Saturday, December 30, 2006
The Joys and Frustrations of Connecting, or Re-Connecting, Online
by Margaret Mary Myers
Friendship is surely God's greatest gift on earth. Our friendship with Him is an insurpassable blessing and privilege. But He also made us for friendship with our fellow travelers on this voyage that we call life. I am not putting friendship above marriage, as happily married spouses are also friends to one another. But those who are married need other friends besides the one.
Friendship is the very great joy of those who are not married, as well. From my observation of several single or widowed ladies in my youth, they seemed just as happy as married women, and sometimes much happier than some married women I knew. Their secret? Their friendships.
I am not putting friendship above family either, whether immediate or extended, because good family ties involve varying degrees of friendship with the family members. Friendship being so important, and so rewarding, it comes as no surprise, then, that a new mode of communication would become a new "powerhouse" of connection with friends, both old and new. And that is why I named this chat, "Electronic Friendship". Not only does the internet provide us with an inexpensive means of keeping in touch with our old friends who may live at a distance, but it also sometimes provides us with a source of new friends, as dear as some of those we have first met in person.
ADVANTAGES: Emails can be sent at the convenience of the sender, and received at the convenience of the receiver. No worry about whether or not the other person is busy or our schedules mesh. And emails travel through space with the rapidity of the angels. Like the angels, when we are doing email, we are often speaking heart to heart, soul to soul. Consequently, it is easy to communicate on a deep personal basis, seeking and giving encouragement, sympathy, understanding; sharing at a deep level.
Sometimes in sharing with others, through writing, reading what we've written, and reading their response, we learn more about ourselves, and grow personally, as well as sometimes helping the other person to do the same. I have been able to keep in touch with my sister-in-law and dear friend by email when I couldn't afford the money and time for long phone calls with her. I have been able to develop a close personal friendship with a lady who was at my church, by communicating through email, and when she moved away, our friendship was as strong as ever, as we were able to continue our electronic communication uninterrupted.
SERENDIPIDITIES: How many wonderful surprises I have had through email! I imagine that is true of some other people also. When I was contacted about my thirty year high school reunion a few years ago, the lady who contacted me asked if I had email. I said yes, and we found we had homeschooling in common. We formed a new friendship where there had been none when we were in school, now communicating principally by email. Now we not only chat on email every now and then, but when I go to my home town, we can easily talk on the phone for an hour or more at a time. Another former classmate and I met online and talked about some of the things that had happened in high school. Although we were not unkind to each other in school, I think we would have been named "least likely to be friends" in high school, had there been such a designation; but now she has enriched my life in many ways and is one of my great inspirations.
One of my sons put up a website and told his message board friends about it. One of them offered to help him improve the graphics and other aspects of his website. Now it is a group project, although they still consult my son for his opinion and final word on any changes and updates. Recently, two days in a row, they had a thousand visits to the home page. Not only is it good for his self-esteem but he is learning so much about computers and the internet that he might not have learned as well in a classroom.
The greatest serendipity in my own life has been how God brings good out of bad, how my youngest son lost much of his vision, and I gained so many wonderful friends. I have found a whole community of resources to fill his needs, and the support to fill mine. I formed friendships at various levels, some acquaintances, some closer friends. Among these, I have gained a few very close, dear friends.
DISADVANTAGES: I said that in communicating by internet, we often communicate like angels, on a heart to heart basis. However, we are not angels. Oh dear. No, we have bodies and souls. We have five senses, more or less. I say more or less because some of the people I know, and have known, are deaf, or blind, or are not able to smell or taste. But we all have the use of at least some of the five senses. And there isn't much of that involved in communicating by email. We feel the keyboard or the braille or we hear the synthetic speech; and if we are sighted, we see the print. But it is not a personal thing, like touching a friend, or like seeing someone's face or their handwriting, seeing the stationery they have chosen, smelling the perfume on their stationery, or hearing the voice, inflections, and laugh of a friend. As wonderful as it is to be able to communicate electronically, sometimes there is the desire to stretch it to a fuller dimension, to be in touch with the person as a whole person, not just in touch with the wonderful depth of the soul but with the body and our senses as well.
Sometimes we even do have the opportunity to meet an online friend in person. But sometimes we don't have the time or money to do so and can only dream of being able to sometime in the future. Normally in friendship there are some kinds of shared activities, whether working on a project together, sharing a meal or snack, or some form of recreation. This is something that is usually missing in an internet connection. Another drawback is that it is easy to say things that we might not otherwise say, whether unwise or too personal. Sometimes we say things that are right but, without body language or "vibes", they come through differently than we mean them to. It is also perhaps easier to fall into whatever personal "phobias" or "neuroses" that some of us may have, be it manipulating, smothering, neglecting, feeling insecure, or not communicating our needs and our feelings about how the other person communicates. It is perhaps harder to overcome these without the personal connection of the whole person -- with no body language or voice inflections than we can "read". Sometimes, when this is our deepest or our only form of communication with someone, it hurts when it is withdrawn. A friend might get so deeply involved with email that he or she feels the need to cut it off entirely for the sake of his or her home life. Then we may be left without communication with that person.
ENRICHMENT: While our internet friendships enrich our lives, we can also enrich our internet friendships. Some people send pictures of themselves, and perhaps of their family or friends, by email, website, or even by snail mail, to their email friends. Some people who meet or chat online also call their friends on the phone. We can send a greeting card, either an ecard or by snail mail, or we can occasionally send a snail mail letter. We can share what we have written for publication (or at least "hopefully for publication someday"). If we know or can find out what the other person likes, we may be able to send small, easy-to-mail gifts, a nice-smelling sachet or hand lotion for a lady, or a pressed flower, or a book; or maybe even a small food gift, thus sharing our food, even if we cannot sit down to a meal together. One friend of mine asked me about my shopping choices and has sent me many coupons over the months. If only we could find a way to send a hug.
SOURCES: So how do you find online friends? Besides finding out which of your local or long-distance friends have email, another way is to get on an egroup with other people who have the same interests or needs. One good source of egroups is at: http://www.groups.yahoo.com There you can find categories to browse, or type your interest into their search box. And just sign up and introduce yourself.
BENEFITS: The benefits of online communication are great and far outweigh any weaknesses, in my opinion. Where else, in today's fast-paced world, could we meet so many new friends, develop such deep friendships, share values and concerns as we go about similar or varied responsibilities, and obtain so much support and affirmation? What a wonderful opportunity and blessing the internet can be in our lives and that of our friends!
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Ahh, the Christmas Holidays are here! The sight of snow falling outside, the sounds of tinkling bells, the smell of cookies baking on the stove, …
Well, no, the afternoons have been in the sixties here, I hear the sound of the washing machine, and maybe I’ll bake some cookies if I ever get caught up on everything else. But I like not worrying about the family driving (or walking) in the snow, and I am ever so grateful to have a washing machine in our apartment…And we can even walk over to the leasing office any time and get a cookie (we don’t do this too often, so as not to wear out our welcome).
Of course, Advent is a time of preparation for the birth of Jesus, but I would like to also call it an extended Thanksgiving. We are thankful for so many things. Among others: Ed has a good job that he likes. Greg got a job. My car is still running. And the three kids who live in Kentucky are coming here for Christmas. (Paul came last night.)
Homeschooling is going well. We are picking up the pieces from the transition of moving. Robby is doing well with his junior year of high school. Peter has a teacher of the visually impaired who comes in once a week to help him with assistive technology and to help him to learn how to do math in Braille (in case this should be a better option for him at some point). Peter has a guitar once again. And we are making new friends…and trying to keep in touch with our old friends, too.
We have the tree and the nativity, and we anxiously await the day when we can put the Baby Jesus in the crib. But in reality, He is with us already! He has been with us so truly, each and every day, watching over us in every aspect of our lives.
May you feel His presence and joy during this beautiful season, and always!
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
Whew, this relocation thing takes awhile. I always thought I was a self-motivated, planner-doer type. (Hmm, do we call that a Type A?) However, it seems these days that there is still so much to do just to get "settled in a new land"...never mind everything else. We just don't realize how much we take for granted in our community and our life...at least I don't think I did...even though we had done this relocation thing once before. I need to get my tires rotated. Who performs this service under my warranty? When someone needs to go to the doctor we have to get referrals, and experiment. And the list goes on. Slowly we are making progress!
On a different topic, I have a money tip today for anyone interested. I learned this from Mary Hunt, although I can't say I've never thought of it myself. (smile). What do many people use credit cards for? Often it's only for "emergencies", right? And what constitutes an emergency? Even if we don't consider that new dress or new tool an emergency, most emergencies that people use the credit card for could have been planned for. That twice-yearly insurance premium catches us by surprise. The microwave dies and must be replaced. We suddenly need new tires for one of the cars. Someone drops their cell phone in a glass of water (don't try this one at home). And the list goes on. We're not prepared for all these "catastrophes", so we grab "the card". (By the way, that's a general "we", not an admission of "guilt". Smile.) Well, what Mary Hunt suggests is admitting that we will have these needs and planning ahead for them. She suggests estimating ahead of time how much we will need for each general area of unexpected expenses and allowing for that in the budget. She calls it the Freedom Fund. You can read about it in her books Debt-Proof Living or Debt-Proof Your Marriage.
Of course, with so much inflation, some people are barely paying the bills and will say, How do I set aside extra money into a freedom fund? We can re-evaluate. We can ask ourselves if there is something we have that we never use, that we could sell? (Expect to take a loss, but if you're not using it and it doesn't have strong sentimental value, then it is only taking up space anyway, so you still win.) Craigslist.org is a great place to connect with buyers (and sellers, for when you need to replace something that you didn't expect to wear out). Another thing we can look at is our current spending. Can we do better at the grocery store? Can we do better on certain utilities? Can we walk more or carpool? It may take time to reach a point where we can fund the Freedom Fund as much as we want. Of course, in the meantime (and always) we can ask for God's providential help for all our needs! What father, if His son ask for a loaf of bread, will give him a stone? So much more will our Heavenly Father take care of our needs if we ask Him. (paraphrased from memory).
Speaking of moving on, it's time to go walking. Have a wonderful day or evening.
Monday, October 16, 2006
But as the exhilaration of walking and the sights of nature began to clear my mind of "rubbish", the words "Arise and walk" came to mind. I thought of Lazarus, naturally, but I also thought of something else. That is what we must do. Arise from old habits of anxiety, and replace them with not only planning and discipline, but trust and calm.
Of course, "Arise and Walk" might also be something to post somewhere to remind myself to get up and take that walk each day. Do you walk each morning (or lunchtime? or evening? or whenever you can fit it in). I highly recommend it!
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Today also begins our family's school for the year, here in our New Town in Baltimore. (Yes, it is a play on words, as the section of our town is called New Town.) One nice thing about homeschooling is the stability. Even though it meets with obstacles along the way; still, there it is, the same students and teacher, whether in California or Ohio or Kentucky or Maryland.
This week I have "stumbled upon" three great books that I want to recommend:
Debt-Proof Your Marriage by Mary Hunt (for those who are not married, there is Debt-Proof Living). Put into practice, these principles will save you (financially, that is).
Home Sweet Home-School by Sue Maakestad. This is one homeschooling book that inspires, without being "preachy"!
Created for Work by Bob Schulz -- I received this one free with a book order for Teaching Textbooks (math) from Timberdoodle. I haven't finished reading Created for Work yet but what I've read of it looks very reader-friendly for our young men. Inspiration and instruction for boys about the value of work, maintenance, overcoming difficulties, and so on. Timberdoodle's website address is:
And now...to school! God bless you all.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Thank you to everyone who has been praying for us.
We have our trilogy now: Ed got his good job as an actuary in Baltimore. We got our nice apartment in a nice quiet area northwest of Baltimore. And the house in Kentucky is sold and out of our care.
Life goes on in new ways...and God is good.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
One couple, the story told, lost their home after they had a $300 cell phone bill. Apparently the cell phone company told them they would take legal action if they didn't pay it, and in paying it, they were unable to pay their mortgage. Hmm, first of all, I wonder if that was just a part of the story. Just an interesting tidbit for the feature story, maybe? Because one missed mortgage payment doesn't mean foreclosure, does it? I'm not an expert on that, so I'm not sure, but I do know something about credit in general. And I don't get my knowledge from booklearning. Well, maybe some of that, too, and I have two books to recommend.
I highly recommend Mary Hunt's Debtproof Living. I also recommend an easy read called Escape to Prosperity by Wes Beavis. I don't know if the latter is still in print, but books are so accessible today, what with Amazon, eBay, library sales, etc.
Back to the couple who lost their home because of a cell phone bill. I don't know the circumstances, and maybe their cell phone company really wanted all the money now or else. But usually creditors can be worked with. The threat of legal action is not always as imminent as they would like you to believe.
So, what do you do if the wolf is at the door (or more likely, on the phone)?If you have debt and find yourself in a position that you can't pay in full, there are three keys I'd like to offer: 1) The mortgage or rent comes first. 2) Stay in communication with the companies to whom money is owed. 3) Pay them something, even if you can't pay in full. Sometimes I have offered to pay a lot less than the minimum, and they say, "If you could pay such and such (a little higher than my offer), we could keep you out of collection for this month." I really don't know if this is just their magic number or if they take my number and ask me to stretch. I'm thinking that perhaps offering a number slightly below what you feel you can afford might be a good idea, so you have room for the stretch.
And by the way, staying out of "collection" is a very nice thing! Worth a lot of sacrifice, etc. But in some cases, (if it's not a credit card company, but some other type of debt) even while in collection, you can sometimes still deal with the original company, if you wish.
Of course, one can't go on forever paying less than the minimums. You have to explain your reason and it needs to be sincere. And if I pay less than the minimums on a credit card, it does affect my credit rating and cause late fees to be attached. It is only a temporary "solution".
If serious debt ever has you by the collar, I highly recommend a meeting with a trained counselor from Consumer Credit Counseling Services. Please don't just do a search for credit counseling services, though. Many of these are simply a way of getting you further into the hole so that whoever is "helping" you can make money. Who you would want to see is someone accredited by the nonprofit National Foundation for Credit Counseling. They can help with budgeting, and if you're ever in over your head, they can often arrange for the credit card companies to allow you a payment plan that you can handle.
Of course, my personal opinion is that the best preparation is prevention. If we can budget our needs, buy only what we have the money for today, and build a contingency fund, we can avoid a lot of debt, especially a lot of unnecessary credit card debt. And if you do have credit card debt that you can handle, by all means, I suggest you consistently pay more than the minimums and get that baby paid off. Then either cancel it or use it only for convenience, paying off the balance each month. Ah, what a world THAT would be! (smile).
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
I seem to post here when I am "in the mood", and at the moment I am not feeling in the mood for writing. However, I said I would post back when we had a permanent place...so here I am. We will just call this one an announcement.
Yes, the happy news is that we have our apartment; sealed, signed, and almost delivered. It is a nice three bedroom apartment with a balcony, a washer and dryer in the unit, and a gleaming white kitchen (I would have taken any color, all other things being equal, but I had dreamed of white). We will have a pool and a fitness room at our disposal, and the boys can walk to the store. It's in a nice area in northwestern Baltimore County.
Thank you, God. God is good. All the time.
Thank you, everyone, for your prayers.
Monday, July 10, 2006
My allegory refers to a previous post about our having to go through the desert yet. Do I see an oasis coming up or a mirage? We THINK we have found our place to live! I will post back when I know for sure.
For anyone who has not read the previous posts about our relocation, I am not talking about a literal desert. No, we are not in Palm Desert or the Saharas. We are here in Baltimore, and it's a beautiful city. It grows more beautiful as the strangeness, and the loneliness of leaving our community behind, fade a bit. It might help, too, that the torrential rains stopped. It also helped that a new friend I met through an egroup had our family over for breakfast with her family. And another new email friend from the same egroup (whom I haven't yet met) gave me the name of a doctor when one of the boys needed one (something important but minor; not to worry). Although this is a pediatrician, so will only "work" for two of the five of us, there's something comforting about knowing a doctor. And he and his staff were very nice and are in a great location.
Anyone want to buy a lovely house in Northern Kentucky? Could I ask you to say a prayer that someone will? Please? (smile)
When we have our new place to live and our "old place" disposed of, then I won't worry about anything, anymore, ever again. Anyone believe that one? (smile). If you believe that, I have some desert property to sell you, too.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Things are not always as they appear. Nor are they always clear-cut. For example, right now, where and who are we? Are we rich or poor? (neither end of the spectrum, of course, though some might look at our situation and say one, and some might look at us and say the other). Do we rent or own our own home? (The last is a question I had to ask when someone would apply for a charge card at the department store where I recently worked). Here we sit in an upscale apartment in Baltimore County (with a two car garage!), which is being paid for by the new company my husband works for. But the apartment is only temporary and each night I look for an apartment where we can live after that. Back in Kentucky we own a home, but we are praying that it sells quickly and for a good price. It's absolutely essential that it sell quickly. So, is owning a home always a good thing? It was, but it isn't in a month or two.
Of course, the ultimate question right now regarding how much someone makes (a lot), what their owning/renting status is (questionable), and so on, is "Does it really matter?" And - for purposes of comparison but also for who the person is as a person - the answer is: no! It doesn't matter. We are all the same, regardless of whether we have a job, what our income is, how much we possess. All of that is not what makes us who we are. All of that is a house of cards. A person can one day be riding high financially and the next day be jobless. A person can one day be jobless (or have a business that is not adequate or is even draining their resources), and the next day have a wonderful job.
I was thinking of going on to say that what does matter, what makes us who we are, is character. And that is partially true. But even that - as it appears - is not all there is. Look at St. Paul who persecuted the Christians before He was knocked off his horse. Look at St. Augustine who was a player before his conversion (or so I've heard). They didn't suddenly go from a "bad person" to a "good person". The God-given potential was there all along, yes, but so were some good traits. Saul was very dedicated, we have to say that for him.
There are two (opposite) things that I've had brought home to me recently in a big way: One is that people WILL try to cheat. I learned that one while working at a department store...from observation and from my supervisor telling me that yes, it's really true (I needed to be aware, and I became aware). Those same people came to my register and were very human. The other thing that I have learned very profoundly, just recently, is how very, very mistaken we can be about someone's actions and choices. Things are not always as they appear. I found out recently that the gossip I had heard about someone in my youth was totally untrue...and here I had believed it for 37 years. I had seen not only the potential but the very real good in this person (like St. Paul with his dedication), but what I hadn't realized was that the "bad" I had heard, wasn't.
I was thinking just now: So, if someone is standing before us with a gun, THEN we can judge that person. But then I remembered a recent story in the Readers Digest. I think it was a hold-up in Indiana. At any rate, a young mother was held hostage. She told the man that she wanted to live for her young daughter. She treated him as a human being with feelings, who would have the compassion and understanding to save her life for her child. And he did.
As Mother Mary Potter wrote in a little devotional book (and I am paraphrasing, as the book is packed away in a box): We see someone who is a sinner and we wonder at them...when we could do them good by praying for them.
So, if I'm saying we can't judge people, do I believe that sometimes we have to judge a situation? Definitely. When someone asks us for money, for example, perhaps we have to make a judgement about whether this a good time to give money. Perhaps they are cheating - just trying to get money without working. Or they might want the money to support a drug habit that we might not want to support. Would I help them more by giving them food? A friend told me that her father buys grocery store gift cards to give to people who ask for help. What a wonderful idea. Another friend told us of her sons buying breakfast at McDonald's for a homeless man and bringing it to him. But whether we have to say "no, I'm sorry, I can't help you today", or whether we can help in some way, let us look at that person and see that here is a human being with potential...and maybe more than potential, maybe great character right here and now. Most of all, here is "Jesus"; as He said that what we do to others, we do to Him.
And believe me, I am talking to myself as much or more than to you who read this. Let us pray for one another. And please pray for us, that our house will sell quickly and well, and we will find the "right" place to live in the Baltimore area. Thank you so much, and God bless!
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Well, after Ed's lay-off as he was trying to build a business in tough economic times, and we were going through our savings without substantial income in sight, I felt like we were pioneers in a wagon that was being pulled slowly but inexorably toward a cliff. I kept hoping that God was going to give us a way to turn those horses (or oxen, perhaps) at the last minute. And He did. Or, come to think of it, maybe instead, it had only looked like we were heading toward the edge of a cliff, but as we get closer, we see that the ground is downhill but not drastically so... there is a way to get down the hill. And of course, God had known all along. Up ahead we can see a desert, but beyond the desert are fertile hills like the ones we came from...somewhat different but still fertile.
But to get down those hills and across that desert, we need to put our shoulders to the wheel, and we also need to throw out some things, just as the pioneers had to do. (Hey, at least we can sell some of ours, not just throw it all out to rot in the weather.) Well, this lightening the load is not necessarily a bad thing. We have seen some houses of family members that were filled with things when the occupants died or became ill; and here we are with a chance to whittle down our belongings on our own.
For those relatives and friends who had not yet heard of Ed's new job and our plans to move, I apologize for not telling you before now. Once Ed was offered the job, things have been moving along "fast and furious". So, here is the news:
Ed has gotten a good job in his former profession (as an actuary)! He will be working for a company called Old Mutual in Baltimore, Maryland. We will be moving there soon, so we are busy, busy, busy.
Here are some of the many good things about our move:
Baltimore is on beautiful Chesapeake Bay, and Ed will be working in the Inner Harbor area...an area that has been upgraded by urban renewal.
Next door to Ed's office building is a large Whole Foods store (he will have a field day).
There is a lot to see and do in Baltimore. And, Washington D.C. is only an hour or so away. (I am going to have a hard time getting used to "Washington" - being spoken alone - as meaning Washington D.C., since I am originally from Washington State. On the West Coast we usually said "Washington" for Washington State, and "Washington D.C." for the home of our capitol.).
I won't have to work and so we'll be able to continue to homeschool, which is what Robert and Peter want.
The Maryland School for the Blind is in the Baltimore area, and we can get equipment from them, on loan, just as we did from Kentucky School for the Blind, only they will be much closer, possibly just down the road.
There is a diocesan Latin Mass in Baltimore at a beautiful old cathedral.
The weather will probably be somewhat similar to what it is here.
There should be pretty good public transportation.
Thank you, everyone, for your prayers. We can still use them, as we get down that hill and across the desert. And please know that you are all in ours, as well.
Monday, March 20, 2006
The reason I made this change? I don't know how much bandwidth Blogger allows for each blogger. In other words, I don't know if several people can access this page at one time. If someone goes to the Rosary site and says a Rosary, it might be fifteen or twenty minutes that this page is open behind it. So, that's why I decided to change that link.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
On the other hand, have you ever thought of all that we can do on the internet? You can pick your programming. It isn't run by money. Other than the advertising that pays for the sites, money has little to do with a lot of what we can find on the internet. Anyone with an idea or information, and a desire to share, can provide a website, a blog, or start a group of like-minded individuals. Not being controlled by money means more freedom. For example, we don't have to get all bad news. Did you know there is a website called Happy News? http://www.happynews.com
If you want support or information, you can join an egroup, Yahoo or otherwise. All you have to do to find any number of groups, is go to the Yahoo groups site and put your heart's desire into a search. http://groups.yahoo.com
Of course, many of you who would be reading this already know all this. Probably you already know one of the big dangers of the internet, which is very similar to t.v. Addiction. Yep, that's me. Hmm. I wonder if there is a Yahoo group for overcoming internet addiction.
Well, that being said, I guess I better get off the internet and get something else done! But if you have any questions about the storehouse that is yours, just let me know.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Several years ago, my husband's boss invited us to attend a major league baseball game with his wife and him. Bearing our umbrellas, we met them going in, and we all walked to our four seats. I then began to tell everyone where to sit. After we all sat down, I told them why I had wanted us to sit this particular way. And then Ed's boss' wife told me: She, too, is deaf in her right ear. Oh, how I laughed later about the fact that I had told Ed's boss where to sit! ...and when his wife has the same condition I do.
You might think I would have learned something from that experience. But guess what happened this past weekend?? (smile). This time we were at a dinner and we invited a couple to sit with us. The four of us walked over to the table, and began to play a funny little game of musical chairs. We finally got settled...just the way I wanted. And then I popped my explanation. I'm sure you've guessed it by now: the other lady was deaf in her right ear also!
So, what do I do now? When we are going with someone I don't know real well, maybe I should say, "I'm deaf in my right ear. Are you?" (Laugh).
I also wish that I could have gotten a picture of the facial expression of a customer of mine at the store one day. While her receipt was printing, another cashier said something to me. She was to my right, so I turned my back to the customer to hear what the other cashier said. I then circled all the way to my right, back to face the customer, having now turned in a full circle. Deciding that some explanation was due, I said, "I'm deaf in my right ear, so I had to turn to hear what the other associate was saying to me." The customer had such a look of sudden comprehension and relief to her unspoken question of why this middle-aged cashier was spinning circles before her eyes.
Now, if you're ever with me and I make a totally inappropriate response to something you say, here's a clue: I probably didn't hear you and made up something to replace what I didn't hear! Do I do this on purpose? Absolutely not. I first noticed this with an aunt who could hear very little. I remember the time that she reported to someone after a family gathering that we were all having an argument and unhappy with one another, and that we had also said she was a nuisance. Nope. Animated, maybe, but no argument. And we hadn't said anything about her at all. We hadn't assumed that she couldn't hear what we said, so we could talk about her...nor did we have any reason to want to talk about her. However, it was an eye-opener for me. I began to realize that I "make things up" sometimes. I wish I could say I don't do that anymore. But I do. And not long ago I came up to a couple of people talking, and asked if they were talking about me! They said "yes" facetiously, and then said no, and explained what they had been talking about.
So, if you see someone doing gymnastics to get a certain chair or side, they might be hard of hearing. Or if someone is responding incorrectly, perhaps they didn't hear you. Like another lady I was talking to later on at that dinner last weekend. I was talking to her and her daughter, and she made a suggestion which was totally inappropriate to what I had said. I thought, "Were you listening to what I said?" And then I remembered that she, too, is deaf in one ear. The "duh" was on me! (smile)
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Melissa Wiley brings her characters to life with warmth, humor and love. Although the book is primarily character-driven, it includes plenty of drama, suspense and excitement.
As with the parables, messages come unobtrusively through the story line. What messages? Respect for all, an appreciation of beauty and nature, the power of prayer and courage, and more.
I highly recommend a mother reading this to her daughter. Both will enjoy.
Margaret Mary Myers
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
As he has long been my inspiration, I would like to take this opportunity to copy here what I wrote yesterday to the Catholic Charlotte Mason Yahoo Group regarding teens who rebel. I don't remember the exact question now, but it was something about how one could homeschool, or raise one's children, in such as way that ones' teens would not rebel. As one of the "older parents" in the group, I felt impelled to comment. I think the email I responded to was entitled something like, "Teens who rebel", so that is my title, although my subject goes a bit beyond teens. For those of you from that Yahoo group, I know this is a repetition, but "stay tuned" because my next post will be a book review of Melissa Wiley's Little House book: Down to the Bonny Glen.
Before I begin the post from yesterday, I'd like to pass on a request for prayers from a friend of mine: for herself and her adult son. Hmm, please include me in your prayers also, as I have some decisions I'll be facing in the next months. Thank you so much.
My reply to the questions about teen rebellion:
I wanted to reply to the questions about teen rebellion. As a sixtie's rebel myself; and a convert, as a teen, from a non-Catholic faith to super strict traditional Catholicism; who has since mellowed out, and who has raised three kids (with three more, not yet adults); and a person who has observed many families grow from marriage to having adult children, I would like to make a few comments. I hope they will be helpful.
First of all, we must raise our children for God, the best we can, with the knowledge, graces, etc. that we have at the time. Sounds like I'm preaching to the choir, doesn't it? Everyone here knows we raise them for God! But, what I mean is that we don't raise them for our own satisfaction; hence, we don't fret if they don't turn out exactly as we had hoped. Not an easy principle, that! But it is reassuring, nevertheless, because what I'm leading to is this: If at some point in his or her young adult life, a child doesn't follow our teaching, we may and undoubtedly will grieve; but we should not waste our time blaming him, others, or even - perhaps I should say, especially - ourselves. Mother Guilt is a strong impulse but it accomplishes little. Not that we can't analyze and make some changes if we have other children to raise...but even then, we must make those changes carefully because what works for one might be different from what works for another; and it's easy to swing the pendulum too far. The bottom line is that God endowed each individual with free will and as our children become adults, they make their own choices. God is the ultimate Father, yet He did not force Adam and Eve to obey; He did not force St. Peter to be faithful and not deny Him; and He will not force our children, nor does He expect us to force them, when they become adults.
Okay, but most of you reading this are young parents looking for reassurance. You want to think that if you homeschool your children, then they won't go wrong. Nothing is a guarantee, but it's my bet that - in most families - by homeschooling, we're increasing the odds tenfold (or is it a hundredfold?) that they won't go off the deep end. I also believe that the Charlotte Mason approach is another way of increasing the odds in one's favor.
Several years ago, there was something I read in a Catholic family magazine (Faith and Family, I think.). The author of the article stressed the importance of talking about our faith with our children. In other words, we don't just talk about "The Faith", but about our own personal faith in God and His goodness, and how He works in our own lives. To some, that might be a no-brainer ("of course!"). But it is easier for some people than for others to share something which might seem rather personal. But I think it's worth the effort to grow, even if it doesn't come naturally.
The next thing I would like to comment on is just what IS "rebellion"? I think we need to examine what we require of our kids. While they are (underage) teenagers, are we, for example, requiring them to conform to a certain mode of dress and hairstyle so that our peers will respect us? I'm not referring to modest dress that doesn't invite sin, but to style; for example, does it matter if our son wears a polo shirt or a t-shirt or a Hawaiian shirt? Does it really matter if his hair is short or a bit longer, or if a girl wears make-up or chooses not to? I just picked this one area as an example. Where morals and dangers are concerned, we have to be stricter than in other areas, and of course, if their dress would mark them as being a part of a dangerous group, we might have to have some serious discussions, and perhaps the last word. The old adage comes to mind: "Pick your battles."
I'd like to share with you something Dr. James Dobson said about raising teenagers (from his book, The Strong Willed Teenager). He spoke of our teen being in a boat, riding down the river. He said that many parents picture a big falls that they are heading for. But in reality, for most kids, the water just gets very turbulent somwhere around 17 or 18, and then as they reach 20 or 21, the river starts running smoothly and calmly again. He says, in the meantime, not to capsize their boat. I have seen parents capsize their teen's boat by over-emotional reactions, by talking about their child to people who consequently don't treat the child well, or even by refusing to speak to the child themselves. (By the way, I'm not sure of the exact ages that Dr. Dobson mentioned.)
I believe that the one very most important thing we can give our children is unconditional love! Even if your children are still small, you can start now by deciding that you will love them, not only love them inside but SHOW them love, all their lives, no matter what. I am not talking about permisssiveness. And I'm not saying that when they grow up, we can't ever advise or admonish them. It's just that it's important for them to know that we love them NO MATTER WHAT...that we respect them for who they are, the good that is in them, and for who they can be. I do know a family where the father would not permit one of the grown children to come to the house because that child had left his Faith and the father was concerned about the example to the younger children. The mother decided that she would meet him for lunch once every week. In due time, the son returned to his Faith. Would he, had his mother abandoned him? Who knows. She followed the example of St. Monica. St. Augustine was converted not only by his mother's prayers, but also by her love.
And incidentally, how long did she pray and have patience with him? Some accounts say forty years. As Winston Churchill once said, as a speech to a group of graduates, "Never, never, never, never, never give up."
To return to the question about how you homeschool in such a way as to help your children keep their faith and morals, and to begin to sum up, I would say we need to try to have a balance between discipline where necessary and a relaxed atmosphere. In one Catholic book by a priest (Christopher's Talks to Catholic Parents by David Greenstock), the author says, "It is better to err on the side of leniency than on the side of strictness." Of course, this was written many years ago, before some of the dangers of the world that we have today, but I think of another thing he said, "Never make religion odious to the child," and I would like to think that he would have approved, especially, of the Catholic Charlotte Mason style of education.
Have you ever heard of the difference between, "we are here to save our souls", and "we are here to know, love and serve God so that we may be happy with Him forever in heaven"? The one looks at the bad, bad, bad; how can we avoid this and that evil; look how bad these other people are. The other looks at what we can do to serve our neighbor for love of God; how we can pray well; how we can let beauty lift our hearts, and minds and souls to God. Let us teach our children, by prayer, by example, by word, and by love to know, love and serve God so that we may all be happy with Him together in heaven.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Just wanted to share a Psalm that I opened to this afternoon. I'm not going to put a mystical interpretation to the fact that this is where I opened, because this just happens to be the middle of my Bible, and the binding is broken right at that spot. So, you open it, and presto. (Hmm, I hope "presto" is not inappropriate for Bible reading. smile
"He that dwelleth in the aid of the most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of Jacob. He shall say to the Lord: Thou art my protector, and my refuge: my God, in him will I trust."
And verses 14-15: "Because he hoped in me I will deliver him: I will protect him because he hath known my name. He will cry to me, and I will hear him: I am with him in tribulation, I will deliver him, and I will glorify him."
Hmm, "because he hoped in me". That hoping is really important, isn't it? As someone said about Faith (who was that saint?), "I believe. Help thou my unbelief." It could be paraphrased to include hope: "I hope, O Lord; help me with my doubts and fears."
May the hope and the blessings of Our Dear Lord ever be yours.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
This week I stumbled upon a blog by an author I hadn't known about. (Well, okay, I didn't stumble onto it. It was recommended on the Catholic Charlotte Mason egroup). Anyone heard of Little House on the Prairie?! Of course. Well, Melissa Wiley is the author of The Martha Years books and The Charlotte Years books, newer childrens' books about Laura Ingalls Wilder's grandmother and great-grandmother. I was so excited! I had to go (virtually) to my library and to a bookstore to check this out; and yep, there the books are. Available for all the world. And she's a homeschool mom just like me. Wow! Almost forgot to tell you: Here's the link to her blog: http://melissawiley.typepad.com
Speaking of writing, since I was in the fourth grade I wanted to "be a writer". (Are we there yet? :) ). I used to toy with possible pen names. I liked my name, but I always figured I needed a special euphonic pen name. God provides...sometimes in strange ways. Or is it that He brings good out of strange circumstances and muddled decisions, in spite of ourselves? If you're wondering what I'm talking about, I'll tell you. Okay, here's the million dollar public confession: Margaret Mary is not my birth name. But, it's not just a pen name, either. It's my real legal name; but there's a story behind it.
I grew up in the sixties (need I say more? But of course, I will say more.). Born in 1953. Graduated from high school in 1971. In my late teenage years I decided I wanted to become a Catholic. I read some good books: The Autobiography of St. Therese, The Imitation of Christ, Our Lady of Fatima by William Thomas Walsh...and I started praying the Rosary. All was going well until I got an invitation to a week long summer seminar in Idaho. Or was it ten days? Who knows? The first thing they did was take our watches. Confusion abounded. Talk about brainwashing techniques. The head of the group was named Francis Schuckardt. It was a cult! Woops.
Well, since it was a cult, I soon found myself moving up there. While I was there I studied the faith and by God's providence the person who prepared me knew her Faith very well...at least as far as doctrine and the catechism. But I think she wanted to make me into a "religious" (for non-Catholic readers, read "Sister", or at least missionary), and I think she got confused...because she told me that when I was baptized a Catholic, I would need to take a new name, a saint's name, a "Christian name" as she put it -- and I would need to be called by it rather than by my birth name. Inside, I rebelled. But I didn't think I had a choice.
However, I did think I had a choice as to what that name would be and I exercised that choice. Since my name was Peggy Ann, and since Peggy is a derivative of Margaret, I naturally decided to take the name Margaret in order to stick as close as possible to my real first name. There was one problem with that! Although I had a cousin named Margaret whom I admired very much, I just didn't care for the name itself. Problem solved: I would honor Mary, the Mother of Jesus, by taking her name, too. And I would then have the name of the saint who preached the great love of the Heart of Jesus for us, St. Margaret Mary. But I saw no reason to drop my middle name, so I became Margaret Mary Ann, called by my new friends, "Margaret Mary". By the way, just for the record, the missionary priest who baptized me, who was only visiting the group (unaware as yet that this was a cult) didn't know that I was changing my name. He just thought I WAS Margaret Mary.
Now, let me say I don't recommend changing your name!! But what was done, was done. And since it was done, I decided when I got married, and was changing my last name, that I might as well make the first names legal too. So Peggy Ann Roesler disappeared and Margaret Mary Myers appeared...on my driver's license, my social security card, and so forth. (The Ann is still on my baptismal certificate and in my heart.)
Yes, I do sometimes mourn the loss of my birth name, like an old friend that I've lost. But I love both names and besides not wanting to confuse the people in my world, I wouldn't even want to give up my name 'Margaret Mary'. And after all, who could know when I was baptised (but God) that my last name would become Myers? I didn't even know what alliteration was until recently, but there it is in my name, three words beginning with the same letter. And of course, as a Catholic writer, it's nice to have a distinctively Catholic name.
But for those who knew me "when", I don't expect you to call me something new. As a matter of fact, it's kind of nice not to completely give up the heritage of my youth!
Speaking of youth, I came across a quotation that mentions youth. (Thanks to Melissa's site.) The quotation is about hope in middle age. Since I'm halfway through my life (hey, I knew a lady who as 106), I wanted to share it. Besides, we can always use quotations about hope!
"It is currently said that hope goes with youth, and lends to youth the wings of a butterfly; but I fancy that hope is the last gift given to man, and the only gift not given to youth. Youth is pre-eminently the period in which a man can be lyric, fanatical, poetic; but youth is the period in which a man can be hopeless. The end of every episode is the end of the world. But the power of hoping through everything, the knowledge that the soul survives its adventures, that great inspiration comes to the middle-aged: God has kept that good wine until now."
by G.K. Chesterton in Charles Dickens: The Last of the Great Man.
God bless, and, young or older, keep on hopin'!
Sunday, January 08, 2006
Being a Sunday afternoon, I've been reading blogs, websites, and e-newsletters of some of my favorite personalities on the web...many of whom I now count as my friends. Among the ones I've visited today is the blog of my friend Sarah, who has wonderful resources both for spiritual support and for knowledge about blindess; Michele, who has an encouraging website about doing medical transcription at home...and other home businesses; Maureen, who writes about Catholic homeschooling; Danielle, whose homey, humorous style makes one smile as she shares her experiences raising her seven young children; and Nancy, a Catholic mother who writes romance books.
As I've been reading lately, I've been feeling a twinge of envy at something so many people seem to have that I don't seem to have. No, it's not something material. It's simply focus. My son (to be more specific, Paul, the one who is my webmaster) agreed with me the other day that I would probably be able to drive more traffic to my website if I had more of a specific direction.
But then I started thinking, "This is me; my website is an example of who I am." As I often say, "I am a jack of many trades and master of none". I follow where the Spirit leads me...or where the wind leads me, or where my desires lead me. (I hope that much of the time it really turns out to be where the Spirit is leading me.)
Here is how my Mothers Almanac came to be what it is today: When my children were little, I read lots of books, keeping a list so I would have ideas of good books to get at the library for them. I always thought that some day, in the distant future, I would share that list with others, and I would call it Mothers Almanac. In the meantime, my kids reached school age and I began homeschooling. Over the years, I would meet people - at the park or a doctor's office - who would ask me how they could get information about homeschooling. I would ask them some questions: How old are the children? What religion are you? ...and so on. Then I would go home, gather up some old homeschooling magazines and information, and mail them a little care package. When I had the opportunity to make a website, I thought I could save having to gather all that information each time I talked to someone. And I could make my book lists available, as well. Little did I know at the time that the new information revolution would enable people to look up all that information on their own quite easily. But I continue to keep the information there, at my website, in case someone can use it.
And then along came our son's vision loss, and I decided to include resources that helped us with that, and resources that might help others. And so the site has grown, "busier" and more diverse all the time...just like my life.
Today I realized that others may have a central theme but apparently variety IS my "theme". And God uses us just as we are. I pray that He will use me to help others in whatever ways He sees best.
By the way, here are the websites I visited today:
Growing Strong, Sarah Blake http://www.growingstrong.org
Medical Transcription at Home, Michele Miller http://www.medical-transcription-at-home.com
Catholic Homeschool Writer, Maureen Wittmann http://www.maureenwittmann.blogspot.com
Catholic Mother and Author, Danielle Bean http://www.daniellebean.com
Romance Author, Nancy Brandt http://www.nancysbrandt.com
Here is a link to the poem! (I found it!)
Only to Do His Will, http://cvhope.20m.com/godpoems.htm
And of course, last but not least, here's the link for my website, Mothers Almanac:
Sunday, January 01, 2006
1. RELAX. Spend time just sitting around, conversing with family. And in the midst of stress, especially on the job, remember to relax by taking deep breaths. Perhaps between each customer, just take a deep breath or two.
2. EAT RIGHT. Back to the South Beach Diet. I might start with Phase Two. Is that cheating? I think Phase One might be too hard with the other stresses, and I think I can jump into Phase Two, because I've been there before so successfully. Lose twenty pounds...gradually, of course.
3. EXERCISE. Yes, walking from the car to the store, or across the store to check on whether or not something is on sale, or up and down the stairs of our home, are all forms of exercise and not a sedentary life. But who am I kidding? They do not constitute healthy, sustained weight-bearing (for osteoporosis) or cardiovascular (for heart health) exercise. Walk every day...on the treadmill or outside.
4. DECLUTTER HOUSE. As in, purge, purge, purge. Begin with papers, move up to books, and then on to the rest of the stuff.
5. CLEAN HOUSE on a regular basis. Scrub, dust, and vacuum all the main areas weekly.
Now, we all know that when we make too many resolutions, we don't necessarily keep them. So...although I should already be doing all of the above, I am going to focus on one per week, starting with number one. :) Ha, ha. How about that? My first resolution is to sit around and relax!