Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!!! 2012...Sounds Good:-)

Today I took 40 minutes and went to the beach.
Just me, sunshine, the sea and my boots stuck right in the sand.
I sat, stared and gave thanks.
I breathed in the fresh air and exhaled.
Sofia Madyson was born 9 years ago today.
Yesterday over a cup of hot chocolate and a brownie, she said, "Mommy, go ahead and tell me your most intimate secrets!"

I do believe my mouth dropped.
I replied, "Drink your hot chocolate, Sofia".

Sofia received a lotttttttttttt of presents for her birthday, but when she woke up this morning she asked if I had made her a card.
I said, "No".
And felt like the worst Mamma in the world.

So, today after the beach I went to the mall (there's now one in Grosseto) and bought her a book. On the inside flap I wrote her a long letter.

And I shared my first intimate secret with my 9 year old daughter.
I told her about the time I got in trouble for kissing a boy on the cheek during a game of "Truth or Dare" when I was 9 years old. We had to eat the rest of our lunch at the "punishment table".

I hid the book under her pillow, so before she goes to bed she will find her last birthday surprise.

Happy New Year to all...I hope it brings more love, Newborn Hearing Screening in Italy, passion and an infinite amount of "Wow...that's amazing!"


Friday, December 30, 2011

Sometimes the things we can't change, end up changing us


2011 has come to an end.
2012 is about to begin.
I am having an emotional breakdown.
No idea why, but the tears just will not stop streaming.
I have the sensation that I have just completed an enormous project and that what is staring me in the face is five times bigger.
To not become completely overwhelmed, I look to the simple, the easy, the beautiful.

My kids.

Sofia will be 9 tomorrow and she amazes me every single day.
Jordan is 15 and we fight at least once a day.

We are building something together and maybe one day we'll be able to sit down together and discover what exactly that is...together. I imagine they'll reach that age where they see me as a person and not a mom and hope that while they yell and complain that I was on the computer too much, they'll smile as they remember a neighborhood watergun fight at midnight on a hot summer night.

Have you ever been totally conscious of every single step you take as you are climbing a staircase- because you're afraid you'll trip and fall and break an ankle?

Try smiling and looking the person coming down the staircase in the eyes, noticing the color of the painted walls, clenching tightly your children's hands so they don't fall as you climb and planning your day as you are being totally conscious of every single step you take....and not pass out when you reach the top.

And if you do reach the top without passing out, you just may cry.
As you realize that another flight of stairs awaits you.

2012

I think it sounds kind of important.
*Smile*

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Hollow Christmas Tree with the Angel on Top


Christmas is so very strange this year.
Something is missing in all the festive cheer.

Perhaps the times require that we dig a little deeper....
Past the lights, the balls, the texts and the you've got mail beeper.

I believe that people have realized that they will never have enough...
and that video games, ipads and name brands are really just a bunch of materialistic stuff.

I cannot be the only woman that feels Christmas is empty this year,
Even when listening to Michael Buble, there is an echo of fear.

Christmas may ring hollow, but people are more aware...
United by a common sense of despair.

This year, the simple things have been a lot easier to see,
Just like the angel smiling down from the top of the Christmas tree.

-Cookies by Debbi:-)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chinese Bamboo


I joined The Emotional Intelligence Network on Linkedin and this was the question asked: Which emotions would motivate a person to overcome obstacles to achieve a challenging goal that is outside their comfort zone?

Hmm.
An article just came out in the Italian equivalent of the New York Times: Corriere della Sera about the work we've been doing. This is the second article drawing attention to the need for a National Newborn Hearing Screening mandate in Italy.

Four years ago the healing process began. Three years ago, we began working. It was all about riding the wave- couldn't stop if I tried- a series of coincidences motivated every action and reaction. Sometimes life happens to us, and we don't ask for the journey, we just walk it. There are potholes, mountains, sewers, tidal waves and storms to overcome, but when you focus on the light...you see only that light. And God is good, because every now and then you find a fresh-water spring in your path.

Jordan was born deaf.
I stayed at home with him for eleven years and taught English lessons on the side.
I had a wonderful husband and a perfect family.
He had the surgery for the cochlear implant.
Our lives changed.
We grew and realized that we had to share our experience.
My husband and I grew apart and then came together in a different way.
Obstacles to overcome involved public speaking, media interviews, exposing raw wounds.
The sharing required creating and using a voice that I had to discover and mature.
I still have a lot to learn and so many obstacles to overcome.

My answer is love.
Love is the one emotion that will motivate you to overcome any obstacle in your path.

The ENS- NAD equivalent, that has been battling to have Italian sign language recognized as the "Language of the Deaf" contacted one of the researchers quoted in the article. They would like to open a dialogue to see how they may be incorporated in our projects. Three years ago when I contacted them to request their assistance on these projects we were creating, they never replied.

Change and evolution are never easy processes. I'm reading the new Paulo Coelho book, Aleph and in his second chapter he explains that chinese bamboo grows in a very unique way. A tiny shoot grows shortly after a seed is sown and remains the same size for five years. During that time, this tiny shoot grows a complex root system that goes deep into the earth to support the shoot later in life. Suddenly, almost magically, five years later, it shoots up 25 meters at once!

Miracles do occur:-)
Believe.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cochlear Implants and Music Appreciation - Video

"Great lecture from Dr. Charles Limb, a cochlear implant surgeon, who spoke at a TED conference."
 Posted By Prof. Todd Houston

Monday, December 12, 2011

Life in a Cup of Coffee

Order a cup of coffee.
Refuse the sugar.
Refuse the artificial sweetener.
Drink it just the way it is supposed to be and taste the bitter.
Feel your mouth automatically crinkle up.
And smile
at
yourself.

Taste life in all of its many flavours.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I Must Know..

When troubles cloud the way and block your vision with walls, stop and look around.
Consciously make the effort to notice the weather, a yellow leaf, two birds flying the same pattern side by side.

If you take the time to look at the people around you, you can usually separate them into two categories: dead eyes and bright eyes.

The bright eyes fascinate me. The heart behind those eyes beats quicker than the average, the mind works faster and curiosity overcomes me.

For a long, long time I was completely unaware of life evolving around me.

Everyone has a story to tell.
When I find those bright eyes, I stop and ask the person to share their life with me.

And strangely....for a brief moment in time, they do.

When you're a child, you share your pbandj sandwich.
When you're an adolescent, you share your ipod.
When you're an adult, you share yourself.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Day the Bully Ate Dirt

I've been debating about whether or not to blog this, because...well, my mom reads my blog and I'll get the worried Grandma phonecall.
But...
I'm a big girl, so here it goes..

A bully has been messing with Jordan for two years at the bus stop.
When your son is in high school, it becomes a little more difficult to deal with bullies, because:
1. I can't call the bully's mommy;
and
2. I can't show up at the bus stop to defend my son.

The first year, Jordan would come home tired and if the bully had annoyed him, stressed.
This year, there have been less episodes, but the bully was still around.

Yesterday, Jordan came home from school and went straight to bed. I followed him and found him on his bed. He wouldn't look at me. The night before we had had a fight that lasted to the morning before he left for school, so at first I figured he was still mad, then I realized it was something else.

I tried to ask him to talk to me, but he told me to leave him alone.
I didn't. I just sat there.
After twenty-five minutes, he told me that he got into a fight with the bully.

After another hour I managed to get the whole story:
The bully put a pack of cigarettes in Jordan's knapsack. Jordan took out the cigarettes and threw them in the bully's face. The bully kicked Jordan's knapsack.

Jordan turned around, grabbed the bully and threw him on the ground. From what I understand, there were three rounds and in the end Jordan's friend separated them, Jordan got on the bus and came home.

He told me he didn't start it and he didn't punch him in the face. He told me that he was still upset about our fight and that he had reached his limit.

He looked at me waiting for my reply.

I looked at him and said, "I'm sorry that our fight caused you to reach your limit. And you know I am not violent and I don't condone violence. But
GOOD
FOR
YOU!"

There comes a point in all of our lives when we reach a limit and we are forced to defend ourselves.
Bullies beware of a deaf child wearing a cochlear implant who will take no more shit.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Italian Shade of Grey



“Everything tells me that I am about to make a wrong decision, but making mistakes is just part of life. What does the world want of me? Does it want me to take no risks, to go back to where I came from because I didn't have the courage to say "yes" to life?”

― Paulo Coelho, Eleven Minutes

Busy, the theme of the period is completely and totally busy.
And for some reason, when people meet me they see me as a priest and proceed to confess.
I went to a shop last week to buy a pack of gum.
I smiled at the guy behind the counter: balding, 65 years old, yellow teeth.
He looks at me and says, "It's a really bad period."
I asked, "Why?"
He said, "Yesterday morning my woman of ten years left me."
I said, "Oh, I'm really sorry."
He said, "Then, my friend of five years left me in the afternoon."
I hesitated, uncertain, and asked, "So, you had two women?"
He replied, "Yes."
I looked at him and said, "Poor man."

“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It's one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it's another to think that yours is the only path.”

― Paulo Coelho


Then, I was coming back from Parma on the train two days ago.
I tend to meet interesting people on the train.
I was reading the new Paulo Coelho book, "Aleph".
The man across the aisle said, "Excuse me, Miss. Who recommended that book to you? It's for intelligent people, not young ladies."
*Smile*
I looked at him, kind of shocked, yet curious at the same time. He was about 76 years old, bald, wearing a non-matching sweatsuit, yellow teeth.
Ok. I'll admit it. Curiosity got the best of me- if he thinks it takes an intelligent person to read a Paulo Coelho book, then he must be intelligent and he must have a story to tell.
And when you read a Paulo Coelho book, it's all about the journey and who you meet on that journey.
So...
I got up, crossed the aisle, sat down across from him and said, "Okay, tell me your life story."

So, he did.
He spoke for one hour and 40 minutes about his life, his father who was a CEO of Exxon, the tire company he created himself in Genova, his two kids- one of whom is some important financial person in Italy, his three airplanes, his three wives- the first one who left him for an American sculptor is 65 years old and on her 65th boyfriend - and all of his mistresses throughout the years because he was never a saint. At one point he looked at me, told me his second wife- the neuro-physicist once asked him to go to the wine cellar to fetch a bottle of wine for dinner; he didn't like being ordered around, so he left her.

As the train reached his destination, he looked at me with a sparkle in his 76 year old eye and asked me, "So, do you think we can meet again? One thing could lead to another and you never know..."

I wished him luck and told him he was too young for me:-)

Give me strength.

“The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter.”

― Paulo Coelho, Veronika Decides to Die








Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Children's Table

Once upon a time, I sat at the Children's Table for Thanksgiving Dinner.
That experience lasted 14 years.
Apparently, I then became a grown up.
So, I graduated to the Adult Table.

Yep, just passed another Thanksgiving spent in Italy eating pizza.
I didn't write a What I'm Thankful For post this year, because I am smack in the middle of a moment where I have everything to be thankful for.
My kids are happy, healthy and growing; family and friends the same.
Basically, it's one of those terrifying moments when you feel completely fragile because you are so very thankful, and utterly conscious of the fact that such serenity can change in a blink.

I've met some interesting people over the past couple of months. I believe there is truth in the idea that people are a reflection of who we are as individuals in that each person has the ability to bring out parts of us that we never knew we had. Those may be good parts or bad parts. The important thing is to reach a level of consciousness in order to quickly understand if it's the bad parts. There is great truth in the statement: The best way to truly know a person is to see how they behave when they are totally free to choose. (F.V.)

And if you should be that person totally free to choose, you may one day be lucky enough to learn to know yourself.

Things were so much simpler at the Children's Table.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The American Way

I sent Professor Betty Vohr an email after having received her name from Janet Des Georges, and she replied with resources in 8 minutes flat.
I'm floored.
I don't believe I shared the latest piece of information on this blog, I think I wrote it on the Italian one a month ago.
The Italian Society of Neonatology has just formed a Project to Promote Newborn Hearing Screening in Italy. I happened to be at the Congress when that team was formed and just happened to wheedle my way onto the team:-)
I know absolutely nothing about neonatology, so I asked my American network for assistance.
And they have come through once again.
For now the Neonatologists are starting the project by researching how many birthing hospitals in Italy actually perform the screening and if they do not perform the screening, why not?

I'm starting over from the very beginning.
Stay tuned....
*Smile*

PS. Yet another region of Italy- Calabria - just passed the screening at a regional level also thanks to the work of our Pediatric representative. Love that!!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pause

I'm eating a heart-shaped lemon lolly-pop and contemplating.
Actually, I'm not.
*Smile*
I'm taking the moment, to appreciate this particular second in time when I'm barefoot in bed, wearing my x-box pajama pants and not thinking, stressing, reflecting, wondering, sweating over, about or in regard to anything.
I just plain am.

My car is clean, my lawn is mowed, my dog isn't barking at the cat, my kids are with their dad and the world is silent except for my fingers clicking the keyboard.
Simply incredible.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Reflections of a 40 Year Old Woman

The difference between everything before forty and forty is all about awareness.

I dropped Sofia at school, had breakfast with my friend and then sat outside with her on the bench overlooking the Medieval walls. We've been doing this the past 9 years, first with Jordan and her son and now after dropping off Sofia and her daughter. She's lived the past four years of chaos with me.

She looked at me and said, "I remember when you were fat, wore grandma underpants and sang The Color Song at the preschool. Now look at you. I think you can be proud of the progress you've made and how you've made it."

We sighed together.

Sometimes we have no control over the roads we must take. We are given a situation out of our control, and we have to react. Other times, we have the power to choose. Yet that power and need to make a choice, sometimes causes more suffering than when you do not have an opportunity to make the choice.

Life is complicated. But it's livable.

At forty, life changes from physical to mental.
That doesn't mean that the physical isn't there, it just means that if you take my high school Powder Puff football team from 1989 and place them across the line from the class of 2011............we'll kick their asses.
Not because we're faster or stronger physically, but because we don't try for a first down, we can only see a touchdown- and life has taught us the quickest way to score.

Our objectives for life become larger, the picture becomes clearer.
Instead of trying to barrel our way towards the touchdown using brute force, the game becomes about which strategy to use.

In all aspects of life, in all relationships.

I am aware, I am blessed, I am 40 years old.

And I'm spending my birthday with Luca, Jordan and Sofia. Once a family, always a family.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

For Tea

T-3

Two nights ago Jordan sat in bed with Sofia and me. He gave me a hug and said, "I'll have to work harder, won't I?"
I said, "You don't have to change schools, the choice is yours. But yes, you will have to work harder."
He replied, "I'm ready for a new beginning."

Amen.

Last night driving home after seeing a movie with Jordan, I said, "I feel old."
Jordan said, "Mom, you're not old until you're forty."
I looked at him.
He looked at me and grinned.

Shit.

Friday, November 11, 2011

40 or Bust

T minus 5.

Perhaps the first conciously intelligent concept I learned as a child growing up was that whatever shit I found myself in, no matter how deep the hole...I could always crawl to the light. I believed in the light, and I still do.

The difference is that I now have a posse.
After years of baring my soul, sharing my mishaps, sorrows and adventures, I have a woman posse.

Perhaps the greatest, most important discovery at age 40 is screw men and give thanks to the women in your life that will cheer you on, heal you and love you...The most wonderful thing about 40 is that we realize that as women we all have our insecurities but that other things in life are more important, so we become a circle, and that circle is tight.

Between yesterday and today I've received five emails from women offering support after having read my blog. I have learned so much from the personal experiences they've shared.

Within the past three days I've had three new mothers reach the forum with babies under six months of age. These were not weepy mothers, they were I-will-kill-for-my-child-mothers. I read their comments and it all seems surreal- the moms from a year ago are the moms offering support...circle time. Mom posse stuff that happened here three years ago and that is now forming in Italy.
Light...something in our life before giving birth to our kids teaches us to have faith in the light. So we move forward.

Today I woke up and went straight to see the principal of the school where I'd like to see Jordan.
I asked them for help.
We were four women in a room.
They nodded their heads, smiled and understood the situation.
We have decided to transition him so that he has a better idea of how the new school may be different and whether or not he feels comfortable.
The school where he is now is structurally similar to a bunker.
His new school is wide, spacious and full of light.
We are moving forward.
Thank you so much for your letters...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

40 is Hot

I think that at age forty, brains meet sexuality and inhibitions leave the table.
I know men who are fifty and suddenly act like twenty year olds.
I love 40, twenty can kiss my ass.

But that just ain't on my mind today, because Jordan came home from school and said, "It's time to change schools. My classmates are violent and they don't understand me."

Shit.

In Italy there are many different types of high schools one can choose and the one we chose with Jordan is easy on academics. Because it's easy on the workload, the students are often the lost souls of middle school, not always, but often. There is definitely a some sensitivity lacking in his classroom.
While I would have insisted last year and I would have insisted that he not be SO immature with his classmates, I can't do that this year because he has grown. And I really like my son. He can be a pain in the ass, but what he's dealing with in his classroom is not totally his fault.

Which means I have to do something about it.
And I have to think. I know that he's mentally capable of a more significant workload, but he's lazy. So lazy.
The good news is that he wants to change.
We are a family that believes in change.
We are a family that has suffered, screamed and travelled through change.
What's one more trauma to overcome?

People have always helped us. Teachers have understood Jordan's needs.
But can we expect more from his peers?
Looks like we'll be getting information about a high school specializing in Artistic Studies. The students have to be more sensitive if they're Art Appreciating, right?

Ok. Changing schools can be a new and exciting adventure, course it could be a total disaster...
but at t minus 6 days to age 40....I'm thinkin' everything will work out just fine.
Because 40 is hot and my kids need to know that when there's a problem, Mamma will listen.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

40 is beautiful week starts now

Let the countdown begin.
T minus 7 days until I become four-oh.
Sofia came home from school with an A+ in Math and an A+ in Italian.
Jordan came home with an A in English and a D in Graphic Design.
Sofia excels in everything she does and smiles and giggles.
Jordan is a homebody and hugs me a lot.

I worry about Jordan. He's a boy and I do not have boy experiences, actually I'm quite a disaster at understanding all males. He's at that age where he probably would want to do a lot of things like go out Saturday night with friends or hang out with girls, but the complicated situation in his high school class is not giving him the opportunity to grow socially. I've asked him if he wants to change sections or even schools, but academically he feels comfortable, so he isn't willing to risk that sense of security to wade in unknown territory. I can't make that choice for him...yet. The best I can do right now is let him know I understand his situation and that I am ready to make the change when he is.

He comes home from school serene, which makes me think things aren't too bad, but if I compare my high school life to his, and I was no party animal...I had fun and he is not having fun.

40 allows you to take all the experience baggage you've lived and apply it to your kids.
At 40 you've learned the difference between yes and no, right and wrong, child and adult.
I used to want to be 21 forever.
But 40....40 seems to me like the first half of my life is over and I have a new starting line.
I get to take everything I've learned in the past forty years and use it as the woman I have become...to kick some ass for the next forty years.
I will say this: I don't care if there's a lil more jiggle in my ass or that gravity has taken effect after giving birth to two kids, because there's a helluva lot more strut in my step and a femininity in the way I cross my legs that 21 never imagined existed.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Stick Shift

When you turn 40, do you suddenly become wise?
Do you break harmful patterns and smile more?
Do you love unconditionally and suffer free of charge?
If you've controlled everything your entire life, do you suddenly hand over the reigns?

Maybe you say WTF a few more times than you did before.
Maybe you pass on the nutella milkshake and run an extra lap.
Maybe you go to the cinema alone.

Maybe you're driving down the street with your kids when California Kingbed comes on the radio, and since you happen to love that song, you pump up the volume and scream the words with your daughter as your son calls you tone-deaf.

Perhaps you do something totally materialistic like buy a new car.

Perhaps the choices you make and the repercussions you never spoke about do not define you negatively, but serve to strengthen you as you continue down that road.

Once upon a time you had a child who couldn't hear or speak.
Once upon a time all American Presidents were white.
Once upon a time it never snowed in Baltimore in October.

I believe that 40 is beautiful.
And I believe in happily ever after 40.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Chivalry and Fair Maidens

Once upon a time men used telephones to call women.
They didn't use facebook or text messages.
Men wrote love letters by snail mail and sent roses.
They prepared romantic dinners and lit candles.
At least the men I knew used to do this for the women they cared about.
Men haven't changed.
Women have changed and for some reason settle for the text message or the facebook email.

On Saturday I went to visit my girlfriend. Her grandfather is in the hospital. I went to say hi to her mom, who was in the room.
When I walked into the room, I saw my Gram and Pop.
I flashed back about eighteen years ago when my Pop was in the hospital, lying in bed, weak as my Gram fed him the hospital food. They were in their own world of tasteless soup, dry meat and warm water.
I observed the same scene and watched my friend's grandparents- I couldn't move.
Sixty-nine years together.
At a certain point she was having difficulty cutting the apple, so my friend's mom tried to take the knife out of her hand to cut the apple for her Dad. Her mom gripped that knife and stared down her daughter- I thought someone was going to lose a finger.
She finished cutting that apple for her husband and never once took her eyes off of him.

Define love.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lazy Me


Today is lazy Sunday.
I took the kids to breakfast, because I didn't begin the day as lazy me.
Jordan wore gloves in the car and a black hat- sunny and bout 68 degrees.
Sofia wore her stylin' new boots and her curls.

We got to our favorite breakfast place and found jack-o-lantern orange and green cookies half-dipped in chocolate, so we HAD to get some of those.
Jordan ordered three ham sandwiches and four plain schiaccias, a glass of warm milk and a peach iced-tea.
I had a marmelade croissant and a cappuccino.
I love breakfast with my kids...................I love driving to breakfast with my kids and fighting about gloves; I love when Sofia orders 10 ladyfinger cookies, 5 orange pumpkin cookies, 5 green pumpkin cookies and 10 chocolate dipped cookies- and I have to correct her order to the tune of , "AWWW, Mom!!!!"
It isn't Denny's, but it has a certain Tuscan-American single woman with two unique kids flair.
*Smile*

We finally finished.
Jumped in the car.
Made our way home- California King Bed was playing on the radio, so Sofia and I became Rhianna and Jordan turned off his processor.
As soon as we got home, I ran to the laundry room, took a look at the mountain-shook my head, climbed the stairs and dove into my bed with its leopard print winter comforter screaming my name....
and
haven't
moved
since.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Addio


Growing pains happen when you least expect them.
Jordan comes home with a pimple on his chin.
Sofia looks at me and says, "Mom, I'm eight years old and you can't tell me what to do!"

When I was an adolescent, my mouth worked quicker than my mind. I never thought before I reacted, I would just react.
As an adult you don't do that.
As an adult, you have acquired the level of sensitivity and empathy that only one with a history of impulsivity can achieve.

There are phases, experiences, events that take you back to adolescent insecurities, though, and once again...the hand may be quicker than the brain.

You can quit smoking, but old habits die hard.
And some people...are quicker to leave than others.
Some people are more sensitive than others, and those are the very people that don't let you see that side too often...until it is too late.

So you keep the moments that made you smile, learn from the moments that caused you pain....keep loving and keep going

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Maybe...

when I close my eyes I see my past, and when I open my eyes I see my present unfolding before me.
Maybe...
it was unfolding too fast and I lost control for a minute.
Maybe...
I'll take the train to a destination unknown and trust that train to deliver me safely.
Maybe...
I'll get off the train before I reach the final destination.

Maybe, I'm tired of all of the may be...s.

Tomorrow...
I'm taking the train to Sorrento to see Dr. Anu Sharma speak.
So excited!!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Black and White

One day you wake up and you're simply different.
The sun may be brighter, the wood smoother and the street you've walked a thousand times for a thousand years...is suddenly new.
You find yourself holding a familiar hand that feels familiar, protective...
yet suffocating.

You stand in the middle of that street and wonder how you got there, because it no longer fits you.
You, no longer fit you.
Emotions like anger flood through you and considering you've never actually felt anger before, you have no idea how or where to put it.
Your clothes don't fit, the fence is too tight..

Sometimes, you just have to grow.

I am passionate.
I never knew that about myself.

And,

I believe in love. I see love in a croissant with berry jelly and a cup of cappuccino with mocha sprinkled on top.I have worked hard to create an equilibrium, damn hard.
But if you ask me to run outside in the rain without an umbrella- I'll one up ya- strip and run.
Even if I just got my hair done.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Inhale.....Exhale

I quit smoking a week ago Monday and haven't touched a cigarette since.
40 is approaching quickly and the number just seems like maybe I should have my life enough together at this point to not need to shove something stinky in my mouth everytime a crisis presents itself.
Every now and then I go for a massage to a woman named Rossana, who helps people quit smoking using acupuncture and other such remedies. She said one thing to me about a month ago that really hit me. She said that "Smoking a cigarette is like looking for the nipple and breast milk. You pick up a cigarette when you feel alone."
I started smoking a month after Jordan was diagnosed. I quit when I found out I was pregnant with Sofia, and I started again when I stopped breastfeeding.
It bothers me- that association between feeling alone and starting smoking when I found out Jordan was deaf.
I felt totally alone.
But I certainly wouldn't want to smoke the rest of my life because Jordan was diagnosed as deaf and I couldn't cope with that fact as a responsible, mature adult.

I chose to quit. I don't feel as alone now as I did years ago and I probably have more stress now than I did then, but it's my stress. And I handle it alone.
My kids by my side...

I experienced a strange sensation about a week ago.
It was an inkling of a sensation.
And I can't be totally sure, but if I had to guess, I believe it was "serenity".
Every year people send me New Year's wishes and they always wish me a serene New Year. That has always bothered me, I want crazy, insane, dance in the hail stuff for my New Year!
However, that sensation that I believe was a piece of serenity...made me want to wish for more.
And so, my feet move forward, my children hold my hands....and I await the next chapter in our Book of Life
in
Tuscany.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Bubble

Three years ago, I was sweating in front of 900 pediatricians, preparing to tell Jordan's story.
I was convinced of the need to share our story, and without a doubt, it was the need to inform that outweighed the panic and cold sweat of the moment as I stared into the swarm.

Three years later, I stood before a hall of ninety pediatricians who attended our Pediatric Audiology Network session at the National Pediatric Conference and led the discussion that went from citomegalovirus to the state of the screening from region to region to the great national debate as to why the Italian government still has not passed Newborn Hearing Screening on a National level.
For the past three years, I have been collecting contacts, begging for email addresses, screaming to be heard, demanding to be considered...and suddenly
People are asking for my help.

I had a ci surgeon who has a number of patients who are on my forum contact me to explain that his Audiologist, Speech Therapist and Audiometrist are currently working and not getting paid because their contracts were cut. Flat out cut.
He asked me to help him by using my blog to publicize the situation.
So I did. I hope to help him, but I am only one person.

I began this mission convinced that one pediatrician equals one thousand children. 1-3 children are born with a hearing loss. The more I speak, the more children I can potentially reach. This year, we held courses for a total of 1,300 pediatricians.
Do the Math.

No matter how much you work, how many people you reach or touch...
There is still so, so much to be done.

When you can't touch the problem, it can't touch you.

After the pediatric session in Torino, I went to visit a Mom and her 18 month old who had just awakened after bilateral ci surgery. His mom was holding him as he awoke.

One hour later I was with a group of families from the forum who decided to meet. There were both adults and children with a ci. Chatting by means of computer just isn't the same as watching three kids meet themselves for the first time. Each of them stared at the other ones' processors and smiled. And the parents drank their glasses of water amidst a climate of empathy.

It's nice not to have to explain and to, just for once, simply be understood.

Sometimes, life should be lived in a bubble.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Blue Ice-Cream for Lunch

I spent the last beach day with my girlfriend and my girl.
At a certain point a bee decided to bless us with its presence.
Sofia SCREAMED.
And jumped on me.
She continued screaming and whining.
I said, "SOFIA!!! BEES STING GIRLS WHO SCREAM!"
She stopped.
We cuddled.
I snuggled her up.
She has the most kissable cheeks. Her cheeks are like balloon cheeks, you have to attach your lips to them and just keep kissing.
There was a time when I dreaded Sundays. Sundays in Italy are family days to be spent at the table over first, second, third and fourth courses...a day of eating and sleeping on the sofa.
Today, we spent our Sunday on the beach, soaking the sun and listening to mp3 downloads.
We had blue Smarties ice-cream for lunch. I told her NEVER to tell her children about the kind of mother I am.
She said, "Okay, Mommy, I promise I won't".

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New Pearls



Debbi once told me that this would be an introspective period for me.
She was right.
The period has now become a life-style: balanced, harmonized, lived.
I hurt my parents, people I love and probably myself during the journey, but before you truly appreciate what you have, you almost need to spit out the stuff that you never really came to terms with...and overcome the pain.
When you survive the spit phase, you start appreciating all that was good. It isn't true that we only remember the bad- we just need to acknowledge that life is never perfect to begin to appreciate all that is truly perfect in our lives.
There was a time when I was a little bit of my mom and a little bit of my dad.
Now I'm me.
We fall.
We get back up.
We fall.
We get back up.
We learn to walk many times in life, and if we are truly lucky...
the people we love continue to hold our hands.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mommy-Do

Two days ago I had a pediatric course on audiology in a part of Italy I'd never visited. I drove five hours in a car alone with the surgeon who performed Jordan's cochlear implant operation. When I got in the car, he asked me if I liked driving. I said, "No". He said, "Okay" and "Usually when I drive with other people, they drive and I work." I said, "I don't drive distances, I take the train," and I pulled out my little smartphone and did work:-) During the ride, I asked the forum if they had any questions for a surgeon and a couple of people asked a couple of questions that I referred to him. I think he had fun. We had a grand old time doing my work and speaking cochlear implant related English.

I enjoyed the scenery. We stopped in a place called "Holy Water" and had frozen coffee. Spiritual moment.

We finally arrived in Teramo and had an amazing dinner with our regional representative of the audiology network. Beautiful evening, stimulating conversation about kids, screening, cochlear implants and good food.

I tasted Trebbia, a wine from Abruzzo.

The next day a Professor from Rome arrived who I had heard about but had never met. He once operated on the Pope. A friend of mine had told me that, so I asked him about it and he told me that was a particular time in his life.
I asked for his assistance for a couple of questions on the Italian forum.
He gave me the answers to help the parents who asked the question. He didn't just give me an answer, he looked interested in the question and expanded on the answer.

Humanity and intelligence. Beautiful.

I love my job. I love it because I am surrounded by people who make a difference in children's lives, yet who know that their role is minimal compared to speech therapists, teachers, parents, pediatricians, etc who all contribute to helping a child grow.

 It's a together process.

I stopped in Florence for the night...for a girls' night out. And shopping the next day.
Then, I came home had dinner with my girlfriends who listened to my tales of a course in Abruzzo over pizza with eggplant. We laughed, hung out and dipped cookies in ice-cream.

One hour later I picked up my kids, who were ready for me with a school list of things to do and various complaints; I returned to being a mom.

As I was taking out the trash about ten minutes ago, feeling the first chill of Autumn, I realized that life gives you many opportunities to be happy. The moments may be fleeting or they may be periods, they may be represented by people, work, kids, family, lovers, husbands or pets....but they do exist.
And they need to be appreciated.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9-11-2011

















When I came back, the people of New York did something magnificent. They moved forward.- Alona Elkayam


Let's not forget how tragedy and adversity can help people become more than they thought was possible; how difficult times allow us to see and realize the best in us.- Nathan Haskins


Remembering the hurt, loss and pain that everyone experienced 10 years ago and still today! My heart goes out to those that were lost, those that lost loved ones and to those that still fight for us every day! God bless! - Karen Feeser
Ten Years ago today, many of us will never forget where we were, what we were doing, and most importantly how we felt. Let the light of God shine upon those who have been lost and to those who have survived. That day changed us all, let us never forget. - Jason Cantow 
10 years ago my life was in transition, I was going through a divorce, changing careers working 3 jobs and going to school to become a Paramedic. On 9/11/01 I was walking into the Steadman Station for my clinical rotation on BCFD Medic 1. While standing at the watch desk I watched the second plane hit in New York. The rest of the day was surreal but I knew right then I had made the right choice and no matter what I was going to be a Paramedic and nothing could stop me. NEVER FORGET! - Martin Cohen
I am trying to explain 9/11 to my girls as we watch the memorial on tv. Tell them how I came out of the subway and saw everyone looking up at the burning towers. I found 2 friends that I worked with and we ran with some other coworkers to my brothers apt on 15 th street. I ran without shoes because I wore uncomfortable shoes that day. Seems like yesterday. Still unbelievable - Stefanie Fine Hiller
Now, more than ever, I am proud to be an American. We take a hit, and we get right back up. We remember and we feel. Most importantly...we pass this strength onto our children - wherever in the world we may be. And as an American living abroad, I am touched to say that Italy feels too.

Friday, September 9, 2011

What Does a Hungry Rabbit Do?

Sometimes the diagnosis is no.
And the prescription is deal with it.
A door slammed.
And a big fat WHY?

When you continuously butt heads with a No and pick yourself up again, you learn that you have choices.
The power to choose is the most effective medicine to cure ass-on-the-ground syndrome.

There are many effective homeopathic remedies to dry the waterfall:
Looking at your children as they sleep. (Silent, peaceful children as opposed to screaming, demanding kidlings tend to have a more immediate impact)
Shopping- the less you spend on something you've been dying for, the better.
Running- the more you sweat, the better.
Nutella milkshake- do not exceed one a day or the Shopping effect may become traumatic.
Etc.
Perhaps the most effective cure of all is talking to, sharing with and listening to another friend who has received the same diagnosis time after time. Because while you are suffering in the middle of what seems like a neverending moment of impossibile grief, she knows that the light is there waiting for you.
She will listen to your pain and ask you important questions that will only begin to register as you find the strength to pull yourself towards that light.

And once you finally reach that light, which equals loving yourself...
you will use your knowledge to help the next woman lost in a foreign country.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

TransParent

"Mom, I want to cut my hair off."- Jordan.
I looked at the bush on his head.
Me: "REALLY??"

Hearing aids, cochlear implant processors and long or short hair have never been an issue. For me his hearing aids were his ears, a part of him...never wanted him to have a hardware complex. Jordan's the one who shaved a processor in his hair on the side he doesn't have the processor. He started high school last year with bush hair, and I loved the curls. I never even thought that he'd wanted to grow it to hide his processor. I'm a firm believer in showing the processor so that people know he has a hearing loss. Then towards the end of the year, he made some comment that his hair hid the processor. Only then did I reflect that maybe HE WANTED to hide it. I never went in depth with that type of discussion...I just let it and him be.

But when he told me he wanted to go back to short hair, I smiled...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Venus

Today...
a mom told me all the progress she's made, where she is in the journey and asked me technical questions about the cochlear implant. Her son was diagnosed three months ago. He is three years old. She's had to make up for lost time and she's on auto-pilot without even realizing it. "He's doing well, he's been wearing the hearing aids for 60 days, he says Mamma, Babbo and acqua."
I told her to join the forum. It's not about the hearing aids, the ci or the words...it's about sharing the day on the playground when a child comes up to your child, points and says, "What are those things on his ears?"
Support...is a Venus thing.

Sofia stood at the door, tears welling in her eyes and looked at me.
I told her to come sit by me.
I snuggled her up, and asked, "Are you in a fight with your girlfriend?"
She nodded her head.
She said, "She ignores me when she's with all the boys playing with the Wii. Just because I'm the little one."
I understand.
I looked down and saw her nails painted black and silver swirled-like.
I said, "Wowwwwwwwwww, who did those?"
"She did!", and Sofia smiled.
Painting nails is so Venus, so is ignoring girlfriends for boys.

My girlfriends and I are having my Italian soul sister's pizza for dinner tonight. She makes the best damn pizza from scratch! We're bringing beer and coke and preparing to be girls. Women need to be girls.
She's going back into the hospital tomorrow for her fourth operation in a year.
Venus is strength.

Monday, September 5, 2011

To Dye or not to Dye

Fifteen years old, blonde and beautiful, diabetes.
She flashed on my homepage yesterday with a status changing from in a relationship to happily single.
She commented on her own post that she was happy to be free and in the field again.
A series of posts and links followed:
Elle
We're Girls!
I'd like to see a falling star to make a wish..
Don't ever tell me you love me again, because you're full of it...
I wish that my heart would function again, we always fall in love with the wrong people..
Sometimes when I say I'm fine, I wish someone would take me in their arms and tell me it's all going to be okay..

She flashed on my homepage again this morning asking the following: How do you think I would look with black hair?
I wrote: You're beautiful, you would be stunning in green hair...we all have "black phases"...I've certainly been every color possible. But black is aggressive and trying to return to blonde afterwards takes forever. People seem to be nicer to blondes...once upon a time you were "Fro Smile"...where'd she go? Find her again and then we'll talk color.


She got it.

Insulin shots all throughout middle school with Jordan. Beautiful. She has this innate determination; we all do, yet sometimes we forget. Sometimes we just get caught up in other people and we forget ourselves.
When you're fifteen, you're in the tunnel.
When you're thirty-nine...it's all about seeing the light.
And sharing it.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Honey, let's fly the jet to Maine for some fresh lobster...

I just read the following fb status: Flying to Maine for some fresh lobster!
He and his fiancèe live in New York.
It took me 48 seconds to comprehend that he was actually gassing up the jet to go to Maine for some fresh lobster. 
They'll be returning to NYC this evening.
I asked him if he'd ever flown his woman to Kentucky for a cold beer and some real Kentucky Fried Chicken. 


5 minutes later another fb status popped up: Taking my woman to Red Lobster!

Reflections of a Mamma sitting on her porch in Tuscany as her kids are playing outside at 9,30 pm. Sofia just asked if we could go to the center for a water balloon fight, I'm still recovering from the foam party...

I have two members of the forum going in for ci surgery tomorrow, one 12 month old going in for a TAC and MRI and a single mom trying to grasp the degree of deafness of her 3 year old.

And as I think of what these families are going through, I'm wondering what it would be like to hop a private jet for some lobster. And I've had my share of lobster.

I'm thinking that I miss romantic.

Not the lobster kind of romantic, that would be nice and my heart would probably explode, but the Kentucky Fried Chicken, cold beer and picnic table romantic, even though I don't eat fried chicken.

After chewing on this for about an hour, as the happy couples enjoy their meals....the real questions are:
1. Are you laughing?
2. Is the conversation flowing as freely as the champagne or Coca Cola- depending whether you're in Maine or Red Lobster USA?
3. Is there eye contact?
4. What do you do on a private jet on the way back to NYC?









Friday, September 2, 2011

Strappy Black Patent Leather Printer

I fondly look back on the first time I did something as a single woman.
I bought a printer, followed the directions and installed it.
I kissed my muscles and smiled.
My next courageous feat was changing the lightbulb above my kitchen table, which required unscrewing and delicate handling.
Jumps of joy.
Throwing out the trash was a royal pain as the dump is like a kilometer away, until I incorporated the throwing out of the garbage in my daily run (walk).
Now, I kind of sit and observe everything and everyone. You can tell who lives life and who sleeps, who struggles and who shrugs.
Since that first printer installment, another one just broke.
Technology inspires yet intimidates me.
Today I went to buy my third printer in six months.
I walked into the mega-store and found one I just loved, printer love. The price was 49,99 and was a printer-scanner combination. I asked the hot media guy for assistance, he went to the computer and told me the price was wrong, it cost 59,99.
Mr. Miller, my old typing - Business teacher flashed through my head, and he was not happy.
False advertising!!!!
I got pissed off, felt taken advantage of, and complained.
I asked the guy if he would give me a discount based on deception.
He half-nodded.
Indignantly, I took another tour of the printers and found a lovely shiny black printer for 49,99 that was a printer-scanner-fax machine.
I asked him if he had it in stock.
He checked the computer and said the price was wrong.
NOT AGAIN!!!!
Instead of 49,99, it was on sale for 29,99.
I looked at him and he looked at me.
I asked him if he'd like me to pay him more since the price was wrong.
*Smile*

Thursday, September 1, 2011

24 Hours of Sexy

This blog all began when I started outgrowing eleven year old sweatpants from college, dirty Nikes and Victoria's Secret cotton bikinis, because my eleven year old deaf son became independent and no longer needed 24 hour surveillance.
I began investigating sexy. It started with a thong, evolved into healing and exploded into using my experience to provide resources.
My son helped me find my own voice as he began using his.
Throughout the journey, people would always ask me, "Don't you LOVE living in Tuscany? Aren't you SO HAPPY there?"
I would always chew my lip on that one.
I worked a long, long time on sexy.
I have a new facebook friend who sees sexy 24 hours a day: to her, nachos and Italian porchetta at 8 am are sexy.

So I thought I'd see life through sexy...
Flying from Australia to Tuscany for love. Realizing that you cannot control love, you can only choose to give it. Feeling truly alone for the first time in your life as you suffer the flu in a country that is not your own. Getting out of bed, standing on your feet, and living one full month of yourself, by yourself before you return to take care of others. As you always have done...

Sitting on the terrace in a pair of fur-lined Uggs, your Grandfather's striped boxer shorts, a tie-dyed shirt and a scarf, relaxing until you hear the 15 month old launch a red lego onto your court from the terrace above...getting up and retrieving that lego three times, because once upon a time, you had a 15 month old who all of the sudden became 15 years old.
Lying in bed next to beach-blonde curls reading a fairytale about Princess Sofia as you read The Happiness Project...
Sweating on your keyboard..
A bottle of white wine and heaping plastic plates of Italian delights..
Running sprints in a small town with a group of 80 year old toothless women cheering you on...
A snapshot of a couple who has been through it all, smiling together on an empty beach that once was full...
Publishing your dream-child..
Riding your motorcycle along the Amalfi Coast with your daughter on the back...
Going back to school at age 40 something...
Tales from a carpool line...

I have worked on sexy and I have been inundated by sexy.
14 years later...I have chosen to be happy in Tuscany.





Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Freefall

A person chooses to bungee jump. The person prepares meticulously, mentally and morally and chooses to jump.
Off the side of a mountain.
From a bridge.
For what?
For one moment of adrenaline, for the rush that comes with the freefall, for that one moment of will I live or will I die?
To mask the sensation of vulnerability and flatline that accompanies the daily grind?
Live in the vulnerability for an extended period of time.
Shake hands with vulnerability.
Standing with two feet planted firmly in the ground may be the greatest adrenaline rush you ever experience.
And it lasts for a comfortable while.
Until life presents you with another opportunity to jump.
It is possible to fly with your feet on the ground.

To heal our wounds, we need courage to face them.- Paulo Coelho

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Italian Line Dance

Walk a straight line.
Go to the mall and window shop.
Drink your coffee while mentally planning the week.
Eat your grilled chicken salad with the same honey mustard dressing that you love because you know the flavor works.
And if you suddenly stop and turn around quick-like?
If you walk the straight line and always look forward, and suddenly side step it to the left with a headswing?
If you skip the salad and go straight for the Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake heavy on the whipped cream?
Go off the road.
For a minute.
You may just see a little girl laughing hysterically as her brother desperately tries to find her in a pick up game of hide and go seek between two walls.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Excalibur

So...
I hopped on the train that was an hour late. Strangely, it was the first time I'd ever had a train in Italy that late. I couldn't really complain, the humidity had dropped and the wait was fine.
I read my book.
I made my way to my seat to find a four year old boy sleeping on it next to his Mamma.
I sat down in the seat across from mine and smiled politely. Mamma looked relieved.
Four minutes later an adorable guy of about 20 years of age stuck his head into the compartment and politely asked, "Signora, is that your seat?"
I pointed to the sleeping child and the seat by the window occupied by his Mamma, and replied, "No, that's my seat."
The adorable guy, looked at me and said, "Ok, no problem."
He went to sit in a pull down seat in the corridor.
Amazing to know that there are still polite 20 year olds left in this world.

20 minutes later the angelic sleeping child awoke.
The child sat across from me.
His mother next to him.
Adorable 20 year old took my window seat.

I continued reading.
Over the next twenty-five minute period, Big Mamma's leg stretched into my personal space, leaving me just enough room to receive periodic kicks in the shin from angel child who apparently also loved to scream.
Just as I was tempted to throw the child and his Mamma off the train for being, well, rude, obnoxious, painful and loud....the most incredible thing happened.
There was another beautiful couple (without children) seated in pull-down seats in the corridor.
I glance to the left and as if in slow motion, the girl part of the couple pulled out...
A light-up, music playing
SWORD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The devil child's eyes lit up.
I gasped in shock.
And the child was occupied for the rest of the ride.
Yet another miracle in Tuscany...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Post number 1,020: Jodi Meets Paula in Florence

Well, after 4 years of blogging, of sharing lives, of living the ups and downs of the daily grind and those moments of difficulty and exhilaration...we finally met.
And when we met, there wasn't an awkward moment, we kind of just continued speaking as if we had been in the middle of a four year conversation.
Adorable.
Paula is beautiful and the rest of her family- I got to meet Julie...spectacular- I give her about six months until she's on the cover of Seventeen Magazine.
They put the Brady Bunch to shame.
Keep in mind, it was about 104 degrees in Florence, the kind of weather where just standing provokes the dripping face sweat kind of thing. And there we all were, hugging, sweating and talking.
We talked about kids, life, family, friends and the Nucleus 5 upgrade while shopping for thongs and makeup.
The perfect meeting for two women who have gone through life's major transitions...
Together...
Virtually.
It was as if I had known her all my life.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Divine Intervention

Tired of all of Man's sins, God decided to create another universal flood.
First, however, God called upon the most deserving of all men on Earth and told him: "Listen, a universal flood is coming, you must continue to have faith and you will be saved."


A few days later, the flood began, so the man escaped to the roof of his house and began to pray: "God, I beg you to save me from the flood, I believe in You."


While he was praying, some guy arrived with a boat and said, "Hey man, let's go, jump on or you'll die!!"


And the man replied, "No, no. You go on ahead, God will save me."


However, the water began to rise and when it reached the house, another man arrived who said, "Move it or you'll die!!"


And the man replied, "No, no, God will save me!".


But nothing happened.


At this point, the man was about to drown, when yet another boat arrived and those aboard screamed, "Come on, jump in or you'll drown!!"


Again the man said, "No, no, God will save me!"


The man then drowned.


However, since he had been a good man on Earth, he went straight to heaven.


Once he arrived, he went to find God and asked, "Why didn't you save me?"


God looked at him and replied, "Oh, I sent you three boats, didn't I? What else was I supposed to do?"

Open your eyes.
Keep the faith.
Sometimes the most effective Divine Intervention occurs over a plate of pasta in Tuscany.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Swiss Banker

I took the train to spend the day in San Vincenzo with a friend of mine. We shared stuff. Private stuff. Girl talk.
Woman talk.
She shared her kids.
The greatest sharing a woman can give to another woman is to share her kids.
We spent the day on the beach, swam in the sea and played with some rackets and a little yellow ball.
So simple.
Beautiful.
On the way home as I was getting off the train. I met a short, petite 60 year old Asian woman with a limp who spoke English. She worked for a banker and had travelled from Switzerland to Milan to Grosseto to catch a train to Capalbio.
She was lost.
I carried her bag for her and helped her find the right train.
As we were trying to find the right train, her boss called her on her cell phone. The woman had been travelling for over 24 hours.
She was green.
I heard her speaking to her boss and the only words she repeatedly uttered were, "Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Yes, sir."
She had to wait another two hours for the right train. Capalbio is like 30 minutes from Grosseto.
She told me a car would come to the station at Capalbio to pick her up.
I left her sitting on a bench.

I spent a relaxing day on the beach.
She spent 24 hours travelling to reach a place to work for an asshole.
I hope she was paid well.
...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Home Alone


For fifteen days I do not have to cook three meals a day.
My laundry load is two thirds lighter.
I do not have six children buzzing my doorbell asking for Jordan and Sofia every fifteen minutes, nor is my telephone ringing with requests for movies, sleepovers or the like.
Silence reigns.
With the silence comes the anxiety accumulated from the past year of making it all work, making it all come together, juggling work, lessons, meetings and school events.
So, today I treated myself to a massage.
And as I sit in front of my computer eating mint chocolate chip gelato, after having said goodnight to Jordan and Sofia...
I
am
smiling.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Intimidating?

Jo from Australia came to visit me the past couple of days. She's been following the blog for three years and we've become closer over the years. Amazing meeting her in person, she's sent me letters at critical points of this journey without ever knowing it.
The second time she came over my house she confessed that she found me intimidating. Me????? I'm probably one of the most down to earth people around. Somehow, she got the message that I have it all together, that I'm this wise, wonderful woman with a perfect life.
No idea how that happened. Three years I've been dealing with broken pieces, struggling to fit them together in order to complete a new puzzle. Every post is a reflection of a moment, a struggle and a serious effort to find the light in the darkness. There is always light in the darkness.
People have been so totally shitty to me, people that I love and who I am determined to respect. I refuse to be a victim in my own blog. So I concentrate on the beautiful people who have helped me grow.
I choose.
And I try to make choices in my kids' best interests.
Always.
There was a moment when I threw away the sweats for skinny jeans.
There were moments on Sofabed Island, where I berated my brain trying to find the right answer to the question, "What is love?"
I don't know what love is, I only know that it comes in many shapes and forms...the best thing is to love everyone, and at a certain point the love strategy comes back around to you. You learn to love yourself, because you finally realize who you are.

And that's really all you can be and do.

That realization slams your feet on the ground and brings peace.
I said hello to a guy on the beach I thought I knew. I was wrong. He followed me from the beach to my car and asked me for my telephone number. He may have been 24 years old. At first I was nice when I told him to get lost. He didn't get it, so I had to get bitchy.

A 65 year old man started hitting on me on the train, luckily Jordan was sleeping. I told him I didn't speak Italian.

So much shit has happened in the past three years. Character forming shit.

In one 24 hour period, I wear running shoes, flip flops, sandals and heels.
I communicate with families, throw out the trash, fight with Jordan over X-Box and Sofia for stealing my new lip-gloss.

Me, intimidating???
Nah.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Shoulders

Shoulders come in many different shapes and sizes.
There are baby shoulders, Grandma in the nursing home shoulders, separated women shoulders and happily married men shoulders.
The happiest shoulders are those which have two chubby legs dangling from each one with a pair of sweaty, sticky hands drawing shapes on the top of a bald head.
It can become exhausting transporting those chubby little legs, as cute as they may be. And with heartwrenching regret and a bit of relief, the touching moment comes when you have to gently place those legs on the ground and with a kiss on the cheek and a pat on the shoulders encourage that child to walk on his own two feet.

And that child walks on, stumbling along the way with a band aid here and a kiss there until he becomes too big to sit on shoulders and develops a pair of his own.

If the stumbles are accompanied by the kiss...the shoulders will shoulder the world with heart.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Airplane Drama

Well, we made it home. The flight was smooth except for two things: there was a one hour thunderstorm just when we boarded at Philadelphia (apparently my bags were left outside in the middle of it because I'm still drying clothes), so we had to sit for an hour and a half without moving..love that.
And...
At about 2 am USA time, Jordan felt sick.
We were sitting in a row of four seats. He was on one aisle seat and I was on the other with Sofia sitting next to me and a seat between the two of them. At a certain point, he leans over and says, "Mom, I'm going to be sick!" He was holding the vomit bag.
I said, "Run to the bathroom!"
He got up and started towards the bathroom, that was the moment I realized that he didn't have his processor on because he had been trying to sleep. I tried to get his attention, but the plane was dark and he had already begun running.
I was on one side of the plane and he was on the other and the only thing I kept thinking was that he would be throwing up in the bathroom, locked inside and not able to hear me.
I ran around the plane to his side, but he was already locked in there.
We talk a lot about CI moments, but this was one of my first "Deaf" moments. Sounds odd, but it's true.
I started shaking the door, but like softly because I thought someone would come after me.
I paused and shook again.
I slightly began becoming agitated, when after the fourth shake that at that point was earthquake, he opened the door.
He read my lips, "JORDAN, YOU CAN'T HEAR ME AND I CAN'T HELP YOU IF YOU LOCK THE DOOR!!"
He said, "Oh yeah."
So, he left the bathroom door unlocked, I stood outside the door, and all's well that ends well.
Well...I had him put his processor back on and told him not to ever take it off again on the plane. I also told him to hold onto it tightly when he goes to the bathroom;-)
Home sweet home:-)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

wo-MAN

Sometimes I feel like we're hillbillies.
See, while where I live there's a ton of culture, art history, traditions, etc....if your Aunt's a dyke in a small Italian town, nobody really talks about it.
In my family, we are black and white about our lives. We are what we are. We live how we live and we love.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, teaching Jordan about abstract concepts was extremely difficult. It took time for him to understand the concrete, forget about the abstract.
I've blogged about his Bar Mitzvah, and how we tried to teach him about religion despite the language difficulties. I've blogged about many things, including the fact that my sister is a dyke.

Now, here's the latest.
We are currently in the USA spending time with family. Niki came to visit us, while we were with my mom.
At a certain point of a conversation, Sofia looks at my sister and says, "Aunt Niki you are a wo-MAN."
Aunt Niki laughed. Jordan laughed.
Sofia as we know is extremely manipulative. She knows how to get what she wants from every single person she knows except for Aunt Niki. Apparently she was studying Niki, to figure out the best approach. She still hadn't figured it out when Niki left.

We were in the car with my Dad and my Dad asked how Aunt Niki was -Sofia said, "Aunt Niki doesn't brush under her armpits." My dad said, "I know."
Sofia said, "Aunt Niki has girlfriends."
Jordan said, "I know."

Niki took Jordan to see Harry Potter and they had an amazing time.
We all went to the nursing home to visit my Gram. There we were playing the "Gram, what's my name" game. My grandmother's dementia has gotten worse, so we lighten the situation by asking her to guess our names and we give clues.

Jordan took control of the situation and tried encouraging Gram to remember us. When he told Gram to look in Niki's direction, he said, "Gram, look at her, who's that? Look at her eyes."

Look at her eyes.
Not only do I have the most amazing sister, who lives her life her way and educates others...but I have kids who get it...hillbillies my ass.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lightning Bugs and Buttercream Icing

I remember running around in cutoff jeans shorts with my sister under the Weeping Willow tree on Nemo Road, catching lightning bugs. We used to grab a glass jar, poke holes in the lid and fill that jar with those crawling bugs.

Now, Sofia runs through the yard, collecting as many as she can hold in her little hand and I have to fight with her not to bring them in the house to give to my mom.

I'm sitting in my air-conditioned bedroom typing on my mom's laptop as Jordan fights some Playstation battle next to me. I wear a scarf to bed, and my mom looks at me in horror, but I just can't get used to the air-conditioning, there is no ac in my house in Italy.

I'm catching up on things like Snap Boogie and Anna Graceman, amber alerts and the outrageous prices of everything since the last time we were here.

As I stood in line waiting for my chocolate snowball, I heard the Michael Buble song "Home" for the first time while "at home". Strange sensation.

In any case, we're relaxing. For the first time, in a very, very long time, I feel relaxed. And I feel like the only people who need me are in this house with me.
Home sweet home...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Modern Roman Warriors

When I started blogging on Deafread, I was permitted to enter through a crack in the window, despite hesitation on behalf of the Deaf Community. I only wanted to share our story, and learn through your stories.
I could understand the reluctance of a community to let an outsider in, especially an outsider who was hearing. Just like you read my story, I read yours.
Since the huge debate regarding passing Italian Sign Language as a language has begun, I have been "Pro" as long as the language does not take rights away from those Deaf individuals who choose not to use LIS. I have shared stories of families with children with cochlear implants, who use Total Communication to provide information regarding the right to choose, and that that right must be respected.
Because...I have read your stories.
Because...you cracked the window.

A couple of months ago I became facebook friends with a friend of friends. I think I clicked the friendship- he had a good smile. We had a couple of exchanges over photos and I invited him to the Italian forum I administer. To my surprise he began commenting and posting articles related to Deafness. I wondered how the group would react. I felt kind of strange and invaded, I knew he had no direct involvement with Deaf. Then, one of the members of the forum reacted not nicely to one of his posts.

See, in that instant, or you choose to close the door, or you choose to open the window just a little more to provide a little more knowledge. He obviously wanted to learn and was curious. My group felt violated. He asked, "What can I do to help you?"

That is a double-edged question if you have not reached a point where you are comfortable asking for help. I have no problem with it. I replied, "I need a politician to help us pass Newborn Hearing Screening at a national level".
He answered, "I can help you."

He just happened to be a leader of a political party for the region of Lazio, where they have had tremendous difficulty passing the screening at a regional level, mostly due to the wrong politician at the wrong time. He asked me for information to write a note to the Regional Council to propose the screening.

I contacted two parent associations in Rome, a leading state of the screening researcher in Italy and our Fimp Audiology Network representative for Lazio. We collaborated to write the note that I then sent to the politician.

He modified it and presented it to various political parties in Lazio, and I just received an email from him stating that the Regional Council has agreed to consider the motion to refinance the project.

Unbelievable.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Your Chocolate in My Peanut Butter

Sometimes nothing and everything happen simultaneously.
So, you can choose to react to either nothing or to everything.
Or, you can smile, and keep living.
You can sit on a lounge chair by a swimming pool situated in the Tuscan countryside as your daughter happily splashes around with her friends.
You can take your son to see a film, just the two of you.
You can spend your only night free home alone all by yourself and realize that that nothing and everything touches a part of you...but not all of you.
Because sooner or later you realize that it is impossible to have everything if nothing is missing.