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The Playlist Curator

The Mix TapeThere are things that drive us all and we embrace those passions that are the essence of who we are as human beings.

For me, it’s technology, music, writing and storytelling.

When I first read Rob Sheffield’s “Love is a Mix Tape”, I understood exactly what he meant immediately. The power of sharing a curated list of music that tells a specific story to a specific person is enormously fulfilling but often, extremely difficult.

We all have different tastes in music; we all hear and tell different stories. Offering people a “story” to listen to that they may not have had the opportunity otherwise, for whatever reason, and helping them experience something new is nothing less than awesome.

It’s an enormous responsibility and it’s a high-stakes game of getting and keeping a listener’s attention. When done right, not only do you attain a new and loyal customer/listener, but you’ve now built trust in that relationship and just maybe opened your user’s ears to something entirely new and exciting.

The Spotify Playlist

I love building products and programs. I have been in technology my entire career, tactfully bridge the gap between my customers and dev/ops, curate strategic relationships, listen to what others (and data) tell me, and love sharing the enormity of music (and products) with everyone.

How could this not be the best job in the world? After all, isn’t life too short to chase the life we thought we were supposed to have and instead embrace the passions that have always been right in front of us?

For me, it’s music and storytelling. What’s your passion? Are you embracing it?

That Second First Best Friend

Coming of Age Friendship Teachable Moments

That Second First Best Friend

Many years ago, I watched my son experience, for the first time, the evolution of that first best friend. It was something beautiful to watch and it brought me back to when I was a kid experiencing the same feelings. We never forget how awesome that first friend was. We never forget how invincible we felt when we were together. The laughs, the tears, the hard times, the fun times. They are often the best memories of our childhood.

But life complicates, as usual. We quickly realize that growing up is hard – and real friendships are hard to find. What gets us through those tough times are those friends we choose to share our lives and our families with. They prop us up, stand behind us, and never, ever judge.

I’ve had my own struggles lately. And no matter what happens, I know I’ve got some amazing friends in my corner.  And honestly, I’ll take that over anything else in the world right now.

We have to learn how to be a good friend. It’s hard. And it starts as kids in the playground. My heart melts when I see my son and begin his own journey. While his first best friend had a place in the process of learning to be a good friend and person, it’s the second first best friend several years later that is molding them into the type of friend they will be for the rest of their lives.

Chatting about life.

But we never forget that first best friend. I remember clearly when I dropped my son off at preschool one morning, he uncharacteristically was upset that I was leaving him. It was his second year and never once previously did he show any signs of separation anxiety.

So I asked him, “what’s wrong?”

He reluctantly conceded, “I miss Jordan.” His first best friend who was no longer in his class.

I couldn’t help but feel for him. We’ve all been there.

Do you remember your first best friend?

The one that you played tag with at the playground and ate at the same table in the lunchroom. The one that made you feel cool for the first time when they showed you how to turn your baseball hat backwards.

The one that made you feel comfortable in that new school with those new kids and new teachers when you thought your insides were going to explode you were so nervous.

The one that you got sent to the principal’s office with for the first time even though, of course, it wasn’t your fault. Hypothetically speaking.

The one that liked the same girl but of course you never talked about it.

The one that you rode bikes with throughout the neighborhood for the first time without your parents watching. You had finally broken free of the confines of the driveway.

Explorers, you were.

They were the one that went a little too far into the woods with you and although you both were afraid that you wouldn’t find your way back out as it got darker and darker, you didn’t say a word about it to each other. But you both knew.

You got in your first fight together although you have no idea what you were fighting about. It hurt but you made believe it didn’t.

He showed you that magazine that he found. You know, the one with the pictures. Of girls. It was awesome but you didn’t even understand why yet.

When you got older, you snuck out of the house together at night for the first time to meet up with your friends that had a later curfew and subsequently locked yourselves out of the house.

Then you both experienced ‘being grounded’.

He saw you cry over a girl for the first time and then the next month did the same thing over the same girl. You understood.

You graduated from high school together and swore you’d stay in touch and see each other often, but you didn’t.

You visited each other in college a few times and it was as if time had never passed while you were together but your visits became less and less frequent. You were both busy studying and hanging out with your ‘other’ friends.

You both eventually got married. He was in your wedding. You were in his. Memorable speeches were made and you laughed and told stories of times gone by.

You bought a house. Had kids. He did the same.

You keep in touch but not as much as you had hoped. You meet up now and then and as always, time stops for those few short hours until you meet again.

Life gets complicated and busy and we all accept that. We cherish the time we DO have together.

But as life further complicates and responsibilities demand our time and attention, when I think back to all the great times we’ve shared together, I can’t help but realize that some of the best moments of my life were back on that playground with you.

Tag, you’re it.

A Moment In Time

Little Bastard

As you may know, Connor looks in the trash every morning and counts how many pieces of candy mummy and daddy ate after he went to bed. And then announces the number to everyone while shaking his finger back and forth. Tisk, Tisk.

BUT, little does he know that we ate this many after he went to bed last night but only put 3 wrappers in the trash.  Touche!

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93 Days Dads Daughters Family Life NICU Prematurity

10 Years Ago, Yesterday

Yesterday, 10 years ago, was the worst day of my life.

It was also Ava & Zoe’s 10th birthday which, granted, implores a more thorough explanation before the Facebook mamas schedule an event after “coffee Tuesdays” to have me lynched.

What exactly happened 10 years ago is something that I will endure forever, but that being said, even 10 years later, I continue to live with the consequences of that day.

I had a hard time yesterday; I tried to write about it, I tried to post online about it, and I tried to dig deep and find my patience for the special day.

I fell short of my self-imposed demand of pseudo-perfection.

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Life is hard. Parenting is harder. And when you mix in the challenges that some kids live with each day (of all kinds and extents), it not only affects them, but it can, and often does paralyze the entire family.

At least temporarily.  We find comfort in that “tomorrow is always another day” when we can try again.

The innate problem with that resolve, reluctantly, is that we don’t have an infinite bucket of tomorrows. We can’t just repeatedly chalk it up as a bad day. We have to find strategies and alternatives to help our kids be successful in the things that move all of us – the passions that make us who we are and give us purpose in life. Otherwise, what’s the point?

In particular, Zoe had a rough day yesterday. Her extreme frustration with the mundane and ordinary is hard to comprehend. As a “normally” adjusted adult, it baffles me and in return, my own frustration elevates and nothing constructive comes from our collective meltdown. That doesn’t mean either of our feelings are any less valid, but it does present a problem and requires a gargantuan level of patience for which I do not typically have reserves.

Some believe it’s often best to remove emotion from these situations and approach it more objectively. That often works in business and other aspects of my life but, on a personal level, it goes against the very fabric of my existence. I wear my heart on my shoulder; I make no excuses for it and am grateful for being able to access that part of my soul as I know it’s so very hard for many people.

Emotion, for me, is the *food of life*. It makes us human and to take that away defeats the purpose of connecting to one another, to our world, and most importantly, to ourselves on a higher, more intimate level.

I guess the point is that we cannot mask our emotions or feelings, however absurd others may think they are. Rather, we should own them, understand where they come from, and find ways to embrace and channel that passion into something purposeful and meaningful instead of letting them escalate, unbridled until they become the cog in our lives that keeps us from becoming, *awesome*.

We all need to find ways to to celebrate who we are  even if we don’t know who that is just yet.

For the past 10 years, somewhere in the back of my mind I’ve been trying to play the fit the square peg in a round hole game. I’m learning, albeit excruciatingly slowly, that I need to play a different game altogether.

The game I learned as a kid is not the same game they play. Together, we need to learn, and accept, a lot of things about each other:

  • that the rules are different
  • that there are no rules
  • that they don’t always know the “why”
  • that their feelings don’t have to make sense to me
  • that their feelings don’t have to make sense to them
  • that they want to be happy but sometimes don’t know how
  • that I am the center of their world and that is a gift, not a right
  • that they are never going to be who I thought they should be, or think, or feel
  • that they are their own imperfect versions of themselves
  • that they don’t have to do things my way
  • that they have choices
  • that they are smart, funny, beautiful
  • that ***what they have to say is important***
  • that I have time for them
  • that I will protect them
  • that I am *trying* to help
  • that I need to be more patient
  • that my primary job is to be their Dad and not their friend
  • that I’m not trying to make their lives more difficult but rather make it easier
  • that I don’t understand sometimes
  • that we don’t have to always agree
  • that you don’t always have to understand your feelings
  • that it’s ok to be frustrated
  • that it’s ok to be sad and not really know why
  • that it’s ok to want to be alone sometimes
  • that it’s ok to ask for help
  • that you don’t have to be good at everything
  • that you don’t need to learn how to ride a bike
  • that you are entitled to your own space – physically and emotionally
  • that what you feel is valid, good, and important
  • that Daddy makes mistakes too
  • that you can do anything you want in life
  • and that I’m imperfect and that’s ok too.

Yesterday, 10 years ago, was one of *the best days of my life. In an instant, you gave my life more purpose and meaning than I could have ever imagined. And each and every day since, you have pushed me to think and learn *differently*, love more, and become a better Dad and a better person.

Embrace who you are, own your emotions, and never, ever forget, that you are, and always will be the center of my world.

Happy Birthday.

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Pearl Jam | Fenway Park | August 5th, 2016

Amazing night. Amazing friends. Amazing Music.

Ahhhh, the music.

Setlist:

Setlist Encore #1 Encore #2
1. Release 20. Strangest Tribe 29. Draw the Line (Aerosmith cover)
2. Long Road 21. Society (Jerry Hannan cover) 30. Alive
3. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town 22. Just Breathe 31. I’ve Got a Feeling (The Beatles cover)
4. Low Light 23. Sleeping by Myself (Eddie Vedder song) 32. Baba O’Riley
5. All Those Yesterdays 24. Wasted Reprise
6. Given to Fly 25. Life Wasted
7. Mind Your Manners 26. State of Love and Trust
8. Why Go 27. Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd cover)
9. Daughter 28. Corduroy
10. Even Flow
11. Faithfull
12. Grievance
13. I Am Mine
14. Down
15. Black (with Bronson Arroyo)
16. Do the Evolution
17. Masters of War (Bob Dylan cover)
18. I Am a Patriot (Little Steven cover)
19. Porch