Travel with Mona, visit Jerusalem and the Holy Land

Many trips to Israel and the Middle East had often been canceled or postponed because of political turmoil or instability. When a Canadian friend told us about a group from Montreal organizing a guided tourist visit to the Holy Land in March 2010, my husband and I found it an excellent opportunity to finally travel safely through the region.

We flew from New York to Amman, Jordan, where we met the eighteen people coming from Canada. The next day we boarded our comfortable bus and visited Petra that I described in a previous blog. From there we continued along the King Hussein Bridge between Jordan and Israel. The security was very tight with x-ray scanning, questioning and bag searches and passport control.

Monastery of the Temptation
 The sycamore-fig tree or  Zacchaeus tree

We stopped for lunch in Jericho, commonly known as “the oldest city in the world” (8000 BCE) and the world’s lowest city (1200 feet under sea level).” Jericho is a Palestinian city in the West Bank, an important historical, cultural, and political center located northwest of the Dead Sea. It is truly a place where the ancient past comes in contact with the immediate present and where the fragrance of oranges and citrus permeates the air.

After lunch, we spent the afternoon at the Dead Sea shore. The sea water is rich in minerals and salt, and so muddy. The mud is cleaned and sold as an anti-wrinkle facial cream at $90 the small jar. [Yes, I bought a jar. It didn’t erase a single line.]

The Dome of the Rock or Masgad El Aksa. A cabinet within the building houses a hair from the prophet Mohamad’s beard. Another tradition suggests it’s the mountain where Abraham nearly sacrificed his son Isaac.
A view of Jerusalem from Mount Olive

Finally we entered Jerusalem in the early night and checked in our hotel that was fully booked for the week. For our bad luck, millions of Christian pilgrims and orthodox Jews had flocked to Jerusalem to celebrate the Catholic Easter, Orthodox Easter, and Passover that all occurred on that same week in the year 2010. The hotel manager had programmed the elevators to stop at each floor in respect for the Jewish patrons who were not allowed to operate the lift. Imagine the slow traffic, going up and down.

In the morning we boarded our bus and headed to Nazareth where we visited the Basilica of the Annunciation and in the lowest floor an ancient house that tradition says is the site of the angelic announcement. Not far from it, we visited the Church of St. Joseph, the site of the Holy Family’s house and St. Joseph’s workshop. Later we had lunch on the Lake of Tiberias, and then drove through the verdant hills of Galilea, where we visited three more churches.

Lunch of fish on the Lake Tiberias known for its rough waves.

We spent the evening on the shore of the Jordan River. Many pilgrims wore a white robe to be baptized or renew their baptism vows in the Jordan River.

Sea of Galilee, also called Lake Tiberias, through which the Jordan River flows.

The next day, we stopped by St. John the Baptist Church, built over the house where he was born. We climbed 154 steps to the Church of the Visitation. Inside the church, 41 plaques, each in a different language, bear the Magnificat.

We visited the Museum of Jerusalem and saw the Dead Sea Scrolls, then admired a small model –maquette– of Old Jerusalem, with the Temple, Pilate’s fortress, Herod’ s Castle, and the walls of Jerusalem.

We continued to Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity.

The Church of the Nativity is built above a cave which may have been the place of Jesus’ nativity.
The church was built by Queen Helena in 329, and renovated by the Crusaders. The cave includes two lobes, one with a star marks the place of Jesus’ birth, the other marks the place of the manger.

We passed by the Shepherd’s Field where the sheep and goats used to grate.

Later the hotel offered us a tour of Jerusalem by night, with a stop at Mount Olive. We crossed some villages, stopped by Victoria Hospital and Masada. We saw a temple, built by an American philanthropist on the model of the initial Temple of Solomon. It is said that the Masgad el Aksa, the mosque with the golden dome, was built on the location of the former temple.

On Holy Thursday, we returned to Mount Olive, visited a Jewish cemetery, walked by the Eastern Wall, and the Wailing Wall.

A Jewish crowd
A Christian crowd

We spent Good Friday walking through the Via Dolorosa and visiting old churches, and spent Friday evening and Saturday in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre .

Strolling along the narrow lanes of Via Dolorosa
A view of the Church of Holy Sepulcher
from Mount Olive
The Chapel built on top of Christ’s Tomb in the center of the Holy Sepulcher

It would take ten blogs to describe all that we’ve seen and learned during that week spent in Jerusalem and its surroundings. An amazing trip that will remain imprinted in my memory forever.

My latest published books are part of the Love Plans.

SAILING AWAY PLANS ; DATING PLANS ; RESCUE PLANS ;

WEDDING PLANS ; BABY PLANS

2022 Resolution Time is Here

DAMN!  It’s Resolution Time Again……Resolution Time

Heck, I’m still working my way through the rest of the Holiday goodies and now I’m supposed to step back and focus on all the amazing ways I’m going to change my life in 2022?  Okay, here goes.

The good news:  I actually do have some–deeply engrained habits that many people struggle to emulate.

The not-so-good news: I am woefully inadequate in changing my behavior in an area I really need to improve.

First for my good behavior:

1.How many of you weigh exactly what you want to weigh and regularly exercise to stay healthy and fit? I’ve got that one nailed. I run/walk a minimum of seven–ten miles a day and love that I can in my fit in skinny clothes and am downright healthy.

2. I’m an author and I love to write. My characters are my best friends. I can’t wait to talk to them. I write every day and never have to harangue myself to write. If I miss a day for some reason I eagerly catch up the next day.

Now for my “bad” behavior.  What don’t I do, that I desperately need to do?  That’s simple (and incredibly challenging for me) I need to make my marketing worthy of the great books that I’m writing. Obviously, being an author is more than writing books.

To summarize:

What do I do religiously? I work out every day. I write every day.

What don’t I do?  Work on my marketing.

So here goes.

To tackle my marketing issue I’ve turned to the experts.   One in particular , Elizabeth Scott, PhD  who writes about how to make long-lasting life changes wrote a terrific article:  Make a New Year’s Resolution That Lasts.

According to MS. Scott, each year, people make New Year’s resolutions  and each year, most of those resolutions go unresolved. While you may feel inspired to pursue a fresh, new goal on New Year’s Day, most New Year’s resolutions are discarded and forgotten by spring. So why are long-lasting goals so hard to maintain? Even behavior change experts acknowledge that pursuing and achieving goals is very difficult.

There is, however, some emerging evidence about different types of goals and the way that these types of goals interact that may help you find success. Scott says understanding the science behind these goal-setting techniques may help you to turn your New Year’s resolution into a long-lasting lifestyle change.

Different Types of Goals for Resolution Time

While most people (like me!) make a “resolution” on New Year’s Day, Dr. Scott says it more productive to set a goal. A traditional resolution is more like a pact—an ironclad promise to flawlessly carry out a new habit or to never again participate in an old one.  (Sound familiar?)

A goal, on the other hand, is a commitment to work towards an endpoint that is desirable

Researchers have identified two types of goals: subordinate goals and superordinate goals. They theorize that by setting both types of goals, you have a better chance of making successful short-term changes that turn into long-lasting lifestyle habits that are in line with your values and your view of your ideal self.

Superordinate Goals

A superordinate goal, or long-term goal, is a broad-based goal that prioritizes your high-level values and is based on the person that you desire to be.

Subordinate Goals

Subordinate goals are shorter-term, specific, action-based goals. They provide detail about what you will do and when you will do it. If superordinate goals provide a “why” for the habit change experience, then subordinate goals provide the “how.”2

A Goal-Setting Strategy for Lasting Change

Researchers who study subordinate and superordinate goal setting have theorized that the best way to achieve longer-lasting success is to combine both goal types. Superordinate goals provide a general sense of direction and help you to sort through priorities when different goals or tasks compete for your attention. But subordinate goals provide stepping stones—specific measurable actions—that keep you engaged and motivated.

So how do you put your own lifestyle change plan into place? First, you’ll need to define your goals. Then you’ll want to refine your goals. Finally, you’ll want to adjust your goals.

Define

  • To define a superordinate goal, list three reasons why I want to pursue my New Year’s resolution.
  • To define a subordinate goal, I will list three concrete actions or steps describing how I will pursue my New Year’s resolution.

Refine

Next, refine your subordinate goals. To do so, it may be helpful to use the SMART goal approach. SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Finally: Adjust

As you put your resolution plan into motion, you might find that you need to make adjustments.

Remember, by changing the game plan (the subordinate goals), you are not giving up on your main (superordinate) goal—you are simply approaching it from a new angle. This should be seen as an indicator of persistence and success, not as a sign of failure or giving up.

If your plan is humming along smoothly, then continue to set new subordinate goals as you reach established endpoints. Give yourself credit, reward yourself, and use that confidence to continue the forward momentum.

Tips for Success

Remember that setting and reaching goals is an ongoing process that is never a straight line to success. Expect to encounter challenges along the way. Experts provide other tips for keeping your New Year’s resolution for long-term habit change.3

One Change at a Time

There will be many different ways to reach a superordinate goal. Focus on just one small habit change at a time until you get better at the process.

Challenge Yourself in Small Doses

You can do so by setting shorter time-frames, or by setting goals that you know you can achieve. As your confidence grows and success rate increases, so should the degree of difficulty.

Become a Do-er

Studies suggest that approach-based goals (where you make a commitment to do something) are more effective than avoidance goals (where you make a commitment to avoid doing something).

Get Support

It’s not likely that you will be the only one in your family or social circle who will be making a resolution in January. Find someone who has a goal similar to yours and make a commitment to connect regularly and provide each other support.

Plan Rewards

Plan rewards for yourself at regular intervals along the way. Rewards may help you to stay on track and maintain motivation. Try to find rewards that are in line with your achievements and that help you to maintain interest when challenges arise.

PHEW!!!!

Thank goodness I have five days to get my plan in place.  Here’s my promise to you and to me.  Over this next year I will take on my marketing issue.  And come Jan 1, 2022, I will look back on what worked and what I need to do differently. Meantime I will congratulate myself for tackling an issue that is frustrating the heck out  me.  Onward and Upward!

Many hugs and Happy New Year!

And while you are gearing up for 2022, take a moment to savor the wonderful Christmas season one more time. Dive into these two fantastic Box Sets, my Author Billboard pals, and I created to celebrate the Christmas season.

Resolution Time

Unforgettable Christmas Promises

Festive Christmas Nights

Festive Christmas Nights (Fabulous Freebie Collection Book 5)

Family Christmas

In elementary school, one of our teachers used to ask the class to write a paper about the meaning of Christmas. What does Christmas mean to you? This sentence still echoes in my ears after so many years. I had no trouble filling the pages, writing how my grandparents organized Christmas for their family of six children and families. Christmas meant getting together with the many cousins, enjoying a fun time, a delicious dinner, innumerable cookies and desserts. “Christmas is family time,” my grandmother often repeated. Yet she always added to her guest list the friends and neighbors that were on their own on Christmas day.  

And then my grandfather passed. A year later, my mother took over. The Christmas get-together moved to my parents’ house, with my grandmother’s menu and a few new recipes. By then I was married with small children. So were the invited cousins. The reunions continued, with thirty guests attending, all related — my children playing with their relatives, creating life-long bonds of friendship within the family.

When my dad passed, Mom lost the desire and energy to prepare big gatherings. It was my turn to maintain the tradition that came with a lot of work but so much joy for children and parents. For the last thirty years, I’ve been starting the cooking and baking three weeks before Christmas. Even after we retired and moved to Florida, our children and relatives kept visiting for the holidays. This year, I will entertain twenty-five guests on Christmas Eve, relatives and a few lonely friends. My daughter will handle the Christmas Day dinner. The family reunion continues with my grandchildren befriending the cousins’ kids.

Christmas meant family togetherness for church, dinner, and play, when I was a school kid, and it still has the same meaning. My grandmother must be smiling from up there at my grandchildren and her many descendants bonding together.

Yes, the holiday preparations can be exhausting. What do you do after a long day of preparation? Wouldn’t it be nice to lounge in front of a fire or curl onto a couch or even in bed with a sweet romance novel, forget the latest lousy news and escape into a warm Christmas story that would cheer you up and reassure you there is still love in this world?
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Here are a few warm Christmas stories to lift your heart:

 

 

The Christmas Coat

A Sweet Christmas Story to share

I’m not sure who wrote this – a friend sent it to me in an email – but it’s worth passing forward. Whether it’s fiction or fact, it brought happy tears to my eyes. If you know who the author is/was, please let me know in the comments. In the end, all we have is our story, our name, and what we gave away.
An old boy was fumbling around one day
In a women’s clothing store.
He’d found his wife a Christmas coat
And was headed for the door
When he bumped into a little boy
That looked like he was lost
And he said “Mister can you help me
Find out how much something costs?
Here it is almost Christmas
And the nights are gettin cold
Winter time is on us
And my mom don’t have a coat
I’ve been workin for the neighbors
And saving for a time.”
And in his tiny, outstretched hand
Was a dollar and a dime.
His gaze went from that big eyed boy
To that pretty Christmas coat
And he finally cleared away the lump
That had gathered in his throat.
He said, “Son,
that’s just what this coat costs.
We’re lucky that we found ‘er.”
And he turned around and gave a wink
To the lady at the counter.
She put it in a pretty box
And wrapped it up just so
And went off in the back
And found a big red Christmas bow.
He said “I thank you for your help, sir
And I kindly thank you, ma’am.
I hope y’all are gonna have a big Christmas
‘Cause now I know I am.”
Well, the old boy walked home busted
Except for the dollar and the dime
Thinking he’d just have to buy
The coat another time.
He told his wife that Christmas this year
Wouldn’t be much fun.
He gently took her in his arms
And told her what he’d done.
She said, “Why you old softie.
I wouldn’t trade you for a farm.
I’ve got two or three old coats
And your love to keep me warm.”
She put that money in a matchbox
And placed it beneath their tree
And said “That is the grandest gift
You’ve ever given me.”
The years went by like years will do
When people are in love.
Their marriage was a golden bond
That was forged by God above.
Then one day came some bitter news
That filled his heart with fright.
The doctor told the old man’s wife
That she was going to lose her sight.
He said, “There’s an operation we can do
But it puts me on the spot
‘Cause it’s a quite complex procedure
And it’s going to cost a lot.”
The old man said, “Doctor, I’m a failure.
I’ve made no preparation.
We don’t have the money
For that kind of an operation.”
The doctor got the strangest look
And he sat there for a while.
And then he slowly nodded,
And he broke out in a smile
He said, “Why sir, you can’t fool me.
You’re a very wealthy man.
You long ago invested
In the world’s best savings plan.
I’ll see she gets the best of care.
She’s going to be just fine.
And the total cost to you, old friend
Is a dollar and a dime.”
The old man stared in disbelief
Then he recognized that smile,
The one he’d seen those years ago
On a loving, thoughtful child.
He said, “What you gave to me that day
Was more than just a coat.
You gave me the gift of giving
And you gave my mother hope.
My mother’d been mistreated,
Neglected and abused.
But she gave life just one more chance
And it was all because of you.
Now every year she takes that coat
And lays it beneath our tree.
It represents to us the things

That Christmas ought to be.
She says that when we leave this world
For a better home someday,
The only things that we’ll take with us
Are the things we gave away.”

Now it’s time for LAUGHS! Just released: Another CUTE BUT CRAZY Rom-Com set!

Did you get happy tears from the story of the boy and the Christmas Coat? Ready for tears of laughter? Check out the Quirky Careers of this odd lot of characters. Can they stop from falling in love? Nope. Get acquainted with these love-challenged guys and gals today. Read for #FREE with Kindle Unlimited or buy for 99cents. Another great set by the ladies from THE AUTHORS’ BILLBOARD.