Booking It: February 2015

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I ended up reading more than I thought I would in February – probably due to a lot of snow/cold/ice/what on earth are they thinking? days where my husband was home. I’m staying caught up with my Bible-in-90-days reading too; we are nearing the end of Ezekiel, which is definitely throwing my head for a loop.

Here’s what I read in February.

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande – I’m thinking of making a list of books I think everyone should read, and this would definitely be on there. The topic of mortality and end-of-life decisions is one we cannot ignore. Gawande (whom I adored when I read Better many years ago) digs into nursing homes, hospice, assisted living, cancer, surgery, and more, all with a relatable voice and inserting stories from his life and work. The way he tenderly adds his own father’s tale is breathtaking. Read it.

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins – It took me around seven weeks to get through this class behemoth. As I told my husband, when things finally started happening around page 325, I started reading a lot faster. Obviously readers in 1860 were much more patient than I am. It’s a classic I had read about many years ago: the first sensationalist novel. It’s an interesting read, but I don’t think I recommend it to my friends (for fear they might come after me in the night when they reach page 250 or so).

It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell – For the first two chapters, I was afraid I was really going to hate this book even though I like the author’s blog. A lot of “guilt stuffed like Oreos” type metaphors, and those tend to bother me. But once Mitchell found her pace, I think the memoir is very readable. And oh so engaging if you’ve struggled with your weight – especially those of us who have since childhood, a more rare and dismal clique.

This book isn’t about how Andie Mitchell lost 135 pounds. If you’re looking for a plan, you’ll be sorely disappointed. It’s about a person who grew up confused about eating and how she learned to deal with food in a normal way. I hope I’ll get there someday. I so appreciated the honesty flowing from this short memoir.

Fairest by Marissa Meyer – Fairest is definitely an “in-between” book for the Lunar Chronicles series. While the first three books in this series have all been giant hits in my opinion, this short tome is just OK. It tells the back story of the Lunar queen Levana. Even evil queens have pasts, and we get to see why Levana is the way she is (and where Winter came from, and why Levana hates her, and …). It’s good for information but not up to par with the rest of the amazing series. I can’t wait for Winter to be released! (Review for Cress, the third book, here.)

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead – I feel pretty “eh” about this book, the first from Shipstead, who also wrote Astonish Me, which I read last month and enjoyed. In the same floating-between-viewpoints way as Astonish Me, Shipstead shares the story of the van Meter family as they prepare for elder daughter Daphne’s wedding. The fact that Daphne is seven months pregnant, younger daughter Livia has recently had an abortion and a bad break-up, and their father Winn is trying to keep up their family status just adds to the hullabaloo. I kept reading it, because the writing is good; but I felt like many of the characters were one-note and the sexual scenes were too much for me. Shipstead’s writing obviously grew between this book and Astonish Me, and I am sure she will continue to produce provoking works.

That’s it! What are you reading? I’m still working on Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, and have started All the Light We Cannot See.

Black Dog Syndrome

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I have a history with big, black dogs.

When I was just a toddler, my parents had a dog, Buttons. It was a pinscher-mix-type mutt, their “before kids” kid. And it hadn’t ever shown aggression to anyone.

Until.

The story goes that my parents were feeding the dog Cheez-Its. I crawled up, and they gave me a Cheez-It, too. And then the dog attacked me, nearly ripping my little ear off. They loved me more than the dog, so they got rid of it (or put him down – I don’t remember).

So I spent a few weeks looking like this. I have no memory of any of this at all, but I’ve never liked big dogs.

jessie_post_dog_bite

Then, when I was in eighth grade, it snowed. It snowed enough for us to be out of school for three weeks. My mom had pretty recently gone back to work, at least part-time, and after all these snow days in a row – we had a TON of snow for central Virginia – she needed to work. I was plenty old to take care of my sister, who was in fifth grade.

But I was tired of playing in the snow. One day my sister went outside with our next-door neighbor. She tried to pet their dog, a black Lab who was chained behind their house. And the dog attacked my sister, tearing a gash into her arm.

What I remember is calling my mom at work, hysterical. Our neighbor taking us to the hospital in his work van. How Ashley’s coat wasn’t torn even though her arm was. But somewhere in there, apparently I tightly wrapped the wound and elevated her arm, they say. My babysitter brain kicked in even though I have no memory of it doing so.

So see, I am kind of biased against big, black dogs. (And by the way, you are BIASED. You have a BIAS. There’s your grammar lesson for today.)

And then God saw to it to put us on a campus full of them. When we moved here, we lived next door to a man with an elderly black lab called Bio. Bio was absolutely the sweetest, most gentle dog I’ve ever met. When we moved to another dorm, Bio and his owner moved with us. And in the apartment on the floor between our two apartments lived two MORE big black dogs.

Is the universe trying to tell me something?

My boys love dogs. Their exposure has been mostly to these big old ebony-furred friends. Little by little, my defenses against such animals is wearing down. Maybe someday I’ll be able to approach a black Lab without any fear at all.

Maybe.

{Apparently Black Dog Syndrome is an actual thing, according to Wikipedia. Who knew? My prejudice does come from real life and not TV and movies.}

Favorites of the Week

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Favorite pictures: Little ones enjoying what qualifies for snow in Tennessee.

Favorite links:

Recipes I want to make:

Favorite moments:

  • Joshua having a conversation with Mommy and Daddy on the couch. This mostly consisted of, “Daddy paci! Daddy milk!” and trying to shove his paci and cup in Daddy’s mouth. But there were also a lot of kisses.
  • Cuddling and watching The Croods.
  • Getting to sleep in (hello, President’s Day and a week of “not really snow” days).
  • One of the other moms from Libbie’s kindergarten class saved my life yesterday by inviting us all over, despite the fact that we don’t really know each other and she has four sons of her own. The kids had a blast and it was such a blessing to me to get out of the house and talk to another mom.
  • Doing an essential oils class with Tiffany last Saturday on campus. It was a lot of fun, and I just enjoy sharing about the oils!

Favorite offline reading: I devoured It Was Me All Along by blogger Andie Mitchell over the last few days. I wrote a review on GoodReads about it if you can’t wait to see it here in my February books recap. I also FINALLY finished The Woman in White. Woot!!

What’s going on in your neck of the woods this week? Snowed in? We actually got maybe a whole inch of snow last night, and now it’s sleeting on top of that, so we may be stuck today.

 

Your Art Is Not You.

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The Art of Daring

I am reading the book Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, and I read this passage tonight. It’s kind of long, but please read the whole thing here.

You’ve designed a product or written an article or created a piece of art that you want to share with a group of friends. Sharing something that you’ve created is a vulnerable but essential part of engaged and Wholehearted living. It’s the epitome of daring greatly. But because of how you were raised or how you approach the world, you’ve knowingly or unknowingly attached your self-worth to how your product or art is received. In simple terms, if they love it, you’re worthy; if they don’t, you’re worthless.

One of two things happens at this point in the process:

1. Once you realize that your self-worth is hitched to what you’ve produced or created, it’s unlikely that you’ll share it, or if you do, you’ll strip away a layer or two of the juiciest creativity and innovation to make the revealing less risky. There’s too much on the line to just put your wildest creations out there.

2. If you do share it in its most creative form and the reception doesn’t meet your expectations, you’re crushed. Your offering is no good and you’re no good. The chances of soliciting feedback, reengaging, and going back to the drawing board are slim. You shut down. Shame tells you that you shouldn’t have even tried. Shame tells you that you’re not good enough and you should have known better.

If you’re wondering what happens if you attach your self-worth to your art or your product and people love it, let me answer that from personal and professional experience. You’re in even deeper trouble.

 

Whoah, did this ever hit home for me.

Want to hear something that qualifies as very vulnerable for me? I’ve sold a grand total of 7 copies of my devotional, Parenting Parables.

Is it maybe because I gave it away to all my friends? Perhaps.

But you know what? I’m OK with it. If I had published the devotional on my 30th birthday, as I had planned, and it had only sold a handful-and-a-half of copies, I would have been up there in #2. I would have been CRUSHED.

Am I still, a little? Maybe. But my okay-ness with the situation shows me how I’ve changed in the last three years. God has worked on my heart so much during this time. I poured my heart into this devotional. But I was able to offer it to Him, not anyone else. It’s my sacrifice of praise. It was something I felt like He called me to do, and I did it.

Maybe it will really touch one of those seven people. Maybe it won’t.

But it has no effect on my being Enough. I am Enough because God says so. Not because of my Art. Not because of anything I do. Not because I read my Bible or brush my teeth or teach Sunday School or wear the right jeans.

I am Enough because He lives in me. And oh, the feeling of knowing that – the fact that nothing I could do would make me any more in His sight – it is warmth. Comfort. Cry-worthy.

So I’m baring myself again, telling you the truth, and hoping that you know: you are Enough. You, who write a blog that you think no one reads. You, who paint what no one sees. You, who want to be on the stage. Every one of you. Enough.

 

Favorites of the Week

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It seems I haven’t actually taken any pictures for fun this week, so I am sharing this picture Libbie took of all her Calico critters. Hehe.

Favorite links:

Recipes I want to try:

Favorite moments:

  • Spending all of Sunday cuddling with Joshua. Yes, he had a fever, but Mommy loves some snuggles.
  • Making meatloaf and buttermilk mashed potatoes for my people Thursday night.
  • Libbie telling me a hilarious and long story she made up in the car this morning.
  • Doing water aerobics while oldies music played and having a huge grin on my face. It just makes me happy!
  • Seeing response to my essential oils and depression post.
  • Big hugs from David every night as he proclaims he is thankful for Mommy or Daddy.
  • Seeing my husband loving on all three kids on the couch while they watched a movie.

Favorite offline reading: I am still reading The Woman in White. It never takes me this long to read a book. Insanity. I’m also working on Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, and if I can find some time I’d love to just sit down and devour it.

What’s going on with you and yours this week?

Essential Oils and Depression

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EOsanddepression

FDA Disclaimer:  The information, advice, statements, and testimonials made about the essential oils, blends, and products mentioned on this web site have not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The information on this site and the products listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease, nor are they intended to replace proper medical help. It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any regimen with essential oils.

I try to be very open about my struggle with depression. I’ve been on medicine for it most of the time since I was 20 years old – more than a third of my life. If you want to read a little background, here is My History Part 1 and 2. I wouldn’t try to hide it if I had cancer or a broken arm, and I won’t try to hide that depression is a major medical issue for me.

I go in and out of phases where it is worse and then better. When it’s worse, I have trouble making it through whole days. I cry a lot. I do a lot of contemplating what’s wrong with me and why God even gave me children when I am obviously the worst mom in the world.

After I bought my Young Living Premium Starter Kit, Tiffany sent me some information on oils for depression, knowing my story and struggles. I decided it couldn’t hurt to try them.

And I can tell you in completely honesty that I feel better emotionally, more stable, than I have in YEARS. As long as I stick to this regimen, that is – just like with any medicine, if I stop doing it, the results taper off. Essential oils, while not being medicine, are medicinal – they work with your body chemistry to detoxify and change things. So if I don’t use all the oils or I skip a day, I regret it.

Here is my regimen.

  • Valor :: I use one drop of Valor, undiluted, on my wrists and rub them together. Valor helps with courage (as well as snoring, but that’s a whole other issue).
  • Frankincense :: I use Sacred Frankincense, just because it’s what came in my kit when I ordered it (a short-lived replacement they did). I rub one drop, neat, at the top of my neck.
  • Stress Away :: Oh, we all know how I feel about Stress Away. Ahhhh. I rub Stress Away on the bottom of my neck and also anywhere I have tense muscles and knots on my shoulders.
  • Lemon :: I rub one drop of undiluted Lemon somewhere it won’t be exposed to sunlight, since it’s photosensitive – usually on my stomach stretch marks, since it can help fade them. You can substitute Grapefruit or Orange if you wish.
  • Joy :: I rub one drop of Joy (neat) over my heart and breathe it in deeply. The smell of it often turns people off at first, but the more I use it the more I love the scent of geranium in it. This blend also has rose, bergamot, and ylang ylang, among other oils.
  • Peace & Calming :: I rub one to two drops of Peace & Calming on the right side of my chest.

I’ve sometimes thought Peace & Calming wasn’t really doing much for my depression. Then I stopped using it. WHOAH. I recently realized when I started using it again how much it helps to calm my heart and my mind. I snap at the kids a lot less and am able to stay calm more when they drive me bonkers. And since it also helps me get to sleep at night, P&C is one of my very favorite oils.

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art source: Erwin Fisser via Flickr Creative Commons

Usually those six oils will keep me upbeat and out of that pit of depression I tend to fall into. This is on top of taking my antidepressant. I am not ready to try to taper off it, but I can see myself doing that in the future if I can keep the depression at bay with essential oils.

Sometimes I will also add White Angelica, one drop rubbed onto the top of each of my shoulders. White Angelica is a blend said to help combat negativity. It shares some of the same oils with Joy while adding sandalwood, spruce, melissa, myrhh, and others. It feels soothing on my shoulders and really does seem to affect my mood in a positive way.

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I’ve honestly put off writing this post for months, wanting to make sure it really was going to keep working. And I can attest that yes, these oils are seriously helping my depression and anxiety, too. I’ve had friends tell me that I seem more centered and that I appear to have found my way in parenting. The oils have definitely had a place in this. I thank God for His gift of the amazing properties of these plants! (I am sure finally finding my exercise mojo hasn’t hurt, either!)

Four of the six oils come in the Premium Starter Kit: Joy, Lemon, Stress Away, and Frankincense. Thankfully, Valor and Peace & Calming aren’t too expensive as far as essential oils go. If you’re interested in learning more about the oils or have any questions, leave me a comment or e-mail me at vanderbiltwife@gmail.com. Or if you just need to talk to someone about depression and staying sane as a mom – I’m your girl.