2021 - climbing higher and higher

2021, another year over yet I have to say it was a very good year. Although there were still crazy lockdowns and travel restrictions I still managed to do a lot and climb even higher in my career.

Achievements:

So many achievements, from numerous conference talks to podcast interviews, to improving my coding skills, being renewed for MVP, changing jobs and learning a new library, reaching more than 10k followers of Twitter and 3.5k subscribers on YouTube. This year has been amazing in so many ways.

Where it all began:

I started January in Ireland in one lockdown but still I managed to get some epic runs in.

me running in wicklow mountains

Podcast on Speaking to an online audience was released as well as my free course on Learning Nuxt for the JamStack explorers site.

Unfortunately when I arrived back to Mallorca I ended up getting Covid and spent 2 weeks in bed resting and making sure I was ok before I went back to work and sport. GitHub sent me the most amazing flowers which is just so lovely to receive. Recovery took a bit longer than I would have hoped as my voice just didn't seem to want to come back so recording and podcast interviews etc just had to be cancelled.

Although ill I still appeared on Eddie Jaoude's series of GitHub Stars.

February:

February is normally my ski month but there was no skiing this time. There was no Vue Amsterdam in person, only remote where I spoke on Nuxt performances.

I got interviewed by OS Weeekends on Nuxt and my background to OpenSource.

I also got to appear on a Podcast with Brian Douglas on Redefining JAMstack.

I was headhunted and ended up having many hours of interviews as I tried to convince Bit that I didn't want or need a new job but after many hours of talks I finally decided to take a risk and leave my job at Nuxt, which was like my dream job, and go work for a company that I didn't know, with people I didn't know and on a product I didn't know. It also meant a new framework and therefore a massive challenge. Was I ready? Not one bit.

I created a series of YouTube videos called 'Devs in the Forest' where I ran for hours in the forest recording advice for myself and for others.

Me running in the Forest

I got to take part in the Vue Contributors days which was great fun and so good to hang out with all my Vue friends online.

March:

Leaving Nuxt was hard and I cried when I told Alex Chopin that I was leaving but the fact that Nuxt is open source means I still get to be part of the ambassador program and still get to do Nuxt stuff and be involved with the team.

I started my new Job at Bit and really was thrown in the deep end here. And so my journey to learning React began. It was hard. My brain was trying to consume so much from the new product to React and TypeScript. I had no idea if something was cause of React, cause of TypeScript or was just specific to Bit.

I was interviewed by Tim Benniks on the DevRel Roundtable(https://youtu.be/lSxU_q-8Rrc) alongside Lucie Haberer. I then appeared on the women in tech panel with Maya Shavin and Mandy Kerr.

I did a live stream trying to learn React from the React docs and myself and a friend, Tim Benniks failed so badly and had to be rescued. It was a fun stream. From that stream Rachael Nabors from the React team reached out to me and I became a beta tester for the new React docs.

I also did a podcast Interview with Lyndsay and Steve from Views on Vue on my move from Vue to React as well as another podcast interview with Tracey Lee on Managing Component Architecturehttps://modernweb.podbean.com/e/s08e07-modern-web-podcast-managing-component-architecture-with-debbie-obrien/

CityJs Conf was in march and was lots of fun especially for a virtual conference and I got to give my first talk on Bit, Building components in Harmony. Also the MVP Summit, again virtual.

And I also spoke at the meetup series of Ask the Expert on Going Static in a Dynamic World with Hasura and Nuxt.js.

And I received a fantastic gift from GitHub for my contributions to the community in 2020. GitHub 2020 Skyline award

April

Easter holidays were in April and I just worked the whole holidays cause you know, lockdown and travel restrictions so what was the point in doing anything else. Just as well I love my job.

I became a mentor for the Google Program of Road to GDE and I successfully mentored Julia for 3 months who then went on to be a Google Developer Expert.

GDE Mentor gift

Vue Conf US was virtual and I gave a Nuxt workshop online which was a crazy experience. Great cause we had so much fun with people from all over the world in a zoom room and I managed to make it extremely hands on and fun for a virtual workshop but I was pretty much very zoomed out by the end of the day.

I also spoke at the CodeMotion conference, again online and this time in Spanish. I also got to speak at the online Storyblok conf.

I got interviewed by Marc Backes on What is a Developer Advocate

I received my GitHub Stars award which was amazing and made me feel like I had one the oscars. So proud to be part of this program.

GitHub Stars award

May

In May I spoke at the online CodeMotion conference, English edition. I continued to work on Bit, learn more about themeing components in React and started creating demos and videos.

I was interviewed by Santosh on Bit - A better way to build with modern components.

I then got invited to be part of the React Contributors day where I got to digitally meet some of my React heros.

zoom call for react contributors day

I started with a new cycling club with the intentions to improve my cycling and perhaps make new friends and just mingle with people outside of my digital and virtual life.

I also got to be interviewed by Margo McCabe for a podcast on Developer Advocacy, Navigating Tech, & Frontend Dev.

June

I got to go to a hotel for the weekend in June which was kinda nice as it had been a while since I had been away. It was just in the north of Mallorca and was for a cycling race. Yes I got to compete in my first ever cycling competition. It was so much fun. I did so badly, I was eliminated for being so slow but I kept going even though they opened the road and I had to watch out for traffic. I managed to overtake some of the girls and made it to the finish line and ended up being back in the race. I think I came 5th last but I was so proud I had managed to finish it.

me finishing the cycling race

I was invited to appear on the women of React event which was super cool and very scary as I was so new to React. I then got invited to be a member of the React 18 working group which was very incredible indeed. We got to have meetings with the React team as well as a discord chat open for us to ask questions to the team. I spent a lot of time reading through the many GitHub discussions on React 18.

July

July was the month where my cycling improved so much and I even managed to go on a 3 day event cycling with a small bag on my back with the bare minimum needed to stay the night and continue cycling the next day. After a 7 and a half hour day of cycling in 40 degree heat I was absolutely wrecked but wow, 157km, what an achievement. And then we had 2 more days of cycling to be done.

map showing cycling route of 157km

I got to be part of the Hasura Con Topic table for GraphQL with the founder of Hasura and Natalie from the Vue Core team. I also got my MVP award renewed for another year for all my contributions to the community in 2020.

I was back with Eddie Jaoude being interviewed on GitHub Stars Stories - are you the next GitHub Star? which was so much fun and hopefully will help others who want to be the next GitHub Star.

I got interviewed for FSJam podcast on Bit and Nuxt as well as on Developer Advocacy from Nuxt to React with the cast of Enjoy the View.

I also stated to compete in Padel tournaments which was so much fun even though I wasn't very good at it.

August

August was very much a month for sport from cycling to Padel and running as well as lots of work building my ecommerce demo project in Bit and further enhancing my React skills.

I also had my first visitor in person who came to stay with me in. The wonderful Heather Downing from the US where we got to hang out lots and just talk about tech stuff.

But I also received my Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award for second year running.

MPV award

September

In September I got to speak at the Nuxt Nation conference on Nuxtifying your Images.

The most incredible swag arrived from GitHub to prepare us for the Nova conference in October. A conferences specifically for GitHub stars and staff. Love being a GitHub Star.

GitHub Star swag

My speaker friend Hannes from Belgium came to visit and again so nice to see people in real life.

And the podcast interview in Spanish Tu Código me suena with Quique Fdez Guerra was released.

I had to travel to Ireland to get my second vaccine so that I could fly to Canada in November. Spain wouldn't allow me to have 2 vaccines as I had had covid but Canada required 2 so Ireland to the rescue. It also meant I got to see family so I was not complaining at all.

October

In October I got to speak virtually at the JetBrains conf on Scaling Team Delivery using Standardisation as well as React Advanced conf, my first time giving a talk at a React event on Taking Component Driven One Step Further.

I also got to not just attend but speak at the GitHub Nova conference where I spoke on Building a community with GitHub Discussions. I was terrified to speak in front of so many stars but I had great encouragement from Anisha of the GitHub Stars team who helped me overcome my imposter syndrome and just go for it. And I am so glad I did. I also got to virtually meet a real Astronaut and experience my first virtual DJ session which was so much fun. And the swag we received for the Nova conference was just incredible. Love being a GitHub Star.

zoom call with an astronaut

I became a mentor for the Google Women Developer academy and mentored the amazing Liangda Wang who really has an incredible career ahead of herself. I also got to have 1-1 calls with vaious amazing women from around the world and help them overcome imposter syndrome and perhaps become speakers but mainly just believe in themselves more and let them know that we all believe we are not good enough and not ready. Sometimes I really need to listen to my own advice.

Women TechMakers thank you note

Podcast interview on Frontend Heros with Ant-man and the Wasp, Scott Francis and Evan Payne on Bit.

Real life conferences are back. Oh yea. I got to fly to Nantes in France for my first in person conference with a massive room with lots of people to give a talk on Component Driven Repo for Component Driven World. All with masks on but I could see their eyes and hear their claps and they asked questions in person and it was so nice to be back on the stage.

on stage at Dev Fest Nantes conf

I finally took a few days off work and actually went on holidays. I went to Ireland with my husband for my dads birthday but also hired a car and travelled to parts of my country I had never been to, co Kerry. It was so remote, so safe and just so beautiful and quite nice to actually have some time away from the computer.

And when I got home I was welcomed with a lovely gift from GitHub for the work I do for the community. Now this is just amazing and so nice to receive things like this.

github stars gift

November

The US was still not fully open so I wasn't able to travel to Connect Tech conf in Atlanta which was an in person event. I spoke at the React India conference which was virtual and pre-recorded but with Q&A.

I was interviewed Composing Modern Applications with Bit with Alex Patterson, Brittney Postman as well as my journey from From Vue to React with James Q Quick.

I had a film crew follow me around while cycling the mountains of Mallorca so as to create a promotional video for the Vue Toronto Conf. This was such an amazing experience.

camera man and me while cycling

I did however travel to Lithuania for the Build Stuff Conf which was a hybrid conference with some speakers in person and some remote. Masks and limited attendees made it a smaller conference but to get to hang out with my amazing speaker friends after such a long time was just amazing. My talk Component Driven Repo for a Component Driven World was about architecture in the Frontend world.

speaking on stage at build stuff conf

I then flew to Toronto to MC the Vue Conf Toronto with Henri Helvetica. The conference was online but we were in person in the studio and it was a very long and tiring day but so much fun with some speakers being live online meaning we could talk to them and ask them questions which made it more real. And I have to say Jilson and the organizers looked after me so much and I enjoyed many meals out including one at the CN revolving Tower restaurant which was a cool experience. I also gave an online Nuxt workshop while in Toronto which again was a lot of fun.

vue conf toronto studio

I was asked to speak at the React Conf and had the pleasure of not only working with Rachael Nabors and Ricky Hanlon from the React team but I also got to virtually meet Dan Abramov on a feedback call for my talk where we discussed how I could change it to make it an even better talk. This did mean that while I was travelling I was also working on my talk for the React conf and constantly getting feedback from the team which was very cool and just a great experience.

I then recorded my talk, Things I learnt from the New React Docs between travelling from one Conference to another. This was by far my best experience for virtual conferences as the React team had sent out a suitcase of recording material and they had a professional team call me and help setup everything and then record the talk which we recorded about 4 times cause you know you always just want it to be better.

speaking virtually at react conf

I then flew to Alicante to catch up with Alex Jover from Vue Dose before setting off to Oslo.

December

I flew to Oslo and got to speak at my first NDC conference which was out of this world. 1,200 attendees spread over 7 rooms including an overflow room where you can watch all talks at once with headphones on and just switch to hear the one you want. I gave my talk on a floating stage separated by noise reducing curtains in a venue that holds almost 10,000 people. It was very cool indeed. The conference was amazing, so well organized with free food all day long. But after I gave my talk new restrictions kicked in from the Norwegian government and the final day of the conference was limited to 100 people only. Ah well.

me at ndc conf

A few speaker friends had arranged a cabin in the mountains and for the weekend we headed to this amazing cabin that sleeps 15 people with its own sauna and so much snow. We had so much fun just chatting and hanging out and even got to go skiing together. It was a lovely finish to an amazing few weeks of traveling and events.

skiing with speaker friends

The React conf was live and it was so nice to see my talk at the conf and answer the questions in the chat but most of all just receive the amazing feedback that I got. The fact that a few months ago I had just started learning React and now I was speaking at the React Conference and getting amazing feedback from Dan Abramov was just an amazing achievement for me.

I finished my ecommerce demo complete with shopping cart that worked saving products in state and using context. My React skills had improved so much and I felt so much more comfortable writing React code although breaking the cart down to decoupled and reusable components was still a lot for me to take in and process. But with help I managed to achieve it and I was proud of ending the year with an amazing demo coded by me.

When I say finished, it is not finished of course and so much more to do but finished in that I got done what I wanted to get done and am so proud of that. Here it is deployed on Netlify.

It's a wrap

And another year over already. This year went by so fast. It had so many challenges from travel restrictions and lockdowns to changing jobs and frameworks. I doubted so much about changing jobs, was I ready? would I be able to learn and be good at React and would I be welcomed in the React community? I am so glad I overcame my own fear and just took that step into the unknown. By doing this I pushed my own boundaries and improved my coding skills by so much.

I spoke at lots of conferences and I don't know how but I managed to just about escape from burn out but believe me I was close to it especially just before traveling to in person conferences. I was trying to build stuff, write talks and travel in a world that was full of so many uncertainties. I do think that going forward I need to say no to conferences and not yes to everything and make sure mental health comes first cause it is so easy to say yes, take on too many things and then have the pressure of having to deliver. You always do it cause it's good for your career and cause you don't want to let people down but I mentored some amazing women this year and I know there are other people out there that might love to get the chance to speak at a conference so perhaps it is time to not say no but say I can't but I know someone who can. Perhaps even mentor and help them along the way. Who knows. We shall see. I am still learning to say no so wish me luck on that one.

I got to be interviewed this year for so many podcasts and I had so much fun chatting with so many people about various things. I managed to get past 10k followers on Twitter which for me is just cool cause I live in one of the smallest islands in the world so making it in the big time is like a big deal for me.

Last year I said I wanted to do more sport and I certainly did that. I took more time for myself and spent a lot of time outdoors and in the mountains which not only improved my fitness but also my mental health and doing sport with other people, real people, no offence to my virtual friends but sometimes real people are needed.

I am so glad I got to travel again, meet my speaker friends again, be on a stage again and just have fun with people. I think I needed that.

And as I went for my last run of the year in shorts and t-shirt because it was so hot I thought to myself how this year had been a pretty good year even though there were obstacles to overcome and different paths to choose from and to be honest I think it's better that way. I love being challenged, it means I am pushing myself, growing and becoming better at what I do, be that in tech, in sport or in anything else.

me running in Ireland

Next year

What on earth is going to happen next year? Who knows. But I have learnt something very valuable. Life is very short so you really do have to take every opportunity as it arises.

Or in the words of the late Abel Wang (still can't believe he is gone, such an amazing guy taken too soon),

Don't accept the defaults.

We live our lives a lot of time just accepting the defaults and then things don't happen, things don't change. Defaults are boring. Let's stop being boring. Let's live on the edge. Let's do things cause tomorrow might not come.

When I have to make a decision I always think what if next year was my last year, what have I not done that I want to do and what can I do next year to make that happen. Life is short. We need to live it, we need to improve in our careers, we need to be happy and have fun and do sport. We need to find the right balance. I think I did a pretty good job of it this year so I hope next year I can do the same.

Avoiding burnout will probably be my biggest challenge for next year.

And of course I want to improve so much. I want to improve my coding skills so much more and be known as an amazing engineer. I do want to travel more of course and I hope the world allows us to safely do that. I want to meet all the people from all the amazing programs I am part of but above all I want to help more people. I see so many people unhappy in life and I just know that they can do better. I know that tech is not for everyone but I think a lot of people can have a much better life if they give it a go.

And yet again I want to overcome imposter syndrome. I am getting stronger and being surrounded by such amazing people in tech really helps me. I will get better at this and one day I will just say I am here and I am ready but until then I will be so scared and and have to fight with myself to make myself believe I can do it and I will think I am going to fail and will be so afraid of that. I need to not be afraid of that and I need to not be so hard on myself.

We are all different, we all learn at different paces and we are all good at different things and you know what, it's actually good to be different.

I will admit I am pretty happy with my life right now and that puts me in a very lucky place but for those that know me that know my story, will know that this hasn't always been the case and I know what it is like to be miserable, poor and see no future. I amaze myself every day when I look at how far I have come and I just know that so many other people can also make it just like I did. So here is to 2022. Whatever it has in store for us, don't accept the defaults and go take risks and just live, live like there is no tomorrow, grow in your career and have fun at the same time. oh and sport, you gotta do sport.

Here's to 2022. Happy New year everyone.

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