I am irrationally enamored with the popular portrayal of the #vanlife movement, a whole subculture of people who have turned their backs on the idea of needing a big house, a yard, and a picket fence in favor of houses on wheels. A growing number of friends live contentedly-enough in their vans, trading space for the freedom to move about, and finding the best each season has to offer in different parts of the country. Even though I know that the life that happens beyond the edges of an Instagram photo isn’t always so rosy, a real part of me longs to join them. But not yet.
A demanding, more than 40 hour/week job, even if full-time remote, sucks up too much time. We own a house that actually makes us money, that we love, in a place that we love. And yet this dream lingers. I mean, look at the promise of this amazing self-driving, fully electric, AWD beauty! Perhaps when she comes online in 2022 I’ll be ready for van life.
I love that once a year the concerned citizenry in our region puts out a public notice asking everyone to slow down for the butterflies. I think this would happen anywhere, in any community, because who isn’t saddened by piles of broken butterfly wings beside the road, but I’m glad that it happens here. I’m glad that people realized that when vehicles slow down to 25 mph, most butterflies are harmlessly swept up over the cars rather than being smashed, and that they take the time to patiently share that knowledge with the rest of us.
A few months ago, T and I made a decision to trade a little extra income that we didn’t really need for a significant increase in quality of life. This meant that T went to part time, doing a little freelance work, and managing the household. What this meant to me is that sometimes now, even on work days amidst deadlines and meeting prep, a plate of carefully crafted french toast (or pancakes) garnished with fresh fruit and topped with real maple syrup suddenly, even magically, appears at my side in the mornings.
There are many other changes in our lives as a result of this decision. We have more time for exercise, for relaxation, for the outdoor adventures that we love, and also, french toast. I am so grateful for morning french toast magic!
The trees outside my window are so happy for the recent rains and warm weather it’s hard not to share their joy, even though they are torturing me with gouts of bright yellow pollen that make my eyes itch and my nose run. I love this marker of the changing seasons anyway. In past years, the pollen has gotten so thick that you can see it billowing on the air, great golden clouds shimmering in the sun. These trees are in the business of making more trees. Even better is when it rains – a short reprieve from allergies and then rain puddles all lined with yellow.
I’m not sure what a 100 Grateful Words really looks like when its typed out onto a page, but I was inspired by the 100 Naked Words … is it called a publication?… on Medium, and I thought I’d give it a try. That’s part of the beauty of the internet, isn’t it? I’m so grateful to have such an easy way to connect with interesting and creative people from all walks of life and to be inspired by the things that they write, draw, paint, photograph, do and think. Thanks especially to 100 Naked Words for this inspiration. I hope I’ll be able to keep it up.
A Medium page about design and life lessons by Marc Hemeon has been open in my tabs now for days. I’m clearly attached, and don’t want to completely lose track of it. Of the 70ish suggestions made in the list, here are my favorites.
Sketch with big markers — focus on the big idea and concept. Don’t get bogged down in the details.
Show more than images in your portfolio — explain your thinking and ideas behind your work by including copy with your images.
Icons with text are easier to understand — new apps should use text labels to help users understand navigation and features. You can drop the text labels when you hit 10 million users 😉
Design in black and white and add color later — if the design doesn’t work in black and white then adding color won’t help. Get the work right in black and white first.
Try it in German — too many times, when an app or design is internationalized the UI will break. Having more affordance and flexibility in your layouts will account for longer words when switching to other languages.
Say people, not users — “Users” sounds impersonal and clinical, try saying “People” or “Customers” instead, especially when sharing your design work with stakeholders.
Punch above your weight class — try what scares you, write that article or share that video tutorial or take that speaking opportunity. Try the uncomfortable.
Done is better than perfect — as designers we can have a tendency to overwork a design. Most of the time the design work we do will be iterated against later.
Cocoapotrace — Marc’s personal favorite live trace tool. Yes the site is a weird geocities site. But the software works great (and it’s free).
Saying NO is a strength — too many times we say yes when we really should say no. People respect no.
Spend time like money — guard your time, it’s your most precious resource.
Comparison kills — if you want to feel crappy about yourself then start comparing yourself to other people. You’re on your own journey and path.
Stop saying “Um”, “I think”, “I feel” and “So” — all of these phrases weaken your statement and make you sound less confident. Removing these words from your speech is difficult but very rewarding.
Contribute more, take less — whatever setting you find yourself in try to be the person giving the most to others, share your insights, your connections and your heart. You receive far more when you give.
Yes & — the classic tool of improv comedy. Saying “Yes and” will help you keep ideas flowing.
Market rate = the average of your 3 friends — use this formula if you have no idea what to charge on your hourly rate or what kind of salary to ask for.
Say thank you, how else can I help?
One big thing each day — focus on one task per day and get this task done. In fact, our friend Daniel Burka and his brother created an app to help with this called One Big Thing
Brian de Haaff wrote an interesting article about remote work myths that I want to come back to again sometime. But a quick notes on things I thought were interesting.
The title of the article is “Would you take an 8 percent pay cut to work from home?” and most of the comments are an answer to this question rather than to the actual content of the piece. (Marketers and content producers take note!) As a side note – my answer since I wouldn’t have accepted my current position if it had required relocation must be yes, since that would effectively have been a 100% pay cut. Right?
Most of the answers seemed to break into two categories – people defending the value of remote work (and, presumably, their paycheck), and people who don’t work from home suggesting that eliminating their time-consuming commute would provide more than 8% of value.
I hadn’t heard that IBM was going back on their remote work policy by bringing everyone in to some random location – a move or quit mandate. Possibly a way to lay people off without laying people off? Or did they find that too many people were taking advantage of the “just a paycheck” mentality?
That “just a paycheck” perception of remote work was a new one to me, and the most interesting part of the actual article. Because someone would actually submit an application that said, I really want to work for you so that I can collect a paycheck from you while working on my side-hustle?!? Are you freaking kidding me?