January 1, 2014

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.

Maple Arcade


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.


PS – I wrote something like this about 2016 and 2012. You know, if you’re like, interested man.

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