Author: Kip Durney

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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 Coming of Age Dads Parenting Sons

Winter Stars

10298900_10152461131596349_2506598118229131661_nWhen I got home last night, the kids were already in bed. It was about 8:30pm and Val told me that she thought Connor was still awake so I headed upstairs to check and hopefully be able to say good night.

I walked into his darkened room quietly so as to not wake him if he were in fact asleep.

“Hi Daddy.”

“Hi Buddy. Why are you still awake?”

“Sometimes when you aren’t home I have a hard time falling asleep.”

“Well I’m here now so it’s time to hit the sack my little friend.”

He protested mildly with “But it’s so hot in here.”

It was pretty warm outside so his room was a sweatbox. He’s the type of kid who’s always hot even if it’s 62 degrees in his room.

“Why don’t we open the windows for a few minutes and look at the stars?” I offered.

He jumped out of bed and knelt on the floor next to me. We opened the window and rested our crossed arms on the windowsill with our heads poking out into the night sky.

It was very quiet.

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“Look at all those stars Daddy. How many are there?

“A lot. But see that one there? The really bright one? Notice how it doesn’t twinkle? That’s because it’s a planet!! “

“Wow! Really? So I just saw a planet?”

“Yup, you did.”

There was a long pause as we both stared up at the stars from the window of his second story bedroom window. He eventually rested his head against my shoulder.

“Look at that star Daddy!! It’s blinking blue!”

“That’s an airplane Connor.”

He laughed heartily.

“I wish I had a flashlight right now so I could shine it up to the sky. A flashlight that had wings and could fly up to the stars! That would be so cool.”

“That would be cool. When I was a kid, I always had a flashlight next to my bed just like you do, although it didn’t have wings. But when you wake up in the morning you’ll be 6 years old! Maybe you’ll get a new flashlight as a present.

“Grandpa Bob is getting me a wheel barrow.”

“Oh, ok.”

We sat in silence for several minutes staring at the winter sky and Connor’s head resting against my shoulder now with his arm entwined with mine.

“I love you Daddy.”

“I love you too buddy. Happy almost birthday.”

Giggle

“Tickle Fight!!” he exclaimed.

“Tomorrow buddy. Tomorrow when you’re 6.”

“Is tomorrow a Dude Day?” He asked excitedly.

“No, tomorrow is a school day but it’s also your birthday!!”

“Ok, good night Daddy.”

“Good night Connor. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

A Moment In Time sports

Why Did I Run the Falmouth Road Race?

I am not a runner.

In fact, there was a distinct possibility that I would finish last in the “race” and would require reflective gear for when the sun set and I would be crossing that finish line.  But with a little encouragementFalmouth Road Race - 2014, some oxygen, and with the knowledge that the funds that I helped to raise just might – or WILL – save someone’s life is all I need.

 

I dare say we all live pretty good lives.  And we all take life for granted to some degree.  Lives can change in an instant and sometimes, sometimes, people are given a new chance at life as a result of organ donation.  And other times that chance never comes because there just aren’t enough to go around.

I am not a runner.  But I ran my heart out trying to do my part because if that was my kid who needed a transplant, I need to know I did everything I could to keep that hope alive.

Maybe it’s our turn to give back.

And thanks for offering to pick me up off the ground at about mile 6 and reminding me of this message.

It wasn’t pretty but I did it.  I did it!

Thanks to you all who supported me.  It means the world to me and to all those waiting for transplant.

A Moment In Time Family Holidays Life Tragic Events

A Modern-Day Love Story

Recently, I sadly lost my grandmother.  Of course losing someone you love is difficult and tragic but the strongest emotions I felt were not of sadness and loss but rather of appreciation and gratitude.  In fact, it was rather a time to to celebrate her life and the family she created with my grandfather.  She was an amazing woman and, well, her story is a modern-day love story to be shouted from the rooftops near and far as we all could learn a thing or two.

I was asked to write and share a eulogy at her funeral.  The priest later asked for a copy so that he could share it with newly engaged couples as to him, it represented the epitome of how to love and the importance of being a ‘family.’

So for what it’s worth, I wanted to share it with you as well and hope that it reminds you, in some tangible way, to always remember that family is everything – including that crazy aunt of yours.

Whenever we lose someone who has had such a significant impact on our lives, we of course, grieve and mourn that irreplaceable loss.  But when I think of Nana, I can’t help but realize just how amazing this story is – the story of her life.

She was born in Nova Scotia but grew up in Everett.  Eventually she settled here in Melrose where she has lived since 1951.  She met my grandfather shortly after high school and they have been together ever since – for more than 71 years.

I don’t know what it takes to make a relationship like that work so incredibly well and for so many years, but I do know that the love they shared was real, it was tangible, it was infectious, and it was the epitome of the modern day love story.

Nana loved to swim at the Y, bowl, and spend time with her two best friends – her sisters Clara and Anita.  I never had the chance to bowl with her but I heard she was a force with which to be reckoned.  In particular, she loved to go on long walks exploring the nooks and crannies of Boston with her sister Clara.

She loved her friends and her family but most of all, she cherished her one true love, my grandfather.

They raised 11 amazing children: Pam, Paul, Charlie, Peter, Tommy, Pat, Chris, Maryellen, Peggy, Jimmy, and Johnny.  Some of them left us far too soon, boldly reminding us of the fragility of life and the importance of living for today.

I often think about what that must have been like growing up with that many siblings and who got the shower first, or who shared a room with whom.  I myself have 3 young children at home and can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to have lived in a house with 11 of the short people.  But somehow, I’ve been told, Nana was able to keep the peace – relatively speaking I’m sure.

I have vivid memories of the house up on the hill with the 862 steps from the street.  At least, as a kid, it seemed like that many.  And I always seemed to be the one that had to run down to the car to get something!  But I didn’t care.  It was in that house on the hill on East Wyoming where all the holidays took place and where many of our precious collective memories were born.

All the kids were there.  All the cousins were there.  Beevo was there.  Grampa was there.  And Nana was there concocting those delectable aromas from the kitchen – the gravy, the meatballs, the desserts.  I can almost smell them now.

When the kids were older and moved out on their own, Nana & Grampa moved to a smaller house on Orris Street.  And then some of the kids moved back in but that’s a story for another time.  They made it their new home, their new castle, and again, the de-facto meeting place for all holidays and family events.

Nana and Grampa would often sit together, always together, perched up on the back porch, a king with his queen, and proudly watch the relentless stream of kids below running through the yard, rolling in the grass, splashing in the pool, and occasionally stepping on a flower much to the chagrin of my grandfather.  But Nana always just smiled and basked in the joy of what she held so close to her heart: her family.

She would greet us with that smile and wrap her arm around our chests with that quiet but assertive demeanor that made you feel safe and always feel welcome.

And she offered us food because that’s what grandmothers do.

Nana dedicated her life to her family.  All of us.  Every birthday, Christmas, Easter, anniversary, and Thanksgiving we gathered because family was everything to her.  She understood that, and taught us the same.  It’s now up to us to keep that spirit alive.

This is her love story and she has shown us how to live exceptionally:

To have fallen in love with the love of your life and have lived that dream together for over 71 years.

To have 11 amazing children who stood by your side and never forgot the importance of being a family.

To have been blessed with 21 grandchildren and to have loved them the exceptional way you did.

To leave behind a legacy of 17 great-grandchildren who will no doubt treasure the stories and lessons of your life as they begin their own.

And most importantly, to amass the most impressive collection of those short Hilltop martini glasses this side of Melrose.

We are the lucky ones; the ones with which you shared your friendship, compassion, acceptance, and love.  And we are forever grateful for having you in our lives.

Of course, we will miss you.

But today, we celebrate all that is you.

Well done, Nana.

Well done.