Category Archives: Relationships

Be Still and Know God

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This past week, I was reminded by three different sources to be still and know God.  I consider this a Godwink so I will pass this important message on.  God talks to us in Psalm 46:10 and says, “Be Still and Know That I am God”.  How often do we sit still?  We have cell phones, IPods &  Androids vying for our attention.   The TV is constantly on – so is the fax machine and the computer.  Company is coming. have to pick up the grandkids later and someone’s beeping to chat with you on Skype.   Lots of noises going on …..How do we get ‘still’?

We say “Hey, we’re busy…who has time to sit still?”

Let’s look at Jesus.  Even in his busy ministry he got still…with God.  He would go out alone in the desert. He would pray and be still with God.  Doing so, he was refreshed and renewed.

Anyone can get refreshed and renewed with God.  It is important to be still and know that He Is God. You might say, “I’m way too busy to do that” or “God doesn’t value me” or “I’m simply not religious”. If you want to know God, you have to make some time for Him just like you do for your family, your kids, your dog, your job, technology and everything else that’s on your plate.   Knowing God will give you extra strength and wisdom to do the things you do and even do things a little differently.  And it will give you benefits you can’t get anywhere else. They’re guaranteed.   “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:13]

Some say, “I don’t know what to say to God”.   God made you and He knows all about you already. Just talk to Him in plain language.  You don’t have to use thys, thees and thous.  He’ll be happy just to hear from you. And he will change your life. This is not a wish. This is a fact. You will become aware of life in a way different from how you are living it now.  if you start speaking to God, you will add joy, love, kindness, forgiveness and acceptance of who you and others are. He made you and loves you no matter what you are, say or have done.  Who else can you say that about?   Jesus will become your best friend.   Who will never forsake you.

Try it. Go alone into a quiet room, shut the door and turn off all technology.  Be still and focus on Him alone and not the things you have listed to do that day.   You may start by thanking him for all the good things in life He has given you — yes, there are far more than the problems you are facing which overshadow them.  Get to really know God.   Listen in silence to what you may hear or think about.  When you are quiet, you will open your heart and soul to Him. 

God tells us through His Words,  “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”    It will change your life.  Not only is it guaranteed;  the warranty will last forever.

Marie Coppola © Revised July 2017.

Where are the Fathers?

 

 

According to the U.S. Census, fathers are fast disappearing from American homes and one in three children, or approximately 20 million live without one.

The census recorded the fact that 160,000 new families with children were added, the number of two-parent households decreased by 1.2 million and nearly five million live without a mother.

More than 20 million children live in a home without the physical presence of a father.  Millions more have dads who are physically present, but emotionally absent.  If it were classified as a disease, fatherlessness would be an epidemic worthy of attention as a national emergency.

This fatherlessness can be seen in our homes, schools, hospitals and prisons and especially in families. Back when families were more intact, many fathers protected, mentored, guided, supported, taught values, played sports, added humor, and helped in bringing up their child or children. Today, there are many fathers who, for a variety of reasons, are absent, either emotionally or by distance and play a small or no part in bringing up their child or children.

Children need both parents’ influence for a balanced upbringing. They usually receive nurturing and care-taking from their mothers.  Fathers can supply discipline, authority, companionship and be an example as a role model. Role models are important for both boys and girls. Boys look to their dads as the type of man they want to be when they grow up; girls look to their dads as models of a possible future mate. Fathers’ praise, unconditional love, encouragement, support, and guidance are as important to children as the fostering acts a mother supplies.

Research has concluded that the father/child relationship is more important than once believed. With a baby, a father is usually more physical at playing games than the mother and makes a playful and joyful contribution to a baby’s life. As small infants and children, they can receive assurance and empathy from a dad when mom is not available or busy with something else. School age children benefit from the caretaking of dads who help with their care in transporting them to school and activities, helping them with homework, or teaching them responsibility. Many fathers join in sports activities with both boys and girls through softball, baseball, football, soccer and form a lasting team tie with their kids.

Children who have both parents who express these characteristics are blessed, indeed. Sometimes, they may have grandparents, step parents, or guardians who also exhibit traditional and loving nurturing.  Studies show that a father who exhibits love, kindness and faith values to his children – in turn foster those values that their children will emulate with their own family and children.

And sometimes, there are children, who, for various reasons, may be absent a father. He may have died, or separated away from the family, or simply is out of the picture. There can be a family member or male friend who can pitch hit for an absent father and help fill the void a father leaves. An absent father in a family could make his child at a higher risk of drug abuse, smoking, alcohol abuse and other risk-seeking behaviors. Other problems with absent fathers can be unhealthy relationships with others, poor grades in school, and problems in social relationships.

At some point in our lives, all of our fathers will leave us. For those of you who mourn a lost father, for whatever reason, take heart. We still have a Heavenly Father, Who will never leave nor abandon us.

Recently I heard a great quote by Sigmund Freud: “I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”  God bless ALL fathers this Father’s Day – may your love and caring for your children bless and reward you with love returned.

June 8, 2017  Marie Coppola


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.

A Baby’s Thoughts from the Womb

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You may not even know yet that I am growing in your womb – I’m just 18 days from when you conceived me.   My heart has begun to beat with my own blood.  I hope you are happy when you find out I’m inside you.

I’m a month old now and my eyes, ears and tongue are formed.  I have muscles , arms & legs forming.  Soon my fingers and toes will develop, too and I will start moving around.

I feel new things every day.   At almost 8 weeks – only 2 months – I have hiccuped, can frown, squint and yawn and make sucking motions.  I started to suck my thumb at 9 weeks.  I have eyelids now to protect my eyes.

It’s  10 weeks and every organ is now present and my heartbeat is steady.  My kidneys are forming as well as my taste buds.  At 10 weeks my body is sensitive to touch.  I have practiced breathing and hope to breathe air at my birth – the thought of being with you at that time makes me smile.

You haven’t felt my movement yet at but  I move a lot reaching my 3rd month – even my sex is known – I’m a girl!  If you could take a picture of me now you would see my eyes, ears and face characterstics .  I can kick, turn my feet, curl and fan toes, make a fist, move thumbs, bend wrists, turn head, open mouth and press lips tghtly together although I am only about 3 inches long and weigh about 2 ounces.

When you were told I was a girl, you said you will call me Hope, after your grandmother.   In just another week I will weigh about 3 ounces and am starting to resemble you!   A very small you!  You still can’t feel me but I feel comfort and safety within you.

I turned 4 and a half months old in your womb. and you felt me move!  I felt you touch me where I moved – it was joyous to connect so intimately with you.   I am just as excited as you are.  My ears are functioning well now and I can hear your heartbeat – it is so wonderfully comforting.  I can even hear music that you play and it is wonderful.   I hear and recognize your voice!

I’m 5 and half months inside you – my brain now has a billion nerve cells. If a sound is especially loud, it makes me jump – can you feel me?   I have increased seven times in weight and almost doubled in height.

So excited for my 7th month – just 26 weeks from conception – I can tell which voice is yours!   You sing to me!  My wonderful, precious, life-giving mother – I sense your moods.

I know the difference between waking and sleeping.  I use four of five senses – vision, hearing, taste and touch!  I can’t wait to touch you and see you.

At 8 months – just one more month and we’ll be together!  You’ll be as glad as I will be since my space has become cramped and I know I am heavy – you get tired a lot – I’m sorry.  Also sorry my kicks are stronger – but I hear you laugh about it.   I swallow a gallon of amniotic fluid each day – can you hear my hiccups?  Sometimes I move my heel or elbow and I rejoice as you follow it along with your hand.   So lovingly.

It’s 9 months/33-40 weeks – I’m ready to travel down the birth canal and finally get to meet the mother I’ve been connected to for 9 months and hopefully for the rest of her life.

Marie Coppola Copyright June 2016

How to Own a House and Have Servants

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I am a grey, black and white tabby who was adopted when I was one year old by my persons – a Sicilian man and an American woman.   She was a pushover – she saw an adoption ad about me; he was my nemesis although she adopted me for him when he retired.    She was an animal lover; his first words were “He can’t come into the house”.  Sicilians don’t believe in sharing a house with animals.   “Animals belong outside”.  

I loved being outdoors – I really didn’t want to come into the house.  They had a grand garden complete with multiple nests of vulnerable chipmunks.  And a wonderful birdhouse where I could wait patiently for birds to gather to eat dropped birdseed.   She said, “How come Mrs. Cardinal isn’t with Mr. Cardinal, today?”   And the Sicilian quietly but sternly said to me, “I saw you – you can never do that again.  She liked that bird.”

I knew whom I had to overcome.

When a coyote attacked me one day in this beautiful garden, the couple brought me to the vet.  The vet charged them $500 and said “If you like this cat, you need to make him an inside cat.”  She agreed but the Sicilian said “Animals don’t belong in the house – he can go into the basement.” 

Living in the basement wasn’t bad.  It was warm and cozy and I was allowed upstairs to sleep on the sofa only if the Sicilian let me sleep on his stomach.   “No sleeping on the furniture”.   The sofa was leather and I was allowed to keep  my nails, so that was OK.   I really had my eye on the bed in the guest room.

When the woman wasn’t around, the Sicilian told me “No jumping on counters or the tables; no scratching furniture or rugs”.  No sleeping alone on sofa or in bedrooms.  Animals don’t belong in houses.”    She was a pushover; she let me sleep anywhere I wanted.  But I had to win him over.  It could turn out to be a good deal.  Plus, I was curious why she was so easy and he was so hard.  

Then he had a hip replacement.   He had to rest a lot and not move around for a while.   This was my long-awaited opportunity.   Patience runs in my family.   I watched him with soulful, sad, beautiful green eyes. (She told me how beautiful they were).  He would pat his stomach and I would jump up and cozy up to his neck while putting my paw around his shoulder.   She would say, “The cat is comforting you.” He would fall asleep and I revved up my purring.  

Not long after, he was in the garden again, and I was jumping around after him.  He gave me a name – he called me Compagno – sounds like ‘Goombah’ – she told me that meant companion or partner;  he started to like me! 

They took me on vacations and sometimes they left me at home with a pet sitter.  One day while they were away, there was a forest fire in the woods behind us and the pet sitter could not get near the house.  I was really frightened.  Alone.  Lots of smoke and ashes.   A kind neighbor had the key and came by to get me – the neighborhood was being evacuated.   My persons came home two weeks later and I felt strange and different.   I was still scared and slept rolled up in a ball in the corner of a room for six months.   I did not jump on my persons’ laps or want to do anything but sleep and eat.    I lost 3 pounds.  I ended up with diabetes.    

My persons took me to the vet who said I was traumatized and needed insulin shots twice a day.   My woman cringed, but the Sicilian took over my care – giving me shots twice a day.  He was so attentive to me, that I could sit by the ‘shot site’ at my given times and he would always be there on time to administer to me.  

When I started to feel better, I jumped up one day onto his stomach and purred loudly and they both cheered.  I purred louder.   When I gained my weight back and ate my high protein food, I was feeling good again.  I slept in my bed by the fireplace, but one night, the Sicilian whisked me up and brought me into the forbidden bedroom.   He put me at the foot of the bed and said, “He can sleep here.”  

And I still sleep there today – I’m 15 years old now – 75 in person years.   I’m high in their routine – we eat at the same time, I sleep on their laps while they sit in the living room, and he still picks me up to bring me to bed.   He gives me my shots, changes my kitty litter, brings me for my check-ups, has me blessed at church on St. Francis animal-blessing day, and makes sure my stash of insulin, special high-protein diet, catnip and fresh water are in place every day.    He’s even added glucosamine for cats because I was walking arthritic-like.    I feel GREAT.    He’s my BFF.   My Compagno.

The woman loves me like her baby – she cuddles me and talks to me all the time.   I wake up in the morning next to her and she cuddles me.   I fall asleep at night next to the Sicilian and he puts his arm around me.   I follow the sun around the rooms during the day and bask in its warmth.  

The Sicilian put in a special pet door for me so I can go to my ‘apartment’ on the enclosed porch and get fresh air.  They speak to me lovingly like I’m their child.  I love my life.  The Sicilian used to say, “He can’t come into the house.”  And, now, I own it.   And have servants.   I purr a lot – just to think, I have eight more lives to go.   

Marie Coppola Copyrighted April 2015

Jesus asks, “Are you Asleep”?

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On Holy Thursday, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said to His disciple, “…are you asleep?  Could you not keep watch for one hour?  Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.  The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

Today, I ask you:   are you asleep?  Can you not spend one hour a week watching and praying to Jesus to protect you from tests and trials?  Do you find other things to do even though you feel you should spend some time in thanks, praise and prayers in God’s House? 

Or do you go to church and think of other things while you are there or check out who is attending?   Do you listen to the sermon and apply it to your life?   If you have a church that has communion, do you receive it and quickly walk out the door once you have and not spent some time in the communion of soul with Christ that you just received?

Once you form a relationship with Jesus, you will feel differently about praying and praising Him.   Forming a relationship with Him is easy; simply find a quiet place and talk to Him. In your own words and feelings.   Ask Him to lead you, teach you and give you the gift of Himself.   He will answer you – he answers in different ways.   He may answer you in thought, or feelings, or signs and acts.  You will feel it.

Once your spirit is willing, your flesh will no longer be weak.  You will be stronger in any and all tests that may come your way.   Peace will be yours.   He will guide you and hold your hand.   You will never be alone again.  

We celebrate Easter through His death and resurrection to be the light and inspiration in our lives now and forever. 

If you want to know Christ intimately, pray to the Holy Sprit for Wisdom and Understanding and read the Bible – start with the New Testament and Jesus’ Words.   You will receive a Gift that will save your life.   Forever.  

Marie Coppola.  March 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

The Feast of the Holy Family

 

The Feast of the Holy Family is not just about the Holy Family, but about our own families too.

The main purpose of the Feast is to present the Holy Family as the model for all Christian families, and for domestic life in general. Our family life becomes sanctified when we live the life of the Church within our homes. This is called the “domestic church” or the “church in miniature.” St. John Chrysostom urged all Christians to make each home a “family church,” and in doing so, we sanctify the family unit. Just how does one live out the Church in the family? The best way is by making Christ the center of family and individual life. Ways to do this include: reading scripture regularly, praying daily, attending Mass at least on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, imitating the actions of the Holy Family, going to confession frequently, and so forth, all done together as a family unit.

In addition to cultivating positive actions, the Church understands that various actions and behaviors are contrary to God’s Divine plan for the family. These include abortion, contraception, embryonic stem-cell research, divorce, spousal abuse, child abuse, among other things. Catholic Teaching is that a marriage must be open to children. Anything artificial that prevents this is contrary to divine law, although spacing births for a just reason is permitted (and may be accomplished through “natural family planning”).

Also, poverty, lack of health care, rights violations, government intrusion in the life of communities and families, and other justice concerns must be addressed by faithful Christians because of the negative effect these conditions have on the family unit. St. Paul gives us some advice on family life in Colossians 3:12-21:

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged”. (RSV).

The Holy Family feast is a good time to remember the family unit and pray for our human and spiritual families. We also may take this feast to reflect on the value and sanctity of the family unit, and to evaluate our own family life. What ways may it be improved? What would Jesus, Mary, and Joseph do? Finally, we can use this feast to ask ourselves what are we doing to promote the family within our own cultures, neighborhoods, and communities.

David Bennett’s Author Page

David Bennett is a Catholic High School teacher, writer, and speaker. He graduated with a B.A. in Psychology, and a Master of Theological Studies, and received a Post-Master’s Certificate in Religious Education in 2009. He has been inducted into numerous honor societies, including Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Alpha Theta (history), Eta Sigma Phi (Greek and Latin classics), Psi Chi (Psychology), and Theta Phi (theology). He studied Psychology, classical Greek, Latin, Philosophy, History, Liturgy, and Biblical Criticism.

He started ChurchYear.Net in 2004 with his brother Jonathan, to provide accurate and easy-to-understand information about Christian holidays. He also operates other websites, and is a member-manager of multiple online businesses and informational outlets. You may connect with David on Google Plus.

Marie Coppola  December 2014

 

How Do You Disown Someone?

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 and/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, offering solutions or praying for others which can be more effective and what we all need.   Withdraw temporarily, if need be ……but don’t disown.   God never disowns us;  He calls us to offer 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

How to Organize and Match Mentors and their Mentees

A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could. ~ Unknown

 Employee to Human Resources: I want to get ahead on my job and I don’t know how or where to start. What can I do to make myself more visible?

Job security is at an all-time low these days. Layoffs are rumored; hiring and salary freezes abound; bonuses and annual raises are delayed. For those who are sticking it out and their morale is getting low, what can they do to elevate their visibility; increase their skills set and/or increase their promotability?

As an advisor, I always encourage continuing education. In these times, some firms have cut back on this benefit of reimbursement for education, but many have not. Check with Human Resources and find out what their current benefits entail. Some firms pay 100% reimbursement for a passing grade, including books, tuition, and fees. There’s no better deal than this; it’s equivalent to getting a super raise. Plus, you will add higher learning and certified skill sets to your existing position. Many companies offer courses pertinent to your position, ie, computer courses for a computer analyst; legal courses for paralegals, etc. If you look into it, you may find that many companies are agreeable to allow courses not related to your job position to promote diversification of an employee’s skill. I can’t champion it enough – continuing education is a great benefit bestowed on employees by companies – don’t let it pass you by.

The other thing I always encourage is networking. Networking is the process of gathering information and discovery through interactions with other people. You can network at company-given seminars, in-house training programs, local community-sponsored organizations that pertain to your discipline, ie, NALA ( (National Association of Legal Assistants). Every discipline at work has a professional organization that they support to keep abreast of changing laws and updating relevant information – your supervisor can enlighten you as to which ones they use. You can network at professional organizations in the community not associated with your workplace (Woman Business Leaders of Oshkosh) (Professional Businessmen Association) or you can join an Alumni Association associated with your college. There are many such organizations out there and joining one will add prestige to your resume. And keep you on top of current issues in your field and especially network other professionals like yourself for sharing of business ideas and work-related opportunities for advancement.

A big plus to an employee’s advancement is to engage a mentor. As I mentioned in my article on mentoring I designed, implemented and managed my department’s mentoring program. The first thing we did was have the interested employees fill out a questionnaire on what skills they would like to learn, what disciplines they wanted to learn them and how would that help them in their present position. We sent a similar questionnaire to management asking them if they were interested in mentoring, sharing their business experience and how much time could they offer. When we got the questionnaires back, we set up a spreadsheet and matched the employee’s desired skills and other departments of interest to the offering management team mentors. On paper, we set up a match. As we all know, personalities play a large part in relationships and it is important that the mentor and mentee mesh. We then set up a wine and cheese get-together after working hours and invited the mentors and mentees. They mingled and discussed the program as well as getting to know the players. There are always ‘situations’ at work where some groups do not get along as well as they do with other groups. Some department heads don’t see eye to eye. This is human nature. You wouldn’t want to match up a mentee who’s boss did not get along with the mentor. Somehow these things put a wrench in things and thank goodness, they are few in number but they do sometimes exist.

After the get-together, we sent the names of a possible mentee to a mentor and in most cases, it was a go. Then we set the ground rules for both of them. To prevent assumed expectations on both ends, we made a list of guidelines. These guidelines included:

1) Mentor and mentee drawing up an agreement consisting of shared roles and responsibilities; determining length of mentoring term (6 months to one year) and meeting times according to their work schedules. (Mentoring was done during work hours with approval of supervisors).

2) Evaluating the relationship at various points (at least mid-point and ending) within the agreed-upon time period.

3) Working out any minor concerns about the relationship; assuring to keep confidences and setting goals and making plans on how to accomplish goals.

4) Mentors using their knowledge, experience and background accomplishments as examples to help mentee identify and build on their own strengths.

5) Mentees showing initiative in planning their career, perhaps by writing a personal statement about goals and accomplishments.

6) Both parties utilizing listening skills in discussions.

7) Providing feedback from both mentor and mentee on their accomplishments, and how each derived organizational growth from their role.

Many companies encourage mentoring as a human resource development strategy. It could lead to a promotion or lateral move to another discipline to acquire additional specialized skills/information as a step to a promotion.

If you are considering being a mentee, it is an outstanding vehicle to learn the ins and outs of the higher level of management. You can also learn business acumen in how different specialized departments like Purchasing, Security, Tax work closely with other departments. This gives you an overall flow of how an organization is run and will aid you not only in your own department, but in future ones.

For the mentor, it is a chance to channel his or her experience onto a protégé, who could in the future become a longtime ally or associate; it hones your leadership skills; it gives something back to the company in transferring business-specific knowledge and perhaps fulfilling company needs; it gives the mentor the opportunity to overview his/her own present skills, goals and accomplishments in a new-eyes light. He or she may even discover areas where they, too, may improve.

For both, it will enhance their listening and business skills. If the mentor invites the mentee to attend one of his meetings, both will ‘see’ the meeting through their business eyes and their mentoring relationship eyes. This can result in valuable insights to both.

There are so many positives to mentoring that I can’t think of many negative ones. It rarely, but could be a problem in the mentor’s or mentee’s personal behaviors, ie, conflicting meetings that interfere with the mentoring schedule; forgetting or being late for their meetings, being preoccupied with other matters while they are meeting, allowing interruptions or distractions, etc. The majority of relationships through our program were equally courteous, prompt, and best of all, enjoyed.

If you have mentoring program, by all means, join it. It has countless advantages and one day, you too, may be asked to be a mentor. It’s a high compliment. If you don’t have a formal program, be proactive, schedule a meeting with and ask a manager or director if they would consider being your mentor. You would have to do the ground work and draw up the agreement and schedules, but you can get different programs in the library or online. Good luck and prosperous sharing

©Marie Coppola  August 2014