About six years ago, when I was pregnant with Caleb, my neighbor invited me to an essential oils class. I went, and I was intrigued, and I thought everything smelled incredible. But I wasn’t buying it, literally and figuratively.
Fast forward to the end of my pregnancy, and at 36 weeks pregnant, I developed a cough. When I went to the ob-gyn they told me to treat it basically the same way I’d treat a baby with a cough - steam bath, humidifier, liquids, and rest. The coughing fits were so bad that I was changing my underwear four and five times a day, and every time I coughed, I swore Caleb’s foot was coming out of my nether regions. After a couple of days of this, I asked my neighbor, “Hey, did you buy any oils that might help with this cough?” And she told me she sure had, and let me borrow the bottle. I was worried about applying it topically, so as soon as I walked home, I put it on my wrist and took a couple of deep breaths, and I felt relief for the first time in days. I ordered a bottle right then and there, along with two other blends, and I have been hooked since.
While the oil blend didn’t cure me completely - I had already developed bronchitis and ended up on antibiotics - it really did help with the symptoms and helped open up my airways until the medicine took full effect. Ever since then, I have been consistently using oils in my home. I use them more for preventative measures and to help with symptoms of whatever we are suffering from, but I use them in tandem with modern medicine.
There are three ways that essential oils can be used: Topically, aromatically, or internally. I tend to use them topically and aromatically more than anything, but I have also used some internally as well. *I use DoTerra, so I’ll be talking specifically about their oils since that is what I know.
Oils, when used topically, can be very effective at penetrating the skin and getting into muscles or helping to alleviate certain ailments. I’ve already talked about one way I used essential oils aromatically. DoTerra has a blend called Breathe, which is a respiratory blend. It contains Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Cardamom, Melaleuca, and several other oils that helps to create feeling of clear, easy breathing. I apply this, diluted with a carrier oil (DoTerra actually sells rollerballs that already come diluted for topical application for adults and for kids), to my chest and to my back and it really does help me breathe more easily. I’ve also used this on the kids when they are sick (diluted, of course).
Another of my favorite blends is OnGuard, which is a protective blend. It supports healthy immune function and contains cleansing properties. I use OnGuard when I clean (they make a cleaner with it, too), and I always feel like it really helps eliminate some of the nasty germs that can be persistent with little kids around. You can dilute this and roll along the base of the spine or on the soles of the feet to help boost kids’ immune systems and prevent them from getting sick. I've been doing this often during the pandemic.
I have also used Melaleuca, Lavender and Frankincense on my skin for different ailments, including acne. And their Digestive blend DigestZen has helped with nausea when applied topically.
Particularly on the kids, I’m always really careful and read up a lot before I use oils topically.
This is the most common way that we use the oils. I have been able to cut down significantly on my use of candles. Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE candles and I will sometimes burn them when I have people coming over, but for daily use I have switched over to diffusing essential oils. DoTerra releases seasonal blends, so I usually pick up a bottle or two when they do this, and I love to find blends that are uplifting or calming. One of my favorite combinations to diffuse is Lemon & Lavender. A couple of drops of each and you're transported to Lavender fields. Another favorite for the morning is 2 drops each or lemon, orange, and either grapefruit or lime. It's such an energy-boosting blend and it helps you wake up.
When my kids were babies, I used to diffuse OnGuard. Especially when people were coming over. During the coronavirus pandemic, I have also been diffusing OnGuard frequently. If nothing else, it smells so good when it is diffused.
There are many people who ingest their oils. I don't do this often, but I have used OnGuard and Lemon to make a tea when I have been sick - the clove in OnGuard helps to numb your throat if you have a sore throat. I've also added Lemon or Grapefruit to water. DoTerra also has a blend called DigestZen, that is to aid in, you guessed it, digestive issues. I have used this internally when I've been backed up, and after surgery a few years ago, we gave this to a family member and it helped instantly to help them go.
There are hundreds upon hundreds of ways to use these oils, and it truly depends on what you want to get out of them. I always recommend OnGuard to everyone, and for anyone who suffers from respiratory issues, Breathe is another big favorite in our house. I always recommend starting with a blend that can help you with a specific issue, but there are so many individual oils and there are so many things that they can help with.
As always, run anything you use by your physician, and read up on safety when using them around kids or pets (and yes they work on pets, too, but pets can be particularly sensitive to certain oils).
If this post has piqued your interest and you would like to learn more about oils or even get a few for yourself, I have some awesome ladies to whom I can refer you. Shoot me a DM or leave your e-mail address in the comments of this blog post below and I will send you their information.
Okay, so we’re about to get super personal here. Like on another level personal. If you’re a dude, you might want to quit here. Unless you have a keen interest in menstrual cycles or you - for whatever strange reason - want to pitch a menstrual cup to a lady in your life, I’d suggest you skip this blog post altogether. You’ve been warned.
If you made it past the disclaimer, yay! Let’s talk menstrual cups!
First of all, what is it?
A menstrual cup is an alternative to a tampon. It’s reusable, worn inside the vagina, and it collects flow rather than absorbing it. They come in tons of shapes and sizes to fit every wearer, and they are made from silicone. They are safe, and I have found a menstrual cup to be a much more comfortable way to manage my flow. You can watch here for more information.
I started using a cup in 2016. (I checked my Amazon orders to confirm this date, btw) I remember being really apprehensive, and thinking this would never work for me. After having Caleb, I had heavy, uncomfortable periods and was constantly having to change my pads or tampons. But I figured that a cup was worth a shot. After all, I was buying into the promise of not having to spend more money on pads and tampons on a monthly basis, and that a cup could hold as much as 2-4 tampons worth of menstrual flow.
The first two cycles came with a definite learning curve. I wore pads as backup, I leaked a couple of times, and I almost gave up. But that third cycle? On a trip to the beach I realized I could spend all the time I wanted in the beach or the pool and not have to worry about running out to a bathroom to change a tampon immediately after getting out of the water. I had zero leaks my third cycle using it, and I was sold. I wear it to exercise, to swim, while traveling, etc.
Last summer, we spent a week at the beach, and of course, my period arrived earlier than expected. I had forgotten my cup at home (I usually throw it in my bag anytime we travel, regardless of whether my period is expected or not), and I had to buy tampons. First of all, organic tampons are super expensive. Also, having to change a tampon every couple of hours, or every time you come out of the water at the pool or beach sucks.
Anyway, I’m no expert, and I’m definitely not in the medical field, so I cannot give you medical advice or facts. But there are a few reasons why I have found a menstrual cup to be life-changing.
Okay, so now that you know entirely way too much about me, I hope that you’ll consider making the switch (or at least trying it out!). An amazing resource is putacupinit.com. You can take a quiz there to see which cup might be your best fit, as well as read up on FAQ, and additional resources regarding menstrual cups.
For reference, this is the one I use: https://amzn.to/2VKq5HK
I hope this all helps!
There’s a lot of talk about balance floating around out there. Work/Life balance in particular always gets me thinking, and when I try imagining work/life balance, I think of spinning plates and tipping scales and running back and forth trying to keep them all perfectly aligned or it will all come crashing down.
Trying to maintain “balance” makes me see myself as frazzled, and it feels like an impossible goal to attain. In an ideal world, balance would mean that we are able to give our all to everything that is important to us, all of the time. But we don’t live in an ideal world, and if we are always giving 100%, then we are going to burn out very quickly.
I don’t believe in balance. I believe that life ebbs and flows and that there are periods where certain things take precedence over the others.
There are periods in time when work will be the focus over a lot of things - if you’re an accountant, for example, tax season means your scales are dangerously tipped towards work. For a photographer, the holiday season or wedding season may mean that you are spending less time than usual with your family.
If you have a new baby, your baby will probably take importance over your job and household duties.
If your marriage needs work, then it might be time to have someone watch the kids more often than usual so you can work on that aspect of your life.
And you know what? It’s okay.
It’s okay to lean in to work in that busy season because heck, it’s what’s paying the bills.
It’s okay to absorb your newborn and all their snuggly yumminess because guess what? They can’t take care of themselves.
It’s okay to leave the kids behind for an extra date night because you and your spouse need to reconnect just a little extra this month.
And it’s also okay to need time for yourself and to do something for you.
I get this question often on Instagram - “How do you do it all?” And my response is always as honest as possible. I don’t! During my busy season as a photographer, I definitely pull back from kid/house/volunteer duties. When it’s my off season, I’m giving my husband and kids as much focus as I can. Sometimes there are several blogging events in a row, and that takes the forefront. And sometimes I see that my marriage needs a little extra lovin’, so we’ll schedule an overnight with the grandparents or set up a couple of date nights. Sometimes I need to take care of myself, too, so I do whatever it is I need at the moment. I also have someone who cleans my house once a week, and I have a meal delivery service for myself and the kids, and a husband who does a lot, too.
If I wasn’t honest with people about that, I can see how they might think that “I do it all,” but it’s not fair to any of us, myself included, to think that. So the next time you wonder how you can balance it all - stop. Think about what in your life requires the most attention at this moment, and lean into that. Stop feeling guilty for it, and let it flow.
Eventually, you will find a balance - but don’t let yourself think that balance means that work, your home, your family, your faith, and your friendships will all be in alignment all of the time.
At the start of 2019, one of the things that I promised myself, and my word of the year, was to Simplify. I didn’t realize how much of an impact that one word would make on me last year. When I decided I would simplify, I thought I would just say “no” more. And while that did happen, I also learned to say yes to the things that really mattered. I learned to simplify more than my calendar. I stopped overthinking things, too. I stopped dyeing my hair. I simplified my workflow when it came to photography. Even through my busiest season in the last few months of 2019, I never felt overwhelmed, because I kept everything so simple.
Simplifying let me set better boundaries for myself and my family. It gave me back time I didn’t know I was missing, and it allowed me to slow down some. Because I wasn’t overcommitted all the time, I was able to do the things I wanted to do, do them well, and enjoy them. By not being stretched too thin, I wasn’t always thinking about “the next thing” on the list. Sure, that happened sometimes, but way less often than it usually does. And because I wasn’t thinking about the next thing, I was able to be truly present and enjoy what I WAS doing.
I learned patience. I have always been a fairly patient person, but simplifying has taught me to be patient with myself. One decision I made that I feel has had a huge impact in areas I never thought was the decision to stop dyeing my hair. Letting my grays grow out has been a HUGE lesson in patience. While I was able to camouflage the growth a little bit with some highlights, there really is nothing that I could do to speed up the process. I have had to be okay with letting the process occur naturally. The notion of instant gratification has been ingrained in us so much in this digital age where everything is so readily available - and that just isn’t possible with this process. Unlearning the habit of instant gratification has helped me to be more selective in making purchases, in making decisions, and in rushing judgement.
We simplified things in our home - we did some major organizing, we purged, and we stopped overthinking everything. SIMPLIFY.
I had never done a word for the year, and I’m grateful I did. I’m also glad that “Simplify” was the word I chose. I think it was the perfect word to start this tradition off with, and I’m so thankful for the way it has impacted my life. And even though 2019 brought us some heartache, stress, and pain, I was able to focus on the really important things. I’m going into 2020 with a clear and resolute head, a firm idea of what I want out of the next year (even if I haven’t chosen my word just yet!), and a light heart.
We all know that as moms, we juggle a lot. Especially when our kids are young - we have to make decisions for them and remember ALL THE THINGS for them. Our brains are occupied a lot of the time by tasks, which although menial, take up so much of our brain power. For a lot of us, this means that other things fall to the wayside - things that we feel like we can address later, or that don't need our immediate attention. Finances is one of those things.
Parenting often results in women being time-poor, acutely so when their children are young or when they’re single mothers. As recently as 2016, mothers of children under six reported dedicating nearly twice the amount of time per day as fathers spent dedicated to childcare, including when both parents work. In more than half (54%) of homes where both parents work full time, the mother does more to manage children’s schedules and activities. That leaves less time for financial management, planning, saving and investing during critical years that can help build a nest egg."
But the truth is, it's so important for us as women to understand our finances, and to plan for our futures. I sat down with Financial Advisor Alicia Figueroa to chat about what financial planning means and how we as women and mothers can actively participate in planning the financial needs of our families.
When you say “Financial Planning” what do you really mean by that?
Financial Planning is a holistic way to approach someone’s personal finances. When people think of a Financial Advisor they may only think about investments and the stock market. Financial Planning is about working with everyday people to make sure that they are creating the right infrastructure to help build good savings habits and protect their family, with the goal of achieving financial freedom. For example, taking advantage of retirement accounts at work, properly funding an Emergency Savings account and Budgeting to understand long term financial needs are all topics I address with clients.
Why do you think it is important for moms to understand Financial Planning?
I think it is important for several reasons. One, women tend to be responsible for the majority of household decisions but are often not informed on the finances of the home. Two, on average women live longer than men. What this means is that women will need more money over the long run, which needs to be planned for.
Most people think they can’t afford a Financial Advisor. What do you usually say to that?
Unfortunately, the word Financial Advisor usually carries a negative stigma because people think that you need a lot of money to even merit seeing one or people are embarrassed about their current financial situation. The reality is Financial Advisors work with people from all different financial backgrounds with the same goal of achieving financial freedom. Often Financial Advisors do not charge a fee for meeting with them. More importantly every meeting is an opportunity to teach our clients the Personal Finance skills that are not taught in school. My goal is for every client to leave a meeting better prepared to make decisions in their everyday life.
What are some of the topics we are going to cover over our next sessions?
I would like to cover some of the topics that I know every parent thinks about like College funding strategies, Budgeting and Retirement. Then I want to go over the ones that some people don’t really have on their radar but that I would argue are even more important than the earlier topics and that is protecting your family from the risk of an unexpected death, sickness or injury.
Alicia is a Financial Planner dedicated to helping individuals become financially independent by creating good savings habits, protecting their assets, and achieving their goals of growing and transferring their wealth. Her goal is to make financial independence a reality for Americans.
Alicia has been in the financial services industry for over 10 years; having worked at Morgan Stanley and Citi prior to joining MassMutual South Florida.
She has an MBA from Wharton and a Masters in International Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. She completed her Bachelors in Business Administration from Loyola University New Orleans where she majored in Finance and Marketing. Alicia currently lives in Miami. Prior to that she spent time living in New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Sao Paulo. She is fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with Alicia, you can e-mail her at email@example.com or call her directly at (305) 776-1032.
Alicia Figueroa is a registered representative of and offers securities and investment advisory services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. 1000 Corporate Drive, Suite 700, Ft. Lauderdale, FL. (954) 938-8800.
The views and opinions expressed are those of Alicia Figueroa. Alicia Figueroa’s views are not necessarily those of MML Investors Services, LLC or its subsidiaries.
Have questions you'd like for us to answer in this series? Shoot me an e-mail or comment below!
South Florida Bloggers
2019 Best Parenting Blog