I thought I'd take some time to reflect back on the last year and share some highlights:
Undoubtedly the biggest change for me in 2015 was becoming a parent.
Friends, there is a miniature human being living in my house now.
There are many things about that experience I could go on about -- the adoption process, being in the delivery room for her birth, the incredible support and help we received from our friends and family, figuring out how to care for a new person and getting some sleep along the way, watching my wife become a wonderful mom and navigating a huge change in our life together, implications for our home automation setup, and much more -- and I'll try to blog about all of that as I can. For now I can say that being a father has been magnificent.
I didn't travel this year nearly as much as I did in 2014 but I still had some fun trips, including visits to:
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- St. Louis, Illinois
- Asheville, North Carolina (where we lived for most of a month)
- Nashville, Tennessee
- Washington, D.C.
- Chicago, Illinois
- Park City, Utah
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Westminster, Maryland
Coordinating travel with a newborn in our lives is very different than days past. I still enjoy it and I'm hopeful that I'll continue it as much as is reasonable, especially since spending time with my co-workers in person is, for me, a vital part of distributed work. Kelly and I are also committed to making sure A. sees a lot of different parts of the world, so I'm looking forward to doing more of that travel together.
It's been over a year and a half since I joined Automattic and I'm still working on the VIP Team there, where we provide services to some of the most high-profile, high-traffic WordPress sites on the web. Sometimes I still can't believe what a good intersection it is of all my different interests - web technologies, politics/journalism/media, excellence in customer service, thinking about organizational dynamics and development, etc. While I still regularly find myself challenged and stretched in almost all good ways, I'm also glad to say that I've found a sense of rhythm and place within the company that wasn't really there this time a year ago, and that's been a welcome change.
And then there are just the things about this particular organization that amaze me: getting to work with some of the most competent and interesting people I've met in my professional life, being a part of the machinations of a billion-dollar company that is growing and redefining work as we know it, constantly pushing ourselves to find the best way over the easy way. It's also a place of generosity; the company is generous to its employees (e.g. 6 weeks of paid paternity leave were so valuable to me this year), and the people who work there are generous to each other.
Automattic is hiring, by the way.
Even with all of the things about Automattic and my role there that I enjoy and appreciate, I still find myself thinking regularly about that question, "what do I want to do with my life?" I wrestle with my inertia, strong sense of loyalty, the seductiveness of the familiar, and a self-imposed pressure to do the exceptional. I have the occasional deep itch to create something new, to work on something completely unrelated to web technologies, to throw myself into uncharted territory.
I'm not really an impulsive person - probably good for the people in my life who benefit from my relative stability - but I hope to do more thinking and writing in 2016 about matters of vocation and understanding what it is I am best suited to contribute to the world, so that I can operate with even more clarity and focus in my professional life. Because, YOLO.
Around the same time of A.'s birth, we were thrilled to learn that my sister is engaged to marry, so it was an extra happy time! We're looking forward to celebrating their union and the expansion of our family later this year.
As she's faced some new health challenges, my mom has continued to demonstrate an incredible perseverance in the face of adversity. We're hopeful that the treatment she is pursuing will get her to a place of health and comfort so that she can enjoy her retirement and life as a grandmother even more.
We were very thankful that my mother-in-law had a successful surgery and recovery.
In my own attempts to stay healthy I was disappointed that my once stable exercise routine kind of fell apart, especially after becoming a parent. I've got a new plan in place now, and while it involves a little more complexity and ridiculous gadgetry in my life (more details soon), I'm hopeful that it will be sustainable.
On October 15th a dear friend, Tracy Primozich, passed away unexpectedly. Tracy was someone whose life and spirit was always a joy to me, and Kelly and I treasure the times we got to spend with her over the years. We've been grieving the loss of her presence in the world, and holding her husband Tony along with the rest of Tracy's family in our thoughts and prayers as they goes through a deeply painful time.
My local community involvement has continued, though I intentionally scaled it back for now knowing that parenting would become a big part of how I spend time. In 2015 I finished up my time as Board Chair at the Wayne County Foundation, and in 2016 my final term on the Board will end. I also concluded my second and final term on the Earlham College Alumni Council.
People kindly asked me if I was going to run for Mayor or some other local office in the 2015 elections, but I decided pretty early on that it wasn't the best way for me to help Richmond right now. I was so pleased that a candidate I could happily support stepped up to the plate, and it was a privilege to help get him elected. Attending Dave Snow's inauguration was a great way to spend New Year's Eve:
— Chris Hardie (@ChrisHardie) January 1, 2016
This year has been a whirlwind. Life has changed incredibly, and in many ways I'm barely keeping up with it. At the same time, I feel so fortunate for all of the good that it has brought, and the good people I've shared it with.
Here's to a 2016 full of joy met with gratitude, challenges met with courage and possibilities met with clarity.