January 2018: Recap

So much has already gone on in 2018, I feel like I need to write it all down so I don’t forget.

  • Presented my team strategy at work to the CEO and got approval
  • Attended and presented at work Sales Kick-Off event
  • Team won 2nd place in the Dragon’s Den contest at said event
  • Took on a new mentoring project which has been going really well
  • Started a new courseware development project
  • Completed several Daily UI challenges
  • Got a talk accepted to a conference in the Netherlands
  • Transitioning into new role as Chair of the Waterloo, Wellington and Area chapter of the Institute for Performance and Learning
  • Started designing and developing the first of 4 key facilitated sessions that will become a key piece of my company’s new training program
  • Did a singing video for fun because someone asked and it was well received
  • Donated to the Humane Society
  • Joined YW Kitchener-Waterloo
  • Walked over 163k steps (so far, looking to increase this number in February!

And it’s not even fully over yet.

2017 Year in Review

2017 was a good year for me personally and professionally, and as always, I learned a lot! Here are some stats and highlights from my year for reflection and preparation as I look into 2018.

If I had to sum up 2017, I would say it was a big-deal year. It felt like the importance of everything I’ve been doing has been increasing, and I’ve been jumping into more and more interesting and complex challenges.


I enjoyed several opportunities to travel this year, taking three big trips! I had a quick trip to Omaha in May, then I travelled to Ottawa with my whole family in July, and then in August, got to go to Belgium and Germany. I learn so much when I travel, and it was great to get to visit these three very different locations. Aside from that, I did a quick trip into Toronto for an industry conference (more on that below).

I love Belgium, particularly Brussels. I am so fascinated by government and policy, and the EU Parliament has both in abundance. Köln had amazing history to see in and around the Dom. We also flew in and out of London, and I was reminded again how much I love that city. All in all, another great trip to Europe (our 6th!)

Below:  Me with the Palace in Brussels (which I loved!), my son with the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, and me with my best friend Summer and her daughter and her friend.

Work and Learning:

I did a lot of work with seven new-to-me or updated tools and platforms. These included:

I’d used some of these prior to 2017 but not to the degree I did this year. I got updated photos and did updates tomy website. I went to the Institute for Performance and Learning Conference (which I helped to program) and helped program 4 professional development events locally as well.

I completed a Marketing course on LinkedIn Learning (and have touched on a few more!) I checked out a few different MOOCs, and joined the xAPI cohort (though I haven’t started on a project yet). I started doing the DailyUI challenges, and haven’t looked back (I’m about a third of the way through, now, check out my posts here or on Twitter!).

I did high-level design and initial development for a two large learning programs with big audiences, some of which will be realized, some of which might not. I designed and developed three new eLearning courses, and updated many others. I took a new job with a fantastic co-worker and am jumping into bigger and better things there. I’m moving back into the world of customer experience and professional services, and it’s great to be getting back into doing what I love- helping people solve problems and do meaningful work using technology.

I re-certified as a CPLP and have sent in my recertification for my CTDP as well. It has been three years holding those credentials and the learning never stops! I’ll never have a problem hitting my numbers for PD hours

I’ve learned a ton about design, tech, and communication this year, which is fantastic.

Giving Back:

I made monetary donations to 12 different charities this year, along with ongoing volunteer work, fundraising, and a few blood donations (when I pass the hemoglobin screen). Giving back has become a bigger and bigger part of my life, continuing from the plans I started in 2016. While I may not be able to give as freely of my time as I once was able to, my monetary donations have increased to take up the slack.

Below: Economical Insurance Heart and Stroke Big Bike Team, I’m in the first row, second from the left!

Health and Wellness

I lost about 25 pounds this year, and really settled into my 3-times-a-week gym schedule. I’ve managed to make activity and health monitoring an easy part of my routine thanks to my Fitbit and my Aria scale. I got better at eating breakfast every day which seems to make a difference. My resting heart rate has been greatly improved over 2016 and I look forward to keeping things going in the right direction on all these fronts. Check out my weight graph below:

2017’s Thumbs Ups:

  1. This has been the year of fantastic coffee mugs. I had a great mug at work that made every day easier.
  2. I finally stopped being so lazy about my hair and now book regular hair appointments like a grownup. I found a cut that works and am sticking with it!
  3. I stopped answering the phone with “hello?” which has saved so much time in my life.

2017’s Thumbs Downs:

  1. I definitely did less reading books and more Facebooking than I would have liked.
  2. Still working on becoming more relaxed and even-keeled in general. Trying to balance excitement that keeps me engaged vs. excitement that makes me anxious is an ongoing effort.

More on 2018 goals in my next post.

Daily UI Design Challenges: Challenge 023

Challenge 023 was Onboarding.

Daily UI Design Challenges: Challenge 020

Challenge 020 was a location tracker.

Daily UI Design Challenges: Challenge 019

Challenge 019 was a Leaderboard.

Daily UI Design Challenges: Challenge 005

Today’s chaallenge was “App Icon“.

The hint was:

Design an app icon. What best represents the brand or product? Or is it incredibly unique? Does it look great at a distance and does it stand out when put on your home screen alongside other apps?  

I found this incredibly hard. The limited space and aspect ratio, and trying to think of something and make something that would communicate the purpose and still stand out on the home screen. I definitely didn’t succeed but it was a learning experience for sure.

Daily UI Design Challenges: Challenge 004

Today’s challenge was “Calculator“.

The hint was:

Hint: Design a calculator. Standard, scientific, or specialty calculator for something such as a mortgage? Is it for a phone, a tablet, a web app?

I started with a basic, standard, JavaScript calculator, and styled it to look modern with dark blues.

DailyUI Design Challenges: Challenge 003

Today’s challenge was: Landing Page (above the fold).

The hint was:

Hint: What’s the main focus? Is it for a book, an album, a mobile app, a product? Consider important landing page elements (call-to-actions, clarity, etc.)

I thought I’d try something new so I signed up for a trial of Lander and built my design there. Here’s how it turned out:

If you want to see more, keep watching here, on Twitter, or on LinkedIn!

DailyUI Design Challenges: Challenge 001

Prompted by Mel Milloway, I decided to sign up for the 100 day Daily UI challenge. I got my first emails today and have started off!

Each challenge is decidedly open-ended. It’s interesting to see how different people interpret!  Challenge #001 was simply: “Sign Up“. An additional hint was provided:

Hint: Design a sign up page, modal, form, app screen, etc. (It’s up to you!) Don’t forget to share on Dribbble and/or Twitter when you’re done.

So I decided to just jump in and go!  I made this design using MockPlus. My interpretation is that people mostly hate signing up for more things, so I’ve provided a number of ways of authenticating rather than signing up directly. This form would also serve as a sign in form. Below is the tweet where I shared my mockup!


Mentoring is an extremely valuable way to speed up learning. Getting the opportunity to get feedback and glean knowledge from more experienced people who have been through what you’re going through is an incredible opportunity.

I think that sometimes we over-formalize it, though. I’ve experienced many of what I call “mentoring moments”– short, casual interactions where someone helped me learn something new or gain perspective.  Likewise, I’ve been on the mentor side of these experiences as well, sharing knowledge and perspective with others who could immediately benefit.

I don’t think we pay enough attention to these great opportunities. I remember about 15 years ago, when I first learned about all the different selection tools in Photoshop.  I wanted to make someone a new userpic for their LiveJournal (shut up, it was 2002) and I was painstakingly erasing a background, zoomed in, pixel by pixel. A designer I knew jumped in and said “Oh geeeez, you can do that so much faster, let me help you.” and he showed me how to easily select and delete just what I wanted.

Definitely a mentoring moment!  Coming away from that, I knew to always check for an easier way if I found myself hip-deep in something detailed and tedious in Photoshop. And I watch for those opportunities now, much more closely.

I’ve also participated in formalized mentoring programs. While I get huge benefits from these (shoutout to my mentor Heather from 4 years ago!) I think they’re just part of how people can really strap their advancement to a jetpack.

Over the next couple weeks, keep an eye out for these mentoring moments. Can you show someone how to set the speed on the treadmill faster? Did someone help you get your WebEx session set up properly on the first try?  All these go into making you and others smarter, more capable, and more awesome.