Orchid Paradise Wednesday, Mar 9 2022 

I’m excited to share some photos from a recent Orchid Show, titled Untamed, at the Chicago Botanic Garden. I’ve seen orchids in abundance in Hawaii and growing in the Costa Rican jungles like weeds. But I’ve never seen the variety as I did at this show, and I want to share some of the photos with you, so you too can enjoy a few moments of peace.

The blooms were incredibly diverse and spectacular in colors, sizes, and styles. Orchids were speckled, spotted, and striped. Some reminded me of other flowers, such as narcissist, and the patterns on animals, such as giraffes or wild cats.

Orchids were arranged with other tropical plants in assortments hanging overhead, on the ground, and everywhere in between. Guests were treated to a paradise overflowing with orchids.

Orchidaceae, commonly called orchid, is a diverse flowering plant with about 28,000 accepted species. Many are fragrant, others have little-to-no scent, and some smell quite awful.

For home gardeners, growing orchids can be addictive but also challenging. If done well, the rewards are abundant with plants that bloom for many years.

According to the American Orchid Society, the trick to successful orchid gardening is determining the correct balance of light, air, and water appropriate for each plant in its particular environment. When orchids do not get enough light, they do not bloom and their foliage is dark green rather than a desired yellow-green. The goal is to give the plants as much light as they can tolerate without burning.

Orchids need air circulation around the plant and roots. The recommendation is to water a 6” pot every 7 days on average insuring that the plants do not dry out. Water should run through the pot when watering allowing the potting medium (typically not soil) to soak and flush out the salt.

Orchids should be fed by watering the plants first and then adding the fertilizer at ½ strength stated in the directions on the packaging.

Most of the information in this post was taken from the American Orchid Society website. You can learn more about caring for these plants on their site.

**Alzheimer’s disease is fatal disease that requires someone to have 3-5 caregivers for an average of 8 years. Care is a relentless 24/7 responsibility. Learn more about caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s and the needs of the caregivers in The Alzheimer’s Spouse, Navigating Alzheimer’s, and Inspired Caregiving.

If you’ve read any of my books, please post a comment on Amazon. I’d really appreciate it!

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. 

Author Marketing Advisor Wednesday, Feb 23 2022 

I’m excited to share with you that I have a new position as an Author Marketing Advisor with ACTA Publications. I’ll be working with authors inspiring them and informing them of the competition they face, the responsibilities of the publisher, the need for authors to self-promote, and especially, ways in which they can bring their book to the attention of readers. In addition to several of my books being published by ACTA, I’ve also worked for them as a trade rep and wrote a blog reviewing their books as they were released.

After researching, writing, and rewriting for several years, authors balk at the thought of having to market their book, as well. However, the fact is, publishers package books, align the books with distributors, print and warehouse copies, and fulfill orders. Their marketing consists of listing them on Amazon, in catalogues, and on their website; sending out review copies; and producing sell sheets. They may also nominate books for awards.

Authors must do the rest to alert the public of their new book. Considering the millions of books released each year (more than 4 million books were published in the U.S. in 2019) in addition to those previously published and still available (perhaps as many as 20 million worldwide), an author’s new title is just one in a stadium-sized library stacked floor to ceiling.

After all the time and passion an author invests in a book, it is of little value if no one knows it exists. Authors who actively get the word out about their books do sell copies. The rest see their books collecting dust on their own shelves.

Publisher Greg Pierce at ACTA Publications made an ingenious move in hiring an Author Marketing Advisor. By doing so, he’s investing more money in the title, but also, and more importantly, in its success. In the end, publisher and author should benefit much more than they would without this guidance.

As authors, we don’t just write books. We start a business of book selling that may even include public speaking, one of the most lucrative ways to sell that book. The challenge for most of us is that, although we may be powerful storytellers in print, we are not particularly business minded. The marketing, selling, payment collection, bookkeeping, and tax filing make us uncomfortable. We find we must push ourselves to complete these other tasks.

It’s all very time-consuming. We must decide how much time and money we are comfortable investing in our book’s success and where we want to focus. Does our budget and time allow for building and maintaining a website and/or blog? Are we active on social media and want to post about the topic of our new book? Are we socially active and able to talk up our book or make cold calls to organizations that will find our book of interest?

Publishing our books is like giving birth to children. Our responsibility is to send them out into the world, especially if they serve a public need. Creative marketing offers countless opportunities to do just that.

*Have you read my books? You can find all of them on my website, most on Amazon, and some on ACTA Publications. Check out my newest ones, Inspired Caregiving, The Alzheimer’s Spouse, Navigating Alzheimer’s and my best sellers, Grieving with Mary and The Rosary Prayer by Prayer.

*Winter Photo taken at Cantigny Park, Winfield, IL, 2/18/22

Reality Wednesday, Feb 16 2022 

Is my reflection

any less real than my

physical being?

(Mute Swan, Schaumburg, IL., 5/15/21)

* Would you like to connect with me on my Facebook page, website, or Linked In?

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.

Snow Forms Wednesday, Jan 5 2022 

Winter definitely is here in the Chicago area. As I look out my window, teeny, tiny flakes of snow are falling, or rather briskly blowing. With a temperature of 18 degrees Fahrenheit and a wind chill factor of 3, that puny snowfall doesn’t call us out to play.

The chemical formula for snow is H2O. Snow is simply made up of one or more crystals of frozen water.

Snowflakes require a cycle of nature beginning with the evaporation of water from rivers, lakes and oceans. When temperatures drop to 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below, the moisture forms into tiny ice crystals. As the crystals fall, they connect with other crystals forming snowflakes. The more crystals that join together, the bigger the flake.

Snow may fall in various forms. The English language tends to describe snow with multiple words such as dry and powdery, wet and slushy, or round and icy. The Inuit people of the northern regions of Canada are said to have countless words for snow, perhaps as many as 50. However, this number is likely an exaggeration.

In the past few years, I’ve heard the term, “graupel” often used. Graupel is precipitation that forms when supercooled water droplets are collected and freeze on falling snowflakes and form into balls of crisp, opaque rime. “Graupel” differs from “sleet” in that graupel never re-freezes as sleet does. Sleet is ice pellets resulting from the re-freezing of liquid raindrops or partial melting of a snowflake.

Here are a few other interesting facts about snow.

  • Snowflakes usually have six sides.
  • Identical snowflakes are rare but possible.
  • Most of the volume of a snow layer consists of air.
  • Nearly every location in the United States has seen snowfall.
  • We know not to eat yellow snow, but it may not be a good idea to catch even fresh flakes on your tongue. Snowflakes can pick up specks of dust and other pollution along its descent.
  • Snow and ice usually appear white, because visible light is white.
  • Snow that looks blue is due to light waves scattered by the ice grains in the snow.
  • When falling crystals gather foreign substances such as algae and dust, the crystals pick up the color of the substance.

*Caring for a loved one with dementia? My books, Navigating Alzheimer’s, The Alzheimer’s Spouse, and Inspired Caregiving may be helpful. The books were written from a personal perspective and include credible research. I do understand the challenges you face.

We Are the Light in 2022 Wednesday, Dec 29 2021 

We glow. Yes, we are radiant. Science says that all living things, including humans, absorb, reflect, and transmit light.

Albeit, that glow is faint. We’re not going to light up a moonless night simply by walking down the street. Our radiance cannot be detected by the human eye. In fact, it’s a thousand time less intense than what we are capable of seeing. However, this doesn’t mean that our light is insignificant as this emission is similar in hertz to that of cell phone systems.

Due to chemical reactions, our bodies release energy, produce heat, and emit small numbers of photons, which are particles of light. Our body glow intensity varies throughout the day. The lowest point is thought to occur around 10 a.m. and peak around 4 p.m. The fluctuation is likely linked to our metabolic rhythm.

Most of the light emission occurs around the face because that is where we absorb the most. When we are unwell, the strength and pattern of waves alter.

Christian Scriptures say that Jesus is the light, and we may obtain light by following him. “Again, Jesus spoke to them saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light’” (John 8:12).

We follow Jesus by spreading love and being loving, because God is love. Acts of love, kindness, justice, and peace can be performed in small ways. Sharing our resources, being grateful for what we have, seeking justice and equality for everyone, treating others as we hope to be treated, checking on the lonely, mentoring co-workers, seeking to understand others with differing ideas, and offering hope to those who are struggling are some things we may do for the people we encounter each day.

No one can deny that we need peace, justice, and love in our world, which all are intertwined. Striving toward that goal is key to a happier, more peaceful 2022.

*Photo: Maui, 2005

You can see my website here.

SEASON OF HOPE AND PEACE Wednesday, Dec 22 2021 

It may not be obvious in the midst of this ongoing pandemic, political differences, and environmental turbulence, but the hope of Christmas truly is ours. We can maintain hope for peace and happiness in this world.

The angel declared this message to the shepherds in the field. The angels said, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

That Good News was, and is, Jesus and the gift of salvation. And did you notice that the angels said that gift is given to all people? Every one of us is a beneficiary of God’s goodness, no matter our profession, financial status, age, ethnicity, gender, or social status.

Jesus is always with us, and good things are in our lives, if not today, in the near future. God never turns away from us. The key is for us not to turn away from God.

*Photo: Paintings in the Chapel of the Angels, Israel

*We meditate on the incarnation of Jesus throughout the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. You can contemplate these mysteries and pray the rosary easily with the book, The Rosary Prayer by Prayer.

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