Around this time last year I sat with my wife to make some thoughts for this year, now known as 2014. A not so long list of resolutions for our family and personal life as well as for my WordPress business, known as “DECKERWEB”. So far so good. Total normal stuff.
As the weeks of this new 2014 went by nothing really began to start off, to take traction. In February or so I had the first feelings that something was not right. At that time I just couldn’t determine what that “something” was or could be. Just strange feelings and those doubting little voices inside of me.
In those first weeks of the year I had some great video calls with a close friend – where we talked day to day life, business strategies and all that stuff. Those were refreshing moments and hours. We made up our minds to help each other with our experiences and to encourage and to help make tough decisions in life. It turned out more and more that I was suffering in an unhealthy business relationship with another client. Encouraged by my wife and my friend I made the decision to end this relationship as soon as possible. It was a decision that growed almost two years inside of me – though I was not really aware of all those things. My friend helped me to reflect things of the past as well as the present and to see the bigger picture.
The “big moment” then was later in the year: I ended this mentioned relationship. At least I thought so. Shortly afterwards the trouble began. Nothing had ended, it rather felt like the start of a disaster. What followed I cannot lay out here for serious reasons. However, on one hand it costed me a LOT of money over the rest of this year but also gained very valueable life experiences. I went through the motions half of the year with these problems I thought I could not manage anymore. Down on the ground.
More and more I realized how many mistakes I had made over the years in many fields. It was a hard time to finally see this. Yet, it was the beginning of a journey to “resolve” these things. That’s a journey I am currently on, at the very beginning. You may ask, what are those mistakes? Typical business beginner failures of any kind that just got never revealed. Plus, being too “good-natured” to too many people. All, somewhat “small” things that sum up to really big and serious issues. And things like these can test you as a person plus your business if all is fireproof – or not…
And little did I know that more of these “fireproof” tests would came to me. Later in the summer I was terminated of a six year contract of a non-WordPress “side job” I had. Not that I had done anything wrong. The committee just decided to extend the contract for the next term with another staff member. That’s life. I accepted the decision and did not fight for it, I had not the power in those weeks for things like that. However, this job for a non-profit organisation was great and I had enjoyed it and it was a part of my monthly income. Beside the emotional thing the financially loss was felt soon (and still is) by us as a family. Now I asked the question how is it going on with my business and all? What should I do?
In somewhat hectic actionism I tried to fill in the lost job with other possibilities within the whole WordPress space. Only to find out days after being accepted by other businesses I had to resign because I had not the power and the time to really make it. It was a shocking and shattering experience. However, I saw no other chance as to make a step backwards, to make more steps forwards later on. It wasn’t the right time for these plans and jobs. I cannot serve other people and businesses if I am not ready myself.
On top of all of that, during the year 2014, I began to feel health problems. I called it “burnout symptoms” and I don’t know what it really was or is, but there were these symptoms: I had no longer the force, power and motivation to do any business work. I felt so weak, I could only sleep for weeks or walk through the forest with my little daughter. I wanted to update my plugins, release new ones or just make any client happy, but: I HATED ALL. I hated the computer, “WordPress”, plugins, “the web”, the phone, all. It was a hard time for my family to put up with me during those weeks and months. And not only the family… I guess I was a let-down to many of you. I regret it, really.
I was on this “business thing” for over 14 years now and it was the first time such things happened to me, though I had some minor crisis before, of course. But this time was different, I not only felt it, I just was really knocked out. Knocked out. Out of the game. It just came all together: a business crisis, a terminated side job contract, health problems, burnout symptoms, plus another episode, regarding WordCamp-ing.
In summer I wanted to take part in WordCamp Hamburg 2014, the “German” WordCamp. I even wanted to speak at a session and make a Lightning Talk. For the Lightning I prepared something special (which I may give to the community at a later point in time, stay tuned!). We drove to Hamburg by car with my wife and our daughter to take a few days off just to relax. It could have been so great! I was a the warm-up on Friday evening at a nice bar in Hamburg and already met a lot of my WordPress friends. It was a blast.
Coming back to our booked appartment later that evening I felt nervous. Our daughter had been a bit sick since the day before. It was getting worse. We could not calm her down. The next morning, I was prepared to just leave for the beginning of the first WordCamp day, our daughter cried and it was devastating. We really tried to comfort her, but nothing helped, then in the midst of crying she spoke one little word, “Home!” — Our heart just broke! Now my wife and I began to cry from the deepest of our heart. This little girl, with her one and a half year of age, never sick before, just spoke one of her first words and with so many emotion, we couldn’t help anymore! And the message couldn’t be any clearer to us!
In less than 30 minutes I packed our car, we left the appartment and went back to the Autobahn, to drive home, all the way through Germany, from the very north down to the south east. My wife sat at the wheel. I typed this sad canncelling e-mail message in my smartphone, telling my WordPress friends in Hamburg I could not be there at WordCamp and had to even cancel my two speaking spots, all before it really began… It was so sad, we cried. Still, we were so blown away by our little daughter and so totally proud of her. She always is an inspiration to us, a real heaven-sent! Five or six hours in the car; totally torn.
In all of this I am so thankful for Bernhard and the whole WordCamp Hamburg team to fill my speaking spots at the WordCamp and offer the attendees a great program. I heard nothing but praise for the whole event and even though I could not be there, I feld something of its spirit, weeks and months later! I am proud of “my community”, the German-speaking WordPress Community, a great bunch of people, not only from “Germany”! If you ever have the chance of visiting one of our Camps or Meetups, be sure to take the chance! :)
Later it turned out, it kept a year without WordCamps for me, though, I had plans to visit WordCamp Europe 2014 in Sofia. However, it just was to expensive for me this time around. Looking back at it from December of the year, maybe it was good this way. I had to learn other lessons. No distractions of any kind anymore…!
So yes, I am looking back over the last 12 months of my life and maybe I would say, it was a horrible year, so sad, so bad… Would I erase it? No, absolutely not! Compared to other people I know this stuff that happened to me is nothing, just nothing! I am even thankful for this year in some way. Yes, you read that right.
I discovered new sides of myself, my business, some friends and clients and of life in general. These experiences, good or bad, I don’t want to miss, they belong to my life, if I would want them or not, it just is all there. Without my wife and my daughter I could not have make it! Anna, my wife, is so supportive and encouraging, I cannot express it here. Without her, I would not be in WordPress and in business any longer, that is for sure. More than one time this year I was very close to throwing all this WordPress and “deckerweb” thing away! Anna kept me from doing it! She is the reason I am sitting here in front of the display of an awesome all new computer and a restructured, reorganized office space. She’s a blast! :) Christmas not only came very early this year, just call me a blessed man.
Also, in all of the above, my faith in God began to reinforce itself in many ways. God’s grace was shown to me in a lot of situations, ways, and especially people. My daughter Charlotte is one of them: she’s an inspiration! I am more than honored being her father and being privileged to watch her growing up – with her, every little day is a special day!
In fall of this year, we found out we are pregnant again and so expect another little inspiration sometime next year :). Therefore, deep in my heart, I am already prepared for another WordCamp-less year, finding me babysitting next to my desktop again, plus learning the business 101, even in my 15th year in business then.
Looking back two days before Christmas Evening (called “Heiligabend” in Germany) – always my favorite day of the year – I can only be thankful for another blessed year! Though the blessings in 2014 were totally different to what *I* had expected or planned, but sometimes the hard times tend to be the best times in your life, when looking back later on.
So, here’s to more WordPress-related efforts, bussiness happenings and building of deeper family roots in 2015 – but hopefully with more level-headedness than in 2014 and even more courage for radical decisions.
I wish you all relaxed holidays and a refreshing new year 2015! Let us all keep thriving :)