Themers in a Photo โ€“ Grand Meetup, 2017 Edition

A few weeks ago, Automattic held its annual Grand Meetup. That’s where the company I work for gathers together in one place for a week to strategize, work and bond. Every year, we throw a party at the end of the week, complete with a photo booth. Piling into the photo booth (or in this case, photo area) has turned into one of my favorite things.

Many themers posting in a photo both, holding signs, silly props and wearing funny masks and faces.

Of course, we also took a serious one.

Group photo of the Automatic Theme Team

Between all the work, I had a bit of fun too. A few nice hikes, plus a ride up a mountain in a gondola. We saw a bear! Although, I didn’t snap a great picture of it. One of these days I’m just going to move to the mountains because I love it so much. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s to another great year at Automattic, surrounded by awesome colleagues with a worthwhile mission!

Anna Ruby Falls in Georgia

Recently, my family and I visited Anna Ruby Falls in Georgia because my daughter, Skye, wanted to see a waterfall. We saw not one, but two, and it was lovely!

Quitting the Internet

Comedian Aziz Ansari on quitting the Internet, deleting a number of apps like email, Twitter and Instagram from his devices:

… Whenever you check for a new post on Instagram or whenever you go on The New York Times to see if there’s a new thing, it’s not even about the content. It’s just about seeing a new thing. You get addicted to that feeling. You’re not going to be able to control yourself. So the only way to fight that is to take yourself out of the equation and remove all these things. What happens is, eventually you forget about it. You don’t care anymore. When I first took the browser off my phone, I’m like, [gasp] How am I gonna look stuff up? But most of the shit you look up, it’s not stuff you need to know. All those websites you read while you’re in a cab, you don’t need to look at any of that stuff. It’s better to just sit and be in your own head for a minute. I wanted to stop that thing where I get home and look at websites for an hour and a half, checking to see if there’s a new thing. And read a book instead. I’ve been doing it for a couple months, and it’s worked. I’m reading, like, three books right now. I’m putting something in my mind. It feels so much better than just reading the Internet and not remembering anything.

I keep thinking about these words because I identify with them a lot. Ironically, I read them after clicking a link on Twitter, but I have been trying to cut back recently. Yes, that’s a link to me saying that on Twitter. I recognize this isn’t looking good for me right now, but progress happens one step at a time.

I’ve noticed as I’ve cut back more, my appetite for more purposeful reading has increased and my creative energy has felt freer. “Being in your own head” more has a way of making that happen. I started to walk and run more recently โ€” I think as a way to literally walk and run away from the screens. I crave that space. I’m going to keep heading in that direction, small step after small step. Purposeful seems much better than aimless.

The Next Chapter for Themes

I wrote a post over on ThemeShaper all about what’s next for themes. This paragraph sums it up well:

Customers want their sites to look just right. They donโ€™t want to learn a theme. So when the new age of themes begins, promise me youโ€™ll focus on what they want. You wonโ€™t get distracted by the many different ways to extend this new editor or become mired in all the ways to prevent the abuse of customizing it.

Running, Again โ€“ Maybe

I used to be a runner.

That was in high school โ€“ a long time ago. I tried many times to start running again, but it never stuck. I realized in college that what I missed most about running was the team I ran with. I couldn’t replicate that though, despite running in groups and trying different programs. Lately though, I’m back at it, and feeling more enthused about running than I have in years. My secret? Low expectations!

That sounds lame, but here’s what I mean. In the past, I’ve had my eye what’s next in my running program, not what I’m doing now. So if I was running during my first week, I was thinking about next week, where I should be and how I should get there. Instead of just enjoying a run or two. Now, I’m focused on how I feel, my form and getting to know running again.

Granted, Ive only been running for a week, mixed in with the bodyweight strength training program I’ve done since the beginning of the year. But it feels fun again for the first time in a long time. Two things that have helped are the book Running for Health and Happiness by Jason Fitzgerald, and his companion blog Strength Running. The advice has been simple and practical โ€“ just what I need.

I’m looking forward to seeing how things develop in the next few weeks when I have my running shoes on.

Focusing on What Matters

Tim Kadlec gave a powerful, recent talk called Focusing on What Matters that you should watch. It touches on the three areas of the Web that we web workers often overlook or neglect: accessibility, performance and security. Yet, those end up being the factors that have the most impact on the people using our products and services. We have the ability to unlock the Web for everyone โ€“ if we focus on the right things.

The Future of Underscores

A few days ago, I published a post on ThemeShaper about the future of Underscores. I loved seeing coverage on WP Tavern about it, and even better, I went on the WordPress Weekly podcast to talk about it, and the future of theming.

Related: Underscores was my first open source code contribution, so I’m as excited as anyone to see it continue to be something the WordPress community relies on. ๐Ÿ™‚

Update: I wrote some more about retiring products, specifically Components.