Strength in flexibility

Living with 2 rowdy toddlers and 2 even rowdier pups, I’ve developed an unconscious habit of softening my knees anytime they are horsing around.

I’ve only recently become self-aware of this. If I’m standing around chatting and a child goes flying by, my immediate instinct is to widen my stance and relax my knees without even pausing my conversation.

In movies, before a crash, the pilot will often say, “brace for impact.” But parents, skiers, gymnasts, and anyone used to or expecting to take a hard hit to the legs know that tensing up and bracing the body before a blow can do more harm than good.

Flexibility, combined with a strong foundation, makes us more resilient. The next time you’re facing a tough situation, feeling threatened, or standing your ground, pause. Consider whether flexibility may help you around the conflict.

The ability to adjust to conflict instead of trying to fight it will only make you stronger.

Designing for Humans

There is a growing trend throughout the web community to embrace an understanding of behavioral science, and to apply its tenets to our designs. This progress helps us walk the delicate balance between providing an emotional and pleasurable experience for our users and communicating content and information through clear, intuitive patterns.

When the web was first developed, it functioned as a large database, a means of transmitting information from one server to another. Its design was, inherently, mechanic, and placed little emphasis on experience or enjoyment. However, its usefulness as a computing tool was quickly surpassed by its potential to connect. The act of browsing the web grew from a personal, targeted experience (one person looking for specific information) to a multi-user and multi-use phenomena (countless people across the globe exploring a myriad of information and interactions).

Today, the web is a primary means of communication, information-gathering, and enjoyment. Its users have as many interests, limitations, and characteristics as they have faces. I cringe when I hear web design referred to as a facet of “Human-Computer Interaction”, or HCI. Computers are mechanical and thus unable to elicit emotional responses to their users’ needs. If we inject a personal element to our designs, then we can provide an emotionally-driven interaction that is more than just a series of inputs and outputs.

When designing for humans, we recognize the innate differences that each person embodies while accounting for the absolute similarities that all humans share: a sensitivity to group dynamics, emotional stimulation, positive feedback, and familiarity. (more…)

A willingness to fail

What is it about our culture that some people are so keen to fail while others aren’t? The ability to cast off from the shore with the full ability that you may sink is a trait many envy. I envy it.

In Silicon Valley, failure has become somewhat of a badge of honor. A startup founder who was willing to move on his idea, though it didn’t gain traction, still holds value to venture capitalists and the industry at large.

The reality is, it’s not the failure that’s impressive, but rather the willingness to take a risk, to expose your brainchild to the evaluation of your peers (and complete strangers) and put it all on the line. Those people who are confident enough in themselves and their skills are willing to risk having nothing in order to have it all, and more importantly, to make something that matters; something that lasts.

I struggle every day with my fear of failure. I find myself afraid to speak my mind, share my thoughts, write a personal blog post, embark on my own. Working for a startup has eased that. I’m better at sharing ideas that may fail. In fact, many of my ideas do fail, but that makes the ones that stick much stronger.

As designers, we have to see failure as an opportunity. We must be willing to expose ourselves to criticism and change. To know that version A-L may not be accepted, but version M will be phenomenal. By being willing to fail, we are constantly pushing ourselves forward.

Sexism

Man: [Makes sexist comment]

Woman: I take offense to that.

Man: Why?

Woman: It came across as sexist.

Man: No it didn’t.

Woman: It did to me.

Man: If I were a woman, I wouldn’t think that was sexist.

Woman: But you’re not a woman.

Man: Oh, so my opinion doesn’t count?

Woman: It does, but not in this situation.

Man: Oh, so just because I’m a man my opinion doesn’t matter about what is and isn’t sexist?

Woman: ?

Man: That’s so sexist.

Changing seasons

I love the smell of the leaves changing, of fireplaces lit, and the fresh, cool breeze that wipes away the lingering heat of summer. People talk about spring cleaning, but fall cleans my soul. It’s the time of family and community – Thanksgiving, gathering before hibernation, the harvest. It is our time.

Back east, fall announced its arrival in red, burgundy, and brown. Here in the west, our cue is the changing of the aspens. As the mountains turn gold, interspersed with the evergreens, we know we are only a few weeks away from the first cold.

In the afternoon, I open the windows, letting the clean air fill my home. I leave the window cracked at night, bringing out our down to warm us from the crisp air.

The coyotes hunt in the creek bed at night, their song filling the air.

We are lucky to be a morning’s drive from the high mountains of Colorado. This weekend we visited Telluride, looping back south along the headwaters of the Dolores.

I always feel blessed in fall.

On Family

My family

I’m not sure where to begin.

My family is what you might call “modern”. I guess you might also call it normal, although, what is normal?

My husband is fifteen year my senior. It doesn’t feel like we are more than a day apart in age. He was married once before, and his eleven-year-old lives with us full time. She calls me “Mom”, a title I initial fought but have learned to embrace. I never wanted to be a replacement to her birthmom. I always wanted to have my own thing.

Zoë’s mom lives in Salt Lake. They see each other occasionally, although, the older Zoë gets, the more effected she is by the memories and stress her birthmom inflicted on her when she was young.

I’ll talk more about that later. This is an introduction to my family.

In addition to Zoë, Jeff and I are lucky to have 2 young boys, Noah and Pete. They are my heart and soul. Noah is incredible, amazing, confident age of two-and-a-half, and Peter is rounding the corner on six months. I don’t know where the time has gone but I am grateful for every moment.

Family is love, whatever that means to you.

I am glad to raise my children in an age where they can decide what family means. Perhaps all 3 of them will be traditional, raising 2 ½ kids hopefully not far from here. But maybe they won’t have children, or have lots, or only one. They may love a man, or a woman, or raise their kids independently.

Family is love.