It has been a minute…

by Chris Winfield-Blum  - June 15, 2024

Wow, it is really hard to believe that it has been 3-4 years since my last article. I have written other content (such as announcement posts at Thrive Themes) but nothing that was personal or about other topics that I am passionate about.

Rather than trying to cover four years in a single article, I thought I would try to summarise what has been going on; there's some amazing, life altering updates coming so let us get started!

FAMILY + COVID

When I last wrote my son, Jaxon Alan, was only 5 months old and we were locked down in Makati, Philippines (along with Ericka's sisters) due to COVID-19. It was a very cozy 18 months, with 4 adults and a new born in a one bedroom apartment!

Thankfully we all get along very well so we managed well enough. It was a challenging time for everybody of course and I am thankful that I was one of the fortunate ones to have already shifted to remote working.

Partially due to COVID and partially due to our desire for Jaxon to go to school in Australia, we decided to migrate back to Adelaide in 2022. It was an exciting time and we have settled into life very well. Ericka loves the lifestyle of Adelaide and definitely the food.

It is great to be close to my family and friends and I am happy to see Ericka build up her own group of friends too. While the Philippines will always be important to our family, Adelaide is home now.

We are also expecting our second child on the 31st of July 2024 and cannot wait to meet the little one. Ericka has been great, although she's now at that "get it out of me" stage. We have two more months until our family is complete but we're very very excited!

CAREER RE-ALIGNMENT

Around the time that COVID landed upon us all, I was working as the Chief Operating Officer at InspireTek and was working a ridiculous number of hours to keep everything moving in the right direction. I had also accepted a part-time position with Thrive Themes for some financial security. As a new Dad expenses were increasing and as a tech startup, InspireTek didn't feel 100% safe at the time, given I saw COVID getting worse, before it got better.

It was during a team meeting with InspireTek that I had a moment of clarity that I was not in the right place to "be the Dad I wanted to be", and I was missing out on valuable time with my new family. I felt that the more flexible, reduced stress of Thrive Themes made much more sense for me, given my new found (and long sought after) family situation; so I sadly resigned from InspireTek and went full-time with Thrive Themes.

As a result of this change in mindset and role, I feel extremely grateful to have not missed any of Jaxon's milestones; I was there when he first walked, talked and everything else. Over the first four years of his life he has only woken up maybe one month in total without me there to greet him and play with him in the mornings.. that is special and I am so incredibly thankful.

The truth is that I love contributing at a high level to an organisation and being a part of their results and I was really worried that stepping back from a C level role (or a leadership role in general) that I would feel less invested and less satisfied. However, my concerns were mostly misplaced, I like to think that I've found a great balance in my life overall.

I have been pleasantly surprised at how much pride and enjoyment I feel when we release a new version of the Thrive Themes plugins and I see the communities excitement about features and updates that I was involved in or outright designed.

Awesome Motive

In January 2023, it was announced that the co-founders of Thrive Themes, Shane and Paul, had agreed to be acquired by Awesome Motive. It was a pretty big shock to everybody working at (or with) Thrive Themes but I took a positive outlook on what this would mean for the company and our future.

Awesome Motive represented an opportunity for everybody and the chance to grow our products and customers into the future with renewed energy and organisational support.

I moved into the Operations Manager role and have definitely enjoyed the extra responsibility along with the ability to collaborate with other brands under the Awesome Motive name on common interests or needs.

Passion projects

I start passion projects for a number of reasons from a desire to help others through to a keen interest in technology and a desire to experiment and keep my knowledge up to date and over this time I did kick off some amazing passion projects such as My Reflections, My Meeting Planner & Medication Timer. 

You can click through and get some of the details if you would like, and any feedback is always welcome of course;

A game with multiple game modes based on my son’s love of all things planets

active, android, capacitorjs, ios, pinia, tailwind, vue, webapp

Jaxon’s Universe

An app to help manage medication intake and temperatures of sick family members

active, android, capacitor, firebase, ios, marketing, pinia, pwa, vue, webapp

Medication Timer

A platform to connect professionals with mentors and manage internal mentorships

100ms, active, api, laravel, marketing, stripe, webapp

MentorPlace

A simple free app to help cross-region teams with finding suitable meeting times

active, dayjs, firebase, pinia, tailwind, vue, webapp

My Meeting Planner

An app for personal & professional growth by developing structured self-reflection habits

active, cloud functions, firebase, marketing, pinia, pwa, vue, webapp

My Reflections

For the love of Travel

Despite all the changes going on professionally and personally, this has also been a time of travel and adventures. There have been a combination of solo vs family trips, domestic vs international destinations.

It's been amazing to have so many firsts for our family over the past few years.

I have a travel page specifically setup that I will be adding content for over the coming weeks but here's a little summary;

  • We had several trips to Sydney with my sister and the fam there
  • I flew to Romania for "Thrive Camp" in 2022. On that trip I also got to spend a little time in Scotland+England on the way and a week in Paris+Mont Saint-Michel (which was amazing!)
  • We drove to Robe, South Australia for a week
  • We drove to Mildura, Victoria for a spontaneous road trip
  • I flew to Cancun, Mexico for the Awesome Motive retreat
  • We did a once in a lifetime trip to Europe between July and October in 2023 visiting; Turkey, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Scotland, England, Italy, Malaysia, Philippines.
  • We drove to Robe, South Australia for a week with some friends and all the kids
  • I flew to Cancun, Mexico again for the Awesome Motive retreat but this time I was able to visit Mexico City before and then Ecuador after 

Given we're expecting our second child soon and we are trying to be a little more frugal with our money, our travel is going to slow down over the next few years, but it has been fun and I'm excited that we got to experience Europe together as a family. I will put together a summary of our trip with tips for families travelling on longer trips in the near future.

Tips for effectively managing stress
My son inspired me to publish my first book

Chris Winfield-Blum

Software enthusiast, operations & project manager, MBA graduate, team builder, creator, developer, writer and father.

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