I am stealing this topic from two sources. One is a tweet I just saw from Jose Chinchilla (@SQLJoe on twitter) where he announced “Blog post coming soon: “2000-2010 a Decade in Retrospect” Milestones in my personal life and career: A wife, 2 daughters, #SQL and Twitter.” The other is an idea that Janice Lee (@JaniceCLee on twitter) talked about in one of my favorite professional/personal development posts of the year, “Are We There Yet?

Jose and I then chatted about this and decided to invite others to do the same. If you are interested in wrapping up your decade (or just the year), discussing your milestones and seeing how far you’ve come, then write up a post this week or next and tweet about it with the twitter hashtag: #2k10WrapUp

I just did my wrap-up of the year but I failed to remember that it is a decade closing year. It’s been a busy 10-12 years for me. I wanted to deconstruct where I’ve been.

The First Two Decades Of Mike

In brief – I was a kid. I was 20 or under. Had an interesting childhood and had to grow up pretty quick as the oldest kid in a single parent family with strong animosity between our parents and all sorts of court related “issues” involved. I have a love for the pawns in the game of chess as a result 😉

I dropped out of High School towards the end of my second decade, was working in a simple wage earning job that allowed me to have a pretty irresponsible and directionless lifestyle. I always liked computers and tinkering and I was always told by teachers, adults, colleagues, managers, etc. that I had amazing potential but wasn’t doing anything to live up to it. Yeah yeah yeah, I said. Party On!

By this point I didn’t: Have self respect , Care about what happened to me, have a wife or kids, do anything intelligent with my money, have a relationship with Jesus, realize I was a fool while thinking I was wise, know how to spell SQL let alone understand relational database concepts, etc.

Somewhere in the midst of the end of the last two years of my second decade and the start of this, things started changing… Fade to…

What a Change!

You’ll have to give me some license here, I’ve really been working with SQL for a little bit more than the last decade, some of these events happened right at the border of two decades – I’m 32 so I’m almost going back 12 years for some changes.

So what happened to me this “decade”? “Milestone” type events are bolded.

I met a girl at work. I really liked her. She liked something about me but it would never go beyond that if I didn’t change my lifestyle and grow up. It’s a corny quote from a cornier movie but she made me want to be a better person. So I stopped doing most of the irresponsible stuff, I stopped partying. I got a clear head for the first time in a long time. We started getting more serious. I went to night classes to finish what I needed and finally earned my High School diploma around the age of 20 or 21. I applied to and accepted a position as a tech support team member for an ISV. I took an instant liking of this database thing they kept talking about and wanted to learn more. I started reading and learning a lot about SQL Server and quickly became the go-to guy for database questions on the tech support team. Meanwhile, the relationship with this girl I worked with was picking up and we were having more serious conversations and I was starting to get to know her family. I moved out of the apartment I shared with roommates who were still into the partying life into my own. Back at work, I realized I was not doing as much with SQL as I wanted so I managed to land a job working as a Junior DBA reporting to Andy Kelly (yes, SQL Server MVP and guru Andy Kelly). What a great opportunity to learn and grow! My SQL career was on its way.

Back to the personal life with myself and Megan. Her family were Christians and dragged me to their church a bit. Around this same time I started thinking that the existentialist philosophy about life I’d adopted was full of holes. I started asking honest questions and finally started getting good answers with thought and love behind them from Christians. I Spent some time talking with their Pastor and finally came to a realization that there is a holy standard of perfection and that I was so far from it. I believed that Jesus died for me and that His sacrifice bridged the gap between my sinful nature and a Holy God and I accepted the gift of salvation. I started living my life differently even more out of love for Jesus. I started desiring things I would have never desired on my own (Time with church family, reading the Bible, sharing my faith, growing closer to and learning more about God and His Son). Our relationship started picking up also. Fast forward a couple job changes (.com bust, skill set growth, etc.) and I asked her to marry me. She laughed at me. There was a yes hidden in there but there was laughter.

We got married. We bought our first house. She inspired me to start talking to my father again (we had been estranged for the previous 15 or so years.. last time I saw him was in a court room at that point, when I was a kid on the stand and he behind his table with lawyers) and I started a great relationship with my father and his side of the family. We sold that first house at the right time for a price we thought we’d never get. We built what we thought was our dream house and soon had our first child, a daughter. We’ve had two more (both boys) since then. We moved to a new church with the house move and I’ve taken a 3 year walk through the Bible with Faith Bible Institute, a great video based course presented at church 3 hours on Sunday nights. I’ve been meeting great Christian friends in the SQL Server Community since then. Speaking of SQL Server Community, I’ve gone from taker only to taker and contributor. It feels great to be able to Blog, Speak and Volunteer to help see others who are starting their careers out. I’ve met many great friends through the SQL Community, through church and job opportunities and have really been trying to look up for satisfaction instead of to look around and that perspective change has really caused more growth in my life than most other changes (though having kids and getting married sure did make changes!).

Don’t let that fool you. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve done stupid things still and probably will always do both as long as I live. 🙂

I shared a bit more about some of the changes Christ brought into my life at church a couple years ago. This was my true first public speaking opportunity. The Pastor has a 10 minute message in the beginning then I am talking for 20 minutes. Audio quality is a bit quiet so may have to increase volume a bit but it goes into many more details about some of the personal changes that came. My Testimony At Church

If You Asked Me 12 Years Ago…

If I would have done these things. If I would have been anything other than a lifer at that job, blowing my paychecks on silly recreation and selfish desires I would have called you an idiot. If you told me I’d be a Christian serving the very Jesus I told crude jokes about, I might have stopped talking to you. If you told me that one of the greatest joys in my life would be coming home to the older kids screaming Daddy! (on those nights when they do) and feeling their claws grabbing at my feet, I would have laughed you off. If you told me that people would ever read anything I wrote I’d look at you like you were crazy. If told me I would have no problem standing up in front of a group of strangers and speaking to them about any topic, I would have reminded you about why I failed 11th grade Communication class.

You Don’t Notice The Snow Piling Up

I made a comment like this on Janice Lee’s blog post I linked above. If you put a lawn chair out on the ground and sit in it during a heavy snow storm, you’ll never really notice the snow accumulate. It just sort of happens while you are there. If you go inside and don’t look out at all and you finally look out towards the end of the storm, that’s when you’ll notice it. Life is like that. When you are living it, you don’t feel yourself getting “older”. You don’t feel yourself getting “wiser”.  You don’t realize you are changing because to you, who live each second as it happens, there aren’t any big changes (apart from my salvation, most other changes were gradual and even the journey there was a gradual arm wrestling match within myself). If you stop today and consider where you were at some point ago and compare that with today, I am confident that you’ll be amazed. I am shocked. Shocked. Just looking back at where I was “only” 10 years ago and where I am now. I also can tell you that I don’t think I would change many of my experiences because they all brought me to where I am now.

I don’t write this to brag about any of it. Most of the positive change in my life didn’t even come from me! It came because of a Sovereign God and His plans for me. No. I wrote this because I really want you to take a look at where you’ve been and how far you’ve come. Face it, we are growing up even if it happens while we are too busy to notice it.

How About You?

Sure, we may disagree on faith and we are free to have that disagreement. We probably have very different pasts and different presents (though, if you are an Oracle person over a SQL Server person, I’d politely ask you to leave… oh fine, you can stay). Either way, I’d love to hear how much you’ve changed over the past 10 (or so if you are close to an age with a zero) years. I’m curious to know if you’ve changed as much as you realized you had before you started thinking about it?

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