Jeannie ~ My Wake-Up Angel

I met Jeannie when I was 9.  She was 12.   She lived behind my cousin’s house in a 2nd floor apartment.  My cousin and I were the same age and were together often until I met Jeannie who had authentic red hair, blue eyes and loads of freckles.   My cousin didn’t understand why she wasn’t included when we were together, but we didn’t play like cousin and I did ~ Jeannie played religious school with me.

She attended a Catholic school in the next town; about 1.5 miles away.   Although I was born a Catholic and by age 9 had received First Holy Communion, our family then were Easter and Christmas attendees.  Every day Jeannie wore a gray plaid jumper uniform to school unlike my outfits to public school.  What stands out most about her is she would go over all her papers from school with me which always had her initialed cross on the top.  I learned as much from Jeannie about God, the church and its sacraments as  I did for a year at faith classes.  She instilled a love and reverence about God and the Bible I hadn’t had before.

Her love of faith included coming to my house at 8:00 am every Sunday morning for the 9:00 am children’s mass.  I was always asleep and my mom would yell, “Jeannie’s here for church”.   I always went.  We walked there together every Sunday where I learned about being in God’s House for the Sabbath.

We moved when I was 12 and I didn’t see much of Jeannie after that.  Saw her when I was in my 20s – she was married & with her husband.  We talked about getting together but we lived a distance away.

Many years had passed when I was attending a faith sharing class and we were asked who was our foundation in faith?  I immediately thought of  Jeannie.  I thought about her all that day and tried to call her through her brother who was the only name listed locally.   He remembered me and told me the sad news that she had recently passed – having had a weak heart since childhood.  I never knew she did.  We both cried.  I remembered her birth date and told him I would have a mass said for her and would send him the notice.

The only opening my church had on that date for her mass was not held at the church; it was in the Catholic school where masses are said one day a week.   I made the date for her birthday at the school mass at 8:00 am which the school children usually attend.

But on that day several months later, I had forgotten the mass date.  Since I didn’t usually get up that early, I had not set the alarm that day.

Early that morning in the still darkness the day of her birthday,  I woke up suddenly out of my sleep and next to my bed was a white brightly shining figure standing next to me.  I was stunned but not afraid.   It looked like an angel and I had never had any visions or hallucinations my whole life.  Or was it a dream?  The vision was bright but not frightening. Then I saw red hair on this figure; immediately I said, “It’s Jeannie’s mass today”.

I jumped out of bed waking my husband up and we scurried to the school.   I was still stunned by the apparition .  We were there on time and when the mass started, the school children walked down the aisle to sit in the front and they had on uniforms.  The girls wore gray plaid jumpers.  Just like Jeannie’s.

I felt Jeannie’s presence there that day; the uniformed children were a special treat which would not have happened if I had the mass said instead at our church that day.   I found that more than coincidental that I could remember and pray for her by going back in time when she was that age.   Remembrances of her from others recall how kind and giving she was to all.  She lived her faith.   She took care of her ailing father and the night he died, she died also that night.

Do I believe it was Jeannie who woke me up for her mass?  Yes, I do.  How fitting my dear, sweet friend would come to my house at 8:00 am  to take me to church.

 

 

 

Older Workers – a Plus at Work

 

 

 

It’s a fact – the older you get, the wiser you are.   Now that’s a comforting thought. According to the daily news media, research supported by the Russell Sage (no pun intended) Foundation, the National Institute on Aging and the National Science Foundation Grant, indicates that socially, older folks, more than younger or middle-aged ones, are more apt to recognize and accept different values, acknowledge and accept uncertainties and changes in one’s life and to acknowledge others’ point of views.

So, mind and hire your elders!  It’s not as important in life and work  to know how the SEO works or how to program the DVR or how to text someone as it is to handle ‘social wisdom’ – how to get along with people and handle disagreements.

Researchers found that age affects wisdom at every social class, level of education and IQ. Even though older people don’t have the technological wisdom that younger ages have in computers and everyday technology, they do have the advantage of analyzing and solving social problems.

Demographic splits of groups numbering almost 300 — ages 25 to 40, 41 to 59 and 60 plus were given hypothetical situations regarding finance, economic growth, customs, and world problems. The researchers analyzed the results, not knowing which individual or group age the responses came from. Ratings were based on social interchanges such as compromise, flexibility, seeing the other viewpoint and mediating conflict resolution.

Then over 200 of the same groups participated in a second hypothetical area and yet a third comprising scholars, psychotherapists, clergy and counseling professionals.

The results of these tests concluded that economic status, education and IQ were related to having increased wisdom, but academics were no wiser than nonacademics with similar education levels. Researchers were surprised at how much wisdom the groups showed in disputing societal problems. Richard Nisbitt, one of the researchers said, “There is a very large advantage for older people over younger people for those (issues)”. Another researcher, Lynn Hasher remarked that “the study is the single best demonstration of long-held view that wisdom increases with age.”

She continues, “What I think is most important…is that it shows a major benefit that accrues with aging…rather than the mostly loss-based findings reported in psychology. As such it provides a richer base of understanding of aging processes.” She also cited the critical importance of workplaces providing the opportunity for older employees to continue to contribute.

Many work places do the opposite and retire aging employees and replace them with younger employees at a lower salary, compromising the experience and life situations these employees can contribute to the work force by their ongoing and diverse experiences.   More advantages:

1. They have good leadership skills. Older workers make good leaders because they often have stronger communication skills than their younger colleagues.  They remember a time when communication wasn’t dominated by email or texting.

2. They know what they want.   Older workers are more stable to stay at a job than to try to ‘climb the ladder” or job hop.

3. They’re loyal. Since older workers are typically more satisfied with their jobs, they also tend to stay.

4. They have a good work ethic. 90 percent of the respondents who were older said that being “ethical” is “extremely or very important” to workplace culture, the highest percentage of age-workers.

5. They have strong networks. Older workers have been in the workforce longer and they’ve had more time to meet people and network along the way.

Marie Coppola  Revised July 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bear Facts if You Encounter One

Black bears, the largest land mammals of South Carolina, once roamed the entire state. As human populations increase and development encroaches on their territories, there is more the likelihood of bear & human encounters.

Black bears are excellent climbers and good swimmers.     Bears prefer large expanses of forestry containing hardwoods, shrubs, blackberries, and pokeberries.  Wetlands such as swamps and bays also provide good habitat.   However, black bears are adaptable.  As long as they can find adequate food sources and have suitable den sites, black bears can be found in a variety of habitats..  They will feed on whatever is readily available.

Their natural diet consists of berries, nuts and plant matter (over 80 percent) as well as insects and meat (less than 20 percent). Bears use their incredible sense of smell to find alternative food sources such as garbage, bird feeders, outdoor pet food, agricultural crops, etc., which can result in them becoming nuisance bears. A shortage of natural food sources and lack of rainfall can cause home ranges to vary greatly. Black bears will travel large distances to find adequate food sources. In addition, juvenile bears, especially the males, must disperse to find new home territories. Dispersing juvenile bears have been sighted in many counties in South Carolina. These bears are usually transient and do not stay in the area for long.

Male black bears are generally larger than females. An average adult male can weigh between 150 – 350 pounds while the female averages between 100 -250 pounds. However, when food is plentiful, older bears have been documented at weights above 400-500 pounds. The largest black bear recorded in South Carolina was 609 pounds.  Their average life expectancy is 18 years in the wild.

Tammy Wactor, wildlife biologist with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, said there is an estimated 800-1,000 black bears across South Carolina, with most found in the more heavily forested and mountainous Upstate region, and a smaller population of 300-400 bears in the coastal areas (as of July 11, 2015).

Bears emerge fron their dens and come out looking for food in the spring ~ the peak of their breeding season is June, July, sometimes early August. They are most active at this time of year, and that, combined with habitat depletion, makes it more likely for humans to encounter them, and vice versa, said Kayla Brantley, a state bear biologist based in Horry County.

A state Department of Natural Resources official said it’s not a surprise that a bear was spotted crossing a street near homes just north of Myrtle Beach.

Black bears are not generally aggressive even when confronted by humans. However, due to their size, they need to be respected. No injuries or deaths have been attributed to black bears in South Carolina.

If you encounter one in your back yard like someone In the area of old Route 17 did recently when the bear was investigating their backyard cook-out (they left it and retreated into their home (and the bear had a gourmet meal).     If you find yourself in this situation, don’t corner the animal or make it feel threatened.   Stand your ground, and some say to raise your arms to appear larger.   Don’t run.  Slowly back up, keeping your eye on the bear (not eye contact)  and try to put more space between you and the bear.  Talk calmly so that it can identify you as human.   A good way to steer clear of any run-ins with a wild animal is to secure trash, take down any type of animal feeder at night and keep grills clean.

Marie Coppola  January 2017

Surviving the Holidays After Loss

When you’re grieving the death of a family member or friend, you may dread the holiday season. Thoughts of social gatherings, family traditions, and obligations leave you anxious and overwhelmed. Your sadness can seem unbearable. You may wish you could skip these next two months and go straight to the routine of the next year—but you can’t. What can you do to lessen your stress and loneliness?   The holidays trigger tough emotions.

You can start by learning what emotions are normal and to be expected when facing the holidays without your loved one. “If you’re feeling overwhelmed as this holiday season approaches, that’s very normal,” advised psychologist Dr. Susan Zonnebelt-Smeenge, whose husband died. “You’re probably wondering how you’re going to handle this and are unsure of what course to take. I want to assure you that you can get through these holidays, and hopefully you can even find moments of joy.”

When you know what to expect, you won’t be rendered helpless as holiday events trigger unexpected emotions. Make a point to spend time talking with people who have experienced a past loss and have already been through a holiday season without their loved one. They can help you have an idea of typical emotions and emotional triggers to expect. These people can also provide much-needed comfort and support.

Create a holiday plan.    Another important step in surviving the holidays is to create a healthy plan for the coming season. “Planning does help you to have a little control, even when you feel totally out of control,” said Dr. Zonnebelt-Smeenge. A healthy plan involves making decisions in advance about traditions, meals, time spent with others, holiday decorating, gift-giving, and commitments.

You will likely not have the energy or the interest in doing as much as you have in past years. Decide ahead of time which invitations you’ll accept, and let the host or family member know that you might leave early. Consider whether your decorating will be different this year: perhaps a smaller tree or simpler ornaments. If you cook or bake, cut back.

Make a list of every holiday tradition you can think of, from music to presents to outings. Then decide which traditions will be too difficult without your deceased loved one, which traditions you’d like to maintain, and what new traditions you can start this year.

Communicate with your family and friends.    What’s also helpful in facing the holidays is to communicate your specific concerns and needs with your family and friends. People in grief are often tempted to put on a mask and pretend things are fine, especially over the holidays. “I didn’t want to put on a damper on anyone else’s joy,” shared Mardie. “So I put on a happy face and tried to be the sister, the daughter, the aunt, that everybody wanted to see. Putting on that happy face was a heavier burden than I was emotionally able to carry at the time.”

Your friends may want you to “cheer up” and “have fun,” when that’s the last thing you want. Others will avoid you because they don’t know what to say and don’t want to make you feel worse. Some family members will give you wrong advice in a misguided attempt to help. All of these people likely mean well, but will only end up hurting you if you don’t communicate what you truly need from them.

As difficult as this may be, it’s important to tell people what they can do to help and what they are doing that isn’t helping. And if you don’t have the energy or inclination to talk to people face-to-face, then write your thoughts, concerns, and needs in a letter or email. What’s important is that you are being honest and gracious in your communication.

In describing the first holiday dinner after she was widowed, Dr. Zonnebelt-Smeenge said, “It seemed like no one wanted to talk about my husband. I kept waiting for somebody to bring up [his name]. After a while I couldn’t stand it anymore. I excused myself and left and bawled all the way home. Later I decided maybe they were waiting for me to decide if it was okay to talk about him; maybe they were afraid if they said anything, they’d make me feel worse. From that time on when I went to an event, I found a way to let people know I wanted to talk about him and I wanted to hear their stories.”

So where can you find out what emotions to expect over the holidays, how to create a healthy plan and how to communicate with family and friends these coming weeks?

A “Surviving the Holidays” free seminar on this coming Sunday,  November 4th, 2018  at  Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, 8th Avenue N, North Myrtle Beach, SC from 1:45 PM to 4:00 pm, offers practical, actionable strategies for making it through the holiday season. At this two-hour seminar, you’ll view a video featuring advice from people in grief who’ve faced the holidays after their loss. You’ll hear insights from respected Christian counselors, pastors, and psychologists. You’ll receive a Holiday Survival Guide with practical strategies, encouraging words, helpful exercises, Q/As, and journaling ideas for daily survival through the holiday season.

At GriefShare Surviving the Holidays, you’ll meet with other grieving people who have an understanding of what you’re going through. They won’t judge you or force you to share, but will accept you where you are and will offer comfort and support. “When I went to GriefShare,” said Marion, “I realized there are different ways to grieve.”  It is a confidential, compassionate and safe environment.

Your holiday season won’t be easy; your emotions may ambush you and suck you under at times. But you can choose to walk through this season in a way that honors your loved one and puts you on the path of health and healing.

To register or to find out more about GriefShare Surviving the Holidays, call Fran @ 843-399-8196 or Our Lady Star of the Sea Church @ 843-249-2356.

Lice Alert Compilation of Tips & Facts

Reports show 42 out of 48 states tested are overrun by this so-called super lice, according to the Journal of Medical Entomology.  In these 42 states, reported by  NBC’s Today Show,  100 percent of the lice tested were resistant to over-the-counter treatments. the critter has developed a resistance to commonly used over-the-counter treatments, like Rid and Nix.  The products that are over the .counter have been out for 30 years. Just like germs build up resistance to antibiotics, lice build up resistance to these products just from overuse.

For over-the-counter lice medication, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking products like A-200, Pronto, R&C, Rid, Triple X and Licide, all of which contain pyrethrins combined with piperonyl butoxide.

Some things one can do to it lice or nits are found in hair:

Use a lice comb and go through the hair strand by strand to remove all nits.

Have girls wear their hair in a pony tail or braided.  (Now I know the reason all four of us sisters had braided hair in elementary school.)

Use a minty or peppermint spray on the hair every morning

Check your child’s hair once a week to catch it early.   {A Compilation of various media sources & Coastal Lice Center).

Kids often transfer lice to each other while playing together, on the athletic field or locker room, or gymnastics class.

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a report which recommends schools eliminate their “no nit” policy, which required a child be free of nits before they can return to school. Under their recommendation, if a child has head lice, they should finish the school day, get treatment and return to school.l00

It should be understood that acquiring head lice is not a result of poor hygiene. The reality however, is that lice are human parasites that require human blood to survive and are transferred from head to head.

The lice eggs, or “nits,”themselves are not contagious, but it’s the adult active lice that are. Once the eggs are laid— on the hair shaft, close to the scalp— they have 7 to 10 days until they hatch. If they’re not removed before they hatch, baby lice or nymphs become adult lice within 1 to 2 weeks and leave the eggshell behind.

Although you can see the eggs, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to see the live lice unless there’s a severe infestation. The eggs are clear or white and unlike dandruff, you won’t be able to pull it off with your fingers.

Additionally, although many children will scratch the back of their heads or around their ears, many show no signs of lice because they’re not allergic to the lice saliva which causes itchiness

If you can find lice early, it’s much easier to get rid of them quickly and prevent it from turning into a large infestation, check your child’s scalp at bath time or when brushing her hair with a special nit comb. Also, ask your child’s school to notify you if there are reported cases of head lice.

If you choose to treat your child at home, you must remove both the lice and the eggs.  Although there are over-the-counter products and prescription medications available, there is not one product on the market that has 100 percent ovicidal effects on the eggs, meaning it will kill all the eggs.

You’ll need a nit comb with microgrooves that can wrap around the hair strands and drag everything off. You also have to comb the hair strand by strand for two weeks to make sure all of the nits are completely gone.

There are however, nearby professional centers that offer natural, effective treatments and do all of the hard work for you.

Head lice can survive off the scalp for up to two days. Don’t go into a cleaning frenzy, but you may vacuum carpets, couches and car seats. Since lice don’t burrow like bed bugs, you can put a sheet on your couch for 24 hours to create a barrier.

Extreme heat and cold temperatures kill lice, so throw pillows, blankets, stuffed animals and hats in the dryer for 30 minutes in high heat. Wash and boil hairbrushes, combs and hair clips and put helmets in a bag and leave it in the freezer for several hours.

Although there is a stigma attached to head lice and many parents and kids are embarrassed to admit they have it, it’s important to tell other parents to keep it from spreading.  The problem, according to the Today show, is that lice have mutated, making it more difficult for the chemicals in over-the-counter treatments to lock on to the lice and eliminate it.  It is more likely resistance lice than not.  Try to get rid of the infection by using over-the-counter treatment twice.  {A Compilation of various media sources & Coastal Lice Center).

Marie Coppola  August 2016   {Ref: A Compilation of various media sources & Coastal Lice Center).

 

A Baby’s Thoughts from the Womb

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You may not even know yet that I am growing in your womb – I’m just 18 days from when you conceived me.   My heart has begun to beat with my own blood.  I hope you are happy when you find out I’m inside you.

I’m a month old now and my eyes, ears and tongue are formed.  I have muscles , arms & legs forming.  Soon my fingers and toes will develop, too and I will start moving around.

I feel new things every day.   At almost 8 weeks – only 2 months – I have hiccuped, can frown, squint and yawn and make sucking motions.  I started to suck my thumb at 9 weeks.  I have eyelids now to protect my eyes.

It’s  10 weeks and every organ is now present and my heartbeat is steady.  My kidneys are forming as well as my taste buds.  At 10 weeks my body is sensitive to touch.  I have practiced breathing and hope to breathe air at my birth – the thought of being with you at that time makes me smile.

You haven’t felt my movement yet at but  I move a lot reaching my 3rd month – even my sex is known – I’m a girl!  If you could take a picture of me now you would see my eyes, ears and face characterstics .  I can kick, turn my feet, curl and fan toes, make a fist, move thumbs, bend wrists, turn head, open mouth and press lips tghtly together although I am only about 3 inches long and weigh about 2 ounces.

When you were told I was a girl, you said you will call me Hope, after your grandmother.   In just another week I will weigh about 3 ounces and am starting to resemble you!   A very small you!  You still can’t feel me but I feel comfort and safety within you.

I turned 4 and a half months old in your womb. and you felt me move!  I felt you touch me where I moved – it was joyous to connect so intimately with you.   I am just as excited as you are.  My ears are functioning well now and I can hear your heartbeat – it is so wonderfully comforting.  I can even hear music that you play and it is wonderful.   I hear and recognize your voice!

I’m 5 and half months inside you – my brain now has a billion nerve cells. If a sound is especially loud, it makes me jump – can you feel me?   I have increased seven times in weight and almost doubled in height.

So excited for my 7th month – just 26 weeks from conception – I can tell which voice is yours!   You sing to me!  My wonderful, precious, life-giving mother – I sense your moods.

I know the difference between waking and sleeping.  I use four of five senses – vision, hearing, taste and touch!  I can’t wait to touch you and see you.

At 8 months – just one more month and we’ll be together!  You’ll be as glad as I will be since my space has become cramped and I know I am heavy – you get tired a lot – I’m sorry.  Also sorry my kicks are stronger – but I hear you laugh about it.   I swallow a gallon of amniotic fluid each day – can you hear my hiccups?  Sometimes I move my heel or elbow and I rejoice as you follow it along with your hand.   So lovingly.

It’s 9 months/33-40 weeks – I’m ready to travel down the birth canal and finally get to meet the mother I’ve been connected to for 9 months and hopefully for the rest of her life.

Marie Coppola Copyright June 2016

“I’m Pregnant…Help!”– 20 Tips for Facing It.

TWENTY TIPS FOR FACING AN UNPLANNED PREGNANCY

Emily Brown is director of American Life League Life Defenders, the outreach arm of ALL building a culture of life with a new generation.  While reading a post entitled 20 Tips on Your First Abortion, Emily reacted to what the author had to say – “I could really feel her immense pain. So, I decided to respond to this gruesome article with a positive, empowering, and upbeat message about pregnancy. We do not need more people shaming women into abortion, rather we need positive messages that affirm the immense empowerment that bringing a human being into this world has on women.”  

Reality just slapped you in the face. You’re pregnant! What does that mean? A teeny tiny human being is growing inside of you. So, now the freak out begins.

It’s completely normal to feel terrified, worried, and completely shocked. After all, you might have been relying on birth control, condoms, the IUD, or something else. However, you knew none gave any guarantee that you would not become pregnant. So here you are.

Don’t let your worries take over! It’s very easy to be in panic mode for a few weeks or even months. Look beyond the insecurities and worries. You are strong!

Look for loving support. You need someone who will hug you and comfort you, not someone who wants to shame or belittle you. Sometimes you just need a little affection, and this is definitely one of those times!

Know you are not alone. Every day, hundreds of women discover they are pregnant. Other women are in your same situation!

After you have turned to someone for support, it’s time for Google. Learn what the heck is happening inside your body! Google fetal development and medical articles to learn about the tiny human you have within you.

After reading information on fetal development, come to the realization that you’re a pretty big deal! After all, you are now carrying and protecting a little human being.

While you’re on Google, search your area code, along with “crisis pregnancy centers.” Find the closest one and make an appointment ASAP, for you definitely have loads of questions.

Unlike abortion clinics, crisis pregnancy centers do give a $#%@ and they understand that your surprise pregnancy is a BIG deal. They will treat you with the loving care and respect you deserve!

The time between making your appointment and going can be a terrifying period. You are scared and a million things are rushing through your head, like how to afford a child or how to raise a child alone. Take a deep breath and believe in yourself! You are stronger than you think.

While you’re waiting for your first appointment, learn more about this person growing inside your body. Watch a 4-D ultrasound of a preborn baby growing. Find the stage you are in and marvel at this tiny human.

The appointment day has come. While in the waiting room, focus on the positive messages. Take a look at the brochures, pictures, or wall art and remember that only good can come from this appointment. Nothing here will harm you!

It’s FREE! What? Yes, crisis pregnancy centers’ services are free! They can offer pregnancy resources, prenatal vitamins, pregnancy tests, and services such as parenting classes, counseling, baby supplies, and other financial aid.

While at your appointment, you will not have “pain like someone sucking or pulling out your insides.” Rather, you will feel comfort and support—two of the things you need most.

You will be reaffirmed that you are a strong independent woman! You are more than a pregnancy; you are a mother.

Remember every time you believed you weren’t strong enough, smart enough, happy enough, pretty enough, and so on, and stomp those falsehoods into the ground. You are empowered—empowered with a newfound sense of reason and the ability to care for another human being.

You will not let your empowerment be diminished by people telling you that you are not ready or fit enough to be a mother.

Even after your appointment at the crisis pregnancy center, you still find many moments when you are scared to death. It’s okay; that’s normal. You have a human growing inside of you and you just found out. That’s a huge deal!

Do not let those fears and worries take control of you. You have the opportunity to bring a new life into this world. Do not take this for granted! Many women try their whole lives to have a child.

This is a time to start fresh. Take advantage of that and flourish!

 Submitted by Marie Coppola. March 2016

A Lousy Cop speaks out – Anonymous

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Dear Mr./Mrs. Citizen,

Well, I guess you have figured me out. I seem to fit neatly into the category you place me in. I’m stereotyped, characterized, standardized, classified, grouped, and always typical. I am the lousy cop.

Unfortunately, the reverse isn’t true. I can never figure you out.  From birth, you teach your children that I am a person to beware of.  Then, you are shocked when they identify me with my traditional enemy….The criminal.  You accuse me of coddling juveniles, until I catch your kid doing something wrong.   You take an hour lunch, and several coffee breaks each day, then point me out as a loafer if you see me have just one cup.   You pride yourself on your polished manners, but think nothing of interrupting my meals at noon with your troubles.

You raise hell about the guy who cuts you off in traffic, but let me catch you doing the same thing, and all of a sudden I am picking on you. You know ALL the traffic laws, but never got one single ticket you deserved.   You shout “Abuse of Authority” if you see me driving fast to an emergency call, but raise 9 kinds of hell if I take more than 30 seconds responding to yours.  You call it “Part of my job” if someone hits me, but yell “Police brutality” if I strike back.  You would never think of telling your dentist how to pull a badly decayed tooth, or your doctor how to take out your appendix, but you are ALWAYS willing to give me pointers on how to be a police officer.

You talk to me in a manner, and use language that would assure a bloody nose from anyone else, but you expect me to stand there and take your verbal abuse without batting an eye.  You cry, “Something has to be done about crime,” but you can’t be bothered to get involved.  You have no use for me what so ever, but of course, it’s OK for me to change a tire for your wife, or deliver your baby in the back seat of my patrol car enroute to the hospital, or save your sons life with CPR and mouth to mouth resuscitation, or even forsake time with MY family working long hours overtime trying to find your lost daughter.

So, dear citizen, you stand there on your soapbox and rant and rave about the way I do my job, calling me every name in the book, but never stop a minute to think that your property, your family,  and maybe your life might someday depend on one thing….ME.

Respectfully,
A Lousy Cop

Author: Anonymous

Marie Coppola March 2016

Crossing Paths with Other Religions

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We all have our own preferred faith but sometimes we venture out of our comfort area to participate or engage in others’ religious practices.

It could be a Wedding, a Baptism, a First Communion, Confirmation, Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah, Bible studies, or engage in Witnessing. The common denominator is God. Each religion worships in their own way – what happens when you cross paths with some other religion?

Wikipedia defines “Ecumenism”, as initiatives aimed at greater religious unity or cooperation.

In its broadest sense, this unity or cooperation may refer to a worldwide religious unity; by the advocation of a greater sense of shared spirituality across the three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Most commonly, however, ecumenism is used in a more narrow meaning; referring to a greater cooperation among different religious denominations of a single one of these faiths.”  These three faiths are all monotheistic: meaning the belief that there is one and only one God.

My own personal ecumenical experiences revolve around Christianity and Judaism.   I was born and raised in the Catholic faith and experienced the traditional Sacraments.   The Catholic Church has changed little in formation and dogma, yet it has evolved into a more humanistic and personal faith religion over the years.  I embrace this very beautiful religion which is centered around Jesus and the Eucharist, and has special meaning for me.  In my formative years, when religious instruction was memorizing a Catechism to attain the Sacraments, I was blessed at age 9 to be invited and attend a Presbyterian Bible Summer School. My parents agreed I could go and I was introduced to the additional concept that Jesus was my Best Friend, a concept that is with me to this day. We spent that summer singing lots of hymns to Jesus and making crafts with Him in mind. It was pure and natural to me. Children do not have built-in prejudices against the differences in their lives; they are taught them. Left alone, children are accepting and nonjudgmental.

When I was 13, we moved to a predominantly Jewish neighborhood and I was introduced to bas mitzivahs, bat mitzvahs and the closely knit Jewish family.  All members of the Jewish family participated during the readings at the temple. I found they were very much like our family. They believed in the Old Testament like we do, and were very religious. I experienced the Passover Seder and on sad occasions, gave condolences at Shiva. Did this confuse me?  Not at all.  Although I was entrenched in Christianity, I was experiencing the religion that My Best Friend, Jesus, embraced while on earth. It enlarged my religion by bringing me closer to Him. Now I experienced what He did and added His religious background  to my faith.

In high school, a family member joined the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I always marveled at how they went from house to house witnessing their faith. They still do. The Bible calls us to do that, but not many people do it. There were differences from how the Witnesses practiced their faith from mine, but I did become more aware of their Bible studies and eventually attended Bible classes at my own church.    I learned many Scripture passages that I never knew and became a student of the Bible.  I am ever grateful for that awakening of Scriptures.

In my adult life, I have very dear friends who are Baptists. They are Bible-study enthusiasts, also. When we visit them, we attend their service with them – it usually encompasses most of the Sabbath Day.  At their service, there is a choir that could sing in Carnegie Hall. They are praise-singing people of faith and I find joy and peace listening to their hymns. They even have screens where you can sing along and the whole congregation joins in. We attend their Bible School immediately after the service and partake of their fellowship.  They are faith sharing and caring people. I credit the Baptists for my love and joy of praise songs.

In my work days, a group of us were asked to give a career seminar to members of a Lutheran church. Before we started the seminar, we gathered in the church and had service. My other presenters were not faith-based persons and did not know the name of the songs sung, but I knew from my ‘ecumenical sharings ’ when they broke into “Lord I Lift Your Name on High”, I joined in loud and clear. After the church service, the church members hugged me and were surprised that I knew the song. That bonding moment was a successful vehicle to engaging in seminar objectives – a shared feeling that overlapped into our discussions.  And bonded new friendships.

I love ecumenical bridges. I find new paths and avenues from them to explore God and His Word. I find that although others may worship differently from me, we have many common threads in our tapestry of faith. Recently I learned that the Muslim faith honors one woman – Mary, the mother of Jesus, and devotes a full chapter of their Koran to her.

I never see the differences in these folks and their faiths; I only see the sameness we have in loving God, expressing that Love and sharing our different ways to live it.

 

© Marie Coppola, 2009, updated February, 2016; some rights reserved.

 

The World Makes its Own Violence

Someone asks at every horrific memorial service, “Why do we have so much violence?”  “When will it change?”

Some voice the reason as mental illness; others mention religious persecution; and the president and political figures blame it on the gun who has no mind of its own.   I say it is in the minds of our culture.

In little more than a half century, our culture has changed from “happy is the average family with two children living in the suburbs”.   Elvis was banned on TV & and shown only from the waist up so his pelvic motions weren’t viewed by the kids.   His gyrations were ‘disgraceful’.

Newlyweds planned for the ‘blessed event’ and the word ‘abortion’ wasn’t ever said out loud; it was rare and ungodly.   Dads worked and brought home the bacon and Moms were the rule of the roost, making a home for the family and was there when the kids got home from school.

God was an integral part of life;  even in public school, students took turns reading Scripture from the Bible in homeroom before they said the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag and started their day.   The family structure usually had a faith base, took their annual vacation together and sat down each night, together, to share dinner and the day’s events.  Patriotism – God & Country – were staples of life.   Kids were happy, played outside, had friends and a safe place at home.  Girls could be tomboys and boys could take dancing lessons – they grew up and emulated their Moms & Dads who were their role models.    They are the grandparents of today.  If you ask them, they will tell you they had ‘happy childhoods”.

Things changed during the 60s and 70s by the Beatles, drugs, free love and the Vietnam War.  People rebelled against the ‘establishment’, family structure, and the ten commandments.  “Do what feels good.”

Many of the folks from that era are now integrated in our government today and hold high offices.   Our president, who was indoctrinated in Indonesian schools never said the Pledge of Allegiance to America or sang the Star Spangled Banner.  Over years, our culture changed.

Today, Hollywood has evolved from “disgraceful” pelvic motions to nudity, progressive lifestyles, profanity and easily accessible porn.  Legalizing same-sex marriage and transgenders.  These are our new generations’ role models.   Babies are no longer ‘blessed events’ – they are ‘mistakes’ and ‘women’s right’ to abort them – 87% of them aborted for ‘inconvenience’.  Some abort them for gender selection.   We have morphed into the desensitization of aborting and gone the extra step of hatching still breathing infants to sell their body parts.    Life has ceased to be sacred – what’s the difference between hatching or killing babies or shooting down students?   What are we saying to the next generation?

Due to seven elected judges who decided to allow same sexes to be married – now we have Dads & Dads and Moms & Moms.  Many at some point break up and change their minds and then become Dads and Moms again – and these are our new generations’ role models.    The government has supported gender change, and some of our young teens are able to ‘change’ their sex without parental permission.  You are allowed to be a different gender at any time if you ‘think’ it.  And we are allowing people to end their own lives.

Technology came about in the 1980s and has transformed our newer generations into human robots who are computer & cell phone addicted.  One of the effects of obsessive use of cell phones is narcissism – multiples of selfies posted on social media – coupled with loss of communication – less conversation, personal interface and abbreviated messages called texting.    They don’t speal much to each other or their family or their parents.   These young people will be the role models of the next generation.

Breakdown of the family through the growing self-interests of busy parents and uncommunicative children coupled with the breakdowns of faith and emergences of government-initiated different lifestyles has fractured family life as we knew it.   Members of the same family frequently spend holidays or special occasions separately with 2nd or 3rd generation step-parents and not the orginal family.   We are morphing into a culture where love, caring, sharing, loyalty and family values are replaced by overlapping of different values, interests and mindsets.

Our changing culture is consistently becoming nasty if you are not (in their view) politically correct – and you are labeled a ‘hater’ ‘bigot’ ‘racist’ or worse.   Even our government and celebrities do this.  If you value faith, you are called superstitious, a Bible Thumper, a radical right-wing or worse.   Your traditions, beliefs and actions are criticized as offensive, but atheists, and these name-calling persons are protected by the  communistic-founded  ACLU.   It is OK for them to be offensive to faith people but we must satisfy them and not God & common sense?   So who and what are we, anymore?   Do we want no God, no Commandments of right and wrong?   We are our own mapmakers of our destinies.   Where’s our voices?

Marie Coppola. Revised August 2016

 

 

What’s Wrong with This Picture?

 

Picture?   What picture?  If you are referring to photographs, I wonder if you’ve received any pictures of babies, nieces, nephews or grandkids lately.  Or did you get an email with attachments that you leave on your computer or cell phone?   When you have a lunch date or attend a party, do people show you pictures in their wallets or flash their cell phone to slide over the pictures?  Or do you hear things like this – especially from the grandparents who may not be resident ‘digital natives’ from the Z Generation?

  • This is my grandsom when he was 10 – his parents haven’t sent any recent photos.
  • Her wedding album was online – no, we didn’t get any photos.  And I was in the wedding.
  • There’s lots of pictures of the kids on Facebook.   But we don’t do Facebook.
  • We bought a bunch of photo albums on sale but we don’t have any pictures.
  • No, I didn’t see her cell phone pictures – we don’t have that feature on our cell phone.
  • I never learned how to download or open pictures or send them on the cell phone.
  • Once I learn how to do it, it will become obsolete and will have to learn all over again.

In 2012, USA Today sponsored an online contest for readers to choose the name of the next generation after the Millenniums and it was suggested that some might call them Generation Z” rather “off-putting” and a name that is “still in-the-running.   Some alternate names were proposed including: iGeneration, Gen Tech, Gen Wii, Net Gen, Digital Natives, Gen Next, Post Gen, and Plurals. 

Wikipedia also offers:  “Most of the traits that will define this generation have yet to emerge. However, many are highly connected, having had lifelong use of communication and media technology like the World Wide Web, instant messaging, text messaging MP3 players, mobile phones and tablets,  earned them the nickname “digital native.”.    Pew Research tells us the percentage of cell phone owners who use their devices to access the Internet has more than doubled since 2009, and ‘82% of  cell phone users take pictures with their cell phones over cameras’.  (And that was 7 years ago)!   Since then, we now have Instagram and Cloud Storage.

Our family has many photos from the early 1900s through the late 1900s.  They are wonderful memories and eventually passed down to the kids.  Some of them are on our walls and mantels, giving us ever-changing look-a-likes of the people or scenes within them.   Sometimes they look like different family members over time, they remind us of the time and place they were taken.   Sometimes we notice things we missed the first time we saw them.

Image result for 1950s photograph

Photographs are priceless.   Some people put them in safes or vaults for protection against fires – that’s how much they are valued.  Sadly, they are decreasing quickly.  How do we protect photographs on CDs or DVDs which eventually may become obsolete like much technology ends up or access them from a broken computer or disabled cell phone?

Today’s digital natives are into selfies and photobombing.     Not my photo album kind of memories.

Image result for selfies

Image result for photobombing

Marie Coppola Revised October 2016

Tuition Reimbursement at Work is a Bonus

It’s always amazing to me how many people do not take advantage of two important benefits offered at many workplaces.

One is the employer matching plan for a 401k distribution. Some companies are shying away from this form of savings but many still implement them and have replaced their pension plans with them. Briefly, participants of an employer-match program will receive a dollar for dollar match on money taken out of each of their paychecks up to a certain percentage that is then placed into a sponsored retirement plan (401k or 403b). Sometimes it is matched up to 12 or 20% of their pay. You can’t beat the compound interest these plans generate.

Working in human resouorces, I found there were many employees who lamented that they could not afford to take even 2% out of their salary – they were on such strict budgets. In truth, they cannot afford to miss this opportunity to save and compound their nest egg for retirement. It is difficult for the first month or so to allocate this percentage in one’s budget, but it usually is compromised swiftly, especially if a later bonus or merit raise or cost of living raise equals it and offsets the contribution.  I’ve written about 401ks before, but, my focus here is on tuition reimbursement from your employer.

Even in these economy-challenged times, most employers want to invest in the employees they have and increase their investment in them by increasing their skills and value to the company. Many employees do not investigate or take advantage of this generous benefit either because they ‘don’t have the time to continue their education’ or they ‘don’t think their supervisor would approve it’. And again I say, they cannot afford not to participate in this truly gifting program.

Having done this myself, I can vouch that although the company does benefit from an employee learning and increasing their knowledge in the relative discipline subjects and also in other subjects that round out their learning curve and experience, the benefit for the company can terminate if the employee moves on to another company.  For the employee, the benefit is with him or her for their entire lives. Please repeat that last sentence – it is that important. Continuing education, especially if it results in a degree or certification, is equal to getting a raise at work – it puts dollars in your pocket and represents a life-long achievement.

If your company provides tuition reimbursement, and you have not pursued this avenue, make an appointment with Human Resources (HR) today and find out what you have to do to participate. Generally, I can offer some provisions although they might differ among different companies and disciplines. Investigate – but here is some legwork you can do beforehand.

1] Decide what discipline you would like to be specialized in. If you want to pursue legal, look into paralegal or business law courses. If you are in technology, perhaps you would like to take courses for the next level – routing, international analyst, technology engineer or site administration. If you work in accounting, perhaps you would have an interest in CPA or payroll administration.

2] Look into the different courses and colleges that offer these courses and what their entrance requirements may be. You should find this all online or at the library. Also, you can check on in-house courses (traditional classroom) or on-line or distancing courses that you can take at home. Find out if the school offers them.  On-line education is very popular today; some even get masters and/or doctorate degrees on them.

3] It’s important to have a plan of what you want to do and a possible avenue of options. This will give you more credibility of ambition with both your supervisor and HR when you approach them that you would like to take advantage of this opportunity.

It is helpful if you list the reasons why you want the additional learning and what courses you feel would accomplish it. Do this if you want just one course or if you have a degree in mind.  Your ambitions may change midstream.

4] Approach your supervisor first. He or she has to approve your application. Appeal your case, explain your justification of how it will help both you and the company.

**Keep in mind, that companies rarely turn down requests for continuing education. This includes a one-course class or a specified degree. This is a benefit that they offer. You are responding – not asking for special favors.

5] With your supervisor in agreement, submit your approved application to HR. I always suggest making an appointment with an HR rep to do this; their job is to help you in your career development and they may have good suggestions on courses and schools. Check out your HR website; a good one will have suggestions and instructions under ‘Continuing Education’ or ‘Tuition Reimbursement’.’

6] When your application is approved, you are either ready to sign up for the one-time course, certification, or call the college of your choice for an interview and plan your curriculum.

There are some qualifications and guidelines that your employer may require for you to be eligible for tuition reimbursement:

• You may have to be a full-time employee; (some offer to permanent part-time employees).

• have completed a year of service; and

• Be on the payroll when the course is completed. (if you are let go or outsourced by the company during that time, they usually reimburse for that semester but not if you quit or leave the company on your own).

  • Most companies will reimburse employees for all tuition expenses – most include entrance fees, books, and supplies).
  • There usually is a maximum of how many credits a year for which they will reimburse (anywhere from 3 to 6 courses a year – some companies will allow 3 courses a semester or 12 total courses for the year including summer couses). *NOTE: Credit fees are the highest costs associated with returning to school and vary according to college. This is where you are getting a big ‘raise’.

I recommend no more than 3 courses a semester if you are working a full-time job. I also recommend one heavy-duty course (Statistics) and a required medium-duty course (Psychology) and an elective (something you like that is included in your requirements, ie, Art, Music, Philosophy, Poetry). It is important to keep in mind that you don’t want to be overwhelmed or overworked; you have to PASS the course to be reimbursed.

The company will reimburse employees at the conclusion of a successfully completed course; sometimes they reimburse as long as you pass the course; others have a stipulation similar to this:

• For an “A” grade, the Company will reimburse 100% of the tuition cost;

• For a “B” grade, the Company will reimburse 75% of the tuition cost;

• For a “C” grade, the Company will reimburse 50% of the tuition cost;

No reimbursements will be made for grades lower than a “C” grade and no reimbursement for Fail.

Certifications, Associates, Bachelors and Masters degree programs are part of reimbursement if they are business or job related. All courses, required and elective, which are related to an employee’s work or which lead to a business-related or job-related degree will be reimbursed. Most companies will reimburse as long as you PASS with ANY GRADE.

*Note: Many employees start with courses related to their present discipline or department they are working. Sometimes they are courses offered at a certification seminar or at a community college or even online. As the ‘student’ seeks additional courses, they may seek courses at a university or college. Once they matriculate, (admitted or accepted by a college or university for a defined degree course), the employer WILL accept variety of courses. The major will usually be business; and the minor may not be business-related, but part of the overall courses needed for the degree. Most companies do accept these unrelated courses as part of the degree program and reimburse for them.

Upon completion of the pre-approved course, the employee must submit a copy of the “Request for Tuition Reimbursement” form to the Human Resources Department, along with an official transcript of grades and proof of payment.   Requirements vary among companies.

I hope I have encouraged you to jump-start on your continuing education program. It is one of the best deals your company is offering you. Personally, I took advantage of this opportunity and completed two degrees in 8 years; the cost to the company was $50,000. The out-of-pocket cost to me was reimbursed upon completion. It’s free education and you can’t get better than that. This is an offer you simply can’t refuse.   Here is a partial list of well-known entities that offer tuition reimbursement opportunities:   http://www.businessinsider.com/companies-that-will-pay-for-your-tuition-2014-6

Marie Coppola © Revised July 2016

Can you Disown Family Members?

So now our throw-away culture has evolved into disowning people.   There are articles in Google – how to disown your relatives, family, your parents, your mate, your siblings, and even your child.

Now, how do you do that?   Some instruct to write down all the things that you don’t like, for example, if they don’t like your lifestyle or your friends or your beliefs or you don’t like theirs ~ simply tell them what their boundaries are and if they don’t stay within them, they will be disowned.

I’m so glad God has told me He would never disown me. 

I’ve lived through bad relationships, bad friends, even bad relatives, and some bad situations, but I’ve never felt ‘disowned’.  I always had God.  Life was sometimes hard enough – who needs dismemberment?  Cut off from the folks in our ilife who gave us life or us them?   Cut them out of your life and life events?   If we all did that, very few of us would have a social life or even talk to one another.   How do you disown a son, daughter, parent, or a child?   You might say well, if they are a drug addict and would steal everything you own to buy drugs or she is always borrowing money – is always broke, or my mother is always meddling in my life….and the beat goes on.

Does disowning them make them change or stop? Does it change their DNA or their personalities?   Isn’t that son the one who likes to drink and is ‘just like you’.    And isn’t that daughter you complain about having one affair after another because you did once and felt you did nothing wrong?    What about that little sister you don’t talk to because she’s been married three times just like you are?   Ever think you may be the role model that they turned into? 

So…you want disown them.   How? 

Change her bloodline or DNA?   Rip up his birth certificate?  Take them out of your will? Move across the country?  No more birthday or Christmas presents for them?  How?   By not attending any family celebration parties?   Does disowning them make you never think about them on those days?  

We all live in a fast obsolescence society.   If it doesn’t fit, discard it.   If you want to go to Hawaii on vacation and your husband wants to go to South America, then get a divorce.  If your son sits around playing video games all day at age 26 and doesn’t work,  just disown him.  

Could you possibly play a part in any of these ill-fitting scenarios?  Are you or were YOU ever disowned?   Loyalty and steadfastness are old-fashioned terms in this age.  We are increasingly becoming selfies In our lives as well as in cell phone photo-taking. If something doesn’t fit well with us – just chuck it or disown it.  **(I need to add here that I’m not referring to  severe situations with others that can be very hurtful or unhealthy to all and these may need outside counseling, arbitration and/or if not changed – -withdrawal.)   

Think about the person you’re chucking or disowning.   That person has feelings, too.   Ever think of alternative ways to solve the badness between you and others?   Rather than disowning and breaking all ties, try compromising, helping, forgiving, offering solutions or praying for others which can be more effective and what we all need.   Withdraw temporarily, if need be ……but don’t disown.   God never disowns us;  He calls us to offer the same steadfastness to others.  Try turning the other cheek as He instructs  – it’s so much more beneficial to your stress and health.  

Have discussions and discard bad attitudes;  agree to disagree.   Discipline your anger, dispose of past hang-ups,.  Dismiss the disease of unforgiveness, and display forgiveness – you may rediscover  the person or child you once loved.   And it may just change your lives.   If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.   Disown the past and move into the future.

Marie Coppola© Revised January 2018

A Spoof on Social Media Sites – “Frackbook”


 

Soon!   On your very own computer – the newest social media – called ‘Frackbook’. You’ll never want to use another social media. Well, you won’t be able to because once you sign on, your membership is locked in until your death and you can’t ever end it.  We are working on after-death memberships.  We’re the first!

Some of the newest features which are uniquely yours and will continue to be yours once you sign our privacy statement  and don’t worry – it’s not one of those small-type print unending documents – it’s one sentence!

“My agreeing to be a perpetual member of Frackbook relinquishes all my personal information, persona, DNA, fingerprints, including wills, IRS statements, banking info, and medical records to Frackbook for my life entirety which may be used on other third-party sites at Frackbook’s discretion or sold to terrorists, prisons, porn sites, and insane asylums”.    Yes, one sentence – he he.

Neat-o. Right!   Aren’t you fracked?  Now you can find out anything about anybody. Betcha can’t wait! YASNY – You ain’t seen nothing yet.

Here are some of the disclosed perks you can get — without asking or knowing about. FREE!!

1) Disclosure to the world (we are in all countries) of what you eat all day, how many times you poop and peeps, what kind of sex you enjoy and with whom, your dislikes of famly members and annoying habits of the people or persons closest to you. Watch their faces when they see what our closed cameras zoom in on while you are online.   Tell others secrets and your own secrets!   Be exciting – Online.

2) A FREE GPS chip is provided that you will be seen at all times, in any state or country or what your daily routines are – you no longer have to type all this info – it will be flashing on your screen!   Everyone will see you – you will be a household name!

3) You’ll love the new “Awesomes”   When you click on “Awesome”, it will be twittered to all computers cell phones, movie screens and home TVs.   You will be famous for really dumb things.   Anyone who passes the 1,000,000 Awesomes mark, is a candidate for a partial lobotomy which will aid you in clicking Awesome more on really dumb things.

4)  Selfies page.   You will be given your own Selfie page which can be updated every 3 minutes.   Hey, we age every 3 minutes – why not capture it?   There is no limit to how many Selfies you can put on Frackbook – aren’t you just psyched?  Your pictures can be sold by Frackbook to third parfties like the ACLU, IRS, FBI, major political parties and major terrorist groups.  Be seen and heard!!

5)  For you protection, Frackbook is generously providing a CAM chip which will capture your home, or any space you come in contact with or visit.   We just ask that you don’t pick your nose or behind, it will be captured and shown to other Frackbookers.   Now you can share your showers and bedrooms and family fights.   When you shaved your legs and dyed your hair.  Tweezing your eyebrows or having pissing fights.    Or how bombed you get each night.  You won’t have to write about them – your friends and/or some demented folks, too, will enjoy the spontaneity.

6)  To keep it pleasant on Frackbook, there are no opinions, remarks, or making faces (we’re watching you on your reverse cam) about the government, religion, schools, newspapers, culture, military, guns, other countries, intellectual or scientific happenings in your life, any breaking news, or any news, church, work, travel, house or families.’   Be awesome and entertaining.   See how many different outfits you can provide in selfies and how many poses or faces you can make.   Or tell about your health check-up or last dental appointment in detail.   Or anything meaningless in detail.   Frack us while we Frack you!

7)  Keep it light, and keep busy with your selfies, Awesomes, jokes, stories about animals, kids, grooming, cooking and health.  (No comments on politics – you will be ejected see below).

8)  Ejection notice.   If you don’t abide by the rules above, yes, you can be ejected from the computer with an apparatus that is so fast and efficient it cannot be detected by humans.   Don’t ask how it works.  It’s copyrighted.  Just follow the rules or you won’t be eligible for the soon to be offered ‘after death’ sign-up.

9)  If you don’t care to join Frackbook at this time, you may be arrested and put in an old big store vacated warehouse in an undisclosed location.   Sign up today.    Make new friends – after only one day of watching spying, listening and sighing, you will feel like you’ve known them forever.

10)  A 300-page sign up form will automatically come forth from your printer when you log off.   Don’t ask how it works – everyone has had their printers tampered with while you were busy with your selfies.

If you are ready – send in your 300 page sign-up form.   A military tank will be coming by mornings at 8:00 am and evenings at 8:00 pm to pick them up.  Your info will be secure.  Be one of us.    You have no choice ~ if you don’t want to be left out.

©Marie Coppola  Revised September 2016

 



Re-Gifting or Shopping in Our Own Closets

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How times change. There was a time I would never have thought of receiving a gift and in turn giving it to someone else as a gift. That just didn’t seem right. If I received something that I absolutely couldn’t live with, I either gave it away to a family member with practically a contract that they would never tell anyone that I did so.

It’s very different today, especially in these frugal times. I put gifts that I will probably never use or wear in a special place in my closet. After all, they are brand new and still in their original boxes. The thing that changed my mind about not giving my gifts to others — it’s technically called re-gifting — happened while I was at an aunt’s house and she wanted to give me some Christmas towels that she ‘never used’. And she hadn’t. They were the loveliest red with crocheted red trim with embroidered gold Christmas designs on them. I happily took them home and when I unfolded them, there was  deterioration going on from being in her closet so long. I decided then and there that I would find a home for my aberrant gifts.

Some of the items that I decided to give to others:  Sweaters and/or blouses that either were not my style or too big or too small. Some of these were presents from Italy (little likelihood this one would be uncovered by the ReGift Police).  All had tags.

Purses that were too big or too small. Handbags or purses are individual choices and you are either a big bag or smaller bag lady. How it fits on your shoulder is important, too. I would not give a handbag as a gift UNLESS I was with the person I bought it for and she had made drooling over it. Otherwise, it can be regifted or donated. Always new tags on them.

Same with colognes and perfumes which are even more of an individual choice. I use my favorite ones and am happy when I am gifted them; but sometimes I get powder sets, perfume, or cologne that I know does not go with my body chemistry and I try to regift them ASAP because they change in time and sometimes evaporate, so this is a necessary regift or donation – always in original box and not opened. Not even peeked at.

Umbrellas, scarves & hat sets, gloves, silk or polyester scarves (lots of these), Christmas socks, aprons, any apparel that is not ‘you’. Always in perfect new in the box condition with tags. The big yellow dots on green background scarf that appealed to the giver, may have made  you wince as you said, “Thank you, it’s lovely.”

I receive lots of planners, calendars, many picture frames, pen sets, figurines, vases, bedside clocks, manicure sets, and personal items that I already have lots of, and they are in my closet, too. I try to find a home for them.

This is a BIG one. Christmas gifts in the shape of cookie jars – I have 4 already packed away and tree trimmings – I’m overbooked on the tree; Santa figurines and dishes; holiday tablecloths, ceramic holiday boxes, glasses, etc.  I have these in the attic – they would take up the whole closet. They are up there year after year and why?  Someone could be enjoying them, especially young families with kids who may not be able to afford them. These are still in original boxes – never used  and look like they are from the store.

Jewelry. I have enough Christmas pins to wear different ones a couple of times a month. I do have favorites and will never part with them, but many of them are still in their presentation boxes ready to belong to someone new.

It seems strange giving something I did not buy to someone else as a gift.  It was hard at first.  I gave re-gifts as hostess gifts when we are invited out to dinner; hospital visits (cologne or powder); neighborhood shower gifts; thank you gifts;  birthday party gifts; and Christmas visit or grab bag gifts.

If the gift was a more expensive and inappropriate for the re-gift occasion, I donated it to a charity that asked for donations for auctions. I also have donated them for tricky-tray events and door prize gifts. I would have bought something at the store so why not donate something even nicer than what I would have bought.

I make sure that I am careful who I re-gift to. I put a sticky on the gift when I got it and who gave it to me, because you can forget. And that would be a disaster if you gave it to someone in that same family or worse, back to the person. I try to give it to someone from a different group and even a different state. The gift has to be in ‘bought in a store’ condition with pristine box and and pristine condition. Otherwise, it’s not a gift. I never re-gift something from a thrift store or garage sale, because you just don’t know who donated it to them.  I get lots of books because I love to read, and I never re-gift them. Although my books are in great shape – they are like family members to me – but a used book may have a stain somewhere through it if it were already read and then – it’s not a gift. I never give anything away that has been used. It has to be new and waiting…..for the new person to get it.  Do I ever tell people it’s a re-gift. No – they don’t have to know.

My most fun gifts to give away are the holiday ones. Especially with young children in the family who love Christmas dishes and candy dishes which I give with an additional gift of candy to fill it. I usually add something to each of my regifts, like this, maybe to feel like it is really a gift from me. Sometimes I add an ornament to the wrapping, or candies, or small trinkets that I wrap the gift in. Never give a regift in the original wrapping paper. Always make it look like a brand new gift which it is.

Sometimes I get a gift that looks like a re-gift. You can tell because it is not anything you ever used, or talked about or had in your house or wore on your body. It is so off mark that it has to be. I always receive it gratefully – after all, it is a gift. And you don’t always know what financial situation the gift-giver is in, so, be gracious and sincere. It is a gift nevertheless. If it is something that I think can be given again, I do the sticky note and closet thing. If it is something that I truly find untasteful or would never give as a gift, it gets donated to the thrift shop. Make sure you take any tags off of that one and find a thrift shop that is not near your house, just in case. Someone else may love it and it’s better than its getting deteriorated in your closet.

I enjoy giving gifts to people. My re-gifting allows me to give more gifts to more people. Sometimes, it’s a new tray with cookies to the nurses in the doctor’s office, or kept wrapped under the tree with tag of what it is in case someone stops over and brings me an unexpected gift.  These aberrant gifts are gifts in themselves; they are a blessing in disguise when a gift is necessary ASAP or simply a pick-up for someone who was not expecting one.

The Ten Most Re-gifted Gifts  #10. Booze;  #9. Gift cards;  #8. Fruitcake;  #7. Candles;  #6. Cookbooks;  #5. Jewelry;   #4. Picture Frame;   #3. Gift Basket;  #2. Housewares;  #1. Clothing

Marie Coppola Revised December 2016

 

Sukkot – The Jewish Precursor of Thanksgiving

Most of us are aware that Christianity has its roots in Judaism. One of many similarities in observing holidays and festivals was brought up recently, in an ecumenical faith sharing I attended. I became aware for the first time, of a Jewish holiday season called Sukkot (pronounced ‘Sue Coat’).

Sukkot is an eight-day holiday, with the first day celebrated as a full festival with special prayer services and holiday meals. The remaining days are known as Chol HaMoed (“festival weekdays”). The seventh day of Sukkot is called Hoshana Rabbah (“Great Hoshana”, referring to the tradition that worshippers in the Synagogue walk around the perimeter of the sanctuary during morning services) and has a special observance of its own. Outside Israel, the first two days are celebrated as full festivals. Throughout the week of Sukkot, meals are eaten in the sukkah and the males sleep there, although the requirement is waived in case of rain. [ A ‘sukkah’ is a temporary hut constructed for use during the week-long Jewish festival of Sukkot. It is topped with branches and often well  ].  Every day, a blessing is recited over the Lulav and the Etrog [ palm and citron bound together ]. Observance of Sukkot is detailed in the Book of  Nehemiah and Leviticus 23:34-44 in the Bible, the Mishnah (Sukkah 1:1–5:8); the Tosefta (Sukkah 1:1–4:28); and the  Jerusalem Talmud (Sukkah 1a–) and Babylonian Talmud (Sukkah 2a–56b).

The Festival of Sukkot begins on Tishri 15, the seventh month of the Jewish year, during which many important holidays occur. This holiday falls on the fifth day after Yom Kippur, one of the most solemn Jewish holidays. Yom Kippur is a day of atonement which includes fasting, depriving oneself of pleasures, and repenting from the sins of the previous year.  This year, Sukkot begins at sundown on October 16th and ends at nightfall on Sunday, October 23rd.   This holiday is also known as the Feast of Booths, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Feast of Ingathering.

In vivid contrast to the solemness of Yom Kippur, Sukkot is so joyful that it is considered the longest and happiest holiday season of the Jewish year. This ‘Season of our Rejoicing’ holiday commemorates the end of the Jews wandering in the desert. and finally reaching the land that God promised.

When they did finally reach the land that God promised them, they became farmers and grew olives, wheat and grapes. When they harvested their crop, they built wooden huts near their fields where they lived until the harvesting was completed.

Then and today, Sukkot is a celebration of the end of the 40-year wandering for the promised land, and for the harvest of their crops. Praising God for His protection and peace, the holiday was and is celebrated by a time of feasting and of thanking God for their harvest. Many historians believe that the Pilgrims fashioned their Thanksgiving from their readings of Sukkot in the Bible. The first Thanksgiving celebration fell in October and lasted for three days.

Marie Coppola Revised October 2016

http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday5.htm; The Family Treasury of Jewish Holidays, M. Ducker.

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Remember April Fool’s Day?

 

How did April Fool’s Day Get Started?   Why is April 1st – April Fool’s Day?

Some people lie in wait to “trick” or ‘surprise’ their friends and family with some made-up tale or joke.  Some get away with it all day and others see it coming and know it’s an April Fool’s joke.  How did this all come about? There are many theories, but the majority of them center around the Calendar-Change Theory.

The most popular theory about the origin of April Fool’s Day involves the French calendar reform of the sixteenth century. The theory goes like this: “In 1564 France reformed its calendar, moving the start of the year from the end of March to January 1. Those who failed to keep up with the change, who stubbornly clung to the old calendar system and continued to celebrate the New Year during the week that fell between March 25th and April 1st, had jokes played on them. Pranksters would surreptitiously stick paper fish to their backs. The victims of this prank were thus called Poisson d’Avril, or April Fish—which, to this day, remains the French term for April Fools—and so the tradition was born.” [Ref: Museum of Hoaxes]

Children and young adults have loved  to play these first day of April jokes on people – sometimes all through the day – so you never know what is a joke and what is true.

I thought April Fool’s Day would be a good day to share with all of you some titles of articles that I am thinking of writing…..it’s up to you to decide if I’m telling the truth or giving the day its due and April fooling you.   Are  these  real Articles or April Fool’s?

“How to Text a Message While Having Your Teeth Cleaned”.

“How to Make Cell Phone Calls from Prison”.

“Product Review of Foods that are Past their Expiration Dates”.

“How to Secretly Give Your Depression Away to Someone Else”.

“How to Make a Memorable Shopping Experience with a Very Small Child Who Didn’t Have a Nap”.”

“How to Fix Your Hair After Accidentally Spray-Starching It.”.

“How to Get your Pet Skunk to Make Breakfast for you in the Morning”.

“Assembling a Space Shuttle in your Backyard Shed”.

“Places to Travel on Vacation From Where You May Never Return”.

“Why Our Marriage Works Even Though we Live on Different Continents”

“How to Make a Nuclear Bomb From Things Around the House”.

“How to Cheat at Bingo”.

“DIY Medical/Surgical Procedures To Practice at Home”.

“Sure-Fire Ways to Annoy or Aggravate your HOA”

“Book Review: “Plastic Surgery for Dummies”

“How to Invite  Liberals & Conservatives to a ‘Share Feelings Quietly’ meeting.”

Marie Coppola Revised March 2018

Catholics Revere Mary, the Mother of Jesus

December 8th is observed in the Catholic church as the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ.  The church teaches that this observance should not be confused with Christ’s Virgin Birth.  It is the belief of the faithful that because of the fall of Adam and Eve, that each of us comes into the world born with original sin. The church teaches that this is true for all of us, except Mary, who from the grace and privilege of God is exempt from original sin and came into the world preserved and exemplified from any stain of sin.   She was conceived and born without original sin.

That is the meaning of the “Immaculate Conception” — it is in observance of Mary’s birth – that she was free from original sin at birth or conception.   The determination of this special grace was because God had selected her to become the mother of His sinless Son.  Although this was believed within the Church for many centuries, it was formally declared by Pope Pius IX in 1854.

The names of Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anna, appear in the “Gospel of James”, a book dating from the 2nd Century AD, not part of the authentic canon of Scripture.  According to this account, Joachim and Anna were also beyond the years of child-bearing, but prayed and fasted that God would grant their desire for a child.

Mary was a young girl, probably only about 12 or 13 years old when the angel Gabriel came to her.  She had recently become engaged to a carpenter named Joseph.  Mary was an ordinary Jewish girl, looking forward to marriage. Suddenly her life would forever be changed when she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit.

Her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away.  But as he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:  “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (which means, God with us).’ Ref: Woman of Faith & Family

The Holy Family, consisting of Jesus, his Mother, and his foster father, Joseph, was one of perfect unity and harmony; a model for all Christian homes.  Mary is the model of Christian and Muslim women as she surrendered her will to God when the Angel announced to her that she would become a mother.  Scripture tells us that Mary said:  “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.”   She acknowledged it would be done, according to God’s Will.

Scripture does not reveal a great deal about Mary.  It does tell us about her journey and birth of her son, and her presence at his death. She was also with Jesus at his first miracle, the Wedding Cana, and at her request, Jesus turned water into wine.  It was common to drink wine at weddings inGalilee. At some point during the wedding reception they ran out of wine.

Mary was a guest accompanied by her son, Jesus, and told him this.  She encouraged Jesus to begin to show his power as the Son of God.  Although Jesus knew that it would be much later in his ministry before he would do his greatest work of salvation on the cross, yet, he chose to do his first miracle at this wedding. {John 1:1-11}.

It is for this reason, that Catholics pray to Mary for intercession through asking her, son, Jesus, to grant them special favors and intents.  Many pray to Mary to ask God for peace and intentions through the prayers of the rosary which are prayers to Mary to intercede for them.

Many people may be surprised that Muslims honor Mary, too ~ the mother of Jesus.  In the Quran, no woman is given more attention than Mary.  Mary receives the most attention of any woman mentioned in the Quran and of the Quran’s 114 chapters, she is among the eight people who have a chapter named after them.

Muslims also believe in the Virgin birth of Jesus and Mary plays a very significant role in Islam. She is an example and a sign for all people as she is in the Catholic religion.  In the Quran, Mary’s story begins while she is still in her mother’s womb. The mother of Mary, said: “O my Lord! I do dedicate into Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service: So accept this of me: For Thou hearest and knowest all things.” (Quran 3:35).

© Marie Coppola,  Revised December 2017

Thank You DEM Randy Webster

Before Florence came along,  I had a bad impression of being part of a large, destructive hurricane.   I still do – they are invasive, unpredictable, scary, and bearers of death and destruction.   Staying in your home is comfortable unless the electricity goes out and the toilet won’t flush.   The food in the fridge starts to disfigure and you end up throwing away hundreds of dollars of  perishables.  Fear of flooding looms.   Hurricanes are not fun.  Especially if you feel it is imperative to evacuate and/or are told to do so.

There are many others evacuating – so when do you go and where do you go?    The state has rules and the best thing to do is follow them.  We did so – we went south and not inland for fear of rivers overflowing.   We ended up in a Georgia hotel which is located on Hospitality Avenue.   The rooms were very nice but our first impression was that of the hospitality.   The hotel members were compassionate, friendly and ready to help the situation any way they could.   They were a hard-working group – the hotel was filled to capacity with people from the Carolinas.

We were fortunate to be among neighbors, friends and others we knew.  Some of us played cards.  Others socialized.  Many were glued to their cell phones.   We all were aware of the TV giving out information over and over that we weren’t happy to hear.   After a few  days our  homes we left seemed more and more  fragile and in distress.   We would call neighbors who did not leave and try to find out details of our abandoned homes.   Did trees fall; is it flooding, are the highways clear, are the lights out?   Most of us did not sleep comfortably.

Finally, the evacuation was lifted.   Happiness filled for a short time until we realized we were going home but how, where, and best time to do so?   The actual reason for this account is what happened leaving Hospitality  and driving into the Unknown.   We stopped at the Welcome South Carolina center and picked up a SC 2018 Hurricane Guide.    Among helpful articles, it contained “important contacts”.  We used  3 of the phone numbers on the  6-hour drive home.  They were:  Current Road Conditions (1-888-877-9151); Re-entry (1-866-246-0133); Emergency Management (1-843-915-5150) as well as our local police department.  These phones are well-manned and most were picked up on the first ring!

We drove with added confidence that we could contact the well-qualified and compassionate persons at these numbers who answered our questions and had up-to-date info on highway safety and availability.    We cannot praise this program enough to alleviate the worry or fear of flooded areas or trouble spots or heavily-trafficked areas.

Our sincere and grateful appreciation to all the phone responders speedy access and answers to our questions of highway availability or any problems in our path.   We are grateful for such a program in our hurricane-possible state and especially to Randy Webster,  Director of the Horry County Emergency Management Department (EMD) .

In the publication Hurricane Guide, “Randy Webster wants to make sure you’re prepared in the event of a hurricane.”    Many hints such as what pet owners can do  in case disaster strikes.  A link to a site showing pet-friendly hotels is available on the EMD website.

Many, many thanks to him and the wonderful people in his well-run program for this valuable guide and resources.

Marie Coppola   September 2018

 

Are Hugs Important?

Multi-racial children hug eachother

 

I am a hugger.   Hugging, to me, is a comfort to hurting people and  a reaction to express understand & caring.  Some people are not huggers and have different opinions.  Contrary to the old wives’ tales’ from past generations who believed that responding quickly to crying by holding and/or  nursing will “spoil” a baby. Instead, babies who are held and comforted when they need it during the first six months of life tend to be more secure and confident as toddlers and older children.

I remember from psychology class that back when babies who did not have mothering had caregivers instead in hospitals or orphanges.  These caregivers  would go in to feed them,  bathe them and change their diapers, but they would do nothing else.   Later, I read that  the caregivers had been instructed not to look at or touch the babies more than was necessary, and they never spoke to them. All their physical needs were attended to scrupulously.   The environment was kept sterile; the babies were never ill.  However, about half of the babies had died at that point, at least two more died even after being rescued and brought into a more normal environment. There was no physiological cause for the babies’ deaths; they were all physically very healthy. Before each baby died, there was a period where they would stop their attempted ‘wording’, and just stop moving, never cry or change expression. Death would follow shortly. The babies who had “given up” before being rescued died in the same manner, even though they had been removed from the experimental conditions.The conclusion was that nurturing is actually a very vital need in humans.   Even in animals.

In the  Harlow experiments on rhesus monkeys, he separated infant monkeys from their mothers a few hours after birth, then arranged for the young animals to be “raised” by two kinds of surrogate monkey mother machines, both equipped to dispense milk. One mother was made out of bare wire mesh. The other was a wire mother covered with soft terry cloth. Separated baby monkeys clung to the terry cloth surrogates, even when their physical nourishment came from bottles mounted on the bare wire mothers. This suggested that infant love was no simple response to the satisfaction of physiological needs.   What does hugging do for us?

Hugging reduces the risk of heart diseases.   Hugging calms and reduces stress.  Hugging is good for your relationship.   It increases bonding by releasing oxytocin from our brain and helps relaxation and feelings of intimacy & commitment.    When we hug someone, we are showing our love and joy in a special way without words.

Hugging can relieve stress by releasing tension in the body.  It can increase understanding and empathy and can decrease depression.   Hugging is a mood elevator (by increased serotonin and endorphins) and can boost your self-esteem.

All these factors can boost your immunity.    Don’t you love to be hugged?   Hug someone you haven’t hugged in a long time – and keep hugging those you hug often.   If there is no one, hug a tree – it may bloom better for you.   Sending you e-hugs from me.

Marie Coppola  Revised September 4, 2018

 

 

 

Can Computers Cause Stress?

 

Every now and then we all have computer problems. It’s a bummer. You can’t get onto the Internet and you need to do that ASAP. Sometimes, the screen gets all wiggly or gives you a message that it is shutting down and you scream, ’NOOO,  I didn’t save what I finished yet – wait!  Aghhhh.  Why didn’t I save it?”  Bang head against computer.  It may turn it on again, or you may have created a more serious computer problem.

We all know how we feel when we can’t get to a site we need to right away OR you have someone on the phone–and the computer, for the first time in weeks, decides to s-l-o-w-l-y — t-u-r-n   o-n and slug along while someone is waiting on the other end tapping his or her fingers while you say the now old cliche, ‘my computer is really slow today.’  Not fun for your nimble fingers itching and ready to pound the keys that won’t let them. Is the server down? or is the system having problems?  The views are not working right? — #@%?>#

 

 

 

 

 

What do you do when these problems come up at work and the administrators are trying their best to fix them? They know and hear that the user is getting mighty frustrated. Here are some tips & suggestions for those days when this inevitably happens to everyone.

1.  DON’T vent your frustrations out on on the Help Desk employees. They are trying their best to fix it.  Word will get around how unreasonable  you are — yes, they will say that  — not to mention that probably your boss is hearing about it.  In the scheme of proper and improper behavior, let’s not ‘bite the hand that feeds you’ and/or ‘don’t air dirty laundry’ about how incompetent the Help Desk is to the nearby personnel. They may be amused at first, but that gets old quick.   The Help Desk won’t be amused.

2.  Try to be patient. No one likes to have to wait for things or not be told what is going on. When things aren’t quite up to par technically,  some of you want to hit the Panic Button, and do;   Others wait patiently for the air to clear and haven’t said a word.  Shalom.  It is duly noticed by others in your group how you react under stress.

3 . Read any article that explains systems problems, especially those dealing with adding on servers and LAN’s and how traffic is intricate and inter-related. You will see that they take time to develop, time to test and time to implement. Plus, it takes time to get the bugs out.  We all know about bugs; we’ve all had them – the computer kind, that is.

4.  Try to imagine the worst thing that could happen – like your company could put you totally in the dark, and you could get ERROR messages on everything that is out there. All of your reports and work articles could be frozen out there somewhere forever.  They may not be backed up and lost forever.   See, things could be worse.  If you can get some screens, although that isn’t warm and fuzzy, it should be somewhat comforting.

 

 

 

 

 

5.  While you’re pounding the keys harder than what they were made for, remember that you have the advantage of having a job and it is usually OK – except when the server is not working right?  Yes, I do hear you and validate you – you sure know some really bad words — normally, you do like what you are doing.  Come on, admit it, or you wouldn’t be so frustrated. That’s better.  Now try to smile a little.  Come on – that’s a smile?  All right, forget about it.

6. Do not give in to the urge to sweep the computer off the desk onto the floor.  Big mistake.  Think of something pleasant instead.  You can if you try.  Or go for a walk.

7. Stop putting even  more phone messages on the Help Desk line.  They’ve already been inundated with questions asked and re-asked.  Breathe in and out.

8.  You look better.  Uh Oh, your eyebrows are knitting together again.  Relax.  Think happy thoughts; remember, you’ll make up this time   Somehow, Somewhere, Sometime.   Isn’t that a Barbra Streisand song?   Oh, come on, that was a joke – stop throwing things.

9.  Whoops, you’re pounding away again – not good for the keyboard.   And another call to the Help Desk — tsk tsk.   You already ‘aired’ that annoyance twice already. Stop calling them.  Yes, Stop.

Oh, look, the system is up now.   And they have fixed all the glitches.

Now, admit it — wasn’t it kind of nice to take a little break?  OK, OK, I’m going.

 

 

 

(C) Marie Coppola  Revised August 2018

 

 

Afraid of Flying?

Flying in an airplane is about par with giving an oral presentation. You feel you can’t do it — it’s a dreaded thing to do but once you do it, you’re always grateful when it’s over with and you’ve survived.

Having been up in a small plane in my teens with my brother who had just gotten his license, I remember the open sides on the small propeller plane and my knees shaking the whole time we were up in the air. I vowed that I would never get in another plane as long as I lived.

Fast forward to work experiences, and a proposed company trip to Puerto Rico for a convention that shattered my equilibrium.   After not sleeping  two nights before the flight actually transpired, I re-enacted the wobbly knees of former experience and even took a Valium someone offered me. Just as I was settling into the level just below wigging out, someone from work who knew of my fear, yelled out, “Hey Marie, your horoscope says you shouldn’t travel today”.  Funny to everyone on board but me. The trip is a blur going and coming and the time in the air was the whole focus of the trip.

I vowed yet again, I would never fly.  A couple of years later, my job required ‘flying’ but only on the east coast for career seminars. I didn’t want to fly – period.  No way.  I always went into my fugue on these trips and always made sure I was with someone I knew. A short time later, there was a human resource need for supporters on an outreach program in Cincinnati and I had to go alone! This was an up-all nighter worrying fest and thankfully, I knew someone from the company on the flight.  White knuckles all the way.

On each flight, I vowed it would be my last. I hated flying – too much free floating anxiety around.

I really got good at making excuses for not traveling or making other arrangements (why don’t you come up this way?) and just when I felt that I never had to fly again, I married a man who was born in Europe and had family there. He redid the family house and wanted to travel to Italy at least once a year. Eight or nine hours one way?  And the same the way back?   No way.  I barely did the east coast for up to 3 hours top. All that time in a plane? I would never last.

He never insisted, but I did always want to see Italy. So this is how I get on a plane every year to travel 8 or 9 hours to go to Italy.

It has to be something you really want to do.  Like visiting a last family member in Scotland or a vacation in France that someone gifted  for you. You have to be the one to decide, just like giving up smoking or deciding to lose weight – it’s your call and something you want to do more than you fear it.

I went to local airports and watched the planes come in and go out. They do that every couple of minutes or less. And they were all fine. And thought about all the planes that came in all day there every couple of minutes – in and out. And thought of all the cities and airports all over the world that do the same thing. All those flights.

The things that can go wrong on a flight are nothing like other modes of traveling. You hear about accidents and crashes all the time with cars, trains and ships but flying is actually the safest way to travel.

You have to minimize stress if you decide to travel – travel light and detail your arrangements. Make direct flights where you don’t have to juggle your luggage through airports to another terminal.

Try to get an aisle seat when you make flight arrangements. It gives you some control over getting up and getting down, using the rest room and just stretching your legs.
Bring things that will absorb you so that you don’t count the whirrs the engine is making and one time if there are more than usual and you wonder why.  I bring books that I’ve been wanting to read, crossroad puzzles, my journal and datebook to go over for the trip.

International flights usually have wonderful ways to keep your mind occupied: they show new movies.  They also have computers in front of each person where you can track your flight or play games like poker or solitaire or watch popular TV programs. The same head gear lets you listen to all kinds of music.    I bring a warm, long sweater; it’s cozy while closing your eyes even if you don’t sleep.

They also sometimes have a duty-free service aboard and sell all these neat things – it’s like shopping on QVC – another mind-diverting tactic.   There is usually a dinner or  a breakfast or a snack served.  So if you don’t Tylenol PM, you can drink wine.  All these servings take up time and are a nice diversion from you worrying if the pilot is still awake.

If you keep busy,  you won’t have time to focus on your fear. The more you travel, the less fearful you are.   I still don’t like to fly. I don’t like being up in the air with no control over how to steer the plane.  However, it is much more safe with the pilots up there behind the controls. But I’m more comfortable with it now and do it because I really want to go where the plane will take us.

The clincher for me that took away  my fears and fidgeting was my first European flight take-off with my all-relaxed husband and me with white knuckles.  I looked at him and he smiled as we took off, and he sweetly said, “Did you leave your faith on the ground?”  Since I am a faith-based person, this made tremendous sense to me;  I relaxed and now leave my trip safety in God’s hands.

Marie Coppola © Revised August 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Marie Coppola
Marie Coppola A long-time human resources administrator and paralegal (B.S. in Business Administration/ Psychology, Certified Paralegal), Marie writes to aid employees with positive career options and resources, and to assist in career development solutions for students and employees; counsels on resumes, securing employment, and being successful with promotable possibilities. Marie finds inspiration in her faith, which she enjoys passing on to others, and finds gratification in helping others wherever she can. Got a question, need advice? Marie can be reached at mcopp@ymail.com View all posts by Marie Coppola →

 

 

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The Second Grandchild

 

Grandparents like to keep things ‘even’ between their grandkids and I am no exception.   I wrote an article about the oldest one and here is one for the youngest.   We have 2 Grand-boys – 5 years apart.

The first child or grandchild is usually a ‘trial child’ in what you allow or don’t allow or , what they can or can’t eat, or what they can do or can’t do.    When the first grandchild was born, we lived 13 hours away from them.  When he was  three years old, we brought him home with us  from a visit there and he was an angel all the long  drive home.   When we were 2 miles from home,  Dan asked  once, “Are we there yet?”   He stayed a week, enjoyed himself up until the time his parents came by to take him home.

When the 2nd child came along five years later, everyone was somewhat ‘relaxed’ about having ‘young-uns’ in the house again.   When new arrival, Drew, turned three, we had relocated and were now only 2 and a half hours away.   We were relaxed and practiced grandparents and looked forward to taking the smallest one home with us.  Big brother was in school and one weekend we drove up to pick up our visitor to bring him back with us for a “vacation”.

Drew was very excited about being with us.   We enjoyed going on ‘Tommy’s Train’ in Wilmington and spoiling him for anything he wanted for lunch and bought a big shopping bag for souvenirs, T-shirts and train replica kits.   We had a wonderful first day.  Happily tired,  we went home, had a snack and got ready for bed.    I did the dishes, Papa rocked him in the rocking chair and we sang songs.

Finally, I brought him into his bed, tucked him in and kissed him goodnight.   He was very quiet as I left the room.   Ten minutes later when I checked on him, he hadn’t moved from where I left him.   When I came around to his side, I noticed right away that not only was he not sleeping but streams of tears were cascading down his little face.

Alarmed he might be ill, I asked him questions and he shook his head no to all.  When I asked if he was missing mommy & daddy & brother, he nodded yes.   I told him if he felt like this in the morning, we would drive him home.   He nodded yes.  I noticed, too, that we forgot to take along  ‘Lamb’,  his going-to-sleep-since-birth partner. I called  his home  so he could speak to his parents and he then went into a sound sleep.

I was hoping he would forget this in the morning, but he got up and started packing.   We didn’t even ask if he still wanted to go home as we all got in the car and drove the two and a half  hours to his  home.

When we arrived, there was an unknown car in the driveway – a military buddy and his wife were visiting his parents.  We all went into the house, exchanged greetings and explained our return.  Shortly thereafter, we said our goodbyes to everyone to drive back home.  Drew shouted,  “Nonna, WAIT!”  He collected  his gear  we had brought back with us (and this time Lamb was included) and Drew said “I’m ready.”  We told him that was fine but we weren’t coming back again until 5 days had passed  – would he be OK with that?  And he nodded up and down in agreement.

We brought him back with us and he was a perfect guest for the next week.   No tears, no missing home — he was very relaxed.   And we had a great week.

Why that  extra trip home?  We never found out.   My instinct is that he had had never been in the new surroundings and he may have thought that was his ‘new home’.    Plus, Lamb wasn’t with him.   And by taking  home that first next day, he was convinced that we weren’t going to keep him forever.  And perhaps there was that good feeling that he had some control in when he could go back to his family home.    Sometimes, grown-ups have to listen to little people’s thoughts or wishes even if they don’t understand why themselves.   To his credit,  if he hadn’t insisted on coming back with us again,  he would have missed out on a happy, memorable and cuddly visit.   And a great memorable  gift to his grandparents.

 

A Marriage Tripod

 

We attended a wedding this past weekend. I truly love weddings. There’s something about wedding ceremonies that evoke emotions of love and commitment to celebrate the joining of two people in a new life path.  Sometimes the couple express their feelings towards each other, in a spiritual or scriptural setting. The blessing asks for happiness, joy, commitment, sharing, and always love.

It is sad that many marriages break up – between 45% and 50% of them.  But, what about that beautiful wedding and all the emotions that got stirred up?  Where is that couple who vowed to love each other forever, forsaking all others?  Where and why did 45 to 50% of them falter?

They may have forgotten something. They may have left Someone out.

The traditional wedding ceremony usually involves a religious setting, asking God to bless the union, free it of jealousy, anger, infidelity and selfishness.  Church weddings include God in the service and He is a part of the day’s happiness and union.  A large part.  One in which the entire family partakes.

The marriage union has more chance to succeed if they remember to include God in their relationship from the very beginning.

Having God in your marriage is like being part of a tripod.  It won’t stand on just 2 feet.  It needs the 3rd foot for balance.  It is an essential accessory for holding a marriage steady at slow-moving speeds or when we plan long, hoped-for ranges.  A God-tripod is the best way to prevent a problem marriage. Otherwise, without it may cause out-of-focus problems or topple over and have to be discarded.

Marriage unions can strengthen by attending and working at church activities or ministries together. Doing so keeps an awareness of keeping God in the marriage. Scripture heard at chuch reminds couples to: Accept one another;  Care for one another;  Carry each other’s burdens;  Forgive one another;  Encourage, build up one another;  Spur one another on to love and good deeds,  Confess your sins to one another; and Pray for one another.

Pray together.  It is difficult – almost impossible – to feel anger or not forgive someone when you pray with him or her.  Work at not ‘holding on’ to any anger overnight – it may still have embers that may flare up in the morning.  “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Taken all together, these Scriptures are a blueprint for a happy marriage.  Include God in the blueprint, and you will be blessed with a mate who will love you as much as you love back.

A happily married couple once told us their secret:  You have to feel that both of you are giving 125%.  Include God in that percentage and your odds will go way up.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy… husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies…….each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:25-33)

© Marie Coppola Revised 7/30/ 2018

I Found My Thrill in the NICU

Like most mothers with newly married daughters, it wasn’t long after the wedding ceremony that I obsessed on becoming a grandmother.   Being Italian, it was very important to join that rank of becoming a  “Nonna”.    It was two years and 6 months later that my daughter and son-in-law  dropped by and announced that they were expecting.   By July 4th, the anticipation day, I would be holding my first grandchild.  Such excitement.

The day came a little early, June 29th which was my father’s birthday.   More excitement.   We waited for the ‘good news'(a boy or a girl?)  but did not expect that  our first grand-baby — a boy — was in one of our finest hospitals – in the NICU.   I didn’t know what that was but quickly learned it meant a neonatal intensive care unit, also known as an intensive care nursery  specializing in the care of ill or premature newborn infants. Neonatal refers to the first 28 days of life. Neonatal care, as known as specialized nurseries or intensive care, has been around since the 1960s.    Here we were in 1995.

Our new baby, named Daniel. was a small being covered in wires, tubes and other apparatus in a small incubator.   A blood disorder was the suspected cause; only family members were allowed in the room lined up with other incubators.  Mandatory clean linens and masks were distributed to be in that room – and immediate family only.

Daniel’s parents were there all the time; she was nursing Daniel and brought him her  colostrum, the first secretion from the mammary glands after giving birth, which is rich in antibodies and very good for infants.  She continued to do this everyday.   The traveling. the worry and stress from not bringing a baby home after it’s birth was tiring and disturbing to a new mother.   It is a challenge to all mothers who have everything in place except the baby.

The Fourth of July arrived five days later .  Normally this holiday is a family picnic day,  but  there were little changes in little Daniel.   We all talked the new mother into attending the picnic – a much needed change of scenery.   We all attended and it did help.   After a couple of hours I excused myself and left.  To get home,  I had to go past the hospital.   I parked and went into the NICU.  There was little traffic that holiday afternoon and less in the hospital;  and since it was a holiday, the hospital was  small-staffed that day.   A baby was crying when I arrived and the nurse, who recognized me,  said that was my grandson.

I asked if I could hold him – I never had.   She said since it was so small staffed, it would be helpful and appreciated since he had come off all his attachments and had been crying on and off all morning.   She got a hard chair for me to sit on.  She left me and then returned and placed Daniel in my lap.   He was so precious and beautiful without his wires and he drew in a big breath and sighed loudly.  Almost sounding relieved.   I pressed his papoose-type blanketed little body close to my own and hummed lullabies and rocked him until he fell asleep.

He slept while I held him for the next 3 hours.    The nurse came by and asked if she could take him and put him back.   Reluctantly, I said OK.   He didn’t wake up;  he had kinda worn himself out.  She thanked me and said, “Have a good day”.   I answered, “I already have”.   When she took him, I felt the very warmth of his body still next to  my heart.

That feeling of warmth and love for Daniel has never gone away – I still feel it after 23 years.

Marie Coppola  July 2018

 

afraid to fly

 

As we age, don’t our time spans seem to shorten?   If you are retired, you may remember thinking how much extra time you would have if you could only retire early.  Work days slipped into welcome weekends in which weekly chores, grocery shopping, social events, catch-up events and anything else not work-related took precedence.   Before you blinked twice, Monday rolled around again and back on the merry-go-round.

Somehow all those things got done until we did retire.   Retirement was going to bring meditations, exercise classes, dieting, volunteering, church work, and vacations.   Lots of visiting and long week-end vacations, home or away.    We could lounge at the pool or the beach and read all the books in the bookcase that never got read.    Have tea parties, cook-outs and grandkids visit.   Frequently.   Well, occasionally.   All right – when everyone is available at the same time.

Now that retirement came into fruition and the recent announcement that the highest new age demographic is for folks over 100 years old, is it what we dreamed about?   Nope.  There is so much going on that days slip into weekends and less is getting done than ever.   What happened to those old-time summer-time school vacations?   Do you remember?

By the meteorological calendar, spring starts on March 1. The seasons are defined as Spring (March, April, May), Summer (June, July, August), Autumn (September, October, November) and Winter (December, January, February).

Think back to middle school.   We started school every fall after Labor Day in September and had a school winter and spring vacation.  They were short.   Summer vacation (also called summer holiday or summer break) where students and instructors are off school from doing work typically last between 8 and 9 weeks; summer break is  approximately 2.5 to 3 months, with students typically getting out of school between late May and mid-June and starting the new school year between mid-August and early September.

Do you remember how eagerly we looked forward to summer break?   No more teachers, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks.  Bring it on.  I remember the lightheartedness and happiness of not having to get up in the morning, rush and get to school on time and don’t forget all your books & materials.   Sounds something like the future ‘working days’.

What I remember most about my own personal summer vacations is we didn’t always go on one.  We might have gone every few years or at least visit the beach for the day.   So what did I do for almost three precious months.   I complained incessantly that there was ‘nothing to do’ and repeatedly that I was bored (which brought suggestions to do work around the house.)   I couldn’t wait to get back to school to learn new things but especially to see all the kids I knew from kindergarten who changed in looks every year when we all returned back to school.

Out of boredom mostly, I pleaded with Mom to buy me a pair of moccasins – I have no idea why I wanted them – I guess they were popular with teens to wear with dungarees.   My mother handed me the Sears catalog and I spent quite some time analyzing which ones I wanted to order and then the long wait for them to be ordered and mailed.   It took 4 weeks for them to appear.   I was happy to get them but immediately became bored with them.

I remember sitting in the backyard wishing that school started next week so I could wear my new moccasins to school.   I did little that summer but wish the time away and polish my moccasins.

Imagine having almost 3 months to do nothing — but instead get bored.    Is that why there is a saying that ‘youth is wasted on the young’.

Marie Coppola  July 2018

 

 

 

Flag Day is July 14, 2018

Flag Day is observed on June 14, 2018 .  It began on June 14, 1777, when the Second Continental Congress made a resolution about a flag for our country.

“Resolved, that the Flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation,” it said. 

How did it come about?  The flag was honored on June 14, 1877: “As instructed by Congress, the U.S. flag was flown from all public buildings across the country,”

William Kerr, was involved in setting up the National American Flag Day Association in 1889.  It is said that Kerr would meet multiple U.S. presidents as part of the years he spent trying to make Flag Day be recognized.

After speaking with Kerr, President Woodrow Wilson wrote  “I therefore suggest and request that throughout the nation and if possible in every community the fourteenth day of June be observed as Flag Day with special patriotic exercises.

President Harry Truman later signed Flag Day’s permanent observance into law in 1949.   Flag Day is not a federal holiday but is a state holiday in New York and Pennsylvania.  Some places in the United States hold Flag Day parades. Presidents have also issued proclamations for National Flag Week.

Since these patriotic beginnings, the Flag has been burned, spit on, misaligned and disrespected by people who will not honor it and don’t think America is good.  A US President once said the Star Spangled Banner should be changed because it incites violence with ‘bombs bursting in air’.   Had that President read the story behind the bombs bursting in air, he would have realized that countless men died from bombs bursting in air to keep the flag flying.  It denotes bravery, sacrifice and love for one’s country.     For most of us, the Flag is raised on patriotic holidays and respected.   Our military and veterans have offered their lives to keep the Flag a symbol of America’s freedom and bravery.

 

Fathers are Important

 

Children need both parents’ influence for a balanced upbringing. They usually get more nurturing and care-taking from their mothers.  And fathers  supply discipline, authority, companionship and an example as a role model.   Role models are important for both boys and girls.   Boys look to their dads as the type of father they want to be when they grow up; girls look to their dads as models of a possible future mate. Fathers’ praise, unconditional love, encouragement, support, and guidance are as important to children as the fostering acts a mother supplies.

Research has concluded that the father/child relationship is more important than once believed. With a baby, a father is usually more physical at playing games than the mother and makes a playful and joyful contribution to a baby’s life. As small infants and children, they can receive assurance and empathy from a dad when mom is not available or busy with something else. School age children benefit from the caretaking of dads who help with their care in transporting them to school and activities, helping them with homework, or teaching them responsibility. Many fathers join in sports activities with both boys and girls through softball, baseball, football, soccer and form a lasting team tie with their kids.

During adolescence and puberty, the dad can take on more of an ‘advisor’ role as the child may focus more on the mom and her guidance at this age.  But the father is in the background, offering advice and decisions about what is going on in their lives. It’s a busy, bustle time within a family especially when a child can spend some quality time with their father sharing a sporting or camping event or even on a trip to the mall.

Personally, I loved to play cards with my dad and we spent many hours together with him teaching me pinochle and all kinds of card games that I love to play today. The time together is more  an endearing, special memory.   The card playing takes second place to the camaraderie of  sharing of an enjoyed pastime.

Children who have both parents who express these characteristics are blessed, indeed.   If not, perhaps they may have grandparents, step parents, aunts, uncles or guardians who also exhibit traditional and loving nurturing.  Studies show that a father who exhibits love, kindness and faith values to his children – in turn foster those values that their children will emulate with their own children.

Although there are children, who, for various reasons, may be absent a father, a family male may be able to fill his shoes.  The father  may have died, or separated away from the family, or simply is out of the picture. There can be a family member or male friend who can pitch hit for an absent father and help fill the void a father leaves. An absent father or male influence  in a family could make his child at a higher risk of drug abuse, smoking, alcohol abuse and other risk-seeking behaviors. Other problems with absent fathers can result in unhealthy relationships with others, poor grades in school, and problems in social and school activities.

It’s hard for children to understand parents who are not good at parenting or not available for them. What they get is what they see. Teenagers can be a challenge to raise in any family and it is made even more difficult with fathers who seem to be immature, irresponsible or simply not there.

If you have such a father, remember, we are all imperfect and in time, hopefully, they might realize the strong bond of family they have with you. If for some reason, this is impossible, and you will never have a relationship with your biological father, at some point, you will have to accept this. It is not always possible to make the natural connection that would have been there. It is not your fault; but it’s time to get past it and move on. To suffer with it if there is no solution, is not beneficial to you or anyone.

At some point in our lives, all of our fathers will leave us. For those of you who mourn a lost father, for whatever reason, take heart. We still have a Heavenly Father, Who will never leave nor abandon us. There are at least five places in the Bible, the phrase ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ – Deuteronomy 31:6; Deuteronomy 31:8; Joshua 1:5; 1 Kings 8:57; Hebrews 13:5. Our Father in Heaven wanted us to be sure to read it!  He promises always to embrace you, love you, guide you, help you and save you. He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Never. He is the Ultimate Parent; and He’s yours, forever.

Recently I heard a great quote by Sigmund Freud: ‘I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”  I will add: A father’s protection is needed in childhood as is our lifetime need for Our Heavenly Father’s protection. I pray for all children that they will have both.

 

Marie Coppola Revised  June 12, 2018