Stacey Loscalzo

Latest Posts

Mar 31

Can We Feel Gratitude and Grief?

by Stacey

Yesterday, an old friend (in time not age) shared a clip from Glennon Doyle’s instagram page. We are huge fans of Glennon Doyle and her wife Abby Wambach in our house but had somehow missed this particular video. What I love the most about Glennon is how she makes us think about hard things and laugh in equal measure. The clip that my friend shared yesterday was about grief. Please take a few minutes to click here and watch Glennon explain it to you but the gist is that we are all grieving right now and that is ok. 

I firmly believe that we have to be positive and grateful for what we do have if we are going to get through this but… I had a dream last night after watching Glennon speak. This dream led me to know that I am not only grateful but also really sad and angry and that is ok. 

I dreamt that I arrived at my retina surgeon’s office for my last pre-op appointment and the receptionist pointed at a note on the sign-in sheet. The note was written in tiny cursive writing. I couldn’t read it at all. When I told her that my vision was blurry and I couldn’t understand the message, she just kept pointing at it despite my protests. After a long time and lots of frustration on my part, in a whisper that I could barely hear, she told me that all appointments and surgeries for the next two days would be subject to a massive Passover up-charge of tens of thousands of dollars. I have no idea what Passover had to do with anything so this remains the part of the dream that could deal with some analysis. But anyway, the receptionist recommended that I reschedule my surgery. I stormed out of the office and called Rob screaming. When I woke up, I was so mad at my surgeon that I could still feel my fists curled up in anger.

Now back to the real world. I was scheduled for my last eye surgery on March 19th. On March 15th, all elective surgeries in New York were canceled. I’ve spent a lot of time being positive about this situation. If I was going to press pause during this year’s long eye journey, this really was the best place to do it. Both my retinas are fully attached and I have perfect vision in my left eye. Thank goodness for all that. But you know what? In my right eye, I have a huge cataract (a normal side effect of retinal surgery) and still a tiny gas bubble (also a normal result of my last retinal surgery) that both require surgery. As a result of all this, my vision is really incredibly poor. In addition, I have dry eyes caused by drops I am still on and will be on until I can have this surgery. I can only read really large fonts and sometimes by the end of the day (eyes get drier as the day goes on), I have to give up on reading all together because my vision is so blurry. I have the font enlarged on my phone and have to pre-type everything in a google doc where I can type in an 18 font. I then copy and paste what I have written to emails or Facebook or my blog or really wherever I need to share written information. If driving at night were still a thing, I would have to patch my right eye because the cataract combined with headlights and street lights causes double vision. Because of the gas bubble, I am still limited to what types of exercise I can do. Needless to say, all this is not ideal. Better than it could be, I keep reminding myself, buf far from ideal. 

Watching Glennon yesterday and having this dream last night, made me realize just how much we all really are grieving right now. I hope I can find a balance over these next few weeks (I’m still refusing to say months) between gratitude and grief. I know this is a tricky place to be but I am up for the challenge. Gratitude and grief? Can these two emotions really live side by side? I guess it’s time to figure that out. Anyone with me? 

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Mar 30

A Small Way to Support Indie Bookstores

by Stacey

I opened my email about an hour ago and noticed a trend. Small businesses and charities are running out of money. I read two emails back to back- one from Page 1 Books, an independent bookstore that I follow on-line and one from the 92nd Street Y. Neither of these emails took time to sugar coat their situations. The emails were flat out calls for financial contributions to help these organizations stay afloat. I know this is only the beginning of the emails that will flood our inboxes as small business and charities struggle to stay open, to pay employees, to imagine a future where they have weathered this storm. 

As a family, we are thinking through how we will support the many businesses and organizations we value. Over the weekend, I took one small step to help our favorite local bookstore, The Curious Reader. And I am even more glad to let you know that near or far, you too can support either The Curious Reader (please!) or any other independent bookstores that you love. 

I have been an Audible subscriber for as long as I can remember. While I don’t listen to a ton of audio books, I listen to enough that having an Audible subscription made sense. But this weekend, I switched my audiobook subscription to Libro.fm and now all of my audiobook purchases will benefit The Curious Reader, who desperately needs our support to get through this time instead of Amazon who will come out of this crisis without our help. It was super easy to sign up for Libro.fm and their platform seems very similar to Audible so there wasn’t much of a learning curve to get started. 

Please click here to learn more about Libro.fm and if you are interested in helping my friends at The Curious Reader, please do! 

And if you are curious to know which books I have enjoyed on audio lately, here are a few suggestions…. 

Know My Name by Chanel Miller- This book is phenomenal and truthfully I think it should be required reading for all college students. I think MIller’s writing is just about the best that I have read in a really long time. 

Fractured by Karin Slaughter- Karin Slaughter is a new to me author. For years, if I needed something that would be an easy read, Patricia Cornwell and James Patterson were my go to authors. I have been on the lookout for a new author in this category for a long time and Karin Slaughter is it! 

All Over But the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg- My mom came and stayed with us for a bit after my last eye surgery and her book club had just finished and really loved All Over But the Shoutin’. I accidentally listened to the abridged version but it was so good that I would definitely recommend the full book if you can find it. 

The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup- This was another post surgery listen. Well written thrillers like the Chestnut Man are among my favorites and the pace of this one was so fast that it was extra fun on audio.

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich- For a long time, true crime was the only type of book that I would listen to on audio and this was a great one. The Fact of the Body was a ‘true crime memoir’ which was a really interesting concept.  

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Mar 24

Listen to the Truth Tellers

by Stacey

From the time the girls were very little we have told them the truth. So much so that some people may have questioned our parenting decisions. From birth to death and everything in between, if the girls asked questions and seemed ready to hear the answers, we provided them with age appropriate and truthful responses. While it just seemed like the right thing to do, we also felt in some small way, like it helped to keep anxiety at bay. At least for us, sharing and knowing the truth, even if the truth was sad or scary, always felt better than withholding it. 

These days, my social media feed is full of people praising New York Governor Coumo. While I have recently read a few comments that while he is great in a crisis, he isn’t perfect, for now, he is the leader I will follow. There are obvious and critical differences between Governor Coumo and our president but one of the most important ones to me is their handling and telling of the truth. 

If I am able to watch more than a few minutes of the president talking, I walk away feeling far more anxious than when I started listening. I will sit and listen to nearly the entirety of Governor Coumo’s press conferences and feel better when it is over. In some ways, this makes no sense. The president is painting a far prettier picture than the one Governor Cuomo paints. But you know what? Like the girls, I prefer the truth. Ignoring medicine and scientists in the face of a global pandemic is not the same as faking a smile until you feel happy. Lying to the country is not the same as using the power of positivity to make a bad situation better. It is dangerous and cruel. Ignoring the truth and telling lies will make this all worse and every independent thinking lay person understands this. 

As I watch major news channels cut away from the president’s press conferences and people on social media who I know have supported the president in the past begin to question, I am hopeful. Please, please let these small changes be enough to bring about a massive change. Please let the scientists and doctors have the loudest voice. We must listen to them. We must stay home. The alternative is too scary. 

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Mar 20

Loneliness or Solitude?

by Stacey

This morning, I watched the Today Show (thank goodness for routines these days!), and Hoda talked with a man named Jay Shetty. As he began speaking, I ran for my notebook and scribbled the words “loneliness vs solitude.” 

Wow. That’s it, isn’t it? I do think, within reason and with some exceptions, how we frame this whole collective situation is going to make all the difference. 

As many of you know, I took quite a journey, filled with eye surgeries, this past year. In fact, my fourth and hopefully final procedure was scheduled for yesterday and then postponed. Over the course of the past year, I have had long periods of time to practice being alone. I spent two weeks this year, sitting or lying facedown for twenty two out of twenty four hours. My friends and family were awesome during this time, rarely leaving me physically alone but mentally, I was on my own. Following each of my procedures, I also went for extended periods of time with such limited vision that I was unable to drive. Last spring, this period lasted for three weeks and most recently, over the winter, I didn’t drive for two months. Again, my community really rallied for me but even with them, I spent long, long periods on my own. 

Somehow, during these times, I stayed pretty calm. Now don’t get me wrong- I had plenty of grown up temper tantrums, but overall, I was pretty much ok. Over and over, people asked me how I was doing it and over and over, I said, “Well, I don’t really have a choice.’ 

This morning, when I looked up the definitions of the words loneliness and solitude here is what I found. 

Loneliness is defined as sadness because one has no friends or company. Related words; depression and emptiness. While on the other hand solitude is defined as the state or situation of being alone. Related words; beautiful, art. Interestingly, the associated images for these two words are the same. The images reveal gorgeous pictures of people walking in nature or people, drawing or standing before breathtaking views. The images are the same while the emotions placed over the images are completely different. 

Looking back on my time this past year, I guess I did, in fact, have a choice. I could have layered negative emotions on my time and felt pretty lonely. Somehow though, without even realizing it, I think I focused more on my solitude. 

At the time, I worried that I had not used my forced down time productively. Because my vision was pretty funky, I didn’t read or write nearly as much as I would have liked. I did a fair amount of house organizing but both the basement and the garage are still pretty messy. Due to physical restrictions I fell further and further out of shape. I didn’t learn how to cook a bunch of new meals. This list of things I didn’t do could go on and on. But now, thinking about the words loneliness and solitude, I think I have figured out what, in fact, I did do over the past year. I learned how to do nothing and not feel sad about it. 

As we move through these next few weeks (and yes, I am still refusing to say months), I know there will be times that loneliness will be the only way to describe how we are all feeling. Of course, this feeling will come to people who are living alone but even those of us who are lucky enough to be surrounded by our loved ones will feel alone and depressed in the coming weeks. But what if we also found a way to feel some solitude? What if we found some time where we work to attach either no emotion or some positive emotion to this time of isolation? 

I’m certainly not promising to be perfect at this but I am going to try. Who is with me? 

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Mar 18

Recent Favorite Reads

by Stacey

I am in a reading slump like no other. I have not finished a book in weeks. This is super unusual and it is making me crazy uncomfortable. 

You see, I have been thinking about the coronavirus for a long time now. My nephew was scheduled to leave on a school trip to Vietnam at the beginning of March and my sister-in-law caught on long before the rest of us that this virus was no joke. Around mid February, she began researching this illness and the effects it was having world- wide. Each day she would call and tell us more and more about what she had learned. I felt my concentration starting to fade as my sense of worry increased. A few weeks ago, after it was decided that my nephew’s trip would be canceled, I started focusing on our own preparedness for some level of supply chain shortages. I thought I was going a bit over the top in thinking this way but after spending the ten days following Hurricane Sandy without electricity, I no longer like to be caught off guard. And then, as if overnight, there wasn’t a person to be found who wasn’t feeling some level of coronavirus stress and the ensuing lack of concentration. 

So this is all a long of saying that I am at a bit of a standstill when it comes to books. I did recently start The Holdout which is holding my attention fairly well so I have high hopes. In the meantime though, in case, books are providing you comfort right now, I thought I would share a few that I loved before my attention waned. 

Long Bright River is a page turner about sisters and the opioid epidemic- one is a police officer and one an addict. This book is not for sensitive souls but for me, it was a great read. 

Nothing to See Here has the most bizarre premise- two children who spontaneously catch on fire but I’m telling you- it was great and incredibly readable. 

The Dutch House– Ann Patchett wrote two of my all time favorite books (Bel Canto and State of Wonder) so I always get excited when she writes a new book. I didn’t love her most recent title (Commonwealth) though so I wasn’t sure what to think when Dutch House came out but I loved this brother/sister story. 

A Nearly Normal Family is about a super (and I mean super!) dysfunctional family. It’s been a long time since I was completely caught off guard by the ending of a book but this one did it!

Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11 was a riveting account of 9/11. I learned a ton while reading this book and would almost go as far as calling it a page turner. I don’t usually read non-fiction so this was a big deal for me.

I hope this list gave you a few ideas and as always, please share any recent favorite reads with me- I always love to add to my never ending ‘to be read’ list.

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Mar 17

The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

by Stacey

It feels like the world is changing, day by day and even, at times, minute by minute. At any given moment I can feel exhaustion, fear or acceptance. My mood is unpredictable as is my motivation level to accomplish anything. The bizarre thing about all of this though is that some aspects of our lives remain shockingly consistent. 

The picture above was taken yesterday. My three favorite people were each behind a closed door doing what they do every day. Rob was working while the girls transitioned from one class to another. 

I’m not really sure what Rob was doing because he takes client confidentiality incredibly seriously. I never know what he is doing over the course of a day though so there you go. His location may have changed but the work he was doing remained the same. 

The girls started virtual school yesterday. And as always, in some of the classes, the teachers lectured and the class participated. Some of the teachers broke their classes into small groups and kids worked together. In some of the classes, the students were given assignments to complete independently and I’m sure some of the students completed their assignments right away while some waited to submit their work until moments before the 8pm deadline. Again, the location and the mode of instruction has changed dramatically but the classes, the teachers and the students remain the same. 

I spent my day the same way I always do. Folding laundry, cooking, spending too much time on social media, procrastinating writing projects and taking Daisy for a walk. Again, I have more people with me and I spent way more time than usual in our house but my role- supporting our family while trying to carve out some time for myself- remained the same. 

I will say, the only creature in our house who is seeing a significant change in the role they play is our dog, Daisy. She is going to be exhausted when this whole thing is over. We are all walking to keep sane and we are all bringing Daisy with us. Sometimes we all go, sometimes two of us are out strolling the sidewalks together and sometimes one of us is on our own but everytime, we have Daisy by our size. We are glad she is up for the challenge! 

So for now, onward as the more things change, the more they stay the same. 

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Mar 16

Our Can Do List

by Stacey

Over the past year and a half, I have practiced yoga with Coach Jim Stroker, a retired Ridgewood wellness teacher and truthfully, a local legend. When Jim’s children were young, two of his three children were in a car accident that resulted in life-long challenges for them both. Jim took this challenge and turned it into an opportunity to raise an amazing family and to share his spirit with our community. 

This morning, I watched Jim’s video on Facebook (go follow him if you don’t already- James Stoker on FB) and it was just what I needed. He tells the story of the lists his family made after Jake and Ali’s accident. One list was full of all the things that Jake and Ali could no longer do. But the other list? It was the list of all the things that Jake and Ali could do. Today, Jim challenged us to make those lists too. So here goes. 

The girls can not go to school. But they can continue to learn. They are both upstairs in their rooms, in class and I can hear them. They are talking and laughing and navigating through this crazy new world of on-line school. And they are learning. 

Katherine can not go to dance class. But she can dance. Tonight she will connect with one of her favorite teachers and join with her fellow dancers in a Zoom class. This will be strange and I am sure it will take some adjusting but whatever it is, it will be movement and connection and she will dance. 

Caroline can’t go to soccer practice but she can play soccer in the backyard and she can run and train and be faster and stronger when this all passes. And she can continue to connect with her teammates on text and Facetime and Snapchat and probably lots of other apps that I don’t even know about. 

Caroline can’t go to DECA meetings or plan for their trip to Nationals. But she can help organize a food drive to help the kids at Oasis who she worked with for her DECA project this year. They are in need of food and cleaning supplies so this weekend we dropped off some things at a friend’s house and her mom will bring them to work with her today. 

I can not run errands but I can get things done around the house (clean out closets, delete emails, organize pictures are the top three chores on my list). I can be productive. 

I can not go to volunteer meetings which I enjoy- both the community they provide and the help I am able to offer will be missing. But I can connect with the people I work with on the phone or by text. I can continue to support the organizations I love by making plans for how I will help them when this is all over because they will need more help than ever. 

I am sure this list could go on forever but I am going to leave it here and go for a walk. I’d love it if you wanted to create a list and share it! Let’s grow our ‘Can Do Lists’ and see how big they really are. 

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Oct 18

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Book Review

by Stacey

Strangely, as much as I love reading, I do not enjoy writing book reviews. I always overthink them and can’t ever get the right balance between plot summary and opinion. The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace though? This book deserves to be discussed so I’m going to give it a go.

A few weeks ago, I had coffee with a friend and we got talking about what we were reading. While she wasn’t currently reading Robert Peace’s story, she said she couldn’t stop thinking about it and to me, that is the description of a book that I have to pick up right away. Somehow I don’t remember ever seeing this book or hearing anything about it although I now know it received much critical acclaim when it was released in 2015.

Robert Peace was born into poverty in Newark, NJ in the 1980s. The book follows his life through predictable and equally unpredictable turns. While there are many spoiler-ish things I can’t reveal about Peace’s story, the fact that he dies an early death is clear from the title. When discussing this book with my friend, she said over and over again, “It’s just that he didn’t have to die.” As I read, her words kept echoing in my mind. It was hard to read this book quickly as the material is heavy but at the same time, it read like a thriller. I knew that something bad was going to happen but I didn’t know what or when so with each turn of the page, I held my breath.

We hear all the time about the cycle of poverty and how hard it is, if you are born into poverty, to escape that cycle. Having never lived in that world, it is tricky to fully understand but this book painted a very vivid picture. Robert Peace is a man that had both every disadvantage and every advantage that a young man could have been given. This book is the story of how he lived his life and ultimately how his life came to a tragic end.

When I turned the last page, I thought back to my friend’s words and wondered. Peace didn’t have to die but also, how could he have lived? I know that sounds a little woo woo and I guess it is but that was my take away. Sadly, I came away from this book feeling pretty darn depressed about the poverty cycle and wondering how on earth it can ever be truly broken.

If you have read The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, please let me know. And if you read it, let me know. This is a book that needs to be discussed.

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Oct 09

A Rebel’s Thoughts For Wednesday

by Stacey

One of my favorite people to follow on Instagram is Hitha Palepu. She is a mom, an investor and a super smart person to follow. Her #5smartreads are part of my must-reads every day. All that said, she wrote something super simple in response to a question on her IG stories the other day that just might have gotten me out of my writing rut. When asked which of Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies (if you are unfamiliar with Rubin’s work, here is a good summary of her Four Tendency framework) she was, she responded ‘rebel/wanna be upholder.’ 

Ah ha!! I’m not sure why I need this reminder all the time but I do. I think I am an upholder- someone who meets both outside and inside expectations. Therefore, I set myself up for routines like ‘Thoughts for Thursday’ blog posts that will keep me to a schedule. But you know what? I am actually a rebel and therefore this structured approach backfires every single time I try it. 

I wish Rubin had chosen a different label for this personality type as I believe most rebels do not actually think they are rebels. Anyone else out there rebelling against their rebel label? Perhaps if I wasn’t picturing that guy from the Breakfast Club in the leather jacket, I would attach more to my actual tendency. And yes, my memory in general and my ‘famous-person-name-recall’ is actually so bad that I have no idea this rebel’s real or fictional name. I’m sure you all can help me out? But anyway, Rubin defines rebels this way- “Rebels resist all expectations, both inner and outer alike. They want to do what they want to do, in their own way, in their own time — and if you ask or tell them to do something, they’re very likely to resist.”

I certainly don’t want to believe this of myself but you know what- the older I get, the more true it is. I was an upholder as a student for sure. But as a regular old adult- I have rebel written all over myself. 

Therefore, after I decided that I would write a weekly blog post titled Thoughts for Thursday, you know what kicked in strong? My rebel tendency with a strong side of perfectionism. And you know what happened then? I didn’t write. Each Thursday recently, I have sat down at my computer or with pen in hand and thought and thought and thought. I had lots of “thoughts on Thursdays” but none of them really seemed ‘good enough’ for the “Thoughts for Thursday” post so I wrote nothing. And then I focused on the picture. If I wrote something would I have the ‘right’ picture to go with the post? To post on IG and FB?

So I am here on a Wednesday instead with some thoughts. And a totally random and unrelated picture. Here’s hoping some more follow soon. 

And in the meantime, here is a link to Rubin’s Four Tendencies Quiz. I would love to know what tendency you are!

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Sep 19

Thoughts for Thursday: September 19

by Stacey

“What is my purpose in life?” I asked the void. 

“What if I told you that you fulfilled it when you took an extra hour to talk to that kid about his life?” said the voice. 

“Or when you paid for that young couple in the restaurant? Or when you saved that dog in traffic? Or when you tied your father’s shoes for him?”

“Your problem is that you equate your purpose with goal-based achievement. The Universe isn’t interested in your achievements…just your heart. When you choose to act out of kindness, compassion and love, you are already aligned with your true purpose.

No need to look any further!” 

-raise.the.vibe.tribe

You know when you are scrolling Instagram thinking about how much time you are wasting scrolling on Instagram? Earlier this week, I was doing this very thing when I stumbled upon a reminder of why sometimes scrolling is not a waste of time after all.

A friend posted the quote above to her stories and I stopped short. So many of my conversations of late have focused on purpose. By virtue of the fact that our children are getting older, my friends and I are looking at larger swatches of time when our children simply do not need us. Many of us have not worked outside of the home for all these years and now, we can’t stop thinking about how we should be filling this new found time. I feel guilty that I am not financially contributing to our family at this point and truthfully, I feel bored. But beyond that, I feel something a little bit bigger. What is my purpose right now?

Yesterday, I read an old high school friend’s bio. I have lost touch with her and while I knew she was a doctor, I didn’t know all details. I won’t list them here but let’s just say that the word impressive does not do her justice. As I read her long list of accomplishments, I found myself justifying my choices and crossing my fingers that, when I got to the end of the article, I would learn that she had no children. Mean-spirited but true. I would feel somehow ‘better’ if she had achieved all she had professionally at the expense of creating a family. I’m sure you can see where this is going. She has three girls including a set of twins.

I know that reading the quote above will not stop my head from spinning. It won’t stop me from desperately trying to find that ever elusive high paying job that you can complete between the hours of nine and one only on the days when school is in session. But I am grateful that for a minute I was able to stop and realize that there are things that I do everyday that are important. There are things that I do that would not show up in my professional bio but maybe, in the grand scheme of things, they are things that matter to the universe.

 

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