Nove

Speaking of Staten Island, I have a good amount of family living there. Most live in the Huguenot section, but we have some relatives who live on Todt Hill and Grymes Hill. Staten Island is an interesting place. I’m not quite sure it is a place I’d ever want to live, but I have spent many hours there. Back in the day, our family even operated a warehouse in the Port Richmond area. But over time, they moved everything to New jersey, because the tolls went from $4 to almost twenty.

Staten Island News shows just how much the island is like a small town. If your daughter is having a Sweet Sixteen, it will probably make the paper. But don’t be fooled. There are close to a half million people living on Staten Island, and it’s only getting more congested by the year.

I don’t want you, dear reader, to get the wrong impression. Staten Island is a part of New York City, one of the five counties that make up NYC. And while the island is mostly bedroom communities, Staten Island still has a lot to offer. If you’re a beachcomber, there are miles and miles of shoreline. If you are looking for Broadway, antique shops, and culture, you probably want to hit Manhattan, instead.

I’ve never lived on Staten Island, and I don’t regret it. Just not my thing. We grew up in Livingston, New jersey. But Staten Island does have some interesting cultural spots, like the Tibetan Museum and Sailor’s Sung Harbor. These are really gems and unique spots.

But, for the most part, it’s just houses and more houses. I’ve been to every neighborhood driving around with my cousins, and I’d say that, for the most part, that’s what Staten Island is.

I am not knocking Staten Island. There are some really beautiful areas. It’s just that the traffic makes traveling on the island a mess. Why would I want to move to a place where I have to sacrifice over twenty hours a week trying to get back and forth to anyplace else?

Staten Island news also includes the latest in shopping malls set to open. I kid you not. I forgot to tell you that part. There are about a million shopping centers, way too many for the size of the borough. Everyone talks about new shopping malls set to open like it’s some amazing thing. If you’re getting the impression that Staten Island is somewhat devoid of meaningful culture, you might be onto something.

Grymes Hill is breathtaking. My cousin lives up there, in a villa that looks straight out of Italy. Her views are of the Atlantic Ocean, and she gets to see the sun rise over the water each morning. You’d never believe you are within the city limits. NYC never looked so incredible.

But again, if we are going to meet for brunch, she’s always late. The highways on Staten Island are a parking lot, and there isn’t much you can do about it. It builds Patience. Even visiting, I get antsy sitting there in traffic. And, it’s not just rush hour. It’s most hours that people are awake. I’ve driven to my cousins’ homes at night and it’s only thirty minutes away. But during the day, it’s an hour-and-a-half.

Traffic is really a big issue for Staten Islanders. The main highway was redesigned a few years ago. They removed some exits and entrances, and added others. It did very little to alleviate the traffic issues. The thing is, Staten Island did not develop in any kind of way that you could say was methodical or planned. The infrastructure cannot keep up, and the building boom never ends.

The worst part of it all, they removed these overpasses that passed over the highway, some project that was abandoned in the 1960s. It was a great vista for taking in the views. Of course, the overpasses did not affect traffic in the least, though it was claimed that they were an obstruction to drivers.

I am not making fun of Staten Island. It’s truly a unique place, and my cousins insist they’d never move, even with the sky-high property taxes, traffic, and other NYC-related issues. To me, it’s just an odd place that I enjoy visiting, but whenever I’m driving back home, I am thankful that I didn’t end up rooted there. My own parents never said a good thing about Staten Island, and thought my relatives living there were insane. My father was adamantly opposed to the warehouse staying on Staten Island, and that’s part of the reason we moved that facility to Linden, New Jersey.

Otto

My great-uncle Tomasso just called, speaking of the devil. Nah, my uncle is a sweetheart. But he is tough.

Cross our family, and my uncle will come at you full force, utilizing all the resources we have.

My cousin Billy had gotten in trouble with the law a few years back. Relatives were fuming, and blamed him.

My uncle managed to get surveillance footage from a nearby business, and it turns out, Billy was in the right, and did nothing wrong.

Uncle Tomasso is a strange fellow. He makes me uncomfortable. Maybe it’s his piercing light blue eyes? Maybe it’s his serious manner?

Regardless, he is a great example of caring in action. The funny thing is, I noticed how quickly most other relatives were to believe the media reports. Shows you something, no?

Uncle Tomasso was the only one who believed Billy when he said he wasn’t guilty of what he was being accused of.

Being level-headed, Uncle Tomasso tried to find witnesses, then checked out the area of the alleged crime himself, and found that there were four cameras operating in the area, each run by a different business. He managed to get three out of four video files.

If it were not for him, Billy would be serving time for crimes he did not commit.

Sette

Charity. It’s a word that makes me cringe. There is just so much fraud in the charity sphere. I guess you could say I am disillusioned with most charities. Each year, I give over $50,000 to charity. The big question is, how do I decide what is worthy of my goodwill. There are a few resources that might help. Give Well is a website that can help you find charities that do a lot with a little bit.

There are really no set answers on how to give. Firstly, make sure you choose a charity that represents your personal values. If your faith is a big part of what you wish to help, but then give to a charity that actually pushes an atheist agenda, you’ve gone wrong. Same for if you’re a vegan and end up supporting a charity that is all for hunters and meat eating.

Be sure you call a charity on the phone before you give a single red cent. If they can’t get someone high up to talk with you, consider giving your money to someone else. When I first started donating, I was only nineteen. I had no clue, and didn’t want to listen to those who were older and more experienced in these matters.

I regretted it. The charity I chose ended up spending 90% of their donations on operations, that is just collecting donations and keeping the office running. So, it’s important to find a charity you believe in, but also a charity that is about making as much change as is possible with the resources they end up with.

It isn’t enough to THINK you’re doing good. You really have to reach out and find out where your money is going. The same is true if you’re donating and it’s in-kind donations. Like used clothes. I am not going to get into all the details, but investigate for yourself. You are going to be shocked that your donations are not going where you think they are going.

It’s a real travesty. You won’t want to just give your clothes to anyone after you look into the matter, I assure you! For Clothing donations on Staten Island, for example, I found that many of the charities are not giving away the clothes. I also found that many of the clothing and shoe drop boxes are not even run by nonprofits. I have a cousin who lives on Staten Island, and she was interested in donating about thirty huge contractor bags worth of used clothes, from herself and her husband, and their three girls.

Like myself, she’s a .1% owner of our family company, and between her job, her husband’s job, and their annual $50,000 cheque from the family business, they have a lot, and want to share it with those less fortunate. But it was not to be. It turned out, after about ten hours of work sorting, the “charity” that came to pick up the clothes gives exactly 0% of the clothes they collect to families in need. My cousin was livid, and that’s when she first found out about GiveWell. There are other places that also rate charities, but it’s a good start.

When a charity, or even for-profit business, collects clothing and sells everything for a profit, rather than clothing people who are less fortunate, it’s a real travesty. OK; one such charity to avoid is Planet Aid. I am 100% certain you’ve seen their yellow drop boxes. But are they really doing good? They collect $40 million dollars of clothing, annually. But in an FBI file on Planet Aid’s parent organization also obtained by NBC, investigators wrote that “Little to no money goes to the charities.”

What you’re actually supporting when you give to Planet Aid is a collectivist cult. How could this be? These bins are everywhere, spread across every town I’ve been to in New Jersey, as well as Staten Island. Members of the cult must “transfer all their available income to joint savings,” and “forgo their personal rights, such as the right to start a family to their own wish.” Huh?! I thought we were feeding needy kids! What the hell?!

And, that’s just ONE charity we looked into. My great-uncle had a family meeting about this. He is actively involved in our family’s businesses, not just a leech like myself and most of the cousins. He advised his kids, and all the cousins, to stop donating money to charities that no one has looked up, charities that don’t check out. He also said that we’d be better off burning our old clothes than donating to most of the outfits that accept used clothes.

His own son thought his Dad was going overboard, but my uncle, successful businessman as he is, had a slide presentation ready. There were about 35 relatives at his home, and we watched a presentation he prepared himself outside in the yard, on their giant projection screen.

If you ever wanted to see a bunch of pissed off Norwegian-Italian-Americans, this was it. Some cousins were ready to confront the charities with poor habits, but my uncle discouraged this. He said it could impact our family brands if the association ever came out. You have to be careful in this day and age. One wrong statement by a company owner, and it’s cancelled.

So how is it that no one knows, and we all give our clothes and money to scam artists? I think it’s because there is no way that a person could ever know that these charities are not so charitable. It blows my mind, but some of these clothing drop boxes are run by for-profit companies. At least in New York, such clothing and shoe drops now require that the operator state such if it’s the case. Still, it does little good. The boxes are still everywhere, in every shopping center, even on church property. It makes me livid.

You don’t know the half of it. I just wrote a little bit. Go down the rabbit hole yourself and find out just how crazy all this nonprofit stuff is. I am disillusioned. I don’t think I’m ever going to trust a charity again, until I have the facts on what they do and how they do it. Bottom line: Whether you’re donating $50,000 or $50, don’t do it until you KNOW your hard-earned money is going somewhere that makes sense to you.

If you think I am some rich snob who just throws money away, you’re wrong. I may possess some wealth, but I want every dollar to do good.

Sei

What’s life really all about? Ask one hundred people, you’ll get one hundred different answers. To me, life is all about just BEING. Not being this or that, just pure being. Life is not about making money, developing skills, or anything else. It’s about being alive. Strangely, it seems many people actually miss this point.

People strive for material success only to find that they are not happy even after they’ve earned their first million, their first ten million. And, while having an opulent home can be nice, it isn’t bringing anyone lasting joy.

Life is for the living. And living people should savor the moments life brings. For me, it’s all about the sun. I love going to the beach and getting sun. I don’t care about a tan, in fact I could care less. But the sun just does something positive to me. Going in the sun, your body makes more than just Vitamin D. There’s also melatonin, and thousands of other chemicals.

For me, getting enough sun is a challenge, as my family is originally from Northern Europe, by way of Italy. I can tan, but I have to take it slow.

Cinque

So if health is essential, what can I do to improve my situation? One idea is baths. I am from Norway, and in my family’s homeland, baths and saunas are a key to healthy living. That’s why I am having an infra-rad sauna installed in my home. The workers will be here next Monday. I can’t wait.

But what else can I do? I know taking baths with Epsom Salt is a good idea. And, for those on a limited budget, it’s cheap, also.

Those are just two ideas. I know that eating a balanced diet is essential. But what does that mean to me, at the age of 56? What does it mean to an athlete of 30? I don’t really know what “eating right” even means, anymore.

Then, there’s exercise and fitness. I walk daily. I do Hatha yoga twice, daily. But that’s clearly not enough, as I am not in the shape I want to be. I am a larger woman. I’m not trying to lose weight. I am really trying to gain endurance more than anything else.

Then, there’s massage. I’ve never really had massages regularly enough to notice much improvement. But what if in-home massage is the key to helping me reach my (presently) unattainable goals?

I am having my back room transformed into a fitness studio. That includes free weights, weight machines, a sauna, and a massage room that can accommodate two. You may think that this is putting the cart before the horse, but in reality, I know that I need massage, and having a place to get it done will make it happen.

The massage spa is going to have two tables, so I can get Couples Massages at home with my friends. There is also going to be a water fountain in the corner. It’s all going to be very zen. Everything is white tile, and the massage tables are going to be heated. There is a laundry chute for used linens that leads down to the basement laundry room. The massage area is also going to have small cabana-like changing rooms complete with tanning beds, toilets, and cots.

I do love massage. Don’t get me wrong. But going to the spa is not an option for me. I am a very busy woman, and don’t think quitting my main job will free up a lot of time. I also paint and am making a name for myself in the art world. I keep busy. I do not know the meaning of the term “spare time.”

I am going all out for this project, because it’s worth it. I want to make a change in my life. I mean, a clean break. Like, a total change.

I found a company that does plants. Like,that’s ALL they do. They are building a plant wall that is going to be eighteen feet high! The room I chose is amazing.

It’s a part of my house that has no second floor, and so the ceilings in my new fitness studio are 25 feet! I am also putting in a hot tub. Punching out some additional windows so the space gets tons of natural light. And, I’m getting 1000 gallon aquariums to line the wall, but the tanks will be accessible from a hallway. I didn’t want the water from the fish tank evaporating into the fitness studio.

I’m also making a yoga area. It’s pretty simple. But one cool thing I am getting for that area is heated flooring. There will be enough space for about six women to do yoga at once. I am making a change in my life. That much is clear. I want to make it so that I can rise, and not be encumbered in any way.

Lastly, I am getting an entire wall replaced with a sliding door. The door is twelve feet high and fifteen feet long. Incredibly, it’s about $30,000, but as I see it, it’s worth every penny. The fitness room will open up to my yard, where I have an Olympic-sized swimming pool and an outdoor hot tub.

The coolest feature I am ordering is a stone floor for the area near the plants. The reason? There are going to be automated misters for the plants, and so the wooden floor cannot stay in that area and has to be ripped out. The room, as it is right now, is a glorified sun room. It’s a waste of space.

The only other thing I want is an indoor trampoline. When I told my contractor this, he literally laughed in my face. After that, I found a new contractor who believes in dreams.

The ceiling is so high, it is definitely doable. But I don’t want to stop there. I am getting a retractable ceiling over the trampoline. So, theoretically, my neighbors will be able to see me rising above the trees, popping out of my house every ten seconds, all 230 pounds of me! I love the idea.

Finally, the planters along the walls opposite the sliding glass doors are going to be imported Italian marble, a variety that very few people see in the States. My family owns a mine in Carrara and my cousin Giuseppe is hooking me up! What I’m getting isn’t even from our own mine. This is actually better. I have to have it shipped, and I co-ordinated with my cousin for delivery at Port Newark. I have to rent two shipping containers to fit it all. My family moved to Italy, Argentina, and the United States from Norway, back in 1950. After Italy, many later moved to the U.S., including my parents, in 1961.

I figure, if I make my fitness room the most amazing room in my home, I will spend lots of time there. It’s a good theory. I hope it pans out that way in real life. I know I want more light! I see these ridiculous museum-looking mansions in Bel Air on YouTube, and I think they’re mostly hideous.

The last thing I am getting is a shallow indoor pool. It’s like a foot of water, and will be done in the 100% authentic imported Italian marble. It’s like a bed you can lie in or sit up in and just enjoy the water flow. We’re even creating a waterfall using the marble. I intend to do the yoga Corpse Position in the water. I can’t do that in the pool, obviously.

The last detail is the coolest. We are gutting out the floor, about ten by ten, right in the center of the room. There is going to be a Bodhi tree growing up from the basement, where I am putting a garden lit by these light tubes that bring in light from the roof. It’s all going to be so incredible.

I do not have the funds for an on-staff massage therapist. Already, I have a housekeeper who comes twice weekly, and a cook who makes me meals four days a week and drops them off. I can’t really afford to keep a massage therapist on the payroll! So, I am going to have to start testing the various mobile massage companies that will travel to Northern New Jersey. I am looking for massage therapy that is more akin to medical massage, or sports training massage. And of course, the vibe and spiritual element has to be right.

I guess the gig’s up? lol As you may have guessed, I am a member of the leisure class. My family has a good deal of assets. This house was gifted to me by my parents when I turned thirty. It’s worth seven figures, though very low seven figures, to be honest. I have my art studio here, and I also have a garage where I work on cars. (you read that right.) And create sculptures.

I am an artist, formally trained at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. I use my time to develop my artwork, my personal style, and my approach. Should I be angry that I come from generational wealth? Hardly. My family escaped Europe and oppression there. Our fortune was won with sweat, hard work, a few lucky coincidences, and as my grandmother told me, an attitude that made quitting impossible. My grandparents were, by no means, privileged.

They worked hard, pooled their assets with their cousins, and never gave up. My grandfather had a seventy hour workweek. My family had a few ventures. One was a small hotel in Sicily, another in Long Island in the Hamptons, and a third in Argentina. Another was an import/export company. The marble quarry came later. I am actually a part owner, but only in name. I think my percentage of ownership is like .1%. I get a cheque yearly for about $50,000, on average. Not bad. It doesn’t pay the bills and I usually donate the entire amount to charity, anyway. My inheritance is a lot more. Still, I work, because it’s in my blood and upbringing.

But if I don’t utilize my assets to make my life better, what can I do? I am long-divorced, my kids are grown up and each is successful in their field. I can’t complain. But I do want to pursue wellness, full time. It’s my house, not my ex-husband’s. Part of the inheritance stipulated this.

Quattro

The year is strange.

I mean the change of seasons.

It’s all unique.

For me, it’s all about late Spring and early Summer. I love the beach, even though I’m of Norwegian ancestry and can’t tan for crap.

Actually, I start out at five minutes and increase by five minutes each time I’m out in the sun.

Still, I burn after only a half hour, no matter what. I find that the sun actually invigorates me.

Back to the health thing.

Is that successful peoples’ secret to success?

The more I look into it, the more I think it is.

Tre

Is it good health? I’ve noticed it takes a lot of hard work to succeed. Elon Musk works 100 hours a week!

What if he had stomach troubles?

Or autoimmune disease?

He would be lying in bed, dreaming about rockets. I know this is a hidden factor many ignore.

How many people, otherwise set to reach the stars, are hobbled in life by health conditions?

I’ve noticed, having worked in human resources, that at company after company, all the employees were hale and healthy, fit and ready to run a marathon.

Due

Yes; I am using Italian to number my blogs. Italian is my second language, but I am rusty since the elders in my family have passed. I remember how happy my maternal grandmother was when I came to her house able to carry on a conversation in Italian.

I was in middle school, and I was enjoying learning a new language. I had an interest. Perhaps it’s an interest that makes people succeed? I didn’t write that in the first blog post, but I think it’s a reality. Maybe it’s having fun? Back to that Elon dude, you know he’s just out there having fun, right?

Uno

Have you ever wondered what greatness is all about? I mean, what really makes a person great? What makes a man or woman shun mediocrity and decide to go for the gold, hell with the risks and sacrifices? I think it’s sheer boredom. Some souls are restless and can’t imagine a life of just being merely…average. Some aspire to greatness. This blog is all about that. I want to explore these ideas. I want to understand what it takes to succeed, but phenomenally. What really sets a person above the crowd? Is it hard work? Creativity? A strong work ethic? Luck?

Let’s look at Elon Musk. The dude knows a thing or two about cars, rockets, crypto, and so much more. Is that why he succeeded? Or was it delegating responsibility to truly responsible parties? Maybe it was his humor? This is a lot to unpack. Firstly, I’m not a Musk fan-boy. I’m a girl. I’m not a Musk fan-girl, either! I think he’s cool, just because he sets his mind on a goal and somehow accomplishes it.

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