Sabbatical anxiety and a to-do list

In a weird twist that comes from enjoying my job, I’m having a little anxiety about the whole “not working for three months” thing.

I’ll also admit to a bit of guilt that I have this opportunity at all. To put it in perspective, the last time I took three months off, I had a baby. There was the sense of having “earned it” by virtue of growing another human being in my womb for forty weeks, enduring a painful labor, and slogging through weeks of sleep deprivation.

For this? All I had to do was work at my flexible nine-to-five for five years. From home. In my pajamas. And occasionally travel to places like Italy or Hawaii.

So I’m feeling pressure to be productive, to earn my keep as I join Tim in temporary stay-at-home-ness. I wouldn’t want to waste the time off by, you know, relaxing. Heaven forbid! 😛

(My therapist will hear all about this, at which point she’ll probably roll her eyes and ask where to send the bill for the next six years because we’ve obviously made no progress whatsoever.)

(I’m kidding. She’ll be sweet and understanding and remind me that I’ve earned this time off just as much as I did when I had Gwen or Ellie. She’s a professional, she’ll keep the eye roll to herself. And maybe book a vacation on my tab.)

In the meantime, enter my favorite coping mechanism: list-making! An attempt to organize my thoughts and make some semi-concrete plans for the next twelve weeks.

  • Read 5 books
  • Catch up on fanfic reading
  • Draw 36 things (that’s roughly three things per week)
  • Lake time!
  • Footlocker coffee table project
  • Paint kitchen island w/ chalkboard paint
  • Ceramics painting
  • Girls’ weekend in Portland
  • Visit Halifax
  • Visit Fredericton
  • Visit Quebec City
  • Massachusetts trip to visit friends
  • XF cast at Comic Con (?)
  • 10th wedding anniversary weekend somewhere…?
  • Finish watching Breaking Bad
  • Meditate every damn day
  • Refresh my long-lost French with Duolingo
  • Various house projects that have gone ignored for many months
😃+

Theme Team in Montréal, Quebec 2017

What a week! Last week, my team met in Montréal to work on projects and planning.

Since it’s fairly close, I rented a minivan and drove the 7+ hours to Montréal. My first meetup road trip! Huzzah! After a brief and unexpected pit stop at the border for some paperwork (harrowing but successful), I was off. There was a lot of Tim Hortons coffee and a Stephen King audiobook involved, and I spent a fair amount of time arguing with Google Maps.

We stayed at a cute boutique hotel downtown, where we could walk to most places. When we couldn’t walk, I also drove the group around, which was an experience. I managed to shatter the right-hand rearview mirror on a narrow detour at night, but I also parallel parked almost perfectly one time, so I figure I broke even (pun intended).

I spent most of my work talking with my teammates in 1-1’s and feedback sessions. We also found out that there are some major changes happening in our division — namely, the dissolution of our division! Thankfully our team is still together, but the announcement gave me pause. I’m also stepping down as team lead when I come back from my leave; it’s bittersweet. I’m still struggling with pre-sabbatical FOMO and anxiety, but I’m sure that will resolve itself as I find other things to occupy my time.

We had a lot of fun in the city, though, braving the cold and rainy weather to go out to eat and activities. There was a storytelling show, a lively ceramics painting session, a tour of the local marketplaces, a craft fair, and a fun group game of Codenames to top off the week.

The trip home was “eventful”. At one point I was stopped at the Quebec/New Brunswick border for a random police check and asked if I had any alcohol, tobacco, or dead bodies in the vehicle. I’m still not sure if he was being serious about that last one…

I also came thisclose to running out of gas in an area with no cell reception and few gas stations; that was exciting, but I made it with 4 miles to spare. Rural NB is no joke!

I’m glad I got to see most of my team one more time before I leave for the majority of the summer. I have no idea what I’ll come back to, but I know it will be positive. Thanks for a great meetup, team!

😃+

Five Years at Automattic

Yes, my current job title is “Theme Mama”.

It’s pretty hard to believe it’s been five years since I wrote this post announcing my start with Automattic.

In many respects, I feel like I’m still new, still learning the ropes. It’s rare that I look at my work as a “grind”; it’s a challenge, and there are definitely times when it’s more stressful than others, but most days I wake up, don my work outfit (ahem sweatpants), and face the day with excitement.

The company has grown so much since I first joined (to the tune of about 380+ people!) but I still feel particularly close to my team, and for that reason I’ve been sheltered from many of the “growing pains” that come from a company’s rapid development from startup to bigger business. It’s not always easy, but we keep it light, and keep on keeping on.

Every five years, Automatticians have the option to take a 2-3 month sabbatical, which is what I’m doing in a couple weeks! It’s a great benefit, and one of the many reasons I love working here, but I can’t help but think of how much I’ll miss the people I work with, and how weird it will be not to think about my job for several weeks.

Here’s to the next five years! 🙂

😃+