Hans Christian Andersen Illuminated by The Message Friday, Oct 2 2015 



Have you ever had fun reading a prayer book? Well, you will now. My newest book, Hans Christian Andersen Illuminated by The Message, pairs passages from some of our favorite fairy tales (Emperor’s New Clothes, Ugly Duckling, The Snow Queen, and The Steadfast Tin Soldier) with Scripture. It’s an unusual way to pray but one that will get you thinking.

Fifty passages are taken from Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales and paired with 50 passages from The Message, a version of the Bible that uses contemporary language. For example, an excerpt from The Ugly Duckling is on the left hand page and a verse from the biblical Book of Job is on the right. The Message literally illuminates the literary passage.


Hans Christian Andersen was one of my favorite childhood authors. My mother read his stories to us from her own childhood book dating back to 1936. The pages were so well-worn and old, they disintegrated in my hands as I compiled this new prayer book.

The credit for the ingenious concept of raising spirituality through literature in this way goes to publisher, Greg Pierce, at ACTA Publications. Hans Christian Andersen Illuminated by The Message is one in a series called Literary Portals to Prayer that also includes, Elizabeth Gaskel (North and South, Wives and Daughters), William Shakespeare (Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth), and Herman Melville (Moby Dick, Typee, Billy Budd). Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, and Jane Austin also will be out soon.

Books are available in a standard paperback size and also an Enhanced-Size with large print for public readings and display.

You won’t want to put these books down before reading cover-to-cover, and you’ll go back to them again and again, finding new inspiration each time. Literary Portals to Prayer are excellent choices for Christmas gifts and to snuggle up with on chilly nights.

You can order Hans Christian Andersen Illuminated by The Message, or the other titles in the series, through ACTA Publications, Amazon, or your local bookstore.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

Essential Employee Thursday, Sep 17 2015 

Harriet Gerber Lewis, former president of a multi-million dollar company, said she followed her father’s example of knowing every employee by name. Everyone had an integral role in the success of the company, or they wouldn’t be there. She cared about each one like family.

Harriet is now deceased, but this is one of the many things I learned from this incredible woman when interviewing her for my first book, Mentoring Heroes. She took her company to impressive levels all while valuing her employees and giving generously to numerous social organizations.

My boss, Publisher Greg Pierce of ACTA Publications, is the same. He accommodates his employees’ special circumstances, which I’m sure adds stress to his life as he relieves ours. I’ve always taken pride in any work I do, but Greg’s faith in me makes me even more accountable. I never want to let him down.

There are several things we look for in a job. We want to make the most money possible or have flexibility of hours or variety of responsibilities. Mostly we seek work that we enjoy and an employer who values us. And hopefully, what we do is honest and beneficial to the world at large.

Whether you serve customers in a fast food restaurant, care for children or the elderly, or see clients in a high-rise office building, you play an important role in a company’s success. You also may be a source of joy and friendship to coworkers and the people you serve.

Take pride in what you do, and don’t hesitate to tell workers you encounter throughout the day that they matter to you, that you appreciate them. I often thank the housekeeping crew in public washrooms for keeping it so clean. They make my day better, and I am happy to let them know that.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

What Our Bodies Say Wednesday, Sep 2 2015 

Ridges in fingernails, stocky legs, and our sense of smell. Our bodies offer seemingly odd signs to possible present or future health conditions. All we have to do is pay attention, check it out with our doctor, and do what we can to maintain good health.

At the end of May, I had a medical event that sent me to the emergency room. I have no memory of the paramedics, the ride in an ambulance, or much of the time in the ER. The cause is still unclear. A vascular condition found through subsequent doctor visits and testing may or may not have anything to do with it. I temporarily lost some hearing in my left ear, which has since returned to normal, but one odd result continues to remind me of that evening. I have a deep ridge in my right thumb nail which I’ve watched move up the nail as the months have passed.


According to some studies, deep horizontal depressions across the nail bed, that are not due to injury, are called Beau’s lines. They may be a sign of uncontrolled diabetes, circulatory diseases, or any illness associated with a high fever.

Here are a few other curious signs that may signal a current or future health condition:

  • Stocky legs between 20 and 29 inches in women tended to have higher levels of enzymes that may result in liver disease.
  • Older adults who cannot identify the scent of bananas, lemons, or cinnamon are five times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease within 4 years.
  • Linear wrinkles in one or both ear lobes may predict future cardiovascular events. A crease on one lobe raises the risk by 33 %, and if creases are found on both lobes, the risk is as high as 77%.
  • Women who wore a size D bra or larger at age 20 were 1.5 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
  • Weak, brittle, or splitting fingernails, that are not harmed by a manicure, acrylic nails, or gel wraps, may be due to advancing age or a deficiency in Vitamins A, C, or biotin.
  • Dark, vertical lines on finger nails are common in dark-skinned people but also can be due to benign moles in the nail bed. However, a single new or changing band can be a malignant melanoma.
  • Bulging eye balls are a common sign of Grave’s disease (overactive thyroid).
  • A grey ring around the cornea, which is called arcus senililis, often occurs with high cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • And always be aware of a mole or marking anywhere on your skin that changes in shape or color.

(Most of the information for this post was taken from prevention.com)

©2015, Mary K. Doyle


Blessing of Bright Stars Friday, Aug 21 2015 


Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is both heartwarming and heart wrenching. It is an intense and intimate form of care, especially for spouses caring 24/7 for the main person in their lives. They become one as the caregiver must think and feel for their spouse all day, all night. We are their external hard drive as they no longer can tell if they are hungry, tired, anxious, or uncomfortable. Remaining calm, compassionate, and steady is essential.

My husband, Marshall, has Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms have been noticeable for at least 11 years; however, Alzheimer’s can be progressing in the brain for 10 to 20 years before any signs. I cared for Marshall at home for the first 10 years. He now resides in an assisted living home for memory care where I talk to him and/or visit him daily.

Marshall was a larger-than-life personality who continues to light up the room. But our conversations are basic at this point—mostly about how much we love each other.  The stars shine brightest in the darkest of night, and each time he says, “I love you” and “You are the love of my life” is a bright star indeed that I hold close to my heart.

WGN-TV is airing a special on Alzheimer’s at 7pm Central Time on Saturday, August 29. The program, Unforgettable: Living with Alzheimer’s, also will stream live online on wgntv.com and be replayed on Sunday, August 30th at 2pm Central Time on CLTV. I was interviewed for this special along with doctors, patients, and Glen Campbell and his wife, Kim.

You also can listen to an interview I had with Dean Richards on WGN radio on this subject.

  • Read more about caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s in my new book, Navigating Alzheimer’s. 12 Truths About Caring for Your Loved One, available from ACTA Publications or Amazon.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle


Good Enough to Eat? Tuesday, Aug 18 2015 

For decades I cooked for a full table of family and friends every day. At that time I always had a packed refrigerator and pantry from which to select ingredients.

Now I eat alone most weekdays but can serve a crowd on weekends. This makes keeping fresh ingredients on hand more challenging. If I don’t cook much for a few weeks, excess items may go to waste before using them.

Fortunately, we have some dried, boxed, and frozen foods that have a longer shelf life. Chopped onion and green pepper is available in the freezer section which offers an easy way to use small portions without wasting a whole onion or pepper. Boxed whipping cream and milk may be stored in your cabinets until opened. And some products that we only use in certain recipes, such as buttermilk and tomato paste, are available in powdered form. Mixed with water, they are nearly identical to the fresh product.

Whatever food is used, it’s important to closely watch the date stamped on every item from pancake flour to cottage cheese to avoid illness. However, there is confusion as to what those dates really mean. Unless clearly stated, the date may be the recommended sell date or use by date. And this date may not apply once the product is opened. A good rule of thumb is to toss the food if there is any concern about its freshness to avoid food-borne illnesses. As I tell my kids, “When in doubt, throw it out. We can’t always know by the way a food looks or smells if it is safe to eat.

The US government has some recommendations on their website for common OPENED products. These recommendations are for foods that are stored properly in the inside of a refrigerator – not on the door – at 40° or below. Here are a few of these items and the length of time they may be kept safely (in the refrigerator) after opening:

  • Bacon – 7 days
  • Eggs, raw in shell – 3-5 weeks
  • Eggs, hard-cooked – 1 week
  • Egg, chicken, ham, tuna and macaroni salads – 3-5 days
  • Hot dogs – 1 week
  • Leftovers – 3-4 days
  • Lunch meat -3-5 days
  • Meat, ground -1-2 days
  • Meat, fresh beef, veal, lamb, pork -3-5 days
  • Milk -5-7 days past the date stamp
  • Poultry, fresh – 1-2 days
  • Sausage – Chicken, turkey, beef, or pork -1-2 days

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

My No List Sunday, Aug 2 2015 

One of the benefits of becoming a woman of, let’s just say, a—mature—age, is that I can say NO. I care a lot less about what others think.

Maybe it’s the good little Catholic girl in me, but in the past I regularly did things out of obligation. I pushed myself beyond what was physically and emotionally healthy. Somethings I took to the extreme. I’m not sure why I felt the compulsive need to have everything in order all the time.

Other times I was caring for loved ones. These people are very dear to me, and I wanted to be there for them. But I went too far, sacrificing my well-being for theirs.

And then there are those I didn’t want to offend even though they weren’t particularly kind to me. In the end, they weren’t any happier after all of my efforts.

So I now have quite a long list of things I refuse to do – unless I change my mind. Here are a few items on my No List:

  • I will not push myself to exhaustion. I’ve finally realized that taking breaks actually allows me to do more.
  • I will not hold on to little things that are best shared with my loved one. If I have something to say, I’m going to say it rather than simply think or feel it.
  • I will not do “fun” things if they are not fun for me.
  • I will not wear painful shoes no matter how cute they are.
  • I will not eat junk food – too often.
  • I will not go barelegged if I think my legs look better in hose.
  • But then I will not wear hose if it’s too hot, no matter how I look.
  • I will not pass up play time with family and friends.
  • I will not ever intentionally hurt anyone.
  • I will not look back with regret. I did what I thought was best at the time. I can only go forward.
  • I will not spend any time I absolutely do not have to with hurtful, petty people.
  • I will not hang on to past hurts.
  • I will not pass an opportunity to tell people how much I love and appreciate them.
  • I will not run unless my or my grandchildren’s lives depend on it. I just don’t like to run.
  • I will not pass on emails that say something bad will happen if I don’t.
  • I refuse to have cancer. I’m not doing it.
  • I will not breeze by my blessings without recognizing and giving thanks for them.

Now why don’t you make a list of your own? It’s quite liberating. Please share. I’d love to hear what’s on your list.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle


Gotta Have It Sunday, Jul 19 2015 

How long can you go without using your phone, drinking alcohol, smoking anything, or popping pills inappropriately? If you can’t last a day, a week, or more without an activity or substance, you may be addicted.

Addiction is a behavior that interferes with ordinary life responsibilities such as work, relationships, or health. It can be consumption of alcohol, nicotine, any illegal substance, or the inappropriate use of prescription or over-the-counter drugs, as well as physical activities such as sex, gambling, or shopping.

Addiction results in an inability to limit use of a substance or activity. Attempts to do so produces symptoms of withdrawal, such as irritability, anxiety, shakes, or nausea.

Addiction can result in a tolerance to a substance, an overreaction by the brain, or compulsion, usually due to emotional stress. It is not based on pleasure or has anything to do with morality or character.

Cell phones can be the road to several addictions. It is an extraordinary tool, but as so many good things, the more they offer, the more they can get us into trouble. Not only is addiction to our cell phones rapidly growing, they can promote other addictions such as texting, impulse buying, and gaming and gambling.

When an addiction takes hold, it owns us. Relationships, work, and our mental, physical, and emotional health suffers. Nor does it make us feel good about ourselves as it induces feelings of shame, guilt, a sense of hopelessness, and feelings of failure.

If a loved one asks you to eliminate the use of something, it’s likely they identify a problem you cannot see. Please call a hotline in your area. You are so much more than that substance or activity.

(Information from Psychology Today)

©2015, Mary K. Doyle



Another Door Opens Tuesday, Jul 14 2015 

The saying is that when one door closes, another opens. This belief is biblical as well. We simply have to ask. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened (Matthew 7:8).

That “perfect” job we recently were laid off from, the devoted pet that passed away, or the lengthy relationship that ended will always hold a place in our heart. Nothing can replace something that was meaningful to us. And some losses are incomparably greater than others. Their absence can be excruciatingly painful. The fact is that they once were ours, gifts to be thankful for and appreciated forever.

We can hold onto the hope that the future offers us treasures that will be beautiful in another way. Often it is something we never could imagine.

Think carefully about what you desire. Keep positive and confident. And don’t forget to do that knocking and asking.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

In a Different Time Saturday, Jun 27 2015 


IMG_0652 - Copy

One of my life’s blessings was to meet a group of friends in High School that are as dear to me today as they were then. Mary Ellen, Sally, and Susie are intelligent, witty, courageous, and compassionate women who’ve stood strong with me through thick and thin.

I recently came across a book, If for Girls, written by Jean Kyler McManus and Illustrated by Liselotte Malnar, that these friends gave me on my sixteenth birthday. It’s a sweet, palm-sized book with delicate pastel drawings and text in cursive.

It’s written in verse with each page beginning with “If you.” The book begins:

If you can live each day

with the assurance

That “A girl” is something

wonderful to be


If you can find a way

to meet your problems

with courage and with

true maturity

The book goes on by suggesting “girls” reject vulgar style and what is worthless, guard one’s principles, and not complain. It encourages standing up for what’s right, comforting those in need, and making firm decisions. It concludes:

If you can practice all the

Arts of living

With real integrity

You’re bound to be a

Happy person, always

And the lovely woman you were meant to be

I’m not sure how many teens today would encourage their friends to live such principles. I’m fortunate my friends did and have followed their own guidance. They truly are the lovely women they were meant to be.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

Nutritious Whole Grains Sunday, Jun 21 2015 

Did you know that corn is a whole grain? Have you ever tried amaranth?

Whole grains are often recommended for a healthy diet, including the one I posted about in regards to lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. But in order to eat the recommended three servings a day, we need to know what qualifies as a whole grain food.

Food made from whole grain, whether it is cracked, crushed, rolled, or cooked, contain the entire grain seed in its original proportions. It contains the bran, germ, and endosperm.

In the United States, if an ingredient label says whole wheat or whole wheat flour, we can be assured that it contains the whole grain. However, in Canada if the words “whole grain” are not included in the label the wheat may be only 95% whole grain.

The most common whole grains include: amaranth, barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, rice, rye, sorghum, teff, triticale, wheat, and wild rice. Amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat do not belong in the Poaceae botanical family as the others do, but are considered “pseudo-grains” because they have the same nutritional profile.

Amaranth was a staple of the Aztec culture until Cortez threatened to put to death anyone who grew it in an attempt to destroy the entire civilization. The grain has a peppery taste and high level of protein and an amino acid called lysine that is negligible in other grains.

Barley is one of the oldest cultivated grains. Its tough hull is difficult to remove without losing some of the bran but lightly pearled barley is still high in fiber.

Buckwheat isn’t really a grain. It’s actually botanically related to rhubarb. Buckwheat grows well on rocky hillsides.

Bulgur is the result of wheat kernels that are boiled, dried, cracked, and sorted by size. It is high in nutrition and cooks in only 10 minutes.

Corn has the highest level of antioxidants of any grain or vegetable. Most of the corn grown in the U.S. is fed to cattle but also commonly found in foods for human consumption. When corn is combined with beans, the combination of amino acids raises the protein value.

Millet includes several small, related grains commonly consumed in India, China, South America, Russia, and the Himalayas. It’s found in variations of white, gray, yellow, and red and is high in protein and antioxidants. Millet is gluten-free and used in flatbreads, side dishes, deserts and even alcoholic beverages.

Oats contain a fiber called beta-glucan that is effective in lowering cholesterol and has a unique antioxidant that helps protect blood vessels. The more oats are steamed and flattened, the quicker it cooks.

Quinoa, pronounced keen-wah, is botanically related to Swiss chard and beets. It can be found in a light color as well as red, purple, and black. Quinoa should be rinsed before cooking to remove the bitter naturally occurring residue of saponins. It is a complete protein containing all the essential amino acids.

Rice can be found in white, brown, black, purple, and red. It’s one of the most easily digested grains and is gluten-free. Converted rice has added B vitamins making it healthier than white but still lacks the nutrients found in brown and other varieties.

Rye is high in fiber producing a feeling of fullness. To lower glycemic index, look for whole rye or rye berries on the label.

Sorghum, also called milo, thrives where other crops cannot. Although edible and can be eaten like porridge or ground into flour, most of the U.S. crop is fed to animals, made into wallboard, or used for biodegradable packing materials.

Teff has twice the iron and three times the calcium of other grains. It is the principal source of nutrition for over two-thirds of Ethiopians.

Triticale, pronounced trit-i-KAY-lee, is a hybrid of durum wheat and rye. It is easy to grow organically.

Wheat contains large amounts of gluten, a stretchy protein necessary for bread to rise. Bread wheat is considered hard or soft depending on its protein and gluten content. Wheat has many varieties including einkorn, farro/emmer, freekeh, kamut®Khorasan, and spelt.

Wild Rice really is a seed of an aquatic grass rather than a rice. It was originally grown by indigenous tribes around the Great Lakes. Because of its high price and strong flavor it’s usually blended with other rices or grains. Wild rice has twice the protein and fiber of brown rice but less iron and calcium.

(Information from this post was taken from the WholeGrainsCouncil.org. Go to their site for more details.)


©2015, Mary K. Doyle

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