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Friday, March 4, 2022

I Know You Are, But What Am I?

 

The greatest wisdom consists in knowing one’s own follies. – Madeleine de Souvré

Several times over my life, my mom referred to an incident that happened when she was a teen, something which captivated the country. On October 19, 1953, entertainer, movie star, radio and television broadcaster, Arthur Godfrey shocked the nation when he fired, live on-air, the handsome, young singer Julius La Rosa on his show, Arthur Godfrey Time

 


 Julius La Rosa & Arthur Godfrey

La Rosa’s crime? Godfrey, the most powerful man on air, stated in a press conference after the firing that he had let La Rosa go because the young crooner had lost his “humility.” Could you imagine someone being fired today for lacking humility in this age where people are constantly flaunting themselves on social media?

 Selfie time!  Look at me! Look at me!

My mom often related that incident as a cautionary tale when I was a kid and would complain about someone being too full of themselves. That story had always stuck with me and always made me wonder exactly what is humility or what it means to be humble? I’ve never had a great handle on what it is, but in researching it, I’ve learned that humility is not being poor or meek or self-effacing. In essence, to be humble is to know your strengths and weaknesses and your place in the order of things. In spiritual circles it boils down to knowing that you are flawed and not God.

Nearly 70 years later, after the Godfrey-La Rosa incident, it’s hard for us who weren’t alive back then to comprehend what a big deal the firing was at the time. Godfrey, who had been a beloved entertainer since the early 1940s had polished a down-to-earth, genial persona and commanded the airwaves, appearing up to six times a week on nine broadcasts over radio and television. The firing of the popular La Rosa, who was 23 at the time, ignited outrage and made him even more popular. As a result, Godfrey became the butt of comedians’ jokes and a satire song by singer Ruth Wallis called Dear Mr. Godfrey, which skewered him with lyrics like this:

Dear Mr. Godfrey, listen to my plea
Hire me and fire me and make a star of me
I will be so grateful if it can just be done
Hire me and fire me
Ed Sullivan, here I come

Though La Rosa was painted as lacking humility, the story behind the firing revealed that it was Godfrey who was vain, controlling, egotistical and jealous of his young star, who was receiving more fan mail than he. Godfrey never recovered from the firing incident; by the 1960s, he was pretty much a has-been. He died in 1983 at the age of 79. Conversely, La Rosa continued to appear on television for the next several decades, including on a 1980 episode of Laverne and Shirley and starring in the 1980s in a recurring role as Reynoldo on the soap opera, Another World, for which he was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award. He died in 2016 at 86.

It has been reported that Godfrey and La Rosa ran into each other on the street in New York City shortly before Godfrey died, and Godfrey hugged La Rosa, who welcomed the opportunity to bury the hatchet. 

 Julius La Rosa in his later years.

In retrospect, Godfrey must have sensed deep down that he was a small man. Why else would he have cultivated such a welcoming on-air personality? But he must have felt so threatened by the upstart La Rosa, that he projected his flaws onto him. The Godfrey-La Rosa incident reveals a lot about human nature and is a lesson for all of us of how we often project onto others that which we despise in ourselves.

This article originally appeared in the March issue of Northern Connection magazine.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Regrets-I Have a Few

 

For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!”―John Greenleaf Whittier

Last month when we were featuring some of our exceptional schools, I started thinking about my school days, and for the most part, they were a positive experience. However, there is one thing I regret and that is not learning to play an instrument. As far as regrets go, I guess that’s pretty mild. I don’t have biggies like regretting robbing a bank, cheating on my husband, or posting an embarrassing video on the internet. I’m naturally cautious and have always looked at things I’ve considered doing through the lens of what will be the consequences of this or how will this turn out in the future? And will I be happy with what could possibly result from a decision or action?

No matter how thoughtful you are, you will still end up in life with some regret. Acquiring them is unavoidable because, often times, they spring from a decision. For instance, I was a good student in high school but for a variety of reasons including monetary and lack of direction, I didn’t go to college right out of high school, I went to Duff’s Business Institute instead and became an Executive Secretary. I always felt I should have gone to college, but it just wasn’t the right thing at that time.

Although I had some regrets about that, had I gone to college fresh out of high school, I wouldn’t have met my husband, and as a silver lining, while at Duff’s the exceptional grammar and organizational skills I developed there and while working, laid the foundation for my writing career. I did go back an earned my degree when I was 49 and that leads me to something else.

According to psychologists, some of the biggest regrets people have at the end of their lives are:

1.       Not spending enough time with loved ones.

2.       Not trusting their instincts

3.       Not taking care of their physical health

4.       Wasting their life by worrying too much

5.       Not taking risks.

Regrets can be paralyzing for some. I’m not a therapist, but here’s my take on regrets. They are useless. Like the past, they can’t be changed. They’re just baggage. If you can’t get over a regret, seek help. If you can correct a regret, like not learning an instrument or acquiring an education, do it. But most important of all, live your life from now on so as not to regret things later.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Are You a Reader?

 

As you many of you may know, in my spare time, I write novels. This is the time of year for craft shows and festivals, and for the past few years, I’ve been attending several of them to sell my books. Unlike the many handcrafted items showcased at them such as floral arrangements, jewelry, or knitted or crocheted items, books aren’t as eye-catching a ware to sell. To generate interest, I’ve found it best to engage customers as they stroll by my display of novels by asking them a simple question: Are you a reader?

 So many books, so little time!

I usually get one of three answers: An enthusiastic, “Yes, I love to read!” Or an exasperated “I like to read, but I don’t have the time.” This is the answer usually given by a mom pushing a stroller, which is understandable as little ones require a lot of attention. The third answer is one I have trouble fathoming and that is the short reply, “I hate to read.” Some are apologetic when they admit that, appearing to be ashamed about their distaste for reading, while still others are shockingly proud of it. I’ve even had a few people tell me that they haven’t read a book since they left high school decades ago. 



According to a 2021 Pew Research survey of U.S. adults, nearly a quarter of American say they haven’t read one book in the last year. I am not here to heap scorn on those who don’t read because I suspect somewhere during your formative years you may had difficulty reading or was forced to read books you didn’t like making reading a chore. I understand that; reading is an acquired skill and unless you have a learning disability, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Also, I understand being forced to read boring books. I had to read Heart of Darkness in high school, and even though I loved reading, I found that book insufferably boring.


 Apocalypse Now based on the book Heart of Darkness. 

But reading for pleasure is vastly different from reading for a grade, and if you count yourself among the non-readers, I encourage you to try reading again. Here are a few benefits that reading provides to convince you. It stimulates your brain, and some studies even indicate that it may help to stave of dementia. It increases your knowledge. It keeps you from being bored. It stimulates the imagination. It allows you to travel to other times and places and enables you to experience things you could never outside of a book. Reading reduces stress as it can take your mind off problems. It is entertaining and is one of the most affordable forms of entertainment. For $25 or less, you can be entertained for hours. It can be free (if you go to your library). Reading is a great conversation starter. Readers love to talk about books. Reading binds people together. Readers love to connect. One of the most encouraging things I’ve learned while selling my books is that book clubs are still flourishing. After all these months of isolation joining or being in a book club is a great way to socialize. 

 


 

As we approach the holiday season, now is the ideal time to give reading a go again. I once saw that the best Christmas list is one that includes something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read. Ask a bookworm for a recommendation for a good book they loved and then ask Santa to bring you it. Then for January, the time of the year when we make resolutions, commit to reading. You will be holed up for the winter, which makes it a great time to dive into a good book.

Reading is also a habit, albeit a pleasurable one. Start with reading a page a day. I guarantee you’ll be happy you did. 

This article originally appeared in the December issue of Northern Connection magazine.