Stacey Loscalzo

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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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Sep 05

Thoughts for Thursday

by Stacey

Like so many of you, September is my new year. Although I am no longer a student or an educator (officially at least!), I still feel like the new year begins in September. The girl’s first full day of school was yesterday and I am ready to have a schedule and do my best to focus on goals of my own. One of those goals, is to get back to writing regularly and publically…so here goes. When I promise to write every day, I disappoint myself every time so for now, I am aiming to write a post once a week. Think some general thoughts, book recommendations, what I am loving and more. And I am going to call it Thoughts for Thursday cause I had the idea in the grocery store last week and I am sticking with it 🙂

SOME THOUGHTS…

One of my favorite people to follow on-line is Jessica Smock, who writes at her site, School of Smock. Jessica describes herself as a “mom of two young kids, a former teacher and educational researcher and an imperfect parent.” Given this description, it is no wonder that nearly everything Jessica posts resonates with me in some way.

A few days ago, Jessica shared the image above on her Facebook group and I quickly scribbled ‘write about Jessica’s post’ on one of the many scraps of paper that litter our kitchen counter. Surprising noone, the paper got lost and I forgot about it. Then Katherine came home from her first day of eighth grade and told us that her teachers had started talking about high school and class placements. On the first day of eighth grade.

Sigh.

It is my wish that all of us- parents and teachers included- could let our kids be kids. Let them be who they are right now. I do know that I fail at this sometimes too and in many ways I am getting worse at it instead of better. True confession: I nagged Caroline to do SAT prep work last night on the second day of school and months before she will take the test. It is so easy to get focused on children’s futures instead of just letting them be who they are right then.

So a huge thank you to Jessica Smock for the reminder above.

A FAVORITE THING…

A few times a week, I am lucky enough to practice  yoga with Coach Stroker, a retired teacher, coach and all around local legend. His classes are all about building a tribe of like minded people who love sharing thoughts and community with a little bit of yoga thrown in for good measure.

Last week, Coach Stroker shared this video and I wish the whole world could see it. Click here to watch and I dare you not to cry.

In my imagination, these weekly posts are longer but I am knee deep in planning a huge fundraiser for Caroline’s soccer team on Saturday so that is all the writing I have in me today. To be continued 🙂

 

 

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Aug 20

An App Can’t Fix the Childhood Obesity Crisis

by Stacey

I had heard rumblings about a new Weight Watchers app for kids but hadn’t understood the specifics until last night when my sister in law sent me an Instagram post to read. And now I am mad. 

I know we have an obesity problem in America. I get that. And I am not blaming Weight Watchers, as a business, for trying to make money by addressing a problem. They are after all, a business. But encouraging young children- as young as eight years old- to diet, is not the answer. Beyond the fact that this app will lead to disordered eating in younger and younger children, an app will do nothing to address what I see, as the root causes of this problem. In this country, we are obsessed (not only with dieting) but with targeting the symptoms of a problem instead of the cause. 

Admittedly, I have not done the research, but I am now curious to study the correlation between obesity and socioeconomic status. We live in an affluent town. We can afford to feed our kids all the food. And you know who I don’t see in our schools, on our sports fields or walking through town? Obese kids. Do I know exactly why, from a scientific and economic standpoint? No. But I can take a few guesses. 

We have the money to afford healthy foods. 

We have access to healthy foods. For example, on Sunday we went to the farmers market at the train station for produce and bread. We went to Fairway for shrimp. We went to Whole Foods for steak. And we went to Kings for all the other things. Other weekends, we will throw in Trader Joe’s and Stop and Shop for good measure. And we have to travel no more than ten minutes to reach any of these places. 

We have access to education. And we have the money to afford this education. If we or our children run into issues with eating a healthy diet, we have the ability to talk to nutritionists or doctors about how to prepare and encourage our children to eat more healthy foods. 

We have access to exercise. We have easy access to more fitness centers and sports programs than we know what to do with. If our children need help to get moving, we have the access and the money to make that happen. 

We have time. We have the time to research, purchase and prepare healthy foods. We have time to take our children to fitness centers or drive them to practices and games. 

So maybe instead of creating apps that will encourage disordered eating in small children, we should really dig in our heels and address the real problems in our country. First, access to healthy foods and exercise for all. And then the big one- breaking the cycle of poverty. 

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Jul 08

Happy 16th Birthday Caroline!

by Stacey

As I sit and write this post, you have just landed at JFK after celebrating a friend’s own sweet 16. You were gone for 5 days in a foreign country and as you know, I missed you an awful lot. You had traveled without me before. To overnight camps and on school trips. You’ve flown without us and been gone for much longer periods of time. For some reason though, this one got me. I spent a lot of time thinking about why and I think one reason might be because it was a glimpse in to our very near future. The one in which you are more on your own then dependent on us.

Of course, raising independent humans is what we are striving for as parents but looking up one day to realize just how independent your once baby has become, can be hard. Sometimes you think I am too strict with you. Well, all the time you think that I am too strict with you. You wonder why I don’t trust you when over and over again, you prove that you make smart decisions. And I know you are right. I shouldn’t worry. You have grown into an amazing sixteen year old girl who is deserving of all our trust. (Note: I still will worry so don’t use this post against me in the future.)

This past year, you set many lofty goals for yourself and you met each and every one. From making the varsity soccer team to qualifying for Deca nationals. To excelling in a course load that I feared was way too intense. To writing for the high school paper. I worried (Hmmm- I’m sensing a theme) that you were doing too much but again and again, you proved that you could accomplish everything you set out to do.

All these accomplishments are amazing of course but it’s the other stuff that makes me the happiest. In all of your activities and all of your classes, you make the most amazing friends. People that you may share a common interest with or maybe just someone who makes you laugh. When you were little, I remember a friend of mine saying that come high school, you were the kind fo person that people would gravitate toward. She said that people would just want to be with you. And you know what? She was right. All people, kids and grown ups, like having you around. I don’t think there is anything more I would ever hope for a person.

And I am proud to say that this extends to your family. So often, you hear tales of teenagers who are either fighting with everyone in the house or locked up in their room. Sure, we’ve had a few slammed doors around here this year (see paragraph two re: strictness) but for the most part, we really don’t fight. And when you are home, you like to be with us and we all like to be with you. The relationship that you have with Katherine makes me happier than you will ever know. You are really each other’s closest friend and it watching you choose to be with each other is just the best.

So here’s to another amazing year, sweet girl. I truly can not wait to see what this year will bring.

Happy Sweet 16 baby girl. I love you.

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Apr 10

Happy 13th Birthday Katherine!

by Stacey

Dear Katherine,

It’s the day before your birthday as I sit and write this letter. Earlier today I went to Party City to get balloons as we will celebrate your birthday at breakfast tomorrow. This early celebration will happen because you will be at dance rehearsal until long past dinner on the day you turn 13. This feels both weird and totally logical at the same time- a reminder of this liminal space you hold. You are still a child who will love coming downstairs to see the table decorated with balloons and confetti but with each day you are becoming more and more the adult you will soon be.

I’m not sure how it is that you are turning thirteen. Each year when I write these letters, I shake my head in confusion that you could possibly be so old but this year, objectively, is a big one. You will be a teenager. We no longer have any children in the house. That said, part of what I love the most about you is your ability to be both mature and so fun loving. I was talking with one of your favorite dance teachers last night about your maturity but then also about your ability to be with girls younger than you and still have a great time. This is pretty unique behavior for a teenager. You have always followed your instincts and surrounded yourself with people who make you feel happy regardless of their age or who their friends are or what your friends think of them. You are fiercely independent in your choice of friends and it is something special to watch.

This year has been such a huge year of emotional growth for you. You have found your voice and the strength to use it. For years, you were more of an observer during family conversations. You would always tell me your opinion on things but more often than not, you would wait until we were alone. Now, you are are active part of our conversations and I love hearing your thoughts (and of course your quiet humor) mixed in to our discussions.

Academically, you continue to grow as well. I love watching you make a plan to get all your work done before you leave for the studio. You often have to juggle a lot and you have created a way to plan ahead and get everything done in the limited amount of time you have. You still say you don’t love school but you are telling us more stories about things you learn and conversations you are having in the classroom.

And of course, I can’t write a birthday letter without mentioning how much you, as a dancer, inspire me and everyone around you. Your dedication and commitment to your art are truly remarkable. Each year it seems that you find a way to work harder than the year before. While I change my mind about my loves every time the wind blows (or at least sometimes it feels this way), you have never wavered. From your years as a tiny girl, you have promised that you will dance professionally one day. I used to think that this might be a passing phase but with each year, your resolve grows stronger. You are laser focused on your goal and all your hard work shows. You are beautiful to watch on stage. I never tire of it.

So… Happy Birthday baby girl. May today and this year be all that you want it to be.

 

 

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