That iconic moment when Forest Gump stops in the middle of nowhere, with a group of acolytes in the distance… he turns to the people who had been following him on his epic journey, and says:
I’m pretty tired… I think I’ll go home now.Forest Gump
This was me last Monday morning. While I wasn’t on a desert southwest road with a group of people following me, just like Forest I had finally got pretty tired and decided to stop running. I drafted an email to my boss and a few other folks in the engineering org at my new/old job and let them know I couldn’t do it anymore.
A zoom meeting followed later in the day. I was crying most of the time. And I lost track of how many times I muttered “I just can’t do it anymore, I’m sorry.” And I am sorry… I feel a great deal of guilt for starting this new role so soon after I had experienced a severe bout of burn out this past spring. I feel really bad for starting to lead a team, and just as we were starting to run in unison, I stopped in my tracks just like Forest and stopped.
Just over fifteen years ago, I went through a very similar experience. I was fresh off a whirlwind bout with burn out from working at Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort here in Bend, Oregon. I had logged three months straight without a day off while implementing a new resort-wide point of sale system.
When I was given the opportunity to take a job at a world-class ( italics for jest ) resort in California – Mammoth Mountain, I jumped at the opportunity, the prestige, the title, and of course the pay raise. Alas, my tank was already empty upon arrival, and I lasted a scant 3 months in that role too.
I gave my notice, felt the same guilt I’m feeling now, and I headed back home to Bend, and really didn’t know what was going to happen next.
I am in a marathon, not a sprintAutomattic Creed
From the ashes of my ski industry career, I chased my new-found love of writing code. I was very fortunate to be mentored by some friends I had met during my time at Mt. Bachelor ( Jeff and Anthony, I still can’t thank you enough for taking a chance on me ), and before long I was starting to write my own custom content management systems for clients around Bend.
In the fifteen years that have lapsed since then, I’ve been a consultant ( so happy that site is still the same ), an entrepreneur, was an early employee at one of Bend’s most successful tech startups, helped sell lots of skateboards and ukuleles online ( oh and outdoor gear too ), and ultimately worked on an amazing ecosystem of open-source software that is used by millions of websites around the world ( including this one ).
The path also led me to remote work – which was a massive game-changer for me. And more importantly it allowed me to be present for some pretty awesome milestones in my life at home. I really thought I would work remotely forever, and likely do so in the software trade.
But the past few years were exceptionally hard. Journeying alongside friends and colleagues around the globe through the pandemic changed the game for me and it expedited my arrival at that moment last Monday where I just couldn’t run in that software race anymore.
And just like Forest, and also just like after realized I couldn’t do it at the ski resorts anymore – my plan is to go home… go home to Bend. Yes I have lived here the past fifteen years, but when you work remotely – a great portion of your love and your energy is being focused elsewhere.
I’m going home, and my only plan is to make sure all my love and energy is directed there for now. I’m certain another passion will lead to another job – or another business being started, but for now I’ll just stop running and enjoy the destination.
I did just get a message from my mom while writing this – asking how I’m doing. I reckon a few other folks out there might be thinking the same thing too. I’m doing okay. It’s hard to reach a point like this, and like I said I’m pretty hard on myself when it comes to feelings like guilt… but I’m getting better with that. Mindfulness and meditation are wonderful things, and that’s helping me navigate.
I’m also pretty stoked to “work” for home. I still think teachers like my amazing partner have the most important job in the world, and I’m loving being able to support Becky more in her day-to-day. And I’ve also noticed that I’ve been able to just me more present with the girls – that is rad.
I’m healthy, loved, and I’m so fortunate and grateful to have a loving home to go to. And of course lots of awesome friends and family at my back too. I’d love to catch up with folks sometime – just not over zoom. No zoom for me for… like a very very long time.
And yes I’m still fishing. That has been a big part of this whole episode. So many lessons learned from that, and I think I have more writing to do on that very topic. Good thing I suddenly have a bit more free time available to write.
Speaking of – I need to go fish. Today will be #565. Thanks for listening. This is me taking care of and being kind to myself, and I hope you can be kind to yourself too.