Category Archives: editor’s note

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

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

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

Thoughts from Our Editor: August 2018 Edition

b6_heart_of_flowers_2912I love my job. I’ve said it before in this space, and I’ll likely say it again. Perhaps my favorite part of the job falls on the first weekend of the month, when we distribute the publication throughout the region.

To reduce costs –  and frankly – to get the heck out of my office for a change, I often go out on deliveries myself, and there’s no greater feeling in the world than getting to witness how eager people are to read each new edition. I’ve always been a multitasker, and even as we’re distributing the current issue, I’m always on the lookout for future stories. About a month ago, I encountered a story idea in our travels, a heartrending account of tragedy, perseverance, and hope I just knew we had to share with you.

Maybe you’ve seen the film A League of Their Own, in which Tom Hanks famously tells Bitty Schram “There’s no crying in baseball.” I love the film and that classic line perhaps even more, and it’s a saying I’ve adapted for the offices of Pennsylvania Bridges.

“There’s no crying in Journalism,” I often say, and up until we began putting together this edition, it was a saying that rang true.

Then one of our contributors, who often accompanies me on deliveries, spotted a flier at one of the area restaurants where we drop off copies each month.

A quick search on Facebook revealed more details, and I was soon introduced to Roxanne Sweany, one of the subjects of our lead story, which you can find on page 3.

Roxanne and her husband Jordan are remarkable people who’ve triumphed in the face of unspeakable loss, and it was inspiring to learn more about them.

It was also heartbreaking. The writer who penned the piece cried writing it, and I cried reading it. Then I shed some more tears when I was laying out the article and looking at the photos that accompanied it. Finally, I’m getting a little misty eyed just thinking about it now. Needless to say, my supply of tissues has been seriously depleted in the last couple of weeks.

Speaking of tissues, before you read Roxanne and Jordan’s story, I highly suggest stocking up on your own box of Kleenex™. You’ll need them, because you’re going to shed hot tears of sadness, too. You’re going to cry, and then you’re going to take some action based on what you read. My hope is that action is going to be to reach out to this inspirational couple and contribute to the cause close to their heart, Ada’s Blessings. Again, you can find their story and details on how to support the important work this organization is doing on page 3.

On a final note, I would be remiss if I didn’t also encourage you to keep reading past page 3, and enjoy all the fascinating stories we’ve highlighted in this month’s edition.

Thanks for reading!

Until next month,

Carla E. Anderton

Thoughts from our Editor: Land of the Free

stars_stripes_296498As I write this, July is fast approaching, and my Facebook feed is filled with photos of friends on vacation. Some are sunbathing on beaches, while others are dancing in the rain at music festivals. While I certainly don’t begrudge them their fun, I must admit their photos of frolicking out of doors are vivid reminders to me that I’ve been stuck indoors, working on this edition, for what’s starting to seem like an eternity.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love what I do, so much so that I hardly even consider it work. But when deadlines loom and I’m forced indoors for an extended period, I get a little stir crazy, and the urge to roam is intense.

I love to travel, and I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve had the opportunity to travel widely. From the banks of the Mississippi River, where I spent my formative years, to the Monongahela Valley region I now call home, I’ve made numerous stops along the way. I’ve witnessed the plunging rapids of Niagara Falls, hiked beneath the towering trees of the Redwood Forest, and swam in the Gulf of Mexico, just to name a few of the experiences I’ve had touring this marvelous land.

While I’ve not traveled all 50 states, I’ve come close to visiting most of them, and as an American, my heart swells with pride to know I live in such a beautiful and diverse country.

At this time of year, as we prepare to celebrate our independence on the Fourth of July, I think it’s appropriate for all Americans to reflect on the ideals that truly make this country great. Ideals like freedom of expression spring to mind, without which I wouldn’t be penning this column or – for that matter – putting out a monthly publication.

Because I so cherish that freedom, I admire others who also express themselves, whether it be through the written word, song and dance, or some other medium. More often than not, the results of those expressions mirror the magnificence of America itself. This edition is inspired by these expressions, and by the people who exercise their freedom to have a voice, whether it be in their local communities or on the world stage.

Until next month,

Carla E. Anderton

Pennsylvania Bridges June 2018 Edition – Lean on Me

june-2018-cover_9xThe June 2018 edition of Pennsylvania Bridges – Lean on Me – is now available online and in print.

May 2018 Edition – “Coming Back to Life”

may-2018-coverThe May 2018 edition of Pennsylvania Bridges“Coming Back to Life” – is now available online and in print.

February 2018 – “All You Need Is Love”

february 2018 cover.qxdThe February 2018 edition of Pennsylvania Bridges“All You Need is Love” – is now available online and in print.

Thoughts from our Editor – February 2018 – “All You Need is Love”

IMG_0786I just left my husband. He was lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to an IV, with a steady parade of doctors and nurses in and out of the room, checking his vitals and making notes on their chart.

Before you all nominate me for the Worst Wife of the Millenium, please be advised that he’s on the mend, and he’s in the best possible hands under the circumstances. His fever is down, his various counts are up, and he’s resting, storing up much needed energy.

Meanwhile, I’m back in the office wrapping up the February issue because that’s what I do. Just like the U.S. Postal Service or the Maytag repairman, we at Pennsylvania Bridges put out an issue every month, without fail, come rain or shine, snow or hail, or even in sickness or health. I’m here putting the finishing touches on this edition, checking that all the Is are dotted and the Ts are crossed because – if I don’t – I risk the disappointment of 10,000 plus loyal readers.

You see, unlike most daily newspapers and glossy magazines, we aren’t owned by a large corporation, and while I personally believe some of the finest writers in the field grace our pages, we don’t have a large staff. We don’t have a parent company who dictates what we print or what we don’t. We’re a family owned publication, and we’re controlled by only one aim. As we state in our official motto, we believe media should uplift and inspire. That’s why we only print good news about good people.

Long story short, as my husband often says, when you pick up an issue of our publication, tell a friend about us, or you help us achieve our mission by placing an ad for your business or special event, you can feel secure in the knowledge that you’re supporting a truly local business. We’re owned and operated by people like you who are living and working in the southwestern Pennsylvania region, trying to bring a little positivity to people’s lives.

If you are one of those people – and if you’re reading this, you are – please allow me to thank you for supporting our endeavor. You’re the reason we can continue to exist. This isn’t a lucrative business, but your appreciation makes it an infinitely rewarding one.

Before I go, I’ve been asked by our technology columnist and the aforementioned husband to say Tips from TechBoxz is on hiatus this month due to his health issues, but he plans to be back next month with his continuing series on how to get the most from your Alexa device.

Until next month,

Carla E. Anderton

January 2018 – Opportunity Knocks?!?

january-2018-coverThe January 2018 edition of Pennsylvania BridgesOpportunity Knocks?!? – is now available online and in print.