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Our Favorite All Natural Cleaning ProductsPart 1

Since being diagnosed with Chronic Neurological Lyme disease I’ve developed several allergies and sensitivities that weren’t a problem just 10 short years ago.

Chemicals tend to be one of my biggest problems, and this is something that really bothers me because I’m such a clean freak.

Because of this sensitivity, I started exploring more natural, holistic ways of cleaning my home and body a few years ago.

These cleaners not only work just as well, if not better than their commercial contemporaries, but they are also less expensive, safer for yourself and your environment and have multiple uses in the home, meaning less cleaners to keep on hand.

Combine these with no-toss helpers like rags instead of paper towels, or reclaimed veggie netting as scrubbers instead of steel wool or soaped-scrubbing pads and these are fantastic for saving both your body and your budget.

As we grow and develop the eco-farm portion and farm store on Osiyo, we’ll be offering many of these organic cleaning alternatives for resale, or their components.

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ALL PURPOSE CLEANER

This all-purpose cleaner is for exactly what it says. I use it in my kitchen, bathroom, with my furniture and floors. I do not wash my dishes with it however you could as all the ingredients are organic and food safe.

  • 1 cup spring water (well water, but tap water isn’t so great as it has chlorine in it and other chemical additives)
  • ¼ cup vinegar (white, not ACV)
  • ¼ cup soap nut concentrate (See recipe below)
  • 4 – 6 drops Tea Tree Oil for antimicrobial, antiseptic and antifungal action

Put all ingredients in a spray bottle and use as needed. No need for refrigeration and the mixture does not separate much, just a gentle shake re-blends.

Use this cleaner anywhere in your home, from counters to food prep surfaces, to floors and even on glass and metals that you don’t want to streak.

ALL-NATURAL LAUNDRY DETERGENT

Soap Nuts to the rescue again! We love these little fruits of the soap nut tree for their versatility AND eco-friendly status. Using soap nuts as laundry detergent will be paramount on the farm as we will be using a gray-water harvesting system for help in the gardens and greenhouses.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Muslin drawstring bag, or recycle an old pair of stockings or thin footed tights by using the foot portion cut away from the leg
  • 7 – 10 soap nuts

DIRECTIONS:

Tie the soap nuts into the muslin bag or the recycled hose or tights and drop them into the wash. These are best when used in hot or warm water. See the cold water recipe, SOAPNUT CONCENTRATE below.

These nuts can be used for approximately 4 – 7 loads depending on load size before they start to lose their potency in the wash. BUT, DO NOT throw them out because the nuts can then be boiled and ground into another cleaning product.

 SOAPNUT CONCENTRATE

This is the core of a lot of our cleaning products. This concentrate can be used alone as a dish detergent, shampoo and cold water or liquid laundry detergent. It can also be whipped and used as a shower gel, shaving cream and body wash.

To create the concentrate, place about 20 already-used soap nuts into a medium sized stock pot. Add 4 cups of water depending on the number of soap nuts you have. Less water makes for a stronger concentrate.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let cool.  Once cool, store it I the containers you intend to use it with and you’re good to go.

 ALTERNATIVE NATURAL LAUNDRY DETERGENT

For a natural detergent that whitens a bit better, you can use the soap nut concentrate mixed with 2 – 4 tablespoons of natural borax. There is some debate as to whether or not Borax is toxic. I’m in the “not toxic for cleaners” camp, personally, and feel safe using in on the farm and in gray water systems. However, Wellness Momma wrote an excellent article about the toxicity of Borax. Please read it then you can be your own judge.

 NATURAL NO STREAK GLASS CLEANER

  • 4 Parts White Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Natural Lemon Juice

Place ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well. Use with an upcycled t-shirt rag or other lint-free cloth the same way you would use commercial cleaners and paper towels. If you still get a printed newspaper they are EXCELLENT for use in this application. Just wad the paper up, then unwad and use as you would a paper towel.

ALL-NATURAL TOILET BOMBS

Since the houses on the land trust will be tied to a conventional septic system, we will be using regular ceramic toilets in our construction. Keeping a toilet clean, sanitized and fresh is very important, and we want to use natural cleaners to do it. We love these bombs because you can drop it in the toilet and forget it. The natural fizzing action helps the bombs scrub the toilet and they can be used daily for an always-fresh bathroom.  We got our base recipe from DIY Natural and adjusted both the strength and the scent to suit our own tastes.

 INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup citric acid (find it at your grocers or whole foods store in the canning section)
  • 1 cup Natural Borax OR Corn Starch
  • 1 Gallon zippered bag OR mixing bowl
  • Water in a Spray Bottle
  • A mold of your choice. I actually use tiny ice trays that have a silicone base but you can use any mold you choose
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons (about 40 drops) food grade essential oil of your favorite clean scent (I use orange oil)
  • 10 drops Tea Tree oil (for extra antiseptic qualities)

DIRECTIONS:

Put the dry ingredients into your baggie or bowl land mix with your hands until well kneaded. If you are doing this with your hands in a bowl, please wear gloves! Now, start spritzing in the water, a little at a time, and knead well until the moisture is absorbed. Do this about five times, not spritzing too much. Too much moisture makes a bad bomb. (No pun intended.)

Now add in the essential oils and continue kneading until the mixture sticks together in a clump when you squeeze it.

Place the mixture into the molds and let air dry for 5 days. Unmold and place in a storage container in your bathroom and drop one in daily for a nice, clean and sanitized bath.

If you’re looking for more natural cleaning products, be sure to check out the blogs below.

 

And be sure to sign up for the newsletter so you’re notified of new blog updates and features as well as membership savings in our shop ONLY available to our VIP List.

Next week we’re going to go over some of our all-natural hair and skin care recipes.

See you then!

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Developing A Sense of Ownership Community-wide

One of our biggest goals with Osiyo Eco Village Farms is to foster a sense of ownership and pride in it’s citizens through the programs we develop.
We want our people to know that we see them as valuable and productive, no matter what limitations they have faced. We also want to help foster their own sense of self-esteem and accomplishment – something that can be totally depleted after having lived in abject poverty.
To achieve this goal, and our desire to be a completely self-sustaining society, our citizens will be offered the chance to use their own skills and abilities by working in the businesses we plan to develop for our village.

These businesses will include:
• The farm itself including gardening, animal husbandry, butchery and processing of the farms products and byproducts
• A Farm to table restaurant
• A general store featuring products by created by the farm and individual citizens art and handyworks
• A cabinetry and small furniture wood shop
• A small engine repair shop
• A bakery and charcutier (handmade sausages, etc)
• Public classes for learning farm and home skills such as gardening and cooking, butchery, etc.
• An event venue
• A food truck
• Clothing and home goods pantry where members of the community may exchange unused items for new ones

Each citizen who opts to work in one of these facilities will be paid a fair and living wage, 10% of which will be deducted to pay for housing, which will not exceed $150 per month.

We want to offer these positions because we know that there are many in our targeted demographic that have wonderful skills and abilities but have not been given the chance to use them due to their current circumstances, past records or simply a sense of loss of self. It is our belief that by providing these positions and including them as part of our live-work program, our citizens will not only regain their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment, but will be able to have a sense of ownership in their community through the work they do.

More Determined Than Ever Before

Let me just preface this post by saying I hate Thursdays.  I know its only one day away from the weekend, but it seems that all the bad things that happen in our lives occur on a Thursday. Today is no different and even though it’s only 7:15 in the morning, we’ve already gotten off to a bad start.

For us, Thursday’s are paydays. Rob always goes early on Thursday mornings to grab the rent money from the bank, because the place we rent from does not take debit or credit card (I know, too strange these days), and a few items from the grocery – usually coffee, creamer and something for his lunch.  Money is always tight, but we usually manage to make it through well. However, for the past two paydays (he gets paid every two weeks), a garnishment has been taken out of his check for taxes that we owe from the time of the economic downturn – or as I call it, the “crash”.

We do not dispute that we owe these taxes and in fact are more than happy to get them paid off considering what we want to do in the future. Had we known that we owed the taxes, they would have been paid sooner, but that’s neither here nor there. No, we do not dispute the tax assessment against us. However, the agreement states that the amount taken from his check is not to exceed 25% per pay period. BUT, the company that handles the payroll for his place of employment has been taking 50% every payday – two full payments at once, twice a month! Once we pay rent, this leaves us with $50 to do everything we need to do for the next 14 days – eat, put gas in the car, do laundry. I have personally not had clean clothes to wear for over a month now, except the few things I can manage to wash in the sink and hang to dry.

So, no, this morning did not start out great. In fact, it started with both of us being upset, a bit shell-shocked that this is STILL an ongoing issue even though he spent the better part of a day on the phone with this payroll company last payday and was assured it had all been straightened out and that the amount they took in overage would be on this week’s check.

In the car, on the way to his job, I could tell his blood pressure was already high. His breathing was intensified, he was red in the face and he was taking everything as a personal afront – a clear indication of his hypertension in action. I had to bite my tongue several times and tell myself that we’re both under a lot of stress and that this was not anything either of us could control.

“Honey, we’re in this together, and we’ll find a way to be okay.” I said to him as I dropped him at the door, but as I drove away I prayed “God, I don’t know that we’re going to be okay. I really don’t.”

As I drove home I thought about all the things that have happened to us since 2010 and all the news that continues today that the economy is improving and that there are more jobs now and that standards of living are on the rise and I got a bit angry. Where are they getting their numbers from? More importantly, what age brackets and factions of society are they looking at when they do these surveys and studies?

The truth is as I look around my own community I see where these numbers just do not add up – 25 year-olds who were in the foster care system now forced into menial labor for less than a living wage just to survive; vets who cannot get proper medical care, proper housing assistance or any other kind of assistance forced to live in one-room motels just to keep a roof over their heads; and people like us, who’ve lost everything and seem to keep loosing ground no matter how hard they fight – over 50 but under retirement age, sick and unable to seek medical treatment.

The fact is that once you’ve hit poverty, it’s a steep and slippery climb back out and many do not make it Poverty in and of its self-poses a whole new set of problems that have little and everything to do with money. Without money, an unfortunate but necessary evil in today’s world, you cannot afford proper nutrition nor medical care. Without those two things, you soon begin to experience illness, which generates more debt due to doctor’s bills and missed days from work This, in turn, causes a decrease in funding for proper and well-maintained shelter, and the ability to set anything aside for a better future. It’s a never-ending cycle that needs to be broken, but how?

The necessity for cash for all things is where we lose it. The barter system does not work for certain necessities and if it does the goods exchanged or services exchanged are often not enough nor the right kind to aid where needed. Many things that are basic tenants of above-poverty level lifestyles cannot be bartered for – gas for vehicles to and from work, above sub-standard housing, good, nutritious and healthy food and medical care, and often, energy (gas, water and electrical) cannot be bartered for and in those instances where they can be traded in exchange for a live-work arrangement, the workload far outweighs the benefits provided.

We are making it our life’s mission, through the creation of Osiyo Eco Village Farms, to change this standard and provide real solutions for real-life problems.

Over the next few weeks, if we can maintain the hosting of this website, I will be publishing a series of articles that describe in better detail not only the challenges we are currently facing but also the benefits and solutions we hope to provide with Osiyo. I’ll also be looking at some other living, working models of the type of community we plan to build, as comparison studies.

The hosting of this website is $19.00 Per Month. If you would like to donate and help us grow, please use the button below.

Thank you,

Rob and Cher

Osiyo Eco Village Farms founders




Why an Eco Village?

When we first began dreaming about having our own farm, the idea of a village was far from our minds. “We can help people in our own way.” We thought.  As the years progressed, though, and we began to experience some seriously life-altering set-backs, we realized that our thinking was far too small to make any lasting, drastic impact on anyone’s lives, including our own.

When we say we want to build a sustainable eco-village, our idea of sustainability includes more than farming or living methods. Our ideal of sustainable living includes providing those things that all communities need in order to not only survive but to thrive and grow and be available for future generations.

All communities, whether urban or rural, need access to water, food, and resources. These resources are where the largest of our efforts in planning have been concentrated.

The portion of our society that we intend to serve first and foremost, is a portion that, unfortunately, is hard to service through conventional means. People with criminal backgrounds, drug histories and health issues who find it difficult at best to obtain gainful employment, housing or housing assistance and vital services such as healthcare, education, and vocational training. In many cases, these factions of society are relegated to menial labor positions at a barely-livable or below poverty wage. Eventually, they are either forced into housing communities.

A community that is either solely or largely reliant on outside resources for its basic needs – food, water, energy – the system, over time, begins to crumble. In the case of a disaster a non-self reliant community can be, and in certain cases has been, completely obliterated, forcing its inhabitants to either re-build with a better model or move on.

By creating a community that provides services to our surrounding communities, rather than relying on services and outside resources, we are planning for a future that can and will avoid these issues.

Aside from having the farm to generate our food, and using sustainable reclamation practices for daily living, waste production and the byproducts of human existence, we plan to have several other programs in place to provide an income for the community as well as for our individual residents. In our next few posts, we’ll be discussing some of these plans and what they will mean for us and our neighboring communities. We want to become a model for others to start such eco-villages and make our world a better place.

 

 

The Rules of Building Compassionate Communities

During the past 24 months, we’ve had ample opportunity to observe a community much like the one we want to create – operate on a day-to-day basis and have been privy to some of the decisive conversations that take place to create their operating procedures. What we’ve seen, heard and read has both shocked and appalled us at some points and given us pause to consider our own desires and living standards for Osiyo Eco Village.

What We’ve Learned

People from all walks of life fall on hard times and can become indigent at any moment. All it takes is a single, catastrophic incident, and it is impossible and highly unethical to lump all people who need help into a single category. Not all homeless people are there by choice, not all are drunks, drug addicts, and grifters or scammers and not all are lazy.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest proponents of homelessness is the very system that was set up to prevent it. There are so many rules and regulations in place to qualify for help, that are actually stumbling blocks for large populations that need the help most. Those who’ve been incarcerated for a period of time and are either still on paper (parole, probation, etc) can have extreme difficulty in finding stable, decent housing due to rules against providing low-income rental property to individuals with certain offenses or who are still on paper. Most public housing communities do not allow any resident who has a felony record, and many privatized property management companies will not allow anyone who has a drug or theft charge within the past 7 years.  When a basic tenet of human existence is made unreachable by those who are genuinely trying to change their life’s path, it is almost inevitable that past behaviors will be repeated.

One of the reasons we’ve observed these patterns is because Osiyo will be a community filled with people who are starting over, and many of those will have records, or be on parole or probation, and will have a drug history.

Through our observations we’ve learned one very important lesson: If you treat people as they are worthless, they soon begin to believe and act as if they are worthless.

CASE IN POINT

In our current community situation, the owner – who shall remain nameless for the sake of liable – refuses to invest any actual maintenance or development into the property. The property its self-was built in 1955 and has been added on to, broken apart, and partly removed since then. What remains is a small motor lodge with 42 rooms that were at one time considered “travel lodge suites” with a small kitchenette. They were never intended to be long-term homes, however, some members of the community have been here as long as 17 years. We have been here 2.

In this facility, you cannot rent a room for more than 2 weeks at a time, therefore your status remains “homeless” even though you live in the same place. While it is understandable from a landlord or owner’s perspective to not want to change the rental terms due to tax and city codes, for those who rent, it can be very detrimental.

Because the properties are run down and neglected, the type of people who move in is often those who are actively dealing or using narcotics such as meth or heroin.  This brings with it other elements – theft, destruction of property, fighting and prostitution – as well as the possibility of meth psychosis or overdose. The police are on the property at least three times a week, and people being evicted for domestic violence, or other crimes, is not uncommon.

Studies have shown that in order to create a community that is peaceful, productive and proud, the actual housing and neighborhood structure needs to be maintained so that those who live there feel they have reason to maintain the property and mind the rules.

When rules are loosely, or disproportionately enforced, those who are good, law-abiding, hard-working community members, begin to fill as if their efforts to maintain and create a good life are being thwarted, while those who continue to do wrong, are rewarded.

Another area of concern is the fact that according to Missouri Law and Federal Law, many of the rules enforced by management are not legal. Yet the people that rent here are in a position of not being able to argue this point for fear of being evicted with nowhere to go.

  • Deposits are not returned or refunded, even if you clean the room to a cleaner status than it was when you moved in
  • Some people are allowed to have “service animals” even though those animals do not have tags or vests, and are considered “emotional support animals” while others are told they cannot have an ESA, even with proper registration, chips, and training.
  • Residents are not allowed to change their rooms in any way or fix anything wrong in the rooms.
  • Many of the rooms do not have windows that open or open with no screens allowing disease-carrying insects inside. Hood vents do not work over ranges and there is not proper ventilation nor egress in case of fire or emergency.
  • The wiring is the original 1955 wiring with very few changes
  • The entire facility is serviced by 3 hot water tanks and depending on your location on the property you may wait up to 45 minutes to have enough hot water to take a shower, wash dishes or clean
  • The laundry facility on the property, while very reasonably priced at first glance, actually costs more than a laundry matt by the time you factor in the 3 trips through the dryer it takes to dry a single load of clothes.
  • Complaints filed with the office for maintenance are taken care of by a single maintenance man who also handles more than 22 other properties, so having anything repaired in an emergency or timely manner is not possible
  • Certain members of the management staff are rude, and cocky with residents, and often feel they are “above” others. This has caused animosity within the community on more than one occasion.

While these issues are serious in themselves, this article is not to denigrate the property or its owners or managers. It is what it is – a temporary living facility that, unfortunately, for many, has become a long-term residence.

And while these issues are disheartening, there are some encouraging benefits. For under $600 per month you are provided a room that is:

  • Within easy access to shopping (Wal-Mart, Dollar Tree, two convenience stores and a gas station)
  • The bus stop is just across the street
  • Rooms are furnished and even include a shower curtain, a roll of toilet paper, pillows, sheets, and covers
  • Except for the two-day rooms, there are mini-fridges, stoves, sinks and a place to prepare food
  • Internet and cable are provided, as is a “room” phone that makes free long-distance calls
  • The longer-term residents have cook-outs and parties and tend to watch out for one another

Still, because of the way things are run, people who live here feel they have very little reason to actually “invest” their skills, their concern, their compassion or their loyalty into the community and what results are a community of shady characters who have no qualms about destroying property or breaking laws. Its the “If no one else cares why should I?” mentality at work. And those who do remain, tend to pull away from the community as a whole, denying newcomers the benefit of their experiences, guidance, and friendship.

OUR DIRECTION

In using the data we’ve collected for the past two years, as well as other research by such entities as HUD, we’ve come to believe that by giving the residents of OSIYO well-maintained homes, a voice in the communities standards and practices, and genuine compassion, we can improve the odds for a better future.

One study provides evidence from major metropolitan areas with nationally known crime and homelessness issues showing the direct correlation between community improvement efforts and the reduction in crime, safety concerns, and drug and gang-related activity, while strengthening relationships not only between the residents themselves, but also between the residents and those put in place to govern them.

At Osiyo, this is our desired goal. We want every person who comes to us for help to find a compassionate, knowledgeable and helpful place to call home, where real solutions to sometimes overwhelming problems can be found and implemented. Our goal is to move people from temporary shelters and housing situations to long-term residency in a healthy, safe, and invested community by giving them not only reasons to invest their time with us but also to invest more in themselves and the world around them.

CONCLUSION

As we close the research phase of our project and move into the beginning phases of development, we will use the data we’ve gathered to develop a sustainable and forward-moving program of residency, a series of community guidelines and by-laws by which our community will operate. Of course, as we grow and expand, we will have to revisit these programs, however, we will have the input of residents who are experiencing life at Osiyo on a daily basis to help us make things better for those coming in next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Motivation: When The Going Get’s Tough, What Keeps You Going?

Let’s get real for a minute, shall we? We all have those days where it seems as if no amount of motivation is going to be enough – those days where we manage to piss off people without trying; where every project seems to flop; where we just can’t seem to muster enough courage, strength or “oomph” to keep moving forward. Those days suck! But how do you get through them?

Launching our signature collection has been my complete focus for the past three months. I’ve worked 20 hour days creating designs, sourcing materials, choosing colors and dreaming of the day I can put the full collection online and call it finished.  In those three months, I’ve stopped and started more times than I care to remember. I’ve thrown fits, pulled at my hair, walked away and come back repeatedly and still I keep moving forward.  Sometimes, I seriously have to ask myself “What’s going to motivate me today?” Because to be honest, there are days when I seriously struggle to keep moving in the direction of my dream, and I know from reading the forums that I belong to, and watching videos on YouTube that I am not alone. We all have those days – you know the ones.

So, I wanted to ask you – when you feel like giving up, throwing in the towel and walking away, what keeps you going? What motivates you to go through one more day, or hour, or sometimes – even another minute? Is it money? Is it accolades? Or is it something deeper?

For me, staying motivated has become crucial to life. I have several different weapons in my arsenal – I go for a walk or watch a good movie, read some motivational quotes on my Pinterest board, read over my goals in my Bullet Journal, have a cup of coffee and a long chat with a friend, and sometimes, I just sit down and have a good cry.  But there are days when it seems that no matter what I do to stay motivated, it’s just not happening. I call those my “no adulting” days. Come on, admit it, you have them too.

On those days I don’t force it. If I cannot work, I cannot work – period. Sometimes its due to legitimate health issues (I urge everyone to research Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease), other days it’s due to other issues that have nothing to do with me in particular but have everything to do with the life I live – whether its a marriage thing, a financial thing, or a mothering thing – and sometimes, its just because. UGH, how I hated that answer from anyone when I was a kid! “Why can’t I do this or that?” I’d ask my mother an hear “Just because.” But now? Now I get it. There are days when “just because” is the best answer I can give.

One thing that has helped me so much on this journey is to not beat myself up so badly. We are our own worst critics, or so its said. I believe it! I’m the first one to notice that I didn’t meet all of my housekeeping goals for the day because a piece I’ve been working on took longer than I expected, or that I didn’t get as much created today as I’d planned on because my day was filled with constant interruptions. Learning how to push me forward without pushing myself down has been one of the most beneficial things in my life.

One of the first things I had to learn to do was let go of the small stuff. In the grand scheme of things, the world isn’t going to collapse if my bed doesn’t get made for a day, or I don’t get dinner on the table at exactly 6 PM. I’ve had to learn that I do not have to answer the phone every time it rings or the door everytime someone knocks. My greatest obligation is to my own well being because without that I cannot care for others. Sometimes, that well being and peace of mind only come when I am busy working toward my goal of the launch.  Learning to let go of the small things that really aren’t that great in the big picture, has helped me maintain some of my focus and motivation, not just in work, but in everything.

I’ve also had to learn how to prioritize. I think, as women, we tend to get our priorities all mixed up depending on where we are in our lives.  When we’re newlyweds, the marriage comes first, then we have children and they come first. What I failed to realize for a long time was that taking care of myself first – my mental and physical health, my emotional and spiritual well being – was crucial to me being able to take care of everyone else’s needs. We can’t draw water from an empty well.

On days when I just cannot “adult” anymore, here are my top five go-to motivation boosters. What are yours? Share with me in the comments below.

  1. Take a hot shower or bath – this always soothes and relaxes me and gives me a fresh feeling
  2. Watch a great inspirational movie or video – I keep Gaia on my bookmarks bar and watch some fantastic personal development videos
  3. I move everything on my “to do” list forward to the next day and just take a day to rest, relax and rejuvenate
  4. I peruse designs on Pinterest
  5. I get out of the house and go for a walk, or go to the store, or just go visit a friend

Want to pin this article and help start the conversation? We’d appreciate it so much!

when the going gets tough what keeps you going pinterest
What keeps you going, motivated and reaching for your dreams? #motivation #moonstruckcharms

 

 

 

A Journey To Gratitude

This is just a brief story about how developing an attitude of Gratitude has changed my life and my health.

At this time last year, I couldn’t walk, couldn’t talk, couldn’t stay awake for more than two or three hours at a time. Leaving my house left me feeling disoriented, and terrified. I got lost and confused easily and in the evenings, when my husband went to work, I locked my door, turned out my lights and stayed in one place, for six hours, terrified of falling and busting my head open or breaking a bone. I was in the deep throws of Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease and I was slowly dying. Finding any part of life to be grateful for was something I couldn’t even imagine.

One of the things that helped me the most on my way through recovery was developing an attitude of gratitude. There is nothing like believing with all your heart that you’re on your way to your grave to make you exceptionally grateful for everything and every moment of your life, even those things we perceive to be bad can conceal a blessing if we will only change our perspective.

For centuries, healers and physicians, shamans and medicine men have known that a positive attitude is crucial for healing illness and benefitting not only the mind and the spirit but the physical body as well. But how do you develop an “attitude of gratitude” when you’re in the middle of a battle? Well, these are the practices I’ve been using for this past 12 months, and they’ve done wonders for me.

SAYING THANK YOU –

Sometimes, even being able to just say “thank you” can be so hard. We’re angry, bitter, broken, confused, afraid, exhausted – whatever we are at any given moment, those things can become stumbling blocks in our lives if we allow them to. I had many days where my journal was filled with things that we take for granted – ‘Today I’m grateful for a hot shower’, or, ‘Thank you for being able to stand up.’

Finding the frame of mind to be able to say, ‘thank you’ to God, the Universe or whatever power you believe in, not only opens my mind and my spirit up for possibilities in positivity, but it also gives me a frame of reference to realize that there are things going on to be thankful for. A hot shower may not seem like much but when you consider that there are people in the world whose only option for cleanliness is to bathe in the most polluted river in the entire world – it really shifts your perspective.

Now, whenever I say ‘Thank you’ to my God, I am reminded of a quote by Helen Keller;

“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”

WRITE FIVE THINGS

Another practice that has helped me immensely is writing down five things I’m grateful for every day in my Bullet Journal. In the beginning of this practice, I was so mired down in my current circumstances that there were days when I couldn’t come up with five things, but I could come up with one. And as I began to diligently practice this writing, that one thing grew to two and then three and so on.

Now, the “Five things” has become so ingrained my life and my home that whenever there is something happening that is frustrating, or I’m upset or angry about something, my husband or my family and friends will say to me, “Quick, list five things you’re grateful for!” It may sound silly, but it works! As soon as I’m given the task of listing five things I’m grateful for, my mind stops focusing on the negative in a situation and starts looking for the positive.

THE NIGHTLY GRATITUDE PRAYER

Even after a year, I’m still having to remind myself sometimes that I want to say my prayers when I go to bed. Now, I know a lot of people who don’t believe in prayer, and that’s OK. Prayer is just a conversation, so think of it that way. Every night, as I’m lying on my pillows and getting ready to fall asleep, I have a small, quiet conversation with the force that has become my best friend, whom I choose to call God. For you, it can be anything that works! The point is to have the conversation.

Did you know that what we say is what we believe even if we don’t believe it at the time? Scientific research has proven that we are more likely to believe in what we say, out loud, to ourselves, more than if we hear the same things repeatedly from other people.

If we’re constantly bombarding our minds and our spirits and our physical beings with negative self-talk, then we will begin to feel those effects in our lives. We become more irritated and easily agitated, we become depressed and our moods become glum and dower. In our physical beings, we begin to experience more aches, pains, and illnesses. Negative self-talk only adds stress to an already stressful existence.

For me, every night, I start my prayer with “Thank you for today.” It’s a way for me to get the conversation started. I say “thank you” for something that we all take for granted – the fact that we had another day of life, and another chance to become who and what we are designed to be.

After I say my thank you for the day, I list those five things that come to my mind that I’m grateful for. They don’t have to be giant, earth-shattering things, just the first five. Sometimes my list looks like this:

  • I’m grateful for coffee today
  • I’m grateful for my pillow
  • I’m grateful that I had the wherewithal not to cuss out the idiot that pulled out in front of me in traffic
  • I’m grateful for socks
  • I’m grateful for the sleep I’m about to get

The list doesn’t have to be in any order, or with any particular focus except having gratitude for something. That’s it.

After I say my gratitude’s, I talk to my God the same way I’d talk to Steven over coffee. I vent about what I’m frustrated about, I suss out ideas for new designs or talk about a color or material I’ve found and how much I like or don’t like it. I complain about the pain in my body or rejoice over the fact that I didn’t have to use a walker or cane that day. After all, it’s a simple conversation with my best friend, and talking about whatever is on my mind helps me get it out of my head so I’ve got the room for new, more positive notions and ideas.

I always end my prayers with saying “Thanks for listening. I love you.”

Bear in mind that when I started this journey to healing and began my gratitude practice, I was literally fighting for my life. There were a lot of days I had to force myself to find something to be grateful for or force myself to say thank you and many nights I felt utterly ridiculous having those “conversations” in bed. But I kept at it, and about three months into the practices, I began to see changes in my life – again, not huge, earth-shattering changes, but subtle shifts. My mood, despite chronic pain and fatigue, began to lift. A lot of the depression and darkness I felt began to go away and things began to seem “lighter” and not so difficult to bear.

There’s a lot to be said for having an “attitude of gratitude” all the time, even when we think we have nothing at all to be grateful for.

Do you practice a gratitude routine? I’d love to hear about it. Leave me a note in the comments below, or if you’re reading this in the newsletter, write back and let me know what your own gratitude practices are and how they’ve helped you and your world change.

Want to know more about the benefits of gratitude? Check out the links below.

In the meantime, Namaste and have a wonderful day!

https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/gratitude

https://www.happify.com/hd/the-science-behind-gratitude/

http://time.com/5026174/health-benefits-of-gratitude/

https://www.realsimple.com/health/mind-mood/why-gratitude-is-great-for-your-health

A Journey To Gratitude