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.

29. July 2013 · Comments Off on Hitting stride · Categories: family, moving, work

Almost everyone who knows me knows that I’m a runner. I’m a slow, back of the pack older runner. But, when you’ve been running long enough, you occasionally have an excellent run. That run is when your legs feel good, your breathing isn’t labored, and your pace is faster than normal without effort. Without glancing at your Garmin, you know that your time was good, the run was nearly perfect. It is that day that you have hit your stride. The run before this one was hard, the next one will be hard as well. But for now, you are able to enjoy this perfect run; you can enjoy hitting your stride.

But this isn’t about running.

To be clear, this isn’t about being cocky, feeling that you’re working harder than anyone else, or feeling that you’re better. It’s quite the opposite. It’s an internal feeling. It’s about the internal comfort that you feel when things just click — you’re positive that you are making a small difference in the overall scheme of your company. It’s when you’re fairly certain that you have advocates that would shout out, “No” if they saw your name on a list of employees to be laid off.

To me, I consider a long term job as one that I’ve been in for 5 or more years. To date, I have had just three of them, but in each one, I’ve eventually felt like I’ve hit my stride.

The first was in Arizona. I spent two years in the life insurance industry. While I totally believed in the product, I was in the wrong business. So I started working for a small company as employee #40, soon to be one of 250 as we grew like gangbusters and were acquired by a number of larger, public companies as the years went along. In all, I was with the group for 10 years, providing internal support and supporting our largest customers as a consultant. My opinion was not only respected, but often, customers would not decide on a path until I weighed in on their best solution and best path. After working there for a number of years, I was well established as the go-to person to get work done and the guy who could find a solution to almost any problem. When the company was sold for the last time, I was one of the few that was kept on as a valued “transition” employee. I was paid extra to help the transition and ultimately, was scheduled to lose my job when the transition was completed. I’d also get a big bonus at the end of the transition and could have found another, similar position during this fantastic job market. Ultimately, the new company found they desperately needed the skills that I brought to the table, and wouldn’t let me go at the end of the transition. I received both the bonus for working through the transition and was the only person given a job at the end of that transition. I had created a niche for myself. While I didn’t realize it at the time, this was the first time I had hit my stride. But a year after transition, it was time to move the family back East and start over.

The next job was for a Fortune 200 retailer in the corporate headquarters in Virginia. I spent a bit over 10 years there as well, first as a manager, then as an individual contributor leading the information security admin team. After leaving management, I worked at another position as the information security team was started. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, I found myself as the senior most person on the team with influence seemingly across our entire corporation. Through persistent networking both within and outside of the company, I became the one sought out by senior management, HR. loss prevention, and legal teams to facilitate investigations, knowledge sharing, and provide insight as to what course of actions should be taken regarding all things information security related. While the company struggled in many ways, I had hit my stride. I had the respect of my peers, the senior thought leaders, human resources, and our legal team. But with the knowledge that the company was heading for bankruptcy, we decided it was time to move on and relocate to New England.

I am currently in my third long-term position. I’ve been with my current employer for a bit over five years, hoping for many more. This is by far the most fiscally stable company I’ve ever worked for and unlike previous employers, will be in business long after I leave or retire. While I performed the job that I was hired for over the first 3 1/2 years of my tenure, my position morphed into a new position for me. At the time of transition, I was the senior member of the team yet again. To say I was apprehensive of this change is a gross understatement. Many people on my new team have decades of experience in similar positions; I was the newbie once again. My employer is large, although private, but is in a highly regulated financial services industry. We need to follow many standards for data security and processes that I needed to follow.

During my first 3 years, I had the pleasure to interface with individuals across the organization. Finding people networking as one of my top skills, I loved interacting with them. Some of my co-workers laugh when the see just how many people speak to me by name as we walk the halls of our glorious building. Less than two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to have dinner with our Chief Technical Officer in a casual atmosphere. While I have known him for five years, it was the first real social interaction we’ve shared. During dinner, he asked me to act as one of a short list of representatives for the department among our sales leaders from across the company. The annual conference is this week and happens to be in Boston. So I am representing the collaboration space (chat, social networking, video chat, and so on) to this elite group of salesmen and saleswomen. It is quite an honor to be asked to do this, and to be just one of a few asked is even more special. The fact that a senior, c-level exec asked me personally means even more. To me, it means that, perhaps again, things have started to click and I’ve started to hit my stride. This is both when the work cranks up and when my ability to hide disappears.

So I said that this wasn’t about running. That may be because I’ve been fighting with my left hamstring for more than a month. I was training for the Hartford Half Marathon and pulled the hammy late into a 5 mile training run. A couple of PT sessions later, it’s better but I’m still not allowed by the therapist to run. When cleared, it’s going to take slow work to get the leg back and the October 12th deadline will be here long before I’m ready. I’ll struggle and never be where I wanted to be when the half comes around. I’ll never get back into my comfort zone and make it an easy 13.1 mile run. I’ll never hit my stride, at least this year.

In most aspects, I enjoy the work it takes to hit stride. For now, I’ll enjoy living in the moment for as long as time allows. For now, it’s time to focus and do the hard work needed to stay in the zone.

This weekend, we are celebrating Sue’s mom’s 90th birthday. We have two of her children coming in from out of state, as well as at least one nephew and his family coming up from North Carolina. Our niece may be coming from Virginia, but Hurricane Sandy may have ruined her husband’s plan to see his childhood friend run the ING New York Marathon this weekend.

The celebration of Connie’s 90 years makes me think about how many things she has lived through. Being 90 now puts her birthdate in 1922. From a bad perspective, she’s lived through the great depression, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, many floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters, and, sadly, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. On a positive note, she’s lived through 100% of commercial flight, the entire space program, and the addition of Alaska and Hawaii as states.

She also lived through a 50+ year marriage, the birth of four children, ten grandchildren, ten great grandchildren (so far), dozens of weddings and plenty of funerals. She has never lived outside of the eastern seaboard of the United States, but has traveled around the world, including camping on the beach in Mexico with Sue and I. To say she’s had a full life is quite the understatement.

She has also now moved for what we think will be the last time. We helped her relocate from Georgia back to Connecticut. She is enjoying life in her adult apartment, along with a full array of social activities. She’s in a very happy place now – and at 90, certainly deserves it!

Since we moved to Connecticut, it has seemingly been a non-stop roller coaster of work. Putting our feet up and relaxing has been done so rarely that it just seems to no longer be a part of our life. This weekend was no exception.

We both worked late on Friday, followed by the gym for me and late work for Sue, we came home and pretty much collapsed. We did make it to bed fairly early Friday but then went pretty much non-stop all of Saturday. I spent the afternoon raking the front yard so that I could mow the portion where I need to use the standard mower. I didn’t have time to actually mow that section because I was called away to move furniture.

Late in the afternoon, we met her Mom and Jake at the Arbors (her mom’s new residence), then took the newly purchased furniture up to her mom’s new place. We had to go in through the front door because it was dinnertime and you cannot bring furniture through the dining room during a meal time. So we manhandled the pieces in several trips up the main elevator, moved around the furniture and got it settled. We finally left around 6:15 so I could then mow the section of the lawn previously cleared, throw on our costumes, and head to a halloween party from a co-worker. Of course, we were late getting to the party and were both exhausted, but had a fun time nonetheless.

Sunday, Sue went to church to sing, attending a lengthy service followed by a choir meeting, and I worked around the house. When she got home, we both headed outside to attack the leaves in the rest of the yard and mow the section of the yard that hadn’t been mowed on Saturday. By the time we finished, it was nearly dark and we were pretty much exhausted again. Sue did take the time to cut my hair (long overdue) and we both got cleaned up for dinner. After a wonderful steak dinner, we finally got the chance to sit, but only long enough to collapse and drag our tired butts to bed.

The next two weekends are pretty much a repeat of this one, with the non-stop nature of life. This week and weekend will be spent getting the house ready for a boatload of guests. We’re hanging a bunch of items on the wall (both ours that have not been re-hung since painting and new items we got from Sue’s Mom), and generally cleaning the house in preparation for visitors. Then, we’re heading on Saturday to another Halloween party hosted by a co-worker. It’s almost an hour away, so we’re heading up early so we’re not nearly as late as we were this weekend.

In some aspects, I am looking forward to winter where the weather dictates that it’s too cold to work outside and that indoor projects aren’t a priority anymore. At least I can dream, right?

Heather and Dave are two of our closest friends. They have chosen to spend part of their summer vacation with us this year. I simply couldn’t be happier! We will do a bunch of day trips to places like Mystic and hiking in the nether regions of Connecticut (that we haven’t explored yet), and are coming in less than a month. I am more excited than I have been in a long, long time. I am taking the entire week off, including the day prior so I can start to get in the vacation mindset. I also know that this will be the most laid back week I have all summer, not thinking about work, having some heart to heart talks with both of them, and enjoying the company of their girls as well.

Their eldest is one of my daughter’s best friends. They have known each other since kindergarten (that’s 10 years now), and their relationship is the reason that we got to know Heather & Dave in the first place. Heather is affectionately known as my church wife, since Sue sang in the choir and Dave didn’t attend church often. Several people at the church thought we were married since we always sat together with “our” four children. It was funny, but I really miss sitting next to her in church, in a place where she made me feel comfortable, even though we sometimes spoke little during the service.

Dave has an excellent work ethic, and I think this is one of the reasons why we connect like we do. He’s genuine, says what is on his mind, and does all that he needs to so as to take care of his family. We’re similar that way. Heather always has a smile on her face and her hugs — they are to die for. When I say I need a fix of Heather, I mean that I need one of her genuine hugs that can make me forget about all of the problems in the world.

When Sue and I told our friends that we were leaving Richmond, Heather and Dave couldn’t deal with it. I was mad at first, then accepting that she (they) were in denial. After all that we had been through together, I had to know that it was as tough on her as it was on us. I will be glad to reconnect to them this summer, if only for a week. It will be sad to say goodbye, but it will be easier knowing that we will see them again and be able to pick right back up with our friends next time around.

It is really hard to believe that it has been a full year since I’ve left Richmond. We spoke to a bunch of our friends last night who were at the pool, enjoying a cookout and drinks with friends. It’s not the area at all. It is the people that I miss the most. The daily interactions have slowly turned into an occasional chat as time permits. Losing that constant connection with the people who have been such an important part of my life is still the hardest part about leaving.

On a much more positive note, this May has been much more relaxing than last May was. The most important part is that I am here with my family. We still don’t have many friends in the area, but that will eventually come. The kids have found a home and a caring environment – definitely very important.

This weekend last year started a very lonely couple of months for me. I was in a hotel room, starting a new job, and in an area where I knew absolutely no one. I am not sure I’d like to do that again, but it did allow me to get firmly entrenched in my new job.

Twelve months – hard to believe.

We are finally home. We closed on the house Thursday at the lawyer’s office. It is always stressful knowing that you are signing away where much of your money is going for the foreseeable future, but comforting in knowing that you have signed away your money in a relatively safe investment. Well, that and you get to actually live there with your loved ones!

Early on Friday, KT and I headed to drop off Brewster at the groomer’s place so he could be out of the way, then to the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts to get coffee and donuts for the movers. The same crew arrived that packed and drove from Virginia, and the good news is that our items never even left the trailer, significantly reducing the breakage that we expected. Bob and gang were spectacular, considering we didn’t know where much of the stuff was headed. Our home in Richmond was very different from the Connecticut home, so we had tons more space, yet far less out of sight storage space.

We are still working on where to put everything, but have the basics down. We’ve cooked dinner almost every night, and I have slept in my own bed every night since Friday. After more than three months, I was finally able to get a good night’s sleep and my back didn’t hurt in the morning. The fact that my wife was next to me, and my kids were down the hall was just icing on the cake.

This week has been among the most confusing of my life. I have been dealing with, among other things, living by myself, assisting my wife with Richmond home sale activities, to the best of my ability from afar, managing a home inspection, well inspection, termite inspection, down payments, credit union communications issues, post office challenges, transferring funds, HUD settlements, and an ever increasing work load. It’s really too much. However, I am by myself again this week to deal with this. I’ve not been sleeping well, not eating well, and now am sitting in the dark. What a way to end the most confusing week of my life.

When I went to have the bank check written for the 2nd portion of the down payment on the CT home on Thursday, the bank’s network was down. Of course. It hadn’t been down for over a year. However, I will give all credit due to the credit union. They had every person possible jumping on the situation, trying to figure it out for me. The VP of Operations for the Credit Union walked the process through, wiring the money to the brokerage firm that is managing the sale in CT. No charge for the wire, of course, and everyone babysat the process to get it through. This is the reason why I have been, and will remain, a loyal credit union customer. The fact that my current credit union is literally 3 floors below where I sit helps make it so convenient. We are using them for our mortgage, even if we refinance when the market corrects itself.

It feels like I have worked little this week, when I have actually worked a great deal. One of my main co-workers left last Friday after several years on the job. I took over all of her open projects — close to 25 of them. That, in addition to the 18 or so of my own, makes for a really big workload. It’s not that I can’t handle it, but it’s tough right now with all of the things going on (see the first paragraph). Tomorrow, I need to find a place to do some laundry, spend a few hours doing at least the basic laundry, drive 40 minutes to work so I can spend 4 hours or so catching up on my open projects, and spend at least an hour charging my work to various projects. Sunday, I need to pack what I am taking for a few days since my family will be in CT late on Monday, so I will have to get ready for work Tuesday in a hotel in CT. Tomorrow, I need to at least do enough laundry that I can make it through Wednesday or Thursday.

One additional factor is that the laundry service that we have in the office has been closed all week, so I have only a few things left to wear for work without ironing. This will be tough, considering I don’t have an iron! I found a local cleaner this week that has a few items of mine now, so will pick them up tomorrow (hoping that they are ready when promised).

To top it all off, about 3 hours ago, we had a storm rip through Amherst, taking down a tree that landed across all three of the power lines running on my street. So, I am sitting in the dark, with 46% battery, figuring out what I can do until the power comes back on. The rain brought some cooling, but without fans, this is going to be a long, hot night. I think I will conserve energy soon and hit the hay, getting up early enough to start the wealth of tasks ahead of me tomorrow. At least I have an iPod with a few hours of battery remaining!

After two months of searching, we finally found a home. We had crossed the “more than 50 homes visited” without success until this week. Finally, we knew that we had to change gears, look south of Amherst into Connecticut and start the search again. We had a few locations in CT that we had looked at previously, but the feel of the community and, more importantly, the feel of the homes was not right. Of course, high school selection meant that we were not just looking anywhere, but in a limited number of locations. Finally on Tuesday, Sue was ticked off enough that she decided that she needed to head north and execute a plan herself. The Realtor that we were using in CT was on vacation and the back up was simply not able to execute within our ever constricting time frame.

Sue made reservations late Tuesday night, was on a plane headed for Boston at 6 AM, and took the bus to Springfield to arrive by noon. She had made a few calls on Tuesday evening, and received one from Donna on Wednesday morning, shortly after arrival in Boston. Donna found out the details, came up with an aggressive plan, and she and Sue hit 6 homes before the day was out on Wednesday. The extension of that plan was to visit as many homes as possible on Thursday since Sue had to leave first thing Friday morning. Six homes later on Thursday, and they hit pay dirt! The home is spectacular, has been owned and cared for by a lovely couple, and will make our family a warm home. Details to follow in a future post. I am so proud of Sue and how she took this into her own hands to fix. Oh yes, our wonderful new Realtor helped!

So fate or faith, whatever you want to call it… paid off. We didn’t find a home in Amherst because we weren’t supposed to find a home in Amherst — not even with a fantastic realtor there. We found a home — the home — that we were supposed to and will be very happy there for years to come.