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Christianity 101: A Simpler Way Forward is a title name change from The Christian Faith: A Quick Guide To Understanding Its Inter-Workings, which is the same book with a few minor changes.

When someone becomes a new Christian, there is a learning curve from knowing little about the subject to advancing into major teachings of the Christian faith. This is not to mention trying to understand the structure of the Bible—the handbook and guide for Christianity.

When someone first becomes a Christian, it can feel like you are in a maze, lost in all the information that comes one’s way through research and looking for a way forward in one’s newfound faith. I like to use the analogy that it's like starting to read from the middle of a good book, then trying to figure out the plot and who all the characters are and how they all relate to each other. Christianity 101 provides a way to start at the beginning and introduces to a novice the foundational building blocks of information, allowing someone to build their knowledge base starting from a place that will allow them to understand biblical concepts and principles, as they are interlinked to each other, providing a way forward that is understandable for most individuals to grasp.

To accomplish these types of goals, one needs to understand what the Bible is and how it is structured. Because it is the Bible that will provide all that is required to understand the Christian faith and all its complexities. Thus, Christianity 101 provides this type of information along with a chapter on church polity or how the local churches are structured and governed. In the end, Christianity 101: A Simpler Way Forward is a book that will become a useful resource to use in starting out in your newfound faith and provide useful information in guiding you out of the maze you're in, and onto a path which is more easily navigated along life’s journey.

I talk to a Christian that was caught in such a maze, confused over the issues of why there are so many kinds of churches and why everyone seems to believe different things, yet they all call themselves Christian. The question for them becomes who do I believe, and how do I weed out the falsehoods from the truth? The Baptist says this and the Methodist say that, and who are the Jehovah Witnesses? The confusion for this individual was great.

This is why Christianity 101 was written. To help provide guidance to those stuck in a maze looking for a way out. Christianity 101 does not make an attempt to teach you what everyone believes, but teaches you what the Bible teaches and how to find the answers you are looking for within the Scriptures. The Bible states that the Holy Spirit is your teacher for all those that have been “born again” (read John chapters 3, 14, and 16).

As a new Christian, do you know what a covenant is? Or what baptism or the Lord’s Table is all about? Do you understand the difference between the universal church and a local church? Do you know how the Bible came to be and how it is structured? I speak to all these questions and much more within the book Christianity 101.

So, perhaps you are tired of wandering about within your maze; let Christianity 101: A Simpler Way Forward guide you with biblical concepts, historical information or truth, that will help you establish a foundation that will guide you out of that maze and onto a path that the Holy Spirit can help you navigate.

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On May 18th, 2022, Barry Donadio was awarded New York State’s Conspicuous Service Star medal by New York Governor Kathy Hochul. The Governor presented the medal to Donadio on behalf of Representatives in the New York legislature 20 years after he served in the military. The medal commemorates his honorable service in the Armed Forces and the State of New York.

https://barrydonadio.medium.com/barry-donadio-awarded-conspicuous-service-star-by-new-york-governor-7270e51de1a5
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Pvt. Barry Donadio of the 42nd Infantry Division Scout Platoon 1988 undisclosed location

On April 7th, 2022, Barry Donadio was recognized by the State of New York for his service in the N.Y. Army National Guard during the Cold War. The Adjutant General of the N.Y. Division of Military and Naval Affairs issued a Certificate of Recognition to Donadio 34 years after he joined the Army at the age of 17 .

Barry Donadio is a home grown New York Long Islander. He was born in Bay Shore, grew up in Oakdale and lived in Port Jefferson Station as a teenager. After attending Comsewogue high school, he served in various patriotic positions through out his career.

Those positions included serving in the N.Y. Army National Guard 42nd Infantry Division Scout Platoon located in Patchogue N.Y..

He then served in the 340th Military Police in Jamaica, Queens.

After that, he served at the 106th Security Police in Westhampton Beach, NY.. He led the Emergency Services Team there and was Sniper certified by the FBI and the Suffolk County Police.

Later, he took a position United States Secret Service at the White House. He made a name for himself while serving on the Secret Service Emergency Response Team (ERT) as one of the top marksman while he protected President Bush and President Obama on a daily basis.

Donadio qualified under the standards and criteria’s for obtaining New York’s Certificate of Recognition for Cold War Service during his service in the New York Army National Guard.

Barry Donadio’s newly awarded Cold War service Certificate of Recognition

Upon receiving the medal Donadio stated;

I would like to thank the Adjutant General and the Division of Military and Naval Affairs for recognizing me. I am truly honored to have served in the New York Army National Guard and protect to people of New York and the United States during the Cold War”

I will always serve my native state of New York and its citizens.

It is noteworthy that Donadio is a descendant of the original settlers of New Amsterdam (today’s New York) through his fraternal grandmother. Because of this reason, getting this medal from his home state of New York is very important to him and his family.

On March 30th the state of New York awarded Donadio “The Medal For Merit”

This is the second medal Barry Donadio has received after his military service.

On June 24th 2017, Donadio was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. The medal was awarded 17 years after Donadio completed his military service. Congressman Andy Harris of Maryland presented the medal to Donadio in person.

Donadio will add to his credentials the newly awarded Certificate of Recognition and N.Y. Medal For Merit along with his already existing Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, National Defense Medal, and four honorable discharges to name a few.

Since completing his military service and government service, Donadio has moved to Maryland and stayed active as an advocate for other veterans. He is a member of the Kent Island American Legion Post 278 and a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7464 in Grasonville, Maryland.

New York state flag

#barrydonadio #medal #merit #newyork #state #airguard #military #2022 #ssgt #airman #westhampton #honorable #celebrity #historic #usaf #army #nationalguard #soldier #duty #service #police #secretservice #sniper #ert #obama #bush #whitehouse #president #agent #officer #ud #patchogue #army #scout #infantry #42ndinfantry #division #csc #infantry #scoutplatoon #private #armory

On April 7th, 2022, Barry Donadio was recognized by the State of New York for his service in the N.Y. Army National Guard during the Cold War. The Adjutant General of the N.Y. Division of Military and Naval Affairs issued a Certificate of Recognition to Donadio 34 years after he joined the Army at the age of 17 .

Barry Donadio is a home grown New York Long Islander. He was born in Bay Shore, grew up in Oakdale and lived in Port Jefferson Station as a teenager. After attending Comsewogue high school, he served in various patriotic positions through out his career.

Those positions included serving in the N.Y. Army National Guard 42nd Infantry Division Scout Platoon located in Patchogue N.Y..

He then served in the 340th Military Police in Jamaica, Queens.

After that, he served at the 106th Security Police in Westhampton Beach, NY.. He led the Emergency Services Team there and was Sniper certified by the FBI and the Suffolk County Police.

Later, he took a position United States Secret Service at the White House. He made a name for himself while serving on the Secret Service Emergency Response Team (ERT) as one of the top marksman while he protected President Bush and President Obama on a daily basis.

Donadio qualified under the standards and criteria’s for obtaining New York’s Certificate of Recognition for Cold War Service during his service in the New York Army National Guard.

Barry Donadio’s newly awarded Cold War service Certificate of Recognition

Upon receiving the medal Donadio stated;

I would like to thank the Adjutant General and the Division of Military and Naval Affairs for recognizing me. I am truly honored to have served in the New York Army National Guard and protect to people of New York and the United States during the Cold War”

I will always serve my native state of New York and its citizens.

It is noteworthy that Donadio is a descendant of the original settlers of New Amsterdam (today’s New York) through his fraternal grandmother. Because of this reason, getting this medal from his home state of New York is very important to him and his family.

On March 30th the state of New York awarded Donadio “The Medal For Merit”

This is the second medal Barry Donadio has received after his military service.

On June 24th 2017, Donadio was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. The medal was awarded 17 years after Donadio completed his military service. Congressman Andy Harris of Maryland presented the medal to Donadio in person.

Donadio will add to his credentials the newly awarded Certificate of Recognition and N.Y. Medal For Merit along with his already existing Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, National Defense Medal, and four honorable discharges to name a few.

Since completing his military service and government service, Donadio has moved to Maryland and stayed active as an advocate for other veterans. He is a member of the Kent Island American Legion Post 278 and a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7464 in Grasonville, Maryland.

New York state flag

#barrydonadio #medal #merit #newyork #state #airguard #military #2022 #ssgt #airman #westhampton #honorable #celebrity #historic #usaf #army #nationalguard #soldier #duty #service #police #secretservice #sniper #ert #obama #bush #whitehouse #president #agent #officer #ud #patchogue #army #scout #infantry #42ndinfantry #division #csc #infantry #scoutplatoon #private #armory

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We are all on a life journey to the self. We all don’t realize this but we all are trying to understand who God is.

I am not a scholar on religion or philosophy but I feel that my life journey to understanding myself meant that I had to understand my reflection that I believe is all good and 100% love that unconditionally loves me back. This is a never-ending journey we are on because we all are here to experience being in love. 

I believed in the Bible. Let me clarify because I believe the Bible is a source that tells us about the self and the self’s journey. The self is the collective whole. It is all of us. When we see ourselves, we see ourselves outside of the individual self. We only see our image. When we see God in our image, we see what is good in all things because God created everything and everyone. As His image, we understand that I am you. Religion is not God. Religion is a path that moulds our individual identities. We still have to figure out who God is; who is in all of us, in all the paths that are seeking God or the Promised Land that is perfect and whole.

The Garden of Eden

Where is Israel?

We are ONE brain, therefore we need to understand that we all have different paths that got us to this place. Israel is all our journeys that unite in love because we unconditionally love one another — We are ONE with God. It is us who define Him in one another. We become balanced — We become ONE within the self.

We cannot deny our journey to how we got here because we all needed this journey through darkness to reveal to our individual selves the mystery and awe of God. Now that we know how to get to this place, we can help each other also find it.

I’ve learned from adversity. I can be thankful for challenges because not losing faith in Him made me a stronger person. I did not intend to have a website, a book, and a mission like this one. Twenty-five years ago, did I think that I would be thinking like this? Of course not! I am just like everybody else. I am also on that road, the same as you. I am just trying to survive here. I desire pleasure just like we all do.

When I am nothing, I realize, now, that I become everything — I become you. This is because I believe in God who is in everything, I am becoming everything. The woman is the image of the man. The woman is in the man. The woman is the physical, feminine, energy that can be either good or evil. If the woman loves God in heaven then she brings the masculine, spiritual, energy down here on earth. 

Energy is spiritual that is reflected in the physical. Masculine energy is unconditional love and feminine energy chooses to be unconditional love. Humanity is all feminine because we all have the choice to love. Love is the heart. The heart is faith. It is nurturing. It loves.

We are here to choose love and be love.

Our brain is good because it is very rational. It trusts the path that we are on, but our heart loves blindly. Love is who we are, first, and then we see the path that will show us the way.

Helping people believe in good is healing. We are here to find ourselves but we find our self in the image of the other. If we believe we all were created by a good God then we only see good. We see God in the other. 

We need to see God in the other to heal the self. We need to understand that we are good. We are the image of God.

This is a very deep Messianic concept that, for now, is rejected. Darkness is oppressing the truth that we are love. It is the darkness we all have to fight within the individual self to finally be free, to just be — To be in the Promised Land. It is the ego that does not believe that we are good. It does not believe its image is good.

We close the door because we make excuses about trying to understand a concept of oneness which means we have to get over our negativity toward others instead of understanding that negativity is here because it exists in the individual self — The truth is that negativity isn’t real because it is not truth, so we need to stop believing in it.

Help me shine God’s light of love and truth to the world. Desire for us to be healed. Desire for us to be one. 

I am oppressed by the darkness that does not want the world to know this secret that will free us all from our dysfunction of being unbalanced between physicality and spirituality. We are here to be healed. We are here to be balanced. 

We are here to be love. When we believe in love we become love. 

Help me help you. 

From my heart to yours,

Shannie


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Gratitude is an emotion we feel when we start appreciating all that we have in our lives and are thankful for them. It can be as big as getting a promotion or as small as enjoying a full moon night; maybe even simple as relishing a delicious pastry or an icecream. People often feel they are living very ordinary lives and there is nothing to be grateful for. Come to think of it, if we look at our daily routine lives and compare it with the highly valued materialistic things which we don’t have, then it does give us a feeling that there is nothing to be grateful for. But that’s where we are wrong and we need to change our perspective about life.

Ultimately all of us humans want to be happy. It doesn’t matter where it comes from. What matters in fact is our state of mind which should be in a state of emotional well-being and positivity always. But if we focus our attention on the materialistic side of things then we can’t live in this consistent state of emotional well-being. This is because the amount of materialistic things differ in everyone’s lives. Some have more wealth while others have less. Again that doesn’t mean that the wealthiest are the most happy and the poorest or less materialistically endowed are the saddest. The reason behind this can be unearthed from this meaningful quote which goes, “It is not happiness that makes us grateful, rather it is gratitude that makes us happy.” This is a very important philosophy that we must take note because herein lies the secret of our happiness.

When we are grateful in whatever stage of life we are in, there is a great shift in our consciousness. We view things in a different light. Our mood changes for the better. The state of negativity and despondency changes to a more positive and optimistic outlook. Instead of thinking what a dull rainy day it is today, you change your perspective and stand near your window to see how fresh and clean the earth looks. Or simply enjoy the sound of the rain that can be relaxing and have a therapeutic effect on you. Maybe you can use that day to spend indoors to read a book or paint and sip some warm coffee. Maybe it feels more peaceful to do an assignment indoors with the soothing hum of the rain instead of facing the heavy rush of traffic or hurly burly of the outside world. You may tend to feel more inspired and creative on those rainy days and paint out that beautiful scenery, knit a muffler or maybe finish writing your article. Immediately your perspective changes. Another situation wherein you might have forgotten your door keys and have to wait for your spouse to return from his office. So instead of being frustrated waiting, you could go out for a walk and at the end of it you realise that the exercise helped  you feel more refreshed after a tiring day at the office. Or maybe you caught up with your neighbour and treated her to a cup of coffee, thereby connecting with her after ages. So either way you feel better about things.

Even on the days we are sick, maybe at that time we may have felt low or depressed. But it is during those times that we stop taking our health for granted. It makes us appreciate our health even more and we tend to take better care of it. I remember last month I was out of internet for almost a week. After a while as I gave up fuming about it and went on with my work, I realised it was a gift for me instead. Because that kept me out of social media like facebook or checking out entertaining videos on YouTube and I was busy learning my technical tutorials. The challenge I face with my technical tutorials is that as soon as they get tedious or a little hard to understand, I switch to facebook or YouTube for temporary relief. Thus lack of internet access helped me focus better and boosted my productivity. I finished my project earlier than the stipulated time. Of course I had scheduled the work which needed internet access for the evening hours when my husband returned and I could use his wi-fi hotspot. Recently my internet has been very fast and that too was provided with unlimited access due to a recent scheme by a telecom company. I have never been so appreciative!

Sometimes of course it is a real struggle to be grateful when you are having a difficult time in your life – maybe you are suffering from a serious illness or at other times you might be going through a destructive relationship. But a lot of real life stories have shown that it is actually the hard times that make people more grateful about their struggles, which has in turn bestowed them a hidden gift in some form or the other. More often people who have faced harder times are the ones more appreciative about life and have become more successful in their relationships or careers.

Gratitude is also believed to activate the law of attraction in our lives. People all over the world have reported that more they have been grateful, more has been the abundance in their lives. It is believed that when we are grateful we focus our energies on the positives in our lives, that in turn gives the universe the sign that that is what we want and helps making our desires manifest. On the other hand when we are negative and grumpy we are focused on the negative aspects in our lives and that is the message we send to the universe. Thus our life becomes a downward spiral from then on.

The universe understands your emotions, not your words or your wants. If you want something badly, but your emotion is that it is difficult to achieve, then that is what you will get – which is the lack of success and only the feeling of want. But if on the other hand you are confident that whatever you ask will come to you, the universe senses this feeling of confidence and abundance in you. And it is this abundance that will fill your life. Be grateful that the best has happened in your life and in turn the universe will sense this assurance you have about life and give you more.

‘Ask and you will receive,’ is a popular bible quote. It simply is nothing but the law of attraction. But then for this to work, you have to ask with a sense of gratitude that the universe will deliver it for you and it will definitely come to pass. Even if something bad happens, think of it as a temporary struggle and try to view it as a hidden gift because that is what it is. I have had my low phases in life but I feel it has been a hidden gift to me because it is what made me a better writer and I could touch on emotional aspects that afflicted many other people too. It made me feel and write better about the emotions of my characters in my stories. It made me research for resources and articles to make myself  happy and once I found it, I found ways to be at peace with myself as well as understand my relations with my closest ones better. It also gave me confidence to be my best friend the times when people were not around. In other words it made me less whiny and a more self-assured person instead.

Even during the times you are upset with your family  members or your friends, think of the times they have done something nice for you or have been there for you. It will remove that anger and release you from those pent up feelings. It will usher in emotional freedom by making you feel unchained and a lot lighter.

So what do we do to enforce this feeling of gratitude in our lives? Keep a journal and write three to five things you are grateful for. Gratitude journaling has been reported to bring down our stress levels and make us more calmer. See that whatever you write is not automated and repetitive. Don’t write for the sake of writing. Instead feel the emotion while writing it. Or if you feel pressured, just write one thing in detail and feel the appreciation while writing it. Write small things like your sister’s phone call which always gives that close chummy feeling and a feeling of security that you can reach for her at any time of your life. Otherwise you can mention about something that touched you like the new self-help book you are reading that gave you an insight into something that was bothering you. Or maybe simply relish the feeling of freedom that you have the money to buy a book of your choice whenever you want to. During your difficult days when you turn back the pages of your gratitude journal and re-read it, you will feel more appreciative in your period of reflection and realise there is so much to be thankful for.

It is said that writing makes us calmer and centred as we unclutter our thoughts on paper. It increases our sense of objectivity as we stop agonising over a problem and start seeing it from another’s point of view or a third person. It’s like your friend whom you can spill your thoughts to or talk your heart out. Hence there is a feeling of being released and understood. Since you are talking to yourself, you connect more with the inner you and it gives you more insight into your thoughts. Thus it helps to promote self-growth. It makes you more mindful and aware as you pour your thoughts on paper. Your mind stops to wander and makes you more ‘present’ in that moment. As the past frustrations and irritations peel off, you feel less loaded and it reduces the intensity of your anger, pain or sadness. It makes you more centred and calm. It helps to organise your thoughts better and gives you more clarity on your emotions. It makes you more intuitive and creative as it activates the right side of your brain.

When you write about the things you are grateful for it will fortify your sense of gratitude even more. It heals you emotionally and makes you feel relaxed. It gets you more creative as a downstream of positive thoughts engulf your mind and spirit. As you remove all obstacles, your connection with the universe gets more enhanced and unadulterated. The universe is talking to you even more through its unhindered channel and pouring out its abundance to you as you live everyday with a sense of wonder and gratitude.

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Being happy is not about temporary thrills, pleasurable pursuits, exciting events, winning prizes or living a luxurious lifestyle. It is not even about making a lot of money, achieving fame, being the best looking or the smartest. Because the richest, the famous, the best looking or the smartest can still be the most depressed  people on earth. Being happy in reality is actually a matter of lifestyle. It can be found amongst the most ordinary lives as anyone on this earth can be happy if they want to be. It is not a matter of position or possession but simply a state of mind manifested from the kind of lifestyle we lead.

So what lifestyle changes should we make to be in a good mood everyday of our lives? What can one do so that a general state of positivity and good feeling is our way of life? Of course, this doesn’t mean we will not have our bad days and failures or go through situations that can make us feel temporarily defeated. But how do we bounce back out of it quickly and live in a state of positivity and confidence that things will surely turn in our favour? How to be in a happy mood on a very ordinary day and love each moment of our routine life? We can aim for our goals only when we have a strong positive mindset, don’t we? So how do we do that? For that we have to adopt a lifestyle that embraces activities and programmes that promote happiness.

  1. Exercise is known to be a great mood booster as it releases endorphins that helps alleviate our mood. So, if you make it a habit to exercise everyday then it can help you in beating stress and annihilate the heaviness that might clutter your way of thinking. It will aid in keeping you in a lighter and happier mood while going about your daily business every day. Regular exercise will also keep you fit and give you a sense of achievement where your physique is concerned. If you dislike the gym you can opt to do something more suited to your interests and personality such as dancing, yoga or any other fun sport like tennis, badminton, basketball etc. The friends and acquaintances you meet at the gym or club will also give you a sense of belonging and companionship as your goals and passions will be more in line with them.

  2. Meditation is a must if you want to live a happy life. Meditation calms any kind of turmoil that you might be feeling inside or any problem that might tend to make you restless. It soothes the mind and helps eliminate negative thoughts that might haunt you and bring you down on a daily basis. You will feel a sense of calm and see your problems more logically – in other words with a sense of wisdom. The practice of meditation helps shed more light on the problems you are facing and analyse them better. You tend to gain clarity over them and achieve peace of mind. It develops your intuition better and helps you find more rational solutions to them. You will find yourself feeling less and less bitter as it increases your emotional stability. A feeling of relaxation tends to pervade in your everyday life. It helps increase your creativity too. It reduces the restlessness inside by stabilizing your thoughts and helps you gain more focus in your work. It expands your consciousness and you tend to view things from a greater perspective than before. All in all it gives you a greater sense of wisdom.

  3. Drink water. Water keeps you hydrated and less cranky.

  4. Start keeping a journal. Write down your problems. It helps empty out that clutter clogging your mind and makes you feel lighter as if you have removed a major weight from your shoulders. It releases pent-up feelings and emotions. Once you write down your feelings, it gives you a better perspective of the agitation you are feeling inside by gaining more clarity. It helps you sort out your feelings better by disentangling them, processing them and relating them more logically with outer events. You see your problems more maturely as an outsider and thereby easily find solutions for them. You find your worries less overwhelming and easy to let go. It helps balance your mind and increase emotional stability. It soothes your troubled mind by allowing you to counsel yourself. It helps in healing yourself and thereby bringing in harmony to your life.
  1. Try to live in the present. The more you live in the present the better you will feel everyday of your life. Needless worrying about the future and dwelling in the past is a great mood killer. Live in the philosophy that the past has been done and gone. The lesson learnt will pay richly all your life. And even if you feel there was no lesson then there is no point dwelling in it. Expect that whatever will happen in future will only be for your best. Believe in that higher source that there is a greater, grander design for you and only the best will follow.

  2. Strive to embrace a broader view of things. Try to forgive others and let go. The more we hold on to a grudge, more does it make us a bitter and an angrier person. It will make us even more low and dismal. It will make us unhappier than the other person we are angry about. The more we let go, the lighter will be our state of mind and overall mood. Understand that when a person is negative with you then most likely that is how the person’s basic nature is. He or she, in general, carries that attitude in life and behaves the same with all others too. Just forgive and forget. This doesn’t mean you have to be very friendly with that person and blindly believe in them again. But be wiser by releasing the anger, keeping a distance from that person and being more cautious next time.

  3. If somebody doesn’t live up to your expectations, then try to see things from their point of view from time to time. Maybe that person was having a bad day and hence didn’t notice you or pay you any attention. Maybe your friend had a major disagreement with his colleague at office and so was somewhat snappy with you.

  4. Be a kinder and a helpful person. This really helps in building up more happy hormones in you. When we help others, notice that we feel much better and lighter after that act of kindness. If we resolve to do something kind every day, then our life in general will be a very positive one.

  5. Develop a hobby especially a creative one like painting, sketching, pottery and craftwork. It will keep you totally immersed in the creative process and after an hour or so you will feel so much better and happier.

  6. Strive to be as emotionally independent and self reliant as possible. Because there maybe times you won’t find anyone around when you are low or depressed. People are quite caught up with their own lives and rarely you will find people generous to lend time to you out of their own challenging busy lives. So be your best friend always. Don’t have expectations from others even if he or she is your best friend or your sibling. People keep changing as per the situations in life. Everyone is on their own growth path and might make mistakes in their journey of life. It’s part of being human. So don’t have expectations however much you have done for them. Expectations only ruin relationships. Give and forget. As the Bible says, when you do charity, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. This age-old philosophy will always keep you mentally strong, emotionally independent and happy. It will help you achieve emotional balance as your feelings or mood will not depend on any external factors. You will be the sole owner of your own happiness. So be passionate about your own stuff that is your work, your hobbies, your fitness activities and other practices such as yoga, meditation etc. This will keep your mind always involved, busy and happy. It will steer you away from those negative monkey thoughts that are the root cause of unhappiness and a bad mood.

  7. Live in confidence always that whatever challenges or goals you have, there is always a higher source, or the universe if you’d like to call it, to help you and guide you to achieve your dreams. Wishes are prayers that are bound to come true if we have enough faith in ourselves and that higher source.

  8. Never feel superior or inferior to anyone. Each of us is born with special talents and gifts. Be confident in your talents but appreciate what you don’t have in others. This will give you a balanced feeling about how you perceive yourself and others.
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Not Alone

[VA Group Therapy - a single step]

—AW Schade USMC 1965/69

Before my fourth group session, my psychiatrist motioned me to his office. He said, “It’s time you reach another stage of healing.” I realized what he meant. In previous sessions I joined discussions but shied away from revealing my history.

I sat in silence to absorb what he suggested. Fully aware counseling with him differed from engaging peers and exposing my conflicts with war, manhood, and God. I told him I would try. 

I rarely discussed Vietnam, lost buddies, or the atrocities we encountered. Nor sought to reconnect with Marines I fought beside. I struggled to block out everything about the war, but nightmares, depression, and guilt ensured I never would.

I first imagined group therapy as guys telling ‘Rambo’ stories. Old men, touting what they did, how life might have been, and blaming everyone else for their missteps. I was wrong.

In our bunch, all but one veteran saw conflict. Several lived with physical impairments, others spent periods in and out of psychiatric care. Most hoped to purge their anguish, but only a few proved resilient enough to succeed.

After friendly prodding, the vet who didn’t experience warfare explained that he regularly unloaded hundreds of black body bags from choppers. He was plagued by memories of clutching lifeless soldiers’ bodies, or scantily packed body parts. 


I peered at the aged man, groping for words to release his repressed guilt. Tears blurred my vision as I recalled the companions I inserted into similar bags. I understood then that PTSD is not reserved to only those who fought in battles.

Piercing the ghostly stillness, the psychologist asked if I wished to say something. Saying no would have been sufficient, but why not now, I thought.

I began by recounting what I considered our accomplishments; protecting defenseless people from rape, torture or savage death. The real shit never played on the nightly news.

Suddenly, I sharply stated, “And we did not give a shit about politicians or college students protesting back home. We lost the war because we didn’t have the chance to win it. We left families to die!”

“Damn, let it all out, brother,” one veteran said with sincere compassion.

After a moment, I continued. “Like when on a night patrol we heard gunshots from a small village we often visited. Over time, we got to know the villagers, who simply wanted to farm in peace.

We headed toward the village, but arrived too late. Villagers laid dead; men bound with throats cut, mothers raped, children screaming, traumatized. I would never be late again.

With the survivors guarded, we tracked down the Vietcong, resting and giggling as if mutilation was common. In a brief firefight, we killed them all. I had no remorse. At eighteen years old, I knew why I was in Vietnam, to protect and kill.”

A young vet from the Gulf Wars interjected; “Hey


Marine, I don’t want you to quit telling us about the evil shit, it’s needed, but how did that crap screw up your life?”

The question wasn’t easy. I gained a degree of success many of these brothers hadn’t. So, not to seem like a pompous ass, I told them the shortened version.

“After four years I left the Marines. Young and confident, I thought depression and anxiety were part of manhood, and nightmares temporary. I was determined to look forward, and not back to the war.

Like most of you, I had many jobs but felt out of place. Compared to combat, jobs were child’s play. I was prepared to return to the military, but started repossessing cars for a bank.”

“Yeah, mine!.” an Army lifer chimed in.

I smiled and proceeded. “Then worked my way up to Branch Manager. After a few years I got bored, and quit for an entry-level job in IBM. I progressed quickly and spent twenty-nine years in executive positions. By many standards, I did damn good.”

I did not need to talk more about my achievements, but felt compelled to share that I had far from a wonderful life.

“Still, my world was filled with anger, mood swings and depression. In my mid-50s, I lost control during the Gulf Wars. To me the carnage shown on television wasn’t in Iraq, it was Vietnam. Wretched memories consumed me. I succumbed to PTSD, and could no longer handle it alone. I was forced to retire ten years earlier than I planned.”

“Amen Brother! It screwed me up too.” Someone remarked. Others nodded in agreement. My story had reopened common wounds. The vet’s melancholy mood shift was amplified


by their silence.

I finished by adding; “Over four decades of denial, and treatment by VA psychiatrists, I’m sitting here with you guys sharing segments of my soul.”

Well beyond our two-hour time schedule, the session ended. A few of us hugged and reinforced our support for each other, then departed.

I had taken a modest step toward recovery, but knew my demons wouldn’t hesitate to ambush me. However, for a few hours each week, I spoke with people who understood and didn’t judge me.

I was not alone.

AW Schade

[AW Schade: Marine, Vietnam 1966/67, retired corporate executive and author of the award-winning book, Looking for God: within the Kingdom of Religious Confusion. Also: 'The demons of war are persistent;' a suspense story, ‘If I fail; what doom awaits the children;’ a satire, 'The greatest father;' and “Note Alone.” [email protected] www.awschade.com]

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A great, slightly unusual, fantasy novel. A story of imagination, inspiration, friendship, love, compassion, and children's self-esteem. Rejected by her peers because of her handicap, with determination she never gave up to be accepted. A thrilling 6-book bundle, that also WON 13 AWARDS. Each book only 73 cents https://www.amazon.com/Gigi-Sedlmayer/e/B003U8G4WC/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0...

History repeats itself and Plato about Arts

History repeats itself. And people forget about history. There is no easy fix   It is easy to think that wars are in the past, that society has changed and it will never happen again. As memory fades, Gaia’s events from the past can become events of the present. The more things change, the more they stay the same. What we are seeing is that ‘digital’ acts as a magnifier, and accelerator. The problem is still the same. The isolation of East and West, North and South. Wealth inequality is a social and civic conversations that is not new but that has been catalysed through digital media.

manuscript from the 3rd century AD, containing fragments of Plato's Republic.

Manuscript from the 300 AC, containing fragments of Plato's Republic.

Plato in the Republic rejects any form of illusionism in art. He calls it mimesis or ‘imitation’. This has also created a question what is the Greek word “mimesis”? And why does this matter?

What we have not full knowledge of, we cannot reproduce. Presumably this is the reason why all the monotheistic religions (Protestant Christianity, Islam, Judaism) had an explicit problem with art and artists trying to imitate the knowledge of , its image, his son, soul, Universe, etc. The imitation occurs in many instances, when an artist uses a portrait of a dead person to recreate his-own interpretation of the person. But Plato goes beyond it.
https://artof4elements.com/entry/288/history-repeats-itself.
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On a cold grey March morning, I was with my son, in the play park where he regularly plays, when all of a sudden some council workers began cordoning off the play park. He was not able to go to school, due to a sudden outbreak of covid 19 cases in the local area. The closing off of the play area really brought home the fact that something significant was beginning to impact our lives and the normal life we were used to was about to change dramatically. Consequently, I began to put words to my feelings at the time and all of a sudden the idea of putting a book together, came to me. I began rifling through my contacts and friends who were writers. Later I began to search further afield, sending e mails to people explaining my project.

I knew I wanted to put a book together for those who would be caring for people, doing valuable work, such as nurses and by way of my sister I, decided Marie Curie Nurses were a good cause, who should benefit from this fund-raising project. I am grateful to all those who responded to my call for poems, short stories and illustrations, as well as people who have helped to publicize this project. I am incredibly fortunate some fantastic writers and poets, who at the onset I could never imagine would 10 11 submit poems, kindly sent me some pertinent works. I like the range of writers and poets who have contributed to this book, from a ninety-one year old writer, poet Lynne Reid Banks, who is obviously still passionate about writing to young children. 
Visit https://www.goldcrestbooks.com/together-behind-four-walls/
Please support us on Facebook
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The book will be available to buy the 3rd September
...

I’ve been reading romantic stories since childhood: Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, etc. I started on the ubiquitous Harlequin romances in the 1970s. By the time I was fourteen, I’d figured out the formula for a successful romance novel: boy meets girl; boy and girl hate each other; boy manhandles girl; girl falls in love with boy; boy and girl get married and live happily ever after.

I wasn’t sure that was an improvement upon the damsel-in-distress scenario featured in fairytales and mythology.

In the 1980s, heroines in romance novels began to grow up. They no longer aspired to grand career goals of serving as underpaid nannies to wealthy widowers. They acquired post-secondary educations and found professional employment. I’ve seen few romances about women in the skilled trades, but doctors, lawyers, and business owners seemed an improvement over uneducated 18-year-old girls who needed a rich man either to restore them to a lifestyle they once enjoyed before their daddies went bankrupt or to lift them from the lives of poverty into which they’d been born. These heroines might not have been obscenely affluent, but they held their own in a man’s world. These heroines served as role models of women who got it all: a great career, husbands devoted to them, and, presumably, two-point-five children and a dog.

Heroes began to evolve, too. Not much, because women continue to enjoy the fantasy of an alpha male who’s successful, confident, and skilled in the bedroom. But those heroes began to see women as competent, intelligent adults, not just soft, warm receptacles for their lust to be used once and discarded like toilet paper.

Over the last ten to fifteen years, romance has been backsliding. Sure, the Cinderella story remains popular. It always will. My own books take full advantage of that. But somewhere along the line, up and coming authors began to subscribe to old archetypes and to create new ones that really don’t flatter their own gender:

       The ingénue. This is the innocent, young virgin, usually poverty-stricken, who hasn’t gone beyond high school and is sweet enough to rot every tooth in a reader’s head.

       The party girl. This is the shallow, promiscuous young woman who thinks one night stands carry no consequences, is often too fascinated by pricey, name-brand shoes or coffee, and lives with roommates who are also giddy, squealing, fashion-obsessed dimwits.

       Cinderella. This standard character harkens back to the original. She’s hardworking, employed in a menial job for which she is ostensibly overqualified, and either in college or recently graduated with a degree.

There are, of course, variations on the romance heroine tropes, but professional, competent, and intelligent heroines have become scarce. I find that worrisome enough.

Adding to the disappointment are today’s popular heroes. They’re tall, handsome, wealthy, and confident. They go beyond confidence into arrogance. These guys don’t walk into a room, they swagger. They’re unrepentant womanizers and most enjoy having a different woman in their beds every night. The willingness of women to join the vast, lust-riddled hordes that parade through their bedrooms invites contempt toward the entire gender. These heroes fall into standard slots: CEO, biker, fighter, elite military warrior (pick your preferred military branch), cowboy/rancher.

So, there they go, working hard and enjoying the vast variety of female flesh happily presenting itself for their entertainment when--boom!--our heroine appears. She either needs rescuing from danger or poverty, or she’s his administrative assistant (secretary), or he kidnaps her because he wants her and he always takes what he wants.

What a jerk.

Of course, our heroine is so overcome by her raging hormones that she succumbs to his blandishments, thrills in the liberties he takes, and loves that he doesn’t take “No” for an answer.

In the real world, we call this sexual assault and rape.

But wait, there’s more! Let’s go further into the sub-genre of “dark” romance with its descent into the world of BDSM. Yes, we all know who’s dominant and who’s submissive, don’t we? We know who’s obeying whose orders and who gets punished for disobedience, don’t we? And, oh, it’s so sexy that he gets to tie up our heroine and strike or whip her, leaving welts and bruises on her skin.

In the real world, we call that abuse.

Now let’s compound this with recognition of the people--mainly women--who write this stuff. The days of Nora Roberts, Danielle Steele, and Jayne Ann Krentz are far from over--they’re still pumping out novels. But a new generation of authors cranks out an overwhelming number of romance novels that negate the progress women have made over the last fifty years. These writers are women in their twenties and early thirties who don’t remember being denied an opportunity because she was cursed with that second X chromosome. These are women who don’t recognize the term “Women’s Lib.” These are women who romanticize and glorify Stockholm Syndrome in their abduction fantasies and send their heroines back a couple hundred of years when women were chattel. Yet these heroines are content to be treated like chattel, as long as their heroes settle them into lives of luxury and pamper them like prize poodles.

These authors offer their young, impressionable audience heroines that exhibit traits we’d hate to see in our own daughters: unjustified obstinacy, terminal stupidity, promiscuity, shallowness, and an abject acceptance of poor treatment from their heroes because a heady orgasm makes everything okay.

I write romance. I’ve even written heroes who aren’t nice guys. I wrote an abduction romance. But my heroine was clever enough to escape his clutches and evade recapture for years while my hero suffered greatly for his hubris. (Credit that to an early influence of Greek mythology.)  My heroines may be underemployed and occasionally pigheaded, but they aren’t too stupid to live. These characters have human flaws and a level of self-respect lacking in too many of today’s heroines. They’re people you wouldn’t be ashamed to introduce to your family.

So, if you’re a woman of Generations Y or Z, what message do you want to send to yourself and to the young women born in the following generation? One that shows women as helpless, stupid, and enslaved by their hormones? Or one that shows independence, self-respect, and a happily ever after because she wants to be with the hero, not because she depends upon him for her existence?

Romance is the only genre that’s mainly written by women for women and which validates women’s happiness and fulfillment. It should inspire us to become better, not reduce us to weak-minded chattel.

...

Introduction 

It is almost impossible to make somebody believe in something they cannot perceive. For this reason, we cannot blame anybody for not believing in spirit or an invisible God. This brings us to an extremely important question. What is the reason for so many people rejecting the Bible? Is the Bible no more relevant, or is it simply the way that dogmatic religion transformed a book of spiritual science, into a history and storybook? Do science and religion meet, and if they do, where is the missing link? In this book, we will learn that there is a link that clearly connects science and religion and that there is much more to the Bible’s mysteries than people ever imagined. 

If I had to tell you, that Adam never was the first human on earth, would you believe me? Not only was he not the first human on earth, but he never was a physical human being. You might also find it hard to believe, that Jesus never was a physical human being either. We will also learn, that God does not live in space and that no god will physically come on the clouds to destroy the earth. After reading this book, we will have a clear understanding of what Jesus is, and we will see, that there were two Adams. The first Adam was earthy, and the second Adam was from heaven. As a matter of fact, the second Adam was a spiritually enlightened being, and the Lord from heaven. We will also learn, that there never was a Jesus that was physically crucified. The recording of our creation in Genesis was not a recording of our physical universe, and that evolution and the creation in Genesis perfectly connect. If we do not understand the physical creation the way scientists and Darwin explained it by evolution; the creation in the Bible will not make any sense at all. If you do not believe in evolution, and you believe that the creation in Genesis was a recording of our physical creation; ask yourself this question: What is the reason for believing in what you believe in? Is it simply because you want to believe what the masses believe in? Do the Bible and all its teachings, honestly make sense to you? According to you; does the Bible contradict itself, or does it not? We have to remember, that God is Light; and if we do not understand something, we are in darkness. In this book, we will compare contradiction texts. And we will see, that everything makes perfect sense; from Genesis to Revelation; when we understand the codes, in which the Bible was written.

...

Surgery did one thing for sure: It took me down. I was forced to rest, which was a good thing. Good, but not always easy for a type A personality like me. I work hard, and I play hard. I’ve now learned to rest as well. In athletics, there is an intensity-to-recovery ratio. The more intense your workout, the more recovery is required. Think of surgery as an extreme workout for your body, mind, and emotions.

If I’m honest with myself, life before my hysterectomy was lived at 180 miles per hour. I have since learned that a balanced life requires-even demands-rest and recovery on a daily basis. I cannot wait for an annual vacation to take a break. I require timeouts on a quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily basis. This is where I take time to tune out the world and relax, play, and release the stress of everyday life. It is a time to rest, recover, reflect, and bring my life back into balance. I had to learn to make this a regular aspect of my healthy lifestyle, not a quick fix. When my body is tired and my spirit weary, the best thing I can do is rest.

Signs that would indicate you may not be recovering from surgery or that surgical menopause is taking a toll on you include:

  • Difficulty waking up in the morning.
  • Requiring more stimulants (caffeine, sugar) to keep going.
  • Utilizing alcohol, sleeping pills, or other substances to wind down or fall asleep.
  • Exhibiting a shorter fuse than normal, especially with loved ones.
  • Lack of focus, creativity, or productivity.

To become more aware of what areas of life might need some extra attention, you can ask yourself the following questions.

  • “Am I fueling my body with the proper nutrients?”
  • “Am I sleeping enough? Do I require a nap?”
  • “When was the last time I had a date night? Family day? Time with a friend?”
  • “When was the last time I got lost in a good book or a movie?”
  • “Can I give myself a creative outlet through writing, music, dance or art?”
  • “Do I need to unplug from the computer, phone, or social media?”
  • “Have I taken a day, weekend, or week off lately?”
  • “Are my vacations becoming staycations, where I work so hard around the house that I have to go back to work to rest?”
  • “Have I rejuvenated at the beach, by the lake or an ocean, in the mountains, or elsewhere in nature?”
  • “When was the last time I laughed?”
  • “Is my schedule too full? Where can I build in rest and recovery?”

If you find yourself less focused, creative, friendly, or productive, as I did, it may benefit you to slow down or take a break. As our intensity-to-recovery ratio improves, we are better able to come back stronger, more creative, productive, and refreshed, and with renewed energy and excitement. We have more passion for our career, relationships, and life in general. We’ll find we are balanced through the transition of menopause.

...

It may seem odd to talk about menopause bringing gifts. But as someone who’s been there, I can look back and realize it does.

In 2015, an unexpected surgery sent me into sudden surgical menopause. Symptoms hit all at once and I wanted solutions all at once. The reality was, it simply took time. Regardless of whether you enter it naturally or surgically, menopause can be considered a gift of self reflection, discovery, care, love, acceptance, empowerment, and enhancement.

Self reflection

The Chinese refer to menopause as the second spring. They consider it a time to reflect on life and turn our focus inward to nurture ourselves. This rings true for me. Yes, I live a beautiful life. However, in the past, there was always this angst, this unrest, this questioning, this . . . searching. Menopause brought it up for examination. I began to reflect on my past with a strong desire to heal areas of stress and trauma and confusion. I also began to look to my future and ponder who I wanted to be.

Self discovery

Menopause can be a time to uncover and embrace your passions. So often, we stop dreaming. We forget our first loves. It could be due to time or money. It could be because life became all about the struggle. The self discovery of menopause is where you ask questions and give yourself permission to dream. You may not know what your passion is right now. Live in your curiosity and get quiet. Your mind, body, spirit, and emotion are connected. We can’t hear the still small voice pointing us in the right direction if we’re busy, tense, or stressed.

Spend time daily in prayer, meditation, and/or journalling. Explore your past and remember points in your life when you were most happy. What were you doing? Were you riding your bike? Gardening? Singing? Teaching? Working with your hands? Are you still doing it? If not, consider finding ways to bring it back into your life.

Self care

Self care is a daily practices that evolves. The central aspect is presence. When I am present, I can check in and consider what area needs attention. Sometimes, I need to focus on nutrition or exercise. Other times it is a relationship which requires extra nurturing. Often, the two biggest areas that get neglected are rest and play. When the surgical side of menopause took me down, I was forced to take a look at my life and make these two areas a priority. I had to learn to say no to things that were non-essential, and give myself the rest that I required. And, I had to remember how to play.

Self love

Self love was a powerful component of my healing. Most religions and spiritual traditions teach a version of the principles “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” It’s the premise of showing the same kindness to others that we want to be shown to us. The problem is, we don’t love ourselves enough, which adds to our stress levels and intensifies our symptoms.

During menopause, we hate our symptoms and our bodies. But the last thing any of us needs is hate, especially when it comes to ourselves. Think of a child who falls and skins her knee. Her caregiver jumps in with gentle kindness and kisses the boo-boo to make it better. What if our symptoms are our bodies’ ways of saying, “Hey? Love me. Hug me. Nurture me. Think good things about me. Get more rest. Stop feeding me that.” Are we listening?

I love my body and all it’s been through, even when it doesn’t look or feel its best. There are some aspects of my body, emotions, and life that I don’t always like. I love myself anyway. I love my future self, the person I am becoming, and the woman right now who is lovable just because she exists. She is more than enough.

Self acceptance

Self acceptance is an individual’s satisfaction or happiness with oneself, and is a necessary component of strong mental health. Menopause gave me permission to stop trying so hard to keep up with someone I’m not, and step into the woman I’m meant to be. There are parts of my life and my past that I may not like or in hindsight, things I wish I had done differently. I choose to accept myself, knowing I did my best for where I was at the time and the tools I had at my disposal. At the same time, I accept that I can move forward, discovering better tools of self-care, self-love, and self-empowerment..

Self empowerment

When we are self empowered we take control of our own life. In the months surrounding my surgery and through my recovery, I continued to educate and empower myself to hire and fire doctors, always requiring that they treat me with respect and as a valuable part of my wellness team.

Becoming self empowered also means taking responsibility for our peace, joy, and bliss. And joy comes from within. Why do I speak about joy? Because during my journey, there was darkness, sadness, and depression. As little girls, we read fairy tales about the prince riding in on a white horse to save us and living happily ever after. But the best satisfaction comes from you rescuing yourself. There is no need to give this power away. You are in charge of your joy. Don’t give the responsibility to your child, parent, spouse, doctor, coworkers, boss, or anyone else. As you empower yourself, you’ll come to appreciate the strength and confidence that comes from this time in your life.

Self enhanced

After surgery it took time for my body to heal physically. It took even longer for my mind and emotional health to stabilise. There were times when I felt broken. I had to constantly remind myself that I was in a state of healing and change. Even though I felt broken, I told myself that I was whole, strong, and valuable.

Menopause can be both frustrating and exhausting as it intensifies things that are out of balance. It can also enhance who we are as we open our hearts and minds to the gifts of personal discovery and creative expression, sending us deeper into our passions and purpose.

...

I believe perspective plays a huge role in how we enter menopause, regardless of whether it is natural or surgically induced, as well as in how quickly we heal.

Think back to when you first got your period. What was your perspective? Did you view it as an honor as you stepped into womanhood, like my friend Susan? Or were you more like my friend Stephanie, who viewed it as terribly embarrassing—always having accidents and not being able to go in the water at the beach for fear of bleeding through? For me, I understood that getting my period made me a woman and enabled me to have children. With my young naïve mind, I thought that the day I got my period I would become pregnant. Silly? Or the power of a child’s brain who takes things literally?

What is your perspective on menopause? Is it a time of distress and discomfort? A signal of aging? Do you fear the best years are behind you? Are you focused completely on your symptoms? Or do you see this transition as a rite of passage and a time to discover or rediscover your power, purpose, passion, and authenticity?

I love that the Chinese refer to menopause as the second spring. They consider it a time to reflect on life and turn our focus inward to nurture ourselves. That rings true for me, as this season of my life already has had an ongoing theme of self-love, self-care, and self-reflection.

Just like surgery may have benefits of alleviating pain or risk of disease, menopause can be a wonderful transition with positive side effects such as:

  • No more periods, cramping, tampons, or pads.
  • We can finally wear white pants again, any time of the month.
  • We can enjoy sex without risk of pregnancy.
  • We may have greater confidence and self-assuredness.
  • We don’t have to schedule our sex lives, athletics, or vacations around our periods.

After my surgery, it took time for my body to heal physically. It took even longer for my mind and emotional health to stabilize.

There were times when I felt broken. I had to constantly remind myself that I was in a state of healing and change. Even though I felt broken, I told myself that I was whole, strong, and valuable.

Surgery and surgical menopause can be both frustrating and exhausting. The last thing we need to do is to beat ourselves up. And isn’t that one of our greatest strengths as women? We think we should heal faster, we shouldn’t cry for no reason, and we should be able to do it all… even right after a surgery. The only thing we need to do is cut ourselves some slack and remind ourselves that this too shall pass.

That’s a perspective I can embrace.

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"5.0 out of 5 stars
Uplifting and inspirational
The authors positive outlook and winning sense of humor make this story about his journey extremely inspirational. I would recommend this book to absolutely anyone!"
Happiness is...waking up to a new review like this!
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08QRB3H3G
Kindle version=.99
Free to Kindle Unlimited members
#MultipleMyeloma #cancer #Inspiration
...
A body is found hanging from a noose made from a bell rope! Is this just the start of things to come?
The deceptively quiet remote village is shattered after a brazen obnoxious outsider purchases The Old Vicarage - strange disappearances occur. It wasn’t until the gruesome village history was revealed - that the baffled police could solve the chilling mysteries connected to the bell tower.

The fictitious villager's characters play a colourful and humorous part in this book - bringing the small village to life - it's a gripping murder mystery, injecting the gruesome, spine-chilling history of this remote village into its final sinister twists and turns....

Have you ever been shocked by the content of a book, movie, or television show?


Especially as parents, many of us have expressed concern about what our children and grandchildren are exposed to at what ages. With respect to literature, one way that publishers and book reviewers describe a story is by labelling it as Young Adult (adolescent), New Adult (college-aged), or Adult based on the ages of the primary characters. This article is a critique of the strict application of that practice, and touches upon issues related to maturity rating based upon violent and sexual content.


Many readers remember the infamous line screamed by a thirteen year old in The Exorcist: “…Your mother sucks cocks in Hell….” – a line that’s hard to forget. The movie was rated age 16+ but tons of younger kids read the book and watched the movie. The adolescent insult in ET: “penis breath” is also unforgettable. Elliot was ten years old when he insulted his brother by revealing his awareness of oral sex, about which his mother didn’t blink an eye. This story was vigorously consumed by appreciative YA and younger audiences. I remember being personally shocked when I watched a cartoon X-Ray of a gerbil climbing within a gay teacher’s rectum on South Park as he had orgasms on TV. This show is highly popular among kids, as were some of the sexual puns and potty humor on the Beavis and Butthead show. Age of the primary characters may not always be descriptive of maturing rating, whether the content will take us too far outside of our comfort zones, or whether it is appropriate for children.


Another strategy for defining maturity ratings that has been applied relates to violent content. I’m not sure how it happened, but, ironically, some of the most violent content in the marketplace now appears to be within YA novels and video games for kids. One of the bloodiest scenes that I’ve ever read was in a book that I was assigned to review through a Goodreads program. It was a labeled to be YA vampire story but was filled with violence, teenage angst that bordered on soft pornography, and included substance abuse. I won’t mention its title because my review was a low rating, but that book caused me to drop out of the Goodreads program and vow to avoid reading YA novels without fully checking them out first. At age sixty-five, I guess that I’m just not mature enough to handle the violence in some young adult literature.


Now let’s get to the nasty – sexual content about which I feel comfortably numb. Much more so than violent content, parental guidance ratings appear to be related to sex. Of course, any person of any age who has access to the internet could watch hardcore porn given an interest. Still, laws that restrict access are a positive symbolism.


If one takes sexual content down a notch from eroticism, romance literature appears to be highly popular, including with teens. Personally, I love a good Nora Roberts story but I usually skip past the kissy/kissy scenes. This type of entertainment appears to especially target young adult and new adult audiences when genre is based on the ages of the primary characters, i.e., NA for college-aged kids.


I suppose that there could be negative impacts of exposing children to romance novels, but nobody seems concerned enough to study such a proposition, especially since most people experience their first romantic crush at age five or six. Most people report falling in love for the first time at age fifteen or sixteen.


At the same time, many people draw a very heavy line between romantic love and sexual content of entertainment. Sexual content nevertheless persists, has invaded venues in some of the least likely places. For example, there may be more comedic sexual innuendos in a half-hour of the Family Feud  TV show than within the entirety of most novels considered to have been written for an adult audience because of sexual content. Sitcoms like 2 Broke Girls and The Big Bang Theory, and crime dramas like Bones, are full of sexual content.


With respect to genre confusion, it appears to me that a maturity rating could be applied by producers, editors and reviewers by weighing content and target audiences outside of simply the age of the characters or the violent and sexual content of the works. Some people will never be mature enough to “get” the satire of some stories, and some children are much more astute about their worlds than many parents want to believe. Personally, I’m going to try and ignore age-related genre classification as I decide what entertainments to consume during the short period of time that humans are allotted. From now on, I vow to read reviews in their entirety. I would hate to miss something great because of a label.

...

THE HOUSE THAT LOVE BUILT –

       A VALENTINE’S DAY STORY by Paul Lonardo

 
They say that it was love that launched a thousand ships and began the Trojan War, and that love was the reason the Taj Mahal was built, so the construction of an early 19th century mansion made of fieldstone located in pastoral Lincoln, Rhode Island may not seem all that impressive. Right?
Wrong.
The love story behind Hearthside House, like other legendary stories of love, feature romanticized elements that no one really questions. Such stories are simply accepted as fact. People seem to enjoy a good love story, especially around Valentine’s Day, a “holiday” whose own history is bound in myth.
While St. Valentine himself has become canonized as the official patron saint of lovers, this third century ladies’ man was actually a Roman priest who performed Christian weddings for soldiers during the reign of Emperor Claudius II, a Roman ruler who persecuted the church and issued an edict prohibiting the marriage of young people. His decree was based on the belief that unmarried soldiers fought better because they did not have families to worry about.
Though forbidden to conduct marriage ceremonies, St. Valentine did so anyway and he was eventually imprisoned for his actions. According to the legend, during his imprisonment, he healed the blind daughter of his jailer. An embellishment to this story states that before his execution he wrote her a letter and signed it, “Your Valentine.” However, no one can be certain of these accounts or deem them historically accurate, but it no longer seems to matter as chocolates, flowers, and especially Valentine’s cards, continue to be exchanged in many countries around the world on February 14th each year.
The apocryphal story about how Hearthside House came to be has all the elements of any other fable of love and lore. In other words, not everything about this love story can be substantiated.
The popular folktale surrounding Hearthside begins with its construction in the early 1800’s, when Stephen Hopkins Smith, a Rhode Islander in his 20’s, was courting a young woman of means from Providence. Smith did not see their difference in social status as an obstacle. He was a member of a noted local family that made its living in the agricultural industry, and although he was a Quaker, living a simple lifestyle, he often traveled in affluent circles, which was how he met the woman that he set his heart on marrying. The fact is that no one even knows the woman’s name or much about her.
It is believed, however, that she was more than a little cautious about any future with Smith and told him this directly. Accordingly, she revealed that she enjoyed spending time with him, but in a suitor she was looking for someone of substantial wealth who could provide her with the lifestyle she was used to.
The Smith family lived a comfortable life, but they were far from wealthy. Then one day, as if in answer to his prayers, Smith won a private lottery, something that had become quite popular in this era. Smith netted an estimated jackpot of $40,000, the equivalent of about $9 million in today’s money.
Keeping his winnings a secret from his love, Smith schemed to build a breathtaking home to sweep “Miss Prominent” off her feet. What is not in dispute is that construction on Hearthside got underway in 1810 and was completed in 1814. The 2½ story stately mansion was considered to be one of the finest examples of early 19th century federal-style architecture in the state, unique with its curved roofline and totally stone construction, which was rare in dwellings at this time. The design included a gable roof with impressive ogee curves above circular attic windows, four front entrance wooden pillars supporting a top floor balcony, and each of the ten rooms in the mansion boasting its own fireplace,  hence the name by which it would come to be known; Hearthside House. Though some fittingly would refer to it as The House the Love Built.
The magnificent home was located in an area of farm land in Lincoln on pastoral Great Road, the first traversable tract through the wilderness between Providence and Mendon, Massachusetts, and one of the oldest thoroughfares in America.
Smith continued his courtship of the woman through the four years of construction, never letting on the mansion he was building so that it would be a surprise sufficient to capture her heart. When the home was finally complete, he took a horse and buggy out to Providence and asked his sweetheart to come along with him for a ride. He was excited as they approached the bend of Great Road, and upon seeing the mansion come into view, the woman he hoped to marry clapped her hands together and exclaimed, “What a beautiful house! But who would ever want to live way out in the wilderness.”
Smith was heartbroken. It is believed that he drove her back to Providence that day and never called on her again. At least, that is the story that has been told through the years. Intermediate facts have been difficult to come by.
With no bride to occupy the country manor, Stephen Smith invited his brother George to move in with him. Stephen resided on the west side of the house while George and his family lived on the east side. Soon tiring of the commotion of family life, Stephen Smith moved into another house that he owned down the road. Having failed at romance, he put all his effort and energy into his work and career. He built a mill made of stone, similar in appearance and directly across from Hearthside. The manufacturing business he started there, however, was not successful and in 1826 he served as a commissioner of the Blackstone Canal, an important waterway that provided easy transportation of goods between Narragansett Bay in Providence and Massachusetts.
Smith became an ardent botanist, importing exotic trees and shrubs from China, which he planted all around on land called “Quinsnicket,” an Indian name meaning “large stone houses.” Today, the area is part of the 458-acre parcel of land that makes up Lincoln Woods. One plant that he was especially proud of, English ivy, grew up the east end of Hearthside for many decades. Two very rare tulip trees still adorn the front walkway to the mansion.
Smith was also connected to Stephen Hopkins, Governor of Rhode Island and signer of the Declaration of Independence. In 1755, Smith’s grandmother, Anne Smith, married Governor Stephen Hopkins, making the Governor his step-grandfather.
Stephen Smith died in 1857, a relatively old man for that time, having never married. He was buried in a cemetery a mile from the home he built for a love that never was, though the story continues to live on in local lore.
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