Highlighted Blog #26 – Annezazu

Another blog from another colleague. I truly have the best colleagues. Just sayin’ :). Anne is a powerhouse nomad who is one of my heroes in life. Her dynamic brilliance is ever focused on making life better for others. Amazing.

My card got declined today while grocery shopping. It was ironic as I have been “home” in San Diego for an extended period of time yet still somehow managed to set off alarm bells with some bot overlord in charge of tracing fraudulent activity. It normally only happens when I’m on the road and forgetful […]

via As close as we can — annezazu

  • For the month of November (the month of Thanksgiving in the United States), I’m sharing some of the blogs I’m thankful for. If you want thankful posts from my own personal day-to-day stuff, check out my Inspired By and Thankful For blog.

Highlighted Blog #24 – Kat’s Thoughts

Often I will curl up on a day off and read through blogs. I particularly love reading a nice long blog post that broadens my world. Kat’s blog is one of my favorites for this. Through her writing, I gain insight into novels and get to armchair travel and learn about the world.

Trois-Pistole is a small town a few hours away north from Montreal. It is located on the shore of the Saint-Laurence river close where it falls into the ocean. Almost everything about the area makes you feel like you are at the seaside – the fresh salty air, the water full of seaweed, the seals […]

via Kayaking In Trois-Pistole — Kat’s Thoughts

* For the month of November (the month of Thanksgiving in the United States), I’m sharing  writing from some of the blogs I’m thankful for. If you want thankful posts from my own personal day-to-day stuff, check out my Inspired By and Thankful For blog.

Routines

Tools for Establishing Routines
animation calm down GIF by Chibird
Oh May it be So

My life is kind of getting away from me – lacking routines. You know the feeling? I bet most can relate. It’s a struggle balancing life, home, family, friends, work, play, faith, exercise, etc. Fortunately, one of the perks of being an Automattic employee is that we get time with a job coach if we want.

My Job Coach

After some video training I browsed through a list of coaches to see who might be a good fit for me based on their backgrounds and their summaries of their points of focus. For a start, I could meet any coach I wanted for a 15-minute video session to see how we interacted. Finally, I picked one to meet with for 10 sessions.

There was one who stood out to me. Sara. She’s a mom who enjoys salsa and who lived in Lisbon. Maybe that’s all what drew me. Plus she is just simply inspiring and focused on establishing peace. We met, and I immediately felt really confident working with her.

Now I’m almost half-way through our sessions, and I have to tell you it’s amazing. I’m not overwhelmed with info from her (she definitely guides me, but at my own pace so I’m not lost in the currents of life). Sara suggests little tweaks that make me so much more productive and helps me see where to focus as I establish routines. She also gives me resources to study to become a better human in general.

So that’s been happening, plus some travel for the company’s meetup, during which I learned soooooooooooo much. After the Grand Meetup (GM), I attended  Rochester WordCamp and learned even more. So many thoughts. So much to write about.

Routines

But first, I had to get organized. ‘cuz I’m like that. I sorted arenas of my life into categories, made myself some new Trello lists (while looking into Asana), updated my calendars, cleaned out my Simplenote lists and updated my tags, and now I’m ready to write, by golly! There’s even a list of thoughts and topics from my last few weeks I want to write about.

Not all of it will be here — some will be on my Inspired by and Thankful For blog, and some will be for internal work documents, and some will be communications with family and friends, but I have scheduled time for daily addressing my own mind-dump needs.

I’m really looking forward to this new routine, and am feeling a bit less scattered already.

Ageism and Automattic

Some of the over-40-year-old workers at Automattic (image taken by my co-workerJen Hooks at our company's Grand Meetup at Whistler).

Some of the over-40-year-old workers at Automattic (image taken by my co-workerJen Hooks at our company's Grand Meetup at Whistler).
Some of the over-40-year-old workers at Automattic (image taken by my co-worker Jen Hooks at our company’s Grand Meetup at Whistler).

About a week ago I read an article on age and the workplace that was a bit chilling. It linked to a study, which shows that in the tech industry

43% of employees worry about losing their job due to their age

The thought was sobering. Downright sad. And scary.

What really gets me about all this is the fact that this is the tech industry we are talking about. While I know computers “became a thing” over a century ago, the people who really got the momentum going for the techie-world we work and thrive in now are now are still alive. This is not a history lesson from some old moldy book. We have the pioneers living right in our midst. Why in the world would we not want to tap into this knowledge?

It reminded me once again of how fortunate I am to be working at Automattic, Inc where we constantly strive to maintain and cultivate an inclusive environment. Inclusivity refers not only to race and gender but also to many other facets of one’s being. This includes age, geographic location, disabilities, etc.

Our company currently has a bit over 600 employees, and over 80 of us are over 40-years-old. I was 42 when I was hired.

Not only do I not fear for my age being a factor in my job, I often feel that my age is considered an asset. Yes, we do have/have had young people working in the company. Brilliant, energetic individuals who might not have experienced their first legal alcoholic drink yet. But we also have people decades older than my current 45 years. We all have something unique to bring to the table, and overall, it helps us provide a better product for our customers and relate in different ways as we offer customer support.

I wish other companies would realize that.

The report suggests ways for companies to become more inclusive in regard to age. Our company not only implemented those suggestions long before my hiring, but it is constantly re-evaluating to make sure all our needs are met.

For example, as a mid-forty-year-old woman, I’m now in the sandwich generation. The company allows me to set my own schedule so I can take time to be with my kids when they are home from college or visiting, and I can also arrange my work days so I have the flexibility to take my mother-in-law to doctor appointments and on errands.

I, myself, have some of the fun health issues that come with age and life-experiences. My arthritic fingers balk at typing and mouse-use at times. The company provides me with the keyboards and special mouse options I need to relieve that pain.

What does the company get in return? Well, for one thing, I’m so grateful for flexibility in schedule that I will happily work overtime if it’s necessary (and sometimes even when it’s not because this job is so wonderful, it’s addicting). I offer life-lessons I have learned from things that have worked or not worked in past experiences. Also, as stated in the study linked above:

Research by David Galenson of the University of Chicago showed that approaches to problem-solving differ between generations, and Galenson found that older people tend to do better at solving thorny, complicated problems due to the deeper levels of understanding they have acquired over the course of their careers.

Good stuff, that. 🙂

Anyway, I just wanted to share this because it’s been in my thoughts this week. And I’m really thankful for my job.

BTW, if you are into tech and/or customer support, we’re hiring (and age won’t be a factor against you 😉 ).

From Snow to the Snows — in June

Our final full day in Utah was spent on the ski/snowboard slopes at Snowbird. Yes, it was June 10. Let me say that again. June 10. And we were at the slopes. Can you feel hear my heart beating faster? Oh the joy of that day!

The altitude got to Chris a bit (on his fourth run of the day), and he was pretty wiped out after a mogul run 🙂

Lauren and I enjoyed the festival below as the guys boarded and skied.

We wrapped up a perfect day by heading back home and having a lovely dinner out. On the way home we saw a mini-cyclone. Since it didn’t seem to hurt anyone, we thought it was pretty cool. Later that evening we were treated to a view of the strawberry moon rising. So beautiful!

Sunday morning was sad. Don’t be fooled by those smiles in the pics. It was super hard saying goodbye to this incredible couple. We miss them so much already. That entire visit was a gift beyond words.

last day together
One last cup of coffee together. Then time to hit the road.

On Sunday, as we drove, I was forced to admit that if I ever do this trip again, I won’t even attempt to work in the car in Wyoming or Nebraska. The Internet was super sketchy–even with Cricket and Verizon hotspots. Thank goodness for good hotel wi-fi’s and a job with flexible work hours!

Sunday night was spent at a hotel in Nebraska — at a hotel that I will be fine never visiting again. Good news though. If you ever forget your key there, you can get into your room in less than half a second with a credit card 🙂

Monday found us spinning the tires towards friends/co-workers in Missouri. While the day started out nice and sunny, it changed. We didn’t experience any of the tornadoes that were appearing around the country that day (for which we were thankful), but driving was a bit tricky at times, and the hail was pretty loud.

bad weather

In the evening we made it to the home of the Jason and Kristen Snow. They are my co-workers, so many of you might have already met them if you have an upgrade and have used the WordPress live chat options. They also have a fabulous blog. They are nomads so we were lucky to catch them home. In fact, they left shortly after we did for their next Grand Adventure. How we love these two and their three dogs!

I’ve been told by many people in my life that they have never seen people like us. We work super hard then we stop on a dime and play hard. It’s all about balance. My co-workers seem to live by this standard as well.

We relaxed for an evening, slept, then all hit our work super hard for a full day. Barely a sound was heard as Chris did his art, I worked on mobile support for WordPress apps, and Jason and Kristen had meetings and worked on live chat and email support. One of their dogs cuddled close to give me moral support, and I loved it.

The company we work for is distributed, so the hundreds of workers at Automattic work all around the world, anywhere there is Internet. That is how I can literally work on the road as Chris drives. As long as I have Internet connection.

We get together with co-workers a few times a year (hence the Lisbon meetup I still haven’t written about, but I will. At least you know I was in Lisbon for that reason by this point if you follow the blog). But it’s a real treat to work alongside co-workers live in a small-group situation. Many peoples’ norm. Our anomaly. And we learn so much from each other. Very fun day.

Once the work time was over, we took the dogs for a walk to a family/dog-friendly brewery in the area. Talk about delightful! It was hard picking the perfect brew so we all got different flavors and shared sips.

I think my favorite story about this place is that they really celebrate mother’s and have a special day for moms every year. But they have that special day after Mother’s Day so there is no conflict with family celebrations. Love that!

One of the Snow’s dogs was interested in watching children play, another was resting, and the third spent its time eeking up on the bench and as close to Jason as possible. This cracked me up so I made an animation (staying away from the word gif on purpose to avoid controversy). Is this the sweetest thing or what?

Dog kiss

Seriously. Just look at the love. Heart melt!

dog love

We spent the evening at a burger joint that still has me salivating. But I forgot to take images. On the walk back home, we humored Chris by going on Rte 66. As the song says:

Well if you ever plan to motor west
Just take my way it’s the highway that’s the best
Get your kicks on Route 66…

The next morning we rose relatively early and went to a fantastic coffee shop before leaving. This place has bands and church services at times, I hear, and it also has the best muffins I have ever eaten. Can’t believe I didn’t take a pic. I’m seriously slacking on my job.

Our plan was to drive to Columbus and spend the night. We drove through some hairy weather again, saw a massive fire (I’m guessing from some of the super-scary lighting we saw), but pushed on through to get to Houghton because our car was making some interesting noises.

Remember how we were worried about its making it through the trip? Yeah. We remembered that, too. We churned into Houghton at 3 am ET after 16 hrs of driving (Chris totally rocks. I was working about 9 hrs of it. He did all the driving). After sleeping a few hrs, we crept off to our home in northern NY. And made it!!!!

Back to Mom, my lack-of-beach, and local rainbows.

Now we are closing the chapter on the out-west trip for the year and starting to plan our next life adventures. Starting with a new-to-us car hunt. Anyone have a Honda Fit and/or Chrysler Town and Country you are trying to get rid of? You know how to reach me…. 😉

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. 

Where Have I Been? See if You Can Tell

It’s a game for you to play if you want.

** Edited to add that Hudi is definitely the winner in the family category, and Tina is the non-family winner. Great job! You all guessed a lot of these! Answers are now in the captions. **

“Never apologize for not posting in a while. It just calls attention to it.” That’s advice I often give bloggers. And I believe it, but I also relate to the guilt they feel as they put up a post after a long absence. And confession is always a good thing after an action that instills guilt. I get it.

For me, this time, I felt overwhelmed by all the things I wanted to post about.  So many experiences and life events I wanted to share. I got some out there, but ran out of time for the rest. So I’m going to do it all in one shot now. Get the images up and move on, feeling caught up.

So I’m going to make it a game. 

According to Google, I have been on 43 trips so far this year. See if you can:

  • Tell where I was
  • For bonus points – name the event 🙂
  • And for SUPER bonus points – feel free to add a story or anecdote from the occasion 😀

Please describe which image you are referring to when you post your answers. 

To make things a bit easier, I only did occasions from mid-April through October.

Ready? Steady? GO!!!!

I will post the answers in captions next week — or as the answers are given if I have time.

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!