Monthly Archives: August 2013


 

 Why do we Celebrate Labor Day?

In the United States, Labor Day is always celebrated on the first Monday in September - the transition from summer to fall. As kids, we remember that Labor Day signified our return to school from our summer vacation. As adults, we put away our white slacks and shoes and prepare the grill for that last barbecue of the season. It is a looked-forward to three-day weekend from our chores or work, planning that last picnic or trek to the beach.

Labor Day originated in 1882 as a movement to recognize the efforts of the average working man. Although there is some discrepancy as to who gets credit for initiating the holiday, it was the Central Labor Union that held the first celebration on September 5, 1882 in New York City. Thus, it was designated that the first Monday in September as the official observation day and became an official holiday under a law signed by President Grover Cleveland.

Labor Day was originally celebrated by parades and demonstrations and rallies of workers banding together but today, it is celebrated by family barbecues, major department store sales, and the joy of a three-day week-end.

It is celebrated for workers' contributions of workers throughout America and Canada. Examples of accomplishments of the labor union movement include the eight hour work day, 2-day weekends, minimum wage, and decent working conditions. This is a far cry from the 58 hour week of old, although many people still work those hours!

Labor Day is a good day to reflect on the past summer and the advancing fall. Since it's the time in between these two seasons and a break from work, it's beneficial to just kick off your shoes and relax. We work hard all year and this day of celebrating and recognizing those efforts and the mantra of the day is R-e-s-t.

Rest is very important to our wellness and health. If you are working too hard or looking tirelessly for a new one job, and don't get enough rest, you compromise your immune system and open the door to illness and disease. As important as work is to our lives, rest is imperative, too.

God directs us to rest in His Book of Guidance and even He rested. God created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh. Thus, the Sabbath day; the anointed day of rest. Genesis 2:2-3.

It makes perfect sense that our bodies and minds require rest after periods of hard work; we are created in His image. It is for our own good that God gave us His example of resting and even commanded us to rest and be refreshed.

This Labor Day weekend, be kind to yourself. Put work in the backseat and enjoy your family, loved ones and friends. Refresh yourself. When the weekend is over, you will be ready to pick up your work again. Your rest will give you added focus and energy.

Have a wonderful, relaxing, and renewable weekend. Travel safe if you are going out of town.

©  Marie Coppola Revised August 2013

 

A few years ago, a good friend of mine, at 49 years of age, died of a massive heart attack. This vibrant woman, a champion of exercise and good health died after a workout. She had received her B.A. degree a month before with a grade point average of 4.0. It was later learned that her father had died around the same age of a genetic birth defect.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women 65 and older; it is the second-leading cause of death for women 45 to 64 and it is the third leading cause of death for women 25 to 44. In the United States, heart disease kills more women than any other health condition. All women of all ages should aware of heart disease -- its causes and risks -- whether it runs in the family or not. [See updated info below*].

Women's warning signs differ from those for men. The signs for women are not the typical heavy weight on chest, or heart-burn, shortness of breath, pain in arm or cold sweat. These symptoms are less likely to be a women's common first sign. Cause for concern in women are:

  • pain or discomfort in an unusual place such as: the jaw, elbow or even a tooth
  • an unexplained sense of dread, doom or anxiety
  • a feeling that something is not 'right'
  • a sudden weakness or heavy fatigue similar to 'flu symptoms' - more than 70% of women cited this one.
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea
  • indigestion
  • these symptoms may occur as long as a 'month' before an attack

A second attack could be completely different than a first heart attack.

Recent patterns in fatal heart attacks on both men and women, increase during the winter holiday season, especially around Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Research at the University of California, San Diego and Tufts University School of Medicine examined 53 million U.S. death certificates from 1973 to 2001. They discovered an overall increase of 5% more heart-related deaths during the holiday season.

Cold weather can add strain to the heart by constricting blood vessels which can raise a person's blood pressure. And there is more chance for blood clots to form. Cold weather can also mean more shoveling snow and adding increase strains on the heart. But even these reasons don't explain why there are 'spikes' of fatal heart attacks on Christmas Day and New Year's day. According to the Circulation study, “The number of cardiac deaths is higher on Dec. 25 than on any other day of the year, second highest on Dec. 26, and third highest on Jan. 1.” These spikes occur even in balmy, mild weather areas, where there is no snow shoveling.  [Ref: WebMD]

There are several lifestyle changes women can do to reduce your risk of heart disease:

  • Exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day on most days of the week.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Quit or don't start smoking.
  • Eat a diet that's low in saturated fat, cholesterol and salt.
  • Take prescribed medicines; ie, blood medications, blood thinners and aspirin
  • You may consider supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids or fish oil tablets for high cholesterol
  • Stay at a healthy weight
  • a normal body mass index (BMI) is helpful; a BMI of 25 or higher can be associated with increased risk
  • If overweight, a weight loss of 10-15 pounds can help to decrease risk
  • Take a daily low-dose or baby aspirin.

Leading Causes of Death in Females United States

All Females, All Ages Percent*
1) Heart disease 24.0
2) Cancer 22.2
3) Stroke 6.3
4) Chronic lower respiratory diseases 5.9
5) Alzheimer's disease 4.5
6) Unintentional injuries 3.5
7) Diabetes 2.8
8) Influenza and Pneumonia 2.3
9) Kidney disease 2.0
10) Septicemia 1.6

© Marie Coppola December 2016

References: MayoClinic.com; WebMD; Circulation Study; LHS, Your Health


Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership 

Many books have been written about good examples of leadership. The book, Jesus, CEO; Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership by Laurie Beth Jones is well-written, and a highly useful example of the characteristics of biblically-based leadership applicable to our management world today. Her book brings together the hard and soft skills of love, inspiration and good will into any organization's leaders or team leaders.

A preface in the introduction of this book states: "One person trained twelve human beings who went on to so influence the world that time itself is recorded as being before (B.C.) or after (A.D.) his existence.

 

This person worked with a staff that was totally human and not divine...a staff that in spite of illiteracy, questionable backgrounds, fractious feelings, and momentary cowardice went on to accomplish the tasks he trained them to do. They did this for one main reason - to be with him again.

His leadership style was intended to be put to use by any of us." Much can be learned from Jesus’ visionary leadership style today as much as it was 2000 years ago.

The author, a successful businesswoman, believes that Jesus' management style incorporates the best of masculine and feminine leadership styles, by harnessing spiritual energy, so that both males and females can become empowered leaders. She explains that this can be done by using three categories of strengths: 1] the strength of self-mastery; 2] the strength of action and 3] the strength of relationships.

The chapters are easily read and translate the process by which Jesus performed the above categories of strengths. Some of the chapter titles are:

Self-Mastery

His Statements are What he Becomes

He Kept in Constant Contact with his Boss

He Stuck to his Mission

He Believed in Himself

He Guarded his energy

He did not Waste Time Judging Others

He had a Passionate Commitment to the Cause

He Worked through his Fears

Strength of Action

He took Action

He had a Plan; He formed a Team

He Broke Ranks; He Came from Left Field and Branched Out

He Trained his Replacements

Strength of Relationships

He Clearly Defined their Work-related Benefits

He Treated them as Equals

He Held them Accountable

He Set an Example for Them

He Looked out for the Little Guys; He Served Them; Defended Them and Gave Them Authority

He Loved Them to the End

This book is described as a must-read for college business courses. It exhibits the core competencies of training and soft skills.

© Marie Coppola   August 2013

How do YOU handle change?

Change is inevitable in all of our lives. While most of us don’t like change, life events force them on us; marriage, divorce, economy, family relationships, new jobs, lost jobs, relocation, illness of a loved one, and death of a loved one. Most change issues cause stress and/or anxiety. Even happy events can cause stress: wedding, new job, new house, new baby; even winning the lottery!

How do we handle the stresses of change? We might try drinking, smoking, eating, venting, exercising, or even joining a self-help group. Sometimes life hands us a ‘cluster’ of changes which can overwhelm us and cause us to lose our balance of life. What do you do when you are challenged with life changes?

Jesus experienced changes in His life. He was the son of a carpenter and in three years ministry became a prophet and Savior. He dealt with many changes and emotions: anger in the temple; frustration with His disciples; sadness when His friends died, and agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. How did Jesus handle these events? He often went out in the desert or to a quiet place by Himself to pray to His Father. Even Jesus needed to renew His soul.

Jesus can help us renew our souls that are shaken by stress. He offers us renewal of spirit and soul. Scripture teaches us: “Do not be afraid - I am with you. I have called you by your name. You are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27-31

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:5

You don’t have to make life’s changes alone.    Let Jesus help you.

©  Marie Coppola August 2013

 

As an Human Resource (HR) administrator, I became aware of many office "relationships".  Although it is estimated that 1/3 of office relationships end in marriage, they rarely did in our company  and most of them ended as a mini-soap opera which usually had high ratings for as long as it lasted. Even after the 'in-house general public' lost interest in the details, it still resounded in the halls at mention of a name:

"Is Hector* in Finance still after Giselle* in Graphics?"

Gossip dies slowly. Even after people leave the company, their names echo in the halls. And at lunch. Or in meetings.

It truly is not a good idea to date at the office. We are there to work, and budding relationships interfere with that mindset. If one has the misfortune to actually be in the department of the 'lovebirds', it can cause tension, stress and bad feelings amongst the group.

Especially if Giselle* takes longer lunch breaks with Hector*, or if Hector goes by her desk or office ten times in one hour.

And if Hector has supervision over Giselle, anything he does can be construed as favoritism. "Was Giselle's raise higher than mine?" "I think Giselle had more days off than I did," or "Giselle spends a lot of time of the phone with Hector while WE are we doing her work!" Infatuation or love does funny things to people. And love is better pursued out of the office than in the office. It simply does not belong there.

Many employees, in counseling conversations would confess their 'office' romance - perhaps because as HR administrator, this information is confidential and not to be repeated. Here are some dark aspects of a company or work romance. The situation is not an actual one but and been changed, but basically is the same idea.

An unattached department head's interest in an unattached subordinate caused a discriminatory problem and charge that she favored 'him' by giving him a promotion that had not been 'posted'. "'He" was given special training and seminars to gain the position," that was not posted nor offered to them". "'He' was given 'special projects'" and his car was seen overnight at her house.

Other details and allegations were made. The new manager eventually was transferred to another department and the department head was relocated. HR offered the remaining department employees further training and education.

The reason why many companies have rules against relationships in the office is due to facts similar to the scenario above. It is not uncommon. If the department head is worth keeping, they have to relocate her. The same with the man in his new role as a manager. That means juggling departments and groups and office space and many other details that can be costly to the company.

If they are not worth keeping, they may be let go and they might turn around and sue the company. The co-workers might sue the company for discrimination. Companies do not like lawsuits. This scenario costs lots of money and time - and companies are in the business to make money, not spend it on employees' personal lives or trying to right personal wrongs. As a result, they make rules against relationships in the office and sometimes banning married couples working in the same department.

Companies also experience work violence which, unfortunately, is also not uncommon. Threats or vindictiveness against an ex-love interest are out there. Some even experience bodily threats and/or shootings. Love or lost-love are strong emotions that can be triggered if the stress of seeing that person every day is heightened in drama. The whole department - no, make that the whole company - can be targeted and put at risk.

Be friendly at work, but not too friendly. Companies have lawful access to your emails so keep them business-like and not sappy love notes. You could be admonished for it. They have the right to do so. And who wants their personal life to be the talking points of the day.   If you do end up in a work relationship, take it away from the office and not in the office.  The best advice is: "Leave your personal life at home and focus on your job."  It could end in marriage OR unemployment.

*Names and situations are not true identities nor true examples.

Marie Coppola © Revised  May 2015

 

You can hear it in the air, in homes, and at the stores. School is reopening amidst a myriad of emotions. Some emotions bring tears of separation at watching a kindergartner get on her very first school bus; some are tears of elation watching their summer-vacation- "I’m bored" children return to the halls of learning and busyness. For some working parents, it is a relief from expensive day-care and for others it is that parent’s turn to transport the neighborhood crew to and from school. How do the kids feel about returning to school?  They either laugh, cry or throw up.

Whatever the scenario, the upbeat reason to return to school is to acquire wisdom, knowledge, and skills that will allow creativity and thought-provoking processes as well as behavioral and social experiences. There can be serious times – sometimes challenging or frustrating — but it can also be fun times with clubs, sports, class trips, and special activities.  Also on the plus side, there are friendships formed that can last a lifetime and even short friendship spurts teach versatility and diversity in getting along with others. A ‘special’ teacher can be an influence or mentor in future endeavors.

Guidelines and rules for school behavior are similar to those that students’ parents may have had, but here’s some tips for going back to school starting with a really good attitude. I offer the following – not for the parents – but for the returning students.

1) “Rules” cover a multitude of guidelines that all schools set forth for their students. Everyone must follow them if there is to be order and learning. Rules are important because you will be asked to follow rules all your life. And it causes stress and problems if you don’t abide by them. This is as true in school as it is in your life now or will be in your adult life.

2) Each school has dress codes. It’s important you follow them to the letter so that you won’t be surprised if you are sent home if you wear a pajama top to school. Or a curse word on your T-shirt. Or your underwear is showing more than your pants are.

3) The use of cell phones, iPods, and other electronic devices are usually strictly prohibited during the school day. Yes, that includes texting. Cell phones are distracting not only during class but in the halls. If you can’t control yourself - then leave them home or silenced in your locker.

4) Although we all get colds or sick, try to attend class regularly and be on time. It is important to ‘keep up’ with new lessons and equally important to be on time so that your tardiness does not take away from class time. Besides, it looks bad on your record which won't matter to you now but may in the future.

5) Do your homework and check it twice. Homework done hastily or while playing video games can affect your grade if it is incorrect. Give it your best efforts – it reflects who you are and what you know and how you express it.

6) Try to be friendly to all. Avoid ’cliques’ or being rude to other students who may be different. It can escalate to bullying or cyber bullying or discrimination which are detriments to all.

If you follow the rules, you can have a pleasant learning experience that will prepare you for adult life.  If there are situations that arise that are against school rules or are questionable in safety to you or others, don’t hesitate to notify a teacher or the principal. They want everyone in their school to have a safe environment.

I’ll add for good measure and take a slogan from the Army — Be All That You Can Be. It doesn’t mean living up to anyone else’s standards or trying to get a better grade than Amy or Juan – but simply doing the best work you can to your ability and being the best kind of person you want to be.  It’s all up to you. Have a great and successful school year.

© Marie Coppola, Revised August 2017