year in review

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2016 in Bullets

2016 Best Nine! Featured: Pittsburgh, Iceland, Philly, Lancaster, and Terrain

Every year when I sit down to write this post, I think “Next year, I will keep track as I go along so this isn’t so hard!” But then every year I find myself digging through Google Calendar, trying to piece together an overview of what happened. This year’s is a bit delayed, as I was busy waking up in Reykjavik on my birthday last week. So this feels like the real first week of the new year to me.

2016 was one of the more eventful years I’ve had recently, I think. After what felt like a particularly bad year in 2015, when I just really felt like I wasn’t moving forward in any of the ways I wanted to be, I think I was a lot less enthusiastic or optimistic about what I wanted to happen this year, and kept my expectations pretty low. It was still a hard year, but I had a ton of fun surprises.

The biggest fun (and truthfully, sometimes not-so-fun) surprise of all was buying a house in downtown Lancaster! It’s what 2016 is characterized by the most (and seemingly endless sanding and painting), followed by a serious summer travel schedule, mostly due to conferences and Chad flying to the Bay Area to work onsite at his current client’s office.

This is 2016 in bullet points.


Lisa Yoder speaks at Ela Conf

Courtesy Ela Conf

Events where I spoke, taught, or organized:


Google Bikes

Google Bikes!

Conferences I attended (not including those in which I spoke):

  • Eating Words, a food writing conference put on by Edible Philly. It was fun to go to a conference outside of the genre I usually attend.
  • Google i/o, thanks to an incredible travel grant from Google’s Women Techmakers and Girl Develop It
  • Write/Speak/Code — This was undoubtedly the most actionable conference I’ve been to. We basically worked from 9 to 6ish every day, and came away having produced and learned so much. Definitely recommend.
  • Abstractions


Icelandic Sheep

Icelandic sheep in the midnight sun

Places I traveled:

  • Staycation in Philly (Damn Zika! We were supposed to go to Puerto Rico.) plus a few days at Brush Mountain Lodge in Central PA. It was beautiful.
  • Mountain View, CA, for Google i/o, plus an excursion to Santa Cruz and Big Sur! It was so fun to rent a house with my friends and roam around the Google campus on their funny bikes.
  • Chapel Hill/Carrboro for Memorial Day
  • Chicago for Write/Speak/Code
  • Iceland with friends
  • Pittsburgh for Abstractions
  • Philly all the time for a lot of reasons. I spent a lot of time and money on Amtrak. Also, it’s not a bad drive.


Liars' Club book on table at coffee shop

This summer, we spent several Sunday afternoons reading and writing at Square One Coffee.

Books I read:

That’s a longer list than I thought it’d be, and I think I’m still missing some!


Jenny Lewis

Rabbit Fur Coat 10 Year Anniversary

Shows I saw:

  • Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins Rabbit Fur Coat 10 Year Anniversary Show in Philly
  • Waxahatchee at the Chameleon Club
  • Basement show here in Lancaster in a little venue called The Cellar

This was obviously not a stellar year for seeing shows. Too much travel and Lancaster to Philly back and forth, I guess.


Lisa in front of WrdSmith street art

Credit: Chad Ostrowski

Miscellaneous fun stuff:

  • We had a series of movie nights with Philly friends.
  • My super talented friend Kristen invited me to an Instameet at Longwood Gardens for their Orchid Extravaganza. It was beautiful and a perfect way to spend a frigid winter morning.
  • I got to do this fun photoshoot with Maddie, who’s incredibly talented, to help feature her new intimates line.
  • We bought a freaking house and moved from Philly to Lancaster. What. Sometimes this still takes me by surprise. Technically Philly featured excerpts of the blog posts that we wrote about why.
  • I went from my full time job writing code at Urban Outfitters to part time there, and then fully freelance. It’s exciting and scary, and I’m not sure how long I’ll want to do this versus find a remote employer I love. We’ll see. There are a lot of factors to consider. I’m using COBRA for health insurance, and that will run out late next year.
  • Around August/September, I submitted talks to three different conferences’ CFPs. They were all accepted! Which means that I wrote three different talks to give in the space of a month. Not recommended, but a great learning and growing experience for me!
  • I took a handlettering class and started feeling more confident with brush pens!
  • I canned by myself, unsupervised, for the first time in the kitchen in our house.
  • I took a Log Cabin quilting workshop with the Lancaster Modern Quilt Guild! I’ve been wanting to make a quilt forever, and this was a great way to get started with some guidance. Hopefully I can finish it in 2017.
  • Some family from Oregon came to PA for a wedding. I hadn’t seen them in maybe 10 years, and it was so fun to hang out!
  • I finally coded the redesign of my blog and integrated a portfolio. Still tweaks to be made. Always tweaks to be made.
  • I photographed the intimate wedding of a couple of our dearest friends!
  • I went to Grace Bonney’s book tour stop in Philly for In The Company of Women. It was just the thing to look forward to, as it happened a couple days after the election and was such an inspiring and supportive crowd.
  • I learned how to make a bra with Maddie of Madalynne! My lace doesn’t match up at all (I need to pay more attention when cutting), but the bra itself fits and turned out to be super comfy!
  • Above all though, I learned that I can do really, really hard things that I never envisioned myself doing. Without getting into specifics, this has not been fun, and it’s a good reminder that the internet is only everyone’s highlight reel. My life looks pretty spectacular on Instagram, and for the most part, it really is. But few people are advertising the less glamorous parts. Some things aren’t for public consumption. Knowing that you can do really hard things is a hard but incredible fact to learn about yourself, for sure.

It feels like this year was full of miscellany, but I think in this case, the miscellany is life. I’m working through writing and planning some goals for 2017, some of which I’ll share here soon!


2015 in Bullet Points

best-nine-instagram-photos-2015Not every year has to be awesome. It’s inevitable that some years won’t be. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that, especially when everyone on Twitter is all “2015 was flawless!” and “Saying goodbye to a stellar year!” Frankly, I couldn’t be happier that 2015 has seen its way out, may the door hit it.

But now a blank slate lays before us, even if it is an arbitrary one. Maybe the hope and potential of a blank notebook, an unmarred landscape, is why people get so excited about NYE. I guess I can get behind that.

Even after years like this one, where the things I wanted most were both totally out of my reach and totally out of my control, it helps me to go over the highlights so I know that it wasn’t a total wash. I did some cool things, even though they are sometimes overshadowed by the stuff that didn’t happen the way I’d anticipated. And I accomplished some things I hadn’t planned to at the beginning, which always feels great. So here it is, my year in bullet points. But only the good ones.


speaking at alt summit

Events Where I Spoke, Taught, or Organized:

Conferences I Attended (not including those in which I spoke):

  • Alt Summit Winter
  • Philly ETE
  • WordCamp US

It seems that most of the events I attended this year were because I was speaking, teaching, or organizing them. I want to come up with a couple topics that I can focus on developing talks for this year to do more speaking, and I also want to attend more educational events where I can focus on being a sponge and learning a ton. I was so excited to get accepted to speak at Alt Summit this summer. It was definitely a highlight of the year and I really hope I can speak there again soon.

seattle space needle

Places I Went:

  • Seattle
  • Salt Lake City for Alt Summit x2
  • Austin for Texas Style Council — I really want to go back and get a sense for the actual city of Austin and catch up with the rad ladies I met there.
  • Carrboro x2 — Once for a visit, once for a wedding celebration
  • Camped near Ricketts Glen
  • Asbury Park Day Trip
  • Alabama for my sister-in-law’s wedding tea
  • New York for SPARK Union
  • Spent our sixth wedding anniversary weekend at the Lancaster Arts Hotel and started scoping out what it’d look like to live in Lancaster City
  • Camped in the Catskills with some of my favorite Philly people
  • Staunton, VA to see The Winter’s Tale at the Black Friar’s Playhouse

This was definitely not my most exciting travel year (there were good reasons for that), but we did a lot of little trips. We have some plans in the works already for 2016 to be a more interesting year of travel.


All About Love by bell hooks

Books I read:

I’m pretty sure there were more, but this is what I can remember off the top of my head. I want to keep better track of what I’m reading in 2016.


Iron and WineShows I Saw:

  • Kishi Bashi
  • Jose Gonzalez
  • Sufjan Stevens
  • Sam Beam and Ben Bridwell
  • Joanna Newsom
  • Over the Rhine

hammock in carrboro

Miscellaneous fun stuff:

  • Started watching The West Wing. Man, do I love Aaron Sorkin. I can’t even help it. When I caught episodes as they aired when I was in middle school, I always felt so smart and informed when I understood the banter. I was so sad about the end of The Newsroom that The West Wing became my new go-to.
  • Started feeling comfortable and awesome in red lipstick. This was kind of an unofficial aspiration of mine for a number of years. I had this rad AF instructor when I studied in Spain a million years ago who 1) I had a big girl crush on and 2) always excelled in the lip color department. I feel like I’d do her proud these days.
  • Attended a rad Galentine’s Day Party hosted by my friend, Corinne. I’m really hoping she does it again this year (Nudge, nudge, Corinne. Let me know if you want help.)
  • Wrote a mini city guide to Philadelphia for The Collaboreat
  • Landed my biggest freelance contract ever
  • Chad and I both got accepted to, and then chose to decline, the first and second Remote Year trips. I had planned to write a blog post on why we declined, but that never happened.
  • Took a sewing class from Rachel Ford at MADE Studio.

Like I mentioned earlier, the things I wanted most this year didn’t happen, and I failed at a lot of my goals. There were a lot of unfortunate and upsetting surprises that threw me way off, but I’m glad I took the time to list the good stuff that happened anyway.

This weekend, I’m planning to sit down with some fancy takeout and Susannah Conway’s Unravelling the Year Ahead 2016. Even though most of the shitty things that happened this year were way beyond my control, I want to analyze how I could have been more prepared to respond to them better. I’ll be sharing a new list of goals here soon — this year, holding them more loosely and being open to new surprises (hopefully better ones than 2015 had in store) and trying to be both flexible and hopeful for what lies ahead.


2013 in Review, Bullet Style

2013 in ReviewThese year in review posts are all over the interwebs, but my favorite format has been Pam’s bullets. She recommends that you keep a .txt file throughout the year of your accomplishments. That way, when asked about accomplishments at a job interview or review, or just in your own personal reflection, you have something to reference. In lieu of that, Chad and I literally went through our entire past year of Google Calendar while remembering 2013 and planning 2014. I’ll try to keep my own bullet list this year so next year’s reflection doesn’t take as long.

In 2013, I: 

  • began the practice of planning my year with Susannah Conway‘s Unravelling the Year Ahead workbook
  • stopped taking UArts classes because I felt I could learn more affordably and just as well on my own
  • participated in my first hackathon and surprised myself by speaking onstage at a tech event  — this felt like a really big deal for me (I also met some awesome people I still hang out with)
  • took at least four Girl Develop It classes
  • TA’ed at least three Girl Develop It classes (Responsive Design, Intro to HTML & CSS, and Intermediate CSS3 & HTML5), which were taught by Zoe, Jenn, and Cat
  • unceremoniously stopped Street Stories to give more attention to my programming/web endeavors
  • participated in an experimental Rails apprenticeship program
  • helped organize (in some capacity) both ContentCamp & BarCamp Philly
  • learned the ins & outs of both WordPress & Shopify development
  • started getting paid to do web development professionally
  • began coworking at IndyHall
  • built my first Rails app for a client project
  • traveled to New York (to see Then She Fell), Costa Rica, Connecticut, Arizona, Chicago, and Nashville
  • bought my first Alt Summit ticket while standing in line at a snack counter at the Grand Canyon (no, really)
  • attended the Philly Women in Tech Summit, the Wharton Web Conference, Alt for Everyone, STORY, Storyline, and what feels like countless tech meetups in Philly.

While 2013 certainly wasn’t as full of as many dramatic and obvious changes as 2012, I have come a long way. Sometimes it’s hard to see growth day to day, but when contextualized over an entire year, the progress I’ve made feels really significant. It’s been a year of subtle but pervasive change.