Check out My New Site! Sunday, Aug 28 2016 

Businesses of all sizes today must have a website. If you don’t have an online presence, your existence is limited to those you can reach out and touch, which might be the best option in limited circumstances.

I’ve had a website for nearly as long as most of us have been online. It’s hard for us to remember not being media present but relatively speaking, it isn’t all that long, about 15-20 years.

Thank you to web designer, Brittany Gauss, my site has a fresh new look and enhanced optimization. There were countless hours invested in content and design. I’m happy with it. Take a look for yourself, and please, let me know what you think. marykdoyle.com

 

America’s Poor Thursday, Aug 11 2016 

My sister, Patti, a stock broker and financial adviser, often says, “It’s personal. The daily numbers are mostly irrelevant to investors. If they’re making money, then they feel the market is good. On the other hand, if their losing—not so good.”

Statistics typically tell such a story. Everything depends on how those numbers affect us personally.

The federal poverty level is a measure of income issued every year by the Department of Health and Human services. This level determines eligibility for certain programs and benefits, such as Medicaid and CHIP. The 2016 levels are $11,880 for an individual, $16,020 for a household of two, and $24,300 for a household of 4. In Alaska it is $14,840, $20,020, and $30,380 respectively. And in Hawaii, those numbers sit at $13,670, $18,430, and $27,950. No doubt, millions significantly above those numbers feel the poverty pinch.

The top 1% of the US population owns 43% of the country’s wealth. That leaves 99% with vastly lower income levels.In 2014, 14.8% of Americans were considered living in poverty. (However, the Supplemental Poverty Measure stated it was 15.3%.) That comes out to 1 in 3 Native Americans (two of the US’s poorest counties are located on Native American reservations), more than 1 in 4 African Americans and Hispanic Latinos, and 1 in 10 Asians and non-Hispanics living below the federal poverty line.

Women and children face the brunt of these numbers. If things continue as they are, more than half of all children below the poverty line will live in families headed by women, as two-thirds of the minimum wage earners are women, and one in seven women lives below the poverty line.

Three fourths of the poor are unemployed. The causes and cycle of poverty and unemployment are complex and many. Job shortages (there is only one job available for every 4 unemployed people) and job outsourcing, automation, limited education, illness and disabilities, elderly and children caregiving needs, inadequate transportation, over-spending/credit debt, and lack of mentoring lead the list.

I don’t know about you, but I believe it’s challenging to live at two to three times the federal poverty levels. Rent, utilities, food, insurances, medical, phone, and auto or travel expenses are basic needs yet take a substantial amount to keep afloat.

Food is the one area we can cut when short on funds. That results in a good number of Americans going to bed hungry. This is especially so for those who make more than the level to receive assistance but too low to purchase nutritional foods.

Children comprised 21.1% of this group and seniors 10%. Every county in the US note levels of food insecurities. The states of Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Kentucky are the hungriest. And households with children reported the highest rates overall.

If we have an extra buck, feeding and caring for the poor can be the best karma. Four out of 5 (79%) Americans live in danger of poverty at some point in their life. According to the government website, most Americans will spend at least one year below the poverty line between the ages 25 and 75.

(Have you seen my posts on Mary K Doyle Books and Saint Theodora/Mother Theodore Guerin or my Facebook author page? I also have a Facebook page for each of my books with information specific to that title.)

 

Know GMO Monday, Jul 18 2016 

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The more options science offers us, the more concerns we have in regards to ethics, health, and safety. Those concerns often create emotionally charged camps with opposing viewpoints. Such is the way with GMO products.

GMO, the acronym for Genetically Modified Organisms, and GE, the acronym for Genetically Engineered, refer to living organisms whose genetic material has been manipulated through biotechnology. Genes are isolated and added to cells in a laboratory to produce desired traits in new cells, altering the DNA.

Most developed nations, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, either significantly restrict or ban the production and sale of GMOs. They consider them to be unsafe.

But, according to the FDA, GMO/GE foods are as safe as non-GMO since all must meet the same food safety requirements. The FDA also states that the practices of selective breeding and cross-breeding have been in existence for thousands of years with the same intent of creating more flavorful crops with higher yield and resistance to insects and diseases.

Foods from GMO plants were first introduced into the U.S. food supply in the 1990s. Today, cotton, corn, and soybeans are the most common GMO crops. In fact, 93% of all soybeans, and 88% of all corn planted, are from GMO seeds. Other major GMO crops include potatoes, squash, apples, and papayas.

Anti-GMO activists, who refer to these crops as “Frankenfoods,” argue that GMOs may cause environmental damage and health concerns. The non-profit organization, The Non-GMO Project, describes GMOs as living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated through genetic engineering creating “unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial, and viral genes that do not occur in nature.” In addition, they say that contrary to public belief, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.

Instead, The Non-GMO Project claims that there is evidence that GMOs do result in health problems, environmental damage, and violation of farmer’s and consumers’ rights. And there is great concern that  GMOs are engineered for herbicide tolerance. This results in increased use of toxic herbicides like Roundup, and the emergence of super weeds and bugs which require even more toxic poisons to extinguish them.

Since as much as 80% of conventionally processed foods contain GMOs, The Non-GMO project advises reading labels carefully. They offer the example of raisins that may be packed with a small quantity of oil which could present a high-GMO risk.

However, the ability for consumers to clearly identify products containing GMO ingredients is another dimension of the argument as companies are not required to disclose this information on labels (except in Vermont). A bill that recently passed will allow consumers access to this knowledge through some type of hidden labeling such as a “QR-code,” but this won’t happen for several years.

(The FDA states that GE/Genetically Engineered is the more accurate term. I use GMO in this post because it is more commonly used.)

(Have you seen my posts on Mary K Doyle Books and Saint Theodora/Mother Theodore Guerin or my Facebook author page? I also have a Facebook page for each of my books with information specific to that title.)

Everything Counts Saturday, Jun 25 2016 

Back in the 1980s I wrote a newspaper feature article on a cancer wellness center. One of the survivors said something that made so much sense, it stuck with me. She said that there wasn’t one reason why she developed cancer and so there wasn’t one practice needed to cure her. In addition to traditional surgery and chemotherapy, she also improved her diet, reduced stress, prayed more, and increased exercise, among other things.

After recently viewing the nine episodes of The Truth About Cancer, I was reminded of this interview. I believe the words of wisdom I was told 30 years ago still holds true and can be applied to most situations.

Whether we look at our financial state, level of crime in a city, world hunger, political unrest, obesity, or just about any health condition, most likely several issues contributed toward it, and therefore, more than one remedy is needed for a complete solution. One dollar won’t get us out of debt. But every dollar earned and saved eventually does. From the afternoon drive-through coffee to vacations beyond our budget, we can cut back and/or work an extra part-time job.

There’s always something we can do to participate in solving even the most dire situation. If we break it down, and honestly consider how we contributed toward the decline, as well as how we can bring about improvement, things do change.

(Like my author Facebook page to see more posts like this)

Dad’s Words of Wisdom Sunday, Jun 19 2016 

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My dad and I were close. He was easy to talk with, a good listener, avid reader, and my mentor. He taught me how to think for myself, make solid decisions, and stand strong in adversity. He was a powerfully faithful man and inspired me to pray meaningfully.

What I’m left with in his absence are his words of wisdom. Here are some of the sayings Dad repeated that still ring in my memory:

  • On health based on his work in the Navy medical corp: “When unhealthy, check the mouth.”
  • On faith: “Pray in the good times as well as bad.”
  • On understanding a foolish person: “When they said brains, he thought they said trains and asked for a big empty one.”
  • On the benefits of trade school: “Many-a-good bricklayer’s been ruined with a college education.”
  • On conserving energy: “Close the door! I’m not heating all of Oak Park!”
  • On being happy: “Tell yourself you’re happy, and you will be.”
  • On learning discipline and loyalty: “Everyone should serve a tour in the military.”
  • On medical intervention for his brain tumor: “No thank you. I’m not letting anyone make a zucchini out of me.”
  • On patience: “Someday that stone will come out of your shoe nice and easy.”
  • On wealth: “My brother has more money, but I am rich in the love of family.”

(Have you seen my posts on my blogs Mary K Doyle Books and Saint Theodora/Mother Theodore Guerin or my Facebook author page?

 

We Know Better Wednesday, Jun 1 2016 

When I was a child, my family lived in Chicago. My parents sent us to Catholic school because they wanted me and my siblings to not only receive a better education but also a foundation of faith. This created a tremendous financial burden for my parents, but the gift was an investment in us that I’ve valued my whole life.

Between my parents and the nuns at Our Lady of Angels church and school, we formed a relationship with the Lord as well as a sense of ethics. We learned to be morally accountable. We were taught how to discern right from wrong and a responsibility to care for our fellow human beings. We developed character rooted in honesty and integrity.

Integrity is defined as the firm adherence to a code of especially moral values. Unfortunately, the lack of integrity is evident world-wide and in every facet of society.

I do believe that the majority of people are good, hard working, and compassionate. However, the percentage of those who are not wreak havoc on the multitudes. They cause great pain to the rest of us. Unfaithful spouses, selfish siblings, disrespectful neighbors, Internet thievery, and sabotage in the workplace is evident everywhere.

I know way-too-many people dealing with the effects of these issues.Someone they should have been able to trust stole their money, pride, position, security, or love. They caused hardship on multi-levels to the person they hurt and all those around that person.

Come on people. The world changes as we change. Take a hard look at yourself and note where you can do better—and then do just that. Become your best self. Lead by example.We all know right from wrong. Let’s practice what we know in our heart to be the right thing to do.

(See my author Facebook author page for posts on my books and everyday life.)

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

The Essence of Nature Saturday, May 14 2016 

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Lavender for sleep. Peppermint to keep alert while driving. Tea Tree Oil to disinfect. I’ve used essential oils since the early 70s, but now they are my go-to-source for nearly every need.

Young Living’s Purification eliminates odors in the trash can. Thieves cleans and disinfects counter tops. Lavender soothes burns. Peppermint keeps ants away. And the lovely fragrance of diffusing jasmine makes me happy.

Pure essential oils are concentrated compounds that have been pressed or distilled from plants. They do not have a fatty or oily component. They are called “essential” because they carry the essence of the plant or plant part they are made from.

Essential oils can be diffused, and some used directly on the skin or even ingested, if they are of high quality.

I was drawn to essential oils more recently because I sought a more natural pain remedy. I’m allergic to most prescription and over-the-counter ones. I also am trying to eliminate as many chemicals as possible. Essential oils have offered me many options for all of this.

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

(Have you seen my posts on Mary K Doyle Books or my author Facebook page?)

Time for Lunch? Monday, May 2 2016 

In a perfect world, there’d be no laundry. And believe it or not, it may be the way of our, albeit, distant future.

As reported in the journal, Advanced Materials Inerfaces, researchers in Australia have discovered a way to embed minute flecks of silver and copper within cotton fabric. When exposed to light, the metal particles, called nanostructures, release bursts of energy that degrade organic matter on the fabric in about six minutes. The particles are invisible to the naked eye and don’t change the feel of the fabric. Nor do they rinse off in water.

This process is in the early stages of research. Studies have yet to determine how long it will take stains, such as ketchup and wine, to degrade in natural sunlight and if odors can be eliminated.

I don’t know about you, but I do laundry nearly every day. I’m already planning what will replace all that time I spend sorting, washing, drying, folding, hanging, and storing laundry. Maybe we can finally meet for lunch.

*

(Have you seen my posts on Mary K Doyle Books or my Mary K Doyle Facebook page)

©2016, Mary K Doyle

Want Some Bugs with That Cake? Saturday, Apr 23 2016 

The concept of red velvet cake escapes me. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a fan of the flavors. But what’s wrong with chocolate cake and cream cheese frosting without dying the cake red?

Red velvet cake requires 2-4 tablespoons of red food coloring to transform the brown chocolate to red. And do you know what that red food coloring is made from? Bugs.

Red food colorants are typically made from chocineal, carmine, or carminic acid, all of which are made from crushed carcasses of a South and Central American insect known as the female dactylopious coccus. It takes about 70,000 insects to make one pound of cochineal.

The Aztecs and Mayans produced the red dye for coloring fabrics as far back as the 15th century. It became popularly used in foods in recent times as a safer alternative to those found to be carcinogenic. Today FD&C Red Dye #40 is also used. This dye is not made from insects but rather coal.

Red food coloring is used in most red drinks and candies as well as red velvet cakes. Check the labels to know for sure.And enjoy those tasty treats.

(Follow my posts on Mary K Doye Books and my Facebook author and book pages)

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

 

Sun’s Up Saturday, Apr 16 2016 

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Finally, the sun is shining in the Midwest. We can have any weather in the spring-rain, sleet, snow, chilly, or warm-but these are the days we treasure. It’s in the 70s and everyone is running outside, waving to neighbors, driving with the windows down, and firing up the barbecue.

It’s also the time we get our first sunburn of the year because we forget about sunscreen. Actually, we should be using sunscreen year-round. We can burn even on a cloudy day since UV light passes through clouds.

Studies show that the daily use of sunscreen significantly slows the aging of skin and lowers risk of cancer. Broad-spectrum sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher is our best defense. Anything less only protects from sunburn.

The recommendation is to apply a generous amount of sunscreen to dry skin 30 minutes before going outside. Be sure to cover all exposed areas including the head if hair is thin. Reapply at least every two hours and immediately after swimming.

(Beautycounter Protect SPF 30 All Over Sunscreen uses non-nano zinc oxide, which is an effective and safe natural mineral sun blocker, aloe vera for hydration, and green tea and blood orange extracts for antioxidants. Find yours here on my website.)

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

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