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Alisa Murray’s Living the Sweet Life : The Daily Dose

Living the Sweet Life: August 2016 Coming Home….

IMG_9180Many of you are packing up your teenagers and heading to the universities this month. This will be their new home as they embark on their adventures and begin a new chapter both for their lives but for those off us as parents. I remember such an occasion on a crisp fall day in August in 1987 when I left home for the first time and moved into the all girls dorm at St. Mary’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina. Daddy’s hugs and what he called my “Big Crocodile Tears” were a part of that day too and at the same time I was excited …I was all grown up….and I was scared to death! My last year of high school would be finished there as would my Associates Degree in Liberal Arts. My grandparents were very worried that if I got exposed to a different religion that I would convert over to it. And as funny as that sounds….those Baptists are very particular about how they view other religions. St. Mary’s is an Episcopal all girls school that is relatively exclusive being that it’s private and still today as it was in 1987… the only existing Episcopal all girls boarding school still left in this country. It was converted during the civil war into a hospital for the soldiers and we would find confederate money in her walls during several construction sites during my three years attending.

I loved St. Mary’s and with most things that I love I fall deeply into them. The heart of St.Mary’s was chapel which we attended twice a day and then a Vespers service Wednesday evenings and on Sunday’s if you were not away visiting family. It was at St. Mary’s that I learned Latin, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and became the leading art student in the entire school. SCAD courted me as a result of my art and eventually I went there to continue my studies in Painting, Art History and Interior Design. It was also where I became as my grandparents feared…an Episcopalian.

I have always been very active in the church attending choir and all youth activities. I quickly became a Vestry member before graduating high school and by my sophomore year in college I was made Senior Warden. I remember the very first night after all the parents had gone and we were attending our first service and going over what it means to be a St. Mary’s girl. I remember accidentally saying the “Holy Ghost” and my new roommate glanced over at me and gave me the “look.” I also distinctly remember waiting for something terrible to happen, like for me to spontaneously combust when they passed the Blood and Body of Christ I discovered it was not grape juice but actual wine that they we’re serving!

Many years have passed since I graduated from St. Mary’s and many churches along the way Brian and I attended in both Savannah and in Houston. None were what I felt at St. Mary’s until we found St. Catherine’s. And even St. Catherine’s magic didn’t happen until Father Mike became the priest. We went and we left and we went and we left and then Father Mike came and we go as much as my shooting schedule will allow us to. So after having raised my babies in an Episcopal church I had never actually left the title of my Baptist faith and converted over officially to that of being an Episcopalian. James Edward and I attended the classes and as he discovered the nuances of the faith I felt a sense of peace at having finally found and finished what I had meant to so many years before. It was like coming home.

On a warm yummy day last month James Edward and I became officially Episcopalians. During Bishop’s sermon he mentioned something that I think will stick with Jamesy hopefully for as long as he lives. It’s a message of understanding our place here while on earth is of the walking dead. We are all here doing hopefully what God’s plan and purpose is for our lives but we are not fully living. It is when we live in heaven and are a part of the larger Body of Christ that we are risen and are fully alive. Love is the only thing we must do and Love is most imperative in our lost world full of so much hate and discord.
Thanks be to GOD!

Houston Award Winning Columnist | Alisa Murray| Living the Sweet Life | Bugs for Lunch? May 2016

MAY 2016
Living the Sweet Life : Ants and Grasshoppers for lunch anyone?

For the longest time when I think of a picnic I have that iconic image of a red checkered blanket and at some point a trail of ants trying to invade and haul off any crumbs that they can. Never in my wildest dreams did that vision include making ants be the main entree! What are you talking about you ask? These days in the world of food consumption, one can choose to eat a sandwich and others can just go eat a bug, making your picnics a whole other experience! Yes, folks you read it right…bugs! Bugs you say? What?? It turns out that around the world insects such as ants, locusts, mealworms and grasshoppers are consumed by about 2 billion people.

This both disgusted me and intrigued me. When I was a child one of the fondest memories was spending time in the mountains with my Granny and Big Daddy. We would plan for a day outside and Granny would make a bunch of sandwiches and lemonade. Big Daddy always had a large watermelon and we would set off on a big adventure. Sometimes we would go to a
picnic table in the Blue Ridge Parkway and other times we would go for a jeep ride up into the mountains themselves and spread out a blanket with the trees as ou canopy and while listening to crickets and birds and most often a mountain stream, we would have our lunch. Never in a million years would I have thought to just reach down and grab an innocent little ant and start chomping away. Sounds kinda sorta well actually YUCK!

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the Unites Nations sees consumption of insects as essential to food security. Due to our ever expanding world coupled with mortality rates dropping slightly due to better health and health care advances or food production must increase by 70 percent to feed 2050’s projected 9 billion people. And Insects, a viable source of life sustaining protein; despite your cringing, are sustainable and less expensive to produce than cattle and pork. Even more crazy, since I’ve been feeding mealworms to James Edward’s bearded dragon and not to us at our dinner table, was to learn that mealworms have as much unsaturated omega-3 fat as fish do and a pound of locusts contain more iron than a pound of beef!

I think that for at least during my lifetime I’ll be sticking to dill pickles, ham and swiss sandwiches and berries! It’s not that I don’t want to be hip and all…at this point I think I am just too old to change. They say that the crickets taste like cashews and sweet corn and the ants, well those are really advanced in the foodie world! Who knew? Those little guys come in flavors such as honey and bacon. I think I’d rather have the real thing though. I could perhaps see having a cricket breakfast bar if I live long enough to see my great grandchildren and don’t really know what’s going on around me anymore! At that point I wouldn’t really care and I guess that’d be alright!

Take Care of YOU! shutterstock_324406838

#alisamurray #alisamurrayphotography

Living the Sweetlife : A Beautiful Responsibility

 I really like wearing a cape (figuratively speaking of course!) and given the opportunity to be a super hero at anytime in my life has, and I am sure will continue to be, ideal. Now, my time has come! Many already know that as the children have grown in my family client base they have attached the name “Auntie A” to refer to me. It is a name of endearment and through it I have a furthered sense of belonging to a great extended family. I rather love that a small child would name me and want to share their thoughts and greater still as a teen actually listen. This has been a long journey in the making.
I can argue because I am old enough now to win the argument that although children need us to rear them at all ages it is imperative that they have an adult that they confide in during the teen years. These special years are the most difficult to navigate because of puberty and now with what I call the “Social Situation” just plain scary. Teaching them what to do and to not do is an enormous task and a beautiful responsibility.
I try, to be hip and not seem like an old foddy doddy. That is probably why I know a lot about what all my children are doing and questions they have usually get asked openly on a multitude of subjects. Even so I am not stupid enough to think for a minute they are not doing what children do which is test limits and try things on for size. Parenting is different at every age and stage but being trusted and confided in takes time. Through my talks with teens, I came to realize that many do not understand the importance of manners and the future impact of their social behaviors. It might surprise you that most teens do not know how to balance a check book, or understand that all their texts will come back to haunt them. Deep down each of them  are looking for solid advice, just not from their parents, that they can make sense of their world and tough decisions.
Recently I did a little research to see if I could at all find a place that teens could go to learn about what to do and not do and ask questions about stuff. I found a bunch of etiquette about businesses. I, of course also found all the old stuff about setting a table but what to do when you are being bullied? What to do when someone is pressuring you to do something you do not want to do? Those subjects were next to impossible to find advice and solid facts in an interesting and relatable way. With our lives increasingly influenced by the “social situation” it is surprising that this  not taught in our schools. And all at once, I caught a glimpse of my cape.
Over the past several months even years I have been transforming into the superhero that I have always know I could be…should be. With the encouragement of my daughter and agent I have developed a show called “Auntie A Says.” It airs on my Youtube channel by the same name and I have developed a weekly episode with a years worth of content for our youth. I am excited to tell you right from wrong in a world that has all but forgotten basic etiquette. I feel like I have transformed fully into the name given to me by our children. Mostly, I hope that I will be able to influence  vasts more through social media to make their world a better place.
Take Care of YOU!

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