25 June 2013

Starting Again: A Year in Review

It's June, it's ODTUG time of year and it's New Orleans... Well, that's true for many old friends and colleagues.  I'm still in London writing in the watery sunshine that should be summer.  

ODTUG feels a little like a milestone for me.  It was a conference I always loved and made many good friends over the years.  Two years ago at ODTUG in LA, I announced my departure from Oracle after 19 years and in my blog Updates, News and Beta Software later that year, I said that I'd  "decided to “hang up my boots” and try something new." This entailed taking a two month break and then starting a new job in the City.  It was an interesting switch; still working with the Oracle database, and introducing new graphical software to a new customer base, I joined the craziness that is the rat run into London daily and joined a team in the City. Working in London was great, one can never tire of the view of St.Pauls nor the buzz that you feel when in the City.  
The truth was that I wanted a break, a real break. Like so many, I'd started working from the moment I got my degree and hadn't stopped.  Actually I started working while finishing my degree, so I have 25 years under the belt and really felt I was needed somewhere else. This was a head/heart decision. In my head, the right thing to do was stay in a good job; the economic climate says that, everyone looking for work says that and the job market is just not the place to mess with at the moment. (Besides... as some have pointed out...women over a certain age aren't employable ...! As a Christian, the heart decision was different. The heart decision was to get more involved in my local community, to help others more, to take a step back and let the right thing happen. Besides, I think I have 20 years more work left in me!
So that's what I did:  Just before ODTUG last year, and with the blessing of my manager at Microgen, I took a deep breath and decided to take a year off, with the view to doing those things I'd wanted to do and get involved.  I had no plans,  except to let things evolve and to be back earning money by August 2013. 

If you know me, I'm a frantic list maker and planner, so the lists went off the scale. Needless to say, I have not accomplished all of the hundreds of tasks I'd set out to do, like learning to speak Italian or French or German or even Hindi (one would have been good), but there are a few things I've had fun doing. I should mention that at no point have I been bored, every day is packed (when is there time for work?), but I've never quite shaken the advice from the head and hoping the heart will triumph!   

Things started slowly by paring down the world I live in; plans for buying a new house went by the way, I sold my car and did lots of runs to charity shops and free cycle and even filled a skip!  (Very freeing stuff!) For soul food and revival I went to the Art Academy in London and did a Summer School drawing class, following that with a class working with green wood at the Good Life centre.  This was such fun that I enrolled on a 12 week carpentry course, even more fun and I still have all my fingers.

My other half and I switched to another church,  as part of a Church plant, when our then current church sent a vicar and a small group of the congregation to start a new church in a multi-cultural community.  Here they need "all hands on deck" to get the church and community up and running and we're loving it.  I now read with a group of 6 & 7 year olds, at a local school and am involved in other aspects of the church community.  Bentley, my beautiful mutt, is now approved at a Pets as Therapy Dog, although we have yet to do our first visit.
I have been framing my own photographs for sale on and off for a while and have taken that a step further and now have a shed that you can loosely describe as a workshop, where I'm framing pieces for others.  I love to work with the wood and enjoy making bespoke items to suit the artwork.

Well, short of giving you my life history here, the final step is finding a new job, and one that will fit in with some of the voluntary work I'm involved with.  So, ...I've decided to go it on my own.  Some of the small steps have been taken and I'm working on a website, with help, using Joomla! Is there no getting away from technology? Once that's up and running I'll pop back here and let you know.

If you're reading this while at ODTUG - have fun.  If you're not, stick it in your diary for next year - I can really recommend it, assuming you like technology.

Bye for now