Tag Archives: Roger Zotti

Living a balanced life

“Self-acceptance must come from within.”

By Roger Zotti

Psychotherapist and motivational speaker Diane Lang says what she learned from writing her book, Creating Balance & Finding Happiness (Kendall Hunt Publishing), was “to re-use my own tips and tools when I had a major illness. Sometimes you write about something—even teach it—but it’s harder to follow your own advice. When I got very sick last year, I had to take my own advice, which was tough.” In fact, the reason Diane wrote her book because “the information, tips, and tools I write about really helped me. I wanted to share what really worked.”
Diane says writing her first book, “The Path from Motherhood to Career,” and her latest weren’t overly challenging. “I had the basic information I used to help myself and others, so I found writing the books therapeutic,” she explains. Her third book, which she’s now writing, “is more challenging because it’s a process I’m still working on, which is releasing my addiction to fear and living a life of trust and faith.”
One concept Diane kept in mind while writing “Creating Balance & Finding Happiness” was gratitude. “I talk about it in my book and in my workshops. I can’t stress how important it is to live a life full of gratitude. I’m constantly saying thanks for everything.” She suggests a daily “gratitude check,” which for her takes “2-5 minutes.” Then she begins her day by asking herself, “What I am grateful for in my life?” Then at night she asks herself, “What am I grateful for that happened today?”
A recurring point in “Creating Balance & Happiness” is that in our fast-paced world most of us seek instant gratification: “Society has come to a point where everyone wants a quick fix…but that doesn’t happen and sets us up for failure,” Diane asserts. Positive changes in a person’s life “will take time,” patience, and “trial and error.”
Diane’s views about being selfish may surprise readers: “The selfish you….is good because it means a better, healthy you for everyone around you.” She recommends making “a verbal or nonverbal commitment—whatever it takes. Just make ‘you’ the most important person in this world. Now, you can go out and give the world your all….Don’t ever hesitate to be selfish if it means a better you!”
Another standout point is self-acceptance. “I have caught myself many times looking for approval from others, but once you become aware that you can see the pattern…stop it dead in its tracks by knowing it doesn’t work,” she writes. “Self-acceptance must come from within. Looking for acceptance and approval from others is a sign of low self-esteem.”
In straightforward and unpretentious language, Diane’s book offers common sense suggestions—which some people may have forgotten and about which they need reminding—about how to live a balanced, happy life. She considers “Creating Balance & Happiness” “a journey” for herself, for her daughter, and “for everyone who reads it. Also, its goal is to help herself and “others to be the best people they can be by using the tips in the book.”

Diane’s book may be purchased at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, www.kendallhunt.com, and www.dlcounseling.com.

Book Review: A Book For All Seasons

Darryl Nyznyk, author, Mary’s Son.

Darryl Nyznyk, author, Mary’s Son.

by Roger Zotti

Several months ago, when I came across Darryl Nyznyk’s novel, Mary’s Son: A Tale of Christmas (Cross Drive Publishing), my first thought was maybe it’s too early to read a book about Christmas. In a recent interview, Darryl set me straight. “For those who relish the meaning of Christmas,” he says, “the story resonates every day— not just at Christmas. It has adventure and lessons of hope and love for each day of a person’s life and should be appreciated and discussed every day.”

“Mary’s Son” has received rave reviews. Lauren Smith, EZINE’s on-line reviewer, called it “a wonderful and poignant story…an inspiring read.” Also, it’s a three-time winner of the Mom’s Gold Choice Awards.

Darryl, who practiced law for twenty years and now writes full time, hopes readers take away from his work Christmas’s real meaning, which is “Christ’s birth and the teachings of the Judeo/Christian ethic upon which this country was built.” He believes—and correctly—that his book’s “a good read and an exciting adventure, dealing with real characters with modern day issues.”

The book focuses on two angry youngsters—wealthy, snobbish, angry eleven-year-old Sarah Stone, whose mother was killed by a drunk driver, and streetwise, thirteen-year-old Jared Roberts, whose father has gone missing for a year. As the storyline progresses, they “discover the meaning of Christmas from a mysterious man and a journey in time.”

Written over a fifteen year period, here’s what Darryl said he learned while writing “Mary’s Son”: “While I and my wife were raising our daughters, I was working feverishly to make a living. What specifically writing [the book did] was help me focus through all the turmoil and struggles on the one constant we all can have if we let it in…the giving to others that is the paramount point in Christ’s message… if I kept that in mind every day, my life and the lives of those I loved would be happy… I grew dramatically during this time.”

Darryl Nyznyk’s novel deals “with real characters with modern day issues.”

Darryl Nyznyk’s novel deals “with real characters with modern day issues.”

In “Mary’s Son” one of the most memorable the images occurs when Sarah’s father, Jonas, is watching his daughter at the annual Penfield Heights’ Party. She’s dancing with one of the book’s key characters—Nicholas, an enigmatic old man. Darryl writes:  Sarah “looked so much like her mother… Jonah had tried for a long time and finally succeeded in burying the memory of the wife he’d loved so completely. Yet, as he now stared at Sarah, he realized he’d done more than bury the memory of his wife’s loss. He’d pushed his only daughter away.” It’s Jonas’s most crucial epiphany.

Clearly, the book’s appeal is that in an age when positive news is rare, an age often lacking in hope, Darryl’s work is a vivid example of vital storytelling with an unquestionably positive message.  In fact one reason Darryl wrote “Mary’s Son” was because “I needed to give my four daughters [now grown] something they could read every year to remind them of the goodness that still exists in the world.” Aimed at readers of any age, it’s a book for all seasons.

Tribute to a Boxing Champion

By Roger Zotti

Justina Ihetu, author of "In Africa's Honor."

Justina Ihetu, daughter of former world middleweight and light heavyweight champion Dick Tiger, has written a skillfully constructed, inspiring, and insightful book titled “In Africa’s Honor” (iUniverse). “It puts boxing history relating to Africa into perspective,” she tells us, “and spotlights the first championship fight on African soil, occurring eleven years before the more popular ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ battle between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.”

A man of dignity and courage, Tiger was an aggressive, crowd-pleasing boxer. Born in 1929, he died in 1971. He began boxing in 1955, retiring in 1970 with a record of 60-19-3 (27 KO).  One of the most formidable fighters of his talent-rich era, Tiger never ducked a worthy opponent, nor did he ever take a backward step. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1991.

Justina remarks that “revisiting and pondering over my father’s early years as a young adult when he was struggling to make a living, under the most excruciating circumstances, and without any kind of support,” proved gratifying because “against all odds, he was able to turn the deficits of his environment into benefits and eventually he gave back to his community: When his country was embroiled in a civil war, he did not turn his back on it, but became a voice for the distressed during the Nigerian/Biafran war.”

At the same time, she admits keeping her emotions in check was difficult: “Despite his reputation in his beloved Nigeria, the country is devoid of any visual representations or memorials of his remarkable boxing accomplishments. His stand against injustice and his involvement in the Civil War in Nigeria, I’m afraid, may have for decades cost him his rightful place in Nigeria’s sports history.  I believe that were he given another chance, he would do exactly the same thing—and that’s the mark of a true hero.”

Because her father “is unsung and almost forgotten,” Justina asserts, her goal was “to keep his story fresh and relevant, especially to the younger generation who had not the privilege of knowing about the first boxing championship held in Africa, or about Africa’s greatest boxer.” The motivating technique she used—and it worked—was writing “In Africa’s Honor” in play form.

The championship bout between Tiger and Gene Fullmer—the third meeting between them—took place August 10, 1963, at Liberty Stadium in Ibadan, Nigeria. Tiger emerged victorious when the West Jordan, Utah warrior was unable to answer the bell for the eighth round. “If you have to lose, it’s a pleasure to lose your championship to a great fighter, sportsman, and gentleman like Dick Tiger,” the gracious Fullmer said after the fight.

Asked what she hopes readers take away from “In Africa’s Honor,” Justina’s answer is memorable: “It is the determination to accomplish their goals in life, regardless of the circumstances of their birth, race, or creed. As with Dick Tiger, their circumstances should not become an impediment to their growth and success in life but should, instead, compel them to persevere and rise about their circumstances.”

 

 

Extraordinary and Original

by Roger Zotti

“Clair-obscur of the Soul” (Little Red Tree Publishers) is a book of “unstructured poetry,” said Jean-Yves Solinga, the author. “I’m not at ease with the structure of traditional poetry. What I’ve done, and it has been done before, is poetic prose.” In his Introduction, Jean-Yves writes about his “choice of poetic form and lyrical structure.” He quotes Trepilov in Chekov’s “The Sea Gull:” “I’m coming more and more to the conclusion that it’s a matter not of old forms and not of new forms, but that a man writes, not thinking at all of what form to choose, because it comes pouring from his soul.”

In his Foreword, Michael Linnard tells us Jean-Yves “was born in Algeria of French parents and moved to Morocco [and] at 14 was abruptly…brought to America by his family.” Michael holds that Jean-Yves’ book “must be read by all those interested in a singularly unique view of life that may redefine the capacity of poetry to be what it should be: the art of expressing pure thought about the existential human condition.”

Reading Jean-Yves’ work exposes the reader to his culture (French) and presents different perspectives about American-Anglo Saxon culture. “It’s a learning experience for both myself and the reader,” Jean-Yves said. Jean-Yves hopes that his work will bring “the lyricism of one [culture] to the direct and acoustical strength of the other.”

Ray Bradbury said that writers learn when they write. Jean-Yves learned while writing his book was, he said, laughing, “How things change but stay the same. What you have to find is a different angle.” In other terms, anyone who writes a poem about war, “isn’t writing the first poem ever written about war,” Jean-Yves explained. “You have to add something personal to it.”

Of course, there were times when the Gales Ferry resident found writing “Clair-obscur…” difficult. “As it is that with most writing,” he said, “you have to take away. It’s almost like cooking. You have to reduce the sauce. With writing you have to get rid of wordiness, of an extra sentence.”

My favorite poem is “Mankind and Its Place” – especially when Jean-Yves writes: “…true heroes…have glanced without/ blinking into the enormous void of things…” They come back “from the precipice to face the rest of their individual lives…/without whining…without duplicity and especially without eternal laws…” The key, here, is that Jean-Yves’ heroes are courageous enough to survive looking into the abyss and then able to “[fashion] moments of solidarity and a mutual gift/ of happiness for the other…”

Jean-Yves said, “Clair-obscur in French is a technique of painting. In Italian it is called chiaroscuro” – that is, to quote from my Merriam Webster dictionary, the arrangement…of light and dark parts in a pictorial work of art.” A feast for one’s mind and heart, “Clair-obscur of the Soul” will be launched on July 17, at The Book Barn, 41 West Main Street, Niantic, from 6-8p.m.