My Twenty-fifteen

Only a few more hours are left until 2015 is coming to a close. This year went by both extremely slowly and super fast. It has been a no-good year for me, and I’m not really in a good position to write a decent retrospective right now. But I’ve done these posts before and didn’t want to give up the tradition. Also, maybe the writing will help.


Came back from a lovely week in Norway and went back to work leading a software dev team for an NGO.


Spent most of my non-work-time preparing my upcoming conference talk.

Had lots of fun with my team and Google Hangouts:

Had a quick thought and posted what turned out to be my top Tweet forever (that’s so sad):


Went to Salzburg, Austria, and had the great honour of keynoting the wonderful .concat().

Went on a work trip to Sierra Leone (all photos are here):


Got to see jumping baby goats in the zoo:

Jumping Baby Goat ??

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As planned, I wrapped up and handed over my work with the NGO.


Traveled to Edinburgh. Went to my first Cèilidh (still struggling with the pronunciation) and had a blast dancing. Keynoted ScotlandJS:

Had a wonderful time in Edinburgh (all photos are here):


Started a new job and brought cookies on my first day:

Making cookies for my new coworkers

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Wrote a super long blog post and never published it.




Third month with severe dental issues and pain killers. In the session during which the tooth was supposed to be fixed, it broke. Bye tooth.


After a veeeeeeeery long pause, I had my first piano lessons. Getting back to making music is very exciting and rewarding, and my teacher is fantastic. Unfortunately, I’ll have to stop taking lessons after only a few months. I hope to take this on again at some point in 2016.


A “Talk about Nothing” was shortlisted for a net award 2015 and didn’t win.

Spent my birthday sick in bed.


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Got flowers.


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I had ~really~ looked forward to traveling to the US for the very first time in my life, and to speaking at &yetConf. Unfortunately, I had to cancel everything last-minute because I wasn’t recovering fast enough to be able to travel.


Got to go to Napoli for a few days (all photos are here), ate lots of pizza and enjoyed the sun:

Streets of Napoli


After sleeping on only mattresses for the past ~7 years, I finally got a bed. This was exciting.

Traveled to Brighton:

talking 'bout planes

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Spent a wonderful weekend wandering around the town, dried my shoes in the hotel with my hair dryer, and keynoted FullFrontal 2015:


Realised that, for the first time in my adult life, I’ve now been living in the same apartment for five years.

Baked cookies:

It's so on

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Wrapped up my work as CEO and co-founder of The Neighbourhoodie.

Had a wonderful time working briefly with a few people on a ~really~ nice project. Did a photo shooting with them which was really fun. This short project was the best thing that could have happened to me by end of this year.

Baked Emoji cookies:

Spent the holidays at home.


  • I traveled around 19,524 km: to Hamburg, Salzburg, Freetown, Edinburgh, Napoli, Brighton.
  • I keynoted three conferences.
  • I wrote and published 31 blog posts: 4 on Kleinerdrei, 16 on the CouchDB Blog, 6 on the Hoodie Blog and 5 on this blog.
  • I made 54 contributions on GitHub this year (oh, well).
  • I posted 1,794 Tweets.
  • I took more than 4,300 photos, including some event photography, and a few commercial photo shootings.

Some of TV Shows I watched this year (some of which I can recommend):

  • How to get away with Murder
  • Episodes
  • Empire
  • Gilmore Girls (I did two full re-watches this year, mainly because this show has proven to be a good distraction for me.)
  • Master of None
  • Scott & Bailey
  • The Good Wife
  • Suits
  • Nurse Jackey
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • Chef’s Table
  • Grace and Frankie
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • The Mindy Project
  • Garfunkel and Oates
  • Scrubs
  • Broadchurch
  • Lilyhammer
  • Modern Family
  • Scandal
  • Grey’s Anatomy
  • Jessica Jones
  • You’re the Worst
  • I also watched a lot of standup comedy and many, many documentaries.

Things I learned this year:

  • Environments matter.
  • Building good environments is hard. And extremely rewarding.
  • Sometimes the only thing left for you to do is to remove yourself from an equation.
  • Realising that you need help is hard. Finding help once you’ve realised that you need it can be even harder.

Things I want to do next year:

  • I want to get back to traveling more. I’ve been missing that a lot.
  • I also want to work harder on amplifying the voices of people who have important things to say.
  • I also want to get better at supporting the work of other feminists in tech and at showing my solidarity with them.
  • I want to do more public speaking again. (If you know of any good events, please let me know!)
  • I also want to start looking for and find a new job.

I will remember this year as the year in which only few things started, while many things came to an end. The year in which I was mostly not who I wanted to be. And the year in which my hair finally grew longer.

Right now, I have no idea where I’m going and what’s going to happen. Most of the time, this is very frightening for me. But, hey:

“If everything was perfect, you would never learn and you would never grow.”

– Beyoncé

Take care. I’ll see you next year.




speed of light

We won’t solve problems if we don’t allow ourselves time to think about them.

… I read a few months ago in a post about the tech industry’s pace.

A few minutes ago, I ate a bowl of strawberries and mango pieces and this sentence popped up out of nothing.

Many major things in my life have changed over the past few months, and one of the most important ones was its pace. The pace that I’m moving at. My very own pace.

These changes that happened also led to a quite unintended slow-down, and, even more important, allowed me time to think. For many years before, the way I was moving felt like there was constantly wind whirling my hair because I was running so fast. (I hate running.) This clock that is ticking, each and every second that goes by, gives me distance.

Time is a giver. It’s giving me new perspectives, new insights and, consequently, learnings.

What I have right now are many pending drafts, many notions left unspoken, many ideas only thought out loud. For now, I’m writing them on pieces of paper, I’m quickly typing them into notes, I’m waiting for more time to pass. The day will come when I’ll know that enough time has passed for them to be said out loud. I don’t think that I’ll be solving problems when this day comes. But I’m damn sure they will be ready to do something then.

It’s a ride

It was only four months ago, during an all-day breakfast with a bunch of great people, when someone said the word for the first time: burnout. The word came at me like a warm, friendly breeze, in a sentence of nice words about taking time for oneself, and it felt like a hurricane inside me. Burnout. Of course. Why hadn’t I thought about this earlier, why not seen it, realised it, taken care of it?

Later that day, when I was back home working, it was still whirling around in my head. Burnout. Burnout. I tried to let it sink in, whilst fighting the deep need to sleep (these are times when I want to sleep all nights, all days).

A few days later, a tiny feeling of relief began to arise. It grew, and I realised where it came from. It was because finally there was a word for it, finally everything I had felt and experienced throughout the months before made sense, like pieces of a puzzle just falling into places. It wasn’t just a random set of symptoms anymore, it had a word, a tag, a label, it was something I could tackle.

Something I could not tackle. I was way too tired, to exhausted, far beyond my limits to even think about tackling anything.

The last days of work before my holidays in December were a complete disaster. I had releases to coordinate, had to interview people for various jobs, and was constantly in meetings from 9am to 8pm, without any chance for a break, except for the occasional cigarette which I inhaled like there was no time left (mostly because there wasn’t). When I came home, I ate a few bites of pasta, collapsed into bed and couldn’t sleep, because my brain was never quitting work and kept me up all nights.

Then I went to Norway. These ten days were the most relaxed ones I’d had in what felt like ages, and I even looked and felt a little less destroyed afterwards.

Still, as soon as I was back home, it all got back to where it was. All the newly-gained energy vanished, the old stress level came back (and I wasn’t even back to work yet). I reached a state where I was afraid of everything: afraid of going back to work, of all new projects, of commitments I had made, – all tasks and assignments which I had loved some time ago, but which now filled me with nothing but fear. And over all the fear, my stress level rose even more. On top of that, everything that’s going on in tech and its culture have been contributing large parts to my mental and physical condition as well, but that specific topic is worth another post at some point.

All in all, the result was a poorly drawn version of myself. I may have sat in a corner of my flat a lot at the time, just waiting for the night to be over, and hoping for nothing to happen.

That’s when I finally decided to step back and look at the mess from another perspective. I knew that I had only two options: going on with the status quo and collapsing sooner or later, – or stopping some commitments, at least for some time. Since I was lucky to be in a position where this was possible, number two is what I chose. Heavy-heartedly, I wrote an email and spoke with someone, and it was decided that I was taking a break from two projects. One break of three months, one for an indefinite time frame. From all sides, there was a lot of support, which helped me a lot (thanks again, folks).

It was only after getting this out, that I realised how hard this step had been for me. I’ve always been someone who defines herself mostly about her work and work results, and I only say “mostly”, because I still have hope it’s not one hundred percent. Saying “I need a break”, felt like a big, big failure. I knew that, normally, this was not a call I’d make. I don’t pause from stuff. No, no. I’m stubborn, I’ve always found my way through.

But this time, something was a little different. Like before, again I just knew I had no choice. But unlike before, I acted accordingly.

Then I went back to work. I was still pretty stressed, still super tired every evening, and still couldn’t sleep. But at least a little of the total amount of pressure was paused. – Which was even better given that I had a conference talk to prepare, which I had already committed to and which now ate up all evenings after work and my weekends. But at least I started saying no more often – no to more conferences, no to more volunteer work, no to unpaid diversity consulting.

Replacing projects with other projects is by far not what I’d call my ideal way to deal with burnout. When I come home from the office these days, there’s usually still more work waiting for me. And I’m grateful for the people in my life who help me at least sometimes not read my emails (thanks). And while I hope I’ll get better at dealing with burnouts in the future, another part of me hopes that this won’t be necessary anymore – although I still think it’s good for me to be prepared.

The main learning that I’m taking out of this is that I was able to say “I can’t go on like this anymore” – to myself, as well as express my limitations to others. For me, this was a huge step. For the first time in years, and maybe ever, I was able to stop – or at least pause for an instant.

To me, what I did early this year was a good step into the right direction. It was the first step, and I am ready to take the next ones.

It’s a ride.

And then I accidentally

And then I accidentally stumbled upon a memory card with a few more photos I took in Norway.

The photos are from one of our last days there. It was one of these days when you look out of the window in the morning and a ship is passing by.


One of the days when you’re leaving the cozy cabin for a short walk and suddenly the sky is all cloudy and wonderful.


We stood by the small lake and thought about which house could be ours here.


It was the day when we walked on top of the big hill without knowing where we were going, but exactly knowing what we were looking for.


The day I saw somebody disappear somewhere in the trees,


and found some snow on the path.


It was the day when we jumped over a big, big puddle and my socks got all wet, but then we saw another lake in the valley.


We walked on, the ground got all muddy and slippery, the sun had set a long time ago, and then we reached the top of the big hill.


The whole ground was full of moss and very small plants, and that’s the place where our path ended.


It was Christmas Eve 2014.

Norway 2014

In the last days of December 2014, we spent a few days in Norway. My last time there had been for a roundtrip 13 years ago, and I still had those memories of impressive, breathtaking landscapes in mind.

We had rented a tiny log cabin located near a small village on an island close to Bergen. It’s a lovely cabin directly above a fjord, so from every window you can see the water, feel the wind when standing on the small terrace and hear the calming sound of the waves while falling asleep at night.


There is a sauna which belongs to the cabin as well. The sauna is in a pyramid, and the best thing about it is that, after the sauna, you can get your body some cold water by jumping into the fjord. Now that is pretty cool.


We mostly spent the days snuggling into the corners of the couches in the cabin, reading, watching tv series, drinking tea and eating Norwegian cookies (we especially loved those pizza rolls in the picture, but our favourites were the wonderful Kokostopper).


Only a few minutes of a walk away, there’s a small bakery who are making incredibly delicious organic breads, rolls, pastries and cakes. Continue reading “Norway 2014”