Affirming Life

11069820_10152814343608811_342165560995261853_nToday was my mom’s birthday, and what a day it would have been! She would have woken up this morning and taken a deep breath with a sigh of relief that she was not only fine, but in a real position to help people — and then she would have gotten to work.

  • She would have reached out to the teacher who is un-learning and re-learning what education means and how it can be accomplished.
  • She would have reached out to the audio engineer and musician to see if they needed any help.
  • She would have hopped on a video chat with some old friends and studied with them.
  • She would have gone for a walk, smelling the fresh flowers now emerging; and enjoying the slight drizzle as an affirmation of life.
  • She would have worked on some lesson plans to help people figure out their own spirituality, and test it out on some of her children.
  • She would have laughed louder at jokes today than she did the day before.
  • She would have reached out to her extrovert friends to give them comfort as they adjust to their new surroundings.
  • She would offer people advice on how to work from home; giving ideas to earn additional income if needed.
  • She would hire someone struggling to do some work that she likely didn’t need done, just to help.
  • She would have texted with parents (single and not) who are having a hard time adjusting to their kids being home.
  • She would have ordered food delivery for anyone in need.
  • She would have sung, outside, at the top of her lungs.

She would have been present, active, thoughtful, heartfelt, and proud of all of us for coming together in such strange times. She would have been an advocate for flexibility and understanding. She would have led the charge of camaraderie in the age of social distancing, and she would have loved every minute of it.

Today was my mom’s birthday, and what a day it would have been!

Preparing for Sabbatical – Five Years with Automattic

I hesitated this year on writing an annual post on my anniversary with Automattic. While it’s true that I love my work and continue to push myself forward, so much of my growth has been internal and making a post to mark a date in time felt somewhat trite.

For me it’s not about what I’ve accomplished while working here or where I’ve been. It has always been about where I’m going. I’ve had a few professional setbacks, but nothing that has kept my spark away, and I’m coming to realize now that my optimism about the future stems from a wonderful gift that I’ll be receiving one month from today.

Every five years at Automattic we get a 2-3 month sabbatical. Yup. Time to recharge, to breathe, to take a step back and take care of all of the things that we’ve put on hold for the past 5 years. I don’t know about you all, but I work hard. I work a lot. I put myself third in the order of my priorities, behind work and family, always.

I’m not saying that’s a good thing, but it is reality.

I’ve scheduled this break for the summer months, which means that I’ll have the summer off, just like a kid. I’ll be around for my family and get to take time for me.

Take time for me. Even writing those words scares me. What happens when all the work stops? What do I do if I’m bored? I won’t have a default work to go to, so how will I spend my time? Is too much time on my own something I can handle?

I started to think about this quite a bit over the last few months, and I’ve come to the realization that if I want to make this break count, I need to do it right. So I’ve been preparing. I’ve been thinking about the fact that I’ve spent the last few decades working myself to the bone. I’ve been thinking about how I eat and my lack of exercise. I’ve been thinking about my need to have an internet connection and a computer that’s always on. I’ve been thinking about how I spend money and what I give priority to in life. I’ve basically been preparing for an existential crisis, and hoping like hell that I can avoid it.

In the grand scheme of things it’s impossible to know how I’m going to react when the time comes, but I absolutely want to be sure that I’ve prepared myself as well as possible. Here are some of the things that I’ve done in anticipation of more free time than I think I’ve ever had:

  • Started a household project list, including the small things like fixing the wobble on the living room ceiling fan
  • Started a project wish-list, like finishing my smart lights project that currently works, but only if you really know how to use it
  • Trying to figure out what Yoga is and how it might fit into my life
  • Eating less and with more purpose. Not really to lose weight, but I’m really sick of feeling sick
  • Going to the doctor. I had a full blood-work panel and now eat fewer eggs. I’ve also had my ongoing appointments to solve an ear problem that I’ve had since I jumped out of a plane in 2008
  • Working on my motorcycle and getting the equipment that I need for long trips
  • Playing more games with my kids and keeping my phone in my pocket more

I don’t know if any of these things will help me with what I’m about to get into, but I do know that they’ve all been missing from my life. The idea of always waiting until I have time to do something now seems so silly, because if I’m always waiting nothing will ever get done.

If there’s one lesson that I hope I learn here it’s how to be true to myself in terms of what I’d like to do with my life. Happiness only exist in moments, it’s not a state of being, but with any luck I can push myself to have more of those moments in my daily life, beyond the sabbatical.

I’m approaching this break with the intention of getting healthy. Mentally healthy. Physically healthy. Emotionally healthy.

I’m so incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to look into myself this way. I’m really, truly, thankful to Automattic for supporting me in this way and incredibly humbled to have have made it to a station in life where I can make it count.


Four years with Automattic

I think it’s safe to say that I’ve found my home. I’m surrounded by people who inspire me, keep me grounded, challenge me, and allow me to be myself. I’m at ease knowing that wherever I land in the world, there’s someone that I can call on.

Today I’ve reached four years with Automattic, which isn’t something that I ever thought that I’d be able to say. I’m still humbled by the opportunity to be here, and amazed by the life that it’s granted me. While work isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, it’s a part of me. Part of my identity. A part that I’m proud of.

I’ve seen a lot of personal growth over the years, which has brought me to leading an international team that spans from Los Angeles to Prague and every timezone in between. I helped to lead WordCamp US through two incredible years, and will continue to work with the new organizing team. I’ve been given countless opportunities to grow and expand myself, and I’m forever grateful.

I’ve seen more of the world than I ever thought possible. Since last March, I’ve been to Sevilla, San Antonio, Vienna, New York, Dublin, Vancouver, Orlando, Iceland, and Las Vegas. Since I started, I’ve traveled 154,967 miles to 43 cities in 13 countries. I’ve been away from home for 274 days. I’ve done everything from hike up an active volcano to riding a motorcycle to the Valley of Fire. Travel, like my work, opens me up in ways that I didn’t know existed and I’m incredibly excited to be able to make more memories.

I’ve built lifelong friendships and achieved lifelong goals with Automattic. And while I know that I will continue to grow and expand myself, I consider myself extremely lucky to have been able to experience all that I have.

In the next year I’d like to take my team to the next level and kill it, 100%. I’d like to grow more and be more open. I’d like to take a look at my weaknesses and make them stronger. I’d like to surprise myself more often, and share in the excitement of watching the company grow. I’d like to be a part of that growth.

Thanks for sticking with me, Automattic. I’m happy to have you along for the ride and I’m glad that we found each other.

Three years with Automattic

Today marks three years working with Automattic, and I still pinch myself every day. I’ve landed in a place where I can be myself, work hard, and constantly be inspired by those around me.

My coworkers hold me up, and hold me accountable. They push me and make me want to be better at everything that I do. I’ve surrounded myself with people who are smarter than me, and its paid off in dividends. Life at Automattic is about moving forward; and not just in the professional sense. I’ve grown so much in my three years here, that it’s sometimes hard to imagine who I was before. What a wonderful adventure this life is.

I’ve accomplished a lot over this past year – not without help – but I’m super-proud of what I have done, and am really excited to see what comes next.

I was the co-lead organizer of WordCamp US, which was just the most amazing experience. Philadelphia really shined, and it was an incredible feeling to be so woven into the fabric of the WordPress community. December 5th was even declared to be WordPress Day, which makes me incredibly proud. We’ll be back here again this year, and I’m really excited about what’s in store.

I traveled quite a bit since last March: New Orleans, Dallas, Sevilla (and other parts of Spain), Amsterdam, New York, Park City, Phoenix, London, Lisbon, Las Vegas, and I’m getting ready for a few more incredible memories. All told, I’ve traveled 112,800 miles since I’ve started. This includes 34 cities in 10 different countries. I’ve been away from home for 184 days.

I’ve become the lead of my own team, which is an amazing experience. Leading a distributed team takes time and practice, and the group that I work with is the best of the best. They make it incredibly easy on me, and I’m lucky to serve them as best I can. I’ve found myself with an incredible group of passionate and talented people, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I’d be lost without them.

After three years, my job has changed quite a bit. It has evolved with me, and is ever-changing. This works incredibly well, and I’ve never once felt bored or unappreciated.

The only word that I have to express my feeling here is gratitude. I’m eternally grateful to Automattic and its people for helping to shape me. For being there for me, and pushing me to do my best work. I’m incredibly grateful to be a part of such a amazing group who makes me laugh, think, cry with empathy, and feel like I’m part of something big. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. These are my people. I’m home; and I couldn’t be more grateful for where I’ve landed.


Register Now for WordCamp US in Philadelphia!

Come join us! News

We’re less than a month away from the inaugural WordCamp US, the largest WordPress conference in the world. Join us in Philadelphia for two days of informative sessions and stimulating conversations with everyone from blogging newbies to the most experienced WordPress developers in the world. WCUS will be on December 4–5 (with Contributor Day on the 6th), in Center City at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

In previous years, WordCamp San Francisco has acted as the official annual WordPress conference, where WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg gives the “State of the Word,” sharing the latest WordPress developments, answering questions from the audience, and offering his thoughts on what’s next for WordPress — and the future of the web. This year’s “State of the Word” will happen at WCUS!

State of the Word at WordCamp SF 2014 Matt Mullenweg at WordCamp SF in 2014. Image by Sheri Bigelow.

The event is packed with two tracks of sessions plus lightning talks…

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WordCamp US in Philadelphia

When Matt Mullenweg announced that the first WordCamp US was looking for a host city, those of us on the WordCamp Philly organizing team jumped at the opportunity to apply. We filled out the application with as much detail as possible, and crossed our fingers.

After some back and forth and much anticipation, we’re happy to announce that Philadelphia has been chosen to host the first-ever WordCamp US!

You can read the details on the announcement post.


Two years with Automattic

Two years ago, today, I started the current adventure of my life. I found a work community that appreciates who I am and the work that I do. I found friends that hold me up, and push me to be better on a daily basis. I found home.

In the last year, I’ve seen quite a few changes in both my life and my work.

I now help to lead our Store Team, and do less user-centric support. I harmonize happiness for 35 incredibly talented, driven, and passionate people. These people keep me up at night thinking about all that is possible. They drive me to push harder and be the best that I can be. These are the people that make the world go round, and I’m so lucky to be of service to them.

I lost the person who understood me most. Automattic held me up and allowed me to take the time that I needed to process and move myself forward. I would be in a very different place if it weren’t for this support. I’m eternally grateful for those who stood by me, and made this life transition as smooth as it could have been.

I started walking. After years of sitting all day, Automattic purchased a tread-desk for me. I now walk about 6 miles each and every workday. I have more energy. More focus. More happiness. Walking every day fixes something that was broken for way too long.

I’ve started to give back more to the community. I became one of the organizers of the Philly WordPress Meetup, and of WordCamp Philly. I’m excited to give back, even a little bit, to the community that has given me so much in life. I’m excited to continue to learn.

I traveled quite a bit to meet my coworkers. Italy, Kauai, New York, New Orleans, Mexico, Charleston, and Park City. In the two years since I’ve been here, I’ve traveled close to 68,000 miles to 26 cities in 7 countries. What an incredible gift.

There are more words than I can possibly write about the gratitude that I feel towards the company that I call home. I have a true sense of community and ownership. I have a true sense of belonging, and I’m just as passionate as the day that I started. I’ve grown up at Automattic and have learned more about myself than I ever thought possible.

Thanks for the amazing two years. Here’s to many more laughs, ah-ha moments, forward movement, late nights, and making the web a better place. Here’s to the future.

Happy birthday, mom

Today is the birthday that you didn’t make it to.

It’s hard to imagine, still, that your body gave out before you were done with it. Your soul. Your being. Your presence. They never gave up. They continue to wrap us with joy and laughter and learning.

Today is March 17, 2015. You would have been 63.

In the seven months since your body left us, we’ve continued to grow. We now know grief. We now know love and bonding and what strength really means. We’re starting to know what it’s like to not have you laughing in the next room. Or this room. We’re starting to let the gaping void heal. The wet wound is drying.

Nothing is getting easier and it’s best for the people around us to ignore our pain. None of us want them to see it because it’s not their burden. Our emotions range from freedom to happiness to soul-crushing desperation. But there’s acceptance. Acceptance keeps us moving forward and our daily lives are just as simple as they ever were. Family comes first. Then work. Then play.

The kids have grown to the point where you might not recognize them. I’m overwhelmed with pride at each corner. Each turn is better than the next. There’s thoughtfulness and tenderness and a wit that is amazingly disarming. These kids are everything that you would have ever wanted them to be. They’re my kids. They are kids that you would have raised. They are who they are because of you.

I’m proud of you, mom. You built an amazing community, incredible family, and a life worth living. You fill me with hope, daily. You remind me about the important things and allow me to step back from the ones that can wait. You’ve taught me to cherish my moments and the people around me. You’ve taught me to live and to enjoy this life. You’ve done well. Your best was the best. I can only hope to be like you one day.

Happy birthday, mom.

May this day be filled with overflowing martinis, damn-good Chinese food, rowdy dancing, abundant laughter, and a few tears. May this day be filled with your eternal light. May this day be filled with your presence and all of the joy that it brings us.

Today is a celebration. Today is the day that you were born. Today, we celebrate your life.

Happy birthday, mom.

Minecraft Birthday

This week my dude turns seven. Seven. I don’t know how it happened and I don’t want to know, but I sure am proud to be his papa.

For his birthday, all he wanted to do was play Minecraft with his friends. I mean, who can blame him? It’s a pretty neat game that becomes more neat as you add people to your realm. So Lu and I decided that we would make it happen. What I didn’t know was to what extent we would make it happen.

What you see here is the work of Lu. I was just a pawn, catering to her every need. Take a look at the images above and note the beauty of her work:

  • Floor to ceiling Enderman
  • Shoot the Creeper game
  • Skeleton Piñata
  • “Make a chest” gift bag, that each kid filled with supplies
  • Snacks galore, each with their own Minecraft sign

Of course, I did have my dad-specific projects as well, which included the “Survival Potion” for the grown-ups and the Game Cave.

The Game Cave was pretty neat to put together. I ran two iMacs and a MacBook Air, as well as some additional monitors in case the stations got crowded.

iMac 1 was the “server,” which was hosting the game on our local network. The MacBook Air served as not only the space for an additional monitor, but allowed me to use AirPlay to mirror the display to the TV up in the living room (via an AppleTV.) This made it so that the grown-ups could watch the game that was taking place in the basement, live. When they decided to battle the Ender Dragon, I saw it as it was happening, and went downstairs to offer my advice.

Overall the day was fantastic. We had a blast and so did the kids.

Last night, while putting The Dude to bed, he wrapped his arms around my neck and said “Thanks, dad.” Mission accomplished.