After numerous careers – as a college professor, an athlete, an event planner, a DJ, a rapper, and more – Theresa Borrelli has found her calling. Borrelli, a West New York native who lives in Weehawken, recently published her fourth book, a collection of everyday prayers.
Borrelli has always tackled a range of subjects. In 2011 she published an autobiography, I am Myself: A Woman Growing Up with Tourette Syndrome, an insightful chronicle of her personal struggles and triumphs with the disorder. “That book is being sold all over the world. I got a note from somebody in Norway who bought it,” said Borrelli.
The prayer book is something different.
Faithful Expressions: Prayers for Inspiration and Hope was published on Oct. 21, 2013 and is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online suppliers, as well as in area bookstores.
“I always felt protected in some way, and I really believe it was by God,” said Borrelli. “My mother always wanted me to believe in something. Her faith was extreme. She passed in 2004 and I took her prayer books. Well, it took me four years before I could open them up because of fear of what I would find, but the markings I found showed the goodness of the faith she had, and that’s what really opened me up.”
“Perseverance got me places.” –Theresa Borrell.
Borrelli said that growing up in West New York, she was “brought up with excellent family values, going to church, things like that.”
“I always wrote. I started out with poetry,” she explained.
Borrelli knew in her early teens that someday she would be published, but it would be another 20 years before she released her first book, entitled Voices. A collection of poems with a smattering of landscape photographs, the 1998 release was a personal celebration of life and nature.
For her next subject, Borrelli took on a highly ambitious undertaking. “I knew at 13 I would write my biography,” she said. “I even had the title.”
That book became the Tourette’s book.
And her third book, What is Jamie Different?, once again addressed the theme of Tourette Syndrome, this time in the form of an illustrated children’s book about a girl who is afflicted with the disorder.
Borrelli is currently at work on her next project, another children’s book. “It’s called I Wanna Play Too,” says Borrelli. “It’s about a little girl who has Tourette’s in grade school, a young girl who plays basketball and is confronted by bullies and she gets through it. It’s about acceptance, education, and motivation.”
Faithful Expressions brings Borrelli back to a format similar to her first book, a collection of short pieces. Although that’s not how it started out.
“At a very young age, maybe about 10, 11, I wrote my first song,” said Borrelli. “I’m not good at music itself, just words, lyrics. I played instruments but I was not very good at all.”
She found unexpected inspiration in Maya Angelou. Attending an Ashford and Simpson concert where Angelou provided a spoken-word performance over the music, Borrelli determined to try the same thing. The result was the CD One Life, One Will, on which Borrelli recited her poetry atop music by Reginald Anthony and Kyle “Majik” Jackson.
Borrelli’s songwriting began to take on a different tone after her mother died. “I wanted to write Christian songs. My faith has always been there but it got stronger I’d say 2008.”
Eventually those songs morphed into yet another form. “I always prayed since a young child. So what I decided was to turn the lyrics I had for Christian songs into prayers.” And those prayers became her newest book.
An athlete since age 9, excelling at softball and basketball, Borrelli has a master’s degree in criminal justice. She has served as a probation officer in Hudson County. “Juvenile and adult, mostly juvenile,” she said. “I worked with children and young adults just about most of my life.”
With her wealth of experience, Borrelli is energetic, positive, and ambitious. “You have to promote and market yourself,” she said. “I was always a promoter and marketer and go-getter with things I wanted. Perseverance got me places.”
Art Schwartz may be reached at email@example.com.