Category Archives: Self-help

Monday School Blog: GPS to Heaven, please

Welcome to Monday School!  This is where you don’t have to dress up or get out of bed.

Besides being a self-ordained female teacher and believing that females can also lead, there are several other reasons I encourage Monday school.

My lessons will provide:

1) Reasons why you should never put your trust in a Sunday school lesson or any religion that purports to have all the answers—or anyone who says they have all the answers 2) Emphasis on the here and now with earthly rewards and 3) Free-thought.

If there is a heaven, I would like a GPS navigating me.  There are too many religions that believe they have the “true” “one and only” “perfect” map to heaven. I refuse to put my life on hold while I study every religion and set of scriptures out there.  Have you ever had a library of the Journal of Discourses? Read the entire Bible, Torah, Quran?  These scriptures are about men, men, men.  Where are the women?


If I had not grown up in a Mormon family, I could have been a Catholic, Baptist, Jehovah Witness, Scientologist, Christian, Islamic, or a member of any number of religions. I could have spent my life worshipping a false God and bickering with other people because I thought my religion was best.  Or, I could have remained silent and smug.

Although religion is not for me—it is for some people.  The truth is I get anxious making certain I get to work on time, let alone trying to get to heaven on time or navigating the right path to get there.

As I go through life, I choose and pick teachings from various sources that work for me (last week I picked Weight Watchers). Much of my ethics and lifestyle comes from my Mormon background, and much of my wisdom comes from experience.  Mistakes and all.

I remember as a kid in Sunday school learning the importance of scriptures, and how following the word of God was supposed to guide me to heaven.

My Sunday school teacher compared the scriptures and modern day teachings to a roadmap and signs, and asked her class, “Can you imagine what would happen if we didn’t have a map or use stop lights?”


All I could imagine was an intersection of colliding cars. I never considered that the stop signs and lights (hateful scriptures I was reading about minorities—including the subjugation of women) were old, and needed replacing.  I never considered that each driver was unique, and may have wanted to use a different route.

As a child, I never contemplated that individuals choose different places to visit and live, and it was perfectly okay to be different.

In early morning family scripture reading, I also remember reading about another journey using the Liahona. This story in the “Book of Mormon” was about Lehi’s family who traveled through the wilderness together with brass plates (important history), so they could reach the Promised Land. The Liahona was a compass given to Lehi from God, which if faithful and obedient guided his family. Some of the family members, the brothers Laman and Lemuel, often acted out and were disobedient. In this particular story, at least the part I remember, one bad apple or unfaithful family member spoiled the rest.  There were treacherous times at sea because when the brothers were rebellious the waters became thrashing waves, nearly drowning the family.  After being humbled and repenting, the sea became calm.  (Finally man was separated by skin color).


As a young child, the compass story helped reinforce family togetherness, and the importance of God’s chosen sticking together. At a tender age, I never considered that scripture stories could be made-up stories to produce a certain controlled behavior.  I never realized that someday many Mormons, including myself, would walk the plank for asking questions, and not sharing the same testimony.

I can understand—sometimes paths are not the same.  Sometimes forks are in the road, but the path you chose is the right path no matter how hard or difficult.  (I will write about free-agency later).  Regardless, we can still be kind and loving.

The straight and narrow path leading to the tree of life was another map story in the Book of Mormon.  As a child, I believed there was only one way to get to heaven.  I never thought about how my religious leaders, who were telling me how to get to heaven, had never been there themselves.  (Btw: Who hires a tour guide who hasn’t ever been to the spot they advertise?)

narrow path and tree of life

I had always trusted the person leading me. I never considered that the map my teachers were using, the scriptures, were older than a scene from the “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.  I never considered that my religious leaders, who were supposed to be an updated version of a map, were really caught between two worlds—the old and the new. Plus, they were men holding onto the same archaic ideologies they had been taught.

Though the world is filled with people committing horrific human rights violations—I believe we are not going backwards.  I believe we are continually evolving.

This week I watched this You Tube video from a father who composed a song for his daughters. I love this because it represents moving forwards—not only do we have technology to create music videos for the world to see, which can support cultural diversity and send positive messages to our children, it represents the power we each have to make a difference in this world.

Love Yourself

Youtube Video

Mormon Sunday school taught a message of loving your neighbor as yourself, yet the people we really need to love are often the non-neighbor – “those over there” (poor, homeless, needy,  people that are different, etc..).

There are many contradictions in life.

Last week I started Weight Watchers and I am not a fan of Oprah Winfrey.  In fact, I believe she has been very irresponsible when it involves educating the public about polygamy.  No biggie— I will still go to my WW meetings, and look at the Oprah poster on the wall.  (Self-talk) I will separate my personal biases because I don’t have to believe or love everything about Oprah to go to Weight Watchers.  I know the program works.

Likewise, although I am not a Christian, many individuals and families find inspiration from attending church. I went to church a couple weeks ago to listen to some jazz music.  I was grateful for the religious leaders hosting an important event for children, and providing a beautiful venue.  Next month, I am working alongside a church that helps the homeless because I believe in volunteerism and clergy-community action.

There are so many options and choices.

Interesting articles & images this week (topics of future blogposts):

War Criminal





Adolf Eichmann

Psychic      Expensive Psychic



Choices and Consequences…..




I believe that direction and guidance are very important; part of our human nature is following others.  Unlike many of our non-human friends, we are able to use our cognitive abilities. That is what Monday School is about—learning to control our own life, and not be controlled by others.

M-1441 - MAY 11, 2002 - WALTHAM : Blissfully unaware of traffic, a Canada goose and her young cross busy Winter Street at the intersection of Route 128 , Tuesday afternoon, May 7, 2002 in Waltham, Mass. The very young siblings followed their mother's every move to and from nearby Totten Pond. AP/PTI

Have a nice week!

Pushing for Personal Integrity with Derren Brown

Last week I watched Derren Brown, a mentalist and illusionist on a YouTube video Pushed to the Edge.  Brown’s pseudo-experiment was taken to the extreme; his goal was to take people to the very limit — to find out if they would kill.  His production spared little expense.

According to Brown the crucial point of his show was to demonstrate “how readily we hand over authorship over our lives every day and the dangers of losing that control . . . how someone can be easily influenced, and also how a person can influence others.”

That’s what this writing is about.

During the show there were three separate incidents where a participant was talked into pushing an innocent man off the edge of a high-rise building.  Only one out of the four participants refused to push the elderly gentleman off the edge.  One of the shocking results of this experiment is that it only took about an hour for each participant to be persuaded to kill (fortunately, it was an actor being pushed off the building with ropes and not a real person).

The Push Darren Brwon copy

How does this happen?

As I watched this YouTube video, I thought about all the male leaders in my life, dead and alive, who led me into danger, and didn’t give a shit about whether they hurt me or not because their end justified the means.

Similar to Derren Brown’s instigator in the show (it could have been a real psychopath and/or sociopath), these individuals find susceptible victims and determine how best to manipulate them.

What every human has in common, the function of behavior, is to either get something or escape something.  It is that simple.  A sociopath studies the unsuspecting victim and what she wants, or what she wants to avoid.  (I was an easy target who had never been taught the warning signs of a predator.  I wanted love, acceptance, and family.  I also wanted to avoid hurting others, lessen conflict, avoid damnation, etc.).

During my days as a Mormon, and in my intimate relationship with my husband as a plural-wife, I never knew about religious abuse, or heard the phrase “personality disorder”.  In church we never discussed subjects such as group-think, conformity, patriarchal cultures, domestic abuse, sexual assault in a marriage, or the importance of boundaries and critical thinking skills.  If that had occurred, no one would have attended Sunday School.

Here’s my Monday School blogpost:

First of all, since sociopaths don’t change, and most often their followers are content dangling by a string (until it snaps), this blogpost is not for them.


Education can only help those people who want to be helped; it is also best served before the manipulation process begins. That right there is the key. It is extremely difficult to regain power once it is given away (or stolen), and it takes years to heal from the trauma.

victim mindset


How compliance works from “Pushed to the Edge”:

My visual aide this morning is “Pushed to the Edge” (it is worth watching, even if you cringe wondering about ethics and if the participants were fully compensated for their part).  

Derren Brown held a compliance test to find out who was the most impressionable; he explained that “the more socially compliant person the more they will look to others for a sign to behave.” (Sociopaths look for a person they can manipulate and control).

  • Once Derren Brown had his “follower”—someone he knew was easily influenced, he created a situation where the “leader” asked the follower to do something uncomfortable and each task became increasingly more challenging. (A sociopath creates situations to reel his victim in and his requests become greater until he has achieved what he wants).
  • The follower (or pusher) was in a lower status position, and this alone influenced the victim’s decision-making. (A socio-path puts himself in a position of authority because it gives him more influence).
  • Each time the follower was involved in something unethical; it created a stronger bond between him and his leader, and among the group. (A socio-path cements his relationship by holding something over someone. This is also true of a community of followers; they love to find favor with the leader even if it means tattling on each other).

There were also other examples of manipulating and compliance in Brown’s show—the instigator/leader brought in influential people, such as celebrities, for validation. (Sociopaths always use other people to help influence). Subliminal words and messages were used like “it needs a push,” “push into action” – which ultimately helped solidify pushing someone off the edge of a building.  One of the participants had the same surname as someone in the group (fictitious or non-fictitious commonalities such as a name, ethnicity, religious background, birthplace, family members and friends etc. help bond the victim to her perpetrator).

Derren Brown’s message: “This experiment wasn’t about who pushed, and who didn’t.  This was designed to make the participants act in a way that went away from their decent values, morals and personalities.  The point is we are all profoundly susceptible to this kind of influence whether it is driven by our peer group or an ideology.  It is like we are handed other people’s scripts of how to live our life to achieve their ambitions and beliefs.  But by understanding it, by understanding how we can be manipulated, we can become stronger.  We can say ‘No’.  We can push back.”

Even if humans were raised the same, had the same personalities, same IQ level, same experiences, no two people are the same.  Besides that, it’s illogical playing the blame game, because it doesn’t help.  The only change people can make is by taking accountability for their own actions.

One of Derren Brown’s four followers, who was compliant throughout the entire experiment until the very end, and who did not push the elderly man off the building explained, “You can’t always live your life on guard because then you live your life constantly on edge, which is not a good way to be.  But when certain situations present themselves think about it before you act on it and ask yourself what am I doing? ”

Stanley Milgram, a grandfather of social psychology, who created a somewhat similar experiment said, “The social psychology of this century reveals a major lesson: often it is not so much the person a man is as the kind of situation in which he finds himself that determines how he will act.”

Derren Brown’s experiment, and what individuals did on his show, went far beyond what I ever experienced.  I am fortunate to be alive and well.  In case you want to know (this is me bearing my testimony):  Although I avoid religion, and people who do all the thinking for me, I am not cynical. I now pick the right friends and associates. heart



I Love My Body!