My five year old son wants to marry me ... he has told me many times.  He thinks I'm perfect.  He loves my hair when it's crazy curly before I've had the chance to "fix it"... he notices any time I wear something new and always tells me I look beautiful ... he likes to hold my hand and sit close to me on the couch.  He loves me.  He runs to get me a tissue when I cry at sappy movies ... he thinks I'm the prettiest singer ... I give the best hugs ... I am funny and the nicest Mommy ever.  He doesn't judge me on days when my autoimmune diseases leave me full of inflammation and mind-numbing fatigue.  He says I am the best cook in the world and nobody else makes poached eggs on toast the right way but me.  True love.

Everything I need to know about my own self-worth I should learn from my Kindergartner.

Is self-esteem something you are supposed to learn from osmosis when you meet someone with it?  Breathe deeply and it will become a part of you too?  Is it supposed to grow from experiences when you can look back and say, "wow, I really like me"?  I guess I missed that day in school where the teacher passed out the folders full of self esteem.

I contracted a wicked case of "people-pleaser-itis" when I was very young - and it stuck around.  I'm the girl that would bend over backwards to make sure you were happy.  I taught myself to be super watchful and to anticipate the needs of others.  I jump at the chance to say something nice to someone who seems to be having a down day.  I am the chick in the checkout line that will let anyone go ahead of me - always.  Now this doesn't sound bad - right?  It's part of the niceties that make checkout lines quicker and the world a kinder and more friendly place.

But when you wrap your whole self up in the fact that you're the nice girl and the queen of compromise - it's not a big leap to becoming the champion doormat.  Anyone can walk all over you if you are too "nice" to say "I'm worth more than that".  Not everyone is out to break you down or hurt you ... but knowing who you are and what you believe in is vital.

I'm learning who I am ... in my early 30's as a newly single mother ... I'm finding myself.  Not the me that I "lost" when I married young and stayed at home with my kids for 11 years.  I'm finding who I am now.  The real me - underneath all the "nice" expectations I'd put on myself as a wife or a daughter or a mom.  Underneath all the demands made by others that I'd accepted as truth for myself.

Whoo Are You?
My mom used to have a small collection of owls.  They never struck me as particularly cute or interesting
(I should apologize to the porcelain owl that spent decades dutifully holding our hall door open).  But I've decided I need to have an owl or two in my life now.  To remind me to ask "Whoo are you?".  So that I won't just move through my days doing all the things that need to be done and not spend any thought on who I am becoming.

It's such a blessing to realize that uncomfortable change can become a joyous awakening in your life.  To push you beyond what you knew yourself to be - and welcome the growth and transformation.
Learning to *Bloom*.

So my assignment is to start loving myself the way my 5 year old loves me.  Unconditionally and with sweet appreciation of my own uniqueness.  One of the lessons we all should learn in kindergarten.  : )

I'll leave you with a beautiful quote from an anonymous author ...

"I choose to live by choice, not by chance.  To make changes, not excuses.  To be motivated, not manipulated.  To be useful, not used.  To excel, not compete.  I choose self-esteem, not self pity.  
I choose to listen to my inner voice, not the random opinion of others."

We've had a round of colds at our house.  Both boys and mom have been "blessed with rest" and have practiced our sharing by exchanging cold germs.  Awwww ... Thanks guys.  : )   I thought I'd take time to share the natural remedies that I use with my kiddos and for myself when we've got a case of the ickies.

There is a wild array of "natural remedies" available to tempt the eager homeopathic Google user.  I've done a lot of searches over the years ... working to keep myself and the boys off of antibiotics that reek havoc on your digestive system and can weaken overall immunity.

-  Breathe easy with the Neti Pot ... 
One of the "weird remedies" that people are sometimes reluctant to try
(Hi Mom!)  I don't know of many people that have used a neti pot, especially during times of sinus colds or allergies, and said it was not helpful.  It can cut down the duration of a cold quite dramatically and make breathing during recovery much easier.  My youngest has been a neti pot fan since he was 2 1/2 and got red playdoh stuck (really stuck!) up his nose.  It's impossible to type that without remembering his sweet little face when he realized the magic neti pot "fixed it".  Since then he has asked to do the neti pot almost nightly - as part of his bedtime routine.  That little porcelain (or plastic) pot can be used daily as a way to flush out allergens and germs before they can take up residence in your body.  You do get used to that "I might be drowning a little" feeling ... and what a relief to breathe clear again.  Try it!   : )

-  Gargle a sore throat away...
Waking up with that scratchy, painfully sore throat ... aggravated by mouth-breathing and dehydration from being sick - not fun.  Gargling with warm water and sea salt helps soothe the ache.  My newest trial has been gargling with Turmeric powder (added to the salt and hot water).  I have grown to love Turmeric for it's anti-inflammatory properties in relation to autoimmune disease.  Now I can have a Turmeric party - in a mug - a la India - to relieve a sore throat.  I've only used it with this cold but I believe that it does more for pain relief then just the sea salt gargle.  Plus it is spicy and helps clear the sinuses a bit too.  : )

-  Ease that ache with Ear Oil ...
My boys have been pretty healthy (such a blessing) but they both had quite a few ear infections when they were little.  Especially the wake-you-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-crying-and-won't-stop kind of ear aches.  I found ear oil when my oldest son was an infant.  After doses of children's tylenol, standing and swaying back and forth for an hour, humming in a candle lit bathroom full of steam at 3 in the morning - a mom feels ready to try *anything* to bring relief to her little bundle of joy ... and sleep.  I've used it ever since for both boys.  I warm the bottle in a mug of hot water and test it before putting up to 5 drops into the ear and a little piece of cotton ball over the ear to keep the cold air out.  Works like a charm and we've avoided antibiotics many times in their past.  I've made my own garlic olive oil (with the same great results) and refilled the bottle because the cost seems silly when you have a big jug of olive oil - a true kitchen cabinet remedy.

-  Be a hydration specialist ... 
Refill that water glass over and over - and be annoying (or so my 11 year old says) ... "drink up"!  Mugs of hot tea (or just hot water) with lemon and honey - soothe a sore throat and boost your vitamin C intake.  I'm also a big fan of EmergenC drinks (Tropical is yummiest!) which I find at Trader Joe's.   (I LOVE Trader Joe's - just thought I'd share.)  The boys call it the "Special Drink" and sometimes drink it like it's a soda - a treat.  : )  Just keep that glass full to flush out those yuckies.

-  You want me to put Vicks where?
Okay ... you may think I'm looney (I'll risk it) ... but at bedtime I smear garlic oil (from capsules) and Vicks Vapor Rub on our feet and then put socks on.  It's bizarre and super effective for night time coughs and congestion.  Makes for stinky socks in the morning but my kids always ask for the "foot gunk" when they're not feeling well.  The garlic oil acts as an antibiotic and the Vicks Vapo Rub  is awesome - plus it makes the garlic less stinky.

Don't forget the good old fashioned remedies of chicken soup, hot showers to break up congestion, cool rags and ice chips to soothe fever, lots of rest ... and television.  It's good for what ails ya.  (*wink wink*)

Take care of yourself and love on your loved ones.

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