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(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday

This common eider may have been sick or injured so we watched from a distance and then wrote “DO NOT TOUCH” in the sand around it!

This is Willard Beach, which provides a good vantage point for my upcoming swim (Peaks to Portland Swim to Benefit Kids: CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE!!)

The swim route goes past Fort Gorges (seen beyond the lighthouse jetty in the above picture).

Spring Point Ledge Light

In the above picture you can see Fort Gorges in the distance on the left; that is what I’ll be swimming past! And the instructions said not to get too close!

Peaks Island Jones Wharf (right side of map) to East End Beach (upper left).

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Summer Begins 2019

Do you ever make a list of the cool people that you know/meet? I make mental lists all the time of the interesting people I learn from. I think about how their strengths/unique perspective can improve my ability to serve others as a practitioner (and also my life in general!)! It can bring a lot of joy to slow down and think about the SPECIFIC DETAILS of why people you know are awesome. Since each person is unique, literally every person brings something different and new to your world; that is pretty cool! It really inspires me to see individuals embracing their unique gifts and working to be the best versions of themselves. Chelsea Jeter is a naturopathic doctoral student based in San Francisco who is also an accomplished small business owner/entrepreneur AND fashion model/social media genius! She has this fearless commitment to being the most authentic version of herself and it is contagious!


AS IT TURNS OUT, this precocious beauty believes me to be “woke”!

“extremely woke” in fact (going to save that to prove to my teenage son from time to time lol)…

I was going to tell her I was too old to be woke but then I decided I’d go with it! (maybe I can write a Elizabethan sonnet about being woke lol). She is so cool I thought she might be AI. #conspiracytheories lol But seriously, her fearless commitment to being the very BEST VERSION of herself just shines! She has an EXCELLENT downloadable Top 10 ANTI-AGING pdf on her website. It really delves into what true skin health is all about and provides information about tools you’ve never even heard of! (Hint: it is not about moisturizers or serums!) Jeter inspired me to get working on my own “TOP 10” basic health tips (that you haven’t heard before!) and we even collaborated with the final editing!  I am so excited to share the health tips with you; head over to Atlantic Family Health to sign up and receive the pdf via email! For readers here on spy garden I’m thinking of also posting the info maybe 1 item from the top 10 at a time (it’s a lonnggg document! About 7 pages :) of MUST-READ material!! :)

So excited to share with you all! And thanks to Chelsea Jeter for the inspiration!

These next few shots were taken by Stewart Smith Photography:

Love how these photos turned out! Stewart Smith Photography is located right by the OOB Pier and offers a super casual session where you just walk around OOB and take in the sights of the pier/beach while he snaps some shots! What a genius idea to remember your vacation in Old Orchard! We took advantage of the shoot as a way to get some shots for Atlantic Family Health!

Stewart also shoots all the covers for Keep it Local magazine, where I have been advertising!

I hope to work with Stewart again and also have some projects with other area photographers in the works! Can’t wait to share!

Scarborough marsh:

Pictured below: Old Orchard Beach (north of the pier). My brother in law stayed at Friendship Ocean Front Suites ). Great spot (we went surfing there as the moon rose; it was awesome!!!) and heated pool!

South of the pier:

My sister and brother in law stayed at the Nautilus and it was awesome! Highly recommend!

We had the best visit!!!

A very calm, clear weekend with no waves or seaweed! We swam a little (without wetsuits!). Water is steadily warming up (but still in high 50s).

We visited an old quarry (where pink and green tourmaline has been found)…

Rocks rock!

We found many varieties of quartz, mica and other cool rocks!

This large quartz is my favorite!!

We used them in the garden!

And nearly as tough as a rock…

I can not believe how hardy this pumpkin is; sat outside all winter!

Summer is here! Thank you for visiting/reading!

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Late Spring in Spy Garden

Very mysterious morning.

LILACS EVERYWHERE!!! The fragrance is divine!


The two pictures above were taken during a surf lesson at Corner’s Surf  in Old Orchard Beach! I stood up twice! Very fun but I like it when the waves are small(ish); during the lesson some of the waves seemed huge (and scary! haha!)! One of my favorite things is to just float/paddle around on the surf board: very relaxing. We have already amassed quite a bit of gear but an SUP would definitely be really fun around here too. If you are ever in OOB definitely consider a (FREE!!) surf lesson at Corner’s; they are awesome!

Ahhh the sea. Looks like a perfect place for a swim? How about a 2.4 mile swim?

The Peaks to Portland Swim to Benefit Kids is one of the oldest open water swims in the US! It begins at Peaks Island and ends at East End Beach in Portland; and I qualified! Yay! So excited to be a part of this cause!

Your donation will help more [southern Maine!] kids to participate in YMCA summer camps, swim lessons, and classes like tumbling, dance, karate, forest exploration, art, and more!

Last year, the YMCA of Southern Maine served nearly 10,000 children and provided more than $1.2 million in financial assistance and program support, ensuring children and teens in our community had the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive. The money raised during the Peaks to Portland is a big part of that.

CLICK HERE!!!! to visit my donor page if you are interested in supporting me in this big swim so that more southern Maine kids can have opportunities to get moving and engage with their community + world!!

Passions for MOVEMENT, the ARTS, and the great OUTDOORS are the reasons why I serve others in their path to health as a nurse practitioner. I named my primary care practice Atlantic Family Health because I find the Atlantic ocean to be such a wonderful source of creative inspiration for health!! I am so excited to to support this wonderful cause and help promote the health of southern Maine!!!

Thank you so much for visiting my donor page and for any amount you can give; it is so appreciated!

Very tropical looking! And the vegetable garden is growing too!


She is a Maine coon. Maine coons are a more hypoallergenic breed, they are indoor/outdoor great hunters of mice, cuddly, fun and smart: and we are sooooooo excited to have a kitten she is ADORABLE!! It is the first cat I’ve ever had (since I was always prone to allergies) but haven’t had any issues! We did however give Freya back to the bunny farm; she just didn’t seem happy and we thought she missed frolicking with the other bunnies. We see her owner regularly and get updates and pictures; Freya looks really happy to be back at Holland Heart Rabbitry. If we built an outside pen/area (Freya was an indoor bunny!) then we would consider getting bunnies again, but for now we are definitely enjoying this kitty/glad Freya is happy. <3

Summer nights are nearly here! In Maine you can definitely tell it is still spring; still a dozen days until it is officially summer; we are soaking up every minute of the chilly mornings, warm days and cool evenings; it is divine! Happy Monday all and thank you for visiting!

Click Here to Donate to Peaks to Portland Swim to Benefit Kids!

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Late May 2019

 I spy a garden! So thrilled to have a little Maine garden started <3

Horse friends are the best!

We got Freya (our bunny) from this awesome woman (who until recently moving back to Maine was leading trips on horseback in the backcountry of Yellowstone!!) She is awesome! If you are in Maine and in need a Holland Lop or lionhead rabbit (and really who DOESN’T need a bunny?:) she is your GO TO (or just check out her site to swoon over baby bunny photos)!

Holland Heart Rabbitry

Uncle Ken visiting for the holiday weekend!

Aerial yoga; our new favorite!
Hope you all are having a nice holiday weekend!

Spring is in full swing here in southern Maine!

:) Evelyn

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Slow Down! (?)

Slow Down?

It can be so challenging to slow down in spring when the earth is bursting with life and you have 731 ideas/goals/activities/to-dos you are working on!

Being creative and getting into the flow of your passions is very important and if you are speeding through your daily work you can miss a lot of inspiration/knowledge. Especially the knowledge gained by information processed from all five senses. It is really hard to experience the world/your life with all of your senses when you are moving too fast!

I dig the trend of slow food, slow flowers, slow beauty…And to avoid costly speeding tickets I’m also into slow driving! Ha! But…even now as I am hyped up and excited about slowing down…I am not actually slowing down, breathlessly typing away, ha! DEEP BREATH. (or five!)

For you too!

I believe my method of treating patients could certainly be considered “slow health” or “slow medicine”. And not the kind of slow where you are sitting in a waiting room for 30 minutes, ha!

When I think of my “slow” approach, I think about being hyper-engaged and enjoying the process and being THOROUGH, mindful, engaged, present, attentive. All day long!

I am focused on TODAY! I find that the saying “be in the moment” is a harder concept to consistently put in to practice. But when I start thinking about just focusing on TODAY, that helps me engage more in the NOW.

Because there is ALWAYS something you can do NOW/TODAY. Book an appointment, reach out to someone, go to sleep early, take vitamins, say a prayer, drink water, identify what you are feeling emotionally, start a new hobby, yadda, yadda.

TUNE IN to your immediate environment (look outside! There’s a whole ecosystem out there for you to discover!!). If you are craving something NEW; guess what? There is literally ALWAYS something new to discover in nature and its (basically) FREE! In Maine, people take pictures of the sunrises (and sunsets) LITERALLY EVERY DAY. And they never get old when you are really tuned in to all that slow-down & engage with your five senses-stuff!

In order to start giving your mind/body/spirit what it needs RIGHT NOW: try slowing down and tuning in to all five senses!

Freya (an Easter surprise!) She is a 3 year old Holland Lop

Spring thaw!

If you’ve ever watched The Office then you’ve heard of planking…

But have you ever heard of gargoyle-ing?

The person on the left is our 13 year old who is now taller than all of us! And he’s holding a cellphone “because that’s what teenagers do” :) Also, note that the drawing includes Dexie, Freya AND Hammy too!

Thanks for visiting!!

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Grounded in Health

“Grounded” is a great adjective for health. When you love gardening/the dirt/sand/rocks/THE GROUND as much as I do, the concept of being “grounded in health” certainly includes a life lived with deep considerations for/activities involving the LITERAL ground! Understanding where your food comes from and watching it slowly grow deepens your relationship with food and therefore improves your overall health. The beautiful plants we can grow (right in the ground!) can be used as medicine for unbelievable healing and vitality. Spy Garden (this website) was started with my excitement over gardening in, again, THE GROUND!! Now, I am eager to share my work as a nurse practitioner at Atlantic Family Health with you all on this site! The gardening and the healing are definitely, COMPLETELY, totally: related!! Gardening has offered my family, neighbors, friends, and patients innumerable health benefits.

Patient stories of healing (from VERY serious illness/diseases which many doctors said was “impossible” to do) and vibrant health achieved through (chiefly) non-pharmacological based treatments (and certainly treatment involving plant/botanical supplements) has guided my search for knowledge in the quest for highly advanced healing/health. In my experience as an RN, and in my training/education to become an NP, I sought out practitioners to train with whose patients’ were saying these things like:

“I feel better.”

“I am completely healed.”

“I don’t have that problem anymore and I’m off all my prescription medications.”

And I listened VERY INTENTLY to the patients’ stories of HOW they did it.

Even when they had things like diabetes, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, chronic skin conditions, neurological conditions, rare autoimmune diseases, migraines, fertility issues, gastrointestinal disorders, fatigue, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, etc., etc., ETC: Healed!


HUNDREDS OF PATIENTS! I was sold on the integrative practice style! And thus, I was eager to start my own practice!!

This coming Sunday, the Grounded in Health event is in this precise spirit of becoming an expert on yourself and working hard on your self-care/health so that you can stop wasting your time and precious life/energy dealing with wretched symptoms! You should be free (of unpleasant symptoms!) so that you can begin work on getting self-actualized/attaining a deeper and deeper (and deeper! Health is a CONSTANT journey!) level of health whilst sharing your unique gifts/talents with your community (and the world)!

That’s my idea of a good time! While the event is subtitled, “An autoimmune event to bring you back to basics” in my clinical experience, focusing on strengthening the immune system, and therefore the body’s own innate ability to heal, certainly brings health to those with autoimmune disorders but ALSO solves tons of other issues not necessarily considered “autoimmune”. So I’d say ANYONE would benefit from this event!

If you are in the area (Portland, Maine) and looking to learn a ton and be inspired in your own path to health, this coming Sunday, come check it out. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE!

And now, a bunch of pictures of the ground (and some other things, ha!)

Hope you all had a happy Easter; I feel so blessed to be able to share these sights of spring in Maine with you all! Thank you for visiting Spy Garden!!


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Mid-April 2019

Tidepool/Zen Garden GOALSPortland Head Light:

Lighthouses GALOREAnd a bit further south in Old Orchard Beach…

Temps were in the 70s!!! BALMY!!!

Cool teen dude got a new surf board (thank you to the awesome Corner’s Surf Shop in Old Orchard Beach!) so I got his old one and ALL THREE OF US (3/5 ha!) finally got to all go out together!!! IT WAS SOOO FUN!!!

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Sea Change

I watched a pine tree branch swaying in the wind. It was pointing upward and looked like it was trying very hard to stretch toward the sun (spring in Maine can make one very poetic).

It was only when the wind blew the branch that it sunk down, into the shade, and then whipped up higher toward the sun; much higher than it did when it looked like it was working so hard. It blew around wildly with the gusts; bouncing, a little out of control at times—but it remained connected to the trunk, the roots, the ground.

[Insert 372 metaphors HERE] :)

Life is a lot of reaching/stretching for the light and this effort takes hard work. It IS possible to live AND serve others within this monumental work/effort WITHOUT feeling rushed or hurried or stressed or exhausted: EVEN to predominantly feel a lot of joy. It really is; even if you have 3 jobs, 3 kids, yadda, yadda. One trick to feeling that true joy is being willing to open your heart; which means being willing to feel hurt, sad, lonely…

If you can really just let an uncomfortable feeling BE; let it wash over you; NOT try and relieve or escape of “fix” it or talk through it; you may be surprised to find that the pain, the hurt, the sadness…changes. It can shift and grow into hope and love. Feelings come and go like waves and no feeling lasts forever. There’s no such thing as a “happy” person. Happy is a feeling. A loving, vibrant person who is OFTEN joyful can only be so if they TRULY feel the deep despair and sadness that is a part of this broken world.

Yoga, or really just deep focused breathing (which is essentially what yoga is), is pretty good for facilitating this process. Like REALLY good. You stay still, you pause a lot… even if you’re moving a little, you’re in one spot, and YOU’RE QUIET! You don’t walk away or start talking or distract yourself with some other chore/task/snack/etc. You breathe THROUGH the challenge; the challenging feeling, and also THROUGH the challenging physical sensations that can come with simply sitting still and quiet (or holding a pose/stretch).

I’ve known this…I’ve shared this lesson for years with patients…I even did my doctoral research project on exercise and depression! But when you REALLY practice this process; the more surprising, inspiring and energizing it becomes! I give a LOT of lip service to the mind-body connection, but it is so good to be personally reminded that breathing and simple movement can literally cue our hearts and minds to open. Emotional and physical exhaustion CAN become emotional and physical REFRESHMENT!

I recently participated in a Yogathon to support Sea Change Yoga Maine, an organization that seeks to bring yoga to marginalized individuals. When I heard of this organization I immediately felt SUCH a strong connection to their mission. Of course there are about a million+ wonderful causes/non-profits/organizations well worth supporting but it is pretty special and exciting to find one that really just speaks to your professional and personal experience. The Yogathon included four classes taught by some unbelievably inspired teachers. I was open to being a student (so important to remind yourself to do when you serve as a teacher/leader/healer/caregiver). The last class was a “full body prayer” taught by Jacqui Bonwell. While I’ve heard of (and try to practice!) praying with your actions (e.g. cleaning & cooking with love!) I was so inspired by the idea of using your whole body to pray! Have you ever tried this?

I’m making efforts to meet people/get out of my comfort zone (especially socially) and start really connecting with others. Attending the Yogathon was part of this effort and also part of my effort to market my new biz, Atlantic Family Health. But it was also about a lot of personal connections to the cause. Before the event I was inspired to write a sonnet about health, art and movement. The night before the Yogathon I thought, WHAT THE HECK! I’m printing up this sonnet to give out to people tomorrow (with contact info/blurb on the back)!

Sonnets are a good form of marketing for our modern era, right?!


Immersed in the Yogathon; sweating, crying; I felt this awful deep pain and sadness and I breathed.

And like the tide coming in, I was filled with the most hopeful hope and love.

And in between all of this, I approached the teachers and said, “I wrote a poem inspired by this event/organization” and gave it to them.

And I thought,

“This might be the weirdest form of marketing ever to occur.”

But I LOVE myself for writing sonnets and being awkward!! This is the sweet spot, that authenticity that people (including me!!!) advocate! Finding this sweet spot is not always as simple/easy as it sounds when you are getting outside of your comfort zone and trying something new, or approaching something familiar in a new way! So what do you think? An hour (or four? haha!) of deep breathing and stretching may be all you need to learn about yourself/love yourself a little more and find your sweet spot! Highly recommended!

If you are interested in learning more about Sea Change Yoga Maine, click here to check out their website.

I am fundraising for this cause through the end of this month (April), so if you’re inspired, please…


Thank you so much for reading/visiting!!


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Healthcare for Generation Z

I googled if I was a millennial and as it turns out, I am (born in 1982)! Ergo, I’m going to have to get more fluent in social media. And finally stop using a paper calendar (maybe)!

In order to move healthcare forward into the 20’s, 30’s and beyond, I want to create a forward-thinking patient experience at (my new biz) Atlantic Family Health. I’ve been thinking a lot about what Generation Z (a quarter of the US population!) will be looking for in healthcare.

My guess is TONS of information; people are increasingly VERY informed health consumers. I am seeing (in Maine) many people who are well-versed in a variety of health topics. People are getting their health and wellness needs met WITHOUT a family doctor guiding them; think: yoga, reiki, coaching, nutritionists, counselors, chiropractic care…I’m drawn to collaborating with wellness-focused businesses because these services can be so beneficial to health!

Primary care should be a positive self-care service like having a facial or getting a massage! Many people spend lots of time and energy on improving their health through things like supplements, essential oils, acupuncture, massage, recreational activities… but people do not necessarily see these services as related to the guidance of their family doctor. Many doctors actually scoff at patients engaging in the wellness industry! EVEN if the patient tells them X, Y or Z seems to be greatly improving their health!!

Do you think there is a disconnect between the wellness industry and the typical/traditional primary care/family doctor?

Generation Z (and Millennials) are more skeptical of the medical establishment. If a doctor scoffs at a patient’s health beliefs/desires/behaviors (especially those outside the realm of pharmacological treatment), or can’t answer questions about non-medication based alternatives, the patient is more likely to lose respect for that doctor and proceed with their own path to health! Long waiting room times, scheduling by phone, and 9-5, M-F hours for a doctor’s offices are passé.

Using social media to promote a business is very new to me. I met with Holly Martzial, of Mindwell Marketing and am so excited about her advice to pare down my rhetoric to market my business effectively. For one thing, she’d probably tell me not to use syntax like “pare down my rhetoric” on social media. Ha! Brevity is king when it comes to social media. Bright colors and 2-5 words are a better guarantee people will look at your advertising than very long-winded explanations of health theories. I tend towards rambling/long-winded musings over short punchy copy so meeting with Martzial was a wise decision! It was an invigorating–but also calming–meeting, given Martzial is a very talented yoga instructor. She writes,

“I want to travel everywhere, live in ten different places at once, I have 100 different career paths I want to take, you get my drift… Yoga has taught me how to be present. It has taught me to be grateful for the here and the now. It has taught me to sit still. It has taught me that when things are challenging, rather than run away on to the next, stay, breathe, and learn.”

She is writing in relation to yoga, but this approach is perfect for marketing. I tend to cast a wide net: Surfing? Raising chickens? Wildlife photography? Sign me up! While it is great to have diverse interests and being open to trying new things, when it comes to growing a business the mission needs to be targeted and clear. And when marketing your business, casting a wide net—e.g. “I can help anyone improve their health!”—may actually be disadvantageous. Creating messages that are more personalized; (e.g. “I can help your teen struggling with anxiety with a non-medication based approach.”) makes it more likely that people will engage. This tactic makes perfect sense in the context of healthcare, where treatment should always be individualized!

Martzial has a clever knack for asking the questions EVERYONE will ask you about your business. She compelled me to identify my mission, beliefs and target audience in a way that is accessible to modern health consumers.

After meeting Martzial I felt so much more focused and at ease about my marketing/branding efforts. I also revamped my website to include online booking, and people can call AND text with questions/to schedule appointments (or send an email or even send messages through social media!). A business should have MULTIPLE ways for people to engage!

Martzial’s advice is so clear cut with easy to implement tips and tricks. Here is an excerpt from her Instagram:

Is your content building connections?

Is your network growing? Not just digitally, but also in real life?

If you are interested in building your business locally, think about using your platforms to make meaningful connections.

a few examples:

      • connect with a target client or like-minded business on Instagram, then send a DM and ask to meet for coffee
      • be social on social media: leave relevant comments + start two way conversations
      • plan an in-person event and use your platforms to spread the word
      • share real + relatable content, then connect individually with the people who engage

I have tried all of her tips and have been meeting so many awesome people/businesses in the Portland area. Even if you are not running a business, her guidance is also applicable for maintaining digital health; one aspect of which is using technology to enhance/make connections with people (in person).

I have this exciting opportunity to grow the ideal family health practice. I know this content is a bit off-topic for Spy Garden, but any feedback you have on these subjects is welcomed!

What changes do you anticipate in the future of healthcare?

And also, I’ll repeat the other question I posed earlier: What do you think about the relationship between the wellness industry and the typical/traditional primary care doctor?

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me!



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Behind the Scenes

Spy Garden (this site) was always about our large vegetable garden. Which is now (I’m guessing?) lying fallow in Wildwood, Missouri. Spy Garden has always been rated G; free of negativity, busyness, work. In our voyeuristic society, one can now view the beautiful moments people experience from any distance. I think that is pretty cool.

My posts are a little art gallery of my life; chiefly photographs and occasionally lighthearted musings of the highlights. Of course there are challenges, messes, work; but when I go on the internet I like to share peaceful moments; beauty, art. Little doses of vulnerability and a good sense of humor bring meaning to beauty and art. I often think “reality” (versus beautiful photos) and the vulnerability of being human goes without saying. But It is important to be vulnerable, put yourself out there, and commit to your mission to improve this world.

People grow through relationships. And the relationships I have with all the people who read Spy Garden are so important to me! So I want to share with you; my new integrative health practice based in Maine called Atlantic Family Health. I think Spy Garden content will improve when I am beholden to my real identity instead of a secret one! Spy Garden’s mission is to promote time spent outdoors, exploring the world, learning about food/growing your own and trying new things. The approach of Atlantic Family Health is not much different! Growing my business will mean building many relationships in our new home in beautiful Maine. People need other people. Life can be hard! Making meaningful connections with others improves health.

I want this site to be a part of that!

The mission of Atlantic Family Health is to provide integrative and functional medicine to patients of all ages seeking to understand and improve the health of their body, mind and spirit. This approach can improve chronic health conditions/physical health…plus every other aspect of one’s life!

I believe a family doctor should promote joy, inspiration and balance for you, your family and community. I address physical, occupational, emotional, and spiritual health; in the context of relationships, communities and environments. I seek to reveal each person’s strengths on their path to wellness.

I am so excited to share this with you all! Thank you so much for visiting Spy Garden!

In health and wellness,

Dr. Evelyn Bunce, DNP, CNP


And please enjoy the latest collection of pictures below!

Thank you for visiting!!