So This is the New Year

A few days ago I was writing a letter to a very old friend of mine in Philly. Last year, her resolution was to be a better penpal. Well, that lasted approximately one letter. This year, we’ve started again.

I think my favorite thing about the relationships I’ve cultivated over the years is that I am closely bonded and networked with a wide swath of folks who support me, push me and remind me to embrace my utter humanity; something I have struggled with mightily for many years.

In any case, that letter made me realize something incredible, and I say “incredible” on many, many levels. 3 days before the anniversary of The Webinar that introduced me to User Experience, I started my career as a User Experience researcher & designer officially. An incredible achievement that I left my home, changed my life, became incredibly uncomfortable and just balls-out went for it would be remarkable for anyone. More so that it was done in such a short amount of time. EVEN more so that it’s me. Here. Writing it out. Embracing this achievement. Celebrating it. And taking great pride in it.

Historically, I’m bad at that.

While 2014 was a monumental year for growth and pushing the very fabric of myself to the limit — believe me, this was TOUGH — it ended on such a high note. I’ve accepted my current position in life (loving my job, communting too many hours a day, living with approximately 10′ x 12′ of personal space), I took a big break (thank you, work! what a huge blessing!) and I feel like I’ve come around again. Like I’ve pulled into the driveway of the house of my soul.

That said, I’m looking forward to 2015. I have a wonderful feeling about it already. It began with true love, strong, supported, loving, love on a beach in Miami. In the 4 days that have followed, I’ve made my running schedule for the year — two half marathons, one in May, the other in September — I’ve laid the groundwork for a LOT of travel, I’ve made my adult budget, I’ve promised myself to end all needless spending, I’ve promised to sketch more often, to code, to read tenaciously, to do yoga at least twice a week, to make time to relax and to love myself unconditionally.

THAT. IS. A. LOT.

Like, almost too much. But strangely enough, I feel like it all goes together. I’m energized and charged by my work, I want to sharpen my skills. I’ve come to embrace the more introverted side of my personality and learned how to nurture and care for that part of myself. I want to ensure I make time for self care. I have also realized in the last year (between the marathon and today) that I’ve become really passive and disengaged in my non-working life. Partially because of necessity during DESIGNATION and partially because it comes with the turf of moving and putting immense strain on those relationships. I want to set myself free this year.

Ever optimistic, I feel happy. I feel whole. I feel like I’m putting on my favorite pair of jeans; worn in all the right places, comfortable and look amazing every time. Let’s see what happens, 2015! I’m so glad you’re here.

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Humblebrag

In case you missed it, I did an interview with DESIGNATION after the program ended about my experience and my new position at Fuzzy Math.

Check it out!!

http://designation.io/blog/interview-with-angelina-cole-designation-alum-and-ux-intern-at-fuzzy-math/

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This one’s for me. (And this one, and that one, and yeah, that other one, too)

If you’ve been reading along for a while now or you’re new here, it’s not hard to deduce that I’m the kind of person who’s always in motion. As a person, I’m constantly searching for what can be changed, improved, built up, deconstructed, rebuilt and moved forward. My entire life I’ve been fixated on how things could be different and where they’re going to go next.

I lack patience. I lack being able to be present.

As a yogi, I’m admittedly terrible at sitting with myself. I think that’s why I like it, because it demands I face a challenge (myself) and work with it for a while. If yoga has taught me anything, it’s that you have to start with where you are.

Designation was a challenge, one I welcomed warmly and really am seeing many returns from. I’m so thankful for that experience; the knowledge I gained, the people I met and grew to love personally and professionally.

The rest of me is catching up.

I want to slow down. I want to be present. I want to be kind and open and in-tune with my surroundings. I was better at this in Milwaukee, when I had my own space and personal time in quiet was available whenever I wanted it. I’m still seeking spaces for it in Chicago.

I’m starting where I am. The transition is over but it’s not finished.

I registered for a 10k on Thanksgiving, forcing myself to get back into a rhythm of self-care. As a runner, I started this addictive hobby because I wanted to prove to myself I could run with shitty lungs and no medication (I can).

I do this a lot. I give myself dares and challenges in an effort to know myself better and grow. It’s borderline obsessive. Life things have converged at this point and I am demanding something new of myself — to sit with it all and really understand what I’ve been running from. Literally and figuratively.

A week into this, it’s really fucking hard. Just like diets, running programs and daily routines. It’s really fucking hard when you start.  I’m retreating into myself. I’ve spent so much of this year working on things that touch my life and not enough time working on the things inside of my life. It’s time to be selfish. It’s time for this one to be mine. This workday, this dance, this run, this breath and this life are for me.

An hour from now I’ll be different. A day from now I’ll be different and a week from now I’ll be different. Same, same different. Start with where you are.

There’s no real ending to this post. I hope the ones in the future will be more focused and less brain vomit. More positive. One thing at a time, brick by brick. I’m getting there.

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Designation: The End

So many good things have happened in the last 8 weeks.

Week 6 capped the education part of Designation and a transference into the actual working portion of the program. What’s interesting is noticing the shift in people from classmates to colleagues. The idiosyncrasies come out and everyone’s leadership and collaboration skills are tested.

Some projects went as expected, others did not but in all cases, my teams delivered to the clients work we were proud of. You can check out those projects and others on my portfolio site, angelinamcole.com.

I had my exit interview on Thursday last week and was determined to take some time off for myself. To run, to go to yoga, to catch up with my family and some friends, to swap out my summer clothes for winter ones (because the whole dang thing will absolutely not fit in my half-bedroom slice of my parent’s house). I’ve had mixed results with the relaxing.

Talking with my friend & mentor, Zeke, it just never seems like there’s enough time for reading.

So, what’s next? Did the crazy idea work? My goodness, internet-universe, I’m SO THRILLED to say that…

IT DID.

I start my internship with Fuzzy Math tomorrow. I’m continuing some work with a client from the program and I’ve got another side project in the works.  I’m looking forward to the real work beginning. I’m looking forward to working with a new team that’s a well-oiled machine. I’m looking forward to running and yoga and family and manfriend and friendfriends even more than I already do. And I am SO lucky.

Here’s to the next crazy idea. Cheers!

 

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Project Outline: MCTS

photo (6)Now that we’re in the halftime segment of Designation, I’m happy to share that my team and I are beginning the design stages of the MCTS project.

First, we identified our assumptions. We took a trip up to Milwaukee for a Contextual Inquiry. We distilled what we hear in an affinity map. Compiled an HTI. We identified requirements of the platform. We completed style tiles. Now, we’re standing on the edge of creating new interfaces for web and mobile and redesigning the signage for the entire system.

We’ve gotten some interesting reactions from our instructors, most notably Leanne saying “You want to finish this by the end of the year?” Nope, the end of Designation.

photo (1)I have every confidence we’ll get it done, especially at the rate we’re going. But now that client work is coming into the picture, my time management and project management skills are really being put to the test.

The more I think about it, the more I wish I had known “Service Design” was a thing sooner. Much like I wish I had known about Industrial Design when I was an undergrad, Service Design is really where I’m happiest. It requires creating interfaces that matter and can be widely used by an immense amount of people. How cool is that? Design for the greater good.

Finally, I’ve found my happiest of happy places.

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The Knosey Knows

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 9.00.12 PMYesterday, JJ assigned us a branding and comp project to finish for today. While we only really needed to show up with style tiles, I was totally flummoxed as to how to go about this, especially after spending the morning half struggling mightily to come up with a worthwhile logo for a different challenge.

So, I started noodling around with color and font and eventually came up with a logo.

Okay, not to shabby.

In class today we took it through 5 screens of comps and I CANNOT WAIT to finish this project. I love it more than I thought I would. I love thinking through interactions and thinking about a person using it. It’s awesome to think on the other side of “Why?” and the endless questions that come with User Experience Research and get to the more design side of things.

Here’s what I’ve got so far.

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 8.56.48 PM

More to come.

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Design, The Resistance and a New Creation

Work in Progress -- Not Done YET!!!

Work in Progress — Not Done YET!!!

We’ve begun week 4 with a deep dive into visual design. This is the area that is completely foreign to me. Rather, I know what it is and I know what graphic design is but what’s made of may as well be unicorn dust and pixie hair.

Today we had to design a quote poster in addition to yesterday’s homework of words as design. Both of these exercises welcomed a new little voice in my head that I hadn’t quite encountered in such a booming way until now.

The Resistance.

The Resistance is not Impostor Syndrome, which I’ve had plenty of in the last four weeks.  The Resistance is the chasm between where you are and where you know you can be. The Resistance is doubt compounded. The Resistance has gnashing teeth and tentacles.

My designer friend says the feeling never goes away, you just get used to it. There will always be a gap between the idea in your head and the finished product. Especially considering external constraints like clients, budget, brand, etc. but noticing it was a really cool moment for me. It spurred the writing of my own manifesto in a quiet sidestreet in the sun. Whoa.

It means I might actually be good at this. But that could be my Impostor Syndrome talking.

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