A Required Respite

A return to hobbies long forgotten.

Until a few months ago, I had very nearly forgotten to breath for two and a half years. Hobbies and joys that were previously a part of my daily life were left forgotten - plants died, paints dried up, computer hardware became aged and collected dust. For the first time in my life I had a job that I loved and to which I was completely addicted.

After two and a half years consumed in a maelstrom of alerts, high-priority projects, deadlines, product launches and operational heroism (in short, Systems Engineering), I realized that I had become proficient at a job that kicked my ass for the first eight months. I realized that it was time for me to find a new avenue for growth and remember to be a person and not just the job. Thus this blog entry is not about that job, it's about a plan for the recovery from that job

I am not nor have I ever been a person given to idleness. I have a thousand finished projects and at least twice that many abandoned hobbies. I sometimes look at the remnants of my foray into Bonsai, at the half-stripped and re-stained dining table or at the Piano and Violin sitting on the far side of my bedroom that I can't play and wish I hadn't spent the money to start them. However, I also look at the three oil paintings of a series of 12 painted in a year hung around my home, at the six antique watches I bought and repaired and at the fully automated irrigation system installed on my balcony and feel a sense of accomplishment for those tasks I mightn't of otherwise ever attempted and pride for the skills learned in those attempts. I've a shelf full of books on topics like Spencerian Script, Investments and the Stock Market, Psychiatry and Classic Literature that represent the flights of interest that never bloomed into full hobbies - to say nothing of the contents of my Kindle. This website was created with no content almost a year ago during a brief vacation - I know because I just renewed the domain.

After leaving my job for a new team with a very different and less demanding challenge. I find myself with more time than I've had since moving to Seattle. For the first month of my new job, I continued to do my old job on the side. During the second month I made the conscious decision to step away and I realized for the first time the size of the hole left behind. The next few months I spent diving into my new job which while interesting doesn't have the same adrenaline as the previous one. Now in the sixth month of my not-so-new position, I've decided to take a month away from work. The purpose is a much needed break and a rediscovery of those hobbies and joys undertaken.

As part of this effort, I'm beginning my first official day off by resuming a habit of writing a blog. Over the next month, I intend to break out my easel and attempt a painting I'm almost sure will show me exactly how much those skills have atrophied in the last three years. I plan to start an outline and resume writing the first chapter for a fiction story I've been dreaming up in the last few months. I've promised myself that I will take a bike ride at least three days a week. I intend to "finish" at least three unfinished open source projects and write blog entries about them (Stiny, Stindex, and PyDynamoFinancialModeling). I will be reading Stephen King's "On Writing" and "Effective Java" by Joshua Block. For leisure, I will be finishing "The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents" with Jaime, Ken Burns' series "The Civil War" and "The Wind Rises" in addition to a few choice games that have long resided on my Steam wish list. Finally, in culmination of my time away from work, I'll be attending PyCon in Montreal beginning April 9th - a conference the videos from which I watch avidly each year but have never attended.

It's an ambitious plan for a vacation. Even if I get none of this actually finished, it promises to be relaxing vacation hanging out with Jaime and the dog and wondering around a city I love after which I intend to return to work with new vigor and a few new distractions.

- Eli