An Adoption Memoir from Mexico

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With Priscilla and Isabella outside of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe — Mexico City, Mexico
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An excerpt from Love at the Border: An Adoption Memoir from Mexico…

She bit me!” howled Isabella. I dropped what I was doing and ran into the family room. Isabella held out her arm for me to inspect. My fingers tenderly touched the red welt outlined by teeth marks on her forearm as Isabella stood stunned, her brown eyes wide, shifting from her arm to my face. I snapped my head around and stared incredulously at Priscilla. “Did you really bite her?” I asked. It was one of those mother-states-the-obvi- ous-questions and, when I affirmed the fact, Isabella wailed again. …


This mostly believable story brings the migrant journey to the masses

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American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins is a page-turner. A young woman with an adorable son wise beyond his years plus assorted extra characters running from the cartel, poverty, or other violent circumstances, kept me turning pages until the end. Would they all escape?

Honestly, I never understood the backlash. Fiction authors very typically write about topics to which they have no personal connection. As Stephen King said in one interview, “…it’s called imagination.” Cummins struggled with her decision to write the story and did not approach it lightly, conducting four years of extensive interviews and research. It’s not as if Cummins is totally exempt from hardship. Her spouse was undocumented and according to her Author’s Note at the end of the book, had “no legal route available…until we got married.” …


Gioconda Belli’s journey from privilege to Sandinista fighter begins with a spark that echos in our cities today

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Anger at leaders behaving badly is nothing new. We have certainly experienced our share of late. But what sort of event does it take for us to move to the streets in protest? When is the right time to raise our voice?

Consider the case of Gioconda Belli, a Nicaraguan author, novelist, and poet. She came from wealth, recalling her journey from debutante balls to Sandinista fighter in her book The Country Under My Skin, A Memoir of Love and War. Disappointment and boredom followed her marriage at age nineteen reinforcing a feeling that she was destined for something greater. …


Experiencing day-to-day life around the world will change your world at home

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Fruit and vegetables for sale at Hoi An market

If you are feeling hemmed in, ready to burst out of the starting blocks — you are not alone. For me, not being able to travel during this pandemic has created additional anxiety. When I am not thinking about germs, masks, and Lysol, I am fixated on thoughts as to whether we will ever return to carefree adventures or last-minute excursions.

In October of last year, I traveled for three weeks in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Singapore. A friend mentioned the trip to me by chance at the gym and within a few days, we were purchasing our Visas.

“Did you know that Vietnam is a sexy lady?” our guide asked as he turned to face us from his front seat in the van. …


Tracking Gender Roles is My Tourist Tic

Over the past year, I have traveled to diverse and interesting locations. One of my activities as I walk, ride, jog, eat, shop, etc. is to note the gender roles in various countries.

In Morroco cities Marrakech and Casablanca, I compiled my division of labor and leisure list between men and women. If you have been to this area of the world, I am interested in your experience.

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MEN:

Drive taxis, buses, scooters, cars, vans.

Sit in coffee shops to drink coffee and smoke while engaging in loud conversation.

Play guitars, banjo, bongo and other instruments alone or in groups for fun and money. …


Easter memories…rolling the dice with Pops

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Jonathan Petersson on Upsplash

The first time I met my father-in-law, he seemed larger than life, even though he was sitting down. My to-be husband Richard and I dropped by his childhood home to meet the parents and play basketball in the driveway. We weren’t engaged yet or even thought that we would be but had decided that we were “a thing” and wanted to include the parents. It was an early spring Sunday afternoon and we goofed around playing H-O-R-S-E and a little one-on-one.

We went inside to meet “Pops,” as he liked to be called, who sat in his favorite chair, legs up on the ottoman — the TV volume on very loud. He was a big man. I knew by reputation (and could see firsthand) that he loved a good meal. At the time he was a little over sixty-years-old with a full head of wavy dark hair, glasses, and favoring sweat pants and a button-down shirt. His voice resonated as he repeated my name. His children had nicknamed him “the bear” and it was clear that he was king of the castle. …


Empowering Women in South America

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It was the women who impressed us the most — after all, we were there for the women. Bolivian women, in their distinctive swirly skirts and bowler hats, were a ubiquitous presence in the markets and squares, toting bread and babies in brightly-colored blankets tied to their backs. The poorest country in South America, Bolivia seemed like the ideal partner for Philadelphia’s Women International Leaders (WIL), a group that provides micro-finance loans and empowerment grants to women in developing countries. …


Tales from the Human Resources underbelly

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(Image/HelpStay.com on Unsplash)

My psychology degree made me a natural fit for work in Human Resources. After all, I liked working with people — right?

Not so fast. The HR “competency model” proclaims it all on the company portal: we are super-insightful, sage professionals who provide strategic input for senior leaders. We are architects of culture, drivers of organizational effectiveness, designers of global solutions.

Wait, what about the employees? I’ll get to that.

In my career I’ve had many and varied HR roles. One of my favorites was head of HR for a financial services firm. …


My travel insurance: a too-tiny dress and sixty cents

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Beach on the Mediterranean in Valencia, Spain

Every time I make travel plans, no matter where or how far, I purchase the travel insurance just to be “safe.” It’s the practical thing to do of course but right now I am hopping mad about paying for insurance over and over and never getting any of the benefits. Do you know the feeling? My vacation time is precious and so when the adventure is scheduled, I am excited and invested in having a great experience. Then the insurance quote pops up and I think…better safe than sorry. So I take the leap and spend hundreds of dollars to protect my investment. Sounds like a smart move. …


A gazelle reflects on love, support and parenting

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Villanova Varsity Basketball team circa 1976 — the author is the third from left on the top row. (Photo from 2002–2003 Villanova Media Guide)

During Final Four weekend, a very good friend and former Villanova roommate who is now seeking an advanced degree in geriatric science, called to interview me about my “aging experience.” She asked — among other things — have I ever wished to be part of another generation, a different era either forward or backward?

Yes, as a matter of fact, I had been wishing for a time machine just a few weekends earlier. Every year, Villanova basketball alums are invited back to campus. After an alumni game there is a reception — then we watch the women’s Varsity squad in a Big East match-up. …

About

Anna Maria DiDio

Adoption L.I.F.E. Coach, writer, gardener, baker, fundraiser, and washed-up athlete. It’s all there. Reach out if I can help: www.amdidio.com

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