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Health, Life

Why Can’t I Sleep?

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Did you know that a human can live for more than three weeks without food, however we can only survive about 11 days without sleep?  Sleep disorders currently affect more than 70 million Americans.  Yes, you read that correctly.  There are a whole lot of sleep deprived Americans in the classrooms (maybe those kids don’t need medicated, maybe they need sleep), in the workplace (I vote for napping pods), and on the roads.  It’s a scary number for sure!

Even worse, sleeping pill use is associated with 500,000 deaths annually.  Did you know that one of the side effects of sleeping pills is (wait for it)……. INSOMNIA!  Let’s take a look at some causes of sleep disorders.  If you can identify and correct the cause, rather than just masking the symptoms, you will be much better off in the long run!

Common Causes of Sleep Disorders

Stress – if your mind races when you lay down due to a stressful day, try this relaxing breathing technique (exercise 3 is my favorite for sleep).

Diet – sugar and caffeine will both affect your sleep.  Try not to consume either after 3 pm, or if you are sensitive like me, stop at noon.  Better yet, give them both up for good!

Lack of water – Did you get half your body weight in ounces?  Check out my prior post entitled “Why Water?” for more reasons why you may want to get more water.

Lack of essential fatty acids

Pain – If your pain is due to tired, achy muscles, give this a try!

Calcium or Magnesium Deficiencies – Blood tests are not always accurate when testing for nutritional deficiencies.  You can order nutritional tests online here or hair analysis is another option.  Most doctors will only test your serum magnesium.  Unless you are dead, it will be normal.  You must know your RBC magnesium (red blood cell) to know if the magnesium is actually getting into your cells.  Demand the RBC magnesium test at your next physical and if it’s lower than 6, you are magnesium deficient.  Check out Dr. Carolyn Dean.  These are my favorite calcium and magnesium supplements.

Room conditions – Is your room the right temperature?  I can tell if my kids turn the thermostat to anything other than 67-68 degrees.  I need my room cool to sleep!  I have blackout curtains on my windows, and I sleep with earplugs in my ears.  It is amazing what a difference it makes!

Lack of Exercise – Did you know that restless leg syndrome occurs because your legs want to move more during the day?  Try moving more, even if it’s just light stretching or walking in place.  Remember, any movement is better than no movement.

Eating too late – Most of our digestive systems stop working after 7 pm (unless you exercise late in the day).  Eating after 7 may interfere with your sleep so try to push dinner up if you can.

Side effects of medications – read the labels.  Often, your medication may be causing your sleep woes.

Hormone imbalances – If you suspect hormone imbalances, find a great functional doctor or naturopath who can order saliva testing for you.  Blood tests will not pick up on cortisol and adrenal levels.  It’s well worth the money to know where you stand, especially if you are having trouble sleeping.  Often, your cortisol is not following the normal curve and may be too high late in the day.  If that is your issue, check this out.

Vitamins and Herbs – always take your vitamins and herbs early enough that they won’t interfere with your sleep.  Some vitamins, especially the B vitamins, can give you a little too much energy and keep you up.  Remember, when you go to sleep, your body has a lot of work to do repairing, cleaning house, and recharging your immune system.  You don’t want to overload your system with a bunch of supplements that the body now has to break down and process as well.

If you address these common sleep disrupters and still find that you aren’t able to get your 8 hours (and yes, you do need 8 hours), I recommend the usual – shut electronics off an hour before bedtime, diffuse some lavender in your room, drink a warm cup of chamomile tea, and when your head hits the pillow, don’t think.  Say your prayers or practice gratitude, but do not start building your dream house in your head or mapping out your strategy if you get laid off at work.  I am a stress insomniac and I have found that if I don’t let one thought start, I can usually fall asleep.  And when all else fails, I use my Tranquil Roll-on and  SleepEssence to relax at bedtime.  If you are interested in trying any of the Young Living products I have mentioned, click here to order.

Essential Oils, Health, Life

Why Water?

Have you ever suffered from afternoon fatigue?  Do you get headaches?  What about varicose veins, kidney stones or urinary problems?  Do you have brain fog or constipation?  What about skin issues?  All of these annoying and sometimes serious issues have a common denominator.  They can all be caused by dehydration, which is MUCH more common than you would imagine.

So just how important is it to drink the recommended daily dose of good old water?  I was recently participating in the Chronic Lyme Disease Summit and a very well respected doctor mentioned that if his patients still aren’t getting better after trying the usual protocol, it is often because they are not drinking enough water.  A light bulb went off in my head and in that moment, I went from a girl who drank a glass or two of water per day, to a girl who drinks at least 75 ounces of water each day, and often more.

You may wonder what the connection is between water and a health condition such as Chronic Lyme.  For starters, water is absorbed into the blood stream and flushes out what doesn’t belong.  You can kill off as much bacteria as you like, but if it is circulating through your blood stream, you will still feel miserable!  Water helps combat fatigue, headaches and a myriad of other symptoms that are common in Lyme patients.

Here are 5 things to remember about water:

#1 – The kind of water you drink matters.

You do not find alkaline water anywhere in nature.  That is because God knows what He’s doing!  Your stomach needs acid to digest food.  We will discuss pH at a later time, but don’t spend money on alkaline water.  I know the internet will try to make you believe that you must be alkaline to be healthy.  Most of those articles are not  written by doctors.

You also don’t want water that has been enhanced.  Many bottled water companies add softeners, sodium, and even fluoride.  Fluoride is a neuro toxin and should be avoided at all costs.  You don’t need water with “added minerals”.  I won’t get into a debate over which water is the best, but I personally drink distilled water or reverse osmosis.  Drink room temperature or slightly warm water.  Cold water shocks your organs and should only be consumed if you are trying to cool down.

#2 – The amount of water you drink matters.

You probably know that you should drink at least half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day.  If you exercise, you need to increase your water intake accordingly.  Other beverages do not count toward your water intake, even if they are herbal teas, iced tea, fruit juices, etc.   Only water is water, and your body wants pure water.  Your blood is 90.7% water, your brain is 80.5% water and your lungs are 80% water.  Every organ in your body needs water!  If you drink caffeinated beverages, you need to add to your water intake because caffeine dehydrates.  For example, if I need 65 ounces of water per day but I drink a 12 ounce caffeinated beverage, I now need 77 ounces of water to maintain hydration.   The best thing you can do is start your day with 8 ounces of warm water.

#3 – Water plays an important role!

Water is responsible for helping regulate your temperature, balancing your pH, and lubricating your tissues, joints, bones, and muscles.  It is also necessary for cell creation and cleansing your body.  As I mentioned, water is critical for flushing out the abundance of toxins we are exposed to every day.

After 5% water loss, you will get a headache, experience drowsiness and be unable to concentrate.  After 6% water loss, your heart will begin to race.  Next time you feel a headache or brain fog coming on, drink a big glass of water!  Remember, our bodies are flowing with electricity and what conducts electricity?  Yep, water.  Your brain needs to be wet in order to work right.  It is 80.5% water for a reason.  I wonder how many kids have trouble focusing because they aren’t drinking enough good, plain water?

#4 – How do I know if I’m dehydrated?

Do you have dry skin?  Dry mouth? Dry eyes?  Are you constipated?  Do you have high cholesterol?  In addition to the symptoms I mentioned above, these are also signs that you may be dehydrated.  After breathing, good water is the most important element of good health.  You will be amazed after one week of staying hydrated.  My skin is softer than it has ever been and my fatigue has been greatly reduced. (It also helps with cellulite!)

#5 – What if I hate the taste of water?

If plain water is just absolutely unacceptable to you, try adding some mint leaves, cucumbers, or cut up strawberries.  You can add lemon if you are acidic (to be discussed in the near future).  I love to add a drop or two of my favorite essential oil to enhance the flavor of my water.  Not all essential oils are safe for consumption.  I only consume this kind.  Grapefruit and Citrus Fresh are my favorites!

I encourage you to take the one-week water challenge.  If you combine hydration with the deep breathing we talked about last week, you will be on the road to better health.

We don’t always need medicine, supplements, oils and herbs.  Sometimes we need to remember the basics – the things that God gave us in the beginning.  Air, water, and food – the basic building blocks of good health.

 

Kids, Life

Guilt Is A Dirty Word

Guilt.

We carry it around on our back like a heavy toddler screaming for a piggy back ride. Every time I hear “Let it Go”, which is several times a day in a house with five kids, I think about how nice it would be if I could. I was reflecting on guilt last night, both my own and the guilt that other people so generously place on me. It occurred to me that every bad decision I have made in my life, every single one that I regret to my core, was made because of guilt. Someone convinced me that THEIR needs were more important than MY needs.

We do this all time. We tell our kids “No” but they give is that face. You know, the cute one that could melt ice during a Pittsburgh winter. Or we tell someone we can’t attend something because we don’t feel good and then after a guilt trip, we decide to try anyways. This is bad for a lot of reasons, but the worst part of guilt trips is how you feel towards the person afterwards. Here comes that “Let it go” theme again. Now please hear me, I know that holding a grudge is not the Christian thing to do. I am well aware that forgiveness always needs to take place. Forgiving does not mean forgetting. Chances are, if you put a guilt trip on me and it results in a bad outcome, I will not be able to forget that.

We are not taught to put our own needs first. We are wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, employees, and friends. I have always tried to put everyone’s needs before my own because I do believe that is what God wants us to do. However, I am pretty sure He is ok with boundaries! Nowhere in the bible does it say “Thou shalt never say No”.
I am raising a lot of teenagers right now, and I want them to say “No”. I don’t want them to fall prey to guilt trips like I did. Guilt makes you drink with your friend so she doesn’t have to drink alone. Guilt makes you sneak off to parties and lie to your parents about where you are going because your boyfriend tells you “If you loved me, you would want to be with me”. Guilt makes you do adult things that you are not ready to handle.

As a parent, I want to balance teaching my children to put others before themselves with taking GOOD care of themselves. I talk about stress a lot, and so much of our stress comes from guilt and the misconception that we have to meet everyone else’s needs.

How do you balance teaching your children to put others first while not falling for guilt? This Oily Mama needs your suggestions!

Essential Oils, Health, Life

Sharing Health

When I started using oils, I had no intention of sharing them with anyone other than my immediate family. That quickly changed as I fell in love with Young Living. I promise, if you do your research, you too will discover that there is no higher quality essential oil brand. What other company owns their own farms and distilleries? What other company has over twenty years of success?

I have a secret though. I’m not just in love with essential oils. There is so much more to it for me.  Here are the three reasons why I know I have found my passion.

1. I love sharing the gift of health. Oils are only party of the bigger picture for me, but my oil classes are a gateway to talk about a more holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle. I always tell people, essential oils were only a piece of our lifestyle change.

2. I love training up leaders. I don’t think God has called me to just share oils. I believe he has called me to give other people the resources and the support they need to share the gift of health as well. There is no greater feeling than knowing that you made a difference in someone’s life. I was struggling with my full-time career because at the end of the day, I never felt fulfilled. Sure, I got my job done, but I wasn’t making anyone’s life better. Now, every time I share about oils and help others do the same, my heart sings.

3. Finally, I know so many people who are struggling financially and don’t see a way out. I am passionate about helping those who want to be helped. Sure, you have to do some work. You may have to spend some time preparing and educating yourself, but if you want to make a few extra hundred (or thousand) dollars a month, I would love to have you on my team. I promise I will support you every step of the way!

 

If you want to learn about how you can join my Oily Bunch, send me a message.  I can’t wait to hear from you!

Kids, Life

How Stressed are our Kids?

I am willing to admit, I probably stress my kids out.  Not as much as I stress my husband out, but I’m sure the kids are a close second.  I want my kids to get good grades.  I want my kids to practice their instruments.  I need them to keep their rooms clean, their fishtanks clean and for heaven sakes, themselves clean!  I need my oldest to go to the grocery store for me and drive her brother to hockey practice.  I feel like I’m always barking commands at someone in my house!

I never realized how stressed our kids might be until I got my Zyto Compass.  Now don’t get me wrong, the Zyto is not meant to diagnose, it just tells you what your body may prefer.  I scanned my kids, I scanned my friends’ kids, and I have scanned kids I don’t really know.  I am amazed how often stress seems to be the recurring theme.

I am a true believer that stress is a killer.  It weakens our body’s defense mechanisms, and causes all sorts of other problems.  Stress is a terrible thing!  And yet we as parents are pushing our kids harder than we have ever pushed ourselves.  We are expecting things out of our children that no one ever expected from us.  It’s not enough that our kids play baseball or hockey….  no, they need private coaching lessons in addition to the four days a week they are already practicing, and just to make it worse, let’s make these sessions before school, at 5 am.  And it’s probably not enough that my child plays an instrument in the band at school.  I should probably sink huge sums of money into extra private lessons, even though my child hates to practice.

Don’t get me wrong, I want my kids to be successful and happy.  I don’t want lazy kids who do nothing except play video games and watch television all day.  But what ever happened to letting our kids have time to go out and play?  Why can’t they have time to be kids?  Who are all these lessons for?  If you have a kid who is driven and loves every minute of what they do, that’s awesome.  But if your kid (like mine) begs to skip lessons because he is so tired, because he has so much homework, because he doesn’t even want to take those lessons anyway, it may be time to reevaluate.

Our kids are stressed.  I know kids who throw up on their way to baseball games because they are so nervous about playing well.  What happened to “it’s a game”?  Parents, please stop trying to live vicariously through your children!  You had your chance.  We are leading our children down a path straight to therapy.  Sure, they will know how to push themselves.  They will know how to practice and work hard.  But will they know how to be happy, and satisfied?  Will they know how to relax?  Will they know that they are good enough?  If they aren’t good enough for us, their parents, they will never feel like they are good enough for anyone else, including themselves.

Now slap some Stress Away on your kids and let them go PLAY!

 

 

Sunset, Hilton Head Island, SC
Life

5 Reasons Why Titles Shouldn’t Matter

Several years ago, I sat across from my attorney and went through the depressing, yet incredibly necessary task of creating my will. I was in my late 20’s and I thought I really had life all figured out. After answering all the standard questions, I told my attorney to add what I thought to be a brilliant clause; “In order for any of my children to collect their inheritance, they must have completed college”.

 

In my vast ignorance, I thought that would motivate my children to choose the path that I had chosen. I was proud of the letters after my name and I hoped that someday my children would have even more letters after their names! Thank goodness I came to my senses! There are many reasons why titles shouldn’t matter. Titles may be PhD, MBA, CPA, Director, President, CEO, Mom, Stay at Home Mom (or Dad), Introvert, Extrovert, etc. I believe a title is anything that attempts to classify you.

 

  1. Your title doesn’t define your health. You can go to college for fifteen years, get every degree available, make more money than you ever imagined, and if you don’t have your health, you have nothing. I have met so many people in high-powered positions with impressive jobs, yet they are holding on by a string. High paying jobs usually come with high stress levels. Stress is a killer.

 

 

  1. Your title won’t keep you from being lonely. If you are working sixteen-hour days to maintain your title, but you don’t get to tuck your children in bed, you may regret that some day. If your wife eats dinner alone because you are always out of town, your marriage may suffer. How valuable is your time and who owns it? If your title is your job, then yes, it’s important to make enough money to provide for your family. But how much is enough? Is it ever enough? Our Pastor at church always says that out of all the dying people he has spoken with, none ever say they wish they had spent more time at work.

 

 

  1. Your title will never make you happy. I have met so many people who were on a mission to chase a title. If I can just be a manager, if I can just be a Director, if I can just be a VP; we are never happy where we are. I went through a brief period where I was jealous of stay at home moms. After a few days with my kids I couldn’t wait to get back to work! My daughter almost went to college for something that I wanted her to do. Everyone had her convinced that she would never make enough money doing what she loves. I say phooey. If you love it enough and if it is your passion, you will make it work. She is now starting school in July to be a makeup artist and I hope she rocks it because she’s so talented and that is what makes her happy! If you have to spend the majority of your life doing something, shouldn’t it be something that makes you smile?

 

  1. Your title is not an automatic entitlement for respect. I believe in treating everyone with respect. I don’t care if you are the janitor or the President of the company. Someone once said to me, “Don’t you know who so-and-so is? He is the blah blah blah of *insert impressive company here”. I honestly couldn’t have cared less. In God’s eyes, we are all the same. Anyways, the bible clearly tells us that some day, the first will be last and the last will be first. You can interpret that however you would like, but my take on it is that Mr. Super Important Job Title will be serving coffee to my friend the janitor!

 

  1. Your title doesn’t define your worth. I have sat in classes where I have been told my personality type, my personality color, and my personality shape. Please stop defining me! I don’t need a special group because I’m a “working mother” or an “MBA”. I don’t need called out because a test I took defined me as an Introvert. My worth is determined by one thing and one thing only, and that is by my Maker. Every single one of us is “wonderfully and fearfully made”. Let that sink in for a minute. You don’t have to spend a bazillion years in college to be important. You don’t have to be an Extrovert, or a stay at home dad. Every single one of us is equally important. You just need to find the path that God has chosen for your life, and hopefully, that will be the one that makes you THRIVE! And when you walk that perfect path, no matter what the title, you will be healthy, happy, worthy of respect and you will know that you are worth EVERYTHING to the only one who matters!

 

My hope for all of our children is that they find and follow their calling, the thing that makes them jump out of bed in the morning. I pray that they are healthy and happy, no matter what title follows them into adulthood. And although that title is not important, hard work is! What you get out of life will always be proportionate with what you put in, and any difference is due to God’s grace!

Kids, Life

Dear Girls

Dear Girls, why do you have to be so mean? Was it really necessary to ruin someone’s day so that you could have a good laugh? Did it make you feel better about yourself to expose someone else’s insecurities? Did you go home and feel better about yourself when you looked in the mirror?

Dear Girls, did you forget to listen when they taught you about what it means to be a bully? Did you determine that the rules don’t apply to you, or that bullying isn’t as bad as people make it out to be?

Dear Girls, do you know how many teen suicides happen because of bullying? Do you know how many school shootings occur because of bullying? Bullying is bigger than hurting someone’s feelings or ruining someone’s weekend. Your words, your actions and your character have lasting impact on the people you come in contact with each day.

Character isn’t taught in school, character is taught at home. I understand, dear girls, that it’s not entirely your fault that you are bullies. I have sat next to your mothers during school events, and I have overheard their loud whispers as they poked fun at my child. I’m so sorry that you had to grow up with a role model like that.

Dear Girls, I know you are still too young to realize it, but our world is falling apart very fast. I worry for your future, but I trust in God, who has overcome the world. We are called to be the Light. Bullying is not being the light. Taunting someone in the hallway so they can hear you is not being the light. Making plans at the lunch table in front of someone and purposely excluding them is not being the light. Making someone feel ashamed of her appearance, making someone feel inferior, and unaccepted is not being the light. I know that is not what they taught you in school. Even if you don’t believe in God, surely you’ve heard of the Golden Rule?

Dear Girls, please think about how you would want someone to treat your little sister or brother. One day, we will all have a daughter, a son, a niece or nephew, a grandchild or friend who may not fit the exact mold of what “normal” or “cool” means to you. How will you want the world to treat them? Remember Gandhi’s quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world”? This needs to change and the change starts with YOU.

Every person you come in contact with is someone’s child, someone’s sister or brother. You know nothing about their situation or their battle. As a mother, you girls infuriate me. I know we are called to turn the other cheek, but when you hurt my child, I take it very personally. You see, it’s not my daughter’s fault she’s different, it’s mine. So dear girls, next time you taunt someone who is different, or talk about where you are going Friday night but purposely don’t invite the one other person at the table, please stop to think about the effects of your actions.

PS… I wanted to call you out by name, or maybe even beat you up, but my child, who has more character than all of you will ever dream of having, taught me a lesson about making the world a better place.  Please pass the lesson along to your parents for me.

Life

It’s Your Dream!

I love going to sleep at night because my dreams are a chance to plow through my limitations, overcome my fears, and experience freedom from the health issues that weigh me down during the day.

Last night I dreamed I was on stage, getting ready to do gymnastics (WHAT? I can’t even touch my toes!). As I stood on that stage, I suddenly felt anxiety and fear as I looked at all the people and felt the bright lights.  I started telling myself all the reasons why this was a bad idea.  I thought about running off the stage.  That’s when I declared out loud, “It’s Your Dream!  You get to choose how you feel right now”.  I instantly felt better and I stayed on that stage without a trace of worry or fear.

Wow! There is no doubt in my mind that God was speaking to me.  Before I went to bed last night I did two things.   First, I scrolled through my Facebook news feed like I always do.  I noticed several prayer requests for anxiety and worry, more than usual.  Second, I said my prayers, focusing on all of us struggling with uncertainty in our lives, resulting in anxiety and worry. There is a lot of uncertainty in my life right now, so I’m ashamed to say I found comfort in knowing I was not alone.

When I woke up this morning, all the issues currently on my worry list started to creep back into my conscience. “It’s Your Dream,” I reminded myself.  I can’t change the circumstances or the situation, but I can change how I think and talk about it, which just might change how I feel about it!

Health, Life

Putting Yourself Back Together

Last weekend, my husband and I took our kids to see Mockingjay – Part 1.  Like many, I read the books first, but somehow I missed Finnick’s profound quote, “It takes ten times as long to put yourself together as it does to fall apart”.  That quote resonated with me.  It resonated SO much that I broke movie theater etiquette and I took out my phone so I could type it in my notes.  This quote has applied to so many seasons of my life.

When my first marriage ended at the age of 26 and I was alone with three little kids, it took ten times as long to put myself back together.   When I quit smoking (the first time) and gained 30 pounds overnight, it took ten times as long to put myself back together.  Divorce and weight gain suck big time, but you can recover and turn yourself around, even if it takes ten times as long.

The past few years have taught me that it’s your health that is hardest to get back.  A few years ago, I was the person who smoked a pack of cigarettes each day, and I LOVED every one of them!  I was the girl who would eat at least three donuts when someone stopped at the bakery on the way to work.  I didn’t exercise because I wasn’t fat and quite frankly, I would rather do just about anything else.  I was the girl who would drink a pot of coffee before bed and eat lunch out (and sometimes breakfast) several days each week.

When people tried to inform me of why I shouldn’t smoke or why I should start running, I rolled my eyes.  None of us are making it out alive, so might as well live a little and enjoy it, right?  Well, let me be the one to tell you, when you are in the midst of trying to put your health back together, there is nothing you wouldn’t do to turn back the clock.  I feel like every day I meet someone new who wants to put their health back together.  Wanting and doing are very different things.  It takes ten times as long, but that clock doesn’t start until YOU start, so do something today.  Start reading the labels on your food!  Take a walk at lunch time!  Think about replacing some of the chemicals in your house.  I don’t think it’s coincidence that almost every day I meet someone else with an autoimmune disease.  These same people with auto immune diseases laugh at me when I suggest trying to go gluten free to see if their symptoms improve (read Wheat Belly Total Health).  If you aren’t willing to try, then you are not in enough pain.  Just my opinion.

It breaks my heart.  Please educate yourself because you get one body, one life.  It’s true that none of us are getting out alive, but there is a period of time between good health and death that will be miserable if you don’t do something today.  And that “ten times” it takes to put yourself back together will feel like a lifetime!

Life

Welcome!

Today I drove my son to drum lessons in footie pajamas under my winter boots.  My wet hair was piled under a tousle cap and I had these awesome medical glasses I wear for Lyme disease that filter out light.  I smelled very Italian because I had my Oregano essential oil on my feet, rosemary on my neck and basil on my temples.  My son prayed out loud that the car wouldn’t break down, lest one of his cool fifth grade friends might witness his train wreck mother.

I am just a mom with three biological kids (11, 13 and 17) and two step kids (12 and 14).  I also have a few turtles and fish and one husband who might be more work than all five kids put together (love you babe!).  I work full time, and am also battling late stage Lyme disease, so I thought some humor may help put off my impending nervous breakdown.  I hope you get a chuckle out of our disfunction!

Did I mention I am passionate about essential oils and natural health?  I hope this blog will be a nice mix of funny, informative and enlightening.  Thanks for stopping by!