Life and Time

For over 3 months, I have been completely M.I.A. I have not so much as peeked at this website, let along logged in and drafted a post. While I have been struggling to balance the overwhelming amount of things I have to do vs. what I want to do, I have neglected to use this space as a means for reflection. That said, I have been pondering many interrelated things (i.e. religion, personal choice, achieving goals, etc) and how it is that many of us have such “potential” and drive, yet leave so much undone. What I have come to learn is that the two most interrelated parts of our life are in conflict constantly. That is Life and Time.

 

From the moment we are aware of our autonomy, we are bombarded with options, opportunities, and obstacles, all vying for our time, and all equally appealing in their own way. I could spend the afternoon cleaning up the backyard, or I could spend the afternoon resting from a long week. No matter the ultimate decision, we are always left with at least a mild feeling of regret for not having chosen the other option, and the continuous inner guilt cycle is born and continues throughout our life. My life has become a continuous cycle of guilt, despite being able to pat myself on the back for the little, relatively speaking, that I felt I accomplished. This feeling has morphed into what I feel is an undiagnosed case of insomnia that strips me of energy from the minute I step into the office. And rather than get myself back on a normal circadian rhythm, I instead hope to make up for the outside of work activities that I have neglected by working late to make up my slow performance throughout the day. The result is that I feel tired, overworked, and under-accomplished. Every. Single. Day.

 

As my birthday approaches, I have decided to make a conscious effort to “do”. I spent the last 3 months thinking about doing to the point where I forgot what I was thinking to do and never quite did. I want this year to be the year that I plant the seeds for the greatness that I want for my future, and the only way that I can accomplish this is  by doing. The greatest golfers did not get that way by thinking about golf. They went out and practiced and played. The greatest programmers did not develop the apps that changed our lives forever by just thinking about what could be done, they did it.

 

As I mentioned earlier, part of the interrelated thinking I had included religion, and what it means to walk in your faith. As I listened to the pastor speak about the struggle that it would be to walk in my faith, I have to ask myself whether or not this is a walk I want to take (and it is) and if knowing that the only guaranteed outcome of that struggle is the bear witness, is it still worth it (I think it is). So the same can be said about personal goals.  Even if I knew I was not going to make a million dollars striving to accomplish my goals, is not part of the point the journey (or bearing witness) part of what makes me do it?

 

We are all given the same short 24 hours in a day. In the constant battle of Life vs. Time, we strive to pack as much into said life as time will permit. Unfortunately for those loved ones we lose too soon, Time decides to run out long before that Life is allowed to really grow. And we ALL know that nothing is guaranteed except death (and taxes!), the best we can do is not waste this time that we will never know the amount we possess until it is too late.

 

So here I am. Having wasted many months, I channel the regret of the wasted time into the lessons learned for the future. I recently made a pact with myself to quit eating sweets  indefinitely until I accomplish a personal goal of starting my own company. While I have passed up on so many lovely treats, just the thought of what I want to accomplish and all that it will bring me, personally and professionally, is more than enough to keep me satiated for the time being. But I don’t want to waste any more of my life, or time for that matter. I hope you don’t either.

 

— Nel

Patience is key

I don’t intend on this being a particularly long post, but I have to admit that having patience in learning to program and understanding the differences in front end v. back end v. full stack development is definitely proving to be a challenge. Not one that I cannot take one, but given my extreme desire to work in programming for a living, I want nothing more to just be there already. But I did have a humbling moment flying home this past Friday.

I was in a middle seat, and in gentleman sitting in the aisle seat pulled out his computer after a few hours in flight and got on a group chat, Github, sublime text, and a host of other applications, all the while writing/editing code for something I was not able to determine in my pathetic attempts to snoop while appearing to be so engrossed in my Angry Birds Seasons round. He flipped from screen to screen so rapidly and his command of the programming language that he was working in was definitely apparent. I had wanted to strike conversation about programming with him. but decided against it, considering that he was paying by the hour for in-flight wi-fi, I assumed that this had to be something time-sensitive, as he spent the greater portion of the flight working on it. I have read stories about people who went from prior non-technical careers and learned to code, many of sheer interest in expanding needed career skills and others out of a means of survival and financial freedom. I know I fall into a mix of both, with more emphasis on the latter. I enjoy working in supply chain, but the lack of the intellectual challenge (and that started even before I took a rotation assignment in engineering) drove me to seek a more technical outlet that involved less MBA-style “problem solving” with way too many variables, and subsequently 1001 possible results, all of which are contingent upon the approval of my management/lead. With coding, there may be a few ways to accomplish a task, but in no way is incorrect code going to result in a correct answer, regardless of what my superiors might think. I would describe myself as being pretty smart, and I know that if I make the time for the effort and apply myself, there is not much that I cannot do. Only my (sometimes short) attention span would kill that effort. Luckily, that is not the case.

Considering that I have attempted to learn to program on many occasions before, I figured that becoming proficient enough to work as a programmer/developer was far out of reach because I did not make enough time to learn. Now that I sometimes feel that the “skills” that I have acquired at my current company are not enough to get me employed at Walmart, I have made a point to learn and practice to code. I am currently using Treehouse to learn Ruby on Rails, with the aim of doing at least a few modules per day when possible, and even squeezing in a few while on vacation this last week. I am nowhere near the level that I would hope to be at, but I think that can be attributed to my impatience at wanting to just “get to the good stuff” and being mentally drained by work for many months, but I continue to complete this program, module by module. Short of going back to school for computer engineering/computer science degree, which my research of current forums has shown is nothing more than a lesson in theory, self-learning is really the only option I have, even if that means using an online learning tool or going step-by-step with a book, or both (which I am currently doing). Even most coding bootcamps are out of the question due to the price and time commitments, although I have learned of a few more affordable and flexible options that I am still debating, as none can really guarantee that I will be ready for a web development/programming job immediately upon successful completion of the program. I was privileged enough to sign up for an account for free through The Muse (best thing EVER), and want to get the most out of the $49/month access that I am getting for $free.99. I sent the link to many of my friends and family that might be interested, but I am not sure who actually signed up and use(d) it. I know I am getting someone’s money worth. Thanks The Muse!

I know that I need to find a project that fuels my learning and allows me to build on the knowledge that I am obtaining. I know that I want to create an app or website, but at the moment, nothing of any real value to me is coming to mind. I intend on doing more research online for beginner projects using Ruby on Rails, and using that to build my portfolio on Github. I know that my profile is sure to be one of millions of weak profiles that hopefully don’t get shut down due to low (or pitiful) uploads. We’ll see. A couple modules from now is a lesson in Github.

Now that I got that out of my system, I am recommitting to getting the most out of my Treehouse membership and working toward building this skill so that I too can be like the gentleman on the plane who knows that not-so-secret coding language that appears to be the key to it all. Wish me luck!

 

-Nely

Yes, I played THE Pebble Beach!

This past weekend, my SS (special someone) surprised me with a round at the world-renowned Pebble Beach Golf Course in Monterey, CA. It was a pleasant surprise, and I will admit that I was intimidated going in, as I assumed that like any other TPC course, if I was not a 13 handicap or better, I would be outed as an imposter and stopped from playing just short of the 9th tee. Nothing could be father from the truth, as all levels of play were welcome. Here are some of my observations.

 

1. It is NOT cheap to play here. SS and I were paired with a twosome of friends that had played the course last year, and decided to make it an annual trip, noting that the course and setting was too beautiful to not come back (a sentiment that I too share). It was definitely a bucket list item that I am so stoked to check off, and I would definitely make it an annual thing. I just have to make sure to budget VERY well for it.

 

2. The course is very playable for a newbie like myself. After having officially picked up the game of golf in June 2013, I am pleased to announce that I had not one, but TWO back-to-back pars! Of course, I hit from the ladies’ tees (which only made it easier compared to the other tees), but these are the same ladies’ tees that the LPGA players would hit from and I was able to have some really good holes (relatively speaking, of course). My score was in the high 120s, which consistent with my current score (and impressive to me since the course was significantly harder than any course I have ever played), but the fact that I was able to par and even bogey was major. I won’t lie, I left feeling like I could definitely go pro if I dedicated more time to the game. It might just be all in my head, but I don’t mind it!

 

(Poorly angled) Selfie after my first par on Hole 5

(Poorly angled) Selfie after my first par on Hole 5

3. This is one of THE most beautiful settings to play in. The views from each hole are breathtaking at a minimum. I had no idea that such a beautiful white sand covered beach with crystal blue water existed in this part of California. I lived in the Bay Area and Central Coast on separate occasions, and had determined that both areas were just too breezy for beach adventures. Boy, was I wrong! Every hole on the front nine was worthy of a magazine cover, and the beach views are still available on the back nine, culminating in the picturesque Hole 18. Seeing the tree that dons the Pebble Beach logo in the flesh (or bark) was like a dream come true.

View of Pebble Beach from the front nine

View of Pebble Beach from the front nine

 

4. Pebble Beach is cart-path only. SS and I chose to take a cart, while our other golf companions had opted for a caddy. Their caddy, Eddy, was an older man with a snippy sense of humor, but who provided great advice on how to hit each shot, even offering spot-on reads of the putting greens. I think it makes the experience feel more like being a pro. As for riding the cart, other than having my sunflower seeds stolen and annihilated by the many varieties of birds that actively preyed on any visible food, it was nice to be able to ride from hole to hole and have a cup holder, as I had never walked a full 18 holes prior to this week (which just happened Thursday on a significantly shorter course). One negative was that I had to bring more than one club with me whenever I took a post-tee shot on most par 4s or 5s, which upped the likelihood of losing a club (which I rented and did NOT want to pay $150+ per club to replace). The caddy carried the bags and even provided the appropriate clubs needed for each shot, and would walk ahead to meet you wherever your ball landed. It was pretty cool. SS wants to go again next year, and I definitely think we’ll use a caddy the next time.

 

5. Pebble Beach is a stop on the 17 Mile Drive. Prior to coming to Pebble Beach, despite living so close to this area for months, I had never heard of the 17 Mile Drive. It is a tourist attraction along the northern coast that includes Pebble Beach, which is why there are so many people everywhere, even running across the fairway as you are playing! It was a bit off-putting at first, as I think golfers have the tendency to expect no one outside of their group, besides the marshall or a player who hit a wayward ball from another hole, to be anywhere near the fairway or greens while we are on a hole. After a while you just realize it is Pebble Beach, you glance over that the breathtaking ocean view, and forgive the eager tourists. You can’t blame them for really wanting to soak this all in.

 

BONUS: You might see a celebrity there. We did! SS and I had finished our round and were picking up PB swag for souvenirs, and happened to see Adam Levine, formerly of Maroon 5 and currently co-host of The Voice, shopping in the Pro-Shop as well as the other shops along the way. I wanted to snap a picture with him, since the motto is “pics or it didn’t happen”, but SS, being the not-getting-excited-over-a-celebrity-sighting type, refused to take the pic for me. And I had not been successful figuring out how to take the sound off my phone, despite having it for over 2 years (pathetic, I know), so no pics. Going to have to let his Instagram account corroborate my story. Oddly enough, it was the only celebrity sighting I had in the whole week I was there, even after spending a few days in SoCal. Either way, it was pretty cool! I think it was his first time playing there as well. We’ll always share that moment that he doesn’t know we’re sharing, lol.

 

I am definitely looking forward to playing Pebble Beach again. I think next time, I’ll do one of the package deals with hotel and golf included, so I can also play one of the other courses like Spanish Bay or Spy Hill. I am sure SS is up for it.

– Nel

Going it alone

In the past few years, I have been going through an internal struggle that has since culminated in the realization that I need to leave my current place of employment, stand up for myself more, and change the dynamic of many relationships that I have been in for longer than 10 years. Writing these changes is the easiest part of the realization, as the emotions of others that will inevitably be affected are not being taken into consideration (and rightfully so). Back in law school, a good friend and classmate warned me that any change that I make is going to be hardest for those in my life than it will be for me, and I have kept those words very close to me. Now is no exception.

 

I realize that the “new” me, which is still evolving and working to not fall back into self-defeating thoughts, has to include a side that internalizes much of the struggle. This is a fact that has been very hard for me to deal with, but I am making alot of progress. I am the friend that you can call and vent to for hours until you feel better and have a plan forward. I am the friend that knows that being down emotionally is a major roadblock to accomplishing even the most basic tasks. I have been and continue to be the listening ear.

Unfortunately, most of the people who have relied upon my ears have covered theirs. I have endured countless conversations about topics I would not spend more than a few moments on, without ever making the speaker feel that their feelings are not worthy of being heard. Yet, those same people make it clear, either by action or actual words, that my expression of feelings is not welcome. Yet when the topic changes to their concerns, I am once again expected to actively listen. Never have I seen such a blatant example of selfishness. It is already bad enough to feel like the people that you have to work with daily don’t even respect you, but to have a person in your life that can refer to you as someone they can rely on, yet they cannot be relied upon is asinine. Hell, it should be criminal.

So, in the past few months I have been growing a thick skin of DGAF (Don’t Give a F***) toward these people, be they family or friend. The struggle I am going through now is one that has had such an impact on me that even typing about it somewhat brings tears to my eyes, and rather than have that listening ear, or shoulder to cry on, I have gotten nothing more than a “No one really has time to listen to your problems.” As harsh of a reality check as it is, it is one that I needed. Not just to learn to go this struggle alone, but to learn to BE that person that has no time for the problems of others.

By birth order, caring for others is something that has been ingrained in who I am. It is unnatural for me to not care about those who are close to me, let alone not be there in a person’s emotional time of need. But I have to unlearn being that person when appropriate. I can recall numerous situations that were completely irrelevant to me and my life that I have listened to and provided emotional support (at a minimum), and yet I am completely shut out when I need the same support. And this is not the first time that this has happened. This is just the most significant. So here I am at a major life crossroad, having to go it alone. What the f***?

It is easy to say that if I had a significant other that I may not have felt the effects so harshly, but I beg to differ. Past experience has shown me that when I am trying to make a major change in my life, significant others have done nothing but try to make me do what they think I should do, not what will make me happy. And come to think of it, I think that is likely what all the rest of these “close” people in my life are suggesting. The conversations end up in frustration when I am promptly asked to change subjects, and resentment grows. And I am again reminded that this is something that I must go alone.

The beauty in facing a personal challenge alone is that when you get to the other side, you now have a increased confidence in your abilities. Loneliness is no longer a hinderance to progress, and lacking in support is not even a consideration. You make the decisions that you want to make when you want to make them, without regard for what others might think. You have a humbleness embedded in you, as you can easily recall going through struggle after struggle, all to fall flat on your face after numerous attempts, and the many nights you cried yourself to sleep but got up again the next morning to try again. Success is always appreciated, and the struggles of others are never lost on you.

The ugly side, however, lingers in the most uncomfortable of ways. Sadness keeps you in solitude, and the solitude of your sadness has tears welling in your eyes randomly throughout the day. Fear of failure paralyzes you from making the steps that you need to make. You are sensitive to even the slightest of remarks, as you ego and emotions are at their most fragile state. Worst of all, folks show you their ass, literally and figuratively. You question your relationships with most people, and a hardness about life grows. You want to destroy and rebuild your entire social life. None of those people currently occupying this part of your life are worthy anymore. You cease communication with most, and make no promises of  commencing once you are on the other side. You have no time for fair weather friends, you tell yourself. The ugly rots you inside a little.

I am still in the ugly. Most people who have heard my story are not really listening; some like to keep all conversations light, but the rest fall in between pretending to care long enough to change topics (most times to themselves) and waiting for me to take a hint from their body language that they have not the slightest care about this aspect of my life. To receive the responses that I have received, given the person that I am to these people, I would be lying if I didn’t say that everything inside me wants to cut most of them off permanently. Sure, it is not confronting their behavior and letting them know their problem, but in my mind, if it is to the point that I have to even tell you that you are not reciprocating the courtesy that I extend to you, that just tells me that you don’t feel that I am deserving of it. Those same people are listening to the problems of others, and lending ears, shoulders, and just about anything they can give to others. I am just not on that worthy list. I know that telling them is what is recommended, but what is that going to change? I have to tell you to treat me like I treat you after knowing me for 10+ years? Seems kind of late doesn’t it? And I admit to being an enabler to selfish behavior, by not nipping some things in the bud earlier, but part of that is in allowing people to be who they are and respecting it. I just never forced the subject when it was time for others to respect who I want to be. I have created emotional monsters that have no qualms unleashing on me. But times have changed. I have allowed this behavior to go on so long, that conversations are nothing more than breeding grounds for arguments and manipulation. I have to let my actions reflect that change.

 

In my current struggle, I can admit that the worst of the negative feelings have left. My self-esteem is still strengthening, and my realization of what I have to deal with is also as clear as day. I occasionally slip and mention something related to my struggle, but for the most part, I am tight-lipped about my plans. Hell, even this website has only been shared with very few. I want to talk more about programming and golf, and clothing, and all the others topics of interest to me, but the mental clutter surrounding the issues I am going through makes it hard to focus. So I figure if I at least get these feelings off my chest, I am moving closer to cleaning my mind of this negativity. At least when I write, the computer (or the internet for that matter) does not tune out while I am talking, or remind me regularly no to “talk shop”. I have embraced that this path will be one that I have to do on my own, like Katniss during the Hunger Games. Sure there will be a few allies along the way, but ultimately no one cares about what I am doing or need to get done but me. The celebrations and cheers won’t come during the darkest hours. Instead, they will be in abundance with the success. That is why I will only be sharing the success when all decisions have been made, and ink dried on any contracts; no status reports or other updates will be given. If I can get myself through my darkest hours, I don’t need the bandwagon cheers of the same people that “can’t be bothered” otherwise. I know it will likely sting those closest to me when they learn about a major change in my life when the rest of the masses learn. I can imagine that some feelings will be hurt, but actions need to speak louder than any words I could say. If relationships are changed forever as a result, well, I think that change happened long before any announcements.

 

So I will use this future success and that happy place that I know I will be in when I have conquered this major life obstacle as my beacon.  It is what has me typing this at almost 3am EST, only hours before I have to get up and go to church for Easter service. It is what has me learning coding on vacation, and working harder at my swing, and finding inspiration for my future clothing line. Writing will provide my release, and the universe will be my listening ear. I just need to keep feeding my goals and dreams with consistent hard work and patience. When times get tough, as they have been and will continue to be, I will remind myself of the pilot light inside my soul, the one that keeps the greatness I am to achieve in life alive. Until that light blazes in this world like an inferno, I still have work to do. And to that I say: Challenge accepted.

Patience: Then and Now

Last night, I had dinner with a colleague and friend, Don, who is a recently promoted senior manager at my company. In our dinner discussion, I gave him the quick and dirty rundown of what I’ve been through, what I’m doing, and where I’m going, all sprinkled amongst jokes and light-hearted topics. Many times during the conversation, he would say that he was shocked to hear what I went through and agreed that I should leave this toxic situation as soon as possible, even offering to help in any way that he could. What stood out the most to me regarding our conversation was his description of me as “patient”, which happened quite a few times during the conversation. Patient is probably the last thing word I would use to describe myself and even hearing it be repeated was jarring. How was I patient?

As I drove home, I pondered Don’s observation and realized that he was pretty accurate. I had become patient and angry, but not motivated to truly work on bettering my situation. What I had failed to realize until Don mentioned it was that I had been trying to wait out the storms in my personal work story at the company. I was being patient about learning what it is that was supposed to be my next step, and what sign I would be getting from God relating to what I need to do next. I was complaining about a situation but doing absolutely nothing to change it.

For over a year, I had been wearing a thick veil of sadness over my emotions and thoughts. I could not bring myself to appreciate the great people and things around me. I had allowed a small subset of my professional life plant seeds within my mind that sprouted self-doubt, paranoia, and insecurity that were not present when I entered this company. I had convinced myself that all my enemies had colluded and hatched a scheme to mentally weaken me. Yet, even with this belief, I remained patient, if not optimistic, that things would get better.

Eventually I reached my breaking point and become motivated to leave, and began actively seeking alternate employment. Year after year, I witnessed other people be groomed for the futures they wanted, while my requests to take on more responsibility was met with passive assistance in the form of weak listings of items I needed to work on in order to be considered ready for this next level. None of the items suggested had ever been anything that I would not expect to see at every performance review, no matter what level I was. I saw right through the fluff. Yet I stayed patient.

This rage I felt toward my company began to seep through my pores. I was irritable and moody, and could not have a conversation without mentioning how much I hated work. I felt increasingly alienated from my closest friends and family and would break into spontaneous tears at least once a day. I was just a mess. I knew that I needed to get out by any means necessary, and unfortunately, quitting was not an option for financial reasons. I grew tired of always been in a  bad mood and was desperate to fill my time with activities to get my mind off of work. I picked back up with my self-paced study of writing computer code and was aggressive in this endeavor, hoping to learn a skill that I could use as a side hustle, or gain full-time employment with. I just wanted ANYTHING but this company and this industry. When I couldn’t focus enough on programming, I drowned my anger in reading career related articles and blogs, subconsciously seeking a success story to provide motivation to work through this. Eventually I hit pay dirt.

One Sunday night a few weeks back, I stumbled upon this article (http://www.liveinthegrey.com/do-you-feel-trapped-at-your-current-job/) on Live In the Grey ( http://www.liveinthegrey.com), a career website catering to individuals and corporations seeking holistic success, that changed everything for me.  Liz Ryan’s podcast spoke to me, and suddenly I went from feeling weakened and angry to feeling strong and hopeful. I needed to focus on my career path and create my force field. I didn’t have time to let negative words and emotions throw me off track in a place that no longer fed into my life goals. I needed my precious mojo supply! In 6 minutes, what I had suffered through for nearly 6 years suddenly melted away. I didn’t feel the emotional connection anymore. I got up and started checking items off my to-do list with the new mental energy that I found. The road to happiness is not something you stumble upon when complaining, it is one that you stumble upon when you finally put your energy and work toward your goals.

Now, when I think of myself as being patient, it leaves a smile on my face. I embrace my patience because it allows me to appreciate how fortunate I am to have the choices I have and a job that covers my expenses until I can make the first steps toward my dreams. I am patient but instead of letting small things wind me up negatively, I just roll them off my back. I have a plan for my future and I am excited about it. My confidence is high and my outlook is positive. I am no longer patient because of a fear to make the necessary changes in my life. I am patient because anything worth having is worth working for. And that is virtue.

-Nel

Fairway woods — Why you gotta be so hard?

Hitting off the tee is probably the most exciting part of the game for the novice player, like myself. I may be almost 2 years in, and finally clocking in an average (125 — high, yet, but I am happy to even finish a hole!), but I have to admit that once I am on the fairway, the concepts of being able to get the ball to move how I want without using an iron has always been daunting for me. With my irons, I can conceptualize slicing the ball up in the air and moving it forward as I like. With fairway woods, it feels like an oversized putter without the flat face. I tend to hit the ball low on the club face, as indicated by the distinct “pop” sound upon contact, and it seemed to be the only thing that I could do with that shot. For a while, I pretty much gave up on using fairway woods because I could not afford to waste strokes.

 

In the last few sessions with my instructor, I have been making a point to understand the best way to hit the woods. For women with larger chests, being able to keep the arms together throughout your swing presents a challenge, especially if you are not lined up properly at the ball. Additionally, attempting to use the power in your arms, rather that the natural motion of your body is also a major fault that will hurt your distance. When I was able to stop trying to put power into my arm movement, and just naturally let the return motion of my downswing take over, I was making much better contact with the ball and getting good distance.

 

Adjusting the club face and the distance to the ball are the areas that I continue to work on. Reviewing my swing on the live video shows that crossing over my body on the downswing causes me to bend my elbows (so as not to harm my breasts) and unfortunately affecting either the position of the club face, the height of the club with respect to the ball on contact, or both. So far my practice is showing that I am able to make the right movements throughout the entire swing (hips, arms, elbows, and wrists included) and make the right contact. Now to just make it consistent on the course….I’ll be golfing in warm and sunny southern California next week, so I’ll tell you how it goes!

 

-Nel

 

Reflections, a trip to the bookstore, and Javascript

Today started much like the usual: I wake up at 5am and drag myself through the house and out the door to get in a good sweat before clocking into the day job. As I arrive to the gym, excited that I am earlier than usual and will get a solid hour in, I learn from the desk attendant that there is not heat or hot water as a result of a power outage the night before. She asks if I still want a towel, and I say sure. What’s the worst that could happen?

 

I enter the locker room and place my garment bag in my usual locker (#65) and decide to see just how cold the water is before I lift weights. Now just to give you some insight: the weather in Boston has been pretty normal for this time of year (30-40+ F) for the past week or so, except for today when the high was expected to be 29 degrees. So, as you can imagine, the water was freezing. I decided then to just get lightly washed up and go to work. I’m in the office at 7am, 2 hours earlier than my usual.

 

Now as you all will learn, I am very particular about how many hours I put in at work. I was the single girl that was in the office late and logging in when she finally got home. I was the closer, the one who would not leave until everything on the to-do list was done and my team could rely me keeping my word. Weak expressions of gratitude were enough to keep me motivated and believing that I was being appreciated for what I contributed. But nothing kills motivation like a string of lackluster performance reviews!

In 2014, I had one of the best years at my company, with regards to performance and accomplishments, and it still was not considered being more than what “meets expectation”.  I won’t even get into the insult that was my “merit” increase. Unable to contain my thoughts, I asked my manager directly what my motivation this year is, since what I thought was working hard and accomplishing tasks that positively and directly affect the bottom line seem to mean nothing. I was met with a poorly rehearsed version of “your career is in your own hands”, as my manager had already signed the paperwork to move on to another role, abandoning quite a few endeavors that are on course to leave a bad name for our group and the company as a whole. I left that conversation angry, but motivated to leave.

 

Needless to say, I am now a clock-watcher. I get to the office and leave 8 to 9 hours from that time. I don’t bring my computer home and I am not taking any calls or responding to any emails. I have been putting so much time and attention into this company thinking that I was creating a career, but in reality, I was just trying to make the best of a losing investment. I was draining myself emotionally and physically, and the only reward I was getting was more work and even less appreciation for that. Additionally, with my focus on getting a new job in an entirely new industry (amongst the other projects that are feeding my soul right now) there are many other things that I can and will be doing with my free time now, and I sure as hell am not going to give them an extra minute more than they pay for.

So, 9 hours after I entered the office today, I was logging out and headed to the bookstore. My intent was to use the time before my swing practice to check out books on programming and starting a clothing line. Books on the latter were not in abundance, and anything closely related was frilly or touting being a “Girl’s Guide” (gag!). I did find a few good books on programming languages, and decided to purchase 2: one book focusing on HTML 5 and CSS and another book on programming in Rails. I know it just shows the geek in me, but I am super excited about these books!

 

 

I’m not sure what other people do when looking for a good reference/learning book, but I have a few things that are very important to me.

 

1. Table of contents

I am very big on a good table of contents. Before I land on any random page and start reading excerpts, I want to know that navigating to a particular topic won’t be cumbersome. The presence of an index is nice too, but I want to know how things are broken down and the approach that the author has with presenting the topic from page one.

 

2. Layout

Many of the programming concepts require a breakdown and definition of many different items, and the layout of this breakdown is a make-or-break issue for me. In a good layout (usually accompanied by a good table of contents), I am able to skim through a chapter and find the specific item of interest to me. While I intend on reading all the concepts included, I appreciate being able to read a book as I am learning it and not be forced to follow a sequence. On the contrary, a bad layout throws me off topic and forces me to read large amounts of text that may or may not be relevant, and generally the table of contents is weak as well.

 

3. Flow

How the author relays the information and transitions from concept to concept is probably the most important. Tone and pace are other major components of the flow, and if a concept that I feel may require greater understanding gets nothing more than a short paragraph and an example without any real-world applicability, I am usually inclined to put that book back. I am no dummy, but the author’s ability to relay the concepts to me in a way that I can learn and retain information (and make it fun in the process) is very much appreciated. Much of what keeps beginners from moving on to being intermediate is the intimidation of the material.

 

I feel that I have found all of these things in my new books, and while I don’t see myself cracking into them before this weekend (I have some busy days to round out the work week), I intend to use them to help create new projects that I can get on my Github account and begin building my portfolio.

 

On the programming front, I am currently finishing a Javascript Foundations module in Treehouse.org (I’ll get into that more later) within a Ruby on Rails Development track, and I definitely think that I will be able to compound what I am learning in the modules and these book to increase my skills (and update this website more when the time is right). I don’t necessarily consider myself a novice, and much of the concepts in programming are very logical to me, thus making it easier to attempt smaller coding projects at ease. I do, however, have a bit of a hard time in understanding how and why so many different languages are able to play together and why we choose one over another. HTML and CSS make sense, in that HTML is the core language to a web page and CSS is the interior designer of that page. How Javascript and Ajax, for example, play into the scheme are things that I am still trying to grasp. Is there not a way to do that with another language? Or maybe there are not loops in HTML and I just have not learned that yet?

 

Either way, I am a sponge for this information. Like with anything that you want to learn and retain permanently, I am taking my time and making sure that I know the foundations. I am still going to venture to try new things that are just a bit out of my reach in terms of knowledge base, but what better way to learn than to put yourself on the spot?

 

Well off to continue with my learning. Have a goodnight!

 

– Nel

 

 

Here’s to new beginnings!

So I just wrote this heartfelt story that gave insight to what brought me to starting this website and blog, all to have my Google Chrome crash before I could make a save. Talk about luck!

I am going to take that to mean that I need to keep it short (or write it offline!), so that I will do. This website is documenting my journey from underwhelmed employee to entrepreneur, and you are getting in from the beginning. I hope you enjoy the content, and don’t be shy. I want to hear from you too.

 

Respectfully yours

Nelly