Health & Wellbeing

This is a story about managing anxiety and I hope as you read through it you will glean helpful tips, though it's not written as a "tip" post. If you are seeking targeted and specific help in dealing with anxiety I have a resource at the end of this post, that I highly recommend. You can skip ahead to it right now if you need. Go ahead, I'm not offended.

You might also appreciate A personal experience with anxiety and positive solutions, a post I wrote last year.

Last winter my daughter hurt her wrists snowboarding.

When you're learning to snowboard you fall on your back end, a lot. My daughter injured her wrists from the repetitive action of bracing herself, on her frequent falls.

Wrist guards would have been beneficial right from the start, but we didn't know. This didn't happen to our son when he learned to snowboard, a few years earlier, so we weren't exactly "prepared" for it.

She iced and compressed, applied arnica cream, and with rest, her wrists were less sore so we thought it might "go away" on its own.

As winter gave way to spring and spring gave way to summer her wrists improved, and she would only experience mild pain with certain activities.

Then the beginning of this New Year Brienne re-injured her wrist skating. And that was our "this isn't going away on its own" wake-up call.

We got up early on a Saturday morning, so we could wait for two hours to see a doctor. He ordered x-rays (no fracture) and did a basic assessment that ruled out serious injury. He recommended physiotherapy, which has an approximate two year waiting list in the health care system. Or, we pay out-of-pocket for private physiotherapy and have immediate access.

We can't afford out-of-pocket physiotherapy right now, and waiting two years is not an option either, so we started Brienne with a mobility exercise program under Damien's direction. And my mom sent an essential oil for muscle repair.

And Brienne rested her wrists for the month of January. No skating (she's still too unsteady on her skates and if she falls she will likely strain her wrists). No snowboarding. Very limited co-op gym class activity.

We took an offensive strategy to treat the problem. And as parents we enforced more rest and recovery time. Brienne has a hard time slowing herself down.

As fascinating as this all is, this post isn't really a story about my daughter's injured wrists. It's about anxiety.

It's easier to talk about physical illness than it is to talk about mental illness and mental struggle.

I don't like to say I have a mental illness. I may be in denial but I look at my anxiety as a struggle and a weakness, a propensity to a certain type of thinking and thought patterns. It's my body, my health, I can call it what I like.

Whatever you want to call it, it's a struggle I have.

And I do better with this struggle when I treat my anxiety in the same way I approach my daughter's injured wrists, with a plan of action.

Firstly, there is no shame that Brienne hurt her wrists learning to snowboard and her brother didn't. Not everybody's the same. There is no shame that I have anxiety.

While Brienne is recovering and incrementally increasing mobility and strength in her wrists she has to abstain from certain activities, and she will have to actively engage in others, eg: specific exercises.

As someone who struggles with anxiety I will go crazy (it feels like I'm falling off the edge of clear thinking) if I don't abstain from certain things. And while I carefully watch what I allow in my life, I must also actively work on strengthening my internal responses and defences against anxiety.

A wrist injury presents an opportunity to pay attention to patterns of motion. To notice activities that cause pain and others that heal and strengthen. It's a wake-up call.

My struggle with anxiety is somewhat similar.

Like recovering from an injury. I manage my anxiety with a combination of discernment, rest, and specific exercises.

Discernment is knowing who I am and building appropriate boundaries.

I find building boundaries to be especially tricky now that I am embedded in community and in a more intricate web of relationships than I have been for many years; marriage, teenaged children, homeschool co-op, and church. Knowing where to give and where to hold back, this takes a lot of wisdom, soul-searching, as well as trial and error.

I can't do certain things that other people feel called to do. I can't engage in missions that are not my own. I cannot take on burdens that aren't mine to bear. If I veer too much into any of these territories, anxiety screams like a warming alarm. Which is maybe part of its purpose in my life.

I have a lot of capacity and capabilities, in the same way my daughter has a lot of energy and interest in sports. I have to build boundaries in my life to protect myself from over-engagement in certain areas of my life - social media, how I manage my online communications, what I give to each of the communities to which I belong. I have personal boundaries around how much I can assist my children in meeting their goals, how much I can assist my husband. I am finite.

My children are growing and increasingly have to make decisions for themselves but one of my chief roles as mother has been to be a gatekeeper, discerning what to let into our home and into my children's lives.

I have to be my own gatekeeper. No one else is going to do this for me.

Rest is taking regular breaks in my body and mind.

My rest looks like skiing once a week (yes, this is incredibly restful and rejuvenating for me), at-home retreat days, and scheduling "unscheduled" time in my weeks. Keeping blocks of time open in which I will not schedule anything.

I build rest into my plans so that I can say no to the other things (almost all of them good) that would compete for that time. I need open spaces in my week to putter around my home, to read, take naps, sleep-in now and again, and make stuff.

You can call it scheduled downtime, margin, Sabbath - whatever you call it - I must honor my needs for rest, fun and relaxation. And say "not now" to some of my own competing desires (to be productive, to "finish", to fix all the wrongs in my realm) and the desires and expectations of other people.

My anxiety exercises are the myriad of self-care practices I engage in.

Some are mental; meditation, truth-seeking and truth-speaking. Retraining my "mind" muscles to respond differently to stressful stimuli. Others are physical; outdoor activities and physical movement, a happy light through winter, dietary supplements, herbal adaptogen remedies and teas, essential oils. Some are relational; showing up as is, having courage, speaking truthfully, accepting and giving unconditional love in my core relationships. Others are spiritual; prayer and journaling.

It's all related. Discernment and setting boundaries is a self-knowledge and self-care practice. And setting healthy boundaries enables rest. The point is, discernment, rest and exercise are key parts to how I manage my anxiety.

I don't like easy answers because there is no such thing to complex problems. So I'm not going to leave this post on a three point answer to anxiety.

I want to share another part of this story.

While Brienne was resting during the month of January our family continued to go skiing every week. At fourteen, Brienne is old enough to stay home by herself but she likes to be with us and would be lonely at home, so she came and sat in the lodge while the rest of us hit the slopes. She brought school work, books, and TV programs downloaded to her iPad.

She kept mostly occupied but it wasn't the best of times for her. I felt bad but there wasn't much I could do about it except pop into the lodge more often than usual to say hi. I could be present as often as my own needs would allow. (I have to ski for my own health and wellbeing.)

Brienne was with us but it was lonely for her. Not as lonely as being at home, but lonely and a bit boring.

My own struggle with anxiety is never boring but it is lonely. Which is part of why I'm writing about it here.

My anxiety makes it hard to trust myself, it makes it hard to discern what voices to listen to. And sometimes the measures I take to protect myself and build appropriate boundaries remove me from other people and from certain activities.

And I question myself, "why can't I feel at ease in this situation that others handle easily?", and "why must I think, question, and wrestle deeply with ideas, situations and circumstances that other people accept at face value?"

And because it is anxiety, I feel a little crazy sometimes. And some days it takes all I have to bring truth and light to that craziness. It's a fight, and I get tired of fighting. And it feels lonely, even when I'm in a crowd of people, maybe especially when I'm in a crowd of people.

If you struggle with anxiety you too might feel lonely. People generally don't talk about their anxiety or other mental struggles. And if they do, other people, well meaning but ignorant of the illness, can be dismissive, or worse, provide cliché answers.

I had a tough spell with anxiety through the first weeks of the New Year. It comes and goes for me like that. My last bad spell was in October. I had the chance to get together with a friend a couple weeks ago, a dear woman who also suffers from mental illness and "problematic thinking". We laughed at ourselves and our struggles (you have to laugh sometimes, it is pretty crazy some of the stuff we think). We cried. We prayed. We asked God to release us of this trial but also expressed our gratitude that we can help ease each other's burden because of our own experiences.

I felt a little less lonely. And so did she.

That same week another dear friend reached out to me in her own need and as these things turn out, I needed her as much as she needed me. Again, I felt a little less lonely in my struggle. But most of all I felt loved, regardless. I felt like I had people in my corner.

We don't have all the answers for each other. We share what works for us in our individual struggle. We know each other's craziness but we still believe in the best of one another, we hold each other in light and love. But even with all that (and what a gift all that is), each of us essentially fights a battle on our own.

This truth is very acute in the most intimate relationship in my life, my marriage.

As much as we love each other, share our bodies and our thoughts, share a faith and life vision, share core values and love for our children, we cannot fully inhabit the space of each other's personal struggles. We hold each other through them but each of us has our own battles we must fight, our own injuries and illnesses we must contend with.

I can never fully understand the struggles, temptations, and challenges my husband deals with. And he will never fully understand mine.

And sometimes that feels lonely (one of my core longings is to be known and understood), but in reality that is a loneliness shared by everyone. We each have a perennial battle to fight. We have unique injuries and illnesses that we hope to heal. This is one part of our "common core", our shared humanity.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
(author disputed)

You might not know the exact battle but you can be sure, we are each fighting one.

I take no pleasure in other people's suffering, weaknesses and faults, but there is the comfort of knowing you are not alone. And as much as I am able (remember: boundaries) I have found that honest friendships that provide safe places to talk about my crazy are a balm to this loneliness. These friendships are precious and necessarily few as being this open with people is vulnerable and sacred.

After a month of rest our daughter is snowboarding and skating again. I'm so happy for her but also grateful I don't have to deal with the mommy guilt that tugs at me as I ski while she sits in the lodge.

I took my own kind of rest during January also. I extended compassion and kindness to myself during a time of struggle. There is no other helpful option for me in these periods. And it seems to me the deeper I allow compassion and kindness to root in my heart, for myself and for others, the slightly less difficult the struggle is and less lonely I feel in the valleys.

It's not gone. It's not cured. It's endured.

But it's also shared, in connection and conversation with friends. It's assuaged with exercises of body, mind, and spirit and an increasing discernment and understanding of my limits, a keen self-awareness of my own purposes and my very finite nature, a nurturing of my fragile/strong self with love, truth, and kindness.

Help for your anxiety

I want to tell you about a helpful resource for thinking about and dealing with anxiety. One of my favorite bloggers, Heather Caliri, has published a mini-course about anxiety called Five Tiny Ideas for Managing Anxiety.

If you struggle with anxiety, as I do, you know that sometimes the only thing you can really grab ahold of are the tiny ideas.

Heather's writing, in general, addresses emotional, mental and spiritual health and well-being. She writes a lot about anxiety and I find it really helpful.

Heather isn't selling anything, the course is absolutely free, but you do have to subscribe. (You can always unsubscribe if you don't like them.)

Heather says, "Let’s face this hard thing together, okay?"

I couldn't agree more.

I welcome your comments or private emails about your own struggles or experiences with anxiety. Therapies, exercises and self-care practices that work for you. I'd love to hear what you've gained through this struggle.

Here are a few of mine: compassion, deeper friendships, empathy, self-awareness, and tools to share with others.

This is the second post in my series on vocation, marriage and work.

From my last post:

We had successes along the way, I'm very proud of our achievements and projects. And I don't regret the journey or the difficult things we went through because of what we've learned through the process. But we couldn't continue on the path we were because it was hurting our relationship, not helping it, not drawing us closer the way we intended.

The path we were on started breaking down for us on the trail and completely imploded late fall 2014. I call it The Breaking.

This series started in my drafts as a single post about understanding work and calling. One post grew pretty quick into two, and three, then four... because I had a lot to write, especially when it came to this point in the story. I need to explain The Breaking and how I'm learning to listen for the voice of vocation in the aftermath that experience.

The Breaking is part of my midlife crisis. It's the undercurrent behind almost everything I've written since fall 2014. I hadn't intended to tell this story in the context of vocation and work, but it's the story that has bubbled to the surface in many posts and has been told in bits and pieces, through direct and indirect means, over many months.

It's time to tell the whole story, the outline at least, to put it all together to explain why The Breaking came in the context it did: where we were living, what we were doing, and why our work was wrapped up in that.

In the spring of 2011 we moved to re-boot our life, we called it Life 3.0. We wanted to move so we could position ourselves better to work towards our goals and dreams. The chief reason for our move was to gain back our freedom but we were also making big changes in our lives at the same time, moving to a francophone province, living in the woods, becoming self-employed, having Damien work from home.

There was so much for our family to gain from this, but there were losses as well, and fear. There were many things I was anxious about in this move; still owning a home in Maine and having to manage it from afar, concerns about where we would live, and how Damien would build a self-employed income.

Even though we were leaving good things - a steady job, our own home, a community we knew - we both felt this was the right move for our family. That it provided the opportunity to better align our life with our dreams and our goals. I believed this, but I still had many doubts, insecurities and anxieties.

Sixes are the primary type in the Thinking Triad, meaning that they have the most trouble contacting their own inner guidance. As a result, they do not have confidence in their own minds and judgements. This does not mean they do not think. On the contrary, they think - and worry - a lot!
~ Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

I'm not the type of person to make this kind of move on my own. It's crazy to think about "me on my own" because I'm not. I'm part of a team, a partner with Damien. Who Damien is influences me, and who I am greatly influences my husband. I'm not drawn to risk-taking ventures. My natural bent is to play it safe. If I'm going to take a risk I need a partner to help me.

Damien and I have taken many calculated risks in our married life. We had made a couple big moves already before Life 3.0. Maybe it was my age or the fact that our kids were getting older and life felt less "pick-up-and-move" portable like it had in our early years, maybe my preferences as a security-seeking person had finally started to catch up with me, maybe it was the fact that we were leaving things we didn't have in all those previous moves - our own home and a secure job. I can't pinpoint exactly what it was, but moving stirred up anxieties I hadn't experienced before, at least not to this degree. And how I "managed" those anxieties would prove to be detrimental to my well-being and our marriage.

I started to rely on Damien in unhealthy ways, seeking his reassurance, leaning on his confidence. "Is this going to be ok?" "Are we doing the right thing?" became a theme in my communication with him.

Because they do not feel they can trust their own inner guidance, Sixes often look for answers in ideas and insights first propounded by others. Sixes do not just jump on the bandwagon, however; they will subject these ideas to scrutiny and testing and eventually may replace them with yet other ideas. ... Either way, their natural response is first to look outside of themselves for something to believe, and if that fails, to react against it and look for something else. Doubt, questioning, believing, searching, skepticism, and resistance are always part of the picture.
~ Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

It's ok to seek the reassurance of our partners. And at various points in a marriage we need to rely on the other person to support us. And for those of us bent on finding and doing the "right" thing with our life (which is not everyone, not my husband for example), we may ask these questions often. My problem arose in that I was asking my husband these questions, and variations like them, on an increasing basis. When we made decisions I was an equal partner in those decisions but when I encountered my insecurities and anxieties I turned to Damien for support, over and over and over again.

Damien didn't feel insecure by our decisions, in many ways he felt enlivened and challenged. His fears are of a completely different sort. In fact, a lot what we were doing at this stage was in response to those fears, was a way of moving away from the realms in which his chief fears are manifest.

I couldn't have made the decision to leave Maine and embark on a self-employed path, which we both felt was the right thing to do at the time, without relying on Damien's confidence. I don't think that's wrong, or was a mistake. I think the purpose of marriage is to help each other. But relying on Damien's confidence became a theme in our relationship, and something unhealthy started to take root.

Average Sixes want to reinforce their support system, to strengthen their alliances and/or ther position with authorities. To that end, they invest most of their time and energy in the commitments they have made, hoping that their sacrifices will pay off in the increased security and mutual support.
~ Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

The move and embarking on self-employment was my first big security shaker. And the decision to move to Quebec, just added fuel to the fire of anxiety, that was just starting to burn low in my belly.

For reasons I've explained here, when we moved back to Canada we choose to live in Quebec. Quebec is part of Canada but is a different culture, with a unique history and different majority language from the rest of the country.

During my early childhood and late adolescence, in other words, my formative years, Quebec and Canada went through the upheaval of sovereignty/separation referendums. I grew up as a proud western Canadian, in a conservative political and familial culture which was mostly "happy to see you go" about the whole issue. For me, a person who values security, tradition, authority and loyalty, the Quebec fight for independence seemed less about self-determination and freedom, ideas I also value, and more of rejection of the beliefs I held dear and true.

Living in Quebec now for five years I know there is no clear resolution to this political tension, it is very complex issue; nor is there a unified "Quebec" position about these things. Quebec is a very diverse place and I am finding my own secure place, as an aspiring bilungiual but still very anglo-anglophone, former New England sojourner, from western Canada. Living in Montreal helps. So many people I know are from somewhere else and have stories like mine. I fit here.

Five years ago I was very excited to move to Quebec, specifically the beautiful region of the Gaspe Peninsula. I love beauty and seeing new places but I was very scared. I was scared I'd be rejected as a western-born and raised anglophone (a fear that's never come true). And more importantly I was scared my right to homeschool my children would be challenged by the authorities.

Quebec is the least-friendly province to homeschoolers. As progressive as the province appears to be, the open-ness is extended towards the collective ideal, pursuing ideas that are best for the group, and only if those ideas are secular and/or left of center. It's the least libertarian place I've lived. And a lot of my homeschool values are very libertarian, the anti-thesis of group-think. (My politics are complicated because I'm also very interested in the concept of Guaranteed Minimum Income and a believer in Universal Health Care. But I'm not going there in this post.)

Suffice to say, moving to Quebec, as much as I was excited to do so, stirred up a lot of insecurity and anxiety. Would I be rejected as an anglophone? (This hasn't happened once, at least not that I've noticed.) Would Child Protective Services come to my door? (Yes. And they closed our file, and confidentially admitted we offered our kids access to better resources than the local public school system. I think the myriad technological devices scattered through our home and the microscope, which I prominently displayed for their visit, was part of this assessment.)

Quebec is a place I have come to know and love. Since living here I have made it a point to study Quebec. I nearly always have a book on-the-go to help me understand this beautiful place I now call home. Quebec has a rich history I deeply appreciate, and natural and architectural beauty I love to explore. And as it turns out this province is actually part of our heritage (Damien's ancestors on his Dad's side are from a town not far from Montreal) which I didn't know until Brienne did a family tree project last year. For these and other reasons, I feel I belong here as much as anyone else. But this awareness and sense of belonging has taken five years to cultivate and when we moved here I relied on Damien's sense of "ok-ness", I relied on his French, and I relied on his reassurance when I experienced anxiety. I was looking outside myself for reassurance and confidence.

"Sixes are always aware of their insecurities and are always looking for ways to construct "social security" bulwarks against them. If Sixes feel that they have sufficient backup, they can move forward with some degree of confidence. But if that crumbles, they become anxious and self-doubting, reawakening their Basic Fear. ("I'm on my own! What am I going to do now?") A good question for Sixes might therefore be: "When am I going to know that I have enough security? Or to get right to the heart of it, "What is security?" Without Essential inner guidance and the deep sense of support that it brings, Sixes are constantly struggling to find firm ground.
~ Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

Those were the big security-shakers for me and we proceeded to invite and experience more: a period of exploring new ideas and lots of out-of-the-box thinking, moving houses four times, walking in a spiritual wilderness disconnected from a Christian community, our children reaching the teenage years, and then hiking the Appalachian Trail. Hiking the Appalachian Trail is enough of a life-changing, significant experience in one's life, an epic pilgrimage.

That we experienced all of this in a four year time span amazes me. I look back and I see that yes, I was relying a lot on Damien for my sense of well-being, which makes me feel shame. But I can also see that I was incredibly courageous in the face of these many transitions. And I feel both proud and tender-hearted towards myself.

The irony is that the more insecure and lacking confidence they are, the more Sixes rely on external support, and the more they lose their independence.
~ Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

It is no surprise, given what we did (took lots of "risks" and lived through many transitions) and how we did it (me relying on Damien) that when we reached The Breaking I was at the lowest point of my confidence in my adult life, and I was wracked with anxiety. I hadn't done the inner work at that point, so I didn't understand what I know now. Damien asked me the honest question, "what happened to your confidence?" and I wondered the same thing. And so I set a path for myself to find the answers and to find confidence once again.

Project Home and Healing was a part of that journey. Moving to Montreal was part of that journey. And so was a lot of introspection, honest and difficult communication with Damien, and increasing self-awareness.

After The Breaking I created a two column document named Who We Are.

One side of the column is titled Damien and the other Renee. This two column lay-out is divided into rows, and these rows are titled with headers like: Personality Type. Core Needs. Core Values. Personality Traits. Motivated & Energized By. Chief Fear.

It's an evolving document, as I refine the understanding of who I am, who my husband is, who we are.

Damien loves big projects that give him the chance to go deep into problem solving, that require and depend on his knowledge and expertise in crafting elegant technical solutions. He thrives in ideas and actions that push his boundaries, both in technical and physically challenging situations that depend on outside-the-box thinking. Damien is completely comfortable, in fact, most alive, when working towards a big vision that requires movement through undefined territory. He is enlivened by finding innovative solutions to reach a goal and he is wired to break ground.

And he believes in his abilities, skills, and experience to rise to those occasions.

The AT was a perfect project for Damien: so many challenges to overcome (thru-hiking with a family, hello?), being full-time outdoors, integrating work and keen interests, and building an online infrastructure to publish this adventure.

And for me it was overwhelm at nearly every level, because... surprise, surprise... I'm not like Damien. I thrive in procedures and structure. And in order to hike the Appalachian Trail, and to do many of things we did in the years leading up to the trail, in order for me to feel some measure of safety and security, that everything would be ok, I had step behind Damien because I was too scared to walk side by side.

Sixes would like a guarantee that if they do all they are supposed to do, then God (or the company, or their family) will take care of them. They believe that if they and their allies manage their environment well enough, then all unpredictable and potentially dangerous events will be avoided or controlled.... There is nothing that Sixes can do in the external world that will make them feel secure if they are insecure within themselves.
~ Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

The fact that I would do this, step behind instead of walk side by side, that I would think that following seemed like the "right way", the "best way" to minimize risk and insecurity; those thoughts took root because of beliefs I held about marriage.

And that's where we have to go now in this story.

This post is a continuation of my last one. I'm going to explain the Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle, tell you what I like about it, and what resources I plan to use. I will also talk a little bit about essential oils.

The thing I appreciate most about this bundle is how focused it is on one topic. Most bundle sales don't appeal to me in part because there is simply too much stuff. Too much digital stuff, is still too much stuff.

And of course the subject is exactly what I need right now to help me get my act together for the next cold and flu season.

Bundle Details

The bundle contains 20 resources which include 4 online courses, 14 ebooks, and 2 printable packs.

I bought a bundle for myself (full disclosure: at a discounted affiliate rate) and I've done an overview of most of the material to plan my course of action in using these resources.

I'm impressed with the depth and scope of what's offered in the focused topics of herbs and essential oils. I'm impressed with the variety of teaching methods - audio, video and reading materials. And I'm super impressed with bonus offer.

The bundle costs $29.97 and is such a good deal, as I describe below.

It's only available till Monday, June 27th 11:59 EST. I have no idea if it will return later in the year as flash sale. (I usually despise flash sales, they seem so gimmicky.) If you think you can use these materials, I would take advantage of the sale while you can.

Here's what I like in these resources and what I plan to use.

This bundle has more value than my original plan to buy a couple online courses to get me ready for next winter. I do feel I have to work for it a little bit more than if I bought a specific, targetted "cold & flu" course. I have to sort through the 20 resources and set up my learning path, but I've pretty much done that work already in reviewing the material to write this post. In addition, I get more than the cold & flu material and the bonus offer is worth the bundle price alone.


  • The ecourse I am most excited about is Herbs & Oils: Beyond the Basics from Vintage Remedies. It covers oils and herbs, including safety and toxicology, effective dosing and advanced research. One of the things I found most frustrating this winter, as we dealt with real sickness, is the "try a bit a this" approach and folksy-type wisdom people like to dole out. When you're not very sick, when the cold lasts a couple days, folksy wisdom is nice; sipping hot tea in bed, etc. But I want to know what really works when you're battling a beast, in what kind of doses and when to use it. I'm hoping this course will teach me.

  • 5 Multi-Use Herbs (And What to Do with Them). This is a video teaching. Yay for not having to read more stuff. I love when things - furniture, food, etc can serve multi-purposes so I'm keen to learn about multi-use herbs, especially since yarrow grows like a weed in my yard and it's one of the herbs taught. I've been feeling really bad about my weedy yard and then this bundle comes along and I realize what a gift it is to have so much yarrow at my disposal!

  • The Essential Oils Course course by family physician, Dr. Edie Wadsworth. I'm especially interested in her teaching on efficacy, emotions, and safety. This teaching has a very strong Christian bias, that frankly, I am uncomfortable with, but oh well. I'm hoping it won't detract too much from what I'm learning. From the little bit of research I have already done, I believe I could increase my emotional wellbeing and lower my stress and anxiety with essential oils. I'm currently taking an online course, gifted from my mom, to help me in this regard. I'll be curious to see how Dr. Wadsworth teaching compares to what I'm doing already.


  • Wellness Mama is one of the go-to resources in the blogging world for recipes and DIY on all things wellness, herbal, make-it-yourself wisdom. I'ved used her recipes a lot over the years: non-toxic cleaners, homemade makeup for Brienne, etc. Her book Handbook of Home Remedies is very extensive. I'll be focusing on the cold & flu protocols for now. But this is one of those comprehensive resources you can have at your fingertips and if your cupboards are stocked (she gives a list in the front) you can make what you need as situations arise.

  • Cold & Flu Season: Are You Ready? (not yet, but I will be). This is one of the main resources I will be scouring when I put together my plan.

  • Common Sense Home Remedies Book #1 – Head, Throat & Chest - This ebook feels like folksy wisdom but I will be pulling recipes out of here. The last section on Home Remedies for Seasonal Allergies is very intriguing to me. In the past few years, I've noticed our family suffering more with these, not significantly but some. It could just be that we are being exposed to new pollens - I noticed the symptoms on the trail and also this year in Montreal. It could also be exacerbated by dairy consumption, something we didn't eat for years but are now eating (mostly organic and raw) more frequently.

  • The Beginner’s Guide To Adaptogens: Herbs For Energy, Stress Relief & Immune Support Adaptogenic herbs are something I have been experimenting with, mostly as related to mental and emotional health. Adaptogens are herbs that support good health, which includes immune function. As I understand it, "they build you up" and they are notable for their support in adrenal health. I use them in supplement form as part of my winter wellness toolkit and also as part of my anxiety solutions. But my knowledge of how they work and how to incorporate them, beyond supplement form, is surface at best. I'd like to move my knowledge of adaptogens beyond experimentation and buzz word recognition into sound practice. I'd also like to learn how to make my own preparations to save money.

  • Homegrown Healing: From Seed to Apothecary is a comprehensive herbal resource. Herbal knowledge is basically the same across most of the resources I've found. What makes this ebook unique is the gardening emphasis which I am keen about right now as I have a full sun, tabula rasa (albeit weedy) backyard and I am designing gardens right now.

  • Essential Oils: Separating Truth from Myth - The next section of this post explains why I appreciate this ebook de-bunking 25 myths about essential oils. I don't think the author holds 100% of the truth, but the information seems balanced. I had believed the myth that essential oils are superior to simple herbal remedies, which is part of how I lost the little bit of herbal knowledge I did have. I replaced it with an over-reliance on a product I didn't entirely understand. And when we got really sick this winter, in spite of using essential oils, I felt a bit misled. I'm not blaming anyone. I need to arrive at my own understanding of these things, not take other people's positions, even people I trust, for gospel truth. (This is something I am prone to by nature.)

The cost of all these resources as stand-alone products is $324.90. Even if some are over-valued (another gimmick I despise) it's still a great price.

Let's talk about Essential Oils.

I have a lot of confusion about essential oils.

They are a "relatively" new thing in the North American natural health and wellness community. I've seen them in health food stores for years but dismissed them as over-priced incense. And their meteoric rise in popularity over the past few years is due to multi-level marketing, of which I am highly suspicious.

One of my dear, close friends has used essential oils therapeutically for years and her advice is sometimes different from my friends and relatives who got into this very recently through the MLM side of things.

I started using essential oils a few years ago, and honestly, I just don't feel educated enough. At first, I thought they were ok to just experiment with. "It can't hurt!", bloggers, acquaintances, all essential oils newbies, were telling me. Well, yes it can.

And just because you've been using a product for a few months does not make you an expert.

I feel fairly ignorant about essential oils for health, but haven't had the mental energy to do anything about it. This winter I was extremely frustrated with how hit-or-miss it all felt. I'm not asking for guarantees but it's important to me that I'm using best practices and that I'm learning from people who have extensive experience and a scientific understanding (that's my bias).

The science around essential oils is exploding but a lot of confusion still exists for me.

I also don't like all the "start a business stuff" that accompanies so much of the essential oil teaching and online health teaching in general. I don't want to start a business or be coached in reaching my potential as a consultant. There is nothing wrong with these aims of course, they're just not mine.

My aim is to use essential oils with knowledge and confidence and I feel this bundle offers that kind of teaching.

This winter I watched a great, free video from Lisa Grace Byrne about essential oils. And I found her approach completely refreshing and well-grounded (no pun intended). You can access that here. Her teaching always feels so solid to me, and trustworthy. This video is not about cold and flu but overall wellness and self-care, her speciality.

The Bonus Offer (more than icing on the cake)

The bonus offer in the bundle is fabulous.

In order to use essential oils and herbs you have to have them in your cupboards. You can grow your own herbs, or wild-harvest them, but most of use buy what we need. And very few people are set up to make their own essential oils. You need the stuff to use the stuff.

The bonus offer of this bundle has you covered with a 50% (50%!) coupon code for the online apothecary Golden Poppy.

The discount applies to bulk herbs and essential oils.

Here's the bad news, it's only good for shipping in the U.S. I happen to be traveling to the U.S. this summer so I had my order shipped there. If you are in Canada and can't access this, I'm sorry. (I know, it sucks.)

Here's a screenshot of what I ordered:

You can see that my savings were greater than the price of the bundle. I needed these oils anyway, they were on my to-buy list. This was a sweet deal.

Because I am familiar with doTERRA and I buy almost all my oils through that company (because I am able to support my mom and brother in doing so), I did a price comparison and found that the average pre-discount price of buying oils at Golden Poppy was a bit less than the doTERRA equivalents. This is not surprising because doTERRA's prices are set up for MLM sales. This is not bad or good, it just is.

If you are interested in buying oils and potentially saving money/earning money by having friends/family buy oils through you I recommend doTERRA. I can get you set up with my mom who does this for a business and can walk you through the whole process. You totally want to meet my mom. She's the best.


If you are at all interested in growing your knowledge in herbs and essential oils, you simply cannot go wrong with this bundle, priced at $29.97. And if you take advantage of the bonus offer (you really should), and purchase some herbs and oils at 50% off, your savings on those products pays for your teaching material.

You have a 30 day happiness guarantee with this bundle. I'm not sure how you can go wrong.

If you have any questions about the bundle contents before you purchase feel free to ask me. I will do my best to give you an honest evaluation, based on your needs and interests. I'm on Facebook, you can email me or leave a comment.

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