You're Invited

Our wedding ceremony will take place on Monday, April 14, at 5PM EST 
at the Chapel of the Flowers, Las Vegas

If you would like to view the wedding, click on this link and follow the instructions:

Finding Inner Peace Through Present Parenting

I read a gut-wrenching story shared on Facebook this morning and the moral of the story was quite compelling.  In the short piece, a young boy saves up enough money to match his busy father’s hourly pay and asks to “buy” an hour of his time so that they may spend it together. The persuasive message that kids need their parents to be present in their lives was enough to make this old softie cry – especially since I could relate.

When it comes to spending the quality time that my children need, on the face of it, there are two strikes against me. As the non-custodial parent of my boys, my time with them is bound by a divorce agreement. On top of that, I’m a workaholic. In addition to my full-time government job, I have a pretty good gig as a freelancer doing online marketing and content work. That side job, though lucrative, eats up a lot of time that would otherwise be “free.”

Then again, I have no one to blame for lost time but myself.

You see, I have a near-obsessive, deep-rooted work ethic, thanks to the influence of my grandpa who ran a 24-hour business like he was Superman. Even after all of my work is finished, I always hear a little voice telling me that more work needs to be done. That’s when I find myself organizing the closet or cleaning out the garage, when I should be taking a break.

Lately, I have managed to keep that busy-work obsession in check. The upside to being the non-custodial parent is that I know exactly when I will be with my children and I have managed to balance, through thoughtful scheduling, my work-life and my family-life. As a result, I am able to meet my deadlines and get my work accomplished, without letting my professional life get in the way of my relationship with my children. In fact, mastering that was easy - but separating the two, mentally, has been more challenging.

Before I got sober, Joanna points out that I was never really “there” when my kids were around. She describes the earlier version of me as someone who always seemed to be lost inside his own head. As I now have the clarity to look back on those days and recognize the truth in her words, I find myself making a concerted effort to become “present” in the lives of my children.

You see, it isn’t enough to be a scout leader, to attend school events, or share a meal with your kids, if that time is spent thinking about “business,” or worrying about what might happen at tomorrow’s big meeting, or obsessing over how you are going to attain that big promotion. It isn’t enough to think about anything really, unless it is rooted in that very moment you are sharing with people you love.

It hasn’t been an easy task and I am a long way from mastering the technique, but when I am in the presence of my boys, I now take certain steps to turn the rest of the world “off.” This is a big deal for me, because it has been historically impossible to turn ANYTHING off, especially inside my head. For the sake of my family, and for my wellbeing too, I have been learning to do exactly that.

The first step has been to turn off my phone and avoid my computer whenever my children are around, or whenever I believe that Joanna and I could use each other’s attention. Hell, sometimes I do it because I know that I need to give MYSELF a break.

Six months ago this sort of “live in the moment” attitude was foreign to me and I would have deemed it “counterproductive,” but in those moments where I have been able to get in touch with my inner peace and spend quality time with Jo and the kids, all of my troubles seem to melt away. Sort of like meditation, these moments bless me with a clarity and a sharpness of mind that has become so valuable when it is finally time to take care of business. Everything seems to fall into place… and I realize that there were never really any troubles there to begin with.

The Southold Historic District and A Proposed Cell Tower: Putting It Into Perspective

I recently wrote about proposed amendments to Chapter 280-75 of the Southold Town Code, which pertains to wireless communications facilities (cell towers) in Southold Town.

My previous post focused on what I believe was a lack of transparency and a failure in due process, when the town board voted to enter into an agreement with AT&T to locate a cell tower behind Southold Town Hall, where such towers are currently prohibited.

In this post, I wish to offer my own perspective on why the proposed amendments signal a lack of respect for Southold’s rich history, a misunderstanding of its unique character, and a failure to protect our town for future generations. 

What is the Southold Historic District? Southold Historic District runs along Main Road for approximately 3 ½ blocks on the western end of the hamlet of Southold. According to the National Registry of Historic Places, the district boasts 86 contributing buildings, one contributing site, and two contributing objects. The majority are residential buildings, built either with a heavy timber frame or balloon frame construction between 1656 and about 1938. The district also includes three prominent religious facilities, as well as Southold Town Hall. This is the same area where Southold’s first settlers divided in-town homestead lots. By 1656 all of the lots along Main Road (then called the Town Street) were allotted to the original settlers.

While this area is important to those of us with deep roots in Southold Town, its significance is evident both on a state and a national level as well. In 1997, the district not only became a state-recognized historic district, but a nationally recognized historic district and added to the National Registry of Historic Places. 

What is a National Historic District?

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of our country's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources. Of the more than one million properties on the National Register, 80,000 are listed individually, while the rest are located within historic districts.  

What’s the Big Deal? 

There is no doubt that there is a need for improved cell service in the hamlet of Southold. However, with ample privately-owned property available for lease within the hamlet, locating a free-standing cell tower inside of a National Historic District would show a deep lack of respect for our own history.

National Historic Districts typically come with no strings attached, at least from the federal and state government. Instead, with guidance, the feds let local municipalities craft laws to protect these national gems. One such law, which is similar to most throughout the country, is 280-75 of the Southold Town Code.

As currently written, our wireless communications law reflects the mission of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 to “protect America's historic and archeological resources.” The current code allows us to adapt to current technologies (by locating cell towers within existing buildings, for example) but prevents the desecration of our historic districts by prohibiting free-standing cell towers.

The proposed amendments to this existing code WILL result in the construction of a cell tower inside the borders of the Southold Historic District, an area developed hundreds of years ago by our early settlers.

In 2015, the Town of Southold will celebrate its 375th anniversary and we will, undoubtedly, celebrate the occasion by looking back on our rich history and giving thanks for how it helped to shape the town that we love so much. I am sure that there will be parades, speeches, and many special programs that year.

I hope that the sun is shining down on our volunteers, our young people, and our elected officials, as they march through the Southold Historic District to mark this momentous occasion.

If the amendments to Chapter 280-75 of the Southold Town Code are passed, however, they will be walking in the shadow of a cell tower that simply does not belong.

Please attend the public hearing regarding these proposed amendments on Tuesday, January 14, 2014, at 7:32 p.m. at Southold Town Hall and ask the town board to respect our very own national treasure, not defile it.