Life Lessons in One Sentence

Life lessons in one sentence are a common thing in social media. Some are good, some are great and some…well not all are winners. Below are the briefly stated life lessons I like the most. (These are in no particular order, just randomly typed as I thought of them. No hidden meaning.)

One of the most beautiful things we can do is help another.

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.

Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you become your reality.

Never let a bad day make you think you have a bad life.

It’s not about the cards you’ve been dealt, but how you play the hand.

Winners are not people who never fail, but people who never quit.

Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

True love means whatever happens you figure it out…Together.

I’ve learned so much from my mistakes, I’m thinking of making a few more.

Books are uniquely portable magic.

In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

If it doesn’t feel right, doesn’t seem right, trust your gut.

Helping someone else is the first step in helping yourself.

Love is an equal opportunity emotion.

If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

Be careful what you say as words cannot be taken back once said.

There are so many more I could share with you all. What I find interesting is any one of these simple sentences is really quite complex in thought. I could write tons on each and every one of these statements. Yes, some are similar in meaning and thought, yet just a slightly different turn of phrase that expands the thought in a new direction.

I will leave you with this…find a simple life lesson and make it your own. Live it, breathe it and abide by it. You may find a new take on life by doing so.

My Favorite Authors

I have a few favorite authors, and a number I like and will read regularly. I designate one as a favorite if I tend to enjoy their books over and over, I look forward to each new publication, and I own a number of their books.

One of my all time favorite authors is Nora Roberts. I in particular enjoy her series – trilogies, quartets, etc. I like her development of each character – showing different facets of them to a reader. I enjoy the paranormal aspects she brings to a number of her books – making them part fantasy to encourage a fun journey in my mind.

BEFORE YOU READ ANY FURTHER – POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT!

Nora Roberts recently completed a trilogy called The Guardians Trilogy. The first book, Stars of Fortune introduces the legend/quest, the cast of characters – including a mermaid, an immortal, a time traveler, a wizard, a lycan and a seer, and the romantic pairing for this one. The second book, Bay of Sighs, continues the quest and the development of the unusual characters and offers up the next romantic pairing. The third book, Island of Glass, concludes the quest, has the third couple find love together and we find out how things wrap up for the other characters.

This formula is one that Ms. Roberts uses in most of her series, with different characters, quests or objectives, and pairings. It’s a successful formula and one I enjoy reading. Some may critique that it is a re-used formula, but given that she intersperses other novels into her repertoire that do not fit a definitive formula, I don’t see an issue with it.

Another favorite author is Heather Graham. She does primarily paranormal mysteries with a romance aspect to them. She has a series called Krewe of Hunters that will incorporate some of the same characters but mostly it is the name of the special FBI group – Krewe of Hunters – that is the tie between the books. Ms. Graham’s books tend to show a grittier side of life at times which keeps the books interesting and compelling. I also happen to like the way the romance aspect gets mixed in, but I’m a romantic.

Another favorite is Sherryl Woods. Her books are simply a joy to read. Contemporary romances that are sweet, non abrasive, with a hint of Mayberry and old fashioned/traditional values. The women portrayed are not some throwback to the 1950’s. They are strong, independent women. The type of women you want to be friends with and have in your life. The men are good guys (in general) but are not the focus. Relationships and family are the focus. Ms. Woods books can make a bleak world sunny.

I enjoy any number of other authors – male ones too – but these 3 authors are my “go-to” ones.

Who are your favorites? What genre do you prefer?

 

The Militants

As basically anyone who knows me knows I am not a fan of the current administration in power in the US. Most people know that I am active in working for improvement in the state I live in – Delaware. I will work on political campaigns for candidates will best serve our state, I  will share information about national issues that concern me and I will do what I can to support organizations I care about.

That being said, I am not what I consider militant about any of it. How do I define militant? Someone who will not just be in your face about the issues, but are rude and unbending in their views. The militants will stand for something no matter how it may affect thousands in the negative because they feel their way is the only way.

I’ve seen it on both sides of the political fence. But honestly what kills me is when I see perfectly nice people get this way. Yes, there is so much outrage about what the current administration is doing that people are freaking out. Much for good reason. It’s the way some are handling this outrage that I object to.

One of the biggest arguments those who are called snowflakes or such have is that people blindly are following our President. Well, wake up and smell the coffee, some of you are doing the same thing with national organizations even though it can negatively affect many. But God forbid should anyone try to tell you that.

This is the problem. The extremists are the problem. The militants – whether leaning far right or far left are an issue. This country cannot survive living in an extremist state. If you are unwilling to understand that very fact, then you are part of the problem.

For me, I am re-evaluating who I align myself with and who I will support due to the militant attitudes I am coming across daily. I am a middle of the road person who reacts very poorly when confronted by a militant person.

When someone becomes militant they are in fact alienating many people who may agree with a lot of what they are fighting for in our country. But their abrasive and unyielding stance is the alienating factor. Nobody likes to have somebody forcefully shove their views non-stop down their throats, even when you agree with the view. It’s not just uncomfortable, it’s rude and uncalled for.

Now some who read this may feel that everyone has a right to be heard and they will not be silenced. I don’t disagree with that at all. It’s a question of how you choose to share your views. It’s a question of are you being rude and unabashedly aggressive or are you voicing your concerns and outrage in a constructive manner that may, just may allow people to actually hear you instead of wince and shy away from you?

Our nation, despite the issues we have going on (and most of these have been issues for my entire life), is a great nation. We have many freedoms that so many in this world do not have. We have free speech, the right to protest/demonstrate, the right to vote for who we believe will serve us best. No we don’t always get our way, but then again if our chosen candidate didn’t get elected, we need to figure out why. Blankly saying it’s because all who voted for the other candidate are ___________ is not only a cop-out its wrong.

Again, I am sure my views here will be scorned and I will be given my walking papers from some groups and individuals. But we need to stop being extremists and start listening and hearing each other to come to a middle ground. The only way this nation will be great again is if our next leader is a middle of the road politician who doesn’t cater to any extremist group.

Life is a Balancing Act

Every day we make decisions – what to wear, what to eat for each meal, what to watch on TV. Most are simple, inconsequential decisions, but some make a difference in how we live our lives – whether to take the new job offer, should you volunteer for an organization, do you take on a second job.

The hardest thing to say is no. The second hardest is to say I can no longer do _____. We intrinsically want to please others, so we say yes or continue doing some task even when it’s really putting too much on our plates. We don’t want to disappoint whomever is asking us to do something. We feel guilty and like we’ve let someone down. Sometimes we even will think like we did as children – they won’t like me.

In the past 5-10 years a trend has emerged – taking care of ourselves. This is a foreign concept to most of us and hard to do. I’m one of the worst at this and only take care of myself when I’m well past when I should have done so. I am in awe of those who have this down to a science.

Those of us who are caregivers always take on way more than we should and we pay for it. We spread ourselves so thin we have nothing left for ourselves or anyone else. Taking care of those who need it, working, volunteering, cleaning our homes, being there for others. It’s exhausting.

So how do we do that balancing act of doing what needs to be done and still taking care of ourselves? One way to do so is to look at what is necessary and what isn’t. For those of us who are caregivers, the person or persons we care for must come first. Next it’s what brings income into the home. Third is what is a long standing commitment. At this point you’re done committing to anything outside of these 3 things and yourself.

You probably have more than those 3 things on your plate. You need to decide what goes. How do you determine that? Look at what is the most time consuming outside of the 3 things mentioned above. That is what needs to go. It may even be you just reduce your involvement significantly. Or it may be you need to walk away completely. Either way, to keep your life balanced you must let go.

I face these crossroads with some regularity in my life and I am slowly learning how to identify when I need to say no. It’s a difficult process, training myself to not over-commit. We are repeatedly told to do more by society. We’re shown examples of people who do so much for so many. That’s great for them, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for everyone.

We need to realize as things are being added to our load whether or not our shoulders can handle the weight. Do you know what your limits are when it comes to commitments? It’s different for everyone. The 3 categories listed above can include more than one commitment. This is why I say beyond those, it’s too much.

You need to decide what the priorities are for you. It’s important to take a step back and evaluate your load every so often. Make sure there’s balance to your life. It will keep you sane.

Life Without Father

April 11, 2016 at approximately 11:30 am, my world changed. I was in the jury room of the Kent County Courthouse, waiting to be called for jury selection as I read a book. I was at the far side of the room, it was quiet though there were 100 of us in there. I looked up as the court employee called my name and told me to gather my things. Then I saw my husband standing in the doorway. I knew what had happened. My father, my dad had succumbed to the cancer and was no longer suffering. I cried out and crumbled in the courthouse hallway. Typing this now I still feel that overwhelming sadness that my dad was no longer here on earth.

As an adult, we are more aware of the fact that time is fleeting and that we will not have our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles with us forever. But we still aren’t prepared when it happens. My father lived for just 8.5 months from time of diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer to when he died. He fought hard to beat it, though at times he felt so awful from the treatments he just wanted to let go. He was 80 years old when he died. A lot older than he thought he would live and I am thankful we had him as long as we did.

The grieving process is a bizarre one. It’s different for everyone. I can only speak for how it has been for me. I’m still going through it 10 months later. I still haven’t come to terms completely with my dad’s death. I accept he’s gone, but the pain and sadness and emptiness of knowing the man who was my rock is gone is still very fresh and raw.

Most days, though I think of him and miss him, it doesn’t hit me. I can go long stretches without crying and feeling despondent over dad. I can laugh, concentrate on other things, work, play, enjoy the blessings in my life. Then some little thing will trigger the tears and the deep sadness. There are times when I just go in the bathroom or bedroom and cry.

I got a taste of what this would be like when my mother in law passed in 2012. She wasn’t officially my mother in law yet as my husband and I hadn’t gotten married yet. But her death had a big impact on me and I still miss her and grieve for her today. I know for my husband and his sisters their grief is still there and will probably always will be.

Once you have lost someone who meant so much to you, someone who was a major part of your life, you are never the same. You feel like there is a piece of you missing. A hole where your loved one resided in your heart. That’s not to say they aren’t still right there in your heart, but it’s different. You are different. Life is different.

The sun still shines, the birds still chirp. Holidays and birthdays are celebrated. Life still is happening all around you and you are still part of it. At the beginning it’s almost surreal being surrounded by life and the living when your focus is more on a death. Sure, you go through the motions of daily living, but you are not fully engaged.

For me, I had to force myself to hold in my grief so I could be there for my mother, take care of my home, go to work each day, be a wife and a mother. I feel like I’ve never fully expressed my grief. And maybe we never do. It becomes a part of who we are and we never stop grieving.

I  have not had anyone have the audacity to suggest I should “get over it” as I have heard some people have encountered. I am lucky to have an amazing support system of family and friends I couldn’t live without and will never let go. Perhaps that is why I know I can allow myself to grieve when I need to and I am able to get through all that life has thrown at me.

I am going to give you all a bit of advice: if you encounter someone who is grieving, just be there for them without commentary or judgement. If you are the one grieving, know it’s okay to grieve for however long and in whatever manner you need to grieve. There’s no timeline to follow. Just let it flow.

I’ll always love my dad and I will miss him until I see him again when I join him in heaven.

Joseph R. Frattarola
December 2, 1935 – April 11, 2016

Books and Theater – A Natural Pairing

If you have been reading my posts, you will know 2 of my loves are books and theater. They are a natural pairing given that many plays are based on books, and some books are based on plays. Also they both transport us into another world.

When reading a book you alone travel to the world created. In theater, as an audience member, you travel with the other audience members to the playwright’s vision. The difference in theater is when you are part of the cast – your journey is different than the observer’s.

For an actor, you immerse yourself in your role – becoming part of the story that unfolds. For a director, you are immersed so completely in the telling of the story and the details to bring it to life that you are grounded in the this world instead. The crew is firmly grounded in the details – lights, props, costumes, sound – to such a degree that they don’t have the luxury of the journey.

Why do I call it a luxury? When you immerse yourself in a story and shut out the real world it is a luxury. I call it such because many people cannot take the time to become one with a story in that way. Perhaps when watching a movie, a play/musical or a television show for a brief moment they can. But too often we multi-task when watching something on our televisions – playing games on our mobile devices, checking out our social media feeds, catching up on work, cooking a meal, etc. To totally and completely stop everything else you are doing and become one with a story, that’s a luxury.

Books and theater do more than just tell a story, they can also teach us valuable information. Recently, a local theater staged a show regarding human trafficking. Another is about to tackle racism. For books, aside from textbooks, the nonfiction books explain and showcase real life events and issues that need to be told. These are not light fun topics. These productions and publications are done to enlighten us. To challenge us.

march-sisters-argue-little-women-dec-2015
Little Women – Reedy Point Players – Dec. 2015 March Sisters

One of my favorite things would be plays based on books – classics especially. Little Women (a personal favorite), Pride and Prejudice, To Kill A Mockingbird, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. and so many more. These help bring classics into the modern era to remember the stories and the lessons in them. When I was a teenager a local theater would produce various Shakespeare plays for students to see – staged in the round as it was done in Elizabethan times – during the day. They brought to life stories that could be lost on a modern generation.

If you are not one who enjoys reading books, try seeing some live theater. You may find that theater can be more than just light entertainment or something to endure. Community theaters typically offer shows that aren’t always as “mainstream” as Broadway, something that may surprise you. One local community theater has recently staged Evil Dead and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, including all of the blood and gore. There’s always something for everyone.

Our community theater, Reedy Point Players,  has Shenanigans: A Pirate Cabaret in production currently. This show is a variety of pirate themed songs, jokes and stories. The next production is Titanic: Tragedy and Trial. The first half of the play is vignettes of passengers talking about life aboard the Titanic up until the sinking. The second half of the play is about the senate hearings that occurred days after the tragedy. As you can see, we are a theater that believes in variety.

Books and theater can give you that break from the grind of the every day. They can be a respite from the heavy burdens we all have in life. Their stories can give you hope when you feel hopeless. Their stories can make you step outside of your comfort zone and challenge you to see the world through someone else’s eyes. Their stories can help you grow.

My challenge to you all is to read a book on a topic outside of your norm and to see at least one play at a local theater. You may find you like it.

Books, Books and More Books Please

Hello my name is Aniela and I am a bibliophile. For those who may not be familiar with the term, it is someone who collects or has a great love of books. I do both. Not first edition types of collecting, simply books I by authors I enjoy. I will re-read a book numerous times and love it each and every time. I even enjoy the smell of books. Libraries and bookstores are my favorite places to go. My bank account is in trouble when I enter a bookstore. Hence the reason I wear out my library card.

I enjoy contemporary literature the most, but enjoy my Jane Austen, Shakespeare and Agatha Christie. I am a HUGE Nora Roberts fan – have most of her books on my bookshelf now. I am also a fan of Heather Graham, Debbie Macomber, Sherryl Woods, Anne Rice, Dan Brown, and Brad Meltzer. I enjoy other authors too, but these authors’ books I devour. I also enjoy finding a “new to me” or a brand new author who may take me on a journey of the mind that is new and exciting.

That’s what reading is to me – a journey of the mind. When I read a book I feel transported from wherever I may be into the world created by the author. In my biblio-journeys (*note this is a word of my own creation) I have traveled throughout the United States, to most European countries, Egypt, Morocco, Asia and sailed on various bodies of water. I have traveled in time both forward and backward. Through the authors’ creations I have met people, Gods and creatures from every corner of the earth and beyond.

My biblio-journeys are many times what get through a particularly stressful time in my life. Times when nothing seemed to be going right, my books have been there for me. Times when I haven’t had 2 nickels to rub together, my books have been there enriching my life. Times when the sadness of events in my life could have drowned me, my books have lifted my spirits – easing the burden for me.

My family has joked that a bomb could go off next to me when I’m reading and I wouldn’t notice. That may be a slight exaggeration, but more accurate than not. I close out the world around me and immerse myself into the story in my hands. I can escape the stress and the worry that plagues my everyday life. I can escape the sadness, the depression, the anxiety. I can feel lighter and happier when I am reading.

For those who are not readers, this will seem bizarre to you. You will think there’s something wrong with me. But for those who share my love of reading, you will understand. You know you have found a kindred soul.

Read on fellow bibliophiles, read on.

Dealing with Negativity

In general I am not a negative person. Oh I have my moments, as most of us do where you just can’t help but be negative about something. But still, negativity is not something I like to put out in the universe.

Over the past year or so, negativity has become commonplace, especially in social media. This can be seen in posts, comments and general feel of one’s news feed. It has also made its way into day to day interactions with people in the real world. To me, this is a sad state of affairs for our world.

When negativity surrounds us, we, in turn, tend to do one of 3 things – hide from it, join in it or fight against it. We do these one or all of these three things both online and in real life in response to negativity. Let’s look at how these manifest.

411642_10150883607482144_1320949122_oHide from negativity. Online the obvious first line of defense is to unfollow or hide the offensive post/poster. The second line of defense is to unfriend the offensive poster. In person, it could mean you minimize time spent with the negative person or you stop talking to them all together. Responding by hiding or retreating can save your own sanity, but doesn’t do much to get rid of the negativity.

anielas-phone-106Join into the negativity. In person this could mean all sorts of things – participating in mean gossip, adding your own negative outlook to a conversation, encouraging a fight, participating in a fight or even participating in civil disturbances or riots. Online it is being the negative/offensive poster or engaging in comment wars with people known or unknown to you. This feeds the negativity and encourages it. Therefore the negativity grows.

75544_10151374058672144_654321274_nFight against negativity. This is sometimes the hardest thing to do when it surrounds you day in and day out.The objective is to not just “look on the bright side” but to feel positive/upbeat/happy. In person it may be as simple as smiling at the person standing next to you in line at the store, complimenting someone you don’t know, saying a kind word to another, stating something nice about the person the rest are trashing in gossip, or…well you get the picture. Online it could be posting cute animal/kid pictures, posting an uplifting sentiment or a positive news story. Online it can also mean just scrolling past something negative or that you find offensive instead of feeding into the ugliness.When you fight against negativity with positive and optimistic responses it helps to dampen the negativity and possibly even stop it.

What have we learned? Negativity is all around us. Nothing you don’t already know. It’s up to each of us to decide how we respond to negativity.  The more negativity you put out there the more it will come back at you. Whereas the more positive and optimistic attitude put out, the more it will surround you. As the saying goes – love knows no bounds.

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Social Media and Politics

Do you remember growing up and being told there were certain things you didn’t discuss in public – religion, politics and sex? Have you noticed that of those 3 things, the one thing that truly became taboo in our adulthood is politics? With this past presidential election it seems that all subjects are on the table – like it or not.

The most obvious place this is seen is on social media. Twitter (the favorite of our current President), Facebook and even Instagram are saturated with people’s political opinions. On Facebook you will see those who still believe in keeping certain things private  are lashing out or pleading with their friends to please stop and go back to the simpler times.

I am probably one of the worst offenders of saturating social media with my opinions – heck I even started a blog so I could share even more! Due to my constant barrage of political themed posts I am sure a number of people have “unfollowed” me to just get a break from them. I would bet some family members have done the same with my posts too. So knowing this why don’t I ease up?

Quite simply because I cannot stop sharing what is going on in our country. I cannot stay quiet about our great nation’s new leader is doing to all of us. It is important to be aware and to be outspoken about these things. Even if it makes me or anyone else uncomfortable. For when we’re uncomfortable we seek to change.

That’s really why people get upset by religion, politics and sex. It makes them uncomfortable. Politics is the biggest button to make people uncomfortable. Those who don’t watch the news, don’t read about the news – they’re the ones especially who state “I don’t like politics.”

This is not saying those who are sick of political posts taking over their social media news feeds are wrong in feeling that way. Some don’t get why the rest of us are outraged and upset by the current administration. Some don’t care about “those things” as opposed to what affects them directly. Some just look at social media as a way to stay in touch with friends and family and don’t want it to be anything more than that.

Do politics really belong as social media posts though? Yes, yes they do. 1.79 billion people are active Facebook users. Twitter has 320 million listed as active. Instagram has 400 million users. Google+ has 300 million registered users. That’s 2.61 billion worldwide on social media.(1) Quite an audience for a political activist, don’t you think?

Reportedly on Facebook women have an average of 166 friends and men have an average of 145 friends. (2) So for arguments sake we’ll say overall each Facebook user has an average of 155 friends. Multiply that out by the number of those friends who share, comment, or react to your post and that’s a lot of potential viewers of information. Still quite an audience.

Though those of us who are the political posters on social media may annoy some of our friends and family. But the numbers of those we can reach to create awareness and boost activism outweighs the annoyance factor. Social media is a place for the voice of those who need one.

references:

(1) http://www.adweek.com/digital/heres-how-many-people-are-on-facebook-instagram-twitter-other-big-social-networks/

(2) http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-17-amazing-facebook-stats/

 

Prioritization in Activism/Advocacy

Today there are many things we all want to advocate for or against. With the new administration moving forward with the campaign promises like a bull in a china shop, people’s passions are at an all time high, no matter their declared allegiance. The number of causes/issues to want to sign up to show your support can be staggering.

So, how does one prioritize to ensure your advocacy/activism is the most effective and doesn’t burn you out?

First write down all of the issues and causes that you are interested in advocating. You don’t need to put them in any particular order at this time, just get them down either on paper or on your computer.

Second, review the list and remove anything that you do not have a strong passionate feeling about. Do this with a discerning eye and be honest with yourself. No one is grading you or judging you about it. Ask yourself if your passion is because it really means something to you or because it’s trendy? Yes we all get sucked into the trendy issues and causes but because they’re fickle, don’t have that influence you.

Third, look at how many issues and/or causes do you have left on your list? If you have 5 or less – your good. If you have 6 – 10, you may want to re-evaluate the list. If you have more than 10 – you really need to cut it down because even if you are not working a full time job, this is way more than any one person can handle.

Fourth, now that your list is down to a manageable size, go back over the list with the thought of which one jumps out at you first? That’s your number 1 priority. Continue to review the list with this same approach until you have them listed in order. There is your prioritized list.

Someone reading this is going to say, “but what about when an executive order or some vote is coming up in Congress or Senate about an issue/cause I didn’t know was in jeopardy?” That’s called re-prioritizing. Things change everyday in our world and we must be flexible enough to adjust our priorities as necessary.

Nothing I’ve suggested here is any different than any of us do on a daily basis either at home or work. Most people just don’t think about doing it in relation to advocacy and activism.

Remember the most important thing is to do not allow yourself to get burned out too fast. A lot of us have stepped up our game recently regarding advocacy of causes/issues we care about. There are a lot of groups and organizations asking for a lot of our time and money. Be selective. Don’t feel like you must give your time and money to every one of them. Again, use the same steps to prioritize.

Now go out there and help better our world!