Saturday, April 16, 2016

And Time Slips By....

I had just gotten back into the groove of blogging when things went really downhill and then dramatically uphill in my life.  It's hard to explain how something that seemed so horrible at the time could turn into such a beautiful blessing.

I had a performance evaluation at work where I was told, basically, that I was spending too much time nursing and/or pumping for my daughter.  She was 7 months old and we had just learned she was very allergic to eggs (the hard way).  I refused to take less time to pump or to go home and feed her.  Two months later I had another evaluation where I was told, again, that I was taking too much time out of the work day to maintain my nursing relationship with my daughter.  I even offered to go hourly instead of salaried.  But, I was let go instead.

I was obviously devastated, but luckily we'd been pretty wise financially and I knew we'd be OK for a few months if I didn't find work right away.  Turns out, that wasn't even needed.  I was let go from my job on Tuesday and by Saturday I had a job offer.  For more money, even!

I have now been with this new company for five months and every day I can't believe how lucky I am to work there.  I went from an all-female management to a company owned by two men.  I was a little worried about pumping at work, but it turns out I wasn't the only breastfeeding mother and my bosses were fathers who understood.  They even put a lock on the conference room door my first week there so I could lock a door when I needed to pump.  I didn't even have to ask- they offered and had it installed right away.

It's an amazing place to work and I am now so relieved to be done with the toxic environment that was my old place of employment.  I love my bosses, my managers, and my co-workers.  I loved my co-workers and employees at my old job, but the management was a hot mess and very negative.  It's great to be done with that.

But with most changes in my life I found myself putting certain things on the back burner.  The blog was the first to be set aside.  I keep thinking I want to get back but time has been limited.  I will hopefully get some updates in here and there, but regular posting probably won't happen for a bit.  Sorry!

There are things to talk about, however!  I'm halfway through my Aromatherapy Certification program through Essence of Thyme College of Holistic Studies.  I also recently took an herbalist course from Gigi Stafne at Green Wisdom School of Natural and Botanic Medicine and Susan Weed at Well Woman University.  My aromatherapy and herbalism knowledge has grown and expanded and I have sooooo many things to share with you.

In due time.  Because, you know, time is short and the kids just woke up from their naps.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Becoming an Aromatherapist | How I Chose My School

I wrote a few months ago about my decision to start my journey to becoming a Certified Aroma Therapist.   This is the second post about becoming an aromatherapist out of many, I'm sure.  In this post I will tell you how I personally went about choosing my aromatherapy school.  Plus an update on how that is going!

Before I begin I want to make it clear that what was important to me may not be important to you.   If you are searching for a school right now you really need to sit down and make a list of your priorities and then begin your research based off your own priorities. 

Here is how I chose my school...

Type of Classroom
There are in person, online, and correspondence options when it comes to aromatherapy schools.  I love the idea of an in person classroom (and this is actually what I have chosen for going for my herbalist certification... more on that later!), but unfortunately there were no CA options in my area. 

Online is another great option, but knowing where I live I saw a flaw in that option.  We often lose internet here, sometimes for days on end.  I didn't want to have an important deadline or really be in the groove with my class and have to stop due to an outage.  Online is also not the best option for my style of learning.

I am a book person.  I want to open a book, read it, feel it, carry it with me, etc.  So I realized that a correspondence class was one that fit me best.  Although this wasn't a deal breaker for me, I would happily do an online class if it ended up being a good fit. 

Classroom Hours
Here's where I may differ from my American readers.  I wanted a Canadian course.  I live very close to the border and Canada tends to have stricter standards for CAs than America.  Although there is still no government regulation when it comes to education, Canadian organizations have created criteria that requires a bit more time and sections than American schools.  I know that if I ever decide to open a brick and mortar store in my town there's a good chance I'll have some Canadian clients.  If they know anything about CA's I wanted them to know that I have education that aligns with their standards, and possibly even join some Canadian organizations.

This isn't saying that American Standards aren't good, they are!  Canada just requires a little bit more.  I quickly realized that in order to become certified AND be able to list myself with a Canadian organization I was better off taking a Canadian class.  Some of the more popular American classes wouldn't give me the number of hours Canada requires, even if I took their advanced classes.

All this in mind I quickly narrowed my research down to Canadian schools that offered 300 hour 101 courses.

It's important to find someone you connect with, or at least someone you are comfortable working with.  I wanted an instructor who had ample years of experience in the aromatherapy field that they were able to teach based on their years of experience.  Someone who could answer questions I have not from reading from a book, but from pulling from their experiences.

I also wanted someone who was quick to reply to emails and took the time to answer the questions I had.  So when I had my choices narrowed down to two schools I emailed both the same list of questions and waited.  Then I sent a follow up email to see the response time on that and strongly considered this timing in my decision.

While I'd love to have endless funds and have the cost of a program not be a consideration in my decision, it was.  It was a BIG consideration.   It was also the reason that Canadian schools were so appealing to me.

You see, they charge about the same as American schools, but charge in Canadian dollars.  As an American I would pay in American dollars and benefit from the weak Canadian dollar in this transaction.  At the time I paid for my course I was able to save 30% on the cost.  So my $555 course only cost me about $400 after I paid for shipping and taxes.  That's not too bad considering it was a 300 hour course and many American schools charge twice that for half the amount of hours.

Those were my main criteria for choosing a school.  I then spent HOURS looking at website after website, mostly using the NAHA and AIA websites to find schools, and narrowed it down to two schools.  My email correspondence with them narrowed it down to my final choice. 

Colleen was quick to answer emails, offered a 300 hour 101 correspondence course, and charged in Canadian dollars.  Essence of Thyme checked every box for me.

I started the course in October and recently finished my midterm exam.  Being halfway through the course I can tell you that I am extremely happy with how things are going!  I am learning so much using a style that works for me.  I have even started taking on a few clients (actually required as part of the midterm!) and love created custom products.  So much so I even opened my own Etsy shop called the North Shore Apothecary.

I am not a certified aromatherapist... yet!  I am in line to finish my course in January or February next year.  Then I am taking an in-person Herbalism course to become a Certified Herbalist.  Once I complete that I will finish my aromatherapy degree with Colleen's 201 Course, which is an additional 300 hours for a total of 600 hours of education.  Then maybe I'll get my Master Herbalist certification.  And then I will really be looking to expand North Shore into something great... I hope! 

Stay tuned.  I'll update more on my Aromatherapy journey in a few months!

Monday, November 30, 2015

And I'm Back!

What a whirlwind these last couple of weeks have been!  I am happy to report that my trip to California went great and I am now back in possession of the majority of my belongings.  I do not have my dogs yet, but they have a ride arranged and should be here later this week!  Things are finally falling into place and I'm starting to feel more settled here.

Then we got the results back from Calla's allergy appointment.  She is indeed allergic to eggs.  Egg whites, to be specific (she doesn't not appear to react at all to egg yolks).  I was dreading this news initially, but having been avoiding eggs for almost two months now I'm realizing it's not as hard as I thought.  The doctor recommended we try one food that had eggs baked into it, so we tried pancakes and she had no reaction.  She's since had pancakes three other times with still no reactions.  We still need to avoid food that are primarily egg (and no flu shot), but if it's just one ingredient of many it seems she can tolerate it.  This week we will try another food with egg in it and see how it goes.  The doom and gloom we were first experiencing when this happened has worn off quite a bit and everything seems manageable now.  So that's very good news!

Otherwise things have finally calmed down around here quite a bit.  I'm home, unpacked, back at work, and my baby girl is healthy.  I couldn't ask for more.  :)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Crazy Little Thing Called Life | Calla Update

It's been over three weeks now and I still remember every detail of this day.  Easily the scariest day of my life.  The day I thought I might lose my baby girl.

It was Thursday.   My mom was up for a visit so we decided to take the kids out to breakfast. 

Although she had just turned 7 months we hadn't really started feeding solids yet.  Calla would get bites of her brother's food (courtesy of her brother, of course!) and occasionally we'd let her taste our food, but I'd had a traumatic experience with the first time Bear ever ate solids, so I wasn't in any rush to start Calla on them.  But, like I said, she'd nibble here and there.

So there we were.  At breakfast.  I ordered french toast, eggs, and bacon.  I got Bear toast, sausage, and eggs.  This restaurant doesn't have little kid seats so Calla was in her car seat, but I had unstrapped her so she could sit up.  I had her nestled next tome on the booth. 

From where she sat she could reach my food and Bears.

So I let her grab and play with our food.  She didn't really eat anything, just put some things in her mouth, spit it out, then picked up something else and played with that.  I didn't even think she actually ate anything.

As we were leaving I turned her to put her back in her car seat and strap her in, and that's when I saw her face.  She was a little swollen and had red bumps around her mouth and chin.  I remember thinking it was weird, but thought it was from wiping her runny nose with wipes all day.

We put her in the car and drove a mile home.  Along the way I noticed she started sounding a little wheezy.  But, she had a cold.  So, again, I didn't really think too much of it.

My husband called and needed a ride home from work so I left and went to get him.  8 minutes.  That's how long it took to get my husband from work.  When I returned my mom was standing in the entry way, holding my baby girl. 

She was covered in hives and struggling to breath.

On the drive to the ER, which is only 2 miles from my house, I was hearing her wheezing in her car seat.  At one point the wheezing stopped.  I had my mom go back and see if she was still breathing.  I thought for sure she'd stopped.

She was still breathing... but struggling.

Three hours later she was hive free, breathing fine, her blood pressure had returned to normal, and we were being told this was an Anaphylaxic allergic reaction, likely to some of the food she was playing with at breakfast.

She didn't even eat anything!  Not really...

This bad of a reaction and she didn't even eat it.

We met with an allergy specialist last week and he gave us the doom and gloom news that since her first attack was that bad it's possible her second could be worse.   He suspects the eggs to be the culprit, but is testing for soy, wheat, dairy, and a few other things, just to be sure.  We still won't know for a while what she's allergic to and how bad it really is.  It cold have also been environmental- something within the restaurant that caused it. 

But, most likely, it's food.

Anyway, if you've been wondering where I've been the past couple of weeks, let's just say I've spent many hours in my kitchen reading the label on every food item we have.  Anything with eggs is gone.  Since it's bad enough that just contact with the food caused the reaction it all needed to go until we are sure. 

What's funny is that I never really took food allergies seriously.  Maybe because most people who say they have a food allergy really don't.  They might have an irritation or gastro-response to them, but it's not a real allergy.  I have never before seen a real allergic reaction until that day.

They are frightening.  And they are serious.  And I have no idea how to deal with it.

But I'll learn.

I'm going on vacation to California for some work and to retrieve some belongings we left behind when we moved to Minnesota.  So if you don't hear from me for a bit, that's why.  I plan to keep on with the blog as soon as I return and have some BIG NEWS to share in the aromatherapy front!  Of course, I will also update on Calla's situation when I have more news. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Photography | Utlimate Digital Photography Bundles Flash Sale

Did you miss the Ultimate Photography Bundles earlier this year?  Well you can buy the bundles TODAY!!!  Check it out.  Starting at only $37 and includes products, classes, and other deals.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tingly Mint Synergy Winner

 Congratulations to Darcee who just won the 30ml bottle of Plant Therapy's Tingly Mint from my own personal stash!  Darcee has purchased four of Plant Therapy's Grab Bags and didn't get this oil in any of them.  So happy she's finally able to add it to her stash.

Stay tuned because next week I am giving away Young Living's Rosemary (15ml bottle)!  And I have lots of fun stuff coming up later this week.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Essential Oils | Peppermint Scent Test

I feel like I am really on a learning curve with things right now.  Just when I think I have something "down", I throw myself for another loop.

Take the scent tests, for example.

I knew I wanted to do a Peppermint scent test because it's a very commonly used oil that has a ton of benefits and I have many varieties of it.  I thought it would make for a great scent test.

I was wrong.

It wasn't the Peppermint... it was the AMOUNT of Peppermint.  I have six different varieties.  Six is far too many to do a scent test with.  As you can see by the pictured notebook entry for this scent test, I was confused... a lot!  I was constantly second guessing my decision.  I also reversed the order I sniffed the sticks in and took a lot longer because I found my ability to smell the oils were gone by the time I got to the sixth stick.  So I'd wait five minutes and keep going after three, but then I'd forgotten what the first three smelled like.  So there was a lot of sniffing and re-sniffing and second guessing.

It was too much.

Lesson learns- four is the max I will ever do with a scent test going forward!  Otherwise I fear I can't give reliable results.  For now, though, what's done is done and I have my results for my Peppermint Scent Test!

Once again this was a blind test.  My husband assigned the oils their numbers and did the drops.  I didn't see the sticks until this process was done so I had no idea which oil was on which stick until the very end.  This time I'm not overly surprised by the results as I'm not too particular with Peppermint.  What I did learn, however, is that I have a preference about WHERE Peppermint is grown.

Terminology used...
First,  determined the strength of the aroma.  I used the following words when describing strength (in order from strongest to weakest):

Mild (has replaced Mellow)

Then I quickly scribbled down the first few keywords that popped into my head to describe the scent.  Sometimes I had to do a second sniff in order to place what it was I was smelling, but usually I would smell, write, then smell again to ensure I'd captured everything.

After writing down my feelings I ranked the oils based  on which I enjoyed most to least. The number listed after the scent description is my preference rank.

My experience with scents may differ from the next person.  That's the fun part of aromatherapy (or would that be the frustrating part?).  So my results may differ from yours.  These are my experiences only.

Now, the oils...
Peppermint #1: Eden Botanicals, Mentha piperita, India, Organic
Peppermint #2: Young Living, Mentha piperita, No Country of Origin Listed (I suspect it is USA)
Peppermint #3: Plant Therapy, Mentha piperita, USA
Peppermint #4: Eden Botanicals, Mentha piperita, USA
Peppermint #5: Simply Aroma, No Botanical Name Given, No Country of Origin
Peppermint #6: Eden Botanicals, Mentha piperita, France

Initial Results...
Peppermint #1: Strong, minty, clean, crisp, sharp  (1)
Peppermint #2: Moderate, minty clean, crisp  (3)
Peppermint #3: Moderate, minty, sweet, crisp (5)
Peppermint #4: Moderate, herbal, grassy, minty, smooth (2)
Peppermint #5: Mild, minty, sweet, smooth (6)
Peppermint #6: Strong, minty, clean, crisp (4)

1 Hour Later...
Peppermint #1: Strong, minty, clean, crisp (3)
Peppermint #2: Moderate, minty, earthy (4)
Peppermint #3: Moderate, minty, sweet, clean (6)
Peppermint #4: Moderate, herbal, minty, smooth, earthy (2)
Peppermint #5: Moderate, minty, clean, crisp (5)
Peppermint #6: Strong, minty, clean, crisp (1)

5 Hours Later...
Peppermint #1: Moderate, minty, little sweet, clean (3)
Peppermint #2: Moderate, minty, sweet (5)
Peppermint #3: Strong(er), minty, earthy, crisp (1)
Peppermint #4: Mild, minty, sweet (4)
Peppermint #5: Mild, minty, sweet, crisp, dirty (6)
Peppermint #6: Moderate, minty, earthy, crisp (2)

24 Hours Later...
Peppermint #1: Mild, little bit of mint, not much left (5)
Peppermint #2: Mild, minty, musty, old (6)
Peppermint #3: Mild, minty, musty (4)
Peppermint #4: Mild, minty, dirty, like wet dishes (3)
Peppermint #5: Mild, minty, sweet, crisp (2)
Peppermint #6: Mild, minty, earthy, crisp (1)

2 Days Later...
Peppermint #1: Weak, minty (1)
Peppermint #2: Weak, musty (3)
Peppermint #3: Weak, musty (2)
Peppermint #4: Scent gone (6)
Peppermint #5: Almost gone (5)
Peppermint #6: Weak, musty (4)

I think the best way to conclude this is that I suck at smelling peppermint.  I feel like each one changed each time I smelled it.  I did smell in reverse order every other time, and I frequently had to check to make sure I was smelling the right stick.  Smells went from earthy to sweet and then back to earthy to me.  From pleasant to not pleasant.  And often times I gave an oil a 3 rating because something had to be ranked 3, but I didn't really like it...  It was just a confusing scent test.

But, ultimately, there must be a "winner". 

Peppermint #1 and Peppermint #6 are tied for my favorites.  So Eden Botanical's India and France beat out USA.  I'm a little sad about that because Peppermint is an oil that is readily available in home-grown (for me) variety.  I really wanted to like the USA ones the best, but I didn't.

Both of these oils were regularly ranked high except at 24 Hours where Peppermint #1 was the weakest.  However, at two days, it was the only one that still smelled minty, so it redeemed itself.  So I ranked it high.

Second place would probably go to Peppermint #3, which is from Plant Therapy.  I did not like this oil upon initial sniff.  it was sweet, and I don't like sweet peppermints.  But by hour 5 it was the strongest and had a very pleasant earthy minty smell to it.  If this oil could always smell like it did at Hour 5 I would LOVE it!

Next Peppermint #4 (Eden Botanicals, USA).  I actually LOVED Eden Botanicals, USA the most in the beginning.  It had the earthy and herbal smell I love out of my Peppermint, but it went downhill rather fast.  I really thought it was going to win until that weird dirty dished smell broke through at 24 hours.  It was just kind of gross.  It only got a 3 ranking at that point because none of the bottom three were very pleasant.  At the 2 day mark it was completely gone.  It was the only one that was completely gone by the end.

Peppermint #2 from Young Living I'd rank next.  I want to make note that this is an older oil compared to the rest!  I purchased my YL Peppermint in April 2014.  #5 Simply Aroma was purchased in the summer of 2014 and the rest were all purchased this summer.  However, YL claims that their oils don't expire or go bad, so, in their theory, it should have held up over time.  I'm not quite sure it did.  I remember this oil being more earthy and lovely when I first got it.  Had this been a new bottle, it may have ranked higher. 

Peppermint #5 from Simply Aroma comes in last.  It did do well at the 24 hour mark, but that's mostly because everything else started smelling a little icky (YL and EB from USA especially).  It was just a "blah" oil.  Never that strong, never that lovely... it was peppermint for sure, just not my favorite ever.  It also bothers me that the company didn't put any information about the oil on the packaging.  The website did list Mentha piperita as the Botanical name, but no country of origin.  The age of this oil may also contribute to its low ranking.