Socks, Please Santa Thursday, Dec 15 2016 

 

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The snow glitters in the blowing wind. Trees and decks and shrubs and ground are dusted in sparkling white snow. So pure, clean—and deceivingly inviting. The temperatures are frigid today, and so are we the moment we step outside.

It looks like we will have a cold winter this year in the U.S. Midwest and North, so we might think about adding socks to our list for Santa and purchasing a pair or two for someone in a homeless shelter. We’ll all endure the winter so much better if we do.

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Women’s fashions aren’t always thoughtful of what we ladies must endure. Live through a number of seasons and we encounter countless summers and winters when we are dressed for looks but not comfort. I know I’ve had too many summers when I was dressed too warm and too many winters when I could have had a few more yards of fabric on me!

A positive trend this winter season are knee and above socks. They’ve been out of fashion, and difficult to find, for many years. We have them back in full swing right now.

Neutral to an array of fun designs are available. We also have leg warmers again. I tried a pair yesterday, and I was amazed at how much warmer I was without the cold air penetrating my jeans. They were only $7 at Marshall’s, but the cute socks are more in the $15-$20 range.

(Why not check out my website or author Facebook page?)

 

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.)

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?)

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

The Dawn of Spring Saturday, Mar 19 2016 

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Color returning to our baby’s cheeks. The price of gasoline going down. Greenery poking through the dark earth. We search for signs of hope, and the dawn of spring does that in the gentlest ways.

Today marks the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere, its earliest arrival since 1896. The season corresponds with the vernal equinox, the day when day and night are nearly the same. Equinox comes from the Latin aequus and nox, meaning equal night. Earth’s two hemispheres receive the sun’s rays nearly the same amount of time because the tilt of the Earth is zero relative to the Sun. The equinox occurs at the identical moment worldwide regardless of the time on the clock.

Nature responds to the increasing sunlight with birds singing, trees budding, crocus blooming, and temperatures climbing. Resurrection, new beginnings, and life anew. Our spirit is lifted in anticipation of happy, sunny days.

©2016, Mary K Doyle

Statistics and Magician’s Wife Tuesday, Feb 23 2016 

 

Storytelling throughout history was the passing on of the essence of an event. Specific details were not necessary. It was a person’s emotional interpretation of a significant occurrence. The heart of the story was what was important.

These stories would get passed down by word of mouth, so they altered along the way. I recently heard on the science program, Nova, that every time we recall a memory, we edit it. It becomes less and less accurate because our imagination fills in bits and pieces of things that may have happened, and then those imagined additions become part of the memory.

Today, we do more reporting than storytelling. We want specific details—time, dates, and numbers. When I wrote Sunday feature articles for the Chicago Tribune, three things were to be included: real voices, meaningful quotes, and statistics. Stories needed to be about people with real concerns, told in their own words, and backed up with relevant data.

Statics are an important element in substantiating a story. They tell a level of truth in numbers. Although it was my least favorite college class, I do realize its significance from sports and politics to science and demographics. However, in all reality, even those numbers are a matter of interpretation and can be twisted.

WordPress offers a stats page for each of my blogs. It shows the number of views, likes, visitors, and comments for every post and even where those viewers are located. These numbers give me an idea of who is reading my blogs and whether they are of interest to anyone. There is a wide variation of numbers for many reasons including relevancy of content, writing style, and the time and day of posting.

My most viewed post ran back on August 19, 2013. It had 777 views on WordPress plus countless others via Facebook reposting.

For those who might like to re-read it, and those who never saw it, here it is again:Top 10 Ways You Know You Are a Magicians Wife

©2016, Mary K Doyle

One Less Contaminant at a Time Saturday, Jan 16 2016 

DSCN3524The average woman uses at least 12 products a day on herself. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, sunscreen, foundation, blush, eye makeup—the list goes on. More than 10,000 chemicals are used in the cosmetic industry in products such as these, 90% of which the FDA has never assessed for impact on long-term health. In fact, the U.S. has not passed a new law in more than 75 years regulating ingredients used in skincare products and make-up.

According to the FDA website, “It’s against the law for a cosmetic to contain any ingredient that makes a product harmful when consumers use it according to directions on the label, or in the customary or expected way,”

However, they also state, “Under U.S. law, FDA does not have the authority to require cosmetic manufacturers to submit their safety data to FDA, and the burden is on FDA to prove that a particular product or ingredient is harmful when used as intended.”

Nor do companies need to disclose their ingredients. For example, “fragrance” may consist of anything, natural or synthetic.

In other words, “Buyer Beware.”

In contrast, the new company, Beauty Counter, excludes the use of 1,500 questionable or harmful ingredients in their products, 1,400 of which are cosmetic ingredients banned in the European Union but not in the U.S. Beauty Counter has a rigorous screening process to ensure the highest safety level possible. More than 80% of the ingredients in their products are organic, natural, or plant derived. And they believe in transparency, naming all ingredients included in every product.

This new company is continuously monitoring their products and adding new ones for the whole family. They have so much more than just make-up.

As I wrote in the previous post, my goal this year is to eliminate as many toxins in my life as possible. I don’t expect to avoid everything, but even changing a handful of products will reduce the toxins with which I pollute myself and my environment. Not only do I want to eliminate these chemicals in myself, I want to leave behind a safer world for my children and grandchildren. Our planet is toxic enough. I don’t want to contribute to the contamination any further.

For these reasons, I started using Beauty Counter products as a consumer and was so convinced of their purity as well as effectiveness, that I am now a consultant. (See my website at: beautycounter.com/marydoyle-brodien)

You can find more information about Beauty Counter on my website, especially at the very bottom of every page under FAQ. You also may place an order on that site.

If you are interested in ordering products or becoming a consultant and would like to chat about it, please contact me. I’d love to share what I’ve learned about this fabulous company.

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

No Need to Compromise Safety for Beauty Tuesday, Jan 12 2016 

The day I’m on my deathbed, I’ll scare anyone observing me to the other side before me. Without make-up, my face is nearly invisible and I have this crazy hair that dances in every direction if not flat ironed into submission.

I’m one of those women who won’t leave my house without makeup, and I also use lotion from head-to-toe. I’m too vain to show the real me in public. But I do admit that slathering all those chemicals on day-after-day does concern me. I have enough health problems. I don’t need to pollute myself further.

However, there are safer products and ways of checking how yours rate on the safety scale. Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep is an online safety guide for cosmetics and personal care products where you can look up the safety of a product or ingredient. The database provides safety ratings for tens of thousands of personal care products.

Skin Deep lists a hazard rating and a data availability rating for products and ingredients. The hazard score is on a 1-10 scale with 1 being the lowest and 10 the highest hazard. A 1-2 score is believed to have low hazard, 3-6 is moderate, and 7-10 is rated high. The data availability rating reflects how much scientists know about an ingredient’s safety.

If you own a product that is rated high on the hazard list, it’s suggested that you do not dispose of it down the drain. This adds to the growing concern of water pollution. Tossing it in the trash is not ideal but considered a better option.

You can find extensive information on the EWG’s Skin Deep site about products and ingredients. Try it out for yourself. Enter the names of your shampoo, conditioner, make-up, and skin care products into the search bar. You may be quite surprised at what’s in your favorite products.

For safer skin care products, check out Beauty Counter, products that work beautifully without compromising safety.

(Information gathered from EWG’s Skin Deep)

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

What Time Is It? Saturday, Nov 21 2015 

My apologies for the lapse in posting. The last month and a half flew by vacationing with one of my daughters and her family; preparing for two different 75 minute talks, working a booth and presenting at a conference in California; revising one of my books; enjoying time with my son who was in town; and completing all the regular daily work, home, and family activities.

Time is a funny thing, isn’t it? Sometimes it speeds way past us. Other times it crawls slower than a turtle. The clock continuously clicks away at the same speed whether we are lost in a movie or worrying about our teenager out on a Saturday night. It isn’t time but our perception of it that changes with the events that are occurring.

Children perceive  the arrival of Christmas morning as endless, unlike middle-aged adults who feel like we just packed up those decorations. When we consider that a four-year old waited a quarter of their life for Christmas to come again, it’s easier to comprehend their anticipation.

The concept of time has intrigued philosophers since antiquity, although much remains unclear even today. Numerous in-depth studies have been made. Recent ones incorporate psychology, memory, biological functions, environmental changes, circadian rhythm, and the relationship between time as perceived and time as measured in physics.

Time is defined as the measured or measurable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues. It is the period when something occurs. Time is related to the complex experience of change. The succession of events and changes are separated by intervals called duration—such as the duration of a dinner, a walk through the park, or shaking someone’s hand.

Few durations are isolated. Most overlap. For example, we text while eating and listening to the radio.

We have no specific receptor for time, unlike our senses of taste, smell, hearing, and sight. Time perception is subjective. Psychologists believe there is a neurological system associated with sensory pathways governing the perception of time. It utilizes a distributed system in the brain. Since time cannot be directly perceived, it must be constructed.

The perception of time requires attention. New events appear to take longer because we must pay attention to them more intently. Older events are connected to our memory and already processed to some degree. Doesn’t it feel as if the trip going to a destination typically seems longer than the return home?

Attention to time comes with attention to the stream of time-data without losing concentration, which is why those with attention-deficit find it more challenging to gauge time correctly.

Time disorientation is common in people with Alzheimer’s disease. This probably is connected to the inability to concentrate as well as the mounting challenge of reading clues such as the rise and fall of the sun and hands on a clock. The person with Alzheimer’s only knows how it feels to them at the moment, since they increasingly live in the moment. For example, it may feel like we haven’t seen them in weeks when in reality, we just walked out the door. It may feel to them as if they showered moments ago, when they haven’t showered in days.

Metabolic rate also may affect the perception of time. The larger the animal, the slower their metabolic rate, and the quicker their perception of time. Smaller animals metabolize faster resulting in a slower perception of time allowing them to perceive more events in the same time span.

©2015, Mary K Doyle

Real Colors Wednesday, May 6 2015 

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It started innocently with a box of crayons. My two-year old grandsons proudly announced the colors of each one to their Uncle Joey. “Wed. Yeddow. Gween. Boo.” But then they said the word that triggered a lengthy explanation from their artist uncle—“popo.” “Purple is not a color,” he declared.

According to Wikipedia, purple is closer to red, and violet is closer to blue on the traditional color wheel. Although both appear similar, violet is a spectral color. It occupies a place at the end of the spectrum of light (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet) and also has its own wavelength.

On the other hand, purple is a perception. It is a combination of the two spectral colors of red and blue and does not have its own wavelength. There is no pure purple light as there is for orange, also a combination of colors. This is similar to the color white, which also is a blended mixture of many colors.

I know little of color or photography, but perhaps this is why purple does not photograph well. All of the fabrics in the photo here are what I consider to be shades of purple, yet all look different to me in the photo than they do in reality.

Even if artists don’t recognize colors not on the spectrum, the Merriam-Webster dictionary does define purple as a color.  The best part of this acknowledgement for me is that we can continue to hear our little ones say “popo.”

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

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