Buyer Beware!

Recently I decided to test out some of the ads that appear on Facebook. Specifically, I reviewed ads that promoted SEO, blogging, and novel writing. Out of 20 ads only two turned out to be useful. You can email me if you would like to know what I liked.  The other 18 were well-hyped trash.

One ad redirected me to the oldest ad on the web. You probably remember those ads which seemed to be at least two miles long promising everything under the sun. Along those two miles every foot there was a button to buy now and save before the price goes up or until the offer is fully booked.

Another promised a lifestyle on the beach by becoming a writer. First take our three $ figure course and you can write from the sand.

Another filled my inbox with so much crap I unsubscribed.

Another had a limited offer if you pay a nominal shipping charge. That limited time offer has been ongoing for three months and counting.

Still another promised that you could write an ebook in less than a day and make big bucks.

What these mavens of “information” don’t tell you is that you need to check your brain at the door. They really are not interested in you becoming a better blogger, or SEO expert, or novelist. They want you to spend money on their product period.  Whether you are a success or not is irrelevant just buy my product.

Their other goal is to capture your email address so they can flood your inbox with solicitations for more crap. Snake oil salespeople know once they obtain a critical mass of email addresses a certain percentage will respond to their offers. With a large enough database even a $2 profit can generate money.

After reading several different blog freebies you realize that there is nothing new under the sun. The freebies essentially say the same things. The problem is nothing is free! How much would you charge someone to read their material? How much is an hour of your time worth? How many lost opportunities do you miss because you spent time on Facebook and then in your email inbox awaiting the guaranteed way to make a six-figure income?

The two websites for writers I found interesting and invested my time and money were hype-free and straightforward. No insults to my intelligence. No absurd promises. No promises to make one a great writer and cure cancer or bring world peace with the purchase of their product.

In retrospect maybe the other 18 sites were just promoting “sales fiction” writing.

Buyer beware my friends!

Frank

 

 

 

Should we watch the Super Bowl?

The biggest television event of the year will one day cost family and society as some of the players succumb to CTE due to concussions.

I know I am troubled by this fact. I have to work a Super Bowl party by a local Lions club. The money raised will fund college scholarships. Does a good deed cancel out the bad? It is an ethical question that many are now trying to resolve in their own minds and then society.

What is your opinion? Will you watch or will you obstain?

If you want a great life write an essay!

To create a life worth living one you need to realize that life is an essay.

Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, “Is life a multiple choice test or is it a true or false test?” …Then a voice comes to me out of the dark and says, “We hate to tell you this but life is a thousand word essay.” Charles M. Schulz the creator of the Peanuts. 

writing-828911_1280Charles’ words are ripe for discernment in today’s climate. Whether it is politics, relationships, business, yes even kids sports and other activities, people are looking for quick and easy answers. We wish to identify what to undertake so we can proceed on to the next task. If life was a true false test, you have a 50/50 chance for accomplishment. Mathematicians tell us that if you flip a coin 100 times the results would most likely would be 50 heads and 50 tails. When someone has a 50/50 chance to succeed in life, living would be a breeze.

I enjoyed multiple choice tests because I knew the correct answer was there somewhere. If I did not recognize the answer I could eliminate say 2 out of the four choices and I could have a 50/50 chance at being right.

Unfortunately, as Charles Schultz once heard from God or the Universe, “We hate to tell you this, but life is a thousand word essay.” Too many politicians, companies, churches, and other institutions peddle the illusion of easy answers. Just commit to my 3-point plan for solving global warming states a politician. Companies sell their products because they are the instant answer to your anxiety, your fear, or your need to get the stain out, or make raising your kids easier.

Unfortunately, life is not that way. We may prefer the easy road out but in life there is no easy answers. Why? Life is very complex for easy questions and easy answers. To create a life worth living one you need to realize that life is an essay. Successfully answering an essay takes time, research, sweat, and a sleepless night or two to build a good result. Creating one’s life is worth a similar effort.

In my life I have been a banker, and IT consultant, and a pastor of a church. I have earned two master’s degrees, one a Master of Divinity and an MBA. As I look back over my journey, I realized I never jumped into any of those positions because it was easy. Each time I started a new essay I did the research, sweated and had plenty of sleepless nights. While my journey has been a little crazy, I would not have it any other way. The common thread through my life is that I was willing to write an essay instead of choosing a 50/50 opportunity or guessing my way through a multiple choice test.

My life essays have allowed me to meet a wide variety of people, visit several companies big and small. Along the way I helped people make good decisions through assisting them good essays for their lives, companies, and organizations.

If you are finding yourself wishing for an easy test for your life’s quandaries I urge you to consider writing an essay instead. What does writing a life essay entail? Stop by next week for more.

Frank

 

 

 

 

Four statements of Wisdom

The Chief Inspector Armand Gamache book series is written by Louise Penny Louise Penny’s website

Penny originally began writing a historical novel but changed to mystery writing after finding trouble finishing. She entered the first book of the series, Still Life, in the “Debut Dagger” competition in the United Kingdom, placing second out of 800 entries.

The series is based on the character of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. The stories take place usually in the village of Three Pines, with Gamache investigating the murders of various people in each novel. They have been described as “character-driven” mysteries that explore the relationships between characters with each book in the series. Three Pines is a fictional location set in the province of Quebec, with Penny setting up the characters using the history of old Canada to show their personalities and backgrounds. In the series, a few of the plots are set outside of Three Pines.

Inspector Gamache is a likable, honest man who gets placed in the most trying situations in a dirty police department. One of the reasons he survives is that he is a kind soul and plays by four statements of wisdom. Those statements are:

I don’t know

I was wrong

I am sorry

I need help

Throughout the Inspector Gamache mystery series, these four statements have helped him solve crimes, patch relationships, and become a better man. He tries to teach these four statements to his recruits and reinforce those statements to senior officers.

What I find amazing is that these statements do work. Recently I stepped in it big time. As I tried to manage the situation, I found that each of these statements worked for me. It did not change the outcome, but it provides wisdom to me as I walked the path I set in motion.

So I challenge you to think about something in your past and follow these statements to see if the statements provide wisdom to you.

Until next time,

Frank Szewczyk

 

Why I like January and yes I am crazy!

pexels-photo-688660.jpegI have come to like January for a couple of reasons. First, January signals the end of all the holiday madness. I love the holidays, but I also crave resumption to a routine. The holidays disrupt our normal flow of life which in turn disrupts our souls.

In December we are torn between meeting the needs of family and friends and living our lives in a peaceful way manner. If you have kids to buy presents for there is always the pain of them wanting too much versus what’s in your wallet. Add to that parties and gatherings and life gets very messy. When I hit January, I breathe a sigh of relief because now I can focus on the new beginnings that a new year holds.

Second, I like January because January provides a starting point to orientate our lives. Some of you may call your new year resolutions. I prefer to call it a reorientation for the new year.

For example, I recently retired early to pursue my dream of writing full-time. In the past week, I have created two blogs, outlined a mystery novel and took steps to add a stream of income. Reorientation is more powerful than any new years resolution because a resolution is singular like losing weight or reading more or being a better parent. The challenge is any change in our lives takes multiple steps. Losing weight not only means making healthy food choices, exercise, and a shift in psychology. A dieter needs to eat to live instead of living to eat. Most dieters just make one change, choosing different food, thus they fail because they have not addressed exercise and the mental changes they need to make.

When we are committed multiple steps in our change process, we are telling the universe/God that you are committed to changing your life thus the universe/God responds. Why? If you are committed there will be no wasted resources. For example, when you join a gym you might employ a trainer. If you are only half-hearted in your efforts, you have wasted the trainers time and you have spent funds that could have been used differently. If you are dedicated to reorientation and making the appropriate changes, then the power in the Universe/God works behind the scenes to bring the right people and information into your life.

Contrary to some beliefs, the Universe is charged by God to support us in our journey thru life. We have a choice. We can either find the stream of life that supports us or swim upstream trying to make something out of nothing. So I say let go and let God supply what you need as you reorientate yourself in 2018.

Peace,

Frank Szewczyk

 

God is not out there!

sky-space-dark-galaxy.jpg

Richard Rohr is a Franciscan priest and Founder

for the Center for Action and Contemplation. His meditation for January 5th, 2018 is a powerful reminder that God is not out there.

From the Center for Action and Contemplation https://cac.org/

Where Is God?

Friday, January 5, 2018

When I was on retreat at Thomas Merton’s hermitage at Gethsemani Abbey in 1985, I had a chance encounter that has stayed with me all these years. I was walking down a little trail when I recognized a recluse, what you might call a hermit’s hermit, coming toward me. Not wanting to intrude on his deep silence, I bowed my head and moved to the side of the path, intending to walk past him. But as we neared each other, he said, “Richard!” That surprised me. He was supposed to be silent. How did he know who I was? “Richard, you get chances to preach and I don’t. Tell the people one thing.” Pointing to the sky, he said, “God is not ‘out there’!” Then he said, “God bless you,” and abruptly continued down the path.
The belief that God is “out there” is the basic dualism that is tearing us all apart. Our view of God as separate and distant has harmed our relationships with sexuality, food, possessions, money, animals, nature, politics, and our own incarnate selves. This loss explains why we live such distraught and divided lives. Jesus came to put it all together for us and in us. He was saying, in effect, “To be human is good! The material and the physical can be trusted and enjoyed. This physical world is the hiding place of God and the revelation place of God!”
Far too much of religion has been about defining where God is and where God isn’t, picking and choosing who and what has God’s image and who and what doesn’t. In reality, it’s not up to us. We have no choice in the matter. All are beloved. Everyone—Catholic and Protestant, Christian and Muslim, black and white, gay and straight, able-bodied and disabled, male and female, Republican and Democrat—all are children of God. We are all members of the Body of Christ, made in God’s image, indwelled by the Holy Spirit, whether or not we are aware of this gift.
Can you see the image of Christ in the least of your brothers and sisters? This is Jesus’ only description of the final judgment (Matthew 25). But some say, “They smell. They’re a nuisance. They’re on welfare. They are a drain on our tax money.” Can we see Christ in all people, even the so-called “nobodies” who can’t or won’t play our game of success? When we can see the image of God where we don’t want to see the image of God, then we see with eyes not our own.
Jesus says we have to love and recognize the divine image even in our enemies. Either we see the divine image in all created things, or we don’t see it at all.Once we see God’s image in one place, the circle keeps widening. It doesn’t stop with human beings and enemies and the least of our brothers and sisters. It moves to frogs and pansies and weeds. Everything becomes enchanting with true sight. We cannot not live in the presence of God. We are totally surrounded and infused by God. All we can do is allow, trust, and finally rest in it, which is indeed why we are “saved” by faith—faith that this could be true.

Gateway to Presence:

If you want to go deeper with today’s meditation, take note of what word or phrase stands out to you. Come back to that word or phrase throughout the day, being present to its impact and invitation.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Creation as the Body of God,” Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth, ed. Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee (The Golden Sufi Center: 2013), 235-241; and

Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2003), 58-59, 117-119.