Pursuit of Happiness

Wow – time really does fly by so quickly! It’s crazy to see that I haven’t done one of the things that I love most (writing) in over a year, and there’s no better feeling than to re-discover it. :) In the time that has gone by, a lot has changed:

  • I’m engaged (!) to the most amazing man — he is the perfect guy, and together, I feel like we can conquer the world and anything life throws our way. :)
  • I’ve changed jobs — moving from being an individual contributor to becoming a team leader and mentor to help others learn.
  • I’ve moved — going from being in the city to a more calm, serene smaller town.

Sometimes, with such busy schedules and huge life changes happening in what feels like the blink of an eye, it’s easy to forget the things that truly make us really happy. These are the things that define us as separate individuals, and that differentiate us from one another. After a long, tough few weeks of introspection and reflection, I decided today to look back on my 101 in 1001 list and see if I’d really gotten so caught up in the busy bustling of every day life that I’d forgotten what truly makes me happy. And here’s the kicker: I was pleasantly surprised that I crossed off so many things on my list! Would it have been nice to cross off even more? Of course! But this just shows that, deep down, despite what hand God may give you or how your busy days might feel, these individual qualities and hobbies ultimately drive us (whether consciously or subconsciously) to make the decisions that lead to our happiness.

On that note, look for the number of blog posts to pick up significantly again. :) But in the meantime, it’s time to root on Roger Federer to see if he can get Grand Slam #17!! :D

Opportunity

It is amazing how opportunities can sometimes just fall into your lap sometimes! After finding out my current job via a craigslist posting and 10 interviews later that ended in a job offer, I have been absolutely elated about my first month on the job.

Within just 1 short month, I have been able to check out code and helped a brand-new product go live! Along the way, I have learned about marketing, sales, infrastructure, countless development tools and frameworks), and the entire hiring process! I have had the opportunity to work alongside 2 Java Users Group (JUG) speakers daily (and continue to do so), sit across from the CEO, and interact with some private-beta users as well. Moreover, many of my fellow co-workers possess MBAs from Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard, and other Ivy League universities – so I get to see how all of them view business from different perspectives and backgrounds!

Perhaps you could say I am still in the “honeymoon” period, but if this is always how it is going to be and with the countless opportunities available, how can I ever *not* be happy? :) I love life… and I truly believe that it does love me back as well! =)

Horizons

What a busy 3 weeks it has been between starting a new job and moving into the heart of a city! Since I have moved to up to the city, I have really wanted to feel “the full city experience” at least one day, and believe it or not, it has already happened!

“The full city experience” may sound kind of cliche and perhaps people find it overrated, but I believe everyone should have it at least once. I suppose the first thing would be defining what “the full city experience” is – it could mean something different for everyone. In my case, I wanted to broaden my horizons … just general knowledge of all sorts of different topics from traveling to work to just living life happily. :) So, what really ended up happening? Well, I ended up getting to know some new work friends outside of work (and finding out how cool they are!). I…

  • learned about working and living in Argentina
  • heard the ups and downs of working for NASA as a developer
  • walked through a little of downtown SF on a perfect Friday night (not too cold, not too hot) — gave me the Barcelona feel again!

… and tons of other fun tidbits!! All of this was over some drinks… and I found out that my co-worker’s test (yes, he is a software architect) for determining the amount of alcohol you have had is by asking the square root of 4096 and how close you can come to the correct answer (none of us got the answer right by the way). By the end of the night, we had all been laughing for hours… and boy was it nice not to have to commute 1.5 hours to get home! =)

I feel so blessed to have had this experience, and I feel like it has strengthened both some work and personal relationships. I look forward to many more good times among my co-workers and newfound friends and hope to broaden my horizons even more!

The New Rich

After 15 months, I have finally finished reading The 4-Hour WorkWeek by Tim Ferriss (4HWW), and let me tell you, between that and finding 101 in 1001, I truly have been re-inspired!

4HWW is a book that is exactly about that: finding a way to work only four hours per week while still generating enough income to find time to do the things that are really passionate for you. Although this book is probably more useful to business owners/CEOs, it has a lot of good tips on how to still get to that lifestyle even if you are not in that position. One of the most useful things I took out of it is how to get more organized, minimize the amount of items I own, utilize my time at work to be the most productive that I can, and therefore, have more time for other things that I am also passionate about. Although I am not a CEO (yet), I have found this to be a good and useful read.

I have officially started my way to becoming a part of the New Rich! After all, who said that being rich had to be all about money anyway? Money doesn’t buy everything (despite what VISA commercials might say :P)… happiness is in much more than that. Thank you, Tim Ferriss, for reminding us all of that! =)

Little Moments

It is amazing how little moments can completely define an entire day or even a week!

Today was the third day of my new job, which (currently) requires a 1.5 hour commute each direction. Naturally, after 2 previous exciting but long days, I needed a little something to kick-start my day. So, where else to turn but a Starbucks latte? Getting on the train, I had my latte in one hand with some desk decorations and my purse and one-shoulder bag in the other all while holding an umbrella. Somehow, I managed to get this all on the train.

About halfway through the train ride, I fell asleep but was awakened by a little bit of spilled latte. Struggling to not let all of my bags bother the others around me as well as trying to get a napkin to clean the slight spill and trying to not spill it some more, I was really frustrated. Luckily at that moment, the man across from me offered to hold half of my bags! He probably did not think much of it, but it turned what could have been a disastrous morning into a great one. :)

Since then, the rest of the day seemed to just fall into place and everything went my way. To that man, holding my bags was just a simple thing – but for me, it turned my entire day around! It’s amazing how the little moments in life can have such a big impact sometimes! =)

101 in 1001

In the midst of a a very busy daily schedule, it can sometimes be very easy to lose sight of the things that are most important to what makes each of us so unique – our passions, our goals, and our unique accomplishments. I have long been searching for a way to figure out how to finish up my short-term goals without losing sight of the long-term ones. To-do lists, gmail tasks, post-its are all great, but it is easy to let long-term goals stay on these lists for long lengths of time without getting crossed off.

About 2-3 weeks ago, one of my closest college friends started the 101 in 1001 project – and I instantly knew this was the solution that I was searching for. Here is a summary of how it works (taken straight from the originator of 101 in 1001):

The Challenge:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on your part).

Why 1001 Days?
Many people have created lists in the past – frequently simple challenges such as New Year’s resolutions or a ‘Bucket List’. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organising and timing some tasks such as overseas trips, study semesters, or outdoor activities.

Taking a page out of my friend’s book, I have made my own 101 in 1001 list. The world of Web 2.0 is perfect for this as well – blogging is the perfect way to instantly share my thoughts and adventures with family, friends, and other readers. It will be a tremendous challenge to get some of these goals accomplished, but along the way, it should be quite a fun journey. Tomorrow marks the beginning of a new chapter – stay tuned for more!

Off-season

It seems like just yesterday Roger Federer was winning the 2010 Year-End Championships over Rafael Nadal in the latest chapter of their rivalry (with much more to come). Now, both are already back on-court and Federer has already won 1 title in 2011! This just goes to show how short the tennis off-season really is and how much more incredible it makes the feats of both Federer and Nadal.

Can you see another sport in which people have to play 11-12 months of the year competitively, week-in-week-out, and still have to produce top-notch results? Just about every professional sport requires intense training all year around, including in the off-season, where teams and individuals make changes to their games. Usually, it leads to refreshing competitions the following season, and it also allows for more build-up for fans as well. So that leads to the question: When do tennis players get to fine-tune their games for the “next season”? A mere 4-6 weeks during primetime holiday season (December) is not enough, and if they end up tweaking their games in the middle of the season, the only way to test the changes is during valuable match-play (where there is lots of money and ranking points at stake). Plus, fans can barely catch their breath one season before the next one starts in full swing. For a die-hard tennis fan, it is very exciting – but it can also get slightly tiring.

So, here is my proposal for the ATP/WTA/ITF. Give players a 10-12 week off-season and overlap more tournaments in that time. Most of the Masters tournaments only have draws of 64 to 128 players, and anybody not in these top ranks doesn’t even have a chance of playing. So, why not allow smaller tournaments to be held at the same time for these other players? It also allows the top-ranked players to focus on the major tournaments (thus reducing wear and tear) and gives those not in the top echelons of tennis the chance to rise through the ranks. In the 10-12 weeks off, players have a legitimate amount of time to rest, as well as make changes to their games. Moreover, fans get some time to reflect on the past season and anticipate even more about the upcoming one.

Maybe in the far future these changes will be in effect. Until then, we’ll have to deal with our short off-season - if you can even call it that. With that said, the Australian Open is only six days away! Predictions anyone?

Risk

Sometimes, the hardest thing to do in life is take a risk. For many people, there is nothing tougher than giving up certainty of a job, house, etc. for something else that is not so set-in-stone. With this mindset, it can be easy to get into a state of complacency. This is not to be confused with being settled, in which someone is fully comfortable in their current location and continues to be satisfied and challenged in the workplace. One of the reasons that people often recommend changing jobs every few years is to not get into a state of complacency. This, in turn, can involve getting uncomfortable and taking a risk. In an economy like today’s, this could prove to be even more difficult. However, in the long run, taking a risk could be worth it – especially if it results in a much happier all-around person.

So my advice for today: Do something that you wouldn’t normally do – take yourself out of your comfort zone and take a risk. See how you feel afterwards – hopefully it’s a satisfying feeling. :)

JBoss World 2010

Well, I have attended my very first conference as a working woman (not as a student), and I have to say it was quite successful! I got to attend a variety of technical sessions and learn a lot about new development tools and standards. In addition, I was able to attend a Women’s Networking event too, and I met some really cool ladies (one of whom lives in California and works for Adobe!).

But the best part: I got a chance to be a speaker!!! ^_^ I made the slides for our presentation: “Enterprise Java Hosting in a Cloud Environment”, and I was able to explain how to basically set up a private cloud  in an enterprise environment. You can view the presentation here. Also, here is a picture of the UP employees who attended the conference. Union Pacific was the winner of one of Red Hat’s awards this year for their innovation in infrastructure (in a nutshell). Here is us with the award and wrapping up a great conference and experience in Boston!

Proud

She walked down the stairs, and as all of us gathered at the bottom, we could only look and stare in awe. She was absolutely (jaw-dropping) gorgeous. I couldn’t believe my own eyes – this is my little sister – who just got ready for her graduation party!

We couldn’t believe how quickly 17 years had passed – and this splitting image will always remain with me as one of the proudest days of my life. :) If I had to sum up yesterday in one word, it would be proud. After years and years of hard work, it all came down to the moment that she walked up and got her high school diploma.

The day could not have gone any better. We got there 1 hour early, the sun was shining (and she looked gorgeous too), we got perfect seats, and the ceremony started precisely at 9AM (which is exactly what I would expect from the principal, knowing him :) ). From there, it only got better, as we celebrated with our new graduate. Needless to say, my parents were also absolutely delighted and proud too. We then prepared for the graduation party. Oh, and as a side note, we had ZERO catering and my mother cooked over 12 curries for 70+ people within 2-3 days and still managed to look fresh and gorgeous for the party – talk about amazing tenacity! The party was full of great moments, including the traditional cake-smashing and the newly-added solar-powered lights to the lawn.

Finally, as we rounded out the day, my parents and I reflected on how smoothly the party went, how great the graduation ceremony was (which included a standing ovation for my sister), and lastly, what an amazing young woman she has grown into. Congratulations darling – we are all so proud of you and we love you so much!