Confession #8:  Why I Really Need Help in Restarting

Confession #8: Why I Really Need Help in Restarting

I’ve accepted that at the awesome age of 63, my silver hair is lovely and I have thin skin that shows experience and feelings. I’ve learned to appreciate the joy in the beautiful experience of “croning,” or becoming an elder. I have a new appreciation of where I’ve been, and I can marvel in gratitude at the changes.

I wrote already about my early life and my brother D here. My brother Don, or D as he came to be known (short for Deetle),  was my “Irish” twin, being only ten months older than me. We grew up very close, and he was always very curious about nature and showed me snakes and such from an early age. I looked up to him as my constant companion.


We were a year apart at school and had some of same friends—especially girls who wanted to be my friend because he was so cute! I really hated when he went off to Army boot camp for six months while I was a senior in high school. But he came back and then I moved on to Florida—but I still loved everything he did.  He showed me the great Bob Dylan and other musicians from the 1960s, and by the 70s he had gotten into bluegrass music, and of course I followed. I got a fiddle and he patiently taught me songs like Old Joe Clark. We would play together when I made trips back to NC.


We both got married and had our baby girls, Katie and Nyssa, around the same time (1984). He moved to Florida eventually, and after finding a great job for him, we flipped two houses in our spare time for extra money, which he used to get a little house.


It was really great to have him close by; we had lots of family time with our East Coast family, especially with our nephew Jim who had just returned from Afghanistan (more on that story here).


But we weren’t meant to grow old together. He always called on weekend afternoons to say, “No news is good news!” or before going to sleep after a night shift to tell me, “I’m tired and wired and uninspired.” Then one weekend he didn’t. No returned calls at all, and no emails. So, after not hearing back from my brother by Tuesday, I finally discovered he had not been in to work on Monday night.

I drove over and found him on the sofa, as if asleep, having peacefully left his earthly vessel a few days before. Needless to say, I was devastated and severely traumatized. My recovery included therapies in Rapid Resolution Therapy (RRT) and Heart Forgiveness, both of which were crucial to my initial healing process. We went to the mountains of North Carolina, our home, and with his best friends Graham, Steve, Sam, and Linwood, his family put his ashes in the New River.


I once again received help from Robbi Zeck, who had just done her newest Blossoming Heart reflection on Spikenard, which helps us move from grief to resilience.

She writes:

When your heart is cracked wide open, with grief flowing like a river, place Spikenard on the crown of your head, at your forehead, over your heart and on the soles of your feet. It will bring you relief and create inner calm…Spikenard with its grounding earthy qualities will help to create closure so that regret and sorrow gently slip away…build resistance and access your innate strengths and use the affirmation: breathing in I feel, breathing out I flow; my heart is cradled.”

Since then, I’ve used Spikenard and my other tools to restore my peace and build resilience, release the past in a loving way, and be here now in the present. I took time to do my grief work, and during this time, a poem emerged:

A  Morning Mourning

A morning alone becomes a mourning to myself
Alone to indulge in needed release of feelings held in for the moment, my heart cracks wide open and spills new rivers of tears gushing down my face leaving no trace of what I release as grief
Breathing in, I open to the Light
Breathing out, I release the heart light
The heart light switch is on again
Breathing in these mournings alone, the light of Love nourishes and settles my emotional heart
Breathing out I gather my heart back unto myself
Having hit the wall where resilience abounds, the mourning light becomes the Light of Love restoring strength and courage to my soul
Breathing in I feel; Breathing out I flow
My heart is cradled. 


This blog goes out on the three-year anniversary of D’s passing, and I’m grateful to have had him in my life. I remember him with love and feel his presence daily. I know he’s cheering me on, so I’m ready to restart my aromatic journey and rejoin my friends, colleagues and students on the path to finish what I started.  Karmic gravity calls me back; I’m not done yet. Being asked to create the paper from which this confession comes tells me I’m needed, and that helps me to pick back up and restart, so I can be called to action once again.

But I know that I can’t do this alone. My daughter Nyssa has stepped up to help my work continue on, but she needs help too. In all my years, if there is one this I have learned, it’s that life is short and that we get a lot more out of working together than we do working alone.


Who Would Have ‘Thunk’ It?

Who Would Have ‘Thunk’ It?

When many aromatherapists gathered for the 2006 Aromatherapy Conference by Michael Alexander in St. Pete, FL, my brother D, allowed us to raffle him for a dinner date for United Aromatherapy Effort, Inc. to raise funds. Jane Buckle won him and wrote a poem I shared in my recent presentation, so I want to dedicate this blog post to D. Even though my brother passed from this earth a couple of years ago he is still with me cheering me on! I really think he may have been at the conference when I did the RE start me up show, as one of those orbs in the picture.


orb1 orb2


My roots go back to North Carolina. I started this life in the tiny town of Mt. Gilead, NC in 1950 having been born Sylvia Ann Baucom in Troy, NC, where the closest hospital was. My first memories of exploring the world were following my constant companion “Irish twin” Donald or D as he came to be known. He was ten months older than me and we were raised as twins in our early lives, knowing where each other was, having that special bond siblings have.



We moved to the larger city of Raleigh, NC where I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s as an only girl with D and two older brothers (14 year gap). This may have set me up for a life of gathering “brothers” who became mentors and teachers, helping me along the way. Together D and I grew up in the 50’s and 1960s, so we remember well when the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Dylan started.




The fascination with smell began when mom would take us into woods behind our house and show us pitcher plants (what she called them). Their leaves smelled of sassafras. She would collect soil from woods. to use in her potted plants. My mom showed me sewing, practical things, listening, and unconditional love. She made clothes for herself, rarely splurged for Avon beauty products and only had a hair cut occasionally. My neighbor Mrs. Ellis, having two boys, loved showing me how to apply proper make up and perfumes from beautiful bottles with glass stoppers. I became aware of perfumes in high school, noticing the soft scent of Shalimar on the rich girls who wore the best clothes, settling on Intimate spray as gifts at 16 and Estee lauder Youth Dew when I was working and could afford more. Finally, in my 20’s, I received real Shalimar, but by then had switched to naturals so could hardly enjoy it anymore.


In high school, after looking to no avail for a summer job, I decided to go to beauty school instead. I thought at the time beauty was external and important! My early role models were my sister in laws, Joyce and Arlene and they had curly hair. Once when I wanted curly hair as a pre teen, my Mom was gave me a painfully rolled, uncomfortable and smelly perm. When I complained she said something like “one has to work at being beautiful” (or to have curly hair.)….so I thought it was something you had to pay for, to cultivate and work on, etc. Somehow I didn’t understand how the frizzy hair that resulted from my perm did that for me!


By high school, my thinking was what better way to have access to beauty ‘secrets’ than to go into the field. At the time I believed that beauty was something one “did”….with make up and hair instead it coming from within, but hey, I was young! I did the 1200 hours through my last two years of high school in my free time every Thursday night after school, Saturdays, holidays and all of summer vacation. I got my license at 19, a month after graduating from high school. Once working, I moved into my first apartment, my Dad passed away, I met and married my neighbor, and then before the year was up we divorced with me keeping the name Sheppard! Shortly thereafter I moved to Florida, settling in Tampa, and proceeded with my life away from my hometown and family.


While becoming “Sylla” (nick name from friends),  I also attended a couple of years at University of South Florida, and feeling beautiful, I lived the organic hippy life for a while. I earned a degree as a natural health care practitioner (LMT) in 1979 while I cut hair at a local unisex salon.



By the mid 70’s I began my collection of these scented oils that were so magical. Long before I found the Valnet and Tisserand books, I realized this could be something big. Who would ever think from then to now, what adventures I would have. I really thought I invented it!

Re Start Me Up

A few days ago I turned 63 and decided it was time to start a blog. It may seem strange to start on my birthday but I decided I had to just get started, and get it done. We never know how long we have in this earth suit, and I need to put some things down on paper for my legacy. is about my aromatherapy colleagues and I, and what better time to start!
I follow Jeff Brown on Facebook  and recently saw this quote “Essential lessons cannot be avoided. Callings don’t go away. When we turn away from our lessons, when we ignore our truth-aches, the universe jumps into action, orchestrating our return- a symphony of self-creation dedicated to our unique expansion. This is the nature of karmic gravity- we are returned back to our path until we fully walk it. Return to sender, address now known.”  This is so true…the patterns return. Fully walking means discovering and releasing, too.
So here I am: newly updated with two new sites being revealed and realizing I am not finished with my life’s work. I am back on the ride again, back in the arena, showing up for my path. I have been Re Started up, like the Rolling Stones, back in the aromatherapy world and ready to pass the torch, but not before I share all I know so I can retire with no unfinished business.
This blog stuff is very revealing, and a little scary, but I learned long ago that vulnerability can be fun, challenging, and life changing. Some things just cannot be denied! (There is a great Ted Talks on the subject. Like our Facebook Page to get that link!)
So stay tuned for an interesting read on my history and the history of aromatherapy as it has grown in this country over the last 40 yrs.