Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

For the last few months I have been so drawn to a specific and potent aroma. I can’t stop reaching for it and I got really curious about why my brain and my body has been wanting this one so much.

This divine floral is all about the heart, being vulnerable, and finding sweet moments of childlike joy.

This year has been a little rough in my world. Some aspects of my life have flourished into greatness, while other areas have been heart breaking and have brought about quite a bit of grief and sorrow.

Truth is, my heart has been hurting. There I has been some loss and with that opportunities for acceptance that are seeking to emerge.

Ahhh. So that is why my spirit has been craving this smell. It’s sweet floral is an instant soothing to the soul. And the heart.

One of the most fragrant among essential oils. In fact, it is being used as a critical ingredient in the legendary perfume Chanel No. 5.

Ylang Ylang helps us connect to our heart and become balanced by releasing negative emotions and deep emotional sadness. It calms the heart and balances emotions during times of high stress, crisis, tension, or depression.

More importantly, it opens the heart to receive more love and acceptance. 

As a reflection of Ylang Ylang’s ability to restore a healthy flow of positivity in the heart, the essential oil helps encourage a healthy circulatory system. It improves blood flow, fights inflammation, and assist with other heart problems.

The Emotional Benefits:

The oil of a childlike heart
• Powerful for melting the walls around your heart
• Increases love, compassion, trust, empathy, and intimacy
• Softly releases any negative emotion or trauma you’re carrying within
• Use when you’re struggling to connect, put yourself out there, or be vulnerable and tender

Ylang Ylang, meaning “flower of flowers”, has its petals used in Indonesia to decorate the beds of newlyweds due to its aphrodisiac properties. Just so ya know.

Other health benefits::
• Promotes libido and hormonal balance
• Favorite for heart health, including healthy blood pressure, healthy heart rate, and more
• Calms the stress response in the body
• Used for a very restorative sleep

It is just so good. The investment is so worth it because it is so versatile for uses. Check out this gorgeous ebook that breaks down the many uses.

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Just because someone carries it well doesn’t mean it isn’t heavy. I think that it is pretty likely that each day we hold things in our heart, and sometimes these things become incredibly heavy. But also choosing to carry grace sure lightens that load.

It was on this day that my kids lost their dad forever. It was years before that though they also lost him. I realize that he did the best he knew how to do. It wasn’t ideal by any means, but he did what he knew. And that is okay.

I choose grace.

I choose to hold my head up high. Looking at my grown kids I know that the load I have carried for years was worth every single ounce. My kids are remarkable people and that makes the load all worthwhile.

Someone recently asked me how I got to the point in my process of being able to choose to forgive. And to let go. Well let me first say it wasn’t always easy and there are still times when those feelings of anger or disappoint bubble up, but I try really hard to not allow those heavy feelings to take over. I did a couple years of therapy and I dove into working on myself which invited me to not spend my waking hours fuming about what I didn’t get and instead look at what may have been my part in it all and to be able to learn about perspective.

Divorce takes a little bit of your heart regardless of how amicable it is.

Co-parenting may seem like a great idea, but the truth is finding common ground that works for the kids is even harder when you have two households working. It wasn’t many months after my divorce and my three little kids and I were no longer receiving child support. He didn’t think he needed to and so he chose not to. He also chose to have his visits with the kids shorter and few and far between. The raising of the kids landed solely on my shoulders. It wasn’t just the daily grind, but the big picture things that one parent should never be completely responsible for if the other parent is capable. Or so I used to think.

Maybe he wasn’t capable. Maybe he had no idea how to think beyond himself. Maybe his own heart was shattered and he couldn’t access the part of himself to step up. Who knows.

Within a few years he began to slip into a slow, horrific self-inflicted slow death. He chose to neglect himself. He chose horrible things to do to his body. He chose to give up. Or so I used to think.

Maybe he didn’t know how. Maybe he had something inside him preventing him to get and allow help. Maybe he just couldn’t.

I think about my own father in much the same way. Something in him was missing and he wasn’t able to to plug into being a part of my life. Maybe it was his own addiction or his own beliefs that he had. Maybe he never had a father step up in his own childhood. Maybe he didn’t know how.

When someone asks me how I arrived in a place of peace about my kid’s dad (or my own dad), my simplest answer is that I got tired of allowing all of that pain to take up residence in my heart and preventing me from allowing something much better into my heart, like love. I realized that they both probably never had a father that stuck around. I was able to step back and see that my former husband was a young man with a tremendous amount of responsibility and perhaps he simply could not do it. He was giving all he had to his little family that eventually crumbled in front of him, and maybe it broke him.

I chose to see my father as a lost little boy who had no real father to speak of and an abusive mom. No wonder he was disconnected.

I replaced the feelings of anger and disappointment with compassion and love. Then it was really simple to carry on with a little lighter load in my heart. Being able to do that certainly doesn’t lighten the heaviness of raising three people alone and the huge responsibility that I had, but somehow having a heart full of compassion rather than pain, I was able to move forward and feel good about myself and my kids.

Maybe I will be an example for them.

The Privilege

The air was difficult to breathe; heavy with tension and with a denseness of uncertainty.  The fear of the unknown and the anxiety stifling our very breath.  We stood in unity, hands held, watching with anticipation. As the following moments unfolded, I witnessed something so beautiful it is hard to capture in written words.

Yesterday both of the boys were with their dad as he was removed from life support. After each boy said their goodbyes we stood in unison and watched the process through a window in the ICU unit.

The heaviness in the air was suffocating.

As we stood together, I reminded the boys that their father was there to help them enter this world, and now together, we get the opportunity to be there as he exited.

Moments following his head turned, sedated and confused his eyes shifted our way.  We all held our breath in stillness.

As if the time has stopped, I watched as my youngest son walked towards the window.  He placed his hands on the glass and gazed into the room.  With purpose and poise he re-entered his father’s hospital room.  I watched through the window as he spoke directly to his dad. I saw his dad look at him.  The space became still and light.  Slowly my older son joined his little brother. Side by side my two young men comforted their dad. They held his hands. They leaned over the bed fearlessly. With their hearts wide open they spoke to him and they loved him. Completely setting aside any of their own heartbreak that spanned years of disappointments, they gave their father the gift of unconditional love.

I witnessed my two boys elevate beyond any fear and open their hearts–wholeheartedly–to the space of compassion and of love.  They each faced this experience with courage and with grace.  In the following thirty minutes, I watched as they fully embraced their dad and the experience of death.  I felt the lightness in the air.  The peace enveloped all three of them and the healing between them happened.  I saw with my own eyes an affirmation of each of my boys integrity, love, compassion and true grace.

I watched as they were each heroic in their unwavering support and compassion for their dad, and for each other.

And what a privilege it was to see.

The Paradox

Emotions creep in at the most unexpected times. I dropped my girl off at her adult day program today and then had the most needed and lovely conversation with a dear friend. We covered a lot of terrain in our very honest conversation about pain, anger, disappointment, family, and the world. Although we did not solve any of these problems, it gave my heart peace knowing that I have someone amazing in my corner that gets it.

It is funny how this time of year always brings a set of emotions that range from grief to gratitude, and everything in between.  This time of year is a reminder of the death of many things, including people and dreams. This year especially I am finding myself even more in need for solitude as I navigate the sea of feelings that I seem to be experiencing.

I think back to a time two years ago when I witnessed the most beautiful moment as my sweet grand-baby took her first breath.  It was truly magical.  Within days of being consumed with a love I did not know existed, I learned of a couple sweet souls I had known in my work who took their very last breath. I was reminded again that within those two important breaths, life offers so much joy and an often an equal amount of pain. Ultimately it is what we do with both that makes our life have meaning.

Twenty seven years ago I lost a dream and gained a purpose. While on one hand having a child with a disability has been one of the hardest things I have done, it is also the source of my direction. So the paradox is one that I allow my mind to explore.

It is usually around my daughters birthday that I allow myself to ask the “what ifs”; what if she was typical, what if she was graduating college, what if she was getting married, what if she was having a baby, etc.  On the flip side of those questions I look at who she is and what she has given me; purpose, direction, unconditional love, simplicity, and a divine plan. I find myself asking those same questions recently as I witness friend’s daughters experiencing those major life events and my heart is conflicted with a tinge of jealousy and grief alongside genuine happiness to see their joy.

That is the death of a dream for me. And yet, I am grateful for the simplicity of my life with my daughter. These conflicting emotions seem to be evident in so many areas of life recently.

This paradox of life and death, grief and gratitude, loss and gain, joy and pain always finds me to be remarkable.  I suppose it is just like everything in life–temporary.  So that breath I just took in, I must also be let go.

And so is life.

I have decided yet again that the space between the first and the last is truly where LIFE exists–love, magic, connection, acceptance, passion and purpose. So, we must learn to lean into the joys and the pains because it is just part of what is.

I am incredibly grateful that I have had time along a trail and in the trees to figure all this out and makes sense and peace with what is.  What I have come to know is that all things happen as they should and it is a choice as to what I do with it.

Today, I choose gratitude for being given the gift of my girl. I choose gratitude for the friends that I have. I choose gratitude for nature to always ground me.

Most important today, I choose to remain aware of the space between the first and the last and commit to making my life the best it can be. Always.

Acknowledging the Goodness

In recent weeks I have been coming up with strategies to ease my aching heart about the obviously very different Thanksgiving celebration that this year will hold. On one hand, I am incredibly grateful for the health and happiness within my family and close friends, but I am also allowing myself to feel the very real disappointment and sadness that is present when I face the grim reality that I won’t be spending this years annual holiday surrounded by food, festivities, and of course, family.

In the big picture I realize that it is just one day. One measly 24-hour period that can easily be made up when this all passes with a bounty of food and connection.

And yet, I also have a strong need to acknowledge the sadness and emptiness that the lack of tradition brings to my heart. There is in fact a hole that is empty of the connection that regardless of how busy our lives are, people come together for one day of family.

I will miss that.

I have given myself a few days to notice the missing parts of the tradition that I love so much. I love the hectic amount of cooking, the matching orange, brown and red table decorations, and even the ridiculous turkey shaped salt and pepper shakers. I love to see my sons interact and jive each other while their sister tries to sheepishly engage. I love to see the history of our lives be woven together again for a few short hours.

Now that I have had my time to feel what I feel, I am ready to rumble with making new traditions. I decided to switch up my classic food items a bit and prepare a few new dishes. After spending some time prepping yesterday I came to the realization that cooking for two is much easier than fourteen, so there is some beauty there. I also realized that my kids are making their own traditions and that is what I always wanted. I had always hoped that they would grow up to truly own their life and create experiences for themselves that nurture their unique spirit.

As the turkey gets put into the oven today, I am reminded of all the good. I have raised two fantastic men, I have a warm ad cozy house, my career fulfills me and I am truly loved. Those are the things that matter. The memories and traditions will be locked into my heart space with fondness, and today I choose to take abundant breaths and soak in the quietude of the day knowing that all is well.