Posts tagged kind of day

Happy Mother’s Day… from six feet away!!!

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Mother’s Day usually led to a conversation I had with my mom almost every year. The language of adoption. Some famous person who had adopted a child would pass away and the reporter would usually state something like “Her children, John and Mary and her adopted son, Fred” and my mom and I would be unnerved that there would be a differentiation made.

In 1965, a young woman, no more than 19 years old, gave birth to me. I do not know the circumstances surrounding her decision to give me up for adoption but that was to be part of my story. Adoption and acceptance have always been important to me. My parents always told me I was special and I knew from the very beginning that I was adopted.
But that is where it stayed. It was part of my story that differentiated me from friends, classmates and even cousins. A closed adoption made final in 1967, my parents were Mary and Ernie Parmel – my parents. No “adoptive” – I was not referred to as “adopted”. And to the days after my parents both left this earth, I was their daughter.

Laws may change, new information may be garnered, even sealed records can be opened. That doesn’t change the fact that my mom raised me to be the person I am today – as her own. A friend who was also adopted once said to me that we didn’t grow under their heart but in it.

One thing I know for sure, my mom (and dad too!) is up there watching out for me, shaking her head at the crazy things I get myself involved in, wringing her hands with the things I do that she would have told me not to. On Mother’s Day, I realize that she was right 99.9% of the time, she worried about me more than she needed to, and I know that “paper is thicker than blood”, a phrase we laughed at.

And one more thing on this Mother’s Day…
Mostly all the people in my life, over all these years have told me that today we celebrate women who are mothers, who wish to be mothers, women who have lost children, who have chosen not to have children and those who did not have the gift of their own children in their lives. Faces, names, known or unknown, women that have given up a gift of a child, conceived in any circumstance should also be celebrated for their ultimate sacrifice – so that someone may have a better life – the child and the family they are given to. I thank the woman who gave me life – I hope that one day, I can thank her in person.

But I have come across a few people that believe that if you do not have children or if you are not their mother, they shouldn’t wish you a Happy Mother’s Day; those people choosing to walk past someone while acknowledging another just steps ahead or behind them. Just stop and think sometimes if you are guilty of marginalizing someone like that – you don’t know how deep the hurt you cause can go. May those who do that never find themselves in the same position – or maybe it would give them pause for thought. After all, some of the deepest hurts are caused by three little words not being said. It is always three little words, right?
Happy Mother’s Day to everyone!

And I mean EVERYONE!!

What a Year It’s Been

I’m baaaaacckkkk!!!

Okay – I know the difference between a bad blogger, a good blogger and a great blogger is the frequency with which they post.

I am admitting – I have been a bad blogger.

I have not concentrated on writing – I have let ever single thing in my life distract me from the purpose of this blog. The very focus of this blog was to acknowledge the ironic twist one’s imagination can lead their thought process and life to. 2015 has been one of those years that has proven to expand my imagination; make me question the past, enjoy the present and be excited about the future, even as I hit the milestone 50th birthday!

The last post I made was about “The Meatball Experience”. We had a fun day with food, great company and wine!! My mom imparting her skewed side of the world and her meatballs, my cousins easing nicely into our old comfort zone (or maybe new comfort zone as we have rarely been able to spend time together as adults). That day was shortly after one of my posts “Oy Vey! Only Two Years Away”.

Well, the blink of an eye has happened and here we are two years later. I am on a flight to Miami marking my three trip down to the Sunshine State this year. I have been working with a business coach,one who is helping me figure out what I want to be when I grow up (ha-ha!) – someone who has made me look at the things that I have done throughout my fifty years on this earth and realize that I can work with others to bring about change in their businesses and help them create events, strengthening their personal brands.

I have tried to leave my pessimistic self at the door. My mantra hasn’t changed much but I don’t think it’s “I hate people” it’s more “I hate stupidity”!

I am continually happy that God gives me another day. Another day to appreciate things, people, circumstances, whatever. I can no longer pat my puppy on the top of his head; my Bailey plays with his Grandpa again since he crossed over that Rainbow Bridge in May. The news still stinks everyday – watching it becomes a trial in keeping panic attacks in check.
Then the day happens. Thankfully, the day happens.

My mom is now being well taken care of after she broke bones in her back in June of 2014; she made a decision to permanently reside in a facility in her Astoria neighborhood. We packed up, cleaned out and sold a home that had been in my family for 64 years. The uncle who had meant the world to me as a child passed away and letting go of angst that had come between us seemed the right thing to do. After a twenty-two year run, my partner and I have decided to close our businesses down – as I have always said, it’s fun when things are going right but when things go wrong, boy do they ever! Superstorm/Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy knocked the wind out of our sails and we never really recuperated fully. One of my childhood heroes, my cousin, Theresa, suffered from the ravages of ovarian cancer and succumbed to this terrible disease within months.

Amazing things have happened also.

I applied and was accepted into the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program in July of 2014. I met the best group of “Cohortians” (as I called them) and benefitted from many of their experiences, our instructors and our business advisors. Graduation in December 2014 gave me a new perspective on business, my direction and what I needed to do moving forward. I received a Certificate of Entrepreneurship from LaGuardia Community College and Goldman Sachs and also completed a business college course of study giving me a Certificate in Management Consulting. Opportunities presenting themselves in the strangest places (or right in front of you); I am a “Lord-Mechanic-Accumulator” and am embracing my strengths and running with them.

I am creating a new business opportunity for myself and will be helping other small business owners steady their foundations and move forward to build their businesses and brands.

My partner and I bought a beautiful home in a wonderful neighborhood and are looking forward to welcoming family and friends for wonderful dinners and backyard pool parties for years to come. We can finally have our moms come to a house that is more easily accessible for them and we can’t wait to see what the next fifty years have in store. I have closer friends, more relaxed days, more ever expanding experiences. I’ve become a “Networker” (VP now President of our BNI Chapter), I’ve become a consultant and, not to be forgotten, “The Third Twin” (blog post with an explanation to follow later).

But taking stock of things, as my birthday gets closer, I have to be grateful for many things. Although I make many a joke about being placed in a reed basket and floated down the Nile (or East River), I am the person I am today – slightly cracked, a wealth of useless information, a business owner, someone you can ask for anything, supporter of many (whether they realize it or not), critical of some but one who knows when they are out of their league. I believe in open-mindedness. I believe in education. Flowers winning over guns; candles to remember those lost; feeling safe again when everyone in the world remembers we are all the same. Love can and does conquer all.

This year, I am thinking definitely and positively. And instead of “Let’s see where this will take me”, how about this…

“Don’t believe me? Just watch!!!”

The Meatball Experience

…or more aptly titled, “The Day of 1,000 Meatballs”!

The best day ever!

Home cooked meatballs with family!

 

Those of you that follow this blog know that my Aunt Flo passed away in May 2013. We celebrated my Aunt’s life, remembering her with stories and jokes and reminiscing of all of our collective memories of and with her. A lit of wine and tears but it was a true celebration.

At that time, my cousin Colleen asked my mother if she would teach her how to make her mother’s meatballs – my Aunt Flo and my mom had a few recipes in their repertoires – their meatballs being a shared one. My mom agreed and we planned to schedule the “Meatball Fest”.

This past Saturday, we drove to my cousins’ home down the Jersey shore with all the Brooklyn fixings for a pasta and meatball (sauce included) feast; picked my mom up on the way.

It was one of the best days ever!

My mom was throwing her “weight” around, telling my cousins and me what to do.  Jokes flying back and forth – “You haven’t cooked in fifteen years, how are you going to tell us how to make meatballs?”  John made sure my mom had a “cold beer” at her fingertips, staying cold in a wine chiller as she gave us direction and sampled the fixings.  “Not enough of this…”, “Too much garlic”, “Cook them longer” – she was full of them!  We stood around mixing the ingredients, rolling the meatballs they way our mothers and grandmother had, the “men folk” hung around, waiting for something to eat.  “I knew I needed something… oh yeah, more wine” was heard throughout the day.

The neat thing was this…

We spent time as we had when things were simpler, less busy and more fun.  My family always knew how to do things with great “heart”.  When we laughed, we laughed heartily.  When we fought, we fought the good fight.  But we could always come together and enjoy each other’s company.  And we could have fun like no one else.

My mom said many times during the course of the day, “It’s not easy”.  She is usually referring to putting up with me teasing her or telling her to “be nice”.  All in good fun but she likes to tell people that it isn’t easy for the sake of conversation.  It was easy this Saturday family get-together; albeit some of our missing family members, my dad and Colleen & Pat’s mom, but we knew they were there.  My cousin spoke of a trip to Italy and waiting for a sign from her mom to let her know that it was all right for her to be where she was and to enjoy herself. – her husband pointed out a street sign that gave direction to another town they were near. “Guadagno”, which was our grandmother’s maiden name – sign enough for all of us.

I don’t know if anyone else saw the same sign I did but as I sat at the dinner table for a bowl of pasta with a few meatballs, I thought of how simple things would be if everyone just took a day, did something they never did before with people they haven’t spent enough time with in forever.  You begin to see each other in a different light – with everything else stripped away, just a good old time, wine and meatballs for all!

Oy vey – Only Two Years Away!

It's that time of the year!!

It’s that time of the year!!

 

Today is my 48th birthday. So far, it’s a good day!

And being my usual pessimistic self, I’m sure it won’t stay that way.

You know those e-cards everyone posts on Facebook? There’s one I find particularly funny and way too true – “I try to like people, but then idiots happen!”.

Why is that??

I wake up everyday but especially on a day like my birthday and really am happy that God gave me another day. I know the big 5-0 is right around the corner.  Another day to appreciate things, people, circumstances, whatever. I pat my puppy on the top of his head, I think about breakfast and what there is in the house and I stop to think about my schedule for the day. Nothing ever stays on schedule but it’s worth the ol’ college try.

Then the day happens.

The news always provides something you have to shake your head at. Sometimes it’s an unexpected phone call. Being a small business owner, a text from a staff member can do it. Being responsible for my mother at this point in her life is always a challenge.

But taking stock of things, today, on my birthday, I have to be grateful for many things. Although I make many a joke about being placed in a reed basket and floated down the Nile, I am grateful my birth mother saw it in her heart to give me a chance for a better life. I am grateful for my parents – the only one’s I have ever known. I am grateful for my cousins who have always made things interesting. I am thankful for my friends, old and new, not so new and those who are no longer part of my life. I am even thankful for the people who have made my life challenging. All these people along with the experiences I have had, have come together to make me the person I am today – slightly cracked, a wealth of useless information, a business owner, someone you can ask for anything, supporter of many (whether they realize it or not), critical of some but one who knows when they are out of their league.

Just for the record, I had one of the best birthday days I have ever had. I spent the day enjoying everything as opposed to waiting for the next shoe to drop. The day was capped off with a wonderful martini, a perfectly cooked steak and wonderful company at a great Manhattan restaurant. Enjoyed the day thoroughly, however, I am sure realty will return tomorrow as always.

But maybe, just maybe, I can take the lesson of my birthday day through to the rest of the year – this year, I’ll be thinking positively. Let’s see where it takes me!

 

“I’m gonna kick your &#*!!!”

Bullying ... no point!

Gotta stop this bullying!

Bullying.

I was bullied as a child.

I was bullied as a teenager and a young adult.

I even think I have been bullied as an older adult.

And now, as I remember the words of a woman I met when she was in her late seventies and lived to be 99, “At my age, I can say whatever I want”.

At least on this topic, I think it is realistic to say, I can safely speak my mind about my experiences.

I went to a Catholic elementary school in a working class neighborhood. I was a scrawny kid who wore glasses, got good grades, and had parents who volunteered a lot of time to that school and church. I was called “teacher’s pet” for years and spent many a school day firing how I was going to make it home without getting my butt kicked because someone in my class thought I got them in trouble with the teacher, wouldn’t let them cheat from me on a test, or because I put my lunchbox down too close to theirs. The boys in my class were hurtful and the girls were mean. Some of the “cool” girls tried over the years to be protecting or at least not joining in on the bullying but that usually gave way to the, being threatened. So their efforts ceased and they stood by while the taunting went on. I got beat up on the way home several times and cried because I couldn’t imagine how to tell my parents that my glasses were broken again. My 8th grade teacher kept me after school on Halloween to talk about being Editor of our yearbook. But because “The Gang” of boys was waiting outside the school to throw eggs and more, she drove me home from school to keep me safe. That Josephite nun always showed me such kindness and always pushed me to do the best I could. But her kindness in driving me home that day only resulted in more taunting throughout my last year in that school.

I played softball in grammar school and the girls only wanted the “star” player to pitch. Once were losing so badly that the coach pulled the “star” pitcher and put me in to pitch. Loosing by almost 10 runs, I pitched my best and struck out one or two batters. But if the ball made contact with the bat, I was done for. My “teammates” would let the ball roll through their legs, drop a fly ball or let the runners advance without even trying to play fairly. The coach reprimanded the entire team but it did no good. She pulled me and put the “star” back in. We lost anyway. The parents in attendance said nothing to any of their daughters during or after the game – that was that.

The bullying continued when I went to the local high school. The tough kids from another section of our neighborhood liked to intimidate people in the hallways and every day was another challenge to stay out of their way. I was a “nerd” – honors classes, music lessons, church volunteer – none of it was “cool” back then.

But then a class called “Leadership” was offered. I jumped at the chance to work on all extracurricular events the Leadership class was responsible for. With senior year came empowerment, as we all were the class leaders. The concept of being bullied was gone as we were the ones accepted and the people who got things done. College years and never a thought of being bullied.

Just when you think its over…

I began teaching at a Catholic elementary school. Faculty meeting on the first day – all new teachers were told, “Ladies, make sure that even if you have a ring on your finger, you are saying ‘No'”. Bullying takes on a new name – intimidation. With a morals clause written into out contracts, I can’t really call this bullying, but you knew she meant business. I found put on the successive months that who I socialized with, who I befriended and what I did after work was up for these intimidation tactics by the principal. I left that school that same year.

The principal at the next school was an old family friend who was a ton of fun but took bullying right back to when I was in elementary school – which was where I knew him. I spent more time being reprimanded in his office as a teacher than I ever was when I was in elementary school.  “Don’t teach this”, “Don’t call the parents by the last names”, “You MUST have a Halloween Party for your class” (fist fights among students aside), and more.  My pay was docked when I took a personal day to attend the funeral of a close mutual family friend.  Day-to-day it all was too much – too much to list here.  One day when you have a few days, I’ll tell you.  I left that job after four years.

I opened a business with my best friend.  The bullying continued with vendors who felt like they were doing me a favor to do the work and have me pay them; some customers who felt that however insane their request, my partner and I were just to “do it”; some accounts that would change the rules on the jobs we were doing right as we were finishing up.  I have teenage staff members tell me that “I had a lot to learn” and I have had business associates repeatedly tell me that the work I do is passable at best – they can always find someone to do a better job for less money.

In addition to the bullying, I have been profiled as “prejudiced” because I am white; I have been spoken slowly to because I look more Hispanic than Italian in a mostly Italian area and second guessed when I say that I am one of the business’ owners.

Bullying in the NFL?  A good thing he walked away.  A bad thing as he may have given up the career he loves.

Bullying in schools?  Try to tell a teenager that “It gets better” – it’s so hard when your world seems to be crashing in around you.

Gay bashing? Racial profiling? Sexual harassment?  Why should anyone have to compromise him or herself for the stupidity of another?

It may not necessarily get better – but it does get different; sometimes, it even becomes empowering.  One day you just have to realize that all that matters is what YOU make matter – small people, small minds.  Realize your potential – screw everyone else.  Carve out your own space in this world and have confidence in the one person who will never leave you …..

YOU!

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