Slow Down to Speed Up Friday, Jun 14 2019 

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How often have you wished for a few more hours in a day? Most of us practice a fast-paced regimen of hustling from work to activities and running errands beginning with the moment we rise to the time we go to bed. And yet, at the end of the day, we feel we haven’t accomplished enough. As quickly as we cross off an item from our to-do list, several more spring up. That never-ending cycle is frustrating and exhausting.

But counter to what most Americans may believe, slowing down from time-to-time increases rather than decreases productivity. We have to periodically veer off that highway to end up where we really want to go.

My friend, Sister Chris, says that we’ve lost the understanding of our need to retreat. By engaging in periodic self-assigned time-outs, we are not slacking from our responsibilities but increasing our performance. In general, the removal from the hectic daily schedule most of us engage in can promote clearer thinking, a renewed and more positive outlook, and a healthier way of life which results in better efficiency.

The separation from technology and daily problems during retreats helps to reduce the flight of flight reaction to ongoing events and the accumulation of the stress hormone cortisol. Our hearts become more open which enhances the ability to release sorrow and pain which benefits our overall health.

In addition, the resting brain is essential to self-reflection and stimulating creativity. We gain clarity as answers come in silence improving our decision-making capabilities. An added benefit is that we often make life-long bonds with other participants as like-minded people will be in attendance at these retreats.

And retreats are longer lasting than even a “relaxing” vacation because they are more focused. They also omit the need to schedule activities or seek dining options. Typically set in calm locations, everything is planned for participants.

To find your perfect retreat, consider what you would like to improve. Retreats are targeted toward specific goals. For example, business retreats strive to identify individual talents, increase confidence, and promote team-building. Yoga retreats’ goal is not only to develop better yoga practices but also mindfulness and meditation. Retreats that focus on overall well-being can assist with better eating and exercise habits, work/life balance, and emotional release. Whereas spiritual retreats focus on increasing inner peace and a greater connection with the divine.

(Do you follow my other blog, Mary K Doyle Books?)

 

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Passing Through the Tough Stuff Tuesday, Jun 4 2019 

Today is a painful, fibromyalgia day for me–body aches from head-to-toe and fatigue. The good news is, like most of life’s trials, it will pass.

No one escapes the tough stuff whether it is physical or emotional. However, as my sister, Patti, says, “It’s not what happens to us but what we do about what happens that matters.” We easily can make a difficult situation more trying if we resist or revolt rather than work through it. When we continue to move one step at a time through a troubling situation, we soon find ourselves at the other end of that tunnel.

For me, that means a quiet day at my desk with a positive outlook knowing I soon will see you on the bright side, my friends.

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(Did you see my last post on Mary K Doyle Books: Marian Devotion through Art?)

 

Music Moves Me Wednesday, May 29 2019 

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Lift the soul or spark a party. Music is the beat of life.

Most mornings, I wake to music rather than a screaming alarm. Recently, a song played that caught my breath, “I Giorni for piano, violin, and string by Ludovico Einaudi. The melody is light, playful, and offered a joyful way to start the day. The song  continuously has replayed in my head since.

A world without music would feel one-dimensional. Imagine how flat movies and restaurant dining would be without music. It’s more than background noise. Music plays to our emotions. It creates drama, atmosphere. Yesterday’s tunes revive memories of events and feelings we experienced years ago prompting both happiness and tears. New memories are engraved in our brains paralleling the music played at the time.

Personally, each genre affects me differently. I can go from melancholy to prayerful with the change of a tune. I’m physically moved when music strikes a chord and can’t help but sway or tap.

When writing, I listen to instrumental music, mostly classical, to raise creativity and not interfere with the words dancing in my head. This playlist also works for relaxation. Many of my favorite pieces are by my friend, Andy Mitran such as “Levels of Peace,” “Blooming Canyon,” and one of my favorites, “Dream Time.” Driving requires something more energetic such as Santana’s “Smooth.” I also love the sounds from around the world whether it be Latino, Hawaiian, Spanish guitar, or Middle Eastern.

And that affect of music on me isn’t only man-made. Leaves rustling in the wind, pounding rain, a bubbling brook, baby cooing, or symphony of birds and insects captivate my spirit.

Music abounds around us. Listen closely. Do you hear the beat of life?

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(Have you seen my blog post, the Review Power?)

Mother’s Day Blessings Saturday, May 11 2019 

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I am rich in children. God’s  blessed me with three loving, healthy, beautiful children, a son-in-law, four grandchildren, four Godchildren, four step-children, step-children-in-law, step-grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and others I love like my own. And then there are all those I see in my dream. So often, these children, especially babies, are nestled in my arms while I dream on.

The gift of children is one I give thanks for daily. I know few other women are so blessed and Mothers Day can prompt a range of emotions in them.

For all the mothers who love their children, those who long for a child, and the mothers separated from their children as well as as  the children who have lost their mother or do not have one who loved them, Mothers Day is an emotionally charged occasion. In honor of all mothers and children in all phases of life, here is a prayer I posted in 2012 with a few changes.

Lord,

Bless the tired mom.
Bless the first-time mother.
Bless the mother with disabilities
Bless the mother who’s incarcerated.
Bless the mother who is overwhelmed.
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 is not hers.
Bless the mother who doesn’t know how to love her child.
Bless the mother who does without necessities to feed her child.
And Please, Lord,
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.

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Have you seen my latest post, Memory Keepers, on my other blog?

Answer with Care. Or Not at All Wednesday, May 8 2019 

IMG_3180A trip of a life-time. A family member in trouble. The “IRS” demanding payment. Scams on every level play on victims’ emotions to entrap them into sharing personal date and hard-earned money.

I recently received a phone call that rang for ten minutes straight. Caller ID showed “Name Unavailable” and the phone number of the caller. No doubt, the caller thought harassing me with the ongoing ring would force me to answer.

Instead, I called my carrier on another phone, and they instructed me on how to stop the ringing (press #77 without picking up). I then filed a complaint against the caller. Google notes that number has multiple complaints from consumers who did answer.

We have a few options today to reduce the number of solicitors and scammers. None are sure-proof, but the more caution we take, the last chance we have of being scammed. The number one rule of prevention is not to answer a number we don’t recognize. If the call is truly coming from someone needing to reach us, they can leave a message. And above all, do not give information to anyone we aren’t absolutely certain that we know.

Some carriers, such as Xfinity Voice, offer codes to reject block calls. Their Anonymous Call Rejection is set by following these simple steps

  1. activate  your caller ID
  2. Enter *77
  3. Listen for 3 beeps
  4. Hang up.

In some areas, this code may connect you to law enforcement. (It did not when I used it in the Chicago area.)

It’s also advised to list your phone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry This registry is managed by The Federal Trade Commission and should prevent calls from telemarketers. Telemarketers are prohibited, but not actively prevented, from calling. Nor does this action eliminate calls from political organizations, charities, telephone surveyors, or companies that a consumer has an existing business relationship with. Setup is simple with a few clicks on their website.

No More Robo is another option to prevent computerized telemarketing and political auto-dialing. It is free for landline phone lines but users need to know that this also eliminates automated calls from public-service and emergency announcements. Users should supply an option for text messaging to their cell phones to receive these messages.

Scammers will always find ways around roadblocks, but these options help in the meantime.

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Color Your Mood Friday, Apr 26 2019 

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Do you remember the acronym, Roy G Biv (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet) for the sequence of colors in the rainbow? From powder blue to fire engine red, we all have our color preferences, and those preferences drive our choices from the foods we eat to the cars we drive. We’ll pay more for items that appeal to our senses even though the performance of the product is rarely affected by its color.

Psychologists have found that our color preferences appear to be rooted in personal experiences. We are influenced by reactions of those surrounding us. If we’ve been told we look good in certain colors, we’re more likely to lean toward them. And this results in cultural preferences of the colors we surround ourselves in, as well.

Perhaps these color choices also are a result of how they make us feel. Color consists of light and energy. Every color has a specific frequency and vibration which can affect us emotionally and physically. Not only does light (and therefore color) enter through our eyes, it also can penetrate our skin and may activate hormones causing chemical reactions within the body.

Evidence of color used for healing dates back to at least 2,000 years. Research has found patterns of reactions in people as a result of color. However, it’s important to note that the shades of these colors alter results.

According to studies, in some people, red increases the heart rate. If you want to be creative, work in a purple room. Green often is restful because it is gentle on the retina. Blue is calming and can decrease respiration and lower blood pressure. Yellow may promote positively, but as with orange, it reflects more light which can also lead to irritation as well as hunger.

What’s your favorite color and how does it make you feel?

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(Have you seen my latest post, “Prayers From and to the Communion of Saints,” on my blog Mary K Doyle Books?

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Share at Least Your Excess Tuesday, Apr 2 2019 

How well are you doing with your 2019 resolution to lose weight? Perhaps donating the price of that decadent mid-day mocha late coffee, cookies and cream ice cream, or candy bar might help you reach your goal and a child in need.

Every single day, 18,000 children under the age of five years-old die from hunger and diseases related to poor nutrition (UNICEF). Approximately 165 million children in the world under the age of five are stunted because of chronic malnutrition. And nearly half of the people in the world are hungry some or all of the time.

The U.S. is not immune from hunger. According to the US. Department of Agriculture, 14% of households with over 16 million children can’t provide enough food for its members at some point each year. More than 48 million Americans live below the poverty line resulting in more than 20% of the children in the U.S. at risk for hunger.

What does it say about a society that allows children to suffer or die from hunger? If throwing out excess food is a habit in your home, please consider cutting back spending on food for your household and send that money to your local food bank, Feed My Starving ChildrenNo Kid Hungry, Feeding America or UNICEF

(Have you seen my last post, The Alzheimer’s Spouse, on my blog Mary K Doyle Books?)

Now Appearing in Heaven Saturday, Mar 9 2019 

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We who believe in a loving God and the gift of everlasting life, rejoice in death. In our hearts, we know our loved one is at peace in the midst of the Light. We mourn the passing of one we’d prefer with us in this world but this belief does bring comfort in our loss.

My husband, Marshall Brodien (84) of Geneva, passed away peacefully early morning on March 8, 2019. He was surrounded by family in his last days, and I only left his side to shower (which the rest of the family appreciated.) Most of the week, I held his hand. In his last hours I sat beside him with my head on his pillow, holding both of his hands, and listening to his last breaths.

Hospice educated me on the signs of passing which became increasingly more evident with every minute. As his hands grew colder, I prayed the rosary and spoke to God and to Marshall. His breaths gently faded, he squeezed my hands, and I felt his spirit leave the body.

Twenty five years ago when I first told my mother about Marshall she was concerned about the 20 years age difference between us. I assured my mom that Marshall was a gentleman, and she soon realized his kindness for herself.

Marshall’s public persona meant that he belonged to the public. Loved ones had to share him with fans everywhere we went. His attention often was elsewhere.

However, Marshall made me feel loved every day of our marriage. He called me “My Mary” and “The love of his life.” He didn’t hesitate to publicly say, “I love that girl.” I never doubted I was in his heart and greatly appreciated the joy he brought to me and my children.

Marshall may be best known for creating the Marshall Brodien Magic sets and TV magic cards with his famous tagline, “Magic is easy, once you know the Secret.” He’s also fondly remembered as the magical, wacky character Wizzo on Chicago’s Bozo Show for 26 years. Marshall, aka Wizzo, would wave his stone of Zanzibar and say the magic words, “Do-dee-do-dee-do.”

Marshall’s rich life began in Chicago with his loving mother, Mildred, Father Arthur, and brother, Charles. At the age of eight, a female magician entertained at his school. He soon became hooked and put on his own shows for family and friends. He later became a side-show barker at Riverview Park.

He was drafted into the army in 1957 and commissioned to the Special Services Entertainment Division at Fort Carson, Colorado. He performed more than 700 shows at hospitals, officer clubs, and private parties over his two years in the military.

Marshall continued entertaining by performing magic and stage hypnosis at lounges, clubs, and county fairs as well working as a trade show spokesperson for corporations such as Owens-Corning Fiberglass, Bethlehem Steel, Reynolds Aluminum, and the American Gas Association.

Marshall showed symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease disruptive to daily life since 2004. I cared for him at home for ten years and he lived in managed care for almost another five.

In addition to me, Marshall is survived by his three children, three step-children, nine grandchildren, four step-grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. There also is one more on the way. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Christine, who passed away in 2016, and his brother, Charles.

Donations can be made in his name to Arden Courts of Geneva (2388 Bricher Road, Geneva, IL 60134), Heartland Hospice (1010 Executive Drive, Suite 200, Westmont, IL 60559), or the Alzheimer’s Association (225 Michigan Ave, Fl 17, Chicago, IL 60601).

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Genetics, Not Math Wednesday, Feb 27 2019 

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In November, I posted that I submitted to genetic testing (A Fuller Story of Ourselves). At that time, I was most curious about the health aspect of the testing. Fortunately, results indicated that I was not predisposed to any of the ten diseases tested.

Since then, the ancestry portion has intrigued me. 3/8 German, 3/8 Irish, and 2/8 Italian. That’s how I used to describe myself. I based this status on my grandparents: My maternal grandmother was all German, maternal grandfather all Irish, paternal grandmother all Italian, and paternal grandfather half Irish, half German.

But those proportions weren’t correct after checking out my ancestry with 23andMe. I never considered the genetic roll of the dice when each of my parents contributed a random half of their genetics to me. Nor did I speculate beyond a couple of generations. My mother spent decades researching our family ancestry through the 1800s, so I thought that I knew the whole story.

My 23andMe genetic testing went back to the 1600s, so it takes into consideration the generations prior that migrated and blended long before my grandparents. I’m 99.8% European. In addition to German, Irish, and Italian, I also have traces of Greek and Balkan, Scandinavian, Spanish and Portuguese, .2% Ashkenazi Jewish, undesignated broadly Northwestern European, and undesignated broadly Southern European. (Percentages may change and ancestry may become more specific as the 23andMe data base increases.)

Most surprising was my ancestry compared to my sister, Margaret. I’d expected us to be nearly identical because Margaret and I look most alike out of five siblings. In actuality, we’re only 53.6% genetically identical. Although 23andMe stated that they suspected we were sisters, my son and I are nearly the same proportion at 50% identical.

The proportions of ancestry, and even some of the nationalities between Margaret and me, differed. In addition to the ancestry list, 23andMe offered an interesting picture of the genetic areas tested and where we were completely identical, half identical, and not at all identical.

The more family members participate in testing, the more interesting the picture of our past will be revealed. Perhaps I’m more genetically like one of my other four siblings that I resemble the least.

What are your thoughts on genetic testing?

(Check out posts on my other blog, Mary K Doyle Books, including We Can’t Know for Sure, How Will Our Story End, Sacrificing for God’s Mission.)

Please say, “Alexa, Please…” Monday, Jan 28 2019 

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Inside voices. Mind your manners. At the very least, say “please” and “thank you.”

And then we get an Alexa and shout orders at an inanimate object that immediately follows are commands. No “please” or “thank you” required.

It’s estimated that more than 100 million Amazon’s Alexas have been sold. With a variety of models beginning at about $20, Alexa is affordable and can be used to accomplish tasks and respond to questions or requests such as: “Alexa, set an alarm.” “What is the weather tomorrow?” “What’s in the news?” “Is the pharmacy open?” Or, “Call Donna.”

It also can work with other devices. And, with the help of an adapter, Alexa  can turn on or off anything plugged into an outlet.

My daughters gave me an Alexa for Christmas. After not using it for weeks in the kitchen, I moved it to my bedroom. Perhaps I’ll grow increasingly more dependent on my little companion, but I doubt I’ll ask much of it.  Right now I call on Alexa only to play music and turn on and off a lamp at the other end of the room.

Many are concerned about the device violating our privacy. My concern is that it doesn’t require basic manners. I believe Alexa should not comply without us asking “please” or saying “thank you.” Far too many of us are shouting commands at her. We learn by example, and the example we show our children with Alexa is to demand, not ask, for what we want.

Do you own an Alexa or similar device? What do you think about smart controllers? How do you use it? And do you have any concerns?

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(Check out posts on my other blog including Jesus, I Trust in You, How Do You Know What God Wants?, and The Magician’s Escape Plan.)

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