The Road Ahead

Forging the road ahead.

2017 hasn’t come fully into focus yet, but already feels like a breath of fresh air. I haven’t really gotten back into the swing of my daily routine(s) yet, but I already feel like the baggage of 2016 has finally slipped free. The road ahead is foggy but highlights are starting to poke through the haze, drawing me forward with curiosity and intent.

I decided to not kid myself this year with the usual New Year’s resolutions. Instead I’m just sticking to the basics, with the goal of leaving this year stronger than I began it. And by doing so, hopefully find the road ahead to more productive paths for personal and professional growth.

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2016 Was Quite the Turbulent Year

2016 - a turbulent year

In retrospect 2016 feels like such a mess- oh, what a glorious disaster this year has been. Not without it’s blindingly bright moments in time, mind you, but an utter disaster year nonetheless. Just over a week ago my company held it’s monthly ‘InDay’, a Friday that all employees are allowed to take off of regular work in order to focus on a particular theme. This last InDay’s theme was ‘reflection’, and ohmygosh looking back on 2016 was a ton of fun for me this year.

(Feel free to walk back my last few posts for broader context on that. I’m gonna shoot from the hip and not crosslink like I usually do.)

As I looked back, sprinkled throughout this year were serious moments where I nearly said ‘okay, fuck this all’. A true WTF year, 2016 was shockingly beautiful in it’s tragic optimism yet absolutely crushing in it’s toll on my emotional and physical well-being and the general state of the world around us.

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Expectations can really suck.

Letting go of expectations

I’ve been living a bit of an experiment with expectations the last few months during my healing process, and it’s become so telling that’s it’s far less of an experiment now and really just a Very Good Thing to be mindful of in general. My experiment really gets down to managing expectations, and/or the lack thereof.

Given tonight’s Supermoon is the biggest in years, ushering in a phase of rebirth and cleansing, I’m gonna focus on what I’ve recently learned about expectations and hopefully get an energetic leg-up this evening.  Let me explain.

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Time to turn that page.

Turn the page

To say the last two years have been strange would be an understatement. Beautiful, tragic, confusing, powerful, humbling, life-changing – all of these words apply equally well, and collectively. Any sense of normalcy took a hard turn in the opposite direction last year.

In some ways, that was all expected. A little over two years ago I very nearly died. In practical terms, I was actually dead for a hot moment. I was out of critical care and back home recovering within a few weeks, but the devastating ripple effects of this experience couldn’t be predicted or prepared for.  And as a result, I didn’t realize what was happening until it was far too late.

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Seriously wrecked

partially OK

It’s been a long time since I’ve had my ass handed to me. Last month I got the comeuppance I’ve been due for quite some time, and it’s been incredibly humbling. I love to mountain bike, and in particular jump and hop said mountain bike around, between, and over obstacles both large and small. The feeling of flight and weightlessness is something I’ve chased since my skydiving days, and frankly, only get to experience when leaping a bike these days. Having been a rider for most of my life, this type of risk is really nothing new or unexpected for me. I’ve been doing it for so long I take my skills for granted, as the feeling of flight, speed and weightlessness are as close as I can come to feeling superhuman.

However, on October 12th of this year I took what was to be a simple, innocuous ride up and back on the coast- which ended in utter disaster. Approaching one of the many ravines I traverse on this trail, I really didn’t feel differently- no sense of foreboding, hesitation or even concern- I’d jumped off this particular ledge so many times that it’s almost become reflexive. A quick bunny hop off the top and I was floating over the edge, slowly rotating my center of gravity to match the angle of the transition 18′ below me. But as time compressed and weightlessness engulfed me, I knew in my gut something was wrong. The bottom of the hill had been churned up from the normal hard-pack and was instead loamy and soft. The angle I took over the edge had me going a few degrees left of my usual line, and despite a last-ditch effort to push my rear wheel out and down to adjust and shift landing weight off my front wheel, it still dug into the soft dirt and washed out just as I flipped my heels to pop the clips and get free of the bike, and everything went wrong. Horribly wrong.

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It’s been a wonderful 12+ years in the Bay Area, but as of July 1st Des, Devin and I are packing up our East Bay house and renting it out, and moving down to Santa Barbara county. Carpinteria in particular, and to a new job at as their developer content marketing manager. My last day at Adobe is June 28th. I’m really going to miss Adobe- and all the wonderful friends and colleagues I’ve made during my oddly-erratic 12 years there (including the Macromedia years).

In some ways it’s not the choice many would have expected- bad time to sell a house, tons of jobs flowing through the Bay Area/Silicon Valley, HTML has never been more pervasive and full of promise than it is today for someone of my background.  The easy path would be to stick with my job and the amazing Dreamweaver team and keep cranking out the hits, or hang out around the Bay as a free agent jumping from startup to startup making a pile of cash but with little personal time to enjoy it.  The decision was a tricky one for me, and my family/quality of life factored in more heavily than ever before.

It really came down to the need for change.  To shed the old skin I’ve been in for the last 12+ years and reinvent my career with a family I adore, in a town we both love, working on a set of challenges I’ve always wanted to, and the right balance of my time to enjoy both.  I’ve been working around and with the same company, products and technology for over a decade and despite the maturity that sustained focus can bring, it also has it’s drawbacks. Whenever you view the same problems through the same lens for so long you run the risk of becoming complacent. Predictable. And I don’t care for either of those traits, honestly. Although I love the Web like an old friend, I’ve slowly come to realize that I needed to do something else entirely.  I love Dreamweaver (and Adobe) like crazy and can’t help feel an almost paternal separation anxiety leaving them after so long at the helm, but it’s time for both of us to fly free.

So here we are.

My managers and closest colleagues are all who’ve known so far, and have been working with me to transition the multi-million dollar business of Dreamweaver, Inc. out of my hands in the next 10 days or so.  I’ve been dreading the infamous ‘Goodbye Email’ to my broader team and colleagues, but that will go out today as well.  Followed by a rush of exit paperwork, legal documents and the like as the door whooshes shut behind me at Adobe’s SF offices and a new rush of realtors, moving vans, renter screening, school hunting, and general busywork required to move a family and 12 years worth of their collected junk 6 hours south so I can hit the ground running on July 23rd, my first day at the offices.

I’ll admit in some ways I’m nervous as hell undertaking such a huge change, but mostly I’m just looking forward to a complete change of environment and challenge, and to work at a company 100% focused on educating and enriching people’s lives and careers in  A privately-held company without shareholder pressure to elevate the stock price quarterly, serving customers with problems that I can help solve with a team that’s sitting in the same room as me and not a distant voice across a Skype or VoIP bridge. And those customers are largely the same ones I’ve been building tools for the last decade or so, old friends who I’ve only been able to help by building better hammers, not elevating the craft of what they do, of who they are.  It’s time for me to focus on that for a while.

And that’s exciting as hell.