Tag: Year in Review

Lessons Learned, 2013 Edition

Change people’s hearts and their minds will follow. In other words, you have to change people’s hearts before you can change their minds.

I’m more important to make a connection than to be precise or correct.

We have an extraordinary ability to ensure that our needs are met. This is fundamentally an emotional processes, not a rational one.

People are, above else, social creatures. We deeply need each other to survive, but we also often harbor great fears about revealing our fundamental selves.

Life is complicated. And yet can be reduced to the utter simplicity that we have a limited time on this Earth and should use that time as wisely as possible.

We may have more advanced technology, but we human nature hasn’t fundamentally changed. We have basically the same challenges we have for hundreds, probably thousands of years. There are patterns to these problems and studying them gives us insight into how to approach them.

Sometimes people you love die and it’s awful.

Sometimes people you love amaze and astound you and it’s wonderful.

Good friends are invaluable.

Cultivate the relationships that nourish you. Let go of the ones that don’t.

My Year in Review: 2012

When I first started thinking about what would go into this year’s, only two words came to mind “good” and “riddance.” In many ways this year has been an awful one, full of new stresses and challenges. But as soon as I started drafting this review, I realized I accomplished a lot and that a lot of good things came out of the turmoil. So instead of saying “good riddance” to 2012, I’m saying “thanks for kicking my butt and making me realize what’s really important in life.”

That said, here are the highlights from Christie’s Twenty-Twelve:

Grew Our Household

Dori poses with the Christmas tree
Dori poses with the Christmas tree.

By which I mean that Sherri’s mom came to live with us permanently. Starting in January a series unfortunate events occurred in Mom’s life. As a result her health declined dramatically. She was not thriving in the retirement community where she was living. We were spending a lot of time driving out to East County on the weekends to check on her and then worrying about her during the days in between. We realized we could do a lot more if we saw her every day. We decided to ask her to come live with us, and she said yes. It was quite a journey getting to where we are now (more on that later). But now that we’re here, I know absolutely it was the right decision. Mom’s health has stabilized. She’s looking better, she’s feeling better and is more alert. Living together ultimately means that we are getting more quality time together as a family, for which I am amazingly grateful.

Bought a House (My First)

View from the deck of our new house.
View from the deck of our new house.

When we decided to invite Mom to come live with us, it came with the recognition that our current house was simply not suitable for her in terms of available space or accessibility. Plus Sherri’s daily commute from North Portland to Wilsonville was becoming unsustainable in terms of time and wear and tear on Sherri’s body. As last as July I remained convinced that we didn’t have enough of our ducks in a row to move, let alone buy a house. However, someone very wise told me that I just had to envision myself in a new place and that the ducks would align themselves. Sounds pretty woo-woo, I know, but it worked. I came home that day and told Sherri I was emailing the real estate agent and mortgage broker to whom we’d been referred. The fifth or sixth house we viewed was the one. I’ll never forget turning to Sherri and saying “this is it; we’re making an offer.” It was like falling in love. If I had know how much back and forth we’d go through in the coming weeks, I might have gone running and screaming from the property instead. But, we made it through and closed in mid-September and moved in shortly thereafter. I still think every day how lucky I am that we found this house and that we were able to buy it.

Completed Year One at Mozilla

Firefox Doughnuts
Firefox Doughnuts at this year’s Winter Coder’s Social.

My first year at Mozilla was certainly not without disappointments or difficulties. However, I’m still finding it worthwhile and am excited about my new role on the Technical Evangelism team working primarily on Firefox OS over the next year and beyond.

Won an Award

O'Reilly Open Source Awards
With Sarah and Edd at the O’Reilly Open Source Awards.

To my great delight and honor, O’Reilly presented me with an Open Source Award for demonstrating “exceptional leadership, creativity, and collaboration in the development of Open Source Software.”

Attended, Organized and Spoke at Some Tech Events

Me speaking during our tutorial at OSCON.
Me speaking during our tutorial at OSCON.

I think I participated in handful of events this year, as attendee, organizer and sometimes speaker. Chronologically, they were (and yes, I’m having to reference my calendar to write this):

Organized Code ‘n’ Splode & Women Who Hack

This year I continued organizing Code ‘n’ Splode and also founded a new group called Women Who Hack. Women Who Hack is similar to CnS, but takes a different approach to supporting women and genderqueer folks working in tech. Our meetings are held on weekends, are less structured and impose a more restrictive attendance requirement (men are not welcomed to attend). So far attendance for the group has been good and feedback has been positive.

Had Some Travel Adventures

Jackson Square & St. Louis Cathedral
Jackson Square & St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, LA.

This year I traveled more than I have in year’s past. Mostly this was due to many trips to the Bay Area and other places (Scottsdale, Baltimore) as part of my work with Mozilla. But, Sherri and I also managed to take two big trips together (Orlando and New Orleans) as well as a weekend trip to Bend, Oregon for my birthday.

Read Many Books

2012 Reading Challenge Results (as of 28 December)
2012 Reading Challenge Results (as of 28 December)

I plan to do a whole post about the books I read in 2012, so here I’ll just mention that I blew away my reading goal of 24 books by reading almost double that. You can see all of the books I read on my Goodreads challenge page. (And if you’re a Goodreads user, send me an invite!)

Saved Money, Paid off Debts

Thanks to mine and Sherri’s generous tech salaries, 2012 was a good year financially, despite the ongoing uncertainty in the greater economy. I paid off the last of my student loans, financed a newer (used) car at a good rate, saved 10% of my salary, and bought a house. I am proud of myself for accomplishing these things, but I also recognize that I am extremely fortunate to have the job that I do and to be paid what I am for doing that job.

Those were the highlights of my 2012. Stay tuned for a post about how 2013 is shaping up and what I’m looking forward to most.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.