Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ecotherapy: The Benefits of Nature

Enjoying nature has multiple health benefits. It can lower depression and blood pressure, increase motivation, and reduce stress (WebMD, 2005-2014). 

When I was a child, I loved playing outside in our backyard. I could often be seen with a jelly jar or Miracle Whip jar trying to catch butterflies or bumble bees. Mamma would use an old fashioned can opener to punch holes in the top of the metal jar lid so my precious prisoners could breathe until I freed them. I also enjoyed smelling the roses and phlox, and if no one was looking, I would pinch off a delicate phlox blossom and suck the miniscule drop of its sweet nectar.

Decades later, instead of scampering around the garden with a jelly jar or Miracle Whip jar, I enjoy a variety of outdoor projects that have become my ecotherapy.

Herb garden
Planting an herb garden can be fun. Select herbs based on your tastes. If you like basil, rosemary, and thyme in your food, then plant them, but experiment with other herbs. A combination of finely chopped herbs will liven up baked fish and chicken or a pot of homemade soup.

A mint plant is great to have in an herb garden. Mint is tasty in hot or iced tea as well as in a watermelon smoothie: blend a cup of watermelon cubes with a few mint leaves for a refreshing summer drink.

Vegetable garden
Growing vegetables might inspire you to eat healthier. It feels good to go out and pick a ripe tomato or cucumber to add to a fresh salad. Growing vegetables can be challenging though, depending on where you live because you will have to find creative and humane ways to compete with the rabbits, deer, and tomato worms for your harvest. 

Flower garden
Growing flowers is a way for you to put your creativity to work. Experiment with color combinations, blooming times, and planting designs. This year, I combined purple and red flowers in one of my flower pots. The colors are striking. I also bought several succulents and three clay pot bottoms in varying sizes. I filled each bottom with dirt. Then I layered the bottoms. I placed the medium bottom on top of the large bottom and placed the small bottom on top of the medium bottom. Finally, I planted the succulents randomly in the layered tops.

To make your garden exciting, plant flowers that attract butterflies (butterfly bush, bee balm, and lavender) and hummingbirds (petunias, day lilies, and hollyhocks).

Bird watching
If you feed them, they will come. Buy some wild bird seed and a few bird feeders. Then sit down and watch the birds come. Try to identify the different types of birds and enjoy their morning songs and interesting social lives.

Being involved in nature is a stress reliever for me. I find solace in my garden. My garden is where I begin my day with my morning prayers, a cup of coffee, and positive thoughts for the day.

How has nature improved your life? This is the story in you. Share it.


Sorgen, C. (2005-2014). Nature therapy may mean that better health is right outside your door. WebMD. Retrieved from

Friday, July 25, 2014

Forget-Me-Not Friday, July 25, 2014

Sharing your memories is important so you are not forgotten. You have thoughts, feelings, opinions, experiences, and lessons that are valuable to others. I like to refer to these as your forget-me-nots. It reminds me of the German legend of the forget-me-not flowers (McGrath, n.d.).

This is my version:
Once upon antiquity, in a faraway land, a knight sat at the edge of the Danube River. Dressed in armor from head to toe, he was unbreakable, but his heart was soft for the love of his life. His thoughts were focused on her gentle beauty and sweet kindness. Then the soft blue wildflowers that grew along the Danube caught his attention. He decided to pick a fistful for this maiden for whom he was smitten. The flowers were blue skies, each crowned with an amber star. He eyed a long, limp reed in the shallow of the water, so he stepped in the water to fetch his find. 
Suddenly, the heavens drew its shade. That made the wind angry, so it tiptoed behind the knight, grumbling and whispering its intent. As the knight bound the stems of the blue flowers with the reed, the wind grew wild and loud—so wild that it thrust the knight into the deep of the Danube. The knight fought the wind and the water to stay afloat. His metal fists held the bouquet ever so tightly.

The knight continued to fight the wind and the water, but his strength could not save him.
The knight continued to fight the wind and the water, but his courage could not save him.
The knight continued to fight the wind and the water, but his love for his maiden could not save him.
Just as he took his last breath, he saw his lovely maiden in the midst of the storm. He mustered enough strength to toss the bouquet to her and gasp, “Forget me not.”
From that day forward, these blue flowers--little blue skies, each crowned with an amber star-- have been known as forget-me-nots. People all over the world cherish these little flowers in remembrance of their loved ones whether they are away temporarily or have transitioned from life to death.
A flower is “the blossom of a plant” (, para. 1), and we have all had blossoms in our lives. These are our forget-me-nots—little blue skies, each crowned with an amber star. Because you are unique, extraordinary, and one of a kind, it is worth sharing your forget-me-nots.

How would you like to be remembered? Be inspired by a word below. This is the story in you. Share it.

References (2014). Retrieved from
McGrath, S. (n.d.). Forget-me-not cakes. Retrieved from

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Is Detroit Really Bankrupt?

If being bankrupt means lacking the resources to satisfy what is needed, then Detroit is not bankrupt. 

I recently learned of the secret bank account Detroiters have been keeping. It's an account filled with hope. This hope was showcased on social media this past week when Detroiters, former Detroiters, and people who work or have worked in Detroit began sharing their memories of a once friendly, thriving, and safe Detroit. The posts began with "I'm so Detroit" and were completed with expressions of fond memories of Detroit. They were so inspiring I decided to participate.

I thought of the friendly Detroit:
I’m so Detroit, I remember when you could go next door to the left, next door to the right, or across the street to borrow a cup of sugar from a friendly neighbor who was like your “other” mother.

I thought of the thriving Detroit:
I’m so Detroit, I remember when my sister and I took the bus to go shopping downtown at J.L. Hudson’s.

I thought of the safe Detroit:
I’m so Detroit, I remember catching the bus year round at 6:30 a.m.—which means it was dark in late fall and winter—to go to high school, but I never worried that anything would or could happen to me.

I’m so Detroit, I remember when my siblings and I went to school, we never locked our door. We went to school, came home, opened the door, walked into the house, and EVERYTHING was still there!!!!!!

These memories, along with the many other great memories people shared about Detroit, give us
hope--the resource needed to build a brighter future. Hope is our down payment on our future. As Detroiters, former Detroiters, and people who work or have worked in Detroit consider their once friendly, thriving, and safe Detroit, many will be inspired to set high expectations for the future Detroit. Therefore, Detroit is not bankrupt; it has enough in the bank to help build a brighter future.

How do your hometown memories inspire you? This is the story in you. Share it.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sidewalk Sales: The Best Strategies

Summer is synonymous with vacations, suntans, and sidewalk sales. The Downtown Rochester Sidewalk sales event was a unique summer experience. Downtown Rochester, Michigan has a great mix of architecture, restaurants, and businesses.

You can enjoy Rochester’s interesting array of architecture, including the oldest commercial building in Rochester—
The Home Bakery (which was built in 1849),

 the Village Shoe Inn (which used to be a church),

and many other interesting buildings that now house businesses.

Downtown Rochester has a wide variety of restaurants on Main Street and the surrounding blocks. Menus range from light snacks to full course meals and desserts.
  • Mr. B's
  • Kruse and Muer on Main
  • Penny Black
  • Give Thanks Bakery
  • Bean and Leaf Café
  • Rochester Sander’s Candy and Dessert
  • Chomp Deli, Grill and Juice
  • The Victorian Restaurant and Tea House

I was pleasantly surprised when I approached the Rochester Brunch House and was invited in by one of the owners. They were having an open house to introduce the restaurant, which is scheduled to open for business next week.

The décor is elegant yet inviting. 

And the menu is diverse. It includes breakfast combinations, stuffed omelets, burgers, sandwiches, wraps and pitas, salads, and a host of sides and beverages--something for everyone. I am looking forward to eating there soon.

Downtown Rochester has some unique shops and spas. Even though I was disappointed to see that a few stores and restaurants have closed their doors, I was delighted to see that other interesting businesses have opened in their places. Downtown Rochester is a great place to buy shoes and purses, women and children’s clothing, Native American inspired items, jewelry, and art.

To make your sidewalk sales experience pleasurable, I recommend the following:
  • Bring quarters for the parking meters, and monitor your time. Rochester's meters also take credit and debit cards.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
  • Depending on the weather, wear sunscreen or carry rain gear. If it's hot, go early.
  • Carry a small purse with a shoulder strap to keep your hands free for carrying packages. I wore cargo pants to store coupons and change for the parking meter.
  • Don't limit your shopping to the items displayed on the sidewalks. Go inside the store for a larger selection and possibly more sales. (Stepping inside the store for a few minutes will also provide relief from the hot sun.)
  • Some merchants set up tables but do not have a store. If you like their merchandise, ask for their website or business card.
  • Bring a bottle of cold water.
  • After you leave, drive around the area. You might find that some nearby residents hold garage sales, and some stores a few miles away also have sidewalk sales and bargains.

Parking was plentiful. I arrived at noon on Saturday and was able to secure a parking space at a meter on the first downtown street on which I turned. Meters are limited to 3-hours, and free parking is available in some parking lots that are in close proximity to shops and restaurants.

Even if you don't find a good bargain or a special item to purchase, focus on the experience. Appreciate the architecture; sample the food; develop relationships by asking for business cards and/or websites for future transactions; and have fun by enjoying the music, face painting, and activities.

What special summer memories do you have? This is the story in you. Share it.