Friday, November 11, 2016



ELECTION 2016 — THE DAY AFTER.
OMG! WHAT DO WE TELL OUR CHILDREN?


BY ANTOINETTE RAINONE

Donald J. Trump won the race for the White House. Hillary Clinton lost. 

OMG! WHAT DO WE TELL OUR CHILDREN?

From political pundits shouting on my smart phone to moms whispering to each other on the playground, that's the question I kept hearing over and over again the day after the results came in: Donald J. Trump is President-elect of The United States of America.
  
The postings and laments on Facebook were endless  — and, three days later, still are.

"How do we tell our kids the bully won?" And beyond that, mothers with daughters were especially distraught because they wanted to show their daughters they, too, could become President of the United States one day. 

One mom posted a photo of her pre-teen daughter with a grim and forlorn expression, dressed in a T-shirt: "TODAY IS CANCELLED."

Really? What ARE we teaching our children when we use them as props to express personal displeasure with America's democratic process?

News flash: Your daughter STILL can become President of the United States one day. But be forewarned: ATTITUDE goes a long way. 

Here's what I told my son when he woke up on Wednesday:

Have you ever been laughed at by your classmates? I know I have. It didn't feel good, did it?

Donald Trump was laughed at, too. And not just from other kids in the classroom. He was laughed at by the whole world, if you can imagine that. 

Donald was the boy laughed at by people on TV and the Internet. They made fun of him in front of millions — even billions — of people. 

"So you think YOU can become President of the United States? NO WAY! You have no experience in politics! Who do you think you are?"

Donald was the boy competing against 16 other people who wanted to become the Republican Nominee for President. They were people with lots of government experience.

"You can't do it, Donald! Why don't you just drop out now!"

Donald didn't drop out. He had a message for the American people, and he believed in his message, from the bottom of his heart.

Donald put on a red cap with these words: MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.

The people laughed even more. "What a silly cap you're wearing, Donald! Take it off!"

Donald didn't take off his cap. Instead, he had lots of caps made so he could give it to the people who listened to his message. He began to have rallies in all different parts of the country.

Suddenly, tens of thousands of people came to his rallies, wearing the same red cap, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.

Donald knew he was good at creating jobs for people. He spoke to those people: "I will bring jobs back to America. You will have a job again!"

The out-of-work coal miners in Pennsylvania listened. The out-of-work auto manufacturer workers in Michigan and West Virginia listened, too.

The people on TV still shouted, "You can't do it, Donald!"

Donald often shouted back and said mean things to them. But his friends reminded him, "Don't worry about them, Donald. Just keep spreading your message to help Americans."

The people on TV couldn't believe it, but Donald beat all 16 people in the primaries to become the Republican Nominee. Then they shouted, "You'll never beat Hillary Clinton!" 

True, Hillary Clinton is a powerful woman with lots of friends and supporters around the world. But do you think Donald got scared? Do you think he gave up? 

Donald is the boy who never stopped believing he could beat the most powerful people in America to become the next President of the United States.

His win on November 8, 2016, is going down in history as the Greatest Upset in a Presidential Election.

The lesson for all of us here? Never, ever stop believing in yourself — even if the entire world is against you.

And now, Son, the girls in your class are going to be sad that they did not wake up to the first woman president....

Let's hope the girls understand something very important — and maybe you can share this with them:
 
"Hillary did not become the first woman president of the United States — and that leaves the door wide open for ... YOU." 

Yes, YOU.
  
Today is NOT cancelled...and neither are your dreams. Never, ever cancel your dreams.  
 
Find Your Wings… at any age.

Sunday, January 3, 2016


HAPPY NEW YEAR ... AND CLEAN UP YOUR ACT!

By ANTOINETTE RAINONE
      On New Year's Eve, someone told me about a gainfully employed couple he knows who also collect Welfare checks. Shame on them for cheating and taking money away from the people who are physically and mentally disabled and unable to work.
     My New Year's message is this: Before any of us dare to dream our big dreams, plan our dream vacations, build our dream kitchens and sumptuous bathrooms and summer homes — make a resolution to look within ourselves first. 
      Are we are cheating others in any way? 
      Are we cheating the government, which in turn translates to cheating people in real need?
     CLEAN UP YOUR ACT.
     Are we taking profits from a "charitable" organization while giving only 10 percent to the needy?
     CLEAN UP YOUR ACT.  
     Are we gaining favor with the boss or teacher while lying about others?
     CLEAN UP YOUR ACT.
     Are we making new friends by taking them away from their other friends?
     CLEAN UP YOUR ACT.
     Are we "advocating for children," but not really looking out for their best interests? 
     CLEAN UP YOUR ACT.
     Are we "women's rights advocates" if we don't treat all women favorably?
     CLEAN UP YOUR ACT.
     Are we making six-figure salaries and not helping our parents who took care of us and now need us the most?
     CLEAN UP YOUR ACT.
     Do we expect to be blessed if we have cheating hearts? Do we believe profits derived from some form of cheating are truly blessings? 
     What are blessings? Who are the blessed?
     "BLESSED are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Humility is the realization that all our gifts and blessings come from the grace of God.
     "BLESSED are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Mourning and regretting our own sins — and the sins of this world — creates a desire to improve ourselves and to do what is right.
     "BLESSED are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." A humble person becomes gentle and kind, even in the face of adversity and hardship. A meek person exhibits self-control and obedience to God's righteousness.
     "BLESSED are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." A desire for justice and moral perfection will lead us to a fulfilment of that desire — a transition to holiness. 
     "BLESSED are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." Love, compassion and forgiveness towards our neighbors will bring peace in our relationships. 
     "BLESSED are the pure of heart, for they shall see God." Pure of heart means to be free of all selfish intentions, self-seeking desires and cheating in any way. How many times have we performed an act perfectly free of any personal gain? Such an act is pure love...and that act of pure love brings us happiness.
     "BLESSED are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God." Peacemakers try to bring peace and friendship to others. But we first need to be filled with the blessings of peace in order to communicate that peace with others in need of it. 
     "BLESSED are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." Jesus said many times that those who follow Him will be persecuted, just as He was. Nearly all of the Apostles and many Christians in the Roman era suffered martyrdom. But we are promised that if we suffer for his sake, we will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. 
     So, do we really want to cheat others and get more profits in our pockets in order to go on that dream vacation ... build that new kitchen ... buy that summer home? 
     Or do we want to be PURE OF HEART, knowing that if we perform acts perfectly free of any personal gain, WE SHALL SEE GOD?
     Isn't SEEING GOD way more awesome than a vacation or kitchen or summer home can ever be?
     It's never too late to clean up our acts.
     Find your wings ... at any age.
   

Wednesday, February 25, 2015




50 years later ... Why are women flocking to
"Fifty Shades of Grey"?

     By Antoinette Rainone
     Follow your dreams! Pursue your passions! Find your wings! 
     These are the mantras I've been writing about since beginning this blog a little over a year ago. 
     What's the one thing, though, that would hinder you from pursuing your life's fulfillment? 
     Being owned by another human being. 
     You cannot find your wings if they are being clipped and controlled by another person. If you allow someone to own you, guess what? You are living that person's dream for you. And it's never a pleasant dream.
     I was filled with fifty shades of dismay this past Valentine's Day Weekend. Variety magazine reported that "Fifty Shades of Grey" sizzled at the weekend box office — to the tune of $94.4 million from more than 3,600 locations over the three-day period — setting new records for a Valentine's/Presidents Day holiday opener of all time. 
     Why were so many modern women gathering their gal pals to watch a "sexy, romantic" movie about a serial stalker who controls a young, impressionable female victim? 
     Sixties singing icon Lesley Gore was a teenager when she belted out her anthem to empower women,  "You Don't Own Me." In 1964, she was ahead of her time, but women caught up quickly. However, judging by the masses at the box office, millions of real women — beyond the fictional character of Anastasia — seem to have slipped back. 
      Sadly, and somewhat fortuitously, Lesley Gore died from lung cancer on President's Day — the very weekend "Fifty Shades of Grey" broke box-office records. The two polarizing themes for women — YOU OWN ME ("Shades") and YOU DON'T OWN ME (Lesley) came to a head. The timing of Lesley's death coinciding with a movie glamorizing an abusive relationship seems to emphasize how far we've ... not come ... in 50 years.
     The majority of women did not recognize the relationship they were viewing was NOT about a "consenting couple" exploring a sexual fantasy. Rather, this "couple" consists of a serial stalker and an impressionable college student engaged in a disturbing, abusive relationship, complete with mind control that extends to every area of the very young woman's life. 
     Oh, I get the fantasy part of the plot. I get that women were placing themselves in the role of having a prince charming with his own multibillion-dollar company whisk them off into the clouds for a private helicopter ride. 
     Oh, the allure... The fantasy...
     The landing. Ouch. 
     The landing is a rude awakening to what awaits. A "Red Room of Pain" is the place where "prince charming" hurts her, and hurts her badly. But the pain goes beyond the room, as Mr. Grey controls Anastasia in every single aspect of her life. Abusers control their victims — and they are experts at hiding the abuse. That's how they con them.
     When one of my colleagues read the plot of the movie in detail, she proclaimed: "Wow. I never realized the plot contained all of this non-sexual abuse, and the movie reviews really didn't go into much of this. No wonder groups are protesting that it represents violence against women!"
     Bottom line: There is nothing sexy or romantic about abuse.
     All of us are susceptible to people whose aim is to control us. Why? Because controllers come into our lives initially portraying themselves as caring, lovely individuals. But they are con artists, and it's never long before they strategically start spinning their manipulative ways. 
     We all need to heed the characteristics of an abuser. The "real" Mr. Greys in the world employ these (well, almost) 50 Shades of Decay:
     Mind controller
     Manipulator
     Master of persuasion
     Charmer
     Powerful
     Charismatic
     Lures with gifts
     Lures with promises
     Uses loving words like "protect" and "provide"
     Stalker
     Controls aspects of another person's life
     Back-stabber who take allies 
     Twister of facts who convinces allies everything is your fault
     Compulsive liar
     Blamer
     Plays the victim by spinning the truth
     Master of coercion
     Criticizer who keeps his power by convincing victim she's the one at fault
     Seducer who emotionally seduces others into his subtle controls and lies
     Taker who plays the role of giving love, when in reality the abuser is all about taking, not giving
     Guilt inducer who knows how to play on the victim's heart to get his way
     Thief — through lies and cons, he gets close enough to steal one's heart and soul
     Narcissist who controls at the expense of others
     Jealous
     Convinces it's about love, but really it's about control
     Name caller — to confuse, convince and control his pray, he will call her demeaning names such as "selfish" or "self centered."
     Pretender — pretends to be caring and loving, but it's a cover for someone who only takes control.
     Focus shifter — know how to take a victim's focus off his controlling and cruel acting-out by shifting focus elsewhere, like a perfected magic act.
     Evil doer — abuse is conscious and evil, period. 

     Another colleague of mine, a survivor of an abusive partner, clarifies:
     "Even using the word romantic must be prefaced to communicate that not all abusive men use such 'romantic' behaviors. There are different styles of abusers. The common thread is the controlling manipulator whose behaviors purposely cycle to create confusion to control the victim. The pretend 'vulnerable or kind' behaviors return a false hope to the victim who believes that this good side, with her love or help, will win over his bad side. She doesn't know her mind is being controlled to keep her in a state of confusion and hope. The longer this cycle continues and the more she loses touch with what is real, she will even defend his abuse. This is known as Stockholm Syndrome."
     Anastasia leaves Mr. Grey at the end of the movie. Some rationalize this as "empowering for women." That might have been true if it weren't for the fact that the movie sequel is already in the works. This means Anastasia goes back to her abuser in round 2 — sadly, a common occurrence within abusive relationships. So much for the empowerment theory.

     Lesley's lyrics are all about NOT ALLOWING SOMEONE TO CONTROL YOU. Fifty years later, they ring truer than ever. 
      
      YOU DON'T OWN ME
      I'm not just one of your many toys...
      And don't tell me what to do
      Don't tell me what to say...
      Don't try to change me in any way
      Don't tie me down 'cause I'd never stay...
      I'm young and I love to be young
      I'm free and I love to be free
      To live my life the way I want...
      To live

     If you think you are in a relationship where you are the victim of control, seek help. It's never too late to break free and regain your true self. 
      
     Be free to find your wings. ...To live.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

    


FOR THIS NEW YEAR, 
MAKE INTERNAL RESOLUTIONS

BY ANTOINETTE RAINONE
      I began this blog in November 2013 to invite you to share a journey with me ... a journey to find your wings ... to discover your life's dreams no matter how young or old you are. The more I write, the more I realize the true meaning of finding your wings.
      Finding your wings is not something external, like how to land a dream job, or how to change careers in mid-life, or how to check off all the awesome to-dos on your bucket list. 
      Finding your wings is an internal journey.    
      I thought about this internal journey this past Christmas when Pope Francis met with Vatican employees. He asked them to do 10 things — very much like New Year’s resolutions.

      Pope Francis' Top Ten Resolutions for 2015:
     – “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.”
     – “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention and love.”
     – “Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy.”
     – “Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity and worldly decadence.”
     – “Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused others.”
     – “Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.”
     – “Be careful of envy, lust, hatred and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people.”
     – “Watch out for anger that can lead to vengeance; for laziness that leads to existential euthanasia; for pointing the finger at others, which leads to pride; and for complaining continually, which leads to desperation.”
     – “Take care of brothers and sisters who are weaker … the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and strangers, because we will be judged on this.”

      As we journey into this brand-new year, let everyone of us look within ourselves and concentrate on becoming a better person. Let us especially work on healing the wounds of the heart. If we don't have forgiveness in our hearts, the bitterness will create a toxicity within that will hinder us from doing all the great things we were destined to do in this life. 
    FORGIVE, AND YOU WILL BE FORGIVEN!   
    Remember, as we take care of our spiritual life and our relationship with God — the backbone of everything we do and everything we are — all our dreams will fall into place.

Find Your Wings ... at any age. Happy New Year!

Saturday, September 27, 2014





 DEREK JETER, THE PLAYER AND THE 'PRAY-ER'

By Antoinette Rainone

     What comes before every big hit, before every big play at shortstop? 
     A small prayer. 
     He prays before he gets to the ballpark. 
     He prays before he gets to the dugout. 
     He prays before he gets up at bat. 
     He prays on the field before the opposing team gets up at bat. 
     Derek Jeter prays.   
     With the cameras constantly on Derek Jeter during Thursday's last home game of his amazing Yankee career, you couldn't help but notice how many times he'd kneel, bow his head, and close with the sign of the cross.
     "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."Philippians 4:13. 
     Derek Jeter knows where his power, strength, talent, and victories come from. And it's his humbleness that has made Jeter a truly great captain of the New York Yankees. 
     A colleague of mine told me she has relatives who attend the same Roman Catholic parish that Derek Jeter's family belongs to. Every Christmas, they see Derek Jeter at Midnight Mass. There are no cameras, no fanfare. Just one man out of hundreds, sitting in the back of the church, coming to celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world.  
     As a child growing up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and spending summers with his grandparents in New Jersey, Jeter's one unwavering dream was to be the short stop of the New York Yankees. 
     "I've been pretty blessed. This is always what I wanted to do," Jeter told the hosts of the TV show Close Encounter. "But I appreciate everything that's happened. I don't take anything for granted."
    And he didn't take the last Yankee home game of his 20-year career for granted either. 
    Top of the ninth, the Yankees were winning 5-2. But the Baltimore Orioles are a darn good team...and they tied it. 
    Bottom of the ninth. Brett Gardner gets a hit. The stage is set for Derek Jeter.
    Derek kneels. He bows his head, prays, and closes with the sign of the cross.
    Time to face the pitcher. Man on second. 
    He HITS the ball! OVER the heads and into right field! DEREK DRIVES IN GARDNER TO SCORE THE WINNING RUN! THE YANKEES WIN!   
     And it isn't just any win. It is a game-winning RBI, in the bottom of the ninth, by the man who is playing the last game of his illustrious career in pinstripes.  
    Later, Derek Jeter told reporters he was happy with a broken bat and a run scored in the seventh inning.  
    "I was happy with that being the end," Jeter said. "But I'll take this one."
     And that really is the point. Derek Jeter would have been happy to have won the game in a modest way with a broken bat. But God had other plans.
     How many times does the game of life mirror a baseball game? Have we ever prayed for something, only to have God answer our prayers in a way totally beyond our wildest dreams? 
     Yankee fan or not, this win seemed to transform everyone. It was a test of faith. Everyone thought the game was a done deal going into the ninth. But sometimes the unexpected happens. And we are reminded: Never take anything for granted. Never lose hope. Keep the faith.
       "If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31.
    
      Find your wings ... at any age.



Wednesday, September 17, 2014




REEVA STEENKAMP PLACING VALUE ON YOU

BY ANTOINETTE RAINONE
      Reeva Steenkamp was supposed to talk to a group of young teenage girls at Sandown High School in Johannesburg, South Africa. She had titled her notes, Placing Value on You. She wanted to tell them: Accept who you are. There is no room for abusive relationships in your lives.
      But at 3 a.m. – several hours before Reeva was due to deliver her message on Valentine’s Day, 2013  – she was gunned down in a tiny bathroom she had locked herself in – killed at the hands of her intimate partner, Oscar Pistorius.
      Tragically, Reeva’s life, and death, would become the message.
      “Be brave. Always see the positive,” Reeva wanted to tell them. “Being loved by others, although an amazing feeling to have the appreciation of others, does not define your place in the world.”
       Reeva was finding her wings. By age 28, she had earned a law degree and had become a model and rising television star. She didn’t have to devote her time talking to a group of teenage girls. She wanted to because she never forgot who she was or where she came from.
       “I was raised on a small farm just outside of Cape Town,” Reeva wanted to tell them. Her family didn’t have money, and yet she was blessed with amazing parents who never allowed me to be aware of my circumstances.
       “In a way I was blessed and privileged to be away from the pressures of city life and I grew up to appreciate the simpler things above the superficial.” 
      Reeva didn’t let the lack of finances deter her, ever. She wanted to tell them that hard work always accompanies big dreams.
     “After moving to Port Elizabeth and deciding to study Law despite our financial situation, I worked hard to be acknowledged as one of the top 15 percent academics at university so that my studies could be 80 percent covered by bursaries and I worked to pay off the rest.”
      Reeva wanted to tell them about the adversities she faced and conquered.
      “I broke my back towards the end of varsity. Learnt mobility again and made a massive life decision with regards to my career.
      There was so much Reeva wanted to tell them. She wanted to share the life lessons she had learned along the way – including her vulnerable side.
     I was in an abusive relationship at the same time and all together these factors encouraged my move to JOZI [slang in South African for Johannesburg]. Despite my height disadvantage and the difficulty in general of breaking into the modeling industry, I put my head down and worked hard towards my dream ... it took some serious soul searching to remind myself of my value in this world.
       Reeva wanted to inspire these young women to dream big and work hard to achieve their goals.
       “Accept who you are. Acknowledge your absolute CAN DOS in life and work on your MAYBES so that you can be a better person for the ultimate upliftment of those around you.
       Above all, Reeva wanted to tell them to love themselves.
      “No matter how many people say that they ‘love’ you, if you do not love your person then you will never step outside of the physical you. The physical you can only do so much if your mental you is lost inside of all the confusion.
       Looking ahead to when her modeling career would end, Reevas next big dream in life was to use her law degree and open a firm with her close friend, Kerry Smith, to help abused women. 
        I suspect Kerry may fulfill Reevas dream someday and open such a firm. This would certainly keep the flame of Reevas message burning bright. 
      Make your voice heard, your physical seen. It’s that culmination of your person that will leave a legacy and uplift. 
       R.I.P., Reeva Steenkamp. Women around the world PLACE VALUE ON YOU!