Tag Archives: how to

Has Anyone Ever Died From Public Speaking?

 

 

I don’t think anyone died, but, oh, the pain of presenting!  It is said that people fear public speaking or giving oral presentations more than they do dying.

They avoid these sometimes-forced-upon-you school or work assignments and come up with all kinds of excuses. Work encounters are usually one-on-one discussions or sometimes explaining procedures or information at a seminar, but most people are taken out of their comfort level when they have to stand up in a room full of people and give an oral presentation.

These situations usually produce sweaty hands, heart pounding, dry mouth, and shaky knees syndrome. And these are the minor reactions! Sometimes you wonder if you could have a heart attack during one. The heart and pulse are way up there, sometimes accompanied by a flushed face. And by far, the anticipation of giving one is much worse than actually getting up there. Plus, a sleepless night worrying about ‘presenting tomorrow’ causes fogginess and disorientation, giving added fears of not speaking coherently.

Our boss gave all of us presentation-skill seminars to complete for our objectives one year. No one was happy about it.  We decided the best thing was to get it over with as quickly as possible; we all were signed up within a week. The presentation class itself would last for one week – every afternoon for 4 hours.

At the first meeting, no one was smiling when the facilitator came in. He was an engaging young man and he was the only one smiling in the class. My fellow sufferers and I were deadpan and immobilized. We were zombies preparing for death; and we were prisoners. This class was mandatory on all our objectives, and we didn’t know each other well.  Or really cared. We were all very self-absorbed.

The facilitator asked each of us to come up and introduce ourselves and he would video tape us. Yikes!  Now?  We all had to do it, of course, and it is a blur but I have it on tape – to look at when I need to get humbled.

For the next five days, we learned that it was natural to feel nervous. And he gave us pointers on how to relax and calm down. When he finally got us to sit without fidgeting, he explained he was going to help us prepare to give a 5-minute speech. Five minutes!?!  He’s crazy – no way.  I think I will call in sick that day.

He went over our all introductory videos and pointed out our strengths and weaknesses and there weren’t many strengths in that class. But he stayed with it and explained how we were to present. He gave us these guidelines:

Eat a good breakfast so your stomach doesn’t distress and make noise while you are talking. Force yourself; the breakfast will wake you up and give you strength.

Dress sharply for self confidence and take a deep breath when it is your turn to speak.

Introduce yourself and say something to lighten up the mood; maybe an amusing story or a quick joke. It breaks the ice.

Stand comfortably, and allow your hands to express along with what you are saying. Don’t stand there (like I did) with your hands folded in front of you. Give natural expression to your body – otherwise you will stand stiff and hold your ear the whole time like the PhD chemist did in his introductory tape.

Focus on speaking to the whole class – and this is important – look in their eyes, and take in the whole group, talking from face to face. If you find a friendly face that smiles, dwell there a little longer. If you want to know if they are listening you could ask something, like, “Isn’t that true?”, or “Don’t you agree?” but be prepared if they don’t agree, they may ask you a question about it. Think about what questions may be asked. …..And most importantly……

BE PREPARED AND KNOW YOUR SUBJECT WELL.  PROJECT YOUR VOICE. Actually you should feel like you are softly shouting. Most people cannot be heard; they speak too softly.

Don’t read from notes or a paper – you can use a small file card with reminders in case your brain freezes up but use it only as a reference. You may utilize graphs or visuals – they take the spotlight off you and gives your listeners something else to dwell on besides you. But don’t make your entire presentation explaining slides.

Focusing on all these directives actually takes nervousness away – two matters cannot occupy the same space. To this day, I focus on how to present as much as what I am presenting – it works – and neutralizes the self-consciousness.

I practiced before presenting.  I engaged members of the family and friends – even the family dog and cat.  Practice helped me to get comfortable with speaking in front of someone else.  On Dread Day, the facilitator taped each of our 5-minute speeches and the tape verified that we could get up and pull this off. I was euphoric – wow – I can really do this.

I would never be catatonic-nervous again. I had built up fear around doing this all my life, and I faced the fear and the fear was gone. It’s true that ‘we have nothing to fear, but fear itself’.

I counseled many employees after this and signed them up for the presentation class. I went through it with them with great compassion and empathy. I was rewarded at the end of each of their classes, when they would come up to me, with a big grin and dazzling eyes, repeating, “I did it! I did it…..And I won’t ever be afraid again”.

Marie Coppola.© October 2014

 

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace ~ And How you Handle it


From a U.S. perspective, sexual harassment in the workplace still exists, and it is under better control due to stricter rules and regulations put in place by companies and businesses to protect employees against this invasive behavior. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) describes sexual harassment as a form of gender discrimination that is in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

In 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court made employers more liable for sexual harassment of their employees. As a result, most companies offer sexual harassment prevention training programs and 97% have a written sexual harassment policy. The number of grievances filed with the EEOC has gradually decreased over the last decade. Approximately 15,000 sexual harassment cases are brought to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) each year. According to them, the number of sexual harassment complaints filed by men has more than tripled in recent years. Currently, approximately 11% of claims involve men filing against female supervisors. In the mid 2000’s, grievances dropped to under 12,000. It has been estimated that only 5 to 15% of harassed women formally report problems of harassment to their employers or employment agencies such as the EEOC.

Counselors in the workplace are often the first person an employee seeks out when someone is acting inappropriately to him or her. In a recent survey, only 29% of women who said they tried to ignore overt sexual suggestions responded that it ‘made it better’. Over 61% of the women said that what made it better and was most effective, was to tell the offender firmly and directly — to “STOP IT”.

There are many offenses of sexual harassment; sexual harassment is not about sex and what bothers one person won’t necessarily bother someone else. Some think that any unwanted touch, sexual comments, or sexual attention is considered sexual harassment. Communicating and telling someone that these acts are offensive to you, may stop the action right then and there. Some people ‘test the waters’ and see how far they can go with individuals in the office.

Also, the above conduct is not sexual harassment if it is welcome or permitted. If you flirt back and indulge in exchanging off-color jokes, it is not sexual harassment if you decide a joke went ‘over the line’ and offended you. You’ve already given out liberal boundaries. It is important to communicate (either verbally, in writing, or by your own actions) to the harasser that the conduct makes you uncomfortable and that you want it to stop.

Sexual harassing behavior may be common, but it is not “normal” Here are some examples:

1] Verbal or written: Comments about yours or others’ clothing, or your personal behavior, or a person’s body; sexual or sex-based jokes; requesting sexual favors or repeatedly asking a person out; sexual innuendoes; telling rumors about a person’s personal or sexual life; threatening a person.

2] Physical: Assault; impeding or blocking movement; inappropriate touching of a person or a person’s clothing; kissing, hugging, patting, stroking.

3] Nonverbal: Looking up and down a person’s body; derogatory gestures or facial expressions of a sexual nature; or following a person.

4] Visual: Posters, drawings, pictures, screensavers or emails of a sexual nature; most companies have standards of what you can put on your walls.

If the offensive actions above are directed to you, then the following is suggested:

1] Demand that the specific behavior stop. Be direct, firm and say “NO”.

2] Don’t make excuses why you don’t want the behavior; this implies that you would would welcome it otherwise. Don’t protect the harasser or pretend nothing has happened; it has.

3] Stand by your principles and state them. Harassers are good at making excuses and wanting to talk about it. Refuse to discuss the issue with them or be manipulated into thinking you are the wrong one.

4] The focus is on the harasser’s behavior – not yours.

5] Be strong; make eye contact and stand tall. Don’t smile – this is serious; not a social visit. If the harasser tries to make physical contact with you, grasp his or her arm away and say, “NO”. “DO NOT TOUCH ME”.

6] Tell others about the ordeal(s). If you are silent, it not only protects the harasser, but may instill him or her to be bolder.

The conduct of the harasser must either be severe or it must be pervasive to be sexual harassment. A single incident is probably not sexual harassment unless it is severe. If you feel it is, document any harassments and keep a log of when and what happened; include dates and if there were any witnesses. Save your emails on a CD and bring it home. Also bring home any notes, mail or emails that are related even if they are anonymous.

Try to have a buddy available as a deterrent or as a witness when this person tries to approach you. Document any actions involving your harassment if the harasser is in a supervisory position and subsequently gives you a poor evaluation or demotions, and keep copies of them. Likewise, keep similar positive evaluations or performance appraisals before the alleged incidents that will show changed behavior of the perpetrator’s part.

Go ahead with formal complaints with Human Resources and EEO, if it continues. Try to have as much documented proof and/or witnesses who can verify what has happened or seek others who may have had the same problem with the harasser. Consult with a legal entity if you suspect violence or stalking. Remember to stay calm. You did nothing wrong. Staying calm is important to your cause so as not to create a hostile environment in the workplace that it becomes a problem for the department and you become the problem, too. The harasser is hoping you do that to keep the spotlight off of them. The odds are on your side to have this situation remedied.

True Case: A long-time married employee kept asking another married employee for constant coffee breaks, lunch, dinner, etc. She always turned him down. She came to Human Resources when she asked him not to keep coming to her office and he still did, still asking. He started to put his arm around her and she asked him not to. She filed a complaint. She noticed one weekend that he was driving around her neighborhood although he lived a far distance away from her. She filed a complaint with EEO and he was terminated; he lost his benefits as he was under retirement age and subsequently was divorced.

If you are being sexually harassed, do something today. You won’t lose your job. Don’t think it will go away, or worry if it is a supervisor or high level manager, that you will lose your job. You won’t. But they might.

references: Sexual Harassment Support ; and www.SexualHarassmentLawFirms.com

Marie Coppola Revised July 2014

What is a notary public and what are the qualifications and responsibilities?


The notary public is said to the oldest branch of the legal profession that exists in the world.

The office of the notary goes back to the Roman Empire and early history of the Catholic Church. The Romans developed the office and from that the Church devised it’s own system to handle civil matters after the fall of the Roman Empire.

The word notary is derived from Latin ‘nota’ — a system of shorthand developed by M. Tullius Tiro (103-3 B.C.) This method was used for agreements, conveyances and other instruments and they were described as ‘notarius’. Notarii were semi-officials whose numbers grew as the empire grew into a guild or company that had limited supervision, regulations and fees.

Notarii were also officers of the Catholic Church and Pope Clement IV appointed seven in Rome to describe the acts of martyrs who might suffer there. Later it was declared that the papal notaries could act in any country.

Notaries were known in England during the Middle Ages but since the law did not require deeds or other instruments in common use to be prepared, they were not needed by medieval law and therefore, not recognized. During the 17th century, common law became the supreme body of of law in England and the office of notary public became less important.

The settlers who left England to find a new life in the new world, brought with them the common law of England including the notary public. They were described as “…a notary public. who confirms and attests the truth of any deed or writing, in order to render the same more credible and authentic in any country whatever. And he principally made use of in courts of judicature and business relating to merchants. For a notary public is a certain kind of witness, and therefore, ought to give evidence touching such things as fall under his corporeal senses, and not of such matters as fall under the judgement of the understanding.”**

The early colonial charters started enacting laws affecting the office of the notary public. They designated an officer who was authorized to appoint notaries, defined their duties, settled their fees, and provided territorial limits of their jurisdiction and other matters.

So what do you do to become a Notary Public? It varies depending on which state you live in, and in other countries. Some countries require educational requirements or additional information. Since I was a notary in New Jersey, I will list that state’s requiremernts and rules to give you a flavor of qualifications, rules and responsibilities. Other states’ requirements and rules can be found on the web or at your town hall offices.

Example of one state:   Qualifications to be a Notary Public in the State of New Jersey:

must be 18 years or older.

must be a resident of New Jersey or a resident of an adjoining state who maintains, or is regularly employed in, an office in this State.

must not have been convicted of a crime under the laws of any state or the United States, for an offense involving dishonesty, or a crime of the first or second degree.

A notary public is appointed (commissioned) by the State Treasurer for a five-year period, and is sworn into office by the clerk of the county in which he/she resides. (usually a $25.00 fee). Appointments can be renewed for subsequent five-year periods.

Services that a duly commissioned and qualified (sworn) Notary Public performs in any county in N.J.:

Administer oaths and affirmations;  take acknowledgments; execute jurats for affidavits and other verifications; take proofs of deeds

…………….

The majority of notaries perform acknowledgements – witnessing the signature of a person or persons. To execute legally, these steps are necessary:   1) That the signer of a document appear before the notary, (you cannot acknowledge the signature of someone who is not present – not even a husband or a wife – you may be signing their house away without their knowledge!)   2) That the notary positively identify the signer, (as stated above, notaries cannot accept a previously signed/dated copy without witnessing the signature) and 3) That the signer both acknowledge the signature as his/hers, and that the signature is made willingly.

Identification documents are not required if: 1) the signer is personally known to the Notary, or 2) a credible witness, known to both the signer and notary, swears to the identity of the signer.

If the signer is not personally known, the notary ensures the signer appears before him/her and presents at least one form of identification that provides a physical description of the signer– ie., driver’s license.

Responsibilities of the Notary:

The notary reviews the document presented for completeness. This is not a formal legal review, such as would be performed by an accountant or an attorney. Rather, it is a review to ensure that there are no blanks in the document. Should blanks be discovered, the signer must either fill them in or strike them out by drawing a line or “X” through them. It is a quick view; the notary need not know the contents of the instrument; he/she merely is witnessing that the identified singer actually signed it.

Ensure that the signer understands the title of the document and is signing freely and willingly. By obtaining positive ID and asking brief questions as to the title and basic substance of the document, the notary can make these determinations.

Sign, date, and stamp an acknowledgment certificate The notary’s ink stamp should include the date on which the notary’s commission expires. The stamp should be placed next to, but not over, the notary’s signature. (If the notary does not have an ink stamp, his/her name and commission expiration date must be printed or typed on the certificate as indicated.)

Make a journal entry. *This is key and very important. The jornal entry provides evidence and an audit trail thereby protecting both the notary and the general public. Required information includes: 1. date and time of notary act, 2. type of act (i.e., acknowledgment), 3. title of document, 4. date document was signed, 5. signature; printed name and address of each signer, and if applicable, each witness, and 6. form of ID — e.g. identification document, personal knowledge, or credible witness.

Note: Journals should be bound to prevent tampering. Journals may be obtained from stationers or professional associations.

Charge only the statutory fee ($2.50). Actually, most notaries supply services free of charge, especially in corporate or banking settings. I have seen notary fees for $15.00 or $25.00 in some business establishments.

Actions Notaries are prohibited from doing:

Never pre-date an action. The notary may never date an action (acknowledgement, jurat, etc.,) prior to the execution (signature) date appearing on the document involved.

Never lend a journal, stamp, or other personalized notary equipment to another individual.

Never prepare a legal document or give advice on legal matters, or matters pertaining to land titles. This includes the preparation of pleadings, affidavits, briefs and any other submissions to the court.

Never, in the capacity as a notary public, appear as a representative of another person in a legal proceeding.

Never, in the capacity as a notary public, act for others in the collection of delinquent bills or claims.

————————-

**Reference: Manual for Notaries Public of New Jersey/American Society of Notaries; NEW JERSEY NOTARY PUBLIC MANUAL

Marie Coppola © July 2014

 

For Sale: Charming, Quaint 75 Year Old House

FOR SALE :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marie Coppola, revised February 2014, Copyrighted

 

How to Get Over The Fear 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 on 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. I ran out and bought the book Fear of Flying by Erica Jong. Mainly, it was about sex, passion and sexual identity and not a word about the fear of flying. Well, not in the sense of flying in a plane.

After not sleeping the 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. Not a fun 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, Jose. 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.

After about 10 flights like this, I decided that was it. There was a plane crash the week before I had to fly to Charlotte, NC and a plane crash in Charlotte, NC the week after I got back and that blew my ‘odds’ that lightning couldn’t strike twice in the same place. What are the odds of that happening?

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 Sicily 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, Jose. 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 (depending on the wind) 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 bought 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 amount of 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. Even with rides, it can be stressful doing that.
  • 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 (yes, it can happen) 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 concurrently – with head gear so you can watch, go back or pick it up wherever you want and whenever you want. They also have these neat 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.

There are blankets, but I bring a warm, long sweater; it’s cozy while closing your eyes even if you don’t sleep.

I do bring a Tylenol PM and take it around 9:00 pm our time. With the time change, you will be flying into the airport around 7:00 am, and breakfast will be served – our time it will be around 1:00 am but it will be light out and you will eat breakfast. And get on with another day even though it is early in the morning our time. {I don’t sleep until nighttime – their time – at 9:00 pm and go right into their time schedule.}

They also 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 and a breakfast and a snack served – all with alcoholic drinks. So if you don’t Tylenol, you can drink. All these servings take up time and are a nice diversion from you worrying if the pilot is still awake.

Busy hands are happy hands – and two matters cannot occupy the same space at the same time. If you keep busy, and I promise you will, 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 all my fears and fidgeting was a take-off with my relaxed husband and me with white knuckles. I looked at him and he smiled as we took off, and said sweetly, “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 © September 2013

How to Make Delicious Home-Made Pasta Sauce


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

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

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

Ingredients

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

Couple of cloves of chopped garlic

2 Tbsp. chopped onion

1 tsp. of fresh parsley or parsley flakes

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 cup flavored bread crumbs

3 Tbsp. milk

1 egg

2 tsp. grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

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

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

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

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

1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes and/or basil leaf

1/4 teaspoon sugar**

salt and pepper  as desired

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

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

New generations ‘tweak’ everything and here are some added suggestions:

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

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

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

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

©Marie Coppola July 2013

 

 

How to Find Time to Pray


Friends tell me they don’t have time to pray. It’s a busy life, working, spending time with family, going to school, social activities, etc. Besides, they tell me they don’t ‘know’ prayers; they feel disconnected. When you do offer up prayers, you are connecting with God. The more you send up even little prayers, you are opening yourself up to Him; the little prayers will turn into personal prayers and you will soon be having dialogues with Our Lord – and you will both enjoy it.

You don’t have to pray in “thou shalt not” or “thee are”; you pray in plain old English or whatever language you speak in. You can pray in the shower; start by thanking God for that great hot water – if you’ve ever had your water shut off for a couple of days, you will be even more grateful.

Gratefulness makes prayers special. You can pray while stuck in traffic; Maybe God is keeping you from an accident a couple of miles up the road. Look around and find a person nearby to pray for – there will be one there fidgeting with two hands clenched on the wheel, with a red, annoyed face. Pray for them; they need it. Nothing formal; just talk to God — “Lord, please keep that guy there from having a heart attack; give him peace”. Now, that wasn’t hard, was it?

        

Pray while waiting in the doctor’s office – you can spend lots of time waiting your turn. It’s better to pray for someone in the room with you (I’ll bet there will be someone with a more serious reason than why you are there) — don’t read that old Newsweek from 2006 – pray for someone instead. It may help heal him or her.

 

Pray while waiting in line at the grocery store. Stop counting the items of the person in front of you to see if they are ‘legal’ for the speedy register and forget about the Enquirer tempting you to pick it up and read it. Look around – especially for older, widowed ladies – you’ll know them – they are alone and don’t smile much. Smile at them and then pray for them. It will lift them up and you, too.

God tells us to give special attention to widows and orphans. Just a “Bless them Lord, and give them hope.” Yes, that is a prayer.

Pray for the kids you see; they’ll have cell phones hanging out their ears and text away like mad; say a pray for their happiness and that they find love and relationships other than through technology. Yes, they dress funny and their underwear is showing, but they are children of God, too. Pray they find their own unique personalities and not need to be just like their peers.

Please pray for your family – they are closest and dearest to your heart – they each have issues in their lives – pray for them – you’ll feel like you’ve helped them. You can say to our Lord, “Please watch over my family and keep them in good health and free from harm”. Short prayer. But God hears it.

 

And pray for yourself. Ask God to guide you in your life; help you with that presentation that you really don’t want to do; or soften your heart to call your partner who you really yelled at this morning more than you meant to. Become aware that you can contribute to the well-being of so many others. You can open up your heart to Him and He can become your Best Friend. Just by a simple prayer. I’ve just prayed that you will be open to this idea….. can you feel it?

© Marie Coppola June 2013

Prepare Your Resume for a Quick Response


Looking for a job?  For those of you who may have been let go from companies due to down-sizing, layoffs, or restructuring, it is disheartening and stressful to have this happen at any time.  The good news is that many new jobs are being created.  It is  crucial especially today that you have a recent updated resume at your fingertips to email, fax or send to a prospective employer.   Keep a copy of it in your car.

Remember, the resume is important; hopefully, it will lead to an interview and you should keep that in mind as you are preparing or updating it.

Due to the nature of our changing job environment in today’s world, I am going to deviate from the formal, 4-page watermark paper resume that has been expected and makes a good appearance. Time is of essence today and you want your resume to be in the hands of someone who is seeking you and your experience; you can be sure there will be many more wanting that same thing! 

I usually recommend a one-page resume. Two or three pages are OK, especially if you want to elaborate your skills. However, in these technological times, you should be aware that large corporations (and even time/cost saving small business) employ scanners that look for buzz words that will match up quickly with the job they are trying to fill.

The human resource or personal department of a company receives your resume. The HR assistant may scan them, either by an electronic scanner or manually and see how many buzz words match the job description.  If there is a good number of them, the assistant puts them aside to be given to an HR person who will look the resume over.

Here is why I suggest a one-page resume. Due to the large influx of resumes, it may be eye-scanned for how it relates to the open position. Only then, if it could be a fit, will the resume be given to the department head seeking to fill the position. Although the resumes are kept on file for a time, they usually aren’t looked at again.

Make sure your resume is relevant to your objective of career choice. Normally, it is a good idea to put your objective at the beginning of the resume; however, in these competitive times, it may be more prudent not to.  You may have skills relevant to another position in the company that they may consider.

Objectives state what kind of work you are most interested as the company may be more interested in getting the best candidate for less.  The future employer needs to know  what you are interested in doing.

Make sure your History Experience is consistent. The scanning assistant will not include your resume if there are unexplained gaps in your work date history. If there is a good reason why there is a lapse in employment, be sure to include it with an explanation why.

Use specific phrases or clauses (bulletized is fine) instead of sentences. They can be grasped at a glance. Select strong action verbs; watch grammar and spelling. It is representative of you. When it is completed, read it aloud to someone who can be objective for feedback.

Experience should start with the present going back in time. The general rule is don’t go back beyond 10 or 15 years. Business practices and technology change and make some skills obsolete. An exception would be if you were once an Attorney General. List titles of past work positions (I put this first in bold, that’s what they are most interested in) and then bulletized accomplishments under each title. Always add numbers if you were responsible for personnel or $$ budgetary projects. This info is KEY for the hiring company. This will tell them what you do and how you did it – depth & breadth. Two lines description for each title – use positive modifiers.

Next is Education. Start with most recent working back. Include co-op and intern positions. (If you have taken extra courses that are relevant to the position you are seeking, list them.)

References: The company seeks professional references provided from former employer, college or individual supplied upon request.  (You don’t want to list references on the resume – if the company is interested, they will ask you for them. Besides, if the company asks for them, you will want to ask the referenced person for their willingness to recommend you).

Do not put in skills and responsibilities you do or did not have or exaggerate what your former salary was – HRs share information and you will be quickly found out. And that’s a downer.

Remember: It is likely that if you get past the HR scanning of your resume and you are asked in for an interview, you may be asked questions regarding the resume: for example, how are you qualified? That’s your skills and qualifications. And where and how have you done it? That’s your experience. They might ask why do you want it? That is the part that is usually in the objective. You know why you want it. Be honest. And they might want to know how well you did in achieving your objectives at other positions. This includes bonuses and promotions.

Good luck to all of you who are seeking new jobs. And for extra credit, include God in your prayer for guidance.

 

©  Marie Coppola Revised July 2017

How to Comfort Someone in Grief


Some of us have the gift or talent to express sympathy easily to others.  Gestures and words are expertly expressed and people are comforted.

Many others dread seeing the survivor(s) at a viewing or even for the first time after a death occurs.  They feel awkward, not knowing quite what to say in offering condolences. It is difficult and sometimes emotional  to see someone who is in grief and it can makes us feel uncomfortable especially when we are not sure of what to do or say.

I used to feel that way until I experienced grief myself and some time afterwards, joined a bereavement group at our church.  At these meetings, we would have a speaker’s presentation on how to adjust to grief or sometimes have individuals express their personal experiences.  Comfort, presence and listening are key.

You may find yourself in a bereavement situationif you ever have to comfort someone who has a death in their family; and/or if you desire or are asked to help others work their way through grief. Here are ten ways to offer condolences or to help someone heal:

•    You might say, “I’m sorry”; or “I’m sorry for your loss”, or say a kind word about the    deceased . . . .

When you don’t know what to say, say ‘nothing’. This was the number 1 rule in bereavement training.  There’s not much you can say anyway to relieve their loss.   Let them talk and get their feelings and emotions expressed.  Your presence, your caring and your listening is balm to a griever.  If you are a hugger, this is a good time to give a hug or hold their hand or put your arm around their shoulder.   Touching is healing.   If they aren’t touchers, you’ll know;  back off and let them set the pace.

•    never say  ‘it’s for the best’ or ‘they’re in a better place’ or ‘they’ve lived a long life’ . . . .

We learned that the bereaved are grieving for a lost loved one and they do not think it was for the best – even if the beloved was ill.  They want them back on earth and don’t want to know they are in a better place.   If it is an elderly person who died, they don’t want to hear ‘he lived a long life’ — they want to keep a loved one as long as they can and it’s never long enough.

•    never say it was God’s will for them . . . .

We don’t know what God’s will was for them. God doesn’t plan accidents or cause cancer. Death is a life event that will happen to everyone.  To say that God willed it, isn’t going to comfort anyone.  It may even cause anger at God and faith is needed more than ever when someone you love dies. Don’t say it was God’s will to a couple who has lost a child either in stillbirth or a miscarriage.  A couple who may have finally gotten pregnant after trying a long time, and have it end in miscarriage or a stillbirth after nine months will feel the loss tremendously and it is not comforting to say it is God’s will or it is for the best. It certainly is not for them.  It’s a devastating loss.

•    encourage them to join a support group or or seek someone who has experienced a similar event . . . .

Perhaps you can suggest they join a support group.  There are many kinds of support groups available through churches or the newspapers.  Losing Someone, Living Alone, Widow/Widower’s seminars offer multiple support groups. People gain strength when they know someone else went through what they did and survived.  Although ‘misery loves company’ is a cliche – it has truth to it.  You may even mail or drop off announcements of such groups.

•    encourage him or her to speak about their loss and emotions with someone . . . .

Sometimes a family or close friend may not be the best choice for grievers to talk to;  they may be experiencing grief themselves.  It is not uncommon for people to have purged their grief with a stranger they hardly knew.   If they have trouble verbally expressing themselves, you may suggest writing a letter to the deceased telling them things they might have said or didn’t say; or any regrets they have.

•    visit or stop by occasionally even for a few minutes . . . .

It is uplifting for them if you visit bereaved persons, especially widows or widowers, who now spend time alone.  Bring a small gift, even a book of additional support  or a magazine on bereavement.   They will know they are not alone; others are going through similar losses.   And they will enjoy the break.

•    get them out of the house and go for a walk . . . .

The bereaved sometimes get motionless in their grief and stay at home.   Offer to go for a walk with her – walking is good for depression and releases endorphins, a group of chemicals produced in the brain that reduce pain and improve mood.  It might allow her to open up to release some pent up feelings while walking and feeling companionship.  Remember – caring, presence and espcially listening.

•    calendar and note the birthday and anniversary dates of the deceased . . . .

Their survivors feel the loss especially on these dates and may experience setbacks in their healing.    Remember to call them with an uplifting call those days.  You don’t have to mention the date, but, if they do, give them reassurance or if in person, give them a hug. Holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas, Hanukah, etc., are very hard for the survivors, especially if it was a person who lived with them.   Try to include them or their family  in some way, either by phone, mail or in person to let them know they are being thought of.  Love is always welcome.

•    suggest a physical with a physician and/or a visit to a therapist if the survivor is having difficulty adjusting and seems to be backsliding more than moving forward . . . .

Unresolved grief can cause depression or even suicidal tendencies.   If you notice during visiting that the survivor seems distracted, unkempt, depressed or not themselves, be a friend and tell a family member or gently suggest if you could take them to see a doctor.

•    offer to take them to church . . . .

Since death usually raises spiritual issues, and people are either strengthened in their faith or are turned off and angry at God, offer to join them in prayer services at your church or their place of worship.  You may offer to read Scripture or passages in the Bible together.   If you share faith with them, they may share their sorrow with God, the Great Comforter.   Let it be their choice.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.   Matthew 5:4

© Marie Coppola  Revised December 2012

 

90 % of Worries are Self-induced & Stressful


Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due.” ~ William R. Inge   

 

 

I used to be one of the worst worry-warts.  There’s always something you can find to worry about – whether it’s going to rain tomorrow and you hate to drive in the rain, or it’s 3:00 am. and the new driver in the house is not home yet.

Once I had a mini spirit-breaker over a job change.  It wasn’t the work that I wanted to do or studied for in school; I was transferred to another department that I had no interest in.  I worried about everything connected to this job for 9 or 10 hours a day.  What if I quit?  What if I didn’t succeed in something I had no passion for?  What if I made a lot of mistakes?  What if I get fired?  What if . . . ?

What are the odds of worrisome thoughts actually coming true?  Statistics tell us that the probability of things we worry about that won’t ever happen:  a whopping 45%; reliving regrettable events that happened in the past: 25%; unnecessary worrying about health: 10%; and nagging, miscellaneous worries: 10%.

So around 90 percent of worries are pure self-induced stressful, unnecessary time-consumers. The remaining 10%, are actual issues that may have merit to give thought to or concern about . .

  “Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.” ~Author Unknown

During a more-than-usually stressful peak in my hell-on-earth job, I asked a supporter for advice on what to do.  She asked me back, “Is it a life or death situation?” And although it felt like it was, it truly wasn’t.  No.  Then she asked, “Will this be as important 6 months from now?” And again, I said, no, it probably would not.   And she replied with the cliché, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and everything is small stuff. ” This advice was helpful to me in dealing with the day to day problems.  But when, at times, the stress increased, I asked another Support Person to help me – a Heavenly One.  In prayer.  I asked God to take this cup from me if it were His will.

Prayers are sometimes answered through other persons or events (this happens a lot to me; I believe there are no coincidences). That next Sunday, the pastor’s sermon caught my attention. He suggested that when stress is overwhelming you, go to a quiet place where you will not be interrupted.  Close your eyes and visualize all the stress factors in your life that you are dealing with.  Lumped together, they are overwhelming.  They would be to anyone. But — God tells us:    “Fret not yourself…..” (Psalm 37:1)

Take them, these ‘stress-thorns in your side’ — one at a time, and mentally picture giving each one individually to God. Visualize the problem ‘thorn’ and extend each one to God, literally with outstretched hands, asking Him to take it from you and to handle it from now on. Visualize God taking the worry from you.  And don’t take it back.  He wants to help you.  As you give each worry to Him, remember to thank Him for relieving you of this burden.  Consider it a ‘done deal’.  Take a deep breath and relax.  It’s not your problem anymore to worry about.  It’s in His Hands. And you will be amazed how God will give you peace. Our Ultimate Father in Heaven promises us this:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7).

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:31-34)

P.S.  God did take the cup from me – and replaced it with the best job I ever had.

© Marie Coppola, Revised March 2015