2018 was like every other year until I sat down and started writing and found how great it really was, hence I made it an end of year tradition to reflect on my year and write down things I am grateful for. So here it goes, my 2019.
If you don't have time to read a 2000 word blog I totally understand, why not just go through my monthly reflections on twitter
- Books - Talking to strangers
- Talks - 1
- Fitness - 16/30
- Word of the month - revise https://t.co/WKFaADc7U8
— Bhavani Ravi (@geeky_bhavani) December 15, 2019
Okay, you didn't click the link, now that you wanted to hear the whole story here it goes.
Seriously, why would you have to read someone's life reflections over a year or why does someone has to show off what they have accomplished over a year?
The blog is not just a feel-good article. Every year I set a bunch of broad goals and work towards it. I achieve most of them, something that was not in the plan happens and makes my life all the more exciting. I learn a lot along the way. Little quirks, a lot of mistakes, pressure, pain, pleasure, accomplishment and what not. If you are like me and want to improve your life, you can use this article for a few things
- If I can you can too. You can draw inspiration for things you could do.
- Everyone would need a little nudge. You can reach out to ask for help on specific aspects that you want in your life.
- Reflections help you get better. You would get an idea on how to reflect on your year
Like everybody else, I was looking forward to kick-starting an amazing year.I was literally counting down the final hours on the new year's eve sitting with my friends at Orangescape. But, fate had things planned for me. One after the other, things started going downhill, unable to handle any of those I shut off my mobile and resorted to a place where no one can find me.
I was there just people watching, which later became the hobby of the year. Soon I realized I was there longer than I wanted to be and it was time to face the world again. As my mind cleared up, I was no longer sad. Actually, I was just grateful that I have a safe place that I can go to when things go downhill.
I promised myself that I would work on myself and get over things that hurt me. One at a time. With that, I came back home, back to Counting down the few remaining hours.
It was around 11 PM when someone rang my bell, turns out it was my best friend who was with me through the whole drama of the evening. It was indeed the greatest gesture of love. The blessing and love of this angel had made my 2019 indeed an amazing year which we will see in rest of the blog.
P:S The rest of the blog will only contain information from my professional life.
As I said, though 2018 was all great it ended pretty badly. For me to fix things one at a time I had to incorporate good habits. These habits kept me sane through the bad times and helped me see things clearly and handle it well.
I started journaling every day, writing down my thoughts, emotions, ideas, word of the day, happiness score and a bunch of other metrics. I had a template for the first few months until the habit progressed to become a flowing story.
- By writing down your thoughts, you see them clearly
- Over the period you can see a pattern
- If the pattern is not something you like, you can make smaller improvements to change it
After 2 years of people making judgments and giving me dietary advice about my weight, my ophthalmologist gave a green signal to start the workouts again after my LASIK(a story for another time maybe). So I got myself an exercise mat resented back to my favorite Youtube instructor Rebecca Lousie.
Here are a few things I found out
- The best diet that's there is your mom's food
- You don't have to dump rice or go on a keto for major weight loss
- Cardio to shrink down
- Weights to power up
- Occasional pizza and cheese fries are okay. Just workout a bit more the next day.
If you are looking to incorporate a fitness regimen into your life I have curated youtube video with instructions
A sound body needs a sound mind. Later this year my mentor introduced me to a
22-day meditation guide book that got me on to meditation. With an extremely overactive mind, it is really hard for me to sit down doing nothing, let alone meditation. But as always, anything is possible if you could push yourself a little harder. Sooner I could sit for 30-45 minutes straight
- It helps me wind down from my hyperactive brain
- Regulates breathing hence, more energy
- Gives a 3rd person view of your world.
Pomodoro was always my go-to productivity technique. The only change I introduced was instead of 20 min shots, I did 45 min shots with 15 min breaks and it turned out to be amazing.
- You could get a lot done
- You would go into this high focus mode so the 45 minutes can go up to 2 hours
- That feeling of feeling accomplished is priceless
The first item on this year's list was to build my portfolio. The website you are reading this blog on. Can you imagine this piece of work didn't exist a year back? Trust me it was not easy. I estimated to finish this in a month. But it took me 6 months along with my full-time job to make it live. But that was not the end, it went through the whole bunch of tweaks before I could get it to perfection.
It started as small as learning react, a lot of CSS then Gatsby(a react framework to build static sites), SEO and more. The whole journey is here as a twitter thread.
I have talked about this enough, around Feb I found few missing pieces in a pandas function and proposed to make those changes and one of them got merged into pandas codebases, which gave rise to a bunch of blog posts and talks.
I have a high OCD for production-level code, so when I saw
namingconventions.org I jumped in to make my little python contribution
The power of 1% improvement
I thought pandas was the first time I ever contributed to open source. As I went through my GitHub repo recently I found there are a bunch of forked repos that I remember tweaking around with. For eg.
Django-alerts, flask-OAuth, Django-channels, rasaNLU Looks like I always went beyond my code to read through things.
These are initial pieces of momentum that make the final results so fruitful.
Things with uncertainty scare the hell out of me. Hence an unconference is so out of my comfort zone hence. Womentechmakers turned out to be a safe space where I can take advantage of making such mistakes. Hence this Nov we had an end of year special edition. We had an amazing set of women who came in with a diverse set of conversations giving us enough to plan for the rest of the year.
— womentechmakers Chennai (@wtmchennai) November 23, 2019
I know I might sound like a hypocrite right now. I preach a lot about work-life balance. Though I spend a lot of time with friends, family, movies, and art. Given my aspirations, I work 12 hour days.
I tend to push myself a bit too far and beat myself up when I don't live up to it making me burnout. I came to my senses only when my whole world started screaming "It's so not worth it".
I started to slow down, it's hard but I am getting there. Now I know one thing for sure pushing yourself over the limits is so not worth it. All you end up with will be 3 weeks of unproductive days and bad health.
Most of the times, side effects of overworking nullifies the rewards.
— Bhavani Ravi (@geeky_bhavani) January 6, 2019
As most of you know I am a freak of 100-day challenge. I took 2 challenges this year one for writing and another for tech. During the 100 days, I learned all about different backend systems and how they work in harmony with each other
Here are the few systems I learned and its associated blogs
Womentechmakers, was my dream community, though we re-started the community only in 2018, we managed to grow the community with 300 active participants. I have learned so much by running these communities that I started teaching how to run communities.
GDG Chennai is my extended family of womentechmakers. The male populated volunteers' group is the ones who stand as frontrunners every time we have a womentechmakers event. It's so rare to find such a close-knit cult and here we are.
Though Build2learn as a community is in snooze mode, it is still helping a bunch of college students via programming clubs. The core team is still intact and is the most important part of my life.
I learn from books as much as I learn from people. I pushed my boundaries to consume books in different formats kindle, audible, youtube summaries and what not. It came really handy to finish my GoodReads goal. Of all the books Atomic habits is my favorite of all.
I think it is by far the best programming book I have ever read. The book talks about how motivation alone is not enough and how to make smaller improvements to work towards your goal. The book also stresses on why should you start with these 1% improvements
When I didn't have a mentor, I only had books. Now I just have a mentor who suggests me a lot of great books
There was a time when I shared my writing style with a bunch of content writers.
— Bhavani Ravi (@geeky_bhavani) January 24, 2019
I have been trying to give talks internationally for almost 2 years now, Finally, when codeland conf accepted my CFP I was thrilled to make it happen. Apparently US visa is not in favor of so many people hence, the dream that was so close vanished in the air. I was featured on Codeland conf's website with some of the people I look up to. That in itself is the most heartwarming thing
None of this stopped me from applying for other conferences, sadly none of them came through. But local meetups were always warm and I shared a whole bunch of things with these people over 11 talks
The list of talks I gave this year -
Thank you, everyone, for letting me share a piece of my knowledge with the community.
They are also one of the most supportive communities in Chennai. So if you ever want to give a talk reach out to them.
— Bhavani Ravi (@geeky_bhavani) December 29, 2019
Here is how I prepare for most of my talks
My 5 stages of giving a talk
- Talk on x. Easy
- Feels so responsibile to deliver right content to my audience
- Puts together a ppt and feels proud
- Why does my speech not in sync with slides.
- Delivers, gets good feedback, celebrate.#SelfDoubt drains so much energy. https://t.co/ZmNj42oJZU
— Bhavani Ravi (@geeky_bhavani) June 21, 2019
My word of the year. Excel.
— Bhavani Ravi (@geeky_bhavani) January 2, 2019
The goal of the year was to excel in every way possible not sure if I did that exactly but I indeed had an excellent year. I would be more than happy to hear about your year. Why don't you reach out to me on twitter and let's see if we can motivate each other through 2020?