Skip to content

Category: Cathrine’s Corner

These are more personal posts where Cathrine reflects and shares her thoughts, feelings, experiences, goals and updates.

Microsoft Data Platform MVP 2021-2022: Vaccinated Edition

It’s July 1st, 2021, and I’m currently sitting here with a slightly sore arm and all the emotions. Why? Because… First, I got my first Pfizer shot. Then, I was renewed as a Microsoft Data Platform MVP 2021-2022! 🥳🤓😭🤩😁

Cathrine Wilhelmsen smiling with a bandaid on her arm after getting vaccinated and being renewed as a Microsoft Data Platform MVP 2021-2022

The Vaccine

I’ll start with the most personal thing… the vaccine. This past year has been difficult, as it has been for so many of us. I’m extremely privileged to live in Norway, my family is safe and healthy, I have a secure job, and I know so very well that I’m one of the incredibly lucky ones. But I also lost most of my life when the pandemic started. I could no longer travel to meet my friends, help others by speaking at events, or do any of the things that have been my most important coping mechanisms for my mental health.

Last spring I was constantly afraid, I struggled to sleep and focus, and I couldn’t keep up with work. The result was that I crashed hard. I took a break from everything and even shut down my website for a while because everything was overwhelming. By the end of summer, I thought that things were slowly getting better. They weren’t. In October, I realized that I had completely burned out, finally asked for help from my boss and my doctor, and ended up on sick leave. I thought I’d be fine after a couple of weeks, while my boss smiled and kindly told me to prepare for a rollercoaster ride that would last for months. He was right, of course. It took me 8 months before I was back working full-time. And I’m still not back to my old self yet.

But now… I feel hopeful. I get to go into the office again in August to see my coworkers, and do things I used to take for granted like go out for a coffee or visit the library. Maybe I get to see friends again before the end of the year. (It’s been two long years without them!) Things are slowly starting to feel more normal, instead of everything being scary and overwhelming. Getting the vaccine is the first step in starting to live again and not just getting through the days, and I am so ready for that!

Phew! That was… a lot 😊

Microsoft Data Platform MVP 2021-2022

On top of all those 👆🏻 emotions, I was renewed as a Microsoft Data Platform MVP 2021-2022! 🥳 I don’t feel like I deserve the award this time because I haven’t been able to do much this past year, but I am so, so, so grateful that Microsoft showed empathy and understanding and decided to give me another chance 💙

I’m excited, and that’s a feeling I haven’t felt for a while. It feels good. I’m looking forward to a sort of kind of new start? Or maybe a refresh? F5. Let’s go with that one 🤓

Personal Highlights from 2019

It’s December 31st, 2019. WHAAAAAT? 🤯 I have no idea how we’re almost in 2020, but here we are! Just a few hours left of the year. (Hi to my friends around the world who are already in 2020! 👋🏻) Like many others, I enjoy reflecting on the year that’s almost over. This year, I’ve decided to collect some of my highlights from 2019.

(Warning! There will be lots of tweets and pictures.)

This is a total brag fest that I’m writing solely for myself. It’s my 2019 highlight reel that I can look back on when days get rough and I need a reminder that life is actually pretty awesome and I’m insanely lucky and privileged to be here. And when we get to 2025, future Cathrine can re-read everything and go “oh yeah, I remember that, we were so young and inexperienced back then, awww!” …like I do now with my old posts. It’s fun. You should try it! 😁

Lessons Learned in 2019

I also started writing about some of the more difficult parts of my year and what I learned from it… And in the middle of it, I realized that I’m not quite ready to share those thoughts yet. I still have lots of processing to do before I can turn my struggles into any kind of useful advice for others. I’m hoping to be able to do that in 2020.

But for now, I’ll share the short version:

Mark Manson taught me The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and it changed my life.

After reading that book in 2018 and reflecting on it for all of 2019, I’ve started learning to take responsibility for my own feelings, to set healthy boundaries for myself, and to choose my f*cks wisely.

So should you 💙

Continue reading →

Bullying, triggers, reactions, and reflections

After spending a week at MVP Summit with old and new friends, I feel energized. My brain has been refilled with lots of happy memories :)

And one not-so-happy memory:

One. Just one negative experience during an otherwise fantastic week. One negative experience that objectively really wasn’t that big of a deal, followed by an absolutely overwhelming number of replies full of love and support. (Thank you 💙) And yet, this one negative experience has dominated my thoughts and feelings for days.

It’s easy to say that I refuse to let one stranger and one negative experience take over and push my happy memories away. Actually doing it is a whole different situation. No matter how determined I am or how much support I get, dealing with an experience like this is never easy for me.

I have trained my brain for many years to respond in a certain way, to gnaw at the negative even when it’s surrounded by positive. That habit does not change overnight just because I want it to. It’s something I need to actively work on to improve, and that requires determination and effort over time.

Writing is my way of dealing with things like this. Structuring my thoughts, describing my feelings, and reflecting on why I reacted the way I did is all part of my process.

But why are you sharing this publicly?

I’m very aware that my social media accounts are mostly highlight reels. I choose to focus on the positive things in my life, and so what most people see is the happy, bubbly, super excited version of me. I wish life was like that all the time :) But it’s not. Most days are not. Some days, you get flat out told that you suck, and instead of being strong and brushing it off, you end up crying and withdrawing from everything and everyone.

And that’s ok. That’s life. We’re flawed, and if we weren’t flawed, we wouldn’t be human. But being human also means we have choices. We can choose to take responsibility for our own feelings, get back up, try to learn from our experiences, and keep going.

Writing helps me. If I can also help someone else by sharing this publicly, whether it is helping one person understand why someone can react strongly to something seemingly small, or showing another person that they’re not alone in experiencing similar feelings, I will count that as a double win :)

So what happened?

Continue reading →

Dealing with Disappointment and Learning from Failures

I have written posts in the past about how to deal with technical failures as a speaker: Be prepared. Have backups of your files. Take screenshots or videos of your demos. Rehearse presenting your session with and without your slide deck. I have made plenty of I-wasn’t-prepared-for-that mistakes in the past, and I learned from them.

Last weekend was different. I was supposed to do a precon and a session at SQLSaturday Nashville. I didn’t experience any technical failures. I experienced what felt very much like personal failures.

On Friday, our precon got canceled due to weather.

On Saturday, no one showed up to my session.

I had not prepared for either of those things to happen, and I definitely had not prepared for both of those things to happen on the same weekend. I went through a whole range of emotions in a short amount of time, from embarrassment to disappointment to amusement.

Since then, I have debated with myself about whether or not to write this blog post. I have written and re-written it several times. I did not want to write a blog post full of whining and complaining, but I did want to share my experience as a reminder to both myself and others that:

  • These things happen. It’s ok to feel disappointed, but don’t let it stop you from trying again.
  • There is always something positive to take away from a negative experience.
  • Life is full of ups and downs. Social media (especially my own) often focus on the ups, but life is not amazing all the time.

If you only needed a few reminders, feel free to stop reading here :) The rest of the post is quite long and a little more like a journal entry, really.

Continue reading →

I’m a BimlHero Certified Expert

Cathrine Wilhelmsen is a BimlHero Certified ExpertIn April 2015 I set a goal to become a Certified Expert in Biml. On February 1st 2016, I became the second BimlHero in the world – the first female and the first in Europe :)

Cathrine Wilhelmsen is a BimlHero Certified ExpertIt has been a long journey, and I have loved every part of it! Varigence announced the certification program in March 2015, and in April I decided to go for it. I was accepted into the program, and in June I attended 8 hours of advanced training. I spent the next six months working on my Biml solution. I was unable to work full-time on it due to other tasks and responsibilities at work, so I spent quite a lot of time on it at home as well. In November I completed the BimlHero Certified Expert Test, and in December I submitted my Biml solution and my case study of how I implemented the solution at work. In January Varigence reviewed my test, solution and case study, and in February I had the final code review with Scott Currie. It was very nerve-wracking having the creator of Biml go through my code! :) But I received lots of useful feedback and finally a congratulations on passing and becoming a BimlHero.

This is an achievement I’m truly proud of. I worked hard for many months and spent a lot of evenings and weekends learning and experimenting…

… well, ok, I wasn’t always 100% focused on my Biml solution when I worked during weekends :) …

…and now I’m really looking forward to continue sharing my knowledge and helping more Biml users. I’m very thankful and honored I got to speak at so many events in 2015, and I’m already looking forward to some great events in 2016 – including my first full-day Biml workshop with Scott Currie! I will also continue to blog about Biml, and let me tell you… Varigence has some super exciting stuff going on that I can’t wait to dig into and share with you guys :)

Goodbye 2015, hello 2016!

Happy New Year 2016! :)

Happy New Year 2016

2015 was a year of highs and lows for me. I did so many things for the first time and really pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I made new friends and grew closer to old friends. At the same time I struggled more than ever with my old enemies depression, insomnia, migraine and impostor syndrome. All in all, I guess you can call it “life” :)

Continue reading →

Takeoff! Launching cathrinewilhelmsen.net

Fireworks celebrating the launch of cathrinewilhelmsen.net

Today, I will be marking my calendar with a bright color. (Probably pink.) I’m taking a plunge into the world known as “The Internet” and launching cathrinewilhelmsen.net! It’s quite exciting to have my own little place online 🤓

I have a few reasons for launching cathrinewilhelmsen.net. The first reason is entirely selfish: I want to tell everyone hi, hello, my name is Cathrine, this is who I am and this is what I like to do. The second reason is because I want a place where I can learn and experiment with web design and web development. And the third reason is that I want to keep a tiny library of useful links and code snippets and tips and tricks.

I have no idea yet what this website will grow into, but I’m excited! Welcome to cathrinewilhelmsen.net, I’m happy to have you here 🥳