Expressing Sympathy Tuesday, Aug 5 2014 

“We have no words to express our sorrow.” Really? There are at least a quarter of a million words in the English language. Did you actually run out of all of them? After a death, we wish to express our sadness and offer a bit of comfort to their close friends and family. We say some silly things because we just don’t know what to say. We don’t know how to make things better. One of the most common sentences in sympathy cards is, “You are in my thoughts and prayers.” If you’ve experienced the death of a loved one, you probably received a stack of notes with this sentence. These, and other common expressions such as, “I’m sorry for your loss” or “I’m sorry for your troubles,” are fine to start with, but you might stop and think for just a moment. Begin by thinking about the person you are writing to and the one who passed away:

  • Can you say something kind about your friend or their deceased loved one?
  • Perhaps you have a fond memory of them that you can share.
  • Can you remark on their outstanding reputation, personality, or generosity?
  • Did the deceased suffer a long illness or die suddenly?
  • Was your friend involved in their care?
  • Can you identify with your friend’s loss?
  • Do you know of a Bible verse, prayer, or poem that is appropriate?

Expressing a thought imperfectly is better than not saying anything at all. Go ahead and use those common phrases if you can’t come up with anything else. But taking one more minute to think before writing or speaking truly can offer a moment of comfort to someone who is grieving.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

Young in the Spirit Thursday, Jun 13 2013 

Young in Sprit cover 4-22-2013 - Copy

Research shows a list of factors that contribute toward longevity and vitality. Genetics, a strong social network, balanced nutrition, exercise, limited stress, optimism, and a sense of humor all contribute.

A solid spiritual foundation also is of key importance. Studies confirm that people with a strong faith can indeed live longer, healthier, and happier lives. Spirituality promotes not only longer living but better living as well, because when the spirit is strong, the mind and body are strengthened as well. We can get through the challenges of aging and caregiving easier when we ride on the wings of faith.

My newest book, Young in the Spirit. Spiritual Strengthening for Seniors and Caregivers, was just released. The book explores some of the ways in which we can build on our faith, especially in our senior years or while caregiving. Topics include, making personal prayers and devotions part of our daily routine, participating in a faith community, serving and caring for seniors, reaching for the Lord in our suffering and loss, and sharing our spiritual story.

I wrote Young in the Spirit because I found books for the general reader on the combination of faith and aging, as well as such a resource for caregivers, to be limited.  The book is short and easy-to-read at only 125 pages but contains a lot to contemplate. It is written from a Christian, specifically Catholic, viewpoint as a caregiver and one who is fast approaching the senior years.

Copies can be ordered from:

©Mary K. Doyle

Longing to Love Monday, May 13 2013 

DSCN8838

Holidays are opportunities to celebrate life with friends and family. They are occasions for us to mark the years with fond memories that help us get through tough days in the future.

Mother’s Day is such an occasion. My children, children-in-law, and grandchildren shower me with love and care, not only on Mother’s Day but always. I can’t imagine my life without them.

But I realize this also is a day that is painful for many. For the women who long for a child and are unable to conceive and carry a baby full term or adopt one, and those who lost a child along the way, Mother’s Day is a sore reminder of unrealized dreams. It’s also difficult for those who those who do not have a loving mother, or who’s recently passed away.

If you are one of those who found the day difficult, I am so sorry for your pain. I prayed a special pray for you on Mother’s Day. Perhaps God knows only you can use that longing to love in other ways the world so desperately needs.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Double Blessing Thursday, Feb 21 2013 

Last week I challenged you to a double adjective elimination. The goal was to see how long we could go without using the words amazing or awesome. How well did you do?

I didn’t last 24 hours.

On Friday, February 15, 2013 my first grandchild was born. Daniel John entered this world at 8 lbs 9 ozs, 21.5 inches long. He is a beautiful boy with a full head of dark hair. The first word I said when I saw him was, “Amazing!”

Daniel John

Daniel John

Only three days later, on Monday, February 18, 2013 my second grandson was born. Tyler Matthew weighed 8 lbs and measured 20 inches long. He has the sweetest little round face and brown hair.

Tyler Matthew

Tyler Matthew

We knew there was a chance our angels would arrive around the same time. My oldest daughter was due on the 8th and my younger daughter was due on the 21st ; but we didn’t expect them to be so close in delivering.

Nor did we know the genders, so when the proud fathers entered the waiting room and announced what they were, we screamed with excitement. It didn’t matter if the babies were boys or girls, yet we were surprised and delighted.

My faith is strong but watching my daughters in labor and waiting to know how those thousands of prayers would be answered–that hopefully all would be well with them and their babies–was very stressful. To experience that twice in such a short time has left me emotional, joyful, and so very grateful.

Holding those babies in my arms is the greatest gift. They are perfect reflections of God’s love. I am so blessed to have incredible children, married to supportive and loving spouses, who together have given me two grandsons in three days.

If that isn’t amazingly awesome, what is?

©2013 Mary K. Doyle

Kindness Needed Monday, Dec 17 2012 

DSCN9894.1

Needed: Smiles, Gentle Words, Acts of Kindness, Hugs, and Prayers.

There was another mass shooting last week. This time was particularly heinous as the gunman took so many young lives. We can’t help but ask why. What is happening? We can speculate, but no one really knows the reason.

What we can do is counter the heartache and evil with acts and thoughts of love. One drop of poison contaminates an entire pond and all who drink from it. The only way to diminish the poison is by dilution. The more water that is added, the less effect the poison will have.

It is the same with evil. One act contaminates the lives of many. The bigger the attack, the greater the ripple. We all feel it, don’t we?

Love dilutes evil. The extent of harm that was inflicted in recent events requires mass doses of love to counter it. The formula varies from 2 to 10 positives times one negative, but one thing is for sure, we need many more positives to counter that negative.

During this hectic time of year we must display more patience, kindness, and forgiveness. We must hold our tempers when cut off in traffic or in the check-out line, smile at the grumpy sales person, show a moment of kindness to strangers, and even more difficult, forgive the insensitivity of a loved one. Trying to get them to understand our daily struggles may never happen. Sometimes we just have to let it go.

These little things need to be done repeatedly each day by all of us to offset the damage done by a few. And it is in our best interest to do so. Our future depends on it.

©Mary K. Doyle

A Still, Quiet Moment Monday, Jul 23 2012 

The oppressive heat and recent massacre in Colorado leaves many of us anxious, agitated, and fearful. With one hateful swoop, 12 people were killed and 58 injured. Had James Holmes’ weapon not jammed, dozens more lives could have been lost. And the media reminds us of this continuously.

There’s a saying that it takes one hundred acts of love to counter one hurtful word, look, or action. After such a horrific act of violence, that means we all need to make a conscious effort to think and act lovingly all day, every day.

I find I require quiet time each day to maintain a cool and happy temperament. I do this by beginning my day in prayer. And if I feel stressed later in the day, I steal another moment in a quiet place to breathe slowly and deeply.

No matter how much you think you must do, if you are not healthy mentally and physically you can accomplish little. We can’t be in the midst of activity and noise every waking hour and not feel stressed. A still, silent moment every day is good medicine for the body, mind, and spirit.

Find a peaceful spot in your home, garden, a park, library, or church. Concentrate on your breathing, taking slow, deep breaths. Talk to God, think of someone or something that makes you happy, or repeat a mantra. Or clear your mind of everything.

You will find that meditating like this will leave you refreshed, much like a mini nap. You will feel calmer and happier, and that nature will ripple across those around you.

Namaste.

©Mary K. Doyle

Japanese Gardens Monday, Jul 9 2012 

Japanese garden

haven for serenity

and contemplation

 

Looking for a quiet corner in our noisy world? Japanese gardens are designed to promote peace and offer an environment conducive to meditation.

Like life, gardens may appear simple but rich in beauty and experience. They are miniature replicas of larger landscapes. Sand, water, bridges, and particular plants are carefully placed. Every item is significant and maintained according to tradition.

Japanese gardens were constructed for the pleasure of emperors from as early as 500 and 600 A.D. They originated on the island of Honshu, Japan in connection with the Shinto religion.  Chinese Daoism and Amida Buddhism also influenced early gardens.

Seek public gardens in your area for opportunities to relax and enjoy quiet moments of thought and prayer. A simple online search will point you in the right direction. The Midwest has many from which to choose.

From 1910 to 1939 George and Nelle Fabyan designed and constructed the Fabyan Japanese Garden in Geneva, Illinois seen in these photos. The garden has undergone two extensive renovations since their passing. Now owned by the Forest Preserve District of Kane County, it is operated by the Preservation Partners of Fox Valley. The garden is open from May 1 through October 15th. For hours and directions, see http://www.ppfv.org/fabyan.htm or call 630-377-6424.

©Mary K. Doyle

Speak Up for Justice Saturday, May 12 2012 

In a global society of more than seven billion people you may think that your voice is insignificant. Not so says, Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991. Mr. Gorbachev spoke to an audience of about 600 students, alum, faculty, and supporters at Judson University in Elgin, Illinois on April 21, 2012. In his presentation he said that we all are capable of making positive changes in the world. In fact, he says, we all must speak up and take action on behalf of world peace and justice.

Gorbachev comes from a modest farming background and yet is credited with instigating political and economic reform in his country through perestroika (government restructuring) and glasnost (political openness). His leadership contributed to the end of the Cold War and he received the Nobel Peace prize in 1990.

Gorbachev urged the audience to value and respect freedom and human dignity above all else. He sees consumerism and the limitation of natural resources, especially the short supply of quality drinking water and proper sanitation for millions of people across the globe, as points of contention with the potential of serious repercussions. He also said the elimination of all arms for all nations is imperative and the only means to world peace.

Thousands of people are following Gorbachev’s urge to speak up and take action this week in conjunction with the NATO summit. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, better known as NATO, brings heads of states together in the name of global stability. More than 50 world leaders and their defense and foreign ministers, along with their top advisers,thousands of journalists, and several thousand protesters are gathering in the city of Chicago for the NATO summit on May 20-21, 2012. Summit topics include the unrest in the Middle East. Focus is on Afghanistan in regards to military support as well as ensuring the Alliance’s capabilities to defend its population and strengthening NATO’s partnership.

You can stay informed by following coverage from credible news sources. You also might pray for world peace like your life depends upon it.

©Mary K. Doyle

Bless All Mothers Friday, May 11 2012 

Mothers are blamed for everything that is wrong with their children, no matter how old the “children” may be. We somehow are responsible for all the shortcomings and failings throughout our children’s lives. And we do this to our own mothers as well. We know exactly how they failed us.

But when we become mothers we begin to understand the challenges and circumstances our own mothers faced. I believe that the majority of women love their children and care for them the best they know how. We just have human limitations and little to no preparation for the most important role of our lives.

There are so many things I wish I’d done differently raising my children. But I know that they know I love them totally and unconditionally and always have. That is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children, and it is one I received from both of my parents.

I am abundantly blessed with children in my life. I have three children of my own who I love with my whole heart. I also have two son-in-laws, a daughter-in-law, two step-sons, two step-daughters, two step-daughter-in-laws, two step-son-in-laws, eight step-grandchildren, and four godchildren along with nieces, nephews, and other young people I cherish more with each passing moment. These “children” enrich my life on many levels and I pray and give thanks for them every day.

My prayer this Mother’s Day is that God blesses all women who are mothers or long to be.

I pray:

Lord, 
Bless the new mother.
Bless the everyday mother.
Bless the mother with disabilities
Bless the mother who is incarcerated.
Bless the mother who lost a precious child.
Bless the mother who raises her child alone.
Bless the mother who unknowingly harms her child.
Bless the woman who mothers a child who’s not hers.
Bless the mother who doesn’t know how to love her child.
Bless the mother who neglects her child due to ignorance.
Bless the mother who does without necessities to feed her child.
And Please,
Bless the mother who protects her child from harmful people.
Bless the mother who works long hours to support her child.
Bless the mother who cares for a child with disabilities.
Bless the mother whose child does not love her back.
Bless the mother who cannot hear or see her child.
Bless the mother who is separated from her child.
Bless the woman whose arms ache for a child.
Bless the mother who loves a difficult child.
Bless the mother whose child is ill.
Bless the expectant mother.

Lord, bless us all.

©Mary K. Doyle

What a Pain Monday, Apr 9 2012 

More than 116 million Americans suffer from chronic pain according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. This results in hundreds of billions of dollars in health care costs in addition to lost wages. Although there are a number of remedies, more than half the people questioned say they have little to no control over their pain.

I number among the statistics suffering from chronic pain due to fibromyalgia and arthritis. I cannot tolerate any over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers, so I seek relief from alternative methods. I also do my best to prevent the pain from getting unmanageable by following a few simple practices.

Here is my personal pain prevention and management plan:

  • Prayer. I begin every day in prayer. The quiet, calming effect of meditative prayer is relaxing and encourages deep breathing. Plus, I always have a list of things to talk about with God. Putting my  worries in God’s hands is so much easier than trying to solve everything myself.
  • Warm bath or shower. I shower in the morning. The warm water helps relieve aches and pains and aids flexibility. After a day of strenuous physical activity I will take another one or soak in the tub.
  • Moderate Exercise. My husband and I walk every day. This is beneficial on many levels. We have time alone together without the distractions from home and home office, we get exercise, when outside we absorb sunshine and fresh air, and we enjoy the scenery and people around us. I also attend yoga classes for stretching.
  • Move Throughout the Day. I get stiff if I sit at my desk too long so I drink a lot of water which has the two-fold benefit of keeping me hydrated and forcing me to get up to go to the restroom.
  • Balanced Diet. I eat a healthy range of fruits, vegetables, and proteins and feel best if I don’t overeat, skip meals, or consume fatty foods.
  • Friends and Family. Time with loving, supportive friends and family encourages optimism, laughter, and feeling loved. It also encourages thinking of others rather than myself.
  • Soft Music. In my office I listen to classical or other instrumental music which I find inspirational and relaxing.
  • Avoid Stress. Stress is believed to aggravate all illnesses but avoiding it is a tremendous challenge in this fast-paced world. I try to limit unnecessary commitments and over-scheduling.
  • Sleep. I fall short here often staying up way too late but know I feel better after a good night sleep. If I am in a lot of pain, I have no choice but to give in and get some rest.
  • Massage. Massage relieves the tender spots that acquire due to fibromyalgia. I cannot work them out on my own and am very thankful for my therapists who do.

Here’s wishing you a pain-free, happy day.

©Mary K. Doyle

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