Family

FOR SALE :

An older but undeniably lovely Victorian-type old home brimming with charm. Three bedrooms - two the size of walk-in closets and a quaint 10' x 11' master bedroom - the only bedroom with a closet.  One of the smaller bedrooms opens up to full attic.  Attic frequently inhabited by one or two squirrels which if not attended to may find final resting places in the walls. Highly recommend flushing the gutters with water at least once a year. And make sure the poison is out of the reach of toddlers. Squirrel traps stay with home.

Recently renovated bath upstairs (8' x 5' - and only bathroom in house),  has one floor-to-ceiling window, which is conveniently flush-placed directly next to the toilet. It is recommended painting window black or glue-gun perpetual curtain covering. (However, convenient for air flow in times of duress).  For summer use when you open window, a full mask for private toilet use stays in bathroom. Tub wall completely renovated with new tiles where water was seeping through to the first floor and all floorboards have been replaced.  Bonus: heavy rope decor in shower in case floor buckles through while showering.

Beautiful parquet wood flooring on steps and downstairs including living room and dining areas. Flawless except for one spot permanently tattooed with deceased pet's urine spot. 10' x 5' rug will cover it. 10' x 5' rug stays with home.

Large eat-in kitchen complete with original cabinets repainted in new decor ~ French-deterioration & pickled look on top cabinets and bottoms. Antique early-depression eclectic stove with only front burners working. The back two are on unemployment. New dropped ceiling covers chipped antique ceiling tiles and cobwebs.

Extra cabinets were installed in the detached garage for extra storage. Folding garage doors work intermittently. There is a side entrance leading out from the kitchen but it is for decorative purposes only. We actually used this door once, and could not close/lock it for three days. It this happens, the police department is familiar with problem and will gallantly help you close it. Police number embedded in north wall stays with home.

Air tends to stagnate in winter - it is suggested that the 36 windows in the house are opened occasionally for air flow. Since the antique windows do not stay open by themselves due to extinct steel pulley hardware , you may have to prop them open with any item that is at least 26 inches long - ie, a walking cane or even a sleeping cat can nicely keep them from falling down. Pet insurance stays with the home.

A Plus Detail - Oldsville General Hospital is within walking distance just 3 blocks away. Should you have palpitations or anxiety attacks (their specialty) call the Emergency room (555-2555) and just tell them Marie sent you and they will take good care of you. We have a bonding relationship and this on-going relationship stays with the house.

Another Plus - Bats are plentiful in our area and should you air out the attic, some may radar through. This is convenient to kill the swarms of ladybugs that infest the ceilings in the spring and the cockroaches that snowbird in the winter. The bats do not need to be fed - they just fly in - and around - and out. Just be sure to keep the 36 windows open so they can depart. Bat droppings removal instructions stay with the house.

Don't worry about meeting people. In this ultra-friendly neighborhood, they will find you. Especially our cousin's son, Artie . He is a bachelor and might forget we moved. He may stop in from time to time especially on holidays and will insist we still live there. Just give him a beer or three (he likes Budweiser). If you know of any single ladies who may want to meet him, you can just give them his number (555-480-4080). We are offering a $500 reward if he marries one of them. Reward warranty good for 25 years.

Oh, and beware if a man named Hector calls and claims you are living in HIS house. Do not be alarmed. He is a past owner and also a patient at Greystone Institution and is delusional. He will calm down if you tell him that you are taking good care of it and that you always put his tools away. Don't mention that you are the new owner as that    might agitate him into a chain-saw reaction. Home insurance with liability and property damage coverage stay with house.

We know you will be ecstatically happy in this house and town. Our town is 2.3 miles square and has 21 bars. This is the absolute (no pun intended) truth. You don't have to walk far to have fellowship and companionship. Ask Artie.  He knows all of them. He spent so much time in them, that he forgot to get married.

We hope that you call soon for a walk-through which is only on Mondays and Fridays. You'll find out why if you purchase the house. Principals only - and we have just reduced this gem for $300,000. With all those extras! Woo Hoo!

Call for an appointment for any Monday and Friday. We know this is the house for you!!

Marie Coppola, revised February 2014, Copyrighted

 


"Before borrowing money from a friend, decide which you need more."  A. Hallock

Desperate times call for desperate measures and borrowing money can be one of those measures. Most people do not like to be in the position of asking a friend or family member for a loan, but in these economy-challenged times, the prospect of making a loan looms as a possibility due to shortage of funds. Banks are now reluctant to make loans and many families are experiencing job loss or foreclosures. To meet monetary responsibilities, some may look to their families or friends to 'make a loan'.

It has been said that if you decide to lend money to family or friends for whatever reason, to treat such a loan as a gift. Part of your decision to lend it, should carry the mentality that many people will simply not repay you. It is fair to assume that everyone reading this has borrowed some amount of money to a friend or relative, and never been repaid. Sometimes it's a ten dollar amount and sometimes it is in the thousands.

It has also been said that all loans to relatives should be considered that it is indeed a gift. Since it is a close relationship and you may be aware of the personal circumstances surrounding the request for a loan, the relative may find relief in that it is money that does not have to be paid back quickly because you know what a bind they are in and will have patience until they 'get on their feet' to pay you back. It the repayment is put on the 'back burner' of the recipient for a long period of time, they may either 'forget' about the loan or simply feel that since it is in the family, it need not be paid back soon..... or ever.

It's difficult to refuse to help a relative money-wise when times are going rough for them. If you prefer not to lend money, perhaps you could offer to help them out in some way -- to pay for an expense that is due, or aid them in paying a household expense or other outstanding charges they may have. Again, because of the relationship with family, and also with close friends, it may be uncomfortable to ask them for an IOU [I Owe You] stating the amount and date of the loan.

An IOU is a written statement of a borrower's obligation to pay back a loan or a debt, but makes no promises on how or when the loan will be repaid. If the IOU has the borrower's name, signature, address, date, amount stated, it could considered a contract that could be enforceable by a court of law to be repaid. Note that State laws and statutes of limitations may vary on the conditions to do so. IOUs are not usually notarized, but it wouldn't hurt if it is a sizeable amount and if something happened to the borrower and you needed to make a claim against his/her estate.

IOU SAMPLE:

I, [Borrower Name] , residing at ________________________________________________, borrowed $____________ [amount]

from [Lender's Printed Name] ______________________________ on [Date:____________________] and promise to repay the loan.

Lender's Printed Name & Signature __________________________________________

The difference between an IOU and a promissory note is that an IOU only states an amount that is owed to another party. A promissory note states the amount as well as the steps necessary to pay back the debt and the consequences if it is not. It may also be called a loan agreement or personal loan agreement.

A promissory note is a written promise to repay a loan or debt under specific terms. These notes could exist between any relationship consisting of two persons: parent and child, friends, co-workers, etc. This is usually defined by date, and specified series of payments, or simply paid back upon demand. It also verifies the borrower's obligation to repay a debt [with or without interest].

As a note here: Interest is regulated by the state and there are laws regulating it (Usury is defined as the act of lending money at an unreasonably high interest rate, this rate is defined at the state level. Repayment of loans at a usurious rate makes repayment excessively difficult to impossible for borrowers. This is also called "loan sharking" or "predatory lending". Ref: UsuryLaw.com)

The note contains the amount of the loan, terms of the loan, the interest rate - if applicable, the payment schedule and the rights and obligations of the lender and borrower. Promissory notes, like IOUs, do not have to be notarized in order to be considered valid. But again, it wouldn't hurt and could ensure repayment.

Typically, promissory notes are kept by the lender until the amount of money has been paid in full, at which time the payee can request the right to retrieve the promissory note for his or her records along with a written and signed receipt. This should consider the debt paid in full.

Information that should be included in Promissory notes are: Full legal names of both parties, Address to which payment will be sent ;

Interest rate if applicable (see Usury note above); Due dates for payments of both principal and interest; Signatures of both borrower and lender.

There are persons who genuinely honor their obligations and repay their loans. They will keep you up-to-date on their ability to pay amounts and when and how the payments will be made. These persons are very appreciative of the trust you offered and are eternally grateful.

Sadly there are more of the other variety, who make excuses, sometimes end friendships before they repay their debt or simply seem to forget about the loan.

Marie Coppola © Revised January 2014

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. The reader should seek and employ qualified legal counsel and not rely on information presented here for any purpose.

 

 

 

 

 

"Over the River and Through the Woods" is a well-known Thanksgiving song written by Lydia Maria Child. It was originally written as a poem, entitled "A Boy's Thanksgiving Day and celebrated childhood memories of Lydia Maria visiting her grandparent's house. Although it is sometimes substituted as a song for Christmas, our family never failed to sing this song in our unmelodic voices on our way to Thanksgiving Dinner at Nana and Grandpa's house. Usually driving over a bridge precipitates it and we break into song. It is a tradition that spills over into the grandkids. It goes:

"Over the river, and through the wood, To Grandmother's house we go; The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the white and drifted snow. Ohhh"

Over the river, and through the wood—Oh, how the wind does blow! It stings the toes and bites the nose , As over the ground we go."

Thanksgiving, like Christmas, is a traditional family gathering either at our parents, if we still are fortunate enough to have them, or a sibling or whichever family member does the cooking that year. The holiday conjures up memories of other Thanksgivings and more often than not, there is a big stuffed turkey, with lots of vegetables and trimmings. If you are Italian, or any other nationality, there is sure to be favored ethnic dishes piled high. We try to make sure we have room for the pumpkin, apple and mince pies - what is Thanksgiving without the memories of feasts we've shared?

The day, of course, is in gratitude for all our blessings and family members. As we gather round, we are grateful for the gathering and maybe some new additions to the family. There may also be some empty chairs for many reasons that once were filled, and we are grateful for the memories we hold for these family members, too.

We probably all have similar sayings and customs for this "Thank You Day" or "Turkey Day". I always say something which my mother always said when we sit down at 3:00 pm for dinner, "Do you realize how many people are doing this same thing right now?".....and most likely my daughter will say it someday when I'm not around in memory and fun. She does so already.

Here are some of our happenings on this special holiday.

  • After our first blessing, I ask one of the children to say grace. Children love to be part of an adult gathering and they love to say grace. They are thankful for everything, so make sure all the plates are covered against getting cold. The rest of the children want to add their thanks, too, and you get a good idea of what makes these little people the happiest. Anyone who wants to add a prayer, is welcomed.
  • After dinner, we always go round the table and each person tells everyone what they are most thankful for this year. The kids enjoy this part the most. This is always special as some people always joke; some always get very serious; some get emotional; and some articulate beautiful thanks to someone there who especially went the extra mile to help them. This part of the meal - while digesting - and before dessert - is very family-oriented. No hand-held video games, iPods, or cell phones are brought to the table.
  • During dessert, we ask if anyone wants to do the 'Christmas grab bag gift' idea. We started this when the family and kids and grand kids started to number 30. Instead of buying small gifts for everybody, we have a grab bag. Everyone's name goes in the hat and each person picks a name and buys a gift for that person and that person only. We put a price tag on it - one year it was $25.00 and that was a little too much for the teens and kids, so we settled on $15 or $10.

I wish you all a blessed and memorable Thanksgiving ~~~

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever." Psalm 107:1

Marie Coppola November 2013

 

 

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

I was brought up in an inter-racial neighborhood.   My grandparents were Italian immigrants and in those days, so were immigrant Irish, Jewish and other ethnic groups.  We understood prejudice because we were prejudiced against, too.   Our street was primarily black and white families.

Our family had many close ties with the other side of the street.   Everyone did, because it was a long narrow street and in many ways, we all depended on one another. For example, my mother got a part-time job and left the key to our house with Mr. Wind, one of the kindest black men on this earth.  Mr. Wind was there every day sitting on his stoop with his dog, Blackout, when I returned from school, with the key in his hand to our house. This was very comforting to a nine-year old who worried she wouldn’t be able to get into the house if Mr. Wind for some reason was not there. Mr. Wind was always there. He was a gentleman and I loved him like a grandfather. So did my family.  My family may have been imperfect, but their love and respect for our neighbors left little room for prejudice. I am grateful that love prevailed and prejudices got blotted out.

The main attraction for me was a family who lived diagonally across the street from us. They had a daughter - among a handful of children just like our handful of children - and she was my age.   Frances also had the same name as me  and when my mother called out for me, both of us showed up at the door.   Usually Frances got there first, and I remember my mom saying, "No, not you, ..the other one".   And they would laugh.  It became a ritual and game between them.

I knew Frances from when we were toddlers. Although we were the same age, she was always bigger than me and the first black person I met in my life.   I thought and still do that she was the most beautiful person I had ever seen. She was athletically and majestically built, at least a head taller than me, and carried herself proud like a gazelle.  She also was the darkest black person I ever saw - like an onyx jewel.   What I remember about her the most was the big smile she alway had that lit up her face.

When I had to wear a patch due to a lazy eye, it was she who stopped alI the sing-song name-calling from the kids (One-Eye Frances) that was so hurtful.  It was understood in the neighborhood (and in school)  that Frances was my protector since we had the same name, were the same age and in the same grade and school. Frances came by every day to ‘pick me up’ and we would walk the 6 blocks to school. And return the same 6 blocks every afternoon. Safely.  Nobody ever challenged her.

One of my earliest memories of Frances was one extremely hot summer day (no air-conditioning in that neck of the woods), my mother called the littlest ones together and said she would hose us down in our backyard. All the other five year olds scampered like crazy, flinging off their clothes and whiggling around in the cool, refreshing water. Except me. I was shy about being with all these kids and getting naked. But I really wanted to be part of it. Frances came bounding over like a stallion as only Frances could, and tore off her clothes and jumped around, and said, "Come on, it feels so good!" And I just kind of shied over. And then Frances said something that stayed with me all my life. She said, ‘Come on, we are the same’.

We are the same.   What a wonderful thought - she thought that I was like her - what a compliment to me!

I have many happy memories of being best friends with Frances. She was over at our house all the time and received many hand-me-downs from my sisters that were too big for me and perfect for her. It was a long time before she finally invited me to her house and showed me how her mother did her hair. I remember feeling so honored that she invited me in.

Frances was my undesignated protector all through kindergarten to  the 6th grade.  When the kids at school had made-up fun days - one was called Petticoat Day - for lifting up girl’s blouses or skirts. On those days, Frances always walked besides me eyeing kids who were trying to do that to me - I was always shying away - but no one ever did it to me. Except when we arrived safely untouched at school, Frances would playfully pull up my shirt when we got to school and laugh that big smile - like she got me. But no one else ever did.

One other time, a gang of ‘next street’ all-black girls followed a group of my all-white friends. Comments went back and forth and they started chasing us. They were older than us and I was scared. When they finally caught up with us, I blurted out that Frances Scott was my best friend. The whole mood changed and they left us alone. Frances loved it when I told her - she laughed and said I owed her money for being a bodyguard.

As I got older, I was given my own key to the house which I promptly lost one day walking home alone from school.   I panicked and was on all fours when Frances came by and got down on all fours with me and didn't give up until we found them.  No others passing by offered to help.

We were in the same class up to 6th grade and both 12, when our family moved that year. The neighborhood had some robberies, violence and even a murder.   My parents thought we should move to a safer neighborhood.  And we did at school's end.  My mother worried about me ~ a 12 year old ~ because a few days a week during that summer I would take the bus - a 30 minute ride - back to the old neighborhood - because I missed my friend. I felt I had left my identity there. But I found that I had taken it with me.

The years passed and I lost track of Frances. When I was married and in my early 20s, I took my toddler, who had been hurt, to the emergency room at the hospital near our old area.   While I was waiting, I saw Frances. She was angry and talking to a police officer who was holding onto her brother. Focusing just on her and not the situation, I gravitated over to her, and simply said, ‘Frances’. Her angry face registered recognition and her dark eyes fleetingly softened over for me. I was going to hug her, but she regained her anger and said that the police were badgering her brother. She was being a protector and caretaker for her brother and I understood that. She was doing ‘her work’ but her eyes told me that ‘we were the same’.

I tried in later years to find her, but to no avail.   More years passed. Then, one day, my sister attended a funeral in the old area, and saw Frances' sister.  My sister told her I was seeking Frances and could she have her phone number.   She obliged.   I called her the moment I got the number.    Frances answered and we talked for quite awhile. I told her I wrote a story about her and how important she was in my life and I loved her.  She told me, 'You give me way too much credit, you were the smart one getting all those high marks in class."   She also told me she was not well health-wise, she was a grandmother of two children, and worked as an accountant.   She asked me to email my story to her friend as she did not have a computer.   I did so.  It was similar to my words here.

The next time I called her, the line was disconnected.   I had no other way to reach her, and sent an email to her friend to no avail.   Some months later, my sister called me to tell that Frances had passed away and sent me the online obituary.    I was the only one who wrote in her guest book and told the world that my angel had passed.

I am so grateful to God that I had Frances in my young life. She was truly my angel, my friend and my sister. She was bigger than me and could easily have bullied me, but she didn’t. She adopted me.   If only bullies could see their victims as God made and sees us; that we are all equally made and equally loved. And that we are all children of God who desire to love and be loved.    Rest in peace, my friend who taught me about caring, sharing, and equality - we are the same.

© Marie Coppola revised January 2017

 


Almost everyone loves pasta and Italian food. If you are Italian or know Italians, they claim to have the 'best sauce' ever. The reason for this is lies with their Mom or Nana. Chances are they learned from one another and the best ingredient in the best sauce are the hands that made them. We all gravitate to certain tastes in foods, and even more so in ethnic families.

What you've eaten all your life is delicious, comforting and 'the best' ever, no one's sauce comes close, even good Italian restaurants. Anthony's mother, down the street may make her sauce quite differently, and yes, to Anthony, hers is the 'best sauce' ever. Some Italians call spaghetti sauce, 'gravy'.

Nana Coppola made wonderful Italian recipes; she even taught cooking class at the parochial school. Her daughters try to emulate the 'best sauce ever' and their sauces are very similar and delicious. It is never exactly like Nana's, but what is missing are the hands, love and memories that she put into it. So, in her memory, here is Nana's recipe for the best sauce ever.

Ingredients

1 pound of chopped sirloin*  (*for variety, add pork chops, sausage or spare ribs)

Couple of cloves of chopped garlic

2 Tbsp. chopped onion

1 tsp. of fresh parsley or parsley flakes

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 cup flavored bread crumbs

3 Tbsp. milk

1 egg

2 tsp. grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Put above ingredients in bowl and mix well. Shape into meat balls. Cook in small amount of olive oil until well browned; place in large sauce pan or pot. Set aside.

In a large pot, add the next ingredients to the. browned meatballs and/or sausage:

1/2  small can of tomato paste.     Stir and add 1/2 Cup of water.

2 large cans of tomato sauce (two 28 oz. crushed or whole tomatoes) - Italian brands preferred.

1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes and/or basil leaf

1/4 teaspoon sugar**

salt and pepper  as desired

Cover and simmer for 1 to 1-1/2 hours.  Stir occasionally.

Prepare favorite pasta. Drain pasta and serve with sauce topped with grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.

New generations 'tweak' everything and here are some added suggestions:

1) *For healthy low-fat dieters, drain any excess fat from the meatball pan before adding tomaoes.   If  sausage is to be added, simmer the sausage prior for 10-15 minutes to rid of excess fat and then brown with the meatballs.

2) **In lieu of sugar added to the sauce, you can add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of red or white wine; this helps reduce acidity and helped prevent reflux.

3) For additional treat taste when serving, add a dollop of freshly made Sicilian ricotta cheese to the finished pasta when serving.  See my home-made ricotta cheese recipe:    http://expertistas.com/2012/11/19/how-to-make-home-made-delicious-ricotta-cheese/aboutme

Yums. Can you smell it?   It flavors the whole house!

©Marie Coppola July 2013

 

 

 

The story begins in 1908 ~ over 100 years ago.  The West Virginia countryside was blooming with colorful wild flowers on the hillsides.  In a little country church, Ms. Anna Reeves Jarvis, surrounded by the sights and sounds with which she grew up, caused the first Mother's Day Sunday to be observed.

Her own mother had passed away two years before, but the memory lived on. Just one year following the mother's death; her still-bereaved daughter announced her intentions of founding a day to pay tribute to America's moms.

A year of persuading Philadelphia civic leaders ensued led by the reigning American merchant, John Wanamaker, to back her crusade. Politicians, business leaders, educators and others joined the movement.

What had been a "good try," however, fell of its own weight: the concept was too sophisticated for the societal position of mothers and women in general. Despite the international leadership and sponsorship, women crusading for peace in the world never could be in the environment of that day. It took sons, daughters, parents and friends all over the nation to give new life and enthusiasm to Mother's Day.

In 1913, the U.S. Congress, by joint resolution made Mother's Day a national holiday. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first official announcement proclaiming the second Sunday in May a national holiday.

Today Mother's Day is observed across the seas and in more than 100 countries of the developed world. It has an avalanche of acceptance.

Jarvis was generations ahead of her time in her view of feminism. Today 75 percent of all mothers with children under the age of 5 work outside the home at least some part of the week. In fact, more women than men are enrolled in college.

Women practice medicine, law, engineering, teaching,e politics and social work -- every profession and skill once dominated solely by men.

To all mothers who provide a safe, happy and healthy haven for our next generation -

 A Happy Mother's Day to all on Sunday, May 8th!

Marie Coppola Revised April 16, 2016

Ref:  National Mother's Day Committee

You can get along with all of the people some of the time; you can get along with some of the people all of the time but you can't get along with all of the people all of the time.    A spin on the old adage.

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.  It can be someone we are close to and see frequently; or it can be someone we're not so close to and see infrequently. The latter can be spaced out in visits (if you have to visit them at all) and can be managed. Somewhat.

But, what do you do when it is a sibling, a parent or God forbid, a spouse?

If and when you are immersed in a dysfunctional relationship, emotions can override logic. If it is a parent or sibling, we are talking a major challenge. If it is a spouse, it can be catastrophic.

    

What do you do? Do you bite your tongue in all conversations, hold back lashing down to a minimum, feign sickness to avoid them? Work more; socialize less, bury yourself in a book?

Or do you join in when they are around, feel stressed out and pray that the day turns out ok and not into a fiasco. Others are counting on you to 'join' in the group and just 'keep cool' or 'chill out' or anything short of sitting on you and duct-taping your mouth.

Well, there are many variables here.  In a family matter - a parent, a sibling, a child - there is a history here and lots of interchanges. Some issues are so interchangeably tangled, that unless the 'diametrically-opposed players' come to a prayerful compromise and exchange of promises and a sincere heart change, there is little hope that they will link arms and have a drink together. In fact, drinking may make it worse.

A spouse you don't get along with is much more challenging. This is a life commitment you both made. Serious and truthful conversations, role playing (perhaps with a third party), and a sincere desire to change the situation is warranted if you want to right it. It's not going to go away by itself. One person can't change it; it needs both. Make that three - add God. Positive actions, prayers and verbal affirmations help to get issues out in the air and looked at.   Three steps forward and two steps back - but keep forging ahead and praying while you do it.

It may work out.  It has worked out.  And made relationships stronger. But it also hasn't worked out.  And relationships end.

I had such a person in my life. This was a 'long-history person'. We simply were like oil and water. Things said were not taken the way they were meant; get-togethers became strained with stress; 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?   I tried and tried and couldn't and didn't .

One day, at church service, there was a visiting 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 be someone close, a loved one or even a child of yours. You simply will not have a good relationship with them." 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.

Please understand that this minister was not suggesting that you disregard any and all people that you don't get along with and wipe them off like dust.  Remember, we are all imperfect.

Life is a compromise with almost everybody. It is usually a loving compromise and returned as such. Sometimes people have life changes and within those changes, people temporarily behave differently and relationships change with them. They may be going through a rough time; and they need your patience and love. I'm not talking about these kinds of 'not getting along'. They are transient and natural in all our lives.

I'm talking about the constant, never-ending, always-the-same negative and destructive relationship that causes stress every time you connect.

I talked with the minister after the service and told him I felt bad about this relationship that I just couldn't seem to embrace. 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. 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 always, always pray for that person, forgive them and forgive yourself.   But always pray for them."

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.  But I kept at it and in time, sincerely meant the prayer. I pray for this person to this day. I pray for her peace; I wish her well-being and remind myself that she 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 are gone.

There is no judgment or blame here -- it's just that...."As one face differs from another, so does one's heart."

©Marie Coppola  Revised May 2013


"There is a lot that happens around the world we cannot control. We cannot stop earthquakes, we cannot prevent droughts, and we cannot prevent all conflict, but when we know where the hungry, the homeless and the sick exist, then we can help"        Jan Schakowsky

Economic and demographic indicators linked to homelessness continue to be troubling. Homelessness is a lagging indicator, and the effects of the poor economy on the problem are escalating and are expected to continue to do so over the next few years.

There are homeless students in many counties throughout the states:  homeless families with children represent the fastest growing subpopulation among the homeless. Many of the students live in cars, abandoned buildings, and the homes of distant family members and friends. Nation-wide, veterans make up as many as one-fourth of the homeless population and up to 40% of homeless men are veterans.    As of 2016:

  1. 564,708 people in the U.S. are homeless. According to a recent report, over half a million people were living on the streets, in cars, in homeless shelters, or in subsidized transitional housing during a one-night national survey last January. Of that number, 206,286 were people in families, 358,422 were individuals, and a quarter of the entire group were children.
  2. 83,170 individuals, or 15% of the homeless population, are considered chronically homeless.  Chronic homelessness is defined as an individual who has a disability and has experienced homelessness for a year or longer, or and individual who has a disability and has experienced at least four episodes of homelessness in the last three years (must be a cumulative of 12 months). Families with at least one adult member who meets that description are also considered chronically homeless.  As the National Alliance to End Homelessness explain: While people experiencing chronic homelessness make up a small number of the overall homeless population, they are among the most vulnerable. They tend to have high rates of behavioral health problems, including severe mental illness and substance use disorders; conditions that may be exacerbated by physical illness, injury, or trauma.
  1. 47,725, or about 8% of the homeless population, are veterans. This represents a 35% decrease since 2009. Homeless veterans have served in several different conflicts from WWII to the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Washington, D.C., has the highest rate of veteran homelessness in the nation (145.8 homeless veterans per 10,000). 45% of homeless veterans are black or Hispanic. While less than 10% of homeless veterans are women, that number is rising.
  2. 1.4 million veterans are at risk of homelessness. This may be due to poverty, overcrowding in government housing, and lack of support networks. Research indicates that those who served in the late Vietnam and post-Vietnam era are at greatest risk of homelessness. War-related disabilities or disorders often contribute to veteran homelessness, including physical disabilities, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, depression and anxiety, and addiction.
  3. 550,000 unaccompanied, single youth and young adults under the age of 24 experience a homelessness episode of longer than one week. Approximately 380,000 of that total are under the age of 18. Accurately counting homeless children and youth is particularly difficult. The National Alliance to End Homelessness explains:  Homeless youth are less likely to spend time in the same places as homeless people who are in an older age range. They are often less willing to disclose that they are experiencing homelessness or may not even identify as homeless.
  4. 110,000 LGBTQ youth in the U.S. are homeless. This is one of the most vulnerable homeless populations. A substantial number of young people who identify as LGBTQ say that they live in a community that is not accepting of LGBTQ people. In fact, LGBTQ youths make up 20% of runaway kids across the country. Family rejection, abuse, and neglect are major reasons LGBTQ youth end up on the streets. Additionally, homeless LGBTQ youth are substantially more likely than heterosexual homeless youth to be victims of sexual assault and abuse. LGBTQ homeless youth are twice as likely to commit suicide compared to heterosexual homeless youth.
  5. Fifty percent of the homeless population is over the age of 50. These individuals often face additional health and safety risks associated with age. They are more prone to injuries from falls, and may suffer from cognitive impairment, vision or hearing loss, major depression, and chronic conditions like diabetes and arthritis.
  6. 830,120 year-round beds are available in a range of housing projects. About half of those beds are dedicated to people currently experiencing homelessness. This includes Emergency Shelters that provide temporary or nightly shelter beds to people experiencing homelessness, Transitional Housing that provides homeless people with up to 24 months of housing and supportive services, and Safe Havens that provide temporary shelter and services to hard-to-serve individuals.

As shocking as these statistics are, there are many great organizations and churches that are working tirelessly to end or assist the homelessness in most states of the USA and around the world.

Ref:  www.socialsolutions.com

Marie Coppola  March 2017

 

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On Monday, January 16th,  America will celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., a minister, activist and a prominent leader in the African-American civil rights movement. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 1929 and was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee at age 39.

His legacy was realizing civil rights in the United States and he is known as a human rights icon.

Some of the highlights of his legacies are:

the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and buses began to operate on a desegregated basis in 1956.

He was a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

He led the 1963 March on Washington where he delivered his famous "I have a Dream" speech to over 200,000 marchers.

In 1964, he became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial segregation and racial discrimination, through non-violent means.

He was anti-Vietnam War and anti-poverty, based on religious principles.

He was posthumously the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977.

He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.

In 1986, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established a U.S. national holiday.

This peaceful, equality and rights Baptist minister had a dream of a world where discrimination would be changed and be made illegal. In the 1950's, Ameica was not a place where all men were created equal. In many places in the country, discrimination against minorities was legal. Dr. King preached nonviolence and urged all people to be peaceful in their efforts to change inequality in America. His focus was on the future of America's children.

This focus on children is the basis of my review on a children's book, entitled “Martin Luther King, Jr. (My First Biography)” by Marion Dane Bauer, published the end of 2009 and is a slim, 32 pages long.

In keeping with Dr. King's focus on the children of America, the book explains how Dr. King believed what his mother told him as a boy, that 'he was just as good as anybody'. That encouraged him to want to spread that message to everyone and this book is designed to repeat that message to kids 5 years old to eight years old.

And he did bring about the change that allowed all children to go to the same schools and eat at certain restaurants regardless of their skin color. Dr. King, in his work and acts, allowed that all children could play in the same playgrounds, and dine in restaurants that previously would not let them. And the laws were changed. All children could drink from the same water fountains and use the same restrooms. People became strong in believing that 'they were just as good as anybody by showing them they could have any seats on buses, in school and lunch counters where it was not allowed before.

This book is excellent for all children and especially for those who feel left out or different or don't believe that they are not equal or the same as others. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed that he and all persons were just as good as anybody else and this book relives the legacy he left to all of us.

 

© Marie Coppola Revised January 2013