Sunday, June 20, 2010

An Appropriate Re-post

This weekend has been amazing! I've watched one of my dearest friends get married to the love of her life and to be perfectly honest I've never been so inspired by the perfection of a moment like this before. She looked incredibly happy... happier than I'd ever seen her and although I feel that her wedding is blog worthy... it's not the sole reason for this particular addition today.
As I'm riding on the Bolt Bus on my way back to NYC I'm reflecting on the importance of today. It's fathers day. An otherwise routine holiday for most has become a day filled with thoughts and memories of what was and what could've been for me. When dad was alive I feel like we would kind of compete to see who would call him first. It was always Sam of course because Sam for some reason finds it incredibly appropriate to call people before the sun has risen simply because he's awake. So I think today, as I remember dad for his humor and heart, that it's inevitable that I should re-post a blog that I wrote for him 2 years ago. Although I know he's gone, I still feel his presence in my life.
Dad, I'm sure I speak for all of us when I say that we miss you very much and hopefully you're in a place where you're filled with unlimited happiness and love. Please continue to remind us that you're still with us although perhaps you could stop messing with the electronics in moms house ;-)

All my love,

So it's that time of the year when we all come together to celebrate our fathers and all the wonderful attributes they've added to our lives.  For those of you lucky enough to have met my dad, you know exactly why it is I have turned out the way that I am.  

My dad is, to say the least, a character.  Let me clue you in a bit.  About three years ago (or so...i can't remember now), we decided to get a new puppy.  Now my dad wanted to name this wonderful addition to our lives Dick.  He thought it would be nice to invite people over to pet his Dick.  :-)  Funny, right?  Which by the way, we didn't give the dog that name... for some reason it didn't suit him.  That, or my mom said no.  His name is Simba and I adore him!  

My dad without a doubt taught me how important it is to laugh.  Joking is something that you will find emanates throughout my house and not a single family dinner goes by without it.  Whether it's lovingly teasing someone, telling a joke, or simply him spilling his drink (which happens just about every dinner as well), we all get in a great laugh when dad is around.  One of the greatest laughing memories is when we were having a conversation and he said "barping and furting" as opposed to burping and farting.  One of those "had to be there" moments... and certainly one of the best!  

My dad taught me the necessity of music in my life.  No matter what is going on, he is constantly singing, humming, or whistling.  There is a tune in my dads heart that is on continuous play.  He loves to blast music throughout the house and to this day plays our old jukebox that he had from years of owning a sports bar.  Dad always used to tell me to find a man who sings all the time and it's definitely one of my most sought after attributes.  Dad's song, is what inspires me to sing.  I'm positive my music abilities come from him.  He has one of those swanky Frank Sinatra type voices... it's very nice!  He is also a great Organ player!  

My dad has taught me (or is still trying to) the importance of a dollar.  Not an easy thing to teach a girl who loves to shop.  But I know that I'm getting better at it.  He taught me how to drive (also, not an easy thing to teach a girl who loves to speed), how to work a room, and how to flip the bird.  I learned when I was 2 and have been using it happily ever since.  

When I was younger we used to go to Carvel for ice cream allot.  Those were some of my favorite childhood memories..

The absolute most important thing that my dad has taught me is forgiveness.  We have definitely had our rough patches.  And the more I think about it, the more I know that the reason we've butted heads as often as we have is because we are insanely alike in personality.  Not really a bad thing, but for two stubborn Italians, it just doesn't work out some times.  I know though that our bond is very strong and even if we're infuriated at each other, we still love each other deeply.  How can I not forgive the man who taught me how to laugh and sing?   

I'd like to take this time to mention that finding a good picture of my dad and I is close to impossible.  But the picture that I've added is actually one of my favorites of him because he just looks so damn happy!  It's with him, my mother, and my nephew Frankie on the tire swing that my dad put up especially for him.  

As for the video, when I was a little girl, my dad and I used to sing this song together.  It should be known that I was very sick as a baby, and the fact that I'm still here today is a miracle.  So at that point in my life, me singing this song with him was very special.  This, is "our song".  

Dad, your love and dedication to me out weigh any tiff we've ever had.  And my love for you is stronger and more deep rooted than you'll ever know.  You have made a positive and lasting impression upon my life and I know no matter how far apart we are,  our hearts and minds are with each other.  Remember that I love you... "enough".  

There are two other dads in my life that I'd like to pay a small tribute to as well.  My brothers are both fathers.  Each with one child and another on the way.  There are no words to express how incredibly proud I am of the two of you and certainly throughout the years you both will positively impact the lives of your children.  I know my life would not be the same without you in it.  I love you!!!  

PS-Hi mom! :-)  

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Oh to be brave...

Recently, I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be brave. How sometimes in the moments that we're brave we don't even realize it's what we're doing. Making the decision to move to NY was probably the bravest thing I've ever done. I uprooted myself from my entire family, my friends, and at the time what was an amazing relationship. That was brave. But there are so many other moments of bravery that fly by like light breezes... here one second and gone the next. Being brave enough to walk past the projects every day for work or even brave enough to give your number to that random guy who made you smile all night... it seems to me that this type of bravery, the bravery that lies in the every day choices that we make is the type that molds, guides, and informs our lives.

Why have I been thinking about bravery, you ask? Good question. I'm not sure. Most likely because I feel that the choices I'm making in my life right now in this very moment will dictate the course of my future. I'm not just talking career but also relationships... being single in NY is not easy and to be honest I feel like the only people who say that are the ones who aren't looking for something serious. Of course it'd be easy if all I wanted was a fling... there's eye candy every where! Alas... that's not what I want... never really has been. Even friendships... it's difficult to figure out who to trust... and trust takes major bravery.

If I were to take a step back from my life right now... I'd look at what was going on and wonder if I'm being brave enough. Am i? Probably not. I'm sure there are choices that I've failed to make or things I've said no to where perhaps I should've just gone for it. It's no good to look at the past though... the things that could've been are long gone and what's left is the road before us... the road that leads hopefully down a path towards success (which is a completely different blog... suffice it to say that success always seems to change as perspective does). No longer do I wish to take the easy road or even the easy way out... but I want to climb like hell to reach the top of the mountain... I want to fight for the things I believe in... the things I've always held dear to my heart; my family, the safety and education of all young people... love. I just hope in the great scheme of things that dad is up there brewing up an amazing concoction of a wonderful future for me...

From this moment on... no more regrets. I'll speak my heart... I'll take big risks... even if I look like a fool doing it which knowing me and my tendency towards sillyness it's an inevitability. I'll be brave. I guess the question now is... will you be brave?

"For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, “It might have been”."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork...

As it's the end of the school year my room is inevitably full of paper work. What better day to go through it all then today... a day where for the first time in the past 4 years I've lived here we're under a tornado warning. I think it's pretty safe to say I'm not going outside.

Going through paper work always leaves me with a nostalgic feeling. To see the journey of where we began to now through sign in sheets and lesson plans each of them barring their own significant memories. Times like when my middle schoolers spent entire clubs practicing for a performance only to have it cancelled because of a snow storm. Days catered to getting that one boy who never participated (but always showed up) to be an active member of club. Apparently, the key there was to bring in lots of stage combat... who would have thought fake fighting was the way to his heart. Clubs spent discussing violence in neighborhoods, bullying, suicide and sex with energetic teenage girls whose opinions were very strong and shockingly diverse. Rounding out the year with such an eclectic array of lessons and time spent with these young people definitely makes it perfectly understandable as to why I'm a bit tired. No need to fret there... my much anticipated vacation is mere 5 weeks away!

While going through the mountain of papers in my room I came across a poem written by one of my teenagers. At the time, I remember being so touched by her words and how they closely relate to the reasons behind the work I do, that I asked her to give me a copy. Hidden in between sign in sheets I found it once again and I feel it's so beautiful and thought provoking that it's worth sharing with the blog world. And by blog world I basically mean my family because I have no doubt that they're the only ones reading this. :-)

It's title is "In The Eyes of a Lost Child" and although I don't feel safe leaving the name of the young lady who wrote it... in order to give her credit I've simply put her initials below the work. Certainly, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do and maybe it'll inspire you in the same ways it inspires me.


Looking from the eyes of a lost child
Who needs warmth and wisdom to guide them
What do they do?
Hardships and struggles are on their mind
No love, no family, no memories are placed in sight
They're lost
In a world that is hard to cope with
But they're strong
They keep taking the beatings of life
No dreams, no hopes, no future
Where am I? one would say
Where am I going? another would say
Every day they wake up not knowing
If they'll make it to another day
It's either the hunger will kill them,
The loneliness,
Or the burning passion of hate growing inside them
Can't cry anymore?
All their tears have dried
Can't they save themselves?
Who knows?
Can you?
Of course you can
But will you?
Now that's up to you
But always remember...
To try to look through the eyes of a lost child...


Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Dedication

It's so hard to believe that it's been almost two years since I've posted a blog...

...Two years... a LOT has happened in that amount of time. Two years filled with happiness and heartache alike, two years filled with laughter and tears, two years filled with life and death. It comes as no surprise to me that this week is the week I decide to write once more... and what a week it's been. This week has proven to me that I made the right choice when I decided to stay in NYC. This week has given me hope that the path I've taken is leading me in the direction of change that I've aspired to make in the world; to help change the world one kid at a time knowing that if their worlds are changed it will contribute to them taking the steps necessary in changing the worlds of those around them creating a beautiful domino effect of change. Because change is a choice I teach them that choices + actions = consequences (thank you Augusto Boal).

My jobs consist of working with an array kids some who are unprivileged, homeless or who come from the foster care system. These kids have seen it all, heard it all, and nothing phases them. So when I first set off to teach this particular group I worked with, I honestly had no idea what to expect. Will they like me? Will I be able to relate to them? What can I possibly teach them? These are the questions that fluttered in my mind as I walked past the street filled with Albanian mafia members standing next to their Mercedes Benz' and Lexus'. These questions remained unanswered as I continued past the housing projects that are just one block away from the school. It's the first time in a long time that I was truly acutely aware of my whiteness.

As the weeks went on, I learned more and more about these amazing girls who decided to join my club. They were strong, resilient, and although they confessed that they thought I was weird at first they continued to come back week after week, club after club. Now we're at the end of our road, and I could not be sadder about it. I keep wondering if I did enough. If there was something else I could've done to make sure that my message of seeing life through a positive lens sunk in.

This very last week of club my girls told me that I made a positive impact on their lives. Me of all people! I couldn't really believe it only because in the beginning I was so unsure of how I would even get along with these kids! Some of them were crying so of course I had to do everything I could to not cry and they continued to tell me that they really appreciated how I would take whatever problem they were facing and give it a positive spin, find a way in which it was something that was good for them, making it an experience to learn from. It was incredibly moving.

These girls taught me that the roughest neighborhoods house some of the most beautiful souls I've met, that although they're tough exterior may proceed them it doesn't make up who they are and that the work I'm doing is valuable and appreciated. These girls also taught me how teenagers' opinions on important topics such as sex education in schools or violence in schools can be varied and valuable. I had never really had such conversations with teenagers before this group came into my life so I was surprised when their opinions didn't match up and how just by listening to each other they opened their eyes to different points of view.

Girls, if your reading this... I am so honored and touched that you allowed me into your lives, opened up your hearts, and shared your thoughts and opinions with me. I will undoubtedly miss you to pieces and will constantly be sending you every ounce of good vibes I have. You deserve amazing lives and through perseverance, dedication, and love you're bound to have them! Keep your chins up during times of struggle and heartache and remember that YOU are special and if at the time you don't feel special know that you'll ALWAYS be special to me!

"Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties."

PS-The picture at the top of the blog is of a poster that was made during club today together with the art club. The art club painted the Leadership logo and the girls colored and wrote in the papers that say "leadership has taught me". Good times!