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By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

We spend our lives searching. We look for friends in elementary school with whom we can share a laugh or a meal. We seek the right clothing and supplies so that we fit in.

As we age, the searches change. We hunt for fulfilling jobs, long-term romantic or career partners, places to live, cars that will meet our needs, and homes in communities that will welcome us and our families.

Through all of these searches, people wander into and out of our lives. If we’re fortunate enough, we might know someone from the time we’re 3 years old with whom we continue to meet, laugh, and exchange work stories or ideas and challenges.

Sitting in cars waiting for our children to emerge from their orchestra rehearsals or milling about in the entrance to an auditorium after a concert, we may see the same familiar faces, smile at the people next to us, and appreciate how they have supported all of our children with equal energy and commitment, congratulating our son or daughter on their solos or appreciating the remarkable live performance they just witnessed.

As we age, we inevitably lose people. Some drift out of our lives when their interests diverge from ours, even though they remain in the same town. Others take jobs in a new state and follow a different schedule in a new time zone.

When our friends or family members die, the losses are permanent. Except in photos, videos and in our imaginations, we won’t see their faces, smell their perfume or hear their infectious and distinctive laugh echo around a room.

We often say to family members and close friends, “So sorry for your loss.”

While death is a loss, it’s also a reminder of what we found. The person who has left us may have attended the same school, lived on the same block or gone to the same conference many years ago. A blur of people enter and leave our lives, sometimes for as short as a few seconds because we give them change at a store or take their reservations when we’re working for a ferry company, or other times when we’re waiting with them at the DMV to get a new license in a new state. Other times, the people who will become an ongoing part of our lives find us, just as we found them.

Their death brings sadness and a hole in the fabric of our lives. Some cultures tear a hole in their garments to tell the world about the missing piece that comes with mourning.

These moments are also an opportunity to celebrate the fact that we forged a connection and that we played an important role in each other’s lives.

Connections begin when we reach out to strangers who become friends and to men and women who become life partners. Every day, we have the opportunity to appreciate what we’ve found in the people who populate our lives, the ones we choose to call to share the news about a promotion, those whose support and consideration remind us of who we are.

When we stray from a path that works, these found friends can bring us back to the version of ourselves we strive to be. Each loss reminds us not only of who that person was in general, but also of what we discovered through our interactions. These important people provide common ground and experiences and are as much a part of who we are as the image staring back at us in the mirror. We didn’t just find them. Ideally, we found the best of ourselves through the experiences we shared with them.

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Today we report on two diametrically opposite faces of our nation. Interspersed here are some personal recollections of my own. Fifty years ago we Americans stood proud and together, our faces turned upward to the heavens, as the United States sent Apollo 11 to the moon with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins aboard. Armstrong and Aldrin were to land on the surface in the Lunar Excursion Module, or LEM, the creation of engineering wizardry by thousands of Grumman workers right here on Long Island.

An estimated 650 million people around the world watched spellbound on black-and-white television screens as the two astronauts took the first steps for a man on July 20, 1969, and the unprecedented leap into the future of space travel for mankind.

Until 1972, 24 people flew to the moon, none since then. But that was just the beginning of incredible discoveries and inventions, from miniaturizations to astrobiology. We have a satellite that has played host to other nations and enabled us to see around the world. Known as the International Space Station, we have used it to reach out into the solar system. And it will even become a regular destination for tourists shortly if entrepreneurs are to be believed.

A family gathers to watch the moon landing in 1969.

Meanwhile, as Armstrong and Aldrin were busy walking around on the moon, there was a tiny leap on Earth for our third son. He arrived from out of the womb at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson and at this time is enjoying a 50th anniversary of his own. We had arrived on Long Island only three weeks earlier from Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, where my husband had served for the preceding two years, and were busy working to establish our new lives here. 

Now you might think that the blessing of a new baby, along with the need to find a new home and rent a medical office might have overshadowed the miracle of the moon landing, but for me that event was high-voltage electric. 

Just before we left New York for Texas and my husband’s assignment, I had been working at Time-Life with Arthur C. Clarke, who had arrived from his Eden-like home in Ceylon — now Sri Lanka — to write a book called, “Man and Space.” Clarke, like the other writers of space discoveries and travel, had to write under the banner of science fiction in order to gain respectability. But the truth was that these authors believed what they wrote would come to pass, and fortunately for many of them they were alive to see it happen in the 1960s. And I was fortunate enough to be part of the excitement, a front row spectator of history, as we journalists are.

I, too, was caught up in the fervor of the coming moon shot. When Clarke parted, he went on to join Stanley Kubrick to co-write the script of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” considered today one of the best films ever made, and I to become the wife of an Air Force officer and then mother of three.

So we leave the incredible heights of American pride now and look at the other side of the coin. Elsewhere in our news, we have the press release from U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), who went to the southern border of the United States with a small group from the House to see first hand what was happening at the immigration centers. In his words, the situation is “awful” and the system is “broken.” The group toured and inspected facilities that are currently holding Central American migrants seeking asylum, speaking with several immigrant families as they went.

According to first-hand reports, there is a humanitarian crisis at the border. Since only very few migrants are processed each day, many cross over the border illegally between points of entry, then turn themselves in to seek asylum. They come in such numbers that they greatly exceed capacity to house and care for them, and as such are living in deplorable conditions. 

These are our American concentration camps, where children have been separated from their parents. They are deserving of our shame. “America is better than this,” declared Suozzi, and we know that to be true. At one and the same time, we celebrate and rue our nation.

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

We make them before we even get up. We lie in our beds, staring at our alarm clocks, where we are faced with the first of countless decisions. Should we get up now or can we afford to wait a few minutes before climbing out of bed?

Decisions range from the mundane to the mind blowing: Do you want pickles, lettuce and tomatoes and what kind of bread would you like; you’re taking a pay cut so you can do what job exactly; are you sure you want to sell that stock today when it may be worth more tomorrow?

We rarely take a step back from the decision-making process because we generally don’t want to slow our lives down, leaving us less time to make other decisions.

Some of the decisions we make are through a force of habit. We buy the same ketchup, take the same route to work, wear the same tie with the same shirt or call the same person when we are feeling lonely.

Just because we have always done something one particular way, however, doesn’t mean we made the best choice, or that we considered how the variables in our lives have changed over time.

As we age, we find that our needs, tastes and preferences evolve. Our bodies may have a lower caloric demand, especially if we spend hours behind a desk. We might also be more prepared to debate or argue with our priest or rabbi, or we might have a greater need to help strangers or make the world a better place for the next generation. The way we make decisions today may be inconsistent with the way we made them for the younger versions of ourselves.

We may have some of the same tastes for movies or books that we had 20 years ago. Then again, we may place a higher value on experiences than we do on possessions.

Eating a particular food, calling a person who makes us feel inadequate or sticking with the same assignments or jobs is often not the best way to live or enjoy our lives.

Inertia affects the way we decide on anything from whether to vote Democratic or Republican to whether we would like pasta or salad for lunch. Sure, I could defy the old me. But then am I remaking a decision or remaking myself?

Ah, but there’s the real opportunity: We can follow the Latin phrase “carpe diem” — seize the day — and redefine and reinvent ourselves as long as we do it with purpose and focus.

Sure, that takes work and planning and we might change something for the worse, but maybe we would make our lives better or leave our comfort zone for greater opportunities. We can decide to take calculated risks with our lives or to move in a new direction. After all, we teach our children to believe in themselves. And if we want to practice what we preach, we should believe in ourselves, too, even on a new path.

Why should we put our lives on automatic pilot and sit in the back seat, making the same circles month after month and year after year? Some routines and decisions, of course, are optimal, so changing them just to change won’t likely improve our lives.

But for many decisions, we can and should consider climbing back into the driver’s seat. For a moment, we might cause our paths to rock back and forth, as if we shook the wheel, but ultimately we can and will discover new terrain.

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

My parents married on July 4, 1925. It might seem counterintuitive for them to join each other on Independence Day, but back then to marry meant independence from one’s nuclear family. They were now off on their own, together ready to start a new branch of the family. And they began to have children. They were doing what had been done for only a few centuries before them, marriage being a fairly recent construct in humankind’s history.

Given statistics today, almost a century later, what they did seems almost quaint. Tucked into the back pages of The Wall Street Journal’s Business & Finance section, amid such stories about carmaker Tesla’s quarterly earnings and predictions about the future of tech stocks, is an article that would amaze my parents but speaks to our times: “Despite high costs, more women are interested in single motherhood,” by Veronica Dagher.

Not only are couples no longer feeling the need to marry before they have children. In today’s society, some women don’t need to be part of a couple before they embrace motherhood. Increasing wages for women create economic independence, and the share of women earning top salaries in high positions exploded 500 percent between 2008 and 2012. Women have gone from 1.9 percent among the top 0.1 percent of highest earners to 10.5 percent.

In 2017, according to the WSJ article, four in 10 births were to either solo mothers or mothers living with nonmarital partners. Fifty years ago, the number was one in 10. That means these four out of every 10 children are being raised without a father. That has got to have profound effect on those children. 

According to California Cryobank, a major sperm bank in the United States, about one-third of its clients are single mothers by choice. Further, the number has increased by 3 to 5 percent in the last five years. Rosanna Hertz, a Wellesley College professor, who wrote the book, “Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice: How Women are Choosing Parenthood Without Marriage and Creating the New American Family” (2006), has found that most of those mothers are college educated and earn roughly double the national household median of $110,000. But with rising salaries, not all single mothers are high-wage earners. Some have middle-class backgrounds and may even have more than one child.

What’s puzzling about this picture? Are we witnessing men being thrown away? I pray not. To paraphrase “South Pacific,” there is nothing like a man.

It’s understandable that single mothers may be single because they never found the right person to marry. Or they may be divorced or separated. Or widowed. Or they may have chosen not to marry. All of those reasons have to do with themselves. But according to Hertz, “there has been a notable increase in the number of women opting for this family structure in the 13 years” since she wrote her book. Since it takes both sexes to make a child, does a woman in good conscience have the right to knowingly deprive a child of a father because of an overwhelming maternal desire? Is it selfish or unselfish to procreate without a mate? Does boundless and unconditional love compensate?

There is a support group that deals with such issues. Called Single Mothers by Choice, it considers the emotional, financial, psychological and practical aspects of becoming a single mother. It also provides others in the same situation to talk with. To choose single motherhood is a hard and, incidentally, an expensive route. That was the thrust of the WSJ article. Right from the first step, there is no one with whom to share costs. Initial costs can range from several thousand dollars to six figures, and insurance is spotty.

It is certainly true that life does not always work out the way one would like. In fact, it almost never does. Too many bends to see around, too many roads not taken, too many disappointments. But I would just like to add a last thought from “The King and I”: Most men “can be wonderful.” 

An Italian immigrant family on board a ferry from the docks to Ellis Island, New York. (Photo by Lewis W Hine/Getty Images)

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

We cry and laugh with movie characters, feeling their pain when their fictional lover runs away with the neighbor or laughing with them when they share a joke, slip and fall, or embarrass themselves during a public speech.

Long after we’ve put a book down, the characters join us as we commute back and forth to work. We feel the pain they experienced during World War II when they lost family members or neighbors. We are grateful that the main character who is battling his personal demons somehow survives unimaginable ordeals.

We stare into the faces of the huddled masses from pictures at Ellis Island, many of whom left the only home they’d ever known to start a new life in a place that has become, fortunately for so many of us, the only home we’ve ever known. We see the bags at the immigrants’ sides, the children in their arms who are our parents and grandparents, and the resolve in the arrivals’ eyes as they wait for their turn to pass through the gates to the New World.

We read about people whose lives touch us so profoundly that we send money through GoFundMe pages. We don’t have any need to ask them whether they drink Coke or Pepsi, whether they’re a Democrat or a Republican, or if they support France or the United States in the Women’s World Cup. We want something better for them.

What about all the people who surround us, who drive next to us on the same roads on the way to and from work, who stand in line with us at the movie theater, the deli or the Department of Motor Vehicles?

The people who share time and place with us are just as deserving of our sympathy, empathy and care, and yet we honk when the light turns green and they don’t go, we become irritated when they don’t understand our lunch order, and we snarl when our co-workers misunderstand an assignment.

I would like to suggest that we spend one day every year, maybe this publication day, June 27, appreciating people. Let’s call it People Appreciation Day.

This doesn’t and shouldn’t be a day when we trudge out to get a mass produced card that says, “Hey, I appreciate you.” This could be any level of appreciation we’d like to share.

We could take an extra second to thank the cashier at the supermarket, who asks us for our store card and wants to know if we found everything OK. We can thank her and ask how she’s doing. When she answers, we might react accordingly: “Oh, happy birthday” or “Sorry to hear about your cat” or “I sometimes miss the place where I grew up, too.”

Maybe instead of honking when the light turns green, we can imagine — the way we would if we were looking at the title of a movie or the cover of a book — what the driver inside is feeling, thinking or experiencing. How is that any different from caring about a two-dimensional stranger in a book we’re holding?

The people in our lives aren’t here to entertain or amuse us, but they can elicit our empathy, understanding and appreciation. We can, however, offer them the gift of care and concern.

We can appreciate their efforts to meet their basic needs and their desire to strive for something better for themselves and their children. These other people are dedicated teachers, determined athletes, a third-generation member of the military or a new neighbor from far away whose loneliness we can extinguish. Let’s take the time and put out the effort to appreciate them. When we do, we can benefit from the opportunity for people appreciation to forge a human connection.

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Schools are out, or almost out, trees are lush with leaves, people are beginning to wear shorts and sandals, and the temperatures are finally approaching the high 80s. It seems to have stopped raining. The lines after dinner at ice cream parlors stretch out the door and down the street. Dogs have their tongues hanging out when being walked. And it’s light until almost 9 p.m. Summer, glorious summer, has truly arrived.

It has been many years since my children enjoyed summer break from school’s routine and therefore I with them. Yet the feeling of relaxation that summer ushers in still floods my being. This is the time to make a barbecue and invite friends, enjoy the summer sky over some nice port in the long evening, lounge in the backyard, splash at the beach, watch a baseball game, sleep in a bit and read, read, read those books and magazines that have piled up on the bedside table all year long. It’s also the time to sail, swim, play, get lost on long walks and, in so many other ways, rejoice in the outdoors. There is even time to think.

Here is something tantalizing to think about. A letter published on the website Medium.com Monday, written and signed by a group of 18 billionaires, from 11 families, including financier George Soros, co-founder of Facebook Chris Hughes, Abigail Disney and heirs to the Pritzker fortune, Liesel and Ian Simmons, urged government to tax them at a higher rate. They called for “a moderate wealth tax on the fortunes of the richest one-tenth of the richest 1 percent of Americans — on us.”

Over the last three decades, the wealth of the top 1 percent grew by $21 trillion. Who can even visualize such sums? But the wealth of the bottom 50 percent fell by $900 billion — not hard to visualize by comparison because we can see the effects on American lives. 

The letter follows a similar declaration by investment guru Warren Buffett in 2011 encouraging greater tax on the richest. He revealed that his effective tax rate was actually lower than that of any other 20 people in his office. 

The richest pay 3.2 percent of their wealth in taxes versus 7.2 percent from the bottom 99 percent. President Barack Obama (D) picked up the suggestion at the time and called for a 30 percent tax for that population, dubbing it the “Buffett rule.” Not only was that never enacted, the latest round of tax cuts under President Donald Trump (R) have particularly helped those same richest Americans.

The Monday letter was addressed to all presidential contenders. Elizabeth Warren, U.S. senator from Massachusetts and Democratic hopeful, has proposed a comparable strategy, recommending that those who have $50 million or more in assets, like stocks, bonds, yachts, cars and art, be subject to a wealth tax. That would include some 75,000 families and raise, in her estimation, $2.75 trillion over the next 10 years. That money could be put toward better child care, helping with education debt and the opioid and climate crises. Such a tax would strengthen American freedom and democracy and would be patriotic, it is claimed. Surveys show that about seven out of 10 people support this concept.

In 2014 Nick Hanauer, a successful Seattle entrepreneur, wrote a memo to “my fellow zillionaires” in which he advised the following: “[We are] thriving beyond dreams of any plutocrats in history, [while] the rest of the country — the 99.99 percent — is lagging far behind. If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us.”

How is that for some heady stuff to occupy the mind and lessen any lazy guilt as our bodies are stretched out on the lounge?

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By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Breaking up is spectacularly awkward, highly charged and, in retrospect, filled with humorous potential. Two people get together for a picnic, where a public scene might be difficult for the recipient.

“Want some tabouli? What is tabouli anyway?”

“No thanks, and I don’t know what it is. You ordered it, not me.”

“Good point, so, I was thinking. It’s probably a good time for us to separate.”

“Um, what, excuse me?”

The lip quivers, the breathing becomes short and erratic and the eyebrows, shoulders and neck all droop at the same time.

“No, yeah, I mean, you’re great and this has been a total blast but, you know, it’s just, I don’t know, it’s not working for me.”

“A total blast? You’d call this a total blast? Besides, nothing is perfect. I know my family can be difficult and I know I wake up with bad breath and I do, on occasion, correct your speech, but we can work around that. Don’t you want to try to make it work?”

“I’m thinking that it’s probably time to do other things. I’m thinking of moving to Vancouver and you hate the cold.”

“Vancouver? Really? Wait, have you been seeing other people? You and my sister get along a little too well. As soon as you start dating her, she won’t be interested. I know I share genes with her, but she’s a horrible person who has ruined my life over and over again.”

“No, really, this has nothing to do with your sister. I wouldn’t do that to you or myself, especially after what you just said.”

“Oh, so, now there’s something wrong with my sister? At least she’s not dumping me.”

“No, no, I think we have a great friendship and I’d like to stay in touch.”

“You’d like to stay in touch? After all we’ve been through, you’re offering me your friendship? You’re not even that good of a friend. You rarely listen and you forget all the important dates in the year and you always want to go to the same restaurants, even though we have so many other choices.”

“Right, exactly, I’m so boring, so maybe you’re ready to be done with me?”

“Why do we have to end it now? It’s not like I was expecting to marry you. I can’t imagine having a younger version of you in the house. You can somehow shoot baskets from all over a gym floor that land in a hoop, but you have no ability to throw the dirty T-shirt you wore to play basketball into a much larger hamper that’s also closer to the ground, even though you roll the shirt into a ball.”

“I agree. You could do so much better.”

“I’m sure there are plenty of better people out there, but we had some fun, right? We were supposed to go to that dinner next Saturday with the Smiths. They’re your friends, so maybe we should see what works between now and then?”

“It’s OK, I already canceled that.”

“What? That horrible person Jessica Smith knew you were going to break up with me before I did? How could you do this to me?”

“Sorry, I didn’t tell them anything. I just said we couldn’t make it.”

“We couldn’t make it because you were going to break up with me today over tabouli. You’re an idiot.”

“Right, well, maybe we shouldn’t stay in touch?”

“Oh, so now I’m not good enough to be your friend?”

“I’m going to be a boring idiot elsewhere.”

“Wait, you’re leaving me?”

“Yes, and I’ve googled ‘tabouli.’ It’s a Lebanese salad with vegetables, wheat and parsley, just so you know.”

Rita J. Egan — Editor

On occasions like Father’s Day, my thoughts turn not only to my dad, but also to his parents and my uncles. My father passed away in 2004, and I always picture him reunited with his parents. Ten years ago, his brother, my Uncle John, died and a few years later my Uncle Jimmy. I often wonder if, after death, one gets to hang out with those they knew on Earth. I’d like to think they are talking about the old days in the Bronx and Astoria, hopefully with a few cold beers on hand. Most of all, I always hope that my grandparents know that my cousins and I benefited from their sacrifices — leaving Ireland when they were young adults to seek a better life. I also hope my father and uncles know how much they have influenced me and my cousins. For this, I carry them all in my heart. Happy Father’s Day in heaven to all of them. 

Kyle Barr — Editor

I didn’t know what to say to you the night you came home after learning your mother had passed away.

To be perfectly honest, she was never close to me, and it was hard for me to place my emotions, but I knew you were doing your best to deal with the shock and the grief. I saw you hop on a plane the very next morning after working nine hours the day before. I didn’t know how to say I’m sorry you went through that, and I know when I spoke to you on the phone, I must have sounded close to a narwhal trying to approximate human emotion.

But I saw how you were when you came back. You caught up with your sister. You had a new plan, and though you were leaving me to move into her old house, you could now say you were moving on.

You need to know how proud I am that you’re my dad.

David Luces — Reporter

On Father’s Day, I would like to highlight two father figures in my life growing up. One was my grandfather and the other my uncle. Both men were instrumental in my upbringing, and as a young man, they were individuals to whom I definitely looked up. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve been able to have with them as a kid, whether it’s going to my first Yankee game or hours of playing catch in the backyard.

My grandfather unfortunately passed away in 2012, but the lessons he taught me remain. His guidance over the years has molded me into the man I am today. The same could be said for my uncle, as he has always been there for me and continues to be. I’ve been lucky to have these two great men in my life. I want to thank them for everything — it has meant so much to me.

Leah Chiappino — Intern

Every time I turn on the car or reflect on the education I received, I have my dad to thank. The son of a mechanic and restaurant waitress, he fought to pull himself through college, working 80-hour weeks at Howard Johnson’s and attending classes at community college after working the graveyard shift, funded by his own pocket. A successful public servant, he has fueled my passion for politics, philosophy and sports my entire life. This Father’s Day, I will probably be debating one of these topics with Dad, who taught me to have an opinion on and to question everything.

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures
Daniel Dunaief

am in the news business. I also write columns. Today, I’d like to conflate the two, tackling the ubiquitous topic of “fake news.” Don’t run away, figuratively speaking! I’m not going to write about politics or politicians. I’m going to share fake news from my world.

10. I am a Yankees fan.

What makes that fake? It’s accurate, but it’s also fake because I’ve always been a Yankees fan. While the statement isn’t false, it’s not news because news suggests that it’s something new. It’s not fake per se, but also not news and that’s what makes it fake news.

9. I enjoy the time my kids are away.

What makes that fake? The fake element to this is that I enjoy the time they’re home, so I don’t exclusively enjoy the time they’re away. I may have smiled at and with my wife and, yes, I’ve found myself laughing out loud now and then for no particular reason in public, knowing that no one will glare at me, but it’s fake news to suggest I only enjoy this time.

8. I reveled in the movie “Rocketman.”

What makes that fake? While the movie was compelling and it offered details about superstar singer Sir Elton John’s childhood, it was a look behind the curtain at his early pain. I sympathized with him as he dealt with family challenges and personal demons, but I can’t say that I reveled in the biopic. I felt moved by his struggles and I appreciate how much he had to overcome to live the balanced life that he seems to have now. The gift of his musical genius may have been enough for the world to appreciate him, but not to give him what he wanted or needed when he was younger.

7. I have a wonderful dog.

What makes that fake? My dog has wonderful moments, but I wouldn’t characterize him as wonderful. He needs training, chews on furniture, jumps on people and barks at things I can’t see, which isn’t so wonderful when I’m conducting interviews with people in other states or when I’m in the middle of a delicate peace negotiation between children who don’t seem to have missed each other all that much when they were apart.

6. I detest logic.

What makes that fake? I enjoy logic. It follows rules and patterns. It only appears that I detest logic in this column because I’m trying to make a point about fake news.

5. I’m worried about the Earth.

What makes that fake? I’m not just worried about the land: I’m also concerned about the air, the water, biodiversity and a host of other limited resources.

4. I use real words.

What makes that fake? People who rely on a computer spellchecker will find numerous words that appear to be incorrect or that are underlined in red in my science columns. Words like nanomaterials, which are super small structures that hold out hope for future technologies such as medical devices or sensors, don’t register at all. If you asked a spellchecker, my columns are rife with fake words.

3. I use fake words.

What makes that fake? I love the double negative element to this. It’s fake to say I use fake words, because I also use real words.

2. I only use small words.

What makes that fake? I categorically refute the notion that I only use minuscule words. Check out the word “ubiquitous” at the top of this column.

1. I always lie.

What makes that fake? If I always lied, that would make the confession true, which would mean I don’t always lie, which would make the statement fake.

The flexible and logic-challenged fake news has become a tool to dismiss information, opinions and realities that people find disagreeable. It provides a convenient way to ignore news that may have more than a kernel of truth to it.

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? I recently asked that question of staffers at the news media office, and this is what they answered. I’ve grouped the responses by department, wondering if there was a common thread that ran through their common work. Answer: There wasn’t, at least not one that I could see. You judge.

The Sales Department

“Go to college.” I also asked this person if that advice had changed her life. “Yes, it was a positive thing for my future. College changed my life, with its new ideas — and independence, both socially as well as academically.”

“No matter what, trust that God has a plan for everything. For something good to come out of whatever seems bad now.” Right around then, I started to ask the source of the advice. “My mother,” she explained.

“One day, when I was about 12, my mother and I were disagreeing. ‘You need to remember the world does not revolve around you.’ That thought helped me be a much less self-centered person. I became more aware that what was going on around me was often more important.”

“Never look back or to the future. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow has not yet come. Live for today. That came from my Aunt Doris.”

“If at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up. That came from my mother and was especially true for my dancing. Another is: Always trust your gut. Go with it if something doesn’t feel right.”

The Business Department

“See the humor in things. It’s only just recently that I have begun to see that and be on the positive side of things. That has made me a happier person since I turned 50.” I forgot to ask who told her that.

“Expect the unexpected. That may sound pessimistic but it has made me ready to cope. That advice comes from life’s experiences.”

“Treat others as you want to be treated. That came from my father.”

The Copyediting/Proofing Department

“Have a sense of balance. That’s good because often I don’t have that. When I think about that, it always works out for the best. And that came from my sister.”

“Probably two things. First, never stop learning. At the dinner table, if there was something that came up that I didn’t know, my father would take down the ‘World Encyclopedia’ after dinner and we’d look it up. Be curious, educate yourself. Read about it. Second, be kind and treat other people with respect. Again the source was my father.”

“Learn to cultivate a sense of urgency. I tend to be too laid back. That’s from Dr. Who, the sci-fi character.” [That thought came from the sister, above.]

The Art and Production Department

“Try not to care what other people think. It’s a constant struggle because I am a Libra, a people pleaser. That came from my mother, who oddly enough was always critical.”

“Stop worrying. My husband told me that, and I find I’m not as uptight as I used to be.”

“Having low expectations is a good strategy. Don’t expect too much and you won’t be disappointed. That may sound pessimistic but the message is that things will always be better. The source: Stefan Sagmeister, who wrote a book that included things to be learned.”

The Editorial Department

“Don’t listen to outside people. If you think of something you really believe in, just go for it.”

“This paraphrased quote from Maya Angelou: ‘People will forget what you did, what you said but never how you made them feel.’ My first-grade teacher made me feel mutual respect and that is what I show others.”

“Keep swimming — no matter what’s going on in your life, never give up, keep going. I never gave up on dating [points to engagement ring] or careerwise. From ‘The Road Less Traveled,’ life is difficult and once you realize that, life becomes easier.”

“Always clean stuff from the top down. Don’t do anything over again — from my father.”

“I will quote what a priest told my father when he was diagnosed with cancer. ‘All you can do is be grateful for what you’ve had. Otherwise it’s too difficult.’”

And from my mother: “You don’t have to answer every barking dog.” Not a bad piece of advice for a future newspaper publisher.

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