Category Archives: Home & Kids

Five instant mood-lifters

So I’m all for pursuing meaning in life, finding peace inside and all that good stuff. Very, very important.

But sometimes, stuff can help.

The right food, the right smell, a long hot shower, that perfectly soft afghan that you pretty much want to attach to yourself for the rest of the day. The mug that fits the curve of your hand exactly, the candle that makes everything smell like you’re living inside a pine tree.


Yes Madonna, I am.

So here are five things that really help pick my spirits up. (And the links will take you to amazon, in case you’re wanting to embark on a buying frenzy).

1. doTERRA’s Slim and Sassy Metabolic Blend. Basically, it’s this tiny capsule of essential oils. You add a drop or two to your water (and I always add plenty of ice) and drink. It’s pepperminty and fresh and it instantly takes me back to Hawaii where my sister Heidi first introduced me to it, we drank tall glasses of the stuff, killed flies by the dozens and ate Asiago bagels every day for breakfast.

I have no idea if it does anything for my metabolism. But it makes me feel fresh and happy and like the warm Hawaii breezes are about to float through the window instead of the gusty cold-spring Chicago breezes I’m getting get instead.

Nothing against you, Chicago, it’s just that, well, Hawaii.

2. Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series. Take cozy mysteries and up the level of literary while keeping the coziness and the descriptions of good food. Add a few smatterings of French (it takes place in Quebec), lots of snow, a detective with the comforting self-assurance and experience of Agatha Christie’s Poirot (but less cocky), and there you have the Gamache series.

Disclaimer: you will want to eat runny Brie and baguettes while reading, after reading, and will then develop a Pavlovian effect by which you start salivating before reading too.

Also, the first book is good–but they get better. Exponentially. Oh, do they get better (and excuse me while I have some mid-series angst–INSPECTOR BEAUVOIR WHAT ARE YOU DOING???)

My current favorite way to relax at night: PJ’s, body pillow, Gamache and . . .

3. Lavender essential oil. I practically drench my wrists in it and fall asleep with this smell in my nostrils. Relaxation heaven. And I don’t care if it is placebo. Placebo isn’t less real just because the effects happen via psychological whatsammadunnits.

I think I bought mine at Target and I have no idea what brand it is, but something like this would probably do:

It doesn’t have to be expensive either–I think that one up there is around $6.

I look forward to smelling this every single night. I recently started putting it on in the mornings too. There’s no telling how this will end. Probably with me drenched head-to-toe and so incredibly relaxed that I’m playing the border between Zen and catatonic.

4. A hot rice bag. My amazing friend Sarah (actually two different Sarah’s!) have made me rice bags. I use them both. Basically, it’s a fabric sleeve of whatever size you choose full of rice and sewn shut (you can sprinkle in some of that lavender essential oil if you feel like it for a double-whammy). You heat it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, then drape it around whatever part of yourself is feeling achy, cramped, or in need of coziness.

Here’s one:

But really, you don’t have to spend money on this endeavor–you can just make your own. With an old tube sock, if you want (and tie the top closed if you’re not into sewing). Or you can call up someone named Sarah and demand that they fulfill their rice bag duty to you.

5. Peppermint oil. Okay, so I’m obviously on an essential oils kick here. But seriously. While the effects of the full-spectrum light I recently purchased have yet to be confirmed, the effects of these oils, to me, are immediately felt on an emotional level.

My sister Erica bought me a miniature capsule of Peppermint oil back when I was pregnant with Ben, to help combat nausea. I only used it maybe … twice? But with this pregnancy, I’m using it morning and night. Basically, I shake a drop or two on my back of my tongue and there’s a burn of freshness that spreads into my mouth and makes me feel like I’m younger, prettier, awake, and invigorated. Like I brushed my teeth about ten times in a row and am that much more ready to take on the world.

It’s supposed to calm the stomach too, if your digestion if iffy.

The above bottle is (currently) under $10. My mini-bottle has no brand on it, but when it runs out, I’ll probably order this one–or one of the million other options. (Does it blow anyone else’s mind just how many product choices there are out there? Yowza. I feel like it leads me to the extremes of being 1) paralyzed by indecision or 2) recklessly clicking and purchasing because there is TOO MUCH TO CONSIDER and I really just want to be done.)

Anyway, those are five things I’m using on a regular basis right now. And I love them all.

Anything I should add to my list?

Just sad

2017 has been a dragging, sad kind of year for me.

There is no reason.

I have a beautiful, healthy family–a great husband (seriously), two kiddos and another beautiful baby on the way. I have a good Father in heaven. I have all of my needs and many of my wants. I have a great job, a great church, great friends. I’ve had no big losses recently, no big scares. Life is stable. Things are good. Why oh why am I sad?

On some mornings, when we do the kid trade-off and it’s my turn to go upstairs to get dressed and ready for the day, I just sit on the edge of the bed feeling paralyzed. Like maybe I can’t even bring myself to move–not even to walk over to the bathroom.

It makes me crazy, this feeling that I’m not in control of my emotions. That I can’t bully myself, cajole myself or even trick myself back into happiness (I’ve tried).

The guilt just adds to it–guilt over being a burden to my husband, who shouldn’t have to deal with my irrational emotions after a long day taking care of kids and house. That’s not what he signed up for, right?

(um, he says he did)

I love having fun. I love laughing. I love delighting in the ordinary. I want to be vibrant, energetic, passionate. I want to enjoy everything, from little to big–from my first cup of coffee to the feeling of Benjamin’s solid little one-year-old body in my lap. But all feelings of delight and joy have been smothered by a cold fog that leaves me moving through my day half-senseless.

The voice in my head says,

What’s your problem.

Why can’t you get your act together.

You’re pathetic.



Sometimes my husband tries to cheer me up–and it works.

Other times, I don’t want to be cheered up–it takes too much effort on everyone’s part, mine included. Those days, after the kids are in bed, I just want to go straight to bed with a book and disappear into someone else’s world.

(Thank God for good books.)

If anything, these past months are giving me a renewed empathy for those who have walked or are walking through depression. When you’re bouncing about your life, happiness feels easy. Those who don’t have it perhaps are doing something wrong?

But no.

And after all, maybe why am I sad is the wrong question to ask.

Maybe there is no question–or answer.

Maybe it’s just sad.

And I’m there.