Something to contribute

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It is the ultimate luxury to combine passion and contribution. It’s also a very clear path to happiness.
— Sheryl Sandberg

Two months ago I quit my job as user experience designer to help Dan with OCH and start homeschooling our son. It wasn’t super-clear to me how my skills could be of use to Dan and OCH. I am not a timber framer. I don’t have the physical strength to lift up a large board let alone a beam (it still astonishes and terrifies me that Dan does it regularly). Nevertheless, Dan was confident and optimistic that I could contribute. We discussed a redesign of the website, keeping up our social media presence, and helping to organize the paperwork.

We knew this new arrangement was something sorely needed by all three of us. Dan had too many hats to wear as business owner and couldn’t focus in all the different areas he needed to. Danny was existing in preschool but not thriving. And I went to my office job each day with the feeling that I’d left my heart behind me, and was going through the motions as an incomplete person, the majority of my strengths and interests untapped. Even so, the past two months have felt a bit haphazard as we flounder to find a new rhythm to our days and a workable division of labor.

So this past weekend it felt good, and helpful, and productive to invite a former colleague from my user experience design days to help us brainstorm ideas for refreshing the design and photography of the OCH website. Dan always says that if given the choice, he’d rather be cutting wood on his sawmill than doing just about anything else. But even he enjoyed our stand-up design session with sample wireframes, sketched out on Danny’s painting paper, taped to the shop walls that are criss-crossed with blue chalk-lines left over from laying out the scissor trusses on our most recent timber frame project. In the coming weeks, we’ll be introducing a new layout for our website that focuses on our core audience, more clearly communicates our message and offerings, and features the awesome photography of Chris Uhler, the aforementioned former colleague. We are so excited about this, and can’t wait for you to see it!

And I’m starting to realize that in the past two months I’ve actually relied on so much of--maybe most of--the knowledge I’ve acquired from past experiences. The website redesign makes use of my user experience design skills. Writing this blog has been helped along by my years as a manuscript editor. And homeschooling Danny is informed by my teaching training. This is a reminder to me that Dan was right, that I do have much to contribute to the well-being of my family and the success of Ogonek Custom Hardwoods. As the early fog of uncertainty clears, and spring starts to steadily creep its way in, I start to feel just a little bit better about all of this. Here’s to continuing this journey on the up-and-up.