Archive for Arts And Medicine

Living the Sweet Life: More from Melatonin than we ever thought before… May 2017

Move over Prozac…there’s yet another reason for you to add melatonin into your daily routine. You probably have heard of melatonin but never really knew all of the benefits taking the supplement could deliver to you. My first experience with it was while planning a trip to Paris back in 2007. I bought it and made sure that I took it after settling in on the plane to get me to sleep and to prevent the dreaded “jet lag.” I wanted to bounce off the plane and enjoy as much of the famous city as possible in the just five days that we were going to be there. It worked and it got tossed into the medicine cabinet never to really be thought of again… until now.

Ya’ll know I do a lot of reading and a few months ago I ran across an article about the benefits of melatonin and ear marked it as something that I needed to look further into. Turns out that not only does it induce sleep it also keeps the brain in order, it regulates estrogen and acts as a free radical scavenger making it a potent antioxidant, influences body temperature, antidepressant, protect the heart and may help diabetes! The list is indeed a long one.

Melatonin is released in the pineal gland and that is the center in the brain is where alertness and hormone production take place. When regulated properly it allows for better brain function and in studies melatonin has improved oxidative stresses. It act as a neuroprotectant, which reduces risk of brain damage from stroke and trauma. Melatonin levels drops when we get older as it everything else but by keeping the levels at a normal place even the elderly can be spared sleepless nights. Other brain disorders that tend to pop up such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases in older people may also find benefits from adding a melatonin supplement. Studies with such afflicted patients have shown that melatonin actually counters the neurotoxicity effects of amyloid beta and tau proteins which become too high in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. By adding a melatonin supplement some benefits have been achieved in slowing the progression of cognitive impairment.

As an antidepressant is probably the most exciting news since the mental health of our country is at risk with so many people falling into depression. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs with people in the winter months. I personally have not been diagnosed with this but am in fact quite sure that I do have it. This is why when daylight savings begins and the trees become green again I just “feel” better. Melatonin has proved to be effective at treating depression. Researchers are continuing to discover more and more benefits from melatonin, even that it may protect the heart. Insulin secretion is synchronized in our bodies with melatonin production meaning that there’s potential with this little pill to be able to help stave off diabetes too! I have added it to my daily routine and so should you, after talking to your very own doctor of course!
Take Care of YOU!

*Information Credit goes to Psychology Today Supplemental Science section April 2016 by Rachel Uda

Houston’s Award Winning Columnist | Alisa Murray’s “Living the Sweet Life” June 2015 | #alisamurray

Living The SweetLife : Thinking about your Transition          June 2015
So I want to get you thinking about something that most of you will not want to do. I want you to start thinking about what you want to happen when you are no longer amongst the living. Recently I got a call from one of my AMP families asking me if I could produce a piece of art for their mother’s service. They had always known that when she passed she would want my capture of her to be what people remembered. Everything that needed to be done had already been planned and her transition was a beautiful one. By complete contrast, when my own mother was killed it was a hectic time. You can imagine, I am sure what a sudden death looks like…chaos and confusion. Mother did not want to be buried but she was because my grandparents couldn’t go through with cremating her and my father wanted us to “see” our mother in her casket. No one was prepared for her to be just “poof” be gone. When my father exited his stage I was in a photo shoot and at lunchtime I called to wish him a happy birthday only to discover that he had promptly and with out warning dropped dead at home.
Death is something that we all do and yet for almost everyone it is a subject that few wish to discuss. I think the reason for this is that it scares us to think about not being the only thing we really “know.” We don’t remember being a floating soul in heaven waiting to be given our earthly casings i.e. bodies. It’s one of the things I need to talk to God about when I get there. I think if we did remember there would be way less worry about leaving here. We would all know that it’s a transition to where we have already been and it’s a cycle. It’s in the missing of the other souls…the one’s we love, have loved and have a history with that scares us more I think. We just don’t want to think about it at all.
I know that this comes across as very matter of fact and quite frankly it really is. I’ll also state that it should come as no surprise the aftereffects of my experience in death and the business of dying are like tremors after an earthquake and will last over my lifetime. I am alas what the psycho therapists call damaged goods. (not really but it helps others understand where I am coming from). More importantly, I feel somewhat of an expert in this subject. Many people have transitioned in my life and I have some thoughts about the transition, more specifically about planning the rest of your family for the inevitable.
Everyone needs to write down what they want to have happen when they go. I know… you don’t want to think about it. Pretend that you are packing for a trip and you are not going to ever be the same again then…. Think about your favorite things that you have acquired in your life and make a list of who gets what. My Aunt Elizabeth was super smart about this and actually sent her diamonds to us and gave us specifically what she wanted us to have before she no longer remembered who we were. I like that. The last thing I want to have happen is all of my hard work acquiring beautiful things being rummaged through and fought over by those left behind. Nobody can argue if you wrote it and after all these things are yours. Don’t you want to have a say in who gets what? Next you need to think about your service and write that down. Do you want to be cremated? Do you want to be buried? Find a reputable funeral home and get all that done and paid for. When Nana transitioned she had all of this done. She lived to 102 and nothing was left unsaid, unloved or undone. I like this too. It’s actually why I always hug and kiss my family and clients and make sure that my last contact with everyone is something that if I were to transition it’s “all good.” Crazy but true.
I want to be cremated and have a large party. Afterwards, I want to be placed in my Louis Vuitton bag. On my birthday each year the remaining generations are required to enjoy a martini and must pass down some beautiful story of my life to the younger generations. I have measured the space and there’s enough room for two in there and my love has no argument in being placed in there with me. My son, who is 12, has decided that he will have to purchase a Louis Vuitton trunk because he really wants all of us to be in one great big Louis Vuitton and used as a piece of furniture amongst our family. Gotta love the way he thinks!
Take Care of YOU! Houston Family Photography Alisa Murray #alisamurray

Houston Award winning columnist | Alisa Murray’s Living the Sweet Life March 2015 | #alisamurray

Living the Sweetlife : Study the facts
So ya’ll can call me old school but I am really having a hard time having patience with this measles thing; as a mother, as an educated person and as a doctor’s daughter. I am wondering why no one is demanding that in any public space if you have chosen to not get vaccinated then you are not allowed to be there. We certainly have isolated smokers to the point that there is barely a public space where that behavior is possible because we as a society have  learned that smoking endangers lives and you can not impose your bad choices on the rest of the population. What part of spreading a very dangerous communicable disease is any different?
When it is preventable and has been irradiated it’s even more aggravating. When I was a child it was unheard of to question getting vaccinated. You could not go to public school if you did not have your shots and in the light of this latest tragedy it makes me pause to ask why have we not demanded the same rules of a place such as DISNEY? Here’s a little history lesson about this disease.
Measles was identified in the 3rd -10th century by Asian and North African physicians. In 910, Dr. Rhazes published his diagnosis of the disease. Christopher Columbus brought it to the New World and killed as much as 95% of the Native American population over the next 150 years. The 1800’s saw it’s effects as it continued to kill, most notably the King and Queen of Hawaii, who both died within a month of getting it as they were traveling to meet King George IV. “In the late 1800’s the HMS Dido brought it to Fiji and it killed 20,000 people.” We here in the US began to require doctors to report instances of the disease in 1912 and Dr. Thomas Peebles finds the disease in an 11 year old boy named David Edmonston and through his studies he pioneered the vaccine. In 1963, just a few years before I was born, it was made available to each and every child as a regular program for preventive care. I got one and so did Brian and hopefully you did too. In 1998, the year that Victoria Ann was born, there was a report claiming to link the vaccine to autism and later the report was pulled, the doctor lost his license but the public had been ill informed. As a result in 2014, the worse outbreak in two decades erupted with more than 600 cases and now this thing at Disney. This disease killed 145,700 people in 2013.
This is a childhood disease that is preventable. I feel like it is the responsibility of the parents to be informed and to make the best choices for our children. I can not tell you how many conversations that I have had in my studio and amongst other mother friends regarding vaccines and the pros and cons. But seriously, this is out of control. I am, and it is no surprise to my readership, very pro medicine. I am that way for a variety of reasons and in this case it seems imminently obvious that the only choice is to get the measles vaccine. The World Heath organization stated that measles is “one of the leading causes of death amongst young children even though a safe and cost effective vaccine is available.” As a mother, as an educated person and as a doctor’s daughter I want you to make informed decisions especially since the general public seems to be lazy to study the history of a disease that is absolutely preventable.
Take Care of YOU!
Facts and data credit to History of Measles by: Matt Pearce

How to have Peace on Earth December 2013

small image of sweet bird

Over the past several months I have been listening to family and health radio. One afternoon, doctors were discussing genetic mutations and how what we do to our bodies actually genetically rewires our DNA. Did you know that? They stated what we put into our bodies actually alters how we react and respond. They were discussing the e-cigarette and how it uses antifreeze to vaporize tobacco making the e-cigarette way more dangerous than a regular cigarette. The hookah bars we see popping up where teens are socially gathering and smoking are actually more dangerous than cigarettes because of the carbon used to light the hookah. The point though that came across alarmingly clear was that what we do to our bodies genetically modifies us and will pass to our offspring. Yes…. I know what your thinking.. Reread the last sentence once more! What we do now changes what kinds of people we are creating. BINGO!
I started contemplating the possibilities. Can you imagine what was going through my head? We know our minds are the timekeepers and destiny makers of our time. We know that what we think we actually become; this is the most important lesson to learn in post Freudian psychology. Our minds are so pliable, this is why parenting is of course the most important job we have to accomplish in life. Passing the good stuff to our children and hoping they don’t suffer too much because we have never done it before and we will and do make mistakes. None the less, if we know that what we put in our bodies genetically transforms the system, effectively rewiring it for future generations; then we can not deny the grand possibilities of what passing on views and overall concepts towards mankind will influence future generations.
We can see through generations that racism and equality change and sometimes disappear over time. Why then cannot all of the hate be wiped from the earth? How can we as a whole in humanity make a genetic rewiring of man and woman and their views of each other, the way they choose to mate, the way they choose to disagree? I’ll tell you… every parent and every adult has to make a conscious decision to what their minds feel, and act with love. They have to teach that it is the only way to a peace like we have never seen on earth.
It is easy to decide to never smoke again if a doctor can genetically prove to you that you are disrupting your DNA by doing so and what’s worse actually mutating your genes to pass to the next generations, making them more susceptible to cancer and disease and addictions. It should be very clear then that our mindsets are absolutely no different. Each family affects their next generations by teaching hate and non tolerance and that is why there is no peace on earth.
My wish as we celebrate the beautiful joy of Jesus’s birth and we hold dear to our loved ones; that we choose to in 2014 become finely tuned as humans to our greatest potentials and ways to influence the next generations. Every new year brings new years resolutions. By conscious modifications we have the greatest potential to create Peace on Earth!
Take Care of YOU!

Impact a Hero November 2011

small image of sweet bird

Remembering September 11th

I remember the morning of September 11th as crystal clear as if it had been just yesterday. We were staying in Conroe with my in-laws and my sleeping the night before had not gone well. I have a history of a sixth sense if you will about life, and I had been dreaming of a large storm. I was running around trying to gather, of all things, pieces of art from a museum and chaos was everywhere.

I awoke to Brian yelling at me to get downstairs and see what was happening on the television, and a small, then three, Victoria Ann was intently watching as well. After a while of processing what we were actually seeing, Victoria Ann said in her small voice, “What did you do to my country?” To this day, that will always be my question and the question raised by countless others as well.

Over the past ten years, I have seen and photographed many a soldier and shared with them my thanks for creating a sense of safety where as I mother, I know deep down there is none. Hope for a world that has gone awry and a fight between two sides of mankind that will never be decided or won. It is a battle that has gone on for centuries bubbling up more or less in the ages of time to wreak havoc
on those standing innocently in its wrath. The fight is not a new one. The firemen, in particular, have always been the hero on a local front as well. That day, and in the days following the bombing, we as a country lost 343 outstandingly courageous men. The fireman is a special breed of a man, and his fearlessness to save others while sacrificing himself is like our soldiers – someone to be held in high esteem.

When the Sugar Land Firefighters called me last year and asked if I would dedicate my time and talents to a calendar, I, of course, said yes. All of you know about my Art and Medicine projects with the Hope and Inspiration calendars for breast cancer, The Small Miracles calendar for the Snowdrop Foundation and Texas Children’s Cancer Center where I utilize my talents to create a product that gives back to our community. The firemen were a perfect fit, and their beneficiary, Impact a Hero, could not be more fitting or deserving.

Impact a Hero is an organization that provides emotional and financial support for our disabled war on terror veterans and their families. The calendar to benefit this phenomenal organization was shot at the fire field in Richmond, and ladies, it was hot! When they turned on the gas and lit up the sets, the walls of fire nearly melted my lens and singed my wig off! Ahhh…you thought I meant “HOT!” LOL It was all of that too, I assure you.

The Sugar Land firemen went through a program they devised to get their department more fit. When all of the guys started working out, they figured they should make good use of all their hard work in the gym, and so, the calendar idea was born. I got the lovely pleasure of deciding who made it in the first of many calendars, and I am pleased to present to you our first Sugar Land Firefighters calendar benefiting Impact a Hero! The calendars can be purchased for $15.00 and the proceeds go to Impact a Hero. I speak of behalf of all of us who have created this special project that we appreciate your support!

On November 4 from 7 to 9 pm, I will be signing calendars along with the guys at Baker Street Pub and Grill in Sugar Land Town Center. We look forward to seeing you there!

Take Care of You!