New year and no fear January 6, 2013Posted by paulstella in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far
I have never worried about the number 13. Nine years successfully producing newscasts for Rochester’s top-rated ABC affiliate, 13WHAM-TV, detached me from any tendency toward that superstition.
So I fear not. In fact, I again find myself embracing 13—as in 2013. Compared with the past few years, I’m counting on this one serving up smooth sailing.
Let me say that 2012 was memorable for some very positive reasons. Early in the year I spent two weeks touring the amazing country of New Zealand. What a spectacle! My time down under blessed me with remarkable experiences, and I found great enjoyment in recounting my journey to family and friends through a series of blog posts here on Stellavision.
It’s also the year I accepted the opportunity for a major life transformation. In September I moved west after accepting a job at the University of Colorado Boulder. There are few places enticing enough for me to consider relocation, but I eventually found myself becoming infatuated with the idea of moving to Colorado.
The lifestyle here fits me. I spent many beautiful weekends this past fall hiking in the mountains, and I kicked off this year with my first taste of Colorado skiing.
But making such a big change at this time in my life has brought challenges too. Transitioning to a new job in a new town, where nothing is familiar, is hard. So is adjusting to the relative confinement of living in an apartment. And above all, I’m missing people—family and friends who have always been a great support to me. They remain a wonderful source of support, but they are all so many miles away.
Moving to Colorado also hastened the arrival of another difficult milestone—the end to my three-year adoption journey. From the beginning and over the months and years that followed, I spent a lot of time blogging honestly about my experiences as a dad. But I grew silent on the topic in 2012. It became too difficult a story to share.
I still have a sense of the excitement and joy that went into my decision to adopt, and I really did like being a dad. It just didn’t turn out the way I hoped it would. I don’t think I failed as a father, as I fully appreciate the difficult responsibility I took on. But I know in my heart I wasn’t successful either.
Perhaps, over time, something good to result from that experience will be revealed. I really hope so.
But until then, I look ahead with optimism and excitement. I did a lot of heavy lifting last year. Now it’s time to sit back and reap the rewards in 2013.
Rockin’ the vote in Boulder November 2, 2012Posted by paulstella in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far
Politics has always fascinated me to some degree. Having spent a large part of my career working in the TV news industry, I witnessed the anatomy of a lot of local races up close. But now that I live in Colorado, one of the coveted swing states during this year’s presidential election season, it’s been interesting to see national politics dropped at my doorstep.
President Obama brought his reelection bid to Boulder and the University of Colorado campus just days before the 2012 election. Boulder County doesn’t just “lean” Democratic, it’s “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” rock-solid Democratic territory. For that reason, it wasn’t surprising that more than 10,000 supporters filled the Coors Events Center for this campaign rally. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to take part in the spectacle, and here’s a sample of what I witnessed.
Each of us possess ALL the influence October 30, 2012Posted by paulstella in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far
I’m looking forward to this Thursday and a visit by President Obama for a campaign rally on the University of Colorado Boulder campus. “Please wait,” I say to my right-leaning friends. I hardly intend a partisan rant here, which I know the majority of us who fall anywhere along the political spectrum detest. So please hear me out.
I moved to Colorado in September from electorally irrelevant New York. Since turning 18, I’ve always cast a ballot for president in New York. I was reminded of that while packing for my move and locating a Walter Mondale campaign button, which I acquired as a college junior. Yeah, my track record for picking winners was tainted from the get-go.
Moving to a “swing state”—maybe 2012’s most swingin’ swing state—has added an extra level of intrigue to campaign season for this voter. I appreciate knowing my vote ‘could’ tip the balance. But regardless of that, I feel no more passionate this year about exercising my right—my privilege—to help choose our nation’s leader. I’ve always cherished this great American tradition.
This year, I have been educated on one of the more troubling aspects of residing in contested territory, consuming—over and over again—propaganda that is flooding the airwaves. Ads from both sides say more about the motivations of those who bankroll these messages than the plight of average Americans they profess to defend. It’s easy to assume the financially powerful, whose numbers are remarkably few, command all of the influence in directing our nation’s future.
But yesterday, as I left my car and walked the relatively short distance to my office at CU-Boulder, I found a source for inspiration underfoot. Messages, written in chalk, reminded pedestrians that Election Day is Nov. 6 and encouraged us all to vote. Every 15 yards or so, a new message shouted up at me.
That sidewalk scrawl speaks more to me than the entirety of the highly produced and polished ads that continue to hold my TV captive. It says that, come Election Day, each of us has ALL of the influence, in equal measure. One vote. And no single vote, no matter who casts it, is more powerful than the other. It’s why America, despite all of its dysfunction, remains so great.
So in learning about the President’s rally on campus this Thursday, I was a little surprised to hear a few of my coworkers sigh.
“What? You’re not excited?” I asked.
Turns out this will be presidential visit #3 to the Boulder campus this campaign season. So while I’m ready to get knee-deep in the hoopla (Name that 80s song!), my colleagues see road closures and numerous other inconveniences—complicated by preparations for this weekend’s CU homecoming activities.
Bring on the inconvenience, I say. I’m living history.
Engaging the entire team on game day September 30, 2012Posted by paulstella in Uncategorized.
add a comment
“Good thing I left early,” it occurred to me. I hadn’t taken into account potential traffic delays prior to pulling my car in line to enter the University of Colorado Boulder campus. Over the past few weeks, the daily commute to my new job had remained pretty uneventful. But this was game day!
I returned to campus this past Saturday to attend my first event in support of the Leeds School of Business. The CU Buffaloes were hosting UCLA in a PAC-12 football matchup, and my communications and alumni relations team was holding a pregame reception for alumni, students and their families.
Having not previously been a close follower of college football, I’d been warned that the CU football program had been, well, struggling. The guys would go on to support that assessment with a 42-14 loss to the Bruins later that day.
But as I inched my way toward parking, I enjoyed the spectacle that surrounded me. Many CU fans had set up camp, so to speak, in nearly every available crevice of campus. They were there to bask in the beauty of a sunny Colorado fall afternoon and to participate in a classic form of Americana that we all know as ‘tailgating.’ I could tell I was in store for a fun day.
And as I arrived at the reception—held underneath a large tent erected on the lush quad just west of the Koelbel Building, home to the Leeds School—I greeted my colleagues Sarah Martens and Will Hoberg. Sarah, with Will’s assistance, had an expert handle on the event’s logistics. My primary role was to stay out of their way.
In honesty, my job on this day was to more fully integrate within the broader Leeds community—meeting alumni, students, families and staff while gaining a sense of how the school might better engage every member of its ‘team.’
There is much to learn in the months ahead, but as you can see, there may be no better classroom in which to begin my lesson than a sundrenched Colorado college campus.
A mountaintop perspective on keeping grounded September 23, 2012Posted by paulstella in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far
As I sit there, perched near the trail’s pinnacle, I enjoy a soothing breeze and the magnificent silence that accompanies the stunning scenery of the Rocky Mountains from an altitude of more than 9,000 feet. At this moment, I find validation in my decision to come here—to relocate more than 1,600 west of my longtime home.
Lifestyle has been an important motivator in my decision to move to Colorado. From the gentle terrain of the Colorado Front Range to the rugged incline of its mountains, the state provides a diverse playground for anyone with a passion for outdoor activities. Beautiful weather conditions for my first full weekend here prompts me to attempt my initial hike as a resident.
I find my way to Golden Gate Canyon State Park despite relatively heavy traffic that wound its way through many of the mountain communities. Fall foliage is a primary draw for many, as the aspen trees are reaching their bright yellow peak.
So as I begin to walk the 4.5-mile route of Burro Trail, I find ample opportunity to reflect on the changes I have encountered over the past week.
I think about the new job with the University of Colorado. My appointment as director of communications and alumni relations for the Leeds School of Business provided the ticket here, but the job represents more than an income. I expect it to be a source of personal and professional fulfillment.
“So we haven’t scared you off yet?” I recall Melanie Sidwell asking me. Leeds’ assistant director of media communications pleasantly directed her question as I prepared to exit the office late Friday afternoon.
“Hardly,” I replied with a smile.
Melanie, along with Sarah Martens, associate director of alumni relations, and Lauren Seaton, assistant director of multimedia productions, have been an amazing force—holding things together in the absence of a director and, now that I’m onboard, making me feel completely welcome. They are doing everything possible to set me up for success, and I am grateful to have them as colleagues. The job, I conclude, is a source of strength.
But as I continue the hike, my thoughts wander to evenings encountered after work, returning to a near-empty apartment and struggling with the realization of I what I left behind. I occasionally get homesick and, in my darker moments, struggling with a nagging uncertainty that makes me wonder, “Why did I do this?”
Movers are scheduled to bring the remainder of my things to the apartment next weekend, so my comfort and a general sense of belonging will undoubtedly improve. But I confess that living conditions, as they stand now, remain a source of weakness.
I never doubted the challenges associated with moving far away, but I hold firm in my ability to overcome occasionally waves of uncertainty. And as I sit at my trial-side perch, I feel validated—pledging to stay grounded, take each day as it comes and keep my focus on the broader landscape.
Where better than the mountains to commit to such a perspective?
P.S. I had hoped to share photos from my hike but accidentally blew them away while syncing my new iPhone with my laptop. Clearly I’m also not in sync.
Signing in for the long haul September 17, 2012Posted by paulstella in Uncategorized.
The old-timer on duty at the Welcome Center’s information desk was happy to greet me. “What brings you to Colorado?” he asked.
“I’m starting my new life as a Colorado resident,” I said proudly.
“Wonderful!” the volunteer replied, and then he directed my attention to the guest book at his side. “Let’s tell the governor.”
He said this without an ounce of sarcasm, so I couldn’t help but oblige. I doubted the governor of Colorado spent much time thumbing through the state’s various registries. And, as I signed in, I wondered, “What kind of new resident am I anyway?” After all, I didn’t even know ‘my’ governor’s name.
The visit to the Welcome Center became the final pit stop on my 3-day journey across much of America. I left Rochester around midday Friday, but not before one final walk-through of my beloved suburban house—my sanctuary for more than eight years. Standing in the sunroom, overlooking the backyard, I lamented over what I was leaving behind. In that moment, I allowed the emotion to overtake me.
But in boarding my car and beginning the trip westward, I found my thoughts transitioning forward, and my excitement mounting. New opportunities, new relationships and a whole new way of life await me. And along the way, the beauty of the American landscape helped to frame my reflections. My spirits soared!
I have since arrived at my destination. Although in my new apartment, I have few possessions close at hand. The rest of my things are likely a week or more behind me. Until then, sparse living conditions will certainly prove challenging.
Thankfully, I begin my employment with the University of Colorado Boulder today. I will direct a lot of energy getting accustomed to my job, getting acquainted with my colleagues and getting familiar with the campus culture. I’m excited to get underway.
I will always remember how my Colorado story got started at that Welcome Center. And after pulling away, as my car zoomed along I-76, it wasn’t long before the Rocky Mountains began taking shape in the distance. The intensity of what I can only describe as their ‘pull’ enthralled me.
I knew then I was arriving home.
Switching over to Mountain time August 27, 2012Posted by paulstella in Uncategorized.
It was not my first visit. But the opportunity last August to attend a friend’s wedding in Colorado helped me put things in perspective. I kept thinking, “I could really make a life for myself here.”
Beginning next month, I will do just that. I am excited to report that future chapters of Stellavision will come to you from the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. I have accepted a position with the University of Colorado at Boulder, the flagship campus of the CU system, as the director of communications and alumni relations for the Leeds School of Business.
From the beauty of its mountains to its fit-and-active lifestyle—I love almost everything about Colorado. Its residents, I find, are laid back and welcoming, so I am confident of feeling right at home there.
But as you might expect, my emotions are many—and seemingly contradictory. First, there is raw excitement. I join a talented team of higher education professionals in performing work that I love. And in Boulder, I’ll be immersed in a community that is both enterprising and entertaining. Fresh opportunities and new relationships await me.
There is sadness as well. I leave behind the one place I have ever truly called home—Rochester and Western New York—plus family, friends and my beloved RIT. Sharing news of my decision with University News coworkers was bittersweet. While happy to accept their expressions of support, I shared their sadness that we will no longer be a team.
Last week, even before my plans were official, I felt my first wave of nostalgia. Sitting on the bleachers inside RIT’s Frank Ritter Arena, scribbling notes for a story on a ‘summer school’ for youth hockey players, I suddenly sensed myself drifting back in time. In my mind, I saw myself among more than 2,000 orange-clad Tigers hockey fans, heard the chants of the Corner Crew, felt the intensity of the Pep Band, and sensed the excitement of near-certain victory.
Yeah, I’m going to miss this place.
But as they say, timing is everything. Timing absolutely influenced my decision. Much of what has happened in my life over the past year or so—some of which I have documented here—has swung the doors of opportunity wide open. And I feel satisfied with the portfolio of achievements I’ve tallied during my 12 years of service to RIT. Personally and professionally—it’s simply time.
The Colorado chapters of Stellavision begin in mid-September. The weeks ahead will provide ample opportunity to reflect fondly on the many chapters I’ve written leading up to this exciting new journey.
Memo from Western New York: We’re sorry! July 1, 2012Posted by paulstella in Uncategorized.
add a comment
We are sorry to learn that many of you are coping with sweltering, record-breaking heat. It must be VERY uncomfortable.
Still, we can’t help remember how you mock us in the wintertime when we go what sometimes seems like weeks without sunshine on our race to 100 inches of annual snowfall. For the record, we’re very comfortable today – currently 79 in Buffalo and 83 in Rochester – and awash in sunshine. Actually, we’ve lost count of the number of beautiful days we’ve enjoyed this summer, and the season’s only getting underway. We thought you should know. Stay cool, if you can.
Western New York
Remembering my Mom May 13, 2012Posted by paulstella in Uncategorized.
It’s nice having an opportunity to reflect on Mom this year. That may sound strange, but I’m pretty sure her memory got shortchanged last Mother’s Day. Instead, I recall much of it spent at my father’s bedside. Just a week removed from his heart surgery, my focus was squarely on hopes and prayers for any signs of recovery.
Mom passed on 11 years ago, the result of numerous ailments that chipped away at her vitality over the course of a decade. Despite the physical ravages endured during that period, her mind remained strong and her spirit seldom wavered.
I have frequently said that the day I lost my Mom was the day I lost the one person who was intensely interested in every aspect of my life. Yet I remember getting annoyed by her seemingly redundant line of questioning intended to expose any detail of my life that may have gone unreported. Of course, I miss that now—and suspect I always will.
As is likely the case with most mothers, she placed the needs of her family above her own. Yet her success as a provider seemed to fulfill her greatest need, building the foundation upon which our family prospered.
I regret that I cannot share this day with her in person, but I find it uplifting to pause, reflect and ultimately reconnect with her in spirit. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
The middle-aged man in the mirror April 29, 2012Posted by paulstella in Uncategorized.
I’m not sure I would have recognized him if I didn’t already know it was me. The thinning head of hair and the deepening lines surrounding the eyes are what threw me. I mean, yes, I’m well acquainted with ‘that’ me, just not as it’s reflected in ‘that’ mirror.
I arrive at the house about 10 minutes early. My brother Chris, along with my sister-in-law Gina, agreed to meet me there—our childhood home—to lay down some signatures and address one other matter. That house, which has been part of the Stella family for around 100 years, is soon to become somebody else’s home.
Since our Dad died last August, the family has stayed busy addressing his estate. The house is the one remaining piece, and soon a young family with two kids will take ownership. While the closing is likely still a couple of months away, my wish is to take a few minutes now to just walk around and reminisce on my own.
I find myself compelled to head upstairs, where as children my siblings and I began and concluded each day. Describing the space as ‘quirky’ is putting it mildly. Before reaching steps 11 and 12, normal-sized adults need to duck their heads to transition from the staircase and turn left toward the second-floor bedrooms. I have often joked that nobody in my family grew past 5’ 9” because the bedroom ceilings are no higher than 5’10”.
The ability of that space to trigger memories remains constant, despite the fact that few remnants of my childhood remain. But as I enter my bedroom—the one to which I retreated as a high school and college student—I’m struck by one thing that has so obviously changed. It’s me!
The mirror is the same, but the reflection looks so different from the one that stared back at me 25 or 30 years ago. I remember, as a young man, positioning myself directly in front of it as a matter of routine—poised to debate with myself whatever issue might have arisen that day. Even as a self-absorbed teenager, my instinct was generally to do what I knew to be ‘right’. Help myself, of course, but do no harm to others. Occasionally, as I weighed my options, that reflection would betray me. My motives, I’d realize, were not always pure. Corrective actions would sometimes be required. The mirror seemed able to set me right.
So I wonder, if the boy then could see the reflection of today, how would he react?
I suspect the first response might be, “What the hell happened to your hair?” But hopefully, upon further consideration, he might say, “Hang in there, ol’ man, you’re still doing what’s right.”
And I hope he’d be proud.
- – -
SPECIAL RECOGNITION: I want to offer my thanks to my sister Pattie. After relaying this experience to her during a phone call, she said, “I feel a blog coming on!” Sadly, until that moment, I hadn’t been feeling it. Her feedback made me realize I did have a story to share. My hope, as it is always, is that somehow these observations are relayed in a way that resonate in the lives of my readers.