My May Goal Update

Any good goal system has to be periodically updated, which is why I revisit my goals at the end of each month. Sometimes I feel myself slipping, and sometimes I reach goals and then move away from them and have to re-establish them and strive to reach them again. Keeping them in my sight throughout the year is a dance – – whether two steps forward and one step back or one step forward and two steps back, I keep the momentum when I devote some time each month to thinking about making things happen. Because a goal without a plan, as they say, is just a dream.

Here’s what is happening this month:

CategoryGoalsMy Progress
LiteratureShift from Read Around the USA to reading with Sarah Donovan’s Ethicalela book group, which begins in August – My goal is to co-host April with Fran Haley and host next July alone, unless someone wants to join in and be a partner.

Continue to Blog Daily – I’m considering moving to a weekly blog, but I’m undecided as yet.
Signed up to host the book groups – Ada Limon’s The Hurting Kind poetry for April 2024and The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart for July 2024.

Ordered the first two books in the yearly reading series.

I have blogged daily this month.
CreativityImprove blog photos

Indulge in photo excursions
I’ve been reading tips on improving photography from websites like Audubon, and using the tips to apply to my photos.

I’ve been taking my camera on my outings, and I always keep it handy on the way up or down the driveway, since so much wildlife lives right there.
SpiritualityTune in to church
Keep OLW priority
We have tuned in to the First Baptist Church of YouTube through the month and listened to Dad as he has preached in different locations as pulpit supply.

I’ve prayed my way to work most days, and I’m keeping prayer as my priority – we have so many blessings that can never be thanked for enough.
ReflectionWrite family stories
Spend time tracking goals each month
I haven’t been writing as many family stories as I should be writing.
I have been tracking my goals, though.
Self-ImprovementReach top of weight range

Maintain Weight
I reached the top of my goal weight range and tried maintaining, but I failed to maintain. Now I’m back to needing to lose 10 pounds, and I’m going to try it with Weight Watchers instead of Optavia this time, since I find it more sustainable. Plus, I need a banana every day of my life for potassium – – not allowed on Optavia. Thankfully, a lot of weight has not been gained. I just need to reel it in.
Maintenance is the harder goal of losing and keeping it off.
GratitudeDevote blog days to counting blessingsI still devote blog days to counting my blessings. It helps to look ahead on the calendar and anticipate days like birthdays and other celebrations, like Marshall and Selena’s anniversary at the end of May and Beckham’s birthday at the beginning.
ExperienceEmbrace Slow Travel

Focus on the Outdoors

Add birding in at least three new counties for June – I currently have official counts for four Georgia counties.
We are indeed embracing slow travel as we take more camper trips. Instead of planning a cruise or a trip overseas this summer, we are opting to drive Route 66 (half of it) at an enjoyable pace, stopping to see the sights. We leave at the end of June for this with Briar’s brother and his wife, so we can share the driving and go at our own pace.

We’ve been spending more time outdoors at home and away – spiffing up the yard, savoring campsites. Spring is the ultimate time to get outdoors! I’m even trying a few new plants to see if I can keep them alive.

I have officially posted birding counts for Pike, Harris, Washington, and Cherokee counties in Georgia. My goal is to stop along the way home when we are at campsites and get at least three new counties by the end of June.

Slice of Life Challenge – March 28 – My Top Ten Favorite Books from Birth to Ten

I’ve been thinking a lot about my reading choices these past few weeks. I started the year with the goal of reading around the USA with The Book Girls, and I made it three and a half months before rethinking my commitment to reading books that I thought might be more about particular places. I’ve never had trouble abandoning a book, and I’ve never had trouble rereading one again and again and again.

Reading Around the USA seemed fun – like it was going to be an adventure – but in many cases, I found that the recommended books hardly mentioned place, and when I read to learn about a place, I thrive on rich descriptions that take me to settings that appeal to all five senses like I felt when I was walking the streets of Mitford Village with Jan Karon. What others find to be amazing bestsellers not to be missed, I often find blah at best, reading the obscure books on the shelf and finding that they outshine the popular books where my taste is concerned.

I’m looking forward to a book club coming this summer through, which will feature a variety of professional books, poetry, and fiction. My reading goal will shift toward reading books with the people I connect with and write with each month. We’ll gather by Zoom and discuss our reading. The hosts and monthly books will be announced in June.

I thought back this week over the books I enjoyed as a young child, and these were the top ten as I remember them, in no particular order beyond 1-4, but 1-4 are solidly in order of preference. These are the books that shaped me as I became a reader, the ones that had me wanting to write so much that I began writing the names of the color crayons in the covers of my books by looking at the letters on the crayon wrapper. Perhaps you also loved some of these.

10. Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell

9. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

8. A Taste of Blackberries by Doris Buchanan Smith

7. Queenie Peavy by Robert Burch

6. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

5. Happiness Is by Charles M. Schultz

4. Childcraft Volume 2: Stories and Fables

3. Tibor Gergely’s Great Big Book of Bedtime Stories

2. A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson

  1. Childcraft Volume 1: Poems and Rhymes

Please share your favorite childhood books and a book you’d recommend that you’ve read recently in the comments. Currently, I’m reading The Midnight Library by Matt Haig and The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart.

Happy Reading!

May 9 – Put a Lid on It!

Kings and Queens are famous for their hats.

Everyone, it seems, was wearing a hat last weekend – at the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky and on the opposite side of the pond in England, and all points in between at those smaller parties the commonfolk threw to celebrate these events. I chose a sun hat purchased at Marshall’s for $16.99, designed by the swank San Diego Hat Company to go with my no-frills weekend, just in case anyone is wondering, and although it was tempting, I didn’t adorn it with little hot glued horses running around the brim – or oversized flowers or bows.

A fancy Kentucky Derby hat, perfect for sipping a mint julep and watching a horse race

It got me thinking about all the hats we wear. Last summer, I sent adventure hats to the coastal grandkids – to wear on the boat, at the beach, in the kayaks – anywhere adventure calls! I got the kind with a chin strap so they wouldn’t lose them.

I sent these hats to my grandkids last summer – adventure hats!

Ironically, I lost my son’s borrowed boating hat when my cap caught a breeze on a fishing trip in April. I’d needed my own chin strap.

I recently bought a new sun hat for kayaking and camping to replace the monogrammed one that a student gave me back in 2010 as a teacher gift – I’d given it a hard look and realized its age, like a teacher ready for retirement who has been worn slap down through the years. It was time for a new one!

The hat I lost boating, before it was windswept into the ocean and forever lost at sea
Camping Hat (my Kentucky Derby/Coronation Day replacement hat)

Bartholomew Cubbins knew a thing or two about hats. Kings and Queens, Princes and Princesses know that head pieces such as crowns, tiaras, and hats make statements. The most famous crown of all time hung on a cross as a place in Heaven was built for us.

Kate and William sporting a tiara and a cap
Crown of Thorns – a symbol of the greatest sacrificial love of all time
A Kissing Fish hat for all our throw-backs
Golfing hats

Ice Cream Hats
Napping hats
Bicycling picnic hats
Marshmallow Roasting Hats
Swinging Bridge Hats
Stick-Your-Tongue-Out Hats
Ugly Sweater Run hats (with my son acting like a dancing reindeer after a morning run several years ago)
Kite Flying Hats
Birthday Hats
Magical Old Silk Hat that Made a Snowman Dance

I shared a recent post where my dad entered a synagogue in Capernaum and he and his friend had forgotten to remove their Atlanta Braves caps (the monitor smiled and tactfully gestured for them to remove them), and it got me thinking about all our hats. With all the hats we wear, literally and metaphorically, what are your favorite hats? Please share your best hats and hat stories in the comments, and if you have any great hiking hat suggestions, I beg your secrets!

May 4 – Lonesome Bee Haven

Johnson Funny Farm bee haven, April 2023 – baby bees at top right corner and entering bottom left tube

Forget Lonesome Dove. This one’s all about the lonesome bees – and putting food on Earth’s tables. One of my 2023 goals is spending more time outdoors, taking more notes in nature observations, and learning more about the ecosystem and the creatures that do jobs I’ve taken for granted. A couple of summers ago, we bought a bee house to provide safe spots for solitary bees like mason bees and leaf cutter bees to nest. These pollinators help plants like fruits and vegetables thrive. We have enjoyed watching the little bees come and go – they’re so cute – and so helpful! In rural areas like ours where agriculture is the name of the game, bees matter! Help with pollination – NOT PESTICIDES! We are doing one small part to make a difference – and watching it happen thrills our souls!

Lonesome Bee Haven

lonesome bee haven
apiculture hideaway 
pollinator post

baby bees buzzing
busy building businesses~
hungry world feeders

May 3 – Our Bat Hollow ~ ~Free Housing for Chiroptera

Aidan enjoys helping us outdoors when he comes to visit the farm!

One of my 2023 goals is spending more time outdoor, taking more notes in nature observations, and learning more about the ecosystem and the creatures that do jobs I never fully appreciated. Both my mother and grandmother, avid gardeners, died of Parkinson’s Disease, a neurological disease that has been linked to pesticides. If my fish are not wild caught, I don’t buy them (my takeaway from Silent Spring). I’m doing all I can – one small part in a big world – to make a difference where I can.

I was driving along our rural highway last week and felt tears well up when I saw a sign advertising 52 acres for sale. I drove back around the loop, looking at all the trees – all the homes where right now, there are baby birds and deer and foxes and squirrels whose homes will be felled with the blade of an ax when the money changes hands. It hurts my heart for them.

We have been considering ways to control our mosquito population (quite possibly the only critter in the entire universe I would vote to eradicate), and one of our ideas is installing a bat village. So this past Saturday, I raised my husband and grandson up in the tractor bucket to install our first bat house. We’ve seen bats out by our driveway for the past several years, and we hope we can attract them to the bat houses from wherever they are living (we checked the barn and see no signs). We’ll add to the village over the next couple of weeks, even though the boxes should have been up by now since they are more likely to be inhabited over the summer when the bats emerge from hibernation in the spring, according to Google. I read somewhere that the occupancy likelihood is only 35%, but we’re going to give it a go since we know we have them nearby.

Plus, Halloween. It will just feel a little spookier and more seasonally festive when the pumpkins frost over and moon shines through the trees. We’ll enjoy batwatching almost as much as birdwatching!

~~Bat Hollow ~~

house installation
erecting a bat hollow
mosquito control 

spooky October 
Loblolly pine neighborhood 
for night flight critters

vampirish creatures
welcome wagons circled up
upside-down hangout! 
My husband takes direction on the exact placement of the box, which should be at least 12 feet off the ground.
Bat Box #1 being installed

#VerseLove April 10 – Whimsical Science with Brittany Saulnier

Today’s host for Day 10 of #VerseLove at is Brittany Saulnier, who inspires us to write whimsical science poems. I chose to focus on outdoor science – nature and all its discovery and wonder about the world! I have just gotten my flower presses out of the old barn over the weekend and can’t wait to gather flowers and greenery to press on a long walk one afternoon this week. So much of science is soothing, just pure medicine for the soul. Brittany’s gift of a prompt that invites peace is particularly appreciated on this Monday back to work after spring break. Today, my poem is a first-word-Golden Shovel Tanka (5-7-5-7-7) string. I took my striking line as a quote from a birding journal by Vanessa Sorensen: “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


adopt a mindset~
the practice of noticing
pace your amazement

of observing more fully
nature: less is so much more

her covert moments
secret discoveries ~ what
is our big hurry?

its blessings beckoning us
patience blooms on every stem

Slice of Life Challenge – March 30 – Rockhounding and Crystals – Part 2 (Continued from Tuesday)

After long conversations about the wellness benefits of stones and crystals with one of my daughters, imagine my surprise when I arrived home to find a box on my doorstep from her! It was heavy – mailed at the flat rate, and filled with individually bubble-wrapped crystals and stones. I felt like I was playing the Saran Wrap game at Christmas where it’s filled with all sorts of treasures and you have small bursts of time to unwrap it, keeping what you can before it’s time to pass it to the next person. Only I got to keep all of it!

And what treasured gifts these are! Perhaps the most touching of all are the handwritten pages explaining every stone, telling of its qualities and a few personal notes scattered throughout – the most cherished one on the Lapis Lazuli note, explaining how my daughter feels close to my late mother as she still wears her bracelet filled with these brilliant blue stones. My mother, as it turns out, had jewelry made of a variety of stones and also suffered from anxiety. We continue to learn more about my mother and to “connect the dots” long after she has passed. It’s not surprising to learn that she, too, knew the benefits of stones. I often wear her jade necklace and some of her other stones that she wore frequently.

For Christmas, I’d given my daughter and her boyfriend a rockhounding kit filled with all the tools they needed for their hobby of exploring and digging for stones in the desert. In this shipment, she included some stones she’d purchased, and some that she had rockhounded herself, straight out of the earth. Those are pretty special stones to me.

And as I read my favorite childhood poem that I shared on March 17, I’d been inspired with my new knowledge of stones to turn from the plastic Mardi Gras beads and the green glass beads to stones of green black dot Jasper in my quest to be more nymphatic in my replies of NO. And they work. I’ve said no several times, becoming the goddess of refusal.

Now I shall continue to explore the benefits of these stones, using the starter kit my daughter sent me. I have placed them all on the dyed slice of agate (flat stone) and will experiment with the healing powers of each. For now, I am including pictures of the stones she sent, along with her notes. Enjoy!

My coffee table after opening the box of surprises from my daughter

Slice of Life Challenge – March 28 – Making Stones Crystal Clear

My daughter in her desert rockhounding playground, where she locates stones.

When one of my daughters moved to Nevada, she began taking a greater interest in natural foods and overall wellness through diet, exercise, prayer, and meditation. She suffers from anxiety, so the healing properties of Himalayan Salt lamps and hikes through the desert to calm the mind and familiarization with the properties of crystals to alleviate stress are all pathways of interest for her. I made a commitment in February to involve others in my blog posts throughout March, and I invited her to share some of her knowledge of crystals. In today’s first part, our dialogue is exchanged through texting.

My daughter has been teaching me about each stone and what it can be used for – here, she holds an amethyst, used to promote serenity and calmness, and even help with headaches that come as a result of anxiety and tension.

I asked my daughter if it was true that crystals and stones really have healing properties.

What’s fascinating, Mom, is that ancient civilizations all used stones and found the same benefits from them, and this was before the days of communication between these civilizations, yet they somehow still found that a crystal or mineral that could be found in both places had the same benefits.

We were texting about her knowledge of crystals as I was suffering from a tension headache that has been debilitating since February 1, and I was willing to try anything – anything – to get my normal head back.

And they were all using them, especially certain civilizations that were known for it – like the ancient Chinese. Jade is very precious to them (as are many but everyone associates the ancient Chinese with jade) and even Cleopatra would grind down Lapis Lazuli for her famous blue eyeliner. There is an impact glass that formed millions of years ago from a meteorite crashing into the Libyan/Egyptian desert sand (I have a piece of this impact glass called Libyan Desert Glass) that was found set in the breastplate worn by King Tut and was found when his tomb was discovered. The history of people using stones in the ancient world is even an interesting topic on its own. There are even mentions of stones in the Bible.

The hour-long text session was taking us through the twists and turns from history to actual uses of stones, and I found myself growing more and more impressed by her vast knowledge of the topic.

I asked her how crystals fit into religion, because several years ago, there was backlash that stones were being used in place of God.

Honestly, this is just my opinion, Mom – nothing researched – but after working with and meditating with crystals, I am pretty convinced that the prophets in the Bible, I believe they had the gift of prophecy from God, but I believe they used crystals to help facilitate this gift. In Exodus, the breastplate of Aaron was a sacred object used by the high priest in order to communicate with God. It had 12 stones set in it, for the 12 tribes of Israel. During some of my meditations using crystals, when I’m in my meditation and visualizing, sometimes I get very unexpected quick flashes of visions. For example, if I’m visualizing things in my head during this meditation and I’m going through a walk in the forest on this journey, I focus on that, but on several meditations, visions of things have come into my head like a flash, just an image, without me ever thinking about them. I can’t explain it but it’s very cool when it happens. I think the prophets used them for sure. I haven’t researched that topic, but I just believe that.

But what about the people who say crystals are the work of the devil? There are folks out there who believe that, so I asked if she’d explored the reasons and the case for Biblical uses of crystals.

Mom, that’s because some people think they are associated with the occult. But why would God put them in such abundance on this earth if they weren’t for us to use? There are things that I don’t like or wouldn’t ever use when I go into a metaphysical shop that sells crystals because of my beliefs. For example, tarot cards. I don’t know much about them, but there are things in there that fall too far on the extreme side for my beliefs. I would never ever want a psychic reading. First off, you never know if you’re being scammed and second, that’s just not something I need.

She continued her line of reasoning.

As long as people don’t practice idolatry when using crystals, they’re fine. But that can be said for literally anything in the physical world: cell phones, televisions, anything. And why would he put them here on earth for us?? Okay, I’ll play devil’s advocate for a second and say the same reason he put Adam and Eve in a garden with forbidden fruit but he said not to eat the fruit, he never said not to use the crystals. That’s coming from humans, not God. He just said never to worship anything/anyone other than him.

I was following her thinking, even as my eyes landed on the prescription bottles in the kitchen window. What was the difference in using chemicals ground with a mortar and pestle, swallowed to enter my bloodstream to combat the effects of this severe tension headache and using the magnetic properties of stones to alleviate a headache? I had to believe in whatever remedy I was doing either way, but that didn’t mean God was knocked off the top pedestal of priority any more than when I consume the food I eat to sustain my life.

There are those who associate mediation with a variety of religions, like it’s different from prayer, so how do you think meditation is the same or different?

I believe that prayer is powerful, but I also believe the energy the crystals emit from vibrations can help calm you down for more focused prayer, uplift your spirits, help with appetite, anxiety, blood circulation, everything. When a lot of people are passing on into their eternal life, I’ve heard of people laying crystals on them as they’re dying and in all of the instances, it’s a calming peaceful last few hours/minutes. My boyfriend’s sister did that for their grandmother when she died too.

There are extreme minds who will not for one second wrap their mind around accepting the use of crystals in their lives, though, and will even go a step further and disparage anyone who would. How do you respond to these folks?

Mom, people use crystals and don’t even know. Watches are powered by quartz. When you use a barbecue lighter, it’s piezoelectric energy from hitting a quartz that sparks the flame.

I had to admit – – she had enlightened my thinking in a way that took me away from all of the negative connotations associated with crystals and had my mind turning. What could be harmful about a crystal that could have a worse reputation than headache pills? I was opening my mind to the new possibilities……

Stay tuned for Part 2 on Thursday……

Slice of Life Challenge – March 26- Savoring Saturdays

In January, members of my family and I became intentional about savoring Saturdays with coffee and things we enjoy. We’ve developed a whole new affinity for coffee shop culture – the aromas, all the coffee blend options, the food offerings, the buzz of conversation, the lingering togetherness and our own coversations percolating on the day’s possibilities.

I’ve recently downloaded the Roadtrippers app and saw right away that it was worth the upgrade from the free version to Roadtrippers Plus. Now I can locate coffee shops on the road trips we plan and add them as waypoints to our destination for any of the day trips we plan. So when we set out for St. Simons Island, Georgia on a recent weekend, I filtered the app to show me all the coffee shops along our chosen route.

Queen Bee Coffee in Forsyth, Georgia off I-75 seemed like just what we would enjoy. It was right on our way, and it opened about the time we’d be at its place on the map. We parallel parked on the street and went inside. The sign on the steps assured us we were in the right place. We chuckled, veering a hard left.

Inside, we chose a couch with a coffee table. We sunk into the comfort of both cup and couch and noticed the place – the way it appealed to all five senses and awakened us to this new place!

Yesterday, we spent the day in Winder, Georgia and had coffee at La Gabrielle, a little cafe with a European vibe. I fell in love with the light fixtures! My husband said they reminded him of the television show Bewitched.

I checked my Roadside America app to see if there was anything of significance nearby, and found that either the shortest or the second shortest road in the United States (shortest in Georgia for sure) with a traffic light was a mile and a half from our coffee shop. So we checked it out. It’s basically a named street in the middle of other streets, and one and a half cars can fit on it at once. John Bowen Way.

Been there, done that.

And that’s the way we love spending Saturdays – whether we are on the road, at a campsite, at home, or out of town on business, we enjoy coffee to start the day and something to pique our interest afterward. Even if it’s a short little road right in the middle of everywhere.

Savoring Saturdays has quickly become a self-care habit, woven into the tapestry of our weekends.

Slice of Life Challenge – March 25 – Updating Dating

Ken and Jennifer flying kites on Amelia Island Beach in Florida, February 2023

You might remember these two faces with hearts full of love for each other. That’s my baby brother, Ken, and his girlfriend, Jennifer. I featured them on Valentine’s Day on the blog and shared their winning Godiva chocolate preference (dark chocolate lava truffle) after their taste test in March. They were set up on a blind date early last fall by mutual friends, and the rest is history.

As a way of involving others in my blog posts this month, I recently texted and asked Ken and Jennifer one question: if you were giving advice to a new couple on how to plan a great date and spend time really getting to know each other, what would you say?

My brother responded first:

One of the things we did was to try and find things that were new to both of us, or at least that we weren’t experts at – like the painting party. Neither of us were experts at that, but we’d do another painting activity now. Also, something active is good, outdoors. Stay away from cliche’ and make sure there are plenty of opportunities to talk.

Jennifer responded a little while later:

I really loved riding bikes on Jekyll Island on one of our first outings together. We rode about ten miles, then stopped for lunch and a beer. It was a beautiful, sunny day outside, and they had live music. It was amazing. You really learn a lot about someone else by their spontaneity.

They really did follow their own advice. They’ve played golf, they’ve run a 5K, and flown kites on Amelia Island at the beach. They’ve been on bicycling adventures and ambled down Broadway in Nashville, Tennessee checking out the honky tonks. They’ve also attended each other’s churches, finding ways to make two faiths meaningful for both of them as a couple.

They’re adventuring.

They’re sharing life – investing in each other.

They’re savoring moments.

On a golfing adventure
Running a 5K
Attending an Ash Wednesday service

Ken and Jennifer on Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia
On a bicycling adventure
Ornaments made at Paints & Pints

Cheers to Ken and Jennifer for reminding us to be active at adventuring and talking – whether we’re dating, married, or single and loving it!

Long live love!