Butterfly Royalty Friday, Jan 17 2020 

Our spirts dance with the flutter of the monarch butterfly. But don’t be fooled by the delicate, free-flying beauty. They are considered to exhibit the most highly evolved migration patterns of any known species of insects and follow a fascinating tag-team of life cycles.  

Repeatedly, four generations of butterflies complete four unique phases. Beginning around February or March, the first generation returns from a warmer climate, locates a mate, and lays eggs on milkweed plants.  The eggs develop into larvae, a form of caterpillars.

Caterpillars are voracious eaters, capable of consuming an entire milkweed leaf in less than five minutes. They gain about 2700 times their original weight, and in the process, excrete an abundant quantity of “frass” (or waste).

A monarch butterfly caterpillar then pupates into a chrysalis. Metamorphous continues into an adult butterfly. Females are distinguished from males by the lack a black spot on an inside surface of its hind wing. This generation as well as the next, lives about six weeks and repeats the process of finding a mate and laying eggs.

As a grand finale, the fourth generation of the monarch butterfly lives considerably longer—six to eight months—and is the only one to migrate to warmer climates. Monarchs fly at speeds ranging between 12 to 25 miles an hour. Similar to migrating birds, they use the advantage of updrafts of warm air to glide as they migrate. This helps preserve energy required for flapping their wings for the 2500-mile flight from the Great Lakes to Central Mexican fir forests.

While in Central Mexico, the incredible monarch butterflies, once again, begin a four generation cycle through their life spans. The last generation makes the return 2500-mile voyage to the Great Lakes the following spring.

Butterflies are an integral element of our landscape. However, the king of all butterflies may not be around for much longer. The population has decreased to levels of near extinction due to colder, wetter winters and hotter drier summers, development, and widespread use of herbicides, all of which has severely reduced their food source. We can help by planting milkweeds and other nectar plants. For more information, go to the Monarch Waystation Program

To learn more about monarch butterflies, see the website, Learn About Nature, and watch here for the monarch butterfly life cycle in action.

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Have you read my latest post, Sacred Water, on my other blog?

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I’m out and about speaking to family caregivers with loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease. Please join me:

1/21/20, 6-7p, The Alzheimer’s Spouse, Arden Courts of West Orange, NJ

1/22/20, 6-7p, Navigating Alzheimer’s, Arden Courts of Whippany, NJ

1/23/20, 6-7p, Navigating Alzheimer’s, Arden Courts of Wayne, NJ

2/12/20, 11-12:30, The Alzheimer’s Spouse, Arden Courts of Largo, FL

3/17/20, 5:30-7, Home-Managed Care, Arden Courts of Avon, CT

3/18/20, 5:30-7, Home-Managed Care, Arden Courts, Farmington, CT

4/2/20, 1-2:30p, Navigating Alzheimer’s, Inter-Faith Chapel, Leisure World, MD

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(Photo Credit: Free Stock Photo of Monarch Butterfly)

On the Healthy, Sunny Side of Life Monday, Jul 8 2019 

IMG_2025Sunshine isn’t a guarantee in the Chicago area. Most of the year is overcast. When skies are clear, it’s like Christmas here. Residents are deliriously happy and out and about soaking in that rare commodity which is so good for our emotional and physical well-being.

Recent studies suggest that a substantial percentage of the global population is deficient in vitamin D. We need sun exposure on bare skin for 5-10 minutes 2-3 times per week to obtain enough sunlight to produce the necessary amount of vitamin D, which is difficult to achieve in many areas. The lack of sunshine, in addition to high pollution and the use of sunscreen which interfere or prevent absorption, are the main reasons.

Deficiency can be avoided by consuming eggs, fish (especially herring, mackerel, salmon, trout, swordfish, and tuna), fish liver oil, and chicken in addition to fortified foods such as cereals, dairy products, and orange juice. There also are an array of capsules and pills on the market from which to choose from, although there is a great variation of product quality to be aware of.

Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin. It’s considered a pro-hormone. Unlike vitamins, which are nutrients that cannot be created by the body, vitamin D can be synthesized when sunlight hits our skin. But vitamin D breaks down quickly making it difficult to attain and retain enough of it especially in winter.

Sunlight is vital to our health for many reasons. Without it, we may experience fatigue, an increase in aches and pains, severe bone or muscle pain, stress fractures, and a waddling gait in addition to asthma in children. The vitamin regulates calcium and phosphorus and helps to maintain proper bone structure.

Research suggests that vitamin D supports lung function and may play a role in the prevention of type 1 and 2 diabetes; hypertension; multiple sclerosis; heart disease; colon, prostate, and breast cancers; rickets; osteoporosis and bone fractures; rheumatoid arthritis; and swine flu in addition to treating plaque-type psoriasis. It also helps to reduce depression, anxiety, and fibromyalgia symptoms, as well as improve cognitive function.

The recommended intake of vitamin D is about 400 IU but does vary by age. Senior adults are sometimes advised to take double that amount. However, don’t go overboard with this or any vitamin. Excessive consumption of D, called D hypervitaminosis, can lead to calcification of bones and hardening of blood vessels, kidney, lungs, and heart. The most common symptoms of over intake are headache, nausea, dry mouth, a metallic taste, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea.

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Do you follow my other blog: Mary K Doyle Books?

Would you like to attend my next presentation? It’s free of charge. I’ll be presenting on “The Alzheimer’s Spouse” on 7/16/19, at Arden Courts of Avon, CT and 7/17/19 at Arden Courts of Farmington, CT. If you are in the area, I’d love to see you there. Together, we can find solutions to some of your concerns.

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

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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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.)

Super Berry Wednesday, Jan 9 2019 

elderberryStep aside blueberries. You have some competition as a super food. The elderberry is rapidly gaining in on you.

My daughter, Erin, has me hooked on elderberry syrup, pills, and tea after reading some credible studies. As a nurse, Erin, seeks the scientific findings such as this one before jumping on the home-remedy bandwagon. Another study reported in The National Center for Biotechnology in 2016 found elderberry supplementation reduces cold duration and symptoms in air-travelers.

Rich in flavonoids, consuming elderberries is thought to offer numerous health benefits. In addition to reducing colds and flu symptoms, elderberries are believed to offer some prevention and reduction in allergies, urinary tract and bladder infections, headaches, constipation, epilepsy, scarlet fever, and measles. The purplish-black berries may also improve digestive health, rheumatism, and sinus, back, leg (sciatica), and nerve pain (neuralgia) in addition to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Some positive effects even have been seen on markers of the heart and blood vessels, as well, with a reduction of the level of fat in the blood and a decrease in cholesterol. Elderberry may even increase insulin secretion and improve blood sugar levels.

The American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) is a deciduous shrub native to areas of the Midwest and Eastern North America. Fragrant white clusters of blossoms bloom each summer. In warmer areas, blossoms may appear throughout the year.

Raw berries should not be eaten as they can cause nausea and vomiting. And the bark, seeds, stems, leaves, and roots are inedible. They contain a cyanide-inducing glycoside, which in large quantities, is toxic.

Elderberries are safe when cooked. They may be consumed in pies, jams, juices, gummiessyrups, and wine. At this time, there is no standard dosage of elderberry to take when suffering from colds or flu but some suggest one tablespoon of syrup extract four times a day. It’s also unknown as to whether or not consuming elderberry products daily is beneficial.

(Did you see my post, “The Magician’s Escape Plan,” on my blog, Mary K Doyle Books?)

Marshall Brodien Day Tuesday, Jul 10 2018 

Moving Along Monday, Apr 30 2018 

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On the first anniversary of moving into my townhome, I’m acutely aware of my blessings. I’m rich in what matters most in life.

The past year has been relatively peaceful. Marshall continues to do well. My children, grandchildren, step-children, and step-grandchildren are healthy. And I’m enjoying meaningful work to pay my bills.

For many years, my stress level was at a peak. The years previous to this move were intense caring for Marshall 24/7 at home for ten years and then transitioning him to managed care, working through a few disturbing issues with relationships, clearing out the house in preparation for sale, the intrusion of showing the home for two years, negotiating the home sale/purchase, packing to move, and then unpacking in my new home all while overseeing Marshall’s care and working. Countless times I believed I was close to the breaking point.

But here I am, and I’m so very grateful! I’m blessed with a home I can manage and afford. I love the space and my kind neighbors.

Marshall, although always on a decline due to Alzheimer’s disease, calls me by name and tells me he loves me every day. Our time together is typically very tender.

I am greatly blessed with an extensive group of family and friends. They are supportive, attentive, and carry me with their love and kindness. My children and grandchildren especially bring me great joy.

And to top it off, I have work opportunities that allow me to use the gifts God gave me in ways that minister and connect with people dear to my heart. I’ve written two books in my new home, one of which is under contract, and beginning a new one. In addition, I’m speaking regularly, predominately on caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s.

When we are traveling through the dark tunnel, the journey can feel endless. The rays that do shine through are difficult to see and the number of steps into the sunshine is so uncertain.

The only way out of that tunnel is to keep going. Most often, we enter the light wiser and stronger.

(Do you follow my posts on Mary K Doyle Books?)

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