Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ten Things I Learned from Joining a Cult When I was 18

When I was 18, in the summer of 1971, I got sucked into a cult. It was a fake Catholic group. It was totally not recognized by the Catholic Church, and hardly recognizable as looking Catholic. Yet dissatisfied, disillusioned people fell for it, both life-long Catholics and new converts such as myself. No, please, don't guess that it's this organization or it's that organization because, as far as I know, it's not in existence today. If it is, it is very small.

Now, not to give you the wrong idea about the gullibility of the people, the group did have a true priest, a retired Catholic priest who was senile. He still had the presence of mind to offer the Mass but not to be aware of what was really going on, or what the leader was really about.

I wasn't with the group long - barely a couple of months - but it was long enough to have a cataclysmic effect on my life...and long enough to learn a few important things. Just to be clear, I didn't learn the following things from the cult itself. I learned them from having had the experience of being in a cult. It's reverse-learning, if you will, or learning from your mistakes and the mistakes you've seen others make.  

1. Don't give away everything you own.

2. Don't try to start your life over from square one. 

3. Don't let anyone mess with your head.

4. Don't be more religious than the religion you profess.

5. Don't let the group talk you into dressing three degrees differently than the rest of the world (unless that's how the religion you profess dresses; for example, I except Amish or Orthodox Jewish people from this one, because the dress is a part of their religious culture, not part of a spurious offshoot).

6. Don't dwell on the negatives in the world.

7. Keep the commandments, or whatever your rules or guidelines are, and carry on. 

8. Keep faith that God is good.

9. Know that you are not less than anyone else, and at the same time, that your group is not better than everyone else.

10. Know that there's a wide, wide world out there and that most of the people in that world are essentially good at heart.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Customers Boycotting Black Thursday

I am a former retail worker, and I have a thought.  What do you think of this idea:  If we don't go to the stores on Thanksgiving, what will the retail powers-that-be do next year?  Will they open their Black Friday sales on Thursday next year, if hardly anyone comes on Thursday this year? 

What do you think?  Anyone in?


My Facebook Break

You've heard of a juice fast. It doesn't mean you fast from juice, right?  It means that - for a short period of time - you only consume juice. I put myself on a Facebook notifications fast. I head on over to Facebook to see if it's anyone's birthday, or if anyone has messaged me, or if anyone in my family has posted something (which shows up in my notifications). If I want to say something to someone, and that's my best way to reach them, I message them there. But no "solid foods" scrolling and browsing through my News Feed for an hour here and an hour there, whenever I'm bored or lonely or stressed or tired. No scrolling and browsing through my News Feed as soon as I get in the door from an errand.  No posting every detail of my life or thoughts.

Why did I decide to do this?  Two reasons: the "negative" and the "positive". 

I'm always preaching the new-to-me principle of taking good care of ourselves, and I need to practice it. I love seeing what my friends and family are doing. And connecting with people often tends to energize me.  But, the political climate (for lack of a better description) - the anger, frustration, depression, fear, and bitterness - that I have often seen recently, tends to drain me. It distracts me. It gives me anxiety. It makes me sad. Now, I don't think we can, or should, avoid all negative situations or emotions, and it's up to each person what they want to post or talk about.  We all have different interests and ways of expressing ourselves, and we have different emotional capacities at different times in our lives. Mine is a bit low at the moment. Additionally, I decided that the world doesn't need me to set them straight. I don't need to take the time to research every erroneous post that's been passed on and show someone why it's erroneous.  I need to humbly take care of my own affairs. And so, I decided to take a rest.

In the process, I've found not only a little more peace but also a little more time. I've made some major progress in our ongoing de-cluttering project, sorting through boxes that were sitting here in our living room, boxes from our storage and boxes from several family members. Our living room is looking more like a living room now, and that energizes me.

And I've had the time and presence of mind to be impressed by the little seredipities that come my way. Not just the happy things and the things I'm thankful for, but also the interesting little things that happen because of some mistake or accident. Like Freecycling an ice bucket that I bought some months ago that I used as a footstool on my balcony but the color just doesn't work...and through offering it on Freecycle, meeting a fascinating storyteller who works in hospice and grief. Like driving with my son Robert on his birthday to pick up my other son, and being so deep in conversation together that I found myself on an on-ramp to a freeway...and getting off and getting a bit lost...and driving by a street named Robert Myers...on his birthday!

I will probably be back to scrolling my Facebook News Feed, and contributing more often again, too. Who fasts on an ongoing basis, right? But for now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some cleaning to do...of the real-world, hands-in-the-water type.

God bless.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


 Patriotism means we love our homeland because it is our homeland (or our chosen country because it is our chosen country), not because it is perfect but because it is the home God has given us. Patriotism means we serve, but it doesn't mean we are responsible for everything that everyone in our country does. Patriotism doesn't mean there is something wrong with us if we don't respond with anger when we see problems, nor that we should be angry at those who don't see things the same way we do.

We each do what we can for our country, for its people - for God, who told us to love our neighbor. We each serve as we feel called. For some, that may be political. But for others that may be feeding the poor, or serving the sick, or teaching, or encouraging. For some, it is going to work each day with a smile, showing kindness to those around them.

Patriotism doesn't mean that if things don't go the way we believe they should, that we should despair, as I have seen people seem to advocate, in the past few days. Hope is a virtue; despair is not. As my late son Paul used to tell me, "God is love". It is in God that we place our trust. 

Patriotism means we love our homeland.  We vote. We pray.  We serve, in various ways. Today, we especially appreciate and thank all those who are serving - and those who have served - with so much courage and dedication in our armed services, sometimes with the giving of their lives or health. I would like to thank my son Joe for serving now, my husband Ed for having served, as well as my father Bob, my brother-in-law Jim, and so many others.

May we all serve, in our various ways, with love. 

God bless America.


Thursday, November 08, 2012

Getting More From Facebook

"No one commented on my Facebook post!" someone said to me.

 "Maybe no one saw it," I replied, meaning "almost no one"
 How many people see which of our posts?  Who knows, right?  We do know that the "reach" - how many people see our posts - has dwindled! So what do we do?

 Sadly, I can't think of a way we can help more people to see our posts. However, we can each exercise a bit of control over whose posts we get to see.  I took some time one day to go through all my Facebook friends and put them in my News Feed, which is where I read what my friends are saying. (If you know how to do this, please stay with me and just go to the next paragraph.) You go to the person's page (click on their name when it comes up or put their name in the little box on the Facebook toolbar at the top, and hit Enter on your keyboard).  Hover over Friends (the box near the top to the right of the friend's name). Click on:  Show in Newsfeed. Voila. All set.

Maybe you already knew to do that. But did you know it's no guarantee?  You may or may not see that person's posts, consistently or randomly.

What if you don't want to miss any posts from a certain friend?  I love this feature.  Go back to the person's page and hover over Friends again. This time click on Close Friends.  Now their posts are much more likely to come up in your News Feed. You can even click on Get Notifications, and then you should know whenever they post, but that's an option that I find, at times, to be overwhelming.

Okay, but if I've listed someone as a family member, their posts will definitely come up in my Newsfeed, right?  Wrong. If you want to keep up with your mom or your sister or your nephew, you will want to go to their page, hover over Friend, and make them a Close Friend.  You see?

What about all those businesses that you "Like"?  They don't post much, do they?  Or so it seems these days.  No, actually, Facebook has cut way down on their "reach" many people see any one post coming from a business, non-profit, or other organization. Why? They now charge that business or organization if they want to be sure to reach all their fans. Recently, I started a fan page as a writer…which happens to have the same name as my regular Facebook profile.  (If you'd like to join me there, it's:  I have a modest 50 fans, which is just enough for me to get a little statistical information on my page.  Sometimes my "reach" is 14 or 17...out of 50. If people start conversing, the reach tends to go up.

So, if you want to promote your favorite fan page, perhaps commenting will help, as well as sharing posts when you can.  I read an article that explains the "reach", from a business owner's perspective.  I have to say that I know nothing about the blog the article came from and have not perused it at all, except for this particular article. So, with that disclaimer, if you're interested in an explanation about Facebook Fan pages (especially if you have one), here's the link to the article, entitled, "I Want My Friends Back" (

Is there anything you can do to see more of the fan pages you've subscribed to?  Yes, but again, you would have to do it on a case by case basis. You may want to do it a little at a time, as you think of an organization, an author, or a company whose information you want to see.  You can go to the fan page, hover over Like, and click on Show in News Feed. Again, you may also click on Get Notifications, if you would like.

This is all very well, but it’s so easy to get sucked in and spend too much time on Facebook, isn’t it?  Yes. And no, I’m not suggesting you spend more time on Facebook (except for a few administrative clicks). I’d just like to help you to improve the experience you do have while you’re there. It’s just nice when we can connect with those we have come to connect with. If you have any additional ideas or comments, I would love to hear from you.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Finding Books that are not on Amazon

Can you believe there are books that are not listed on Amazon?  Amazing, isn't it?  Because I am publishing books that won't be listed on Amazon (at least not right away), I want you to be able to find them. But I also want all of us to be able to find whatever books - or other resources - we may be looking for. So here are a few hints that may help you, whether you are looking for one of my books or some other book or article.  I will use my Little Saint Therese book to illustrate the suggestions I want to share with you.

If you do a Google search for Little Saint Therese, you will find a lot about St. Therese, which is all very good, but you won't find mention of my book until the bottom of the first page. There you will find a link to my blog, where you can always find links to my books. Or you can click to the second page and scroll to the bottom. There, you will find my book listed at The Book Patch, the print-on-demand publisher for that book. But, there is a quicker way to find specific items in a search.

If I put the very same words in my search, but I put quotation marks around them - "Little Saint Therese" -  then the listing at The Book Patch is the second entry on the first page.  It moved all the way from the bottom of the second page to 'almost the top' of the first page!  Also, on that first search page, as entry six, I also find a link to my blog post of the first chapter of the book, which - at least on my monitor - shows up without scrolling down to the bottom, as I would have had to do with the first search method.  (And yes, just as with Amazon, you can read a sample chapter. You just have to know where to find it.)

But wait? Is it safe to shop somewhere besides Amazon?  First of all, I can tell you that I've bought a number of copies of my book from The Book Patch very safely. Secondly, here's something you can look for when buying from non-major companies.  A secure ordering site should have "https" in their web address when you are checking out. When you are ordering something, and you get to the checkout screen, where you are supposed to put in your credit card information, you can look up at  your URL box (where you put in web addresses). If you don't see "https", you can always just leave the site without giving your buying information.

You might like to try searching your own name now and then, if it isn't something you already do. Try it with quotation marks; you will probably find more that way.

Have fun.