Finding Joy in 2018

Last year, I talked about my preference for intentions over resolutions or goals. I don’t like being specifically bound to any one thing. I like exploring ideas and following my heart, and I like joy in my day-to-day.

So, after some thought, I decided what better guiding principle for 2018 than joy. Do the things that bring you joy, and kick everything else to the curb. 2017 had some really teachable moments when it came to figuring out what brings me joy (and what doesn’t), so I’m using what I learned last year as a guide.

Career joy

Learning brings me so. much. joy. I’m still cranking through Bov Academy, and I have loved every part of the program so far (seriously, I cannot rave enough about it). Not only have my JavaScripts skills improved immensely, but the folks at Bov are so incredibly kind and supportive, and I feel like Richard and Co. really are setting students up for success. It’s been the most positive experience of my career as a frontend developer to date.

I think I’m about half way through the program, and I have a rough goal to see if I can complete it by the end of March. By the end of 2018, I will have a great grasp of all things JavaScript, know React really well, and hopefully will have some time to dabble with D3 on the side. Because nothing brings me more joy in coding than thinking about all the fun things I could do with JavaScript + React + D3. 😄

But what about WordPress?

WordPress is undergoing some major changes this year with the Gutenberg project, and truly hope the project is a massive success. But one thing I realized in 2017 is that WordPress has no place in my future career.

I love the frenetic, break-neck pace of Silicon Valley. The excitement here over new ideas and technologies is contagious, and I’ve missed working within that. And frankly, I also miss earning Silicon Valley wages. I haven’t worked this hard, or invested as much [time & money] in my career to earn less than I did when I was 26 years old.

EDIT (Feb. 6, 2018): I’m an idiot. Have you played with the WordPress REST API? Thanks to Zac Gordon’s Frontend Masters course, I delved into last week, and I am addicted. I’m hoping to push up some changes to my site in the coming week or two to add some REST API-driven features. It wasn’t super difficult to learn, and it’s. SO. MUCH. FUN. If my a future WordPress career could involve more hands on with JavaScript and the REST API, I think I’d be pretty damn happy.

Side projects

I needed time to mentally adjust from working full time to learning full time. And during that time, I became much more protective of my free time. This means I no longer work on things after 6:30 p.m. when my husband gets home from work. It’s been a refreshing change of pace, and frankly, I think it’s helping me solidify my learning a lot better.

This isn’t to say that I haven’t been working on a few things on the side here and there. But I have been trying to keep my side project time down to a maximum of 15 hours per week so I’m mostly focused on studying.

And maybe it goes without saying, but my side projects these days are not WordPress centric. I am not actively maintaining any of my current WordPress projects, and will likely make a few repos private in the coming months.

EDIT (Feb. 6, 2018): Still a derp. Nothing new from a WordPress projecting perspective yet, but I’m mulling over some ideas to pursue in the near future.

Personal joy

Holy shit. There is life outside of coding. Did you know that? I almost completely forgot about that since transitioning careers. I used to spend most of my evenings and weekends working on coding side projects to learn and keep progressing, but I realized in 2017 that I’m too old for this shit™ (in case you’re curious, I’ll be 35 in ten days).

I haven’t exactly pinned down how I want to focus my personal time in pursuit of joy, but these are some ideas I had:

See more live music shows

A few weeks ago, Darren, my husband, and I went to see BadBadNotGood in Oakland. The show was pure magic. In fact, I think it usurped Sigur Rós at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley as my new favorite live show of all time. There is just something so magical and amazing to me about jazz and jamming. So I’m going to keep an eye out for more shows this year. I’d love to catch Bonobo, yet another STS9 show, and others. I’m still kicking myself for not getting tickets to Cut Copy in November. Oh well.

Take up a musical instrument (again)

Maybe I’m still caught up in the after effects of BadBadNotGood, but I’ve been thinking about taking up the tenor saxophone again. I played clarinet and tenor sax in high school, and it was so much fun. I still believe if I’d started my music major with the sax, I’d have finished my degree as a music major (but hey, Latin American studies was just as awesome). For that brief year I was a music major, I also learned to play piano as part of the curriculum. I enjoyed that immensely, and I’ve been debating between buying a sax or investing in an electric piano.

Update (Feb 6, 2018): ha, this probably ain’t happening. I haven’t thought much about it since writing this post, which is why when it comes to ideas like this, I let them simmer before I go too far.

Travel for leisure

I’d like to do more traveling. I did some in 2017 for WordCamps, but none for pure leisure. I always felt pressure to get back to work, but this year, I’m not even sure I give a fuck. I’ve still got a good 30 years of my career left, so maybe I should enjoy life while I’m still young. I don’t have any particular destinations in mind, but I haven’t been out of the country for several years, and wouldn’t mind going abroad. Australia was so great Darren and I went for our honeymoon, but Hong Kong seems enticing. Likely, we’ll go back to the UK to visit my in-laws, which would actually be really nice. I haven’t been back to the UK since I left in 2013.

Skin care

Some women like fashion, some like makeup (I mean, I don’t wear a ton, but I do really like it), and some are obsessed with skin care. I fall pretty squarely into the last set. I got somewhat serious about skin care shortly after moving to California in 2005. One day I went to get my eyebrows groomed, and Claudia, the esthetician who helped me recommended I try getting a facial. I was skeptical of the up sell at the time, and it took me five or six visits for brows before curiosity got the better of me, and I got a facial. And holy shit, it was so damn amazing. Not only was it super relaxing, but after about a half a year of facials + better skin care products, my skin was looking clear and radiant.

Unfortunately, I haven’t really had the extra cash for facials since I moved back to California in 2013. That said, I’ve recently delved into the world of Korean skincare and brands like The Ordinary. I’ve been slowly transitioning from using Aveda products, and my skin is actually improving again. It’s been more hydrated and glowly, than it has been for some time, and it’s been fun researching products to figure out what best suits my needs.

I have a lot of other less-than-half baked ideas around personal joy pursuits. I’d love to do something for the greater good. But I don’t know if that means getting involved in a political cause, or helping kittens in a local shelter. I do know it is something I need to explore further. Either way, I know that whatever I decide, it needs to bring me joy.

What will you do to bring joy into your life 2018?