Make That Cigarette Your Last Friday, Jul 25 2014 

We do some of the craziest things that put our lives on the line—driving recklessly, eating poorly, and abusing drugs and alcohol. Smoking cigarettes is another of the fast roads to self-destruction. Although a recent survey found that cigarette smoking is down about 20% in the U.S. than it was 50 years ago, one smoker is too many.

More than 1,300 people die each day in this country due to smoking. Smokers die on average 13 years earlier than non-smokers.

Every cigarette has a negative effect on the body. Chemicals in tobacco reach the lungs where the blood then carries toxins to every organ in the body. Smoking lowers immunity, causes coughing and breathing difficulties, problems with blood pressure, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. It increases chances of getting cancer, heart disease, strokes, and cataracts.

Smoking is bad for our looks, as well. It ages the skin, teeth, and fingernails. Non-smokers are often offended by the lingering smell of cigarette smoke on the smoker, which they cannot detect themselves.

And e-cigs are not any better. The battery operated devices contain not only nicotine but unknown chemicals. Since they are not regulated, no one knows exactly what is in them. There is no evidence that e-cigs help smokers quit the habit, as some claim. But it does appear that if kids start with them, they are more likely to progress to regular cigarettes.

There is the expense to consider also. An average pack of cigarettes costs about $5.31. This is money that can be used on hobbies, our families, and even necessities.

If you are reluctant to stop smoking to improve your own health, think of the people around you. About 49,000 deaths each year are caused by exposure to secondhand smoke.

The good news is that the body responds well once smoking is stopped.  We begin to heal within 20 minutes of the last cigarette.

My father was a smoker for most of his life. He died at the age of 73 from lung cancer. He is gone 13 years, and I miss him every day. I understand when he started smoking in the 1940s that it was the cool thing to do. People were not aware of the dangers. But honestly, I’m angry with him for not stopping sooner, not wanting to be with me and the rest of the family longer.

Today, everyone knows the risks of smoking. Everyone knows every puff is deadly. Please care enough about your life and your loved ones to quit the habit today.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

All Children Are Our Children Tuesday, Jul 22 2014 

Just another day in the city. Children playing hop scotch,  walking home from school, sitting on their front porch with their grandmother, and sleeping in their beds when a bullet finds its way to them, taking their lives.

Shamiya Adams is yet another victim of gun violence in Chicago. It was 9:30 on a summer evening. The 11 year-old was at a sleep-over with her friends. The children were enjoying girl-talk and s’mores when a random bullet soared through a window zeroing into Shamiya’s head.

How can it be unsafe for a child to play with friends inside their home? If they aren’t safe there, then where?

Shamiya was one of at least 22 shooting victims in a 12 hour period this past weekend. No doubt Shamiya’s shooter was a teenager, a young person who’s now taken the life of another young person. When caught and tried, he will be confined to a prison with other criminals.

We never must be immune to the sobbing mothers seen weekly on the news, heartbroken over the loss of their children due to gun violence.  Our children cannot grow up thinking this is normal. Children shouldn’t witness or know, be related to, or be a victim of gun violence. They also should respect the lives and property of others and not spend their summer firing weapons as if in a video game.

A couple of years ago, the daily program, Chicago Windy Live, featured a special program on inner city violence. Father Michael Flagler, the beloved pastor of St. Sabina Church and an integral part of the community, said the problems are multi-layered. They can’t be solved with one change. Poverty, parenting, drug and alcohol abuse, education, employment opportunities, community involvement, and mentoring are issues that need to be addressed.

These children in the mix of all of this are not “that neighborhood’s” children, they are our children, our future. If you are able to help an inner city child or their family, please do so. We can change this situation and the future of our city one child at a time. At the very least, remember them in your prayers.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

Don’t Ask for Ketchup on That Dog Friday, Jul 18 2014 

The crack of a baseball bat and aroma of hot dogs heaped in condiments signal summer is here in full swing. And the two often go hand-in-hand.

Many a summer festivity, picnic, barbecue, and baseball game include hot dogs. It’s estimated that more than 7 billion hot dogs will be consumed this summer in the U.S. Americans eat about 60 dogs a year.

The creation of the hot dog is debated but the name is thought to have originated in Germany in the mid to late 1800s where it wasn’t uncommon to consume dog meat. Sometimes they also are called franks, after Frankfurt, Germany.

Today hot dogs are cooked sausages typically made from pork and/or beef, fillers, flavorings, and preservatives. The filling is encased in small intestines of sheep or sold without any skin.

Their more nutritious, but not so delectable, cousins may be made from chicken, turkey, or vegetarian ingredients. They may also be gluten-free, preservative-free, or organic.

Hot dogs can be grilled, steamed, fried, broiled, or microwaved. They are pre-cooked but should be served warm to avoid Listeria bacteria. My favorite dogs are Hebrew National 100% all natural kosher beef. They are tasty and relatively healthy.

Hot dogs can be topped with mustard, ketchup, onions, mayonnaise, relish, cheese, chili, or sauerkraut, but beware where you make your garnish selection. Areas and baseball parks, such as Coney Island and Fenway Park, offer their specialties with signature flavorings and toppings. In some areas of the country the dogateur will be highly offended if you request toppings outside the local cuisine.

The traditional serving in Chicago is a Vienna beef hot dog topped with mustard, chopped onions, sport peppers, fresh sliced tomatoes, a pickle, and a sprinkle of celery salt. One last important touch is that the delicacy be served in a poppy-seed bun.  You don’t want to frustrate a vendor in Chicago by asking for ketchup. It you really want it, you might ask them for ketchup on the side for your fries.

For a twist on tradition, order a corn dog, which is dipped in corn batter and deep-fried. Enjoy a plain hot dogged chopped in some baked beans or a mini-hot dog wrapped in bread dough and served as an hors d’oeuvres.

Nathan’s Hot Dogs holds an annual hot dog eating contest every July 4th. This year’s winner, Joey Chestnut, proposed to his girlfriend before chowing down 61 franks and buns.

Hopefully, the young man does not practice every day. Although delicious, the tasty treat is not recommended as a daily diet. The American Institute for Cancer Research states that consuming one hot dog or serving of processed meat every day increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 20%. Hot dogs also are high in sodium, fat, and nitrites. In addition, hot dogs pose a choking risk in young children. The suggestion is to cut them into small pieces to reduce the risk.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

Back to the Beginning Tuesday, Jul 15 2014 

Farming got a boost in productivity with the discoveries of synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers but we now know that more food does not mean more nutrition. These substances have toxic results on our health. The nutritional differences between conventional and organic foods are debated, although most people see the health benefits of foods without chemicals.

A 2012 study, which some believe is flawed,  found no significant difference in nutritional value between conventional and organic foods. But a new analysis from the United Kingdom analyzed over 300 studies and concluded that organic crops are higher in antioxidants.

They also have lower levels of toxic metals and pesticide residues. Most significantly, organic crops are said to have an average of 48% less cadmium, a metal that can cause kidney failure, bone softening, and liver damage.

Organic farmers are not allowed to plant genetically engineered seeds or use synthetic pesticides, artificial fertilizers, hormones or antibiotics. Not only does this result in healthier food, organic fruits and vegetables have higher levels of favor-enhancing nutrients, so they taste better.

Organic farming also benefits the livestock, farmers, and environment. Organic farmers provide more humane conditions for the animals and leave soil and water supplies less contaminated. Additionally, farm workers avoid contact with the toxins used on conventional farms.

Organic foods can be expensive in some areas, but perhaps not in the long run. If we are healthier, we can live better and longer with fewer medical bills. Sometimes advances in science bring us back to the beginning where less is best.

Read more about organics at: Organic Center and the USDA website.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

 

Little Eyewear Friday, Jul 11 2014 

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Cool toddlers in shades are not just fashion statements. They are eye-essential.

Vision care experts urge awareness of the dangers of overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays on little eyes. They say that prevention is imperative because damage is accumulative and  irreversible.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal. (July 8, 2014), children’s eyes cannot filter UV light as effectively as adults, which make them especially vulnerable to the sun’s damaging rays. Lighter colored eyes are even more susceptible.

It’s particularly important to protect young eyes near the water, sand, and snow. These substances reflect the UV light making their effect more intense. A severe sunburn to the eyes can result in temporary vision loss, increased risk for cataracts later in life, macular degeneration, or even cancer.

The recommendation is for children to wear sunglasses that block close to 100% of the entire UV spectrum all year-round.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

(Photo: Daniel, date unknown)

Thumbing Through the Pages No More Tuesday, Jul 8 2014 

After 131 years, the women’s magazine, Ladies Home Journal, is suspending monthly publication. The July/August 2014 issue is its last.

The magazine was launched in 1883 featuring practical information on mothering, marriage, and housekeeping. The publication evolved with the times and changes in women’s lifestyles and was on the forefront of current issues of the day.

In 1904 it helped campaign for regulation of medicines sold in the United States which helped lead to the creation of the Food and Drug Act. LHJ also was the first to cover women’s cancer prevention (1913), risky maternity procedures in hospitals (1930s), the amount of money spent on presidential campaigns (1940), and drafting women in noncombat roles (1951).

The magazine also featured noted writers including Helen Keller, Frank Lloyd Wright, Louisa May Alcott, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Truman Capote, Norman Rockwell, and even both President Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt.

This month’s feature articles include getting the best price on everything you buy, what might be interfering with a good night’s sleep, how to identify skin cancer, and ways to keep your marriage strong. These articles would have been of interest over most of the publication’s history. How we write and the amount of factual data necessary to substantiate a story may have changed over the years, but I don’t believe the fundamental interests relevant to women have. Sure there are the trends in styles, the considerable changes due to technology, and the struggles for women in the workforce, but the issues deep in our hearts remain the same. Most women’s lives still center on marriage (or a solid relationship), children, and a happy home. At all ages and lifestyles, we cook, clean, and relate to our loved ones.

The challenge of successful and profitable publications are many in this digital age, so we will continue to see more and more of our favorite magazines and newspapers discontinuing hard copy production. This is too bad because there is a sensual difference between reading online and holding that magazine in our hands.

Thank you Ladies Home Journal for hanging in there for so long and helping generations of women live a fuller, happier life through your hard copy magazine.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

Please note: Special issues will be available on newsstands.

Light Up the Sky in Red, White, and Blue Thursday, Jul 3 2014 

What would 4th of July be without fireworks? Fireworks mark occasions that need to be celebrated in a very special way, and celebrating the United State’s independence is such a time.

Scientists work diligently for decades to discover particular products. And then sometimes we stumble upon something that becomes an important part of life. According to the Imperial College in London, the discovery of fireworks and gunpowder is believed to have occurred by chance approximately 2,000 years ago in China. The story is that a Chinese cook accidentally mixed three common kitchen ingredients that were dried and then burned in a fire resulting in a loud bang. It later was inserted into a bamboo stick and thrown into the fire where pressure built up and blew the tube apart resulting in the first fire cracker.

Fireworks soon were incorporated into Chinese celebrations and a way to ward off evil spirits. Marco Polo later brought the explosives to the Middle East where the European crusaders carried them back to England.

The Italians are credited with developing the product further to emit a fountain of color. Only yellows and oranges could be produced until the 19th century when reds, greens, and blues were introduced. Today we also have purples, silver, and gold.

In1749 music was specifically composed by George Frederic Handel for a fireworks show, Music for the Royal Fireworks. The event celebrated the Peace Treaty of Aix-la-Chaplelle.  Many a fireworks display is now complimented with music.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

Hold That Sneeze Tuesday, Jul 1 2014 

Fatigued and distracted, we sip hot coffee, devour hamburgers, jive to the music, talk on the phone with friends and coworkers, apply make-up, and discipline the little ones in the back seat—all while maneuvering a 4,000 pound vehicle on streets jammed with other cars, buses, and pedestrians.

Oh, and we also sneeze and blow our noses.

A study cited in the July issue of Allergy (and also the June 24th Wall Street Journal) stated that driving under the influence of allergies is comparable to having a low blood alcohol concentration. The study, which was conducted in the Netherlands, found that people with untreated allergy symptoms drove considerably more impaired than those who were not. It was as if they had a blood alcohol level of .03%. The tests used were similar to those for drunken driving.

The study also noted that, although driving improved in those who were administered antihistamines, they tested more poorly on oral exams than those who did not, most likely due the level of drowsiness from the medication.

So if the pollen count is high, you may want to reach for one of the over-the-counter remedies, or better yet, take public transportation. Who knows, the day may come when we will be arrested for sneezing behind the wheel.

©2014 Mary K. Doyle

 

It’s in the Eyes Friday, Jun 27 2014 

Anyone who wears mascara is on the hunt for the perfect brand. We search for the one that makes our lashes look fuller and longer without flaking or irritating our eyes or surrounding skin.

Few have been successful in their search, but I think I found that one for you. Moostruck 3D Fiber Lashes by Younique is dramatically different from anything else I’ve tried before. While wearing it several people commented on how good I looked. They didn’t realize it was the mascara until I asked them about it, but they did notice something was different.

The Younique website says their mascara produces a 300% increase in thickness and volume. They suggest applying a thin coat of regular mascara (without lengthening) and then their gel and fibers. I prefer not using my other mascara along with it. My lashes are blond and yet look fabulous with only Moodstruck. It is less expensive this way and also doesn’t flake as it does with my own mascara added to it.

My daughter, Lisa, got me hooked on Moodstruck, and once you try it, I’m sure you will be too.  You can order it on Lisa’s link.

Moodstruck 3E Fiber Lashes is hypoallergenic, never tested on animals, has no fillers, and is paraben free. It is available for $29 plus shipping and tax.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

2014 CPA Book Awards Tuesday, Jun 24 2014 

Writing books takes years of research, writing, and rewriting, and it is rewarding when readers tell me the books made a difference in their life or when they are honored by my peers.

Both Saint Theodora and Her Promise to God and Young in the Spirit received Honorable Mentions in the 2014 Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada book competition.

The awards are not First Place (or Second or Third) but meaningful to me because they were awarded by respected professionals in the industry and competed against significant publishers such as Ave Maria Press, Liguori Publication, Loyola Press, Orbis Books, Georgetown University Press, and Paulist Press.

This is the first year I entered one of my books in this contest. Young in the Spirit also received an Honorable Mention in the Great Midwest Book Festival competition.

Winners were announced at the annual CPA convention, on the CPA website, and in the publication, The Catholic Journalist.

Saint Theodora and Her Promise to God is my first published children’s book. It is about Saint Theodora, also known as Mother Theodore Guerin, who founded schools in Indiana and Illinois in the mid 1800s. One of these schools, St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, is the oldest liberal arts college for women in the United States and also offers co-ed graduate degrees. I received my Master’s of Arts Degree in Pastoral Theology from this school.

Young in the Spirit explores the impact of spirituality on aging and caregiving. It offers suggestions on ways to build on our faith during these times.

Saint Theodora and Her Promise to God was published by the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, IN and Young in the Spirit was published by my little press, 3E Press.

Saint Theodora and Her Promise to God and Young in the Spirit are available on Amazon and my website: marykdoyle.com.You can see the entire list of winners on the CPA website at: Catholic Press Association

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

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