My Year In Review

A year in review is a perfect excuse to write here.  It has been far too long!

The thing I’m most proud of is that I ran 335 miles in 2016.  My first pair of running shoes have been run to the ground. I feel like I can call myself a runner now.  My five year old also joins me in running sometimes.

Each run helped me keep my shit together.  Very few people will actually realise how important it is to me at the moment.

I lost no weight, but that also means I didn’t gain any.  That’s probably a win too.

My business grew, probably about doubled in revenue. Which is great from so many aspects.  I also found and find it stressful. No pain, no gain definitely seems to be the mantra.  I plan to write about this more, soon.

I got to travel to Philadelphia (twice), Dublin and Scotland.  I don’t think Manchester quite fits in there 🙂 I still just prefer to hang out at home.

As a family, we’ve continued on our quest to minimalism.  We’re getting there despite our big family, we will be minimalistic according to our own criteria.

We’ve continued to be conscious consumers.  We’re currently at about 80% shopping locally, supporting local independent people and businesses.  We’re learning all the time, so always figuring out better ways of doing things.

We continue to unschool. After 18 months we finally got some steady part time childcare for our girl.  Though our five year old is with us full time, in addition to our two eldest, life requires a lot of juggling.  I love being such an active part in my children’s growth.

We’ve continued to not celebrate Christmas or New Years.  We are still very happy with this.

I’ve done more focus on writing.  Partly for my Ministry of Testing work where I have been holding a whip to get stuff written to a better standard. But also doing some writing that I’ve personally wanted to get done.  I actually really enjoy writing and what to do much more of that.  I managed to get a decent amount of blog posts out this year on  Not quite where I want to be, but it’s progress, considering everything else.

I’ve started to find more time to read too.  This makes me feel good too.  It had increasingly depressed me as my book pile grew bigger and bigger.  I have plans to tackle this.

My husband is awesome for being that person who keeps me going and he has done amazing things to turn his and our life around.

I’ve literally taken life one day at a time for the past two years.  I plan to keep doing that.  Onwards!


Categories: Me

How To Survive As A Modern Day Working Mother

This blog post was written whilst my daughter had her afternoon nap. Typical!

I often get asked how I do what I do, cause god, it must be hard unschooling with 4 kids.  I’m pretty sure my husband doesn’t get asked that so much, infact I wrote about how I do what I do last year.  (It’s a short blog post, worth reading, but if you don’t want to read it then it basically says I don’t do it all, my husband and I share our family, work and personal life equally. Easier said than done and it has taken us a while.)

The Eternal Struggle of Mothers

But the question still remains that people genuinely ask me how I do what I do.  Mostly these are other mothers trying to juggle their own working, career or businesses.

And they struggle.  As do I.

Sometimes people think that everything in my life is hunky dory. It isn’t.

I post happy pictures of good moments on my Instagram account because it helps me keep focused and positive.  There are plenty of crappy moments in between.

My days are chaotic.  And often I just want to pack things in. I feel the pressure of always trying to do so much. Yet, at the same time I feel lucky as my husband and I have truly worked to being equal in all the things we do.

I do think one of the biggest struggles us women have is that society tells us we are equal, but really we are mostly not.

They tell us we can have it all! But actually ‘having it all’ can be pretty shitty and stressful. And of course ‘having it all’ isn’t really having it all, because if both parents are at work then the kids are not at home with the parents.  How is that having it all? I’m really not sure anymore what ‘having it all’ means…and can’t be bothered trying to define what it is.

The truth is mothers feel this eternal guilt and inadequacy. They should be working. They should be learning something that they can apply in some career. They should be nurturing and looking after the kids. They should keep the house in order.  They should also be super fit and healthy. And we do try to do it all, but often it becomes too much.  The stress, oh the stress.

Yet, at the same time, we feel bad for shouting out for help, because we can have and do it all!  People tell us to be grateful for what we have, so we feel bad for complaining or ask for something different.

We can work full time and have a kid in full time nursery – society will tell us that all that is ok.  That life is hunky dory.  It’s still tough. Being away from your kids. Dealing with them and work when they are not well. The early morning and evening rush to drop/pick them up. The cries and screams that we are emotionally tortured with. Etc, etc.

But society tells us this is ok, this is an example of having it all. We should be happy. It’s all good. We shouldn’t complain.

And perhaps for some it is good.  But for many others it isn’t.  It wasn’t great for me emotionally.  I wondered why I was trying so hard and paying so much money on childcare just so I could work (and not really be much better off financially after childcare costs).

I struggled to see the point and over the years I’ve had a go at trying so many things to raise my kids whilst being a ‘modern working mother’.

7 Tips To Survive As A Modern Working Mother

I was chatting to someone about all of this recently.  A mother who was stressing about life and coping with all the responsibilities and I came up with the following 7 ideas to try to help her find a better balance.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for support from your employer, speak to other parents in your team/company, see if there is some kind of way to rally support.  We shouldn’t have to feel bad about asking for flexibility. We should be able to feel confident about suggesting solutions to ease the pressure – e.g. working from home at times (doesn’t need to be all the time).  The more of us that openly ask for support then the more it becomes the norm.  It would be nice to see fathers make the same requests.
  2. Think of how you can combine things with kids – I often do exercises when I take my kids to the park, for example.  Or if I’m in the mood for being lazy then I’ll listen to a podcast.  I personally can’t bear not being efficient!  It means I have more time to myself at other times.  Kids love helping out, find ways to do stuff together or combine activities. Kids should learn to understand that life is not just about them, it’s good for them if their parents can do things that make them feel better.
  3. Let things slack – Does it matter if some things in your life don’t happen?  Does it matter to you or someone else?  Are you doing things to keep other people happy and not yourself? How important is that thing? What if you decided not to do that thing?
  4. Ask your family for help – your partner first, then others. People are not mind readers. And mothers shouldn’t feel guilty for asking for help.  I know it makes such a difference to us when anyone can take our kids out of the house for a couple of hours, often it feels like heaven.  Is there someone who can do that for you?  Can you arrange swaps with a friend? Can your parents help out? Can you ask your partner to up his contributions?
  5. Request people to offer understanding and help – this can be a bit of a game changer.  Make it clear to people that you would always value support doing x, y or z.  It doesn’t need to be all the time, sometimes life gets tedious. Wouldn’t it be nice if your partner just offered to do stuff? Taking out the bin, cooking dinner, taking the kids out, doing the bed time routine, whatever.  It’s so much nicer when something is offered.  Make it clear to the right people that you would always appreciate offers, and of course, find ways to make their life less tedious too!
  6. Find some time for a sneaky nap – this one is not to be underestimated.  Have a lie in. Take turns with your partner. Have a sneaky nap whilst the kids watch a movie, anything.  Find a way to recharge.  Sleep is awesome.
  7. Encourage fathers to make the same requests – it has taken some time for my husband to become accustomed to being immersed in the day to day up bringing of our kids.  It’s still intense and stressful, but it’s a different kind stress and we feel good about it.  The more we talk about this, as a society, and make small changes towards real balance then the more feasible it is to actually make wider changes.  Fathers shouldn’t see this as something women need to push, we should both be in this together.

I feel fortunate to be running my own business and ultimately being able to make all my decisions.  Some are easier than others.  But I guess I’m increasingly becoming an employer of some sort too, so I do think of how all this stuff applies to how I run my business.  I’m not quite big enough to worry too much about that yet.

I would love to hear stories from other mothers and fathers.  How are you all coping?

Categories: Me

Extroverts, Introverts and Confidence

I’m a quiet kinda woman.
I love doing stuff that helps others thrive.  I hide away doing important bits of work that then allow me to observe the joy and successes of others.  I thrive on seeing others benefit from my work.

I am introverted in the real world.  Yet online I feel like I am an extrovert.  It’s kind of strange and it is something I think about a lot.

I build communities. I write. I organise events. I share. I post photos (including plenty of selfies!). The social web for me has been amazing.  I love the world I have created online. The trails I have left behind. It brings me joy to look back on my work.

I feel confident online.  Super confident.  I believe the confidence has come with time, it hasn’t always been there.  And now I almost call myself an extrovert in the digital world. It energises me. I get a buzz from digitally creation. I chat online, often, with multiple people. My phone, Slack, email, Twitter is constantly buzzing.  All of this gives me energy to keep going.

However, in real life. Even in my own events, I love taking a back seat.  You’ll find me behind a camera. Or walking about ensuring everything and everyone is ok.  Being out and about, travelling and networking tires me out. I struggle with group discussions, but love one to one conversations.

This year I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone by doing public speaking.  I have put it off so long and have said ‘no’ to requests many times.  However, I do wonder whether the new experiences that come will help me evolve towards a more extroverted person as my confidence grows.

I don’t think there are clear cut lines. I think part of it is confidence.  Another part is commitment and passion to a cause (which I seem to have found).  And perhaps another part is a natural talent towards certain things.

Another question is – does it really matter if we are introverts or extroverts?  Should we just focus on what we enjoy doing and forget how we actually go about it.

Confessions of A Zombie Selfie-A-Holic Social Media Junkie

I’ve been thinking about selfies, zombies and mobile phones recently. And I keep meaning to write about the connection of these three things.

The reason being is I keep seeing attacks on how stupid we are often are for taking selfies and acting like zombies with our phones. There are many articles out there that attack our zombie selfie type actions. Here is the most recent one I’ve seen.

Apparently as humans we are unable to use these wonderful bits of technology to improve our lives without people descending upon us with criticism.

My only regret is that we didn’t have such easy options to record things that matter to us at an earlier time.

My current Instagram timeline is covered with photos that matter to me.  Many of them are selfies.  They make me smile and remind me of who I and my family once were.

My Facebook account has updates that go back years.  I now get regular reminders of updates from my past.  Things that I have completely forgotten about.  They make me laugh, cry and question my past.  It reminds me how far I’ve progressed as a person.

My Twitter account goes back years too.  One day I may see if I can make use of any of the updates.

My phone is full of videos, photos and notes that I refer to time and time again.  It serves as a point of inspiration and as my 2nd brain.

Sure, I may look stupid when I’m taking a selfie or obsessed with doing something that you are totally unaware of. But really, I don’t care.  I’m busy making memories for myself.

I may appear to be distracted, but really I’m enjoying the moment, paying closer attention to the details and taking videos or photos that will bring me joy.

I may appear disengaged.  The truth is I may be disengaged in something, but totally engaged in something else.  The phone has enabled me to manage my life more efficiently so I can get more things done.

I may pass time reading news, watching ‘TV’, keeping up to date with ‘social media’ or playing games.  I’m ok with that.  There’s nothing new there, it’s just a different medium.  We all deserve time to switch off.

My Flickr account (that photo website that arrived way before Instagram) are full of photos that go back to when my eldest boys were such little things.


This baby here is now 10 years old.  I get so much joy browsing these photos.  It’s priceless, to me.

The things that make me feel sad is when I don’t actively do these things.  There was a period for a couple of years where I didn’t actively take many photos of my kids. I have regrets about this.

And in not such a digital age, I feel great sadness that many of our family photos have been lost during the many house moves my parents had.  I only have a handful of photos of me when I was younger.  I know there were more, but they have been lost, probably forever.

In addition to creating joy and memories for myself, I honestly believe that my children will appreciate the things I’m creating today.  I am making stuff for them.  They may thank me one day.

It’s okay if you think we look stupid doing things with technology, whatever it may be. I just think it’s daft to spend the time and effort ridiculing it.

And for what it’s worth, I don’t own nor have ever used a selfie stick.

Business As An Enabler

Most text books say businesses exist to make profit.  I disagree and feel this is an excuse to be selfish.  People separate themselves as humans when they hide behind a business entity.  They feel it is ok to do certain things because they stay within business and tax laws.

As my ideas around business mature, I find nothing worse than focusing on profit.  There is so much more to it.  And for me it is really about people and investing in them all the people around me.  Because we can.  And probably because we can within the laws too.

We can use laws to be selfish.

Or we can use laws to do things that change people’s lives.

So my business right now exists to enable me in:

  • giving back to my (software testing) community
  • investing in the people (and their dreams) that I work closely with
  • investing in causes that I believe in.  This could be charity. Exploring side projects.  Investing into others.
  • living a fruitful life

I am motivated to make a profit so I can do awesome things.  Not so I can be the 1%.

A moving company offers services for free to victims of domestic abuse is a great example of a company doing the right thing, because they can.

And Inequality for All is a documentary worth watching.

Politics is not my avenue for fighting change.  I will do things my way and share my stories to encourage others.

A Nutty Kinda Year

rosieisnutsIt’s December.  Things are ramping down for many people and I feel like the only one who will be kicking some butt this December.

It’s been a crazy year for me.  I can only describe it as nuts.  Almost like I haven’t been able to breathe, until now.

Just over year ago I was pregnant with high blood pressure.  I was around 25 weeks (and had only recently gotten over daily morning sickness) with suspected pre-eclampsia – there was talks of babies being viable from 24 weeks.  It’s not the kind of thing anyone wants to hear.  I am grateful I made it all the way without complications, though I think there wasn’t a week that I wasn’t visiting the hospital.

It was pretty tough going.  And totally worth it for the daughter I now have.

During this same time I was still working and trying to launch The Dojo.  Which was soon be followed by TestBash.  My little girl was 5 weeks old when TestBash happened.

It was nuts trying to juggle it all.  Conference. The Dojo. New baby (completely attached to me).  Unschooling my other kids.

People say startups and small companies are often chaotic.  Try throwing in the above for added chaos and stress.  Nothing ever goes according to plan.

We survived.

Then for some strange reason TestBashNY (just a couple weeks before a TinyTestBash) seemed like a great idea.  Seriously, I’m so stupid sometimes! Our inability to get childcare as quickly as we wanted, a daughter that would not settle or detach herself from me and a husband with health challenges made it all incredibly tougher than expected.

Again we survived.  We made stuff happen. We grew as individuals and a company.  We are relieved.  And we most definitely are stronger.

I am only now starting to achieve some kind of normality.  (There is still much to catch up on. I owe many people emails.  I am sorry!)

My main takeaways for this year have been:

  • Doing good work can make you feel like shit, often it is over rated.
  • Actually, as much as I love my work, it can be pretty depressing at times.  Often it’s like being punched in the face when all sorts of things don’t go according to plan.
  • We had been trying to find a healthy life balance, we didn’t quite make it this year, but health issues gave us a huge kick up the butt to get things moving!
  • It was the first time we actually had to prioritise our health needs over anything else, making other things wait was tough.
  • Children are amazing, attached babies are incredibly hard work, but still amazing!
  • I didn’t spend enough quality time with my older boys.  This has to change.
  • Travelling with 4 kids for a month in the U.S.  is nuts and very expensive.  As a family we decided it was too long this time around.  Future trips will be shorter, at least until Eloise is older.
  • My only time to myself this year has been when I went running (and even that was often with my Eloise). I think I may have cracked otherwise.  I definitely need more time to myself.

Onwards! In 2016 I will be facing my fears! 🙂

Categories: Me

How Do I Do It All?

My family, the Instagram version. The original had me in at the bottom, but it won’t fit with Instagram.

A photo posted by Rosie Sherry (@rosiesherry) on

This is my family.

That’s my husband at the back.

I use to help him with his business.  Now he helps me with mine (and also works on his own projects).

He use to get the priority to work.  Now I do.

Our priorities change as our lives change.  We think that’s ok.

We try to aim for a 50/50 responsibility with home and family responsibilities.  Though it’s currently not quite balanced that way.  He’s taking on more family stuff these days.  It should swing back into balance next month, I say, wishfully.

When he worked full time and ran a business no one ever asked him how he did it.   No one was ever really curious how he managed to juggle a busy work life and a growing family.

However, I’ve been asked this question constantly:  How do I do what I do with x amount of kids?

I don’t get offended when people ask me, but honestly this is a big issue to talk about.  Sexism. Gender bias.  Societal norms.  Whatever you want to call it.

I don’t want to go into details of it (right now at least), but I did want to explain how I ‘do it’.

I do it with the support of my husband.  Just like  my husband ‘did it’ with the support of his wife.

Categories: Me

How Rosie Runs

Lots of people ask how I do things,  So I thought I’d write about a random day of mine from last week.  This is how Rosie survives runs things.

It’s 7am and it’s bit of a hard start to the day.  I’ve punished myself by working until the early hours (1am) whilst Eloise (1o weeks old) was sleeping.  These moments of free time to myself are rare these days and I often (stupidly) take advantage of the time to do some work.  Eloise normally doesn’t sleep unless I’m by her side, so it feels like a bit of a luxury.

The truth is I was expecting her to wake and then being able to get her back to sleep quickly.  Unfortunately this didn’t happen and instead I was up till 4 am.  That means I’ve had 3 hours sleep.  There was no chance of a lie in today.  My husband often does the nursery run for my nearly 4 year old.  He is off duty today.  Plus, my 10 year old is spending the day at a friends.  I need to drop him off after the nursery run.  It’s a busy morning for me.

I’m a few minutes late for nursery, I just barely kept things on track to get my son to his friends house.  It’s 10:30am by the time I get back home. I had been making fresh green juices for breakfast every day this week.  I luckily had some left over from yesterday, this is my breakfast starter topped up by a low carb breakfast an hour or so later. Eloise is crying and was crying every time I stopped the car for more than 5 seconds. I know she’s hungry and tired.  So I feed her, keeping one arm free to catch up on email, some skype conversations and editing/reviewing of articles and videos that I’m working on.

Eloise is unsettled after her feed. I know she is tired, but she won’t sleep.  I carry her around whilst having a text skype chat with a colleague.  This works well for me because Eloise can be distracting and it’s impossible to have a voice call with the noise she makes.  I can also easily take breaks within the skype chats, this gives me time to think or deal with Eloise should she need the attention.  The text chat history also ensures I can take action on things later on, when I have the time.

Eloise falls asleep in my arms midway through my chat.  This is how she sleeps best.  In fact, I know she will wake up if I lie her down somewhere.  So I sit down and let her sleep on me.  It works out ok because my laptop is on my lap whilst she is on my chest.  I can work quite well in this position – both my hands are free.  I can normally get 1 – 2 hours worth of work done like this.  When someone walks by (husband or older kids) I ask them for a cuppa 🙂

It’s my run day today.  I started running about 18 months ago, but took a break during most of my pregnancy.  I have a history of suffering from SPD.  It use to be painfully bad.  I couldn’t walk when I was pregnant with number 3. Over 2 years after he was born I still couldn’t walk much more than a few blocks before the pain taking over.

I had never really run before and the little people in my head kept telling me I hated running. However, something inside me told me to run.  So I started running and it has done my hips wonders, plus I love it!  So running is now my thing.  I’ve only just started again and my hips aren’t great (they are quite painful tbh), but I’m pleased I can manage 30 minutes of running, only just.  It’s also the only time I get all to myself.  It’s so, so precious to me.

I push myself to make running part of my schedule 3 times per week.  It has to happen.  And today is a running day.  It also has to happen now, or I won’t be able to fit in.  It’s 12:15.  I have exactly 35 minutes to get ready and do my run so I can be back home for Eloise and my husband can do the nursery run followed by a swim with two of our boys.

I attempt to lay Eloise down without waking her up.  I fail, but have to run, so I run off and leave my husband to look after her.

Running is painfully hard at times.  My RunKeeper app and my selfies motivate me to keep going.  However, my running inspires me and always, I mean always makes me feel better at the end.  It takes away the stress and worries that I often have to deal with at home and work.  I run along the seafront and get to see the most beautiful views.  I feel like a winner after a run.  I call myself The She God and I give myself a hi-five after every run.  I know that, just like my work, I will only achieve results one step at a time.  So I just keep going and trying to get better each time. I have my own goals and refuse to compare my running achievements with anyone else.  Funnily, I don’t compare my work or business with others.  I am what I am.  I do what I can. And I try to keep moving forward, always.

I complete my run and get home in time.  My husband literally hands me Eloise and heads out the door.  She’s been crying most of the time I’ve been out. We’ve cut it fine, no time for a shower for me!

I feed then hangout and walk around with Eloise.  I use this opportunity to get some housework done.  The walking about with her does my muscles some good. I also discovered the plane on our fan settles her and sends her to sleep.  I feel like a winner! I lie down and feed Eloise.  She’s been unsettled recently so takes a couple of attempts to get to sleep.  I manage to send a few work emails, catch up on some skype conversations then manage a couple of hours sleep whilst cuddling my girl.

We didn’t plan dinner too well today.  My husband has been doing a lot of the cooking recently.  I could barely eat, let alone cook when I was pregnant.  Now I struggle because Eloise always wants fed or carried.  I’m doing cooking some of the time, but not as much as I would like.  Feeding a family of 6 is a lot of hard work.  It’s one of our biggest challenges. Our eldest son (11) often helps out and has become a keen chef. We get take outs or go out to eat at least a couple times a week.  Sometimes there is just no time to think about food.

Today it’s pizza for the kids and a takeout for the adults.  Eloise is unsettled again so my husband and I take turns comforting her whilst the other eats.

It’s tidy up time now that it is the evening.  The kids help to clear up any mess and load the dishwasher.  It still needs an adult to properly clean things down, that won’t happen until late in the evening when I can find a spare few minutes.

It’s time for my 4 year old to go to bed.  I lie down with him and Eloise.  We read a story and sing some songs.  He crashes out.  I move Eloise to her room.  She takes a while to settle.  When she does I get an hour or so to clean up the kitchen before she cries for me again.

I settle her again whilst checking and responding to emails and doing my work social media thing.  She falls into a deeper sleep this time.  It gives me the only opportunity I’ve had in the past few days to focus and do essential finance work.  I also manage to do some editing and writing.  Here I’ve managed to squeeze in another 2 -3 hours of work.

It’s 1 am and Eloise wakes up for a feed.  I decide to go to sleep too.  This time I get to sleep until 8am. I am grateful!

The above is a pretty typical day for me these days.  Things are a bit mad with a hard pregnancy and adapting to new baby.  Actually, they’ve been pretty stressful!

This day was based on a day last week.  We don’t feel like we have the work/life balance that we would like to have, but we are always trying to take steps to improve that.   We have no house or childcare help at the moment (apart from the part time nursery that our 4 year old goes to).  We’ve addressed this now, hopefully!  We should be having a mothers helper starting with us next week.

We’re constantly adapting and tweaking our environments in the attempt to achieve the holy grail of work life balance!

Categories: Me

On Being Thankful

There’s a local greengrocers and butchers that I am always thankful exists.  It may seem like a strange or insignificant thing, however, as someone who aims to avoid the big supermarkets as much as possible, they really help me achieve and make it a heck of a lot easier to achieve some of my goals.

This isn’t the time or place to go into reasons of why I pursue these choices, it’s more of a case of highlighting that in the area that I live in there is an independently run greengrocers and butchers.  They live to the values that I’m trying to live by – sourcing local, good and often traceable food.  And I am extremely grateful that they exist because life without them would be harder.

I express my thankfulness to them by supporting them as much as I can.  They are not the cheapest. Nor are they perfect in the food freshness.  Their availability of products is much more limited too.  They are not open 24 hours a day either.

I could compare them in so many ways to the big supermarkets.  But I don’t. And I won’t. And the truth be, now I feel dirty shopping in supermarkets, but shopping with the local shops makes me feel good.  I feel like I am making the right choices, for myself and for them.

I am thankful they exist.  I like to think they know this without me saying it. They are thankful for my business. They are thankful for my choices.  They know I support their existence not only through the fact that I shop with them on a regular basis, but also through how I talk about, to others, the importance of being a conscious shopper.   Each interaction and shop I do means we get to know each other. They get to know my family. We talk. Laugh. Share stories.  They carry my bags when I’m heavily pregnant.  They consider my needs and recommend options because they know me.

Hopefully, one small action at a time I help support them and other independent shops across the UK.  My gut says that they are thankful for my existence and support – even though we’ve never actually said ‘thank you for existing’ to each other.

Thankful To All Of You Testers!

Now, you may be wondering why the heck I’m going on about this!

Last week saw our 4th TestBash software testing conference happen.  Often throughout the year I get occasional “thank you’s”  for the work I do.  During TestBash time, the “thank you’s” spike, massively.

Being Rosie, I’m left not knowing what to say because (apart from blushing) all that goes through my head is – “No, thank YOU!”.  Thanks to each and every one of you for allowing me to be in this position, doing this work and somehow making a living from it.

Surely, I should be the grateful one!?! I should be the one saying thank you for supporting my work.  But of course I understand it works both ways.  I’m just still not very good at accepting gratitude and compliments.

But it did make me think – what could people do instead of saying thank you to me?  If you have ever wanted to say thank you, what could you do instead? Or in addition to it.  This is when I felt like it related to my local greengrocers & butchers scenario – I am grateful to them in a similar way to some people are grateful to me.

Sure, you can spread the love of good testing and share the work we do.  But there’s more to be be done.

Just like I share stories with the people at my local shops – I’d love to hear your stories.  If we meet. Tell me your story.  Let me get to know you better.  Allow me to understand who you are, what you need and where you aspire to go.  The more I know, the better I can understand how best to adapt and grow the testing work I do.  I can help you more if we make these interactions and stories on a regular basis.  We could do this face to face, but we can also do it better or faster virtually.  Lets hook up…on Twitter, Email, Skype, STC forum…a comment on this blog.  Whatever way takes your fancy!

Lets make a pact to reach out to each other and keep to our values & ethics.  Not as a one off, but as a regular thing.  And not just with me, but with others in the testing community.

Thank you’s are great and all that.  But they are so much more awesome when they are backed up by actions.

AND by all means, say thank you, I won’t hold it against you, but understand that by doing any of the above will imply you appreciate what I do, so a thank you is not necessary!

Thank you! 🙂

Categories: Me

My Definition of Success

I saw this post on my favourite Facebook pages ever.  It struck a chord with me because I’m pursuing an unstructured life.


I often think about what drives me to do the work I do.

Once upon a time I use to think it was ‘being successful’.  Like the ability or potential to run a financially successful business, which would then potentially free me up to do other things and not suffer being ‘financially poor’.  I use to think in terms of business plans, graphs and bank balances.  The pursuit of so called ‘success’ is what initially sparked my imagination to create and do stuff.  I knew I longed for something different than a standard day job.

I use to think that if only I had the money, then I could do this, or that.  However, this is a trap that too many of us fall into.  I’ll just do this one last contract. Or pay off my mortgage. Or work a couple more years.  THEN I’ll be able to be free enough to do what I really want to do.

The idea of success is what may have driven me in the early days, but it’s not what drives me now.  Or maybe it is, but my definition of success has completely changed.

The old way I looked at success was about being someone big or important.  Having big responsibility, assets and commitments.  However, the reality, where I am now is that I don’t really want much of that.  I’m introverted. Avoid being the centre of attention whenever possible, often choosing a strategy to put others in the limelight.  I’ve also become averse to commitment (apart from my marriage!).  I’ve increasingly avoided most long term business type commitments as all too often they turn into stressful and painful situations.

My newer way of looking at success is by the degree of how much freedom I have.  I make regular and conscious choices in my life to give me freedom.  I find freedom brings me the unstructured life that I love, even if the results have not come as quickly as I often would have liked.  The patience required for this has made me feel incredibly grateful for the freedom I have now.

Here are some examples of the freedoms I have compared to my life in the past:

My Freedom Now In My Distant Past
I am able to turn work away.I value the opportunity to do work I enjoy doing.  We don’t live month to month and feel comfortable turning away work that compromises our happiness and lifestyle. I never had much choice in my work.I was too worried about money to make decisions that would effect my income.
I am able to focus on work I love.I choose who I work with and intentionally avoid people who bring negativity and stress into my life. Whilst I enjoyed the work I did, I often didn’t enjoy the environment I worked in.  I often felt unhappy and stressed.
I am able to spend time with my family.When I plan my work and the things I want to do I ensure they are compatible with my growing family’s needs.  Otherwise I say no. Work dictated my life.  It was 9-5. Not seeing much of my family. Juggling childcare and all the hassles that come with a busy working life.
I am able to spend time on myself.  It’s taken me a while to not feel guilty about this and it’s only the past year or two that I’ve started doing things for me.  Taking time out when I need it. Doing stuff I want to do.  Deciding that certain things have to happen to keep me balanced and happy. Between work, kids and housework – I felt too stressed and tired to even think about doing things for me.  My health slipped.  My exercise was non-existent.
I have the choice in how to structure my day to day activities.I’ve developed my own way of working. It’s carefully placed between everything that goes on in my life. It works for me and is snug as a bug.  Sometimes I stay up late.  I often have naps to catch up on missed sleep.  I only wake up early when I have no choice (this usually means the kids wake me up). Pretty much no choice in how I structured my days.I had to commute often. Be at work at certain times. Be home for the kids. Etc.  There was no flexibility.
I am able to take time off to relax when I feel I need it.We’ve been lucky enough in the past couple of years to have the flexibility to just take time off or go on extended worklidays as a family.  This is partly because we can mostly do work from anywhere, but it’s also because our kids are not tied to the school system (as we are unschoolers). Like above.  There was little say when I could take time off.
I limit my number of hours of ‘actual work’ to 4 hours per day (on average).Some weeks are busier than others, however overall I try to limit my actual work time to 4 hours a day.  Often they are 4 intense and productive hours.  I’ve grown quite accustomed to it and I feel it is the right balance for me and the other life duties I manage. My work days were at least 8 hours, often more.  Plus commute time.There wasn’t much choice.  Even when ‘there was nothing to do’ I often felt like I had to pretend to be productive.  This is wasteful and full of stupidity!

Perhaps ‘freedom’ and ‘unstructure’ sound simplistic enough to disregard as unimportant.  However, like the woman in the picture above, it is underestimated.

Freedom gives me the more obvious things like deciding when to work. How to work. And what to work on. The ability to prioritise my family life. The ability to choose what projects to work on. Choose the food that I eat (because it’s easier when I don’t rush about). When to travel and go on holiday with my kids.  And simply do things when we feel like it, not when others feel we should.

However, it’s the things that are harder to see that almost make me feel enlightened by the whole experience.  I have time to think. To feel. To listen. To take time to properly decide things at my own pace.  Choices without huge pressure.  It’s a wonderful thing.

I am not financially rich.  Nor am I financially poor.  Money is important to give us a certain amount of freedom, but it is not our over arching focus.  We are working towards minimalism as a family.  We want to spend less money. Have less possessions.  Have more time for ourselves and each other doing things that we want to do.

I think about and appreciate the freedom I have every single day.  I am thankful.  I feel I am succeeding because every time I think of life without the freedom I have – then that is when I know that a life without freedom would be a unsuccessful life for me.