A Meeting of Minds

My team – minus one who was with us in spirit and in our hearts

September darted right through a pretty pivotal week in the life of me. On September 15, 2019, I celebrated my fifth anniversary of working at Automattic. Little did I know, back in the day, that in five years I’d be celebrating the occasion while attending the Grand Meetup in Orlando, FL, where we merged 808 Automatticians from 72 countries into a hotel and embraced the rare opportunity to live, learn, laugh and share a love of WordPress together. In person.

Back when I was hired there were around 200 of us, and I thought that Grand Meetup was overwhelming. Interestingly, I found this meetup less overwhelming. The sheer number of humans allowed me to acknowledge that there was absolutely no way I could meet everyone so I had the freedom to allow myself to enjoy the company of whoever I was with whenever I was with them without stressing about leaving anyone out. If I couldn’t connect with someone, we agreed to meet in a video call in the future.

We stayed at a lovely hotel in Orlando, and it was brilliantly decorated — Our creed was everywhere!

I will never stop learning. I won’t just work on things that are assigned to me. I know there’s no such thing as a status quo. I will build our business sustainably through passionate and loyal customers. I will never pass up an opportunity to help out a colleague, and I’ll remember the days before I knew everything. I am more motivated by impact than money, and I know that Open Source is one of the most powerful ideas of our generation. I will communicate as much as possible, because it’s the oxygen of a distributed company. I am in a marathon, not a sprint, and no matter how far away the goal is, the only way to get there is by putting one foot in front of another every day. Given time, there is no problem that’s insurmountable.

https://automattic.com/creed/

The staff treated us like royalty, and it was very humbling to see all the amazing people there. My colleagues and the hotel staff. Talk about examples of customer service! Smile and greet others by name? Look them in the eye? Have patience? Listen fully before responding? All noted.

The company lined up incredible speakers who mentally challenged me and sparked a sense of creativity in me. There were embarrassing moments (results of exhaustion and too much people-ing) and moments where I could reach out to reassure others. We had times of intense work and times of relaxing with colleagues.

I tumbled through a gambit of emotions from elation and excitement to depression and homesickness with bits of times where I felt really smart and others when I wondered why I was even hired and how I was worthy to sit in the same room as others. I learned more about our products, tips for supporting others better, how to focus on maximizing my own talents so I can be there for others.

One of the things I love best about this company is how we do come from all over the world. I brought some US stuff for colleagues, and came home with some chocolate from Bolivia, chocolate from New Zealand, spices from Sri Lanka and wine from Portugal. Amazing! One of the best gifts actually came from Peru. My team lead brought the sweetest sweater for my granddaughter:

Again, I am so thankful for this job and experience. I also look forward to working every day, still. I’m going to stop blogging now so I can sign into live chat and start doing some support. 🙂

Breathe and Relax — Get the Most out of Life

Life is too short to step back, breathe and relax. At least that’s what my brain tells me as I take on “just one more” task or commitment. But isn’t it interesting how time actually seems to slow down so we can immerse in truly living when we step back, relax an breathe?

In dance we are encouraged to take two steps in a dance move then pause for two counts–taking the time to think about and learn from what we are actually doing.

In music, the intense beauty in a sound clip is often found in the rest between notes.

What inspires you to step back and breathe? And how did you find it? I found a recent happy place during the crazy schedule we had at our company meetup.

We hit the ground running on a Saturday afternoon. From that moment on, we had opportunities to play, learn, laugh, and work next to comrade-colleagues we only see once or twice a year. Events and sessions kept us active (if we wanted) from about 6am until 2am the next day every day (and some nights went later for some). It’s an exhausting and beautiful time.

Since I am struggling to maintain a healthy weight I was determined to exercise and ward off a repeats of last year’s +7 lbs gained over the amazing week of incredible food choices. Because of this, for the majority of my days at the meetup, no matter how late I was up, I tried to go for a 7-ish am swim. I really missed it and felt off-kilter the days I didn’t do it.

It wasn’t a huge swim (I also went for walks during lunch and in evenings), but I got some laps and treading-water time in. Then came my blissful moments — for about five minutes, I would just float on my back and…

Relax and Breathe

And this was my view as I did so:

Dawn in Florida with birds segmenting the distance between my floating body and the setting moon.

Bliss, right?

Now that I’m home, on a daily basis I find myself back in those moments as I lay in a bed of gently lapping waves, staring at the sky, and listening to my own long breaths as they echoed underwater. As I think of it, I’m filled with tranquility.

I’m going to leave those thoughts there. And in closure, join me in my quest for some peace amidst the chaos of life. I think the impulse of my brain is wrong. We DO have time to breathe and enjoy all we have and refocus. On that note…

breathe in help GIF

Packing and GM Prep

Pride isn’t a super attractive trait. That said, I’m pretty proud of my latest packing feat. It’s always my goal to pack light–usually packing for a week in a single backpack. I went a bit over that this time, but not much. These were the factors I had to incorporate:

Travel for a week in Whistler, Canada. (Passport and paperwork essential.) Temperatures in a high near 70F for half the week, and highs in the mid 40s the other half. Nights in the 30s (and I have to walk to restaurants). And room to bring home extra stuff I accumulate during the week.

Events to pack for:

  • Presenting a flash talk
  • Teaching a short class
  • Attending workshops/classes/meetings
  • Early morning (cold) walks with friends/co-workers.
  • Three hrs mountain biking (rain predicted)
  • An ecology/geology walk
  • A jiujitsu class
  • Two swing dance classes
  • An escape room
  • A party for which we were encouraged to bring neon and sparkly clothing

This took a lot of thought…compounded by the fact that I had to find warmer clothes, which were still in boxes from our move. And I discovered key essentials (such as travel toothpaste) were still safely ensconced at our old house, three hrs away.

But I did it! And I have a bag mostly empty, ready to bring home swag I pick up at the Grand Meetup 🙂

What’s the GM? I work for a distributed company and interact very closely with my co-workers in an online environment, but all 450-ish of us only get to meet face-to-face one time a year. (We have smaller team meetups during the year, but this is the biggie.)

For an entire week we play, bond, pool brain power to make WordPress.com/Jetpack/mobile apps (I wrote this using the WordPress mobile app while I was on the plane yesterday)/etc. better. In short, I get to geek out and collaborate with others like me with no guilt.

It’s exhausting, exhilarating and inspirational. Meeting my co-workers makes me more comfortable working with them online throughout the year, and I love how this team effort helps us help others.

And I’m super happy I got all the traveling stuff in my bag.