Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Climate Crisis Happening Inside Our Bodies

The devastation of recent storms and global warming have finally resonated with many Americans that the planet is in bad shape.  Our over-consumption and lack of concern for pollutants and chemicals in the environment are starting to set off some red flags for large sectors of our population.

But an equally dangerous climate change of sorts is happening within our own bodies.  The chemicals in our environment from not only our air and water, but from our food, our cleaning products, our personal care items, our furniture, our homes, and everything around us, is polluting our bodies with dire consequences for the future.  From GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in our food to plastics and toxins in our homes, we are creating an internal environment that endangers not only us, but future generations.

A recent study published by Brown University researchers found that "more than half of women of childbearing age had median or higher levels of at least two of three pollutants that could harm [fetal] brain development."  Known pollutants such as mercury, lead, and PCBs are finding their way into our blood streams through our food and our households.  For women of childbearing years, the accumulation of toxins grows with age and the exposure for our children in the womb is on the rise.  "We carry a history of our environmental exposures throughout our lives," warns the study's lead author Dr. Marcella Thompson.

But at what critical point do we start to heed these warnings?  Hurricane Sandy wrought mass destruction here on the East Coast and opened many eyes to the overwhelming power of nature and the dangers of global warming.  We should already be noting, with alarm, the growing rates of autism, allergies, learning disorders, and chronic health issues among our children.  The statistics are alarming, but we continue to muddle through.  Those on the front lines, many of us moms, are the ones who are starting to stand up and fight to protect our children and to heal our future.  I continue to believe that it is moms who will make the real difference in our toxic world, I can only hope that our actions will hold the urgency that they truly require.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Stress Hangover?

You feel tired, achy, and burned out.  Your head pounds.  It feels like you had a few too many drinks.  But that's not it.  Perhaps you had a few too many night wakings with the kids.  Financial or personal stress.  Health struggles.  Or even a natural disaster.

This week, I have a stress hangover.  And, as a parent, I bet you know exactly what I'm talking about.  It's easy to get overwhelmed with stress when you have kids to juggle, a lack of sleep, and very little balance in your life.  Add to that a few other challenges and BAM! it hits you.

October was a busy month for Holistic Moms, with our Natural Living Conference, Holistic Living Month, HMNRaising Auction and so much more.  On the heels of all of the busy-ness, Frankenstorm Sandy decided to pay us a visit.  The storm tore down trees and power lines, took lives and homes, and devastated the Northeast.  We had no power, heat, internet, or phone for nine days and a fire in our home in the middle of it all.  But we got off easy.  Still, waiting on hours-long gas lines, searching supermarkets for food, and generally trying to stay warm maxed us all out.  And then the blizzard hit, dropping more than six inches of snow on top of it all.  And then the kids got sick with hacking coughs and colds.  And then, for a little added bonus, one of our dogs had a Lyme disease relapse, complete with paralysis and tremors.  Let's not even talk about work and our offices being closed for more than a week, please.

You know when people say that stress is bad for you?  They're not kidding!  I don't even need a night of partying and drinking to feel this bad.  So how to we find our way through when the stress starts to pile higher than we had ever imagined?  For me, it starts with being present.  Present in the moment that is.  I have spent many nights of late lying in bed awake, my mind racing with the stress of all that has happened and how to make it through.  But bringing my mind to the present, to the moment, and to all that we have to be grateful for here and now immediately creates a sense of calm.  Being present and in gratitude helps me to breathe and be still.  And that is the first step in restoring balance amid the chaos.

Stressful times call for nurturing.  Your desire to curl up in bed, drink a hot cup of tea, or create a quiet space, are natural instincts for coping.  Honor them.  Find a way to rest and sleep.  Nurture your body through with warming, healing foods.  Drink tea and soup, as they are easy on your digestive system.  Find solace in (healthy) comfort food without guilt.  Boost your immune system, as stress takes its toll.  Take time to give your body the support it needs.  A few of my personal favorites include probiotics, fish oils, and Vitamin D.  Seek out healing therapies such as chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage.  And find quiet moments.  Try to create still in your family to regain balance.  Curl up with your kids and connect.  When we ground ourselves and our families, we can pull through the challenges.

Don't dismiss those feelings of overwhelm or your own stress hangover.  Embrace the sign to slow down and  nurture yourself.  The holiday season is almost upon us.  If you stay present and nurture yourself, you might avoid the stress hangover altogether.  As for your standard hangovers, try bananas and lots of fluids.

Have a stress hangover cure?  Please share!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sandy's Silver Living

Here in New Jersey Hurricane Sandy has been shockingly devastating.  Despite the harsh warnings of an impending "Frankenstorm", it's safe to say that few of us were really prepared for this.  From Manhattan to the Jersey Shore, neighborhoods have been torn apart.  Decimated.  Leveled.

Even miles from the shore, fallen trees and downed power lines have left millions of area residents without heat or electricity.  Gas is in short supply.  Looting is rampant.  Price gouging imminent.  It's hard to know who is safe, which way is up, where you can get help.

But Sandy has brought everyone out of their homes.  With no power and no internet, with roads unsafe to drive and gas in short supply, our neighbors are out and about.  They are walking down the street, viewing the damage and stopping by to say hello.  Neighbors are chatting and sharing their stories.  Towns are gathering together in warming and charging stations in local libraries and fire stations.  People are lending a hand to help a neighbor, volunteering to boost relief and recovery efforts, and reaching out in ways that seemed all but lost.  We share food and warmth, conversation and connection.

Sandy has helped us to rediscover community.

Whether standing on a coffee line one hundred people deep or charging our cell phones at a local station, people are connecting face-to-face.  We are being reminded that there is great power in our in real life community.  When social media goes down, our attention turns to the true source of community - real life.  We share together in our struggles and ask for help from one another.  And we realize that there is still power right on our streets.  Not electric power.  Not online networks.  But the power of people to do good, to help out, and to make us feel connected amid the chaos.  Power to move branches, put out fires, bring a hot meal, or hold a warm hand.

It's not the photos of the damage that move us, it is the images of humanity coming together.  It's seeing the rescue workers bringing people to safety.  It's watching the volunteers bring food and warmth to people in need.  It's what we do in communities across America.  And it can't be replaced by a Facebook post or a Tweet.