Being Thankful

20 November 2013

We’re quickly moving into that holiday season. My family and I have been amazingly blessed. We have a roof over our heads, we can share meals together, we have kids that make us proud and we love each other. Honestly, every Christmas season, when asked, I can’t think of a single thing that I want because everything that I need is fulfilled.


The only thing that makes me somber during these days is the thought of those whose day to day living is harder. I’ve lived through times like that – days where I told my little boys that we couldn’t rent a movie – I didn’t have the extra $3 to do that. It wasn’t about teaching a lesson or showing the value of money – those $3 had to go towards food. I know the stress that it can cause a family when every day is hard and the thought of doing something special for the holidays is impossible. Those times can occur when people run into unexpected emergencies or make some insanely bad decisions.


My hope is that, if families have the overabundance of love that we have, that we share it with those don’t have it right now. I know of people in the community already that have made decisions that will positively affect others for the rest of their lives. If we could all just do what we can, whether it’s time or money – I still think that it could create a genuine change for those who receive it.


When I was younger, I served with a community service organization for about 10 years. Most of our service was for young women and children, and one of the places that we worked with often was a shelter where women with drug issues were court appointed to spend their time. Most of these women were pregnant and/or had young children with them. Being pregnant with my first at that time, I couldn’t imagine that plus being addicted to drugs. We spent time with them, talking with them, talking about possibilities for the future and playing with the kids that were there. During the time that we served there, we saw many women come and go. A couple of years later, I was having breakfast with a friend. A young women, appearing very professional , came up to me and asked if I remembered her. I didn’t at first, since the change was so great. She told me about how she’d gotten her life back on track, was raising her child and working at a regular workplace. One thing I remember her saying was “We could never understand why you guys would want to come and spend time with us. We knew that you had families and other things that you could be doing, but it always made us feel good that you took time for us”. I know that she made the hard choices and that she did the work to pull herself up. I’m just glad that maybe I could be a small stepping stone or someone that shined a light that showed her a better future. I didn’t spend a dime, I just took the time to listen and have a conversation with someone many people might pass by.


This is the way that I want to express the thanks that I have for everything that I’ve been blessed with. I hope that others do as well.

PASS Summit 2013
After taking a year off, I’m heading back to the PASS Summit in Charlotte. This year will be a little different for me since I’m attending to help represent my company, SQL Sentry. I’m looking forward to seeing some people that I haven’t seen in a couple of years. I’m also looking forward to seeing a bit of Charlotte – SQL Sentry is actually located in Huntersville, close to Charlotte, but I’ve never really been there.

The first year that I went to the Summit in 2009, I went as a regular attendee. I met some people, attended a ton of sessions, went to some evening events, most notably a very late night breakfast on the last day of the Summit where I met Allen Kinsel (Blog/Twitter).

As a result of that meeting, I worked on the Program Committee for the next two years. Working on the Program Committee is great, a ton of work, a smidge of stress, but I had the opportunity to meet so many people including wonderful volunteers. It’s also one of those volunteer experiences where you actually get to see the results of all of your hard work. Unfortunately, since there is still work to do during the Summit, I probably only went to one or two sessions those two years.

This year, I’ll be working at our booth throughout the Summit. I’ll be demo-ing our awesome software, spending time with our team and talking with Summit attendees. We’ll probably also spend a decent amount of time trying to get Kevin (Blog/Twitter) into a kilt. I’m excited to talk with the folks that come to our booth, to let them know how SQL Sentry might help them, but even to pass on some knowledge that I may have gathered during my time as a production DBA. One of the things that I love best about my job is that – the opportunity to help people out. I doubt that I’ll even make one session this year, but I know that, once again, the Summit is going to be a great experience.

Before attending my first Summit, I had read that meeting other database professionals was equal in value to the knowledge that you get from the sessions. Admittedly, I was skeptical. The Summit has a huge number of great sessions by great speakers. That was the reason that I wanted to attend. Now, though, heading into my fourth Summit, where I know that I’m not going to be attending sessions, I’m just as excited as my first Summit. I’m going to have the opportunity to see old friends and meet new people. The learning, while not in a session hall, continues during discussions with other professionals and hearing the challenges that they experience in their jobs.

The word community, as much as it gets passed around, really applies at the Summit. I’m glad to be a part of it and I’m looking forward to participating in this new role. When you have a moment, come by and say hi to me and the rest of our team!

 | Posted by tledwards | Categories: DBAs, Discussion, PASS | Tagged: , , , |

A few days ago, in his blog Goals and Themeword for 2010, Jorge Segarra (Blog - Twitter) tagged Lori and me to write a blog about our goals and theme word for 2010.  While the title of my blog is somewhat sarcastic, it really reflects facing a year that will be full of immense opportunity and challenges as the result of a successful 2009. 

 

In 2010, I face opportunities on all fronts in my life, professional and personal, so here I outline some of those and end with what I feel will have to be my theme word for the year.

 

Professional

On the professional front, 2010 is going to be a year full of many opportunities.  The biggest challenge will be to take full advantage of these opportunities without letting everything else slip.  Here are the major opportunities, as I see them:

  1.  It is starting off with me shifting my focus in my position with my employer from more of a support role (production DBA) to more of a strategic role by leading a team of DBAs and System Architects and striving to make them stronger as a team as they take on what seems to be an impossible list of projects.  As anyone who has made this shift knows, the key to doing it is learning to delegate effectively, however, as most that have made this transition also know, you never get completely out of the support role.  As part of this, I have the unique opportunity to get to mentor someone who has recently shown a great deal of aptitude on our help desk and help mold him into a junior DBA, something I know will be extremely exciting and rewarding to participate in.
  2. As I move out of my DBA comfort zone, I will be required to learn a ton of technologies that my team will be responsible for that I haven’t really had to worry about up to this point.  Some of these technologies (SharePoint, SCOM, PowerShell, SSRS) I find to be extremely exciting opportunities and will be a great chance for me to learn and grow.  Some of the technologies I will be required to learn (i.e., SSIS) are technologies that I have tried to avoid and would rather not deal with, but circumstances dictate that I must and I know they will end up being growth opportunities for me, nonetheless. 
  3. Getting to attend the 2010 SQL PASS Summit.  Unfortunately, I missed the 2009 PASS Summit and, consequently, missed many great opportunities to learn and network.  I have promised myself that this year I am going if I have to beg, borrow or steal (okay, that might be a bit of an overstatement, but you get my point :) ).
  4. Starting a PASS chapter in Tucson, AZ.  This is something that Lori and I talked about for a while and that we are going to be very passionate about in 2010.

 

Of course, this new focus and need to learn these new technologies means a huge investment of time which leads me to my next challenge/opportunity – work/life balance. 

 

Personal

Throughout 2009, one of the biggest things that I never thought I could get right was balancing the needs of my job with the needs of my family.  In 2010, this challenge will become exponentially more difficult.  If 2009 taught me anything it is that I need to go into 2010 with some sort of system or plan to try to make sure that I give my family the time that they deserve while still living up to my work commitments.  This is a challenge that I am still working on cracking.  Some of the personal opportunities and challenges I face in 2010, other than spending more time with my family include:

  1. Dealing with some personal issues of one of our kids as he strives to find out who he is on the way to adulthood.  We have had some challenges with this over the last year and are seeking some supplemental help, but the challenge will be to define and stick to a plan that will help our son become a happy, productive, well-adjusted adult.
  2. Getting more involved in our church.  This has actually been on the list for a while now, but it needs to become a priority.  This is where we lead by example, not only for our church, but for our family as well, and is something that I see as essential for us to get to where we need to be spiritually.  I know that we have been blessed with many great gifts and talents in our family and it is time that we use those to give back.
  3. Continuing to grow the relationships that we have cultivated with our many friends in the SQL Server community.  I have to say that getting to network with the SQL Server community around the world in 2009 via virtual conferences and social media was one of the most unexpected and rewarding professional experiences of 2009 and, probably, my career.    Most people would put this as a professional goal, but as I have interacted with many of you, I see the friendships that are cultivating as much more than professional connections and feel blessed to have been able to have these friendships.
  4. Blogging more.  Again, this could be go either way, professional or personal, but I consider it a personal goal as it isn’t something that is really required by my employer (or something that probably a lot of my coworkers even know I do) and our blogs aren’t always technical in nature.  If you told Lori and me at this point last year that we would we start a blog in 2009 and be syndicated by SQLServerPedia, we would have laughed and said that would be ridiculous because we couldn’t come up with enough to write about that anyone would want to read.  Fortunately, we did get the blog off the ground in the last few months of 2009 and wrote some articles that people had some interest in, so the next challenge for us is to keep putting out content from our professional and personal experiences that, hopefully, people will want to continue to read.  In this way, we can feel like we are contributing something back to the great SQL Server community that has helped us out so much.

 

Theme word

So, all of this leads to my theme word for 2010, management!  In order to have a shot at accomplishing all of these goals, it is going to require management; management of time, priorities, expectations, and resources.  This is going to be probably the biggest challenge that I have faced so far, but if I am successful, the rewards will be great and have an impact on my life and my family that will pay dividends for many years to come.

Here is hoping that all of you have a successful and happy 2010!

PASS Summit Kool Aid

9 November 2009

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the PASS Summit in Seattle.   As I had mentioned in a previous post, I was fairly anxious about attending, because I knew that there were going to be around 2,000 people there and I had met two in person.  Yep, 2 out of 2000.  Let’s just say that I wasn’t worrying about how to fit in time for catching up with those folks.

 

I knew that the PASS Summit would be a great learning opportunity.  I’ve attended Tech-Ed, SQL Server launches and other similar SQL Server events – the learning that occurred at those events was extremely valuable.  In looking at the sessions for the Summit, I knew that it was possible (probable) that my head would explode with newly gained knowledge.  There are plenty of folks that will be blogging about the sessions and all of the excellent speakers – I may be doing that in a future post, but that’s not my focus here.

 

koolaidman
Ohhhh yeeaaaahhhh!

My focus is on the PASS community.  While I already knew that there were helpful, friendly people that were already a part of PASS, I never thought that it would would pervade the entire conference.  I had the opportunity to meet an incredible number of people – those whom I was familiar with through Twitter, blogs or forums and those whose faces and names were new to me.  In every instance, they were accessible and welcoming.  In turn, these experiences encouraged me to go seek out and introduce myself to others.  This was truly a community in the best sense of the word.

 

Tim and I have been talking about getting more involved and have discussed starting a PASS chapter here in Tucson.  The experiences of last week have made me see that this is not only doable, but necessary.  I’ve supped of the PASS kool aid and it was not only yummy, it’s my new favorite drink.

 

I’m looking forward to keeping in touch with the people that I was fortunate enough to meet and becoming more involved in PASS, both locally and virtually.   My hope is to share this community with others and help it to grow.

 

On a more personal note, there were a few individuals that went above and beyond the call of  (professional) duty last week.  I hope that I’ve let you all know personally how much your thoughts and prayers meant.  Tim and I were pleasantly surprised and touched by your willingness to listen and help.  We truly thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

 

On a completely unprofessional note, I was overjoyed to be a part of the karaoke jollification (yeah, it’s a word) on Thursday night.  I was impressed with the singing (and dancing) talents of this crew.  I’m just hoping that there are no incriminating pictures…

I had been thinking of writing a blog post on the SQL Server community for the last couple of weeks.  Seeing Brent Ozar’s blog post “What Community Means to Me” helped me decide to go forward with it.

In my first draft of this post, I went into great detail about the beginning of my career, my quest for meaningful, reliable sources of information and my wish for a view of a larger community.  Unfortunately, I’m trying to get ready for a birthday party, Halloween, soccer games and, oh yes, the PASS Summit.  So that’s another story for another time.

 

When I first signed up to attend the PASS Summit, my hope was that my darling husband would be able to attend with me.  Regardless of what Tim might say, I’m not outgoing enough to walk up and talk with people I’ve never met.  Yet I know that those conversations will probably be the parts that I remember most and best from the Summit.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards for Tim and I’ll be attending solo.   I pictured three days of wandering around, trying to make conversations and going back to the hotel room to eat room service.

 

Enter the happy-happy-joy-joy land that is Twitter.  Tim and I both started using Twitter in April of this year.  It was interesting getting started – kind of like walking into a conference – you all have the same interests, but you don’t know anyone.  Slowly but surely we got involved.  Had some lively IM conversations at the spring SSWUG vConference in the Quest chat room, tried to write a rap song, got involved with PASS Virtual Chapters, started a blog, shared meals with a couple of great DBAs and got the kind of SQL Server advice and help that you can’t pay for.

 

Twitter is obviously not the only method for getting involved with the SQL Server community, but I’ve found it extremely helpful for becoming familiar with other people that do what we do.  By reading tweets and blog posts throughout the day, I’ve picked up tips and tricks as well as become exposed to features and functionality that I might not have been aware of.

 

Now, in addition to attending some excellent sessions, I’m also looking

It's not quite this, but close...

It's not quite this, but close...

forward to meeting a number of people that I’ve ‘met’ through Twitter.   I’ve felt more a part of the SQL Server community in the last six months than the previous 5 1/2 years of working as a DBA.  It’s a great community and I talk about the benefits of being involved any time I can.   I still wish Tim could have come along, but I also know that I won’t be feeling as alone.    Maybe when I’m there, I’ll meet someone who hasn’t yet had the chance to get involved in the community and be able to pass this along to them.

 | Posted by tledwards | Categories: DBAs, Miscellaneous, Personal | Tagged: , , , |

Being a helper

28 September 2009
They looked a little happer than this

They looked a little happer than this

Last Sunday, Tim and I started a four week session helping out the 4th and 5th grade Sunday School class at our church.  Our church prefers that there is more than one adult in each class and we’re switching off every four weeks with another member of the congregation.  Helping out in a Sunday School class is something that we had talked about doing for quite awhile.

 

During the class, the main instructor was in her groove.  She’s been teaching this class for some time and the kids are used to her and the curriculum.  While I know that it was helpful that we were there (at least in the kid wrangling department), I wasn’t sure that we were making that much of a difference.  We sat with the kids, played games with them, sang with them, but pretty much followed the teacher like they did.  I wondered (and I think that Tim did as well), if our being there mattered.

 

Before I go on, let me be clear on something.  We didn’t volunteer to help for the fame or glory or high-fives or whatever else volunteering for a Sunday School class might get you.  We know that it’s our responsibility and our honor to serve.  We’re also fallible humans…

 

In any case, after Sunday School, we went to the church service.  While we were there, I saw a couple of the students from class and they gave me huge, beaming smiles.  That’s when I remembered – the kids don’t measure what you did or how you did it, but that you took the time to be with them.  I thought back to when I went to Sunday School and, although I can’t remember who did what, I do remember the ‘grown-ups’ that participated.  I remembered thinking that it was great that they wanted to help us to learn. 

 

I’m glad that we’re taking part in this class and working with these kids.  The smiles from the kids are perks that you never get at the workplace.

 | Posted by tledwards | Categories: Miscellaneous, Personal | Tagged: , , |

Getting started

11 May 2009
Any stalkers out there better watch out!

Any stalkers out there better watch out!

I was in the car a couple of weeks ago and the Beach Boys song “All Summer Long” came on.  The first verse is “Sittin in my car outside your house” – inspiring my 11 year old son to ask “Is this a song about a stalker?”.  That got me thinking about how much things have changed over the last couple of decades.

It used to be that you learned a skill, found a job and then used those skills to work until you retired.  That’s not the case now.  According to a Department of Labor study , people born in the later baby boom years have an average of 10.8 jobs between the ages of 18-42.  That breaks down to folks putting themselves out into the job market about every 2 1/2 years.  Doing that means keeping your skills up to date and relevant.

This is especially vital in the IT world.  If this is the profession that you choose – then you’ve set yourself up for a lifetime of learning.  As DBAs, we’re fortunate in that we have so many different sources to learn from.  Blogs, forums, newsletters, Twitter, etc. provide more information than any normal person could assimilate.

And that brings us to our blog.  Our hope is that we’ll be able to provide some useful information, bad humor or some combination of the two to other DBAs.   Enjoy and we’ll see you soon

 | Posted by tledwards | Categories: Miscellaneous | Tagged: , , , , |