The Magic of Plantain

Plantain

Broad Leaf Plantain

Plantain is one of the most abundant and widely spread medicinal herbs in the world today. Both broadleaf plantain (Plantago major) and ribwort or narrow leaf plantain (Plantago lanceolate) are common weeds that many people can easily recognize.

Plantain has been a significant healing herb throughout history, and was used by many cultures the world over. The Saxons considered it one of their nine sacred herbs. In Gaelic plantain is known as “the healing plant” due to its amazing healing qualities.

Plantain is highly nutritious as it contains seven flavonoids, beta-carotene, mucilage, dietary fibre, fatty acids linoleic and oleic, protein, and carbohydrates. It also contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C and K, as well as calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, silica, sulphur and zinc.

It was used as food as far back as 4,000 years ago in Europe and there is some indication that this plant was even cultivated. As people left Europe to explore and settle in other parts of the world they took many seeds with them, including plantain.

The young leaves can be eaten raw in salads while they are tender but once they mature they are best boiled in stews, steamed or made into a tea. All parts of the plant, including the seeds, are edible.

Medicinal uses

The leaves, shredded, bruised/crushed or chewed, are a traditional treatment for insect and animal bites as their antibacterial and antimicrobial action helps prevent infection, while the anti-inflammatory, anti-toxic properties help to relieve pain, burning, and itching. Plantain is useful for nearly all skin complaints and even arthritis.

Plantain tea can be used as a mouthwash to help heal and prevent sores in the mouth, as an expectorant, or to ease a sore throat.

It quickly staunches blood flow (both internally and externally), and encourages the repair of damaged tissue – due to it’s allantoin content, often replacing comfrey in treating bruises and broken bones. Pick some leaves, crush them and place them on the cut, holding in place with a bandage/clingwrap or similar.

It stops itching from insects, stinging nettle, and it can help to draw out poisons from snake bites. (Although always seek medical help if you have been bitten by a poisonous snake.) Because it draws toxins from the body with its astringent nature, plantain may be crushed (or chewed) and placed as a poultice directly over the site of bee stings, bug bites, acne, splinters, or rashes. Bandage the area and allow the plantain to work its magic for 4-12 hours. Not only does it have the ability to draw out infection, but splinters as well.

An infusion or strong tea of plantain leaf (dried or fresh) sprayed on a sunburn will cool the burn and relieve the pain. An even more powerful remedy can be made by steeping plantain leaf (fresh or dried) in apple cider vinegar for a few weeks and then strain. The infused vinegar will sooth itching, burning and pain on the skin very quickly.

Narrow Leaf Plantain

Plantain is also a diuretic so it is useful for bladder and kidney problems and it helps reduce water retention. It is also helpful for UTIs, Bladder infections, kidney infections or infections of any kind.

Plantain is renowned for its healing effect on the digestive system. This is especially useful for anyone who has been damaged by antibiotics, food allergies, IBS or other digestive disorders. Both leaves and seeds specifically target the digestive system for healing. The leaves may be steeped as tea, or added to soups. The seeds – a type of psyllium – can be ground or soaked for bulk mucilage.

Because plantain is a gentle expectorant and high in silica, it can be helpful for lung problems such as pleurisy, pneumonia, coughs, and colds.
Taking Plantain tea or tincture can help balance hormones, easing the unpleasant symptoms of Menopause and menstrual problems; hot flushes, mood swings and emotional highs and lows soon become a thing of the past.

It has been found that plantain is a superb eliminator of heavy metal toxins from the body. Broadleaf Plantain can help you eliminate the heavy metal toxicity caused by mercury amalgam fillings, and is much cheaper than having a dentist remove the fillings.

Plantain, one of the most widespread “weeds” in the world, is a first-choice remedy for many ailments. It is safe and effective, integrating the best of Nature’s Magic.

It is due to these absolutely wonderful qualities and more, that it is a prominent ingredient in three of my first aid creams – Stay Cool, Mum’s Magic Touch and Christie’s Miracle Cream. I have found it to be an amazing healing herb with many uses. I remember watching one of my milking goats, who got mastitis, picking all the plantain out of the paddock and just eating those. She knew instinctively what to do to heal herself.

To enjoy plantain’s healing properties year ’round, it’s easy to make your own plantain oil (click here for instructions). This oil will last you through the winter when plantain dies back. You can also dry the leaves or infuse vinegar (OACV) with the plantain leaves, for later use.

 

BL Plantain.Shared on: Simply Natural Saturdays, Small Footprint Friday,

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Mini Wicking Beds

Herbs-Growing

There are many ways to create a wicking bed. I chose to make these very simple, economical and easy to construct and maintain mini ones.

Wicking beds are a way of growing plants where moisture wicks up from an underground water reservoir that is below the root zone. This encourages the roots of the plants to grown down deeper rather than staying on the surface. The major advantage of a wicking bed is a significant increase in production, due in part to the soil always being moist, never too dry or too wet, thus causing less stress on the plants. Water evaporation, use and frequency of watering are also greatly reduced.

The simplest and most common form of wicking bed is to have a flower pot standing in saucer of water so the water wicks up into the soil.

This is how I constructed my wicking beds:

Setting-Up

 I picked up some used vegetable boxes from our local organic shop, then sourced the piping from our local recycle center.

The box is lined with plastic to ensure it holds water. I used a couple of heavy duty rubbish bags. Drain holes were drilled in the larger pipe I used as part of the water reservoir, and an opening created for the filler pipe.

2-Drain-Pipes

 In some of the boxes I used 2 pipes in the bottom to keep the weight of the boxes down for ease of moving them (while the reservoir is dry) at later dates. I then filled the bottom with gravel.

Gravel-Added

The gravel I used was some I already had. Organic matter can be used instead of gravel, which will have the added bonus of forming a compost tea and feed the plants as well as watering them. If you use wood chips they will reduce the available nitrogen levels so it is best to add extra nitrogen, such as blood and bone. It is best not to use sand around the pipes as it can have a tendency to clog up.

Netting

I then placed shade cloth over the gravel to stop the soil falling into the water reservoir.The extra plastic was also trimmed off.

A hole about a centimeter round was made in the side of the box at the level where the gravel and soil meet – the level of the shade cloth. This let any extra water out to stop the box becoming soggy and water logged.

When topping the wicking bed with water you know the reservoir is full when water starts coming out of the drain hole.

Soil-Added

Choose a nice, light compost soil with good water retention properties to fill your wicking bed with.

The surface of the bed should be dry.  When you plant seeds you can wet the surface, but after they have germinated and developed a root system, you only water from the pipes.

I use a dry bamboo garden stake to dip down the filler pipe to check the water level.

Wicking-BedIt is as easy and inexpensive as that!  In no time the wicking bed is producing lush herbs and veges with very little space or maintenance needed.

Untitled-2Shared on: Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Old Fashioned Friday, Small Footprint Friday, Simple Saturdays, Simply Natural Saturdays

A Personal Journey

Rainbow-ParrotLiving Better with Less is a personal journey, just like any other Life experience. What is important to and valued by each one of us, is unique. That’s what makes Life such a colorful tapestry. How much or how little is needed for each person to feel enough and meaningfully fulfilled, is unique.

It is all about choice. The freedom to choose one thing over another, one thought over another, is the power of our lives.

Society tries to tell us that we aren’t enough as we are, and that having more and better in our lives should be the goal and is the answer to Everything! But does it Really add value to us and our lives?

Does always wanting the latest gadget/technology really improve the quality of our lives? We have more, bigger, better, faster than we had 10, 20 or 30 years ago and we are even more dissatisfied, stressed and time poor than we ever were. There is more theft, violence and unhappiness in the world with each passing decade.

Buying into the concept that more equals better can mean we miss what we have at this moment. We’re constantly waiting for our lives to be complete with more/better, and striving for a day that can basically never come. If now is not enough, how will we ever recognize what Is enough. We only know and experience ‘not enough’. It is the continual drive for more that is the driving force rather than what we have or don’t have. We can’t enjoy today if we have labeled it inferior, lacking and not enough.

Too often in life we are focused on what we don’t have rather than what we do have. And we all know that what we focus on grows.

If we can focus on and are grateful for what we do have, then what we are grateful for grows.

Spend Less, Have More

When we spend less money on what really is unnecessary, we have more to spend in ways that are more meaningful to the uniqueness of who we are. As an example, having long showers means less to me, has less value to me than having to earn more money to pay for them. So I choose to take fewer and shorter showers and can live on less money. In my case, the money I save buys me more freedom and time to myself, but for someone else it might mean the ability to travel more, or to get closer to living freehold off-grid.

Start noticing what you need and value most and start to eliminate what doesn’t matter so much or that which feels more like a ‘have to’ or a burden.

We can recognize what is most important to us by the gratitude and appreciation we feel for it – Love. If we don’t really love something, it is not necessary to us. It needs to make us feel good, happy and excite or enliven us, or it is just clutter.
It is normal to feel fear at changes and letting go. But if something makes us feel sad, lifeless, burdened and like we ‘have to’, then that needs to be looked at first to see how necessary it really is to our happy, meaningfully fulfilled life.

Remember the words of Joseph Campbell, ” Follow your Bliss”. That’s where our purpose and passion is.

Quality rather than quantity

Less is More: More You, More Life, More Freedom, More Joy . . . it just is more meaningfully valuable to the Uniqueness of who you are.

What adds to your special, unique quality of Life and what takes away from it or buries it under a pile of clutter?

Ask yourself what is hindering you on your unique path to Living Better with Less.

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Untitled-2Shared on: Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Old-Fashioned Friday, Small Footprint Friday, Simple Saturday, Natural Living Monday

The 6 Rs – a great way to track your environmental impact and reduce waste

Cats-Claw

Cat’s Claw Baskets

Out of sight, out of mind is a modern day motto about our waste. It may be out of our minds but this is how long it can last in landfill:

  • A banana skin – till next week
    A paper bag – till next month
    Cotton or orange peel – for about 6 months
    An old woolen sock – till next year
    A milk carton – till 2018
    A cigarette butt – till 2022
    A nylon jacket or leather shoes – till 2050
    A tin can – till 2060
    Disposable nappies – till 2500
    Plastic bags – till 3000
    A plastic jug – till the year 5000 or longer

Use the 6 R’s to ask yourself what else you could do to help protect our wonderful environment and save money in the process?

Reduce & Refuse

Many of the problems created by waste can be addressed by reducing the amount of waste we produce in the first place.  Choose products with no or reduced packaging, or re-usable packaging, ie refillable containers. Buy in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging you collect. This can also save you money.

Refuse plastic bags. Keep re-usable bags handy so you have them when you need them.

Replace single use, disposable items (cups, plates, etc.) with more permanent solutions.

Reduce waste by refusing to thoughtlessly buy things you don’t need. “Do you really need all the stuff you think you need?”

There is a lot of satisfaction in making things yourself!

There is a lot of satisfaction in making things yourself!

Re-use

Choose items that can be re-used ie choose rechargeable batteries over batteries that are used once and then disposed of. Cloth nappies/diapers cost a little more initially, but can be re used over and over again, then re-purposed as a rag later.

Choose well-made durable items. These products may cost a little more but their lifespan will be longer. When you re-use items you’ve bought they become more cost-effective. You’ll not only reduce waste but also help reduce the amount of energy used to manufacture new products.
Save on plastic wraps and freezer bags in the kitchen by using re-usable containers as much as possible.

Re-Think & Re-purpose

Before you throw it out, ask yourself, can this item be re-purposed?
It’s amazing how many things can have a second or even third life. If you can’t re-purpose something, there may be someone else who can.

Wash glass jars and use them again to store food or things like buttons, paint, glue, beads or nails, anything really. You can also give glass jars to friends or groups who make jams.

Cat’s Claw is a vine that grows over and smothers trees and natural habitats. A group of us used to meet periodically, pull the vine off the trees and weave it into baskets, light-shades and anything else we could think of. We used to sit in nature, with the children playing around us, and share stories and wisdom while we freed the trees and re-purposed the vines.

Up cycle! Create art & fashion from trash and pre-loved items. Let your soul and creative impulses run free.

Some of our Cat's Claw weaving was displayed in the foyer of the local Art Gallery.

Some of our Cat’s Claw weaving was displayed in the foyer of the local Art Gallery.

Repair & Refurbish

When choosing an item to purchase, consider whether it can be repaired or is just another throw away item. Repairing household items instead of replacing them can be a great way to reduce waste and save money. You might also be helping keep local specialist services like repairers and refurbishers in business, or learn to do it yourself. Charities might want your broken goods to turn into recycled products.

Corporations and big business want us to keep purchasing more and more to keep the financial economy continually growing, to the detriment of all else. This is why more and more of today’s products are designed to be replaced, thrown away, and the sooner the better, so you will hurry up and purchase more. This is why it is so imperative to consider the 6 R’s before you make a purchase and before trashing anything.

A refurbished silver tea tray is given a new lease of life with some paint and a transfer.

A refurbished silver tea tray is given a new lease of life with some paint and a transfer.

Recycle

Most organic items, (natural paper, produce, garden waste) can be recycled in a home compost bin or worm farm. Grass clippings can be used as garden mulch. Food scraps can be fed to pets. See whether your trash could be treasure for someone else.

When you buy recycled products, you’re saving resources and reducing the impacts of pollution.
Other household waste can be put in a recycle bin. These usually include glass, hard plastics, aluminium and steel, paper, cardboard and milk or juice cartons. Contact your local council – they may collect other items for recycling, ie mobile phones and printer cartridges, larger electronic and electrical products, or building materials.

If you’re building or renovating, consider using recycled materials such as windows or floorboards—you can save money and add character at the same time.

Recycle unwanted plastic bags by giving them to charity stores or other people who may use them.

Give unwanted clothes, household items, furniture or appliances to family or friends, or donate them to charities.

An old bathtub becomes a great place to grow herbs and veges without having to bend down or dig the soil.

An old bathtub becomes a great place to grow herbs and veges without having to bend down or dig the soil.

Respect

In order to understand what it means to be a part of the waste and pollution solution, you must have respect. Respect for all things: people, animals, bugs, birds, fish, rivers, lakes, oceans, trees, mountains . . . Respect the products and all it took to get them to you. Check out where things are made and how they got to the store you’re in. Read the labels, know what you’re really buying.

Ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” before you buy anything.

By thinking about what you really need and refusing what you don’t, giving items more than one life and disposing of rubbish thoughtfully, you can reduce waste and show others that you value our resources and the environment.

Respect yourself and your world enough to Be part of a solution.


Be the change you want to see.

Untitled-2Shared on: Frugal Days, Old-Fashioned Friday, Small Footprint Friday, Simple Saturdays, Mountain Woman Rendezvous, Natural Living Monday, Simply Natural Saturdays

Therapeutic Uses for Ginger

Ginger-grated1If you thought ginger was just used as a flavoring in Chinese cooking and ginger ale, think again. The recorded history of Ginger goes back 5000 years where Indians and ancient Chinese considered it a tonic root for all ailments.

In the Middle Ages trade in spices like ginger could be associated with one’s wealth and power. The historical reverence for and use of ginger is simply staggering, with Chinese pharmacopeias claiming long term use of fresh ginger and writings of the Koran describing ginger as a beverage of the holiest heavenly spirits.

Ginger was also valued as an aphrodisiac, undoubtedly due to its widespread use as a systemic tonic, hormone balancer, energy enhancer, and agent for improving the digestion and circulation. Virtually every culture has recorded the virtues of ginger as a digestive aid. Confucius wrote as far back as 500 B.C. of never being without ginger when he ate. The Japanese soothed spinal and joint pain with it. The Chinese found it helpful with tooth aches, symptoms of a cold, flu and hangover. . .

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Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a warming spice that comes from the same family as cardamom and turmeric.

Modern scientific studies have revealed ginger’s numerous therapeutic qualities, which include analgesic, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antifungal, expectorant, anti-clotting and hypotensive.

The following are some general health benefits attributed to the use of Ginger:

Reducing pain – Ginger is an extremely potent analgesic, acting as an all-natural painkiller without the harmful side effects. It is also effective in alleviating tired, sore muscles and joints. A warm ginger tea soak can lessen swelling and puffiness, or rubbing ginger oil or liniment on an affected area can help reduce pain. Ginger ingested twice daily has been shown to improve the pain and swelling of the joints in arthritic patients and improves their range of motion.

Inflammation – Inflammation is the body’s natural healing response to illness or injury. Inflammation subsides as the body heals. However, in some conditions, including arthritis, diverticulosis, gallbladder inflammation, and heart disease, the inflammation does not go away. It becomes chronic and leads to many other problems. Ginger is particularly useful in treating chronic inflammation because it partially inhibits two important enzymes that play a role in inflammation gone awry — cyclooxygenase (COX) and 5-lipoxygenase (LOX).

A strong ginger tea is a great remedy for aches and pains, as one of its active compounds, gingerol, possesses great anti-inflammatory and anti-histaminic properties. Ginger tea can ease inflammation of the joints, which is commonly referred to as rheumatoid arthritis

Cancer – The anti-carcinogenic effects of ginger have been shown to be so potent, that in the case of ovarian cancer cells, it is capable of causing cancerous cell death due to the combination of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, in effect having anti-tumor properties in the process.

Nausea – Gingers healing properties come from it’s volatile oils (gingerols and shogaols). These oils cause more digestive enzymes to be produced, which helps with the whole digestive process and neutralizes the acids that can cause nausea, cramps and even diarrhea. It also decreases bacterial infections in the stomach. As a stomach-calming agent, ginger can also reduce gas, bloating, and indigestion. It is also a valuable deterrent to intestinal worms, particularly roundworms.

Improved cardiovascular health – Ginger contains chromium, magnesium and zinc which help to improve blood flow. Ginger also prevents platelets from clumping together in the bloodstream. This serves to thin the blood and reduce your risk of atherosclerosis and blood clots.

Reduced risk of stroke – Consuming a little bit ginger a day can help reduce potential risk of a stroke by inhibiting fatty deposits in the arteries.

Colds & Respiratory Problems – Ginger can ease the effects of a cold by acting as a decongestant to release phlegm. The volatile oils and vitamins in ginger provide antiviral properties that help in the prevention and fast recovery from colds, sore throat, sinusitis and flu. Ginger is also effective in helping to relieve asthma symptoms. Packed with antioxidants, ginger can help improve the immune system.

Ginger may even improve some cases of constant severe dizziness and vertigo. It may also be useful for some migraine headaches.

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Some therapeutic ways to use Ginger:

Tea – Ginger tea is easy to make. I often use the tatty ends after grating ginger and any dried up bits of ‘fresh ginger’, to make into a tea. Ginger tea boosts the digestive system, helps with peripheral circulation, helps to lower BP, is anti-inflammatory, lowers pain of arthritis and sore muscles, and helps battle a bad cough and throat irritation.
Put 3 – 6 thin slices of fresh ginger root in a tea pot and fill with boiling water. Slowly sip at it throughout the day. Or alternately put dried, powdered ginger into a teapot (1/4 teaspoon per cup of boiling water) and fill with boiling water. Sweeten with honey if desired. Or serve with a slice of lemon.
The dose for children is ¼ cup every two to three hours. Adults can sip away all day drinking 3 cups during the course of the day.

Ginger-Tea

Infused Oil – Slice thinly or grate fresh ginger into a jar, cover it with good quality olive, coconut, sesame or almond oil. Or put about a teaspoon or two of dried, powdered ginger in about a cup of oil. Shake well and allow to infuse for about six weeks in a cool, dark place. Shake every couple days or as often as you remember. Then strain the oil through a cheese cloth and store in a sterilized jar with a tight lid. This will keep at least a year if stored properly and good quality oil is used.
Ginger root oil can be rubbed onto achy joints to help relieve some of the pains associated with arthritic conditions and general muscular discomfort. Another use is placing 2 to 3 drops on a piece of cotton or cotton ball and placing in an aching ear for several hours.

Salve
If you find using the oil a bit messy, you can turn it into a slave by adding wax to it. Combine together 2 tablespoons of the oil and a teaspoon of beeswax in a heat proof small jar. Put the jar in a pan with a few inches of water in the bottom – to act vaguely as a double boiler. Slowly heat the water until the beeswax melts. Stir and pour into a small jar or tin. Allow to set then cap and store in a cool, dark cabinet. Apply as needed.

Compress
A compress or poultice, is helpful for painful joints, muscle sprains, chest or lung congestion or stomach aches. Make a tea, soak a piece of flannel or washcloth for about 5 minutes, wring out and immediately place on the painful area. Cover with brown paper or plastic sheeting, then a towel, then a heating pad or hot water bottle, then another towel. Leave on for 20 minutes. Repeat if needed.

Liniment
A ginger liniment is warming and can increase blood circulation and help when you’re feeling stiff and achy. To make a liniment follow the same procedure as with the infused oil except instead of oil use Apple Cider Vinegar. ACV has it’s own healing properties to add to the liniment. Re-bottle the liniment in a dark colored bottle. Make sure to clearly label that this is for external use only and keep out of reach of children. Rub this on strained muscles and areas of arthritic pain. Add a few drops of an essential oil like Eucalyptus or Lavender for added therapeutic benefit and fragrance.

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Mango Chutney

Mango-Chutney-topI love mangoes. I love them raw, I love them cooked – in anything; cakes, jams, chutneys, smoothies. . . So when I was taking my dog for a run one morning (she was running, I was riding my bike) I was pretty excited to come across a mango tree on public land, with mangoes on it. Under the tree were 2 as yet unripe mangoes, obviously knocked off by the wind or something. I picked these treasures up and headed home. They were a hybrid variety of mango, so the tree had been planted where it was. Over the next few weeks I managed to collect half a dozen of these ‘windfalls’.

I decided to use them to make chutney.

Unripe Native Mangoes still on the tree

Unripe Native Mangoes still on the tree

A friend had a huge native mango tree in her back yard, and put the word out for anyone who wanted some to come and get them before the bats/flying foxes got them all. They weren’t yet ripe, but I collected as many of the bigger ones as I could reach. This would mean quite a few jars of chutney rather than just one.

Bat

Flying Foxes come and eat the fruit as it starts to ripen.

Chutneys are really very simple and straight forward to make. Here is how I made my Mango Chutney:

Ingredients:

2 kg mango flesh
3 onions finely chopped
4 apples peeled and finely chopped
2 tomatoes, skinned and sliced into squares
1 level teaspoon chili flakes
300g sultanas
4 cloves of garlic
2 cups sugar (coconut sugar)
Piece of fresh ginger finely grated – I used a piece about 1 x 2 inches
5 cups vinegar  (Apple Cider Vinegar)
¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Method:

As I hadn’t purchased a tray of nicely ripened mangoes, I had to add a few extra steps into the preparation of the mangoes. Firstly I put them in a newspaper lined box to ripen.

The Native Mango is Very stringy when ripe, making it hard to eat or use. To get past this I cut the mango flesh up into smallish squares just as the mango started to ripen – before the fibers had chance to develop. The few mangoes that ripened into the stringy stage before I had chance to get the flesh cut into little squares and frozen, I would peel and squeeze the juice off, leaving the seed and fibers behind. I froze this juice too, ready for making the chutney later, once I had collected all the mango flesh.

When I was ready to make the chutney, I put all the ingredients in a large saucepan and slowly brought it to the boil. I let it simmer slowly, without a lid on for about 2 hours, stirring regularly to stop it sticking or burning on the bottom. The lid is off the pot so liquid can evaporate, leaving tastier and thicker chutney behind.

When the chutney was ready I sterilized my preserving jars in hot water, filled them with the chutney still hot from the stove. Wiping any spills from round the top to ensure a good seal, I then screwed the lids on, and left them to cool.

Mango-Chutney

Voila!

Delicious Mango Chutney to complement any meal and enough for the year ahead!

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Old-Fashioned Friday

Distractions

100_1216This is the Information age, but along with all the good this brings, there is also a darker side.

Our modern world has become a constant source of information and entertainment, distractions. We take our phones with us everywhere we go to stay connected to the cyber world – connected 24/7 to internet, emails, messaging, and information.

Then there is the bombardment of advertisements nearly everywhere we look – telephone, internet, radio, tv, billboards, newspapers, magazines, movies, sports fields . . . the list is almost endless.

Entertainment is also available 24/7 – movies, internet games, clubs & pubs . . . Each enter our mind and gain control of our attention and resources. We no longer need to listen to our own inner messages or think for ourselves. As we are ‘entertained’ and told what to ‘know’, what to think and do continually, an intentional life becomes a distant memory. Actually, for some, I think an intentional life just feels too hard.

The urge to check up on our Facebook friends steals more of our time than the friends right in front of us. Constantly checking emails, messages, missed phone calls and even just in case we missed ‘Something’, ‘Anything’.

The overload of trivial and unnecessary information distractions, may pull our attention from the life right in front of us, or keep us from realizing the life we truly desire … and yet, these distractions go virtually unnoticed for what they are. They are seen as necessary, important and normal, rather than the addictive habit they become – a distraction from anything authentic and real.

All around us, nearly every moment of the day, messages are battling for space in our minds. They are promoting products, information, ‘entertainment’ and ‘educating’ us on our lives and how to live them. Our lives go un-investigated and un-evaluated. As a result, we are lured by them away from any true significance in our lives. And our greatest needs and desires go unmet.

Advertisers foster a sense of dissatisfaction by promising greater happiness with their products. And because we are so used to giving our attention away, we easily fall pray to their message without even realizing it. Like all the other distractions, they start to feel real. Materialism is, after all, a natural behavior born out of discontent with who we are and the image we think we project. It is discontent that opens up our heart to many of the unhealthy habits and distractions in our lives.

Often times, the things we own can end up owning us and become yet another distraction to our lives. We spend time and money researching them, purchasing them, organizing them, cleaning them, fixing them, discarding them, and replacing them – not to mention acquiring the money to purchase them, house them, maintain them, take care of them and ultimately replace them.

But, thankfully there are ways out of the distraction dilemma.

An Attitude of Gratitude

If discontent is the cause of many of our unhealthy habits and distractions, contentment is the cure. Gratitude is the feeling and expression of thankfulness for who we are and what we have right now, opening the door to contentment. It causes us to focus on the good things we already have regardless of our present circumstances, improving our well-being in almost every regard.

Moments with yourself

Next time you desire to make a purchase, check Facebook, work late, or engage in a habit that controls you . . . pause. Begin to practice moments of solitude away from the distractions of this world. The more you cultivate this practice, the more comfortable you’ll become with it. And the more comfortable you become with it, the more you’ll allow this silence to reveal your true hearts desires.

Getting Clear

Every so often, you need to slow down long enough to notice the focus of your life. With your attention and focus you create yourself and your life. Get clear about what matters to you most, what your true needs are and what your core values are. Build a solid foundation of what is true for you, to live your life from.

Happy and content people are clear about what truly matters to them and they return to it again and again, day after day. They base all of their thoughts, words, and actions from this foundation.

If we give our attention and focus away, there is none left for us to notice and run our own lives.

Allow yourself to dream and be who you were born to be. Then set small, achievable goals to move towards that.

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