In Between Brooklyn & Queens: A New Way to See Valentine’s Day

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Hi my name is Jill Parshley-Cardillo. I was born and raised in Astoria, Queens in New York City. I am proud to say my sister, Kim Parshley, is the founder of: https://www.chooseafamily.com.
She is the strawberry blonde actress with a bright smile, deep dimples and warm heart in the Choose A Family commercial, which you can watch right here:
I’m grateful she’s invited me to share my journey with you here. My monthly blog is titled, “In Between Brooklyn & Queens” and springs from published articles, poems and short stories I’ve written throughout the years, along with fresh insights that are newly unfolding. I’ve lived in Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn, NY. I write entries on places to go, people to meet, and curious thoughts to think. I’m thrilled to share some of my adventures with you which I hope spark an invitation for you to reach out to new Choose A Family members and swap your own sensational stories and exchange life’s challenging tales. I hope to inspire sparks of new friendships filling the deepest voids with hope and possibility. Whether you message one another here or exchange personal information and talk on the phone or meet up, I’ll share a variety of exciting events, take you down my memory lanes, and challenge you to introspective walks and talks, appreciating the simple joys of self love, as you potentially open up your heart to the love of another- even if you don’t biologically share the same mother or brother!

 

As a member of Choose A Family myself, I’ve learned to take the blues out of any situation and splash it with some rainbow. I’ve learned to take a holiday like Valentine’s Day and change my perspective from feeling down when I had nobody to share it with, to reaching out to other kindred spirits on Choose A Family to see if I could help someone whom I don’t quite yet know, not feel so alone as well. I’ve had the pleasure of making lovely connections to the little “sister” I’ve always wanted but never had, to being the “daughter” for someone whose child has since passed away. I look forward to making more connections, one click at a time.

 

When most of us think of family they think of love. But some of us were not that lucky. My mom’s father was a World War II veteran and upon returning home to NYC he was not treated properly for PTSD. Therefore, he turned to alcohol to self-medicate resulting with my mother and her family looking down in despair each day. He did the best he could with what he knew at the time. Sadly, his mistreatment and neglect lead my grandmother to nervous breakdowns and shock treatment, resulting in her hospitalization for the rest of her life. My grandfather soon passed away and my aunt and mother were left in an orphanage. It’s at those moment’s in a child’s eyes, that love is personified, perceived as a hefty hiker coming in and out of lives leaving paths of destructive fires and burnt branches on their family tree. To some, however, love is consistent and fair like soft waves in an ocean. In my biological family’s case and that of my sister’s, Kim Parshley- founder of Choose A Family, love was like a see-saw teeter-tottering between the dark forest and bright ocean. Just like Oliver Twist’s famous question in the 1968 musical, we also were left asking, “Where is she? Who I close my eyes to see? Where… where, is love?”

 

I wonder if the internet, smart phones, interactive chats, and social media existed in the 1950’s, would our mother have turned to Choose A Family? A free website to basically shop around for a substitute alternative family. If that was an option back then, could our mom have found a substitute mother, father, big sister, grandma or mentor to help comfort her through her broken dreams? Well, now, I’m sure our mother is comforted in heaven knowing her first daughter Kim, started Choose A Family and her second daughter, (little ol’ me) would now be blogging about the depths we all go to for love.

 

Changing our storyline is key. First we have to accept our circumstances in order to take positive actions. That’s just what our mom did. She put one foot in front of the other and as God would have it, a partner, a team player would come into her life- our father- who met his match… he too came from foster care and group homes running from the “burning forest”. They rose from the ashes together. That was their journey. And if it wasn’t tumultuous, if it wasn’t exactly how it was supposed to be, would we be here now? Would this website even exist? Existential questions we’ll never know the answer to, but here’s what we do know: life gave our family lemons, and we made lemonade.

 

Ironically, our parents were married on Valentine’s Day. How apropos for me to introduce my blog to you today on that very holiday! It’s bittersweet since they both have since passed away, but thankfully they planted seeds while on earth. I can look at Valentine’s Day in a whole new way. They brushed away the ashes and dead leaves, tilled the soil, planted nutrients and seeds, watered it and let the sun shine in. When you see the dandelions blowing here on this website or you see the sparkle of green leaves in the Choose A Family logo, know they are symbolic. They symbolize you, me and all of us who have put out fires in our lives and now are ready to rebuild growing new meaningful connections. Finally, allowing the sun to shine down on one of us, connecting all of us.

 

Please share your stories with us! You can respond to this blog entry, or share whatever sparks your soul, right here on our website, or on the “Choose A Family” Facebook Page. Facebook.com/chooseafamily

You can follow Jill’s articles at her “In Between Brooklyn & Queens” Facebook Page. Thank you for your support!

And don’t forget to visit: https://www.chooseafamily.com

Written by Jill Parshley-Cardillo

Copyright February 2020