I am excited about my friend Josie Montano guesting here on my blog. Josie is an author, SES volunteer (who looks quite sexy in orange overalls) and one seriously fabulous friend. We first met at the Ipswich Children’s Festival in Queensland in 2007 and since then we have had numerous ‘reunions’ in the Sunshine State for work and play. So I can safely testify to the truth of her gratefuls below, especially her love of food – because we share a love of fries and aioli and she’s great at preparing pladdas (or platters for the uninitiated). And I have to say, Josie is HILARIOUS, and being the slightly competitive one I’m going to be honest and admit sometimes it’s hard to have someone so close and so witty challenging my own comic ways. Some of you may remember we had a ball during our few days on Fraser Islander last year with The Commissioner. Some notes on our adventures are here.
I love Josie talking about her heritage and of course her family (aren't they a gorgeous bunch!), but especially her reminders to us all of the importance of recognising life’s challenges as something we can and should try to learn from. So, please welcome the lovely Josie and enjoy her generosity of spirit here.
When Anita asked me to write my ‘five gratefuls’ for her blog a wave of excitement overwhelmed me, even though I am generally a positive person it was an opportunity to remind myself of what I am grateful for in my life – to bring five pieces of my life out for an airing, to shine a light on them and to remind myself of what and who I am, and who and what has helped to create the pieces of my full life. And I have discovered that all my gratefuls are related, intertwined, thread from one to the other – and I have also discovered that my published works match in with my gratefuls.
What Josie is grateful for:
1. MY ITALIAN HERITAGE: I am grateful that in 1961 my father, who was all of 19, travelled for a hard month on a ship and migrated to Australia. He arrived at the Melbourne port with the equivalent of $20 and a small suitcase. A year later my mother joined him. I grew up in a small town in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria where a large group of Italians from my parents’ villages all gathered to start new lives. As a child I remember weekends were for getting together with other families, so they could all share, socialise and support each other in a country that at that stage didn’t understand their culture, food or passions.
2. LOVE OF FOOD: I do love my food, although my Italian rubenesque thighs are grumbling I truly am grateful! And this stems from my Italian heritage where food is a very important part of the culture. Wherever and whenever there is a gathering, there is very tasty food and plenty of it. I love how I get excited about food (except offal).
3.SENSE OF HUMOUR: Once again this has to come from my Italian upbringing – they are such a joyous people and so passionate. The Italians in Australia have developed their own type of culture and language – the very amusing ‘Italo-Australian’. But I would say my wit and humour has also been handed down from my father, what a character - he should have been a stand-up comic!
As a teen I didn’t see the humour in being Italo-Australian, I was embarrassed. I felt the only way to compensate for my embarrassment was to make fun of my culture. The sense of humour I cultivated now passes on through my writing, whether it be via my fiction novels for children or journal articles – I always try to entertain by weaving a little giggle into anything I write.
4.CHALLENGING LIFE EXPERIENCES: When I am in the middle of a challenging life experience I try to dig deep and pull out some of that humour to get me through. My humour drove me through a cancer journey, an early diagnosis of MS, and was there when my son was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and for all those years ahead. I see every challenge as a learning experience, if I change the attitude of ‘why me?’ to ‘what can I learn from this?’ I find this very empowering and can pass this skill onto others as they go through their own challenges.
5.FRIENDS & FAMILY: It is easy to oversee what it is you are most grateful for as they are just ‘there’. But without my family and friends I wouldn’t have my other ‘gratefuls’ – I wouldn’t have anybody to share my love of foods with, there wouldn’t be anyone there to laugh with me or laugh at my jokes, to share my culture and heritage or to hold my hand during life’s challenges. Thank you to my best friend/husband Rob, and my two children who have now grown up to be young adults who will begin to gather their own ‘gratefuls’ in their long journey’s ahead.
You can find Josie on Facebook!