“What have you been doing since July?”

“Can you tell me what have you been doing since July?”

It’s a fair question, and one I’ve heard quite a bit.

Those that know me are aware that I was thrown a curve in the last week of July when the Okanjo laid off me and a few co-workers. They are great people who have shown me nothing but support before, during and since, and I still look back fondly on my year there. The move makes nothing but sense given the general direction in which they are headed. However, honestly, it still caught me by surprise.

Such is life, though. Nothing is ever static, and from my experience I can say that is usually a good thing.

Since then, life has been extremely fluid. I’ve mentioned before that my oldest has high-functioning autism, often known as Aspergers Syndrome, things are going really well for him now. We’ve had some struggles with the youngest, and after a handful of school meetings and exhausting several strategies and techniques, it was time to confirm our suspicions. He began treatment for ADHD, and things have taken a pronounced upward swing.

I have no doubt my wife and I would have been able to handle the meetings, appointments and everything else that needed to be done this past fall without cost to our career productivity, as we were able to do five years ago when the oldest went through a similar process (and weren’t familiar with the ropes). I will say, however, that the fact that I was home made it much easier.

When I moved to Milwaukee and determined that I needed to stop working remotely for TownNews, I looked back over my career to that point. I have been extremely lucky to have spent most of my adult life doing something I enjoyed with people whose company I have enjoyed. What appealed to me most, however, was front-end development.

To describe how much web design and development has changed since I created my first web page is risking cliche. What we use to build, render and test is constantly evolving. Angular wasn’t on a lot of job requirements five years ago. TownNews wasn’t using it when I was there. Okanjo had not started using it when I was there.

I have been blessed with the ability to learn new languages rather quickly, but up until July, the time and opportunity to put what I had learned about Angular into practice wasn’t abundant. Now? I’ve been working on this this Angular 2 theme for WordPress, which accesses the CMS’s robust features via API. (And I’m still not done improving it.)

When my wife and I bought our first house, I was working, on average, at least 12 hours a day for WQAD. Many Saturdays. Most holidays. All times of severe weather. It was years before I regained enough work-life balance to improve the equity in our home. It took me 10 years before I started landscaping. That’s ten years of looking out the window at the things you wanted to get done.

Now? I was able to clear out the woods with years of overgrowth behind my house, less than a year-and-a-half after we moved in, and instead of spending the next eight winters out back at what needs to be done, we can enjoy watching our ephemeral pond form each winter.

Is being between full-time opportunities my ideal situation? No, not really. I would rather be contributing to a team, build clean and scalable code that performs useful tasks. However, there are much worse ways to spend a season than improving both my professional skillset and my house while still working through a challenging situation at home.

And that is just the big stuff.