Our Lisbon Meetup Begins :)

Since I work for a distributed company, I only get to see my coworkers in person twice a year. Last year my team met up in Durham, and this year it’s Lisbon. Another team is here at the same time, and another team will be coming halfway to the week so I get to see lots of my Automattic buddies. 

There is just something super exciting about knowing that your friends and coworkers are all on planes and trains and busses, heading your way for a week of in-person collaborations, learning and fun.

This picture shows where James and I are hanging out at our co-working office for the week. We are working outdoors as we wait for our teammates to arrive. 

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Fortune Cookie

fortune-cookie

It’s impossible to be perfect. And this fortune cookie note I got reminded me that it’s okay. How reassuring is that message? My immediate reaction was “Hey, this is how I want to be for others” in my role as a Happiness Engineer. Then I remembered that since it was my fortune cookie, this was about me. And I realized that the statement is plain old true. It has been true in the past, is true in my present, and odds are high that it will be true in my future. This makes me feel really fortunate. And it makes me think about the importance of helping people in general.

My job, my marriage and my family are all arenas in which I feel particularly blessed. And this fortune philosophy is a main contributor to why my life is so awesome.

Work? WordPress is a seriously powerful program. Every day I help people with networking issues, SEO, site building, writing-sharing, advertising, account changes, etc. I know a lot and do not feel as if I’m not qualified for my job. That said, I sometimes find myself facing situations in which I don’t have an answer. Every day I’m learning more. But I never feel isolated or backed into a corner where I can’t be helpful thanks to my co-workers.

We all have experience in different arenas. If I have a question about analytics or MX records, then a ping to a co-worker will bring someone with experience in those fields to help me (and I help them where I am strong). No judgement from anyone. Just helpful attitudes (and I’m over two years into this job, so I’m not being idealistic. That’s just the beautiful reality of my work environment). Together, we provide answers to those who come to us for help.

I can help because I am helped.

Family? Again, every family member has a strength, and we work together to create good as a unit. I think back especially to the years I was bed-ridden (rough pregnancies and a few surgeries that laid me flat for long periods of time). My in-laws moved in to help us with parenting and household maintenance (as did my friends and members of our church, who provided meals and childcare until my in-laws arrived). We ran a daycare back then, and my husband became licensed so he could cover for me when I was down. My children were young, but they pitched in to help where they could. This made my healing happen faster, and when I was back on my feet, life was manageable, and I didn’t have to deal with the chaos of backlogged tasks.

Again, I could help others (eventually, after I healed) because others helped me.

Marriage? If anyone knows every single weakness I have, it’s my man. But I am very fortunate in the fact that instead of using those weaknesses to knock me down, Chris takes his own strengths to help me grow in those areas if I’m capable. Or to cover for me if I’m not capable. I try to do the same for him.

So there it is. My fortune reminding me of how fortunate I am. I hope I always remember that and reciprocate.

Favorite Chrome Extensions

I love extensions. Not too many of them, but certain ones that make my life so much easier to deal with. I thought I might share some of my favorites with you in case it makes your life easier as well. And I’d love to hear about some of your favorites (please feel free to share in the comments).

So what is a Chrome extension? It’s a small software program that makes my Chrome browser work better. You can install extensions from the Extensions URL. Here are my current favorites:

Library Extension – This might be my absolute favorite. It has saved me hundreds of dollars, I’m sure. I linked my library accounts to the widget. Now, when I look up a book on Amazon, that extension kicks into action and tells me if the book is available at my library. It even links me to the library site so I can download available e-copies.

F.B.(FluffBusting)Purity – This one cleans up and customizes Facebook, letting me filter out the junk I don’t want to see. Goodby negativity and political yuckness!

Google Voice (by Google) – Love using this as a backup phone number, and my messages get transcribed so I can read them there.

Stylus – Custom themes for any website – If I want to change the look of a site I’m viewing (changing font color or whatever), I make the CSS changes here and worry no more.

Adblock Plus – This one is controversial since I know people make money from the ads on their sites. The good thing is that this extension lets you choose which sites you want to see ads on so you can still support your friends 🙂

Honey – This one automatically finds and applies coupon codes when I shop online. To be honest, it doesn’t usually get me a better deal, but when it does work, it’s super nice.

Tab Snooze –  LOVE this one. When I find a web page that I want to spend more time on at a later date, I can click this and set the time and day I want it to show up on. At the appointed time, it opens up that tab.

How about you? What are some of your favorites?

 

Why yes. This is my Office Today

Office today. Celebrating unseasonably warm temps by camping. #ilovemyjob

Website Design Series

I get to be a college teacher 🙂 Come join Happiness Engineer Sam Hamdy and myself for these two workshops at Jamestown Community College if you happen to be in the area. The address is: 525 Falconer St, Jamestown, NY 14701. You can call 716-376-7506 to reserve a spot.

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What is Ten Minutes?

2010-07-20_Black_windup_alarm_clock_faceThat’s a question that hit me hard about a decade ago. I was a freelance writer, struggling to balance writing time and parenting three young kids. It seemed that whenever I got in a writing flow, I was interrupted. Either that, or I would find I had a few minutes of quiet between events, but felt that wasn’t enough time to get the writing juices flowing.

One day I was clicking through channels and chanced upon a fictional tv show episode about a writer for a late night show (I wish I remembered the name of the show, but I don’t). The writer on the show looked and his watch and said, “I’ve got ten minutes to write!” then he happily scurried out.

What a difference.

My take: I only have ten minutes.

His take: I’ve got ten minutes.

That rocked my world. I started grabbing those ten minutes and had the gratification of seeing my productivity increase exponentially.

I wish I could pass that concept on the the next gen. Don’t sit there waiting for your friends to show up. Get moving! Live the day while it’s bright.

Little things add up to a lot. And it feels really good.

So far the kids don’t appreciate that concept as much as I do, but maybe someday it will sink in. I was in my thirties before it hit me. I’m very thankful for that one line in a single episode of a show I coincidentally watched.

An Email That Changed my Life

IMG_20150109_204843926-MOTIONOne year ago today, I was working night security/gate at the Eastern Traditional Archery Rendezvous when I received an email that changed my life.

It said:

I work on the Happiness team at Automattic and would like to chat
about your recent Happiness Engineer application.

Are you free on Friday, July 25th, 8:30am Eastern time to have a text
chat on Skype?

I had applied months before and by that point had figured it wasn’t my time yet. I’d wait another year and try again. Instead, that email led to an interview, a project, another interview, a trial, and the best job on the planet.

The past year has been a blur, and I’ve learned a ton.

I love how it’s my job to interact with people who use WordPress.

When I work in live chat, I instant message with people who are learning about their sites. When I work on mobile, I get to text to people who use our app. I’m currently working with the Jetpack plugin and learning all sorts of things about network connections, third party plugin integrations and the powerful options we offer people from spam guards to beautiful galleries to math notations.

And then there’s one of my favorite parts of my job. Working in Blogging University.  While I know I’m actually in there to help others, the truth is that I go there for inspiration myself. Each class holds community members who learn together and build friendships. It’s beautiful to be part of this.

I get to travel. I get to meet new people online every day. I now have friends all around the world (as a distributed company we all work from home but interact enough online to become close friends). I get to celebrate the triumphs of WordPress. I learn about struggles people have with WordPress and become part of a solution. People with a thirst for knowledge surround me constantly, and I can set my own hours so I can be with my family.

Who can ask for more? I am truly thankful.

You can read more about my job application process here if you are interested.

Here’s to many more years!