Truth Be Known Friday, Jan 24 2014 

In the presence of young children you hear some interesting stories. I worked in preschool classrooms for a number of years as an assistant and then as the lead teacher. It wasn’t unusual to learn from the little angels what happened at home the previous evening, some of which was best not repeated.

Most often, I informed parents of what their child told me. I felt they should be aware of what little eyes saw, how it was understood, and that I knew. I also assured them that I realized the story was taken out of context and interpreted by a preschooler.

I keep this in mind when interviewing and speaking with adults as well. We can’t help but taint the information we pass on due to our own personal viewpoints, experiences, prejudices, and knowledge. We make judgments and assumptions before we know all the facts. How often do you hear people comment on the actions of celebrities as if they know the whole story from the snippet presented on the news?

The “truth” is often buried in the midst of random comments, observations, and rumors. The saying made famous by Edgar Allen Poe, “Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear,” reminds us to take lightly what is offered as fact. Even when an entire community speaks something as truth, it is not necessarily so.

Early in my journalism career a respected editor encouraged me to use credible sources and real voices in telling a story. I continue this practice when verifying facts even for these short blog postings. For example, in some of the past posts written on medical topics I searched sources such as the American Medical Association, Mayo Clinic, American Pediatrics, and Alzheimer’s Association for information. I also look for “experts” in the field, people with first-hand experience.

And whether interviewing sources for an in-depth piece or casually chatting with an individual, I consider the person’s credibility. Are they stable individuals really in a position to know what they are talking about? Are they so close to someone or something that they do not recognize potential problems or flaws? Are they jealous or envious of the person we are speaking about?

Determining the absolute truth may be impossible, but if it is important for us to know, we have to verify the facts to our best ability, assess the credibility of our sources, and make our best unbiased judgment. Anything other than that is pointless.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

New Children’s Book Friday, Dec 6 2013 

My favorite stories to read when I was a child were about the saints. The BVM sisters who taught me tried to encourage me to read other books, but if there was a book about a saint I hadn’t read, I was drawn to it. The saints were real people with real life problems who took the high road, who resolved their life issues in a loving, faithful way. I wanted to know what their challenges were and how they overcame them.

I still enjoy reading biographies and writing about dynamic, positive people. I write a blog (saint-theodora.com) on Saint Theodora, also known as Mother Theodore Guerin, and I wrote a book about how to follow her example, Seven Principles of Sainthood.

Now I also have a children’s book about her, Saint Theodora and Her Promise to God. The Story of Mother Theodore Guerin. Illustrated by Phil Veikan, this new book tells the life of this saint and how she identified God’s calling for her.

I’m interested in Saint Theodora for several reasons. This woman lived and worked in the Midwest. She founded elementary schools across Illinois and Indiana in the mid-1800s. She also founded the religious order, the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana and a school for the higher education of women, which is now Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, the school where I received my Master’s degree. I also attended the canonization of Saint Theodora by Pope Benedict in 2006. And let me tell you, it’s pretty exciting to be in Saint Peter’s Square with hundreds of thousands of people and hear someone you admire being named a saint.

I want to tell the world about Saint Theodora because she was so – real. She experienced some tremendous challenges. When she was 15 years-old, her father was murdered, which prompted her mother to have a nervous breakdown. As a young teenager Saint Theodora was left to care for her mother and sister.

And Saint Theodora had her own health issues to endure. She had a terrible illness, probably smallpox, when she first entered the convent. The “cure” damaged her intestines and left her in fragile health and unable to eat solid food the rest of her life. She experienced long periods of time when she was bedridden.

In spite of her physical fragility, she remained spiritually strong. She leaned on God and took on some major undertakings. She journeyed from France across the Atlantic and the U.S. to the wilderness of 1800s Indiana to promote faith and education. There, she endured drastic fluctuations of weather and nature, difficult and unsupportive superiors, and prejudice. She met her challenges head on, trusting that when you follow God’s call you are well supported.

The children’s book, Saint Theodora and Her Promise to God. The Story of Mother Theodore Guerin tells some of this story in a light, entertaining way. Published by the Sisters of Providence, the hardcover book is 34 pages long, and lists for $16.99 on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Saint-Theodora-Her-Promise-God/dp/0989739708/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386348419&sr=1-1&keywords=saint+theodora)

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Mentoring Fathers Monday, Jun 17 2013 

A belated Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers, step-fathers, godfathers, grandfathers and all those who provide a paternal influence to someone.

You may have noted that mentoring is an area in which I believe has significant impact. My first book was on the topic, and I write about it often because I know the difference it makes in someone’s life. Parents are especially important as mentors. As I wrote in Mentoring Heroes,

“As parents we have the first opportunity and the first responsibility to mentor our children. We are the ones on which our children count to answer questions based on our own experiences and knowledge or to link them with the resource or person that can help them. Through our words and actions we teach our children about life issues, values, unconditional and non-judgmental love, faith, and compassion. We also teach them about the mentoring relationship and the benefits of learning from people wiser and more experienced than ourselves (69-70).

Fathers offer a different type of mentoring than mothers, so are equally important in this role. Several women interviewed in Mentoring Heroes described how their fathers helped them to feel confident enough to pursue careers in industries less typical for women, such as plumbing, the sciences, and manufacturing. Many of their fathers took them to work with them in these environments, exposing them to possibilities they may not otherwise have had.

Whatever line of work or interests you may have, sharing your experiences with your children widens their scope. Even if they don’t wish to follow your interests, they gain an understanding in areas they may not have ventured. They also learn about teamwork and the value of each member, respect for others and work, and how to strive for their goals.

I applaud the men who reach out to mentor the young ones in their lives and encourage those who don’t to do so. You have the ability to impact someone in a way no one else can and invest in their future, which is the future of the world.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Accountability for Success Tuesday, Jun 11 2013 

Building a profitable business appears more challenging today but taking a different approach may turn all of that around.

Originally published in 1994, The Oz Principle by Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman continues to make a valid point that is useful personally as well as professionally. The premise is that businesses are not successful because we as individuals and organizations are not accountable. We don’t recognize and take responsibility for our shortcomings and failures.

Instead, we look outside of ourselves at all the challenges and obstacles. We blame the economy, unproductive employees, vendors, the government – basically anyone and anything other than ourselves for the decline.

According to the authors, this  woe-is-me mentality is unproductive and deems ourselves as victims. It focuses on what difficult things are happening to us, how impossible the situation is. We see ourselves as trapped, stifled, and unable to succeed. We then are unable to make the necessary changes for success.

On the other hand, if we honestly assess the situation and take responsibility for our decisions, actions, or non-actions we can rectify the problems and move into a more positive position. The questions would then be, what could I have done differently? What can I do now? And then we need to take action.

Yes, this means that we have to be accountable for our mistakes but we no longer are victims. When every employee is allowed and encouraged to take ownership and is involved, the success of the organization and every employee is inevitable.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Hats Off to the Grads Friday, May 10 2013 

Congratulations to all the college students graduating this month. Whether you progressed from high school right through college, or took the long road as I did (18 years from the start of an Associate’s Degree to graduation for my Masters Degree), the completion of a degree program indicates your determination to march on and follow through tremendous challenges.

College demands a significant investment of time, energy, and money. Class after class, we rack our brains to understand and retain mountains of information while maintaining an already full work and daily life schedule. We work on projects with peers who do not contribute their fair share. We endure boring lessons and professors. And we leave with a student debt that takes decades to repay.

So why do we do it? Why are so many middle-aged adults joining younger generations in pursuit of a degree? Because education is never wasted. It becomes enmeshed in our daily thought process, our point of reference. A college education is an investment in our personal-development, our future, and our family.

It opens doors to career opportunities and increases job satisfaction and earning potential. And believe it or not, a college degree lowers blood pressure and the risk of developing colorectal, prostate, lung and breast cancer, according to a study published in the Journal of National Cancer Institute.

So walk proudly, graduates. You worked hard. Congratulations and best wishes for a very bright future.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Teaching Respect Monday, Apr 15 2013 

Another beautiful young woman committed suicide after being bullied. Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old high school student from Halifax, Nova Scotia, recently was taken off of life support after hanging herself. Rehtaeh allegedly was gang-raped in November of 2011. A photo said to be taken during the attack was circulated among her fellow students, who then bullied her for more than a year. Rehtaeh was so distraught from the rape and continuous bullying, she sought relief in her death.

There are so many parts of this story that saddens me. I’m so very sad for beautiful Rehtaeh and her grieving family. I’m also sad and disturbed for the group of peers who assaulted her repeatedly in one way or another. And I’m disheartened over the fact that this is not an event that hasn’t happened before.

What is wrong with a society of adolescents who can be so cruel? Aren’t the young supposed to be innocent and optimistic? What are we doing, or not doing, as parents, teachers, and mentors to raise such a group of young people?

More than twenty years ago I worked with a detective on a series of stories on self-defense for the Chicago Tribune. The detective asked me if women, as mothers, couldn’t instill a greater level of respect in their sons for women. He felt most boys did not respect their mothers, much less other women.

I do think the detective has a point. We want our children to feel special, loved, and powerful. But are we doing enough to teach them to treat us, as well as others, with the same care and compassion?

How is it that so many young people could torment one young woman? Where is the respect and consideration due another human being?

This issue needs urgent attention. Our children are our future. We are their role models and mentors. It is our responsibility to guide the adults of tomorrow.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Business Cards Monday, Mar 18 2013 

Business Cards

Making it easy for people to do what you want them to do is a secret to success. Business cards are one such way of achieving this. If you want someone to do business with you, put your contact information in their hands. Allow them to keep you in mind when they need your services.

Business cards are simple networking tools that need only contain your name, phone number, email address, and website address, if you have one. I also include a list of my books and blogs on the back of my card.

Business Card.Back

Card design should reflect your business. If you work in the arts and entertainment fields you may want a burst of color or design but traditional business should be professional and uncluttered. Again, the point is having information that is clear and easy to read.

The practice of exchanging cards began in France in the early 1800s and quickly spread through Europe. Victorian cards were simple, but lovely. Most were handwritten and designed with only a person’s name and an artistic touch. They were known as calling cards because they were passed on with the desire to call on someone in the near future and left on a silver plate in an entry if the person to be called upon was not home.

As we move towards a “paperless” society, today’s type of cards are phasing out to some extent. Some people prefer to transmit data directly into another person’s phone eliminating the waste and clutter of the cards.

There is a point to this but the tangible reminder that the card serves and the ability to visibly see your name continues to be valuable. When left on a desk or posted on the refrigerator the handy number is the one we call.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Papal Relevance Thursday, Feb 28 2013 

DSCN0928

Some events are so unusual that they are recorded in the history of humankind. We are experiencing such a moment right now.

Pope emeritus, His Holiness Benedict XVI’s resignation shocked the Catholic community. Popes are elected to serve until death. Papal resignations are so rare that only five are documented in the history of the Catholic Church.

This resignation is not only important to the Catholic Church but also to the world at large because the pope is a world leader. Approximately one-third of the world population is Christian and more than half of all Christians are Catholic. That means that a current pope shepherds more than a billion followers.

His Holiness is a brilliant man and the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. He advised Pope John Paul on doctrinal issues. His literary works guide not only members of the Church but also her leaders. No doubt His Holiness fully understands the ramifications and precedence he sets and believes his decision is in the best interest of the whole Church.

News coverage will continue with this story as a new pope is elected. Most popes were of European or Middle Eastern descent but we have a few American contenders. In the remote chance that one should be elected, we will once again be making history.

For up-to-date and accurate information, go to the Vatican website at: http://www.news.va/en

©2013 Mary K. Doyle

Inauguration and Presidential Trivia Monday, Jan 21 2013 

DSCN0611

Congratulations to President Barak Obama on his second inauguration to the presidency of the United States. After a lively election process, he was reelected to serve as our nation’s president.

President Obama used two bibles for his 2013 swearing-in ceremony – the one used by President Abraham Lincoln at his inauguration and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “traveling” bible.

As the technology has evolved, so has the publication of each inauguration. President Obama’s inauguration’s was transmitted via multiple forms of media; James Polk’s reported by telegraph in 1845; James Buchannan’s photographed in 1857; William McKinley’s documented via motion picture in 1897; Harry Truman’s coverage was televised to the few households that had televisions in 1949; and Bill Clinton’s streamed live across the Internet in 1997.

Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest president to be sworn in after the death of William McKinley. He was 42. John F. Kennedy was the youngest elected president to be formally inaugurated at the age of 43. Ronald Reagan was the oldest at 69 and the oldest to leave office at the age of 77.

Abraham Lincoln was the tallest and James Madison the shortest. Madison weighed only 100 pounds. William Howard Taft was the heaviest weighing in over 300 pounds.

Blood lines ran in several pairs of presidents. John Adams and John Quincy Adams were father and son as well as George H. Bush and George W. Bush. William H. Harrison and Benjamin Harrison were grandfather and grandson. James Madison and Zachary Taylor were second cousins. And Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt were fifth cousins.

Many of our recent presidents are/were left-handed including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George Bush, Ronald Reagan (who was ambidextrous), Gerald Ford, and Harry S. Truman.

President Obama is the 44th president of the United States. However, known to few Americans, there were other presidents before George Washington who held office in a limited way. They led the Congress of the Confederation under the Articles of Confederation as Presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled. The Articles of Confederation was an agreement among the thirteen founding states that established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states.

God bless our president and our country.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Thank You for Serving Monday, Nov 12 2012 

Only a handful of fond memories of my grandfather, John (Jack) Joseph Doyle, who passed away in 1960, remain, but I would love to have known him better. From the stories I heard and the number of blurred photo copies of news clippings, letters, and documents that I have, it’s evident that he was a fascinating man.

According to these undated news clips, my grandfather was a “well-known” Chicago  vaudeville and traveling show comedian before and after his military service. He was injured in France in 1917 and returned to the veterans’ hospital on several occasions afterwards due to his injuries. He later trained in the “new” practice of physiotherapy. Although he lost his business during the Depression, he continued to be known as Doc Doyle until his death.

I’ve often wondered if my grandfather’s war injuries (and smoking) prompted his early death at the age of 53. War leaves its mental, physical, and emotional stamp on all who serve and the friends and families who support them.

World War I, the war in which my grandfather served, was known as the “war to end all wars.” If only that label was true. Too many American men and women continued to sacrifice their lifestyles, if not their lives, in the name of keeping peace throughout the world from then until now, and probably will as long as humanity exists.

In honor of the veterans of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11, 1919 as the first “Armistice Day.” The observance of the day changed several times over the years. It became a legal holiday in 1938 and the word “Veterans” replaced “Armistice.” In 1954 a proclamation recognized all American veterans from all wars and conflicts.  Although the official holiday for 2012 was yesterday, government facilities are closed today in observance.

In addition to my grandfather, I personally want to recognize my son-in-law, Steven Lukasiewicz, AOC (AW/SW), U.S. Navy Leading Chief Petty Officer, who currently is serving; and my father, John Doyle (deceased) who also served in the U.S. Navy; my husband, Marshall Brodien, U.S. Army, retired; my brother-in-law, Parke Brewer, Master Sergeant U.S. Army Reserves, retired after 26 years of service; my brother, Jimmy Doyle, U.S. Army Reserves, retired; and countless friends and relatives who also put their lives on the line for our safety.

God bless them, all the other men and women who served or are serving in our military, and the families who support them and carry on alone in their absence.

©Mary K. Doyle

(Photo: John Joseph Doyle, U.S. Navy, WWI)

« Previous PageNext Page »

%d bloggers like this: