Monthly Archive: April 2015

Moving Ahead

I dealt with my fears from last week by taking action. I did what I needed to do and got back to work. I hope never to repeat the dream I had last Friday night, though I accept my subconscious may feel differently.

I also allowed myself to be vulnerable on the blog. In the past, I’ve shied away from that. But if this is really going to be a record of my time, it shouldn’t be “all good, all the time.” It should reflect what I’m feeling and thinking, as much as possible, within the scope of things I write about here. It was scary to write those posts, but the story wouldn’t be complete without them.

On the lighter side, I started booking spring travel (several conferences lined up, both presenting and attending) and also booked a place in Iceland during winter, so I can see the Northern Lights. I’ve wanted to do this for decades, so I’m thrilled to have it on the calendar.

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Fighting History

One of my major regrets is that I didn’t start a business in 2002. To be more accurate, I did start a business. I had an idea, built a prototype, went to SCORE mentor meetings, met with a great lawyer and filed paperwork. My site was getting visitors, I was getting emails from those visitors, and initial feedback was outstanding. My family, instead of being supportive, expressed concerns. Worry. Doubt. I felt their doubts creep into my head and take root. I got scared. Maybe they were right. What was I doing? I unwound all the work I’d done and put my head back down to blend in with the crowd.

I never forgot what my lawyer said when I called him to dissolve the corporation:

“If you spent as much time working on your business as you spend worrying, you’d already have revenue.”

I was young. I was far less mature than I am now. And I don’t blame my family; I blame my own reaction to what they said. I didn’t want it badly enough. I didn’t know what I wanted.

For the next 12 years, I wished I’d started the company.

This week was tough because it echoed history. I shared some good news and got back anxiety. Worry. I know it wasn’t intentional; in fact, my family has been incredibly supportive of my efforts this time around. But nonetheless, I spent the end of the week replaying my worries, reminding myself why this time would be different. Fighting my own shadows. It’s not a feeling I’m used to anymore, and not one I enjoy.

I didn’t give in. I’m different than I was. I’ve defeated far worse than some unformed doubts, and I know that the regret of never trying is more powerful than fear.

But I could use a spa. And chocolate. Possibly some flower petals and essential oils.

Existential Roller Coaster

This week I’m riding an existential roller coaster. One day I feel great, the sun is shining, response to my stories and ideas is sizzling, compliments flow. I feel loved, at peace, my arteries unwind, my heart beats steady and I know why I’m here.

Another day I feel disconnected, bombarded by worries over shadows and trapped in my own mind, struggling to make forward progress. Wondering why I’m doing this. Feeling alone.

I knew I would feel this way sometimes when I began this journey. I was prepared for down days and fears, and I don’t let them dissuade me like I once did. This is progress. I used to live in fear.

But I tried living in fear and it does not work for me. It’s like creating a defensive sphere where days are only ever perfectly pleasant: a hazy blue sky, a light breeze, an occasional shower. No gusts of wind, no hailstorms, no lightning challenging anything; but also no brilliant sunsets, no rainbows, no breathtaking views.

I prefer life outside of the sphere. I have time to enjoy life and explore it. This is a blessing. Most days I’m thankful, ready for adventures and the good and bad they bring with them.

When gray days get me down, it’s hard. It’s hard to stay focused on doing good for others and making useful contributions to the world. It’s also hard to enjoy each moment, even though I know each one is valuable and each person I care about is priceless.

It’s a tough balance. It’s a practice, an exercise, waiting for the next sunrise.

But it’s worth it.

The Flow and the Ebb

I loved SXSW. I sat up-front center for as many sessions as possible. I introduced myself instead of vanishing after each session. And my presentation at the TechBreakfast there went great: I talked with dozens of potential users, validated my product idea, and met amazing people who I want to know for many years. I also allowed myself to enjoy serendipity. I kept returning to a Peruvian food truck because every time I went there, I met someone interesting.

Back in the NYC area, I’m completing a new course on GitHub basics and writing an intermediate course on GitHub gymnastics. I continue to sell my first course on programming concepts for true beginners. I’m speaking at a security conference in May on a topic related to my master’s thesis, and then plan to transform the thesis and the talk into courses as well. I’m continuing to build out my software, focusing on the open-source plugin and adding features requested by potential users.

And I keep doing things that scare me. My mission statement is to say YES when I’m scared and see what happens. So far I feel right about everything, even though I also feel uncertain about where the edge lies or what awaits me there. I remind myself that no one ever really knows what they’re doing, and as long as I’m adding value I’m doing okay.