“we have to meet ourselves wherever we are in a place of non-judgement. there is no right or wrong, no this way or that way. there is only what feels right to you, and where you feel authentically called to make a change in your life.”
My Intentions Behind This Blog
I love how honest, free, bold, impassioned and from-the-heart my team can be. Every meeting with them, I never quite know what to expect. That is why in a recent meeting, when it was suggested that I write about “low-tox” living, I was met with two very differing points of view.
My Marketing Manager, Jessica, has been on a quest lately to learn more about what is natural and what isn’t; what has the capability of doing harm to or improve upon the health of her body. She has been asking me and other members of my team questions, and suggested I write a post or two about non-toxic living.
Our Director of Sales + Education heard the words “non-toxic” and her ears perked up. Always honest and often animated, Andrea said, “UGH! I do not like that word – non-toxic – we can’t say that”.
Jessica, who is just starting to uncover a whole world of new information asks: “What is wrong with non-toxic?”
Andrea, having spent years immersed in the ‘wellness’ industry: “I think it’s fear mongering, but that’s just me.”
Having a team that feels comfortable to speak freely and disagree freely moves me to tears in today’s world. Having differing points of view and then zooming out to understand others’ points of views is what creates positive change in the world.
In this example, there is plenty of spaciousness for truth on both sides of this discussion that I would like to expand on. Luckily, it doesn’t usually have to be one or the other, despite the polarizing nature of social media.
I left the meeting deeply contemplating both sides of the topic of “clean” living and “non-toxic” choices. My own desire to live freely, uninhibitedly and without mental constructs leads me to see fear mongering as something that will not dictate my life’s choices! Meanwhile, my distrust of greedy corporations and a government that caters to them prompts me to dig deeper on almost every aspect daily life: from what is in my water to what my couch is made of. All the while, I also consider what a huge privilege it is to have any choices at all.
My Thoughts On “Clean Living”
One of the negatives I see to using this type of language, like non-toxic or clean, is the triggering feelings it can bring up. It can make us feel as if we are doing something wrong, or even that we have been doing something wrong our entire lives – that is quite intimidating! It can make us think that the loved ones who raised us were wrong – or the ultimate trigger: that we have some how been harming loved ones in our care with our choices. These things can make us feel small, powerless, shameful, overwhelmed, and in general bring up a lot of big emotions. Most of us don’t like change, and if we are faced with something huge that we should, or even want to change, it can be met with resistance by ourselves and those around us.
I remember the first time someone suggested that I use a shower filter. I shut that conversation down real quick! The mere suggestion of a simple shower filter was enough to send me into a tailspin of overwhelm, neurosis, and not-enough-looping thoughts. I was already (in my opinion at that time) doing so much to eliminate “toxins” from my life. The thought of adding a shower filter to the list put me over the edge. That is an example of irrational reaction and resistance, and it was obviously not really about a simple shower filter, but instead about how that suggestion made me think and feel.
The simple truth was that I could not introduce a shower filter at that time. I could not prioritize it financially or energetically from a time/research perspective. And that was simply A-OK. We have to realize that the road to “cleaner living” is a never ending one. It is most definitely not rewarding in the mental sense, because there is always another gadget you can buy, more time you can spend, and another level of “cleanliness” you can achieve. It is healthier to have a more balanced perspective from the get-go, this path needs to be individually realistic and look different for everyone.
We have to meet ourselves wherever we are in a place of non-judgement. It is true that some of us are more sensitive to our environments and what we ingest than others. Some of us may be incredibly sensitive to artificial fragrance, while others don’t seem to notice them. There is no right or wrong, no this way or that way. There is only what feels right TO YOU, and where you feel authentically called to make a change in your life. Approaching non-toxic or clean living with a mind set of spaciousness is essential to not getting overwhelmed or feeling shame. Also realizing that you will do things in the time that you are meant to do them and nothing needs to be forced.
Most importantly, our thoughts are powerful and our unfolding reality is created by our own mental constructs. If we believe that something is poisoning our home or food, then most definitely we will feel poisoned. The very thought itself that we are living in a toxic environment and eating toxic food with nothing to do about it – THAT is a toxic thought more powerful than anything we could ever ingest. Our bodies are most definitely not powerless, with a capability to heal, tolerate, adjust to, and transform against almost any odds. We can give them a helping hand by eliminating what feels important to us as individuals, but above all else we should trust that we are constantly guided to the best decisions for ourselves.
My Top Four Clean Living Choices
On that note, here are my top 4 “clean living” choices that have made the biggest impact on my own health. Some are expensive and some are much less so. In my own life, there is nothing I financially prioritize over my health. Anything wellness related is where I spend the majority of my income. This lifestyle is not for everyone, but prioritizing that financially is what makes the most sense for me personally.
Additionally and important to note, a “non-toxic” lifestyle is often promoted in a way that is not affordable or achievable for everyone. If you are looking to live a cleaner lifestyle and find that the individuals you are listening to are always recommending things you can’t afford, then I suggest moving on from listening to that person. There are always more affordable alternatives and options, and again, trusting yourself above all will guide you to the best choice for you in that moment.
1) Getting an air filter. This one surprised me, and wow, can they be expensive! We have so much pollution in our environment, and we get accustomed to breathing air that is filled with both natural and unnatural substances that can be hard on our lungs and bodies. There are so many types of air filters out there, but in all of my research I found the most important thing is that it contain a carbon filter and physically clean the air. There are some out there that claim to neutralize the air instead of physically filtering it, and especially if you are already having health issues I don’t recommend that.
Personal Story: Our first air filter was an Austin Air Junior. At the time, we suspected we might have some dreaded mold issues in our apartment. I put the filter by my bed. Immediately, I started having some extreme “detox” or “herxheimer” reactions to having cleaner air. My heart was racing at night, I was getting more headaches and my skin was breaking out. I wasn’t aware of it then, but this was a clear sign that my body had adjusted to both the moisture and mold spores in the air, which our filter was now removing. As my body became less burdened with those things, it was able to jumpstart a stronger healing process which from the outside looked like a short period of intensification of symptoms.
2) Investing in a drinking water filter. I have long purchased bottled water. Long before I was a sommelier, I had a super palate. Tasting chemicals or plastic in drinking water is definitely unpleasant. Buying bottled water can add up financially over time and I felt terrible about the plastic I was adding to the environment on a weekly basis. There are so many water filters out there, and I won’t go into that too much! However, much like the air filter, physically filtering water with a carbon filter is something to look for. If you don’t live in a permanent home, then you might not want to buy a permanent one for your sink. There are counter top filters easily movable and a great fit if you live in an apartment or are more transient in life.
3) Removing artificial fragrances from my life. This is not an expensive endeavor and can be achieved by anyone. Things like laundry detergent and cleaning products are often heavily fragranced and these fragrances can negatively impact the health of many sensitive individuals. Unscented options are available from most common brands of everything from deodorant, shampoo, floor cleaner and laundry detergent – a fancy or name brand is not needed either to achieve this.
Personal Story: One of the last scented things I gave up in my life was swiffer wet mops. (Aren’t they just the most convenient luxury??) I simply could not imagine or entertain what I would do without them. I was also on a bit of a cleaning kick at the time, and I would mop with them once per week. Then my dog started sneezing blood and developed an inoperable tumor on her nose. This was obviously devastating! I took her to multiple vets to no avail, and then one holistic doctor asked what we used to mop our floor. After sharing my swiffer addiction, the doctor suggested we stop using that. I stopped using it, and applied Recovery Balm to my dogs nose every day for weeks – with extra well wishes, hope and love. After several weeks of mopping with a water/vinegar solution instead, her bloody sneezes stopped and even her tumor disappeared.
4) Cooking at home and eating a whole food diet. There are so many diets out there and this topic actually really annoys me when experts state that their diet is “THE right way”. There is no “right” way to eat. Each person is unique and what they eat should be totally unique to them – whether that be dairy-free, grain-free, vegan, or any of the other countless dietary options. For me, what I’ve found to be most effective (after trying most things) is only eating what we cook at home from whole foods. That doesn’t mean I never eat out, but I often don’t feel well when I do and it is impossible to control the processed ingredients used by a restaurant. A non-processed whole food diet means that we end up doing a lot more cooking, chopping, and preparing; we eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs, and butter with occasional meat, dairy, and whole grains when that is what our bodies ask for.
I make as conscious choices as possible about where these ingredients come from. We are admittedly super lucky being in California where we can get most anything directly from a local farmer. For those of you on a budget, farmers are often more affordable than organic, non-processed ingredients at grocery stores. Of all the diets I have been on, and still sometimes get pulled into for various reasons, the one thing that always remains as a foundation is whole foods and home cooking, that is what make me feel the best. Sticking to these two aspects also makes more indulgent and decadent dishes much more digestible for me.
I hope this long-winded guide on my top clean living choices is helpful for those of you new to this journey, or even to those of you who are tired on the path!