Now we’re already 11 days into 2024, I think it’s about time to finally get this type of blog post out and also a good opportunity to dust this blog and give it a fresh start!
2023 has been quite a year for me, with both ups and downs and some remarkable personal growth along the way. I’m in a completely different situation than last year and to be honest, happier than ever. But before we dive into the now and future, let’s take a look at 2023.
2023 started with me sorting through my stuff, selling stuff and packing everything for the big move. It happened as I closed a personal chapter and it was time to move on. And I took moving on very seriously and moved across the country, back to the area where I grew up. I got pretty sick for a week during that time, but somehow I managed to get everything done. You sometimes have to kill perfection if you run out of time…
This was the big month of moving and closing the chapters, January was just the prelude. I decided to skip WordCamp Asia in Bangkok, as it would have meant being away for about a week when there was so much to do getting sorted in my new apartment and get everything ready in the old apartment. Everything worked out in the end, but the real work was just waiting for me: unpacking the moving boxes again. And building up the entire kitchen, as in Germany, kitchens are not part of apartments most of the time.
As I continued to settle into my new life, a very nice event happened in March: Cloudfest! It was my second time there and I really enjoyed this year’s project, meeting old and new friends, and just having fun. My team won the “Dream Team” award, but these awards are just secondary. Getting out of the everyday life and working with fellow developers that might not even be your colleagues is really refreshing to do. Especially if you work remotely and rarely have anyone else sit next to you!
During my birthday month, I decided not to travel and further work on my apartment. I finished my bedroom, went on many walks, and had some delicious ice cream. Cause there’s a very good gelateria in a very short walking distance here. 🍨
May continued like April ended, there wasn’t much happening, except for one big thing: WordCamp Germany, which was originally planned to happen in Munich, had to look for a new location anywhere in Germany, as it became too expensive. I also finally joined the local WordPress meetup group again and got back into the WordPress community after a break in the past couple months.
June kicked off with a big announcement: The release squad for 6.4, the last release of 2023, had been finalized and I became one of the two Default Theme Co-Leads! To be honest I had not expected this, when I signed up I was just like “any role is fine, just put me somewhere where I can help” and given my past experience in the 5.6 release and having a style variation accepted for Twenty Twenty-Three, it felt like it was meant to be.
The second big milestone was during Contributor Day at WordCamp Europe in Athens, the budget for WordCamp Germany got approved, which meant that it was officially ready to be organized!
And the third big thing in June was me being part of the Women and non-binary folx in WordPress panel at WordCamp Europe. Francesca had invited me and I was very happy and proud to have shared the stage with such wonderful people, having a great discussion. Only me forgetting what I wanted to say because I was following the discussion was not on my bucket list to happen on stage 😅
July had no travel planned but my free time was full with all things WordCamp Germany: building a team, organizing the tasks, getting everything sorted, reading documentation, having too many questions, facilitating the weekly meetings and so on. The timeline was tough with the event happening in October, but in July, I was still optimistic that it would be doable.
August started as July ended and became the month with the biggest low: Extendify was ending my contract. I had been given the notice four weeks until the contracted ended, so in between continuing to work, keeping the organization of WordCamp Germany running, I had to look for a new job too.
I also travelled again, this time to Washington D.C. for the Community Summit and WordCamp US. Probably the coldest event I’ve ever been at and that during the summer on the northern hemisphere. Had to go outside to 30 °C weather to warm up and was constantly wearing three layers of clothing, as the air conditioning was set to “winter at north pole”. Apart from the winter feeling, the Community Summit was a great experience, discussing topics on a higher level than usual. I met old friends and new people again and had a great time. On the Contributor Day, we were finally able to release the designs of Twenty Twenty-Four to the public and it marked the day we kicked off working on the next default theme.
September wasn’t a fun month at all. My work contract ended and I continued to talk to various people about job opportunities. Meanwhile organizing WordCamp Germany became an even harder job as things weren’t going as expected due to various circumstances. And Twenty Twenty-Four contributions were going on full speed as well, where I thought there were only four weeks to get it ready (until Beta 1 at the end of September). I also travelled to WordCamp Netherlands, mostly for the job hunt, but also a bit for the fact it happened again at Burger’s Zoo, which is probably the coolest location for a WordCamp ever.
Since I already had three weeks in September without work, my days were anything but boring. The contributions kept me quite busy, so I decided not to join a new company directly in October. I continued as an mostly unsponsored contributor and I was awarded the Yoast Care Fund – thank you to Yoast and my dear friend Carole for nominating me! Twenty Twenty-Four got together nicely, with realising that we could use more time to fix the bugs and patterns/templates, it got a bit less stressful on this part.
October was the month for WordCamp Germany, happening from October 19 to 21. It was the first WordCamp in almost four years in Germany, the first being officially titled as WordCamp Germany and it had the biggest contributor day at a German WordCamp ever. Yes, getting it organized wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but it was a great opportunity to see if this format would work as the organizing team imagined it. It worked out nicely and I’m proud of the entire team, as well as Birgit Olzem, my co-lead whom I worked closely with on this entire project. The feedback from attendees, sponsors, speakers and volunteers was amazing, so thank you everyone who made it happen!
In November it was finally time to slow down on the contribution side, at least after WordPress 6.4 got released on November 7. This first week was filled with last minute fixes, helping out with the About page (that page you get redirected to after updating to a new version) and translating 287 strings for Twenty Twenty-Four to German the evening before the release day, because no one had done it so far. The perfectionist had joined the chat again…
With all the hectic weeks before the 6.4 release, I was really happy to see so many people being excited about Twenty Twenty-Four. I’m not sure if there has been any other default theme that was so well received. I’m really glad I worked with Maggie on this project together, she was a fantastic co-lead!
But November also was the start of a new chapter as I joined Greyd as a WordPress developer. There was so much input in the first month, I really had nothing else going on for the rest of the month. I needed the rest and my brain was too full with all the new information anyway.
And suddenly, it was December. I finally reached a state of rest that I had not been in for quite a while, if not even the entire year. Nothing much happened, I continued to get into the code of the Greyd products and settle into my position. Working together with my new colleagues has been amazing so far and I’m glad I made the decision to join them!
Already in November I had started on contributing to a secret project. I can’t tell anything about it just yet, but by the time it will be ready, I’ll let you know about it.
December 21st marked the last day of work for me, with the company Christmas party happening in Munich afterwards. After that I returned home the next day and went into a two week vacation doing absolutely nothing. Well I did a few life admin things, but I mostly read books, played video games and avoided the computer. It has been a few years since I last did this and I really enjoyed it!
While a few things are already planned for 2024, I’m excited to continue working on cool stuff at Greyd, we might be able to share some stuff soon.
Travelling-wise I’m most excited about WordCamp Asia in Taipei, Taiwan, which has been on my bucket list for years. But I’m sure WordCamp Europe in Torino will be a blast too, can’t wait to eat pasta all week! Speaker applications will be sent this week too, fingers crossed one of my talks will be accepted this year. I’ve had several years of rejections in a row, after my talk in 2020 that I delivered from home and that very early lightning talk in 2016. Just looking at the numbers they are four years apart, so it’s about time again in 2024 I guess?
I haven’t really decided yet how much I’ll contribute to WordPress this year. A few things are on my list, but I still need to get a clearer picture of how I want to spend my free time and potentially some time at work for contribution.
And in case you’re wondering what happened to the moving boxes… I’m down to two of them that are still left in my apartment, which is mostly finished now. I hope to get these sorted this month. They’ve been hauting me all year 😅 And sorting out the basement will also be another challenge.
Overall, I’m happy how 2023 evolved and really look forward to 2024. Hoping for less downs and even more ups, but I feel like the initial position at the start of the year is already pretty good!