When the DBA is Deadlocked

When I launched The Noncluttered Index last year, it was with the intention of writing at least twice a week. For a while, that was very doable.  Then, work and my personal life ramped up at the same time. A sample of some of the things I was looking at were:

  • Writing a series of classes for business users at work learning TSQL
  • Working on fully automating replication
  • Taking over the patching schedule for all of our SQL Server instances
  • Becoming acquainted with several new technologies being used at work, which (among other things) necessitated a refresher of object-oriented programming  -just when I was beginning to recover from learning rudimentary Java
  • Being hit with the realization that it was definitely time to level-up my PowerShell skills when pair programming on a dev ops process for my rename/drop workflow made it clear that it was this way or the highway
  • My teenage daughter really needed more “mom time” (because, teenage daughter)
  • We got a ginormous Newfie puppy who needed time and training to become a lovable 160 lb. gentle giant rather than a chaotic force of nature
  • Some of my friends were ready to put in a missing persons report

The list goes on, but you get the idea.  Self-imposed or not, the pressure got to the point where it became nearly impossible to focus on anything beyond the immediate, right-in-front-of-my-face issues at any one given time.  Broader perspective felt next to impossible! I felt a little…..frozen.

For instance, I just could not seem to write.  Every time I would try to come up with a topic, a black hole would open up in my head, and I would just….freeze. Going out with friends during the week?  Wha?  I have too much to do!  Except I didn’t do any of it.  The same black hole kept me squarely on the couch.  I told myself I was recovering from the day.  That yes, I wanted to do more, to learn more technologies, to achieve, to grow as a professional and as a person.  And I would.  When I had time.  It would surely happen soon.

The mind can be ruthless in guarding its resources, supposedly in our own protection, but in this case, it was keeping me from things that I very much wanted to accomplish. You’ve probably seen the message “Process <blah> has been deadlocked on lock resources and has been chosen as the deadlock victim.” I realized this last year that this was what was happening to me.  I was deadlocked.

I started actively looking for concrete ways to get past my writer’s block and move forward, with not only my writing, but also with other goals I had “temporarily” laid aside.  I had read “Getting Things Done” some years ago and liked the organizational approach, but I am a person who needs inspiration or reward from time to time to keep me going.  Then I saw where Brent Ozar had written about his “epic life quest”.  As I read how he lists every idea, every goal, every bucket list item he has ever had and levels up after five significant achievements.  That spoke to me.  What if I did that?

I started making lists.  Personal lists. Professional lists.  Bucket list items. I started listing. Lose weight (yes, I specified how much, and no, I’m not telling you!).  Finish a blanket that I am crocheting and had “temporarily laid aside”.  Take my husband and daughter to see Virginia in the fall.  Return to Italy.  Speak at SQL Saturday.  Arrange five get-togethers with friends over the next several months. Become proficient in PowerShell this year.  Take a Pluralsight course on Windows server internals. Walk over 10 miles a week for six months.  Walk over 10 miles a week for a year.  Write 10 blogs in the next three months.  Scuba dive with whale sharks.  You get the idea.

Within moments, I had a long list!  Moreover, interestingly, the more I listed, the more creative I felt.  The more I listed, the more I felt back in control.  I found where I had left my enthusiasm.  This could definitely all be done.  I think the deadlock came from trying to keep it all in my head, rather than writing it down and getting it out of my subconscious.  Whatever the clinical reality was, it was freeing.

I have started to work on my list.  Many list items are in progress, but I am excited to announce that I have achieved one major goal!  I was selected to speak at SQL Saturday in St. Louis on February 8th.  It’s a fabulous opportunity to get out there and interact with the community, and stretch myself professionally as a speaker.  One major item down!  Four more to go before I progress to level two.  I’ll keep you informed, as returning to writing is on the list, and if any of you are in the area, meet me in St. Louis on the 8th.  Please come up and say hello.  I would love to meet you!


  1. Good luck with your first SQL Saturday. I’ve done a few now, mostly up here in Canada, but it can be intimidating going into the speakers room and standing side by side with who you believe are SQL superstars. They are all humans who want to help.


    • You aren’t kidding when you say there will be some superstars there, but I have had the chance to meet a few of the better known speakers out there, and to a person, they have all been very welcoming and helpful. I hope that if I am well received, I’ll have the chance to pay it forward.


      • I got my opportunity to know some personally because I went on SQL Cruise/Tech Outbound (Tim Ford) and got to know people like Grant Fritchey and Kevin Kline. I’ve also been to many PASS Summits and know them from there. Just have a great time and encourage feedback to help you for the next time and there will be a next time

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a difficult constantly changing career. I look at it a both a love affair and a cancer. Getting the balance right and keeping ourselves healthy is a VERY BIG Thing. Thanks for sharing your experiences.


    • Thanks, Chris. I chose this career in part because I hate being bored, and I would always be learning. I am learning more than I ever bargained for, and hope this helps others as well.


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