Monthly Archives: September 2013

Laughter is the sound of the soul dancing. ~J. Kintz

When was the last time you had a begin at your toes, belly shaking, tears streaming down your cheeks, nose-sorting kind of laugh?  Yesterday?  Last month?  Last year?  I hope it was recently.  I hope it happens more often than not and I even hope that it’s sometimes at yourself.  Yes, yourself.  I’m not sure I would have written that last statement fifteen or even ten years ago. But as I’ve gotten, older, um- wiser, I’ve learned that not only is it ok to laugh at yourself, but it feels good.  It’s a sort of inner acceptance that occasionally you do embarrass yourself and sometimes it’s damn funny – and there is nothing wrong with that.  In fact, there was a study done in 2011Roseanna Borelli regarding this very topic (look, it’s not as ridiculous as the The Elephant Self-Recognition Study to see if elephants recognize themselves in a mirror).  The University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Zürich studied 70 psychology students to measure their ability to laugh at themselves.  When the study ended, it was discovered that being able to laugh at yourself is a distinct trait.  It also revealed that it coincides with having an upbeat personality, pleasant mood and a good sense of humor.  I think if you asked those that know me best, they would agree that I have those traits.  And I can tell you from personal experience, as recently as yesterday, that I can most definitely laugh at myself.  I often share my embarrassing moments on my Facebook page.  I do this for two reasons.  First, most of the predicaments I get myself into are rather comical and I like to think that by sharing them, I’m showing others that we need to stop taking life so seriously and lighten up some.  Second, it makes me happy to know that sharing my latest blunder made my friends laugh, yes, even if it’s at my expense.  When I write something and someone replies with, “that made my day”, or “I haven’t laughed that hard all week”, well, that makes my day.  Like “paying it forward”, but with humor.

My most recent embarrassing moment occurred this past weekend at the park. Autumn was in the air, so instead of going to the gym, I decided to power walk outside.    I have a rather diverse taste in music but when it comes to working out, it’s all about Motown and old-school R&B…with a little latin tossed in. With my iPod in hand and a fabulous playlist created by yours truly, I hit the pavement. Something about this time of year invigorates me and I had completed a mile in record time.  Ok, I wasn’t exactly training for a marathon, but it was impressive none the less.  With the endorphins now kicking in, I began my second mile almost jogging – emphasis on ‘almost’.  And then, it happened.  I heard those first few notes of the song that makes it impossible for me not to want to dance.  I’m talking get my stilettos, a red dress and find a dance floor kind of dancing.  My pace quickened as the song played, I had a rhythm now and I dance-1050x600was singing along to the song.  Half way through the song it happened, I’m not sure it was even a conscious decision, but all of a sudden I was doing a cha-cha/mambo step with a few salsa moves.  It was during this impromptu dance session that my ear phones fell out – and that’s when I realized I had a small, but quite attentive, audience. Two elderly couples were watching me and when our eyes met, they applauded.  I smiled, took a bow and started laughing. One lady said to me, “dear, I want to know what you’re listening to so I can move like that”.  I was still catching my breath (and laughing) when her husband asked me if I came to the park often.  I told him that I do three to four shows a week.  The five of us talked for a few moments and then I continued on my walk.   I’ll admit, I felt a bit foolish as I walked away but then I thought to myself, why?  I was having fun and in doing so,  I brought a smile to four other people.  Life is too short to be taken so seriously, that’s what I’m learning.   And I think I get it now…that famous quote by William Purkey,

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”

I think this will be one of those stories that has a “Part 2”.  So I’m going to close for now, I really need to get ready – I have a show in 30 minutes. 

♫~~~♪~~~♫~~~♪~~~♫~~~♫~~~♪~~~♫~~~♪~~~♫~~~♫~~~♪~~~♫~~~♪

Wondering what song inspired my mid-morning mambo – well here it is:

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September 30, 2013 · 9:38 am

Parenting means giving them your presence, not presents.

I just heard on the news that yet another teenage act of violence is being blamed on Grand Theft Auto.   Really?  I did a little research today and it is mind-boggling how many teenagers are succumbing to criminal mischief only to have their parents shout, ‘it’s the video games that made him do it‘ and Roseanna Borellithen turn around and sue.  Because that’s what we do now, something goes wrong, it must be someone else’s fault.  Are you overweight – sue McDonald’s because they must have forced you to drive to their restaurant (and I use that term loosely), purchase an artery clogging meal and then super-size it while the manager force-fed you against your every wish.   Accountability certainly seems to be a thing of the past.  At what point are parents going to take responsibility for, oh I don’t know, RAISING THEIR KIDS AND MONITORING WHAT THEY DO!  I love Forza Motorsport but you don’t see me racing down I-65 trying to crash into rival cars.  I’m giving Forza a shout out because they encourage online reviews from kids and unlike Grand Theft Auto, the violence, sans car crashes, in the Forza series is non-existent.  http://www.commonsensemedia.org/game-reviews/forza-horizon/user-reviews/kids

My daughter is in college now but during her formative years, the only video game console that was in our home was Nintendo’s Wii Fit.  I know, hardly ‘cool’.   Somehow she survived her childhood and teenage years without an Xbox or Playstation and I’m fairly confident that the lack of those things will not land her in therapy.  Now, I’m not saying she won’t end up there one day due to her crazy Italian family, but you will never hear her say, “it all started one afternoon after school when I met Mario & Luigi…”

I have friends in their thirties and forties with children ranging in ages from 5 to 15.  All of them have some sort of gaming console in their home – some strictly monitor the hours their children can play on it, some do not, at all.   I have seen first hand these responsible, educated,  all around nice people buy video games for their pre-teen kids, even when the game rating is “17 and Roseanna Borelliover”.    Hmmm, let’s think about the ramifications of that decision sans any common sense for a moment.  You allow your child, who has barely entered the coveted double-digit age, to play games with excessive use of heavy artillery, while often promoting sex & drugs, massive killings and violence that would impress Tony Montana from Scarface.  Then, at age 16, they begin getting into trouble – drugs, gangs, maybe even shooting up a mall full of people on a Saturday afternoon.  And when the police question you, you really have no idea why he would do such a horrible thing because he was a very quiet boy, always kept to himself and spent a lot of time in his room.  Guess what, he wasn’t writing poetry.  Let me be clear, I am not blaming video games for trigger happy teenagers. I’m putting this back on the parents. Because I would imagine that a young, impressionable ten-year old that was allowed to spend entirely too much time playing violent games for seven years might not grow up to be the next Ambassador for Peace.

I think video games played in moderation are probably pretty harmless.  If they weren’t, millions of adults that play Farmville would have all turned into farmers with anxiety issues wondering if they had watered their crops and another million or so adults would be making those same farmers offers they couldn’t refuse to grow  crops of weed for them to sell on Mafia Wars.

All joking aside, being a responsible parent is damn hard work.  But guess what, they are our responsibility.  Not teachers, not coaches and certainly not the TV or video games.  It’s on us first and foremost.  It’s a thankless job, the pay sucks and that terrible two stage has been known to stick around for

Roseanna Borelli

Proof my daughter was told “no” and didn’t like it!

years.  Why some parents try to be their kids ‘friend’ I will never understand.  My daughter is nineteen, and I’ve told her over and over, somewhere in your thirties we might be friends – now, I’m still Mama. While she was growing up, if she misbehaved, she was spanked; when she talked back, she got a teaspoon of vinegar in her mouth.  When “time-outs” became the new parenting tool I couldn’t help but laugh – yes, put your child in the corner or better yet, in their room, where the video games are.  That’ll show them!   Bette Davis said it best, “If you have never been hated by your child, you have never been a parent.” 

I fear this upcoming generation will be filled with people who have a grandiose sense of entitlement and zero knowledge of personal responsibility – I’m already seeing it.    They learn from example people, so if you’re a parent, that example had damn well better be you – and you need to make it a consistently good one.  But let me tell you something, when your daughter is in college and you get a text one day that says,

“Mom, I’ve been meaning to tell you this, thank you for raising me the way you did.  Literally every person I met this weekend told me they’ve never met a girl who could stand up for herself like I do”.  

…makes every damn second of the past nineteen years worth it.

Every. Damn. One.

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Mitochondria, Miracles & Mindless Morons

Roseanna Borelli

Joey, December 2005

Some of you already know that my son, Joey, was born in April 2004 with Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathy. September 15-21, 2013, is Global Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week. Across the globe, this week will be marked with various efforts all designed to raise awareness about mitochondrial diseases.  http://www.umdf.org/  In honor of Global Mitochondrial Awareness Week, I’m sharing a few videos of my little boy, Joey, and his battle with Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathy.  What you are about to see took place from October 2009 to February 2010.

Lack of understanding about this disease is one of my biggest frustrations. I made the videos below after Joey slipped into a coma in 2009 after his O2

Roseanna Borelli

Leaving Children’s Hospital, December 2012

levels dipped into the 50’s at school. A rude and ignorant mom at Joey’s school called DHR and told them I was neglecting Joey and knowingly brought him to school sick that morning. We had never spoke before, she never asked me any questions, she just assumed. So, instead of being with my son while he lay comatose in the ICU, my entire family was interrogated by DHR employees for hours. Of course, the case was closed as quickly as it was opened, but it prompted me to make the videos below to show how quickly things can change for children like my Joey.  The video is in three parts and it chronicles Joey’s coma and recovery from October 2009 to February 2010.

There is absolutely nothing more frightful than ignorance in action – nothing.

This next video was made during weeks 2, 3 & 4 into Joey’s coma.  This is where I learned how powerful touch, sound and familiarity can be to a child’s recovery.  While the doctors hadn’t given up on Joey, their outlook was dim.  Joey wasn’t waking up and machines were breathing for him.  I made the decision to have him moved to a room out of the ICU where friends and family could come and visit for a short time and possibly say their last good-bye to Joey.  Just like his mama, Joey is a very social little spirit.  He thrives when those he loves are near him.  So if this was going be the end of his life on Earth, he was going to be surrounded by loved ones, not machines that beep and doctors that only saw him as a patient with a terminal illness.  The doctors approved my decision (like they had a choice) and Joey was moved to a very large room.  I made it very clear that during this time there was not going to be a limit on the number of visitors he had or the length of their visit.  There is a time and place for rules and regulations, this was not it.

Just watch what happens when people start coming to see my little guy – it’s like witnessing a miracle.  The look on his face when he sees his sister for the first time in two weeks still gives me chill bumps.  Those two have always had a very special bond and it was never more evident than on this night.

Below is the third and final video highlighting his coma in 2009.

After 49 days in the hospital, and just one week before Christmas, Joey was finally able to return home. Sadly, Joey was rushed by ambulance early Christmas morning when he began having difficulty breathing. (pay close attention to the photo in this video that was taken on Christmas Eve, then look at the one taken just 18 hours later – that is Mitochondrial Disease at its worst – in just hours my Joey can go from healthy to fighting for his life). In the ER, his O2 was in the 60s and one lung had collapsed – Joey had pneumonia. After one week in the ICU, Joey was able to return home, although he was very weak and lethargic. Joey slept for almost a month, recovering at home. Then, one day, Joey just opened those beautiful brown eyes, smiled and was back to his mischievous little self. Like so many times before, Joey fought hard and the power of prayer prevailed. In February 2010, Joey returned to school after being away for four months. The welcome back celebration was one of the happiest and most emotional moments of my life. I’m so fortunate that my little guy is able to attend such an amazing school that is tailored for children like him.  Oh, and the Auburn shirt you see him wearing, that was for his teacher at the time who happens to be a huge Auburn fan.  Yes, it was painful to put the orange and blue on Joey – but every now and again you have to bite the bullet and step out of your comfort zone.  That was three years ago…so I think that’s enough discomfort for this decade.

Joey celebrated his 9th birthday this past April and continues to be the happiest kid I know – smiling each and every day, regardless of how he feels. We could all learn a thing or two from my little boy. I know I have.  Joey continues to attend school two to three days a week for a few hours each day. His loves continue to be sharks, Alabama Football, the 49ers and anything at all to do with the movie “Finding Nemo”.  He has his mama’s Sicilian stubborn streak, and that Italian temper when things don’t go the way he wants.  He is strong-willed, loves to giggle and has a thing for blondes.  Despite the many limitations life has dealt him, Joey just seems happy to be here and maybe that’s an outlook on life we should all have.  

Hopefully this small peek into our world will silence those who continue to judge me regarding Joey’s care, while at the same time raise awareness about this horrible disease that will one day take my little boy from me.  But there are always going to be haters and there are always going to be those who think they could do it better or different.  If you are completely honest with yourself,  do you really know what you would do in a particular circumstance until  you have experienced it yourself?  And not just experienced it, lived it each and everyday, year after year?  No, you don’t.  I certainly wouldn’t have known what to do in this situation ten years ago, but now it has become my life – and I’m doing a damn good job of giving my little boy the best life possible while he’s here.  How easy it is for us to judge someone else on how they do something, assuming we know better when in fact, we haven’t a clue as to what they are going through.  Be careful my friends, because if and when you do this,  you are judging a person’s actions on what you think you might do in that situation – you are assuming.  When you actually have no idea what you would do because unlike them,  you are not living their life, you are not

Roseanna Borelli, August 2013

That’s me – very proud mama of two amazing kids, Gionna & Joey.

having to make decisions based on their available choices.  And while some parts of my life resemble that of an open book and people like to assume they know everything about me, I can promise their sweet asses they don’t know my entire story.    

Ah, but one day they will and the bookstores won’t know whether to place my book in the section marked suspense, comedy, horror or ‘OH MY GOD, NO SHE DIDN’T!

“Sometimes your light shines so bright that it blinds people from seeing who you really are.”  ~S. Alder

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Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more! ~Dr. Seuss

Each year about this time my little home office morphs into Santa’s Village South.  This transformation is now in its eighth year and has become a rather significant source of happiness for me. What exactly takes place in this make-shift Santa satellite operation?  Well, quite a bit of imagination, a few late nights, lots of letter writing and a constant feeling of the Christmas spirit.  See, I write letters to children from Santa Claus.  I started doing this years ago for just a few friends and family members as Christmas gifts and over time, it turned into a seasonal home business, albeit, a very small one.  But these aren’t your ‘run of the mill’ letters from Santa.  No, these are extremely personalized and rather long letters that leave a child wondering how its possible for Santa to know so much about them.  Add to that, the various antics and chaos caused by the elves and reindeer in each of my letters and I’m proud to say that my Santa Letters now have a sort of cult following.  I’ve actually had the privilege of writing letters to some children their entire life, beginning when they were maybe just one or two years old and now they are almost ten. I’ve watched them grow up through the online forms their parents complete each year when they order their letter.

Here’s the catch – I only accept the first 200 orders.  This allows me to make sure my letters remain very personalized and never rushed.  Since I’ve been writing to some of these children their entire lives, I have to be very careful that a story about a mischievous elf or a reindeer that likes to wander off and play practical jokes with Jack Frost is never repeated.  So, aLetters From Santa (Roseanna Borelli) copy of every letter I’ve ever written is kept in a file.  No two letters are the same, that alone gives me an edge over the other companies offering this type of service.  There is a family in Georgia that has four children and even though two of them no longer believe in the jolly man with the white beard, they still order a letter for all four of them.  I’ve been writing their letters for five years now. That’s twenty different story lines!  What I really enjoy is trying to connect their letters in some small way each year.  I might write to the youngest and tell her how sorry I am for not writing her letter sooner but Santa had to have a meeting with the Elfin Behavioral Modification Committee to discuss her brother’s refusal to clean his room.  Details like that really bring the magic of Christmas to a child – and to me as well.  I’m about to celebrate yet another birthday but when I begin to write these letters each year, I’m a child again with all the awe and wonder that the Christmas season can bring.

Ok, now here comes the shameless plug.  If you want to visit my website, learn more about ‘Letters From Santa’ or place an order, just visit:

 http://santaletters-us.webs.com/

I hope you’ll also stop by our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SicilianSanta

Letters From SantaI guess you could say that I really do love the Christmas season.  Not the shopping, not the way it has turned into a huge marketing opportunity and I will walk naked on hot coals while yodeling before I will step foot into a mall the day after Thanksgiving. What I love is the magic of the season.  I love how, even if it’s just for a few days, everyone seems a little kinder, a bit gentler.  I love the sounds and smells that fill my home.  I enjoy unwrapping the Christmas ornaments and recalling who gave them to me or how old my daughter was when she made the reindeer out of felt that now only has one eye and a nose that is about to fall off.  I love putting up my Angel tree that began when my little boy was in a coma during Christmas one year and people from all over the country, many I’ve never met, set him Angel ornaments.  

And I love writing letters to children from Santa, knowing that in some small way, I was able to be a part of their childhood Christmas memories.

Roseanna Borelli

“Christmas can be celebrated in the school room with pine trees, tinsel and reindeer, but there must be no mention of the man whose birthday is being celebrated. One wonders how a teacher would answer if a student asked why it was called Christmas.”   ~Ronald Reagan

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