7 years an Automattician

Seven years ago today was my very first day as a full time Automattician. According to our internal stats, there are 91 current employees hired before me, and 1,058 hired after me. I remember when I started that a 5-year anniversary seemed quite unusual and special. My intention was to be around forever, but it was still somehow intimidating to see other people start to rack up anniversaries. And yet, here we are! Seven years on, and going strong.

My life has changed for the better, being an Automattician. I have a healthy work/life balance, I get to do work that I find challenging and rewarding, and I contribute to a company with a mission and creed that mean a lot to me.

I’ve also learned enough to have evolved my mindset. I find myself a more careful and flexible thinker. I have strong processes, loosely held. I appreciate a good routine, and don’t hesitate to revisit and revise it. I also find myself thinking for myself more, rather than blinding accepting or rejecting concepts or ideas — I think I was ok at this to start, but I’ve definitely gotten better. I have also cultivated my “let’s get this toast” side (i.e., “I may not yet have all the details, but I trust you so let’s get moving and we’ll figure it out as we go”), which is fun, freeing, and a really great way to build knowledge fast.

I’ve learned a lot about people, too. Since my trial here I’ve been struck by how you get to know the way a person thinks and decides, long before you know how they talk or walk, or even look (we have since moved to using video chat much more than we used to, so I do have a passing understanding of what people look like at this point). It’s a marvelous atmosphere for basing confidence on merit, on actual action, on fixed results. I’ve also been able to routinely interact with a wide variety of people-types. I live in a small town, in a rural area, so there’s a lot of homogeneity here. At Automattic, I get the benefit of having my own biases challenged and tweaked, so if I can’t remove them, I can be aware of them. I also get the luxury of being able to form friendships (or at the very least cordial working relationships) with many more types of people, in many more types of circumstances than I would if I worked in a traditional office environment. It’s a wonderful thing.

I’ve had the chance (and excuse) to be exposed to some great thinking, both within the company itself, and through things the company offers (including training and our annual GM). I’ve had the opportunity to become more comfortable with large concepts and to accept where the limits of my understanding lie, and not to find those limits as blockers, but a boundary to be explored.

All of which can be exhausting! I’ve also learned to stop, to let things go, and to rest. Rejuvenation is essential to any personal evolution; just like in exercise when you need to take a rest day (even if you feel you could power through), resting your ever-growing mind is also important. Sometimes a change is as good as a rest, and that might mean knowing when to shift focus, or finding a new (harder?) challenge. But sometimes it means turning off your computer and taking the long way home.

Once, seven years felt like a long time. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s gone by in a blink. It’s only the start of my career here. I look forward to the rest of it, whatever it may mean, and whatever I may learn.

Core Happy balloon, the mascot of Happiness

Wiggleworm

Ever since Grant has learned how to escape his crib, any time he wakes up in the night he clambers out and pads up to our room. Sometimes he wakes up while we are still awake and downstairs, and we listen to him thud to the ground and thunder like an elephant down the hallway and up the stairs.

When he arrives, he skirts around the bed to my side and pats me insistently. I sit up and let him crawl in, then shove him further over (because he always chooses the exact center of my pillow to rest his head). The last few nights as I’ve settled back down and fluffed the duvet around us, he’s said “mama? Mom? I love you mom.” And any thought I had of carrying him back to his own bed drifts away as I say “I love you too baby.” He doesn’t let me call him “baby” most of the time, now. He says “I’m not a baby! I’m Grant!” See also “I’m not a lovey! I’m Grant!” But when he’s relieved that he’s sleeping in the big bed, he lets it go.

Of course I regret not taking him back after he drives his sharp little heels into my back repeatedly, but that little “I love you mom” really does wonders for him. And for me.

The shouty mama

Some mornings, everything goes wrong.

“Get your shoes on” the mama said, but no one was listening.

“Where’s your coat?” the mama asked, but no one was looking.

“Do you need a pack lunch today?” the mama said, but no one knew.

The kids, meanwhile, were smiling, laughing, and having fun together.
“Let’s pretend that I’m Harry Potter and you’re Hermione,” said one.
“I want to be Bellatrix,” said the other.
“MAMA I WANT YOGURT,” said the third.

“Are your shoes on?” The mama said, a little bit louder.
“I have mine on!” Said one.
“I can’t find mine,” said another.
“I WANT LITTLE BITES” said the third.

“You can’t be Bellatrix,” said one.
“I want to be Bellatrix and you can’t tell me I can’t be,” said another.
“I WANT BOUNCEY HOUSE TODAY” said the third.

“GET. YOUR. COAT. ON.” Enunciated the mama, a bit louder yet.
“I can’t find it! It might be in my bag,” said one.
“I’m wearing mine!” said another.
“NO COAT! NO! NO COAT!” said the third.

“We only have one lunchable. The other one needs a pack lunch. Who wants the pack lunch?” Asked the mama.
“I want the lunchable! I don’t like pack lunches.” said one.
“I want the lunchable, I hate pack lunches.” Said the other.
“I WANT LUNCHABLE” said the third.

“WHERE ARE YOUR SHOES?” Yelled the mama.
“I’m wearing them!” Said one.
“He’s not letting me be Bellatrix,” said another.
“YOGURT, MAMA” said the third.

“WE NEED TO BE IN THE CAR. WHERE IS YOUR COAT?” Yelled the mama.
“I can’t find it! It might be in my bag, but I can’t find my bag,” said one.
“I’m wearing mine!” said another.
“NO PUFFY COAT! NO PUFFY COAT!” said the third.

“YOUR BAG IS RIGHT THERE, I CAN SEE IT FROM HERE” yelled the mama.
“Oh yeah! I didn’t see it there.” Said one.

“YOU HAVE TO WEAR A COAT, IT’S BELOW FREEZING” yelled the mama.
“NO COAT, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO” said the third.

“ARE YOU STILL NOT WEARING SHOES?” The mama yelled.
“I am Voldemort, if you’re Bellatrix,” said one.
“You can’t be Voldemort! That’s not ok.” Said another.
“SHOES TIGHT, MAMA” said another.

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW? ARE ANY OF YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME? WE HAVE TO BE THERE NOW AND HALF OF YOU DON’T HAVE SHOES ON YOUR FEET? WHERE ARE YOU BOOKBAGS? WHAT IS EVEN GOING ON HERE? I’M LOSING MY MIND!” the mama had a meltdown.

“I am pretty sure my coat is in the car, so I’m ready to go, mom!” Said one.
“He can have the lunchable, and I’ll take the pack lunch. I’ll switch that in our bags myself,” said another.
“I WANT CEREAL MAMA” said the third.

“THANK YOU, I KNOW I’M YELLING A LOT, BUT I’M STRESSED. I’M SORry. Thanks for helping, I’m starting to feel better.” Said the mama.
“I’m a big help,” said one.
“I think you’re a great mom,” said another.
“WHERE’S MY CEREAL” said the third.

Bees buzz

The lighting is bad, because I finished it late and took the photo with artificial light. But I’ve been working on this one on and off since this time last year, and it feels good to finish another (small) painting. This is Winsor & Newton watercolor and Holbein gouache, on Winsor & Newton watercolor stock. I used both a watercolor brush (dipped in water) and a Tombow water brush (which holds the water in a reservoir). Bees on a cone flower.