Category Archives for "Healing Power of Nature"

Are you feeling unsupported?

When my unborn child's heart stopped beating I remember a scream echoing through the clinic. Vaguely I was aware that it was my scream, but all I knew was that I had to get home. Get to my room. Crawl into bed. 

I stayed there for ages. Maybe it was two weeks - I have no idea. Sometimes there was a gap in the silence where I raged, and had to trust my husband to keep us both safe. Mostly, it was silent. 

A few people came over. I am not even sure if I said anything that made sense, but I was deeply grateful and it was a relief to feel gratitude amongst waves of anger, bitterness and grief. Many people didn't come over. For a long time this seemed as horrifying as anything else.

But then something else happened. The space and quiet led me to a deep place of meditation, prayer and connection that I've carried with me since. New insights about my life and new dreams began to emerge. When we're not spreading ourselves too far, we have the chance to dig deeper.

Sometimes you may find yourself in the midst of the unthinkable, and feeling alone. It can feel like trying to remember which way to swim while being thrown by a massive wave. We would do anything for something to hold onto until the waves subside enough to swim again.

If this is you, my heart is full of love for you. And know that there will be something to hold on to. We can't always rely on people knowing how to be there for us, or having the emotional bandwidth for it. Since my experience I've seen many people comment that they "declutter" friends who don't show up for them. I think there is room for a different approach.

Take care of your self

When we are suffering or struggling, people will often say to us "Take care of your self". But what does that even mean? Here are the ways I offer you to provide yourself the care you need:

  • Allow yourself to retreat and nurse your wounds. Cry. Curl up in bed and sleep. Surround yourself with soft pillows and warm blankets. 
  • Feed yourself nutritious comfort foods. Try to avoid eating rubbish - because that's how it makes you feel. But don't punish yourself if you do. Be gentle and kind like you would to a precious friend. If it's too overwhelming to contemplate shopping and cooking, order a supermarket delivery of ready made casseroles and soups and the healthiest least processed things you can find. Or get a meal delivery service. If you know someone who loves cooking, ask if they'd make a large pot of soup for you. Many people would love to know something constructive they can do to support you. Stock up on gentle soothing herbal teas.
  • Express what's on your heart. If your friends aren't showing up for talking things through, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or similar services where you live, or book in to talk to a psychologist or counsellor. But one way or another, find someone to talk to. And pick up a pen - journalling is another way to express your thoughts and feelings. Don't censor yourself, just pour your soul onto the page. If you want to, burn the pages later to symbolise releasing the emotions.
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    Be comforted through touch. Instinctively we want someone we love to hug us or hold our hand when we struggle. If you are not with people you love, wrap your arms around yourself, wrap up in soft warm clothes, have a magnesium salt bath, get a massage.
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    When you can, make a list of what else you're needing and find ways to have these needs met.
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    Allow silence and aloneness to be a time to look within, practice mindfulness meditation, gentle yoga asanas, prayer and journalling. When you are ready, begin a gratitude practice.
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    Hold space for yourself. If you are feeling alone and fragile, sit and begin nurturing yourself. Place one hand over your heart, and the other over your belly. See this as a symbol for giving yourself kindness. Sit this way and allow your breathing to calm and deepen. Notice the movement over your chest and your belly as you breath. Sit giving yourself this kindness until a sense of calm is present within.

Hold your friendships lightly

It's easy to feel disillusioned if you thought your friends would turn up in the tough times and they don't. And when you reflect on some of these friendships you may see that it was unhealthy or one-way. But don't assume your friends don't care about you. Keep in mind that people show their love in different ways, and some don't know how to give you the support you need. 

  • Make a list of your friends, in writing if you can, or just in your mind. As you consider each friend, consider what is actually on offer. Rather than feeling disappointed that your best friend isn't visiting with casseroles, or your mum isn't ringing you up to ask how you feel, ask yourself if this is the kind of thing they do anyway. What do they offer in your friendship? If your best friend is great for a laugh and for watching old movies together, ask that from her. And if your mum is better at hugs than heart to hearts, accept her hug
  • Provide your closest friends with a bit of education and honesty about what you're going through. Don't make them guess. And although it feels infuriating that people don't automatically turn up, on the days when you have the capacity, tell them what would help. 
  • Avoid all-or-nothing thinking. Just because someone didn't visit, didn't mean they didn't care. Notice the ways people DO show love, even if it's not the way you really wanted. Live in the grace of letting people show love and letting yourself receive it, in many forms.
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    Find your new tribe - the people who have been through the same thing and get it. Whether it's a local support group or a Facebook group, there are people out there that will help you feel part of a community again. Allow yourself to open up as it feels safe to, and find the understanding you crave. Hold the awareness of the risk of some communities remaining stuck in this one event, and find those that feel like healthy supports.
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    Remember that even if your friends haven't been through the same event as you, they have had many of the same feelings. You may feel no one understands your experience, but be assured someone will understand anger, grief, loneliness, sadness, fatigue or apathy.

I hope you find something on this page to hold on to. Let me know in the comments below which strategy you'll be trying, or perhaps a new way you might show up for a friend. 

Make your own sugar scrub

The basics of sugar scrub

Sugar scrub is the easiest thing in the world. And the cheapest. It also leaves skin silky smooth and moisturised.

The principles of making a sugar scrub is just to combine oil and sugar in equal proportions. Adjust to preferred consistency. And if you want to get fancy, natural spices or essential oils - provided they're safe to use directly on the skin - add extra benefits and a great fragrance without the hormone disruption of the artificial stuff.

My Sugar and Spice Scrub

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup macadamia oil

1 cup coconut sugar

1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (warming and cleansing)

Combine the oil and sugar in a bowl. Adjust the sugar: oil ratio to your preference.

Add the vanilla and cinammon.

Place scrub into clean glass jar. 

To use: apply and scrub over body before shower or bath. Please note: this scrub is messy so use IN shower or bath! Also, it makes surfaces slippery so take care.

Wash as normal. Enjoy your glowing skin!

How to switch to a natural personal care routine

eco skin care, natural skin care

natural skin care

In the early 2000s, natural products were just beginning to become readily available, and I was keen to adopt this lifestyle for the planet and my own health. In the process of experimenting with the early products, I had more than my share of rashes, breakouts and at the worst point my armpits managed to become red and scaly and yet still somehow sweaty. It was not an easy road! Luckily these days the products available are prolific in number and many of them work well. To make things even easier, I want to tell you everything I've learnt about making the switch.

To begin with, there's no need to throw out all your products and buy new ones. That can be overwhelming and expensive. Instead, it's much more manageable to experiment with one product at a time. This way there is no more financial outlay than you normally would spend on products, less wastage; and if it takes a while to find the right replacement product, you won't be battling with a bathroom cabinet full of items that don't work for you.

toxic personal care ingredients

Here are some of the key ingredients to avoid in your personal care:

Ingredient

Found in..

Reason to avoid

triclosan/ triclocarban

soaps (liquid/ bar)

disrupts thyroid and reproductive hormones

Vitamin A/ retinyl palmitate/ retinyl acetate/ retinoic acid/ retinol

skin care

increases sun sensitivity and when exposed to UV damages DNA of skin

SPF above 50

sunscreen

Only slightly improves sun protection but increases chemical load and leads to false sense of safety in sun

aerosol spray and powder sunscreens with nanoparticles, baby powder

spray and powder sunscreens

penetrate the lungs and enter bloodstream, inhaled baby powder hazardous to the lungs of babies

oxybenzone

sunscreen

potential hormone disruptor

coal tar derivatives and lead

dark hair dyes

carcinogenic, neurotoxin

formaldehyde/ formalin and chemicals that convert to formaldehyde in the body such as bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidzaolidinyl urea, quaternium-15, methylene glycol

chemical hair straightener

carcinogen, respiratory irritant

toluene, benzene

nail polish remover, nail polish

potent neurotoxic, can impair fetal development, toxic to immune system

phthalates, plasticiser

nail polish, hair spray

may damage male reproductive system and should be avoided by pregnant women

fragrance - non-specific ingredient which could be anything

perfume, and perfumed creams or skin care products, makeup, hair products - almost anything

can disrupt hormones, allergenic

BHA

makeup

potential carcinogen, causes depigmentation, in animal studies produced liver damage, interferes with thyroid and reproductive system functions

boric acid & sodium borate

liquid cosmetics and as a preservative, thickener or emulsifier in many cosmetic products

hormone disruptors, may harm male reproductive system, long term use may affect kidneys

parabens , propyl-, isopropyl-butyl-isobutyl

preservative in cosmetics

may disrupt hormones

PEG/ cetearet/ polyethylene

base for creams, toothpaste

probable carcinogen, hormone disruption

alpha & beta hydroxy acids/ lactic acid/ glycolic acid

anti-ageing products and facial peels

increases UV skin damage

hydroquinone, mercury derivatives (calomel, mercurio, mercurio chloride)

skin lighteners

can cause permanent skin disease; mercury in overseas lighteners is a poison

petroleum extracts/ mineral oil

moisturisers, hair conditioners, lip balm

often contaminated with carcinogens, organ toxicity

How to make the switch in 6 steps

  • 1
    Place all your personal care items in front of you.
  • 2
    Throw out any that are over a year old or that you don't like
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    Look at any items that you need to replace or will need to replace soon
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    Select items that you don't currently have a favourite brand that you can't bear to part from
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    When choosing a natural option either ask your friends for recommendations, try the ones I use and love listed below  or check out the reviews at (affiliate) Nourished Life for the product you need.
  • 6
    Check the ingredients of new products and look up any ingredients you don't know at https://www.ewg.org/skindeep and stick to the lowest risk you can find (I aim for a rating of 1-3)

My go-to products (affiliated)

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    Liquid Soap: Dr Bronner's pure castile liquid soap in various natural scents. I usually cleanse my face with this or just water, but I'm experimenting with making my own cleanser from oats. Watch this space! EWG rating 1 (lowest risk)
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    Deodorant: Black Chicken Remedies deodorant paste or No Pong deodorant paste - I seriously can't pick a favourite, Black Chicken has a neutral scent whereas No Pong smells of lemon. If your skin is irritated by either it is most likely the bi-carb, so choose a bi-carb free option by No Pong.
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    Toothpaste: I used to use Jason Powersmile which is fresh and minty and great for a clean feeling and whitening, I most ecently bought Lavera but I have some concern that it contains Limonene which has some evidence of being hazardous so I will be switching to Grants mint and aloe vera toothpaste
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    Teeth whitener: Get ready to make a mess (comes naturally to me!) with the Warpaint Natural Teeth Whitener, which basically involves rubbing charcoal powder into your teeth. The shower is a good place for this activity! 
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    Mouthwash: I occasionally remember to oil pull (gargle with oil such as coconut oil) which is super cleansing to the mouth and provides nutrients for the teeth and gums and keeps breath sweet. I swear by it, but you don't need a fancy expensive product, just any good quality ​coconut oil
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    Sunscreen: I love when the product I like is a cheapie, as is the case with this Life Basics SPF 30 Sunscreen
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    Mascara: I love the gentle Ere Perez Almond Oil Mascara, it smudges easily when just applied but works beautifully.
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     Mineral foundation: I was using an Ere Perez one which lasted years but it's no longer available at my online shop so I'll be shopping around for this one
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    Facial moisturiser: When I'm not too lazy my favourite moisturiser by far is the one I make myself. You can find the recipe here.  If I can't be bothered then I look for facial oils that include jojoba and rosehip but not coconut oil, which tends to clog pores and cause breakouts.
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     Lipstick: I'm choosing a colour from the Luk Lip Nourish Tasting Plate. I wear so little lipstick this sample collection is probably all I need!
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    Hair dye: I use a hair dye based on henna. It's a bit of a hassle because it needs to be mixed a few hours before use and I'm kind of a spontaneous person, and it needs to be on my hair smelling like a cow pat for at least 3 hours. That being said it's natural and works pretty well, with good but not perfect grey coverage. The brand is Desert Shadow and there is a good selection of colours.
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    Shampoo and conditioner: My hair is like noone else's so we al have different needs, and I tend to vary my choices. I currently use 100% Pure shampoo and Acure conditioner.
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    Hair gel: I buy this locally, Miessence Hair Styling Gel which uses aloe vera gel as a base and doesn't dry out my hair
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     Menstrual products: I bought a social enterprise cup called Ruby Cup, but there are plenty pf good choices these days; I find these great as they last all day but sometimes aren't 100% so I combine with Modibodi underwear, also great for light days or overnight. For purer versions of the traditionals I use TOMs tampons and pads

Now I'd love to hear from you! I'm still learning all the products out there and as you can tell, while I have some products that are very effective and very pure, I'm a bit less committed to others. Please share any pure products you love in the comments below, so we can all benefit from each other.