Category Archives: yearly

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2011 in review

2011-12-14: Oops! Forgot to make sure the linked image was the original size. Fixed! Also, added a PDF link for people who aren’t on Slideshare.

Just posted my yearly review for 2011. You can browse through the annotated pages on Slideshare. You can also download the PDF from Slideshare or from my site. View it in full screen mode for the most fun. (Mom, if you want to print this, you’ll need 182 sheets of legal-size paper…)

2011 – sachachua.com
View more presentations from Sacha Chua

In case the embed doesn’t work or you don’t want to go through the entire thing, you can still see this year as a sketch (click on it for a larger version):

2011-review

Want to go further back in time? Check out my other yearly reviews!

Living an awesome life as a 27-year-old: a year in blog posts

Happy birthday to me! =) I’m celebrating my 28th birthday today. Here’s the year in blog posts (August 2010 – July 2011): http://sachachua.com/notebook/files/sacha-chua-27.pdf .

Blogging as a 27-year-old: 391 published posts, 382 pages long, more than 190,000 words. If you’re curious, you can see what I was blogging as a 26-year-old and as a 25-year-old.

The short version: my birthday wrap-up. It’s been a great year, and I’m looking forward to learning and sharing even more!

Monthly chunks: August 2010, September 2010, October 2010, November 2010, December 2010, January 2011, February 2011, March 2011, April 2011, May 2011, June 2011, July 2011

My birthday wish: tell me what your life was like when you were 28 what you wish you knew when you were 28, or what I can improve on to make life as a 28-year-old totally awesome. =) Younger than I am? Tell me who you’re planning to grow into when you’re 28!

(Happy birthday to my parents, too. After all, they did all the hard work.)

Looking back at life as a 27-year-old

I’ll be celebrating my 28th birthday this August. Hooray!

I spent part of the Civic Holiday reviewing my blog posts and memories. It’s been a wonderful year. In August 2010, I wrote:

What will life as a 27-year-old look like? I’m excited about long-term growth: marriage, work, friendships, interests. I’m looking forward to small, constant improvements in the way we live. I want to get even better at learning and sharing. When I turn 28, I hope to be able to look back and say that I:

  • helped build an excellent foundation for a loving partnership
  • made a difference at work and grew in my career
  • experimented with ways of living better and shared my results
  • shared lots of ideas, questions, and insights with people
  • lived another year of an awesome life.

… and looking back, I can say that and more.

Life as a 27 year old was mainly about preparation. W- and I got married in October in a ceremony as small as we could get away with – just us, immediate family, and practically-family friends. I’m glad we did. The paperwork helps us make our long-term plans more solid, and it feels great to namedrop “my husband.” We celebrated my middle sister’s wedding in May, too. I’m curious how married life will influence the way my sisters and I interact.

We learned a lot about communication while planning our wedding, mostly inspired by Jay Heinrich’s excellent book Thank You for Arguing and our decision to keep both our names. I’m sure those skills will come in handy in the future as well. We’ve also been developing our teaching skills while helping J- and her friends learn more about math and other subjects. It’s worth investing the time into making things understandable and enjoyable.

At work, I’ve been developing some very useful skills: gathering requirements; scoping and estimating projects; working with Drupal, Ruby on Rails, and Websphere (not all together, fortunately!); working with other companies and teams. It’s been a bit more stressful because I’ve taken on more responsibilities, but it’s good preparation for many possible next steps: consulting and development in IBM, or perhaps a startup if a business opportunity seizes my imagination. The richness of my extracurricular life means I’ve cut back a little on non-project work – the presentations I used to do, the communities I used to help out with – but I’ve still been able to help make many things happen.

Lots of preparations outside work as well. We’ve been tweaking our household routines – simplifying the kitchen, improving the entrance flow, reorganizing the living room. We’ve added more vegetables to our life thanks to a community-supported agriculture program with the stereotypical abundance of zucchini. I’m getting better at gardening. We got more vegetables and fruits out of the garden this year, although bitter melons were a non-starter.  Oh yes, this was the year we disassembled a washing machine and a dryer in order to get the 27” machines down a 26” staircase. I hadn’t seen that coming at all, but it was a wonderful experience.

Lots of reflection and analysis this year, too. With a few exceptions, I’ve been able to share at least one blog post a day for the past year, and that’s been really helpful for reconstructing and remembering. The Quantified Self meetups in Toronto have been inspiring me to measure, analyze my decisions, and review them afterwards. Printing out my blog and flipping through the stories has helped, too. It’s interesting reading things I’ve somewhat forgotten writing. There are my reflections on routinely waking up at 5 AM – did I, before? But it sounds like me, so I must have. Perhaps I’ll try that again.

I’m getting better at drawing. I’m starting to feel more comfortable playing with colors and sketching ideas, relying less on the ability to nudge drawings into the right shape and more on the ability to repeat sketches until they feel right. I take informal sketchnotes at the events I go to, and I’m starting to develop note-taking and presentation workflows that fit me well.

I levelled up in terms of personal finance by opening a discount brokerage account and investing in index funds. The market has been up, down, and sideways, but I’m going to keep investing anyway. It’s reassuring to see that nest egg grow, even though it grows slowly. While the returns are nowhere near the breathless rates I read about in personal finance books written before the financial crisis, they’re okay. Updating my books makes me feel a little more grown-up, even though I don’t go for anything more complicated than passive growth.

My interests shifted, unsurprisingly. I haven’t sewed as much as I thought I would; other hobbies keep me busy. Working at home means I’ve been biking less than I used to. I haven’t fired up our woodworking tools even once this summer. But there are new and renewed interests that fill my hours: writing, drawing, piano, learning Latin with W- and delighting in unexpected discoveries. For example, I learned cras is Latin for tomorrow, which made me think about the word “procrastinate” – ah, “for tomorrow”,  doesn’t that make perfect sense now…

I think the year ahead of me – life as a 28-year-old – will be a year of slowing down, polishing, and finishing. It will be interesting. Drawings, links, and plans to follow.

Yearly review: 2010

What a year for major life changes!

image imageMy cat Neko and I officially moved to Canada this year when I got my permanent residency in January. After wrestling my unhappy and rather pointy cat into the soft-shell carrier, I stowed her under the seat in front of me. Not a single meow or yowl  out of her during the long flight, although there was a moment in airport security when I had a cat on my head.

imageNeko seems to to be getting along quite fine. She has discovered all the warm spots in the house, and has claimed the top cat position at home even though Luke and Leia are both twice her size.

imageMe, I think I’ve figured out the secret to dealing with winter, too. Flannel pajamas, soft and warm sheets, plenty of thermals, and the renaming of winter to "baking season".   Good thing we biked a lot during the warm months.

I got a promotion and a new manager at work. I’m doing a lot of Drupal development again, which is tons of fun. I’m starting to get the hang of this, I think. There are topics that I feel comfortable being "the expert" on in workshops, although really it’s more like doing the background research and being ready to brainstorm and ask questions.

J-’s in grade 7. The alternative school she’s going to now is interesting because the subjects are integrated, so she’s learning about, say, world hunger in mathematics and geography and all her other subjects. She’s hitting that growth spurt, too. Her feet are bigger than mine, and she’ll grow into them soon enough.

image We picked up and deepened a few interests, too. We all learned woodworking this year, building our own Adirondack chairs. (Yes, even J- built one, with our help!) I’m still amazed that I can have a chair that actually fits me, as most lounge chairs are a bit too long.
The chairs were a great vantage point for viewing our garden, which has  imageyielded lots of ampalaya (bitter melon) for pinakbet, plenty of herbs for pasta sauce, and peas and cherry tomatoes for snacking. We’re looking forward to growing even more fruits, vegetables and herbs in next year’s garden! 

image W- and I got married in Toronto City Hall. To keep things sane and introvert-friendly, we celebrated with just family and a few practically-family friends. Everyone flew in, and it was fantastic having family gathered around the kitchen table. The poor photographer was probably intimidated by all these people with better cameras and tons of photography
experience, but he survived. Tita Gay was a force of nature, practically bringing along a wedding in a suitcase. She surprised us with bubbles and image wedding favours. She and my sister Kathy catered the whole thing, and they conspired with Ching and John to spring a wedding
cake on us. We ate pretty much constantly during the week my family spent in Canada, and really good food too. We just finished the very last lumpia from our stash from Tita Gay and are looking forward to making more.

image Inspired by how my mom and dad built these great friendships over time and distance, we’ve been working on being more social: giving home-made kitchen gifts, writing Christmas cards and letters (hi!), and going to and organizing get-togethers. It’s surprisingly fun! We’re looking forward to learning more about building relationships over time.

What a year!

imageimage 2011 promises to be amazing. We’re looking forward to celebrating Kathy and John’s wedding in the Netherlands and the Philippines. We’re also looking  forward to learning more about woodworking and getting even more out of our garden. Me, I can’t wait to do more writing, drawing, and programming, and I’m excited about opportunities to develop my communication and consulting skills.

Please help us with our project of building relationships. =) How was your year? What are you looking forward to in the next one? What are your stories? You can find our past yearly updates at http://sachachua.com/blog/category/yearly . Looking forward to hearing from you!


Updates from last year:

In last year’s learning plan, I said that my key priorities were:

  1. Share as much as I can at work and in life. I want to share as much as possible so that other people can build on that foundation. At work, this means creating enablement material, blogging, organizing the shared content, and helping communities and individuals.
  2. Learn more about drawing, animation, and video. I want to get even better at thinking things through and communicating what I’m learning. The better I get at sharing, the more I can help people learn.
  3. Continue living an awesome life! I can’t wait to explore the experiment opportunities that are sure to come up. I’m looking forward to further building my relationships with W- and J-, family, friends, communities, and the world, too. And I’m definitely looking forward to bringing my cat to Canada as I complete the permanent residency process. I miss her! =)

Although I didn’t get as much into animation and video as I hoped to, I’ve had fun learning about everything else, and I think I’ll continue to focus on writing, drawing, sharing, and connecting in 2011. =)


Links:

Twenty-seven; life as a twenty-six year old

UPDATE: Fixed PDF.

I turned 27 years old this week. If life as a 25-year-old was about taking small steps to build a wonderful life, life as a 26-year-old was about flourishing. Reviewing the past year’s blog posts to get a sense of how I’ve grown, I realized that life had gotten much deeper and richer. Work gave me plenty of opportunities to learn, share, and make a difference. W- and I have worked out our long-term plans and will be getting married in October. I learned a lot from friends, mentors, and proteges, and I shared tons of thoughts and ideas in blogs, presentations, conversations, and notes.

It’s been a great life. Fewer storms than movies or books had me believe, and plenty of wonderful memories and realizations on which to build a future. On the cusp between the mid-twenties and the late twenties, the most unexpected discovery has been that of unconditional serenity. Now I have more to share, and more to discover along with other people.

I’ve selected my favourite blog posts for Aug 2009-2010 and put them into a PDF so that I can archive them in a three-ring binder. If you’d like to review it too, see sachachua-26.pdf. (184 pages, 353k) Thanks for sharing this year with me!

Here’s how the year stacked up against the goals I shared in last year’s recap:

I’m looking forward to learning even more about my passions and interests, people, and life. When I turn 27, I hope to be able to look back and say that I:

  • [X] created another year’s worth of experiences, memories, and dreams – it feels like more than a year’s worth, even!
  • [X] helped build innovation networks and shared what I’ve learned with others – we’ve not only scaled up our Idea Labs (virtual brainstorming discussions), I’ve also helped other groups and organizations use the technique to engage people around the world
  • [X] helped build Drupal skills within the company – Drupal is well-established in our toolkit, and we’re looking forward to doing even more
  • [-] wore something I made every day – I’ve been making more of my clothes and accessories, but I’ve also calculated the my time value of money and decided that some things like technical clothing are well worth the cost.
  • [X] enjoyed home cooking and explored new recipes – This was excellent!
  • [-] relaxed in improvised situations – I haven’t signed up for further improv classes (low sign-ups for the class I want to take), but I’m looking forward to doing this again
  • [-] saved half of my income and donated a tenth – Saved about half, shifting to investing and then donating when that appreciates
  • [X] got to the point of having a place for everything, and everything in its place – Progress! After thinking about what gets misplaced and where clutter accumulates, I tried a few tweaks (beltbag, etc.). Haven’t misplaced important things in a while.
  • [X] built and deepened more friendships – I’ve been mentoring more people and hosting tea parties, and I really enjoy doing both
  • [X] figured out what I know, what I want to learn, and how to share both of those – I’ve been writing and blogging even more, and scaling back on my presentations has given me more time to think and share. Good stuff!
  • [X] shared my happiness and enthusiasm with even more people – =)

What will life as a 27-year-old look like? I’m excited about long-term growth: marriage, work, friendships, interests. I’m looking forward to small, constant improvements in the way we live. I want to get even better at learning and sharing. When I turn 28, I hope to be able to look back and say that I:

  • helped build an excellent foundation for a loving partnership
  • made a difference at work and grew in my career
  • experimented with ways of living better and shared my results
  • shared lots of ideas, questions, and insights with people
  • lived another year of an awesome life.

Learning plan for 2010

Here are my priorities for 2010:

  1. Share as much as I can at work and in life. I want to share as much as possible so that other people can build on that foundation. At work, this means creating enablement material, blogging, organizing the shared content, and helping communities and individuals.
  2. Learn more about drawing, animation, and video. I want to get even better at thinking things through and communicating what I’m learning. The better I get at sharing, the more I can help people learn.
  3. Continue living an awesome life! I can’t wait to explore the experiment opportunities that are sure to come up. I’m looking forward to further building my relationships with W- and J-, family, friends, communities, and the world, too. And I’m definitely looking forward to bringing my cat to Canada as I complete the permanent residency process. I miss her! =)

What do I want to learn to support that, and how can I go about learning?

1) Share as much as I can at work and in life.

I want to share patterns for social software use, organizational knowledge (connecting the dots), skills I’ve picked up, and ideas and insights I’ve collected along the way. I can learn through:

  • Practice: Adding content to blogs, wikis, communities, and other repositories will move me towards this goal and help me develop the skills I need to do it even more effectively
  • Community, mentors: People’s comments and questions teach me what to share and what’s missing.
  • Inspiration: I can get ideas from e-books, presentations, wikis, and other resources.

2) Learn more about drawing, animation, and video.

I want to communicate better. Visual skills complement written skills and can be quite engaging. I can learn through:

  • Practice: I can use drawing, animation and video to share what I’m learning.
  • Community, mentors: People’s feedback will help me learn how to communicate more effectively.
  • Reading: There are a few good resources coming out soon – looking forward to reading them!
  • Inspiration: I can get ideas from presentations, images, and videocasts.
  • Coaches: I can work with editors and illustrators to get feedback and improve the output.

3) Continue living an awesome life!

I can explore this further through:

  • Practice: Particularly experiments! =)
  • Reflection: What am I doing well? How can we do even better?
  • Reading: Lots of books and blog posts about life, yay!
  • Community, mentors: Learning from people’s comments, questions, and advice really helps
  • Inspiration: Looking for examples and picking up ideas from them = awesome