Tea and Mood

I gathered up my herbs and such to make my tea today. It is cool, wet and dreary outside which I love, but bittersweet today because seems to echo my mood. I am going through some pain right now, the pain of a loss greater that I have ever felt before. This is grief. Almost every part of me wants to find a distraction, something to numb it or to pretend it is not there. I wave in and out of letting the avoidance take over and the necessity of allowing myself to walk through it. It is exhausting but I know for sure that God will bring me to a peace and warmth on the other side. So my tea today is chamomile, orange and ginger. Chamomile to calm my grief induced anxiety. Ginger to add spice and tame my nervous stomach. And sweet orange because well, it just makes me happy. The taste and smell always has. So as I sit and drink my tea staring at the drooping but vibrant wet leaves through the window, I take a moment to step outside my sorrow and be grateful. Is it gloomy where you are?


Keeping Perspective With Gratitude

Today I am grateful for those who made sacrifices for our country and our freedom and I pray for the families they leave behind. When my husband was on the road all the time the military families were what kept things in perspective for me. Spouses, sons and daughters...not knowing when or if they will come home. At least I knew when John was coming home. I knew he was not in immediate danger, and that I could say goodnight to him on the phone most nights.

Cleansing Toxins with Essential Oils: Holistic & Inspired Living

I have been thinking a lot lately how many toxins we come in contact with every day. Let's start with plastic. Pretty much all of our food is packaged and therefore touching plastic. Then we cook it and put the left overs in plastic tupperware. Our cleaning products, shampoo, deodorant, lotions, all contain many ingredients that our body needs to filter out once they enter. Then there is all the preservatives in our food, the coatings and pesticides on our produce and more. I feel like I can tell when my body is overloaded with toxins and needs a good cleansing. I feel foggy brained, sluggish, and irritable. We truly are what we eat! Of course eating clean real food and only natural cleaning and personal care products is going to greatly reduce your toxic intake. But there is something simple we can easily do to help our bodies with this task daily. A few drops of  Lemon Essential Oil in your water will help your body with the cleansing it needs to do every day. BUT you need to make sure you are drinking it in a GLASS bottle not a plastic bottle! This is important because these powerful essential oils will pull the toxins out of your plastic bottle and right into your water that you are drinking! So only use glass with essential oils. Lemon is also great for increasing circulation, as an antibacterial gargle, a cleaner, and is one of the oils in the amazing allergy relief blend of Lemon, Lavender and Peppermint. You can also use it to refresh your laundry if you forget and leave it in the washer too long (which my family does all the time!) It is also wonderfully uplifting and one of the most affordable oils available!

P.S. I am not a doctor and this is not intended to treat or cure any illnesses. I am just sharing what works for my family. I receive a commission on sales from doTERRA oils. I have researched extensively and found them to be the best and would only recommend what I value and trust for my family.

Healthy Boundaries for Creatives: Art's Sake Project

When I am passionate about something I have a hard time setting boundaries and not throwing my self all in...and I mean all in. Sometimes when I have an idea that I am excited about, or a new project that I am inspired by, I get tunnel vision and I have a hard time focusing on anything else. I think this is very common with creatives. It is part of how we turn passion and vision into something tangible. We can't always control when the flurry of inspiration will strike and when it does we feel we need to embrace it before it goes away! I think part of this is just the way it works being an artist. It is something I will always have as part of my process, it is embedded very deep. Now that I have a child though I need to find ways to shut it off when I need to be focused on her. I have been trying to figure out how to balance the passion and the drive that makes up my core, and the little person that needs my attention seemingly every moment. I have realized that it is not very good to try and do them both at the same time. At times I have resorted to increasing my childcare when I am in a mode that I feel I have to stay in until it is complete. This way at least she is getting the attention she deserves while I power through my inspiration. Other than that I don't have an answer for you to this one, and if you have one please let me know!

The other type of boundaries that I wanted to show with this week's art, involves only taking on what you can handle. It feels to me sometimes that opportunities all come in waves. One minute nothing is happening and the next you have 4 different opportunities to embrace as well as several people that need your help with something. Do you take on all of them? Do you feel like you can't say no? why? Which do you say no to? I am working on realizing that I am not doing anyone any good when I try to take on too much. I am learning that I need to choose my opportunities that I want to pursue the most, and make sure I am also having some time to still help and serve people as well. Sometimes if we are struggling financially we feel that we have to take any and all work that comes our way, no matter what that means to our sanity or the quality of our work. I learned over time that having balance, and being able to put my best energy and creativity into less projects takes those projects to a level they would never reach if my time was spread too thin. This ultimately makes the project, and myself as an artist, more successful.

 

Edited with Actions from The Shoppe Actions & Designs

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Homesteading Tip: Treat for Chickens & Essential Oils for a Cold

My daughter is sick this week for the first time in almost a year thanks to my doTERRA Essential Oils.  She has not had more than a low grade fever for a few hours since this time last year. But this week she decided to lick the railing at the ice skating rink before I could stop her. That will do it! She is out for the count with fever, aches, and stuffy nose. I have her on a rotation of essential oils (oregano, melaleuca, lemon, on guard, and peppermint for her fever) and immune builders like collodial silver, elderberry syrup, and zinc. She is fighting hard and has not gotten a cough or anything too terrible. We all needed some comfort food. So I decided to make some stew in the slow cooker. I just recently discovered the magic of the slow cooker. I don't know why it took me so long to use one but it is pretty genius. It took me about an hour to get everything in the pot but I was interrupted a lot by the little sick one. We had just shopped at the Franklin Farmers Market on Saturday so I had some wonderful veggies to put in it and a brisket as well. I put the brisket in on the bottom, then chopped multi-colored carrots, a purple yam, a regular potato and some white onion. I mixed up some vegetable stock, and some organic potato leek soup, some garlic, onion powder and black pepper in a bowl and poured that over it. I set it to cook on low for 8 hours. Done.

The peelings from my carrots and potatoes are the perfect treat for my chickens so I grabbed them and tossed them out in the coop area for them. They were very grateful!

If you want to get your own essential oils for your family, visit my page HERE for more info on how to get them.

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Overworked: Fine art series with Mike Wolfe American Picker

This image is part of my fine art series with the personal picks of Mike Wolfe from American Pickers on the History Channel. To me this is about how so many of us are overworked, over scheduled, and just plain worn out. Our addiction to productivity and the lack of value put on rest here in the US is causing so many health problems, relationship problems, society problems and more. I am certainly no exception to this. I have been working lately on making time for rest, to be still. One way to do this I have found, is in the car with no music, no podcasts just silence. I find that when I give my mind a chance to have some space, I actually get my most creative ideas. When I am not overstimulated, not distracted. Yoga and meditation are also perfect ways to give yourself some mental space.

 

This series is now available on Etsy to purchase fine art prints! They are printed on thick, matte archival paper and make a perfect gift. BUY PRINTS HERE

 

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Resilience in Love: Fine Art Print: Blogs for Artists

This image is part of my series with the personal picks of Mike Wolfe from American Pickers on History Channel. I pray I can teach my daughter resilience and dedication to the ones she loves in her life, even when things are difficult or uncomfortable. That is what this image is about... love standing the test of time, through brokenness, when things seem disconnected, even old and stale... IMG_9114

Anonymous Damage: Mike Wolfe American Pickers Art Series

This is another image from the series I shot of the personal picks of Mike Wolfe from American Pickers on History. This series is about my journey to learn from the past and how we can make our world better today. This one is about how easy it is for us to do damage to others and to our world when we are anonymous. This could be anything from what we throw in the garbage to how we treat each other online. When we don't have to come face to face, or look in the eye the one we are doing damage to, it is easier to be disconnected, and not think about the consequences of our actions. I am going to try and be more intentional, and have my actions be the same when I am anonymous as they are when I am in the spotlight or face to face.

EDITED WITH ACTIONS AND PRESETS FROM THE SHOPPE

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Convenience vs Creativity: Holistic & Inspired: Blogs for Artists

I am excited to have shot the personal "picks" of my friend Mike Wolfe American Picker from American Pickers on History this week! Mike and I share a love of history, texture, rust and stories. I love incorporating antique items as props in my images. This time, however the props were the subject. I wanted to so a series of fine art prints that told a story simply with the objects in a symbolic way. This first image is about learning from our history to value simplicity in our entertainment. The timeless joy of playing a banjo around a campfire with good friends... Simple toys for our children that require imagination and effort. The little scattered items around on the floor are small children's toys, clickers, mini spinning tops, etc. At my daughter's preschool here in Franklin TN, their toys are not plastic or high tech. They are mostly little wooden pieces the children have to build things from on their own. They also have dried gourds, bark and other things from nature as toys for the children to do whatever their little creative minds can come up with. Instead of dress up clothes, they simply have fabric and clothes pins. The children have to use their imaginations, create things on their own.  I have fears of the consequences of us always in search of more comfort, more convenience. The result I believe is less gratitude, less motivation and endurance of inevitable hardships and disappointments. I hope I can pass on to my daughter a work ethic, a love of getting dirty and sore from hard rewarding work whether it be mental or physical or even spiritual.

 

Follow my journey to learn from the past for the sake of our future, and live holistic & inspired everyday...more images of Mike's "picks" to come!

EDITED WITH LIGHTROOM PRESETS FROM THE SHOPPE DESIGNS

 

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Learning from the Children & Learning from the past

You may have noticed, that I have been writing lately about how much I am learning from my child. As a first time parent it is fascinating to me how much they change your perspective on life and yourself. Living in the country of middle Tennessee is also an inspiration for me. Surrounded by history and dilapidated texture of a very different time. In my experience, the values here in the south are ever so slightly more reminiscent of the values of the past than they are on the 2 coasts where I have lived before. As I go forward I will be talking more about what I we can learn from the children in our lives, as well as from history. So often these days I feel like we are not learning from the past. It is almost as if our progress in technology and the like has made us somewhat arrogant; thinking that we are invincible as a species and a planet.

That we can overcome any medical issue with a vaccine or surgery, that we can outsmart nature. It is not working. One in every three people will develop cancer in their lifetime. Our planet's resources will not last much longer with the way we abuse them. We need change. I believe we can learn from our history, and from our children. I believe if we choose everyday to acknowledge the things that innocence, imagination and history can teach us, and to make one small change in how we do our daily life, we can work together toward a better, more holistic life of wellness, inspiration and progress. I hope you will join me as I stumble through a journey of change.

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The Success is in Your Story: Tips for Photographers and Artists

Success is in Your Story

 

We all want to be "successful". As artists success can be a bit of an ambiguous definition. Some days I just want to make great work and be proud of it and that is success to me. Other times the priority seems to be that I just want people to respond to it, and pay me for it and I have to compromise to make that happen. It is a struggle we all go through if we are trying to make a business out of our art. But what if we could do both? What if we didn't have to compromise? 

 

We as modern humans often tend to try to fight our surroundings. We want to go bigger and better, we want the things we don't have, the things we can't have. We want to eat strawberries in the winter so we find a way to do so even if that comes at a cost to our world. I am not saying this to put us down as people, our drive to make things better than they are has brought us a long way as a society as well. However, I also think it is important to be aware of what direction we are pushing up in. Are we going against the grain of the wood or with it? If you ever took Karate and tried to break the board, you know that when we try to break the board against the grain it can make it much harder or even impossible than going with the grain.

 

We do this as artists and business owners as well. We tend to look at what others have, what they have accomplished, or how they are better than us. We may try to be like them, or do what they did to get where they are thinking the results will duplicate the exact same way for us. Chances are, unfortunately, that it will not duplicate for you in the same way, or even close to the same way. They are a completely different person, with a different story, different passions, and different strengths. From the start they were formed differently, and each experience in their life has made them who they are, just as your own story has made you who you are. And you have strengths that they don't have, and something to say to the world that they can't say.

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It is important to find our own strengths and work with those, make the most of who you were made to be, and not try to be who someone else was made to be. Great how do I do that?! Finding those strengths can be difficult. You would think we would know ourselves better than anyone, right? Those around us that love us, look at us everyday. We hardly ever are looking at ourselves. So they probably see things we don't see. So ask them. Ask the people around you that love you, how they see you, ask them what your strengths are. Write that down. Then ask a stranger. Maybe it is a friend of a friend, or someone on Facebook that you are "friends" with but they don't really know you. Ask them to look at your work and tell you what they see. You will get 2 very helpful answers, one is the objective view of what your work is expressing, and the other is a bias view based on someone that knows you well. These are both so very valuable. One will tell you what you are currently showing the world, and the other one, the one that loves you, will probably give you some insight on where you need to go, what direction you start heading "up" in.

 

It is then time to take that feedback, and see what resonates with you, put it all together and then meditate or pray on what speaks to you about the feedback you received. You will probably need to start just making some more art at that point, get out and shoot, more often than you usually do. Then see what emerges, comparing it to the feedback you received. Put it all together, the new and the old, and look at the progress, look at any change.

 

I still struggle with this and am currently working hard on finding my strengths and putting all of my upward energy into them. It is a bit of a journey but one I really think we have to take in order to really be successful artists. When you are pushing upward in the right direction, success is inevitable. I can not guarantee exactly the kind of success you will have, and it may involve adjusting your view of what success means a bit as well. We all have different roles in the bigger story. I think we tend to forget that creating work that brings people joy and that we are proud to show the world, is really the greatest success we can ask for as artists. It is why we were given this gift and why we do share it with the world.

 

If anyone wants me to be your objective view I am happy to help! I might ask you to give me your thoughts in return as well. :)

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This week's image to me shows what I mean by the beauty that can emerge when we don't fight our surroundings, we don't fight who we are and our strengths. When we be the main character in our own story, instead of trying to be in someone else's story, the rythm and beauty will be undeniable. I believe this is how we are made, and how we can thrive...
xoxo Meghan Aileen

Confessions of a Recovering Workaholic: Blogs for Photographers, Blogs for Artists

I have been a Workaholic most of my adult life. It started in college with a double major and 2 jobs and just never stopped. Part of it is in my nature, something I was born with, I am a Capricorn, a mountain goat, always pushing up and up. I also know I am a product of my western environment and our addition to productivity. It is all around us, coming from so many different directions. There is even this sense of guilt when we try and be still, to the point that for a very long time I didn’t know how to simply relax. I forgot how to enjoy something simple, to feel the joy in the little things in life. And you know what? Maybe they really are not the little things in life, maybe they really are the big things, the important things. Sitting and talking with each other, having coffee and listening to the stories, the laughter, the pain and the everyday life of those around us. Being with others, helping others, loving them really well. This is made up of all of those “little things”. But us productivity addicts tend to put those things below the work, below accomplishing things, and building things.

 

Enter Motherhood...

 Children make you slow down in this way. On so many other levels they make you much busier than you have ever been, but in this way, they slow things down. They are learning the most basic of things, and you have to be in that moment with them. I am no longer able to work constantly the way I used to; no longer able to make work the main priority in my life. Gone are the days I could put in 16 hours a day on a regular basis. Part of it is that I have a new very important job helping to shape another human being. The rest of it is that I know that eventually, you burn out, it is not a sustainable way to live. If you think about it, it ends up not being the most productive option if you get burnt out and are not producing your best work anymore anyway.

 

My Progress...

I have come a long way in the last 3 years since my daughter was born, and since we moved from the coasts to the south where there is a different pace of life. The addiction is still there in many ways. It is something I fight almost every day. When Fiona wants me to watch her jump on one foot over and over again, and I struggle not to pick up my phone and check my email. I really do. But other times I am actually able to sit and play with Playdough and actually enjoy it. I have found some things that we can do together that don't make me crazy. Stay tuned for part two of Confessions of a Recovering Work-A-Holic where I will tell you about some of these activities if you are struggling with the same thing!

 

Just a few years ago I couldn't even sit on a beach without thinking what is the point of this, and now I cherish the few moments I can relax watching my daughter dig in the sand. So only God knows the progress I will make in a few more years. Maybe I will even leave my phone at home sometimes...maybe. ;)

 

Look at that face! Play with me mommy she says. Well I suppose work can wait...

 

 

Edited with Hot Air Balloon from the Americana Lightroom Presets Collection

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Learning From the Children: Innocence Out of the Darkness: Blogs for photographers

Learning From the Children: Innocence Out of the Darkness

Lately I have been thinking a lot about how much we can learn from children. As I watch my daughter grow and change every day, and watch her experience so many things in life for the very first time, I learn more and more about life and about myself. I believe we all have innocence inside us. There is that child like part of us that is always there. As life gets harder, and experiences in our lives and throughout our story hurt us, we built up walls and defenses around it. We put it away in the dark part of ourselves, making sure it does not see the light and is not seen by others.

 

We all have our different ways of protecting it. Some do it with defensiveness, snapping back when there is even a hint of pain. With others, it is comedy, making people laugh and always keeping things light. For some people it is anger or hatred, even violence. The idea is that I will hurt you before you hurt me. Others, like myself, it is control. I tend to always think that if I can control enough of my life I can protect myself.

 

Children on the other hand, their innocence is right out there for all to see. If they are feeling weak or sad, frustrated or lonely, they will show it for all to see, even if that means all of Costco on a Saturday morning! I think we as adults can learn a lot from this. I am not saying we should all have melt downs in Costco ;) But if you are like me, maybe you could stand to open up a bit more. Maybe showing that innocence to some the people in your life would bring those relationships to another level. When we show that part of ourselves, it lets others see us for who we really are. Which in turn, allows them to really love us well. This might seem scary, it is for me, yet at the same time I long for it, for that connection, for real community. These connections help us to learn more about ourselves, and to grow from what we learn.

This weeks image is about this, the child like part of ourselves, that innocence and vulnerability, being brought to light for the sake of growing and being loved. It shows how we are used to hiding it in the dark and the fog, and when we shine a light on it, we sometimes cover our eyes. We remember our defenses we have built around it and the walls we have put up. But we peek through, hoping to see someone that will come through for us, someone that will show us it was not a mistake to reveal our vulnerability, someone that will love us really well.

 

EDITED WITH ACTIONS AND TEXTURES FROM THE SHOPPE

 

xoxo Meghan Aileen

Winter Gardening Tips & Permaculture: Holistic & Inspired

 

Winter Gardening and Permaculture

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I love the Farmer's Market. And I am grateful that here in Middle TN we have one year round. We get some cold winters but it only gets in to the teens in terms of temperature a few times and we don't get a lot of snow. I met some really cool people this week that own the Earth Advocates Research Farm in Summertown, TN about an hour from where I live. He told me about his business and gave me some tips for my garden as well. I am going to share with you what he told me as well as talk a bit about permaculture and what they are doing at his Farm.

Gardening in the Winter

 

First, he told me that here in Middle TN we can keep gardening all the way through the winter! He says that they get something almost every week out of their garden all year round. They only have to cover the beds with a protective cover a few times when the temps to into the teens, but other than that if you plant the right things, your garden will still produce all winter. A few of the plants that are capable of producing in winter are broccoli, cabbage, onions, even spinach! At this point you want to start with started plants though and not sends, it is too late for seeds but he says if you plant starters now you will still get crops this winter.

An Easy to Make Garden Bed

I told him I needed to rebuild my beds. Our yard is sloped so I have to do beds, and the wood has been there a long time and is rotting out. It is pretty bad. I was going to just wait until spring and not do anything for my fall garden but he gave me an idea! He said to get those cement blocks from the hardware store, Lowes or Home Depot, and line my garden beds with those. This way you can even plant in the holes too! You do want to take the time to level the ground they are on but other than that it is just placing them next to each other and making a box. Very cool idea!

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At his farm they are doing "Ethnobotanical Research and trials of unusual, reliable, neglect-tolerant Permacutlture plants for middle TN." They then will sell the plants as well. I bought some Oregano and Apple Mint from them that I just love. My mom recently did a Permaculture certification so I was introduced to this several months ago and am just fascinated by it. If you don't know what Permaculture is here is the Wikipedia definition:

Permacluture

"Permaculture is a branch of ecological designecological engineeringenvironmental designconstruction and integrated water resources management that develops sustainable architecture, regenerative and self-maintained habitat and agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems.["

 

I will have a lot more to say on this topic in the coming months as I think as artists this is very important for us. Permaculture has the potential to be something that the world can embrace if we can make it just as appealing as its non-sustainable alternatives. I think creativity is a key factor in that. The Earth needs our creativity in caring for it so I encourage you to research more on your own if you are interested or stay tuned for more of my own thoughts!

The Damage of Fairytales: Surreal Children's Portraits & Stories

The Damage of Fairytales

My daughter has recently started to be interested in the princesses. I kind of hoped this day would never come, but here it is.  Don't get me wrong, all the princesses in the Fairytales are good, kind, beautiful women. Nothing wrong with those qualities as a role model. There are many good things that the Princesses can teach young girls. Just from my own experience, I have some issues with some of the Fairytales.

Lets look at the basis of all Disney stories, the classics anyway. A beautiful strong young girl is in a predicament. She is usually oppressed in some way, trapped even. Arial wants out of the ocean, Cinderella wants out of her evil step family, and so on. Then a rich handsome charming man somehow comes along and there is instant love. I mean instant. And they want to be together forever, and they do live happily ever after eventually. First however the handsome gentleman has to rescue her from her situation.

There is something wonderful and romantic about this of course, we all love romance. I know I certainly do. And who doesn't want to be rescued by a strong handsome rich guy? But what these stories did for me as a young girl, is they left me with a very unrealistic view of relationships. I also feel it showed me that I need a man to rescue me when things get bad. I spent a lot of time in my teenage years, and my early 20s messing up in my relationships, and feeling a lot of heartache when it came to men, well lets be real, they were boys ;) I expected perfection from them, I expected them to be this perfect prince that would rescue me and never do anything wrong. This was of course something I was not aware of at the time, but I can see it when I look back.

I can't blame this all on Fairytales, there are certainly other factors involved. But the connection I see there in my own story is very real to me and something I want to be aware of teaching when teaching Fiona about relationships.  Am I going to keep her away from Princesses and Fairytales? No I am not. The plan is not to shelter her from these things. My plan is to teach her in other ways about real relationships and her expectations of them. To show her within our own family, and my own marriage what it looks like on an everyday basis, and how things can get hard sometimes, but we work through it, we say we are sorry and we forgive. I can talk honestly with her when the time is right about how men/boys sometimes forget to call on time. About how they probably won't have a full understanding of what it is that will make you happy even if they have full intentions to, and that sometimes you have to rescue them.

I made this image because this is the type of princess I see my daughter as. She loves the outdoors, playing in the woods, and the chicken coop, looking for lizards and frogs. She loves to sleep in her tent and hunt for acorns. She is a Woodland Fairy Princess if she is a going to be a princess. She is special, and beautiful and so very sweet and good.

Did you look closely? She is holding a frog because I want to teach her that frogs are ok too. That the one she loves might not be the most handsome, or the richest guy in town. He might be more like a frog, a little funny looking, but still really cute. He might be shorter than you, or chew his food funny. He will be imperfect in the best way for her, and that is perfectly ok. I pray that she experiences the romance the we all love so much about these Fairytales. I did eventually find my imperfect prince and I hope he and I can show her how to love hers someday.

xoxo Meghan Aileen
EDITED WITH THE FAIRYTALE ACTIONS  & THE NOSTALGIA TEXTURES FROM THE SHOPPE

Melaleuca Essential Oil Uses: Natural Home Remedies

Melaleuca, or Tea Tree Oil is one of my favorite essential oils. I actually used to not like the smell, but now I really do. It has so many uses that make it a staple to have in your home. Personally I use it daily on my face for acne. I apply it neat to my skin in my problem areas. Sometimes I will smooth it on with a little coconut oil as well. Always test your skin sensitivity first, especially before applying undiluted to your face. I have never had any problems with it unless I was using a brand that is not pure.

You can also use it to clean cuts and abrasions, it is great as a mouthwash too. Mix with some coconut oil and swish around as long as you can, at least a few minutes. This combination is a perfect mouthwash! You can add a little peppermint if you like too.

Melaleuca is also one of the few substances that can break through biofilm. Biofilm is the sludge that protects organisms like bacteria. So a great use for Melaleuca is in conjunction with something like Oregano which is a powerful antibiotic. Melaleuca breaks the biofilm and the Oregano kills the bacteria! Use the combination on your feet with a little coconut. (Oregano is very powerful and a hot oil so be very careful with Oregano and only apply to the feet with coconut oil and use care with children) t is amazing what the tools that God gave us to help heal ourselves in nature can do. I am continually amazed as I study and discover more and more....

Disclaimer for "the man": I am not a doctor and am not diagnosing or curing any diseases just sharing what works for me and my family. =)

Island Life: Is it Really Paradise? For Art's Sake Project Photographer's Challenge

Last week I was blessed to be able to take an almost free trip to the great state of Hawaii with my husband and my daughter. We stayed on Maui and had just an amazing time. There is incredible beauty in the natural environment and the culture that is undeniable. The volcanic base for the entire island is so interesting to me. It is built entirely on a dangerous volatile force of nature... in the middle of the pacific ocean. What does this do to a culture? What does this mean to the people and the environment? There are parts of this island that truly seem like paradise. But we saw many things that really also made us think that there are things about the underlying culture that are masked underneath this guise of paradise...  

We stopped at a small historic town as we drove around the island. I thought it was a cute and colorful little town and just wanted to photograph it. Immediately my husband got a bad feeling from the people and the atmosphere there. My husband is a recovering addict, he has been clean and sober for 11 years and is amazing at reading people and places. I always say his Spiritual Gift is Discerner of Spirits. He immediately said he thought there was some drug problems in that town. He always can tell. A friend of ours that lives there confirmed this for us. She said that there is an undertone of people that think they are suppose to be happy because they are in "paradise" but they are not; maybe they feel isolated, maybe it's the constant stream of people coming and going, maybe it is the extremely high cost of living... Whatever it is seems to be a breeding ground for drugs and theft.

 

We also drove to Hana and as we stopped at one of the turn outs, had a bit of an altercation with a local that was selling stuff out of his truck. He was yelling at us for not pulling far enough up in the parking lot. Not the kind of laid back island friendliness you would expect. At the airports we continually had trouble with people that worked there being unprofessional and just not very nice. My husband also has been to almost every airport in the world and said the Hawaiian ones were the absolute worst. I got the feeling that the locals are sick of tourists, and who can blame them. Their culture has been turned into a side show for people to come and briefly experience as a novelty, and then leave. This happens all year long, everywhere on the islands. It is certainly understandable. The intrinsic isolation of this culture based in the middle of the ocean, seems to need an outside connection but resent it at the same time. I lived in New Zealand for 6 months once, and got the same feeling there, there is a very high teen suicide rate in New Zealand due to the isolation from the rest of the world.

 

At the same time it also seems to breed connection and community, not all the Hawaiians are unfriendly drug addicts please don't get me wrong. We met many many warm, creative, beautiful and wonderful people. There is a different set of priorities that are prevalent in the people, that a work-a-holic like me can greatly admire and respect. Just like its volcanic tropical base, it has amazing beauty like you have never seen, and a dark, volatile side to it as well.

 

My image this week I feel represents this. Even though the fire is more Polynesian, the Luau is a Hawaiian tradition. This image I feel shows the intense, fiery side of the culture as well as the beauty, the passion and the joy. It is a display of their Hawaiian culture, and other Polynesian island cultures for the tourists that is booked solid every night. I am grateful to have experienced this amazing place and people. I am grateful to now be back home here in Franklin, TN too. To me, where I live is my paradise. This rusty worn wood historic town and my home in the forrest is just perfect for me. But I am certainly happy to visit the island life once in awhile... ;)

 

 

 EDITED WITH ACTIONS AND TEXTURES FROM THE SHOPPE DESIGNS & ACTIONS

 

 

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Natural Remedy for Tummy Aches and Other Problems

Today Fiona had a tummy ache. She eats a lot of beans and broccoli which is fantastic, but sometimes gives her a bit of a tummy ache! She was literally screaming. I think she might be in some phase where she is uber sensitive to the sensations of her developing body because she is so dramatic about everything from a splinter to a hang nail! This can get a little exhausting for mommy, so I am always excited to find ways to help her though these terribly dramatic situations with a simple natural solution.

Anyway so I gave her some probiotics ( I use Udi’s infant powder and put it in some water for her). Then I rubbed a drop of my peppermint essential oil mixed coconut oil (Costco has a great huge tub of organic extra virgin for $14 will last you forever) on her feet. Literally within 30 seconds she was fine. From screaming to fine in 30 seconds flat. Essential oils on your feet for those of you that don’t know will service all the cells in your body within 30 seconds. There are pressure points on your feet that go to every organ in your body. It is called reflexology if you want to explore it more. My mother is certified in it so you can do extensive study on it, but you can get a simple chart online in many places easily to just use while doing yourself and your family’s feet with essential oils.

I was so amazed that this actually worked that well! My husband affectionately makes fun of me and my natural ways by saying that essential oils are for leprechauns and unicorns. Can’t really deny results like that though baby!  I am so excited to continue to learn daily about new ways to help my family!

 

Courage & Gentleness: For Art's Sake Project, Professional Photographers Challenge

Courage & Gentleness: For Art's Sake Project, Professional Photographers Challenge Week 16

There are many things in life that seem too big, too scary, and too dangerous for us to face. This could mean different things to different people. Maybe it is a risk with your business or career. Maybe it is a personal risk, leaving a situation that you know is not good but are so used to, that the change would just be too intimidating. Maybe it is a feeling that you are not good enough for the things you long for, they are too big, out of your reach. There could be a person in your life who's personality is too powerful for you to stand up to, even though you don't like how they treat you.
This image is about those things. It is about standing and facing the things that seem too big, too scary or too unpredictable. It is about facing them with gentle but confident energy, looking at them head on. Standing up for yourself even if you feel small and afraid. I have things in my own life that I struggle to face every day, do you? What do you want the courage to face? What needs to change but seems to scary to stand up and look it in the eyes?
Edited with BBQ from the NEW Americana Lightroom Presets
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Fight off Colds this Fall: Natural Immune Booster Essential Oils

My Fiona just started Preschool and it is fall so that means germ fest!! She used to be sick at least once a month. She has not been sick now in 4 months! How did this happen you ask? Essential Oils. doTERRA's On Guard is a powerful essential oil that boosts your immune system and helps you fight off viruses, bacterial infections, it energizes and uplifts you, and it smells like Christmas! How can you beat that! On kids you want to dilute it with a carrier oil, I love Coconut Oil, it is antiviral itself so that always helps. But you can use Almond oil as well. Costco has a great big tub of organic extra virgin coconut oil for $14. It will last you a long time! So with my daughter I rub coconut oil on her feet first, then I put ONE DROP of On Guard on my hand and then rub into her feet. You can put cotton socks on them after the oil if you can't get them to stay put long enough for it to absorb. If they are wiggle worms like my Fiona, you will need to! It includes Cinnamon and Clove which are hot oils so you want to make sure you are always diluting this oil especially on kids skin. It also is good to to a small test area first to make sure there is no reaction.

On yourself or other adults, you can do a couple drops, and you can repeat a few times a day when you are sick, and I recommend twice a week during cold season for preventative. The essential oils will build up in your system and help keep your immune system strong all year long.

Get your own On Guard Essential Oil from doTERRA HERE

on guard

 

 

P.S. I am not a doctor and can not diagnose or treat your illnesses, I am just sharing what works for me. :)