by Nancy Casey
When one year ends and another one begins, we have a tradition of both looking forward and looking back. Today’s writing is an opportunity to look back and remember what you did well in the past year.
It’s not easy to recall a whole year at once. When the temperatures plunge and the snow piles up, you likely stop thinking about what was happening and what you cared about when the days were long and the temperatures were sweltering. In this exercise, you will divide the year into quarters and think back over your year in chunks that are three months long.
Allow your mind to begin floating through your memories of the past year as you set up your page. Draw a line at the top of the page where your title will go. If you want to set aside a box or blob for illustration, put it in the middle of the page. Next, draw a line across the page an inch or two from the bottom. Then draw lines to divide the remainder of the page—your writing space—into four equal parts. As you do this, mentally divide the past year into four equal parts as well.
Label one of the writing spaces Jan/Feb/Mar. Label another one Apr/May/Jun. Label the other two Jul/Aug/Sept and Oct/Nov/Dec. In each one of those spaces, make some notes about some of the things that you accomplished during those months.
Great big accomplishments tend to stand out in memory: having a baby, completing a big project, renouncing a destructive habit, learning a new skill. These are the types of things that other people might notice and congratulate you for.
Some accomplishments are no less important, although they might be invisible to other people: living through another day of grief, holding your tongue, forgiving yourself, being on time, listening to another person, changing your routine.
Everything you have done that required focus and effort is an accomplishment.
Reviewing an entire year is a big project. You can skip from one quarter to another as you remember things that you accomplished. Maybe it will work best for you to carry the page around for a while and note the accomplishments as they filter slowly into your memory. Decorating the borders that divide the sections can also help your mind open up to let the year’s accomplishments in.
When you have filled up each of the four sections, read over what you have written. In the remaining space at the bottom of the page, write one last thought about the year’s accomplishments. This can be any kind of comment about anything you have written above it.
When the whole page is full, look it over carefully one last time. When a title floats into your mind, write it at the top of the page.
Write the date on the page too, along with a signature or your initials.
Here is an example of what someone could write.
You might find it interesting to do this exercise several days in a row. After all, a whole year has gone by. You can’t fit it all into four little spaces. The more you think about it, the more you will realize how much you have accomplished.
You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.
Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center. In-person Write-for You classes have been suspended for now, but when Covid recedes, they will return.