Category Archives: Personal

Day 2 – How Have You Changed In the Past Two Years

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I suppose I HAVE changed in the past couple years. Lots of things have changed around me, and to a degree we are what we do, what we surround ourselves with and what we spend time thinking about.

I have changed jobs and employers twice over the past two years.

in 2014 I was learning to be a dedicated software developer – reluctantly learning the basics of JAVA, a couple different fairly robust modern content management systems (CMS), an aging database and more decrepit CMS , and basically figuring out how to tread water among a large team of seriously talented developers who could breath underwater.

In 2015 I became a UX designer for a company  in the healthcare B2B space, applying what I’d been learning the last couple years through reading, conferences, writing, schooling and outright leaps of faith. I was learning a new domain (Healthcare/hospitals), suffering withdrawal from leaving a great company with fun people with whom i had significant investment and learning to make do with a much smaller company’s practices.

I was learning to get over my fear of public speaking

I’ve never been fond of public speaking – to put it mildly. You could measure my pulse, temperature and degree of perspiration before and after being asked to contemplate getting up in front of people and saying something meaningful – and it would be obvious which was which.

A couple years ago I became aware of an opportunity for any old schmoe off the street to talk at CodeStock, a local developer conference in Knoxville.  I signed up for a lightning talk – a 15 minute stretch to talk about whatever you want and see what kind of interest was garnered by how many showed up.   No pressure, right? HA!  Getting prepared for that, and fighting through a sinus infection & sore throat to deliver the talk was one of the hardest things I’ve done… but guess what? The next time I had a chance to talk, it was easier to convince myself I could do it, and I was a TINY BIT less anxious about it.

So now that I know that treating public speaking like a vaccine is effective (small dose to trigger my natural defenses, capiche?), I’ve jumped at chances to talk in front of people since…

  • I’ve MC’d and help run conference events
  • I’ve led training events within several companies
  • I’ve presented project summaries and strategic plans to executive boards
  • I’ve given a 1-hour presentation to several hundred people (omg)
  • I’m doing more of the same later this year – glutton for punishment I guess

My daughter is 2 years older

I enjoy spending time with my kid.  Earlier in her life we had to keep the activities pretty simple, playing blocks or dolls or engaging in epic tickle fights… But now she’s getting pretty darned smart, and her creativity and attention span are growing in leaps and bounds.

I’ve really enjoyed teaching her the basics of art, now days she’s taken to joining me in the studio for some father/daughter drawing board time…

We have fun talks in the car – almost a Mr. Wizard experience… One of us will notice something and point it out – and I’ll provide some context for her and ask if she knows what something means, or why it is the way it is…. “No!” she’ll say – and we’re off to the races with questions and answers until we’ve reached the point at which a 5 year old or 42 year old will bail and change the subject or grow quiet.

I’ve become my preparation-centric parents

I’ve always been the type to say ‘we’ll be ok, bad stuff never happens anyway’ or ‘I’m careful, accidents won’t happen’ – throwing caution to the wind and just going about my days with minimal.

I suppose it’s partly a function of having farming/rural living in my family background, partly just getting older a smidge of healthy paranoia…. but in the last couple years I undertook to learn more about how we could become more prepared for a wide variety of circumstances.  Be it a power outage, contamination of the public water supply, or just bad weather.  Safety at home, in our vehicles and whilst out enjoying the natural world camping or hiking… these things have been on my mind the last couple years and not much beforehand.

I won’t say we’re 100% prepared for everything all the time, but we’re a good bit MORE prepared now than in previous years, and that’s something.

 

Enough for now…

Day 1 – Weird Things You Do When You’re Alone

As my lovely wife likes to say, I’m somewhat codependent. She works on cleaning out her office, I find myself drawn to tidying up as well, and so on. In this spirit I embark on a 30 day challenge to blog (just like she did), based on this list. Since I’ve never done that many entries in a row I suspect I’m doomed to failure – but it should be interesting nonetheless.


 

Day 1 – Weird Things You Do When You’re Alone

When I’m alone at home, I go one of two ways:

  1. I treat the house like my own personal Fortress of Solitude. I’m sensitive to noises, distractions, etc. and so sometimes when the house is empty I find myself able to focus more effectively.  Be it reading a book (particularly ones that take serious mental effort to follow), working on a project, or even just relaxing with television on the DVR or Netflix queue – the silence makes it easier to keep a higher fidelity mental model intact in my head and more fulfilling to experience.
  2. I dive into a frenzy of activity with no concern for potentially falling ladders, wet paint, sharp tools and implements lying around, hot beverages perched in inadvisable locations and music blaring loudly.  A fly on the wall might see me sprinting up and down the stairs, from one project to another in rapid fashion…(because who works on one project at a time, really?!? – ADD sufferer)

I always enjoy time alone at home, but after a while the quiet becomes TOO quiet.  The space becomes TOO empty, and I miss my gals.

When they come back though, I end up having to be all civilized – wearing pants and speaking out loud in complete sentences. Some days that’s asking a lot.