Category Archives: Uncategorized

21 for 2021 List and Balance

The last few years I have been doing a one-word focus for the year. 2020 was Improvement. 2019 was Organize. 2018 was Create.

This year I’m going to try something different. Gretchen Rubin published an article about making a 21 for 2021 list and I thought I’d give it a try. Initially I had difficulty since all my goals were work-related. I don’t want to be working ALL THE TIME, even as we continue in our quarantine, I thought I needed some balance. 

So in 2021 the one-word focus for me will be Balance. I divided the 21 goals into home improvements, creature comforts, spirituality, family, career, financial security, and physical/health. I also ordered a habit tracker calendar from Amazon to help me stay on track when the days all run together.  So here are my goals:

Home Improvements

  • Paint the outside front of the house
  • Buy the lot next door
  • Maintain a clean living environment (not as easy as it sounds).

Creature Comforts

  • Buy new pajamas and fluffy slipper socks sets (for continued quarantine)
  • Read 12 books I love
  • Take the time for foot treatments for cracked heels


  • Express daily gratitude
  • Take time to enjoy the moments in nature
  • Garden


  • Help my son work towards adulthood by getting passport/bank accounts
  • Give love and attention to the animals daily
  • Maintain the good health of all family members


  • Finish writing 3 books
  • Complete 2 Udemy courses
  • Work towards creating a new blog for ESL teachers

Financial Security

  • One full-year online writing job
  • One part-year online job 
  • One full-year online teaching job


  • Use the stationary bike every day
  • Take a minimum of 3 dog walks every day
  • Maintain vitamin/medication regime

I’m hoping that in 2021, the old adage we used to say about March in Pennsylvania holds true “in like a lion and out like a lamb” when it comes to COVID. Even so, I tried to make goals that can be done while socially distancing. There’ll be time enough for travel and other activities after, I hope.

What do you have planned for 2021?


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2020 Improvement Results

Well, we’ve made it to the end of 2020 and what a year it’s been! While it didn’t turn out quite how anyone was expecting, I did manage to meet some of my beginning of the year goals. This year I picked a sort of lame word for my focus “Improvement.” I’m calling it lame because I wasn’t exactly sure what I’d accomplish but as long as I “improved” I’d hit the target. I thought I’d work on 5 sections of improving my life. 

  • Work: career and finance
  • Health: physical and mental health
  • Learning: personal development
  • Social: relationships with others
  • Home Environment: living conditions


  • 2020 #1: Find two new sources of short term income.
    • Ultimate Bundles Herb Book
    • OE curriculum writing
  • 2020 #2: Find one long-term income source.
    • 2-3 articles per week for a website that focuses on the elderly 


  • 2020 goal #1: Lose 20 pounds by December 2020. 
  • 2020 goal #2: Engage in 30 minutes of physical activity daily. 
    • Mostly met.
    • I did get a stationary bike for more indoor movement and yet another dog for more outside movement. 



  • 2020 goal #1: Make one trip to the U.S.
    • Pandemic meant no travel
  • 2020 goal #2: Make one trip in Mexico. 
    • Duh, Pandemic again!

Home Environment

  • 2020 goal #1: Finish the back porch.
    • About ½ finished
  • 2020 goal #2: Finish the front of the house.
    • Progress but not finished

So, as you can see, some aspects improved more than others. I managed to crank out 5 new books and 3 paperback versions for previously published ones, which was way more than I expected. Therefore, I’m not going to fret about what didn’t get done. It was a stressful year, wouldn’t you agree? How did your goals go?

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Natural Healing — Pitahayas

Pitahaya AKA Dragon Fruit

With things being what they are these days, we have to take our joys where we find them. This week our big highlight was our cactus produced pitahayas, one for each of us. We planted it two years ago from a cutting from the neighbor. I’m hoping that this is just the beginning of a long productive spell. 

Hylocereus polyrhizus cactus

The Hylocereus cactus that produced our pitahayas (as opposed to pitayas which come from the cactus stenocereus) is the Hylocereus polyrhizus. It produces fruit that has a pink covering with a reddish, seedy (and delicious) interior known as pitahaya roja. It’s native to Mexico but found in many tropical regions nowadays. In our region, this fruit is also called tuna tasajo. Tuna is the generic term for cactus fruit while I assume tasajo is from an indigenous source, possibly Purépecha, but I couldn’t find an English or Spanish translation for the word. Another term used generally for the fruit from the Hylocereus cactus is pitahaya orejona.

Hylocereus polyrhizus is a viney cactus. Ours has snaked its way up the wall, but I’ve also seen it locally wind itself around mesquite trees. It has a night-blooming flower, so it is dependent on night pollinators like moths or bats. The gorgeous white flower usually wilts within a day or two.  

The betalain that gives this yummy fruit its red color is also found in beets, Swiss chard, and amaranth. Betalain not only makes a natural food coloring but also is rich in antioxidants. The seeds contain linoleic acid which is a functional fatty acid.

This seedy fruit helps the digestive process through prebiotics. It has a preventative effect against breast and colon cancer. It has been shown to aid in reducing cholesterol levels. The lycopene content that gives the fruit its red color is effective in neutralizing heavy metals and toxins including MSG and herbicide ATZ. Furthermore, the antioxidant and fiber content of this fruit may be useful in the prevention and treatment of diabetes.

Traditional Mexican remedies include a diet rich in pitahaya to stimulate appetite and improve digestion. The fruit can be eaten raw, juiced, or made into ice cream or syrup.

Two or three fruits eaten an hour before breakfast for two or three days are prescribed to help with constipation. To treat intestinal parasites, the seeds of several fruits can be separated out and chewed thoroughly before swallowing.  

The flowers can be cooked and eaten like vegetables. Dried flowers can be used to make tea which is used to treat nervous disorders and insomnia. An infusion made from the flowers is also used to treat gum pain and tooth infection. 

Dysentery was treated with a section of root boiled in a covered cup over a slow fire. The concoction was allowed to cool with the top still on and sweetened with honey, then left overnight to be drunk in the morning before breakfast. This process was repeated every day for seven days for maximum results.  

Pitahaya blanca from the Hylocereus undatus cactus.

There are several other varieties of sweet pitahaya available in Mexico. Hylocereus undatus has white fruit and pink skin. This is the type most grown commercially and known as pitahaya blanca. It originated in the southern part of Mexico. Pitahaya blanca is sweeter and has a higher sugar content than either the red or yellow varieties. 

The name reina de la noche (Night Queen) refers to the bloom of this variety. H. undatus has been shown to have wound healing properties when used topically and useful in treating oxidative stress and aortic stiffness in streptozotocin-induced diabetes. The peel has antibacterial properties effective against Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Salmonella typhimurium among others.

Hylocereus megalanthus has a yellow fruit and white exterior which is called pitahaya amarilla. The seeds from H. megalanthus fruit have the largest amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids when compared to the other varieties. Hylocereus Purpusii produces fruit with purple skin and pulp. 

Hylocereus ocamponis is native to the states of Jalisco and Nayarit. It’s pinkish on the outside and a darker red inside.

Have you tasted pitahayas? Which color?


Learn more about traditional herbal remedies in Mexico!


Filed under Mexican Food and Drink, Native fauna and flora, Natural Healing, Uncategorized