I'm on a journey to find health and happiness through a more holistic and green lifestyle.

I find the world to be abrasive. =) That is to say, I feel the need to armor myself, physically and emotionally, in order to face life. Don't we all? Maybe. For whatever reason, it has become a priority in my life to rid my immediate environment of irritating things. And I'm sensitive! So there is much work to be done. But. I have thought for a long time that the things I come in contact with every day, and the stuff used to clean and maintain these things, need to be gentle and non-toxic. I have had eczema my entire life. For a long time I just dealt with it, and accepted that sometimes it's bad, and sometimes it's not, and that it will fluctuate a lot. Gradually over time I have come to find that certain things, fabrics, cleansers, materials, are more irritating to my skin than others. Stress can exacerbate it. In more recent times, I have realized that every aspect of my life improves when I improve conditions for my skin. Hah! What a concept! Thus my (long time) interest in going green, and my more recent desire to live a more holistic lifestyle. (I think I've felt a desire for a long time to live in a harmonious way with myself, my surroundings, and nature, but didn't have a name for it.) Anyhow, this blog is a journal of my trials and errors, and basic crooked path to find a balanced and peaceful existence for myself and my family. Thanks for your interest! I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Family Cloth, aka Reusable Toilet Paper (yup, really)

Do you use toilet paper on a newborns butt? Why not?

Is it because newborns have especially tender tushies? Maybe. Is it because toilet paper is really rough? Maybe. Is it because newborns sit in their "output" exposing sensitive skin to harsh substances? Could be. It's probably all of the above. But the fact is, I have never met a soul who used paper on their baby's butt, from birth until potty training, and not even then in some instances.

So why do we use paper? Well, I guess the answer could seem obvious. Paper can be used once, and flushed away. It couldn't be simpler. And the idea of having to use something that then needs to be stored (ugh) and then cleaned (double ugh)? Preposterous!

Or is it?

Maybe a little pros and cons thinking is in order here.

Toilet Paper:


Single use
Relatively inexpensive
Available everywhere


Costs money
Runs out
Rough on the skin/contains harsh chemicals

Family Cloth:


No lint
Never runs out (as long as they are cleaned frequently)
Can cost nothing


Need to be stored and cleaned
Possible initial cost

This is just the stuff I've come up with off the top of my head. I'm heading to the internet to do a little research...

Toilet Paper...

This website lists the added benefits for toilet paper: Easily disposable, Avoids direct skin contact, Decoration (some folks like to get fancy with the end of the t.p.), and Luxury (colors, patterns, additives such as aloe, medications or scents)

This website states that toilet paper is made using BPA and BPS. From the website, "BPA has estrogen-like effects on the body, acting as an endocrine disruptor and interrupting our hormonal signals. It has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, liver disease, thyroid dysfunction, obesity and birth defects." This ingredient has been replaced, according to this article, with BPS, which also allegedly has estrogen-like effects. Yummy! According to this report, recycled TP (that is, TP made from recycled paper) can actually be more contaminated with this stuff, and recommends TP made from virgin pulp. Screw the environment. (Alas) 

Ok, let's see what we can find out about Family Cloth...

This blogger lists a number of benefits of using family cloth, including "It's free, Never run out, No lugging home large packages of TP, Gets you cleaner, It's green, No clogged Toilets..." and others. 

This blogger feels that she can't get as dry using cloth. She also was beyond despair when she accidentally dropped the cloth into the toilet and had to go fishing for it. (ew) 

If you're like me, any concept so different what we've become accustomed to is going to take some time to adjust to thinking about, let alone trying. I have replaced paper products with cloth in every other area of my home. Paper towels, dinner napkins, nose cloths, cleaning cloths, even products for that time of the month. (That one took a long time to even enter my head as a thought, it was so repelling. Even longer to become an idea. But once I switched I never looked back. I wondered, in fact, what took me so long.) So why not toilet paper? The fact of the matter is that I still have the drawer full of cloth diapering cloths I used on my kids, and still use them to help my child out when necessary. 

So I decided to give it a go. It so happens that I have a room full of fabric to play around with, as I happen to enjoy sewing. But it would also be easy, as others on the net have pointed out, to cut up old flannel sheets, knit t-shirts, whatever you have. Or you can go to websites like Etsy (you must register but it's free) or others and purchase them. (Etsy is all hand-made) I grabbed some knit fabric (someone online noted it as a favorite for comfort) and started cutting out 7"x7" squares. One of my kids caught me in the act and asked if she could cut them for me. Absolutely. =) She cut out a bunch (maybe 20?) and I placed them in 2 bathrooms. The children are not, at this point, terribly interested in my experiment, which is fine. 

My initial findings: I have been using the cloth squares since yesterday evening. My first thought was that yes, one does feel the damp when using the cloth as is. I was not enjoying that, so I have been double folding them since. Ok, that is better. It makes for a much smaller square, obviously, but for #1 (which is all I'm trying this with for the moment) it works ok. The cloth does not absorb as quickly as TP does. Of course TP soaks up fluid like a dry sponge. So you have to be ever so slightly more patient. No biggie. But I might experiment with different types of cloth. I'm wondering what French terry would be like. (ooh lala) The cloths are, without question, softer than TP. Now I will note here that I am not one of those who spends more to get that super soft, 5 sheets per roll TP. I buy the single layer, 1000 sheets per roll type. Not luxury TP, but it lasts longer, and like many of you, I'm on a budget. So..... I'm gonna keep it up for a bit, and see how it goes. I know me, and I know that if I get lazy and run out of them, I'll default back to TP until they become restocked. But with a big enough stock of them, in every bathroom, that should not be an issue.

So, have you experimented with Family Cloth? Would you be willing to share your thoughts? Enquiring minds! 

Update: I am here to admit that using family cloth lasted me approximately 1/2 of a day. The main issue? My cloths are not absorbent. Why I do not know. But I quickly got tired of getting wet where I wanted to be dry, and not dry enough where I needed that. So I started to cheat with TP. And quickly I wasn't bothering with the cloths. I think the next trial, and I will give it a go again, will be to try different fabrics for my cloths. But this will definitely be a gradual switch-over, if at all. For the sake of all the "good" reasons to do so, I'd like to switch over. But so far it's not love. I'll let ya know...

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Taking ME out

While driving in the car today, I had a brainstorm. A thought storm. I was thinking about life events. And my perception of them. And how some things just hurt, on and on and on. And I had an idea. A way of changing my own way of seeing things that have happened to me, around me, involved me. If I take myself out of the spotlight, it changes the focus of the event. For example, instead of saying, "I can't believe that happened to me." (Whatever the situation might be) Try saying, "I can't believe that happened." The first sentence, "I can't believe that happened to me" immediately identifies a victim. Yourself. And that, for me anyhow, results in feeling sorry for myself, wanting to nurture poor me, and to wonder, endlessly, how that could have happened. Why. The second sentence identifies an event. Yes, one that I was a part of. And yes, one that resulted in confusion and possibly hurt. But it changes the focus. Instead of immediately identifying myself as a victim, it identifies a situation, an event. It's objective, rather than subjective. And I don't know about you, but a objective situation puts me in a position of wanting to figure it out. To study it. To see what could have been different, or why it might have resulted in what it did. A much less pity-me, helpless, endlessly confusing situation. Does that make sense?

I think about being a mom, and the times when I try to comfort my child, who has been hurt or confused by something in his/her life. Such as another child at school saying something unkind, or acting in a way that seems wrong or different to my child. I find myself trying to explain to the child that while yes, the behavior is out of the norm for this reason or that, there might be a reason the other person is acting in this way. I ask my kids to keep in mind the typical behavior of that child. And to compare this behavior to what they know of their typical behavior. And to understand that something might be going on in his/her world that is causing them to feel off. To try to make objective what is so easy to make subjective. Understand that the other child's behavior probably has very little to do with them. So easy to say, right? But do we do that for ourselves? Hardly. If someone acts unkindly toward us, are we not quick to think unkind things, and to wonder how the heck they could act that way to us? To US? I do. Sometimes.

I had a friend who acted in such a way that it has baffled me for over a year. I felt victimized. I felt hurt. I felt targeted and dispensable as a friend. I have not been able to make any sense of it, and the confusion around it has not diminished. Today I decided to try thinking about it in this new way. Instead of thinking, "How could she act this way toward me?" I changed it to "How could she act this way?" I took the ME out of it. And it changes the situation. It does. It makes the behavior, the action, about her. Not about me. No, it doesn't change the fact that due to her choices our relationship changed, and there have been hurt feelings. But, it makes the focus of the situation, in my eyes, completely about her. And that makes it easier for me to swallow.

Try it with anything in your life. "Why is my child acting like such a brat to me today?" Instead, "Why is my child acting like such a brat?" That makes the behavior about the child, not the parent. Then the parent can start to think about the behaviors as a problem to be solved. Something that can be worked on and possibly fixed. It takes the victim out of it. It actually returns your power, if you think about it. Instead of thinking something like "Wow, poor me having to put up with this" it could become "I have an opportunity here to help this little person sort out what is bothering him/her." Empowering.

You find out you've been laid off from your job. Instead of thinking "How could this happen to me at a time like this?" try "The company has had layoffs." Objectified. It changed your role in the situation from victim to participant. Much different. I think.

As a parent, we learn that children fair better when they feel in control. Right? A child who is told that he/she must do A B and C might rebel against that idea, but is less likely to fight it if given the choice of doing A, B or C first. That child feels more in control of the situation, and is less likely to fight it. It is the same with adults. You have several tasks you need to get done. If you must do them in a certain order, perhaps you feels begrudged. If you can choose in what order they get done, you feel more in control and better about it. Instead of it being "I have to do all of these things" try "these things need to get done".

I dunno. I like the idea of changing my thinking around things. Maybe this comes automatically to some people. For me it does not. Not that I go around feeling sorry for myself all the time. I don't.  But I have been lately. I have a hard time understanding some situations, and I do sometimes wonder why such and such has happened to me. And I have trouble letting go of things that I don't understand. I was going to say something here along the lines of "And life has thrown a lot at me lately." Oops. That's old speak. New speak would be something like, "There have been a number of challenges lately". So I'm going to try it. I'm going to take recent life twists and turns, and I'm going to "take the ME out of it". I hope by doing so I can put ME back in. Know what I mean? Feel in control again. Feel more confident about life events and what I can do to look at them as issues to be addressed and not so much as boulders on my shoulders.