Category Archives: editor’s note

Helping Hands, Helping Hearts

Call it vanity, but I’ve always been proud of my hands. Slender with long fingers, they’re what my grandmother used to pronounce “piano player hands,” in spite of the fact I quit taking piano lessons at the age of 11 after a year and a half of frustrated attempts to skillfully tickle the ivories. Truly, I am the musical black sheep of my family. My mother is such a talented musician and singer she landed a full opera scholarship, and I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, much to the chagrin of all those who’ve suffered through my few pathetic efforts to sing at local open mics. You can come out of hiding now, for I’m never going to sing outside of my shower again.

Instead, I found my instrument in a computer keyboard, and there are moments when I’m writing that my fingers seem to dance with all the grace of a prima ballerina, the steady, comforting click clack of the keys beautiful music to my ears.

These hands have written countless articles, essays, poems, plays, and a full length novel. They’ve taken the work of other writers and polished it to a high sheen. They helped me to become the first member of my family to graduate with a terminal degree. They’ve enabled me to keep a roof over my head and feed my family. With these hands, I guided a person from infancy to adulthood, and along the way I joined them together with my soulmate’s during our wedding ceremony in 2014. And, finally, these hands built this publication you’re holding in your hands right now.

Sadly, roughly six months ago, my left hand became quite uncooperative, having succumbed to the ravages of Rheumatoid Arthritis, and typing has become a real chore. As with any obstacle, you make allowances, and you adjust and adapt, but the reality is my mind races along at a rate my fingers can’t match. The joy I once found in the very act of writing has been replaced by fear of the pain, and the result is I’m a lot less productive than I used to be. Surgery’s an option, but it will have to wait for a more optimum time.

In the meantime, as mentioned above, I’ve adapted. I’m training my PC to recognize my voice, as well as using the voice to text recorder on my smartphone. Touchscreens are easier to manipulate than a keyboard, so I frequently write articles and make lists on my tablet. It’s slow going, but it gets the job done. Still, for all my efforts to adjust, there are days I stare longingly at my monitor like an animal peering through the bars of a cage, feeling like a captive in my own mind.

Outside of my desire to share my voice, my very ability to create is compromised. For example, my husband, out of love and concern for my safety, will no longer allow me to chop vegetables for fear the result will resemble a crime scene in a slasher flick.

Those days when I feel particularly helpless, I’ve come to realize, those are the days I have to ask for help. And, like my childhood attempts to pursue a musical career, accepting my limitations and asking for assistance is not one of my talents. It takes courage to admit you need help, and – for me – bravery isn’t always abundant.

What I’ve learned through this process, however, is most people have a helping heart and are happy to lend a hand. All I have to do is ask. Where need exists, generosity provides.

Nowhere is this more true than here in southwestern Pennsylvania. This issue is dedicated to those with helping hearts and hands, who devote themselves to caring for others. On behalf of those who often or on occasion need assistance, thank you. Take pride in what you do, and in the good work you do with your hands and your hearts.

Until next month,

Carla E. Anderton

February 2017 Edition: Moments & Milestones

february2017 cover.qxdThe February 2017 edition of Pennsylvania Bridges is now available online & in print.

Moments & Milestones

This month, I am set to reach one of life’s major milestones. On February 23, I will turn 40 years old.

I find this fact astonishing only because I can recall with crystal clarity the day I turned ten, when I thought an eternity would have to pass before I reached the great sum of 15.

Still, I reached that milestone and many others, and 30 years later, here I sit thinking of past accomplishments and future feats yet to be achieved.

Forty seems like an appropriate age to take stock of your existence by counting the milestones along your life’s path. From learning to walk to learning to fly, so many occasions have had a profound impact on me. Giving birth to my favorite person, graduating from college and graduate school, publishing my first novel, and marrying my soulmate a few years back have all been events that shaped me in dramatic ways.

Having said that, what I remember most vividly about the last 20 years or so has not been so much the milestones but rather the moments I’ve shared with friends and loved ones. This is hardly an original concept and I must credit the source, the late Rose Kennedy, who raised a U.S. President and two senators along with six other children. She was also a leading philanthropist who lived to the ripe old age of 104.

“Life isn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments,” she wrote in her autobiography, Times to Remember.

The moments I cherish best have been the most unexpected, and at times have not fit neatly into the narrative I once believed my life would follow.

For everyone official milestone I’ve met, there are hundreds of moments that have eclipsed their standing. This is not to diminish their importance, rather it is emphasize how incredibly rich my life has been to date.

Like anyone, there are instances I’d rather not repeat, difficult lessons learned the hard way. Still, I can’t discount any of them for – without them – my life might have taken an alternate course than the current one.

Speaking of alternate courses, this issue is dedicated to those who go out of their way to help those whose lives have been touched by hardship and/
or tragedy.

In this edition, we honor the first responders on the scene, as well as those who raise their voices on behalf of the silenced. We pay tribute to those who support the downtrodden and the disadvantaged.

In an effort to be a positive force for change, we also are spotlighting organizations and causes to which you can contribute your resources. Even if you don’t have a lot of money, you can still make a difference by volunteering your time to help others in need. Have a spare hour or day? Want to help – among others – hungry children, people with life limiting illnesses or victims of domestic violence? Details about several worthy causes are listed within this month’s pages. Remember, volunteering can be a rewarding solo activity or a great way for families to bond and instill good values in their children’s hearts and minds. No memory is as precious as one that’s made while lifting others up.

Finally, this issue contains over 50 notices of places to go and things to do in the month of February, from celebrating Valentine’s Day at a local restaurant with your special someone to discovering the diversity of artists and performers in your own backyard.

Whether you elect to mark your life by milestones or moments, take time to appreciate the unique beauty of each.

Until next month,

Carla E. Anderton

January 2017: New Beginnings

january2017 cover.qxdThe January 2017 edition of Pennsylvania BridgesNew Beginnings – is now available online & in print.

New Beginnings: January 2017 Editor’s Note

confidenceOne of my all-time favorite actresses is Julie Andrews. I’ll save you the trouble of Googling to see if 2016 took her, too. Fortunately, at 82 years young, she’s still with us. While she appeared in a number of iconic films, one holds a special place in my heart, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music. As far as I’m concerned, everything about this film is amazing, from the masterful performances of Andrews in the role of Maria and her co-stars – particularly Christopher Plummer as the dashing Captain VonTrapp and Peggy Wood as the ever sage Mother Superior – to the infectious tunes that provide the movie’s soundtrack.

Perhaps my favorite scene in The Sound of Music is the one where Maria first travels to the VonTrapp estate from the familiar confines of the convent, where she thought she’d live out the rest of her days.

“What will this day be like? I wonder. What will my future be?” she asks, her voice a mixture of uncertainty and eagerness. As she approaches the palatial home and prepares herself to meet “a Captain with seven children” she ponders “what’s so fearsome about that?” and sets off with renewed confidence.

It’s an inspiring instance of resolution and determination that tells the audience what sort of person Maria is, during which their view of her shifts from flighty and scatterbrained to confident and composed.

For me, however, the most motivational part of this scene is at the beginning, when Maria exits the convent, bags in tow, and prepares to leave behind the only life she’s ever known.

As the gates of the abbey close behind her, Maria says, appropriately, “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.”

My first viewing of the film was in 1984, so long ago that my grandmother actually rented a VCR from our local Kroger grocery store so we could watch the movie on VHS. (That’s right, I said “rented” as, at the time, most working class people couldn’t afford to own VCRs.)

In the years since, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve held on to that sentiment, that when God closes a door, somewhere a window opens. I uttered it to myself the day I left my hometown at the tender age of 22, filled with anticipation of the possibilities that awaited me in California, Pennsylvania. I repeated the phrase over a decade later, when I made another earth moving change. Only a couple of months ago, I had to say “Au Revoir” to a place I considered my second home for 16 years, and as that door closed behind me for the last time, I kept in mind the thought of the window that’s opened for me again and again, just when I’ve needed to set my sights on something new.

If you’re reading this, you’re looking through my personal window. Thank you, and don’t mind the dust! With the shift from bimonthly to monthly, we’re adding lots of awesome, original content as well as expanding our current offerings. One example has been a marked increase in event listings. Looking for something to do, close to home, in January or early February? We’ve got you covered.

2016 was a challenging year for a lot of people in myriad ways. Maybe it was a good year for you, maybe not. Maybe you’ve had doors close behind you, too, and you’ve found yourself searching for an open window. May 2017 be a year of renewal for you, of change and new beginnings.

Speaking of new beginnings, this issue is dedicated to those who have set off on innovative courses, just as the ever cheerful Maria did in The Sound of Music. May confidence, too, be their guide!

Until next month, Carla E. Anderton

Ghosts of Christmas Future

berriesIn our two years publishing Pennsylvania Bridges, I’ve always regretted the fact we never had the opportunity to publish a November issue, given we began as a bi-monthly publication.

A Thanksgiving issue always provides the perfect chance to reflect on all we’ve been grateful for in the past year, and to envision all we might give thanks for in the coming year.

So, this year, I want to express my tremendous appreciation to so many, even as we move into the month of December, because this month I also get to say a special thanks to you, our loyal readers, and also to our talented, dedicated writers and staff.

Before I get carried away with asking folks to come on stage, however, let me take a brief moment to make an exciting announcement.

Beginning this month, we will be publishing Pennsylvania Bridges every month. Yep, you heard it right, and you heard it here first. Every month, we’ll be bringing you the best in arts, entertainment, education, lifestyle and special event coverage in the region. We’ll also be expanding our already extensive coverage of local churches, area non-profits, and other philanthropic organizations geared towards helping others, as well we increasing our front row and behind the scenes presence at area arts and entertainment events.

Got a story? You know how to find us. We’re on the web at pabridges.com, as well as on Facebook & Twitter.

Want us to print your announcement? Let us know.

Like to write? Get in touch. We’re always looking for a few good people. Have a photo you want to share? Let us know.

While we’ll be temporarily cutting back on our page count per issue, we’ll be dramatically increasing our circulation, as well as doubling the number of times we’re printed each year.

What that means is twice the audience for your special event or business, with an edition being produced every month.

Getting back to people I need to thank, however, this issue wouldn’t have been possible without the journalistic efforts of Fred Terling, Assistant Editor and Staff Writer. You’re the best, Tomato.

Technology columnist Eric Worton provided support in the form of [regular] meals, as well as an in-depth report on how to cut the cord using Roku devices to explore the best in entertainment programming.

Reanna Roberts of our exclusive series Exploring the Paranormal gave us a unique perspective on the mental state of that classic Christmas curmudgeon, Ebenezer Scrooge.

Pastor B.T. Gilligan always pens a thought provoking reflection on matters of faith, and this month’s was especially moving. I dare you not to cry reading it. I certainly shed a tear or two.

In short, this issue, like others before it, is jam packed full of goodness.
Based on your feedback, you guys feel the same way. The message is clear: You really like us! Thank you! Keep those letters and emails coming. We pride ourselves on being YOUR paper, and we want to be your voice.

Simply put, as we enter the holidays, I feel so grateful, for our advertisers, for our writers, and for all of you, whether this is your first time reading Pennsylvania Bridges or whether you’re already a loyal fan. Thank you!

As we prepare to celebrate a season with great meaning for so many, I can only hope that we show each other kindness, decency, and the very best of what we can be. Merry Christmas, and Happiest of New Year’s!

See you in January. Until next month,
Carla E. Anderton