Father’s Day

Today is my first Father’s Day without my dad.

Dad and me at Mom and Dad’s 50th Wedding Anniversary, 2009

I know I never wrote about Dad’s passing. Probably because my Mom had a very serious hospitalization right after the funeral, and by the time we got past that crisis (she’s fine) I think I was still so mentally numb I couldn’t write about it. The set of family pictures we took the morning of the day dad went into the hospital – I still can’t display in the house. Too much grief and sadness fills my heart when I look at them. The last time Dad was Dad before the surgery to put a stent in his heart and dementia ravaged him and took him from this world in less than a month. Yes, his dementia was bad before – but the type of dementia (Lewy Body) he had is greatly affected by any cardiovascular surgery and it really accelerated his decline.

Last year on Father’s Day, I drove to see him in the nursing home. He was so frail and not responsive; I’m not even sure he knew I was there. After that, I went with my sister and Mom out for lunch and I just remember saying that Dad was already gone. His body was still alive, but who he was as a person was already lost. The gruff softie. The man who would tell you a hundred times how to do something, and when you’d say “you’ve told me this already, Dad.” he’d respond with a “well I’m just sayin’.”

I remember a conversation we had at a local pizza place – probably 15-20 years ago because I was living in Iowa at the time (I moved back to MN in 2001). And we were talking about my brother’s death and my accident.

When I was 10 years old, my brother died in a terrible tractor accident down by the river that divided our farmland. He was only 20 years old. A year later, I was in a tractor accident approximately 20 yards from my brother’s – I should have died, but came out of it with a broken arm. What happened there, I have no recollection because I blacked out when the accident started and came to 50 feet away from the wreck walking up the field drive towards the house holding my wrist.

Back to the pizza place. Talking about that, Dad got choked up and with tears in his eyes said “if anything more than that broken arm would have happened to you, I would have sold the farm and moved to town immediately. I couldn’t do it anymore.” Outside of my brother’s funeral, it was the only time I’ve ever seen Dad cry.

It’s weird, but I wasn’t super-close to my dad; I was and always have been a mama’s girl – but he was always there. Always yelling things in the background when I talked to Mom on the phone (like “ASK HER ABOUT MY EMAIL…”). Having to go fix his computer every time I visited the farm. Asking me questions about his ancient cell phone and why it does a certain thing and having to explain that every cell phone is different. Telling me to not unpack the clothes in dressers – to just remove the drawers, move the dresser, then put the drawers back in. Telling me pickled herring would put hair on my chest. Watching him and Mom polka dance. Having me do certain things on the farm because my legs were younger than his. Sharing the same astrological sign (Aquarius – to which he called “Asparagus”). Hearing his stories from the Army. Telling dirty jokes. Talking the ear off of anyone who would come to the farm.

All of that is now just a memory and I still miss him so much.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. <3

Three

Three years ago today, I started working full-time for Automattic.

A lot has happened in three years. I’ve traveled the world. Met some amazing people. Found my enjoyment of public speaking. Moved across the country. Lost a best friend. Discovered my love of the ocean.

It seems like a lifetime ago when I got the job offer – but it also seems like I just started. I get to work on great things, learn new things, and work with the best team of people in the world.

(Shout out to Team Aurora!)

What do the next three years hold? I’m not sure, but I’m excited to find out.

Psst. We’re hiring!

A Day in the Life of an Automattician

A number of my colleagues at Automattic have been writing “A Day in the Life” posts about how they work throughout the day. I took notes of one of my workdays a few weeks ago and am finally writing them up here. ๐Ÿ™‚

mydesk

This is my desk. Yes, I cleaned up a LOT of stuff off of it before I took the photo. It’s not as dark and depressing as it appears in my office.

See?

office2

Ok, fine. It’s a really cloudy day today, so sue me. ๐Ÿ˜›

Now without further ado, a day in my life at work.


7:00a: Get out of bed, shower, brush teeth and get dressed.

7:15a: Grab breakfast and coffee. Start opening all the P2 posts (one of our internal communication tools) I want to read. Iโ€™m up to 40+ tabs open now. Eat while catching up on team chatter in Slack (another internal communication tool).

7:45a: Uh oh – cat barf emergency with Roxy and the daily medicine routine for Pixel.

8:00a: My team chat which normally starts now is pushed back a little bit. Instead, I start reading all the P2 posts I opened in tabs. Have to also deal with another cat barf emergency. ๐Ÿ™

8:20a: Team chat! Normally we do a video chat, but this time we do text only. I am bummed because my hair looks good for a change.

9:15a: Time for a break to relocate from my kitchen table to my office. Spend some quality time with the foam roller to work out some soreness in my legs from the long run I did the day before. Refill beverages.

9:30a: On Fridays, my team doesnโ€™t do any ticket work from morning in our time zone until lunchtime, but instead we work on improving documentation for both internal / external sites. We update screenshots, write new copy, and create new documents if we find something missing. Also had a brief conversation with my husband as he was working remotely today.

9:50a: Finally get working on the docs project. Roxy still is having tummy trouble.

11:15a: Impromptu trip to the vet due to the barfing kitty.

1:00p: I got back from the vet, grabbed my lunch, and went back to work. I don’t normally eat at my desk, but as I was reading through documentation, it wasn’t a big deal to eat my salad and read documentation at the same time.

???: Taking another break to monitor Roxy (she had been dehydrated and got subcutaneous fluids and anti nausea medication) and had a phone call from the vet with test results. It happened pretty fast, so I’m not sure what exact time that all happened.

2:30p: Finish up the documentation projects I started this morning.

2:45p: Start working on some Guided Transfers. This process involves moving a user’s WordPress.com site to their own new self-hosted site. This involves a lot of work with hosts, FTP, and checking to make sure the transfer is seamless for the user.

3:15p: Took a break to return a phone call from my sister.

3:30p: Back to Guided Transfers and helping some of our Happiness Engineer trials in Slack.

5:00p (ish): I’m pretty sure that I ended my day around 5pm. All the Guided Transfers were completed and I had been caught up on all the reading I wanted to do today.


The great thing about working remotely and for a company like Automattic is the flexibility that we’re given to get our work done. There’s no time clock to punch, no “middle management” keeping tabs on your every move, no 8-5 workday. Ironically, I did have an 8-5 workday on this “Day in the Life” – but I also had the flexibility to take my kitty to the vet as soon as I could and there wasn’t an expectation that I would have to “make up” that time I missed.

I have coworkers who don’t even start their day until 10-11am and others that work in 2-3 hour chunks – it’s all what works best for each individual. The benefit of working where you live means you have coworkers around the globe and with the communication tools we use, everything happens all the time – a sort of organized chaos – and time ceases to be the primary focus of being productive. There was a great piece on our CEO Matt Mullenweg on how things work here that explains it much better than I ever could. ๐Ÿ™‚

Are you jealous yet? We are hiring! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Busy Busy.

I’m not one of those people who say “oh god, I’m SOOOO busy!” all the time. I used to, but now I don’t.

What changed? I think a job that I love helps a bit. I work with a bunch of amazing people.

I get the opportunity to see some beautiful locations and work with those amazing people in person.

Swimming in the Atlantic. These conditions are inhumane. Photo by Ryan Cowles.
Swimming in the Atlantic. These conditions are inhumane. Photo by Ryan Cowles.

But that’s not what this post is all about. It’s about properly managing your time.

The amazing Sarah Hatter wrote a post named “Managing your busy-ness” that was brilliant in highlighting the why people find themselves to be “SOOOO busy.” My favorite quote is in the very first paragraph:

Letโ€™s be honest here: You arenโ€™t busy, you are just disorganized and things arenโ€™t a priority to you. Thatโ€™s it. When things become a priority, you want to invest in them properly, and starting with intentional time management is the best way to get out of that faux-busy lifestyle.

She’s so right. We often don’t prioritize our time, so we’re left feeling out of control and that there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done.

I’ll admit, I used to fall in this trap and let the things that are important fall by the wayside because I wasn’t actively managing my time to fit it all in. And it was all so easy to let some things slip by, usually going to the gym or not going to that party a friend was having because I was “too tired” to go. I missed out on a lot of stuff because of it.

It’s like the people who always say they want to exercise, but they “just don’t have time for it.” You always have time for it, you’re just not making it a priority to do it. Taking 30 minutes out of your day to improve your health and well-being? That should be first and foremost!

What I loved about Sarah’s post is that she schedules in her exercise and social time in addition to her work obligations. She makes everything important, and not making social and exercise less important and easy to dismiss if things get “too busy.” Everything counts.

Plus, if everything is in your calendar, there’s no mystery as to what your day will bring. That frees your mind to actually focus on the task at hand and you won’t feel so OMGWTFBBQ!!!1! about everything.

I don’t schedule my exercise, but I’m sure going to do it going forward. Once I’m back from Puerto Rico, that is. ๐Ÿ˜€

How much do you schedule in your day? Everything? Nothing? Somewhere in between?