My 2014 Wrap Up

Yet again, I can’t believe how fast this year has gone by, like in a blink of an eye. So much has happened but somehow I feel like I wasn’t really living it to the fullest, rather than trying to make it through; especially the second half of 2014. As much as I am ready for this year to be over, at the same time I wish I could rewind some of it back with hopes that I could change some of the events. Well, we all know that’s impossible. So, what have I been up to this year?

I most definitely did more traveling again. There were several amazing conferences I’ve attended, got reunited with many friends, met few new ones, as well as visit new places and revisit few other ones.

January

Every year so many of us make the intent to start a new year with a clean slate or at least with somewhat of a fresh start by making our life better by changing certain habits, the way we go about our days. Well, I know I at least try to. One of my this year’s resolution was to lower my dependency to social media but mainly my phone and to be more connected with the physical world around me instead by unplugging myself. I can honestly say that very much liked that change in my life and will most definitely carrying it over moving forward. I don’t feel like turning off all my notifications, and using “Do not disturb” mode on my phone for minimum of 12 hours a day, if not more has made me miss anything. In fact, I feel like I was more present especially when hanging out with friends, as I wouldn’t have the urge to look on my phone each time it would buzz in a middle of a conversation or having a meal. Maybe that’s something you may wanna try, if you haven’t already to see if you notice a difference.

February

This past winter in New England was especially cold. Personally, I don’t feel like we’ve had as much snow but it sure was colder than my body was ready for. Thankfully, I was lucky enough and managed to escape one of several winter storms and flew to Orlando, FL for InControl Conference that’s organized by Ari Stiles and Christopher Schmitt from Environment for Humans, who are behind many other great conferences they put on for us. Every year, I look forward to July, when I get to help with CSS Summit, which is an online conference and since 2011 have been broadcasted from our Portland’s Connective DX (previously ISITE Design) office. I was very much looking forward to change of scenery and be actually able to interact with them, all the attendees and speakers in person, instead of online. Not only speaker lineup was amazing but I also felt like there were so many amazing takeaways from all the great content that was delivered to us.

March

Ryan in The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell
Ryan in The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell
Photo Credit: Slovak National Theater

March was somewhat exciting and very proud moment for my family, when my nephew Ryan’s talent playing piano was recognized by Slovak National Theater and they casted him in Jonathan Littell’s novel, The Kindly Ones.

Later that month I traveled back to Portland for ISITE Tech Week, which was company week event for our tech department. Especially ever since moving to Boston in 2012, I noticed over time that there was quite big disconnect between our offices when it came to communication and making sure we would be more in sync with each other on what we are doing, technologies we are using, etc. So we came up with the idea to put on this event and meet in our Portland office and every single one of us was encouraged to come up with a subject or topic that we wanted to talk about in front of our department. I was truly amazed with the great content that everyone has put together, there was a lot of great conversations that have sparked that week, whether it was about our best practices or how to better tackle certain projects, or learned about new technologies. I sure hope we get to do this again in 2015. After a week in Portland, getting my Salt & Straw fix and foodie adventures on numerous occasions with Chloe who was there that very same week visiting from New York for the first time since moving there in January after starting a new job at Spotify.

April & May

After week in Portland, as usual, I travelled up north to visit my Slovak friends in Seattle are where I spent another week before returning back to Boston.

Later that month I was very much looking forward to get reunited with few of my friends. First, I got to host for two days my dear friend Bridget who came here to attend An Event Apart. It was fun having her over and catch up, as I haven’t seen her since 2013’s Rustbelt Refresh that she organizes with The Brads – Brad Colbow and Brad Dielman. Sadly, I wasn’t attending AEA but I once I got off work, I came by to see everyone and hang out, including another dear friend of mine, Sarah. It was her first time visiting but she got so sick that she barely got to see anything from the city, other than her hotel room. At least we got few hours together before her flight back to UK, so I got to show her at least a bit of Boston, including taking her to Parmenter Street in North End. :)

May was more of a low key month. Didn’t travel anywhere; however, was very much looking forward to spend some time with Chloe again who was supposed to be in town for few days for work. Back then, I thought that it would be one of many visits, since she now lived just few hours away from me. I sure have never thought that it would be the last time seeing her.

June

In June I welcomed my Seattle friend Rachel, who was visiting Boston for the first time, prior to sailing off on a cruise from New York to Bermuda with NKOTB. After she left, I then packed my bags and few baked goodies to take with me to Cleveland, OH for second year of Rustbelt Refresh. Bridget and The Brads put on yet another great event. People seemed have enjoyed my baked goods and I also got to prove Tim Kadlec that Wicked Pissah is a thing and not something I just made up. :)

Even though we all had a great time at the conference, so many of us were also thinking of Eric Meyer and his family as they all were in their home in Cleveland with Rebecca who was fighting for almost a year against brain cancer. So many of us followed Eric’s blog to keep up on Rebecca’s health and everything that her and Eric’s family was going through. It was very much an emotional journey to follow but I am sure many of us believed in a miracle. Even though Rebecca was an amazing brave little girl, she lost her fight on her 6th birthday.

July

One would think that I started off July on a positive note. After many years, I finally got to experience Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna live with few of many of my friends, right before 4th of July weekend. It was a week before me having to pack my suitcase again to go to Portland and Seattle for two weeks. I remember thinking on July 8 that it will be my first time in Portland when Chloe wouldn’t be in town because she didn’t live there anymore and we wouldn’t get to sit next to each other, like we did every year, during CSS Summit. I was even thinking texting her but it was late at night, so I didn’t. And it was the very next early morning when my world literally fell apart, after I got the news that Chloe took her life. To a degree, I really tried to work through it the best way I could, including hitting some deadlines that week, prior me leaving to Portland but I quickly started to realize that I could barely hold it together. No matter what I did, I seemed to failing at it, whether breaking my site while trying to publish my small tribute to Chloe, burning a strudel (usually I can make with my eyes closed) thinking that it would be therapeutic, or even completely missing my flight to Portland assuming it was in evening as usual, instead of morning. I booked a new flight and made it to Portland that Friday night. I was anxious to get there but also had some anxieties about it. I knew this trip would be way different from what I’ve anticipated. I was looking forward to see many people who knew her but also knew that there will be reminders of her and the great times we’ve shared together all over the town. We had a little memorial for her with few of her friends at La Merde, place where she used to play trivia on weekly basis. It was nice to share stories with everyone. After going up to Seattle, I think this was my first time when I wasn’t up for doing much. I think I mainly stayed in and tried to work whenever I could before returning back to Boston.

August

At the beginning of month of August, I made a quick weekend trip to New York for another memorial where I got to see and meet more of Chloe friends and her dad. Some of them I knew already but most I didn’t but heard of them from Chloe, like her friend Ruchi or Jillian. I think the hardest but still very much surreal part of it all was visiting her grave. It all just didn’t seem right, nor real. In a way, it still doesn’t.

Geri and Simon's Wedding
From left: Becki, Laura, Simon, Geri, me and Christie

Later that month, it was time for me to get ready for my trip to Europe. I was very much in need of some little getaway but mainly to focus on myself for few weeks and just recharge my batteries. I flew to London where I got reunited with my Czech friend Frank, then headed up to Newcastle for few days to spend it with Naomi who was keeping busy with her personal project in making – Whosit & Whatsit store. I finished the month on a happy note while celebrating my friends’, Geri and Simon, big day as they embarked on a new life together as husband and wife. After the wedding, I packed again and made my way down to Brighton where I got reunited with Naomi who came down there for Reasons to be Creative. I stayed in Brighton through Saturday, so I got to be there for another great lineup and content that my friends at ClearLeft put together again at dConstruct. The morning after, I headed back up to London for the last few days of my vacation. This was my first trip to Europe when I wasn’t planning on going back home to visit my family but my older sister Patricia liked the idea for at least the two of us meeting up in Paris for few days. I was dying to go back, as I haven’t been back since 1997. Not only it was nice to visit old familiar places but forgot how much I missed the culture, food but also speaking French.

September & October

During my last few days in UK, whenever I found myself alone, I started to notice that I wasn’t being myself. Something was off but thought it would pass. Upon my return from Europe, I started to notice that I was getting worse, especially whenever I would find myself alone and had no one around me to distract me from whatever was happening. It didn’t take that long before I realized that I’ve reached my limits and needed to ask for help as it all became too much for me alone to manage. I was aware that sadly quite a few of people that I know have been struggling with things in their own lives, dealt with depression or grieved losing a loved one. I’ve always tried to be there for others but for the first time it was time for me to admit that I need help from others, as I was struggling to get over the fact that Chloe isn’t among us anymore. I knew right there and then that this won’t be something that I will get over overnight but it will take some time and work on my part to get through all of this.

I had my last trip planned for 2014, starting with week in Seattle, before heading back down to Portland for another week filled with work events and then headed back to New York for the very last Brooklyn Beta. That weekend I spent with Chloe’s friend Ruchi and her mom but also got to see Chloe’s mom and her dad with whom I got to experience the full Jew tour of Brooklyn.

Last week of October was also Geek Mental Help Week, which I’ve found very helpful reading through people’s stories and their own struggles, as well as sharing my own.

November & December

My Facebook Year in Review
Facebook notifying me about my Year in Review.

These last two months have been very much uneventful for me. No travels, other than a day road trip to Portland, ME, which was very much fun but will have to go back during lobster season for obvious reason.

I’ve spent these last two months mainly to focus on myself and work through a lot of things. I’ve been through few therapists but finally have found one that I think will be sticking with for some time. Not going to lie, but those sessions wear me out quite a bit. I think of myself already as very much of an analytical person who can be very perceptive of others and myself but trying to be honest with yourself, your feelings and emotions can be quite draining. At times, I still feel anger, sadness or numbness but am trying to be aware of it and change my ways when I can. It doesn’t always work but I’d say the effort counts.

Last few weeks, as everyone was getting ready for holidays, I knew I didn’t feel like celebrating nor felt much jolliness but wanted to find a way to do something that makes me and maybe even others happy. So I did a little bit of baking. Ok, maybe I went a little bit overboard. I figured that by baking for others and seeing their happy faces if they’d like it, would be all that I needed to make me feel better. Especially, last few weeks I’ve found a little harder for me to deal with, so this has worked for me.

Well, it’s the last day of 2014 and I’m not going to lie that it will be bittersweet saying goodbye and welcoming 2015. As I’ve gotten sick, looks like I will be spending tonight in bed and probably even sleeping through midnight, which is probably better anyway. Looking back, and just like Facebook summed it up for me, we all know what or about who my year was mainly all about. This year was tough, and just for me but so many others. Yes, I would love for 2015 to be better and much happier one for everyone but only time will tell.

One of many things that I’ve learned over the last few weeks, or months is that us humans, we are easily prone to give in to negativity. When something in our lives isn’t going the way we would like to, we get mad or frustrated. I’ve become even more aware all the silly bickering among people I know, whether it’s my family or friends. It happens all around us, whether it’s right in your home, during your commute, or on social media. In most cases, to me arguing over unimportant stuff is just waste of my time, so I try to stay away from it. Somehow, along the way, I find myself forgetting all the good stuff and the fun memories I might have made this year because of the year I’ve had. I was consumed by so much sadness and anger but also self-reflection. I’ve learned through observation what it is that is good for me and what makes my matters worse. Sometimes those can be habits, activities but also people. So I am slowly changing that. For the first time, I am putting myself first and looking at what it is that is good for me and makes me feel good rather than others.

Going into 2015, I would like to make an effort to remind myself of all the good things that happen in my life. Little moments that make me happy or some people in my life that I am forever grateful for to have them. I’ve seen somewhere this idea floating around to have a jar and fill it with positive memories or events each time they happen and they look at them at the end of that year. I find it as a great idea, mainly to serve as a reminder that even though at times life may seem hard and not worth living for. Those little notes should help remind you that in fact life is worth living, and all the other great moments you are yet to live through. So, I see all in 2015 whether it’s in person or on the internet.