I am a very chronologically aware individual. I love dates, relative events, and time. As much as I can, I spend time reminiscing and remembering, because I put value in being able to recall things that are important to me. My skill in remembering things I care about often bleeds over into useless memories, or unpleasant ones I wish I could forget. When I remember that dumb thing I said last week in a meeting, or bring up an inside joke I thought of that no one else remembers, I’m reminded that this skill takes a level of control to be valuable to me.
People around me with shorter memories can get annoyed when I bring up things they no longer remember, and it makes me feel really awkward. But I remind them that if something were important to them, they would remember it. My brain just decides a lot of strange things are extremely important to remember, and I let it.
In fact, I have realized that I actually tend to cultivate it through some of my behavior.
I used to spend a lot of time in front of a calendar, my life wasn’t particularly scheduled, but I loved looking forward to big events coming up in the month and mentally count down to them. I also have some very memorable milestones in my life that help me be able to place other memories in time by whether they came before or after… [fill in the blank]. And when it comes to this time of the year, I have a tradition that I think really makes the difference: Right around midnight on New Years, I look back over the months past and think of at least one thing that happened in each month. Mentally re-running the year in review, hitting the highlights, and all the Big Things that impacted my life.
This year has been a big year. I remember shortly into the first week of January joking with a friend, “Can we return this year and get a new one?” At the end of the year I can confidently say I wouldn’t give it up even though it has been so rough.
Take a look back with me at the personal and public peaks and valleys I’ve been through in 2016:
- Got to spend some quality time with my family on vacation from work. Thankful for a team at work who allowed me to relax and enjoy that time.
- Mom started chemo and I said “good-bye” to fly back home.
- My husband started working at the company I work for (on a different team, of course, still in the R&D department).
- Mom’s scans revealed a need for more chemo and radiation with a tentative surgery date set for July.
- Got to spend “Spring Break” commuting back and forth to work from a friend’s house while watching their (adorable) dog.
- A mentor of mine at work left the company, after instilling in me sufficient wherewithal to handle his absence.
- My grandma passed away, my third grandparent in just over 12 months, leaving just one remaining grandparent.
- I got to go back to my parents’ house again for a stay-cation, to enjoy some quiet time between Mom’s treatment and surgery.
- I joined a new team at work, doing the same types of things with different people.
- Reconnected with friends and started doing things with them again!
- Got an article about STEM and Girls Who Code published on the company blog.
- Started this blog!
- Bought a house, somewhat unexpectedly, but conveniently.
- My youngest sister moved in with us for the month.
- Mom’s surgery was successful.
- My parents drove up to bring my sister back. It was great to see Mom had recovered so well.
- High stress month at work with another friend leaving the company, among other challenges.
- (Re-)Learned (a lot of) hard lessons about people and my (lack of) responsibility for their decisions.
- Participated in a panel following the screening of “CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap” (and was quoted in the media)!
- Went on an amazing camping trip to recharge at the beach.
- Frantically finished up enough painting in the house to get flooring in.
- Had friends over to the work-in-progress house to hang out close to twice a week. Felt like a real hostess.
- Officially moved everything in! (Without necessarily organizing any of it…)
- Booked an honest to goodness vacation for just me and Josh. Inspired by a friend’s post: For the Sake of Your Marriage, Take a Vacation (and the length of time it has been since we look a trip that didn’t include friends or family).
- Got a puppy!
- My family moved up to live with us during the winter, especially for the Holidays.
- Hosted (what I hope is the first of many) board game parties for friends and family.
- Made it through umpteen Christmas parties with a plethora of relatives.
On top of all the personal things that have made this year a rough one for me, the world in general has had a tumultuous time of it. between political issues, humanitarian crises, attacks and deaths. It’s easy to look back at a year like this one and only see negatives, hard times, reasons to complain. By reminding myself of what happened in each given month, I can reach for the positive, and realize that even in those darker months, there is hope, peace, and joy shining through.