Saturday, September 15, 2018

Simple Living Creates Food Abundance

When I brought my house with land and decided to live simply I really had no idea what I was doing.


I aspired to grow rich organic food to nurture my body back to health after three separate breast cancers but I had never gardened and there was a lot of land.

Nothing grew at first. The soil was hard and barren. Even the hedge I planted the first year died. It just withered before my eyes as I attempted to rescue it from the summer's heat. My soil would not even retain water.

But then two wonderful things happened.

My local community garden gave a series of workshops on rejuvenating soil with rock dust and worm juice. 

 

I added rock dust to my soil to provide essential minerals for the soil bacteria to begin their journey.

Then I had the soil sprayed with worm juice which provided rich bacteria to feed on the rock dust. 

Finally this dead clay soil was beginning its journey back to life.


The second wonderful thing to happen was that a local Permaculture group started in my town and gave weekly lectures on ways to create healthy ecosystems.

These Permaculture lectures enabled me to understand the living nature of our earth and how honoring this could renew its vitality.



Each week I  attended the lectures and discovered the excitement of learning ways to heal our soil and create healthy ecosystems.

 Working with and not against nature was such an innovative and exciting concept.  

 

I also came to love the other people I met at these weekly events as we were all on the same journey of healing this broken planet.  

But back to my own garden.

Now I had a framework on which to bring my soil back to life, and so many exciting concepts to come to understand.

I am not pretending it happened overnight as that would not be true but gradually as I added compost, manure, organic sugar cane bales, every possible bit of pruning or food scraps to my soil I saw it coming back to life.

Along with the rock dust and worm juice a rich mix was beginning to emerge which not only allowed things to grow but to flourish.

As I continued to feed my soil with living, sustainable food it became alive.

 

It has been such a labor of love and it is still very in process, but how can you describe the special feeling from looking at mango blossom on a tree you have grown from seed in soil you have created using organic and sustainable methods.


Or to know how strong your broad beans are because they have grown from last years seeds and are adapted to the rich soil you have created.

 

My aim was to find healthy and healing food for myself but in this journey I have discovered so much more.

 

I do feel Permaculture has so much to offer our planet as a means of bringing our wounded ecosystems back to life.




Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Simple Ideas for Zero Waste Living

The World is at a tipping point in regards to waste. In short we are running out of resources and ways to dispose of rubbish. We all need a good rethink of how we live our lives.

Add to that there is already many with far too much and others too little. Something has to give.

All seem a bit much. Yes it does to me as well but we can start with the everyday and look for simple ways  we can be part of the solution and not the problem.

There will always be the resilient few who don't want to change but as more and more of us wake up to this problem a new consciousness is arising.


The solutions are starting to be available for us all to select  new alternatives to our old careless ways.

Take plastic drinking straws. How many of these have you used and where do you think they are now?

That's right clogging up the ocean or sitting around in landfill because they simply don't break down.

But there is an inexpensive alternative way to still enjoy  your classy drink,  Stainless Steel Drinking Straws . They even look good.

Next time you have your special drink moment you can help the planet and you can even get your own Straw Carrying Case for if this moment happens when you are out.

Say a strong no if you are offered a plastic straw and produce your own. Carry a few extra straws to share with your friends. Nothing like direct action to begin the seeds of change.


Another simple idea is your own Water Bottle. 

I always carry mine with me whether to the gym or the movies and it certainly has saved me from buying a throwaway bottle when in the throes of thirst.

A great plus with metal water bottles is they are BPA free.

Why does that matter you may ask? Well it matters a lot because BPA in any plastic container can leach chemicals that attach to your estrogen receptors and these estrogen mimics have been implicated in the development of estrogen sensitive breast cancers among other  health issues.


As a breast cancer survivor I stay well away from any plastic drinking utensil but this has also enabled me to help our planet at the same time.

The oceans, our earth are just too polluted with these crazy plastic bottles.

And finally to help you walk closer to that Zero Waste life why not your own Steel Spill Proof Coffee Mug

 Many progressive coffee bars will reduce the cost of your take away latte if you bring your own cup. They too are trying to stop the use of the many throw away plastic lined paper cups.



If your current coffee outlet is not onto this why not suggest they begin a zero waste walk.

Three simple ideas, reusable straws, reusable water bottles and reusable coffee cups. Think how much better our planet could be if these became the norm not easy throw away options.

The old throw away head space has to change if this planet is to become a healthy, happy, shared earth.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Simple Joys of Sustainable Living


Sustainable living has reconnected me with so many simple joys.

Above is the garden I have created by sustainable methods.

There was a shed here when I first brought my home but it began to develop a steep backyards lean under the bulk of a heavy cactus vine.

One day to the relief of the neighbors on either side I realized it was no longer safe and had the shed removed.

I retained broken pieces of the cactus vine, piled then up then topped them with cardboard sheets. The cardboard sheets were finally covered with layers of compost, mulch and earth.

Now a few years later with the addition of further mulch, compost and all my food scraps everything has combined to create a nutrient  rich soil in which I grow both fruit trees and other strong rich foods.

I get such joy from looking at the plants growing in soil I have restored to health through my own efforts. It just feels good.


The small African Pigeon Pea plant pictured above is one of the many food plants providing a continuous source of protein rich peas on the soil I have created.

Nasturtiums and Marigolds add to the garden mix and always bring a smile with their cheerful flowers.

Great to add to a salad as well. I especially love the strong bite of nasturtium leaves. They will gives even the blandest piece of lettuce that extra lift.

Having these flowers in a garden is also an extra treat for the pollinators.

All organic gardens  help to save our bees and having a rich variety of flowering plants keeps the bees happy and healthy. 

 




Digging my food scraps into the soil means I have always have a surprise growing in some corner of the garden.


Tomatoes and pumpkins are among these surprise plants and who wouldn't mind finding a stray pumpkin or some ripe red tomatoes among the garden mix.

After a home grown tomato the supermarket varieties taste so bland and flat.

The sweet fresh bite of a home grown cherry tomato is more a favorite with the children I know than any sweet.

Nutrient rich soil creates nutrient rich food and these foods are always tasty and delicious.  


Another joy of my sustainable garden is my fledgling relationship with Snappy the Butcher Bird.

I call this a fledgling relationship because Snappy's father definitely did not like me during previous mating seasons.

The house next door exploded and burned down and I do feel this made my birds unsettled and especially reactive.

So bad was the relationship I needed to get in and out of my car under the protection of an umbrella. Snappy One's favorite activity was to dive bomb me the moment I exited the door of my home or car.

It is very hard gardening with an umbrella in one hand so things got a bit rough around my home for several months each spring.

This year I decided to develop a trusting relationship based on Snappy Two's favorite food early in the year so that by the time it was mating season we could be good friends.

So far all has gone well as  I hope you can see from the photos.

But now I am aware of the intelligence and habits of these beautiful little birds I am working hard to maintain our good relationship.

I really have grown to love the Snappy who is pictured here.

In my previous busy life I would never have had the time to listen to the wildlife around me and realize they were wanting to be honored as well as the earth.

 

A further joy of sustainable living is the joy of growing your own medicine chest.

The Aloe pictured is the very best thing for healing burns and sunburn, and here it is in my own garden.

During radiation for breast cancer it was Aloe Vera that was recommended to stop  redness and burning.

Now in my simple, sustainable garden it is there fresh and waiting for any needed healing moment.

 

 

Not everyone will have the opportunity or motivation to create a totally new life as I have done but we can all incorporate simple and sustainable ideas into our lifestyles to be part of the healing our wounded planet needs.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Organic and Sustainable Ideas for Healthy Living


When we think organic we usually think food yet there are many other ways in which we can introduce organic products into our daily lives.
 
Not only does using more organic product help us but it also helps support those producing organic product including our wonderful organic farmers who are farming without using harmful chemicals.

Organic farming is creating the healthier nutrient rich earth which is part of our planet's healing.


Organic soil enables diversity to return to our ecosystems and healing to begin on our damaged planet.

Healthy soil sequesters carbon and lessens agriculture's environmental damage to our planet


A study on chemicals impacting the development of cancer showed that the combination of  chemicals residues from many sources to be as dangerous as limited strong exposures.

As a breast cancer survivor my personal conclusion from this was to try and stay chemical free in as many areas of my life as possible.

Introducing organic product into our lives is a win/win situation for everyone and allows each of us to be part of the paradigm shift towards a healthier planet.

It has taken time and some thought to find organic and sustainable alternatives to use in my own home. My motive at first was to stay well after my breast cancer journey but as I walked down the path of sustainable living I met so many wonderful people with an inspired vision of how our planet could be and how that could be achieved.

Not only were my ideas on life challenged but my own home and way of living began to change in both large and small ways.

Small ways included replacing many plastic items with sustainable alternatives such as these  Organic Bamboo Cooking Utensils .  It felt good using honest and sustainable products when making my food and also limited my exposures to the endocrine changing chemicals given off by plastic options.

I began trying to incorporate sustainable and organic materials in as many aspects of my daily life as I was able.
 

What was a great surprise was that there were so many innovative and well priced options that fitted my sustainable and organic health giving criteria.


There was even an Organic Nut Milk Bag I could use to make my own delicious organic nut milks.

Life for me was changing gradually and it was an ongoing learning curve.

So many of the foods and everyday items I had been using  in my life I now saw as not helping to sustain a healthy home or planet.


My bedding was the next item under the microscope and again I was pleased to find well priced organic options for the many hours I spent getting a good nights sleep. 

This   100% Organic Cotton Pillowcases is a great example of products I hadn't known  were available and within my somewhat limited budget.


I had also just started to understand how cotton is such an intensively sprayed crop.

Ten per cent of the worlds pesticide use and an even larger percentage of insecticides are used on cotton crops worldwide.


The health of workers producing these crops is impacted especially in developing countries and of course such intensive use of chemicals impact local ecosystems including our very vulnerable bees.

When you add to that the very many chemicals used to produce finished textiles cotton is very much not a healthy or sustainable crop causing not only damage to local land and water but to the  many people involved in its production.

I have made my own pledge to use organic cotton items wherever I am able.


Organic Cotton Yoga Bolster 

                                                                                                                  What started for me as a means to regain my own health after breast cancer has lead to a much wider understanding of the need to incorporate organic and sustainable items in everyday life not just to be healthier but to create a healthier and more sustainable planet.

 




Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Overcoming and Preventing Cancer, Two Good Books

No one thinks it will be them that gets cancer and I certainly never thought it would be me.

I was young when I was first diagnosed and having breast cancer came as a real shock.

There was no family history, I ate well and I exercised, but I was a high school teacher and my doctors at the time felt the stress of my work was a factor.

But who doesn't face stress at some time in their life. I did leave teaching and lived as a professional artist for some years before a second breast cancer occurred.  This time I knew the drill but felt frustrated.

At the hospital I discovered the first of the books that started me thinking about what I could do to prevent this happening again. YOUR LIFE IN YOUR HANDS by PROFESSOR JANE PLANT was the first book that allowed me to face my cancer  journey in a different way.

As a scientist Jane Plant's book gives comprehensive information on many factors involved in both getting and overcoming breast cancer. She shares her own cancer journey and her break through healing moment which involved stopping using milk in her diet.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN WESTERN AND TRADITIONAL ORIENTAL LIFESTYLES

With only five to ten percent of cancers being related to inherited genes she looks at the difference in cancer figures between people living a Western Life Style and the Traditional Oriental Lifestyle. As Westernization happens to Oriental Cultures she observes the rate of breast cancer rises. This she concludes is due to the absence of dairy products in the Traditional Oriental Diets.

ENDOCRINE CHANGING CHEMICALS

The book also gives comprehensive information on the increases in endocrine changing chemicals since World War Two and how they are impacting both our diets and lifestyles.

ORGANIC WHERE POSSIBLE

She recommends eating organic where possible.

She further recommend increasing whole foods and vegetables in the diet as protective factors.

Discussion is also given on her frustration as to how few doctors help patients understand these issues when they are diagnosed.

DIET OR STRESS

Another point she made that hit home with me was that although many Chinese women lead very stressful lives their traditional diet appears protective. She concludes the theory of the cancer prone personality that creates so much guilt in many cancer patients is disproved by this difference between  cancer rates in Western and Traditional Oriental Cultures.

In my boutique apartment I began to instigate Jane Plant's ideas into my life as much as I was able, with the exception of soy products. My doctor at the time told me how quickly estrogen levels rise with eating soy and recommended I leave soy out of my diet. I gave up milk products and went diligently to the organic markets each week.

My apartment was on the ground floor in a block of six in an affluent area. Its maintenance was the product of a continual onslaught of chemicals.The lady in the apartment adjacent to mine developed a large ovarian cyst and the man above her prostrate cancer.

 I also developed a large ovarian cyst which was removed along with my ovaries. The man in the adjacent department then died of cancer and the lady in the apartment above me developed breast cancer. Yes mine came back too, a lucky pickup they called it at my regular checkup.

All I wanted to do was to move out of that building. My apartment took ages to sell and meanwhile I discovered DAVID SERVAN_SCHREIBER'S  book ANTICANCER: A NEW WAY OF LIFE.

YOUR LIFE IN YOUR HANDS by JANE PLANT is a book with strong conclusions but ANTI CANCER A NEW WAY OF LIFE by DAVID SERVAN SCHREIBER although it also emphasizes the need for organic food, the weaknesses of the Western Diet  and the elimination of endocrine disrupting chemicals is very real about the complexity of these issues and the human psyche.

It was just the book I personally needed to read at this time as I grappled with the reality of a third cancer treatment.

David Servan Schreiber writes as both a physician and a neuroscientist who is confronting his own brain cancer as he discusses an inner and outer search for balance. Who doesn't strive for this one.

INCREASE CANCER FIGHTING FOODS

One of the things I really love about his writings is the diversity of the studies he called on to illustrate his points, for example a study that shows the body is more protected against carcinogens by increasing the number of known cancer fighting food substances.


STAY EMPOWERED

His interior study showing how a feeling of empowerment strengthens the immune system was another study which impacted me.

Both YOUR LIFE IN YOUR HANDS and ANTICANCER: A NEW WAY OF LIFE are books that enabled me to find ways to feel more empowered as I was undergoing the experience of concurrent or reoccurring breast cancer.

Eventually I moved from that apartment and began living in the new sustainable way shown in this blog.

An adjunct to this post. The man who brought my apartment developed and died of cancer shortly after moving there.

No studies have or will be done on that piece of prime real estate but my own feelings on the use of glyphosate and other endocrine disrupting chemicals developed from this experience and now I am writing about these issues on this blog.

I thoroughly recommend both of these book.. Both show new ways to approach life which enhance both our world and our ability to prevent or overcome cancer. Although my own journey did not take a straight path reading these books when they presented in my life empowered my ability to recover and reclaim the full joy of health.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Simple Ideas for a Healthier Home

WHAT IS A HEALTHY HOME


A healthy home is one which nurtures the health of those within. It is not defined by size, position or style but by aspects which enable its residents to remain healthy and well.

There are simple ideas we can all add to our homes that will make them more life giving and nurturing

These ideas are not costly but they do add to  the riches of good health in your special place.


CREATING HEALTHY INDOOR AIR

The accumulated impact of items within the home can make indoor air quality ten times more toxic than that outdoors.

How many times did your parents tell you to go outside and get some fresh air. But nowadays that is not always possible.

A simple idea to keep your indoor air healthier is the use of plants. Having a variety of indoor plants is a great way to remove common air pollutants.

Much contemporary architecture uses this concept in amazing and exciting ways but in the everyday home the simple placement of plants clears the air of  contaminants from items such as computers, televisions and all the other inevitable  paraphernalia of contemporary life.

My home finds plants all over the place even on the floor and in the bathroom.

To illustrate the paraphernalia of contemporary life let me tell you about the new vacuum cleaner I recently brought at a discount outlet. The first time I used it I felt quite ill from the off gassing  chemicals it released.

 I took it apart and left it under the house to air. But it took some time to get that new item smell out of my living area. I had no idea a simple item like that could give off so many toxic fumes. Still not sure if I will ever use it.  Keep thinking I should put it back together but it is still sitting there where the breezes blow through and I am still not ready to try it again.


RECYCLED ITEMS

Which brings me to another simple idea, buy recycled. Not only is it good for the planet but it enables you to avoid all the toxic off gassing from the multitude of contemporary components in new items.

Jane Plant in her book Your Life in Your Hands Understanding, Preventing and Overcoming Breast Cancer speaks about her relationship with cars and the many chemicals present inside  a new car. In short she avoids cars, but not many of us are able to live with that option.

Household items are of course not cars but the same concepts apply and although I will suggest further methods to keep your interior air fresh and free of endocrine disrupting chemicals why does our society value new and shiny over tested and true.

If an item still works I stick with it not just because I can't afford something new but because I work hard to keep endocrine disrupting chemicals out of my home and new items such as the vacuum cleaner mentioned above do take time before they stop off gassing and impacting the quality of life of those in the home.


USING NATURAL MATERIALS

The more natural the materials are in your home the less VOC's or Volatile Organic Compounds fill the air.

I recently had to paint my ceiling and was lucky enough to find a wonderful paint made of  chalk, titan dioxide, talcum, bees wax-soap and soya oil . Having sat for so long wondering how I was going to paint this ceiling which was desperately needing some love and care it was just wonderful to find such a healthy paint.

Healthy options are out there and all it requires is a quick google to discover these alternatives to VOC laden options.  The paint I used was easy to apply, it fact if you can call painting a ceiling such `it was a joy to use' and no more expensive than conventional paint. The same company also had a great range of eco friendly natural products including cleaning items.

So a quick google search for eco friendly options can lead to alternatives that add healing to your home instead of Volatile Organic Compounds which can impact the health of those living within your walls.

I also did a quick google when I needed a wood finish for my floor and knew I just couldn't live with the lengthy off gassing of  polyurethane.

Again I found a wonderful water based wood finish which had no fumes and gave a very special finish. Everyone who came to my home commented how much they liked my floor and yes these comments were unsolicited. The floor just looked so rich, natural and to my mind beautiful.


FURTHER SIMPLE WAYS FOR CLEAN INDOOR AIR

 There are other simple ways we can keep the inside of our homes healthy.

A wise old man told me this one and it is so simple, just make sure you open your windows and let new air come in each day. Spring and pollen and other outdoor irritants may make this an unattractive option to some but my trick with this is to open the windows first thing each morning before the flowers open and the winds are up.

Fans are a further great way to get the new air circulating in your home. I couldn't live without my fans in winter or summer.

One room had a tendency to mold but keeping the air moving has put an end to that along with a light wipe with white vinegar and water.

My other very favorite is louver windows. I had these installed at the front of my house when I moved in and they enable such a great flow of air from outside.  My little house was a heat bomb before they were added and they are so great because they can be so easily left open when you go out.


IN CONCLUSION

The simple ideas mentioned here are just touching on the many ways we can create healthy homes. I do hope they have started you thinking about the ways you can be impacted by the chemicals present in your home and how you can find healthier solutions to your everyday choices.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Roundup, Glyphosate, Cancer and You



Jurors have just given a  $289 million settlement to a man they say got cancer from Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller, and many more cases are to come.

But how you are asking does that affect me?

Well it does affect you, it affects us all and yes you can do something about it.

First some further information on glyphosate. The man in the $289 settlement Dewayne Johnson had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma which could be directly linked to glyphosate but glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor which disrupts our hormonal systems and creates many health issues  including testosterone processing, early menopause, cholesterol, obesity, onset of puberty, immune function, bone health and cardiac function and mental states.

 If you would like to understand more on the role of Roundup, and/or glyphosate and endocrine disruptors I would like to recommend the independent scientific studies of gmoseralini.org/en

The specific role of Endocrine Disruptors was something I felt was involved in my developing three separate breast cancer. Where I lived every public place and most designer gardens were obsessively sprayed with Roundup.



BUT WHAT CAN YOU DO???


1. STOP USING GLYPHOSATE

The first and most obvious thing is stop thinking you need Roundup or one of the other glyphosate infiltrated weedkillers to make your garden weed free.

Do not respond to the marketing hype. You don't need these weedkillers.

If you do need to spray something white vinegar or one of the many other natural homemade recipes on Google will do the job just as well.

Anything you use at your home adds to the glyphosate in our ground water and in the air we breath. With glyphosate now found in the urine of 93% of Americans tested the first step to stop this cancer causing build up in our bodies is to stop our personal use of products that include glyphosate.


2. EAT ORGANIC

Every time you buy organic you are supporting a farmer who is does not use glyphosate based products in the production of their crops. Sometimes this makes their food more expensive but there are always farmer's markets where you can buy directly from the farmer. 


Once you have eaten organic food other food will taste weak. There is nothing more special than the taste of a freshly picked organic tomato. 

 My local health food shop does not add profit on their organic vegetables. It makes their fresh produce on a par with the local supermarkets and supports these farmers and their efforts to create a healthier food system.

 If it is difficult to source organic food you can always grow your own.


3. GROW YOUR OWN FOOD

Growing your own food may seem overwhelming at first but it can be done anywhere. There is an amazing collection of great articles on Google which show you how to grow food in even the smallest and darkest of apartments, and then there are community gardens. For city dwellers these are inspiring places where food growing ideas and new concepts on food are shared. I was lucky enough to have one starting nearby when I moved to my sustainable house. What a lot I have discovered about food growing at this garden.


4. SAY NO TO GMO

High levels of glyphosate can be ingested when you eat GMO food. Over eighty per cent of Genetically Modified Crops are engineered specifically so they can be sprayed with glyphosate based herbicides and these crops use amazing amounts of glyphosate. These foods are  saturated with Roundup Residues.

In America more than ninety per cent of all soybean, and corn acreage is genetically modified. Canola is another common GMO crop.

Personally I don't eat soy, or corn and definitely do not use Canola Oil, but I would suggest you check that foods are labelled GMO free before you purchase. Restaurants of course are difficult because you do not know what you are getting, although I have a selection of eat out venues where I live that do not use GMO food and I stick with these.


5. AVOID WHEAT

You don't  need to be gluten intolerant to avoid wheat. It is now a common practice for nonorganic farmers to spray their wheat with glyphosate just days before harvest to dry off the crop for processing. The use of these pesticides so close to harvesting makes their presence in your wheat products stronger. Wheat products today are not the foods that were eaten by our parents or grandparents.


6, CREATE HEALTHY SOIL

Learning about healthy soil was one of the first lessons taught at my community garden. When the soil is strong and healthy the brix index in the plants is high and they are able to withstand predators.

Building healthy soil is a sustainable solution to eradicating weed killers such as Roundup. With strong food grown in healthy soils you do not need to use the quick fix spray and strong food builds strong bodies.


7. BE PROACTIVE

The more individuals stand up against the use of unnecessary and life threatening chemicals such as glyphosate the sooner they will be eliminated.

Petition your local school or council against the use of glyphosate.  We now know it is not safe in our environment.  

No one wants someone to have to fight a tough court battle while they are dying but what a courageous man to fight for a ruling that will alleviate the suffering of so many.

As I said before where I live the council is contracted to spray all public spaces with Roundup. Someone is making money from the suffering of others. Young men are still out there spraying without protection, people are still wondering why they are suffering from cancer.

This special court ruling is raising voices against this situation. I hope it will end soon.


8.  BECOME FURTHER INFORMED

I hope the concepts mentioned here are starting points for you gaining further knowledge on how to eliminate glyphosate from your life and the lives of those around you.

 This product  has already caused pain and suffering for too many people around the world. It is now time to look at new ways to farm living, healthy food.