Social Media Reset

Before FB and IG went down for six hours worldwide, I was already limiting my time spent on social media. Now I’m doing what I call a social media reset. 

When MySpace first started, followed by Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, it was simply a way to see what your friends were up to without using the telephone or your family’s gossip line. (Come on, everyone has that one family member who passes on all the news.) 

I remember sending letters through the mail. I still do this sometimes, but not as often. 

I remember emailing friends back and forth just to chat.

I remember picking up the phone regularly to talk to someone. My husband courted me by phone for a year before we got married. 

I remember visiting blogs and leaving comments that the author would reply to, which sometimes led to an entire conversation and a few times, even friendship. 

I remember not having apps for social media. 

I remember going to the Facebook website and seeing what my family and friends were doing. I looked at photos of their children as they grew up, read about their latest adventure in home remodeling, and connected with them even when they were across the country or the world. It wasn’t full of angry political opinions. In fact, we didn’t talk about politics on social media. It was literally and simply just to be social with each other. 

Over time, social media has morphed, as everything does. 

Stay-at-home moms who started selling products for companies like Avon, PartyLite, and Amway discovered they could reach more people by using social media. 

Retail businesses found social media to be an effective and inexpensive way to advertise. 

Celebrity figures realized social media was a new platform to increase their popularity. 

Political officials began utilizing social media to proclaim their objectives. 

Now, there is not a single minute that goes by where someone doesn’t post about politics. This isn’t even the politicians posting; it’s normal people. And it’s gotten ugly. 

About nine years ago, I took a thirty-day break from social media because there was so much anger over the election results. I did it again four years ago. My heart couldn’t handle how mean people were acting, people I knew and loved. 

At the end of February 2020, my family spent a few days in Puerto Rico, then went on a cruise to the Caribbean. It was fabulous! We chose not to have phone or internet access while on the cruise. When we disembarked and waited at the airport for our flight home, we started seeing insanity on social media. There were photos of empty store shelves and overflowing shopping carts. After some digging on the news sites, we finally figured out that people were panic-buying toilet paper due to a pandemic. 

Since we were out of touch for a full eight days, it took us some time to catch up on the news. The cruise that left after we returned — on the same boat — ended up stranded at sea for several weeks. We were thankful that the timing happened for us the way it did. 

But social media blew up. People were posting about shortages of food and general household items. They were talking about other people being sick and dying. Then came the rage, from every political stance and all sides. 

“Wear a mask, or else.” 

“Don’t wear a mask! It’s against your freedom.” 

“You can’t come in here without a mask or vaccine.”

“Boycott businesses who require masks or vaccines.”

“You can’t work here without a vaccine.”

“Quit your job if they want you to get the vaccine.”

It hasn’t stopped. For over eighteen months, social media has been bursting at the seams with rants. Now, it’s about the COVID-19 inoculation. 

And people are still angry. 

It’s damaging to my mental and emotional health. I felt myself spiraling into depression at the end of last year, and I was a little concerned for a couple of weeks that I would not make it out. That’s when I fully understood that having all of this anger and conflict constantly in my face was causing extreme harm. 

Since then, I have been slowly pulling back from social media. I set a time limit on my phone to help stop the mindless scrolling. I worked on building and maintaining more in-person friendships. 

Last month, I did a “Back To” challenge with motivational speaker and author Jon Acuff. He said a few comments that stuck with me. Basically, we watch people on social media who appear to have it all together and compare them to ourselves. We know we don’t have it all together, so this comparison causes us to feel less than others. We aren’t as good, strong, healthy, pretty; we don’t make enough money, have a nice enough house, or own the latest gadget. We must be less because we’re lacking. 

Most of social media is fake. Real beats fake.

Jon Acuff

The truth is people post primarily good things about their lives on social media because we don’t want to admit the hard stuff to a bunch of strangers. Wait, what? Why are the people we’re friends with on social media strangers? Huh. 

My biggest takeaway from the Back To challenge was the importance of removing from my social media who are not actually my friends. 

We all have them: friends of friends that we haven’t met, people we networked with and then barely talked to ever again, or even a stranger that seemed interesting at the time. Why? If we do not truly care for each other, why are we seeing snippets of each other’s lives? What’s the point of being friends?

My social media reset includes removing “friends” who are just acquaintances, friends of friends. I am keeping only those I’ve met in person or have had meaningful interactions with. I am unfollowing people I want to stay in touch with, but are also in the throes of numerous political rants. 

I’m wondering when I’m done if I’ll even have anyone left on my “friends list.” I wonder if I’ll even care.

I will attack my groups next. I’m in probably over one hundred Facebook groups, and some haven’t been active for over a year or more. Why am I still in them? Because there was information in there that I wanted to access later. Well, it’s not that hard to pull that information and save it to my computer if it’s something I feel strongly about. Some groups I joined when I had a network marketing business or to help friends with their network marketing businesses. Others are special interest groups. How many of them are still important and relevant to me? 

Finally, I am removing the apps from my phone. I can check in from the computer or even my phone’s browser. I don’t need the distractions from real life and the things that matter. I especially don’t need to see all the anger, grief, and madness in the world. I know it’s there, and I’m not putting my head in the sand. But I am choosing to see it on my terms. 

How am I going to connect with others if I’m not using social media as much? Simple. I am going to visit blogs and leave comments. I am actually going to talk to my neighbors and people in my community. I will *gasp!* call my friends and family. I might even go back to writing letters and sending cards regularly. I will build and nurture relationships that matter. These activities are healthier for my mind and spirit and will probably uplift others as well. 

What about those people I’ve only met online but have authentic connections? I will remain in contact with them, but the platform might be different. Instead of Facebook, maybe I’ll chat with them on Slack or by email. Or we’ll actually exchange phone numbers or email addresses. Perhaps they won’t be willing to visit outside of social media, and we’ll talk from time to time when I see those sites. But I think if we have a genuine relationship, they will meet me halfway across cyberspace. 

And if not, if those friends are so deeply mired in social media that they are resistant to email exchanges, I may have to count them among the lost friends. That will be sad, of course. However, I am no longer willing to compromise my mental health for others.

My social media reset has been months in the making. It’s time. 

Busy Night Meals

It’s autumn, and besides cooler days and crisp nights, it means school is back in session. A lot of families are busy with extracurricular activities. My children have always been active in sports, band, and various clubs, so I’ve become a pro at sticking to our grocery budget while providing healthy meals. Fast food is a treat for our family, especially as feeding hungry athletes gets expensive. 

Another mom commented on how organized and prepared I am for dinner at one of our soccer games. She teased, saying I have a little kitchen going on the bleachers. I responded with, “I have to be since I’m feeding eight people tonight!” Naturally, the conversation devolved into tailgate parties and grilling. Still, it made me think about other parents who might need some solid ideas on keeping the family fed without breaking the bank. 

Whether you’re eating at the game or need something quick for the short time at home before the concert, you’ll find inspiration here. 

Slow Cooker 

Do an internet search for “busy family meals” or similar phrasing, and I guarantee there will be slow cooker recipes on the first page. I typically avoid any slow cooker meals that require browning the meat before adding to the pot, but usually, that’s because I tend to run out of time in the morning, and I failed to prepare ahead. My go-to slow cooker meals are all “dump and go.” 

You can take any of these slow cooker meals on the go (see my tip below).

White Chicken Chili — I use thawed chicken breasts and shred them right before serving. Any leftovers taste delicious when transformed into enchiladas. Roll the chicken chili in tortillas, smother them in green enchilada sauce and cheese, then baked at 350 degrees until warm.

Hawaiian Chicken — I sometimes like to add green and red bell peppers. Serve over rice. If you have one, use a rice cooker with a delay-start option to save time.

Hamburger Lentil Soup — This is great after a chilly evening spent at the field! You can make this vegetarian by omitting the hamburger and using 2 cups of vegetable broth instead of the bullion. 

Instant Pot

For busy nights, don’t forget that the instant pot needs time to come up to pressure before cooking. However, being able to dump everything in a gadget and have it do the work means you’re free to help with homework or decompressing after a tough day. You can transform the slow cooker recipes into instant pot meals if you know how to do that sort of thing. For the rest of us, here are a few easy recipes. 

Spaghetti — Add a side salad, and dinner is done.

Pork Pot Roast — Roast is on our comfort food list, and this one is easy and flavorful. 

Mac & Cheese — This is another crowd favorite! Add pre-cooked bacon bits just before serving for extra flair. Serve with steamed vegetables or a salad to round out your meal.

Pre-Made or Assemble on Site

Sandwiches — This is an oldie, but goodie. My family never seems to tire of a well-built sandwich. Be sure to include small containers or individual packets of condiments, and don’t forget the pickles! Add sliced fruit and veggie sticks, and you have a satisfying meal. 

Wraps — A variation on the sandwich, but my daughter insists it’s totally different. 

Burritos — Simply spread refried beans on tortillas, top with cheese and taco sauce, roll, and heat in the oven for 15-20 minutes until warm. Then wrap the burritos in tin foil for traveling. 

Walking Tacos — Requiring a bit more time to prepare ahead, Walking Tacos are a favorite in my family. I make the meat mixture ahead of time and keep it warm. Then at half-time, I assemble everyone’s meal. 

Tips and Tricks

Everyone knows how to keep food cold until you’re ready to eat: bust out that trusty cooler. But how do you keep food hot while on the go? Bust out that trusty cooler! We have two small coolers we use for game nights: one for cold food, one for hot food. You can wrap hot food in tin foil or place it in containers. I line the bottom of the cooler with a dishtowel, put the food in, then place another dishtowel on top. It usually stays warm for at least two hours this way. 

Want to take the entire slow cooker or instant pot insert to the game? Simply wrap it in a towel and place it in a cardboard box. The extra insulation of the towel will keep the food hot.

Meal planning is key. Always look ahead to the next week, or even the next month, and make a note of which evenings are going to be hectic. Make a list of meals, add ingredients to your shopping list, and you’re ready!

Prepare ahead as much as possible, so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute while little Timmy needs help finding his cleats. Depending on the space and time you have available, prepping ahead might mean you chop vegetables and cook the meat. Or it might mean you grocery shop and organize the ingredients by meal. The point is to do whatever you can in advance to avoid adding more chaos.

Make a portable kitchen. Use a tote or a large bag, and fill it with disposable plates, bowls, cups, silverware, and napkins. Add in a couple of serving spoons and baby wipes, and you’re all set!

Almost anything that can be prepared ahead and easily assembled will work for these busy evenings. Think of the meals you take camping or on road trips. Make a list of recipes that your family loves so you can easily reference it when the season starts. 

Busy-night dinners do not have to be hard. Neither do they always need to be fast food or from the concession stands. Your family will appreciate the care you’re taking of them, and the teachers/coaches will appreciate that your kids are getting healthy nutrition so they can be at their best.

Post 5-Day Cleanse

In light of learning about some food intolerances I have, I decided to do a 5-Day Cleanse to sort of jump start my system into accepting the new way of eating. It worked, sort of. I followed Young Living’s nutritional cleanse and posted all the directions in a Facebook group for other YL members to join in.

I began the cleanse on a Friday, and was excited to start. The day before, I went grocery shopping and prepped the allowed foods so everything was ready. I told my family I was doing this, and my husband was in full support.

Day 1: I felt pretty good. I was a little hungry mid-day, but drank a lot of water and it passed.

Day 2: I woke up with a headache. Usually for me, this means I will end the day with a migraine. I read that headaches can be a part of the detox process, though, so I used M-Grain essential oil on my temples and drank water. It eased up a little, but I was pretty miserable by evening. I decided to forgo the protein shake for dinner and had a salad with tuna, no dressing. I went to bed feeling as if I was getting sick.

Day 3: I started shaking. Thinking back, it may have been withdrawal symptoms as my body was being deprived of its morning tea. However, I was also dizzy, and as I have a slight heart defect that can cause dizziness and issues with blood pressure, I decided to end the cleanse.

Since then, I have not had any gluten, diary, or eggs. I am feeling fantastic overall, and have noticed some of my gut issues have subsided a bit. I will remain gluten-free for the rest of my life, as I know it is an ongoing issue. However, I want to attempt to add back in eggs and dairy after thirty days. Especially the eggs! I can handle no dairy, even though I love cheese. There are a lot of cheese alternative products that my friends say are pretty tasty. We got chickens because I love eggs for a protein source, and I think my heart will break a little if I discover I really can’t have them.

Have you done a cleanse before? What was your experience? I would love to hear from you!

Essential Oil Usage

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DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional of any kind. I cannot prescribe, diagnose, or treat diseases. All the information contained in this article is from my own research and experiences. 

Earlier we talked about how to choose a good brand of essential oils. Now, let’s talk about essential oil use and safety. Knowing how to safely use essential oils is extremely important. First, what is an essential oil?

MedicineNet defines essential oils as: “An oil derived from a natural substance, usually either for its healing properties or as a perfume. Some pharmaceuticals, and many over-the-counter or ‘holistic’ remedies, are based on or contain essential oils. For example, products containing camphor or eucalyptus essential oils can help relieve congestive coughs, and many essential oils are used in the practice of aromatherapy.”

The U.S. National Library of Medicine states that an essential oil is: “The scented liquid taken from certain plants using steam or pressure. Essential oils contain the natural chemicals that give the plant its “essence” (specific odor and flavor). Essential oils are used in perfumes, food flavorings, medicine, and aromatherapy.”

Notice both definitions indicate that essential oils are used in medicine. You wouldn’t take a cough syrup or prescription without knowing the proper dosage, and the same should apply to essential oils. When starting out with essential oils it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the information available. I’m going to break it down for you as simply as I can.

There are three ways to use essential oils: aromatically, topically, and internally.

Aromatic use is probably the most common and is usually done by placing the essential oil in a diffuser which then expels the scent into the air. You can also place a drop of essential oil in your palms or on a cloth and then inhale the scent. In general, this is considered to be the safest way to use essential oils. Some things to consider before aromatic use are pet safety (remember, some types of pets are more sensitive to some essential oils than others), child safety (extremely young children should not be exposed to some essential oils), and the desired result of use. Sometimes I diffuse because I want the house to smell good, other times I use it to boost my mood on gloomy rainy days.

Topical use is placing the essential oils on the skin and it includes massage therapy. When using essential oils in this way, it is very important that you follow label directions for dilution requirement. Some oils are considered “hot,” and can be irritating or even harmful if applied without being diluted first. It’s easy to dilute an essential oil. If the label indicates to dilute one drop of essential oil with one drop of carrier oil, simply put one drop of your choice of carrier oil in the palm of your hand, add the drop of essential oil and apply as needed. What are carrier oils? It is any vegetable oil derived from the fatty portion of a plant, such as olive oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, sunflower seed oil, and many more. Most likely you have a carrier oil in your kitchen. Something else to remember when using essential oils topically is that some are considered photosensitive and should not be applied prior to going out in the sun or tanning. Mild to serious burns might result.

Internal use is controversial because of the use of synthetic ingredients in some brands of essential oils. As we talked about before, many people think all essential oils are the same but they are not. The result is the improper use of essential oils. Only oils specifically labeled for internal use should be taken internally. Always follow the label’s directions. When using a dietary essential oil, you can drop it in your water (but not if the container or straw is plastic), put it in a vegetable capsule and take it, or use it in cooking to flavor your food. I just made my children blueberry lemon pancakes this morning using Young Living’s Lemon Vitality Essential Oil. If you are not sure if the essential oil can be taken internally, don’t use it that way. The label will clearly state if it is for topical and aromatic use only, or internal.

As always, do your research, ask someone knowledgeable, and follow the label directions. Consult your medical professional before using, especially if you have underlying health issues. Some essential oils can react with prescription medications.

Choosing Essential Oil Brands

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Please note: I am not a doctor or veterinarian and cannot give medical advice. The information contained in this article is from my personal knowledge and research. I have been using Young Living Essential Oils for four years, including around and on my children and pets, without any ill effects. I have done hours upon hours of research before using them, and I still study their uses and effects.

Lately, there have been a lot of posts on social media about the dangers of essential oils to pets. People read these, share them without another thought, and essential oils are blamed for illness and death in pets. This causes frustration on many levels because those same posts don’t always state what brand of essential oils were used. Some brands include synthetic fragrances and are not truly pure plant matter. The FDA does not regulate essential oils and states the following:

“There is no regulatory definition for “essential oils,” although people commonly use the term to refer to certain oils extracted from plants. The law treats Ingredients from plants the same as those from any other source.”

For example, “essential oils” are commonly used in so-called “aromatherapy” products. If an “aromatherapy” product is intended to treat or prevent disease, or to affect the structure or function of the body, it’s a drug. To learn more, see “Aromatherapy.”

Similarly, a “massage oil intended to lubricate the skin is a cosmetic. But if claims are made that a massage oil relieves aches or relaxes muscles, apart from the action of the massage itself, it’s a drug, or possibly both a cosmetic and a drug,” 

Wait, what?

“The law treats Ingredients from plants the same as those from any other source.”

This means that an essential oil containing only steam distilled Lavandula angustifolia (lavender) and a lab-created synthetic fragrance of lavender can both be labeled as pure essential oils.

This is why knowing where your products come from is so important. Essential oils — the real plant matter ones, not the lab-created ones — have been shown to help support overall feelings of wellness in all kinds of animals, from humans to dogs, from cats to guinea pigs, and even birds. But there are a lot of cheap, fake oils out there and people are not educated on the lack of regulation of essential oils, how they are made, or their proper use. They buy a diffuser, set it up, and start making their homes smell good without a thought to what is actually in that little bottle. How, then, do we know that it’s the Eucalyptus globulus and not eucalyptus fragrance that is causing our dear pets to have medical emergencies? We don’t, and yet essential oils, in general, are being blamed.

If you’re interested in learning how to live above the wellness line with essential oils, it is highly suggested that you seek out a reputable company and not purchase essential oils from the local grocery store. Do some research and ask some of the following questions:

1) How long has the company been in business?

2) Does the company own their farms or have partner farms?

3) Does the company control everything from planting to bottling?

4) Are the essential oils steam distilled and is the oil going into the bottle from the first distillation?

5) Are the oils tested both by the company’s quality control and by third parties?

6) How many tests are done? There are currently 20 possible tests that can be done to check an essential oil’s quality and constitution. (We will talk about these in a future article.)

7) Are they synthetic-free?

8) Are they organic?

9) Are any labeled as a dietary supplement?

Next, do your research. Lots and lots of research. Please don’t take your neighbor’s cousin’s sister’s word for how to use essential oils. Definitely ask your friends and family questions, but then follow up their answers with studying. Find out which oils might irritate the skin if used improperly. Learn about carrier oils, photosensitivity, and possible prescription drug interactions. Study the use of each oil, including what they can be used for, how to use them, and general safety information. When you start to use essential oils, start slow! Don’t set up your diffuser and add 15 drops of lemon. Instead, use 2 drops and monitor how you (and your pets) feel.

Yes, you can diffuse (real) essential oils around your pets. Place the diffuser in a main living area and make sure your pet is able to go to another room if they don’t like the smell. Never apply essential oils topically to your pet without consulting a veterinarian, and never apply undiluted essential oils. Start with ones that do not have phenols or salicylate in them. Oils that contain phenols or salicylate include, but are not limited to: Wintergreen, Basil, Oregano, and Tea Tree. Many people pick up essential oils because they smell good, and then use them similarly to candles or wax melts, but they can be so much more with the right quality and information. They can also be harmful if you are not armed with knowledge.

Life With Chickens

 

6E03BC7B-7B89-4F8D-B488-A5787D2368B6-660x400@2xThere are many things that you learn both before and during the process of raising chickens. At least, I learned a lot. I researched the best breeds for our climate, and cross-checked them with the best egg-laying breeds, then cross-checked them again with the personality types. I learned what the best mixture of non-GMO food was, and approximately how much water per day each chicken needed. I figured out the minimum square foot per bird ratio, then doubled it when we built the coop. I made lists of common ailments and their remedies, just in case. I read articles about how to train your dog to not attack your birds. I thought I was prepared for a life of raising chickens and gathering eggs.

I was wrong.

My research, which took place over a period of a year before we actually got any chicks, was not as complete as I had thought. The things I didn’t know about chickens were, and probably still are, plentiful. There are more to these egg-laying machines than meets the eye.

For starters, I didn’t realize that each hen has her own very distinct personality. It wasn’t obvious at first, but as the chicks grew into pullets then full-grown hens, we noticed we could tell one from the other based on how they were acting. From there it as only a matter of time, probably days, really, that each of us became attached to individual chickens and farm animals suddenly became more like pets.

We told the children not to name them, knowing that death would occur; they named them anyway. Our girls are named things like Bob, Steve, Shadow, and Leo. My research didn’t prepare me for the simple fact that some of the hens know their names, and a very few will actually come when you call them.

I had no idea that hens will basically “yell” at you if they want something. Our girls have berated us for cleaning the coop when they want to lay eggs, called to us when they wanted to be let out in the yard, and run clucking towards us when they think we have a treat for them. If you have ever thought that chickens don’t communicate with their human caretakers, come visit us and I’ll show you otherwise.

Hours of reading and making charts never revealed the concern I would feel when we first moved the pullets from the house to the coop. I was worried they were going to be cold, scared, or hurt themselves somehow. My worries were unfounded, but I found myself going out late at night to check on them and then again first thing in the morning. I also wasn’t prepared for the heartbreak when we lost a hen, the nicest of the flock, to a stray dog and then two more to a coyote. I again worried as the rest of the flock reorganized themselves into a new pecking order, and in the process, one of the girls was sleeping outside the coop because the other hens wouldn’t let her find a place on the roost inside.

My study into the world of chickens also didn’t prepare me for the laughter as we watched them run after bugs and play “chicken tag” as they tried to snatch tasty grasshoppers from each other. I wasn’t prepared for the frustration, and sometimes anger, directed at my funny little hens scratching up my flowers when they were looking for bugs and worms, or the disgust when they ate a half-dead mouse that the cat caught.

We’ve had chickens for almost two years now. Even though we have had many experiences with them, I am sure there are more to come. Just when I think we’ve finally seen it all, our flock surprises us with something new.