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PDA | AN OPEN HAND or BRINGING SHARING TO LIFE

“That’s mine!”

As parents, we’ve all heard that scream from across the room. Your kid saying it to another kid — another one of your own, another kid in general. Or vice versa. But you’ve heard it. And it’s painful.

How do you teach your kids to share?

On Monday, a funny day in the household overall given the range of emotions and performances displayed by Anaiya and Jaanu, I had a couple of strong parenting moments. The one I wanted to share here was my response to “That’s mine!” flying out of the Play Room like a bat out of hell with its wings on fire.

Anaiya had just wrapped up her class and made her way to the Play Room where Jaanu was playing nicely by himself; but with her toys. She grabbed her transformer back from him.

We were about to hit a meltdown.

I quickly grabbed her hand and asked her to put the toy car in mine. Begrudgingly, she did.

I then called Jaanu over and walked them through in spirit, a message that when you hold on tight to something, you leave little room for other things. So your tightened grip means that thing you’re holding will be held, but it also means you’ll be missing out on so many others.

I then demonstrated. By holding her car in my hand tightly clenched, and then trying hard to pick up other things. I tried to pick up another car. A spoon. A yogurt pouch. I couldn’t pick up anything because my hand was so tightly clenched.

Then, I turned my other hand over. Palm up. Fingers stretched. Car free to go where it wanted. And I started picking up other things. I then had the kids add things to my hand and a mini tower formed.

When you have an open hand, you have given yourself the space and made yourself open to new things.

We went a layer deeper.

Holding on to your thing with a clenched fist isn’t wrong; I just want to make sure you believe it’s so valuable that you are willing to forego what other opportunities may come. And if the whole world operates this way, well, we’ll all pass value between one another without fear of losing or fear of being empty-handed.

The visual resonated. The interactive demonstration resonated.

What I love even more though; is what happened next and what has happened since.

First, Anaiya ran up to me and gave me a hug. She said she finally got it. And she thanked me for always taking the time to tell her stories that help her understand. “You tell the best stories, Buhboo!”

Next, and every day since, when a grab for “mine!” has happened I’ve simply looked at the kids and opened my hands. And in return, they’ve nodded, and proceeded to open their hands, and share. With each other. With friends.

Parenting is hard. I’ve had more failures in conversations, education, coaching, and discipline that I can remember. But those moments where on the spot, an idea comes to life and opens up the way your child sees the world (and the way they grip their toys) is magical.

 

 

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TYMMPB… | You’re the Best in the History

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I don’t remember the first time you said it. I do remember hearing it for the first time; and going absolutely bonkers.

We were doing yoga in the morning during the early days of COVID-19 and as we sat and talked about what the day held, what was going to make us happy, what was going to get in the way of our happy, what was going to be fun, and what was going to get in the way of our fun; in the midst of that logical juxtaposition of what you want, what you control, what gets in the way, and of that, what you control, somehow we stumbled upon “history”.

Your sister spoke first. And as her usual, eloquent and loquacious self, found a way into a spotlight where there wasn’t one, and then proceeded to find a way to own it.

What were you going to do? You were still a couple months away from knocking on 4’s door and here she was, the love of your life, your role model, choosing to go first in expressing her gratefulness in the morning leaving you to follow?

Was that even fair?

Do they have Mike Birbiglia open for someone who’s trying standup for the first time? You know?

She wasn’t better by design; only by years. At this stage in your life she’s got 50% more experiences than you do. It’s not reasonable to have you follow.

You let her roll. But your lips started turning up at the corners.

And when she finished, you dropped your greatest line and now the way I plan to talk going forward in celebration of amazing things always:

“The best in the whole history.”

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It’s so perfect.

It encapsulates you.

It’s succinct. Never take 12 words to say what you can say in 6.

It’s powerful. Never leave doubt on how you’re feeling at the moment.

It’s uniquely generous. Never just give, give in a way people haven’t experienced before.

It’s memorable. Never be forgettable, by choosing to be, say, and do things in unforgettable ways.

It’s sincere. Never fake anything. Ever.

It’s on your sleeve. Never wear anything in your heart or mind, that you wouldn’t wear on your sleeve too.

I love you. You are my absolute and undeniable homie.

I’ve never felt so comfortable expressing my love to someone. Even your sister, at some point, is like “Buhboo, you can’t love me this much!” But you? Naw’man. You? You escalate. When I tell you that you’re the best kid in the world.

Well; you tell me I’m the best buhboo in the history.

A few hours ago you were three; now, at this moment, you’re four. Even you’re reading changed from yesterday to today!

You will never be three to you again. But I want you to know, to me, you’ll always be …

…a little bit of you at one…

…a little bit of you at two…

…a little bit of you at three…

…a little bit of you at four … and I’m so excited to learn about what that means.

The world. We included. Did a lot to you this year. You switched schools a few times. You moved from your Nana and Naniji’s comfortable daily love to a new home without them. You faced COVID-19. You got scratches. And bruises. On your face, your arms, and dare I say and admit, your heart.

You had people debating you when you weren’t there to be.

But every single day I look at you and I’ll say, man, given what the world and we included have thrown at you, you’re so…damn…good.

We owe you more and we owe you better.

People rise and fall to the expectations you set for them, son.

You’ve called each of us the best in the history. It’s our job to rise to that level and I’ll tell you, we’re getting after it.

As for you? Today You Make Me Proud Because of how real you are; and how wonderful you can make the world feel. You have a gravitational pull that isn’t based on mass (that’s me).

As you step into 4 and build on what’s before, I am so proud of who you are fighting to become every day; and I’m more excited about the kid I’m going to be talking about going into 5.

I love you, homie. You truly are incomparable; you are the greatest son in the history.

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PS: This year I made you gummy animals for your birthday treat; the ones filled with NERDS are INCREDIBLE! We even made you a dragon one as a primer for How to Train your Dragon: The Hidden World!

Image from iOS (5)

But going back to that whole “best in the history” thing we were talking about; you see, 3 days ago you woke up one morning, and when we were getting ready for breakfast you did this dance asking me for gummy bears.

Yeah. Gummy bears.

What’s funny is 2 days earlier I had decided I was going to make you Gummy Bears, ordered all the stuff, and it was on the way.

So I am wicked happy you’re going to have Gummy Bears on your birthday, homie.

And even moreso, that you proclaimed your craving for them while wearing a shirt that would have made JJ happy in pursuit of the Goodest of Times.

But, I’ll tell you, I’ll be as busy as a one-legged cat in a sandbox if one of the greatest moments in my history as a Buhboo (aka father), isn’t the fact that I tapped into your Gummy Bear longing days before you did …

…and then delivered on it.

We got 2020, homie. We got it; because we got each other.

I love you. And all you’re becoming. And all you’ve been.

 

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PDA | Butting Up Against the Limitations of Language or Thank You, My Children

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I’ve been trying to write this post for 3 weeks. I’ve tried many different hooks and patterns. I’ve tried to be simple. I’ve tried to be poetic. i’ve tried analogies. I’ve tried to be detailed. Yet every time I got about 350 words deep, I’ve leaned my head back away from my laptop, frowned, selected all of the text in the editor, and hit “delete”.

Nothing I can write does my feelings and my appreciation for you, justice. Nothing.

I have no words. There are no words. Language is limiting. As I understand it, there are over 1,000,000 total words in the English language, over 170,000 in current use, and on average, a person uses 30,000 of them.As I told your Mama when I proposed to her: “even 1,000 poets, writing 1,000 words a day, for 1,000 years can’t capture what moved me to propose to her”.

Now; for the second time in my life, I find myself verbally helpless; trying to find a way to bridge how I feel with the few words available and the even fewer words I know.

I don’t know how to capture what I’m feeling in words; in a way that you will read them at some point in your future and understand the weight of the feeling and the sentiments behind them.

But what I know, is that it won’t be for a lack of trying.

Anaiya. Jaanu. Buhboo.

For all of my worth as a human being: thank you.

There will come a day in your future; maybe a few, where you’ll wonder if you are up to the task. If you can pass some obstacle in front of you. If you can conquer some challenge. If you can go some Seussian places you want to go.

You will wonder. You will pause. You will hesitate. You will question.

And when you do, I want you to read this. And then, I want you to call me. On the phone. Over whatever device is in vogue when that challenge presents itself. And when I’m past my life while you’re still living yours, close your eyes and picture me. Reading this to you.

There is absolutely nothing you can’t do. Because at age 6 and age 3, you took the greatest punch the world has seen in over 100 years. You took something that crippled towns, cities, states, countries. You took a haymaker that brought humankind to its knees. In days. To our collective knees.

You took that. And you brushed it off your shoulder in a way that would make Aaliyah, Jay-Z, Barack Obama proud. You wiped a drop off blood of your lip in a way that would make Bruce Lee, and every Saturday afternoon Kung Fu theater hero (as well as your Dada Fua) proud. 

There has been so much discussion about the lockdown the world has experienced post COVID-19. Coronavirus. Corona – why us? There’s been some discussion about how resilient and adaptable human beings are. How if you had told us 3 months ago the way we’d be forced to live now, we’d never have been able to imagine it; and we certainly would have denied it would be possible .But when it happened, we adapted, and here we are.

Yes. Adaptable. Resilient.

But none of us are doing this adaptable thing, this resilient thing, with your grace.

And that is precisely where I lose all ability to express myself.

I want to tell you how one night you went to bed, ready for the next day. Your ordinary next day. An Alexa alarm. Breakfast and drop-offs. School and play time. Somewhere between 9 and 10 hours, a super majority of your life, for a super majority of your days each week, you were immersed in a world that we got glimpses of when we opened your backpacks, checked logs and updates from your teachers, hears mentions of when you had the time, energy and interest.

One night you went to bed, ready to do all the things we told you that you had to do. When we dropped you off at daycare. When we celebrated your first day of school  Make friends. Play nice. Listen to your teachers. Eat your meals. Be strong when you’re being bullied. Find strength when we aren’t there and when you feel like nobody else is, however fleeting. Do all these things because they are the most important things for you to learn now.

One night you went to bed knowing the next day was going to be filled with all those things.

And when Alexa woke you up that next day, we told you that wasn’t happening anymore. We told you that schedule, that way, wasn’t going to be the way. For a while.

If that had happened to me, I’d have needed a lifetime to plan, and a lifetime to prepare, and a lifetime to adjust; and I’d go through the motions and I’d do what I’m supposed to do.

But I don’t think, ever in my life, that I have operated with your grace. How can someone be so strong, so unwavering, so staunchly making progress, while doing so in a way that seems so effortless, so natural. You see, when I look at you, I don’t remember the way our life was 5 weeks ago. Because when I look at you, and observe you act, and watch you interact — I am only convinced that the way we’re living now is the only and obvious way we have been living all along.

When I look at my calendar. When I talk to people at work. When I read the news. Tonight is Sunday. Week 5 of quarantine. Poised for an even longer and more isolated road ahead. Into a new normal. Never returning to the way life was before. And it can be overwhelming.

When I look at you, though.

It’s Sunday.

What are we doing today, Buhboo?

Thanks for grading our worksheets, Buhboo!

Yay, we get to watch a movie, Buhboo!

I didn’t like my dinner, Buhboo, but I’ll eat it for you, Buhboo!

When I’m with you, it’s Sunday. It’s just Sunday for you.

And you’ve found a way to make it “just Sunday” for me too.

You can’t see your friends. Except, maybe from across the street. You can’t hug your Nana, Nani, Dadi, Tito Foi. Your Mamu is living with us, upstairs, in the guest bedroom and the best you can do is let him know when you’re downstairs so he can step out to get the tray of food we’ve left outside his door.

You can’t go to the park. You can’t go for ice cream. You can’t go to Charlie Brown’s (yeah, by the way, we need to talk about how for most of your childhood your favorite restaurant was a terrible chain restaurant that indicates you share a palate and a thirst for ambience with people born in the 1940s).

You can’t go to school. You can’t go to Tae Kwon Do. You can’t go to Dance Class. You can’t go to Bagels 4 U. You can’t go to Genus Boni. You can’t go to Shop Rite and you definitely can’t get the free cheese handouts there and at Whole Foods. You can’t … do … everything that brought you joy.

Yet you’re still, full of joy.

You are. Absolutely full of joy. It is because of you, I wake up with a bounce in my step excited about what we’re going to do today. Because of how you ask your questions, I focus on what we can and will do today; not what we can’t or can no longer.

“Buhboo, what’s our plan for tomorrow?”

What an absolutely beautiful question; Warren Berger would adore it. “What is our plan for tomorrow” is more intrinsically hopeful than “What are all the things we can’t do tomorrow that we could have done 5 weeks ago?”

It’s been 5 weeks, and you’re still asking beautiful questions.

You’re making me see the beautiful.

Your laughs fill our house. Your cries do too; but if we were to put them on scales, there would be no contest in terms of which direction we’re tipping.

I’m also watching you grow.

Anaiya: Yoga. Dance. Math. Reading. Mentoring. Eating. Breathing. Guiding. Defiance (I mean, you absolutely hate to lose at a level that would make Michael Jordan proud.) Love. The way you clutch my arm, at bedtime, at wakey time, and at so many times in-between, and hold it like it’s the last arm you’ll get to hold and hug on earth. I can’t help but feel that some of that has nothing to do with me, actually; you’re holding my arm so tightly because it’s the one place where all that’s been taken away from you is manifesting. And riding your bike with no training wheels. Yeah, that happened.

Jaanu: Dance. Gibberish. Letters. Tracing. Troubleshooting. Putting away dishes. Cleaning. Defiance (I mean, you absolutely hate being told what to do.) The way you proclaim to every person who’s ready to hear you that they are “the greatest in the history” is tagline and catchphrase I hope you never lose. I can’t help but feel that you’re expressing that as a way of defining a new baseline for history, and helping people find positivity and feel special in this altogether new way of being.

I’m words, sentences, paragraphs in; and as you can see, I’ve written so much, and I’ve said so little that captures how proud I am of you. How honored I am to be your Dad, your Buhboo.

1,000 poets. 1,000 words a day. 1,000 years.

Even when, as a family, we experience the most extraordinary of losses, you find a way to bring love, to comfort, to hug and support — videos weren’t designed to have this kind of impact and sincerity. You have managed to make video feel human and intimate.

Consolation is something you give to people. After loss. After disappointment. Right now, as I read what people write and say and share; I feel an excessive amount of consolation. I see a world full of people acknowledging loss and disappointment and sadness; and from that, trying to force a rose to bloom from concrete.

Consolation is what I see and hear in every interaction.

Except the ones I have with you.

With you, it’s “just Sunday”.

With you, it’s “what IS our plan?”

With you, it’s not resilience. Or adaptability. Or perseverance.

With you, it’s not about the new normal.

With you, it’s just what’s next. Your ability to make everything that is, seem natural; and to make what’s next, seem possible. Is what makes me, so uncontrollably humbled and so infinitely proud, and so eternally enamored.

Thank you.

So when that hill, or that mountain, or that sea, or that valley, shows up in your way. I want you to call me. On your phone. On your <<unnamed device>>. On your memory.

And I want you to hear me. Loudly. Clearly.

The world handed you the worst the world has handed anyone. And you flicked, brushed, dusted, and resumed.

Thank you, my children. Thank you, my kids. Your Mama and I wish the rest of the universe had you to wake up to, you to bring tomorrow’s schedule to, you … to look forward to.

Because then, they’d all be as happy, as proud, as hopeful, as we are.

(And just as speechless.)

How much do I love you? More than anything.
How long will I love you? More than forever.
When will I stop? Never.

Ever.

 

 

 

 

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TMLFYI… | Beyond Explanation

I don’t know how to explain it or you. I’m dumbfounded.

You’re 5 years old and change. Sometimes you have the auditory sensibilities of an 80 year old Roadie who traveled with the Stones but “never could afford those ear plugs”. But sometimes, you demonstrate the auditory acuity of Superwoman wearing Miracle Ear.

The best part? Those often toggle on and off as personas in the same conversation.

But I’m here to write for you today because there are times when I do just feel. Heavy. Old. Dragging. Barely carrying my own weight let alone being able to pick you up when you want.

And the most magical sound and the most magical face for me is yours, in that moment. When literally not a soul is attuned to my self-awareness of my own inabilities, and life is just moving forward — Godspeed – life is just accelerating like Cole Trickle on a comeback lap.

When literally, that’s the scene, and the studio audience is waiting for a feeling.

You step in.

Every time.

And make eye contact. It’s one of the times you treat me like you treat everything else you focus on, and nothing else matters. You drop your fork. You drop your crayon. You drop your dolls. You drop your interests.

And you look at me and you keep saying “Buhboo” until I look back.

And then you drop it like Thor’s hammer.

“I love you.”

And with that, my wings have wind.

You’ve done that to me since you were born, Buhboo. With your actions (when I was stressed and needed you to chill or sleep or stay asleep, you magically did), and now, with your attention.

Thank you, Buhboo. You heal me with your words and your attention. I love you, Anaiya.

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TYMMPB… | We Chilled

You’re one. WTF.

This is how you turned one. Rough night for you. Rough few days (week?) You woke up crying at 1045. I picked you for the long haul at 1115 after some pick ups and put downs.

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But you know? It’s all good. You’ve earned it. You have had such an understated year.

You were born in the shadow of a job switch and your sister going to school.

You were so quiet on our first vacation people wondered where you were.

You moved between nannies while smiling at each and every one.

You waited to crawl until nobody was really watching probably because you didn’t want to be a distraction.

You moved houses before you moved yourself.

You’ve been teething for 8 months and just got a tooth.

The sourest demeanor you ever have is cured by taking you outside so you can wave … to everyone.

You take meds with a smile (like you take everything else.)

You love your sister and let her make you smile like I never knew smiling was possible.

You are a momma’s boy. Keep that, homie. It will get you far. Or at least, protect you forever.

You have your grandfathers in you (and in your name), linked to them forever (and ever.)

You take your time. The more we rush and hustle around you the more you naturally, instinctively, and subtly, humble our pace.

You are everything this whole family needed.

You are what your mom ordered but what I needed. #iamgrateful and #iamthankful for this moment. Some rare QT.

And I get to brag that you turned one in my arms. (Note: I put you back in your crib peacefully a second before posting this. You probably woke up and faked some tears so I could have this moment and story to tell.) HBD, Jaanu!

This, by the way, was how you woke up. Not so bad, huh?

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My $.02 | Why I am Joining Help Scout

Apologies. I’m out of practice on the blog front, and I’m writing this stream of conscious style because…I start a new job tomorrow. But I digress. Let’s start with a story?

I’ve been married for 5.5 years now. It’s a long time for some. It’s just scratching the surface for others. For me, it’s the only marriage I’ve known personally. So it’s both the longest and shortest one I’ve been a part of. Funny way of thinking about it.

Periodically, people with poor judgement will ask me the secret to a happy marriage. There’s no secret. One of my favorite pieces of advice is actually to know it’s ok to go to bed angry! Better than saying something stupid. But what I think makes for a successful marriage is how you solve problems. I get along with the entire world when we agree on things. But when the “fit hits the shan”, how do we solve problems together?

In that regard, my wife and I are like lego pieces. She is…a royal pain the *ss when it comes to the smallest decision. Trying to figure out what we’re having for dinner tonight, the night I write this, has been a 3hr 20minute discussion — and we still have no dinner options.

But when it comes to something big? Material? Something that matters? I’m the 2×4 plate to her 2×4 brick (because let’s be serious, she’s the substance of this relationship.) Buying a house. Leasing a car. Moving to North Carolina, and back again. And leaving LiveIntent because something didn’t feel right? Those were conversations that took seconds. A look in the eye. A gut check on the “why” I was making this decision. And then nothing but full, unwavering support for my decision. Even with a second kid on the way, all I got from Priya was “We’ll be fine. Find your happy.”

I don’t want to spend a second on why I left LiveIntent. Matt Keiser was the best person I have ever worked for. The Marketing Team was the best Marketing Team I’ve ever worked with. The people across the company were the best people I’ve ever worked with. It’s been a month and I miss them like hell. But it was the right move.

Early in my career I made decisions based on bosses as mentors. Which is why I have had the benefit of having some absolutely amazing ones. Maria Valez and Mark Macaravage at Prudential. Mary O’Malley at Prudential. Jim Burke at Prudential, DnB, and Global Compliance. Robert Schwartz and Prudential Securities. Kristine Tanno at Prudential Securities. Jordan McConnell at DnB. Steve Hagerty at Hagerty Consulting. Tony Haile at Chartbeat. And Matt Keiser at LiveIntent. I’d say that 9 out of 10 would speak positively of me. And I believe I could still call on 8 our of 10 for a reference today. But I digress. My point is that I picked jobs based on bosses as mentors. But at a certain point, it becomes less about bosses as mentors and more about bosses as collaborators. As peers. As people with shared approaches to decision-making.

I’ve had enough experience in my life to have strong opinions (weakly held, as I steal a line from my new boss, perhaps the line that closed me during the interview process). I’m looking less for mentors and more for people who want to make decisions with me. And who want to make those decisions based on a value system that matches mine.

I found those values and that partner in Nick Francis at Help Scout.

Before I joined LiveIntent, I reached back out to my former bosses and peers and asked their advice. What could I do better. What could I evolve. And they brought the thunder. I internalized all of the feedback I received and approached LiveIntent committed to being hard on myself and committing myself to evolving and changing. I leave LiveIntent confident that I’ve done that. The validation for me is a combination of what the company accomplished while I was there, and the relationships I’ve made and sustained with people since I’ve left.

As I enter Help Scout, it’s almost the opposite. It’s no longer about what I need to change. Because I realize now that there will always be an infinite number of things I can change, do better, improve, etc. I enter Help Scout with clarity about the things I value. The things I don’t want to change. The things I will never change.

  • Man in the Mirror. It might be hokey, but I’m fine with it. And it’s a great f*cking song. But problem solving at every level, especially at the Executive Level has to start with the Man in the Mirror. There’s an honesty and a humility that is necessary to be a leader these days. It is anchored in an honest assessment first and foremost of the role you played as a leader in putting those dependent on you in a position to succeed or fail.
  • Start with why. Every decision that was ever made was somebody making a deliberate choice for an explicit reason. I believe it is imperative to start every discussion by trying to understand why decisions were made. It saves time. It build empathy. And it makes everyone in the room smarter. If you start at the decision and the outcomes first, you set a bad habit.
  • Focus on process over outcomes. I don’t want to get to MoneyBall here, but there’s value in focusing on doing the right things. There will always be one-offs and aberrations but I can’t control for those. I can only make sure we did all the right things along the way. I’m committed to efforts and believe if you play the right game, the long game, the results will follow (and be sustainable and repeatable.)
  • Take care of your people. We’ve gotten too excited about the new. Whether its employees or customers. We’re an acquisition economy and a disposable society. Those are terrible practices. For me, there’s value in loyalty. Talk to your longest standing employees. Value your longest standing customers. Focus on what you have and meet their needs. It will take you to amazing places.

There are so many more values. There are so many more things to cover. But the above four bullets encapsulate so much of my decision. Except one.

I was introduced to Help Scout through people who knew me very well. What I value. How I work. How I treat people. And they insisted that I take the conversation with Nick and Help Scout. I was sold immediately.

Nick was focused on the customer first. Help Scout has gotten this far by focusing on being humble and being helpful. I couldn’t think of two greater values to build a brand around. And when push comes to shove, I love that I will be able to make decisions based on whether or not what we’re about to do will be helpful for the customer, and done with humility. Those are aspirational values for me. I love that I’ll get practice at them professionally, every single day I go to work.

Legos. A perfect set of legos.

Tomorrow is July 1st. I couldn’t be more excited to join this new team. I feel like a high school line worker at Taco Bell joining Top Chef (I can say that because I was actually a high school line worker at Taco Bell.) All Stars all around me. As a result, I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities in front of us. And, perhaps most of all, I couldn’t be more excited to be myself and be confident in my ability to help all the amazing people who have brought Help Scout to this point, take it even farther.

Thank you, LiveIntent. For everything. Hello, Help Scout. Let’s do this.

 

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TYMMPB… | Embracing Kipling

BLOG--Jaan ChillingMy son. It’s amazing to say that. The my part is incomparable. The son part was one half of a win:win.

And winning is all it has felt like. One month ago today, and precisely one month ago from the moment I started writing this post (10:49), you were born to us. And you went straight to your mother’s chest where you spent quite a bit of time — and have spent quite a bit of time since. There’s no denying that you will be a momma’s boy. And as a momma’s boy myself, I can tell you, there’s no love like the love you’ll get from your mother.

When you’re old enough to read this, who knows when I’ll share it with you. You may feel slighted. For the first year of your older sister’s life, I wrote frequently. Because the time to do so existed. Such is not the case for you. With you. So instead I’ve decided to write you 12 letters, each on the monthly anniversary of your birth and into your first birthday.

Today, I start by telling you how proud you’ve made me already.

People define masculinity and manhood in very different ways. My definition as always run closest to how Rudyard Kipling encapsulated it in his poem, “If…” Especially the lines I’ve bolded below.

You have managed to make it through the month without being the least bit of hassle or burden. You sleep in the family room. That’s where you make your home. Sister running around the house. Visitors in and out the door. Sunlight through the windows. Pans clanging in the kitchen. TV sometimes on sometimes not. And yet, you go about your day unfazed and unbothered. Attributes that will serve you well.

You have managed to make us feel like great parents even with all the scrambling and distractions around us. You take solace in our arms and by our voices. You make your  mother’s arms your home. You make your sister’s voice your lullaby. You make your nani, dadi, and foi feel like they are absolute experts when it comes to baby whispering.

Don’t believe me? Check out how much your sister adores serenading you. 🙂

At one month, you’ve managed to do what no one month old can ever be expected to do: you’ve managed to enter the world with such fine humility, that even your birth is somehow about everyone else feeling good, valued, helpful, loved.

Today You Made Me Proud By … embracing the spirit of Kipling’s If. I promise to make you proud by learning from your humble lead.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

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My $.02 | The Best of Other People Tributing Purple Rain

Anyone who knows me, knows how I feel about Prince. He has always been the consummate entertainer for me. It was never a contest. And what I love and admire about him is that he only became greater with time. As I grew older. As I gained the  ability to poke more and more holes in everyone else’s perfection, and as I became more and more perforated and imperfect myself. Prince … stayed perfect.

So much has been said about his music and his influence. All of it does justice to who he was. To minorities. To women. To musicians. To independent thinkers. To honest people. To those who fight everyday to make the alternative the mainstream. And ultimately, to those who just don’t give a damn.

He’s so much  more than Purple Rain. It’s not even my favorite Prince song. But I felt compelled to capture all the tributes to Purple Rain in one place. Here. Now. If for no other reason than to have it for myself.

These are not ranked. They can’t be. Try and rank them yourself. You’ll succeed. Until you go back and listen to them over again and re-rank everything.

Adam Levine – Purple Rain (for Howard Stern) – Calm down. Maroon 5 was special about 15 years ago (even a little prior.) Adam Levine has a unique voice, has some guitar skills. And if you leave this tribute not a fan, watch it again. Until you do. The fact that he did this several years ago is, IMHO, the ultimate tribute. It wasn’t a eulogy. It was a living tribute to a living legend. No nostalgia, just a superstar showing fandom for one of the greatest.

Bruce Springsteen – Purple Rain (Barclay’s Center) – It’s outstanding to see this respect reciprocated. Prince considered Bruce to be one of the greatest stage leaders and frontmen ever. An individual with an amazing command of the audience and his band, who was able to evolve sets on stage with the wave of a hand and eye contact. Hearing The Boss pay his respects was beautiful because of the level of appreciation between the two of them, one that most probably never knew existed. I love Bruce’s voice at the most energetic moments of this song too. Chilling.

Damien Escobar – Purple Rain (Violin Cover) – Prince, more than any other musician around, spoke through his performances. His songs told amazing stories. His outfits told amazing stories. But most powerfully, his instruments (every single one he played) spoke to you. That’s what makes this song so powerful. That’s what makes Purple Rain so powerful. Try and separate the words from the music in your head. It’s hard. Which is why Damien Escobar’s inversion, applying the violin to Prince’s vocals, is so beautiful.

The Color Purple Cast – Purple Rain (Broadway) – Thank you Jennfer Hudson for making this happen. Thank you more for stepping back from the opening and turning it over to Cynthia Erivo. Jennifer Hudson oversings early, but she then closes strong. When you think about the timing of the book itself (The Color Purple came on the scene as Prince came into his own, timed perfectly in the early 80’s) and the message behind the book (few books took on sexism and racism as powerfully and vocally — and explicitly as The Color Purple), it makes sense that this cast did this legend justice. Because few musicians did more to combat racism and sexism with their actions, than the Purple One.

Kelly Clarkson – Purple Rain (Fan Request) – Wow. I forget how talented American Idol singers used to be. 🙂 This is beautiful and shows how diverse Prince’s reach is, and it shows how many options there are to make a song work across genres. It’s also a testament to Prince that the greatest song of the 80’s is androgynous, asexual, and pan-racial in its own right. Just like he. Is.

Jimmy Buffet – Purple Rain – Why? Because it’s Jimmy Buffet. The Guardian said it best: “Buffet is famed in the US for purveying the “island escapist” lifestyle to baby boomers. And for owning two restaurant chains named after his songs – Cheeseburger in Paradise and Margaritaville. A peformance of Purple Rain was probably the last thing his fans expected.”

The Waterboys –  Purple Rain (largely, beautifully, acoustic) – Perhaps the most unique version of this song I’ve heard. I learned early on that the power of a song shone through when you stripped it of its production, simplified the arrangement, and sand the heck out of it. This is, that version. Touches me as much as when I heard Springsteen do Born in the USA, acoustic, solo, under a spotlight, at MSG. Mostly because I never thought of this song as being sung this way.

I couldn’t embed the video so this is 2 for 1; click on the link above for a great in studio version, or the one below for an Opera House extended play version. I prefer the one above.

David Gilmour – Purple Rain (with Comfortably Numb) (<<CLICK LINK TO WATCH VIDEO) – Maybe I love the idea of Pink Floyd and Purple Rain because, as a color blind man, I have no idea if they match. But I grew up listening to Pink Floyd. When one of my uncles got his brand new Bose speakers — think of the old school 301’s – we broke them in by laying down on the floor, staring up at the ceiling, and listening to ALL of The Wall. All of it. So when I caught wind of this, union of two songs with choruses that force me to sing at the top of my lungs (even when I’m not singing out loud, you’ll see my eye balls roll up into my head) I had to listen. And … it’s all I expected it to be. The transition in at the 4:30 mark is so subtle it shows you how well, well composed songs can be melded by beautiful musicians.

<No video embed. Please click on the link above.>

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TMLFYI… | Uniting Work and Life

I was asked to do this video for work. If they’re going to make me do something like this, I’m going to make it my own. And nothing is more my own, than you.

You steal the show.

http://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/4jpajcyxze

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TMLYFI… | “Never”

My magic. I’m inspired to share this moment with you. I promised myself that after year 1 I’d reduce what I posted out of fear of embarrassing you at some odd point down the line. Digital history from birth is still new to us, and is just becoming a point of debate. So I don’t want to do something you’ll regret.

But today, you made my life (let it be noted that on a daily basis, you tend to do this.) Yet, see, I haven’t seen you in three days. And my exposure has been limited. Partially because you are in Canada on an amazing trip with family. And partially because I am in NY working on work … that maybe I didn’t need to work so hard on.

Your extraordinary mom FaceTimed me this evening and what i saw when I accepted and the screen came to was you, head heavily rested on her shoulder, eyes, debating the world outside and the dreams inside. A hell of a debate, IMHO.

So I looked at you. I said your name. I kissed. I did everything in my power to get a response and you blinked, but nothing more. So I went to our ritual. The words I whisper to you every night since the day you were born. The words that showcase the ends of the earth I will run to for you. That close with the same word. Every single day for the past 18 months and 30 days.

That word? “Never”

And as I have done since you started acknowledging, I leave the last word for you to say. And you did.

With God (your mom) as my witness, you finished our exchange like you would had you have been on my shoulder right here in JC.

“Never.”

You said it. And I know,t hat you know, how much I know, that word means to me. The rest of the world will never know our exchange. But may the know now how it ends.

“Never.”

As in…when I will forget this moment. You are magical, my bbcc. A not so good day, turns into the greatest day ever.

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