Natural Living {what the moms think}

1. What does natural living mean to you?

Shannon – I asked myself that question about a year ago and it kinda became my business mission statement.  To me, natural living means to live, love, grow,  create, and serve in the way God intends.  Because God has a perfect plan for each of us, and that is the most natural way to life.

natural living momsBeth – Natural living to me is doing things the old fashion way.  Such as, only resorting to Doctors when we are REALLY ill or hurt, limiting technology and letting our imaginations and conversations run,  being conscious of what we put in to our bodies and how it affects it, trying to give to the earth as much as I take.

Jess – To me natural living means to live by what comes natural to you and by what is found in nature or by doing something in its most natural state. Some people would think that living naturally would be to purchase organic clothing; to me it means ripping apart an old t-shirt and creating something ‘new’.

Donielle – For me, natural living means eating foods in the way that God designed and using products that don’t bombard that design with toxins. It also means that many times I forego the modern or conventional way of thinking and do what comes most natural to me, whether it’s in my home, my marriage, or my parenting.

natural living momTarra – To me, natural living births an appreciation for what God has made. God made our bodies to heal themselves; all thanks to our immune systems. If we pay mind to nutrition and keep our immune system strong, it is a means for naturally fighting sickness and disease. Organic and gmo-free food are God made foods, God made seeds. Simplicity comes when we appreciate what God has made, while not getting wrapped up in worldly desires and greed. Natural living includes taking care of God’s creation, respecting the environment and all that is in it. Ultimately, natural living keeps me in constant awe of God.

2. Why did you begin living “naturally”?

Shannon – When I was pregnant with my oldest (8 years ago!), I felt TERRIBLE!    I knew that being pregnant was what my body was designed for, and it didn’t make sense to me that I felt so awful.  I knew I was missing something that my body needed and I obviously wasn’t getting it from my prescription prenatal, so I began researching vitamins and supplements, and that lead into organic foods and it’s been a process of baby steps tossing out the bad and adding in what’s good.

Beth – I think I have always been a Hippie at heart 🙂

Jess – I never knew that I was living ‘green’ until I heard the term when my daughter was an infant. My first experience with it as a lifestyle change was when I was scolded by my boyfriend (and future hubby) for using The Works to clean my apartment toilet.

Donielle – When I had my first baby, it just seemed that so much of what was told to new moms just felt ‘wrong’ to me. I felt like I was always going against my inner intuition. So I began researching whole foods and raw milk. From there it was just an avalanche of changes!

Tarra – I’ve always wanted to do what was best, but didn’t know any different than what Dr.s and people around me advised. It was when I started to realize the way the system worked, that my way of thinking changed. It started with vaccines, then healthier eating, then natural methods of treating sickness and disease, to improving our life all around, and simplifying our lifestyle.

3. What was your first step and why?

Shannon – My first step was a taking some good supplements, b/c I discovered that even if I ate perfectly, I couldn’t be certain I was getting all the nutrition I needed.  At the same time I threw out all the nasty cleaning products I had and replaced them with safer alternatives.  Being pregnant at the time, I felt strongly about limiting the number of chemicals I exposed my baby to.

Beth – My first big step was becoming vegetarian, and convincing my meat loving husband to convert too,  we made the change because of the state of the meat industry today.

Jess– I don’t think Jeremy knew what he was getting us into. After being ‘schooled’ about the horrors of the Works I couldn’t stop from wondering what else in my life was causing harm without my knowledge. It all snowballed from there. Reading labels on products in my shower sitting in the bathtub calling Suave about whether or not their products were biodegradable, forcing my dad to choke down whole wheat noodles when he came to visit me, and deciding that the fact that I could never stand the taste or texture of meat could actually be a good thing from a global perspective.

Donielle – the very first thing I ever did was buy natural cleaners for my home. A coworker came in one day and said that her father had cancer and over those next few weeks shared with me all that she was doing to lesson her own exposure to chemicals. As a woman looking ahead to trying to conceive, I took notice and soon threw out all the conventional cleaners in my home. It was after baby though that I began to focus on foods when I began reading labels and noticing what was actually in the foods that was recommended to feed him. I wanted our entire family to be as healthy as possible – not to extend our lives (because only the One above knows when we will go to our Heavenly Home) but to increase our quality of life while we are here.

Tarra – I tried to breastfeed my first daughter knowing that was best. I made it to 6 weeks, as I was a tender 18 year old single mom with a lot to balance, and it was just too much to keep up with. We stopped vaccinating with our third daughter, after a family member became autistic as a result of his 2 yr. shots. I know the vaccine theory is heavily debated, but it was enough to cause me to take a step back and investigate why they made such a claim. It was through research we came to the conclusion we no longer wanted to vaccinate.

4. What do you do now that you NEVER thought you would do?

Shannon – Even a year ago, I never would have thought I could live without my microwave!  I didn’t give it up by choice, but life without it hasn’t been nearly as difficult as I thought.  In fact, that’s been a reoccurring theme through my journey to natural living.

Beth – I never thought I would care so much about who made my clothes that I would pay more just to get something made by a real person, not a machine.

Jess – Eat gluten free. I grew up in a polish family and worked at a bakery for most of my life. I LOVE donuts. I LOVE to bake. At the suggestion of some other ‘natural’ moms that I know and a little nudge from a child who had screamed the first 9 months of his life I was tested for Celiac disease. I never thought I’d be crying on Fat Tuesday over not being able to eat a Paczki and staying up until the wee hours of the night looking for a suitable gluten free substitute, but both Cedar and I are healthier because of it.

Donielle – I never thought I’d drink raw milk, or care about buying grassfed meats. I never thought I’d give up pop (yes, I’m from Michigan – we say pop up here!) or care so much about the mattresses we sleep on. And I never thought I’d be that mom who put her baby in a sling and co-slept!

Tarra – A lot! I am still nursing my 23 month old for instance; and the grocery store is my last resort for food.

5. What do you find yourself still not able to do?

Shannon – Soak grains!  LOL   Or give up kraft mac and cheese… I’m so embarrassed to admit it, but it just tastes so good to me…

Beth – I still can’t manage to grow a successful garden.

Jess – Family cloth. Truth be told I tried to convince myself that I could do it. I serged the cloth wipes and readied a bucket. But it never happened, and I don’t think it ever will! oh. . . and I still haven’t given up donuts completely; I occasionally choke down a GF one to stop the craving.

Donielle – I can totally ditto Jess on the family cloth idea!! (for those that don’t know, it’s using cloth wipes for everyone in the bathroom…..and washing and re-using) I also can’t get myself to eat foods like liver……..

Tarra– Get close to animals, or eat their organs.

6. Do you have any tips on helping your husband change along with you?

Shannon – Ha!  I think every crunchy Mama wonders this same thing!  Funny thing is, my husband used to give me SUCH a hard time (in fact our first big knock down, drag out fight of our marriage was over organic potatoes!), but then I’d hear him say things to his friends like “I can’t believe you eat that! You can’t even pronounce a single ingredient on that package!”.   But honestly, I think you have to be patient and not push anything.  Make it easy for them to make the right choice for themselves and not turn it into a the kind of thing they feel like they’ll loose and you’ll win if he gives up his junk food ;o)

Beth – My husband is very open minded and will try anything so he is an easy one, he also thinks I am smart and he listens to everything I say 🙂

Jess – It’s funny that Jer is the one who brought out this side in me yet often thinks I’m crazy. I kindly remind him that it’s his fault. He shrugs and eats the whole-grain, organic, vegetarian meal I made him in our cast iron kitchen ware, sitting at a table lit by a beeswax candle surrounded by children in up-cycled clothing;he’s probably silently wishing he would have kept his mouth shut that one day in March 8 years ago when I walked into the bathroom carrying a bottle of The Works. In all truth, he resists at first, usually calls me a crazy hippie, and then a few months later is convincing everyone at work and church that they too should be drinking bovine colostrum while handing out brochures.

Donielle – Unless it’s something he’s SURE to notice and directly affect him, I actually don’t tell him much of the changes I make. Raw milk was the hardest one for him to swallow and it happened to be one of the first major changes we made in our diet, so I had to find studies, recommendations from people who drank it, and all the financial issues as well. For me, it’s helped to include him in the decisions that truly affect our family as a whole yet take care of the little mundane things without bombarding him with “that’s toxic!!!” “it’ll give you cancer!!” “but so and so said….”. over the last few years he’s begun to ask more questions about why I do different things and in turn, while he still calls me his “hippie wife”, he also shares with others what we do as well – even getting his coworker to buy raw milk too. For us it was about me NOT pushing him to do something, but rather allowing him to make the decision himself.

Tarra– Be gentle in approach. Educate, don’t dominate. Be friendly, not condemning. He will come around and one day you will smile at how far he’s come 🙂


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About donielle

Donielle is a natural momma of two, lover of real foods, and owner and editor of Grand Rapids Natural Living and Naturally Knocked Up. You can usually find her in the kitchen whipping up some nourishing foods, cuddled on the couch reading books to the littles, avoiding the laundry and Mt. Saint Dishes, or tapping away on the laptop. Her husband puts up with her sometimes crazy "hippie" ways, but loves her regardless. Welcome to my home away from home.