Happy New Year!

I always look forward to January 1st. It’s my Birthday but, more importantly, I love the sense of hope that surrounds the day and that so many people take the start of a New Year as a chance to begin again.

A great many pessimists will tell you that New Year’s resolutions are for fools and, if that’s the case, I think there’s room for a bit of foolishness in the world.

So, I’ll keep on with my list of grand resolutions each New Year’s Day and I’d encourage anyone else to do the same. Who knows what you might achieve. :)

Here’s to a wonderful 2016!

The Old Astronomer (To His Pupil)

The Old Astronomer (To His Pupil) by Sarah Williams:

Reach me down my Tycho BrahĂ©, – I would know him when we meet,
When I share my later science, sitting humbly at his feet;
He may know the law of all things, yet be ignorant of how
We are working to completion, working on from then to now.

Pray remember that I leave you all my theory complete,
Lacking only certain data for your adding, as is meet,
And remember men will scorn it, ‘tis original and true,
And the obloquy of newness may fall bitterly on you.

But, my pupil, as my pupil you have learned the worth of scorn,
You have laughed with me at pity, we have joyed to be forlorn,
What for us are all distractions of men’s fellowship and wiles;
What for us the Goddess Pleasure with her meretricious smiles.

You may tell that German College that their honour comes too late,
But they must not waste repentance on the grizzly savant’s fate.
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

Continue reading The Old Astronomer (To His Pupil)

Halfway

The first half of 2015 has flown by!

In the first four months, a lot of my time was spent travelling. I visited Oslo, Norway; New Orleans, USA; Paris, France; Marseille, France; Barcelona, Spain; Seville, Spain; and Faro, Portugal. I feel incredibly lucky and grateful to be in a position where I’m able to travel so freely, but I’ve spent a lot of time away from home these past few years and, lately, have found myself wishing that I could be more settled. Over the last two months, I decided to stay put in the UK for a little while and have been moving towards purchasing my first property, no more renting. :)

I’m sure the need to travel will takeover again at some point but, for now, I’m enjoying being home.

Motown Junkies

I stumbled across Motown Junkies this evening: an ambitious project to delve into the history and review every Motown single released between 1959 and 1988. The author has been blogging for six years and is going strong at 688 reviews.

Stevie Wonder has always been standard Summer listening for me and I’ve fallen even more in love with the sounds of Motown lately, so I found the reviews on Motown Junkies to be interesting and insightful. If you love the music and learning more about its background, I definitely recommend that you take a gander at motownjunkies.co.uk too. :)

Emma, Florence, and Glastonbury

Emma Barker was bright, kind, fierce, funny, sunny, infectious, and a bundle of hope. Whenever we spent time together, I was always inspired for the future.

The first time I went on a night out with her, she’d played a set of her own songs at the weekly open mic night in DĂ©jĂ  Vu. We stayed out late and, at an after hours lock in at Bar Iguana, she got up to the mic and sang You’ve Got The Love. It was 2009 and Florence and the Machine had recently released the cover.

The last time I went on a night out with her, we went from bar to bar, and she carried her guitar around with her. As we passed people, some would shout, “Give us a song!” and she didn’t hesitate to oblige. She would never pass up the opportunity to sing or dance or let loose in any way. It was just a few months ago.

That night, I could sense that something wasn’t right and Emma was on my mind a lot after. I wish I could have said the right words or visited her again in Reading sooner or that I just could have helped her in any way.

It’s now been a matter of weeks since Emma ended her life. A week after her funeral, I found myself at Glastonbury.

175,000 people piled into Worthy Farm to pitch up their tents for the festival. That’s more people than the population of Reading and I felt like I’d stepped into a whimsical, crazy, creative pop-up town. Everyone was full of life and letting loose, with no reservations, and there were bursts of activity at every turn. Emma would have been in her element and, again, she was on my mind a lot.

A few of my highlights: the Pyramid stage at nighttime; waving back at the Dalai Lama as he passed in a car; discovering new music like that of Ibeyi; seeing the lobsters come out for their Lord, Lekiddo; Kate Tempest’s Hold Your Own; a Lionel Richie flash mob; the atmosphere as I walked around; Arcadia’s spider spectacular; the love of music that was everywhere.

My absolute, utmost highlight: Florence and the Machine. I was so happy to get the chance to see her play. Her whole performance summed up the spirit that I felt while at Glastonbury.

“Take off anything you don’t need, any fears about this weekend, wave it for the person that broke your heart, wave it for the person you love. This weekend you are released!” were the last words of Florence’s performance and, with them, she finished singing Dog Days Are Over, whipped off her top, and waved it in the air as she ran around the stage one last time.

So much has happened in the past few weeks to make me rethink the way I’ve been approaching life. I’ve always been a closed book, but even more so in the past year and things have been left to weigh down on my mind. I’m going take inspiration from Emma, Florence, and the people I encountered at Glastonbury to try to be more open, to let loose, and to be less afraid of falling.

glastodance

One year at Automattic

I’ve been working at Automattic for one whole year today and I can’t help but reflect on the wonderful experiences that have come my way as a result.

It’s sometimes tricky to describe the company to people who aren’t familiar with it because Automattic isn’t normal by most standards: We all work remotely and are spread out across over 30 different countries. On my team alone, there are people based in the US, England, Peru, Sweden, Canada, Israel, Austria, Bulgaria, Malaysia, France, Ireland, Indonesia, and Wales.

As I’m not required to be in a physical office, I’ve been able to work while travelling a lot. Teams within Automattic also have in-person team meetups every few months. I’m hoping to blog about each of these experiences over time but, for now, I’ll just say that I’m more than grateful for the chance I’ve had to travel and explore other places so freely.

It hasn’t been all about the travel though. This past year, I’ve been privileged to work with an incredibly talented, diverse, and interesting group of people on a product that we’re all passionate about.

Here’s hoping for many more years to come, even if my Mum does still joke that I need to get a “proper job.” ;)

New year, new blog

Today’s the first day of 2015 and also my birthday, so double the reason for me to reflect on the year that’s been and look ahead.

I feel lucky to have had such a wonderful year: In 2014, I started working at Automattic, explored 11 countries across 4 continents, and did things I never thought I’d get the chance to do. Skydiving in Utah, horseback riding in Hawaii, and hobbit spotting in New Zealand are just a few of the memories that stand out. Luckiest of all, my family have had a happy and healthy year too, with only a few bumps along the way.

As we go into 2015, I’m more than excited about the next set of adventures and one of my many resolutions is to be better at documenting them. I’m generally terrible at remembering to take photos and, despite working for the company behind WordPress.com, don’t actually keep a blog. So, here’s my attempt to put that right. :)

Happy New Year, all!