Living With “The Fears”

BY: Debbie Arace – “Ray of Sunshine, Hope & Laughter”

What I love about storytelling is it offers me an opportunity to unveil myself in a humorous, insightful, healing way.  It frees me from the bonds that have tried to hold me down my entire life.  Writing has become my passage to freedom.  A way to remove the shackles of fear.   It is a freeing of my spirit that says:  “This is me”.  Take me or leave me but know that I am here to stay.   At least that is until God says otherwise.

As I remove my shackles, I realize that life is a masquerade party. At one time or another, we all hide underneath costumes and behind masks, afraid to reveal our true identity.

I was convinced that I knew who I was. No need for me to hide behind anything.  I wore no coverup.  If people saw me a certain way it was because they dressed me in a costume of their choice, not mine.  All they had to do was look inside to see the real me. The problem was,  I did hide.  I hid behind masks of my own doing.

I had denied my birthright.  The freedom to be me.   I was afraid to show my true self.  Afraid that people would reject me.  That I wouldn’t measure up to them.  I felt alienated in my own world. Abandoned.  Lost.  Confused.  I was less than adequate because I didn’t do what I saw others doing.  They were living.  I was existing, in a world, I didn’t fit into.  I had no direction. No real guidance.  No confidence.  The lack of self-esteem that I felt caused me to run and hide.  Alone and afraid, I found myself living in a darkened room searching for light.  Looking for a place where I could be me.  Where I could shed my own light.  I felt emotionally orphaned. I needed a home, a family, and friends that would understand what I was going through.  The “Fear Family” found me.  They took pity upon me. Worry and Rejection were the matriarch and patriarch of this family.  They understood what I was feeling and offered to adopt me.  Finally, someone knew what I was going through.  Without hesitation, I allowed them to take me as their own.

Most people are only fostered by “The Fears”.  Their stay is short. They realize that they are strong enough to make it on their own. They part ways with “The Fears” but promise to return when necessary.  Not me.  No.  I wanted to live with “The Fears” forever.  I felt secure with them.  I felt safe.  I was protected.  Worry and Rejection kept me from getting hurt.

“The Fears” had many children but I became very close to the triplets: Suspicion, Caution, and Anxiety. They became my best friends.  They looked out for me, protecting me, and warning me about the dangers of meeting new people. I believed everything they told me.  There was just one problem.  I wanted to meet people.  I liked observing people at a distance.  So many of them made me interested in getting to know them.  Every time I got up enough nerve to introduce myself to someone new, the triplets, along with Worry and Rejection, would remind me of the consequences of meeting people.  Despite what they said, I began to take chances and go out on my own.

Suspicion, Caution, and Anxiety followed me whenever I ventured out.  Anxiety would run ahead of me, followed by Suspicion and then Caution.  Suspicion carried red flags with her.  She told me to use them as markers.  Some people were not meant to be trusted.  I’d know when I’d find them.  When I did, I should place a red flag on them.  She was right about several people I met.  They had agendas. They would want something that I had.  Out of their own insecurities, they would try to hurt me.  That’s when Caution would step in. I watched those that I placed a red flag on like a hawk.  I discovered who I could trust and who was not to be trusted.  I became very aware of the intentions they had.  I learned later on that it was really God who had enlightened me to the struggles that those flagged by me, were going through.  This insight allowed me to put my fears and ego aside, by learning to forgive.  That forgiveness gave me strength.

I lived with “The Fears” for what seemed a lifetime.  I began to realize that despite the security I felt living with “The Fears”, I knew that it wasn’t a healthy environment.  More and more I ventured away from them.  That’s how I met up with Faith.  Faith reminded me that I belonged to God and that He would always be there for me.  His love offered freedom, whereas “The Fears” offered a false sense of security.   I enjoyed being with Faith.  She was honest, loyal and giving.  I felt alive in her presence.  I could be the real me around her.  She encouraged me to go out and meet people.  To take chances.  People were there to teach me, to love me.  I was here to teach and love as well.  All I needed was to take Faith with me.

The more people I met the more I understood how detrimental living with “The Fears” had become.  I emancipated myself from ” The Fears”.  Naturally, Worry and Rejection tried to warn me of dangers that could hurt me and the triplets tried to hold me back.  I assured them that Faith would be my guide.  She would bring me closer to God, to peace, to fulfillment.  As much as I loved all the protection “The Fears” had given me it was time to move on.  I thanked them for taking me in, for trying to do what they thought was best for me.  They knew they couldn’t hold me back even, though they tried.  I told them I did not wish to ever come back but if they wanted they could visit from time to time.  I just wouldn’t offer them a permanent stay.

In retrospect, I understand the importance of living with “The Fears”.  They made me see that there is so much more to life than just them.  There was a whole world out there. A total Universe that I am part of.  The Creator of all this beauty had also created me.  He/She (I refer to my Creator as Him) gave me the freedom to be me.  With Him there is no need for any costume, any mask.  There is no need for me to hide.  He knows the real me and He gave me permission to shine like the stars in the universe.  I may be a little light in comparison but I can still shine as me.

Faith taught me about risk.  Taking risks that matter.  I take risks every day by exposing myself (not naked risks, I wouldn’t do that to the world, besides there’s already a full moon filled with craters in the universe ha, ha).  There has to be humor in life.  I take risks in revealing my struggles in hopes of helping others with their own struggles.  We are all here to be ourselves, to be free, to learn, to encourage, to love.  It is because of Faith in God that I find myself writing at this stage in my life.  I took the risk of meeting people, of unveiling myself, and of letting people in.  Because of that release of fear I met the woman that God placed in front of me to bring my writing into the world.  Thank you Janis, for the opportunity for me to shed my light.

I encourage you to shed your own light.  We each have a journey filled with ups and downs.  That’s part of life.  The part we play in it depends on whether we choose to live with fear or with faith.  The choice is ours.  The rewards are worth the risk of living with Faith. ❤


biopic

Married 44 years to my hubby whose purpose in life is to prevent me from getting through the “Pearly Gates”.  Mother of two, Nanna of four loving granddaughters and retired secretary aka administrative assistant.  I went to the University of Hard Knocks where I received my Doctorate.  My thesis is titled:  How To Survive Life’s Trials Without Killing Yourself or Someone Else.  I live by the belief that when life throws you a curve, learn from it rather than use it against yourself.  Faith and humor are my survival kit.  Appreciate the simple things for they are the true treasures of life.

 

I Saw the Signs, And It Opened Up My Eyes! Are Ladybugs, 11:11 and the Number Eight Guiding me Toward A Celestial Transformation? I Believe…Do You?

BY: Cherry Maggiore, “The Freak of Nurture”

chris

Chapter 16: Angels Guiding Me Along The Border

As I drove my car home on an ice-cold December 26th evening, tears filled my eyes as I strained to see through the frosty windshield.  The warm wetness made a trail of tears across my cold, red cheeks.  My heart filled with a terrible ache.  After a two year battle with cancer, I intuitively knew that this was the last time I would see my Uncle Weazle alive.

After pulling into my driveway, I looked at the temperature, and it was around 11 degrees.  Particularly cold for December.  I shut off the car and just sat there for a while, reflecting on all that was happening.  So many why’s filled my head; why does he have cancer? Why didn’t he get himself checked? Why are we losing him so soon after Aunt Lorraine passed?  Why doesn’t he have more time? Why? Why? Why? FUCKING WHHHHYYYYYY????

The unfairness of it all was impossible to comprehend.

As I dragged myself upstairs to my bedroom, I listlessly went through the motions of my night-time routine.  It was unusually quiet because MSP was with her father as we split the holiday week; the streets were empty, and I was alone.  So very alone.  I crawled into bed, under my favorite furry blanket and let out a big sigh.  At this point, the tears had dried up, but my mind was racing.

Knowing the inevitable, a very selfish prayer crept into my mind.  I prayed that my Uncle wouldn’t die on my birthday, which was two days away on December 28th. I couldn’t bear the thought that the day of my birth would forever be intermingled with the day of his death.

As I tried to shake these terrible thoughts from my mind, I noticed something moving out of the corner of my eye.  When what to my wondering eyes did appear, but a tiny little ladybug crawling on my ceiling.

A slew of new questions pummelled my brain distracting me; what in the hell is a ladybug doing in my house in the middle of winter on an 11-degree night?  How did it get to the second floor of my 2,000 sq. foot house (not counting basement and attic)?  And why the fuck was it crawling in a square formation above the side of the bed where I sleep.

Keep in mind that I have a king size bed, but I only sleep on the right side, closest to the door of my bedroom.  Even though I’ve been single for the past 5 years, I never made it into the center of the bed; never did the starfish. Guess my hope is still alive that one day the other side will be filled with a warm, loving body.  But that’s another story…

So I watch this little ladybug make a square formation over and over, once in a while taking a break.  Entranced, I watched her walk this path until I passed out from sheer emotional exhaustion. When I woke up the next morning, I looked up expecting her to be gone, but she was still there…well, this is interesting.

On December 28th, (arguably the worst birthday ever), I drove to Brooklyn to pick up MSP.  We planned to have dinner at my Uncle Jeff’s house with my cousin Livy and her friends.  When we came home later that night, MSP asked if she could sleep with me.  She said she missed me so much, and WOW did I miss her, so I agreed.  She’s a master negotiator.

As we laid in bed catching up, she looks up at the ceiling and sees my little ladybug that is STILL THERE!

You must know that MSP is OBSESSED with ladybugs (I am guilty of instigating this obsession).  This love affair started when I decorated her nursery with ladybugs, filled it with tons of books about ladybugs; even her first word was bug.  When my mom, MSP and I went on a road trip to California, we stopped by the beach and saw hundreds of enormous elephant seals piled on top of each other along the shore barking up a storm.  It was incredible but do you think MSP cared?  NOPE.  She was fixated with this little orange ladybug that landed on her hand and never took her eyes off that ladybug until it flew away (I have the picture to prove it).

Every time she finds a ladybug, she counts the dots so of course when MSP sees this little bug on the ceiling, she keeps with her tradition (I think to myself, why didn’t I count the damn dots?).  She says “Mama, there are eight dots on the ladybug.”  My exhausted response was, “that’s awesome MSP, let’s say goodnight to the ladybug and get some sleep.”

After getting through my birthday without bad news about Uncle Weazle, I fell asleep grateful yet filled with dismay for what tomorrow could bring…dreading the news that he was gone yet praying for him to be out of pain.

When I woke up on December 29th, I looked over at MSP and just watched her sleep.  It is the sweetest thing to see her cheeks all scrunched up and listen to her breathe.  I looked up to see if our little ladybug was there…she was gone.

About two minutes later, I got a phone call from my Mom.  Uncle Weazle had passed that morning on December 29th, 2017 (um, I just realized that 2+9 = 11, keep that in mind as you read the rest of this story)

I wept, that gut-wrenching cry that makes your entire body shake which woke MSP from her slumber.  She looked at me and asked, “Mama, what’s wrong?” I said, “Baby, Uncle Weazle went to heaven.”  She buried her face in my neck and cried hard.

After speaking with my Uncle Jeff, we decided to travel to Uncle Weazle’s home on Staten Island together and leave the kids at his house.  Uncle Jeff didn’t want to tell his kids yet as they had just lost their mom, Aunt Lorraine, two years prior (you can read about this terrible loss in my Blog#10: My Uncle Breaks Up with Me for a Woman He Met on Zoosk!).

MSP promises to keep the news to herself, and we set off to Staten Island to join the rest of our family at Uncle Weazle’s house.

As we walked through the door, the wall of sorrow hits us…everyone is in tears, mourning the loss of a beloved father, brother, and uncle.  My family is extraordinary at supporting each other through these heart-breaking times.  Because we are a large, tight-knit family, we have lost many beloved members.  But that also means we’ve had just as much joy in the expansion of our family.  Gain married to loss, life’s yin and yang.

As we gather around the dining room table, some of us still crying, some hugging, I share my story of the ladybug.  I tell my family that the ladybug was there for three nights and that she was gone this morning.  I also share that MSP counted her dots and there were eight.

My mom looks at me with her mouth open, and says, “Do you remember the day that Nauna passed?” (Nauna is the matriarch of our family, mother of the five J’s: Jackie, Joyce, Jimmy, Judy, Jeff). I admitted that I sadly do not recall as it was many years ago.  She exclaims, “Cherry, it was December 8th!”

Immediately, my mouth drops.  My cousin then shares that she got a tattoo of a ladybug a year ago after Uncle Weazle’s tumor burst and he was rushed to the hospital; he almost died that day.  When Weazle healed from that episode, he told my cousin that he felt a ladybug land on his chest throughout his ordeal.  He thought it was Nauna protecting him, so she got the tattoo as a memorial for our Nauna and for Weazle.

We were all so moved by the ladybugs, the knowledge that our Nauna continues to protect us, we decided to get a floral arrangement for Weazle’s wake in the shape of a ladybug with eight spots.  We shared the story with the many people who came to pay their respects.  It was a powerful tribute to the ties that bind our family together, to the deep love and commitment we have to each other, which lives on in the physical and spiritual world.

And then as time moves forward…just as I begin to go back to my routine, I start to see 11:11, on clocks, on signs, on houses.   It was everywhere.  About a month after my Uncle passed, I called my mom and asked her “Mom, what does 11:11 mean to Weazle? I keep seeing it everywhere, and he pops into my mind immediately when I see it.”  She says, “Not sure if 11:11 has any significance to him, but I feel like I’ve heard of it as a sign that an angel is near you.  Google it!”

An extensive list of articles pops up in my Google search, some that just plain made my jaw drop.  I’ve shared links to a few of the articles at the end of this blog, but one statement that stood out, in particular, was this…

  • 11:11 is a coded molecular structure of “Re-Membering” and reactivating the inner master that resides within you, your true self. Re-member is a term that emphasizes the idea of putting the pieces of yourself, your “members” together into their rightful order. In a way, remembering who you really are.

Since my Uncle Weazle’s passing, I feel his presence every single day.  The signs are everywhere that he is with me.  From dreaming about him laughing with my Uncle Jeff to waking up between 3-4am, immediately greeting him by saying, “Hi, Uncle Weazle” as if he was standing right in front of me. Then seeing a pesticide truck with a ladybug that had eight spots outside the YMCA one morning (I’ve lived in Westfield for almost two years and never ever saw this truck or this company).

chris

It was especially strong when my mom, MSP and I went to the Westfield FestiFall event in town and found the most amazing artist.  He buys antique coins from all over the world and chisels out the shapes of the symbols on the coins.  I was in LOVE with his work and wanted to get one.  My mom turns to me and offers to get one for my upcoming birthday.

“Um, YES, I would love that! Thank you so much!!” Then came the task of choosing one of the two hundred coins he had displayed.  I wanted to get one with meaning; something that was special.  Typically, I am a very decisive person, but I simply couldn’t choose. We were looking for about 15 minutes when my mom sees the coin pictured below.  She says, “oh wow, it’s a Pegasus…Uncle Weazle had a tattoo of a Pegasus on his chest over his heart.”  Then the artist chimes in and says, “The Phoenix is actually pictured on the other side of the coin,” which felt appropriate as I’ve been going through a significant transformation for the past few years.  It was perfect!

Without a second thought, I said, “well then that’s the one!” So she bought it for me, and I’ve worn it almost every single day since.  Even if I don’t wear it on my neck, I carry it in my purse.

One Sunday dinner about a week later, we were telling my Uncle Jeff the story of the coin.  He looks at it very carefully and turns it over, he says “The coin is from 1973!”  (What’s funny, is that I actually looked at the back of the coin but I didn’t have my glasses on so I didn’t even notice the year!)

My mom and I look at each other and just gasp…she quickly exclaims “Cherry that is the year you were born!”  I’m totally floored.  Clearly, my Uncle Weazle intended this coin for me and as a symbol of his presence, of his love.

chris

NOTE TO READERAt this point, you may be thinking I’m a little Kookoo but stick with me, because this story is about to get even crazier…if you don’t believe yet, you will in a minute.

Recently, the signs are coming closer and closer together.  A month later, I find out about an upcoming business trip.  I’m going to Santa Barbara for an executive offsite.   Because I try to limit my time away from MSP, I planned to fly in on Monday, November 12th, as the meeting starts in the afternoon.  My assistant books the flight for Monday at 6am, but after speaking to my colleagues, they suggest that I leave Sunday as I won’t make it to the meeting on time.

I ask my assistant to move the flight to Sunday to the latest possible flight.  She books it and sends me the below ticket.

chris

The flight is on November 11th, departing at 8pm and arrives in LA at 11:11.  You with me still?

The year is 2018…and in numerology is 2+0+1+8 = 11.  So this is literally the “Most Powerful Manifesting Day of the Decade,” as per this article that popped up in my Facebook feed.

This Higher Perspectives Article explains it all:

chris-jpg.png

My flight number is 1195…the flight time is 6 hours and 11 minutes (in numerology 6 + 1 + 1 = 8).  And this is where it gets bizarre, my seat number is 1B, which means I’m sitting next to the person in 1A.  ‘A’ is clearly the first letter of the alphabet, so another 11.

Without a second thought, I reach out to the creator of The Daily Feels, Janis Gaudelli and ask if she would consider posting a blog on a Sunday since we usually post blogs Monday through Friday this would be an exception.  I share that 11/11/18 also happens to land on the most sacred day of the week (Sunday) and my blog was going to tell this story of 11:11.  It was a NO BRAINER!

She asked me to check the schedule because she’ll have to move bloggers around which can be challenging.  And as you could guess by now, my blog was scheduled for Monday, 11/12.  She emphatically agreed to allow this special Sunday edition and post my story one day early…

Whether you believe or not, I know that the universe intersects and guides us on our life’s journey if we are willing to listen and to see the signs.   Messengers and signs are gifted to us, but ultimately it is our choice to believe or to keep moving and just chalk it up to coincidence.

chris

I choose to believe.  I believe that when I board my flight to LA at 8pm on Sunday, November 11th, 2018 which arrives at 11:11PM, I will turn to the person seated in 1A, with my heart and mind open…I have no doubt that my uncle Weazle sent this person to either teach me something I didn’t know, tell me a fantastic story, offer a piece of advice that guides my continued transformation or to make me laugh in true Weazle form…

So regardless of the person who takes seat 1A, I am eternally grateful to have a guiding light in my life and my Uncle Weazle by my side.

_____________________________________________________

Prologue

Dear Daily Feelers, One night when I visited my Uncle in the hospital, he shared that his greatest fear about dying was that he would be forgotten. I made him a promise that the legend of Jimmy Mazzola aka Uncle Weazle will always live on.  I’d love to share with you an excerpt from the Eulogy I gave at his funeral, a small taste of the GRAND life he lived…I appreciate if you read about his life and maybe even Google him and watch the amazing films he helped create.

“Explosive”

It’s an honor to tell you all a small part of the grand story of James Mazzola.., James was born to Mario and Blanche Mazzola in 1954 in Brooklyn NY.

chris

James…Affectionately known as Jimmy or Weazle…was the middle child of the 5 jays…Jackie, Joyce Jimmy, Judy, Jeff. They were not just his siblings, they were his best friends.

Weazle started in the film business as a prop in the 70’s and led his first film as prop master in 1977.  He was hired to be the Prop Master on a small budget film you may know…Saturday Night Fever starring John Travolta.

Jimmy ultimately went on to prop 79 major motion pictures over 40 years and became a legend in his industry with films like Big, Elf, Smurf’s, Heartburn and his last film before retiring, Ricky and the flash starring Meryl Streep.

Weazle had a knack for making anyone he focused on feel important whenever he chose to speak to you or confide in you. You just felt special being in his presence. There’s so much we can all learn from his incredible life, so I thought I’d share a few lessons from Uncle Weazle…

  1. Love what you do. And be the best at it
  2. Find the funny in EVERYTHING!
  3. Tell stories…even if you need to embellish them to make them more amusing or more shocking.
  4. Know your power and how infectious your light and your smile can be.
  5. Mean what you say and say what you mean
  6. Be the person people count on
  7. Put the glitter on every moment.
  8. Love your family and keep them close. Treat your friends as family
  9. Blow shit up (The 4th of July was his favorite holiday and he always did an epic firework display). Just because it’s fun.
  10. Live big. Love Big. Be grand.

Uncle Weazle, I love you forever and ever and always!

_____________________________________________________________

Here are some more with interesting information about 11:11 and the number eight


ChrisnewpicCherry Maggiore is the proud single mom of her 9-year-old super-sassy daughter (aka Miss Sassy Pants or MSP) and 15-year-old pug baby (Tiki Barber); in addition to being an award-winning senior marketing executive at NBCUniversal.

Beside her side hustle as the Freak of Nurture, she also started a home design company after being inspired by renovating and designing her 1880’s home in NJ.

This insanely curious and passionate “multi-potentialite” can be found dancing the Argentinan tango, swing and Hustle every Saturday, cooking her family an Italian Sunday dinner, singing and air drumming at concerts or searching for her next adventure.

Step Up or Shut Up

BY: Padraic Maroney – “The Neurotic, Urban Millennial”

Two years ago, I was on the phone with my Dad. He lives in Arizona and was voting early, via absentee ballot, because he was traveling back East on Election Day. I asked who he voted for, assuming I already knew the answer. But he surprised me, when he replied, “Trump.”

My jaw was on the floor. I knew that since moving to Arizona he had been watching a lot more Fox News, but I wasn’t prepared for this. Plus, the reason he was flying home was for my sibling’s gay wedding. He voted for Trump two days BEFORE. ATTENDING. HIS. CHILD’S. GAY. WEDDING.

giphy

Dumbfounded, I asked him “why?” and if he knew the irony of his vote and his weekend plans. His response: “Benghazi. Clinton just left those men to die.”

He made it sound like Hillary Clinton was some goddamned geriatric Harley Quinn, driving the getaway car in Libya, and decided she was over the mission and went to go make donuts in a parking lot.

I get the stories we’ve all heard about people getting into fights with their relatives over the 2016 election results. It’s not easy to deal with these conversations, and it hasn’t gotten any easier. This year, we were promised a blue wave from people being so upset and disgusted by the president and his administration. But for the last two years, there has been no wave to come throw the American people a life raft. In fact, the only wave I’ve experienced is the crimson wave, that I have been surfing since election night 2016.

giphy1

Alas, it’s time to put the 2016 election to bed. It’s tiring to constantly feel beaten down. And I’ll be honest, I’m not exactly feeling hopeful these days. We’ve all gone through the stages of grieving. It’s a weird dynamic that we are living in. There’s crazy low unemployment, which is driving up wages, as it’s a more competitive market to land a candidate, and the stock market has been riding high. Yet, socially we live in a nightmare reality where our country is divided, and only getting further divided by the current White House occupant.

So, where does that leave us? As we turn on the television seemingly every day, we see a new mass shooting. In the last two weeks alone there have been four, killing over 25 people, plus the crazy Unabomber wannabe was sending bombs to all of Trump’s “enemies” (I put that in quotes because quite honestly, he pretty much considers almost everyone to be an enemy if they don’t get offered to bow before him).

You want to know where that leaves us? It leaves us needing to come together on a grassroots level. After this week’s election, we will probably just see gridlock in the government for the next two years. In order to make change, we need to take it upon ourselves to right the ship.

Don’t get me wrong, there were promising signs this week: The youngest women ever elected to Congress, an openly gay Governor, Florida giving ex-felons the right to vote. These all offer hope to the hopeless, of things to come and that change is possible. But we need to all come together and take action.

giphy2

Rallies are good and they provide an outlet for people. But how many people go to a rally and then put their pussy hats away until the next year’s rally? Talk the talk and walk the walk…anything from volunteering to be a mentor, to help the next generation, actively standing up to make your neighborhood a safer place to live, or getting involved with local nonprofits and giving your time to make a real difference.

It’s easy to fall into the pattern of just bitching to our co-workers about how bad things are going. We need steps to stop focusing on the negativity and put more positivity into the world. Even if everyone around you is being awful, take a step to be a positive light by doing something that will make a difference in the world. We need to lift each other up and also offer self-care to ourselves. If we aren’t keeping ourselves in the best frame of mind, how can we truly help anyone else?

We can’t expect politicians to be our saviors. Maxine Waters can reclaim all of her time and we can fangirl her and RBG all we want, yet there’s only so much that elected officials can do. The republic needs to step up, and start making the waves that will eventually turn into a Tidal Wave — one that isn’t created by climate change!

If you aren’t willing to do it, then at least do us a favor and shut up, so that you don’t end up distracting us from the work we need to do.


PM

Padraic Maroney hails from upstate New York, suffering from middle child syndrome.  His writing career began after moving to the Philadelphia suburbs while in high school. He wrote for The Bucks County Courier Times’ Reality section, written by local teenagers, and has the distinction of writing a weekly gossip column for a college newspaper at a school he didn’t even attend! His love of pop culture led him to intern at Teen People, where he met Janis Gaudelli, and realized he could turn being a millennial into a career. Since then he’s alternated between writing and marketing, but always focused on Millennials and everything they bring to the table. Padraic is a lover of shenanigans, 80s music, and the movie “Scream.”

You can follow his additional adventures on Instagram: @padraicjacob

Imprisoned

BY: Anastasia Meininger – “Offbeat Rhythms”

I was struggling to find a topic for my blog this week, I decided to go through some of my old pieces of writing, and I found a poem that is extremely personal.
It’s safe to say that putting this poem out in the world is risky. Will people think I’m exaggerating? Probably. Will they think that I wrote things I don’t actually mean? Maybe. But is this how I feel some of the time? Definitely. This poem named, “Imprisoned” pulls some of my greatest insecurities that have manifested in the inner workings of my brain and spills it into words.
As personal as this poem is, I realized that sometimes the ideas we believe we only have about ourselves, are not so uncommon after all.  Before I continue, I might as well put this poem out there. Here it is:
“Imprisoned”
By: Anastasia Meininger 
I’ll never be good enough, no it’s true that’s just me
Eyes forever muddy brown, instead of blue like the sea
 It is my words that cut me, the thoughts that seep way in
But it is your words too, I can never win
Peering sideways at my reflection, at this body of mine
Hoping it is nothing more than as slim as a line
Skin like white porcelain, wishing for a little tan that will never come
Add up all of my characteristics, and seems like beauty is never the sum
“Everyone’s got beauty,” but is that what you show us for real
 Pictures edit the world’s people, only showing tall and slim, that’s just the deal
Images run around and around
Change this and change that, are the only thoughts to be found
Will I ever be able to accept I’m me and not you-
That I’m good enough the way I was born, the way that I grew?
Looks aren’t everything, I know that’s correct
But that doesn’t help me from wanting to change the fact that I’m far from perfect
 I’m probably just exaggerating, admit it we all do sometimes
 But it doesn’t make it invalid to feel imprisoned by beauty standard crimes
Now I’ll be the first to admit, that piece of writing is pretty harsh, and honestly, that day I was probably being a typical, stubborn, woe-is-me teenager.  Putting that aside, however, there is definitely truth behind all the words that I formed into that rhyme scheme, and the way I felt that day probably heightened what I believed to be my truth.
That day, I truly hated how dark my eyes are and how pale my skin is and how I am never going to be extremely skinny. That day, I truly hated seeing people on Instagram, who I believed would forever be what society viewed as “prettier” than I am. That day, I truly hated the fact that all I could ever think about was how I looked, and how I’ll never be “perfect.” I could not even tell you what I thought “perfect” was that day, because really what is “perfection”?
It has been months since the day I spilled that poem onto paper, but something about the fact that I was so critical of myself, almost scares me. It’s scary to think that I was able to pick myself apart like that. I have realized, however, that being insecure and picking yourself apart is not a new thing. The human race has continually been susceptible to beauty standards literally since the River Valley Civilizations and possibly even before then. Whether it was women breaking their feet in China, or women trying to “tighten” their figures in the 19th century with corsets, people have constantly been “imprisoned” by these forever changing ideas of beauty. Being insecure and wanting to be accepted for superficial beauty should not be a trend, and I do not understand why it became one in the first place.
Of course, we all have things we wish we could change about how we look, and of course, those things will always be in the back of our minds. However, I think as a human race, we need to not only be more accepting of the people around us, but more accepting of ourselves. We need to be more accepting of every part of ourselves because although it sounds corny, we are all truly beautiful in our own ways. Whether it be your eye color, or your height, or your smile, or laugh, or your beauty marks, everything makes up what is wonderfully, truly, and naturally you.
I am not saying that every single day we need to wake up and say, “Self, you look absolutely stunning today.”, because I know that there are definitely days where I look like a literal mess and a half. However, what I am saying is be confident in all parts of you. Like yeah, maybe my oversized sweatshirt and messy hair pulled into a scrunchie isn’t “great looking” per se, but I’m sure as heck gonna rock it. Accepting all parts of yourself is not just focusing on your looks, but also your own quirky personality, who you are as a person, and what you do for the people around you. Once we stop comparing our own messy days with someone else’s “Wow I actually look so good today,” days; and once we stop perceiving our lack of other people’s characteristics as our “flaws”, the world will be a much more enjoyable place.
So please, be the confidently, wonderfully and uniquely you.  Be the YOU, you were born to be, and appreciate others around you for being radiantly themselves.
—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Anastasiaanas

Anastasia Meininger, aka “Offbeat Rhythms”, is a high school student in Westchester County, a suburb of New York City. She lives with her parents and older brother, and her life is filled with her hilarious and loving Italian, Irish, Greek, and German family, as well as her wonderfully crazy, and diverse group of friends.

Anastasia is a normal, yet distinctly unique teenager who loves performing, making people laugh, and even going to school! Her favorite subject is Science, especially Chemistry, and when she’s not studying, you can find her at her dance studio, where she rehearses for her dance competitions, and vocal showcases.

Where Resentment Ends, and Gratitude Begins.

BY: Janis Gaudelli – “Champion of Truths, Unicorns & AWE-tism”

The Daily Feels launched our “30-day Gratitude Challenge” on November 1st.  It was at that time where I decided to dedicate my blogs this month to just that – the things that I am most grateful for.

About two years ago, I found myself swimming in a pool of resentment.  And as we know, harboring resentment is about as beneficial as…well…nothing.  I was a living, breathing reservoir of unpleasantness.  I needed to release the angry, grudge-holding, victim within, and embrace something more positive and productive.

It was during that stormy time where I paid a visit to my local Barnes and Noble.  As I perused the Self-Improvement section, a woman was standing there looking at books.  She pulled a book from the shelf, one fell out and hit me on my big toe (PS: I was wearing open-toed sandals…%@$#).  It hurt…like, a lot!  I bent down to pick it up and glanced at the title:

journal

Then I opened it up… and read this:

5min

The page I opened to (shown above) had the reader committing to a practice – for just 5 days, 5 minutes a day.   My curiosity was peaked.  So, I flipped to the next page and realized what exactly I would be committing to: a life-changing gratitude practice.

5min.jpeg

The 5-Minute Journal was not just any journal, it was the catalyst to leave behind my resentful stance on life, and start appreciating all that is good.  I deeply believe this book was supposed to fly off the shelf, hit my big toe and hurt like hell.  It was the universe’s way of getting my attention, so I lose my grudge-ridden, resentfulness, and adopt an attitude of gratitude for this life of mine.

It was on that day where I began my 5 Day’s of gratitude.   Fast forward two years later and 5 journals’ completed, I am now on day 754.  Gratitude is now a part of my every day.  It’s my morning and nighttime practice.  I have never implemented something so easy, that has changed my life so significantly.

One of the greatest gifts that has come from practicing gratitude, is being more observant of the small stuff.  The small stuff that often goes unnoticed or unappreciated.  The small stuff we take for granted because we live in a culture that celebrates “big” (big accomplishments, big moments, big earnings, etc.).  I for one, lived my life waiting for the big moments to happen, thinking they would provide me with the happiness and inner peace I was waiting for.  Then, you know what happened?  Autism happened.  Autism took me by the shoulders and shook that “big is better mentality” right out of me.  Autism doesn’t do big.  When living with Autism, goals, and accomplishments lie in the little things, the small steps, or as we in the community like to call them, the inch-stones (as opposed to milestones).  Autism taught me that the little things hold such great meaning and significance beyond measure.  Add to that a side of daily gratitude, and the little things become the most unforgettable, epic life moments.

Moments like when…

  • Kellan tries a new food
  • Kellan can tolerate a noisy, crowded environment (without holding his ears or wanting to leave)
  • the daily schedule changes and Kellan can go with the flow
  • Kellan verbally choosing a Halloween costume and wears it proudly, for the first time, in his school’s Halloween parade
  • Kellan and I experience a ‘first’, like going trick or treating and enjoying it.

Those are the moments, albeit small to some, that makes the biggest impact. Those little things that replaced the big things I once was motivated by and relied on to make me feel happy and whole.  Those are the little things I would have overlooked if that book didn’t fall off the shelf, and hit my big toe.

I went from living large, to living light.   Light allows me to pay attention to the little things.  Light allows me to be a better human.  Light allows me to laugh at things I would have otherwise taken way too seriously.  Light allows me to look for the life lesson, instead of the lashing.  Light allows me to let go of the grudge and focus on gratitude.  Living light is a practice…one I will never abandon, one I consider a game-changer, one I am committed to for life.

PS: If you want to live life on the light-side, you absolutely can.  Start today by joining our 30-day gratitude challenge on Facebook or Insta (links below) and/or get your hands on the 5 Minute journal I link to above.


janisbiopicJanis Gaudelli is The Founder of The Daily Feels.  She started this passion project to reveal the magic behind storytelling, and how truth-based narratives bring people together in the most heart-warming of ways.  Fascinated by soul, depth, intellect, raw truths and rebellion with a cause. Often captivated by the awe of nature: star gazing, moon manifesting, sunset chasing, waves crashing, crickets singing. Fiercely curious about the inner-workings of the human psyche… she professionally studies human behavior for a living.  Forever proud and grateful for being a mom to the force that fuels her life: her 7-year-old son, and greatest professor, Kellan.

FOLLOW JANIS AND THE DAILY FEELS TRIBE @:  FACEBOOK & INSTAGRAM

 

 

So Much to be Thankful For

BY: Jennifer Angarano-Ricci – “Ms. Happy, Alive & Built to Survive”

Well, you know, this has been one hell of a year for my family and me. On
October 30, 2017, I was diagnosed with cancer. On November 14, I had surgery
and was declared cancer-free (I am choosing to use this date as my anniversary
date). At the end of November, I found out that I would have to have chemo
before radiation, due to the aggressiveness of the tumor removed, and due to me
being (relatively) young. After I finished radiation in July of this year, we found
out that my father was having a recurrence of prostate cancer (after 14 years,
dammit), and that he would need to have radiation treatments. You’re probably
thinking, “Where does it end?!” – but I’ve been thinking, “What have I learned?”

November is the month of Thanksgiving, and pretty much everyone and their
mother does a 30-day thankfulness challenge on Facebook. I’m not knocking
anyone’s ability to feel gratitude, but I often wonder WHY is it only in November
that these challenges pop up? Because of Thanksgiving? I mean, yeah, it’s a
holiday and all, but why are we not openly being thankful EVERY DAY?  Here at The Daily Feels, a 30-Day Gratitude Challenge was initiated- but I know that this challenge is geared towards being a spring-board into a daily feeling of gratitude that lasts year-round.

But back to me: Now that I have met the one-year milestone of my cancer diagnosis, and I am quickly approaching my first cancer-free anniversary, what have I learned about gratitude, and how has it made me feel thanks more deeply than ever?

I’ll begin with the gift of Family. This was a big learning experience for me because I like to take care of everything and not totally rely on others. My family stepped up BIG TIME and showed me how much love they have for me, and how much I have for them. As a 45-year-old woman, I really thought that I could handle everything- but I had NO IDEA what cancer was going to do to me emotionally and mentally- forget about the physical part! On the day I took my bandages off after surgery, I found myself sitting on the toilet, crying my eyes out.  And you know what? My mother was on the ground, holding me while I cried, telling me not to worry because she was going to take care of me. From that
moment, I started to open myself up to let other people take care of me.  Me…the woman who always takes care of everyone else. Everyone in my family helped out, whether it was taking me to appointments, cooking or ordering food, doing school drop offs and pickup, and even just calling or texting to see how I was. It was amazing, and really brought home how blessed I am to have family close to me, and to have a close family. Being thankful for my family doesn’t even scratch the surface of how I feel.

Of course, being thankful for my friends comes next. You know those Facebook
friends you have, but never see? Well, let me tell you something- THEY’RE REAL,
and they’re really awesome! Local friends brought gifts (occasionally of matzo
ball soup, I might add), sent cards, called and texted. Other friends farther away
were always checking up, and a few sent packages-which were wonderful mood
boosters! All of this makes me think of the phrase, “It takes a village…”.  It DOES
take a village- to raise a child, and also to take care of each other and get each
other through anything. We’re all connected, and we need to always look for the
light in one another, rather than the differences.

Lastly, I am thankful for Patience. B.C (Before Cancer), I had always been a
patient person, or so many told me. I feel joy in helping others, and teaching
people how to do things, etc. and never really rushed anyone along. A.C. (After
Cancer, of course!), I really learned what it is to practice patience like I never have
before. We rush through our lives thinking that we’re patient, until we get put
into a situation that teaches us what patience really is. I realized during tests,
surgeries, and treatments that patience isn’t waiting for something or someone
without having a fit- it’s allowing things to occur in their own time and trusting in
the process. You can’t rush through healing, you can’t hurry up a chemo
treatment, and you can’t forge through radiation, without allowing your body to
work through its adjustments to each situation. And also- even now I look at
myself and think, “hurry up hair! Grow longer already!” knowing that it’s grown a
lot in six months and that it will eventually be back to the hairstyle that I like.
Patience is the key to everything, and though it takes continuous practice- it’s
worth it.

There’s no reason why each of us can’t feel thanks every day for, well, ANYTHING.
You woke up, someone else didn’t- be thankful. You have a place to sleep,
clothes to wear, food to eat, someone who cares about you, there are those who
don’t. Be thankful.

I had cancer and had a rough year, but I’m alive and on my way to full healing- I
am thankful.  I want to leave you all with a phrase from my favorite song at this time of year, Thankful, by Josh Groban:

“It’s up to us to be the change, and even though this world needs so much more- there’s so much to be thankful for.”

 


JenNovJennifer Angarano Ricci is a wife, mother & creative soul-searcher.  She is a musician, artist, and baker, and runs her home business Baked By Jen, in addition to running her local community theater group.  She loves to sing, create and help others, and tries to connect all three passions whenever possible.

The Wisdom of Being Different

BY: Nancy Fraioli – “The Queen of Ageless Wisdom”

Different comes in many packages. Different is distinct, unusual and special.

So this is what I learned about different…..

Last week I lunched with the ladies, and it was different! Why?  Because we are ladies of the same age, well, almost! I am the eldest. When I asked how their spouses were, and what were they doing for their lunch, almost immediately, they both replied, “they’re good but we’re glad to have some free time”.

We discussed different foods and very different topics. I even shared with them my new
adventure about blogging! Now, that’s very different for someone my age and surprisingly this opened up many new topics for us.

This got me on a new path about this blog. I began to think about and realize how my lunch with the ladies, today, in 2018, is different from my mother and grandmother’s lunches!

Before I begin with my thoughts about how are “differences”, and the role they play in all of our lives, whether we are aware of it or not, our differences teach us that we can learn from one another and we can appreciate all of life.  However, I’ve just had a beautiful awakening! And I’d certainly be remiss if I neglect to mention this! There is one particular day, and only one, where the word “difference” melts away. Do you
know which day I’m speaking of? Please read on and see if the answer comes to you.

A lunch with my grandmother, in the late 30’s and 40’s, was in her kitchen. Mostly all her
ingredients were from her garden, and if chicken was being served, it came from her chicken coop! Fresh chicken and eggs! A healthy bowl of chicken soup with her homemade pasta and her homemade bread was the bill of fare! No menus, no fanciness, and no courses!  She ate as she served; a bite here and there.

“YOU HAVE TO TASTE A CULTURE TO UNDERSTAND IT” – Deborah Cater

I didn’t know it then, but it was a different experience in eating. My grandmother took such great pride in her home cooking skills. She didn’t think about lunch as a dining experience. This was her version of a repast. Just enough food to get you through the long afternoon.

Now, lunch with the ladies, in my mother’s era was far different than that of her mother’s.  Actually, my mother had lunch with the ladies on her block every day. Since this was the mid 40’s, they all dressed the same. They donned colorful, small print house dresses covered with starched aprons. Oh, yes, let’s not forget the unmentionables! Remember those confining undergarments, they laced up each and every day? “A nightmare”, I thought! I wasn’t impressed with their shoes! All the ladies wore black shoes with a chunky heel, and laced! Yea, go figure; today, 2018, they’re back in style! But, the heel is called stacked!

nancy3

Do things in life really change? Seems to me they just add different words and you have a new style!  Lunch then was with the peddlers; the street was their open-air restaurant. On my block, the peddlers began their runs around 10:30 a.m. Paul, the peddler was their main veggie and fruit guy! They recognized his bark, his call each a.m! They all came running out of their homes, and apartments to converge upon Paul’s staples of the day. I can still see his large weighing scale hanging from the back of his truck! No quiet reserved ordering then. No, they seem to all shout at once on what they wanted to purchase. Oh yes, they tried to outfox him. They wanted to taste before buying. “Taste the freshness”, they’d tell him! But, Paul was even shrewder! He’d cut an apple and a melon and won them over. These old gals didn’t know it then, but they were all from a long line of vegetarians! Way ahead of their time!

nancy4

The Bread-man came next with fresh homemade Italian bread and rolls. Yes, they had a sweet truck, called Dugan’s which brought lovely cakes and buns! If it was a Wednesday or Friday, the fish man delivered his fresh catch of the day. Their milk was delivered early in the a.m.; butter, too, if a family could afford it!

nancy 1

So, this was how my mom and her neighbors had their ladies lunch! Of course, during all of this clamoring and bargaining, they were conversing. Exchanging their cooking ideas and recipes! They certainly were not concerned with ‘diet’ food!

“THE ONLY TIME TO EAT DIET FOOD IS WHILE YOU’RE WAITING FOR
THE STEAK TO COOK” – Julia Childs

They were mostly from Italy. Some were American/Italian. My mom was, but she hailed from Ohio, so to a New Yorker, she was a foreigner. So, their menus were discussed; not printed! But they all got along beautifully, and appreciated their luncheon relationships!

Now, here we are in 2018, I either drive to meet my ladies for lunch, or they pick me up. When we arrive at the restaurant of choice, we either park and walk, or we valet!

Being in a very warm climate, we do dress differently! Bright colors, light fabrics! Sometimes long skirts or sundresses and quite often very light pants!

Most times we make reservations, during the busy winter season! After being seated, we’re presented with this large, long, multiple-page menu! As was the case last week, when we had lunch at Cheesecake Factory! I thought I was in a dark library, reading an oversized plastic book.  And if a diner could not understand the item being explained, there was a picture to guide you.  Show and tell! Variations on all foods, drinks, and deserts! A complete bombardment to my senses! And, of course, if you can’t complete your meal, there’s always the plastic container and plastic bag!

Now that I’ve had a chance to weave backwards into my memories, my grandmother never ate out! Even on her two crossings, from Italy; they carried their own food. I remember her telling me that the biscotti, Italian cookies, she carried became dampened and mildewed but they still nibbled on them.

My mother hardly ate out. I don’t think it was fashionable then. However, I remember her taking me to a restaurant once, and they served chicken in the basket! I thought that was a novelty, and I liked it because it was different! Oh yes, we visited a “Horn and Hardart” once. No menus because you selected what you desired by looking into these little glass vaults. They held the food items of your choice. Just put a nickel or more, into the slot, turn the knob and there was lunch! Amazing and different!

nancy2
Even as I grew through these eras, what I found different was our school lunches! When I attended elementary school, in Ohio, we didn’t have cafeterias. We had to walk home to lunch.  Our middle school was quite far, and we had many railroads to cross. This was different and dangerous!

When I moved to New York, I discovered the school cafeteria! Wow! Now, a student could
brown bag lunch or buy if she or he had the money! This was interesting because the village I lived in was mainly composed of Italian and Jewish descent kids! Sure, we had many Irish and other cultures but what was so interesting was the exchange of food ideas amongst the students. No matter our diversities! We played a game our parents knew nothing about! Yes, our Jewish friends loved our Italian meatball sandwiches! So Mondays and Thursdays, the great exchange was going on! We didn’t know it then, but we were running our own stock (food) exchange!

Sundays and Wednesdays the italian moms would make these huge pots of sauce,
gravy or ragu! New York, it’s gravy! There was always extra and therefore meatballs on
Mondays & Thursdays were plentiful. We made friends over our different lunches! You see, without knowing it, we were engaging in cultural ways and respect for different ideas! All due to food on our lunch hour!

I often think about how it would be to have lunch with Julia Childs or Lidia Bastianich. That would be different, wouldn’t it?

Just weaving my web of wisdom thru the ages!

Until next time, fill your life and plate with curiosity! Treat your palate to a new taste! Experiment with foods that are foreign to your senses. Explore foods that have a different name than you are used to. Find out why it has such a name!

For example, while visiting Tuscany, Italy, we ordered a pasta dish. Our waiter suggested a short twisted pasta which was called Strozzapreti pasta. Of course, he had our interest so he proceeded with the story. Once, when a local priest ordered it for his lunch, he choked and died!  The pasta is short, thick and twisted, so, therefore, it’s now Italy’s priest killing pasta!

The possibilities in life are many, varied, different and very interesting.

So, you know, by my writing, that I’ve lived in Ohio, New York, and Florida and have traveled a bit but have you found the answer to my earlier question, where our “differences” melt away and we as Americans celebrate only one way? The day we want to be close to our loved ones and where our “foods” unite us as one? Where we all give thanks for who we are and what we’ve been given?  A beautiful and HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all of you!  May we blend all of our differences and come up with some new recipes!

nancy 5

While I’ve been webbing and weaving thru different eras, we can agree that wisdom abounds, in our food, our eating habits and the way we experience each others culture. Our wisdom journey is never ending! Whet your appetite, weigh your choices and experience a different idea! “Be a fruit loop in a world full of cheerios.” Be different!


blog footer

Nancy Fraioli is a retired Benefits Asst. from Town/Village of Harrison, NY. She’s alive and well, residing in Sarasota with her daughter and family and enjoying the Floridian lifestyle daily.

Her passions are writing, reading books of philosophy, children’s stories and poetry. Her deep love is living, learning and sharing how faith, meditation, and music guide her daily life. And she loves to lunch with the ladies!

On November 6th, We Vote!

BY: Peter Dunn – “The Cynical Dreamer”

Ever since I turned 18, I’ve been big on exercising my right to vote, yet I had an unbiased understanding for those who decided not to, or didn’t feel like it, or just were too lazy to go to the polls that day. The older I get, and the darker this country gets, the more I’ve lost that unbiased understanding. Now, I just get angry.

I remember being in college, at Emerson in Boston when John Kerry lost to George W. Bush. The energy in the entire city was just so so sad.

I remember living in Dublin when Barack Obama won. I was in a country on the other side of the Atlantic yet every Irish person I encountered was so happy, so pleasant, and so beautifully kind and congratulatory (maybe some of them thought I WAS Barack Obama, but we won’t harp on that- lol). That day, coupled with when my mother had her stroke, are the only two days I’ve ever regretted being out of the country. More than anything, I wanted to be here to experience that joy, that victory, the truest proof of “Yes We Can”, and the experience of winning something after a long fight. However, the people of Dublin made sure I still felt that, and that combined with some of the amazing texts and voicemails I received from friends, made it just as beautiful.

Finally, I remember everything about the night Donald Trump won. I had just performed in a “Black Lives Matter” fundraiser with my best friend Jake.  Afterwards, we went to watch the live results, where we drank and celebrated what was going to be an obvious win. The downward spiral of the energy that night was stifling, but that still didn’t even remotely match the air of NYC the next day. The only way I can describe it is, that it was the single most quiet I had ever experienced New York City since the day after 9/11. Just silent. Everywhere. Obama’s victory felt like the world’s biggest hug and Trump’s felt like the world’s biggest funeral.

I could write for a lifetime about the things that are wrong with Donald Trump, as the elected “leader” of our country and as a human being. I just don’t have enough time for that right now. However, I can touch on the simplicities that make it so dangerous for him to represent our country.

I cross off a bunch of minorities. I’m black, I’m gay, and I’m pretty damn short. I am reminded of all three of these things more times a day than I can keep track of. The older I get, the more I’m learning to love them, but that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier. If I was also a woman and Jewish, goodness I can’t even imagine how hard it would be. People like to bizarrely cross-promote the feelings of being a minority (“I TOTALLY know what you mean, because I’m _____”), Nah Y’all, it doesn’t work like that. You don’t know what it’s like to be one specific minority until you are that specific minority. So stop saying foolish things like that.  You just make people like me, want to punch you in the head.

From racism to Anti-Semitism, to making fun of the disabled, Donald Trump has proven time and time again how terrifying the combination of white male privilege, and just being a terrible fucking human being can be. And it has power. And that’s even scarier.

We also have someone who is a proud and robustly outspoken sexual predator, at the highest position of power in our country. On the eyes of the #metoo and Kavanaugh, Cosby, Weinstein, insert 9,723,175 other names, we continually allow these people to get away with harming others, and brushing it off as if these victims don’t matter. Then we have these movements where we claim they do, yet predators still continue to maintain their positions of power and are never made to change their ways.

The first time I was sexually assaulted, I was eight years old. I was a child actor and model, and it happened on the set of my all-time favorite photo-shoot I ever did. I can not explain how weird it is to have a picture that represents one of the best and worst days of your life. It’s hanging in my mother’s apartment and most times when I see it, I’ve become immune to it.  But other times, my stomach does somersaults, where I physically need to withhold from vomiting. Such is the life.

On set as a child actor, I can count at least 20 experiences I’ve had, that a child should never have to experience. From being asked to sit on men’s laps, to being told inappropriate things, to full-blown sexual assault and rape…I was constantly put in situations that I did not deserve. What’s crazier to me, is that I have a “no-nonsense”, “would have been perfectly content going to jail for murdering any of my molesters” kind of mother, not someone who would EVER have brushed ANY of these things to the side. Yet, I never said a word to her. Why? Because while constantly being taken advantage of, I always heard the same exact things from my predators, and from the few people that I did try and talk to these things about: “that my energy was what brought these events on”.

Tell someone something enough, and they’ll usually start to believe it. It’s how people brainwash people. Tell a CHILD something enough, and they’ll pretty much always start to believe it. My reason for keeping silent for so long was that I wholeheartedly believed that I was bringing on these events myself. Why complain about something if it’s your fault? Instead, all you do is try and change or hide yourself.

I remember being five years old and getting on my school bus.  The bus driver would tell me I was beautiful. “You’re beautiful. You’re like the Boy Lolita.” I didn’t understand what that meant until I read the book as a teenager, but the quote always stayed with me as something that was, off.

Sexual assault (which I originally just typed, described and then deleted as “terrible sexual experiences”, because I STILL find it hard to just outwardly say they were sexual assault) has seemed to follow me through random milestones of my life.

Three days before I left for college, I was pretty violently sexually assaulted. Again, even now, I have to sugar coat it with words like “pretty”. Let me rephrase that, three days before I left for college, I was violently sexually assaulted.

The day before I started filming my indie web series GAYS, I was violently raped. “If you fight this one more time, I’m going to break both your arms”, he said while taking one of my arms to the furthest point it could go without breaking it. I can hear it still clear as day, and it’s a random quote that has plagued my dreams. I remember calling my best friend after I left his hotel, and talking through it solely cause I knew I needed to verbalize it, and get it “out of my system” so that I could begin shooting the biggest project I’ve ever taken on in my entire life, the following day. I called “Action” for the first time the next day, with a huge welt on my shoulder that I kept telling people was a scratch, but that was actually from another person’s teeth.

I still have his number saved in my phone as “Rapist”. I texted him once last year. He never responded. Shocking.

Earlier this year, I had a terrible sexual experience (see, I did it again), with someone I was head over heels in love with. I didn’t want to admit that fact at the time, but now I know it was true. Even he didn’t have the understanding that “No Means No” at any time and any place. It was just a general entitlement to my body because he knew the feelings I had for him.

Even now, as I realize the number of times these things have happened to me, I’m absurdly mortified to tell you all about them. I feel the sheer number of them will convince some of you, that I was asking for it. Where I put myself in situations that I shouldn’t. That I’m a bad judge of character. That maybe, it is indeed, about “my energy”.

At 32, (whoa, first time I’ve ever typed my age since being 32, lol) I’d like to say that I am completely on top of knowing that it was never about me. But that’s not the case. Sometimes I do. Some days I realize that I was never asking for any of those things. But other days I think maybe it is something about me, and maybe I was asking for it.

Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of a terrible lifetime of sexual experiences. I bring it everywhere with me, even when I try so aggressively not to. I can’t have sex with the lights on.  I get uncomfortable changing in front of ANYONE.  I don’t like being touched the majority of the time.  I’ve even been unable to have sex with people I wanted to have sex with because my mind equates sex with something dark, which takes me mentally to a completely different headspace. I, in many ways and on many days, feel ruined.

With this wave of the very necessary and very important and very empowering and emotional Me Too movement, many people I know have had to look in the mirror and deal with the repercussions of things that have happened to them. And it’s everywhere. So many people have had to deal with things they never should have. It’s heartbreaking and devastating, but this movement has reminded us that we are not alone.

This blog feels like a ridiculous stream of consciousness and I want to ask for an extension so I can edit the shit out of it. However, I know that won’t change anything because these words are simply how I feel. Life is life. Every day is a ridiculous stream of consciousness, trying to figure out how I’m not going to allow the things that I did not deserve, to defeat me.

On November 6th, We Vote. We have so many changes to make and so many things to fix. We need to use our voices to exercise change and to show that hatred and violence never win in the end. Love and light do. I believe that with every fiber of my being, and every ounce of my soul.

And to anyone still reading this, I simply remind you that your actions, have reactions. From the smallest to the largest. YOU affect people. YOU change people. YOU influence people. Positively and negatively. Life is already hard enough. Do not be the person that makes others lives harder. You can ruin someone, and a part of me will forever be eight years old because of exactly that.


peter2

Peter William Dunn is a born and raised New Yorkers, who is currently a freelance writer, producer, director and sometimes actor in the city.

His professional passions include:  film, music, literature, helping other artists thrive and all around storytelling

His personal passions include: puppies, babies, black and white milkshakes, and attractive men with accents (he has an extra strong track record for attracting emotionally unavailable men, but don’t tell him we told you that, and don’t yell at him for speaking in the third person right now).

His current loves are his dog, Domino, a whiskey neat, and in case you didn’t know, his mother is the greatest human being on earth❤

When Hate Hits Home

BY: Deborah Levine-Powell – “The Soulful Wonder Chef”

I had not planned on writing about this topic this week, but, I felt compelled that I had to say something. I had to speak up, be vocal, be angry, be sad, devastated, and heartbroken. We say “Never Forget”. Do we mean that? Who will stand with you in these times of such hatred?  I made a comment on a news feed on Facebook (see below). A vile person made a comment that really stung me. I have never been called a derogatory name in regards to my religion.

deb

As a child growing up, I was pretty sheltered. I grew up in a Jewish community in Queens. We moved to Harrison when I was seven years old.  I was one of a handful of Jewish children in my elementary school. My mom always came in during the December holidays and taught the dreidel game and made latkes.  My friends all were curious about my religion.

We attended religious school and Hebrew school.

I always have said I never really faced any acts of anti-Semitism. But, as I sat and reflected this weekend I thought about the multiple micro-aggressions – albeit to the person may seem harmless, but in reality, can be deemed hurtful.

A micro-aggression is a term used for brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral or environmental indignities (whether intentional or unintentional), that communicates hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group- as defined by Wikipedia.

I am often told, “You don’t look Jewish”.  Yet, throughout history Jews have been every race and have come from many motions. Judaism for me is a religion, a culture, traditions, family, food, and language.

The Jewish people have lived throughout the Diaspora making us uniquely diverse people.

I have always been proud to say I am Jewish, and talk about all the amazing parts of our culture.

I am also questioned about my level of “religiousness”.  I am a deeply religious individual yet, I am not an observant Jew. No, I don’t go to temple every Friday night but, it does not make me any less Jewish than another.

I say all this because we as a population need to come together and be on the same page. We cannot have division.

I wept as I watched the news Saturday. I felt heartbroken for the loss of life. I was shocked, yet not surprised. There has been a steady increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes, rhetoric, and acts of violence.

The Amcha Initiative; a group that investigates anti-Semitism on college campuses, reported that there were 287 incidents of anti-Semitic crimes, From January to June 2018.

As I talked about the horrific killing this weekend; I shared my fear with an acquaintance; that I saw at the store.  She said, “aren’t you being an alarmist, it’s not like people are going to start going around killing Jews.” I wish I had said something really profound, but, I didn’t. I could only muster up this,  “I hope you never have to feel the way I do right now”. I walked away. I wanted to say more. But, I thought to myself – “I wonder what people said in Europe when the Holocaust began?”  I remember hearing stories from older relatives that American Jews, and Americans as a whole, really did not realize what was going on in Europe until it was too late.

deb

I would love to tell you maybe I am overreacting. But, as my children asked me “are we safe?”; “why do people hate Jewish people?” “maybe they won’t come for us because we are mixed”, I don’t believe I am.  I became so enraged at the thought that in 2018, living in America, my children would even have to question their safety, due to religion, is so devastating.

How can I as a parent put my anger and fear aside, so that I can be there for my children and help them to deal with the emotions they must be feeling in such a confusing time?

As a parent, our initial instinct is to protect our children. But, ignoring the acts of violence, and not having these open discussions, can breed fear.  The alternative is that they will learn from other sources, which we do not have any control over.

I practice what I preach to clients, so I will share some ways in which I have chosen to  handle the discussions;

  1. Be honest if you don’t the answer to something
  2. Don’t stop at one discussion.  Make sure they know that this is an ongoing conversation and that they can always ask you questions
  3. Act on your beliefs – volunteer, get to know people of different races and religions
  4. Listen to hear and not to respond- often time’s kids are asking us one thing but, we make assumptions. Try to help them clarify, so that you can better understand what they are asking
  5. Educate your children, so that they are prepared for what they may encounter

I sat here deciding on whether or not to hit the send button for publishing. I decided to do just that.

I spoke from my heart and honestly feel so devastated that this happened. I pray for the community of Pittsburgh, I pray for our nation and I pray for the people who had to bury eleven relatives today.


octpic

Deborah Levine-Powell is a psychotherapist in New York, where she works with teenage girls who are victims of abuse and trafficking.  She is a wife and a mom to a tween and teenager.  When she is not working, you can find her engaged in PTA activities, a leader at Girl Scouts, having fun with her friends and family, while serving up hot soulful dishes in the kitchen.

Halloween is Tricky When Living with Autism

BY: Janis Gaudelli – “Champion of Truths, Unicorns & AWE-tism”

You would think a candy junkie like me would love Halloween.  When I was a kid, I lived for it, but as I grew older, the lure and excitement subsided.  As an adult, I was never one to seek out a costume unless I absolutely had to.  It just wasn’t my thing.

That all changed when I became a mom, as I looked forward to taking Kellan trick or treating and having him dress up in a costume of choice.  In fact, I purchased Kellan’s first Halloween costume when he was still in utero. You can’t get any more excited than that!  I was thrilled to revisit this day of tricks and treats and so was Kellan… or so I thought.

On the morning of October 31, 2011, I opened my eyes to a 2-month-old cooing in his crib.  I was ever so excited for what the day would bring: tricks, treats, and my baby boy dressed up like a pumpkin. We had things to do and people to see, so when late afternoon came upon us, I started getting him ready.  As I dressed him in his plush, pumpkin onesie, he started to squirm and cry and I couldn’t understand why.  I took a quick picture and after an hour of him being uncomfortable, I changed him back into his regular clothes, thinking to myself, “there’s always next year.”

kel

October 31, 2012:  Cue a repeat of 2011, except Kellan was dressed as a cute little lion… for exactly 37 minutes before I took it off.

kel

October 31, 2013: Kellan was in preschool, and it was his first school parade.  Kids his age joyfully dressed up as pirates and Batman and princesses, excited for the day ahead.  Kellan, on the other hand, was anything but. My little Superman was not having it.  He marched teary-eyed in the parade and, once it was over, immediately wanted to be stripped of his cape.  I started to think that Halloween was Kellan’s kryptonite.

kel

It was about that time when I vowed to not put Kellan through this dress-up ordeal again.  I felt like I was doing it more for my pleasure than his own, and he was paying the price.  I decided I would invest in a cute, festive Halloween shirt and put him at ease, but deep inside I just didn’t get why he was so agitated on a holiday most kids declare to be their favorite.  Little did I know I’d receive my answer just a few months later…

In April of the following year, Kellan was diagnosed with Autism.  Even at that point, I didn’t realize how challenging a “fun” holiday like Halloween could be to a child on the spectrum.  It wasn’t until I started to do some research and talk to parents in the community that I began to understand.  Halloween for Autistics is much more tricky and not always a treat.  What I learned made so much sense based on Kellan’s past Halloween experiences:

Fabrics are Frightening: Sensory issues are very common among people with autism.  Some have hypersensitivity to sounds, smells, visuals and/or fabrics.  Most Halloween costumes are not made for sensitive, sensory-challenged children, so this eliminates a lot of costume options. Kellan will not wear jeans, clothes with buttons, snaps or zippers to this day.  So, while he has a very comfortable, casual wardrobe, finding a Halloween costume is tricky.  With that said, special needs parents have to tap into their creative superpowers to piece together a costume for their child.

Accessories are Alarming: Much like fabrics, children with sensory issues have a hard time with anything on their face, head, hands, and feet.  This eliminates many costumes with masks, hats, gloves, makeup, etc., and makes Halloween costume choices so very limiting.  Kellan was Sheriff Woody one year without his infamous cowboy hat and Batman without the mask another year.  You learn to pick and choose your battles.

kel                     Sheriff Woody sans Cowboy Hat    This costume was actually Batman PJs   

Stranger Danger: Anything unfamiliar and not on the typical daily schedule causes major anxiety for a child on the spectrum.  Therefore, the traditional trick or treating process where a child goes up to a stranger’s home and asks for candy doesn’t always look/feel the same.  Getting an autistic child to approach a home he is unfamiliar with, much less greet the people who live there, is likely to cause a gremlin-like meltdown.  Put it this way: Kellan is now 7, and this is the first year we will even attempt trick or treating.  Wish us luck!

Scary=Shit Show: There are a lot of sights, sounds, smells and environmental shenanigans that take place on Halloween.  Kids on the spectrum get overwhelmed and many times overstimulated, which can lead to a scary house of horrors.  You will see many special needs parents actively research non-scary Halloween-centered activities, as well as draft a detailed map of the neighborhood, noting specific houses to avoid on the big night.  I have designed my map, and any spooky decorations or scary sounds will be avoided like the plague (unless they’re giving out Skittles…hahaha…kidding!).

At this point, you can understand what I meant when I said, “Halloween is much more tricky and not always a treat.”  This holiday poses its challenges, but we try to make it work as best we can.  We just ask the general public to be more accepting of our norm.  However, it’s our job to educate and advise those of what might occur during the trick or treating festivities.  I just shared why Halloween isn’t a typical holiday for special needs parents and their children, but I also want to serve up a few tips on what to look out for and how to best handle these trick-or-treaters:

jack-o-lantern-emoji

 #1 Many parents of special needs kids (especially those who are nonverbal) have created cards or pins that their children will be wearing/handing out when they approach your door.  The signs/pins are there to instruct and enlighten the candy-giver, so keep an eye out and try to follow the directions (an example of one of those cards are below)

autism

jack-o-lantern-emoji

#2 Some children on the spectrum who are verbal might not respond like other kids.  They may forego the “trick or treat” or “thank you.”  Don’t take offense, because some of their social cues and conversational language skills are slightly delayed.

jack-o-lantern-emoji

#3 If a child approaches your house without a costume, or their costume is not all put together (see ‘Accessories are Alarming’ above), please know that there is a reason for it.  Try not to ask too many questions.  Their parents most likely had a tough time getting them out of the house and to your door, so please just smile, throw some Twizzlers in the bag and send them on their way.

jack-o-lantern-emoji

#4 If you experience a child who comes to your door crying and/or anxious, please don’t probe or try to calm them down.  Again, anything happening during this highly sensory-active night could have set them off.  My best advice when this happens? Just give them some candy and wish them a good night.

jack-o-lantern-emoji

#5 Another thing to watch for are children carrying teal plastic pumpkins.  Those pails convey that the child has food allergies (some life-threatening).  So please, if you see children with these teal pumpkins, please inform the child and parent that the treats you’re giving out may not be allergy-free, before you put anything in their pail.

jack-o-lantern-emoji

#6 For parents with neuro-typical children, please communicate to them that every child shows up differently on Halloween (and in life in general).  Teach them to exercise kindness, patience, and compassion.

jack-o-lantern-emoji

#7 Give candy to big kids too. Some of our kids are mentally delayed, but not physically.  This means as they grow, they’re still kids at heart.  Look past their size and give them a Snickers.

jack-o-lantern-emoji

#8 Be kind.  If the world needs anything right now, it’s more understanding and acceptance.

jack-o-lantern-emoji

Before I go, I have some exciting news to share: Kellan verbally told me at the beginning of October– without any prompting! — what he wanted to be for Halloween this year. Even more exciting? The costume includes a hat, which he has agreed to wear!  But there’s one catch: he alerted me that I needed to dress up too.  Me – the chick who wasn’t one for dressing up as an adult, has her costume (which Kellan chose) and is excited to rock it alongside my sidekick (see below).  And one other thing, Kellan is going trick or treating for the first time this year.  I have no idea how that is going to turn out, but THIS, my friends, is progress!  Happy Halloween, and be safe out there.

kel2018HW


janisbiopic

Janis Gaudelli is The Founder of The Daily Feels.  She started this passion project to reveal the magic behind storytelling, and how truth-based narratives bring people together in the most heart-warming of ways.  Fascinated by soul, depth, intellect, raw truths and rebellion with a cause. Often captivated by the awe of nature: star gazing, moon manifesting, sunset chasing, waves crashing, crickets singing. Fiercely curious about the inner-workings of the human psyche… she professionally studies human behavior for a living.  Forever proud and grateful for being a mom to the force that fuels her life: her 7-year-old son, and greatest professor, Kellan.

FOLLOW JANIS AND THE DAILY FEELS TRIBE @:  FACEBOOK & INSTAGRAM