Author Archives: a wilder grace

Hope is the Battlefield.

hope

Where Hope is the battlefield,
and wielding the companion swords
of Love and Kindness,
may we remember who we really are:
warriors of love, advancing with honor and integrity
toward understanding, peace
and unity.

A few years ago, I had a visitor where I worked at that time. He was a former coworker of mine from years before, and I liked him and had liked working with him. On this visit, though, I saw a side of him I had never seen before. He was complaining about the world—about young people and their habits, in particular. The longer he spoke, the deeper he seemed to sink into his own rut of despair, hopelessness—and even disgust.

As he spoke, a part of my mind recognized that the rant he was on sounded like every other rant I’d heard in my life that came from an older person looking at the changes in the world around them, angry at how the younger generation was “ruining” the world. Throughout my life (even when I was one of those young people with “radical” ideas) I had heard those type of speeches, and it had come to seem to me that what I was really hearing was:  The world is changing too quickly for my likes, and I’m afraid of the changes happening around me. I don’t understand why we can’t leave well enough alone, and I don’t know how to navigate these changes. Further, I don’t want to.

This is a reoccurring theme throughout history, usually coming from those who are supposedly older and wiser, talking about some “corruption” or other—be they youthful ideas and conduct, or some new-fangled book, movie, game, trend, etc. There seems to always be something “corrupting” us, and these things can take our hope and propel us into fear, worry, disgust, and negativity if we let them.

  1. In the 1790 book Memoirs of the Bloomsgrove Family, Reverend Enos Hitchcock wrote,

The free access which many young people have to romances, novels, and plays has poisoned the mind and corrupted the morals of many a promising youth; and prevented others from improving their minds in useful knowledge. Parents take care to feed their children with wholesome diet; and yet how unconcerned about the provision for the mind, whether they are furnished with salutary food, or with trash, chaff, or poison?

  1. Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and the 1894 essay “The Philosophy of Umbrellas,” could tell a lot about a person based on what they held over their heads when it was raining:

A mendacious (which means, if you’re like me and don’t know the definition of that word, “lying”) umbrella is a sign of great moral degradation. Hypocrisy naturally shelters itself below a silk; while the fast youth goes to visit his religious friends armed with the decent and reputable gingham. May it not be said of the bearers of these inappropriate umbrellas that they go about the streets “with a lie in their right hand”?

And my favorite:

  1. In its July 1859 issue, Scientific American rallied against a wicked game that made both the mind and body weaker—chess:

A pernicious excitement to learn and play chess has spread all over the country, and numerous clubs for practicing this game have been formed in cities and villages…chess is a mere amusement of a very inferior character, which robs the mind of valuable time that might be devoted to nobler acquirements, while it affords no benefit whatever to the body. Chess has acquired a high reputation as being a means to discipline the mind, but persons engaged in sedentary occupations should never practice this cheerless game; they require out-door exercises–not this sort of mental gladiatorship.

The current “younger generation,” no matter what it is up to, is not the problem. The fast-pasted world spinning perpetually all around us, social media, the internet—these are not the problem. The powers that be and what they advocate and instigate and propagate and mandate and itinerate are not the problem. These things have always been, and will likely always be, present. Just take a look at history.

The more I look at hope vs. hopelessness, I can see where I have always believed that outside circumstances weigh the heaviest to tip the balance in the decision on whether to be hopeful or not. Think of the classic line: “The situation seemed hopeless.” But what if hope has nothing to do with the situation, with outside circumstances?

Even out of something so horrific as the Holocaust, come stories from survivors of how love and kindness and humor among the prisoners (and sometimes even from the guards) fostered hope, and how that hope helped them preserve basic human dignity, gave them a reason to keep going, gave them a reason to believe that people really are basically good, even as there was so much horror around them.

So, what did I say to my former co-worker when he visited me that day? I waited patiently while he ranted.

Then… I smiled at him. And as gently as I could I said, “I must respectfully disagree with you. I have such high hopes and trust in the younger generations. I see my beautiful, funny, intelligent daughter in all of them. And I trust her. So, therefore, I trust them. I think they, living in such a global atmosphere, are gonna be the ones to finally unite and heal the world. I have complete faith and trust in them. What I see of them, gives me hope for a much better future on this planet.”

So it is almost the first Sunday of Advent (of which I am not a fan, by the way, as Advent, in the admittedly limited research I’ve done on it, seems to be all about fasting and penitence, and getting rid of my “sins” (which I don’t even believe in) in preparation for “the coming”—either the first coming, the birth of Jesus—or the second coming, when he returns to physical form on Earth, depending on which tradition of Advent you choose to believe in and follow—and some include both). And it is the Sunday of hope. On this day of hope, I offer this thought.

What if hope—hope for myself, hope for you, for democracy, for freedom, for fairness, for the planet, for humanity, for equality, hope that we are not somehow going to pollute ourselves out of existence, hope that we might one day once again have a Broncos team that makes the playoffs—what if hope comes from within and is not influenced by, or subject to, all the “corruptions” and situations outside of me?

What if hope comes from trusting in the goodness in everyone—especially the younger generation, trusting that they, like we were, are smarter and better and healthier than the ones that came before? What if I trust so strongly in the goodness and trustworthiness inside myself, and inside of those around me, that I know FOR SURE that everything will, somehow, be okay, that goodness will prevail? That I really will, not only survive, but that I will thrive, WE will thrive—as individual persons, as a city, as a country, as a world? What if I hold the key to love and hope, as the song says, all in my trembling hand?

Choosing hope is a blind choice, isn’t it? Choosing hope takes faith. And despite all that, what if I simply choose it anyway? And if I can’t reach and find and grasp hope yet (and believe me, I’ve been to that mean roadhouse many a time—most recently the last 11 months of 2019!), what if I employ a friend’s old trick? What if I say to myself, “I’m willing to be willing to have faith”?

I am willing to be willing to have faith.

Suet Recipe and DIY Suet Holder for Winter Bird Feeding.

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We got loads of snow last night (no school, businesses closed, etc.)—and it is still snowing. Which made me realize when I got up this morning that I had yet to get some suet out for the birds. In summer, I certified my backyard as a wildlife habitat. It’s easy to do at the National Wildlife Federation‘s site, if you’re interested.

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And that means that birds and squirrels are accustomed to getting fed and watered in my habitat, making me realize that I was probably dropping the proverbial ball by not having some suet out there. So I did a quick search online and got in the kitchen to make some suet and find a way to feed it.

I came across Rebecca’s Bird Garden idea to put suet in small, shallow jars to hang outside. I had plenty of jars to use. I used two old artichoke heart jars and one shallow Mason jar. And being the farm-raised girl that I am, I had bailing wire lying around, as usual, so I fashioned the handles/hangers out of bailing wire and had almost-instant suet feeders.

The birds have already found the suet and are pretty excited about it. My habitat/backyard (and front yard—I put a couple there too) is quite active today, despite the 15+ inches of snow out there.

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I have a couple of suet feeders outside already, so I froze some of the suet in the bottom of small plastic containers to fit in those. I had some extra suet, so I froze it in containers and then popped them out with the help of a butter knife along the edges and put them in a plastic bag to keep them in the freezer to feed as needed.

suet1

I found lots of recipes and great ideas—and realized I couldn’t follow any one of them exactly with what I had on hand, but I knew I could find plenty of stuff in the pantry to make suet. Here’s the recipe I ended up using:

Suet Recipe

Coconut oil

Peanut butter

Sesame seeds I had in the fridge

Quinoa I had in the pantry (since it’s a seed)

Black sunflower seeds (I have them on hand to fill my bird feeders)

Oats

Almond flour

Cornmeal

Clover seeds (I use for sprouting)

I melted the coconut oil (about 1/2 cup) and peanut butter (about 2 T.) together on low heat, and then took it off the burner and added everything else, stirring it after each addition until it was thick but still pour-able.

I poured a small amount into the bottoms of several plastic containers and packed it down with a rubber spatula. I filled the jars and packed them down too.

I put all the containers in the freezer and let them freeze (only about an hour). Then I took some outside to the suet feeders and hung the jars from some branches. It is not supposed to get above 25 degrees today, so they will all stay frozen out there.

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Birds use a lot of energy just to stay warm in the winter, so the fat in suet is much needed for their survival. Feel free to use any natural oil in your suet that gets solid:  unsalted butter, peanut butter, lard, coconut oil. Also feel free to use all kinds of seeds; cornmeal; small, or chopped, fruits (dried and fresh); etc.

Make sure to not feed dry legumes, however, as they are not the best for birds. So raid your pantry, but do your research first if you have questions about what birds can and will eat.

Get more tips for winter bird feeding at the National Wildlife Federation’s post. I hope you have fun making and feeding suet this winter to help wildlife!

 

 

 

You Are Here.

loss

How did I get here? That’s what I have been asking myself for the last few months. I am on, what I hope is, the tail-end of the year from hell.

In January my partner’s passive aggressive ex blatantly let me know that she was still after him. He and I had been together for over four years at that point. I have been putting up with her bullshit for over four years, hoping she would not only catch a clue, but that she would give up her childish, manipulative, passive aggressive games. To find out so obviously that she was still hanging on and still happy to make my life hell was not a good start to my 2019.

In March we went on a vacation that included air BnB’s with scented plug-ins that inflamed my multiple chemical sensitivities, sending my health into a downward spiral and making it a necessity to wear a mask for several months. I still carry it around with me, because it only takes a few seconds of smelling someone’s synthetic perfume—or even clothes washed in scented laundry detergent—to make my skin start burning and itching and the coughing start.

Soon after returning from our trip, it became evident that it was time for my old cat and dog to be helped into their next life. I couldn’t justify putting one of them down without the other, because they were both in pain—despite both being on pain meds—were both old, and were both peeing all over the house. I was exhausted mentally and physically, trying to take care of them, not stress them out, keep my partner soothed about animals peeing in the house all the time, and trying to take care of myself.

So, in April I called our veterinarian and discussed it with her. She agreed with my sad conclusion and said she’d come to the house so they wouldn’t have to be stressed with any travel.

It was one of the saddest days of my life. I still mourn their leaving and am crying right now as I type. I miss my weenie-boy, Mr. Stormy, and Miss Bella the crazy, one-eyed, feral, pirate cat.

In May, I received a nasty email from someone who had never had the decency or balls to confront me in person, like an adult, to tell me about all the (apparently) horrible things I’d done to her. She told me how bad a person I am/was and then proceeded to tell me what I should do to remedy my many problems. She advised that for the sake of everyone around me, I should quit my job and not inflict myself upon them anymore.

She wrote it as a nice, this-is-for-your-own-good type of letter—you know, that passive aggressive, “sweet” style that ensures that anyone besides me reading it would assume she really did have my best interest at heart. I never responded, but it sent me into a new tailspin.

Meanwhile, I was still grieving the loss of my pets, and my health was still suffering. I couldn’t seem to get back to my own “normal” on the scent issue. Every little sniff of perfume, laundry detergent (clothes folks were wearing), cologne, scented plug-in, etc. sent me back down the proverbial rabbit hole. I ended up having to wear my mask almost all the time when out in public (this is not a fun thing to do, trust me).

Another “meanwhile” came in the form of having to navigate constant big transitions at work this year—with dangerous undercurrents of mistrust and, what still feels like, hate. The stress of having people always think the worst of me has taken a huge toll on my life, happiness, and confidence.

As fallout from losing my pets, in the summer I visited an ex from years ago to get to see his cat—one of Miss Bella’s kittens from years ago. I just needed to be in the presence of something Bella had created. I missed having pets so much. The house felt so empty and weird, and I couldn’t seem to get over how empty my life felt without my fur babies.

Mr. Maui lived with my daughter and me until he was about four years old, then we asked my ex if he wanted to take him. I found out when I visited him that my ex’s early-onset dementia had progressed to such a state that he did not recognize me. A few weeks later, I found out he was being moved out of his home of 40 years to a memory care facility, and it broke my heart to think of him losing his life that way. I began grieving again—or maybe just added another loss to the pile.

Then in August, my partner of five years told me he was going through what looked and sounded like a personal existential crisis. He began examining his life, and began the exhausting work of figuring out what he needs to do with himself, his life, what his purpose is, etc., to the degree that we are not living together, so that he has the space and time to figure things out—even though he continually (in the face of my over the proverbial top, stressed-out worrying) assures me that we are still a couple.

Despite his assurances, my (normal for women) over-active amygdala continues to talk me into losing faith, and I have difficulty believing anything positive right now.

It is October now, and I ride my bike as much, as long, and as far as I can each day to keep from imploding, to keep from disappearing. When in doubt, pedal it out, right? That has worked for me for years. It is still a good practice. Last week while riding the Poudre Trail, the question surfaced again, “How did I get here?”

How did I let my life slip into this unhappy, unhealthy, unnatural state? I must have been so very oblivious and/or asleep to have let this happen on this large of a scale. I know I am responsible for my life, but it feels like, somewhere along the way, I handed the tiller over to someone who doesn’t give a fuck about all those sandbars and rocks up ahead in this stormy, choppy sea. I’ve been crashing into them for months now, limping along trying to survive each hit, each ding, each rupture. I’m taking on too water.

I am tired. I don’t sleep well—or I sleep way too much. I am raw and stressed; I cry all the time. I am fearful. I am depressed. It takes gargantuan effort to reply to normal, simple, everyday questions without shattering and flying into tiny little shards of grief, sadness, anger, oblivion, & regret:  the shrapnel of too much stress for way too long without a break and no relief in sight.

I spend my time alternating between working my ass off to stay busy and preoccupied, numbing-out by watching too much Netflix, working on my own shit when I’m able (self-hypnosis, BWRT, EFT, EMDR, I’d like to buy a vowel, Alex), trying to meditate and remember those things (where are they?!) that make me happy, not giving a shit what anyone thinks about anything I do or say, caring way too much about what everyone thinks about what I say and do, wanting to move far away and try that stupid geographical fix thing (which everyone knows does not work), breathing, sleeping as much as possible, staying home as much as possible, going out to do things I (might) love to do, (did I mention the crying thing?), obsessively watching the movie Interstellar, and talking to amazing girlfriends who are sweet and funny and make me laugh—even at myself.

How did I get here?

While pedaling, the answer came, “It doesn’t matter HOW you got here. YOU ARE HERE. How are you going to get OUT of here? That is the important question now.”

I saw myself inside my head under a big, black, not-to-proportion “You are here” arrow on a directional map.

Yes, there I am. Under that big arrow. You are here. How the fuck am I gonna get out of here? I don’t know.

Yet.

“That’s me in the corner. That’s me in the spotlight, losing my religion.”  ~REM, Out of Time

Dementia Grief.

maui

Mr. Maui

What if you woke up one day and a bunch of your friends showed up unannounced to take you out for the day to have fun, and then at the end of the day they took you to a totally different place, and told you that this is where you would be living from now on and that you could not return to your old life?

This is what just happened to a long-time friend of mine. He has early-onset dementia and has been struggling to live in the “regular” world for a while. He has steadily become more forgetful in the past few years, to the point of not even remembering me the last time I went to visit him.

I totally understand and support the move his sisters and friends carefully arranged for his benefit. And I know absolutely that he will be taken care of. I feel better about him now, knowing he is in a memory care facility that will ensure his comfort and safety.

And I wonder how much he understands and remembers about his former life. Does he realize that he is never going back to the house he has owned for over 40 years; does he remember his cat of eight years, and does he know they will likely not see each other again? His house is being cleaned to get ready for an estate sale. Then the house itself will be sold.

What does he know and not know? What does he remember and not? That is the insidious nature of dementia, isn’t it? And everyone knows, according to the standard safe practices of our day, that the best thing for those with dementia is to, at some point, make sure the dementia-sufferer is kept as safe and as happy as possible.

When I last saw him, he was quite frustrated and agitated. He was paranoid, as anyone would be, I suppose, who can’t remember people and events. I mean if you can’t remember where you put your shoes, and you have looked everywhere, then maybe you really would begin to think that someone is coming into your house to take your shoes. What other explanation would there be if you can’t remember that you can’t remember, if you are trusting yourself, but don’t remember that you can’t trust yourself anymore?

I have a deep fear of dementia, I think, because that last paragraph gives me the actual chills. And we, ourselves, at some point, would never really know if we have dementia or not, would we? We are at the mercy of those around us to tell us what is going on. And that involves great trust, doesn’t it?

Wow.

He is an introvert, and he valued living by himself, spending whole days in silence, alone. My sincere hope for him at this point is that he actually doesn’t remember too much. Because if he does, I know he is grieving mightily. If he remembers too much, then I know he is grieving the loss of his privacy, his home, his kitty, his huge workshop with all of his wood-working equipment, and his life.

Maybe it’s just me grieving for him. Maybe – hopefully – it’s just me that is trying to fill the hole in the universe that was his life. Maybe. I hope. I pray.

Meanwhile, my kitty has been returned. He went to live with my friend about 8 years ago when Maui was 5 years old. And now he is back with me. I lost my last pet in April, and now Maui is filling the house with lovely, sweet kitty energy again. I feel him missing my friend, so I cuddle him close and leave my tears in his fur. Life cycles around and around us, doesn’t it?

The trick is, can we ride that cycle with grace and humor and acceptance, or do we fight it and make ourselves and everyone around us miserable?

I don’t know what to do right now except mourn for my friend and be happy and relieved for him all at the same time. The Universe marches on, and time rushes at us like a metal measuring tape rushing back to its little shiny metal house we’re holding, rolling itself up at high speed, ready to snap off a finger if we’re not careful.

Godspeed, Stephen.

Listening to Sorrow.

dreams

Sorrow is a weird thing. It can come from so many sources—conscious and not—and blindside you with a smack to the back of the head before you can figure out what is happening.

Recently I was rereading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Near the end of the book she describes a wonderful meditation. Every time I read the book, I do some form of that meditation, because it is so informative.

She describes how she sat in silence and asked all of her sorrows to come and present themselves to her. She let them come, one by one, listening to them, feeling the sorrow as if each were happening for the first time. Sorrows came from her entire lifetime.

She listened to each and then told each one, “I hear you. I see you. Now come into my heart and rest.” And each sorrow moved into her heart. She then went through all her anger, all of her shame.

It’s a very informative, enlightening meditation. It is not an easy one to do, but I highly recommend it.

So I began with sorrow, as usual. I asked them to line up and present themselves. One by one, they came, telling me of their pain, the grief and sadness. They started in my childhood and marched forward in time. The death of my sister, my divorce, the death of pets…

One relived the grief of giving my daughter away in marriage a year ago. Because even though I love her husband as my own son, I still feel pain and sorrow at “losing” my only daughter. And then a pain came that I couldn’t readily identify. It took me a few seconds to recognize it.

It was the pain of being hated. That surprised me. I hadn’t expected to feel pain at being hated.

Brene Brown talks about how we are hardwired for connection and belonging, and how even though many of us talk about how we don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks, that is not what we are wired for. It’s important to have a few folks whose opinions we do care about.

So I sat with the sorrow of being hated, listened in surprise at the pain. There was a lot of pain.

I’ve been having to deal with a lot of hate coming my way lately. And I’ve been trying to brush it off, to sink inside myself in response to find the stillness, the peace that knows no hate. I thought it was working. Apparently, and unbeknownst to me, a part of me was grieving despite my best efforts to “rise above it all.”

I listened to Jeannie Zandi talk on Sunday about how we, as humans, often try to worm our way up or down in response to hate, a crisis, the natural “wreak” of human life. Up, to rise above the fray of humanness and become as close to god-like as we can; or down, to vilify our actions, thoughts, and emotions as “sinful” or lacking in faith in some way.

Which is exactly what I been trying my best to do:  worming my way up to hopefully not feel the sorrow of being hated. It is very interesting to me that it was not working. I also find it interesting that I was grieving on a level that my conscious mind was not aware of. The worming up was not reaching my heart of proverbial hearts; it was only my mind that believed it.

So now I breath into that sorrow, asking it to reveal itself to me. I invite it into my heart to rest. I promise it respite, and I promise it I will not try to rise above an issue that needs my attention.

I also make a promise to myself: speak up to the haters. Because even though I cannot stop the haters, I can voice my discontent. I can tell the haters to fuck off. I can be a human with a need to belong, a need to connect—a human that feels pain at being hated. I can feel the pain. Then I can turn to those who love me, knowing I am loved, knowing I belong. And also knowing I have not “sinned” or been unfaithful.

This human condition is sloppy at best. Sublime occasionally. Sucky quite often. We are not gods; we are not demons.

In response to my new promise to myself, I sent an email to a long-time hater, telling her I was tired of her disrespect and passive aggressive behavior toward me. I told her stop it immediately. I don’t know if she will stop or not. I do know that a whole world of anger lifted off of me when I clicked “send,” and I felt free.

As a Female Lead in Argentine Tango.

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Photo from one of our local milongas:  LocoTango at the Avalon in Boulder

A couple of years ago I was at a milonga, a tanda was in progress, and I was sitting at our big table alone. All my friends—and my man—were out dancing. As I watched the dancers, longing to be one of them, I looked around at all the other people sitting. All but two were also follows—and there were a lot of us.

In that moment, I decided to learn to lead Argentine tango. I made that decision out of a sense of duty toward all those sitting follows and also out of a feeling of desperation and deep depression (how would I ever get the dances I wanted with so few leads?!). If I remember correctly, there was also a touch of anger in there too.

I was angry that I never seemed to get as many dances as I wanted at a milonga or practica. It was a generic, blanket anger at the whole (broken?) system. It was also a specific anger at the two leads sitting, laughing, and talking together. What’s wrong with them, I thought, that they can’t lead one of the many follows sitting watching. It was an anger at Argentine tango, in general. How dare it be so wonderful that I was completely addicted to it?

I felt a type of solidarity with the other women sitting and watching. These were probably mostly single women who had come to the milonga alone.

I thought about when I used to be single and how I would look forward to a dance. Sometimes the preparation involved many days—or even weeks—of planning and anticipation. I might buy a new dress for a dance, maybe new dance shoes; I might even be making my dress by hand. I’d think about how fun the dance would be. I’d take my time getting ready and then drive (sometimes more than 1.5 hours) to the dance.

Then I remembered the depression of being at dances without getting asked to dance. To have spent all that time and energy, hoping for a great night, and to have it end by finally deciding I’d had enough disappointment and leaving early. The long drive home was seldom pleasant.

It went a lot like this:  What is wrong with me that no one wants to dance with me? Am I too old, too much a beginner, too forward/bossy, too shy, too ugly, too fat, too skinny, not a good enough dancer, not dressed right, etc., etc.? The questions with no answers never stopped. I always speculated all the way home, depressed and sad, feeling like I had wasted my time and money—time driving, time getting ready, time at the milonga.

The next spring, I began taking all my tango lessons as a lead. Argentine tango is not a dance you can pick up in a couple of lessons. When I began taking lead lessons, I was already 5 – 6 years an Argentine tango follow. And does one ever feel competent in tango? I sure don’t—as a lead or follow.

But I was determined and kept at it. I have been leading tango for over a year now. I have had some wonderful dances, some not so great dances, and lots of so-so dances. And I will continue to lead. I will continue to take lessons as a lead. I enjoy following, and I really enjoy leading.

Last week I remembered the beginning of this tango lead journey. I remembered it because a special tanda was in progress. The DJ was out on the floor walking around, playing acoustic guitar. It was a beautiful tanda with beautiful music. My man, away from our table and on his way back, had been approached by a single woman who asked him to dance, and he was out dancing too. Once again, I was alone at my table, longing to dance.

I looked around. For once, there seemed to be more men than women sitting. I was sitting with only one more woman. She was across the floor, sitting alone at her own table too. I looked at the 6 – 7 men sitting, wondering why they didn’t step up and ask us to dance. I remembered that milonga almost two years ago when this same sort of thing had happened.

I looked at the women sitting across from me. I didn’t know her and had never danced with her. But I recognized her. I knew her. We were sisters in this. Instead of trying to cabeceo her (that might not work, since women lead less often than men in Argentine tango, and she didn’t know me), I got up, took the long walk, and asked her, “May I lead you?” I saw and felt the relief and anticipation coming off of her when she nodded yes and stood up.

I have come full circle, I thought. And I was happy. I have plenty of lessons ahead of me—in both leading and following. But I had accomplished the goal I set for myself over two years ago, and it felt wonderful and right to be able to give us both an adequate—and even fun—dance.

 

Your Scented Plug-in & Laundry Detergent Contain Cancer-Causing Ingredients.

chemicals

We are traveling, and I am sick. I’m sick because everywhere we stay, they use Glade Plug-ins and other myriad products that contain synthetic/petrochemical fragrance.

We are staying in Air BnB’s. I have a constant headache, dizziness, burning eyes, skin, and throat. I also have a difficult time thinking and talking – my brain does not function correctly when poisoned by this shit. And after being exposed to this crap for a while, it starts to produce anxiety – and anger – in me.

I did not have this problem when we traveled to Panama last year. In Panama, we stayed in Air BnB’s also and a couple of hotel rooms.

I use mostly unscented – or naturally scented – products at home, because I am allergic to synthetic solvents and chemicals. I have been diagnosed as “chemically sensitive.” And I try and keep products to a minimum.

It is my goal to have one or two products throughout the house that do everything – from washing dishes to cleaning the toilets. Mostly I use Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds – usually diluted. It contains spruce essential oil, so is not completely scent free, but it is mild and all-natural.

I have not used body soap for years. And I do not stink. I smell like a human. I would bet that you have no fucking idea what a human really smells like, do you? And you don’t know, because all your life you have been using synthetically-fragranced products in every part of your life.

Why is America obsessed with adding synthetic fragrance to absolutely everything? Are we so afraid of what we, as humans, actually smell like? There is the constant brainwashing – via commercials – that everything in our world must smell “fresh” – whatever the fuck that means. And that “freshness” can only, apparently, be achieved via synthetic means – petrochemically.

Think about all the scented products you use. Here are just the few I can think of right now:  bath soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, bath salts, bath oils, bubble bath, bath bombs, lotions – for body and face (and then there are the “specialty” lotions and creams for just your elbows, or only for under the eyes, etc.), cosmetics (base, powder, eye shadow, eye pencils, mascara, eye liner, lipstick, lip gloss, etc.), perfume, cologne, deodorant (ironic), antiperspirant (which contains aluminum, along with the petrochemicals), body powder, foot powder, foot spray, vaginal products (spray, douche, powder), hair spray, hair gel, hair mousse, hair oil, hair pomade, body sprays, aftershave lotion, shave cream, shave lotions (for before, during, and after shaving).

These all have added fake/synthetic scents – and they usually all have difference scents.

Meaning, all of your different product scents are competing with each other and creating a petrochemical cloud on and around you everywhere you go. Because of you, I sometimes can’t eat at restaurants, can’t sit through concerts, etc.

Now think about all the household products that have scent added or are toxic in and of themselves, because of the ingredients they contain. There are hundreds of cleaners – for the sink, the toilet bowl, the bathtub, for floors, for the kitchen only, for the deck and driveway, the car, etc., laundry products (detergent, softeners, dryer sheets, etc.), dish soap, dishwasher soap, dishwasher additives for spot-free dishes, etc. There are all the pesticides made specifically for home use. One for ants, another for roaches, another for wasps and hornets. Let’s not leave out mice and rats and termites.

How many products do we actually need that say they clean, disinfect, and “freshen” the toilet bowl, your house, your body?

Then there are the plug-ins, the sprays, the diffusers, the scented candles, the “deodorizers” that have nothing to do with actually deodorizing. Let’s be clear here:  They do not get rid of odors. They cover up odors. They numb your olfactory system so completely that you become unable to smell anything – including the synthetic fragrances themselves, which makes us use even more of them.

Toxic. Poison. Synthetic.

You are killing brain cells, people. You are killing your children’s brain cells too.

And if you want to kill your own brain cells, that’s up to you. But you are also killing everyone else’s when you go out in public. “The problem with fragrance products is not the scent but the properties of synthetic chemicals that they are derived from such as petroleum or coal tar.”

The American Society of Business and Behavioral Sciences released a PDF document called FRAGRANCE IN THE WORKPLACE IS THE NEW SECOND-HAND SMOKE which says, “A recent analysis of 6 top selling laundry products and air fresheners found ‘nearly 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were emitted from the products and five of the six products emitted one or more carcinogenic hazardous air pollutants which the Environmental Protection Agency considers to have no safe exposure level’ (Steineman, 2008).”

In my opinion, it is amazing that we are not all chemically sensitive. We have overloaded our neurons so completely with synthetic shit (of all varieties), it’s a wonder we can still function at all.

I’m tired of being sick so everyone else can have sheets, towels, clothes, skin, hair, breath, carpet, cars, homes, businesses, armpits, and lives that smell like a fake “spring meadow.” WTF, people? Are you that fucking afraid to smell reality?!

Why is America (is it everywhere else too?) obsessed with this shit?!

I can’t go outside my home without being bombarded by your stinky, chemical, synthetic, solvent, brain-killing, cancer-producing, skin-burning, throat-closing bullshit assaulting me. Do you really need to wear all that perfume? Do you really need eye-wateringly strong clothes detergent? What the hell are you afraid of?

Please have a look at the National Toxic Encephalopathy Foundation’s website and educate yourself on the health damaging effects of synthetic fragrances.

Also take a look at Women’s Voices for the Earth to find out, besides stopping using poisons on your body, your children, and in your home, what you can do to help stop this synthetic petrochemical assault.

You are wearing so much perfume and products that when you walk in, I have to leave to be able to breathe, to be able to function.

And all Air BnB owners, for God’s sake, STOP with the fucking Plug-ins! At one place we stayed, that was not over 600 square feet, their were two of them, for cripe’s sake.

Owners, you are just inviting a law suit, too, with that shit, by the way. That same PDF notes: “There have been many lawsuits pertaining to MCS and synthetic fragrance sensitivity filed using the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act.”

And if you absolutely must have fragrance in your life, have you ever thought about the fact that there are actually natural fragrances and methods that you could be using? Used responsibly, they will not kill brain cells or make you and your children sick.