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Saturday, January 28, 2012

It's not easy being a green germaphobe

   As I stumble through my life accidentally on purpose, I can't help but notice some of the opposing forces that influence me. No wonder I spend so much of my time being confused. For starters I have a strange fascination with chickens; I just love them. I don't know why. Maybe it's their little feathered bodies or the adorable noises they make. Maybe it's the way they are so small, but they strut about like they own the place. At the same time, I feed my dog a natural raw diet with chicken as a primary food source (with other things to balance it appropriately, of course). My need to feed my predator a species appropriate diet is constantly at war with my love for chickens. In fact, I am an animal lover to my core, but I don't think I could live long-term as a vegetarian. I am so conflicted.

   The easier solution (and one that would placate me and assuage some of my guilt) would be to become an organic localvore. I would be exceptionally happy and at peace to know that the meat in my diet was well-cared for and respected (my dog eats free-range chicken parts from a local farm), and that everything was hormone and chemical-free. I could call my nutrition-minded friend Maureen (It's All Connected) and ask her to help me put together something healthy. That is the goal. When I can afford it, that is. Until then the dog eats better than I do and I live with the guilt. But this is only the 'diet' stuff.

   See, I'm kind of a germaphobe. I had to learn that I don't need to bleach everything all the time, and I did so because of the toxicity of bleach. It was even effecting my breathing. It was hard, but I learned. I have worked very hard to be mindful of the toxicity of cleaning products, and the amount of water and  paper products I use, even though my most base instincts tell me to wash everything in poison to kill germs and wipe them down with paper towels to not spread germs and to do that a LOT. I control my impulses by reminding myself that I had a healthy upbringing with my hands covered in dirt from gardening. I loved that feeling. And I've always lived with and around animals, which for some reason just don't register with me as 'dirty'. Sure I've brushed caked mud off horses more times that I can count and I've mucked a stall or two (million) but I never felt repulsed, even when my dog licks himself THERE (okay, maybe that's a little repulsive). But now I live in an apartment building that feels to me a little like living in a big petri dish. Every time I take the dog out I remind myself constantly not to touch my face until I get back to my apartment and wash my hands. I can only imagine how many people have touched the door handles, the elevator buttons, etc. I know, I have a problem.

   So I wash my hands a lot, and then wipe them on a clean towel set aside just for that purpose. It's a learning curve. I have hand sanitizer (by the gallon), but I try to use it sparingly. Some germs are good, right? And what do we do to our immune systems if we don't give them a little somethin' somethin' to work on once in awhile? I always question my admittedly compulsive mind-set, and then I'll see somebody's child (petri dishes on LEGS) sneezing openly on the button-panel in the elevator, or running around the hallways emitting open-mouthed coughs into the air wherever they go. It makes me want to walk around with a can of Lysol, but I don't. I gave up Lysol. I thought it might take a 12 step program, but it didn't. Barely.

   I think more than anything, in order to stave off my germaphobic tendencies, I need to be living my life; not just one that allows me to survive but one that's a reflection of my values and interests. That would mean NOT living in an apartment building, but being surrounded by healthy, dirty things like gardens and horses, and possibly chickens. I'm working on it; I'm working on it REALLY hard. Until then I'll do the best I can to balance the needs of the Earth with my compulsions:-)

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