Twin Sisters, Forever Advocates ❤️❤️
Alycia and her able-bodied twin Regina reminisce about their childhood
Alycia Anderson: Welcome to Pushing Forward with Alycia, a podcast that gives disability a voice. Each week we will explore topics like confidence, ambition, resilience and finding success against all odds. We are creating a collective community that believes that all things are possible for all people.
Open hearts. Clear paths. Let’s go.
Hello, everybody. Welcome back to Pushing Forward with Alycia. I am Alycia and I am super excited to have some more time and space with you today. So almost every time I speak, this person is included in my stories on the stage, actually to the point when I get done speaking and I am doing my Q&A’s a lot of times I have audience members either ask while I am up on stage and or approach me if this person is going to surprise them when we are wrapping up. So, they can meet her.
So, this is a really personal interview for me and I am really excited to have her here.
I have Regina Weinstein here as my special guest today, and I usually read BIOs and talk about accolades, but the first thing that I could say about who Regina Weinstein is… she is literally the other half of me. She is the egg split into the identical twin, the able-bodied half of me that I have been chasing around my entire life.
She is a business executive. She is a mom of an amazing little sweet daughter who happens to have a congenital heart defect. She has the honor to have become an advocate in her own mom pass. So, we will talk about that a little bit.
And, she is an advocate and an ally. She is a wife. And, she is just my best friend and she is a huge piece of my becoming extremely proficient in inclusion. Regina has always been kind of my secret weapon. My… She has been my advocate. Like she is opened a lot of doors for me that I was afraid to open when I was not quite settled with who I am fully.
So, did I miss anything that you want to share before we start diving into goodies?
Regina Weinstein: Now it is absolutely my honor to be here. Your intro already made me feel like I was on the verge of tearing up. It has been my honor and my life path to share this journey with you, and It has been so fun to do it.
As a team, I have loved every second of It. It has been from the second of conception that we ended up together and it has just been such a joy in my life to always have that person, like my special person, the one that knows me the most, the one that has always been there for me, the one that will never let me… leave me behind or let me go.
And, that is you.
Alycia Anderson: So, I do not know… I think we should start looking back when we were growing up. Like, what was it like? Do you remember recognizing the difference between the two of us?
Regina Weinstein: Yeah, I mean definitely, I think the two things I think about: one, I have always kind of been the cheerleader or the sideline person and it is interesting how that is translated into most of my life, not just with my twin sister, but as you mentioned, my daughter.
You know, I’ve kind of been the person to be there to coach, hold hands, support, include, never leave behind, and I never felt complete without that other piece.
And so, you know… this… I think the analogy or just comparison of the sideline cheerleader is definitely a role that I feel that I have always had, and I think that really started with us growing up from birth together and our parents really training me to be the helper.
The good helper, our little helper, you know that is a term that I recall in life and I was referred to a lot that way. Why? Because our parents opened up this window of love that just encouraged us to support one another.
And that was not just specifically to you because you have disability. It was throughout each one of us, right? We were just a three whole group each piece made-up a puzzle and it defined it correctly and you growing up at times needed more of that helper than most children would at that age, and. my heart opened to allow that to be a part of my every day.
And so those are the two things I think of. It is like cheerleader sideline cheerleader rooting you on holding your hand, but never in control, you know, never having that control that you… that you want.
It is like you have to just… the only things that you can do are love and support and pray and hope and be thankful for medicine and you know just the people that we are going to have to like help bring you to the next step in your life. So that your life would continue and you would live on.
And my job was to be there to hold your hand and that has always been the case and that will always be the case.
Alycia Anderson: Yeah. I think it also gives you the strategy that you are really good at, which is you are really quick to be adaptable on the fly and to find solutions that work for people.
We… at least from my perspective, I do not remember there being a noticeable difference between us until we were a little bit older.
And so, like that natural… like Ella does it. Ella is Regina’s daughter. Ella does that now with me naturally as well. Like, she is starting to recognize that there is a disability, but she does not like, judge it, or put limitations on it and I feel like that is what we did collectively, but you had a much harder job than that, right?
Like whether we realized it or not, you had his twin sister that was following you around with equipment and medical problems and going in and out of the hospital.
Which, I… like now as an adult, I am sure was traumatic, not realizing it back then, you know, for you, but I think what all of that has given you is that you know how to adapt things on the fly. Whether it is at… I mean, Regina and I have worked together. We are very co-dependent, actually, we… our lives have been the same friends.
And look, we live in different cities, but it is probably good for our husbands. So, we are not like at each other’s house every single day and all of those things.
But that has translated into your life as well as for your friends, for your family, for your husband, for your in-laws, for your daughter, for your everybody that you really, you are constantly just like making it happen and like making sure everybody feels really good, and I think that is a beautiful trait.
Regina Weinstein: But we also had the honor of having very forward-thinking parents that have very. Unconventional time for it, right? The things that. They were doing. In 1975, to advocate for you and me as well are things that people were not doing. At that time.
Alycia Anderson: I think it is an important thing to recognize that I need to remember myself. Is. They were advocating for me and you. And like, when you actually take a step back and you look at that relationship and you know, like we can only… like our parents are gone. So, we can only assume some of these things, but they were advocating for us to be together and to have the same life opportunities.
And if, either one of us would have had any falter in that, the other one would have been also missing out, even if they were the one that was included.
Regina Weinstein: It is you are born with a disability and you have a twin sister, or a twin, and you are walking the life path together. It… just like you mentioned, it paves the road differently because anyone who has siblings knows that one is trying to do what the other person is doing, and whether that is you trying to fulfill a need for yourself as a disabled child.
I am still observing that so some of the behaviors that you are learning to shape your life I was also utilizing in my own life.
You just do not know the difference of how you have to like, learn to modify your life on the fly, to succeed to whatever the end result is, and that can be getting the syrup for your pancake, and that can mean getting to the top floor because you have to go to the bathroom, or that can mean meeting friends at school. Like, you just learn to do it together and you do it by observing one another, and that goes for you watching me, me watching you and then us figuring out how we are going to enjoy our life, you know.
And, how we apply these lessons and come up with the blended early initial adoption of inclusion.
I mean, that is really what happened, just both wanted to be included in whatever the other person is doing and our parents the reason that we did that was because our parents taught us very early that that is how you live and that is how you love. And do you think that?
Alycia Anderson: They did not know that we were going to be born together with… they know they are having twins, but did not know one was going to be disabled.
Do you think like that methodology was self-preservation on the fly? Like, oh, we are in the situation like how do we handle this? We just handle it like we would no matter what or do you think that it was just embedded in them to like be like that or maybe a little bit of both?
Regina Weinstein: Well, I think now that I am a mom and you probably see some of this as well because you love Ella like she is your own as well, but all you want is the best for your child.
So, if I think of my own situation and insert myself into what they were doing, which obviously I do often because I have a child who has, you know, a medical condition that is going to be ongoing her entire life.
I do think about what they would do and what they would say and how they would handle it, but all you want is the best for them. You just you do not… I am sure they look… that, like there is no reason why this amazing child with this beautiful brain and this amazing personality should not be doing the same things as her sister and vice versa.
So, I think it is just that natural parent thing that kicks in when you become a parent. That your goal is to make sure that you are doing the best for them that you possibly can, and in our parents’ eyes and their vision, things like education should not have been a segregated or separated things.
You know at that point… the you know… the children with disabilities and quite frankly, it is still happening today, but children with disabilities were completely isolated from children without disabilities, and that does not matter what your disability is.
And so, me being a mom, if that was happening to my child and you know that there is no reason for her or he to be sitting in that classroom and having those same opportunities to learn and build their brain and become a strong and independent person through education and thought.
Alycia Anderson: And social… socially.
Regina Weinstein: There’s so many layers of it of why it is important and I can see why our mom was dead set on making sure that you were placed in a classroom with me and that is exactly what happened.
And it was a bold move, and it was something she had to fight for.
Yeah, it was not… none of it was… none of it was easy for her but talk about accomplishing something that, like, really matters!
It was like a big part of a huge change in a movement that would not come into play until 20 years later so many years later, so, so, so, many years later.
And there is still so much work to do.
So, I just think when you when you love your children and you have children all you want is the best for them.
And that is exactly what they were doing and made very good decisions.
Alycia Anderson: Our mom passed away when we were seven from leukemia and so she did a lot of this ground breaking… Because she… And so, she did all this work kind of laying down the foundation of inclusion before she passed away.
And then my dad, kind of… our dad like filled in the gaps and make sure that her wishes happened, which was, you know, for us to be together and to have the same opportunities and all those things.
This is a perfect time to take a quick break, you. Are listening to Pushing Forward with Alycia and we will be right back.
Alycia Anderson: Welcome back to Pushing Forward with Alycia. I am Alycia. I have Regina Weinstein here as my special guest today, and she is literally the other half of me. She is the egg split into the identical twin, the able-bodied half of me that I have been chasing around my entire life.
It has been an interesting thing with you becoming a mom to a daughter who has got you know some medical challenges.
What has been one of the most amazing things in experiencing that is watching you and Shane, your husband, kind of go down the same path that like our parents did with us and with me.
With, you know… so it has been interesting to watch you and Shane as a mother and father. Go through, you know, surgeries and scary things and ongoing advocacy and making sure that she has all the resources. It has almost been messages from heaven on like what our life looked like with our mom specifically.
I know you are just so much like her because when I watch you be a mother today and lean into that advocacy… the not only advocacy, but like educating people and empowering Ella to be proud of her scar and to be the strong little loving girl that she is, and I it has been a joy for me to sit back and watch.
Regina Weinstein: It really goes back to the whole cheerleader; I am on the sidelines. You know, I honestly think it is just I have something within me that has given me the strength to somehow go through that because it is really hard watching people that you love go through really hurt things, but I would not change any of it.
Alycia Anderson: It just helps me reflect, especially with Papa, our dad, because our mom died when we were so young. He was the one that was really like pushing me through a lot of, like, really scary surgeries, and I think that his mentality of just go on and get it done is what he taught me and that might seem a little bit harsh.
It gave me that mentality from a young age, like, OK, it is time… go do it. We are gonna. Get through it next.
But I sometimes think those are the moments of him like… Like that is the way he was able to deal with it… with me getting in a power place instead of being afraid. But…
Regina Weinstein: I call it business mode. It is almost like this… this strength that comes into your soul and your body and you just get it done and then it passes and you do not think about it anymore.
You do not worry about it.
Yes, you have to get checkups and you know that, you know, this is not likely to happen again, but you do not let it allow… you do not allow it to consume your life to completely derail everything that you are trying to do.
You just get back to life and you are grateful for the health and the recovery, and the new opportunity you have to live on.
Because these things have to happen now, some of the things that you’ve been through and some of the things that my daughters been through are things that some people will never, ever, ever understand because they’re so massive that it’s not most people don’t have to go through all these challenges, but for those of us that have to do and those of us… those of us that are part of it…, you just figure out a way to dig deep and find the strengths and go into business mode and get it done.
But I am grateful for it all, you know, our journey is been complex and there has been a lot of layers in it, but I just I would not change any of it. Not weird to say because we have lost our parents and you know, I have got this situation with my daughter that is, you know, going to be part of our life forever. And you know, you are ongoing medical and all these things.
But it is like, how do we change it? Like, we are so lucky for the love that we have… has been incorporated into just us through having parents that gave us some really strong lessons early on.
Alycia Anderson: Yeah, we are lucky.
Regina Weinstein: We just were always treated the same in every situation, and we are twins and we are identical twins, so that means not only do you want the same thing but you want to act the same way you… You know and so I… this story just resonates with me… as our mom going into the grocery store and my quarter going in and it a red gumball coming out and then you just losing it.
Cannot get past not having the same red gumball and her just going back to the well to like cash in… cash for quarters until that red gumball came out, you know, because we just did not see differences in one another.
We just we are twins. You know, we just always wanted what the other wanted?
Alycia Anderson: I do not want my life to be different. I do not want you… do not want your, you know, it is just like we are who we are, but we are separate but one.
Regina Weinstein: If they are hurt moments of things that happen in our life that, you know, I never wanted you to feel bad about right or hurt over going to dances. That was really hard for me, getting in an invitation to go to a dance and you potentially not having an invitation to that specific dance, but we are still at home, putting on makeup together and getting ready together.
We are doing all the things that we always did together, but then I would leave and like that stuff quite frankly, sucks.
I live with it still. It will never go away. It was almost like I did not want to do certain things in my life where I knew that it would be hurtful to you because I know that… if it because I know how you feel.
I have… I feel your emotions.
I feel like we can feel each other and a lot of regard, and so I did live with a lot of it… with the guilt. It was just more like hurt in my own self knowing that things that potentially were occurring in my life were not occurring in the same way in your life.
But you know what? That is transitioned in adulthood to be the opposite.
So, though while we were younger and you are going through all those hard years and uncomfortable years and years of growth. I had more of that.
You are in a position now where you have got your own business. You are thriving, you are traveling, you have got all these amazing professional experiences and you are building your business around what you truly love and believe in.
You know, so I think as an adult you can almost flip the script a little bit with some of that shifting and almost foot popping, right?
I am the afterthought, and that is totally OK with me, but that is… that is true. You know, like you are in the center of all of this right now, and I am so proud of you, but you can see how some of…
Sort of it changes overtime, right?
But either way, some of those early years were hard. They were hard internally for me.
Alycia Anderson: I never felt resentment towards you at all, that you were going to prom and I was not or any of that.
Like, was I sad sometimes? Yeah. I mean, sure.
I think my biggest mental health challenges was in, like, high school and adolescence, and I did not want to just be the friend, and I wanted to go on a date. You know, and those things are just a little bit harder sometimes when you are growing up disabled, and you are right, opportunities come and go and but back then, it was even harder probably to separate the two because we really did do every single thing together.
Regina Weinstein: I do think it is changed over time and I think that is because you mature and everyone is you know we become like fine wine as people we just get better and we learn more.
You know and we just get in a position where we think differently and you just evolve.
And so, it makes sense that you have really blossomed and you have always blossomed, but. You know this?
This is your time… like you know this past 10 years has been your time to shine. Your time to grow… glow… just sparkle!
You have worked really, really hard to kind of like accept yourself in a different way and start talking about things that, quite frankly we did not talk about as much when we were younger, and it is allowed you to totally turn into this…You… and amazing you!
And it is totally through self-acceptance and totally through believing in your beauty and seeing your strength and knowing that what you are saying is what you need to be saying so that the world can learn from a different perspective and that is the perspective of inclusive love.
We are just figuring out a way to absolutely love everybody, and understand how we get there through communication and an open heart, you know.
So, this blossom of yours in the last 10 years has been powerful. It has been our parents, like literally, are glowing down from the heavens. You are speaking their word and you are sharing their message, and you are growing their beliefs through what you are doing every day.
And that is a big deal. It is a really, really, really big deal.
Because you are allowing a fresh perspective, that is your own perspective and how you believe inclusion works the most effectively through your own actions and that is a big… that is a really big deal.
Alycia Anderson: That’s a huge compliment and I feel like it is an opportunity to give our mom a voice.
Out of anyone that really passed away, way too young, and I think that… I think we are both living the lives that she would have dreamt for us, and just like you say, I am shining bright.
You are shining so bright too, as a mother and like this path that you are on with your family and… you are living the life that she did not get to.
Regina Weinstein: I do feel that it is really… it is really weird sometimes. I look in the mirror and I think about my daughter, and I think you know, like I remember sitting with Ella.
And it was the first time I am… that she was old enough… that we sat down and we painted our nails, and toenails together.
And I sat there, and I wept the entire time because all I could think in my head is… this is what it was like to do this with my mom.
And I do not know what that feels like because I was too young, and so it is really awesome to pull in this perspective of what she must have felt like being our mom, through being a mom of a child who is a similar age, where we lost her.
It is all we can do is honor them through our behavior and do as much of it as we can while we are here and yeah, I just… I love you.
I am just really proud of you. I am… just the whole thing.
The whole thing, the whole journey everything that you have already been doing, it has just been… it has been…, it has been a powerful leap of faith and belief in yourself, shifting and shaping the world and how people see things and how they believe things.
And it is working… like it is happening, you know, it is just… it is there, it is in your…, it is in your palm of your hand right now, and it is completely ******.
Alycia Anderson: And I think like the work too… Like you were saying, I am actually finally settled with who I am.
Regina Weinstein: Yeah.
Alycia Anderson: Can I share my favorite story?
Regina Weinstein: Yeah.
Alycia Anderson: You and I talked about the story a couple weeks ago, but this just shows how Regina and I always look at ourselves as being the same.
And when we were little, one of my, our moms friends told us that we were driving in a car and we were in the back seat together, and one of us had a pair of sunglasses on that was missing a lens.
So, there was a lens, and one missing and then the other… And I do not know who was who, but the other one had an intact pair of sunglasses, and we are both sitting back in our car seats or whatever wearing these sunglasses and my mom and her girlfriend were in the front of the car chit chatting and talking and whatever.
And they would keep looking back, check on us, and one of those times they looked back to check on us the twin with the intact glasses had popped out a lens so her glasses were missing a lens just the same as the other twin.
And like that just is, like, so indicative of us making sure that we are doing the exact same thing all the time, no matter what.
So, I love that story so much.
Regina Weinstein: I love it too. It is so fun.
Alycia Anderson: So, I like to wrap up with challenging my guest to share with the audience a little nugget that would help our audience push forward through whatever they are trying to get through in their life… for them to be inspired and leave here feeling empowered.
Regina Weinstein: I just think you have to lead with love.
I do not know what else to say, except for you just have to have an open heart and you have to think about other people’s feelings, and you have to… you just always have to put yourself in someone else’s.
Even just to really, really, really know that you are supporting anyone in your life and to not be afraid to jump into things that feel like they are out of your norm or different or uncomfortable and just doing those things in general… open that so many avenues of experience and compassion and friendship.
And just happiness in life. I just think another important piece is gratitude and really feeling grateful for the blessings and the things that have been placed in your life are so important to carry on.
And to really stop and think about and focus on, and I think that really has helped me be a fulfilled happy person.
As well, so I have to ask you, what did you think I was going to say?
Alycia Anderson: I thought you going to Granny’s advice, the way to live. You should give that to end anyways, I mean.
Regina Weinstein: You do it.
Alycia Anderson: No, you do it. You do it better.
Regina Weinstein: Our granny is Rose Marie Busciglio, who was our life mentor. She picked up a lot of pieces for our family throughout our life, and before she had passed away our younger brother Nicholas went up to Granny and said, Granny, what is the secret of life?
And she said, the secret of life is to be a good person and to be kind to others.
Alycia Anderson: I love you.
Regina Weinstein: So that kind of sums up my long-winded earlier explanation, but yes, it is really important. So, I love.
Alycia Anderson: Well, thank you. This is iteration #1.
I love you too. This was so fun to finally have some sort of a stage together. I cannot wait to get you on stage with me at some point.
Regina Weinstein: Oh yeah, let us do it.
Alycia Anderson: Yeah, we need to, and thank you to everyone else who sat in with us today.
We are grateful for it and I hope to see you next time.
This is pushing forward with Alycia. And that is how we roll in this podcast.
Regina Weinstein: Love you.