Tagged: Stuff I’m Doing

What I’m Looking Forward to in 2013

Last week I posted my review of 2012. This post talks about what I’m looking forward to about 2013.

Settling in to Our New House

We were completely done moving into the new house by the end of October, but we’re far from being completely settled in. Our two spare rooms have stacks of unpacked boxes. My half of the home office is setup, but we’ve barely started on Sherri’s half and there are stacks of stuff to be sorted all over the place. That said, the rooms that are setup are looking awesome. Oh, and I’m very much looking forward to our first Spring and Summer here so we can see what blooms in the yard. Hopefully we’ll be able to plant a veggie garden this year as well.

Making Progress on My Asthma and Chronic Cough

Moving to the Pacific Northwest has not been great for my health. A short-while after moving to Portland, I started experiencing severe respiratory allergies (to dust mites and mold) and an increase in asthma symptoms. In fact, my symptoms were so slight prior to moving to Portland, I didn’t even know I had asthma or allergies! The allergies manifest mostly as congestion and decrease in breathing ability. I’ve also developed an unshakable cough. I’ve seen nearly a dozen doctors and specialists in the process of treating my cough. Together, we’ve ruled out pretty much every cause aside from allergic sinusitis/rhinitis, asthma and a slight predisposition towards respiratory infection. In a way, that’s a good thing. I don’t have lung disease or a serious viral, bacterial or fungal infection. (Did you know you can get a fungus ball in your lungs?). What I do have is difficult to control asthma and an immune system overreacts to two allergens that are, unfortunately for me, ubiquitous in this climate.

Having exhausted most other options, I started immunotherapy last month. Immunotherapy (allergy shots) is a treatment for allergies where you receive a series of injections of the very proteins you are allergic to (e.g. dust, mold, insect stings, pollen; it doesn’t work for food allergies). The injections start out at a low concentration, and increase gradually over several weeks. Know one knows exactly why allergy shots work, but we do know that they fundamentally change how a person’s body responds to allergens and reduces its response over time.

I’ll admit to not feeling a lot of optimism that this treatment would have an effect. I’ve tried a number of different medications over the last couple of years and nothing has made more than a dent in my cough. However, my pessimism seems to be unfounded. The allergy shots are already giving me quite a bit of relief. My sinuses are clearer, my lungs feel better and I’m coughing less.

Now, I’m not out of the woods yet. I still have quite a way to go before immunotherapy is complete. And, my body is so used to coughing at the slightest trigger, that it’s going to take quite some time for it to unlearn that response, even if we completely address what got it going in the first place. Nevertheless, for the first time in a long while I feel some hope about improving this chronic illness. That motivates me to stay on top of my treatment plan and to slowly work in regular exercise.

Getting Regular Exercise

I’ve always had trouble maintaining a regular exercise routine for more than a couple of months at a time. And over the last couple of years, my respiratory issues have made any kind of regular exercise feel impossible.But now I’m making progress on my cough, and so it’s time to get back to regular exercise. My basic plan for this is: home treadmill (we now have a Precor 9.27), fitbit and yoga. I’m particularly excited about the treadmill. Having it in the room next to my home office means I’ll be able to make use of it throughout the day, taking the breaks I should be taking, and won’t have to face the cold, wet Portland winter or a neighborhood completely lacking sidewalks to do so. Plus both Mom and Sherri will be able to use it as well.

Oh, and if you’re a Fitbit user, send me a friend request!

Family Trip to Hawaii

In March, we’re heading to Hawaii with both of our moms. I’m really excited about the opportunity for the four of us to spend time together and get to know each other better. Oh, and if all goes according to plan, our trip will coincide with Dori’s 70th birthday!

Events & Speaking

This year I will continue my involvement in Open Source Bridge, BarCamp Portland as well as the Open Source Day at the Grace Hopper Celebration. I will also be speaking at PyCon, and perhaps a few other conferences (we’re submitted to OSCON again). I’m very much looking forward to all of these events, especially OSB because it’s our 5th year, which I consider an important milestone.

Reconnecting with a Spiritual Community

A number of colliding factors prompted me to stop practicing with our Zen community a few months before Sherri and I got married. I have yet to find another faith community to practice with. In truth, I haven’t been seriously looking. In part this is becuase it’s take a long time to heal from my experiences and I just haven’t been ready. But I think I am now. There’s a Unitarian community in our neighborhood, and I think we’re going to start there and see how things feel.

Seeing Firefox OS Launch

Since switching to my new role on Mozilla’s Technical Evangelism team, I’ve been working exclusively on efforts to get developers involved in Firefox OS. I’m very much looking forward to making more progress towards the successful launch and growth of this initiative.

(Oh, and if you’re a developer, designer, ux, other other techie person and you’re interested in contributing xapps for our Marketplace, get in touch with me. If you know html, javascript and css you can create apps!)

Reading Challenge

In 2012, I set a reading goal for myself of 24 books. Two per month seemed like a perfectly good challenge. Well, I read nearly double that amount. In part this is because I “read” a lot of audiobooks. I do this while walking or doing chores. It’s nice to be able to read when I otherwise wouldn”t be able to. And in some cases, switching between a written book and a spoken book helps me understand the material better (and Amazon’s Whispersync for Voice makes this seamless). In any case, clearly last year’s goal was too conservative, so this year I’m setting a goal of 60. That’s more than one book per week and I’m not sure I can meet it. But it’s important to set reach goals every now and then. Want to join me? Head on over to GoodReads, sign up for your own challenge and send me a friend request.

What about you?

What are you looking forward to in 2013?

The Year in Review: 2009

What did Christie do in 2009? Briefly: I said goodbye to a good friend, moved in with my beloved, got even more involved in the awesomeness that is the Portland tech community, practiced some Zen, and found a new job. For the long version of the above, keep reading…

2009 started out with a quiet weekend trip to Eugene (trip photos). When I tell people that Sherri and I took a mini “vacation” to Eugene I usually get very puzzled looks that tell me Eugene is known to be boring and why would we go there for vacation. But Sherri and I wanted an economical, mellow trip. And we both like college towns. We found a lovely bed and breakfast at which to stay. We explored the campus, including the natural history museum and art galleries. We enjoyed the vegan pizza and playing cards with some of the locals at Sam Bond’s garage. We drank champagne and watched tv in bed. It was a nice way to begin the year together.

Rescuing a Worm
Christie saving a worm from certain death on the Oregon State campus

In February it was revealed that our openly gay Mayor Sam Adams had had a relationship with a teenager before he became mayor (at the time he was a city council member). It’s still not clear what activities did or did not happen before the person in question turned 18. Anti-Adams groups called for his resignation (and now recall). Many more people turned out in support of the Mayor. Sherri and I were two of those people. I’ve never been much of an activist, politically or otherwise. Actually, this was the first rally of any type that I attended. I found it energizing. Adams said later on that he was prepared to resign in light of the scandal, but changed his mind after seeing so many people come out to support him. Participating in the rally made me feel positive about community involvement. It made me realize that my, seemingly inconsequential actions could indead add up to make a difference.

In April, I attended my first weekend workshop at Great Vow Monastery, called “Working with the Inner Critic.” Much of the workshop focused on using voice dialogue to identify and work with the Inner Critic. Rather than banishing the inner critic, we learned techniques for putting what she has to say in context and then making our own decisions, from our true selves. During the workshop, I learned just how much my inner critic, and another very fearful self, hold me back, particularly in my professional life. I found the workshop to be fairly transformative. So transformative, in fact, that I came home and had Sherri help me cut off all of my bleached blonde hair. After nearly a decade of doing crazy things to my hair with chemicals, it was time to just be Christie again.

Less than a month after the Inner Critic retreat, I moved in with Sherri. We’d been planning this move for nearly six months. While I’m finding that home ownership can be overwhelming at times, Sherri and I have slipped into domestic routine very easily. Most of the pre-moving concerns we shared have evaporated under the warmth of being together so consistently. I revel in the simple pleasures of meal-making, playing with the cats and reading together before bed.

This year I spent a lot of time thinking about my own decision to go vegan, how to talk to others about veganism, and how to be a force for positive change towards veganism within my community. I talk a bit about what prompted me to want to be more activist in the blog post “Vegan is More than a Strange Diet.”

In early June, we said goodbye to Atari the Wonder Cat. I miss him still.

Shortly after Atari’s passing and partially in his honor, I got my first tattoo. It’s a flash style heart that says “Vegan” inside of it.

This year I got even more involved in the awesome Portland Tech community. I started to co-lead Code ‘n’ Splode meetings. I participated in a few other user groups like PDXPHP, Ruby Brigade and Javascript Admirers. I volunteered for Legion of Tech events Ignite Portland and BarCamp. Perhaps the highlight was speaking and coordinating the volunteers at the first ever Open Source Bridge in June.

I often travel for my birthday, but this year I decided to stay in Portland. Sherri surprised me with tickets for the musical Rent. I’d never seen the theatrical production before, but had seen the movie and knew the soundtrack by heart. The seats were awesome. We enjoyed strong, tasty cocktails before the show. It was a most excellent evening.

On the weekend after my birthday, Sherri and I traveled to Sacramento to visit with my family. While in the area, we spent a few hours in Davis, where I went to college. We visited the farmer’s market and I gave Sherri a tour of campus. We had a good time despite the fact that it was over 100 degrees that weekend.

Jesse's Memorial Tree
I was surprised at how much Jesse's memorial tree had grown. I almost didn't recognize it.

To celebrate Sherri’s birthday, we spent a week on Hawaii’s Big Island (photos). The trip was somewhat exhausting (we scheduled many activities), but still fantastic. Hawaii is simply gorgeous. I can’t believe all of the native plants we saw: lilies, orchids, mangos, bananas, all growing in the wild. And, I swam in the ocean for the first time (albeit with a life jacket). And with Dolphins! We know we’re going back, and probably this year.

DSC_4699
Sherri and I recharge with some shaved ice after a morning spent swimming with dolphins.

During our time in Hawaii I had some downtime to reflect on my freelancing career and decided that upon returning to Portland, I’d start looking for full-time employment. I found a web developer position at an agency here in town within a month. Next week, I will have been there three months! I enjoy where and with whom I work.

A women in our Sangha fosters cats and kittens for OHS. She often posts their photos and progress on Facebook. Shortly before leaving for Hawaii, she posted about two kittens, a tuxedo and a black and white striped tabby. I told Sherri these were my two favorite colorings of cat, and she suggested we go meet them. So we did. And I fell in love right away (they’re kittens after all). We’ve named them Puck and Oberon (from Mid-Summer Night’s Dream). They’re doing very well.

P1010798
Two new additions to our family: Puck (left) and Oberon.

One of my 2009 goals was to establish a retreat practice. I didn’t manage to make it to a sesshin, but I did attend a Beginner’s Mind Retreat. It was a very good experience. I wouldn’t say it was easy; it wasn’t. Any time you a required to do sitting meditation for 8+ hours a day isn’t going to be easy. But I did notice that I felt at home at the monastery and was able to begin to relax into the container of practice that it provides. I look forward to (if one can look forward to) my first sesshin (week-long silent retreat), which I’m planning for mid-2010.

In October, right after completing my Beginner’s Mind retreat, I received the Five Grave Precepts from my teachers Hogen and Chozen. My mother, step-father, two of my brothers and a number of our friends attended the ceremony and celebration afterwards. I was honored to be supported in this way. Sherri also took Jukai during this same ceremony and it was lovely to share this aspect of practice with her.

IMG_6229
Precepts and Jukai Ceremony

I made the tough decision to spend the holidays in Portland, for the first time with Sherri, but away from my family of origin. It was nice to not have to travel, and to get to spend these special days with Sherri and with my Portland community. But it sucks that these good things come at the expense of missing my family and not getting to spend the holidays with them. I envy those who are fortunate enough to see their families more often.

Thanksgiving was quite lovely. Our Sangha holds it’s annual holiday party on Thanksgiving day with a giant potluck out at Great Vow Monastery. This year I think there were at least 70 people, including two friends that came with Sherri and me. At least a third of the dishes that other people brought were vegan (a great improvement over previous years). The residents put on quite a marimba concert. Some of us played a strange board game from the 70s called “Social Security.”

Thankgiving at Great Vow
Thanksgiving at Great Vow. Everyone gathered in a circle for the meal chant.

Christmas was just as lovely, although more low-key. I worked at home on Christmas Eve, knocking off in the early afternoon. Sherri and I stayed at home and open our stockings and gifts on Christmas Eve. Sherri and I both had the week between Christmas and New Year’s day off from work. We spent the time at home working on projects, took a few yoga classes and mostly just rested.

P1010810
Getting ready to exchange our Christmas gifts

A few days before the end of the year, Portland received a few inches of unpredicted snow. Because we were home already (both having the week off from work), Sherri and I went out to play shortly after it started snowing.

DSCF3610
Surprise snow makes Christie happy

This year we opted to stay in for New Year’s Eve. Sherri made a wonderful Japanese food themed feast. I even lent a hand by making some cocoa mochi (turned out okay, but I think I prefer other kinds of mochi).

P1010870
Sherri preparing burdock root for our NYE feast

Despite the fact that it was a very busy year, we managed some fun day trips. Some of the highlights were Ecola State park and Canon Beach, Lincoln City on Memorial Day weekend, a visit to Kiyokawa Orchards for apple tasting, and a couple of visits to Hood River.

DSC_4232

So Much Happening in June

Whoa, so the calendar turned over to June and my list of events and todos exploded. Below are some of the things Sherri and I have in the hopper for this month.

(And, yes, I’m referencing my Google Calendar as I write this post. It’s the only way I manage to keep track of everything.)

Open Source Bridge

The Open Source Bridge conference is third week of June and I’m participating in a number of ways. First, I’m speaking. My two talks are titled: Open Source Tools for Freelancers and Re-Factor Your Brain: Meditation for Geeks. Though I have no idea what to expect, I’m excited about giving both of these talks. I love sharing what I know with others, particularly when I’m sharing information that has really helped me. The second talk on meditation is one of the early evening sessions and I’m not sure what the turn out will be. But then I think it doesn’t matter. If only a few folks show up, I’ll have an opportunity to have an even more direct, intimate experience with those people.

In addition to my speaker and attendee role, I’m serving as on-site volunteer coordinator for the conference. This means recruiting and organizing volunteers ahead of the conference and then managing them on-site during the conference. We had a volunteer orientation tonight which was well attended. Tomorrow I’ll be wrangling even more volunteer’s during Lunch 2.0.

Friends and Family

Two really good college friends and one of my brothers are visiting from California at the same time during the second week of June. I’ve seen all three of these people since moving to Portland in 2007, but this will be their first visit here to see me. It’s been hard to live so far from my family and close friends. I’m very much looking forward to seeing everyone and sharing Portland with them. Sherri and I still have boxes everywhere that we have to deal with, but we’re happy to be able to provide a comfy place to stay.

Zen Community Stuff

Originally I had planned to attend my first Beginner’s Mind Retreat this month at Great Vow Zen Monastery. However, once the events and family visits started to pile up, I made the tough decision to postpone until early Fall. But there’s still plenty of ZCO things going on in addition to our weekly group meditation and dharma talks. I’ve been working on a new website for ZCO which we’re hoping to launch this month or early next (after some delay due to me being sick and moving). In addition, we’re having a founder’s dinner and benefit for Heart of Wisdom Zen Temple on June 21st. Heart of Wisdom Zen Temple will be our Portland center. We’ve outgrown the space we share with Dharma Rain at the Portland Dharma Center, so we’re avidly looking for an appropriate property (and avidly raising money for the purchase said property).

Birthday and Sacramento Trip

My birthday is in the fourth week of June. I haven’t quite decided how I would like to celebrate. Traditionally I take a trip for my birthday, which Sherri and I are doing. My birthday falls in the middle of the week, so we’re going to Sacramento to visit with my folks the weekend directly following. I’ve thought about seeing Rent, which is in town for just that week. Or having a dinner out. I’m still undecided.

I’m not looking forward to visiting Sacramento during the summer when it’s sure to be sweltering. But, it will be nice to see my mother and step-father and to show Sherri around a bit. We’re probably going to take a mini trip to Davis (my alma mater) show I can show her the campus and the town. We might even do the farmer’s market thing.

Other Events

There are a few other events that I’d like to attend, if possible: Northwest Pride on June 13th and 14th; the Portland Buddhist Festival, also on June 13th; the Sumer Coder’s Social on June 20th.