Monthly Archives: September 2013


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 on 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. I ran out and bought the book Fear of Flying by Erica Jong. Mainly, it was about sex, passion and sexual identity and not a word about the fear of flying. Well, not in the sense of flying in a plane.

After not sleeping the 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. Not a fun 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, Jose. 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.

After about 10 flights like this, I decided that was it. There was a plane crash the week before I had to fly to Charlotte, NC and a plane crash in Charlotte, NC the week after I got back and that blew my 'odds' that lightning couldn't strike twice in the same place. What are the odds of that happening?

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 Sicily 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, Jose. 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 (depending on the wind) 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 bought 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 amount of 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. Even with rides, it can be stressful doing that.
  • 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 (yes, it can happen) 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 concurrently - with head gear so you can watch, go back or pick it up wherever you want and whenever you want. They also have these neat 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.

There are blankets, but I bring a warm, long sweater; it's cozy while closing your eyes even if you don't sleep.

I do bring a Tylenol PM and take it around 9:00 pm our time. With the time change, you will be flying into the airport around 7:00 am, and breakfast will be served - our time it will be around 1:00 am but it will be light out and you will eat breakfast. And get on with another day even though it is early in the morning our time. {I don't sleep until nighttime - their time - at 9:00 pm and go right into their time schedule.}

They also 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 and a breakfast and a snack served - all with alcoholic drinks. So if you don't Tylenol, you can drink. All these servings take up time and are a nice diversion from you worrying if the pilot is still awake.

Busy hands are happy hands - and two matters cannot occupy the same space at the same time. If you keep busy, and I promise you will, 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 all my fears and fidgeting was a take-off with my relaxed husband and me with white knuckles. I looked at him and he smiled as we took off, and said sweetly, "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 © September 2013

Which gives the best results in a neighborhood, a POA (Property Owner Association) or an HOA (Homeowner Association) ?  The differences are very minor and very difficult to separate. Some people credit POA's over HOA's but, in the end, the results are the same and so is the importance of maintenance. 

Many states have developments that are governed by HOA's or a POA . An HOA is put in place to protect property values and improve the neighborhood. There are some HOAs that may seem picky in their restrictions and rules, but the bottom line is -- they are trying to maintain good appearances in the neighborhood and uphold the covenants that home buyers sign and agree to uphold when they buy a house with an HOA attached. 

People complain about HOAs if they receive letters saying their lawn needs to be cut or you can't park a boat on your lawn, but these are rules that are agreed to when you buy your home. Some neighbors get incited when they are informed to uphold these contractual agreements, and harass the board members who are volunteers and not personally trying to get you to do what they want to. They spend their unpaid-time to keep your property in good shape as well as their own. 

If a neighborhood allows subletting or renting a home in the development, the owner, not the renter, is responsible to abide by the rules and restrictions. If the renter does not mow the law, or breaks the rules, the owner will get the letter and subsequent fine if it is not remedied. Unpaid fines can cause a lien on the owner's property. 

You can usually tell where there is an HOA in a development. It will be well maintained with pleasant surroundings. There won't be any shocking green homes with hot pink shutters. It may be that some HOAs go overboard with their restrictions and rules, but it is meant for the good of the appearance of the development. If a shocking green house with hot pink shutters hurts your eyes, it will also hurt the eyes of potential buyers; the HOA can help you maintain your investment.

The HOA can also help decide disputes or mediate zoning or structure requirements. And save you money by settling it through mediation or through the management company, if they employ one.

 If you are a free spirit who wants a shocking green home with hot pink shutters and trailers, boats and cars parked on your lawn and knee-high grass to be cut when you feel like it, or let your dogs poop without scooping, you won't want to buy a house in a development with an HOA. 

 

On the other hand, if you like well-maintained lawns and neighbors who have a like interest in keeping their houses mildew-free and kept up with repairs, an HOA development is for you.

©Marie Coppola Revised September 2013

When native Sicilians' favorite Christmas vacationland is right in their backyard, you know that it is a place you should definitely make time to visit.

Taormina, set high on a large hill, overlooks the Ionian Sea. The breathtaking view of Mt.Etna in the not too far distant is a breathtaking sight that visitors and natives enjoy over and over. Climbing the stairs of the Greek-Roman theater, it isn't difficult to visualize the events of long ago. This theater is the second largest in Sicily, not too far a drive from Siracusa, which boasts the largest. The theater is in excellent condition at any time, and all enjoy the panoramic view from the top of the theater.

Taormina's spectacular theater, which was built by the Greeks, overlooks the blue-green sea of the Ionian Sea, looking directly at Mt. Etna in distant Catania. The theater was later completely rebuilt by the Romans and is still used for classical plays and music.

Taormina ranks as one of the most beautiful holiday sites in Italy and a popular tourist attraction and vacation site. The flight from Rome to Catania Airport takes about 55 minutes. The descent into the airport with Mt. Etna to your right is one of the most memorable sights of the flight. The ride to Taormina is about 40 minutes by highway - taxi, shuttle or bus. .

Taormina is a commune village, very picturesque with cobblestone streets and open cafes. Taking a break you can have an espresso, cappuccino or a dolce (sweet). If you want a lunch treat, you can try an arancina (orange) a deep-friend rice ball with beef and cheese centers. And their pizza is delicious - usually small individual pies, with over 50 toppings. Enjoy a fresh-made gelato which is the best frozen dessert anywhere.

From the hill above, you can also view the village below, and the beautiful, unique bay of Giardini Naxos. Walking along there are designer bistros and many distinct boutiques. The side streets walks, offer fresh fruit stands, villas majestically adorned with breathtaking bougainvillea which blooms all year round. Make sure you have sensible shoes as the cobblestones are balance-challenging.

You can lunch or dine in the outdoor cafe overlooking this magnificient scenery. Good local cuisine can be found at Licchio’s, Osteria Nero D'Avola, Trattoria da Nino, andTrattoria Don Camillo. Al Saraceno has fantastic views of Etna and the bay. As in most establishments, the owners are very friendly and family-like. And, with most tourist areas, if you dine a few miles down the road, the food is also delicious and less costly.

The fresh fruit is picked daily and one of the best taste treats; culinary delights await you in all areas. Taormina's climate, similar to southeastern U.S., has a Mediterranean or coastal climate with mild, wet winters. Coast winter temperatures average about 50 degrees Fahrenheit and it has hot dry, summers. It has always rained in October when we visit and the best times to visit are September and May.

You also have to have gelato which is like ice cream and you will always remember what it tastes like. It has less fat than ice cream and a distinct, delicious taste and texture of its own. .

It is commonplace to view original aotists’ renditions of this beautiful city as they are displayed in the center of the square near the Greek-Roman Theater. They are for sale and you can get a beautiful one-of-a-kind hand-painted treasure for about 25 Euros.

Sicily is an outstanding, beautiful country. The climate is similar year round to South Carolina’s. Fresh fruit abounds and culinary delights await you in all cities. Taormina is its "Pearl".

 
    
© Marie Coppola 2006

 

 

Residents in North Myrtle Beach have noticed a growing trend of more women attending bike rallies. They are not riding on the back of a Harley bike; they've moved up to the front and once they've done this, they don't look back.

American women are the fastest-growing part of the motorcycle business, buying more than 100,000 of them a year. Alongside baby-boomer men, who make up a large male rider population, women are continuing to take up riding solo. With larger paychecks and better corporate jobs, more women are choosing riding as their leisure pastime - making up 12.3 percent of owners compared with 6 percent in 1990. Ladies accounted for 23 percent, or 5.7 million, of the 25 million Americans who rode a motorcycle last year.

The typical motorcycle owner was 43 years old, according to the MlC's latest ATV Owner Survey. That was up from 1998, when the typical owner was 38, and a leap from the typical 24-year-old owner in the 1980s. There are indications that ownership is once again on the upswing among younger riders. Baby boomers still outnumbered Generation Y owners 2 to 1 in 2008.

Why are women choosing motorcycles? Some women, like their male counterparts, like the freedom from routines, parenting, and stressful jobs and opt for plain enjoying the sport, honing their skills, and enjoying the scenery. Some are grandmas, their kids are grown and out of the nest and simply put, "It's time for me".

Biker guys dress a little differently from the ladies. Instead of the male-look standard black leather jacket, more female rider clothes are being produced -- lots of pink, some with rhinestones, and many made from leather in blues and pinks as well as black. Even the Harley-Davidson skull emblem has undergone a friendly makeover on some clothes to include wings and flowers.

Women motorcycle riders are referred to as biker babe, chopper chick or cycle mama and they all have experiences with "helmet hair", raingear, heated apparel and proper boots. New riders should be aware that the ladies avoid loose frills or ribbons that could get caught in a moving part of their bike. They also avoid sequins around the neckline which may heat up in the sun - cause unnerving reflections and possible burns or abrasions from the bike's vibrations, as would any rough material, bead or button. Big, loose shirts can whip up in the wind and possibly cause loss of control. That's why an experienced biker wears shirts or tops with a tight fit or snug cuffs; thus prevent flapping and irritation. There's reasons why they wear form-fitting clothes.

Some celebrity biker babes who share the adventure, camaraderie, freedom of the road and the thrill of hitting the throttle, rolling into a curve, and feeling the wind are: Tina Turner, Angelina Jolie, Bree Turner, Cameron Diaz, Cher, Demi Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessical Alba, Kate Hudson, Lauren Hutton, Lindsay Wagner, Lisa Hartman Black, Pamela Anderson, Queen Latifah, and Sheryl Crow.

A reflection on the Harley pictured above, the Harley-Davidson Company or HD has been around for just over 100 years. It all began with two friends in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1903. William S. Harley stands for the H in HD. Arthur Davidson is one of three D's. The other two D's being his brothers, Walter and William Davidson. William Harley and Arthur Davidson began working on the prototype and eventually sought the help of Walter and William. Walter was a skilled mechanic. William was an experienced toolmaker and the group formed the HD Company. During 1903 HD turned out a grand total of 3 motorcycles.

Marie Coppola Revised September 2013

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Posted on September 11, 2013 by Ron Quinlan

Today is 9/11/13.    I remembered 9/11/2001.

About 8:50 I watched from my classroom a small group of women leave church. They had stayed after mass to say the rosary. They always had a long list of people and causes to pray for. One was always for anyone in the parish who needed a prayer. They had done this for years, saying the rosary for anyone who needed a prayer, for jobs and for people who were sick. This was part of their daily routine.

We have no idea of how many people benefitted from these prayers but I know on 9/11/01 there were 6 parishioners working in the World Trade Center. All six came home safe. Never underestimate the power of the Rosary.

Traveling in northern Sicily on the outskirts of it’s capital, Palermo, rising on a hilly area of Mount Caputo overlooking the Conca d’Oro (The Gold Basin) is the town of Monreale From this slope, overlooking the beautiful valley of d"Oro, is a magnificent display in the town of distinct Romanesque, Byzantine and Arab culture. ***Photo by Galen R Frysinger

The name Monreale (pronounced Mohn ree ah’ lay) derives from Latin Mons regalis that means "mountain worthy of the king". Originally it was an Arabic country house but it gained historical importance when William II built the famous Cathedral, of Northern, Classical, Arab, Byzantine and Norman elements - the best artistic styles of the Christian and Muslim worlds of the 12th century.

The 6,340 square meters of beautiful mosaics within is one of the world’s largest displays of this art only surpassed by Istanbul’s Basilica Saint Sofia. Its mosaics represent the final output of the generation who worked at Cefalù and the Palatine Chapel and is universally considered to be the finest Norman building in Sicily, The result is that the Monreale pictures close the era of the Byzantines and open the way for the great fresco artists of the early Renaissance.

 

King William hired every master who would come to Sicily and it is thought that some parts of the decorations were even made elsewhere for shipment to Monreale. Throughout are panels depicting biblical history***, portraits of Christ*** and the Virgin Mary , courts of angels, prophets, and saints - all of outstanding expert workmanship*** and beauty.

 

The cathedral of Monreale has survived almost unchanged for eight centuries. As you approach through the cloisters which are no less artistic than the cathedral and are Arab style. Intricately carved are biblical scenes and figures from the Old and New Testaments***, so much so that it is difficult to take it all in. The cloister columns, too, are completely inlaid with mosaic designs. There are 228 columns in the cloister. Inside the cathedral are scriptural scenes and stories all portrayed by swirling and flowing inlaid mosaic designs. It is beyond words to describe the ethereal beauty.

 

The day we visited and viewed this treasure we were all silently overwhelmed over the artistic wonders before us. Suddenly, we and other visitors to the Cathedral that day, were interrupted by a bridal party who made their way down the long aisle, complete with family and bridal party. The multitude of visitors collectively stood silent while the bride and groom exchanged their vows in this magnificent cathedral with hundreds of unknown wedding guests. It is a common experience, we were told, and many weddings take place in this way. What a memorable wedding day!   See them at the altar in above picture.

The splendor of this cathedral, and outlying buildings and cloister  remain vivid in my mind. In reality, a gift of a mosaic heart designed by the artisans of Monreale remains in my heart collection shown here > [ mosaic heart ]

Special thanks for permission of photos *** to and by Galen R Frysinger -http://www.galenfrysinger.com/monreale_sicily_cathedral.htm

Other Photos by Wikimedia Commons - - Mosaic Heart photo - by Marie Coppola   Ref: "The Cathedral of Monreale" (Italia)

Marie Coppola © March 2010

 


 

Antacid sales top $ 10 billion annually! And acid indigestion plagues a third of U.S. population. Even when the economy is in better shape, acid indigestion and heartburn plagues about a third of the U.S. population. About 100 million Americans experience heartburn every month; about 15 million fighting it at least once a day.

What causes heartburn and indigestion? Eating on the run, skipping meals, eating junk food, nervous stomach from stress and volatile emotions such as anger or frustration can adversely affect your digestive system. How can you get your stomach to calm down after a stress-filled and / or frustrating day? Does stress at your job cause your digestive problems?

Employee surveys suggest that over half a million people believed they were suffering from stress, anxiety or depression, or some physical illness resulting from stress, caused or made worse by their work.

A busy workload, multi-tasking or managerial position can keep you motivated and create energies needed for such responsibilities. Although this kind of stress can reinforce commitment to your work, it can affect you negatively when stress becomes excessive or uncontrolled. Some indications of negative stress can be apparent by personality changes or behavior in work habits.

Stress is a response to pressure. Over a period of time, this can lead to under-performance, chronic sickness, heart disease or psychological damage or even major illness or death. Managers and co-workers should be aware of these signs which can create problems within the company. People under stress show such physical signs as headaches, increased blood pressure, panic attacks, anxiety, depression, and indigestion.

Stress can affect decision-making, inability to concentrate, spurts of irritability or aggression and changes in self-confidence. Work relationships can be affected, cooperation with others may diminish and stress could lead to either overworking or the opposite -- taking time off in increased sick days. Good employers and managers will recognize this and take appropriate supportive action.

Americans have made antacids a major category in a typical drug store's merchandise mix. Many people carry antacids around with them during the day in case they get bad heartburn, indigestion or stomach distress. If you take Tums regularly, large amounts of calcium carbonate-containing antacids can affect the balances of calcium and acid in the body and damage your kidneys. You should not take antacids over long periods as you could have a more serious ailment such as a stomach problem, or peptic ulcer disease.

What can you do to reduce heartburn and indigestion? You can try the following to reduce the stress associated with meals. If you get stressed in the office, do not eat in your office. Try to remove yourself from the stressful environment . Get away from your desk and walk or drive to another location to get your food. The walk should be made at a leisurely pace and if possible outside in a quiet environment.

Do not lunch at a busy restaurant as it can also add to your stress. Once you get your food do not take it back to the worksite. Find a quiet place to sit down and eat your food at a slow pace. This may be hard at first but a simple technique is to chew each bite of food ten time before swallowing. When you have finished your meal take your time getting back to your office. You will be surprised at how much this will relieve your indigestion and reduce your stress or anxiety. Upon returning to the office, you may be surprised to find that you can work more efficiently.

Going home, relax by breathing deeply and stretching your muscles. If you dine alone, put on some nice, relaxing music. Even if you are not use to it, say grace. It doesn't have to be formal, just gratitude for the food and for your blessings. Counting your blessings negates the negativity and stress stored up. Don't watch TV or listen to the news. That in itself will give you indigestion.

If you dine with family, concentrate on the positive and happy experiences of the day, not the negative or complaints. Use humor and good cheer. Laughter and happiness are good for digestion and relaxation. Have a glass of wine or after-dinner cordial with your mate or partner and spend me minutes alone if you have children. Bring the tempo down along with your blood pressure. Tomorrow is another day. You can dispel the stress from today instead of storing it up and adding it to tomorrow's.

© Marie Coppola September 2013