Two years ago today, my boss asked me to come to his office, where he informed me that it was my last day at the company and handed me a check. “It’s not your work,” he said, “it’s just a bad culture fit. We’re moving away from work/life balance and towards career advancement.”
In the next two hours, I packed up my stuff, texted my wife what happened, and made my way home. By the time I arrived, I had gone from angry to scared to ecstatic. I didn’t have to go back to an environment that was toxic and bad for my health, mental and physical. I could choose what happened next.
Here’s what happened.
1. We Remodeled Our Living Room
This was scheduled to happen regardless of whether I was working, but instead of it taking forever, we managed to paint the entire living room, the downstairs bathroom and replace the entire flooring downstairs in just over three weeks.
2. I Started a Business
When I decided to become a programmer, part of the appeal was the flexibility and ability to work for yourself, from anywhere. I took getting
fired laid off as a sign that it was time to live out that dream. I started Karvel Digital January 1st 2013. The first six months was rough, but I was helped a lot by the rock steady support of my sugar mama wife Jess, and by Self Employment Assistance.
3. I Attended the 2013 Presidential Inauguration
Since I didn’t need to ask anyone for time off, I took my sister up on her invitation to fly me and our cousin to see President Obama get sworn in for his last term in office. The weather was a balmy 40 degrees on inauguration day and we were well prepared with hand warmers. The next day was 22 degrees, but we managed to fit in a fair amount of sight seeing despite the chill. And we ate a lot of amazing food.
4. I Battled Some Health Challenges
This wouldn’t normally fall under the heading of ‘awesome’ except that when I think about going through the things I went through while also trapped in an office full of mostly dudes every day, I shudder in horror and am so grateful that I had the ability to work from home full time. and health insurance thanks to Jess.
5. I Got Published
I was invited to contribute to the first ever edition of Model View Culture, which was a great opportunity and honor. Shanley Kane continues to produce and facilitate amazing work critiquing our screwed up tech industry and paying writers to do it, all while enduring heaps of underserved abuse from the mysoginistic tech masses.
6. I Attended and Spoke at the First Ever Lesbians Who Tech Summit in San Francisco
In one day I found out about Lesbians Who Tech, created an Indiegogo campaign to pay for my trip, and got funded in four hours. Leanne Pittsford was so impressed she invited me to give a lightening talk at the event. Later I wrote a recap of the event for Model View Culture.
7. I Started Doing More Public Speaking
Ironically, this is something my old boss had been continually pushing all his employees to do. But until I had the freedom to say what I wanted to say, without the constraints of company approval, I really wasn’t motivated. As I looked around at the things that were happening in the tech industry, I found I had plenty to say about tech culture, code and business.
In the past year and a half I’ve spoken about empathy, WordPress deployment techniques, successful site planning, becoming a better developer, and starting your own business at events like Ignite Portland, Wordcamp Portland, Wordcamp Seattle, Open Source Bridge, Portland WordPress Meetup, Annual Urban Summit, and Madison Ruby. This culminated in being invited to give the keynote at Beyond the Code in Ottawa, ON in September.
8. I Got Invited to the First White House LGTB Summit
Yes, that White House. Once again I didn’t have to ask the boss for permission but I did have to explain to my extremely patient wife why I was traveling to yet another conference while were still living out of boxes three weeks after we moved to a new house. Have I mentioned how supportive she is?
9. I Met Deena Pierott and Started Volunteering with iUrban Teen
With iUrbanTeen Deena is doing for boys of color what Black Girls Code is doing for young girls of color. She received a White House Champion of Change award along with BCG founder Kimberly Bryant. She’s doing great things here in the Northwest and starting to expand her efforts to other cities as well.
10. I Spent Six Weeks Getting Paid to Mentor New Open Source Contributors
Lukas Blakk came to me at the Open Source Bridge conference and asked if I’d like to co-lead the Ascend Project, a program she had been working on putting together for a year. The goal was to explicitly invite traditionally marginalized people into open source and remove the barriers that usually keep them from participating. I was a little hesitant to put my business basically on hold for six weeks, but ultimately couldn’t pass up such a great opportunity.
The program was amazing and a great success. It was also exhausting and I’m still catching up on the rest of my life. I managed to write one blog post so far and you can also read the participants experiences in their own words.
11. I Took Up Running
Between my health troubles and a year of major life transitions, I haven’t been moving as much as I used to. A couple of weeks before Ascend started, I once again fired up my Couch to 5K app and started getting out three times per week. I even got up at 6am two days a week to go for my run, shower and then ride to work.
I always said I used to run but I recovered. I tried doing C25K last year but was too anemic from blood loss to continue. I guess this is my official relapse. Lukas is also a runner so we definitely pushed each other to get our workouts in during our six weeks working together.
When I look back, I can’t believe how much has happened in less than two years. It almost feels like I’m getting away with something, having such a great life. I’m appreciating every opportunity that comes my way and excited about upcoming projects:
- I’ve got a consulting and development project coming up with one of my favorite local companies.
- There’s another session of Ascend Project planned for early next year in New Orleans and I’ll be signing on for another full tour.
- I’ve got plans to write a business book, to be released sometime in 2015.
- On a personal note, we’ve been missing our friends who have moved away to the east coast, so we’re working on plans for an east coast tour in the spring.
- I’m working on getting back to a more regular blogging schedule
- We should probably finish unpacking our house at some point
So the future is looking bright and I’m excited for the opportunities in 2015 and beyond.
- Yes, that is an actual direct quote. ↩
- Having a flight attendant in the family has it’s benefits ↩
- The boss had a ‘mom and pop shop, butts-in-seats mentality completely out of step with the 21st century reality that as long as you have a laptop and an internet connection, it’s perfectly possibly to be productive working from home. It took a lot of work just to convince him to offer work-from-home-fridays. ↩
- Except that one time I met a client at her house and almost ruined one of her white chairs [#rentalcargate](http://kronda.com/health-update#two) style. That was pretty horrific. Except she had been through the exact same thing and was totally understanding. ↩
- 14th in the state in my final year of high school cross country competition ↩
This post is part of the thread: Tech Journey – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.