Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Brain Matters

Summer has been a whirlwind so far.  I cannot seem to catch my breath.  On July 1st my grandmother died.  She was 88.  Leading up to her death was a year and a half of a downward spiral.  She suffered from an evil called dementia.  It started with her anxiety and constant worry.  This was not new as she seemed to always worry, but it was much more pronounced.  It progressed into panic, violent outbursts to full blown dementia. 

Русский: Крушение поезда с царской семьей. Борки.
If you have not dealt with someone with dementia, it is difficult to explain. With dementia, it seems as if the years all stumble together.  Like a freight train that was going through life at a fast speed until it crashed.  Each car colliding into the next. Some cars overlapping and flying to the front.  All containing life events, memories and wild dreams.  And as these life events, memories and dreams tumble out of the cars the person is left trying to sort through them and put them back where they belong. But the places that they belong are irreversibly damaged.  

Also my good friends brain is not working properly.  She is a beautiful woman who graduated University with honors and received awards in her field before falling to mental illness, drugs and alcohol.  In which order, I am not sure.  For 20 years she has battled and struggled with this illness. I have learned to befriend her in a totally different way.  I love her and always will.  I also miss the person she was but cannot mourn that loss because there are still glimmers of that old person in the person she is now.  

I have another grandmother who is approaching 94 years old. Her brain has not changed but I now know she has suffered from a form of mental illness for most of her life.  She has been and is even more so now, delusional.  She makes up stories. Before, you sort of knew what to believe and what not to believe.  Now, you really cant believe much.  This has made me question how many things I have believed in the past, that may not have been reality.  I revisit some of her stories and make sure they were corroborated by my grandfather or other relatives.  It simultaneously makes me angry, sad and amused. She has a good heart.  Most of her stories were to protect someone or make things look better than they actually were. She may have done that over the years to help herself get through difficult times and finding that it worked for her, she continued.  

The thought of losing my mind is one of my biggest fears along with it being completely within reach.  I have suffered from depression and anxiety for most of my life. Although I have it under control with therapy and medication, there are times I can fully relate to how the brain just wants to let go and stop taking orders.  

When I suffered from postpartum depression, with my First Born, It was after he weened from nursing. My hormone levels changed and I would cry almost every day.  I did not recognize it as depression since I was able to function, and it did not feel like the depression I had experienced before. I was able to get in under control with therapy and Prozac.  The combo helped immensely.  

Five years later when I suffered with Postpartum Depression after Little One, it hit me in the form of severe panic attacks. While pregnant with him I spent 9 weeks in the hospital on bed rest because of placenta-previa.  When he was born 6 weeks early he spent 18 days in the NICU, I spent every day running back and forth to the hospital while forgetting to eat, and obsessively pumping breast milk.  The day after we brought him home, I suffered a kidney stone attack.  A week after that I was back in the ER with a gall bladder attack requiring surgery.  A month later I had to have half of my thyroid removed because of a benign lump. 

After all of this happened my brain failed me.  I was convinced I was going to die.  I was convinced that cancer was running through my body.  I was convinced that I would never see my children grow up. I was convinced that my children would be left without a mother. I was convinced that I was going to leave my husband widowed.

These convictions were what sent me into a tailspin of severe panic.  Panic to the point of not getting out of my bed and walling myself in a cocoon of blankets. I was awake all night with a premie newborn - pumping and feeding him my milk from a bottle because he was too tiny to latch on.  I was obsessed with making milk as it was the only thing I felt I was able to do.   I was afraid of eating and felt perpetually nauseous.  I shrunk down to 105 lbs. which I had not been for over 20 years.

While my husband was at work, my mother and my best friend took turns helping me.  They did all the things that I should have been doing.  First Born was then almost 5 years old and they parented and took care of him and Little One.  I felt immense amounts of guilt.  They tried to get me to eat and tried to help me get out of my room. But I felt paralyzed.  

On a good day, when the haze lifted slightly, I got to my doctor who prescribed Xanax, which I was afraid to take because I was nursing.  Luckily my freezer was so packed with breast milk that we could barely fit any thing else in there.  So when I finally persuaded myself to take half a pill, I could then pump and dump.  The Xanax worked which then led me to contact a therapist.  This led me to talk to my Dr. about an antidepressant that I could take while nursing.  I did not want to.  I was so afraid that it would hurt Little One.  They told me that Zoloft was the safest one to take while breast feeding. The Zoloft started to work which then led me to join a group for moms with PPD. The combo of all of these things helped me escape the demons.  

I can see why people have thought that they were possessed when suffering from mental illness.  There is a definite displacement.  A disassociation, of what is really happening, what you perceive to be happening and what you know to be true.  Everything is turned on its head.  Everything is warped.  So when my friend, whom I have known since childhood, tells me that she is hearing voices that are deceiving her-although I have not experienced that- I get it.  I get the fear and confusion.  When I would talk to my grandmother who suffered from dementia and she would tell me about the long deceased relative that she was just talking to, or how everyone around her was after her, or how she needed money so she could get herself a hotdog, I got it.  I got the panic and disorientation.  When my other grandmother starts to tell me an outlandish tale that involves her being the savior or hero, I get it.  I get the wanting of things to be so different from what they actually are and wanting that so badly that you convince yourself of it. 

The brain seems to be both extremely sensitive and immensely strong.  Its power is frightening.  We must take care of it, just as we try to take care of the rest of our body.  Summertime is supposed to be a vacationtime.  Maybe the rest of this summer, I will concentrate on giving my brain a vacation.  Letting it get some R&R.  Allowing the worry to stop and the light to shine in.  I want to preserve it, nourish it and honor it.   Stay healthy my friends.


English: diffusion MRI Tractography in the bra...



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Because I Said So.

Why?
Why? (Photo credit: wadem)
‘Why?  But WHY?’ 

Because I said so.

Because I am your mother.

Because life is not fair.

or my favorite... “Z”

There have to be better answers that I can give. I just have not figured it out yet. I have used these above, standard, time-tested answers to “Why?”  

But we need some new ones.  

My children have been asking this question since they learned the word.  It is an information gathering word.  When they were 2, 3 and 4 they were just learning about, well, everything. Just figuring things out, they had to ask ‘Why.’  This - while annoying after the 300th ‘Why’ of the day - can be endearing in little ones.  I wanted to give them the information they needed to navigate their world.  I felt a strong responsibility to impart the correct information.

As they get older the ‘Why’ is still about gathering information.  But this information gathering is more about how they can use it to argue their point.   

Why not
Why not (Photo credit: Pete Reed)
There are countless times my children are asking to do something/ have something/ go somewhere or eat something. If I say ‘No,’  the inevitable ‘Why’ follows.  Sometimes, the real reason I say no is, I just don’t have the damn time to even think about the question they are asking me. They ask when I am doing 500 things at once or am significantly distracted  i.e. picking up the phone, sitting down to eat, paying bills, starting a conversation, writing, reading, cooking, etc.  

They have learned that if they ask for something when mom and dad (but especially dad) are busy, there is a 60/40 chance that you will get an agreeable nod or a positive sounding grunt.  

Lumberjack
Lumberjack (Photo credit: ElDave)
One day, my then 5 year old was walking out of the shed with a saw.  Yes, a real, log-cutting saw.   When I asked him what he was doing, he said, “Daddy said it’s ok!”  Meanwhile my husband was in the shed wrestling to fix our ever breaking weed-whacker, while our son walked in, talked his ear off for a full 5 minutes, and then asked his dad if he could be a lumberjack.  Sometimes I believe that my boys are genius’s. Little. Evil. Genius’s.  
  
Then there are times I just don’t think that my children deserve another, blessed, fun thing for the day!  After playing with friends, swimming, ice-pops,  popcorn, impromptu baseball games and an overall fun-filled day, I may say, “Now go read for 30 mins.” If that is followed by a ‘Why,’ I want to explode.  Are they kidding me?   

My exploding brain is because, no matter what answer I give, that answer will be met with a rebuttal, counter point, followed by negotiations and pleadings.  I don’t have time for this shit!   My almost 11 year old is excellent at explaining to me why I am wrong, or why my reason is not a valid one. If he can not debate the reason he will plea and negotiate his terms for doing whatever was asked of him.  I would like to say that I do not give in.  For the most part that is true, but I must give in sometimes if they continue to use this tactic, right?  

They wear me down.  They know my weaknesses: the end of the day, their father is working late, I am hungry, I need 5 minutes alone, I Just. Want. Quiet.  

At these times I try the tactic at which - after I have asked them to do something - I ignore the ‘Why’ which is then followed by the scream..... “Maaooooommmm, are you even listening to me?!?”   

Does this get any easier?  I need to have some authority.  Remember when kids used to fear their parents?   Was it easier for them - those 70s, smoking, drinking, beat-the-shit-outta-you parents who would send the kids out at dawn and not let them back in until the streetlights came on?   It had to be easier than the negotiations.  I believe that my son could very deftly wear down any hostage situation.  He could also be the lawyer for Dracula in a murder trial and get Dracula off with time served.  

Where am I going wrong?  Please tell me I am not alone.  Let me know you experience this too.  Why?  Because life is not fair, I am your Momma O and I said so!  That’s Why!  

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Momma O Got Schooled!


I attended a blogging conference this weekend.  I have never been to a blogging conference before.  In fact I have never been to any conference before.  I follow some pretty amazing bloggers, Jen, of People I Want to Punch in the Throat.  Bethany, of I Love Them Most when they are Sleeping, Stephanie, of Binkies and Briefcases, Ninja Mom, Divine Secrets of a Domestic Diva..... There are just too many to mention and now - after this conference - I am following so many more!   These and many other wonderful writers converged in a vortex of awesome in Baltimore, MD, on the beautiful campus of University of Notre Dame, Maryland.  The conference consisted of a cocktail reception, a full day of classes, and a Retro Prom hosted by NickMom.

I was encouraged to go to this conference by some really great friends and a really great husband.  I did not know what to expect going in, but I wanted to learn what to do to become a better writer. I wanted to find out if I should continue to write or throw in the towel on this whole blogging thing. I also wanted to meet some of those above mentioned bloggers that I stalk admire.  

The first blogger that I started following was Jen of People I Want To Punch In The Throat.  When I read her Overachieving Elf on the Shelf, I felt like we shared the same brain.  Her words were exactly what I thought and felt.  From that moment on, I started writing increasingly.  I used the fact that so many people loved her and her thoughts that maybe they would love me and mine.  I reached out to her through email, very early on, and asked her questions about blogging to which she RESPONDED!  I was blown away. It was like getting an email from an author you really admire and having your questions answered.  Duh!  

The first night of the conference was a reception and cocktail part hosted by Full Tilt Beer.  (I would highly recommend the Raspberry Wheat.) I met some wonderful women and one man.  Let me tell you - he had balls to be the only man at this all woman conference.  His blog is awesome.  Check it out.   Then I spotted Jen of People I Want To Punch In The Throat.  I confirmed with anyone that was in earshot that it was indeed, THE Jen.  Then, I made my way over to her.   I know her, I read her, I follow her, I love her, she is the reason I started blogging.  I instantly reached out to give her a hug.... but midway in,  I realized that, 'Wait, she has no idea who the fuck I am, maybe I should not be accosting her!'  Then, I kind of pulled back as she, very graciously, was accepting of the hug.  SO it became this awkward hug, no hug, full on hug, thing.  To make matters worse, after I got informed consent for the hug, I think I held the hug too long.  (I may have smelled her hair, too.) Oh, and I probably interrupted her conversations, which left a group of wonderful ladies standing there witnessing my aggressive awkwardness.   Not sure if THE Jen remembers me, but I have to apologize publicly to her anyone else that had to witness that. I am sorry.  

Jen’s kindness and the warmth and acceptance of all the “big names” there was uplifting.  Ninja Mom writes some really funny stuff and I already loved her before meeting her.  But in person she is 10 times more hilarious. She needs her own show.  Kim Bongiorno of Let Me Start By Saying is such a wealth of information that she dispels freely and with patience.  The founder of Blog U, Stephanie from Binkies and Breifcases has to be one of the kindest souls I have ever encountered.  Not to mention my own personal idol Bethany Meyer, of I Love Them Most When They Are Sleeping. We drove to the conference together and I am forever thankful that she befriends me and gave me a second chance!  I met some people that I connected with immediately.  Teri, of Snarkfest, and Somewhat Sane Mom are, absolutely, my kind of people. Tiffany of Committedwife.com is on the mark. Keia, of Two Storied House is extremely talented, Kristi, of Finding Ninee made be cry at her open mic appearance.  Jenn, of Something Clever 2.0 , is very funny and a vision to boot. So many made their mark on me that I am sorry I can't list them all.  

I walked away with so much from the Blog U 14 conference - the classes and at the open mic nights.  I learned that I LOVE when I read my work aloud and people respond by laughing and snorting.  I learned that I am allowed to consider myself a writer.  I learned that I have to edit and walk away and edit and walk away and then edit one more time before I hit “publish.”  I learned that social media is my friend!  Who knew?  I learned that a going to a prom in your 40s is so much better than when you are in your teens. I enthusiastically recommend it.  I also learned that I can still do the running man, the roger rabbit (but not as good as my adorable roommate Jenn Rian as witnessed here!) and the cabbage patch but will pay for it in the morning and possibly a few mornings after that.  I am going to continue to write.  I am even going to try to get paid for my writing.  The BlogU 14 conference left me feeling encouraged, inspired and gave me more knowledge than I though was available. 

Us writers - wow that feels good to say - are a strange bunch.  Many of us are socially awkward. Some of us talk, nonstop.  Some of us find it hard to speak.  Some of us get too nervous around large groups.  Some of us have to decompress after too much interaction with people. Some of us LOVE being the center of attention.  Some of us dance to footloose like we were IN the movie.  Some of us like to give hugs without considering whether the recipient is game.  The thing is, we all want to be heard.  We all have a voice and we all become free and less inhibited when we start writing.  We are part of a very unique tribe.   A tribe that I am so humbled and proud to feel a part of.  






P.S.  I just have to mention a few more bloggers that I was so impressed with (in no particular order):
Keeper of The Fruit Loops 
Kissing the Frog  
Ditching the Masks 
Becoming SuperMommy 
The Mom of the Year 
Bad Parenting Moments 






Monday, May 5, 2014

Yeah Write Entry # 160

Warmth

Sun

Sand

The dull din of waves, kids playful screams and a multitude of conversations.

Then it happened.

I dropped the french fry.

They came out of no where and everywhere.

Cawing and screaming for more.  

Relentless

Fearless


Peace stealing birds.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is an entry into this week's Gargleblaster brought to us by Yeah Write 
The Rules:
Why do birds suddenly appear?
Give us your answer in 42 words. We know you all know the next line in the song. Let’s see if you can make us think of something different. Take it out of context of the original song and help me clear my head!
You don’t need to include the question in your 42-word response, and you should make sure your answer stands alone. What do we mean? Write down the question. Write down your response. Now cover the question with your hand and read your answer out loud. Does it still make sense when you don’t know the question? That’s what we’re looking for. Be creative, and remember: no family allowed!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sterling Performance

Did you see this?  This scumbag, racist, sexist, rich, old, white guy?  He physical appearance confuses me.  Maybe botox and plastic surgery?  He is a hot mess.  If you didn’t hear about it, Donald Sterling is the owner of the LA Clippers.  His “girlfriend” recorded a bunch of mind-numbing, increasingly-annoying arguments.   This was reported with all the journalistic integrity that TMZ can muster.  Then re-reported on all the other news networks, with the same journalistic integrity.  

In order to write my take on this situation, I listened to all of the recordings obtained by TMZ.  My suggestion: don’t waste your time, energy or computer speakers.  First, the arguments remind me of high schoolers and the fact that they are grown ass adults, just makes me nauseous! Listening to the recordings is exhausting, only because it is obvious this guy is a scumbag and this woman is recording him with the full intent of cashing out, big time. I don’t fault her too much.  I do fault her for allowing herself to spend time - in any capacity - with such a person.   

His whiny manipulative arguments of why he does not want HER to publicize that SHE associates with black people or minorities.  While she herself is both a black/Latina with whom HE publicly associates.   He assures her that he is not racist or doesn’t hate black people, after all he says, “I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses.”  WHAT? It’s not like he does it out of the goodness of his heart.  They are getting PAID for doing their jobs.  They are not being GIVEN anything! 

Then this misogynistic, prick goes on to tell his “girl,” “I don't want to change. If my girl can't do what I want, I don't want the girl. I'll find a girl that will do what I want! Believe me. I thought you were that girl—because I tried to do what you want. But you're not that girl.”   This guy is a waste of space.  He thinks “his girl” is an appliance and if it doesn’t work the way he thinks it should he just takes it back and gets another one.  It is obvious that he does not view women as equal or even human! Oh did I mention that he is married?  

Some are saying that he was illegally recorded and she was just doing this to get paid.  Absolutely, I agree, but that does not take away from the fact that he is a sexist, racist, misogynistic, ignorant mother-fucker.  Although he was illegally recorded, I am sure he has not hidden his views very well throughout his 70 plus years of life.  

In fact in 2009 Sterling paid out $2.7 MILLION for a housing discrimination in a case brought by the Department of Justice.  It was the largest payout ever or since.  The quotes in the sworn testimony are even worse than his girlfriend’s recordings.  Here is just a sampling from the lawsuit: 


"When Sterling first bought the Ardmore, he remarked on its odor to Davenport. 'That's because of all the blacks in this building, they smell, they're not clean,' he said, according to Davenport's testimony. 'And it's because of all of the Mexicans that just sit around and smoke and drink all day.' He added: "So we have to get them out of here.' Shortly after, construction work caused a serious leak at the complex. When Davenport surveyed the damage, she found an elderly woman, Kandynce Jones, wading through several inches of water in Apartment 121. Jones was paralyzed on the right side and legally blind. She took medication for high blood pressure and to thin a clot in her leg. Still, she was remarkably cheerful, showing Davenport pictures of her children, even as some of her belongings floated around her. ...


It’s funny that the NBA did not place any penalties on Mr. Sterling after that housing discrimination lawsuit?  I wonder why?  OH, maybe because it was hardly reported.  But if you click on the quotes above it links to an ESPN Magazine 2009 article.  So it is not as if it was hidden.  It is not as if ANYONE who knows this guy could ever accuse him of being a decent human being. Maybe because it takes someone to illegally record a conversation then leak it to TMZ for anyone to take notice?  Has it come to this?  OR MAYBE, the reason the NBA did not do anything about the guilt in the past lawsuit, was because what Mr. Sterling did - in the housing department case - he did to poor people.  You can treat poor people like shit and get away with it, but if you say something about a rich person, like Magic Johnson or Matt Kemp, you get held accountable.   I hope that is not the case.  I would like to think that racism and sexism is not overlooked if you are rich.  If only!


But as I grow older I have seen proven time and time again that if you are a lifelong asshole, chances are it will catch up to you.  Karma takes her time. She is in no rush.  Maybe that is why the Clippers suck.  Maybe that is why he is now losing his team. Maybe that is why he looks like .... I still can’t figure it out.  

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Yeah Write Submission

No!  

Newgate Wall Clock - BrixtonThey just keep going and going.  I would give my eye 
for the clocks to stop. For time to stand still, if only for a day.  

But would it really be a day?  

Could we survive without calculations and parameters?

Devoid?
click here


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This week’s ultimate question was suggested by Erica M, and comes from Alice Munro’s short story A Real Life.
Have all your clocks stopped?
Linking to the HOST Linking to the HOST
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Monday, February 10, 2014

"It was all started by a mouse."

Disney.  Walt Disney World.  Walt said, "I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse.”

A mouse.  That little mouse that has been around for 86 years, and last week he cost us beaucoup bucks.  It was definitely worth it.  Although the highlight of the trip for Lil One, who is 5, was the hotel and pool.  That was really all he wanted to do.  He was happy meeting Lilo and Stitch, and The Mouse himself. He had fun dancing with the German band at dinner one night. He also laughed at the 3D Muppet Show.  But if you ask him his favorite part of the trip, it was the pool, eating and the hotel.  In that order.

First Born was all about the rides, and since The Hub does not do rides, it was I who partook in those rides.   The rides at Disney are not too crazy so it was not taxing, but enjoyable.  

We surprised the kids with my parents (Nana and PopPop) showing up at the airport to come along with us.  So it was a magical trip right from the beginning.  

We flew out of very cold and nasty weather to some not-as-cold and not-as-nasty weather.  Florida did warm up for us after a couple of days and we were enjoying the sunshine in our shorts and t-shirts.  I dressed the boys in very bright colored, matching t-shirts as to spot them quickly in the crowded parks.  According to the touringplans.com app that I downloaded, on a scale of 1-10 the crowd level was only between 2 and 4 the entire time we were there.  I couldn’t get over how crowded it was and how much worse it must be in the summer or peak seasons!  

There are so many apps and websites and books about Disney that my OCD brain had a field day while planning.  I loved the planning process.  I spent hours and hours on www.disneyworld.disney.go.com on "My Disney Experience."

Planning is exciting, the execution is where I get nervous and uptight.  I sincerely try not to let things get me angry.  Stupid things, like Lil One crying because he does not want to leave the hotel. First Born worrying himself nauseous about what we have planned for the day.  My phone with all aforementioned apps on it, NOT WORKING and running out of battery power by noon. It took a few days to work out the kinks, but I don’t like kinks.  If things don’t run smoothly and according to my plans I feel as though I have failed.  Not only failed myself, but failed my kids, my husband and my parents.  Therein failing Disney.  

I failed at Disney for the first couple of days. But The Hub, on the other hand, is the antithesis of this.  He lets it go.  All of it.  He just goes along and does not feel the need to direct, plan or control any of it.  He is wonderful when I refer to him in a quandary.  He is quick and helpful if there is a true problem or dilemma.  But he is also King of Calm when it comes to getting stuff done.  I wish I had this.  I NEED TO LEARN THIS!  I can’t let ANYONE else plan anything that I am involved in.  It is pathetic and a huge character flaw that I would like to overcome someday.  

I do enjoy the planning and the timelines and the making of reservations - the anticipation of everyone’s needs and wants and desires - the painstaking tasks of forecasting every possible bump in the road.  I delight in that and feel really accomplished if it all goes the way I plan AND everyone is happy and having fun.  The minute that something goes astray, or someone is unhappy, I not only get upset, but I take personal offense to it. YES!  I know!  That. Is. Crazy.  I’m working on it.  

I genuinely tried to let some of it go on this vacation.  I mean, I did plan the shit out of it and took control of mostly everything, but when the weather didn’t cooperate, or the reservations got screwed up, or Lil One just wanted to go back to the hotel, (and so did First Born and The Hub), we did.  I went with it.  

I decided to have a few drinks when we went to the countries in Epcot.  A margarita in Mexico, a few beers in Germany, a couple of wines in Italy.   

I walked arm in arm with my Hub watching our boys swinging from my parent’s arms, which warmed my heart beyond compare.  

I stopped to feel the soft little hand of my Lil One, grasp on to mine for no other reason than to hold it. (we weren’t crossing a street or anything!!) I relished in that feeling the entire time.  His little fingers curved gently around my hand, made me long for the days that First Born was that small and knowing how fast it goes.  

I was very conscious when First Born and I rode the Haunted Mansion and he scooted closer to me and asked me if I was scared when I rode that same ride when I was his age.  I put my arm around him, happy to have this opportunity to comfort this little boy who is only about 4 inches shorter than me.  I explained how each of the illusions were being done and how none of it could be real, which makes it all the more fun.  

I looked at my parents and enjoyed their stories of rides that I liked and didn’t like as a child, their remembrances of myself and my brother in the very same place and what had changed and what hadn’t.  Watching them with my boys was a joy that I could not hide.  My boys adore their Nana and PopPop almost as much as Nana and PopPop adore my boys. Seeing that brought me back to the same feelings I had with my grandparents.  

The Hub and I were very in sync during this trip.  We both were feeling extremely lucky and full of emotion.  It is hard not to in Disney World.  It was a roller coaster of emotions and fun, intermixed with some tiring timelines and long long days.  


And it all started with a mouse.  An 86 year old mouse who makes families come together and have fun.  That we did.  

Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie (1928)
Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie (1928) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Paradox Sports.... Become a Member

English: El Capitan in Yosemite National Park ...
English: El Capitan in Yosemite National Park viewed from the Valley Floor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The other night I had the pleasure of going to an event.  Not just any event but one that made me laugh and cry and feel an immense amount of pride for some hometown homies.  The O’Neill family is a family that The Hub grew up with.  He was often considered the darkest O’Neill as he spent a vast amount of his childhood in the O’Neill household and The Hub’s Italian heritage was evident among their Irish-ness.   I did not meet the O’Neill’s until I was in High School.  My best friend was their neighbor and also an honorary O’Neill.  Although she blended much better.  When I first entered their home, I was teased and ridiculed and tormented and never felt more loved.  Mr. and Mrs. O’Neill have 7 children.  I love all of them.    All the O’Neill’s are extraordinary in their own right, but the two who had the event are Timmy and Sean. 



They have done and are doing some amazing things.  Timmy is a world famous rock climber.  He has been climbing for over 20 years.  Sean is also a rock climber and a T12 paraplegic.  They came back home for a visit to talk about their adventures of climbing El Capitan, -a THREE THOUSAND foot rock in Yosemite National Park- and Timmy’s non-profit called Paradox Sports.  Timmy is the co-founder and Executive Director of Paradox Sports.  Check out the website.  Their Mission: Paradox Sports provides inspiration, opportunities and adaptive equipment to the disabled community, empowering their pursuit of a life of excellence through human-powered outdoor sports. - See more at: http://paradoxsports.org/our-mission/#sthash.plW2owka.dpuf.   



Inspired in part by Sean, they create equipment and training for people with limited abilities to do what most of us would never even try.  Timmy has worked with countless disabled veterans, accident victims and those disabled from childhood, to climb rocks, kayak rivers, ski mountains, hike trails, ride mountain bikes and surf waves.  Their fearlessness and strength show us that we are all capable of whatever we set our minds to.  

Timmy and Sean gave a slide presentation of their adventures, including their major accomplishments, like Sean being the FIRST ever T12 paraplegic to lead a climb.  Timmy is a performer in the most universal sense of the word.  His fast paced and very funny part of the presentation juxtaposed with Sean’s very cerebral, pensive and dry sense of humor,  made the night flow.  It was heartwarming to see all the O’Neill’s, (Mr., Mrs., all their kids and grandkids, not to mention the honorary members and their kids.)  This group of people who I feel so blessed to know is the epitome of the word family.  If there is a problem or heartache or joy or blessing to be celebrated I know that each and every one them will be there as I would be for them.  

Here is the best news.  YOU can be a part of it too.  Look at the website. Read about Timmy and Sean and all the other amazing individuals involved in Paradox Sports.  With just a small donation to help this wonderful cause YOU CAN BE A MEMBER.  http://paradoxsports.org/donate-now/#sthash.hAQPizPe.dpbs.   When you become a member you will get a hand written note from the famous Timmy O’Neill himself.   That in and of itself is worth it, but the fact that it will also help veterans who have given so much for our country along with other’s who’s dreams can be realized makes it that much more sweet.  








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Monday, October 14, 2013

For Sale by Owner, Magic included.


For Sale:

A Warm Loving Home with a side of Magic

This is no normal home.  This is a magical and wonderful place.  It belongs to my MiMom.  She and my PopPop bought this home and watched it be built in 1948. 
They were newly married, living in an apartment in South Philadelphia and had a bouncing baby boy (my father.)  Their families were surprised and worried that they were moving so far away, going all the way to this new development in Drexel Hill. Although, they were able to convince my PopPop’s brother and his new wife to move in to the twin house attached to theirs.  My great-grandfather, Pop Otto, was there to solicit his “advise,” in broken English, to the builders and to whomever would listen.  Although he spent a lot of time saying, “Waassa matta, youa no undastan de ingleesh?” 

Pop Otto 

When they moved in, after settlement they only had about $11.00 left for the month.  Therefore the celebratory dinner that they were going to have, had to be a modest one. Pop Otto (MiMom’s Dad) got to work along with my PopPop (his son-in-law) to custom build the corner china cabinets and wooden valances on every window, along with the trim woodwork and moldings.  My PopPop was very proud of the spiel he added onto the bottom of the banister.  This was a wonderful home of a hard working couple who raised two sons.  

Super Powers
The home did not start showing signs of it’s enchantment until the early 70s.  I don’t remember the first time I was brought to the home, since I was a baby but all my memories of this home are hard to be believed.  The magic happens the minute you step in the door.  Whenever I walked in, I was instantly transformed into “pretty-girl” and “princess.”  When there in the home, I could do no wrong, no matter how hard I tried.  In this house, my PopPop who was a strong disciplinarian with his own boys became the most kind-hearted and jolly man I knew.  He also thought I was the prettiest girl in the world and hung on my every word.  My MiMom who was a notoriously busy woman always had time to tell me stories and let me bake and cook with her.  She always wanted me there.  That is part of the alchemy, when you are there you are always wanted.  You are always accepted and you are never turned away.  The magic this home possessed is still there today.
MiMom and her Princess in front of china cabinet 
PopPop and his Pretty Girl

Thinking that I was the only one that experienced the home’s power, I spoke with my cousin, second cousins and brother.  They TOO felt the forces of this home.  When you sit and eat there in the formal dining room, and people start yelling and screaming, the house does it’s work and everyone is hugging and kissing before they leave.  

Great house for Parties.
It doesn’t stop there. When sleeping in one of the 3 bedrooms of this house, it is the warmest and comfiest you will ever feel.  When you wake in this home and run down the stairs you are always greeted as though you have not been seen in ages and the care and concern for how you slept is evident. When lounging in the living room watching tv you can easily look out the enclosed porch and see all that is going on in the neighborhood, but the house may make you go to the porch door and stand there with it partially opened while leaning out to make sure everyone in the neighborhood is behaving.  The basement of this home has seen many parties and celebrations, not to mention a perfect getaway for kids who need to play and not disrupt the adults. The basement leads to a driveway and a garage that saw, teenage boys build their very own boat. It also has a workbench that was used by my PopPop, to keep the house always looking it’s best.  The kitchen is where you will find the most bewitchment happen.  There is where the best food in the world is made with meticulous care and attention to detail.  It is in that kitchen, sitting around the table, stories will be passed on and gossip will be told and embellishments will be made.  It is at that same table where you will learn how difficult it is to make a Gianetti cookie, especially because you are never given the exact ingredients.  This kitchen table and the dining room table is where all the most important discussions will be made and where decisions will be finalized.  
Notice custom wooden valance

Notice the custom made banister
So now that my PopPop has passed on, almost 4 years ago now, and my MiMom is approaching her 94th year, it is time to pass this magical house onto another hard working family.  The magic is there.  I can vouch for it.  I still experience it when I walk through the front door.  Apparently it has doubled since my boys were born as the 5th generation has been enchanted by this home. 

5th generation to enjoy this fine home.  
This house is for sale.  But as you can see, this is no normal house.  It contains amazing powers.  There is no extra charge for the magic.  Yes, it may need a little bit of work in the bathroom and kitchen.  Yes, the finished basement, may need some tlc.  But this home, this mystical place,  is a true gem.  It is where you can make the same types of memories that fuel the magic of this house.  You can purchase this home and become transformed.  It will be the best investment you have ever made.  

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