"Blessings of Relaxation, Reflection, & Renewal"

Balance for Your Life & Rhythm for Your Days ~ Self-Improvement, Inspiration, & Coping with Challenges

How to Attract Hummingbirds

Posted by on Apr 16, 2014 in Family, Friends, & Fun, Hobbies, Nature, Random thoughts | 1 comment

First hummingbird of the season

Chow time!


Learning how to attract hummingbirds is really easy, and it’s already that time again.

Perhaps because it feels like winter will never end, the appearance of my first Ruby-Throated Hummingbird on April 10 surprised me.

Last week, as I enjoyed my morning coffee on the patio, a dark blur jetted past my head.

At first I thought it was one of the many carpenter bees who’ve recently appeared. But just in case it was a hummer, I scrubbed up the feeder and mixed up a batch of food.

Sure enough, the next morning, our first little visitor appeared for breakfast, shortly after dawn. He’s been back every day since then. And I’ve also spotted 2 Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds at our cabin at the river.

Though the return of these little darlings seemed early, I checked a couple of bird migration sites and found that the hummers are right on time. Experts advise hanging your feeders out a couple of weeks before the scheduled arrival date in your area. I guess I was asleep at the helm this year. I knew it was important to get that feeder out, and I thought you might like to know a few tips for attracting your own hummingbirds.

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11 Great Activities at Discovery Park of America

Posted by on Apr 14, 2014 in Family, Friends, & Fun, Reading, Road Trips, & Other Adventures | 4 comments

Discovery Center at Discovery Park of America

Unique design of Discovery Park hints at amazing offerings.

These 11 great activities at Discovery Park of America in Union City, Tennessee, are just a sampling of the educational fun in store for you. Opened in November of 2013, the 50-acre park appeals to all ages with a tremendous variety of fascinating exhibits, many of them interactive.

Inside Discovery Park’s Main Building

Discovery Center’s distinctive appearance hints at the wonders inside this uniquely shaped, 100,000- square foot complex. Exhibits include natural history, science and technology, Native Americans, energy, military, regional history, transportation, and more.

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Five Minute Friday: Writer

Posted by on Apr 4, 2014 in Five Minute Friday, Writing for Healing and Happiness | 4 comments

Each Friday folks gather online to share their freewriting on a topic chosen by Lisa Jo Baker. This ongoing series, known as Five Minute Friday, encourages us to put ourselves out there in the blogosphere without worrying about proofreading and editing. We simply write for 5 minutes, non-stop and then link up with other participants.

The instructions for linking are very simple and can be found if you click here: Five Minute Friday. Join us!  (The first time is always the scariest! But we are nice people, and this is a caring community!)  Today’s prompt is WRITER.

Okay–so “writing” involves all sorts of weirdness. (Believe me, I KNOW: I taught English for almost 40 years!) Anyway, aside from some student writing that can be mighty weird, folks, just plain writing is weird, if you think about it. Not only is it surprising, amazing, phenomenal that people can make marks on a page (or a cave wall or their bodies or most anything else), and those cryptic characters actually elicit sounds in our minds. But those sounds–the individual ones, the combinations (diphthongs and all that other stuff), and of course the actual emerging words–transfer actual meanings–concepts, objects, emotions, images, and more! It’s pretty incredible stuff!

But writing is also weird in the sense that words can mean so many different things. Before I started this 5-minute freewrite, as I wrote the introduction above, the word “freewriting” was underlined as a misspelling (there it is again!). So I checked my built-in dictionary here. No such word! What came up–after 2 retries?  Ferret! Yes, ferret! That furry, smelly animal some have as pets. Go figure…

But writing is also weird in the sense that it can engender such fear in our hearts–mine included! It seems nonsensical that I could feel fear and intimidation from that one word–especially since I taught writing for decades! But in actuality, that’s part of the problem. That writing was primarily academic. Writing a blog is different. And, what’s more, it exposes a more personal side, even exposing that not only to random readers out there but also to former students (potentially, should they find me in my little corner of the writing universe). Granted, I wrote countless hand-outs, exercises, and more, and even did freewriting in classes and shared that. Still, writing can spark fear in anyone.

Step over that line and face your fear! Join us in our writing community!

Time’s up!

In the Comments below, let me know what the word writing sparks in you.



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How to Make Yummy Oatmeal-Pecan-Coconut Cake from Scratch

Posted by on Mar 26, 2014 in Good Food | 0 comments

Memories of Yummy Oatmeal-Pecan-Coconut Cake

homemade oatmeal-pecan-coconut cake

Made-from-Scratch Deliciousness!

When I was a kid, the 85-year-old woman, “Sam,” who lived across the street made a yummy oatmeal-pecan-coconut cake. Somehow in our various moves, that recipe vanished. Then when I was in college, our head librarian made virtually the same delectable dessert.

This latest snow storm made me yearn for such comfort foods. And I love recipes that have been handed down from special people, like Judy, the librarian.

Granted, sugar and butter don’t top Dr. Oz’s list of healthy food choices, but, hey, this has oatmeal in it and pecans. Pecans are nuts, and the good doc is always telling us to eat some nuts every day. Sounds like health food to me. :)

Plus, because this cake is made from scratch, it lacks all of those unpronounceable chemicals. I’m sure it’s also lacking that horrific ingredient recently in the news, the one that’s used in making yoga mats and rubber shoe soles! Ugh!

I remember that Sam’s cake had a broiled topping, so I tweaked (NOT “twerked”!) Judy’s icing recipe and broiled it. Here’s my combo version.

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How to Relax and Write: Five Minute Friday: Joy

Posted by on Mar 23, 2014 in Feeling Good, Five Minute Friday, Writing for Healing and Happiness | 2 comments

Early spring daffodils

Spring Joy!

Spring is joy to me! How can anyone not feel an overwhelming sense of optimism, hope, and bursting-at-the-seams enthusiasm and energy as spring peeks out at us? I get positively giddy when I see those first little shoots of almost yellowy-green pressing up out of the dark, damp earth, or little fat, squishy looking hyacinth greenery pressing through snow to reach the promised sunshine?

Truly, spring is such a season of hope and joyfulness that I feel like a kid every single time this wonderful season rolls around. It summarizes joy for me! Too, the first day of spring is my dear mother’s birthday, and I love her so, even though she has been gone all these years. I feel a reassurance of her life in heaven with our Lord when I see and smell and feel the creative power of God bursting through from the long, dark, cold days of winter.

Joy feels like flip-flops and shorts and toes in the sand. It’s sitting on the porch swing with a good book, or even better, with one of my precious grand-darlings. It’s sitting quietly in the mornings in the sunroom in the dark drinking morning coffee with the best husband in the universe. Joy is having my granddaughter snuggle into my lap with books for me to read.

I feel joy just riding through the countryside and seeing the rolling hills changing from brown and khaki to vibrant green. Horses, cows, goats, and birds litter the hillsides and seem to feel as joyful as I do with the advent of spring.

Joy is the love of God, always surrounding us, always manifesting in amazing creations and in God’s children.

What does JOY mean to you? Tell me in the Comments below.



*This post is part of Five Minute Friday, a weekly writing exercise. Join the crew. Find out more at LisaJoBaker.com.

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How to Relax and Write: Five Minute Friday–Crowd

Posted by on Mar 14, 2014 in Stress & Anxiety, Writing for Healing and Happiness | 6 comments

How to Relax and Write

This post is part of my blog’s ongoing series on Writing for Healing and Happiness. It’s also part of Five Minute Friday, an online group of folks who write freely on Fridays and share their work, not for critique but for support. Learn details here.  It’s simple, fun, and a great exercise! Join the crowd! (An ironic request, given my post below on today’s word: crowd)

Five Minute Friday: Crowd

The word crowd makes me recoil. I feel my body tightening and drawing inward, pulling away from the press of the outside people and noise and confusion. I sense myself trying to take up less space and becoming like the bag in the trash compactor. I suppose it’s to protect myself, to ensure that I need not be jostled and annoyed and absorbed into the noisy mob. The thought of being somewhere confining, especially on a subway, is horrifying to me, betraying my claustrophobia. I feel the press of unfamiliar flesh, and I. Do. Not. Like. It!

Maybe my reaction comes from being an only child and enjoying solitude oh-so-much. Given the choice of being at a huge event, like a football game (oh, please deliver me from such a fate!), or on a deserted island, I’ll take the island any old day!

Maybe my reaction comes from thoroughly enjoying reading, instrumental music played at a quiet level, and the gentle hum of our household over the cheering, blaring, shrill sounds and smells of a crowd. The fact that I’m a germaphobe doesn’t help either. I envision “cooties” everywhere, bastions of flu germs and other creepy stuff invading my ears, nose, eyes, and making me spend more time sick. (The recent long fall and winter spell I spent ill no doubt adds to this part of the trauma of a crowd for me.)

Maybe my reaction comes from growing up in wide open spaces and loving nothing better, except reading, than running wild and free or riding my bike or my horse with abandon.

Probably my strong aversion to crowds is a combination of all of the above and my own quirkiness.

Crowds–no thanks!


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How to Relax and Feel Inspired in Under 10 Minutes

Posted by on Mar 5, 2014 in Feeling Good, Inspiration & Motivation, Stress & Anxiety | 1 comment

Silence, meditation, reading, and reflection–all are access points, ways to begin to renew ourselves.

The incessant demands of daily life–even the good activities–can deplete us because we need silence. We need reflection.  We need to turn inward–to quiet our whirling minds, to be able to listen to our own deeper thoughts or perhaps to hear nothing but restorative stillness.

Filling our minds with the positive, the calming can go far in helping us to reflect on what is truly important and eternal and to renew ourselves. Books, music, art–these can serve as springboards to faith, whether planting seeds or fertilizing fields planted long ago.

Settle in and relax to soothing music as you take some slow, deep breaths.

Be awed by amazing scenes from nature; be inspired by great thinkers in this video Relaxation Meditation Music with Inspirational Quotations HD – Lunar Khandro



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