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Mary Biever | One Writing Mother |

A Better Friday

2-good-friday-service-singapore-2009-church-of-the-holy-spiritphoto © 2009 Bernard Oh | more info (via: Wylio)
Earlier this week at a family lunch, I realized I was the Rodney Dangerfield of wives and mothers of teens. I didn’t feel like I even got respect from the family cat. It was my Unholy Week of disappointment.

Then the tipping point came – a comment about my hair. Fine – I left our house as a mom on a mission. I called my hairdresser and got an appointment within an hour. When I got to the salon, I learned the receptionist had misunderstood who I wanted to cut my hair and scheduled me with someone else. My stylist was off for the day.  The sub stylist, upon learning who usually cut my hair, was worried she didn’t have time to do it right. They asked if I could wait longer for a different sub. I left.

But I was on a mission; I would not return home until my hair was cut. I phoned a friend and posted on Facebook, “Who can I find to cut my hair right NOW?” My friend returned my call and said she would cut it if I could wait an hour.

So I went out to dinner alone, steaming the food with my angry mother evil eye glare. How dare they make me this angry during Holy Week? Forget about Easter dinner! I wanted to take a Calgon Getaway Cruise for mothers on Easter Sunday – not an easy thing to find in Evansville, Indiana. So I imagined a land flowing with cheese and chocolate, where I was given flowers all the time just because, I looked like I did 20 years ago when I got married, I was appreciated, and everyone knew I was always right.

My wannabe vacation plans had to stop so I could get to my haircut on time. Half an hour after my haircut began, I returned home with a new do by a new stylist and 4 fewer inches of hair on my head. When I walked in the house, I told them, “Didn’t like the hair? Problem solved.”

Angry mothers, especially of the fighting Scot-Irish variety to which I belong, don’t generally elicit charming sweet nothing responses from their family. So I threw myself into my work, taking care of clients and business instead. My husband was taking care of his business, and I would take care of mine. It was not a pleasant couple of days.

Then Holy Thursday services began. My son was a server, and I was his designated driver. As my son handed towels to our priest as he washed the feet of 12 in our congregation, God grand slammed me with a baseball bat of realization.

The first Palm Sunday, the crowds cheered Jesus. When He washed those feet, He knew what would happen. He would get no respect. His friends would fall asleep when he needed them the most, one would betray him for money, and another would deny him. The crowds who had cheered “Hosanna” would scream “Crucify him!”

He didn’t cancel the first Easter because they didn’t deserve it. Jesus didn’t cancel the first Easter because I didn’t deserve it. We sang last night that there was no greater love than a man who would give his life for his friends.

He loved us and gave us – gave ME – the greatest gift of all time.

Now it’s Good Friday. Besides honoring His greatest gift and remembering His sacrifice tonight, I’ve got some planning and cooking to do.

As S. M. Lockridge says in this video, “It’s Friday. Sunday’s coming.”

I’ve got an Easter feast to plan and prepare for and with my family. They deserve a kindler, gentler mother. And a better Friday.


Learn to Drive WordPress First

Driving Lessons - Part 1photo © 2010 Tim Dawson | more info (via: Wylio)
Most of us who drive a car will never build one. Our adventure begins when we start the car and go. Those who do build cars have experience driving them first. Their driving experiences make them better designers and engineers.

Those who want to use WordPress to blog or build their website should do the same. Get help designing and building your site or blog and then learn how to drive it. We don’t require teens to build their own car before they begin to drive, and I don’t think we should require WordPress users to build their own blog before they begin blogging. If they do, they run the risk of focusing more on structure than content.

It doesn’t matter how great the structure of your car is if you crash it as soon as you get on the highway. Ditto for blogs – a perfectly designed blog with garbage content might as well be totalled and towed.

Just as the car owner can eventually learn to tinker – to change the oil, change the tire, or swap out the windshield wipers, a blogger learns with time how to tweak WordPress. The more you know, the more flexibility you will have.

WordPress users should learn basic concepts, like the difference between a page and a post first. Then they should learn how to update a post, schedule it, and insert a photo or video. As they learn those basics, those who are adventurous will begin to explore the dashboard.

The more the driver explores, the more he or she will realize WordPress is the ultimate website Transformer. Depending on the theme and plugins you set, you can have a Bumblebee blog or an Optimus Prime content management system, or website. The beauty of using WordPress for your company’s website is once you learn to drive WordPress, you can quickly update your calendar, news updates, and more, without waiting for an overworked web designer to fit it into the schedule.

Some of us learn to drive and rarely venture beyond the corner grocery store. Others rev their engines and race around the world in 80 days. WordPress lets us do the same, except now we can zoom around the planet in less than 80 seconds, by way of the web.

Getting your own wheels is more than exciting.

Why don’t you learn to drive in WordPress, grab a blog, and give it a spin?


Bad Apps and Bad Tags in Facebook

Two different types of spam attacks are increasing right now on Facebook. All users need to know how to spot and prevent them – and to fix them if they happen.

Bad Apps

A bad app will appear in your newsfeed as a story that someone “likes” something that looks like a video or a link to a news story. However, if you click on it, it can take you through menu steps to actually install an “app,” or application or program in your Facebook which can collect your data. If you accidentally click on this and it hits your wall, you need to do the following to fix it. You can spot it because under the story, the link will say apps.facebook….

  1. Post on your news feed not to like the application you liked.
  2. Go to your applications and remove the application with that name. (Account, Privacy Settings, Applications – in lower left corner)
  3. Delete the news story that you “liked” the app from your wall. (Hover on “x” and click.)

Bad Tags

Check your profile daily and watch your photo strip – if you have been tagged in a new photo, it will appear on your filmstrip. Monitor your notifications. If you are tagged in any type of photo about stalkers or odd topic, it could be a spam attack. Do the following:

  1. Click on your photos on the left. There may be a link embedded in the photo you need to avoid at all costs.  Do NOT click the link! Several names may be tagged in the photo. You will need to find your name and remove the tag. (Hint – if you want to quickly find your name, press CTRL-F and type your name to find it faster.) Do NOT click the embedded link. All you are doing here is removing the tag.
  2. Delete the news story from your news feed. (Hover on “x” and click.)
  3. Message the person who tagged you they have been spammed. Tell the person to go to this blog and also my blog, 8 Steps to Stop and Fix Facebook Hacks.
  4. Post on your news feed not to click on a photo or video with the caption that was included.
  5. Continue to monitor your photo strip and notifications. The person who got spammed may get hit again if they don’t take appropriate preventative measures. Further, if you have mutual friends, your mutual friends may get hit with it as well.

What other recent Facebook hack attacks have you seen and how would you fix them?


Family Life During Holy Week

Good Friday Childrenphoto © 2008 John Asselin | more info (via: Wylio)
Palm Sunday reminds us life can change on a dime. The crowd that chanted “Hosanna” on Sunday screamed “Crucify him” within days. Sounds a whole lot like parenthood.

This week, our family tries to slow its pace so we can contemplate the week that changed the world:

  • A Palm Sunday of celebration
  • A last supper where Jesus Christ washes feet and institutes the first and most important supper
  • Agony in the garden
  • His crucifixion
  • An Easter vigil as we wait for the Resurrection
  • The Resurrection and celebration of Easter Sunday.

As a Catholic family, this is the most important week of the year for us. We make our faith journey along the way of the Cross. Each step is vital so we understand the difference between the small celebration of Palm Sunday and the victory dance of Easter Sunday. Which part of the Passion would we choose to skip?

This will be my 14th Easter since my conversion, and many parts of Holy Week still seem new to me. When I first sought to understand it, Maria von Trapp (of the Sound of Music)’s book, Around the Year with the Family  helped me. I devoured the European traditions and incorporated some of them into our family.  When we adapt a centuries-old tradition into our modern family, I feel a kinship with other families of faith around the planet and across time.

Once upon a time, our Palm Sunday included an annual Seder Supper followed by an all-family viewing of The Ten Commandments. Now, our schedule doesn’t allow the Seder Supper, and our teens don’t want to sit through the whole movie. So they will see parts of it over family pizza, while Richard and I continue our own tradition. I still dye Easter eggs alone, as my teens are too sophisticated for kid stuff.

We’ll still be at Holy Week services, and all week I’ll smile at memories of Holy Weeks past – the year my kids won the chocolate at the Seder supper, the year the Bishop washed our feet and gave us presents – and how my preschool son tried to turn his papal rosary into a lasso immediately afterwards, the year my daughter won the bunny at the church egg hunt, and more. Then I’ll savor my son’s serving at Holy Week services and treasure each moment because these, too, will 1 day be a page in our family’s memories.

Shakespeare once wrote we are such stuff as dreams are made on. Holy Week is the stuff of which memories are built and families made.


My Tri Fest Tow Truck Teaching Adventure

Get towedphoto © 2009 Emran Kassim | more info (via: Wylio)
I love Henderson, Kentucky, and its annual Tri-Fest that starts tomorrow. As I pulled into town tonight to teach a Facebook class at the Henderson County Public Library, they were beginning to set up. Cool!  They have great food, rides, and more, in their historic downtown district.  I parked across the street from the library and went in to prepare.

My classes are taught with my Facebook profile live, on big screen, with my own News Feed.

Just over halfway through the 2-hour class, a Henderson friend posted, “The police just towed all the cars off South Main Street for the Tri-Fest.”

I had parked on South Main Street.

So I excused myself and went across the street. My car was gone. When I tried to ask the festival workers where my car was, my Spanish wasn’t good enough to communicate. So I returned to my class.

“Is your car there?” The class asked.

“No.”

“Do you need to end class to find it?”

“No. We have 40 minutes left. I can find my car then. If I can teach through an earthquake, a flash flood, and a storm that rips the front door off a building, I can teach through a towed car.”

I didn’t tell them that if I could hitch-hike alone through a thunderstorm in Ireland 25 years ago, survive a near-death hemorrhage during a pregnancy 15 years ago, and rebuild a burned out business 10 years ago, a towed car in Henderson was something I knew would have a happy ending. Somehow. The only thing to do was laugh about it.

This could be an example of Facebook problem solving for my class. I posted that my car was towed during my class, telling the class in the time that remained we would see if Facebook would help me solve my problem. Then we went back to our objectives list to keep going.

Friends posted phone numbers of who to call. I answered conversations while we kept on our to do list. Friends, both in Evansville and Henderson, offered me rides if needed. My friends Jo Ann and Joann both gave invaluable help. My phone started ringing with friends asking me if I needed a ride.

A grandmother taking the class posted on her own wall that my car had gotten towed. Her grandson commented, “WTF?” When she asked me what WTF stood for, I suggested she ask her grandson as I wasn’t going to say it in class.

After the class was over, I called the first number, a towing company who said they had towed nothing. Then I called the police. They had posted in the paper they would tow cars but acknowledged they had posted no signage that out-of-state visitors would see. They asked me what my car was.

“Blue. With 4 doors.” We just bought my car last month, and I was so rattled I could remember neither the make nor the model.

So I called my husband, who had just read my Facebook saga. “What’s my car?”

“You’re joking.”

“No. All I can remember is it’s blue with 4 doors.”

“You can teach any kind of computer class and don’t know your own car?”

“Nope. Not when I just taught a class for 40 minutes after it happened.”

“It’s a Mazda 626.” So I told the Henderson City Police, they told me who had towed it and gave me an address. They said there would be no fine.

A librarian offered to drive me to it, though the address didn’t match Google’s. We drove to the address given, and it was a crop production business. When I called the police, they insisted they gave me the right address and we were lost.

Then Nibby Priest, a dear friend who lives in Henderson, called me. He gave us the correct address, called the towing company, and they said they would have it waiting for me. As we struggled to find the towing company, he talked us by way of speaker phone through the neighborhood for the right house with the tow truck with my car on it.

Another librarian called me various times as we searched for my car, and she met us at the tow truck to make sure I was able to get my car and journey home. I was never so happy to drive to my home sweet home.

Lessons from tonight?

  • Even when bad things happen, good friends can help you survive them.
  • Henderson, KY and Evansville, IN are full of nice people willing to help others.
  • I don’t need to watch reality TV because I live it.
  • My life is a string of adventures that mix Charles Dickens with Bridget Jones with Lucille Ball.
  • If I teach the night before Henderson’s Handy Blues Fest, I’ll pick my parking spot more carefully.

Thanks to the Henderson County Public Library, Nibby, and all my friends who pitched in to help me find my car so I can click my heels and say, 

“There’s no place like home. And no car like my…..blue one with 4 doors.”


Breadmaking and Social Marketing

Breadmaking can teach us a lot about social media and marketing.

I bake bread, and I’m a wheat snob. We have a tabletop wheat grinder, and I buy my wheat in bulk, from Montana, in 50 pound buckets. Wheat isn’t ground until just before I make bread, to ensure the highest nutrition content and best flavor.

My personal favorite bread is a mix of freshly ground Prairie Gold and Bronze Chief wheats, with olive oil and local honey.  Sometimes, my recipe varies. Occasionally, I mix the good wheat with processed white flour, vegetable oil, and white sugar. When I have plenty of time, I’ll add in sourdough for an extra zing.

When I make my bread, I use my Kitchenaid to mix it, making enough for 3 loaves at a time. (Teen-aged sons have huge appetites.) I don’t follow an exact recipe. Humidity impacts whether I use more or less flour, and I pour it in by the 1/3 cup and finally tablespoon at the end until it looks right. Pizza dough and dinner rolls have their own variations as well. When the dough “looks right” and bounces back, I often dust it with flour for a final knead by hand.

Lots of lessons apply to social media and marketing:

  • Know your audience. Choose the ingredient mix your audience likes best.
  • Select your end product before you begin. My dinner rolls use milk and butter. My bread uses water. My pizza dough has a mix of bread, all-purpose, and fresh wheat flours. Knowing what you want to make helps you efficiently gather your materials with the least waste.
  • Technology helps. I used to knead all bread by hand. My Kitchenaid helps me multitask and uniformly blends the yeast into the dough. High-tech tools can save you time with social media for a better end product.
  • The personal touch still matters. I tweak each batch’s ingredients according to climate, and I always knead by hand at the end. Social media still requires a human personal touch. Your gut instinct on what feels right and works well improves with time and experience.
  • Blend old school and new school according to needs. If it were up to me, I would be a purist with fresh, local ingredients. There is still a place for the white flour and white sugar, used in the right amounts at the right times in the right products. With social media, don’t throw out all old school marketing tools and techniques; they can still fill a role when used well.
  • Rising takes time. Don’t rush your bread. My dough rises once on its own and a second time once I put it into pans. The sourdough that can take twice as long to rise will give a zing that can’t be matched. The same holds true of some marketing campaigns.
  • Keep watch and baby it while it bakes. If you want an extra shine, brush an egg, milk, or butter wash on your bread just before baking or brush a butter wash on it just after baking. That sourdough crust might have a better texture if you put a pan of water in the oven while it bakes. All marketing requires that same watchful eye for adjustments and tweaking.
  • Timing while baking matters. Don’t bake it enough, and it’s gooey in the middle. Bake it too long, and it’s burned. Remove it from the pan after it’s done to cool, or the sides get too soft.  Make sure you end your marketing campaign at the right time.
  • Leave them wanting more. Don’t oversaturate your market but always give them just enough to fill the appetite but want more next time.

Businesses that master the perfect mix of old school, new technology, a personal touch, and timing by way of social media will enjoy the same sweet success I savor when a great loaf of bread comes out of my oven.


Speak With Confidence…to Build Your Network

Problem:

Where do I begin to organize a presentation?

A friend asks me that at least once a month. Maybe it’s an elevator speech for a new business. It could be an invitation to speak to a room full of prospective clients. Or a business owner needs to demonstrate a new product for current clients.

Speaking in public scares me…

Some will mention pre-speaking nerves. I still have them.  There are ways to overcome that fear and use it to give your presentation more punch.

Our Solution:

Speak With Confidence…To Build Your Network program by Kimberly Delcoco and me.

DATES:  Wednesday – April 20, April 27, May 4 & May 11

TIME:  2:00PM – 5:00PM

LOCATION:  Hulman Building in Downtown Evansvile, 20 NW 4th Street, Third Floor Conference Room

LIMITED TO 13 PARTICIPANTS TO ALLOW PROPER TIME TO WORK TOGETHER 

Gain confidence and learn in a safe environment at only $197 total per participant for all four sessions.

Click here to enroll now. 

Why I’m Excited About This Program:

  • Last fall, I attended Kim’s Living Hell to Living Well program which helped me refocus my life and balance my priorities. During the weekend retreat, Kim encouraged and guided us to search our hearts, dig deeper, and develop plans to improve our lives. Kim empowers and respects everyone she works with, inspiring them to reach their goals.
  • Speaking in public and helping others do the same has always been a passion for me. For five years, I taught public speaking classes to teen, and I’ve coached adults with their presentations for a lifetime.
  • My students have placed in national speech contests, won state demonstration contests, and one uses her speaking skills as Miss Vanderburgh County. Now, I get to use my experiences to help friends working in business
  • I love to help people not only conquer their fears but build their strengths to develop their unique voice to become better speakers.

I hope you will join Kim and me on our public speaking adventure!


Yep, Robin’s the Real YaYa

Dear Facebook administrators,

Robin is the Real Deal.

I fully support your Terms of Service, have blogged about them, and often urge people to follow them more carefully. If a business uses a profile instead of a page or if a person has multiple profiles, is too young, or tries to conduct business on Facebook, I warn them they risk having their account disabled.

Recently, a friend of mine’s account was mistakenly disabled because it was determined she wasn’t a real person. Robin Kling Lax IS a real person! As she’s struggled to have her account reinstated, I offered to blog to assure you she’s not just a real person but is the real deal. The picture with this blog shows Robin with her sister, daughter, and niece, cheering runners in a local half marathon after they had spent the morning serving them water during the race. Robin’s the one in the grass skirt – you gotta have a lot of heart to wear a grass skirt on a hot day just to encourage runners.

When George Bailey  suddenly didn’t exist in It’s a Wonderful Life, all of Bedford Falls suffered. The same thing would happen in Evansville without Robin. Here are some of the ways Robin impacts our community:

  • Wife and mom of two
  • Schoolteacher
  • Founder and president of the YaYa Extension Homemaker Club, where she helps moms come together to have fun together while we help our community and learn new skills. And she’s nice enough to welcome a mom like me who sews with a staple gun and still does it badly.

I don’t know how you make your decisions on who’s real and who’s not. Please reconsider and reinstate Robin.

She spent her Sunday morning as a volunteer serving water and cheering runners in a marathon. In the marathon of life, I treasure the people who encourage and help others. The world and Facebook would be better served with more encouragers and helpers.

Thanks,

Mary Biever

P.S. You’re welcome to share this blog on your Facebook wall.


Keep Walking…

This morning, as I helped at a water station at a half marathon, a lady sped by wearing a shirt that said on it, “Keep Walking.” As the marathon concluded, as I stood by the finish line cheering those who finished, she walked by, still strong and steady, with her shirt’s saying in front.

Keep Walking.

Those who finished encouraged others to finish their own races, sometimes running beside them.

How do we keep walking when we’re hot, tired, thirsty, and don’t feel up to another step? Watching the marathoners today reminded me of steps to success:

  1. Set a goal. Commit to an external goal. Sign up for it and tell your friends what your goal is.
  2. Prepare. Set a training schedule so you’ll be ready for the big race.
  3. Pace yourself. Your training will help you set a pace you can complete. Better to complete the long haul than to sprint at the beginning and collapse.
  4. Position yourself among cheerleaders. The world is full of Debbie Downers who will help you discover any hidden self doubts and discourage you. Avoid the people who use words like fail, can’t, and stupid. Gravitate too those who cheer and encourage. One of my favorite parts of the half marathon conclusion was seeing people cheering strangers to meet their goal and give that last little bit to cross the finish line. J.J. organized our YaYa extension club to volunteer for two water booths – she’ in the photo cheering us on just as she cheered on those who finished the race.
  5. Hydrate. A long hot endurance race is not the time to prove you’re the tough guy. Get the water and the energy you need so you can cross the finish line.
  6. Keep walking. Don’t quit. Remember what got you to this point and keep going. Don’t think of the final mile. Think of the next step. With each step as you think of the next one, you’ll get through that final mile.
  7. Encourage Others After You Finish. After you meet your goal, encourage others on their own marathon. Encourage some who’ve never done a marathon to try it.

Not all marathons are run in tennis shoes. Some are family, personal, or business ones. Whatever your marathon,

Keep walking!

When you meet your goal, savor the moment that you fought the good fight and ran the hard race among a great cloud of witnesses. Savoring today’s victory makes it easy to set a goal for tomorrow and meet it.


First, Last, First Again

Eternal clockphoto © 2009 Robbert van der Steeg | more info (via: Wylio)
As the mother of teens aging faster than I can imagine, I’ve spent this spring feeling like a countdown is on. In just over a year, my daughter goes to college. Two years after that, my son leaves. Already, I’m being hit with “lasts.” There are some things she is ending now, because she’s narrowing her focus her senior year to what interests her the most. Last concerts. Last field days. 

My life this spring was measured in spoons full of last, last, last, last. With each, the taste grew more bittersweet. 

On the rare occasions both kids are home and have family time, I savor and try to make the most of it.  It may not be a “last,” but it is a “passing fast.”

In the process, I forgot the Bible verse that the last will be first and the first will be last.  As I think of the lasts, my kids seize the ladle of life and go for firsts - first jobs, first driving experiences, first solo ventures.

This is not a funeral, and I need to adjust my attitude. Instead, it is a springtime of renewal, where I get to see my kids venture on their own paths, to discover and pursue their own dreams.

Go for it!