2017: Everything’s ok

What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

In 2016, it was the moment that when immersed in the election aftermath that anything could change. In 2015, it was the moment when I realized that I could finish Ice Cream Travel Guide. In 2014, it was when I wrote a well-crafted piece (that I read to a live audience 11 months later). In 2013, it was when light shone in the face of despair. In 2012, it was when I stood up for myself. In 2011, it was a moment of clarity, sincere belief and friendship. In 2010, it was an action of commitment.

I got many rejections this year. I got the disappointments. I saw the disbanding of the nation heading toward the unneeded isolationism.

But what made everything ok was when I gave advice to others. People who were seeking solace, mentorship, hope found me. I often wasn’t ready to give it. I didn’t quite believe myself, but I tried to give the right thing.

And oddly, others believed me. The more that I said it. The more that I started believing it. And the more that it became true.

The people who were starting in UX and wanted my ideas. It was the new writers. It was the people who had just moved to San Francisco. And other.

And it really made a difference to me.

2017: Next Step

When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

In 2010, it was about dream making. In 2011, it was about sticking to my boundaries. In 2012, it was about being true. In 2013, it was about embracing fear. In 2014, it was sitting my butt down and writing. In 2016, it was about leading.

Interestingly, in 2017, I did make that effort to lead. It paid off, because I acted more like I knew what I was doing. Although there were a few moments where I expressed my own insecurity openly. But I kept going.

My next step is about persistence. I know my goals. In a short story from a few years ago, I wrote a character based on myself that simply declared to another that she always knew the right choice. She never was uncertain. She was deliberate of her choices that were based on evidence and data. And partly intuition.

What matters the most is pursuing those goals, because I know what I want. So I must persist despite rejection. Despite disappointment.

I will keep prevailing. In writing. In the job. In the home. Because setbacks shouldn’t matter. They are just stumbles along the way.

2017: Moments

Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2017 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2017

2016 5 minutes, 2015 5 minutes, 2014 5 minutes, 2013 5 minutes, 2012 5 minutes, 2011 5 minutes, and 2010 5 minutes

  • Visiting Thailand (foodie!) seeing Chiang Mai and Bangkok
  • Eating at Gaggan
  • Doing that long circle train ride in Yangon, Myanmar
  • Starting to understand what fake news really is about
  • Witnesses Trump’s tweets and misdeeds
  • Attending the Women’s March and making it all the way to the end at the Embcadero in the rain (with Tomomi!)
  • Attending the March for Science march
  • Speaking at MidwestUX
  • Making frens at MidwestUX despite social anxiety and making strong connections that hopefully will last
  • Going to interview at Fitbit and saying quite directly that I didn’t like the idea of a wearable
  • Getting that job
  • Realizing that my level was actually at Principal level
  • Quitting Mayo Clinic and telling my manager there about it…on his birthday (unintentionally)
  • Visiting Arizona for Lorri and Paul’s wedding
  • Seeing yo lady house and other stuff in the same trip
  • Having Chris finally moving in
  • But having to deal with all the stuff !
  • Watching Star Wars, Gook, Big Sick
  • Hosting movie nights at taiche old place
  • Figuring out how to dump taiche old desk
  • Remembering the last trip to Rochester Minnesota
  • Seeing the quote that I mentioned in my goodbye email be printed out and posted on the cubicle wall after I left Mayo
  • Moving my desk into the office
  • Having my bikes stolen :(
  • 2017: Making

    What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

    In 2010, I made xmas photo. In 2011, I made metaphorical things—that were intentionally symbolic of relationships and history. In 2012, I made ice cream. In 2013, I made design. In 2014, I made “my room”. In 2015, I made the last line of Ice Cream Travel Guide, literally. In 2016, I made my annual holiday video.

    This year? Well, just minutes ago, I did some design work for my job, which doesn’t feel super compelling. But things that I am proud of—that ice cream sandwich. That petit four thingie. And reorganizing my place with Chris.

    But the most satisfying thing was creating my annual holiday card, compiling a list of 10 things—which was a mass of discussion in trying not be too negative about 2017. Not everything that we learned in 2017 really needed to reflect our political tendencies or the disgust of how the country is going.

    As with all years, I made a holiday video. The previous week, I spent browsing the most viral videos of the year to find the video or meme that would not only be simple to make but had that instant connection for me.

    After browsing through a number candidates, it was clear that the BBC news interview interrupted by a young 4-year old was the clear winner.

    First I had to consider my setup. Due to Chris’ recent move-in, everything was in disarray. But I remembered that the deep analysis had looked at exactly how Robert E. Kelly had setup his interview—books that would look intellectual, a world map to suggest that he was wordly, and a sports jacket.

    As a principal product designer, I take video conferences all day. Quite often, I am anguished by external sounds—like the construction or roommates stomping in the hallway. Not only that, I often spent some time perfecting my background so that it looks that I am serious about my job (NOT!)

    The wall where Chris and I had done an affinity diagram of our goals for 2017 was quite appropriate. I also had the business suit that I had purchased right before college education (I soon discovered that most jobs in the Bay Area do not want a business suit).

    And so after explaining the scene to my sister and Chris, I set up the scene. I removed as much possible from the bed. Then I placed a copy of Ice Cream Travel on a nightstand. Then I tried to move the laptop (yes, this time a laptop to simulate a video call) as far as from the door as possible. I put it inside a bookshelf within the Expedit. Then we had to consider who would play the role of the little brother, especially since we didn’t have any small child available. At first, Toad was the right candidate, but we realized that Toad was going to be too small in any rolling tool that we had (and the camera wouldn’t put at the floor anyway). So we took Mr. Bear and placed him in an office chair with the instruction that my sister would push the door open.

    “Dress rehearsal!” I called.

    Then with one take, I started blabbering into the camera using Photo Booth app on my macbook. Then Chris entered, doing a jaunty dance. I pushed him aside. Then Mr. Bear entered while Chris looked through the book. Then my sister entered the room pulling Mr. Bear and Chris out. I continued blabbering. Then Chris entered with a Happy Holidays greeting which I would jump in.

    After the dress rehearsal, I looked through the video to see any adjustments. Mostly to make sure my sister appeared out of frame when Mr. Bear entered in the office chair.

    Then on the next take, we executed! Looking over it briefly, we decided that it was good enough quality.

    And that’s how the video was made.

    2017: Moment

    Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail.

    In Ice Cream Travel Guide. In 2015, it was the moments after my hat was “stolen” in Rio. In 2014, it was a moment in a writing workshop that I had achieved greatness. In 2013, it was talking to Yasar Usta in Istanbul. In 2012, it was using the ocean as a “big toilet” while floating outside Palawan. In 2011, it was my birthday moment. In 2010, it was the success in Journey to the End to the Night.

    This year was full of ups and downs than the typical year. But was it those moments? When I executed a plan on quitting my job? Or when I went to constant protests and showing up to events? Or was it when I interviewed and received an offer? Or when I had decided that I didn’t care what people thought anymore? Or was it smaller—when I stopped being afraid of being quiet and spoke up, sometimes too much in a confrontational way (because of this year)?

    I know that this year, it was less about the moments of ice cream. Although I still had some great ones at Wanderlust Creamery in LA and that constant flurry of great flavors at Garden Creamery in San Francisco.

    What I do know was a moment that I had been at a conference earlier this year. It wasn’t about being on stage. It wasn’t about the fact that I got my talk accepted or that I stood in front of a huge amount of people telling a story that touched people. It wasn’t even after the talk when people came up to me and ask more about my thoughts. It was none of that.

    It was the moment that stemmed from the moment that I had enough of skulking around one of the conference mixers, because I was having horrible social anxiety. For whatever reason, I was unable to connect with anyone. All conversations that I had fell flat and dwindled into nothing. Then suddenly, I found myself standing alone, awkwardly.

    I had read Captivate earlier and was trying to read the cues of where to interject. I wasn’t end up like the awkward person I was in college where I had failed to make connections because I never tried. I was going to try. But everything kept falling flat. I kept looking for the feet pointing outward, but I just couldn’t find it.

    So instead, I finally headed to the patio (a place where I had awkwardly entered already twice by this point). There, I noticed a group of people stand up, leaving a seat on the sofa open. It seemed like a prime opportunity, but I knew that the potential could fall flat leading into a conversation of nothing.

    And it started super awkwardly. But somehow I made a good impression when suddenly everyone wanted to get up and I shyly asked whether I could join. And when I suggested “ice cream”, everyone cheered and I immediately earned my place.

    It wasn’t exactly that moment. During that first night, I was still evaluating the group, trying to figure out who these people were.

    I just knew that I had made a good impression, but nothing more. In the subsequent days, I made an effort to talk to people one-on-one. And there connections were made.

    But it was the moment at the conference closing party. Where I was invited to stand at a table, chatting with everyone. When suddenly a conversation about being conservative and liberal popped up. I thought carefully and crafted my conversation. But most of all, I was being me, communicating my thoughts. Insisting on my place as a woman of color. I knew that because the group liked me, they would always side with me. I thought that they were fascinating too.

    We went to the rooftop of a boutique artsy hotel. On the way, we said goodbye to some. Then I said goodbye to another.

    But then that was what it was. An instant connection all because I took a risk. I felt alive in the resulting moment, because I rarely if ever connect with people that instantly. Especially people who were so very unlike me. And then I did it.

    2016: Everything’s OK

    What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

    In 2015, it was the moment when I realized that I could finish Ice Cream Travel Guide. In 2014, it was when I wrote a well-crafted piece (that I read to a live audience 11 months later). In 2013, it was when light shone in the face of despair. In 2012, it was when I stood up for myself. In 2011, it was a moment of clarity, sincere belief and friendship. In 2010, it was an action of commitment.

    In 2016, it was the moment that I realized that everything that was disappointing this year can change next year. Sure there were the results of the election and suddenly distraught I was the following morning, but I found solace in potential political groups, the sudden community, and the outpouring of hope. And obviously Chris, the most political savvy person I know, didn’t say that the world was the end. I knew that it was okay. It was also the moment that I realized that I could change how my career went. I found myself in a place of disappointment, but I realized that I had the skills and experience to change my destiny. It was also the moment that despite what the adage goes, it’s harder to make friends when you’re older, it was when I was meeting new people easily for both my work and writing. I didn’t have to stay with the status quo.

    In the last several years, I have learned to be proactive in the face of insurmountable obstacles. Because somehow deep inside me, I sincerely believe that if I keep chipping away at a block, I will finally climb over it. It’s like a jawbreaker. Usually, it’s too huge to put in your mouth to suck at it. But eventually with multiple licks (and probably chipped teeth), it will get smaller and smaller. Because any huge obstacles do not stay obstacles if you keep leaning.

    I will ask. I will keep moving. I will keep requesting. I will keep trying. I will keep doing. I won’t stop.

    Everything’s going to be ok.

    2016: Next Step

    When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

    In 2010, it was about dream making. In 2011, it was about sticking to my boundaries. In 2012, it was about being true. In 2013, it was about embracing fear. In 2014, it was sitting my butt down and writing.

    This coming year? I hadn’t written about next steps in the last two years, mostly because I didn’t have that desire to have a next step as I always had it. Partly, I don’t want to be accountable for the declaration of a next step if halfway through the year, I decide that I didn’t like that next step, that it wasn’t true to me.

    But I want my next step to be leading. I want to stop quibbling about my issues of following. I want to make a difference, and the best way to make impact is by leading. Although some may say that I should be my own boss, I am past just following directions—whether for my career or my career.

    Yesterday, during dinner with female colleagues, I openly spoke about upcoming challenges in my career. I didn’t intend to fall into a trap (that I must have felt myself falling toward), but I essentially asked, “What should I do?”

    Perhaps all I wanted at that moment was that I wanted to be assured that the decision that I was going make was the right one. Yet I suddenly found myself in that dark, expensive farm-to-table restaurant where I felt conflicted about the menu full of foods that didn’t fit my appetite nor fit my pickiness (too much kale, too much flowery vegetables, too many olives, too much food that required wine, etc.), one colleague started telling me what to do and then everyone else followed. I found myself inviting people to tell me what to do—the shoulds and the coulds. My fingers tightened, and I gazed at the black leather billfold. But my politeness was leading the way. And so I followed.

    I need to be leading. I need to stop let others keep me trapped or even falling into the trap. Some would say calling it being authentic. But rather, I would do it with the empathy that I truly want

    So lead. Make a difference. Be fearless. That’s all I really want for the next year. Job. Writing. Personal life. And find those who can support me the way it should be.

    2016: Travel

    How did you travel in 2016? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

    In 2015, I went to Brazil for a conference, multiple work trips, and a midwest trip. In 2014, I went on multiple weekend trips, increased business trips, and found a destination for ice cream and writing. In 2013, I finished off the bulk of the travel for the Ice Cream Travel Guide. In 2012, I started the journey of a life and went to what I thought was unfathomable (in my life) — six domestic destinations and eight international destinations — for professional and personal reasons. In 2011, I went on one international trip, one domestic…and one super local. In 2010, I went on one international trip and multiple domestic trips.

    In 2016, I traveled to:

  • Finland/Sweden for Interaction 16 where I gave my first huge talk, visiting Northern Finland for jaunts at Santa Village and attempt to see the Northern Lights, one whole day in Estonia, then a whole day in Stockholm, road trip to Jamtland for Faviken and skiing…not to mention one day in Istanbul (again). And we went by ferry, car(s), overnight train, cross country skis, downhill skis, trams, subway, streetcar…
  • A pseudo-bachleorette party with Chris and my sister in Portland with a surprise visit from our parents
  • Driving on a road trip to LA for my sister’s wedding and fooding along the way
  • Three visits to Minnesota through Minneapolis and Rochester for time at Mayo Clinic
  • No trip to Italy. No trip to Seattle/Portland. No visit around the United States for a book tour. So it was less than anticipated.

    Next year, I hope that there will be a work-related trip, perhaps to New York. But there’s a trip to Phoenix for my friend’s wedding. Then a trip to LA in April for a writing conference. Then a side trip to Big Sur for the writing workshop with Cheryl Strayed et. al! I am not sure what trips are planned for the rest of the year, but I would have to be convinced. Perhaps New York? I hope. Perhaps somewhere where I could use my points? I don’t know!