Category Archives: #personal

Richard and Me

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You

by Fran Signorino

The only reason I would take up jogging is so I could hear heavy breathing again.  ~  Erma Bombeck

When I tell people that I’ve been “doing Richard” for more than 10 years, they look at me funny. My affair with Richard started the way many relationships begin — I was troubled and depressed. My parents had passed away within six months of each other. After that most stressful time, my blood pressure rose from normal to high. My doctor, believing that the condition was temporary, did not feel that I was a candidate for medication. He suggested instead that I exercise — preferably an aerobic exercise — of the low impact variety.

At that time, the last thing I felt like doing was jumping around. But because I am a lover of dance, I purchased a “swing along” with Richard Simmons tape and so began my daily encounters with him.

Richard’s screaming and carrying-on irritated me somewhat on bad days, but his movements and “c’mon, get up — you can do it — I know you can” soon had me infatuated. Hey, you can’t have everything in a relationship. On the plus side, I didn’t have to travel back and forth to a gym; I didn’t have to force myself to get up early to walk. I could meet him on both our terms. And in my own home. I quickly learned his routines as if I were appearing in a Broadway show. He was a steady and driving teacher.

I even got a perm during this period to save me time not fussing with my hair. Alas, it came out a little too curly, and lo and behold, now we looked alike. I had Richard Simmons’ hair. Not by choice, but there he was looking back at me in the mirror.

The exercise outfits I bought brought me closer to his “look.” My kids started calling me “Richard.”

Within a month, my blood pressure stabilized, although my life did not. My daily workout with Richard helped me vent the stresses piling up each day. It was during one of these “workout” hours, intense on my part, that someone called me on the phone. I answered it, breathing heavily. “I can’t talk now, I’m doing Richard.”

“Scandalous,” the caller replied.

Whenever I answered the phone totally out of breath, my callers would say, “I’ll call you back — you’re doing Richard.” My son gave me a new workout tape for my birthday. He said, “New positions for you and Richard.”

So now Richard and I could move while Sweatin’ to the Oldies, and Dance Your Pants Off! while we were Groovin’ in the House.  And we got down with Tonin’ Downtown.  Richard and I went on company trips and vacations together.  I brought Richard to the shore.  He always wore the same clothes.  We still had matching hairdos.  Richard and I have been together longer than some of my past relationships.

I anticipate his every move and we mutually experience heavy breathing and sweating.  This also beats some of my former relationships. Yes, I admit after all these years, I still “do Richard” and I’m now a grandmother.  He’s always there for me, he’s always in a great mood, he always smiles and boy can he make the moves.

And judging from the assortment of tapes in the stores, it’s been as good for him as it’s been for me.

Goodbye to Nabisco & Honey Grahams

Good-bye to NABISCO

Since my toddler days, I can recall my  father, of Italian/American descent enjoying a breakfast tradition of a biscotti and coffee, sitting down at the breakfast table  with Nabisco’s Uneeda Biscuits and a cup of coffee.

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As a schoolgirl, we often had Nabisco’s graham crackers for our own breakfast.  Newly married, and during my pregnancies,  I ate only graham crackers for those nauseous mornings and later  I mixed graham crackers with formula or my own breast milk for my infants.  Graham crackers and milk were a staple for fast school-age breakfasts and included in the lunch bag as a dessert or snack.  As an adult, I reached for graham crackers on those winter-sick cold-virus days when food was not appetizing.   Or as a sneak low-calorie snack during serious dieting,

When I found out recently that Nabisco has already moved some and is planning to move its food operations to Mexico, I felt like I lost my family friend.   Quoting from the internet,

“This sort of thing seems to be a new trend among corporations.   Produce their product overseas where they can reap bigger profits because they use cheaper labor and usually don’t have to deal with unions and I bet there are far less regulations & inspections by government agencies.  Their greed comes at a huge loss for us.”

You can say that again – for me, too.  Along these lines, I have had several occurrences with overseas’ products.  One was with a prescription medicine I take for a chronic issue.  My health provider sent me a generic brand which was made in a country I never heard of.    I checked into it because it caused itching attributed – according to my doctor – from the added green dye color.  I dropped the insurance company and went back to the brand name.   No more itching.

The second incident was a pair of shoes I ordered online – they cost $79.99 and were on sale for $51.99.  They have a sweet button on my toe line   I wore them on vacation and  developed infected burn blisters in that same sweet button design  engraved on my toes.    I investigated and they were made in China and similar to the children’s burn marks from thongs made in China a few years back.  Bad investment.

Also made in China was catnip we purchased for our beloved cat which was packaged in the USA but made in China.  Fortunately for our cat, it was recalled (causing death in cats) before I gave it to him.   I will not buy anything anymore that is made in these unregulated countries – like China & Mexico.

I will not support American companies who are so greedy to take jobs away from Americans which affects our economy negatively and/or sell less regulated products for the same price and lead us down the path to third-world status.

“Mexico offers a certification option, but it doesn’t require it. The US does spot checks – on farms and at the border – but requires no standards certification. The main exporters face standards dictated by third-party auditors demanded by American clients. But some growers, they say, do not have direct relationships with the end client in the US. They sell to brokers, and some are more lax than others. That, Usabiaga says, is where the danger to all looms.”

GOODBYE NABISCO   untitled (96)  NO LONGER ON MY SHELF

Here is an article  from USA Today “Food Safety From Mexican Farm to Costco to your plate.

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2010/1023/Food-safety-From-Mexican-farm-to-Costco-to-your-plate.

PS – Since Donald Trump called Nabisco out on 8/19/15 speech, the  Mexico regulation articles that were on the internet last night are ‘coincidentally not available’ this morning.

Marie Coppola August 2015

 

Jesus, forgive them. They know not what they do.

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Dear Precious Jesus,

Tonight is Holy Thursday, the night you agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane awaiting your destiny of torture, humiliation and  debilitating pain.  You submitted willingly to Our Father’s Will be done.

It is difficult to read or watch visuals of what was done to you.   You did it all for us.   All of us. It’s also very difficult to watch what the people you died to give salvation to, have turned their backs on you and worse, reject your deity and teachings.

You, as the Word, beautifully show us the Way, the Truth and the Life.   You show us that through You, we know Our Father in Heaven.   And now we are repeating, “Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do.”

You taught us about love and there is hate all around us.  You taught us about love of families and families have splintered.   You taught us about marriage between a man and a woman, and marriage has morphed into what the world wants, not what you taught us.   You taught us that marriage is important for procreation, but the world wants to abort babies, not create them.  They have relationships where babies can never be created.

You gave us a new covenant but the world chooses greed, power, and  narcissism over sharing, humbleness and stewardship.    You taught us peace, church community sharing and honesty; instead we have violence, bullying and untruths. You promised us abundance if we follow your path, and instead the world has forged its own path of idolatry, selfishness, and ungodliness.  And it’s falling apart.

The Word tells us to praise and glorify God and the world tells us it’s superstitious, ignorant, and discriminatory to listen to your Words.   We are called extremists and radicals and they call themselves progressives and liberals.    We want to stay faithful to you and they want us to denounce or hide that faith.

There are many of us who believe in who you are and what you taught through Our Father.   And we also know what you taught of how it will end.   Thank you for the gift of spirit that endures our faith. We’re sorry if the path leading to you is narrow and the path that leads away from you is wide.   But it is their choice and we were given free will to choose which one we will take. In the long run their choices are not long-lasting, and become unsatisfactory and unhappy.

As for us, “Eye  has not seen nor ear has heard what God has ready for those who love him.” Thank you, Jesus, for making it possible.   We love and adore you.

Marie Coppola   April 2015

There’s No Friend Like an Old Friend

 So you’ve decided you’ve had it with all the friends you had all these past years – you’ve outgrown them.  You have nothing in common anymore.   You say, “Some live far away – others are too busy with their lives to keep in touch and there’s lots of new friends to make in this big old world and this definitely appeals to me right now”.   You think?

You continue:   “So what if she was my maid of honor at my wedding and he was the baby’s Godfather.  That was then and this is now…My oldest ‘friend’ I met when we were both three years old – we’re related somehow.  Now he’s a liberal and I’m a conservative.  My best friend all through junior high and high school has different interests, friends and activities from me.   It’s time to turn a leaf and make new attachments.”  You think?

Many of us have busy active lives, even more so if we have kids and/or still work.   New friends are interesting and fun at lunch or for a night out or a dinner or movie together.  We may have similar interests; our jobs, friends of friends, neighbors, etc.

Imagine a life-changing event comes up or an important decision you have to make.   Or a family issue.   Can you turn to that fairly new friend to offer solutions or advice on what they would do in your shoes?   But how long have they lived in your shoes?  Do they know your revolving family history and the key players?  Do you know them as intimately as a 10, 15, 25 or 30 year friendship?

Many of us can call a long-time ago friend after a substantial time lapse and tell him or her what you’re going through.  These friends can fill in your life blanks themsevles     They know your past actions, family relationships and personal history as well as your patience, endurance and value quotients.   You don’t have to start from the beginning of your life to explain your present situation and fill in the blanks like you do have to with newer friends.  Perhaps there are tentacles to the situation that you don’t wish to share with someone you don’t know well.  Long-time friends pretty much know a lot about you. There ‘s so much  you would have to explain about your life events that an old friend already knows.  Who better to assess what is before you – your problem and offer solutions?    They know you – how you react- how you see things – what’s most important to you.

Here’s a test:  stop reading this and call an old friend.   You can  interface with them no matter how long it’s been since you last spoke together.  You go right back from where you left off and feel comfortable with it.  You cannot duplicate that gift.  You’ve been through many things together – things a new friend hasn’t shared with you .  And will they repeat it to someone else?  You already know which friends are trusted ones.

Now wait just a minute – do you really want to ditch your old  friends?   Having relocated myself and meeting new ‘friends’ I enjoy the friendships, but it lacks the strength of time that old friends give you.   By the way, keeping tabs on life-long friends can extend your life span.   Click here:   http://www.rodalenews.com/friendship-and-long-life

© Marie Coppola  February 2015

Mentoring – both Personal and Organizational


 Can you remember a time when someone gave you support, or important counsel, sound advice or positive reinforcement on something you were doing?

Encouragement is an important support and guidance motivation given by a more knowledgeable person (such as a mentor) in helping a less experienced or knowledgeable person (mentee) to develop in some capacity.

Many times, parents are mentors. They have the experience and know-how in “How the World Turns”. They may have gone to college, experienced love relationships, had children, bought houses, paid taxes, and countless other things. Hopefully, they are good mentors who encourage, support and guide their children in their everyday challenges. Sometimes, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, or good family members are mentors. They are the ones to go to when one needs to know what can be done about a special issue; they either give good advice or advise options on how to work at it. We are indeed blessed if we have mentors in our lives.

What if we don’t have a mentor? There are occasions when ‘two heads are better than one’ and additional input is needed. How does one acquire a mentor? Are there different avenues or vehicles for finding one? Yes, there are.

There are personal mentors and organizational mentors.

The personal mentor: Sometime during your lifetime, someone may take a special interest in how you are accomplishing a task. It may be in a teacher or principal in school. It could be a leader or coach in an activity in an athletic or after-school activity. Or a girl or boy scout leader in a social club. Or perhaps a pastor or spiritual leader in a church affiliation. A mentor is usually someone older and more accomplished in the task you are endeavoring. He/she will give you feedback on how you are accomplishing; give you advice or hints/solutions on how to continue; or reinforce how you are progressing. This is a one-on-one relationship which lasts over the time of the task’s duration.

You might even seek someone out and ask them to be your mentor on a task. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Most people like to help and may feel honored that you chose them. If the person is agreeable, you could set up a schedule to go over the progress of what you are doing and the mentor can advise plusses and minuses. Depending on the personalities, this person could become a life-long mentor who can aid you in further tasks. Sometimes it evolves into a mentoring over a variety of life’s issues. Such an arrangement can benefit both the mentor and the mentee. And form a very special, honored relationship.

A mentor can be rewarded by watching the mentee ‘grow’ in his mastery of overcoming or attaining the reason for the guidance. The mentee can be rewarded by achieving the self esteem and confidence of mastering what he overcomes or attains. I have to note that a mentor does not want to live the life for the mentee and should set the tone to make sure that the mentee does not become dependent on the mentor’s good will. A mentor should not have to listen to lamenting and negative inputs. The mentor is there to support and guide, not encourage ‘wallow and whine’.

The organizational mentor:  Wikipedia defines mentor as:

“Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the protégé)” (Bozeman, Feeney, 2007).

It is actually an agreement between a less experienced worker (mentee) and a business guru (mentor) in the company. Both understand that the purpose is for the mentor, through his or her own job experiences, to supply support and guidance to the mentee to aid in his/her career development. This is accomplished through human resource procedures which include matching temperaments, sharing written expectations, schedule guidelines, written goals and performance feedback.

Since they are ‘gurus’ in the company, mentors may be department heads or V-Ps and are giving up a slice of time from their busy schedules. They have worked hard to acquire business acumen and their schedules should be respected and not abused. One must never forget or not show for a mentor/mentee meeting. If there is a conflict, his/her office should be notified timely. Nor should a mentee use the mentor’s time to complain about the company or their personal gripes. This is a business meeting and although personal info sharing may arise, it is a meeting to combine goals and ambitions into work performance and advancement.

Most mentors who agree to programs like this show a desire and a willingness to give up time to help others, maintain a positive outlook, and are able to be realistic. Some business gurus may have mentoring as an objective on their own goals from their bosses if they need ‘soft skills’ in communicating with employees. They may need to hone up on listening skills and will thus have a strong interest in their own growth and self-development as well as their mentee. Business gurus usually have success orientation. That’s why they are where they are.

During my career development activities, I designed, implemented and maintained a mentoring program. I worked mainly with a department that encompassed state of the art technically skilled employees. These employees, in order to acquire additional integral business skills, development and promotion possibilities, had a distinct need to explore inter-related business disciplines.

For those who had interest, mentoring exchanges were established with them and department heads such as Finance, Security, Legal, Logistics, Purchasing, E-Commerce, or wherever their interests were. It was very successful for those who were determined and focused. Some of them, with their sought-after technical skills were offered positions in the departments of their choice who had a need for the technical end of the specialized business. They are all inter-related at some point. And it helped the company reduce lay-offs by transferring valuable but excess tech persons to another discipline. A discipline that they were not only interested in, but had the background and experience of already knowing the company procedures. A win-win. This project was one of the most satisfying of all my projects to view first-hand, the many positive aspects and results of these relationships.

In another article on mentoring, I will outline the agreement arrangements between mentors and mentees and what each expects or should expect from the other.

© Marie Coppola  August 2014