Past-Due Update

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Are you more of a planner or a doer? I can tell you that I generally really good at planning things, but not as good at executing them. Most of the time, I get caught up in the details, and if things don’t happen perfectly, then they don’t happen at all. I realize that this is not the best way to do things, because sometimes you have to take the leap and then handle the details as you reach them. This is something I’m working on.

I’ve been laid off since mid-March. Since then, I have gone through a journey of sorts. This journey apparently didn’t involve blogging, but I think I’m ready to start writing again, so here I am! I have done so much reflecting on who I am and what I want out of life. This is something that I’ve always tried to do, but it’s been so much easier with less distractions. Not having a job has been such a good opportunity for me to figure things out. Now that I’m emerging from the tunnel of self-discovery, I figured this would be a great time to update you all on my life and start regularly updating this blog.

As I have written here before, I have decided that I want to work in the tech industry as a web developer. Since being laid off, I have worked really hard to continue learning the skills I need to work in the industry. That work has brought me to be accepted to Prime Digital Academy, a local school that teaches software engineering. It’s a bootcamp-style school, which means that it has an accelerated pace. Starting next Monday, for a little over a month, I will be doing coursework at home for about 20 hours per week. Then, from mid-September until early December, I will be doing coursework for at least 40 hours a week in person. I will be graduating in December with the skills I need to get an entry-level job in the field. I am so excited about this news! They only let in 10% of applicants the first time they apply. So, being accepted has been a huge source of pride for me! I’m excited and anxious to get started!

Coding isn’t the only thing that I’ve been working on. My health has been a huge focus of my time being laid off. The one frustrating thing about having PCOS is that there is so much conflicting advice on how to get symptoms under control. Additionally, it can be hard to find support, so I’ve been doing research and trying to find the support I need to get healthy. After lots of trial and error, I think I’ve finally figured it out!

First, with the trials: Last spring, when I started researching how to get my PCOS symptoms under control, I found that lots of women swear by the Ketogenic diet. The Ketogenic diet is essentially a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet. The theory is that the less carbohydrates that you eat, your body goes from burning carbs for the fuel that it needs to function to burning stored fat. So many people talked about having awesome lasting results. I did research, figured out how to eat on Keto, and dedicated to giving it a try. I lasted two and a half days. I had no energy. By the third day, I was laying on the couch unable to do anything. I felt gross from eating so much fat and not enough vegetables (people said I could eat veggies on Keto, but veggies have carbs, so it’s tough!). So, I made the decision that Keto was not for me. It basically seemed like a crash diet, which I’m not a fan of. I know that it works for some people, but I am apparently not that person.

Then, I read a book called WomanCode by Alisa Vitti. In her book, she claims to have cured her PCOS with a mixture of diet and exercise, and lays out how she does it. She started a business in New York City to help other women, so part of the book is really an advertisement for that, which I found really annoying. The information in the book about how to eat and how our bodies work was really useful. She also lays out a 4 day “reset”, which is essentially a cleanse to reset hormones and cleanse your liver. I made it almost 2 days. When I started to have no energy, I did some math to figure out if I was eating enough calories. Nope. 700 calories. It made me feel like a failure, but I couldn’t continue with that either. I still am going to use the information from that book to understand my body more and change how I eat a little. But I decided to keep looking for a different option.

Which leads me to now: a couple months ago, I got a Facebook friend request from a girl I had never met. I usually ignore these requests, but I decided to check her out. She also has PCOS and has grown a small community of women who are able to support each other. She also quit her job to work full time as a Beachbody coach, so she can coach others with PCOS and people who have trouble losing weight. By following the Beachbody system of meal planning, drinking superfood shakes, and working out every day, she has lost weight, gotten healthy, and recently announced that she is pregnant! I want to have kids, and I am dealing with needing to get healthy or else deal with infertility or going through fertility treatments. Her story and support has been refreshing, and so I joined a 30 day workout group led by her! There are tons of other women who also struggle with PCOS and we all want to get healthy! I’m excited to give it a try and hopefully see results. This time, I made sure it wasn’t a diet with too few calories, or with tons of restrictions. Since it’s not, I think it’s something I could be successful at. I will be writing an update when everything gets going, to let you all know how I’m progressing!

I’m pretty happy with the plans I’ve made for my life, I am hoping that everything works out. I would really like to see some progress and work hard for my health and happiness!

Let’s chat: What goals are you working on right now?

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Coding… What is it Good For?

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This past week, I stumbled upon an article on TechCrunch entitled, “Please Don’t Learn to Code“. As you might know, I’ve been learning Web Development and Design for almost a year now. Most days I love it, some days I’m frustrated and wonder if I’m crazy. This article caught me on one of those missing confidence days. I read it, hoping that the title was misleading. I thought maybe the takeaway would be something like, “Don’t think learning to code is a process with an end date: it’s something you will continue to learn for as long as you try.” Or something along those lines. I was wrong.

I will be honest: this article didn’t deflate me as much as I would have expected. There were some legitimate and good points. For instance, the tech industry is kind of getting this “idealism bubble” placed around it. Many people seem to think that shows like Silicon Valley and rags-to-riches stories like Steve Wozniak and Mark Zuckerberg (if you can call Harvard “rags”) are the norm in tech. If you learn to code, you will make a billion dollars and maybe get fame and fortune. Coming up with the next big thing isn’t that hard. You might go through some tough times, but it will definitely be worth it in the end. Like anything else though, learning to code isn’t a one way ticket to wealth.

This article also made the point that there are people who learn to code without realizing how difficult it will be. Tech is an ever-changing field, and working as a programmer is a life of never-ending learning and growth. The languages I am currently using to build websites are not going to be the languages people will be using in 10 years. They might not even be the languages we use in 5 years. And, that’s part of what appeals to me. I love the idea of continuously learning and improving while still making a living. I can see where that would be frustrating to some. It almost sounds like it’s frustrating to the author, who spent time learning a coding language that is not only not really used today, but that new coders didn’t have to learn before moving on to the newer languages. I don’t really see that as a negative, however. People who have known how to code for a while, and know languages that new coders don’t know have an advantage in that they knowledge base that others don’t. Those new coders will one day also know what it’s like to see the language they have been using cast aside for something else. It’s just a part of the life of a programmer.

One of the more ridiculous arguments that was made in the article was that learning how to code is like learning how to be a plumber. This really isn’t the case. When you learn to be a plumber, you fix pipes. Of course, there are different kinds of pipes and different kinds of problems, but they are generally all related. When you learn to code, there are tons of different things you can do. There are people who work on the back end with servers and databases. There are people who work on the front end, making things look nice and handling the things that people see. There are people who work in big groups on big websites, there are freelancers who work on their own. Some people learn to code and never use it for anything more than enjoyment. Some people learn it to cause problems for others by finding critical mistakes in code. I think the argument is a little over simplified. I also don’t think it makes much sense because it’s kind of true for all trades and fields. I worked as a barista in coffee shops for a few years. I learned how to make coffee and other drinks. I learned quite a bit about sourcing coffee and what different kinds of beans and roasts meant in terms of flavor. That knowledge, however, isn’t really transferrable to other jobs (besides the fact that I make a mean cup of coffee and I am good at customer service).

The trick is to find skills that are easily transferrable, and I would argue that coding is one of the better fields for that. Not only is tech really broad in terms of the necessary knowledge and how someone’s skills are applied, but the problem solving and knowledge of technological language are things that can be brought to countless other positions. Besides the fact that it takes a while to learn, I personally don’t think there is any harm in learning to code. It doesn’t back you into a corner in terms of how you can use those skills and what kinds of jobs you qualify for. It opens up doors for freelancing, and being useful around an office.

So, after reading that article, it really got me thinking about why I was learning to code. Obviously, a lucrative career is something that appeals to me. And the ability to continue to learn and grow is something I’ve been searching for. Also, the balance of logic and problem solving with creativity is something I have found that I enjoy. It was good to be able to think about these things and remind myself of why I am putting time and effort into this.

The day after reading that article, another article was posted on Facebook that caught my eye: “Please Do Learn to Code“, written by Quincy Larson, the creator and teacher at Free Code Camp, one of the sources I use to learn. Quincy is a great source of encouragement and knowledge about the process of learning these skills. He is the first one to say that basically anyone can learn these skills, as long as they are willing to put in the time and effort. I have friended him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter, because having people who are a source of encouragement has been really helpful for me.

The basic idea of Quincy’s article is that learning to code is beneficial, even if a person doesn’t work in the field. Programming is how humans talk to computers. Since computers are becoming increasingly intertwined in our day-to-day lives, it follows that being able to communicate with them would be useful. I completely agree. We use computers to automate work for us. The example he gives is Google searches. Without Google, it would be really tough to find the information we needed, and it would not happen as fast as it does with Google. Before being able to search the Web, some people would spend hours or days looking for the answer they needed. Some people never found the answers they were looking for. Now, we can type something into Google and have more answers than we need in only a matter of milliseconds. That wouldn’t be possible without people who know how to code, though, because computers need a clear set of instructions to be able to do tasks. Programmers are the people who give computers those instructions.

Something I found interesting about Quincy’s article is that he called coding “the new literacy”. I suppose this makes sense. Programming languages are similar to spoken languages. The words and symbols have meaning, and there are people who understand it, and people who don’t. Technology definitely isn’t going anywhere, so being able to communicate with it isn’t going to harm anything. There are people who ignore the changing trends in technology, or fail to realize that they are being left behind, and they will not be able to flourish the way that people who keep up with the changes will.

I am going to continue to learn this skill, and encourage others to do the same. Even learning a little bit and having an understanding of how technology works is a skill that is beneficial. I will not let articles dissuade me and break my confidence. I think it’s important to think about why you’re doing the things you’re doing. It’s good to challenge yourself and your reasons for doing things. It’s also important to find people who support you and help you remain confident. It’s important to find mentors and friends who are proud of you and will help you when you’re having those missing confidence days. It’s also important to be realistic and know that nothing comes easy, and those things that are truly worth it may require a lot of work.

This couldn’t have happened at a better time for me: I have an entrance interview this week for a coding school. I am scared and not sure that I have what it takes. I am not sure that I’m qualified. But, it’s something I’m passionate about, and so I have to at least try! If I get in and am able to go to the school, it will definitely help me reach my goals and I will learn so much from the experience. Humans are made to learn new things, so why stop learning?

What do you do when you need a boost in confidence? Let me know in the comments!

Lazy Sunday Binge Watch: Feminism Documentaries

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On Friday, my husband and I were both feeling under the weather, and spent most of the day in the living room watching documentaries and cuddling with our two adorable cats. It’s probably kind of weird that we watch so many documentaries, but it’s definitely evidence that we’re meant for each other!

Two that we watched on Friday were related, and were both amazing! I’m going to talk about both of them today, because I loved them both so much! They were both very informative, inspiring, and a little sad.

The first one we watched was called She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry. It’s about second-wave feminism in the United States. They talk to many of the women who were leaders in the movement, which was incredible! It was so awesome to be able to hear about the women’s liberation movement from the voices of women who were actually a part of it.

One of the coolest things about the movie was seeing footage from the time, not just of some of the protests and speeches, but also footage of the press and how they talked about the movement. It made me mad, because there were news stories where the reporters were really rude. It made me thankful that I wasn’t alive back then. It was also interesting learning about the women’s liberation movement and the role the civil rights movement and anti-war movement played. Those movements worked together because they tended to have quite a bit in common.

The most heartbreaking part was when they were discussing Roe v Wade, and the way things worked beforehand. One woman talked about how she had a friend from high school who only made it a few months into college and died because she had an unsafe abortion. The role that access to birth control and healthcare for women is so important. This movie made it clear that it’s not something to take for granted. It’s part of the reason that women now are able to have careers and plan their lives. It was a good reminder that access to healthcare, family planning, and birth control is still something that we’re fighting for here, and its importance shouldn’t be forgotten.

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry can currently be streamed on Netflix.

The second film we watched was Miss Representation. This film was a good complement to She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, but it took more of a modern focus on media portrayals of women and how it affects not just adults, but also children. This film was made by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who is the wife of Gavin Newsom, the current Lieutenant Governor of California. She is an actress, who has become a filmmaker and activist, drawing attention to how the media affects both males and females.

Miss Representation talked to politicians, actresses, youth, activists, journalists, and others about the role that media plays in the lives of women and young girls. They discuss many topics, including how women journalists wear revealing clothes, like they are on screen as decoration, rather than as professionals informing the public.

They also discuss the film industry, and how there are not many women protagonists or directors. This is especially unfortunate since women make up 51% of the American population. They bring up an interesting point: women will watch movies and shows about men, but, in general, men will not watch movies or shows about women. This is really strange to me, and I’m not quite sure why it’s the case. That would explain why there are not as many female protagonists, however: it seems that the industry doesn’t think there is much of a market for it. That is starting to change, slowly.

One of the coolest things about this movie was that there were a couple different generations talking about the same issue. It’s cool to see the different perspectives and experiences, since they are so similar and yet also very different. Gloria Steinem, who has been working on this cause for a long time has been through different life experiences than a high school student, but both perspectives are important. It was also cool because the movie discusses how this issue affects men, which is important and interesting. A lot of time is spent discussing how the media’s portrayal of women affects females. And rightfully so. But, it’s important to note that this issue also affects boys and men. It not only impacts how they view the women around them, but also distorts their view of the way the world operates. I find this to be extremely interesting.

Miss Representation is also available for streaming on Netflix.

I think that both of these movies are a good pick for anyone wanting to learn more about the women’s liberation movement or feminism. They are also good movies for people who are knowledgeable about feminism and media’s portrayal of women because they both give great examples and food for thought.

Let’s chat! What’s the best movie you’ve seen lately?

Three Recent Realizations About Myself

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I’ve basically been living and breathing web development recently. I wish I had been keeping track of the amount of time that I’ve spent learning, building, applying for classes, reading, etc. It’s been a huge time investment for me. The one nice thing about it, though, is that I enjoy it. Spending a ton of time on something doesn’t seem so bad when it’s something you like. I recently finished a three month class from Skillcrush on some web development topics. It didn’t go deep enough to make me qualified for a job, but it did give me some good practice. I feel like I have a solid foundation, and now I just need to flesh out my knowledge a bit, keep building, and work on having an awesome portfolio and web presence!

Being laid off was maybe one of the best things that’s happened to me. I would like to go back to work, of course. It has given me an opportunity, however, to do some soul searching and figure out what I want to do. It has given me a chance to reflect on the jobs I’ve had in the past, the skills that I currently have, and what skills I’m missing. I’m trying to find the balance between finding a job as soon as I can and finding a job that I will actually enjoy.

Through all this reflection and learning, there are a few things about myself that I have realized lately.

  1. I am really lucky. I have the most fabulous support system, which has been really necessary during the last few months. Losing a job is one of the hardest things that people go through. Even though my previous job was not very satisfying, it’s still hard to be without work. I was already learning web development though, so when I was laid off, I already had something to work towards. I have people around me who are proud of me for taking my career into my own hands. I have found something I love to do, and I’m working hard to learn it, so it’s nice to have all that hard work recognized.
  2. That doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days. I took a class last week about finding a job, and one of the things we talked about is the roller coaster of emotions that people go through when they lose their job. There are definitely the good days, when everything seems to be going according to plan. But, there are also the bad days, when things seem gloomy. Those bad days are the days when I internalize everything that’s happened, which is definitely not productive. It’s normal though. So, I just take the lows in stride, and wait for the upswing that will come.
  3. I have learned to be more appreciative. I have been lucky enough this year to watch spring unfold. I have watched the tree outside my living room burst into life after the winter. I have watched the bare branches become full of bright green leaves. I appreciate myself more. I have been able to take time to learn more about myself. It has helped me not be so hard on myself. I have been able to focus on me my family, my pets, my living space, and just breathe. I have grown to appreciate stillness and quiet. I have been able to appreciate my thoughts and the sounds of nature. I have been able to tear myself from the busyness of American life for a little while and experience the world around me. I appreciate that there is a program that allows me to worry less about money during this hard time so I can focus on getting a job that will make me happy. I will forever be grateful for this time and all it’s done for me.

Right now, positive thinking is really important to me. Being able to see the silver lining and all of the good things around me is something that isn’t just for right now, but is something I think will come in handy for the rest of my life. Even though things aren’t always good, and life can be terribly difficult, it’s good to be able to come at problems with a bit of perspective.

Let’s talk! What have you learned about yourself this week?

Lazy Sunday Binge Watch: Invader Zim

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When I was young, cartoons were kind of weird. And on all the time, it seemed. I remember waking up early on Saturday mornings to catch the cartoons. I don’t know when Saturday morning cartoons stopped being a thing, but it makes me kind of sad. I had a schedule for my cartoon watching. I would go from channel to channel, making sure I caught my favorite shows. Looking back, there were TONS of cartoons and kids programming when I was young. There were also reruns of shows that my parents watched when they were young, which I also appreciated. It was a good bonding experience for us.

The past couple Sundays have NOT been lazy for me. Binge watching has been put on hold for coding exercises, resume writing, applying for jobs, and beautiful weather. I am trying to write here more, though, so I picked a show from my past!

When I was in high school, I was definitely part of the nerdy crowd, I would say. I was in a college prep program, so my classes were more advanced. I was a theatre kid. The “parties” I went to involved table top board games, mountain dew, pizza, and movies. My group of friends wasn’t really into drinking or drugs, most of us were into comic books, obscure tv shows and movies, and laughing. It was from this group of friend that I discovered one of my favorite shows, and my pick for this lazy Sunday: Invader Zim.

Invader ZimĀ is a super weird and obscure cartoon that aired on Nickelodeon in 2001 and 2002. It was created for the station’s older demographic, and somehow was not very successful, so it was cancelled with episodes left unaired. While I admit that it’s a little dark for a cartoon and weird, it’s definitely no worse than Ren and Stimpy, which I think was a little more successful.

Invader Zim is about an alien named Zim who is tasked with the mission of coming to Earth, find a way to fit in with the inhabitants of the planet, gather intelligence to help with the future conquest of the planet, and help enslave the human race. His sidekick is a malfunctioning robot named GIR (my personal favorite part of the show). Together, they mostly get into shenanigans. Zim disguises himself as a human grade school student, and starts attending school, while working to gain intelligence on humans. He is accepted into his class by everyone except for Dib. Dib is a fellow student, who is interested in the paranormal and supernatural. He is convinced that Zim is an alien, and wants to out him.

In general, the episodes revolve around Zim’s plans to take over the world with the help of GIR, and Dib’s efforts to stop Zim and expose him as an alien. There are tons of weird things that happen in the episodes, but the thing I like most is the dark humor. This certainly isn’t a show for young kids. Not only will they not get it, they probably wouldn’t even like it very much. But, it’s a great show for teens and adults. Especially if you have no problem watching cartoons, appreciate dark humor, and like things that are offbeat. If these are things you’re interested in, I would highly recommend trying this show a try. It is only 2 seasons long, the episodes are short, and it’s currently streaming on Hulu Plus, which is awesome because it used to be extremely hard to find. If you watch the show, love it, and enjoy comic books, there are Invader Zim comic books now. I haven’t read them, but I’m glad they’re out there.

What cartoons do/did you enjoy watching?

 

The Return of All Things Autumn

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*Sigh*

It’s been a while… Like two months??? There has been a million things going on in my tiny corner of the world, and I finally feel ready and able to talk about it all! I feel terrible about abandoning this blog for so long, I have thought about writing here almost daily, but sometimes a break is good. I’m going to talk about a couple of the big things that have been going on, the ones that are worth mentioning.

So the first change is that I was laid off from my job a couple weeks ago. Being laid off is always a bummer, because you lose your source of income. For people who love their jobs or are in tight financial situations, it can be especially heartbreaking. Luckily, I am not really in either position. I did not especially enjoy my job, though most of the people were lovely to work with. I also had a feeling my position would be eliminated, so it wasn’t really a shock when I was pulled into the meeting. My husband and I aren’t rich by any means, but we’re ok. At least ok enough that I can take my time finding a new job. The hardest part was not being able to say good-bye to the people that I worked with, at least not many of them. It’s hard, but it has given me the opportunity to focus on some projects and things that I was not able to focus on before, because of a lack of time. I don’t really have a lack of time anymore, so I’ve been really productive! All in all, it’s been a good experience for me.

Secondly, and somewhat related to the first thing, is that I have been making progress on learning to code! I was able to build my own website, and make it live! I feel accomplished in being able to do it. I’m now learning a new coding language, and it’s much harder than anything I’ve learned so far. I still really love everything that I’ve been learning, and I’m excited to see all of the awesome things that I’ll be able to do as I keep learning!

Lastly, to celebrate my return to blogging, I have changed the look of my site! I hope you all like it! It’s nice to add a splash of color to the blog. Perfect for spring!

I promise I won’t wait another month to update this. I hope you all have been doing well!