My Writings. My Thoughts.
[Content warning - this post includes personal health details about a joint condition]
I was diagnosed, at age 18, with a condition called joint hypermobility syndrome (HMS). Every tendon in my body is either too long or too stretchy. This causes me to be very flexible, yes, but it’s also dangerous since every movement puts me in danger of injuring, partially dislocating (i.e. subluxing) or fully dislocating any joint in my body. My joints crack and pop constantly. Mainly affected are my shoulders, hips and jaw.
All of my muscles work overtime to compensate and keep me together and functioning, which leads to aches and pains as well as chronic fatigue. I need to carefully plan each day to avoid wearing myself out and/or being sore for days after. If I’m tired, exercising or getting out of the house is not likely to help; it will simply make me feel worse.
This fatigue has in turn weakened my immune system and thrown off various hormone levels in my body. Until I had my tonsils removed, I was very often sick with bacterial and viral infections.
In other words, I’m a mess.
So what can I do? Not a whole lot, really. I can work to strengthen my core muscles to help stabilize my body. Exercises to strengthen other muscle groups such as my shoulders or knees have proven to be not very effective. Acupuncture, healing touch massage and hot baths help quite a bit.
I see a naturopathic physician who has helped me immensely, and we are aiming to mitigate the secondary effects by boosting my immune system and finding the best diet for me. I think a whole-body approach, rather than focusing on one system, is beneficial for me (and probably a lot of other people with chronic illnesses).
For years I ignored how much my joint condition affected everything in my life – now I always ask myself if it’s the root of any problem I’m having. This approach has allowed me to make some improvements and enjoy life more.
This site has changed a lot over the years. It started out as a portfolio to showcase my work when I was looking for a job. Then it became a blog plus a portfolio, and as you may have noticed, now it doesn’t look like a portfolio at all! Recently I’ve been writing things for myself about a wide range of subjects, and I decided I wanted to blog about these things, and realized this was just the place.
What will become of my design portfolio? I am planning on posting some of my work on another site that is related to the company I own, but that’s not the whole story.
I’ve always been artistic and for as long as I can remember I taken art classes, including nearly every art class available in junior high, high school and college. I majored in Fine Art with Graphic Design; every job I’ve had since then as been a design job… essentially the driving force of my life was design. As I’ve grown up, I’ve slowly begun to discover and develop other interests. I still love design – its my job and I’m good at it – but its not my singular passion.
So what other interests have I been pursuing?
In the past few years, I’ve started to be very interested in gardening, ecology and botany, as well as plant photography and I’ve been documenting those adventures here: www.gardeningboise.com This is my main focus right now, and is something I hope to develop much further.
Other than that, I hope to write about books, history, writing, travel, my cats, feminism, my health issues, music, cooking and baking. I have always loved to read, and always have a huge stack I’ve borrowed from the library.
I’ll be turning 30 this year, and I’m always amazed at how much has changed and yet how much has stayed the same in my life! I’m excited for another 30!
RIA Fox works with a local high school called Meridian Technical Charter High School, providing internship opportunities for the students. We’ve had interns from two of the technology pathways available at the school: Media Arts and Programming. I am, of course, the Internship Coordinator for the Media Arts students.
Recently, I was invited to speak at the Girls in Tech lunch at the school, which is a monthly event for the young women at the school. I was very excited about this opportunity! It was great to meet all the girls and share some of my experience.
While I was preparing for my talk, I started to realize how wild and amazing my career journey has been so far! I feel like I talked a LOT while I was at the school, but there was still more I would have liked to say! I thought I’d post here, supplementing my talk and providing some resources as well.
I am one of those lucky people who knew what career path I wanted to follow very early on. I have always been interested in art, and I have always been interested in computers. In 10th grade, I took a Communication Arts class, and I realized that I could combine art and computers! I knew that was the type of career I’d like to pursue, and so far it has been very fulfilling for me.
I attended Albertson College of Idaho (now College of Idaho) and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts with a concentration in Graphic Design. Because this was back in the days when web design was still in its beginning stages, we mainly focused on print design principles (many of which can be used on the web as well). For our independent studies we could choose something based on our own interests, and I spent most of my time learning about Adobe Flash.
My junior and senior years I participated in Yearbook Club, which was a huge learning experience. Getting pages done on time (and pestering the photographers to get their pictures to me) and working with a large group to put together this huge project were some of the best skills I’ve gained, ones that are hard to get in a classroom environment. I also discovered an intense dislike of the publishing program called Quark!
I did a short internship building a website for a counselor for domestic violence on my campus. And one summer I worked for a company that made website templates. Looking back on both of these jobs, I remember the type of designs we produced and am glad I have improved, and glad the general quality of web designs has improved.
During my career I’ve gone back and forth between print work, web design and user interface design for applications. I’ve worked a little with Flash Actionscript programming as well, but it’s not my strongest skill.
My first job out of college was at a real estate company, building the weekly ads that ran in the paper. This process took most of the week, and I didn’t have much time to work on more challenging and fulfilling projects. Eventually we contracted with a programmer named Ben Whitaker, one of my current coworkers, and built a web application that improved the process significantly. After that, I was able to branch out more into designing logos, subdivision ads and improving the look of our weekly ads.
Soon after, I decided to take a offer to work with Ben at a web development company he started called Flat Planet. It allowed me to get back to web design, the type of work I really enjoyed. Here I found myself the lone woman among a group of pretty geeky guys! We did end up hiring another woman designer, and that was a lot of fun.
Flat Planet eventually merged with a marketing company, and as that company already had a designer, both of us were laid off. I went to work with another real estate company in town, doing just about the same thing I did at the previous real estate company. We did publish a magazine while I was working there, and that was a great experience. Print projects to me are a lot of work, and not always enjoyable, though the tangible end product is awesome to have.
Finally I was starting to get pretty burnt out at this company, and left to work with my coworkers from Flat Planet. We started another company, called RIA Fox, and that’s where we are today. I mainly do web designs, including some templates, and applications. Sometimes I work on print projects, including brochures and other advertising.
At RIA Fox, we have a few projects that we really focus on. One is Agent Identity, which is a real estate management tool for agents. We are partners with yet another real estate company, and they help us develop the features on the site.
Our other project is one of my favorite sites we’ve ever done. It’s called TweetStyle, and it provides background images for Twitter profiles. I’ve done quite a few free designs, but we also offer custom design services.
I enjoy working in a small company compared to the larger companies I’ve been employed at. I feel more free to express myself creatively, and expand my horizons. A student at the high school asked me why I’ve stayed here in Boise instead of going to a bigger city to work in a design studio or something similar. I answered that mainly its a comfort-zone thing; I’ve lived here most of my life and like living here. However, I thought about the question more, and I realized its more than that. I really like the creative community here. I’ve participated in the Adobe Graphic Design Group and the Adobe Developer Group for a few years, and have met some amazing people. I feel like Boise is really up-and-coming as a technology oriented city, and I’d rather be here on the ground floor, so to speak, than go to a city that is more established.
One of the most important things for a woman in the tech field is personal connections. Get out and meet people, as well as networking online. Keep in touch with those people. They are the ones that will have the great ideas and if they remember you, you might be part of the next big thing.
Design as a whole is a constantly changing field. A college education can only get you so far, after that you will have to keep up on all the trends, design applications, and skills yourself! At times it is an overwhelming task. My advice is to try different things, keep practicing, and find a niche for yourself if possible.
I have a list of articles and sites I’ve found helpful here: http://delicious.com/megsutton
This past Wednesday we drove down to Salt Lake City to go to the Adobe User Group meeting. Ryan Stewart did a presentation highlighting some of the new features of Flex 4, Cold Fusion 9 and Catalyst. I am very interested in Catalyst, and I’m excited to continue working with it.
It was awesome to meet Ryan, I’ve read his blog for a long time and was surprised he was the one presenting!
We also had a chance to see Jon’s mom, his sister and her husband. We pretty much drove all over the SLC area! Then we drove back home that same night, we didn’t think we needed to find a place to stay! It was a good trip and I’m glad we went.
I just wish I had had time to go to Ikea!
This past weekend I went to Haviland, KS to visit family. My aunt has a farmhouse, a barn, and some other buildings that all had intriguing wood textures. Also included is the firehouse door.
These textures are free to download and use.
Enjoy! Quite a few of my other Kansas pictures are on my Flickr page, check them out!
Previously just a portfolio site, megsutton.com is now a blog and portfolio site!
I’ve wanted to have a professional blog for some time, and the beginning of the new year seemed like the perfect time to get started! I have been waiting for the inspiration to strike concerning the design of the site… and it just wasn’t forthcoming. So I decided I’d just get going on it and use a template from an awesome WordPress template site – WooThemes. I’d rather get started blogging and then update the design when I get some time and inspiration.
Important posts, such as project posts and articles can be quickly accessed from the links on the left.
Thank you for visiting my site! Drop me a comment or visit some of my social profiles.
Not too long ago I started a blog called Geekilicious. It was my place to talk about everything geeky – because I’m a total geek.
I decided to move my focus to this personal site, and close Geekilicious. I will still post geeky things, here, under the category “geeking out”!