Sunday, October 11, 2015

My Husband DOES Have a Disability Even if He's NOT "Disabled:" Understanding Autism

Autism. It's the scary, dark shadow hiding behind the corner waiting to jump out and snatch your children from you. It comes in the night and there's no stopping it. After that, nothing is ever the same and you have to change everything.


Autism. It's not even a real thing. We're ALL on the autism scale, so whatever. It's not a disability. He's too "high functioning." They're "normal."

I just want to start off by saying NO to both of these extremes. The one is paranoia and the other is denial, and neither is very helpful. It can be hard to know what to say about autism. I hardly knew what to say or do before I realized how deeply it was affecting my family and my life. So, in my short, but rich experience of living with three, maybe four or five beloved family members with Autism for maybe my whole life, here's what I've learned:

First off, I'm totally going to do the dictionary thing so we can have a healthy framework to work off of:


1. Psychiatry. a pervasive developmental disorder of children, characterized by impaired communication, excessive rigidity, and emotional detachment: now considered one of the autism spectrum disorders. (click the link to read about more about how it's a spectrum, which does NOT invalidate the reality of any one clinically autistic person's experience and disability at all).
2. A tendency to view life in terms of one's own needs and desires.
1. a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.
2. a physical or mental handicap, especially one that prevents a person from living a full, normal life or from holding a gainful job. (Even milder forms of Autism are in fact an Access One Disability because without intervention it DOES prevent them from developing normally and living a full, normal life. If they begin to get help before the age of 25 and especially before the age of 8, they often do remarkably well).
It can get confusing if an Autistic person develops an addiction early in life in order to deal with their disconnection from people (Research how disconnection is what fuels addiction and that's why 12 step helps so much). And then slowly, but often unintentionally stumbles into potential criminal behavior (they rarely, if ever, have actual victims. And when they do, they are almost always willing to make complete reparation and change). But I will tell you this: they have the strongest sense of moral responsibility that I have ever seen, refusing to excuse wrong behavior, and often criticizing what they hate about themselves when they see it in others. They can often develop a deep sense of insecurity and self loathing because they can sense all the ways in which they fall short and they hate it.

It IS a Clinical Disability, but it often does NOT have to be Disabling WITH Intervention: When I started telling people that my husband and probably my little girl (since it's very clearly genetic in my husband's family and maybe even in mine to some degree) were autistic, I was met with either the two above responses and more primarily the second. The first is the paranoia that often leads to the denial. I, myself, felt the same way before I realized that the person I love most in this world, my partner, my best friend, is in fact Autistic. Then, everything changed. Suddenly, we started reading and getting him proper therapy and understanding. I was no longer afraid of my children being Autistic because his Autism is actually a huge part of who he is and sometimes exactly what I love about him. No, I do not love him IN SPITE of his Autism. Although, sometimes I do. Sometimes, I also love him FOR it.

What is it like, being married to an Autistic person? It's actually pretty awesome a lot of the time. He's brilliant and loyal and sweet with this different sense of humor and take on the world that I just adore. He treats me like a princess most of the time, as he does with our daughter. He's committed and works harder and more effectively than most people. But sometimes, he can be very disconnected and I will feel lonely. When I talk to him about it, he'll try to understand or offer the same "too perfect" sounding apology and I know he'll probably still do it again. I'll often feel like he thinks he knows more than I do and that he'll never completely and totally approve of or understand what I do. For example, I love essential oils and they are enriching my life, but they were on his black list, and they will probably always be on his black list. It is either black or white and they feel a need to be harshly honest with you about their perspective, which is often different than most. But that's ok, because it teaches you to develop your own self-confidence. When you challenge them about doing something unhealthy and especially not understanding how you feel, they will often say "Well, I didn't know" and it's logically true even if it hurts. When I gently tell Matt that I wish he would notice when Aria, our daughter, needs help and just help, he will often say, "Ok. But you didn't ask." And you WILL have to remind them frequently, but then they'll absolutely do it. When you are sick or needing something, you must communicate it regularly and clearly, because otherwise they will NOT intuitively recognize what you need. They can talk non-stop about their interests without a very active audience, which is either comforting or extremely annoying because you can't get a word in edgewise and if you do, they probably won't hear it or they'll interrupt you (My mother-in-law suggests taking up knitting). They will very happily give you what you need with the utmost dedication once they understand, but you must communicate it to them. They actually feel and love more deeply than anyone I've ever known. They just don't know how to handle those emotions. A lot of people who marry Autistic people or become good friends with them are familiar with victim mentality or were abused as children, so Autistic people feel safe. They feel like home. Being married to someone with Autism is feeling some days like you ARE just going to pack up and leave if God doesn't give you a reason to stay, but He almost always does. The best story I ever heard was when Matt's mother, married to his Autistic father, realized a year in she couldn't live like this, so she packed everything up and her little baby Matt in the car and then realized there was absolutely no gas and no money to buy any so she didn't. I've been taken aback by how brilliantly Matt is responding to specific Autism therapy. He was taken to a store by his therapist and told to ask someone for help because Autistic people always struggle asking for help. And he did, and then he took me to another store and asked for help from three different people just to practice it.

Being a child of an Autistic parent is significantly harder. Because they will often see bits of the Autism in their own children and panic and try to beat or control or force it out of them somehow. They know it's hurt them and they know it's hard. If they've become overly controlling and aggressive as a compensation technique, they will often handle the rearing of delicate Autistic children all wrong and the cycle continues.

Autism is tricky that way, because what it is, is technically a "brain defect" but it's more like "brain difference." Remember how they used to draw a line between people with "Asperger's" or "milder autism" and severe autism? They don't really anymore because it's the exact same kind of brain damage that makes a more severely Autistic person seize, twitch, scream, be unable to handle normal stimuli, interaction, or difference in routine, etc. In all reality, most of them are perfectly intelligent in there, but trapped in damaged bodies that are betraying them. Can you even imagine that? People with milder forms of Autism have the same type of brain damage affecting the control, emotional, and social areas of their brain (a lot like an addiction does), but because it's not as severe, their brain learns to adapt and hide it better. They're still trapped in damaged bodies, but because the human brain is housing an eternal spirit and Child of God it will learn and start to work around its limitations over time and often with outside help.

So, basically, people with Autism do have social and emotional limitations that they need help to overcome if they're going to hold a stable job, stay out of massive debt, have healthy friendships, and family relationships and grow. They will never be "normal" unless they get very early intervention and even then not quite, and that's actually perfectly ok. They just need help to function within healthy parameters. Most of them sincerely want what's healthy because they're intelligent enough to know, but without some of those key, more right brain functions of social and emotional desires they are often left floundering. Often, in their teenage years, Autistic individuals will get very depressed or aggressive or addicted or all three because they're intelligent enough to know there's something wrong, but not able to understand what it is.

We've been told by a doctor that if you times an Autistic person's age by .66 you may get an approximation of their social and emotional age. Meaning, when my husband was arrested, he was approximately 15 and a half socially and emotionally. He's always tried to "make up" for the social and emotional gaps with an incredibly high IQ, and has often "seemed" successful, but raw intelligence does NOT a socially or emotionally well adjusted person make. Still, people have often made the mistake of assuming he knows exactly what he's doing when he does wrong or that he's a sociopath. 

He is NEITHER a sociopath OR a socially and emotionally mature individual without proper therapy. I have mountains of personal evidence for both of these assumptions, but it would take too long to describe them all. So, I will give just two clear examples:

1. I actually married Matt because I knew without a doubt that he would NEVER maliciously abuse or take advantage of me and our children. He always let me be in control, and was in his heart and the majority of his actions incredibly loyal. So, I felt safe and that was what mattered most to me in a relationship. Unfortunately, he did not know how to have difficult conversations, so he would end up lying to me to cover up an addiction, which he had needed to do in his strict family and the Church to have any friends or relationships whatsoever. He has never once tried to force, guilt, or manipulate me into something and I know he never will.

2. Why will he never do this? Because he knows exactly what it's like to be the victim. More often than not, Autistic people get taken advantage of in their relationships - business, personal, etc. They don't know how to effectively manipulate others so they are often the ones that get manipulated and hurt. Assault. Fraud. Divorce. Arrest. Bullying. Addictions. Abuse. You name it, it happens TO them more often than almost anyone else because they often can NOT read key emotional and social cues, no matter how genius they are. Unfortunately, some Autistic people do try to over compensate for this hurtful problem by getting aggressive, controlling, and paranoid but the key is they are largely ineffective at it and often just throw tantrums when they don't get their way or can't communicate it clearly. Instead of aggression, paranoia, and control, Matt fell into the severely depressed, abused, and addicted category. As a child who had known emotional and verbal abuse and manipulation by a potentially more Autistic than not, but well-meaning and committed parent, it felt both familiar and safe all at once. It was home. (Emotionally, I am very aware and empathetic, but socially I myself had always been stunted or introverted. So, I feel as if I have one small foot in the world of Autism and one out).

BUT, Autistic people really do learn and change, maybe better than anyone else I know. When they're committed to a path, they are utterly committed. Nothing can sway them. They'll work hard and they often respond beautifully to therapy. If the whole world could respond as beautifully to therapy and light as young Autistic people often do, this world would be a much happier place.

So, for those of you who have fallen into the first category: of fearing Autism and Autistic people. Sensing that there's something wrong and seeing them as an easy target or willful sociopaths, please read and educate yourselves by actually loving and knowing them. You are doing a great disservice to all of mankind by tossing these valuable people and their brilliance aside after you're finished with them. They have SO much to offer: fresh insights, new perspective, a loyal and forever love to those they trust, and talents that surpass the ordinary.

For those of you who fall into the second category of brushing Autism off and misusing the term "high functioning," please also read and educate yourselves. High functioning only means their brains have gotten better at hiding it for survival purposes - it does NOT mean they are actually living anywhere close to their potential and they do need real help. They're suffering in isolation, even if you can't see it because they're too afraid to show it. Maybe you know or love someone who you suspect is Autistic, but you're too afraid to think about what that might mean. Just think and read about it and it might actually shed a whole lot of light on your life.

This is my plea for a society with a LOT more Autistic people than we may have realized in need of love, understanding, and therapy and NOT abuse, addictions, arrest, divorce, isolation, and bullying. Autism is NOT an excuse for abusive or criminal behavior, but it IS a reason beyond the narrow view of "sociopath." Really, they're just very intelligent and innocent children trapped in adult bodies trying to make sense of this world. They are some of "the least of these" and before anyone takes offense to that, allow me to illustrate how Christ spoke of children:

"And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." - Romans 8:17

"But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God." - Luke 18:16

"Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein." - Luke 18:17

"And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea." - Mark 9:42  


They need us and we need them. They are some of the elect.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How to Decorate while Renting and on a Budget - Aria's Princess Room

I have always wanted to give my little girl a "princess room" but have always felt held back by budgeting and renting. I couldn't paint or hang professional art or purchase new furniture without breaking both contract and budget, so I found loopholes that let me create the perfect space anyway. I am extremely pleased with how it turned out and am over the moon excited to share it with all of you. Scroll to the bottom or check out my Instagram feed @rach.dorian for sources for everything I used.

1. Hang Prints, Pictures, and Banners instead of Painting: Yes, painting is incredibly fun because it can totally revolutionize a space, but it is NOT necessary. You can still give the room plenty of color and personality with well chosen prints, pictures in frames, and banners. In fact, the decor you choose can often be even more exciting in color and presence if it doesn't have to compete with bright paint on the walls. If you still want to paint but get the effect of stand out, bold decor, try a more neutral color such as off white, beige, or grey. I love the way the neutral wall color allowed me to add so much of my own color, bringing the room to life. These whimsical frames and banners are a focal point for the room and tie in the entire color scheme: Coral, Peach, Pink, Aqua, and Mint with Gold accents.

2. Use What You Have & Find Cheaper Altnernatives: The inability to buy new furniture was one of my biggest hang ups when it came redecorating. You do NOT need to drop thousands of dollars on furniture to remake a space. You can always find used, hand-me-down and even free furniture that you can remodel to fit your needs. For example:
  • New End Tables ($100-$300) Instead, I draped a tablecloth over the cheap, metallic one from IKEA that we already had and borrowed one from my mother-in-law that she didn't have room for. ($20 tablecloth)
  • New Toddler Bed ($50-$200) Instead, we transitioned her crib to one by removing the front ($0). 
  • Changing Table ($50-$200), Instead, I use a bassinet that was kindly given to us and remade a three drawer organizer with wrapping paper ($5).
  • Window Curtains ($150-$200), Instead, I used decorative banners that I had from Aria's birthday photo shoot ($50-$80). 
  • Window Seat/Storage Bench ($200-$300), Instead, I found a much cheaper and perfectly functional one on Amazon for only ($40). 
  • New Rocking Chair ($200-$500), Instead, I got a super size Minky blanket to drape over the perfectly functional but unattractive one we already had ($120).
  • Professional Art ($500-$1000), Instead, I used framed prints and pictures and banners that add a whimsical happiness and individualized personality that high quality professional art may have taken away from. I did not actually save by going this route since I used so many frames, prints, and banners, but I could have, had I been willing to do less. 
  • New Dresser ($500-$1500), Instead, We sanded and painted a cheap IKEA hand-me-down dresser from my husband's family that fits the space and color scheme better than any purchased piece could ($100).
  • Large Rug ($200-$1000), Instead, I found a smaller 3 by 5 foot rug on sale for only ($65).

3. Prioritize What is Worth Spending on: This is probably the hardest part of any project because of course I would love to spend and get the best for all of it. What I often had to ask myself was this: "Will it compromise my vision and the atmosphere I'm creating if I skimp on this or not?" Here are some of the things that I thought were totally worth spending on to preserve the integrity of the room:
  • Bedding. The bed and the decor above it is a focal point. In every room, it is important to have a focal point that immediately draws the eye upon entering and sets the tone for the rest of the room. I wanted a very specific, gradient crib skirt and color scheme in this area because of how it would affect the entire room, so a cheaper alternative was just not an option here. 
  • Above the Bed Frames. These whimsical frames were worth the extra cost for me because they create the focal point. They were made to order and so fully customizable with the colors and design I wanted. I knew that frames in general are expensive so I thought it was worth it.
  • Window Decor. Windows naturally draw the eye and usually become a secondary focal point, so to leave them bare is distracting and unattractive. I spent a significant amount on the banners and the Starburst dreamcatcher because they were made to order and the perfect style and colors to create a princess window. I also knew they could be used as decor for special events as well.
  • Lighting. I knew that I did not really need a lamp, so I bought it last. I got it on sale from Amazon, and I knew it would be worth it to add ambient lighting to set the tone for bedtime and book reading. Ambient lighting from lamps is almost always more attractive than an overhead lighting and so worth it to set that mood.

4. Wishlist and Wait for Sales: This is where planning ahead of time can really come in handy. If there is something you need that is way outside of your budget, add it to a list, save, and wait and watch for sales. It can take a lot longer, but it will be worth all that you could save. I waited to buy the bedding, one of the biggest expenses, until it was as on sale as I had ever seen it. Every time I look at it, I know it was worth the wait.

 5. Amazon, Walmart, IKEA, Hobby Lobby, and Target are your Friends: These are the best places to find the cheapest alternatives of what you want. I purchased from plenty of smaller shops, mostly on Etsy, to get what I was willing to spend on and wanted unique. But these places saved me the most money.
  • Amazon: Jellycat stuffed lamb and pig, Window seat/storage bench, Rocking chair, Lamp, Sound machine, White and Gold frames for prints, Peach trash can.
  • Walmart: Gold glitter tape, Diaper pail, 3 drawer organizer, Crib that transitions to toddler and full size bed, Large pillow insert.
  • IKEA: End table, Pink rose, Dresser.
  • Hobby Lobby: Fake flowers & Gold dresser decor (modern elephant, giraffe, and arrowhead).
  • Target: Coral tablecloth, Gold side pillows, and Mint wrapping paper.

Bright, Elegant, Inspiring was the theme for Aria's room and the type of lady I hope she grows into. I also wanted the room to reflect her bright and fiery personality as it encourages her to grow into all she can be by inviting the Spirit. I couldn't have accomplished it without my sweet husband beside me. He sanded and painted the dresser with me, even replacing the drawer handles. He patiently and precisely assembled, measured, and hung all of the prints and pictures the way I envisioned and sketched out for him. It took many hours and months of preparation for it to come together. But I think the most rewarding part of it was watching Matt's and Aria's reactions. Matt had been skeptical about the money and the planning of it, but once it came together he said "Wow, you were right. This just works." Aria ran through it excitedly, grabbed all her new animals, and snuggled down happily on the toddler bed. I'm so glad I could give her a space that she will grow into for many years to come.


Love is Always the Answer print: CraftMei on Etsy

I am the Daughter of a King print: CraftMei

I Can Do Hard Things print: CraftMei

I am a Child of God print: CraftMei

Our Little Princess print: CraftMei

What if I Fall? print: CraftMei

Gold & Peach/Pink Love print: CraftMei

She Believed She Could So She Did print: CraftMei

Have Courage and Be Kind print: CraftMei

Blooms and Glitter Name (ARIA) Banner: LittleDovie on Etsy

Blooms and Tassel Garland (over window): LittleDovie

Golden Scalloped Garland (over window): LittleDovie

Woolie Ball Garland (around diaper pail): LittleDovie

Initial (P) Felt Banner: LittleDovie

Gold Dot and Mint Elephant Pillow: BakerBaby on Etsy

Shabby Chic Mason Jars (set of three, on dresser): PrettySimpleJars on Etsy

Mint Glitter Mason Jar (on 3 drawer organizer): PrettySimpleJars

Families are Forever Watercolor Peach Temple canvas print: WillowLanePrints on Etsy

Gold and Aqua Love print: PaperDainty on Etsy

Coral and Mint Minimalist Abstract gradient print: JettyPrintables on Etsy

Peach and Mint Minimalist Abstract gradient print: JettyPrintables

Butterfly Watercolor You are Free to Fly print: TheWildRaccoonPrints on Etsy

You are Loved print: ZoomBooneCreations on Etsy

Wild & Free print: ZoomBooneCreations

Starburst Dream Catcher: MissRubyLocks on Instagram

Whimsical Frames with pictures: Poppy Tree Frames

Bedding (Gold Interlock Pillow Sham, Duvet Cover, and Crib Skirt): Caden Lane

Phoebe Rug in Ivory: Joss & Main

Pictures: Camera Shy

Home Diffuser: Young Living

Remaining Items: See above #5

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

All Natural, Moisturizing Hand & Bath Soap

So, I recently downloaded the ThinkDirty app and realizing how many of our personal care products were a 9-10 rating on the toxin scale, mainly for carcinogenicity and developmental & reproductive toxicity, I was thoroughly horrified. My baby's soap that I have been using on her for her entire, little, sensitive, rapidly growing, and impressionable two years of life is a 9 on the toxicity scale for developmental & reproductive toxicity and a 4 on the carcinogenicity scale. How? Well, the mysterious label "fragrance" is legally allowed to be used in every personal care product to mask dangerous, toxic chemicals and is rated as a 9. And three other ingredients - Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Peg 150 Distearate, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate  - are a 4 on the carcinogenicity scale. Our hand soap was only worse on the toxicity scale - a full on 10 for Carcinogenicity with Dmdm Hydantoin (a chemical like this is pretty common in hand soaps), and a 9 for "fragrance" on the developmental & reproductive toxicity. I'm sure the amounts are small, but when it's in almost all of our personal care and cleaning products that we use on a repetitive, daily basis, we are surely overloading our bodies with toxins whose effects may take years to be completely known.

I know it's easy to feel jaded and complacent with the rationalization that "everything is toxic and causes cancer," but I will no longer let that stop me from trying to make healthier choices for me and my family. With my precious little girl, the stakes are just too high. I wish I could afford to completely eliminate our toxic, chemical products and replace them with far healthier alternatives, but for now I can't. I also can not afford the health consequences of not at least starting to try, little by little, to live healthier. It is possible if you're willing to make your health a priority in your life.

Young Living creates effective, natural and essential oil empowered alternatives to nearly every chemical, toxic product on the market. Unfortunately, I can't always afford them yet, so whenever possible or if something is out of stock, I try to make my own alternative. Plus, it's rather fun to experiment and create a product uniquely designed to meet your own individual and family needs.

This hand & bath soap recipe is still being experimented with and perfected, nor is it my own original creation. I got it from @ashleymartinessentials on Instagram because I was looking for a functional essential oil soap recipe that would be soft on mine and my daughter's sensitive skin. We live in a dry area, and during the winter soaps really dry out our skin. I modified the original recipe a bit to fit our own needs and so far I really like it.

Large glass or stainless steel soap dispenser (for storing essential oils safely)

1/2 cup full fat Coconut Milk (the kind that comes in a can)

3/4 cup Unscented, Baby Mild Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap

2 tbsp. Vitamin E oil (this is perhaps the most expensive part and can be substituted with vitamin e oil diluted with coconut oil or extra aloe vera gel).

1/4 cup Fractionated Coconut Oil (or your favorite carrier oil).

1 tbsp. Vegetable Glycerine (I omitted this in mine since it's really just for texture and extra bubbles).

1-2 tbsp. Aloe Vera Gel

10 drops Lavender essential oil

10 drops Geranium essential oil

10 drops Copaiba essential oil

I chose these specific essential oils because I love their smell and how nourishing they are for the skin. You can always experiment with the amount and type of essential oils for your individual needs. Some other great combinations would be Melaleuca, Lavender, and Frankincense; Thieves, Lavender, and Copaiba; Stress Away and Geranium; Gentle Baby and Copaiba for younger children and pregnant women. The oils I chose and others like Melaleuca, Gentle Baby, and Frankincense are particularly gentle on even sensitive skin types and can always be diluted or eliminated if sensitivity occurs.

Even after learning how toxic our personal care product were, it took me a few weeks to scrape up enough time, energy, and materials to make this soap. It's never too late to start and it is so worth any inconvenience and extra expense to have that extra peace of mind. Why not starting using products that help our bodies do what they were meant to do, rather than potentially damage them in the long run? Worth it.

Email me at if you would like to learn more about how essential oils can benefit you and your family. I would love to hear from you!

*Disclaimer: This post is NOT intended as medical advice of any kind because I am not a doctor. These product(s) and statements have not been tested or evaluated by the FDA and so they are not intended to cure, treat, or prevent disease. Caution should be exercised with first time oil use - skin patch tests prior to use and dilution with carrier oil - especially in children. Children, especially under the age of 6, should never ingest essential oils without advice of a healthcare professional since they are concentrated and potent. If you are under the care of a physician, nursing, taking prescription medication, or pregnant please consult your doctor prior to use. Keep essential oils out of reach of children.

Monday, September 7, 2015

September 2015 Promotions!

This month's promotion was inspired by my passion for essential oil DIY's and how they have empowered me to live a healthier, more chemical free lifestyle. Some of my favorite DIY items that I make with essential oils are sprays:

- Skin Spray

- Facial Cleanse & Moisturizer

- Hair Serum

- Purifying Spray

- Multipurpose Window Cleaner

- All Purpose Cleaner

Homemade sprays are some of the safest and most convenient ways to utilize the strengthening, purifying, and empowering benefits of essential oils. They can be easily modified to fit individual needs, circumstances and dilution levels for a variety of purposes. The promotional upgrades I am offering this month for jump starting your wellness journey with me by purchasing a Premium Starter Kit are specifically designed to help you get the very most out of the oils by creating your own DIY sprays.

With the purchase of a Premium Starter Kit through me in the month of September I am offering:

1. The Essential Oils Pocket Reference with detailed references on essential oil history, usage, safety, recommendations, and so much more. I use this reference regularly, if not daily.

2. 3 2oz. amber glass spray bottles. These are what I use for the majority of my sprays.

3. 12oz. Thayer's Unscented Aloe Vera Witch Hazel toner. Witch Hazel is excellent for cleansing and supporting skin health and it has the consistency of water, which makes it an excellent diluter in personal care essential oil sprays. It sprays easily and freshens without any chemical or sticky residue.

If you would like to take advantage of this one of a kind offer to empower yourself in ridding your home and body of toxins in favor of all natural, 100% pure, therapeutic grade, and effective essential oils, sign up here with my member # 2546134 and I will be your sponsor to guide you every step of the way. It is such an exciting journey and one I can hardly wait to share with others. Email me at with any questions you may have!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

For Those of Us that Struggle in our Families

For the majority of my life I have felt increasingly insecure about how broken and imperfect my family situation seemed. Then, I would feel guilty for even feeling that way because I knew so many had it so much worse than I did. My only rationale was that I somehow deserved the brokenness around me. I became depressed with the fear that I had been given less than ideal family situations because I deserved them. I felt that I must be unworthy and unlovable - a hopeless case.

I realize that we all struggle in our families because families were given to us to teach us how to become more like our Savior. And sometimes that growing is very difficult and our families bear the brunt of our growing pains. But the abuse and dishonesty and an inability to communicate effectively that I have experienced both in the family I was born into and the one I have created for myself left me feeling like I was a failure in what mattered most in life - healthy relationships. I was angry, depressed, and stuck in my pain for a long time. Sometimes, I still am.

Thankfully, I have had plenty of loving family support, ecclesiastical leaders, therapists, and a loving Savior who have guided me through that minefield of pain and self doubt. I would like to share some very illustrative stories that completely changed my perspective on what it means to suffer in our families. Ideally, families are a place of love and refuge from the storm. But because we are all human and growing, sometimes they are the storm. Sometimes we are the storm. Living in an abusive or less than ideal family situation does not mean  we brought it upon ourselves. It took me a very long time to realize that and even longer to actually believe it. These inspired accounts given by a therapist and Stake President made all the difference for me:

*Note: By and large, I have not experienced anything near the severity of these trials. But I have felt what it is to be abused emotionally and verbally, manipulated, my marriage slipping out from under me, deep anxiety for the future, unfair judgment, and plenty of pain. If you are in an abusive situation, please seek help from professionals and the Spirit. To some degree, I related best with these particular accounts.

"The first one was a case of a sister whom I'd known for years and who, in my judgment, had made some very poor life choices. She had married a handsome, charming young man who initially wasn't a member of the Church but joined the Church for her. She waited a year to marry him and then went to the temple. It was the last time he ever went to the temple. I knew he was a flake from the beginning. ...

There was great pain for this woman. A good, good woman, she kept in the Church; she kept in the kingdom; she suffered enormous pain because her husband went back to gambling and drinking and other things that were unhappy and unwholesome. But, the greater pain came when her children, having these two models before them, began to follow him. ...

As she asked me for a blessing to sustain her in what to do with this awful situation in which she found herself, my thoughts were, 'Didn't you ask for this? You married a guy who really didn't have any depth to him and raised your kids too permissively. ... ' I had all those judgments in my head. I laid my hands on her head, and the Lord told her of His love and His tender concern for her. He acknowledged that He had given her (and that she had volunteered for) a far, far harder task than He would like. (And, as He put in my mind, a harder task than I had had. ... ) She, however, had signed up for hard children, for children who had rebellious spirits but who were valuable; for a hard husband who had a rebellious spirit but who was valuable. ...

I repented. I realized I was in the presence of one of the Lord's great noble spirits, who had chosen not a safe place behind the lines pushing out the ordinance to the people in the front lines as I was doing, but somebody who chose to live out in the trenches where the Lord's work was being done, where there was risk, where you could be hurt, where you could lose, where you could be destroyed by your love. That's the way she had chosen to labor. ...

In a blessing the Lord said to her, 'When you're in my employ, the wages are from me, not from those you serve.'"

That last line changed my whole perspective about my life's purpose. I realized that I had been expecting the ideal from my family members if I chose to be patient and forgiving. I expected them to at least try just as much as I thought I was. I had been hoping and praying for things that were out of my control. I had chosen a path that traveled through the trenches. But that did not make me any less worthy of love and eternal happiness. It simply meant that I might have to accept that I would be rewarded by the Lord and not necessarily in the way I envisioned. I could change my expectations for both myself and my family members. I could love them simply because I love the Lord and I know He loves us perfectly. I knew that even if I felt as if I could not trust anyone, I could always trust Him. I was able to lay my burdens and broken dreams at His feet and let Him lead me.

"In the second case I had a woman who came to me who was an incest victim - the victim of a terrible family. ... The daughter had been abused in about every way there was to be abused - psychologically, physically, sexually. ...

She had recurring bouts of depression and very negative feelings about herself because she had been taught by the people most important in her early life what a rotten person she was. It was hard for her to overcome that self-image.  ... One day she said to me, 'You're a stake president; you explain to me the justice of it.' She said, 'I go to church, and I can hardly stand it. When I see little girls being hugged and kissed and taken to church and appropriately loved by their fathers and mothers, I just have to get up and leave. I say, Heavenly Father, what was so terrible about me that, when I was that age, I didn't get any of that? What did that little girl do in the premortal existence that I didn't so she is loved, so she is safe? ... What did I do? Can you tell me that God is just if He sends that little girl to that family and me to my family?' ...

I would not have known how to answer her in my own capacity because that is manifestly unjust. Where here or in eternity is the justice in an innocent child's suffering in that way? But the Lord inspired me to tell her, and I believe with all my heart that it applies to many in the kingdom, that she was a valiant Christlike spirit who volunteered (with, I told her, perhaps too much spiritual pride) to come to earth and suffer innocently to purify a lineage. She volunteered to absorb the poisoning of sin, anger, anguish, and violence, to take it into herself and not to pass it on; to purify a lineage so that downstream from her it ran pure and clean, full of love and the Spirit of the Lord and self-worth. I believed truly that her calling was to be a savior on Mount Zion: that is, to be Savior like, like the Savior to suffer innocently that others might not suffer" (The Uses of Adversity, Carlfred Broderick).

This final passage had me sobbing with understanding. From the time I was very young, I promised myself that I would shield my own and whatever children I could from unnecessary suffering and abuse. I was grateful that I was the oldest and also that I was at the least the third generation in a lineage of anger, pain, and abuse that was slowly but surely being healed by the Savior. I was able to spare my siblings from the worst and my own children hopefully completely, but I myself was spared the worst of the abuse by my noble predecessors who had absorbed even more and passed less of it on.

It also caused me to reflect on whether or not I was living up to this noble calling - to absorb the abuse and pain and not pass it on, not even to those who had caused the pain. I realized that with the Savior's healing and help, I could let go of the pain. I no longer had to internalize it with self doubt and self inflicted punishment, telling myself I must have deserved it. And once I was able to let go of that enormous weight - that fear and pain that had been with me almost as long as I could remember - I was able to forgive. I was able to see those who had hurt me as fellow imperfect children of God. They were only people who had volunteered for even more difficult tasks than I had and had suffered greatly in their own way to bring about something better.

With this understanding - the knowledge that I did not and could never deserve abuse from anyone in my life - I was able to replace my fear and self-doubt with the confidence that my Heavenly Father loves me infinitely, so much so, that he sent a Savior (the most innocent and undeserving of abuse) to suffer all for us so that we would not have to. And when we do suffer, we need never do it alone. I regained the confidence I so desperately needed to stand up for myself, and with that, the ability to forgive and leave the past behind.

I know that our Heavenly Father has a perfect plan that begins and ends with love. This world is unjust and unfair, but all will be made right in the end. All He asks of us is to have faith and hand it over to Him. And I am here to tell you that it is possible and so worth it.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Joy - Set Your Own Mood

Joy is a lovely signature Young Living essential oil blend that is both calming and uplifting. I like to keep a roller bottle blend of Joy and Stress Away with me all the time. I especially love to use it before bed, when I'm so tired that my mind won't shut off and wanders into dark places. It has also been a huge help in my efforts to release negative emotional patterns through aromatherapy. Essential oils directly interact with the limbic or emotional area of the brain through the olfactory system, so they are some the most effective emotional healers. If you've ever had days where you just want to go lock yourself in a closet and cry then you need this essential oil blend in your life.

Young Living says: "Joy™ is a delightful blend of Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, Geranium, Lemon, Coriander, Tangerine, Jasmine, Roman Chamomile, Palmarosa, and Rose essential oils that harmonize for a sweet, joyful aroma. When diffused, Joy creates a warm, comforting environment and inspires a romantic aromatic atmosphere. Wear Joy as a cologne or perfume to exude an alluring and irresistible fragrance that inspires romance and togetherness."

First, there's Bergamot. Bergamot is a lesser known citrus fruit - it looks like a cross between a lime and a lemon. Like other citrus oils it is very uplifting and calming as well as antioxidant rich.

Then there's Ylang Ylang. It "promotes relaxation, balances male and female energies, restores confidence and equilibrium," restful sleep, healthier hair, and circulatory support (Essential Oils Pocket Reference, 158).

Geranium is one of my all time favorite oils. It smells so sweet and calming, much like rose. It can help to balance hormones and is incredibly beneficial for the skin.

Lemon is another one of my absolute favorite oils. I like to call it indispensable liquid sunshine because it is both energizing and uplifting. "It is stimulating and invigorating, promoting a deep sense of well-being" (158).

Coriander "has long been revered as a home remedy for nausea, aiding digestion, and supporting healthy immune function" (158). Whenever I'm anxious or upset, I'll often lose my appetite and feel nauseous and miserable. Which is why Coriander is such a perfect addition to this blend.

Tangerine is another antioxidant rich, relaxing, and uplifting citrus oil that fits right in.

Jasmine is a more expensive oil to purchase on its own. It "exudes an exquisite fragrance that revitalizes spirits and brings feelings of love, support, and joy" (158). When I lived in San Diego my favorite feature of our home was all the irresistibly sweet jasmine plants in our yard. Every time I smelled them I felt calmer and uplifted.

Roman Chamomile is incredibly calming and beneficial for the skin. It "combats restlessness and tension" to promote restful sleep. "It releases mental blocks and purges toxins from the liver, where anger is stored" (158).

Palmarosa "is stimulating and revitalizing, enhancing both the nervous and cardiovascular systems and bringing about a feeling of security" (158).

And finally, there is Rose essential oil. This is the oil that gets me most excited about this blend because it is so expensive to buy separately. About 22 lbs! of rose petals are distilled to create even a 5ml bottle of essential oil. Rose is both uplifting, beneficial for the skin and romantically inspiring of course. "It has the highest frequency among essential oils. It creates a magnetic energy that attracts pure love and brings joy to the heart" (158).

Specific Uses & Blends:
  • Combine in a roll-on blend, diffuse, or add to epsom salts in a bath with Copaiba and Lavender to relax, promote restful sleep, and soothe discomfort.
  • Diffuse or take as a dietary supplement with Peppermint and Copaiba to energize, soothe, uplift, and support healthy digestion.
  • Take as a dietary supplement, diffuse, or apply topically with Frankincense and Copaiba to calm, uplift, and balance.
  • Diffuse or combine in a roll-on blend with Stress Away to uplift and promote mental clarity and restful sleep.

 Email me at to learn more about how essential oils can benefit you and your family! I would love to hear from you.

*Disclaimer: This post is NOT intended as medical advice of any kind because I am not a doctor. These product(s) have not been tested or evaluated by the FDA and so they are not intended to cure, treat, or prevent disease. They only help your body to do what it was meant to do, like nutritional supplements. Caution should be exercised with first time oil use - skin patch tests prior to use and dilution with carrier oil - especially in children. Children, especially under the age of 6, should never ingest essential oils without advice of a healthcare professional since they are concentrated and potent. If you are under the care of a physician, nursing, taking prescription medication, or pregnant please consult your doctor prior to use. Keep essential oils out of reach of children.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Thieves - Amplify Immunity

This unique essential oil blend was first created by Young Living and it is one that is universally loved by all who try it. It is so incredibly versatile and it smells like home. The smell is like a blend of Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fall, and home all wrapped into one. I've used it for just about everything, from boosting our immune systems, supporting the respiratory system, and strengthening my sensitive teeth, to soothing discomfort, and non-toxic cleaning and air purifying. It is the principal ingredient in both my All Purpose Cleaner and Purifying spray, which clean without compromising on effectiveness and no harsh chemicals. I love cleaning knowing that it is not only supporting our overall health, but also completely safe to use around my toddler who climbs, licks, and eats off of every surface! Although this blend is potent, it is also generally regarded as safe for human consumption. It is truly the crowning jewel of the Premium Starter Kit and so useful that there is an entire starter kit composed of Young Living's invaluable Thieves products.

Young Living says: "Thieves® essential oil blend was inspired by the legend of four 15th-century French thieves who formulated a special aromatic combination composed of clove, rosemary, and other botanicals they used while robbing the dead and dying. Young Living’s one-of-a-kind Thieves blend, crafted in the spirit of that legendary combination, can be found in all of our Thieves products. When taken internally, Thieves supports healthy immune function*, and it includes Eucalyptus radiata essential oil, which may help maintain a healthy respiratory system.* When taken as a dietary supplement, Thieves is an ideal complement to a daily wellness regimen.*"

The first ingredient in this spectacular blend is Clove. It supports youthfulness, the heart, the immune system, and general wellness with the highest antioxidant level of any essential oil (Essential Oils Pocket Reference, 57). It is also very high in eugenol, a substance that dentists often use to numb gums and teeth so it is excellent for both oral care and soothing discomfort. Using just a drop of Thieves on my toothpaste once a week has helped my sensitive teeth immensely. It makes my teeth feel so healthy and clean - like I just visited the dentist.

Next is Lemon, or what I like to call Indispensable Liquid Sunshine, another principal component of both my All Purpose Cleaner and Multipurpose Windex. It cleanses and "contains compounds that amplify immunity. It supports circulation, leukocyte formation, and lymphatic function" (179). It's part of what makes this blend smell so clean, fresh, and uplifting.

Then we have Cinnamon Bark. This is a powerful but "hot" oil. It is very strong, so it and Thieves should always be diluted with a carrier oil when being taken internally or applied topically. It is also one of the most powerful cleansers amongst essential oils (179). This is what lends the blend its warm, Christmas like smell. This oil also soothes discomfort, supports circulatory health, and supports healthy digestion.

Then there is Eucalyptus Radiata.  Eucalyptus supports the respiratory system, soothes, and cleanses.

Finally, there is Rosemary. It supports mental clarity and concentration, supports the liver and immune system, encourages healthy weight maintenance, and supports the respiratory system. And like all the other oils in this blend, it is a powerful cleanser.

Specific Blends & Uses:
  • Add a couple drops of Thieves to soap, cleaning products, and smelly laundry to deodorize, detox, and increase efficacy.
  • Diffuse with Peppermint and Copaiba to support the immune and respiratory systems and energize.
  • Diffuse with Lavender and Copaiba to soothe and support restful sleep.
  • Diffuse with Peppermint and Cinnamon Bark during the winter season to support the respiratory system and create a warm, holiday atmosphere.
  • Ingest with Peppermint and Copaiba to support digestive comfort and the immune system.
  • Ingest with Frankincense and Lavender to soothe discomfort, detox, uplift, and support the immune system.
  • Combine in a roll-on blend with Orange and Melrose to support the immune system.
  • Combine with Lemon and Melaleuca Alternifolia to create an All Purpose Cleaner.
  • Combine with Peppermint, Purification, and Melrose to create a non-toxic outdoors and anti-itch spray.

If you're interested in learning more about how essential oils could benefit you and your family email me at I would love to hear from you and answer all your questions!

*Disclaimer: This post is NOT intended as medical advice of any kind because I am not a doctor. These statements have not been tested or evaluated by the FDA and so they are NOT intended to cure, treat, or prevent disease. They only help your body to do what it was meant to do. Caution should be exercised with first time oil use - skin patch tests prior to use and dilution with carrier oil - especially in children. Children, especially under the age of 6, should never ingest essential oils without advice of a healthcare professional since they are concentrated and potent. If you are under the care of a physician, nursing, taking prescription medication, or pregnant please consult your doctor prior to use. Keep essential oils out of reach of children.