Do You Want Peace? Thursday, May 12 2022 

If you had the power to bring peace and justice to absolutely everywhere in the world, would you use that power? Would you at least make an attempt to promote peace?

Well, you do have such power, and it isn’t very complicated. More than 100 years ago, the Virgin Mary gave us a peace plan that she promised would work. And she provided clear instructions for us to follow.

Over the course of six months from May 13 to October 13, 1917, Mary appeared to three shepherd children, Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta in Fatima, Portugal. The plan is simple but does take some effort on our part. Basically, it is to build a relationship with Mary’s son, Jesus. If Jesus is our first thought before we act, we would be kinder, gentler, and loving. The more of us who do this, the more peaceful our world becomes.

One way in which to grow closer to Jesus is to pray the rosary daily. Throughout the rosary, we meditate on the life, works, and death of Christ. The repetition of prayers is calming, which allows us to think clearly. We end feeling more relaxed and positive.

Mary warned that if we did not strive for peace, an already greedy, angry, and selfish world would become worse. At that time, World War I was in progress. Undoubtedly, we did not heed the warning. We know that a greater war did in fact occur, and we have continued with conflicts ever since then.

At the time of the apparitions, Lucia was 10 years old, Francisco was 9, and Jacinta was 7. The Fatima children were quite young yet followed Mary’s instructions to the very best of their abilities. If they could do it, so can we.

For more information on Mary’s peace plan, see my booklet, Fatima Today, available for only 99 cents from ACTA Publications. To learn how to pray the rosary or understand it better, see my book, The Rosary Prayer by Prayer.

The Lizzardo Museum of Lapidary Art Monday, Apr 11 2022 

The Chicago area is known for its outstanding museums. But my boyfriend, Paul, and I actually went to one I’d never heard of, and I’ve lived here my whole, l-o-n-g life. We recently discovered The Lizzardo Museum of Lapidary Art in Oak Brook, Illinois. Lapidary relates to stone and gems and the craft involved in engraving, cutting and polishing.

The Lizzardo Museum displays more than 200 pieces of extraordinary jade and other hard stone carvings from around the world in addition to uncarved rocks that are naturally impressive. We spent the afternoon gazing at each piece, thoroughly intrigued with the mastery required to create such magnificent items and the stunning beauty of the large, uncut stones.

I loved the traditional jade green pieces but was surprised to learn jade can be found in other colors. Here is a carving of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy, in Jadeite Jade (early 20th century). Notice the lovely lilac, blue, and even gold shadings.

Here are others with such variations.

At the museum, you can find sculptures in other substances and stones, as well. Here are a couple of the ivory pieces on display. Some of these pieces have the delicacy of lace.

This figure is made from rich, green malachite.

And this exquisite box consists of numerous elements including Malachite, Rhodochrosite, Gold in Quartz, Sugilite, Turquoise, Jade, Copper Ore, Lake Superior Agate, Datolite, and Opalized Palm Wood

The most massive carving at Lazzardo is the Altar of the Green Jade Pagoda, (Jade/Jadeite on Teakwood with Cloisonné, 1933, Designed by Chang Wen Ti, China). Carved from a nine-ton boulder from Myanmar, the altar consists of over 1,000 pieces of jade and took 150 skilled jade carvers more than ten years to complete. The masterpiece was donated to the Lizzardo Museum in 2018.

Other amazing works include the Florentine and Roman stone mosaics. No matter how closely I looked at these intricate pieces, I could not see the tiny stones. To me, it was if the scenes were painted.

Castle Lizzardo, an 18 K gold sculpture with diamond windows, is magical. The detail is extraordinary. The added stones appear as if the castle sets right into them.

Other pieces include this one titled, Mountain, which is carved from Lapis Lazuli (China),

The striation in the following vase comes from a stone called Blue John Fluorite. The vase sits on an Ashford Marble Base (late 20th century, England).

This lovely Madonna is carved from Rutilated Smokey Quartz (Germany) and leans with the flow of the stone.

And this Italian pitcher and German bird carving are made from Rock Crystal Quartz. I can’t imagine using such a spectacular and fragile pitcher.

I love the graceful movement of the Dancing Angel by Glenn Lehrer which is made from Drusy Agate with Silver on an Obsidian base (U.S.A.).

The museum also has dozens of cameos.

This one is part of a temporary exhibit of cameos based on the legendary tale of Faust.

And don’t miss the back of the museum where the unsculptured rock formations can be found.

Here is large piece of Fossilized Conifer Wood. The changes in the nature of the bark offers much to ponder.

The bright, lively Rhodochrosite is certainly eye-catching.

And check out these beauties – Rubies in Zoisite

Scolecite

Angel Wing Calcite

Ocean Jasper

and Mesolite.

In addition, the museum features a wall of dioramas the children will enjoy. The miniatures in these scenes were carved from gemstones in Idar-Oberstein, Germany.

Mining is showing destruction of the rainforest and other natural habitats, so I believe it’s important to appreciate the carvings we have rather than gathering any more of precious stones. The Lizzardo Museum offers much to enjoy.

The Lizzardo Museum is located at 1220 Kensington Road, Oak Brook, Illinois, 60523. You can reach them at 630-833-1616 and find their website here.

Admission is reasonable and varies by age-adults $10; seniors $8; students, teens, and children aged 7-12 $5; and children 6 and under are free. Members of the Lizzadro Museum and active members of the Armed Forces are admitted free of charge on any day the Museum is open to the public.

***Want a special gift for a caregiving friend? Check out the gift book, Inspired Caregiving. Weekly Morale Builders. I wrote it with that special friend in mind.

Breastplate of St. Patrick Thursday, Mar 17 2022 

We’ve experienced disturbing issues for years now. The constant onslaught can make us feel helpless. But we never are. There’s always something we can do.

For example, we can donate to the needs of the desperate people of Ukraine and all those who are hungry using reputable organizations. We can pass on clothes and household items we are not using or literally open our doors to the homeless and displaced.

And prayer is always an option and so very powerful. Today, being St. Patrick’s Day, is an especially good day to pray the prayer of St. Patrick. Most often, I simply pray the “Christ, be with me…” part, but the entire prayer isn’t that long. I also change the “me” to “us” and the “every man” to “everyone.”

Try it for yourself. You may be very surprised at the protection you feel for yourself and others.

Peace be with you.

*Have you read The Rosary Prayer by Prayer or Grieving with Mary? Please write a review on Amazon if you have.

Mary’s Peace Plan is Today’s Peace Plan Friday, Feb 25 2022 

Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine has everyone on edge. Putin’s been taunting the country for weeks reminding the people of previous days of terror. His unpredictability and bullying make us wonder how far he will go. Could the invasion of one small country lead to an all-out world war?

We can’t turn our backs on the Ukraine, or anywhere else. From a selfish standpoint, what effects one, effects all, in one way or another. In addition, we know the Ukrainian people. In this technologically, interconnected world, we know people across the globe through online chatting, news coverage, and business dealings. We may even be neighbors, coworkers, or related to them.

The Virgin Mary says there is a way to prevent war. World peace is possible, and Mary explained how it could be achieved. She clearly spelled out a plan in 1917 in Fatima, Portugal through a series of apparitions to three young shepherd children: ten-year-old Lucia dos Santos, nine-year old Francisco Marto, and seven-year-old Jacinta Marto.

Mary’s peace plan consists of specific instructions, but overall, her point was to pray, and to pray unceasingly. In particular, she instructed to pray the rosary every day.

“The rosary is a path to peace because it promotes peace within us, and that peace reflects on everyone we encounter. The rhythmic sequence of prayers is very calming and allows us to meditate more fully on the life of Jesus. It draws us closer to Christ because it is Christ-centered. And where Christ is, there is peace.” (Excerpt from Fatima at 100. Fatima Today)

At that time, the world was at war (WWI), and Mary warned that if we didn’t change our ways, a greater war would result. We know, in fact, that a greater war (WWII) did occur resulting in the loss of more lives and destruction.

Mary’s peace plan is as important today as ever. We don’t have to sit by and watch the pain and destruction across the globe while hopelessly ringing our hands. We can take action in a real way, because prayer works.

We can pray in our own way or pick up those rosary beads. Praying the rosary only takes about 15-20 minutes. Isn’t that investment of your time worth personal and world peace?

*For more information on how to pray the rosary, read The Rosary Prayer by Prayer available from Amazon.comACTA Publications, and my website. 

Nurture Yourself Tuesday, Feb 8 2022 

Midwest winters can be not only cold and snowy but gloomy, especially when we don’t have sunshine. The frigid temperatures and icy/snowy road conditions restrict our ability to get out. We end up tired and depressed.

When feeling down, take note, and take care of yourself so, you can better care for the other people in your life. We have lots of little ways to do this that don’t cost much in time or money. Take a walk in nature. Even gloomy days in a forest or park offer natural beauties and wildlife to brighten our spirits. Meet a friend for coffee or lunch. An hour or two offers us a distraction and warms our hearts as well as our bodies. Or watch a humorous program. Laughter reduces stress hormones and depression, reduces pain, and increases creativity.

You can find more ways to care for yourself in my book, Inspired Caregiving. I wrote it with you in mind!

*They all laughed when I said I wanted to be a professional comedian. Well, no one is laughing now.

Virtual or Reality? Monday, Jan 24 2022 

Did you receive your invitation to the wedding reception of the year? After a ceremony in front of a small group of family and friends in their village in India, Dinesh Sivakumar Padmavathi and Janaganandhini Ramaswamy will hold a virtual reception. Approximately 2,000 guests will personally be greeted and then allowed to explore a castle in a Harry Potter style metaverse.

The couple chose this option because of the COVID limitations they would have to follow with a traditional wedding in India. Interestingly, the digital reception also allows for a 3D avatar of Ramaswamy’s deceased father to bless their union.

The metaverse currently is a hot spot to create dream homes and vacations. It’s a space where digital representations of people and their surroundings can interact without actual physical contact.

If you’ve experienced a 3D, or a 3D Imax movie, you know what it feels like to be immersed in the scene. The movie appears dimensional, and it is as if you can reach out and touch the items in the movie.

Virtual Reality is 3D on steroids. VR uses computer technology to create a simulated environment. The scene is above and below you as well as all around. You can make contact with items coming in your direction. For example, you may hit a “ball” with your paddle or bat, move furniture, or navigate through dimensional spaces.

A simulated experience may appear true-to-life or animated. Applications now are used for entertainment, education, and business while wearing a head-mounted display (HMD).

I received an Oculus HMD from my boyfriend, Paul, this past Christmas. I’m a newbie with minimal experience at this point but am finding some interesting places to travel, museums to visit, ways to exercise, and beautiful settings for meditation. There are tons of games on the systems, however, I doubt I will play any of them. I’m on the computer most of the day and need time in the real world.

One of my first VR experiences was to travel underwater to a coral reef. The feeling was realistic. Unlike viewing on a television, I felt as if I was in the water and could look all around and below me. There was an exciting sense of presence in the environment.

The advantages of VR seem to be the ability to experience opportunities otherwise limited by time, expense, or physical ability. Fun workouts, interaction with friends in a playful way, learning from a more realistic vantage point, and traveling to places, and hopefully, time periods are some of the possibilities.

The drawback is that, like everything, it costs to play. HMDs are several hundreds of dollars, and additional equipment is needed for some experiences. In addition, most of the activities require a one-time or ongoing fee.

The few studies on this rather new technology show that virtual reality is safe for most adults when used appropriately. Typical warnings include not to engage in VR when ill, with a headache or nauseous, or inebriated. Anyone who has experienced seizures or heart trouble should also avoid VR.

Time in VR should be minimal to avoid fatigue, eye strain, and elevated heart rate. As with all the video games, they are addictive. And there can be difficulty managing surroundings, being able to distinguish what is virtual versus real resulting in tripping, falling, or hurting yourself or others, so some precautions are necessary.

If children are participating in VR, they must be closely monitored. We can’t differentiate virtual reality from real life until at least ten years of age. Children can become confused as to what actually happened to them or what they experienced virtually.

Most importantly, to avoid losing touch with the people and places in our lives, VR should be restricted to no more than a few hours a week. Like all technology, balance is key. We can quickly forget where we live, the people in our real world, our responsibilities, and the meaning of what it is to live authentically if we choose to remain in images artificially projected into our heads.

**Please remember the caregivers in your life. They may find these books helpful, Inspired Caregiving, The Alzheimer’s Spouse, and Navigating Alzheimer’s.

How to Pray Wednesday, Jan 19 2022 

Believers have it easy. When we truly believe in a loving God who cares for us, we’re assured that when we ask for something and give our worries and wants to God, God will respond in a way that is best for us. We have no need to fret. We are in God’s hands.

So, is there a special way in which we need to pray, to talk to God? The answer is, definitely not. Our prayers are heard however we communicate with the Lord.

Devotion may be shown using words spoken, thought, or read; executing or pondering sacred art or music; holding sacramentals, such as medals and rosaries, to prompt our prayers; meditating in sacred spaces; and through simple acts of charity and love.

For example, adult coloring books are popular ways to destress. When coloring in a book that offers religious words and artwork, we can use the activity as a tool to pray.

After writing the book, Saint Theodora and Her Promise to God for the Sisters of Providence of Indiana, I was asked to write a shorter version of the book for a coloring book. While coloring, we can use this book to think about Saint Theodora, also known as Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, and how she prayed and discerned her calling. We then can consider how God calls on us and how we respond to that call.

Try it for yourself. Talk to God, and then listen. God will answer. We just need to pay attention.

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

*Unsure of how to pray the rosary? Here’s an easy and inspiring way. Just turn the pages of The Rosary Prayer by Prayer and follow along.

Sleep is Medicine Friday, Jul 23 2021 

Perhaps Americans should start putting sleep on their calendars and to-do lists. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one in three Americans are sleep-deprived. More than 35% of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep per night. Shockingly, one in 20 has fallen asleep while driving in the past month!

Sleep needs vary from one person to another. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. However, some are fine at 6 hours while others require up to 10.

One of the interesting factors regarding sleep is that deprivation can result in illness and illness can contribute to sleep deprivation. For example, due to at least two illnesses, I’m one of those people who experiences a cycle of pain and fatigue. The more tired I am, the more pain I feel and visa versa. I’m at a point where I can do anything as long as I allow rest times after physical activity.

Dozens of factors contribute to sleep deprivation including a too-busy schedule, too much caffeine or alcohol consumption, anemia, hypothyroidism, jet lag, unhealthy diet, anxiety, cancer, chronic infection, inflammation, and pain, kidney disease, concussion, COPD, depression, diabetes, fibromyalgia, physical or emotional trauma, hormone imbalance, grief, thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, obesity, and sleep apnea.

On the other hand, lack of sleep may result in other health problems. Researchers find that lack of sleep makes it more difficult to lose weight and poses an increased risk of diabetes, heart problems, depression, substance abuse and a decreased ability to focus, remember new information, and perform at optimum levels.

There’s also a connection between sleep loss and memory loss. Chronic sleep deprivation causes injury to parts of the brain that are essential in maintaining attention and forming and storing memories. In addition, it’s believed that our brains clean out substances while sleeping that otherwise interfere with its ability to transmit messages.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also called myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME and ME/CFS), is a particular problem with fatigue that is predominately diagnosed by ruling out other illnesses. Symptoms include fatigue that worsens with physical or mental activity, doesn’t improve with rest, and may also include difficulty with memory, focus, concentration, sore throat, enlarged lymph nodes, unexplained muscle or joint pain, and headaches.

The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is unknown, although there are many theories ranging from viral infections to psychological stress. Some experts believe chronic fatigue syndrome might be triggered by a combination of factors.

If you feel that fatigue is a daily concern for you, it may be best to consult your physician.

*Have you seen my post, “Eat Well. Live Well?

*For information on caregiving to loved ones with dementia, you may find these books helpful: Navigating Alzheimer’s, The Alzheimer’s Spouse, and Inspired Caregiving.

*Photo: Lily Pad, Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, IL, 6/12/21

Celebrate the Small Stuff Thursday, May 13 2021 

Life is built on baby steps. We may pause to note the milestones—major birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, retirements, or an award, but we can’t get to the big stuff without the little accomplishments along the way. An improved test score, eating a healthy meal, extending a kind word to a stranger, completing a troubling work project, or a clean kitchen at the end of a hectic day is what it’s all about. These little achievements are cause to celebrate.

Our daily challenges demand our attention. The disasters and struggles shout for us to respond. Yet, in the most trying times, we continue to have moments of joy, moments to commemorate. Focusing on these gains, no matter how minor, keep us positive and hopeful. We recognize that good things are happening all of the time instead of being stuck in sorrow.

We also remain in the present. We’re not mourning the past or fearing the future. We are powerful in the moment. And all those strong, happy moments lead to bigger successes.

*

“Honoring Mary, Our Blessed Mother”

Have you seen my website, Mary K. Doyle?

The Cicadas Are Coming Thursday, Apr 15 2021 

Brace yourself for the inundation of cicadas. As many as 1.5 million of the creatures per acre are due to emerge from the earth very soon. No need to worry about missing their appearance. We’ll hear them a mile away, see them covering foliage, and feel the crunch of their exoskeletons beneath our feet.

There are two main types of the 3,000 cicada species—annual and periodical. Annual cicadas emerge every year in late June or August, while periodical cicadas emerge in cycles of 13 or 17 years, depending on the species. A group of periodicals that emerge at the same time is called a brood. There are 15 different brood cycles. More than one type of brood may emerge simultaneously in the same area depending on their development. The group that we will see this year is known as Periodical Cicada Brood X (10) and rise from the earth when the soil temperature reaches 65 degrees for a depth of 8 inches.

The states gifted with this year’s presence of the insects include Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York (extinct or nearly so), Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington D.C.

Brood X cicadas are one to two inches long with a wingspan of three to four inches. They have black bodies, clear wings, and bold red eyes. They breathe through two spiracles on the thorax and eight on the abdomen. Their antennae are short and bristly.

Cicadas are harmless to humans. They may prick our skin if held but do not bite. In fact, people around the world, including Native Americans, once dined on them. They are said to taste like corn and can be grilled, steamed, boiled, or sautéed. Rodents, moles, squirrels, birds, lizards, spiders, killer wasps, snakes, and fish eagerly feast on the delicacies.

Our dogs may nibble on them, as well. However, we should deter them from doing so. Too many cicadas can make dogs sick. The bugs also may be contaminated with pesticides or cause choking in small dogs.

Unlike locus that can result in extensive agricultural damage, cicadas do not harm trees or shrubs. We may notice some leaf loss but not enough to cause lasting damage. According to the Department of Agriculture, molting cicadas eat twigs while adults do not even feed. In addition, their nutrient-rich exoskeleton will enrich the soil and plant growth.

The cicada has the longest life cycle of any insect. They live underground for 17 years while feeding on sap from tree roots. Once mature, they emerge from the ground, lose their exoskeleton, and sprout wings. They then mate, lay eggs in twigs of trees and branches, and die. Eggs hatch in about four weeks and then burrow underground for the next 17 years before repeating the cycle.

The creature’s vast emergence is believed to be a method of survival. So many cicadas arrive at once that predators cannot destroy the entire population. It’s also thought that predator birds tend to have lower density when it’s time for the cicadas to emerge.

Cicadas are among the loudest insects with male mating calls typically ranging from 90 to 100 decibels. That’s louder than a hair dryer or lawn mower but may be as loud as 120 decibels and heard up to one mile away. If you are one who enjoys the music of cicadas, you have three to four weeks to tune in.

*

Cicada photo credits: Gene Kritsky, Ph.D., Mount St. Joseph University

See my last post on my other blog, “Forgive Yourself” and my website.

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