Karina Aldredge with Acacia baileyana

The Only New Year’s Resolution You Need

The only New Year's resolution you really need is effortless and costs nothing: Find beauty. In her newly released Sacred Elements Guidebook, author/photographer Karina Aldredge shows how momentary joys add up, creating a happier, more grounded you. Could there be a better way to start a new decade?

The Nature Diet

Karina explains that finding beauty in easily-overlooked aspects of nature benefits mind, spirit and body. "Soon it becomes a craving, and everywhere you look, you'll see more," she says. "It feeds you. It's the Nature Diet!"

The Sacred Elements Guidebook

Karina Aldredge's book guides you to noticing and finding joy in simple, everyday things.

Karina draws us into delight by making the mundane transcendent, and she does it step-by-step. As in the excerpt below, she tells how to use all your senses to internalize nature's beauty. This is not merely "take time to smell the roses." Finding beauty makes you so immediately in-the-moment that all you know is joy. You may already have experienced this, but I suspect it hasn't been often or nearly enough.

Ice crystals on Euphorbia rigida

This photo of frozen drops (on Euphorbia rigida in Karina's Zone 8b garden) is from her Instagram feed.

I first met Karina, who lives in Portland, OR, via Instagram. Last winter, when she was in the San Diego area, she visited me and my garden.

Sunlit Gasteria bicolor

I show Karina the beauty of a backlit Gasteria bicolor. 

Sacred Elements Guidebook, Excerpt

"You wake to a gray winter morning
"The weight of the season makes it difficult to escape your warm bed. Turn and look out the window and observe air blanketed in a grayish white mist. Now glance up to notice a dense fog clinging to the inky treetops. They are pillars of strength, majestic giants. Let their energy pull you up and out of bed. Go to your window or door and open it for just a moment to allow the mist to float inside. Open your mouth and slowly inhale the thick, wet air. Let it linger on your tongue. Taste the mist. The flavor it holds inside those microscopic droplets carries a distinct essence. Feel the way it dissolves and enters your body, empowering you. You are one with the air and water elements. Let them energize your next few steps as you welcome the day ahead." 

This sample merely hints at what Karina offers. Like its lovely author, the book is slender but powerful. It's joy distilled: a healing balm for the overwhelmed mind.

Agave in snow

Accompanying the book's "gray winter morning" exercise is a photo that I liked so much, when Karina initially posted it on Instagram, I asked if I could base a painting on it. The result became the December page of my 2019 Succulent Watercolor Calendar.


FYI, Karina's soul-nourishing practice is not a religion, but I can attest it has enriched and deepened my own faith. I've helped Karina a bit here and there---encouragement, suggestions and connecting her with editor Lorraine Anderson in Corvallis, OR. I was honored when Karina asked me to write the book's foreword. There's just something about her that's extraordinary. 



Debra Lee Baldwin at Desert Theater nursery

What I Believe

What I Believe Welcome to the most personal page on my site. Here, I share what defines me, gives me purpose and brings me joy.  — Debra Admittedly, posting about my faith is beyond my comfort zone It’s verboten for a journalist to admit to a religious bias. Yet isn’t not doing so an omission? Gardening…

Enjoyed this article? Please share it!


  1. Karina Aldredge on December 23, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    I’m honored. Actually, I’m beyond honored. What a lovely, unexpected surprise! You are just amazing. Thank you so much Debra!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 23, 2019 at 5:54 pm

      Well deserved, Karina! I’m delighted to get the word out about your beautiful book and message.

  2. Birte Harley on December 27, 2019 at 8:43 am

    What a lovely thought. In this age of trials in our lives this is such a welcomed information. I can’t wait to receive this book.

    I have been an avid gardener for many years and a long time member of the Carmichael Cactus & Succulent Society. So this is a book I will be including in my gift giving.

    Many thank Karina and Debra…Birte Harley

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on December 27, 2019 at 8:59 am

      Thank you, Birte! Happy New Year! Debra

  3. Matthew Janes on January 14, 2020 at 8:01 am

    Like the picture , but I love your painting of it!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on January 14, 2020 at 1:15 pm

      Thanks, Matthew, for the lovely compliment!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.