Sifting through Memories

My sister and I recently had the responsibility of preparing our deceased parents’ house for sale. My dad had moved to long term care after my mother died, but all of their things were still in the house after having lived there for 25+ years. And, everything from their previous households had moved there with them, so there was quite a bit of “stuff.” Boxes in the attic contained dolls from my childhood and my siblings’ childhood, as well as our baby clothes. We even came across an outfit that my dad (born in 1919) had worn as a toddler in some of his early photos.

I never knew my sister Zee Ann because she died in a car accident at 3 years old, before I was born. When going through the boxes from the attic, we found a child’s red train case with the name “Zee” painted on it. Inside were my deceased sister’s baby things—a small pink rattle, baby bracelet from the hospital, a lock of hair, tiny hair curlers. My heart ached, knowing the heartbreak my mother would have felt as she put these things in the case.   All of the baby things associated with hope and promise for the future, and yet she had to close them away in a case and put them in the attic.

Zee Ann's case
Zee Ann’s case

We smiled when we reviewed her Abilene High School annual and found her full page photo labeled “Most Friendly” from the Class of 1936. There were so many kind notes from her friends. “Swell” must have been a word used often back then–maybe kind of like “awesome” is used now.

I had such mixed feelings about letting their things go. It was clearly not practical or helpful to keep too many “things.” Just the fact that we were having to sort through so many items was reason to let go. And yet so many items were tangible reminders of my childhood. I had to tell myself that the memory itself is what matters. I selected a few items to keep, lots of photos to scan, and pulled away from the house.

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My heart ached for the tribulations my parents had to suffer—my brother’s developmental disability, my sister’s death. I wished life had been easier for them. I thought about this on the drive back home from Fort Worth to San Antonio. Unfortunately, the traffic was horrific that 4th of July weekend. I keep my lavender essential oil and Joy essential oil blend handy when I’m driving. I used some in my car diffuser, on my neck and forehead, and just inhaled some from the bottle. After 20 minutes I was less sad, more calm, and breathing easier.

I remembered that am grateful for an upbringing full of love and care from my parents. And we had happy times as a family. I hope they felt love from my sister Lyn and me at even a fraction of the love they gave us.

Jan and Lyn, circa 1959
Jan and Lyn, circa 1959
Lyn and Jan, 2016
Lyn and Jan, 2016

 

Summer Strategies

It is summer here in Texas which means HOT. Being an outdoor person, I’m using tools in the toolkit to stay cool while still enjoying the outdoors. Here are some strategies:

  • Get in the water. We are fortunate to have a pool in the back yard, so I get in the pool after work and have something cool to drink. It is a good way to exercise in this heat, and it makes me feel cool the rest of the evening. I can do water aerobics in my backyard pool. For some serious exercise, I do laps in our neighborhood pool. A great way to cool down and work in a new exercise at the same time.
  • How much water should you drink in a day? The 8 X 8 rule is easy to remember and a good place to start—Drink eight 8 ounce glass a water each day. But with heat and exercise, your body needs more. A good way to determine if you are well-hydrated is to pay attention to the color of your urine when you urinate. If it is dark yellow, your urine is very concentrated and you need more hydration. Work on keeping your urine clear to very light yellow. Also, remember that caffeine and alcohol dehydrate your body, so drink less of these when trying to stay hydrated.
  • Stay in the air conditioning during the hottest times of the day. I love being outside and during the summer I still go outdoors, but in the early morning and late evening. We took a recent hike in Palo Duro Canyon in July – but we started the hike when it was 68 deg F at 7:00am, and finished our hike a little after 9:00am when it was already 90+ deg F.
  • Use essential oils support – Since I’m still outdoors some in the summer, I make use of essential oil blends to stay cool and keep the bugs away.  Below is my recipe for citronella-based outdoor spray to stay annoyance-free. I add some peppermint for the cooling effect on the skin. See my blog post (Mosquito Strategy) for more tips on keeping the mosquitos away. Cooling spray is great for skin after being in the sun, or just to help cool your body down. It contains lavender, which soothes skin and peppermint, a natural cooling agent. I add aloe vera, witch hazel and water.
  • Wear a hat.  It’s been said “He who wears a hat lives a long life.” I’m not sure who said it, but this makes sense. A hat protects from the elements in the cold and the heat. In summers, a wide-brimmed hat protects your face and neck from the sun. I wore one when I hiked at Palo Duro Canyon recently.

    Palo Duro Canyon
    Palo Duro Canyon and my Stetson from Herb’s Hat Shop – July 2016

See recipes below:

Natural Outdoor Spray Recipe

Ingredients

Pinch of salt

10 drops of Purification (Young Living blend)

8 drops of Thieves

8 drops of Peppermint

8 drops of Lemongrass or Citronella

8 drops of Eucalyptus (Lemon Eucalyptus if you have it)

1 oz natural witch hazel (preservative)

Add distilled water to almost the top of the bottle.

4 oz glass spray bottle (http://www.abundanthealth4u.com
 or Amazon)

Directions.  Add salt to bottle, and then add essential oils and witch hazel. Add water last, filling to almost the top. 
Shake well and spray as needed on body or even around home to avoid annoyances.

After Sun and Cooling Spray

Ingredients:

Pinch salt

2 Tbsp Aloe Vera Gel

1 tsp Everclear or vodka (or witch hazel) for preservative

10 drops Lavender Oil

10 drops Peppermint Oil

4 oz glass spray bottle (Abundant Health or Amazon)

Instructions:  Add aloe vera gel to spray bottle. Then add essential oils and distilled water. Shake well to mix and spray on skin as needed.  Avoid eyes.