Emma, Florence, and Glastonbury

Emma Barker was bright, kind, fierce, funny, sunny, infectious, and a bundleĀ of hope.Ā 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 inĀ DĆ©jĆ  Vu. We stayed out lateĀ and, at an after hours lock in atĀ 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 carriedĀ her guitar around with her. As we passed people, some wouldĀ shout, “Give us a song!” and she didn’tĀ hesitate to oblige. She would never pass up the opportunity to sing or dance or let loose in any way.Ā It wasĀ just a few months ago.

That night, I could sense thatĀ something wasn’t right and Emma was on my mind a lot after. IĀ wish I couldĀ have said the right wordsĀ 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.Ā A week after her funeral, I found myself at Glastonbury.

175,000 peopleĀ piled into Worthy Farm to pitch up their tents for the festival. That’s moreĀ 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;Ā wavingĀ back at the Dalai Lama as he passed in a car; discovering newĀ music like that of Ibeyi; seeing the lobsters come out for their Lord, Lekiddo;Ā Kate Tempest’s Hold Your Own; a Lionel Richie flash mob;Ā the atmosphere as I walked around;Ā Arcadia’s spider spectacular; the love of music that was everywhere.

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

“Take off anything you don’t need, any fears aboutĀ this weekend, wave it for the person that broke your heart, wave it for the person you love. This weekend you are released!” wereĀ the lastĀ words of Florence’sĀ performance and, with them, she finished singingĀ 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 makeĀ 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 onĀ my mind. I’m going take inspiration from Emma, Florence, and the people I encountered atĀ Glastonbury to try to beĀ more open, to let loose, and to be less afraid of falling.

glastodance

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One Year at Automattic

I’ve been workingĀ 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 describeĀ the company to people who aren’t familiar with it becauseĀ Automattic isn’t normal by most standards: We all workĀ remotely and are spread out across over 30 different countries.Ā On my team alone, there are people basedĀ inĀ 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.Ā Teams within AutomatticĀ also have in-person team meetupsĀ every few months. I’m hoping to blog about each of these experiences over timeĀ but, for now, I’ll just say that I’m more than grateful for the chance I’ve hadĀ to travel and explore other placesĀ so freely.

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

Here’s hoping forĀ many more years to come, even if my Mum does still joke that I need to get a “proper job.” šŸ˜‰

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 putĀ that right. šŸ™‚

Happy New Year, all!