Saturday, September 27, 2014


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 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!

Monday, September 1, 2014


We've got an awful lot to live for


     Unless you’ve had a, well, bucket or something over your head, you’ve surely noticed The Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS being splashed all over social media. The number of people getting doused in icy water this summer has been nothing short of astounding, from celebrities to former presidents to our kids on the block. 
     Through this, attention to ALS – amyotrophic lateral schlerosis – has been renewed. The ALS Foundation has reportedly received 94 million dollars from the challenge. Despite what contrarians say, the numbers speak for themselves. The ice bucket challenge has been a phenomenal success.

     ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, in honor of the great Yankee first baseman who succumbed to the deadly degenerative nerve disease at age 37. 
     Ironically, this year marks the 75th anniversary of No. 4's iconic speech, respectfully commemorated at Yankee Stadium on July 4.

     The most striking aspect of his farewell-to-baseball speech -- recited by a man who knew he was dying -- is that it is full of OPTIMISM! Although Gehrig had no choice but to retire from baseball, he did have a choice whether or not to be truly defeated in the game of life.   
     Lou Gehrig chose not to be defeated. All of us can gleam important lessons from Gehrig’s words…

“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. 
     Gehrig’s bad break did not deter him from considering himself the “luckiest man on the face of this earth.” Gehrig chose to face his bad break and confront it head on.

     Next, Gehrig chose to state why he was so lucky, despite the ALS that would inevitably kill him.

     “I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

     Gehrig chose to list the people in his life whom he values.

     “Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? 
      Sure, I'm lucky. 
      Who wouldn't consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball's greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? 
      Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? 
     Sure, I'm lucky.

     Gehrig chose to talk about the wonderful things that have happened to him for which he is so grateful:

     “When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift - that's something.
     “When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies - that's something. 
     “When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter – that’s something. 
     “When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body - it's a blessing. 
     “When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed - that's the finest I know.

      Finally, Gehrig qualifies his “bad break with an amazing statement:

     “So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for.”

     Gehrig was an Iron Horse on the field, but he was an even greater one off the field. Faced with a terminal illness, he proclaimed: I've got an awful lot to live for.”
     We can all gain inspiration from Gehrig. Whatever we’re going through, let's recall Gehrig's words. In fact, why dont all of us get in the habit of doing this everyday?

     Heres my own version of the ice bucket challenge. I call it the nice bucket challenge.

     Get an empty bucket. Fill it with NICE things. Fill it with personal reflections and mementos, inspired by Gehrig:

*  I consider myself the luckiest person on the face of this earth because …. 
    Recall all the amazing things that have happened in your life, like Gehrig did. Write them down on pieces of paper, and fill your bucket.

*  When [blank happened], that’s something.  
    Make a list of all the that's somethings in your life, the circumstances that youve been blessed with, like Gehrig did. Write them down on pieces of paper, and fill your bucket.

*   Sure, I’m lucky ... Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known … 
    Recall the people in your life who have had an amazing impact on you, like Gehrig did. Write down their names on pieces of paper, and a few words on why they are so special. Fill your bucket.

       Keep your bucket in a special place where you can be alone with your thoughts. Feel free to decorate your bucket, too. Fill it with all things nice from your life -- words, photos, souvenirs and mementos. Fill it anytime and fill it often. And if you have a friend who is going through a tough time, challenge him or her to do the Nice Bucket Challenge.    
        After a while, well begin to notice our buckets are not so empty anymore. Because we've got an awful lot to live for.

       Find your wings … at any age.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Follow your bliss ... Don't be afraid ...
Doors will open

By Antoinette Rainone 

       My friend Kathy recently told me that my desire to inspire people to “find your wings” reminds her of mythologist Joseph Campbell’s telling his students during the ‘70s to “follow your bliss.”
       I had read Campbell’s “The Power of Myth” in college and watched Bill Moyers interviews with Campbell on PBS, back in the day. Decades later, I find myself writing this blog to inspire people to “find their wings.”
       Perhaps my bliss was following me all along?
       When I looked up The Joseph Campbell Foundation, I found a partial interview between Moyers and Campbell.

       Bill Moyers: Do you ever have the sense of … being helped by hidden hands?
       Joseph Campbell: All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time – namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

       The word "bliss” is key. Notice Campbell did NOT say...
       ...“follow the road to success
                  ...“follow the college major that leads to a job” 
             ...“follow an organized and well laid-out plan for a lucrative career” 
                         ...“follow the money trail.”  

      On the contrary, he said, simply: “follow your bliss.”
    defines bliss as:

                     supreme happiness!

                                 utter joy!

                             the joy of heaven!

      And Merriam-Webster Dictionary adds these synonyms for bliss:

                Elysian fields!

                                    Kingdom Come!

                        New Jerusalem!


      Wow. Imagine advising a high-school senior not to stress out over SAT scores, the process of college admission, and declaring the right major that will lead to a lucrative career? Imagine, instead, telling the high-school senior, “Now, just sit back, relax, and day dream about life for awhile. Listen to your heart. Follow your bliss.”
       That is exactly what Joseph Campbell encouraged people to do. And so do I.

      Find your wings! Find the supreme happiness in life that makes your spirit soar with utter joy! 

      Listen to your heart and seek out that special something that lifts your feet off the ground to a place where you experience the joy of Heaven!
          Follow your bliss!

       As the wisest Man of all once said, “But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

        My friend Kathy, by the way, is following her bliss. She and her husband Dan are following their deep desire to help people by opening their own home-healthcare business. Through Comfort Keepers, they will offer services that help people age safely in their own homes. Kathy and Dan's personal experiences of caring for several of their own aging and ill relatives had given them a deeper understanding of the issues facing seniors living at home. Now, they will spread their caretaker experience to help many others. 

         Kathy and Dan are finding their wings … at any age. They have reached an age that they could easily kick back and take it easy. And yet, the part of their beings that define their bliss — the passion burning within that makes their spirits soar with utter joy — is to embark on a venture that will make a real difference in people’s lives. And, in turn, their desire is to help those people experience their own supreme happiness.
         How about you? Won't you share your stories of bliss with us? 

         Find your wings … at any age.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014



     It was my Mom who suggested: "You should take tango lessons. Remember you always wanted to dance the tango?" 

     Dance the tango? Seriously? 

     I  was 36 and recently divorced -- with no partner! I should dance the most romantic dance on earth -- NOW?


     Or was it? Mom was suggesting I tap into my true passions. She was encouraging me to do something I had always yearned to do, yet had never done. 

     Although it seemed absurd to take tango lessons at the very moment in time that I had no partner, maybe ... just maybe ... this was the perfect time.
     I invite you to read my story ("Perfect Partners," GUIDEPOSTS, July 2014), and find out what happened when I took that leap of faith into the 'absurd.'

    Then, come back here. 

    * Is there something you've always dreamed of doing, yet haven't done? 

    * Have you made various excuses as to why you couldn't possibly follow your dreams?

    * Have you ever thought of taking a leap of faith? 

    I love Nike's trademark -- "just do it." 

    We have a limited time on this earth. JUST DO IT, ALREADY! 

    There are so many reasons we don't just do it. Here are a few.

    * Fear of the unknown. (What if I look like a fool trying to tango?)

    * Intimidation. (So-and-so would be so much better dancing the tango than me!)

    * No time. (Sorry, I just don't have one hour a week to try something new and exciting that could possibly change my life forever!)

    When it came closer to the date of publication of my GUIDEPOSTS story, the art director contacted me about wearing a red dress for the photoshoot. 

    I was hoping I could have given them photos of my dancing the tango 14 years ago -- minus the extra pounds!

    But GUIDEPOSTS' style is to take photographs of people as they look when writing their stories. 

    And so the worries ensued.

   * Fear of the unknown. (What if my hips can't squeeze into a tango dress?)

   * Intimidation. (So-and-so would look so much better than me in a tango dress!)

   * Feeling absurd. (Can a plus-size woman even dance the tango?)

    How could I prepare for this photoshoot? Scenes from "I Love Lucy" popped into my head. 

    Remember the episode when Lucy crazily attempts to shed 12 pounds in two days so she can fit into the size-12 dress to dance the Cuban-Pete number with Ricky? 
    Maybe if I stopped eating bread, pasta and Doritos, I, too, could fit into the tango dress! Chick-chicka-BOOM!

    Then I realized I was missing the whole point of my very own story. My story was about how I followed my dreams. 

     Fourteen years and many pounds later, I was still following my dreams. I didn't have to be skinny. I didn't have to be perfect.
     I had to be me. 

     I had to show that I am who I am today because I took that leap of faith and just did it.

     And so I went to the photoshoot with a renewed state of mind. 

     Upon arriving at the studio...what did I see on the building across the street? 

     "Follow Your Dreams," written in graffiti. I laid the roses I brought along for the shoot on the ground and snapped the photo you see at the top of this page.

    Then I stepped into the studio, beaming, ready to tango.

    Find your wings ... at any age.


Sunday, April 20, 2014



    The question posed to me from Guideposts editor, Diana Aydin, was an intriguing one. Diana, who edits my stories at Guideposts, told me she was launching a new blog called "Lunch-Time Miracles" on She asked me if I'd be willing to participate.

    How would you define a miracle, and has a miracle (big or small) ever happened to you?”

    Have I ever experienced a miracle! This question was right up my alley. I believe LIFE itself is one, great-big miracle! 

    So, sure. I've experienced a miracle. And I experience a miracle everyday I wake up, breathing, ready to face a new day!

    Life from the very earliest stages of life to the last are miracles. 

    A fetus sucking her thumb in utero… 
    A newborn’s first cries… 
    Children’s laughter in a playground... 
    Two people falling in love… 
    A grown child helping to feed an elderly parent… 
    Entering into eternal life...

    All the seemingly simple events that make up every day life are miracles that God has bestowed upon humanity. And we should embrace each one of them with gratitude.

    And there's another miracle. 


    Diana asked me, How do you explain miracles to your son?

      I told her that I teach Catechism to second-graders and am preparing my son and his class for the sacrament of First Holy Communion. Holy Communion is a miracle! What happens at the altar when the Divine meets the Host at every Mass is a miracle because this is when we receive Jesus Himself.

     The resurrection of Christ from the dead is the biggest supernatural act to ever happen in the history of humanity – and it happened for everyone of us. 

     We can celebrate this miracle, open to us all, every Easter, at every Mass, during every Holy Communion. What’s most amazing is that this is a miracle every one of us can experience every minute – in our hearts.

     The great miracle of Christ’s resurrection from the dead begets another great miracle – the miracle of eternal life. “I am the Resurrection and the Life,” Jesus said. “Whoever believes in Me shall not see death.”

    There is no miracle, ever, more awesome than that!

    And we need to remember something very important. The Easter miracle would never have happened without sacrifice.

    The sacrifice of God our Father to send His only Son down to earth. 

    The sacrifice of Mary to say 'yes' to God in giving birth to His Son. 

    The sacrifice of Joseph to trust God to marry Mary when she was pregnant with Child. 

     The sacrifice of Jesus to shed His blood on a wooden cross.

     The greatest miracles in our lives, too, stem from sacrifice. Check out "Miracles in Disguise" to read my story on how a very special sacrifice brought about a deep and abiding love in my family.

    As (very-soon-to-be Saint) Pope John Paul II once said:

   “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song!”

    Find Your Wings ... at any age!

Friday, March 14, 2014


By Antoinette Rainone
       This blog is dedicated to helping people find their passion(s) in life and encouraging them to live their dreams.  As we surf the web, scan thousands of channels, and glance at the covers of consumer magazines, we encounter many stories of successful people who appear to be living their dreams.
        Many of us even try to emulate these smiling, beautiful, fashionable, wealthy, “successful” people.
        I’d like to clarify that finding your wings is not necessarily being successful – at least in terms of what a lot of people consider successful.
        “Successful doesn’t mean looking amazing because you dangerously dropped 100 pounds in two weeks. Successful doesn’t mean getting a promotion to a dream job or a high position ... if you had to throw your friends under the bus in order to get it. 
         Most people who are truly living their dreams are not people you see on the cover of magazines. They are not the stars of reality shows. They are not guests on popular talk shows.
        They are moms who have given up the “partner track” at the law firm in order to spend more time raising their children.
        They are the dads who shuffle their schedules so they can coach their children’s little league teams.
         They are the teenagers who take time away from social media in order to visit elderly people at a nearby nursing home.
         They are people who have found real meaning in life and who choose to live with integrity, love, and respect.

Finding your wings IS NOT
      …Being perfect.
      …Compromising your morals and ethics.
      …Getting what you want, at any cost.
      …Being super competitive and cutthroat to ‘make it to the top.’
      …Getting promoted by backstabbing your friends, then ditching them
      for a new inner circle.
      …Dazzling the paparazzi at charity fundraisers.
      …Grabbing everyone's attention to show how far you’ve come, baby.

Finding your wings IS
      …Finding your purpose in life and living it with passion.
      …Getting healthy – not skinny.
      …Finding inner joy.
      …Spreading seeds of love in your everyday life.
      …Cultivating real friendships.
      …Volunteering – behind the scenes – at a soup kitchen.
      …Making a meaningful difference in your family, community, 
      workplace and world.

     True success often does not translate into material wealth. Although it's possible to attain riches, material wealth is never the purpose of someone living her life’s passion. If that passion brings money, fine. If it doesn’t, fine. She’ll do it either way.
     True success is invisible. True success takes place within ourselves.
     When we find our purpose in life, we find joy. And that joy lives inside of us and expresses itself with a smiling soul.

      Be true to yourself … and to others.

      Find your wings…at any age.