Monday, November 30, 2015

Honeysuckle Homestead

Welcome to Honeysuckle Homestead.  This is what we have christened our new home. We chose this name because there is a giant honeysuckle vine growing and we added another.  We've moved in and begun some of the changes we wanted to make.  Husband has been working on our
Our piece of heaven
yard and I have been working on the house.  The room that is closest to being completely done is the master bedroom.  We still have work to do, but are in no hurry.  We have been enjoying the solitude and meeting the wonderful people that live near.  We've met so many lovely people.  An older gentleman and his wife came and actually brought us a homemade pecan pie!  It's amazing to experience the positive attitudes and the giving nature of our neighbors.  I hate to admit it, but Husband and I have become a little jaded with humanity because of the experiences we've had.  It is beautiful to finally live somewhere that is an example of what community should be.
Garden area and the apricot trees
In the picture on the right, you can see the fenced in area where we intend to put our garden in the Spring.  We know that we won't be able to have it as plentiful as in prior years, but we have time to work at it, this is our forever place.  The house came with two well established apricot trees.  Hopefully next Spring we will have fun learning all the ways to put up apricots!  We have a major challenge facing our gardening here.  The deer here are beautiful and graceful... and love to eat everything... but the grass.  We want to live in harmony with them, allowing them to wander around without harming them.  Since we want to use raised beds in our garden because the soil here is very rocky,  I've been trying to come up with an idea about how to cover our raised beds so that the deer and rabbits can't get to our food.  When we plant clover around our raised beds, it should take care of the rabbits.  The deer ate a baby scrub oak we had in a pot and one of my strawberry plants as soon as we moved them here, but we learned that they don't eat things near the house, so they are safe and growing back nicely.

In the house we were renting before, we bought and planted trees in the backyard.  Now, being the frugal people we are, we decided to dig up all the trees and take them with us to our new home.  We've found places for them all and things look promising.  We have three apple trees, another apricot, a desert willow, and a white mulberry tree that we've transplanted.  The fruit trees look like they are doing well.  We're praying for the others.  We also transplanted our grape vine, trumpet vine, our honeysuckle, and pieces of the virginia creeper.  We harvested all the quince from the bush at the rental and planted four fruit to try and grow some here.  We dug up our rosebush and planted it, and brought all the flowers that we had planted.  One of our new neighbors grows over 75 different varieties of irises and GAVE us a wheelbarrow full of the rhizomes!  They are planted EVERYWHERE.  We even transplanted some of our cactus because there isn't anything quite like a cactus blossom in the Spring.  The front yard also has two English walnut trees that were almost dead.  We've been giving them some love and right before the season change, they had already gotten new leaves.  Here's hoping they survive the Winter! 

Inside the house, I've painted until I can no longer hold a roller.  We started putting wood laminate flooring in, and we cleaned until our fingers were raw.  I can't wait to share the before and after pictures of the areas we've mostly finished.  It's Winter now so we are coming in early and going to bed early.  We hunker down in blankets and winter clothing.  I'm crocheting blankets for gifts and planning others.  My office/sewing area is still all packed away and I get to start painting it and putting in the floor in December.  There are so many new things and so much work, and we love it.  We have our Christmas decorations up and this place is already home. 

Taken from our front porch-she's very happily standing in our garden area!
As I've mentioned in previous posts, I want goats, sheep, chickens and bees.  We already have a loose connection with someone who will sell us some goats.  We are going to use the Winter to get ready for them.  We've heard that there are mountain lions in our area (our neighbors have seen them), so we have to take that into consideration with animals.  There are also javelina in the area and we've been warned about them as well.  One neighbor walked out to his yard and had a herd of about 20 hanging around.  There are also skunks, raccoons, and an occasional bear.  And, because we have a fish pond in the front yard, we've been warned about predatory birds, including herons.  The closest lake is only about a 6 minute drive away, so we are thinking that we won't have to worry too much about the fish.  This is the beginning of our life adventure.  It seems like everything before now has been in limbo and now we are finally able to do the things we've wanted.  We are homesteaders.  We are beginners.  As we move along our way, I'll share the changes we've made, the things I learn, and all the beautiful and lovely experiences we have at our forever place.

Light and Love,


Monday, August 17, 2015

On Change

Some of the mountains near our prospective home
Husband and I made an offer on a house and we are waiting to hear about our next steps and for the owners to do what needs to be done on their part.  I'm excited to go to the house and take pictures of everything and document the steps we take to make this house our perfect home.  It sits in a small town with a population of just over 600 looking toward mountains on several sides.  It has 1-2 acres (we will find out exactly when the survey is completed) so we will be able to have an amazing garden and possibly some animals.  I want goats for milk, sheep for wool, chickens for eggs, and bees for honey and other things.  I'm particularly excited to think about how my husband plans on creating a zen yard for us.  We will have the fish pond and water feature and grass, trees, rosebushes, lilac, and honeysuckle, but all this will take time to organize into the perfect zen area for us.  Don't be fooled by all my ravings, this house is a fixer upper, part of what we liked about it.  Right now we are somewhere in between excited because it will be our first home and it will be ours and trying not to get our hopes up too high in the event that the owners don't want to continue to work with us.  This area of in between.  It sings of hope and uncertainty.  It says, "Look what you can do, and look at what you've left behind."  We've become comfortable in the house we rent now.  We don't dislike the house, we dislike the location.  We want to be homesteaders!  We want change.  Here's the thing:  I'm not usually very good at change. 

Someone mentioned to me the other day something about not being afraid of change in relationships.  It was an odd comment at the time because there are so many things that are changing in my life right now.  Some have to do with the prospect of moving to a new house, some have to do with decisions my husband has made, and others have to do with me internally.  So, for someone who doesn't do change very well, I sure am pushing for and experiencing a lot of it and for once, I find it refreshing.  You see, we all get stuck in life and we can either stay stuck or get out of it.  Or, we can see something when it is coming and try to handle it with grace and peace.  I've sought some of the changes occurring in life, others I noticed were coming with no direct action on my part.  Both have revealed different things to me.  The ones I've sought, like finding a house to purchase to make our own and becoming a more positive person, have shown me how to make rational decisions that can benefit anyone involved.  The changes that I've noticed coming without direct action on my part have shown me how act and respond to difficult situations and negative people. 

The biggest lessons I've learned is how to see the change coming and how best to respond.  I don't remember ever seeing it coming before, but instead, just being hit by it and finding it overwhelming.  This time, I noticed where two paths were moving side-by-side and then a gradual turning away.  This change wasn't a hurdle, it was acceptance of how life moves.  I journaled about my observations and worked through my emotions.  I prayed for everyone involved in this season of life change, and I continued on the path I saw before me.   When the two paths would meet again, I would try to be the same person.  I tried to be positive and supportive, but the paths were too different for anything to be the same. 

Books I bought a couple of weekends ago
I am not only bad at dealing with sudden change, but I am also bad and letting go of things or people I love.  The two are often intertwined.  The thing about moving is that you really find out how much stuff you really have.  I usually start packing things long before it is necessary because I don't like last minute rushes.  I want everything to be precise and in order.  I started packing my books.  I approach them with the idea that I will downsize in order to move.  My to-get-rid-of pile is about 6-10 books.  Out of over 300.  Yes, I have a hard time letting go of things I love.  Or, here's another one, we have been saving wine bottles for over a year now so that I can cut them down and make things out of them.  But because this isn't our house, I haven't been able to use them for what I want.  Do I throw them out, or pack them?  I mean, there are only about 10.  I love my ideas, so I don't want to let go of the things that facilitate them.  What about people?  I am fiercely loyal and usually do what I can to support my loved-ones.  Sometimes it is inevitable that we have to let someone go.  This is one change that has come, this is that story of two paths.

I don't begrudge the change of paths, I support the changes that need to occur in order for all involved to find peace and light.  But I am hurt.  Letting go hurts.  Having to purge things that we want to hold on to hurts.  Having the very thing you stand for, the love and support that has become part of your character, torn down hurts.  This is part of the internal change that I have been seeking, but I didn't realize that seeking for positivity and light would cause this.  I took it for granted that those I'm around would be there with me.  Am I so vain as to think I would be followed?  No, but I did think that perhaps it would be contagious.  Instead the opposite happened.  I wrote on this a bit in my last post, about things done with a good intention being misunderstood and misconstrued as something else.  Change does this, blindsiding us a bit, but it is also good for us.  Change can teach us if we allow it to.  If we choose to not allow ourselves to get stuck in the first place, change can be our ally.  We can acknowledge our hurt and the pain that is caused by it, and we can heal.  We can move forward and focus on the light ahead.  Let's walk with our eyes open and our hearts healed through the changes that life throws at us.  Let's handle them with grace and a peace in our hearts.

Light and Love,


Friday, July 10, 2015

Perceptions of Love & Kindness

I've been introspective lately.  I've been reading books that have caused me to look at how I've handled things with people in the past.  I get into these moods because I like to become a better person and I want my soul to be healthy.  I've learned a main lesson in looking back: sometimes love and kindness don't come in the forms we think they should.

Have you ever had anyone speak to you about something that hurt or offended you and then later you learned that what they said was actually that person showing you love and kindness?  I have.  In some cases it took me years and some pain to learn that lesson.  I see a lot of posts on different social networking sites that talk about showing love and kindness.  If you've kept up with my posts, you know this is something I support.  However, rarely do I see people post things about the kind of love and kindness that can be uncomfortable.  I think my big moment of not realizing the kindness shown to me was when I started dating someone that those closest to me didn't like.  While we should never let the opinions of others dictate our decisions, we can listen to them and receive wisdom, or just be cautious in how we proceed.  In my case, it wasn't that they didn't like him as in individual, it was that they didn't like me dating him.  I had several people come to me, and each pointed out different instances that showed them why it was a bad idea.  I didn't listen to any of them.  Because I wasn't following all the religious rules that I had been taught, I took it as controlling behavior on their part, not love and kindness.  I don't regret the decisions I made, I regret not listening to them and gleaning from their wisdom.  I don't regret who I became as a result of my decisions, I like who I am, but I regret some of the things I lost as a result of my decisions.  I don't think that they were 100% correct in everything they said and did, but I can look back, see their intention, and be grateful.  You know what they were really telling me?  That I am valuable.  That they like having me around.  They didn't want that to go away.  Also, they didn't want me to get hurt.

These intentions of the heart are hard to see sometimes, especially when we are on the receiving end of difficult lessons.  I made a big mistake back then at automatically assuming the worst of people I loved.  I had been friends with and involved in several activities with these people for 10 years or so, and suddenly they were wrong about everything and only I was right.  That should have been the first sign, but it wasn't.  I feel somewhat sorrowful that the friendships that I lost at that time have been mostly washed away, the love is still there between us, but there will never be that friendship again.  Part of that was my unwillingness to receive.  Part of it was also how they responded to my unwillingness.  So here is the lesson that I want each of us to learn so that we don't have to go through these things. If we are on the receiving end of words we do not like from those we've been close to for a very long time, take it with a grain of salt.  Be willing to receive, or be willing to be willing.  Think about the things that have been said.  Are they completely harsh or is there a tone of love and concern?  We need to try to remember that the chances of those who love us suddenly being against us is very slim.  There is probably an intention in the things they say that we have to look for.

What if you are the one who is speaking out of love and kindness to someone and your words are misconstrued?  This can be just as hurtful as being on the other end of it.  Nobody likes to be misunderstood, especially when someone you love begins to think that you are criticizing and seeking to hurt them.  I think that the best thing to do is to express that you were not speaking in a way that was meant to be offensive or hurtful and then just leave it at that.  The thing about someone becoming defensive over things that are misunderstood is that it is easy to pick up the defensive attitude.  It is difficult to continue to be around someone when you want to help and be supportive, but anything beyond, "yes, I understand, you're right," is found as an attack on his or her character.  It is very easy for me to become exasperated and I often feel like Scuttle (the seagull) in The Little Mermaid where he is trying to warn Ariel that Ursula is deceiving her.  "Do you hear what I'm telling you?!"  But everything comes out as backward and confusing.  (See video below)

I've had many situations like this with my youngest brother.  I'm grateful that we have maintained a good relationship through everything, but sometimes it looked a little rocky.  Some of the kindest things I could have done to show him and myself love was to establish boundaries.  I showed him that certain behaviors were unacceptable around me, but I didn't ostracize and show hatred or judgment toward him.  He didn't understand my boundaries, but he was able to see my intention and my love.  Yes, he was hurt at being told things I had to tell him, but he eventually understood and now he is grateful.  (It also hurt that I had to place boundaries with someone I love so much, but, again, it was worthwhile for both of us).

We cannot beat those we love over the head and we cannot make them do anything we think they should do.  I mean, if the roles were reversed, would you like to have someone treat you that way?  I wouldn't.  I didn't like it when it was done to me.  The best thing that was done when I was going through my journey of testing the waters of bad decisions and change was from my mom.  She expressed her concern then she continued to treat me the same way as normal.  She would listen to me and give me advice, but she never became mean or hostile about it.  She never judged me.  She just loved me, gave me my space, prayed for me, and was the same ol' lovely lady that I love and admire.  She was the one I turned to when everything came crashing down and all the lessons had to be learned all at once.  She had proven to love me, so I felt she was all I had.  In times of discord with others, I try to be to them who my mom was to me.  I'm not as good at it, but her example of love and kindness was needed.  He example helped me when I was responding to my brother's behavior. 

So, what if kindness and love don't come in the form we think it should?  Remember that those who love us generally won't say and do things for the sole purpose of hurting and offending us.  If we take the time to examine the intentions, we can store away the things said to us later for when we are ready to receive wisdom and guidance.  Each of us can only love and show kindness to the best of our ability at the time.  It isn't always the same at any given moment, and it varies from one individual to the next and it is hardly ever the way we think it should be.  The key is knowing how to recognize it and accept it in the form it comes.

What if others misunderstand that we come to them in love and kindness?  Remember the same thing.  They aren't choosing to ignore our words because they don't love us, it is because they are not at a point where they can receive.  Continue to love and treat them with honor and respect.  Remember that each of us has our own journey and no two journeys are the same.  Recognize their continued value, voice your love for them, and accept that their journey is their own.  Be there to help them pick up the pieces if need be.  Let them have their space if they need it, but check up on them.  Pray for them.  I think this is called tough love.

May we all learn how to receive love and kindness in the form that it comes and continue to show it in the best way we can.

Light and Love,


Friday, June 19, 2015

Health and Wellness: Feeding your Mind and Experiencing Flow

I'm sitting in a hotel room watching one of my favorite movies, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, thinking about a few things without really being sure of how it will all fit together for this post.  I'm missing my yard and my husband (but not in that order).  I've only been gone for one night, and will return within the next couple of days, but still...I love my life and miss it when I'm out of my ordinary mundane beauty of it.  We have good things happening in our garden and yard.  I'm excited to see new life triumph over what appeared to be premature death in our Desert Willow and Hibiscus plants. 

Lately I've been into crafts and reading lots of books.  I added a few rows to my crocheted rag rug.  I started crocheting a blanket for my brother and have another planned for my mom.  Husband has been learning the art of woodcarving.  He also added shelves to a bookshelf for me and I put on the first coat of stain.  I am reading three books and will start a new one soon.  I recently bought On Kindness.  I'm reading Margaret's Ark and The Mosquito CoastMom loaned Flat Belly Diet to me because we love MUFA trailmix (more on that later!).   I am also listening to Eragon for the second time.   I like books.   I am the kind of person that has a harder time deciding which books to pack than what clothes and accessories.   I'm a pretty basic person, fairly low maintenance, unless we are talking about things to stimulate my spirit and mind.  I have very eclectic tastes and dip around in a wide variety of topics, and the books I read and spiritual practices I follow reflect that. 

In today's society where jobs are increasingly mentally demanding and we constantly have some form of technology around stimulating our brains, it can be a bit overwhelming to think about other ways to use our brains.  Let me use my mom as an example.  (I will probably do this a lot in my blogs because she is an incredible woman).  Mom has a mentally demanding job overseeing the operations departments in five different bank branches.  She travels around to these five different cities to do audits, training on new programs and procedures, and to just check up with the employees and make sure everything is functioning properly.  At the end of everyday she is exhausted.  One of her ways of recuperating from the brain exhaustion is to get lost in a book. Why is it that when we are mentally exhausted, we can find relief in a book?

Let's talk about "flow".  To talk about flow, we need to know the psychologist who did the majority of flow studies.  Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced: Cheeks-sent-me-high) studied the state where people feel "in the zone" during activities.  I think all of us have felt that way in one way or another.  When you are "in the zone" you aren't aware of hunger, fatigue, or even emotional state.  According to research, flow can be defined as the balance between skill and challenge (Peterson, 2006).  Peterson (2006) worked with Csikszentimihalyi in studying flow and describes it as, "the coming together of person and environment...among activities perceived as voluntary" (p. 67).  He also goes on to explain that real flow can be mimicked (and most often is) by junk flow.  Junk flow is usually found in activities such as playing video games, watching TV, and reading "trashy novels" (as opposed to books that stretch our mind).  The difference is that the aforementioned activities do not offer a challenge for the individual.  Those types of activities do not leave us feeling invigorated or satisfied (Peterson, 2006).  Children who experience more real flow throughout adolescence show more creative achievement and tend to show an overall higher level of health (Peterson, 2006).  In perusing the text I took this information from, I noticed that flow is associated with optimism, competence, good work, and positive pleasure (instead of harmful pleasure).  So, what's my point?  It's this: when we engage in an activity that causes our minds to engage in an active way in things we enjoy or are interested in, it produces positive benefits.  It is like medicine for our mental faculties, which in turn creates a better overall sense of well-being.  Peterson (2006) also talks about flow in relation to depression.  When people who are depressed continue in engaging activities (such as flow), they tend to be able to move out of depressive states quicker than those who do not.  Peterson suggests that psychologists learn how to use flow activities to help depressive clients work through their depression. 
The collection on my desk at home

When was the last time, if ever, that you experienced flow?  What are some things you can do to help facilitate it?  What books are you reading or what other activities are you enjoying?  I like to listen to books while I do other activities like my crafts (crochet, sew, knit), clean, go for walks, etc.  It helps my mind stay active in something, get lost in the flow of the story, while I'm doing an activity that is physically taxing in some way.  I also like to write stories.  I don't sit down and write something because I have to (I had too much of that in school!), I wait until I feel the flow going on.  I have Microsoft Word on my phone so that I can quickly narrate something that comes to me.  I just noticed that that is how I am running this blog too.  I can't pick a topic and force myself to share it.  I have to feel it to share it.  My best papers in school were written so well because I chose a topic that interested me.  So, when I sat down to write my papers, I would get caught up in sharing information and experience flow.  Also, when I was going through an extremely depression moment of life, I turned to things that would distract my mind from repeating the same harmful thoughts.  I listened to books from the time I woke up to the time I went to sleep.  The only time I took a break was when I was in class or doing homework.  It saved me from falling so deep into despair that I couldn't get out.  Life is more peaceful and more positive when we find healthy ways to stimulate our minds.  Let's find ways to implement flow into our normal lives.  

Light and Love,


References: Peterson, C. (2006). A Primer in Positive Psychology. Oxford University Press: New York, NY. 

*** You can access links to all of the books I have mentioned in this post by clicking on the name of the book, or you can go to my Books tab and find them and many others there.  You can also follow this blog by exploring the other tabs.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Health and Wellness: Allergy and Sinus Relief

As Spring turns into Summer many things come alive and make their presence known in this world.  We can catch glimpses of baby birds in nests, bees pollinating flowers, and the birth of new creatures all over the globe.  My favorite things all have to do with nature.  I love wildflowers and the bunches of them that my husband brings home for me from his nature walks.  I love the trees in bloom, turning to fruit, and cool breezes that help to spread the love around.  In my yard we have a new apple tree that has about ten apples growing beautifully.  Our poppies are blooming, keeping company with the blue flax flowers and the bright pinks of the Sweet Williams.  Every day brings new sights and smells in our yard and garden.

Sweet William (I love that name)
Unfortunately, with the new sights and smells comes new problems with my sinuses and allergies.  For the longest time I didn't have problems with either.  My youngest brother was the one in the family that had the allergies, none of the rest of us did.  I've done some research on diet and some on natural remedies.  I used to live on 24 hour Claritin D.  Then I started getting dizzy, a very weird vertigo feeling when I would walk across the room or drive.  It was horrible and not safe.  I quit taking over the counter sinus medication, but started having problems breathing at night and my headaches came back.  I don't get the itchy, watery eyes.  I get pressure in my face, temples, and the base of my skull.  They turn into migraine headaches.  Before now I have always treated the headaches without looking at treating the sinus/allergy pressure. I'm not exactly sure why, but I've wised up and have found a good combination of products that help me to keep my allergies and headaches at bay without taking medication.  I wanted to share these things with anyone interested so that others would begin to feel the relief too.

The first thing I bought that I realized that helped a lot is Organic Breathe Easy Rub by the Honest Company.  (I buy a lot of products from them and love them).  This rub is similar to vaporubs, but it is made with natural and organic products.  It is also petroleum and menthol free for those of you who prefer not to use those things.  I put some on the bottom of my feet, my chest, and nose before bed each night.  I read somewhere (not sure where, pinterest is all I remember) that if you rub vaporub on your feet it helps with breathing and coughing.  I bought the Breathe Easy rub when I got sick this past winter and realized how well it worked.  I also started using different teas from Traditional Medicinals.    Traditional Medicinals Seasonal Herb Tea Sampler 16 Count Box is the one I order.  It contains Gypsy Cold Care, Echinacea Plus, Throat Coat, and Breathe Easy teas.  I use these tea blends for all manner of illnesses.  I read a blog post that spoke about using nettle in tea to help with allergies. (Fresh Bites Daily) I use a strainer and mix nettle with either Gypsy Cold Care or Breathe Easy for sinus and/or allergy relief.  I get my herbs from either a local store or Mountain Rose Herbs
Red Poppy

Finally, in my desire to learn more about essential oils as a part of promoting natural health, I purchased Breathe from DoTerra.  A bit of this works wonders.  It can be used in the same way that I mentioned for the rub, but the main difference is that this blend is an oil, not a cream.  Oils can be diffused into the air to promote healthy breathing throughout the whole night.  I like the drops that are available as well.  They function like cough drops, but are natural and focus on respiration.  This helps with pressure in my face and head as well.  I've found that when I do these things to help with my sinus and allergy symptoms my headaches are slim to none.

I haven't found a "cure" for sinus and allergy problems, but everything I have described in this post has helped immensely.  It is easy to put a teabag in my purse if I'm going somewhere, drop some Breathe Drops in there too.  I have read many conflicting studies about nutrition.  Some claim that gluten causes allergies, others claim that dairy is the culprit.  I don't fancy an elimination diet to find out what I cannot eat because I eat the healthiest I can (most of the time, I mean...cookies = weakness).  I have also heard that consuming local organic honey instead of sugar helps (I buy Mesquite honey from Albertson's) and I've heard that apple cider vinegar helps.  ACV helps with a number of things and I encourage everyone to make it part of their diet anyway.  I promote healthy living and being in nature is part of that.  So, if you need allergy and/or sinus relief, try some of these alternative remedies for yourself.  Let me know if anything else has worked for you!

Light and Love,


P.S.  You can follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram.  The links are in the tabs.  I also have tabs for my disclaimer, DoTerra store, and the books that I refer to on my blog.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Health and Wellness of the Soul: Developing Kindness and Respect

I think one of the main things that humans differ in from other animals is that we have the opportunity to go out of our ways to show kindness, respect, and consideration to others of our species.  In the past few weeks I feel as though I have been inundated with examples of people doing the exact opposite of this, so today I am finally taking the hint and writing about it.

River in Gallenas Canyon
It just so happens that this kind of goes along with bullying and I am sitting watching the birds again this morning.  I had hopes of catching a glimpse of the bird my husband described yesterday so I could identify it and I want to watch the Bronzed Cowbirds.  All I got this morning were the usual suspects, including the bullying doves.  It made me remember my post on bullying and how we can choose to practice kindness and compassion instead of continuing to spread anger and hatred.  My goal with this post is to make sure that I am not just repeating what I have already written.  I think the main issue is that society has become something that encourages individuals to constantly think about themselves.  It has bred selfishness and inconsiderate behavior.  We no longer stop to see things from the perspective of others, only what can benefit us first and best.

I think my biggest pet peeve in this area is blaring music.  There isn't anything that can show us what is on the person's mind better than blaring music.  It doesn't matter what type of music, although most of the time music that is blaring out of someone's home and/or vehicle is negative and laced with an attitude that celebrates bad behavior. (In my experience).  When we are so consumed with our own world, turning music up so loud that it does damage to our eardrums and rattles the windows of our vehicle and the houses we drive by, we are essentially giving the message that, "Nobody matters but me and what I want."  Examples:  Husband and I went to a lake for an overnight fishing trip.  We packed light (for me) and carried our stuff on our backs around the lake so that we would have our own space and be away from the entrance and the activity.  We go to the lake for solitude.  At around 11:00pm a vehicle showed up and parked with their music blaring and conversation even louder.  Even from across the lake it was too loud, the conversation was about drug abuse and threatening people.  We found cell signal and called the police, so they eventually left.  A few days later, on Mother's Day, we went to a different area where there are picnic spots next to a creek.  At first it was lovely, then some other people showed up and had to put their music up very loud.  When they first turned their music on it wasn't that bad, it bothered us because we go to nature to escape things like that, but we were able to tolerate it.  Then another group of people showed up and turned their music up louder to drown out the other.  We packed up and left.  My point of view: If you want to listen to music, by all means, do so.  I won't let mine disturb you, please don't let yours disturb me.  I'm not just talking about my family's inconvenience.  This is something that a lot of people hate.  I know someone in a different town that had a petition go around so that he could have sound ordinances observed in his community.  This is why neighborhood watches and gated communities have been formed, this is why there are city ordinances.

What's my point?  Hasn't anyone ever stopped to teach people that we don't have to always think about ourselves?  Haven't we ever learned that we don't need to inconvenience and offend others to be happy and feel accomplished?  Let's use some more serious examples:  Religion and politics.  Ideally, each of us has the prerogative to believe and stand for the things that mean the most to us.  No one person or group is correct and should not be able to dictate belief system or world view to another person or group.  However, our world is full of different religious groups persecuting and condemning one another for the sake of being "right".  They don't go to one another in love and out of concern for their souls anymore.  They seek to be the last religious person standing.  The things that are happening today that involve religion are, at their core, no better than the Inquisition and the ways that native people groups across the globe were treated.  It is shameful brutality.  Instead of slow torture and mass genocide, it is the artillery of tongue and tank.   I do not know if politics are the same in other countries as they are in the United States, but I know that here political stance has become religionized.  People adhere to their political stance with the same rabid hatred that they do their religion.  Neither side stops to see the hurt and hatred they spread into the world.  Each tries to outdo the other with their "shock factor" to get their point across and nothing gets accomplished.  Each cries about injustice and discrimination, never stopping to think that it is the hatred that they are spreading that causes the very things they seek to irradicate.

My morning view on our fishing trip
Kindness, Respect, and Consideration.  It is common to think of these things as showing weakness.  In church I was taught that if I showed them to people that I didn't like I was being a hypocrite.  (Hypocrisy is showing hatred toward others when you claim to follow a God-man who came to save and love EVERYONE).  How do we live these characteristics toward those that do not show them to us?  Sometimes, like in the face of bad music, being kind means not confronting them or going through the proper channels to confront bad and dangerous/illegal behavior.  In other instances it is to go out of your way to not act with the same attitude as others.    It doesn't mean that you allow yourself to be trampled on, but it does mean that you don't retaliate in the same way.  If you want others to respect you, be considerate of you, and show you kindness, you cannot treat them poorly to "show them what it's like".  Minor example: in the instance where two people were having a music show-down, neither communicating with the other, just turning their music up to drown out the other, what was accomplished?  Bigger example: rioting may be a "shock factor", but all it does is show that you are capable of violence and seek to destroy other people's property.  How would you feel if it was your property being destroyed?  Trampling on the beliefs of others, even in the name of "rights", is not showing kindness, respect, or consideration.  It does not show others that you deserve to be treated with respect.  These actions show that you are selfish and inconsiderate and no different from those whom you are criticizing.

Kindness and respect are not just actions that we take toward others, they are a reflection of our soul/spirit health.  If all we want to do is hurt others and retaliate in violence and hatred, our souls are torn and hurt.  If we want to heal our souls, begin to see more joy and outward positive emotions in our lives, we need to tend to our souls.  I wrote a three-part blog series about Self-Care, healing, and forgiveness that addresses soul health as well.  There are things we can do to help ourselves with better health, this includes soul health.  If we want to experience evidence of soul health, all we have to do is see how we treat others.  (Note: how we treat others doesn't mean becoming people-pleasers.)  When someone disagrees with us, do we become angry and hurtful toward them?  If someone says mean and hurtful things to us, do we retaliate with the same without regard to how they will feel?  When I begin to see myself responding and treating others harshly or negatively, I have to stop and weigh where it is all coming from.  What is going on inside of me that is making me treat others this way?  More often than not, I have received hurt somewhere and haven't tended to it.  Our souls depend on us for healing and forgiveness to maintain health.  

It is sad that these are the things that are mostly publicized.  On Facebook, I follow a page call Good News Network because they publish the good and positive things that regular media skips over.  There is a lot of beauty in our world.  There are people to our right and left that are showing kindness and respect, even in the midst of turmoil.  We just don't hear about it, and we do nothing to spread it around when we do hear about it.  These positive stories are seen as skirting the issue when in reality our society has become something that makes mountains out of molehills and giant devastating earthquakes out of mountains instead of working to remedy the issues in peace and with respect toward everyone involved.  If each of us made it our goal to out-do the other in showing respect and being considerate, society wouldn't be that way.  If we went through proper channels to express and alleviate injustice instead of creating more injustice, society would become safer and more pleasant for everyone.  If we went out of our way to make sure that we don't treat others as poorly as we feel we've been treated, there would be a change.  If we took the time to look outside of our own wants, we would learn to be happier in life with the things that truly matter.  If we stopped to see the positive things and lovely things instead of all the negativity, maybe we would in turn treat others in a more lovely manner.  I have to decide to do these things everyday.  When people are inconsiderate and hateful toward me and those I love, my first emotional response is to lash out and make them feel what it's like to feel this way.  But, my more logical response, the one I am trying to fine-tune, overrules and I realize that the better way is to choose to be different.  I encourage everyone who reads this to choose to be different and not show the same inconsiderate behavior as others.  Choose to respect others for the simple reason that you would want respect if you were in their shoes.  Choose to find kindness as a source of behavior.  Maintain your soul health.

Light and Love,


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Lessons Learned in Being the Wife of a Veteran with PTSD

Well, we have most of our garden planted.  We are trying quinoa and wheat this year!  Husband is at a meeting with the Veteran's Administration, and I am preparing to help him get ready to go on an overnight backpacking trip.  His nature walks and backpacking trips are therapeutic for him.  They help him to process all the emotional and mental things that swim around inside him from day to day.  Husband's "ailments" can be summed up by stating that he suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and chronic pain from various combat injuries.  These are things that cannot be seen physically.  Husband's daily average physical pain level is a 5 on a 1-10 scale.  His emotional and mental pain cannot be measured.

If you are reading this and you have been diagnosed with PTSD, some content of this post has the possibility of triggering a reaction.  If you have not been diagnosed with PTSD and you feel as though you relate to anything mentioned in this post, I encourage you to seek help from a professional.  If you need help finding one in your area, please email me and I will do what I can to help you find someone.

My goal here is to provide those who need it a sense of support and information that I have learned.  One of the things that has helped me the most in knowing how to help my husband is to have a basic knowledge of what PTSD is.  I have read numerous articles and books on the topic (I will provide information to anything I have access to, just let me know what you want).  The two main books that I highly recommend to family members of those with military related PTSD are The Warrior's Guide to Insanity by Sergeant Brandi and A Mind Frozen in Time by Jeremy Crosby.  The first book gives a perspective of PTSD from the soldier's side of things.  Sgt. Brandi was a soldier in the Viet Nam War.  This book is about his experiences and his advice to fellow soldiers and their family members.  The latter book was recommended by my husband's counselor (also a veteran).

So, what is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?  The basic definition is after a traumatic event occurs, the mind gets stuck there causing a number of different symptoms.  The diagnosis of PTSD from a mental health professional looks something like the following (paraphrased from the DSM-V, 2013).

     A. Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence through        experiencing first hand, witnessing, learning of another's trauma,  or experiencing details of trauma as first responders.
     B. Presence of one or more of intrusive symptoms associated with the traumatic event: recurrent, involuntary distressing memories, dreams, flashbacks, distress when exposed to things that trigger memory of the trauma, significant physical reaction to triggers.
    C.  Avoidance memories, thoughts, or feelings and avoidance of triggers of memories thoughts or feelings.
    D.  Negative alterations in thoughts and mood associated with traumatic events; inability to remember significant aspects of trauma, persistent and exaggerated beliefs or expectations about oneself, others or the world.
    E.  Noticeable alterations in reactive behavior such as irritable behavior and angry outbursts, reckless or self-destructive behavior, hyper-vigilance, Exaggerated startle response, problems concentrating, and insomnia.

The reason why I am stressing aspects that have to do with military, (combat veteran, veterans with PTSD, books by veterans, etc.) is because to many veterans it matters.  The military is a sub-culture that offers experiences and knowledge unique to those a part of it.  These experiences and camaraderies cannot be fully understood by those of us "on the outside".  That is something that we have to accept.  Never tell your family member or loved one that you understand unless you have been in the military.  If you are law enforcement, you will not understand because law enforcement is its own entity, it is not military.  Also, NEVER ask about experiences or why they feel the way they do.  As spouses, friends, and family, it is not our job to counsel them.  Let me tell you, after almost seven years of educational training in mental health, this is a difficult one for me!  It has become my instinct to help by asking questions and offering solutions or advice to work through things.  I have to put all of that aside.

I think one of the most valuable things I have learned in studying counseling and social work is how to listen actively.  This isn't just sitting there and letting someone talk at you.  Active listening means you take part in what the person is talking about.  Let him or her speak without reservation and do not take offense at what is being said.  Active listening holds no judgment.  This does not mean that you allow yourself or your loved one to be in physical danger.  When I see signs that Husband needs to talk, I sit with him and let him rant away.  I do not confront anything that I dislike or disagree with until the next day, and only then if I felt that it was harmful to either of us in some way.  He just has to have the freedom to talk, it helps him to process things that he has a hard time dealing with.  The next day, I encourage him to go on an overnight backpacking trip.  If he feels the need to put it off, I speak plainly to him,  "If you go now, you'll feel better.  There's no point in putting it off."  I don't try to manipulate or sugar coat things.  I admit that he needs time away from me.  I try to give him a happy balance of alone time and family time.

Something minor to me, but monumental to him is that I take over tasks that stress him out too much.  Finances, paperwork, and dealing with people are the main things.  I don't like doing them either, but I would rather do them and know it is helping him.  Since Husband is a veteran we do a lot of interaction with the Veteran's Administration.  Before we got married he had to deal with everything himself and he was in a perpetual state of frustration and depression because of all the different processes he had to do.  Now he has the freedom to dismiss one more thing from his mind and it makes him proud to know he has a wife he can trust with it all
Husband does some building as a hobby.

Another thing that I've learned and have to remind myself constantly is that everything that he is going through doesn't have to do with me.  Nothing is my fault.  When he is angry, even at something seemingly small that may have to do with me, his issue isn't me or what I have or haven't done.  Anger is part of PTSD.  If he is feeling depressed, it isn't my fault.  The best thing I can do for him is to love him through it.  Support him, and maintain positivity.

A positive attitude is something I have a hard time with.  I tend to naturally be negative, but I didn't realize it until Husband told me that my negativity was making it difficult for him to deal with the stuff he deals with.  It was bringing him down more.  It is difficult to try to be positive because there are real stressors and negative emotions, and I cannot just dismiss them and consider them invalid because I have not gone through what he has.  When either of us is having a difficult emotional/mental time (I deal with depression and anxiety from time to time too), we try to be open and honest with one another.  That means, I tell him, "I'm feeling emotional/depressed/stressed so I'm sorry if I become negative, just let me know if I bother you."  And he does the same.  "Hun, I'm sorry, I have a lot going through my mind right now.  I'm going for a walk, I'm not mad or anything."  I often ask him if there is anything I can do to help, most of the time there isn't.  So I will do small things like fix him a glass of peach tea or put on the music/movie that makes him happy.  I'll make him cookies (there is medicine in cookies.  Many things can be solved over tea and cookies).  Usually when I'm feeling bad he will buy me chocolate and pick flowers for me.   Little things to let each other know we are there for each other.  Point: we have to take care of ourselves too.  We cannot dismiss our own needs because on some scale somewhere what we deal with isn't as hard/bad enough as what they do.  It's just that sometimes we need to find ways to deal with our stuff without bringing them into it.  It isn't easy, but it helps everyone in the long run.  I have some people close to me that I talk to.  I have a mug that says, "Keep calm and call mom" because that is what I do.  I make Mint Medley tea and call my mom.  I ask her to pray for me.  She is patient and kind and my voice of reason.  She lets me vent the way I let Husband.  I journal about things when I'm emotionally heightened.  For me it helps to write things in story format because then I can see how I'm feeling from a different perspective.

I think that this last one is probably one of the most important for maintaining our own health when we are working hard to help our loved ones maintain theirs.  Remember that you are valid.  How you feel is valid too.  Sometimes you need a vacation from everything just as much as your loved one does.  When Husband goes on overnighters I do something just for me.  I try to incorporate something on a daily basis that is just for me, usually it is my walk, other times it is time spent doing crafty things in my office.  I hope that you can learn the best ways to help the one(s) you love who continue to experience the horror of their traumas over and over again.  I hope that you realize that you are valuable too.   Maybe something I've written here or in previous posts will help.  If you need someone to talk to, message me on here or in one of my other forums.

Light and Love,


** If you need more resources on PTSD, feel free to contact me.  There is great material out there.  Including a book for children to explain what their parent(s) may be going through.  Why is Dad so Mad is a book written for children by a veteran with PTSD.  

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Health and Wellness: Maintaining Positivity

I have a confession, I'm not a positive person.  I think I usually have a negative inner dialogue.  I like having the freedom to be grouchy and give that intimidating LOOK to those who irk me.  I'm not precisely sure why this is, but it's true.  Perhaps it makes me feel powerful, perhaps it's just reality that sometimes we are grouchy and negative and I enjoy freedom to be me.  This is one thing I haven't psychoanalyzed.  Being grouchy every morning is definitely different from being a generally negative person.  I can spot the flaws in anything and can dwell on them to the point of obsession.  That isn't healthy.  At all.  It can be difficult to keep a balance between allowing myself the freedom to be grouchy and trying to let go of negativity.  This is one balance that I have to work on all the time because it is very easy for morning grouchiness to turn to depression and anger.  My mornings are almost always a rough transition because I'm trying to move from my morning grouchy-ness to a good mood.  Sometimes this is extremely difficult and I need outside help.  Yesterday I put a playlist on Pandora (nature sounds with music) and decided to meditate.  I measured my feelings, weighed the reasoning behind them, and let my emotions flow as I acknowledged them and worked to move on from that point.  It is one of the many things I have learned over the years that help me to maintain a positive outlook on life.  Acknowledging negative emotions, allowing ourselves to experience them, and then focusing on positive things is one healthy way to gain emotional and mental health.  It doesn't bother me that I wake up grouchy, it's when I can't seem to snap out of it and begin to feel like I'm in a rut that bothers me.

One of my dad's cactus blossoms
When I was working on my bachelor's degree, I had a class over a summer called Positive Psychology.  This class is what changed my view of negativity and positivity.  What is Positive Psychology?  Peterson (2006) states that, "Positive psychologists study positive traits and dispositions--characteristics like kindness, curiosity, and the ability to work on a team--as well as values, interests, talents, and abilities.  They study social situations that can enable the good life: friendship, marriage, family, education, religion, and so on" (p. 8).  What does that mean?  It means that psychologist who study those things do not focus on "the problem".  They acknowledge the problem and focus on positive aspects that can help build better health for the individual.  In social work this method is called "strengths based".  I love these methods of helping people, and I love being able to use them for myself.  It takes some time and self-awareness to train your mind to look at things positively instead of negatively, but it is doable and worth it.  Let me share an experience I had in my teens.

I was in art class with a group of girls during high school.  One of them told me and another girl that we claimed to hate a lot of things.  I remember feeling a bit appalled at myself that somebody noticed something like that about me.  So, to challenge that, me and the other girl decided to make a game out of it by saying that we loved something opposite of whatever we hated.  Being teenagers, it came across as sarcastic from time to time, but it helped to change my mindset.  I started to think of things that made me happy or joyful instead of the things I disliked.  As I got older I learned how to finely tune this and become more and more aware of the things I focus on.

In one of my social work classes, the professor showed us the following video.  It reminded me of another thing from my past, but also of the impact that focusing on positive things can have on our wellbeing.

The story from my childhood: I have two younger brothers and I was a TERRIBLE big sister.  I was mean, very mean, to my brothers.  My parents were always trying to find ways to get me to be nicer to them.  One way was to write things to learn to do differently.  I think I must have said something extremely hateful to the older of my two brothers because my mom had me write a Bible verse 200 times to learn to think and say positive things.  It is the Bible verse mentioned in the video above.  As an adult, some 20 years later (or so), I can still remember that verse.  It is a good principle to live by regardless of spiritual/religious belief.

"Finally brothers, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8

What would our lives be like if everyone we were around focused only on these things? What would our lives look like if we changed our own mindsets to think of things that are lovely and good and true?  Our lives are inundated with negativity from every corner.  We almost have to live in a bubble to weed out everything.  While we cannot control the things that others say and do, we can control the things we allow to take residence in our own souls.  It is difficult to maintain a positive outlook on life when we are surrounded by hatred, bitterness, and negative energies.  If we do not protect ourselves from the negativity from others, who will?  My husband and I go out of our way to protect ourselves from outside negative influences.  We do this as a method of helping him through depression and anxiety because of his PTSD (a future post talks about this in greater detail).  Here are things we do to help ourselves and each other.

  • Limit the people we are around.  We are both introverts, me more than him, so this isn't difficult for us.  However, extraverts can do this as well.  Simply ask yourself, "How do I feel after being around this person?"  If you feel icky, physically ill, exhausted, or grouchy almost every time you are around someone, try to be around him or her in small doses.  One of the things I have noticed about myself is that the more I am around people that make me feel that way, the more I become someone who is that way as well.  Some people's attitudes are toxic.  It is sad, but true.  
  • Limit our exposure to negative media.  We don't have satellite or cable television just because we don't see the point in paying for it.  We have a lot of movies and we can watch any type of tv shows we desire either on Netflix or Hulu, or our tv isn't on all the time.  Generally, we watch a movie in the evenings, and more often than not (and not necessarily on purpose) we choose happier movies.  Last night we watched The Muppets.  We avoid things like regular news.  We are aware of some current events because we have friends and family who talk about it.  From time to time I will look up what is going on in the world, but we don't start or end our days out with all the negativity the news brings.  This is something that some will have an argument against, but really, our lives are better for not dwelling on it the way a lot of society does.  We do not pretend that bad things don't happen, nor do we look at the world through rose colored glasses.  We simply do not allow it to make an impact in our lives.  This also does not mean that we don't care, it just means that we are aware of the things we can and cannot control.  
  • Social networking: here's the thing.  We are friends with people who have widely differing world views.  There are those who are conservative to the extreme and those who are liberal to the extreme.  If we are on a social networking site that is a platform for those who like to share their view on anything, from day to day life, politics, or religion, and it negative or critical, we limit what we see from them.  It is no secret that I have some people on a "restricted" list because I do not want negative comments on my posts.  I also have certain pages and sites blocked from showing on my newsfeed.  On Facebook, I created a list of pages that I like.  They focus on positive things, or things that make me happy, so I have a dose of "happy" whenever I go on.  It has really helped me out.  Instead of going on Facebook and experiencing all the drama and pissery that many people experience, I see uplifting quotes, pictures of nature, prayers, and other things that put a smile in my heart.
  • Do things daily to help weed out the negative.  Husband goes on nature walks almost every day as a way to process his thoughts and emotions and to get alone and enjoy something beautiful.  He wrote, "Well, I have met brother bear, Seen the eyes of the great eagle, saw the cowardess of a bobcat, The sheer power of the puma, and the thoughtlessness of the wild boar, The slithering of snakes, and the slowest of snails. My hikes are wonderful and surprising. The black bear is the newest I've seen."  He has also created a type of oasis in our backyard.  I go for walks and try to do something spiritual everyday.  I also look at my environment and try to be grateful for things instead of complaining.  (I'm a good complainer, so I work on this one).  
An iris in our front yard
I have a friend who recommended a book to me called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  I haven't read it yet, but it is on my list.  From the summary of the book, it is about learning to express gratitude for everyday things.  In my positive psychology class, making a list of things we are grateful for was one activity that we did to measure our mood at the end of the week.  It makes a difference when we begin to measure the things that are positive in our lives and begin to focus on those things.  

These are all things that I am remembering today because it is the end of April in southern New Mexico and we have had snow and sleet where we usually have 60+ degree weather.  Usually by now our squash, beans, and tomatoes are well on their way to growing, but now we have hardly any sprouts.  So, instead of complaining about the weather, I'm telling myself, "I'm grateful for the moisture because we live in the desert.  I'm grateful for the time indoors husband and I can spend together today."  I've learned to love the beauty around me that can be seen in the ordinary and mundane things.  And these things help with maintaining health and wellness within my body, mind, and soul.  I challenge everyone to make some changes in your lives, just some small ones, that will help you look at things more positively and see how different you feel after a week, a month, half a year.  May you find positive things to encourage your health and wellness within.

Light and Love,


Look at my pages, I have a book list and some links to other ways you can follow Eclectic Peanut. 


Peterson, Christopher. (2006). Positive Psychology. Oxford University Press, Inc.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Health and Wellness: Depression

It is another beautiful Spring day.  Today my husband and I are going to plant some more seeds in the garden. The tomatoes I started inside are just about ready to be planted.  With the coming of warmer weather and Spring, I've felt the need to be busy with things within the home.  One of my goals for life is to become more self-sustainable.  I want us to produce most of our own food, clothing, etc.  So, I've been working on creating.  I've been cleaning and designing our garden.  We took a drive to a lake northeast of us. It's been under construction and we wanted to see what's going on with it. Spring is beautiful in the mountainous regions of the desert. We had a wet winter so everything is greener than usual. The wild grasses are growing and the ground is peppered with wild flowers in yellows, whites, and purples.  As I write this we are on our way to a lake northwest of us to go fishing. Along the Gila River the soaring cottonwoods stretch their branches, now full of greenery, and let their cotton fall and collect like snow in the middle of summer. Getting out is a good feeling after a season of "winter blues" and doldrums.
Bill Evans Lake

I've thought long and hard about my next topic.  I thought maybe I would discuss sinus issues and allergies because it's the season for it.  One thing keeps coming back though.  Depression.  It is a difficult topic, but it is even more difficult to deal with.  Severe and debilitating depression should be discussed with a licensed professional such as a psychologist or counselor.  For more mild cases, there are things that can be done to help.  Or, you can use the information I provide here to discuss things with your mental healthcare provider.  (Please see my disclaimer).

One of my favorite books is Prescription for Herbal Healing.  It has an innumerable amount of valuable information in it.  I am providing a link to the edition I have, but there is a newer edition available.  This book contains information on all manner of herbs, how to prepare them in different ways, and a number of different health concerns.   Most herbs can be found at Mountain Rose Herbs. I have ordered from them and find quality herbs for good prices.  In the section on Depression, some herbs and herbal formulas are described.  There are two main herbs that have featured in research, St. John's Wort and Kava.  Both of these have shown to be beneficial in treating depression.  They are definitely something worth checking out with an herbalist or psychologist/counselor that specializes in natural remedies.

Another thing that this book has is a list of considerations and suggestions.  Balch (2002) suggests that getting at least 20 minutes of sun exposure a day can help with depression, and exercise helps as well.  I've talked about this before because being outside and going for walks are passions of mine, but it is definitely something that has shown to help.  This is usually my go-to for my doldrums and seasonal depressive feelings.  Sometimes I need to step out of the normal walking routine and get my husband to take me away to some place in nature to just soak in the clean air and peace.

Another thing that can help with depression is combining different practices such as meditation with the use of aromatherapy or essential oils.  DoTerra has essential oil blends such as Balance that promotes relaxation and feelings of peace and balance.  Serenity is another calming blend and PastTense is for easing tension.  Also, Elevation is a blend that elevates the mood and vitality.  All of these can be used in a diffuser for aromatherapy, or just open the bottle and smell.  They can also be used topically, rub some on your wrists or your neck.  If you do some these things combined with meditation, you will promote your own mental and emotional wellness.  I like to use nature sounds to help me focus on drowning out other things.  There is a wide variety of apps for computers, phones and tablets that help with nature sounds and white noise.

I think that one of the biggest things that can help with moods is to stop whatever is going on to encourage it and take time for yourself.  Take a steaming bath by candlelight, put a few drops of one of the essential oils listed above into your bath.  A friend of mine uses aromatic shower crystals.  I like to take a few minutes and journal what I'm feeling and thinking.  I also like to spend time in spiritual practice.  Say a prayer, light a candle, listen to spiritual music (I like Jason Upton for this purpose).  Life in today's society gives us a lot to handle and many times our natural responses are that of depression and anxiety.  While depression that is life debilitating should be discussed with a licensed professional, there are things we can do to help ourselves not feel overwhelmed.   Next time it hits you, try one of the things mentioned here, and if you find that your depression is so overwhelming that you cannot cope with life, please seek help with a counselor.

Light and Love,


** If you want more information on the research I have mentioned in this article, message me and I can give you the research.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Health & Wellness: Being Female

It's another lovely Spring day.  I've been thinking lately about publishing some other things I have written.  Almost everything I've written that wasn't specifically for school is geared toward children.  So, I have to find an illustrator for those.  A friend told me that I could learn to do watercolor painting via YouTube, but I haven't started that yet.  I have some other things that I am thinking about submitting to a magazine for publication.  Today, I saw a rhyme that made me suddenly have an entire outline of a book in my mind.  I started writing right away.  I usually get pieces or general story ideas, not entire outlines.  It makes me suspicious that I have heard it somewhere before, so I have a lot of research to do to make sure I not only write well and accurately, but to make sure I am not inadvertently plagiarizing someone else's story.  I'm beginning by talking about writing because it is something that I have wanted to do since I was very little.  I think I was 10-12 years old when I wrote my first short story.  There is only one other thing that I remember ever wanting to do, and that was before I learned I was creative in written word.  I wanted to be a carpenter like my dad.  I couldn't have been older than eight years.  I remember when I told him, he was flattered, but bothered too.  His reply wasn't harsh, though at eight the disapproval seemed harsh.  He told me that I couldn't be a carpenter because I am a girl.  I think this is my first memory of definite gender roles.  I knew the difference between male and female; I had two younger brothers by that time.  But, it never occurred to me that I couldn't do something because I'm a girl.  I don't blame my dad.  I don't know why he told me what he did, maybe he was thinking about his experiences as a carpenter and didn't want his daughter to experience the same things.  Maybe he was thinking about the gender roles that had been placed on him.  He was a carpenter because he was male, and at age 14 in our hometown, that is what you did.  Girls did other things like babysit.  Although I didn't always know, since then I have been confined by what others thought being female entailed.  For me it was society and religion.  My family was confined by the same ideals as I, so I do not blame them.  Growing up I loved to be outside, I wanted the typical home and a family thing that many other girls wanted, but I wanted to be outside.  I wanted to play in the mud.  I wanted to be considered tough and hardy.  I was a "tomboy" who didn't like sports, but loved frilly dresses and nail polish.  I loved camping with my family and I never understood why I couldn't be part of the boy scouts.  I shunned girl scouts because, lets face it, who wants to sell cookies when you can tie knots and camp in a foot of snow.  I would have made it to Eagle Scout, earned the Order of the Arrow, and showed up ALL the boys, especially my brothers. But, I couldn't.  "Girls work in the house.  Boys work outside."  My brother would taunt me.  I was outside as a kid, freer and able to shun others' ideologies for me, but as a teenager and into my young adulthood, I felt as though I had to be different than I felt I was naturally.  I had to be girly and become the "proper" woman if I wanted to win a worthwhile husband.  I didn't know that as an adult those same desires would come back to life.  Today, I still love being outside.  I still wear nail polish, but my feet are almost always grubby, today they are stained green from walking in the mown grass barefoot as I collected the cut clover and grass for the compost.  I'm always eager to get out and dig and turn over the ground for the new garden and I get mad when my husband does it without me.  But, I also love to knit and crochet, cook and keep my home.  And, my favorite of all, I married a man who actually likes to include his wife in things.  He takes me camping, hiking, and fishing, and is just as likely to cook dinner and clean the house as I am.  I am finally able to be me.  Female, in the role that feel like I fit in.   I define my femaleness.  Just as each woman should have the freedom to do.

In this freedom, I have been studying women's health; mental, physical, and spiritual. I didn't realize that there are so many books on women's well being. In this post I am going to share books, thoughts, and other things female.  I'm in the first half of Women Who Run with the Wolves and Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom.  I use Herbal Healing for Women as a reference guide for different things as they come up.  And finally, I have read Captivating three times.  The first book helps women to understand themselves emotionally and mentally.  So far, it has worked to reveal to me that we really do live in a world where everything has become defined by the male ideal.  It has taught me how to nurture my intuition and trust in myself.  The second and third books listed are about physical health. I haven't begun to delve into specific disorders or illnesses that women suffer from in either of these books, but I am learning about optimum physical health.  This isn't about a size or weight, it is about feeling well.  In the Herbal Healing book are herbal teas, one that I have been drinking regularly is called Female Tonic Tea.  It helps to balance a woman's chemistry.  I consider the last book I listed as a spiritual focus for women.  It is Christian in basic belief system, but it is NOT like other religious books I have read.  This one focuses on the woman as being woman.  I think it is safe to say that most Christian books for women focus on being servile, wives, mothers, or how to be perfect as a single woman to catch the right man.  This does none of those things, but focuses on women as women from a Christian perspective.

What is so important about femaleness?  I know from some of the things I have read and talking to other women that my experiences with gender roles and not measuring up to an ideal of what it means to be female is not a solitary experience.  Dr. Pinkola Estes states, "The modern woman is a blur of activity.  She is pressured to be all things to all people" (1992, p. 4).  This specific statement made so much sense to me. Stasi Eldredge (2005) states much the same about women in Christianity, they are exhausted, shells of what they could be.  Women everywhere suffer from so many things, whether it is a genuine unhappiness, severe depression, debilitating anxiety, or physical ailments that have no logical explanation, there is some type of "problem" that society says needs to be "fixed".  In reality, society needs fixed so that women can feel free to be themselves, define who they are without outside expectations or ideologies.  Dr. Pinkola Estes explains, "A woman's issues of soul cannot be treated by carving her into a more acceptable form as defined by an unconscious culture, nor can she be bent into a more intellectually acceptable shape by those who claim to be the sole bearers of consciousness" (1992, p. 6).  She continues by stating that the only way for women to truly become "well" is to learn about who we are naturally, to retrieve and nurture our inner wild selves.  Her specific way of helping women is to use fairy tales, myths, and folk tales to help uncover these aspects of wild womanhood.

I like the book The Mists of Avalon because it has perfect examples of wild women versus women bound by society and religion.  In Captivating, Eldridge tells us to think about women in books and films that appeal to us.  What do their characters say to us about ourselves, who we want to be, who our inner selves are dying to be?  I love stories of strong women.  I like movies that portray heroines rather than heroes and I like when women fight against all odds to figure things out and strive to live the lives they desire, outside of others expectations.  I love how Terry Goodkind portrays strong protagonist women in his books.  I suggest starting with Magda Searus: The First Confessor to get an idea of what I'm referring to.  I also like how he portrays the character evolvement of a group of women who have been abused and tortured to become fearsome weapons.  They start out as young girls, going through a horrible process to make them into creatures who delight in torturing others and end with finding delight in beautiful things in a way that they were never allowed to.  It is an accurate symbol of how some women feel today, of what society and life experiences have done to them.  All they need is someone to come and show them love and forgiveness, acceptance and understanding, the way the Mord-Sith did in this series.  I like to see women become free from the things that bind them to become the wild and free spirits we were meant to be.

I could write about this for the rest of my blogging career.  As it is, it has taken me several days to fully put into words the things I would like to present.  It has been a difficult post for me because I feel as though the things I am writing here go against the things I was taught in church and school.  I think the gist of this is that we need to come to terms with who we are, without societal and religious ideologies pushed on us.  We need to love ourselves and love one another.  We women can be so judgment of ourselves and other women.  I am the same, if we do not learn to love ourselves and support one another, who will?  This post isn't about female being better than male, or any type of man-hating.  Being male has its own hangups and hardships because of societal and religious ideologies.  But I don't know about the male experience.  I might get one of my brothers to write something about that.  But, I do know about my female experience. I know that I'm meant to be free, that we all are.  I know that this isn't about pay wages and clothing or anything like that.  It is about the deeper sense of self that women have not been allowed to feel or explore.  Fortunately we live in a time that is becoming more open to female-openness.  It is a perfect time for us to discover ourselves, who we are within, and learn to express ourselves openly and honestly.  It is our turn to fight against all odds to figure this thing out.  It is our turn to have the courage to say, "I will only live up to one ideal, and that will be defined by me."  I wish you Light and Love.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Health and Wellness: Regaining Health after a Brief Hiatus

It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to make unhealthy decisions away from home.  This past weekend I went with my mom to visit my brother six hours away.  Due to a series of unfortunate events (I love using that phrase), we ended up having to wake up at 2:00 AM to be there by 8:00 AM.   After a long drive, mom and I had exhaustion overload about mid afternoon.  Even though we tried to make smart food choices by choosing high veggie meals, the junk food was right there, and after that drive, we deserved it.  Right?

THIS was the winner of the night for me.
So, needless to say, after two rainy days and no walking, and a weekend of lots of car-time and no walking, I was feeling overwhelmingly icky.  It is hard to maintain health during difficult and exhausting times.  It was more than the amazing desert.  It was a conglomeration between that, lack of sleep, too much time in the car, lack of exercise, and a break of my routine.  (My home is my sanctuary and too much time away makes me one unbalanced lady.)

When I returned home, my main goal for the next day was to begin to regain balance.  First of all, I mixed up a detox drink that I discovered on Pinterest.  I can't find the original pin, so I am going to relate the recipe here.  (You can follow me on Pinterest to see all things eclectic peanut.)

Detox Drink

2 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp raw honey
1 cinnamon stick
1 or 2 slices of fresh ginger root

I like to put the ginger and cinnamon into an infuser glass, add the ACV and honey and just enough hot water to dissolve the honey to the bottom of the container.  Fill the rest of the glass with water, adding ice if desired.  I like to use this one for a large wide mouth mason or ball canning jar.  I will sip on it until it's gone and refill the glass, using the same cinnamon and ginger.  This drink helps your body get rid of inflammation and "bloat" caused by too many unhealthy carbs and the wrong fats.

The next thing I do to help myself physically and spiritually is to get back on my activity schedule.  I went for my 1.5 mile walk and spent quality time in my yard interacting with nature.  I also cleaned my entire house.  I think this was an activity that helped my state-of-mind most.  When I eat too many sugars, bad carbs, and wrong fats, I get brain-fog and major sinus pressure build up in my head.  I am still learning how to counteract this when I make bad decisions, but one of the things I do is to cut back severely on breads.  I make our bread products, so they are healthier than store-bought, but cutting them out and reintroducing a smaller amount is how I rebalance my diet.  I generally only use honey and don't keep a store of sweets, and we use healthy oils and fats, so this rebalances itself over time.  I also use some essential oils from DoTerra to alleviate the pain and pressure.   I put one drop of peppermint, 2 drops of lavender, and a drop of lemon into my palm and massage onto the base of my skull, behind my ears, and on my temples.  The lavender is a natural antihistamine so it will fight any allergy reactions, peppermint has the same burning-cooling you get from something like BenGay or Icy-Hot (only it comes from nature!), and the lemon adds scent that I find appealing.  The effect on headaches and sinus pressure is immediate.  The effect on my mood is immediate as well.

Bright orange-golden poppies bringing life to the desert.
I've had a week where my focus has been more contemplative than on outward sharing.  When I take time away, I always have to do serious contemplation and recuperation.  This week has been that for me.  It has taken me all week to finish this one post (although I've started another!).  I am feeling appreciative about the new life coming from Spring.  If you follow me on Instagram, you will be able to see all of the beautiful things I appreciate about Spring.  I like to experience the awakening of the birds and the bees, and the blooming of trees and flowers.  We have grass returning to our yard and the cauliflower, radish, lettuce, and spinach have sprouted in the garden.  We are going to grow birdseed this year and have a wide variety of other fruit and vegetables planned.  Spring is a tonic to the soul, it allows us to get out and interact with nature in a way that we haven't since the end of Autumn.  If you have to take long weekends or other types of trips, I encourage you to take time out when you return to look around you and appreciate your living space.  Take part in nature and breathe in her healing.  In all things, work to regain balance and serenity in your home and life to promote your best level of health and wellness.

Light and Love,