Las Vegas

A Blow to His Head Hit Two for The Price of One

Yesterday I flew to Las Vegas, NV to spend the day with my brother Sam.  Almost two months ago Sam was involved in a solo motorcycle accident and nearly died.  He spent 32 days in a hospital trauma unit in San Diego, CA most of that time spent in a medically induced coma.  Mike and I were living in Spain when he had his accident.

Sam is incredibly lucky.  He was not paralyzed; his broken ribs, punctured lung and fractured orbit surrounding his right eye have all healed.  The brain injury he suffered lingers.  Doctors say that many people take up to a year to recover from such a dramatic brain event.

I flew to Vegas for a few reasons.  One being to see him for myself and second to see the therapy he is receiving.  He receives therapy in balance training, strength training, brain exercises, brain cognition and counseling for how to assign, relate and deal with living with a brain injury.

It was such a huge relief to see my brother doing so well.  He has some work ahead but he is very blessed.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

It was such a huge relief to see my brother doing so well. He has some work ahead but he is very blessed. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

As is quite common Sam kept asking when he could return to his normal life.  He was frustrated with the therapy because he didn’t see the value in it because it had no bearing on helping him get back to work.  What he missed, and what I foolishly forgot to say to him, was that they were doing therapy that would help his whole life, not just his work life. 

Because the therapists didn’t know Sam before his accident they have no way of knowing what he was like beforehand.  I was asked from time to time to tell them if Sam was acting the same as usual or was he different.  I told them Sam looked tired and even a little sad. I told them that our father had instilled into each of his children (there are 5 of us) an incredibly strong work ethic and Sam was just doing that which came naturally to us all, he spends his time working hard.

It was while I was hearing therapists talk about what Sam’s new normal life would look like that I realized that there was a lesson in there for me as well.  In all my past jobs I would work 60 hour weeks and think nothing of it.  I would work hard and vacation hard but I worked harder. 

Having lunch with one of my favorite people, my cousin Phil.  My living harder idea has already begun.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Having lunch with one of my favorite people, my cousin Phil. My living harder idea has already begun. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

I realized that a real work life balance needs to exist; I realized that in the blink of an eye the so called normal life we all think we have could change instantly and perhaps permanently.  I realized that if my whole life was my work life I had no real life and no real balance to that life. 

Brain injury patients, depending on many factors, make remarkable recoveries and might have some lingering impairments but nothing that they can’t be taught how to compensate for or how to reassign their brain to help them get the job done.  Sam will work hard to make a full recovery.  I know my brother.  I know how determined he is to get back to his normal life. I will be praying that he gets his wish.  It will take a lot of hard work and dedication from everyone who loves him and perhaps even more so from those that work with him.  

For me I will try to remember the lessons I learned that day as I move forward and I look for work.  I will remember that at the end of the day a job helps me pay the bills and helps me take those great travel adventures Mike and I still want to take.  I will try to remember that when I’m not at work those hours are for me to do as I please and for Mike and I to have some fun.  I will try to sit and read without thinking about how much work I could be doing; I will go out to movies and social events and make more of an effort to have a social life. 

As I said I will also love harder.  We were out to dinner last night with my brother Paul and his family.  This is my niece Natalia.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

As I said I will also love harder. We were out to dinner last night with my brother Paul and his family. This is my niece Natalia. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

While Sam might have been the one who received the blow to his head I received my own wakeup call that day.  I have decided to work hard, but laugh harder.  I have decided to work hard, but live harder.  And mostly I have decided to work hard, but love family and friends harder. 

Florence Lince

Family, Family Everywhere

Or Fancy Meeting You Here

When I first met my husband Mike in 2005 I jokingly told him that I have family everywhere.  You see I am Italian and I do come from an incredibly large family.  I always thought everyone grew up with that many cousins.

The first generation of my family to be born here were my grandparents.  My great-grandparents were from Sicily.  They had 10 children.  Those 10 turned around and gave them 24 grand-children, and you see where this is going.

My first Thanksgiving with Mike I had 45 people for dinner.  He had to fly in from Seattle to my home in Las Vegas four days before Thanksgiving to help me cook all the food and the pies.  He was overwhelmed but this was just how I grew up.

Before we headed for Argentina in 2011 I had found out that, low and behold, I really did have family everywhere.  There are about 100 family members living in cities throughout Argentina and I connected via facebook with my cousin Claudia in Cordoba.  She speaks pretty good English.

We chatted back and forth and we gave her our itinerary for our time in Argentina and what cities we would be in and what dates.  Then I lost contact with her and didn’t hear back.

Mike and I left on our four month exploration of Latin America in June of that year.  When we made it to Argentina I simply sent Claudia one last message letting here know that we were in the country and again what our dates were and where we were going.

At 6:00am one beautiful day while we were getting ready to explore the city of Mendoza, Argentina the front desk called our room and told me that I had company.  Being it was 6:00am and I was in a foreign country I thought the front bellman had gone daft.  After asking me again if I was Florence Ricchiazzi Lince he confirmed that I indeed did have company.  Walking to the lobby the morning fog lifted and the only person I could even fathom was waiting for me was Claudia.  And there she was, in the lobby, with her husband and three of her children!  After seeing my note that we were in town they had driven over 6 hours to get from their home in Cordoba to Mendoza to spend the day with us. It was the first time we had ever met but we talked and talked and talked the day away.  What an incredibly warm and sweet family.  We had breakfast together and then spent the day at the Mendoza Zoo.  The kids had a wonderful time and by the end of the day they were calling Mike Uncle.  Our day in Mendoza, with family, is still one of the memories we cherish most from our many travels.

Me and my cousin Claudia. Can you tell we are related?

Me and my cousin Claudia. Can you tell we are related?

By the end of the day he was Uncle Mike!

By the end of the day he was Uncle Mike!

A family reunion in Argentina

A family reunion in Argentina

Mike no longer doubts me when I say I have family everywhere.  He just smiles and shakes his head and waits for the next 6:00am call.

Florence Lince

There’s no place like home…

I just don’t know where that is exactly

I was born in Buffalo, NY.  I escaped when I was 18.  That’s a joke based on years of dealing with harsh winter weather.  Buffalo is a beautiful city with a great history and warm people.  And the food!  I think what makes people laugh is that when they tell me that they are going to Buffalo we recount all the places they need to visit to eat some of the best food in the US.  Yes, they call that Buffalo Proud.

I moved from Buffalo, to Glendale, CA in 1978.  I stayed in CA until 2005.  I had homes and family in Nevada by then so I was going between the two states.  In 2005 I met my husband Mike (on a singles cruise to Alaska) and he was living in Washington State.  In December of 2005 I had sold both of my homes (one in Nevada and one in CA) to be with Mike full time in WA.  We made Olympia our home.  It was a beautiful little city and is actually the capital of WA.  I enjoyed my time in Olympia very much.  They have an awesome farmers market and they host the yearly northwest a cappella competition which Mike and I attended.

In 2007 Mike wanted a career change and we moved to Redmond, Oregon.  It was a nice little town with a very homey and comfortable environment.  We lasted until 2008 when Mike took a better job based in Salem, Oregon.  I really liked Salem.  It has a great university town feel and is again the capital city of the state.  We lived across from the weekly farmers market and the city was central to all things cultural.  What was hardest on me was the white supremacist feelings in the neighborhood and with my clearly ethnic looks I never felt safe unless Mike was around.  I had never lived in an area of the US with such a feeling and while I was angry as hell about this situation it also made me incredibly sad that in this day and age stupidity and bigotry ruled the day.

By 2010 I had had enough of cold weather and we moved to Las Vegas.  Now, you can move to Vegas on two conditions.  One, that you do not like to gamble and two that you like it warm.  Mike and I do not gamble.  In fact in the two years we lived in Vegas Mike never stepped into a casino unless he was going to a buffet to eat.  Not too many people can do that in Vegas.  The second factor, liking it warm, really takes a lot of learning.  It’s not always scorching hot in Vegas, they do get some cool evenings.  It’s just that having it warm outside all the time is exhausting, so you have to learn to adjust.  Mike did a great job of it.  The real problem with Vegas is that making friends is really hard.  The attitudes of people in Vegas are just not geared towards anyone trusting someone else.  They are so used to people scamming them or cheating them that they don’t trust.  When Mike decided in 2011 that he had enough of the working life and wanted to retire I wasn’t all that upset over it and we looked forward to the next adventure.

I guess you can say I’m lucky since I have always enjoyed every place I have lived.  I can find something good about every place.  I just have never felt that I belonged in any of these places long term and no place has ever felt like home to me.  I have always had a bit of the wanderlust that people talk about.  Most people in my family stopped asking me “how are you” ages ago, they learned to ask, “where are you now”.  As Mike and I keep moving from country to country we have met some great new friends and have lived in some wonderful countries, but home?  I’m not sure what that is exactly.  If home is a place where I feel comfortable and happy and have everything I need then I guess every place we’ve been is home to me.  I think I’m lucky in this regard.  It helps me to want to keep traveling and seeing new places.  Maybe some day I’ll be a homey and have roots and one place to call home.  Until then I’ll just make the world my home…

Florence Lince