Weiss: RI Authors Give Advice to Graduating College Seniors
Monday, July 02, 2018
Members of the Association of Rhode Island Authors (ARIA) also have insightful advice on aging gracefully in a challenging and changing world to give to the Class of 2018, and some of what the authors would have said if they had been invited to speak follows.
Hopefully, all readers will benefit from the commencement tips and find time to take a look at the authors’ books.
The ABCs of Aging Gracefully
Norman Desmarais, 71, professor emeritus at Providence College, lives in Lincoln and is an active re-enactor and a former librarian. He is the author of “The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in Canada and New England,” “The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in New York” and “The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in New Jersey.” These books intend to provide comprehensive coverage of the confrontations of the American War of Independence and to serve as a guide to the sites. For book details, go to www.revolutionaryimprints.net.
Commencement tips: “It's nice to be important but more important to be nice. Remember that the people you pass climbing the ladder of success will be the same people you meet on the way down. They will often be the people you will need to be successful.
Rick Billings, 59, a retired firefighter and emergency management technician lives in Barrington. He authored and illustrated two children’s books, “The Tragic Tale of Mr. Moofs, a story about the changing relationship between a stuffed toy and a boy’s older sister and more recently “Melba Blue,” a light introduction for children on the works of Edgar Allen Poe and William Shakespeare. For book details, go to www.reddogart.com.
Commencement tips: “What are you waiting for? This is my mantra. I became a firefighter at age 35. I wrote, illustrated and self-published my first book 19 years later. Today, I cycle between 40 and 80 miles each week. I travel. I laugh. I love. Embrace family, nature, health, spirituality, peace, creativity and the purity of the new. What are you waiting for?”
Patricia Hinkley, 73, a former holistic counselor and journey practitioner in private practice, lives in Wakefield. She authored “Chasing Sleep/Lonely Tussles in the Dark,” a book that explores the issues and challenges surrounding sleep deprivation and how to overcome them by changing attitudes and behaviors and “Claiming Space/Finding Stillness that Inspires Action,” a book that invites you to step back from the busy world to uncover the peaceful intelligence, genuine happiness, and capabilities within. For book details, go to www.patriciahinkley.com.
Commencement tips: “Find what you love and do it. Learn about your world and become a part of positive change. Respect and peacefully negotiate with people who differ from you. Know history, government and civics. Involve yourself to make a better world. Trust your heart’s wisdom when deciding what is right. Speak up for it.”
Hank Ellis, 69, formerly employed by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, lives in Exeter. He authored “The Promise: A perilous Journey,” a book appealing to all ages and a must-read for those who love the magic of a childhood adventure. For book details, go to Amazon.
Commencement tips: “Know what is important to you: happiness or wealth. You can have both, but it can be more difficult. Be open to change, roll with the punches and don’t punch back. Always be kind. Be brave and stretch yourself. The greatest advice I can give is to give of yourself. Serve others in all you do. I guarantee amazing results.”
Barbara Ann Whitman, 62, a family support specialist, lives in Johnston. She authored “Have Mercy,” a book about the effects foster care can have on a child. For book details, go to www.facebook.com/BarbaraAnnWhitmanAuthor.
Commencement tips: “Before you can be kind to others, you must first be kind to yourself.
If you want to be honest, start with the person in the mirror. The same principle applies to being authentic, loyal and loving. Being selfless is overrated. Indulge and invest in knowing yourself. Only then will you be ready to share your gifts with the world.”
Etta Zasloff, 70, lives in Hope Valley. She published an alphabet book for all ages on her 70th birthday, “Beginning with Xs and Os: The Evolution of Alphabet.” It’s a child’s first chapter book! Personified letters change, rearrange, and interchange in rhyming stories of origin. For book details, go to ettazasloff.com
Commencement tips: “Live, really live. Look out the window more than in the mirror or at your phone. Explore the world. Engage with people beyond your immediate circle. Pursue your passion with education, experience and practice to mastery. Have the courage to forge your own path and leave a trail for others to follow. Always think of those who follow.”
Harris N. (“Hershey”) Rosen, 85, ran a Pawtucket-based candy company for 40 years before retiring. He lives in Providence, and he authored “My Family Record Book,” providing easy tips on organizing personal information, financial plans and final wishes for seniors, caregivers, estate executors, etc. For book details, go to myfamilyrecordbook.com.
Commencement tips: “Achievement is 90 percent perspiration and 10 percent inspiration. So in life, find your purpose in something you enjoy and don’t be afraid to aim high. Look around for help and value your network of friends you made in college. Persist in realizing your goal, knowing that it’s OK to fail (you will) but not to quit. You’ll get there; I promise.”
BJ Knapp, 44, a former college radio station disc jockey, lives in Coventry. She authored “Beside the Music.” Image if a washed up 80s metal band moved in to your house. It happens to Brenda and Time in “Besides the Music.” Can Brenda be one man’s wife and another man’s muse. For book details, go to www.bjknapp.com.
Commencement tips: “Never forget how to laugh at yourself, how to be silly and how to make others laugh. Laughter is great for your abs, for your soul and for your relationships. And it’s not all about you. Don't turn every situation around so it's about you. Most of the time it's about someone else, and it's up to you to be supportive of that person. They will do the same for you when it really is all about you.”
Alison O'Donnell, 52, a freelance editor, proofreader and ghostwriter, lives in Pawtucket. She authored “Stupid Cupid~ A Survivor's Guide to Online Dating.” The book has a sarcastic slant toward online dating, chronicling 100 really bad dates followed by a moral learned experience from each experience. For book details, go towww.facebook.com/AuthorAlisonODonnell.
Commencement tips: “Do not fear your own power! There are people who will try to beat you down; rise above it. There are people who will use their power to beat you down. Go around it. Then, mentally thank them for the life lesson. There are people who will support you. Show gratitude. Your success will have been earned. Embrace it.”
Michael A. Battey, 65, a podiatrist, lives in East Greenwich. He authored “The Parent Trap, Vol. 1,” the first of a two-volume collection of humorous and insightful observations on contemporary teen parenting. For book details, go to http://www.parenttrapcolumns.com.
Commencement tips: “There is a power to kindness.There is no act, which you can choose, which will be more powerful. It is stronger than the most reasoned logic. It can vanquish the sharpest wit. Deceptive at times and preternaturally puzzling, it is your best ally. It elevates discussions and makes you a better person. It is defining, and it is memorable.”
L. A. Jacob, 50, a government claims auditor for CVS, lives in Central Falls. She authored “Grimaulkin,” a book about a young wizard who was sent to prison for summoning demons. Now he’s out trying to be a better man, but others want to use his knowledge and abilities – against his parole. For book details, go to www.paperangelpress.com/pages/books/grimaulkin.php.
Commencement tips: “I published my first book at 48, but I've been writing since I was 15. Why did I wait so long? Because I was afraid. Afraid of what my family would say about me, of how the book would be received. Here's my advice: Don't wait. Life is too short. Buy the darn shoes you love.”
Phyllis Calvey, 68, an educator and story teller who lives in Bellingham, MA. Her latest book, “The Butterfly Club,” presents real people’s stories of how God can, and does, use signs to communicate His presence to those in need. For book details, go to www.butterflyclubbook.com.
Commencement Tips: “The odds were probably a thousand to one to be published, and yet I quit my job to be a writer. My Dad said, “You could be the one. How much does a book sell for these days? $6.95? When you sell a million, that’s…” But all I heard was the word “when”, it immediately seemed to change the odds!”
For more information about the ARIA, click here.
Herb Weiss, LRI’12, is a Pawtucket writer covering aging, health care and medical issues. To purchase “Taking Charge: Collected Stories on Aging Boldly,” a collection of 79 of his weekly commentaries, go to herbweiss.com. He is a member of ARIA.
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Amanda Clayton, Actress
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Having moved to New York at 19, five days before 9/11, she studied on-camera acting at New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts and eventually moved to Los Angeles to pursue film and TV opportunities in Hollywood.
She appeared in Disney’s “John Carter," multiple TV appearances like NCIS: New Orleans, Major Crimes, and The Mentalist, and as Vinny Pazienza’s sister in “Bleed for This” filmed and based right here in Rhode Island.
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Billy Gilman, Grammy Nominee
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Johanne Killeen, Al Forno
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Jai Rodriguez, Actor
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Rodriguez co-stars in the audience-participation heavy live show with reality TV personality, Kendra Wilkinson, and says the subject matter of the show is perfect for the crowd in Vegas.
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Governor Lincoln Chafee
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Appearing on GoLocal LIVE with GoLocal News Editor Kate Nagle, Chafee said the Raimondo’s transfer of taxpayers dollars to billion dollar companies such as General Electric and Johnson & Johnson was flawed.
“I have never liked corporate welfare. It's unfair to existing businesses…some out of state business comes in and you give them the candy store. I just don’t like it," said Chafee.
Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero
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“The most exciting thing is getting to know the records and getting to know the richness of the documentation that tells our country’s history, starting with the oaths of allegiance signed at Valley Forge by George Washington and the troops, all the way up to the tweets that are being created as I am speaking, in the White House,” Ferriero said.
Governor Gina Raimondo
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Walt Mossberg, Top Tech Journalist
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Super tech journalist and Rhode Island native Walt Mossberg appeared on GoLocal LIVE with GoLocal's News Editor Kate Nagle.
"Well, it was a combination of really important people - and really important technology," said Mossberg. "It took too long for the computer industry to get the memo that these things had to be usable without reading manuals."
Mossberg, who served as the principal technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal from 1991 to 2013, founded AllThingsD, Recode, and the D and Code Conferences, and from 2015 to 2017, was Executive Editor of The Verge.
Gretchen Morgenson, Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist
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Morgenson was first to report that, “New York’s attorney general has subpoenaed TIAA, the giant insurance company, and investment firm, seeking documents and information relating to its sales practices…”
In October, she wrote a sweeping investigative piece that raised questions about TIAA’s selling strategies. “The subpoena to TIAA, which handles retirement accounts for over four million workers at 15,000 nonprofit institutions across the country, followed an article last month in The New York Times that raised questions about the firm’s selling techniques,” wrote Morgenson.
On GoLocal LIVE, Morgenson told News Editor Kate Nagle in a Skype interview, “I think clients in all states should be worried -- Mr. [Seth] Magaziner should do a little more investigation into this to assure himself and the people in Rhode Island in these plans - that what TIAA is [telling them] is correct.”
Ron Powers, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist
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The book is based on the true story of his two sons' struggles with mental illness. Both were diagnosed with Schizophrenia as young men.
While deeply personal, Powers gave insight on the battles his sons’ fought and details into their family life. He also looked at the history of mental illness, including incarceration, medication and more.
"I was determined to give the mentally ill, invisible to much of society and often denied the very basic acknowledgment of their own humanity, a voice,” Powers said.
Powers is the author or co-author of 14 previous books, including New York Times bestselling “Flags of our Fathers” and “True Compass."
Lidia Bastianich, Chef and Author
Lidia Bastianich, Emmy award-winning chef, restaurateur, and author joined GoLocal LIVE's The Taste with Rick Simone.
WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE
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Piff the Magic Dragon
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Jean Lesieur, French Journalist
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“He is the symptom and agent of the emerging nationalism. And, nationalism should not be considered patriotism. Patriotism is the love of your own. Nationalism is the hatred of others,” said Lesieur at the Hope Club.
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Patrick Kennedy, Former Congressman
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“We ought to think do we want to throw gasoline on the fire,” said Kennedy, of legalizing marijuana in Rhode Island. “We know what’s happened with other addictive substances where’s basically there’s no perception of ‘risk’ — alcohol is ubiquitous; tobacco, until the settlements, there was no appetite for addressing [the impact of that].”
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Beverly Daniel Tatum, Former Spelman College President
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Tatum recently released a fully revised and updated edition of her bestselling book “Why Are the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race.”
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“We can’t solve a problem if we can’t talk about it,” the Brock International Prize in Education winner said.
To make a change, she said, we all have a role to play and each of us has an opportunity.
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Mark Baillie, Top British Security Expert
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"The young guy...did it in his mother's basement. Any lone actor can make a powerful bomb," said Baillie following the terrorism incident. "We're in the midst of a general election where politicians talk about there being no political or cultural backlash."
"And estimated 300 people are 'ready to go' - 400 who have been fighting with Isis in Syria -- and in a group of about 20,000 supporters," noted Baillie of the UK landscape, calling Manchester and acts like it the "terrorism of the mundane" -- and much more frightening than "spectacular" acts of terrorism.
Baillie, who runs seminars on a wide range of security matters at King's and at the UK Joint Staff College, has lived or worked in more than 14 countries in the fields of news, security, finance, economics, business and politics and appears widely in international news media on terrorism and international security.
Mark Geragos, Celebrity Attorney
Geragos is one of Hollywood's biggest celebrity lawyers having represented rapper Chris Brown and Michael Jackson over the years. When asked about his relationship with the often legal troubled Brown, Geragos said that the rapper is "like a son and an annuity" to him.
In reference to a lawsuit that he is representing Alex and Ani over, Geragos said, "For lack of a better word, we've got a couple of knuckleheads, [and] it's not at the forefront of anything we're worried about."
"Unfortunately when you become successful people want to take an elevator to the penthouse and that won't happen here, trust me," said Geragos.
Geragos explained how he met Alex and Ani CEO Carolyn Rafaelian - and spoke to how the "company culture" brought him in.
"I was at a charity event at Carolyn's Sakonnet Vineyard -- she was doing a fundraiser for an Armenian orphanage," said Geragos. "They have a unique blend of doing humanitarian work...Carolyn was the hit in New York this week."
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