Friday Feb 23
My Divine Comedy and InfoSec Purgatory: Personal notes from JJ
Updated on Monday, 5 January 2015 09:02

I’m writing this blog post tonight to share some thoughts, and perhaps solicit some entertaining (if not useful) feedback, which is sure to be the outcome. It’s a new day, a new week and a new year, and I’m ready to expose a few of my more inner thoughts and realizations in hopes of earning your support and, if not your support, perhaps your empathy as a matter of entertainment.

blog-findingmyself-marilynRealizing my activity in blogging has been, well, more so an IN-activity as of late, I’ve felt this welling of random thoughts that I must share, lest I burst like an overfilled water balloon. In response to several inquiries and thoughtful emails from people — both known friends and you random, fantastic readers out there that still find amusement in my sparse ramblings – I submit to you this, my “WTF” blog post on my Divine Comedy. What’s going on? Where have I been? Why am I not writing? How did I arrive in hell?

Well, the story goes like this: During the height of my technical writing, my content was contracted to several media outlets, and in admission of complete failure on my part, many times I lacked the follow-through to post the content here for you to find. Error number one; lesson learned. Then, well, life happened. Things got busy, I committed. Perhaps I over-committed on more than one occasion, but I did so with good intentions, full vigor, and complete follow-through on all accounts.

But then something else happened. I can’t even properly communicate to you what’s transpired in my little pea brain, because I don’t understand it myself. First, when I found a few spare moments, I neglected blogging; almost intentionally but yet somehow subconsciously. When I dug in my self to explore that more, the answer that emerged was “I no longer like my blog theme, and I haven’t the time to rework it.” Yeah. That makes sense, why not. So, I went with that, for a very, very long time. Too long, in fact.

Then spontaneously one day, I made a few tweaks to the blog theme that rendered it less hideous and more pleasant to my eye; and at that point wrote a couple of posts, out of guilt more than anything else. Guilt? Why do I feel guilty about not writing a blog post? As I sit here tonight, I don’t mind the back-end maintenance so much. Hell, the new WordPress version is named after Dinah Washington; how could I not be overjoyed to partake in these updates? I’m drinking a cab and enjoying soft music and the sweet aroma of lavender incense, songs of Dinah in my head and ears.

Finally, just very recently, it hit me. Actually if I’m being honest (which I am now, as I partake in glass #2 of a lovely Cabernet Sauvignon) it hit me as I was nearing final preparations for my new keynote debuted at BruCon this year, back in August/September. What hit me was that I was stuck in a no-man’s land.

Truthfully, I’m still stuck here. It’s like purgatory for the technically-inclined. Call me Dante in Part II. At some point in the last 18 months, my goals changed, my focus changed, my passions changed, and most of all, my attitude changed. My dreams of two years ago have few similarities to those of late, and in the midst of confusion and lack of clear paths forward, I’m not handling it as well as I might hope for myself. Enjoy the foreshadowing of my blogging habits.

What changed? I want to help people. Yes, I know; “hug a tree”, “adopt {$something}”, “volunteer {$somewhere}”, “find a hobby”. Don’t get me wrong, I always wanted to help people; I wanted to help them understand the technical intricacies of infrastructures; I wanted to help them understand planning and implementing security; I wanted to help them sift the actionable from the mundane data. But now, I want to help people in a different way. I want to help them enhance their lives; I want to help them enhance the lives of others; I want to help them build teams, develop trust, and create meaningful action that will change our industry. And through these actions I think a new, stronger, more effective breed of professionals will emerge — not through my work, but through the work of each professional committed to growth. This growth may be propelled through some instigation and incite from me and others that are like-minded; I’m not the only one. When I say “I” in these contexts, I refer to not me, but to all like-minded professionals of our field, for there are many, and I am one. “I” want to join the “we” of meaningful action.

A deep breath as I step off the soapbox, and move along. This brings me, finally, to the answering of some of your questions. Where have I been, and what have I been doing? We can cover those in my 2014 Year in Review. Why haven’t I been writing? Ah, here’s the crux of the matter. WHY? I could blame being busy; I could blame my distaste for my blog site theme; I could blame my dogs, or my work, or … anything. Or, everything; and apparently I did just that.

But the reality is I’m straddled; split-weight between two mindsets and mind-goals. Most of you know I have spent many years as a competitive dancer. The one thing we teach in all dances, at all levels, is to commit. “Commit” means to commit to a foot- to put all your weight on one foot or the other. You never want to find yourself straddled, on split-weight. In this position, as you decide which way to go, you are not poised for a clean movement in either direction, and any movement from this position will create imbalance. You must move the weight off the second foot, on to the primary foot before you can progress forward. Moving from split weight is impractical, it’s clunky, and it is nearly impossible when dancing to a fast rhythm.

And yet, here I am – stuck in my purgatory, split weight between my foot holdings of “technical” and “management”, or some semblance of management that falls just shy of tree-hugging but incorporates teamwork in to every inhalation.

What’s a gal to do? On one side, I’m still preaching and teaching the good book of packets; the technical nature of networking, wireless, critical infrastructure and cyber-stuffs. On the other side, my passion draws me toward more business-oriented topics – ones that incorporate leadership in its truest meaning, along with trust and action. What I’ve come to realize is that many people are focused on the more technical nuances of our profession. And, in fact, many are quite good – as good, or even better, than I. “So”, I ask myself, “do I continue my efforts in these crowded technical veins and capitalize on my knack for explaining technical concepts in common terms, or do I branch out- put my weight on that other foot – and pioneer in areas of management which are under-served in our industry?” My reputation and career have been built on technical prestige; dare I burn down the house of comfort which hath sheltered and nurtured me for so many years?

It seems the answer is “yes”. I made my first move- my first commitment- at BruCon with the debut of “InfoSec Life Lessons from Dr. Seuss” where several stories were turned to fodder for life lessons for professionals of all guilds. That was my first step, and I hope to keep making more. The resources available to us are myriad. And of course, there’s no shortage of trolling and jesting either, but I finally feel prepared for that. And so I trudge on, trying to spread the light of leadership throughout the lands. If my efforts are in vein, I can at least claim a noble cause.

Oh, but so back to your question – why haven’t I written? Well, what would I write about? As I try to move toward my new cause and passion, I find myself with an audience of one content type, and a desire to apostle a new message.

Since no one holds you captive here, my friendly readers, I assume I’m under no obligations for content of specific topics and may change direction at any time. Yet, this has been my truss.

In short, to quote Marilyn “I’m trying to find myself. Sometimes that’s not easy.”

With respect, and hopes of your support no matter the foot I press from,