How Do You Reward Yourself

“Self-care has become a new priority – the revelation that it’s perfectly permissible to listen to your body and do what it needs.” ~ Frances Ryan

Young Living Premium Starter Kit

Yesterday, I mentioned my love of my Young Living Oils and promised I would explain the concept of Essential Rewards.

If you are curious about essential oils, don’t know that much about them, worry that they may be too “new age” or hedonistic . . . by all means, read on. If you have no interest in essential oils, this post is not for you.

Essential oils are those that are pressed and extracted from certain plants and aromatics. There are different uses for different oils and have been for centuries. They are used for their aromatic properties, their natural cleaning properties, and some are safe for consumption internally and are used in cooking.

Young Living offers essential oils for sale at retail rates, which is available if you infrequently buy essential oils. The oils are the same regardless of the option you choose to take: retail or membership. If you frequently purchase oils or toxin-free cleaning products, a membership may be the optimal route. I can hear the eye-rolling starting . . . hear me out.

I believe we’re all familiar with subscription boxes:

  • Stitchfix
  • Misfits Market
  • FabFitFun
  • Ipsy
  • BirchBox
  • and others.

Each of those subscription boxes listed above offers goods that cater to specific interests. The contents are not chosen by you, you may not like them, you may not want them, they may not be the appropriate size, color or taste for you. With some, you can return items; with others, you cannot.

Young Living Essential Rewards is like a subscription box that you hand select yourself: from delivery date, to content, to price point. However, essential rewards is only available to those who have become a member which you can do here. Pictured at the top of this post is one of the Premium Starter Kits – perfect for the person new to essential oil use. You select the diffuser of your choice (not pictured), and the rest is shown in the photo: 12 of the most popular essential oils, two roller tops for easy topical applications, two samples of the Ninxgia red vitamin supplement drink, Thieves hand sanitizer, a guide to using your essential oils, a product catalog and a copy of the magazine with articles and recipes.

Maybe you just want the Starter Kit with the diffuser. Get a few oils, get your feet wet, see if you like them —great! It’s still a great deal. No one is going to call you or pester you to buy more. Your money and your decision on what to buy is up to you! BUT. . . if you enjoy the oils or want to try other products, why not get them at the reduced rate? We use the laundry soap, toothpaste, vitamins, car diffuser. . . because they’re eco-friendly and we like them.

When you sign up for Essential Rewards, you not only get to choose your monthly reward at a reduced cost but you earn points to apply towards future purchases or promotions. You can skip a month if you choose or change the date your order ships to accommodate your finances.

Not everyone is into diffusing oils, and that is fine! I purchased several of these Thieve Home Cleaning Kits to give as gifts to my daughters and friends. Everyone loves having a clean, fresh smelling home. The Thieves Laundry Soap has been in use at our home for many years, simply because it is gentle enough that it doesn’t exacerbate my youngest son’s eczema.

Feel free to check out the Young Living home page and ask if you have any questions! Again, if you want to check it out and get your very own Premium Starter Kit, click here.

Gratitude & Bang Bang Shrimp Pasta

“The moment one is capable of feeling grateful for both pain and pleasure, without any distinction, without any choice, simply feeling grateful for whatever is given . . . .because if it is given by God, it must have reason in it. We may like it, we may not like it, but it must be needed for our growth. Winter and summer are both needed for growth. Once this idea settles in the heart, then each moment of life is gratitude.” ~ Osho

lower Bains Gap Falls

I’m still spinning a bit but I’m slowly starting to settle down. Maybe it was a bit of foreshadowing before we left to go to Missouri but my Essential Rewards order came in the mail from Young Living. (** for those unfamiliar with Essential Rewards or Young Living, I’ll share more details tomorrow). I had ordered a bottle of Sara as I had never tried it. Described as a “soothing scent to be used during difficult or emotional times”, little did I know it would be coming in handy sooner than I thought.

People reach to different things for comfort when they are stressed. For some it is alcohol, or food, or drugs or companionship or solitude. My comfort items are: solitude, food (to a degree), my oils, and self care. Physical activity (walking, running, hiking, weightlifting) and warm baths are all manner of self care in my mind because those things focus on my well-being and my health.

Food, on the other hand, has the possibility of being another stressor if there’s too much available or if lackadaisical boredom sets in. Perhaps I should clarify that it isn’t so much eating the food that is calming as it is cooking the food. It isn’t uncommon, when I am stressed, to find myself scrolling thru new recipes looking for something new to try.

Mt. Cheaha

Sunday was a wonderful day on the Richter scale of self-care. It started with church (spirit), followed by a hike up Mt. Cheaha (mind/body), included a wonderful dinner of Bang Bang Shrimp Pasta (body), an episode of Yellowstone (mind) and a warm bath with a few drops of Sara oil (body/spirit).

Bang Bang Shrimp Pasta

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1# shrimp, shelled and deveined – your choice of size
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Smoked Paprika
  • 2 t. minced garlic
  • 1/2 # pasta, your choice – angel hair, linguine, spaghetti, bowtie, etc.
  • Sauce:
  • 1/2 c. Hellman’s mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c. Thai sweet chili sauce
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 2 t. minced garlic
  • 1/2 – 1 t. crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

Combine the ingredients for the sauce and refrigerate while the pasta and shrimp are cooking. (If you prefer it less spicy, omit the crushed red pepper flakes. Even without, the Thai sweet chili sauce gives it just enough of a kick to get your attention.) While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Place the shrimp in the pan along with the minced garlic and sprinkle with salt, pepper and smoked paprika to taste. Stir well to coat. Cook on low/medium heat on each side until pink. Remove to plate. When pasta is cooked, drain and turn into large bowl. Add shrimp and sauce, stirring to coat pasta with sauce. Serve and enjoy!

Water is my people. . . my tribe. . . it males me feel whole. Must be my sign of Cancer.

Today was a shorter hike to the waterfalls near here. Muddy from the frequent short bursts of rain, but still beautiful, still refreshing and invigorating to be out in the fresh air – so fully alive and grateful for this live I love.

Chicken Ranch Enchiladas

“If God dwells inside us like some people say, I sure hope he likes enchiladas, because that’s what he’s getting.” ~ Jack Hardy

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

One of the recipe sites I frequent is one of those wonderful ones, where you select the number of servings you wish to make and it automatically adjusts the ingredients — love it, it makes my heart sing. It can be amusing as I’m not quite sure exactly how to get 2.67 chicken breasts, but . . . ooookay.

With all the emotional crap going on this month (and we’re only halfway thru – God love us!), I needed an anchor — something that grounds me and helps me maintain my equilibirum when life becomes chaotic. That would be . . .

COOKING!

I have modified the recipe a wee bit as it was waaaay too salty for us simple folks, but other than that, I didn’t tweak it much. Enjoy!

Chicken Ranch Enchiladas

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts, frozen
  • 1 packet of Ranch dry salad dressing mix
  • 2 T. chili powder
  • 1/2 t. cumin
  • 1 t. each, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika
  • 1 c. chicken broth (low sodium if available)
  • 1/2 c. fresh salsa
  • 1/2 c. ranch salad dressing (not the powder, the real thang)
  • Cheddar cheese for sprinkling
  • 8 flour tortillas

Directions

Place the chicken breasts, the spices – including the dry salad dressing packet – and the chicken broth in a slow cooker on low for about 4 hours. the chicken will easily flake with a fork when it has completed cooking.

Place the flour tortillas on a plate with a wet paper towel covering them. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds to warm them up for easier separation and rolling.

Preheat the oven to 350. As the oven heats, remove the chicken breasts from the crockpot and shred the meat. Set aside. Combine the fresh salsa with the liquid ranch dressing. Take 2 T. of the chicken drippings from the crockpot and stir into the salsa combination. Set aside. In a 9×13 baking dish, pour the rest of the chicken drippings from the crockpot into the bottom of the baking dish. This will be used in place of enchilada sauce.

In turns, take a flour tortilla and place in the baking dish. Spoon about 2 T. of chicken into the flour tortilla, top with salsa combination, sprinkle with cheese and roll. When all tortillas have been filled and rolled, top with another sprinkle of cheese. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

The recipe originally called for a packet of taco seasoning, which is what we did . . . but it was soooo salty. I’ll not make that mistake again.

We topped ours with guacamole, sour cream and fresh salsa. They were so delicious that Jo ate leftovers for lunch. (That girl does not normally do leftovers, so that says A LOT!)

If It’s Not Logical, It Doesn’t Make Sense (to me)

“Science doesn’t have to be this awkward.” ~ Sheldon Cooper

Many times, people don’t realize I’m on the autism spectrum. They would describe me as eccentric or quirky, but never “autistic.” Maybe it’s because I have Asperger’s which is on the high end of the spectrum, or because I’ve learned to imitate and function fairly well. There are certainly some aspect with which I continue to struggle. For those who aren’t familiar with Asperger’s, I often refer to “Big Bang Theory” and the two characters pictured above. I often say I’m not as OCD as Sheldon, but prettier than Amy. (Usually said tongue in cheek because I do not view myself as pretty.)

I realize that my last post was rather vague and open-ended. It seemed so to me, and I’m the one who wrote it. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t like the way I was feeling either. I’m still trying to process events – not that they were bad, but the thinking was not logical and that throws me so far out in left field, it takes some time to recover.

I was angry – that the sentiment given came not from the heart, but seemingly as a result of a FB comment to a post I had made.

I was hurt – because the words uttered made me uncomfortable and frustrated (and extremely nauseous).

I was confused – I’m still confused and I don’t know how to describe it because it just doesn’t make a whit of sense why I have these conflicting emotions in a warring catch-22.

In any relationship, whether it be friendship or family or what-have-you, there are boundaries. These allow for a feeling of safety and acceptance. When I know what someone’s boundaries entail, it helps me — I hate to use the word ‘resign’ – but I resign myself to the comfort level of each individual person with words or phrases or actions. I respect their boundaries. It helps me set my own boundaries with the expectation of mutual respect. When someone suddenly appears to feel expected to say or act in a certain manner that is as foreign to them as if they started speaking a foreign language out of the blue, it has a tendency to upset my apple cart. It’s even more disconcerting when it isn’t MY expectation but based on a random comment.

That outside expectation felt like a rock in a comfortable shoe. While I respect the sentiment expressed and the commenter, they don’t have a place in the relationship. So logically it didn’t matter what their thoughts were or their expectations — they are outside the box. Do not change the walls of the box, do not try to make it a hexagon or a pentagon or a rectangle even. I stay out of their box, they need to stay out of mine. And for the sake of the saints, don’t throw your opinion into my box and then leave — take it with you.

I feel as if I am still leaving this open-ended, perhaps I am. I know I’m still spinning (altho the nausea is better).

Shifting into Focus

“A miracle is a shift in perception from fear to love.” ~ Marianne Williamson

Photo by Philip Justin Mamelic on Pexels.com

We all have perceptions of life based on our past experiences. I’ve addressed a few of mine in previous posts. It’s normal behavior – since we don’t have ESP and we cannot foretell the future, we make assumptions about the future based on our past. We often determine boundaries that feel “safe” or that we know without a doubt are within our skills of coping. Its self-protection and self-preservation at it’s finest.

I know who I am. I know that while I am evolving as a person and will continue to do so, when it comes to integrity and personal merit, I have not changed.

Someone responded to a post I made on Facebook. Their comment resulted in a paradigm shift that caused a mutual friend to have a “revelation” of sorts. It’s frustrating because in the time I’ve known them, I have been the same person, but now . . . based on a comment . . . they see me differently. Their focus has sharpened and shifted. The shift has moved from fear to love — the frustration is that the shift had to come about from an outside source.

Obtuse – “lacking sharpness or quickness of sensibility or intellect” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obtuse

I am unsure of how to respond. It makes me uncomfortable and afraid and my thoughts are spinning. I’m irritated and upset at the change in status quo. The balance has shifted and it is disconcerting to say the least. It has resulted in tears and questioning of my self.

Sometimes I think, blind was better.

You’re Right

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right!” ~ Henry Ford

Between WD40, duct tape and YouTube videos, I’m fairly certain there are few car repairs that cannot be made by the average Joe. With a power sliding door that at first wouldn’t open on the minivan, it then proceeded to not latch at the rear, draining the battery and creating extra road noise as well as a possibility of sliding open while driving down the highway.

Having done the research online, I located the most likely part for less than $50. The estimate from the Honda dealership was between $400 – 750 for the repair, depending on what was involved. Even at $400 for the low end, with a part that costs $50, I was all about fixing it myself. So, I ordered the part.

When ordering parts online for your vehicle, it is very important to note exactly from what store’s website you ordered. I cannot stress how very important this will be when picking up your part. Going to Auto Zone to pick up a part you ordered from Advanced Auto is not a good idea (in case you were wondering.)

Looking at all the angles, I had to come up with worst-case scenarios and quick fixes.

  • what if I couldn’t get the bolts and screws off – have WD40 on standby as well as making sure the appropriate sized tools were available
  • What if I couldn’t get the part off or get the new part on – watch the YouTube video again and have some faith
  • What if I got old part off and couldn’t get the new part on – watch the YouTube video again and keep trying
  • What if I got the old part off and STILL couldn’t get the new part on – phone a friend (probably Dave the mower)

My point is that I had all these WHAT IF’s in my mind and none of them were WHAT IF it all goes wonderfully well with no problems and the door works as designed and latches at the rear?

After changing my way of thinking and resetting my perspective, the anxious thoughts of failure disappeared. I watched the video in entirety and then went back to the start. With each step I watched it and went outside to performed it. Inside to watch the next step and outside to perform it. Not only did this break the repair down into manageable bite-size steps, it gave me a break from the heat and a chance to sit down in the cool AC.

The door is repaired and latches well. Instead of opening and coming to a sudden stop with a jerk, the door slides effortlessly across the side of the van with a precise smoothness that has long been missing. There may have been a little dance with a squeal at the conclusion of the repair. (Maybe.)

I was right! We did it!!

Pushing thru

There are a lot of things about me that COULD define me:

Mother. Daughter. Sister. Nurse. Firefighter. Hazmat Technician. Teacher. Instructor. Girlfriend. Wife. Planner. Divorcee. Lover. Cook. Chauffeur. Speaker. Renovator. Builder. Gardener. Typist extraordinaire. Blogger. Runner. Swimmer. Weightlifter. Biker. Piano player. Comedienne. Competitive. Encourager. Prayer warrior. Dreamer. Entrepreneur. Seamstress. SME. Reader. Plant magic user (aka Young Living Oils). Herbalist. Healer. Survivor.

These are just small aspects of my life. Like facets of a diamond, they add dimension and clarity to who I may be, but not one single word above solely defines me as a person.

The past few days have been rough, I cannot lie. If you read my last post, you’ll have a clue. Grief is different for everyone, depending on the loss. The grief I experience with my son is completely different than that which I experienced with my dad. Two different people, two different relationships. There are times I barely remember when my father passed — we really had no connection.

Today, I just wanted to stay in bed with the covers over my head and sleep. But I had a plan. I had put my running clothes out last night — chosen carefully. Things I love — the tank top that states, “Actually, I can.” My favorite running shoes. A special pair of running shorts. A comfy purple sports bra. A pair of green toe socks with bloodshot eyes on them that make me laugh and a second pair of green socks to wear over them for extra padding. All things that are comfortable, make me smile or laugh and just give my run a little extra something. Today’s run wasn’t about time or pace. It wasn’t about the music I listened to (which was only partially during the run.) It wasn’t about the distance.

Today’s run was about feeling my body move. Listening to the sound of my inhale and exhale. Hearing the songs of the birds and the critters. Seeing the squirrels, the cardinals, the box turtle and the dogs that were walking their owners. Today was about reveling in the sun and enjoying the shade, identifying the different types of trees, plants, flowers and the spray painted cracks in the trail (placed there for the bike races). It was about running past another female and high-fiving each other because we’re out there pushing thru the heat, sweat, and discomfort to be better. Today’s run was about life and experiencing it in as many forms as possible as a reminder that grief is for a season, but life goes on. It was about laughing as I got inside, stripping my sweaty clothes off and throwing them in the washer just inside the door, then running naked up the stairs and standing in front of the AC with a bottle of water before lying on the Yoga mat and stretching while, once again, I listened to my breathing and felt my heartrate decrease. It was a deep guttural humming with each exhalation as I felt my muscles relax with the stretching.

Life is a beautiful thing. Not everyone gets to live it. Some are alive, but not truly living. Held back by fear or worry. Held back by medical conditions or illnesses. Others are held back by their own perceptions that they “can’t” do something while on the other hand there are those who fight the odds to live as full a life as possible and put the more able-bodied of us to shame.

Yes, grief in vivid technicolor is an annual event, but life is a minute-by-minute event and it’s up to me to live it as completely and fully as possible. So far my ability to survive the worst days and come out alive is 100% and those odds are pretty good.

Now it’s your turn . . . go forth and LIVE OUT LOUD!

P. S. I only dropped 10 seconds from my pace even though that was not the key point. Did you really think I wasn’t going to track it? LOL!! Go back to the beginning and read thru those descriptive words if you missed it. I’m competitive, even against myself. Go rock your day guys!

Grief in Vivid Technicolor

“Real people with real grief simply find a path moving forward and choose to walk it one step at a time.” ~ Jessica Allen

Every year, it’s the same. I keep hoping that it will be different — not as vivid, not as clear, maybe even non-existent. It’s not.

For many years, the depression would kick in about the second week of June and I would feel it growing by degrees as we inched closer to the 4th of July. This year, for the first time, it wasn’t so much a sense of depression creeping over me as it was a feeling of tension and dread starting the first day of July.

July 3rd brings with it the memories. Eyes closed or eyes open, it doesn’t matter. I remember my son’s birthday events with such clarity that it makes my chest ache. I can remember the name of every nurse in the room and where they were standing. I remember the room number (245). I remember comments made by my OB/Gyn during the delivery and my insatiable desire for a cherry Icee right before the epidural. I remember the words used by the NICU nurses as they did my son’s first assessment: no palpable eyes, cleft palate, weak cry, and his APGAR scores of 6 and 8.

The memories rotate thru my head like a carousel, replaying in the order in which they took place. The sting of the MMR vaccination, the sign placed on the door by well-meaning staff requesting no visitors (which I subsequently tore down). The pastoral dedication of our sweet baby boy in the NICU nursery before they took him off life support and placed him in my arms. His first and only bath. The inane chatter of our pastor’s wife as she took pictures of us holding him, saying “Smile!”

Smile? Lady are you f*cking crazy. I’m holding my newborn child as he takes his last breaths and you want me to . . . smile?

Every single year, these memories return. You’d think it would get easier or less painful at least. I try to stay busy, I usually work to keep my hands and my mind occupied, but it doesn’t help.

Not all of the memories are painful. Every situation has it’s moments of humor, however dark. My mother had bought a new wig at the time which was very bouffant compared to her normal short, utilitarian haircut. After she left the hospital, I remember turning to my husband and asking, “What the hell was that on her head?” The night of the visitation at the funeral home, it was quite windy and we feared the wig would take flight and I could picture it swirling across the parking lot at which point I would have burst into maniacal laughter. (God spared me that one!)

The funeral home — now that was full of laughs (no disrespect). All the whispering. Why does everyone at the funeral home whisper? Who the hell are they afraid of waking up? The salesman who helped us pick out the casket and kept expounding on the nice “airtight and watertight seal” around the lid to which my husband replied, “Yeah . . .cause we don’t want him crawling out of there, do we?” (We quickly moved on.) When they presented the cost of the funeral to us and I shocked everyone in the room by asking if they had a “dig-your-own special.” I mean . . . c’mon . . . we were YOUNG, and we’d just had a baby (which isn’t cheap) that we didn’t get to bring home (HUGE surprise and not a pleasant one), and now you want a large sum of money that we don’t have so we can bury our child? What kind of response did they expect?

I was described, by the neonatologist even, as being “glib and blasé which (he) would attribute to shock.” Newsflash genius! I’m neither. I have a healthy, irreverent attitude about life that didn’t begin with this crisis. I am also a realist, and while I understand that shit happens, I also believe that your response to it will help determine how well you heal. It is imperative to me to find the silver lining even if it takes some searching – or in this case, excavating.

I want what every parent who has lost a child wants. What every person who has lost someone close to them, wants. I don’t want them to be forgotten. Grief is the elephant in a room that makes people uncomfortable. We skirt around it, we dance around it, we feel it’s presence and we try to ignore it. Grief in vivid technicolor will come ’round again next year.