I was five years old when I immigrated to Canada from Italy with my parents, my older brother and my sister, the eldest. I grew up, where else, in Toronto’s Little Italy. It goes without saying that I was raised in a traditional home – spoke Italian, actually dialect; respected my elders; and, helped my father mix cement to build the much needed wine cellar.
Education was a big thing for my parents. They saved to send all three of us to good schools. Being the youngest, I thought maybe the money sack would be empty by the time I got to choose the high school of my choice. Not so. My parents scraped enough money to add to what I made in summer jobs to send me to St. Michael’s College High School in Toronto. Education was big at St. Mike’s but basketball was even bigger for me! The caveat was that in order for me to play on the school team I had to maintain an above average grade or I just didn’t play. I quickly learned that where there’s an incentive, there’s a reward.
I went on to graduate from York University in Toronto where I majored in history and minored in behavioural science and, oh yeah, more basketball. I was captain of the varsity team and earned MVP in my last year. So I decided to set a personal goal. I challenged myself to see how far I could go with basketball. I was realistic; the NBA was out of reach. So I set my eyes on Europe. I made some contacts and off I went and ended up playing professional basketball for a few years, where else, in Italy.
Eventually I settled down in Toronto and pursued a career in aerospace. I actually wanted to be a teacher but the market for teachers at the time was not good. So I shifted gears. I had several rewarding careers in aerospace. The most rewarding was managing internal communications for a large aircraft manufacturer in Toronto. During those years I went back to school, night school, to hone my writing skills. Oh, I forgot to mention that writing has always been a passion for me, an avenue for expression – whether writing lyrics for my brother’s band during my teenage years or poems just for pleasure. And so I took courses in Journalism at Ryerson in Toronto; editing, copy writing, magazine article writing, etc. I wrote and edited the company newsletter, press releases and had several articles published.
While all this was going on I challenged myself again – to write a book. Raising a family … working on the book … going to work … working on the book … playing and coaching basketball … working on the book … I never gave up! Finally I finished the manuscript and now it’s time to break out.
“No man is an island,” wrote English poet John Donne. Certainly I am not alone on this journey. I have two wonderful supportive children who are paving their own road in life. I live in Pickering, on the outskirts of Toronto, with my “Bella” – my biggest fan and strongest supporter on this voyage.
So my journey continues, ready to unleash the lessons of life experiences, woven into stories to inspire, to inform and to see the world in a different way.
All the best!