Trying something new

After sporting a close crop for years, I’m curious to see what my hair does if I just … stopped cutting it. The answer is still TBD but this means that I’ve had to start looking actively for products to help assist me with managing my kinky hair.Β  Thanks to Twitter, I’ve learned about Kyra’s Shea Medleys and I am currently experimenting with their Original Butter cream.

It’s got a rather strong vanilla scent and is dangerously reminiscent of a dessert. πŸ˜€ The best part about it (for me) is that I can use it for *both* hair and body! So far, I’m about 2 months into my no-haircuts experiment and my hair length is about an inch and half in length. The hardest thing right now is combing it out but I’ve discovered regularly spritzing my hair with water before adding product helps a ton. Here’s to trying new things!

Summer musings, part 1

Our final demo is tomorrow and I had planned on sleeping two hours ago. Ha. For the uninitiated, I’m interning at a Fortune 100 company this summer and our project was to create a .NET web application from scratch. I decided it would be a good idea to iron my clothes tonight and talk up a storm on the phone. First, I’ll process the “bad” stuff and give my first batch of musings on : to say today was stressful is putting it lightly. Why? When a group of 7 opinionated (in different ways) interns are tasked with creating a presentation for higher ups with less than a day of preparation, almost anything goes. In processing what happened today, I think part of the problem was a failure to communicate and an unfortunate series of misunderstandings. From differing visions on what should be highlighted to sheer obstinacy, controlled chaos ruled. However, the important thing is that we were able to create a presentation that we can be proud to put on for the senior vice presidents. My experience at this internship has reinforced my belief in openness & transparency.

This summer was fantastic in so many ways and it was a growing experience for me. Here are my thoughts in no particular order:

  1. I wasn’t the most mature person (despite being the oldest intern!) but I know that as long as I’m striving to learn from my mistakes, there is yet hope for me.A lot of trouble comes from incorrect assumptions and insinuations and I need to continue to work on assuming the best in people until they show me otherwise.
  2. I should continue to work on being a better listener than I am a talker. I have a habit of attempting to (genuinely) empathize but it can come off as being self centered.
  3. I should continue to speak up and be heard. My opinion is just as valuable no matter any misgivings I might have and I made some significant contributions to our project. I want to thank CH, the PM for the division I worked under, for subtly buttressing my points whenever I got lost in the fray. In the real world, I may not have a CH who will have my back so developing this backbone will be crucial to my career.
  4. I should continue to work on my networking skills. I am sharp, have a great personality and I just need to let my hair down (figuratively speaking) & be natural about whomever I am chatting with. I did a much better job of meeting with strangers and getting to know a lot more about the company which made my unannounced decision a lot easier. πŸ™‚
  5. I should continue to form mentor relationships. Our manager, JM, set us up with mentors to fit our desired careers and he did a great job of the pairings. I met once weekly with mine and I got to know him personally. For the future, having more than 1 mentor is okay and I will be sure to reach out to someone else I respect and get a conversation going.
  6. I should continue to work on my coding chops. I feel confident when I’m knowledgeable about a subject and this will come in handy when defending my development choices or providing alternative solutions. “Use it or lose it” applies to coding and I now know that I need to find a way to hold myself accountable for my professional development.
  7. Agile development for interns (especially companies where software is not the product being sold) is probably the way to go (YMMV). Our intern team was, in my opinion, the most productive and happiest intern team. JM and his team ‘made’ us develop our application using Agile and finally putting Agile into action made our team be productive. After the 3rd week of being at the company, we had weekly presentations to our product owners and biweekly (end-of-sprint) presentations to our business partners so we had timelines & responsibilities to complete stories we committed to covering. So, kudos to our manager, JM, for grooming us to be the best intern team of the summer!
  8. Conflict resolution is still a sore spot for me. I’m what I affectionately call a “low energy harmonious person” so my “fight or flight” hormone levels spike whenever there is trouble but I apparently do a good job of covering the distress that discord brings me. So, when I say conflict resolution is a sore spot, I mean that I sometimes get frazzled and forget to think. Case in point: during a demo dry run, we discovered that there was only 1 Ethernet port that worked. I was stressed and hyper-focused on finding one port that did work that I didn’t give heed to the fact that we were burning precious time. It would have been more productive to move on to alternatives. However, one thing I pride myself on is that I do try to “catch more flies with honey than vinegar”. For instance, when things went wrong today, it would have been counterproductive to focus on the past and what could have been. Instead, I opted to focus on helping fix the problem on the ground and not dwell on what anyone else could have done better. The point is (here comes another proverb): you don’t pick out thorns from your skin while you’re still in the midst of thorns. There is a time and place for blaming but not while the crisis is underway.  Continuing on the theme of conflict resolution, I would not be above taking classes or courses on learning more ways to handle conflict so that I can be part of the solution during times of chaos. It never hurts to have more tricks to resolve issues.
  9. I need a better poker face. πŸ™‚ My face is quite expressive and I didn’t realize this about myself. It’s great to wear my heart/feelings on my sleeve but I need to remember to make sure that I remember my context.
  10. I should continue to strive to be a straight and tactful shooter. More importantly, I should continue to make sure that my integrity can never be called into question.
  11. I should continue to make sure that I mean what I say and that I say what I mean. It sounds incredibly corny but my experience this summer reinforces the truth of this saying i.e. committing to things and making sure I follow through, not assuming others know what I mean but clearly & accurately articulating my thoughts or relaying information, etc.
  12. Being mad about something that I can’t control is painfully unproductive. I need to invest in methods of venting frustrations about said uncontrollable events and move on once I’m done venting.
  13. Honesty and straightforwardness is incredibly important to me in personal relationships. What does that look like? It means he/she can tell me when I’ve got crumbs in my hair, if I was being rude or tactless, whether or not I dropped the ball on something, if I offended him/her via actions or words, etc. To me, it means no silent treatment which is funny because I’m guilty of imposing silent treatment on Matt! So clearly, I have standards for friends that even I don’t meet at times. πŸ™‚ I don’t know that I’ve truly found that kind of friend yet but I know that the seeds of such a relationship have been sown here. I roomed with some incredibly talented girls and the ball is now in my court to nurture these relationships that I’ve formed.

That was a mouthful. I didn’t realize I had this much to write and I’m sure that I’ll have a lot more once I fully digest the import of this summer. πŸ™‚

Badassery and other matters

Ever have one of those “do or die” moments? I just had one of those #slightexaggeration. You see, I moved to a new place (temporarily) for the summer and I am wholly dependent on public transportation. Expectedly, getting around will take some smart maneuvering on my part. Well, I had several important errands to run today: visit the bank, procure several perishable and non-perishable items & I absolutely had to have them today. So, I decided to fire up Google Maps, find out where the places I needed to go where and start walking. Thankfully, the places were ~ mile from where I lived but I got a bit … carried away.

Long story short, I ended up with a backpack full of items plus 5 plastic bags worth of stuff. All told, yours truly was toting over 40 lbs (my really conservative estimate) of stuff after being done with shopping. The sad thing is people saw me struggling with the items but no one stopped. In a weird way, it was a good thing no one stopped because I don’t think I would have taken a ride from a stranger. Matt & I watched Cold Case Files before he drove me to the airport and let’s just say it brought out the hypervigilant & semi-paranoid side of me out. lol. So, it was up to me to haul my stuff home and boy, I made myself proud. I slogged through it and I learned that mental strength (& physical!) is incredibly important.

I pride myself on my ‘fierce’ independence and that side of me came out in full force because I knew I had no one else to depend on but me to get me & my stuff home. Basically, when it was down to the wire, I delivered and I feel like I could conquer the world right now. πŸ™‚ When I reached my apartment, a young couple in their car saw me and asked if I needed help. After a 2 second pause on my part, the girl hopped out of her car and insisted on helping me which has redeemed this place in my eyes. πŸ™‚ She helped me up the flight of stairs and I collected myself enough to ask her name. I believe I’ve made a new friend!

Moral lesson of the day: I am a strong, independent and capable young woman. I hope to take advantage of my time here to perform some self introspection, grow personally & professionally and heal some wounds. That’s all for now! I’m off to spend some of my giftcard-cash at Starbucks! Tonight, I guess I can skip the cardio and will focus on core strengthening by doing the Russian Twists. With that, I bid you, my darling reader, adieu. πŸ™‚

Gameday in Athens, GA

Whooeee!!! So, I got a gig as a fan photographer at Sanford Stadium. Nothing too glamorous as I discovered last night at the Georgia game vs South Carolina. However, by the time the game was over, I found that I had become less inhibited which was presumably aided by my discovery of the fact that several of the fans were inebriated. πŸ˜€ Anyway, this job was what I needed to come out of my shell because I was required to ask total strangers if I could take photographs of them! I managed to get just barely above the bare minimum, but I hope that my pictures turned out great and that my next home game will be even more fruitful! It was quite a workout for me because first of all, walked to Sanford Stadium and pretty much walked up and down stairs the entire time I was at the stadium. And I lost my voice! I feel great today though. It was for a good cause because the Georgia Bulldawgs won and I screamed my tired lungs out! πŸ˜›

At least, I know what to do and what NOT to do this time around. For instance, I was a little shy to begin with so I was hesitant when the stadium wasn’t too crowded. That was a mistake I won’t be repeating because it becomes even harder once the stadium fills up with people! To make matters trickier for me, I was assigned to a section that had fans of the opposing team. lol. Talk about feeling like I was in the lion’s den or in enemy territory. Thankfully, I batted my baby brown eyes and sweetly asked for permission which, for the most part, was granted. πŸ™‚ Here are some videos I shot using my Nokia E71x phone about my experience! Cheers!

Overcoming the odds and achieving success

So, something rather weird happened today. I won’t give the circumstances, but it is safe to say I felt threatened (Mom, Dad, do NOT worry. :D) I was attacked in a manner that was distinctly below the belt and I felt thoroughly insulted. The prudent thing was to hold my tongue which I did. However, I will not be forgetting this slight anytime soon. As a matter of fact, the incident lit the fire under my feet and galvanized me into acting on something I had placed on the back burner. I don’t even want to rehash the incident because it was that upsetting. I’ve spoken to my husband about it and vented to him. Case closed. I’m taking notes and learning as I go along this road called Life.

In other news, I’ve been a little blah on the photography front. However, this week, I applied for a gig as a fan photographer. I was invited to a group interview and I regret that I didn’t toot my horn more. However, I sent the lady in charge a follow-up email which she receives favourably (I hope). Basically, on game day, I’ll get to take pictures of Georgia fans and give them instructions on how to access those pictures in print for a fee. I hope I get picked because that’s right up my alley! I mean, if I were attending any of the games, I’d still take pictures. At least, if I take pictures for an organization, this way I get to be ‘legit’ and not have my subjects look at me cross-eyed whenever I say I’m a ‘freelance’ photographer. lol. In yet other news, I might be assisting a photographer friend of mine in shooting a wedding amongst other things!! Yes, you heard right. A. Wedding. I am floored that he is taking a chance on me and I hope I bring my A game to that wedding. I’m so excited about the possibilities and just grateful to God for opening my heart & eyes to different options and paths that I could take. As always, man proposes, but God disposes.

In yet yet other news (lol), Matt’s getting a root canal done! His tooth got infected and it finally started hurting. After much nagging prodding from yours truly, he went to the dentist to hear the bad news he already suspected. It’s an allegedly painful procedure that he’s scheduled for next week and he’ll pretty much be ingesting liquids for a time after he’s had the procedure. On my first EVER visit to the dentist, I got some tartar removed and got told that I had ‘nice teeth’. That was nice. πŸ™‚ So, wish him luck! He’s got his plate full between being at school full time, working over the weekends and car trouble, he is reaching his capacity for busy-ness. lol. Thankfully, he’s hanging tight and using the tricks he learned from his programming course in the summer. I’m so proud of my man! πŸ˜€

That’s all for now. Stay blessed! I hope to write more stuff in this personal journal. In the meantime, stay safe and stay informed over at my technology blog, Jane Talks Tech! Cheers

My birthday! :)

I’m in a Floetry state of mind today i.e. rather introspective, but in a very good way. I turned 24 last week and I had a special day with my husband. I felt thoroughly pampered as we went through the day. We went to the Goodwill store to pick up some crockery and clothing (3 shirts) for me (for under $30).  For the uninitiated, Goodwill is a thrift store that has everything except groceries. Their merchandise is from donations by people so they sell secondhand clothing and secondhand items. If you are looking for a recession-friendly budget, Goodwill is a place to check out. The Dollar store was next for some cheap & much-needed hangers for our closets. Then, we went to dinner at Ryan’s which is a kickass buffet-style restaurant. We gorged ourselves (literally) and had fun people-watching. I used a buy-one-get-one-free buffet coupon so our meal came down to $12, but we ended up spending close to $20 because we tipped our waiter pretty heavily. He was a good sport and made our time there very enjoyable. We also felt slightly guilty for the sins of another party of over 10 people that trashed their area. It was unreal. Granted, that party had kids with them, but couldn’t the parents or adults pick up after the children? Do you want to bet that that same party gave a shitty tip? I have just one word for people who abuse the generosity and good nature of others: Karma.

In retirement account news, I’ve have nothing to say other than constantly checking my portfolio is a bad thing. πŸ™‚ Thankfully, retirement is a long way off so I’m not too bothered. Matt’s accounts have also taken a hit, but not as bad as mine (his rate of return is in the negative single digits while mine are in the negative double digits. Ouch!). Our emergency fund is slowly, but steadily creeping upwards. As you know, a good emergency fund should be good for, at least, 3 months of all living expenses. We’re making some progress, but car troubles have put a dent in the growth. It’s somewhat depressing to keep troubleshooting problems that never seem to be solved. We recently purchased a used car from a friend of ours. We knew the car had had some serious trouble i.e. the owner even got the transmission replaced at one point, but because it was a solid car (Chevrolet Impala 2000), we went ahead and paid the asking price of $1,200. To date (and to my knowledge), we have put over $500 into that car and that amount looks to be growing. I know nothing about cars so I’ll defer to Matt’s knowledge & trust when he says it is a solid investment. πŸ™‚ It should be obvious that I hate spending money on anything except electronics. LOL.

That’s it for now. Have a great week!