For my last post to The Pastry Box, I wish I could offer a tidy lesson that I’ve learned from 2014, some sort of new wisdom or revelation that I will carry into 2015. But my life, just like my work, is perpetually messy, and I won’t pretend that I can string my experiences into a meaningful narrative.
Instead, I want to share a few of the things I’ve read this year that had the greatest impact on my life. Whatever small bits of wisdom I may have acquired in 2014, 90% of it came from thinking about the following links. Taken together, they tell a story more powerful than anything that I could tell.
The Importance of Donuts - Lara Hogan
Early this year, Lara Hogan wrote about the importance of celebrating her professional accomplishments in a tangible way – in her case, by eating a donut. Like Lara, I often feel like I’m not accomplishing enough, and while that can sometimes add “fuel to the fire,” over time it wears down your confidence and your enthusiasm for new work. For anyone who wakes up each day feeling like they start “at zero” (and I am definitely one of those people), this is an important – and potentially tasty! – step on the road to remembering your own value.
Sound of Summer - Chloe Weil
I never got the chance to know Chloe Weil, but her death this year was a painful reminder of how the Internet can help bridge the spaces between us, and yet the mysteries of the human heart remain—cavernous, infinite, and sometimes, impenetrable. Looking through her site, I fixated on her project Sound of Summer, in which she catalogs the music she links with certain times and emotions. (Chloe also had synesthesia.) It is a beautiful and well-documented piece of work, and I return to it from time to time both to discover new music and to remember the amazing woman who created it.
Trouble at the Koolaid Point - Kathy Sierra
Looking back, I can’t believe it’s less than 3 months since Kathy published what was, to me and to many women I know, an inflection point in the way we think about our careers & our participation in online life. She gave words to her own experience, and in doing so gave us a language to talk about things we hadn’t known how to share before. Her thoughts are so incisive they seem as though they’ve always existed, and yet they continue to reverberate through our industry and will, no doubt, for years to come. Thank you, Kathy, for everything.
Ditching Twitter - Erin Kissane
Nearly a month before Kathy’s article, Erin Kissane ruminated on the increasing emotional cost of being on Twitter. Along with Frank Chimero’s From the Porch to the Street, her thoughts crystalized so many of the difficult feelings I’d been having about social media this year. Mandy Brown picked up the same themes in October, writing in A Working Letter, "I realized, when reading Kathy’s post for the third or maybe it was the fourth time, that I had silently committed to an exit strategy. I am going to leave Twitter. Maybe not right away, but eventually. Maybe soon."
This idea of an exit strategy has resonated with me ever since; not just from Twitter, but from tech itself, and I know that I’m not alone.
Stay connected to your Internet friends - Val Head
A year ago, I moved away from my friends and community in Richmond, Virginia. I miss them, and although I’ve made lots of new friends in 2014, they don’t live down the street or even across town from me. Thanks to Val, I’ve gotten better at keeping up with the people I love, whether it’s via text, Skype, or Slack. It’s amazing how much that human connection every week can improve your life.