Content tagged reflection

2023 Reflections

posted on 2024-01-02 09:45:00

2023 was a bad year. It had bright spots, most notably my honeymoon in Morocco. But a large portion of the year and a lot of the second half was a real slog. My dad and my last and favorite paternal uncle died. My dog and my stepmother got cancer. My company went through a tumultuous leadership change and re-org.

It was the year of questioning everything. I questioned my career ambitions and my industry. I questioned my hobbies and whether I really enjoyed them. I questioned financial decisions. I questioned my health and my own character. About the only thing I didn't question was my relationship with Norma.

That said, there were a few things that really went right in 2023.

Regular Exercise

I started going to spin classes in Grant Park with Norma around October 2022. This has been one of the best things for ensuring I get out of the house and get some endorphins. The structure and the forced recognition that I'm doing something good for myself are huge. I'm very glad to continue this in 2024.

Seeing James and Aaron

I love James and Aaron so much it almost hurts. I've been making trips to California to see James every 3-6 months for about 2 years now and seeing Aaron in Canada once a year where possible. This past fall, Aaron came to see me and stayed at the house for a week. I was finally able to show him so favorite Atlanta haunts and it was generally a great time.

I'm traveling to see James again in February and really looking forward to it. It is hugely important for me to see these people I respect and am edified by.

Collecting Weird Records

I listened to a lot of music in 2023. Well, probably not as much as I would have were I still an engineer but I still found some lovely albums. It has been really fun for me to explore weird sounds and build up a collection of records that I find engaging, interesting, exciting, and weird. They aren't the best albums for anyone, even me, they're just things I have enjoyed. I hope to do more of this in 2024.

Hopes for 2024

I'm still bracing for 2024, despite myself. I know it should be a better year. And yet, anxiety feels like the starting point for how I look at what is coming. I don't have very explicit goals, and rarely do, but I have some clear intents.

1. Be kinder to myself

This is so hard for me. People who don't know me closely often don't realize how harshly I judge my own work and actions. I tend to worry I'm not doing much of value with my life. It sounds wild to me but I'm going to have to practice catching myself when I'm getting stuck in an anxiety spiral or speaking negatively about my own efforts and try to speak encouragingly and lovingly to myself.

2. Enjoy hobbies in small steps

I have a bad habit of waiting for large chunks of time off before I allow myself to undertake major creative projects. I feel that if I can't point to progress of some form after a few days engaged in a problem, that I should be ashamed of that. This is a habit worth breaking for many reasons.

The biggest adjustment I want to make is simply to enjoy hobbies and creative things regularly but without the pressure of delivering anything. I don't know when the pressure overtook the process but it's been a lot of years and I don't feel I can afford to lose any more. I need to be enjoying my life now in whatever ways make sense to me.

3. Write more

I'd like to blog more. I have said the same thing for the past few years and struggled to build the habit. I'll give myself a break since 2023 was a year of everything being on fire and me being emotionally exhausted. The desire to write has not changed. I have thoughts worth articulating if I just make space for it.


That's it. Probably a bit anticlimactic but I wanted to get down the core parts of how I'm feeling before 2024 gets too far underway. I also thought I would get some clarity over whether or not I want to say at Calendly or stay an Engineering Manager over the holiday break but that hasn't come yet. I'm sure I'll figure it out as the year goes on.

My 2022

posted on 2022-12-31 18:00:00

Somehow it's already New Year's Eve. I've got two more days off but I'm already distracted by work to do in January. So now seems like an ideal time to step back and reflect on what happened in 2022, what I loved, and what I'll let go of as I move forward. I also feel I should shout out Manuel Uberti's wrap up which inspired me (and he has great posts on emacs).

(See also: Last year's reflections)

Things to Celebrate


I took a trip to see Aaron on Vancouver Island and then James in Santa Barbara. They were two glorious and much needed weeks out of the house. While I wasn't off the whole time, I was able to focus on spending time with people I love very much and get myself out of a rut. In fact, I've made pilgrimages to go see James and Rachel in California 4 or 5 times in the last 18 months. Yet to regret it. Need to squeeze in a NYC trip next year to see Justin and Kelly and Roni.


I started running in the summer. I've barely exercised for a decade. It wasn't really intentional. I used to love skateboarding with Burke or around the apartment complex. After Burke moved away and Norma and I settled down, it just wasn't the same. I started running in the spring but had a hard time staying motivated. In late October, I started going to a nearby spin class with Norma. At first I thought it wasn't for me but here we are two months later and I love it. I'm going 3-4 times a week, sometimes with Norma and sometimes on my own. It feels wonderful to be pushing my body again and just get out of the house and move.

My Partner

I had some really wonderful experiences with Norma this year. We took a trip to Austin to see dear friends. We took a week off together at the end of March and just lounged about and went on lunch dates. We're doing spin together and early in the year we made a different cookie recipe every weekend for a few months. I feel closer to her than I have before and in January we will have been dating 10 years. It's hard to believe but it's something I'm very happy about.


I got closer to the Butlers. I've always had a ... tenuous relationship with Dad's side of the family. In a lot of ways, I thought my relationship to them was determined by my relationship with my dad which has never been very good. To a large degree, I still think of my step dad John as dad and I miss him dearly. But I went to Uncle Eddie's funeral earlier this year and started to realize that my relationship with the Butlers is just plain separate from my relationship to Terry. I haven't figured out what I want to do with that but I'm grateful for it. I also attended my niece Caroline's wedding and have gotten a bit closer to my half-sister Renee between that and Terry's recent health issues.


A few different things have brought me joy this year on the hacking front. I've done effectively no programming for work now that I'm an Engineering Manager and a year on I'm happy with that decision. I struggle to recognize and appreciate my contributions as a manager because a lot of relational work ... doesn't really seem like work to me. But that's a separate issue. On the hacking front, there are 3 things I've really enjoyed this year:

  1. Advent of Code. Most recently, I organized a slack channel at work (#fun-advent-of-code) where about 15 folks participated in daily slack threads working through and discussing the different puzzles posted over the month of December. I coded my solutions in Common Lisp and enjoyed getting practice playing with new libraries. While I didn't get quite as far as I wanted, I got further than in past years and really enjoyed the camaraderie of it. I also had a few particularly elegant solutions. More literate puzzle writeups to come!
  2. Streaming Clones Hacking. During my week off with Norma at the end of March, I knew I missed hacking so I wanted to try reworking my emulator. Working alone in the garage is discouraging for me. I like having people to discuss my projects with. So I decided to take a risk and stream a rewrite of my NES emulator from scratch on twitch. I made a ton of progress and while I stopped at the end of July and some bugs remain. Super Mario Bros is playable and the codebase is generally in good shape. I got a lot of joy from this.
  3. Sourcehut. I started paying for Sourcehut and hosting my emulator hacking there early in the year. Drew Devault seems a bit divisive but I have a lot of appreciation for the way he has built sourcehut and the principled stance it takes on prioritizing open source and community-oriented projects over for-profit corporate software. I have greatly enjoyed being a user of this service.
Records and VOTD

My favorite hack of the year wasn't Advent or Clones. It was actually a bit of emacs lisp I wrote in under an hour to help me randomly pick music to play on my twitch stream from my record collection. The satisfaction of hitting Super+N and being shown album art of a record to play is hard to beat. I've been purchasing most of my music on bandcamp or discogs. As someone who enjoys archiving or curating things in general, this has been a lot of fun. The current collection and VOTD code lives here.

Things to Come

I'd love to do a separate post about some cultural things I enjoyed in 2022. Favorite TV, movies, music, that sort of thing. There are also some things I'd like to change in 2023 and pieces of myself I'd like to work on. But for now, I'll close with a few things I'm looking forward to.

Norma and I are finally going on our honeymoon. We'll be going to Morocco for 2 weeks in March. I can't wait. I've never traveled overseas with Norma and I think it'll be a wonderful time.

The final Strangeloop is happening and I'll be going with James and also a wonderful former Iron Yard instructor, Tim. Strangeloop is always a great conference and St Louis is always a great adventure. This time will be no different.

Last but not least, Aaron is coming to Atlanta at some point. I've been hoping to take Aaron to some of my favorite local haunts, and Kimball House in particular, for years so I can't wait for him to visit. We're gonna have a blast.

For now, I'm grateful that I made it through the crazy year, that Calendly has been a good place for me to grow in my career, and that I'm as close to my beautiful partner as I've ever been. Here's hoping that 2023 is an opportunity to have more adventures, grow healthier, and learn something new. Cheers. 🥂

Unless otherwise credited all material Creative Commons License by Brit Butler