2021: A year of rolling with it

In 2021, I have become a father, bought an RV, and spent 6 months off work – the longest period away from my job since I was 15.

An advice that I quite often give is to accept reality as it is and act accordingly, instead of demanding it to improve. We took our own advice this year and it has been paying dividends.

COVID has disrupted our carefully crafted jetsetter lifestyle full of travel and exotic destinations. We interpreted it as a signal to start a family and adopt a dog. We always talked about getting an RV to travel with the whole piszek gang, so we bought one as well (Hilariously, the conversation forked from the tough task of buying a baby car seat. After all, if we’re buying a seat, we have to get one that will fit both the car and the future RV).

Two years of consecutive lockdowns and travel bans later I now recognize, how lucky we were to implement all of those plans at once without dillydallying. Instead of clinging to hopes of our past lifestyle returning, we were able to enjoy a new, quite awesome one. Many people came to the same conclusions 6 months later, only to be met with years-long wait times for the RVs.

One sliver of my glorious globetrotter past is my Star Alliance Gold status, which I managed to retain, despite two years of being grounded. We will see how long I can keep up the charade.

Parenting

The first lesson my best friend gave me about parenting was:

The key is to have no expectations. The moment you start expecting anything, you have lost

On one front, I have internalized these wise words. I promised my daughter not to coerce her too much and I think I have kept that promise, to our mutual benefit.

I am known to dabble in self-development, so many of my friends assumed I will put my poor child through “educational” apps, experiences, and toys. So far, I have been able to treat those with utter indifference, allowing Ewa to direct her learning herself. I hope to continue that trend.

The area where I made too many assumptions was the curriculum of my parental leave. As I mentioned before, I am fortunate enough to work at a company that gives all parents 6 months of paid time off. This probably deserves it’s own post.

Caring for a 6-to-11-month-old turned out to be much more of an involved affair than I hoped. It corrected my prior assumptions about what goals I’ll be able to accomplish, but it also gave me so much context about women’s and primary caretakers’ role in society. I have so much more respect for both of those groups now.

My wife always suspected she would leave her job after we’d start a family, and I wasn’t entirely sold on the idea. I always felt it was a little presumptuous – maybe I wanted to share the day-to-day of wrangling family life, maybe being a stay-at-home-dad was my future and should deserve an equal chance?

After experiencing it, I am now fully convinced that my strengths lie elsewhere. There are probably endless jokes about clueless men, but I really gave it my best shot and spent precious moments with my baby. Still, meaningful contributions at my work feel much more effortless whereas playing with the same toy for the nth time is just exhausting. I am deeply grateful that it’s the other way around for my wife.

If 2021’s theme is to accept the new reality and roll with it, then us scaling down the spending and me becoming a sole provider is probably the way to go, at least for some time.

Health & Fitness

Getting a better handle on my health was one of those goals of my parental leave that I failed to achieve. Despite close to 200 workouts, my weight barely moved. Maybe it staying still despite pizza, pasta, and wine is a win after all.

In the end, I think I didn’t really care enough about that goal. My mom put me to shame this year:

My new resolution for 2022 is to take it seriously. I’ll begin with a habit of eating mostly the same things – trays of baked veggies & chicken thighs

Memorable experiences

  1. So many smiles of my baby girl. Digital photography is a blessing, and observing the changes of the little cheerfull creature living under our roof is the best thing ever.
  2. My Wife and I managed to approach (almost) all challenges as a team, and the Baby strained our relationship like never before. We strived to play to our strenghts, and ensure everybody’s needs are met, with no bookkeeping, and grudges. I hope we manage to keep it up or even get better.
  3. Exploring Europe with our RV – particularly small towns and mountains of Southern Tyrol, strolling through charming (and quite empty) Venice, Swimming in lake Garda (and many others), and enjoying Italian sunshine, tomatoes and wine,
  4. Visiting friends abroad was much more fun than expected. Every time I do it, it feels a little bit of a hassle, but am very happy afterwards. I wish I reached out to my Munich friends one day sooner to enjoy Octoberfest with them,
  5. We invited a goat to our remote meeting at work. I am really proud of it
  6. Zooms are fine, but finally meating my team in Mexico was such a great experience – we realized how amazing of a fit we are, and I remembered how I miss flying (and turtles),
  7. One day before our meetup, I manage do squeeze in Scuba Diving in Cozumel Coral reef – the second biggest in the world. I hope to scuba more in 2022
  8. Helping to organize a Solarpunk Art Contest, resulting in some amazing submissions

My work

When I stepped back from the annoyances of day-to-day for six months, I realized that Automattic is quite an awesome company and I have been doing great, challenging, and fulfilling work. Over the years, I have been fortunate to work on projects critical to our mission a couple of times, solving complicated problems with friends.

My only concern is bureaucracy bloat that can be inevitable with the company growth, but we’ve been fending it off successfully so far.

My writing

Throughout 2021 I have managed to keep up my posting schedule, managing to publish at least one post per week. Only in the last stretch – November, and December, I have failed to keep up due to parenting responsibilities. That is why I am so determined to publish this post today, on January 1.

Two of my posts ended up on top of Hacker News, bringing quite a bit of traffic to my site:

It seems that I have developed a bit of a framework to getting featured in this community. I also re-took the Write Of Passage writing course, which I still endorse wholeheartedly. If you want to work on the inner game of blogging, developing your ideas, and the substance of your writing, this continues to be the best resource out there.

Till September of last year, I was running two blogs: Deliber.at, where I would write about self-development and making your life deliberate, and Piszek.com, where I would put all my other writing. The reason to have Deliber.at as a separate entity was my hope of turning it into something bigger and more focused – a project that could stand on its own.

This year, I decided to limit my concerns, and roll everything into Piszek.com. Now, all my writing is unapologetically a personal affair, touching on a variety of subjects. I feel freer now to pursue my curiosity, and if you want to tag along – you are more than welcome!

I hope 2022 to be the year of Leisure.