And then, I taught.

Last weekend, I taught my first front end development class! Can you say, exciting?

Back in November, I was invited by Girl Develop It Lehigh Valley to lead an Intro to HTML & CSS workshop in Allentown over the course of two days. I immediately (and enthusiastically) replied yes, eager to finally lead a class and share some knowledge with a curious group.

The class went wonderfully. So wonderfully, that I am still beyond psyched about it. Our group ranged greatly in age, ethnicity, background and experience-level. We covered a good bit of information (all of GDI's courses are open source btw) ranging from the basics-basics, to a layouts 101, and the fundamentals of CSS.

Teaching the class, and not just watching, but participating in helping the women understand the rules, semantics and rhyme and reason to HTML & CSS was an incredible, overwhelming feeling of positivity. Here I am, self taught out of curiosity, explaining how to structure a document, and what elements you'll need in the head of your document. It's pretty awesome and personally, teaching some of the aspects that I had learned on my own, with little explanation, helped reframe some of the concepts in my own mind (I'm looking at you floats & absolute positioning).

I loved being able to explain and walk the women through building a basic, first website, but, equally, if not more than that, I enjoyed the opportunity to really practice and build up on empathy. I strongly feel that it is incredibly important for designers and developers to take some time out of what they do, and teach someone else something.

The act of teaching is a learning experience, in itself, and one of the most important traits of a good teacher is empathy. Teach someone, who knows a bit about what you do, the basics. Teach a group of students how to write their first few lines of code. In order to succeed, you have to not only be able to explain the concepts you're teaching, but consider what you know about the people you are teaching and how you have to adapt what you want to say, in a way that just about anyone is able to pick up on it, and, with some help, dive in.

I marched.

Last weekend I marched.

Taylor and I went down to DC on a charter bus full of women we found to be our neighbors who also wanted to be seen, and heard, just like us. We walked and chanted and yelled slogans for women's rights and then some. Sunday, as I sat and rested my legs from the day before, I felt overcome with determination to not let my anger and motivation disappear: I am going to be an agent of positive change.

To keep myself accountable, I'm writing my list here. I am acknowledging the resources I have, and can utilize to make positive change. I realize I can make the most amount of change in advocating for more diverse tech and design teams, creating opportunity and scholarships for minorities within design, and by bringing communities together, and that's where I plan to focus the majority of my efforts. I think, right now, that's the best I can do: figure out where I can make the most effort and do that.

1. AIGA's Diversity & Inclusion Initiative
Design in Central Pennsylvania is overwhelmingly white, and seriously lacking the diversity it needs to see design thrive, as well as solve that diversity issue on its own. So, we'll add a little growth. I plan to work with my board to establish at least one scholarship fund, providing at least one student of minority background some type of financial assistance while studying design at a local university.

I also plan to use the mentorship program I'm establishing with the chapter to focus on women and other minority emerging designers, pairing them with someone in the field, to help them grow as a designer and professional, and hopefully opening more doors for them, as they continue on in their career.

And, as I have been, I plan to continue to do everything within my power to find more diverse speakers. Our last two panel events I spent an overwhelming amount of time, emailing, calling and tweeting, only to come up empty handed and moving forward, I will continue to search and push for better representation.

2. Empowering ALL women in tech
Earlier this month, I finally put together the women in tech meetup I've been talking about for months (since elaConf, really). My plan, with that meetup, is to use it to reach out to, and bring together women in tech. Empowered women empower women and it is my hope that by creating a space for women to come together, learn together and celebrate one another, we will see our tech community continue to grow in every way it can. I'm also hoping to reach out to enough organizations and groups in the community to bring folks into tech, who maybe never saw themselves there!

I still plan to keep my involvement in the tech scene in other cities, to help bring knowledge back to our area and create opportunities for other women to attend those events too (carpooling, scholarships, etc.).

3. Creating Healthy Opportunities
This year I'll embark on a yoga leadership training program, where at the end I'll have enough hours to get my yoga teacher certification. Initially, I had no idea what I was going to do with it, other than use the certification to donate some time and classes here and there. Now, I know I'd like to use it to offer donation-based and free classes to benefit my community; reach out to local organizations and shelters to offer the services I have.

4. 52 Things in the Next 52 Weeks/10 Things for 100 Days
At the very least, I can help to provide space and community. But on a larger level, I'm working hard to hold myself accountable to follow through, check off the weeks on the lists. One one account, I want to make art that resonates with those who are feeling similar to I, and on another, I know I need to write my senators, my politicians, and make productive noise. Even if it's just space for right now, even if it's just postcards and protests. I try and tell myself that every little thing counts, when all of this feels overwhelming and so very large.

I want to donate my design, my development, my lettering services however I can, and if that sounds like something you maybe need, please, do, get in touch. I try to do a bit of pro bono each year, I think this year might be more than most.

 

Hello, Goodbye 2016

I've never been good at the year in review post. I start it, it sits, it collects dust and eventually I come back and attack it in a bit of a half assed manor that no English teacher would be proud of. I always feel a certain level of I need to do this, I owe it to myself to reflect, etc. It's been eighteen days since the new year came around, and although I spent the evening sick, and asleep by 10:30, the weeks since have more or less kicked me into a rather intentional high gear of desire to inflict positive change.

A few weeks ago, I worked my way through the Holstee Reflection Guide from December's Mindful Art Subscription. As I worked my way through it, listing what I had accomplished, learned and done, I realized, holy crap, 2016 was a year of planning, of preparation and of finding myself. Cliche, I know, but hear me out. Within those 12 months, I spoke, I moderated, I shared, I stood up, I led, I learned, I left, I failed, I traveled, I experienced, I broke, I fought, I believed, I created, I built, I breathed and I was inspired.

And now, thinking back on that again and in light of recent events, I'm motivated. I am overwhelmed with motivation and intention. I'm watching my local community grow, I'm watching national movements form, and perhaps tonight, I'll reflect on my intentions for this coming year, and align those with my goals. For the first time, I wrote down a five year, and a ten year goal of where I want to be at 30 & 35. The level of focus I've gained from that, alone, is something close to incredible, and now when I get up each morning, I remember those goals and know that each day is a step towards those goals.

A few nights ago, I posted to Instagram a shot of letting go and small explanation of what that meant to me, and where the idea came from. I think we all know that 2016 was far from perfect, but now I'm choosing to stare it down as a year of learning, and growth, and that is the core of the motivation that is fueling me today. I have a lot to share and a lot to express and perhaps, documenting and writing those things are an intention of 2017.

Another elaConf, here and gone

I can hardly believe elaConf was a month ago, today! It's about time I finish my recap blog post (and hopefully kickstart a blogging habit for 2017). This lady-led, women-empowerment conference has easily become one of my favorite parts of 2016 (last year's was a highlight of 2015!). The empowerment high I always leave with is impossible to explain or compare to the other conferences, talks and meet ups I've attended this year; the level of motivation, the desire to do good and build community... it's incredible and has me bringing this gif back into my life:

elaConf 2016

I was a bit bummed to have missed out on Friday night's lightning talks, but Saturday's all day programming more than made up for it (even when Philly traffic threatened to make me late!). The sense of belonging and 'girl, you can do anything you put your mind' to was everywhere, and honestly, pretty darn needed in my book. I started a new job the following Monday, and was ready for my yearly dose of encouragement and empowerment (have you ever noticed how empowered women radiate empowerment? It's Shine theory. I swear).

elaConf exists to empower and build a community of women who support one another. Can't find a woman to speak at your conference? There's a list for that. The entire conference is powered by women passionate about finding their place in tech and creating leadership. Mary Scotton, of Salesforce, gave the morning's keynote on 5 leadership lessons she's learned from her son, Nicole Zhu talked to us about squads (Lancaster, I'm forming one - let's go), I moderated a panel on self care (with some wonderful, wonderful ladies sharing their favorite tips for preventing burn out and taking care of yourself!), Ruthie Floats had a perfectly timed talk on handling rude folks, Lisa Yoder talked about getting involved and giving back, and Adrienne Lowe closed the evening with a talk on taking up space and being you in that space. And I missed out on Friday night! There were even more talks then. And I didn't even list the break out sessions, lunch talks and post-conference conversations. Honestly, I could use a bit of elaConf every month (thank goodness for Slack).

Talking Self Care

In the days leading up to elaConf, I finished up my last two weeks at my previous job, and took a few days for me. I had considered applying to speak at elaConf, but knew this year would be a busy one, and instead signed up as a volunteer. One of my 2016 goals was to talk and create conversations in places that matter more, so when I was asked to moderate a panel, of course I said yes.

Working with the women on the panel to form questions, and address all the things they included in their inspiring abstracts had me so excited to take a seat with them on stage. We talked favorite self care strategies, how their employers promote self care, how to advocate for yourself and take the time you need, when you need it, how to get through a multi-day conference, without neglecting yourself and more. By the end of the panel, I think the whole room was brimming with Sunday plans to practice some self care.

Shout out to Alyssa Dill for these beautiful sketch notes! 

#Goals

So, I got inspired, got motivated, now what? The blow of the election stole a good bit of that motivation (what a rollercoaster), but I'm back on the up and up. I'm starting small.

A reoccurring theme throughout the day was the idea of taking inventory of what you've done, what you're learning and what you want to do, aka, keep a list of every single victory, big or small and use it! Stuck in a rut? Reflect. Make a mistake at work? Look back on your list. That list is your bragging rights. As women, we need to stop minimizing victories! We do amazing things, every day, so damn right, we deserve to celebrate them. Do something everyday that you consider to be a win (getting out of bed counts!) and build up that proof for yourself that you do belong.

Additionally, two talks in the morning in, and I was itching to get a community going in Lancaster and the surrounding areas of women supporting other women in technology and STEM Fields. So, I started these two little tools in the meantime, that I'll be building up in the coming months:  Shine Lancaster and Lancaster Ladies in Tech Slack. I'm ready to have conversations, empower women, and radiate shine theory.

Footnote: Feeling that FOMO, or missing the empowerment? There's a storify for that.