Back to School

Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Louise and Elizabeth on their first day of preschool

Forgive me, reader. It has been nearly a decade since my last blog post. Today represents a day of new beginnings for several important reasons. The most important of all is that my twin daughters start their first day of preschool today. They have formally begun their own lifelong process of learning. I’m so excited for them and the new experiences they’re going to have and the friends they will meet along the way. I’ll admit, however, I’m understandably a bit nervous.

As anyone in my immediate family can tell you, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with school over the years. The best way I can briefly describe my own scholastic achievement is that of someone with great potential who is too easily distracted. The same could be said for my career in web development and even music. On the one hand, I know my girls will be just fine since they have such a strong family support system in place, but on the other hand it’s absolutely terrifying watching my babies enter a world with so many threats and temptations. Yeah, I know they’re only 3-and-a-half, but time certainly isn’t slowing down.

Turning The Page

With those considerations in mind, I’m using this as a jumping off point to hopefully restore my own focus and attention to lifelong learning and creative endeavors. Maybe it’s been the lack of sleep that comes from being a new parent. Maybe it’s the recent onslaught of great nostalgia-laced video games, binge-worthy TV shows on Netflix, and social media networks that are harder than ever to look away from. Maybe it’s all of the above, but one thing I know for sure is that I haven’t been focusing closely enough on improving myself in my technical vocation or my musical avocation and I wish to remedy that.

That’s not to say I’m just posting a confessional today. I believe fatherhood has had a dramatially positive effect on me already. I would do anything for my girls. They are top of mind in every decision I make, my A-Number-One priority no matter how stressful it can be at times. My wife is my rock and inspiration everyday, and the girls are so lucky to have such an attentive and caring mother. She’s a constant reminder that I need to keep my head on straight because they deserve my best. In addition, there are a number of books I’ve read to cope with the chaos and to more stoically approach obstacles. I’ve also recently dropped a good amount of weight and picked up running as my main source of exercise. Gotta keep the numbers on that new smart scale moving in the right direction, especially since I’m not getting any younger.

Career-wise, I’m in a really good spot right now. They say the best time to look for a new job is when you already have one, but I haven’t had a compelling reason to leave Jefferson in seven years and I find the work we do at DICE to be rewarding. However, I’ve also read “Who Moved My Cheese?” and I’m well-aware of the pitfalls of stagnation. After all, the “I” stands for “innovation” and there is constant pressure to deliver on that promise.

What Do I Have To Say?

One of my favorite newsletters comes from the CEO of Thinkster.io, Joe Eames. His writing isn't just industry jargon or an advertisement for the courses his company offers. He often gives advice from the heart that can be applied to any industry or walk of life, such as in this excerpt from his latest email:

What you have to say is unique and different from the stuff anyone else has to say. Even if you're talking about the same subject. You're going to approach the subject differently. You're going to cover a different amount of material than anyone else. You're going to give different examples. You're going to CONNECT with the audience in a different way than anyone else has.

He's addressing one of the main hangups I have whenever it comes time to write documentation, or help train a colleague, or (God forbid) give a presentation in front of an audience. Lack of confidence and a sense that what I have to say (or play) has already been said (or played) better is something I'm always trying to overcome. Consciously I know that I should be contributing, but being the shy kid at school who is afraid to be criticized is a tough habit to break. Full disclosure: Joe's newsletter is one of my motivations for creating this blog.

Going Forward

Maybe someday I'll finish that masters degree. Maybe not. I do certainly intend to continue taking free and paid online courses for specific web technologies and become more of a subject matter expert at work. You can also expect more banjo content as well, as I've found in the past that forcing myself to record and share knowledge is often the best way to reinforce what I'm trying to learn.

I want this to be a place where I can arrange my thoughts cohesively as both a benefit to myself and a benefit to anyone who finds what I have to say useful. As a former colleague once said, it’s good for “one’s own edification” to list accomplishments and discuss what we learn along the way. I want this blog to be a reflection of my own intrinsic motivation to improve my skills in the various fields of study that I find interesting and to advocate for those interests.

At the very least, my intention here is to set a good example for my daughters to use our limited time here on this planet constructively. I hope that you will join me here regularly.