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Selfless is defined as “concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own; unselfish.” Next to this word should also be a picture of my grandma, or nonna Rosa as I call her. After leaving her family in Italy, she came to the U.S. at age 22 with my grandfather with no money in her pockets but only the hope of a better future in this country for her children.

My grandparents lived about five minutes from my house, something I never truly appreciated until I grew older. With two working parents, my grandparents were built-in babysitters for myself and my sister. I probably spent just as much time with them as I did with my mom and dad, and learned some of my most valuable life lessons from my grandma – a few of which I’d like to share with you.

  1. Never raise your voice. It’s not often that you can honestly say you’ve never seen someone raise their voice. Well, I can. Even in the midst of the most intense arguments, Nonna never once raised her voice. Her calm demeanor was a game changer in her ability to be effective in almost any heated family argument, and it’s something I’ve always admired in her.

  2. Family comes first. Nonna is always the first to say that family comes first. She is at her happiest when we are all together, and constantly emphasizes the importance of loving one another.

  3. A strong work ethic. Nonna grew up working on a farm in Italy. I’d always say that she’s a different breed of human, because to this day she still has more energy than I do (even though she has about 56 years on me). She’s always been a homemaker, is a mother of three, and worked as a seamstress her entire life. She showed me that working hard to build the life you want for yourself, while difficult, is incredibly rewarding.

  4. How to have faith. Whenever I was in a valley or my spirits were low, Nonna would say, “pray, hope, and no worry.” In that order. That’s her slogan. It’s a beautiful reminder that no matter what life throws at me, at the end of the day it is God who is in control, not myself.

My grandma has helped mold me into the woman I am today, and I hope that one day I will do the same for my children.


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Jacqueline Genova, CHN

Jacqueline Genova, CHN

Jacqueline Genova, a certified holistic nutritionist, is passionate about wellness. She resorted to holistic approaches for healing to reverse some of her own health problems, and to help her mom battle cancer. She is a graduate of Babson College where she researched and wrote a thesis that supports a more integrative treatment approach, and is a strong advocate of incorporating complementary therapies into conventional treatment methods. As she discovered the healing powers of food as medicine, both through her own experience as well as in her research, she developed a desire to share what she learned with others. So, she started WellnStrong. She believes in a holistic approach to wellness that addresses the root causes of illness, not just the suppression of symptoms.

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