2018 Automattic Grand Meetup, Orlando, Florida

What a week! From the guest speakers to an advanced development class to meeting new people to Harry Potter world to playing Pokémon to touring Disney Springs, it’s hard to say what was the best part of this year’s Automattic Grand Meetup.

I tried to split my time between my new team and my old team when I wasn’t attending class or various presentations and sessions. These events have gotten so huge that it takes some serious effort to find and hug every person I know over the course of the week, let alone have meaningful conversations.

I made new friends raiding in Pokémon Go, and spent most of my downtime wandering around Disney Springs. I had a great one-on-one with my new squad lead at the Star Wars VR experience, and now I think all one-on-ones should involve shooting Stormtroopers. XD

Automattic arranged a special event dinner at Harry Potter World at Universal Studios mid-week. That in itself was impressive, but the afterparty remained my favorite. Epcot fireworks, the ever-present photo booth, and the Automattician-powered band was a great way to round out the week. Just when you think your colleagues couldn’t get any more brilliant, they get on stage and blow you away with musical talent.

And of course, there are the pictures; my favorite souvenirs:

Gallery

Hawaii, 2017

For those counting, this is my third trip to the most beautiful state in the country. But as lovely as it is, this was a work trip; there was only one dip in the pool, one brief trip to the beach, and a tiny bit of sightseeing. The rest of the time I was head-down with my group, learning the ins and outs of Gutenberg and working on a new theme.

The view and the company made up for the lack of time spent in the wild, though. I don’t use the word lightly when I say I’m blessed to have these opportunities. Thanks for a memorable week, Hawaii!

Automattic Grand Meetup, Whistler, BC

Where's Waldo? Credit to Donncha for the photo.

Where’s Waldo? Credit to Donncha for the photo.

What an amazing week.

I didn’t take as many photos as in past years; I blame Pokémon and soaking in the experience rather than trying to capture it. But my friends and coworkers took lots of photos and I have plenty of memories to share.

I walked a 5k, I got not just one but two tattoos, I saw coyotes and beautiful mountain scenery, and painted my own version of said scenery. The afterparty included tasty drinks and dancing. There were lots of meetings (so many meetings) and lunches and dinners and discussion, and now my head is full and I want to sleep for a week.

Four Years at Automattic

Time flies when you’re having fun, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing at Automattic for the last four years.

I’ve strengthened my programming skills, learned responsive design and development, picked up Sass and Grunt, and tried all sorts of interesting tools. I’ve designed and built themes that are used by thousands of people, and it’s just as humbling to watch those numbers climb now as it was when I first became a Theme Wrangler.

I’ve watched a sunrise off a Hawaiian cliff, eaten a myriad of cuisines, weathered an ice storm in Charleston, discovered a taste for sushi, adopted a puppy, seen a rainbow over the Tuscan countryside, ridden in a helicopter over inactive volcanoes, gone stargazing with my colleagues, mastered the Oxford comma, and gotten a tattoo — to name a few things.

I’ve been present when my family needed me; when my daughter was in the hospital for burns, when my father was sick, when my kids had recitals and concerts. I’ve taken long, rejuvenating vacations and, and I’ve never had to worry about losing my job for balancing career and family. My company has been supportive and encouraging, and as a result…

I’ve been more productive in the past four years than I’ve ever been. I’m constantly being challenged to think in new ways, to try new things, to stretch a little further and not be afraid to fail. My role has continued to evolve in ways I never imagined it would when I first started.

There are hundreds of memories I wouldn’t have and dozens of amazing people I wouldn’t know if it weren’t for this quirky, driven, distributed company.

Thank you, Automattic, for an amazing four years. I can’t wait to see what happens next!