VidyEssence

Which carrier oil should I use?

Posted by in aromatherapy, Essential oil

 

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There are are a  lot of different oils you could use as a carrier and it can be overwhelming to choose one. We are in a world of details and oftentimes too much information is not good! So for once, let’s make a simple decision without feeling guilty about it. Use fractionated coconut oil, period. Let’s explore why.

The not too scientific explanation:

All carrier oils consist of a class of molecules called fatty acid triglycerides. Most all plant derived carrier oils consist entirely of what are called “unsaturated” fatty acid triglycerides. These, which consist of unsaturated fatty acid, can lead to oxidation over time and their reactions with oxygen are what produce the rancid odor that you may have noticed in your carrier oils when they get a few months old.

Coconut has some molecular composition differentiation which make it not rancid! The process is very simple.  A different type of fatty acid triglycerides in coconut oil is separated from the whole coconut oil to give us what is known as “Fractionated Coconut Oil.” The separation process is non-chemical and involves a simple physical separation process so there are no chemical residues to worry about.

Multiple uses:

Fractionated coconut oil has an indefinite shelf life and is a light, non-greasy, non-staining, liquid oil. It is great for use in massage, toiletries and soap. Fractionated coconut oil is a very good choice for use with essential oils, as it helps carry therapeutic oils under the skin. Fractionated coconut oil can be used in creams, lotions, bath oils, bath salts and soap. Fractionated coconut oil is especially useful in face creams where a light oil is desired. It is a good substitute for sweet almond oil if you are concerned about rancidity or a short shelf life.

Benefits:

As you can see one will gain a lot by using fractionated coconut oil as it has all these Characteristics, Advantages and Benefits:

Characteristics Advantages Benefits
Safe separation process No chemical residues Safe for all

No extra toxic load on your body

Coconut oil has a different molecular structure than other plant base carrier oils Does not go rancid Unlimited shelf life! Economical
Dry oil Absorb quickly Leave your skin without a  greasy film
Light, Easy to blend when using in DIY recipes.

Does not feel heavy on your skin, not leaving residues.

Save time and hassle

No greasy feeling

Vegetable based oil Non clogging Suitable for all skin type

Now you know you have found a great carrier that will be beneficial to your skin and will not go bad. It is a smart and wise choice to have it handy for you next essential oil use or to make your own skin pampering products!

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Potency and dilution: when too much of a good thing is not necessarily what is required.

Posted by in Self-Care

 

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I remember when I started sharing about the wonderful properties and support of therapeutic grade essential oils, some people would say to me they are too expensive! Well, your body is YOUR temple and you only have one so take care of it, as one of my friends always say. 

You pay for what you get. If you are not educating yourself and learning how to read labels, you could end up using something that is more harmful than helpful. Lots of essential oils offered on the market are using carrier oils which is what we can adulteration, that is adding or removing form the original state. Furthermore, a huge percentage of essential oils are not tested for purity and potency.  This is scary to me. We talked about this in my latest post.

What really made a difference for me when I decided to use essential oils as a lifestyle and preventative health option was not only the fact that they are more potent than herbs.  It was also the understanding behind their making. The art and science behind essential oil production is also as important when it comes to potency and efficacy of the product.

Distillation process

Therapeutic-grade essential oils  are most often extracted via a low-heat steam distillation process in which steam is circulated under pressure through plant material liberating the essential oils into the steam. As the steam mixture cools, the water and oils naturally separate and the oil is collected in its pure form. To ensure the highest quality oil extract of correct chemical composition, temperature and pressure must be monitored very closely. Too little heat and pressure will not release valuable oil while too much can change an extract’s composition and potency. Steam distillation is not the only method of extraction. Some oils such as citrus oils are extracted through a process of compression in which the oil is squeezed from the plant using the rind.

Plant origin, cultivation and harvest

Where a plant is grown has a major impact on its constitution, which in turn determines its potency. Using local artisans who have grown the source plants for generations ensures that the plants are not only properly cared for, but also grown in an environment that maximizes the essential oils’ potential. Nowadays, it seems like everything needs to be done quickly  and quality, in this matter, can be overseen. We need to go back to a slower mode of life and honor what Nature is trying to teach us. Everything will comes in due time. We need, like many cultures in countries that are by us westerners called ”in development”,  have a vision of time as a value,  that is, time not seen as wasted by trying to get things done faster, but more value as to make and take the time to do things right. Trusting the process of life is intrinsic there.

As important as the carefully controlled extraction process is, the careful selection of the correct plant and plant parts harvested at the right time is also required for a successful extraction. This complex process is as much art form as it is science and requires experienced growers and distillers working together to ensure a quality product. Growers have discovered over generations proper harvesting secrets that increase yield and quality of the essential oil. This information is an added value to a product that will differ positively on potency and quality. Not only are we helping communities around the world to make a decent living but we are also ensuring a future for themselves their families and for the plant material as there is a sustainable process involved.

Dilution

I remember the look on people’s face when I was telling them: ‘’no, you do not need to use carrier oil with most of these!’’ They are safe enough to use neat, except for  a few oils that are too hot like oregano, and thyme. People with sensitive skin or children need more caution and oils such as peppermint can be too much to handle without adding a carrier.

Dilution is a great tool though when it is time to apply an essential oil to a greater area. But there are more benefits to diluting oils than one may think of.  This article is a great short read if you want to know more about the science behind dilution.

What you need to know for safety uses is that essential oil (EO) are lipophilic, meaning they are attracted to and are soluble in fatty substances. They are not soluble in water! DO not forget this. So if you accidentally rub your eyes with oils (been there done that!) or realized you feel a tingling or burning sensation reach out to oil not water.

The most interesting fact though is that by diluting essential oils in a carrier before applying  actually accentuates this property, providing a number of benefits. One of them is not only safe and effective but can be economical: Dilution requires you use less oil for the same effect.

I would still not recommend you to buy a cheaper brand with a carrier mixed in, as sometimes you want the undiluted oil. There is also the issue of carrier oils being used not being highly recommend as some are of poor quality and can actually add to your toxic load. When you want to use them for internal use the purity an unaldutterared qualities of it cannot be denied. You are better off diluting when you want it as this way you have control over the carrier you use.

Ratio

Dilution varies according to the reason of uses or person involved. As an example, when I applying a digestive blend to my stomach to eliminate temporary upset or bloating, I will put 2-3 drops of oil in the palm of my hands and add enough carrier oil to spread it out on the desired area.

  • When applying EO to infant use 1-3 drops to one tablespoon (15 ml) and for children age 2-5, use 1-3 drops to one teaspoon (5ml).
  • If dilution is for massaging a larger area, dilute the oil to a ratio of 15% to 30% with a carrier, preferably fractionated coconut oil.
  • In order to create a pleasurable massage blend for adult, 3-10 drops to one teaspoon makes it wonderful.

One note on efficacy:  When it comes to topical use, layering oil on top of other rather than blending makes it more performant. There is no need to wait more than a few seconds between each oil application.
In retrospect there are a few things we must learn and know in order to make the best of our essential oil use, but once it is known, we are reaping more benefit!

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Essential oil 101: Safety First, part 1 (quality and dosage)

Posted by in aromatherapy, Essential oil, Health

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When I started using essential oils and educating others on the subject, these questions would come often: What, when, how and how much? There is not one simple answer as there are many variables in play but here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when you want to feel safe about essential oil use.

Quality is first about purity!

When it comes to safety there are numerous factors one has to keep in mind. The first one has to do with quality. Knowing how to find the highest quality oils can be a real game changer is you are concerned with toxicity levels.

 

Synthetic:

There are many different quality of essential oils found on the market today and most of the essential oils we find are synthetically made. Like a wine connoisseur one expert nose knows when an oil is synthetic. So if using these essential oils you will surely have a fragrance to it but do not look for the health benefit there. In fact, you are better off using nothing than using these. I suggest everyone avoid ALL products with the ingredient “fragrance” on the label. This should be your first no-no on your list. I will dive more into this subject at some point but to let’s get back on track here.

Synthetic fragrance ingredients (this term often involves at least 14 ingredients disguised as a ‘’secret formula’’) is similar to a synthetic fragrant essential oil. Synthetic fragrance oils are primarily made from petrochemicals and attempt to duplicate the smell of a specific plant. By dismantling the unique chemical compound of an essential oil, chemists re-assemble a “Frankenstein” fragrance. A 1986 report by the National Academy of Sciences reports that 95 percent of the chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum and include benzene derivatives, aldehydes and many other known toxins and synthesizers capable of causing cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions. Enough to make you look for healthier alternatives, right?

 

Pure and/or natural:

Did you know that these two words are deceptive in nature because they are not regulated by any industries? Any manufacturer can use these words without having to prove anything when it comes to ingredients lists, traceability etc. This applies to essential oils too. If you cannot read the label with confidence stay away!

 

Food grade essential oil:

Have you ever thought about this? Some people are afraid to use essential oils internally and they do not know they use them all the time in food already made for them….Interesting fact isn’t it? Some essential oils are approved as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) so they can be used in food. I am not sure though if this does mean you are dealing with natural or organic quality here.

 

Organic:

When you are buying organic essential oil you are getting higher quality as there are certain standards to meet when a company is certified organic. The only thing that cannot be sure is whether you are dealing with heavy metal and pesticide residue. Organic practices garanty a process not an end result. This was not a concern for me in the past until I understood that. We need to remember that because essential oils are able to cross the blood brain barrier, there is more concern when you think about substances that can harm you such as these mentioned above. This is where now Organic is not a high enough standard for me anymore.

 

Therapeutic grade essential oils:

These are what you can find as in the purest form of all. Still,  there there is no industry standard yet, but companies voluntarily added some great rigidity to their standards to assure us we have a product of the highest quality. When you have a battery of test like this, it is reassuring:

  • Organoleptic testing
  • Microbial testing
  • Gas chromatography
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (FTIR)
  • Chirality testing
  • Isotopic analysis
  • Heavy metal testing

 

When you know what what you are applying on your skin contains no GMOs, no pesticides, no heavy metals nor chemical residues, it feels good. As a mother, I do not want to expose my children to contaminants; I want to avoid them! When something is able to penetrate the cell’s membrane I only want what is best!

 

 

Dosage

With essential oils a little goes a long way. The potency compared to herbs is about 50-70% more so you can understand that you do not need to ingest or apply a quarter of a bottle to experience some results.  A few drops is enough! Isn’t it wonderful?

 

When we look at dosage we need to think about  dosage per use as well as maximum dosage per day. Dosage will vary depending if you are an adult or a child. There are also some extra precautions to take with pregnancy, breastfeeding, babies and toddlers. This will be addressed in an upcoming post.

Last but not least it also depends on the modality used. Topical, or aromatic? Internal or oral use? In terms of internal use not all agree, but I would suggest you to first assess how you feel about internal use and also to follow the manufacturer’s information on the label. Most essential oils are not pure. They are diluted to make them more economical. Hence the reason why you see so many brands warning you not to use internally! Some of these carrier oils are nasty! Beware! Companies are not forced by law to disclose all their ingredients so you never know what you get if you buy oils diluted in a carrier.

So how do you know what is best? This chart is a replica from what I have learned at an essential oil convention.

 

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You can also learn more by reading this article.

There is always a chance of fear when trying something new for the first time but dealing with essential oil is less complicated than it seems. And the benefits outweigh it all! If you have any questions or subject you are wanting to know more about let me know at mj@vidyessence.com Next week we will be covering potency in more depth, the benefit of dilutions and some ratios.

 

 

 

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What is an essential oil?

Posted by in Self-Care

 

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If you have ever enjoyed the scent of a peppermint leaf or the zest of an orange  you’ve experienced the aromatic qualities of essential oils. In addition to giving plants their distinctive smells, essential oils protect plants and play a role in plant pollination.

These naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds are found in the different parts of plants: seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, leaves, fruits.  

These constituents can be affected by a vast number of variables which then influence the quality, purity and potency of essential oils  extracted: soil condition, climate, type of fertilizer, geographic region, altitude, harvesting season, time of day and method, and distillation process.  This is what distinguishes therapeutic grade oils from others. After harvest, plants are placed in a large container. They are gently and skillfully steamed and the aromatic oils are liberated with the steam. As the mixtures cools, separation occurs and the oil is extracted from the water. Essential oils should be unadulterated which means not altered in any way.  Nothing should be removed or added to them: it is best to keep them as Nature intended.     

Benefits

There are many uses to essential oils! Because each essential oil is made of a great number of constituents, they have multiple functions. This is why the same oil that can help you support your immune system can be used to support your liver, clean your windows and remove grease!

What is really amazing is to think about how potent they are: 50 to 70 times more potent than herbs! So even though this is all natural, a little goes a long way. If you think that one drop of peppermint essential oil is the equivalent of 28 cups of peppermint tea, you understand that more is not always better.  

Their shelf life is also longer than most products. Historically a lot of cultures enjoyed using essential oils for their spiritual rituals and for aesthetics purposes. Egyptians paved the way to Greeks and other cultures.  Essential oils had a practical and medicinal value to the Egyptians. Because of their valuable properties, many essential oils were used in embalming practices. Oils were also buried with the body so the spirits in the afterlife could enjoy their perfumes and medicines. Different types of bottles were found in tombs that contained the remnants of essential oils that still had their scent as well as their healing qualities.

Effectiveness is something that most of us nowadays can wish for. Essential oils’  chemical constituents are absorbed in the body within 20 minutes  of application. This is why repetition is key when it comes to using essential oils. No need for massive doses.

Aroma: One of my favorite pleasant benefits is this one: they smell amazingly good! Of course there are always some that have a stronger scent but in general they have an attractive aroma. If you haven’t realized yet, the sense of smell plays an important role in our lives. The aroma can trigger memories and play a role in emotions and mood.This  is why the diffuser is used daily in our housesometimes more than once a day. Everyone coming into our house for the first time says: It smells so good in here!
There are more benefit to them and we will explore more as we go along with this series of posts. Next week is all about safety. The do’s and don’ts will be explained to you. Leave your questions and comments below and I will be glad to connect with you!

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Essential oil 101:   Different type of uses

Posted by in Essential oil, Health, Self-Care

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Essential oil 101:   Different type of uses

When it comes to using essential oils it is important to know that there is more to it than what we are used to hearing about when referring to aromatherapy. There are four distinct ways to incorporate essential oils in your life:

Aromatically:

Our sense of smell influences many physical pathways including the stimulations of hormones and other metabolic processes. Diffusing essentials oils can purify air of unwanted odors and environmental threats.

Use aromatically to :

  • Uplift mood
  • Open airways
  • Cleanse the environment

 

Topically:

Essential oils are easily absorbed into the bloodstream via the skin for internal benefit throughout the body within 30 seconds of application

Apply directly to skin for systemic and localized effects:

  • Massage and as a relief of occasional muscular pain after exercise
  • Immediate comfort such as soothing occasional  digestive upset, or reducing tension in the head and neck.
  • Support healthy immune system function

 

Internally:

Some essential oils can be used as dietary supplements to support a variety of health conditions. Internal use refers to taking essential oils in a capsule or a softgel form.

  • Digestive system
  • Liver
  • Urinary tract
  • Immune system support

 

Orally:

Oral use refers to essential oils taken in water or other liquid, or under the tongue. According to a well known essential oil company, oral use is not recommended for children. Mine have taken  essential oils orally since the age of 6 years old in small amounts with no negative incidence. As a parent, I suggest you do your research and make your own judgment about what feels safe for your family.

  • Support the digestive tract in its function
  • Promote oral health
  • Alleviate mild throat discomfort due to seasonal or environmental threats.

Remember that some essential oils should not be taken orally or internally and dilution is needed  for people with sensitive skin, children and when dealing with what is considered hot oils.  More on safety and essential oils in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned!

 

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One reason why working hard is not THE recipe to success and fulfillment

Posted by in Health, Life' spurpose, Self-Care

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Before telling you what the secret ingredient is, we need to define the end results we are working on: success and fulfillment. I don’t perceive success as being rich and famous even though one can aspire to this. I see it more as this simple definition: The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.  Maya Angelou has a definition along those lines too: “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” This definition answers the questions who, what and how.

To me fulfillment can be part of success. It is the part that is more internal. Success might be viewed more as what people perceive or see, even though this is not what I see as success. Fulfilment is defined as: “Satisfaction or happiness as a result of fully developing one’s abilities or character.”

Have you ever heard people talking about working hard? It seems like this rhetoric is often present when it comes to succeeding. Others says it is not about working hard but rather working smart. And when working smart is mentioned, mostly is it about time management. This is where you learn to create processes so you don’t waste your time being busy on the wrong tasks. I think working smart and hard are both needed to  become successful. We won’t argue here.

Other than working hard, and smart, there is one crucial ingredient that needs to be present to make the success and fulfillment recipe taste oh so good. This one is the one that matters to me most. Why? Because I went through the process of working hard, and sometimes smart, and finding neither success nor fulfillment.  I cannot stress enough how I love helping others avoid this same life experience which partly cost me my health. I wish I knew now what I had to learn the hard way.

It doesn’t matter how hard and smart you work; you won’t feel successful unless you are working on the right thing. Yes, this may sound simple, but it is not always the case. I consider myself intelligent and I fell into the trap of wanting success at the wrong place and for the wrong reasons.

However we define success, we need not to hide our deepest fear when looking for it. When we are not facing our fears, they become part of the equation. This is when we  tend to make decisions that are not in our best interest. We talked about this before; it is either fear or love. So if fear is there, love is not. To truly succeed one must do something well that one loves.

For the longest time, I have known what I want out of my life. I have this calling inside and as I grow more and experience life, it gets clearer and more specific. Even so, I did many different things before really starting to act upon this life purpose of mine. Part of me thinks I wasted precious time and part of me also accepts that everything happens for a reason and without all the other experiences I would not be exactly who I am today. There is a fine line between fatality and acceptance. I choose the latter.

I was born in a middle class family and maybe I should say lower middle class. It never felt we are missing out on anything but but my parents worked hard to put bread and butter on the table. When both of them lost their jobs the same year, at an age where they were closer to retirement than anything else, we had it hard. So I learned all too well not to overspend; this was survival.

Also having a parent who tended to see the glass half empty, I developed an aversion to failure. Because my mother was looking through her lens, she could only doubt I would succeed even though deep down she totally believed in me.

Failure was then defined as letting fear interfere into our dreams or aspirations. Not trying because we might fail was not an option. I developed a lot of character early on. Perseverance too. When  someone would think something was impossible for me to accomplish I set my mind to prove them wrong. I also did not want to end up like my parents, struggling financially to make ends meet. Hence, part of me focused a lot on being able to break the mold.

This is why I aspired to a six figure income but always tried making it doing something I did not fully like or embrace. It was as if I had to be on some specific career paths to earn an income; as if living the calling would not be able to get me there. This story repeated itself for almost a decade, and another one went by in between as I stayed at home with my children.

My last attempt occurred when I was finally able to legally work in the States. I went on and invested myself totally into a path that was really promising in terms of income but I did it so I could then use this income in order to build my dream. I also did it in a way that was mimicking what others had done to succeed. This was in complete defiance of my core values. I knew it and tried so many times to change the way I was working my business, in vain.

In retrospect of course it was not meant to succeed. Going back to Maya Angelou’s definition of success, I was all at the wrong place: not liking myself because I was not doing something I loved and not liking how I was doing it either. WRONG RECIPE!!! I have made multiple decisions for the wrong reasons and ended up neglecting my health and my family life in doing so.  Needless to say, I did not make the fortune I had envisioned. For me, doing the right thing and doing it the way I feel good about is  crucial.

When I realized that I was not fully in integrity at work because I was not aligned with my dreams or values, I started to really get introspective. There was no more joy in my life. Living a false reality lying to myself meant I was lying to others too. From the moment I realised I was not living in Joy, and the moment it all clicked, two years went by.

This is also when I came to this conclusion: All the money invested in business development would have been a really great start up amount to really live my life purpose and build my dream. So yes, I could have started right away with building my dream! “Build it and they will come” is the phrase I remember from the Field of dreams movie. Why didn’t I listen to it for my own life?

I had to go this deep into this lie to become so sure now about what is worth spending my resources on and what is not. The more I know what my path is and how I will set myself to walk on it, the more I set boundaries so nothing nor anyone will get in my way. This is now a matter of health, sanity and mere self realization.

The first and foremost ingredient to success is to know what you are here on this earth, in this life, to accomplish. Then you can work hard, smart and put all your passion in it. But unless you know your calling or purpose, all the effort in the world will not matter as you are walking someone else’s path, not yours.

I am learning a little bit more everyday what my calling is and how I am getting closer to it is by  doing one thing, taking at least one action everyday towards it. This is all I know. I do not set goals like I used to. I respect the path itself, not setting too hard of a timeline even though I have deadlines to get some actions items done. I have learned that I now need to experiment letting the calling call me on what matters each and everyday. When I meditate I ask the same question: ‘’What do I need to do to serve today?”

I let inspiration and serendipity be part of my life. Sometimes I get off course with what I had decided to do. I sometimes wonder if this is the right way to do it. This is the experimentation phase. At this moment in my life, I need to learn to let go of a set rules, of achievement, and just live the present moment and be content with it. This is part of my journey.
Living according to our value leads us to better Self-Care. And we need better Self-Care in order to achieve our life’s purpose. This is hard work and we need to refill our cups to give back every single day and serve more. Once we understand success is also defined by  living on purpose and that in order to sustain living on purpose, Self-Care is part of the equation as well, we are on the real path to success: liking ourselves, what we do and how we do it.

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Microcosm and Macrocosm of our lives

Posted by in Self-Care

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… or  how we live as individual ripples out to the world and vice-versa

“So, my humble advice to environmentalists would be to demonstrate and explain that altruism is the only concept that can reconcile the needs of the economy in the short term, quality of life in the midterm and the environment in the long term.”

-Matthieu Ricard, Buddhist monk, photographer and author

I know, I know… environmental wellness, you think it will be about what you can do for the environment, don’t you? As if you have not heard enough about GMO’s, climate change, pollution before… You are partially right, this is part of wellness, whether you think of it this way or not.  I strongly believe that one of the messages I need to carry out in this world is to be one with all that is and it manifests itself also by taking care of our environment. Tell me, who does not benefit from clean air, unpolluted rivers and organic food?

So to keep our Self-Care blog post tradition, here are the signs of environmental wellness often found when doing online research:

  • Being aware of the limits of the earth’s natural resources.
  • Conserving energy (i.e. shutting off unused lights).
  • Recycling paper, cans, and glass as much as possible.
  • Composting or vermicomposting food scraps.
  • Enjoying and appreciating time outside in natural settings
  • Not polluting the air, water or earth.
  • Creating first and foremost an inner environment in accordance with your values on all aspects of your health.

  • Creating home and work environments that are supportive and nurturing

I added one, and of course you get it by now, I will spend most of my virtual ink talking about those in bold. But first let me get one thing out of the way. It took me a while to realize what I will share with you in the next few lines so I hope you can spare yourself a few years and act on love.

Trying to inspire people from fear and or guilt perspective does not work. We can get  short term results or actions which oftentimes end up being done with the wrong motives in mind. Worst is that  there is nothing sustainable about this. “When you want people to engage in what you believe in, you will have better results when you inspire them. By focusing on the potential positive and affirming impacts our gestures have on ourselves, others and the environment, we are more likely to stay the course. This is what wellness is all about! Basing our decisions on the fear of what may happen is not a truthful solution, and makes us vibrate at a lower level. This fear is deeply rooted in our culture and there is a good reason for that: To immobilize us! I am here to inspire you to be empowered so you can ditch the fear and bring in the love! If we want to do a green act of kindness  we might as well do it for no other reason than because we love this blue planet.

Enjoying and appreciating time outside in natural settings

Do you have a favorite place in nature you always go back to? Or a sacred place that reminds you of your childhood? Nature makes us feel more connected, more free. I find a profound  calming effect to my nervous system when I am in nature.

In his book The Nature Principle, Richard Louv explores the healing properties  of the great outdoors. There is an entire section referring to mental and physical benefits observed from hanging out in nature, even research and studies proving its beneficial effect on us, which Louv has named Vitamin N. Oftentimes as we become adults we tend to think that we need to stop playing outdoors, like this is something only beneficial to children. How to solve this?

There are many ways and sometimes we do not need to look very far. In the last few weeks, I have put an extra item on our agenda for the entire family as we come back from school: Spend 15 minutes outside in nature. We also changed our farm animal feeding routines to that time as it eases our morning departure and gives us an extra reason not to skip going outside  later in the day. I may not follow this routine every day, but we have created a new awareness. In fact, most of the time, we all get caught up spending more than the mandatory time outside because we are having so much fun!

I personally think the disconnection from nature has lead to our personal dis-connection to our own nature as well. Both are interconnected and we have forgotten.

A few years ago in a blog, I described how it was easy to view the environment as something apart, separate, like this thing out there we needed to protect for future generations, or that place we went to  during weekend hikes. The environment is right where you are. It is a simple as that. I see multiple environments intermingling.

The first one is our temple. It is not only the body our spirit  lives in. The temple  encompasses the four sides of who we are: body, mind, heart and soul.  I won’t go into details here as we talked about these aspects of self-care in previous posts. You can refer to the hyperlinks above to remind yourself what we talked about.

Clover-EN

The second, I like to call hearth as it describes the (warm) environment we are living in. This is what makes the difference between a house and a home. It inevitably includes environmental health but this is not all. It is about creating a mindful home, a sanctuary, one where there is space and pace, where we can feel safe being who we are and where we can live in total harmony. Ideally to me this is a pure place where we strive to remove all toxicitythe ones we breathe, absorb or ingest and also the ones we may harbor in our inner environment through our thoughts, words and actions.This is reflected in the way we live and what our hearth looks like. There, we can have the most profound impact on others as we are modeling daily in this place we call hearth. If you are a parent you know what I mean.

The third is carried on by itself. It is called Oikos. This word is derived from the ancient Greek. It means home and is often associated with ecology. In Environmental Education, Oikos means our planet, our community. This is the biggest picture, the all encompassing ”environment”.

Creating first and foremost an inner environment in accordance with your values on all aspect of your health.

This refers big time to the temple environment I just described. I will go in depth in future posts as one paragraph really won’t cover it. However just think about this analogy. When you are driving your car and the empty tank light comes on, chances are you will soon take care of it. You know you will run out of fuel and this means big trouble. You won’t be able to go anywhere without tending to the message on the dashboard. We must do the same with our temple and all of its facets. I had neglected some parts of my life and now I pay the price with my health. I am slowly but surely returning to a state of balance. And because I have done some emotional neglect, physical neglect kicked in as a distraction. I did not look at the real deep issues. Dealing with all of this at once now makes it even harder to come back up on my feet. Don’t wait until you get a diagnosis you would rather not have. Tend to your inner light and do not neglect the ones flashing at you on the dashboard of happiness.

When we are making transformations (some we may qualify good, some bad, but hopefully we are making more positive ones) in our lives, it has tremendous ripples around us. It starts first in our family and circle of friends, then larger community, such as work or other organizations we are a part of.  In time, we may find that one single change ripples globally and creates a cultural movement.

So it matters a lot to work on our own terrain. When we have fertile soil, we are growing and creating positive changes not only for ourselves, but others too. One of the best ways to impact this world positively and make it a better environment to live in, is to listen to our calling and act on it. I will talk more about life purpose in future posts, but let’s say one thing and if this is the only idea you‘ll always remember from reading me, let this be the one:  

There is only you with this specific  purpose or mandate in the entire world. If you are not paying attention to your calling, if you are not jumping in it with all your heart, then there will be some people who needed you that won’t be served. Because everyone has something valuable to share and help others with.

What is most important to me is to inspire you to find your soul purpose and act on it in a way that not only does not harm the Earth and its inhabitants but rather in a manner that nurtures nature.

Creating home and work environments that are supportive and nurturing

As you tend to your own garden or temple, live according to your values and act upon creating the life you are meant to live by diving in on your life purpose, things will naturally shift for you and affect others around you as well. Habits will be changed, boundaries will be set, conversations will be created around the transformation occurring. Changing ourselves is by far the best way to inspire and lead others. This is where you will say no to sugar or fast food, yes to safer skin care, and using nature remedies as your ally to your overall health, and so much more! This is hopefully where you will also notice the clutter, toxic energy, bad relationships that are polluting your home and work environment. And do something about it. This will create waves of change in your surroundings whether this was your goal or not. People will look at you and will wonder: “Why have I not tried this before?” And this is how we create movements and cultural shifts.This is how we change the world, by changing our world.

So now, today make one slight beneficial change towards greater environmental health, even if this is just parking a little further away to walk and breathe some fresh air. Observe how you feel and if other people take on the challenge with you. Share your act of Self-Care with us here so we can all b encouraged to do more!

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Thermography 6 months breast wellness check results and comp

Posted by in Self-Care

 

 

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The real deal! YEP I almost forgot about it this week. And last week I could not keep my mind off of it….

I had to take the time to digest it all before sharing. Now I am back on track with another level of commitment to put into place to get this thing- aka my health- under committed surveillance and more dedicated actions and habits. Like it should be. So no, no BIG bad news, but I thought things would have improved faster. Patience, a little voice said to me. And perseverance! The former I have some of the time, the later I have it always to the dismay of my family members at times!

I saw the pictures right after they were taken. Renee pulled the previous picture to make a comparison. (see image below). The results looked great as I saw way more blue and green and thought to myself: “Wow I am in a good direction here!” I forgot that there is more to the results than the color. It is more complex than it seems…

thermography1-2 comparison

 

When you get your picture done they are sent to a doctor to measure temperature discrepancy between the two breasts and probably more than I can explain. Cancer does not develop symmetrically. Hence, when there is a difference from one side to the other it is sending a sign that we should pay attention more. There is also the hormonal grade for estrogen activity.

So one week later I received an email with the doctor evaluation in attachment. Renee’s personal note is something really comforting, not like you would get from the hospital papers.
Here is what Renee’s personal message said to me:
“I hope you’re not discouraged! Sometimes we see what can be described as “stirring the soup” – in other words, when someone makes significant lifestyle changes, we see temperatures can fluctuate before they stabilize. You have improved many aspects of your emotional life, and that has a profound effect on your mind and body, whether it shows up in your breasts immediately or not!
Just keep up the good work!”

When I saw this part of the report I got discouraged….I was stable. STABLE?!  Estrogen activity and thermal result risk rating are the same. Some breasts area have lower temperature difference and some have higher temperature difference compared to the first results. On one area, I am now over the normal range, it sounded alarming to me, 1.42 degree C, the normal range being between 0.00-1.00 degree C.

 

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I thought I had done somewhat of a huge emotional change, I am still in the middle of it. And I  am stable?? I  knew the anger was not helping my inflammation level at this very moment.

Then I was so sad. I sobbed most of the next day. I know myself well enough to see that this was the necessary step I needed to grief the fact that I still have the same risk, even with the emotional and physical progress I made. I also know that once the grieving would be over, I would roll up my sleeve and evaluate what is the next step and act on it.I understand that when negative habits have been in your life for quite some times, even  for years,  you cannot necessarily expect a full blown reversed results it in a matter of months. I am grateful i still have some time to take action .Not Like I had receive a stage 4 diagnosis. Maybe I could have done more or better, but I strongly believe we do the best we can at all times, considering our circumstances.  I was not to fall into the guilt trap as this is not good for breast health either.

A plan? Of course keeping on what I have done well is a must. Even after this hard sobbing day I had a few good conversations with my husband and I could see some more things shifting. Then I am working out a plan and will put it in action over the next few weeks. I will share it with you as it unfold. I want my story to help as many people I can because as I said on my Facebook post, #Iamnotpartofthestatistics and I don’t want any more people being part of it either. It is not about fighting cancer, war is never the solution. It is about finding ourselves again, creating a better  overall health plan and stopping the madness or our lives to really create one that matter.

 

 

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Why we should give more than a dime on our financial self-care

Posted by in Self-Care

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Peace of mind, Abundance.   This is what this view remind me of. Oftentimes money doesn’t quite make that effect on me. How about you?

Nowadays, it seems like time and money are the biggest subjects ever. Maybe because we feel we never have enough of any of these? Take note: I said feel. There is a huge difference between feeling and having. Perception plays a key role in how we feel and perception is based on so many things that when a person wants to take an honest look at their finances one can only glance at the financial tips we can find in magazines and online. Yes this information is great because we are not all experts at everything. When we moved from Canada, I was glad to find some information online about how credits scores worked as it was different here than in my country of origin. However, beyond the obvious financial plan as well as the more specific advice we can get from professionals there is one crucial area of our finances that we can be accountable for: our mental and emotional relationship to money.

Maybe you wonder why I added this aspect into a wellness wheel. Well, have you noticed how much living in poverty or beyond your means can negatively impact your health? Can you find any other aspect of the wellness wheel not affected when the financial health part is not under control? Chances are there are nutrition decisions made that are less desirable when there is not enough money to buy fresh produce or organic meat, let’s say. What about stress or lack of sleep, maybe even  arguments with a spouse or loved one? Working a second job to make ends meet  effects the occupational realm. It also has been proven if we look more on a global scale that poverty leads ultimately to violence. Convinced? Let’s get busy then!

The real deep work starts not as much as in how much we make but how much we keep. And how much we keep is partly related to our belief system. What we really avoid emotionally can be found when going beyond the ‘’skip Starbucks and put the coffee money aside for family vacation’’.  If a person is unable to manage his or her first out of school income of, let’s say $25,000.00 a year, chances are the issue will be the same even if this person’s income doubles, triples, or quadruples unless there is a shift.

It is said that people experiencing financial wellness may have these habits:

  • Managing their money and establishing a personal budget.
  • Not living beyond their means.
  • Learning to not let money be the driving force of their life.
  • Donating some of their money to a cause they believe in.
  • Making plans to payback their loans.
  • Not getting into credit card debt. Paying off the entire balance each month to avoid interest.
  • Thinking long term – emergency fund, savings account, retirement plan, etc.

This is not at all an exhaustive list but just a basic one and my aim here is not to play the financial advisor either.

If we are honest, we can all take a look at this brief list and see where we can make improvements. Without a deep hard look at how we relate to money we won’t be able to sustain any noble new habits. If there is an emotional tie to money management (and who does not have any?  I wonder…) this is what we need to address first. Here comes clarity again!

We all have habits that are detrimental to our financial health, even if we can pay our bills on time without any interest. Think about what people call shopping therapy. This is a false sense of indulgence . This is NOT self-care I can assure you! This society has been good to create the sense of us not being enough for a lot of reasons. If you add your personal story to it, which includes probably guilt or shame, this could be an interesting web to detangle, but not impossible.

The idea is to really mindfully observe our spending behavior, our earning behavior and in between see how we hold onto things for the wrong reasons. Somewhere in my life I had been guilty of all three! Hopefully not at the same time, but it would not be surprising either. Consumption has become an addiction and a coping mechanism to a lot of us. This is also a way to numb and avoid what hurts, pretty much like entertainment too. I was shocked to witness how many people were attending a hockey game knowing the ticket price. Some are regulars…We got free tickets and even though  this was a great evening for us all, I cannot see myself doing any type of entertainment at this price point regularly. It would skim the savings account for sure!

 

Get back in the driver’s seat!

The first step with anything we need to change or transform, is to name it. I always say to my clients: Name it to tame it! This is one huge step as when this is identified well we can direct our efforts in the right direction.

It is interesting to look back at our parents’ lives, our childhood and past years in general to identify where we have picked up some of these habits and what is the emotional correlation that was created.

Once a financial destructive habit has been named it is time to target to dissolve the emotional tie. Sadness, grief and forgiveness can all be part of this process depending on how impactful this event had or still has on our lives. Do not try to skip a step, as we all know this will not make us go any faster. Honor each and every step of the way for the learning lesson you are gaining. There are tools one can use to remove these emotional ties. Whatever type of mind body and emotional help I get, I always pair it up with my essential oils, used aromatically. It gives me real empowerment and I can attest definite progress  in between sessions; as some of you may know, essential oils have vibrations, which in turn, help us stay in a better state of wellness).

Earning money

If earning  money is easy for you, great! It is not for me yet. On the other hand, I have attracted a man that has no difficulty in earning a good income whatsoever. So I tend to believe that maybe there was a good reason for this, like the vocation to be a mother at home or I needed to support his vocation by having a more involved role when the kids were little and he was building his career. I have been in the workforce again for the last 3-4 years and I know that being away from the workplace for a long time has had an impact on my self-confidence.  

My childhood was by far the biggest contributor to this income issue thing. I wanted to end the cycle of poverty, and stop choosing fear as a foundation for my decisions. In some ways, I have been able to change the course of my family generational DNA when it comes to financial health. In other instances, wanting so much to change this part of my past has led me on the wrong path. I became obsessed with making a better income and I did a lot of things that were not my passion or calling thinking that once I had created an nice income I could go on and live my dream life. The Universe has  showed me that I need to build the dream and serve first and then the money will come. Not everyone has the same historical timeline and this is why there is not one person with the same story or associated emotional trauma or pain related to money.

I know I need to learn to value myself more in my work and ask for a fair amount of money for my services. This is part of my journey at this present moment. I strongly believe that we oftentimes have a sense of not being enough and this vibration tends to resonate and it changes how people perceive you and thus react to your offering. Authenticity and integrity have each played a big role in this as well.

MJ’s confessions on…

Spending money

Oh my! I can be good at spending money for the wrong reasons at times! I think it was even more the case when I became a mother. The insecurity I felt inside made me buy tons of unnecessary things. I wanted to give such a different childhood too, one of caring…and even though I did a lot of free caring, because we add the income to support it, the spending habits could have been a bit less. Same here when it comes to make belief that we are living our dream and acting on it. Like all the accessories and scrapbooking stickers to match each and every step my first child did! I still, to this day, have yet to finish her first year from birth (she is 13!). At some point I realized that I should forgive myself for what was a good intention and embrace each and every moment live, rather than be part of moments I could not even remember due to lack of genuine presence while taking pictures.

At least this childhood of mine and probably my personality as well, has made me act positively too! I would rather spend money on organic food than a flat screen TV. I do like a great working car but I can make do with the color I did not want (of all!) because we found a hybrid second hand small SUV so I can use it for my work. This is part of my value system. I am famous around the house to be amazing at creatively finding ways to save money. And if something needs to be done, I  will put it into action and not deter from it until I get what I had in mind. Thanks to  my parents who had it hard in their childhoods and to some of their good and bad habits based on their past, I was able to  learn the value and sacredness of each possession.

Managing money and what money can buy

This is also a deep dig into our emotional being when we realize we cannot let go of possessions of any size because of emotional ties or false beliefs. If you knew how many magazines have done both trips California-Canada and again Canada-California for this reason…. to finally end up in a recycling bin without having been read at all. Ridiculous!

At the time I had left everything behind to follow my soon to be husband, just a few months right after deciding to go back to school full time to finish my degree. I had to abandon my dream and even though I was excited by the idea of living here in California, part of me felt it was painful. I then took a few business class in a State University where they suggested I read a certain business magazine. So I took a subscription. We were anxiously waiting to get pregnant as well and it was not that easy. So  when I was in my late twenties, with no kids and no legal right to work, with a husband who usually did two weeks worth of work every five days, I needed to read some magazines to distract myself from my not so busy life! Talk about living vicariously!

This can be the same for items people gave us that have no sentimental value whatsoever, but we feel bad for discarding them in case our family members or friends would notice the item was missing when visiting. There are also those objects that have a sentimental value but are kept hidden in the back of a far away closet. We only see them when we make the big once a year declutter. All of this is stagnant energy. It keeps us distracted from what we can really enjoy from the money we worked so hard to earn.

Sometimes we keep even bigger items, like furniture or small appliances because we feel bad that we bought them and never used them. Same with those too-small sized clothes. In those circumstances we cannot face the fact that we may never use them again. Guilt comes in and we avoid dealing with the fact that we did not make a sound decision at the time. The worst thing is to keep those belongings even after we have discovered the truth as now they are also taking some space in our subconscious mind.

 

Declutter time

Please if you are using oils, get the diffuser out right away and use lemongrass and lemon and do a big huge session. I remember doing this last summer and feeling a deep  sadness inside of me. I was finally letting go of long held ideas of the things I could do without, including all of that accumulated stuff that I paid for and never used.  I broke up with the past and forgave myself and others. It was a bit painful but in the end it was so liberating!

Rule of thumb: Anything that created heaviness, no joy, or discord between you and someone else as you share ownership, anything that has a negative balance when you look at your checkbook should be revisited, discussed and hopefully discarded. Try it and let me know…This has powerful effects, beyond what you can imagine.

What is the hardest object you have a hard time parting with? Why? Share your comments below and do not forget to join us on our Self-Care Sunday on Facebook!

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Just say yes!  or when taking care of ourselves include others

Posted by in Self-Care

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When my son went to bed  last night, he started crying. I could tell something was bothering him in the last 30 minutes because he kept looking at the clock while his sister was playing a song on the piano for us.

Now, to put you in context, you have to know that he is sensitive and caring and has a big, generous heart. He is also an introvert, so to recharge, he needs time alone. He needs time to transition so being rushed does not work well for him, at least not when he is not well grounded. The most important thing to him is connecting with family members, one on one or as a whole, but we need to be present to each other. This is his motto.

Back to the story, my nine year old boy realized that he gave too much of his time to big sis, happily helping her in a project for school, offering  to do her chore to lend a  hand and listen to her song. Now, he ended up not having enough time to recharge and it was time to go to bed. We talked about setting firm boundaries, about the oxygen mask theory, refilling our cup. Now he has a plan to make sure this won’t happen again (we all know it will, he probably knows too, but we want to do damage control). I’ll be there to remind him if he forgets. I bet he won’t.

In emotional self-care, setting boundaries is something to look for.  We need to honor ourselves first and sometimes this means saying no. Now, not that it is not important when we talk about social self-care or what some others call relationship care; it is still something to be mindful of.  

When it comes to looking at our relationship with others, we need to remember:

  • At times, we want to interact with others. Frequencies and needs may vary from one person to another but still, human connection is something we cannot deny. Who would not like to spend time with friends or family to celebrate their birthday, as an example?
  • We are interdependent so we need to interact with others; Nobody can attend to all of their needs on their own. When we are going through hard times or exhilarating joy, having someone to talk to or to spend time with makes all the difference in the world.

 

There are a lot of other ways to take care of our relationships, as you can attest when looking at  this exhaustive list to assess our social self-care. Some seem to be done  to help others but they benefit us as the same time, like connecting with friends and family especially those abroad. Others requires us to do what directly benefits us first and foremost. WARNING: Do not see these as selfish. If  you think you are when taking care of yourself, think about what would happen if you got cancer or have to deal with depression? Do you think that by neglecting your needs and ending up in a difficult situation you are better equipped to help and support others around you? Are you then able to fulfill your life’s mission? Take the time to read and see where you can improve. The ones I want to focus on today are in bold.

    • Developing assertiveness skills, not passive or aggressive ones.
    • Balancing social and personal time.
    • Developing the ability to be who you are in all situations.
    • Becoming engaged with other people in your community
    • Valuing diversity and treating others with respect.
    • Enlarging your social circleaka continually being able to maintain and develop friendships and social networks.
    • Creating boundaries within relationships, boundaries that encourage communication, trust and conflict management.
    • Remembering to have fun.
    • Scheduling regular dates with your partner or spouse.
    • Scheduling regular activities with your children.
    • Making time to see or stay in contact with friends.
    • Call, check on, or visit your relatives.
    • Allowing others to do things for you.
    • Asking for help when you need it.
    • Sharing a fear, hope, or secret with someone you trust.
    • Remembering who you are in any relationship.
    • Creating for yourself a community of support (network of family and friends.)

 

Creating for yourself a community of support and asking for help when you need it

As much as we need to learn to say no to others more often, we also need to say yes to others more, by asking for help and recognizing our intrinsic need to connect, to give and receive. For some reason, probably from with all the availability of services almost 24/7, the development of consumerism and actualization of our needs, it seems like there is a rise of individualism. In plain words: we became reluctant to ask others for help. So first we need to acknowledge our needs and second we need to ask for help when we need it. Sound simple? When was the last time you asked a neighbor for some eggs or sugar when in a middle of making a recipe?

Here is  a quick assignment to guide you through saying yes more often. It  part of a bigger picture called the emergency self-care plan:

1-Make a list of people you can contact if you need support or distraction. For example, your best friend, other friends, siblings, parents, grandparents, other relatives, community members, therapist, coach, or any member of your wellness team, etc.

2-Divide the list of people into categories by asking yourself the following questions:  

  • Who can I call if I am feeling depressed or anxious?  
  • Who can I call if I am lonely?  
  • Who will come over to be with me if I need company?  
  • Who will listen?  
  • Who will encourage me to get out of the house and do something fun?  
  • Who will remind me to follow my self-care plan?  

 

Share your plan

Once you have developed your plan and made your commitment, remember that friends, family, peers, and/or colleagues may be good additional resources for exchanging new self-care ideas/strategies and to provide support and encouragement.  Chances are by being open to communicate your plan you may be enabling them to feel ok to do the same and add you on their support team list.

Consider taking your commitment a step further by joining or starting a support or discussion group. Our Self Care event could be the springboard to exchange ideas toward caring for oneself.

 

The ability to be who you are in all situations and remembering to have fun

In order to sell more and make money Big Corps have created and encouraged consumerism. With this, the advent of media are doing a  good job at telling us we are not enough of or too much of and what to buy be happier, healthier, sexier. It is as we developed self consciousness to a degree where it looked ridiculous to be ourselves in public without (feeling) people frowning at us.

It seems though there is an ever growing movement to celebrate our uniqueness now. Thank goodness! It is tiring to deny who we are! Seriously, we need to be able to have fun and not worry about what people think. It is of great importance to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Playing tough is not a sign of courage and strength, it is a sign of not allowing vulnerability and genuine feelings to emerge.

When we are able to be ourselves and not be too self-conscious about what people think we are exuding strength. Being vulnerable is the utmost sign of bravery. Now, I am not saying this is easy. I have times when I am totally frivolous to the extent that my teenage daughter wants to deny she share blood with me :-) (this will pass, I know). I have others where I just want to hide. This is part of being human. If I remember even just a tiny bit about the core message from Brenée Brown’s book The Gift of Imperfection, this is it: Do not let shame or guilt define what you do with your life or how you feel about yourself. Be authentic, be real!

There might be some need for emotional healing but this is feasible. One day at a time you can recreate the perception you have of yourself. There is a lot of work that can be done to heal our trauma and love ourselves more. Be patient and forgiving.

Do yourself a favor, this week: DO one thing that you want so badly but did not because your self-consciousness stopped you in the past. It does not need to be fancy, complicated or expensive. Do it first in your shower or living room if need be and get acquainted with it until you try to do it with family members and friends and in public. Chances are that when you do this, you will again help someone not there yet thinking this may not be such a bad idea after all!

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