Just Call Me Frank.

I haven’t been around a lot. You might have noticed. Things got hard, and I checked out in a lot of ways.

The last time I posted, I was talking about being on the brink of getting a new kitchen. Well, I did, and I love it. It also took 13 months to be completed.

new kitchen photo

Two ovens, six stovetop burners, all mine. Finally.

We had our boiler break down in the dead of winter, and it took two months for us to get a brand new one installed. Every room in the house needed more work than anticipated. I ended up in hospital and darting between doctors’ offices for a few months. CB worked himself half to death writing a book, book chapters, editing a book, and, you know, doing his job. We argued a lot because we weren’t happy with the status quo and we didn’t know how to fix it.

To put it simply, I was depressed. I didn’t say it for a long time, but now I’m in the business of being Frank.

When you’re depressed, you don’t want to spend time being creative in the kitchen, and you certainly don’t want to pretend on a blog that everything is fine and bubbly. I did try to take solace in my kitchen, but I was constantly reminded that THAT wall still needed to be redone and THAT cabinet is going to have to be removed and WHEN are the tiles going to be installed? It wasn’t the most positive place for me.

tired sydney

I only now realise how tired I looked even when I thought I was having a good day.

Over the summer, things started improving. We spent about six weeks in the States with my family and friends, and I think the change of scenery did us well. Sure, we avoided some of the problems instead of fixing them, but they suddenly became much more manageable with fresh eyes. CB and I made an effort to start spending more quality time together — particularly hard when he had looming deadlines and I took on too many crochet orders leading up to Christmas.

One thing that made a huge difference but I haven’t really talked about with a lot of people is starting to use essential oils. I joined Young Living in August of last year, just when we got back from the States. I had read for ages about using essential oils for all sorts of healing, but I honestly thought it was a bunch of bunk. I was willing to try just about anything to get myself out of my funk, but was I willing to try THAT?

Then I actually thought about it.

If I believe that natural and healthy food is one of the best healers there is — and I’ve proven that to myself, anyway, through the last few years — then why were oils so different? They are made from plants, and Young Living ensures the purest quality of their products by actually owning their own farms and taking everything from “seed to seal” (hokey phrasing but a very effective way to describe the process). If I have seen that eating peppermint leaves aids in my digestion, why wouldn’t a truly quality peppermint essential oil — made from those same leaves — have the same properties? If I can spout all day about the antioxidants found in certain fruits, why wouldn’t I think adding orange oil to a glass of water would give my immune system a wee boost?

I tried a couple of oils at my parents’ house just before we left in July. I had gotten a whopper of a head cold, and I did not want to get on an international flight when my ears couldn’t even pop. I got out their diffuser, slapped Thieves oil blend and lemon oil (I later learned that Thieves HAS lemon in it already — oh, well.), and put that thing on full blast right next to me as I moaned and whined on the sofa. A couple of hours later, I was breathing and smiling. Nothing in my entire life — not even that awful nasal surgery I had — had made such a difference in my breathing, and, oh no!, it made the house smell like Christmas!

Thieves oil

Thieves oil — I love the fact that its history includes THE PLAGUE.

That event is what made me decide to enroll with Young Living. I had only been back to our house for a few days when my breathing got awful. I later found out that I had developed asthma. [side note: Who on earth develops asthma at my age?!] It only took a couple of days of watching me struggle for CB to decide it was worth the money, even if we had to scrape it together out of the couch cushions.

What I didn’t really anticipate was falling in love with these oils. I was still a bit reticent about them, even after I knew they could help me breathe, because they still seemed a bit weird. Would they be greasy? I couldn’t get the idea of cooking oils out of my head. They also come in such tiny, tiny bottles. How often would I have to buy these things to even make a difference? I started reading about what came in the Premium Starter Kit and kept seeing things about healthy moods and hormone balancing and house cleaning. What on earth?!

I still didn’t know what I was doing when I got my kit. I think I kind of stared at it for about ten minutes, then closed it back up and set it aside for a few hours. It was in the corner of my eye line, daring me to do something about it. I got an email from Katherine, this lovely woman under whom I’d signed up, giving me ideas for some of the oils. I decide to dive in head first. No pain, no gain, right?

Everyday Oils Kit

What do you even do with these little guys?

I used the diffuser, sticking in lavender, peppermint, and lemon oils because I had heard they were good for breathing and congestion. It helped a lot. I soon was given inhalers from the doctor, but I realised that, the more I diffused these oils, the longer I could go without having to use the rescue inhaler. So I started playing around with some of the other oils in the kit. I say playing around, but I really mean meticulously reading testimonials and oil recipes and very cautiously proceeding.

I didn’t even notice that the oils were having a bigger effect on me. I knew I liked them, and I knew that I felt better when I put them on me or diffused them into the air. It shocked me when CB pointed out that I had done things that my anxiety hadn’t allowed me to do in years — I thought nothing of going to the shop or post office at the top of the road on most days. Before long, I even heard myself say that I would walk into town — about three miles — and meet him after work one day. Even more, I actually saw myself do it. People started talking to me in public again, and a woman in a local shop said that I’d been looking more confident lately. I got compliments from my family. I can’t tell you how many individual times I heard some variation of “you look/sound healthy” on phone and video chats. A rather unintended — though not unwelcome! — effect was that I started losing weight again. I felt like being active, and I didn’t feel drawn to so much bad food. For the first time in my life, I also began consistently sleeping through the night. I haven’t been starting every single day already exhausted, which has done a world for my general outlook as well as productivity and health.

Do I still have bad days? Absolutely. Essential oils are not miracle cures. They didn’t turn me into a superhero [note to self: come up with a really awesome superhero name in case this does ever happen.], and they haven’t even kept me from ever being sick or sad. What they have done is give me the confidence to know I can make it through the tough days, and I haven’t been sick for more than one or two days in a row — unheard of for my immune system! I thought that life got better when we got back from the States, but it was just my coping mechanisms that changed, or, I might should say, I actually HAD coping mechanisms. We still had all of CB’s publication deadlines in front of us, and I hadn’t even touched that mental amount of Christmas crochet orders yet. The house wasn’t — and still isn’t — finished. The weather has still been dismal, and most of the news we’ve gotten over the last six months has been very sad or disappointing.

But it feels better. I’m not constantly knocked down by bad news. I don’t catch every little bug that’s going around, especially hanging a super-adorable and super-germy niece.

Clio

Exhibit A: super-adorable, super-germy

I am taking more things in stride, I am content with where I am in life, I value my relationships with my husband and my family [embarrassing oversharing note: I just about welled up on Christmas night when CB’s family and my parents were all in our house opening presents. It struck me that everyone was happy and laughing and sharing and enjoying everyone else’s company, and I was the reason for all these people to be gathered in one room. Oh, is someone cutting onions in here again?], and I just have a more positive outlook on things.

I’ve been doing more than coping lately, too. I have a load of new recipes I’ve got banked to share with you all now. I have felt like an actual person, not just dragging myself from Point A to Point B but enjoying the bits in between. I’ve been silly and playful. This weekend, I actually even boarded a plane by myself to go to a city I’ve never visited and do things by myself. I didn’t stay holed up in the hotel room alone either — I ate meals and learned things and chatted with people and had a genuinely nice time. I haven’t travelled on my own like that in almost five years, partly because I would have mostly gone places with CB but also because I just couldn’t.

Glasgow e-ticket

That happened, folks.

The craziest thing is that the goalposts have shifted for me. I used to take deep breaths and hope I could make it to the end of the week without a little breakdown and hiding under the covers in bed all day. I used to plead with the universe to get me through things. I couldn’t see very far because, every time I looked forward to something, I would have a disappointment and lose sight. I spent ten minutes yesterday writing down “I would love to…” style goals (something I would have found too ridiculous to even do in the private corners of my mind before now), and I realised that I have LIFE GOALS. When did that happen? I have things I want to happen and ideas on how to make them happen. Who is this person inhabiting my body?!

Life is different now and can be different and will be different. For anyone that still resides in Skeptic City like I did for so long, I have two things:

A) If they work, then I’m glad I’ve found a natural, plant-based solution for my problems. I don’t have to worry about loads of side effects, contra-indications of various medications, or the squirmy feeling I get supporting big pharma companies all the time.

B) If they don’t actually work and it’s all in my head, I don’t care. If they are placebos, then they are placebos I will gladly pay for. Why? Because I feel like a human being for the first time in a VERY long time, and that feeling is precious to me. I am worth it. I don’t know if I’ve ever said that before in my life, but it’s true. I’m not hurting anyone or even myself with my “placebos”, so let me get on with it.

I truly, whole-heartedly believe they aren’t placebos, and there is one main reason for that: I didn’t even know what I wanted to happen when I started using them. All I could think of at that point was being able to breathe. I didn’t think I would get confidence, happiness, protection against sickness. I didn’t think I would get myself back.

Are you curious about essential oils? Have you ever used them? Do you have questions about them? Let me know!

If you’re looking to get yourself back like me and are ready to take the plunge, you can sign up here. My referral information should already be plugged into the page, so I’ll know if you sign up.  I’ll send you loads of information to get started, and you can learn at your own speed. You can always come to me with any silly, ridiculous questions you might have — because I’ve probably already asked them, myself.  If you sign up with the Premium Starter Kit, I’ll even send you a wee sample of an oil that doesn’t come in the kit.

Oh, and that tiny, tiny bottle issue? It’s because there is so much packed into every drop of Young Living’s essential oils that you only use a tiny, tiny amount. I still have some in most of the bottles that came in my Premium Starter Kit almost six months ago.  That’s value.

Move along to my next post where I write too much in response to very short, simple questions.

Yetenet’tere Zeyt

Yetenet’tere zeyt is an Ethiopian spiced oil. The recipe calls for olive oil, but I accidentally used vegetable oil the first time I made it. The olive oil definitely makes for a better end product, but any type seems to work. I used it to make my favourite lentil soup*, but it’s great as a marinade base for meats, a dressing for mixed vegetables, or the beginnings of a salad dressing. Add some of your favourite spices if you want, such as red pepper flakes or a bit more garlic.

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 teaspoons chopped onion
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon chopped ginger root
2 cups water

2 cups olive oil

Hardware:
saucepan
mortar and pestle (or something else you can use for mashing)
metal spoon
stove
sieve or cheesecloth for straining
glass jar with tightly-closing lid

Directions:
Mash garlic and ginger into a paste. You can choose to leave it a bit thicker, but the flavour will not be as strong.

Heat water and oil in saucepan on medium heat. Stir in garlic, ginger, onion, and basil. Once the mixture comes to a boil, lower the heat to medium. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, until all the water evaporates. (A tip from me: the oil will be sitting on top of the water. If you smell the oil beginning to cook, the water has evaporated. If you are paying close attention, a little bit of cooking the oil won’t hurt it.)

Allow the oil to cool. Strain the oil with the sieve/cheesecloth into a glass jar. Close tightly, adding a piece of plastic wrap inside to seal more tightly, if necessary. Store in the refrigerator.