(Please hit the jump to recipe button above if you’d like to head straight for the Eco Insect Repellent Recipe!)
Remember this post that I wrote back in June? It was all about me taking on some new hobbies and hoping that the next time God was gearing up to hand me another project She’d see me so busy down here that She’d pass me by. Yeah, well, surprise…it didn’t work. I knew it was probably an overly optimistic plan, but still, it was worth a try. After all, it may have bought me two months of a nearly-balanced life. And two months is definitely better than no months.
But, alas, it’s happened again. God figured I had a little too much time on my hands (I’m not sure where She’s looking, but I don’t think it’s at my hands) and sweetly handed me one more thing to make room for in my day. And even though I thought my homeschooling journey was over, here we are again. My kitchen-table schoolroom is back to being a glorious mess of textbooks, pencils, notebooks, calculators, and microscopes. But no worries, I’m completely okay with it all; school and I make a pretty happy couple.
When the Dust Settles
I’d tell you the whole story, but the tale isn’t mine to tell. So I’ll just say this: after two years of thinking my homeschooling days were behind me, I get one more round–one more year. And you can bet I plan on making it a fabulous one. And did I mention field-trips? Because we’re taking field trips. And experiments? Definitely those. And since Riley Mae is really into crystals right now, perhaps I’ll even find a way to work in an extra-curricular or two…
I’ll probably talk more about this down the line because homeschooling is a subject near and dear to my heart. But for now I’m too busy trying to figure out how to fit several extra hours of work into a day that’s already jam-packed. Honestly, I’m not even sure this post is going to happen because here I am on Friday afternoon hustling to draft this up. I have today–today only (because field trip tomorrow!)–to pull this together. And maybe it’s just me being overly optimistic again, but I figure that when the dust settles I’ll find a way to make this all work. In the meantime, it’s just more hustle. And I’ve gotten pretty good at that.
A Gem I Could Live Without
But this is coming together last minute and I was scrambling, trying to figure out what I wanted to tackle for this week’s post. It took me all of sixty seconds to realize the idea was already planted days ago, and it’s been germinating ever since. (Those rare moments when I think I’m at a loss for words are actually pretty funny. And pretty short. I don’t imagine I’ll ever run out of things to talk about; my shortcomings provide a constant source of humbling blogging material. It’s okay, laugh. I am.)
My problem arose (or more accurately was re-exposed) when I just recently realized that I have access to all of the spam comments that get filtered here on the blog. I’ve probably looked at Akismet’s tally of spam comments a million times (always marveling at how many spammers find this tiny space), but never thought to click on that “helpful” link to view them until about a week ago. I probably should have known better, because curiosity killed the cat (I’m thinking one day it’ll do me in, too), but I didn’t. I clicked. And here I am, writing all about it.
Opening up that innocent little blue link I saw a whole bunch of total junk. Some spammers tried to make more of an effort beyond posting links galore, and I had a good chuckle at some of the friendly, if strangely worded, “comments.” I kept reading, and it was all kind of funny…at first. Funny, right up until my chuckle withered when I spotted this sweet little gem grinning back at me:
The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn’t fail me as much as this particular one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read through, but I truly thought you would probably have something interesting to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something you can fix if you weren’t too busy looking for attention.
My very first reaction, the one I acted on for much of my life, was to get mad. Really, really mad, because what a jerk. My mind immediately got to work crafting up a scorching response to what I saw as total, uncalled for meanness. I mean, come on, if you really hate my blog so much then leave. I would never throw away my precious minutes on something that I despised so much. And it’s so incredibly offensive to you that you’re going to waste your time roasting me? Apparently there are people in this world who actually do have far too much time on their hands.
But then this reaction was quickly followed by me, clutching my heart, falling to the floor, and moaning in agony. Dang, why do people have to be so cruel?
Which was then followed by my third reaction (and the one I’ve been working on for several years now; unfortunately, it was still in third place, but I’m just happy that it appeared at all), which was: Whining? Was I whining? Because what this angry little internet troll didn’t know was that he had hit a soft spot; I despise whining. As soon as the girls were old enough to adopt a whining tone (a.k.a of speaking age) my response has always been the same, I’ll listen to you when you can use a big girl voice. So if what I’m putting out there is not a big-girl voice, then something is definitely wrong–with me. And it needs fixing. ASAP.
Accept & Grow
I’ve never been a fan of criticism; I imagine many (most?) of us aren’t. It’s a whole lot easier for me to get defensive and shoot down the words I don’t want to hear, rather than to take them, study them, and decide whether or not there’s any truth to the matter. But then…I found my guru. And my guru doesn’t like the way I deal with criticism, warranted or not. You need to be tough, he says. You need to gratefully accept the criticism, and if there’s any truth to it at all, then use it to grow. Use it to be better. Don’t let the words pierce you, but instead let them easily and harmlessly roll right off your back.
Born and Raised a Human
And since there’s only one opinion that really matters here, why should I allow the words of one sad and angry human to rattle me?
Well, I definitely shouldn’t, but that doesn’t mean I won’t. Because like it or not, I was born a human and raised a human. Consequently, I often place far too much importance on the words of other humans who aren’t at all perfect themselves. I imagine if I were to see the whole of this troll’s life, I could find plenty to criticize. (I’d start with the fact that he was mean.) And truthfully, when I studied it, the whole comment was pretty depressing. How unhappy of a person do you have to be to lash out and try to tear down a complete stranger? For no reason. I shouldn’t even care about nasty words from someone who behaves in such small ways.
But I did, because it hurts. And humans have evolved to be really adept at avoiding pain, all pain, no matter how helpful that pain may be. And once I worked through all of my reactions, what did I want to do? Yup, avoid future pain. Well, you should never go in there again, I chastised myself. After all, I probably could have guessed there’d be something unpleasant lurking in the depths.
But if I avoid that spam-box, then am I really toughening up at all? What I probably need to do is go into that box every single day, and read every single comment, until I get to the point where I can calmly assess each one. Truth? (How do I fix it?) Lie? (How fast can I dump it?) Moving on. Next.
I Have a Thing For Saints
My guru likes to tell a story about an Indian saint who was plagued by a neighbor that constantly criticized anything and everything he said or did. Knowing the saint to be an enlightened human, the devotees were appalled at this behavior, and it was with great happiness that they were able to one day report to the saint that his worst enemy was dead. But instead of relief, the saint was overwhelmed with sadness. Oh no, he wept, my greatest friend and critic is gone. What will I do without him?
I want to be like that saint–brave enough to look each criticism dead in the eyes. I want to be tough enough to use the constructive ones, and I want to be sure enough to release the destructive ones–never forgetting that God will work through whatever means will reach me (poking me in my soft spots is a pretty effective tactic). So I’m not going to judge myself based on my first reaction, because it’s a habit long ingrained. And I’m not going to judge myself on my second reaction because, well, I don’t like it. What I am going to do is step back and judge the actual action that I took.
I ignored the seething mind, and I ignored the bleeding heart. Instead, I went and read the “whining” post in question. (Admittedly, it was a super fast read, cringing, while I waited to see if it was a valid comment.) And then, I went back and read it again, much slower this time. (It was this post if you’re at all curious. Pretty “ironic” that it happened to be a guru post. Be tough, he whispers.) Did I find a truth, or a lie? In my estimation, the whining wasn’t there; I wasn’t at all in a petulant mood when I wrote it. In fact, the whole subject makes me unbelievably happy, so…
…so after a week’s worth of careful assessment, I declared the comment unnecessarily mean, and then discarded it. And now I’m moving on. Because it doesn’t take a genius to understand that a life in which words don’t break my bones would make for a far more pleasant journey. A life in which I’m impervious to the sting of cutting remarks, yet wise enough to discern the truth in them, is worth working for. A life in which things just bead up and roll of my back sounds pretty. dang. amazing.
The only question I have now is: how quickly can I get there? I guess my spam-box and lurking trolls await…
Learn to accept blame, criticism and accusation, silently and without retaliation, even though untrue and unjustified ~ St. Francis
Hope that your week is a troll-free one. Much love & many blessings ~ Melinda
I know that summer is nearing to a close (and I’ve been meaning to share this for weeks now!), but there are still some buggy bonfires and hiking days ahead of us. This eco insect repellent is a summertime staple in our house, and I just thought it would be nice of me to share it with you all.
Certain essential oils can cause skin irritation in some individuals. Specifically peppermint, and to a much lesser degree, citronella. My family and I have been using this recipe for probably a dozen years now with no problem, but I do have tough skin and can often apply oils full strength with no issues. Myself aside, I’ve shared this repellent with family, bonfire friends, and camping companions throughout the years and haven’t had anyone complain of skin irritations. As a precaution, however, I would strongly suggest testing the spray on a small area first, or reducing the peppermint and citronella oils to start. Pregnant women please use care, some essential oils are not recommended during pregnancy.
Originally this recipe was created using an oil base (sesame seed oil has insect repellent properties). While the effects lasted longer, it was obviously oily and messy. I switched it over to a witch hazel base which means it dissipates quicker, but with no messy residue. We’ve been using it for years now (the cedarwood is a new addition, great for warding off ticks!) and apply it as often as needed.
A quick and easy chemical-free DIY recipe to keep those biting bugs at bay!
- ½ cup witch hazel
- 15 drops rosemary essential oil
- 15 drops lemongrass essential oil
- 15 drops citronella essential oil
- 15 drops peppermint essential oil
- 10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
- 4 drops cedarwood essential oil
Add all of the ingredients to a 4 ounce glass bottle and shake well
Apply liberally, and as needed (use care to avoid the eyes)
Disclaimer: Certain essential oils can cause skin irritation in some individuals. Specifically peppermint, and to a much lesser degree, citronella. My family and I have been using this recipe for probably a dozen years now with no problem, but I do have tough skin and can often apply oils full strength with no issues. Myself aside, I've shared this repellent with family, bonfire friends, and camping companions throughout the years and haven't had anyone complain of skin irritations. As a precaution, however, I would strongly suggest testing the spray on a small area first, or reducing the peppermint and citronella oils to start. Pregnant women please use care, some essential oils are not recommended during pregnancy.
Note: Originally this recipe was created using an oil base (sesame seed oil has insect repellent properties). While the effects lasted longer, it was obviously oily and messy. I switched it over to a witch hazel base which means it dissipates quicker, but with no messy residue. We've been using it for years now (the cedarwood is a new addition, great for warding off ticks!) and apply it as often as needed.
P.S. These days I buy all of my organic essential oils from Plant Therapy. My favorite company for oils is actually Mountain Rose Herbs, I used them for many years, but unfortunately their shipping costs are high and orders can take a while to arrive.