Surf’s up in Kona

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Hawaii. My winter escape to sunshine and marine life. For me, it doesn’t matter that every year I go to the same place with my family. We stay in the same condo complex and see the same friends and this is perfectly fine with me. I am baking in the sunshine while the dolphins spin by and the whales spout along the coast. This is the epitome of a mental reset for me.

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An Event Apart: Key Takeaways from a Web Designer

Conferences. I love conferences.

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Compared to Seattle Interactive Conference, from a design perspective, I loved the format of this one. About 12 speakers over the course of two days, in one room, so there was no running between rooms or going to a dull session and feeling like you may have missed out on something better. This is a conference for people who make websites so it is pretty specific. I dig it.

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I always come out of these type of events feeling JAZZED, EXCITED, BURSTING AT THE SEAMS WITH CREATIVITY.

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And then comes the slow decline after realizing maybe only half of what I learned, I can actually take back and use in my design process. Because that’s just how it goes.

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1. Writing and articulating your thoughts is key to a successful career.
Dare to speak! Unlock your inner voice! It doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it.

2. Responsive Design is changing the way teams work together in an organization.
Teams should be working together throughout an entire project. The practice of just handing off tasks between teams & not touching the project again is dying.

3. Designers need to start surfacing conflict.
If we ignore any issues that we’ve identified before starting a project, we’re setting ourself up for bigger conflict down the road. So get that shit out of the way. Tackle it head on. Nothing good comes from burying it and ignoring it. It is our job as creatives to handle those problems. We are problem solvers!

4. Act like the expert the client hired you to be.
You were not hired to be the client’s friend. *cue Liam Neeson voice* You were hired because you possess a particular set of skills, skills you have acquired over a very long career. Skills the client does not have. They trust you. Don’t blow it.
Confidence isn’t about you either. It’s about the client. If you don’t act like the expert, you’re going to freak your client out & they’ll question your abilities to complete their project and no one wants that.

At the end of the second day, I left with a handful of new tools for my design toolbox, but also with a new perspective on things. I had a project with a client recently and the website part went really well. Looking back, its because my manager and I sat down one afternoon, developed our plan, and came in confident that our approach was the right one. And in the end, it was. It really is all about the confidence you exude. And right now, I’m feeling pretty good.

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2014: To the Moon & Back

2014. What a long yet incredibly fast year. Funny how so much happens that when you look back on the year, some things seem like an eternity ago.

Through all the terrible worldwide things that have happened this year, I’ve stopped to reflect more and remind myself how blessed I am with wonderful friends, wonderful family, a wonderful significant other (and our furry babies), and a wonderful group of creatives that I get to call my team.

So many wonderful things happened between travel to new places, friendships formed that extended beyond the workplace, and rediscovering a passion for something and having it ignited again so fiercely (reading, TY Diana Gabaldon for Outlander!).

2014 was a year of new skills: cooking, crocheting, completing my first big web project at work. Finally taking responsibility for my financial situation. You can still put money in savings and have a life (but seriously fuck credit cards).

In August I did something completely uncharacteristic and bought tickets to Hamlet in London, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. I’m building a trip around that event for Ryan & I. England and Scotland. Finally. A huge dream come true: travel to the UK in the autumn. I cannot wait for 2015.

The past two days I’ve been dealt a few cards that caught me off guard, that have made me want to kiss this year goodbye and shove it off a cliff. (Sorry 2014, but its true.)

On Monday, my partner in crime at work, the other web designer, my mentor, told us his last day is next week. I’m so incredibly happy for the opportunity he’s taken & for his family. But I’m also incredibly selfish & wish it wasn’t happening. When you lose a good team member it’s like being punched in the gut. So I’m upset. Happily upset. Damn you Jeff. Who’s gonna send me Loki/Tom Hiddleston GIFs now??

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So 2015. Here’s to you, and the many adventures that wait. I have resolutions and a lot of them are the same old stereotypical ones. Get fit. Eat better. Save money. Perhaps the biggest one is to get over my fear of speaking up in meetings, or in front of a group, or presenting projects. It’s been my biggest hinderance. And for someone who grew up being constantly talked over and never listened to in class or with friends, after 26 years, its a weird feeling to try and find your voice in that way.

2015. Let’s do this.

Happy New Year, xoxo,

Steph

Vacation all I ever wanted: Cabo San Lucas

I love my job. I’m blessed to be doing something I love, but about every June/July, I find myself burning out. Overloaded, uninspired and in need of a break where I am completely cut off from email & any thought of work. It’s just how it goes.

A few back to back 60 hour work weeks in June this year after no real break in 6 months made me thankful that at the last minute we booked a trip to Mexico with another couple.

This was my first trip to Mexico & it was lovely. Cabo is vibrant and full of culture. The people are kind & personable. And the food is fucking delicious. I may have permanently ruined enchiladas for myself.

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A wildlife conservation booth by the marina let’s you hold a tiger cub that is eventually sent to a wildlife reserve. You donate to reserve to hold the cub. I would never do this if it was purely for someone else’s profit. I love animals & this little guy was too cute. They rescue these animals from black market sales & we were happy to support this cause.

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Senor Frogs was awesome.

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Cabo Pulmo is home to the only living reef in North America. We went out snorkeling and saw huge schools of fish, sting rays, manta rays and a school of Mahi Mahi. It very remote and a very small little town.

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Our final day in Cabo, the day we were supposed to leave, we were hit by an unexpected tropical storm. I have never been in a storm so ferocious & was worried we wouldn’t make it to the airport or that our flight would be delayed. It blew through so quickly though & we were able to leave. Though final time in the sun and in the pool was now not possible before checkout (boo!).

We will be back to Cabo, though as a Pacific Northwest native, I will never again go to Cabo in July. 97 degree heat is one thing but added humidity of 40-50% every single day was just crippling for someone not acclimated. The constant need to be immersed in a body of water is tiring.

But it was a good trip. I came home inspired in many ways, one of which has put me back on track to pick up learning a language again.

I’m happy to be home with my furry baby girls again though. Now to countdown to the next trip.

Have a relaxing weekened,
xoxo
Steph

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