We had the good fortune of connecting with AmyLynn Arrington and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi AmyLynn, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I started my career in education and I was incredibly passionate about my work. As a special education high school teacher, I worked long hours in service to my students and their families. I knew the work I was doing meant something, and even on the most difficult days, I could honestly say I loved my job. The drawback to that work was it truly never ended. Going home at the end of the day didn’t mean the job was done. There were still hours of outstanding paperwork, phone calls, meetings; once I became an administrator, I was also fielding the emergencies that often landed in my lap. It was both fulfilling and draining, and after sixteen years, it was clear I needed a change. My job used to be a large part of my identity, and it was difficult to let that go. If I wasn’t the passionate, dedicated, above-and-beyond Ms. A, who was I? What value did I carry?

It wasn’t until I left public education that I was able to understand I didn’t need to be a martyr to my job in order to be successful. In fact, allowing myself to start a new career gave me more room to learn who I was, and allow my work to support my life – not the other way around. Now, as a full time software developer, I’m able to work remotely, enjoy flexible (and humane!) working hours, and I have the time and energy to pursue my other passions. This is how I was able to partner with a friend and create Babes Bikes Beards, an inclusive motorcycle community which holds events and rides in the New England area. I applied and earned a spot to build a custom motorcycle in the 2019 Greasy Dozen Builder’s Collective. I purchased a van and built my ideal tiny home on wheels. I work 100% remote now and travel all over North America, mostly chasing the sun. None of these things could have been done if I were still an educator, working intense hours for little pay.

I wish I could tell my younger self that she didn’t need to suffer in order to be successful and have worth. Instead, I pass that message on to other young folks I meet. Having a job that allows me to balance my life and creates space for creativity and connection is incredibly special, and I can’t imagine doing things any other way.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
In a chat with my mentor back in 2015, we discussed what I might do if I weren’t in education. I shared that I always had a love for tech, and could see myself working in a start up in any number of roles. I’d been playing around with code for as long as I could remember and was always introducing new technologies to my students. The reason this conversation stood out to me so much was because of her response. “You know you’d never be happy doing that long term.” I sighed, agreeing with her in the moment, but she was wrong. Even then, not wanting to disagree with someone I trusted, I knew she was wrong. I had tried to walk away from teaching for a long time. I had interviewed and been offered jobs in private tutoring, pharma-sales, advertising, and marketing. I was too afraid to make the leap, until the leap was forced upon me. At the end of my educational career as a school leader, I worked in an intense environment that took a significant toll on my mental health. Think a PTSD diagnosis, therapy, sleep studies and ongoing neurology appointments. It simply wasn’t worth it any more.

I took a month and applied to every tech role that felt like a good fit. I found an amazing opportunity within that first month. I don’t consider it luck because it’s my versatile skill set that landed me a role. Teaching, and especially teaching alternative and special education, builds you a skill set rarely found in other professions. I think nurses deserve a shout out here too. When you’re expected to do highly skilled work under pressure for extended periods of time, and you can thrive in that environment, imagine how you can perform when you’re not drained of all your resources? Over time, I turned my part-time role at a web development bootcamp into a full time role as a software developer.

I went from my work being my life, to having my life be supported by my work. I work fully remote and because of that, I travel extensively. I have the freedom to do my job beachside, in the desert, on my porch, with my dogs, truly anywhere I want. I love being full remote and can’t imagine ever doing anything else. I love building software and the daily challenges I’m presented with. I love feeling like I’m in control of my time, my health, and my professional growth. My fantastic former boss once told me “You don’t have to be a martyr to be good at your job.” I held onto that sentence as I worked through the shift from ed to tech. I did it, and others can too.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the
best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.

I’m such an outdoor kinda person, that when I travel, I’m always looking for a great spot to hike or ride a motorcycle. South Mountain Park and Preserve is a spot I always hit when I’m in Phoenix. I’ll also try and stop into Ramjet Racing Performance Cycles. Last time I was in the area they had what I needed to repair my bike when my shifter link on my Harley snapped several miles outside of town!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’m blessed to have an amazing community, both in New England where I own my home, as well as all over the US (and beyond). My parents and brothers are a constant presence in my life, and I have so many friends I call family. While it would be incredibly difficult to name everyone who has helped and supported me along the way, I wouldn’t be where I am nor who I am without the ongoing support and encouragement of my best friend Elyse. Not to mention she helps care for my dogs and chickens when I’m on the road!

Website: https://www.babesbikesbeards.com/

Instagram: @BabesBikesBeards

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amylynnarrington/

Image Credits
Photo 1: Kim Maroon

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.