Reyndeer Bits & Bytes

A personal recap of 2020

I bet a lot of people where quite optimistic about 2020, before it started. I know I was. I was making plans on both personal and professional level. Plans that would've meant a big change for me.

2020 was the year that we (Eva and me) were going to officiate womendotcodebe as an official non-profit organisation (also known as a vzw / asbl here in Belgium). I did my research and looked for accountant/bookkeeping firms that had experience with vzw's and contacted nearly a dozen or more.

It was rough, one after the other rejected or ignored us, or worse kept stringing us along. To me, it seems like there aren't that many who are specialised in vzw's. Covid-19, certainly hasn't made it easier, since 90% of the rejections were because firms aren't able to keep up with the constant changes due to the pandemic.

And honestly, after that last person who just kept stringing us along for +6 months, I reached that point where I just have had enough of all that crap. I was exhausted and demotivated. So I decided to put the idea on ice for a while.


So far I have been lucky, that my family and I haven't been infected with Covid, which I'm grateful for.
But, I do worry about my health.

Last year, I learned that the illness I have been diagnosed with several years back had started to worsen my physical and medical condition. An incurable vestibular disorder called Ménière's disease is the root cause for my hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo & disequilibrium, excessive stress and some other conditions I won't bore you with.

I know I have to come to terms with this, which is still an ongoing process for me. The hearing aids that should help me adjust to my condition, have some undesirable side effects, which in turn is making this harder than it probably needs to be.

But recently, I accepted that I am hearing impaired and have to wear hearing aids in order to be able to participate in a lot of social and professional activities again. Before this I was becoming more and more isolated, often people surrounding me had no idea why I was so quiet or why I didn't really interact with the group. So I think I can already call my acceptance a small victory.

Which brings me to my career plans.

Career Plans

Next to the preparations for the vzw, I was taking some steps to steer my career in a different direction. Normally, I would've been enrolled in a certain program, but due to the impact of the pandemic this was delayed and eventually my plans fell completely through. Ever since I have been aimlessly roaming around not knowing what to do or what to focus on. But since I'm not one who can sit still and do nothing, I invested all that time and energy in the womendotcodebe community.

In the meantime I knew I was training skills, that might come in handy later. Skills such as interviewing womxn who code for our blog series, compiling a new edition of our newsletter every month, working with volunteers, organising online events, and a lot more... Sometimes I'm surprised how many different tasks need to get done in our little community. But I can honestly say that I'm thoroughly enjoying the variation and satisfaction I get from being able to work on something like this.

I can only hope that we are making a positive impact on the lives of the womxn met through womendotcodebe and have a positive influence on the Belgian tech scene.

An emotional rollercoaster

This year has been an emotional rollercoaster. Feelings of being frustrated and powerless, anxious and frightened to get sick, trapped, lonely, angry, depressed... you name it... All have passed, some still linger.

But I know there are also good things to look back to and good feelings to remember. And those are the ones I want to hold onto.

A few highlights

When I look back at the things I have been working on during this year, I feel that I have learned, progressed and worked on quite a lot of different things and also managed to get tons of stuff done for womendotcodebe.

  • I worked on 10 or more design-related projects, varying from small to medium sized.
    Whenever I'm out of a project or inspiration, I now work on smaller challenges to improve my skills.
  • I managed to work on at least 8 coding-related projects, varying from new projects to maintaining & optimising existing projects.
    • This helped me improve my React skills
    • I created several websites with Eleventy, Gatsby and Middleman. Both Reyndeer Games & Reyndeer Tech are amongst that list 😊.
    • Learned more about accessibility & applied what I've learned so far.
    • Started to learn a new programming language by building small games. Will post more on this soon.
  • Oh and my GitHub profile got featured in an article on x-team! 🤩

For womendotcodebe I:

  • started building a small network of volunteers
  • interviewed 9 different womxn for our spotlight series
  • wrote 10 monthly newsletter editions, with the help of our volunteer Federica ❤️
  • have written several blogposts
  • organised several events (TechTalks, info sessions, network events, after work hangouts...)
  • researched and prepared the kickoff of our free community memberships
  • started doing member & volunteer onboarding sessions
  • made a couple of new connections along the way ✨
  • am currently conducting UX research and am still looking for a few more people!

Other things amongst the highlights of this year are the wonderful hikes through the Belgian country, new inspiration for cooking healthier meals, enjoying the storylines of immersive games such as Red Dead Redemption 2... our fixed weekend board game sessions and the few short moments with friends & family.

What's next?

In 2021, I'm going to focus more on living in the moment and continuing to find ways to make my life more meaningful. I have always been like this, but this year was a little different.

Somewhere in June/July I woke up one day and just couldn't cope anymore with the the constant stream of devastating news:

How humans are abusing helpless animals. How our consumerism is fuelling pollution, food waste (studies have shown that 1/3 of all food produced globally is lost or goes to waste!!!) and speeding up climate change and depletion of natural resources. How we are killing this beautiful planet and seem to care more about endeavours in space and having all these luxury goods in our life, than the future we leaving behind for the next generations to come...

In terms of my professional life, I'm currently still struggling. I feel like I have a lot to offer, but that it's hard to find out where I can put my skills to good use, apart from the womendotcodebe community. On top of that I want to start slow, like 2 days a week.

Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter if you have any tips or questions.