For the past three years, I have helped with the TEDxSpringfield event held at my company’s headquarters in Springfield, MA. While my involvement is very minimal other than the day before and day of the event, I get to attend and interact with the speakers. These two days are my favorite of the year as far as work is concerned. The speakers are fantastic and the topics, for the most part, are very energetic and/or moving. Yesterday was no exception.

The day started off with Sylena Echevarria who works for my company. Sylena’s description of packing her clothes into a plastic bag as she and her mother escaped from her alcoholic and abusive father. They left as soon as his abuse spread from her mother to her. Her mother then proceeded to eventually take care of her father, along with her new husband, until he died. It was a true story of forgiveness.

John “Ringo” Longo then spoke about music and how he has woven music into his life. Next, Bill Miller brought many tears to the audience with his talk about homelessness and how when he started, he was told that sometimes you just have to walk over some homeless to help others. The day continued with many speakers including Nick Cummings who discussed getting “unsad” as he dealt with medical woes as he grew up. The day ended with Angela Lessier who discussed crawling into bed for a month and living off credit cards while she figured out how to create, then start her new business. Each speaker was motivating and had a wonderful story to bring to the audience.

One of the best things about attending this conference each year is getting to have one-on-one conversations with attendees and presenters. It was an exceptional day.

TEDxSpringfield 2015 Angela LussierTEDxSpringfield2015 Nick Cummings TEDxSpringfield2015 - Sylena

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26. October 2014 · Comments Off on Love Locks wall in the Old Port section of Portland, Maine · Categories: Instagram, Maine

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16. October 2014 · Comments Off on Listening to Farnoosh Torabi testing out the #TEDxSpringfield stage. · Categories: fall, Instagram, Massachusetts, Springfield

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Short hike with both of my children yesterday – enjoying the same trail used for a few of my latest runs.
10. October 2014 · Comments Off on Morning moonrise over Bigelow Commons · Categories: Enfield, iPhone, pictures

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Heublein Tower against a strikingly blue, cloudless sky.
12. July 2014 · Comments Off on My newest little sisters · Categories: divorce, moving

Over the past 6 weeks. I have been colocated at work with 4 individuals plus my new manager. Those four are, in my opinion, four of the most awesome employees of the company. Out of the four, one is a guy that is a unique individual who has stepped out of his high level finance role to join our team to change his career focus. He helps keep me focused, and knows a part of the information technology organization for which I have almost no experience. He is funny, grounded, and easily accepts that he has much to learn in this new role. Another one is a gal that has been a “change agent” for several cycles now, but has not actually been with the company as an individual contributor for all that long. She is awesome in her own right, and has helped the team so far in many ways, including directing the other four of us down the right path over and over.

This post is about the other two. J & A have also helped the team in many ways, helping to coordinate the materials for our thirteen value stream mapping exercises, and help drive the logistics around those meetings (lunch, coffee, extra chairs, room) and have helped by asking questions that no one else asks.

The one thing that these two have done is to help me personally in ways that they don’t yet understand. They have been both my friends and my little sisters at the same time. As I go through this divorce and I relocate from a family house to an apartment, they have been there day in and day out. They don’t know how much support they provide by just asking me how an appointment went, or what I thought of the apartment I saw last evening, or how my kid is doing because I left to take her to the doctor. I no longer have that wife at home asking those things, so they have become the friends that I really need right now. They have become a support system that makes coming into work pretty bearable during some tough personal times.

Tomorrow, I am heading to see an actual model of the apartment I’m probably going to rent for the next year or two. It’s a one bedroom apartment, but plenty large enough for one of my kids to visit. My daughter is looking at the place with me as a sanity check, even though my moving out will be a sad day for her as the reality of the divorce sets in.

I’m positive that J & A will ask me about it on Monday, and I will be happy to share the news, knowing that they are really interested and concerned for me. And, for that, I am truly blessed.

19. May 2014 · Comments Off on Today, we told the kids… · Categories: divorce, kids, moving

I wrote this last week, but waited more than a week to publish the post. This post relays a very difficult conversation that was hard to document. It was about the most adult conversation we’ve ever had with our children…

—–

Today was a day I was dreading. My children’s mother and I have decided that we are getting divorced. We have lived together for well over a quarter of a century and have been married for all but nine months of that (but lived together for most of those 9 months). But, we are two adults that have determined that being married is not where we can be any more. The task of telling our adult children was one that needed to occur before the word got out with very many people. They had to hear from us – not friends or other relatives. They certainly couldn’t find out from a change of a facebook status from married to it’s complicated or separated. We had to tell a few people first – a few friends (to keep our sanity), a few relatives (because, in reality, they already knew), and a few co-workers (how to deal with benefits). We had the built-in delay of our youngest living away in college until her summer break, but knew the talk had to come shortly after her arrival home for the summer. We could have talked to them in the house, but 25 years from now, we didn’t want them to have memories of horrible events that took place in their home.

I always hated that house – it’s where my parents told us they were getting divorced.

That just wasn’t an option. So, we decided on a neutral spot, one that held no meaning whatsoever; it was my job to figure out where. I looked at a few different public areas, parks, and ballfields. Since neither of our kids play ball, the ballfield was up there as an option, but the fact that today is Saturday and every ballpark in New England is being used took that one off the table. A public area might work (the food court in our local mall was an option if it was raining), but thought that if all things went wrong that we would all be arrested for creating a scene. So a local park was the best option; I was off to find a suitable location not far from home. One quick drive later, I had the spot selected. This new, small park had an ample parking lot and trails that could be walked to set the stage. I also guessed (correctly) that we would be alone in the park.

We arrived in three separate vehicles – one for their Mom, one for me (their Dad), and one for the two kids. This way, the kids could drive off together and deal with the news without being in a vehicle that one parent was driving home. The logistics were suggested by my therapist, but made the most sense once we thought about them.

We already told the kids that we were selling the house. Living in a huge house, with a huge property to care for, and without the need for living in a town with a great school system (since both had already graduated), meant that the location in town was no longer keeping us here. The huge taxes (mostly for the schools) were not buying us anything as well as the fact that we know almost no one in our town after six years was reason enough to move.

So we walked for a bit, exploring the park. After a 5-minute walk or so, we were pretty much in an area where we could talk – almost at the end of the park trail. She looked at me and gave me the nod to start  – indicating that she wasn’t about to start the conversation. Knowing what needed to be said, I started talking…

So, you know we’ve been having problems for a while, right?

I wasn’t going to mix words. The kids are adults and need to hear the truth. Time to spit it out…

We came to the conclusion that the only solution was for us to get a divorce.

If we were inside, you could have heard a pin drop. But we were outside, birds continued to sing, bees continued to buzz.

Our daughter’s eyes started to water; she turned around and walked about 10 feet away. We were silent. Her brother also remained silent and stood still, processing the information – that is his way. After about two minutes, he turned around and joined his sister, then put his arm around her as only her big brother could do. While this was a difficult time for their mom and I, neither of us could have been more proud of his actions – taking care of his sister as only he knows how to do.

After what seemed like an eternity (probably almost 10 minutes), the two of them turned around to speak to the two of us.

Our daughter had processed the events, cried a bit, then was ready to ask a few questions.

What does this mean for us?

Who have you told?

Where will we live?

The questions were answered, mostly with a we’re not really sure type of answer. Then, as in our normal family way, we ended up with an awkward laugh about something silly which is way easier than crying. The conversation ended up with hugs all around and the kids heading off to get ice cream because, as you know, ice cream fixes everything (short term, that is). Their mom and I hugged as well, glad to have this really important discussion done.

Both kids will be okay, and so will both of us. The next moment that will be tough is when one of us moves out or we sell the house. Big events that make for big memories.

Time to look forward and get the tasks to sell the house done – and time to contact a few realtors.

18. May 2014 · Comments Off on Spending the day in Boston · Categories: Boston, kids, travel · Tags:

Yesterday was a very good day.

Late in the week, we realized that neither of the kids had to work on Saturday. Since their mom was out of town for work, it was a perfect opportunity to spend the day together – a Daddy-kid day as we like to say. I don’t get many of those days anymore, so grab the opportunity when it’s there. The youngest just loves Boston, less than 90 minutes from home, and she heard that the New England Aquarium had several cool new exhibits – penguins, refurbished coral in the main tank, and . We set the plan in motion, leaving around 9:30 (at least that was the schedule), and headed to the MBTA Riverside Station after a quick stop at our local Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast.

Riding the T (MBTA) is the best way to get into the city. Parking is about 12 miles from the city, only $6 for the day, and you can get practically anywhere in Boston for a $5 round trip per person. You cannot park anywhere in the city for the $21 we spent for parking and the T tickets, and you have to deal with Boston streets (terrible), getting lost, and hoping your car is in one piece when you find it. Then there is the traffic out of the city. Taking the T is a much better route. One of the stops that we could have used to get close to the aquarium is shut down for major reconstruction, so we couldn’t get close but couldn’t have asked for a better day as far as the weather was concerned.

The day was supposed to be at least partially a washout, with a chance of rain through at least 11 AM. By the time we got to the Riverside parking lot, the temps were in the upper 60s and the sun was out. It was a spectacular day to be walking around Boston! We parked and purchased a single, $20 ride pass for the T to share, and waited about 5 minutes for the next train to arrive. On weekends, there is plenty of parking in the T lots unless you are late and there is a home Red Sox game starting within a few hours of your arrival. 40 or so minutes later, we ended up at Park Street Station, about 3/4ths of a mile from the aquarium. We could have switched trains and ended up close to the aquarium, but opted to walk on this gorgeous day.

When you arrive at the aquarium, there is an external tent used for ticket sales, then a harbor seal exhibit between that tent and the front door. While it is nice to watch the two seals, the real show is inside. If you get a chance to go to Boston, the aquarium isn’t to be missed.

We left to grab a bite to eat, at Granery Tavern on Milk Street. The chicken, avocado salsa, lime aioli sandwich was fantastic – and the Sam Adams Summer Ale was the perfect beverage to accompany the meal. A chipotle mayo served to my son for his burger was the perfect dipping sauce for the homemade potato chips.

We headed back to the aquarium to finish our tour and even saw a little creature that showed off their fantastic, natural light show. We knew that a trip to Mike’s Pastry shop, for a box of goodies to take home, was the only way to end our day trip to Boston. A quick walk back to Park Street Station and we headed home with many Red Sox fans exiting the T near Fenway (making a crowded outbound train, then nearly empty train).

The weather, food and sites, no matter how good, fell far short of being the best thing about yesterday. Just getting to spend the whole day with my adult children was by far the best thing about the day!

The kids behind the New England Aquarium

The kids behind the New England Aquarium

Chicken sandwich with lime aioli and avocado.

Chicken sandwich with lime aioli and avocado.

Strange creatures, fascinating to watch

Strange creatures, fascinating to watch

Mike's Pastry

Mike’s Pastry – the perfect end to a Boston trip!