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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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May: High Time To Establish A Routine

I have a huge list of things I want to do this year, and I plan to make them all happen – why else would I do a Year About Me if not to successfully fulfill my dreams and ambitions??!

However, I’m finding that time is getting away from me. It has now occurred to me that the only way I will fulfill my dreams and ambitions is if I do them deliberately and carve out my time effectively.

Things I Want To Do Every Day

  1. Write (have you noticed I’m having a hard time establishing a routine here?)
  2. Exercise (I walk every day, but yoga will help even more)
  3. Meditate (yoga)
  4. Read the news (sometimes I go through a week without following up on the news!)
  5. Take 1 step to push my business forward (aside from work, what else will push it forward?)

Things I Want To Do Every Week

  1. Garden
  2. Socialize with friends
  3. Read a book for at least 2 hours
  4. Sleep 8 hours/day on average
  5. Say Yes more than No

What That Means

  1. Getting up when the alarm goes off.  No matter what.
  2. Less tv/movie watching.
  3. Less internet browsing.
  4. Going to bed early.
  5. Getting up early.
  6. Deliberately concentrating on one activity at a time.
  7. Making task lists and sticking to them.
  8. Opening my mind to change, love, and new ideas.
  9. Trying, failing, and trying again.  Sometimes all in one day.
  10. Building upon the day before.

Starting May 1, I will begin my routine.  Look for posts every day.  Look for a business moving forward quickly.  Look for me being on top of my game like I haven’t been in a long time.  Ready??  I am.

Feel free to join me, or just watch for now.

Wellness Plan - Month 4 of 12

I set out on a Year About Me back in January.  I’ve been feeling a bit less deliberate this month, so I wanted to tune into my Wellness Plan again.  First, a recap of what I’ve done and a bit of an update for you all…


I started out with a bang:  a one-month cleanse.  It was FABULOUS – life-changing.


  • I continued to lose weight and feel great, until recently.  I haven’t been eating as well because of my March goal (below) – I’m working too hard.  So I just started getting sick with a terrible bug going around the office.
  • I was doing really well without caffeine, too – until about the same time I started feeling overworked… hmmm… there is a trend here!
  • Matt and I have both been working so hard and not eating as well as we’d like, so we’re going on another cleanse on May 1 to restart.  Join us if you like!


Then I signed up for Beginning Yoga classes.  And it was really great.  I believe it has helped my breathing, my energy, my mental clarity, my strength, and it’s nice to be a part of a local community.


  • I was doing well until a couple weeks ago, when work took over my world.  Working to get back into it – starting tomorrow (no really!).


Then I focused on making smart money decisions.  I began by taking a second contract and filling up more of my time with work.  I’ve loved that contract – creating a few videos for a community engagement program from the County.  We interviewed some amazing people across the county – focusing on equity and economic opportunity at the local level.  Fascinating.


  • We have been putting money into savings, and will soon be paying bigger chunks of my student loans.  I’m really excited about it!
  • I’m glad I did it, but I paid a price – my health has suffered for it and I haven’t been able to write much. Not a sustainable solution, to be sure.
  • I’ve also loved working with my husband – he and I are a really great team, and we don’t get to work together often.


Due to a wake-up call from the community garden coordinator, in April I focused on food garden tending.


  • The results were fabulous: due to March and April’s foci, it looks like we may move closer to our garden plot in a couple months!
  • This month we have carried over our March focus on money management by continuing to work a great deal.  At the end of the month we’ll be able to pay off a large chunk of my student loans.
  • Unfortunately, that has meant that I lost my focus on my physical well-being, built up in January and February.  I have a really terrible respiratory virus that has set me back quite a bit in terms of lung well-being – let alone lack of energy and ability to do much yoga.

So if I could only figure out how to tackle each wish on my list without sacrificing the positive headway I’ve made on other items on the list…  Maybe that will be May’s goal!

I think part of it has to do with a need for routine.

Refresher:  By the End of the Year I Hope To…

  1. Lift my arms over my head!
  2. Learn to live happily gluten free.
  3. Figure out my next career step.
  4. Reduce my medications for asthma to just the rescue inhaler.
  5. Exercise regularly.
  6. Increase my number of social interactions.
  7. Decrease my number of negative thoughts, words, and actions.
  8. Have a healthy garden we regularly eat from.
  9. Write more, and write about the things I want to write about.
  10. Spend more time outside of work with my family.
  11. Become more in touch with my physical and mental wants and needs.
  12. Reduce and maintain a lower weight that feels good.

Do You Have a Wellness Plan?

If so, how are you progressing?  Any tips for the rest of us?

April: Food Garden Tending

In January I focused on a cleanse.  In February I focused on yoga. In March I focused on money management. In April I have focused on gardening.

On the 6th of April, I received a horrifying email from our community garden coordinator, that went something like this:

Hi Melinda,

I’m wondering if you are planning to garden this year?  According to the P Patch guidelines, all plots are supposed to be planted by April 1.

Please let me know if you have changed your mind about gardening this year, so that we can get someone off our waiting list and into the plot.


Gasp.  The Growing Challenge queen almost lost her garden plot! It’s true.

I could make excuses – I have plenty of them.  But truthfully?  I was a bit lazy.  Lazy. Yep, I take full responsibility for my laziness.

So needless to say, I jumped.  Matt and I planted all sorts of things, I went to the community garden meeting last weekend, and I’ll be doing a photo essay of some of the local garden patches for this season’s P-Patch Post (if you want to check out my past article, the issues are in PDF form in the right side bar of that link).

As it’s currently planted:

All in all, this has been fabulously fun and renewed our excitement about growing our own food.

In fact, it has been so fun that we took it a GIANT step further…


In June, it looks like we might be moving.  A result of March’s focus on money management and April’s focus on gardening, we’re likely going to move to a new apartment that is cheaper and across the street from our garden patch.

Assuming all goes well with our application, we’ll be attempting to grow more intensively in our little garden plot.  Something more like this (click to enlarge):

A Generation Suffers

(If the video isn’t playing, here’s the direct link.)

A dear friend of ours is losing her school services due to budget cuts – in very drastic ways. They are even losing their school library.

She’s in sixth grade.

Fight budget cuts – with votes and letters, volunteer hours, and donations.

We have to do something, don’t you think?

Where To Find Your Last Frost Date

It’s about time to plant your garden for summer crops!!  Well, in most places in North America, that is…

If you’re planting seeds or starts, you’ll need to know around when your last frost might be. Planting out too early can mean a disappointing beginning of the season.

There are things you can do to protect hardy seedlings and plants from frost.  However, if you plant seeds too early your seeds and/or seedlings likely to rot from cold and wet, die in a frost or freeze, or at the least take a very long time to germinate – and with low rates of germination.

Where Do You Find Last Frost Information?

United States

For the United States, the most comprehensive information comes from the National Climatic Data Center. There, you’ll be able to download a PDF showing many cities in your state, and the probability of light frost, heavy frost, or freeze (36, 32, and 28 °F).

They also have the same information in map form, if that is more helpful.

Other resources:

Weighing The Risks

Each of these resources will have different dates (as the Cheap Vegetable Gardener points out), plus this is the average last frost date – which means sometimes it happens earlier and sometimes it happens later, and there are always outlying years.

As a result, you’ll have to weigh the risks and decide for yourself.  But at least these will give you more information upon which to measure those risks!

If you’ve taken a chance and planted a bit early, you can monitor any frost/freeze advisories on or your local news station.

Other Areas Of The World

I had a tough time finding information for other areas, so if you have a resource please let me know in the comments and I’ll add it to the list!

Do You Have Other Resources?

Please share – thanks!

It's Earth Day. Do Something!

Let’s Do Something.

I have an email box full of marketers’ pleas to feature products on Earth Day.  There are loads of conferences all over the world this week.  And then there’s a huge backlash of bloggers coming out against Earth Day and all the bad it now stands for (over consumption, etc).

But don’t get caught reacting so hard against commercialization that you lose sight of the reason Earth Day began. Make it your own.

Take it back. Take Back Earth Day.  Don’t use this day to buy stuff, but instead DO SOMETHING.

Sure, every day is (and should be) Earth Day.  But today it’s official, so DO SOMETHING BIGGER than you normally would.

There is a song that has been inspiring me lately.  I’ll share it here in case it inspires you.

Here are the lyrics:

Don’t they know that there’s something going on
What they’re harming with their indecision
But who will be left standing when I’m gone?
There’ll be nothing left but a vision

It’s too easy to turn a blind eye to the light
It’s too easy to bow your head and pray
There are some times when you should try to find your voice
This is one voice that you must find today

Are you hoping for a miracle
As the ice caps melt away?
No use hoping for a miracle
There’s a price we’ll have to pay

It’s too easy to turn a blind eye to the light
It’s too easy to bow your head and pray
There are some times when you should try to find your voice
This is one voice that you must find today

If this doesn’t inspire you, find something that does inspire you and then go do something.  Because it won’t get any easier.

And then, try not to let a day pass where you don’t do something.  No matter how small.

Take your kids to a park, call or write a Senator, compose a blog post or a letter to the editor, support a local non-profit, volunteer, read, unplug for a day, attend a local community gathering, cut down on your electric bill, … do something.

Have a lovely, productive Earth Day everyone!

What Are You Doing Today?

What's Growing In Your Garden Right Now?

We just planted some new goodies in our community garden patch over the weekend.  From seed we planted beets, carrots, kale, nasturtiums, potatoes, and arugula.  It’s a wee bit early here, yet – it’s still pretty cold.  So this will be an experiment!

Doesn’t look like much now, but it will be flourishing soon enough!

We also planted 2 blueberry bushes, a lavender bush, and broccoli, kale, bok choi, onion, strawberry, asparagus, and cilantro starts.  Plus we planted two new types of herbs we haven’t tried before – Australian mint bush and purple shiso.

What’s growing in your garden?

Please share!

Also, if you haven’t signed up for the Growing Challenge this year, I welcome you to join us.  It’s easy and fun!