healing takes time

The past three weeks have gone by in a blur. I’m just starting to get back to “normal.” Honestly, I’m not sure what I’m going to write here. But I know I need to try. For me, writing is therapeutic. 

I’ve had some time to process the horrific events that shattered my community of Thousand Oaks, CA — the mass shooting and devastating wildfires. Sometimes it feels like it never could’ve happened, that it was a bad dream.

But it was all too real.

It’s hard to describe how it felt to hear the gut-wrenching news that a shooter killed twelve people at a popular country bar in our tight-knit, safe city. And hours later, to receive a mandatory evacuation order because our home was in “imminent danger” of a fast moving fire.

Each event was tragic enough on its own. But together? Unbelievable.

None of us had time to mourn those murdered at the Borderline Bar & Grill, before we had to pack our cars and rush to leave, worried our homes might burn.

My daughters and I were talking about this the other day, how it seemed like it wasn’t fair that the shooting didn’t get the immediate attention it deserved, because of the fires. Not that anyone could help it… But still.

Now that the smoke has cleared — literally — our community is able to grieve the twelve innocent souls who lost their lives much too soon.

Thousands have visited a beautiful memorial at an intersection near the  Borderline bar. A man from another state made twelve white wooden crosses with each victim’s name on them. There are photos, American flags, candles, angel wings, hearts, and so, so many flowers.

People wrote poems, letters, and messages to the victims, like God has 12 new angels, We love you, and You died a hero; and notes to the community, such as T.O. Strong. And, We will get through this TOgether. 

My husband and I visited the memorial late one Saturday night. The grandparents of one of the boys killed were there, standing vigil by their grandson’s cross. It was so sad to see the grandmother break down as she read the loving messages and mementos left for her grandson.  

Disasters bring people together. It’s heartwarming to see neighbors working to help support those who lost so much. There are memorials, fundraisers, and vigils scheduled throughout December and beyond.

I’m more than grateful that my family and home are both safe. I wasn’t directly affected — well, yes I was, because I live here. I didn’t lose my home or a child in the shooting. But my daughters know kids who were there and lived through that horror. One of my friend’s friend lost her son.

The shooting and fires affected the entire community in some way. It’s hard to push these tragedies aside and move forward. I guess that’s part of healing. It can’t be rushed.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of the shooting victims and how hard it must be for their families. And of the hundreds of people who lost their homes and the three who died in the fires, unable to escape. It seems especially difficult now that it’s the holiday season.

My heart breaks for all of them. And I know it will for a long, long time. These harrowing events changed our community forever. We will never forget.

Together, we’ll heal. It just takes time.

Image courtesy of here


Two weeks ago today, I had surgery. While I won’t go into details, it was for a female issue and also something else. I figured while I was under general anesthesia, I may as well get the two things fixed together. Nothing to worry about, it was partially elective.

The procedures at the outpatient center went fine and I felt good when I got home. I was told to take a pain pill and not let the pain get ahead of me. I ate a piece of toast and took my antibiotic and pain medicine. An hour later, I was nauseous and couldn’t keep anything down. I was sick to my stomach for eight hours, on and off. I knew it couldn’t be good.

It wasn’t. The result was broken blood vessels that developed into a hematoma, which had to be drained. Six days later, I was back at the surgery center, bright and early. The procedure went smoothly. It was a step backward, but I was happy because that day marked the true beginning of my healing.

It’s been a week since the second surgery, and I have to say I thought I’d feel better much quicker. I’m tired of being tired. I know my body is doing what it needs to, and I must give it a lot of rest and time. But I’m used to being active and leading a busy life. This has definitely forced me to slow down.

I’m grateful beyond words that my husband is an amazing caregiver. He’s always there to remind me to rest and not move around much. I’m able to relax because of his support.

There’s been a flood of anxiety throughout this entire process. The anticipation before surgery was overwhelming at times. I was finally able to let out a deep sigh of relief when it was over. But that good feeling was short-lived because of the hematoma.

I don’t take my health for granted, I’m always thankful for it. But this experience has given me a new appreciation for being healthy.

I can’t wait to feel energetic and have the desire to get out of the house. Right now just the thought of going to the grocery store or out to eat sounds exhausting. I’m tired of being weak and having to sit down every chance I get. I’m looking forward to putting on exercise clothes and walking in the mountains, or at least around the block. I want to want to put on jewelry and do my nails.

I’ve only been able to take sponge baths, which is getting really old. I want to step in the shower and let the hot water stream down my back. Lather my hair with shampoo and watch the bubbles slide down the drain… Soon!

Right now all I want to do is rest and the farthest I walk is out to a lounge chair in my backyard. I know this situation is temporary, and I thank God for that. I’m actually trying to enjoy this time of recovery, basking in the deliciousness of slowing down.

I think it’s time for a nap.

Take care, Jenny


First image courtesy of here

Second image courtesy of here




EO1The smell of lavender soothes me. When I’m stressed, I reach for my small bottle of lavender oil and dab a little on my wrists and neck. Instant relaxation.

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about the benefits of essential oils. But other than taking a whiff of lavender oil and putting it on like perfume, I don’t know what else to do with it. So I did some research.

What is an essential oil? The definition: a natural oil typically obtained by distillation and having the characteristic fragrance of the plant or other source from which it is extracted.

Essential oils can be used to help fight a cold, the flu, and other illnesses. But I narrowed my search to those that are helpful for anxiety and depression. They have calming and relaxing qualities. And lots of delicious scents — jasmine, lemon, marjoram, rose, and roman chamomile, to name a few. Frankincense is known to be one of the best oils to slow down your breathing, which helps reduce nervousness and stress.  Basil and wild orange have uplifting scents that help with feelings of sadness and anxiety.

What do you actually do with these oils?

One method is to put a few drops into an oil diffuser. There are several kinds to choose from. A nebulizing diffuser can attach directly to the bottle of the essential oil. This type is considered the most powerful because it doesn’t need water or heat to get the essential oil into the air.  An ultrasonic diffuser uses water and essential oil to create a fine mist. There are also heat diffusers and evaporative diffusers.

Another idea is to rub some oil on the palm of your hands and inhale. I have high blood pressure and take my readings at home. I sit in a comfortable position and take slow breaths. Then I open my bottle of lavender oil and breathe in the calming scent.

Massage is a nice way to enjoy the soothing aromatherapy of essential oils. Mix 10-12 drops of your favorite oil, with two ounces of a carrier oil. A carrier oil is a vegetable oil that can be used to dilute an essential oil. Good ones to try are sweet almond, jojoba, or grapeseed oil.

I think massage is a great idea if you have an anxious child. Talee has always loved back massages. She could’ve benefited from an essential oil massage when she younger and having severe panic attacks.

I’m a lotion-a-holic. I’m always using creamy lotions on my dry hands and feet. So I love this next idea. Make a calming rub with two tablespoons of a natural, unscented lotion with 5-10 drops of essential oil.

A friend of mine mixes a few drops of lavender oil and water in a spray bottle and mists her pillow. That sounds lovely.

I can’t wait to try these techniques. Now to decide which essential oils to buy and which type and brand of diffuser. There are so many options, I’m confused and overwhelmed.

Maybe I should go rub some lavender oil on my wrists.


First image courtesy of: http://thespiritscience.net/2015/08/27/how-essential-oils-can-heal-brain-injuries/

Second image courtesy of: http://www.lafayetteorganics.com/essential-oils/