aimee’s 2011 retrospective – a year in review

This is going to be a long post, all about me! feel free to skip it! :)

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Well, hello!

Hello to everybody who knows me from my two previous blogs: and I have decided to merge the two into one, which for convenience i’ve decided to have hosted on now.

Big news

In case anyone is not aware, let me share the news that eden development, my place of employment for nearly 3 years, closed its doors in March. For me this is sad news: eden was a truly remarkable place to work.

Through eden i met many amazing people, and learnt to hone the craft of developing excellent quality software. I have learnt how to listen to clients and understand their needs. I have been privileged to take on despo and Alberto as apprentices, imparting my knowledge and care and seeing them develop. Most importantly, i have grown in self confidence, to the point where i am now able to journey out on my own, taking on contracts and freelance work.


My contracting has begun at a consultancy firm in London. I have been contracted as a front-end developer, doing HTML, CSS and a bit of Javascript. It is easy work for me, not really particularly challenging. I am happy with that: at the moment i have big challenges to do with commuting and getting used to being self-employed, keeping control of expenses, invoices and tax. I didn’t want the added pressure of difficult work on top of that.

It turns out that the job is suiting me very well. I get on well with the people i work with, and i found i was able to start providing value for the company from my first day. I’m working hard and i believe i am exceeding their expectations of me. At the same time i’m learning how to use Demandware, a powerful ecommerce platform, and i may well find that the skills i learn here could come in useful for me again at some point in the future.

Looking ahead

My contract takes me until the middle of May, at which point i’d like to spend one week working on a freelance project. After that i’d like to take on another contract, and this time i’m particularly looking for something that uses my Ruby skills, as well as my knowledge of behaviour driven development. There are two possibilities i’m looking at, and i’m fairly confident that one of them will work out.

I am always interested in meeting new people to talk about work that i may be able to help with. I am really enjoying the freedom of contracting, so i’m not looking for permanent employment at the moment, unless it’s a very good offer. I’ve realised that job security is a myth, and painful though it was to leave eden, i think i needed that push to venture out on my own.

Right now

At this very moment i am at Scottish Ruby Conference in Edinburgh. I really enjoyed it last year, and this year seems even better. I am meeting new people and rekindling previous friendships. Today i have been inspired to work on a charitable project, i enjoyed an entertaining discussion on programming etiquette by Jim Weirich and Chris Nelson, and i was excited to see how MacRuby works.

It’s lovely that my mentor Enrique is here at SRC, sharing an apartment with me, and my apprentices are both here too. Edenites Chris and tooky are also around, and it’s great to spend time together again. Our shared experience of being part of eden is something that will remain with us, and we will always be good friends.

Notice that i say “edenites”, not “ex-edenites”. For me, eden was all about the culture and the people. My pride for quality of work, my valuing of client relationships, my commitment to learning, my honesty, my humility, these are eden’s values that have become deeply ingrained in me, that i intend should never leave me.

Thank you

If you read this far, thank you. You can see why this post has been a long time coming. It’s only now that i’m at Scottish Ruby Conference that i can really take the time to relax and reflect. The last few weeks have been like a whirlwind for me. Thank you to all who have supported me and encouraged me. It has been scary and exciting, and i’m relishing these new opportunities!

Here’s to my ongoing journey! :)

30 days to fix my life

These are the last few hours of my 30-day trial of various changes to my life. For the last 30 mornings i have got out of bed and got going at 7am consistently. I have completely cut out coffee, i have gone to bed at a decent time and i have prioritised my evenings more effectively, much reducing the amount of time i spend watching television.

By consequence i’ve felt a lot happier, more engaged, more enthusiastic to do my job and do it well. My weekends have seemed more structured. I’ve felt emotions that seem somehow more authentic, and i’ve looked forward to my bedtime, enjoying a good read in bed. I’ve often woken up before my alam sounds in the morning, and enjoyed dozing in bed listening to the birds and the weather. I’ve given up chocolate almost by accident, and i’ve no intention to start eating it again. I’ve come to absolutely love Rooibos Tea! :)

Several people have asked me: what happens next? Well, ideally more of the same. I spent 30 days exercising my self-discipline, forcing myself to follow a routine in order to establish a habit. I’d like to think it won’t be difficult to keep it up now. I used twitter extensively, tweeting every morning that i’d got up on time. Some of my followers will be glad to hear that i won’t be doing that anymore! Twitter is a great motivational tool, but i no longer need it. I think it would feel weird now to stay in bed after my alarm has sounded.

So the experiment has been a great success and it has set me up to continue the good habits that i’ve established. Thank you everyone for your encouragements during the past month. I’ve really appreciated it!

Progress update on my life improvements

So it’s been 10 days since i started implementing the changes to improve my life. I think it’s time for a little progress report. On the whole it is going incredibly well, better than i even imagined.

The caffeine withdrawal symptoms were horrible. I stopped drinking coffee on Sunday 18th July. By Monday evening i had a heavy headache, not particularly painful but giving a compressing feeling on my brain, making me feel fuzzy and slow-thinking. Then i threw up. Just a little bit at first, but later on i threw up really horribly and painfully. I never imagined that i could get sick from lack of coffee! Funny, it explains why i’ve sometimes been sick when i go away to visit people. Looking back now, it’s obvious it was the coffee withdrawals that caused it.

On Wednesday and Thursday i felt as if my natural emotions were returning. I began to feel a genuine sense of calm and happiness, quite unlike anything i’d felt for a long time. By Friday i was positively bubbling with wellbeing. It was amazing.

Going to bed on time has been quite easy. Without caffeine, i’ve felt ready for bed at the right time. I feel a genuine tiredness without the caffeine giving me an artificial sense of being awake. Some days i really look forward to bed time. With my routine, i’ve found i prioritize my evenings much more effectively. Knowing that i’m going to get ready for bed at 10pm means that i am much less inclined to watch television, putting off other things until later. I’m also delighted for the opportunity to read in bed, now that i’ve made time for it.

Getting up has not been a problem. The last 10 days i’ve been up at 7am sharp. I’ve written down my whole routine, so i do the same thing every day, including weekends. I found it useful and enjoyable to go out for a walk on Saturday and Sunday morning, at the time i’d normally walk to work. It keeps my routine consistent and means i’ve kick-started my day, getting useful things done early, and getting a bit of exercise.

A completely unexpected side-effect of giving up coffee is that i also seem to have given up chocolate, quite by coincidence! I guess i’m on quite a healthy living trip, so i felt if i was going to cut out caffeine, i ought to do it properly … but it’s amazing how i’ve not even had any desire or craving for chocolate. Every time i’ve given up chocolate before it’s been massively difficult and a big deal.

All in all, i’m feeling a whole lot better than before. My enthusiasm has returned, my lust for life is alive and well. I’m sleeping better, performing better during the day, enjoying my work again. I’m fairly sure this will prove to be the best thing i did all year! Maybe next i’ll even find a desire to do some serious exercise! :D

Fixing my life

Today i have made a few decisions, a few changes to make my life better.

What is wrong with my life? As it happens, a few things, but these are the most notable problems that i’ve known for a while and didn’t have the courage to admit to:

  1. I watch too much television
  2. I stay up too late
  3. I find it hard to get up in the mornings
  4. I rely too heavily on coffee

Recently i’ve felt i’ve not been getting enough sleep, i feel tired and irritable a lot of the time, i have little motivation to do things, and i am useless without coffee. Caffeine disrupts my sleeping patterns, so the problem is cyclical and self-perpetuating.

So a few things have to change, and i think i’ve found the answers in Steve Pavlina’s blog. Firstly, i’m going to give up coffee. I don’t want to be controlled by caffeine, so i will switch to rooibos tea, which i love!

Secondly, i am going to practise getting up on time. I literally mean practise. Something Steve mentions that i’ve never considered before is practising getting up when you’re already awake. You get undressed, get into bed, set your alarm for 5 minutes time and then practise getting up straight away, having a wash, getting dressed. Then you do it all again. It sounds funny, but it makes sense. Willpower alone is not good enough. Even with the best intentions, 7 o’clock aimee makes the wrong choices. My foggy brain gets confused and tries its very best to convince me to stay in bed. Therefore i need to train my subconscious brain to get up automatically.

Thirdly, i’m going to get up at the same time every day. I will get up at 7 o’clock for the next 30 days. This is something i’ve often said i will do; i’ve done it before and really felt the benefits. With proper training to get up straight away, i can make it work.

Fourthly, i’m going to get to bed at a good time. I want to be in bed at 22:30, reading a book until i feel tired and ready to sleep. I will turn off my phone to avoid the temptation to check twitter and emails in bed. I intend to be asleep by 23:30. To prepare for this i must do the washing up at 21:00, and start getting ready for bed at 22:00.

This is going to take discipline, but discipline is like a muscle: the more it is used, the easier it will become. Lately my discipline has been underused, which is why i’ve been finding things so difficult. I look forward to the benefits of discipline, having more time to read, watching less television, getting to work earlier to prepare for the day, having more energy, breaking my addiction to caffeine.

So with all that written down (so that you can all hold me to it!) off i go to practise getting up when my alarm goes off! :)

So long, 2008

Approximately a year ago, you may have wished me a happy 2008. If you did, thank you! I had a pretty awesome year!

Reading back in my blog, it feels like a long year. In fact, i noticed a stark contrast between the two halves of the year, pivoting on the moment i got my new job. I was amazed by how much of a difference it made in my perception: the first half of the year feels much longer than a year ago, but everything since my new job feels very recent. Yet the two halves are separated by just one weekend! I also noticed how many more blog posts i made in the earlier half of the year compared to the latter.

So it’s new year’s eve again, the time when i get all retrospective and nostalgic. I actually quite like staying in on new year’s eve and blogging. Here is a summary of the year.

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I need a new hobby

Once upon a time i used to turn my computer on straight away from coming home from work, and i often used to program and work on websites late into the evening. These days, however, i often don’t even bother to turn on the computer at all. I love programming, and i’m really enjoying the challenges of my job, but it cannot both a job and a hobby. I need to find a new hobby!

I’m really enjoying getting involved with the WinACC and being a low carbon champion. We went to a meeting this morning which was really good fun. I feel like i’m getting to know people a bit, which is nice. I’m also vaguely considering going to church again. Yeah, shock horror, i know! It’s very strange. I thought i was happy being agnostic. I feel i’d like to believe in something, but the trouble is, i need a child-like faith to believe in God, and i’m too analytical by nature. Much of Christianity just doesn’t seem to make sense to me, and yet, i’m still attracted to the idea of belonging to a church.

A hobby i’d like to explore more is astronomy. I would really like to get a telescope and explore the night skies a lot further. There’s so much to see out there, and it really fascinates me. Perhaps i need to join a local group of amateur astronomers.

I’d still like to do something with music. If i’m honest, perhaps that’s where church appeals to me. Good, lively, communal worship with a decent band really excites me, and i miss it. The trouble is, the churches which appeal to me musically usually tend to be the ones that really put me off with their extreme doctrines and beliefs.

Anyway, i seem to be blurting. I didn’t actually intend to come on here and talk about my spiritual desires right now!

Oh, i pre-ordered the Beedle the Bard book today at Waterstones. YAY! :D