Daniel Roy Greenfeld

Daniel Roy Greenfeld

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Ten Years Ago Today

Ten years ago today I acted on a decision to change my life. It was unbelievably hard to do, but thanks to family and friends I got through it.


On the surface, my life looked wonderful. I worked at NASA, spent a lot of my free time at the gym or playing table-top games, bicycled 100-150 miles a week, posted on my current blog a lot more frequently, had been doing Python professionally for three years, and Django was still brand new to me. My career was going forward and I was excited. In theory, the future was bright.

In reality I was desperate. I was in a poisonous relationship. I'll not write down the details but suffice to say I was absolutely miserable.

At PyCon 2009 (my second PyCon) I came out of my shell and embraced the community there. It was uplifting and I realized that my working at NASA wasn't just a fluke, I was worthy enough to have the respect of people from around the world. And that respect was eye opening to me. I realized that there might be a world out there where people valued me.

May 5th, 2009

Ten years ago today (May 5th, 2009) I said goodbye and walked out into the rainy night. I had a backpack of clothes, my work laptop, and my wallet with not much money in it. I went to my gym and stayed the night(I had keys). While I was there I called a few family and friends and told them what I had done.

The Months That Followed

It wasn't easy to move forward, and there were times of desperation. I was in a terrible financial state (monies owed plus legal obligations) and bitterly angry for having not walked away years earlier.

Yet thanks to family and friends I found my way to a happier, more stable, and more productive life. I've paid most of them back one way or another. Those who I haven't paid back I've done my best to pay their assistance forward. They inspired me to help others improve their careers and lives.

The Years That Followed

At PyCon 2010 I met and fell in love with the first love of my life, Audrey Roy Greenfeld. I moved to California at the end of 2010. In 2012 we started writing books together. We married in 2013. Together in January of 2019 we had a baby girl, Uma Roy Greenfeld, the second love of my life.

I've improved my family relationships. Even when we're clashing I can tell them that I love them.

I lost many of my old friends and made new ones. Losing friends hurt, especially when I know I'm at least partially responsible. I can be a jerk at times and there were years of lingering bitterness from the days before May 5th, 2009. I've been reaching out to old friends, but it's not easy. On the other hand, I have wonderful new friends.

Professionally my career has gone well. I've freelanced, worked for startups, and some big firms. My current job at Octopus Energy is exactly where I want to be.

Lessons Learned

  • Don't stay in poisonous relationships. Find the strength to move on. The people who truly care about you will help.
  • Pay people back.
  • Pay it forward.
  • Help people when you can.
  • Surround yourself with people who reinforce your best qualities.
  • Take more pictures. Below is the only photo I have of the Arlington, Virginia bicycle trails that I loved to ride to and from work. Missing is the Potomac river, cherry blossoms in spring, snow in winter, autumn leaves, and so much more.


Tags: pycon family friends
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