Passionate! Tuesday, Sep 27 2016 

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Our passions are the frosting on the cake of life. Mine are evident from my blog posts. The majority are in regards to my family, faith, and writing. I also am passionate about healthy living and Alzheimer’s research and support.A day without at least one of these, is a sad day indeed.

My relationship with God is primary. My family is my greatest joy. And writing allows me to utilize my creativity in a ministry of offering readers credible information, guidance, and hope.

Living and breathing these passions is the fuel that keeps me going. I’ve faced, and am facing, a tremendous amount of challenges in several areas of my life, and I’m keeping afloat because of the blessings of my passions. They give purpose and value to my pain and growth.

Studies repeatedly find that people who have a purpose live longer and healthier. Our passions make us happy, and when we are happy, blood pressure and stress lowers, both of which positively impacts our health tremendously.They give reasons to drag ourselves out of bed. They offer an outlet to express ourselves and make us feel like our lives matter, what we do matters, we matter.

We typically have several passions. But if you are contemplating what yours might be, think about how something makes you feel.Most often, passions are ways in which we share the best of ourselves with others. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who or what means most to you?
  • Do you use your talents and gifts? How so?
  • How do you express your creativity?
  • What do you do for your closest circle of family and friends?
  • What types of goals do you set for yourself?
  • How do you help other people, animals, or our planet?

Making time to be aware of and delving into our passions every day brings joy. However, maintaining balance is essential. Anything we take to an extreme, can develop into an addiction.We are more than one thought or activity.I enjoy a piece of chocolate in the afternoon. But it wouldn’t be a treat if it was the only food I ate.

(Take a look at my other blog, Mary K Doyle Books, and author Facebook page.)

 

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Essential Oil Pendants Wednesday, Sep 7 2016 

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As you’ve read in previous posts, I’m a fan of high quality essential oils. They have so many uses to support health and happiness. I use them for everything from cleaning and air freshening to flavoring water.

One way to benefit from essential oils is by diffusing. Most often this is done with a small appliance that spreads drops of the oil into the air with or without water.

Diffusing is also done by placing a couple of drops of essential oils on cotton balls or a pendant and allowing the oil to penetrate into the air. Pendants made of clay look attractive and work particularly well. They can be made simply or intricately depending on your creativity.

I had fun making some of these pendents for gifts and myself. I kept the rejects-which were many-and hung them in closets, my car, lingerie drawers, the laundry room, and placed them in my handbag and luggage. They also can be worn as a necklace which offers a way to enjoy the fragrance of your choice all day long.

To make them, purchase clay that air dries, string, leather, or ribbon, and beads or stones of your choice. You also might want to look for stampers, but check around your home first for buttons, leaves, jewelry, or other items that can make a deep enough impression into the clay.

Begin by taking a small amount of clay and knead it until soft and pliable. Roll out to the desired thickness. Thinner pendants are easier to wear. Thicker ones are best for larger spaces like closets. Cut into desired shapes. Gently press stampers or objects into clay being careful not to spread the clay. Take a straw, chopstick, small doll rod, or other round object to push through the top of the pendant for a hole for the string.

Loop the string through the hole and then slide the desired beads onto the string. Another option is to glue a magnet on the back and use the pendant for an air freshener on the refrigerator door.

Allow the clay to dry about three days. Then slowly drop essential oils onto the pendant. Be careful not to let the oil run to the back which can mark your clothes or object you place it on.

(See my newly updated website, Mary K Doyle, my posts on Mary K Doyle Books and Saint Theodora/Mother Theodore Guerin and my Facebook author page.)

 

 

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

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

Your Business Your Way Sunday, Apr 3 2016 

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My husband, Marshall, was a born pitchman. He easily could entice customers to happily empty their wallets on the products he showed them. He often said that he loved the challenge of sales because it is a profession that has no limits to your income.

If you enjoy sales and are interested in building your own business, consider joining a movement to bring safe products into the hands of everyone. Become a Beautycounter consultant and your income is only limited by your earning desire. Put in a handful of hours a week for some fun money. Make it your career, and you will earn a very comfortable living on our generous compensation plan. Some of our 11,000 consultants earn as much as 6 figures.

Once customers try our products, they’re hooked. They not only return to replenish the products they use, they’re eager to try others. Beyond the assurance of being among the safest available, these products perform fabulously. Our line is continuously increasing and appropriate for babies to adults. And we have cosmetics for the look you want from everyday to runway.

Beautycounter is a thriving three-year-old company that covers the United States and Canada with a mission to offer exceptional personal care products without known toxins and dangerous chemicals. Believe it or not, this is not the industry norm.We have chosen to ban the use of more than 1,500 ingredients deemed even marginally unsafe.You can see our entire product line and list of ingredients here on our site.

Contact me if you want to have your own business, be a part of an important mission, offer amazing products, and enjoy the camaraderie of a friendly and fun team of peers and mentors. I love this company and am happy to tell you more!

©2016, Mary K Doyle

 

Living Thoughtfully Sunday, Mar 6 2016 

 

The many years of caring for my husband with Alzheimer’s disease has prompted me to remain in the present. I learned a long time ago not to look back at the past with frustration at what no longer can be. I also rarely look ahead with worry. If I’m on track today, tomorrow will be fine.

Nearly a year ago, I had a medical event that has raised my consciousness significantly further. After a series of tests, I was diagnosed with a condition called fibromuscular dysplasia. Because it is at least in my left inner carotid artery and the renal arteries, complications can include high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic kidney failure, aneurysms, dissections, and stroke.

I’m fortunate to be seeing one of the doctors who wrote the paper on FMD for the American Heart Association. He advised I follow a Mediterranean diet, exercise, avoid stress, and be aware of signs of stroke. He said if I have one, I could lose the vision in my left eye and all function on my right side. When I asked what he thought my chances of stroke were, he gave me the vague answer that it may or may not happen.

I’m not sure why I even asked that question. After all, even if he said it was 95% certain that I would have a stroke, why can’t I be the 5% who doesn’t? Again, I’m not going to worry about what might not happen. Today is where I will remain.

The diagnosis and this perspective have led me to live thoughtfully. More often, I take a moment of pause before speaking, acting, or doing. I ask if this is on what or with whom I want to spend my time, money, efforts, talent, and energy. Do I want these words to be my last? Is this a product I’m proud to promote? Are these the people I want to be with until the end?

I’m working to simplify and declutter my life as much as possible. I don’t want to leave behind any messes for my kids to clean up or waste time caring for things that don’t matter to me.

This new approach is actually quite a lovely way to live. It doesn’t eliminate activities I’d rather not do but my attitude has changed. I scrub the bathroom, because I like it clean. I pay the bills to get them off my desk. And any bit of free time, I do what makes me happiest.

I’ve always been grateful for my many blessings. Now, I enjoy them much more.

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

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