2017 felt light. I danced and twirled from one thing to another. I felt carefree. It was a year of little worry, pain and challenges in comparison with the past years.
One of the best things I did early this year was read a letter (for the first time) I wrote to myself in 2013 (thank you Sara and Siobhan for the idea!!). It’s a bit too personal to share, but the letter touched on four areas – work, personal growth, health and love. It reminded me of the things that were important to me, the things that invigorate and motivate me. My letter to myself had so much zest, it did what I had intended it to do when I wrote it. It woke me up. An excerpt from the letter
“I love being with people that challenge me, question my opinions. I would die a horrible slow death if I didn’t surround myself with these type of people. I want to always maintain this. It’s inspiring, thought-provoking, and helps you grow as a person. If I ever run my own company, hire people who have this courage.”
The letter also reminded me of something so deeply ingrained in my personality (something confirmed through multiple personality tests). I live in the moment. I live for the journey, the adventure, the unknown and not the destination.
I live in the present, make the most of it, but I know and want things to be constantly changing. You make a goal at work, you meet it, and put in 200%, you reflect, and then you move on to the next.
I recently went back to a blog post I wrote in 2007. 20 freaking 07. This whole love of the unknown, working on a goal, something I had no idea what I was getting into, and moving on to the next, was screaming at me.
I did one of those #bestnine things, but when I actually sat down to write my favorite moments of 2017, social media wasn’t a reflection them… so here’s an attempt to capture some of my favorite moments in writing….
1. April 2017, Penang and KL – Visiting home (Malaysia) and having the opportunity to share it with Mia. We’re both huge foodies, the number of gastronomy related experiences we’ve had over the years of our friendship is something I’ll always treasure. Malaysia is home to the best food, food that represents the diversity and many different cultures we have: Malay, Chinese, Indian, etc. And even within those cultures, the nuances are vast.
2. July 2017, Formentera – Eniko and I organized a last minute trip to Mallorca, Spain to get some beach holiday on the books. As part of the negotiations to get her down, she made me promise that we go surprise her cousin in Formentera. Little did I know that making the trip from Mallorca to Formentera in one day basically meant 14 hours of traveling in one day… So we set off at 6am and got on every mode of transportation possible. And it was so worth it. What was worth it? The beauty of Formentera (crystal clear beaches), cycling and ditching our broken bikes on the side of the road and last but not least, the emotions and uncontrolled happiness as soon as Eni’s cousin realized who was standing in front of her.
3. July 2017, Kerry, Ireland – So Siobhan and I have this history of getting into running together and also lots of adventures. Early this year, she sends me a text asking if I’d like to go on the annual 180km Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle in Ireland. We are not cyclists and had no perspective going into this. An hour into the cycle, I’m thinking, “Oh shit, ok, I’m starting to see how this isn’t going to be easy.” 11 hours into the cycle and I see the that I’m 2km away from the finish line. I start welling up in tears, tears that represent “I don’t know how the hell I did this, but I did it, and I’m so damn happy”. I couldn’t walk straight for a few days following that…
4. August 2017, London – I LOVE going to live sporting events. Wimbledon is one event that I’ve been to about 6 times. I was also fortunate to have lived in London during the 2012 Olympics and got to see a number of events. This year, I went to watch the World Athletic Championships and got to see both Usain Bolt and Mo Farrah race. It also turned out to be Usain Bolt’s last event before retirement. The atmosphere of the stadium combined with being able to watch these super humans who put in so much hard work and dedication into a career that offers little security was highly satisfying.
5. Mid 2017, Stockholm – This year I’ve had many opportunities to visit my dear friend Sara who lives in Stockholm. With Siobhan, we are godmother to her 3-year old daughter Elsa. During one of those visits, while Elsa and I were playing on the couch, E looks up at me and goes, “I love you Ruth”. God knows if she even remembers that, but in that moment, she grabbed my heart in a way that made me well up.
6. Gothenburg – This moment.
7. Dec 2017, NH – Something I’d been working arduously on throughout 2017 was elevating the impact of the team I manage and making our team more visible on an organizational level. Early Nov, I was roped into a meeting and our agile coach team was given a responsibility – design and facilitate a 2018 strategy meeting with 50-60 people from our Product & Engineering teams.
In the month leading up to the meeting, what ensued was…
- hard work
- hard work
- hours or hard work
- major team bonding experience
- 5am PT calls
Day 1 of the actual meeting, I remember a moment at 3pm, where I thought, I have no idea how things are going to come together, ok breathe, trust the process. At 5pm, as we watched the presentations based on the deliverable template my team had put together, I remember thinking, holy crap, it’s coming together…
On Day 3, and in the following retrospective surveys, the number of accolades my team got was so damn fulfilling, and justified all the hours we had put in. I remember that as soon as the meeting ended, I ran out of the room and jumped (or collapsed?) for joy.
That was an amazing way to end 2017.