Vaya con Dios My Friend

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Hey Kevin,

We’ve had a couple conversations since Monday… but I wanted to take a few minutes and “put pen to paper” so to speak.  Nothing cleanses the heart like writing things down.

When I was 11 and you were 22, we didn’t have a lot in common… but even back that far, I remember that smile of yours… and your laugh.  Both came so easily to you. I clearly remember your wedding day – “Save Me” written on the bottom of your shoes.  I was surprised and honored when you & Donna chose me to be the godfather to Shannon. I think it was that choice that was key to you and I becoming such good friends.  When I moved to NYC you & Donna welcomed me into your home and into the lives of your family on a regular basis.  Many a weekend was spent in Hatfield… torturing Donna, Shannon & Megs… wrestling with Zac, & cracking you up. So many awesome memories….

  • Zac dropping me like a sack of potatoes when he tackled me and inadvertently punched me in the nuts
  • Pretending to fall asleep while Megs tried to tell a story & watching you laugh
  • Tossing Donna in the air at any family party possible
  • Getting in trouble for bringing beer to the fire hall so we had a refreshment while decorating… when the fire hall was strictly dry
  • Stealing the keys from Donna and forcing her to listen to the one man band at the local bar
  • Getting loaded on your front porch with our “campfire” (that was really just a citronella candle)

And soooo many more (note: I’m pretty sure those last 3 were all in one weekend… Donna is kind of a saint, huh?)

So while I can no longer see you… I will always feel you.  You are a part of me… and those memories keep you alive in my heart & soul.  I believe you know how much I truly love you… and that will never die.  You are an amazing spirit and my life has been made all the better having known you.

I simply want to say thank you… Thank you for being my friend.  Thank you for the 3 special people you helped bring into this world and raised with Donna.  They too are amazing spirits that I am blessed to have in my life.  Thank you for taking such good care of Donna… and thanks to Donna for taking such good care of you.  The 2 of you have been role models for me as a couple, as parents, and as “good eggs” in general.  

I will miss you… but I know you are with me now more than you could have ever been before… and I am excited to see how you visit me and influence me in my life… until the day I get to see you again.

All my love,
Dan

 

 

 

Count your Blessings

Today, for me, is a day to give thanks and count my blessings.  It’s the day when “every dark cloud has a silver lining” was drilled into me… even if I didn’t completely embrace it until recently.

On September 10, 2001, I went to work like any other day.  Only on that day I quickly found out that layoffs were happening… the third round that year.   Friends and associated were getting canned.  I went to lunch with 3 friends and we talked about what was going on and we wondered if any of us were going to be on the list.  We went back to the office and I started calling friends who had already moved on to see if they knew of openings for people I knew already had been laid off.  As I was on the phone with one of my friends I got a tap on the shoulder… it was my turn to go see the head of the department and get my walking papers.

My stomach sank as I walked into the office… the head of the depart and the woman from HR.  Both people I had had drinks with and liked… and they both looked like crap.  A day full of cutting people loose had taken it’s toll on them.  So, for whatever reason, my mood changed.  I felt sorry for them and I told them I’d land on my feet… I was a smart guy… The department head just looked confused (I regularly confused him with my reactions).  So we parted ways on good terms and he walked me out of the building.

Then my stomach sank again… crap, I have no job, no income, rent is coming due…. pretty much pure panic.  I started making calls again, and that calmed me down and after a few hours I was thinking this whole thing would turn out OK.  I’d be fine – I just needed to focus on the positive.

So the next morning I emailed a few people I had committed to playing volleyball with letting them know I’d still play even though I wasn’t part of the company.  I had woken up early and worked out and was getting ready to do something fun… Yesterday had been such a downer that I wanted to just forget things for a day and enjoy myself.

This is the moment where yesterday became the “good day” and today became horrible.  I had tried calling a few people at work and I couldn’t get through… very weird… but not crazy weird.  Then a fellow co-worker who had also been laid off called me freaking out….

The day before I had been laid off from my job on the 103rd floor of WTC 1.  Today, September 11, 2001… well, we all know what happened.  Me getting laid off was, in fact, a blessing.  Hard to see on 9/10…. easy to see on 9/11.  Since that day I have been blessed in many ways… but I am especially grateful for the following blessings:

  1. I met and eventually married Yolanda Valdez (now McCarthy), and have been graced with a wonderful life with her here in Colorado.
  2. I became an “insta-Dad” to 2 incredible young boys, Isaac & Savignon Swimmer.
  3. I have a full house, full of activity, with my family as well as my brother in law Nando and his 2 girls Faith & Mia.

I continue to be blessed with my extended family and the beauty of social media as a way of keeping up with & involved with all of them.  Life has’t been easy… in the years since 9/11 I’ve lost my mother, my father and my brother… but it has been rewarding, fun filled, and worthy of plenty of gratitude.

So a big thank you to Yolanda & the boys for allowing me to be a part of their lives… and for all of the family & friends who have added such a richness to my life.

I am the luckiest guy I know – hands down.  :-)

Spirit Day at Highline Academy

Savignon with his 60's costume
Savignon with his 60’s costume

Peace Man!

Savignon had a killer costume today.  With school coming to an end, this week is spirit week and the kids have a theme each day.  Today was “dress as your favorite decade”.  Savignon channeled his inner Grateful Dead/Cheech Marin and knocked this one out of the park.

My nieces chose the 80’s… and they knocked their decade out of the park too….  Pretty fun way to start the day!

Faith & Mia Spirit Week 2012
Faith & Mia Spirit Week 2012

Observations

In the last few weeks I’ve been lucky enough to meet some very creative people.  Volunteering to help with the viewing parties for Mondo Guerra I’ve been able to meet some guest designers who have come into town for the show.  I’ve also been able to get a better understanding of what they actually go through on these shows.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a set of any kind… and reality TV wasn’t really “the thing” when I was on a set.  There were a handful of cop shows back in the 90’s… nothing like what we have today.

So, as viewers, we block out our Thursday evenings and plan for watching Project Runway All Stars.  We have 12 weeks to take it all in.  It’s easy to forget that all 12 episodes are shot in a month or less.  Each weekly episode we see is a grueling back to back shooting schedule where these designers are making creations day in, day out.  I can’t figure out how to write a 200 word blog post every week, much less everyday, and these guys and girls get creative each & everyday for a month straight.  Right now, we’re only 1/2 way through the season, but you can imagine the stress and exhaustion that these designers are already experiencing.  By the end of “the season” they have to be so stressed out and sleep deprived they are ready for a long, much needed, rest.

But they don’t really rest.  This is their moment and they have to take advantage of it.  They have to pre-publicize the upcoming season.  They have year-long obligations to LifeTime.  They have to promote themselves during the airings of the episodes.  And they have to find a way to keep their name out there and keep themselves relevant to keep the momentum going.  It’s hard exhausting work… especially when you then think that they also expose themselves to the public and leave themselves open to criticism from people who simply don’t know jack about what they do or how hard they work.

So to the designers I’ve had the pleasure of meeting… you are an amazing group of people, so don’t let the idiots of the world who actually take the time to tweet “F— You” bring you down.  There will always be idiots in this world but you… you are all unique and bring talent and beauty to the world.  For that, I simply say “Thank you”.

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Re-Start

First and foremost, Happy Birthday to my wife, Yolanda. We had a great day yesterday “pre-celebrating” her birthday and we are going to have another great day today with our boys in tow.

Now – back to The 4 Hour Body. My stomach is nearly back to it’s rock solid state. So tomorrow begins the “ReStart”. I’m going to stay off the PAGG stack for a while though. It’ll be all Slow-Carb, Kettlebell Swings and the prescribed crunches. Luckily, although I have not been eating well, I have not gained much weight. I’m still going to Binge today, so I’ll be gaining more weight, so weigh in’s won’t be until next Saturday morning.:-)

So in other news my wife and I are now helping out a local designer with his Social Media strategy. This is really a dream gig for both of us. I’ve been reading & playing with this stuff for a while and my wife has been wanting to get involved with local Denver based artists and designers for quite some time. So no matter what ultimately happens with this “venture”, it has already been an incredible ride and we’ve met some outstanding people that have enriched our lives.

So as we move ahead I’ll be blogging a bit about that experience as well as my 4HB work. With the new opportunity in front of us I’ll also be able to (I think) get back into my photography/cinematography roots…. aka BEING CREATIVE! YAY!!!!!!

So keep your eyes open and watch us ride this wave.