Does God Really Hate Queers?

Here’s a fas­ci­nat­ing, heart­warm­ing, and heart­break­ing video about being queer and whether it’s also pos­si­ble to have a faith.

Inter­est­ing­ly, my for­mer reli­gion makes an appear­ance just to show the world how hor­ri­ble it is. Jeho­vah’s Wit­ness­es are not accept­ing of LGBTQ peo­ple. Joshua, a gay man that is fea­tured in the video, explains how he was dis­fel­low­shipped (or excom­mu­ni­cat­ed) and sub­se­quent­ly com­plete­ly shunned by his fam­i­ly. The sto­ry of the mus­lim woman is just as dis­turb­ing as she tries to find a mar­riage of con­ve­nience so that her fam­i­ly does­n’t dis­own her.

It’s sto­ries like these that push me towards agnos­ti­cism and athe­ism. How could a lov­ing god expect you to shun some­one because of who they love? Why would a lov­ing god pun­ish some­one for some­thing so deeply per­son­al and intrin­sic to who they are, such as their sex­u­al­i­ty?

So does god real­ly hate peo­ple who are LGBTQ? I have no inter­est in a god that does.


Finding My Self

2019 and 2020 have been some of the most influ­en­tial years in my life. I left the reli­gious cult I grew up in, had some pret­ty life-chang­ing break­throughs in ther­a­py, and I’m slow­ly find­ing a polit­i­cal voice I was­n’t allowed to have previously.

It’s a strange thing to have one’s whole belief sys­tem and sense of real­i­ty chal­lenged. It’s dis­ori­ent­ing; full of grief, sob­bing, and deep emo­tion­al pain. While many of my for­mer reli­gion would say I’ve tak­en the easy way out, I can say con­fi­dent­ly that there has­n’t been any­thing easy about it. As I explained last year, death has been an incred­i­bly dif­fi­cult thing to grap­ple with now that I don’t believe in an afterlife.

And yet, I’ve found hap­pi­ness. Not a hap­pi­ness root­ed in rose-col­ored glass­es, or with­out chal­lenges. I’m lone­ly. I feel as if I have no close friends or fam­i­ly who tru­ly know me except for my part­ner. Peo­ple who claimed to love me don’t talk to me any­more. That’s tough to deal with in a nor­mal year, I can’t begin to describe what it’s been like in a pandemic.

But for me it’s always been about truth. Was what I believed true? Not does it make me feel good, not does it sur­round me with most­ly lov­ing (albeit con­di­tion­al) peo­ple, not because it would dis­s­ap­point my fam­i­ly if I didn’t.

Is it the truth?

The answer for me is a resound­ing no.

Ulti­mate­ly, going into 2021, I’m a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent per­son to who I was just two years ago. It’s change at a mag­ni­tude I did­n’t expect, but as the storm in my head set­tles, I’m a per­son I love deeply and accept ful­ly. I know who I am, what I stand for, and the val­ues that guide my life. I want to live a lov­ing and thought­ful life, and I’m doing my best to do so.

Hap­py New Year y’all.


Jimmy Dore: Nobody Who Voted for the Iraq War Should Become the President’

Joe Biden might win, but the American people have lost yet again

While all the results aren’t in, it looks like­ly that Joe Biden will win the Pres­i­den­cy. This is a man who promised to veto Medicare for All dur­ing a pan­dem­ic, wants to give more mon­ey to police after sum­mer-long protests against police bru­tal­i­ty, and won’t com­mit to ban­ning frack­ing as we’re fac­ing the impend­ing doom of our species because of the cli­mate crisis.

As Jim­my talks about in the video, the left needs to grow its pow­er. I believe it no longer makes sense to work with­in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty, but I’m not yet sure what that looks like. One thing is for sure: we need lead­ers that will fight for uni­ver­sal health­care, fight for our beau­ti­ful plan­et, fight to defund (and even­tu­al­ly abol­ish) polic­ing as we know it, and put an end to the end­less wars.

There’s much work to be done.


On Death

Death is some­thing I think about often. It might be my anx­i­ety dis­or­der, but most days, the thought enters my mind, Am I dying?” I mean, tech­ni­cal­ly, the answer is always yes. We’re all dying every day. The pan­dem­ic makes this that much worse. Add to that my no longer being reli­gious and, there­fore, no longer believ­ing what I used to, and you’ve got your­self quite the cock­tail of anxiety.

I’m bare­ly begin­ning to explore how oth­er peo­ple view death. It was­n’t some­thing I gave much thought to for most of my life, and I arro­gant­ly thought that any­one not belong­ing to my reli­gion was with­out hope when it came to death. See, I thought I had all the answers. That death is tem­po­rary; that it’s like sleep—you’re asleep one moment and then awake again the next.

Reli­gion can be excep­tion­al­ly com­fort­ing in that way. I did­n’t think about my mor­tal­i­ty or what the future entailed. Most belief sys­tems con­vince you that you nev­er die.

But I don’t believe that any­more. And it’s tough. I feel as if I’ve been robbed of some­thing. The after­life was always rep­re­sen­ta­tive of an ide­al life. A life in which I was per­fect­ly healthy, I had a home with­out a mort­gage on the beach some­where, and I could enjoy my life away from the suf­fo­cat­ing grasp of capitalism.

I don’t mean to be reduc­tive, but believ­ing in an after­life is kind of like believ­ing in San­ta Claus. It would be fan­tas­tic if it were real, but there’s just no evi­dence to prove it fac­tu­al. And hon­est­ly, it’s hard for me to accept it. It is the real­iza­tion that there is no per­fect life, and that just as so many before me, one day I will cease to exist and my life will be over.

But truth mat­ters to me, and from my research, this is the real­i­ty. Liv­ing in truth means accept­ing dif­fi­cult things that defy what I thought to be true. And I don’t want to be dog­mat­ic about it either; I don’t know 100 per­cent what will hap­pen when I die. But com­ing to terms with the final­i­ty of life also gives it a beau­ti­ful new pur­pose. It helps me cen­ter and be present and appre­ci­ate every moment. It helps me remem­ber that I need to tell the peo­ple I love that I love them. It helps me be mind­ful of the impact I have on oth­ers and how they feel in my presence.

So while this new under­stand­ing of death has been dif­fi­cult (and will con­tin­ue to be), I’m ulti­mate­ly grate­ful that I have the chance to accept it and grieve it now. That real­i­ty will influ­ence every­thing I do with the rest of this won­der­ful life that I have. And that is a gift.



I haven’t been very pub­lic about this, but I was going through a severe bout of sea­son­al depres­sion. We were liv­ing in a base­ment apart­ment in one of the cold­est places you can live: Min­neso­ta. Add to that the fact that there are so many days where it’s just gray and gloomy.

Don’t get me wrong, Min­neso­ta is a beau­ti­ful place, and I loved liv­ing there, but the win­ters are harsh and long.

Peo­ple kept telling me that it wasn’t a big deal” and that I’d get used to it.” But I had lived in Min­neso­ta sev­en years already, and this was a feel­ing I’d nev­er felt before.

Peo­ple still don’t under­stand depres­sion. Not only was I going through a dif­fi­cult time, but I also need­ed to muster up the strength to explain (almost jus­ti­fy) what I was going through to loved ones. I often felt like peo­ple thought I was mak­ing all of this up, or that I was weak because I couldn’t tough it out.” And it’s ok, many of those peo­ple are well-meaning—they don’t under­stand how deeply and pro­found­ly their words can cut.

Back in Novem­ber, we decid­ed to spend the month of Jan­u­ary in Cal­i­for­nia. We were hop­ing the warmer cli­mate and sun­shine would help me. It did. I start­ed feel­ing like me again.

So when we got back home in Feb­ru­ary, we decid­ed it was time to leave Min­neso­ta. We packed our things, said good­bye to our dear friends and fam­i­ly, and left.

I was scared. This was a big move. Kel­ly would have to quit the job she’d worked at for almost 20 years, and I had sud­den­ly lost my job. It kept me up at night think­ing about how this could all go wrong.

I’m glad we did it any­way. Kel­ly already found a job, and I’m doing every­thing in my pow­er to get Bokeh off the ground. We found a beau­ti­ful apart­ment, in a con­ve­nient loca­tion that we can afford.

Hav­ing depres­sion has been an inter­est­ing expe­ri­ence. It’s changed how I view cer­tain things and revealed new aspects of my per­son­al­i­ty that I’m not hap­py about. I’m a pos­i­tive, hap­py, and opti­mistic per­son by nature, but depres­sion had turned me into a bit­ter, jad­ed, and cyn­i­cal per­son. If there’s one pos­i­tive, it taught me that my empa­thy has room to grow. Every­one has their own tri­als and tribu­la­tions, and instead of being judge­men­tal, I need to find more ways to be help­ful and encouraging.

Thank­ful­ly I’m feel­ing bet­ter. But I’m glad I took action. I found a ther­a­pist and went to the appoint­ment. I made this move because I was tired of feel­ing the way I felt, and I didn’t want that to esca­late into ruin­ing my won­der­ful mar­riage or into sui­ci­dal thoughts. And that’s espe­cial­ly hard when the last thing you have when you’re depressed is motivation.

So if you’re going through some­thing sim­i­lar, take action. Talk to some­one. Get help. I’m so glad I did.


2018: Year in Review

Due to depres­sion, 2018 has been dif­fi­cult for me. But reflect­ing on the year has helped me remem­ber all the fun and great expe­ri­ences I’ve had. This is my annu­al write-up where I share some of the high­lights of the year and set goals for the next one.

Cruise with the family

I mar­ried into an amaz­ing fam­i­ly, and that has­n’t been more evi­dent than on this cruise. We spent a relax­ing sev­en days in the West­ern Caribbean snor­kel­ing, watch­ing some great shows, and enjoy­ing the warm clear waters. It was only my sec­ond cruise ever, and if I could afford it, I’d go on one of these every year.

New Job at Changelog

After get­ting laid off late in 2017, I was left scram­bling to find some­thing new. Months of email­ing my résumé and count­less inter­views left me dis­cour­aged. You already know I’ve had issues with the hir­ing process of design jobs before.

One day, I was chat­ting with my friend Adam Sta­covi­ak, and he told me Changel­og was look­ing for a Senior Pro­duc­er. With my pre­vi­ous pod­cast expe­ri­ence, he thought I’d be a good fit.

I’ll be hon­est, I was scared at first. This was some­thing com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent to what I’d done pro­fes­sion­al­ly since… well… ever. But, I also knew I need­ed a break from the web. I was burnt out, did­n’t agree with how JavaScript-cen­tric the indus­try has become, and dis­il­lu­sioned with how under­val­ued my CSS skillset is.

The Changel­og team.

I’m so hap­py things came togeth­er the way they did. Changel­og is a won­der­ful place to work. Not only am I excit­ed by the work I get to do every­day, the Changel­og team is com­posed of kind, smart, and fun­ny people.

And they let me host my own show! Away from Key­board is the show I’ve want­ed to make for years. You may recall I tried to do some­thing sim­i­lar back in 2015 with For the Record and made two episodes. Sad, I know.

Away from Key­board already has ten awe­some episodes, and I could­n’t be proud­er of the sto­ries I’ve been able to tell. Also, I don’t think I’ll ever come up with a cool­er name for a podcast.

Good times in Florida

We went to Flori­da twice this year. In April, we went to St. Peters­burg for Front End Design Con­fer­ence. FEDC is a spe­cial event for me: it was the first con­fer­ence I ever went to. Now, six years lat­er, I’d been invit­ed to speak there. It was a dream come true.

In August, we went to Orlan­do as a late anniver­sary trip. While we had a great time, Flori­da in August was too hot. It was­n’t any cool­er than 95º the week we were there, and add to that how insane­ly humid it was.

Kel­ly and I aren’t made for that type of heat, but it was still a relax­ing week. We slept in, went to Dis­ney World, relaxed in the pool, watched a lot of movies, and read some great books.

Denver with the Prados

I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to make it in Min­neso­ta. This year marked my six year anniver­sary, and the win­ters are start­ing to grate on me. Den­ver is a place I’ve always been inter­est­ed in, so we decid­ed to vis­it. Our best friends, The Pra­dos, decid­ed to come along too.

We had an amaz­ing time. Den­ver is a beau­ti­ful place, filled with nice peo­ple and breath­tak­ing topog­ra­phy. We were only there for an extend­ed week­end, but we were able to vis­it Boul­der and do a fun graf­fi­ti tour downtown.

London in the Fall

Changel­og sent me to Sus­tain Sum­mit in Octo­ber. Sus­tain hap­pened to be in Lon­don this year, mak­ing it my first time in England.

We only spent 4 days in Lon­don (much of it crazy jet-lagged), but we still got to do and see a lot. I’m grate­ful to Changel­og and Sus­tain for mak­ing this unfor­get­table trip possible.

Parents’ 28th Anniversary

Twen­ty-eight years isn’t usu­al­ly a big year for anniver­saries, but I’m a sucky child that had­n’t done much of any­thing for my par­ents’ anniver­sary as an adult. That need­ed to change this year. With the help of Kel­ly and my aunt, we planned a nice, small din­ner for my par­ents, and invit­ed some of their friends. To our sur­prise, some fam­i­ly from Cal­i­for­nia came to cel­e­brate as well.

My par­ents don’t have many pic­tures togeth­er, so I decid­ed to gift them a photoshoot.

Diving deeper into photography

I’ve always tak­en a lot of pictures—it’s been an inter­est of mine for a long time. This year was dif­fer­ent though, I took more pic­tures than I’ve ever taken.

The big dif­fer­en­tia­tor has been my cam­era. In April, I sold my Canon DSLR and bought a Sony α7 III. It’s changed every­thing. Yes, the gear does­n’t make the pho­tog­ra­ph­er, but the α7 III is much eas­i­er to use. A cam­era that’s eas­i­er to use, means you wor­ry less about the tech­ni­cal aspects, and more on the actu­al pho­to. If you’re curi­ous to hear my rea­sons for mov­ing to a Sony cam­era, I made a video all about it.

Getting back into comics

I read a lot of comics this year and loved every minute of it. In the past, most of my comics were super­hero-relat­ed. 2018 was the year I tried to broad­en my hori­zons. In the process, I found great comics like SagaAna­logObliv­ion Song, and more. Back in Novem­ber, I wrote about how I start­ed read­ing comics and some of my cur­rent rec­om­men­da­tions.

In July, I start­ed writ­ing a blog post for my week­ly pull list, which has turned out to be a lot of fun. Thanks to Dave Rupert, I start­ed tak­ing pic­tures of some of my favorite cov­ers for the posts. Like Dave said from the begin­ning, it’s killed two birds with one stone: the arti­cles are more inter­est­ing, and it’s helped me prac­tice my photography.

What’s in store for 2019

All in all, 2018 was a fan­tas­tic year. As much as it’s been dif­fi­cult, we also trav­eled a lot, I found a job at an awe­some com­pa­ny, and got lost in some incred­i­ble stories.

And that’s why I write these. It’s all too easy to focus on the neg­a­tive. But tak­ing a step back, I real­ize there is always much to be hap­py about, and so many things to be grate­ful for.

Here are my goals for 2019:

  1. Invest our mon­ey intel­li­gent­ly
    We’ve got a lit­tle bit of mon­ey saved, and it’s just sit­ting in our account doing noth­ing. I’d real­ly like to do some­thing smart with that mon­ey and make it grow.
  2. Take my cam­era every­where
    Tak­ing the cam­era every­where isn’t the most con­ve­nient thing, and I’m not the only pho­tog­ra­ph­er to feel that way. There are many moments I missed that I’m deter­mined not to miss next year.
  3. Lose forty pounds
    I lost thir­ty pounds this year, then put fif­teen back on. I’d like to lose forty next year, and keep them off.

It’s going to be a great year.

Kind­ly edit­ed by Kel­ly Smith.


2017: Year in Review

Highlights from the year and what’s in store for the next one

I’ve heard that as you get old­er, time goes by faster. I def­i­nite­ly felt that this year. As with most years there were good times and bad, here are some of the highlights.

Almost Canadians

In Jan­u­ary, Kel­ly and I were invit­ed to Toron­to by Shopi­fy. I was inter­view­ing for a job there—that I even­tu­al­ly did­n’t get. You can read all about my heart being bro­ken, but aside from the inter­view it was an excel­lent trip. I enjoyed get­ting to know Toronto.

My friend Cayce took me to Kin­ton Ramen which blew my mind. I’d nev­er had ramen before, so I was a lit­tle skep­ti­cal, but after this I could­n’t get enough. Kel­ly and I end­ed up eat­ing there two more times before we left. If I had all the mon­ey in the world, I’d have my pri­vate jet fly me there just for lunch.

While we were there, we went apart­ment hunt­ing. Prices for apart­ments in Toron­to are pret­ty crazy. We were look­ing at places for $1900 CAD at the time, which did­n’t get you much.

I think mov­ing would’ve been a great expe­ri­ence for the both of us, but oh well.

Speaking Again

This year was a great one for speak­ing events. I had the hon­or of speak­ing at four events this year. Out of the four events, I’d nev­er been to two of the cities.

I was invit­ed to give my talk on CSS Grid. Giv­ing this talk was insane­ly excit­ing because we went from only hav­ing sup­port in Fire­fox and Chrome, to hav­ing sup­port in almost all browsers except IE11. As some­one who’s work­flow has been com­plete­ly changed with CSS Grid, I was excit­ed by the brows­er sup­port and the reac­tion of peo­ple to the topic.

I’d like to extend a huge thank you to Min­nebar, BeerCi­ty Code, Con­verge, and EE Conf for let­ting me speak at their event. Shar­ing new things you’re learn­ing is always very rewarding.


@keaton_taylor hooked me up with the awe­some peo­ple at Mealthy. At the time, Mealthy had­n’t launched their site yet. They had a site in devel­op­ment already with great bones, but need­ed some polish.

I start­ed work­ing with them in August and over the next few months we deployed the site, launched the com­pa­ny’s first phys­i­cal prod­uct, then launched the sec­ond. I also had the plea­sure and priv­i­lege of work­ing with a fun and trust­ing team. Work­ing with Mealthy is hands down one of the best pro­fes­sion­al expe­ri­ences I’ve had.

Even though I was laid off in Decem­ber, I wish the remain­ing team the very best.

Brightly Colored

After four years of this site being called The Bold Report, I decid­ed it was time for a new name. I detailed some of the rea­sons back in Octo­ber, but to make a long sto­ry short, it’d been a long time coming.

2017 was a great year for this blog. It saw growth in read­er­ship, I wrote a lot, and it’s cur­rent design is the best one I’ve made. I’d love to see read­er­ship grow a lot more in 2018, but I feel like I’ve been say­ing that since the site’s inception.

Times with Loved Ones

2017 was a great year with friends and fam­i­ly. My sis­ter-in-law from Mon­tana vis­it­ed us with her kids, my broth­er-in-law from Cal­i­for­nia paid us a vis­it with his fam­i­ly, my sis­ter-in-law from Wis­con­sin came to vis­it a few times, my uncle and cousin moved from Cal­i­for­nia to Min­neso­ta, and we took (our now tra­di­tion­al) cab­in trip up north in the fall. We also made a trip out to Cal­i­for­nia to cel­e­brate my aunt and uncle’s twen­ty-fifth anniversary.

YouTube Channel

2017 was the year I final­ly bought a cam­era. Short­ly after, I start­ed a YouTube chan­nel. In just a few months, I’d cre­at­ed some prod­uct reviews, unbox­ings, and movie reviews. They’re not too bad (if I do say so myself).

The set­up has changed a bit since this pho­to, but the mess is the same.

Then, the sum­mer came and things just… stopped. And I haven’t had a chance to get back at it. I have plans to fix this in 2018, with a siz­able list of ideas. But my biggest goal con­cern­ing the chan­nel is to find my own voice in video. It’s been a dif­fi­cult adjust­ment to be in front of the cam­era since I would­n’t con­sid­er myself pho­to­genic. Not only that, but I don’t sound like myself just yet—my scripts still feel very robot­ic and my deliv­ery too stiff.

A Two-Wheeled Adventure

In May, Kel­ly and I went to get our motor­cy­cle per­mits. A few days lat­er, we bought a Hon­da PCX150. A sleek lit­tle scoot­er that I could use to run errands while she’s at work. Since we only have one car, being able to go out, get some sun, meet peo­ple for lunch, and more was amaz­ing dur­ing the sum­mer. I got a taste of being on two wheels and was hooked.

In Octo­ber I took a motor­cy­cle train­ing class and final­ized get­ting my motor­cy­cle endorse­ment. It was two intense days that stressed how to be safe on a motor­cy­cle. There’s a lot that’s com­mon sense, but there’s also so much you don’t think about in a car that could save your life on two wheels. I’m very tempt­ed to upgrade to a motor­cy­cle next year.

New Kitten

We added a new mem­ber to the Smith fam­i­ly this year. We adopt­ed a tiny grey kit­ten from the Humane Soci­ety and named her Izzy. Four months lat­er, she’s sig­nif­i­cant­ly big­ger but still insane­ly play­ful. This cat has the most ener­gy I’ve seen in a kit­ten. She’ll run around and play, take a five minute pow­er nap, and get back at it. Her and our oth­er cat get along well so we’re hap­py about that too.

Izzy doesn’t fit in a box on my desk any­more, but she’s just as cute.

Timberwolves Season Tickets

After many years of anguish, being a Tim­ber­wolves fan is excit­ing again with the addi­tions they made in the recent off-sea­son. We decid­ed to get sea­son tick­ets in the nose­bleeds, which turned out to be great seats.

Before the sea­son start­ed, we were invit­ed to an open house and had the chance to tour the whole are­na. The ren­o­vat­ed Tar­get Cen­ter is beau­ti­ful. We even had a chance to sit court­side while the Wolves prac­ticed. There we were just inch­es from these incred­i­bly tall bas­ket­ball play­ers, and I could not get the smile off my face. That night, I was a kid all over again. I was on the jum­botron too!

Kel­ly and I with Crunch at the Tar­get Cen­ter open house.

Winter Basketball

I need­ed exer­cise to be part of my reg­u­lar rou­tine so this win­ter I signed up for win­ter bas­ket­ball. It’s been so much fun to play every Mon­day night. The sea­son start­ed in Novem­ber, and I feel like every game I get into a lit­tle bit bet­ter shape.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not even a shad­ow of my nine­teen-year-old self, but the car­dio makes me feel exhaust­ed and amaz­ing at the same time. I’m so excit­ed to be play­ing the game I love on a reg­u­lar basis again. Oh and I final­ly have a jer­sey with my num­ber on it.

Looking Forward to 2018

All in all, I’m real­ly hap­py with 2017. I feel like I used my time the way I want­ed to, improved my phys­i­cal and men­tal health, and enjoyed expe­ri­ences that widened my horizons.

Here’s our mot­to for 2018:

Our Mot­to: Be Proac­tive, Not Reactive.

Now for my goals:

  1. Pro­duce at Least One Video a Month
    At least. I’m hop­ing I can make more than that, but one per month feels achiev­able. I’d like to get 1k sub­scribers by the end of the year too.
  2. Read One Book Every Two Months
    I’ve got a list of sev­en­teen books. I’m almost pos­i­tive I won’t be able to read all of them this upcom­ing year, but I think six is a rea­son­able goal.
  3. Buy a House
    After liv­ing almost three years in a base­ment apart­ment, 2018 will be the year we move out. I need more sun­light, and I’d like for us to have a place of our own.

It’s going to be a great year.


Self-Doubt and My Interview With Shopify

Helen Tran wrote an awe­some arti­cle for fem-designers-in-tech:

Self-doubt is healthy in dos­es but be care­ful what sto­ry you are telling your­self. Self-doubt is a mech­a­nism to help you gauge what’s real not to over-exag­ger­ate anx­i­eties. Self-doubt is, Hmm, I should think about this a lit­tle.” not, I am ter­ri­ble at this.” This is many steps too far in the wrong direction.

Her advice struck a cord with me, so I wrote her an email:

Hey Helen!

Loved this arti­cle! I’m not a female, but I find this arti­cle to be excel­lent advice. I’m a Lati­no, and I start­ed in this indus­try real­ly young. I was 15 when I got my first job. I turn 25 this year. I strug­gle with every point you talk about here.

I hon­est­ly believe this is why I did­n’t get the job at Shopi­fy. I did­n’t sell myself in the inter­views and instead I came off as inex­pe­ri­enced and unsure about learn­ing new things. I con­stant­ly sell myself short. My lack of belief in myself leads to lack of belief from oth­ers. I’m deter­mined to change that this year. I’ve seen peo­ple with much less expe­ri­ence advance way quick­er than I have.

Any­way, all this just to say thank you. This arti­cle may not be writ­ten for me, but it sure does help.


In case you did­n’t know, I inter­viewed with Shopi­fy in Jan­u­ary. They flew Kel­ly and I out to Toron­to for an awe­some 4 days. All my friends said a vari­a­tion of the same thing:

If they’re fly­ing you out, they must real­ly want to hire you!

I doubt­ed. Some­thing told me that I’d screw this up and they would­n’t end up hir­ing me. Still, we had a great trip. Kel­ly and I looked at apart­ments, ate amaz­ing food, and fell in love with the city. We began to imag­ine what our lives would be like in Toron­to, and it was pret­ty exciting.

We flew back to Min­neso­ta, and all my friends and fam­i­ly were eager to know how it had gone. I thought the inter­views had gone pret­ty well and I’d fool­ish­ly got­ten my hopes up. A cou­ple days lat­er, I received the call.

We’re mov­ing for­ward with oth­er candidates.

In film you’ve seen this moment. The char­ac­ter hears the impor­tant line and the rest just becomes muf­fled. That’s kind of how this moment felt. It might just be that I’m a very emo­tion­al per­son, but I don’t remem­ber the rest of the con­ver­sa­tion. I was too busy deal­ing with the increas­ing­ly large knot in my throat. I do remem­ber say­ing thank you, then hang­ing up.

I was dev­as­tat­ed. I cried. I real­ly want­ed the job. I want­ed the change of scenery. Deep down, I want­ed the val­i­da­tion of a com­pa­ny like Shopi­fy being inter­est­ed in me and my skill set. I spent a few weeks mop­ing and being sad.

Once the emo­tion cleared and I could actu­al­ly think about it, I real­ized it was part­ly my fault. I’m sure there were many fac­tors involved but one of the biggest is that I sell my own self short.

If I don’t believe in myself and my skills, how is any­one else sup­posed to? I do this con­stant­ly. I under­sell my exper­tise, and what I can bring to a team.

I often still feel like that fif­teen year-old that’s just get­ting start­ed. So many moments where I feel like a fraud about to be dis­cov­ered. I’ve gone to extreme lengths to pre­vent peo­ple from know­ing how old I am. I always feel them find­ing out will inval­i­date any­thing I’ve said or made. The ageism I’ve expe­ri­enced along my career has only served to rein­force that feeling.

Like I said in my email to Helen, this is the year I decid­ed to change this. I’ll be speak­ing at a local con­fer­ence here in the Twin Cities and have start­ed to send pro­pos­als to many oth­ers around the globe. I’m also writ­ing a lot more about devel­op­ment and design here on this site.

I’m done let­ting these inse­cu­ri­ties win. I’m done try­ing to get val­i­da­tion that I should­n’t need. I’m me and I’m awe­some. If you’ve felt like this, I hope you join me and fol­low Helen’s advice.


2016: Year in Review

Another year came and went, here are some highlights

While it may be cliché to say that the year flew by, it does­n’t make it any less true. In what has become a great tra­di­tion, I’d love to share some high­lights from 2016.

Becoming Cat People (Again)

Two years ago, I had a won­der­ful cat named RANDY. Due to a string of unfor­tu­nate events, I had to put RANDY up for adop­tion. I was dev­as­tat­ed. I loved him. He was so affec­tion­ate and lov­ing, in a time where I was sore­ly lack­ing that in my life. Fast-for­ward two years, and life was com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent, filled with love and hap­pi­ness. But I still want­ed a cat.

My beau­ti­ful Min­nie. She’s so cute.

So we got two. We have a won­der­ful rag-doll that we adopt­ed as a kit­ten named Pix­el. And Min­nie, a beau­ti­ful poly­dactyl cat we adopt­ed from the Humane Soci­ety. Pix­el has picked Kel­ly as her human, and Min­nie has picked me. Would I have liked both cats to have picked me? Yes, but it all worked out.

Concerts of a Lifetime

I believe I was 11 when I said to myself that if I ever saw Bey­on­cé per­form, I could die hap­pi­ly. The con­cert was at TCF Bank Sta­di­um, an out­door sta­di­um. The day of the show was rainy and right before it was about to start, there was a light­ning storm. They emp­tied the entire sta­di­um to wait it out. There we were, packed like sar­dines in the con­course, fool­ish­ly won­der­ing if this would all be worth it. The Queen B did not dis­ap­point. Bey­on­cé is a spec­tac­u­lar per­former, and her voice—my God, her voice—was magnificent.

That con­cert alone would’ve made the year. Then Kel­ly sur­prised me with Adele tick­ets. Adele. Peo­ple I saw not one, but two mind-blow­ing­ly tal­ent­ed women per­form in the span of three months. When I heard Adele’s voice, I could­n’t help but cry. Not because it was her, but her voice is unbe­liev­able. Mul­ti­ple songs gave me the chills and she sang all of my favorites. You see a lot of Adele’s per­son­al­i­ty dur­ing the con­cert, and let me tell you, she is a delight. I would love to hang out with her.

Our Trip to California

We went out this year for a friend’s wed­ding, but we also had a great time with fam­i­ly. For those of you who may not know, Cal­i­for­nia is where I was born and raised. As much as I dis­like my home state (and would­n’t move back unless absolute­ly nec­es­sary), I do miss my fam­i­ly. We’re a tight-knit bunch of Lati­nos, and I regret tak­ing for grant­ed how often we saw each oth­er and spent time togeth­er. It was an awe­some week­end. I took about 300 hun­dred pic­tures on a DSLR that I rent­ed. Only kept about 15. Using a DSLR was a new chal­lenge for me, and I look for­ward to doing it again.

My First Cruise

I was so ner­vous about this trip, almost to the point of not look­ing for­ward to it. I wor­ried that I’d get sea sick and it’d be a long week. How wrong I was! The ship was noth­ing short of amaz­ing. Not only is it an engi­neer­ing and archi­tec­tur­al tri­umph, there is some­thing for every­one on it. We had great food and drinks, watched stand-up com­e­dy, enjoyed Broad­way-cal­iber shows, lis­tened to some insane­ly tal­ent­ed musi­cians, and karaoke‑d our hearts out.

Kel­ly and I on the cata­ma­ran that took us snorkeling

And that’s only what we did on the ship. Our time on the dif­fer­ent islands was a blast, snor­kel­ing was breath­tak­ing, and my Min­nesotan-pale skin got the tan it deserved. If you’ve been on the fence about tak­ing a cruise, I whole-heart­ed­ly rec­om­mend it. I’m pos­i­tive you’ll enjoy it, no mat­ter what your def­i­n­i­tion of fun may be.

Leaving ACL

In Novem­ber, I decid­ed to leave ACL after work­ing there 4 months shy of two years. The com­pa­ny was real­ly good to me, but some of our val­ues did­n’t align, and I felt that I was­n’t inter­est­ed enough in the domain to con­tin­ue doing my best. Still, I had a great time there. I learned so much, and had the priv­i­lege of con­tribut­ing to sev­er­al appli­ca­tions the com­pa­ny makes. I walked away with more knowl­edge, and great friends.

My awe­some Adaman­tium teammates

What’s next? I don’t real­ly know yet. I hope to have some­thing more con­crete to share soon.

Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes

This was the real blow of the year, but I can’t say I was shocked. I was­n’t feel­ing good for a while, and I stu­pid­ly put off going to the doc­tor. I was at a point where I just had to go, and after doing a blood test, it was con­firmed: I had Type 2 Dia­betes. Learn­ing to live with Dia­betes has been dif­fi­cult. I have to watch what I eat, make sure to take my med­ica­tion, poke myself to test my blood sug­ar, and plan meals for a set time. I used to be able to skip a meal or post­pone it, now I have to eat some­thing or my blood sug­ar will drop and I’ll feel crappy.

Hon­est­ly, I hate it. I have moments where I cry because of the con­stant frus­tra­tion it caus­es me, and I regret the deci­sions that got me here. But as with every oth­er mis­take I’ve made, I can­not undo it. The past is the past, and I can only focus on the future. I have a fan­tas­tic part­ner in Kel­ly, and she’s been so sup­port­ive and lov­ing with me. I appre­ci­ate all her help, and how much she cares for me.

While parts of this year felt dif­fi­cult, and anx­i­ety and stress-induc­ing, it was still great. I lost 15 pounds, trav­eled a lot, and enjoyed great new expe­ri­ences. I spent time with fam­i­ly, got clos­er to new and old friends, and saw some enter excit­ing new eras of their lives.

What’s in Store for 2017

Just like last year, Kel­ly and I have decid­ed to fol­low my friend Phil’s tra­di­tion of set­ting a mot­to for the year.

Our Mot­to: Embrace the New.

Here are my goals for the year:

  1. Ded­i­cate 10 mins each day to learn French
    I want to learn a new lan­guage. I’m flu­ent in both Span­ish and Eng­lish, but it’s not fair because I was taught both from birth.
  2. Lose 40 lbs.
    My bat­tle with weight con­tin­ues, but I real­ized I’ve nev­er actu­al­ly put a sol­id num­ber that I’d like to lose. My hope is that set­ting a spe­cif­ic goal will help me accom­plish it.
  3. Make $200/month in side income
    I don’t have a spe­cif­ic plan for mak­ing this hap­pen yet. I do know I have knowl­edge I can impart to oth­ers and hope­ful­ly make a lit­tle mon­ey from that.

This year feels like a good one.


2015: Year in Review

The year came and went, and as usual, here’s my annual year in review

This was by far the best year in a long time. Kel­ly and I were mar­ried on May 9. It was the best day of my life.

We were sur­round­ed by all of our friends and fam­i­ly who smoth­ered us in so much love and hap­pi­ness. If I could, I would live that day over and over. It sounds so sap­py, but I just can’t help it.

Working Full-time Again

With my group at the team building excursion
ACL took us on a team excur­sion in May. Our team name was: The Totems

Hav­ing a reg­u­lar” day job has its pros and cons. After run­ning my own busi­ness for so long, hav­ing a more rigid sched­ule where I work 5 days a week has been dif­fi­cult to get used to.

But, there’s some­thing to be said about hav­ing a reg­u­lar pay­check, paid vaca­tion, and oth­er ben­e­fits. Most impor­tant­ly, I real­ly want­ed to work on a team, and I’m so for­tu­nate to have land­ed on a team of incred­i­bly smart, tal­ent­ed, and hum­ble people.

Stepping Down From Goodstuff

As you may recall, Good­stuff was a pod­cast net­work I start­ed with Adam Clark and Chris Enns in 2014. Run­ning it was so much fun, but with me get­ting mar­ried, I couldn’t make it a priority.

Soon after, I start­ed a pod­cast again, which has two real­ly great episodes pub­lished. For The Record is the best show I’ve ever done. I have about 6 inter­views record­ed that I’ll be work­ing on in the next few months. I hope to bring the show back in the spring.

Pod­casts have tak­en on a whole new life for me this year. Sure, they’ve been around for a while, but my good­ness! The lev­el of qual­i­ty has gone up like crazy, and I’ve dis­cov­ered some amaz­ing shows this year. Maybe I’ll post a list of my favorites at a lat­er date.

Summer Trip to Europe

Kel­ly and I went to Europe for the first time this sum­mer. It was the first time both as a cou­ple and indi­vid­u­al­ly. Europe was won­der­ful. Vis­it­ing places you’ve only ever seen in pic­tures is quite the experience.

The Europe group on the tour bus

We saw the Eif­fel Tow­er at night with all the lights on, walked many unknown streets, took the sub­way, had espres­so and pas­tries in a French cafe, missed our train, felt frus­trat­ed because we couldn’t speak French, ate amaz­ing food, made great new friends, and saw peo­ple nude on the beach like it was no big deal. I hope we get the chance to go back.

The last high­light of the year? Star Wars: The Force Awak­ens. I’ve watched it in the­aters four times. Each time bet­ter than the last.

What’s in Store for 2016

My co-work­er Phil told me that his fam­i­ly agrees on a mot­to for the year. I loved the idea so much, that I’m steal­ing it. As always, I’ve got some goals for this year, but I also want to share the mot­to Kel­ly and I plan to live by.

Mot­to: Live Healthy.

  1. Build a Piece of Fur­ni­ture
    I’m keep­ing this one from last year. I real­ly want to dab­ble in some car­pen­try this year. It’ll get me away from my com­put­er, and the chance to spend some qual­i­ty time with my Dad.
  2. Lose Weight
    Not much I can say here that I haven’t said. Part of liv­ing a health­i­er life.
  3. Trav­el
    Tak­ing breaks is part of being and stay­ing healthy. I have paid vaca­tion now, why the hell not use it?

It’s going to be a great year.


2014: Year in Review

In an effort to keep up a good habit, it’s time to do a lit­tle reflec­tion on last year, and set new goals for 2015. I can’t believe how quick­ly 2014 went by. I feel as if every year seems to go by quick­er than the last. Still, I was able to accom­plish three out of five goals this past year, which I’m quite proud of.

Here were my goals for 2014:

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Learn Rails
  3. Col­lab­o­rate with Friends
  4. Men­tor a Student
  5. Take Work-cations

I did real­ly well! I lost 10 lbs in 2014 and man­aged to keep them off. This is still an area I need to work on and will be putting more effort into this year.

2014 was the year I built the CMS pow­er­ing Good­stuff. Togeth­er with Will Duffy, we built this awe­some sys­tem that makes cre­at­ing new shows and post­ing episodes a breeze. With Will’s help, I’ve become more com­pe­tent with Rails. I can han­dle my own when it comes to gen­er­at­ing new migra­tions, cre­at­ing new con­trollers, and I even learned how to inte­grate Stripe pay­ments into a Rails app!

Last year, I com­plained that if I could work from any­where, why was­n’t I? This was fixed by fly­ing to Guatemala and stay­ing a total of six weeks! It was an absolute blast, I rode the bus every­where, got to see old friends and make new ones, went 5 days with­out water, and even spent 3 days on the beach. I did all of it, quite cheap­ly. I’d def­i­nite­ly rec­om­mend it.

What do I want to accom­plish in 2015? Here are my goals for this year:

  1. Lose Weight
    This stu­pid goal is on the list every year. But slow­ly, I’m mak­ing progress, and it needs to con­tin­ue. I signed up for the gym in Jan­u­ary, and thanks to my love­ly fianceé, we’ve been going regularly.
  2. Learn a Javascript Frame­work
    I’d like to even­tu­al­ly become a design­er who’s also a full-stack devel­op­er, and this is what I see as the next step in my devel­op­ment knowl­edge. There’s a lot of talk about Angu­lar, Back­bone, Ember, etc., and I’d like to know what’s going on here. I’ve heard you can cre­ate some real­ly awe­some appli­ca­tions with these, which is where I see my career head­ing as a whole.
  3. Sell More CMS Licens­es
    Last year, I built a pod­cast­ing CMS. I also licensed it to three net­works: the one I co-found­ed, Good­stuff FM, Relay FM, and Bro­ken Bug­gy. I’d like to license this CMS to more net­works who are in need of a pow­er­ful, yet sim­ple sys­tem to man­age their shows. This might involve cre­at­ing some type of mar­ket­ing site, but also might mean that I devel­op this into a SaaS.
  4. Bet­ter Sleep­ing Habits
    Sleep is so impor­tant. They say that when you miss out on sleep, you don’t ever recu­per­ate it. That’s depress­ing. Either way, I’ve got to get bet­ter about get­ting to sleep ear­li­er and wak­ing up ear­li­er. It’s not so dif­fi­cult, and inter­est­ing­ly, I always feel refreshed when I do.
  5. Design and Build a Piece of Fur­ni­ture
    When I was lit­tle, I’d work with my Dad build­ing fur­ni­ture for our house. My Dad has always inter­est­ed in car­pen­try. We built my desk togeth­er, my bed, their bed, and many oth­ers. This year, I’d like to design and build some­thing for my home. Admit­ting­ly, I’ll most like­ly need his help, but for once, maybe I can retain some of the knowl­edge he imparts.

Those are my goals for this year. What are yours?


2013: Year in Review

It’s 2014. I can’t believe I’m writ­ing that. It seems like yes­ter­day that I pub­lished this post.

2013 was an inter­est­ing year. It was rid­dled with both suc­cess and fail­ure. Thank­ful­ly, the year end­ed on a high note. This was the first year that I accom­plished all of my goals, except one.

My goals for 2013 were:

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Pay Atten­tion to the Rela­tion­ships that Matter
  3. Speak on Design
  4. Work Less
  5. Trav­el More

This is quite an accom­plish­ment! I spoke at two events last year: Min­neBar, and Blend Conf. I talked about the ben­e­fit of side projects, and peo­ple seemed to enjoy the talk.

In May, I quit my job at Rock­et Lift, and decid­ed to do Any­thin’ Goes full-time. This has been real­ly good for me. I’ve had the oppor­tu­ni­ty of work­ing with some great clients, and the flex­i­bil­i­ty of man­ag­ing my own sched­ule. I’ve also tried spend­ing less time in front of my desk, and more time with fam­i­ly, friends, or oth­er activities.

This year, I trav­eled a lit­tle too. I went to New York City in the sum­mer and the fall. I had the chance to walk Cen­tral Park the sec­ond time, which was absolute­ly beau­ti­ful, and the weath­er was per­fect. I went to Char­lotte, North Car­oli­na to speak, and San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia to vis­it my folks.

So what do I want to accom­plish in 2014? Here are my goals for this year:

  1. Lose Weight I know this is a repeat, but I seri­ous­ly want to tack­le this. I know things that are bad for me, but I don’t real­ly know what I should be eat­ing. I want to ded­i­cate a bit more time into plan­ning my menu every week, which I think will allow me to gro­cery shop effec­tive­ly, and help me learn how to cook new dishes.
  2. Learn Rails I know I can’t pos­si­bly learn Rails in one year, but I want to get very com­fort­able with it. At the moment, I can build a sim­ple appli­ca­tion with Rails, but I’d love to get into more com­plex things, and start imple­ment­ing best prac­tices like tests.
  3. Col­lab­o­rate with Friends Adam Clark and I have been talk­ing about work­ing togeth­er on some­thing for the longest time. I’d love to final­ly take a project where we can work on it togeth­er. I’d also love to work with oth­er peo­ple. 2013 was full of projects that I worked on alone, I’d like to be in a posi­tion to assem­ble teams for projects this year.
  4. Men­tor a Stu­dent Sim­i­lar to Lau­ra Kalbag, I’d like to guide a stu­dent through a project. I’m at a point where I can teach some­one how to man­age a project, and I should do my part in pay­ing that knowl­edge forward.
  5. Take Work-cations Run­ning my own busi­ness allows me to work from any­where. There is no need for me to work from my stu­dio 80 per­cent of the year. I need to start tak­ing advan­tage of the flex­i­bil­i­ty I have.

Those are my five goals for 2014. What do you want to accomplish?