Some of you who are my age will recognize the reference in the title as a line from the movie “Top Gun.” Most of you will probably look at the title and think that this blog post is going to be about project management. Unfortunately, you may be disappointed to learn that it is really more of a personal blog post – one about life management.

Not too be confused with the impact of spending a summer in Tucson :) (www.flickr.com/photos/nickdouglas/58786813)

Not too be confused with the impact of spending a summer in Tucson :) (www.flickr.com/photos/nickdouglas/58786813)

 

Much of this year, I have pretty much felt like the title. This last week and weekend, I actually came to realize the impact that moving at this pace for as long as I have has had on me and, more importantly, my family. This weekend was the first time in a long time that I have truly taken a weekend off from work. Initially, it was more out of exhaustion and truly being burned out that I did it, but I came to realize that I got a lot more than rest out of it. It was the first time in a long time that I truly took the time to laugh with and thoroughly enjoy my family without having things like work, studying for MCITP exams, the PASS Virtual Chapter that I am a leader of, etc. nagging at me in the back of my mind. I discovered that you need to be very careful not to let outside responsibilities and activities take over your life and cause you to take your family for granted. Luckily, I have an extremely wonderful and supportive wife and great kids who have been very understanding throughout this hectic year. Such a support structure is a gift that we have to be very careful not to over utilize.

 

In this time where job security is probably at its lowest level in several generations, we have to be careful to leave time for our families and loved ones while also trying to hold on to our jobs. It is easy to lose focus and not give the proper amount of time and attention to those we love because they are not the proverbial squeaky wheel when we have things like projects, training, work travel, conferences, etc. tugging on us. It is a difficult balancing act to be sure, but one that I believe will pay dividends over and over the better we become at it. The thing we have to realize is that our loved ones will probably be the last ones to call us on this, so we have to make sure to be vigilant in keeping things balanced. Because of this, I have decided that even though resolutions are made at the beginning of the year, I am going to start mine early and resolve to try to cut down on the outside activities that have kept me from fully enjoying my family and managing the balance in my life. I think that not only will everyone in my family be better for it, but that I will be more productive and happy in the activities that I do decide to continue engaging in.

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

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.

I was tagged by Jorge Segarra (BlogTwitter) who had been tagged by Thomas LaRock (BlogTwitter) in his post about his goals and themeword for 2010.  I was going to try to remain blissfully ignorant about being tagged, but then Tim went and posted his goals.  So I guess I’m on the line now.  My theme word for this year is:

 

Recharge

While there are many things that I want to accomplish this year, I don’t know that (m)any of them will occur until I can figure out a way to recharge.  I’m typically a self motivated type of person, but it seems like, during the previous year, I’ve hit the wall.

 

I’m not entirely sure what has caused this, but I’m guessing that it is some combination of the cyclical nature of job satisfaction, having a boatload of things going on at home and the disconnect between the amount of things that I would like to learn and the amount of free time that I have.

 

recharger

Is there a human connector on that thing?

I realize that there is no magic button that will instantly recreate the hunger for knowledge that I had when I began learning to be a DBA.  What I can do, though, is set some goals, work hard to follow through on them and be patient.   My hope is that in the process of achieving these goals, I’ll rejuvenate my love of this career path.

 

Goals

Pick one or two topics to focus on

I have at least three SQL Server books sitting on my desk and more at home that I haven’t done much more than flip through.  Rather than setting a goal to read all 3000 pages (doable, but daunting), I’m going to pick a couple of subjects to focus on and learn them as thoroughly as possible.  This is ongoing – if it’s March and I know everything there is to know about database corruption (or whatever it is I end up focusing on), I’ll move on to the next subjects.

 

Blog more

My first love is teaching.  It invigorates me and gives me purpose.  Blogging provides me an arena to hopefully teach people that are learning to be DBAs and the chance to share what I’ve learned.

 

Become more involved with PASS

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts and as Tim mentioned in his goals for 2010, we’ve talked often about starting a PASS chapter in Tucson.  This ties into my love of teaching and will help us to connect with folks locally who have similar interests.  I would also like to take part in other committees within PASS as needed.    This will definitely require a balancing act with work and family, so I’ll be taking baby steps to ensure that I don’t shortchange other areas in my life.

 

What does this all mean?

None of these individual goals are earth-shattering and that’s intentional.  I have a tendency to swing for the bleachers, but end up hitting to the pitcher and it makes me grumpy.  My hope here is that I make some good, solid line drives and then I’ll be set up to hit it out of the park.

 

I’m tagging a couple of people that have unknowingly helped me to recharge (some thank you, eh?) 

TJay Belt (BlogTwitter)

Wendy Pastrick (BlogTwitter)

Kendal Van Dyke (BlogTwitter)

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: , |

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: , , |