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Love Heals the Home

by Zoe Helene
A journey that led a mother of three to start her own sustainable business

For Amy Love, healing begins at home. Love’s desire to give her children the cleanest, healthiest start in life inspired her Homebody (homebody.life) line of all-natural plant and mineral-based cleaning solutions.

When she was pregnant with her first child, Love’s chemical sensitivity was heightened, and she knew she would never expose her children to conventional cleaning products made with toxic chemicals. “I would walk down the supermarket aisle with all the laundry detergent, and I couldn’t handle the smell,” she says.

Love detoxified her home and her lifestyle in order to prepare a safe space for her first child, Isaac. She noticed a drastic change in her own health as a result. “I stopped bringing toxins into my home, and I felt great,” she says. “The home is our most personal space. It’s where we eat, sleep, breathe. Bringing toxins there is completely counterintuitive.”

Love started Homebody to provide products that, “help people create the healthy living and working spaces they need to thrive in harmony with the environment.” She field-tested all her formulas while running a successful green housecleaning business, GreenLove Eco Cleaning (greenloveclean.com), in the Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts. After clients asked if she sold the homemade solutions, Love realized she could make them available to everyone. It took a couple years and a trip to the Peruvian Amazon, where she spent a week at a traditional ayahuasca plant medicine retreat, to make her dream a reality.

When did you first develop your earth-friendly cleaning formulas? Homebody began in my home kitchen when my maternal instincts kicked in. I wanted to find a better way to provide a safe, clean home environment for our first baby. I started with very simple ingredients and essential oils, then kept improving the formulas, experimenting with different combinations and introducing new ingredients as my research expanded.

What are some of the key ingredients? The main ingredients are herbal-infused vinegars that I make at our farm from the herbs that we grow biodynamically, as well as organic therapeutic-grade essential oils. We use ionized water, which has been charged on an electric current. It goes through two electrodes and splits into polarities. One tube shoots out alkaline water, and the other shoots out acidic water. We use the acidic water for the cleaning products. It makes the molecules sort of magnetic and more likely to attract dirt.

Where and how are the products made? An employee helps me make them in large quantity for the cleaning company, but for retail, I mix them myself, in small batches.

How to you plan to scale up? I’m building an eco-friendly manufacturing facility. I’m looking at a property with a large barn that I want to transform into a positive net-energy manufacturing space with solar panels, geothermal power and rainwater collection, which I plan to replicate in targeted locations all over the country.

Your cleaning products smell wonderful, why is that important? Why not turn a chore into a sensual, revitalizing experience? That way, whoever is doing the cleaning also gets to enjoy the aromas of natural fragrances such as organic lavender, cinnamon, rosemary, sage, cloves and lemongrass. Aromatherapy makes your home smell lovely, which enhances your mood.

And no toxic chemicals? Did you know that professional house cleaners are six times more likely to develop cancer because they’re inhaling the chemical fumes and absorbing toxins through their skin?

Toxic chemicals in conventional products can also hurt animals. Imagine your cat licking her paws after walking around on toxic cleaning solutions or your dog chewing a ball that’s been rolling around on a floor cleaned with harsh chemicals. Those toxic chemicals also go down the drain and end up in the soil and the water, poisoning wildlife.

Your approach is that cleaning can be healing, a type of meditation. How does that work? I love the feeling of putting a space into order. A micro-macro, “as within, so without,” Zen phenomenon happens. We remove all the grime, buildup and negative chi, and we set everything in order.

Cleaning is also about coming into the present. Messiness and chaos are part of the nature of the universe. We are in constant maintenance. When our world comes into balance, we are able to be more present.

You traveled to Peru to participate in a traditional indigenous ayahuasca plant medicine retreat. How did that lead to you launching Homebody? I was awarded a Cosmic Sister Plant Spirit Grant (cosmicsister.com) to travel to Peru and experience traditional ayahuasca ceremonies. The healing that took place there allowed me to release past trauma and come into the present, where I felt capable and ready to say yes to opportunities. I came home ready to put down my roots and move forward in what I knew to be true and right. I already had a self-sustaining homestead, and beekeeping felt like the next level of commitment. There was this message inside me saying, “There’s no more time for waiting. Just do.”

Tell us about your Ayahuasca experience. Ayahuasca doesn't judge you; she just puts you in order. It is medicine deserving of the highest reverence. This is not recreational.

During ceremony I experienced the rainforest outside of the moloca, and I became so aware of the plants singing, like a symphony. Each plant had a song. I could hear them all and identify them differently. My senses were so heightened. I was hearing things that maybe animals and insects can hear. I was tuned into some jungle consciousness, which I can't separate from the ayahuasca experience because I was so aware of the plant spirit herself, and she was drawing her power from the jungle all around me. Almost three years later, the memories are so still so vivid. I still feel them on almost a cellular level.

Everything is so beautifully interwoven. Mother Nature has it all perfected. The grandest takeaway from my experience with ayahuasca is that I feel so honored to have witnessed that perfection, that symphony. There really isn't anything that we can do as humans to improve upon this divine perfection except to take our place within it, as stewards.

What did you do when you went home? I sent the father of my children to Peru to do his own work with the ayahuasca, and he experienced transformative healing that allowed us to repair our relationship and become better co-parents. I also got my herbalism certification with master herbalist Ellen Evert Hopman (elleneverthopman.com) who is a walking encyclopedia of herbalism, and signed up for bee-keeping education courses with Bonita and Dan Conlon of Warm Colors Apiary (warmcolorsapiary.com). Isaac, my 8-year-old, attended classes with me, then we brought home two bee packages.

What did honeybee medicine bring to your work? I'm mesmerized by the inner workings of the beehives, their social organization and complex communication systems. When I actually started working with them face to face, it really changed me. There's a collective energy and a power to the bees that deeply affected me.

I'm fascinated by the sacred geometry that they instinctively build. Just the physical structure alone is so incredibly beautiful and mesmerizing from a geometric standpoint, and the amount of cooperation that goes into building something with such integrity has always been very inspiring.

When I was growing up, I never thought of myself as a leader or ever imagined myself in the position that I am today, leading a team of 15. Working closely with honeybees has clicked something into place for me on an instinctual level about what it means to lead with grace and by example. I’ve learned how to rely on my own insight and instincts in terms of recognizing what each person’s individual gifts are. Not everyone has the same abilities, but everyone should be valued the same. If we can make people's work responsibilities match their gifts, then it's a perfect match.

And you launched Homebody. Yes. I launched Homebody just after my third child, Silas, was born.

Photo credit: Tracey Eller

Motherhood has been a primary motivator for you. Once I became a mother, every subsequent decision I made was completely changed. I want my children to grow up in an environment where they’re taught that everything is interconnected. I wanted my kids to see where their food comes from, so we got chickens and goats. My daughter, Solana, is especially connected with the goats. She loves nurturing the baby goats, and she’s learning how to milk the mamas.

Ayahuasca really energized you! Ayahuasca is an intensely healing plant spirit medicine for mind, body and spirit, and my experiences in ceremony brought me back to a place of centeredness where I could be grounded and fully present. I was able to come back to a place of reconnecting with myself and remembering what my original dreams were.

What were those dreams? Being self-sufficient, interacting harmoniously with Mother Nature with a conscious intention of stewardship and symbiosis, giving back more than I take.

You reconnected with your deepest purpose. Yes, and my purpose is healing. My focus, in life and in work, is on sustainability and how to cultivate the right relationship between human life and the earth's ecosystem to ensure all can thrive in harmony. For me, that relationship begins at home, with our choices as consumers. The products we choose for our home environment mirror our regard for, and our effect on, the larger whole. I believe that humanity’s highest priority right now is to restore our right relationship with the Earth’s eco-systems. We have to revolutionize how we live and consume so that we act with foresight and awareness. We can be creators or destroyers, and it’s our duty to the earth and our children to make this choice consciously and responsibly.

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