Search Results for: gratitude

Be mindful of your gratitude, but also share it

The Jar of Awesome is a practice keeps on going for me. I’ve mentioned several times about how I take the time to be mindful of gratitude. But only recognizing it and keeping it to myself as written notes isn’t enough, so here’s what I’m doing…

When I’ve emptied my jar with my gratitude notes for 2019, I’ve put the notes in a bag. Every morning, I grab 5 notes randomly, bring it to the office, and put it on one of my monitors (#1 on the image below).

As the day goes by, I pick a note, read it, and quickly relive the moment, bringing it to the present. At the end of the day, I scan all the notes and merge them into one note I have in Evernote (#2 on the image above).

If my gratitude was towards a specific person, I reach out to that person, thanking him or her for producing, enabling, or sharing the moment for which I’m grateful. When the person responds, I capture the response and add it to my notes (#3 on the image above). Why? So I can build great memories for my future-self.

Also, there are times when the people I reach out to are going through some kind of challenges, and they say my quick note came at a very good time. Win-win.

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The Jar of Awesome: Expressing Gratitude

On my “2018: Annual Review” post, I’ve mentioned my Jar of Awesome as something that went well last year. So, let me expand on that, going all the way back to the year of 2012…

What is that blur I see?

In late 2011, I spent a couple of days reflecting on my life and came to the realization that the memories of many years were a blur. The good habit I once had of expressing gratitude simply vanished. I then decided to start keeping track of my gratitude again.

I then created a note in Evernote named “Gratitude – 2012”, tagged “gratitude”. In that note, I’d add whatever things I was grateful for. Sometimes I wouldn’t realize I was grateful for something and wouldn’t write it down. Sometimes I’d say to to myself “I’ll write it when I get a chance”, and would simply forget to do it. That year, I wrote down 22 things I was greatful for.

I continued doing that every year since. In 2013, I only wrote down 2 things, and in 2014, 6 things. I had to kick it up a notch.

Comes 2015, I write down 100 things! In 2016, 201 things!! Now we’re talking…

Why’s that important?

As the years went by, I went back to those lists to fill up my mind with good things that happened. Quite often I’d read something I had forgotten about: maybe I had been grateful to something someone did for me, and that was a good reminder for me to get in touch with that person, checking how he or she was doing, and maybe express my gratitude to the person again (heck, maybe at the time I had felt grateful but never told the person about it).

This type of approach has helped me keep the momentum when life’s good. But most importantly, it has helped me remember that if the current moment or day isn’t so great, I’ve had better days, and I can probably have it again!

What changed since 2016?

My gratitude note for 2017 only has 60 items. That’s ok, though. At one point in that year I started using The Five-Minute Journal, which features a section to write three things I’m thankful for on a daily basis. At the end of the year I scanned to pages and stored in Evernote.

While all of my previous ways to track gratitude had been working out well, I wanted to give it more exposure, so for 2018 I decided to try something different and implemented the Jar of Awesome. The jar was placed on a counter close to where I normally drop my backpack off every day as I get back from work, so it was very easy to be reminded to take a moment and think about things I’m grateful for.

The placement of the jar is also an invite for my family to join in! While they’re still somewhat shy, I’m no longer the only one expressing gratitude in this way.

Within about three months, the jar was full, and we had to move on to a bigger one! Whenever we’re writing down things we’re grateful for and putting it in the jar, we say “we’re making a deposit”.

Comes December 31st, the bigger jar is completely full!

So, what’s next?

The question as the year ended was: “Now what? What do we do with those little piece of papers?”.

One aspect I liked about my previous ways of tracking gratitude was that I could easily go back in time and review it, relive moments, reach out to people. How can I have the same sort of experience with the jar? Here’s what I came up with: every morning, my wife and I pick 10 gratitude “deposits” each, and we read out loud each one, reliving the experiences for a quick moment, and charging up for a new day.

So far, we have already opened 460 deposits and it looks like there’s still 40 or so to go!! After we’re done opening all of them, we’ll burn it to send it out to the universe. 🙂

The jar is currently receiving deposits for 2019. May it be full again by the end of the year!

 

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Communities and Networking

Just a couple of weeks ago, I’ve blogged about The Importance of Technical Communities (the ideas really apply to any community in general, much like what I do with my motorcycle track riding community). In this post, I’ll focus on the networking side of getting involved with communities.

Every week, I share things on the Virtual Brown Bag; I may share an article or book I’ve read, a challenge I’m facing at work, a successful way I’ve found to implement something. Whatever the case might be, once I’ve shared it with the community, I’ve planted a seed in their minds: should they either run into the same challenges or solutions to it, they’ll think of me. They’ll know who to either ask questions or offer help to, or make connections (“Hey, Claudio, last week you mentioned you were having issues with Cypress. I mentioned it to a co-worker and he has the solution. He’ll be reaching out to you!”).

I’ve talked about similar things when I shared my thoughts on “fake until you make/become it”. We don’t need to figure it all out by ourselves. We don’t need to fake it. Others will help, but we need to either ask for their help or let them know that they could possibly help us.

Every month, I update my “Now page”; that’s an easy way for people to know what I’m up to. A few months ago, I mentioned I was starting to work with Angular. Less than half an hour after I’ve posted it, an old co-worker who I hadn’t talked to for a few years reached out to say he’s done a lot of work with Angular and I should keep him in mind if I had any questions. We also took the chance to catch up with life in general.

Last week, I’ve read Derek Sivers’ writing on how you can take a situation that may not be ideal and flip it in your favor. He touches on “it’s all who you know”, and got me thinking about how my professional career started; I walked to my whiteboard and sketched out my career map up to today, calling out every single person somehow responsible to pivotal moments. How did I meet them? How have they helped? Have I been keeping in touch with them? Have I expressed my gratitude to them?

A good book I’ve read on the subjet of networking is The Power of Who.

Our communities and networks can (and should) be connected. People in my technical communities are aware of my involvement with motorcycle track riders; those riders are aware of my involvement with software development. They are all aware of my activities as a musician. These are all opportunities to connect with people, expand my network, offer help, get help, improve, grow.

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Virtual Brown Bag: November 2020 Summary

November was a week short in Virtual Brown Bag meetings due to Thanksgiving. I hope everybody enjoyed the long weekend and took the time to feel and express gratitude.

Here’s a quick summary of topics we’ve covered in November.

  1. November 19th, 2020

    Job interviews, Azure Certification, Azure emulator, Node.JS, React Context and Context Provider.

  2. November 12th, 2020

    GitHub hack (youtube downloader), user stories, test organization (1 test fixture per class/component vs context-based), TypeScript (generics, unions, what’s the minimal bar for devs to know), JavaScript ORM.

  3. November 5th, 2020

    Discussion on testing, GPT-3 (AI, neural network), asking about SOLID in interviews, what is good code?

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2019: Annual Review

As per my 2018 Annual Review, these were the things I mentioned I was working toward:

Continue growing Beyond the Track: the monthly meetups happened all year (except for November), more riders stepped up to do talks for the group, the website http://www.beyondthetrack.net/ has been up and running since early in the year with many important features for logistics, planning, goals and debriefing. A great community of track riders is forming, with folks who help each other out both on and off track.

SportBike Track Riding: I did put together plans and goals for my track riding, worked on those goals, and pretty much crossed off all of them! I have faced setbacks, but came back even stronger, and am now writing up my goals riding goals for 2020.

 

New Opportunities at Improving: while focusing on doing my job as good as I could and helping out my co-workers on any opportunity I had, I was rewarded with brand new opportunities at Improving, which I readily embraced. More on this under the “what went well” section below.

What went well in 2019?

New Original Song: I’ve put out one new song, title Still I’m Dreaming. This being a big passion of mine, getting to put out new music is always an celebrated accomplishment for me.

Riding Goals: Even though I couldn’t ride on the track for 3 months due to injury, I was still able to cross off all of the main goals I had for the year, one of them being getting my racer license. I celebrate this one because it isn’t only about riding; a lot goes into planning, improving my mental toughness, overcoming adversities, etc. The footage below is my favorite one ever, as it was captured by one of my coaches following me on the track, not too long after I came back from my injury, and I feel it’s the best I’ve ever ridden.

Promotion at Improving: halfway through the year I got offered the opportunity to get promoted to a Technical Director role at Improving. This is HUGE for me. On one hand, I get to do more of what I naturally do (helping others grow); on the other hand, it pushes me outside my comfort zone as I get involved with responsibilities I didn’t have before (which in turn, pushes me to keep growing). As part of that, I’ve jumped in to start and lead two important initiatives (directly related to two of my main passions in this industry) within the company, which are going to keep me very busy in 2020. I’ve also participated in a 3-month internal training program that was excellent, as it has both validated many things I’ve learned over the last several years, as well as it has taught me important things I didn’t know before.

Meditation: I’ve finally reached a solid streak of One Full Year of Meditation in August. It didn’t stop there, as I continue having meditation as part of my morning routine. Why? I know this practice has helped me a lot to get through adversities I’ve faced.

 

Language Learning: my Duolingo streak is up to 526 hundred days as of Dec 31, 2019! That’s the number of days I’ve spent at least 10 minutes learning a language. After spending a lot of time on Italian and German (no, I’m not fluent in either, as that hasn’t been my goal), I’ve gone back to Spanish. Besides Duolingo, I also watch YouTube videos in the languages I’m learning, so I can also get that kind of exposure to it.

Gratitude:
As I’ve wished at the beginning of the year, my Jar of Awesome is full of notes of my gratitude! I’m empty it to start filling it up again. I’ll also be reading a few of those notes daily until I’ve read them all and relive the feeling at those moments of gratitude (and reach out to people who may have caused or participated in those moments).

What didn’t go so well?

Crashing: People say this about crashing on a motorcycle – “It’s not a question of *if*, but just *when*”. For the first time in 29 years I ended up getting hurt riding a motorcycle. That has not prevented me from plowing through life, getting things done, and coming back stronger than before, so I’ve done my best to face adversity, learn from it, and value life even more.

Didn’t make more music: I came close to putting out another new song later in the year, but couldn’t get it done (computer issues and such). The new song is ready to be recorded, though, and I’m very excited about it, as I think it sounds great!

What am I working toward?

Continue Growing Beyond the Track: this is an on-going effort through 2020 (and probably further). As I see things now, this is part of a long-term goal I have for me. For 2020, I want to keep adding features to the website, as well as keep growing the community.

SportBike Track Riding: much like in 2019, I’ll be putting down track riding goals for 2020. It’ll include even more focus on getting more coaching, as this is also part of longer-term goals I currently have.

Solid initiatives at Improving: I’m very excited about the two initiatives I’m leading at Improving, and a lot of my work-related activities are going towards these initiatives. You’ll learn more about what those are when time’s right.

Get better at Spanish: I am going to learn and practice more Spanish. It’s a language that a lot of people speak, so knowing it opens up doors. I have very specific ideas as to what I want to accomplish and how I’ll work my way there.

Conclusion

“When I was 42… it was a very good year” (I hear that in my head with the voice of the late Warrel Dane). Yes, 2019 was a very good year. There are many other things I could have listed in this post, but I didn’t want this to be longer than it already is. I’m proud of myself for how I came out of adversities, making an effort to clear my mind and see through it, finding opportunities, learning from it, and getting better. Could this year have been even better? Of course! What am I going to do about it? Well, taking the time to put together my thoughts and writing up this post is already one step taken towards an even better year in 2020!

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2018: Annual Review

As per my 2017 Annual Review, these were the things I mentioned I was working toward:

1. Way to exercise outside of DST
2. More consistent way to work on music
3. Beyond the Track
4. New language on Duolingo
5. Public classes

So, allow me to ponder over those things, and add on top of it…

What went well in 2017?

Jar of Awesome: I’ve adopted the idea of having a Jar of Awesome (first read it on Tim FerrissTools of Titans book), and on January 1st of 2018, I’ve put a jar in a place that’s easily visible and accessible at home. By December 31st, the jar was full of reminders of our gratitude throughout the year!

Riding Trip in Europe: This is a bucket list type of endeavor. Back in late 2017, I’ve seen a post about this tour. I knew that was something my wife and I would love to do, so I had set it as a goal for 2018, which we have accomplished!

Learning Other Languages: I continued using Duolingo to learn and practice other languages. I’ve finished Italian, continued practicing it for a couple of months, and then a started and finished German. Both languages came in handy for my trip to Europe mentioned above. Last year I mentioned I was running my longest streak ever on Duolingo, at 144 days. I went all the way up to 300+ days, but ended up breaking the chain after completing one day a few minutes after the counter resets. That’s ok: I started over and am now back to a streak of 175 days! For almost a year I had my daily goal set to 50 XP, but I had to lower it to 20 a few months ago. I figured it’s better to lower it than break the chain, and will likely go up to 50 soon.

Meditation: my last year’s post shows a streak of 236 of meditation. I got over 300+ days. But then, there was one bad day that threw me off, and the chain was broken. It’s ok; I started all over the next day! I’m now running a 140-day streak. I’ve just passed 1000 sessions overall, which makes me happy. Some days are easier than others, but it’s important to keep the practice every single day.

Beyond the Track: last year I’ve mentioned that this was going to be something I’d be working towards. And I really did! I’ve held one meetup every month, the entire year. I was also the main speaker for most of the meetings, and edited/published videos of all meetings so that people who couldn’t attend were at least able to watch it online (and a good number of people did!).

SportBike Track Riding: I enjoyed so much riding my bike at track days in 2017, I planned to do the same in 2018. Well, I did more than twice as many track days! I’ve been improving my riding consistently, and having a lot of fun.

New Original Songs: I wanted to work on music more consistently, since I have a big backlog of ideas for songs. I’ve managed to finish and publish two new songs, and have a third one almost ready to be released earlier this year. The interesting thing about the two songs I published is that I didn’t spend a lot of time working on them. On the first one, released in late March, I’ve put together some parts I had for a song, showed the inspiration for lyrics to my singer buddy Roberto Gallaeci, and we knocked it down in just a few sessions. For the second song, released in early November, I already had the music, lyrics and vocals all written, so I only had to sit down and record everything, which I did in about 2-3 weeks. So, while I’d like to have recorded more songs, I’m happy with how productively I was able to put out two songs that I’m really proud of (and can’t wait to put out the new one, which is almost done!).

Trainings Delivered for Improving: Twice this year I’ve had to lead trainings with less than 10 days notice; something that popped-up and someone was needed. Without going into details, I just have to say I’m very happy with the evals I got from both trainings.

Involvement at Improving: I’ve continued growing my involvement with Improving’s “extra-work” related activities (such as doing presentations at conferences and user groups). I’m specifically pleased with the feedback I got from attendees to several of my presentations. That’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing, and knowing that people enjoy my talks is always a great motivator.

What didn’t go so well?

Exercising: Last year, I mentioned I needed a way to exercise outside of DST. I’ve failed at that. While I did do some exercising during that period, I’m not proud of the low frequency. For this year, I’ve taken the Evernote’s Ever Better Challenge and created the commitment with myself to do any sort of physical activity for at least 20 minutes, every day, for 30 days. Exercising is very boring for me, but I have one core motivation to do it: I need to be fit in order to take my Sport Bike riding to the next level!

Public classes: I enjoyed teaching some internal classes at Improving early last year, and I considered offering them as public classes. However, I decided to shelve that idea as I pursued other goals throughout the year (the goals that were achieved and mentioned in the “what went well” section.

What am I working toward?

Continue Growing Beyond the Track: I’m digging this work I’m doing and I’ve been getting great feedback from people saying how much this initiative has helped them. I’ll continue having the monthly meetups, but I plan to grow it outside of the in-class meetings. I have tons of ideas, I’m acting on them, and I have even created a Patreon page for Beyond the Track, so I can build a bigger community around it and get help to keep pushing it forward.

SportBike Track Riding: I’ll continue doing it! I’m putting together specific goals I want to achieve this year, the kind of progress I want to make, what tracks I want to ride, and will go have fun!

New Opportunities at Improving: As I look into growing within the company, I’m analyzing some opportunities and settings some goals to pursue this year. I’ll quite possibly blog about it as things materialize.

Conclusion

This was a quick summary. There are other things that went well, much like there are other things that didn’t go well. Oh, and there are also other things I’m working toward! But I think this is a good way to start off this year.

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2017: Annual Review

As per 2016 Annual Review, these were the things I mentioned I was working toward:

  1. Playing catch up professionally
  2. Serious hobbies
  3. Continuous improvement

I believe I did well in those three points!

What went well in 2017?

Solid morning/nightly ritual: Both My Morning and Nightly rituals are very solid and allow me to live a more focused life. I no longer need reminders and checklists to stay on top on what habits I want to build in those two very important moments of the day.

Meditation: As I blogged over a year and a half ago, meditation is finally paying off. It is the single most important thing I do every morning. I’m currently in my longest meditation streak ever, and it shows no signs it’ll be broken!

Journaling: I’ve finished my first Five Minute Journal (which covers 6 months of my life) and started a new one immediately after. This has been a great tool for me to continue practicing gratitude every day, as well as taking two moments in the day (morning/evening) to slow the hell down and reflect upon my day.

Blogging
: as in 2016, I wanted to make this blog more active in 2017 (in terms of number of posts I create), and I achieved that; I’ve published 59 posts (against 23 in the previous year)! Many of these posts have helped clients and co-workers, and have also helped myself putting together presentations and training courses.

Learning other languages: in 2015 I used Duolingo quite a bit to learn more Spanish. After a hiatus, I picked it back up in 2016, and redid the entire Spanish course. When I was done with that, I then picked up Italian, which I’m very close to finishing. I’m also on my longest Duolingo streak ever: 144 days! That means, at a very minimum, I learn a little bit of something new every single day. And another cool bit of information: I’m learning these languages in Duolingo as an English speaker (in case you don’t know, English is NOT my primary language)!

SportBike Track Riding: this is a serious hobby I hinted as one of the things I was working toward. I rode at the track an average of at least once a month, improved a LOT as a rider, and am doing everything in a very methodical way, while having TONS of fun doing it. I document a lot of this on my dedicated YouTube and Instagram channels.

ImprovingU: One of the awesome things we have at Improving is called ImprovingU, which consists of internal presentations and training courses that employees can attend to in order to improve in a number of areas. Besides attending to many of these trainings, I’ve personally delivered three talks in what we call Tech Fridays, and also taught two other lengthy training courses.

Involvement at Improving: Improving also has a cool program for employees who want to get more involved (doing presentations, participating in user groups, volunteering, etc.). People who get involved get points based on the type of activity. I’ve stayed consistently among the top Improvers in this program. While I don’t engage in these activities solely for the points, it’s a good metric for me to see that I’m always trying to both get better and help others do the same.

Put out some new music: Making music is another hobby I take seriously. While I haven’t put out as much music as I’d like, I did get to publish two songs.

The first one was a cover as a tribute to my top favorite singer/lyricist of all time, who passed away in December:

The second one is a new original song, once again written for my beloved wife:

What didn’t go so well?

Periods without excercising: most of my excersizing last year came from going rollerblading at the park. However, that only worked while we’re on Daylight Saving Time (DST), since it gives me a good window between getting back home from work and getting too dark. Once DST ends, though, that’s no longer an option, and not engaging into another type of activity during that period has made me go too long without some good excersizing, causing me to put on some weight and also feel somewhat crappy.

What am I working toward?

In no particular order, these are the things I want to improve on in 2018:

Way to exercise outside of DST: I’m looking for alternatives so I can excercise when it’s too dark outside for me to go rollerblading. Right now, I’m trying a mix of trampoline, jumprope, weightlifting, pull-ups, push-ups. I’m evaluating how that works for me and making adjustments as I go, until I find a good flow.

More consistent way to work on music: I definitely want to put more music out this year. In order for that to happen, I will set aside at least one or two hours every week

Beyond the Track: I’m enjoying so much my track riding hobby that I’m starting a new Special Interest group, as I feel a strong need to share everything I’ve learned so far, and also learn more from more experienced riders. The first meeting is happening on January 17 (two weeks prior to this year’s track day season starts), and I plan on holding these meetings every month.

New language on Duolingo: when I’m done with all the Italian lessons, continue my long streak, possibly by still practicing Italian for a few more weeks, than reviewing Spanish, and finally starting on another language (maybe French or German).

Public classes: as I mentioned in the “what went well” section, I’ve created some internal courses to be taught at Improving. I’m seriously considering also teaching it to others who might be interested.

Myself through the eyes of others

My previous annual reviews have solely been done my me. It’s me revewing my goals, plans, results. I want to start adding this section now, given the following quote that showed up one of the days on my Five Minute Journal:

“Sometimes you can’t see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others.” – Ellen DeGeneres

So I decided to reach out to someone impacted by my goals, plans, actions, inactions, to see how I did in 2017. Here’s a summary of I heard regarding things I did well:

  • “You’ve become a better rider” (my wife enjoys 2-up riding as my passenger, so getting better at it is a big thing)
  • “You’ve made a new song for me!” (already mentioned it previously)
  • “You got better professionaly.” (those close to me see and appreciate how I develop as a professional)
  • “You took us to visit some places we really enjoyed.”
  • “You been so patient with so many things and you have shown a great ability to forgive.”
  • “You’ve kept our shared life stable, while still moving forward, even through the toughest times.”

I was very happy to hear those things. Even happier when I saw what I wrote on one of the first pages of my first Five Minute Journal before 2017 started:

In case you can’t understand my handwriting (I can’t blame you!): “To stay calm and level-headed through mood shifting turmoils. Staying on a stable routine due to that.”.

Followed by:

“I feel strong-willed towards the things I really want and believe. I’m dedicated to my family. I feel I can make a difference in the life of others.”

 

Honestly, I didn’t remember writing those words, but I definitely meant it and lived by it, and the results showed up, both stated by myself and a loved one. This has been a good validation that if I know what I want and what I am (or want to be), if I set goals, make plans, take actions, review it constantly, stick to small actions that don’t look much on a day-to-day basis but that add up tremendously, good results tend to happen.

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