For all you cat lovers! Here is the perfect holiday gift for you and those you love.

Those of you who follow this blog know how much I love cats. These are my three beauties:

rameses, tish and cora
L to R Rameses, Tish and Cora

Rameses is my ginger boy, he is 12. Tish is 2, and her daughter,  Cora, is 1.

As a cat lover, I am pleased to present books by a dear friend, Jill Pickford, known as the Sing to the Moon series. These stories will tug at your heartstrings — they are fantastical, funny, and poignant tales of rescue and feral cats and kittens that will make you laugh and cry.

Sing to the Moon: Tales from the Kitten Cam, and Sing to the Moon, Volume 2: The Rest of the Stories will make wonderful gifts for your cat-loving family and friends, and don’t forget to gift yourself! Your purchase will support Jill’s favorite cat shelter, Purrfect Pals, in Washington State. Per her wishes, all proceeds will be donated.

Sadly, Jill Pickford passed away last year. Still, she has left behind a legacy that you can enjoy, and that will help many abandoned cats and kittens. Your purchase will continue that legacy. Thank you for your support!

Just released!
Sing to the Moon, Volume Two: The Rest of the Stories

Sing to the Moon: Tales of the Kitten Cam

00 FINAL COVER Sing to the Moon cover with drawing-512
Can a kitten change the world? The answer lies in these charming stories of love and friendship, bravery and derring-do from the fantasy world of real-life kittens and cats from the Internet’s famous live kitten cam, The Critter Room. Meet gentleman spies and incompetent knights, artists and astronomers, poets and philosophers, storytellers and songsmiths. Heck, there’s even a human or two! Join in their adventures and follow their dreams in this engaging book of tales written and illustrated by kitten cam addict Jill Pickford. They will tug at your heartstrings and bring a smile to your face. All proceeds benefit Purrfect Pals Cat Shelter, in Washington State, the sponsor of The Critter Room. Tune in live to see the stories continue in The Critter Room on Facebook and YouTube where you will hear Foster Dad John say, “Enjoy the kittens. Have a nice day.”

Refer your friends to this website so they can purchase their copies.
Makes a great gift!

http://www.singtothemoonbook.com

Come and join us on Facebook: Sing to the Moon Group

Many people find coloring to be a wonderful way to relax and experience harmony in their lives. Is that you? Join my Email List to subscribe to this blog and receive your free Harmony coloring book (and more).

River of Grace Audio book with soundtrack music available now on Bandcamp. Listen to the preface of the book, and all the songs.

Susan Bailey, Author, Speaker, Musician on Facebook and Twitter
Read my other blog, Louisa May Alcott is My Passion

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The Journey of Personal Growth

I am pleased to present this guest post by Julie Morris, a life and career coach. She blogs regularly at juliemorris.org.

Before you begin your own quest for personal growth and development, you must define what that is for yourself. What is “self-improvement”? This depends on where you are now and where you want to be in the future. Make no mistake: personal growth is just that—personal. Nobody else, not even Tony Robbins or Dr. Phil, can define that for you.

Once you have defined self-improvement goals for yourself, there are several strategies available that can guide you to becoming who you want to be.

Meditation and Prayer

Practicing meditation is an excellent first step toward personal growth. Contrary to popular conception, meditation does not require the lotus position, mantras, incense, candles or other such accouterments. The only purpose of meditation is to empty your mind of distracting thoughts that may be holding you back. An easy and effective way to meditate is to sit in a comfortable chair with the room darkened and focus on some kind of white noise, like a hiss or a fan. There are many white noise generators available as apps and on YouTube.

The practice of prayer, whether alone or in community, can also be a useful means of personal growth. Whether you are praying for guidance or in appreciation for what you have accomplished, prayer can help you focus on those things of greatest importance.

Self-Care

Here is a radical, yet valid idea: it’s okay to be selfish. In fact, you should. Not in the obnoxious and demanding sense, but rather in prioritizing your own needs before the desires and demands of others. The reason is that if you are not satisfied and happy with yourself, you will be of little help to those around you. Take time to eat right, exercise, nourish your mind, and get rest when you need it. A healthy psyche and a healthy body go hand-in-hand—and the people around you will appreciate it and benefit.

Push the Boundaries

How long have you been doing the same things in the same manner? How is it working out for you? If the answer is “Very well,” then, by all means, continue. If not, it’s time to try something new. That may be a new career, which may involve returning to school for a new degree. Or, it may be something that builds on skills and knowledge you already have.

Either way, it will be time for you to dust off and update your resume. While this may seem daunting, the task will be made easier by using a free template online. Most of these are available at no charge and come in a vast variety of professional designs. Customizing these by adding your own content and elements is easily done.

Launching a Business

A common personal goal is to start a business, but it can be an intimidating task. Part of growing means seeking assistance when necessary to achieve one’s goals. If you’re wondering how to get an LLC, a formation service can guide you through the process so you can more effectively accomplish your goals of business ownership. And it will save you both time and money in the process.

Need Guidance?

Depending on your own personal development goals, it may be helpful to hire a coach or mentor. The advantage here is objectivity; sometimes, it is difficult to see the barriers we inadvertently place in front of ourselves. Furthermore, a life coach or mentor has valuable experience and knowledge that can help you on your journey.

Eye on the Prize

One way in which people sabotage themselves is by focusing on the bad news of the day, especially headlines. As grim as the global and national news may seem these days, it’s important to understand that very little of it can affect you personally. There are also uplifting and positive stories out there, even if the corporate media chooses to spin it into something else. By focusing on the beauty in the world, you can easily change your mindset into a more positive one over time—and this will manifest into positive change in virtually all areas of your life.

Whether you’re beginning a meditation practice, starting a business, or prioritizing your self-care, the tips above will help you become who you want to be.

Many people find coloring to be a wonderful way to relax and experience harmony in their lives. Is that you? Join my Email List to subscribe to this blog and receive your free Harmony coloring book (and more).

River of Grace Audio book with soundtrack music available now on Bandcamp. Listen to the preface of the book, and all the songs.

Susan Bailey, Author, Speaker, Musician on Facebook and Twitter
Read my other blog, Louisa May Alcott is My Passion

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He’s Alive! A song to celebrate Easter

Happy Easter to all of you! Nothing is impossible for God.

“River of Grace:” a book of hope during this difficult pandemic

River of Grace: Creative Passages Through Difficult Times was my first book, written in 2015. In the book I reflect upon suffering in my life which included the deaths of my parents and the loss of my singing voice. By trusting in God even when I had no idea where He was leading me, I experienced transformation as a result of the creative power of grief.

River of Grace provides powerful personal stories of loss and grief along with creative ways to cope through trust and faith. It’s a book of hope during this difficult pandemic.

To give you a better idea of the nature of River of Grace, I invite you to watch/listen to a 40 minute presentation on the book which also includes some songs that amplify the meaning.

Where to order River of Grace

My publisher, Ave Maria Press, is holding a Labor Day Weekend sale — go to their website for 10% off the purchase price.

Visit www.avemariapress.com/products/river-of-grace.

Susan’s Advent Music featured on the Great Catholic Music App

Here is a promotional video with all the details:

This is a wonderful app featuring all the music we hear in church. Music is a great way to bring the heart to prayer. I hope you enjoy the Great Catholic Music app, available for free from the IOS App Store and Google Play Apps.

If you would like your own copy of my Advent/Christmas album, Wait with Me: Advent of the Promised Son, visit my music page on this site.

Have you ever wanted to go camping with your dog?

For all you dog lovers, here is a guide on how to camp with your dog. Many great tips!
My thanks to Jim McKay from GoAllOutdoors.com

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE.

Giving to each other, and to the earth: Environmentally friendly gift-giving ideas this Christmas

This was a story that took on a life of its own — thinking up ways that we can consume less while giving more. When I was assigned this story from the Catholic Free Press, I had no idea how much my own thinking would be changed. Each of us can do our small part and together, make this a very special Christmas while at the same time, honoring what the season of Advent is all about.

Click on this link to read the article.

 

Susan’s latest CD, “Mater Dei” is now available!
Purchase here.

Many people find coloring to be a wonderful way to relax and experience harmony in their lives. Is that you? Join my Email List to subscribe to this blog and receive your free Harmony coloring book (and more).

River of Grace Audio book with soundtrack music available now on Bandcamp. Listen to the preface of the book, and all the songs.

Susan Bailey, Author, Speaker, Musician on Facebook and Twitter
Read my other blog, Louisa May Alcott is My Passion

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A tale of two eggs — meet Father Bob Jalbert, Maryknoll priest and missionary

I wanted to share with this story with you that appeared on the front page of this week’s Catholic Free Press for which I am pleased to be a correspondent. With all the negative press about priests, I wanted to present Father Bob as one of the good ones – a holy priest with a real heart for the Gospel message. He has learned so much from the people he has ministered to and I hope you will be blessed by his story.

Here is the link: http://digital.catholicfreepress.org/app.php?RelId=6.5.7.5

 

 

Susan’s latest CD, “Mater Dei” is now available!
Purchase here.

Many people find coloring to be a wonderful way to relax and experience harmony in their lives. Is that you? Join my Email List to subscribe to this blog and receive your free Harmony coloring book (and more).

River of Grace Audio book with soundtrack music available now on Bandcamp. Listen to the preface of the book, and all the songs.

Susan Bailey, Author, Speaker, Musician on Facebook and Twitter
Read my other blog, Louisa May Alcott is My Passion

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The hard work of restoring God’s temple

My November, 2018 column in The Catholic Free Press.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19

I have not been a good caretaker of my body. While I did not abuse it with alcohol or drugs, I did neglect it. And as I enter my senior years, my body is whimpering to me with an assortment of aches and pains that reflect my neglect.

That neglect became entrenched over my lifetime, fed by discouragement and negativity (also known as sloth), convincing me that I could not lose weight nor keep my body in good physical condition. I pictured sloth as elephants sitting on my chest, preventing me from moving.

My run-down temple, which houses the God of the universe, was in need of restoration.

Church & tree, Flickr Creative Commons

A few years ago, I got one elephant to move away but not due to my efforts alone. I needed the Holy Spirit to spur me on. I credit my weight loss of thirty pounds over the course of a year to one moment where I took the time to pray the rosary during adoration. In that moment, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes, inspired me with ideas and then gave me the strength to carry them out. That elephant is now banished from my temple.

One elephant remained and this one would prove to be most stubborn, until recently. Again, I credit the Holy Spirit with the change, but the beginning of that intercession was not so easy to pin down.

I had been praying for my husband to take care of his temple. Overeating, smoking and lack of exercise resulted in a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes along with the beginning stages of COPD. My husband had three elephants that needed to be banished. It seemed impossible and it was, by human standards. Slowly however, they began to move on through the grace of God. The elephant of smoking moved first, chased away by a session of hypnosis. The result however was weight gain and spikes in blood sugar, in effect, strengthening the other two elephants. My husband was discouraged.

Sitting Omysha, Flickr Creative Commons

Patience and faithfulness to prayer won the day as my husband’s workplace opened up a gym and offered a personal trainer to employees for a fair price. Those elephants of his have been successfully banished; my husband now works out four days per week. He has lost weight, stabilized his blood sugar and feels energized. His temple is being restored.

I envied him; I wanted my last elephant to hit the road too! Because of shoulder and back problems, the only exercise I wanted to engage in was swimming. I had tried the local YMCA which has a beautiful but very popular (and crowded) pool. Being a slow swimmer, it was impossible to do laps with faster swimmers. A conversation with my hairdresser introduced me to the Whitin Community Center with not one but two pools, easing the overcrowding and allowing me the pleasure of swimming in open lanes. Twice per week I swim and pray the rosary, drinking in the many blessings. Slowly my temple is being restored. It will never be a totally fit place for God’s Spirit to dwell but now we are working together to make it a better dwelling place.

One might say all this was a coincidence for in the course of a few weeks, my husband and I had managed to throw off the sin of sloth and begin taking care of our bodies. I do not believe in coincidence however. These actions were too beautifully executed for them to be pure chance. God’s Holy Spirit, deigning to dwell in our run-down, beaten up, neglected temples, was waiting for the word from us to begin the restoration process. In some cases that word was given by praying for ourselves; in other cases, through intercessory prayer. But prayer along with desire to please God, was the key. While it takes little effort on our part to give that word, the patience needed to wait for the answer takes faith. That wait was rewarded.

I enjoy thinking back on how God’s grace has worked so brilliantly, showing yet again that all things are possible. We have to recognize that God’s vision is infinite while ours is limited. As we cannot see how our lives will work out, we must trust in God’s vision for He does see. And since He is all good, what can go wrong? In the end, all indeed will be well.

St. Teresa of Avila once said, “Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours.” A healthy body is needed to fulfill that directive. Taking good care of our temples makes that work possible.

Susan’s latest CD, “Mater Dei” is now available!
Purchase here.

Many people find coloring to be a wonderful way to relax and experience harmony in their lives. Is that you? Join my Email List to subscribe to this blog and receive your free Harmony coloring book (and more).

River of Grace Audio book with soundtrack music available now on Bandcamp. Listen to the preface of the book, and all the songs.

Susan Bailey, Author, Speaker, Musician on Facebook and Twitter
Read my other blog, Louisa May Alcott is My Passion

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Attempting the impossible: describing my longing for God

How can I describe a longing for God? The scriptures describe it as a deer “panting” for streams of water (Psalm 42). The dictionary defines panting as a longing with breathless or intense eagerness; to yearn. Synonyms for panting include an ache, a craving, a desire. Hunger. Thirst.

Longing has equivalents in music: The sound of an oboe playing the “Going Home” theme from the second movement of Dvorak’s New World Symphony. A trumpet playing taps over a grave. Monks chanting, their voices in perfect unison stretching out the notes like a violin, back and forth, the voices swelling and then pulling back. The final note sung, hanging in mid air until it fades away.

Hernán Piñera Thanks for the music, mysterious form of time Flickr Creative Commons

Longing can be a pleasant feeling as it is for something good. My longing increases when God grants me the ability to sense and feel His presence; it is pure gift. It’s like the glow after a glass of wine. It’s the lightheaded peace I feel when swimming, moving slowly through the water and then floating, letting my body go limp. It’s that leftover warmth I feel when I visit my special friend after we have shared laughter, hopes and dreams, thoughts about God and our lives, occasional tears, and the Eucharist.

Longing can also hurt. It pulls inside of me causing a painful sensation. It is loneliness when the wall between God and myself becomes hard and thick due to apathy, pride and sin. It’s a constant sensation, often in the background but lately, more in the forefront. There is no concrete feeling or thought associated with my longing that can be sufficiently expressed in words; I only know that I yearn for God’s presence.

Sometimes God is so close to me that I cannot perceive him. I feel empty inside, alone and afraid. Frequently I wake in the middle of the night and try to reach out to him and feel no consolation. Yet my scant knowledge of God reminds me that He is near. Often that has to be enough, just to believe.

A seed was planted this summer after the silent weekend retreat with the Trappist Monks at St. Joseph’s Abbey. A tiny seed of longing. The seed has not yet matured enough to poke through the ground so it needs a great deal of care. My Catholic faith has supplied me with what I need to nourish it: prayers, hymns, the Word, the liturgy, the Eucharist and the community. And new tools and reminders: Gregorian chant, looking up at the sky, and swimming at the local health club. Beautiful, simple and concrete reminders of that which is beyond words to describe.

Winam Morning Swim Flickr Creative Commons

Perhaps the psalmist says it best:

As an antelope pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When may I come and appear in God’s presence?

Susan’s latest CD, “Mater Dei” is now available!
Purchase here.

Many people find coloring to be a wonderful way to relax and experience harmony in their lives. Is that you? Join my Email List to subscribe to this blog and receive your free Harmony coloring book (and more).

River of Grace Audio book with soundtrack music available now on Bandcamp. Listen to the preface of the book, and all the songs.

Susan Bailey, Author, Speaker, Musician on Facebook and Twitter
Read my other blog, Louisa May Alcott is My Passion

Save