Now I See – A Trailer, Mariagrazia Buttitta

Get your copy of, Now I See: https://www.amazon.com/Mariagrazia-Buttitta/e/B079QVWVH1/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

With love,

Mariagrazia Buttitta

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A Sneak Peek Into My Transgender Life, by: DJ Scheibe

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Guest Blogger: DJ, Scheibe.

I was creating a life in a town that I regarded as my hometown––even though it was a 45- minute drive from where I slept. I even knew where to park for free. That morning when I woke, I hoped to have more events to attend where I could wear a formal dress. Lucky for me, that wish was granted. I had a dance at the Community College where I currently work. This event was hosted by their LGBT alliance. I always got a warm feeling when I attended in the past, and also, everyone there could be themselves. This time around, I wanted my hair to have a formal look to match my dress.

Without wasting more time––I drove off to a salon. This was the first time going to this privately own salon recommended by my local friends, they said this was a friendly welcoming place. As soon as I arrived, the owner began styling my hair, I felt a bit nervous, but the salon’s staff was very welcoming. My last haircut was done four-years-ago. Therefore, I was worried my hair would have to be cut shorter due to damage. Luckily, she said my hair wasn’t as bad as I feared, and this time, I only needed a trim. She asked if I had any style in mind, I said, I wanted something different. Glancing over the wall size mirror in front of me––we decided on a look. Minutes later, my hair had curls and volume perfectly held up by hairspray and pins. I then put on my dress and the rest of my outfit in the back room. The dress was black with pink flower patterns. I left the salon with a boost of confidence loving my hair and dress; it made me feel beautiful.

I arrived at the dance party earlier to help with decorations and see if they needed a hand to set up. As I entered the dance hall; my friends saw me in my new dress and hairstyle–––they started clapping. I was overwhelmed and flattered. I thanked them for their kindness and love. That night, I too, could be myself. I was surrounded by a wonderful, loving, and welcoming group of people. I didn’t have to worry about my safety or being judged. That night was beautiful––filled with friends, music, and food.

The dance was fun. I loved being able to dance with my friends in my 5-inch heels. Not to brag, well maybe, a little––I looked stunning.

The only thorn that night for me was being single, especially, during slow songs; however that night was different. My other single friends found out that an astronomy night, open for the public, was also happening that night.  About six of us went. As we waited for our turn we found others from the dance party waiting too. I did not have any bad vibes from the astronomers running the event or from the general public also in line. We finally got our turn to use the telescope, and we looked at the moon’s cratered surface and a twin-star system. That was a fabulous way to end the night.

This amazing fairy-tale was interrupted by a cruel reality. I needed to take off my dress and wash my hair. I removed the hairpins, and then, I had my old look back. I wished more of my hairstyle could have made it through the shampoo. The following Monday I went back to work; dressing simply, dressing in my birth gender.

I am glad I was able to make such happy memories.

Learn more about the Transgender terms.

***

About DJ Scheibe:

DJ Scheibe: works as a professional math and physics tutor. They live in the NY, NJ borderlands. They officially volunteer their free time at different LGBT events; from participating in education outreach programs to just lending a hand.

Copyright © 2016 Embracing Your Differences, All rights reserved. 

It’s Really Not An Everyday Conversation Starter… by: Laurel King

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Guest Blogger: Laurel King

It’s really not an everyday conversation starter. I can still even count the times it’s been mentioned and where. First, in a hallway at work. Next, at a summer pool party. Lastly, on the last day of Abnormal Psychology class. These three conversations wound up being about my Fanconi’s Anemia (F.A.).

I possess a genetic disease in which both parents need to have the recessive gene for in order for this disease to exist. Out of four siblings, I won the Punnett Square roulette when I was born. Since it affects everything in the bone marrow (white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets, etc.), I had sleep marathons due to exhaustion, neighbors who were concerned with child abuse because of how I bruised easily and healed slowly, and I had chicken pox twice (which isn’t supposed to happen if you have a functioning immune system). I was not a normal, energetic, healthy kid in any sense.

I got lucky again, though. By ten years old, my parents and hometown raised enough money and found out that a man from Texas was a perfect match for me for a bone marrow transplant (that in and of itself is it’s own story). Having my own hospital room in Minneapolis, Minnesota made my childish world so isolated. I had no one to talk to about chemotherapy, radiation, the tube that led to the needle attached to an artery in my chest, the vomiting, the chronic nerve pain in my legs from being in bed for six months, the hair loss, and other “kid stuff.” Instead, I watched the sun rise every morning. I wanted to enjoy the moment, even if it stemmed from the development of insomnia. I may no longer wake up at dawn, but I still wake up, and that’s special.

There’s one symptom I never thought about with a life-threatening disease. One day, my younger sister decided to write a research paper on F.A. She wanted me to proofread it because her heart is big and her writing is atrocious. The first symptom she wrote was: failure to live. That brought me back to the mailing list my parents subscribed to, the one that listed the people who died from F.A. I knew the faces to some of those names (may they all always rest in peace).

I never thought of myself as a survivor until then. Just a small, feisty tomboy who is quiet, (sometimes) observant, dark-haired, dark-eyed, and was born close to the edge of something I cannot control. At the same time, I truly want to get over trauma, social and personal anxiety, and continue to live life.

Now, I am working harder to be a healthy, helpful, and hopeful person. I am still around, alive, and holding on to myself and others, regardless of any other “family dynamics.” For that, I want to be grateful.

***

About: Laurel King

Laurel King: Licensed massage therapist by day and professional humanities tutor by night, living in New Jersey’s Bergen County, and who is also planning on a bachelors in education and masters degree in occupational therapy.

Copyright © 2016 Embracing Your Differences, All rights reserved.

Resolutions for Better Communication, By: Gary C. Woodward

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Guest Blogger: Gary C. Woodward

It’s time for the annual ritual of making promises to ourselves about what we will change in the coming year.  In that spirit, consider six resolutions that would make us better partners in a wide range of communication settings. 

  • Resolve to be a better listener.

Becoming an engaged listener is like losing weight: it’s harder than it sounds.  It requires momentarily giving ourselves over to what another is saying.  That must include minimizing other distractions, turning off the far too loquacious chatterbox camped out in our brains, and accepting the challenge of bringing our full attention to another. We can’t do this with everyone all the time.  Listening for nuance is work.  Start with the people that matter most.

  • Protect your soul by deciding to be a more thoughtful gatekeeper.

We allow a lot of worthless messages into our lives:  junk journalism, junk advertising, aimless web-browsing, mean-spirited trolls and the self-obsessed. As tech writer Farhad Manjoo recently noted in the New York Times, the Internet is “loud, shrill, reflexive and ugly.”  It “now seems to be on constant boil.”   So it takes far more personal discipline to keep this stuff at bay and to hold on to our social equilibrium.

  • Work to put a reasonable limit on the time your children spend with all kinds of screens.

Virtual reality is a desert compared to the natural world.  Rediscover local parks or just the simple pleasures of a walk around the block.  Remember that even young children are naturally weatherized.  Most love to be out and active in the cold.

  • Resolve to save important feelings and information for face to face discussion.

Proximity with others usually brings out the best in us.  Media that act as surrogates for ourselves (even “social” media) offer only selected approximations of the real deal.

  • Listen to more music.

Because it’s almost exclusively the language of feeling, music unites us in ways that ordinary rhetoric can’t.

  • With the possible exception of those strange relatives up in Duluth, resist dividing the world into “us” and “them.”

Human complexities always trump simple binaries.  We just need the intellectual honesty to acknowledge that simple fact.

      Happy Holidays.

Comments: Woodward@tcnj.edu

About: Gary C. Woodward

A Coloradan by birth and a resident of Stockton, New Jersey, Woodward is a Professor, rhetorician, and former Chairperson of the Department of Communication Studies at The College of New Jersey.

He has degrees in communication and rhetorical theory from California State University at Sacramento and the University of Pittsburgh (Ph.D. 1972). A native of Colorado, he has taught in England as well as in the United States, and has undertaken research supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and The College of New Jersey at the LBJ Library, the JFK Library, Britain’s House of Commons, CBS News and C-SPAN. His comments on political topics have appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, the Dallas Morning News, CNN.com, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and other news outlets.

Read more: http://theperfectresponse.pages.tcnj.edu/gary-woodward/

Copyright © 2015 Embracing Your Differences, All rights reserved.

 

Storytelling will Save the World… Yes, Even Yours, by: Joshua Rivedal

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Guest Blogger: Josh Rivedal

Captain’s log, Stardate January 2011. Where unfortunately many have gone before. I’m twenty-six years old and thinking about dying… actually I’m not being entirely truthful. I’m dangling halfway out the fourth floor window of my bedroom in New York City. I don’t really want to die. I just want the emotional pain to stop… and I don’t know how to do that. Hell, two guys in my life—my father and grandfather—each didn’t know how to make their own terrible personal pain stop and now both are…dead.

My grandfather, Haakon—a Norwegian guy who served in the Royal Air Force (35th Squadron as a tail gunner) in World War II—killed himself in 1966 because of the overwhelming post traumatic stress he suffered after the war.

My father, Douglas—an American guy who was a chronically unhappy and abusive man—killed himself in 2009, the catalysts being a divorce with my mother along with some long-term depression and other mental health issues.

How did I get to such a dismal place in my own life so quickly, just a month shy of my twenty-seventh birthday? Coming out of secondary school and high on optimism, I thought by the time I reached my mid-twenties I’d have it all together. I pictured myself singing on Broadway, scoring a few bit parts on Law & Order, and transitioning seamlessly to being cast with Will Smith in the summer’s biggest blockbuster – after which, my getaway home in the Hamptons would be featured in Better Homes & Gardens, and my face would grace the cover of National Enquirer as Bigfoot’s not-so-secret lover. Not to mention, I’d have my perfect wife and perfect family by my side to share in my success.

But instead, “perfect” was unattainable (it always is). I only managed to perform in some small professional theatre gigs and on one embarrassing reality television show; and over the course of the previous eighteen months my father killed himself, my mother betrayed me and sued me for my father’s inheritance, and my girlfriend of six years broke up with me.

This storm of calamity and crisis had ravaged my life… and I wasn’t talking about it to anyone. My silence led to crisis and poor decisions—to the extent that I was clinging to a fourth story window.

Both my grandfather Haakon and father Douglas suffered their pain in silence because of the stigma surrounding talking about mental illness and getting help. I too felt that same stigma—like I’d be seen as “crazy” or “less of a man” if I talked about what I was going through. But I didn’t want to die and so I had to take a chance.

I started talking. I pulled myself back inside and first called my mom. She helped me through that initial crisis and we became friends again. She never called me “crazy.” I then started reaching out to the positive friends I had in my life. They hugged me and helped me with open arms. They never told me I was “less than a man.” Soon I got more help by seeing a professional counselor, and by writing down what I was going through in a journal.

But this idea of keeping silent continued to bother me. I did some research while in my recovery and found out that each year, suicide kills over one million people worldwide… and that many of those one million never speak up about their emotional pain because of stigma.

I had to figure out a way to reach people like that. So, like any other actor, writer, or comedian living in New York City whose life dealt them a crappy hand, I created a one-man show… and it toured theatres and universities in the United States, Canada, England, and Australia—and people were getting help.

But I had to keep talking because this isn’t just my family’s problem or a United States problem… it’s a world problem.

I had to get other people to tell their stories, so I started The i’Mpossible Project. Why? Because storytelling is one of our oldest traditions. Stories can make us laugh or cry… or both at the same time. They can teach, inspire and even ignite an entire movement.

The stories of The i’Mpossible Project are about overcoming obstacles, reengaging with life, and creating new possibilities—a son’s homicide, a transgender man finding love, and even coming back from the brink of suicide (you can read a couple of the stories HERE)… because it’s okay to be struggling, it’s okay to need help; people have your back… there’s hope.

It’s been four years since my crisis and life is definitely looking up. The acting and writing thing is going well, I have a great girlfriend; but most important I’m able to give and receive help and love, and with hard work I’m able to stay mentally well—all because I took a risk and told my story.

No matter what society says, it’s COOL (as in “okay”) to talk about your feelings. Don’t ever forget that you are important, and your story needs to be heard so we, the human race, can learn how to live and love better. #iampossible #mentalhealth

* * *

About: Josh Rivedal

Josh Rivedal (executive director of The i’Mpossible Project) is an author, actor, and international speaker on suicide prevention, mental health, and diversity. He curated the 50-story inspirational anthology The i’Mpossible Project: Reengaging With Life Creating a New You. He wrote the one-man play, Kicking My Blue Genes in The Butt (KMBB), which has toured extensively throughout the world. He writes for the Huffington Post. His memoir The Gospel According to Josh: A 28-Year Gentile Bar Mitzvah, based on KMBB and published by Skookum Hill in 2013, is on The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s recommended reading list.

Copyright © 2015 Embracing Your Differences, All rights reserved.

From Denial to Acceptance–My Daughter’s Disability, by: Francesca Buttitta

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Guest Blogger: Francesca Buttitta

I was seventeen years old when I met my Prince Charming, my husband for thirty-one years now. I was twenty-one, my husband, twenty-two, when we tied the knot. The following year, I gave birth to my first child. Three years later, I gave birth to my second child.

I looked at my little girls with love I never knew existed.

Being a mother was something I dreamed of since I was a young girl. My dream had finally come true. I remember that special moment when I wrapped my arms around my children for the first time––what a precious gift. I promised to love them unconditionally and to always protect them. I wanted my girls to be happy, and I would do anything in my power to make sure that it would happen.

I knew motherhood would be something special. I wanted to be there for my girls as they took their first baby step; to proudly witness their first words; to take them to school.  Eventually, I would want my kids to find their true love, just as I had found mine.  And, of course, I want to be a grandmother (Shhhh).

But little did I know that this perfect picture I painted wasn’t as perfect as I wanted it to be.

My second child was diagnosed with an eye disorder called, Cone Dystrophy when she was fourteen years old.  I thought I had failed as a mother and I felt overwhelmed as to how I could help my disabled child.  Fear had washed over me in no time.

I cried when no one was watching because I knew I had to be brave for my family.  I was in denial of her condition.  I started to ask myself on a regular basis: what I had done wrong as a mother to deserve all this?

Nowhere in my perfect picture was there supposed to be a baby who over time became legally blind.  No one had ever taught me to be a mother in the first place, and I certainly was never taught how to accept her eye disorder.

I remember the first time she came home with a cane for the blind, my heart ached to see her like this. I was frightened for her.  What if people stare at her? What if they don’t’ accept her? What if I wasn’t there to help?

I wanted to hold her tight in my arms like when she was a baby. I wanted to keep my promise of keeping her safe, but I knew I had to learn to let go, accept, and see her for who she really was and is.

With time she helped me see her disability differently, and no, I didn’t fail as a mother—God really wasn’t punishing me!  Soon enough I saw the intelligence, beauty, and strength in my child that was always there.  At first, I was too blinded by her condition that I had almost forgotten to look at her for what she had to offer to this world.

All I needed to do was accept and let go.  Easier said than done.  But with time and education provided by my daughter to me personally—not to mention our connection with the Commission for the Blind—I felt happy again.

My little girl is all grown up now and independent.  She is attending college, writing, and inspiring and helping others. I couldn’t be more proud.

Today I look at my girls with pride and I feel so blessed to have them in my life. You know, I did alright as a mother, and I am proud of my daughters for who they are. Their imperfections have made them perfect! At least, they are to me!

***

 “In giving birth to our babies, we may find that we give birth to new possibilities within ourselves.” ~Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn

Copyright © 2015 Embracing Your Differences, All rights reserved.