I’ve got through a load of books over the years and, to be honest, can’t recall too much of most of them. Every once in a while, though, I come across a book that just pushes a button and brings about a seismic shift.
That’s exactly what happened 10 years ago, when I read “Imperfectly Natural Woman” [www.imperfectlynatural.com] by singer, author and radio presenter Janey Lee Grace. Its down-to-earth wisdom from a busy mum of four struck a huge chord. Within a week, my unsuspecting family had witnessed quite a few changes in our household. Out went two bin bags of detergents and in came white vinegar and bicarb of soda. My baby daughter was introduced to a funky set of washable nappies; my two boys were bemused by me polishing their school shoes with a banana skin; my husband looked on in mounting alarm as I applied my homemade stain remover to his shirts and poured homemade powder in the dishwasher.
Looking back, I probably did go a bit overboard in that first year. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say I was little over-zealous in my initial enthusiasm for a more natural lifestyle. The banana skins and homemade stain remover didn’t last too long in the face of pleas from my family to return to something a little more effective. But there’s a tonne of stuff that I adopted for good: from my enduring love affair with coconut oil to more gentle methods of cleaning our home, our clothes and ourselves. Janey also opened my eyes to a whole host of lovely, lesser-known brands whose products were as good as their ethics.
I loved her grounded, self-deprecating and easy-going approach – the idea that you don’t have to fit with any preconceived stereotype (earth mother, hippy, eco-warrior etc etc) to move towards lessening your toxic load and experimenting with more natural products in your home and on your body. And that it’s not an all-or-nothing scenario that’s beyond the reach of us Mums who just muddle through, trying to do the best by our families.
There’ve certainly been a fair number of twists and turns and a good few detours on my journey to be an “imperfectly natural woman” – and I’m still very much on that journey. Here’s a case in point: when I read Janey’s words on perfume, they lodged somewhere in the back of my brain where they percolated for a full decade. It was only last week that I decided that I actually don’t feel I want to wear this stuff anymore; so it’s farewell Jo Malone. Meanwhile, while I use my own homemade, natural soap in the shower, my husband sticks doggedly to his Imperial flipping Leather. I guess some things take longer than others to hit home and everyone reaches their own conclusions in their own time.
So often in life, we label ourselves and believe that we have to be 100% one thing or 100% the other. Janey showed me a refreshingly doable approach that embraces imperfection and not being too hard on yourself. It’s an ethos that I live by still and share with my clients, now that my path has taken me all the way from frenetic PR boss to holistic health coach.
Thank you Janey.