2022 was not a year of momentous changes or big accomplishments. When I look at my life now compared to the start of the year, it looks pretty much the same. Same house, same husband, same job, same daily routines, same lack of a social life. I watch the same TV shows, give or take. I’ve played a couple of new games on our new Xbox.
And yet, a lot happened—as it tends to do, even if I’m not really trying. For one thing, I finished a draft of my long-procrastinated memoir, and started sending out agent queries. That was with the help of a writing coach, and a lot of cutting, rewriting, and adding more “show don’t tell” scenes.
Even after all of that investment of time and money in the manuscript, I think it still needs work. I need a better query letter. I need to zhuzh-up my sample pages with more compelling writing. I don’t know if it’s good enough to publish…yet. And I also wonder if I’m committed enough to put in the work to make it better.
My health has been stable, except for one annoying case of Covid. I got my first colonoscopy in June, and a couple of benign polyps were removed. As I live in fear that I will suddenly find I am riddled with cancer, that was a relief. My mammograms showed nothing new, which is exactly what you want to see two years out from a cancer diagnosis. No signs of a reoccurrence. And my weight has plateaued in a healthy zone, if still at the higher end of healthy. The 50 pounds I lost in 2020 are still off.
I was surprised to look at my yearly health stats and see that my average daily exercise minutes were 88. I’ve felt like I have been slacking off recently, but that number is mostly kept high through long walks. If I stop taking long walks, it falls off drastically. I want to reach for 100 exercise minutes daily, but I wonder…if I do that, how will I have time to fulfill my work obligations and do personal projects?
I completed two whole months of the Whole30 diet, which were helpful for a reset and detox. In 2023, I’ve decided to take a more incremental approach to any dietary tweaks. Add more superfoods, reduce snacking, minimize sugar. While I like a nice reset, I tend to bounce back to iffy eating habits as soon as the month is over.
My marriage is on autopilot, which is not necessarily a bad thing. We still love each other after being trapped in a house together for three years. When my husband ran off to Europe for a month on his own, I genuinely missed him, and when he came back we fell right back into our comfortable autopilot routines.
I tried to have friends, I really did. I had three whole dinner parties in the summer, had a couple of double dates at fancy restaurants, scheduled sketching excursions with an artistic friend, met with a fellow memoir-writer monthly. I made as much effort to be social as I was comfortable making, but we are still pretty much a hermit couple. I think I need an activity out of the house with other people, but I’m flummoxed when I try to think what that activity might be.
I worried about my mother often. She is in an assisted living facility in North Idaho, where they are not really qualified to handle people with severe mental illness. Given that state mental hospitals don’t accommodate longterm residents (and if they do, it is more of a prison scenario than a therapeutic environment) and group homes are sketchy at best, I wonder if there is an ideal place for her. I envision a group of aging hippie artists taking care of each other, with a personal chef and visits from a psychiatric nurse.
I traveled more than I would even in a pre-Covid year. I spent two weeks in Italy, two weeks in Portugal, a few days in Amsterdam, a whole work week in Atlanta, and we made short trips to Idaho and Utah/ Vegas for family visits. I had to suck my PTO balance dry to make all of these trips, so I will be stockpiling days off for the first half of 2023.
I started learning Procreate on my iPad, for no reason other than it is fun, and I miss doing visual art. I’m on my second online course, learning how to translate the painting techniques I learned long ago in art school to pixels. Maybe I will make something fun with digital art, but for now my plan is simply to get through the masterclass I bought.
I’ve been staying in touch with my online accountability group that I joined in early 2020, and some of us have now added co-working focus sessions on weekday mornings to help us show up for our most important work. We also check in online weekly and meet with the larger group twice a month to share how our habits and intentions are going. This group has been a real life-preserver for me through the pandemic and a slew of lifestyle changes.
I’ve started meeting with a life coach to think through my life plan as I look beyond my day job for what is really meaningful work for me. I’m considering some combination of writing, teaching, consulting, coaching, and making art. I know. WTF is that? I have a day job that I like and pays me well, but for my whole career I have felt off-course. I don’t know if working with a coach will set me in a new direction, but for now I am opening myself to new possibilities and starting to think beyond what cultural norms and capitalism dictate.
So, it was a quietly significant year. From the outside, my life looks the same. But on the inside, things are shifting toward new possibilities and a better way of living.