Finding Happiness

The obligatory “Welcome”

Hello World!

I’m Kristina (with a “K” and not a “C”; never Kris or Tina). On November 22, I was offered a chance to join the team at Automattic, the company behind et al. I accepted almost immediately and decided that I needed to document everything I could. This, is Yet Another Blog!

I applied for the Happiness Engineer position in late July or early August after reading various blogs and watching a few videos about going through the application process and working at Automattic. I love WordPress (the software) and the community that has grown around it but never imagined that I’d be working with Automattic despite seeing the “We’re Hiring” page over fifty-times as I checked out the career pages on the websites of some of my favorite companies.

Yet, after a recent social media consulting contract of mine ended, I found myself in a strange place. My daughter, who we’ve been homeschooling since forever, is now eleven and no longer needs me to hold her hand through all of her schoolwork. My husband is employed in a job he loves, with a pretty impressive company, and I no longer wanted scrounge for independent contractor jobs as I had been for the last nine or ten years. The idea of working as an employee with steady pay and benefits started to look good. But the chance to be a part of the Automattic team was a dream that I did not actually know that I had. Until I applied.

And then I forgot about it because life just took over.

I turned forty on August 30 of this year. Unlike most people my age, I did not feel like it was the end of the world. No tears or sadness marred the day. I spent it doing what I love: thinking and planning. Forty marked a turning point in my life, and I needed to ensure that I moved forward with all the lessons that I had learned and applied them to the life that I was building.

Truth be told, I did feel some sadness. I worried that I had let too much time pass and that I would never feel fulfilled in life. As most mothers do, I worried about the kind of example that I was setting for my daughter and like many coupled people, I worried about the type of spouse, partner, and friend I was to my, well, spouse, partner, and friend.

What I realized was that I was only half-living. I had been too much of one thing and not enough of something else. And I wasn’t willing to continue. I am a mom and a wife, but I am a person- an individual with very real wants and needs outside of those things and I vowed to follow through with the things that I knew would bring me closer to my True North.

So, I set a date and decided that I would publish the first of six zines of my writing. I sat down and created Gather the Wind: Issue 1 with the goal of releasing it on October 15. I attempted to break loose of my perfectionism. And when I did, something beautiful happened. I found that the words came flowing. The design, the layout? It was all falling into place faster than I had ever imagined. By October 5, it was finished, and I distributed it the very next day.

But right before this, I had two interviews with the HR team at Automattic and completed a few test projects that they challenged me to finish. Shortly after, I was invited to join the trial period that could last up to four weeks. I agreed and readied my self to begin at the end of October.

Meanwhile, my Husband, who is my biggest supporter, learned that a co-worker was affiliated with the PHX Zine Fest, and he encouraged me to sign up for a table.  As much as I wanted to say “no,” to remind him that I only had one issue, and to write him off as temporarily devoid of sense, I acquiesced rather quickly, albeit with doubts. And without a second thought (but a lot of second-guesses) I put together a second issue for the fest, which would be less than two weeks away.

The crazy did not stop there. No sooner had I agreed to do the fest, Husband suggested that I also read my poetry in front of an audience the night before the fest. It was a great suggestion- one touched by the gods. Except for one minor issue: anxiety and stage fright. Both severe and neither unrelenting. Two weeks of restless, sleepness, panic-filled nights followed. A friend agreed to read one of my poems on my behalf, but the worry never ceased.

Lo’ and behold, I stepped out on the ledge and looked down while whispering soothing words to myself. After introducing my friend who read beautifully for me, I took to the stage on shaky legs and read through voice cracks and crumbling nerves. It went well, but I was way too nervous to realize that at the time. Riding the adrenaline high, I traded in my social anxiety sewn introverted pants for a borrowed Cloak of Extrovertedness and went to the fest. While there, I was interviewed on a podcast, and I met some fantastic writers.

That was Sunday, October 22. I know this date because, on Monday, October 23, my Happiness Engineer Trial began….

Stay tuned for my next post entitled, “Kristina and Her Trial.”

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