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When we are confronted unjustly, don’t back down

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

Claudia-NEW

How often do you “exercise” the right to stand up for yourself?

   I recently found myself in a “What Would You Do?” situation. You know the Primetime television show with John Quinones, right? I seriously didn’t know “what I would do” if what I observed was happening to me.

I was smack-dab in the middle of a fight at the gym.

Most gym members know there’s a lay of the land. You wipe your machine down before and after use. Be mindful of your time spent on popular equipment and if you see personal belongings on a vacant machine, it usually means that machine is taken. Which leads me right into the aforementioned confrontation.

Gym-girl A was on the rolling staircase to my left when Gym-girl B approached from the locker-room. I was feeling rather sluggish that Saturday morning because I couldn’t use my iPod. I’d forgotten my earbuds and found myself singing inaudibly to the video playing on the flat screen overhead until I heard, Gym-girl A and Gym-girl B… going at it!

“That’s MY machine. I just cleaned it. You need to move,” demanded Gym-girl B.

“You don’t own it. You weren’t here. I’ve already started my workout -- use that one,” directed Gym-girl A. She was on the machine to my left. I was climbing away on the middle machine. The machine to my right was unoccupied and that’s exactly where Gym-girl A felt Gym-girl B needed to go. She stretched her hands, extending to Gym-girl B the belongings that had once occupied the machine; a towel, water bottle, iPod and earbuds.

Gym-girl B appeared completely incensed by the audacity of Gym-girl A and snatched the items saying, “I cleaned this machine and left to use the bathroom. I was gone all of two seconds and you’re going to take it? Really? OK! Well guess what? You’re going to clean it now!” The next thing I saw was Gym-girl B glazing Gym-girl A with her water like a Thanksgiving turkey.

I have to admit, I could appreciate Gym-girl B’s position at first. I too have placed my belongings on a machine and walked away for a brief period but she lost my support completely with the water assault. “Did she really just take it there?” I thought. I looked around and caught eye contact with one of the personal trainers from clear across the gym floor. I mouthed, “Get over here quick!” Then I did a wide-eyed, clenched teeth facial expression. I was thinking, “If a riot breaks out, where’s the nearest exit?”

By this point Gym-girl A had informed a few of her friends from nearby machines. They threw out a few verbal assaults but Gym-girl B wasn’t intimidated and didn’t back down from her fighting stance. Luckily, my panic appeal to the personal trainer caused cooler heads to prevail. I don’t think these women wanted to cross her, she’s built like mixed martial artist Rhonda Rousey. This trainer was professional but pretty much told them to knock-it-off. Tempers were still flaring so the duo involved a mediator, the gym’s general manager.

Both women made passionate appeals for their position. Their arguments were so equally persuasive the GM didn’t know who to believe. Of course, neither party was being totally honest. Gym-girl A said the machine had been unattended for over 10 minutes and she assumed the belongings had been forgotten. Gym-girl B vehemently denied pouring water on Gym-girl A citing, “The water spilled when she was handing it to me.”

I continued to climb away, not saying a word. As far as I was concerned it was none of my business. I wasn’t investing anymore of my work-out on the shenanigans. But the one thing I could appreciate about both women was they stood up for themselves.    

I once lacked a sense of self-worth to the point where I allowed myself to be mistreated. We don’t have time to get into that now, I literally wrote a book, “Becoming a Mother While Losing My Own,” that gives a detailed account of my journey. But not everyone has time to read a memoir.

So I’ll leave you with this: we can’t allow anyone to undermine who we are. If you find yourself being treated unfairly, disrespected, violated or abused, it’s NOT OK. I don’t recommend being belligerent or getting physical with anyone, that wouldn’t be appropriate. However, as long as you have a voice, it’s OK for you to exercise your right to stand up for yourself. If you don’t, who else will? Recognize your worth. You have value and you matter!

Claudia Parker is an Evergreen Park mother, author and runner whose columns appear in The Reporter the second and fourth Thursdays of each month.  

Wolves begin to circle after Scalia’s death

  • Written by Joe Boyle

Justice Antonin Scalia was described as dedicated and uncompromising in his interpretation of the Constitution. He based many of his Supreme Court decisions on the language used in that original document. He was unwavering in his interpretation of the beliefs and thoughts of our founding fathers.

Scalia was found dead Saturday morning in his Texas hotel room. He was on a vacation trip with a group who planned to go quail hunting. He excused himself Friday night and retired to bed. He had told some people at the hotel that he was not feeling well.

The 79-year-old justice reportedly died of natural causes. His wife said that an autopsy will not be necessary. Scalia’s legacy will be his keen mind and his conservative principles. At least that’s the impression most of us will be left with. Many headlines in newspapers across the country said he was the “Conservative champion.”

His rulings against certain liberal causes were filled with caustic comments. He loved to argue but remained friendly with members of the Supreme Court in which he did not usually agree with. He was close friends with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who often has a more liberal interpretation of the law.

Scalia often said that you can disagree with someone but you don’t have to be disagreeable. He liked to argue with his more liberal justices but he did not take anything that was said personally.

Maybe some of our current Republicans who take up space in Washington, D.C. should take note of Scalia’s beliefs. If they did, they would respect the office of the presidency and realize that Barack Obama has a duty to select a nominee to replace Scalia.

Scalia had not even been laid to rest and Republicans were already ranting that Obama should not be allowed to choose a successor to Scalia. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) essentially said that Obama should not be allowed to select another chief justice. McConnell said that people should have a voice in deciding the next Supreme Court justice.

Well, that sounds so noble. But actually, it is pure politics. McConnell has kept his Senate majority by appealing to a conservative base, moderates and some members who are on the extreme right. The latter part of this group view Obama as the arrival of the anti-Christ. By saying that the will of the people needs to be respected, McConnell lets himself off the hook somewhat. But expressing that this is the will of the people, the focus will be on him, McConnell believes.

If McConnell can stall any selection to replace Scalia as Obama leaves office, he can look victorious in the eyes of his proponents. McConnell would like nothing more than to have one more final victory against Obama.

So, apparently that’s what this comes down to. McConnell and even some of the GOP presidential candidates are fearful of that the balance of the Supreme Court will tilt left. This is where everyone needs a dose of reality. McConnell knows better. The president has every right to select a nominee for the Supreme Court.

All you have to do is ask Donald Trump. The volatile GOP candidate said in the debate Saturday night that Obama has the right to choose the next nominee for the Supreme Court. Trump realizes this because Obama is the president. Trump added, of course, that it is up to McConnell and his GOP posse to stop him. They can do that be delaying and delaying, said Trump.

The assumption here by his opponents is that Obama will select an ultra-liberal justice to replace Scalia. What actually will occur is that Obama will wait a respectable amount of time before considering candidates, the majority of which will go under the title of moderate.

And what is wrong with that? A fair and balanced voice is needed during these chaotic times. A fight will occur whoever Obama chooses. I guess we will just have to see how this plays out in the end. Maybe Obama’s opponents will succeed.

They may succeed with no regard for all of the people. In the words of Scalia, we don’t have to be so disagreeable. Scalia was approved by a judiciary committee with a vote of 98-0 after President Reagan selected him in 1986. Maybe the Democrats were sidetracked by the simultaneous selection of Justice William Rehnquist, who had 33 opposing votes.

Scalia’s passing assures of one thing. A chaotic year will become even more chaotic.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

‘Super’ day for Manning, Coldplay, Beyoncé and Mars

  • Written by Joe Boyle

 

The Super Bowl is over. We can all relax now.

Perhaps now we can concentrate on other matters, like choosing a presidential primary candidate. For the record, the Denver Broncos staggered the Carolina Panthers, 24-10, in Santa Clara, Calif. This goes under the category of an upset victory, not that most of us mind. The majority of people I talked to did not have a preference in this game.

But Peyton Manning goes out a winner. The 39-year-old Denver quarterback has had a great career and is considered one of the game’s greatest at his position. But the former Indianapolis Colts quarterback is no longer great. Neck injuries have taken its toll on his once strong throwing arm. And he was never all that mobile to begin with.

But he is still a great field general, eluding several Carolina blitzes by throwing short quick passes. He simply did enough to win while the defense did the rest. The Broncos forced four turnovers and sacked Carolina quarterback Cam Newton six times.

So, in my opinion, Manning should retire. He now has two Super Bowl rings. The first one was against our Chicago Bears. If Manning retires, he goes out on top. Nothing is better than that. Manning said he needed time to think about it. He was going to kiss his wife, his kids and then drink a lot of Budweiser.

My advice to him is that when he gets over that hangover is to talk to the Denver Broncos’ general manager, John Elway. The former star quarterback of the Broncos, Elway won Super Bowl titles in his last two years. He retired after that. Elway, like Manning is now, was a shadow of himself at the end of his career and was more like a game manager. Elway just did enough behind a great offensive line, strong running game and a great defense.

When Manning sobers up, he will make the right decision. It is better to go out on top.

But the big game is over and life goes on. A lot of people were watching who do not even care about Manning, Denver linebacker MVP Von Miller, Newton or Carolina head coach Ron Rivera. They may have been more impressed with Lady Gaga singing the National Anthem. The game was played near San Francisco but Tony Bennett was nowhere in sight.

And then there were the commercials. I’m not a TV critic but they were not controversial or that memorable. Amy Schumer and Seth Rogan were amusing in a “Bud Light Party” ad. The majority of the ads seem to involve dogs that talked, drive cars or standing in the checkout line at the grocery store.

The halftime show did feature Coldplay, Bruno Mars and Beyonce, in that order. My only concern when I mentioned it last week was that the stage was going to be a little crowded for a 20-minute performance. But I also said that the National Football League is all about excess. Coldplay zipped through three songs, followed by Mars and then Beyonce marching down the field. My concern about excess was beginning to be realized.

But I thought it ended well and since this was Super Bowl 50, images of previous performers were shown, like Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder Diana Ross, U2, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Katy Perry, and Beyonce and Mars.

But the show is over. For football fans, I’m not sure what they will do. Maybe they will get pumped up over the NFL draft, which will again be held in Chicago’s Grant Park. We may not be able to pass a budget but we sure know how to throw a party.

The Grammys are coming up this week. The Academy Awards are just around the corner. A lot of people hold parties for these award shows as well. I guess it helps us get through the winter.

College basketball has fans across the country and that means March Madness will be in our midst. Personally, I find it easier to keep up with the Grammys and Academy Awards then to figure out where 64 college teams fit in.

Of course, there is the Chicago Blackhawks. Enough said there.

Now, dare I say it? The groundhog has predicted an early spring (I will believe it when I see it). Does that mean the Chicago Cubs and White Sox will begin the season playing baseball in 50-degree weather instead of the 30’s?

I guess we will just have to wait and see. By then, Manning will have quit partying and made his decision.

                                                        

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

There's no faking the joy of marriage and spiritual life

  • Written by Claudia Parker

 

Claudia-NEW

   Yes, I’m ashamed to admit I’ve faked it before. When my husband, Don, realized I was faking it, he was appalled. But, before you judge me, give me the opportunity to explain.

It was October of 2002. We’d only been married for three months. Our newly recited vows drew us toward activities designed to help marriages last. The Married Couples Ministry at Salem Baptist Church was hosting a weekend marriage retreat. Their website laid it out beautifully, “Learn how to have a joyful relationship with good communication, intimacy, financial security, and love.”

We signed up with zeal!

   Salem Baptist Church is known for doing things real big. They did not disappoint as the festivities were held at the gorgeous Wyndam Hotel & Resort in Itasca.

The opening ceremony left us mesmerized as we watched a step-show made up of married couples. A step-show is a complex performance involving synchronized, percussive movement, singing, speaking, chanting, dancing and drama. In the 1960s, historically black fraternities and sororities began stepping on college campuses as a rite of passage for pledges.

Now stepping has evolved from campus organizations to high schools, local community events and church groups. The precision in their claps, boot stomps and body alignment left me speechless. That wasn’t the only thing that left a loss for words. My ears expanded during our “wives only” breakout session from the marital discord revealed. Once the couples reconvened, the raised eyebrows on Don’s face said the husbands dropped a few bombs as well.

   The dramatized play that evening brought to life every major issue a marriage could experience. Some women sobbed aloud, for them, things were hitting close to home. The next morning was our final session. Impacted couples gave testimonies of deliverance. Everyone seemed moved. Upon conclusion, the retreat leader told couples who wanted prayer to stand in line. The pews went empty. We were 100 couples deep, single file. Soft music covered the hushed chatter of those of us who found ourselves at the end of the line.

So engrossed within ourselves, Don and I didn’t notice the powerful anointing hitting the recipients of prayer. They were going down like fighters in a boxing match, all with just a touch from the palm of the pastor’s hand. Now three couples from our turn, Don tells me we should take our seats. “Are you insane?” I whispered while moving up again.

He kissed my cheek and replied, “I’m not in the mood to faint. It don’t take all that. We can pray at home!” Terrified of the impression sitting would leave, I yanked him over. The elder began putting anointing oil on Don’s head. Then, just as he had with others, he professed blessings over him, stretched his palm and struck him lightly on the forehead.

Don didn’t budge!

   The elder repeated this palm strike a few more times. He looked bewildered, as if his circuit to the Lord had malfunctioned. It wasn’t him, it was Don. He said he felt God’s power but had chosen to quench the Spirit.

I, on the other hand, FELL OUT as soon as the elder touched me. My school of thought was, “When in Rome, do as the Roman do.” After lying quietly several seconds, I eased one eye open to check my surroundings. The infuriated look on Don’s face told me I was BUSTED! He’d been staring down at me the whole time wondering if I was r-e-a-l-l-y out. He mouthed, “Get up!”

I hustled to get to my feet. He tugged at my arm and walked us briskly to our seats. He remarked, “This is a new low. I can’t believe you FAKED the Holy Ghost!”

If you ask me, we were equally awful, both guilty of a disgraceful smokescreen. Neither of us had been honest about what we were feeling that day. Don felt something, as the minister prayed for him, there were real tears streaming down his face. I actually didn’t. I was distracted. All I was thinking as the Elder prayed is, "I hope they catch me good."

   Don and I will be attending Salem Baptist Church's marriage retreat again this weekend to celebrate Valentine’s Day. My, how we’ve grown over these 14 years.

Today, I stand firm in knowing that despite being tempted to the lure of pleasing people, I’m confident and proud of the woman I am. It is my intention to live a life that is pleasing unto God, not man. This means I must learn how to take His direction by hearing His voice.

Are you wondering how someone can hear God’s voice? It’s not audible; at least it hasn’t been for me. I’d be a little freaked out if it was. It comes from within. It’s a subtle thought. It’s a dream or a message within a song. Or it might be random advice from a loved one or stranger that fits your situation perfectly.

When you hear it, you’ll know it’s meant for you. Don’t allow the perception of others to distract you or quench what you know is real. The pleasure of a purpose driven life awaits you.

Excerpts of this column first appeared in the Inside Oak Lawn Magazine in 2013.

 

Claudia Parker is an Evergreen Park mother, author and runner whose columns appear in The Reporter the second and fourth Thursdays of each month.

 

‘Super Sunday’ turns 50 years old

  • Written by Joe Boyle

 

The Super Bowl organizers are having a party and were all invited. The big game that pits the top teams in the American Conference and National Conference will square off at about 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7 in Santa Clara, Calif.

This mega game really needs no hype but this year will be Super Bowl 50. The NFL will celebrate with special guests and a crowded halftime show. More on that later.

And to get into the spirit of the big game, here is a quiz question. What team has won the most Super Bowls? The answer will appear at the end of the column.

Fifty games means this contest has been around a long time. But I have been around a long time as well. I actually remember the first Super Bowl. This was so long ago that the first game was not even called the Super Bowl back then. It was officially titled the AFL-NFL Championship Game.

The fervor and buzz that surrounds recent Super Bowls was lacking from this game. The Green Bay Packers won the NFC title game in the so-called “Ice Bowl” in December of 1966. The Packers defeated the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.

The National Football League and American Football League decided to finally meet in a championship game played at a neutral site. Since the game was going to be played in January, a warm-weather city was going to serve as hosts.

The Kansas City Chiefs were the AFC representatives and there was even some talk they could defeat Green Bay. They had some star players in quarterback Len Dawson and running back Mike Garrett. However, I’m not sure anyone bought into that. The championship game was played early in the afternoon on Jan. 15, 1967 at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles.

Lots of us watched the game at home out of curiosity. The stadium was not even sold out. The Packers, after a slow start, romped to a 35-10 victory. Legendary Packer head coach Vince Lombardi was asked how the Chiefs compared to other NFC teams. He replied that they were like facing the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were then perennial cellar dwellers in the NFC before moving to the AFC. Ouch.

The Packers rolled over the Oakland Raiders the following year. “Broadway Joe” Namath staged an amazing upset in 1969 as the New York Jets beat the Baltimore Colts, 16-7, for the AFC’s first Super Bowl. The game had arrived. The contest was still played earlier in the day and marching bands performed at halftime. The marching band gave way a few years later to the “Up With People” singers.

In regards to the Super Bowl game, legend has it that the children of Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt were bouncing a Super Ball, a tightly wound ball that would bounce repeatedly. It was popular toy for kids in the mid-1960s. Hunt watched in amusement and later brought it up to some reporters. He casually referred to the championship game as the Super Bowl. Some reporters continued to use the term and, as they say, the rest is history.

The games began to start later in the day to assure a larger television audience and allow for charging higher fees for commercials. Well-known musical acts began popping up in the 1990s like Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and Shania Twain. The 2000s had Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction. The NFL then elected to bring on established veteran rockers who were deemed safer like Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones and Prince. But there were complaints about the Stones’ “Start Me Up” and Prince’s unique way of gripping a guitar behind a screen.

For the most part, these halftime shows are entertaining. The only problem is of late these performances have a Las Vegas glitz to it. This year, Coldplay will perform at halftime but they will also be joined by Bruno Mars and Beyonce. The stage appears to be a little too crowded for a 20-minute show but the NFL is all into excess.

So, the halftime show has to be big. The commercials are another reason casual fans tune in to see some of the first-run advertising moments. Some of them are funny while others fall flat. That will be debated the next day.

Oh, and there is the game. In case you didn’t know the AFC will be represented by the Denver Broncos while the NFC has the Carolina Panthers . This is a championship game in which a lot of people will tune in who could care less about the contest. I guess that’s the appeal of the Super Bowl. The game is played on a Sunday in early February. The NFC has the stage to themselves.

Now back to that quiz question. The Pittsburgh Steelers have won six Super Bowls, more than any other NFL team. Now get prepared for two hours of pre-game hype, Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars. It’s show time.

Joe Boyle is the editor of the Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .