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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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?)

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

Relief with Essential Oils Monday, Dec 14 2015 

Days like today are typically painful head-to-toe. I have fibromyalgia, and the low air pressure literally weighs heavy on me. I’m sensitive to prescription pain medication and aspirin, and am allergic to anti-inflammatory drugs including Naproxen and Ibuprofen, so I look for alternative ways to deal with the pain. A warm shower and the stretching of yoga and other low-impact exercises are helpful. I’m also getting relief from essential oils.

I mix a few drops of an essential oil called Panaway into a dollop of coconut oil and then massage it into the bottom of my feet and my most painful spots. When used before bedtime, I can sleep comfortably through the night. Without it, on my bad days, the weight of a bed sheet causes pain.

Essential oils are highly-concentrated, distilled or cold-pressed plant products. They are rich in antioxidants and nutrients. They’ve been used for thousands of years for cosmetic purposes, well-being, and food preparation. There are over 200 references to aromatics, incense, and ointments throughout the Bible.

Panaway is a 100% pure, therapeutic-grade essential oil by Young Living. This company uses only unadulterated essential oils. Their distillery is the largest and most technologically advanced in North America. They state that their Seed to Seal® process preserves the integrity and potency of essential oils through every step of the production process.

If you are on prescription medications, or have health problems, check with your doctor before trying any of the oils.

You can visit the Young Living site here.

©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

When the Earth Moves Beneath Us Tuesday, Apr 28 2015 

The people of Nepal are in need of our love and support as reports now state that more than 4,600 are dead and 9,000 injured after the recent series of earthquakes. Nepal is located in the Himalayas surrounded by China and India in South Asia. It ranks among the world’s lowest economically.

Thousands of earthquakes occur every day around the world resulting in 500,000 each year. They can occur anywhere but the majority happens along the rim of the Pacific Ocean called the Ring of Fire because of volcanic activity there as well. Minor earthquakes constantly occur in locations including California, Alaska, El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, Peru, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Azores in Portugal, Turkey, New Zealand, Greece, Italy, India, and Japan. More than 100,000 people die in earthquakes annually.

Earthquakes, also called quakes, temblors, and tremors, are the result of a release of energy in the Earth’s crust that creates seismic waves. Giant rock slabs that make up the Earth’s upper layer collide or slide against each other. When stress is released quickly, it sends massive vibrations called seismic waves hundreds of miles through the rock and up to the surface. Other quakes occur far from fault zones when plates stretch or squeeze. Further destruction results from subsequent smaller temblors, mud slides, fires, floods, and tsunamis.

Magnitude rating is based on the strength and duration of their seismic waves. A rating of 3-5 is considered minor, 5-7 is moderate to strong, 7-8 is major, and 8 or more is great. The April 25 quake in Nepal was rated 7.8.

Construction built to sway rather than break under stress is vital as much of the loss of life during earthquakes is due to collapsing buildings. Emergency planning and education is also important, particularly in areas of frequent occurrences.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

Pumpkin Everything Tuesday, Oct 14 2014 

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Pumpkin biscotti, latte, bread, soup, and even ravioli. This is the season for pumpkin everything. The fruit—yes, botanists consider pumpkins a fruit—play an important role in American fall traditions. Halloween is no more complete without a gutted and carved Jack-O-Lantern than Thanksgiving is without a pumpkin pie.

Some countries, such as New Zealand and Australia, use the term pumpkin to refer to the broad category of winter squash but here it typically means the large orange, round or oblong fruit, although we can find them in an endless variety of shapes and colors.

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It’s estimated that 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins are produced in the U.S. every year. Illinois is by far the top state for pumpkin production, raising 90-95% of them, mostly for Libby, a division of the Nestle Company. California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan grow most of the remainder.

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Pumpkins typically range in size from less than one pound all the way up to more than 1,000! They are native to North America. Most pumpkins are grown for eating and can be boiled, baked, steamed, pureed, or roasted. They are a good source of Vitamin A. The seeds are often roasted and salted as well.

The tradition of carving pumpkins is thought to have been brought from Great Britain and Ireland where they carved many different types of fruits and vegetables. It wasn’t until the mid-1800s when it is recorded that they were used as lanterns. Catholic children are said to have carved turnips to represent a face, placed a candle inside them, and walked door-to-door begging for soul cakes on the eve of All Saints and All Souls in honor of deceased loved ones.

(Information gathered from mayoclinic.com, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Wikipedia.)

(Photo of my niece, Kelly, with a giant pumpkin, taken by a friend.)

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

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