Tweaks and Updates

This won’t be such a big post in word count but it is big for me. It’s big because I’m gaining more confidence with each new tool I use or skill I learn.

The big work was done to my main web site – www.pgentile.com.  I added a a few new pages over there as well as a few widgets.  Just a little clean up to make it flow better.  I also tweaked the looks of this blog based on the prompts of Blogging 101.  I’m starting to get the hang of things here.  I hope you’ll check out the web site and let me know what you think.

News from the writing front: I continue to plow through research on one of my projects in preparation for an upcoming meeting with a client.  I’ve got the seeds for a post about my boy Peter.  Be on the look out for it by the weekend.

Finally, I’m preparing to visit my Dad down in North Carolina.  He needs some help going through some papers, trinkets, etc after my step-mom’s passing a few months ago.  It will be good to see him again.  More reports will come in from the Southern front over the weekend.

Dad and I

Vintage! Dad and I

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The Net Is Always There

So it has been about a month since I decided to take the leap of faith and go into this freelance writing with everything I’ve got.  Starting something new is always scary.  “If I take the leap, will the net be there?”  “What if I fail?”

Wayne Gretzky said “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  I’ve got nothing to lose at this juncture in my life and God seems to have me here on this road for a reason. So ….

I managed to start a new blog and created a web site.  I have to tell you that creating the web site was not a user-friendly experience but like anything else once I got it up I was pleased that I was able to learn a new skill with the help of tech support.  It reminds me of the closing scene in My Cousin Vinny when Vinny complains that he wanted to win his first case without any help and Lisa sarcastically tells him that he wins case after case with other people’s help and at the end he has to say “Thank you”. What a nightmare!

So that leads into this past week where I ordered new business cards.  I must say they look nice. What do you think?

Business Card 2015 Flip Business Card 2015

Then I garnered a couple of writing assignments.  One was an announcement/update of information for my church and distributed to local newspapers.  The second assignment was to write an article for the local papers about a Valentine’s Day dinner/music event at our church.  The third assignment was drafting a description and “promotional” piece for a new discipleship program for our church.  The first assignment was completed and drafts of the others have been circulated for review.

I have a one or two longer term projects also underway.

I don’t know why I am ever surprised by God’s plan … (He’s probably shaking His head and chuckling.  “Silly people.”).  He never fails; when I follow His lead the net is always there. Always!

Advice to Writers

Copyright Pamela Stopfer Used with permission

I received some very salient wisdom from a writer I admire, Thomas Merton.

He was asked for some advice by a new writer and here is the encouragement he dispensed:

1. Never write down to anyone.

2. Never write what you think others want to hear.

3. Write what is deepest in your own heart and what you know is also deep in theirs.

My paraphrase of this:

1. Be humble.

2. Don’t pander and be courageous.

3. Be genuine and speak of true things.

I hope my writing will due homage to this sapient advice.  If I ever venture off this path I hope that you, the reader, will remind me of this wisdom.

Changes

Change is inevitable they say.  It has also been said that everything changes.

But we humans (despite our zombie-like attraction to the latest and the greatest gizmo, fashion or fad) tend to dislike change or at least too much of it.  Perhaps that is why we gravitate to the familiar surroundings of home.  Although we love to go on vacations there is a sense of relief when we walk in the front door of our cottage. There must be some truth in it – after all, Frank Sinatra sings that “It’s oh so nice to come home.”

Maybe I have generalized  things a bit here but speaking for myself change can be terrifying!  It sometimes requires me to step off the ledge and pray that the net will be there!  It requires me to leave the land that I know so well and venture off into the fog of the unknown.  And once I get to this new place I must reconcile myself to the fact that, as Thomas Merton said, I can no longer live here as I lived there.

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Copyright Pamela Stopfer Used with permission

Same can be said about my adventures in writing.  It’s something I enjoy but never really tried with any seriousness or sense of purpose.  But changes in my life have created the opportunity to spread my writing wings and leave the nest.  I hope that it will be a satisfying and soul-nourishing undertaking.

I have been on a Thomas Merton kick lately.  Here’s something he wrote that really resonated with me and gives me courage to take the next step on the journey.  He wrote that “there is one basic idea that should be kept in mind in all changes we make in life, whether of career or anything else.  We should decide [to change] in view of becoming more real, entering more authentically into direct contact with life, living more as a free and mature human person, able to give myself more to others, able to understand myself and the world better.”

I hope that I can embrace the coming changes in me and trust that the path will lead me to wholeness and wellness; I trust that these changes will make me a better man today than I was yesterday.

Unearthly Gifts

Yesterday was Christmas.

We went as a family to a Christmas Eve gathering at our church. Songs and stories – stories from the several “background” characters in the Nativity.  We heard from Elizabeth, the innkeeper, Joseph and several others.  It was a very moving experience to hear their interpretations, their thoughts from their vantage points. My eyes welled up and I got choked up on several occasions during the gathering.

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First Christmas Photo

I am presently leaving one career and embarking on a different path.  It can be a little overwhelming and anxious.  I have been wrestling with this leap for a few weeks now and I have gone back and forth on it. I discussed this new path – a path of freelance writing – with my partner, my wife Eileen.  She is always supportive and I love her for it.  For Christmas she gave me a beautiful leather portfolio to hold my pens, paper and business cards.  Absolutely perfect!! I never dreamed of asking for something like this but she knew.

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Kris reads his Christmas letter

My son Kristofer is from Latvia.  He is 17. We recently completed a year-long process of adopting him so this year has been a year of “firsts” for him.  The adjustment has not been easy for us or for him but we are making progress.  His sister lives with a lovely family in Missouri.  She sent him a remote-controlled helicopter and a letter.  The letter was heartfelt and touching from an older sister to her younger brother; behind the words of the letter was a palpable acknowledgement of how much each of them have been through to get to where they are today.  It also held out hope for a future filled with love and promises for each of them.  It was written entirely in English and he read every word out loud.

My mom passed away fourteen years ago just before Christmas. The holiday has never quite been the same since although it has improved with the passage of time.  Every year for the past several years my cousin Sue and i make the long drive to upstate New York to pay our respects to our Moms – sisters side by side in life and in final rest. This year Sue presented me with two gifts from those lovely sisters! Sue found a set of talking, plush toy, Three StMom Graduationooges heads that her Mom  had purchased for me many years ago but never had the chance to give them to me.  I LOVE the Three Stooges and so did my Aunt Margaret.  Then I unwrapped two photos of my Mom from her high school graduation.  My Aunt had these treasures in her possession and Sue graciously gifted them to me. There are no words that can adequately express the flood of emotions.

The best gifts are the ones that come from the heart.