Category Archives: Family Fridays

Surrounded

“That’s what a great friend is: Someone who looks out for you when you’ve forgotten to look out for yourself. Find these superwomen, love them and let them love you” – Alicia Keys

That quote summarizes my life. I am part of this amazingly powerful, courageously vulnerable and overall badass group of women. Women from all walks of my life, who look, sound and feel differently than I do. Some are right here in Philly and some are across the country. Regardless of distance, they’re my go to at anytime even when it’s not convenient, ever-growing tribe.

There are many days when I sit back and admire this fierce lady tribe of mine. Members of the group have actually caught me staring at them smiling. Creepy, I know, but I’m not apologizing. I’m often in awe of how exceptional these women are and that ALL of them are in my corner. How in the world could I be this blessed?!

Note: I have some great men in my life too; that’s another post for another time. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been surrounded by a village. A village of strong, kind, brave, fun women. My mother created this village and filled it with other positive role models: Her mom (my grandmother), her sister (my godmother), various cousins and her best friends. I was the first born for my mom and her friends. I became their doll, perhaps their practice baby and that place of distinction hasn’t changed almost 30 years later. These women, mom included, set the standard for how I view friendship. They have, time and time again, shown up for each other, to celebrate, to grieve, to support. It is unconditional love at its best.

My mom monitored this village as I grew up. The older I got, the less control she had. Yet, she encouraged its growth, stating “you can never have too many people who love you.” That stuck.

Fast forward to present day, here I am with my extraordinary girl gang because my mom cultivated this love abundance mindset in me. She is grateful I have other women in my life to look out for me, take me to dinner or listen to me. Yes mom, you’re always #1, they know that too.

One of the tribe members leaned over my cubicle the other day and said “Everyone deserves someone who looks out for them the way you look out for me.” It’s like she knew I was writing this post (she didn’t). That my friends is what cultivating your own group of superwomen is about. I can’t give you a set of bullets to explain how these women walked into my life. I can say that there’s no perfect picture of who should be in your circle. Toss out any preconceived notions and stay open. Love is a limitless emotion and the circle that surrounds you can never be too big.

I am forever grateful to my mom for making sure I was surrounded and to all the women who are walking with me on this journey. Check out my Instagram (@alexcharlic) to see and hear about some of these amazing women throughout the month of March.

40 years of friendship right here

An Adult Child’s Perspective on Christmas

As a kid, Christmas was always a big deal. In fact, everything was a big deal. A good report card, a promotion, birthdays, we celebrated it all. This celebratory style I grew up with followed me into adulthood.

As I’ve gotten older, buying Christmas gifts has become one of my favorite pastimes. It’s a fun feeling of both excitement and joy, when a loved one unveils the perfectly curated gift. Yet, finding the perfect gift for my parents and grandparents always feels like mission impossible. What do you buy for the people who have everything?! Year after year, I’d struggle with Christmas gifts and try so hard to keep up with my parents, who are supreme gift givers. This year, I rethought my approach.

My parents could care less what they opened on Christmas morning. Sure, I asked them and ended up with one bigger gift that was actually something they needed. They want things that money can’t buy – all of their kids in the same place, to cook together and for us kids to spend time with our grandparents. Looking back on this holiday season, that’s exactly what I gave, time.

Each year as I stepped further into adulthood, I tried to conjure up ways to give back what my parents gave to me. At the end of 2018, I can say I’ve stopped trying. There’s no way in the world that I could repay them for all they’ve given me. And are still giving as I sit on the beach in Florida at my mom’s house while my dad and stepmom diligently wait for the call to pick up my car for me. As they say, a parent’s work is never done.

So, my fellow adult children, stop worrying about the perfect gift for your parents. Instead, show up on holidays and birthdays as much as possible, take them to dinner and put your phone down during the meal. I think about my Nana and the many Saturdays I spent with her. Those were some of the best conversations I’ve had and she thoroughly enjoyed hearing my stories and watching me live my life. I sit with my other grandparents now and see the same joy fill their faces merely because I’m spending time with them. Highlight of the holiday season? Taking Grandma to see the Donna Summers musical on Broadway and dancing alongside her to ‘Last Dance.’

Don’t overthink it, my fellow 20’s somethings, who I’m sure are navigating this much like I am. Talk to your parents, grandparents, everyone in your life so you can co-create these memories together. They will sustain you during the longer, harder stretches of your life.

Big Sister, Big Responsibilities

sam babyOver the weekend, we celebrated my sister’s 11th birthday. She is one of the three younger siblings I have and is at a very impressionable age. Both her and my nine-year old brother pay close attention to my actions. For example, they are Temple obsessed as that was their first encounter with a university. Since our age difference is so large, things they see me doing they think they can do too. No Samantha, you cannot shop at Forever 21 just because I do.

Maybe it’s me or maybe it’s because there are so many years between us, but I feel a certain responsibility to my younger siblings, especially my sister. That’s probably a girl thing since we are already sharing clothes. From the minute she was born, I felt the need to protect her, guide her and be there for her. This role as big sister to a little girl has proven both rewarding and challenging at times.

I was thirteen when my sister was born. I instantly became a pro at changing diapers, making bottles and finding the Elmo DVD to calm her down. That’s the great part about being so much older: I had the opportunity to help and learn how to take care of a baby. While the day-to-day tasks proved to be a great learning experience, having a little sister has taught me how to mentor and have more intentional conversations. My sister has such a big personality and a mind of her own, which is awesome. However, reasoning with her and helping her to see the big picture is tricky. The older she has gotten, the more we talk about real life situations like losing friends or schoolwork. I absolutely love being able to have these conversations with her but learned to approach them with caution. My words are like the Bible to her; she takes things literally. It has taught me to be very intentional with my words and actions.

The challenge to being a big sister is that I based my decisions around their happiness, not my own. While sisterthis isn’t always true, it definitely has happened. If I skip yoga, I can pick Samantha up from dance and take her for a manicure before Antonio’s hockey game. With the prospect of moving out becoming real, I’m not sure how I’m going to live more than 30 minutes away from these kids. Then I remember how I went to college, how I still saw them, went to hockey games and the list goes on. Going to college left such an impression on them. I hope is so does moving out, having my own apartment and a good job. I still struggle with the need to be there all the time but the greatest lesson I can teach them is to find your own happiness, to live your own life.

Do you have younger siblings? What kind of impact have they made on your life?

Family Fridays: No Matter What

“Cousins are usually the first friends we have as children. No one will understand your crazy family like your cousins do. No matter how long it’s been, cousins can pick up where you left off. They are your heart, your soul and understand you better than anyone.” 

All of my cousins have a special place in my heart. Cousins can offer an outside perspective that parents and siblings often can’t. I am fortunate enough to have the greatest cousins ever, in particular an older cousin who has become my big sister over the last 13 years.

AmandaAt 10 and 13, neither of us were sure of anything. We were young and impressionable, without any care in the world. We spent the majority of our weekends together, took vacations together and grew up side by side, there for each other whenever necessary. Now at almost 23 and newly 26, life certainly has changed, I’d like to think for the better.

As kids, we were too mature for our age, over-thought things and were hypersensitive. As adults, those qualities are still there but we’ve grown up and learned to manage ourselves, each other and our families. I’ve seen Amanda grow up, be successful (the girl is already getting her second Master’s degree!), fall in love and genuinely be happy, a foreign concept for us at 18. She works hard and has earned the right to be happy and to live her own life; that’s kind of difficult with our family. I am constantly inspired by my cousin, her ability to fight for the things she wants and the way she lives every day to the fullest.

As we grew up, things that we couldn’t control changed. Our once seemingly perfect family has changed It has been a challenge to stay sane and keep our relationship grounded. But, from a young age, we stood by the ‘no matter what’ principal. No matter who said what, no matter what happened, we trusted one another. Today, that hasn’t changed. It’s something we believe in and will follow forever.

There are so many songs that have turned into anthems for Amanda and I. The list is long and continues to grow. However, one song consistently reminds me of my cousin and of everything she’s taught me. There have been so many lessons learned but most importantly, Amanda has taught me to live everyday, to make myself happy first and to not waste it.

Family Fridays: Opposing Views

The older I get, the more distinct my views become on certain topics. These views changed over time and can be influenced by the life phase I am currently in: young adult just starting her career with a significant other or children. I’ve also noticed that my views, at times, conflict with what my family believes or has taught me. The next three Truth Challenge prompts address some of these views:
Marriage-Equality-Words
Day 18 → Your views on gay marriage.
Marriage is a commitment between two people in love, regardless of their gender, race or anything else.  No one has the right to dictate who you should love, marry or spend the rest of your life with. I have met plenty of gay couples who support one another, have completely healthy relationships and are raising children better than some heterosexual couples. I firmly believe in marriage equality for all.

Day 19 → What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?
Have you heard of the phrase, “Religion and politics are the two things never to discuss at the dinner table?” Well, my family has broken that rule multiple times. Religion and politics are two very personal, sensitive topics. Again, no one has the right to judge your personal choice like how you practice your religion or who you vote for. I was raised Roman Catholic but have an issue with the man-made rules of the church, like annulments. However, I do believe in God, who has blessed me with all of the amazing things and people in my life. Because of this, I try to go to church as much as possible to say thank you.

My interest in politics has grown immensely over the last couple of years. I think this is partly becausevote I’ve been able to vote during the elections. I enjoy watching the debates, hearing the proposed plans of candidates and educating myself on our nation’s issues. My biggest issue with people and politics is that people will vote just based on opinions or appearances rather than facts. Please educate yourself before voting!


Day 20 → Your views on drugs and alcohol.
My views on drugs and alcohol has changed drastically in the last year since my family has been personally affected by addiction. I try not to judge people because addiction is a sickness that requires medical help just like any other disease. I do have a hard time with people who don’t take accountability for their sickness and do not fully grasp how their actions affect other people. That being said, it is your body so do with it what you’d like. Since alcohol is a legal substance once you are 21, I am all for enjoying a cocktail every now and then. Everything in moderation!
One challenge of growing up and forming my own opinions is that my family members don’t always agree with me. Some can still have intelligent conversations even though our views are different. Others are so militant and stubborn that it becomes a streaming match when any of the above are discussed. In the end, everyone, including family, needs to respect one another’s differing viewpoints.
How do you handle opposing viewpoints with your family? Is it a challenge?

Family Fridays: Love You More

I wonder if my dad thought he’d get away with having a birthday and not getting a blog post. Who is he kidding! My own personal superman stands well over six feet tall and has a demanding presence. But, when you have a conversation with the man I call dad, you see how he is a gentle giant…or when in a bathrobe, Tony Soprano.

twinsI am fortunate enough to both look exactly like my dad and share some of his personality traits. He has taught be so much about life and family. Here’s the most important life lessons I’ve learn from my dad.

1. Respect: Since we were old enough to talk, my dad practically forced us to call family friends Mr. and Mrs. Please and thank you had to be used in order to receive anything. You call your grandparents often, never miss anyone’s birthday and show up for Sunday dinner. While we all, including my dad, catch an attitude sometimes, he raised us to respect others and ourselves.

2. Generosity: My dad has the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met. He literally would give you the shirt off his back. He will come to your games, help you financially and put your happiness before his own. He loves to make people happy, a trait I know I inherited from him. I have his big heart too, always willing to do for others before myself. Both Dad and I care too much, become over-invested and end up disappointed because not everyone is like us. It certainly is a learning process.

3. Sports: I can remember listening to WFAN, the fan radio station from about four years old until now. Thanks to my dad, I understand terms like power play, ERA and safety but also can throw a baseball, and do well in fantasy football. He had me at games, teaching my players’ names at only a couple of months old. He also instilled in me a love of sports, mainly softball. You could find Papa Crispino in the outfield with his cigar and sunflower seeds, keeping my stats. No man was prouder when I hit my first home run freshman year of high school. Through playing sports, my dad taught me never to quit, to give up and to always be a team player.

4. Music: Obsession with Billy Joel? Thanks Dad. When the fan wasn’t on in the car, Billy Joel, Kiss, Thedad Partridge Family or Barry Manilow were on the radio. River of Dreams was my dad and mine’s first song that I completed mess up the lyrics to. I even made him sing Celine Dion at my Communion party. My dad taught me to appreciate good music, the classics and sing as loud as I can with the windows down.

5. Love you more: Since I was about five, my dad would end every phone conversation with “love you more.” He still does it all the time. He also means those words like no other dad does. He loves me (and his other three children) more than life itself. He is extremely proud of me and says it to everyone often. Despite being severely overprotective, he has showed me what unconditional love is and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Below, I share with you the song “Cinderella.” I’ve never considered myself a princess, but I’m sure my dad does. I don’t know if I’ve ever asked him to dance, but at any and all parties we go to, he makes sure to squeeze in a slow dance with me. Even superman likes to dance sometimes.

Family Fridays: Reverse Mentoring

Within the last week, I’ve spoken with some of my younger friends who were seeking advice. The schoolinspire year has ended and many of them were contemplating next steps to take during the summer. I enjoyed our conversations and they generated some mentoring concepts that inspired today’s post.

Sometimes mentoring can seem like such a formal process. In my opinion, mentoring is a fluid process, a mutually beneficial relationship where both individuals, who are proactive in bettering themselves and each other. Taking this into account, anyone can be a mentor. It is true that someone older than you might be of more help. But everyone has different experiences to share. Case in point, my almost sixteen year old cousin, ToniAnn.

TonToniAnn’s Sweet 16 is tomorrow night and I know she is extremely excited. So I am! ToniAnn and I have a great relationship: we trust each other and can talk about almost anything. I pride myself in having this type of relationship with all my younger cousins. Within the last several months, ToniAnn has lost forty pounds and looks incredible. She has inspired me to get healthy and it never give up no matter how hard life gets. While seven years younger than me, my amazing little cousin has mentored me and called me to take action in my own life.

Sometimes we don’t look to younger people for advice because we don’t think they’ve had the necessary life experience to understand our situation. This could be true in specific situations like I’ve never been married so I can’t give my married friend specific advice on her marriage. But I can listen, which can be almost just as helpful as providing advice. If we restrict ourselves to only using older people as mentors, we will limit the guidance we receive. We need to be open to all perspectives including ones of those younger than us. ToniAnn has proved that age is just a number; anyone can inspire.

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