Lead paint is on my windows.

Asbestos is in my walls.

I fear this house will kill me.

My home is my enemy.


Asbestos is in my walls.

Are there toxic particles in the air?

My home is my enemy.

I do not think that I am safe here.


There are toxic particles in the air.

Are those paint chips on the floor?

I know that I am not safe here.

There is lead dust everywhere.


There are paint chips on the floor.

Is everything contaminated?

There is lead dust everywhere.

I must wipe it all away.


Everything is contaminated.

Lead paint is falling from my windows.

I can’t wipe it all away.

I know this house will kill me.

Mindful Living: An Oxymoron


Mindfulness. Lately it seems that I can’t flip through a magazine, listen to the radio, turn on the television or read a parenting blog without reading or listening to yet another person extolling the virtues of mindfulness. So what exactly is mindfulness? According to psychologytoday.com:

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present.  When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad.  Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening experience.

Sounds fantastic.  Right?  “Living in the moment.”  “Awakening experience!”  Being in a “state of active, open attention on the present!”*  Holy shit, for a chick with OCD, it seems that being able to achieve a state of mindfulness is akin to reaching Nirvana.  I dig it.  I really do. While I now have the whole OCD thing under control (my motto: don’t suffer; see a shrink), two years ago the very idea of thinking about only one thing without insanely invasive thoughts of environmental contaminants and other horrific things invading my mental space would have seemed an utter impossibility.  At the time, the thought of concentrating on anything at all other than obsessive thoughts seemed impossible.  Mindfulness?  Back then? Forget it. Mindfulness now?  Well, I’m not so sure about that either.  As much as I like the idea of it, upon deeper reflection and research, it doesn’t quite seem to fit our lifestyle here in the Nanni house. 

We Nanni’s thrive on an amped up kind of energy.  There isn’t a hell of a lot of stillness and quiet in our home.  There is, however, a lot of vacillating between great sorrow (over things like empty bowls of goldfish and being told it’s time to go to bed) and rage (usually brought on by a fight  over something like who gets to pet the dog first).  Oh, and let’s not forget joy (resulting from both children teaming up and doing something to vex Giorgio and I).  And with all this sorrow, rage and joy comes a great deal of mournful cries, screams of rage and fits of high pitched laughter.  So, hypothetically speaking, if I am trying to make dinner and one child is screaming because he can’t find his favorite show on television, and the other is crying because she finished all her goldfish, and the dog is barking at me to feed her, and the phone is ringing, what am I supposed to be minding?  The dinner?  The kids? The dog?  The phone?  The whole jacked up situation in its entirety?  Perhaps that’s it.  Perhaps achieving mindfulness requires a more holistic approach.  Let’s develop that idea.

Just this afternoon, the Nanni’s were in the car heading to Starbucks.  Giorgio was trying to talk to me about something going on at his job; meanwhile, both children were screaming at us about crazy stuff like how to find the Ariel song on the iphone and how to spell Bastille. Now, please tell me, how am I, a poor, wretched person, supposed to be attentive, focused, mindful during this particular moment?  Here’s what I’ve come up with.  I need to view mindfulness in broader strokes.  At that given moment, I could not possibly attend to just one person or to one thought.   I needed to transcend the situation, the entire chaotic, loud, frustrating situation.  I needed to embrace it for what it was and not judge it.  I was not supposed to chastise myself for my inferior parenting which resulted in children that interrupt and demand attention.  I was not supposed to feel anxious and annoyed.  I was supposed to observe it calmly and breathe.  Okay.  Got it.  I guess. 

And how about this? This Christmas Santa gifted both my children with razor scooters.  Clearly Santa was concerned about the kids not getting enough exercise during these cold and snowy winter months.  He also figured that Giorgio and I are laid back enough to allow the kids to scoot in the house. While this was a good idea in theory, these damned scooters have turned our home into a madhouse. I am constantly being chased down by maniacs on scooters. I now live in fear of having my heel rammed by a scooter. I dodge and weave as I go about my daily business.  Never do I feel safe.  I am always wondering, waiting for the moment when a scooter will make contact with my body. The sound of rumbling tiny wheels on tile echos in my dreams.  I am never free of those damned scooters.  And it’s not just the noise and fear of being hit.  It’s also the sound of my children and their scooters.  It’s hearing the BANG!!! Then silence, silence, wait for it…SCREAM!!! Or, silence, silence, wait for it…”I’m okay mommy!”  How am I to be mindful with that looming fear of an impending scooter disaster.  My mind is constantly occupied with thoughts of those G.D. scooters. 

So, I guess I’ve established that mindful parenting escapes me, but how about plain old generic mindful living. I’m assuming that I’m not the only one who has thoughts tear through her mind in rapid succession.  As long as my thoughts aren’t obsessive or fear-based, I like being this way.  I cram a lot of thought into the sixteen wakeful hours I have a day.  When I was dancing, and, if I am going to be completely honest, even to this day, I cannot listen to beautiful music without choreographing dances in my head (lousy dances, yes, but dances nonetheless).  I cannot fully concentrate on the music itself, so I guess I do not fully enjoy music in its purest form.  I think over it.  I add something to it.  I visualize beautiful dancers moving in harmony with the music.   So, I guess that means I am not mindful of what I am listening to because I am evaluating it and applying it to something else.

How about taking a walk on a cold early spring morning. Is it possible for writers to walk past crocuses poking through the recently thawed ground without simultaneously enjoying the sight and weaving it into their greater narratives?  Aren’t we, as humans, thinkers, writers of our own life stories, supposed to judge, analyze and evaluate as we experience?  How can we just be?  How can we just be mindful?  How can we be so cold and disconnected that we choose when to ignore, when to not feel, when to not judge, when to not experience our most primal emotions?  How can we be flat?  Muted?  I prefer energy and emotion in all its beauty, its bitter sorrow and great, great joy.  I prefer to feel without restraint.  I prefer to react when something is wrong.  I prefer to judge when something is unjust.  I prefer to feel strong emotions, the euphoria that comes with bliss and the regret that comes when I make emotional decisions.  I prefer to be myself.  And I guess I am just too emotional, too wrapped up in all around me, too fucked up to be fully mindful.  And I can live with that.

*From www.psychologytoday.com/basics/mindfulness Mindfulness: Present Moment Awareness

Happiness: My Gift to Myself for My Fortieth Birthday

40th Bday Blog

This past Saturday I turned forty.  I woke up in the morning and asked myself, “How the hell did this happen?” I have always had a Peter Pan complex. As a child, when other little girls my age said they wanted to be mothers or brides or teachers, I thought they were insane. Why in God’s name would anyone actually want to do any of that?  Being an adult didn’t look like any fun.  I just wanted to remain a kid..forever. For years, I wished that I would remain young. Of course that was one wish that would never be fulfilled unless I was going to sell my soul to the devil in return for semi-eternal youth. I had to remove that option from the table, however, because someday that  pointy tailed, pitchfork carrying psychopath would come to collect my soul as payment for all the wrinkle free years I was granted, and, frankly, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am really, really, really afraid of the devil. I also considered, but later determined that it was also highly improbable, that I would find an artist to paint a portrait of myself as a youth which would age for me.  Of course, I would hide it in my attic so no one would discover my secret, but, as we know, the whole aging portrait in an attic thing didn’t work out very well for poor debauched Dorian Gray.  Occam’s razor my friends, Occam’s razor.  The simplest choice is usually the right choice.  Portraits and artists and deals with the devil are just too complicated. 

So I grew up and aged. I don’t look as grizzled as I expected to when I turned forty, but age I did.  And this brings us to the day of my fortieth birthday.   Giorgio had to work all day and it snowed..a lot.  The kids, Ginger and I were snowed in on my birthday, with no hope of going anywhere or doing anything special. Despite the fact that we weren’t going anywhere, I put on my new faux leather leggings (they just make me feel good) and the kids and I made gingerbread houses. And at some point during the day I had a startling revelation…I was happy!  Not just happy in the moment (being with my kids has always filled me with joy; I just adore them) but happy in life, happy with myself, just plain old happy. 

The funny thing is that I haven’t really been happy since I was ten years old.  Over the past thirty years I  experienced supremely joyful moments, the greatest moments in my life in fact, as in the birth of my children, but pure complete happiness had eluded me. Over the years I, along with stress, neurosis, perfectionism, insecurity, anxiety, and fear, sucked the joy out of my own life.  My children and my husband became my happiness, but if I was alone, with just myself and my thoughts, I was a fearful, anxious wreck of a woman.

So how did I recover my happiness? Here it is. But first, let me assure you that there is no need to worry. I am not going to parlay this blog into a tool to kickstart my new career as a self-help guru. I still have a lot of work to do. Also, I am a late bloomer. Most forty year old adults figured this stuff out long ago. So, please, take it for what it’s worth. Now, back to how I became happy.

I discovered that most people are inherently good.  No.  I am not naive.  Of course there are wicked people who do evil things, who choose to do evil things, but, the vast majority of people in this world are good, or try to be good, or, at the very least, fancy themselves to be good. I deeply believe that insecurity is the primary reason why people act like assholes.  Insecurity, not pure wickedness, explains why people are jealous, why people malign others, why people hurt others at school and in the workplace.  And it is so much easier to forgive or at least understand someone whose actions are driven by insecurity rather than by nefarious intent.  Once I decided that people are good, despite the fact that they act badly, the world became a happier place.

To the best of my ability, I try to live each day so that I would be proud of it if it were my last.  This is not the same as living each day as if I knew it was going to be my last.  That’s ridiculous.  In that scenario, I’d likely attempt to numb my pain and quell my fear with martinis and denial. When I reflect upon my day, I want to feel proud that I tried to do the best for my children and family.  I want to feel proud that I tried my best to be kind and patient and unselfish.  I want to feel proud that I worked to my fullest potential.  I don’t need perfection.  Perfection is a myth. Striving for it will destroy you.

I went to a shrink. That’s right, I went to a shrink, and it was the best thing I could have done for myself and my family.  Just a few years back, I became crippled by fear, anxiety and OCD (something I did not realize I had as a youth, but, in retrospect, of course I did).  While I don’t want to get into the gory details at the moment, I will say that when mommy is unhappy, when mommy spends much too much time crying and worrying, the family becomes unhappy.  When you have everything, and by everything I mean healthy children, a loving spouse and enough money to pay the bills and your still not happy, for Christ’s sake, it’s time for mommy to take care of her shit.  So I did. As a parent, it’s our duty to take care of ourselves, to take care of both our physical and mental health. 

I discovered who I am and I actually like myself.  I just took some time to figure out what I really like, who I really like to be with, and what ideas and opinions are authentically mine.

There it is…how I became happy.  Oh, in case you’re interested, what did I learn about myself?   In a nutshell, I’m a faux leather, sparkle eye shadow, stiletto wearing, zany chic who unapologetically admits to  living  for her kids and loves her husband.  I like quirky people with wild stories, dancing, club music, old episodes of Columbo, Cheetos and martinis. I love ballet…and B movies. I like earnestness and absurdity. I like to laugh. Mostly, I love to be with my children.  I still dream.  I still choreograph dances in my head when I hear great music.  I am happy. Finally, at forty years old, I am happy.