The Tapering

It has begun! Yesterday I chopped up my 40mg Viibryd tablets into halves and quarters to take 30mg for the next two weeks. It’s been something I’ve been planning since a little before Christmas. 

Around the beginning of December I read Kelly Brogan’s “A Mind of Your Own” and became obsessed with the idea of weaning myself off of my antidepressant medication for the benefit of my 8-month-old breastfeeding son and myself, for our long-term health. …But I went about it the wrong way.

 I hadn’t yet adjusted my diet, or gotten rid of the number of toxins in my environment or those that had built up in my system. I went straight from 40mg to 20mg having cut my tablets in half after deciding on a whim, halfway through Brogan’s book, that I was just gonna go for it (she doesn’t recommend doing that, by the way.) Within three days of trying this schedule I had a major meltdown. I woke up on the fourth day so weepy, upset and self-consumed that I was afraid to stay alone at home with my son. My husband suggested that I call one of my best friends, Jackson’s godmother, to ask her for advice. She has an amazing inner life and often acts as my spiritual director (though she doesn’t really know that). 

She said that I needed to set myself up for success… which made me think about how often I set myself up for failure, this time included. She asked me what I thought God wanted me to do just for today, and she reminded me that God doesn’t want me unconsolably upset (I saw myself as having to embrace redemptive suffering of a self-flagellation type degree), but that He wants me to be at peace. I wasn’t yet able to handle the tapering because I jumped right in without a game plan. I felt relieved, as if she had given me permission to take my meds for the day without feeling like a failure. I went back to the drawing board (which is kind of unusual for a spur-of-the-moment, impatient person like me… but I was willing to try anything.)

So I sat down and literally made a game plan. What were potential obstacles? What was my toxic thinking surrounding it? Who would be on my support team? My medical team? How much would the doctor’s visits costs? How would I raise the money? What if I had a breakdown? I tried to visualize a worst case scenario, and then gathered people around me to prepare for the transition. I felt like this was a solid foundation to begin with. 


I posted Facebook Live videos documenting the journey, just to have the moral support of a community backing my decision. There’s nothing like the inertia of friends cheering you on to stick with the hard times.  I drastically altered my diet for over 2 months, cutting out all gluten, sugar, dairy, and processed foods. I threw away all synthetic or toxicant products in my house — makeup, cleaners, dish soap, over the counter medication, toiletries. I dyed my hair with henna to avoid the temptation of continuing to color it blonde (more toxicants). Everything I ate — and my family ate — was now antibiotic-, pesticide-, and GMO-free; all animal products local, pasture-raised and grass fed. I replaced all over the counter medications with essential oils, and started using them to take care of my health holistically (body, mind, emotions and spirit). The more I learned and absorbed, the more I believed it was possible. 

Life, however, didn’t stop in the midst of my personal transformation. This was happening during Christmastime, folks! And I have a very busy (and darling) 8 month old! To implement all of these changes and hold fast to them has taken me a couple of months, and during this time I knew it wouldn’t be right to attempt tapering again. I did more research about how to correctly do so — did I need an overseeing MD? A psychiatrist? A compounding pharmacy? — or could I do this myself with the right support system?

The answer ended up being the latter. Using a compounding pharmacy to redo the Viibryd into tapering doses would’ve cost me over $200 PER PRESCRIPTION.  As I knew most psychiatrists are still behind in the psyhoneuralimmunology field, unlike Kelly Brogan, I knew I didn’t want to involve a “regular” psychiatrist. I needed someone who would see me as a whole: body, mind and spirit. I prayed often for God to heal me, believe that He would, and that He would provide me with the right resources for this journey. 

And He has. It has been nothing short of miraculous. 

Firstly, I followed the advice of people in my circle who were already thriving. I wanted to emulate the people around me who had what I wanted: life and life abundant. These women were financially sound, competent, confident, radiantly beautiful, unique, healthy in every aspect. This isn’t to say they don’t have struggles, but they know how to handle them. Every one of them remind me of the Proverbs 31 woman in their own way. I took all of their advice and stuck close to them, like a little girl looking up to her big sisters. I don’t regret following their footsteps one bit. The path I was trying to forge on my own just wasn’t getting me where I wanted to be. 

That said, a friend of mine challenged me to complete the Oola wheel and set goals for success, focusing on the areas in my life that are out of balance. It took me a couple of tries and some serious self-discipline to actually sit down and do the damn thing, but I am so glad I did. I finally got to-do’s down in my planner and accomplished them. There’s just something to be said about scheduling what you want to get done. It allows you to hold yourself accountable. 

My first rough draft. The OCD in me would never let this fly for the finished product.

My Oola wheel was way out of whack, by the way. Finance was pretty low, which wasn’t surprising to me. As an entrepreneur who owns a seasonal business, my finances are just not where I want them to be long term and the way things are going isn’t sustainable. I was also low in fitness. Fitness doesn’t just mean going to the gym; it’s a rank of your overall health, from sleep to hydration to stretching and stress relief. I was grateful to write down what my long term goals were for each Oola category — the 7 F’s: finance, family, faith, fitness, fun, field, and friends. Little by little I made progress. 

When I felt closer to achieving the safety net I had set out to create, found a doctor who would work with me and the right products and friends to help me heal along the way, I went for it. It’s never really going to be the right time. I kept wondering if I should wait for this, or that, or until this appointment passes, etc. But that’s just procrastination fueled by fear. God was gently tugging at me as he does. I did it scared. 

So as it goes, the full dose is still in my system for at least 4 days or so. Yesterday I felt the same, except I finally slept. For the past couple of weeks this nervous energy and insomnia has had me in its grips. Every night for as long as my hubs can remember I’ve twisted my feet restlessly while falling asleep. It’s comforting to me; terribly irritating to him. I sleep with my shoulders up by my ears, which has no doubt contributed to the TMJ I suffer from. I wake up regularly at 3am, and nights that I can’t shut my brain down I am in and out of bed to nurse my son (who most likely would stay asleep if his mama’s warm body was asleep next to his) between journaling or reading. It’s just been restless. 

I attribute this to my lifestyle changes and that the dose of Viibryd I needed to work therapeutically before said changes was now too high. Sure enough, last night I finally slept soundly with little to no interruptions (I still have a nursing and teething baby after all). I remember, longingly, the last time I took myself off of all meds enjoying the deepest, most relaxing sleep of my life. The daytime drama of my uncontrollable emotions wasn’t worth the blissful sleep, so I tapered back up (but kept myself off of Adderall and Wellbutrin), so I’m really looking forward to embracing that sleep state again. 

Lastly, another oily friend of mine specializes in the emotional release of stored memories that can create physical repercussions. It shouldn’t sound strange to me; when my stepdad died at age 14 my body reacted first with deep mental anguish, depression and then mononeucleosis. I missed months of school and remember my mom having to wake me up to eat. It wasn’t just a typical malady; something had manifested into this desperately weakened state. I knew it even back then. My mental, spiritual and emotional weakness led to that of a weakened physical state. 

So I bought this book that she referenced at a group get together we were at once. I remember thinking they were all nuts. But here we are, a year later, and I am drinking the Kool-aid. This book is unbelievable (don’t judge it by its cover). We don’t have time during this post to get into all of the nitty gritty, but there is  one very interesting aspect about what I learned today from author Carolyn Mein that I want to share. 


I mentioned that I drastically changed my diet. Kelly Brogan puts a big emphasis on this — she won’t even see a patient for a second time until they’ve done her specified elimination/detox diet for one month. Now that I’ve been doing it for two months I can genuinely say there will be no going back for me. My body would just balk at that decision. When I was meal planning I started wondering if maybe there was a diet specific to my ancestry that I could create… after all, I did do a 23andMe DNA analysis and could start with specific cultures of the largest groups I identified with (I’m not gonna lie, I started with my 0.2% West African heritage to pick recipes from because I think that’s badass). I didn’t get very far with this planning because it was a bit overwhelming, but I knew I was on to something. Based on my genetic expression there had to be a diet that works for me and people like me.

So back to Carolyn Mein. She states that there are 25 different body types with personality profiles that require unique nutritional and exercise needs as determined by the dominant gland, organ or system of your body. Each body type tends to have core emotional issues; specific strengths and weaknesses; and predispositions to certain dietary and lifestyle triggers that just don’t jive with their chemistry. So there’s a Blood body type, Eye body type, Stomach, Spleen, Skin… you get the picture. 

That said, I have a Heart body type which seems rather appropriate. You can read about me here. Another celebrity Heart was Mae West, who, after Googling her, I have to admit I take after in body shape, height and even facial symmetry. How bizarre is that?

And get this, y’all. All of the food that I, 1) have never really liked (like garbanzo beans or any type of alcohol), or  2) I’ve been addicted to at some point (like sugar, bread, and ice cream), but that inevitably make me feel like crap afterward, are on the Heart dietary recommendation to eat seldomly. This doesn’t sound too shocking to you, surely, because everyone should avoid those things, right? Except when I identified my husband’s body type the foods he has never really liked were on his list as well — things like mustard, sugar and broccoli. When he indulges in those things it just puts his body (and mind!) out of whack. And he’s much more in tune with his body than I am mine — my body will tell me it doesn’t like ice cream, but I’ll say “shut up body” and eat an entire pint, ya feel me? He just intuitively knows to avoid those things.

And get this: the different body types have core emotional issues that are characteristically challenging for them, i.e. Mae West and I probably faced some similar difficulties in our lives. The Heart tends to struggle with loneliness, a not good enough mindset and worry which I can definitely vouch for (versus another group’s like “anger, failure, losing, inferiority” which are not predominant struggles of mine). The entire point of the book is about emotional release using essential oils, so it is essential (heh heh) to pinpoint these underlying problems in order to treat them. More on this later as I really get into the nitty gritty and have successfully used her recommendations. 

I mean, really, God. Thank you for placing this right in my lap, right when I need it, and right at the time I am open minded enough to accept it. It was so validating, eye-opening and very, very exciting. You are not a victim of your biology. You are a bespoke being, and through tapping into the Young Living community I have found others who can lead me to how I can create my own bespoke lifestyle. I’ve said it once already, but it really is truly miraculous. 

So, I will continue to update you all as the tapering unfolds. I really do feel very optimistic about the game plan and outcome. There’s a confident peace about it, which is what my friends-I-look-up-to describe to me as necessary in order to forge ahead. I hope that this gives others the confidence to pursue the changes they need to make in their lives, as scary as it first seems. The grace you need to succeed will roll out in front of you like a red carpet if you have the humility to ask for assistance. At least, that’s been my experience. 

Miserable to Miracle

Have I mentioned how much I hate being sick? I really hate being sick. I was reading a bit last night about St. Therese the “Little Flower” and how she rejoiced even in her illness.. which meant at 3am when I am wallowing in self-pity, thinking I’m dying (with my poor little head cold), I am not too impressed with my own walk toward sainthood. I wish I was one of those people who could suck it up.

Well, now that I’m a mom I have become much less vocal about my suffering and I have learned to suck it up… more so than before motherhood, anyway. I get out of bed even when I don’t want to. I make meals. I smile and make funny voices for my son, even when I don’t feel like being funny. I bathe him and love him and try to comfort him more than myself. It’s difficult and uncomfortable but it feels so good and rewarding, like the right thing to do.

My health journey with oils has continually progressed in this beautiful, exuberant unfolding of everything I’ve ever looked for. Wow, that’s quite a sentence, but it’s 100% true. It’s been slow and steady, filled with self-doubt and learning curves, but God has provided every step of the way to calm my yearning soul.

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I don’t know who this is, but her soul looks calm.

Flash back to 3am, the wallowing in self-pity scene. I can’t breath and my whole head hurts. I am desperate for anything to alleviate my pain but am wholeheartedly committed to not regressing back to OTC pain relievers and toxic “bandaids”. I am searching for the root and the cure. That said, it still really sucks. I find myself thinking “are these oils really working?”

I roll out of bed and sniffle down to the shower where I run the hottest water I can all over my head. This is my third shower for the day. I allow myself to moan and wail, like how I did during childbirth. Somehow releasing the energy vocally after repressing it all day (because “no one likes a moaner”, literally, right?) feels right. I’m pressing all of my sinus points, lifting up my cheek fat, pushing things toward lymphatic drainage. The damned blocked nose thing, right between my eyes, just isn’t budging.

So, I kid you not, I say aloud “Be healed in the name of Jesus” about seven times. Actually, who really knows how many times, I wasn’t counting. The only light in my bathroom is a tiny nightlight with a blown glass cross in front of it, and I half expect it to start flickering. I open my eyes under the stream because I feel afraid.

Yes, adults can apparently still be afraid of the dark. And demonic stuff.

“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty”

1 Corinthians 1:27

We’re out of towels so I bundle myself in my huge terry cloth robe and wear Jackson’s white, hooded lamb towel to cover my wet hair, which feels appropriate. When I go to get a drink of water, all of our cups are dirty so I use a bowl, which makes me think of Jesus drinking from the well with the Samaritan woman. The clean mug that I do find has photos of roses adorning it, reminding me of Mary the Mystical Rose.

You get it, right? I am just covered by God. He will heal me. He is here with me. It may sound foolish to those of the world, but those with Kingdom Eyes who are reading this know what I’m talking about. None of this is coincidental.

I lay down on my couch and fill first my left ear with Hydrogen Peroxide while I sip on my oily hot toddy (3 drops of Copaiba, 5 drops Lemon, hot water and tonight I skipped the honey). I lay there for probably five minutes, listening to the gentle bubbles. Just like that I feel the pressure in my cheeks alleviating, and the huge blockade from in between my eyebrows finally gives in as I move a giant piece of gunk out. HALLELUJAH. This feels like progress. I switch sides. I inhale the steam from my mug which kind of burns my nostrils. I have Frankincense smeared all over my upper lip and nose since I’ve rubbed the skin raw with all of my nose blowing.

I’ve got Deep Relief on the back of my neck, and I feel it doing something that I can’t quite put my finger on. My oily friends have told me Deep Relief penetrates all the way down to the bone, to which I rolled my eyes and scoffed “Yeah right.” But as I feel it sink into my skin, after the initial icy Tiger Balm tingly feeling, I feel something deep in my face and neck and jaw — the same areas I’ve been battling this TMJ issue for over a year now. It’s painful. This isn’t some comfortable relieving experience. I feel like something is being drawn out. My brain and neck and face feels swollen.

I am just miserable. But this feels like progress.

The next day — today — I am exhausted and still have to do my mom duties. Jackson still has some of his sniffles so I take a friend’s advice and draw him a “detox bath”. I had already made up some bath salts for me with the same ratio of baking soda and epsom salt, using Peace & Calming and Lavender, so I used that with a ½c. of hydrogen peroxide.

Mama Moses’ Detox Bath

• 1 cup Epsom salt
• Young Living Essential Oil of your choice. We go for Purification over here, but any other mild oil would be good too, like Lavender. We do 5 drops mixed into the Epsom salt.
• 1 cup baking soda
• 1 cup hydrogen peroxide

Mix into a hot bath, and let em play. Out with the bad, in with the good!

After the bath I rub dilute RC onto his back; neat Frankincense onto his chest and Purification on his feet. We nurse and he naps. I kid you not, when he wakes up he is a different boy. Smiling, playful, all over the place.

Unfortunately, I still feel like crap.

So I message another oily friend who has been doing this much longer than me and she suggests that I visit her chiropractor, Dr. Deb, in Catoosa. I have no shits to give and nothing to lose, so I decide to use the hard-earned money I’ve scraped together to visit Dr. Deb (January is a very rough month for rose farmers, if you were wondering). I don’t regret it one bit.

Not only was she professional and knew her stuff, but she spoke Truth. She operates her business as a woman, as a believer, as a health professional, and as a trained aromatherapist. She did some muscle and reflex testing after initially talking to me to see where internally I am weak — because weakened systems, leads to weakened immunity which leads to susceptibility toward illness. Makes sense. What’s nuts is that she can tell what’s going on by stretching and counter-pressuring your arms and legs. Within minutes she had deduced that I struggle with liver, small and large intestinal issues — which clinicians have determined as well, but I knew intuitively already from my lifestyle.

What’s interesting, however, is that I told her about my experience with Deep Relief and the strange thing that happened with the full-swollen feeling. She noted that pesticides are often stored within bone tissue, and particularly in the facial area, so when using something like Deep Relief on bony areas, detox is likely to occur. When I reflected on it, this is exactly what it felt like. Like something was being exhumed from the deepest layers within my head. It was uncomfortable but felt like progress, and I was right. There is no scientific way to convince any of you reading about what was happening — just like there is no proof that I can offer you about saying aloud “Be healed in the name of Jesus” in my shower. But I can testify that both things were effective and exactly what my body, mind and soul needed.

We in America are so used to having doctors prescribe us something for the symptoms that are ailing us. I thought that she would do some adjustments on my face, try to alleviate some of the sinus pressure, recommend Eucalyptus oil. I was dead wrong. She gave me homework to work on specific neurolymphatic points that correlate with ailing internal systems, and corresponding oils that will aid in their repair. Lots of DiGize, Lemon, Purification and Peppermint was recommended.

We also talked a bit about emotional release as I mentioned my plan to taper off of antidepressants. She too echoed my friend Laura about inner strength, remaining calm and reminding me that God tells us not to be anxious. She said “Don’t approach this from a place of desperation, but a place of confidence and peace. When you let in desperation, you let in strife which undoes peace and causes chaos.” She’s not wrong, and I am guilty of doing so. And it does wreak havoc in my life. Peace is always the better path to walk.

I’ve been wanting to read and use Carolyn Mein’s book “Releasing Emotional Patterns with Essential Oils” but haven’t had the skrilla to buy in through Amazon recently. Dr. Deb had a copy in her clinic and generously gifted it to me, mentioning that our mutual friend Sara had been good to her and that she was inspired by Sara’s generosity to also pay it forward. I was very, very grateful. Remember that book “Waking the Tiger” I recommended a month or so ago? It echoes the same sentiments in Carolyn Mein’s book, that we are deeply connected to underlying emotions we don’t even know exist but that our senses can help us release those emotions. Everything has just so beautifully coincided along this journey. It’s not only about the oils, it’s about upping positive affirmations, reducing toxic thinking, using sight, smell, sound, taste and touch to ameliorate our emotional, mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. We are whole creatures. We should treat our whole systems.

This isn’t some hippie woo woo stuff; this is knowledge that every man and woman should have and employ if they want life in abundance.

Speaking of positive affirmations, she reminded me that God has a specific plan of prosperity for me. That I am valuable, and that what I have to offer to the world is of value. I really needed to hear that.

By the way, did I mention I went to see her to treat my cold?

Lastly, she had me do an iTovi scan, something I was so psyched about because all of my oily friends know what it is and how it works and I know little to nothing about it. Who doesn’t love to get feedback about themselves though? That’s why we all indulge in those silly Facebook quizzes, and answer questions about what type of donuts we like to see if Tasty can actually guess what age we are. We all want to believe, learn and feel known.

I’m not going to get into the science behind the iTovi because you can do the research on your own (and I’ll do a really crappy job of explaining it). But basically it reads electrical signals to see what your body is lacking and suggests whatever products may aid in helping you reach wellness… and I’m not only talking physically, because once again, I fully expected to see suggestions for supplements or vitamins, especially because I’m sick. It reads you as a whole being, where your body and brain and emotions.

I was floored by my results.

Now, I haven’t had much time to look into why I have “107 unresolved biopoints” or what that means. This appointment just happened a couple of hours ago, and I have an 8 month old. So I can’t answer those questions yet. What really matters to me, though, is that the oils recommended correspond exactly to where I am in life right now. How could this machine possibly know this? Is this real science? Do I need to know how it works in order to believe in it? What could iTovi — or Dr. Deb — gain by fooling me with fake results? Neither of them are making money off of these oils that came up. Once again, I simply choose to relish the mystery (much like what we as Catholics have to do when approaching the Eucharist), accept that some things are out of my comprehension, and believe.

What did it recommend?

Firstly, the oil blend Dream Catcher. This complex blend includes Royal Hawaiian sandalwood, Tangerine (one of my personal favorites), Ylang ylang, Pepper, Bergamot, Anis, Juniper, Geranium, Blue cypress, Davana, Jasmine, Matricaria, Blue tansy, Rose, Grapefruit, Spearmint, Lemon and Ocotea oils… all which sound heavenly to me. But what are Dream Catcher’s intended uses? It stimulates the emotional centers of the brain, awakening creative thoughts and enhancing dreams and visualizations… it promotes greater potential for realizing your dreams and staying on your path. It also protects from negative thoughts and dreams that might cloud your vision… all things I have consistently struggled with throughout my lifetime.

Secondly, the oil blend Transformation. Lemon, Peppermint, Royal Hawaiian sandalwood, Clary, Sacred frankincense, Idaho blue spruce, Cardamom, Ocotea and Palo santo. These don’t sound as appealing to me… but when I read the purpose of Transformation, I understood why. It’s about recovering from trauma and tragedy, not something many of us look forward to working with. The pocket guide reference says “Memories are imprinted in our cells for better or worse. Stored negative emotions need to be replaced with joy, hope and courage. Transformation blend radiates with purifying oils and the revitilizing power of sesquiterpenes, anchors new mental programming and reaches into the deepest recesses of memory. It empowers and upholds the changes you want to make in your belief system. Positive, uplifting beliefs are foundation for the transformation of behavior.”

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? WHAT WITCHCRAFT IS THIS? Have not all of my blog posts been all about these things?! Is this not exactly the trajectory my life path is on right now?

And lastly, as these things go, it recommended Rose. You need to understand that the Rose follows me around. As a Catholic, the rose is intrinsically connected with mother Mary and many saints. I feel like my life was renewed through roses, my rose business, five years ago, and ever since they just kind of float around me, in patterns on clothes, art in restaurants, funny overhead conversations and even smells. The rose surrounds my entire life and has for a handful of years now. Actually, one of my fondest memories from childhood is taking roses from Dr. Pickard’s rose garden — our across the street neighbor — to give to my mom. But that’s a story for another time.

So, I know this blog post has been long and picture-less, but I hope it imparted the energy that I am currently buzzing in. I am happy to report that I can breathe through my nose and not currently in any pain. The cold is still there in the background, but nothing like 3am this morning. This too shall pass. The virus must run its course. But isn’t it amazing and beautiful how, out of pain, distress or discomfort new fruits can come into season? When God places these things in our life they are always for our good. He wills our good, even when it doesn’t feel good. My heart is overflowing with gratitude and hope. This journey is beautiful.


On a closing note, I was googling different words to find just a couple pictures to scatter throughout this post, because seriously who likes reading block paragraphs without a visual break every now and then? …I googled “Christ’s miracles” and found this amazing photo of a shrine called  Lord Holy Christ of Miracles in Portugal. The photo just spoke to me.

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Dr. Mama, Day 3

Well, a virus is still a virus and must run its course. I start with this because in my new exuberance with oils for some reason I thought all I had to do was use the oils and elderberry syrup and Jackson would be cured within hours. The same happens when you’ve prayed for something diligently and you’re sure that it’s going to come through and for whatever reason it’s not in God’s timing even though it’s in yours.

I spoke to a friend this morning who has been using Young Living essential oils for over 10 years. She is also a Dr. Mama. “Be confident in the tools that you have and listen to the Father,” she reminded me. “He told us to ‘be anxious for nothing’ – rest and believe.”


And anxious I was! I was actually telling Jackson that I missed him. This persistently upset, weepy, irritable baby was just so out of character for him. We were both just so miserable. 

But, her words really hit home — I was a nervous wreck, doubting my intuition and the path I had chosen. She reminded me that J could feel everything I was carrying around: doubt, anxiety, restlessness. Do those sound like healing words? No. Because they’re not. 

As I’ve had some less than pleasant and/or reassuring visits with MDs throughout my life, she had to remind me that it’s not a bad idea (or a failure) to go a doctor for diagnostic purposes even if you don’t take given recommendations of medication. For example, it’s good to know when something is viral or bacterial. She cautioned me though not to go to the doctor out of fear, but out of confidence. I am sure and certain that this is a viral infection that has been floating around, but I also want to be vigilant that it doesn’t turn into something really nasty. I didn’t yet feel like a doctor’s visit was necessary, but we both agreed that it was time to pull out the big oily guns. 

 As I am new to the game, the only other oil I have aside from those that come in the starter kit is Peace & Calming, and I had already run out of my lemon and lavender EOs. As my friend lives in Texas, she sent her nearby mom (also a YLEO user for 10+ years) over with backup: the raindrop essentials and lemon vitality. Thank you oily friends who are there in times of desperate need.

My friend then gave me a couple of tips from her experience — remedies that she has used on infants, let alone an 8-month-old,  and assured me are 100% safe.

 First, Raindrop Therapy on his feet. As I mentioned in my last post I apply oils neat to his feet — even “hot” oils – with no negative repercussions. Raindrop is a technique that Gary Young created that is full of serious benefits. You can Google it for more information as my blog posts already tend to be miles long, but let’s just summarize it by saying it works. You are essentially layering EOs (typically along the spine on adults) in a particular order, waiting about 3 minutes between each oil. 


The first oil in the process is a YL proprietary blend called Valor. I had heard a lot about this oil and was excited just to smell it let alone use it. To me it smelled like candy… like something I’d been missing my whole life. Like the essence of sweet. But it’s not actually a sweet smell. Valor is made up of Spruce, Rosewood, Blue Tansy and Frankincense oils. Not only is it therapeutic in the Raindrop therapy on a biophysical level, but it is also beneficial for the emotions and nerves. It’s calming, uplifting, encouraging. You’ll just have to sniff for yourself to understand what I mean. 

From Valor (and this blog post is NOT MEANT as a guide on how to do a Raindrop treatment!) you then layer Oregano, Thyme, Basil, Cypress, Marjoram, Wintergreen, Peppermint and lastly another blend called Aroma Siez. 

So as I layered the oils over a 30min. period on J’s feet, we read and nursed. He fell asleep by Marjoram. 

I should mention at this point I am also starting to feel a little unwell… you know, that scary scratchy throat feeling? After reading about all of these oils in my pocket reference guide I decided to use Aroma Siez, neat, on my neck. Immediately a warmth spread over my throat and the scratchy feeling when I swallowed was gone. What is in this magic? Basil, marjoram, lavender, peppermint, and cypress essential oils. I’m in love. 


I followed up with Mama B’s non-alcoholic Hot Toddie (recipe below) and am happy to report a general sense of wellbeing. Is that to say I won’t still get sick? Who knows, my sick baby has been sneezing and coughing and drooling on me for three days now. But the discomfort has, for now, been alleviated, and I know the oils are working on my behalf to reestablish homeostasis, so regardless, it’s a win. 

 Mama B’s (Non-Alcoholic) Hot Toddie

1Tb raw, organic honey (local is preferred)

2 drops Lemon Vitality essential oil

2 drops Copaiba essential oil

8oz. hot water 

Stir and drink up!

I have also been applying Frankincense neat to J’s chest as he’s dealing with a cough, and I took him before tonight’s mass to be anointed with oil by the priest (Sacrament of Anointing the Sick). Can you say #ALLTHEOILS? I love that my faith incorporates such a tangible mode of healing. My eyes teared up as the visiting priest made the oily symbol of the cross across J’s forehead. I just was flooded with belief that he would be healed. 

Fast forward to about 7pm when J takes a random before-bedtime nap. The Raindrop oils were applied around 3pm. When he wakes up at 8:30pm or so, my boy is back. He is crawling around, happy. His eyes are no longer weepy and red. He still is leaking snot, with a slight cough but nothing like the condition he was in throughout the day. He just looks well. Better. I am a believer. 

Lastly I should mentioned that my friend also recommended making EO rectal suppositiories using coconut oil. I remember my dad — Dr. Bob, an OB/GYN-midwife beloved by his community — storing Phenergan suppositories in our fridge anytime someone became super nauseas, so this wasn’t an outlandish idea to me. Also, I had just got done reading in the pocket reference the same suggestion, especially for women with yeast infections or UTI’s. It is the quickest uptake route to get the chemical constituents of the essential oils into your blood stream. We haven’t had to go there yet, but I thought I’d mention it without any apprehension of using it in the future. 

While we’re on the rectal topic, I’d also like to add that ever since beginning this oil regimen with Jackson his BM’s have been much more smoother and regular. J has dealt with gas problems since birth, which I attribute to my taking Viibryd during pregnancy and while breastfeeding which has gastrointestinal side effects (that don’t affect me). At first the gas got worse before it got better.. but then he was obviously eliminating some stuff that had been backed up for awhile. We went from one seriously thick poop every 5ish days to three normal looking poops within a 2 day span. Do I have scientific proof for you? No. But a mama just knows when something has changed in their baby, and why. 

So that’s my oily update. Sometimes the oils you have in your arsenal aren’t enough. And sometimes the knowledge you have also just isn’t enough. That’s why I also love Young Living — it comes with an oily sisterhood that reminds me of something from primal times, where women aided one another with their folk remedies, plant tinctures and well-living suggestions. This is a healthy, prospering community that genuinely cares about one another. Seriously, her mom came over and brought me like $300 worth of oils to borrow to help heal my son. That’s trust, that’s commitment, that’s sacrifice, love and faith. My heart and my body felt healed today. I refuse to move forward in doubt and anxiety any further. I am accepting and submitting to total belief. What an exciting journey! 

Dr. Mama To the Rescue!

My sweet 8-month-old has come down with a tiny cold, and I feel wholly equipped to handle it with my new oily arsenal and homemade elderberry syrup. I’ve been seeing FB statuses that all of my friend’s little ones have been sick recently, so I had time to prepare myself. After one hellacious night last night, I kicked it into full Dr. Mama B gear:

Mama B took one (preventative) tablespoon of elderberry syrup. Jackson gets 1tsp. every 2-3 hours that he’s symptomatic. 

We are diffusing Young Living’s Purification blend in our bedroom. It contains citronella, lemongrass, lavandin, rosemary, tea tree and myrtle essential oils which includes naturally occurring therapeutic compounds like cineol, neral and geranium. Do a PubMed.gov search for yourself to see research on how these compounds benefit the health. #science #plantmagic

As that diffuses we take a 20-30min hot shower together. This is just so sweet because Jackson rests his face against my breast as I rock and sway under the water. . We both nearly fall asleep. But that would be dangerous so instead we bundle up in my giant terry cloth robe and head to bed. We also gently mine for boogies at this time to avoid the angst over digging out hardened ones later.

I put one drop of Thieves, neat (undiluted) on the bottom of J’s feet, and cover with socks. This is at every Dr. Mama’s own descretion as some kiddos skin is much more sensitive than others, and Thieves has been known as a “hot” blend. For us, one drop neat on the feet has never caused any adverse reactions. Thieves contains clove, lemon peel, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus radiata (did you know there’s like 6 different types of therapeutic-grade Eucalyptus YL essential oils??), and rosemary essential oils. PubMed the crap out of all of those chemical constituents. Here are some keywords if you’re a research buff: eugenol, beta-caryophyllene, l-limonene, trans-cinnamaldehyde, alpha-pinene.

Lastly, when the teething, fever and cold symptoms overcome him and he’s so upset he can’t sleep even though we’re ALL exhausted: Peace & Calming and/or Copaiba to the rescue. I use one smidge of Copaiba neat on his gumline where the new teeth are pushing through OR I use a calendula oil base and a couple of drops of Peace & Calming and massage his back and chest as he nurses and drifts off (Dr. Mama then rubs the rest onto her chest because who doesn’t need more peace and calming when they’re a mama?) One of these two solutions is bound to work. 

I actually just created a Peace & Calming-Lavender bath soak the other day using 2 cups of Epsom Salts and 1 cup of baking soda, with a couple drops of both EOs. As the tub is filling I sprinkle a ½ cup in. Jackson laid on my belly and nursed throughout the duration of the hot bath while it was snowing the other day. Is there anything warmer for the insides? Simply divine. 

Another trick of mine is gentle tapping on J’s forehead, chest or belly. When he’s crying uncontrollably the forehead tap works best (right between his eyes). It just snaps him out of it and gently lulls him back into a calm state. Roger him to go back to sleep after stirring I gently pat pat the belly; for fast breathing and an inability to sit still I tap his chest. I know it sound strange, but it works. 

We also cut back on J’s solid food intake and exclusively breast feed for a few days so his body doesn’t have to do any extra work to process food and can solely focus on recovering. We offer him filtered water regularly which he’ll drink deeply from when thirsty. And lastly we try to keep stimulation to a minimum. Low lights, low sounds, staying indoors with quiet toys or books. No movies, music, visitors, etc etc. 

This tends to work for us to beat the cold blues in minimum time with minimum symptoms. What do you do in your house? 

Epiphany

This past year was the year of great mercy and favor shown to me by God. I completed RCIA and became Catholic; I had my healthy, 10lb. baby boy at home (who was baptized a few months after); I found and fell in love with a parish that is 2 miles from home; the Lord blessed me with many new, lasting and healthy friendships; He helped me reclaim my health and my purpose; He led me to true nourishment and vitality. Yes, there were ups and downs in 2015, but overall my heart is rejoicing. There were just too many overwhelmingly beautiful occasions synchronized within my life last year to write them off as coincidences. Indeed, the Lord showed favor to His lowly servant. 

As I begin 2016 I find myself flooded with intense creative energy… the kind that makes staying asleep at 3am hard. I have so much to look forward to that the work feels easy. I no longer feel like I’m drowning in life, being drug under by the waves and barely staying afloat. I truly feel the life abundant that He promises to all of His children. 

As I was contemplating the Joyful Rosary, I had to pause at the idea of the third Joyful Mystery, the birth of Jesus. I mean, really, step back from the tired tropes you’ve been told since childhood and stand in the field where the stable is. See Mary crouching as she gives birth with Joseph as her doula-midwife. See exhausted mother and baby nursing amongst the animals. See the starry sky lit up with the heavens rejoicing; the brightly cloaked angels appearing to the shepherds as they leave their flocks to see an infant child in a feeding trough. Just when you thought it couldn’t get more surreal, these three exotic dudes show up on camels, bejeweled and dressed to the nines, calm as cucumbers. They aren’t surprised at the scene they’re stumbling upon because they’ve prepared for this journey and sought Him out according to prophecy. They followed a star. 

No, really, stop here and imagine packing whatever you need for a journey of which the duration is unknown and crossing countries (plural) with the stars being your road map. These guys were extraordinary. They aren’t just pawns in the peg manger on your decorated countertop. They were the cherry on top of the Holy parfait. I wonder if Mary expected their reverence or their gifts. I imagine her wide-eyed with disbelief at the Lord’s fulfillment of His word. Her Fiat made flesh and being adored by these dark-skinned travelers prostrating themselves before her. Was she sweaty and covered with straw and flecks of manure or blood? What did the reality of the birth scene look like? Was she embarrassed to have visitors or did her idea of self vanish in the midst of the glory of her Son?

The first Oily 101 class I held was on the feast of the epiphany, where we celebrate the three Wise Men arriving at the nativity scene with their gifts. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned before about how God placed this calling on my heart, to learn about, use and share oils. People get so skeptical when you tell them that you’re interpreting God’s will, so I tend to keep it hush hush. Plus, He asks simple, seemingly uncorrelated things of us, the scope of which is revealed later. 

It sounds silly to say “God wouldn’t let the idea of staining my hair with henna rest for two months. I tried to say no, but I wasn’t at peace until I did it.” Or “God wanted me to use Facebook Live as a platform. I heard Him clearly and clearly said no back to Him in my insecurity. But He gently pressed on, and so I just bit the bullet and conceded.” But really, I had no interest in pursuing any MLM-based ambitions. But He wouldn’t let it rest. It was like a small child tugging softly at my shirttail, waiting for me to show it attention. When I reached out to the right person about this, she received me graciously with open arms even though doing so didn’t benefit her. She was patient with my snarky, obnoxious skepticism (“ahem, I’m not in the habit of ingesting perfume“) and her words were firm. When I would say that I didn’t want people to see me as a pushy social network marketer, she plainly said to me “Oh, that’s just fear.” It hit me like a slap in the face. It was fear. Fear of how people would perceive me, that they wouldn’t believe me, that my genuineness would be discounted as manipulation. Maybe even fear of success, of radical change. I didn’t know what I was doing or where to begin, but I know I felt that gentle tug promising me that He would provide the way and the resources. 

So, back to my first Oily 101 class. There was relatively good interest generated when I had invited people, which was exciting. No one left having purchased anything, but I believe they left feeling empowered and confident to make decisions regarding the use of quality essential oils in their lives. And the most beautiful part is that everyone hugged one another upon leaving. My friends from very different walks of life learned together, grew together and grew closer together. Strangers became acquaintances. Catholic, Protestant, black, white, young, old, mothers, wives, singles and childless. It was a beautiful, oily, anointed day. I swear I didn’t plan to host this class intentionally on Epiphany. Actually it was thrown together pretty last minute only a few days before.  

So, as I write to you at 3:35am, I can tell you that I am grateful that I answered God’s call and have the ability to feel His tiny tugs that never disturb my free will but leave me slightly restless when gone unanswered. I’ve learned not to ask why and just go with the flow. It takes so much pressure off of me… so much precious energy is conserved by poofing down into the comfy, pillowy recliner that is God’s love. He said “come to me all of you who are heavy burdened and I will give you rest,” and He delivers on that promise if you let Him. 

This doesn’t mean we have zero skin in the game. Actually, He still asks us to die to self, to put everything we have — especially the things we want to cling to most — on the line. And He also asks us to be vigilant, not lazy. We are His handmaids. He’s not going to move the puzzle pieces for us. He just puts the right pieces of the board for the picture to eventually come together. 

Fast-forward to today, when I make my first enrollment. She is a dear friend who has journeyed with me through hills and valleys, but she wasn’t purchasing oils out of pity. The sample of lavender I gave her to help combat her insomnia worked. I loaned her my diffuser and it worked even better. I told her I had some lavender about to be delivered since I had run out, and she could just have it… but when she came to pick it up, she saw the value in the Premium Starter Kit for herself. She put PanAway on her bad knee and felt relief. My message was received; my intentions succeeded. I didn’t cajole or pressure her. This was all on her own accord. My first downline sale came from the class on Epiphany, celebrating the three men that brought Jesus precious oils; us small group of Oklahoman women sitting around sniffing Frankincense. That is no coincidence. I hear you, Lord. My cup runneth over. 

 I had been quibbling over the name of my oily endeavor and still struggling to make out the path when it came to me clear as day at 1am. I started working furiously and I’m pleased with my results. I cannot wait to build others up in this pursuit. I just know it will work out. Maybe it was the boost of confidence and encouragement from my first sale. Maybe it was the satisfaction of knowing the oils actually helped her; that I’m selling something that really can change lives. After growing and selling roses on my farm for five years now it feels nice to promise and deliver a life-altering product… I mean, rose bushes can change your life for the better, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not the same thing as alleviating insomnia or chronic pain, stimulating joy or relaxation, inspiring hope by creative supportive friendships and revenue streams. My little farm couldn’t serve the needs that I saw around me in that way. The Lord knew this and provided an alternative albeit fitting route. I’m excited for you to watch how the path unfurls as my rose farm and oily endeavors intertwine. 

All this to say if you too feel that little tug on your sleeve — it could present as curiosity, perplexion, frustration, hope — reach out to me. About oils, about being a part of my team, about partnership, about new opportunities, friendships, volunteering or a book you think I’d like… I am open. God has taught me, if nothing else, to be limitlessly open. His glory has been revealed to me via open-ended surrender many times. When you have experienced that grace, you can’t help but share it with everyone else around you. 

The Green-Eyed Scotsman

Once upon a time, when I was newly 18 years old, I eloped with a 35-year-old Scottish man…

I used to tell this (true) story to elicit responses such as laughter or wide-eyed disbelief. I never thought it was a sad story until I told it to a good friend of mine last month and began to cry.

The story goes as this… when I was a junior in high school my best friend was a senior. We went to an artsy alternative school where there were no official sports teams (although there were many intense games of ultimate frisbee) and everyone wore tie-dye and walked shoeless in the halls. The teachers and the students were on friendly basis with one another. As I had traveled to Great Britain and Europe before, and as I carried myself as a mature teenager (or so they thought) and a responsible student, class president, etc. I was invited to go with my best friend and her senior English class on a trip to England over the summer. 

On one of our outings we went to Camden in London. It’s a grungy little area with open markets, pierced and dreadlocked people, cafés and other sorts of young adulthood gallivanting. It was just my style. 

Another friend of mine and I decided to seek out a cigarette and saw three guys standing outside of a pub. I have always been very brazen and had no trouble walking right up to them and asking one of them for a cigarette. His coy grin and green eyes captured me immediately. They asked us to come into the pub for a drink and my friend said that we had to return to the main group because we were expected to meet with them at a certain time. This meant nothing to me. I figured I could just go back to the hostel later and brushed her off. She left, and so, alone with these three strange men, I went into the pub.

Now, as you can see from my other posts although I was a very beautiful 18-year-old girl I didn’t realize my true beauty and was very insecure. So the fact that I have these men doting on me who thought I was exotic and stunning was thrilling. This didn’t happen back home. I felt loved, I felt sought after. Even today I recognize that they were not sexual predators. That is not the way this story goes (thank God). But after a couple drinks in the pub we decided to go back to one of their apartments just to hang out. I remember feeling so excited, like one of the guys; there was no worry in my mind… Not of being raped or killed or anything else. That’s how teenager Karen lived: extremely impulsive and always on the edge without a second of hesitation. I just know I must have had a guardian angel protecting me throughout all of these shenanigans.

We went up to the rooftop of their apartment, we played guitar in the living room, we joked and laughed and told stories. But at some point the green-eyed Scotsman and I were alone in his friend’s bedroom and he was asking my permission to proceed intimately (albeit he asked in a much more vulgar fashion.) I remember thinking to myself what a gentleman he was for asking for my permission. Out of all the scenarios like this that I’d been in previously, no one had ever out right asked my permission. He was so charming.

I ended up coming back to the London youth hostel that night way after curfew. The group of classmates and teachers that I went with from my high school English class were conservative Christians. I remember walking into the lobby and meeting one of my best friend’s teachers — the leader of the trip — who was so upset her entire face was red and tear-streaked, her eyes bulging. She thought about calling the police; she had already called my mother. She was absolutely, frantically worried sick about me. “What did my mom say?” I asked her nonplussed. She balked at me, “She said that you would be back.” My mom knew me and my adventuresome spirit well. I said “Well, here I am” shrugging my shoulders and then went upstairs to my room. I think I might’ve offered her a simplistic apology, or maybe even an excuse. …But I didn’t feel deep contrition. Certainly not what should’ve been merited now that I look back in hindsight. She loved and trusted me, she cared about me and my well-being. And I trampled all over her concern.

The next morning I remember standing off to the side of the group of other classmates, none of whom I knew well. They were talking about how they would all save themselves for marriage. I didn’t understand this concept. When one of them, kind of the ringleader, said that she would never do anything with a man outside of marriage she looked over at me and sneered. Then all of the other girls followed suit. I rolled my eyes and cast them off as judgmental Bible thumpers. I was as disgusted with them as they were with me.

Fast forward a few days, when the green-eyed Scotsman was returning to his home Edinburgh. We, meanwhile, had traveled up to the Lake District, near the Scottish border and a small group of the classmates wanted to branch off and visit Scotland for a couple days and then return to the main group. My best friend was thrilled at this prospect; she loves cultures, anthropology, and particularly that of Scotland. She had been looking forward to this for months — it was her senior graduation trip after all. I didn’t tell them that my green-eyed Scotsman was there, but acted wholly interested in accompanying them. So we took the train up to Edinburg and stayed in nice hostel. I immediately met up with my green-eyed Scotsman and abandoned my best friend to the rest of the group, who had innocently wanted to see museums and the architecture of the area. You know, normal people stuff. I didn’t go exploring with her even one day, but stayed with the Scotsman the entire time. 

When the three days were up they were all packing their things and I told them bluntly that I was not going with them. They stared at me in disbelief. The teacher who is in charge of the smaller group said “But you have to! They’re expecting us!”, and I said “Actually I don’t have to. I’m 18 and I can make this decision.” It sent everyone into a complete tizzy. I remember my best friend being so exasperated with me. She was always the sensible, kind-natured one and she tried to sit me down to tell me that this man was not my true love. That I was making a bad decision. I was unswayed. Her admonition was lost on me. I said “how could she know for sure?! This might be the one!” I loved adventure and my friend’s well-meaning words weren’t going to impinge upon my desire. Little did I know that I was breaking my best friend’s heart and it would forever alter the course of our friendship from then on.

So, the group packed up and left and I too packed up and went with my green eyed Scotsman to stay at a hotel with him. This is the part of the story that I tend to omit. Suddenly I started seeing flaws in my Scotsman. He was 35 but he lived at home with his mother. He had two children. I would never come to meet his mother or his children, and I remember thinking it was getting kind of complicated… that maybe he wasn’t the man for me after all. This was about a month into our fling. 

I had tickets to go see Radiohead at an upcoming show in Glasgow that I had planned for months… it was going to be my last big hurrah before returning stateside. My Scotsman accompanied me to Glasgow where he had friends that we could stay with. The night of the concert everyone got completely wasted including myself, and somehow I got separated from him and the rest of the group. Up to this, I remember being so excited to see Radiohead perform; they were one of my favorite bands at the time. But when they started playing ‘Idioteque’, I found myself dancing completely, utterly alone in a massive group of people during a stormy night in Glasgow, and loneliness struck my heart. 

It was anything but the joy that I had expected to experience. By the time we met back up I was irate. I’m still not sure why to this day, but it culminated in a huge fight between me and the Scotsman. (My now-husband tells me that I turn into a dragon lady every time I drink which is largely why I stay away from alcohol… that and often times just makes me sick.) So maybe there was no real reason for the fight. Maybe I was lonely and scared and I felt abandoned and the alcohol just exacerbated my ire. Either way, the next morning he tried to be cordial with me and offered me a cup of coffee but I narrowed my eyes in the slits and told him I wanted to pack my stuff and leave. 

On the bus ride home we didn’t speak to each other. Not one word. When we got back to his place I had tried to make amends but it was too late. He had snubbed me and was kicking me out of his house. He no longer wanted anything to do with me. When I asked him what I would do he told me to go back to the hostel and figure it out myself. I had never had my heart broken before, and I don’t think I’ve ever had my heart broken in quite the same way since. I was crying so hard my face, my body, and my heart ached. On the bus ride back into the city center of Edinburg we sat in separate spots on the bus not looking at each other. When I got off the bus for the last time and looked back at him he stared out the window listlessly, refusing to meet my eyes. That was the last time I would ever see the green-eyed Scotsman.

Luckily hostels are very cordial and friendly places, so I returned to the one that I originally arrived at with my group of friends. Many of the people staying there worked at the hostel to afford to live in Edinburgh, so although a few weeks had passed I returned to familiar faces. When they saw that I was an 18-year-old with a broken heart and broken dreams they welcomed me with open arms. They weren’t judgmental; they didn’t say I told you so; they didn’t mock me. These acquaintances — strangers just weeks before — understood the utter loneliness and shame written on my heart at that moment. And so they befriended and cared for me. 

I re-organized my plane tickets and had another week to spend in Edinburgh before I could get back to the United States. My classmates had already returned a couple weeks before. I don’t really even remember how I bided my time after that happened. Did I go to museums? Did I wander around aimlessly? Did I stay in bed? I just don’t remember. I guess that’s the heart’s way of protecting itself against what could be traumatic instances.

As soon as I was off the airplane stateside, I went outside for a cigarette and called my best friend. I expected us to gush over all the details, to laugh about it together, and for her to think of how ridiculous I was but that she loved me and was glad that I was safe. I expected her to heal my wounds. But she was not receptive. I had wounded her so deeply that she could no longer play that role for me. She too had snubbed me because of my actions, and I didn’t blame her. 

To make matters worse, when school resumed the teachers had spoken about the trip and what I had done to them to all of the other staff. Remember, this is a small alternative artsy school and the teachers and I were relatively good on good terms… Until the other teachers started lambasting me, asking “how could you do that to so-and-so?! She is such a good person! How could you do that?!” It seemed like everyone in the school was talking about me and looking at me sideways. I was a pariah. I had clearly made the wrong choice and I had indeed already suffered natural consequences for my decision, but the ripple effect reached further than I could have ever assumed.

I protected my wounded ego by laughing it off and claiming that it was no big deal. I didn’t tell many people about the heartbreak. I didn’t tell many people about the sexual encounters. I felt ashamed. I’d made a bad decision, felt terribly isolated and stupid, yet I couldn’t tell anyone the truth. Surely i would get an “I told you so,” or “serves you right.” So I had to make it an extraordinarily funny, mind-boggling story… Because it is indeed mind-boggling. But I shut out all the parts that make it so tragic.

A month ago or so when I was telling another very good friend of mine this story over Scrabble, I saw the hurt in her eyes. She’s the godmother of my son and she leads a very beautiful, peaceful inner life… she saw the hurt even though I was telling the story the same way I always had for the past 10 years. She realized that it was an 18-year-old girl so confused about what love was and so desperate to seek out affection that she would give the best and most private parts of herself away to any stranger that knocked at her heart. She didn’t have to say a word. The way that she was looking at me brought the tears, and for the first time I realized that this wasn’t a funny story. That this was a tragic encounter of a lost, scared girl.

Years later the green-eyed Scotsman would write me an email. He would apologize for how he left me and tell me that he had to leave me before I would leave him because he was falling in love with me and knew that I would return to the States without a second thought. He knew that his lifestyle and mine could never work with his children and his baggage… And in order to protect himself, he had to break my heart before I could break his. Intellectually I knew this when it all happened, but it was nice to see the validation before my eyes. Still to this day when I hear the song “Hold You In My Arms” by Ray LaMontagne, I hear the green-eyed Scotsman serenading me on his guitar.

 Today, I write about this because it saddens me that a man who treated me with such casual disregard, after such intimate words and actions were shared, still has a piece of my heart because I unscrupulously chose to give it to him, even though I’m now married and a mother. In fact, all of the men that I gave a piece of my self to still are with me today, something that I can never change. 

I want to tell every other woman out there to protect what is most sacred: herself, her personhood, her sexuality, her heart. That the pieces of yourself you break off and give to someone in a fleeting, impulsive moment inevitably stay behind with that person, whether they merited it or not. Even when those pieces now belong to someone else in the covenant of marriage, I cannot return them to their rightful owner. I so wish I could’ve given myself as a whole to my husband. But I didn’t know that then. I could’ve never known that would be a want of future Karen’s. In fact even in my wildest dreams I would’ve never been married. Or a mother.

And I want to tell everyone reading to carefully consider potential ripple effects and implications of their actions. Still to this day my former best friend and i are just that: former best friends. I still love her dearly but my actions did not reflect that, and unfortunately it was unrecoverable. I don’t feel like I can visit my former school to say hi to teachers I loved because of the stigma I still carry. It still hurts my heart terribly to think of how I treated the people who showed me such trust and acceptance and concern. 

I’m not saying I wish this debacle didn’t happen. Every story, as you’ll continue reading in this blog, leads me to where I am today. It was the first time I experienced heartbreak; it wouldn’t be the last time that I’d let a lot of people down to pursue my own selfish wants. In hindsight a lot of good has come from this story. But I hope to help my future daughter avoid any situation like this. Or maybe I hope to convince myself that when she does get into situations like this it will all be OK;  that God makes crooked lines straight; that I can’t save her from the decisions she’ll choose to make… Even though I’ll really want to.

The Ebbs and Flow of Perceived Value

Throughout my life my self-worth has often been tied up in ephemeral possessions: namely beauty, intelligence and productivity. None of it was immutable. In fact, at one point or another, I have lost every single one of those traits and each time I lost myself when they went.

When I was younger I enjoyed reading Chuck Palahniuk’s books. Something about the gore and utter thrill-seeking displays of ridiculousness, lack of shame and articulate, tactful expression of these otherwise gross life events really appealed to me. Now, as a Christian, being particularly scrupulous about what I let into my head, I would not recommend his work. Many of the things he describes really are grotesque and hard to forget. However, there is one book of his that stands out to me, upon reflecting, that I was reading at age fourteen titled Invisible Monsters. The female protagonist suffers an accident that suddenly renders her terribly disfigured after being top-of-the-crop beautiful for her entire life (she was, prior to the accident, a fashion model). Children point at her in grocery stores and call her a monster. Her friendships are vapid, shallow, riddled with selfishness, betrayal and debauchery. There is a lot of emphasis on the absurdity of our beauty culture, infused with plastic surgery and other numbing attributes associated with the slog of losing true value.

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Fun (creepy) fact: if you turn this picture upside down you’ll see a frowning clown in a collar. 

I mention this book because I remember asking myself what I was to do if I was terribly disfigured. I wasn’t yet a Christian, and I vividly remember feeling the utmost fear at this prospect… that I would lose all of my power, my ability to persuade people to love me or draw them toward me. I came to the conclusion that I would kill myself instead of living that way. And I was terrified that at any moment God would take away the beauty that he had given me, just to teach me a lesson. I carried this fear with me for over fifteen years.

Even so, my attraction to myself grew. I became obsessed with capturing my own image, convinced at any moment it could be altered forever and I would never be beautiful again. It’s like I had to preserve it while I still had it. The clock was ticking. Even if I wasn’t horribly disfigured someday, I would inevitably age and my beauty would still fade. I had to have proof that once upon a time I was indeed beautiful.

This was before the age of smart phones and common selfies, but my mom had purchased me a webcam (to interact with my long-distance boyfriend). I spent hours of my day posing for myself and pasting my picture into blog forums on LiveJournal to seek people’s approval — was I even pretty enough to be in the closed, private forum “Hot People Only”? — or for evaluations on HotOrNot.com. I remember reading nasty criticisms of strangers as if their opinions were the end all be all. I have a hook nose? I look like a deer in headlights? I got the lyrics of that song wrong that I posted in the caption of my picture, so I am deserving of ridicule? My stomach was too chubby? Poor fourteen-year-old Karen. I just want to wrap her in my arms and tell her that it is all lies, and to disregard it all.

This inevitably led to eating disorders and the reinforcement of a seriously distorted self image. I began seeking out destructive pro-ana (pro-anorexia websites where other girls afflicted with body issues support one another’s disordered eating habits by posting ways to fool their family, comparison tools and “thinspiration” photos) websites, cutting myself, and engaging in risky sexual behavior to assure myself of my beauty and worth. I was in so much agony but I didn’t know how to articulate or free myself from it.

As I aged my self-worth standard shifted and became more reliant on performance and intelligence — which I excelled at as class president, voted Most Likely To Work At NASA, tutored friends in chemistry, etc.  — and the neuroticism about my looks subsided. In fact it kind of turned into a countercultural ‘fuck you’ of sorts as I shaved my head into a mohawk, dyed my hair, refused makeup and pierced my nose. If I couldn’t be the epitome of beautiful, I wasn’t even going to try. In fact, as I couldn’t fail at being ugly, I’d just pursue that path.

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Sixteen-year-old Karen

But then I moved to France. I vividly remember an eleven-year-old girl at the private school I was attending in the south of France coming up to me. She was wearing an authentic Chanel watch, the one with the clock face outlined in diamonds, that her grandmother had bought her, and she was dressed like a put together career woman in the fashion industry. She asked me, “How old are you?” I responded, “Seventeen.” She said “Then why do you dress like your thirteen?”. I looked down at my tie-dyed t-shirt with my awkward socks and clashing shoes; my short, limp, un-dyed hair (I was growing it out since shaving my head completely) and my makeup-less face. She made me feel so small. And yet, she also made me realize that I was becoming a young woman — the intro stages of adulthood — and that I should carry myself as such, respecting my beauty and femininity. I sent all of my t-shirts home and tried to be stylish. I made friends with the popular kids and ultimately became prom queen. I was smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, smoking copious amounts of hash, playing video games, having fun and getting ‘okay’ instead of ‘excellent’ grades. And then I found Adderall.

I mention in another post that Adderall is not regarded as therapeutic in France. A doctor won’t prescribe it for you. But my family knew many doctors and it was easy for me to have a prescription written up and sent over. I remember being so excited for it to arrive in the mail. When taking it I became so energetic, so focused. I could be beautiful and intelligent and productive! This obviously was THE pill for me.

By the time I graduated with my International Baccalaureate from France and was on my way to NYU, I was beautifully slimmed, hair perfectly platinum blonde, young and ambitious. But I was still so insecure. I sought out reassurance at every turn, in all the wrong places. You saw the other post. You know what happened from there… I pursued modeling, got sick, blah blah. But this wasn’t the last time I would loop myself into this vicious cycle. Even having returned to Oklahoma — after losing everything I had worked for in New York, including internships, budding modeling opportunities, my degree, etc. — and regained my health, I became a business owner. Once again I had to win all of the awards, had to portray an image of excellence, had to be beautiful, productive and intelligent. On the outside it looked perfect, but at home it was anything but. I was still powerfully addicted to food and marijuana. I would hide from employees, customers and friends. Actually, wait. Friends? I didn’t have friends. I didn’t know what authentic, vulnerable friendship looked like. I thought if I was simply myself I would not, could not be liked let alone loved. I was obnoxious, slovenly, so terribly flawed. No, no I could not let this facade go.

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2014 was the year of performance accolades. I secured big garden design and maintenance accounts for my nursery; won multiple national and international recognition awards; traveled for business (like a real professional!)… and was still internally restless & miserable. 

 

At some point, as I was withdrawing from Adderall, a new acquaintance and I were sitting in a women’s professional group. I was telling them how difficult the pressure had become, how awfully stupid and useless I felt no longer on Adderall, and she said “This isn’t a bad Karen, this a different Karen, and that’s okay.” She would later open the door for much healing to come in my life. Ultimately, she introduced me to Christ and to acceptance. I will be forever grateful. She taught me how to breathe, how to dance and laugh and accept how quirky and dingbatty the real Karen is… and that the more I embraced these things in myself, the more I could lead others to embrace them in themselves as well. It took serious courage and a lot of submission, and letting go. But it was all so worth it.

 

I am reminded of this all today because just recently I have undergone some very big physical changes. First of all, I had a baby. And on my 5’11”, muscular frame, all of the additional baby weight — all 70lbs. of it — made me look like a yeti. I mean, I really packed on the pounds. Which is fine because I have successfully raised my eight-month-old son solely on breast milk, and he is thriving. The weight has slowly come off, but I’m still not the svelte beauty I once was, and let’s face it, some parts of my anatomy will never return to their pre-baby state.

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I should mention that never had I felt more beautiful and at peace with myself than when I was growing my precious son in my body. Surprisingly, the weight gain didn’t freak me out at all.

Second of all, I had other priorities than looking beautiful. Money was tight so it wasn’t like I could go buy a new wardrobe for my newly porcine frame. I was night parenting and day parenting, so makeup and hair styling was on the back burner. If I was running on low fuel, the precious gas I had left was not going to be spent on attempting to look pretty for others. It was going to be spent on fueling my family, my growing love for this new baby in my life, and encouraging my marriage throughout these changes.

Third, and most recently, I dyed my hair red. I was hell bent on growing out my natural hair color and leaving all of the chemical dyes, peroxides and bleaches behind. I was tired of using purple shampoo and conditioner to make sure my hair was just the right blonde. I felt like my natural color coming in made me look tired. I just wanted to look as alive as I felt. And I had this nagging in my heart for a month to stain my hair with henna, a very natural albeit permanent route that would kiss my blonde goodbye until I decided to grow it out. It was exhilarating and I went for it.

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I should mention that during this process I felt very in touch with the 0.2% West African in my genetic code that 23andMe.com swears is there. 

Yesterday, after mass, I was chatting with two friends of mine who are very dear to me. One of them said “Karen, don’t get me wrong, you look darling as a redhead… but I just thought you were so stunning with your blonde hair.” My other friend nodded in agreement. Karen from even a year ago — maybe even a few months ago — might have panicked. Oh my GOD, there was an opportunity to be even more beautiful than I am now and I squandered it! I am less powerful than I was! I’m such an idiot!

Instead, I responded “Maybe this is a time in my life that I don’t need to be stunning.”

My words shocked me. I felt set free. My friends immediately agreed that even if I shaved my head my beauty comes from my face and my countenance… but then I was reminded of Invisible Monsters: what if even my face was no longer there to prop up my image of beauty? For the first time in my life I thought to myself that it would be alright.

God has used many people to His glory who defy the standard definition of beauty. Vanity has so often done so little to impact the world in great ways. The wrinkles on Saint Teresa of Calcutta come from years of sacrifice, of smiles, of pain and selflessness, not years of fretting over anti-wrinkle cream, self-preservation and research on which color eyeshadow compliments her skin tone. I felt honored to be among the ranks of hardworking women of God that were indeed still radiantly feminine and beautiful, but without subscribing to — and clawing to achieve — the worldly beauty we have all been trained to pursue. I felt peace.

And I should mention… did we ever wish for this pressure on our beautiful, undefiled children? Do you think our parents did? Were they ever less valuable based on their appearance or clothing or actions or what they could do for you? No. And as children of God, even if we are now adults, He still doesn’t wish this for us. Let’s protect ourselves as children against the lies of this world. Wrap your arms around baby you and hold on tight. Tell her that this world is cruel and misleading. Tell her she is enough just the way she is. Tell her every day, 60+ times a day.

So although people have definitely let me know how they prefer Karen, and although I know my red hair is not the most becoming hair color I could sport, my heart is at peace with my decision. I’m tired of chasing what the-most-becoming-thing-Karen-could-do is. It’s a worn out, outdated paradigm that zaps me of precious energy I could be devoting to other people and ideas. I won’t ever again let the strangers of HotOrNot.com — or even close friends and family — determine my beauty, my value, or my self-worth. Their comments will never again hurt me because they’re inconsequential. I will pursue true beauty as a child of God, knowing that the light I reflect outward is where my value lies. I am so much more than a face and a body, than intellect or productivity. I could be rendered crippled and still move mountains. And I thank the Lord every day for this insight, this freedom, and hope to impart it to others.

 

Eyes Wide Shut 

It’s funny what happens after you give up trying to keep your eyes squeezed shut. I talked a little bit about this on a recent Facebook Live video. Before I had “gotten woke” it was like I was keeping my eyes tightly, firmly, resolutely closed. The  darkness confirmed what I wanted to see; it was easy to push new things away. There I remained asleep, immutable, bored and without any growth. 

Here is a visual of me keeping my eyes resolutely shut, just in case you needed it.

What I mentioned in my video is now that I’ve opened my eyes (which has happened gradually, and I’m sure I still have a long way yet to go), I see others doing what I did, living life with their eyes resolutely closed. These are the insatiable skeptics, the fearmongers, the naysayers, the “intellectuals”, the people who play it safe. They’re also often the least pleasant to be around because they don’t only put others down, but they put ideas down before they’ve even picked them up. These are the least open-minded, the most ignorant and often the unhappiest people of the bunch. And sadly, they’re the majority. 

I don’t mean to sound better than anyone. I lived most of my life as the person described above. It was only through the grace and charity of those who had already been “woke” that I could reject fear and find myself opening my eyes to the sunlight. 

What’s interesting is even though many people as described above know they’re unhappy, they still keep their eyes slit-like. They don’t want change, they don’t want answers. And I find myself getting so unbelievably frustrated with them that I want to take a crowbar and pry their eyes open. The problem with that is it does damage to both myself and them. They aren’t ready to open their eyes, and the only thing that could begin that process is the warm light of Christ. 

They say that faith is a gift from God. I would argue that self-awareness is too. 

The people in my life who had the biggest impact on me while my eyes were still shut were those who gently led me around the obstacles in life that I couldn’t see without pointing them out to me, without telling me that I was stupid for not seeing them; for making fun of me when I ran into them; or for trying to explain to me why my blindness wasn’t incurable. For all I knew this was exactly how I was supposed to be and their criticism would not have been well received. So, it’s funny to me that now I see others doing the same song and dance, my initial inclination is to smack them awake with truth… with a brutal, harsh truth… when my own experience taught me that what truly works is gentleness, is a loving, guiding hand and a calm, steady light: the light of Christ. It never interferes with free will. God doesn’t and neither should we. 

And, of course, what I define as health and happiness is my completely subjective opinion. Perhaps what I want for someone is not what they need at all at this time in their life. That’s why speaking your truth and not God’s Truth is a dangerous game. That’s why I’ve learned not to push what I think someone should do onto them. It’s their decision. I can try to empower them, but then I have to let go.

When I first heard the parable about being baptized with fire I didn’t know what it meant, and it scared me. I’ve always been afraid of being uncomfortable… Not the type of uncomfortable like an awkward social situation, but the type of uncomfortable physically. I really don’t like pain for sacrifice. So when people talked to me about purgatory or being baptized with fire I imagined being burned. I couldn’t see any good that could come from fire.
Now that my eyes have been opened and my light has been illuminated I have an inkling of an understanding of what Christ was talking about. It’s kind of like that song ‘this little light of mine I’m gonna let it shine’. That light, when you become a Christian, is small and is kindled by those around you who have a little more seat time. Their patience, love and guidance stokes your fire to grow and grow until you too can light fires within other people. We may not be talking about big bonfires; maybe you light small candles. …But that first hint of light is what makes the biggest difference.


As my faith, courage, and religious education flourished, so did my Fire. I now understand what Christ said about the lit up village on a mountain or the lamp stand not being hid. It’s not an uncomfortable, literal burning fire. It is a passion from within that only God and his disciples can kindle. It is unreal and almost indescribable. It feels so much better than forcefully keeping my eyes shut. 

Ignorance can feel good sometimes. No one likes to admit to being ignorant but the truth is that it gives us a false illusion of feeling safe. When we refuse to learn about new things or try new things or challenge our status quo or try to push new ideas away using intellectualism or rationalization, we are crippling ourselves. We’re keeping our eyes shut. Because once we try one thing, if it doesn’t work, we can put it back down. But if it works, you keep it held high and you share it with the next person. It’s a beautiful chain. That’s real safety. 

And what’s most interesting about this entire process is once you open your eyes just a tiny bit they keep growing wider and wider and wider. The resources continue to come your way through books, people, movies, research… it all just trickles in as you’re ready for it. But it begins with daring enough to open your eyes just one tiny bit. To stop pushing everything away, to stop believing all the skeptics that make you afraid of everything in the world, and to stop feeling unempowered and helpless. You’re not. 


The Lord said “be not afraid” 367 times in the Bible. And yet common sense, in such little commodity these days, makes us think that we need studies and warning labels on every single thing in our lives; that we can trust very few authorities except those of (commonly unchallenged) institutions who claim to have more of our best interest than we do for ourselves. That intuition now counts for nothing. Be not afraid, He said. Seek out and you will find. Knock and the doors will be open. You are called to be prophets, priests and kings. You can’t do that when you’re willfully sitting there, staying blind. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. 

I want to finish by sharing a quote with an author I’ve never read, Zachry Douglas, from his book of poems “A Journal From the Sea”. A friend of mine sent me this today and it really resonated. I am this woman he is describing. Can you say the same, or are you wishing you were her? 

Dear Fellow People of Goodwill

“Anyone who is not against you is for you.” -Jesus Christ

When I was first making my Facebook Live videos, particularly those talking about God’s Kingdom and Christ’s redemption, I was filled with worry about how others would perceive me. More so than the worry of being perceived as crazy, foolish, gullible or zealous, over the years I had collected many friends with varying faith backgrounds and didn’t want anyone to feel excluded or offended. I carried on, because I felt very convicted that what I spoke was Truth. I wasn’t going to let my fear get in the way of sharing what could change or save someone else’s life. But that little nagging worry stuck with me. 

There was a woman in particular who I really looked up to for her courage and fun personality, who is well recognized within the horticultural industry. She generously offered to ship me some WWII-era clothes (true vintage!) in my postpartum size (do you know how tiny those women were back then?!) and totally saved the day for a costumed hanger dance I had been invited to. 


I had always wanted a better relationship with her but in my intimidation I watched from afar (see: lurked creepily on all her posts). For some reason I took her as some volatile leftist wingnut that would tear me a new one if I opposed her views. 

One day, however, she posted a few memes about what being Quaker was like. Quaker?! Like Christian fundamentalist Quaker?! 


So I finally conquered my fear and wrote her a message. I was shocked to learn that she wasn’t anything like the caricature I had of her in my head. She was charitable, open-minded and still just as cool as a cucumber. She explained that she was raised atheist and sought Him out thinking “what do I have to lose?” She also wanted to raise her family differently. She wanted to offer her daughter something that would “feed her soul”. 

“I remember when people used to enjoy learning about other religions… doesn’t happen much anymore,” she said to me. “It’s hard for people to be vulnerable in finding what they need from God. Some of it may be laziness, but if their past experiences weren’t soul feeding, why hunger for more?”

And then — gulp, are you ready? — she said she liked my Facebook Live videos. 

“Your videos are great! I’ve enjoyed watching you get WOKE!” 

Y’all. This is was like the Beyoncé of my industry. I was honored, excited and felt so validated. Her opinion mattered a lot to me. She told me this right when I needed to hear it, because I was in the middle of a discernment hiatus from the vlogging. 


She then went on: “I think you backed down, don’t. Dont back down if you can help it. It’s hard. I know.” 

This gentle push, these words of encouragement, really affected my life. She probably still doesn’t realize to what extent, but I think about them often. In the face of fear, do you. Follow Truth. Claim and proclaim it. And she described exactly what was happening to me with such brevity and clarity: I was getting woke. 

Somehow this settled that aching worry in me about offending someone, maybe because I was quite afraid of offending her in particular. And she helped me overcome that by acknowledging our similarities. We didn’t need to discuss our differences. But mainly, she got it. Message received. I had finally awakened, I could finally see, and I just wanted the same for everyone around me. Clarity, freedom, peace… an illuminating light in the darkness most of us had settled for. I was getting woke! (Funny side note: while experimenting with potentially launching a YouTube channel, my cheesy intro was “Hi, welcome to Getting Woke with Mama B”. It’s still not off the table.)

Saint Elisabeth Leseur had a beautiful relationship with people whose views varied from her own. She was steadfast in her faith amongst intellectuals, artists and vehement atheists — including her husband — who often tried to persuade her from her religiosity. In her love and devotion to each one of them, however, she was able to direct Jews and nuns, children and adults, believers and non-believers. Ultimately, after she had passed, her atheist husband realized her deep love in hindsight and became a priest. It’s quite the retrospective love story. 

All this to say we are on the same team. Team humanity. Okay, most of us are on the same team, for if there are people of good will that inherently means the opposite also exists; there are people of bad will, who do want to watch the world burn. I can hardly fathom it, to be honest, but naïveté doesn’t serve our purpose well. I’m still going to be optimistic and say that the majority of us are genuinely “activists for good”, as my friend put it.  We are in the same camp, fighting the same battles. I can think of few things that feel better in spiritual warfare than camaraderie. Sometimes this can be hard to see in a culture that focuses on a divisive us-vs-them mentality. You must be intentional about seeking it out and providing it for others. 

Lastly, you aren’t doing anyone any favors if you’re hiding in the barracks. If you believe, proclaim the Good News so that all those who don’t believe have a shot at hope, true peace… salvation. What could be more important? Painstakingly preserving your pristine reputation is not more fulfilling than kindling Truth and fire in the hearts of others. Not looking stupid is also not more important. You don’t have to be able to perfectly defend your views like a Doctor of the Church. Your intuition and faith is enough. Don’t let the pretense of  not being an articulate theologian pressure you into silence. 

Plus, you never know who is out there secretly agreeing with you, or what doors you may open for someone who’s on the fence. Your courage gives courage. It creates breathing room; a space to be vulnerable and the ability to ask for true needs. You’re spreading hope. 


So a special thanks to my friend who let me know I wasn’t alone and that I needed to march on. Without her encouragement my self-doubt might have swallowed me whole. God provides. When you are your weakest, about to give up, He will be there if you call for Him and He will sustain you to carry out what you are called to do. It’s these little interactions where God rests. He lives in people of goodwill; it’s our job to carry His peace to others who need it. 

An Evolutionary Mismatch

“In the past three decades, more than 100,000 chemicals have been approved for commercial use in the United States. Among these are more than 85,000 industrial chemicals, 10,000 food additives, 12,500 personal care ingredients, 1,000 pesticide active ingredients, and scores of pharmaceutical drugs.” -Kelly Brogan, “A Mind of Your Own”

When I lived in France, I remember coming back from visiting home on one trip, my carry-on stuffed with cold medication, Benadryl, OTC pain relievers, eyedrops, cough drops… everything I was used to using in Oklahoma that France just didn’t offer. I hated getting sick in France because nothing their pharmacies sold really stifled the symptoms, like our cold & flu remedies here do. You just had to tough it out until it passed, which, admittedly, was relatively quickly. My French boyfriend at the time would lay on the couch with a scarf around his neck for comfort. I’d never heard of that remedy. All I knew was that Europeans must enjoy suffering.

When I was going through security the Frenchman working the scanner laughed at me. “You’ve packed a pharmacy!”. I smiled to myself that he obviously didn’t know what he was missing.

It turns out the joke was on me. While living in Aix-en-Provence, in the south of France, for three years I was able to completely taper off of my Lexapro, which I had been on for close to six years. I was a competent student, graduating with my International Baccalaureate, living on my own (okay, okay my French guy and I were living together), and was voted prom queen. We didn’t eat out much because that just wasn’t the custom. You only went to a restaurant for a celebration. Restaurants were a luxury. You also didn’t buy a lot of sugary stuff often. Ben & Jerry’s was only sold at a special import grocery store and it was ten euros for a pint! I wasn’t a big fan of Haribo candies (probably because there is not nearly as much sugar in them as there is in watermelon Sour Patch or Milkduds).

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I did smoke a lot of cigarettes, however, and put myself of Adderall — which is illegal in France, by the way, not recognized as therapeutic whatsoever. They see it as meth. I had it prescribed in the states and shipped to me after another American girl at my school told me how much it helped her with her schoolwork. I remember her saying “I could get all of my work done, go to the gym, hang out with friends, and STILL not be hungry the entire time. I would lose weight and be so productive.” It sounded perfect! We had a lot of family doctor friends so it was easy to get the prescription. In fact, now that I think of it, I’ve prescribed most of my own medication my entire life. With my Adderall prescription I overcame my dad’s death, all of my IB internal assignments (due within the month, including the 4,000 word Extended Essay that I hadn’t even begun), and I applied to eight colleges in two days, all within the same week. As my self-worth came largely from how intelligent I perceived myself to be, this was definitely a miracle cure.

As I began to shed the pounds I really started to look beautiful. I dyed my dishwater blonde hair platinum blonde and got a sharp bob cut. That summer, after graduating, my French boyfriend and I moved back to the states as we prepared to move to New York City so that I could attend NYU for studio art. I applied for America’s Next Top Model and was chosen to attend the auditions. After boyfriend and I visited Oklahoma and traveled the midwest for a little while, we drove a u-Haul with my mom to New York, and my audition was just a couple days later.

Lots of beautiful, thin girls were there. As I had only been this thin once before in my life — when I was hospitalized with an eating disorder at age 14 — I wasn’t used to being one of the beautiful ones. I had no self-esteem when it came to how I looked. But I knew I was smart, so I could still hold my head high. During the first “round” they asked us for headshots and to present ourselves to them. As we filed back along the edge of the room, each girls number that had been assigned to them was called out if they made it. One by one I watched these beautiful girls faces drop as they walked out of the room. They didn’t make the cut, but somehow I did.

The second round they asked us to address Tyra in the camera and say one word that describes ourselves. A lot of the other models were choosing “sassy” or “daring” or “sexy”. I chose “resilient”. Once again, I made the cut.

The final round before they would really narrow down a handful of girls to go on the actual show, they asked us to do a runway walk in front of the panel in our bikinis. I have struggled with my self-image my entire life, including one mortifying date to a water park at age 13 where I wore a giant t-shirt over my swimsuit the entire time. My stomach is my kryptonite. It’s always been pudgy (or so I thought). This time I did not make the cut. I was gutted. But I didn’t give up.

 

Something happened over the next six months or so living in New York. My mood changed. My skin quality changed. In fact, my overall quality of life drastically changed. I suddenly started feeling once again how I felt when I needed antidepressants. There was a lot to attribute this to — new environment, diet, lack of social structure, jet lag… but slowly the reasons were dwindling. The friends I was making at school should have been enough. They were bright, fun, talented people who enjoyed my company and supported one another. But I didn’t feel like one of them. Slowly that weird fog crept back into my life.

I tried to sustain my lifestyle. I started self-medicating, distracting, doing anything but realizing my health was slipping and so was my cognition, my emotional stability, my relationships with people around me. I became terribly, terribly unhappy. I remember thinking to myself there was something different between here and France, and it had little to do with the hustle bustle environment or the dog-eat-dog mentality. I couldn’t articulate it, but something felt off.

 

We’ll revisit this at another time, because it’s quite a long story. We’ll hashtag it the #NewYorkSaga, part 1. What I’m really getting to is that, in hindsight, my body was struggling with an environment that was teeming with toxicants that I happen to be very sensitive to. Toxicants are a funny thing. Kind of like my last post about having a “bespoke fit” lifestyle, the effect toxicants have on a person is a very unique thing. Some people develop migraines, other develop depression. Some people can’t smell pesticides, and some can. Some gain weight and struggle with their thyroid, others don’t. Your genes are so unique to you that they express themselves in unique ways when presented with triggers. Just like someone can witness a dog being hit by a car and not bat an eyelash, another person will witness it and suffer from PTSD. I now know that my body is highly sensitive to the environment around it and the weird xenohormones and oestrogens pumped into just about everything the average American uses destroy any stability I once might’ve enjoyed in a synthetic-free environment. My body then becomes dependent upon something else to try to level itself out — antidepressants, sugar, marijuana. I was always searching for that one thing to regain homeostasis, and I still am.

But today I am much more equipped to find the right answers. I know that self-medicating is a dead end. I know that psychotropic drugs and I largely do not go well together (see #NewYorkSaga part 2). I know about my sensitivities to medications and chemicals and food preservatives and dyes and additives and the myriad of unseen, inorganic components that float around in average American cosmetics, processed meat, plastic packaging, perfume, etc.

Why does this seem to only pertain to America? Because when we think we are broken, constantly searching for something to create homeostasis, we spend money on things marketed to us that seem like solutions. We are buying more chemicals to counteract the effects of the initial chemicals — the ones in our food, water, clothing, furniture. The ones we didn’t consent to. The ones the FDA decided are harmless until proven guilty. It. Infuriates. Me.

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The EU has much more rigorous standards for chemicals to live up to when they’re being vetted for public consumption. Many countries in the EU also don’t fluoridate their water. They keep their people healthy, and protect them from potential damage. Profit doesn’t matter; a stable, thriving society does. Somehow along the way — within the past 30 years — America said “fuck it”.

We can regain our own personal empowerment to stop being victimized by the poor decision making of the government and companies who are claiming to care about our health. The companies putting weird, undisclosed chemicals in our feminine care products, and the government that doesn’t require them to list them on the label… the companies putting weird, undisclosed chemicals in our children diapers, and telling us there will be no repercussions.

What else have you noticed change in the past thirty years? People have lost their damned minds.

Ask anyone over the age of 60 what their childhood looked like. I can tell you it wasn’t riddled with diagnoses, mass shootings, rampant billion-dollar advertising industries, kids glued to their x-boxes, or an extreme dearth of common sense. It wasn’t the one-size-fits-all throwaway culture. It was beautiful, it was simple. There were fields, and scraped knees and forts and swimming in clean lakes. Neighbors cared about one another. There was Christ in schools and in homes; there was morality, accountability.

ALL IS NOT LOST. I refuse to succumb to hopelessness. You and me, we can turn this around, one product at a time, one child at a time. We do not have to inherit this culture. We can create a new one, based on all of the best things history has to offer. The world is our oyster: we can pick and choose from hindsight. It take a radical intentionality and strength of character. It takes a radical dependence upon God, and upon intuition. Somehow the grace arrives as you begin to navigate the deep waters. You’re afraid of drowning, but you don’t. You lose it all, and you gain everything. Does that make sense?

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Basically, stop eating queso dip and buy a water purifier. You know, start small. Start somewhere.