Joy To The World…Or I May Keep It All For Myself and Give You the Recipe!


Joy. Such a simple word. Yet it instantly paints a complex mental picture of all that is good in life. The first kiss; a bride’s smile on her wedding day; a baby’s laughter. What power is found in those three little letters! So how do you take all of those intricate nuances and weave them together in a scent?

So far in our essential oil education series, we have focused on science and physical health. Don’t get me wrong, those are vitally important in any discussion of alternative medicine. But what is often overlooked is the emotional component of health.

As someone who has suffered off and on for…well, pretty much most of my life…with intermittent depression, the mental aspect of health is HUGE. It doesn’t matter if my lab numbers are perfect or I look great in my size 4 bikini if I can’t figure out what my mood will be from one week to the next.

I’ve looked high and low for the “thing”. That thing that will finally make my moods even and reliable. Ok, so that thing is called Estrogen! But, that one is out after having breast cancer. So, what’s left?

I’ve struggled a lot with the loss of my hormones due to chemotherapy. A lot. Not with the hot flashes that so many women experience, or the joint pain. No, my struggle has all been in my head.

For a week or so I feel absolutely fantastic, on top of the world, able to leap tall mountains. I finally think to myself “This is it. I’ve beaten it. I can pursue all my plans.” And then, just as quickly as it came, it’s gone. I don’t fall into a dark hole very often, thankfully. I just get a bad case of the “blahs”. I lose my ambition, I no longer want to socialize or make plans for my business. It still catches me by surprise, every month. It’s as if my mind has forgotten that my body is no longer capable of having a monthly cycle.

When I took my first class about Young Living Essential Oils and signed up for my Premium Starter Kit, one of my biggest hopes was to find an oil or oils to alleviate some of these monthly ups and downs. I was impressed with how inhaling the oils sends them straight to the brain within a matter of seconds.

After a little bit of experimentation with my free diffuser, I finally hit on a combination that does wonders for my mood. I told you about my love affair with Peppermint oil in the last post. But…when you add the oil blend Joy to the Peppermint, then you’ve really got something!

What’s in that little bottle of Joy? Are you ready? Joy contains:

  • bergamot
  • ylang ylang
  • geranium
  • lemon
  • coriander
  • tangerine
  • Roman chamomile
  • jasmine
  • palmarosa
  • rose 

Remember when I told you in a previous post that Rose was one of the absolute most expensive essential oils because it takes 5,000 pounds of rose petals to produce one pound of rose oil? That’s right, it’s in Joy. And this comes as part of your Premium Starter Kit with 10 other oils to try.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not a big floral girl. Never have been. So, I wasn’t crazy about the smell of Joy at first. That’s right, I kind of poo poo’d the Joy. But let me tell you…it grew on me like ivy on Harvard! When that combo of Peppermint and Joy hits my brain, it doesn’t know what hit it! It is the best feeling I’ve had in a long time. It just plain makes me happier.


So what is Joy good for?

  • sadness
  • sleep issues
  • emotional imbalance
  • hyperactivity
  • emotional pain/grief
  • defiance or occasional moodiness in children
  • bump up the romance (and I know a few ladies struggling with that one)

This smells so good to many people that they wear it for perfume on the wrists and over the heart. It is also great in homemade lotions and bath salts. Check out this recipe for an uplifting body cream:


body butter plain

1 cup extra virgin unrefined coconut oil

1 tsp vit E oil (make sure it is not synthetic vit E)

5 drops Young Living Joy Essential Oil

10 drops Young Living Peppermint Essential Oil

Whip coconut oil with a mixer for about 3-5 mins until the consistency resembles icing.

Add in other ingredients and mix well.

Will fit in a half pint jar. Should last until it’s gone. Young Living oils never expire.

This smells Heavenly!!

To get started on changing your family’s health naturally and get some Joy of your own, check out this page.

This World Was Never Meant For One As Beautiful As You

October 5, 1987, 8:57 am.  I remember it like it was yesterday. I was hugely pregnant that month in the oppressive heat of a Miami summer. It was an exciting time. I was eagerly awaiting the birth of my first child, the Pope was visiting the city, and I was full of dreams and youthful naïveté.

Early on the morning of October 4, I was lying asleep in my waterbed. I was awakened by a sudden gush of warm water. I woke my husband and told him that the bed had sprung a leak. He took a look and smiled at me. “Why are you smiling? Do something before it gets all over the rug” I pleaded.

“There’s nothing wrong with the bed. Your water just broke.”

I looked down at my pajamas and realized that I was the source of the leak. I was in labor. Not knowing what to expect, I took a shower and waited anxiously for what would come next. In an hour or two, the contractions became uncomfortable and I timed them at five minutes apart. I thought that I was surely pretty far along in the process, so off we went to the hospital.

“One centimeter,” the nurse said matter-of-factly. “You’ve got a long way to go, honey.” The fun was just beginning. I was treated to enemas and botched IV’s, all while being starved and listening to my suite mate scream in agony. “She must be ready to deliver, huh?” I whispered to the nurse. “Nope. She’s only one centimeter dilated, just like you.”

My labor went on at a snail’s pace through the day and into the night. After my family and I had played poker, spades, monopoly and every other distraction we could think of, the decision was made to speed up the contractions with Pitocin. Or as I like to call it, Satanic torture serum.

My labor went from uncomfortable to unbearable in a matter of minutes. The anesthesia team came to top off my epidural, but the medicine wasn’t touching the pain. Every 90 seconds I was gripped by violent, mind-numbing contractions. I felt the urge to push after about 24 hours of labor, but the doctor told me not to. I was only 9 cm dilated, and they were afraid that there might not be room for the baby’s head.

At this point, the medical team was becoming concerned because the baby had been without amniotic fluid for 24 hours. The risk of infection and fetal distress was getting higher.

At hour 25, I finally lost it. I had been stoic to that point, but the pain combined with the stress and lack of sleep did me in. I let out several guttural screams and begged the doctor to make it stop. I had given it my all, but it couldn’t do it anymore. The decision was made to take the baby by C-section.

After 26 grueling hours, I held my baby boy in my arms. I was 20 years old and the reality set in that he was now my responsibility for the rest of my life. He was a beautiful, precious soul. We would have many rough patches and learning experiences along the way, but we grew up together, and we adored each other.

I never imagined that I would lose that beautiful soul one day. I believe that some people are just too special to live in the real world. It takes a toll on them, trying to fit in and do what is expected of them. In the end, they break under the strain, and it is truly our loss.

My beautiful boy would have been 27 today, and we would have had a grand celebration. He loved to have a good time and make people laugh. I wish that I could smile and laugh today, but it still hurts too much. One day I hope that this will be the happy occasion he would have wanted.

Happy Birthday, sweetheart.

Unfinished Grief and Haunted Dreams

Have you ever had one of those dreams about someone you’ve lost? You know, the kind of dream that is so real you can feel the person’s skin against yours and breathe in his scent as you embrace him from the depths of your soul? I would like to believe that our loved ones come .back to us from time to time and give us the gift of their presence, if only for a few fleeting seconds while we sleep.

I had one of those dreams last night. They always take me by surprise and turn my gut inside out with raw emotion. They are both comforting and profoundly disturbing because they stir up the pain that has been dormant and make it very real once again. Yet, I treasure them because they are the closest thing to having my son in the same room with me that I have these days.

The dream was nothing really, some snippet of frames in my mind pasted together in no particular order. But the scene I remember was of waiting for a car to pick me up on a street corner. As the car approached, I saw that my ex-husband, James’ father, was driving. My current husband was in the back seat next to another random man, and James sat in the third spot. James would have been 26 this past October, but this is the little guy who was in the car:

Photo Aug 08, 2 59 06 PM


He was probably 4 years old in this picture, not much younger than my youngest now. As I opened the door to get in the car, he scrambled over to my husband’s lap to make room. I shut the door and we started moving. In a moment, I held out my arms to him and said “Come sit on Mommy’s lap.” He climbed up with his little back against my chest and I wrapped my arms around him and smelled the sweetness of his hair. He was there with me for that brief moment.

I began to sob in the car, holding my baby, because a part of me knew that it was all a dream and would be taken away again shortly. It’s odd how we know that we are dreaming in that strange twilight place between sleep and wakefulness. We hold on to those last few moments, wishing that we could stay longer. But it always ends.

This morning I am very grateful for the nighttime hug, but very sad. I don’t know when the mourning really ever goes away, or if it does. It will be 6 years this March since I lost James, and most of the time I think I’m ok with it. I carry on with life and laugh and enjoy myself. But then it comes back unexpectedly and hits me on the head like a sledgehammer, and it may as well have been yesterday. At these moments, I know that my journey with grief is still very much in progress.

As any parent who has lost a child will attest, I have regrets. I don’t remember the details quite as clearly as I would like, and I beat myself up for things I could have done better. I was 20 when James was born, and I was very excited to have him. But, I was barely more than a child myself, and I couldn’t escape being somewhat self-absorbed at times. I loved him dearly, but my own needs took precedence occasionally. It was a lot for a young girl to take on.

He was a very intelligent and intense child, and it got to be overwhelming sometimes. I remember sitting on my grandmother’s sofa with James climbing on me. I set him over to the side; I just needed some space for five minutes. Mima said to me “Can’t you see how much he loves you?” I replied, “I know he does, but I need a break.” I was his world, his entertainment, his teacher, his jungle gym…and I was just tired. i needed to have fun and do things that college-age kids do. And then I would feel guilty.

One particular scene that is forever etched on my brain is of the two of us in the car. James was 3, and I had just met my current husband. I was smitten and anxious to develop this blossoming relationship, but it was very difficult to get out with a small child. We had made plans to go out one night, and I had arranged a babysitter. James was a little under the weather with a cold. As we drove to the babysitter’s house, I was filled with excitement about the date, and then James turned to me with pleading eyes. “Mommy, I don’t feel good. Please don’t drop me off.”

In that moment, with the mind of a love-struck 20 year-old, I made the decision to go ahead with my plans. I told him that he would be fine and could take a nap at the sitter’s house, and off I went. I have relived that scene a thousand times since he died, wishing I could have that moment back, along with several others. If I had loved him better, would he still be alive? If I had stayed with his father, would that have made the difference?

Logically, of course, I know that our kids’ lives are beyond our control after a certain point, but emotionally, those scars run deep. I was a good mom, and I tried very hard. But in the end there are no do-overs. And in the stillness of the night, when he comes back to visit me, I would give anything to have him climb on my lap again so I could tell him what a perfect, sweet, beautiful boy he was and how lucky I was to have known him.

Can A Broken Heart Give You Breast Cancer?


I remember very well the week leading up to my son’s death. It was Easter of 2008. He called me on my cell phone as we were driving home from Cracker Barrel, where we had our usual Sunday breakfast. After some trivial chitchat, his tone turned serious. “I’m coming over today. I need to see you guys.” I told him that was fine, never actually expecting him to show up. I had been disappointed so many times.

James was 20 years old that Spring, and he had been troubled for quite some time. He had decided after high school to move in with friends and try working for a while before college. He was one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever known but had the affliction that many intellectually gifted kids share. He couldn’t function very well in the real world.

Eventually, he turned to drugs to cope with the mental demons that tortured him. First it was just a little pot to calm down and focus. Then it was cocaine at parties. Finally, he turned to heroin. I would pick him up sometimes to take him to dinner and watch as he nodded slowly back and forth, his eyes rolling back in his head. At the time, I thought he was just staying up too late, overextending himself. Little did I know.

James drifted from one friend’s home to another with his pathetic little cardboard box of possessions: a few movies, some pictures, and some old letters and birthday cards. He rarely worked any more because the drugs had such a hold on him. When his welcome wore thin time after time, he would move on like a leaf caught in a summer wind, stopping for a moment only to be picked up and carried to the next spot. And he rarely visited home. I think that under the facade of the carefree clown he was hurting and embarrassed.

That Sunday afternoon I was amazed when he opened the front door and walked into the living room wearing his black puffy ski jacket, sleeves rolled up to the elbows. He always wore that silly thing, even when it was warm outside. I was hugely pregnant with my youngest child, and he immediately came over to touch my belly as he always did. He loved babies and children and was really looking forward to being a dad someday.

James stayed for a while, but I could tell that he was restless and antsy. He could no longer go more than a few hours without a “fix”. While the rest of the family watched “American Gangster”, he sat alone in the back bedroom, typing furiously on the computer. He was typing a letter to the girl who had finally had enough of his addiction and let him go, the only girl who had ever really reached him, if only temporarily. Losing her broke his heart, and in retrospect, I believe he was writing a goodbye letter.

We were still watching the movie when he came out and announced that his ride was on the way. He sat next to me on the couch and put his head on my shoulder like he used to when he was a little boy. We stayed that way until the sound of a horn blowing in the driveway broke the spell. He got up to leave “I love you Mom.” He wrapped his arms around me and squeezed and just held on. I remember thinking that something was off; he was being uncharacteristically vulnerable.

I didn’t hear any more from James that next week. My husband and I were busy making preparations for our new baby, who was now almost 10 days overdue. I finally gave birth to a 10 pound, 1 ounce baby girl on Friday and spent the night in the hospital. Although I had tried for a home birth, I ended up having a fourth C-section. When I came home on Saturday, I was exhausted and in pain.

By Sunday, after a few sleepless nights, I put our new baby in bed with me so she could nurse at will and maybe, just maybe, I could finally rest. It worked. I slept like a rock that night, barely regaining consciousness for feedings and diaper changes. Then, at 3am, I woke with a start, heart pounding and eyes wide open. I wasn’t having a nightmare. I looked over at the baby sleeping soundly beside me. I sat up on the edge of the bed and a sense of dread washed over me. I wasn’t sure at the time how to define the feeling, other than to say that something felt terribly wrong.

The next morning, everything seemed normal again and I chalked my odd sensation up to exhaustion. My husband and I spent the day with the baby, taking her in for her first doctor’s appointment and just enjoying our time as a family. I felt happy that day. I had waited so long and suffered so much to have one more child, and now she was here. Nothing in the world could have compared in that moment.

The phone rang at about 7pm that Monday night. I was getting tired, so I ignored the call. But the calller was persistent, and the ringing kept on and on. Finally, my husband answered. I could hear my sister’s frantic voice on the line. “Where is Lisa? Is she holding the baby?” My husband told her that I was. “Don’t let her stand up with the baby. Make sure she’s sitting down!” I knew instinctively why she was calling. I didn’t need to hear anymore. One of James’ druggie friends had found her number in his phone and remembered visiting her. He called her in a panic. James was dead, his cold lifeless body on the living room floor. His addiction had won.

Looking back at that week, I know now that James meant it when he said “I have to see you”. He knew that it would mean a lot to me someday that I got to hold him one last time. He once told me in a rare candid moment that he felt like he had lived out his entire twenties even though he was only 19 at the time. The weight of bad decisions and wasted opportunities had become too much to bear.

Shortly after James passed away, I would come to find out why I woke from a dead sleep that fateful Sunday night.  A piece of my soul had just been ripped from me. His time of death was 3am.