I’m happy in the forest….hiking, exploring, breathing in the air, finding tiny frogs or strange mushrooms. Climbing over fallen trees and crossing creeks. The stark changes with each season are remarkable. The forest is almost other worldly to me and it’s a good place to think.

What makes the forest even better is when one or some of my favorite people are with me. Good conversations happen in the forest, too.

This is only one beautiful scene from a recent hike with my youngest daughter.


Sipsey River Trail in Bankhead National Forest



This Friday

In response to The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge Transition.

No Black Friday for me. I spent the day doing one of my favorite things in one of my favorite places with one of my favorite people. My youngest daughter and I hiked in The Sipsey Wilderness.

Creation is ever changing………year to year…….season to season…..morning to night…..moment to moment. The forest is bright green in the springtime with new leaves budding on the trees but now the forest is brown, and orange, with some splashes of red and even a hint of purple throughout.

No lines, or traffic or rushing around here.

Just boundless beauty all around us. The sounds of waterfalls and the leaves crunching under our feet.

Exactly what my soul needed today.





The purpose of my Live Like it Matters Challenge is to inspire you and me to do something to make a positive difference in the lives of those around us, in the place around us, wherever we are. I want us to live on purpose.

The title of this post seems a contradiction then, because after all, we have to connect to make a difference. Every other challenge I’ve issued requires us to connect with others in some way and now my challenge is to disconnect.

I’m challenging you to disconnect from your phone, close your laptop, and unplug your other mobile devices so you can connect in a real way with real people. The people right around you. At home and work. The ball field, the park and the gym. School, the grocery store, church, and the bank. Put your phone down. Take the ear buds out, put the blue tooth device away, and smile at someone. Or even better, speak.

Connect. See. Listen.

I’m as guilty as anyone of being unaware of someone two feet away from me because I’m checking the stats of my blog, or looking at the latest headline from Relevant.

With all of our connectedness, we’re more disconnected from each other than ever. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or Periscope will never fulfill our need for real connection……face to face, heart to heart connection.

The real deal. The kind with voice inflection and eye contact and touch and body language and all the other little nuances of real conversation. No emoji can convey all of that.

This week, for at least 2 hours a day – disconnect. If this seems absolutely impossible to you, then you need to take this challenge seriously. During your “disconnected” time, pay attention to those around you wherever you are. Watch and listen. Begin a conversation. Look at the person you’re talking with and give them your undivided attention.

Sometimes the best way to disconnect is to go someplace that has no service. I went to one of those places recently with my son, one of his friends and my youngest daughter. I connected with my son and daughter more during that 2 1/2 hour hike than I had in two weeks. No service meant we paid attention to each other. We reminisced and finished conversations and learned things about each other. Instead of seeing the latest photo on Instagram we saw several kinds of mushrooms and ferns.

But you don’t have to take a hike to disconnect. Just put the phone down.

And don’t check it for 2 hours.

In response to the Daily Post’s Hike.

Good Day at Brushy Lake

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Today Was a Good Day.”

My youngest daughter and I love to hike in the Bankhead National Forest. We especially enjoy it when it’s cooler. This day was a spontaneous outing, It happens frequently because we are only 20 minutes away from the Sipsey Wilderness and the Bankhead Forest.

There are thousands of trails which we’ve yet to explore but this one at Brushy Lake is one of our favorites. It’s close and easy to reach. The beginning of the trail is paved but we continue the hike until we get deeper into the forest and explore off trail.

Brushy Lake is visited regulary by campers, hikers, lovers, educators, and other fun seekers.


In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Off-Season.”

FernOne of my favorite places to be is the forest.  I came across this lovely fern on a hike in the Bankhead National Forest.  The young bright plant was odd because it was fall and I usually see these in the spring.

Alabama snowWe don’t see much snow in North Alabama so when we are blessed with the white stuff, it’s an event.  Everything shuts down, snowmans are built, garbage can lids are converted into make-shift sleds. and those “sleds” are usually tied to the back of a four-wheeler and pulled around a big field with a screaming kid hanging on.  This snow happened a few days before March which is even more rare.  I snapped a picture of the field behind our home while it was still snowing and before the four-wheelers came out. We’re blessed because the snow doesn’t stay around very long.  Just enough time to have some fun.