Let’s all take a moment to savor our success!

posted in: Moms' stories | 16

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Let’s all take a moment to savor our successRecently, my family and I went to a theme park to celebrate my husband’s recent hard-fought legal victory. There was a security guard looking through bags. As I approached and unsnapped my purse, I pointed to my water bottle and assured him, “This is a plastic bottle.”

 

I have to admit that it felt surprisingly good to say the word “plastic.” Why? Maybe because in that moment I felt normal, as if I am like everybody else, that I can also drink out of a plastic bottle.

 

Maybe it felt good to say the word “plastic” because it was as if I had earned enough “credits” to be able to drink out of a plastic bottle without feeling guilt or regret.

 

I thought back to the moment when I first learned that all types of plastic, even that which claims to be “BPA-free,” may leach estrogen-mimicking chemicals. I was angry and overwhelmed. During the past 5 years of researching consumer products as a full-time occupation, I have learned a lot of other frustrating and overwhelming things, much of which I have shared with you in the pages of this blog.

 

Yes, there was a time when I felt as if I were sitting on the top of a tall mountain, alone and exposed to a cold wind without any protection. But in the course of my studies, I learned something that has helped me feel empowered, and it may help you as well.

 

I think when we learn a new piece of information about harmful chemicals – for instance, that all plastic is bad – it is natural to instantly adopt an “all or nothing” approach. We tend to think that we need to eliminate ALL plastic from our lives right away, and we also tend to regret all the past decisions we have made.

 

Maybe there is another approach. When you learn something frightening and new, I’d like to invite you to be kind to yourself and practice gratitude. Be grateful that you learned this information today, not sometime in the future. See the information as an opportunity to start acting. But know that it is unrealistic to act now on everything. Stress can be the biggest toxin, after all. Focus on one change you can make this week or even this month. Praise yourself for making the change, write it down, tell a friend or do whatever helps to document the change, to embrace it. Then, take time to feel good about it.

 

When you feel good about the small changes you make, in no time, you will be making more and more healthy changes to your lifestyle.

 

And then, when you find yourself traveling, for instance, and have to drink out of that plastic bottle, you can focus on all the times when you had made safer choices in the past. You have earned your credits because the truth is that now you are way ahead of 99.9% of Americans. And sadly, I am not exaggerating. Your glass is half full, not half empty.

 

I want to take a moment here and say thanks to you because you are reading this and have stayed with me for some time now, maybe even years, which means that you are a truly amazing and brave person and should feel good about yourself.

 

In fact, let’s do an exercise. Write in the comments one change — no matter how small it is — that you have done this year that you feel proud of or should feel proud of. Please set the comment settings to “reply to all” so you can see answers from other amazing and brave people and feel proud of them, too.

 

The glass is half full! It is. When you reduce your exposure to potentially toxic chemicals, I think it is helpful to adopt a wholesome approach. The journey to optimum health does not happen via eliminating every single chemical out of your environment. In fact, that would lead us to the road of an illness called neuroticism, and that is not healthy at all. Ask yourself the question, “Today, on balance, am I living a healthier life than I lived last year?”

 

We should also not forget about our bodies’ natural ability to detoxify. A few times, I have checked my body’s ability to detoxify, including how much heavy metals I carry. This helps me know which harmful chemicals I have to focus on in my environment, and which ones I can be more relaxed about. It also gives me a sense of control over the situation.

 

Thank you for reading!  I look forward to your thoughts!

 

P.S.  If you are curious to learn about the plastic water bottle I carried into the theme park, click here.

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16 Responses

  1. Dale

    Irina,
    I love that you discuss this. So often, I see an all or nothing approach derail positive change. I’ve seen people who truly believe in the benefits of organic agriculture and food, but because they can’t afford to be 100% organic, abandon organics, as if being organic is a private club. Because of all or nothing approaches, sometimes healthier lifestyle choices can sadly be unintentionally excluding of various groups, leading to a false perception that it’s only for people in a certain socio-economic class. Healthier choices should be for everyone, and working toward healthier bodies and planet isn’t an all or nothing thing, but an important, ever-changing part of our total lives.

    • Irina Webb

      Thank you, Dale, for saying this! I always consider a price before recommending a product and try to offer as many affordable choices as possible. ~Irina

  2. Kendra

    We’ve been making changes over the last four years, after I had my first daughter and started researching ingredient labels a lot more. It all started with diapers and wipes and we have all been on a cleaner path since then. The most recent change was switching to Dr. Bronners hand soap with foaming dispensers that you recommended. Little by little we are getting there. We aren’t perfect but we have made many changes with what we’ve learned over the last four years. Thanks for all you do!

    • Irina Webb

      Dear Kendra: It is so heart-warming to hear from you! I know you are one of my first 50 subscribers. Can you imagine? Thank you so much for staying with me for over 4 years now. I am so glad you switched to Dr. Bronner’s soap. Yay! It is one of those things where a non-toxic solution is more affordable than potentially harmful products such as Method. Here is a link to that post for anybody who is interested: https://ireadlabelsforyou.com/natural-liquid-hand-soap/ ~Irina

  3. Sharon

    I love this perspective, Irina. All too often, as I learn new and more information about non-toxic living, I have to constantly remind myself not to agonize over the past. For me this journey started with reading “slow death by rubber duck” a couple of years after I had my first child and was thinking of conceiving my second, and then once I was pregnant with number two, I became much more focused on all kinds of toxins that could impact my growing baby. I eliminated perfumes, nail polish and did a complete makeover of personal care products and make up. Over the last year, I’ve tried to focus on our home, slowly turning over our bedding and kitchen ware. We’ve come so far in a few years and this piece was a good reminder to feel good about where we are now, without worrying too much about how far yet there is to go. Thanks for the work that you do. It is invaluable to those of us choosing to live consciously in this way, but who don’t have the resources to devote the time and effort that you do. Thank you!

    • Irina Webb

      Hi, Sharon: It is so nice to hear from you and about the changes you have made! You should definitely feel proud of yourself! ~Irina

  4. Marc

    Hello Irina

    Hoping this email finds you hunky dory.

    We now grow my own food in every inch of our small yard, which is crammed with milk crates and
    discarded pots I find on the streets, and only buy organic products that we can’t grow.

    The other big change is we stand and read the labels at shops and then make the decision
    to buy them or not.

    Thank you for your helpful site, it has made decisions so much easier.

  5. Nan

    I am so awesome grateful to you and the really hard work you do to keep us informed. Loved this article. A little more chill in life goes a long way with developing good eating habits where we possibly can….and I think loving wider and embracing so many around us who are just trying to feed their families in the cheapest way possible. You have my heart.

  6. Erin

    I am so grateful to use your blog as my go to resource over the last 4 years. The information you have given me has really made it possible for me to know the right direction of change to make in my life.
    It can be a very overwhelming time. I didn’t have anyone to show the way and many people are not supportive of trying to live a healthier lifestyle because it isn’t the norm. But you showed me I could do it and I was and still am determined to make and keep these lifestyle changes.
    Right now we are looking to buy a sofa from Stem. It may not be completely non toxic since we wont be able to get the latex filling but it wont have the fire retardants and I feel good about that.
    All this change started small with switching to non toxic cleaners and soap. Changing diet was around here as was makeup and personal care products. I had my first child around this time too and used your information to find safer diapers and wipes. As I am expecting our second child I am relieved to already know this information and it helps me feel confident in my purchases.
    I did, however, drink out of a plastic water bottle yesterday and feel bad about it. Thank you, once again, for reminding me to look at how far I’ve come instead of focusing on how much more I need to do.

    • Irina Webb

      Hi, Erin:
      It is so great to hear from you! You should definitely feel proud of yourself! It warms my heart and motivates me even work harder hearing that my research helps you. And I am so happy to hear that you are in a process of getting rid of flame retardants from your home. It is a huge one! ~Irina

  7. Maria Ryan

    I don’t do everything perfectly and there is always room for improvement. I regularly remind myself that stressing over every little thing will kill me faster than anything(: That is why I have zero tolerance for those who are dogmatic in their thinking. Any change for the better that is consistently practiced is a big deal.

    Not one of us on this earth can live a 100% toxic free life. There is too much out of our control and it doesnt matter where you live BUT we can do the best with what we have as we continue to ecucate ourselves and share our knowledge with others.

    Trusting in our bodies innate ability to heal and letting go of yesterday are huge components of this process. I say this as much for my own benefit as anyone else’s.

    Btw, i started wearing the Ecco Bella mascara. Thx for the tip.

    • Irina Webb

      Thank you so much for sharing this, Maria! It is a pleasure to hear from you! It was so good to talk to you on the phone also. 🙂 ~Irina

  8. Nastia K.

    I don’t usually comment, there were a few comments here and there, but this post by far touched me more than any other previous one! That is the most true, Irina! Thank you for proving to us, that we are on the right path. My changes were not as encompassing as I wished they were. I, too, realized that I am not capable of turning my life (health and choices wise) 180 right away. It is stressful. But thinking in retrospect now and analyzing what I did change turns out to be quite fruitful. I don’t use shampoos with two letter MM (you know what I mean :-)), I stopped using any nail polish (although, as you have researched, there are healthier options; I just don’t feel the need any more and don’t feel less prettier ;-). For my cosmetic choices, I choose Dr. Haushka’s mascara and day cream, Blissoma’s morning moisturizing lotion, soap by Valenti Organic. I changed my detergent, I use more nature given cleaning agents (vinegar, baking soda, etc). So, I guess, all in all, I AM making a change in my life and the life if my family.

    • Irina Webb

      Thank you SO MUCH for commenting, Nastia. I am convinced that you should feel good about the changes you have made and be proud of yourself!!! You are amazing! Your comment makes me work even harder. ~Irina

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