Midweek Meditation: Wake Up America

From amazingly talented artist and patriot Jon McNaughton, whom I first heard about when he released his stunning painting The Forgotten Man, comes a new and timely piece of art designed to make Americans think hard before casting their votes this November.

Entitled Wake Up America, McNaughton describes his heavily symbolic work and the motivation behind its creation:

Every man, woman and child in America is enslaved to our national debt. As an artist, I have laid out my vision of the dire circumstances that surround us. Now, more than ever, each American must make a choice: will we unlock the shackles that enslave us, or will we give up the greatest gift we have—our freedom. It is my hope and prayer that America will “wake up” before it is too late.

Those who are familiar with my work know I like to use symbolism and metaphor to engage the viewer. See if you can find and decipher the many symbols in this image.

In the painting I have intentionally hidden six keys that will WAKE UP AMERICA and release us from the chains of economic and political bondage. Find these keys and share them with as many Americans as you can. If we don’t “wake up”, the next generation may not know what it means to be free.

Jon McNaughton
a political artist

Check out the video, narrated by the artist:

And if you haven’t yet seen or heard about The Forgotten Man:

H/T: Lisa Mei Norton


Atkins Diary — 14 Weeks Down!

I’m still going strong on Atkins, though this cold/allergy thing has really hung on and depressed my appetite this past week. So while I never actually broke down and ate any of the “comfort foods” I typically crave when not feeling well, the only “cheating” I did was not eat as much as you’re required to do on the diet. Which meant I did skip some meals and when I did eat, I stuck mainly to protein (a cup of Greek yogurt or a bunless burger with grilled red onions), essentially moving back to Phase One by default.

For whatever reason, I just couldn’t bring myself to eat salad — which I normally love and consume with both lunch and dinner on a daily basis — or even my favorite veggies like green beans, broccoli, spinach or cauliflower. But I did manage to resist delicious Hershey’s chocolate when we visited Hershey’s Chocolate World last Tuesday with Ralph. Truth be told, I just didn’t have an interest in the Hershey’s kisses, Hershey bars and other goodies that accompanied our Hershey Trolley Tour and Chocolate Factory Tour — which is definitely NOT me. Whatever I had certainly did a number on my tastebuds.

But illness aside, I have noticed a decrease in my appetite over the last few weeks which I attribute to the fact that the foods I’m eating on Atkins are so nutritious and satisfying I don’t need to eat as much.

Anyway, now that it’s finally HOT here and I am wearing summer clothing I’ve definitely noticed a difference in my shorts, tops and sundresses. No, I still haven’t stepped on the scale and I don’t plan to until I reach maybe 16 weeks (I’ve got so much momentum now I don’t want to ruin it by obsessing over numbers) but I’m happy with what I’m noticing at this point and feel like I’ve settled back into the low-carb lifestyle after too many years away. Reading some of these Atkins Success Stories on a daily basis is also helping to keep me motivated.

Honestly though, I don’t crave sugar the way I used to, which is pretty amazing in and of itself (though I’m fairly certain that Hershey’s chocolate would have presented a HUGE temptation had I been feeling well).

So how does this “crazy” Atkins Diet work anyway?

Atkins turns your body into a fat-burning machine.

Metabolism is the process that converts food into either energy or your body’s building blocks. Eating the right foods can increase your body’s metabolism, particularly how it handles fat. When you eat fewer carb foods—relying mostly on vegetables rich in fiber—your body switches to burning fat (including your own body fat) instead of carbs as its primary fuel source.
Get an exit pass off the blood sugar roller coaster.

When you digest foods high in carbs, they convert to glucose (sugar), which your bloodstream transports throughout your body. A rise in blood glucose level triggers the release of the hormone insulin, which moderates your glucose level. (For more information, see The Role of Insulin in Managing Blood Sugar.) So carb intake is largely responsible for blood sugar fluctuations. Food need not taste sweet—think mashed potatoes and white bread—to convert rapidly to glucose.

Because your body can store no more than half a day’s energy supply of glucose—unlike our ability to store almost limitless amounts of fat—it makes sense that we burn as much carbohydrate as we can as soon as it’s digested and absorbed. After each carb-heavy meal or snack, your body stops burning off fat as your insulin level escalates to deal with the rising tide of blood sugar. Fat calories are always pushed to the back of the line—where more than likely they’re stored. That’s why insulin is called the “fat hormone.” As long as your body keeps turning glucose into fat, you’re doomed to being heavy.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. That’s why cutting your carb intake and eating mostly whole food carbohydrates is the core premise of the Atkins Diet.

By changing the balance of carbs, fats and protein in your diet, you boost your energy level and keep it on an even keel.

When you eat foods composed primarily of protein, fat and fiber, your body produces far less insulin. And when the carbs you do eat are in the form of high-fiber whole foods, which convert to glucose relatively slowly, your blood sugar level holds steady, along with your energy level. You don’t crave a fast-fix energy booster in the form of sugary, starchy food. And you’re less hungry at meals.

This perfectly normal process of burning primarily fat for energy has a welcome side effect: weight loss.

There’s nothing strange or risky about a primarily fat metabolism. In fact, fat is your body’s back-up energy source. The ability to carry a “fanny pack” of energy in the form of fat actually helped our distant ancestors survive in times of famine and when hunters returned home empty handed.

Just to be clear, eating fats doesn’t make you fat as long as you give your body permission to burn them.

Place the blame where it belongs: overeating and overreacting to carbs. And herein lies the not-so-secret secret of the Atkins Diet and the key to weight loss—and later weight maintenance—without cravings or undue hunger.

If you’re already on Atkins or thinking about starting, join us at Low Carb Divas on Facebook, where we do our best to keep each other motivated as we all work toward our individual goals.

And check out this fascinating biography of Dr. Atkins and the story of the Atkins Diet:

Check back in with you next Tuesday!


Remembering The Fallen

Heading off to a Memorial Day parade in Kennett Square, followed by a Memorial Service at Saint Patrick’s Cemetery and then a tour of the Brandywine Battlefield. Whatever you’re doing this Memorial Day, I hope it’s a great one!

In honor of the occasion, I am re-posting a tribute I wrote a few years back entitled Memorial Day Tribute: The Ken Character in Water Signs:

As someone who was raised with a genuine appreciation and respect for the US Militaryand traditional, conservative values, Memorial Day was always about so much more than just backyard barbecues, although my parents typically hosted one every year. And once we’d gotten an in-ground pool when I was twelve (the realization of a fervent childhood dream for a Pisces child who loved being in the water all summer long), outdoor grilling and socializing with family and friends became that much more enjoyable.

But growing up with parents who constantly espoused the concepts of freedom, capitalism, strong national defense and love of America, as well as having numerous relatives who’d paid the ultimate price in World War II, I was fully aware of the sacrifices our men and women in uniform make on our behalf. Gratitude for their courage and willingness to serve at great personal peril has always remained with me, along with pride for people like my Uncle Dan, who was an Admiral in the US Navy and one of the most devout, honorable men I have ever known.There is a passing reference to him in Water Signs, in the scene between Madeline and Monica, in which Madeline’s mother implores her daughter about the importance of education.

And of course, the hero of the story, Ken, is a US Navy veteran, just like his real-life counterpart. Although by the time readers meet him, his service has already taken place, his love for America shines through in word and action. In Chapter One, in reaction to Carmen running off with her Iranian date, he notes with palpable exasperation, “I spent four years of my life defending this country from people like him and she and her girlfriend run off with them?”

Of course, Maddy is quick to remind him of the distinction between the Iranian people and their tyrannical rulers.

In another scene later in the novel, as Ken and Maddy are enjoying a romantic beach picnic in Ventnor, she ruminates about what others might be doing at that very moment on the other side of the ocean (something I’d often thought of during my visits to the sand and surf):

“…well, I’ve actually gotten to see what many of them were up to firsthand, during my Navy days. Unfortunately, not all of it was good.”

“We’re very blessed to live in this country, aren’t we?”

“Yes, we are,” he agreed, kissing her forehead.

The character of Ken also embodies love of God, country and family, which is revealed through his actions in addition to his words. Whether professionally or personally, commitment is of the utmost importance to him; therefore, he’s not above working menial jobs such as Taj Mahal parking valet and electric company meter-reader on his way to bigger and better things. And no matter the task, he throws himself into it diligently.

When he mistakenly believes Maddy is over him, he follows through with his marriage to Erin and valiantly fights for it as the years go by, in spite of his wife’s superficial obsessions and his lingering feelings for his former love. It is only after exhausting every possibility of reconciliation that he ultimately chooses divorce, and it is only after the legalities of the dissolution of marriage are finalized that he even entertains the idea of meeting up with Madeline, following a thirteen-year estrangement. Once reunited, the pair still takes it slowly, preferring to reacquaint themselves with one another spiritually, mentally and emotionally before consummating their new and improved relationship. All the while, being a good father to his two children remains his top priority.

On the night of their engagement, as the happy couple is cruising down A1A along the Atlantic Ocean, a specially made CD is playing in the car which contains many of Madeline’s favorite love songs. One in particular, Song for You by Chicago, represents the comprehensive celebration and description of her perfect love, Kenny:

“…it resonated with Maddy in the same way Chicago’s ballad, Song for You, always had. Whenever anyone would ask her about her ideal mate, she’d invariably tell them to play the famous rock band’s classic song: it not only summed up her sentiments perfectly, it extolled them with an accompanying, beautiful melody.”

In Sea to Shining Sea, Ken will continue to evolve as a stalwart, passionate defender of freedom; a faithful, ever-loving husband; and a devoted, affectionate father. Along with Madeline, he will face incredibly trying challenges, including the loss of his executive position and the birth of a son with Down syndrome. But through it all, in spite of moments of human weakness, he will rely upon his faith and uphold his duty to God, country and family, in the true spirit of a US Military veteran.

This Memorial Day, I honor our men and women in uniform, who nobly and courageously fight for our freedom. God bless them one and all, and may He also provide solace and comfort to their loved ones. Words cannot thank them enough for everything they do. They make me proud to be an American and represent the very best of all of us.