by Nancy Clark
The elementary school Valentine’s Day party has historically been the venue for prepubescents to exchange sappy sentiments like “You’re Sweet,” “Be Mine,” and “I LOVE You.” Although the observance is guaranteed to induce giggles and a bit of blushing, the practice rested under the umbrella of friendship and youthful innocence, and accepted as a fun, but genteel way of expressing non-threatening terms of endearment.
I wish someone “back in the day” had made that clear to Antonio Romeo.
Plato, himself, must have had an Antonio in his life when, perhaps in despair, he declared, “Of all the animals, the boy is the most unmanageable.” This assessment, when applied to Antonio Romeo, was grossly understated.
As I recall, Tony (only his mother called him Antonio) was in seventh grade and I was in fourth in our one room/eight grades school – circa 1950. He was a loud, brash, fearless boy who crowned himself King of Torment-Nation, setting the bar for hijinks and antics. He had no competition for the title as even “the big kids” cut him a wide swath.
Tony was an adolescent in every sense of the word. He “put a tack on teacher’s chair,” he “tied a knot in Susie’s hair;” he pilfered coins from the Congo Relief jar, and anonymously scribbled obscenities on the out-house walls with chalk he stole from the blackboard tray. Everyone knew that “Tony did it,” but no one dared to snitch.
Boys idolized Tony. The kid could catch a house fly in mid-air and hold his finger in a candle’s flame without wincing. He pinched the girls and made them cry and ran the ball field bases like a speed demon.
To the girls, he was an ill-tempered bully who taunted and teased without mercy. He pulled our hair braids, tugged at our dress ties, and inserted our names in baldy limericks.
I trembled in Tony’s presence, which was probably why he targeted me for some of his nastiest pranks. Among other things, he’d throw my notebooks into the air, sneak up behind me and scream like a banshee, and fire crabapples from the end of a tree limb to hit my bare legs … away from watchful eyes and off the school grounds. Rarely caught; rarely punished.
Tony adopted another persona for the St. Valentine’s Day party, however. On that day he exposed a softer, gentler, totally unfamiliar side, eager to share sugary sentiments antithetic on any of the other 364 days of the year. His cards were the Five and Dime store’s most elegant –flocked and flowery, with verse declaring affection that bordered on undying devotion.
He made a production of depositing his cards into the Valentine’s collection box, enunciating the name on an envelope and shooting the intended recipient “the Tony look” –a lopsided smile and raised eyebrow to a girl, a guffaw-y smirk to a boy –before dropping the card into the red-hearts spattered box. The day Tony won the toss to distribute the cards from the stuffed box, he graced me with an angelic smile and fluttered his long eyelashes as he handed me his card. I took it as a sign that my days of torment were history.
On the inside of a truly regal card, in very unregal penmanship, Tony had scribbled, “To the ugliest girl in school. I hate you, dog face. Love, Tony Romeo.”
The incongruity of the message was lost on me … my hope to feel safe from Tony’s brand of cruelty dashed. He’d sullied all of his cards with similar sassy sordidness, inducing laughter from some (mostly boys), and deep cuts to others (mostly girls). His sainted mother spent days after the party apologizing to half of the town folk for her son’s mischievousness. “My Antonio really is a fine boy,” she’d said, “but you know …boys will be boys!”
As Tony snickered; Plato sighed.
Fast forward five decades to a class reunion. The handsome and oh-so polite Antonio Romeo who asked me to dance was definitely not the Tony Romeo who “back in the day” tossed my notebooks, broke my pencils and targeted my legs. Mom had always said, “With God’s help, Tony will grow up someday.”
And so he did!
Mom also said, “This, too, shall pass, and one day you’ll write about it.”
And so I have.
by Brian Mishler
As a kid of the 1970’s, my clients often hear stories that involve my dad.
My three brothers and I lived in a turn-of-the-century (20th century to you millennials) 3-story, 3-bedroom, 1 bath house with our parents. You read that right; six of us, one bathroom, one female; life was good; never a conflict.
Like many Western PA dads, my dad was a do-it-yourselfer. At first, because he was young and broke. Later because he was, like many depression-era babies, afraid of becoming broke again.
I can’t recall a time ever meeting a repairman at our home. Hence, frequently uttered was: “come with me, we gotta fix…” oh no! It’s Saturday! I don’t wanna… argue as I might, I was now the flashlight holder, wrench fetcher, thingy holder-upper, pipe fitter, or whatever dad needed for that project.
At first one wants to be the “big boy” and help dad with the “manly” tasks of the house, then comes the realization that you’re free labor, and hey there’s better stuff to be doing with your friends … aww dad!
Years later when I moved out into my own apartment, living paycheck to paycheck, my hand-me-down “stuff” in need of constant maintenance or repair, my education in all things broken, took new meaning and importance. I learned that dad has some strengths, but several important gaps in his knowledge. So, if a repairman was necessary, I’d watch him as I did dad, to learn the tricks of their trade. Appliance repair, electrical work, and plumbing, to name a few. Building further on my “home schooling” I began and bounced around work as a construction laborer in a variety of fields, never mastering any one. Potential poster child for Jack of All Trades, Master of None!
The one thing with me to this day, and probably to the very end, is a passion for learning how things work. Regardless of what the issue was, Dad figured out what went wrong, why, and how to fix it … with this petulant boy standing there watching.
Forty years later some of my best memories are the hours I “wasted” holding a flashlight. I wonder – espec-ially considering how many times I heard “you’re blocking my light”–how much help I was, and how much education was actually intentional. Hmmmm.
Over the course of a 20-year home inspection career, the lack of “home-schooling” among today’s younger home buyers has become increasingly noticeable. During the course of a home inspection basic home ownership skills are taught to an ever-increasing need: where the main water shut-off valve is, where and how circuit breakers work, even the little doo-hickey on the storm door closer, and the list goes on.
Take an hour, and reverse this trend with your children. Plan a fire drill; teach how to test the smoke alarms, and how to get out of the house from their bedrooms in a crawl. When you’re doing something around the house, have one “hold the flash-light.” Don’t know how to do a repair?Both of you can learn from watching the repairperson, and talk about it later. Granted, yours is a more daunt-ing challenge than my dad’s; he did not have to compete with the video games and social networks of today, although to his credit, he did manage to pull me away from Atari, and Charlie’s Angels with Farrah Fawcett!
Good, bad or otherwise, I owe a more than 20 year career to “come on, you’re helping me with …” an hour or two at a time.
by Gwen Wolfgang
I vividly remember 28 noses pressed against the windows of Poplar Street Elementary School, in Central City, PA, as my entire fourth grade class marveled at the appearance of the first snowflakes of the season. I am not sure of the reason for this fascination. Living in the mountains of Somerset County, we had all seen more than our share of one-of-a-kind snowflakes. They usually floated into town in late October or early November. Soon their snowflake buddies would crowd the skies, cover the ground, and we wouldn’t see a blade of grass until May. Winter seemed much longer in the fifties.
Everyone in Central City had a coal furnace that was banked at night. We had no heat upstairs except a few adventurous puffs of warm air that found their way up the narrow stairs and into our bedrooms. Most mornings, I could see my breath. The thought of crawling out from under the covers and putting my feet on those frosty hardwood floors still makes me shiver.
By the time I got downstairs, the furnace fire had been stoked and glorious hot air was spewing from the register in the kitchen. That was my favorite place to stand to get dressed. If I ever lost a button, it went straight into the blazing bowels of the furnace, never to be seen again. By the time I was dressed for school, my scrawny little legs were baked to a bright red.
First came the snow pants. My mother took hours starching and ironing my cotton dresses. I wore at least one crisp crinoline slip under my skirt. All of that voluminous material had to be stuffed into my wool snow pants so that I could pull the straps up and adjust them tightly at the shoulder. With my skinny legs and my pants full of cotton and crinoline, I looked a lot like Tweedle-Dum.
Next came the boots. Mine were brown rubber with obviously imitation fur around the top. They were worn over my school shoes and zipped up the front. By the end of winter, they would chafe a black ring around my lower calf. Nothing could be done to wash away the line so my legs always looked dirty.
After putting on my coat, mittens, and hat, my grandmother would pin a white wool scarf around the lower half of my face. As I began to walk to school, my warm breath would condense and the scarf would freeze to my lips. I had perpetual chapping on the lower half of my face for five months every year. It was a nice match to the scaly chafing around my ankles.
When I arrived at school, I hung my coat on a hook in the cloak closet at the back of the room. If I removed my snow pants, my dress and crinoline were a mass of wrinkles. If I left the woolen wonders in place, my legs would sweat all day until the flannel lining of my pants could be wrung out. Neither choice was a very good one.
Every girl wore same rubber and faux fur boots. Every boy wore “artics”, black rubber boots with buckles all the way up the front. How did Mrs. Bantley ever figure out which boots went on which feet? They don’t teach you things like that at State Teacher’s College!
Every day, we put on our coats, boots, hats, and mittens and went outside for recess. Don’t tell Grandma, but I never put my damp scarf around my face. We played in the snow piles until our mittens were soaked and covered with tiny ice balls. In my memory, I can still smell the essence of wet wool. Sometimes we played on the swings and our hands would freeze to the ice coated chains. The wind created by swinging made my chapped face sting and my sweaty snow pants even more uncomfortable. It never occurred to me to complain.
My trip home was about a mile, all uphill. (I will confess that the morning walk was all downhill.) Plows had cleared the roads and ashes were used to provide traction on the ice. With so many coal furnaces in town, ashes were an endless natural resource. Chains slapped on the ashy pavement as cars passed me on my homeward trek.
When I got home, my friend Donna and I got our sleds and headed out to play. We made snow men and snow angels and enjoyed every minute of the winter.
A wall of icicles formed on the lower side of our back porch. They extended from the roof to the ground, ten feet below. Often we would break off a chunk of and suck on it like a water flavored Popsicle. The treat would leave a residue in your mouth of little tiny asbestos beads from the shingles. You could either swallow them or take off your mittens and pick them out of your teeth. They were crunchy and had a metallic taste. No one told us they were dangerous.
Now I get in my car in a warm garage and turn on my electric seat heater. It is reminiscent of the hot register. I park near my destination and run for the door. In fact, now that I am retired, I don’t even go out if I don’t absolutely have to. I have much more natural insulation than I did then. You would think it would keep me warmer. But as I shiver today, I will just close my eyes and let my memories keep me warm.
By Cathi Gerhard
Author Ruth Ann Schabacker said, “Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons.” In this case, the package contains shapewear from Ruby Ribbon: items you can try out in the privacy of your own home or at a small party with friends – much like Pampered Chef, Silpada Jewelry or Tupperware.
Founded in 2011 by Latrobe native Anna Zornosa, Ruby Ribbon is a social commerce apparel brand that sells its products exclusively through a technology-supported network of independent stylists who work for them-selves. Ruby Ribbon designs and manufactures Shaping Essentials that includes essentials (t-shirts, leggings, skirts with shaping technology built inside the clothing), shapewear, and fashion layering.
“As a career woman and mom, I spent many years climbing the corporate ladder. And like many other women, I was always on the hunt for clothes that helped me to look and feel my most fabulous. This was no small feat for someone who has struggled with her weight throughout her life,” explained Zornosa.
“Several years ago, however, I discovered a secret weapon: shapewear. After many trips back and forth to my local department store, and lots of experimenting, I found a few foundational shapewear pieces that I couldn’t live without. I incorporated these pieces into my daily wardrobe, and was amazed by the boost of confidence they gave me.”
Anyone who has ever watched an episode of What Not to Wear on TLC knows that the best style comes from making the best of what you’ve got –not trying to hide it or change it. The first step in every TV makeover was usually finding the right foundation properly fitting bras or other undergarments. For most of us women, the process of bra-fitting is an endless public battle in stuffy dressing rooms, sometimes with overbearing sales associates wearing tape measures around their necks. There are so many sizing variables to consider, we end up taking something that is “good enough” just to get out of there!But when we are lucky enough to find the right one, our appearance is beautifully transformed.
One day Zornosa had the classic “ah-ha” moment: “I realized it would be fantastic if I could figure out a way to combine shapewear with everyday clothing! So I tracked down the best and brightest lingerie, fashion and activewear designers, marrying their skills and learning from each along the way, and helped to create a col-lection of exciting, new shaping ba-sics that can easily work with any woman’s existing wardrobe.”
The result was the development of products containing Intomi by Ruby Ribbon™ – a proprietary technology to enhance a woman’s figure. Most pieces come in six simple sizes, XS – XXL, and comfortably conform to fit each woman’s unique shape –even tall women like me. No more pulling and twisting. No more muffin top, saddle bag bulge, or pinched circulation. Simply step into each garment and pull up for instant support and smoothing in one fashionable step. After my own personal trunk show, I was a believer and a customer.
Inspired by her mother, who was an “Avon Lady,” Zornosa decided on the social or “ambassador” model for her company: “Ruby Ribbon was inspired by my simple desire to create a company built around the idea of em-powering women to look and feel their best, while going after their dreams.”
By incorporating trained Independent Stylists, women are introduced to the products on a personal level and can build dedicated relationships. Each stylist can then build their own customer base to become the CEO of her own company.
“We knew Ruby Ribbon would be all about girlfriend power: The team’s commitment to each other; women supporting other women’s businesses by having trunk shows; girlfriends signing up to work together,” Zornosa explained. “We heard that there is an Asian saying that two unrelated women with deep friendships need only bind their fingers together with a red string to become sisters. We loved that, and turned the red string into a Ruby Ribbon. When we saw the logo with two R’s back to back and saw that could represent two women, or a butterfly, or a bow…we knew we had it!”
A 1976 graduate of Greater Latrobe Senior High School and a veteran national business woman, Zornosa decided to bring this company home for its debut. The first Ruby Ribbon trunk show was held at a home in the East High Acres neighborhood of Latrobe, near Mountain View. A few years later, Ruby Ribbon is a private company with a multimillion dollar run rate and more than 200 active Stylists operating in 35 states.
With headquarters in New York City and Burlingame. CA, Ruby Ribbon has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Womens Wear Daily, and Self magazine among others.
“There’s nothing like Ruby Ribbon in the direct selling space,” according to Crain’s New York Business. Independent Stylists begin by purchasing a $199 starter kit, complete with product samples and business supplies like brochures, catalogs, and order forms. Trunk Shows are held in Hostesses homes, salons, and offices – and each Hostess earns rewards (in free and discount product) based on the sales of her particular Trunk Show. Independent Stylists can earn up to 40% commissions on her personal sales and up to 10% com-missions on her team’s sales. Other reward opportunities for Stylists include bi-annual retreats and other prizes.
To learn more about becoming a Ruby Ribbon stylist, or to purchase products in your area, visit http://www.Ruby Ribbon.com or call 650-458-RUBY.
by Granny Earth, ND
There are 2 species of Plantain: A narrow-leaf called ‘Ribwort Plantain’ and a broad-leaf called ‘Plantain Major’. Plantain is one of the most common ‘weeds’ in the whole, wide world!
The broad-leaf is the one preferred, for making healing remedies and poultices.
Plantain is a perennial ‘weed’ that grows up to 10 inches in height, having a rosette of broad, deeply veined leaves and dense clusters of tiny green flowers (the seeds) on its ‘spikes’. You’re sure to find this ‘weed’ all around your garden and through-out your lawn if you don’t do that totally unthinkable thing and use a ‘weed killer’!
Plantain has a history of being called ‘the healing plant’, because down through the ages, it was used to treat wounds of ALL kinds. After making its way to the ‘New World’, Native Americans called it ‘English-man’s foot’, because it seemed to spring up everywhere, in the foot-steps of those white settlers.
Some of the properties in Plantain are: iridoids, flavonoids, tannins and mucilage. Aucubin (one of the iridoids) will increase excretion of uric acids from the body via the kidneys. So, you might want to try this for arthritic conditions. Andapigenin (a flavonoid) is an excellent anti-inflammatory–also good for arthritis. You can also depend on Plantain to stop blood flow of all wounds and to repair the damaged tissue. It can be used in place of Comfrey for treating bruises and broken bones, too. For these, you would make a poultice with the leaves.
Taken internally (as a tincture) Plantain is diuretic, expectorant, de-congesting. Also used to treat gastritis, peptic ulcers, diarrhea, dysentery, irritable bowel syndrome (I.B.S.), respiratory and urinary tract infections. I still make my Healing Salve, using Plantain- ‘Golden Gincture’ (See end of article.) It’s been known to ‘heal’ many conditions, through out the years, from skin wounds and muscle pain, to hemorrhoids and so much more!
In my opinion, one can never have too much Plantain on hand. He’s easy to pick, abundant and dries well, too. But, the most fun thing I’ve found to do with this weed, is to put him in my ‘weed soup’. Never heard of weed soup? Well, you have now!
First I put a big pot of ‘pure’ water on to boil. While this is getting hot, I chop up some onions, celery, garlic, parsley (or cilantro), celery seed and Himalayan Crystal Salt (for added minerals and taste) and add it all to the water. I wait till the pot’s boiling and turn it down to a simmer. Then I go outside and scout the yard for nice small, young Plantain plants. I dig them up carefully with my dandelion digger and wash them off. The roots are especially important for this adventure. I ever so gently and with great reverence, add the little plants (whole, not chopped) to the pot of simmering soup and let it simmer another ½ hour, or so. Friends are always impressed when I serve them my ‘weed soup.’ A real treat and so easy to make!Plantain, in all his beauty, looks like an exotic Chinese herb. (Page 119–120: Do It Yourself Weed Medicine.)
by Mark Rullo MS, CSCS, MES
Here we go again: will it be a “New Year, New You” or not? Truth be told, this is the time of year that the majority of people make a commitment to themselves to lose weight, get more fit and just become healthier overall. Statistically, weight loss is the number one resolution, with 45% of Americans citing it as their goal. Unfortunately, only 8% of people who make the commitment to lose weight actually do.
Through the years, we have found two primary reasons why people either reach their goal or give up: Motivation and Direction.
Direction is making sure that your time, energy and even money are expended with a correct plan to achieve your goal. Motivation is the emotional reason to actually want to see that goal become a reality.
An individual can be extremely motivated to lose weight; however if they are provided with the wrong information, more times than not, they will stop in frustration because the results do not match their efforts (check out my previous LMP article –Nov 2013 “Why Gyms Make You Fat”). On the other side, if an individual has the most scientific, evidence-based game plan for weight loss (Hierarchy of Fat Loss) but does not have a burning desire to see the change become a reality, more times than not, that individual will not follow the necessary behaviors to see the desired expected results.
I often explain Motivation and Direction using the analogy of wanting to see the sun rise. If your goal is to see the sun rise, it wouldn’t matter how motivated you were if you were told to look west every morning (wrong direction). In a like manner, if you didn’t care to see the sun rise it wouldn’t matter if someone was telling you to get up early and look east. It’s good information but you just don’t have the motivation to see the sun rise.
As an Exercise Physiologist and weight loss expert, my goal is to keep individuals heading “East” relative to the weight loss goal; however to make sure individuals stay the course, we need some emotional “glue” to help with adherence to the program (directions). This emotional adherence is your Reason / Y-Factor.
When individuals are highly motivated, the commitment and discipline of following through an effective exercise and nutrition program is not an issue, and RESULTS are achieved. However, when motivation is missing, individuals many times leave success up for chance.
It takes some soul searching and digging but most people find that their motivation stems from an emotional response to the avoidance of pain, acquisition of pleasure or a combination of both. This is a term we refer to as the Y-FACTOR .
Your Y-FACTOR is not a specific goal (e.g., inches lost, %body fat, lean body mass, etc.) that can be measured, rather the reasons WHY you want this change. To best explain the concept of the Y-FACTOR, I have provided an example of a former client.
A young female in her mid-twenties came to see me about losing weight. The first thing I asked was why she wanted to lose some weight. Looking a little puzzled and wondering why I was asking her this, she said because of her wedding coming up in six months. Having some fun with her, I joked that I was curious what religion she was because I am catholic and, as far as I know, we don’t have to lose weight to get married. She laughed and said her religion doesn’t require that she lose weight to get married but she went on to explain WHY she wants to make a change.
To paraphrase her story, the young lady explained to me that since she was a little girl, she dreamed of her wedding day and wearing the wed-ding gown that has been passed to her from her mother. At the time, the gown didn’t fit the way she pictured it, and she knew that if she could lose some inches it would. Also, she said, sticking her arms out in front of me and mentioning how fair-skinned she is, if she didn’t make a positive change she had a fear of walking down the aisle on the most important day of her life looking like a giant snowball!
Immediately with enthusiasm I said “GREAT!,” not because she may look like a giant snowball on her wedding day, but because she now had the ammunition to motivate herself and achieve her goal. I continued to explain to her that she now had her Y-FACTOR to help her through the tough days when she didn’t feel like staying with the program. Her Y-FACTOR has both emotional responses, the fear of looking like a snowball on the most important day of her life, and the pleasure of fulfilling her childhood dreams of her wedding day.
The short-term goals, measurements, body fat %, etc were monitored every 1-2 weeks to assist with her accountability and make sure she was on track to reach her goal on her wedding day. However, it was the Y-FACTOR, the fear of looking like a snowball and the pleasure of a child-hood dream becoming a reality, which provided her the personal self-drive, motivation, and discipline to follow through with the daily exercise and nutrition prescription.
This “Fear of the Snowball” ex-ample illustrates the power of emotion and how we do things out of emotional want well before any actual logic or need. The woman above logically knew that she needed to lose weight regardless of any wedding. Even though she knew she needed to lose weight she simply didn’t want to lose weight badly enough to stick with any program. Once she was able to identify that emotional factor it was only a matter of getting her on the right plan of attack. Not every person I work with can identify their Y-Factor immediately, but those who do have always met and/or exceeded their targeted goals.
So how do you make sure you are part of the 8% who make a New Year’s resolution a reality when it comes to weight loss? First, identify why you want to lose the weight. Identify what fear, pain or pleasure the extra weight you are carrying is causing you. Once identified, get on a personalized plan that incorporates the “hierarchy of fat loss” to eliminate the guesswork and let the science work for you while leveraging your Y-factor for the days when you want to be the poster child for anti-exercise and poor nutrition.
Without an emotional reason, more times than not, the excuse (no-time, lack of energy, work, family, sickness, money, etc.) will win. How-ever a goal tied to an emotional reason and an effective plan of action will put you on the winning side of this year’s weight loss resolution.
For more information, please feel free to consult with any of the fitness professionals at My Fitness Kitchen®. Additionally as an on-going thank you to Laurel Mountain Post and its readers, mention this article for a FREE, no obligation, personalized, metabolic nutritional formula and fitness program that will leverage the “hierarchy of fat loss.” If you are serious about achieving a body transformation goal then you need a program, as any goal without a plan is really only a wish!
As an added incentive for people new to My Fitness Kitchen®, by mentioning this Laurel Mountain Post article and after meeting with one of My Fitness Kitchen’s Fitness Professionals for a private consult, as offered above – you will receive $50 “Kitchen Cash” to be used toward any program or service at My Fitness Kitchen® as a courtesy of the Laurel Mountain Post.