Archive for December, 2010

I love baking. I’m making brownies today. To have all these raw ingredients, like eggs, sugar and flour and being able to turn them into something yummy makes me feel like I’ve actually achieved something. Making a lasagna from fresh self-made pasta and veggies and herbs makes me feel proud of myself. To me, this has more value than the ease and speed of using what I call ‘package food’. Of course, not every day allows me to do this. But still. I love it.

I’m a creator. I love creating something from nothing. I love combining existing things to make something new. Come to think of it, all the things I love doing most (creating music, writing, pondering, being creative, using my hands (click on any link at the right of this page 🙂 )) have this one thing in common. I’m a creator. I just need to build things.


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I love this guy. His music not only makes me happy, he also says a lot of wise things! I wish there was a way to show him my gratitude for being an inspiration. Thanks to the modern world with all its ways of expressing your personal views, I get to read his blog posts and most of them never fail to conjure up a smile on my face. With writing these blog posts, mr. Mraz actually succeeds in making his audience feel close and connected. Bravo to him.

I hope you enjoy his post as much as I did. Some great new ways of viewing the world are packaged in his wonderful way with words. Enjoy!

Now Here’s Resolutions

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I’m immensely grateful for the amount of luck we have received the past couple of years as a family.

I’m immensely grateful of the amount of love that was at the kitchen table at Christmas.

I’m immensely grateful of the hope we all feel when looking in the eyes of our newest family member who is now 4 months old.

I’m immensely grateful that the distance that we have to cross to be together is not too great for us to overcome.

I’m immensely grateful of the opportunities that are given to us, or that we create for ourselves.

I’m immensely grateful of the choices we have made that turned out to be just what we needed.

I’m immensely grateful of the support our family gives us, even though sometimes that must be hard.

I’m immensely grateful for all the friends I have and for all the appreciation that they show me. I’m honored to call myself your friend.

I’m immensely grateful for the fun I’m having every day.

I’m immensely grateful for life as it is right now.

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I’m no good at drawing. But, as with other things, I’m learning not to mind that, which helped me in my latest project at work.

I’m also a big fan of Infographics. If you’re not familiar with this way of conveying information, you’re in for a treat! I think they make things understandable, simple, fun and memorable. Things that are always important when you’re trying to get your information across.

At my work at InTAAL, we’re making a new product. I always start with a product vision (what should it do, what do we take into account, what’s our opinion on how it should work and for whom, what’s the basic idea that will make it different from similar products, etc. Don’t worry, I probably will do a blog post on design visions someday.) I could not get into the flow and started making my own design vision infographic. It’s not very slick, but I had fun doing it and it felt very useful. Now we have something to point at, something to keep in our minds while designing the product and something that we can communicate to other people. I’m pretty happy with the result. Tell me what you think!

An infographic is basically one huge poster. The difference with a poster is, that it actually has more than only an invitation. It strives to contain all the information you need on one subject. It makes use of all the graphical trickery you can imagine, which help you understand the information better.

The trick of making a good infographic is to use your space and also very much the size of the things you put on it. Things that need to be noticed first have to be HUGE (such as the subject of the infographic). Things like explanations or further details can be small. Futhermore, you can go wild on all the other graphical tricks you can find, like flow diagrams, maps and icons. There are a lot of pictures and drawings in there, since we are all convinced that a pictures says more than a thousand words. It’s a big challenge to put everything you want to say on one sheet of paper, but it’s a good (although very different) process of organizing data. It also allows you to put more information in there than you’d initially think possible. Some people are very creative when it comes down to presenting information visually, which goes from the flag of the United States turning into a stock market graph to the height of buildings indicating how many people live in a city (just google on infographic images and you’ll find more examples).

I think these are so great because making one forces you to think about the levels of information you have. It forces you to be concise (something I have to practice) and play with your information. You guide your reader through all the different levels you provide them and if you did it well, you just made your reader a discovery through the subject of the infographic. It makes learning about things fun. It makes writing about things fun. The creativity part is undeniable. And they just simply look better than a bunch of words sitting in a Word-document (no matter how well written and how well organized the document is).

Here are some great examples of infographics that I came across:

infographic User Centred Design (a must see for all of you who want to know what I do for a living and what my company will be all about! And a very good infographic which makes use of all its benefits)

infographic about a hangover (make it smaller by hitting Ctrl + – for a couple of times and notice the different levels you see. First you notice the guy and the title, then you might notice the arrows and then you might start reading letters)

Inception infographic (it can be about anything!)

infographic about smoking (amazing how much information you can put in one of these things!)

infographic about cheap and good wines (I like the way they make the subject clear immediately. The reader does not have to do any effort to understand it’s about wine.)

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This has been a theme in my life the last couple of days. I’d like to share my thoughts with you and hope to hear your opinion!

A couple of years ago I promised myself to be true to my own wishes, when social things are involved. Every time I go somewhere or do something, I should check with myself whether I really WANT to do it, be it parties, birthdays, meetings, dinners, social gatherings, concerts, or other things, even things you have already paid for. It requires some discipline because saying no at the last moment is sometimes very difficult, but I think I’ve mostly mastered the concept. I always try to be honest about it and tell my friend that I’m not coming to her birthday party after all, because I really need to spend some time sitting on my own couch at home. This is sometimes tricky, but it is possible, although it requires having the courage to be imperfect. It works out most of the time. I haven’t lost any friends due to this behavior yet (maybe due to the fact that they know they can do it too), and it certainly works for me.

It is not until now that I understand why I find this so important.

The key word here is value. If I go somewhere, but rather had stayed home, the value of going there is less than it should be. My thoughts would be at home, and I may not enjoy myself as much as I could. (Another strategy is, of course, to get over yourself and go anyway, and have a good time, but sometimes I’m not able to get myself motivated enough to do that). If I act on my feeling and don’t go, the next time I really DO want to go somewhere has the correct amount of value simply because it is what I want. I have discovered that this lifestyle helps me to only do things that have value to me at that exact moment. And by doing that, the value somehow increases. It also helps me to distinguish between what I find important and what I find less important. And, I think, it helps others because they can rely on the fact that if I show up, I think it’s worth being there.

It has to do with living life to the fullest. And knowing what you want at that moment.

Of course, this does not let you off the hook for your sister’s wedding because you have a giant hangover. If you then choose to stay home to sleep it out, because that’s what you really want, I suggest you reconsider the value of those two possible actions. (But that’s just me.)

So. From this moment on, and you will all be my witnesses, I solemnly pledge that I will only do things that have value. (And here, things can be something small like commenting on Facebook, something in the middle like deciding to spend the weekend with my parents, or something big like moving house.) I’ll use this as a criterion for making conscious decisions and for knowing what I want. And, don’t worry, fun has value too!

This value can be defined on three different levels:

Value for myself: A friend of mine wrote a blogpost about how he makes a living doing what he loves. I also attempt to put time and effort in those things I love doing. I’m writing this blog post right now because I think it enhances my experience and I love feeling connected because it helps me accumulate all those things in my life I find worth thinking about and doing. To me, life is one big opportunity to gain experiences worth having, to find value in everything I do (no matter how small) and with that, enrich my life.

Value for others: I hope by being me, I can add value to other people’s lives. I like starting small, so this will show in helping out a friend, encouraging people in what they’re doing, showing gratitude, spreading positive thoughts, listening to people and try to add to their lives in whichever way I can. A smile here and there can’t hurt either. I hope I can be of value to other people’s lives, even though I don’t really know how. I think every person in the world is already doing this, just by existing. Thank you for being you is the biggest compliment you can give someone.

Value to the world: This I try to do in my work. I have certain things I believe in and want to make the world a better place by acting them out and maybe along the way, convincing people this is needed. Sometimes it feels like there is still a long way to go, but that doesn’t daunt me (ok, it does a bit, but I’m good at ignoring it).
I also do this by having volunteer work. It makes me feel I’m giving back.
Also, I try to avoid buying and doing things that may decrease the value of the world. And from now on, I’ll try donating to all those things, big or small, which I find valuable.

These different levels once again show my thoughts about starting small. By adding value for myself and sharing it, I hope it spreads to others I know, which I hope in turn might make the world a better place.

On a professional level, this is why value-based-pricing (waardebepaling achteraf) is my model for any work I do or any service I provide. It matches my thoughts and opinions. I’ll give you something, you decide what you think its value is and give me something in return. It is as simple as that. And I’d very much like to live in a world in which that works.

So. I hope this blog post (and as a matter of fact, the whole blog) is of value to you. I know it is of value to me because it facilitates me to express myself and share with others. And hopefully, it adds value to the world.

Add your own value by letting me know your thoughts on the subject!

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This is me. Pushing my own boundaries.

For the longest time (and still) I have not dared to post any of my music anywhere. Shame, fear, a feeling it’s not good enough, a feeling you can do so much better, thoughts about what has been and that’s what you are, thought that all the stuff I do now is so much inferior to what I used to do. All mixed into a soup of cowardice. I won’t do anymore. This is also part of me. No matter what other people might think. No matter it’s standard and not original. It’s something that I created. So by definition it’s part of me.I should stop identifying with the past and start acknowledging this is MY music too. So here it is.

This is me. Getting my music out there.

*squeezes her eyes shut and pastes the link*

*pfff.. sigh…that’s good practice for the 10s10w that’s coming up*

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Daily commute

Sometimes, words seek each other out at the back of my mind and together they find their way to the surface of my awareness.

Daily commute

In the early hours of the morning
I escape the world with words that sprang from the minds of others
While a technological achievement of human kind
takes me to where I need to be
through the back of the world.

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