Not Losing Hope


My Mom and Sister in 2013

My first meditation teacher was my mother. She taught me to meditate in 1971. I was the only young woman I knew who, when confronting a problem, their mother would say "Have you meditated on it honey?"

Over the last nearly 50 years, I have not always meditated consistently, but for the most part I have meditated every morning. And there's one thing I know for sure, I am better at dealing with whatever life hands me, when I meditate.

Since the election of 2016 something unpleasant appears in the news every single day. Never in my life did I believe that so many U.S. citizens would have such ugly intentions. I have spent the last three years feeling shocked and angry. Mom died in 2015 and I can hear her voice saying "All that anger is only hurting you." And she's right. I know she's right.

Even though her body was failing, she had a clear mind up to the end. A couple of months before she died she asked my sister and me to promise her we would not lose hope.

My sister Pam and I were still in our Obama optimism bubble. Mom kept saying "Things are going to get bad. Promise me you won't lose hope." Pam and I would look at each other and wonder what she was talking about. The U.S. had elected its first president who was not white and was about to elect its first president who was not male. But we knew it was important to Mom so we promised.

Mom died a couple months later and my sister died suddenly a month after the 2016 election. When I think about what Mom would want for me, I absolutely know she would say...

meditate every day
be grateful
don't lose hope.

My mom was a good teacher. The first two things come easily for me. The third thing...well...

I am trying Mom. I'm really trying.

Ten Novels I Am Reading This Summer

Several friends have recommended this book. Plus it has gotten great reviews.



From Amazon - Where the Crawdads Sing














I graduated from high school in the summer of 1969 and lived near the beach. How could I not read this?



From Amazon Summer of '69





This is featured on Reese Witherspoon's Book Club.



From Amazon Whisper Network: A Novel















I love stories about bee keepers.



From Amazon Queen Bee: A Novel















When a novel has 4215 reviews in iBooks and an almost 5 stars average, I figure it's a pretty safe bet to read.



From Amazon A Gentleman in Moscow














With over 38.000 reviews and a 5 star rating on Amazon, this novel is a must read for me, especially when I read it was about two sisters in France during WWII.



From Amazon The Nightingale













I have been wanting to read this collection of stories for quite awhile. I read Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street and loved it. It is my goal to real more Mexican writers.



From Amazon Woman Hollering Creek













This is a debut novel that was named best book of the summer by O Magazine. Now that's what I call launching a novel writing career.



From Amazon Life Lines














This sounds like the perfect light-hearted beach read. I'm not at the beach but am just a few blocks from the lake so that should count.



From Amazon Evvie Drake Starts Over














I haven't read an Elizabeth Berg novel for years... probably since before I went to work for Apple and was too tired to read when I came home from work. But now I am retired... and always liked her books so was happy to find one I have not read.



From Amazon The Story of Arthur Truluv










So what fiction are you reading this summer?

Protest Songs for Fourth of July 2019



Usually I post great songs for Fourth of July BBQs on this day. However I am thinking the U.S. is a mess with Trumpy in power. So I decided to post some of the great protest songs instead. If you are with friends this weekend, eating corn on the cobb and homemade ice cream, put on these songs and sing along to protest the ridiculous and irresponsible spectacle Trump is putting on in DC.

Here are some classics and some newer ones.

Fortunate Song - Creedance Clearwater  

Not Ready to Make Nice - Dixie Chicks

Get Up Stand Up - Bob Marley

To The Teeth - Ani DiFranco

Which Side Are You On? - Jackson Browne


Stop Hey What's That Sound? - Buffalo Springfields

Talkin' Bout a Revolution - Tracy Chapman

Big Yellow Taxi - Joni Mitchell

Mississippi Goddamn - Nina Simone

Feeling a Bit Down? This Song Always Lifts My Spirits and Gets Me Up and Dancing


One day when I was feeling a bit low, my niece Katie told me about a song from the Wood Brothers. I downloaded Sing About It and have been playing it and dancing around my kitchen ever since. It's a great mood booster. Thanks Katie.

Oh and if you like that one. Check out One More Day.

What songs do you listen to when you are down?

My Mexican Gardenia


Recently I was sitting in the Ajijic Plaza having a drink with friends. A woman pulling a wagon full of plants for sale approached us. She didn't say anything, just picked up a small gardenia plant and held it up so I could smell it. What a sales woman! She had me in less than 30 seconds. The plant looked very healthy and was only 100 pesos (about $5 U.S.).

I am a bit wary of gardenia plants as I have quickly killed everyone I have ever had. The flower buds turn brown and drop off. Well almost two weeks in and my gardenia and I are both happy. It has a new pot (also 100 pesos) and has grown quite a bit. I have had 4 gorgeous flowers and lots of little healthy buds waiting to bloom. 

I have it next to the front door so you get a whiff of the blossom when you walk in or out of my casita. I read to give it coffee grounds and have been doing that every few days.

Anyone have any gardenia tips. I am determined to keep this one healthy and happy.

What I Miss Most About My Mom


- Her kindness and generosity
- Her gratitude. She taught me to be thankful.
- Her gentle spirituality
- When I would have a problem she would ask me... "Have you meditated on it honey?"
- That she wrote a book and got it published late in life and still wanted to write another at 88
- How hard she worked to make holiday and family times special
- Her love
- Her support
- Eating ice cream with her (our favorites)
- Her carrot cake
- I knew she was always there and wanted the best for me
- Her laugh... the older she got the funnier she was
- Her loyalty

Beatles with a Cuban Twist


The other day I was out to breakfast with my friends at Hacienda del Lago. My friend Bonnie suddenly said... "Is that Hey Jude with a Calypso beat they're playing?" The music was pretty soft so I took my iPhone over the the speaker, reached up and said "Hey Siri who is this playing?"

Sure enough it was a Cuban version of Hey Jude. The album is Here Comes...El Sol! with a variety of artists. Kind of a kick.

9 Reasons To Blog if You Are a Writer, Artist, Traveler or Foodie


1.   Blogging gives you the perfect excuse to go out and find fun things to do, create, see and eat... as in "I need to eat chocolate so I can review it on my blog."

2.   Blogging is a great way to find your "tribe"... to find people who love doing the same things you love to do.

3.   Blogging helps you to attract an audience and eventually can turn them into fans, customers, colleagues, friends.

4.   Blogging allows you to tell your story.

5.   Blogging can establish your expertise, skill and authority in a subject.

6.   If you are a writer or artist, blogging will make you more visible to book publishers, art directors and galleries.

7.   Start doing the things you really love to do in life.  I started blogging to find my smile again after a couple of very difficult years. Now I blog to remind myself to keep doing the things that "make me come alive."

8.   Become a source of influence. Yes blogs can change the world.

9.   Make a little extra cash.

This Morning's Walk in Ajijic


Sunday morning I walked to meet friends for brunch. The weather as always, was perfect with blue skies and white fluffy clouds. The fishermen were out on the lake, flowers blooming, colorful murals everywhere. My walk ended with good food, hanging with friends, meeting new people, good conversations, yummy food. Then a walk back home to work off my chocolate cake. It is a gentle life filled with blessings.

Living My Dreams

iPhone photograph edited in Add Lib S and Rhonna apps to make graphic design
Add caption
I have heard so many people in Mexico say "I am living my dreams." I have never been so grateful on a daily basis than I am now. In my NOB life, my dreams often got buried under my To Do list. There was always paper work, and bills and taxes. Even good things in life seemed to create additions to that ever growing list of things that had to get done. And for those days when the ugly things took  over the To Do list... I created a playlist of songs to help me remember to put a star next to the items that give me the most joy.

Songs About Dreams
1.   California Dreamin' - The Mamas and Papas
2.   Day Dreaming - Corinne Bailey Rae
3.   Daydream - The Lovein' Spoonfill
4.  Follow Your Dream - Sheryl-Dawn Ryan
5.  A Dream Come True - Leon Russell and Elton John
6.   In Dreams - Roy Orbison
7.   I Have a Dream - Amanda Seyfried - From Mama Mia
8.   Sweet Dreams - The Eurythmics
9.   Workin' On a Dream - Bruce Springsteen
10. Dream Lover - Bobby Darin

The above image was created entirely in my iPhone. I took an iPhone photograph of the woman on a vintage postcard. I brought the image into the Add Lib S app and randomly chose a graphic. I then added "Hold Fast to Your Dreams" in the Rhonna Design app.

Baby Boomers By the Numbers


I have been doing some research for my blog about baby boomers. Because of our numbers, it always amazes me that marketing is still aimed at 18-34 year olds. The cut off age for most marketing is 49. That's crazy. Here are our numbers...

There are over 75 million baby boomers just in the U.S.

Baby boomers control 70% of the disposable income and we are set to inherit $15 trillion over the next 15-20 years. 

Baby Boomers are tech savvy with 82.3% of boomers belonging to at least one social media site.

96% of Baby Boomers use search engines.

60% of Baby Boomers read blogs.

Baby Boomers spend more time online than watching tv. We spend an average of 27 hours a week on the internet. 

When Baby Boomers watch tv, we are more likely to stream shows. Netflix is our favorite place to get content.

95% of Baby Boomers use email to communicate.

84% of Baby Boomers are on Facebook. It is our preferred social media site (Only 1% use Instagram and 5% use Twitter). And, we are 19% more likely to share content than any other age group.

Those are big big numbers.

Celebrations in Ajijic Plaza

Saturdays and Sundays in Ajijic Plaza are filled with celebrations, music, art, food, families, children playing. It is wonderful and so full of life. One just has to grab a cup of coffee, or ice cream cone, sit on a bench, mellow out and people watch. 

Riding Horses and Phones in Ajijic, Mexico

The sound of horses going by on my street is as common as the sound of cars. I saw this family, across the street from my house, ride by. The two young men in the front were looking at their smart phones. The woman was taking a selfie. I so love Mexico.

My Top Ten List for My Most Used iPhone Photography Apps


1.  My very favorite, most used iPhone Photography App is Hipstamatic. It has a bit of a learning curve but is well worth it. There are new updates all of the time. It was first released in 2009 and I have been using it since then. If you want help learning Hipstamatic I have created a how to eBook called the Hipstamatic Lens/Film Guide ($3.99). You can purchase it from Lake Tree Press by clicking on the link below. The Hipstamatic app is $2.99 It is rated 4.7 stars out of 1.5 thousand reviews. You can't get much better than that!


2.  For retouching landscapes, waterscapes and architecture I use the Touch Retouch app. Are power lines ruining your photo? Touch Retouch has a line removal tool that is pure magic! There is hardly a day that goes by that I don't use this app. It is $1.99 and is another highly rated app with 4.8 starts and 1.89 reviews. Wow! Now that's a winner. Touch Retouch was originally released in 2010 and I have used it for eight years.


3.  For retouching faces I use Facetune. Why not Touch Retouch? Facetune has a lighter "touch". It makes people look like they've had a good night sleep and might be 5-10 years younger. It does not make them look like they have had a facelift gone bad. It also has a tool to easily brightening teeth and another for sharpening eyes. It was released in 2013 and is $3.99. It has a rating of 4.9 stars with 40.7 thousands reviews. It is definitely a hit! Next time you take a photo of an "older" friend, try Facetune. They will thank you.


4.  Waterlogue was also released in 2013. It will take your photos and turn them into amazing watercolor images that can be printed. It was named as one of the App Store's Best in 2014. I love it and use it often. It does not have as high of rating or as many reviews (329 ratings, 4.6 stars). But everyone I have every shown it to thinks it is great and can't wait to try it. Cost is $3.99 and worth every penny.


5.  There are a number of very good apps to place words onto images. The Typorama app is the one I return to again and again. I like how it makes the words more graphic. It includes several type layout options and you can in-app purchase more. The basic app is free. It has an exceptional 4.8 star rating with nearly 50 thousand review. That is just amazing.


6.  This is a fairly new app for me. I have always recommended iResize for resizing images. However iResize seems to have left the iTunes store. I did some research and discovered Image Size. It has a 4.7 star rating with 5 thousand plus reviews. So far I like it. Also it is free.


7.  The Diptic app is my favorite app for making photo collages. It is super easy to use. There are lots of template options and I find it reliable. I have used it since it first came out in 2010 and continue to use it often. It has a 4.7 star rating from 673 reviewers. The cost is $2.99.


8.  You know how when you photograph a tall building the perspective gets off with the top of the building kind of looking pointy? Well there is an app to fix that. It's called Skwrt. I use it all the time for churches in Mexico. You can see a copy of how well it works here. It was released in 2014 but I only discovered it a couple of years ago when I came to Mexico and wanted better photos of church plazas. It cost $1.99. It only has a 3.6 star rating from 35 reviews. Never the less, I find it to be super handy and easy to use. Although I only use the one perspective tool. I still think it is well work $1.99.


9.  You can do all kinds of things with Image Blender like make double exposures and photos within photos. However, I use it mostly for blending an original photo with a painted version. Sometime I think apps that turn your photos into paintings are a little heavy handed. Image Blender solves this problem for me. It costs $3.99, has a 4.9 star rating with 775 reviews. This is definitely a must have app. It was released in 2011 and is updated regularly.


10.  I don't use Mextures quite as often as I do these other apps. However if I have a photo that's kind of boring with flat lighting, I will run it through Mextures. There is a tiny bit of a learning curve as Mextures works in layers. It is, however worth the effort. It is only $1.99. It was released in 2013, has a 4.0 rating with 66 reviews... not real well known but handy.


So that's my current Top Ten List for My Most Used iPhone Photography Apps. I have purchased an embarrassing number of iPhone Photography apps over the years. Hope this helps you not spend as much money as I have.

Also... a shameful promotion... I spent a year testing apps and wrote the iPhoneography Wow! eBook. I released at the beginning of this year. You can find it at Lake Tree Press for $4.99.

A Year of Blogging and Journaling Ideas

Blogging, Journaling, writing, ideas, inspiration

Ever run out of ideas for your blog or journals? This book provides 365 ideas.. yup one each day for a year, for only about 13¢ a day.

$4.95 U.S.Add to Cart
$6.50 Canadian Add to Cart
95 Mexican Pesos Add to Cart

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Five Summer Reads and Songs to Go With Them


If you have ever been to Cuba you are going to love this novel. If you have never been to Cuba it might make you hesitate. Next Year in Havana is the July pick of Reese Witherspoon's Bookclub. It tells the story of two women grandmother and granddaughter, their family secrets, their experiences in Cuba and their two love stories... one taking place during the revolution. The other takes place in present day Cuba.

I loved it and could not put it down from beginning to finish. (I love retirement where you can binge on a good book.)


Song to go with this book  Havana


Andrew Sean Greer won the Pulitzer Prize for Less. It is a delightful story of a down and out writer who avoids his ex-lover's wedding by going around the world. How can you not love a book with writing like...

"... the plane suffers a prolonged bout of turbulence. Less finds himself searching for an appropriate prayer. He was, however, raised Unitarian; he has only Joan Baez to turn to, and "Diamonds and Rust" gives no solace."

I LOL all the way through this book. It's a perfect summer read.


Song to go with this book Here I Go Again


This book came out in 2010. I don't know how I ever missed reading it as I love all things Sherlock Holms. The Beekeeper's Apprentice picks up on Sherlock's story when he is retired in Sussex when he meets the modern young woman Mary Russell, who becomes first his protege and then his partner.
I am in the middle of it right now and am enjoying it. But then how can you not love a Sherlock Holmes story?


Song to go with this book  Roar


Lately I have been drawn to novels about multi-generational women. This debut novel by Lauren K. Denton is about a young woman, Sara who lives in New Orleans and runs a fashionable shop and her grandmother Mags who own a run down b&b in Sweetwater Alabama. It's a sweet book, well written with lovely characters. If you need a "gentle" story without terrorists, spies, violence this one is lovely.



Song to go with this book Sweet Home Alabama


Speaking of presidents... Bill Clinton and James Patterson's mystery, The President Is Missing, is getting great reviews. Publisher's Weekly describes it as "a page-turning thriller that rivals the best work of such genre titans as Brad Meltzer and Vince Flynn." Indeed that is high praise. I think it will be a fun next read after Hope Never Dies.


Song to go with this book Theme From Jaws

A Must Have App for Easily Splitting Restaurant Bills


Do you hate to make the waiter write up 5 or 6 separate checks? The Tab app is the easy, fun way to split up a restaurant bill. 

    

You just launch the app and take a photo of your receipt. Everyone then taps on the items they ordered. The tax and tip are divided proportionally.

  

Everyone can then see their share and pay their portion. You can then view and share details of the completed bills. It's free at the iPhone/iPad App Store.