Saujani replied to my tweet, and asked me to let her know what my daughter thought of the talk.
So, I watched the talk on Saturday morning with my 7 year old (along with my son). Afterwards, I asked her what she thought about what Saujani said about how important it is to be brave, rather than being perfect, and how the quest for perfection is so self-defeating.
My daughter said she liked the video. I asked her to elaborate, and she commented on this talk has inspired her to try to learn to code again. She said that she stopped trying the first time around because she kept making mistakes.
I noticed this when I introduced her to coding on Code.org last year. She started off really excited to see what she could create after watching me learn front-end web development for most of last year. But she soon gave up when the exercises became trickier and she found herself making mistakes.
Since watching the talk, she’s been asking me when she can get back to learning to code. It also helps that my son has also returned to learning to code after seeing me return to Python (I’ve started at the beginning with Python 3).
Now all I need to do is pick a learning platform for her to learn with. So far, Code.org and Scratch look like good options for her.
I’ve never been a “well, a birthday is just another number” person. To me, each birthday is a special day, an event to celebrate.
I usually celebrate my birthdays with a “Me Day” if the day falls mid-week. Last year I took the day off, watched one of my favourite movies, and went for a photowalk around my city.
Living in interesting times
This year has been an interesting one, to say the least. I’ve been thinking about what to write about it for a couple months and, as I sit here writing this, I’m not entirely sure what to make of it.
I left my job at InboundJunction in March (it didn’t work out for a couple reasons and my contract was terminated), and I’ve been looking for a job since then. I started doing some freelance marketing work around the same time but my main focus has been on my search for a fulltime position.
As I write this, I’ve applied for 148 positions (I have 67 current applications). Many of the companies I’ve approached and interviewed at, are remarkable companies. One thing that has struck me during my job search is just how many amazing opportunities there are here in Israel.
Granted, not all of those companies are my dream employers but those companies are in the distinct minority. Whatever may be going on in the rest of the world, Israel is buzzing.
Code, the Universe and Everything
One of the benefits of the Israeli social net is about 7 months of unemployment benefits to help get you back on your feet. You can’t retire on the monthly payments but they give you some breathing room.
Rather than spending my time watching Netflix in between job applications, interviews, and occasional freelance work, I started learning to code in earnest. I started with HTML (I knew some HTML but my knowledge was patchy), moved on to CSS, and just kept going.
Although I’ve wanted to learn to code for decades (literally), I never really got around to it (aside from developing a proficiency in MultiMarkdown, and picking up a little Python 2.7.x last year). Being unemployed with time on my hands gave me the perfect opportunity.
Learning to code has helped me realise that code creates possibilities. Like Karlie Kloss said, “understanding coding is … like a superpower”. It takes from a place where you wish “someone” made that thing you want, to be able to make it yourself.
My journey that started with <!doctype html> has taken me through a fantastic world where, using a text editor and an Internet connection, you can build amazing things. Here are a few of the languages I’ve learned (in varying degrees):
Shell scripting (I’ve learned to love the command line);
Build tools like gulp, npm scripting, and even a little Webpack and grunt; and
I feel like I’m just getting started. There is far more that I don’t know (and want to learn). And yet each time I write code that does something, it’s thrilling!
My coding journey has consumed me. There is always something to learn, code to improve, and projects to build. My personal writing and photography have taken a back seat (as you may have noticed). At the same time, I’ve gained so much in the process.
For one thing, learning to code opens the door to a whole new line of work for me. Rather than being limited to content marketing, I can explore web development roles too, and everything in between.
One of the huge perks of my protracted job search is being home for most of the year. It’s almost given my wife and I an opportunity switch traditional roles.
She goes to work (as an awesome account manager at mySupermarket) and I take the kids to school, handle much of the housework, manage play-dates and after-school activities.
Being unemployed also made the annual school summer vacation (2 months!) so much easier to handle, logistically, because I was around to take and fetch from holiday camps, and be with the kids when they were just on vacation.
Although the challenges of my job search haven’t always been conducive to recognising the gifts of my current status, the experience of working from home all this time has highlighted what is most important to me.
Rather than never being around due to the demands of an intensive career that keeps me away from home, I’ve been around to watch our kids grow up over the last year.
It’s been a busy period, for sure. I am definitely not the type of person who’ll toss in a load of laundry and veg out till the kids come home. I’m constantly learning more code in between my freelance work, job search, and being here for our kids.
In the meantime, Gina’s career is blooming. She moved into a new account management role a few months ago and is awesome at it. I’m proud of her and of what she’s accomplished. If me being home has given her a little more space to do that, then this is yet another benefit.
So long, and thanks for all the .zsh
Of course, it didn’t escape me that there is something special about this birthday.
While I don’t have all the answers (not even remotely), perhaps being 42 brings a few answers to the questions that I haven’t been able to answer so far.
At the very least, I feel like I have a better grasp on what’s really important, and what isn’t. Regardless of where I may find myself working (hopefully soon), I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had this year to learn, grow (a little), and be more present (mostly).
Ultimately, living in Israel (and in most of the world) generally means that both of us need to earn an income. So, my search continues. I love coding, I’ve had opportunities to interview at some of today’s most exciting companies, and there is still so much more to do.
I don’t know what lies ahead in 2018 but, as I keep reminding myself when I find myself slipping into Regretsville, we only really have the present moment. Sometimes, the moment we are in can be source of boundless opportunities.
It might even hold the answers we seek.
Roughly half of my current job applications are for coding positions. ↩
The result is tweet after tweet of pure inspiration from women in the technology industry. I spent some time reading tweets this morning when I woke up and I found myself smiling because these stories are just awesome.
These women, and others like them, are the perfect response to the odious Damore memo. These stories are also the stories I want both our kids to know, especially our daughter. Heck, these stories inspire me as I learn to code. Here is a selection of some of my favourites:
This is probably one of my favourite favourites
And people feel offended by women who breastfeed in public!
I’ve created a Twitter Moment for the tweets I love the most. You can find that here too (it may be more complete and up to date):