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We are all searching for ways to improve our health by making better food choices, exercising on a regular basis and finding new ways to relax. But what if there were things that could seriously affect your health that you were carrying around every day?
Although there are many more items (I haven’t even touched on cosmetics) here is my Top Five List of the items which you probably have in your purse that could be putting your health at risk.

1. Thermal cash register receipts


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I talk about this one a lot because it’s important. The shiny surface of thermal receipts contains the endocrine disruptor chemical BPA which is the same chemical found in plastic bottles. BPA affects our hormones, and can cross the placenta during pregnancy affecting the developing baby.

Solution : Decline, Opt for email, or have the checker place it in the bag, keep an envelope or extra baggie in your purse to keep all receipts separate so you only have to touch them once.

2. Plastic water bottles



We are encouraged to drink 64 ounces of fresh water a day and plastic bottles are so convenient, the small ones fit nicely in a purse and we just refill. NO! Remember our endocrine disrupting friend BPA, who loves our hormones so much he pretends to be them? BPA leaches out of plastic 55 times faster when it gets warm and the integrity of the plastic is compromised with any dents or scratches.

Replace : A reusable container, Glass is best. Too heavy? Best alternative is stainless steel, light, durable and long lasting with no leaching of chemicals. There are many to choose from, I like my Klean Kanteen, they are durable and lightweight with a great selection for all ages and activities.

3. Hand Sanitizers


We have all gone sanitizer crazy and the product that was originally meant for use by health care providers has become big business. The industry responded with thousands of purse size sanitizers which we slather on all day long, but beware.
Most contain ingredients such as alcohol, ‘fragrance’ which is a broad term covering up to 1300 chemicals, and the antibacterial Triclosan, classed as a pesticide is a very powerful endocrine disrupter even in low doses. All these are absorbed through your skin with every application!

Replace : When hands are soiled, wash and dry thoroughly, there is nothing that is as effective as good old plain soap and water.
If you just can’t live without your sanitizer, my choice is Sanitiz On-The-Go from my affiliate Go Beyond Natural , it is an alcohol free, 100% toxicfree spray, which is just as effective and totally safe for all the family.

4. Toxic Feminine Products


Believe it or not, because pads and tampons are regulated as “medical devices” and not “personal care products,” companies are not required to disclose any of the ingredients used in these products.
Unfortunately this means that tampons and pads may contain potentially harmful ingredients including pesticides, dyes and dioxin, all contaminants linked to hormone disruption, cancer, birth defects, and infertility.

Replace : Opt for products that have not been bleached with chlorine and those that are unscented or fragrance free and made from 100% organic cotton products. Alternatively, safer reusable options include silicone cups and washable pads.
Natracare has a wide range of products and uses certified organic 100% cotton and sustainably-sourced natural, plant based materials.

5. Lip Balm



Lip balm hangs in there right at the top of the list with hand sanitizers when it comes to repeated application and now with names like raspberry tea and bubblegum, they actually entice us into thinking we are having a meal! But do you know what are you actually putting on your kissers?
Petroleum derivatives, alcohol, silicone, fragrance and our old friend Parabens as preservatives that extend shelf life and can be carcinogenic. With an excellent blood supply and close proximity to our mouth it’s the perfect route for absorption of all those chemicals. Rule of thumb, if you are putting it on your lips, you are eating it.

Replace : Avoid ‘fragrance’ and color, look for toxic free, Organic and Eco cert ingredients and names you can say! Beeswax, cocoa butter, Shea butter and natural oils.



It is estimated that 75% OF WOMEN IN THE US ARE DYING THEIR HAIR.

It is said to be one of the big confidence factors affecting women.

When it comes down to vanity, people will be quite happy with a few wrinkles and accept that as part of the natural aging process but one thing they don’t want is grey hair.

Unfortunately hair coloring is one of the most difficult to produce a totally organic process. I found that even the greenest of beauty queens will make some compromise when it comes to hair color.

In fact when preparing for this interview, I did reach out to some of the biggest names in the green beauty industry for their input. They agreed that any product that states it is ‘permanent’ is not going to be free of all harmful chemicals. However, there are some products that are safer than most, here is an option.



Pest Control is something that the majority of households consider at some time or another.

Safe pest control should be at the top of everyones list!

As a lifestyle coach I am all about empowering people to remove harmful chemicals from the

home environment and pest control is one of the ways we can either expose ourselves and our

kids to a huge amount of toxins or we can use a safer alternative.

In this interview with Shawn Meyers, Shawn educates us on how we really don’t need harmful

chemicals and there is a safer way to do it.



blog, Toxic Free



When people are thinking about switching out toxic products from their homes, it’s hard to know what to do or where to start?

To start with, toxins are everywhere, so this is just intended to give an overview of the basics of what to consider and how to start checking out different products.

Decide WHY you want to remove the toxins from your home.

Maybe someone in your home is suffering from allergies,lack of energy, dizziness or breathing difficulties? Or has someone you know recently been diagnosed with cancer, are you concerned for your own health or has your child been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD and it was recommended to you to limit exposure to artificial additives and chemicals?

Whatever the reason is that you are wanting to switch out your toxic products have it clear in your mind, this is the emotional part!

WHY? Because no matter what, change is hard especially when it comes to things that we have been using for years! I don’t know why we get emotionally attached to something as simple as shampoo, even after we know it is causing us harm! For me it was learning about all the dangerous chemicals in use and the lack of regulations which I have listed in Some facts about chemicals. I was stunned and knew I had to make changes.


You WILL notice differences. There are certain things that are specific to products that have chemicals, one would be a copious amount of bubbles. When you remove the sodium laurel sulphate which is commonly used because of its foaming abilities you don’t get as much lather, that can take some getting used to and it may feel like it is not working as well, don’t worry it is working just fine.

Toxic Free cleaning products will not smell as strongly and for some reason we associate the strong chemical smells with cleanliness. It’s a myth that you have to clean your home with industrial chemicals to get it clean, there are many less toxic products that will do the same job just as well. You may find that you were using several different products for a job where now you just need one and vice versa.

You may have a transition period when you switch out personal care products, deodorant is a good example. When switching to anti-perspirant, the emphasis is not so much on blocking the sweat as it is not having the odor. You may find it can take a couple of weeks to detox from your old product because your sweat glands have been blocked. If you keep in mind that there will be some  differences once you start switching out, it may deter you from running back to the store for the old favorites.

Decide WHERE you want to start.

There are different ways you can do this and it can be quite overwhelming to think about switching out the whole household at once, firstly because it is a humongous task and secondly can prove very costly. When you think about it, the list is endless of toxic products you are exposed to on a daily basis, from the personal care products to laundry detergents, dish soap and cleaning supplies. Remembering toxins from products enter the blood stream through the lungs, the mouth and the surface of the skin.

Consider starting with any one of the following:

Laundry supplies.

Dishwashing supplies.

Personal Care products.


Cleaning supplies.

Systematically go through each supply zone until you have switched out everything.


Make a list of things you are getting low on that are currently on your shopping list and make a point to replace them with healthy products as you run out.

Personally I switched out gradually zone by zone starting with personal care products, then cosmetics, laundry, dishwashing and cleaning supplies.

It took me a little over 6 months before I was totally switched and as I replaced one section I threw out all the old supplies so I did not continue mixing them up. I could not make sense of using shampoo that was toxicfree and still using toxic toothpaste, I preferred to make a clean break of it.

However the choice is yours, what ever works for you, I would advise that as you buy a replacement product if you can, throw the toxic one out regardless if it is finished or not.

Decide WHICH products you want to switch out.

So how do you decide what to use instead? I know that there are more and more people who are resorting to making their own products. Both vinegar and baking soda do a wonderful job for cleaning and I regularly use distilled white vinegar in the rinse cycle of my laundry. For me, I personally don’t have the time or the energy to make all my own cleaning and laundry products but I totally admire those who do, more power to you!

To help you find manufactured products there are many different great websites that you can use to check different products for safety.

The one I really like is ewg.org. They have a very comprehensive, user friendly web site with consumer guides for personal care and cosmetics, cleaning supplies, water, food and sunscreen amongst other things.

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To navigate the EWG website

Start by selecting a category, for instance Healthy Cleaning Products.

You can choose to search the name of a product or select one of the top rated products from a particular category.

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If you choose to see the top rated products you can then select one of the product categories and a list will appear showing products rated A thru F, with A being the safest rating, F being the lowest rating.

You can then research each rating for the top products.

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If you choose to enter the name of a particular product, maybe one you are currently using, you can type in the name in the search bar and you will get a safety rating for that product.

EWG rates the products overall safety based upon its concern for asthma/respiratory, skin allergies and irritations, developmental and reproductive toxicity, cancer and the environment. There will also be a list of chemicals of concern for each product and the associated side effects.

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It is important to remember that labelling is not regulated, so even though you may have a product that states it is all natural and environmentally friendly, it may still rate poorly due to its chemical content. Organic does not mean chemical free and Natural means NOTHING!

Personal care products and cosmetics have their own similar guide. They are rated differently and are scored 0-10 with 0 being the safest, 10 the worst.

toxic free journey 13Remember, regulations for cosmetics and skin care are virtually non existent so be prepared to be surprised when you check your own products for safety. I was completely shocked that even some products that say they are physician approved have harmful chemicals in them.

Also for personal care products and cosmetics, there is an App called

‘Skin Deep’ that can be downloaded from the EWG website or the app store for easy access to product ratings while out shopping.



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Choosing products

This really is a case of personal preference depending upon where you like to shop and the availability of certain brands in your area.

Fortunately the availability of good products is increasing and there are more products available on line that you can have shipped to your door, I really like this option as it saves time in the grocery store.

Just be certain that you check the ratings of the products before you purchase. I look for A’s or B’s for cleaning products and 0-2 for personal care products.

Switching out products really is a process but once you begin it actually becomes simpler and you will find that you can replace many of your old products with just one. I actually have tried several different brands of products and have had great results with them all. I love the simplicity of multi purpose products that work, knowing my home is clean without chemicals, having one product that cleans the whole house means I don’t have a cupboard under the sink full of cleaning products.

Products I like? The Industry leader for toxicfree products is Linda Chae who has been formulating toxicfree products for different companies and educating the public on the dangers of toxic chemicals in products for many years. Linda is also the founder of the Toxicfree Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about toxic ingredients in products, food and other materials. The web site packed with lots of useful information that is simple to understand. http://thetoxicfreefoundation.com

toxic free journey 15I have personally used many of the Chae products from skin care to cleaning products and I have loved them all. They carry the Toxicfree seal which means they have had the most stringent testing available and are guaranteed to be safe from harmful chemicals.

I have tried other brands like Earth Friendly, BioKleen and Seventh Generation, but did find that even within one brand, individually the products rate differently so I always check on the EWG website first.

I hope this basic guide has been some help to start, it is a process! I would encourage you to be persistent, you are not only making a difference for your family but for the future generations to come.

If you are ready to dig deeper into living a toxic free lifestyle and are looking to explore ways to total wellness by finding balance and harmony in all areas of your life, then check out the packages available under the services tab or contact Penny for a private complimentary consultation by leaving your information on the contact page.

blog, TRAVEL



Part One:

Manifesting a Vision

I think my only reservation when writing this blog is the fact that my vocabulary is lacking the words to describe the beauty of our incredible journey and I only hope I can go part way to do justice to the spirituality and culture of the destination and people of Bali. When you come home from somewhere forever changed by the experience and know in your heart that it could never be recreated, I believe you have had the ultimate experience.

To back up a little I should really explain how the trip came about because Bali was never on my bucket list of things to do and I actually had no idea where it was before I was invited to join this group of strangers, the amazing women soon to be known as the Bali Rinas.

The journey began the summer of 2014 when I was at a networking event and briefly met a like-minded entrepreneur. We chatted about our respective ventures and exchanged information with the intention of meeting up again soon which as so often happens, we never did, until May 2015 when I was invited to attend a Vision board workshop that she was hosting.

Creating a vision board, for those who are not familiar, is a way of pictorializing words and images that help you to define what you would like to create in your life and how you would like it to evolve in the coming months and years. You clip photographs and words from magazines that have significance to you and arrange them on a board like a collage.

By hanging the board in a prominent place where you will look at it a couple of times a day it can help remind you of goals you may have set and things you want to achieve in your life. Pictures seem to have a lot more impact than just words and it can be a very powerful motivational tool for anyone to use, no matter what your goals are. I was at the time being encouraged to complete a vision board as a way of setting some intentions and so it was the perfect opportunity for me.

I was excited as the day of the workshop arrived but what I was not prepared for was the emotion behind actually creating the board and I found that as I started to look at photographs and choose things that attracted me I was in a lot of fear. I don’t know about you but the thought of exposing my secret ideas and dreams into images for all to see was kinda scary! How would I be judged, would people think my thoughts selfish or extravagant, all the ideas I had sometimes seemed rather grandiose, even to me.

As I started to look through magazines I secretly glanced at the women around me to see what they were putting together for their boards, when in doubt, check it out! As I heard people asking for various items for cars, travel, homes and one even wanted a hunky guy, I realized that maybe my board was going to be acceptable after all!

By the time we were ready to assemble the photographs and sayings it was really quite obvious that I was BiPolar. There was no doubt in my mind at all. I had two completely different lifestyles going on, one of serenity, peace, sanctuary and quiet beauty. The other for travel and fast cars, achievement and material possessions, there was no way that all these pictures could be put on the same board, so I did two! On one board was the quiet, serene Penny and on the other the racy, extravagant side of Penny.

When it came to describing our boards to each other, some women had really strong visions of where they were going and what their boards depicted. I unfortunately had no clue what they represented except that I knew that there was a part of me that yearned for the peace and spirituality of my quiet board and another part of me that wanted to experience the fast cars the travel and the money.

I returned home with my boards and put them in my office with the intention of looking at them at least twice a day as a reminder of my future lives! But of course I didn’t, and they were stashed on top of a cabinet forgotten.

It was several weeks later when I received an email with an invitation to join in a women’s retreat to Bali in October. Not even knowing where Bali was or who was going, I took a quick look at the information and checked the dates, unfortunately we had already committed to attend another event during that time so I really didn’t pay very much more attention.

However, the seed had been planted and about a week later I found myself surfing the internet, checking out Bali as I mentioned the trip to my husband and looked at the details more closely. I was a little surprised at his reaction which was actually quite supportive, not that my husband would ever stop me from doing something that I really wanted to do, it was more the fact that we usually vacation together and already had plans to spend that time in Carmel. This trip did not include husbands, it was definitely for women only.

As I looked at the itinerary I started to get excited at the prospect, especially when I saw pictures of the resort, Bali Floating Leaf  http://balifloatingleaf.com, the facilities looked incredible, that coupled with the opportunity for creating inner and outer sanctuary with yoga, meditation, spa treatments and a private chef cooking home grown organic meals, WOW!

It was only when I called and spoke to my best friend that the light bulb really turned on and the decision was made. As we chatted, I shared with her the details about the retreat and having to change the plans I had made with my husband.  At that point she stopped me and reminded me of my vision board, the calm quiet serene one! As I pulled it down from the top of the cabinet I realized that it was just as I had imagined, right down to the words sanctuary and find your inner peace. It appeared the decision had been made before I even knew about the trip.

I was going to Bali!


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blog, Toxic Free


We live in a chemical world and while there is definitely a place for industrial chemicals, the home should not be one of them!

There are many ways we are exposed to toxins in our environment, some things we have no control over, but there are many things that we do. We don’t often think that our home could actually be more toxic than the air outside so when I found out that a stay-at-home mom has a 54% higher chance of developing cancer than a mom who leaves the home for work, I was shocked! What on earth was in the home that was causing so many problems? Well, it seems that virtually everything in our homes has the potential to produce toxic effects over time, but there are some simple steps that we can take.

1/ Use chemical free cleaning and personal care products

This is probably one of the easiest ways to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals in the home. Remember that skin exposure and inhalation can be more dangerous than ingestion! Daily repeated exposure to small amounts of chemicals over many years can have a compound effect so removing those harmful chemicals is really important. It may not be something that you will see today but you will benefit in the long run.

Start by checking out the CLEANING PRODUCTS that you are currently using on the EWG website link and look for healthier choices. You may be surprised to see that what you thought was healthy is in fact not!

You may have been Greenwashed!

toxic free 2With the average person being exposed to over 200 chemicals before they even leave the house in the morning, PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS are a big area for exposure! Shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, deodorant, hairspray, and cosmetics all contribute to our toxic load! Check out your products here using the skin deep guide and download the skin deep app onto your phone for easy access while out shopping.



2/ Dust and vacuum frequently

Keeping your home clean serves much more of a purpose than just looking nice in case you have a visitor! Have you heard of PBDE’s? Polybrominated diphenyl ethers are highly toxic flame retardant chemicals found in furniture and electronic equipment and are released into the air in our homes. These chemicals are inhaled or become attached to particles in the air and settle on all the surfaces. Several studies have found that these chemicals can affect thyroid and estrogen levels in animals. As you can imagine our kids are most at risk, because they love to be on the floor and I don’t know a kid that doesn’t touch everything in site! Whenever we touch a surface we are picking up those chemicals and they are absorbed through the skin or ingested. Using a Hepa filter vacuum and keeping your electronics and furniture surfaces free from dust by wiping them down with a damp cloth can greatly reduce your exposure.

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3/ Reduce exposure to BPA

Have you heard of BPA, Bisphenol A? Many people have because of the water bottle and baby bottle scare several years ago when it was revealed that this dangerous chemical was leaching into the liquids from the plastic containers. BPA is commonly found in all plastics and in the epoxy linings of canned goods and thermal cash register receipts! Why should you avoid it? BPA is thought to be a hormone disruptor, it mimics estrogen in the body and is also suspected to have an effect on the brain of the developing fetus. So, switching out your plastic for aluminum or glass is a great place to start, most stores are now carrying safe alternatives; check out replacement containers at kidskonserve.com, love them! Many companies are also offering BPA free canned goods, EWG.org has a comprehensive list of those companies that do and don’t, check on the link below. Lastly, try and avoid handling thermal cash register receipts, (mostly the ones that have the shiny toxic free 4finish). If you can get an email receipt, great, or
have them drop it in the bag, just avoid repeated handling which happens when we stuff them in our wallet! Caution to cashiers who are pregnant, good idea to wear protective gloves, studies have shown much higher levels of BPA after just 2 hours of handling receipts!



4/ Filter Your Water.

Extensive studies conducted by the EWG found that 45 states had contaminated drinking water. While local watetoxic free 5r companies do offer reports of water contaminants, levels of chemicals that are considered ‘safe’ have not been proven safe, they have just not been proven unsafe! Many people choose to use bottled water as an alternative to tap water but the biggest problem here is that most bottled water companies do not disclose the test quality of their water, and many have been found to be contaminated also! So, whats the answer? We have had a reverse osmosis filter for drinking water and a whole house soft water filter for years. I love knowing that we are drinking and showering in clean soft water and it certainly has saved from stains on the shower doors! But it comes down to your budget. The least expensive option for drinking water is a system at the faucet or a filter jug. A reverse osmosis system would be the next step and and whole house system actually removes  more chemicals and filters the water that you shower and wash you clothes in too. Check out this handy guide.


5/ Avoid Nonstick and waterproof finishes.

Non stick coatings containing PFC’s, perflourinated chemicals and are found everywhere from the kitchen to carpets to fast food to camping equipment. PFC’s even line the bags of popcorn!  Why to avoid? PFC’s have been linked to birth defects, obesity, kidney and testicular cancer! Not a nice chemical to have around although it is pretty much everywhere.

Best ways to avoid, limit fast food containers, avoid scotch guarding furniture, cook without those non stick Teflon pans and use stainless steel or aluminum.  More information? Check out this handy guide to avoid PFC’s

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6/ Avoid air fresheners and scented candles.

I have to admit, I was the queen of the Glade air fresheners! They were everywhere, two or three per room! And candles! Count me IN! I just loved to have my home smelling of vanilla and lavender, cinnamon and pine in the winter. That was before I found out that my efforts were polluting the very air we were breathing. Top of the ingredient list for both air fresheners and candles is fragrance which can be made up of hundreds of different chemicals, none of which have been tested for safety. Other ingredients may be phthalates which help the fragrance to last longer. Phthalates are on the list of the Dirty Dozetoxic free 7n Endocrine Disruptors and linked to male reproductive birth defects and allergies.  Check out this link for the Dirty Dozen! What is the alternative? Best candles would be beeswax, fragrance free if you love candles for ambiance. Auracacia makes an aromatherapy room diffuser for use with essential oils which may be a safer choice, or an essential oil vaporizer is an option if you like the therapeutic effects of your favorite oil. If it’s a smell you are trying to mask, best to eliminate the smell, empty the cat box or the garbage can and open the windows to let in some fresh air!




7/ Avoid lead based paints

For the large part, lead based paint is no longer seen in current construction after being banned from household paint in the US since 1978. Lead poisoning is especially dangerous to young children and has been linked to development delay, lower IQ, kidney damage and reproductive problems. It’s not actually the paint itself but the dust that is given off as the paint flakes with age or friction, often occurring during renovation of older properties. Special care needs to be taken when removing lead paint, there are qualified professionals who are trained to do this and limit your exposures.

toxic free 8When looking for fresh paint, think of your health and the environment! Check out the new Eco friendly paints that are out on the market with low to no VOC’s. Natural paints are derived from substances such as citrus and balsam, as well as minerals. Although these paints are made with natural materials and are petroleum-free, they often contain terpenes, which are VOCs derived from plants. However, natural paints do not off-gas biocides and fungicides.

Check out this handy guide from eartheasy.com

8/ Open Windows  

It’s estimated that people spend between 65 – 90% of their time indoors and that indoor pollution levels can be between 2 – 100 times higher than outdoor levels! Hard to believe sometimes when you consider air quality and pollution even in the inner cities.  The most common sources of pollutants are from inadequately vented heaters and appliances, off gassing of the chemical formaldehyde and VOC’s from construction materials, furniture, paints, solvents, preservatives and cleaners. All of these can cause minor to major problems from headaches, dizziness, nausea, allergies and respiratory problems and skin irritations to long term chronic illness from repeated exposure.

toxic free 9So, whats the answer? Ventilate your home! Open your windows whenever you can and let in the fresh air. Change HVAC filters frequently, use more natural wood furniture and less pressed particle board, choose fire retardant free furnishings and toxicfree cleaning products, don’t run the car in the attached garage and add a few indoor plants! The spider plant is a really hardy plant, easy to grow and actually sucks up pollutants from the environment.




9/ Take your shoes off at the door.

There is one sure way to find out how clean your floor is; Just put a white pair of socks on a toddler and let them run around for a while! It always amazes me how clean my floor looks until my granddaughter comes over!

In retoxic free 10ality it’s actually what is in the dirt that is more concerning. I remember my grandmother telling me that there’s nothing wrong with good old fashioned dirt. The problem is that with all the VOC’s in our environment today along with pesticides, heavy metals and bacteria there is nothing good about our dirt and all these can be tracked into the home on the bottom of your shoes.
Many pesticides and heavy metals are known carcinogens and are also neurotoxic so definitely not something you want to expose your kids to and they do spend a lot of time on the floor!  So start by making it a habit in your home to remove shoes at the door and that will encourage your visitors to do the same!

10/ Be aware of what you are putting next to your skin.

I thought this deserved a shout out all for itself, because it so often goes unnoticed. Fabrics are something that we all put next to our skin, 24 hours a day, every day, clothes, sheets and towels. What’s on them can get into us through the surface of the skin.

What to do:

  1. Always wash new garments before you were them. Many items are produced abroad and to protect them in the journey to the consumer they are treated with pesticides before they are packed. You want to make sure that this is not getting transferred directly to you!
  1. Wash clothing, bedding and towels in toxic free detergent and avoid fabric conditioner. People who have any kind of skin sensitivities, such as those with eczema or psoriasis would be well advised to remove chemical fragrance from their laundry. I know that we all love to have fragrance on our laundry but that fragrance is made up of hundreds of different chemicals, most of which have NOT been tested for safety. Not only are they being absorbed through the skin but inhaling those chemicals for long periods of time can have an adverse effect on your health.

I can say from personal experience that after a year of having removed many chemicals from our home, we stayed overnight with a friend who used fabric conditioner in her laundry. Within a few minutes of getting in between the sheets I could feel my throat starting to itch and it became more difficult to breathe. I realized then how desensitized I must have been to chemicals until I removed them from my home.

  1. Try to AVOID buying clothes that are dry clean only. During the dry cleaning process they use a dangerous solvent called PERC, perchloroethylene, which is anticipated to be a human carcinogen by several respected research groups. While highly toxic at high levels, even at low concentrations it can cause respiratory problems, dizziness, headaches and vision problems. So if you do have clothing dry cleaned hang it in a well ventilated area for up to a week before wearing it and if possible, avoid bringing it into the house altogether.


I was wondering this morning about my ‘Dream Home’. What it would look like, on the inside?

What would the view be out of the windows, how big would the windows be, how much space would be in each room? How would it accommodate my family? As I thought of each member of our family, about their needs, the grown ups and the little ones, our holidays, celebrations, I created a picture in my mind of aroma, color and texture and I knew just how it would be, I could ‘feel’ it. I decided right then that my Dream home would have to be modeled from the inside out. It made total sense to me, its all about the inside.

After all I live and spend most of my time on the inside looking out! I don’t sleep on the driveway looking at the house thinking how great it looks right?

So bear with me, I am going somewhere with this….I started thinking about how we normally choose a place to live, what’s the first thing we do? We surf the web, look at a ‘snapshot’, we check out how it looks, how old is it, the size, the color, Is it our cup of tea?

How Do You Choose The One2

Many times, we can just glance at something and know that it is not what we are looking for, we already have a particular home in mind so we discard it. Next….

When we see one we like we may take a drive by! We check out the yard, the maintenance, Is the structure strong and sturdy? We look at the other homes around it, are they as well kept, does this look like it may be somewhere my kids could play outside? Can I safely park my car? We may even call a friend, do they know anyone else who lives around the neighborhood, what is it like? We do our research and then if it seems like a good fit we’ll check out the inside!

This is when things often change for us……we get tempted!

Most of us start out with a long list of wants and needs usually prioritized by the most important things first. So what happens when we start looking? This can all change when we walk through the door.

We love the outside everything looks great, it has potential!  But inside is another story! It’s not updated, YUK! It is dark and dreary, It’s run down, there may even be a few termites here and there! It has lots of dark corners  and you know it will be a lot of work!  Another problem, it doesn’t have a tub in the bathroom, it has no office space and you really wanted a vegetable garden, but it has potential!

Decision time, what do you do?

Do you cross it off the list knowing this is great for someone but not for you, OR do you start thinking of ways you can remodel?

Maybe if you added a sky light and some bigger windows, some major reconstruction work is needed but you really love the outside of the home so is it worth remodeling? Is it worth all the family time you would have to give up in order to get the home the way you want it? Do you compromise on the missing bath tub and take a shower? Do you work at the kitchen table and do you go without the home grown veggies that you had hoped for?


These are big decisions, after all this is a HUGE investment! Is it worth the sacrifice that we may have to make and the work we will have to do? We check out the disclosures, we have an inspection, we are after all looking at the next 30 years of payments are we not? Anyone who has done it will tell you that a house purchase is one of the most stressful times of your life. This is why we make absolutely sure it is right….

This all makes so much sense when you are buying a home!

So … what is the point?

How Do You Choose The One3

With so much at stake, why do so many people not take the same precautions in other areas of their life? For example, when we are looking for a partner?

It is after all a HUGE investment is it not? Choosing the right partner has an ongoing daily affect on our whole life! So why do we so often ignore that….Why do we ‘skip the steps’?

What happens?

We see the snapshot, it looks like our ‘type’, we are really attracted to the outside but we haven’t taken the time to really check it out. Our hearts take over from our brains! It becomes a want! We ignore the fact it may not be a good fit!

We don’t take the time to research the neighborhood!  We don’t do the homework, we take a brief glance at the inside, It looks like it might work and off we go!

We compromise on what we had on our list, we disregard what was important to us. We love the exterior so we give up the ‘extra office space and the bath tub’! Pretty soon we’ll be sleeping on the driveway!

We go for a short escrow! Once we make plans, we involve other people and the whole situation becomes harder to back out of!  We ignore warnings from friends because of course, we know best!

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We end up in a compromise. We ignore that this is really not right for us, that it might be perfect for someone else! We overlook the termite damage and lack of maintenance, we think we can handle the remodel alone, we can ‘fix’Unfortunately by the time we find out we can’t we are totally miserable and knee deep in emotional debt!

So what’s the answer…. Why don’t we give this the same attention that we do to a home purchase?

Let’s see how it would be if we treated it like the investment that it really is…..

WE check out the snapshot, we like the ‘look’ of the person, they look like someone who might be worth getting to know better.

WE do a ‘Drive By’ and we take the time to check out the ‘friendships’ and we make inquiries about the place things they like to do.

Remember, you can tell a lot about a ‘home’ by the other homes around it. It’s the same with people, we are who we associate with!

Is it someone who I would want my kids to be around. Could I trust them with my car keys?

Are we ready to get to know them better?

This is where our list of requirements comes in..this is essential!

We have to look at a long term relationship like an investment; Not a financial investment but an emotional investment, your heart and soul are at stake here. Remember, you are going to be a part of this relationship, not sitting on the outside looking in.

First, lets check out the maintenance?

DO they take care of themselves, are they health conscious, do you or they even think that is important?

DAILY self improvement, are they spiritually fit?

ARE they well grounded, do they have good family roots, do they look like they may run at the first sign of a conflict?

ARE they financially independent or could they become a ‘money pit’?

Check for termite damage!

ARE they open about themselves, do you get a good clear picture of what’s inside or do you sense hidden dark corners?  Can you have fun, is it someone you can relax and be yourself with? Does it feel right?

ARE there things you may disagree on? Are they minor issues or would they require major compromise?

ARE they a good fit for your family? Would the relationship be a loving nurturing place for them too?

IS there plenty of room to grow in this relationship?

ARE there some qualities missing? Are you willing to compromise for this person and if so, what would be the cost?

IS this relationship really where you want to be, more than anywhere else in the world?

So you see, embarking on a relationship is just as important as making a home purchase.

Would you rather do your homework before hand or find out later that there is major reconstruction needed that you are not prepared for?

Not doing your due diligence can lead to compromise and unhappiness. Being in a relationship that you really don’t want to be in is hard for both parties, it’s never one sided. It doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with either person, it may just mean that it is not a good fit! Just like a home purchase, just because one home is not right for you that doesn’t mean it’s not perfect for someone else!

After all, there is somewhere for everyone.

A great relationship is a major investment just like your home! It involves your whole family, it requires work, time and regular maintenance and should be given the effort it deserves. It is the fabric of our lives, it is where our heart is, where we should feel safe and nurtured where we can have room to grow, it is where we build memories that we carry with us wherever we go.



How Toxic is your Environment?

Have you ever wondered what could be causing those headaches you get? Why you feel lethargic and tired even though you have had a good nights sleep? What is causing that strange rash that appeared on your child’s legs or why does your spouse always sound wheezy?

For the last two years I have been getting educated about the dangers of toxic chemicals that are IN our homes, in our living environments! In the water, the day to day personal care and cleaning products, our clothing, the air and our furniture, things that we are exposed to everyday.

Now you would think that considering that I have been an RN for the last 38 years you would think I would have some knowledge about this! NOT!

True, I knew about the dangers of asbestos and to stay away from lead based paint, I knew that bleach burned your skin and to keep it away from your eyes! I knew all the obvious stuff.

It was what I didn’t know that was more alarming!

It was the dangers that were hidden in plain sight.

How Toxic is Your Environment2I actually never gave much thought to the fact that when I put  a lotion on my skin, within 26 seconds the ingredients were actually getting absorbed into my blood stream; and I had no clue that those same products could contain chemicals that may seriously be harming my health? It never occurred to me that the shampoo I was using could possibly contribute to me having memory loss in the future!

Actually, I might have carried on totally unaware except for the fact I was searching for ‘natural’ products for my new Granddaughter. I wanted to buy the best I could find but I had no clue what to look for! I was totally confused. I started in the health food stores where the shelves were full of pretty bottles decorated with cute babies and flowers, each saying they were the best and made with natural and organic ingredients. What did that mean exactly? I’m going to pay $36 for a bottle of shampoo, I really want to know it is everything they say it is!

Then someone introduced me to the Environmental Working Group and oh boy! I learned a lot! Did you know that the cosmetics industry is ‘self regulated and self financed’ and the laws surrounding toxic substances are outdated and were written in 1976? I didn’t.

How Toxic is Your Environment3

I was completely shocked when I learned about the potential harm these toxic ingredients could be having on our health and how uneducated we are as health care professionals and consumers! Why are dangerous chemicals being freely used in our everyday products yet those same chemicals are banned for use in products in other countries? Why did I not know this stuff? Why are the standards here in the USA so lax?

I also learned that NATURAL means NOTHING and that there are no marketing regulations surrounding how a company advertises it’s products. They can actually label a product  environmentally friendly even though may have potentially harmful chemicals in it!

How Toxic is Your Environment4Probably the most important thing I found out was that the term Non-Toxic does not mean that it is safe and free from harmful chemicals. It’s all to do with the amount of chemicals in the product and how long it takes the test subjects to die!

So a product you may be using can legally have harmful chemicals that may not be lethal if you are just using that one product!

The problem is that with over 85,000 chemicals in use in the USA today, there’s a good chance you are being exposed to that same chemical in several different products. There is also no research to support how harmful the combination of many different chemicals can be from all the products we use on a daily basis. Its estimated that the average American male is exposed to about 200 different chemicals before they leave the house in the morning and for a female using cosmetics, that can rise to over 500.

One of the best resources I was introduced to was the ‘Skin Deep App’ from The Environmental Working Group,  www.ewg.org  they do a really good job with easy to read information to educate the consumer. I used their consumer guides and found that the products I had been using for years, thinking they were the best on the market, actually had some chemicals in them that had been shown in studies to be extremely harmful. I used the information to make some major changes by replacing some of the toxic products from our home.

I began to read labels and not just choose products because they matched the decor in the bathroom. I’ll be quite honest, this was a process. When you have been using one product for years its hard to accept a change, you wonder will these other products work as well? How can I clean without chemicals? I actually think it was harder for my husband until I told him that there were no herbs in the well known shampoo he couldn’t part with!

During this process I began to share the information with friends and family and found that I was not alone! There were so many people who I knew who also had no clue. One of the biggest obstacles I found was that there is so much information and not everyone wants to be like me, cruising around the internet looking for ways to clean their toilet without chemicals! So I started a list which developed into a little guide for anyone who is interested! 10 easy steps to limit chemical exposure in your home. This is not to a comprehensive list of everything there is available! This is meant as a quick start guide for anyone who like me had no idea where to start:-)