Rant on Comcast/Xfinity Wednesday, May 24 2017 

I’m cool as a cucumber, calm as a gentle stream. I don’t get road rage—I’m the most patient driver on the road. I rarely get rattled caring for my husband with Alzheimer’s or rambunctious grandchildren. I really am typically easy-going.

Until I had to deal with Comcast/Xfinity.

Working with them after my recent move turned me into an angry person I didn’t recognize. One day, I even lost my temper and was nasty with reps. My blood pressure rises just thinking about them.

There were problems with the cable. A second TV didn’t work, and I was repeatedly told there was something wrong with my equipment. All of it magically failed overnight while moving. Actually, after a visit, the technician said the error was on their end.

Most frustrating were all the phone issues.

  • Comcast said I’d have the same phone number I’ve had for 30 plus years. It was originally issued by Illinois Bell, so that tells you how long I’ve had it. After several HOURS on the phone with Comcast, and a week later, I was told the temporary number they issued me will be my permanent one. It happens, they say. Even moving only 2-3 miles from my last home. Had I been told of the possibility from the beginning, I wouldn’t have wasted so many hours dealing with reps who repeatedly told me it would be another 24-48 hours. I would have waited to print “Just Moved” postcards to include my new phone number.
  • It took ten days and multiple calls to get a rep to update my online info so that I could see my account online.
  • I had no voice mail for 16 days. The prompt said my number was unavailable.
  • Caller ID continues to identify me by someone else’s name. Yesterday Comcast said they aren’t responsible for that. It is the slow processing of the providers of those I call, such as AT&T.

No doubt, all this rambling and ranting sounds familiar to many of you as you’ve had the same experience with carriers. They aren’t life-threatening problems but still, intensely irritating, particularly because of the waste of time. I lost countless hours that cost me work and pay.

And it’s been unnecessarily stressful. All reps were pleasant as they read their scripts but few could reason beyond their prescribed steps. It took multiple contacts before anything was resolved.

I guess it is the sign of the times. I moved 8 times with my previous number with AT&T and it was as simple as lifting up the phone in my new home to find it all working. But today we deal with too much technology, too little employee training, and the fact that these providers are so much in demand they needn’t care how the consumer feels.

I apologize for the rant. As you know, I strive to write positive posts, so perhaps I can assist you with your next move by warning you. Perhaps if I’d known all of this was likely, I would have taken it more in stride.

Think! Sunday, Jan 22 2017 

Many decades ago in a journalism class, I learned about media gatekeepers. Gatekeepers are the controllers of what and how the public thinks.Every level of the media participates in gatekeeping to some degree.From reporter to publisher, each person determines not only what information is to be promoted, but also the content and spin.The higher up on the gatekeeper ladder, the more that step controls.

Gatekeeping may be subtle or overt. Even the most unbiased reporter can’t help but be partial to a degree. Turn to any media source, and we note a more distinct angle. We recognize what side of the fence they sit on. Their view of how the world should be is injected into every story.

So much of our news coverage is speculation about what might happen. The emotional spin on possible outcomes creates public stress, anxiety, and anger rather than peace, unity, and positive action.

Know that when one story or clip is shown repeatedly, someone is manipulating our emotions. It is a form of propaganda. Think about the motive behind repeatedly projecting that piece into our minds. Why would someone want you to see that taken out of context?

It is all of our responsibility to seek the whole truth, to dig deeper. We must find more than the handful of stories we repeatedly are shown. To understand a complete story or situation we need to check multiple sources. Check out “facts” (rumors) on credible sources such as Snopes.com. At the very least, if you can’t or won’t verify your information, don’t pass it on.

(See info on my books on my website and all my posts on my author Facebook page.)

Stop! Reflect! Give Thanks! Wednesday, Nov 23 2016 

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I’m not one to long for the past. My life’s been a mix of extremes—excellent and dreadful times. I look back on the good ones with gratitude and prefer not to relive those that were difficult.

However, I do miss the Thanksgivings of my childhood. Thanksgiving weekend was relaxing. We laid around through the weekend, savored the leftovers, watched tv, and visited friends and family. We were happy doing nothing! The Christmas chaos didn’t begin for weeks.

There’s no down time anymore. We clear the lavish Thanksgiving table without digesting that last piece of pumpkin pie, and are off and running through the New Year. There’s so much to do: shopping, wrapping, card writing, baking, cooking, and partying.

Please don’t let this very important holiday pass without a moment of pause. Reflect on our abundance and give thanks. Acknowledge our many blessings and appreciate the food and friendship around us. These are the riches of life.

Passionate! Tuesday, Sep 27 2016 

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Our passions are the frosting on the cake of life. Mine are evident from my blog posts. The majority are in regards to my family, faith, and writing. I also am passionate about healthy living and Alzheimer’s research and support.A day without at least one of these, is a sad day indeed.

My relationship with God is primary. My family is my greatest joy. And writing allows me to utilize my creativity in a ministry of offering readers credible information, guidance, and hope.

Living and breathing these passions is the fuel that keeps me going. I’ve faced, and am facing, a tremendous amount of challenges in several areas of my life, and I’m keeping afloat because of the blessings of my passions. They give purpose and value to my pain and growth.

Studies repeatedly find that people who have a purpose live longer and healthier. Our passions make us happy, and when we are happy, blood pressure and stress lowers, both of which positively impacts our health tremendously.They give reasons to drag ourselves out of bed. They offer an outlet to express ourselves and make us feel like our lives matter, what we do matters, we matter.

We typically have several passions. But if you are contemplating what yours might be, think about how something makes you feel.Most often, passions are ways in which we share the best of ourselves with others. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who or what means most to you?
  • Do you use your talents and gifts? How so?
  • How do you express your creativity?
  • What do you do for your closest circle of family and friends?
  • What types of goals do you set for yourself?
  • How do you help other people, animals, or our planet?

Making time to be aware of and delving into our passions every day brings joy. However, maintaining balance is essential. Anything we take to an extreme, can develop into an addiction.We are more than one thought or activity.I enjoy a piece of chocolate in the afternoon. But it wouldn’t be a treat if it was the only food I ate.

(Take a look at my other blog, Mary K Doyle Books, and author Facebook page.)

 

America’s Poor Thursday, Aug 11 2016 

My sister, Patti, a stock broker and financial adviser, often says, “It’s personal. The daily numbers are mostly irrelevant to investors. If they’re making money, then they feel the market is good. On the other hand, if their losing—not so good.”

Statistics typically tell such a story. Everything depends on how those numbers affect us personally.

The federal poverty level is a measure of income issued every year by the Department of Health and Human services. This level determines eligibility for certain programs and benefits, such as Medicaid and CHIP. The 2016 levels are $11,880 for an individual, $16,020 for a household of two, and $24,300 for a household of 4. In Alaska it is $14,840, $20,020, and $30,380 respectively. And in Hawaii, those numbers sit at $13,670, $18,430, and $27,950. No doubt, millions significantly above those numbers feel the poverty pinch.

The top 1% of the US population owns 43% of the country’s wealth. That leaves 99% with vastly lower income levels.In 2014, 14.8% of Americans were considered living in poverty. (However, the Supplemental Poverty Measure stated it was 15.3%.) That comes out to 1 in 3 Native Americans (two of the US’s poorest counties are located on Native American reservations), more than 1 in 4 African Americans and Hispanic Latinos, and 1 in 10 Asians and non-Hispanics living below the federal poverty line.

Women and children face the brunt of these numbers. If things continue as they are, more than half of all children below the poverty line will live in families headed by women, as two-thirds of the minimum wage earners are women, and one in seven women lives below the poverty line.

Three fourths of the poor are unemployed. The causes and cycle of poverty and unemployment are complex and many. Job shortages (there is only one job available for every 4 unemployed people) and job outsourcing, automation, limited education, illness and disabilities, elderly and children caregiving needs, inadequate transportation, over-spending/credit debt, and lack of mentoring lead the list.

I don’t know about you, but I believe it’s challenging to live at two to three times the federal poverty levels. Rent, utilities, food, insurances, medical, phone, and auto or travel expenses are basic needs yet take a substantial amount to keep afloat.

Food is the one area we can cut when short on funds. That results in a good number of Americans going to bed hungry. This is especially so for those who make more than the level to receive assistance but too low to purchase nutritional foods.

Children comprised 21.1% of this group and seniors 10%. Every county in the US note levels of food insecurities. The states of Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Kentucky are the hungriest. And households with children reported the highest rates overall.

If we have an extra buck, feeding and caring for the poor can be the best karma. Four out of 5 (79%) Americans live in danger of poverty at some point in their life. According to the government website, most Americans will spend at least one year below the poverty line between the ages 25 and 75.

(Have you seen my posts on Mary K Doyle Books and Saint Theodora/Mother Theodore Guerin or my Facebook author page? I also have a Facebook page for each of my books with information specific to that title.)

 

Everything Counts Saturday, Jun 25 2016 

Back in the 1980s I wrote a newspaper feature article on a cancer wellness center. One of the survivors said something that made so much sense, it stuck with me. She said that there wasn’t one reason why she developed cancer and so there wasn’t one practice needed to cure her. In addition to traditional surgery and chemotherapy, she also improved her diet, reduced stress, prayed more, and increased exercise, among other things.

After recently viewing the nine episodes of The Truth About Cancer, I was reminded of this interview. I believe the words of wisdom I was told 30 years ago still holds true and can be applied to most situations.

Whether we look at our financial state, level of crime in a city, world hunger, political unrest, obesity, or just about any health condition, most likely several issues contributed toward it, and therefore, more than one remedy is needed for a complete solution. One dollar won’t get us out of debt. But every dollar earned and saved eventually does. From the afternoon drive-through coffee to vacations beyond our budget, we can cut back and/or work an extra part-time job.

There’s always something we can do to participate in solving even the most dire situation. If we break it down, and honestly consider how we contributed toward the decline, as well as how we can bring about improvement, things do change.

(Like my author Facebook page to see more posts like this)

We Know Better Wednesday, Jun 1 2016 

When I was a child, my family lived in Chicago. My parents sent us to Catholic school because they wanted me and my siblings to not only receive a better education but also a foundation of faith. This created a tremendous financial burden for my parents, but the gift was an investment in us that I’ve valued my whole life.

Between my parents and the nuns at Our Lady of Angels church and school, we formed a relationship with the Lord as well as a sense of ethics. We learned to be morally accountable. We were taught how to discern right from wrong and a responsibility to care for our fellow human beings. We developed character rooted in honesty and integrity.

Integrity is defined as the firm adherence to a code of especially moral values. Unfortunately, the lack of integrity is evident world-wide and in every facet of society.

I do believe that the majority of people are good, hard working, and compassionate. However, the percentage of those who are not wreak havoc on the multitudes. They cause great pain to the rest of us. Unfaithful spouses, selfish siblings, disrespectful neighbors, Internet thievery, and sabotage in the workplace is evident everywhere.

I know way-too-many people dealing with the effects of these issues.Someone they should have been able to trust stole their money, pride, position, security, or love. They caused hardship on multi-levels to the person they hurt and all those around that person.

Come on people. The world changes as we change. Take a hard look at yourself and note where you can do better—and then do just that. Become your best self. Lead by example.We all know right from wrong. Let’s practice what we know in our heart to be the right thing to do.

(See my author Facebook author page for posts on my books and everyday life.)

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

Living Thoughtfully Sunday, Mar 6 2016 

 

The many years of caring for my husband with Alzheimer’s disease has prompted me to remain in the present. I learned a long time ago not to look back at the past with frustration at what no longer can be. I also rarely look ahead with worry. If I’m on track today, tomorrow will be fine.

Nearly a year ago, I had a medical event that has raised my consciousness significantly further. After a series of tests, I was diagnosed with a condition called fibromuscular dysplasia. Because it is at least in my left inner carotid artery and the renal arteries, complications can include high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic kidney failure, aneurysms, dissections, and stroke.

I’m fortunate to be seeing one of the doctors who wrote the paper on FMD for the American Heart Association. He advised I follow a Mediterranean diet, exercise, avoid stress, and be aware of signs of stroke. He said if I have one, I could lose the vision in my left eye and all function on my right side. When I asked what he thought my chances of stroke were, he gave me the vague answer that it may or may not happen.

I’m not sure why I even asked that question. After all, even if he said it was 95% certain that I would have a stroke, why can’t I be the 5% who doesn’t? Again, I’m not going to worry about what might not happen. Today is where I will remain.

The diagnosis and this perspective have led me to live thoughtfully. More often, I take a moment of pause before speaking, acting, or doing. I ask if this is on what or with whom I want to spend my time, money, efforts, talent, and energy. Do I want these words to be my last? Is this a product I’m proud to promote? Are these the people I want to be with until the end?

I’m working to simplify and declutter my life as much as possible. I don’t want to leave behind any messes for my kids to clean up or waste time caring for things that don’t matter to me.

This new approach is actually quite a lovely way to live. It doesn’t eliminate activities I’d rather not do but my attitude has changed. I scrub the bathroom, because I like it clean. I pay the bills to get them off my desk. And any bit of free time, I do what makes me happiest.

I’ve always been grateful for my many blessings. Now, I enjoy them much more.

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

Every Vote Counts Saturday, Feb 27 2016 

The Illinois primary election is fast approaching, and I’m not sure how I will vote. Unfortunately, I’m not excited about anyone in the race.

In my opinion, few of the 11 presidents who served in my lifetime, including the present one, were exceptional leaders. The public vote has spoken otherwise, however. Either they found these presidents more than acceptable or that they were the best candidates on the ballot.

Regardless, I accept the decision of the democracy, and I will vote every opportunity that I have. It is my privilege and obligation to step forward and note my choice. Voting is not a God-given right. Many countries around the world limit that opportunity.

It can be difficult to sift through the media noise surrounding the elections but important to do our best to listen, read, and discern for ourselves. May you use your power wisely, the elected make us proud, and God bless America.

©2016, Mary K Doyle

Statistics and Magician’s Wife Tuesday, Feb 23 2016 

 

Storytelling throughout history was the passing on of the essence of an event. Specific details were not necessary. It was a person’s emotional interpretation of a significant occurrence. The heart of the story was what was important.

These stories would get passed down by word of mouth, so they altered along the way. I recently heard on the science program, Nova, that every time we recall a memory, we edit it. It becomes less and less accurate because our imagination fills in bits and pieces of things that may have happened, and then those imagined additions become part of the memory.

Today, we do more reporting than storytelling. We want specific details—time, dates, and numbers. When I wrote Sunday feature articles for the Chicago Tribune, three things were to be included: real voices, meaningful quotes, and statistics. Stories needed to be about people with real concerns, told in their own words, and backed up with relevant data.

Statics are an important element in substantiating a story. They tell a level of truth in numbers. Although it was my least favorite college class, I do realize its significance from sports and politics to science and demographics. However, in all reality, even those numbers are a matter of interpretation and can be twisted.

WordPress offers a stats page for each of my blogs. It shows the number of views, likes, visitors, and comments for every post and even where those viewers are located. These numbers give me an idea of who is reading my blogs and whether they are of interest to anyone. There is a wide variation of numbers for many reasons including relevancy of content, writing style, and the time and day of posting.

My most viewed post ran back on August 19, 2013. It had 777 views on WordPress plus countless others via Facebook reposting.

For those who might like to re-read it, and those who never saw it, here it is again:Top 10 Ways You Know You Are a Magicians Wife

©2016, Mary K Doyle

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