the way, I’ve come out much better than most with Lyme. It is still largely misdiagnosed and not treated properly, causing more undue damage to so many victims.  Over 300,000 people are diagnosed each year, and people can die from complications from this insideous disease. It affects all organs in the body, and can render people with debilitating neurological and other health issues. I was determined not to be a casualty from Lyme disease, and out of this horrible experience, many wonderful things have happened.

In three years, I have learned to manage my diet to control symptoms. I’ve found out about Nutritional Response Testing, which has helped me to manage symptoms and continue to improve my health in slow, steady steps.

I use essential oils both topically and in diffusers to help boost my immune system. I have salt lamps and air-purifying plants at home and at work.

I’ve learned to say ‘no’ to various social activities when I feel like I won’t have the stamina for it, and not feel guilty about it. I try to delegate chores more now at home, realizing that I only have time and energy for so much in a day, Lyme or not.

And I’ve learned to appreciate each day, and enjoy little things that I took for granted before Lyme: reading a book, making my daughter’s lunch, vacuuming!

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Sunny, Flowers and Tea, Lavender, Ginger Honey and Honeysuckle

But one of the truly remarkable things that have come out of this is my new hobby of making soap, thanks to a cousin of mine. At that time, in the midst of learning about my illness and my body’s response to it, I was trying to rid my body of any extra toxins that could possibly be in all the typical products that I used for daily routines of health and cleanliness.  This hobby, spurred on for health reasons, quickly sparked my creativity.  Over a year later from first learning how to make soap, I had made over 100 bars and was giving it away!  So many people I knew kept asking, “When are you going to sell? When are you going to sell?” One thing led to another, and then my home business started. I am happy that my soap is now being sold in two local stores, and I will be celebrating one year in business this August. When I look back on these past three years, it seems so amazing to me that I’ve been able to go from being completely bedridden and homebound, to back at work as a Kindergarten teacher, to the owner of a home business!  

My husband has been my biggest supporter from the start.  His background in art and graphics was a wonderful asset when we worked together to name my business, and he then artfully designed my beautiful logo.  He’s given me ideas of how to label the various soaps that I create, and even helped transform a room in our home into my soap office by building two shelving racks for curing my soaps.

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Here is one of the shelves built by my husband.

My family, friends, and coworkers continue to give me product ideas as well as leads of where to sell my product. And acquaintances and even complete strangers have purchased my product and continue to inspire and support me. 

In support of Lyme Disease month, I am also trying to raise money through the sales of some of my lime inspired soaps.  Any monies raised are going to the American Lyme Disease Foundation, located in Lyme, Connecticut.

I’ve also started a Lyme Disease support group in my hometown.  We met for the first time last week, and I’m hoping as more people become aware of the group, we can do some outreach in our town to help educate and inform residents.  I felt like I lost so much time when I was so sick three years ago, so I’m now trying to find little ways to support those who suffer.  Lyme is a very isolating and complex illness that requires persistence and passion, and a steady hand to keep it in check.

Lyme disease has truly changed my life, but without it, I know I never would have taken control of my health, or started a business, or a created a support group.

Who knows what is next for me?  I don’t know, but I do know that slow and steady wins the race.

And I’m determined to win at this race called  Lyme Disease.

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

More

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We have an obsession with “more” in this country.

More tests for kids equals higher achievement scores.

 More money means happier people.

 More technology means more time and connections with people.

More access to guns means safer communities.

Really?

How about more parenting and discipline classes for people expecting babies?

How about more time to play and socialize in schools?

How about more healthy food choices at fast food restaurants? And books for the ‘prize’ in those happy meals, instead of more of those chintzy toys.

How about more books and music and arts in the lives of our children?

How about more affordable college educations for our young adults?

How about more affordable loans for those wanting to start a second career, buy a home, or start a business?

How about more financial programs for students so they learn how to budget and save for the future?

How about more programs and laws that support equality for everyone—black, white, gay, straight, rich, or poor?

How about more social programs for families experiencing difficulties with mental illness, drugs, or addictions?

How about more programs to help the elderly stay in their homes and get the medical care they need when living on a fixed income?

How about jobs that people can depend on?

How about insurance programs that work for all incomes?

 

How about more for people and families in this country instead of less?

6 WAYS TO BE SMART, SAVY, AND SCHOOL-FRIENDLY IN THE DIGITAL AGE

 

20160606_111639_resizedOk, kids. Technology has made things easier to some degree in our lives, but not necessarily any smarter. Let’s go over a few things to keep in mind when you are granting ‘all access to you all the time’ on your Smartphone and social media accounts. And let’s see how you can be smarter for your kids and you at your child’s school for the next school year.

REMEMBER: SAFETY FIRST

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Oftentimes, Facebook pages light up with parent complaints about not feeling ‘welcome’ anymore at their child’s school when it comes to attending school functions. Translation: they are upset that they have to sign up to attend school events and just can’t “show up” to “help out” anymore.

When frustration takes over at these seemingly unfriendly school rules, we as parents need to remember that schools are first and foremost, places of learning for students.

Sadly, we live in a much more socially dangerous time, where adults and children have access to guns and other weapons. They cause unthinkable carnage at schools and other public places. Innocent people are killed, families are destroyed, and schools are left trying to make sense of it all while still continuing on valiantly to educate students in the pressing age of data driven instruction and assessment.

Many schools now have systems and procedures in place to account for people in and out of the building as a result of the violence that occurs daily across our country. Principals request all dismissal information to be sent in paper format and parents to call if a child is absent. Schools have set arrival and dismissal times and procedures for all students, whether they are driven in, walk, or ride the bus. And schools have much tighter security during the day, where doors are locked and teachers use swipe keys to enter and exit.

These are safety measures for your children and the adults in the building. The rules that are in place are not made to make you feel unwelcome. They are put in place to keep everyone safe.

So don’t become upset when your child’s school asks for parents to sign to attend a school function. It’s much smarter to realize that your child is in a building with hundreds of other children who also deserve to be just as safe as your child. And you would want those parents to follow the safety rules for the sake of your child’s safety, too.

ANNOUNCE YOUR VISIT

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Imagine this: You’ve got a big presentation to that you are working on for your job. You went in early to get a head start on the day. Then there’s a knock at your door and your boss is standing there. She needs to you work on some other task right away, even though she knows that you are in the middle of your presentation work. Not the best time, right?

You may think you are doing something loving for your child by a surprise visit to the school by dropping off the forgotten homework or instrument. These seemingly innocent little unannounced visits interrupt the secretary trying to manage the school, the teacher trying to work with students, and your child trying to learn.

A smarter way: pack and check the bag the night before with your child. And don’t worry. One day without the violin or the homework isn’t going to put an end to your child’s school career. Use the forgotten item as a way to remember to plan ahead instead of an excuse to just pop in at school.


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Parking can also be an issue at schools. As a teacher, I’ve almost been hit by parents countless times zooming in or out of a school parking lot. Imagine how you would feel if your child were hit by a parent. Or what if, in your haste, you hit another child? Parking procedures are in place to keep everyone safe, including your child, as well as the other students in the school.

There are universal parking rules, like marked handicapped spaces, that need to be adhered to whenever you public places, including schools. And then there are signs at schools that indicate where you can and cannot park because of bus drop offs and fire regulations. At my school, the whole front lot is for parents, and teachers need to park on the side and in the back lots. We work there, and we as teachers need to follow the parking rules just like the parents. Disregarding the signs or rules because you are the PTA President or because you are ‘just running in’ to the school puts others at risk and also shows that you feel you are above any rules. It also sends a message to your child that if my adult doesn’t follow the rules, I don’t need to, either. Everyone: parents, children and teachers, who are part of a school community, needs to follow the parking and safety rules for the benefit of all.

TURN OFF YOUR PHONE

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I love my phone. And I know we all have become so attached to all the aspects of a Smartphone: texting, taking pictures, tweeting, and instant access to online information-all.the.time. It’s a great device for quick communication, but with it comes responsibility of how much and when to use it.

When attending a function at your child’s school, please turn off your phone- especially on field trips, when you are in charge of students. No one likes to hear it ring, and if you really have to check it for messages, or text someone, or look on Facebook, then you’re not paying attention to the kids, and shouldn’t you be? And don’t post those photos that you took of your child performing with other kids. You know the ones…the ones you took while you were blocking the view of the parents behind you who were trying to watch their child.

Save the photo ops until you meet up with your child afterwards. You’ll be able to enjoy the performance from start to finish and get better close-ups later on.

 WHICH OF THESE TWO IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER?

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I had the opportunity to attend two spring school performances this past year. One was my daughter’s chorus and band concert and the other was my niece’s school play. I won’t pinpoint which event was which, but let’s see if you can spot the difference between the two events. At one event, all the audience members, parents and children, were seated quietly and respectfully, listening and clapping as appropriate. At the other, younger children were wandering all over the auditorium with their friends before and during the actual performance, switching seats and just generally being not good audience members like they are taught in school. A pair of parents sitting directly in front of me could hear their children making noise in balcony seats overhead and instead of retrieving their children and sitting with them, the adults just watched them from afar, gesturing to their kids to be quiet.

Can you tell which event was the more difficult of the two to enjoy? In both instances, the children and teachers had worked all year to perfect their skills, and yet only one audience really showed the proper respect for all their hard work. And sadly, it was the parents who were the ones who weren’t holding their children accountable for their concert behavior, not the teachers.

TEACHER TROUBLE?  TALK IN PERSON

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I really enjoy social media. I have gotten in touch with friends that I haven’t been in contact with in years, and family and friends who are out of state can keep in touch with my family and me. I use it as a way to have fun, and I try to be very cognizant and careful about what I post.

Once August hits and teacher assignments are determined, I often see posts from parents asking about whose kid has or had this teacher and whether the teacher was kind, nice, mean, etc. If you like or dislike a particular teacher, that is certainly is your right. But guess what? It also can remain your private business! It gives me a pit in my stomach, wondering what is being said about me. I am a teacher myself, and I know I work very hard to do the best job I can do for my students. I also know that I am human and have made errors in my career. I would just rather hear about it in person rather than read about it on social media.

Think of it this way: Would you like your kid to post on a social media site how mean, nice, or strict you are at home? Probably not. How about your boss posting on your work performance for everyone to formulate an opinion, regardless of whether or not all the facts are presented? Again, probably a negative.

Conversations about placement should be held in person with the teacher, not with your friends on Facebook.

That’s it for today. So, how do you measure up when it comes to social media and school relationships? Do you pass with flying colors or do you need to brush up on a few skills?

That’s ok.

That’s why we go to school.

Class dismissed.

 

EXTRA CREDIT

Track how often you check and use your phone for messages, texting, and checking your social media accounts for three days. Compare that to the amount of time you spend with your children and spouse.

Which takes up more of your time?

Which SHOULD take up more of your time?

 

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

Thank you!

Dedicated to Chris Teodosio, my loving husband, and Allison, Dave, Emily and Maddie Beggs

lymeheadWell, it’s been about a year and a half since I came down with Lyme and embarked on my adventures. And what a year and a half it has been!

I went from being an energetic, functioning Mom, wife, and Kindergarten teacher, to a bed-ridden one, who was out of work for six months.

I became my own best advocate, needing and finding treatments outside of the regular medical field. I slowly found my stamina and drive come back over many months, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize that I wouldn’t be in this healthy place if it weren’t for my husband. Through a series of connections, he led me to my ‘woo woo’ guy in New York, who has really helped me get my life back.

It was not easy to think “outside the Western Medical box” and go the naturopathic route. It took a huge leap of faith for me to do so, but I had gotten to the point in my illness that I really didn’t have much more to lose, other than more of my health and livelihood.

And that just wasn’t an option for me. 
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My biggest struggle with this illness has been the impact of a no sugar, no wheat, no carbs–basically,  a “no fun food” diet. I have been very faithful to what I call my “kale, meat and green tea” diet. Healthy, but not always embraced in our carb-laden society. Nor what my taste buds really wanted to enjoy, either!

But I think my diligence with the diet and the supplements is starting to pay off a bit.

I just recently started eating my favorite summer lunch: mini mozzarella balls, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, and almonds—topped with dressing made with Apple Cider Vinegar, olive oil, and seasonings.

I’m also drinking more flavored teas (I live on the edge–I brew 3 green tea bags and 1 ginger together for a full pitcher of tea.)  This past weekend, I tried a seltzer with orange flavor after having worked in the yard pretty much all day.  It was both refreshing to be outside that long AND drink the seltzer without pain!  YIPPEE!

But this kismet hasn’t been without the constant support of my family and friends.

My sister posted an adorable picture of her daughters doing the Lyme disease challenge in my honor today. Her caption was, “A little late and a continent away, but we did it for you!”

It made my heart swell and made me a little teary.

Because it’s never too late to show your love and support for anyone.

I realize how fortunate I am that I have experienced so much support from the start of my diagnosis so long ago.  Family members would reach out, some of them daily, and my co-workers and students were so generous with their own time and gifts as well.  I still look at the cards and mementos that I received from time to time; it seems so surreal that I was out of the classroom for so long, and for something that I didn’t even realize I had, until my symptoms became impossible to ignore.

When I went back to work this past fall, my colleagues would often ask how I was feeling. It doesn’t seem like much, but those little interactions often got me through some rough days. Days that had nothing to do with my Lyme, but rough nonetheless.  It showed that people really did care and were thoughtful enough to ask.

And even though I am much better, people still ask about my health and share all kinds of information with me about Lyme, just in case I missed something new that has popped up in the news on Lyme research.

My sister’s photo of my nieces biting into slices of lime is yet another reminder to me  of how even the smallest action, like a card or email or photo, can really boost someone’s spirit.

So, thank you for thinking of me.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

And think about how you can support those closest to you.

Love is free…so give it freely!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

DON’T CALL ME….I’LL CALL YOU

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I saw this post come across my Facebook feed this morning.

Apparently, Snap Chat has added a Maps feature. Now, anyone that is on your contact list can actually see where you are and what you are doing in real-time. The teenager was demonstrating the new feature, and Mom in the video was clearly upset and rightfully so.

This got me thinking:

How may of your kid’s friends has a phone?

How many use Snap chat?

How many are dating?

And what is to prevent any one of these kids from stalking or harassing your child via Snap Chat?

My ten-year old does not have a phone, although she tries to explain the two reasons why she should.

Her friends have one.

I can get in touch with her when she’s not home.

My response?

When you are old enough to pay for it each month, you can have one.

And if I don’t know where you are and can’t reach you, shame on me.

My job as a parent is to know whom you are with and where you are.

All.The.Time.

One parent I spoke with about this very issue said that her eight-year-old daughter’s friend has a phone. The parents are divorced, and the phone allows the Mom to contact her daughter when she’s with the father.

WHAT????

I have a message for the divorced Mom: if your ex won’t let you talk to the child on the phone, then there’s a bigger problem here. And putting your child in the middle of that mess by giving her a phone is only adding to the larger issue. Shame on you, Mom and Dad, for not addressing the communication issue between you two and instead laying that burden your child.

For some reason, since the cell phone revolution has taken place, more and more parents are treating their children like adults by giving them access and ownership to adult phones and content.

They are forgetting that these little people still need to grow up and develop rational thinking and reasoning without a phone to rewire their brains.

Didn’t Albert Einstein become a genius without technology in his hand?

What about Amelia Earhart?

Misty Copeland?

Annie Sullivan?

Martin Luther King?

Michelangelo?

Mother Theresa?

Beethoven?

Penny Patterson?

There are millions of examples of people who have somehow not only learned how to read, write, and create without a cell phone in their hand, but have also managed to transform the world the old-fashioned way: by thinking and creating in an active, passionate way.

By putting all-knowing technology in a child’s hands, his/her world has expanded a million times over, as well as those other kids’ worlds, too.

We’d never give our ten-year old child the keys to the car to go driving without the proper training and practice. She’s been in that car since birth, but I know the results will be deadly if I allowed her to drive it.

But parents think nothing of giving their kid a phone. If phones had capabilities of harming thier child immediately, parents would have more to consider before putting the newest Iphone in thier child’s hands.

I am sure we are going to hear more horror stories of kids being victimized by friends and strangers with all these apps that can track your kid’s every move.

And I’m sure the new school year will become much more difficult for teachers, counselors, coaches, students and parents.

So, what are you going to get your kid for his/her next birthday?

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

 

TWL

Revelations

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This past year has been one full of revelations for me.

My health took a turn for the worse, thanks to an unseen tick bite, causing me to be out of work for six months. I was forced to seek answers from both the medical and naturopathic communities.  I found more help in the natural solutions than in the man-made chemical ones.  It was not a very easy road to go down, but one that continues to surprise me and show me that Mother Nature really should be consulted more often!

Easter Sunday, with all its culinary delights, came at me full force this past Sunday. One of the major issues with my Lyme is my compromised diet. I decided to not worry about possible pain and stinging that I would undoubtedly feel after eating dinner, and just eat small amounts of the foods that I haven’t been able to eat for the past 15 months.

Surprise! Surprise! It was revealed unto me that I could eat with no pain!

I ate stuffed shells—with both cheese and meat. No stinging! (The cheese bothered my stomach a bit, but I was thankful that was all that bothered me.)

I ate some green beans—no stinging!

I ate some mashed potatoes—no stinging!

I ate porketta and ham with horseradish—no stinging!

And then…I tried….dessert.

I ate a sliver of chocolate cream pie with homemade whipped cream, two anginettes, and two of my own biscotti. Hey, if I was going to cheat, and if anything would bother me, I’d rather it be the dessert!

I was so thankful that none of this bothered my system. None.of.it.

I did notice that my knees and elbows had pain later on that night…like really late, like 2 am late…but wow! Oh Wow! If that was all I was feeling, was I ever thankful!!

That’s not to say that I’m going to start eating all carb-laden foods again. I clearly still have the Lyme bugs in my system, but the fact that I could eat so many different foods without that nasty stinging side effect within a half hour of eating really made me thankful.

And hopeful.

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Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

Review of 25th Edition of The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy

 

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When I was first dealing with my Lyme disease during the fall and winter of 2016, I was doing lots of research, both online, in books, and in person. With so many issues popping up daily, there was never enough information to help me find the right solution.

By spring, I had starting feeling better, after having several months of a new diet and numerous appointments with medical and holistic practitioners. I was ready to try something else to help me heal even more, and I had the opportunity to learn about essential oils at a workshop at a local organic nursery. I also spoke with a few representatives who sold them for various companies. While this newfound knowledge was very informative and helpful, my own experience with Lyme taught me that my body had become extremely sensitive to foods and compounds. I wasn’t really looking to sign up for programs and pay money for products I may or may not use or may be a source of more pain and complications for me.

In end, I decided that the best route for me to take would be to find a good book to help me learn which oils to use for what purposes. And that is when I discovered Valerie Worwood’s book The Complete Book of Aromatherapy, New World Library, 1991.

As a ‘rookie’ in the essential oil world, I loved this book. Not only was it easy to use, it was also very comprehensive in its approach of how to use the oils for what purposes. There were recipes for any type of use: cooking, cleaning, or germ fighting. In the back, there was a listing of reputable oil companies to purchase from, which for me, was great information. With my own immune system so compromised at the time, and so many companies were jumping on the EO bandwagon, this was very helpful information for me. Interestingly enough, she does list the two major essential oil companies, Young Living, and doTerra, in her first book. But due to my own knowledge of the bad blood between the two businesses, I personally boycotted those two and purchased other recommended oils at local stores in my area.

The 25th anniversary edition has recently been published, (2016) and I was fortunate enough to receive a copy from the publisher. And much like the first volume, this one also is a great edition to anyone’s library.

Ms. Worwood’s does a deeper exploration of the history of essential oils in this volume; and for me, this is a great asset to the book.   My epiphany about the health value in using essential oils came when reading this section. Our ‘advanced’ technological and medical age has overshadowed the fact that these oils have been used for thousands of years by various cultures across the globe. My own health issues combined with this knowledge about essential oils really indicated to me that the medical community needs to takes notice of ways to help people heal from aliments without the use of synthetic or manmade compounds. Imagine if more doctors used more natural ways to healing the body!  They may be out of a business, but we’d be a healthier community, for sure!

The 25th edition has great reference charts for oils as well—a dilution chart, conversion charts, a quick reference chart about oils, and also more detailed profiles on essential oils which grace the pages of this book from beginning to end.

What I love about the new book is that there is notably more information for all types of ailments at any age, from birth all the way to what she gently describes as the ‘maturing’ years.   I have family members dealing with stress, fatigue and other more serious health issues. Ms. Wormwood details explicitly how oils can be used in any number of situations. While she does specifically state that this book is not intended to heal or substitute for medical advice, I do find that as a Lyme disease warrior, there is something in here for everyone. Whether you are interested in more ‘green cleaning’, ways to use essential oils in cooking, or just want to learn something new about a very old and everlasting health practice, this is an informative and easy to reference book to have on hand.

As someone who is now at the point in my learning to start to experiment more with essential oils to improve my health further, I am happy that this book is gracing my coffee table. ( I reference it quite often—it hasn’t made it to the bookshelf yet!)

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

 

TWL

One Year Ago

December 2016

 

One year ago, I was diagnosed with Lyme.

lymeheadAnd I still can remember all the difficulties I faced as my Lyme progressed from annoying symptoms to full-blown pain, brain fog, dietary issues, weakness, and exhaustion, and finally, being out of work for six months.

I can remember early on, trying to keep a semblance of routine at home and make my daughter’s lunch for school. That 10-minute job caused me extreme exhaustion, and a return trip to bed for two hours.

I remember trying to exercise on the advice of medical doctors, which never went well.  Later on in that winter, I tried vacuuming a 5×7 rug. I needed a three-hour nap after that.

I remember starting what I call my Lyme Bible.  It contained sections with each doctors’ contact information, copies of my blood work reports, diagnoses, as well as my food diary and symptoms tracker.  DataScientistJobDescriptions

I remember my husband asking me one morning, “Where is the jelly?” And I literally did not know. I couldn’t tell him, and I got upset because I knew my brain was literally fading a way bit by bit, and there wasn’t anything that any medical doctor was telling me that was helpful or hopeful.

I remember being frustrated listening to people with MD after their names giving me any number of diagnoses: Lyme, not Lyme, fibromyalgia, coxsackie, EBV, a virus…and even, “Yes, you have Lyme, coxsackie, and EBV in your blood work, but we don’t know what is causing your symptoms. Just eat right and exercise.” I’ve got letters that I’ve started that I intend to send to all these medical professionals to both ease my conscience and anger, but also potentially change how they actually address a patient’s course of treatment when they have Lyme disease.

I remember hearing about a holistic practitioner that helped a cancer patient who had tremendous results after major health issues. At that point, I was ready to find a new avenue that didn’t lead me to another medical doctor whose hands were tied against me.20160413_103853

I remember thinking during my first appointment, his methods seemed so strange and out of the box in terms of medical treatment as I knew it, and yet, after only 4 months, I was back at work full-time and able to conquer my full teaching day without turning into a puddle by 10:30 am!

I remember feeling so tired from work, I was in bed by 5:30, and still not rested to face the next day. Squeezing the shampoo bottle in the shower bothered my right thumb, and drying my hair with the hair dryer made my elbows hurt tremendously. Even driving would bother my elbows.  And reading…forget it.  After ten minutes,  I could feel my mind drifting away from the words on the page.

I remember a time last year when I didn’t put the my prized under-the-counter radio on when I was in the kitchen.  It’s presence changed from a comfort to just noise. The feeling of wanting music on had left me, and it didn’t bother me for many months that I didn’t put the radio on to keep me company.

Tonight, I connected my Bluetooth Pandora on my phone to that radio. I listened to a Martina McBride holiday channel, and I sang along to almost every song. It was  like a drug to me; I realized how much I had missed my music and I finally had the chance to enjoy it again.  I had to force myself to turn it off and go sit down when tiredness of the day trumped the music.

As I am writing this, I am thinking of how fortunate I am that my health has returned almost to normal and I am enjoying things that I couldn’t do a year ago.

What a difference a year makes!

Yours In Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

 

 

 

Diffusing the Confusion About Essential Oils

Below are a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way in my research about essential oils.

Not All Oils–Or Companies–Are Alike!img_0769

When I began to learn about essential oils, I learned of these two companies: doTERRA and Young Living. From my limited understanding, do TERRA branched off from Young Living, and there was a falling out and a lawsuit brought on by Young Living—you can look it up online if you want more details.

But in my mind, both get a lot of exposure caused by the split and therefore, these consultant-driven businesses are in competition with each other. This doesn’t stick well with me in my “all-natural” craw, if you know what I mean. If you talk to anyone who is a consultant for either one, they will naturally espouse the goodness of their own company and not go into detail about the rift, if you happen ask about it. I’ve spoken to consultants from both companies, and they’ve all been lovely, well-informed people when it came to essential oils. But the bad karma between the two enterprises turned me off to BOTH companies.

Being the rebel that I am, I did my own research and found reputable oils that are easily purchased at local health food markets. I can pick the ones I want to try out and avoid being locked into ‘beginner starter kits’ and other programs that are pricey.

Knock It Off!

I can’t say this enough: avoid purchasing oils that you find in your drug stores or chain stores like Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Essential oils and diffusers seem to be the ‘in’ thing right now, and I’ve seen different unknown brands pop up in different stores . You need to know what is in the oils that you are diffusing, ingesting, or using topically. If it says “100% Pure Frankincense” on the bottle, and it’s only $4.99 at Target, you can safely assume that it’s not PURE Frankincense in that bottle! (Frankincense is one of the most expensive oils you can purchase.) If you diffuse oils that aren’t really pure, you can be putting worse things into your system than you bargained for. And who wants that?

Do Your Homework!

There are literally HUNDREDS of resources available online and in print about essential oils. I like to keep my options open and use both types of sources.

searchPintrest, of course, has quick information for all your essential oil needs, but I also love to have books on hand, because sometimes, it’s just quicker to be able to bookmark a page and turn to it in a pinch. My favorite book is Valerie Worwood’s The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. It is very comprehensive and outlines the history of various oils as well as which oils to use topically, diffuse, and/or ingest. Valerie provides recipes to use with oils for any kind of ailment or household task or beauty regime. She also lists reputable essential oil companies in the back, which was extremely helpful to me in my research, since I was definitely waging a private campaign against both doTERRA and Young Living. (And she does list these two in her book as reputable companies.)

Basically, don’t just start diffusing because ‘everyone is doing it’. If you’re not sure about an oil, be investigative and find the answers you are looking for. Work smarter, not harder! Look for book titles online, then go to the library and check out the books that interest you. I love doing this because I can make sure the book (s) have the information I require before purchasing. I made the mistake once of purchasing a cookbook before I really reviewed it. I’ll never do that again!

In this case, doing your homework means the difference between being informed or spending money that really can be saved for a better purchase.

A Little Bit Goes A Long Way!

The oils are potent, so after you have researched what oils you want to use and how to use them safely, do it drop by drop. I learned that I could use Frankincense, Rosemary, and Oregano in combination to help combat my Lyme disease. But after applying 3-4 diluted drops of each to each foot, I felt somewhat stomach sick within a half an hour! I should have just used one oil at a time and rotated, but live and learn, right?

I also discovered that Geranium and Lavender, which smell wonderful together, are not a good combination for me when I am dealing with congestion; the two actually made my symptoms worse!  But a Lemon and Eucalyptus blend were perfect for me in the bath or in the shower when I was all stuffy.

So in the case of essential oils, a little bit does go a long way. It’s better to start of with one or two drops and build up. Rotating oils is also recommended if you notice that you aren’t getting the same effects over a period of time.

Diffusers Don’t Need To Be Expensive to be Worthy

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This is my Wal-Mart diffuser. Isn’t it pretty?  It also lights up!

Now that you are ready with oils, you need to get a diffuser.  And just like anything else on the market, diffusers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and prices.

Three things I learned to consider when deciding on a diffuser:

Ease of Opening

Room Size

Price

Personally, I have three diffusers. And the easiest one to open is the cheapest one that I bought at Wal-Mart, made by Better Homes and Garden. Both the outside glass cover, much like a bell jar, and the inside cover, are easily removable. Because the square footage of my bedroom is relatively small, I can put the diffuser on, shut the door, and within a half an hour, the air in the room is filled with any beautiful oil that I put inside.

The one I bought from my classroom has a plastic cover that you need to twist on and off according to arrow indicators on the outer lid and diffuser. My hands are small, so this one is hard for me to grasp and as a result, it is difficult to open and close. I purchased it because it is larger in size, and has a timer for how long you want it to run. Its size allows it to run up to 360 minutes, which is great in the classroom! But I didn’t consider how to opens (I bought this one online) and because it’s harder to open, I end up just leaving the lid in the unlocked position to avoid having to twist it open when it is time to refill.

I have another one that my husband purchased as a Christmas gift. It is made out of wood—it’s very pretty and looks lovely in my livingroom, but again, it’s a little trickier to open and close due to the design.

The square footage of my living room is much larger than that of my bedroom. The room also opens up to a stairwell, so when diffusing, it seems to require more drops of oil to reap the same benefits as in an enclosed space like my bedroom.

So, consider all these factors before purchasing and diffusing. And if you can, purchase your diffuser in person and not online, so you can actually see the diffuser and test out how it opens and closes.

 

Well, I hope these tips help clear the air when considering using essential oils!

Let me know how it goes!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL