My top 10 of 2017

If you know me, you know that I emphasize the reflection process in my life as a way to learn, grow, and improve. Also, life moves fast, and so this is one of my favorite ways to capture the moments and look back on them too.

Without further ado, this year’s top 10 moments.

we Visited Australia 

In May, my husband (then fiance) took a trip to his home country, Australia.

It was my third time visiting, and we fit in quite a bit during our two-week stay.

  • We traveled to Sydney and stayed in his old apartment in Coogee Beach.
  • We played Settlers of Catan with family and friends.
  • We walked the botanical gardens and took a cruise around the harbor with family during Vivid.
  • We visited Canberra (their version of Washington DC) and sat in on Question Time.
  • Took a trip to “the country” in Mansfield.
  • And ended our trip with a visit to Melbourne.

Me winning at Settlers and enjoying a VB.

Us enjoying the view from Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge during Vivid.

 

Picasso’s “The Weeping Woman” at the National Gallery of Australia

I Left my AMAZING job

After more than six years, I decided it was time to move on from HubSpot and try something new, challenging which will push me to my limit. This was especially difficult because I was leaving one of the teams that I helped build -the HubSpot Academy team.

When I left, I posted an update to LinkedIn to share some career highlights, which you can see here: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6301814278504611840/

Also, if you’re contemplating the difficult decision to stay or leave your current job, check out Red Cape Revolution. Darcy Eikenburg is an excellent career coach who has helpful content and ways of thinking. She offers a course chalk full of introspection exercises and activities to better uncover your superpowers, passions, and goals in life. Also, this TED Talk helped tremendously to make the decision, and so did the book, Designing Your Life.

The impressive HubSpot Academy team climbing Mount Monadnock.

I Traveled the throughout THE US (WITH MY FIANCE)

When I decided to leave HubSpot, Ken and I decided we’d use this time to proactively plan our next chapter together.

Six years is a long time in life, and it’s a long time devoted to one company. When we took a step back, we decided to use this time to travel, potentially move to a new city, and do some formal training.

Thus, we embarked on a journey that we both always wanted to do – travel the entire United States.

We traveled for 45 days and drove about 11,000 miles on our little Hyundai Elantra. We drove as far south as New Orleans, as far west as the coast of California, north as Seattle, and then came back through the middle of the country.

Based on what I saw on our trip, I also was inspired to start Tech Job Training for Americans.

Us on day 1 of our 45-day trip around the US. And the vehicle we traveled in.

we Visited 12 National Parks

Up until this point, I’d only been to Acadia National Park. On our trip, we traveled to the following parks:

  1. Shenandoah National Park
  2. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  3. Guadalupe National Park
  4. Petrified Forest National Park
  5. Grand Canyon National Park
  6. Bryce National Park
  7. Zion National Park. We hiked the Narrows, which wasn’t what we were expecting at all.
  8. Death Valley National Park. It was 107 degrees Fahrenheit when we arrived.
  9. Yosemite National Park
  10. Grand Teton National Park
  11. Yellowstone National Park
  12. Rocky Mountain National Park

Climbing to the top of Guadalupe Peak, the tallest point in Texas.

At the top of Guadalupe Peak with zero visibility.

Us at the Grand Canyon, the day before we hiked down.

Hiking The Narrows at Zion

Thor’s Hammer at Bryce

Our tent at Death Valley in 112 degree weather. We camped in our tent for about half the trip. 😀

Climbing to the top of Yosemite Falls. Notice all the smoke in the background.

Us at “Le Trois Tetons” aka Grand Tetons

Grand Teton National Park

 

The Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone

Rocky Mountain National Park 2 hours north of Denver.

we Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

One of the most physically demanding challenges I’ve undertaken in recent years, hiking into the Grand Canyon was nothing to scoff at.

It was unusually hard because of the challenges we unintentionally added into the equation, like:

  • We did our hike in the middle of August, one of the hottest months of the year in Arizona.
  • We left way too late in the morning. We began our descent at 9:30 am. That is a huge no-no because….
  • We also picked the one trail which doesn’t have access to water or shade, the South Kaibab.

Halfway down our hike, we came across a small bathroom building which had a thermometer on it – it read 110-degrees, in the shade.

When we got to our campsite at the bottom, another thermometer read 130-degrees in the sun. No wonder when I got to the bottom, after a 5-hour hike I was loopy.

About an hour into the canyon.

Halfway down, notice the temperature. :X

Here’s what it looks like toward the bottom of the Grand Canyon with the Colorado River.

we Imposed ourselves on friends while traveling

One of the beautiful parts of traveling the country was being able to see so many of our friends who now live across the US.

We stayed with friends who newly moved to NYC. We met new friends in Raleigh, NC. We stayed with our good friend Brin in Austin and saw other friends who have recently moved there. We visited Sara in San Francisco and Rachel and Ryan in Seattle. We stayed with Ken’s uncle in Vegas, and grandfather in Chicago.

We’re truly blessed to have such great people in our lives who are willing to let us both crash there and show us around their new city or hometown.

If you travel across the country, you have to impose yourself. This was great advice I got from my friend Evan, and I’m so happy we took it.

we Got married

If you read my top 10 blog post from last year, then you know that Ken and I met in Rome. One year and nine months later, we formalized our union by getting married with 50 of our closest family and friends in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

we DID A VEGAN 30-DAY CHALLENGE

One day after our wedding, Ken and I watched What the Health because a close friend recommended it. If you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s a documentary which “examines the link between diet and disease, and the billions of dollars at stake in the healthcare, pharmaceutical and food industries” Ken and I decided we’d try a 30-day vegan challenge.

After 30 days of no meat or dairy, I lost 4lbs and returned to my high-school weight, had tons of energy, and ditched caffeine since I no longer needed or wanted it. I also didn’t need my allergy-induced asthma inhaler which was an excellent benefit as during the fall months I typically would rely on it.

However, it wasn’t easy in the beginning. At the four-day mark, I began to feel listless and wasn’t sure I was going to make it through the 30-days. I felt sick and thought either I started battling the flu or I was ill because of the diet. After a new friend on Twitter generously sent me a free Purple Carrot box, we began to understand the power of nutritious vegan meals.

Some of our favorite vegan recipes:

After going vegan, I’ve remained a vegan at home and a vegetarian outside the house.

Learn more about 30-day challenges here.

I mEDITATED MORE often and fullY

This year I meditated almost 100 times.

Meditation was something I never thought I’d do, be interested in, or need. However, when a colleague said he meditated to “add some yin to his yang,” it got me thinking. I worked at a fast-paced company, on a fast-paced team focused on innovation, and my workouts were HIIT. Everything in my life was yang, so much so that I didn’t truly understand the yin side.

After meditating, I’ve noticed the following perspective shifts:

  • I’ve become a spectator of my thoughts. I don’t always let my thoughts or emotions at the moment drive my interactions, as I can now see them for what they are – they’re akin to clouds floating by as they’re never permanent.
  • I’ve begun to appreciate silence, solitude, and being with myself.
  • I learned about stoicism while talking about meditation, which is a philosophy I now subscribe to and study.

There are so many quality meditation apps available for download for you to choose from. I’ve been using Calm, and I love it.

I Signed on to my next career challenge

While I can’t reveal too much information just yet, I’m thrilled to have found this opportunity and cannot wait to see where this journey takes me.

Honorable mentions:

I started to write again and on Medium this time. You can see my few posts here:

I also went back to my alma mater, the University of Florida, for a football game with my husband and parents. I loved being able to show them where I took business classes, my favorite restaurants/ bars, and take them to a game to give them some insight as to what it’s like to be a Florida Gator.

Another excellent year full of exciting moments has passed, and I look forward to seeing where 2018 takes us. 

 

The three types of practice

Recently, Seth Godin wrote about the two types of practice.

If you haven’t read his post yet, here’s your chance:

Seth Godin’s reminder that not all experts, masters, or highly-qualified people were born that way is encouraging.

We develop expertise through practice and lots of it.

And as learners of the world, we should seek to understand the types of practice, so that we may know which one to call upon and when.

Consider this my attempt to round out the discussion of “types of practice.”

First, Seth’s two types of practices as I understood them below:

  1. Rote practice: Simple memorization to be able to regurgitate with or without emotion when the time calls. Examples include memorizing of facts, lines for a theatre play, or chords on a guitar.
  2. Expert practice: Seth Godin doesn’t call it this in his article. Expert practice is when a person surpasses traditional memorization and can evaluate and apply findings to make something new. They’re practicing their new political opinion or a new guitar riff they’ve developed.

And secondly, I’d like to include a new type of practice to this list – deliberate practice.

Deliberate practice is the bridge squeaked in between the two pillars of practice mentioned above. Its the bridge which helps a person make the cognitive leap from excelling with practice type one discussed above to learning and excelling with practice type two.

While I might call it a bridge to make my point clear, it truly deserves to be considered a pillar of practice too. Still placed between the two types of practice above, yet now complete with a definition, examples, and all.

2. Deliberate practice is a form of taking “rote practice” to the next level.

It puts an intentional spotlight on errors or mistakes uncovered while practicing, making the person aware of them and encouraging them to address them in their work moving forward.

It’s like forgetting the same line over and over in a theatre play. With deliberate practice, you’d notice that you perpetually forget this line, and so as you approach it, you slow down and focus on remembering it. After a few times with deliberate practice, you’d be more likely to remember the line than if you weren’t conscious of it. Another example is when practicing a Led Zeppelin guitar riff over and over, but when you approach a section where you tend to jumble the finger-work, you slow down and focus heavily on getting it right.

All too often we consider practicing the vague act of doing, without any critical thinking. Deliberate practice encourages mastery by bringing awareness and mindfulness to the forefront of training ,and then enacting a plan to improve.

Next time you sit down to practice something – whether an instrument, writing, painting, singing, or anything else you want to master – consider which level of practice you may need to exercise and when.