OCCO Handmade


I was going to write about the ending of my last year and my new beginning but I am going to table that for later. Why? I just found out that my favorite essential oil spray is back in production.  So why does this trump my personal journey of learning and growth? Because it is a similar story and I want to honor a sister’s return.

This post is about a woman whose journey took her away from her passion, only to bring her back when the time was right. Instead of telling you her story, which is not mine to tell….I am going to talk about her passion…aromatherapy and essential oils.

If you have never heard of OCCO Handmade, you need to do yourself a favor and go on Etsy and check it out. https://www.etsy.com/shop/OCCOHANDMADE

These scents are heavenly, natural, and perfectly balanced.

I love SMUDGE.

SMUDGE is OCCO’s sage spray which can be used as a clearing spray for Sacred Space, You, Home, Car, Yoga, Shoes, etc.  I found that if I use it as a linen spray at night before bed, I sleep so much better.  It is also a great way to begin a yoga or meditative practice. My yoga teacher uses it before we start class to clear out distractions and negativity. It is a smell that is just so lovely and calming. You can just close your eyes and feel the good wash over you.

Recently, SMUDGE was not available and I purchased another sage spray. It was fine but SMUDGE is by far my favorite.

OCCO Handmade is owned and operated by a beautiful women named Nikki who has a generous spirit and a gift for creating beautiful aromatherapy products. She uses only 100% pure therapeutic grade and fresh essential oils in her products and the quality shows.

Nikki also makes custom scents. I can attest to her gift of combining oils to create a scent that creates memories. I went to Malta with the Durga Studio in 2014. Each person on the trip received a custom scent that Nikki created based on Jen’s (our fearless leader) description of Malta and the flowers and plants that are native there. Nikki created a bottle that can only be described as memories of Malta.

Do yourself a favor and try one of OCCO Handmade’s beautiful scents and feel the love.

photo by Kim Manning

photo by Kim Manning




Light at the end of the tunnel

It has been awhile since I have written. My mind has been in a whirlwind and I have not had much clarity of thought. My hormones are raging and my poor diet and lack of exercise are not helping them. My emotions are up and down and I feel disconnected from my old life and my friends.

But the fog is lifting. As the sun’s warmth and light is returning, I am finding more time to get outside and be with nature. I am meditating again and my mind is starting to free itself. Hope is returning and things seem to be falling into place.

I am still not sure where I am headed once I graduate but I have some ideas of what I want and what it will look like. I am looking forward to spending time with my family, writing from my heart, and planning engaging classes that will help students and adults make, better choices, find balance and improve health.

I have learned SO much during the past year. I learned that I don’t give up and I can overcome anything. I can fall into the depths of despair one day and rise to shine the next day.  I can let go of that which does not serve me well and hold on to that which is dear to me.

I feel I have so much more to offer because of this year. I have lived the life a full-time working mother and a single mother trying to balance work-life-school and not really doing a very good job of it. I have lost myself and developed bad habits but I am turning that around… day-by-day.

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As women, we lose ourselves all too easily. Without taking care of our own mental and physical health, we cannot be as effective in our roles as mothers, wives, sisters, teachers, etc. It’s a vicious battle that we will lose if we don’t pay attention, establish priorities, set boundaries and limitations, and take care of ourselves. We cannot do it all.

So I am honoring my journey. It has led me to places I never dreamed and some places I will never go again. But it was a journey, one that never ends.

Kindness is…


Today I finished my teacher training program and my first year of teaching high school biology at a local essential charter school. This day marks the end of one of the hardest years I have had and one of the most fulfilling at the same time. I really enjoyed my students and how patient they were with me knowing that I was learning how to teach.

So on this last day, I asked my students to complete a survey giving me feedback about my teaching. I asked them “What are 2 things I do well as a teacher?” and “What are 2 things I need to work on and improve?”.  It is important to get their opinions and to learn from them.

One response stood out to me and I has been hard to shake. Here are one student’s responses.

Q1: What are 2 things I do well as a teacher?

“You are kind to students and let them feel at home in class.”

“Your energy radiates to the class and makes an awesome environment.”

Not bad, eh? This feeling of safety and welcomeness was my goal and I was really happy that I successfully created this environment where students could feel safe to take risks and be themselves. 

Q2: What are 2 things I need to work on and improve?

“Cracking down on students; don’t let your kindness get ahead of you.”

“Giving constructive and supportive feedback.”

Still not bad for a new teacher. I know I need to work on my constructive feedback….I also know they want me to give them the answer and I won’t because they need to do the critical thinking. So although I do need to get better we may never totally agree on this point.

What bothered me was that a young person felt that being kind could be detrimental. This broke my heart.  At such a young age, this student was already confused about what strength means.  I can successfully manage my classroom and my students without being degrading, mean, or using threats to convince students to behave. My strength is building trust, building community, building relationships and I do this with kindness and love in my heart. I do this by developing mutual respect that is not based on fear or authority.

Maybe this stuck with me because my freshmen college roommate once said to me, “People will walk all over you if you are too nice”.  At that time, I also was disgusted. If someone takes advantage of you because you are kind, THEY are the problem not you.

It is incredibly sad that people think that strength is being controlling or mean or aggressive.  What they don’t know is that kindness is a form of strength, it takes a lot inner strength to be kind to unkind people, to be kind in difficult situations, to maintain kindness when you may not feel like being so kind.

In a world full of hate and selfishness and misguided “power”, isn’t it worthwhile being  “the energy [that] radiates… and makes an awesome environment”?

So regardless of what ‘others’ think, I will not change.  Because my kindness is stronger than their insecure need to control. Do not underestimate me or others like me.

Kindness is…powerful!

Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt