Striving for Balance Not Perfection
- Ahh, the P word. Perfection. I never realized what a perfectionist I was until I started writing this newsletter. One night I was drifting off to sleep after having completed and scheduled a newsletter to go out the following morning. Suddenly, I bolted awake and rushed to my computer (had to turn it back on) because I was certain I had left something out, or misspelled a word, God forbid.
I think the newsletter might have even been about Ayurveda. At any rate, the irony didn’t go unnoticed. How many times have I used the word balance when talking about my beloved Ayurveda? The Science of Life embodies the concept of balance to stay healthy and happy. Deepak Chopra’s wonderful classic book called Perfect Health: The Complete Mind/Body Guide probably should have been called “Balanced Health”. But of course, Perfect sounds so alluring. I think we need to stop striving for perfection. It’s exhausting! Let’s aim for balance instead.
So why the picture of me with my late 80’s perm and my adorable children? Was I striving for perfection back then? You bet I was. Did I succeed? I don’t think so. I’m going to cleverly segue into talking about holistic health and children, something I’m passionate about, with a friend who is a busy mother of three.
One of my biggest regrets is that I wasn’t better informed about holistic health when my own children (now 31 and 27) were younger. All of my learning came much later when I was faced with a chronic illness and was determined to help my body heal itself. I did make much of their baby food from scratch, and it was always infused with love, but I could have done so much more.
So when I met JoAnn Finger a while back in my energy healers’ group (mother of two, with another on the way) and we talked about her penchant for caring for her family holistically, I felt a little pang of envy. I’ve been wanting to interview JoAnn for awhile (she now has three beautiful children) and she has agreed to have a conversation with me about how she manages to keep her family on the path to healthy living. I hope you enjoy our “chat.”
Me: Hi JoAnn, thanks for having this conversation with me! I’m interested in knowing how you came to have this passion for holistic health–did you grow up living a healthy lifestyle?
JoAnn: I feel so honored Barbara, thank you. My Mom was (and still is) a FABULOUS Italian cook! She made all of our meals (we rarely “ordered in”) including family dinners every night. What we ate was considered to be healthy at the time. We weren’t concerned about pesticides, GMO’s, food sensitivities. I won’t say they didn’t exist because I don’t know, but people seemed to be generally healthier at that time. You didn’t hear so much about childhood disease or food allergies.
A typical dinner/lunch for us would be peanut butter and jelly on white bread. A typical dinner would be a meat, a salad, a pasta, a veggie and white bread. It brought us together. It was all considered healthy at that time and WE were all healthy so I’m sure it was. She learned to cook from my grandparents, who lived well into their 80’s.
Me: I feel the same way, although I don’t know how healthy my baloney sandwiches with mustard on white bread were! How conscious are you now of all of the things you mentioned (pesticides, etc.) in regards to feeding your own family?
JoAnn: I’m not much of a cook so while I consider myself pretty conscious, I sometimes go for convenience. It’s a balancing act. For home meals I do buy all organic fruits, veggies, eggs, meats, nuts and whatever else I can. I also serve GMO free/gluten free as much as possible and avoid dairy when I can. I’ve made changes little by little as I learn more about healthy eating. The “convenience” part comes when we’re out, I need a quick meal or friends are over and we have the traditional chicken nuggets, pizza, quesadillas, deli sandwiches….
Me: You have the perfect attitude–consciously healthy but not rigid and obsessive–which kids can pick up on a mile away! I recently noted that you are interested in learning more about Ayurveda. Have you been able to apply any Ayurvedic lifestyle principles to your day-to day family life? Have you figured out the doshas of your family members?
JoAnn: Not yet! I’m only about 1/4 way through my first resource book, Deepak Chopra’s “Perfect Health“. I know that I am very Vata and my older son is Vata-Pitta. I tend to focus on him first because he has food sensitivities, allergies, and asthma. My husband and I don’t have these issues. That’s one of the reasons I became interested in holistic health. I wanted to know more about how foods and environmental factors effect our bodies, our minds and our spirit. I’m looking forward to learning so much more about Ayurveda and implementing that system into our family.
Me: I want to mention a book that I think I referred to you a while back – Perfect Health for Kids: Ten Ayurvedic Health Secrets Every Parent Must Know by Dr. John Douillard. There we go with that “perfect” word again! It really is a great resource for parents. Being aware of the different needs of each person in the family from a dosha perspective might seem like it would make for a lot more confusion and work, but if it results in healthier kids (and parents) than I think it’s worth the effort.
Have you come to any conclusions regarding your son’s health concerns? You almost need to be a food detective, don’t you? And of course, from an Ayurvedic perspective, most health issues are not completely food-related.
JoAnn: It’s funny you mention that because I recently watched a documentary on Ayurveda from Netflix called Ayurveda-Art of Being and just learned that it’s NOT just about the foods we eat! That’s why I want to learn so much more about Ayurveda. I do have the book “Perfect Health for Kids“–that’s my next read! I see a difference in my son’s moods when he’s not eating wheat and dairy… he seems much happier. The other health issues still seem to be there (though I admit, I have a difficult time keeping him off dairy since he’s a “picky eater.” Gluten free pizza, bagel with cream cheese, quesadillas are way too easy). YES, I continue to do the “detective work” and the bottom line seems to be: TOXINS. I’ve read a lot about toxins in foods, the environment, vaccines. Even if we take every measure to prevent toxin exposures, sometimes the body needs a good cleansing from all these things . I feel like the one thing we can do at home is to take supplements and change our diets. I have also learned a lot from Kelly Dorfman, author of a book called “What’s Eating Your Child?: The Hidden Connection Between Food and Childhood Ailments“. I’ve read her book and have been fortunate enough to work with Kelly on a plan for my son. After reviewing the blood work that she had ordered, she suggested he go gluten-free and ordered a daily liquid vitamin that’s custom made for him. He’s grown 3 inches since last year. I owe that to Kelly.
Me: That is like gold having someone working directly with you and your children! Time and time again, I hear amazing success stories about simple dietary changes making a dramatic difference in a child’s physical, mental and emotional health. What is your opinion on vaccines?
JoAnn: I think vaccines have done a lot of good in preventing disease, but I think the vaccine industry itself has gotten out of control. It seems that it’s less about health and safety and more about making money. Thousands of parents are certain their child’s development was healthy until a particular vaccine made them regress. Defensive doctors don’t want to admit there ARE risks if you vaccinate. Most doctors follow the American Academy of Pediatrics’ vaccine schedule and if parents go along with it, their child will have had 24 shots by their first birthday! Giving a 2-month-old 6 vaccines just seems extreme to me and I can’t help but wonder if boosting the immune system with all these vaccines and toxins isn’t contributing to auto immune issues, developmental issues and allergies. I feel that many of these vaccines are even unnecessary. The Hepatitis B vaccine, for example, is one I personally refused for my newborn. I didn’t feel my healthy little 8 pound baby needed to start his life off being injected with an unnatural substance when he was not going to be exposed to Hep B. I’m also disturbed by the fact that big pharma companies don’t have to take responsibility for vaccine reactions (a special tax is charged on each one that goes towards lawsuits) and in our country, these companies also give a lot of money to hospitals, health care professionals, medical journals and media for advertising. Between that type of power and doctors becoming so defensive on the issue, the doctors “its fine.. they NEED this” credibility has been severely damaged. A parent has to do his/her own research and go with their gut. That’s difficult to do sometimes because of all the FEAR we have about disease. Personally, my gut tells me: get the important vaccines (a healthy child will survive the flu) spread them out, and only vaccinate if the child’s immune system is strong (there is no illness present). I also give a homeopathic remedy called Thuja Occidentalis to my children before and after each vaccine. (I started doing that a year ago when I found our current pediatrician who practices homeopathy.) I feel better knowing that this remedy absorbs toxins.
Parents should go with their gut. Our “one size fits all” medical care system does not work with every individual. That’s why I research, follow my intuition, and get second opinions from homeopathic doctors who study Chinese medicine and other alternatives. I plan on taking my son to an Ayurvedic doctor soon and I even have my dog getting acupuncture for arthritis pain! There are so many remedies out there that are safe and effective! The vaccine companies play on our fear and we parents can really empower ourselves by looking into less invasive vaccine schedules and alternatives!
Me: I totally agree with you, JoAnn, and applaud you for doing the research and going with your gut. Can we talk about the S-word? As in sugar.
JoAnn: Oh yah! I’m sure my kids get a ton of sugar. It’s in sooo many things! But I try to cut back by giving them small amounts of it. For example, a touch of pure maple syrup (Instead of drowning breakfast in high fructose corn syrup), a small glass of oj, water if they’re still thirsty. NO SODA! It’s so unnecessary and harmful! Dark chocolate desserts, half the container of coconut milk yogurt… I just cut back where I can, but not so much that they feel deprived.
Me: It’s all about balance, and you do the best you can while taking advantage of the fact that you still have some control and positive influence. My last question is about essential oils. You came to an event that I hosted several months ago about using Young Living essential oils. Have you had any success using them with your children?
JoAnn: Yes!! I’m still learning but so far, there are several oils I have started using regularly. I use only Young Living brand because I know the oils are pure, no added “stuff.” My girl has a lot of energy so we put a few drops of lavender oil into a spray bottle with purified water and spray her pillow once at bedtime for a calming scent she loves. I rub the Peace and Calming blend on the bottom of her feet as well, which makes her laugh! My son can get quite congested at night from allergies, and since I started diffusing the RC blend in his room, he is clear and we no longer have to use Benedryl at bedtime. When he has anxiety, I diffuse frankincense in his room and I feel he’s happier in the morning. For my baby, (and the others if needed) I have diffused Thieves in the bedrooms. It kills the germs in the environment (remember when Mom used to use chemical-filled Lysol for that?) and it’s healthy for them to breathe in for an additional, natural immune boost. An added benefit is that these oils smell soooo good! MY personal favorite is White Angelica. I diffuse that in my room for energy/chakra balance and the calming scent.
Me: I am thrilled that you love the oils as much as I do! Thank you so much, JoAnn, for taking time out of your busy day (I remember those days!) to chat with me! You are living proof that even with a hectic lifestyle you can make simple educated choices that will have a great impact on the health and well-being of your children.
JoAnn: Thank you too, Barbara! Much of the information I receive comes from informative and inspirational people like you, who really get the information out there! It was my pleasure (and honor!) speaking with you!
- JoAnn and her beautiful children
I hope you enjoyed my interview with JoAnn and that it inspires you to make little changes in your life and in your children’s lives. Sometimes the simplest changes can result in a happier, healthier, balanced life–the Ayurvedic way!