Last year, I was focused on a theme of Connection. (I’ll have more to say about how that went soon.) After the year that was 2020, I am looking forward to a 2021 focused on Recovery. The first steps are pretty straightforward in that my family is still grieving the loss of my grandma to COVID-19 in December. I also have a minor surgery scheduled for later in January that will require some Recovery time.
Beyond that, though, Recovery is about regaining what has slipped away a bit over the last couple of years. This means some fairly uninteresting goals like losing the weight that I’ve re-gained but also re-establishing some of the Connection with folks that had begun to take shape before the pandemic hit.
One aspect of Recovery might not spring to mind unless you’re a sports fan, and I think it’s important. In sports, it’s important to have techniques for recovering from mistakes. This means that on an ultimate frisbee field, if my mark gets away from me because I misjudge a play, my strategy for defense shifts. Maybe there’s some extra compensation to cut off a throwing lane or expanded field vision to see where the play might be developing next. But there’s also calling for help such as calling “NO BIG” for the player marking the disc to keep the disc from being thrown down field. In my Year of Recovery, this is going to mean front loading my year with some big swings to jumpstart some of the vectors of improvement.
Lately, I’ve been having dreams about simple things like playing ultimate frisbee, throwing sick upline I/O flicks and just sitting with my notebook or laptop at a coffee shop. I know we’re not nearly there yet, but I’m champing at the bit for when something like normalcy returns. Overall, I’m looking for 2021 to be a year on the upswing, emerging from the hellscape of 2020, especially for the people that were affected by this shit show in ways that far outstripped whatever inconveniences I have gone through.
On the work front, Test Double took decisive actions to adjust to the uncertainty that arose in the spring as the pandemic was popping off. Our leadership did a really good job of steering us through it all. That has resulted in us being in a really good position heading into 2021 to do more great work for great clients. Last year, I got to do some really meaningful work supporting some health initiatives with a global non-profit, and I’m starting with a new client next week.
I’ve been loving the reps I’m getting growing in NodeJS and React plus learning a lot more about GraphQL. Last year, I grew a lot in some important non-technical skills as well. I was part of a small teams that had a real influence on improving our career growth and advancement structures as well as our strategic plan for services in 2021 and continuing to conduct technical interviews for new consultants.
We’ve been making DEI more and more central to the work we do at Test Double, and the internal work we did on this in 2020 in particular made it easier for me to notice and act on opportunities to support some underrepresented folks in my orbit. In discussing some of these situations, I’ve found some additional ways I can improve my approach in the future, too. This is an ongoing process of learning and leveraging my privilege to create more equitable opportunities and recognition in the spaces I occupy so easily.
Outside of work, I am currently reading a book about haiku. This is something I’ve been interested in for a while, but tagging along on Natalie Goldberg’s journey discovering the form and examining the masters is a lovely way to go deeper into this curiosity. I’ve started trying my hand at writing them in my bullet journal, ideally one per day, to see if I can approach anything like a real haiku. The haiku master Basho said,
He who creates three to five haiku poems during a lifetime is a haiku poet. He who attains to completes[sic] ten is a master.
I am continuing to learn more about woodworking. My current project is building my first workbench, which will then be the stage for more projects. I don’t put much pressure on myself for this, and it’s nice to be able to disappear into the garage for a couple of hours to focus hard on something new. Woodworking requires enough concentration that my mind can’t really wander or ruminate about things. It’s also physically demanding enough that I can’t work on anything for more than a couple hours or so before my back or knees ache. This keeps me coming back more consistently versus sporadic marathon sessions. But there’s also not any pressure to achieve anything by a certain time. The workbench I’m building I have put probably close to 60 hours into, just taking my time and trying to do the best job I can. Right now, my best job is still pretty rough, but over time, I am hopeful that I’ll be able to achieve something to be proud of.