Coping


It's that time of year again. Frost is in the air, the football season is in full gear and thoughts of the holidays from Thanksgiving to New Year are becoming more frequent.

Some years back, it was said that you can expect to gain 5 to 7 pounds during this time of the year.  Since we were expected to anyway, a lot of us figured ~ what the heck ~ gaining a little weight can always be turned into a New Year's Resolution to lose it. This 5 - 10 pounds holiday binge-out projection was changed a few years ago; it was 'trimmed' down to an 'average'  5 pounds weight gain BUT only for folks overweight to begin with.

So ~ here's the new facts for Overweight & Obesity Statistical Fact Sheet;
Adults  ~ Among Americans age 20 and older, 154.7 million are overweight or obese (BMI of 25.0 kg/m2 and higher):  They include:  - 79.9 million men and 74.8 million women.

Of these, 78.4 million are obese (BMI of 30.0 - kg/m2 and higher): ~ 36.8 million men and  41.6 million women.   Is there a good chance anyone reading here is in those stats?

Despite what many people believe, the average adult gains only about  one (1) pound between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, according to a study from the New England Journal of Medicine. The news isn't all good, however. Other studies have shown that people who are overweight to begin with gain as much as 5 pounds on average this time of year and, in either case, it's tough to lose that holiday weight during the rest of the year.

The thing is that most people will not lose that one or two pounds and will keep it, especially if they are older (ie, anyone out of college).  And those one to two pounds a year may hang on for a lifetime. Many 40 year olds will tell you that they are 10 pounds heavier than they were in high school.  And they are the average weight people.

Bottom line: You may not be able to get into that little dress or those cool jeans on New Year's Eve that you bought during the Thanksgiving sale. Along with weight gain, there is some bloat from all the extra salt on prepared foods and dining out. Even more importantly, with all the emphasis lately on diabetes and obesity, it is sensible to curtail the amount of food you chow down during this holiday season.

So is there anything we can do to avoid extra poundage that wants to make themselves at home on you for life?  Yes, there is.

  •  The first and most obvious to-do is exercise. If you are on a daily exercise program and are a good soldier, chances are you will keep up with your routine. If you are traveling or having a house full of company or eat out more than often, then you may not keep up with it as usual. It's important to move around, especially with all those cookies and goodies around. Try to take a walk for at least 10 minutes in the morning and again in the evening. Walk briskly; pump your arms; it will help keep your metabolism revved up, to work on those extra calories. A 30-minute walk is even better. And stay hydrated - drink water to help clean out your system.
  • The second most obvious to-do is the fact that:  As long as you take in fewer calories than you burn, you'll lose weight. You don't have to eat from every dish on the table or at a party. It is difficult because you want to sample everything, especially home baked goods. Try to choose from protein dishes - chicken, meats, fish, beans. Fill your plate with veggies - go easy on the dip. Forego the bread and butter and pasta dishes. And potatoes. Go easy on the carbs. Try to graze with your first-made plate; wait 20 minutes for your brain to tell you how full your stomach is - and you may not need that second (or third) plate. And as much as we don't want to think about it; yes, alcohol - wine, beer and mixed drinks do have calories in them. The more you drink, the more calories you'll take in.
  •  Dessert can be deadly and you don't need to 'have a taste of everything'.  Someone (skinny, of course)  once told me that "you only need one bite of dessert....that bite tells you what it tastes like and every bite after that is going to taste the same."   Pick something you like (chocolate pudding is my vote here - I make it at home with skim milk) and bring it along as my dessert contribution). I notice all the thin ones go for the pudding instead of the tiramisu.

When I tried a popular diet,  I was allotted 18 points ALL day. You can pick and choose what you eat and you CAN eat a satisfying, nutritious diet within those points. HOWEVER, one serving of tiramisu and one serving of fried calamari = 18 points - and would use up my all-day allotment of food!   I don't eat tiramisu anymore but I love calamari - but like my skinny friend said -- after eating a few, they're all going to taste the same. Now I have a few and not a whole plate. Portion control is KEY.  Even some fruits, in excess, can be fattening.

Another changed rule for dieting:  they used to tell you to weigh yourself only once a week. Now they are saying that you should weigh every day and skinny down your diet if the scale is showing 1 or 2 pounds over your daily normal weight.

If you find that you overeat at one meal, neutralize your daily intake by cutting back at the other meals. A light breakfast of a poached egg on a light English muffin or a lunch of yogurt with fruit; or a cup of soup or a salad can help keep your calories in check. And it's good to cut back and give your system a digestive rest rather than overloading it at each meal.  Use common sense.

If you indulge and enjoy more culinary delights than usual during the holiday season, don't be too hard on yourself.  It is a time of joy, sharing and being with friends and family.  Remember that you can always 'fix it' in January and February;  if you watch out for the pitfalls above, you'll have less weight to lose!

© Marie Coppola Revised November 2016

 

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

images (111)

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

untitled-322
 What the New Year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the New Year.” — Vern McLellan

For the new year, many of us resolve to make changes in our life.  Forty to 45% of American adults make one or more resolutions each year. It is believed that the Babylonians were the first to make New Year's resolutions and early Christians believed the first day of the new year should be spent reflecting on past mistakes and resolving to improve oneself in the new year.   As 2017 begins, we may resolve to make changes in our life.

Here are the statistics on how many of these resolutions are maintained as time goes on:

- 75% of new resolutions get past the first week:   - past 2 weeks: 71%; - after one month: 64%; and - after 6 months: 46%.

If you are among the 25% that have already forgotten your resolutions or pushed them aside in the past, you are not alone. At least you tried to make a difference somewhere in your lifestyle. Some of us feel badly or defeated when we haven't 'stayed with it'.   Make it simple and don't try to change everything at once...some suggestions:

Try to Save Money

Saving money requires two things – planning and willpower. Even if it's a small amount, try to put some in a savings account. Don't misuse your credit or debit cards - paying the 'minimum' on your monthly bills is running up the interest and costs you more in the long run. Try to manage your credit cards so you can pay off the amount due each month.

Lose some weight

Weight loss is probably the most common resolution in history. Shedding anywhere from a couple pounds to a hundred pounds has frustrated people for years. Go slow - no quick fixes - watch your calories and portions and eat nutritious meals. Do an exercise you really enjoy; walking and dancing are great weight watchers. The only way to lose weight sensibly is to take in less calories and exercise calories out.   And portion control.

Quit smoking

Easily one of the hardest resolutions to keep is quitting smoking. You’re fighting an addiction, which is never easy. There are many methods to help you do this.  Yes, it can be done.

Read more books

While it might not be a common resolution, it is one that can help a lot. Reading is beneficial for anyone of any age. It might be hard to find time in a busy schedule for reading, but not as hard as one might think. Find a good book and read ~ one chapter a day.   [*Reading the Bible is a super plus].

Go green

Going green not only helps the earth, it also can save you some money. There's lots of ways to cut down on unnecessary items or include new habits to offset the bad.

Stay informed

In this era of immediate information it’s surprising how few people actually watch the news and make the effort to stay informed.  Listen to the news ~ watch more than one news outlet - watch unbiased news outlets, or at least watch a little bit from every angle. Read a newspaper - and make sure that you don’t only utilize one source for your news.  Bias is rampant. The more sources you get your information from, the more complete a picture you will get or the truth.  Find as many sources as you can from as many viewpoints as you can, and make informed choices based on all the information you take in.

Eat less fast food

Fast food is unhealthy especially if you eat it every day. Pack healthy snacks or find healthy snack bars. Taking a little time in the morning to prepare some food for the day ahead can save you money at the fast food place and at the doctor’s office.  And benefit your waistline.

Manage your stress

Some tips:  Move around doing cardio exercise;  stationary bikes while watching TV; or sign up at for an exercise program at a salon or gym. Get a hobby - something you like to do.  Writing, reading, volunteering or join a social group. Talk it out with a friend or confidante. It relieves stress.  So does going to your place of faith or re-connecting with God.

Managing your debt

Use a debt management service which can be available online and over the phone, but do research to find out which ones are reliable and trustworthy. Paying bills on time and paying as much on the principal as possible is a good way to slowly reduce your debt. There’s no quick and easy way, but try not to get overwhelmed, and attack it head on.   Cut down on credit cards.

Be charitable

Charity has a plethora of benefits, including tax deductions, a sense of pride, and of course the fact that you have just made someone else’s life better. There are literally millions of charities, and a myriad of ways to be charitable.  Find something you can get emotionally involved in. Like animals? Look into wildlife conservation groups. Have a soft spot for kids? There are plenty in other countries that could use some support. Find something you can get involved in and stick with it. If it means something to you, then your work for the charity will be that much more rewarding.  (Ref: CafePress)

Another aspect of charity is extending yourself for the good of others.  It is truly rewarding to both giver and recipient by reading to a shut-in, sending cards of encouragement to those in need, taking a widow or widower to lunch or volunteering in outreach programs.  Look around, there's many good works you can do.

Have a happy and blessed New Year!

© Marie Coppola Revised December 2016

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 never told me He would 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.  

Of special interest to me – 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 is ‘just like you”.    And isn’t that daughter you complain about having one abortion after another because you once did and are pro-abortion?  What about that sister you don't talk to because she's married 3 times just like you are? 

So...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 divorce him.  If your child sits around playing video games at age 20 and doesn’t work, 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 photo-taking. If something doesn’t fit well with us – chuck it or disown it.  (I need to add that there are some situations with others that can be very hurtful or unhealthy to all and these may need outside counseling, arbitration 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 and loving others which can be more effective and what we all need.   Withdraw temporarily, if need be ……but don’t disown.   God never disowns us;  And He calls us to do the same to others.  Try turning the other cheek - it's so much more beneficial to your stress and health.

Marie Coppola© Revised March 2017


From a U.S. perspective, sexual harassment in the workplace still exists, and it is under better control due to stricter rules and regulations put in place by companies and businesses to protect employees against this invasive behavior. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) describes sexual harassment as a form of gender discrimination that is in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

In 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court made employers more liable for sexual harassment of their employees. As a result, most companies offer sexual harassment prevention training programs and 97% have a written sexual harassment policy. The number of grievances filed with the EEOC has gradually decreased over the last decade. Approximately 15,000 sexual harassment cases are brought to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) each year. According to them, the number of sexual harassment complaints filed by men has more than tripled in recent years. Currently, approximately 11% of claims involve men filing against female supervisors. In the mid 2000’s, grievances dropped to under 12,000. It has been estimated that only 5 to 15% of harassed women formally report problems of harassment to their employers or employment agencies such as the EEOC.

Counselors in the workplace are often the first person an employee seeks out when someone is acting inappropriately to him or her. In a recent survey, only 29% of women who said they tried to ignore overt sexual suggestions responded that it ‘made it better’. Over 61% of the women said that what made it better and was most effective, was to tell the offender firmly and directly — to "STOP IT".

There are many offenses of sexual harassment; sexual harassment is not about sex and what bothers one person won’t necessarily bother someone else. Some think that any unwanted touch, sexual comments, or sexual attention is considered sexual harassment. Communicating and telling someone that these acts are offensive to you, may stop the action right then and there. Some people ‘test the waters’ and see how far they can go with individuals in the office.

Also, the above conduct is not sexual harassment if it is welcome or permitted. If you flirt back and indulge in exchanging off-color jokes, it is not sexual harassment if you decide a joke went ‘over the line’ and offended you. You’ve already given out liberal boundaries. It is important to communicate (either verbally, in writing, or by your own actions) to the harasser that the conduct makes you uncomfortable and that you want it to stop.

Sexual harassing behavior may be common, but it is not "normal" Here are some examples:

1] Verbal or written: Comments about yours or others’ clothing, or your personal behavior, or a person’s body; sexual or sex-based jokes; requesting sexual favors or repeatedly asking a person out; sexual innuendoes; telling rumors about a person’s personal or sexual life; threatening a person.

2] Physical: Assault; impeding or blocking movement; inappropriate touching of a person or a person’s clothing; kissing, hugging, patting, stroking.

3] Nonverbal: Looking up and down a person’s body; derogatory gestures or facial expressions of a sexual nature; or following a person.

4] Visual: Posters, drawings, pictures, screensavers or emails of a sexual nature; most companies have standards of what you can put on your walls.

If the offensive actions above are directed to you, then the following is suggested:

1] Demand that the specific behavior stop. Be direct, firm and say "NO".

2] Don’t make excuses why you don’t want the behavior; this implies that you would would welcome it otherwise. Don’t protect the harasser or pretend nothing has happened; it has.

3] Stand by your principles and state them. Harassers are good at making excuses and wanting to talk about it. Refuse to discuss the issue with them or be manipulated into thinking you are the wrong one.

4] The focus is on the harasser’s behavior - not yours.

5] Be strong; make eye contact and stand tall. Don’t smile - this is serious; not a social visit. If the harasser tries to make physical contact with you, grasp his or her arm away and say, "NO". "DO NOT TOUCH ME".

6] Tell others about the ordeal(s). If you are silent, it not only protects the harasser, but may instill him or her to be bolder.

The conduct of the harasser must either be severe or it must be pervasive to be sexual harassment. A single incident is probably not sexual harassment unless it is severe. If you feel it is, document any harassments and keep a log of when and what happened; include dates and if there were any witnesses. Save your emails on a CD and bring it home. Also bring home any notes, mail or emails that are related even if they are anonymous.

Try to have a buddy available as a deterrent or as a witness when this person tries to approach you. Document any actions involving your harassment if the harasser is in a supervisory position and subsequently gives you a poor evaluation or demotions, and keep copies of them. Likewise, keep similar positive evaluations or performance appraisals before the alleged incidents that will show changed behavior of the perpetrator’s part.

Go ahead with formal complaints with Human Resources and EEO, if it continues. Try to have as much documented proof and/or witnesses who can verify what has happened or seek others who may have had the same problem with the harasser. Consult with a legal entity if you suspect violence or stalking. Remember to stay calm. You did nothing wrong. Staying calm is important to your cause so as not to create a hostile environment in the workplace that it becomes a problem for the department and you become the problem, too. The harasser is hoping you do that to keep the spotlight off of them. The odds are on your side to have this situation remedied.

True Case: A long-time married employee kept asking another married employee for constant coffee breaks, lunch, dinner, etc. She always turned him down. She came to Human Resources when she asked him not to keep coming to her office and he still did, still asking. He started to put his arm around her and she asked him not to. She filed a complaint. She noticed one weekend that he was driving around her neighborhood although he lived a far distance away from her. She filed a complaint with EEO and he was terminated; he lost his benefits as he was under retirement age and subsequently was divorced.

If you are being sexually harassed, do something today. You won’t lose your job. Don’t think it will go away, or worry if it is a supervisor or high level manager, that you will lose your job. You won’t. But they might.

references: Sexual Harassment Support ; and www.SexualHarassmentLawFirms.com

Marie Coppola Revised July 2014

 

 It is an unfortunate fact of life that we simply can't get along with everybody. If we are lucky, we have good relationships with our family and friends and in-laws, but every once in awhile, there is someone who becomes a literal ‘thorn in our side.' Sometimes, it is apparent why this happens. But other times, as much as we analyze and pick the relationship apart, conversation by conversation, we can't understand totally why this happens. Call it karma, call it fate, call it 'that's life in the big city' ~ it can play havoc with our lives. This is especially so, if it is a family member, a spouse, or an in-law. What do you do when it is a sibling, a parent or God forbid, a spouse?

I was immersed in a dysfunctional relationship where emotions on both sides overrode logic. I tried my best to avoid social encounters with this person. When I couldn't or didn't, I either bit my tongue in all conversations, held back lashing back to a minimum, or feigned sickness to avoid him. On occasion, I worked more, socialized less or buried myself in a book.

When he was present, I felt stressed and prayed that the day turned out okay and not into a fiasco. Others were counting on me to mend the gap and just 'keep cool' or 'chill out' or anything short of sitting on me and duct-taping my mouth. They told me silence was golden. Even silence was stressful.

I tried many different avenues of being civil, thinking it may work out. But, when it didn’t work out, there was always a ‘stress situation.

He was a 'long-history person' in my life. We simply were like mixing oil and water. We always were. Words spoken were not taken the way they were meant. Get togethers became strained. Attempts to make it better made it worse; and the chasm opened wide and threatened to swallow us.

This relationship caused additional spiritual stress for me: didn't God tell us to forgive seventy times seven? Aren't we supposed to 'love one another as He loves us"? How could I reconcile this fractured relationship with my faith? How could I change into something I wasn't or accept what I couldn't. I knew I could not or want to change him. Over time, it was apparent it was futile and there was no solution.

One day, at church service, there was a vtisiting minister. His topic was "You Can't Get Along With Everybody." I was all ears. His sermon was loving, prayerful, scriptural and reality. He looked out at all of us and said, "You have to face the fact that you won't get along with everybody in life - it could even be someone close, a loved one or even a child of yours or a parent. You simply will not have a good relationship with him or her."

And then he offered, "Even Jesus did not get along with everyone. As a native Nazarene, he was not always welcome in his own neighborhood; people mocked him that "he was a carpenter's son - how can he think he is a Son of God; we knew him as a child playing. Jesus left his hometown and started traveling with his ministry. And when he and/or the Apostles were not welcome in a town, he told them to 'wipe the dust off their feet' and move on."

I talked with the minister after the service and told him how badly I felt about this relationship that I just couldn't seem to embrace or change. He answered, "There are some relationships you can't fix. Thank God they are few, but they simply will never be what they are supposed to be. Sometimes you have to walk away and leave them. Withdraw from them; they will eventually harm you. Wipe the dust from your feet and move on." BUT, he continued…."Always ~ ALWAYS, pray for that person, forgive them and forgive yourself. But always pray for them."

Please understand that this minister was not suggesting that I disregard any and all people that I had difficulty with and wipe them off like dust. Remember, we are all imperfect. And this wasn't a case of one being right or one being wrong - we were simply incompatible.

I found a serene feeling of letting go that day. And I followed his advice. I also began praying for that person. And that was very difficult for me. The first few prayers were stifled and stiff and seemed to get stuck in my throat. It felt so insincere. But I kept at it and in time, sincerely meant the prayer. I pray for this person to this day. I pray for his peace; I wish him well-being and remind myself that he is loved as a child of God just as I am.

With my change in attitude and prayer, I feel differently about this person. We may never be close but the awful feelings of animosity and dread are gone. There is no judgment or blame here -- it's just that...."As one face differs from another, so does one's heart."

But even different hearts can learn to live in peace.

Marie Coppola June 2014


Many of The Y generation say they do not want to be viewed in a casket after they leave this world.   They think caskets, viewings, funerals and people getting together when they are grieving, and especially attending a gathering afterwards is not something they want any part of for themselves or loved ones.   They don't want anyone to see them laid out - and they don't want to have a lot of folks around them - they want to just go home - alone.

From a different generation’s view on this: As I was growng up, I used to dread wakes, and the traditions surrounding them. As I got older, I realized the need for the grieving family and loved ones to process the loss they were going through. Some people die unexpectedly and the wake is the reality that the loss did happen.  When a wake is not attended, there could be a thought or denial that it did not happen ie, ‘I did not see it therefore I can’t believe it’.

The bereaved need comfort of family, friends and acquaintances during this most grieving time. As difficult and tearful as it is, it gives one a needed expression to release the grief one must feel at these times in order to heal and accept their loss.

The best thing to say to a grief-stricken person or family – if you don’t know what to say – is nothing at all.   Hug them, say I’m sorry if you need to say something – it is your presence that will be remembered and not your words. These comfort acts help heal the loss feelings – which could be overwhelming into a depression if not expressed – and may foster acceptance and healing.

Wake times have been shortened to one day since it can be a drain to a family who may have not slept in days. There are closed caskets, cremations and different memorials to the deceased. Wakes are a part of a person’s life just as baptisms or weddings are.  They are acts of respect for the deceased and their loved ones.   Sometimes there are quips and laughter in remembrances of the deceased and is not meant disrespectfully but in cherishing memories of him or her.

So are lunches after the cemetery. It’s closure – and better to be with people who knew and loved the person who died – than to go home right after the cemetery – -- alone with a heavy heart.  Shared grief will share the loss for all.   Wake viewings and funerals serve this purpose.

If you are a faith person, the wake is a celebration of a new life in eternity with God. Many churches focus on this positive instead of the negative. If you believe in the resurrection of the dead, then the wake is a celebration of their life here on earth and the new life they are entering.

Marie Coppola  October 2015

The Bible mentions angels frequently.   Angels are mentioned at least 108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament.   In the New Testament, the doctrine of angels is precisely stated.  Angels are everywhere -- the intermediaries between God and man.   I was taught that everyone has a guardian angel based on references to them throughout the Bible.

According to the Bible, angels are spiritual (not physical) beings; and they can take on human form or appearance.  

I met one.  

It was the month my father took ill;  he had been admitted into the hospital for a respiratory issue.  After some days, we felt we could take him home, but suddenly he was placed on a ventilator.  After he was on it for a week, our consultations with his doctors proved negative and worrisome.  The doctors wanted to continue the ventilator, but our dad looked uncomfortable and weaker.   We wanted him taken off, and it was a tremendous conflict.

Driving home from the hospital one especially frustrating day, I passed by my church, which is always a great source of comfort to me.   Impulsively and driven by worry, I stopped to see if the pastor was there.   I was told he was not.   I went into the church and while I quietly sat there, a young seminarian came by and asked me if he could help me.   He was such a young priest-in-training, but his kind eyes and compassion affected me; I teared up and couldn't talk to him.   He sat down by me and remained silent.  It was comforting just to have his presence.

When I got up to leave, he walked me to the door, introduced himself and gave me his card.   I had never seen him before or even knew that we had a seminarian.  I was a frequent visitor at the church as a volunteer and Bible class teacher.  I told him my dad was very ill and it did not look hopeful.

I also told him there were other issues in the family going on.  Dad's ailment evoked some see-saw emotions and not everyone was themselves.  That in itself was disturbing and distracting.  We needed to be a family unit at this time.  He told me he had a similar situation in his own family and shared it.  He asked me where I lived which was a few blocks from the church.  He also asked me for my phone number and if he could visit with me at the church again or at my home.  We exchanged numbers and cards.

I got in the habit of stopping at the church each day after work or hospital visit, and the seminarian was always in the church.  He would smile and ask me how my dad and the family were doing.   We would chat by the door and he shared his death and loss experiences, which helped me understand my own.  He had a comforting style and always lifted my spirits after these visits.

Two weeks went by.  My father was still on the ventilator and the stress continued.   After one really wrung-out day, I didn't even want to stop by the church.   I went straight home and just sat in my living room for a long time trying to deal with all the feelings that were almost overwhelming.  My doorbell rang and I stepped out onto the porch and there was the seminarian.  He asked me if I could come out and sit with him on my lawn bench.

I had just prayed and it was so comforting to see him.   We talked awhile and shared feelings about families and deaths.  Looking back, I don't remember discussing any other subjects.  We only spoke  about death, prayers, the sick, loss feelings and our after-death beliefs.  He had such insights, stated them so beautifully - always with a relevant, strong spiritual aspect.   After such talks, I would think, "He has so much knowledge and he's so young."

From the time our dad went into the hospital and the time he left this life...it ended after 30 long days.   I visited with the seminarian almost every day until Dad died.

Our family planned the services immediately in our hometown which was 30 miles away from my own. Planning them, as most of us have experienced, took several days plus additional days of the services and funeral.   I was gone from home for almost a week.

Returning home, I thought of the young priest-to-be and felt so thankful for the guidance and friendship he showed during the past month.   Many insights he shared with me came to mind during the funeral service and highly emotional moments.   Again, impulsively, I pulled into the parking lot and went to the church office.   I asked if the young man was available, and the secretary said that he was done with his parish work here and was reassigned to another parish.  She wasn't sure which one it was, but could check for me.

I told her it was not necessary.  He was an Angel and Heaven-sent.  I don't believe in coincidences. He was there throughout my dad's entire leaving-this-world process.   He never asked me for anything nor did he ever tell me any of his own issues or personal problems.   He solely helped me get through my impending loss.   And he did just that.  I was filled with gratitude for the daily comfort he brought.  He fulfilled his 'assignment' and moved on.

I never saw or heard about him again.   And I am grateful to God for sending him to help me through a bad time......."For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways."  Psalm 91:11

Marie Coppola June 30, 2014

 

Bullying has been with us since the first one-room schoolroom. Name-calling, insults and spreading nasty rumors were part of growing up.  Now, with the internet and it's social sites, password theft and intimidations, threats, embarrassing pictures, telling secrets or giving information without permission are added - and is passed around with lightning speed.

 

It is disheartening to read about school administrators across our nation trying to curtail these unwanted attacks and being thwarted at attempts to stop them. When they are aware of these bullying actions, some administrators and schools react to them, having set up programs to prevent and punish the perpetrators. And now -- judges have ruled against them for doing so.

A California 8th grader complained she was called names, including a 'slut', in a YouTube video, which was posted by a classmate. The school administrators punished the classmate by suspending her. A U.S. district judge ruled this was illegal due to the fact it was 'without any evidence that such speech caused a substantial disruption of the school's activities.'

Even more disheartening was the news that a student was suspended in Pennsylvania because he posted insulting remarks about his principal calling her a 'big steroid freak" and a "big whore". Again, a U.S. district judge lifted the suspension saying that "non-disruptive speech online couldn't be punished even if the offensive material could be accessed on school computers". (Ref: LA Times)

Public schools can prevent students from calling names in a classroom or even school grounds if name-calling disputes can interfere with lessons, but have not sought to extend discipline to cover conduct outside school hours. And there are tanglements and differences in legal opinions if insults or harm to another student comes from the classroom computer or a cell phone voice mail.

Cyberbullying starts in elementary school, peaks and intensifies in junior high and continues through high school. Preadolescents get involved in cyberbullying through emails, chat rooms, and instant messaging. Websites such as MySpace and Facebook have added to it.

According to the National Crime Prevention Center, over 40% of all teenagers with Internet access have reported being bullied online during the past year.

Girls, more than boys are victims of bullying over the net and the percentage increases with the amount of time they spend online. A small percentage - about 10% - actually tell their parents about their bullying incidents and only about 15% of their parents are aware of their kids' online activities. And about 20% are reported to the National Crime Prevention Center. Teens believe they have to 'live with it' and usually won't tell their parents because they are fearful that their parents will restrict their online use or cancel their accounts, which are very popular among teens.

The problem is exacerbated by the use of camera cell phones and digital cameras - taking videos of unsuspecting victims in various situations and posting them online without their permission or knowledge. We've all seen TV news on two teens fighting while someone is videoing it instead of stopping it. Personal phone calls are recorded and posted as well.

This has become a world-wide epidemic. Even in countries like South Korea, a highly regimented culture in which the young are discouraged from speaking their minds with parents, teachers and bosses, young people, at home in their rooms, let loose, and often become provoked into maliciousness. Min Byoung-chul, a professor of English at Konkuk University in Seoul, cites the society's hyper competitiveness as a key factor in online meanness. "Many assume cyberspace is not inhabited by people with real feelings who can really be hurt," he said. "I was alarmed at the level of maliciousness on the Internet," Min said. "Many people enjoy hearing about how much damage has been done to the target person. There needs to be more civility."

With the growing increase of bullying overall and lack of respect for all people, cyberbullying has escalated into a world-wide problem.

The 'Archives of Suicide has focused on this problem and calls it 'cyberbullicide, defined as “suicide indirectly or directly influenced by experiences with online aggression” (Hinduja & Patchin, 2009).

The study found that "youth who experienced traditional bullying or cyberbullying, as either an offender or a victim, scored higher on a well-validated suicidal ideation scale than those who had not experienced those two forms of peer aggression. Moreover, bullying and cyberbullying victimization was a stronger predictor of suicidal thoughts and behaviors than bullying and cyberbullying offending."

"Traditional bullying victims were 1.7 times more likely and traditional bullying offenders were 2.1 times more likely to have attempted suicide than those who were not traditional victims or offenders. Similarly, cyberbullying victims were 1.9 times more likely and cyberbullying offenders were 1.5 times more likely to have attempted suicide than those who were not cyberbullying victims or offenders".

Cyberbullicide does occur infrequently, but needs to be identified to inform prevention and response efforts.   Some victims of bullying have lashed back through attacks on the school or other innocent children.

One prevention suggestion: To all parents, especially if your child gets home from school before you get home from work: since the National Crime Prevention states that only 15% of parents are aware of their kids' online activities, it seems that is one of the first preventative measures a parent can take to ensure their child is not receiving or perpetrating bullying activities from their home computers is to check out where your child spends his or her time online.

---------------------------------------------------------

Ref: Cyberbullying Research Center; National Crime Prevention Center; LA Times

Good link on cyberbullying research summaries: http://www.cyberbullying.us/research.php

Marie Coppola October 2013