Molly Grace James

A Life Well Lived…

A Thankful State of Mind

scrubby laneLife is hard. Life is beautiful. Life is worth it. I wasn’t thinking this earlier today. No, instead I was processing or attempting to process all the tragedy that surrounds our human state of existence. Why keep trying? Why keep helping others? Why?

With so much sorrow, like the recent outbreak of Ebola, victims of sex crimes, young lives cut short, deaths of the innocent at the hands of ISIS. Are we foolish to keep pressing on?

In times like these I pray and grieve with those who are suffering. Often oscillating between feelings of trust – trust that the situations will be resolved – and outright concern for all those affected by hard times. I also pull back, and realize – life is worth it. Life is beautiful because of the impact we have on others. We do matter and what we do here and now can make all the difference in someone’s life.




Clean Drinking Water and a Whole Lot of Love

water guatemala
Photo: Courtesy of Rob Harrison

How refreshing is pure clean water on a sweltering summer day? Our team experienced the joy that pure, revitalizing water can bring to a thirsty community. When I signed up for Team Living Water’s (the race team that raises money for clean drinking water) trip to Guatemala I had know idea what lay ahead.  Organized by Living Water International, our group of 12 ventured to the village of Los Lotes, Guatemala to build a well. When fresh, pure,  “limpio” water gushed from the earth I felt the joy of what we had accomplished. This well would be the source of better health for the 45 families in the village both now and for many generations to come.

team living water
Photo: Courtesy of Rob Harrison

To say it was a remarkable experience would be an understatement. The entire process from ground breaking to the final ceremony — with the singing of the Guatemalan national anthem, the children dancing, and thanks from the mayor of the region —  took my breath away. pumping water

What was most remarkable was the joy and love from the community members. Yes, their lifestyle was a jolting comparison to the fast-paced, tech driven culture I have grown accustomed to. And in their simplicity was joy and smiles, love and compassion.  But their was more. Mothers with unspoken concerns about the futures of their children. And the children were joyful, yet was this the life they in fact wanted?

Leaving the village was that much harder. It left me with mixed emotions. Gutemala kids

May we never take forgranted all the blessings we have been given. And at the same time, how can we continue to give back to those all around us? Returning stateside I didn’t want to lose the feeling of wonder I experienced throughout the week. I will continue to look up at the sky and breath deeply in awe of the wonder of creation. I feel so incredibly blessed to have had the chance to experience this with the Team Living Water crew. Getting to know each person throughout the week made the experience even sweeter- like a refreshing, pure glass of water.


Fantastic AMA Leadership Summit

AMA STL ChapterHave you ever wanted to know more about marketing in one weekend than you ever thought possible? Attend the AMA Leadership Summit 2014! Held this year in Chicago, I had the honor of attending with three other stellar board members. We joined a group of other chapters from around the nation to partake in this learning packed conference.


Marketers Make Learning Fun

What stood out the most was how open and friendly the other attendees were. I feel as though I learned more by asking them questions at times than I did from the amazing break-out sessions. The sessions were tremendous though.

Fantastic Discussions

I particularly enjoyed a CMO panel where Dennis Dunlap, the CEO of AMA interviewed Kim Feil, President of the CMO Club, Mary Garrett, VP of Marketing and Communications of Global Sales & Distribution at IBM, and Rob Malcolm, who is on the boards of Hershey’s, Logitech, and the AMA.

CMO Panel

Here they gave their predictions for the future of marketing as well as what marketers should be doing with the massive amounts of data being collected. Rob Malcolm received applause when he said there is never a better time to be a marketer.

We had sessions on effective leadership, public speaking, and creating better community engagement.

The More Insights the Better

On Friday evening, our keynote speaker was Al Callier, VP of Strategic Innovation & Emerging Technology for Universal. My main takeaway from his speech was to always nail the basics and then build from there. A solid campaign should be built like a pyramid where the base is built on sound guaranteed practices moving up to the pinnacle for new, innovative ideas — which of course are risky and could fail. Attempting these in conjunction with sound practices is common sense!


Sunday, the final day of our conference Simon T. Bailey, author and international speaker, invited us to shift our brilliance by continuing to do what works. His challenge, make three columns: Start, Stop, Continue. Write down what you need to do. And also make sure you are in an environment that encourages innovation.

Would I Go Again?

In a word- absolutely! Overall, I was pleased with the balance of AMA specific content worked in with concepts I could use in my professional life. Looking forward to an excellent year on the board and getting to work with fellow amazing marketers!


Thankfulness as a Learned Trait

Everyday I want to remember all of the reasons I have to be thankful. Worry, doubts and fears should never take residency in our minds. Even on challenging days, in difficult situations, it is possible to remember the incredible aspects of life.


GMO OMG Food For Thought

OMG GMOYesterday evening, my friend and I ventured out into the wintery evening to watch the premier of the independent food documentary: GMO OMG!

GMO OMG is not a film that will answer all your questions about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). It does however show how ubiquitous GMOs have become and highlights the struggle to preserve biodiversity in seeds.  This award winning film, directed and featuring  Jeremy Seifert raised many questions for me: Are GMO crops better? Should we be labeling? Where is the conclusive scientific evidence supporting or disproving the long term impact of GMOs?

This movie doesn’t propose all the answers. Instead, it is a journey, Jeremy as a father takes along his path of determining what he would like to feed his family. So if you are in-favor of GMOs, would never eat GMOs or have never even heard of them- this movie offers a perspective that should be seen.

GMO with Director
With the Director, Jeremy Seifert

Check out more at: the film’s website.

Catch a preview by viewing the trailer.

So would you see it? And what are your thoughts on eating or not eating GMOS?


And the Winners Are…


In other exciting science news: James Rothman, Randy Schekman, and Thomas Sudhof won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Their joint research found that “vesicles” act like a fleet of ships transporting their goods to the exact destination. Cell regulation is extremely important and these vesicles,  tiny bubbles of fat, act as the cell’s internal shipping service. They can send material such as enzymes, neurotransmitters and hormones, around the cell. Or they can fuse with the outer surface of the cell and release their contents into the wider body.

Timing is Everything

Each scientist worked in harmony on the three components of the findings.

  • Schekman discovered specific gene encoding proteins that regulate and control the vesicle traffic inside the cell to the different compartments called organelles.
  • For his part, Rothman discovered a protein complex on the vesicles that allow them to bind to proteins on the target cell membrane. This means the vesicle would end up at the correct location and the cargo molecules inside are correctly delivered.
  • As for the timing, Sudhof found  calcium plays a role in how signals are transmitted from a nerve cell to another in the brain. The molecular machinery senses the calcium ions, which allows the vesicles to fuse to the membrane and release signaling substances on command. This  explains how an important molecule, such as insulin, would be exported out of the cell at precisely the right time.

Breakthrough Health Findings 

“They have revolutionized understanding of how cells are organised which is fundamental to huge number of diseases,” said Dr Lisa Swanton of the University of Manchester.

So why does this matter in terms of health? When cells are functioning properly vesicles carry  molecules (these can be hormones or neurotransmitters) to the correct place inside or outside the cell.  These molecules and their timing to various other parts of the body are crucial for overall physiological health. For example, metabolic activity is regulated, in the case of hormones. Defective vesicle transport is evident in a variety of diseases including neurological and immunological disorders, and in diabetes. Something so small- this tiny vesicle and its corresponding processes- something you may never even think about has a huge impact on your body. Without this wonderfully precise organization, the cell would lapse into chaos.

View the PDF for a better visual example of how vesicles work within your body.


Just Say “Yes” to Pet Adoption

Noel is the sweetest dog ever. Her beautiful brown eyes light up when she plays catch with her favorite squeaky toy- squeaker still intact! The love we have for our pets should be universal, sadly that is not always the case.


But I do not want to focus on downside, but instead the love, joy and satisfaction a rescued pet can have in your life. Noel as a puppy was trampled by a horse and had to have pins placed in her back leg. She could have been considered a “throw-away,” and not given a chance. This would be a tragedy. Her spirit is infectious – as a fighter in her early life – and now as a lover. Her warmth resonates with strangers and family alike. I hope someday you will be lucky enough to have a “Noel” in your life.

Adopt today!


Say No to Styrofoam!

Just today, at lunch with my sweet grandmother, she asked for a to-go container for a portion of her unfinished meal. Unfortunately, she did not receive an eco-friendly container. Instead she got what is many times a standard container. Styrofoam packaging or polystyrene is a petroleum-based plastic made from the styrene monomer. It is bought in bulk at a cheap rate by many restaurants and is used for its insulating properties.

Keep this beautiful!
Keep this beautiful!

Top 5 Reasons to Avoid Polystyrene 

  1. Not Easily Recyclable  

    Even though technology for recycling polystyrene exists, the market for recycling is very small and shrinking. This means each time you take out a container it will probably end up in landfill instead of being recycled. But recycling is not “closed loop” (see point 2).

  2. Inefficient Recycling

    If collected and recycled, polystyrene containers and cups are not re-manufactured into the same product, but into other products such as packing filler. This means that more resources will have to be used, and more pollution created, to produce more polystyrene containers.

  3. Harm to Workers and Consumers

    In a world where ‘everything will give you cancer’ it still seems reasonable to me to mitigate those risks as best as possible.  Exposure from personal use is probably not enough to cause any true health concerns, but what about the factory workers creating the PS? Linda Birnbaum, is a toxicologist who heads the government agency which has declared styrene, an ingredient in fiberglass boats and Styrofoam, a likely cancer risk. ” “Let me put your mind at ease right away about Styrofoam,” she said in a Huffington Post article. Levels of styrene that leach from food containers “are hundreds if not thousands of times lower than have occurred in the occupational setting,” where the chemical in vapor form poses a possible risk to workers.

  4. Toxins in Our Air, Land and Water from Styrene Production

    A few years ago, the U.S. National Toxicology program declared that styrene was “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”     Styrene can be found in air, soil, and water after release from the manufacture, use, and disposal of styrene-based products, says the CDC. Low levels of styrene occur naturally in a variety of foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beverages, and meats. Small amounts of styrene can be transferred to food from styrene-based packaging material.

  5. Better alternatives 

    When it comes to food-safe polystyrene alternatives several good options exist.

Betters Options:

Green Star Restaurants
Many eco-friendly restaurants will opt for greener options.  Post-consumer recycled paper, bamboo, corn plastics, etc. are easily renewable resources. These may be more expensive, but it is worth it for long term eco and health benefits.

paper packaging to go

Bring Your Own
eco clamshell 1Eco-clamshells are great, too and can be used over and over again. I bought mine,  made of number 5 plastic, or polypropylene.  This means it will be able to be recycled if I ever need to.   Although some cities have banned polystyrene, it may be nearly impossible to avoid altogether. As styrene is used in many everyday items such as building products, insulation, fiberglass, auto parts and carpet backing.  Still, when it comes to consumption, we have a choice to eat and drink the purest and highest quality items as possible. So, the next time I am out to lunch with my grandmother, I will remember to bring my container and will do my part, albeit in a small way against polystyrene.


Check out another blogger’s post on recycling Styrofoam.


You Can Now Have a Big Mac in Vietnam

Vietnam is an outstanding option as a tourist destination. Visitors can enjoy the exotic wildlife, pristine beaches and now fries and cheeseburgers. McDonalds is set to open its first location in Sài Gòn  next year, nearly 20 years after “Doi Moi” or economic liberalization in the country. Since the lifted restrictions, companies like Starbucks, KFC and other fastfood chains have established a presence in the country. Vietnam, in terms of demographics has a 90 million population and rapidly expanding middle class.

Via Business Week
Via Business Week

McDonalds is not solely to blame for unhealthy eating habits and growing worldwide obesity epidemic. But will this signal a continued shift in the eating habits similar to what occurred in China? The World Health Organization (WHO) found that globally obesity rates have more than doubled since the 1980s.  And now nearly 3 million people will die each year as a result of being overweight or obese!

happy eating at McDonalds

In the South-East Asia region nearly 300,000 people die each year from obesity. And children, who are particularly susceptible to slick ad campaigns featuring tantalizing fast food, may be adversely affected. With an increase in energy-dense foods, think high in fat, salt and sugar, and a decrease in exercise from urbanization nearly 40 million children under age 11 are overweight.


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