Spring has Sprung

Ah, can you tell I’m back to work? The silence here is telling of life these days.

Stress, worry, stress, and worry.

When that happens I retreat into a shell, only tackling what absolutely must be done (and cleaning, always cleaning because that I CAN control).

With the longest winter ever, returning back to work, figuring out child care, a jobless and very stressed husband, [trying] to pay bills and buy groceries, health problem after health problem for each member of our family, and a baby who is having separation anxiety I have been dealing with my own mental health.  For a while there I was scared that I was actually starting to truly be depressed.  I noticed the signs of anxiety, the feelings of hopelessness and loss of control, the inability to control my thought processes.  There were several times I thought about making a doctors appointment – our physician is a strong advocate for mental health and screens for it with every visit, sometimes discreetly and other times bluntly but I have ALWAYS appreciated that.  With every snowfall I felt the pressure more and more, and I began to understand why many people struggle in the winter months.  I also began to understand why it’s important to get outside, stay active, and eat healthy in every season – something I DID NOT do this winter.

Anyways, with the much anticipated change in weather I feel the fog lifting, the anxiety dissipating, and my thoughts focused less on the negatives and much more on the positives.  With the changes in my mental clarity I am also beginning to make and implement plans to get healthier because that is also something I can control.

Frankly I’ve been wondering if this day would come again, I’ve thought about it often. About how my desire and passion for healthy living was put to the side as I dealt with a very difficult 1.5-2 years of health issues and then a complicated pregnancy and finally the recovery from that pregnancy and [ungraceful] transition to a mother of two.  Even my love of cooking had faded and I really only cooked out of necessity.  I still tried to eat balanced and definitely stuck to my convictions with feeding my children.  We still mainly eat fresh food but our budget has shrunk drastically and so the quality of food we can afford has also suffered as a result.  Since I have such strong feelings about food I have really struggled to want to cook or eat the food we can afford to buy.  I realize that fresh is always better than processed but it’s still been a significant struggle for me and has had a huge impact on my motivation to live a healthier lifestyle.

Having said all that, I feel as though I am finally in a place that I can start to make some small changes for my health.  I’m not making any grande plans that will be hard to keep with but something I do want to eventually end up doing is following the Autoimmune Protocol.  I don’t think I can implement it all in one shot but I am going to try and implement it little by little.  I also hope to get more active – walk A LOT, stretch and maybe get some other simple strengthening exercises in.  I’m at a disadvantage right now because I’m having some major back issues but hopefully it all clears up quickly and doesn’t affect me long term so I can get going! Something else I need to get back to doing is seeing my chiropractor – I was lucky enough to find an incredible chiropractor before getting pregnant with Eden but with such a hard pregnancy and very limited finances I had to stop going but I know I need to start up again soon.

You also know that gardening season has begun and so that is a major source of mental health for me and I’m so excited for this years garden.  I’ll be sure to post about it often!

Did you struggle this winter? Give me some simple healthy changes you think I should be implementing! I’m all ears!

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??

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.

 

Loving Myself

  
Almost two years ago I had reached the lowest weight of my adult (and I think adolescent life) and I felt great! Fast forward through returning to work, several stressful situations, poor tracking of food and supreme lack of activity and now my most current health issues and I am 20 lbs heavier and not feeling great at all.

It’s not all about the weight, although I’d like to lose at least 10-15lbs of what I’ve gained, it’s more about how I feel BECAUSE of the weight.  It’s thoughts that go through my head, the discouragement I feel because I feel like I’ve failed myself.  Today I spent a full day on myself, learning to love myself the way I am, learning to be comfortable in my own skin despite what the scale says.

The thing is, is that I’ve gained the weight and punished myself by not allowing myself to buy clothes that I feel comfortable in.  The clothes I wear are wearable but definitely not comfortable and I kept promising myself that once I lost some weight then I’d be able to buy a few more items of clothing.  It’s been several months with no budging on the scale (I haven’t been trying at all), and although I do intend to change that in the next few months I am done punishing myself.  This morning I spent the entire morning just browsing the mall, trying on clothes and being so intentional with what I purchased.  Only a few items and only things that I was absolutely comfortable wearing.  I was so exhausted by the end of it but I came home excited about those items and ready to take on the next few months of intentional eating and activity.

After I returned home I decided that instead of driving to pick up Ezekiel from the Dayhome that I would walk the 2.7 km to get him.  It was so nice to just walk alone, contemplating life and enjoying the gorgeous weather.  We walked slowly back home stopping at the store and stopping to let him explore the flowers, trees, ants and anything else he was curious about.  I’m sore all over and I’m more tired than I’ve been in a while but I’m satisfied knowing that today I’ve taken one step closer to loving myself as I am.

Two summers ago I got in the habit of a daily walk or two usually at least 4-5 km in length and that’s really all I did for activity but that’s all it took to make me feel well.  I intend to get back to that place, of course daily walks on a 12hr work day aren’t going to be possible but the days in between will be full of walks and taking time out of the day for activity instead of worrying about the house and the laundry.