Wednesday, September 17, 2014

If you want to sing out, sing out.

On my drive into New York City today I came across a public radio station that was playing a nearly perfect show for my sunny first trip of the hectic travel season which is now my life. I stayed tuned in initially because there was a weird Doors song on that I was unfamiliar with, but immediately recognized Morrison's sultry, insanely inviting voice. I am glad I stayed put on the dial (I am known for excessive scanning) and enjoyed for the next two hours a show about lead singers, vocalists that have made an impact on the two hosts lives in one way or another. It was, in a way, a "one up" show with two guys saying then playing who they believed to be the best vocalists of all time. Their choices were as different as I am sure ours (mine and yours) will be, but nonetheless they were all pretty spot on, in my book. I won't go into who they chose, but if I can ever find this broadcast online I will definitely share it. Rather, I will share my top five vocalists of all time and see if you agree. Please share yours if you feel so inclined. I am deeply in love with music and have been from a young age. My father instilled a great love of R&B and Motown in me early for which I am very grateful. I seem to be continually drawn to that soulful sound even in music today. So here are my five favorite vocalist in no particular order. Headphone up and enjoy.

1. Otis Redding.
I've Been Loving You Too Long


2. Jeff Buckley



Hallelujah

3. Aretha Franklin

Think

4. George Michael


They Won't Go When I Go

5. Joni Mitchell



OMG. There are so many more. But this is what strikes me now. Please add and comment. 
And just in case you need a little more...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

When somebody does something nice..

Here I sit on a patio, 8 floors up, overlooking one of the most beautiful bays I have ever seen, in Naples Florida. A few weeks back I was bundled in a peacoat slurping down dining hall soup at my job when I said out loud to the colleagues at my table, "I wish someone would just give me their place in Florida for a few days over spring break so I could warm up!" This was mostly said in jest, with a hopeful sense of wonder that someone in the world would and could actually do this for me. Within seconds my colleague said, "You can stay at my place." And there you have it, folks: a completely selfless offering of kindness that I cannot ever be grateful enough for. This colleague and I have just recently begun building a friendship, one of which I believe has the possibility of becoming lifelong, but not because of this offering. Well, sort of. I mean, anyone who would just willingly offer their home to a coworker is good stuff, but moreso because I know she is just an excellent person. Anyway, I assume she and I will be drinking wine here one day together, so I will leave the gushing for then.

I have always been in awe of general kindness, but the kind that allows another person to truly find joy when they need it most is just incredible to me. It is like, we, as a collective consciousness know when another person is in need. This is why, in a way, house swapping has become a thing, maybe. I believe in some way we all want to share the best part of our daily lives with others and this makes me incredibly joyful. Side note: if anyone is dying to stay in Southington, CT this summer for a week, let me know!

As for those who have offered this joy to me, I hope I can someday repay it. Thank you Kim and family, thank you Brian and family, and thank you Miss Charlotte and family for forever touching my life with selfless acts of kindness and hospitality. I am quite a lucky girl.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The baby blog

Well, I'm sure you all have been wondering where my new niece blog has been hiding and truth be told, I just have been so overwhelmed by joy with her arrival that I haven't thought twice about documenting it. But today, Ryan Lee Macellaro has been alive for one whole month and I couldn't think of a better day to celebrate this! Surely, my brother and his wife will marvel in this day and wonder how she could possibly be a month old already, while the rest of us are marveling in the first day of warm weather we have see in many frigid and dark months. I like to think of Ryan's birth as a reminder to us all that life can change, become more important, more meaningful, in an instant and we should treasure each and every moment and gift that the universe provides. We won't all have babies, we won't all marry, we won't all experience the obvious or stereotypical blessings that life provides, but we all experience them in some way or another and aren't we so lucky for that?

Ryan Lee was born while I was in Italy. A trip of a lifetime for me, but a bittersweet one at that. I imagined being there in the sterile waiting room when my only brother, my heart, welcomed new life into this world, a life he had a part in creating! I have never thought much about having kids, but always knew my brother would and the fact that I couldn't be there was heart wrenching. But, all went perfectly and Ryan Lee entered the world with bright eyes and a healthy cry. I loved her immediately, thousands of miles across the phone line, I was madly and completely in love.

Since, I have been able to see my niece regularly and that is incredible; but what is more incredible is the way my brother and Brittany have so naturally taken to parenthood. I was there the day my brother was born and I witnessed most of his growth through childhood and adolescence (yikes!) and finally to adulthood. I couldn't be prouder of him and know he will make the most incredible father. And Brittany, well she is just a natural.

Here's to baby Ryan!




Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Great Year and a Grateful Heart

Well, it is here. New Year's Eve day. I am off and excited to spend my day cleaning up the Christmas mess of tree needles and gift bags and cooking delicious food for tonight and tomorrow. My house will be back to normal and will smell great all day with beef stew in the slow cooker. I also plan to spend some time reflecting on what a wonderful year 2013 has been. And, in the tradition of so many this time of year, I have decided to do a top ten list, in no particular order, of my incredible blessings this year!

1. My husband.
I am so fortunate to have a partner who continues to love me unconditionally, make me laugh uncontrollably, and inspire me with his creativity and mind every day. He is a hard worker, a great dad to our furry daughter, and a wonderful friend to many people, including me. I am so grateful to have found the other half of my heart and look so forward to what this coming year holds for us as a couple.

2. My ridiculously awesome job.
There are days when I say to myself, "Wait, is this really my job?" And I am not bragging about it, I mean I am just so totally grateful for it. Also, my job is really hard and has very long hours and keeps me away from my family often so it is not perfect, but it is pretty close. I am grateful that I figured out a career that I love, and that I have landed in a place that I feel totally authentic. I have traveled all over the world for this job this year and have gained a global perspective that I have never had before. I have met children and their parents in their countries and in my office here in the States. I have heard stories that have broken my heart, made me incredibly joyful, and have made me feel so much closer to the world. Oh, and this little cutie will be joining my school next week all the way from Hong Kong!

3. A baby!
This year my brother and his wife announced that they are having the first Macellaro grandchild. She will be coming into this world right after the New Year in February and I cannot be more excited. She will be born into a family with more love than they know what to do with! I was just born to be an Aunt and cannot wait to meet this little girl!



4. The parents.
I am so thankful that my parents are doing well. That there have been no hospital stays, no health scares, nothing this year! My father, after his heart surgery and early "retirement" has jumped back into the work force part time since he was going stir crazy being home. He is not driving his big truck anymore, but he is still driving and seems happy about it. My mother and I continue to meet most Sunday mornings at the Goodwill for mother/daughter bargain hunting, a tradition I cherish. I live right down the street from my folks for the first time in my adult life and I am so grateful we are so close. I cannot wait to see them in their new role as grandparents this coming year, they are going to be incredible.
5. The Mother In Law.
I ask myself all the time how on earth I got such a wonderful MIL. I am so lucky and cannot be thankful enough for all that Bonnie has done for me over the years. When I lived far from my own mother Bonnie made me feel like her own, always caring for me, surprising me with thoughtful gifts, and treating me like part of her own family. I did not have the chance to see Bonnie this year, but have made a promise to myself that this summer we will see each other either in her town or mine. She is a wonderful person and I am so grateful for her this year and every year.


6. My Friends.
God, I am so blessed in this area. I have friends around the country and in my own town. They are spunky, unique, hilarious, creative, talented, beautiful, and honest. I have a friend I have known most of my adult life who I still consider my bestie. I have new friends from many different places that have quickly become important to me. I have friends I have met a work that have changed me forever. I am so lucky and I love them all.












7. This old dog.
Ella has been in my life since she was 6 months old. She will be 14 this year. It is hard for me to believe that she has been in my life for so long and it is really hard to imagine my life without her. She is healthy, albeit a bit slower these days. She sleeps more, but still eats like an puppy. She can't hop up into the car without some help, but still will bolt like a sprinter if she sees a squirrel on her territory. She is a good girl and has been a wonderful soft spot in my life. I am thankful for this pup every single day.

 

8. Local Music
I love music. I have always loved music. And now that I am back in my home state I am so incredibly grateful for and excited about what is happening in music here. It was a great year of local shows and festivals and I anxiously await the upcoming year with open ears! 
 


 

9. New family members. 
With a baby on the way I have been fortunate enough to get closer to our new family members. With a marriage and a baby many things change in a life and for a person from a small family I am grateful to have more folks to call my "own". I have no doubt in my mind that my brother's baby will be loved incredibly well. 
 

10. My health.
Well, I have made it through a year with not one major cold, injury, or ailment (knock on wood) to speak of. I even spent six hours in a very questionable emergency room with a colleague in China. This year, more exercise, more meditation, and cleaner eating are my goals to maintain this health streak! 




So, as we move into 2014, I hope that you all have many things to be grateful for this year. I have some friends who had difficult years, friends who have faced incredible loss, friends who have just begun new and exciting professional journeys, and friends who have welcomed new people to their families. My sincere wish for each of the people in my life all is a year ahead of love, laughter, and light. 

Happy New Year!







Tuesday, December 24, 2013

That Old Christmas Feeling

What is it about this season that makes us feel closer to one another? Understandably Christmas is about Jesus and those who are practicing Christians revel in the miracle of the birth of a savior, but there is also , Hanukkah another miracle, the Festival of Lights, and Kwanzaa, a time where folks celebrate their heritage, culminating in gift giving. It is all pretty much the same to me, a time of goodwill, a time to let the idiot who cut you off in traffic get away without even a wagging of a finger, the time when you buy the person behind you a coffee at Dunkin Donuts, the time just the sight of a kid in a Santa hat brings immense joy to your heart.  So, for these reasons, and many more, I just adore this time of year.

Today I hand delivered gifts to people who positively affect my life regularly. I stuffed homemade cookies in the mailbox of my landlord in gratitude for allowing me to live in such a beautiful home. I dropped off candy at my Dunkin Donuts, where I stop nearly every day of the work week and where the folks there not only know my order, but also my name. I swung by my wine shop and dropped off another bag of treats, because, well not only does Mr. Patel and his wife supply my favorite beverage, but they talk to me about really good things every time I stop in. On my last stop I dropped some gifts for the beautiful kids downstairs I call my neighbors, and cookies for their incredible parents.

I don't know about you,  but there are places I go and people I see everyday that make my life better. If I had the money and time I would pop a bag of cookies in every one of these people's boxes and they all deserve it, I promise you this. People always say I am a positive person, but I draw this positivity from a wide pool of others who give it to me freely. And I am incredibly grateful for this.

So, tomorrow is the big day. I remember so vividly Christmas morning with my brother, Nick. And even into our 20s before we had lives of our own to really speak of, we would wait until mom and dad said it was ok. First came the stockings, stuffed to the brim by my mother with every candy, knick knack and underwear product you could ever desire.  Then, we would tear through gifts voraciously, while our parents got another cup of coffee. There was always a hidden gift, something my dad had purchased, the Big One. It was awesome.

As we approach the first year with a baby in the family (next Christmas, watch out!!!) I almost cannot contain my excitement. My niece, my princess, my blood. She will have everything I can give, but most importantly she will have my love.

If I learned anything from my parents after all these years (which they may argue I haven't) is that family is the most important thing. They showed it everyday of my life, and I hope I do as well. I am so grateful for all that I have on this Christmas and everyday and it is all thanks to them.

So, though this blog is all over the place because this season makes me this way, filled to the brim with things I want to say to everyone who has ever been nice to me, I hope that one thing is clear: treat the ones who make your life better like gold. Family, friends, your dry cleaner, whoever. Isn't that what this season, nay, this life, is about  anyway?

Merry Christmas y'all!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Girl Named Ella


Just like on most days when I get to spend several hours with my dog I feel blessed to have had her in my life for so long. She is a good girl. A loyal pet. My best friend. And as aloof as her breed is know for being, I never doubt that she adores me. Almost 14 years ago I met this baby girl at a shelter in Tucson, AZ. She had been abandoned out in the desert heat and needed a home. My boyfriend and I took one look at her and 24 hours later we were driving Ella, cone-headed to her new home. I would like to say I remember those days clearly. What it was like when she was a pup. But really, I don't. It was a long time ago and Mark and I were juggling work and school and a relationship so things just seem now to blur. When Mark and I split I kept both the dog and our cat, Mingus.  Ella, Mingus, and I set out to navigate a new life in Tucson on our own. It was hard, I was scared, but through it all Ella was my girl, my friend, my soft spot in a difficult time. Mingus, well Mingus was a cat! and I loved her, but she never got me the way my girl did. I will note, that Mingus is still alive and living with a family in Phoenix. She just couldn't bear the five day drive across country when I finally left my desert home.

So, Ella has been through just about everything with me. A breakup, a number of awkward dates that usually ended at my front door with her eyes glaring at my new suitor. And the immediate love she seemed to have for the man that would become Daddy #2, a name that my husband and I lovingly joke about. The first night Ella met Chris she curled right up with him on the couch, barely raised and eyebrow when he kissed her mother, and spent just about every night of our courtship at our feet in the kitchen, the living room, the yard. Ella was pleased with my choice, but always kept me sight.

She went through an illness with me that brought my mother across the country to nurse me back to health and almost instinctively she new that Sue was good people. She loved my mother immediately. And my father later on, just as immediately. Then my brother, and so on. Some how Ella could tell who I loved and loved them too.

When the time came Ella, my best friend Adrienne, and I made the drive cross-country to our home and new life in Connecticut. Chris soon followed. Then Baltimore, then back to Connecticut, and finally settled in a place very far from where we first met. Through it all Ella has been the same. She is resilient, mellow, and a bit of a loner. She doesn't cuddle, she isn't a lap dog or a kisser, but when she loves you, well, you just know.

It has been a long 14 years of adventure and changes, but one constant has always remained, my Ella girl has always been by my side.

I have not thought much on Ella's passing when that day comes, but I do know that it will be one of the most awful days of my life. It is almost as difficult as imagining a family members death because really isn't she just that? For now she is healthy and happy and that is all I can hope for. She is slower, has a harder time hopping up into the car, and wakes us up at night to go out, but aside from these small things, she is still the same girl who I am blessed everyday to have in my life.

Happy 14th Ella! Here's to many more!

The early days with Ella. We all look so young! Tucson, AZ 2001








Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thoughts on confidence

I have long been interested in research on girls education, social development, and how on earth we make sure our young women are growing up to be confident, self-assured, and independent citizens of a very difficult culture based largely on materialism and looks. On my last long flight I watched Gatsby and though I have always loved this book and really thought the movie was excellent, I was astonished by just how much the women in the story give up their amazing and inherently wonderful selves for the love of the wrong man or the acceptance of social circles. I understand that this story is about a time long ago and that most of us never even brush with the kind of wealth and excess in the pages of this novel, but I believe much of this behavior still exists in women today. It is troubling to me that being confident, outspoken, happy with one's self as an individual is a revered trait in men and an often a trait that causes women to become isolated, envied with disdain, or in the case of our girls, bullied. It is not uncommon for a confident woman to feel pressured to "tone it down" just to gain the acceptance of her peers and the affection of boys. This phenomenon is killing the spark in so many of our most amazing young women and it needs to end.

I was raised in a house where confidence was built early and often. It was a humble confidence that I learned from great parents and a trait that I have always appreciated. I was not the smartest, prettiest, or most popular person in my school and I am not in my adult life either, but I have an honest appreciation of my self-worth to this day because of my parents.

As an adolescent there were girls who did not like me. In my adult life there are women who don't. Professionally I have been successful, but I am not a doctor or a lawyer. Still my happiness in my career, in the life I have chosen makes me feel good just about everyday. I smile a lot, I say hello to strangers, and I feel comfortable walking into just about any circumstance. And I mention only women above because I have never felt truly judged by men for being a happy person. Why is this?
Because men just don't care? Because men have always been able to be happy about their lives, successes, accomplishments without judgement? I am sure their are folks the men in my life envy because of looks or career or a more attractive partner, but do they really spend hours having any kind of feeling around this? I truly don't think so.

I guess what I hope for is a time in this country (world?) that women, young and old celebrate each other's successes, praise each other openly, and genuinely feel happy that we no longer (sometimes) live in a culture where our worth is determined by our husband, our legacy, our money, or our looks.