Rudolph Proves Even Santa Can Be an A-hole Sometimes

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

There is no question that we’re living in a highly sensitized world today. We are easily offended by matters we would have overlooked previously.  This isn’t to say that having an opinion and being passionate about your beliefs is a bad thing, but at times it seems like we take it a little too far. Our extreme political correctness has created division.

I have become much more sensitive to people, places, and things ever since I was graced with a sensitive kid. A sensitive kid with a sensitive issue, who is navigating an insensitive world.  When we’re forced to desensitize, were stripped of the blinders we’re accustomed to wearing. The armor is peeled away, and you pay closer attention to what is happening. 

Two weeks ago, I was scrolling through my newsfeed and saw this:

I won’t lie, this post triggered me.  I remember the first time I watched Rudolph! I was about six years old, and I cried. I was uncomfortable with what I saw, and my little heart knew something wasn’t right.  I think I struggled to understand why everyone was so mean to this cute little reindeer.  Year after year, I watched, and felt, and emoted throughout the classic Christmas movie.  As I grew older, my sadness turned to irritation. My “why?” turned to “WTF?!”.  Fast-forward to present day, and now my son watches and processes the same story that triggered me for years. In fact, we have watched Rudolph 62 times since October 13th (worth noting: with autism comes obsession). I sit with him every night and watch… no, not the movie. Him. I carefully observe what he responds to, especially the parts that bring me back to that sad six-year-old girl.

These scenes:

As a parent, I cringe at these scenes. Why? Because each depicts an existing societal issue: exclusion, bullying, discrimination, etc. These realities are more dangerous and damaging for those watching today, than for those of us who first watched decades ago.  Realities that I face as a parent of a child who is different.  Realities I am extremely sensitive to.   

However, with all that said, do I believe Rudolph is inappropriate enough to ban it from the holiday airwaves?  That would be a No.  Do I believe parents need to spend time watching it with their kids and having discussions about the issues presented in some of the scenes?  Hell Yes. 

While there are some uncomfortable scenes in Rudolph, there are also great life lessons and teachable moments.  Lessons that would serve every adult & child watching, as we navigate through life.  Lessons highlighting how different is never less, and that there is great victory in overcoming adversity.  On my 62nd viewing, I unearthed some of the life lessons this 54-year-old film presents:

Lesson #1: Don’t underestimate the underdog. Greatness can be achieved by anyone, even those least expected. Rudolph was told he was different and flawed before he could talk or walk.  His Dad got to him first, then his coach Comet and even Santa added to the verbal abuse/attack.  They say if you hear something often enough, you start to believe it.  Not Rudolph – despite being told he was flawed, that deer had some mad self-love and perseverance.  From very early on, Rudolph believed in himself.  His self-confidence is what made him a mother-elfin’ hero. He saved Christmas, kept his promise to the misfit toys, rescued his parents & Clarice from the grips of the Abominable Snowman, forgave the bullies, and came out in front leading Santa’s sleigh. Let’s give that red-nosed reindeer a cape to match his red nose.

Lesson#2: Don’t settle. Follow your bliss.  “Believe in your dreams”, as the lovely Clarice sang. This is what Hermie taught us: that conformity is the enemy of growth.  He was a true rebel, giving it all up to follow his passion of being a dentist, even when the odds were against him.  Hermie believed he could, so he did.  Be like Hermie.

Lesson #3: YES. SHE. CAN!  Even after being told by Donner not to get involved (“this is man’s work”), the females persisted.  Shortly after Donner left to find Rudolph, Mrs.Donner and Clarice follow him.  This is a great message of female empowerment, written at a time when it wasn’t acknowledged.

Lesson#4: Don’t judge others based on their differences.  What makes us different can often be our greatest strength, and Rudolph is proof. The moral of Rudolph’s story should inspire all of us to embrace the unusual, celebrate the weird and welcome the diversity in all of us.  We need to become better at teaching our kids about inclusion, so no one ever feels shunned or rejected. It is what is different in us that can make a difference for others.

Lesson#5: You cannot hide your truth.  Rudolph embraced all that he was from the moment he realized he was different.  He didn’t care about hiding his nose (infact he felt it was uncomfortable). Rudolph never wanted to disguise his truth, but his Dad did.  The lesson: do you, be you. no one alive is youer than you (had to addin a little Seussism!).

Lesson #6: You can run but you can’t hide.  Rudolph and his friends left home because they didn’t feel they fit in, but wherever they went, there they were.  They find that there is no utopia, and the grass is never greener on the other side.  Rudolph & Hermie prove that when you face your fears, battle your demons, and accept yourself (flaws and all!), peace acquires permanent residency. 

Lesson #7: Adults make mistakes too. Let’s be honest, the grown-ups in Rudolph were assholes.  Donner, Comet, Clarice’s Dad, Hermie’s boss, and even Santa flawlessly depicted dysfunctional adulting.  However, as wrong as their actions were, they revealed that adults can disappoint and make mistakes too.  We’re all just doing the best we can. Except Donner. He could definitely have done better (ha!).

So, Rudolph, with that red, glorious, bulbous nose of yours, you’re a champion for all who feel, look, act and were born different.  Keep on showing up each year so we can celebrate the misfit in every one of us.  Because what makes us different, also makes us special. 

From one misfit, to another, Happy Holidays!

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.


You Aren’t Supposed to Share Your Birthday Wish, But I’m Feeling Lucky

BY: JB McCann – “The Phoenix”

Today, I turn 35.  Yay, 35!!!  No, seriously, I’m very excited about it.  I am, I swear. Contrary to what one might think, I have been looking forward to this day for a while.  Now, I’m not one that celebrates for a week or anything like that, but I do love MY day, and I have no shame in the number of candles on my cake.  I’ve earned each one of them, and 35 was a year that I probably worked the hardest to earn.  If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know it’s been a rough few years Professionally, things are where they should be, but emotionally…I’ve been a hot mess. However, every year, I arrive at this day of my birth in one piece and I get to put another candle on my cake.  #winning

I think my favorite part of having a birthday is blowing out the candles and making a wish.  I don’t care how superstitious that may sound.  Being a December baby, we round out the calendar year with some really great events…. our birthday, the holidays, new year’s…that’s a lot of wishing in 31 days. We wish you a Merry Christmas.  We wish for something special to come to us on our big “birth” day.  We wish for something magical to happen in 2019 as the ball drops that will kick us up a notch.  It’s an important time for a Sagittarius.  If we choose our wishes right, we could manifest some amazing things into our world.

So, I know “they” say don’t share your wish or it won’t come true. But, who are “they”, really?  You know, today I’m feeling lucky so I’m going to share with you my 3 wishes I’ll be sending out into the universe this December.

1.)    My Birthday Wish – I wish that the world will continue to see me for who I am and love me for it.  I’m learning who I truly am daily, and I am excited about what I have to offer this life.  I figured out in 2018 that love is an inside job, and if I can keep THAT love on fire, the world will feel my warmth, and benefit from the things I manifest into existence because just like people can sense self-doubt in another, they can also sense my effort and sincerity which tells them I’m someone on my path to greater things. That’s where I get to keep helping humanity.

2.)    My Christmas Wish – This is the same wish every year. I wish that you find peace within yourself this holiday season.  Look around you.  Find the good.  Spread it on anything you can reach.  Remember that life isn’t about how much is in your bank account or how many presents are under your tree.  It’s about how much love is in your heart. My wish is that we all get one moment this holiday season to pat ourselves on the back for making it through another year.  When you take that moment and feel the love, find someone who’s smile isn’t as bright as yours and hug them super tight. They may be completely confused, but I bet they smile.

3.)    My New Year’s Wish – I wish that 2019 be a year of ease.  I hope that whatever sets your soul on fire becomes plentiful in your circle. I hope that progressive change occurs so gracefully it seems like all the pieces are finally aligning as they are truly meant to be.  I wish that whatever you long for will manifest in a healthy and productive way in your life. 

I woke up today, December 13th, 2018 and before I put my feet on the floor, I told myself…

You got this, girl.  You are enough.  You are a BABE and you are really brave.  Love those that love you.  Forgive those that don’t.  And trust YOU ARE MAKING THIS WORLD A BETTER PLACE one day at a time.

I may have totally freaked out my husband who was sound asleep, but once he realized what I was saying, he kissed my check and simply replied “Go get ‘em, babe”.  So, here goes nothing.  Bring it on, 35.  We got good vibes to give out and dreams to manifest.  Let’s go. 

JB McCann has worked in “The Biz” for almost a decade, yet she’s somehow managed to keep her feet firmly on the ground. Her altruistic spirit aims to evoke your Inner Phoenix and encourage readers to take the difficult leaps in life, so you can continue to grow.

Mama, Why Do We Bleed Every Month? Answering this Question has Me on the Edge of Sanity! Join the madness as we Enter the Realm of Puberty…again!

BY: Cherry Maggiore – “The Freak of Nurture”

Chapter 18:  The Border of Puberty


You whisper a confession. A boy kissed you. In my bedroom? As I sat downstairs with our friends thinking you were just watching a movie.

Aren’t you a Child? Just five?

You are giddy as you share the tale from earlier that night. Speaking of your first innocent kiss as if it was some new adventure.

Excitedly.   You talk about all the new people you met, especially the sexy rocker boys. Sexy? Did you just say sexy? 

Aren’t you a child? Just five?

I’m lost.  I didn’t know it would come up so soon. Well, not entirely true. You’ve been crushing on boys since you’re three.

And now you are starting to take action and experiment. There’s a part of me that celebrates this change in you. Finding yourself and your view through these moments s is beautiful.

And then there is that other part that is frightened. That cries and mourns for the innocence to stay. Remain intact.

All in all, the greatest joy is that you shared it with me. Openly with complete trust.

I hope I didn’t disappoint you. I wish I were a good mom and confident at that moment. It’s who I hope to be. Who I try to be every day.

There will be so many of these moments. But I had to mark the first. In black and white.

To note that change is here. Big difference.

And my girl, you will always lead it.

Written by Cherry Maggiore, November 2015

As the clock strikes 9pm, we lay side-by-side cuddling under the glow of her fairy lights as she grasps the teddy bear (aptly named Bear Bear) that she’s had since she was born and asks, “Mama, why do women bleed?”

The juxtaposition of Bear Bear’s presence and this poignant question is just simply startling.  How did we get here?  How did nine years go this fast?  My heart is both joyful and sad as we enter the realm of the “p” word…Puberty.

“The Talk” about her changes started when we were browsing the panty aisle a month earlier in Target, and my mom turned to me and said, “It might be time to get her a training bra.”  I looked at my mom’s eyes bright with excitement and understanding, then at MSP filled with expectations, and realized I had been in denial of her budding breasts.  My eyes welled up, and I touched MSP’s cheek and answered, “Yes, I guess it is.  MSP, pick out what you like…”.  To my delight, she appropriately chose two Wonder Woman training bras. 

Immediately after our shopping excursion, I went on Amazon and searched for books about puberty so we could start learning (and for me, relearning cause it’s been like 34 fucking years since I thought about it) about the process of becoming a woman.  I found a great book by American Girl, called Caring and Keeping of You Part I.  Nearly, every night she is with me, we’ve read a chapter, taking this process piece by piece, day by day.

Luckily, since living in Westfield, MSP has witnessed her cousin Livy (aka The Lone Teen on The Daily Feels) going through her changes and all the shit that comes with it.  From periods to bras, to pimples and body image to boys and friendships.  She’s seen the immense emotional and physical changes in Livy as she’s evolved from little girl to young woman. 

After our talk, I walk into my bedroom with the immense fear and red-hot anger beginning to surface.  As I think about my own passage into womanhood and the horrible trauma I’ve experienced.  One of my first thoughts is how do I prepare her?  How do I protect her from the hatred, criticism, overt sexism, misogyny, and worst of all the predators she may have to battle?

There is no simple answer as even at nearly 45 years old I face these continued challenges.  It comes down to the fact that I have a love/hate relationship with being a woman.  This is not a simple concept.  It’s wrought with so much history or more like HERstory.

As this conversation was happening, I was about to take off to a conference in Savannah, GA where I was going to be on a panel at the GDS CMO Insights Summit.  An incredible opportunity to be positioned as a brand and marketing expert among my peers.  Due to a canceled keynote speaker, I was invited to be part of a panel of marketing peers to discuss the future of our industry.  I am literally bowled over, like counting my lucky stars even to be considered to be part of such an esteemed panel (I think to myself, would a man feel lucky or would he feel they were lucky to have him?  Food for thought).  To be able to contribute to such a thoughtful and experienced group of marketers.

One of the questions the moderator poses is this…“An increasing number of brands are throwing traditional gender assignations under the bus, and re-imagining both masculinity and femininity as fluid concepts. Are the days of blue and pink aisles in decline? And what does this actually, practically mean for brands?”

So my head goes immediately to the fact that it’s about brands…but what about humanity.  What about women who have this love/hate relationship with being a woman; and a woman defined by the color pink.

I look up the history of pink and blue and find out that in fact, PINK was identified for men as the stronger color in 1918 by Ladies Home Journal magazine.  Pink was defined as the“stronger” more vibrant color.  Unlike blue which was identified as a “softer” more feminine color.  Ironically this all changed in the 1940s as women began to enter the workforce due to the need for men to fight in WWII.  As men went to war, women went to war pushing gender limitations as they took on traditional “men’s” jobs.  Women started wearing Pink and men identified with Blue.  This is the point in history where color divides us, where color begins to limit us.

Please know that in branding, color is a critical emotional cue.  Most brands sit on the color spectrum from red to blue to yellow to pink.  It’s a rainbow of emotion as they seek to connect with people through something as simple as a color you can find in a Crayola box.

But it’s so much bigger than color…The idea of being a woman in the 21st century is terrifying.  We have polarizing effects from the #metoo movement that goes well beyond the power of pink.

I do not blame the #metoo movement…I welcome it with open arms cause its about god damn time.  And by the way ME (fucking) TOO. Me too ten times over and still ‘til this day. From being groped at two parties just three weeks ago to be limited in my success because I am in fact a woman.  To the issues of how I dress, what color I wear, how high are my heels, do I wear make-up or not.  I feel this constant tension between the kind of women I want to represent and the woman I am.

I’ve been bullied, sexually harassed, pigeon-holed, limited, judged.  I’ve been in the “girls” and “boys” club and then out of those clubs.  I’ve allowed myself to be a pawn in the game of gender and have yet to stake a claim.  I try to remain neutral in a sea of pink. 

At the end of the day, I know what makes us different.  I bleed, and men don’t.  My best friend once said as a joke, “I don’t trust anything that bleeds for seven days and doesn’t die.”  And there it is…the general feeling that men have about women because they do NOT understand our biology.  They can’t tolerate it because they are incapable of empathizing (or possibly jealous of our innate abilities). Men are intrinsically and biologically simple.  Women are not.  They are complex and layered and emotionally impacted.  We go from our MENstrual cycle to MENopause…(please note that MEN are in both words and I have to question why that is if MEN don’t experience either of these physiological transitions).

So, how the fuck do I explain this to a nine-year-old if I can’t reconcile it myself?

How do I explain that she needs bras, maxi pads or tampons (truth be told I DO NOT believe in tampons unless you are swimming; because nothing goes inside my body without giving me pleasure).  That she will have the choice of flats or 5” stilettos and in some rooms will be judged for not wearing the stilettos (mostly and ironically by women).  How do I explain that wearing make-up is expected to make yourself more flattering and appealing? And then the fucked up part is that you will wear it so much, you won’t recognize yourself without it. 

How do I explain that she will be groped, fondled and belittled merely because she’s a woman? How do I warn that when she walks down a street, she is a target if she sports a ponytail or if she wears a skirt too short or jogs in a park?  How do I protect her and tell her that if she drinks too much at a party with co-workers, she may have to go along with the abuse just to get out safely? 

How do I answer these questions without affecting her faith in humanity?  Without making her hate being a woman. 

And with that a straightforward question…”Mama, why do women bleed?”  Our entire existence as females comes into question by a nine-year-old girl confronting womanhood.

As I examine her sweet face in the shadows of the fairy lights, I am overwhelmed by how bittersweet this moment is; and then my stomach wrenches with worry. 

I finally surrender because I want her to believe that she is magic (because she is total magic) and there is literally nothing I can do to stop the trajectory of her life or the choices she will make.  So I decide at that moment to share the magical aspects of being a woman in hopes that she will understand that we are sacred and will in turn respect and protect herself…

I tell her that women bleed because we are (fucking; I leave the fucking word out) Strong.  God chose us to bear the miracle of birth because God knew we were capable of such care and love and strength.  God trusted us with the ugly, messiness of life because God knew we were capable of seeing past the trivialities to understand the blessing.  God trusted women with the ability to give and share life because we are selfless and empathetic. 

I go on to tell her what I love about being a woman…

  • We get our period, so we can be a mother…IF WE SO CHOOSE
  • We have breasts to feed our babies…IF WE SO CHOOSE
  • We get to paint our canvas with beautiful colors and glitter …IF WE SO CHOOSE
  • We can lift our height a few inches by wearing heels…IF WE SO CHOOSE
  • We can wear dresses…IF WE SO CHOOSE
  • We can wear bras…IF WE SO CHOOSE
  • We can have a career and be a mother…IF WE SO CHOOSE
  • We can have short hair or long hair…IF WE SO CHOOSE
  • We can have muscles… IF WE SO CHOOSE
  • We can build homes and fix cars…IF WE SO CHOOSE
  • We can fight wars…IF WE SO CHOOSE
  • We can run companies…IF WE SO CHOOSE
  • We can cook for our families and friends…IF WE SO CHOOSE
  • We can be alone…IF WE SO CHOOSE
  • We can wear pink…or blue…IF WE SO CHOOSE

I share that while society and cultural norms will force many things down our throat…It is our choice to participate or NOT.

So I bleed with pride.  I am proudly and fiercely a woman.  And while gender may divide humanity, there is one thing we all have in common…

Every single one of us was birthed from a woman.

Cherry 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.


BY: Dee-Dee Kanhai – “The Spice of Suburbia”

I am going to be honest with you Feelers… November was a fucking rollercoaster for me, like the rickety old wooden kind that you are positive will break down for the first time in 100 years while you are sitting in the first car. This rollercoaster didn’t just go down, the damn car flew off the rails and I am mid-air at the moment.

The Rollercoaster was in that upward climb, it was my 40th Birthday and it was amazing. Turning 40 was everything (and more), thanks to the love of my friends and family. I felt all the feels when I saw everyone there FOR ME! My birthday is also Election Day, and the Candidate I was campaigning for the last year did WIN… that was a sweet, sweet victory.

Just as I reached the top of the coaster, I am at the height of my joy, the cart tilts forward… and that’s it… 

My entire Love, The Undoing 2018 Holiday collection of handmade bracelets, necklaces, satchels of crystals and rings were “accidentally” thrown away. The person who took the garbage out of my office that day thought the clear Rubbermaid box – full of jewelry – was garbage. When I decided that I couldn’t bear the thought of my handmade jewelry sitting in some disgusting landfill, I went out to the dumpster and dove. Yes, I went dumpster diving… in the cold… for HOURS.  A few of my coworkers who were equally annoyed that anyone would mistake my jewelry for TRASH, were out there with me, we dug through every half-eaten lunch, used tampon, and snot rag in the hopes of finding at least 1 little bead, a tiny crystal, ANY SIGN to keep looking…but, NOTHING! Then, we open one of the last bags, there it is, the container I had the 200+ items in – BUT IT WAS EMPTY. Vanished into thin air. No explanation!

I brought this issue to our “HR” department to see if maybe we can ask a few more questions about why we found the container but no bracelets.  Maybe it was a simple mistake. Maybe the man who took the garbage out threw them in a different dumpster. ANYTHING!  HR responded with a giant “OH FUCKING WELL”. So, six months of work and love is gone… Simply gone.

To outsiders, they are just pieces of costume jewelry. They don’t know the lengths I go to in order to find the beads from sources that pay living wages or crystals from mines that aren’t employing children in dangerous caves. The love that comes with every bead someone brings me from a trip they take or a piece of old jewelry their grandmother wore. I mean, they aren’t just replaceable things. They are handmade with so much love… only those who have worn one would understand.

So, for the rest of the day, I am on some, woe is me shit. I decide to go to sleep super early. Knowing that there is just one more day until Thanksgiving, and then I can hibernate. I wake up to 27 missed calls and texts. This isn’t new. My family has me on a group chat that would make your head explode. I robotically open the most recent text.  I read it. It says one of my dearest friends has passed away. So random. Couldn’t possibly be true. We were planning a friend-cation literally 2 weeks ago, we just spoke. I mean, there is no way. So, I call the person who texted me, wondering if he meant to send something else… but his silence speaks volumes. He is in the car with his little boys, I hear them.   I just hang up. 

Immediately, I feel sick. Realizing that the sense of loss I felt the day before, was nothing compared to the way I was feeling in this moment. I refuse to believe this. I call his cell. No answer. This cannot be true, this cannot be right. We were literally just talking. I scroll through our text messages, what did I miss? The last message from a few days before he says “I just tried calling you, you must’ve fallen asleep”.  I wish I spoke to him that night. I am forced to make several phone calls that day, painful ones. A brutal reminder of what really matters. 

I am teaching on Thanksgiving morning, of all things, a Gratitude Meditation. I barely manage to get through it. I am having trouble breathing. I am shaking. But I do it… I cry throughout Thanksgiving, what a blessing to be with my family who I love. Healthy and happy. I run to the bathroom and let the tears stream down my face. Staring in the mirror. I am mad at myself. I grab a towel and scream into it. I am not ok. Still, as I type, I am not ok, again.  I decide in that very moment I will NEVER cancel on a friend or put off answering a call until tomorrow.  I will leave my ringer on at night, and if I get woken up – so be it.  Tomorrow isn’t promised. The bracelets being gone are just a memory now. I am going to be a better person, friend, daughter, mother, EVERYTHING. I go out and smile with my family. They deserve the best version of me. They know when I am crying, so they just smile at me. A smile that says, I love you. I cry for his daughter, I cry for his wife. I don’t know what happens to a child in these times, but it cannot be easy.

I am now on a mission. I drive an hour in traffic to my childhood friend Mikey. I know he is working on Thanksgiving, and he is away from his children. I need to let the people I love KNOW how much I love them, and cherish our friendship. This is what friends do. They don’t sleep through phone calls.

I know I can call Mike at any time, for anything. I am blessed with the best of friends…SO fortunate. I have a handful of people like this in my life, they will stop on a dime for me. I still cannot believe I lost one of them.

I get it Universe. I need to be present. You’ve made your point.

My family convinces me I need to go out and get some fresh air.  I spend an entire day in the city with them on Saturday. I adore the goddess section of my tribe, my mom, sister, Aunt Sue.

After the city, I head straight to the yoga Studio where I am teaching a full moon meditation class. Although I am out of sorts and I can not find my words, I get through it. Everyone is understanding and full of love.

Monday, I struggle through the entire day, between my social anxiety and sadness, I am a mess. We say our goodbyes. Not the way I wanted to say goodbye. Someday I will tell you all about him, and about our unique friendship that spanned almost 30 years, all of which were platonic. I just cannot right now. It’s too hard.

By Monday night, there are no tears left to cry. These are the days I understand why people drink, to numb the pain. I stopped drinking years ago, a teaching in Dharma led me to believe that I should experience life without mind-altering substances. I am sober, by choice, through it all. I need to feel the highs and lows of life. That is that.

I wake up Tuesday and say out loud, TODAY I BEGIN TO HEAL.  I put my best foot forward. I sign up for a yoga class, and I am ready to be the best, healthiest, me possible. I never make it to class though, I get hot suddenly. I am feeling nauseous and realize I haven’t eaten in days. I forced down some crackers and they come right up. I proceed to vomit about 12 more times. It appears I am officially fucking done. Either I am sick or I am making myself sick.

I begin to meditate, one hour.

I bring out my mat. I lay there, listening to Tibetan Chanting and chimes.

I tell my soul that I am a ray of light. I am a positive force. I conduct healthy, loving vibrations. I inhale all the good in the universe and I exhale – EVERYTHING THAT NO LONGER SERVES ME.

The rollercoaster starts to slow down…

I find myself alone, in the cart, waiting for the handrail to raise up.

Instead of running off, I get off and don’t look back. I go forth, with a more positive outlook.

Sometimes, life happens. Rainbows don’t form without the rain.  This was my reality. My life is not perfect. All the sage and crystals in the world won’t prevent the inevitable from happening.  

It is now December. I was happy to welcome it. I am actively working on being the happiest Dee-Dee I can BE!

So, there it is, me in real life. No filters.  

Dee-Dee Kanhai, aka “The Spice of Suburbia”, was a big city girl for 25 years who was transplanted to the Suburbs of Northern New Jersey. This relocation led to her “undoing” and with that, the discovery of her true self. Besides being a wife and mother to a teenage daughter and toy Chihuahua, Dee-Dee works in finance and owns a small Etsy Shop @LoveTheUndoing, where she sells heart-made jewelry, crystals, and other whimsical crafts. Dee-Dee is a student of life, teacher of meditation, practicing yogi and a mystical moon child.

Dee-Dee’s Etsy Shop

Love The Undoing Website

All I Want Before Christmas Is To Be Inspired To Write My December Blog

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

The past couple of weeks I found myself struggling with what to write for my December blog.  I guess you could say, I had “writer’s block”.  Each day I’d wake up and try to figure out what I should write about.  Nothing, absolutely nothing.  My thoughts were empty.  Why all of a sudden was I coming up blank?  I write daily thoughts that come to me, so, why am I having difficulty writing a blog?  What is blocking me?  My deadline is approaching and I need to get inspired.  My writing always comes naturally to me but now I am pressuring myself to write something.  I’m relying on myself to do this and it’s not working.  The only thing I can do is to “TROG”: Totally Rely On God.  In order to do this, I need to be willing to do an “emotional cleanse”.  I need to find out why I’m preventing myself to be open to God.  I know God will help me.  Am I  willing to let Him?  Let’s see.  

In tears, (the tears are a good indication that something else is going on) I call upon God and within minutes I feel His presence begin to soothe me.  As He always does, He allows me to speak, as He lovingly listens.  I tell Him I feel uninspired to write, that I’m coming up empty.  I’m putting pressure on myself for not being able to figure out a story line.  It’s the Christmas season, fa, la, la, la, la and all that joyful stuff.  I should be inspired to write something joyful, funny or perhaps a story about Jesus.  No, that story has already been written.  Anyway, who am I to write about Jesus.  I hear God say, “Tell me about your burdenś”.  Burdens, what burdens?   I have no burdens.  “It’s me, Debbie, you know the one that hands everything over to You”.  Why are you asking me about burdens when You know I have none?  I trust you to take them from me.  I’m free of worry.  

I could almost feel God breathe in and let out a big “really now, are you sure you are free”?  “Yes, yes, I’m free”.  You take care of me, which leaves me free to take care of others.  You know I want to fix everyone’s troubles so they can have a relationship with you like I do.  “Did You forget why You put me on this earth”?  My job is to make people feel joyful in Your love.  And I’m not inspired to do that because I have nothing inspirational to write about.

I hear a giant hmmm as God says:  “Thanks for letting me know why I created you.  I thought I was the only one that knew.  You apparently know more than I do.  Why then, are you calling upon me?  If you’re the “fixer of problems”, why do you need me?”  

I feel myself tense up as I answer His question.  “I told you, I don’t know what to write about.  I need You to inspire me”.  He notices my tenseness and asks about my health.  “How have I been feeling?”.  “Great, I feel wonderful.  Anytime I can accomplish something I do a victory dance.  Just look what I did for Thanksgiving.  And I decorated for Christmas.  Come on, you see I’m doing the best I can considering.  All that drained me but at least I did it.  I was happy to host Thanksgiving.  Didn’t you see the joy on my face?  I love bringing people together. I want everyone to be happy.  I want them to forget their troubles when they’re around me”.  Another sigh from God as He says:  “I see, you want my job”.  Huh, I don’t want God’s job.  I just want to fix everyone’s problems.   My body is becoming more tense as I listen.  The Parkinson’s is acting up, I can feel it. God beckons me to sit with Him.  He’d like to help me figure out what is going on inside.  He wants us to review the past year of my life.  I tell Him I’m not sure He’ll find anything earth-shattering, after all, I wrote more this year than in the past.    I’m in good shape.  Sure, I’ll review with Him but He’s not going to find anything that’s blocking me.   I’m fine.  We’re about to watch a mini version of “This Is Your Life”.  (Suddenly I have an urge for a large bucket of buttered popcorn and a huge Diet Pepsi as I anticipate what’s about to play before me).  

Before we start, I ask myself some basic questions that God already knows the answers to.  I feel at peace with Him by my side, which is why I don’t understand what’s going on.  I’m happy, I’m content.  So why do I feel so uninspired and lost?  One thing I know about God is that I can’t fake it with Him.  He knows all my truths.  And He knows I have not been honest in my feelings.  I’m hurting, and He’s aware of it.  He’s just been waiting for me to acknowledge it.  I can sense that He wants me to dig below the surface of content that I am faking, to see what I might be suppressing.  He presses the play button, and the past year begins to unfold.  

There have been several major changes this past year that have been going on in the nucleus of my family that I thought I had turned over to God, but apparently, I hadn’t given them completely to Him.  No.  I buried a significant amount for safe keeping.  I was holding on to negative emotions to justify any of my actions, should I need to.  Outwardly, I put on a good front.  I’d been writing positive thoughts, celebrating little accomplishments I was having, entertaining a lot, trying to take people’s minds off their troubles by making sure I brought laughter to them, and I was spending more alone time with God than ever before.  I should be emitting a heavenly glow but inwardly I am having a meltdown.  Glued to my seat, I watch and listen as I hear myself speak.

 I have way too much going on in my little brain.  Thoughts have been popping into my head that are not good for my inner peace.  My memory is full of unhealthy data, and I need to decompress.  I thought I was hitting the delete button each time a negative thought popped up, but I’ve been hacked into.  My hard drive is being infected with harmful viruses. Emotional viruses that are trying to destroy all the positive data that God designed for me to program in.  My spiritual well being is being taken over by thoughts of worry, fear and anger.  They are trying to destroy my trust.  I have faith, but I am not using it to its fullest extent.   Everything about me is freezing up.  I can’t afford a shut down   I need an intervention by God to help me restore my drive before it’s too late.  

Physically, I feel weighed down.  I am allowing the Parkinson’s to overtake territory that belongs to God.  I feel as though this disease is getting worse.  What’s worsening is not the disease itself, but my “dis ease”.  I have been putting myself through unnecessary torment, which is affecting me physically.  I’ve been burdened with guilt, worry and anger. Tremendous guilt that we had to put my mother in a nursing home because I am not able to care for her in the way I see other daughters care for their moms.  She lets me know that she wishes she had more daughters who would do for her (not so subtle is she?).  I have to remind myself that physically I can’t do for her. It’s hard enough just doing for me. Unfortunately, I have always allowed the guilt she throws my way to control my emotions.  It’s been a lifelong struggle of mine.  No matter what I do, I always feel it’s not what she wants.  That guilt blocks me from feeling any positive emotions toward her.  Its gotten to the point where I do out of obligation and not love.  Guilt overtook love. I learned how to deal with it, even though it causes me great anguish.  Needless to say, that anguish is erupting inside since I feel that I’ve failed as a daughter.

The next thing that is brought to my attention is my worrying about my husband.  The loss of his parents over the past couple of years has changed his family dynamic. And on top of that, having to retire before he planned, has left him feeling as though he has no purpose.  I can see how lost he feels.  Both parents now gone, no job, and a wife who is struggling with her own issues – all that is taking its toll on his emotional and physical health.  Needless to say my worry is legitimate.  He tries to be strong, but I see his pain.  Fortunately, he has his music, and I make sure that he keeps that alive inside.  I know he worries about me and tries to help me with everything he can.  Of course me being me, I’m always telling him he doesn’t do things the way I do them.  I get mad at myself for being ungrateful but trust me if you saw how he cleans, you’d feel the same.  lol.  I worry about becoming a burden to my husband, and kids if my physical condition worsens.  I don’t want to have them see me as a burden.  It scares me to think of it. They all have their own issues to work out.  They don’t need me to topple them over. Besides, I’m supposed to be there for them.  

Another worry of mine is the health of one of my brother’s.  He has several serious health issues going on, and his pain is overwhelming.  He’s always been a guy of tremendous strength and prided himself on that.  But the pain is now consuming both his body and his mental outlook.  There’s no relief for him, and so once again, I feel helpless because there’s nothing I can do to ease his pain.  

The last thing I focus in on is my anger.  I am upset about what is going on in the world.  Both in my personal world and the rest of the world.  Unresolved issues that are frustrating me internally on a personal level, topped off by all the lies coming out of Washington.  Not knowing who or what to believe anymore.  Not being able to trust what comes from the mouths of those we rely upon.  I want to give the benefit of the doubt but I feel as though I am inundated with lie, after lie after lie.  People are fighting one another.  Rage, hatred, killings are taking precedence in the news. I find myself consumed with concern about people’s mental health, and the well being of the children of the world.  I worry for my grandchildren.  How are they coping with the world’s chaos?  Are they putting unnecessary stress on themselves because of what they see and hear?  Do they know how to connect with God?   I worry about their safety and well being.  Will they be okay in this crazy, unpredictable world of today?  Will they turn to God?  I see many of my friends and family battling with themselves, questioning God, turning from God, losing faith.    I try to encourage them, but I feel as though I’m letting God down because I’m not getting through to anyone.  I want to fix what’s broken in people, to save them.  How can I save anyone, when I can’t even save myself?  All this unnecessary worry going on deep within me is drawing my attention away from God, not bringing people closer to Him.  On the surface, I try to be positive, but my emotions are getting the best of me.  I feel frustrated.  These emotions are affecting me physically.  I can feel it.  They are blocking my connection with God.  And as if that’s not bad enough writer’s block?! Really, all this and my main concern is not having a story for my blog?!  I think maybe I have lost it!  Ha, ha.  I need Divine intervention and fast. Of all months not to have anything to write about.  It’s Christmas time,  I should be anticipating the birth of Christ, not carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders and worrying about what to write.  Please God, give me an early Christmas present of inspiration.  

I’m beginning to see how I am the cause of my blockage.  In truth, I want to just close my eyes and make it all go away, but I can’t.  It’s all still there.  Every worry, every fear, and the realization that I can’t fix anything makes me useless.  It’s not my responsibility to change what’s happening around me.  All I can do is change what’s going on inside me. Then I’ll be able to do God’s Will, not mine.  

Suddenly I hear the words a priest once told me, echo in my ear.  “You are not the saver of people”. And then I hear God say to me:  “You are burdened by trying to save people.  You are not the Savior”. My Son is the Savior.  I presented Him to the world on a day which has become known as Christmas. He was born to save all mankind.  To free my children from their burdens.  He gave His life so you may live.  He is the reason for this season of joy.  He represents my love.  He is to be your guide.  An example of total trust in whatever I ask of you.  Your responsibility is to me.  It is through me that you serve others.  I’ll use you to spread my Love and my Word when I want you to.  Not when you want to.  Your worries come because you are troubled by the will of others and of your own will.  Do not take on the burdens of others.  My Son carried those burdens on the cross as he took His last breath.  He brought Faith and hope to the world.  That faith connects you to me.  Worry and fear are causing you to feel lost.  Trust me you are not lost.  I am drawing you nearer.  I have never abandoned you.  I hear your cries and I run to your aid always.  All I want is for you to turn to me for everything. I am leading you to where I want you to be. But you don’t see that.  You see what you want to see.  And what you see is you standing in your own way.  You are blocking yourself from me.  What I ask of you should never be overwhelming for you.  I use you in ways only known to me. You should feel joy as you do my Will.  Rest assured, I am here for those you are concerned about.  They know where I can be found.  I love them as I love you.  They just haven’t connected to me in the same way you do but they are not lost either.  Through their pain and anguish, I call to them.  I wait patiently.  I watch over them.  When they turn to me it will be on their doing.  I use you in many ways.  Ways that are not known to you.  When you struggle, you are in your own way.  I bring clarity.  Let me take care of you and the rest of the world. You and they are my responsibility.  I am here to help you take care of you if you’ll let me”.

Wow, who knew all that was festering in me.  No wonder I was blocked.  I needed to see so much.  I knew God would enlighten me.  I just didn’t realize it would be in this way.  In gratitude to God, I reflect upon what I just heard.  I am not a saver of man. Only a person’s desire to know, and love God can save them, as it saved Christ.  His desire to do His Fathers Will and deny Himself by sacrificing His life so we may live is what made Him The Son of God, The Savior of man. My responsibility is to do God’s Will by using the free will He gave me in a meaningful way to draw nearer to Him.  Jesus is my example.  I am to serve God as He wishes, not how I or others expect me to serve.  If God is in control, there is no need for me to control or to worry.  He knows just what to do and when to do it.  I need to trust that.  I need to focus less on the lies of people and focus more on God’s truth.  

As I find solace in all of this, I fall asleep and wake up feeling hopeful.  My body is relaxed, and I can move easier than I have in weeks.  The tenseness of the Parkinson’s is less.  One day if God permits, the “dis ease” of this disease will be gone.  The important thing is I have found my place back in Gods loving arms.  He is carrying me.  I know He’ll stand me on my own two feet and of course, I will stumble and fall again and again, but that’s okay.  I know where to go.  I know where He can be found.  All I have to do is call His name and he’ll come running.  He is my Savior, I am not the “saver”.  I am among the saved.

 As I peek out my window, I am overcome by the beautiful sunrise.  It is a reminder from God that a new day dawns. It is a day that makes totally relying on God so well worth it.  I called, He answered.  My mission was to save.  His mission is to save me.  

As far as my blog is concerned,  I think I just wrote it.  I did receive an early Christmas present after all. See, I’m learning to “TROG”.  It’s a move that takes skill and practice.  I may never master it, but I sure will enjoy strutting my stuff.  

In this great season of love, I’d like to extend my best wishes to all of you.  May God’s love shower you with peace, hope, and joy today, and through the upcoming years.  May faith lead you to learn how to “TROG” on your own.  

On a side note, my hubby came home today with five movies from the library that he said he rented for me.  The first four were really for him.  When I looked at the last one, I immediately put the DVD in to watch it.  The movie was called, “Interview with God”.  Basically, it’s about a person that is struggling with some emotional issues and calls upon God.  God, in reply to the man’s prayers, shows up to have an interview with the man (who is a journalist).  In a way, it paralleled what just happened to me.  Some parts were head-on.  To say this movie confirmed what I heard in my heart prior to watching it is an understatement.    God works in the most amazing ways.

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.


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

“My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue
An everlasting vision of the ever-changing view
A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold
A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold

-from Tapestry by CaroleKing

I LOVE going to the Met Cloisters and seeing the tapestries hanging, especially the unicorn ones.  I’ve even seen the Bayeux Tapestry in France.  They’re hundreds of years old, and yet, there they are- still beautiful, still hanging.  How do tapestries from the Middle Ages still hang on walls today?  Well first, they were made with great care and talent.  The threads were made and dyed by hand, and expert weavers worked for years to tell the stories that we see in the brilliant images.  Secondly, they’ve been maintained for all generations to view and admire.  So it is with each of our lives- we all take the yarns we’re given, and weave tapestries that will last for generations to admire and learn from. It is up to each of us to be the expert weavers, and create our own stories that will last.

Every experience, in my opinion, is a thread- and we are constantly weaving and adding to the tapestries of our lives.  Each joy, each sorrow, each triumph, and each failure are ALL part of who we are and WHO we become.  People sometimes try to hide their pains or failures or make up stories to change how others think of them-but the true threads are always there, and the false ones will eventually wear away. 

I like to think of experiences as colors- that helps me to visualize the tapestry concept.  Happy experiences are reds, oranges, greens.  Losses are muted colors, like grays, and dark blues.  The most joyful experiences, like my marriage and the birth of my daughter, are golds, silvers and gorgeous shimmering threads.  My cancer diagnosis, and subsequent treatment, in addition to kicking cancer’s ass, is a thick, bright pink thread- strong and bold to never let me forget how strong I am.  Even seasons get threaded into my personal tapestry:  Winter, Christmastime especially, is a beautiful red and gold braided thread to remind me that there is always hope and joy.  Spring is a silver and green thread that lets me always see the possibility of new beginnings.  What colors are in YOUR tapestry?

Most times, we cannot see what our tapestry looks like- because we’re so involved with weaving.  It’s like we can only look at the back of it, and from there it seems impossible that we’re doing something good!  As we all know, though, if we put forth the work, and weave with quality threads- the end product will be something to be proud of. 

“It will be very interesting one day to follow the pattern of our life as it is spread out like a beautiful tapestry. As long as we live here we see only the reverse side of the weaving, and very often the pattern, with its threads running wildly, doesn’t seem to make sense.  Someday, however, we shall understand.
― Maria von Trapp

My wish for all of you in this Holiday season is to weave new colors into your personal tapestry, and to inspire others to add vibrant colors to their own life stories, by passing along kindness, compassion, and friendship to all.  Peace and love to each of you.

“Time unfolds beauty, wonder, and mystery to reveal the auspicious tapestry of life.” 
― A.D. Posey

Jennifer 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.

Making A List, Checking It Twice

BY: Padraic Maroney – “The Neurotic Urban Millennial”

Tis the season. The decorations are up. The temperatures are dipping (or rising, because well, you know, climate change). And as they say, he’s making a list and checking it twice. No, I’m not talking about Santa Claus. It’s me… and while I’m more Grinch than Jolly Saint Nick, I do enjoy the holiday season. Yes, the big man in red and I have some things in common. During this time of year, I like to take stock of the year that has just occurred, the year that is about to start, and what I am looking to do in it.

Looking Back…

…at the bad…
It’s easy to dwell on the bad stuff that happens throughout the year. So, let’s get that out of the way: I got into my first car accident when a tracker trailer rear-ended me on a highway. I had a prolonged medical issue, which you might have heard about. Some friends moved away and there were also some disappointments along the way.

…and the good

But among all of that were some great events: my first time trip across the ocean, as well as some great stateside times with friends. Even when the night might not go as planned, we are able to bring the fun. I didn’t necessarily get my surprise party, but they did come together to organize something to make sure we celebrated my birthday.

I also got to spend time with all the babies. My favorite little lady baby, who likes to facetime me during dinner to be her personal jukebox and delay having to actually eat food but HATES when you turn off Elmo to Facetime me. Then there are the nuggz, my favorite little twins who apparently (and grossly) like to eat biscuits dipped in ketchup and get way too excited in McDonald’s Playland.

Looking Forward

No matter how the last 365 days have gone, I usually find that where I wind up at the end of the year is never quite where I expected. I mean, it’s not like I am turning tricks under an overpass or anything. But can you honestly say that where you are today is exactly where you thought you would be at this time last year?

What am I planning for 2019?

1.More traveling and Fun

Building off Europe earlier this year, I already have my next trip planned. In just over a month, I leave for a relaxing beach-filled trip to Punta Cana. After three months of working way more than I should, this is going to be like a sheltered college freshman going to MTV’s Spring Break for the first time. Stella and her groove are going to have nothing on the shenanigans I plan to unleash.

Also, the babies are getting older and, if I am going to officially convert the lady baby into a Britney fan, I’m going to need to make visits in person. Right now she’s on that Baby Shark train and it hurts my soul.

But more than just traveling, enjoying life more and not letting little things weigh down on me. It’s been something I have been working on for a few years. When hosting a party, don’t focus on who’s not there. Focus on those who are are with you.

There’s always a few fun outings planned as well — including a reunion with my nemesis, Debbie Gibson when she stops in Philadelphia as part of her tour with New Kids On The Block. Let’s see how this goes….

2. Self Care

Look, I hate being cliche or sounding too basic. But a lot of times, I will put other people’s needs or requests in front of what I want to do. Whether it’s going out when I know I should stay home, overbooking my days, or just not taking proper steps to manage my anxiety and keep myself from spinning. Plus, I really kind of love face masks — not like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Leatherface loves, but i would do a face mask every night if I could.

3. Stop Procrastinating

Let me clarify — I have two modes, whirling dervish, where I get shit done as if my life depends on it, or sloth, where I will become one with my couch and watch an 84-hour marathon of “SVU.” And to be quite honest, I am only going to be able to change that so much. Sometimes you need to be a sloth and revel in your own filth.

What I am referring to, however, is that I have become really good at putting off larger projects that I have wanted to complete for years. I’ve talked about writing a book about my exploits as a teen entertainment journalist, and have started it a few times, never getting further than a chapter or two. I’ve wanted to re-decorate my apartment, and I’ve gotten a few pieces of arts, but nothing more substantial. I also want to get serious about training for another marathon.

All of these things are things that I want to do, but I keep putting them off because I always figure that there’s time to do them later. Well, 2019 might just be the time for me to do them. It’ll help me be healthier both physically and mentally, clearing out those cobwebs.  

4. Get Serious About Money

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not the most financially savvy person. While I can manage my accounts to make sure I don’t overdraw my accounts, I also know there is a lot more to learn about how to make my money work for me. Whether it is getting into the stock market, lowering my monthly bills (I just officially cut the cable cord!), or paying down debt like student loans, I am looking to get a better handle on my finances and working towards buying a house and better setting myself up for retirement.

I don’t like to make new year’s resolutions, because something like 80% of people fail at them. It feels like you are just setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead, at the end of the year, I do things like this and make some general goals for the year. I don’t set specifics or apply pressure, but set the goals that I want to work towards.

So, join me and let us know what’s on your list for 2019! A lot of the year is what you make it, and how you react to what life throws at you. After this year, I say bring it, 2019.

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

Change of Life

BY: Demetrious McMullen – “Ruler of Androgyny”

My window is frozen open. The air in my room was so bad last night, that I cracked the window, even though it was freezing outside. I went to close it in the morning, but it wouldn’t budge! It was pretty chilly, but not intolerable. However, after a couple of hours, I became a human popsicle. Rather, a human fudgesicle! It makes no difference in the fact that my room was a temporary freezer (good thing our cat, Ziggy, is a fluffy puff). I just absolutely love chocolate.

So, my last blog was a mess. It’s difficult to make a well-rounded introduction. I had to get it out of the way and I’m happy that from now on my blogs will be more precise and focused on individual topics. Today, I want to talk about the frequent change of life and the paths one could take. This is because I’ve decided to leave SUNY Potsdam.

My reasons for leaving have to do with how unsuccessful I’ve been for the last five semesters.  My disabilities are bringing me down. The accessibility on campus is atrocious, as it is extremely difficult to get anywhere in my wheelchair.  I can’t eat that much sodium because when I do, I swell up and can barely walk. I have to cook my own food because of this, and the kitchen is across the building! These are only some of the issues that I’ve come across. Many more have been exhausting me and driving me mad.

Next semester, I will be taking online courses at Westchester Community College and will decide where to go from there. What surprises me is just how happy I am with this plan. I feel free and ready to jump into the next part of my life. I will definitely miss people here. I learned a great deal from being here. I will miss the wonderful professors I’ve had, the students I had a chance to get to know, and the programs I participated in. Although I know that this is the best thing for me, change can be tough to swallow.

Many times, life changes rapidly and you’ll end up where you didn’t plan to be. I was going to try to finish this semester. I am unable to.  I don’t know what’s wrong, but my health is just awful.  Last week, we rehearsed forthe Candlelight concert at the Crane School. We then performed on Sunday. I had to go to the ER on Saturday night because of the pain in my abdomen, along with other concerning symptoms. They gave me an IV of saline and Tylenol, along with another medication to help with nausea and pain.

Want to know why a person would have to have two IVs? The first IV I had was infiltrated and my arm started to fill up with liquid. It was the biggest IV needle that has ever been in my arm and it hurt. This is why I was certainly not happy when they had to insert a second IV for the CT scan in my bad arm. With all of this and bloodwork, they found nothing. I should have expected this, as they did the same thing to me two years ago, when something serious was happening. I will go to my doctor for a follow-up on this issue, but for now, I, unfortunately, have to wait a little bit. Just a side note: my fiancé, Lindsay, decided to take a picture of me with two IVs in my arms. What a memory, right?

I had to make another decision recently. I have constant trouble with my IV for infusions. My veins fall flat from being used so much, and they are already tiny. An option to help this is to get a Port-A-Cath. It scares me, but I know it will be better for me and my treatment in the future. I scheduled my appointment to get a Port-A-Cath for January 7th, and I am sticking to it. It will be scary, but it will be beneficial for my treatment.

I never would have expected this to happen. I didn’t even know that I would have Ankylosing Spondylitis, and many other conditions that are best friends with the medications I take every day. Life is ever-changing, yet challenging. Life is beautiful, yet burdensome. Life has variety and variation, yet many do struggle to make the simplest of decisions.

My health is what needs the most of my attention right now. I am at a stage in life where I am done with tradition.  I have dealt with an abundance of insufficient accommodations and stressful workloads. I’ve had paperwork issues that didn’t allow me into a music program and then a life-threatening asthma attack that affected my next vocal audition.  The path I was planning on taking seemed to have hurdles that only grew taller as time went by. I am meant to go a different way and it’s okay. I need to listen to what my body is telling me, particularly when it is saying what it is. I finally recognized how miserable and sick this is making me. Changing my course won’t only benefit my health; it will better my life.

Demetrious McMullen is currently a college student, attending SUNY Potsdam, majoring in Theatre. They are a vocalist, play piano, baritone ukulele, violin, hand percussion, and more. Demetrious is also an actor, photographer, and painter. Demetrious is a caregiver and loves to teach. They want to be a special education teacher one day, and at some point perform their love of the arts.

Demetrious is transgender and created a title for themself of “transmale androgynous”. This is because they are on the masculine side of gender, but is still extremely androgynous. Demetrious is chronically ill and two of their most debilitating disabilities are Ankylosing Spondylitis and Asthma. Demetrious has to deal with chronic illness every day and it is tough, but they will not give up. Chronic illness will not win.

Parenthood Is Not a Competition!

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

The holiday season is upon us, and thus starts the long month of “so and so has this”, and “so and so has that”.  OMG, I am already exhausted and it is only December 4!

After a long conversation about the fact that I lost my job in September; we came to an understanding.

It left me feeling bad that I could not give my kids more this season. But, it also led to think about the “Mommy Wars”. 

I deem the “Mommy (or daddy or anyone else) Wars”  as the unspoken comparison of how we parent our children, and what we do for them materialistically, emotionally, etc.

I think any parent reading this can understand that internal battle to teach your kids that materialistic things are really not that important, while at the same time having that nagging feeling that you want to give them anything and everything they want.

I never realized that one of the hardest parts of parenting is the battle you face with that thief of joy- comparison.

We all parent in our own ways. Everyone has an opinion from the minute your children are born. All of a sudden everyone is an expert on your life, and will tell you how to feed, clothe, raise, toilet train, crib/co-sleep, what methods to use, organic food, breast milk, bottle feed, formula – THIS LIST COULD GO ON FOREVER.

I wish the one thing I would have realized as a new mother was that none of it matters because they will survive it all and so will you.  Generations of women have raised children in many different ways and it is what makes our world so diverse.

The “Mommy Wars” are a real thing ask anyone stepping onto a school playground, PTA meeting or open school night. It feels like you are entering a war zone at times. When our kids enter school it is like reliving high school all over again. The cliques are present, as well as the judgment.

What if we didn’t judge one another? What if instead we helped without being asked, gave without telling the world, lent a hand, sent a meal, a word of encouragement that you are doing the best you can?  What if we took all that negative energy and put it into lifting up another mother?

I have always felt better after helping out another mom, from simply telling them where to find something at a better price, how to bake cupcakes, telling them it is okay to not feel like you have all the answers, and that we all worry we are FUCKING up our kids on a regular basis.

Parenting does not come with instructions. I do not care how many books you read on the topic. There is absolutely nothing that can prepare you for the most important job you will ever have; raising a child.

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.


BY: Nancy Fraioli – “Queen of Ageless Wisdom”


The wisdom of my Christmas feelings and traditions run deep. With each new Christmas, it seems I travel back, deeper, in memory and wish I could bring back yesteryears events! I invite all of you and The Daily Feels readers, to embark on my ‘road trip’ to the past. I’ve entitled my December Blog “A Trilogy” because I am showcasing three episodes that are closely related and eventually become a ‘main event!’

My three events have and always will be close to my heart and forever burned into my memory. Time has not erased the emotions or the good feelings that I had then, so many years ago, and still affect me now.


Martin Luther began the “tree” tradition of bringing a Fir tree into his home. As the story goes, in the year of 1536, while walking home, through the Pine forest of Wittenberg, Germany, one December eve, Martin noticed how the stars shone through the trees. He was so impressed and was anxious to share this with Mrs. Luther, his wife. So he cut a tree down, took it home and placed it in their home. He adorned it with small lighted candles, (which reminded him of the stars), on its branches. Martin Luther declared that it would be a symbol of the beautiful Christmas sky. Martin looked upon the “tree” as everlasting love from God.

Today we have many symbolic Christmas Trees but the one that comes quickly to mind is The Rockefeller Center Tree. It, too, has quite a history connected to it. In 1931 it was the first tree at the Center placed there by the construction workers. Actually, the workers would collect their pay at the tree. Two years later, in 1933, another tree was placed at the same site, this time it was adorned with lights. This became its official home each Christmas season. Today, the famous tree dons at least 25,000 lights! A sight everyone must see, at least once! Of course, we have the growing Tree as part of The Nutcracker Suite presented each year at the Met. This one-ton Christmas Tree grows from a height of 12 feet to 41 feet! Go and see it and find out how the tree is housed! Let us not forget the famous “Charlie Brown Tree!” It too evokes much thought! Do you know what Charlie’s tree needs most? Linus has the answer, it’s love! Does it fit the modern spirit? So a little background on my feelings about and for the special tree we use for the season. No, the Fraioli Tree never became famous but brought us so much enjoyment and love that I’d be remiss if I didn’t, at least, share one of our tree stories.

One very cold, freezing, Saturday in December, we embarked on our ‘tree hunting escapade!’ Gloves, scarves, heavy coats and boots; nothing curbed the frigid cold of that day in December! I was always the fussy one, wanting the ‘perfect’ tree! Our noses, toes, and fingers were frozen and Larry, my husband, and my daughter were done with this tree shopping bit! I picked a beautiful spruce for indoors and Larry decided to get a white root ball spruce for replanting after the ground became unfrozen! Since we were feeling a bit flushed with some extra money, I loved the idea of a permanent spruce in our little yard! It grew from 5’ to at least 16 feet!

Money wise it was a “fat” Christmas for us! We also had a white “fake” tree which we’d use as well! This particular year, our daughter Paula claimed her rights to it and the decorating of it. So, three people and three trees! A bit ostentatious but we had a plan! The white tree stood in the kitchen and Paula trimmed it with small colored ornaments of toys and kitchen play items. red and blue were the color scheme! A homemade tree blanket of baby bears made by my cousin Barbara hugged the bottom of the tree. In fact, she made one for the family as well; one side looked like a stained glass window and the other side was a rich Victorian garnet color.

We placed our live spruce in our wheelbarrow; untrimmed, unlit but yet, she stood majestically! She knew that the best of times were ahead of her; she’d found a home! The Main event was decorating our real blue spruce! Larry had placed the tree in its stand and gave the tree a drink! Next we’d tackle the ‘lights’! Always a nightmare! You know the story, unwinding the lights, checking to see if replacements were needed and finally, string them on the tree in uniform order. Since, we fought the elements all day, we were looking forward to a hot meal!

Finally, thawed, warmed and fed, we were on to the fun part of the event! We did have a method of madness to our trimming……tiny, small, medium and large decorations and ornaments were to be placed and in that order! When we decorated my mother’s tree, she finished off her decorating by using tinsel! Remember that aluminum shining icy stuff? It most likely had other elements in it and it mimics the effect of ice. It is very harmful to cats and dogs! Mom insisted upon the thick kind! And she would start at the top of the tree and each branch had to be decorated in a uniform manner; short, medium and long. Her tinsel made the tree! So much so, you couldn’t see the old fashioned ornaments! But, that was what pleased her. To this day, we still have those old ornaments! Real treasures! And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? That’s what creates the ‘memories’ of years gone by!

I got sidetracked but that’s what happens at his time of the year. My husband, daughter and I truly enjoyed dressing our tree. After our ornaments were placed and the skirt arranged under the tree, we’d step back, pause and look at each other, as though we’d just performed a little miracle! Now, was the best time….lighting our tree for the holidays! But, before we did that, I’d make hot chocolate and we’d toast our tree and each other! Job well done! Now, the crowning moment; all house lights off and Larry would light the tree! Wow! I still get goosebumps today.

We’d sit, look and sip our hot drink. All was peaceful. This feeling of love would wash over me and I couldn’t help but tingle within, as though Angels were touching me. All the tiredness of the day just disappeared and we were home, safe and happy.


 While in the Navy, Larry learned the plumbing trade. He thought once he was mustered out of the Navy, he’d have no trouble getting a plumbing job. Wrong! Seems one had to have a license to plumb before one could get a job. He did that but because he wasn’t with a company, he was refused work. He did auto work as a mechanic but he wanted to be a plumber. It was one of those catch-22 situations! So, he persisted and found someone who would take a chance with him and his plumbing experience. He was hired by a small shop, in New Rochelle, and found a home. However, this particular year it was quite a thin year. Larry’s boss was experiencing a very slow year and this was clashing and playing havoc with Christmas shopping. I wasn’t working. Just doing all those charitable things one does to help out. My daughter was about seven or so and she went to St. Gregory’s in Harrison.

One evening, after our dinner, Larry shared his thoughts about Christmas gifts. Jobs were not plentiful and Larry’s boss wanted to be fair with his eight workers. A little work for each! So, they could all be on salary. Now, Larry’s idea for a Christmas gift for our daughter was a Doll House! In fact, he told me he saw one in the window of Miller’s Toy Store in Mamaroneck. He loved it; it was complete with furniture and family.

I asked him if his thinking about this Doll House was conceivable since work was so slow? We were just barely managing but the bills were being paid. And, furthermore, he said, you and I’ll exchange gifts.  We’ll be creative in our gift wrapping. No fancy paper for us this year. We’ll brown bag our gifts and we’ll be fine! I certainly admired his spirit and he did not waver once from his idea about the gift! Doubt never entered the picture. I, too, felt uplifted. Sure enough, I managed to buy Larry a certain tool he wanted. Yup, I ‘brown bagged’ it and pasted golf cartoons on the bag! He, in turn, got me the hair dryer I needed. He used comic strips of Nancy, you know the girl with the short thick hair? Clever! Paula had little gifts for us as well!

Well, something happened during Christmas week! We had quite a snow storm. Kitchen pipes were freezing up and drain storms were clogged! You guessed it, Larry’s workload increased on Christmas week. Christmas cooking, company coming, the housewives were screaming for plumbers! On Christmas Eve, Larry’s boss was able to give each of his men a full week’s salary and the housewives were so grateful to have their sinks, pipes, and plumbing restored, they gave the men generous tips too! On Christmas Eve, Larry was late getting home. You know where he was? Yes, at Miller’s. The “gift” was still in the window. When he arrived home that eve, he motioned to me that the “house” was in the truck! I do think faith was at work here.

Paula loved her Doll House and we all had fun playing with it. It wasn’t all about the gifts but our attitudes, our feelings and our thinking about positive possibilities. Oh yes, I threw in my more than share of prayers!


 Anyone who really knows me knows that I love ornaments. Whenever we would visit quaint towns, such as Newport, RI, and Nova Scotia I’d head for the Ornament stores. In Italy, I ladened myself and our luggage with Pinocchio ornaments! In Venice, we bought beautiful colored glass. So over the years, my collection, now my daughter’s, has grown! A story with each ornament. Soon now, we’ll be saying to one another, remember this and the story just goes on and the memories come flooding back. I am collecting Frosty Friends and I started them on their inception date which was 1980 with “A Cool Mule.” My grandkids, Cajun and Savannah can split them! We have some beauties. In our family ornament collection, we have various types of Nativity Sets.

So our trees really have been dressed to the nines! For a time, we were using tinsel but we let it fall by the wayside. It was harmful for our pets and I don’t like hiding our ornaments. One particular December, my cousin Chris called me and said she was coming up to visit and she’d like to pop some corn, string it and decorate the tree. Well, we got a late start and if you’ve never strung popcorn, don’t!! It’s work! Well we started late and it was a chore! I can tell you, the popcorn idea went out the window with the tinsel idea! But as we strung, we talked about Christmases past. Retelling family stories; especially old fashioned narratives! Chris’ sister, Barb who had hands of gold. She created all of our ‘family tree quilts; and Carmen, the middle sister who kept us all tranquil when disagreements popped up; she provided us with accurate information. Carmen was and still is our ‘go to’ for solving problems. My cousins, my soul sisters; I love them!

My dear Daily Feels readers, we are the ornaments of life! Some of us are hewn from the the hard stuff, like The David! Some of us may resemble a painting, fragile, and then we have the everyday type of ornament…..which we cannot do without! So you see, irregardless of color, creed, beliefs and ideas, we are the gifts, the ornaments of life! I’m thrilled we’re on display 365 days per year! We cannot be put in a box, neatly arranged in an attic or closet; we are the constant ornament! Please remember, dear reader, that it’s been your experiences, your wisdom that has brought you to where you are today!

In all languages, I deeply wish all of you, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a peace filled with so much joy! My thanks and good wishes to Janis Gaudelli, the founder of The Daily Feels. To all the Bloggers, regular and guest visitors! Janis, our Tree and tower of strength; the writings are the gifts and the Bloggers are the ornaments! Thank you!

It seems in retelling and exploring Christmas’ past, I’ve fallen in love with all of those wonderful people I used to know and talk with. I, now, have a better understanding of them. Thanks for taking this journey with me. Be good to one another! We are “The Main Event!”

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!