Mary Garden Update

I mentioned our new Mary garden project in a post last month, and I just wanted to share this update. May was a hectic month, so we didn’t really add plants to the garden until last week. We bought some herbs associated with the Virgin Mary:

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), known as “Mary’s Rose”, and Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), known as “Mary’s Humility”:

Rosemary (left) and Thyme (right)

Traditionally known as an herb of protection, rosemary adds a pine-like fragrance to the terrace. Rosemary is a versatile culinary and medicinal herb. For example, its aroma has a clarifying, rejuvenating effect, and a tea made from its leaves can soothe an upset stomach. Thyme is a traditional cough remedy and disinfectant, and of course, it tastes wonderful with fish or chicken. Its fragrance combines with that of rosemary when we have a cool breeze on the terrace.

We also added a collection of succulents, including Aloe Vera and Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum). Although these plants are not traditionally associated with Mary, we thought they belonged in a garden in this Texas climate.

Assorted Succulents

My husband enjoys the early mornings here, and I like to fuss with the decorations during the day. Haven’t decided the final placement for everything, but there will be more plants in the future. My husband’s daughter and my stepdaughter gave us these pretty wind chimes and hummingbird feeders:

I especially like the way the colors of our wind chimes reflect on this statue:

Mary Garden Colors

More pictures to come as we add to our garden. Have a wonderful weekend…take time to enjoy the beauty around you!


Five Dinner Guests — HAWMC Day 19

Day 19

5 Dinner Guests. Who are 5 people you’d love to have dinner with (living or deceased) and why?

My husband and I were sitting in our living room when I read today’s Health Activist Writer’s Challenge prompt aloud. John brightened and said, “That’s easy: Meriwether Lewis, Walt Whitman, Jane Kenyon, Susun Weed and Gail Faith Edwards! I couldn’t add or subtract from that list, so here it is…a group of individuals who could share and learn from each other and teach me so much. Does my husband know me or what?

From History:

Meriwether Lewis

The early American explorer and I have a few things in common — namely, a knowledge of herbal remedies and a love for nature’s beauty. When I first read about the legendary trek across the country in search of the Northwest Passage, I was surprised to learn that Captain Lewis was well-versed in medicinal plants. He learned about herbal remedies — known as “simples” — from his mother, who was a respected wise woman in Virginia. As he traveled across the continent, Lewis wrote long, romantic passage about the mountains, plains, plants and animals around him.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman’s poetry always sets my spirits soaring. From “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” to “Come, Said My Soul” and “Song of Myself”, his poems capture the mystery and beauty of nature, the soul, and the human body. As a poet, I would be completely floored if I could share a meal with this American.

Jane Kenyon

Jane Kenyon, who passed away in 1995 at age 47, is my favorite poet. As a New Hampshire native and wife of a poet, I relate to her poems about her life in New Hampshire with her husband, poet Donald Hall. Now that I live in Texas, her poems about the inner psyche and everyday life in an old farmhouse carry me back to my ancestral home. Maybe we even knew some of the same people.

Alive and Well:

Susun Weed

Herbalist and author Susun Weed is one of the most important teachers of my life. She inspires me to take care of myself and my family with infusions and tinctures made from nourishing, healing plants. I treasure the letters I received from her as a student, and I look forward to reading every new book that she publishes. I know that I would have a list of questions if I could sit down to dinner with her.

Gail Faith Edwards

Gail Edwards wrote two of my favorite herbal books: Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs and Through the Wild Heart of Mary. She writes often about the role of the community herbalist, and the importance of studying every aspect of plants — including botany, history and medicinal properties. As a home and garden writer, I would love to hear what she has to say about the “useful plants”.

That’s my dinner guest list. Can’t wait to read yours!


Open a Book — HAWMC Day 18


Day 18

Open a Book. Choose a book and open it to a random page and point to a phrase. Use that phrase to get you writing today. Free write for 15-20 without stopping.

Rosemary is an herb of protection. One of my favorite herbs, rosemary has a soothing and refreshing fragrance that reminds me of the piney woods of my childhood home. New Hampshire was a place of awakening and inspiration, and I carry all that i learned with me wherever I go. Today in my home in Texas, I still cook with rosemary and make rosemary tea.

Herbs have always had a special place in my heart. It was probably the fragrances that captured my heart first…in New England, early morning, dewy grass held intense perfumes of clover, white pine needles and other wild plants. If I close my eyes, I can still remember the secure, innocent years when all those mornings took place. The memory heals my heart today.

I was not aware of the folklore surrounding medicinal plants when I was a child. Today, I understand the idea of a plant — like rosemary — having protective qualities. Besides the physical medicinal properties of plants, there is a beauty that heals and protects as well. In her book, Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs, herbalist and author Gail Faith Edwards describes “protective” and healing qualities of plants. As I learn about my own heart health, I remember when I read this book that emotional and spiritual healing is as important as physical healing for the heart.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

I enjoyed writing from the inspiration of a favorite book. Why not give it a try at Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge?


10 Things I Couldn’t Live Without — HAWMC Day 13

Day 13

10 Things I Couldn’t Live Without. Write a list of the 10 things you need (or love) most

Many of the things that mean the most to me are not really things, but I couldn’t write my list without including them. It was very difficult to narrow it down to 10! If you have a list, why not join us at Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge?

1. Faith. The longer I live, the more I realize how much I depend on this part of my life.

2. Friends. I love the saying, “Friends are the family you choose.” My best friends happen to be family, especially my husband and my mom, but I also include close friends whom I’ve met over the years. And our cat, of course!

3. Notebook and pen. I live to write, and I write to live!

4. Cookbooks. I definitely am living proof that food can “be thy medicine.”

5. Herbs. Many of the “useful plants,” such as nettle, oatstraw, echinacea and hawthorn, have helped me heal. I can’t imagine my life without them.

6. Coffee. What can I say? I’m a writer!

7. Chocolate. Second only to coffee!

8. Poetry. My husband is a poet, and I have always loved to read poetry. It’s like oxygen.

9. My kitchen. I love to cook, and I love to cook for people. The kitchen is a happy room in our home!

10. My Computer. It’s the easiest way for me to work, write, learn, and stay in touch with friends.

As I wrote this post, I kept rearranging the order in my head, but this is the closest I could come to a final list!

Keep Calm and…Day 9 of HAWMC

Day 9

Keep calm and carry on. Write (and create) your own Keep Calm and Carry On poster. Can you make it about your condition? Then go to
( and actually make an image to post to your blog.

The original poster, “Keep Calm and Carry On”, was posted in Britain to boost morale during World War II. For today’s prompt, we had to generate our own “Keep Calm” posters. This was a fun prompt! Anyone who knows me will not be surprised to see my cure-all — herbal infusions of some kind or other — on my poster. You can still join us for the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge at Here’s mine:




More Thoughts on Why I Write About Health — HAWMC Day 7

Day 7

Health Activist Choice! Write about what you want today.

I’ve had time to give a little more thought to the post I wrote for Day 4 — “I write about my health because…”  It dawned on me that my recent blood pressure and EKG results were a wake-up call to pay more attention to my health.

Like so many women my age (I’ll be 50 in May), I have spent many years worrying about the health of others. I never had children, but I spent more than 20 years as a caregiver for ill family members. As many of you know from first-hand experience, every day as a caregiver brings potential emergencies and new worries. As my mother and I cared for my grandparents and my father, we became accustomed to closely observing our loved ones for any sign of a health crisis: “Did Grandpa seem to eat less today?” “Nana’s breathing doesn’t sound right.” “They’re forecasting a snowstorm tomorrow. Should we reschedule Daddy’s lung drain for today just in case?”

Now, as a married woman, I gladly learn as much as I can about healthy meals for my husband and my mother. I work at home as a freelance writer, and I make sure I take time to cook from scratch with whole grains and fresh vegetables. I am blessed to have a husband who cares about his health and learns along with me!

Then this month during a routine wellness exam, my doctor told me that she is referring me to a cardiologist because of “depressions” in my EKG reading. True, my heart had been racing and I had occasionally felt lightheaded for several months, but I pushed that aside again and again. It dawned on me that I’ve spent so much time worrying about everyone else’s heart, it never occurred to me to pay attention to my own heart.

One of my favorite Bible verses is “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23 (NIV). It frequently passes through my mind each day, and I often find myself meditating on it. It has taken on a more literal meaning lately.

So “I write about my health because…” I want to encourage other people my age and older — especially women — to slow down and become aware of their own health. Take it seriously, and make time to cook good food for yourself, to exercise, rest, whatever you need. Do it for you!

I also write about my health as a form of accountability. I’ve made some commitments to apply what I’ve learned about wellness to my own health. I plan to share my ups and downs, and my successes and failures on my blog. I’m more likely to follow through now that I’ve shared this commitment!

I’ve had my say for Day 7. Won’t you join us at the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge here

Why Do I Write About Health? HAWMC Day 4

Day 4

I write about my health because… Reflect on why you write about your health for 15-20 minutes without stopping.

I have wanted to share my story since childhood, when the other kids couldn’t understand my severe allergies. The allergies improved as I got older, but family health issues and caregiving prompted me to learn about herbal and integrative medicine. As I began my studies, I admired people who share health wisdom with others, and I benefited from that wisdom in my own life. Since 2009, I have been a freelance writer and blogger, and have written many articles about natural health, alternative medicine, and integrative medicine. I have a passion for learning, and I never get tired of studying and sharing what I’ve learned about health.

Now I have my own potential health issues to write about: my doctor recently referred me to a cardiologist due to in issue in my EKG results. My focus now shifts to my own health condition. Will I still write about health? You bet! I hope to learn from readers and fellow writers as well as provide information about heart health. As I make commitments to improve my own health, I hope to encourage my fellow travelers on this wellness journey.

That’s my story. How about you? Visit to read the latest prompt and learn how you can participate in Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge!