Speaking at ELA Conf

ELAConf — November 20th & 21st

There’s an event coming up in Philly this weekend that I’ve been excited about since I caught wind that it was an idea floating around — ELA Conf. “ELA” stands for Empowerment, Leadership, Action, and the conference’s aim is to increase the number of women leading, speaking, and teaching in the technology space.

Back when I was in the throes of planning for BarCamp, I decided that I was done organizing, volunteering, and submitting proposals to conferences for the rest of the year. But when the opportunity to moderate a panel at ELA Conf popped up, I was really excited to say yes.

I’ll be moderating the panel on impostor syndrome with some rad women: Brianna Morgan, Elise Wei, and Arti Walker-Peddakotla. Brianna did a little preview of the talk with Amanda Clark at BarCamp last weekend (full disclosure: Amanda & I are both BarCamp organizers), and she wrote this awesome piece on impostor syndrome for Technically Philly.

As Dawn McDougall, another ELA Conf speaker and the executive director of Code for Philly, wrote, “If you’re a women doing cool things and not talking about them, you need ELA Conf.” I’m chronically bad at talking about all the tons and tons of things I’m doing. By not talking about them, I’m not doing myself any favors. I’m just running myself ragged and no one really knows about it.

I’m fully convinced that if I hadn’t moved to Philadelphia when I did, I wouldn’t be working as a web developer now. I’d probably still be afraid to learn to code. The tech community is incredibly supportive, and the Philadelphia chapter of Girl Develop It is the largest tech meetup in the city, which is super rad. I love that this event is drawing speakers and attendees even from outside of the Philadelphia region, and I’m so excited to spend the weekend learning from, encouraging, and getting to know everyone at the conference.

As a speaker, I also have two tickets to give out! If you’re on the fence about going, please contact me and let’s work something out! I’d love to see you there!

P.S. While we’re on the subject of speaking, I was recently interviewed on Joyce Akiko’s podcast! We chatted about learning, freelancing, and how to do it all while also holding down a full-time job. Check it out!

Intro to HTML/CSS for Girl Develop It South Jersey

Girl Develop It South Jersey

Credit: Pamela Bey/Berly Laycox

A few weekends ago, I taught my first Girl Develop It class for the South Jersey chapter, over the bridge in Haddonfield, NJ. It was the 101 class — a basic intro to HTML & CSS. The class was small, with only 9 students, so it felt really low pressure and conversational.

Throughout the class, the students asked excellent questions about tutorials, resources, and where to go from here. I usually answered by listing off several links, with promises to compile a list of resources in the form of blog posts. For a long time, I’ve had grand plans to create a “Resources” section of this site, with sections on everything from my favorite books on writing to web development tutorials and freelancing resources. I quickly realized there’d be no way for me to churn out something so prolific by the time these women needed me to get them a list of resources, so I did my best to remember everything I’d mentioned during the weekend and sent out the list as a quick email.

So, I suppose the lesson in this is that it’s better to just do the thing, rather than sitting around planning for the day when you have time to make the grander version. I thought the list might be helpful for others who are just starting out and looking for learning resources, so here it is.


Helpful Articles/Content/Books:

  • CSS Tricks — Tons of CSS articles, blog posts, and tutorials
  • A List Apart — A blog “for people who make websites”
  • A Book Apart — Publishers of HTML5 for Web Designers, CSS3 for Web Designers, and lots of other books you’ll find useful down the road
  • Skillcrush — A lot of their content is advertising for their paid classes, but they have lots of good posts about breaking into the industry, finding work, and acing your first interview
  • HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites by Jon Duckett — A well-designed and nicely laid out intro to the building blocks of the web
  • JavaScript and JQuery: Interactive Front-End Web Development by Jon Duckett — When you have a handle on HTML & CSS, this is the next step. Like his other book, this is really nicely designed and easy to understand.

Other Resources (stock photos, lorem ipsum, etc):

  • Death to the Stock Photo — They’ll email you excellent stock photos every month or so
  • Unsplash — More really beautiful free stock photos
  • Meet the Ipsums — All the filler text you could ever want
  • CodePen — A place to share your code, get feedback, and learn from others

If you have favorite learning resources you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

100 Days Left in 2015

100 days left in 2015Chad and I have been reading through the Bible this year. We both use an app with a reading plan that keeps us on track and tells us how many days we’ve completed. That’s how I know that this is day 265 of 2015. We have 100 days left.

I had a pretty ambitious list of things I wanted to accomplish this year. Some of them I’m no longer interested in following through on and some of them took other forms, but that’s ok. There are other things that weren’t on my initial list of 2015 to-dos (for example, reading the entire Bible was not on my list, but I think it’s a pretty big thing that I will have accomplished!), but I’m working on them and following through anyway. My goals have morphed, and I’m at peace with that.

I totally missed out on the 100 Days Project that everyone was freaking out over earlier this year (I was jealously cheering you all on from a distance!), but realizing that there are 100 days left this year reminded me of it.

What can you make in 100 days?  What can you do in 100 days? How much can you write in 100 days? What can you build in 100 days? What can you experience in 100 days?

Does thinking about the number of days left in the year feel depressing or motivating or something else altogether?

There are 100 days left in 2015. What will you do with them?

Back to Blogging

hammock vibes

Hammock vibes in North Carolina

This unintentional break pretty quickly turned into an intentional one, especially on the heels of this post, where I started to publicly question whether I’d continue here, and if so, to what end.

Partly, it was just normal stress and busyness: working full time, freelancing a lot, dealing with some health stuff, and a ton of weekend trips for family events. But when I realized I hadn’t blogged in a couple weeks and still didn’t feel like getting back to it, I decided that this break needed to be an intentional step back.

Before one of those long weekend trips, this one to Carrboro, NC, for my brother-in-law’s wedding celebration, I reached out to another blogger who recently moved back to Durham, NC. We’ve traveled to Carrboro a bunch of times over the past 5 or so years that Chad’s brother has lived there, and I’d been wanting to get a better sense of what there was to do in Durham. Robin was so excited to give me recommendations for places to scope out there. We’d never met, never really talked sans a couple Twitter/blog comment interactions, but she was so willing and enthusiastic to share her time and knowledge to list a few places. In recounting Robin’s recommendations to Chad during our 8 hour drive, I realized what it was that I wanted out of blogging.

Even though I’m pretty bad at it most of the time, blogging has still offered me cool opportunities, meaningful relationships, and in some small way, a little bit of ownership over my own life. Even when it feels hard, I can tweet or write into the abyss, and usually someone answers, really thoughtfully and kindly. The friends I’ve made on the internet (and IRL because of the internet) are amazing.

Over the past few months that I’ve been silent, I wanted to get to the bottom of why I’ve been doing this and if it’s worth it. I’ve decided it is. The answer is yes.

I’m in. I’m back. I’m ready to buckle down and make this space what I want it to be. I’m hoping that looks like more features, more interviews, and certainly more regular posting. I’m interested in exploring partnerships and collaborations with other bloggers, brands, and organizations. But mostly, I’m interested in documenting, living, and writing here again. Thanks for being here.

Chasing Waterfalls & Alt Summit

Ricketts GlenI spent the weekend without internet or cell service in a super rural part of Pennsylvania (like, even more rural than where I grew up, which is saying something). I peed in the woods, hung out around a campfire with friends, hiked to some waterfalls, marveled at the incredible number of ferns surrounding the campsite, and went to bed when it got dark and started raining. It was grand.

Ricketts GlenThere was time and space to just be, without scheming or planning or striving. It felt really good. I’ve been feeling a little disillusioned with the internet/social media/blogging world lately. I’ve been wondering about the end game, or if I even have one. And maybe it’s ok not to. And if I do have an ultimate goal behind this screen, what do I do if I reach it? What comes next? Will it feel empty?

Ricketts GlenThis disillusionment is kind of inopportune, since I recently found out I was accepted to speak at Alt Summit in a couple weeks. Even though it might not sound like it, I couldn’t be more excited and grateful for the opportunity. I’m hopeful that the impromptu conversations I’ll have with kindred spirits I hope to find will be energizing and motivating. I’m also really excited to host my roundtable discussion, Don’t Be Afraid of Your Website. I’m planning to cover the basic moving parts of a website, using WordPress as an example, and how they all come together and leave plenty of time and space for questions. You can take a closer look at the fancier description and the other sessions here.

If you’re there too, please say hi! I’d love to meet you. Let’s be friends. If it’s your first (or second or third) time and you’re a little nervous, I’d like to offer up these posts to help you get excited & collect yourself a bit.