#Reverb10 Day 28: Achieve

Note: This is the twenty-seventh in a month-long exercise called Reverb10, where bloggers reflect on the year before and think towards the year ahead. The idea is to post daily, based on the day’s prompts; let’s see how well I do.

Prompt: Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.

There’s much in this prompt that I plan on answering in my personal journal, but not here. What I will say is this:

I’m ready to find a full time position with a team that’s doing some really cool stuff. Specifically, I’m looking for a high-level position in UX Design/Strategy, Art Direction or Design Strategy that will let me focus on solving interesting problems alongside a great team, and less on running a business day to day. While I love running a business, and some would say that entrepreneurship is in my blood (case in point: I launched a new side business during my job search), I want to find an environment where I can learn from people who are better than me.

That’s what I plan on achieving this year. Along with getting closer to my degree, and moving towards a Master’s. And it’s going to feel really damn good when it happens.

#Reverb10 Day 27: Ordinary Joy

Note: This is the twenty-seventh in a month-long exercise called Reverb10, where bloggers reflect on the year before and think towards the year ahead. The idea is to post daily, based on the day’s prompts; let’s see how well I do.

Prompt: Ordinary joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?

Most of my moments of greatest joy come from either learning something new, or from recognizing the answer to a problem that’s been sticking me. Examples:

  • The moment I finally finished my first notebook prototype and realized that I’d not only solved a problem that I’d been having for years (wanting one notebook for both personal and work notes), but I had something that could be turned into a side business;
  • Learning LessCSS this year, and knowing that it would change how I design websites – for the better – forever.
  • Seeing a particularly sexy bit of code, and knowing exactly what it does.
  • Helping a client discover what it is they’re really doing, who would benefit most from it, and helping them develop a positioning strategy and brand that connects the two.

Sometimes it takes some work to find the joy, but it’s always there. It’s part of what I do, and one of the many reasons why I love what I do.

#Reverb10 Day 22: Travel

Note: This is the twenty-second in a month-long exercise called Reverb10, where bloggers reflect on the year before and think towards the year ahead. The idea is to post daily, based on the day’s prompts; let’s see how well I do.

Prompt: Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

Last year, I was lucky enough to go to San Francisco for the first time, for Drupalcon. I met a bunch of great people, learned a ton, and (of course) had amazing food. I also got to travel to Philadelphia again this year, for a conference with my husband. We go down to Philly every other year or so, and I generally spend my time wandering around Rittenhouse Square drinking coffee and writing while Nick learns about voice quality.

Then, of course, there’s Brooklyn. Every year, I head down to NYC for the Fancy Food Show, and hang out with my buddy Tricia Okin of Papercut. Not only do we get to wander around during the show, trying amazing food and talking to the folks who make it, she takes me on a new culinary tour of Brooklyn every time I’m there – for which I am eternally grateful.

In 2011, I’m looking forward to visiting Chicago for the first time (again, for Drupalcon – hopefully as a speaker!), and visiting DC again for this year’s Fancy Food Show. Eventually, I’m also going to head back to the Berkshires to finish up my yoga teacher training at Kripalu – something I unfortunately wasn’t able to pay attention to this year.

IMPORTANT EDIT: I totally forgot, somehow, about ITALY! I went to ITALY THIS YEAR! For my honeymoon! Yep. Pictures below, in fact.

<p>The Cheesemaking Shephard (who walks his sheep by the farm every afternoon) lives just up the hill from the farm. At 5am, we got up on a very chilly day to visit him, and sit by the fire as he made his cheese.<br />
<br />
After milking the goats and sheep, he heats the milk in a large iron kettle on the fire. Once it gets to about body temperature, he adds a bit of rennet (taken from a lamb`s stomach) to the milk and takes it off the heat. After a little while spent stirring it with a big stick, the curds separate from the whey in this huge clump, which he puts into a mold and starts squeezing and shaping, getting out all of the whey that`s left, until it`s packed tightly into a mold. Then he covers it with salt and lets it age for a few months, after which it becomes Pecorino (like you`d put on your pasta!)<br />
<br />
After the Pecorino is done, he puts the rest of the whey onto the fire again and brings it up to a boil - which is how he makes Ricotta (re-cooked) cheese. This he scoops into another mold and lets age for a while, sometimes over the fire to make smoked ricotta.<br />
<br />
We grabbed a small wheel of pecorino to take home for only 10 Euros, and another big piece of smoked ricotta, which we ate at the farm. I`m not joking when I say it was damn good cheese.</p>

Visiting the Cheesemaking Shephard - 08

The Cheesemaking Shephard (who walks his sheep by the farm every afternoon) lives just up the hill from the farm. At 5am, we got up on a very chilly day to visit him, and sit by the fire as he made his cheese.

After milking the goats and sheep, he heats the milk in a large iron kettle on the fire. Once it gets to about body temperature, he adds a bit of rennet (taken from a lamb`s stomach) to the milk and takes it off the heat. After a little while spent stirring it with a big stick, the curds separate from the whey in this huge clump, which he puts into a mold and starts squeezing and shaping, getting out all of the whey that`s left, until it`s packed tightly into a mold. Then he covers it with salt and lets it age for a few months, after which it becomes Pecorino (like you`d put on your pasta!)

After the Pecorino is done, he puts the rest of the whey onto the fire again and brings it up to a boil - which is how he makes Ricotta (re-cooked) cheese. This he scoops into another mold and lets age for a while, sometimes over the fire to make smoked ricotta.

We grabbed a small wheel of pecorino to take home for only 10 Euros, and another big piece of smoked ricotta, which we ate at the farm. I`m not joking when I say it was damn good cheese.

<p>The Cheesemaking Shephard (who walks his sheep by the farm every afternoon) lives just up the hill from the farm. At 5am, we got up on a very chilly day to visit him, and sit by the fire as he made his cheese.<br />
<br />
After milking the goats and sheep, he heats the milk in a large iron kettle on the fire. Once it gets to about body temperature, he adds a bit of rennet (taken from a lamb`s stomach) to the milk and takes it off the heat. After a little while spent stirring it with a big stick, the curds separate from the whey in this huge clump, which he puts into a mold and starts squeezing and shaping, getting out all of the whey that`s left, until it`s packed tightly into a mold. Then he covers it with salt and lets it age for a few months, after which it becomes Pecorino (like you`d put on your pasta!)<br />
<br />
After the Pecorino is done, he puts the rest of the whey onto the fire again and brings it up to a boil - which is how he makes Ricotta (re-cooked) cheese. This he scoops into another mold and lets age for a while, sometimes over the fire to make smoked ricotta.<br />
<br />
We grabbed a small wheel of pecorino to take home for only 10 Euros, and another big piece of smoked ricotta, which we ate at the farm. I`m not joking when I say it was damn good cheese.</p>

Visiting the Cheesemaking Shephard - 06

The Cheesemaking Shephard (who walks his sheep by the farm every afternoon) lives just up the hill from the farm. At 5am, we got up on a very chilly day to visit him, and sit by the fire as he made his cheese.

After milking the goats and sheep, he heats the milk in a large iron kettle on the fire. Once it gets to about body temperature, he adds a bit of rennet (taken from a lamb`s stomach) to the milk and takes it off the heat. After a little while spent stirring it with a big stick, the curds separate from the whey in this huge clump, which he puts into a mold and starts squeezing and shaping, getting out all of the whey that`s left, until it`s packed tightly into a mold. Then he covers it with salt and lets it age for a few months, after which it becomes Pecorino (like you`d put on your pasta!)

After the Pecorino is done, he puts the rest of the whey onto the fire again and brings it up to a boil - which is how he makes Ricotta (re-cooked) cheese. This he scoops into another mold and lets age for a while, sometimes over the fire to make smoked ricotta.

We grabbed a small wheel of pecorino to take home for only 10 Euros, and another big piece of smoked ricotta, which we ate at the farm. I`m not joking when I say it was damn good cheese.

<p>We were lucky enough to visit the Farmstay during the grape harvest, which meant that we ended up getting to watch them making the wine in the late afternoon. The farm makes both white and red wine, and they also help the entire town make their wine for the season. First the juice gets pressed, and then poured directly into huge bottles that are left open in the garage for about a week or three. Fermentation happens almost immediately, and nothing is added to it; as Giussepe says, "zucchero naturale!"<br />
<br />
The winemaking process is pretty wacky, actually; basically, the whole thing starts foaming, and the foam starts spilling over the top of the bottle. That`s the fermented, nasty bits, which Giussepe removes by hand until the mixture is ready to cap. Once about a week or two has past, he covers the top of the bottle with a cut plastic bottle to keep bad things out of the wine and the wine ferments naturally for a few more months.</p>

Making the Wine - 08

We were lucky enough to visit the Farmstay during the grape harvest, which meant that we ended up getting to watch them making the wine in the late afternoon. The farm makes both white and red wine, and they also help the entire town make their wine for the season. First the juice gets pressed, and then poured directly into huge bottles that are left open in the garage for about a week or three. Fermentation happens almost immediately, and nothing is added to it; as Giussepe says, "zucchero naturale!"

The winemaking process is pretty wacky, actually; basically, the whole thing starts foaming, and the foam starts spilling over the top of the bottle. That`s the fermented, nasty bits, which Giussepe removes by hand until the mixture is ready to cap. Once about a week or two has past, he covers the top of the bottle with a cut plastic bottle to keep bad things out of the wine and the wine ferments naturally for a few more months.

<p>We were lucky enough to visit the Farmstay during the grape harvest, which meant that we ended up getting to watch them making the wine in the late afternoon. The farm makes both white and red wine, and they also help the entire town make their wine for the season. First the juice gets pressed, and then poured directly into huge bottles that are left open in the garage for about a week or three. Fermentation happens almost immediately, and nothing is added to it; as Giussepe says, "zucchero naturale!"<br />
<br />
The winemaking process is pretty wacky, actually; basically, the whole thing starts foaming, and the foam starts spilling over the top of the bottle. That`s the fermented, nasty bits, which Giussepe removes by hand until the mixture is ready to cap. Once about a week or two has past, he covers the top of the bottle with a cut plastic bottle to keep bad things out of the wine and the wine ferments naturally for a few more months.</p>

Making the Wine - 07

We were lucky enough to visit the Farmstay during the grape harvest, which meant that we ended up getting to watch them making the wine in the late afternoon. The farm makes both white and red wine, and they also help the entire town make their wine for the season. First the juice gets pressed, and then poured directly into huge bottles that are left open in the garage for about a week or three. Fermentation happens almost immediately, and nothing is added to it; as Giussepe says, "zucchero naturale!"

The winemaking process is pretty wacky, actually; basically, the whole thing starts foaming, and the foam starts spilling over the top of the bottle. That`s the fermented, nasty bits, which Giussepe removes by hand until the mixture is ready to cap. Once about a week or two has past, he covers the top of the bottle with a cut plastic bottle to keep bad things out of the wine and the wine ferments naturally for a few more months.

#Reverb10 Day 17: Lesson Learned

Note: This is the seventeenth in a month-long exercise called Reverb10, where bloggers reflect on the year before and think towards the year ahead. The idea is to post daily, based on the day’s prompts; let’s see how well I do.

Prompt: Lesson learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

I will note that these are getting much harder to do as the month goes on; that said, I appreciate the discipline, and am trying to think of it as meditation. *ahem*

The summer before my senior year of high school, I got my first job – at Clean Water Action (CWA) in Providence. For three summers and one brutally cold winter, I travelled to various neighborhoods in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts, and I walked door to door, convincing people in their homes to give generously to the organization’s goals, which focused on tougher environmental protection laws.

The job was physically demanding – I spent five hours a day walking, five days a week – but the exercise was invigorating. Most importantly, I found I was really good at the job. Having been studying theatre, I was well equipped to put myself in the situation that these folks were in, and I was able to craft my “pitch” according to what I knew would resonate with the folks I was speaking to. It was incredible practice, that has fed into every single area of my career to this day – hence, my interest in human-focused design.

Why am I discussing an experience I had in high school in the context of lessons learned this year? Because of bricks.

As a canvasser, one of the things that you learn quickly is that people say “no” a lot. Not only do they say no, some people are incredibly rude about it – or worse, they keep you there talking, pretending to be interested, just so they can waste your time. At CWA, we called this “carrying bricks.” Each “no” is another brick, and you have to make the choice whether you’re going to keep carrying those bricks – making it harder to get to the next house – or drop them and move on, looking for the people who are going to get it.

Because I didn’t carry bricks, I was one of the most consistent canvassers CWA had for three summers – and I loved the job. For six years running a design studio, I didn’t carry bricks in my business development process – and I was successful in keeping the studio running, and profitable, for all six of those years.

This year, in my shift from business owner to employment candidate, I realized that I’ve been carrying bricks, hardcore. Mind you, this is a brutal environment. Plenty of places are hiring, but the candidates they’re looking for seem to exist in this magical alternate universe that leaves us brilliant-but-normal types in the dust.

After a particularly disappointing bit of feedback from a place that I was really excited about joining, I found myself doubting everything I knew to be true about myself. Then I realized that it was a brick. A brick that I’d been carrying for months, along with all the other bricks that I carried from all the other rejections I’d gotten from places that just didn’t get me. When faced with a brick, what do you do? Do you throw it at the offender’s window, or build a wall with it to protect yourself?

Neither of those things actually help matters. Petty larseny only leads to trouble, and building a wall only hides you further – which is no help during a job search. The only thing you can do is leave it where it is. Drop it out of your bag and keep moving. Eventually, you’ll find the place that gets it, and you’ll know it’s right.

I haven’t found it yet, but I know it’s close. The more clarity I get on what I really want to do, the closer I get to the goal – and the more people I meet who actually get it. It’s a really, really good feeling.

#Reverb10 Day 14: Appreciate

Note: This is the fourteenth in a month-long exercise called Reverb10, where bloggers reflect on the year before and think towards the year ahead. The idea is to post daily, based on the day’s prompts; let’s see how well I do.

Prompt: Appreciate. What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

This year being one of great transition for me, the biggest thing that I’ve come to appreciate is the vast support system I’ve developed over the years, both personally and professionally. My husband is the best partner I ever could have hoped for, and I’m blessed to have a couple of close friendships that have spanned over a decade now – something I never would have thought I’d have in my 20s. I also have a network of professional colleagues who have helped me grow in ways I can’t begin to describe – from solving sticky Drupal problems, to talking through a tough business situation.

Without turning this into an awards ceremony speech, a couple of folks have been particularly helpful this year:

  • Ben Buckman – Drupal developer of awesomeness, who generally donates his brain to help me figure out sticky Drupal messes;
  • Claudio Vera – who listens to me vent about all sorts of business and life issues;
  • Tricia Okin and Matt Reed – who came to the rescue during our wedding, and always give me a friendly couch when I’m in Brooklyn;
  • The ladies of New Leaf Legal, who have seen me laugh and cry more than most people in my professional life, and don’t think any less of me for it. I think.

I appreciate these folks more than I can say, and I can only hope that I can repay their generosity in kind.