Episode #27: Norine Spero

Norine Spero was born in the Bronx and moved to Queens at the age of 11. Always a very independent person, she traveled to Israel and throughout Europe by herself, meeting wonderful people along the way. She lived in San Francisco for a year before deciding to return to New York to go to school to become an optician. She chose that career because at the time there were few women in that field and she saw it as an opportunity. As she began her career as an optician working for the State College of Optometry she met the love of her life, Harry.

She worked in many areas of the optical world (retail, at the State College of Optometry and teaching ophthalmic optics), but found that she was not satisfied. She then worked at the Village Voice as a national account executive and was recruited by Peter Funt to be an account executive for a new magazine called On Cable (a new frontier called Cable).

She gave birth to the oh-so-amazing Harper, and was fortunate to work part-time and spend much of her time raising her little girl. When Harper began kindergarten, Norine got a position as admissions director at Barrow Street Nursery School in Greenwich Village. Ten years later an opportunity arose for Norine to become co-director of a brand new holistic healing center called Olive Leaf Wholeness Center.

For the past ten years, Norine has the distinct title of CFO of Spero Media Inc. As you can see, she is always open to trying new things and has thus far had a wide array of jobs in her life. Life is never dull! 


This week, I’m so thrilled to present a very special guest: my mom, Norine Spero. My mom has been a caregiver for me from the time I was born, and I’m so grateful that she was willing to come onto the podcast to share her experience. Some of what we discussed was familiar to me, but there were other parts of our conversation that came as a total surprise. My mom and I are very close, so I found it really incredible that there were parts of her story — and my story — that I had never heard before. On this episode, we talk about the long journey to obtain my Job’s syndrome diagnosis, and all the research and meticulous record-keeping she did in pursuit of discovering that answer and finding treatment solutions. We also talk about the doctors who listened to me, and those who had less-than-great bedside manner. Finally, we discuss how she views her role as a caregiver, and why, above all, she has always followed my lead when it comes to my health. Today, on my birthday, I’m so happy to share my amazing mom with all of you. (Just don’t try to friend her on Facebook.)

I just felt that, it’s your life. And I needed you to be comfortable with whatever it might be.

Here are some of the things my mom and I chatted about:

  • Her gut feeling that something wasn’t right with my health, and her search for answers

  • Relying on libraries and bookstores to research holistic and alternative treatments

  • Dr. Cunningham-Rundles, the doctor at Mt. Sinai who diagnosed me, and Dr. Steve Holland, the doctor from the NIH who encouraged me to come for a visit but respected that I wasn’t ready

  • What we did after my diagnosis--which interestingly, neither of us can quite remember!

  • Why she followed my lead and respected my wish to live as “normal” a life as possible

  • Emulating her own parents — who were supportive and gave her the space to explore

  • Becoming the director at a holistic health center (and my surprise it had nothing to do with me)

  • How her role as a caregiver changed as I grew up — or more accurately, how it stayed the same

  • How my dad plays a key role in this story, even though my mom took the lead as a caregiver

  • Telling friends about my health episodes as they came up, but not revealing my diagnosis

  • The painful memories associated with my health journey (one that I didn’t even know about)

  • How, for anyone with a chronic illness, the dynamic changes when you know you’re not alone

  • The role reversal that happened following my mom’s recent knee replacement surgery

  • Our plan to ride bikes together this spring (which for me, means getting over a major fear)

If I could take on the pain, I would do it in two seconds.




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krista gray