Since childhood I have been aware of the relationship between ecological health and that of the organisms that live within the biosphere. Until about age seven, all I had really internalized were the relationships between stress and performance. I knew how much happier and healthier I felt in a safe and supported environment as compared with the harsh world that swirled around me, assaulted by bullies and indifferent strangers. When I moved to Marinette, then Green Bay, I began to see man-made chemicals and their use and abuse as a significant force degrading both natural systems and the health of people. That started me thinking along the lines of ecology and human health as one issue, not two separate ideas.
Within a few months of getting to Green Bay, I started having extreme reactions to the massive dumping of a variety of chemical compounds that have since been somewhat reduced, but we still have not turned the corner on the path to cleaning up this neck of the woods. In this part of Northeast Wisconsin, we have by no means started down the path to sustainability. We are trying to undo some of the most heinous abuse though a massive dredging operation and the fish have come back to spawn, but health advisories on most sport fishing species remain as a legacy to the use of our waterways as sewers for highly toxic chemicals for several generations.
I was taken aback when, as a child, my doctors told me that they knew exactly what was wrong with me. They called it “Green Bay Throat”. Back then, I seemed to be the only one who questioned why my family and I had to pay health care costs and for medication to regain some semblance of health while huge corporate interests received the “free” disposal of chemicals in the river that runs through the heart of our town. Several doctors confirmed my diagnosis but each one in turn told us that outside the office they would have to deny any such knowledge of the “condition”.
This duplicity amongst those I trusted as a child with my health made me aware of the greater questions that surround our environmental ethics. how can we at once create conditions hostile to life, yet hold that our values affirm and honor life? this led me to start studying nutrition, herbs, natural remedies and areas that predominantly lie outside the expertise of doctors, medicine and the “health care ” establishment. My children were born at home, I do everything in my power to stay away from doctors and feel the healthier for it. Though the environment that I live within is still under constant treat, I have learned many ways to reduce my exposure and heal the damage done by many of the most challenging parts of the onslaught.
My path to health has been founded on a deeper understanding of what grows here and why, respecting what the landscape offers in the way of healing herbs and the interaction with the cycles and rhythms of the seasons that nourish and heal my body, mind, emotions and spirit. Frequent and repeated exposure to the damaging elements that are part of “modern life” are doing damage, no doubt, but by being aware of many of the things that I used to assume were safe without thinking about them, I can avoid the worst exposures and let my body remain able to cope with the unavoidable ones. To this end, I would like to share several things that led me into the healing process.
Environmental Working Group has information online about toxic exposures in toiletries. The medicine cabinet often contains some of the most intimately used chemicals that we deal with on a daily basis. There are also plenty of non-toxic alternatives to toxins that typically reside under the sink. Household hazardous waste is right under our noses and healthy substitutes can be found for every one. Things that come to mind immediately are hydrogen peroxide or enzymatic cleaners instead of bleach, baking soda instead of chlorine containing scouring powder, plungers instead of drain cleaners, etc. I was trained as an artist and know well the hazards inherent in creating art. Learning how to minimize or eliminate hazardous compounds in the studio has been an area that I felt particular sensitivity toward.
Whatever you can do to reduce your impact on the planet will assure a better environment for all of us. If you have specific questions about your own path to health, I offer my knowledge freely, but ask each individual to give a free will offering that approximates the value of health in your understanding of it. Although I would prefer that everyone use wild-crafted herbs, gathered with sensitivity to nature and supplement their diets with local products. I also know that my own ease of use has been facilitated over the years by a company called Nature’s Sunshine. Their herbs are of the highest quality and are stringently tested for contamination and quality. I have no vested interest in any of the products that I might tell you about, but please respect that and pay what you can for my services. Much like the ecosphere, I will give without question, your give back is what sustains me.