Tag Archives: Home

From Intent.com: Packing Bags and Cleaning House

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Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go;
they merely determine where you start.
-Nido Qubein

I have live in 4 houses in 2 years. One of those moves included condensing a 3-bedroom, 2-car garage home into one trailer and moving it from Nashville, Tennessee to Hollywood, California. Is it too dramatic to say the experience was traumatizing? Because, if not, I’d like to say it was traumatizing.

When you move, you have to touch literally everything you own at least twice and that was enough to make me really think about what I was bringing along. Does this item serve a purpose? Does this item even function properly? Do I like this item? When space is limited and you have to physically move each and every choice, you are forced to think about questions like that. More times than not, you realize you’ve been holding on to things that don’t matter or don’t work for way too long.

Why is it that we refuse to take inventories of our emotional, mental and spiritual lives in the same way?
Does this feeling serve a purpose?
Does this feeling function properly?
Do I even like this feeling?

We will hang on to relationships, onto bad situations, onto unhealthy habits, dragging them all over the country with us and never take the time to consider whether or not we need to just toss it.

How long do you have to keep beating yourself up for past mistakes?
How long do you have to live with something that is slowing your down?
How long do you have to be sad?

This week, we’re inviting you to take a different sort of inventory.
We’re inviting you to open up all the baggage you’ve been hanging onto. Maybe just open one bag at a time? Open whatever you’re ready. Ask yourself what things need to be tossed in the trash. Ask yourself where you’re wasting your time because the truth is you are moving. The truth is you have limited space to carry everything if you’re going to move forward with any sort of momentum. We’re inviting you to clean house. And it doesn’t matter how far down the road you end up, only that you get started.

There are brave folks on Intent.com who are doing the same. Support, adopt, post an intent of your own.

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The Best Green Gadgets to Look For in 2014

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 7.17.04 AMby Elizabeth Eckhart

Green living is all the rage right now, as is reverting back to other, healthier lifestyles which benefit both us and our environment. But for those of us who have long raged against technology as the bearers of pollution and energy crises, it may be time to reevaluate.

This year the International CES conference not only has dedicated two full discussion panels to the topic of energy awareness (“Energy Efficiency Initiatives for Electronics: What’s Working and What’s Not” and “Green Standards: Who Should Run the Show?”) the judges have also awarded a select few products their Economic Innovation Award. CES 2014  will also find itself the show grounds for breakthroughs in home improvement, home automation — mainly temperature and energy control — as well as new and improved electric vehicles.

By home improvement, I don’t mean tools you’d use to build your own household additions, but rather appliances that, if added to your home, could do wonders in terms of improving energy efficiency. For example, you may already have a programmable thermostat (and if you don’t, what exactly are you waiting for?) but you definitely don’t have the Eversense by Allure Energy, Inc. This beauty goes one step further than programs, and actually adjusts temperature and energy usage based on how far or near each resident is from the home. This Proximity Control Technology is made possible by the complimentary mobile app.

If you’ve been leary of using a gas guzzling ride lawn mower, fear no more! Finally, someone has taken the initiative and created the first fully electric lawn mower. The mower uses zero gas and oil, which is obviously energy efficient, but also quieter. The RZT S Zero by Cub Cadet might be the green solution to lawn maintenance that you’ve been looking for.

Cooking and cleaning are two of the major tasks that can waste energy. For most homeowners, a good chunk of their water use is in laundry, which is why LG, who has swept up an incredible 15 innovation awards at CES this year, is debuting their new LG Front Load Mega Capacity Turbowash Washer. The name is a mouthful, but the washer is impressive due to its Smart Diagnosis, which changes the water and energy amount based on the size of load it senses. LG also contributed the LG Electric Double Oven Range with EasyClean, which implemented a high performing Infrared Grill system which cooks faster than ever, using far less heat than conventional ovens. Samsung, too, brought forth their addition to household chores with the DV457 Front-Load Dryer, which is the first dryer to ever receive an Energy Star Emerging Technology Award. The dryer is super efficient, and the first to have a temperature modulation system.

More efficient appliances are one way to go greener, but anyone that is even a little studied on the Consumer Electronics Show of 2013 knows another watched area will be home automation. Security Choice ADT was the first to roll out a complete home automation system with Pulse in 2010 and last year added increased energy control and an additional television interface. The benefit of home automation is the ability to control energy use from virtually anywhere. Using your smartphone, you can adjust temperature up and down, turn lights and appliances on and off, and even lock windows and doors to prevent drafts (or break-ins). ADT will have some competition this year, with both Lowes and Home Depot unveiling similar products to the market, which will no doubt be more affordable.

One of the biggest trends in green engineering is the increased availability of electric cars. The Tesla Model S, currently hailed as the top electric car in the game, has mentioned that they will be previewing their new “Autopilot” technology, which could sense people and objects around the car, and successful avoid them. Toyota will also be debuting new electric vehicles, such as the Rav4 EV and their brand new Fuel Cell Vehicle Concept.

CES 2014 will also feature greener and more energy efficient versions of hundreds of other products, though none quite as earth-friendly or innovative as those mentioned above. The show is grounds for some majorly impressive technology, and it is definitely a good sign that so much time and effort is being taken to recognize the products making a difference.

CES 2014 will be held Jan. 7-10 in Las Vegas.

Elizabeth Eckhart is a Chicago born and bred blogger who is passionate about keeping the environment clean. Some of her favorite writing topics include new renewable energy technology and various ways to live a healthy lifestyle. 

*Photo from CESWeb.org.

How to Green-Up Your Home to Live a Happy Healthy Life

greenvalentineBy: Elizabeth Eckhart 

It seems today that more and more Americans are concerned with the current state of the environment, and what we can do to help. Everywhere you look, companies are “going green” in an attempt to appeal to the demands of the increasingly educated public. Even electric companies in places like Texas, the oil capital of America, are touting their green energy options, and it’s all beginning to turn the tide: according to the EPA, in 2008 Americans were able to avoid releasing the equivalent of 29 million cars worth of greenhouse gases through eco-conscious living. This translated to a savings of $19 billion for Americans that year.

However, it’s not just our commercial goods we are wanting to be eco-friendly – many of us want to live greener and thus healthier lives defined by mindfulness of our place on the Earth, and making our home as green as possible is an undeniably important part. Our homes should be a haven, not a harm to us, and shouldn’t be reducing the quality of the environment.

So what exactly is a “green” home? Compared to an average American home, green homes are gentler on the environment because they use less energy, water and other natural resources while avoiding waste and negative environmental impact wherever possible. Standard homes consumes about 30 percent of total energy and 65 percent of all electricity generated in the US. By making plumbing, fixtures, landscaping and irrigation systems more efficient, greens homes can use 50 percent less water than standard American homes. Also, constructing a green home generates about 50 to 90 percent less waste than standard homes.

Based on these facts and simple observations, it should come as no surprise to see the rise in the number of eco-friendly homes being built, and for good cause. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that buildings in the U.S. contribute 70 percent of carbon dioxide emissions and residential buildings produce 20 percent of our total CO2 emissions alone. It is clear that our homes and offices play a major role in the environment, so it’s our responsibility to limit the damage we inflict with them.

Also, not only do standard constructed homes negatively affect the environment, but they are affect our wellbeing. Green homes create less indoor air pollutants than standard homes, which can enhance allergies and asthma and may lead to lung cancer.

There are many options for current homeowners to turn their homes into energy efficient ones. One of the most popular programs to help with this process is the Energy Star program, which was launched in 1995. Energy Star certified energy efficient products typically use 20-30 percent less energy than what is required by federal standards. While Energy Star certifications are for what’s in your home, LEED Certification, launched by the United States Green Building Council, is for the building itself. LEED-certified homes aim to reduce their negative impact on the environment by reducing their energy and water use by an average of 20-30 percent as well as maximizing fresh air within the home to reduce exposure to domestic pollutants.

The reality is though, that most Americans simply can’t afford to build a new LEED certified home, or buy new Energy Star certified products. Luckily, there are many steps all of us can take to reduce our impact on the environment that don’t break our bank.

The first step would be to get an energy audit — many electric companies offer these at minimal to no cost, or you can do it yourself. A DIY audit consists of checking for, and sealing, indoor and outdoor air leaks that could be driving up your energy bill by 5-30 percent a year. This is particularly important for older homes, since they are more prone to having drafts.

Next, compare home electricity providers to see which companies offer green products, such as solar panels. Many companies today are utilizing renewable sources from solar, to wind, hydro and geothermal to generate electrical power. If you live in states like New York, Maryland, Texas, and other parts of the South, you can try here to see which companies offer eco-friendly options for household electricity in your area and which would work for you and your household’s electricity needs.

The next step is to check your home’s insulation, which keeps the heat from escaping through the ceiling and walls. The attic is the biggest culprit for heat loss, so look there first if you have one, then consider checking and re-sealing the borders of windows and doors.

Your heating and cooling equipment should be next on your list. Cleaning or replacing filters, inspecting ducts and pipes for leaks, and replacing the unit every 15 years will ensure tip-top energy efficiency and will protect your lungs from breathing in mold and other harmful toxins.

The last, and easiest step is to monitor your use of electronic devices. Aside from using any electronic devices less frequently, make sure to unplug everything that isn’t being used at that moment, and definitely do so if you’ll be out of the house for a few hours or more. Unused, but plugged in, electronic devices are leeches of electricity and cost you hundreds of dollars a year without you being any the wiser – this includes power strips and surge protectors, so be sure to unplug these as well as they will continue to draw power. To get more tips on a do-it-yourself home audit check the U.S. Department of Energy’s website.

Other greener options for the home are to use less water, use fewer paper goods such as paper towels (opt for cloth towels instead and reuse them), get newer appliances that are more energy efficient and whenever possible buy green household cleaners that don’t contain harsh chemicals or toxins.

Not only will doing everything you can to make your home green reduce your impact on the environment, it will also lead to a happier, healthier life. Wellness begins at home, so make sure your house is part of your solution!

Have any other tips for making your house more green? Share in the comments below! 

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Elizabeth Eckhart is a Chicago born and bred blogger who is passionate about keeping the environment clean. Some of her favorite writing topics include new renewable energy technology and various ways to live a healthy lifestyle. 

How Eating at Home Can Save Your Life

Portrait of a family saying grace before eating dinnerThe slow insidious displacement of home cooked and communally shared family meals by the industrial food system has fattened our nation and weakened our family ties.

In 1900, 2 percent of meals were eaten outside the home. In 2010, 50 percent were eaten away from home and one in five breakfasts is from MacDonald’s.

Most family meals happen about three times a week, last less than 20 minutes and are spent watching television or texting while each family member eats a different microwaved “food”. More meals are eaten in the minivan than the kitchen.

Research shows that children who have regular meals with their parents do better in every way, from better grades, to healthier relationships, to staying out of trouble. They are 42 percent less likely to drink, 50 percent less likely to smoke and 66 percent less like to smoke marijuana.

Regular family dinners protect girls from bulimia, anorexia, and diet pills. Family dinners also reduce the incidence of childhood obesity. In a study on household routines and obesity in U.S. preschool aged children, it was shown that kids as young as four have a lower risk of obesity if they eat regular family dinners, have enough sleep, and don’t watch TV on weekdays.

We complain of not having enough time to cook, but Americans spend more time watching cooking on the Food Network, than actually preparing their own meals. In his series Food Revolution, Jamie Oliver showed us how we have raised a generation of Americans who can’t recognize a single vegetable or fruit, and don’t know how to cook.

I believe the most important and the most powerful tool you have to change your health and the world is your fork.

The family dinner has been hijacked by the food industry. The transformations of the American home and meal outlined above did not happen by accident.

Broccoli, peaches, almonds, kidney beans, and other whole foods don’t need a food ingredient label or bar code, but for some reason these foods—the foods we co-evolved with over millennia—had to be “improved” by Food Science.

As a result, the processed-food industry and industrial agriculture has changed our diet, decade by decade, not by accident but by intention.

That we need nutritionists and doctors to teach us how to eat is a sad reflection of the state of society. These are things our grandparents knew without thinking twice about them. What foods to eat, how to prepare them, and an understanding of why you should share them in family and community have been embedded in cultural traditions since the dawn of human society.

One hundred years ago all we ate was local, organic food; grass-fed, real, whole food. There were no fast-food restaurants, there was no junk food, there was no frozen food—there was just what your mother or grandmother made. Most meals were eaten at home. In the modern age that tradition, that knowledge, is being lost.

The sustainability of our planet, our health, and our food supply are inextricably linked. The ecology of eating—the importance of what you put on your fork—has never been more critical to our survival as a nation or as a species. The earth will survive our self-destruction. But we may not.

Common sense and scientific research lead us to the conclusion that if we want healthy bodies we must put the right raw materials in them: real; whole; local; fresh; unadulterated; unprocessed; and chemical-, hormone-, and antibiotic-free food. There is no role for foreign molecules such as trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup, or for industrially developed and processed food that interferes with our biology at every level.

That is why I believe the most important and the most powerful tool you have to change your health and the world is your fork. Imagine an experiment—let’s call it a celebration: We call upon the people of the world to join together and celebrate food for one week. For one week or even one day, we all eat breakfast and dinner at home with our families or friends. For one week we all eat only real, whole, fresh food. Imagine for a moment the power of the fork to change the world.

The extraordinary thing is that we have the ability to move large corporations and create social change by our collective choices. We can reclaim the family dinner, reviving and renewing it. Doing so will help us learn how to find and prepare real food quickly and simply, teach our children by example how to connect, build security, safety and social skills, meal after meal, day after day, year after year.

Here are some tips that will help you take back the family dinner in your home starting today.

Reclaim Your Kitchen

Throw away any foods with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fats or sugar or fat as the first or second ingredient on the label. Fill your shelves with real fresh, whole, local foods when possible. And join a community support agriculture network to get a cheaper supply of fresh vegetables weekly or frequent farmers markets.

Reinstate the Family Dinner

Read Laurie David’s The Family Dinner. She suggests the following guidelines: Make a set dinnertime, no phones or texting during dinner, everyone eats the same meal, no television, only filtered or tap water, invite friends and family, everyone clean up together.

Eat Together

No matter how modest the meal, create a special place to sit down together, and set the table with care and respect. Savor the ritual of the table. Mealtime is a time for empathy and generosity, a time to nourish and communicate.

Learn How to Cook and Shop

You can make this a family activity, and it does not need to take a ton of time. Keep meals quick and simple.

Plant a Garden

This is the most nutritious, tastiest, environmentally friendly food you will ever eat.

Conserve, Compost, and Recycle

Bring your own shopping bags to the market, recycle your paper, cans, bottles and plastic and start a compost bucket (and find where in your community you can share you goodies).

Invest in Food

As Alice Waters says, food is precious. We should treat it that way. Americans currently spend less than 10 percent of their income on food, while most European’s spend about 20 percent of their income on food. We will be more nourished by good food than by more stuff. And we will save ourselves much money and costs over our lifetime.

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Get started today!  Get your copy of The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook  today.  

Originally posted on my site, DrHyman.com

 

Rebecca Pacheco: I Have a Mouse Problem

Hello? Are you there?Yesterday, I made two disturbing discoveries. One: I was living with a mouse. Specifically, this unwanted house guest ravaged one of my cabinets in a binge that included gnawing through 2 packages of polenta, 1 large bag of organic Irish steel cut oats (which are expensive by the way), leaving bite marks on the cap of a bottle of cooking oil, and then, running around throwing handfuls of cocoa powder in the air like he was having some kind of 1 mouse, 1 shade of chocolate brown, Color Run. I even heard the little jerk over the weekend and reasoned with myself I was imagining things. I think the lesson here is: trust thyself… and store your grains in glass jars.

Two: the trackpad of my computer stopped functioning last night. The trackpad, as you likely know, serves as a computer’s mouse on laptops  So, yes, I have a mouse in my home and faulty mouse on my computer.

I have a mouse problem.

Laugh it up, everyone.

I couldn’t believe how scared and angry one little mouse could make me. (To be fair, he chewed some massive holes, so I thought he must be a hideous rat, initially). I stared at his mess for a good 10-minutes before taking a deep breath, rolling up my dish gloves, and saying to my salad tongs, “We’re going in.” I removed the food, cleaned up, and lined the empty shelves with Bounce dryer sheets for the meantime. The Internet says mice do not like the smell of them. Ditto peppermint, cloves, or cayenne pepper. Such dummies, cayenne is awesome for boosting metabolism, fighting inflammation, and strengthening immunity.

I put my writing on hold and proceeded to the Apple store this morning with its lack of mice and abundance of mouses to sit patiently on the sidewalk with all the other people standing outside before it opens, like we were waiting to buy tickets for some kind of mini concert for nerds inside. I couldn’t part with my machine today, so I made an appointment to return later.

Thankfully, both nuisances will be remedied soon. My boyfriend bought me a mouse—the computer kind—so that I could write today and pledged to help ward off the other mouse tonight. I can’t even take credit for the joke about having a mouse problem. He made the quip while I was still seeing red, err, cocoa.  Witty, isn’t he?

If misery loves company, I’m pretty sure it loves a good pun and a guy who will save you from said mouse problems even more. It makes me realize that these problems aren’t so bad after all, and the disturbances in a given day don’t reveal only the precious time or steel cut oats that get eaten up but, also, the people, places, and things that help us restock our shelves, reboot our computers, and reframe our perspective.

 

Originally published on my website, Om Gal.

9 Steps to Make Your Home a Haven of Happiness

North bedroom with Nermal the grey catBefore you apply your feng shui cures, you need to clear out the clutter in your home. When you clean up your home, you rid it of stagnant and unhealthy energy. Most of us have too many things we don’t actually need, and in getting rid of them, we create space for the cures to work.

1. If the idea of clearing out the clutter in your home seems overwhelming, then focus on one room at a time or one area in the room at a time, or even one drawer at a time, if necessary. As the famous saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” so be kind to yourself, but do complete the task. The first step to shifting energy in your home and in your life is to make room for new and fresh energy to come in.

2. If you haven’t used an item in the last six months, or a year at the most, then give it away to someone who might need it more than you. You will find enormous freedom in letting go of the objects and clothes that you really don’t need anymore and you may even find the act of giving to those in need to be motivational.

3. Make sure you do not have an excessive amount of furniture, as too much bulk can stop the flow of chi around your home. There needs to be space for energy to flow and for you to move through your home with ease, without bumping into anything.

4. Do not just hide everything in a garage or an attic and pretend that you have gotten rid of it. The garage and attic are also considered parts of your home and you need to treat them as such.

5. Fix anything that is broken in your home. If you are having problems with the doors, windows, roof or any other part of the house structure, then fix it. You also want to make sure all the systems are in good working order and flowing well, which means the water, gas and electricity in your home.

6. If you think that your entire home or a particular room needs to be cleansed, you can wash the walls with water infused with nine drops of pure lavender or citrus essence in a bucket. This helps to cleanse the room of any old, stagnant energy.

7. Painting draws new energy into a home. If you have moved into a new home, then make sure that you paint the walls and deep clean the carpets to get rid of the energy of the previous occupants.

8. If you want to use color on one or all of your walls in different rooms, here are a few suggestions:

Kitchen—White is a great color for cleanliness.

Living Room or Family Room—Earth tones are very relaxing and grounding and have a capacity to draw people together.

Blue or green also add life to these rooms.

Bedroom—Peach, light blue and green are excellent choices.

Children’s Room—White, green or blue in your children’s rooms will help them to flourish.

9. If you want to quickly remove the energy in your home after a few difficult weeks or months, then open all the windows and doors for a few hours and let the chi from outside flow through and clear your living space. You may also want to place a bouquet of fresh flowers in the middle of your home to enhance the cleansing process.

 

From How Happy Is Your Home?: 50 Great Tips to Bring More Health, Wealth and Happiness into Your Home By Sophie Keller

 

Originally published December 2011

3 Ways to Design Your Home for Maximum Happiness

There's No Remedy For Memory

There are many possible sources of discomfort and discontent, ranging from relationship troubles, to financial woes, to self-esteem, and more. One common source, though, which is often overlooked, is your environment and home space. Even something as simple as the shade of a wall or placement of a bed can affect your mood and take a toll on your daily life. Luckily, there are several essential warning signs to look out for, and some simple fixes to achieve the healthy and healing space you deserve.

In the July/August edition of Spirituality & Health magazine, design expert Laura Benko discusses some common sources of design-induced discomfort, with tips on how to adjust these influences. Here are 3 of the 6 tips, and check out Spirituality & Health for the rest of the article!

1. Build Confidence. Piles of unfinished work, clothing, paperwork and other clutter can indicate procrastination and induce a sense of fear that you are getting behind. Mitigate this worry and build confidence at the same time by organizing odds and ends and getting started on some of the tasks on your to-do list.

2. Build Self-Esteem. Did you know that hanging artwork and mirrors too high on the wall can lead to a feeling of never measuring up? As a rule, artwork should be roughly 5 feet from center to floor so that you see it directly at eye level. As you view your wall hangings, remind yourself of the realistic expectations you set for yourself and the achievability of your goals.

3. Embrace Change. Decorations and decor that have not been updated in ages can induce or perpetuate a fear of change and uncertainly. Break the mold by moving some furniture around, hanging a new piece of artwork, or getting a plant. Give yourself a new perspective on your space and, as a result, a fresh outlook on your life and future.

Do you have any other holistic design tips? Let us know in the comments section!

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SH_JulyAug_CVR_lrg**CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED**
Spirituality & Health
is a magazine for people who want to explore the spiritual journey and wake up to our capacity for self-healing, vitality, and resiliency. Read whole article on holistic design in the July-August edition of Spirituality & Health, on newsstands now! Get your first issue FREE here.

Would you like to win a FREE year-long subscription to Spirituality & Health magazine?

This month, Intent is giving away 5 year-long subscriptions to Spirituality & Health magazine. To enter, simply comment below with your favorite empowering quote. Be sure to include your name and email so we can contact you if you win.

 

Tips to Avoid Harmful Chemicals and Make Your Home a Healing Space

Δ†In the naturopathic profession, often one of the first challenges a doctor will tackle in working with a new patient is to determine and remove the “barriers to cure” – things that are interfering with the body’s ability to heal. In the past, I’ve written about treatments for common barriers to cure such as insufficient sleep, food sensitivities and seasonal allergies. I’ve learned through many patient experiences that no matter how amazing a medical treatment or how hard I work, a patient will be hard-pressed to truly heal as long as barriers stand in the way.

Often, some of the toughest barriers to remove are allergens and irritants in the home.  Chemical usage in home products has skyrocketed in the past few decades. Everything from laundry detergent to stain-resistant carpets, air-freshener sprays and synthetic-fiber bedding is a source of chemicals that put stress on our livers and immune systems. If you’re not aware of what I’m talking about, here’s a touching video from Healthy Child Healthy World that puts this issue into focus, especially as it impacts children (who are even more susceptible to the negative impacts of these chemicals than most adults).

My mother happens to be a Seattle-based interior designer with a fluency in eco-design and hypo-allergenic products for the home. While visiting her recently, I took some time to ask her for resources and tips she could share for those of us who are looking for ways to create a healthier home environment. The following are highlights from our conversation:

Q: What kinds of materials and treated fabrics are best to avoid in order to minimize chemical exposure?

A: Ideally, avoid anything synthetic. Synthetic materials, such as polyesters and acrylics, contain chemicals that can be harmful.  In addition to the material itself, these types of products are often treated with other chemicals to make them stain-resistant or otherwise “low-maintenance”. Unfortunately, buying convenience can also mean having to live with toxins that can be harmful to health. Terms like “easy care”, “water-repellant”, “no iron”, “anti-cling”, “static-free” and “flame retardant” are all signs that the product may be treated with harmful chemicals.

Q: What are some of the healthiest and least allergenic fibers to look for when choosing fabrics and floor coverings for a home?

A: The easiest rule of thumb is to stick with natural fibers. Linen, hemp, ramie, and abaca are all natural fibers that are hypo-allergenic and tend to be free from additional chemical treatments. When possible, look for organic textiles, not just organically grown materials, but products that are processed using organic-compliant compounds. Sometime a material will be organic, but then it’s processed with a harsh, non-organic dye and that can defeat the health benefits of sourcing the original organic material.

Q: In general terms, how to you suggest approaching the design of an eco-friendly and hypo-allergenic space?

A: Keep the space free of clutter where dust and allergens can accumulate. Opt for wood or tile floors and avoid carpet. Use natural fibers for window coverings, like wood-based plantation shutters instead of heavy fabric curtains. Optimize air circulation by strategically placing doors and windows to optimize air flow and utilize the air-filtering mechanisms of plants to improve air quality.

Q: Are there certain products, brands and resources you can suggest for people who are looking for products or just want more information on how to make smart choices when it comes to creating a health-promoting space?

A: The following are all great resources to check out:

  • O Ecotextiles is a Seattle-based textile company that creates luxurious fabrics that are non-toxic, ethical and sustainable. Not only do I love their products, but they are leading experts on this topic and their website has an incredible amount of information for how to make smart choices for the home.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are harmful chemicals often found in paint and other home-based textiles. This site does a great job of explaining the dangers of VOCs, what products typically contain them and how they can be avoided.
  • Unique Carpets, Ltd. sells eco-friendly floor coverings made from natural fibers that are treated in an environmentally-safe way. If you are looking for floor coverings to soften a space, this brand is a great option to check out.

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4 Tips to Make Your Home Office Less Stressful

Home OfficeBy Jessica Snow

Working from home is an excellent way to make a living while balancing other crucial aspects of life. And depending on your family’s dynamic, it could be the only way you’re able to work. The flexibility of having an office at home makes it possible to raise small children without having to foot the cost of childcare providers, and otherwise reduces travel expenses most people accrue by commuting.

This option can be remarkably convenient, but all the distractions that tend to come with this setup can give it the potential to be disastrously stressful. There are a few things to keep in mind as you’re setting up your office that will help make it the most productive space it can be.

1. Keep Energy Positive With Feng Shui Principles

Keep your office as far away from your bedroom as possible. This will help you mentally separate work from home life by eliminating possible distractions and temptations. Also, position your desk area so that your back is to a wall. Sit at the desk so that you can see out a window or through a doorway. Keeping your immediate surroundings open and not boxing yourself in will help prevent anxiety and promote a positive outlook.

2. Prevent Clutter

According to Feng Shui consultant Natalia Kaylin, “Clutter is vicious, it takes many forms, and is the biggest contributor to stress.” Reduce the possibility to accumulate stressful clutter by installing a filing system to keep records organized, and make a conscious effort to keep unneeded supplies and knick-knacks at bay.

3. Let The Light In

The plants you use to decorate your office will need a certain amount of natural light, as will yourself. Let as much sunlight into your workspace as you can, as this is the purest form of light. Avoid using fluorescent lights if at all possible. Over-exposure to fluorescent lighting has been known to cause or worsen migraines, headaches, eye strain, and anxiety. You’ll want to find a balance between having enough light that you can see your computer monitor and read freely, but not so much that your eyes become strained.

Choose the right shades for your office that will let in the right amount of light, and the environment in your workspace will be ideal for producing your best work.

4. Purify Air With De-Stressing Plants

Houseplants are a lovely way to decorate a home office. If you choose the right plants though, they will do so much more. Ivy, Peace Lilies, and bamboo palms have been known to have air-purifying qualities in addition to their peaceful beauty.

The home office is supposed to be a very productive, practical space, so it’s understandable that decorating it may not be at the top of your list of things to do. You’re human though, so a workspace that doesn’t accommodate that will not be conducive to productivity. Keep these tips in mind while you’re setting up your space. Your office will be an inviting, positive place to be, and your work will reflect that.

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Jessica Snow is a young writer from sunny Florida who enjoys learning and writing about a myriad of topics. When shes not glued to her laptop you can find her running the trails with her Great Dane, Charlie

My Box: A Reflection on the Limitations of Our Reality

livinginabox-1I don’t even know where to begin, where I begin anymore, where it begins and where it ends and how I fit into any of it anymore and for that matter (lol – matter!) what it even is.

I’ve just arrived back in the box I call home that is a box within a box, surrounded by millions and millions of boxes after having spent 3 days filming interviews with some of today’s leading minds on consciousness, physics, metaphysics, mysticism, and religion, and my mind is blown.

Okay, just so you know I am making another BLEEP. It won’t be out for another year… it will be released for the 10-year anniversary of the original. It will be a completely new film, and it won’t be what you expect, it’s certainly not what I expected. But after 43 years, I’ve learned to expect the unexpected, especially when it comes to what I think I know, and what I realize I don’t, which is why my carefully created reality is currently in the midst of being blown up. Because one cannot explore the great questions about us, the nature of us, the nature of reality and the meanings we attach to all of it without having your mind blown. Without having your foundation shaken and waking up to the realization that everything you were worrying about before you opened your mouth and asked the question really means…nothing.

Before I headed out to film these interviews, my life was full of: how am I going to pay the rent, why hasn’t that guy called, my kids need new shoes, and the dog seriously needs a bath…Even as I experienced a sense of awareness about how those things impact my experience in life, it certainly didn’t stop me from being boxed in by walls I build in order to feel grounded in something, even if it is, worry and fear. I am human living the human experience after all.

But somehow, tonight, as I arrived back on my doorstep of my old reality, none of that seems to mean much anymore. As I opened the door everything that was once known about this place felt unknown, and I feel like I’m not sure I belong here. It’s not a bad thing, I could make it that, but I know now that this is what it feels like to expand my sense of reality, to see and experience more than what I was before I went down that rabbit hole.

This expansion of my awareness actually started a few weeks before I started doing interviews for the new film. It’s an on going process, but this little jump in wakefulness began as I finished my next book. It’s complicated to explain, I will do my best to put words to an experience that probably doesn’t fit our current language. This is one of my present quandaries, language…and how I use it and if I’m actually using language that truly reflects the experience I am having. Is there a word that can accurately describe it? I will try using the only language I have at the moment.

One night after writing for hours about how we humans work, how we attach meanings and pick up beliefs and how they rule our reality, writing about my box, I suddenly felt drained, more tired than I had felt in a long time.  I couldn’t write another word, I could barely carry myself into the house to sleep. I finally made it to bed, but even as exhausted as I felt, I could not sleep. I lay there staring at the ceiling. I should add that I recently moved into a new house, one with very small perfectly square bedrooms.

So I laid there looking up at my brilliantly white ceiling, and I noticed I could actually see all four corners of my room, and at the same time I could feel all four corners of my bed and I realized I was laying on a box, within a box. I contemplated my box, both literally and figuratively, the box outside and my box inside. I closed my eyes and took myself up and saw my new house, which is essentially a box, each room a box within the box that is my house, the center of my universe, so to speak.

I rose higher into the sky and saw my house, situated within a fenced box that was my yard, and as I rose higher and higher into space I saw that we had all, all of humanity, for the most part, built boxes so that we could live in them. We drive around boxes and shop in boxes and eat in boxes and out of boxes, and that we spend most of our time trying to get out of the box, but how could we if we had surrounded ourselves with them.

We had, in fact, created a reality of boxes seemingly so impossible to break free from, that no wonder we feel constrained and locked in and unable to expand. We spend most of our lives worrying about the mundane because it fits nicely into our box, the one we built around ourselves, it holds the pictures of our past, meticulously hung upon the walls of our boxes to keep our minds firmly rooted in their memory. Locked safely in our boxes.

And then I went away for the better part of a month, away from my box, away from my pictures and the stuff that makes me feel safe within my box, so familiar it’s scents, it’s sounds it’s quiet hum of the air conditioner that I am lulled into a false peaceful slumber. With my worries and my stress and my fears all tucked in and snug within my box causing me to forget that there is magic and wonder in my world, if only I would look outside my perfectly square windows to see it.

For a long time in my life I thought I was expanding my box, but alas, I was simply rearranging the stuff in my box, the box was still small and encapsulated in many many other boxes, but it always felt claustrophobic and with too much stuff, which made it harder to move. I have over the last few years, cleaned out my box, sold off some of my stuff, and accumulated less stuff to replace the stuff I had sold off. But the room was still small, and I could always see the corners closing in.

So while I was away, I began to question the box I had built, I considered all I had let go of, that although my box was pretty empty, it was still a box. What does one do next I wondered? Is it possible to get out of the box? And then I sat for hours and days listening to and talking with such great minds about the magic and wonder, and after hearing how amazing this reality is and the possibilities for us, I came home and my box felt small, and alien, I couldn’t cross the threshold back into the box of my past. I examined all the stuff in my box, my pictures and things that held the frequency of my past and while I still felt in a very tiny part of me connected to them, I understood that I could no longer allow them to hold me in my old state of space and time, I closed my eyes as I entered my house and saw my box expand, I felt the walls push outward, it felt roomier, it felt….hmmm I just can’t think of a word, maybe there just isn’t one yet.

It’s interesting to me that I still saw a box, I am not yet ready to declare “I’m out of my box!” And that’s okay for now. It is a process, the opening our boxes. I will delight in the unwrapping of them, a gift in each new understanding, with every opportunity to expand into the it that is…

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