2013 // The Year of Ch-ch-ch-changes!

It’s so hard to believe that it has been an entire year since I sat down to write about my life. Or at least anything not solely related to my job. So much has happened in these 12 short months. If I were to identify a theme for 2013, I’d have to call it the year of ch-ch-ch-changes. Of course that’s kind of a cop out… every year brings with it changes. But these changes felt bigger than most, and their effects are still rippling through my life in a way that keeps me a little farther from peace than I was on New Years Eves past.

So without further ado, here’s what I mean by ch-ch-ch-changes:

I founded Detroit Women of Design & UX.

The disappointing representation of female thought leaders in the UX field and lack of diversity in design leadership in general inspired me to do so, along with the fine ladies at chiDUXX. I met a ton of super rad women (and male supporters) during the experience. Seriously, Detroit has it going on in that department. Leading the group also confirmed that being involved in my professional community is something I really care a lot about. Unfortunately I no longer lead DWDUX—geographical divide and all—but I’m happy to say it’s still alive and well.

We closed Maple Arcade.

Ouch. That one sucked. We learned the hard way that running our own business is a TON of work. And it takes money… LOTS of money. Two things that we didn’t have as much of as we needed. I like to think we’ve made peace with the decision, but it’s still sad to think about how we never really got to realize our true vision for our gallery. I would say “maybe one day”, but I doubt we’ll ever embark on that kind of adventure again. Owning a brick-and-mortar business is especially limiting and I don’t think it gelled with the lifestyle we want for ourselves.

I quit my job at Organic.

A bittersweet memory, to be sure. Changes with the company and more limited opportunities prompted my decision to explore my next step professionally, but I still miss it. It’s hard to think I’ll ever get to work with so many amazingly talented people all at the same place again. And the Detroit UX crew… I still tear up when I think about how great we had it working together.

We left Detroit and moved across the country to Portland, Oregon.

To say it was our greatest adventure is an understatement. We drove over 4000 miles and through 15 states in our little Scion XB… just me, Jeffrey, and Maple. It’s hard to put into words how seeing that much of the country (a lot of it for the first time) meant to us. New Mexico, you rock. Idaho, we might skip you next time.

We got some roommates.

So, uh, moving is expensive. And with a bunch of Maple Arcade debt to dig ourselves out of, shackin up with some friends made a lot of sense for our first year in Portland. Luckily my bestie Jen is one of them, so it feels a lot more like family than a boarding house.

I joined Empirical UX.

One of the only things that has helped me move on from my awesome job at Organic is my super-awesome new job at Empirical. A small user experience shop focusing on design and research for innovation, Empirical is proving to be an awesome challenge for me as a UX pro. We’ve got a team of awesomely experienced and enthusiastic people and a ton of exciting projects. I’m really looking forward to growing my career there.

I got my travel on.

Aside from our cross-country trip, this year I hit Portland (before we lived here), Myrtle Beach, San Francisco, Seattle, the Oregon coast, and the Washington coast. They were all amazing. Perhaps one day I’ll share some recaps.

I lost 100-ish pounds.

It feels great, but I still have a ways to go. Next step: pulling my sweet tooth (see resolution #1 below).

Annnnd I crossed a few more things off of my 101 in 1001 list before my deadline was up.

Such as:

3. run a 5k (I did two, actually!)
76. go to a comedy show
85. get involved in a community project (Meetups count, right?)
93. visit california
94. visit a winery

I haven’t started another one yet, and I’m not sure I will. My track record of completing the goals I set for this particular project isn’t so great and I don’t really have the desire to put more effort into it. The truth is, what I want to accomplish varies greatly over 1001 days. Looking back, I don’t see a lot of unmet goals that I still really care to do (at least anytime soon).

For now, I’m focusing on a couple of good old-fashioned New Years resolutions:

#1 – Quit eating “sweets”.

Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows how intense this challenge will be. To say I have a sweet tooth is selling it short. I’ve got a sweet set of teeth. Maybe even a sweet jaw. It’s rough. And obviously something I need to deal with if I ever want to feel healthy and well-nourished. So I’m taking this one step at a time. First step is eliminate sweets from my diet… cookies, cakes, candy, you know. I’m still allowing myself sweet things for breakfast every now and then. And fruit as dessert is okay, too. But I’m done with the processed sugary stuff. It’s killing me.

#2 – Write daily.

I’ve done this before with mixed success. But writing helps me get things out of my head. And it never hurts to practice putting words together. Who knows… I may even write a few blog posts.

So if I can make it to March feeling marginally successful with these, then we’ll talk 101 in 1001.

2012 // The Year of TCB

Oh, 2012.  What a year you’ve been!  When I decided to write a year in review post, I began listing out all of the highlights of the last 12 months and discovered quite quickly that 2012 was indeed the year of takin care o’ business.  Since I was too busy to do much blogging this year, here’s a little recap on all of the super fantastic and/or life-changing shit Team Bowman has dealt with this year:

I quit drinking soda.

So, if you’ve read this blog in the past year, you already know this.  Because out of the whopping 6 posts I published this year, 2 of them were about quitting soda.  I decided to do so as a new year’s resolution to break my killer Diet Coke addiction and not only did I make it an entire year, I don’t regret it one bit!  Who needs bubbly chemical water when you can drink delicious iced tea!  It was the only new year’s resolution that I can remember being successful at, which bodes well for 2013’s resolution (which I have yet to decide on).

 

Team Bowman

The hubs and I both quit smoking.

Now this… this is a big deal.  As of 2012, I’d been a smoker for a total of 15 years.  FIFTEEN!  Sure, I quit once.  But it only lasted a year and I was tempted every day I was sans-cigarette.  This year, all of the pieces necessary for success fell into place: (1) I was older, and therefore much more TIRED OF IT ALREADY; (2)  cigarettes are much more expensive now; (3) I live in Michigan and being a smoker in the winter is a special kind of hell for this Florida girl, and (4) my husband Jeffrey was ready to quit as well.  He’d been a smoker for about the same amount of time, but he smoked much more than I did and I must admit, I doubted his success.  But when they say having a buddy helps, it’s really true!  After we made it through the first few weeks of torturous withdrawals, we haven’t looked back and our lungs thank us every day.

Hand to Claw released their debut album.

Jeffrey’s latest musical project, Hand to Claw, released their debut album digitally in February.  Written long-distance over the course of 6 months with the help of Garage Band and Dropbox, and recorded live in a whirlwind 2 week jamfest.  In addition to digital sales, you can find Hand to Claw on Spotify, Pandora, and more!

Jeffrey (and I, by proximity) embarked on a quest of intellectual and spiritual enlightenment.

This is really something for a blog post all its own, but yeah… we’re expanding our minds.

 

Emily Mahood Bowman

I got a new job.  And I friggin LOVE it.

Not that I didn’t love my job at U of M, but the split role of Experience Architect and Content Strategist at Organic is like it was custom-made for me.  I’ve worked on some kickass projects with some kickass people so far, and I really see myself succeeding there.  Every day brings a new challenge and opportunity to learn or strengthen a new skill.  AND, the UX team there is a group of super-smart women who make great mentors and even better friends.  What more could I ask for professionally?

I finished my second graduate degree.

After a short 2.5 years, I completed all the courses and internships required for my MSI at U of M.  I still have some bureaucracy to wade through to get my degree in hand, but that’s just a matter of paperwork.  Despite the student loans I have looming, going back to school at U of M is probably one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.

We moved to Awesome Clawson.

As much as we loved Ann Arbor, the new commute to my new job helped us realize that life would probably be much easier if we moved back to the Detroit area. Shorter commute  + more affordable rent = a bigger house in Clawson!  We were looking in the Ferndale/Royal Oak areas, but we got more house for our money in Clawson, as well as a super-cute downtown area less than a mile from our house AND an easier drive to pretty much everywhere in Detroit.  It may be a small bedroom community now, but Clawson is on the rise!

Our family lost some treasured souls.

This year we said goodbye to my grandmother Roma and Jeffrey’s Aunt Julie.  While neither passing was particularly shocking, they each hit hard for different reasons.  Needless to say, our lives will never be the same without them.

The startup I worked with–Thrively– launched a private beta.

Now, I didn’t have a whole lot of involvement with the Thrively beta launch, but since I made some contributions in the startup’s infancy, I’m going to count it.  It feels so great to see something that I contributed to evolve into a viable product!  Our fearless leader, Nick, is still leading the effort in revolutionizing feedback and I can’t be prouder of how far Thrively has come.  If you’re cool, stop by and request a beta invite!

 

Maple Arcade window

We opened our art gallery, Maple Arcade.

Holy moly, this was a big one.  I’m planning to write a big ol’ post of lessons learned from this adventure, but it’s gonna be a long one, so look out.  Hindsight is 20/20.  But so is gratitude, and that’s what we’re feeling.  Although it feels like we’ve been working on the shop all year long, it’s really only been 4 months.  And 2.5 of those months we were working on the renovations.  It seems as though every time I start to worry and doubt, a new goal is reached or a new opportunity presents itself.  We may not be where we want to be yet, but with each passing week, Maple Arcade becomes a better experience for us, our artists, and our customers.  Look out for a new website, added inventory in our Etsy shop, and a new sign for our storefront!

I had bariatric surgery.

Holy newsflash!  I had my stomach stapled!  While not necessarily a secret, I didn’t tell many people about this one for fear of unsupportive reactions.  But since it’s all said and done and I give much less of a shit about what others think, I figured I might as well include it on this list.  It was a major life-altering event, after all.  I was just too fat, y’all.  And my body just couldn’t handle another failed attempt at weight loss.  So, I decided to bring in the big guns and have a vertical sleeve gastrectomy.  So far I’ve lost about 62 pounds and I’m working for at least another 75.  Even in a mere 3 months, I am healthier now than I have ever been and I don’t regret it for a second.

We hosted some lovely house guests.

Traveling was at a minimum this year due to the moving and business expenses, but we did get to host a few guests in our new home (complete with guest room!).  Jeffrey’s momma joined us for the 4th fo July as our very first houseguest… she got to share in the infamous Clawson Independence Day festivities, as well as enjoy some record heat.  My BFF Jen came to visit for our annual “superhos” reunion and we spent a good week eatin, drinkin, and chillin like villans.  She even stayed long enough to have a visitor herself–the very talented writer and banjo player, Adam Schmidt, who graced us with some fireside bluegrass!  My momma came to nurse me back to health after my belly surgery and spent most of the time quilting.  But I wouldn’t have it any other way.  We also got a couple of overnighters from my friend Butter (a fellow Floridian turned Michigander) and Jeffrey’s cousin Carolyn.  While I hope we can do a little more traveling in 2013, I love hosting guests and hope we’ll have more.

We’re experimenting with vegetarianism & veganism.

Yes.  This is happening.  Due to my surgery-related protein requirements, I have to hold onto the dairy and eggs.  But Jeffrey has already made it a few weeks sans-animal and he reports feeling great.  The real challenge is for my cooking.  So if you’ve got some killer vegan recipes, send ‘em my way….

Annnnd I’ve crossed a few other things off of my 101 in 1001 list.

I kind of stopped paying attention to this, but when I revisited it, I realized I did, indeed, make some progress!  Such as:

11. finish my second masters degree
12. get a new job
17. update my professional portfolio
18. update my personal website
26. enter a chili cook-off
28. lose 40 pounds
45. take a hip hop dance class (Zumba counts, right?)
62. get my online presence organized (Did it this week, as a matter of fact.)
65. get health insurance
66. quit smoking
68. refinish the dressers
72. visit the detroit historical museum (Organic Holiday Party FTW!)
78. get my teeth whitened
98. donate/throw away 100 things i don’t need

So that’s what kept us busy this year.  Here’s to a happy and productive 2013!

xo Em

The Soda Debate

Perhaps I should re-name this the “Quitting Soda Blog”.  My post about how I quit my insane Diet Coke addiction continues to be one of the most popular posts on this blog and is still generating comments.

One of which comes from Everyday Health, who suggested I share their infographic on sugary sodas.  And even though we could argue about whether or not this really qualifies as an “infographic”–note the quotes, y’all!–it’s pretty and the site itself looks like a great resource for all things health.  So, without further adieu…

sugary soda infographic

Courtesy of Everyday Health

Taking Chances

 

Today, August 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm, my husband and I signed a lease on a retail storefront in Clawson, Michigan that will very shortly become our artist’s market, Maple Arcade.

Despite dreaming my entire life about owning my own shop and spending the past two months researching the hell out of it, I awoke this morning with dread. Signing the lease on this place scares me to death.  What if no one comes?  What if we don’t make any money?  What if…. we SUCCEED?

I’m still at a loss for words, but I had to tell ya internet.  Keep your eyes peeled for more about Maple Arcade!

xo Em

How to Quit Drinking Soda

Diet Coke racks

CC/BY-NC Flickr user naillkennedy

If you’ve stuck with me throughout my extended absence, you may remember this little infographic I shared about how terrible soda is for your body. What I neglected to mention at the time was that I was a total diet-cokaholic. I’m talking AT LEAST a 2 liter a day… usually in the form of a fountain drink (it tastes better that way, I swear).

Now, my commitment to quitting diet coke did not just spring up at the sight of an infographic… although it was pretty convincing. I’d been thinking about it, attempting it, and failing at it for years. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet: Eat Your Veggies, Ignite Your Spark, and Live Like You Mean It! that I really got serious about banning this stuff from my body.

So on January 1, 2012–in true new years fashion–I put down the diet coke. And I haven’t had one since. That’s 116 days if you’re counting! Other than quitting smoking, puttin down the DC was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. So I’m super proud of myself and can say with 110% confidence that I will NEVER go back to chuggin that stuff again.

So, dear friend, if you’re contemplating following my lead and putting down the bubbly, here are a few things that will help:

Gather Inspiration

While there is no shortage of “diet coke will kill you” articles on the web, not every one of them is gonna spur you to action. You’ve gotta take some time to learn about why this is a positive step for your health. In the process, you’ll likely find an article, story, or two that really resonate with you and your decisions to quit. Hold on to them… you’ll want them handy for when you need a motivational boost.

Set a Quit Date

I’m the kind of person who likes to start things on a Monday, or the beginning of the month, or well, on new years–it’s the virgo in me. But pick any day you like as long as it’s not a hectic one… you may be a little sluggish due to the lack of caffeine. Which reminds me…

Prepare for Caffeine Withdrawals

If you drink tea or coffee regularly, this won’t really apply. But if you’re like me and consume the vast majority of your caffeine through soda, you’re gonna have to prepare yourself for caffeine withdrawals. Headaches, fatigue, and irritability are common, but they only last a few days. You can supplement with some iced tea twice a day, which is what I did. But be careful not to replace one crutch with another.

Find a New Beverage

Without a doubt, water is the best beverage choice you can make. It keeps you hydrated without any yucky chemicals, calories, or caffeine, and does wonders for your skin. But sometimes ya just need a little TASTE. Iced tea (unsweetened or with a natural sweetener like stevia or agave) is still my go-to tasty beverage. But I also experimented with flavored waters and unique tea concoctions, which are great because you can design a recipe to suit your personal tastes. And whenever I hit a convenience store, I grab a Vitamin Water Zero, which is sweetened with stevia. So, try a few different things until you find something that you like.

Be Patient

Sure, the first few days are gonna suck. And you’ll be thinking about a tall, cold glass of bubbly for at least the first two weeks. But I promise you… after about a month you will adjust to your new soda-free lifestyle. And if you dare to relapse, that soda you once loved will taste like ASS. Because your body has fought off that evil trick your brain plays on you to keep you drinking, you can taste all of the chemical crap it’s really made of.

Taking the plunge?  Let me know in the comments!

xo Em

 

Most Awesome Six Months Ever // 4.24.12

Today I’m celebrating the most awesome week six months ever.  (I’mmm bbaaaccckkkkkk!)

Women.

sold our car // killer turkey fry for Thanksgiving // fell in love with web work at my new job // got jiggy with some networkin // spent Xmas in Pensacola // visited my homie Wes // worked with the awesome team at Are You a Human // my little bro moved back to Pensacola // Hand to Claw released their first album // spring break in the ATL // QUIT SMOKING // celebrated my niece’s 1st birthday // won some awards with Thrive.ly // a Michigan winter that DIDN’T suck // got a new job as an Experience Architect!!  // finished the semester // started disc golfing again // evening walks with my boo // going organic // staring down the light at the end of my MSI tunnel // much, much more that I can’t remember… which is why this should be a regular thing!

What awesomeness are you celebrating this week?

xo Em

In Which I Commit a Cardinal Sin of Blogging

This post is dedicated to my girl Tina.  Ain’t she a beaut?

Tiner Bean

 

I’ve had this post idea rattling around in my head for while in which I would showcase all of the awesome internet celebs that totally make me swoon.  We all have those, right?

Oh, just me then?  Word.

Anyways, it is in this post that I would introduce you to Alexandra Franzen, who is a playalistic word pimp that I discovered last year and haven’t been able to quit internet stalking since.   There are plenty of reasons why this lady is the bee’s knees.  She’s wise beyond her years and has the uncanny ability to motivate you to put your shit out there and WORK IT.  But she also tells it like it is.  She ain’t gonna bullshit you, internet.  And we ALL need someone like that around.

One of my favorite pieces she published was about how to make your website/blog/internet clubhouse NOT SUCK.  Or at the very least, suck less.  I totally agree with her… smart cookie.

But sometimes a girl’s just gotta break the rules.  Please forgive me Ms. Franzen.

Friends, romans, countrymen… please excuse my extended absence.

I didn’t mean to leave you hangin for so long.  After 4 months of coding classes, building a wee little startup, and my new web job, I just couldn’t stand to look a screen in the face any longer that was necessary to receive my paycheck.

I’d had too much.  All that glaring, ticky-tackin on the keyboards, the eventual slump… my poor body just couldn’t take it any more. My eyes, my fingertips, my back.  I needed a break, mmkay?

But I’m back in the swing of things, and you can expect somewhat regular updates here at Awesomania once more.

xo Em

 

 

Reverb // Humble Beginnings

I’m in the mood to reflect, so I’m hoping on board Reverb 11 and spending the month of December looking back at 2011. 

Hot tub
CC BY-SA Flickr user Andrei!

Prompt for December 1: Humble beginnings.  Where did 2011 begin for you?  Describe where you were, be it physically, emotionally, or otherwise.

2011 began in the backyard hot tub at my in-laws… soft fluffy snowflakes meeting the warm, bubbly water as I hid underneath.  I wouldn’t say I was hammered.  Just a bit inebriated… as is likely on New Year’s Eve.

I remember being somewhat disappointed early in the evening.  Perhaps it was because my family just left and it was my first NYE without my people.  That, and barely anyone showed up to the party at my in-law’s house.   Where was the loud music?  The dancing?  The illicit drugs strong drinks?  I felt like I was getting too old, too fast.  Paired with my move-induced depression, seasonal affective disorder, and chronically low bank account, I was probably the last person anyone wanted to hang out with.

But after a few beers, some good conversation, and a dip in the hot tub, things began to look up as I held on to every shred of gratitude I could muster.  For it was a BEAUTIFUL night and I was with BEAUTIFUL people.

The next morning I started my first day of January as I had always hoped I would, but never managed to due to the oh-so-common New Year’s Day hangover–getting everything organized for a new year.  I cleaned the house, I balanced my (meager) checkbook, did some goal-setting, and packed my bag for school.  It warmed the cockles of my Virgo heart.

I vowed that this would be a great year.

I vowed to get out of my funk.

I vowed to get thing done and take care of business.

And I did all of those things, for the most part.  I made sacrifices, as we all do, and I think next year I will make some vows to repair or renew those things that I sacrificed in 2011.  My marriage, my hobbies, my health.

xo Em

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Autumn is back
CC BY-NC-ND Flickr user Geekr

Last night was the first significant snow fall of the year for Michigan, which–while it was all winter wonderland up in hur–really had me grieving for autumn. For winter has most definitely arrived. If, by chance, you are grieving too…

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Robert Frost

xo Em