Staying Positive

This has been a rough month at my house, iPhone drop, car problem, death of our family pet, son with a broken arm, and last Thursday, my knee surgery. Through it all – I have to say I feel like I am very fortunate. I have friends who have been very helpful, as well as a supportive and caring family. Thanks to all who have helped out in one way or another! It may not have been easy or fun, but at least I had great people to help along the way. Thank you!

Here is to a better November!

Remembering My Mentor: Alex King

I was very sad to hear that Alex King died a few days ago and have been trying to think about what to say. If you do not know Alex or who he is – he was many things to many people – but to me – he was my mentor. I was an early adopter of WordPress (back before themes and plugins). I started following him (RSS) back in 2002 because he was always creating/sharing snippets and eventually themes/plugins that made WordPress better. I also was one of the first users of his Tasks software which I used religiously – so much so that I would email him with questions/suggestions, and would partake in beta testing new versions. He was also an avid golfer who enjoyed his PING irons like me.

After one email in which I mentioned I wanted to start my own company – much like he did, he offered his support, advice, and even started sending me referrals. I am sure I would not be where I am today without him. He was meticulous with his code and kind with his words. He was always very approachable and always made time for me. He consistently put a lot of thought into his work – so much so that he one time asked for my feedback on possible change options for his email signature. He made sure things were not just done, but done right. He provided guidance to me on many levels – everything from code reviews to business advice.

To me – Alex King will always be the one person in my life that pushed me to get out of my comfort zone, put myself out there, and to do great things. He also taught me that not all ideas/projects will be a success – but to keep trying and never give up. While I am very sad Alex King is no longer on this earth – I am so happy to have made the connection with him 13+ years ago. I will be forever grateful for everything he has done for me and other developers like me. Thank you Alex – for your code, your time, and your inspiration.

#1 Rule for Being Productive

Focus on what is really important.

It is that simple. I was reminded this morning that a lot of people are not very productive and overwhelmed because they fail to focus on what is really important. Instead they waste a lot of time and effort on what is not important.

If you find yourself putting a lot of time and energy into something – ask yourself (sometimes multiple times) – “Is this what is really important?”

Example: people will get stuck in the “you said/I said” cycle and spend hours on that all while complaining that they have no time to do the actual task – they just get stuck talking about it. Know when to stop talking about something and actually do something about it.

The action is what is really important – not over talking about the action. Yes – this means you sometimes need to leave your ego at the door because at the end of the day your ego is never more important than what you actually do/accomplish.

We Are…Resilient

Resilient:

  • able to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens
  • able to return to an original shape after being pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.

A year ago today I was getting ready to fly down to Florida to see my grandmother as we just got some good news that things were starting to look better after a long/hard surgery.

A year ago today I felt like if I could just be with her – I could give her some of my strength and love – and that would be enough to get her through all of this.

A year ago tonight was the first night my mother was able to sleep and not worry about getting “that phone call” in the middle of the night.

A year ago tomorrow – I got “the phone call” that I never wanted to get. I was very close with my grandmother and I could not imagine not talking to her or seeing her ever again. I was absolutely crushed.

The last year has been long and some days have definitely been harder than others and I still miss her every single day. Not being able to share with her everything that is going on in my life/the kids’ lives has been hard – but then small things happen – that make me feel like the luckiest person alive.

My grandmother loved raspberries. Soon after we got back from the funeral – we bought a few raspberry bushes and planted them in the back yard. Every time I ate one from the bushes – I thought of her and it made me smile.

My grandmother was also an amazing cook. I absolutely loved her homemade noodles and blackberry pie. Over the past year I have made both of those a number of times and it makes me so happy that I have her recipes, in her handwriting. Whenever I make them – it makes me feel close to her. It also gives me great joy to see my kids enjoying them just as I did.

Not only an amazing cook – she was also a world class card player and my euchre partner at our annual family reunion. After she died, I did not know how I would ever play again – but I did this past July. Ken and I took home the trophy – which is such an honor in our family.

About two weeks ago I picked up my 3 year old twins at pre-school and while walking back to the car I squeezed his hand…and a few seconds, he squeezed mine back. While I did not realize it as I did it first – it was something she used to do with me when I was little. I almost cried at first – but then I ended up smiling.

These little things give me great comfort. I know her memory will live on and even though I know there are others with me that were not sure how we would go on – we did…and together we are resilient.

I miss you Gaga!

Out of Order: The Amish

I have to admit – I got sucked into watching the show “Out of Order: The Amish“. I will also admit I have always been fascinated by the Amish. Until watching this show – I had nothing but the utmost respect for them. Hardworking, community oriented, etc. While I still appreciate and respect them – I have to say this show has really highlighted some things I have not thought too much about (what it actually means to be shunned, the consequences of being shunned, their religious beliefs/teachings).

While I am trying to keep everything in perspective – it just goes to show that there are two sides of every story. I look forward to going to NY this summer to talk to a family friend that has close Amish friends more about some of my new found questions.

For Grandma Z

When I was little, not much beat going to my Grandma Z’s house and seeing the Cuckoo clock go off every hour. I have been thinking about getting one for my kids for awhile and after a long Friday – I went out and bought an authentic Cuckoo clock made in the Black Forest of Germany. All three kids run to it on the hour to hear/see everything.

On the hour – the Cuckoo bird comes out, the man chops wood, then the people at the top dance around and the water wheel turns. All in all – it is really cool and one of the first things I have ever bought that I thought will make it down multiple generations (hopefully). On top of the enjoyment I get watching the kids get excited – I am also reminded of the same excitement I experienced when I was little.

We Are…A Family

My kids with Joe.

Some people do not understand it, others think I/we are crazy, but losing Joe was hard. He was more than a coach, a public figure, and an educator…he was part of the family.

After watching the Joe Paterno memorial yesterday one thing was made very clear – we the Penn State community are one big family. Sure – we have our problems, but what family – especially such a large family – does not? Seeing everyone together, supporting one and other, and sharing memories about Joe was pretty amazing and finally made me feel a bit more at peace.

A big thanks to the Big Ten Network for airing it!

Does One Person Define an Institution?

Does one person define an institution? You might say yes if thinking about someone like Steve Jobs or Joe Paterno and their legacy. You also might say no if thinking about someone like Jerry Sandusky. For the past few days I cannot help but to feel a bit sad for both the victims in the Jerry Sandusky case (whomever they may be) as well as sad for Penn State as a whole. While Penn State is getting a lot of bad media coverage it frustrates me that the media coverage is all because one person. I just hope the media and everyone else in the world realize that Penn State is more than Jerry Sandusky.

So do I think one person defines an institution? If you were to ask me a month ago I would have said yes – thinking specifically of Joe Paterno and Steve Jobs. After Steve Jobs died and all of this came out about PSU – I have changed my mind. One person can make an impact, but it is the community at whole which defines an institution.