kristarella.blog http://kristarella.blog Happiness Engineer at Automattic, lover of knitting, crochet, sci-fi and more Thu, 04 May 2017 08:37:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 https://i2.wp.com/kristarella.blog/wp-content/uploads/KRISTARELLAshoe.png?fit=32%2C32 kristarella.blog http://kristarella.blog 32 32 75424607 On Depression and Anxiety: happy places http://kristarella.blog/2017/05/on-depression-and-anxiety-happy-places/ http://kristarella.blog/2017/05/on-depression-and-anxiety-happy-places/#respond Thu, 04 May 2017 05:30:53 +0000 http://kristarella.blog/?p=5528 Last time I wrote about the voice in my head. I will write more about dealing with that another time. Today I want to write about the importance of happy places. Everyone has happy places. They are important for everyone, but they are extra important in managing depression and anxiety. These are not necessarily literal places, […]]]>

Last time I wrote about the voice in my head. I will write more about dealing with that another time. Today I want to write about the importance of happy places.

Everyone has happy places. They are important for everyone, but they are extra important in managing depression and anxiety. These are not necessarily literal places, they can be places (mental or physical), or activities, or a state (like having painted nails or wearing makeup).

One of the problems with depression and anxiety is that your emotional tank is empty. Maybe that’s thanks to the voice in your head wearing you down, or the chemicals in your brain being imbalanced, or some combination of those things making you so tired and antisocial that you can’t do all the daily activities that you didn’t even realise brought you satisfaction, and a sense of achievement.

When you are combatting depression and anxiety you need to figure out what your happy places are and go there daily. You need to force some happy into your emotional tank, even if it feels pointless.

When I was at my worst I used to take a little walk around my neighbourhood and swing on the swings at the park. It was something small, but it had fresh air, sunshine, walking, and a bit of fun.

Zentangle
Zentangle

One summer I drew Zentangles constantly. It was meditative, and skill-developing.

These days I love knitting, crochet, audio books, knots, and sitting at my favourite cafe in rain or shine.

These are my happy places. What are yours?

Swings image by Halfrain on Flickr

]]>
http://kristarella.blog/2017/05/on-depression-and-anxiety-happy-places/feed/ 0 5528
On Anxiety and Depression: the voice http://kristarella.blog/2017/04/on-anxiety-and-depression-the-voice/ http://kristarella.blog/2017/04/on-anxiety-and-depression-the-voice/#comments Thu, 06 Apr 2017 01:21:10 +0000 http://kristarella.blog/?p=5501 I have a voice in my head that almost constantly tells me how unhappy I am. Ugh, I’m so unhappy. Oh my god, I’m so sad. Fuck, I’m so angry… It whispers to me anytime there is a quiet moment that it can be heard. Sometimes it tells me other things, like how much I […]]]>

I have a voice in my head that almost constantly tells me how unhappy I am.

Ugh, I’m so unhappy. Oh my god, I’m so sad. Fuck, I’m so angry…

It whispers to me anytime there is a quiet moment that it can be heard.

Sometimes it tells me other things, like how much I hate stuff: myself, society, salad, the term High functioning anxiety1, Trump2… It even tries to tell me I hate things that I love, like my husband and my job.

The thing is, most of it is a lie, or some kind of malicious power of suggestion: it’s only true if I listen to the voice.

There are strategies for dealing with the voice that I have been taught and some have become a habit, but others I need to review and practice. I will write about these in coming weeks.

The first one is to challenge the reality of those thoughts.

Fight that lying voice in your head
It’s a beautiful autumn day: there’s sunshine, delicious breakfast and coffee, and a job I can do from anywhere. I am not sad!
  1. Why do we need to specify that you’re high functioning? People with anxiety, as with any other illness, are not all the same and are on a spectrum of severity, it also varies within the person, sometimes they function well, sometimes they don’t.
  2. I’ve started ignoring the news again because it was sucking all of my emotional stores.
]]>
http://kristarella.blog/2017/04/on-anxiety-and-depression-the-voice/feed/ 2 5501
I built a light box http://kristarella.blog/2017/02/i-built-a-light-box/ http://kristarella.blog/2017/02/i-built-a-light-box/#respond Mon, 27 Feb 2017 22:52:52 +0000 http://kristarella.blog/?p=5337 I am making an online store. It’s not ready yet; I’ll let you know when it is. The reason for the store is that I make so many things, but I don’t have use for all of them, so I thought I’d put them out there for others to buy. I want the product photos […]]]>

I am making an online store. It’s not ready yet; I’ll let you know when it is. The reason for the store is that I make so many things, but I don’t have use for all of them, so I thought I’d put them out there for others to buy.

I want the product photos to look nice: consistent lighting, plain background, easy to see the details of the work. The price to buy a ready-made photo box or tent can go from $20-200, or more. I haven’t actually seen any for AU$20 anywhere, but apparently you can get something that does the job on Amazon for the US$20 range. Really it’s going to be more like $60-120 and I’ll have to wait for shipping.

I decided I could make my own. There are lots of tutorials for making your own, many involve baking paper and a cardboard box. I wanted something a bit sturdier that I can also fold down or take apart to pack away, perhaps a bit like this. So I browsed my local hardware store to see what kind of pipes, poles, and corner connectors I could find. I found some copper-finish plumbing pipe corners and dowel that fits them perfectly!

Photography Light Box/Tent 1

I was hoping to be able to pass the dowel all the way through the 3-way connectors, reducing the amount of cutting I had to do, but alas, it wasn’t to be. I ended up cutting the top and back struts into three to add the 3-way connectors for the supports.

light-box

The materials I used are:

  • (8) 12.5 (d) x 500 (l) mm dowel
  • (12) 12.5 x 160mm dowel
  • (8) 15mm copper pipe corners
  • (8) 15mm copper pipe 3-way connectors
  • Loctite Super Glue Power Flex
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Hand saw
  • Tablecloth

And here’s a photo I took in the lightbox. Not too bad, I might need to tweak the processing, and iron the fabric under the items, but I’m otherwise happy!

crochet bracelets taken in lightbox

]]>
http://kristarella.blog/2017/02/i-built-a-light-box/feed/ 0 5337
A day in the life of a Happiness Engineer http://kristarella.blog/2017/02/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-happiness-engineer/ http://kristarella.blog/2017/02/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-happiness-engineer/#respond Tue, 21 Feb 2017 09:49:39 +0000 http://kristarella.com/?p=4466 There have been a number of day in the life posts that all provide a unique perspective on being a Happiness Engineer at Automattic. This week there are going to be even more! So what’s a Happiness Engineer (HE)? An HE is essentially a support person guru. You might also be wondering what Automattic is… it’s not […]]]>

There have been a number of day in the life posts that all provide a unique perspective on being a Happiness Engineer at Automattic. This week there are going to be even more!

So what’s a Happiness Engineer (HE)?

An HE is essentially a support person guru. You might also be wondering what Automattic is… it’s not a diagnostic device for your car! Automattic owns WordPress.com, as well as Akismet, VaultPress, Simplenote, CloudUp, Jetpack, WooCommerce, and some other things.

A notable aspect of work at Automattic is that it’s a distributed company and we all work remotely. So depending on how you set yourself up, each day can be as similar or different as you choose.

Today, Tuesday Feb 21, 2017, is by no means a regular day for me, but I thought that might make it all the more fun to post about.

07:00 – Tuesday is not a running day (we run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays), so my husband let me sleep in a bit and woke me up at 7. He gives me a summary of our pet rabbits’ exploits for the morning and then goes off to work. I chill out on the couch for a while checking Facebook, Instagram, listening to a book on Audible. Sometimes I check the news, but I wasn’t feeling brave this morning.

bircher-muesli
Bircher muesli with mango (even though today I had it with plum)

08:20 – I officially started the day with some Bircher Muesli that I made in bulk on the weekend.

08:40 – Headed out to grab a huge coffee from my favourite cafe in my WordPress Klean Kanteen

09:00 – Arrived at the hair dresser for a cut and colour. Set up my wifi and laptop to work while being pruned & preened.

While getting my hair coloured I am on live chat helping WordPress.com customers with things like getting their domains set up, setting up themes, refunds when they want to move to WordPress.org. I also chat with work mates via Slack about WordCamps, work strategies, HE training and the like.

hairdresser

11:55 – Finished at the hair dresser just in time to rush home for the next part of the day. I think it takes so long because I have so much hair!

12:00 – Training our latest HE trial in Sydney.

Automattic’s hiring process includes a 4-6 week trial, which is essentially doing the job of an HE on a paid-per-hour basis. It’s a great opportunity for both the applicant and the company to figure out if they are the right fit for each other.

While my trainee reads the material we need to discuss and answers sample questions I grab some lunch (a bagel and fruit) and reply to some support emails (we call them tickets).

I work from a variety of locations, including cafes, the couch, my low-rider camping chair, the dining table and maybe one day I’ll use my office again when I get the desk tidied up!

14:00 – Back on live chat. I usually chat for about 3 hours in the afternoon and if chat isn’t too busy I’ll reply to tickets too. Today I’m still training, so I’m going to try to chat and train at the same time.

During these three hours I’ll take a couple of short breaks for a cup of tea or something like that.

15:30 – Training is done for the day, so now I’m back to chat and tickets.

17:00 – Time to wrap up my remaining chats, finish off any tickets I assigned to myself earlier and follow-up on any chats that I couldn’t solve during the chat (none of those today though!).

17:40 – Finished work for the day. Time to think about cooking dinner.

18:30 – My husband and I eat dinner and watch an episode of Alias (or whichever show we’re into at the time).

19:30 – Tuesday is our group bible study night, so we head out to our group leader’s home.

21:30 – Home time, bed time.

Does this sound like a work day you could get into? Work with us!

]]>
http://kristarella.blog/2017/02/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-happiness-engineer/feed/ 0 4466
Gamifying Life http://kristarella.blog/2017/02/gamifying-life/ http://kristarella.blog/2017/02/gamifying-life/#respond Tue, 07 Feb 2017 21:54:18 +0000 http://kristarella.blog/?p=5296 I’m not good at building new habits, especially good ones. My husband is amazing at building new habits, and I’m not sure how he does it… It seems like he decides to do something and he just does it, day after day, never forgetting, never making excuses. As a society we spend much on motivation, […]]]>

I’m not good at building new habits, especially good ones. My husband is amazing at building new habits, and I’m not sure how he does it… It seems like he decides to do something and he just does it, day after day, never forgetting, never making excuses.

As a society we spend much on motivation, but motivation is not some magic thing that you have or you don’t, nor is it something you can wait for. Sometimes you have to make your own motivation, and while the feelings come and go, you need to just persevere with the activity.

We do things for one of two reason; either to avoid pain or to gain pleasure. Research shows that we’ll do far more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure.
Andrew Beatty

I’ve noticed recently that there are a few things I have been doing every day. I’m a little embarrassed that the main thing that has kept me going is the way these things, these apps, have gamified the act of a daily task.

I find myself not wanting to go to sleep each night before I make sure I’ve done my games, French practice, or bible reading for the day. I don’t want to break my streak!

Part of the way these streaks are motivating, at least in the case of Duolingo and YouVersion, is that they can be seen by other people. Accountability, or at least the potential for it, seems to be a much better motivator than my own satisfaction at doing a task. I think that supports the quote above: that we avoid pain (the shame or embarrassment of failing) harder than we seek pleasure.

Despite it being a bit embarrassing, if this is the way I can get things done that I’ve been wanting to do, I’ll take it! Now, what else can I apply this to?

]]>
http://kristarella.blog/2017/02/gamifying-life/feed/ 0 5296
Knotting things http://kristarella.blog/2017/02/knotting-things/ http://kristarella.blog/2017/02/knotting-things/#respond Wed, 01 Feb 2017 23:28:46 +0000 http://kristarella.blog/?p=5283 I am really enjoying knots and learning to tie new knots! I even figured out a knot that I couldn’t find anyone having written about! It’s #785 in The Ashley Books of Knots. I posted how to tie it on knots.blog: Long Crown & Diamond Knot (ABoK #785)  ]]>

I am really enjoying knots and learning to tie new knots!

I even figured out a knot that I couldn’t find anyone having written about! It’s #785 in The Ashley Books of Knots. I posted how to tie it on knots.blog:

Long Crown & Diamond Knot (ABoK #785)

 

]]>
http://kristarella.blog/2017/02/knotting-things/feed/ 0 5283
The future is everyone http://kristarella.blog/2017/01/the-future-is-everyone/ http://kristarella.blog/2017/01/the-future-is-everyone/#respond Sun, 22 Jan 2017 21:14:34 +0000 http://kristarella.blog/?p=5273 Let me start by saying I am in support of the women’s marches. It’s important that the women of the United States feel united, strong, encouraged to not despair over a president that so far seems to be not only sexist, but a bigot to boot. That said, I keep seeing this phrase, The future […]]]>

Let me start by saying I am in support of the women’s marches. It’s important that the women of the United States feel united, strong, encouraged to not despair over a president that so far seems to be not only sexist, but a bigot to boot.

That said, I keep seeing this phrase,

The future is female

and I don’t get it.

The future is female, sign at march
image credit: Matt Weigand, The Ann Arbor News
Is it like Black Lives Matter, where yes, everyone else’s life matters too, but black lives are the ones in danger? I could appreciate that, but Black Lives Matter, just like everyone else works better than The Future is Female, and everyone else

According to otherwild.com who sells the t-shirt that helped make the phrase a current sensation,

The original “The Future Is Female” T-shirt design was made for Labyris Books, the first women’s bookstore in New York City, which was opened in 1972 by Jane Lurie and Marizel Rios.

The owner of the online shop printing the shirts told the New York Times,

The shirt is about a reaction to a misogynist and patriarchal culture that affects a lot of people. People are recontextualizing it: trans women, men, moms who have sons.
Rachel Berks

So, I appreciate that the phrase has a historic context, that’s cool. However, I feel that it still embodies my least favorite side-effect of feminism: the denigration of men.

The future is everyone. People of every walk need to be heard, counted, supported…

Instagram Photo

If I have learned anything during my journey on Planet Earth, it is that people need one another. The presence of other people is essential; caring people, helpful people, interesting people, friendly people, thoughtful people. These folks take the grind out of life. About the time we are tempted to think we can handle things all alone, boom! We run into some obstacle and need assistance. We discover all over again that we are not nearly as self-sufficient as we thought.
Charles R. Swindoll, Laugh Again

If you like slogans there are plenty about equality, the power, determination, and strength of women, “no one is free when some are oppressed”, “liberty and justice for all”. Let’s not reduce the importance of men in the world because some men have done wrong.

]]>
http://kristarella.blog/2017/01/the-future-is-everyone/feed/ 0 5273
WordPress is mobile 📱 http://kristarella.blog/2017/01/wordpress-is-mobile-%f0%9f%93%b1/ http://kristarella.blog/2017/01/wordpress-is-mobile-%f0%9f%93%b1/#respond Sun, 15 Jan 2017 01:42:31 +0000 http://kristarella.blog/?p=5267 WordPress has had a mobile app for a long time, but you might not realise just how much it has improved! I find myself using it more and more to write posts, especially when I’ve taken pictures on my phone that I want to include. Check it out! This is on iOS. The layout is […]]]>

WordPress has had a mobile app for a long time, but you might not realise just how much it has improved!

I find myself using it more and more to write posts, especially when I’ve taken pictures on my phone that I want to include.

Check it out!

This is on iOS. The layout is a bit different on Android, but I hope the features are the same.

  1. You’ve got your three dots for more options, in which the post preview and post settings live.
  2. The media handling has gotten so much better! You have access to your phone’s library and all the albums, as well as your site’s media library. To access other albums (than camera roll) or the site’s media library just tap the drop down at the top middle of the media screen.
    • You can also adjust the settings for an image after it’s been inserted by tapping on the image to get the edit icon (pencil), then tap a second time to be able to change the title, caption, size and link.
  3. There is a visual and code editor (originally it was just the code editor)!
    I hope in the future the visual editor might include a “more” button to access things like headings and nested lists, but it’s pretty nice anyway.

You can use the app with self-hosted WordPress.org sites, with or without Jetpack installed, and WordPress.com sites.

Above is just the post writing screen, but you can also moderate comments, customize your site (if hosted on WordPress.com), and view stats (for WordPress.com and Jetpack sites).

If you have never used it, or haven’t tried it for a while, download it now

]]>
http://kristarella.blog/2017/01/wordpress-is-mobile-%f0%9f%93%b1/feed/ 0 5267
kristarella dot blog http://kristarella.blog/2017/01/kristarella-dot-blog/ http://kristarella.blog/2017/01/kristarella-dot-blog/#respond Thu, 12 Jan 2017 03:37:53 +0000 http://kristarella.blog/?p=5227 This site has had a change of domain! kristarella.com will continue to direct here, but in support of the launch of .Blog and because this has always been a blog, even when I was running a business, kristarella.blog is going to be my main domain now. As I mentioned in my 2016 review, Knock Knock WHOIS […]]]>

KRISTARELLA.blogThis site has had a change of domain!

kristarella.com will continue to direct here, but in support of the launch of .Blog and because this has always been a blog, even when I was running a business, kristarella.blog is going to be my main domain now.

As I mentioned in my 2016 review, Knock Knock WHOIS There launched the .Blog top-level-domain in November. It was an interesting experience! There’s lots of facets to it. The part that I was involved with was the registrar get.blog where we are trying to make the experience of owning a domain smoother and jargon-free. I might write more about that at another time.

knots.blog

I also happen to own knots.blog to document my recent affinity with knot-tying 🙂

If you want your own .Blog domain you can register one at get.blogWordPress.com, and your other favourite registrar might offer them too.

]]>
http://kristarella.blog/2017/01/kristarella-dot-blog/feed/ 0 5227
Org vs. Com http://kristarella.blog/2017/01/wordpress-org-vs-com/ http://kristarella.blog/2017/01/wordpress-org-vs-com/#respond Tue, 10 Jan 2017 07:29:19 +0000 http://kristarella.com/?p=4936 The eternal debate confusion decision: do I want WordPress.org or WordPress.com? Many people think the answer is always WordPress.org, and I used to be one of them. I have come to appreciate this is not necessarily the case. For those that don’t even know what I’m talking about: WordPress.org is the community website that provides the free WordPress software that […]]]>

The eternal debate confusion decision: do I want WordPress.org or WordPress.com?

Many people think the answer is always WordPress.org, and I used to be one of them. I have come to appreciate this is not necessarily the case.

For those that don’t even know what I’m talking about:

WordPress.org is the community website that provides the free WordPress software that you can install on any server and where you can use custom themes and plugins and basically do whatever you want.

WordPress.com is a hosted service for WordPress where WordPress is pre-installed and has a bunch of features built-in; they also provide support and manage software updates etc, but doesn’t allow 3rd-party themes and plugins to be uploaded.

It’s explained in reasonable detail in this support document, WordPress.com and WordPress.org. I also have a slide in one of my presentations summarising some of the differences:

WordPress.org compared to WordPress.com

I work for Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, and my primary role is supporting WordPress.com customers. Some pretty common things I hear are:

  • Where do I upload the theme I bought?
  • Where do I install plugins?
  • How do I get a refund? I didn’t realise I needed WordPress.org.
  • This platform is so limited, it’s frustrating!

That last one, especially, can make me pretty sad because I think our platform is great, and we help produce excellent sites. However, it’s also true that WordPress.com is not for everyone.

As Uncle Ben said,

With great power comes great responsibility

Sometimes, the flexibility you think you want in a site comes at too high a cost. That could be: a security cost: when installing your own site, you are primarily responsible for the security of that site; a management cost: you need to keep your software, plugins, and themes up to date, backed up; and you may need to figure out how to do things without much help from your web host.

On WordPress.com we take care of the hosting, upgrades, backups, security, and we have live chat support (currently 24/5, and US business hours weekends, working up to 24/7).

There is a middle ground, and that is WordPress-specific hosting (such as Pressable and WP Engine). Usually, these combine the flexibility of WordPress.org with the benefits of WordPress.com that I’ve already mentioned, but for some people, these too will come at too high a cost… that is, the price tag. I think these services are actually great value, but they do cost more than cheap hosting.

There have been some great info-graphics on this subject before, but I think most are out of date, so I’ve made another for you!

Download PDF
Download PNG

WordPress in any format is an excellent publishing tool, but not everyone wants to use it the same way, and that’s why these different platforms exist! The other good news is that you can always transfer your content from one to the other if you find wp.org or wp.com isn’t working for you and you want to try the other.

Yay for freedom!

]]>
http://kristarella.blog/2017/01/wordpress-org-vs-com/feed/ 0 4936