I was tagged by TJay Belt (Twitter/Blog) in this latest series of blog stories.  I believe that it was started by Paul Randal (Twitter/Blog), carried on by Tom LaRock (Twitter/Blog) and then went viral.  Since ‘New Year’ seems to be synonymous with ‘everything going to heck in a handbasket’, it’s taken me awhile to respond, but here goes.

 

I’ll start by saying that if anyone would have told me that I’d be a DBA (or anything computer related for that matter)

You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?

You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?

when I was in college, I would have fallen down laughing.    My step-father was a biomechanical engineer and one of my main goals in life was not to be a geek like I thought he was.  I majored in Communications with a minor in English.   At the time of my

graduation I had never touched a computer or even wanted to.  So, how did I get to be a DBA?  Sheer coincidence.

 

IBM

Back in my kid-free days, I worked for IBM.  I actually had to use a computer (odd for me), but my responsibilities were working with IBM’s resellers and the maintenance plans they resold.  It was all about soft skills and I spent a ton of time on the phone with resellers.  All of the information that we gathered was stored in a(wait for it…) DB2 database.   After awhile, I took on the responsibility for putting together reports.  While there was definitely no administration going on, it was kind of fascinating to play with all of that data.  That all stopped, though, for my next life changing event.

 

And they looked so sweet...

And they looked so sweet...

Kids

I left my job at IBM just before I gave birth to my first child and became a stay-at-home mom.  Around the time my

 second child was born, I started to feel the desire to go back to school.  The odd thing is that the field that I was drawn to was computer science.  I’m not sure if it was due to some strange chemical imbalance or the need to spend time with something that actually had logic behind it, but I began my computer science degree shortly after my youngest son turned one. 

Going back to school with two little ones running around was definitely a challenge.  Getting to the end of an 800 line assembly language project and have my son smack his hand on the keyboard deleting it, helped me learn the value of saving and saving often.  I’m sure that trying to learn recursion while dealing with a cranky toddler helped my ability to persevere.   Eventually, though.  I completed the program and became a computer science instructor.  Teaching was and is still the field that provides me with the greatest amount of satisfaction.  I enjoyed it immensely and felt that I was good at it.  Unfortunately, though, by that time I was a single mother of two boys and job satisfaction doesn’t exactly pay the bills.

 

My first *real* job

After leaving my teaching position at the college, I was able to get a job teaching the medical staff at our local hospital the new order entry/documentation application.   I knew that this had to be temporary and that I needed to become a part of a more technical division.  During the process of keeping our training environment up to date, I ended up interfacing with our DBA group on a regular basis.  One of the DBAs left and that provided me the opportunity to join the team.   Our lead DBA was pure awesomeness and provided me with a good solid platform of knowledge.  That was back in 2003, completed my MCDBA in 2005 and the rest is, well, the rest is now.    Still working, still learning.

 

It was a crazy, twisted road to get here and I’m looking forward to the road ahead.  I’m not tagging anyone with this, but I’m thankful to TJay for giving me the chance to share my story.

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!

The gifts we have already

14 December 2009

Christmas is less than two weeks away, but, for me, it’s Christmas all year long.   I’d like to take this opportunity to give thanks for all of the gifts that I’ve received.  They weren’t wrapped in shiny paper and, typicially, weren’t under a tree, but they were gifts nonetheless and far more valuable than anything that I might unwrap.

 

My family – I love my family.  I was watching our two youngest decorate the tree this weekend, with holiday music playing in the background, and was awestruck with how fortunate I am.  It’s not always easy and usually not perfect, but I am thankful for them every day.   My hope is that I can be a good wife, mother and daughter and never take them for granted.

 

My husband – I know that he’s included in the family part above, but he deserves an extra thank you for any number of reasons.  Before we met, if someone had asked me to describe my perfect partner,  that description would have paled when compared with Tim.  I was watching Mike Walsh’s interview with Brent Ozar about blogging.  They were talking about the SQL Server community and how important it is because most people can’t go home to their partner and bounce work issues off of them.  How lucky I am that I can!  But even if I stopped being a DBA tomorrow, Tim would still be the best partner I could ever imagine.

 

Grandmothers – Also typically lumped in with the family group, but I needed to give grandmothers their own space.  Tim and I both lost our maternal grandmothers this year and, for both of us, they were the last of our grandparents.  We’re both thankful that we had all of this time with them and that our children had the opportunity to get to know their great-grandmothers.  I hope someday to be as good of a grandmother as they were.

 

Employment – I have to admit that I’m not always as thankful for my job as I should be.  Especially with the current economic environment, I need to be grateful that I have a job where I get to do what I enjoy.  This position has given me many opportunities to become a better DBA and I’m grateful.   They also provided the opportunity to attend the PASS Summit which was definitely one of the highlights of this year.

 

SQL Server Community – Hopefully you’ve had an opportunity to read some of my other posts on the SQL Server community.  Tim and I are continually amazed by true sense of community that has been fostered by so many SQL Server professionals.   I’m indebted to many of you for all of the learning and support that you’ve provided to me this year.   I feel fortunate that I was able to meet so many of you in person at the PASS Summit.   My wish for next year is that Tim can take part as well.

 

My faith – I have no doubt that all of the gifts that I’ve mentioned above and all of the gifts that were not mentioned were given to me by God.  Without my faith, I would not only be without many of these gifts, but I would not have the capacity to value them as much as I do.   On my own, I am definitely not worthy of everything that I have, but I am blessed each and every day.  I recognize this and give thanks for it.

 

I hope that all of you have a wonderful holiday season.holly

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

This weekend, one of my co-workers passed away.  He was 33 years old with a wife and toddler at home and a baby on the way.  I didn’t know him well, but we had worked together on a few projects and he was always very knowledgeable, thorough and helpful.  His passing was very unexpected and, as these things do, it caused me to think about my own life and my priorities.

 

Like many DBAs, the servers that Tim and I manage need to be available 24/7.  Tim is on call every third week, but being a lead, he often needs to step in on weeks that he isn’t on call.  I’m the sole DBA at my company.  We’re both proud of being dedicated professionals and we work hard to keep our current systems available as well as keeping our skills updated so that we can provide the best solutions possible.  I firmly believe that we’re setting a good example for our children in showing them the responsibility that we take in our positions.

 

The problem that we both face is in knowing when to step out of our work personas and focus on our family.  Tim is an excellent father and I work hard to be a good mom, but I know that there are many times that I’m talking about work, thinking about work, worrying about work when I should be more engaged as a wife and mother.  While I know that we both provide benefit to our businesses, I also recognize that, if we left, we would be replaced and work would continue as usual.  The time and effort that we put into our time together and our time as parents will shape all of us for the rest of our lives.

 

There isn’t an easy solution to this problem.  It’s not always that simple to walk out the door (especially for Tim, who works at home) and turn off the DBA part.  There will be times that I need to focus on an issue even after leaving work in order to sort it out, but I’m going to make the effort to do that only when it’s necessary.   I need to keep in mind that my first job is to take care of my family.  If I do that, the rest of life will work itself out.

A co-worker of mine had the following saying up on their wall:

 

                              Remember, the people that you work for are waiting for you at home.

 

I need to keep that in mind.

 | 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: , , , , |