Rocks stacked on a beach

Balance by Cherice used under Creative Commons

This is a highly personal blog post that is beyond what I would normally put on this blog. I am sharing this because I think there might be some of the readers who have faced some of the things I am going to talk about, or might face it at some time in the future. Also many of the people who read this blog are my friends and close co-workers and honestly this is the easiest way to tell some of them what I have to say. I will return to my usual blog post style very soon.

Last week I got to attend Microsoft’s Techready conference, which our twice a year our internal version of TechEd. You go to Seattle for a week and get access to many of the product teams and the Technical Evangelists for training. There are also a lot of side parties and events like Game Night and an attendee party. You also get to hang out with your co-workers both local to you and those across the globe, many that you may have never met face to face before. It is a great event, expect for the 5-7 days that you spend away from your family. This last week was especially hard because Thursday was Valentines Day and it was also Jodie and I’s 8th wedding anniversary. It was a tough week and on Friday I was glad to be headed home.

I had a lay over in Minneapolis / St Paul on Friday for a couple hours and I called to say goodnight to the family. During the conversation Jodie told me that my 7 year old son, Hunter, had been talking with his grandparents (my mom and dad) and told them:

Dad picked work over me, that is why he is in Seattle

So you can imagine how I felt: kicked in the gut to say the least. I know that I did not pick work over him and that travel is a necessary part of of my job (and many people’s jobs). But that is very hard to explain to a seven year old and I guess to a child of any age until they are closer to being an adult. Jodie had talked to him about it and tried to explain it to him. I spent most of the day on Saturday with him, and it was nice. But I honestly think that I need to make some changes in my priorities. I am going to have to “dial back” how much time I spend on the road and more than that, I have to switch from “tuning out the family” to work (picture me on the couch with the laptop while the family is watching a move) to just flat out turning off work during family time.

I am still very committed to visiting customers and community groups in the district that I cover (Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana). I just need to be smarter about when I take on a trip that will have me away from the family for long stretches of time and when I am home I need to unplug from work (I am very bad about that). I am taking the first step by not going to MIX in March. It is going to be a cool conference, but I can get a lot of the information on the web (I am putting a blog post together telling you how to get the most out of MIX without actually going to Vegas).