Thursday, 25 February 2016

Dealing With Grief

After finding out my step-mum had bladder cancer and her chances of survival were slim I understandably went into an emotional tailspin. I was overcome by grief.

I spent most nights unable to sleep because I couldn't stop crying and thinking about her not being around any more. I was plagued by insomnia and stayed up watching TV for hours until the TV screen lulled me into a deeply tired state, where I would then crawl into bed and sleep most of the next morning away. Days were spent in a zombie state of mind, unable to focus and, to be honest, not really feeling like doing much. It has been hard going for sure - as I'm sure a fair few of you will be able to relate to.

One thing I wasn't prepared for is the reality of cancer. In movies people with cancer, even though bald and gaunt, are smiling and talking up to their final moments, and for all appearances drift peacefully away surrounded by loved ones. The reality of cancer is the body literally starves to death as patients slowly become unable to eat or drink no matter how thirsty they are. Faculties and mobility stop functioning as organs shut down and the body grows more weak. In the case of my step-mum she took two weeks to starve and die of thirst while being doped up with drugs so that the experience was as comfortable as possible (if that's even possible). It was hard for loved ones to see and I'd like to think she was not aware of what was happening to her, yet the reality is we don't really know how much she was aware of. What we do know is 4 days before she passed away she was told by nursing staff that she was dying. Until then she'd thought she was in hospital to get better and return home.

For around two weeks I was eating a handful of chocolate a day in an attempt to give my body fake serotonin levels (this is even before my step-mum passed away). Though obviously I realised I can't keep this up, chocolate isn't so good for me (all that sugar) and it's not necessarily a good way to cope. Although it's only natural to cope in what ever way we can, it is still important to find natural healthy ways to cope with grief.

After my step-mum passed away I began to crave floral scents, which is strange for me as I tend to find floral scents too sneezy and avoid them at all costs. Yet here I was purchasing floral incense sticks that I've been burning regularly and I've been using jasmine essential oil diffused in an oil burner - jasmine is particularly good for easing depression and easing the grief associated with the loss of a loved one.

natural vegan bath salts by JOLI

My step-mum loved floral scents, especially rose, and coincidentally one essential oil blend I have for grief contains rose. Mix 5 drops of cypress, 3 drops marjoram and 2 drops of rose in an oil burner with water.

To aid with depression, mix 4 drops grapefruit, 3 drops geranium and 3 drops palmarosa in an oil burner with water.

These essential oil blends won't bring her back, obviously, and don't make the sadness go away completely. The point is not to bring about delirious happiness and bury the sadness and not have to deal with it. The aim is to aid with healing as naturally as possible while allowing the mind and body to grieve her passing and come to terms with her soul / life force leaving this earth.


Thursday, 11 February 2016

Can We Cure Cancer?

According to a book I've got in my library on 10,000 years of human genetics, cancer came about once we began farming and consuming grains in large quantities and using them as a large staple of our diet. Before then we ate a diverse variety of foods such as high antioxident berries and high protein foods such as nuts and mushrooms.

Although our diet might have been paleo we tended to eat small portions of meat. Meat was definitely NOT processed (bacon, sausages, patties etc) and the animals were not grain fed or stuffed with chemicals, antibiotics and such. Grain feeding came about when we began to also farm animals. Living along side live stock made us sick as we began to come into contact with unknown diseases (think of things like swine flu, bird flu, rabies, bubonic plague).

Now I can't say for sure that there was no such thing as cancer prior to 10,000 years ago (and I'm guessing nor can anyone else confirm this since there are no written records from this time), yet many of us are vastly aware that cancer is spreading and becoming more and more common place as the years go by. Add to that the fact that we're also using more and more synthetic chemicals in our day to day lives and these substances have the power to alter our genetics causing families to become prone to certain cancers (i.e. those who were present when nuclear testing first began).

The irony is that the advent of farming and living aside live stock gave those who lived this way stronger immune systems (think of the effects on natives coming into contact with people from the Western world, illness that they survived all but wiped native populations out).

Where do we turn to from here? What can we do to reduce our chances of cancer? Can genetics be altered so that families are no longer prone to cancers?

I cannot answer the last question because if it could be done I've no idea how many generations it would take to have an effect. However, this is a GREAT place to start:

  • Eat diets high in antioxidants (brightly coloured fruits and vegetables) and mix your diet up with a variety of many different fruits, vegetables and nuts
  • Reduce the amount of grains you eat
  • Eat organically
  • If you eat meat, eat less meat (I believe The Truth About Meat said a good ratio is around 40-100gm a day - 3 days a week)
  • Eat less red meat
  • Avoid eating meats that are processed and have chemical additives
  • Grow your own vegetables (if possible)
  • Go green as much as possible and find ways to reduce consumption of plastic packaging and wastage
  • Use clean skin care and cleaning products or make your own 
  • Get educated by experts who can teach you ways to live clean
  • Avoid petroleum / mineral oil based products
  • Avoid germ killing products
  • Get more sunlight (vitamin D has it's own cancer fighting properties)
  • Limit your alcohol and sugar intake and quit smoking
In this blog I've written numerous articles on how to be more green, what concerns there are related to man made chemicals in mainstream products, what to avoid, how to avoid them... All in the HOPES of reducing the amount of harmful substances people come into contact with. The main aim with JOLI is to reduce the worlds' chemical foot print because regardless of how often we're told 'it's safe' I will never fully be convinced and with cancer on the rise it is important to me, and many others, that we try and reduce those statistics.

Please join me in my crusade and help us change the world for the better.


Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Starting a Vegetable Garden

I've set myself a goal this year to set up a vegetable / fruit garden. For us to grow our own food organically.

It's always been important for me to move away from mainstream products that use chemicals and for us as a family to try and consume less, and over the years I've switched my skin care and cleaning products, and I've been making some of my own food items such as: lemon butter, lemon cordial, lemon verbena tea, lemon sorbet, pickled olives, chilli sauce, Italian herb mix, marmalade (we call larmalade because we make it with lemons), dolma, parsley pesto... but I want to be more self sufficient.

It would be nice to be able to trust that the food we're purchasing from large supermarket chains is not sprayed with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers (synthesized from oil to replace the soils natural recycling process), or that companies tell the truth when they claim these chemicals aren't bad for us and aren't killing off the bees. Yet, with debacles like tobacco, asbestos, copper IUD, the first female contraceptive pill etc. it is easy to mistrust companies that tell us these things are 'safe'.
The good news is Australia have the highest amount of organically grown produce in the world, so yay us!

when to plant and harvest
The first step has been to determine the types of foods we want to grown and eat so I sat down with my children and asked them to list some foods they think we should grow. They were even suggesting foods they don't like, because I like them.

The second step has been to determine when to plant and when to harvest, and what plants need in terms of nutrients, because up til now I've not know the first thing about any of this. I purchased the book The Australian Fruit & Vegetable Garden which has been a great reference for when to plant for my climate and how long produce takes to ripen and when it should be harvested. Also how to prune and grow the plants.

The third step will be building and creating spaces to put the fruit and vegetables. My garden is not huge, we live on a small block of land (the new Australian norm) and most of my garden is already taken up with natives. So space will be a challenge. The good news is most of the boundary along the east wall (that gets the most sun) is bare.

The list we've come up with so far is:

broccoli    brussells    garlic    onion*    potato*    spring onion*    cabbage    carrot    cauliflower    lettuce    corn    cucumber    sunflour    tomato    zucchini    capsicum    chilli*    rockmelon    watermelon    basil    chives    coriander     pumpkin*    beans    apples    apricots     figs    almonds    blueberry    peppermint (for tea)    passion fruit    sage (mine died)    prickly pear*    herbs* [rosemary, oregano, lavender, curry, bay, thyme, fennel, parsley, spearmint, Thai mint (laska leaves), lemon grass]   lemons*    olives*    grapes*    capers    coffee beans*    cherries*    lemon verbena*    avocado

*already growing (though not necessarily successfully)

Plus a handful of flowers that attract bees and other insects that protect fruit and vegetables from insects that eat the plants such as: marigold and Queen Anne's lace, chamomile, daisies, poppies*...

It won't happen over night, I'll have to purchase plants, soil and pots in dribs and drabs because it won't be cheap or simple setting all this up. The plan of action is to purchase a handful of seeds and fruit trees that are ready to plant now, that I have the space for already, and grow the garden from there, adding plants as I go.

Hopefully by this time next year I will have a successful vegetable garden and of course I'll keep you posted on the progress.