2015 Year In Review & 2016 Resolutions

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Last year I started a (now annual) tradition of reviewing my personal goals, and setting new ones. Looking back, I can’t believe how much has happened this year. It’s definitely been a roller coaster, and I’ve definitely grown a ton as a person. Thank you all for joining me on this journey!

2015 Retrospective

Here are a few projects I’ve launched over the past year (all source code available on GitHub, where I made 2,396 commits this year):

contribution graph

That was all outside of work. At IBM, I worked on two large-scale pattern libraries (one for Watson and one for Bluemix), built prototypes for product iterations, and helped build a Front-End Development community and curriculum for trainings.

Knowledge Sharing

Last year, I said I wanted to “participate in conferences and community” as one of my goals. With that dream in mind, I went about applying to speak at conferences, hoping to get invited to one. Here’s what actually happened:

dog gif

I gave 17 talks/workshops on Sass, UI interaction, performance optimizations, keyboard ninjary, open source design, goal setting, and CSS filters and blend modes. I wrote 30 blog posts on topics ranging from experimental (like Generative Pixel Art via Sass matrices and blend-mode hacks to create Faux 3d Effects, to quite practical (5 Uses for Sass Maps and a class-based CSS architecture system). I also recorded audio for every post I wrote on my blog and the audiobook version of the SVG Pocket Guide. And finally, I started a podcast about developer tools called Toolsday!

If you'd like to support my code calligraphy or just send a simple thank you, I made an Amazon wishlist of pens, paper, and audiobooks :)

I also started doing code calligraphy as a way to visualize some mnemonic devices and solidify my skills. People on Twitter seemed to really resonate with them, so I want to make more. A lot of people mentioned that they wanted prints, a book, or posters. I’ve got some ideas, but we’ll see how it pans out with time.

Other Things

I traveled a lot this year. According to my TripIt data, I traveled a total of 139,872 miles to 29 cities in 8 countries. Where? Australia, England, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and France (and many trips around the US too). While short conference trips can be taxing, I do really love to travel. My Instagram is now full of photos from my adventures and I got to meet so many awesome people (the best part of conferences)!

Interviewing with Sylvain after my dotCSS talk in Paris.

I started to read a lot, too (by read, I really mean listen to audiobooks). I finished 51 books this year. My favorites were:


Apparently people took notice of my work, but didn’t know where to categorize my contributions. I was shortlisted for Young Designer of the Year while also getting on a list of 2015’s Top JS Devs to Follow and Female Tech Influencers 💪. One day there will be a place for people like us.

Personal Goals Outline

So how am I doing on those overall goals I laid out last year?

  1. Build quickly, ship things, and learn. (yep!)
  2. Contribute to Open Source (hell yeah!)
  3. Share knowledge as often as possible (definitely!)
  4. Appreciate the creative & talented people in my life (I try)
  5. Use Vim + the keyboard more often (yes!)
  6. Up my JS Game (I’m definitely better but should learn way more)
  7. Performance-first advocacy (yep!)
  8. Foster designer participation in OS projects (around me, yes — outside, maybe?)
  9. Participate in conferences & community (LOL. yes)
  10. Use web components (nope)
  11. Be kinder ( ¯\_ (ツ) _/¯ )

Some photos from my Instagram documenting my travels this year.

2016: Small Dreams are Boring

That's my mantra for the year. To dream big and put in the effort to make things happen.

Professional Goals

There are so many things I want to learn and get better at! First and foremost, JavaScript. I feel like I have a general grasp on most web-development concerns (accessibility, performance, progressive enhancement), and I’m pretty darn good at styling (Sass & CSS). So for me, the next step is to really focus on improving my JavaScript skills from just being functional to having a really good base understanding of how to build and work within a web app. .

I'm going to share as I learn, so get ready to join the JavaScript train, my friends.

If you follow me for my CSS content, don’t worry — I’m not going to stop writing about other front-end topics, I just also want to understand flux architecture and all the magics of Webpack. I want to understand good API design and improve my knowledge of algorithms and data structures. I think I just need to start building some apps out for this (and I have a few ideas in mind already!)

I also really want to write a book on an entirely different topic — which is about working with images in the browser. It will cover everything from choosing a media format to performance to getting fancy with filters and blend modes. I’m currently in the process of looking for a publisher — so if you know any interested, feel free to forward them my email address (see footer). (also, feel free to send me email to say hello, because why not?)

Personal Goals

Look, Mom! I'm upside-down!

First and foremost, after years of hackathons and conferences, I’ve come to realize that my wardrobe has now come to resemble that of a 20-year-old startup bro. Worse still is that I got comfortable wearing these tshirts and jeans every day to work everywhere. I want to dress better. And actually make time to go shopping :) that might help. Pinterest too.

I also want to get fit again (yes, I failed at this in 2015 — but I blame all of the travel). I started taking classes like aerial silks, which were awesome, and I want to continue those while also training for a half-marathon. I know it’s going to suck at first, but hopefully I’ll learn to love running again. I need to prioritize my health.

My last personal goal from 2015 was to be better at keeping in touch with people I think I failed on that too. So I’m going to try to better in the future.

2016 Goals Overview

I’m cutting this down to fewer and more concise goals than last years. Here they are:

  1. JavaScript. It’s so powerful, and I want to get much better at it so I can be a powerful wizard, too!
  2. Write a Book I have a book idea in mind and I really want to make it a reality.
  3. Bridge the Designer/Developer Gap Continue sharing knowledge on front-end topics relevant to both designers and devs.
  4. Build All The Things Build things quickly, ship, learn, and then build them better. Open source it all, too.
  5. Prioritize my Health Run that half marathon — fitness is mandatory, not optional.

I’ll leave you with this lovely holiday song about the state of developer life from your Toolsday hosts (Chris Dhanaraj and me) 😃