Natural Health

Healthy living, herbal remedies and DIY natural beauty.

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9/3/2015

The long, smoldering hot days in the Northern hemisphere referred to as the Dog Days of Summer can be attributed to the tilt of the Earth which allows for the sun’s light to hit the Earth at a more direct angle for a longer period of time throughout the day. This time of year has actually nothing to do with dogs except for the fact that the brightest star in the Canis Major (Large Dog) constellation named Sirius - “Dog Star” by the ancient Romans was believed to contribute to the heat of the sun during the hottest days of the summer. The ancient Romans were sweating in their togas from about July 24th to August 24th. Today, because of the shifting and drifting of the constellations we experience the canine assigned effect from about July 3rd to August 11th.

Dogs may have had nothing to do with the naming of the season, but they, like us, will most likely desire some respite from the heat. While we are whipping up smoothies (try these herb smoothies) and cool concoctions for the peeps in our family, we can also whip up some herbal wonders for our faithful companions.

 

Herbs For Your Pets

Herbs can be used for their nutrient values as they are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Herbs can also be used to help prevent or treat disease. Herbs may be added their food and used in topical applications to repel pesky mosquitos, ticks and fleas. Herbal shampoos, soaks and sprays can offer relief from itchy, irritated skin.

The following recipes will include medicinal and aromatic herbs, vegetables, fruit and dairy products. If you are concerned about your dog developing diarrhea from eating a diet containing these new foods, please note that fruits and vegetables that are high in soluble fiber help prevent diarrhea. Soluble fibers attract water and in so doing form a gelatinous mass which slows down digestion and help control hunger.  

When introducing these foods to your dog for the first time, start with very small amounts and introduce one new food or herb at a time. You will want to watch for any allergic reaction. You may increase the serving size as your dog shows that he/she tolerates the new food well. It is also important to finely chop or gently steam the fruits and vegetables when adding them to your dog’s regular dog food for easier digestion.

Suggested serving size:

• Small dogs: 1 tbsp
• Medium size dogs: 1/8 Cup
• Large dogs: 1/3 -1/2 Cup

Just as herbs, fruits and vegetables are good for us, they are also good for our dogs. By feeding our dogs a good quality dog food and including herbal teas and smoothies we optimize the nutrients in their diet and help boost their immune system, while insuring that they stay hydrated. Some fruits and vegetables to consider: apples (seeded and chopped), apricots, bananas, berries, coconut, oranges, melon, pineapple and watermelon, asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, cilantro cucumber, dandelion, Kale, lettuce, parsley, parsnips, pumpkin, spinach, squash, zucchini.

A few herbs that are good for dogs include aloe vera, basil, burdock, calendula, caraway seeds, chamomile, cilantro, cinnamon, curcumin, Echinacea, fennel seeds, ginger, green tea, hawthorn, lemon balm, licorice, mullein, neem, nettles, parsley, rosemary, slippery elm, St. John’s wort, turmeric (more on turmeric for dogs here). 

Herbal Recipes For Your Furry Friends

Blue Bow Wow Berry Boost

• 1 cup plain yogurt or cottage cheese
• 1 cup fresh or frozen blackberries
• 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
• 1 tsp. fresh chopped parsley

Directions: Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Serve in a dish or freeze in an ice cube tray for quick refreshers.

Antioxidant Green Tea Smoothie

• 1 tsp. decaffeinated green tea
• 1 cup hot water
• 1 cup plain yogurt
• 1 apple, chopped with all seeds removed
• ½ cup frozen banana sliced
• ½ tsp. cinnamon

Directions: Place 1 tsp. green tea in teapot. Boil water and pour over tea, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool to room temp. Place all other ingredients in a blender or food processor along with cooled tea and blend until smooth. Serve in dish or freeze in ice cube tray.

Strawberry Watermelon Frozen Treats with lemon Balm and Basil

• 1/2 pound cleaned and hulled strawberries
• 2 cups chopped watermelon
• 4 sprigs fresh basil
• 2 tsp. fresh or dried lemon balm 

Directions: Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.

Topical Treatments

Refreshing Sore Paw Soak for Overheated Hounds

Combine:

• 1 gallon of water
• 1 cup of organic apple cider vinegar
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 10 drops of peppermint essential oil

Bundle together:

• 2 tbsp calendula flowers
• 2 tbsp of chamomile flowers
• 2 tbsp of golden seal

Allow the soak to sit for 30 minutes before using.

Soak doggie’s paws for 30-45 seconds, pat dry

Lemon, Garlic Rescue – Mosquito/Tick Repellent

Combine:

• 1 cup water
• 2 cups organic apple cider vinegar
• 3 tbsp. almond oil
• 3 tbsp. garlic infused olive oil
• 3 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon

Directions: Pour all ingredients in a spray bottle, shake well.  This can be sprayed on dog’s fur before heading outside.

Lavender Leave Me Alone Spray

Pour the following ingredients in a spray bottle:

• 1 cup water
• 5 drops lavender oil
• 4 drops tea tree oil

Shake well.

For more recipes and remedies for your furry friends, read this article, Basic Herbal Remedies for Pets, and download the FREE Herbs for Animals chart for a list of 20 herbs to use regularly with your pets.

Herbs can be used safely and effectively, helping to eliminate the use of harsh chemicals. Expanding your pet’s diet to include foods from the plant kingdom will insure their good health. Learn more about herbs and plants that we can consume and use as food and medicine for our families and our pets on our Herbal Blog or in our Online Herbalism Programs. Learning about, and using one plant at a time (7 methods here), or becoming familiar with the plants growing in your own backyard are very good first steps. These are only a few ideas that can help your dog stay cool during the dog days of summer!

Marlene Adelmann is the Founder and Director of the Herbal Academy of New England, the home of the Online Introductory Herbal Course and the Online Intermediate Herbal Course, and meeting place for Boston area herbalists. Photos provided and copyrighted by Herbal Academy of New England.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



9/1/2015

The symptoms of a bladder infection (also called a urinary tract infection or UTI) can be completely uncomfortable. And while the first line of treatment for most doctors requires prescription antibiotics, the truth is they are often not needed, and can lead to problems like bacterial resistance and damage to the digestive tract.[1]

So what can you do to avoid using antibiotics? In some cases, mild UTIs can resolve on their own if you let the body’s natural defenses take over.[2] And if you want to be sure to clear the infection and get rid of your symptoms, try these natural UTI treatment options that will support your body.

Symptoms of a UTI

You may have a UTI if you experience some of the following symptoms:

• frequent urge to urinate
• cloudy or dark urine
• a burning sensation when urinating
• the sense of incomplete bladder emptying
• fever
• fatigue
• pain or discomfort in the bladder and lower abdomen.

Some people tend to have UTIs often, which is referred to as recurrent infections.

If your symptoms last only a few days, then your body may well have cleared the infection on its own. But if your symptoms last longer than that, and if they are accompanied by severe symptoms like a fever, you should consult with your doctor for the safest course of action.

Home remedies for UTIs

In many cases, these simple and effective natural UTI treatment options can help rid your infection without antibiotics:

Probiotics. An important thing to consider when managing a UTI is using good, healthy bacteria to combat the bad ones that are causing your infection. Most UTIs are caused by gram-negative bacteria like E. coli (which accounts for about 80 percent of all UTIs).[3] To help your body, you can supplement with probiotics, which are the good kind of bacteria that help keep us healthy.

Most studies find that strains such as Lactobacillus crispatus, Lactobacillus ramnosus, and Lactobacillus fermentum are the most effective in fighting and blocking UTIs.[3] Look for a probiotic supplement that includes these specific bacterial strains. You can also try eating fermented foods, which are a natural source of healthy probiotics.

Cranberry. The most well known natural UTI treatment for UTIs is cranberry. Research shows that cranberry is effective in managing UTIs, especially in preventing them.[3,4] In one study, patients with recurrent UTIs who took a cranberry supplement had a 73.3 percent reduction in UTI occurrence.[4]

Researchers now know why it is such a great remedy for UTIs: it is an anti-adhesion agent, meaning that it inhibits bacteria from sticking to the lining of your urinary tract, preventing infection.[3] Some of the active compounds in cranberries include antioxidants called proanthocyanidins.[4]

When most people think of using cranberry for a UTI, they think of drinking cranberry juice. But cranberry juice is often loaded with sugar, so it isn’t a great option. Look for tablet or capsules that contain cranberry extract (somewhere between 500 to 1,500 mg daily) or cranberry juice (about 10 oz daily) that has no added sugars. It can be hard to know how much of the active ingredient is included in any given cranberry supplement, so be sure to choose a high quality brand and experiment to find one that works best for you.

D-mannose. One of the reasons cranberry is an effective natural UTI treatment is because it contains D-mannose. This specific type of sugar molecule is known to reduce the risk of recurrent UTI and help treat the infections, as it inhibits the adherence of bacteria to the cells lining the urinary tract.[1,3] Try one to 2 g of D-mannose powder daily while symptoms last.[1]

Garlic. Recently, researchers found that garlic may be an effective natural remedy for UTIs as well. In particular, one laboratory study found that garlic was effective against antibiotic resistant bacteria in the urine of people with UTIs. They found that while 56 percent of the bacterial strains found in the urine were resistant to antibiotics, 82% of those resistant bacteria were affected by an extract of garlic.[5]

Although no clinical studies have been able to investigate if supplementing with garlic can help eliminate UTI symptoms, boosting your garlic intake is worth a try. Try eating garlic incorporated into your food, or look for capsules of a garlic supplement (if you don’t like the taste) to take until your symptoms subside. Plus, garlic can help lower your blood pressure, too (read more about it here).

Prevention of UTIs

To stop an infection occurring in the first place, take these precautions: drink plenty of water, be sure to urinate before and after sex, wear cotton underwear, and avoid scented products like toilet paper or feminine products.[3]

There are a variety of all-natural solutions to treat a UTI. So don’t head to the doctor first to get an antibiotic; you can likely resolve your symptoms at home with these herbs and supplements. At the very first sign of an infection, be sure to up your probiotic intake. Add in cranberry extract, D-mannose, or garlic if needed. Be sure to stay hydrated and watch your symptoms carefully. If they become severe or persist for longer than a few days to a week, consult with your doctor.

Share your experience

What is your strategy for natural UTI treatment? Share any tips for prevention and treatment in the comments section below.

References

[1] BJU Int. 2014 Jan;113(1):9-10.

[2] BMC Fam Pract. 2013 May 31;14:71.

[3] Altern Med Rev. 2008 Sep;13(3):227-44.

[4] Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2015 Jan;19(1):77-80.

[5] Partanika J Trop Agric Sci. 2015;38(2):271-278.

Contributing editor Chelsea Clark is a writer with a passion for science, human biology, and natural health. She holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology with an emphasis in neuroscience from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. Her research on the relationship between chronic headache pain and daily stress levels has been presented at various regional, national, and international conferences. Chelsea’s interest in natural health has been fueled by her own personal experience with chronic medical issues. Her many profound experiences with natural health practitioners and remedies have motivated Chelsea to contribute to the world of natural health as a researcher and writer for Natural Health Advisory Institute.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page. 



8/27/2015

Three weeks ago, we left the east coast for a move to Guam. Smack dab in the middle of rainy season, it is not the ideal time to plant the herbs and veggies that I am used to working with. (We’re not in Zone 8 anymore, Toto!) In the months before our move, I did extensive research to familiarize myself with gardening on the island. One of the videos I found  introduced me to Amot TaoTao Tano Farm, and I knew it was one of the first places I wanted to visit once I arrived.

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a free tour of the farm thanks to a grant from the Guam Humanities Council and the Bank of Guam. I learned that ‘Amot TaoTao Tano’ means “Medicine for the Native People” and was originally the personal garden of Suruhana Bernice Nelson (a ‘Suruhana’ is a Chamorro Traditional Healer). Today, it has grown to 2.5 acres containing more than 200 medicinal plants (most are native to Guam, but there are also plants from China, the Philippines, Japan, Phonpei, Palau, and the continental US) and is now a non-profit. The mission of the farm is to help others learn about the traditional (and dying) art of Chamorro Healing.

Suruhana Bernice Nelson has been practicing the traditional art of Healing for over 50 years.

The vast majority of plants in the garden were entirely new to me. Thankfully, they are each labeled with not only their native name, but also common and scientific names and also how they are used in traditional healing. It was a comfort to see some familiar plants, as well… “Botdologas” (purslane), “Abahakat” (Holy or Tulsi Basil), and “Abas” (Guava), to name a few. I was interested to learn that the Chives here are flat (much like garlic chives but without the garlic taste) and we also got to see a single strawberry ripe on the vine (which is quite the rarity here!).

The most surprising thing for me was learning that “Sleeping Grass” is used for its medicinal properties. We’ve known it as “Sensitive Plant”, and were first introduced to it at the children’s garden at Old Sturbridge Village back home in Massachusetts. We attempted to grow it in Virginia, but never had any luck. Here in Guam, it is considered somewhat of a weed (like chickweed in the States, I suppose) but my children love to touch it and see it ‘sleep’.

After the tour was over, we enjoyed tea made from Lemongrass (amazingly delicious) and some bread pudding made with mulberries grown on the farm. I had a great time perusing the plants they had for sale, and I ended up coming home with Lemongrass, Cat Whisker, Miracle Plant, Sambong, and a large Aloe Vera (at just $2 apiece, I couldn’t resist!).

Whether you live on Guam or are vacationing from elsewhere, you should definitely add a tour of Amot TaoTao Tano to your to-do list if you are at all interested in medicinal herbs. It is located at 613 Swamp Road, Dededo GU 96929, and you can make an appointment for a tour by calling 671-637-7201. The farm has a Facebook page, but it has not been recently updated.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



8/24/2015

 

I like setting goals and better yet I love achieving them. Because I am not a sports person and never competed in sports, not even as a kid, competition seems a bit odd to me. But if you were to frame competition as a goal I’d totally understand the mission. Today I have just archived one of my goals. I set a personal goal of writing a weekly blog for MOTHER EARTH NEWS for the duration of a year. 

Last week when I was considering where I might take my weekly musings next, on how I would shape my next goal, I asked two of the folks at MOTHER EARTH NEWS for advice. I also thanked them for their patience in the past when I wrote about topics that could be considered off-topic for their audience. Each of their responses to my query and gratitude were kind and thoughtful.

What I know to be true is that the writing I have done over the past year has allowed me to dig deeper for meaning in my life. I have clarified where I stand and why. Most importantly, the writing has allowed me the space to step back and gain wider perspectives. 

Coming to the conclusions above, I plan to continue writing on a monthly basis for MOTHER EARTH NEWS. In this next series, I will do my best to stay more narrowly focused on topics about our Mother Earth, wildlife, food, and relevant books or movies. This may be difficult as I do enjoy wandering and wondering.

While mulling over what was to come, it became equally clear that my other topics of reflection would continue to need an outlet, so I will share those on The Invisible Parenting Handbook Facebook page. I hope to write heart and soul reflections several times a month on that page.

As with any goal, I believe you always need others to help you achieve them. So as I shifts gears to this next chapter I would like to thank both Heidi and Kale from MOTHER EARTH NEWS for their guidance with blog titles and general smoothing out of the rough bumps of my blogging road. A big thank you to Carly and Kelly my diligent and clear minded editors who took my dyslectic thoughts and helped them to be digestible. Thank you to Blythe, my sister, who occasionally helps with photos and always reposts my MOTHER EARTH NEWS links to my Facebook page. Mostly, thank you to all of you who have spent your valuable time reading my blogs. As you know, I believe time is our most valuable commodity, thank you for sharing yours with me, and sharing my blog posts with others when you felt they were useful.

For me it takes a village to achieve anything of value in my life. Thanks to one and all in my village!

What goals are important to you? Do you need other to help you achieve them? Once you have archived a goal do you set another one?


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



8/17/2015

Every day I do my best to practice mediation, prayer, and walk in the woods. I feel more balanced when I am able to make space for these daily practices.

I can't remember how long ago I started mediating or spending time quieting my mind but I’m constantly reminded of its business as it works on solutions large and small.

I can remember starting my practice of prayer as a very little girl. One way that I stay connected with this practice is by reading my Daily Word every day. When I was in my early twenties my grandmother gave me a subscription to this little gem, and I have been renewing it ever since. Sometimes I read it to my family to help start their day on a positive note. If my day takes a turn for the worse, I take the booklet out of my purse and reread the lesson of the day. I also spend sometime in prayer about all that I have to be grateful for, staying mindful to gratitude helps me see the good surrounding me.

 

I have never been an athlete, so running or bicycling has never felt natural for me. I can enjoy a bicycle ride on the back of our tandem as long as we are on a quiet, somewhat flat road, with the wind at our backs, and a shining sun. Clearly there are too many conditions for me to enjoy the act of bicycling often or alone. But if you put me in the woods, most any day, I will enjoy a walk and or hike. I love trees large and small. Sharing space with squirrels, chipmunks, eagles, owls, grey and blue jays, deer, woodpeckers, and all the other critters that live in the woods help my heart smile. Lucky, I live close to a large park that is home to all of the above critters along with some sea life that enjoys peeping up near our coast line. Just the other day, I got to see some porpoises enjoying the waters edge next to my woods. As I walk through nature I can feel the rough edges smooth out, I take note of my gratitude, and I get to note all the good that lays before me.

I feel healthier and more balanced when I am able to practice all of these things on a daily bases, but if time is tight any two will do.

What are your daily practices? Do you feel more balanced when doing something for yourself on a daily bases? How do you find gratitude?


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page. 



8/11/2015

 6 Top Home Remedies for Toenail Fungus

Don’t let a toenail infection get the best of you; try these easy and effective home remedies for toenail fungus that will help you get your nails back to normal.

An infection on your toenails can be bothersome and embarrassing. Unfortunately, conventional treatment, which consists of various liquids, lacquers, or other topical or oral medicines often take a long time to work, aren’t effective, and cost a pretty penny. In fact, it seems that even the most effective antifungal medicines have a cure rate of only around 30%.[1,2] But that is no reason to get discouraged; these home remedies for toenail fungus work well, are cost-effective, and use all natural ingredients.

What is toenail fungus?

Nail infections are caused by an overgrowth of fungi, including yeasts and molds. It usually begins with something small, like a white or yellow spot under the nail. Gradually, this spreads deeper into the nail, causing discoloration, thickening, and crumbling of the nail. It may become painful as the infection worsens. The medical names for toenail fungus include onychomycosis and tinea unguium.

6 Home Remedies for Toenail Fungus

In order to effectively treat a toenail infection, you will need to use antifungal agents. But these don’t have to be prescription or made out of potentially harmful chemicals; a variety of herbs, oils, and other natural substances have antifungal properties of their own.

Baking soda. Also known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda actually has significant antifungal effects. Laboratory studies show that baking soda is effective against many fungal species that are commonly involved in toenail fungus – in fact it inhibited the growth of 80% of fungal isolates tested in one study.[3] Try making a paste out of water and baking soda and spreading it on your nails. Alternatively, add some baking soda to a bucket of water and do a daily foot soak.

Tea tree oil is a very useful essential oil. It can be used to treat conditions ranging from dandruff to athlete’s foot, including toenail fungus. This essential oil has significant antifungal effects, along with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Nanocapsules of tea tree oil suppress the growth of T. rubrum, one of the more common fungi causing toenail infections.[4] One study found that 100% tea tree oil applied twice-daily for six months was as effective as clotrimazole, an antifungal medication. After six months, 60% of the people in the tea tree oil group experienced partial or full resolution of symptoms.[5] Rub tea tree essential oil directly on the affected area twice daily until symptoms subside.

Ozonized sunflower oil. By reacting ozone (O3) with sunflower oil, you can produce ozonized sunflower oil, which contains compounds with significant medicinal effects. In one study using a product called Oleozon, participants experienced some remarkable improvements with topical application of the ozonized sunflower oil twice per day; 90.5% were cured of their toenail fungus completely. In the control group using ketoconazole (an over the counter medicated cream), only 13.5% were cured. A year later, the Oleozon group had only a 2.8% relapse rate, while 44.4% of the control group had relapsed.[6] Rub a small amount of this oil onto your toes twice daily to treat toenail fungus.

Olive leaf extract. Olive leaves contain many beneficial compounds, including phenolic compounds. Extract from the leaves of olive plants have been shown to have significant antibacterial and antifungal effects, making it a useful tool for fighting toenail fungus.[7,8] Look for the liquid form, and use a small amount to cover your infected toenails multiple times per day.

Coconut oil. Many people use coconut oil to treat toenail fungus. This oil has health-promoting effects ranging form protecting your heart to preventing memory loss. Additionally, coconut oil is a powerful antifungal agent.[9] To help treat your toenail fungus, melt a small amount of coconut oil on your fingertips (it is solid at room temperature) and apply directly to your toes.

Snakeroot extract. The plant Ageratina pichinchensis, commonly known as snakeroot, is highly effective at fighting toenail fungus. In a study on 96 people, a snakeroot formulation was effective in 71.1% of the cases.[10] Look for snakeroot extract itself, or natural toenail fungus formulations that use Ageratina in the ingredients list.

It is also recommended to keep your toenails trimmed and thin if possible. This may relieve some pain by reducing pressure, and it will allow the topical products to penetrate into the nail itself when you apply them. Scraping the top of your nail may also help your remedies to work better, as they will be able to get deeper into the layers of your toenails. Start by doing a daily foot soak with baking soda, then experiment with various essential oils and extracts until you find the one that works best for you. Try combining coconut oil with tea tree oil, for example, to get a two-in-one treatment.

Share your experience

Have you ever had toenail fungus? How did you treat it? What natural strategies worked for you, and which didn’t? Share your experience in the comments section below.

References

[1] Mycoses. 2013 May;56(3):289-96.

[2] Dermatol Clin. 2015 Apr;33(2):175-83.

[3] Mycopathologia. 2013 Feb;175(1-2):153-8.

[4] Mycopathologia. 2013 Apr;175(3-4):281-6.

[5] J Fam Pract. 1994 Jun;38(6):601-5.

[6] Mycoses. 2011 Sep;54(5):e272-7.

[7] Molecules. 2007 May 26;12(5):1153-62.

[8] Pak J Pharm Sci. 2013 Mar;26(2):251-4.

[9] Asian Pac J Trop Med. 2011 Mar;4(3):241-7.

[10] Planta Med. 2008 Oct;74(12):1430-5.

Chelsea Clark is a writer with a passion for science, human biology, and natural health. She holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology with an emphasis in neuroscience from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. Her research on the relationship between chronic headache pain and daily stress levels has been presented at various regional, national, and international conferences. Chelsea’s interest in natural health has been fueled by her own personal experience with chronic medical issues. Her many profound experiences with natural health practitioners and remedies have motivated Chelsea to contribute to the world of natural health as a researcher and writer for Natural Health Advisory Institute.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



8/10/2015

Hopelessly Lost 2 

I think that I have a good sense of direction, until I find myself a stranger in a new land. When going into Canada, which I do from time to time for work, I don't always take the same boarder crossing or route. I’ll also admit to not taking time to look over any maps to get a sense for the lay of the land. On my most recent business trip to Canada, I carefully printed directions I found online so that I might find my hotel more easily. Best laid plans, one wrong turn and I was on a freeway hopelessly heading the wrong direction. An hour later I found my way back to my destination.

Because I was born in Seattle and have lived there most if my life, I am able to easily reach destinations using a diversity of routes. As the city grows and roads change, I have to reorient on the fly, but in general I know the lay out well enough to shift gears and find my way.

I remember as a kid, before my family took a road trip, we would look over maps in advance. The overview helped to give me a sense of where things were as we headed off for our adventures. As I got older I would still look at maps prior to, and during adventures, to see if there was a grid or some organization of the place that I could make sense of. I can normally get where I need to go by coupling the map method with itemized directions. I’m at my best navigating ability when that itemized list includes landmarks.

The problem is I don't own many maps any more, and the ones that I do own are out of date. I don't have enough information to keep me from getting lost each time I cross the boarder. This time the kind Canadians that I met as I was trying to find my way said "she had faith in me finding her way" the problem was I didn't have faith in finding my own way. Another person I know texted to me, that changing my view to one of being on an entertaining adventure might be a great idea. I am definitely more ready to assume this perspective when there are no business meeting time constraints. Thankfully I did get to my appointments on time and had some unplanned adventures.

My lessons learned from this trip are: to buy a current map of my next destination to learn the lay of the land, get step by step directions, and ask people for landmarks to enable me to find my way more easily. Here's to my next adventure!

How do you orient yourself when driving in unfamiliar territory? Are you are directionally challenged and if so are there tricks you can do to orient yourself? Are good old fashion maps relevant for helping us in unfamiliar places?


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page. 












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