Life

My Last Name (Ode to Stepparents & Nurturers)

I find our histories, our coats of many colors, so utterly beautiful—they’re real and they’re ours and here we are being exactly us, doing what we’re able to do with the those very threads of life experience (and the *people* who loved us) living inside us —

“So, it says Mandel page 1 and Mandel page 2 in the header, but how do I get it to…”, he said to Josh…

I heard that and paused the work I was doing and took a photo to remember the thoughts/feelings that shot through me in that moment (that pic in the comments).

I couldn’t help but focus on the name (his last name) that came out of Nolan’s mouth as I watched Josh help Nolan with a science lab report that’s due today before he starts Spring Break.

For some reason, likely everything happening right now and my heart further opening to all possibilities and realities around the world, I focused on the last name that came out of Nolan’s mouth.

I kept watching my husband — the present father who lives in him — made up of all his specific life experiences, help his son, who also, (already) is made up of *his* own specific life experiences…

I felt gratitude.

Josh was adopted by what you and I might call his stepdad — Josh took his last name when he was 18, and I, too, was adopted by mine around the same time, taking on my own new last name.

Though we each felt pain at not having the relationship we wanted with our biological fathers, here we are and there we were with men who showed up in our lives to s h o w up.

When Josh and I met 22 years ago, we realized we had these similar threads to our greater life stories and in that, we felt seen and connected to one another…

But, before the connection to one another, we had already felt deeply connected to what happens inside of a human (or, a pup — Holland is adopted, too,✌🏽) when you feel a part of something.

Our names, each of them, no matter what the exact story is they hold, do exactly that ~ they hold the range of available rays of the realness of life…the pain, the grief, the joy, the hope.

I’m holding onto that last one for longer (always)…hope.

Deep to our core and held by names given, taken, changed, or added (and by people gone and come and stayed), as well as held inside the history of each of our family books had that key ingredient baked into it –

Hope.

Of that I’m sure.

We wouldn’t be here otherwise.

Make happiness (or peace or gentleness) your business — especially now during quarantine.

Life is good,

 

 

 

Michelle Ghilotti
Success Designer, Brand Activator & Social Entrepreneur 

Be Taken (& Madly) By THIS…

Unfortunately, it can be or feel easy-ish to lose the part of ourselves who is actually talented.

But we can refrain from losing ourselves inside what society says or what we believe we need to do to keep up with our neighbors by letting ourselves be taken by our own inner “neighborhood”/our own company again…

— getting to know ourselves so well that we are not afraid to be alone, or too timid to be more expressed or express-ive in the ways it comes naturally for us or to get out from underneath stagnancy.

Nature, in all the ways she’s there for us will always look to aid in returning us to center or equilibrium, and, therefore, to the high truth of all situations and to who we are when all the fluff (or the physical existence or physical body) is gone.

It’s vital for vital signs to get out (and go without many creature comforts, even) to return back in.

🩺

Nature meets or matches who we are — gets us clear, again, on who we are creatively, around what brings us meaning, to what our primary talents are (the thing that’s the most natural extension of us) and how to get and stay after it all.

I had someone take me out to new spots here in LA recently and here we are, or more, here I am, at peace and alive with it all.

No matter where we each live, we live in a gorgeous place — that goes for our minds, our bodies and natural abilities too. :))

#creativeheroine
#brandofwoman

Make happiness your business by creating your authentic brand…enjoy your business, enjoy your life!

Life is good,

 

 

 

Michelle Ghilotti
Success Designer, Brand Activator & Social Entrepreneur 

It Took Me Coming To Prison

I took a break to finally eat part of my lunch while the group was still going on inside.

It’s curious how long you can go during these visits without eating because you’re more or most hungry for the connection you’ve brought to share and partake in (the idea of this new type of hunger is etched in my cells since fasting solo in the wild for the four days I’ve shared about before and definitely, too, since the visit most recently with His Holiness).

The type of connection I experience here each time is of a brand that stops time. It’s the kind that has made me realize, again and again, what is needed to feel fulfilled in life, no matter what the circumstances and the longing we have of realizing the best of who we are emotionally, creatively and intellectually and being part of helping others realize the same (it’s amazing, but not surprising how my business and brand work with women, this work or even the hospice and refugee work I’ve done all points to the same thing ~ building and developing the self and being more fully seen).

We don’t all deserve to realize the best of who we are today, WE ARE MEANT TO, also and again, no matter the circumstances…

I took my second bite standing outside the hallway that leads onto the yard, looking at each detail more intently than I had at any other visit.

I took in the buildings ~ the dark grey/blue painted A2, A3, A4 numbers, how the gates and barbed wire roll and work, the hues of the guards’ uniforms, the way the bumpy asphalt felt under my feet, how the three, five, then nine, 10, 11, 12 and 13 CO’s stood (in this almost meditative moment, I counted each one), leaned onto the side of the building or drank their coffee and their varying expressions and body language…

This particular place ~ the yard ~ is the place where the guys play basketball, soccer, or volleyball or do burpees, squats or push-ups once a day (as a result of the Compassion Prison Project, the guys told us that basketball games now sometimes happen across race or color lines, the Hispanic guys now play with the African-American guys and vice-versa (this is very big)).

I had seen guys working out in all of the above ways throughout my visits to Kern. But today the yard was eerily quiet due to the lock-down (happens often and this day it was due to a staff shortage).

I was captivated (I’m choosing this word and no other word deliberately) by one sun-stained soccer ball cuddling up to an old net. I consciously allowed myself a long look at that ball, and, maybe not so surprisingly, felt Nolan (I’ve felt him with me most visits, or more specifically, I SEE Nolan in these men)…

In them, I see the young boys still inside…the boys whose houses were not homes — where love, respect and communication were not served at breakfast, lunch or dinner. I see the boys who needed and/or begged for time, to feel safe and supported and to be shown a different way to feel important, heard or powerful.

I also see in them the conscious, emotionally-available and mindful men they are and continue to become…

I see in them all of who they are and I honor the young, the wise, the strong and the vulnerable in them (I also honor the joyful —the life— in them, as these photos of them show).

I would be leaving something out if I didn’t say that it all means a lot, so much that it’s hard to express, to the heart inside this woman who is raising a young man.

It brings up questions, answers, more questions and rather simply, love (in all the ways this can be expressed with affection and guidelines/boundaries and loads of continued conversation) ~ wanting to bring even more of all of it into the life of my guy here at home and more, way more, into the lives of the men at Kern and other prisons.

I stared at the ball for a while longer and my eyes teared up, as they often do during our shares during circle.

Nolan continued to be there, and it reminded me of something I got clear on inside the grief journey after Dino and my Mom passed ~ what if we treated the next person we communed with as the very person we have lost?

In this case, what if in seeing the adult, we also always saw or honored the kid?❤️

Direct shares from two of our guys:
“It’s not about the physical food you bring us, it’s what you guys teach us, you guys are redefining us. You are taking off the protective armor, the pride, the fear and the anger…”

“It took me coming to prison to get to know my mom to be able to forgive her.”❤️

Make happiness your business by creating your authentic brand…enjoy your business, enjoy your life!

Life is good,

 

 

 

Michelle Ghilotti
Success Designer, Brand Activator & Social Entrepreneur 

Video Of My Living Room Now…

Living rooms all around the world are finally being lived in. ⁣

The furniture has been moved, the music on most often, bikes being fixed right there where they may not have been allowed before, each corner of it respectfully loved up, with more candles on and chocolate chip crumbs falling on the floor while dear mister mechanic fixes said bikes, but that part doesn’t matter, did you enjoyyy the cookie? ⁣

⁣❤️

And the light — it’s there, it’s *still* there, you needn’t even invite it in. It simply shows up on cue every day to remind you it lives. That there’s life to be lived…⁣

In these living rooms turned loving rooms (with a little or a lot of “how are we going to do this with the kid(s) home through Summer?” and hey, let me take care of myself when I have to go to the market (because: your bad asthma) and feeling all sorts of ways for so many people, those we know and those we don’t know #tenderheart), we’re getting stronger through it all…we want to be better inside it, through it and on the other side.⁣

May we continue to feel and see the truth of our lives, where we maybe had it wrong, where we can give more, where we can be gentler with ourselves, where we were getting it right (!) — and what and who are most importantly. ⁣

Let us not forget.⁣

⁣🛋 ⁣

You can find the recordings of the last call (#3) by clicking here and here, (the first link is the video live stream and the second is the call recording that we did at the same time).

❤️

Make happiness (or peace or gentleness) your business — even now, during quarantine.

Life is good,

 

 

 

Michelle Ghilotti
Success Designer, Brand Activator & Social Entrepreneur