My Alive Home

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making liquid shampoo with Zum shampoo bar soap

It was quite amusing to me, watching myself going through Christmas and New Years, so totally obsessed with making my own body and household products. I learned so much!

I learned that almost everything you want or need can be made simply and easily with baking soda, vinegar, lemon, and a few other very available ingredients. Diving in head first to this make-it-yourself world, I bought a whole slew of new things like essential oils and raw honey and shea butter and coconut oil and all kinds of stuff I’d never heard of before or never considered before, crammed my countertops with bottles and jars and containers, Googled recipes, mixed, stirred, combined, grated, melted, simmered, poured, cooled, refrigerated, blended, sieved, bottled, froze…tried things out, some things worked, some didn’t…I took pictures, kept track of successes and failures…blogged…I did it all.

Even while I was doing it I was wondering to myself: what in the world is driving me to do this?!

I got my answer last night.

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homemade laundry detergent

I’d put some laundry in the washing machine and started the water running, and pulled my bottle of homemade laundry soap off the shelf, shook it up, opened it up and smelled it and it smelled so good…the scent of essential oils…and it hit me right there, measuring and pouring the soap into the washer, then measuring and pouring the vinegar into the softener dispenser: what I make is alive; what I used to use, those store-bought products, those things are dead.

That’s what it is.

And here’s where I look back on this blog from the beginning of writing it. That’s what this whole thing has been about.

I have been morphing from relying on “the artificial” “bought in a store” to knowing that I have what I need, right here, the ingredients are simple, and I can make it on my own. I am life. I choose life. I choose living.

I choose Living.

***

natural bedroom

natural bedroom

The first thing I wrote about on the blog, the reason I started the blog: my body threw a really big fit about *something*; when I got rid of the chemical-laden *name brand memory foam mattress*, my symptoms went away almost completely within six weeks. I replaced my mattress made of god-only-knows-what-chemicals with a simple chemical-free cotton-covered futon mattress stuffed with cotton batting and never slept so well in my life. Any chemical-based bedroom products I’ve replaced with all natural. I have silk, cotton, buckwheat hulls, down, feathers, wool, bamboo, paper, metal and wood in my bedroom, and no more mystery-chemical-soup products.

caveman cooking

caveman cooking

Once my bedroom settled down, my diet got an overhaul. At first I thought I was suddenly allergic to everything because of my memory foam mattress experience, because my body was detoxing from all of the chemicals. I still really don’t know what the trigger was, although I have a few varied ideas. For six months my body battled itself (the actual definition of “allergy” — your body is fighting itself) and my skin erupted in itchy, painful hives that made living really difficult. I got so simple with the food I ate: organic chicken or fish, brown rice, a few vegetables, some that I grew in my garden, a few fruits, lemon juice, olive oil, water, herbal tea — and that was about it for six months. Then I discovered L-Glutamine, and three weeks later I was cured! I’ve been eating anything at all since then, and now totally appreciate my “hives” diet and that time in my life because now I know that I can eat healthy and simply and without sugar or dairy and keep the weight off and do just fine.

Nothing much happened for quite a while, until my homemade products blitz over Christmas and New Years.

making my own toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo...

making my own toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo…

And now it makes sense to me. Phase by phase I’ve been eliminating all things artificial from my life, from my kitchen, from my bathroom, from my bedroom, from my closets and cupboards.

Anything manufactured — chemical-laden memory-foam mattresses, shampoos or deodorants or toothpastes or laundry soap made in a factory — out! Does the item have living essence? Is it real? Is it made from wool, linen, cotton, hemp, ceramic, glass, wood, bamboo, stone? Or lemon, apple, coconut, olive, seeds, nuts, berries, essential oils? In!

Taking a step back from all of this, I can now see how this has been an unconscious preference of mine all my life.

cozy little new woodstove

cozy little new woodstove

I bought my own stove 10 years ago, my first one that I could choose, and of course chose gas — because with a gas stove you cook with a living flame. I made sure to buy a house that had a place for a woodstove, and I have a fire going in it now. A fire is living heat.

apple tree in my yard

apple tree in my yard

In summer I have a garden and prolific apple, apricot, mulberry and nut trees in my yard. Fabrics in my house must be natural — no acrylics, no polyesters, no nylons. I sprout seeds and beans — a new project — on my countertop; I grow water kefir — another new project — on my countertop. My spider plants thrive and reproduce like mad; my dog and I are attached at the hip. I choose leather boots and not plastic, and always have. I prefer down vests to polarfleece.

It just makes sense.

My home and everything around me is choosing life, is choosing things that are earth-connected and real, because I am choosing life. That which is dead, that which is brewed in a vat of chemicals, has got to go. It does not fit here, in this vibrant and alive and earth-connected and real abode of mine.

I have one more story. Last weekend, sitting here in my living room, minding my own business, I felt the stuff on my bookshelves telling me it was time to go. As in, the stuff I looked at on my bookshelves that were “me” and memorabilia from my past…none of it connected to me anymore. Really! My stuff…not “me” anymore. How about that. So one thing led to the next, and before I realized it, I was under my desk in my office, disconnecting the surge suppressor extension cord that got fried about three years ago from a power surge. I’d left it under my desk because the desk was so heavy, so bulky, unwieldy, I’d have to take EVERYTHING off and take the desk apart…and here I was, under the desk, taking everything apart, to get that DEAD extension cord out of there and GONE! It felt like a big dead rat under my desk and I felt such a sense of relief to feel it gone, out of my house, finally. I went through every file in my filing cabinets, tossing out old “dead” stuff, turned the desk around, found new locations for the TV, DVD player, stereo, everything. Boxed up a dozen boxes of stuff and put them all out in the garage, out of my living space.

frost on my window in the morning sun

frost on my window in the morning sun

Slowly, slowly, my space becomes Alive, as I become Alive. The more I choose to Live, the more my space reflects that.

I Exist. I Am Alive.

So naturally: I live in an alive home.

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About Susan Bame

Writer, Mediator, Facilitator, Teacher, fascinated with indigenous forms of conflict resolution. I love watching people become empowered. I have a master's degree in conflict resolution and a personal interest in organic food, detoxing and healing the body, alternative holistic approaches to health, self-empowerment and win-win solutions through mediation, Structured Water™, and energetic healing. I lived on the Omaha Reservation in northeast Nebraska for ten years, worked with Native families in the area, and have a great interest in Native history, culture, practices, traditions, stories, and current affairs. View all posts by Susan Bame

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