Review of the Year

I have enjoyed reading other review posts, and I thought it would be nice to look back over what has been an exciting and difficult year.

Professionally this has been a really great year. At the beginning of 2013 we made the decision to stop doing client work and concentrate fully on our product, Perch. We didn’t renew our office lease and returned to working from home – having an office and working regular business hours stopped making sense with an international product based business.

We have released a huge number of updates to Perch and the first party add-ons. Our new demo system and sites went live in the middle of the year and we even upped the price of the product to reflect the much increased scope of what it now can do. We are continuing to grow as a product business and have some lovely customers, our “Perchers” have been instrumental in helping us to succeed. We asked yesterday for feedback for our 2.4 release and it is amazing how many people have taken the time, just before Christmas, to get in touch with their hopes and ideas for the product.

I have spoken at 14 conferences or events in 6 countries, had a pocket guide published by 5 Simple Steps, a chapter in the Smashing Magazine book 4 and begun writing a column for A List Apart. I am well through the writing process for my first self-published book which should be available in early January 2014.

On several occasions this year I have been able to volunteer as an speaker for The Prince’s Trust. I started edgeofmyseat.com back in 2001 with the help of The Trust. Going to speak to the young people who are hoping to start their own businesses is both a privilege and a way to give back to the organisation that had faith in me as a young mum with an idea for a business.

Personally however this has been a tough year. Back in the snow in January 2013, I slipped while out training for the London Marathon, landed on a straight arm and shattered my elbow. You can read the whole sorry tale in posts on my fitness blog. At first I thought that, given a few weeks, I’d be back to normal. However almost a year later I am still struggling with the repercussions of going running in the snow.

The original operation to reconstruct my elbow took 6 hours and involved inserted a lot of metal. I’ve been seeing a physio once or twice a week ever since however I still have a very limited range of movement in my right, dominant arm, and a reasonable amount of constant pain. I have set my main computer up with a split keyboard and arm rest, however my right hand has something of a mind of its own and I tend to introduce more errors than valid code. I’m actually better working on my Air or iPad as I can work more or less one-handed and don’t need to move my arm. I drop things without realising it, a symptom of some minor nerve damage, although in that regard things could be a lot worse.

Five weeks ago I had another three hour operation to remove the metal to see if it will help with the lack of movement and pain. The initial operation had involved sawing off the end of my elbow to get into the shattered part. This time they went in through the tricep muscle, cutting straight through. I am not a weak lady, I have strong arms, having my tricep compromised in such a way is weird. I’m only just able to push down on a door handle to open a door, five weeks post-op!

We were incredibly fortunate that we had moved away from client work before this happened. Had we the packed schedule of client projects of previous years, we would have struggle with me out of action. I’ve been able to be productive this year – even when typing one-handed. To some extent it has forced me out of the code and into a more strategic role, perhaps I will look back in a year and see how valuable this is, but I still struggle with seeing anything other than writing code as work and feel I’m not pulling my weight.

I am back to running. I achieved a personal best in the Ealing Half this year, I have my deferred place in the London Marathon in April, training starts next week and I’ll be running to raise funds for The Prince’s Trust. I am hopeful that, as I recover from the recent operation, there is still some improvement to be had in terms of range of movement in my elbow. I certainly hope it will stop being quite as painful.

Of course I’ve not been alone through all of this, Drew and my teenage daughter have been brilliant, keeping my spirits up and teasing me about the destruction I leave in my wake as I try to get on with things. With Drew and I working together as well as being a married couple he has had to pick up the slack both at work and at home. I’m not used to accepting help, and that is perhaps another lesson I’ve had to learn this year.

I’ve also had so much support from my friends in the web community. I’ve always felt it a bit useless, when someone is ill, injured or going through a tough time, to tweet or email and express sympathy. What could that actually do to help? You have no idea how much all the tweets and messages I received over those first few days in hospital after my accident helped. There is often nothing we can physically do to help our friends online, who may be thousands of miles away, but just knowing people are thinking about me and wishing me well was a huge boost at a time I was feeling pretty awful.

It’s been a funny year, successful for the business and in my professional life. Tougher than I could have imagined personally. However I am looking forward to what 2014 will bring.

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