30×30 Day 21

On my windy back roads drive home from mountain biking this afternoon, I passed by a couple ladies waving at my car. I stopped to see if they needed help.

“Sorry! We thought you were someone else!”
“All good, I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“Aww, thank you so much!” Instant smiles.

It was interesting how many considerations I had to make in what amounted to a second, to decide that stopping to check on them outweighed potential risks.

Related to my ride today, Aaron caught a ride with me to the start location, and packed a cooler of drinks and snacks for me and my friends to enjoy after. It was a wonderful post-ride treat.

This 30 Days is great. Three weeks in and I’m noticing other people’s active contributions.

30×30 Day 20

I stopped by REI this morning for a few things: a return, an exchange, and pickup.

When I arrived at the customer service counter, there were two employees there, working on something. They didn’t seem particularly interested in customer service.

Finally, they wrapped up their various tasks. One of them assumed her position at the register and gave me the next-in-line look. (I was the only person in line.)

Up until this moment, I’d been assessing the situation, had resolved not to jump to any conclusions or take anything personally, and to give them the benefit of the doubt.

I greeted her with a smile. “Good morning!”

I explained all the things I was there for. She was objectively helpful, but I found myself wondering if customer service was the right job for her.

I went off to find my exchange item. When I returned, I kept at it, drawing her into non-transactional conversation with positivity and cheer.

When we finished, I thanked her by name. She had a grin on her face from ear to ear, and before I could wish her a good day, she wished me a great one.

This, I can truly call an active contribution.

I may not be able to change the world in one fell swoop, but I can help make it better, one interaction at a time.

30×30 Day 19

I was last one out at the end of taiko make-up class tonight. I spotted a pair of abandoned socks under a chair. Though I wasn’t sure if they belonged to a classmate, I decided to grab them, knowing it would extra effort to find the owner in a class I don’t normally attend.

Caught up with one of my classmates in the parking lot. Turns out they were his socks. Reunited!

30×30 Day 18

I had a magical 90 minutes free for lunch today. It was beautiful out, and I decided to walk to the local food truck park.

I thought about just taking off. I’m much more comfortable just doing my own thing. But I had teammates in the office, and I thought they might like to have a walk as well.

I invited them to come. They said yes, and recruited more people.

Six of us enjoyed a nice walk, some outdoor time, and a chance to get to know each other better.

Getting over my introversion has been really rewarding.

30×30 Day 17

In my current role, I often find myself with nonstop meetings from the moment I arrive at the office through the end of the workday. It took me a while to adjust to this, context switching every 30-60 minutes and not having any tangible output (code) to show for it.

I’ve since settled in to this new normal. I realize that I contribute not in code, but in making bigger picture connections, mentoring others, and helping us build our team.

I had trouble coming up with my active contribution today, so I looked at my calendar and replayed the day in my head.

  • Went to work early to help work out details for a colleague’s project.
  • Volunteered and showed one of my team members how to do something black box mysterious to them.
  • Helped another team member understand their infrastructure, and how to gather that information.
  • Pitched in with production support to let one of our SREs focus on his project.
  • Mentored a colleague from a different part of the company.

This was all optional. I could have postponed the meeting, not volunteered, not answered in detail, not pitched in, not taken the time to be a mentor.

I could have not done all those things, but we’re stronger as a whole because I did.

30×30 Day 16

At taiko class on Tuesdays we unstack a bunch of chairs for our stuff at the beginning of class. At the end of class, I always help restack them.

Leave no trace.

30×30 Day 15

Choosing in a moment of annoyance not to complain, because that complaint was not actionable, and would only have added negativity to the world.


30×30 Day 14

I woke up today with plans to ride my bike and catch up on a long list of to-dos piled up from my week away.

“Good morning!” Aaron said, “I was waiting for you to wake up to see if you wanted to go to Sea Otter.”

I decided to go to Sea Otter. How could I not, after he’d waited for me to wake up?

We had a great day. I can take care of my to-dos later.

30×30 Day 13

It was beautiful out today, and in the afternoon Penny asked to look for bugs in the backyard. We spotted a big fat ant crawling on some rocks. “I’m gonna step on it,” she declared as she lifted her foot.

My contribution to the world today: Shifting “I’m gonna step on it” into “It’s just minding its own business, let’s leave it alone.”

One might argue that this is flawed logic, because ants are evil creatures that invade your home and eat your beloved peanut butter. But I consider that an exception case. Let’s start with thinking about what we’re extinguishing and why before doing so.

30×30 Day 12

1a. I made sis a coffee today because she felt tired, then helped watched the little ones later so she could rest.

1b. Sis spent the day hanging out with me and driving to Somerville for lunch, despite being tired.

2a. Mom made sticky rice cakes for us to enjoy, and so she could show Penny how they were made.

2b. I wrapped them for her as she made them, and to keep her company.

Active giving is multidirectional.