Lent: week 2


Guys, I totally cheated some the second half of this week.  I have been eating Whole30 for meals, but I also ate some junk food with friends.  I blame Spring Sing.  ‘Nuff said.

Anyways, I am still going to continue with my Whole30.  I’ve decided to allow myself to use butter for cooking because I feel that it’s healthier than using vegetable oil.  I’m also debating leaving the option open to do some Paleo baking (with nut flours and honey as sweetener) on the weekends, but I’m not sure.  I did it this weekend and I definitely notice that I do feel better when I stick to healthier foods.  However, baking is a huge passion of mine and is something that Calvin and I have really enjoyed doing together, so we’ll see.

I’ve been really surprised this week at how much reflection Lent has prompted.  I mean, I knew the purpose of it was to provoke thought, but I didn’t expect this sort of depth.  I feel like I’ve learned several things about myself this week, including the following:

  • I’m impatient.  This surprised me a little bit because I’ve never really thought of myself as an impatient person.  I’m the oldest of 8 and I work with kids on a daily basis as part of my job, so patience sort of goes with the territory.  However, apparently that’s just something I’ve cultivated in that specific area that doesn’t extend into all parts of my life.  It should NOT be as hard as it is for me to delay gratification and wait a few measly weeks to have sweets.
  •   I’m self-centered.  I don’t mean in the way that I promote my self-interest at the expense of others.  Rather, I’ve realized that I tend to fall into the “I deserve _____” mindset far too often.  I feel like this is a very American phenomenon – we’ve all been quite effectively trained to believe that we should never feel any discomfort.  It’s interesting to me that I learned this in conjunction with food, as I believe that this mindset plays a large part in America’s obesity epidemic.  Instead of being viewed as normal, hunger is viewed as something which must be fixed right away.  This also leads me to my next point.
  • I have a warped relationship with food. Although I’m at a very healthy weight and don’t have an overeating problem, this week has shown me that I don’t have a healthy relationship with food.  I’ve noticed that I tend to link food with happiness and relaxation – if I want to feel happy and relaxed, I feel like I need to eat.  This is a link I’d like to break as I know it will really come back to bite me as I get older.
  • I’m imperfect.  When I think about how difficult it is for me to make some simple changes to my diet for just a short period of time, it really leaves me in awe of Jesus’ example of devotion and self-control throughout his lifetime.  It gives me a newfound respect for what it really meant for him to be subject to all temptations known to man and yet to remain pure.  I mean, he willingly subjected himself to 40 days without ANY food, and then refused to make bread for himself!  That’s some pretty serious determination right there.

Overall, I feel like this has been a good week for me.  Although I didn’t stick to my goals perfectly, deviating actually taught me some valuable lessons.  I learned that I really do feel better when I eat better, and as I listed above, it also provided a lot of food for thought regarding my spiritual growth.  I’m actually looking forwards to getting back on track and feeling better in the coming week!

Lent: Week 1


Well, it’s actually only been half of a week so far, but whatevs.

I started my Whole30 on Wednesday of this week, so today is day 4.  It’s definitely been interesting to have to pay such close attention to what I eat – it’s like a throwback to my early days of being gluten free.  I’ve been at that so long that it’s practically second nature now and I hardly ever even think about it any more, but eating Whole30 compliant involves a whole new level of thought about what I eat.

Overall it’s been going well. The first day I ate a piece of valentine’s candy without even thinking about it, but past that I have been able to stick to the plan.  It’s interesting to me how my first inclination around many types of food (mostly candy) is to pop it in my mouth without a second thought.

My body is having to get used to getting its fuel from healthy sources – I’m definitely having lots of sugar cravings!  Weird confession: I’ve even started a recipe board on Pinterest for all of the things I want to make after Lent is over.  The list is quite extensive.

As for the spiritual aspect of all this, it has definitely given me a pretty big reality check about my perspective on life.  When I realize that the thought of going without cookies or ice cream for 40 days makes me feel like I’m dyyyyyying, I’m reminded of how Jesus went 40 days in the wilderness without ANY food.  It also makes me start thinking about the many people around the globe who subsist on little more than bare necessities, and yet here I am groaning on about a break from my chocolate.  Definitely some food for thought.

Well, that’s my first week. Hopefully by next weekend I’ll be better adjusted to the sugar withdrawals!  I’m interested to see how my taste in food changes as my body detoxes from my major sweet tooth.

Listen to me: you are not unreasonable.

Today, I saw this article posted on Facebook.  It’s a worthwhile read and does a great job of identifying many traits of abusers that may often fly under the radar.  After I read it, I took a look at the comments on the Facebook post and found one that read:

This is a good article in some ways, but I did kind of think unless the guy is Jesus incarnate, he won’t make the cut.

And that makes me sad.

Abusive people are tricky.  They have an uncanny way of imperceptibly shifting your view of what is normal until finally your own version of reality doesn’t match up with real life.  They are exceptionally gifted at making you feel guilty for their actions, and one way they do this is by making their victims feel as though they are being unreasonable by holding to a certain standard of expected behavior.

Listen to me: you are not unreasonable.

It is absolutely reasonable to expect absolutely zero physical violence.  None. Zip. Zilch.  It is not normal for someone to physically harm you in reaction to ANYTHING.  This also includes things that may not hurt but are intended to frighten you, such as refusing to let go of your arm.

It is absolutely reasonable to expect someone to be able to handle any concern you have over their behavior.  Refusal to listen or angry outbursts are not normal or acceptable.

It is absolutely reasonable to expect acceptance of a differing opinion.  Normal people do not feel threatened when someone else’s thoughts are not the same as their thoughts, but for a manipulator, this is a sign that his control is slipping and will trigger frantic scrambling to get you to “come around”.  Don’t come around.  You are entitled to your own opinions.

It is absolutely reasonable to expect someone to be truthful.  Period.

It is absolutely reasonable to expect someone to treat other people with common courtesy.  All other people.

It is absolutely reasonable to expect and insist on respect for any personal boundaries you have set.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

It is absolutely reasonable to expect to be treated as an equal.

It is absolutely reasonable to expect communication without yelling, berating, or belittling.

It is absolutely reasonable to expect someone to own up to and take responsibility for their own actions.

It is absolutely reasonable to expect autonomy over your own self and your actions – including what you eat, drink, wear and do, who you spend time with and where you go, what job you hold, etc.

It is absolutely reasonable to expect someone to deal with any negative fallout resulting from their own actions without shifting the blame or expecting you to come to the rescue.

It is absolutely reasonable to expect someone to take the initiative on any personal change they want to enact without requiring your involvement.

It is absolutely reasonable to expect for your own needs to be given weight and value.

It is absolutely reasonable to expect someone to take no for an answer.

Finally, it is absolutely reasonable to set and adhere to standards of expected behavior in others.

To a healthy person with healthy relationships, all of these seem to be plain common sense.  To someone in an abusive relationship, any of these can seem almost sacrilegious.  They are not.  Please, please take the time to really look over these and let them sink in.  If anything mentioned here makes you uncomfortable, that should be an enormous red flag that somewhere, something is seriously wrong.

You are equal to and have just as many rights as every other person on this planet.  Always remember that.

You are not unreasonable.

Listen to me.

Why I’m Observing Lent

I made a decision a few weeks ago to observe Lent, which begins on February 18th this year. This will be the first time I’ve done so, and I’d like to attempt to blog as a way of journaling through the process. My plan right now is to post a recap at the end of every week.

Since this is my first experience with Lent, I guess it’s pretty obvious that I’m not Catholic.  So why am I choosing to observe Lent this year?  I have several reasons, but first I’d like to talk about reasons that are not a factor in my decision.

Reasons that are NOT why I’m observing Lent:

  • Because I’m Catholic.  I was raised in the Church of Christ and still attend one today, although I don’t feel particularly strongly about identifying with a certain denomination.  Because of this, Lent has never been a part of my religious experience.
  • Because I believe that Christians are called to observe Lent. I do not feel that Lent is a command, but rather that it is a tool which some people may choose to use if they find it helpful for their own spiritual journey.
  • Because I think it will make me holier.  I do not believe that any actions I can do will make me “holier” or more acceptable to God.  In a weird way, you could almost say that this is something I’m doing for myself and not for God, in the sense that I’m doing it for my own spiritual growth and not solely to please him.
  • Because it allows me to share in the suffering of Jesus.  I’ve heard this explanation of Lent before, but I’m not sure if it’s a view held by the who actually observe it or one held by those who don’t understand it.  Either way, I think it’s incredibly degrading to compare your suffering from lack of chocolate to the suffering Jesus felt while being crucified.

Well, now that that’s out of the way, I’d like to discuss why I did decide to observe Lent.  I’ve put a lot of thought into this during the past couple of weeks, and here’s what I’ve come up with.

Reasons why I am observing Lent:

  • Because it’s a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice.  Although I stated above that I do NOT think Lent allows me to share in the suffering of Jesus, I do think it is a great way to turn my mind towards the sacrifice he made.  Every time I think of or desire whatever I’ve chosen to give up, it will be like a little post-it note reminder to think of what he gave up.
  • Because it’s a physical manifestation of a spiritual matter. It seems to me that some people greatly benefit from being able to have concrete physical experiences of God, while others get along perfectly well without.  I think I’m one of the former.  I’m choosing to observe Lent because what is happening with the body mirrors what is happening with the soul. I feel that it will be helpful to me to have a physical expression of the spiritual.
  • Because it’s a useful tool.  This is sort of a re-statement of both the point above and the earlier point about how I don’t believe it’s a command.  I don’t feel that everyone is called to observe Lent because I don’t believe it would benefit everyone in the same way.  For me, I think it will be helpful to have a sort of kinesthetic, hands-on experience.

So what did I decide to give up for Lent?  I’m glad you asked.  Originally, I was leaning towards giving up sweets, because I have a major sweet tooth and end up craving them in some form every day.  However, after a little more thought, I decided to expand on that and do a Whole 30 challenge (only modified for Lent, so it’s actually a Whole 40).  I feel that it’s the perfect thing for me for several reasons:

  • It will require conscious effort at each meal, which will give me ample opportunities for reflection.
  • I like the sort of physical reflection it is for the spiritual: you’re taking careful control of your body and feeding it the same kind of things (whole, pure foods) that you want to feed your soul.
  • In the same vein, you’re removing things like sugar that are pleasant at the time but are not entirely healthy.  This also mirrors an ideal spiritual situation.
  • Finally, it’s something I’ve been interested in doing before, but I’ve never quite had the motivation.  I feel like this is the perfect opportunity to help me stick with it and at the same time receive benefits that I wouldn’t have from trying it at any other time.

Well, there are my thoughts on that.  As I said, I’m hoping to post a recap at the end of every week containing my daily thoughts on how this is affecting me physically and spiritually.  If anyone else is choosing to observe Lent this year, I’d love to hear your experiences as well!

Girls, it’s time to stop dating losers.

But for real though.

I recently overheard a conversation between two of my college-aged peers during which one commiserated to her sympathetic friend about her guy troubles.  Basically, they were a “thing”, but then they broke up, but he says he still loves her and she loves him, but he won’t get back together with her and he keeps changing his mind.  And so then he calls her at 4 AM to pick him up because he’s drunk and they end up sleeping together, but they’re still not really together, you know? Oh yeah, and this has to be kept a secret from all of their friends, who are totally clueless (but not really) about their relationship status.  And she really just doesn’t know what’s going on and it’s so confusing and she wishes he would just make up his mind already.

Sound familiar?

This type story isn’t shocking.  In fact, I’d bet that every girl high-school aged or older has multiple friends or acquaintances who could tell a version of this same story, and that’s if it hasn’t happened to her too.  For some reason, this sort of “relationship” is now viewed as the norm.  No one likes it, as is evidenced by everybody bemoaning complicated relationships to their bestie, but most women seem to see it as an inescapable reality that they’ll have to trudge through if they ever want to find true love.

That’s a lie.

Girls, it’s time to stop dating losers.

Believe it or not, it’s not inevitable.  It’s time to stop accepting the lie we’ve been fed that it’s ok to put up with bad treatment because that’s just how dating works.  I’ve done quite a bit of thinking on this subject lately, and I’d like to offer my thoughts on a few vital points of this issue.

1.  Good relationships start with self respect.

This is true in any area of life, not just in the dating world.  Ladies, your self respect is contagious. As a general rule, no one is going to respect you more than respect yourself.  If you feel that you’re only worth bad or mediocre relationships, they are what you will end up with.  Realize that you have just as much of a right to respect as anyone else, and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and demand it.  You’re worth more than mediocre.  In the words of Christopher Robin: “You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”  Take some time to build your sense of self worth and don’t settle.

2.  All guys are not like that.

photo 2

Me & my guy

I feel that perhaps the most pervasive part of the jerk-dating phenomenon is the belief that “guys are just like that”.  I’m here to tell you that, shockingly enough, men do exist who will value you for more than just a drunken fling.  I’ve been in an amazing relationship with an absolutely wonderful guy for nearly two years now, and having first-hand experience with being loved and respected only makes me see more clearly the contrast between this and the way that many guys use girls.  When it comes to dating, you’ll end up with the kind of guy you’re expecting – so make sure your expectations are high.  There are guys out there looking for girls who care.  Promise.

3.  People will live up to – or down to – your expectations.

This point is really just an extension of the two above.  I’ve mostly heard it used in the context of working with children, but boy, does it ever apply to relationships as well.  If you expect men to treat you with respect and integrity, they will – otherwise, you wouldn’t be spending your time around them.  Conversely, if you expect to be used and objectified, you will allow yourself to be treated in ways that you shouldn’t.  In many ways, relationships are a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy – your preconceived notions about how things should be, even the subconscious ones, will eventually play out.  It pays to re-examine your beliefs and make doubly sure that you are holding the bar high enough.

4.  You don’t need a boyfriend.

Think about this concept.  I know it’s flung around to the point that it sort of goes in one ear and out the other, but take a minute to really think about it.  You don’t need a boyfriend.  In fact, everyone needs some time without a boyfriend.  You need time from a single perspective to figure out who you are and realize that you are a pretty awesome person all on your own.  You need to learn to love and respect yourself so that in the future you are able to hold others to that standard as well.  It sounds counter-intuitive, but before you have a boyfriend, you should be in a place where you are comfortable with not having one.  To have a strong, healthy relationship, you need to be able to love the individual you – and to realize that the person you truly are isn’t in any way affected by your relationship status.

I’m writing this post with the hope that I can help you to realize how much you truly are worth.  I know of so many people who deserve so much better than they are getting and don’t even realize it.  Please, don’t let that be you.  If you need to, take some time off of dating to get to know yourself again.  Learn to love yourself and cultivate a healthy amount of self-worth.  Realize what a perfect and unique creation you are.  As Dr. Seuss says:

“Today you are you; that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is you-er than you.”

Girls, always remember that.  Don’t let anyone treat you like you are anything less than the insanely amazing person that you are.

Because you are worth it.

8 Signs Of A Manipulator (and what to do about it)

yelling

Dealing with manipulative people sucks.

Unfortunately I have loads of personal experience in this area, and it’s not something that’s going to change any time soon.  Even though it’s an aspect of my life that I would change in a heartbeat if I could, I realize that through my own burden I have a chance to help others.  Going through this myself gives me a unique perspective and insights that I would not otherwise have.

I wouldn’t wish a manipulative relationship on anyone, but the harsh reality is that millions of people deal with one every. single. day.  Many of them don’t even realize what’s wrong.  Manipulators are tricky people who are very, very good at covering up their agenda.  However, from my own experience I’ve come up with a list of red flags and warning signs that manipulators give off.  If you feel that there is something even slightly off with a relationship of yours or that of someone you know, please take a look at this list.

You might be with a manipulator if…

1. Agreeing to disagree is never an option.  

Manipulators want to control what you think.  Because of this, it is never alright for you to differ in opinion.  To the manipulator, this is a sign of you slipping out of his control.

2. They re-label their own behavior.  

In my own experience with a manipulative person, he would be yelling at the top of his lungs in an argument and then insist that you were just having a “discussion”.  When recounting their own actions, manipulators will downplay or completely lie about any unacceptable behavior even if they know you witnessed it.  They are masters at making you question your own perceptions.

3. They have a hidden dark side.  

A manipulative person is always charming and charismatic to those who don’t know them well.  It’s a tool of the trade to him. If people could see through the mask, he wouldn’t be able to control them.  Acquaintances would barely believe the stories recounted by those closest to him – which is yet another thing that works in his favor.

4. They always deflect.  

It is impossible to argue with, criticize, or reprimand a manipulator.  Any attempt at commenting on undesirable actions immediately results in the manipulator coming up with something unrelated to criticize you for.  Example: if you say to him “I asked you to fill up the car with gas and you said you would, but it is still empty.  Please do that the next time you are out”, he will quickly return fire with “Well, you NEVER keep the bathrooms clean!”.  This also leads to our next point.

5. It is impossible to stay on topic in an argument.  

Using the last example, you would quickly find yourself in an argument about the state of your bathrooms when all you wanted was for him to put gas in the car.  This tactic is like a double edged sword for a manipulator – it enables him to attack you AND it causes you to quickly forget whatever it is that he did wrong.

6. They do things for shock value.

Manipulators enjoy being able to control the mental and emotional state of others, and an easy way for them to accomplish this is to do or say something shocking.  The most common method used is probably saying something inappropriate (or in an inappropriate setting), but they may also go so far as to stage elaborate “pranks” just to unsettle people.

7. They argue in cycles.

Once I was able to observe an argument from a distance, I could easily see that the manipulator went through a cycle of very distinct phases: first explosive anger, designed to frighten the other person into relenting.  If that didn’t work, next came logic – the manipulator would calm down and attempt to reason out his point of view.  If he still wasn’t getting his way, the next step was crying, complete with false apologies and self-pity.  This could then either be followed by another bout of reasoning, or the cycle could start back at anger again.  What was very unsettling for me to observe, once I realized this, is that it happens the same way every time.  What appears to be a highly emotional affair on the part of the manipulator is, in fact, a carefully calculated routine aimed at getting him exactly what he wants.

8. Finally, they can’t take no for an answer.  

In my opinion, this is the single greatest defining characteristic of manipulators.  Indecently, this also makes it a great litmus test.  Hearing a decisive “no” is the greatest failure a manipulator can experience because it indicates a failure on his part to brainwash you into his point of view.  If you are questioning whether someone in your life may be manipulative, try the “no” test.  It’s exactly like it sounds – next time they want you to do something, simply say no.  Their reaction should tell you everything you need to know.

What to do about it:

Even if you have already determined that someone in your life is manipulative, deciding what to do next is incredibly difficult and can cause a lot of heartache.  From my own long-term experience with a manipulative person, this would be my advice to anyone dealing with this situation.

  • If you are dating this person, break up with them.  Now.  While this may seem like an incredibly harsh solution, the kind of boundaries that need to be set with a manipulative person are not possible within this kind of close relationship.  Additionally, please believe me when I wholeheartedly say that you do not want to tie your future family to a manipulative person forever.  Keep in mind that by its very nature a breakup with a manipulative person will not go smoothly and can easily become abusive (if it isn’t already).  Please, please be very aware, surround yourself with people who will support you, and do not be afraid to get help if you need it.
  • If the person is a friend, it is imperative that you set boundaries ASAP and, more importantly, stand your ground no matter what tricks the manipulator pulls.  Depending on the closeness of your relationship, you may decide to just set a few rules (e.g. “no more borrowing money from me”), put a fair bit of distance between you, or even end the relationship completely.  The important thing to remember here is that the manipulator will not give up without a fight, but when he finally realizes that you won’t be moved, he will likely ditch you and move on to someone who allows him to manipulate them.  Stand your ground no matter what.
  • The most difficult situation is when the manipulator is a family member.  In this instance, you will have to decide whether or not to continue a relationship with this person.  If you choose to continue, you must make it very clear that you will no longer allow yourself to be manipulated or coerced in any way.  I also strongly recommend reading the Boundaries – I honestly believe that this book changed my life!  It very clearly illustrates unacceptable behavior and what to do about it.  If you are choosing to set boundaries and continue a relationship with a manipulative person, this book is a must read.
  • A final word: if there is any other kind of abuse occurring besides manipulation, get out now.  As they are already abusing their privilege of having a relationship with you, manipulators are very prone to other abuse as well.  No matter how hard it is to leave, staying is never worth it.  If you need help leaving, tell someone.  Visit the website for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.  Remember that a manipulator’s goal is to make you feel like you have no options, but that is always a lie.

I sincerely hope this post has been able to help someone who needs it. If you know of anyone who may be dealing with a manipulative relationship, please share this with them and support their decision making process!  Also, if you have experienced any warning signs not listed here, please feel free to share them in the comments.  Spreading awareness is a vital part of aiding those who are the victims in these situations.

9 things only human beings will understand

As you may have noticed, articles on “A number of things that only pertain to a certain subgroup because we all want to feel special” are incredibly popular at the moment.  (See: 17 Problems All Naturally Skinny People Will Understand, 20 Annoying Things Only Fat Girls Understand, 10 Things Only Tall Girls Will Be Able To Understand, 12 Things Only Pale Girls Will Understand, and et cetera into all eternity.) The ironic thing about these articles is that when you boil them down, they are all really just saying the same thing about being human.  While at first glance they all seem to list completely different problems for very different groups, when I looked closer, I noticed that they’re really just different takes on the same problems.  So, for a change, I’d like to present a list that will hopefully help you to see that we aren’t all so different after all.

9 Things Only Human Beings Will Understand

1.  Feeling the need to differentiate yourself.

This is the entire reason behind all of the aforementioned posts (the one that takes the cake for me has to be 10 Struggles Of Being Not Fat, But Not Skinny Either.  Like, seriously?)  Let’s face it: all people want to be loved, valued, and admired as individuals, and many people spend a good part of their life searching for and refining their identity.  None of us want to feel marginalized or “lumped in” with a broad selection of other people, so we seek to publicize all of our quirks and traits.  Don’t get me wrong, owning yourself and being an individual is good.  However, picking at minuscule distinctions gets ridiculous very quickly (see above post) and leads to lots of unnecessary divisions.

2.  Feeling like other people judge your appearance.

Whether you’re thin, fat, tall, pale, or anything else, this is the single most common theme to all articles in this category.  The bottom line is that feeling judged for your appearance is not unique to your particular condition.  Sorry.  Literally (not figuratively) everybody on earth has felt like that.  Every. Single. Person.  It’s not a competition to see who can be the most oppressed. As my mom always says, “Everyone else is too busy worrying about their own shoes to be hating on your shoes.” We’re all insecure, so it’s time to stop pretending we’re the only ones and start helping each other out.

3.  Dealing with rude comments from other people.

Sometimes rude people say rude things.  Yes, it’s lame.  Yes, their mommas should have taught them better.  No, it’s not just because you belong to The Most Marginalized Subgroup On Earth.  (Related: if you are a sayer of rude things to people in the opposite subgroup as you, stop being a jerk.)

4.  Wishing you were different.

Everybody has some aspect that they would change if they could.  It’s a part of life that we just have to learn to embrace and get over.  There will always be someone out there who is smarter, prettier, taller, or more popular than you, but guess what?  They are not you.  Maybe they even wish they were.  In the words of Dr. Seuss: “Today you are you, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is youer than you.”

5.  Dealing with others’ jealousy.

On a related note, everybody has some quality that other people might envy.  Unfortunately, this often leads to shockingly immature and rude behavior on the part of the envy-er.  While dealing with someone like this obviously sucks, remember that they are insecure about themselves and use it as an opportunity to treat them with kindness.  Also, note to self: do not be that person. (See #4)

6.  Dealing with people who have no boundaries.

Boundaries.  Some people don’t got ‘em.  There is no way you will get through life without encountering someone who feels as if they have the license to do or say whatever they want to or about you.  Again, this is not because of your Super Special Subgroup.  Rude people are rude to everyone.  If someone like this is causing legitimate problems in your life, get past them and move on.

7.  Feeling like you are the only one.

You’re not, I promise.

8.  Getting annoyed with mass produced products.

If you’re tall, short, fat, thin, or anything else related to your body, it’s clothing.  If you’re dark, pale, or anything in between, it’s makeup.  You get the picture.  The truth is that mass produced items are made as cheaply and quickly as possible to appeal to the majority, not that someone hates your subgroup.  Personal example:  I’m short and bottom heavy.  All of my pants are too long and have a huge gap at the waist.  However, this does not mean that the government is secretly trying to eliminate short people to raise the average height of American women by 3″.  See my point?  Literally everyone deals with minor annoyances like this.  Wear a belt and move on.

9.  Not being able to do things other people can do.

Newsflash: sometimes other people will have abilities that you don’t have.  Whether that’s eating 400 cookies and still staying slim, being able to pull off a strapless dress, or juggling 17 oranges at once, we all have that one friend who can do it.  However, if you only get one thing out of this entire article, get this: you are not entitled to be able to do something just because someone else does it.  Life isn’t fair.  Everyone has their own unique set of gifts.  Own yours.

Essential Profiles: PanAway

panaway

(Source)

Stats

Name(s): PanAway

Type: Blend

Ingredients: Clove, Helichrysum, Peppermint, Wintergreen

Uses: Pain relief

Price per drop: $0.32

Historical Information

Unlike the other oils I’ve profiled so far, PanAway is a special blend that can only be found with Young Living.  Gary Young, founder of Young Living, created PanAway to provide natural pain relief after sustaining a ligament injury in his leg.  As this is a very “young” blend, there isn’t really any other historical information to provide on PanAway specifically.  However, we can easily research the background of the different oils included in the PanAway blend.

  • Cloves:  Evidence of clove trading has been discovered as far back as the 18th century BC!  Historically, cloves were often used in dentistry as they are a local anesthetic.  Additionally, they have antibacterial and anti-parasitic properties, as well as many others, and were also used for anything from digestive issues to bad breath.
  • Helichrysum: Historically, this flower was used as an anti-inflammatory, as well as for treating wounds, coughs, colds, headaches, and more.  It was viewed by some African tribes as a powerful aphrodisiac and was burned as ritual incense.
  • Peppermint: Here is a previous post I’ve written on Peppermint that includes its history.
  • Wintergreen: This plant has been called “nature’s aspirin”.  Native Americans are said to have brewed the leaves into a tea with which they treated headache, sore throat, and any other aches or pains.

Modern Usage

PanAway was formulated specifically to provide powerful, natural pain relief.  Uses for PanAway include muscle soreness, headache, backache, menstrual cramps, and more!  Some users report that it can help to prevent bruising if applied quickly.  Additionally, PanAway may help to relieve chronic pain associated with arthritis or fibromyalgia. To use, dilute in a carrier oil and apply topically.  Massaging the oil in or using a warm compress may speed and boost effectiveness.

Cautions

These cautions apply to any form of self treatment, including Essential Oils.  Additionally, the following cautions apply to PanAway specifically:

  • PanAway is a very powerful blend and needs to be well diluted before application, especially if used on children.  I would not recommend using PanAway on babies or small children for this reason.
  • Even when diluted, PanAway produces a sensation similar to that of Icy Hot.  Be aware of this and take care not to get it near the eyes.  Additionally, spot testing before a larger application would be a good idea.
  • Most or all of the oils in PanAway (clove and wintergreen in particular) are incredibly potent and can be toxic in small doses.  Do not take this oil internally, and be sure to keep it away from children.  1-2 teaspoons of clove oil can be fatal to a small toddler, and 1 ounce of wintergreen is reportedly equal to over 170 adult aspirin.  Again, be sure to heavily dilute just a drop or two of PanAway prior to application.

Final Thoughts

PanAway can be a great alternative to over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol, Motrin, or Aspirin, especially for individuals who have chronic pain that requires frequent medication, or for those who experience unpleasant side effects from conventional pain relief.  This oil definitely earns its place in Young Living’s Premium Starter Kit and is an asset to any natural medicine cabinet!

If you are new to Essential Oils and/or want more information on getting started, click here!

Essential Profiles: Peppermint Oil

peppermint-4_clipped_rev_2

Stats

Name(s): Peppermint Oil

Type: Single oil

Ingredients:  Peppermint

Uses:  Headache, stomach ache, allergies, sinus pressure

Price per drop:  $0.10

Historical Information

Mint has been values for many centuries, although there is some controversy as to exactly when Peppermint specifically came about.  According to this article,

In Greek mythology, Minthe was a river nymph in the Cocytus River (one of the five rivers of Hades). When Hades was driving his golden chariot, he came upon Minthe and was about to seduce her when his wife Persephone caught them. Persephone then turned Minthe into a lowly mint plant that people would walk upon. Mint supposedly got its pungent, sweet smell when Hades softened the spell so that when people walked upon his lover they would smell her sweetness.

Mint in general is mentioned in texts dating as far back as 1550 BC and is mentioned in the Bible as a valued spice.  Most ancient uses for it center around its use as a relief for issues with the digestive system, although it was also used as a spice and was thought to ward off disease.  Additionally, it was often grown as a ground cover or strewn on floors so that stepping on it would produce a pleasant odor.

Modern Usage

Much like in ancient times, Peppermint Oil today is used most often for digestive issues.  A drop or two may be diluted in a carrier oil and rubbed on the abdomen, or diluted in a capsule or drink and taken internally.  One study indicates that up to 79% of patients with IBS showed a decrease in symptoms when treated with Peppermint Oil.

Peppermint Oil may also be used to treat headache, especially if caused by sinus pressure.  Method for this include diluting it and rubbing on the forehead or temples, smelling some of the oil, or pressing a drop to the roof of the mouth.  Additionally, Peppermint may help with sinus-related allergy issues.  The LLP Protocol, or Lavender, Lemon, and Peppermint, is commonly used to treat allergies among Essential Oil users.  To use this blend, mix equal amounts of each oil in a roller bottle with a carrier oil for topical application, or put 1-2 drops of each in a capsule for internal use.  Many allergy sufferers swear by this remedy as a natural alternative to Benadryl!

Cautions

These cautions apply to any Essential Oil or any other form of self treatment.  Additionally, the following apply specifically to Peppermint Oil:

  • While this oil is fantastic for treating stomach ache, it has been shown to increase heartburn or acid reflux in some patients, so avoid using it for those issues.
  • Peppermint Oil feels very, very cold when applies topically.  For this reason, dilution is recommended.
  • For the above reason, make sure not to get Peppermint Oil in the eyes or nose, on a fresh wound, or on any especially sensitive area.

Final Thoughts

Peppermint Oil is an incredibly handy oil to have around the house, especially for families with children.  It’s a perfect alternative to medication for treating the inevitable sniffles, headaches, and tummy aches!  It also smells really, really good – a great option to diffuse as an air freshener!  I would definitely recommend Peppermint Oil as a foundation to any oil collection.

If you are new to Essential Oils and/or want more information on how to get started, click here!

Essential Profile: Lavender Oil

Young-Living-Lavender

Stats

Name(s): Lavender Oil, Nard, Spikenard

Type: Single oil

Ingredients: Lavender

Uses: Skin care and moisturizer, healing of burns/scrapes/scars, relaxation/sleep

Price per drop: $0.11

Historical Information

Lavender has a history that dates back several thousand years.  In ancient times it was called Nard or Spikenard and is mentioned in the Bible under that name.  Historically, Lavender had many different uses.  In ancient Rome, it was used to scent baths for the rich and sold for a month’s wages per pound, in addition to being a perfume, insect repellant, and seasoning.  Greeks used crushed Lavender for relaxation and also touted it widely as a miracle cure for many varied ailments.  In Egypt, it was used for perfume or mummification.  In medieval times, Lavender was used for deodorizing and disinfecting, especially during the time of the Black Death, and was often sewn into a little sack and placed in a dresser to scent clothing and linens.  Finally, Cleopatra is rumored to have used Lavender to seduce Mark Antony and Julius Caesar.

Modern Usage

Obviously Lavender has a rich past, but the present more than keeps up with it.   Young Living calls it “the most versatile of all Essential Oils”, which is no small feat!  Lavender oil can be diffused, ingested, and applied topically with or without dilution.  It is commonly used for the following:

  • relaxation
  • scent
  • burns
  • cuts
  • scrapes
  • acne
  • moisturizer
  • insect repellant
  • scar treatment
  • stomach pain
  • allergies
  • aromatherapy
  • hair loss
  • headache
  • joint pain
  • deodorant

And much more!  If that isn’t exhaustive enough for you, take a peek at this extensive list of 50 uses for Lavender Oil.

Cautions

Lavender is considered one of the safest essential oils.  However, these cautions apply not to Lavender in particular but to self-treatment and Essential Oils in general.  Additionally, a 2007 study claims that Lavender Oil is estrogenic and can cause breast development in prepubescent boys.  However, since the time of the article I just linked to, many strong rebuttals have come out (see here and here for examples).  I personally feel that the rebuttals appear stronger than the original argument, but please do your own research and come to your own conclusions!

Final Thoughts

Lavender Oil is a personal favorite of mine due to its extreme usefulness and versatility, not to mention the amazing smell!  If I could only have one Essential Oil, I think this would be it – and in fact, back when my mom still believed that Essential Oils were voodoo, Lavender Oil was the only oil we owned!  If you are at all interested in Essential Oils and don’t yet own Lavender Oil, that needs to be fixed immediately.  Right now.  Today.

So, what are you waiting for?

If you are new to Essential Oils and/or want more information on getting started, click here!