Life Lessons: A skater’s courage touches all of us

It is unscripted yet it seems like a story made for Hollywood. We all are looking for the next story that touches us all and causes us to see the true meaning of love, devotion, courage and tribute. In the case of the woman’s Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette we were all deeply touched and moved by her inner strength, courage, determination, love and tribute to her mother who had unexpectedly passed away within a couple of days before her ice skating performance at the 2010 Winter Olympics at Vancouver. It is remarkable that Joannie could compete after such a tragedy and win a medal. She was so graceful and beautiful when she took the ice and skated her program.

It took her many years to get to this level of competition and she wanted to skate to honor her mother and she had the world looking on and rooting for her. It was a pure joy watching her skate and you could sense her sadness and sorrow and feel nothing but compassion for her. We all know she was hurting and skating with a heavy heart and to see her skate so beautifully and with such love in her heart was truly wonderful and very inspiring. We all saw her skate and realize her dream of skating in the Olympics for herself, her family and her country. She was missing her mother and knew that her mother would want her to skate and do her best.

I was so touched by her performance and when I saw her complete her program and look up in tribute to her loving mother and then start to cry my heart went out to her as did everyone watching and I too could not help but cry. She really is such a sweet young lady and you could see how proud her coach was as she led her to the bench where they would await her score. She was skating for more than a medal and there was not a dry eye in the arena where she skated such a lovely performance. Her scores were very good and that meant her chances of winning a medal were hopeful with that beautiful performance and unexpected tribute to her mom. She certainly won the hearts of all watching the woman’s figure skating and she shined.

You could see her dad in the crowd watching his daughter with pride and tears in his eyes and all you could feel for them both was that their healing will come in time and that the strength they show continue as a new chapter in their lives has begun and now they must be there for each other. It is hard to pick up the pieces and find the strength to continue but it is essential that they support each other through this sad and difficult time. Sometimes when you are trying to deal with a tragedy it is important to occupy your time wisely and not dwell on the tragedy. It is human nature to feel a sense of loss and sorrow when losing someone so close. That is why it is important to try to continue your same routines and to also devote time to remember the good times shared with your loved one and to cherish them always.

When Joannie took the ice her second time for the medal you could see she was ready and holding up well. She was certainly admired for all she has shown and what she has recently endured and for her true spirit as a woman’s figure skater. As soon as she skated her routine and acknowledged the crowd cheering her she took the bench with her coach by her side and she was pleasantly surprised that she was in the running for third place. Everyone cheered for her and she had now become a hero to all who watched her perform and learned of her story and saw her remarkable performance which became a loving tribute to her mom.

After the last skater performed and did a nice job to bring her from 6th to 4th place it was then realized that Joannie indeed won the bronze medal and the crowds erupted with such joy and happiness and I admit to crying tears of sadness and joy for her. Her story is a poignant one and she has inspired so many with her tremendous talent and her courage and we all were happy for her as she stood on the stage adorned with her bronze medal and we were feeling that her courage displayed is worthy of a gold medal and that we learned a lot from her and are very happy to see her more in the future under better circumstances.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Life Lessons: Learning humility

I always knew as a young child that when I grew up I would not be the type of person to brag or revel at someone else’s defeat. I was always a compassionate kid as I learned very well from my parents. I believed that competition in sport was important but it was not a driving force in my way of thinking. Sure I enjoyed winning and I knew that it certainly felt better than losing but it wasn’t my modus operandi. I felt that I would survive even if I wasn’t the absolute best. To be honest who needs all that pressure. I would never inflict that kind of pressure on my son. Sure I want him to always do his best and to take pride in what he does and to show respect to others. That comes without question but I don’t want him to feel burdened that he has to win at all costs. To me I believe that if you sincerely have a desire to do well in something you enjoy and you work at it and practice and try your best than the rest will take care of itself.

I have heard stories of kids losing their innocence and their youth because it was drilled into them at a young age that they have to always work hard to be the best and they had to operate under the premise that they will not be happy unless they win. I believe to some degree you should have a desire to win but I do not believe that you should be told that winning is everything and you should never settle for less because that can lead to disappointment and personal struggles. Many kids can not handle that kind of pressure and find themselves seeking escapes to get away from it. When it gets to that point then the joy of the sport and competition is lost and the focus is on something that is just an ideal and then I believe the damage has been done. We don’t intend to impose this on our kids but we should be clear on the agenda at hand. Is it what we want or what our child wants. We must think long and hard about that.

I have seen many winning athletes who did learn in their youth that winning indeed was everything and found something very refreshing about them in post interviews. Most of them were very humble in their winning performance and they credited their fellow athletes and they were very complimentary of their coaches, their families, their teammates and their fellow competitors. To me I find that trait a wonderful thing and that really is the measure of a person in my book. I also admire the athlete who comes in last place but keeps on trying and never gives up. To me they are very special too.

As a kid growing up I knew school was very important and I realized that very soon in my life when I saw my mom take a sincere interest in making sure I always completed my assignments and understood how to do them. She reviewed my homework and was always very supportive. My dad was also very supportive in providing me encouragement. I teach this to my son as I learned it and my wife makes sure Matthew completes his assignments and understands them. It is very important to do your best in school and be responsible and independent. These are valuable lessons that we all must learn if we wish to achieve success in our lives. I believe that we need to have a well balanced mix of academics, arts and sports to shape our lives and develop as individuals. I was very responsible with my school work and I always tried my best to be prepared for the academic challenges. I also wanted to participate in sports and when I was on the cross country team racing I took it very seriously. I wasn’t a top runner but I still practiced and developed a good regimen and always appeared at coach’s workouts. I took my running very seriously and was always trying my best in my races.

I learned very quickly that I wasn’t going to win my races but I knew that if I ran within myself and did my best and completed the race regardless of winning then I should be proud. Coach always was encouraging and knew I was a work horse and for that I gained his respect and the respect of my peers. I want to teach this to Matthew but sometimes things like this can only be learned by direct experiences and that is why I think it is important to balance my son’s interests with a healthy mix of academics, arts and sports.

I also want to teach my son about being gentle, honest, compassionate and to learn to respect others and to always have humility and to always find things of interest that will spark a desire to perform and achieve. We don’t have to win but we should always try to do our best. This is one of life’s lessons that we should always hold on to and learn that enjoying something and having fun with it is more important than winning. I tell my son that we all are winners no matter what if at the end of the day we know we tried our best. When you know this then you have learned something pretty important. Having humility and trying your best are the keys and I will always share this with my son.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Life Lessons: Let me tell you about my son

Every chance I get to talk of my son I revel in the opportunity because I am so proud of him and I love him so much. I feel we all expect the very best from our children and want them to always try their best and to never give up. It is very easy to get discouraged at times when things don’t always go the way we hope. It is then that we need to dig deep from within and shine. I have always been encouraged and given helpful advice through the years from my parents and it has made a world of difference. I convey to my son the importance of trying your best and taking personal pride in what you do. I explain it to him in simple terms and in a way that is geared to his situation. I know that autistic children have challenges and that they are easily distracted and are reactionary to their surroundings. Therefore the best way to talk to an autistic child is on their level. I have learned that a gentle and calm approach always helps and my son is more responsive to soft spoken words. I have learned my lesson that stern and loud spoken words does not help with teaching Matthew right from wrong. He is very sensitive to sound and if he detects a loud voice or stern demands he tends to resist and become defensive and confrontational.

I want my son to feel relaxed and comfortable. I don’t want to get him stressed or upset. I have learned that with an autistic child you need to have a lot of patience and at all times be a constant source of encouragement. After all our children need to be nurtured and given the proper guidance and support they need so they can flourish and meet their own personal challenges. I always feel I have become a more caring and understanding person because of my son and his special needs. He has given me insight into a world I would have never known about and I am learning every day and trying to keep up with my wonderful son and his intensity and drive. My son has such a high energy level that it seems he is on overdrive from when he wakes up in the morning for school until he lays down in bed to go to sleep at night. I get tired just watching him.

I take great joy in watching my son do things that he enjoys and it makes me proud to see him put forth such effort and seeing his delight in accomplishing the things he likes to do. Matthew loves to sing and is quite good at it as he knows the songs he likes to sing and he is right on with the beat and rhythm. He does get shy sometimes but when he is in the mood to sing he is amazing. My son is an architect in the making as he loves building sky scrapers from his lego blocks and he loves constructing towers that are as tall as he is. He learned this from his grandfather who would spend hours with him building and playing. We all miss “Pop” and pray for him. Matthew always dedicates his newest building to “Pop” in gratitude. Another activity that provides Matthew with hours of fun is his domino chains. He just loves to arrange his dominoes into lines stretching the length of the living room and when he is ready to set them to fall he loves capturing it on video and downloading it to YouTube. I must admit it is great fun to watch. Matthew is getting better with his patience as on occasion the dominoes have fallen before he had wished. When that happens it is back to the drawing board.

Matthew also loves to write and has his own blog that he maintains and he writes about things in his life and experiences and this provides him an outlet and a way of self expression which is very good for him. He is also very good in expressing himself through written word. He knows how to do spell check and he learns the mistakes of spelling which is always a good thing. He also loves writing in microsoft word and creating spreadsheets in microsoft excel. He has also created power point presentations which I find amazing as I still have not learned powerpoint though he as a preteen has mastered it.

As kids we all tend to like family games and it is important to have at least one night in the week designated for “family fun night” where we give Matthew a choice in what game he likes to play. His favorite board games are Sorry!, Monopoly, Scrabble and Wheel of Fortune. He also loves the software versions of Scrabble and Wheel of Fortune. Another family fun game we started playing together is the Wii entertainment center. Our son’s favorite is the bowling and anything that has to do with car racing. Matthew has an impressive car and baseball card collection and when he is interested with playing with them it seems his play area is either a parking lot or traffic jam full of matchbox and hot wheel cars or a floor covering of baseball cards arranged in teams of all the players. It is quite amazing how he has the patience to arrange each player by team.

Our son surely knows how to spend hours at a time playing and keeping busy and can be found on the computer for long periods of time as well. He has had a couple of play dates which we are delighted about because we want Matthew to start developing friendships and sharing his games and interests with other kids. Now that he has the Wii, some nice board games, plenty of match box and hot wheel cars, baseball cards and plenty of dvd movies he can spend hours with his new friends having lots of fun.

We are so happy for our son when he develops friendships and interests and look forward to expanding his circles by exposing him to outdoor activities requiring participation such as youth sports programs such as bowling and swimming. The more outside activities he has outside of school the more exposure he will have to making new friends and learning group participation which is very important.

I as a father also enjoy getting to spend some time with Matthew and do enjoy going bowling with him as well as seeing one of the movies showing at the theatre or going for a bike ride at the park. We also love to go out for ice cream and pizza and always make a point to do so for lunch or dinner when we are out for the day together. These are the precious things in life I will forever cherish as the times I spend with my son make me very happy and proud. Thank you Matthew and Maria for making my life complete. I love you both!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Life Lessons: The promise of spring and baseball

I always remember looking forward to the warmer weather and the promise of a new baseball season during the mid winter months. It seems the time between seasons seem to drag in the winter time as we experience the height of winter season but then when you look back on it as pitchers and catchers start reporting for spring training you ask yourself where the winter went. In late February the traditional time major league baseball players flock to Florida and Arizona for preseason training it seems springtime is not that far away. The winter time is a fun time if you like skiing and the snow which I do like. Unfortunately I have not had many opportunities to ski and I do not particularly like the biting cold weather but do admit enjoying time at home during a major snowstorm.

My son is not that fond of the winter because of the cold temperatures and the mess of melting snow. He prefers the spring and summer months because he loves the end of the school year and going to summer day camp. He also loves the water and whenever he goes swimming at the town pool it is hard getting him to come out. He stays in long enough until his lips begin to turn purple and his fingers begin to prune. Kids seem to never get tired of swimming as I also recall as a young kid enjoying times at the Tottenville pool in Staten Island and the IBM pool upstate near my family relatives home in Poughkeepsie, NY.

As an adult in my profession I am very busy during the winter months with the demands of tax season so it is nice to look forward to baseball once again as it is a measurement of another year gone by and the promise of a new baseball season where the team I follow, the NY Mets have the chance to be No. 1 again! It seems like a rite of passage having passion for the game of baseball. I remember as a young boy enjoying having a baseball catch with my dad. These times were special to me because they were not that often and because they were a time for bonding with my dad. I enjoyed those times and always looked up to my dad knowing how hard he worked and how great he was to mom and my 2 sisters and I.

Ever since my son was born I too have a baseball mitt waiting for him so we could also have a baseball catch someday. I am not one to push my son into things and prefer him to choose but I would love to see him develop an interest in the game and to want to play also. He does not show interest in having a catch so I still have the mitt but we will have to wait. I hope as he gets older he will wish to have a catch as I still love to throw the baseball around. I have taken Matthew to baseball games at Shea stadium, Yankee stadium and the ball park where the Long Island Ducks play. I have not yet had the opportunity of taking him to Citifield or the New Yankee stadium but promise to this year. Since Maria is a Yankee fan I will have to try to get tickets for a game at Yankee stadium as well. I have always been a fan of baseball and the Mets are my team of choice as it was my mom’s also having been a loyal Brooklyn Dodger fan in her young life growing up in Park Slope.

So as the busy season preparing tax returns begins to wind down I am excited because then I can enjoy the 162 game season of Major league baseball and try to teach my son a little bit about the game as I feel baseball is a wonderful thing to share with your children. We are excited that pitchers and catchers are beginning to report and know that spring and baseball season are not that far away. Lets Go Mets!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Life Lessons: Balancing work and family

We live in a complicated and very technical time in our lives. We are literally surrounded with round the clock means of communication. We are dependent on cell phones, laptop computers, wifi internet access, e-mail, online networking sites, navigation systems, ipods for our music and portable storage devices for all our work related information. Our workplace has changed dramatically with all the technical advancements and ever changing company needs. As responsible employees we are dedicated to our work and we always try our best to please our employer and fellow coworkers utilizing our skills, knowledge and personality. As we grow in our role at work and take on more challenges and responsibilities we need to learn how to prioritize our assignments and meet company demands and follow company policies and procedures.

In meeting our responsibilities at work we also need to make time for our family and make sure we balance our commitments so we don’t overlook that. Family time is very important and as our children grow it is very important that we spend time with them because time passes us by so quickly and we will never get that precious time back.
I am fortunate to be working at a company on the cutting edge of technology that is growing and expanding and has a very committed ownership that built the company from the ground up with hard work, dedication, their knowledge & skill set and most of all their entrepreneurial spirit. Ownership expects dedication and commitment from their employees and are very encouraging and supportive in their development.

I have met fellow coworkers travelling here from abroad and they are here for training and establishing new company procedures. I have become friends with some and realize their commitment as most are here for several months separated long distances from their families. I am working with one individual who is very dedicated and hard working and is a very responsible and caring person. He is married with a baby daughter and he showed me his family pictures. He is a real family man and a very committed employee. I am fortunate to get to meet him and his fellow coworkers from abroad. It gives you an interesting perspective when you see their commitment and dedication to their work knowing they are apart from their families.

I am a new hire and I am learning and working on contributing and becoming an integral part of their accounting and financial team. As a growing company needs direction and a firm commitment and dedication from their employees they also rely on a team oriented approach and a constant flow of communication. Making necessary change does not happen over night but it is essential that a clear and uniform approach is taken and an understanding of the ownership’s vision is essential in making decisions. We face many challenges in our lives and in our work and in raising our family and it is important that we learn how to address them and meet them face on and with confidence and a well thought out plan.

We all are seeking to do right by others and to show our respect and honor our commitment and dedication to our work, our employer and most of all our families. It is our children that inspire us and give us the incentive and drive to carry on. We live for our children and they give us pure joy and the reason to face another day with happiness and enthusiasm.

I do it all for you Matthew because I love you and your mommy very much!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Life Lessons: Finding joy in giving

I have always felt a certain amount of pride and joy in sharing and reaching out to help others as best I can. It is with true humanity I try to be charitable and donate to a good cause whether it is my time or my financial resources. I have to set parameters in how much I can donate and I try my best to be as generous as I can. I believe we all wish to help the needy and less fortunate as compassionate human beings. It is impossible to give to all so we have to selectively choose who to donate to and it is always suggested that we try to donate to organizations we can trust will utilize the resources to aid others like the American Red Cross or to a College of our choice fund to help fund scholarships. Obviously we should try to donate as often as we can within reason.

As the father of a young son with special needs and medical concerns I have learned my priorities in life. Obviously my son’s needs come first and learning how to help him overcome his challenges. Since autism and epilepsy are both medically related conditions that require medication and extensive doctor visits I feel it is important to help in addressing these areas and by helping the cause with financial donations to organizations such as the ASA Autism Society of America and the Epilepsy Foundation. These organizations then could use these contributions to help fund study and research to hopefully raise understanding and seek answers and proposed solutions in treatment of both medical conditions.

I am proud to say that I have created a page on the Epilepsy Foundation website to help raise funds to help all affected by epilepsy including our son Matthew. In my heart I wish I could do all I can to help him and others and I feel this is a good starting point. If I can do something worthwhile before I die that can help my son and others who struggle then I will feel I truly helped in some small way. I wish to have my son protected and a fund established for him that will assist him as a young adult. I am very confident Matthew will be able to go on to college so I have to make sure I have a financial plan in place to assist him with his college costs. I will always do my best for him.

There are many successful people who have created foundations to assist families with schooling, medical care, housing and emergency services. It is nice to see that commitment and dedication.

The one person who dedicated her life to the poorest of the poor in Calcutta and gave all she could to helping the missions as a very loving, caring and compassionate human being and for many years was the late Mother Theresa who was a nun as a young girl and found her purpose by helping the needy in her later years. She was a very special woman and she made the poorest people smile because she truly cared and helped each and every day of her life. She was a very special woman and her kindness and saintly work continues through the efforts of the nuns who worked with her who carry on her mission work.

It is very important that we reach out to help others and do whatever we can to make a difference. I know that if we realize the importance of caring and reaching out for a good cause and we have a connection to that cause it makes the effort more purposeful and necessary. My son is autistic and epileptic so for me the way I can help is by expressing my feelings and experiences and finding a cause which will help those affected. It will be my mission because my son means everything to me and if I can help him with his seizures in some way and help him make more social connections despite his autistic ways it will make a world of difference and make me feel hopeful.

The link to our fund raising page is:

Edward D. Iannielli III

Life Lessons: The beauty and reality of sports and competition

As I watch the Olympics and I see the sheer beauty and euphoric elation of victory and the heartbreaking and crushing disappointment of defeat I am caught up in the highs and lows of these athletes who put everything on the line. I am amazed at the stories of these athletes and I explain to my son how hard these athletes work and the many sacrifices they make to get to this level of competition. The concept of victory and defeat in sport is necessary as there will always be a winner and there will always be a loser upon the completion of a sporting competition. This is the duality of sports.

The many hard years of training and sacrifices made by these athletes to have the opportunity to perform on the Olympic stage for all the world to see is very inspirational and requires many years of discipline, dedication, personal sacrifice and a firm commitment requiring many hours, days, weeks, months, years and perhaps decades of consistent hard work. An Olympic athlete’s life is centered around their sport and the many competitions to bring them to another level. Not many athletes can achieve this level of competition so for those who do achieve this level it is a dream come true and an honor they accept with pride serving their country in sports competition and they all have a willing commitment to try their best and prepare for the challenge ahead.

When you view a figure skating competition whether it is pairs or the ladies competition it is so beautiful to watch. The women are dressed so pretty and they are so graceful and in the pairs the man and the woman working together in sync is just amazing to watch. At times it is hard to watch knowing how hard these athletes have trained and to have such pressure to perform at their best. It is sad to see particularly in figure skating when the ice skater falls. You want everything to go perfect for them. I admire the skater who falls though and gets back up to continue their program. It takes courage to continue when you know you have fallen. It is heartbreaking but you gain respect for these athletes because you realize how much they sacrificed to get to this stage and how hard they worked along the way.

Of the Olympic competition I would have to say that I am particularly fond of the winter sports and the ice skating, skiing, speed skating and ski jumping are my favorites. I watch the luge competition as well and was heart broken to hear of the passing of an athlete during a training run. The sport of luge is very dangerous and the athletes are experiencing speeds of close to 100 miles an hour on solid ice with their body literally as the vehicle on a small sled like device called a luge. If the athlete loses control at those speeds they surely will crash and in this case with the athlete who died during practice his body was thrown from the luge like a rag doll. The paramedics rushed to try and save him but it was to no avail as he died at the hospital. Here was an athlete who didn’t really have a chance to win a medal but he trained hard and wanted to represent his country and try his best in the name of Olympic competition. It is very sad and it shows you the harsh realities of sports and competition. It is not always fun and celebration. There is a lot of heartbreak and tragedy in sports too.

I was caught up in the pairs figure skating and was rooting for the Chinese couple competing for 18 years together in the sport who also fell in love and plan to marry upon completion of the Olympic training and competition. Your heart went out for them and when you saw them try their best even if they made some mistakes in their program you felt very happy for them. There story is so compelling with all the adversity and injuries they faced and to come out of retirement to strive for the goal of an Olympic gold medal in the 4th attempt in Olympic competition is truly inspiring. To see them win gold as they worked so hard to do and see it become a reality was a tremendous moment. Another Chinese couple who did not seem likely to medal were also a delight to watch as they skated to pure perfection and were so beautiful and graceful. I thought it was wonderful to see the 2 Chinese couples both win medals and while watching them I felt sheer joy for them both. To see the smiles and the tears makes you feel the emotion of an athlete and all they go through. We only see their dream but there is so much behind the scenes we will never know. It is nice when you see the stories and come to understand the athlete and their purpose and dedication to their sport and their country.

These are valuable learning lessons I teach my son and I tell him that he can surely learn a lot from these athletes and can also be inspired by them. My son inspires me and I always tell him that in life if you want to achieve something you have to work hard and devote your time and effort. If you try your best then you have done good. These are words of wisdom I have always shared with my son as my parents shared with me.

I dedicate this to the fallen luger who did his country and his family proud and we all are sad to learn of his passing and pray for him and his family to heal.

Edward D. Iannielli III