2021 was something else both globally and personally. As I see others put forward their look-backs and goals, I thought about mine. There was a lot of things that were 💩 about 2021 for me. I started the year full of hope and then I went on a rollercoaster ride (and I'm like deathly afraid of rollercoasters).
In February, I got my first punch to the gut when I was diagnosed with depression. I felt like a failure for not being able to manage my stress. But in typical Em fashion, I developed a three prong approach for overcoming it.
Winter rolled into spring and the ups and downs continued. I developed a guided project course for Coursera on how to create an interactive KPI Dashboard in Tableau and wow, was it a lot of work! But also really cool. I also had the opportunity to write a Data Storytelling course, which was amazing! And, I had to make the decision that I needed to be pivot away from being a full-time entrepreneur in my lead generation quiz business. Entrepreneurship was the cause of stress (it's great in so many ways but when you go from a very healthy six figure salary to a moderate five figure income, with recurring expenses holding constant, it was causing more damage to me than I realized). When that decision was made though, it was like a weight had been lifted.
And, by the grace of God, I took another look at the Red Hat opportunity that I shared out and thought, "Maybe I could do this!". All of those years of contributing to the Tableau community (along with my work experience), paid off. This is where, if this was a movie, a wise woman would come in and say ,"The reward for unpaid work now will be greater in the future." TBH, I don't watch Hallmark or Lifetime movies, so I can only imagine this is what happens. In April, I joined Red Hat as Principal Business Intelligence Engineer/Tableau Enablement Consultant. Going from government to entrepreneurship to high tech is another rollercoaster, but this is one that I'm actually enjoying. I learn something new about myself and the organization every day.
Summertime came and I was invited to be an Advisory Board Member of the Data Leadership Collaborative. This was a dream come true for so many reasons. I LOVE leadership and on mental vision board, I want to a Board member to organizations, so this is a step closer in that direction. Matt and I podcasted one or two times, but it seemed like it was hard to keep going, which was a bummer, but I held out hope.
That scary rollercoaster came back over the summer. The family and I went on a proper vacation which was interesting and fun and relaxing (just what I needed). I was appointed the title of All American Mrs. Maryland Woman and then I had another punch to the gut. After seeing a new gastroenterologist and having a scan and later a biopsy, the Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) I had progressed and there was a little scarring on my liver (the too long, didn't google version of this is that my liver can gone from presumably healthy a few years ago to fatty liver and enlarged to being extremely fatty and the very beginning stages of being cirrhotic (that's what happens when your liver tissue scars). And finally, some of the other health issues I had were finally explained when a doctor diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia. And the kicker was, no matter what I tried, I couldn't lose the 45 pounds that I gained in an 18 period (BTW, that's not healthy, nor was intentional). I had all of these opinions on how to eat, what to do, and I just wanted to go inward, cry, and shut it all out. However, even though all of this was (and is) a lot to take, I am EXTREMELY thankful for having answers.
And I have to say, I put all of this out on the Twitters, because I felt like I didn't have to hide this part of who I am and I feel that psychological safety in my workplace that these issues are just a thing (and not something that precludes me from being a valuable employee).
But one of the highlights in spite of all of those health issues, is that I had to the opportunity to an accessibility presentation at the Tableau Conference. This is something that I've been wanting to do since 2016, when my talk didn't get to move forward to the next round. And I had this realization that while I though all of the accessibility advocacy I had been doing was for others--like my daughter or my dad--it was also for me. And that was a major epiphany on how I can reframe how we think about accessibility. This is motivation for the future.
There were some other things that happened towards the end of the year (new medicines for Fibromyalgia and one to help with weight), and I got a Peloton (emily1852 is my user name). All positive things! As I reflect back from a data vis perspective, I vizzed a couple of times, didn't podcast, and for the first time since I began the Tableau Fringe Festival, didn't hold a TFF. All of those things bum me out.
But as I thought goals for the future, the first thing that I came to mind was being healthy and happy. It sounds very Hallmark, but while there were a lot of punches to the gut, feeling like a failure, having amazing moments, the most prominent guiding principal for me, was: Can I do this and be healthy (eliminate/reduce stress, prioritize myself--which was Dr's orders), and does this make me happy? EVERYTHING else takes a back seat, which is hard for me who always likes to be involved and contributing. And while my thoughts sometimes go back to the failures or the not-enoughness (pretty sure that's not a word, but I'm rolling with it because it describes the thought perfectly), I ended the year happier and healthier than I started it.
So when one of my friends in the entrepreneur space was like, what are your business goals for 2022. I was at a loss. And I thought about my data vis goals, and was at a loss. I looked inward and here's what I came up with:
Be happy and healthy. If the work doesn't contribute to that, it's a no.
For my data vis, continue my accessibility advocacy work. Create more accessible vizzes as part of the Back to Viz Basics project.
For data leadership, continue to show up and start sharing more about my leadership experiences. I felt like I wasn't enough, but if I look at my prior work experience combined with now, I am enough.
For personal development, complete the two courses in the MS Analytics Georgia Tech Micromasters program and explore marketing analytics. Lean more into who I am.
Those goals feel good. And if I achieve them, that will be amazing and if not, then I'm still good enough.
Helping people and organizations begin their data visualization and Tableau journey. I'm a fan of training, Tableau, data viz, my kids, cupcakes, and karate.