An Open Letter to My Family: Thank You & I Love You

This is one of the hardest things I have ever written. I pondered composing a handwritten letter to each of you, but I want the world to know how much I appreciate and love the three of you. By the time you read this I already moved to San Francisco. However, this was posted on my flight to Boston and I will see you Saturday. Please know that I will be back to visit from time to time, and expect you to take a trip to SF. As I initially write this I am emotional — something I have never been good at showing and work hard to contain within me. Not because I am afraid or embarrassed, but because I want to be strong and make sure you know that everything is going well with me.

The reason why I chose San Francisco is that I fell in love with the city, enjoy the startup ecosystem, the health conscious environment, I believe I discover quite a bit about myself each day, and I wish to embark on a new journey. But there is another, underlying and important reason why I chose this city. I personally believe it where I can succeed the fastest — not said simply, but can accelerate things — and ensure that we can spend more time together. As a family, I want to travel the world with you and enjoy all life has to offer. Everything I do from here on out is to make sure this goal comes to fruition.

My incredible family

Growing up in Warwick, Rhode Island

Our home was always enjoyable. We had a lot of children our age in the neighborhood and I vividly remember all of the community events we held. Barbecues, basketball, fires, soccer, street hockey, and more. Our house was definitely the hangout spot. I want to share a story from about two weeks ago. On June 11th I was still not feeling well and went to the walk-in. It was not until my car ride home down long street that I realized Warwick will always be a part of me. This is where I grew up and I am thankful for what it has given me. It is certainly not the greatest city in the world, but it was full of people who cared about one another — a strong community. I know that whenever I come home I will be surrounded by people who support me and likewise. It was nice to have that environment. I do not regret going to Toll Gate over Hendricken and I am thankful I saved you $40,000. As a whole, the U.S. education system needs an overhaul of systematic change — regardless of public or private. School is what you make of it. I feel like I made the right decision in going to a public school, and understand people better because of it. No offense to students at Hendricken, but I felt I had more freedom to decide who I wanted to be, was surrounded by people from all backgrounds, and I had phenomenal teachers. I did not need the guidance that many students at other schools need. Furthermore, I will most likely never live in Warwick again, because there is much of the world to see. However, I will be back at some point and will always remember it as home.

Dear Family,

Mom

You are one of the most caring, selfless, and kind souls I have ever met. You are constantly putting others before yourself and I cannot name a time where you turned down Kyle or me— no matter how ridiculous the request. You were always willing to ensure we had a smile on our face. One of my favorite things was playing competitive Call of Duty until 5 AM, which is when you woke up, and crossing paths while you make your morning coffee. You would look at me with disdain but I smiled and you smirked because you realized I would continue to do it. I think we bond over the fact that we both have medical conditions that are considered to be autoimmune. Type 1 Diabetes for me and Crohn’s for you. I had hospitalizations for three or more days occur quite often: 2004, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2013, and 2016. In high school alone I missed 150+ days. I seemed to always get sick and a cold for a healthy person was the flu for me. During each of those times, you were always in the room and by my side. The 2016 hospitalization was during my junior year at Babson. I went to the school’s clinic and they had a police officer escort me to the Newton-Wellesley Hospital nearby. I called and told you everything was fine, but you refused and still came to visit. Sometimes I hide my pain or sadness because I want you to be strong, and, in turn, I believe it makes me a stronger person. You are indeed a mother. Please work on becoming healthier and stop smoking — I want you to be around for my children. I say this with love. I know that things have been tough since Grandma passed away last May and we all need you to be strong. She wants you to be happy and truly loved you. If not for me, do it for her. Be happy. Smile. Everything will get better. I love you.

Mom ❤

Dad

You come off as a tough guy, but in reality, you are a soft and gentle being — and that is a positive characteristic. You let people know how you feel, but internally, you know you want to help that person regardless — a constant internal battle. This was one of the most valuable things you have taught me to express. You do everything, for everyone. This is quite altruistic but causes you more stress than you might believe. You need to learn the power of the word “No” and only help those who are deeply appreciative. I have learned to do it in a kind way, and most of the time, the requester understands. Most people in the world want things, but are truly not grateful nor need what they demand. You have given our family foundation and allowed me to create my own path to success and destiny. As a child, you definitely tried to scare me with exaggerations, which is why we probably argued so often. I stood up to you and you most likely saw that as revolting. Well, you often state how intelligent I am, and intelligent people do not like rules — which is one explanation, to say the least. Our relationship over the last few years has evolved and I appreciate all that you have done for me. However, in the future, I wish for you to take the time to listen more to me and I promise to do the same for you. I want our relationship to flourish so that we may support each other in our successes. The most valuable lessons you have taught me, in no particular order, are definitely how to: network, find solutions, learn from your mistakes, and how to be selfless. Ironically, being around your impatience has made me much more patience. The most powerful thing I have observed from our relationship is learning mostly from not the things you have told me, but the values you instilled in me and the mistakes you have made. We are all human beings and make mistakes, but how we react and push forward, is what defines our character. Your relentless passion for supporting your children was incredibly visible during my Crowdfunding campaign for Shelfie. You pushed people to help me and were constantly making sure we hit our goal. I cannot thank you enough for your help. You were incredible. You might read this and say, “Wow. That was brutal.” However, I think we have a lot of similarities so being hard on you, is also being hard on myself. Furthermore, thank you for all of your support and help thus far in life — I am deeply appreciative. I love you.

Dad ❤

Kyle

Growing up we had an incredibly intense brotherly rivalry. We were constantly competing and trying to outperform each other. Until I was about 17 and you were 15, we never really spent a lot of time getting to fully know each other. We played a lot of sports and I would argue we respected one another, but we always wanted to win. The people around us grew accustomed to our activity and we definitely gave Mom and Dad a hard time. Thankfully, I now can call you one of my best friends. You are a great person, are having the time of your life in college with your close friends, and have a good sense of humor. We are still competitive, but we quickly learned that when we are on the same team, it is unlikely we will lose. We are resourceful and through a combination of our skill, we are a force to be reckoned with. I truly enjoy when I receive a text from you about what you want to spend your future doing, or about your crazy invention ideas, or an update about your throwing arms health for baseball, or to state your interest in Human Resource Management. It is especially exciting because as your older brother, I am someone you can trust and feel comfortable going to for advice and to share your thoughts with. Please continue doing this and I genuinely want you to succeed, therefore, I want to act as a resource and help you achieve your goals. It was great having you at my Demo Day in SF during August of 2016. You are afraid of heights and walking the Golden Gate Bridge with me was a proud moment. Never let a fear get in the way of an incredible life experience. I look forward to our continued friendship. I love you.

Little Bro ❤

As a Family

Life is too short for us to not do the things we wish to do. Far too often people become caught up in a daily work routine and are pretending to be happy. In the long-term, people often regret the time they did not speak up, made excuses, or a lack of commitment to their loved ones. Put your health and family first and everything else will fall into place. Your family should be a group of people you can always depend on — blood or not. Also, we need to stop complaining about the small problems in our life. A coffee made wrong, traffic, and being five minutes late are not real problems. Take a look around you. Every day I am reminded by this when walking through the city of San Francisco. There is homelessness everywhere. It deeply saddens me because I alone cannot help each of these individuals. One wrong decision, accidental incident, or something such as medical bills, can put someone on the streets. I listened to a podcast yesterday hosted by Bernie Sanders on the healthcare bill. It scares me how expensive it could be to keep me alive if it is passed. Millions of people will lose their livelihood as a result. These are real problems. We must stop being selfish and focused on our own needs, and exert our energy on enjoying each other’s presence and making the most of our time. We are all guilty of this. I know I certainly am. Now that we are becoming “Adults,” Kyle and I are no longer around as much. We must make the most of our time together. I want to learn more about each of you and have fun. Of course, life is a roller-coaster of emotions and having fun and laughing all the time is nearly impossible. But, we can make an effort to achieving such a feat. The last topic I want to mention is on being relatable. We have entirely different childhoods and are different people. This is fine, but we must find common ground and work to improve one another to fully enjoy life. Furthermore, this is most likely the fundamental issue, along with communication, that is the root of many arguments and misunderstandings. We can solve these problems together. As a family.

A Letter to my Future Self

Taken during a May trip to Yosemite —cheers to traveling and seeing more of the world

Continue working hard, being altruistic, and fighting for what is right. Stop working 70+ hours a week and start spending more time with your family, and focusing on your health. You must form new habits and make use of your time in order to enjoy every day. Each morning you wake up you are granted 86,400 seconds. Every second is valued the same and must not be wasted. Work will always exist, your friends and family will not. Stay focused on your goals, but also on your life. Continue on your lifelong quest for knowledge and learning, while being open-minded to the views of those you converse with, and putting yourself in their shoes. We never completely know what is going on, but we must be empathetic and understanding. Furthermore, continue to love yourself and think about life in the long-term. You are a physical mess from injuries — continue doing yoga, meditating, and allowing time for your body to heal. You do not want to feel the injuries and pain as you age. Continue working to strengthen your mind and respect your thoughts. Your mind is what keeps you going each and every day and without it, you feel lost. Ultimately, keep working to achieve your dreams in order to travel the world with your family and enjoy life to the fullest. I love you.

Challenge: to anyone who read this

  1. Make a list of items you want to accomplish in the next 3 months, year, 5 years, and 10 years.
  2. Eliminate 3 bad habits from your life within 3 months.
  3. Start a new daily routine for at least 30 days.
  4. Face your fears head-on and get over them.
  5. Write down 5 things you are grateful for every day
  6. Start a journal and share your daily feelings.
  7. Download “Collect” and capture at least one photo from every day, with the end goal of a yearly album.
  8. Whenever you become stressed out, take a 10-minute break and relax.
  9. Try something new. Play soccer, meditate, paint, go for a run, learn the piano, challenge a world record — anything.
  10. Live everyday like it is your last. If your life were to end today, did you do everything you wanted to do?

I hope you enjoyed the read and feel free to reach out to me with any comments or feedback: barbatob12@yahoo.com