Category: My Life

What I’m working on

  Last night I clocked out at 1 am after working on a WordPress DNS setup for Comfort Theory, trying to figure out why my Flexible SSL locks from CloudFlare aren’t fully green on my WordPress multisite network, and figuring out how to get a custom URL for another client, Youth Mission Co here in Asheville.

On my multisite, I’m getting a bunch of mixed content errors on my Digital Strategy Works domain, despite the Chrome JavaScript console showing me that all error URLs start with https! Sigh. More research needed.
Today was quite busy too. Between caring for Hudson, our 13-month old, all morning while my wife continues to work on her health, fitting in the configuration of Modern Tribes’s Event Calendar ticketing system with Woo Commerce checkout and PayPal IPN for CQResults.com, as well as having a late afternoon dinner with wife and son, the day is still not over.
I just launched a new coupon campaign for All In One SEO Pack Pro and cleared some social media posts tonight in Sprout Social and I still haven’t figured out my issue with my multisite. I have yet to run by another client’s restaurant, East Village Grille, to show him his new restaurant menu system I implemented using OpenMenu.com.

Ah ha! I just now finished the battle with YouTube on merging two channels. Learning something new everyday! Verification was a little difficult as well, but enduring leads to success! Just gotta work the issues.

I’ll probably be in bed tonight again at 1 am.

MetroTV Reel from 2000 to 2002

15-years after my stint as Senior Producer at MetroTV in New York City, I’ve finally uploaded and posted my old reel, which features Rachel Perry, a popular TV host who started her early career at MetroTV and went on to work for many major entertainment networks. In this video, you’ll see an interview with Meres, the curator of 5ptz, a graffiti art space in Long Island City, Queens. Rachel also hosts The New York Music Rundown from the original Halcyon space on Smith Street in Brooklyn. There are also interviews with Nas, Brian McKnight, and the Roots and appearances by Groove Armada, Paul Van Dyk, Boy George, and Deep Dish. My good friend, DJ Madsol Desar was on the wheels, as well.

I really enjoyed my early stint producing television programming and probably should have stuck with it. After my layoff from MetroTV due to reduction in staff at Cablevision after 9/11, it was difficult to find a job in New York City. I ended up focusing on streaming media and worked for two big banks and MLB Advanced Media, before landing a gig developing a contextual commerce music platform for StarStyle.

This video is really a throwback and reminds me of one the best jobs I ever had in New York City. I enjoyed using my music connections to book artists on The Daily Beat or feature my friends, like DJ Madsol Desar, on one of the show. The New York Music Rundown ended up winning a Communicator Award for Best New Cable Product.

Let me know what you think of this video by leaving a comment below.

My Christmas story 2014 about a boy named Hudson

Missy & Tony with Baby Hudson
Missy & Tony with Baby Hudson

On this Christmas Day 2014, I am a father at 48-years of age.

My wife and I started trying to have kids in 2007, but we were unsuccessful. We kept at it, even trying the science route of fertility treatments for a while. The toxins in the treatments hit Missy hard. She has a hard time dealing with toxins in medication as a result of a condition related to a prior mold exposure. We decided it was time to look into adoption and sought out an agency in Raleigh, NC to help us start our search.

Since we began our search, we’ve moved a few times. In the world of adoption, with every move comes the necessity of a new home study and updated criminal background checks–county, state, and federal. The adoption process is extremely thorough and meant to weed out couples that may have colorful pasts.

After spending two months in Ecuador over the winter, we settled into our new apartment in Asheville, NC. We thought it was important to start marketing ourselves locally, so we printed out postcard size flyers and tacked them up in coffee shops and cafés around the city.  We also re-engaged on the web, updating our Facebook Open Adoption page, our MissyandTony.com website, and our agency adoption page. Those efforts paid off when we were discovered by a local adoption attorney here in Asheville, Christopher Craig (of Craig Associates). Fortuitously, Chris connected with a local birth mother who was almost to term at 8-months at an adoption workshop held at the Pack Library in the city center.

Chris set up a meeting with the birth mom and she selected us! It was then 3 short weeks attending ultrasounds and quickly getting to know her and her own parents, who were super supportive of her on this journey. On December 7 at 2:42 am, Missy was with the birth mother in the delivery room and witnessed the birth of our son. Just like that, we became parents almost overnight.

It was definitely not as simple as it sounds. There were some legal hurdles we needed to clear up between birth mom and a prior relationship, as well as an issue the hospital’s risk management department wanted us to resolve. The week of the 7th was a busy time getting those details taken care of from our tiny overnight room in the NICU at Mission Hospital, also here in Asheville. Little Hudson David Antonio Zeoli needed just a bit of extra care, because he wasn’t feeling well after the delivery. It was nothing serious. The hospital was just being cautious. That day, our lives changed forever.

It’s an odd feeling going through the adoption process. I think adoption, while common, is not necessarily top of mind for most people who can conceive. It’s a different kind of waiting. When you’re in a search for an adoptive child, it can get monotonous and it can become a seemingly never-ending journey. There’s all the calls with the agency for guidance, education, and support. Then there’s the marketing of yourselves and your story to prospective birth moms. Of course, there’s the hours of filling out paperwork and more paperwork to go through the red tape that is there for the child’s safety, but sometimes seems so redundant. Lastly, there’s the waiting for something…anything to happen. It’s hit or miss. You might connect with a birth mother who isn’t ready. Or, in some cases, you are contacted by people trying to sell babies illegally and women who aren’t pregnant with mental health issues that can’t control their behavior. You have to be able to read between the lines. If you’ve never gone through the adoption process, it is a challenge to recognize when something is real or when it’s not.

I never, ever would have thought I would be here adopting a child at this point in my life. But somehow, this is where I am. I’m doing something I never, ever thought I’d do. I’m not going to say that I was 100% on board with adoption in the first place. I wasn’t totally sold on the idea, but I went along with it, because it was important to Missy and we really did need to start our family. I’d been building a business and knew how important it was to stay engaged in and relevant in my field. Looking for a child seemed like a distant possibility. Really? Someone is going to give us their child? Just like that? OK.

It’s like waiting for that trip to Disney World your parents had promised you after they’d postponed it a few years in a row. Sure, Disney World seemed like a great place, but with each passing year it felt so far away–like it was never going to happen.  And to get there, you couldn’t go on your own. You needed someone to help you. As the waiting game commenced, there were times it just seemed like the Disney trip might never come. You began to treat waiting like it was something you wanted to look forward to, but without firm plans, you shift it back of mind, hoping for the day, but never fully investing in the idea.

Fortunately, we finally made it to the proverbial Disney World! Like all adoptions, it took some time. Weeks into months and months into years. But, now we are adoptive parents to this little amazing young man who we call, Hudson.

Our child, Hudson
Hudson David Antonio Zeoli | Born 12/7

He’s here. After all the waiting and wishing, Missy and I finally get to realize what comes a little easier to so many people I’ve known over the years who were able to have kids. Many of my friends have kids graduating from college or in the workforce. Time went by. Not so fast, but just as fast as time goes by. Tick-tock, tick-tock, and the calendar flips to the next day after the last.  Another year goes by and you wonder, “where did the time go?” You can’t really grasp what you’re not experiencing, because it’s hard to know what parenting is like unless you’re a parent.

BOOM! Now, we’re parents. Whoa! The whole world just stopped on a dime when someone said, “here you go…here’s your son.” We’ve arrived and are embracing this little man with all the love we have to give. With our hearts, minds, and spirit. We know that everyday he’s with us is a gift of immeasurable proportions. For this gift, we are incredibly grateful. It seems so surreal. We know adoptions happen everyday, but when they happen to you, it’s an experience one cannot really explain. Someone has made a plan for you to adopt their child and you begin a new journey without that same 9-months others have to plan. I’m now on my first ride at Disney World aka the “Interstellar Galactic World of the Marvelous (and Gassy) Hudson David Antonio Zeoli.” It’s just as fun now as it was back then.

I don’t much believe in Christmas miracles. I’m a pragmatist. I know Christmas is a man-made holiday that has become the most commercial holiday of them all. We make up these things to make sense of the world and create days to stop and celebrate for celebration’s sake. I know we had done the work to put ourselves in a place where we would be found, and we were. Yes, lightning does strike and people say magic does happen. I’m going to say that the universe felt the energy from our hearts and found a way for all that love to bring Hudson to us. The spirit of many warm and kind people looking out for us – all aligned for the same common purpose – to give Hudson an opportunity he might not have otherwise had out of the gate, most likely contributed to our celebration today.

Image of Tony Zeoli with his son, Hudson
Tony Zeoli & his son, Hudson

On this Christmas Day, I am so grateful for my wife and so grateful for my son. I now have a family to call my own. Something many men aspire to have, because it’s innate in all of us to procreate, sustain and propel human existence. While it did not happen naturally, it happened the way it was meant to. We were given the gift of caring for a child who did not come from us, but is now with us forever. He is us and we are him, brought together as one family unit through the love, support, and recognition of others.

While I have faith there is a higher power, I find that power one of energy connecting everyone’s worlds. If that is God in some people’s minds, then God is the one to thank for providing the energy and connective tissue to bring this story to a wonderful close.

Thank you for reading. Good night and Merry Christmas.

Take a minute to teach

Sharing your gift is important. What you teach others can help them traverse the world and see things they never would have seen. There is nothing more important than teaching and paying it forward.

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Friends drinking at party

Drinking and Friendship

It's difficult to make friends at a later age, especially when you don't drink alcohol or eat processed foods. When you're gluten-free, trying to cut down on sugar and you want stimulating conversation, it's more difficult to find moments where alcohol does not get in the way.

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Reflections on experiencing life in Ecuador

My wife, Missy, and I are now down to eight days left of our visit to Ecuador. In just over one week, we'll be back in the United States, returning to the lives we put on hold and friends we left on November 25 to experience this most interesting and joyful adventure. While I was very concerned about our journey here and what that might do to my job prospects and other opportunities for work at home, I grew to embrace this journey as a challenge and experience and I see how its helped me grow as a person.

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My last post of the year from Cuenca, Ecuador

What a year it has been. Last year at this time I was trying my best to lead an inexperienced start-up on a failed music project, which today still has no traction to speak of. It will never succeed, because everyone wants a show and no one wants to address the fundamental problems inherent in the business. Fast forward to today and I celebrated my one-year anniversary with my beautiful wife, Missy, as well as Christmas and New Year's in Cuenca, Ecuador. That is a pretty amazing change of environments.

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My Internet Speed in Cuenca

Living outside of the United States for almost four weeks now in a 3rd World economy, I have experienced the divide between the access we have in the United States and the access Ecuadorians have here in Cuenca. To me,
the distinct and noticeable differences in Internet connectivity limits productivity. While web pages load fairly fast, it's the sharing of large files across the network that is a problem.

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Digital Strategy Works

I am very excited to report the beta launch of http://www.netmix-co.netmix.co, the digital strategy and web/mobile development agency that I've been working on independently since 2009 and recently with parter, Michael McNeil and our highly skilled Lead Developer, Jeff Marx.

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Our favorite little restaurant in Quito

Every morning, we start off having breakfast at this wonderful local restaurant near the Hotel Sebastien on Calle de Luis Cordero. When you're in the United States, it's rare to see a restaurant with this charming character, almost like a movie set from another era.

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