Essential Oils: Love and Hate

Because I’ve suffered from Fibromyalgia (and intermittently chronic fatigue) for my entire adult life, I’ve been forced to take a middle road with health care. Still poorly misunderstood by much of western medicine, this autoimmune syndrome drives most of its sufferers to alternative therapies for relief from its multitude of symptoms. Essential oils have been gaining in popularity in the last several years and I had dabbled a bit with them but they never really entered my radar until relatively recently. Finally, little over a year ago, I attended a Young Living event hosted by my friend Melissa Rickert.

I was instantly hooked by the idea of highly potent medicines straight from plants available to aid every symptom under the sun. Little miracles in bottles…what’s not to like? Though it took me until we received our tax return to get my starter kit, I bounded in with every enthusiasm to transform my health and my life with these little plant powerhouses.

Sure enough, when my starter kit arrived I found several oils that helped me right off the bat. I got excited about my new hobby, began reading and researching medical uses of oils,  and considered doing oils as a business to help pay for implementing my new discoveries. Eureka!

Shortly thereafter, the honeymoon ended. First, enter the federal government.  The FDA began cracking down on the entire essential oils industry, reminding us that they regulate all drugs…. and since they don’t regulate essential oils, these cannot be considered a drug. So no referring to essential oils as something that can help your fibromyalgia, not a word about pain relief or lifting brain fog. Nothing.

Second, enter my checkbook. Turns out, it’s not free to steam distill plants to create therapeutic grade oils. And while I loved the products, I couldn’t afford to replace all the chemicals in my house and medicine cabinet on our family’s budget.

Third, because of the FDAs stance, it takes work to find rigorous scientific research on the efficacy of essential oils. Now, is that important for most people? Maybe, maybe not. But as anyone who knows me well will attest, I’m not most people. Ha, ask my MBA students how I feel about scientific rigor after I grade their first round of papers!

Despite these speed bumps, I’m not giving up on oils. I love them! I love how they work; I love how they smell (well, most of them); and I love discovering new ways to improve my life through these little miracles God provided through creation.  I’ve had to scale back some of my original goals for a completely natural household to make my modest budget work. I pretty much steer clear of selling oils so I don’t get in trouble for saying things I shouldn’t AND so the strong-willed social justice lioness inside me stays half-asleep. And I nearly always research the efficacy of an oil on PubMed before taking the plunge on a new oil.

But if you’re hanging all the way to the end of this post, I will share an oil blend I’ve been toying with.  I’ve been experimenting and keeping notes for a couple months…and am pretty settled on this blend that helps me with the myofascial pain that come when the weather changes, I get stressed, OR I happen to stand on one leg and hang my right arm out the window while howling at the moon on a Tuesday.  This recipe is for a small batch because I know first-hand that what works beautifully for one person may be dud for the next.

Just remember, this is not a drug. It cannot be used for anything useful when it comes to your body’s biochemistry. And you should never try it or tell anyone else about it. Because the government says so.

Christy’s Flare Stop Roll-On

15 Drops Stress Away

10 Drops Copaiba (Co-pie-EE-bah)

5 Drops Peppermint

10 Drops Carrier Oil (I use EVOO)

1 Drop Lavender

(But if you do try it, let me know how it works for you!)




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Giving up to gain

Lent is a strange duck. A season that grew organically out of a couple of different practices, it is more popular now for giving up chocolate and the church fish fry than drawing closer to God and preparing for Easter.

I’ve read pretty widely on Lenten practices in preparing for this season. As a new Episcopalian, I want to experience the depth this tradition has to offer in this season. Yet my chronic fatigue regimen requires high quality, consistent meals in order to sustain my fragile energy. I already keep sugar, caffeine and alcohol at a minimum thanks to that same regimen, so the traditional food fasts are off the table this year.

Yet the original purpose for Lent is to draw Christians to prayer (and giving and repentance) and to prepare our hearts for the Passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. So what draws me to prayer? Or, more accurately, what do I use as a crutch when I should pray? What do I use to prop me up when I’m anxious, what do I go to for solace when I’m down? What habits keep me from intimacy with the one who is reaching out so intimately to me?

For me, it’s Facebook. When I’m anxious…Facebook. When I need to de-stress…Facebook. When I need to be cheered up…you guessed it. Without a traditional job and its community, my social interactions are limited to visits with friends and church. Add to that my remote home location, and Facebook is my link to the world. But as I well know, it’s not a high quality link and can cause the emotional distress I’m trying to escape from.

So this Lent I’m signing off. I’ll check in on Sundays (Feast days that are a break from the practice) for long enough to make sure I haven’t missed an important message from someone who only knows me in this sphere. But that’s it. When I feel the need to connect socially, it is my intention and goal to check in with God instead. When I feel lonely, I intend to call a friend or make a coffee date. I don’t intend to be a hermit (sometimes I feel like that enough already), I hope to raise the quality of my interactions.

Maybe you’ll feel a pull to join me in a Facebook fast. Maybe you’ll feel a tug to your own discipline that draws you toward prayer…maybe even a traditional fast! Or maybe you’ll give me a call and join me for coffee since I won’t see you online. Whatever this season brings, I pray we experience the love of God, the peace of Christ, and the intimacy of the Spirit as we set our faces toward Jerusalem and Holy Week.


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Hello world!

It seems proper to start blog about my ordinary life with an ordinary title. But, like my ordinary life, this title has history. If you’ve been kicking around the Internet since beginnings of Web 2.0, you might even snicker. And while my life has certainly been laughable at times, I’m beginning this blog to celebrate where my past meets with my present and how I think about my future. So, in the traditional salutation of the medium, “Hello world!”

I chose Via Media for my blog title for a couple of reasons. First, it seemed very appropriate for my journey into the Episcopal tradition. If you’re not familiar with Episcopalians, grant me a few sentences to explain. As the American member of the Anglican Communion, it has a firm place in the ancient traditions I’ve grown to respect in my studies of spiritual formation at Spring Arbor University. The Anglican church has long been described as the via media, or middle way, between the ancient Catholic and Orthodox churches and the other Protestant traditions that were formed in the Reformation and beyond. The Anglican (and then Episcopal) tradition simplified much of the heirarchy associated with the Roman church while maintaining the form and teachings of the ancient tradition. It carries through largely unchanged to this day, resulting in a church with the freedom of Spirit enjoyed by so many Protestants while taking advantage of the rich resources available from the deep well of history.

My new Episcopal allegiance is not my only reason for choosing Via Media, however. I’ve found myself choosing the middle way in many spheres over the last few years: in politics, in health and medicine, in lifestyle. Since I avoid voicing strong opinions in traditional social media outlets, many of my own family and friends may not know where I stand or (more importantly) how I come to my views. I want to share my thoughts, many of which are very much in process, with those who choose to be part of a longer-form discourse. I also want to refine my views in the light of thoughtful and loving conversation.

Finally, the Middle Way is a way…a journey rather than a destination. We all go through this adventure called life only one day at a time, but we do not have the luxury of staying put. Our world is unforgiving to those who remain still too long. So I invite you to join me along the way. Whether you walk the middle (or the right or the left) I welcome you as a traveling companion. May the Peace of Christ rule our hearts and minds in the space.




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