David Lombardi of famiglia.ca interviews Carmen Colombo.
In the summer of 2005, I was contacted by David Lombardi, who runs a great website called Famiglia.ca
The website is about Italians who live in Canada, particularly Montreal, but who to some extent still keep the familiar ways of the old country. Being an Italian myself, and having grown up in Montreal, I can completely relate to David, his wife Rosy, and the site's general message. So when David asked if I would do an interview for his site, I agreed. It took a while, but it was ready for la famiglia's new season launch, in October 2005. I had sent it a few weeks prior to Katrina and all the other disasters of the second part of 2005. Nonetheless, the interview is timely and interesting because of the questions, which are, frankly, quite personal. So personal, in fact, that it took me a while to decide whether the interview would be posted here on wowzone. Finally, I decided to post it. I was asked questions, and I answered honestly, with my own views and opinions, which are no better or worse than anyone else's. I was humbled to be chosen to be interviewed by this fantastic site.
I hope that this glimpse into my personal world will somehow be of use to you.
Best wishes always,
David Lombardi of famiglia.ca: Interview with Carmen Colombo
Read it below or go to the famiglia website and click on our logo, on their main page!
famiglia website: famiglia.ca
FAM:David Lombardi (famiglia.ca)
CC: Carmen Colombo (wowzone.com)
FAM:Every project stems from an idea and every inspiration for an idea stems from an event or experience in life.
FAM: Tell us how wowzone came to be born?
CC: The seeds for what would eventually become wowzone.com were planted in the summer of 1980, and the situation that caused me to speak those words, “Wish Only Well” was not a joyous one. I was barely 21 and going through a nightmarish divorce. Back then, in the Italian community, divorce was unheard of, especially after only 5 months of marriage. In my hometown community, I was the first to become a “divorcée” and of course, I became “tainted” or second class. So much has changed. Now, it’s considered unusual if you’re not divorced. Also, in those days, the term “Domestic Violence” didn’t even exist. Calling the police was a joke. They laughed and said…look at you Italians. You spend thousands of dollars for a beautiful wedding and then what? Might as well just throw a party if you want a party. How true. But I didn’t need them to tell me that. I needed them to protect me from my vindictive, crazy husband. Try to picture my situation at the time. I had death threats every day, from him and dozens of people on his behalf, I couldn’t leave the house for months, and I could never be alone. His mistake was threatening me in front of both our lawyers at the Court House. His lawyer threw his arms in the air, and my lawyer was able to have a restraining order issued immediately. I still couldn’t go out alone – but at least, he couldn’t come near me. The night I said those words was the first time that I actually went out for fun, with a girl friend. I had been miserable for months, and everybody was encouraging me to go out and change the scenery for a while. Ironically, the first time that I went out, I ran into my ex. That’s where it all began. The seed was planted that night, but it would take years before the enormity of that experience actually sunk in, and eventually, was shared with the world.....Click here to read Carmen's bio.....
FAM: What is the mission of wowzone?
The mission of WOW Zone is to spread a powerful message of hope, peace and goodwill in a fun and easy way – by associating a very positive message with a very popular word. WOW is an acronym for Wish Only Well. Sharing such a dramatic experience and the good that came of it, gives hope to anyone. If I lived to talk about it, then it’s my obligation to do so, in order to help others who feel as hopeless now as I did then. I am living proof that you can get out of a dangerous, violent situation, without using violence. Peaceful conflict resolution is needed in all aspects of life…from our family life to the world at large.
is now 9 years wowzone exists and you have obviously experienced huge
success with millions of visitors and probably have received thousands of
correspondence. Just from reading some of the letters from visitors on your
site, it is obvious that people are finding something appealing in your
message and your work.
is it that people are looking for that they seem to find in your message?
are looking for hope. They have lots of questions, and are looking for
answers that will make them feel better. Sometimes, they need to laugh,
sometimes to cry, sometimes to feel inspired, motivated, understood,
listened to…and so much more. For every season of our lives, actually,
I’d say even at different times during the same day, we have different
needs. Sometimes we just need to know that somebody, somewhere, is reading
what we have to say. We get many letters of that nature. Like they say,
confession is good for the soul, and for some, writing to us is a release.
The letters we receive are like a study in human nature. We learn so much
from our visitors, and we are extremely grateful for their letters and
thirst do you think you are fulfilling in the human spirit?
human spirit is alive and well. It shows up whenever there is a devastating
need, like with the Tsunami in December 2004, for example. But the rest of
the time, it seems to be asleep. We found that it’s not that people
don’t want to do and be good, they just don’t know what to do. They
think that doing good has to be something big, like changing the world.
It’s like the old expression; you can’t see the forest for the trees.
You think globally, see the enormity of the challenge, and forget about it.
You don’t even think about your immediate surroundings, because you take
them for granted. You think that your family, your friends, your life will
always be there, so you can handle that later. Sometimes, that “later”
never comes. You have to live in the present, right now, wherever you are.
With WOW Zone, we try to awaken the human spirit in people every day, not just on “special occasions”. We want people to be “wow” to each other every day, not just on holidays. Actually, all “special occasions” are over commercialized, and they mean nothing anymore. Do children understand the meaning of Christmas, for example? Sure, they understand that they’ll get toys. But they should be taught something more meaningful, more important, and more practical. Whose birthday is it? What’s so important about this person? What did He teach? He taught peace, love, hope, faith, and so much more. And He summed it up in the greatest of all commandments, also known as The Golden Rule: To do unto others what you would like to be done to you. Wish Only Well is a fun and easy way to remember that message. It’s a free gift that you can give to your children that will bring them further in life than any toy. I see children who are out of control at the age of 4, and then the parents are surprised that those same kids are out of control in their teenage years. Bullying in schools is a recent phenomenon. It was not the routine when I was in school, and I graduated high school in 1976. I actually met someone who was a bully in school in her day, and she admitted it to me. When we met, she was ten years younger than me, and school had been over for both of us for many years. In one of our conversations, the subject came up, and she told me how she used to “kick ass” in her school days. I asked why, and she said, “Because we were bored, and it was something fun to do”. She said that her and a bunch of other girls chose somebody at random, to make their lives miserable by all means, even physically. From further conversations with her and others like her, I realized that the real problem started in the 1980’s. That’s when violence in schools began to increase, and it’s culminating into “Columbine” and others where kids kill kids. If you look at the media, you see a definite correlation. Remember the video games in the 1980’s? Pac Man was a yellow dot that went around the screen swallowing other yellow dots. That’s not what we have today. Now, the so-called video games are war games, with blood, gore, torture, missiles, and everything you can imagine. Is it really that shocking for kids to see news from the real war zones, like Iraq, when they play games that are so realistic that are just as bad, if not worse? How can they tell the difference? When 9/11 happened, and all the stations showed the planes crashing the towers continuously, the schools noticed that kids were scared. The children thought that hundreds of buildings were coming down, and that every time they saw a plane crash into the building, it was another building. They didn’t realize that it was always the same footage. They thought each one was real. That’s why they stopped showing the footage. Kids process things their own way, until it’s explained to them. Teach children to Wish Only Well and it will be a better world for all. Remember that today’s kids are our future caregivers. That’s something to really think about.
you said those defining words "I wish you only well", do you think
those words were from you? Was it characteristic of you to say such a thing,
or was there some help from above?
can say without a doubt that those words came from something bigger and
better than me. I strongly believe that there are times in life when the
right words come out of your mouth at the right time, and times when
something stops you from talking. I think that there’s a reference in the
Bible about it. I’m paraphrasing, and it’s something to the effect of:
do not be afraid, because the right words will come when needed.
role does your faith play in wowzone?
the site, we mention that wowzone.com has no religious or political
affiliation. Nonetheless, as a person, I am a Christian, and have great
faith. I know that my faith is what keeps me sane in a world that is not.
Having been in this business for about a decade, I’ve seen and read just
about everything, and sometimes I think that if it wasn’t for my faith, I
would stop what we’re doing at wowzone, because it would be useless. I
read many books on the life of Jesus, and have several versions of the
Bible, including the Aramaic translation. As a teacher, Jesus is unmatched,
and many of our stories reflect our admiration, love and respect for Jesus.
However, we mostly have content that people of ANY faith can relate to, and
nobody is offended. In fact, we receive mostly comments about how WOW can
apply to any religion or none at all, because it’s that universal. Through
conversations with great thinkers of our time, we learned that the Golden
Rule, (treat others like you would like to be treated) or Wish Only Well, is
the ONLY commandment that all religions have in common.
brings to light the power of words and how words could very much act as a
double-edged sword. Words can be used to build or to destroy someone and
often, in relationships, two people who love each other can really sway from
one end of the spectrum to the other with their words.
can married couples and families learn from your site?
couples, families and any group that is in close contact can learn one of
the most important lessons in life on our site: Think before you speak or
act, and put yourself in the other person’s place. It sounds simple
enough, but unfortunately, we’re still thinking with a caveman mentality
in many ways, including the most basic. WOW is about EMPATHY – which means
actually feeling what the other person is feeling. That’s what changes
everything. If you truly love someone, you can’t imagine the thought of
them being hurt in any way, especially not by you. This should come
naturally, but if it doesn’t, we’re here to help remind people to Wish
can your message bring to those working on their marriages and raising a
a family is a big deal. In my opinion, not everyone is made to be a parent.
If you understand that, the rest is simple. If you have children and really
love them, as you should, you teach them well. You teach them the wonder of
life. Spoil them with love, not with toys. Love them to no end, and let them
feel it. Let them know that no matter what, your love is unconditional.
Nothing will stop your love for them. Security is one of the basic needs,
and telling your kids that you’ll always be there for them, no matter
what, fulfills one of their basic needs, which in turn will make them better
people when they go into the world.
grew up in the Montreal Italian community and we get a taste of that on the
has your cultural upbringing influenced your message?
grew up with the idea of Family First. The Family is a unit, and can’t be
taken apart, even if distance sometimes gets in the way. Near or far, family
is family. My parents sacrificed so much for us to be together. Even before
I was born, in Italy, my dad went anywhere he could find work, and would
leave the family for months at a time. He went to Germany, Switzerland, and
France for about 10 years or so. In the last 3 years, when I was only 2, my
mom joined him to speed up the process of bringing us all together. That
meant leaving 3 children behind, in the care of the Church. My sister and I
were in an orphanage run by Franciscan sisters, and my brother was in the
next town in a college run by priests. Three years later, my parents had
enough to buy a condo in Bologna, Italy. We were about to move in, when we
got the papers to come to Canada, where most of my mom’s family already
was. So we came here instead. By then, I was 5, and I had spent the
formative years with nuns. Consciously or subconsciously, something must
have filtered through into my mind and soul. I have very few memories of
that time, but I remember feeling loved. I saw all those nuns pray every day
and they all prayed together out loud, with the rest of us children
listening or praying too. We did this several times a day, and it made me
think about who could merit such love and dedication.
That was my first exposure to Jesus and Love.
do you think your message has influenced the Italian community and our
general outlook on life?
don’t know if the Italian community in particular is influenced. I know
that we reach people all over the world, for different reasons. There is so
much content on our site, that almost any search word will get you to
wowzone. People look for different things, and once they find it, they
continue reading other material on our site. We get so much email, and just
responding to it is a full time job. We reach remote corners of the world,
and many of our articles are printed out and given out to entire schools,
clubs, and various other communities around the world.
the Bible we learn that the two greatest commandments are to love God with
all your heart, soul and strength and to love your neighbor has yourself.
WOW, wish only well, most certainly matches the commandment to treat others
as we would like to be treated and to love God, for when we treat other with
love and respect, we treat God, who created us, with respect.
final comments, thoughts, ideas for our audience...
CC: Yes. I must say that Wish Only Well is SIMPLE, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s EASY. It becomes second nature after a while, but at first, you will probably find more reasons not to Wish Only Well. That’s when you see your true nature. Watch yourself as you react to anything that you resist. Become aware of what you think and do, and in time, you will have a new way of thinking – a positive way. Sometimes the WOW thing to do may not be pleasant, but if it’s the right thing to do, it still has to be done. Best of all, when you treat every being the way you would like to be treated, you treat them well. That’s like having insurance that you will be treated well too, because you reap what you sow.
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