Pennsylvania Bridges – March 2019 – “The Lucky Ones”

march2019coverThe March 2019 edition of Pennsylvania Bridges“The Lucky Ones” – is now available online and in print.

Thoughts from our Editor: March 2019 – The Lucky Ones

Like many people, I am fascinated by history and am particularly intrigued by the history of my own family, and the stories of the ancestors who came before me, who lived and loved in times go by. On my father’s side of the family, we can trace our roots back to an ancient Scottish clan, Clan Currie, with our own unique tartan and family crest. On my mother’s side, the branches of our family tree include some names of note, and I can count among my departed relatives both American folk hero Davy Crockett, “King of the Wild Frontier,” and John Sevier, the first governor of Tennessee.

Then there are the stories my late grandmother Eleanor used to tell me about how her “people” hailed from Ireland and immigrated to the United States after the Great Potato Famine.

“They were so hungry and so poor back in Ireland, Carla,” she would say, “They would pass around the one potato they had and sniff it before they split it up.”

Now, I don’t know how much of that was folklore versus truth, and I know my grandmother had a flair for the dramatic and a tendency to exaggerate details. However, I do know her ancestors were of Irish descent and arrived in the United States in the mid 19th century.

There are a lot of stereotypes about Irish people, much like there are common misconceptions about all ethnicities. Our food is bland, our hair is red, and we’re all affable, violent alcoholics. Then there’s the perception that all Irish people are lucky.

Now, admittedly, I was born with fiery red hair and an equally fiery spirit, but I am mostly non-confrontational and I abhor violence. Having said that, I’ve had extraordinary luck throughout most of my 42 years on this planet. Not only do I have a penchant for winning contests – half the take, basket auctions, etc. – I’ve had my fair share of sheer, dumb luck, of being fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time when an opportunity has presented itself. So, whether it’s related to my Irish ancestry or not, there’s no denying I’m one of the lucky ones.

That being said, I mostly believe people make their own luck. They set goals, they work hard, and they stay focused on their objectives until they achieve them. Success is not contingent on some magical, elusive quality found at the end of a rainbow, rather it is the end result of a combination of inspiration and perspiration, of dreaming of the impossible and then setting about to make it possible.

This edition is dedicated to those individuals who have – rather than waiting for fortune to smile upon them – found ways to take charge of and mold their own destinies.

Until next month,

Carla E. Anderton

February 2019 – Straight from the Heart

pabridges_february2019_coveThe February 2019 edition of Pennsylvania Bridges is now available online and in print.

Pennsylvania Bridges January 2019: New Year, New You!

pabridges_january2019_cea_wThe January 2019 edition of Pennsylvania BridgesNew Year, New You! – is now available online and in print.

Thoughts from our Editor: January 2019: New Year, New You!

Resolution2I’m back! I don’t know if you noticed my monthly musings have not appeared in the last few issues of Pennsylvania Bridges, but I want to thank you for your patience with my absence as I had to put them temporarily on hold. I spent the last few months adjusting to a new, much busier schedule and an increased workload that left me with limited time to do any writing of my own.

As much as I cherished the experience, I’m grateful for a short break and an opportunity to recharge and reconnect with friends, family, and you, loyal readers of Pennsylvania Bridges. I missed the opportunity to put my thoughts down on paper and share them with you.

Speaking of what’s on my mind, it’s a subject I know is on yours, as well. As the new year approaches, many of us find ourselves thinking of resolutions we’d like to keep in the coming months, of ways we’d like to improve ourselves.

Mine are as follows. After a long semester spent grabbing too many quick bites at Burger King between my classes, one of my resolutions is to improve my eating habits by choosing healthier options and packing my lunch at home more often than not. This will require me to step up my game in the kitchen, which I am, to date, not known for.

I’m also hoping to find ways to get more exercise, and not just the physical kind. I’m searching for ways to exercise my mind, whether it’s by visiting more museums, attending more cultural events, adding to my overall base of knowledge, or learning new skills. Know an exhibit I should visit, a play I should see, a book I should read, or a video I should watch? Email me at carla@pabridges.com or leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Above all, I hope to exercise more kindness toward my fellow man, and less anger in general. I will seek to accomplish this by remembering that every single person I meet – whether it’s a student in my classroom or a clerk at my local Walmart – is facing a struggle I know nothing about. I realize that’s a cliche, but it rings no less true.

On a final note, when I do encounter hostility or rudeness, I will remind myself that I have a choice as to how to respond, with unkindness or with dignity, grace, and compassion. May I challenge all of you to make a similar effort to find ways to treat others with more civility in the year ahead.

We at Pennsylvania Bridges wish you and yours a joyous and prosperous new year!

Until next month,

Carla E. Anderton

Editor-in-Chief

December 2018 – “Goodness and Light”

pabridges_December2018_coveThe December 2018 edition of Pennsylvania Bridges“Goodness and Light” – is now available online and in print.

Pennsylvania Bridges November 2018

pabridges_november2018_cea1The November 2018 edition of Pennsylvania Bridges“Those Who Serve” – is now available online and in print.

Pennsylvania Bridges – October 2018 – “Good Spirits”

pabridges_october2018_cea92818_web-1The October 2018 edition of Pennsylvania Bridges is now available online & in print.

Pennsylvania Bridges – September 2018 – “A Balancing Act”

pabridges_september_coverThe September edition of Pennsylvania Bridges “A Balancing Act” – is now available online and in print.

Thoughts from our Editor: September 2018

balances_commerce_186107About six years ago, my first – and, to date, last – novel, was published by a small press. Titled The Heart Absent, it was a story about Jack the Ripper in love, a tale of My Fair Lady gone horribly wrong.

I’ve always been fascinated by the Jack the Ripper crimes and began writing the novel when I was in my mid-20s. However, life intervened, and it wasn’t until I was in my early 30s a motive and a means to finish the novel presented itself in the form of Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program. In the program, in order to earn a Master of Fine Arts, I had to produce a novel deemed suitable for publication.

Seems simple enough, no? Open a vein and pour your heart out on a page, then on another, and another, until you’ve bled yourself dry and, yet, in your hands you hold a living, breathing story, a creation that sprang solely from you. Doesn’t sound so simple now, does it?

The truth is writing is hard work. I often tell my students that writing is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration and that the most difficult part of writing is actually doing it, the literal act of putting your derriere in the chair and your fingers on the keyboard. You have to treat it like a job and carve out hours in your schedule to devote to the task.

Combined with the realities of life – work, family, and other real-world commitments – maintaining a regular schedule for writing can be daunting at best and near impossible at worst. Like Dr. Lee McClain, one of my instructors at Seton Hill told me, you have to strike a careful balance between life, work, and play, and the only way to accomplish that balancing act is to learn how to tell people “no.”

I’ve never been shying about stealing or sharing great advice, and it’s a nugget I impart to my students as well. Learn to say no, I tell my own students nowadays, usually in the first week of the semester. Don’t be afraid to tell people “not right now, I’m studying and/or writing.” Guard your time like the priceless gem it is, treasure each moment for there will never be another like it.

Speaking of moments, the ones I spent as a graduate student at Seton Hill were among some of my happiest, which is one of several reasons I was thrilled just last month when I was asked to come back to campus, this time as an instructor of writing for a new generation of students. Five days a week you can now find me up at the crack of dawn, driving to the “Hill” to teach composition classes to Seton Hill freshmen before then driving to Uniontown, where I also teach at a community college. It’s left me with a lot less time to devote to Pennsylvania Bridges, and in order to remain the quality of the publication you deserve and have come to expect, I’ve been thankful for the assistance of my fellow editors, our amazing team of writers, and at least one good friend.

Walking this tightrope isn’t easy, but nothing worth having ever is, has been, or ever will be. Thanks for reading!

Until next month, Carla E. Anderton