Pen McKinley- Rodgers’ Wellbeing Story
Pen McKinley-Rodgers, SOL team member and founder of The Fragrant Apothecary, has an incredible amount of plant knowledge and wisdom to share. Having used essential oils for most of her adult life, she turns to them for many things, from the treatment of cuts and bites to headaches and stomach cramps.
In recent years, she’s also been exploring the emotional and spiritual properties of essential oils. She’s incredibly passionate about how they can help make us, and the world we live in, happier and healthier.
Today, Pen is taking over the SOL blog to share her own, deeply personal wellbeing story…
My journey with essential oils started over 3 decades ago, although I was completely unaware of their potency and the therapeutic benefits they possess. For me at the time, it was all about scent, that and the fact every self-respecting hippie wannabe needed to own some patchouli and an oil burner!
In my twenties, I developed a keen interest in natural remedies, including the properties of essential oils. I began using them in place of synthetic chemical products in the kitchen and for various ailments and injuries.
I feel it’s important to say I’m not agains’t modern medicine. In fact, I am grateful we live in an age where lives can be saved with the advent of modern medicine. However, I do believe we are running the risk of being over-reliant on it and forsaking our intuition and responsibility for our own health to others.
The key turning point in my personal journey was when I came to the realisation I was being a passive passenger in the story of my own wellbeing.
Taking Control of My Health
It’s easy to allow a busy life to take over with obligations and responsibilities, with bills to be paid, housework to be done, that our own self-care unwittingly takes a backseat.
It’s so much easier to pop a pill that allows us to carry on, than to pause and consider why we might have a headache, or what might be causing our indigestion. It wasn’t until there was something I couldn’t ignore that I started to take notice, and even then, it was something I continued to put off for other activities I deemed ‘more important’.
It’s only now that I am beginning to ask the question, when did we allow anything to become more important than our own health and wellbeing?
I won’t go into the minutiae of it all, but in late 2007 I was diagnosed with a small uterine fibroid. Although it wasn’t very big, it was recommended that I have it removed, but I decided against it at the time as we were just about to undergo IVF, and I was keen to ‘get on with it’ and didn’t want some pesky fibroid delaying things further.
Our IVF was unsuccessful, the fibroid remained, and life continued until sometime in 2011 when I started getting a lot of discomfort in my lower abdomen and bladder region. Scans showed the fibroid had grown and was pushing on my bladder and I was put on a waiting list for surgery.
There’s nothing like surgery to get you paying attention to your body again, so I started doing my own research about fibroids and more natural alternatives to deal with them, and in doing so opted not to have the surgery.
To be fair, for a couple of months I genuinely worked hard on my self-care practice and there were definitely a few benefits. However, they just weren’t quick enough for me. During winter, I had time to indulge a little in myself but as spring approached and wedding season picked up (I was a full-time wedding photographer), my self-care (and the fibroid) was relegated to ‘unimportant’ and life took over again.
Reconnecting with Essential Oils
We get to this year, by which time my fibroid had grown so dramatically I look about 4 months pregnant. In many ways I am, with a birth that is long overdue! According to the author Caroline Myss, fibroids can represent creativity that has never been birthed, or associated with conflicts about reproduction and relationships.
Caroline relates it to our second (sacral) chakra, which is the centre of our personal power, creativity and sexuality. This is something I’m beginning to explore more deeply. I have put myself back on the waiting list for surgery because the fibroid might now be too big for any other alternative, but in the meantime, I’m taking charge of my own story again.
It’s synchronicity that this has all coincided with my reconnection with essential oils. This has reawakened something I truly believe we all have, a connection to nature and to a wisdom that goes beyond us.
Using plant medicine taps into something sacred and the intentional act that comes through using oils, for topical or aromatic use, starts a forgotten conversation between our bodies and our spirit. We are stopping to say, ‘how are you feeling, what do you need right now?’, and more importantly we are pausing to listen for the answer.
Having essential oils in my daily practice gives me an anchor for these feelings. It helps give form to something that is often abstract and helps me connect and communicate with my inner self.
So, there you have it. My wellbeing story is far from finished, but I am excited to see where this next chapter will lead me.
Read more Wellbeing Stories here.
Love Lizzie and Pen xx