Musings: Healthy Homes and Families

I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but let’s face it: we live in a toxic world. Every day, there’s news reporting that our most common household products, foods and medications are toxic to our bodies.

It’s hard to comprehend how vast this problem is because hydrogenated fats, high fructose corn syrup and Windex are woven right into the fabric of our lives. I love Windex — it works great! — but did you know that every time you use chemical glass cleaners, you inhale vapors that are absolutely toxic to your body? Or it gets in through your skin?

Our lives are filled with these poisons we’ve concocted, ironically, to make our lives better. And in many ways our lives have become much easier and more comfortable because of these new inventions, products and ingenious technologies. But now, after 60 years of absorbing minute quantities of manmade toxic ingredients a little here, a little there, oops — ban this one….it’s lethal — and passing this on to our children genetically, our bodies are carrying a toxic overload they can’t get rid of naturally. Is it any wonder we find ourselves living in the midst of a cancer epidemic?

The earth, water and air are saturated too, with decades of bio-accumulation that doesn’t just go away simply because we banned some lethal chemicals twenty years ago. Yet we continue to eat and use more toxic products, which create more toxic waste, and grimly accept the rise in cancer statistics as normal and inevitable. Old habits die hard, but learning the facts about toxins and what the alternatives are is definitely worth the price of saving your health and being around to care for your loved ones, even if it means changing your thinking or lifestyle.

Sadly, it’s not just toxic products that are poisoning our lives. Our media-driven culture is also creating toxic people who are angry, greedy and disrespectful. Reinforced by the violent and sexually explicit images we cannot escape from in the news, popular media and advertising campaigns all around us (“As seen on TV!”), we have come to accept selfishness and chaos as normal in our lives, which they are not! Humans thrive on love, security and cooperation, but we see the world around us — both our neighborhoods and the world abroad — declining rapidly away from these ideals. The lure of “mindless entertainment” offered by all segments of the entertainment industry has lulled us into complacency against the rise in war, violence, poverty, disease, pornography, pollution, rudeness, corruption, inequality, injustice, fear, despair and ultimately, apathy, in our lives. What kind of world will our kids create with these values and images we are passing onto them?

Although we are slowly poisoning our bodies, our minds and the earth with so much toxic stuff, we also each wield the mighty power of the individual in our own hands to stop this madness. I can make a change in my own life, which in turn affects my family, my friends and perhaps even my community in some small way. These are the changes I can make at home. Good health and good living starts with creating a healthy home — your food, household products, environment and relationships.

Oddly, the term “healthcare” today has largely come to mean measures we take to test for or combat disease when we are sick, rather than actually doing something to take care of our health. You can turn your home into your own personal healthcare center by making simple choices everyday that support your health and wellbeing, instead of harming it. I can eliminate toxic products from my home and cook good food to boost physical health for myself and my family. I can clean and organize my home to free it from dirt, clutter and all the unnecessary “trappings” of the American lifestyle of material excess. I can become a less toxic person and respect those around me, beginning with myself and the people I live with at home. Treating others the way I want to be treated and encouraging other family members to do the same helps create an environment of emotional health and balance in a home.

Today, more than ever, our stressful and toxic lifestyles require that we take an active daily role in promoting our health and wellbeing. Nowhere but in your own home do you have the freedom to make the personal choices that will best support you and your family towards this goal. You will find many resources to help you right in the pages of this issue of Spirit of Change. Read it, browse through it, keep it on hand for reference. Take the time to learn about the toxic foods you eat and products you are using everyday, then make new choices. Start slowly by eliminating and introducing products one at a time in your house, or by keeping both toxic products and non-toxic alternatives side by side in your cabinets and refrigerator, then consciously choosing what you will use each time. Chemical cleaning products or vinegar? Cookies or whole wheat toast with jam?

Consider ways to alter your environment and personal relationships to create balance and harmony in your life. The ancient art of feng shui describes areas in a house or yard that are especially “chi nourished,” having naturally good energy or light at certain times of the day, places you enjoy being. Tend to these spaces by keeping them clean and comfortable, and choose to spend time there. No matter what happens in the world outside your door, your home is the best, most convenient and inexpensive place to start or maintain your own personal healthcare routine.

Fortunately, I do believe there is hope for our culture. I recently saw an interview addressing potential concerns about American culture, with former president Jimmy Carter, now a philanthropist and tireless worker for change who uses his leadership, influence and wisdom to improve the lives of people around the world. His message and optimism bolsters my hopes for a better world because he speaks from knowledge gained through many decades of direct experience in the field. With his trademark toothy grin and sincerity, he emphatically stated, “I have great faith in the American people. I have great faith in their ability to change and do the right thing.” I will take his word for it.

Carol Bedrosian is publisher and editor of Spirit of Change Magazine.