As I smeared deodorant/antiperspirant all over my armpits this morning, I couldn’t help but wonder; is this going to be what kills me? Everything we do, everything we use, everything we eat, drink, breathe or absorb into our skin contains some level of “toxins” that alter the way our bodies function, believed to contribute to disease and chronic health conditions. We wonder why diabetes and cancer and other horrible, life-threatening diseases seem to be on the rise; the answer is all around us. On us. In us.

I try to buy and use “non-toxic”, “natural”, “organic” products whenever I can, but, quite frankly, they don’t all work as well as the more chemically based products on the market. Deodorant being one. I have tried several “natural” varieties and they, quite literally, stink. Going without has not worked well, either. I value my friendships.

In reading and re-reading and re-reading again (and again) Jillian Michaels “Master Your Metabolism …”, I am convinced that the more pure food and products we use, the more pure our environment (home and yard) can be, the better. True, we can’t be in control of every aspect, for example, this week, my mother’s gardener put highly toxic chemicals all over the lawns. I can smell them from inside the house, days later. I can also smell something coming from the dishwasher, a steam tainted with a quasi-lemon-“flavored” chemical substance. I use organic products to wash my dishes, but I have a hard time avoiding the toxic steam coming from the kitchen. But, again, I can’t help but think, the more I do, the more I will benefit.

Cleaning products, personal care products, air pollution, impure and over treated water supplies, genetically modified foods, chemical ingredients in food, pest-control products in our homes and on our pets and even on our skin, lawn and garden products, everything. There really, truly is no escape. So, the best we can do is to try to limit our use and ingestion of “toxic” products. Not that it’s a lost cause if we can’t eliminate them all, really, any measures we can take will be beneficial. Just remember, all we can do is all we can do, but something is better than nothing. Dabbling is always better than wallowing.

There are toxins in our homes, toxins in our environment. But that’s not all. “Toxins” exist in other aspects of our lives, too. There are toxins in our mind in the manner of toxic thoughts. Any thought that does not serve to promote our goals, to enhance our self-esteem, our growth as an individual, our happiness is toxic and should be avoided, removed and an alternative used in it’s place.

The “egoic” voice, as my yoga instructor calls it, our “superficial” voice, that voice in our head that talks and talks and talks all day, and sometimes, all night, very often is toxic. Listen to that voice. Actually, don’t. Identify it, and disregard it. Today, I caught my superficial voice tell myself, twice, that I’m fat. I’m not at all fat, I’m a size six. I caught that voice tell myself that my nose is crooked. So what, whose isn’t? The plastic surgeon’s wife, and that’s about it. And who cares. It adds character. Today, I caught my superficial voice tell myself I’m stupid. Wrong, again. Our superficial voice tries to make us irritable, grumpy, impatient, intolerant, judgmental, overindulgent, critical, controlling, and so much more. Have you noticed? Do. Treat that superficial voice, your egoic voice, as though it were toxic. Quickly neutralize it and replace it with something more wholesome and pure, your inner voice, your true voice. Find that inner voice, deep inside you, fueled by your true desires, your goals, your values and replace the toxic, superficial voice with what your true voice has to say. The true voice is “organic”, but it is polite and quiet, like all truly great leaders. Give your true voice a chance to lead, neutralize the toxic voice and you’ll find a level of happiness develop within your life you only ever imagined possible. Think of your true voice like Gandhi, Buddha, or the Dalai Lama and your superficial voice as Hitler, Saddam Hussein or Kim Jung Il. That should give you some perspective. The best resource I have found here is a book by Richard Carlson PhD “You Can Be Happy No Matter What: Five Principles for Keeping Life in Perspective”, and, for the record, any book he recommends is equally as valuable. I’ve read them all.

What other toxins poison our lives? Toxins within us that pollute our relationships, whether friendships, family relationships, working relationships, marriages or other long-term committed relationships. What are these toxins? Jealousy, deceit, dishonesty, control, and probably the worst enemy of just about everything, complacency. True, it is nearly impossible to completely eradicate these toxins from our natural disposition. With the help of our organic, inner voice, though, we can gain an upper hand on most of these relationship toxins once we’ve identified them. We can turn the tide on almost any relationship, as long as it isn’t abusive, by replacing toxic behavior with wholesome behavior. This. Takes. Practice. The behaviors that will benefit a relationship, any type of relationship are integrity, honesty, compassion, understanding, the act of genuine and active listening, tolerance, acceptance, interest and attentiveness. Just like replacing the toxic cleansers we use in our home with natural-based products, we can replace toxic behavior with behaviors that will grow our relationship, which will bolster it, that will deepen it, that will improve it. The best resource I can recommend for additional information is a book by Mali Apple and Joe Dunn, “The Soulmate Experience: A Practical Guide to Creating Extraordinary Relationships”.

While we’re talking about people in our lives, are there people with toxicity causing disease and dysfunction in our lives? It is a harsh assessment, but, sadly, necessary. In discussing relationships, above, I mentioned that any relationship was salvageable, as long as it wasn’t abusive. If you are in an abusive relationship, of any type, GET OUT and GET HELP!  If you are the abuser, GET HELP! An abusive relationship is most certainly toxic, and, again, can be any kind of relationship; friends, coworkers, family, significant others. It matters not the who of an abusive relationship, what matters is that you remove yourself from it. Fast. And find some support. Now.

If you are in a relationship that isn’t abusive, but is toxic, then you need to weigh some alternatives and make a move. Something has to change. Just like all toxins in our lives, toxic relationships have no place and we either need to neutralize them, or get rid of them. Harsh, I know, but true. You cannot begin to be who you deserve to be if someone, through their toxicity, is undermining your self-esteem, your self-confidence, your motivation, your energy and your enthusiasm.

Toxic relationships often have certain, easily identifiable elements; usually the toxic party is negative, most of the time. They may think in very black and white terms, all good or bad, they always need to be right, it’s their way or the highway. Most often, they are takers, but not givers. Their own lives tend to be extremely chaotic and that’s all they’re willing to talk about. Toxic people are usually needy and seek to become instant friends or lovers or partners and they will often idealize you, at first. Toxic people are usually passive/aggressive and can be manipulative, even exploitive. They are extremely judgmental. Toxic people are seldom satisfied, they always seek more and whatever you give is never quite enough, is denied or completely dismissed. Toxic people are needy and require constant attention, reassurance and validation, they are self-involved, self-absorbed, and not only are they only focused on their own needs, insecurities and emotions, but insist that your attentions also be so focused. Does this sound like anyone you know? Yes? So, what to do?

When we have toxic people around us, and especially when those toxic people are folks we simply can’t just “unfriend”, like on Facebook, we have to figure out how to deal. Distance is good, unless “the toxin” is close enough to you (as in, perhaps, spouse or family) that you can suggest they seek some professional guidance. I’m sure, if you’re like me, you have no limit of toxic people in your life. Usually, “unfriending” or “divorcing” these people, either literally or figuratively, while a solution, winds us up with a certain amount of regret. If we aren’t in a position to suggest they seek help, then distance and infrequency is, perhaps, a workable solution. Unless a relationship is seriously toxic, perhaps limited exposure is better than “unfriending”. Just like any toxin, if you must be exposed, limited exposure is best. I suppose we have to determine the level of toxicity, our ability to distance ourselves, or “limit” our exposure, and then execute a plan from there. It isn’t an easy topic. Identifying toxic people is FAR easier than knowing what to do about them.

In an effort to evolve into more healthy, happy, productive and fulfilled people, we need to care for ourselves on several levels; physical, environmental, mental, interpersonal, and emotional. One of the key things we can do to this end is identify things that will impede our progress or undermine our efforts. Toxins are high on that list, in every realm. Look around you. What’s toxic? Look within you, What’s toxic? Let’s do everything we can to remove toxins from our lives!




I Am An Environmentalist

I am an environmentalist in a couple of different respects. First, I have always believed that our Earth and her resources are to be revered, respected, preserved, conserved and restored. In the second respect, I believe that our immediate environment, our home, or workplace, and the things we expose ourselves to should be a focus and a concern.

Many of us are beginning to grasp the fact that we are what we eat. We are striving to make better choices in what we put into our bodies. I have finally justified spending extra money, now, on wholesome, sustainable and wherever possible, organic food. I believe by investing now in pure food to fuel my body, I will prevent costly medical bills in the future by minimizing the likelihood of diabetes, celiac disease, cancer and heart disease. I am well aware that food, alone, is not going to be my savior. I know, too, that consistent exercise, including cardio, strength, and flexibility are going to be contributors to my long term health and longevity.

There are other factors that many of us dismiss that are going to become more talked about, I think, in the future. Our environment. Some are talking about it, a few of us have acknowledged the concerns, and fewer yet are taking action. Yes, our overall environment, polluted air, tainted water supplies, exposure to contaminants in our world, are all going to be issues we need to be concerned with. Sadly, these are far greater than what the efforts of a few can quickly correct, or even mitigate.

There is another environment, that, when you think about, can have a far more significant impact on us, and, fortunately, we are nearly in complete control of. Our home. And, for some of us, our workplace.

Take a look around your home. What do you clean surfaces with? What do you clean dishes with? What do you wash your clothes with? What types of products to you put directly on your skin, your hair, your nails? For a real, tangible, impact, take all those products and place them on a table. Now, read their labels. We see, repeatedly, words like “hazardous”, “caution”, “warning”, “harmful”. Read a little further. How many of these labels specifically say “harmful or fatal if swallowed”, “do not ingest”, “use in ventilated ares”? Hello? You’re putting these on your skin. Many of us even have professionals come and spray our homes, inside and out, with deadly chemicals to control insects. Do you know what the infertility rate is for exterminators? How about the cancer rate? You’re polluting the air inside your home with ALL these chemicals and toxins, from Windex to commercial grade pesticides. Often, a whole bunch of these chemicals are used in any one day and their chemical fallout swirls around us as we sleep, as we eat, as we live in our homes. This is our environment, the place we take refuge in when the pollution index factor outside is elevated! Ironic, isn’t it?

Think for a moment; you spray down your shower with a chemical, every now and then. One I’m certain says “hazardous”, “caution”, “warning”, “harmful”. After cleaning your shower with these hazardous, harmful chemicals, you turn the hot water on and the lingering chemical properties are mixed with steam you inhale. Do you think, for a moment, this is good?

How about “air fresheners”? You do realize they are made by the same folks that bring you the shower cleaner, right? The label may say “fresh magical mountain air”, but the contents are actually chemicals that you spray about your house and then inhale, deeply, with satisfaction.

Window cleaner, surface cleaner, cleansers, detergents, air fresheners, soaps, shampoos, make up, lotions, and the list goes on, are all, well, pretty bad for us. I know it is nearly impossible to find safe, effective alternatives to all of these common, everyday products. But I suggest trying. Again, the minimal expense you incur now for natural substitutes will be worth the effort in the long run. There are many very effective, natural home remedies for most of the cleansers any home would need. Personal care products, like make up, lotions, shampoos, etc., may be a bit more of a challenge. But, like the food we eat and the water we drink, the more we can do, the better off we’ll be. This is not an all or nothing proposition, any change will be better than no change.

I read a book a few years ago that completely changed my life. I’ve mentioned it before. I’m mentioning it again. I highly recommend this book, as it covers the relationship food, exercise and environment all have on our long term health, longevity and quality of life. Contaminants and impurities in our food, our water and in our environment all contribute to alterations in our hormones that, in the long term, cause life threatening conditions and disease like diabetes and cancer. The book? Master Your Metabolism: The 3 Diet Secrets to Naturally Balancing Your Hormones for a Hot and Healthy Body! by Jillian Michaels. This book scared the hell out of me. As a result, I have followed as much of the advice as possible, implementing portions of it over the past three years as my circumstances would allow. The impact has been significant. I’ve lost fifty pounds, I look and feel healthier, more energetic, more at peace and generally, happier. Yes, no longer using common window cleaners has helped, in part, to change my life! I swear it!

By paying attention to your daily, immediate environment, by educating yourself on the hazards therein and on alternatives for those products, you can improve your overall well-being, possibly your longevity and your quality of life. Become an environmentalist. And while I probably won’t see you at the next tree-hugging, whale saving occupation, I will be there in spirit, while making my own household disinfectant out of isopropyl alcohol and lavender oil.

The book that changed my life
The book that changed my life
This is my environment today. I am working from my son's garage as he performs a long overdue oil change for me.
This is my environment today. I am working from my son’s garage as he performs a long overdue oil change for me.
Upon closer examination, this is a very unhealthy environment. I am now working from the driveway!
Upon closer examination, this is a very unhealthy environment. I am now working from the driveway!