Becoming Oily


I’ve been wanting to start writing a lot more about my journey with essential oils – why I love them, how I got started, and how we are using them.  As always I don’t really write unless I get a spark of inspiration and today that inspiration is coming from my husband jumping on my oily band wagon! So before the inspiration fades I’m going to just hammer out a post in true “Ashley” fashion.

I’ve been using essential oils for about 3.5 years now – ever since Ezekiel was a baby.  I’ve written before about how I really started to focus on wellness when he was a baby.  I’ve been back and forth on this wellness journey – one step forward a couple back, two steps forward one back and it goes on and on.  I’ve found beauty in this journey and I have no shame about my set backs because each one has taught me something new.  So anyways, when Ezekiel was a baby I ordered a starter kit from Young Living.  I chose Young Living after researching other companies and realizing that their Seed to Seal process was and is far superior to any other company out there.  I guess the gardener/farmer in me just really resonates with planting a seed, growing that seed and preserving the amazing product that comes from that, but I don’t think you need to be a farmer or gardener to appreciate knowing EXACTLY where the product is coming from and how it got there.

After receiving my starter kit I basically only used my oils for diffusing in replacement of candles as well as for all my own cleaning products.  I didn’t dive any deeper into the science of the oils or how they could really support our bodies and our health.  My main purpose in using them was to eliminate some toxins in our home, to have cleaning products that I could use while my small son could be right beside me helping and I wasn’t worried about him putting anything in his mouth or touching the products.

Fast forward to this past year, and specifically the last few months and I’ve been diving deep into the health portion of essential oils and I am BLOWN AWAY at just how incredible these little bottles are and how they are changing our lives.  I’m not going to share all of the ways here right now – that post would be far too long.  Here’s the thing: there is actual science behind these oils.  They may not be researched much in western medicine (but we are getting there!) but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t true science in the oils.  I used to think they were a bit “hokey” but since starting to learn the actual science I’m 100% a believer in these oils.  The same science that applies to any drug also applies to oils but oils are FAR superior!

Please don’t get me wrong – I am in no way saying we should all ditch the drugs we are on and use only essential oils.  I am currently taking two prescription medications and I will not be replacing those with essential oils but I WILL be supporting my body and all it’s systems with essential oils especially my immune system.  My husband is hoping to reduce the amount of prescription drugs he is taking by starting to eat healthier and use essential oils to support his body as well because the drugs he is currently taking definitely can be reduced by lifestyle changes.

So don’t think that just because I’m a bit more crunchy than before that I’m swearing off western medicine – not true and I don’t think that will ever be true of me.  What I am saying is that the less toxins and man made and manufactured things we put into our bodies the healthier we will be.  I’m so excited to be on this journey and the more changes I see in myself and my family the more I want to share!

If you have ANY questions at all PLEASE connect with me, I have so much more to share and I’ll be doing that on the blog from time to time but I really love a good one on one chat!

You can find me on Facebook or Instagram (m_l_ashley) or E-mail me at joyofsimplicityblog@gmail.com

Are you currently an oil user? Have they changed your life like they have changed mine??

Glasses and Genetics


We recently learned that our oldest – Ezekiel – would need glasses.  It’s taken me some time to process this, and I’m surprised at my internal response to this need.  At first it didn’t phase me, and quite honestly it didn’t surprise me at all, not because I thought he was having trouble seeing (I didn’t pick up on any signs) but because I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 2.  Yet the closer we came to actually ordering and picking up the glasses the more conflicted I became.

Glasses are now going to be a permanent accessory for Ezekiel.  From now until he dies he will need to wear glasses.  This is huge, and maybe I think it’s huge because I absolutely hate wearing glasses, I hate that I have to wear glasses to see, I hate picking out glasses and I don’t enjoy them as an accessory.  To clarify, I love being able to see and I am grateful for such a tool that allows me to see clearly and I’m grateful for healthy eyes but I still hate glasses.  I hate even more that my son is having to wear glasses at such a young age.  I’ve been processing this for a while and asking myself why I hate it so much.  I mean, it’s really not a big deal at all and I shouldn’t be making it one but I just couldn’t shake the disappointed feeling.  People’s first response when I tell them that Ezekiel needs glasses is: there are some really cute kids glasses, he’ll be so cute!

Yes, he’s cute in general and glasses do add another level of cuteness (he could seriously be a glasses model) but it wasn’t just the physical appearance that I’ve been processing and I was trying to put my finger on why.

Yesterday I think I came to understand why.

Genetics.

We all know that when you have children you pass on certain traits.  When talking about evolution, passing on traits is the reason plants and animals procreate.  The thing is, we really only want to pass on the good traits especially when it comes to physical traits.  We also all know that we can never just pass on the good traits, we pass on so many more things.  Now, I’m not a genetics expert, in fact I know very very little about genetics (I really should know more) but I do know a few things:

  1. When a child is conceived they receive 23 chromosomes from you and 23 from your partner/co-creator.
  2. In most cases nothing goes wrong with that.
  3. In other cases there’s a chromosome missing or an extra chromosome that sneaks in.
  4. In still other cases you or your partner (or both) pass on some form of mutation in any of those chromosomes.
  5. In still other cases a mutation just “magically” appears.

I know many stories of all of these situations and I am one such story.  I have a genetic condition that is the result of a “magical” mutation.  I have Marfan Syndrome which is an autosomal dominant condition meaning you only need one copy of the defected gene to have the disorder.  The way you receive that copy is from one of your parents – unless it’s not (like me).  My mutation just happened with absolutely no family history but I have a 50% chance of passing it on to my children.  I’ve never cared about passing on my gene in theory.  When conceiving and carrying my children and even now I have the option to have them tested for this mutation.  I’ve always chosen not to because at this point it changes nothing.  Having said that I am in constant wonder and always looking for signs that they did receive that mutated copy of my gene.  So far, other than having a bit fairer skin then the typical mixed race child they really have very little physical traits that associate them as my children and I’ve always taken that as a sign (and hoped it was a sign) that I didn’t not pass on my mutated gene.

Until now.

Now I question it.

Now I wonder.

Now I’m on full alert.

It’s unknown if astigmatism is genetic but it is known that the chance of astigmatism is higher in a person with Marfan Syndrome.  Of course astigmatism is also prevalent in the general population so it’s not a good sign of Marfan Syndrome but for me it places a check mark on that mental list I have going of physical traits of Marfan Syndrome.  Up until now that list has been blank. Now I find myself wondering and running through the possibility and coming up with imaginary scenarios.

So yes, glasses is not a big deal in reality but to me it means just a little bit more.

Thankfully though, Ezekiel can see much better and in the end that’s what really matters here.

 

 

Who I am…

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On July 13 I made a decision to take a social media break – at the time I only had Instagram.  It seemed like a decision made abruptly to those around me, but in truth it was a decision I had been contemplating for weeks if not months.  I didn’t plan to delete my Instagram app on July 13 but I had come to a place physically, mentally, and spiritually that I had had enough.  Enough of what? I actually wasn’t sure and for the past two months I couldn’t put my finger on it.  I knew that I felt God pulling me towards this break, to take time to focus my energies elsewhere (more on Him perhaps?).  So early in the morning in the midst of scrolling Instagram I exited out of the app and deleted it in the same breath.  Right after doing it I was in a bit of disbelief – did I really just do that?! Then the next thought – now what?

Well the summer went on, I did more soul searching, praying, reading, listening and honestly I felt no answers.  The first week and a bit I really missed it but after that life just went on and I barely thought about it.  Every so often I’d do a quick soul check and pray about getting it back but I never felt released to do so and I was perfectly OK with that.

Then a few weeks ago I decided to get Facebook back – if you know me you know this was a huge decision for me.  I’ve made my strong dislike for Facebook known, but it’s time to start getting rid of some baby gear and clothes and so I decided to get Facebook purely for the buy and sell groups and Varagesale.  I didn’t add any friends but several people found me, and slowly my friends list grew.  Then I joined a few Young Living groups and began to love them! Last night after a lot of debate and deliberation with myself I decided I would add all the people I knew that popped up on my suggested friends list.  I had this sudden urge to connect.  Similarly, today I re-downloaded Instagram and felt such a peace about it. Up until today I hadn’t fully known why I felt so strongly about deleting Instagram and although I had tried a few times to write about it and sort through my thoughts I never felt released to do that either.

Today though I finally feel like I have some clarity, and I feel released to write again.

At the time I didn’t realize how I was feeling – isolated, lonely, lost, trapped, no energy, lack of motivation.  I’m reluctant to say I was depressed – maybe it’s pride but truly I don’t feel as though I was truly depressed, I just lacked insight and that was bothering me and manifesting in depressive symptoms.  When I deleted the app I felt as though I had very little community that was true and real and I didn’t want to replace true community with false community.  Here’s where it gets good – today I had this amazing realization that ALL community is REAL community.  Online or in physical form – community is community, people are people.

I spent the last two months bouncing between trying to grasp physical community in full force – planning something several days of the week and being utterly exhausted from overbooking us and dealing with a baby that needed to catch up on sleep.  So one week I was a social butterfly, the next week I was a hermit.  Today I realized that I just needed to accept the place in life that I am and stop pitying myself and wishing I was in a different place. It took me deleting Instagram for me to be able to do that.  Now that I have it’s time to embrace all of who I am:

A mom of two – one being a baby that needs ample amounts of sleep.

A self proclaimed homebody.

A woman recovering from the most exhausting and taxing 2 years of life physically, mentally and emotionally.

A wife needing to connect and stay connected to her husband in a new season of life.

A friend who desires connection in all forms and desires to give that same connection back.

A beloved daughter of the King and member of His Kingdom.

I seriously feel so much more at peace, with who I am, where I am, and the communities I belong to.

What are you being challenged with?

 

 

Post Partum Body

Hi Friends.

Posts are few and far between around here (what’s new right?).  I was hoping to have a bit more consistency on my year (plus 4 months) off but it turns out that having a newborn in the spring makes life pretty crazy.  If I’m not holding, rocking, or feeding the baby, then I’m probably playing with a toddler in the yard and/or doing yard work and planting the garden, and if I’m still not doing that, then most likely I’m cleaning the house or sleeping.  So – life, it’s a bit hectic right now but I wouldn’t change a thing.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my postpartum body and I figured I’d write out a few thoughts.  This is a hot topic for anyone who’s been pregnant, is currently pregnant or thinking about/trying to get pregnant.  Some people will tell you while you’re pregnant that you should eat clean and stay fit no matter what.  Others will tell you to take it easy and eat what you want, don’t stress.  Then you have the baby and you begin to notice everyone else who has had a baby recently and the age old game of comparison begins.  On top of that you have people giving advice – don’t worry about your body, just enjoy your baby OR you should be working out 6 weeks after having your baby GET YOUR BODY BACK!

It’s an exhausting mind game and one that I wish I could say I didn’t participate in – but I do.  Still, I think there’s some validity to entering into the conversation.  I want to  break it down to solid truths for myself and by writing it out I hope that you can glean some truths for you as well, not only if you are a postpartum momma (regardless of how long it’s been!) but also if you are just a person that struggles with this topic in general.

Here’s the facts for us birth momma’s:

  1. You grew a human.
  2. That human changed you as a person – physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
  3. You will quite literally never be the same again.

Think about it – you nourished a rapidly growing person for 40 weeks (give or take some weeks), and if you are breastfeeding you are continuing to be the only source of nutrition for that person.

INCREDIBLE. MIRACULOUS. AWE-SOME. MIND-BLOWING.

I’ll never ever ever stop believing that being able to give life to another human is less than this.  I truly think it’s a sacrifice worth giving and if it wasn’t possibly life threatening for me I would hands down want to do it again.

Here’s some more truth:

Growing a human is HARD.  Even if you had the most amazing pregnancy ever, your body had to work unbelievably hard to do that.

When I think back on my pregnancy I know I’ll never forget the crazy amount of hard that it was and because of that I want nothing more than to HONOUR my body.

The truth is that to honour my body I must nourish it, move it and treat it with respect.  I must listen intently to what it is saying.  I must take time each day to understand what it needs that day and also understand that it’s needs are going to change each day.

 To honour my body I must work towards my healthiest self – physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.

Will that take me down a road of weight loss? Truthfully, I hope so but it’s no longer my goal. My goal is health and your goal should be health as well.

Not a size zero? No one cares and neither should you!

Be confident and radiant in who you are right now in this moment.  Take steps towards a healthy you and eventually the number on the scale isn’t going to matter to you anymore.

As you nourished your child (and maybe still do) honour your body by nourishing it as well.  How can you give something to another person that you don’t possess yourself? If you are unhealthy physically, mentally, spiritually or emotionally then how can you expect to nourish healthy human beings? Even if you didn’t grow a human and even if you aren’t breastfeeding, you are still nourishing those around you by what you give.  Are you giving the best of you?  If you aren’t giving the best to yourself then I would argue that it’s not possible to give the best to those around you.

More than anything I need to focus on me so that what I pour out to those around me (especially my children) is healthy and nourishing for them.

Here’s some practical ways I’m putting this into practice:

  1. Eating mostly whole “real” foods and very little processed food
  2. Listening to my body when it tells me that gluten is bad (even when I desperately want a pastry)
  3. Engaging in a hobby (hello garden!)
  4. Making time each day for me (hello early mornings!)
  5. Praying
  6. Allowing myself to feel all the feels and be honest about feeling them
  7. Being realistic about my to-do lists (bye bye spring cleaning wishes)
  8. Talking to people frequently and being intentional in relationships

I had a much different post planned out in my head when I started this, but as is the case so often I let my hands do the talking for my brain and it’s usually exactly what I needed to hear.

So here’s to letting go of postpartum body expectations and to embracing a healthy new me.  Here’s to letting go of the numbers.  Here’s to honouring my body so that I can honour those around me.

 

All Consuming


Well, I’ve hit 34 weeks! It’s an amazing milestone considering where we have come from.  When I look back on the last 34 weeks I am astonished at just how blessed I am.  This miracle baby that was naturally conceived (something that does not come easy for my body) and has held on strong ever since.  This body of mine that really fights against pregnancy has held on as well.

Nothing short of a miracle.

Now, after hitting 34 weeks and having the danger of bringing a tiny baby into the world pass I am definitely getting impatient to meet this little one.  My body is again in pain most of the time.  My preterm symptoms are out of control which makes me miserable most of the time.  The changing of the weather is making me antsy to get outside.  The ever growing state of my body is getting uncomfortable.  Sleep has disappeared from my life.  My toddler needs more time outside, more interaction with little ones but I fear leaving the house too often with him in case something happens and I need to get to the hospital fast so he’s often stuck indoors.

So as grateful as I am, I am also ready to hold this little one in my arms.

I expected this pregnancy to be more difficult than my last but honestly I didn’t expect it to be so consuming.  I knew I would likely have a few more appointments but the amount I have had with several different specialties has been crazy.  I thought it would be harder on my body but I didn’t expect my body to be in such pain from 8 weeks on.  I thought I would have an early delivery but I didn’t think I would have so many scares so early on and not to mention hospitalizations.  I knew I’d have to be done work earlier than before but I never expected to be on modified rest for more than 10 weeks.

Usually it’s the first pregnancy that consumes your mind and life, getting ready for your first little one tends to have that effect.  I’ve heard second pregnancies aren’t so consuming because you are running after a toddler and busy already being a mom rather than dreaming about it.  For me the opposite has been true.  This pregnancy has been completely all consuming, it has taken over every aspect of my life.  It’s been what I talk about, what people want to talk about and what I think about the majority of the day.  I analyze every pain and how I’m feeling several times a day and wonder if I need to be checked or not.  I’ve had more doctors examine me than I’d like to admit.

I’m just over it.

I’m ready to start the challenge of mothering two.   I’m ready to have my body back, to start the very long process of healing it.  I’m ready to meet this miracle baby of mine.

Here’s hoping it happens soon! If it doesn’t, 4 weeks is sure to fly by :).

At Home on Modified Rest

Well, I’ve been home since Monday and today’s only Friday.  Not even a full week at home and the learning curve to this new temporary life is steep.  I was sent home on “moderately reduced activity” which is a drastic difference to how I was living before being hospitalized, but still has enough freedom that I’m not just laying down all day long.  The guidelines are: resting 3x3hrs/day, 10 minutes or less of walking, less than 20 minutes on feet at one time, light house duties (nothing that involves any type of strain so no lifting laundry or vacuuming etc), limited stair climbing, no looking after toddlers.

Here’s the thing though, although I try my best to follow these guidelines sometimes I find myself wandering the house just “tidying” up and before I know it 45 minutes have passed.  Then I pay for it the rest of the day, I get crampy and start contracting and generally feel terrible.  Even leaving the house is a feat.  On Wednesday I had to drop off some papers for my short term disability, then we went to the library to return some books and let Ezekiel play, then we picked up some groceries (I order online and they shop, bag and deliver to my car while I sit in the car).  Total time on my feet was less than 15 minutes, and total time out of the house was about 1.5hrs and by the time I got home I felt terrible.  It’s discouraging that I no longer am just doing things to be cautious, I’m actually on these restrictions because without them I’d have a micro-premie in the NICU for months.  Earlier in my pregnancy I went off 12 hr shifts and night shifts extremely early (relative to the “norm” on the unit) because it was hard on my body and I was being cautious.  I then went on modified duties and sat at a desk (less than two weeks before being hospitalized), again because I was being cautious but now it’s just plain necessary to be resting for almost the entire day.  A hard pill to swallow.   I think it’s taken this long for me to figure it out.  Of course I knew it but I just had to “get it,” you know?  It’s amazing that 12 days ago I was living normally, cleaning my house, cooking, doing laundry and grocery shopping all in the same day and today I literally can’t do any of those things for more than a few minutes and I’m out for the day.

I’m doing my best to stay out of the hospital, and I’ll have to become more rigid with my time on my feet.  Maybe I’ll have to set a timer every time I get up to do something.  I’m trying to keep myself busy with projects that can be done while sitting.  I’ll write a post about that later on.  Honestly though the days seem to fly, when Ezekiel’s awake it’s all about him.  We read, build with blocks, play music and he dances, we do puzzles, colour and then it’s nap time.  I can’t imagine doing this without my mom here though, she’s doing all the cooking, cleaning, lifting, laundering and anything that’s just too much for me.  Some people don’t have that luxury and it would be a thousand times harder than it is for me.  So I’m trying to stay positive and count my blessings.  It’s really not all that bad, I get an extra 3 months (fingers crossed) at home with my little guy before we have a new addition and his world is turned upside down.  I’m doing my best to make the most of it because I won’t get these days back.

I’ll take all the suggestions for things to do while resting! Also all the prayers that I get to rest for 3 more months!

Letting go…

I am now 23 weeks pregnant and some things have changed for the better.  All of my physical ailments are still present and mostly worse – so no good change there.  I was reflecting this morning how much this pregnancy has humbled me.  My fantasy for my second pregnancy before becoming pregnant was that I would be a beacon of health, that I would be in tip top shape and sail through a second pregnancy.  However, this pregnancy has been the exact opposite.  I went into it still not healthy from my months of health issues that were happening this past year (that are still not figured out).  My first trimester consisted of constant nausea and exhaustion resulting in me sleeping the majority of my free time away.  My joint pain started extremely early at 8 weeks and has only progressed and worsened, resulting in me being unable to do much in terms of physical activity.  Simple tasks like laundry, house cleaning, grocery shopping or errand running bring on types of pain I didn’t know existed.

So, this pregnancy is not what I had imagined, yet it is teaching me and pulling me in ways that I really needed.  I am learning that despite what I think I am not an island to my own.  I cannot possibly do everything by myself, I truly need a village.  I have had to ask for help and accept my limitations so much and so early on.  I have to rely on my husband to do things like take out the garbage and carry the laundry up and down the stairs.  He’s had to make and clean up meals far more than he’s used to.  I have had to ask for help from all of my physicians – suggestions on how to just live with a little bit of quality of life (and they have been excellent).  I have had to sit down with my manager numerous times and ask for modifications in my work – schedule and duties and she has done it willingly and with so much grace and understanding.  I have had to lean on God like I haven’t had to in so long (this is really good for me).  When someone is over and they ask if they can help I am eager to pass off tasks instead of decline and do it myself.  I have had to settle for “good enough” instead of “perfect” when it comes to my house cleanliness.

So no, this pregnancy is so very far from what I desired and dreamt about but it is absolutely everything I need in my life right now.  It’s so easy for me to get wrapped up in accomplishing everything alone, I’m an independent person through and through.  This year has been a full year of struggling with my health and it’s taken this pregnancy for me to let go of the guilt and disappointment of it all.  Of my health plummeting and with it my weight increasing and activity decreasing, of not being able to accomplish everything I want to each day because of pain and exhaustion, of struggling financially because I can’t work over full time like I did in 2015.  I’m letting it all go and embracing the community of people that surrounds me that desires to help me.

We all need a community to lean on and I’m so very thankful for mine.