Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Compost Tips

Turn your kitchen scraps into “black gold” and make your own compost. Compost is the super-rich, crumbly soil that is made when dead plants and leaves are broken down by worms and microorganisms and it is super-rich fertilizer for your plants and trees. To make compost, save organic waste—vegetable and fruit parts, coffee grounds, tea, eggshells, brown paper products, grass and plant clippings. Do not add animal leftovers, dairy products, oils or waste.

Set up a three-sided stall or purchase a recycled plastic tumbling composter. (An added benefit to a tumbling composter is that it allows you to collect liquid fertilizer as well as the solid compost. Liquid fertilizer is great for indoor and outdoor plants.) Composting requires four elements to work: oxygen, water, carbon and nitrogen. Carbon is created from brown or dry materials such as brown paper bags, newspapers and leaves. Nitrogen is created from green or wet materials like fruit and vegetables, weeds and plants.

If you set up a stall for your compost, alternate layers of browns and greens, add some water, and cover with a tarp. With a tumbler, everything goes in and you roll it around. Add water as needed. Microbes will eat the mixture and the temperature heats up as material is broken down. When the pile cools to ninety or one hundred degrees, it is done and you have rich compost!

Excerpt from Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet.

Toxic Chemicals in Your Home

Virtually every object used in building your home and the objects within it—the insulation in your house, your sofa, food storage containers, floor cleaners and even fabric softener—impacts both your health and the health of the planet. Unfortunately, in spite of the “all natural” or “safe” labels that are included on some of these products, many of them are unhealthy.

The good news is that concurrent with growing consumer awareness of the dangers in ordinary household objects is an increase in the availability of environmentally-friendly and human-healthy choices as manufacturers acknowledge and try to meet this burgeoning market.

Nowhere has the impact of the average consumer been greater than in the food industry, fueling the rise in the availability of organic food. Organic retail sales have grown an astonishing twenty percent per year since 1990—compared with an increase of between two and four percent of total food sales in United States.

As desire for organic food grows, so does the demand for healthful products of all kinds. Even though the major manufacturers are aware that there is a demand for healthful products, the vast majority of them are still not offering them. Although many businesses appear to be providing environmentally-friendly and healthful products; beware of the company that advertises its product with terms that are unregulated—such as “natural.” “Natural,” when used to describe shampoo, is usually a complete misnomer—the shampoo may be filled with synthetic chemicals and might contain only minute amounts of truly natural ingredients, such as jojoba or honey.

In addition, the government has historically allowed unsafe products to be sold as safe in this country. The use of lead is a great example. In 1909, eight European countries banned the use of white lead for interior painting. It took half a century for the United States to catch up—lead was not banned in paint and gasoline in this country until the 1970’s and 1980’s respectively.

Today, there are still thousands of toxic products being sold. To exacerbate the problem, manufacturers continue to pollute our air, water and land. There is no way to avoid all contamination while living on earth, but this chapter provides practical information and tips to help protect you from excessive exposure to the variety of pollutants that most of us are subjected to.

In addition to providing tips on how and what to purchase to live in an environment free from toxins that are made from cheap, unsustainable methods, this chapter explains how to eliminate nearly all pollutants from your home. You may be shocked to discover that many seemingly harmless household products contain dangerous chemicals. However, most of these products can be easily removed and replaced and some will lose their toxicity over time, so you needn’t panic and think everything in your house must be replaced. For example, freshly installed wall-to-wall carpeting emits toxic gases into the environment; however, carpeting stops outgassing six months to a year following installation. Another example is painting your walls with paint containing volatile organic compounds (VOC’s): the damage is already done, the paint stops outgassing and you may as well wait until the next time to use an eco-friendly paint.

Indoor pollution greatly increased after the end of World War II, with mass-produced housing. These new houses were made with new, lightweight materials, materials that were produced by the petrochemical industry. These products, made from petrochemicals, release chemicals into the air—through a process known as outgassing. Outgassing is the slow release from the material of chemical residues used in the manufacturing process into the atmosphere. They include VOC’s and many other petrochemical derivatives. Materials made from petrochemicals include plywood, particleboard, carpeting, vinyl flooring, adhesives, paints, fabrics and much more.

Excerpt from Chapter 1, Harmonious Environment, Copyright 2007.

Safely Clean Mold, Mildew and Scum

No matter how diligent you are, you probably get mold, mildew and scum in your shower. Most commercial cleaners made to clean showers are very strong and unhealthy to breathe. Bleach is especially dangerous to your health.

Here is a wonderful alternative that has virtually no smell and is completely non-toxic.

You will need:

Hydrogen peroxide

castille soap

Baking soda


Microfiber cloth or a rag

Mix a few drops of soap, about an ounce of peroxide and a handful of soda into a bowl. Dip a microfiber cloth into mix and apply to mold and scum. Work small sections at time, replenishing mixture when necessary. Don't make a lot at once, as the fizz created when combining ingredients acts to remove mold and scum.
Scrub with brush if necessary and rinse.

For a free guide to other non-toxic cleaning products, go to: http://www.harmoniousenvironment.com/From%20Toxic%20to%20Safe%20and%20Healthy.htm.

For many more tips, read the award winning book,

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Chi, or Energy, Even Affects Dogs!

Everything on and of the earth has energy—a continuum from the highest vibrational positive life-force energy to the lowest vibrational negative energy. The earth itself has positive and negative energies that affect its living inhabitants. Buildings and other structures have energy and absorb either negative or positive energy, or a combination of both. Plants are able to absorb negative energy (such as toxins) and convert them to clean, fresh energy in the form of oxygen (air). Animals, including humans, can pick up and create both positive and negative energy.

Some animals, including dogs and cows, seek out positive energy. Cats, conversely, prefer negative energy. If you have ever wondered why your cat is drawn to friends or family who dislike them, this is the reason. Given the opportunity, cows in a pasture will graze in the areas that emit positive energy.

I had my own validation of the difference in energy early on in my practice of dowsing. Several years ago, by dowsing, I cleared (removed negative energy) from a client’s newly purchased condo. The next day, she called me and told me that her dog, who had always slept in a particular spot on her bed in her old apartment, and who had refused to sleep in that spot in the new condo— was now back to sleeping in “her spot” on the bed. When I had doused my client’s bed, I had detected and cleared negative energies. It was a wonderful validation of my work. Obviously, the dog could not understand what I was doing, but recognized the difference in the energy afterwards.

Like dogs, humans feel best when surrounded with positive, life-force energy. And, just like dogs and cows, we know when we are surrounded by positive or negative energy. For many of us, this knowing is hidden from our general state of awareness and may be completely ignored. But our bodies are paying attention; they respond to dramatic shifts in energy—either positive or negative—but if we do not understand the signs, we may disregard them.

For example, have you ever entered an indoor or outdoor space (like a beautiful park) and suddenly felt peace and joy? You were entering a place filled with positive life-force energy. Conversely, a sudden sensation of fear, anxiety or aggressiveness would be a result of strong negative energy. The energy that surrounds us matters to our sense of well-being. And it also affects our level of stress and therefore our health.

Replacing negative or disturbed energy with positive, life-force energy is an important aspect of creating a harmonious environment. In virtually all cultures throughout history, the awareness of life-force energy has been of paramount importance. The goal of all these cultures is to make a space feel good. The Chinese call this energy chi, the Japanese Ki, the East Indians prana, and some Native American Indians, Mana.

Low, negative energy in a person manifests itself as fear, depression, illness or anger. High, positive energy in a person manifests itself as love and joy. Surrounding yourself with positive energy in your home and workspace will help fill you with glorious energy—and love and joy will come to you!

When a space feels heavy or makes you feel uncomfortable, it needs to be cleared. Negative energy is a result of many different factors. Some examples are dirt, clutter or disturbed earth energies. Illness, anger and fear in present or past occupants of a space will create negative energy.

If you clear your home and work spaces, you will be better equipped to face the inevitable negative energies that you will encounter in public spaces, because the majority of your time will be spent in positive energy which boosts your immune system against the negative.

What is Negative Energy in Public Spaces?

Negative energy can occur anywhere, including buildings, places in nature and in cities. When you are in an area where violence has occurred—physical, mental or verbal—there will be negative energy. There are also negative earth energies. Technology, such as electrical power stations, emits negative energy.

Virtually all of us are aware of negative energy, at least subliminally. You might have experienced the feeling of entering a place and suddenly feeling desperate to leave—for no apparent reason. Or, you may be walking in a section of a city and suddenly sense your adrenaline pumping and experience fear—yet nothing out of the ordinary is happening. You are picking up the negative energy in an area.

You may pick up on the negative energy from technology. I find it painful to shop in an electronic store, for example. The energy and all the positive ions in the air from the electricity emitted from the appliances makes me nauseous, tired and light-headed. (Note: negative ions are positive energy. Negative ions are odorless, tasteless and invisible molecules that make us feel good. They are found atop mountains, in forests, surrounding waterfalls and beaches. Negative ions produce biochemical reactions in our bodies that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, which helps to ease depression, alleviate stress and enhance our daytime energy.)

What is happening is a swift change in emotions as you enter a negative area. If you are feeling happy and serene, for example, and enter a space with negative energy, your sudden experience of anxiety, fear or anger is a direct result of the surrounding negative energy.

Sometimes negative energy just happens—like in a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam. You are in your happy mode, when suddenly the freeway is at a standstill. People are honking and cursing—and you find yourself abruptly feeling angry and aggressive. You have picked up on the collective consciousness.

Negative energy in buildings can show itself physically with mold and dampness. If particular areas are affected with negative energy, these areas can feel colder than the rest of the space for no apparent reason. You may get goosebumps or shiver—even though the place is warm. Sometimes the space feels heavy on your person. If the energy is dark enough, the hairs on your neck or arms may stand on end.

When you feel the effects of negative energy in public, try to simply experience the emotions you suffer and allow them to pass. In other words, if you are in a public space feeling fine and suddenly your mood changes and you feel depressed, chances are pretty good that you are simply picking up the low energy around you. Note it—the experience of depression—and let it go. If you cannot shake the negative feelings, encompass them with love and compassion and they will eventually disappear, because the negative charge will lose its strength against the stronger, positive emotions. Think: are you going to observe anger (depression, fear) or let it rule you?

Another option is to visualize golden light—filled with love and compassion—to be surrounding and protecting you. This exercise can be beneficial anytime you need to feel better.

Excerpt from Harmonious Environment, copyright 2007.

Smudge for Better Energy

Smudging has traditionally been performed by Native Americans and is the ritual burning of herbs to create smoke to clear and purify a person or space. Ceremonies may begin and end with the burning of these sacred herbs. Herbs such as sage, sweetgrass and cedar are generally used.

Try to obtain and burn a variety of herbs to see what you like best. All three purify and remove negative energy. Obviously, if the smell of an herb turns you off, you shouldn’t use it for clearing negative energy.

Herbs are allowed to dry naturally and are either bound together in a bundle called a smudge stick or sold loosely. They can be purchased at many mind, body and spirit stores, at some natural food stores, at Native American Festivals, some alternative bookstores and online.

You can also grow your own herbs. This is especially nice, as you can form a relationship with the herb as it grows. When harvesting, cut what you need—allow the plant to regrow for the following season. Bind the herbs tightly together with string and hang upside down in a cool, dry area until they are dry.

Before you begin to burn your herbs, find a fireproof bowl to catch any sparks or to hold loose herbs. The Native Americans traditionally use an abalone shell for this purpose. Keep in mind that the bowl will get hot and that the herbs will continue to smolder following the smudging ritual—so plan on placing the bowl and herbs in your kitchen sink or fireplace when finished.

Light the smudge stick; when ignited, blow the flames out. The bundle will smolder, releasing the fragrant, purifying smoke. Hold the bundle with your dominant hand and hold the bowl under the smudge stick with your other hand.

If you use loose herbs, put your fireproof bowl on a fireplace mantel, stove or kitchen sink and light the herbs. Once they have caught fire, gently extinguish. Hold the bowl (you may want a potholder under the bowl if it tends to get hot) and wave the smoke with your other hand or a feather.

Begin by smudging yourself—you want to purify and remove your own negative energies. If you would like to perform the ceremony as the Native Americans do, you will want to honor Mother Earth. First, thank the Four Directions by beginning in the East, then South, West and North, working clockwise. Next, hold the smudge near the ground to thank Mother Earth and then above to honor Father Sky and the Great Spirit.

Next, allow the smoke to drift over your face and head. Continue to allow the smoke to cleanse your entire body. Think how the smoke is purifying you and removing any negative energy.

Smudge anyone else with you or anyone who will be entering the soon-to-be smudged space—they too should be purified. You can use your hand to move the smoke or use a feather—also a Native American tradition. Go down the front of the body from head to feet and then repeat down the back of the body.

You must be fully present when smudging—no conversation, picking dog fur off furniture and so on. Be focused and in the present when performing this ritual. By doing so, you will find that you just know which areas—on a person or in a room—need extra smoke. You may linger with the smudge around your husband’s feet or find yourself thoroughly smudging a linen closet. Go with whatever guides you.

Make a point to linger in the bedroom and around the bed; around your favorite seating areas and in the entryway to your home. Smudge your entire home—even an unfinished basement and attic and cupboards and closets.

When smudging the house, work with or without a feather. If you use a feather, place smoking herbs in a fireproof bowl and wave the smoke with the feather. If you choose not to use a feather, direct smoke by waving the smudge stick. Smudge each room starting in the east and working clockwise around the perimeter of the room. Smudge any individual objects that need it; then stand in center of the room and allow the smoke to drift.

As you smudge, keep your thoughts on the process; visualizing negative energies dissipating and the room becoming purified and filled with love. When you are finished, thank Mother Earth.

Excerpt From Harmonious Environment, copyright 2007.

Green Choices for Your Home

With few exceptions—one being particle-board furniture—if your existing eco-unfriendly floors, walls and furniture are in good condition, do not be concerned about replacing them; simply keep them clean. For example, if the paint on your walls contained VOC’s, any damage from outgassing would have occurred during the first six months to one year. Likewise, if your carpet is synthetic or the material has been doused in pesticides, it too has already caused its damage in outgassing. Most of the damaging chemicals that outgas into your home will do so during the first year. Until you are ready to replace an item, simply keep it is as clean as possible.

If, however, you are purchasing a new home or are in the market to buy new furniture or make other changes, the following general guidelines should help you to make the most healthy and environmentally-conscious choices:

* Purchase refurbished furniture and building materials when possible.
* Buy items secondhand.
* Purchase products made from sustainable woods and grasses, such as bamboo.
* Look for natural, not synthetic products.
* Buy the best quality that you can afford so that items will not have to be replaced often—or ever.
* Purchase only what you need.
* Buy locally harvested or manufactured products and save on transportation costs.
* Recycle whenever possible.
* Revamp. For example, buy good quality throw-pillow inserts and replace the covers, when they become worn or you tire of them, instead of the entire pillow. Likewise, if your sofa upholstery is worn-out, but the sofa itself is in good condition, simply reupholster. Wall-to-wall carpet can be removed, cut to a smaller size and a natural backing like rubber applied to the carpet, for a new life as an area rug.
* Look for eco-labeling on products that you buy. While the criteria varies, essentially an eco-label will include the following criteria:
o Avoidance of resource depletion
o Low energy demand
o Avoidance of chemicals in the manufacturing process
o Avoidance of chemical emissions, residues and outgassing
o Biodegradability
o Ethical issues

Excerpt from Harmonious Environment, copyright 2007

The Dangers of Petrochemicals

The biggest source of pollution comes from the use of petrochemicals, which causes both environmental damage and damage to the earth’s inhabitants. A non-renewable resource, the use of petrochemicals is so pervasive in our lives that the removal of them overnight would result in an unrecognizable world. Petrochemicals heat our homes and transport people and products. Plastic products are derived from petrochemicals. Many cleaning supplies, paint, clothing, furniture, building materials, packaging materials, toys, carpeting, appliances, automobiles, planes, trucks, makeup, grooming products, soap, detergent and pesticides contain petrochemicals and require the use of them during the manufacturing process.

Almost all chemicals in use today are derived from petrochemicals. During the manufacturing process, most petrochemicals are combined with chlorine—an extremely dangerous chemical. Chlorine produces toxic emissions and contaminating wastes. Chlorine continues to pollute when disposed of, as the wastes emit further atmospheric, liquid and solid toxic waste.

Saudi Arabia claims that they can keep up with the increasing demand for the next fifty years, but many experts think this is impossible. These experts, although still a minority in the oil world, argue that the geological challenges inherent in extracting oil and the limits of modern technology will soon make it impossible to extract enough oil for the world’s needs. So while there may be oil available, it can become impossible, or at the very least extremely expensive to extract from the earth.

Chevron, the second-largest American oil company, is actually talking to the public about the problem. A series of ads running in 2005 read: “One thing is clear; the era of easy oil is over.”

Once consumption exceeds production, the price of a barrel of oil could soar into the triple digits. A result of exorbitant prices for transport fuels and for products made out of or by petrochemicals would probably lead to a global recession.

Nobody knows how long oil will last and the Saudis refuse to substantiate how much oil reserves they really have. Few politicians talk about the fact that eventually oil will run out—and that there will be catastrophic consequences unless we come up with viable alternatives to the use of petrochemicals. It is estimated that world’s oil will last until 2050, natural gas to 2030 and coal until 2200.

Excerpt from

Harmonious Environment, copyright 2007