Words matter-choose inclusive language for an inclusive Tech

Words matter. Words are powerful.

Language i is a system that consists of the development, acquisition, maintenance and use of complex systems of communication, particularly the human ability to do so; and a language is any specific example of such a system.

Language is one of the most powerful tools we have as humans to communicate together and to understand each other.

The words we choose define what kind of relationships we want to build and what environment we want to have.

One of the keys to an inclusive tech sector, where everyone feels welcome and has a sense of belonging, is inclusive language.

The quest to be inclusive require us to use new vocabulary words from time to time. It also needs us to stop using some words and expressions as we learn from each other.

I recently expressed annoyance at the use of the word “guys” to address a group of people who do not all identify as males. I specifically expressed displeasure at including ME in such groups.

That tweet sparked an exciting conversation and different perspectives.

There was the expected argument of “guys” being gender neutral.

The ”universal male” (i.e., using “guys” to mean “people”) assumes that the normal, default human being is male.  Numerous studies show that these words cause people to think about males.

This study entitled The semantics of grammatical gender: A cross-cultural study  shows that grammatical gender does affect meaning.

So the argument that “guys” is gender neutral isn’t really valid.

More importantly, I’m apparently not the only one who minds the use of the word “guys”. Can’t we just use a more inclusive alternative instead of arguing?

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Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2013/01/30/girls-ladies-folks-heres-a-visual-guide-to-what-you-should-call-that-group-of-individuals/

 

There is an abundance of words to call a group of people from “people” (doh), Y’all, folks to colleagues and team.

I stand by my opinion that “guys” is not inclusive. That being said, people don’t use it with bad intentions or malice. It’s what they are used to.

I, myself, am guilty of using the word in the past, but I’m trying my best to do better and be better.

“Guys” is one of many words and phrases we better avoid as our understanding and empathy increases.

Words like “gals” and “ladies” may feel patronising sometimes. We also need to be careful with pronouns. Using the right pronoun reflects respect, acceptance and support.

In case of doubt, just ask. Try to use a language that reflects peoples choices.

Change takes effort. It’s our collective responsibility to listen to each other, to learn from each other and to improve towards a more inclusive language and a more inclusive Tech.

No one is perfect but we need to actively make effort towards positive change.

The secret thoughts of a woman in tech: What my job taught me about Self-Care

Today is the last day in my end of year vacation. A long 3 weeks holiday that involved hiking, sightseeing, amazing food, new cities & countries but also massages and poolside juices.

The plan for today is to read, write, enjoy the pool and rest. Oh, a balinese massage and flower bath are also planned.

This is so new for me. This whole business of doing nothing, resting and slowing down.

Younger me would be using every single second to do more. Such a fool! But my present self thinks differently.

My present self values our body, wellbeing, wellness and time more. My present self values self-care.

This may surprise you but this is partly due to the nature of my job (and getting bloody old).

My job? I’m a developer advocate.

I love the variety and flexibility I get from my job. As a developer advocate, I could be sitting home writing code (Yay for remote work!), preparing for a talk, writing a tutorial or hopping around the globe speaking in conferences.

My job is awesome. My job is stressful. My job is tiring. My job is really awesome &I love it.

To have an online presence sharing knowledge and trying to help other developers as well as doing public speaking is to expose myself to the good, bad and ugly of the Internet. Luckily for me, it’s been mostly good.

To be out there in front of an audience is a sign of bravery, self-confidence & all until I hid in my hotel room to cry & feel vulnerable & be overwhelmed. ( I may be over-dramatising things. I hid in my room, eat junk food and watch Netflix. That’s what really happens).

It’s stressful. I’ve done about 20 conferences this year, you’d think one get used to it, I get nervous every.single.time.

To add to the mental fatigue, there’s the physical fatigue.

To be able to attend conferences over all the world, I need to fly (until teleportation is a thing). That’s a lot of time spent in airports, train stations, airplanes & trains. I also need to deal with jetlag sometimes and be on top of my traveller game. That’s tiring. Not just mentally tiring but muscle-ache tiring.

All of this made me aware of self-care and the importance of having time to myself to recover and actually be able to do the job I love so much. Because:

  • Broken me is an unproductive me

When it comes to productivity, it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. You can spend hours trying to achieve a task but if you are tired, if you can’t think properly, there’s no point.

The more your body and soul get the rest they need, the more productive and efficient you are.

I learnt this lesson the hard way but eventually I learnt.

  • No one wants to deal with unhappy me

Unhappy me is an ugly angry woman. You do not want to deal with unhappy me. I, myself, can’t stand unhappy me.

With the hectic life-style I have (by choice. By all means, I’m not complaining here), it’s easy for me to forget to take care of my health mentally and physically wish could lead to serious problems such as depression and stress.

I learnt that in order to excel in my job, I should come first.

Self care is not just face masks and massages (Although I highly recomment those), it’s a series of techniques and lifestyle changes that will help you looking after yourself.

Here’s how I look after myself:

  • Exercising

I don’t just try to find free time to exercise. If you do hope for free time to exercise, you’ll never have that time.

Instead, I include my exercise into my weekly schedule. I make sure that I have slots on my calendar for the gym.

  • Mental declutter

Nothing is harmful or stressful more than the mental burden. Thinking about tasks, meetings, deadlines, priorities, etc… could be overwhelming.

To keep on top of things, I follow the mental declutter technique. I try to be mentally organised and make space in my brain by religiously using To-do lists, prioritise tasks and tackle them accordingly.

I’m also half way through mastering the art of saying no and yes wisely. It’s important to know when to use these 2 magical words (No Jennifer, I won’t do your job for you. Yes James, I’d like to own that piece of work and take full credit for it).

This is also known as wisely budgeting my fucks.

  • Making time for the people I care about

With all the travel I have to do, maintaining a social life is challenging but I try my best to have one.

I’d usually be sitting in an airport waiting for my home bound when I text friends and family to arrange meeting them.

It’s important to stay connected to the people we love and by all means, disconnect yourself from negative influence.

  • Making time for the activities I care about

There will be always work that needs to be done. There will be always a deadline. And they all can wait.

As someone who works remotely from home, the line between work and my personal life can easily get blurry. So it’s really important to have time for hobbies so my work is not my life. I’m not my job.

Switching off is important.

  • Slowing down

I’m slowly learning how to slow down (good pun, right?) , live in the present moment and disconnect from the hectic digital world from time to time.

I find nature and mindful walks very therapeutic.

  • Eating healthy and drinking water

I try.

 

By all means, you don’t have to do what I do. But know that you should take care of yourself. Be selfish about your wellbeing & wellness.

 

 

 

 

Climbing Kilimanjaro: How my brain took the lead when my body gave up

I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro between the 22nd and 27th of July 2018. I successfully reached the summit, Uhuru Peak, in the morning of the 26th of July.

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Despite the title, this post is NOT to convince you not to climb Kili. It is without doubt a life changing experience and I’d highly encourage everyone to do it.

But. Yes, there is a but. It’s a very challenging adventure, both mentally and physically. So challenging that some people give up and turn around.

Luckily for me, I had enough mental strength not to give up but it was challenging enough for me to burst into tears few times. And throw up. Also few times.

For the sake of statistics, I cried 4 times in total and threw up 3 times. All the throwing up happened on Summit Day. Yes. I left my vomit on the glacier.

Day 3 was our first real test with altitude and acclimatization, we were hiking through a semi desert and rocky landscape with the aim of reaching Lava Tower at 4500m.

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It all started well until it was scorching hot. Despite drinking water, I started having a headache. A headache that was getting worse with every step.

It doesn’t matter how hard you try to relax and enjoy the experience, when you are setting off to summit a big mountain like Kilimanjaro, you worry about the smallest thing that could stop you from achieving your goal. High altitude sickness is a serious thing to worry about.

So when I had the headache, my brain started playing games with me. I was worried I’m having high altitude sickness. I was also worried if I’m already struggling with altitude on day 3 at 4000m, how am I ever going to reach the summit?

Worse than the headaches, were the thoughts I had. It all conspired against me. My body couldn’t hold me anymore and I felt like giving up.

The first rule of Kilimanjaro is “Pole, Pole” which means “slowly, slowly”. But at that time, slowing down or stopping for breaks meant not being able to walk again. Instead, I just kept going. Every step was bringing me closer to my goal. Every step was bringing me closer to Lava tower.

I’m not the fastest walker among my group, if anything I was among the group of the slow walkers but that day I was the first one to reach Lava Tower.

I didn’t even pay attention to my pace, I didn’t plan to be fast or to lead the walk. My brain was telling me to just keep going. Just keep going.

When I reached Lava Tower, I burst into tears. To my own surprise. Tears of pain and pride. The pain of the headache. The pride that I did it despite the pain.

I guess I was proud of my mental strength. This was the first mental challenge on the mountain and my brain did carry me through when my physical strength couldn’t do it anymore.

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I wasn’t done with tears that day.

Another rule of the mountain is : Walk high, sleep low. Camps are usually at a reasonable altitude.

So after reaching Lava tower and having lunch there, we had to walk some more to spend the night in Baranco Camp at 3900m altitude.

The rocky route wasn’t kind to my knees and the headaches weren’t kind to my head.

I felt like the path would never end and I would never reach the camp. It took me way too long. I arrived just about sunset and I burst in tears again.

Then I “superwoman” posed for the camera and smiled.

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Day 6 was THE day, summit day.

Day 5, we reached base camp around mid day, we had lunch then we went for a nap. An early dinner was served at 6PM then we went to get few hours of sleep since day 6 starts at midnight.

We started hiking towards the summit in the dark.

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Despite the anxiety and anticipation, it was a beautiful hike. The path was lighted by the climbers head torches and the chants of the guides filled the void.

The views of the mountain and the sunrise were spectacular.

I did my research and I knew it’s absolutely crucial to keep drinking water and eating on summit day. I needed all the energy of the world. Reality was a different matter. I didn’t really eat or drink and ended up severely exhausted and delirious.

Once again I knew that I just need to keep going despite the pain.

My pain was so obvious that other climbers were being supportive telling me that Stella peak wasn’t far away and I was almost there. But I couldn’t see the sign.

When I finally saw the sign, I cried. I cried because I made it. I cried when my teammate told me “I’m one tough cookie”.

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It takes only about 40 minutes from Stella point to reach Uhuru peak. I never thought about stopping at Stella, not at any point. But I also had no idea or energy on how I’d walk for another 40 minutes.

Half way through And I couldn’t keep going anymore. I was told that the peak is around the corner.

When I turned around the corner, I could see the peak. It was around 100 metres away. 100 metres that felt like 100 kilometers. I cried “It’s too far away”. And I threw up.

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5 minutes later, I made it to Uhuru. I faked a smile and took a photo in front of the sign.

I learnt that day that I’m stronger than what I think. I also learnt that summiting is not the best of Kilimanjaro.

Stay tuned for my best of Kilimanjaro in the next post 😉

 

 

 

Culinary Adventures in Barcelona

A long weekend in Barcelona to break out from the daily routine, stay offline as much as possible, discover this beautiful city and eat a lot of yummy Spanish food. That was the plan I made with my friend before our trip to Catalunya’s capital.

Being the foodie that I’m, I was really excited about Barcelona. I’ve been to Spain before (Andalusia) and I know how good the food is. I was really looking forward to trying out the Catalan cuisine.

I usually do the homework before any trip but since we wanted to simply relax in Barcelona, I didn’t particularly look up what to eat or where. Instead, I let the city offer us all its goodness.

Here’s what the city offered:

Colourful stalls of fruit & seafood in la Boqueria

La Boqueria is a public food market , it’s also one of Barcelona’s touristic landmarks.

Despite how crowded it was, our stroll in la Boqueria was fun.

Colourful fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, spices, seafood, meats, jamon, there was something for everyone.

In addition to fresh ingredients, there are also plenty of bars and restaurants offering tapas and seafood.

It was so busy  so we opted for a takeaway. I love seafood, I couldn’t resist the beautiful display of overpriced fried seafood mix and of course I had to eat octopus while in Barcelona so I also got pulpo Al Ajillo (sauteed octopus in garlic).

I totally ordered too much food but that’s what I do for my first meal everytime I’m visiting a new city. I’m yet to learn!

Was it the best food I’ve ever had?No. Was it the best food I had in Barcelona? Also no. But I still recommend a visit to la Boqueria and a taste of its food.

 

 

 

Panet

Right on La Rambla, there’s a small gelateria called Rocambolesc.

The Rocambolesc project starts from the willingness of Jordi Roca to recover the traditional dessert cart of El Celler de Can Roca which had disappeared from the restaurant’s room just when he took care of the sweet part of the menu.

El Celler de Can Roca is a 3 Michelan star restaurant voted best restaurant in the world few times. Fancy!

We didn’t know any of this about the cosy gelateria. It just cought our attention since it was next to our hotel and looked cute. Also they have these fun- shaped ice-creams.

As we were examining what Rocambolesc has to offer, we noticed people ordering this bread filled with ice-cream then put inside a maker similar to a waffles or panini maker.

We were intrigued and wanted to try this thing called Panet.

Panet was so popular, it took us 2 days and 3 attempts to finally be able to order it.

It was so worth it! Hot crunchy brioche then melting cold tasty ice-cream, yum! I’m not a big fun of ice-cream so really trust me when I say it’s sooo good.

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Crema Catalana

“What’s Crema Catalana exactly?” I asked the waiter.

“It’s like a crème brûlée but thinner.” Or maybe he said thicker. I can’t remember.

Crema Catalana is indeed very similar to crème brûlée and is a famous Catalan dessert.

If you like the French crème brûlée then you’ll like the crema Catalana.

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Pastissos

It was really hard not to notice all the amazing bakeries in Barcelona. After hours of wandering the city on foot, these bakeries  were the perfect spot for a coffee break and a cake or two.

You don’t even have to look for a Pastelaria, they are everywhere in La Rambla and Gothic Quarter.

Croissants are available all day long which I approve of along with lemon pies, creamy sweet cakes and meringues.

 

Tapas

I may have lied when I said I didn’t do any research before heading to Barcelona.

When I told a friend I was going, she shared with me an email she got from a Barcelonian friend containing all his favourite tapas bars.

Although we didn’t go to the suggested bars, we tried but some of them were too busy. I guess they’ve been recommended to long queues of tourists we found just like they were recommended to us. We ate in the same area, the Gothic quarter and we were very satisfied with the food quality. It was all yummy!

There are two ways to order tapas in these bars. You can have some of the small tapas on the bar, most of them are a piece of bread topped with jamon, fish or veg. You can also order bigger plates of tapas like Pedron peppers and Manchego cheese (which are a favourite of mine) from the menu.

 

 

If you’ve been to Barcelona and have more culinary experiences to share, please comment on this post.

Until the next culinary adventure!

Travel Essentials: What’s in my bag ?

With all the travel I have to do in between work and my adventures, the last thing I need is to stress about packing.

I learnt how to pack on the fly and be as effective as possible. That being said, I do struggle sometimes with packing light simply because I value my fashion 😉

Here, I’m sharing with you my packing wisdom:

The very essentials

We, travellers,  usually worry a lot about forgetting things and not packing everything we need.

The only things you should really worry about are :

  • Passport/ID: without a passport or an ID card, you can’t really go far. Can you?
  • Money/Credit/Debit cards: I wish I can tell you that your curiosity, adventurous spirit or love for travel can alone take you places but that would be far from the Truth. The ugly truth is travel requires money wether you’re travelling on budget or on a luxury trip.
  • Mobile phone: You can argue that one can travel without phone. It’s possible. But we use our phones so much these days to take photos, check maps, search for coffee shops , order an Uber, even pay with the phone. So if you depend on your smartphone, make sure you have it with you.

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Travel organisers: the life-savers

Earlier this year, I was on a two months trip to the States Where I was in cold Vermont and super hot Nevada among other places. For that, I had to pack for all kinds of weather.

I knew I wouldn’t need my flipflops in New York or Philadelphia where it was snowing. That’s when the travel organisers came in super handy. I had my clothes for separate kinds of weather in separate bags.

It’s just a great way to be more ogranised and to less likely loose items or leave them behind in hotel rooms.

You have better things to do when travelling than spending ages looking inside a huge suitcase to find that sock.

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Stay connected

If you are plannning on using your phone , tablet or laptop, you may want to consider taking your chargers with you. Also remember these chargers may not work where you’re going, make sure you have a universal adapter with you, maybe a power bank, a solar charger,etc.

It’s up to you to decide what you need and what you’re willing to take with you.

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The little things that matter

Sudden headache, cold, blisters or even diarrhea; you never really know. That’s why keeping a little first aid kit would never harm.

Also make sure you have travel size toiletteries as weight and size matter a lot when packing and travelling.

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Keep active

You may not be the exercising kind and that’s absolutely fine 🙂

I’m the exercising kind but also the foodie kind. That’s why I make sure I’m exercising and burning all the calories I’m gaining while travelling.

Running is also a great way to explore somewhere new.

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Et Voila! This is pretty much how I pack.

In my head, packing is a five sub-tasks jobs :

  1. Make sure I have my passport, money and phone.
  2. Pack all my gadgets and technology items.
  3. Make sure I have my running/gym gear with me for when jetlag wakes me early.
  4. Pack my toilettery bag.
  5. Pack the clothes and shoes I need in my travel organisers.

Obviously, things are a bit different if I’m about to take a trip with specific requirements and equipments such as a trekking or hiking trip (hint hint to an upcoming blog post 😉 ).

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Culinary Adventures in Morocco

Disclaimer: This is an old post from my old blog, it was written in November 2014. 

As I’m about to edit this post, I’m feeling all nostalgic and funny.

Nostalgic because I miss those days in Marrakesh and I want to go back to Morocco. I want to tour the country, visit Fez, wander essaouira and photograph Chefchaouen.

Funny because I can see how far I’ve come with my writing and photography skills. You can tell that I wasn’t a brilliant photographer back in 2014. I can confirm that I’m much better now 🙂

Morocco is an incredibly beautiful country and the people there are so friendly. Being from its neighbouring Tunisia, I felt just at home there.

One of the many reasons that made me fall in love with Morocco is Food.

Tea

For the tea lover that I am, being in Morocco was heaven. Just close your eyes and try to imagine the glasses filled with mint waiting to meet the green tea, I bet you can smell the freshness of that mint!

The tea there, like in the rest of the North African countries,  is part of the culture. It’s sweet and it’s everywhere. With every meal, with every conversation.

Even if it hits you as very sweet in the beginning, I’d highly recommend that you embrace its sweetness and indulge yourself in this sweet pleasure while you are there.

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Tagine

Another famous not-to-miss dish in Morocco is Tagine.  Make sure you try one or two during your visit.

Tagine is a historically Berber dish from North Africa that is named after the type of earthenware pot in which it is cooked.

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This stew of meat or fish, vegetables, spices and mixed sometimes with lemon, apricots or olives etc. is definitely a Moroccan pride. It is everywhere, in every restaurant and every food stall. The conical topped dish in which it is cooked makes it even more special.

I’ve had few Tagines in my life and I like cooking them but the most special one (showed in the picture below) is a chicken and olives Tagine that I had on the side of a river before our hike in the Atlas mountains 🙂

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Food stalls in Marrakesh

When in Marrakech, one must try the food from the many stalls in Jemaa El Fna. It is like a festival every night, a festival of food-stalls competing to attract tourists. Some of them would even make up a whole show of singing and clapping just to win you over another stall.

Although they may be very insisting sometimes , the whole experience is amazing. And the way it works, you end up sitting in this long table next to strangers and you end up having conversations with visitors from all over the world!

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Harira

Harira is a traditional soup in both Morocco and Algeria. It’s so yummy!

 

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Pastilla

One last dish I would like to finish this post with, is the Pastilla. Also known as Bestila, this Andalus chicken pie will surprise you. Who would imagine eating chicken inside filo pastry  with sugar and cinnamon? LOL

This combination of sweet and savory flavours is surprisingly delicious.

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Food is a great deal in Moroccan culture, nothing like a tour in Jemaa El Fna at night to notice that.

It is delicious,  full of flavours and definitely one my favourite.

 

Seattle: On & Off the Tourist Path

“Seattle is such a cool city”,that’s what I kept telling myself as I’m wondering the streets and neighbourhoods of this beautiful city for the second time.

The first time I visited Seattle was back in March 2016 for the Women Who Code Connect conference. This time, I’m also here for a conference, Microsoft Build ,with a few extra days to explore the city.

I know that many of the 6000 Build attendees are either first time visitors and/or only here for a short time. So I thought I write down few suggestions on what people might want to do and see in Seattle. I hope you like my suggestions 🙂

The tourist path

I like to think about myself as a traveller not a tourist but as a first time visitor, we all tend to follow the tourist path. That’s what I exactly did during my first visit to Seattle.

In no particular order, if you are visiting Seattle for the first time you may want to check:

Pike Place Market

I don’t know about you but I love a good old farmers market especially one with plenty of food options to choose from. My favourite restaurant in the Pike Place Market is the Athenian because seafood 😉

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Space Needle

Am I right in saying this is THE icon of Seattle? There are really some cool facts about the Space Needle and you get to have an amazing view of Seattle and Mount Rainier.

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Chihuly Garden & Glass

I didn’t really know what to expect when I visited Chihuly Garden but I loved it. I highly recommend that you visit this exhibition.

I’m a much better photographer now 😉

museum of Pop culture

Back in 2016 when I visited, this was called EMP museum-music+ sci-fi + pop culture. Needless to say anymore.

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I couldn’t even get the whole installation in the frame
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This should convince you to go check the museum

Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room/Starbucks Pike Place

Alright, I’d usually highly advise against drinking Starbucks coffee especially that there are too many great coffee shops in Seattle but I’m going to make this one little exception. I did not go to the Reserve Roastry myself but I went to the Starbucks store located outside Pike Place Market also known as Original Starbucks because it’s the first Starbucks store established in 1971.

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I wonder if Micah is still there?
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Original Starbucks!

 

Off beaten path

There are so many beautiful neighbourhoods in Seattle to explore like a local, away from the hassle of downtown.

Before leaving Pike Place Market, you may want to check :

The Gum wall

People do miss this brick wall because it’s in an alley under Pike Place Market and it’s actually as the name suggests : a wall of gum! Cool? Grim? that’s up to you 🙂

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Fremont

Thank God for the local friends who suggest cool things to do and thank you Glenn for suggesting I visit Fremont.

Fremont is funky. The first thing you see when arriving there is a sign saying “Welcome to Fremont, center of the universe”. How cool is that! It’s a laid-back neighbourhood with a funky vibe along Lake Union, you get to walk along the lake, visit all the vintage and records shops and see some cool art.

Capitol Hill

Gay clubs, hip bars, indie stores and awesome coffee shops, that’s some of the things to expect in Capitol Hill. It’s a wonderful place for a brunch and a wonder, which what I exactly did there. I can highly recomment the Oddfellows cafe .

Oh if you happen to be in the area, make sure to check out Elliott Bay bookstore.

 

Hopefully this would give you some ideas on what to do in Seattle. Make sure you enjoy the good coffee while in town and have fun!

The secret thoughts of a woman in tech: 💩 women have to deal with

Previously on The secret thoughts of a woman in tech… 

So here I’m minding my own business, attending the Facebook Developer Conference F8 when this happened:

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I did not reply to this comment simply because I value my energy and time.

But here’s the thing:

Pregnancy, motherwhood and periods have always been used against women to descriminate them and not give them fair opportunities.

We all heard comments like “She must be PMSing”, “She’s pregnant, she will go on maternity then work flexy hours, let’s find someone who’s more available”.

So my tweet was only meant to celebrate a successful woman who’s doing great things.

But then again, someone felt the urge to make a nasty comment : WOMEN CAN’T PEE STANDING UP!!! Well, congratulations on this new discovery that will shake up the lives of human beings.

PS: https://www.quora.com/Is-it-true-that-girls-cannot-pee-standing-up-If-so-why  

justsayin

Does it really have to be a competition? Why can’t we simply celebrate both women and men’s potential and success.

Also dear sir/madam, if ,due to your insecurities, you had the urge to reply to a tweet celebrating a lady shaping the future of technology and human lives by the “can’t pee standing up” argument, joke is most definitely on you.

Was it an innocent comment? I doubt it and even if it is, it’s still very inappropriate.  It’s not fun. It’s annoying.

This is a small sample of the 💩 women have to deal with on daily basis. It’s just tiring and completely unnecessary.

This incident for example made me angry and when I’m angry I can’t do my job properly because I’m not in the mood.

I also had to spend time writing this rant instead of focusing on the conference and trying new APIs.

My point is this is not only affecting individuals or just women, this has consequences on everyone. So please, let’s just all try to be more mindful.

Before saying anything nasty, ask yourself: Is is really necessary?

Before I go to try peeing standing up, I just want to add one more thing : Empathy. Empathy is a magical word that does wonders.

I’m going on a US tour : Tech, Travel & Total Shenanigans

I’m currently typing these words while on board of a Delta flight heading from LHR to JFK for what should be: ONE HELL OF A TRIP.

The main reason behind this tour is one small human being, my newborn niece. When my sister told me a while back that she’s expecting a baby and that my parents would be travelling as well to see their first grand-child, we all agreed it would be nice to have a family reunion.

Being a remote worker made things much easier for me, the plan was for me to work from the States where I have already some of my colleagues.

But then one thing led to another and instead of going for few weeks to work from my sister’s couch, I will be touring the country for more than just a couple of weeks speaking and attending some conferences.

So if you happen to be attending one of these conferences, please come say Hi!

Itinerary:

 

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Is she writing code on a mirror? With a lipstick? Oui. Oui.

 

I’ll try to update the blog regularly during the trip. Stay tuned & Follow #BibiOnTour! Make me famous 😀

The secret thoughts of a woman in tech: Motivation, productivity & keeping up with all the Beckhams Instagram stories

Previously on The secret thoughts of a woman in tech… 

Earlier this week (3 weeks ago now when I started drafting this post), I posted on my Instagram story ( I luuuuv Instagram. Go ahead and judge me.) how I wake up early (6AM FTW which is way too early by my standards), went to my gym session and did not break any nails while lifting weights. Oh yeah.

A friend pinged me to say how cool I’m (totally agree on that one) and how she’s struggling to find the motivation to wake up early and exercise.

The truth is I don’t just wake up early and go to the gym, in the same way I don’t just eat healthy and drink water or most importantly I don’t just sit in front of my computer and magically am productive. It’s a whole process that I’m applying to try to descipline myself to find the motivation to do all the things I want to do and be productive.

By all means, I’m not one of those self-help gurus (or whatever they are called), I’m just going to share with you some tips and hacks to win at life or simply survive…I guess, based on my own experience.

Chances are my line manager, the boss of my boss and my teammates are reading this, so it’s wise not to mention anything about distraction or my struggle to focus.

First of all, I never pretended to be wise.

Second of all, I’m lucky (until this is the norm for everyone as it should be) to work with an amazing group of humans that values…humans. I don’t have to pretend, I can openly go to my boss and say that I’m struggling to focus, that I can’t find the motivation to do this piece of work or that it’s taking me forever to finish a task. Even better, I get some tips from them on how to deal with it all.

It does happen. To all of us (don’t try to hide, I can see you over there. It’s alright, come join us).

Now, buckle up, things are about to get serious!

Motivation:

I must clarify that there is a difference between not feeling motivated to go to the gym once in a while and not liking your 5 to 9 , 7 days a week job.

I’ve been there, for both the gym & the job.

I found (notice the past tense 😉 )  myself twice in jobs that I hated.

That resulted in me being a very unpleasant person loudly and publicly expressing my hate for the job …in the office. I don’t think I was despressed as rage took over any other kind of feelings but I was definitely unhappy.

My motivation to get up every morning to go to that job was to pay my bills ( I was late most of the days, we had a fairly flexible hours so technically I wasn’t late).

My motivation not to murder anyone on that job was the fact it is illegal and I could go to jail. I do not want to go to jail.

Was that enough motivation for me to stay? No.

In my own experience, unless you’re motivated to do something, you’ll never be able to do it. Maybe you will but as a result, you’ll end up with a done task and a very miserable depressed human being, that’s you.

Doing things without love is not sustainable, eventually something will fall apart.

So here’s my first valuable tip for you :

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Paying the bills is not a good enough motivation to be stuck in a job you hate. Some of you may shout “We have mouths to feed”. I understand but that still doesn’t make it a good motivation.

But hear me out, when I left the job I hated , I didn’t just suddenly leave. I had a plan.

I actually turned that shitty situation into my new motivation to find a new job. Instead of ” This is a shit job but it pays the bills” , my brain was telling me ” This is a shit job that only pays the bills. It’s time for us to look for another job”.

So we did.

Last year I gave a talk entitled Keep Climbing in which I state lessons learnt from Climbing and how to apply them in my professional life as a woman in tech.

The first thing I mentioned was my motivation to start climbing in the first place as I’m scared of heights.

I do climb to beat my fear actually ( I’m still a pretty rubbish climber but who cares? I’m still doing it. I’m actually going climbing tomorrow) .

This is how important having the right motivation is! You can beat your greatest fears for the right motivation. ( I’m also scared of rope bridges but I did cross one in Morrocco because that was the only way to reach the restaurant where we were having lunch…the power of food).

Now, for the gym, in November 2016 I suddenly decided to start exercising. I joined something called BootCamp which is basically a small group of people exercising with a Personal trainer.

As this wasn’t surprinsing enough for myself and everyone who knew me, those bootcamps are early in the morning. They start at 6:45AM which means I have to wake up at 6AM. What’s so unsual about that? I DO NOT WAKE UP EARLY.

Guess what, since November 2016 I’ve been going to my bootcamps 3 days a week. I did miss few sessions because of work or laziness but I did not give up. Why? Because If I ever make it to the age of 60 or 70, I want to be healthy and active.

This is what Sarah Knight call the power of negative thinking in her books.  I imagine a future me out of shape, unable to go hiking and really miserable. That’s the future me I do not want, that’s my motivation to go to the gym.

The positivity of negative thinking. This sounds similar to !False = True , doesn’t it?!

Basically, find what makes your heart beat , it doesn’t have to be the job or the gym but whatever you do or want to do , think why you want to do it? What motivates you? And this will massively help you move to the next step : Doing the thing.

Productivity

I don’t know about you but I had days when I had all the motivation of the world and all these amazing plans and yet couldn’t achieve much.

The first step towards being productive is knowing when you’re not (which shouldn’t be that hard) and trying to fix it.

In the era of social media and increasing mental health issues, it’s easy to get distracted or loosing focus.

You think you’re only spending 5 minutes to check Victoria Beckham latest Instagram photo but she tags David, Brooklyn, Cruz and Romeo and you end up checking all 5 profiles for hours!!

Here’s what I did/am doing in order to be productive and it’s fairly working :

  • Adios notifications : I don’t think it’s FOMO but I really hate notifications. The moment I see or hear one, I have to check it out. I can’t stand having little notifications on my screen. I get emails, slack, facebook, Messenger, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp notifications. That’s simply a lot. Checking all of them is definitely a huge distraction and waste of time. That’s why, I disabled all notifications on my phone. Since then my life is much better. I do still check emails and Slack on my phone but on my own terms, same thing for Instagram.
  • To-do lists, To-do lists, To-do lists: I love those, I always did but I’m applying them more to my daily life after reading Sarah Knight’s book Get Your Shit Together. Every morning, while having my breakfast, I’ll spend half an hour writing down my To-do list.
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I do need to remind myself to floss. Do not judge.
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I asked Sam, the best barista in the entire world, if he wants to be on the blog and that’s the answer 😀

Now that I finished this post, I’m going to treat myself to a short break and checkout the Beckhams on Instagram 😀