Category Archives: Life in General

Miscellaneous observtions on Life

Afraid of Flying?

Flying in an airplane is about par with giving an oral presentation. You feel you can’t do it — it’s a dreaded thing to do but once you do it, you’re always grateful when it’s over with and you’ve survived.

Having been up in a small plane in my teens with my brother who had just gotten his license, I remember the open sides on the small propeller plane and my knees shaking the whole time we were up in the air. I vowed that I would never get in another plane as long as I lived.

Fast forward to work experiences, and a proposed company trip to Puerto Rico for a convention that shattered my equilibrium.   After not sleeping  two nights before the flight actually transpired, I re-enacted the wobbly knees of former experience and even took a Valium someone offered me. Just as I was settling into the level just below wigging out, someone from work who knew of my fear, yelled out, “Hey Marie, your horoscope says you shouldn’t travel today”.  Funny to everyone on board but me. The trip is a blur going and coming and the time in the air was the whole focus of the trip.

I vowed yet again, I would never fly.  A couple of years later, my job required ‘flying’ but only on the east coast for career seminars. I didn’t want to fly – period.  No way.  I always went into my fugue on these trips and always made sure I was with someone I knew. A short time later, there was a human resource need for supporters on an outreach program in Cincinnati and I had to go alone! This was an up-all nighter worrying fest and thankfully, I knew someone from the company on the flight.  White knuckles all the way.

On each flight, I vowed it would be my last. I hated flying – too much free floating anxiety around.

I really got good at making excuses for not traveling or making other arrangements (why don’t you come up this way?) and just when I felt that I never had to fly again, I married a man who was born in Europe and had family there. He redid the family house and wanted to travel to Italy at least once a year. Eight or nine hours one way?  And the same the way back?   No way.  I barely did the east coast for up to 3 hours top. All that time in a plane? I would never last.

He never insisted, but I did always want to see Italy. So this is how I get on a plane every year to travel 8 or 9 hours to go to Italy.

It has to be something you really want to do.  Like visiting a last family member in Scotland or a vacation in France that someone gifted  for you. You have to be the one to decide, just like giving up smoking or deciding to lose weight – it’s your call and something you want to do more than you fear it.

I went to local airports and watched the planes come in and go out. They do that every couple of minutes or less. And they were all fine. And thought about all the planes that came in all day there every couple of minutes – in and out. And thought of all the cities and airports all over the world that do the same thing. All those flights.

The things that can go wrong on a flight are nothing like other modes of traveling. You hear about accidents and crashes all the time with cars, trains and ships but flying is actually the safest way to travel.

You have to minimize stress if you decide to travel – travel light and detail your arrangements. Make direct flights where you don’t have to juggle your luggage through airports to another terminal.

Try to get an aisle seat when you make flight arrangements. It gives you some control over getting up and getting down, using the rest room and just stretching your legs.
Bring things that will absorb you so that you don’t count the whirrs the engine is making and one time if there are more than usual and you wonder why.  I bring books that I’ve been wanting to read, crossroad puzzles, my journal and datebook to go over for the trip.

International flights usually have wonderful ways to keep your mind occupied: they show new movies.  They also have computers in front of each person where you can track your flight or play games like poker or solitaire or watch popular TV programs. The same head gear lets you listen to all kinds of music.    I bring a warm, long sweater; it’s cozy while closing your eyes even if you don’t sleep.

They also sometimes have a duty-free service aboard and sell all these neat things – it’s like shopping on QVC – another mind-diverting tactic.   There is usually a dinner or  a breakfast or a snack served.  So if you don’t Tylenol PM, you can drink wine.  All these servings take up time and are a nice diversion from you worrying if the pilot is still awake.

If you keep busy,  you won’t have time to focus on your fear. The more you travel, the less fearful you are.   I still don’t like to fly. I don’t like being up in the air with no control over how to steer the plane.  However, it is much more safe with the pilots up there behind the controls. But I’m more comfortable with it now and do it because I really want to go where the plane will take us.

The clincher for me that took away  my fears and fidgeting was my first European flight take-off with my all-relaxed husband and me with white knuckles.  I looked at him and he smiled as we took off, and he sweetly said, “Did you leave your faith on the ground?”  Since I am a faith-based person, this made tremendous sense to me;  I relaxed and now leave my trip safety in God’s hands.

Marie Coppola © Revised August 2018

About Marie Coppola
Marie Coppola A long-time human resources administrator and paralegal (B.S. in Business Administration/ Psychology, Certified Paralegal), Marie writes to aid employees with positive career options and resources, and to assist in career development solutions for students and employees; counsels on resumes, securing employment, and being successful with promotable possibilities. Marie finds inspiration in her faith, which she enjoys passing on to others, and finds gratification in helping others wherever she can. Got a question, need advice? Marie can be reached at mcopp@ymail.com View all posts by Marie Coppola →

 

 

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The Second Grandchild

 

Grandparents like to keep things ‘even’ between their grandkids and I am no exception.   I wrote an article about the oldest one and here is one for the youngest.   We have 2 Grand-boys – 5 years apart.

The first child or grandchild is usually a ‘trial child’ in what you allow or don’t allow or , what they can or can’t eat, or what they can do or can’t do.    When the first grandchild was born, we lived 13 hours away from them.  When he was  three years old, we brought him home with us  from a visit there and he was an angel all the long  drive home.   When we were 2 miles from home,  Dan asked  once, “Are we there yet?”   He stayed a week, enjoyed himself up until the time his parents came by to take him home.

When the 2nd child came along five years later, everyone was somewhat ‘relaxed’ about having ‘young-uns’ in the house again.   When new arrival, Drew, turned three, we had relocated and were now only 2 and a half hours away.   We were relaxed and practiced grandparents and looked forward to taking the smallest one home with us.  Big brother was in school and one weekend we drove up to pick up our visitor to bring him back with us for a “vacation”.

Drew was very excited about being with us.   We enjoyed going on ‘Tommy’s Train’ in Wilmington and spoiling him for anything he wanted for lunch and bought a big shopping bag for souvenirs, T-shirts and train replica kits.   We had a wonderful first day.  Happily tired,  we went home, had a snack and got ready for bed.    I did the dishes, Papa rocked him in the rocking chair and we sang songs.

Finally, I brought him into his bed, tucked him in and kissed him goodnight.   He was very quiet as I left the room.   Ten minutes later when I checked on him, he hadn’t moved from where I left him.   When I came around to his side, I noticed right away that not only was he not sleeping but streams of tears were cascading down his little face.

Alarmed he might be ill, I asked him questions and he shook his head no to all.  When I asked if he was missing mommy & daddy & brother, he nodded yes.   I told him if he felt like this in the morning, we would drive him home.   He nodded yes.  I noticed, too, that we forgot to take along  ‘Lamb’,  his going-to-sleep-since-birth partner. I called  his home  so he could speak to his parents and he then went into a sound sleep.

I was hoping he would forget this in the morning, but he got up and started packing.   We didn’t even ask if he still wanted to go home as we all got in the car and drove the two and a half  hours to his  home.

When we arrived, there was an unknown car in the driveway – a military buddy and his wife were visiting his parents.  We all went into the house, exchanged greetings and explained our return.  Shortly thereafter, we said our goodbyes to everyone to drive back home.  Drew shouted,  “Nonna, WAIT!”  He collected  his gear  we had brought back with us (and this time Lamb was included) and Drew said “I’m ready.”  We told him that was fine but we weren’t coming back again until 5 days had passed  – would he be OK with that?  And he nodded up and down in agreement.

We brought him back with us and he was a perfect guest for the next week.   No tears, no missing home — he was very relaxed.   And we had a great week.

Why that  extra trip home?  We never found out.   My instinct is that he had had never been in the new surroundings and he may have thought that was his ‘new home’.    Plus, Lamb wasn’t with him.   And by taking  home that first next day, he was convinced that we weren’t going to keep him forever.  And perhaps there was that good feeling that he had some control in when he could go back to his family home.    Sometimes, grown-ups have to listen to little people’s thoughts or wishes even if they don’t understand why themselves.   To his credit,  if he hadn’t insisted on coming back with us again,  he would have missed out on a happy, memorable and cuddly visit.   And a great memorable  gift to his grandparents.

 

A Marriage Tripod

 

We attended a wedding this past weekend. I truly love weddings. There’s something about wedding ceremonies that evoke emotions of love and commitment to celebrate the joining of two people in a new life path.  Sometimes the couple express their feelings towards each other, in a spiritual or scriptural setting. The blessing asks for happiness, joy, commitment, sharing, and always love.

It is sad that many marriages break up – between 45% and 50% of them.  But, what about that beautiful wedding and all the emotions that got stirred up?  Where is that couple who vowed to love each other forever, forsaking all others?  Where and why did 45 to 50% of them falter?

They may have forgotten something. They may have left Someone out.

The traditional wedding ceremony usually involves a religious setting, asking God to bless the union, free it of jealousy, anger, infidelity and selfishness.  Church weddings include God in the service and He is a part of the day’s happiness and union.  A large part.  One in which the entire family partakes.

The marriage union has more chance to succeed if they remember to include God in their relationship from the very beginning.

Having God in your marriage is like being part of a tripod.  It won’t stand on just 2 feet.  It needs the 3rd foot for balance.  It is an essential accessory for holding a marriage steady at slow-moving speeds or when we plan long, hoped-for ranges.  A God-tripod is the best way to prevent a problem marriage. Otherwise, without it may cause out-of-focus problems or topple over and have to be discarded.

Marriage unions can strengthen by attending and working at church activities or ministries together. Doing so keeps an awareness of keeping God in the marriage. Scripture heard at chuch reminds couples to: Accept one another;  Care for one another;  Carry each other’s burdens;  Forgive one another;  Encourage, build up one another;  Spur one another on to love and good deeds,  Confess your sins to one another; and Pray for one another.

Pray together.  It is difficult – almost impossible – to feel anger or not forgive someone when you pray with him or her.  Work at not ‘holding on’ to any anger overnight – it may still have embers that may flare up in the morning.  “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Taken all together, these Scriptures are a blueprint for a happy marriage.  Include God in the blueprint, and you will be blessed with a mate who will love you as much as you love back.

A happily married couple once told us their secret:  You have to feel that both of you are giving 125%.  Include God in that percentage and your odds will go way up.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy… husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies…….each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:25-33)

© Marie Coppola Revised 7/30/ 2018

I Found My Thrill in the NICU

Like most mothers with newly married daughters, it wasn’t long after the wedding ceremony that I obsessed on becoming a grandmother.   Being Italian, it was very important to join that rank of becoming a  “Nonna”.    It was two years and 6 months later that my daughter and son-in-law  dropped by and announced that they were expecting.   By July 4th, the anticipation day, I would be holding my first grandchild.  Such excitement.

The day came a little early, June 29th which was my father’s birthday.   More excitement.   We waited for the ‘good news'(a boy or a girl?)  but did not expect that  our first grand-baby — a boy — was in one of our finest hospitals – in the NICU.   I didn’t know what that was but quickly learned it meant a neonatal intensive care unit, also known as an intensive care nursery  specializing in the care of ill or premature newborn infants. Neonatal refers to the first 28 days of life. Neonatal care, as known as specialized nurseries or intensive care, has been around since the 1960s.    Here we were in 1995.

Our new baby, named Daniel. was a small being covered in wires, tubes and other apparatus in a small incubator.   A blood disorder was the suspected cause; only family members were allowed in the room lined up with other incubators.  Mandatory clean linens and masks were distributed to be in that room – and immediate family only.

Daniel’s parents were there all the time; she was nursing Daniel and brought him her  colostrum, the first secretion from the mammary glands after giving birth, which is rich in antibodies and very good for infants.  She continued to do this everyday.   The traveling. the worry and stress from not bringing a baby home after it’s birth was tiring and disturbing to a new mother.   It is a challenge to all mothers who have everything in place except the baby.

The Fourth of July arrived five days later .  Normally this holiday is a family picnic day,  but  there were little changes in little Daniel.   We all talked the new mother into attending the picnic – a much needed change of scenery.   We all attended and it did help.   After a couple of hours I excused myself and left.  To get home,  I had to go past the hospital.   I parked and went into the NICU.  There was little traffic that holiday afternoon and less in the hospital;  and since it was a holiday, the hospital was  small-staffed that day.   A baby was crying when I arrived and the nurse, who recognized me,  said that was my grandson.

I asked if I could hold him – I never had.   She said since it was so small staffed, it would be helpful and appreciated since he had come off all his attachments and had been crying on and off all morning.   She got a hard chair for me to sit on.  She left me and then returned and placed Daniel in my lap.   He was so precious and beautiful without his wires and he drew in a big breath and sighed loudly.  Almost sounding relieved.   I pressed his papoose-type blanketed little body close to my own and hummed lullabies and rocked him until he fell asleep.

He slept while I held him for the next 3 hours.    The nurse came by and asked if she could take him and put him back.   Reluctantly, I said OK.   He didn’t wake up;  he had kinda worn himself out.  She thanked me and said, “Have a good day”.   I answered, “I already have”.   When she took him, I felt the very warmth of his body still next to  my heart.

That feeling of warmth and love for Daniel has never gone away – I still feel it after 23 years.

Marie Coppola  July 2018

 

Summertime Blues

 

As we age, don’t our time spans seem to shorten?   If you are retired, you may remember thinking how much extra time you would have if you could only retire early.  Work days slipped into welcome weekends in which weekly chores, grocery shopping, social events, catch-up events and anything else not work-related took precedence.   Before you blinked twice, Monday rolled around again and back on the merry-go-round.

Somehow all those things got done until we did retire.   Retirement was going to bring meditations, exercise classes, dieting, volunteering, church work, and vacations.   Lots of visiting and long week-end vacations, home or away.    We could lounge at the pool or the beach and read all the books in the bookcase that never got read.    Have tea parties, cook-outs and grandkids visit.   Frequently.   Well, occasionally.   All right – when everyone is available at the same time.

Now that retirement came into fruition and the recent announcement that the highest new age demographic is for folks over 100 years old, is it what we dreamed about?   Nope.  There is so much going on that days slip into weekends and less is getting done than ever.   What happened to those old-time summer-time school vacations?   Do you remember?

By the meteorological calendar, spring starts on March 1. The seasons are defined as Spring (March, April, May), Summer (June, July, August), Autumn (September, October, November) and Winter (December, January, February).

Think back to middle school.   We started school every fall after Labor Day in September and had a school winter and spring vacation.  They were short.   Summer vacation (also called summer holiday or summer break) where students and instructors are off school from doing work typically last between 8 and 9 weeks; summer break is  approximately 2.5 to 3 months, with students typically getting out of school between late May and mid-June and starting the new school year between mid-August and early September.

Do you remember how eagerly we looked forward to summer break?   No more teachers, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks.  Bring it on.  I remember the lightheartedness and happiness of not having to get up in the morning, rush and get to school on time and don’t forget all your books & materials.   Sounds something like the future ‘working days’.

What I remember most about my own personal summer vacations is we didn’t always go on one.  We might have gone every few years or at least visit the beach for the day.   So what did I do for almost three precious months.   I complained incessantly that there was ‘nothing to do’ and repeatedly that I was bored (which brought suggestions to do work around the house.)   I couldn’t wait to get back to school to learn new things but especially to see all the kids I knew from kindergarten who changed in looks every year when we all returned back to school.

Out of boredom mostly, I pleaded with Mom to buy me a pair of moccasins – I have no idea why I wanted them – I guess they were popular with teens to wear with dungarees.   My mother handed me the Sears catalog and I spent quite some time analyzing which ones I wanted to order and then the long wait for them to be ordered and mailed.   It took 4 weeks for them to appear.   I was happy to get them but immediately became bored with them.

I remember sitting in the backyard wishing that school started next week so I could wear my new moccasins to school.   I did little that summer but wish the time away and polish my moccasins.

Imagine having almost 3 months to do nothing — but instead get bored.    Is that why there is a saying that ‘youth is wasted on the young’.

Marie Coppola  July 2018

 

 

 

Flag Day is July 14, 2018

Flag Day is observed on June 14, 2018 .  It began on June 14, 1777, when the Second Continental Congress made a resolution about a flag for our country.

“Resolved, that the Flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation,” it said. 

How did it come about?  The flag was honored on June 14, 1877: “As instructed by Congress, the U.S. flag was flown from all public buildings across the country,”

William Kerr, was involved in setting up the National American Flag Day Association in 1889.  It is said that Kerr would meet multiple U.S. presidents as part of the years he spent trying to make Flag Day be recognized.

After speaking with Kerr, President Woodrow Wilson wrote  “I therefore suggest and request that throughout the nation and if possible in every community the fourteenth day of June be observed as Flag Day with special patriotic exercises.

President Harry Truman later signed Flag Day’s permanent observance into law in 1949.   Flag Day is not a federal holiday but is a state holiday in New York and Pennsylvania.  Some places in the United States hold Flag Day parades. Presidents have also issued proclamations for National Flag Week.

Since these patriotic beginnings, the Flag has been burned, spit on, misaligned and disrespected by people who will not honor it and don’t think America is good.  A US President once said the Star Spangled Banner should be changed because it incites violence with ‘bombs bursting in air’.   Had that President read the story behind the bombs bursting in air, he would have realized that countless men died from bombs bursting in air to keep the flag flying.  It denotes bravery, sacrifice and love for one’s country.     For most of us, the Flag is raised on patriotic holidays and respected.   Our military and veterans have offered their lives to keep the Flag a symbol of America’s freedom and bravery.

 

Fathers are Important

 

Children need both parents’ influence for a balanced upbringing. They usually get more nurturing and care-taking from their mothers.  And fathers  supply discipline, authority, companionship and an example as a role model.   Role models are important for both boys and girls.   Boys look to their dads as the type of father 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.

During adolescence and puberty, the dad can take on more of an ‘advisor’ role as the child may focus more on the mom and her guidance at this age.  But the father is in the background, offering advice and decisions about what is going on in their lives. It’s a busy, bustle time within a family especially when a child can spend some quality time with their father sharing a sporting or camping event or even on a trip to the mall.

Personally, I loved to play cards with my dad and we spent many hours together with him teaching me pinochle and all kinds of card games that I love to play today. The time together is more  an endearing, special memory.   The card playing takes second place to the camaraderie of  sharing of an enjoyed pastime.

Children who have both parents who express these characteristics are blessed, indeed.   If not, perhaps they may have grandparents, step parents, aunts, uncles 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 children.

Although there are children, who, for various reasons, may be absent a father, a family male may be able to fill his shoes.  The father  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 or male influence  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 result in unhealthy relationships with others, poor grades in school, and problems in social and school activities.

It’s hard for children to understand parents who are not good at parenting or not available for them. What they get is what they see. Teenagers can be a challenge to raise in any family and it is made even more difficult with fathers who seem to be immature, irresponsible or simply not there.

If you have such a father, remember, we are all imperfect and in time, hopefully, they might realize the strong bond of family they have with you. If for some reason, this is impossible, and you will never have a relationship with your biological father, at some point, you will have to accept this. It is not always possible to make the natural connection that would have been there. It is not your fault; but it’s time to get past it and move on. To suffer with it if there is no solution, is not beneficial to you or anyone.

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. There are at least five places in the Bible, the phrase ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ – Deuteronomy 31:6; Deuteronomy 31:8; Joshua 1:5; 1 Kings 8:57; Hebrews 13:5. Our Father in Heaven wanted us to be sure to read it!  He promises always to embrace you, love you, guide you, help you and save you. He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Never. He is the Ultimate Parent; and He’s yours, forever.

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.”  I will add: A father’s protection is needed in childhood as is our lifetime need for Our Heavenly Father’s protection. I pray for all children that they will have both.

 

Marie Coppola Revised  June 12, 2018

 

 

 

 

The Four Personality Styles

 

Have you ever wondered why it is so pleasant to work with some people and so difficult with others? Whether it is work, customer service, community or volunteer activities, we find ourselves wondering what makes that guy or gal tick and behave as they do.

Work conditions can be tedious at best, and to interface with people who work differently than you do can cause stress and inevitable non-productive conditions. That is one of the reasons why most Human Resource (HR) departments encourage team building and seminars – to neutralize these kinds of problems.   It is more an individual style or personality that causes conflict than any other reason.   The four personality styles are: Drivers * Analyticals * Amiables * Expressives.   Below is a brief characteristic description of them:

Drivers – “Get to the point”.

They like to take charge and control of a situation. They make quick decisions and are responsive to challenges. Focus is on producing results. They are efficient, hard-working, forceful and strong-willed. Direct and to-the-point when they want others to do things and are completion-oriented. No beating around the bush; they are competent and either want options or results. “Don’t waste and save time.” “What’s the bottom line?”” They like feedback.

Some adjectives for them: risk-taker, determined, demanding, action-orientated, decisive, problem solver, direct, assertive, forceful, competitive,independent.   Many top company officials,Chief Executive Officers, Presidents, Vice-Presidents, and Directors are drivers.

Analyticals – “I can’t commit until I know all the facts”….chaos drives them crazy.

They like organization and are structured, concise, with not too many emotions. They like to work by themselves. Will use specific details, facts, evidence and measurements. Do not like to be wrong and it’s better to let them ‘save face’. They ask many questions and like to take their time on projects or anything. They are task-oriented and detailed-oriented and use facts and logic. Usually they approach people with care and caution and do not commit anything until they are comfortable. May appear too cautious, overly structured, someone who does things too much ‘by the book’.

Some adjectives for them: orderly, systematic, controlled, disciplined, logical, precise, cautious, disciplined, deliberate, introvert.   Chemists, financial analysts, technology analysts, mechanics and lawyers can be analyticals.

Amiables – “Let’s have a real team effort”….loves cooperative, team effort.

Tries to save relationships or bring harmony within groups. Thrives in team environments. Is helpful to others. Provides support and positive strokes for others’ work and accomplishments. Willingness to communicate and place value and trust in other workers. Places a high priority on getting along with people. Natural skills for coaching, counseling and aiding others. Has a sense of loyalty to work and peer groups. Smooths over conflicts within groups and organizes celebrations, brings in birthday cakes and other treats. They are dependable, loyal and easygoing. They like things friendly. They make quick decisions and are described as a warm person and sensitive to the feelings of others.

Some adjectives for them: supportive, team person, loyal, patient, considerate, empathetic, sympathetic, trusting, congenial.   Coaches, counselors, human resource workers, social workers, facilitators, and ministers can be amiables.

Expressive Personality – “Wow, that’s a great report – I know a great place for lunch”.

Very outgoing and enthusiastic, they create excitement and involvement with others. They have a high energy level and make others feel good about themselves. They know that you value them. Excitable, fun-loving, and talkative, sometimes overly dramatic, impulsive and manipulative. They love attention, and having an audience, and especially applause and recognition. They are achievement oriented but sometimes slow to reach a decision. They have good ideas, but are not always completion-oriented. Particularly fond of socializing. Risk-takers, competitive and spirited. They are also futuristic, creative and inspirational.

Some adjectives for them: communicators, charming, confident, impulsive, enthusiastic, animated, dramatic, influential, motivating, optimistic.  Teachers, nurses, musicians, comedians can be expressives.

Once the employee understands which style he or she exhibits in a group or team and their individual personality styles, the more better he or she adapts to working with that person. This approach is a very popular concept and helpful in areas where some employees feel they produce more work than others, work more efficiently, and sometimes resent their unproductive and incompetent (in their view) co-workers. The personalities are explained in a seminar and each employee rates themselves as to which type or personality style they are. Many are correct; some are off-base. Some exhibit 2 or 3 styles out of the four. With that in hand, the next meeting is a physical team-building seminar.

There are many team building exercises – and they are all very neat and well received by employees because they are fun.

Inherent work personalities emerge in performing the tasks, and are later discussed by the team. It is a soft way for same level professionals to point out what they and others could have done differently with more successful outcomes!  The manager is not present for these exercises; but is brought in a later date for interface in other exercises — sometimes it is the manager who is the problem employee! The HR person does not get involved in the exercise except to answer questions of what can or cannot be done.

Sometimes when even the simplest solution is the best way ~   the team makes it very complicated.

At these team building seminars, the employees learn how to deal with the different styles. They also learn to understand their own style and how they all relate to each in a group setting. Some of us don’t belong to one group, but can be a compilation of the others; and others may be two of them. Or three. Once you understand them, you will better understand and relate to co-workers, customers, groups, teams and even members of your family!

© Marie Coppola Revised June 2018

Overcoming Major Losses

During our lifetime, we can experience many losses. Some losses are separations, like death, serious illnesses or divorce, wherein we lose a special or primary relationship.  It is a critical time when a parent, husband or wife, child, or sibling passes.  It can be  even equally sorrowful,  if it is a divorce and there is loss of not only the person, but a way of life and perhaps the division of a family.  It is sorrowful when we lose a lover, mate, good friend or any friend ~or a beloved pet ~ who is no longer with us.  Another big loss is a miscarriage. We are numb, shell-shocked, heavy-hearted and grief-stricken. Clear thinking and decision-making becomes blurred; we are clearly not ourselves.

Similar feelings can be felt albeit, at a lesser degree, at the loss of a business, a job, a home lost in foreclosure or fire, or even relocating and losing the old neighborhood.  Loss of personal attributes, such as your youth, good health,  losses  of hair or good looks, surgeries, cars totaled in accidents, academic standing, integrity or even your good name or reputation can take their toll. They are all losses.

We all experience loss and we all express it differently. Some of us keep a ’stiff upper lip’ and others become withdrawn or they could become weepy and forlorn. There are no set rules for us to follow when we have loss issues. But there are some things that can help us heal.

Whether you have parted with a loved one or a pet or a way of life, you MUST take time to grieve. Your sadness does not go away magically when you return to work after a few days. People, in their concern for you, may tell you to ’snap out of it’ or ‘get over it’, but the truth is that it will simply take as long as it takes. It will be different for everyone. There is no ‘expiration date’ here.

As painful as it is, the grief must go somewhere, and the best place for it to go is ‘out‘. Keeping a stiff upper lift may backfire on you, leaving you crippled from the burden of unreleased grief inside you. It’s better to cry — yes, cry — one of the best gifts we’ve been given. Even Jesus cried. Tears are healing. You can cry alone or with good friends, but absolutely, do cry. You’re entitled; you’re allowed; you’re human. Tears release grief and sadness. If you can’t cry, you may want to talk to a trusted friend or spiritual person or counselor to release that grief that is pent up and not released.

As an example, a lovely neighbor of mine died unexpectedly while I was away on a business trip. I did love this woman; she was elderly, kind and caring; a sort of mother to me. It occurred at a really busy time for me and I was called and told about her while I was away. I felt the first stab of shock and sadness, but quickly extinguished it (or so I thought) and carried out my professional seminar and other things at hand to be done.  When I arrived at home several days later, it was the night of my neighbor’s viewing, and I hurriedly dressed to go, still not having fully absorbed the reality of her death.  I have attended many wakes, funerals and viewings, and I felt no feelings of forbearance as I walked in the door. Her grown grandchildren were standing around her casket and I hugged them all and gave condolences, but when I walked over to the casket and viewed her for the first time, reality struck, grief surged and I totally dissolved in sobbing tears. Her grandkids encircled to console me. I had pent up the grief and it had to come out; I wish I had done so in private so that I didn’t cause that concern from them when they were grieving themselves.  Grief has to be given expression; if not, grief can ambush us.

In your grief, be careful with your nutrition; you need your strength. You may lose sleep, be uptight a lot or feel confused, depressed or angry.  You may even be mad at God. He understands.   It’s important to eat well & drink fluids to stay hydrated if you are crying a lot which will help your muscles become more flexible during tension.  Exercise.  It’s hard to even think about exercising while your heart is so heavy, but it is important. Even walking around the block helps.  When my parents died 6 months apart, my doctor told me to continue aerobic exercises every day during their illnesses to regulate my blood pressure.  Blood pressure rises from stress and lack of sleep.  I never felt like exercising, but forced myself and even took yoga exercises which relieves tension in your body.   It helped tremendously; and will help you sleep.  Force yourself.

Lean on your spirituality and faith. God walked me through my rough times, helped me work out my aerobic exercises and was there to hug me in my tears. Let go and let God. He loves you and will help you if you only ask. He is our Refuge and our Strength. He is the Great Physician and Counselor and will never let you down. He did not cause your grief; life events happen to all of us.

If you experience multiple losses, you may feel overcome with grief that it is difficult to function  A counselor explained this:  “When you have loss issues, your body remembers how it felt when you lost them. When you have additional loss issues, although you think you recovered from the previous ones, your body and mind may remember them and ‘mingle them with the loss you currently have’.  If you have had deaths, divorce, illnesses, etc., in the past, a significant “loss remembrance” may bring these previous losses back to the surface, and you will feel all of them and wonder why you are feeling so grieved.”

The counselor showed me how to separate my loss issues individually and give each one its own expression of grief; and then put it away or put it in God’s hands, not to be taken back.  Again, let go and let God.

And I did. Once I did that, and understood why, I was readily able to function within a short period of time without that overwhelming feeling of loss.   If you are experiencing grief, talking it through at a support group can be very beneficial.  There are many GriefShare programs in our area.  To find one near you and when they are offered, go to www.griefshare.org for one closest to you.

Marie Coppola © Revised May 2018

 

Mothers are Forever

Plagiarizing the words of writer Louisa May Alcott, “What do girls do who haven’t any mothers to help them through their troubles?”    Looking back, sometimes our mothers were our troubles telling us what to do, what not to do and how come you haven’t done it already?

I’m finding as I near the ages my mother went through that  I have a maternal kinship with her that wasn’t there as we kids were growing up.    I was kinda scared of her as a child because she was the family disciplinarian – she was a stay-at-home mom – and having rules being obeyed were high on her Mother job description.   Being Italian, we learned that not behaving was begging to have the old wooden spoon brought forth.   The spoon rarely made contact, and we never tried to negotiate with it.   Along with her ‘weapon’ was the threat of our Dad coming home and taking his belt off to spank us.   Which never happened – our Dad never had to do that nor could we picture him doing it.     We listened.

I didn’t always agree with Mom – she was strict and hands on – but when I had children of my own,  I saw her with different eyes ….and still do.   I understand many of her ways now and how truly unselfish and generous she was.   She put Dad first and  she was a good role model for us.   A happy marriage brings forth happy kids.

We weren’t far behind in her attention and love.   She celebrated all holidays by decorating the house and filling it with wonderful aromas of delicious food that she provided.  Sometimes she would have something different to eat from our dinners, explaining that she felt like a hamburger instead when we finally realized when we were older that there wasn’t enough in our family of 7 for her to join us with more expensive cuts.

She made religious holidays special although Christmas presents weren’t abundant and sometimes not given at all.  But we four daughters  and one son remember the magical feeling surrounding these festivities.

She was the daughter of immigrant parents who had eleven children.  Mom  went to school up to the sixth grade as did her husband.    His asset was math & numbers and he worked hard all his life.   She was his strength at home, leaving it only to cook for the priests at church.  She also crocheted their linens & altar cloths.   Her proudest achievement  – the priests asked  her to ‘teach home economics’ at the school.   She put her heart and soul into that – one day she told me, “I was one of 11 children and the only teacher”.    Her recipes were printed in the hometown paper – she never sought the attention she got.

When I became a mother, she was my greatest asset.   She taught me so much about babies that aren’t in baby books and they thrived.   She didn’t baby her own daughters – she taught us to be strong.   When the doctor told me once that I had ‘tired mother’s syndrome’ – I called her and she said, “Eat a piece of cheese when you are tired – you aren’t eating properly and you need protein.”   It worked.  Somehow, the hardships of being a parent was offset by her humor – being silly and laughing.   Sharing laughs make a happy home.  And both parents laughed and got silly with us often.

This was my mother who watched over each one of us like special house guests, bought us occasional presents on the family credit card which was used rarely but a big deal for the receiver when she did it.   When we all eventually  left the family home, she was our biggest fan.  Up until the time she passed away,  whenever any of us visited, she placed a big brown shopping bag near the door to put things in as we visited.   When we left. it was filled to overflowing with food, gifts, clothes for us or the kids – and her touch, too,  with anything made with love for us to bring home.   I send brown bags home now, too.

Sophia Loren, the Italian actress, made the comment, “When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts.  You are connected to your child and to all those who touch your lives.  A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.”

Our mom did a lot of thinking about and for  her 5 children.    We are forever grateful for her caring, sharing and the love she shared and never asked for anything in return.    As I reach each birthday milestone, I am reminded of that same  birthday milestone in her life and see her with an appreciation  for each one – that I hadn’t realized before.

God couldn’t be everywhere…so He created Mothers.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Marie Coppola   May 2018