Life in General

Miscellaneous observtions on Life

Father Patrick Tonry, a priest of forty years in the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, has served as a pastor, military chaplain, prison chaplain, spiritual director, and editorialist.   I received "The Green Suit" recently which was written by him and have permission to share this St. Patrick's Reminiscence with our Irish brothers & sisters and those who have the Irish spirit.

As a young boy, there was one day I looked forward to with as much anticipation as Christmas.  No, it was not my birthday; the day I eagerly awaited was March 17th.

March 17th held special meaning in the Tonry household.   It was St. Patrick's Day, my parents' wedding anniversary and the day they immigrated to the United States.  My parents were married in 1927, in Ireland on St. Patrick's day.  Immediately after their wedding ceremony, they boarded a ship and sailed to the U.S. to begin their married life in a new country.

If the 17th of March fell dring the wk week, my father would take the day off work.  We kids had the day off, as did all the children who attended Catholic schools in Brooklyn and New York City.  To properly honor both my parent's wedding anniversary and the Feast of St. Patrick, we went to early morning Mass as a family.

My parents, my two older brothers and my little sister would dress in their Sunday best.  As the youngest son, I was given a special honor. I wore the color of the day    I had a beautiful emerald green suit with a matching tie. It was a source of pride for me that i was the only one in the family who had a green suit.  Naturally, I was only permitted to wear this suit on St. Patrick's Day.

After celebrating Mass, we would go back home and eat a big breakfast.  This special breakfast would keep us fueled for what seemed to me the longest journey ever:   the train and bus rides into New York City for the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

The train and buses were filled with families going into the city to watch the parade.  We would line up along Fifth Avenue and wait for the parade to begin.  It was thrilling.  I was awe-struck by the high school marching bands.  The sound of the drum lines would set my heart racing.  It was a beautiful sight to see the Irish dances come down the street, dancing in unison.

Some years, we would shiver because it would be so cold.  Yet, we stayed and watched the parade through the rain, wind, snow and sunshine.  We never left the parade until the flag of my mother's and father's country in Ireland passed.

Right after the parade, our family went to a small restaurant to have dinner.   My parents did not have much money, and they saved a little each month so the entire family could eat out on this day.  In fact, St. Patrick's Day was the only time we would ever eat out.  We always had dinner at home.

....These traditions in a family ceate meaning that makes family occasions more memorable.

The reason St. Patrick was special to my parents was because he gave his life in service to God and the people of Ireland.  His story begins in the early 400's.  Patrick was the son of a Roman official and at the age of 16, he was kidnapped and taken to pagan Ireland.  He lived in slavery for six years working as a shepherd.  During his enslavement. Patrick turned to God for comfort and companionship.  Patrick escaped, returned home and entered the priesthood.  Years later, he returned to Ireland as Bishop, his love of the Irish people drawing him back.  He traveled throughout the island, overcoming opposition from hostile chieftains and pagan Druids and converting most of Ireland to the faith.

...Today everyone can be like St. Patrick. a living reflection of the Gospel.   May the love of St. Patrick be with you and may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Father Patrick Tonry, SM  February 2017

 

 

 

Living in a retirement demographic area, I often hear others lamenting they are losing their memories, or their keys, have problems remembering people's names, etc.  Dementia is jokingly mentioned, but many seniors do worry it can happen.   Our family doctor says  if you put the milk in the cupboard by mistake and then retrieve it - you're OK; but if you think it's OK to be in there, you may want to see your doctor.   He also states that we all have a 50-50 chance of experiencing dementia unrelated to family history or even if you have one parent who had dementia.

Recently I attended two meetings on dementia that were fact-filled.  Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of conditions that affect one's cognitive abilities in ways that affect daily life.  The three subtypes of Dementia are mainly:   1. Alzheimer’s Disease ( Plaques and tangles form inside the brain causing chemical deficiencies).  It is believed that this can start to have an effect on the memory center   2. Vascular Dementia (decreased blood flow the brain and different from Alzheimer’s in that it is caused by damaged blood vessels in the brain, commonly caused by strokes).   Approximately 20% of all dementia cases are vascular, making it the second most common type. Risk factors include a history of heart attacks, strokes – especially multiple strokes, diabetes, or high blood pressure.   3. Dementia with Lewy Bodies - This is the third most common form of dementia and is caused by build-ups of a certain type of protein in the brain. These deposits are called Lewy bodies and they effect a person’s perception, behavior, and thinking. Lewy bodies are often found in Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s patients, making this form of dementia harder to diagnose.

The National Institute for Aging estimates about 7 percent of people over 65 will have some form of dementia.   What can one do, if anything, to protect oneself from risk factors?  You can affect your risk by how social you are, your exercise habits and your heart and diabetes management.

Although 'seniors' store vast information over the years, they sometimes need extra time to remember where they stored that info in their brain.   Like an over-programmed-filled computer that 'searches' for info and takes extra time to find it, so do our brains.  What a relief to remember albeit slower!

Some suggestions on how to reduce your risk factor:

  • Spend at least one day a week with younger people, especially grandkids,  even if it is on Skype video or the telephone.  Stay social with friends and family.
  • Walk, hike or swim (150 minutes of moderate exercise - weekly).
  • Treat depression; talk to your doctor; depression is linked to higher dementia risk.  And sometimes depression can appear to be dementia.
  • Cook and eat heart healthy.  Strive for a diet low in saturated fat, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to go over your medications with you to see if any are at a risk for contributing to dementia or lacking in some vitamins.
  • Take some courses or classes.   It can stimulate your brain and/or socially meet new people.
  • Volunteer your time to a cause or interest you support.

Staying connected to friends and family is key and one of the most important ways to avoid dementia.  The risk of dementia is higher if one is lonely or isolated.  Millions of people 50 and older (about 1 in 5) live alone and are at risk of isolation.  The fastest growing type of household is individuals living alone.  And many of those over 50, have no one to talk to about important matters.

Try to stay socially active; If you are homebound and/or can't get around easily, learn to text on a cell phone or video chat or even social media chat, ie, Facebook. Twitter.   In a busy world, a hello by text, especially to the teens & young adults in our lives, wlll ensure a faster return quicker than a return phone call.   If you are not up-to-date in technology in computers or cell phones, there are FREE courses to learn about them.   And a good brain exercise.

Being socially active, getting regular exercise (physically and mentally) and managing chronic conditions (diabetes, heart disease) are all plusses to reduce your chances of dementia.

 

 

 

 

 

Black bears, the largest land mammals of South Carolina, once roamed the entire state. As human populations increase and development encroaches on their territories, there is more the likelihood of bear & human encounters.

Black bears are excellent climbers and good swimmers.     Bears prefer large expanses of forestry containing hardwoods, shrubs, blackberries, and pokeberries.  Wetlands such as swamps and bays also provide good habitat.   However, black bears are adaptable.  As long as they can find adequate food sources and have suitable den sites, black bears can be found in a variety of habitats..  They will feed on whatever is readily available.

Their natural diet consists of berries, nuts and plant matter (over 80 percent) as well as insects and meat (less than 20 percent). Bears use their incredible sense of smell to find alternative food sources such as garbage, bird feeders, outdoor pet food, agricultural crops, etc., which can result in them becoming nuisance bears. A shortage of natural food sources and lack of rainfall can cause home ranges to vary greatly. Black bears will travel large distances to find adequate food sources. In addition, juvenile bears, especially the males, must disperse to find new home territories. Dispersing juvenile bears have been sighted in many counties in South Carolina. These bears are usually transient and do not stay in the area for long.

Male black bears are generally larger than females. An average adult male can weigh between 150 - 350 pounds while the female averages between 100 -250 pounds. However, when food is plentiful, older bears have been documented at weights above 400-500 pounds. The largest black bear recorded in South Carolina was 609 pounds.  Their average life expectancy is 18 years in the wild.

Tammy Wactor, wildlife biologist with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, said there is an estimated 800-1,000 black bears across South Carolina, with most found in the more heavily forested and mountainous Upstate region, and a smaller population of 300-400 bears in the coastal areas (as of July 11, 2015).

Bears emerge fron their dens and come out looking for food in the spring ~ the peak of their breeding season is June, July, sometimes early August. They are most active at this time of year, and that, combined with habitat depletion, makes it more likely for humans to encounter them, and vice versa, said Kayla Brantley, a state bear biologist based in Horry County.

A state Department of Natural Resources official said it’s not a surprise that a bear was spotted crossing a street near homes just north of Myrtle Beach.

Black bears are not generally aggressive even when confronted by humans. However, due to their size, they need to be respected. No injuries or deaths have been attributed to black bears in South Carolina.

If you encounter one in your back yard like someone In the area of old Route 17 did recently when the bear was investigating their backyard cook-out (they left it and retreated into their home (and the bear had a gourmet meal).     If you find yourself in this situation, don’t corner the animal or make it feel threatened.   Stand your ground, and some say to raise your arms to appear larger.   Don't run.  Slowly back up, keeping your eye on the bear (not eye contact)  and try to put more space between you and the bear.  Talk calmly so that it can identify you as human.   A good way to steer clear of any run-ins with a wild animal is to secure trash, take down any type of animal feeder at night and keep grills clean.

Marie Coppola  January 2017

A visiting priest who is known for his wonderful homilies visited our church.  After he gave the homily, he requested that we didn't come up to him after mass and tell him how wonderful his homilies are but to pass his words on to others.  Here is his story retold in my words.

Recently, just before Christmas, this priest experienced passing some kidney stones that put him in the hospital for surgery.  While he was recuperating, a hospital volunteer came by with a sealed Christmas card for him.  As he put it, "She was older than Moses, and yet there she was close to holiday time, giving out Christmas cards to patients she did not know."  The priest placed the card on the table next to his bed without opening it.  A day or so later, he developed a fever and the only relief he felt, was to reach over to the table, pick up the enveloped card and fan himself with it.   He thought about the volunteer and how her action to be kind resulted in a reaction of gratitude and thanks from him.

He then spoke on how actions have reactions and sometimes, how no actions have reactions, too.   He asked us, "Have you done any actions lately that resulted in reactions?"

His homily on that Sunday was the celebration of the Epiphany (of the Lord).  The word 'epiphany' comes from the Greek word 'epiphainen, a verb that means "to shine upon"; "to manifest'"; or "to make known", and was connected to the visit of the Magi also known as the Three Wise Men.  It was a fulfillment of prophet Simeon's prophecy that Jesus would be a light of revelation to the Gentiles - to shine as the Light of the World.  The homily told a story of actions to reactions - the birth of Jesus, the visit of the Magi, the threat (action) of Herod to first-borns, and the flight (reaction) to Egypt to escape it.

We were asked again if we had done any actions recently that resulted in reactions.  He suggested we might imitate the volunteer who doesn't know that she is spoken of at every mass to many parishioners or that her action resulted in the reaction of comfort to an ailing patient.

What could we do to mirror her actons of giving and sharing?  Can we manufacture good reactions?  Can we forgive someone we are at odds with?  Could we send a letter of forgiveness to someone with whom we are angry and/or stopped talking to?

Could we make amends for some miscommunication or a bad attitude? Can we have our own 'epiphany' over some matter that we saw only our side on?  Can a 'light of revelation' be found in the actions of others and our reaction to them?  Can we cause a chain reaction of kindness through our actions?  We might gather balm for others as well as for ourselves if we see matters in another "Light".

Have you had an epiphany over anything lately?  Or about God?  If not, think about special feelings or events in your life and see if there is a revelation or ephiphany that you missed.

I recalled one as he spoke.  Once I had a dream in which God told me He was sending me a gift.  It was a very pleasant dream and shortly after, I received two gifts on the same day which could only be from God.  I wondered if one of them was the gift of my dream.   Off and on,  I wondered about this.

But which one was my 'dream gift'?  They were equally wonderful.   One day, much later, I had an epiphany.  They were both from God as are many other blessings He has bestowed upon me,  Everything He sends me is a gift.  And in His Wisdom, I felt He sent me two together and knew I would ponder and wonder about it.  It took awhile, but I got it.  All good things come frm God and all are His Gifts and I gve gratitude not just for one ~ but for all.

Actions have reactions.  And no actions have reactions.   Pass along an action that someone will react in happiness ~especially if it will be a surprise.  It will be balm for both of you.

I told the priest after mass that my reaction to his action of homily would be to create this article and pass on his words.  I also told him his homilies were wonderful.

{C} Marie Coppola January 2017

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It was a white day that year when I, at the tender age of seven, sat waiting expectantly for her to arrive --those wonderful white days when the snow has not yet fallen but the promise is there. At any moment you will see those crystal flakes and know that it is finally Christmas at last for what is Christmas without snow?

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Her arrival heralded Christmas in the same fashion, and finally she is there -- arms laden with bursting packages as she enters, embracing us and exclaiming. "Oh my, how you've grown!"  I felt that Santa himself could not have made a more dramatic entrance.   We tore open her seemingly never-ending supply of gifts as she watched us, her lauighter filling the room, and her joy was made complete in the simple mindfulness of our supreme happiness.

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We felt that way at Christmastime, but other times as well. It seemed as though the spirit of Christmas was around us even in the middle of summer.  As we walked into her kitchen, still warm from the baking ham, her table perpetually set for arriving guests, we felt almost heady from her constant attention and devotion from this woman we called grandmother.

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We took secret delight in her endless ministrations.   The food -- oh!  At every visit there was a feast, for that is how she showed her love.  Then, with the gifts -- gifts from the heart, for she knew each of us so well -- and once again Christmas was upon us with all of its magic and surprise, even in July.

Every year, every Christmas was the same, although after I married and moved away, I didn't see her as often as I would have wished.  Still, we celebrated whenever we could.  Those moments were treasured, for we knew that our time together on this earth was short.  She never gave in to the sickness that ravaged her body -- she was always there, hands serving her children, her grandchildren, and now, her great grandchild.  On her final visit, I saw in my son what I felt so long ago -- his eyes shining while she held him, swollen with the sickness, and told him stories and gave him candy kisses and singing "Candy Kisses Wrapped in Paper" as she did every Christmas.   I felt the years melt away and I was taken back to when I was seven, and the magic was there in the warmth of the day.

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She passed away near Christmas time, and my heartache was much more acute that we would have to mourn her during this special time of the year.  On Christmas Eve, we buried her and as loved ones gathered around her for the last time, I put my hand over my swollen body and grieved that my littlest son, yet unborn, would never meet his great-grandmother and enjoy the magic that she brought  to Christmas.  I believe that in order to pacify my sadness,  I entertained the notion  that God himself -- after watching her minister so fervently to her dear friends and family -- finally proclaimed during Heaven's busy Advent season, "We need her up here at once to assist us!"  And so, during the season she went, and there she is - still serving the angels with unceasing devotion.

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But to those of us here on earth, there was loss amidst the season.

Time passes, another Christmas draws near, and I am in the kitchen preparing for the arrival of guests.  I am caught up in my baking and our home is warm and filled with sounds of laughter.  My husband tells me to sit, but I have so much to do and I am enjoying the love I am sharing with my family and friends. I usher the kids into the kitchen, for they have been asking to bake cookies, and so we do -- cookies topped with candy kisses.  We sing her song, "Candy Kisses Wrapped in Paper" and I tell them stories about their great grandmother and those early Christmas memories.   I feel her presence near, and I am at once amazed at the timelessness of love.

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While we are grieving we cannot fully grasp how deeply one person's life touches and affects ours.  It is only later on, in our thoughts and in our actions, that we come to know how this person's spirit lives inside us.  When a loved one lives in your heart, they are truly alive, for the love you share is the love you learned from them, and they are there in the love.

I smile at my boys then, confident that my youngest will know her - my grandmother -- for a legacy never dies.  Rather, it is passed on from one generation to the next in each act of kindness and with every gesture of devotion.  She is there -- I see her hands in mine as I serve my family;  I hear her voice as I sing her songs; I see through her eyes as I watch my sons open their gifts, their faces shining brightly with the excitement of my youth.  She is here in every act of charity and love that I have learned from her.

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And so, Christmas will always be.

Sharon Cece December 26, 2002 Cleveland Post

(Candy kisses wrapped in paper)

Candy kisses wrapped in paper mean more to you than any of mine
Candy kisses wrapped in paper you'd rather have 'em any old time

You don't mean it when you whisper those sweet love words in my ear
Candy kisses wrapped in paper mean more to you than mine do dear

(Oh candy kisses wrapped in paper mean more to you than any of mine
Candy kisses wrapped in paper)

Once my heart was filled with gladness now there's sadness only tears
Candy kisses wrapped in paper mean more to you than mine do dear
Mean more to you than mine do dear
(Candy kisses)

Evangelical Meeting   

Trump was not the first choice for many -- but do you REALLY want to  help elect the alternative??

 

You might enjoy hearing from someone who was “inside the room”:

 

This is from Bill Perkins of Compass International.  PLEASE VOTE in November.Not Voting IS a Vote.

 Trump Meets With Evangelical Leaders

 

This was a fascinating day in New York City as over 1000 Christian leaders from all over the U.S. gathered to ask Donald Trump tough specific questions about his policy and intentions should he be elected POTUS.

 

The event organizers originally requested Dallas, Texas as a middle-of-the-nation location to hold a get-some-private-time with Trump event, hoping to attract some 200-300 national Christian leaders. But the only opening on Trump’s schedule was in NYC for 30 minutes, 30 days out. So they took it.

 

A screening committee, scouring the Internet, sent out invitations to about 1000 Christian leaders. Because the high expense of flying into and staying in NYC, and the date less than 30 days away, they reserved a room for only 100 people at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.

 

Each person who accepted the invitation then had to be vetted, and ultimately ok’ed by the Secret Service. Once cleared, you were notified by phone. I got two sets of phone questions about my work with Compass and when finally approved, had 10 days to make plans.(I’m sure I was at the end of the list!!)

 

But despite receiving the late notices, the response to attend  was off-the-charts. Almost everyone they invited accepted the invitation.

And some who were left off the original list apparently lobbied for inclusion. Ultimately there were over 1000 who hastily changed their schedules to attend.

 

The security was tight for the 7 AM opening for registrants. I stood in long lines for an hour, passing through three check points before finally getting through Secret Service security.

 

Once I finally got to my seat at my table I was astonished to be sitting next to a sharp-as-a tack Auburn grad who is married to another Auburn grad and lives in Vestavia, Alabama where I grew up.

She’s a registered lobbyist who worked for George Bush (W) when she first got out of Auburn. War Eagle to that one!

 

Also at my table was a Congressional candidate from North Carolina, a Christian TV station owner from Florida and the Chairman of the Board of the Washington Times. There were about four past Steeling conference speakers in the room, that I noticed. Probably more I didn’t see.

 

After opening remarks by the conference organizers, Jerry Falwell Jr.  spoke, then Franklin Graham. Both attested to the authenticity of Donald Trump.

 

George Barna, the polling guy, spoke. Using several charts he showed that Trump has a genuine path to victory if Christians vote. But in the last Presidential election, some 40 million evangelicals stayed home and that was literally the difference in the election.

 

Then Ben Carson spoke for about 20 minutes. His easy and soft-spoken style easily warmed the crowd. He referred to the fact that Trump had a bad three weeks, and Clinton had a good three weeks and yet the race is still close, virtually tied. But his main point was that Trump is a proven leader. He’s certainly not a politician who’s always worried about offending someone. And that’s what we need, a leader, not a politician.

 

Next came Huckabee, who moderated the discussion between the crowd and Trump.  Before introducing Trump, he made the point that we’re not voting on a pastor or a Pope, but rather a leader.  A leader who is quite different from the past in order to change things from the status 

quo.

 

So the day was set that this was not about Trump’s Christian knowledge or virtues, but rather where Trump wants to take the country.  And where we’re headed if Trump is not elected.

 

The biggest concern centered around the Supreme Court. The next President will appoint anywhere from one to five members. The Second Amendment, freedom of religion, prayer in public places, etc.will likely be settled by the next President’s appointees.

 

When Donald Trump was introduced, he didn’t speak from the podium but rather sat next to Huckabee on the stage fielding questions from the crowd for about 90 minutes. So much for the 30 minutes originally allotted.

There was no press allowed inside, so it was just Trump and the Christian leaders talking back and forth.

 

The really big Christian leader names got to directly ask Trump questions from the floor— i.e. people like James Dobson, Ralph Reed, Tony Perkins, etc. Most felt religious liberty was at stake with this election, saying that if the policies Obama has set in place are allowed to continue, Christians will eventually have no freedom to worship.  

Harassment of Christian organizations would continue.

 

Through it all, Trump answered each of their questions with solid answers, both acknowledging the problem cited and how he would take care of the problem. He seemed to be genuinely concerned about changing the direction of the nation.

 

He addressed many subjects including the Supreme Court, national defense, border problems, Christian persecution, his pro-life stance, Israel, healthcare, education. and energy.

 

I would say that most of those who attended who were not sure if they would vote for him, left convinced of how much is at stake in this election if Trump is not elected.

 

After Trump left, to a standing ovation, more questions were taken from the audience addressed to a panel of Christian leaders. Things like the weakening of the military, Christian business rights, etc. were discussed at length.

 

I have to say, we pretty much all came away thinking that if Clinton, or any Democrat, is elected, the path this nation is currently on will continue and WILL lead to disaster. If we don’t turn the ship now, we’re headed to be like socialized Europe— religion pushed out of everyday 

life and a financial disaster getting worse by the month.

Even reaching problems like what’s going on in Argentina, where they are currently literally fighting for food, is not out of the realm of possibilities. It’s that bad. Don’t think it can’t happen here.

 

At the end of the day was prayer. With few exceptions, the entire room knelt on the floor in corporate prayer for our nation. I took the opportunity to take a quick picture of that sight, some 1000 people in their Sunday clothes on the ground praying together. Who knows where this will lead. Maybe….

 

So, the bottom line for me is that I love this country and our 

Constitution more than I dislike Trumps antics and ego. He will attempt to change the direction that Godless liberals and their propaganda-media have led this nation.

With Trump we have a chance.  With Clinton we have no chance.

Be thankful we still have a chance and VOTE this fall.

 

 

Please pass this on.  The future of our country in general and our religious liberty in particular depend on every Christian being registered to vote --  AND VOTING.

 

 NOVEMBER 6TH 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 


McClatchy reports: "Group Pushes Debate Moderator To Ask Questions Submitted By Public."

Turn on images to see Adam Green and Grover Norquist together at Fox News.Watch tonight's debate live on PresidentialOpenQuestions.com.

And, vote on questions for New Hampshire's U.S. Senate and gubernatorial debates next week at OpenDebateQuestions.com.

If you think debate questions should reflect the will of the people, please make a donation toward the organizing needed to make Open Debate the norm in American politics.

McClatchy reports: "Group Pushes Debate Moderator To Ask Questions Submitted By Public."

Fresh off of the Open Debate Coalition being cited as a source of questions in the second debate, two coalition leaders met with the moderator of the next debate, Fox News' Chris Wallace.

They delivered petition signatures -- now over 20,000 strong -- urging Wallace to ask questions in tonight's debate that rose to the top of PresidentialOpenQuestions.com where 3.6 million votes were cast on over 15,800 questions. Wallace said our bottom-up questions are on his radar (and called us "very persistent," which we'll take as a compliment.)

Wallace then announced the topics he'll ask the candidates about -- including three areas in our top questions: Social Security, immigration, and the Supreme Court.

Here are three next steps we can take toward achieving our goal of making Open Debates -- where questions are submitted and voted on by the public -- the norm in American politics.

1. Watch tonight's debate at 9pm ET on PresidentialOpenQuestions.com -- and if you're on Twitter, follow us at @OpenDebate. Let's hold Wallace accountable for asking questions the public cares about.

2. Go vote on questions for New Hampshire's U.S. Senate and gubernatorial debates next week at OpenDebateQuestions.com. We announced a history-making partnership with the NH1 TV station. Half of the questions their moderators ask will come from the Top 30 voted on by the public for each race. These debates will be broadcast nationally because New Hampshire could decide which party controls the U.S. Senate and the ripple effects of the competitive governor's race could influence the next first-in-the-nation presidential primary. Go vote at OpenDebateQuestions.com.

3. If you use Twitter, continue urging Chris Wallace and his producers to ask the questions below that rose to the top of the Open Debate Coalition's voting site. Urge Trump and Clinton to answer them too.

Thanks for helping us organize debates that reflect the real concerns of Americans.

Lilia Tamm Dixon, Director
Open Debate Coalition

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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.

 imagesbhwzg6k1Tidings of Comfort and Joy

When you’re grieving the death of a family member or friend, you may dread the holiday season. Thoughts of social gatherings, family traditions, and obligations leave you anxious and overwhelmed. Your sadness can seem unbearable. You may wish you could skip these next two months and go straight to the routine of the next year—but you can’t. What can you do to lessen your stress and loneliness?

Holidays trigger tough emotions :

You can start by learning what emotions are normal and to be expected when facing the holidays without your loved one. “If you’re feeling overwhelmed as this holiday season approaches, that’s very normal,” advised psychologist Dr. Susan Zonnebelt-Smeenge, whose husband died. “You’re probably wondering how you’re going to handle this and are unsure of what course to take. I want to assure you that you can get through these holidays, and hopefully you can even find moments of joy.”

When you know what to expect, you won’t be rendered helpless as holiday events trigger unexpected emotions. Make a point to spend time talking with people who have experienced a past loss and have already been through a holiday season without their loved one. They can help you have an idea of typical emotions and emotional triggers to expect. These people can also provide much-needed comfort and support.

Creating a holiday plan will help:

Another important step in surviving the holidays is to create a healthy plan for the coming season. “Planning does help you to have a little control, even when you feel totally out of control,” said Dr. Zonnebelt-Smeenge. A healthy plan involves making decisions in advance about traditions, meals, time spent with others, holiday decorating, gift-giving, and commitments.

You will likely not have the energy or the interest in doing as much as you have in past years. Decide ahead of time which invitations you’ll accept, and let the host or family member know that you might leave early. Consider whether your decorating will be different this year: perhaps a smaller tree or simpler ornaments. If you cook or bake, cut back.

Make a list of every holiday tradition you can think of, from music to presents to outings. Then decide which traditions will be too difficult without your deceased loved one, which traditions you’d like to maintain, and what new traditions you can start this year.

Communicating with family and friends:

What’s also helpful in facing the holidays is to communicate your specific concerns and needs with your family and friends. People in grief are often tempted to put on a mask and pretend things are fine, especially over the holidays. “I didn’t want to put on a damper on anyone else’s joy,” shared Mardie. “So I put on a happy face and tried to be the sister, the daughter, the aunt, that everybody wanted to see. Putting on that happy face was a heavier burden than I was emotionally able to carry at the time.”

Your friends may want you to “cheer up” and “have fun,” when that’s the last thing you want. Others will avoid you because they don’t know what to say and don’t want to make you feel worse. Some family members will give you wrong advice in a misguided attempt to help. All of these people likely mean well, but will only end up hurting you if you don’t communicate what you truly need from them.

As difficult as this may be, it’s important to tell people what they can do to help and what they are doing that isn’t helping. And if you don’t have the energy or inclination to talk to people face-to-face, then write your thoughts, concerns, and needs in a letter or email. What’s important is that you are being honest and gracious in your communication.

In describing the first holiday dinner after she was widowed, Dr. Zonnebelt-Smeenge said, “It seemed like no one wanted to talk about my husband. I kept waiting for somebody to bring up [his name]. After a while I couldn’t stand it anymore. I excused myself and left and bawled all the way home. Later I decided maybe they were waiting for me to decide if it was okay to talk about him; maybe they were afraid if they said anything, they’d make me feel worse. From that time on when I went to an event, I found a way to let people know I wanted to talk about him and I wanted to hear their stories.”

So where can you find out what emotions to expect over the holidays, how to create a healthy plan and how to communicate with family and friends these coming weeks?

“Surviving the Holidays” seminar on November 13, 2016:

A GriefShare Surviving the Holidays seminar, to be held November 13, 2016  at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, 8th Avenue N, North Myrtle Beach, SC from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM, offers practical, actionable strategies for making it through the holiday season. At this two-hour seminar, you’ll view a video featuring advice from people in grief who’ve faced the holidays after their loss. You’ll hear insights from respected Christian counselors, pastors, and psychologists. You’ll receive a Holiday Survival Guide with practical strategies, encouraging words, helpful exercises, Q/As, and journaling ideas for daily survival through the holiday season.

At GriefShare Surviving the Holidays, you’ll meet with other grieving people who have an understanding of what you’re going through. They won’t judge you or force you to share, but will accept you where you are and will offer comfort and support. “When I went to GriefShare,” said Marion, “I realized there are different ways to grieve."  It is a confidential, compassionate and safe environment.

Your holiday season won’t be easy; your emotions may ambush you and suck you under at times. But you can choose to walk through this season in a way that honors your loved one and puts you on the path of health and healing.

To register or find out more about GriefShare Surviving the Holidays, call Fran @ 843-399-8196.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

> Think, all of this in less than 8
> years – just think about it!!! Before Obama, there was
> virtually no outlandish presence of Islam in
> America.
>
> • All of a sudden, Islam is
> taught in schools. Christianity and the bible are banned in
> schools.
>
> • All of a sudden we must allow
> prayer rugs everywhere and allow for Islamic prayer in
> schools, airports and businesses.
>
> • All of a sudden we must stop
> serving pork in prisons
>
> • All of a sudden, we are
> inundated with lawsuits by Muslims who are offended by
> American culture.
>
> • All of a sudden we must allow
> burkas to be worn very where even though you have no idea
> who or what is covered up under them.
>
> • All of a sudden Muslims are
> suing employers and refusing to do their jobs if they
> personally deem it conflicts with Sharia Law.
>
> • All of a sudden the Attorney
> General of the United States vows to prosecute anyone who
> engages in “anti-Muslim speech”.
>
> • All of a sudden, Jihadists who
> engage in terrorism and openly admit they acted in the name
> of Islam and ISIS, are emphatically declared they are NOT
> Islamic by our leaders and/or their actions are determined
> NOT to be terrorism, but other nebulous terms like
> ‘workplace violence.”
>
> • All of a sudden, it becomes
> Policy that Secular Middle East dictators that were benign
> or friendly to the West, must be replaced by Islamists and
> the Muslim Brotherhood.
>
> • All of a sudden our troops are
> withdrawn from Iraq and the middle east, giving rise to
> ISIS.
>
> • All of a sudden, America has
> reduced its nuclear stockpiles to 1950 levels, as Obama’s
> stated goal of a nuke-free America by the time he leaves
> office continues uninterrupted.
>
> • All of a sudden, a deal with
> Iran must be made at any cost, with a pathway to nuclear
> weapons and HUNDREDS of BILLIONS of dollars handed over to
> fund their programs.
>
> • All of a sudden America
> APOLOGIZES to Muslim states and sponsors of terror worldwide
> for acts of aggression, war and sabotage THEY perpetrate
> against our soldiers.
>
> • All of a sudden, the American
> Navy is diminished to 1917 Pre-World War I levels of only
> 300 ships. The Army is at pre-1940 levels. The Air Force
> scraps 500 planes and planned to retire the use of the A-10
> Thunderbolt close air support fighter. A further drawdown of
> another 40,000 military personnel is in
> progress.
>
> • All of a sudden half of our
> aircraft carriers are recalled for maintenance by Obama
> rendering the Atlantic unguarded, NONE are in the Middle
> East.
>
> • All of a sudden Obama has to
> empty Guantanamo
>
> Bay of captured Jihadists and let them loose in
> Jihad-friendly Islamic states. He demands to close the
> facility.
>
> • All of a sudden America will
> negotiate with terrorists and trade FIVE Taliban commanders
> for a deserter and Jihad sympathizer.
>
> • All of a sudden there is no
> money for American poor, disabled veterans, jobless
> Americans, hungry Americans, or displaced Americans but
> there is endless money for Obama’s “Syrian refugee”
> resettlement programs.
>
> • All of sudden there is an
> ammunition shortage in the USA.
>
> • All of a sudden, the most
> important thing for Obama to do after a mass shooting by two
> Jihadists, is disarm American Citizens.
>
> • All of a sudden, the President
> of the United States cannot attend the Christian Funerals of
> a Supreme Court Justice and a former First Lady because of
> previous (seemingly unimportant) commitments.
>
> • All of a sudden the President
> of the United States won’t attend the funeral of a
> flag-rank Officer (Gen. Greene) killed in action; he played
> golf. But he sends a big delegation to Michael Brown’s
> funeral. He sends a minor delegation to
> Margaret Thatcher’s funeral. He won’t acknowledge Chris
> Kyle’s murder but he’ll fly the Flag at half-mast for
> Whitney Houston.
>
> • All of a sudden, I’m sick to
> my stomach. I’m not sure the majority of Americans
> recognize the seriousness of the situation and how much
> progress” has been made by Islam these last 7 years, a
> very brief time compared to a 75 year lifetime!
>
>