Tag Archives: love

The Gifter

I’ve never considered myself any good at giving gifts. The scale for good to bad when it comes to it should probably go Leslie Knope to Me, respectively. For example, my brother always outdid me at Christmas by getting my some article of clothing that I would wear until it was threadbare.

Me, on the other hand, couldn’t think of a thing to get anyone. “Do I even know this person?” I’d ask myself as I wondered through the halls of a mall looking through shop windows in vain.

You can imagine this has gotten me into some trouble on Valentines Day, as well…

The thing is, I love Christmas. As it fast approaches I’m reminded of the feeling I get every year. I love Christmas. I love the snow. I love the cold. I love the smell of winter. I don’t know how to describe the smell, but it lifts such an emotional reaction from within me.

What gift I am capable of gathering up for my loved one, I love giving away. Mostly though, I love what it brings out in people. I guess you’d call it “The Christmas Spirit.” This sort of drive that arises within us to give to those we love, even if it is just in material possessions. Maybe that’s what the smell of winter stirs within me.

So, since it snowed the other day and the holiday commercials are in full swing, I’ve succumbed to the smell. I’ve got it: the Christmas Spirit. So how do I stop my incessant inability to get good gifts?


There’s a trick I learned from my job as a content marketer to simple ask your audience what they’d like to hear from you, what problems they might be facing and the like. So that’s what I did.

Seems pretty simple, but believe me, when you’re this bad at giving gifts, even the most obvious things pass right over your head. It also helps exponentially that I’m out of college and have a paying job.

So, this newfound ability to buy gifts hasn’t had the greatest impact on my day-to-day life, as you may think. On the contrary, there have been a few weird circumstances I’ve found myself in.

For instance, I asked my step-mom what she wanted. She sent me a plethora of amazon links leading to Barbie dolls. This, you may think, is a bit strange of a request, but hey, I love her and she’s a great seamstress. She makes beautiful dresses for them.

I, on the other hand, have been left with Amazon suggestions akin to a ten-year-old girl’s.

In another instance, my girlfriend and I went up to Boston one day. While we were up there, we stumbled upon a beautiful store filled with handcrafted trinkets. My girlfriend is a sucker for these things. We had to catch a train, unfortunately, so she made me promise to go back up there to get her and her grandmother something.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I love driving and Barbies, I’m sure, are making a huge come back.

Experiencing these two gift-buying opportunities have opened my eyes to gift buying. It’s remarkable to me how simply asking people what they want has actually made me better at guessing gifts for other people.

The other day I went on a buying rampage. Buying gifts for everyone I hadn’t already had gifts for: gifts I knew they’d like.

Problem solved.


Chris Largent is currently employed as a Content Marketing Specialist for HMI Performance Incentives, Chris writes copy for various clients in the form of email and print marketing. While employed as an intern at Hudson Valley Public Relations, Chris helped to write blog articles about an assortment of relevant ideas in the Public Relation, Marketing and Advertisement industries. These blogs are all about stimulate business health and growth. In his time at Hudson Valley Public Realtions, Chris wrote an assortment of content for the firm’s clients, ranging from law to finance. He also worked on projects within HVPR to help promote events and articles through social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. In his free time, Chris likes to write, read and hike.

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5 Critical Reasons You Struggle To Feel Loved, Appreciated and Respected In Life and Work

Today’s my birthday, and traditionally, I’ve loved this day – June 2nd. I have very happy memories going way back, of celebrating this day with dear friends and family. One of my fondest memories is of a wonderful party for my 18th birthday given by my dear friend Nan in her garage (because the outdoor party was rained out). I felt treasured and very happy on that day, even with the heavy downpours and dampened festivities, because I felt the true love of my friends.

It’s wonderful to experience deeply the love and appreciation from others, and to receive and hear messages that people reserve only for special occasions like birthdays.

But I’ve found too that sometimes, soaking in these loving messages — really taking them in, down to my toes – can be challenging for me, and many others have shared that they have this challenge too.

Why is it hard to truly embrace and accept (and be healed by) an outpouring of love, appreciation and gratitude from others?

I believe there are 5 key reasons we keep ourselves from truly feeling love, respect and appreciation – why we block ourselves from letting it in, and healing from it.


Here are the top five reasons we stop ourselves from soaking in love and appreciation:

#1: We have grown distrustful of what people say to us, especially if it’s kind.

Even when friends, colleagues and family share beautiful sentiments about us, many of us have grown distrusting and skeptical of what people say, and find it hard to believe people are being truthful when they’re being highly complimentary.  Sadly, we wonder, “Why are they being so nice – what’s in it for them?”

#2: We keep ourselves too busy and distracted in life, that we fail to give ourselves the breathing room to inhale all the love.

Being over-the-top busy every minute of every day is a true disease today in our society that affects millions of people. We run round and round like hamsters on a wheel, only to come to the end of each day with no time for real rest, or to contemplate our blessings, and acknowledge what we’re grateful for. This pertains to love as well – many of us are stingy with ourselves, our time and our ability to take in love.

#3: We don’t feel worthy of this love, deep down, or comfortable “holding” it, so we deflect it.

So many folks I work with and know have been trained NOT to love themselves. Their parents or authority figures encouraged them to be blind to (and neglectful of) their own magnificence, beauty and amazingness. If we don’t believe in our own extraordinary qualities, then external words of love and praise simply don’t get through.

#4. Some of the hurts we’ve experienced from the past can be like bottomless pits that won’t be filled, even when love is pouring in.

In conducting therapy and coaching with thousands of people over 11 years, I’ve seen firsthand (and lived it) that some of the hurts we have remain open – like deep, unprotected wounds that won’t heal. These wounds are like bottomless pits – love and kindness may pour in, but the wounds don’t close and don’t fill in until we take proactive measures to heal them.

#5: We’re so used to love that’s “conditional” – meaning, that we’ve learned we have to bend ourselves in half and do back flips in order to earn “love” from others –  that we don’t know what to do with beautiful, unconditional love that comes our way.

Most of us have been trained that, in order to be loved, we have to be pleasing – we have to do what others want us to do, and avoid getting in the way, and making “trouble.” But real love doesn’t depend on our pleasing others. Real love is unconditional, and we’re not used to how that feels.

Today, I’m committed to soaking in all the love I’m receiving. And I’m determined to hold and savor this love and appreciation every day of my life. Not just my birthday.

**Kathy Caprino, M.A., is an internationally-recognized women’s career success and work-life expert, leadership consultant, speaker, and trainer dedicated to the advancement of women in business.  A featured contributor on women’s careers, business and leadership for Forbes, Huffington Post, and LinkedIn, she is also the author of Breakdown, Breakthrough: The Professional Woman’s Guide to Claiming a Life of Passion, Power, and Purpose.  A champion for working women, Kathy is a former corporate Vice President, a trained psychotherapist, specialized career and executive coach, and sought-after writer and speaker on women’s issues.  She is the Founder and President of Ellia Communications, Inc. and The Amazing Career Project, supporting women to build successful, rewarding careers of significance.

Read the original published article here!


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How To Be Transgender

How to be Transgender

Disclaimer: this title is clearly a joke. Only you know how to live your life. This article is here to give anyone who might be struggling with their gender identity, or anyone who would like to support a trans* person, a few small pieces of “advice.” These “pointers” come from my real-life experiences as a transgender man who has learned to embrace this often misunderstood and stigmatized identity.

1. Have a solid web presence.

As you contemplate what your next steps will be along this journey you will feel so, so very alone, but trust me you are not. It just takes a little while to find your wolf pack. Throughout my transition I have spoken to trans people from all across the world. From Australia to Germany to South America to Ohio. These people have given me immeasurable strength even though I have, and probably will, never meet them. We live in an era where virtual connections can be just as life saving as tangible ones. Utilize this to the fullest. Research everything.


2. Get a therapist who has experience with trans patients.

Obviously this is not attainable for some simply because of financial issues, family issues etc., etc. However, if it is possible for you, I strongly recommend you see a therapist who has seen other trans patients before. Obviously being trans isn’t a disorder, but unfortunately the way our ass backwards society is set up, changing your gender marker on things requires a “signing off” from a therapist. Now, I get it, this is complete and utter bullshit. You are who you claim yourself to be. However, bureaucracy doesn’t see it that way, so if for no other reason, find a therapist (even if it’s through your school) who can help you with the paperwork end of things and they might even help you out with some other stuff along the way.

3. Join Instagram.

From we_are_trans to transcommunity to transandinked, there is such a vibrant trans community on Instagram. I’ve met some of my best friends on Instagram simply by commenting on their transition related pictures and talking to them on social media sites because of it. You never know how close someone may live to you. So if you see a cool trans person on the gram and think you two might hit it off, message them! Lots of trans people use pages like we_are_trans and transandinked as a way to meet people in the community. Use these pages to reach out to people and find your crew. Even if it’s a simple question, I’ve met tons of trans people who are willing to help and answer my questions, either through direct message or through Kik or whatever else you have access to. Also, there are some babes on there 😉

4. Realize that you will lose people when you transition.

….BUT you’ll keep and meet the best ones. I used to see transitioning as a life- long curse. I lost all my friends from high school because of my transition. But now I see transitioning as a real-life water filter. Let me explain, just as a water filter gets rid of all the junk that you don’t need in your water, transitioning serves kind of as a tool to figuring out who genuinely loves you for you are and who sees your happiness as paramount to all else. Transitioning is also an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for the people in your life to reclaim their love for you. Be grateful and show gratitude to those who support and love you. Without the supportive people I have in my life I don’t think I would be alive today. Try to get past your pain for even just a minute and say thank you. Thank you for loving me whole-heartedly. Thank you for going through this with me. Thank you for understanding. I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to have an aunt or cousin simply use the correct pronoun and during that one little utterance of a word a magnitude of support, love and understanding is echoed. The people who are beneficial to your self-discovery and growth will stay and the people that are impeding you from living authentically will disappear, just like the bacteria in a filtered glass of fresh water. So basically, being trans really is a life-long filter rather than a curse.

5. Wallow in self-pity for a while and then use that anger to change some shit.

I know when I first came to terms with being trans I kind of just stayed on house arrest. I got anxious leaving my room because I knew what I would encounter – an onslaught of invalidating comments coupled by feelings of inadequacy. I was called the wrong name in class. I was misgendered constantly. I was nervous to use the bathroom. I was so sad about so many things. I realized if I wanted to start T (testosterone) I would have to self-inject for the rest of my life. I would have to get acceptance from my family. I would have to endure the awkwardness of family interactions. I would have to get my name legally changed on everything. I was overwhelmed. I found solace in self-pity. Why me? Why couldn’t I just be born cis? No one will ever love me. No one will ever understand me. I will never have friends again. But I was so so wrong. I wallowed for a while and then little by little I started to realize that if I wanted to live in a less shitty world it was MY job to make it less shitty, no one else’s. If you want to be treated better, demand it. When someone misgenders you, correct them. When the law clerk at the courthouse says Miss instead of Mr. or Mr. instead of Miss tell them why that’s so offensive. When your school refuses to change your legal name on university documents go to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and draft a preferred name bill for your university. When members of the LGB community shun you or make ignorant comments remind them that we are part of their community as well. Complacency is not an option for the trans community; there is far too much work to be done. Anger and self-pity can turn into a world of change and productivity if you just…get outta the bedroom.


6. Gender norms are silly, don’t be something you’re not.

Transitioning is about living your truth and if your truth is a being a beardly man who dances around their bedroom to ‘Say My Name’ by Destiny’s Child then ownnnnn that shit. Be yourself. Isn’t that what transitioning is about anyways? I was once told before I started T that I was “too feminine” to be a man. Maybe so, I do dance around to Destiny’s Child on Pandora but I am manly enough because I am a man and I say so….and gender norms are foolish as all hell. They are meant to be broken. So have fun with your gender and don’t take yourself too seriously. You’re not transitioning to cis, you’re transitioning to your truth.

7. Being trans is awkward. Find humor in it.

Unfortunately, we live in a society where documents dictate our life, from driver’s licenses to credit cards to insurance cards. You’ll walk into your dentist’s office one day for the first time in a year and your dentist will call out your old name and you’ll walk up and their mouth will slowly drop in front of your eyes. This will happen. Maybe not this exact scenario but something like this will. Laugh. You will call your credit card company to have them change your name and they will ask you to verify your address 10 times because they cannot believe that voice is coming from that name. Laugh. Gender is awkward and silly for everyone; we’re just the lucky ones astute enough to realize it.

8. Grow a thick(er) skin.

I think that identifying as trans already means you’re pretty badass and you have a thick skin. I mean you’re going against culture, bureaucracy, family, friends, government, everyone, just to be who you are. But let’s face it, even though we are badass we all just wanna sit down for a meal without being misgendered, but unfortunately, “politeness” in our culture typically entails people using gendered terms. For cis people this may be all good and swell but for many trans folks this can make that delicious slice of pizza that you just gulped down utterly tasteless. I’ve been there. I’ve felt that. I’ve contemplated flipping a table or two. I wouldn’t hold it against you if you did but I will say that being misgendered is a part of being trans. You have to internalize the belief that you are who you know yourself to be and no matter what anyone tells you, you know yourself better than anyone else does. And if that doesn’t work, just cry, until you can’t anymore. It’s okay. One day it might just get a whole lot better.

Twitter @jamiedinicola
Instagram @jamiedinicola
Youtube: Trans*Reel


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A great work of art is like a dream…

According to Carl Jung, there are hardly any exceptions to the rule that a person must pay dearly for the divine gift of the creative fire.

My Sacred Text

I recently had a falling out with my better half. It happened right before my eyes, I let him crash at my place, without sorting out my desk. As usual, my desk was filled with Post-Its, paints, brushes, notebooks, spreadsheets, books, dictionaries and poster boards. However tucked in between the stacks of paper, the computer, and the notes, in a small space I’d hidden my diary. When we are young, a diary serves a purpose, a place to write down anything. I remember being young and having a diary with a lock and key, and one day I came home to my mom reading the pages out loud with one hand, with a belt in the other. Nothing happened out of it, but she knew some of my dirtiest thoughts. Well, I guess I didn’t learn the first time around because as I handed my so called confidant the spare key, I also handed him my complete trust. Trusting he could understand that my diary was not just a place for dirty thoughts; my diary serves as my therapist, my fantasies, and part memoir. The last thing I was thinking of as I celebrated Easter with some of the local kids, was of that journal with the Eiffel tower on the cover. I got a text message mid-barbeque that said “I know everything” coupled with “you’re a liar” and “a fake”.

I immediately felt a lump in my throat, not because he read about my secret lovers, or desires, or my alter ego mixed with my own neurosis. No I immediately felt betrayed, and disappointed. It’s not that I felt my safety was endangered, my psyche immediately began to focus on one passage. The one that surpasses any of my dream’s anecdotes, my magical or fantastical stories. The passages about unrequited love. The part of my diary that contained my painful truth. That I was in love with someone who did not feel the same. The part of me that was separate from my now ‘ex’ partner. I let the more mature version of myself respond with tact, and I expressed how disrespected I felt. But once it was all said and done, and I had my keys in my hand, I realized I lost one of my best friends. I looked back at the passages, and began to paint a picture. That picture was not a pretty one. It was the picture of an unhealthy obsession I developed with a young man from a small town.

When I moved from New York City to upstate New York, I felt as though I was in a perpetual loop of culture shock. So as I wanted to point the finger at my friend for reading my diary, he actually did me a favor. It was only after he read my journal that I realized how unhealthy my romantic interests really were. I became aware through my diary, that my mind was trapped by a particular thought loop. Trapped is the only way to describe it, as I tried to mask it under colorful language and different names. I was only telling myself my own non-fiction was fiction. Sadly, it was not a figment of my imagination, I was experiencing an unrequited love. They say true friends always come around, well if they do I’d tell my friend they shoved me on the finish line to recovery. In the days and weeks that passed, I refused to believe the pages were full of facts. I refused to accept that my friend knew anything about it, him, them, anything. But what helped me was the ability to take comfort in knowing that, as I read the pages, I am in pain.

A Bit of Organization Goes a Long Way

It’s a feeling of growing comfort, because I am learning from it. I also had to forgive myself for hurting my friend. I had to forgive them (mom included) for reading my journals, because through the experience I learned that I can be more honest with myself and others. In the end, it’s my logical assessment of the situation that matters, not my immediate reaction. It also hit me, that my so-called obsession is not someone I would even want to be with. It was the want of having something I could not have. We all have a little bit of that in us. As my friend was given the trust to stay in my palace, he was looking for answers. As I was weaving fact and fiction, I was seeking truth as well. As a creative person, it is almost my duty to create a worthy future, to not be seduced by the movie version and to create the scenes myself.

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Nannie Lou: Matriarch, Adventurer, Woman.

Yaiyai 1940sMy Yiayia (Grandmother in Greek) was a phenomenal woman with the personality of a firecracker and a simplistic approach to problem solving, reflective of her old Southern rearing.  Nannie Lou (center) was born in the latter 19-teens during the height of the Jim Crow black spot on contemporary history.  A family of farmers, the Satterwhites were literally a southern dynasty of military men and strong women dating back all the way to the 1650s; I didn’t truly understand how this made my Yiayia the woman she was, but I knew that it played a significant role in her migration north.

Welcomed by family members who had moved to Harlem years before, she left Silver Street (which is about the length of five long avenues), South Carolina for better opportunities and personal freedoms Black women could claim and own in New York City.  It was the start of World War II and they needed women in the country to aid the war effort, so she signed up at one of the factories and began building munitions for the troops abroad.  Until recently this is all I had known about my Yiayia before she’d gotten married and started expanding her family.

One of my first memories (besides my sisters birth) is when my mother definitively made clear her name was not in fact mom; the high pitched inflection of outright frustration and exhaustion from two little human beings pulling on her all day contributed highly to her voice-crackling reaction of identification.  From that moment on I knew for a fact that my mother’s name was not mom, but even as an adult it didn’t strike me that Yiayia was a woman before she was a mother, before she was a grandmother, and certainly before she was a great-grandmother.

Ever since she passed in August I’d been searching dramatically to reclaim her soul in this living world; a minor case of denial that ultimately led me on a personal quest to discover who this woman was.  Yiayia had lived and I wanted to know how far she’d come before her timely end at the age of 98, so I started in her birthplace: Silver Street, South Carolina.  A tiny rural town in the South Carolina Midlands, leading to the North Carolina Highlands, whose town-center is literally a half hour to forty-five minute drive; this was the country.

The tingling on the back of your biceps, as if a cat has grazed your arm, the eerily still trees in the distance that seem to watch you, and the slight lightheaded nausea that consumes your lungs when you’re staring at old photos of long-gone ancestors; this is how you know you are back from whence your bloodline came.  It was as if I was being watched by all of my ancestors and they knew the blood pumping through my veins was theirs as well.  There is something truly mystifying about being in the middle of dense forest as a city girl, enveloped by nature and literally walking on the same ground that your ancestors called home.

Yiayia’s strength was born in segregated snake country where few education opportunities beyond primary school existed, even as a light skinned woman with red hair, it was a dangerous place to be.  Yiayia was not an educated woman but she was intelligent and able bodied; and now understood are her tears when I shaved my sister’s head.  I truly love Silver Street and the isolation from the rest of the world, it is also a different place now, but still one where it is safe for no one (regardless of ethnicity or sex/gender) to go walking down the road.

Moving north in order to provide for her family and herself, Yiayia craved more opportunities than farm work and opting out of having to sleep with a shotgun behind the front door.  Her and my Aunt Maudie took the town by storm too, enjoying life and having new experiences that had previously not been accessible.  WWII really was a revolutionary time for women, particularly in the United States, but the backlash to women’s empowerment and employment came after the return of the veterans.  Women left the factories and shops, returning home and allowing the men to reclaim their ‘place’ in the workplace: the precursor to repressive 1950s rhetoric and Cold War hysteria.

My Yiayia being the enigmatic spirit she was found many suitors on her heels and wound up in not a happy marriage, but a marriage that contained happiness.  Propaganda for the white picket fence lifestyle reigned supreme, a symptom of not only communist fear but an attempt at recapturing a time reminiscent of pre-war sustainability.  Not wanting to return to the domesticated existence she fled in the south, they decided to remain in New York City; moving to one of the many housing developments that were originally built for WWII veterans and later converted to housing projects, in the Eastchester section of The Bronx.

A delightful suburb of urban flair, the entire neighborhood was a thriving community of Italians, Jews, and African-Americans all recovering from the effects of WWII.  The wives shared recipes, husbands worked government jobs, and the children played together.  It was a Cold War poster board that had manifested in real life and despite its benefits, it came along with its negatives: restlessness, alcoholism, and eventually abuse.  This was a time when PTSD was not discussed and the post-war methodology unfortunately trapped a lot of women in the virtual schemas they’d been released from for six years.

My Yiayia was one of those women but she loved her children fiercely and loved her husband as well; it was that love which pushed through trying periods of emotional duress and strengthened her self-reliance.  In the search to discover the woman behind grandma, I found an embedded resilience and determination for life and survival; she was an amazing woman with the golden touch.  Her summer houseplants bloomed in the winter and she even had a five inch goldfish that lived a decade (true story…Turquoise is infamously known in my family).  She raised well-read, beautiful daughters and provided a safe and loving environment even for those who were not her children.

In a journey that literally took me to the bowels of South Carolinian midlands, dust-filled library archives, and late night wine-fueled reminiscing with my aunts I was able to find out how truly amazing Nannie Lou was.

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Children Should Be Seen, Not Heard

AlexandriaCMother was religious. As a child she, herself, would be sent every Sunday along with her younger brother and elder sister to church. Unfortunately, over time we moved around too much, so dedicating our Sunday to a congregation, in addition to God, was a bit much. My faith was as strong as the voices of the choir.


In reference to me, it left a young girl with only her mother to look to, although the world seemed to rely on her as well. I became selfish, wanting her attention and her conversation as I had seen on Disney channel shows or more directly, the Cosby Show. This was what I wanted more than anything.

During my teenage years I frequently I voiced my opinions, although they were blocked out as if I were still a toddler mumbling fragments of words. I obtained responses on the lines of, “Get out of my face, I don’t have to be your friend–I’m your mother.”

The constant drilling of this concept influenced my very disruptive rebellion. If it was not punishment enough that I had no family outside of my mother and the families of her childhood friends, I somehow felt that I couldn’t fully claim her either. You can say I followed my mother’s lead and adopted my own external family through friends, teachers, and mentors.

She didn’t like that either.

Realizing that I had finally released my grasp of normality, she clinched her role of seennotheard-2authority. In finding my own views of the world I was no longer obedient to the commands my mother barked at me. I questioned her, asking for explanations, but would only receive a “because I said so.” This was the root of my frustration. Is it better to discipline without acknowledging the reason?

I absolutely did not think it was fair, but somehow I had forgotten where that had developed. I had forgotten that we did not have the same opportunities to challenge and question the world that surrounded us. I had forgotten she had grown up in a worse environment than the one I was unsatisfied with. It was from the tradition of “children should be seen not heard,” that I was rooted.

It took me a while to understand the relationships that my mom nurtured and the truth behind her cloak. Throughout the duration of my adolescence, I wanted her to be someone else, but she was damaged the entire time. She hid behind fear and disciplined hard because I was her constant variable. Her universe was unbalanced and shaken up easily, but I would always be her child.

I learned to love my mother’s imperfections and admire her strength. Although her words were harsh, I now understand the “method to her madness.” She would always say, “Sometimes, there is insight behind an insult.”

I am forever wise.

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Displaced and Confused: Growing Up Feeling Like an Outsider

I didn’t know I was different right at first. It wasn’t until I moved from Florida to Chicago, from Chicago to Detroit that I started to realize I wasn’t like other children my age.

My difference wasn’t incredibly significant, on the surface you probably wouldn’t have noticed it, but as the other children spoke of their families that had lived in the same area of suburban Michigan for decades, as they spoke about Irish or Polish pride, showing me traditions I had never heard of or been a part of, I started to realize the truth: I didn’t fit in.

For one I was Hispanic in an area that was predominately black and white—but even then, I was only half Hispanic. If there had been a Mexican community near us, I’m sure I wouldn’t have felt like I belonged there either. My mother had never taught me Spanish; she’d never raised me to feel that close to my heritage. My biggest claim to being Hispanic was going to visit extended family in Texas and eating authentic Mexican food my aunts and uncles would make.

My father’s heritage was always a bit of a mystery to me growing up—I didn’t even learn his people came from Appalachian, Scotch-Irish territory until I was in college. Though I had been told as a little girl that my great-great grandmother was the daughter of a Cherokee chief, sold to an Irish man (who turned out to be a Scotsman—my father didn’t even know his own history).

So this left me with no real cultural identity. I was part Mexican, though I barely understood what it even meant to be Mexican. I was part “hillbilly” as my dad used to say—a vague term for a family ancestry he was uncomfortable discussing or just uninterested in. I was growing up in a place where I had no extended family, no grandparents (my one surviving grandmother lived in Texas until she passed away in 2006) and no siblings. I was a stranger to the ways of the Midwest. I was a stranger to the ways of the suburban Detroit middle-class. I simply didn’t fit in.

As I grew, I craved some sort of community. A part of me craved a large family, a culture that I could be a part of, but I felt like I had none. In stead I searched out social communities. I jumped on a variety of bandwagons, went through many phases and different identities, always looking for like minded people, people I could call my own, people I could say “really got me”, who were like me, who understood. But nothing seemed to fit. I continued to be the odd one out—a bit of a black sheep.

Finally I ended up in New York City and a new kind of cultural displacement fell upon me. I had moved into an area that was very big on race and culture, and a bit exclusive. In Crown Heights I live right in the middle of a large Hasidic community and a large Caribbean and Jamaican community—though both are made up of very kind, hard working people, there was no place for me in either. It was very clear I was still the outsider. Around the time of this relocation, I also started getting interested in Korean culture, even deciding to start learning the written and spoken language. But what did this all mean? In the end, I found it confused me more than ever. Who am I in this big world? Where exactly do I fit? Will I ever find a community, a “family” where I can belong?

I had a brief period of feeling plugged in, feeling like I was a part of something bigger than myself, part of a true community. In college I was a part of a large group of artists, filmmakers, writers, and musicians and for the first time in my life I had thrived, no longer the lone black sheep but one of many black sheep. Together we were different, and therefore we were the same.

But all good things come to an end. I parted ways with my group of artist friends and we all scattered to the four winds.

Now, living in my interesting, diverse neighborhood I am sans community once more. Not that I don’t have friends—I have many and I love them all dearly; they are my family more than anyone (except for my mother who I still speak with daily). But there is still no sense of belonging, no cultural identity like I always craved as a young child growing up. It’s certainly not the worst thing in the world, but it is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

Maybe the answer is to start my own community, one that will welcome all those who are displaced, confused, and feel like outsiders. A new culture for those without a culture. Who wants to join me?

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Am I Destined to Become My Mother?

Like many daughters, I have felt the familiar anxiety that I am destined to become my mother when I hear my mother’s unique brand of criticism, that I so hated hearing when I was a girl, come out of my mouth. As a teenager, I vowed that I wouldn’t be like her. I didn’t want to inherit her way of finding fault or being critical of other people. So, in those moments when I hear her words come out of my mouth, I worry that I am powerless against my destiny to become my mother…

Read the full article on Huff Post Women HERE

Rosjke Hasseldine is a pre-eminent mother-daughter relationship specialist, international workshop presenter, and writer. Rosjke has developed a way of mapping a woman’s mother-daughter history that connects women to their female roots, changes inherited patterns, and understands what it means to be female.

In this blog post she writes about how the answer to ‘Am I Destined to Become My Mother?’ is both yes and no. She explains how daughters unconsciously inherit their mother’s traits and beliefs, and how daughters can avoid inheriting the disempowered parts of their mother with love and understanding.

Learn more about Rosjke’s work at www.motherdaughtercoach.com

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Mom Hits the Bar

I headed down to Florida for a recent holiday and decided to extend my stay so mom and I could spend more time together.

When mom and I are together we slip into our routine banter. Sometimes it does get loud between us and not all the words shared fall into the touchy, feely category. Let’s just say, we don’t keep anything in. When they made mom they completely forgot to put in a censor, but they did put in a quick-wit which was apparently programmed to be unleashed later in her life. As the journalist from Psychology Today said, mom is a “geriatric shock jock.” I could not have said it better. Mom is a party girl, always has been. I remember in my childhood my parents coming home from an affair, mom tipsy and spending quite a bit of time in the bathroom barfing and whatever else you do when you are drunk and sick to your stomach. It wasn’t uncommon for mom to climb on a table at a wedding and start dancing. Dad always said he married a wild woman. Unfortunately, as I recall dad was not amused by my mom’s behavior at these public events. He was pretty pissed off and always wanted to leave. Mom was in no rush.

Standing on a table and dancing with a little booze in her system continues until today. When mom turned 90 we made a party for her in a respectable restaurant on Long Island. Wearing a bright pink boa, mom managed to find her way to the bar and climbed up. She stood on the bar dancing and waving her boa in one hand and her drink in the other. If you don’t believe me, we have video to prove it.

Since dad died eight years ago, mom lives alone in her gated community in Boca Raton. Her social life puts mine to shame. She is up at seven and at the athletic center, where she does thirty minutes on the stationary bicycle, and one hour of schmoozing and swapping stock tips. Then it’s home to do some puts and options. I have no idea what that is other than I often hear her say, “I just made a thousand dollars.” And sometimes, she does some travel work like booking her cronies or family members on a cruise. Mom owned a travel agency in New York for many years. Then it’s time for lunch with the girls at the clubhouse. After lunch she goes to work. What is work? Work can be mahjong, canasta, bridge or pam. That lasts until Happy Hour at the club where she is known to enjoy her drinks and friends. Mom brags what a good driver she is even when she has had a few drinks. It’s all smiles and laughs. Needless to say, I am not particularly amused by this behavior, seeing the potential consequences of it. Sometimes the night ends after happy hour at the Club House where they offer lots of delicious free hot food. Other times she heads to a restaurant for dinner with friends.

Mom has taught me how to go out to a restaurant and meet people. The key is to have your dinner at the bar, and it’s preferable to get there early so you can sit in the middle — a good position to be in in order to meet people. During my recent visit mom and I decided to head out for dinner. She had coupons in hand and couple of options. It was either Bonefish for $5 Monday night martinis or Duffy’s, a sports bar where all entries were $12.95 on Monday. I opted for the second. You can see I am not a heavy weight drinker. There were two seats but separated by an older distinguished looking man. I asked him if he minded moving. A quick response, “No,” then followed by ” I am only kidding.” He moved. Mom made sure she took the seat right next to the gentleman.

What proceeded to happen I never thought I’d see in my life.

Mom in Action
Mom in Action

My mom and dad had a way of pushing each other buttons. I can’t say I recall seeing mom being tender to dad much, if at all. Mom in her ninth decade (hard to believe, she does not look it or behave so… yes, I keep hearing I have good genes. I am so grateful!) filled with chutzpah and charm starts engaging the man. As she was speaking to him she was putting her hand on his, leaning her bare forearm on his bare forearm — talk about body language. He was smitten by her. She revealed how she usually spent Monday nights at Bonefish and since she has lost most of her friends she often goes alone. He informed her in a very flirtatious way that she risked being picked up going alone. Let’s just say I am sure they will be meeting next week at Bonefish.

When mom went to the bathroom, I had alone time with him and got the scoop. He was curious to learn what I did and I shared about our film. Mom was gone for quite a while and he missed her. “What happened to you?” he asked. I did manage to get his info (need to be sure mom is safe). Mom must be 10 years older. He fought in Korea, not WWII. I always said she needed a younger man. When we came home, I told her I was excited for her. She said that most of the men she goes out with “can’t get it up.” That was a shock to me (not that they can’t get it up) but that she was dating. When I asked her again, she denied she was dating. All I can say is, I was there at the beginning and she will have a hard time hiding this. I’ve got his number. Will keep you posted.

Read the original article published on Huffington Post POST50 HERE


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Mom’s Entrance

Mom was visiting with me recently. At 91, she is a phenomenon. When she is at home in Boca Raton, by 7:00 a.m. she is at the athletic center — they never call it a gym in her gated community of Boca Pointe. Pointe spelled with an “e” at the end, don’t forget it. After 30 minutes on the stationary bicycle, it’s coffee and schmoozing with her fellow alta kakers (old farts). Then home to trade stocks, perhaps do a put or an option. Don’t ask me what that is. I only know that she reports occasionally to me when she has made some quick money.

Then it’s time to shower and get ready for lunch at the clubhouse with the girls before she goes to work. What is work? Work is canasta, pam, bridge or Mahjong. She promises she is not losing our inheritance… and is at times increasing it. When Dad was alive, she got him into playing the slot machines and you could find him alone or the two of them together at the penny slot machine casinos found in the strip malls of southern Florida. That was, in fact, where dad had his massive stroke, which led to his death three weeks later. It is often said he left this world doing something he enjoyed.

Mom has always been sprite and quick-witted, with no censor. I always heard her say that if her mother were in the United Nations, we would be in WWIII. Funny enough, most people would say the same about her. Oh no, is it true that the apple does not fall far from the tree and I, in fact, have many of the same traits? I will leave that to you to decide as you get to know me more.

Sunday was Mom’s last day staying with me before she was heading out to Long Island to spend the next several days with my brother, his children and grandchildren. We decided to have breakfast before we parted at her favorite local coffee shop. She made sure we got there in time for the breakfast special. Her order? Two basted eggs. (“Do you know what that means?” she asked the waiter each time. “Dry whole wheat toast, black coffee and cranberry juice.”) Sometimes she gives me the juice, since she often does not drink it.

We enter the restaurant with her rolling overnight suitcase. The small, compact coffee shop was packed. There was one table for two available, but mom was concerned about where we would put her suitcase. Although it would be possible to squeeze it in under the small table, we would not have much room for our feet. Mom eyed a larger table inhabited by a man, probably 10 years her junior, sitting most likely with his wife, holding cash in his hand. Mom immediately, in a loud voice, commands the waiter, “Take his money!” And let us all know how much better suited his table would be for us than the smaller one. The man did not appreciate Mom’s comment and announced, “I am digesting my food!” After about 10 more minutes, the man was paid up and leaving with his wife, but not without sharing his opinion about Mom. Saying in a loud voice to her as he was leaving, “You shouldn’t be so rude!” Mom responded with, “What did I do?” And that’s a typical story about Mom. She has no idea what she has done and continues to behave the same way. If she were a child, we would laugh. However, many struggle to see her actions as adorable. It took me a close to a lifetime to get there.

Read the original article published on Huffington Post POST50 HERE

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