Near Gougane Barra

So we’ve come to the end of the year! It feels strange every time. 2022 was a good year, busy but a better year than I’ve experienced for a long time. I reached some goals, started new exciting projects, had some fantastic music experiences and made some important lifestyle changes.

The CALM project

2022 was the first year that I chose a focus and word of the year. Having a focus of the year has been really good, and especially since some bloggers I follow created a link-up to share updates with how we were doing with the word of the year It added some accountability and a tool to stop and think about progress or the lack thereof. I didn’t join the link-up every month, but I worked on my word of the year most of the time.

I chose CALM, to learn to not worry unnecessarily, focus on what I could control, and to have a healthier attitude to bad things happening around me. This word of the year was hard, but very useful. Even during stressful times it helped me be aware of my thinking, and learn how to change the direction of my thoughts or simply interrupt them if needed. A book I had read in the autumn of 2021 (The inner game of music) helped me become aware of how your critical self tries to interfere with the creative, competent you, by throwing out negative and critical thoughts, and if you can silence it, you can perform or learn better. I used techniques from that book and learned to use them in all sorts of contexts.

My calm project had a few different important goals :

The year was anything but calm and had a lot of ups and downs. I haven’t been so busy for a long time! But it was a good kind of busy, and it was a good year when I learned a lot about myself and could start moving forward with creating a better life. I still have a lot of work to do with avoiding overthinking and unnecessary worry, but still, I’ve come a long way. I’m more aware of, and working on, my reactions and attitude towards bad happenings, and I’ve come a long way with removing time thieves from my life. I’m quite happy with my progress!

Calm in December

December was a truly relaxed month. I could let go of all the stress around my studies and other projects, and focus on what I wanted. I started working on plans for my online shop, and started living like normal people – after work hours I could sit in my armchair and read something, play some tunes, or do something else I was up to, instead of doing something I HAD TO do. I was so relaxed that I nearly forgot to do my Christmas decoration – I didn’t get all of it done until Christmas Eve.

What else have I been up to during 2022?

Career

I invested in a graphic design course at a university in Dublin, and while I’m not “ready yet” (who stops learning anyway?), it added lots of useful and more in-depth skills, confirmed what I already knew, and more than anything else it gave me an enormous boost in self-confidence, which was seriously needed. Now I feel more prepared, and can finally focus on creating work!

Travel

It was (somewhat) possible to travel again, and I went to Sweden to see my family, and some friends. I spent a week with my parents and it was absolutely wonderful. You can see my photos here.

Music

2022 was a wonderful music year.

My singing teacher at ArtistWorks offered some fantastic guitar courses on Zoom, to study the styles of some masters – Tony Rice, Doc Watson and Norman Blake (he had already done Clarence White the previous year) and I jumped on board in January for the Tony Rice class, even though I’m just barely at some low intermediate level with my guitar skills. It went so well that I didn’t hesitate to join the other classes too.

I expected the Tony Rice material to be the most difficult – but it turned out to be the easiest to learn! His playing was advanced but perhaps quite approachable anyway? The Doc Watson class was the most difficult one, but I managed to catch a nice version of “Salt Creek”, can definitely learn his version of “June Apple”, and will work on some licks from “Crawdad song”. Norman Blake was somewhere in between – and I’ll get back to his “Whiskey before breakfast” next week, and a goal for 2023 is to be able to do something with “Church street blues”.

My husband found info about a bluegrass festival in Donegal and we went there (VERY fortunate to find accommodation just a week in advance!). We made new friendships, enjoyed jamming until 3 am, and had an amazing experience. I need to write a specific post just about this eventually. When it comes to how I look at myself as a musician, there will ALWAYS be a before and after Donegal 2022.

Gigging in a local pub, photo by my dear friend Anne Coveney

During 2022, music sessions in pubs came back. We’ve joined several music sessions per week and have also had our own in a small pub on our peninsula. I guess we should call it a weekly gig, but paid in drinks.

I also got going with playing the concertina again. I found and joined a local slow session to learn Irish tunes at a doable speed, so even if I’ve been very busy and haven’t practised much at home, at least I played the concertina once a week. And during the autumn, Noel Hill started offering monthly-ish online classes. It seems like he’ll continue doing that but perhaps every second month or so. This is perfect to get me working on it so. now there’s more hope for my concertina playing.

During the summer we played our first gigs. Very exciting, and I learned a LOT about myself – especially that my musical skills are not necessarily the biggest issue with doing gigs! It was nerve racking, but mostly very enjoyable, and of course gave a sense of achievement.

Fitness and training became a lifestyle

One of the best things – if not THE best thing that happened in 2022, was to get in touch with our personal trainer, also NMT therapist. My husband found him to get help with tendonitis and after treatment, he started strength training – and then told me I should go there too. I went for a consultation and then started training the week after.

My main goal was to start some kind of regular exercise because I was very disorganised and probably disheartened after two years with the pandemic. I hadn’t found motivation or meaning with anything other than playing the guitar, so it was hard to make myself go out for walks or to lift weights at home. I knew that exercise would make me feel better, but I couldn’t make it happen on my own.

Some weeks I wasn’t up to it, but I had an appointment so I went, and felt refreshed and energised afterwards. Quite soon I realised how much the training sessions helped me clear my head and gave me a mental health boost for the coming week. It became essential to my wellbeing and eventually I looked forward to every session. My PT has been a huge contributor to my CALM project, by making me aware of how much overthinking ruled my life, and pushing me to overcome it. Sometimes, our chats during my sessions have been as important as the training itself.

Later in the summer I started realising that I was getting noticeable results of my training, even after only once weekly sessions. This was a BIG motivator, and I wanted to do more. After the summer I started running, and after I finished my graphic design course, I added a second strength training session every week.

Training and fitness became a lifestyle, a new focus, especially when the knee injury triggered me to get my **** together, set higher goals, get strong and challenge myself. This new direction in life is something I’m really grateful for.

My husband is on board too, running twice a week, doing a strength session once a week and workouts at home other days – and when I’m up to speed with my running (which really only means that I can push myself to run decent distances without being in doubt whether I risk to get my injury back), we’ll bring our running gear when we go on holiday and run in different nice places. Until then, we’ll walk in different nice places!

My tank top print before and after I started running 😀 (If you have no idea what a G-run is, go and have a look on YouTube)

Blogging

Some of you know how I’ve been wandering between blogging concepts and whatnot. At the end of this year, everything has sort of fallen into place. I love having a separate photography blog, and starting this fitness (& more) blog is one of the best things I’ve done in my blogging life. I’m a lot more relaxed with blogging than I used to be, and I really enjoy writing here and sharing my fitness journey and more. I’m happy to have found the community of running & fitness bloggers, it’s amazing and I learn and get inspiration from all of them. I’m also happy to still link up with my other blog friends!

Plans for 2023

My main goal for 2023 is to spend a lot more time on music. This probably sounds ridiculous if you know how much I’ve played this year. I’ve performed in pubs weekly, attended guitar and concertina courses, and even done a few songs on stage at the bluegrass festival – but I haven’t done a lot of proper practice, to really work on new tunes or techniques or to properly develop the quality in my playing, and haven’t focused as much as I did during the lockdown years. I want to get back to what I had then, and move forward. I want to continue working on my singing and learning more complex songs, and become more confident on the guitar.

And of course I want to ramp up my running and continue making progress in the gym.

Do I have a word of the year for 2023? Yes, possibly. To be continued…

I’m joining these lovely ladies in the Word of the year link-up: Sue, Donna, Jo, and Deb. Thank you for hosting this link-up, and I’m looking forward to joining your new link-up in 2023.


19 responses to “2022 in review”

  1. Maria avatar

    It so so awesome that you decided to do more of what you love and less of what “others may think we should do.” 2022 sounds like a fabulous year and if you keep this up I am sure 2023 will be even more fabulous! Cheers to that! Great job!

  2. Maria avatar

    Ooo and I forgot to mention that I LOVE the very green landscape in the photo above. That is just about how I imagine the perfect place.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Thank you Maria! Yes, it was a brilliant year, tough at times but I’ve achieved a lot and come a long way with so many things! The green landscape is a wonderful area in the northern part of West Cork, we took a road trip there in July. It’s quite rugged and isolated in a way, near the border where the Kerry mountain area begins. So beautiful!

  3. Pamela avatar

    Wonderful to read this blog post (my first introduction to you) and about the way CALM helped your year. A great word. And amongst the calm, you discovered the reward of exercise. I know what you mean! I do Zumba and another dance class twice a week, yoga at least once a week and walks whenever the weather lets me (I live in New England, so every day except in the winter!!). Here’s to a musical, calm, enervating 2023.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Hi Pamela, how nice to meet you! I feel stupid now but I had to look up New England on a map. I was absolutely sure it was one state! Perhaps I’m thinking of New Mexico? Anyway, I can imagine your winters are rough and that it can be hard to get out for walks. Good for you to have the yoga and dance classes anyway! I’m thinking of looking up some yoga moves for increased mobility.
      I wish you a lovely start of 2023 and thanks for visiting!

  4. Retirement Reflections avatar

    Hi, Susanne – Thank you for joining us for our final WOTY LinkUp post for 2022. I’ve enjoyed following your posts this past year. I’m delighted to read that you are now focussing on what you love doing. That sounds like a wonderful path to take. I look forward to continuing to follow your adventures for 2023. See you there!

    1. Susanne avatar

      Thanks Donna, I’m looking forward to what 2023 might bring! 2022 definitely took a different turn than I expected and I’m happy about where it led me.

  5. Joanne Tracey avatar

    I LOVE this! So much to love and in the paragraphs where you talk about your music and your training the joy comes through your words – before and after Donegal. Thank you for linking up and here’s to a happy and healthy 2023.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Thanks for those words, Jo, I’m so happy to hear that I could express my joy for these important things that this year brought me. See you in 2023 and I wish you the best!

  6. Deborah avatar

    Susanne, I need to soak up some of that focus on health and fitness to take into the new year and I love that you point out that it’s a lifestyle thing. I’ve written about it in my latest post and deleted all of this stuff about small iterative changes and habits to develop routines (because it got too long), but I am conscious that it’s something you can’t work on in isolation.

    I love calm as a WOTY and must admit the green luscious fields in the header image and the word had me feeling that way as I read through your words.

    1. Susanne avatar

      I think there are people who exercise just because they have to (to maintain weight, health, etc), but if you experience the benefits of training it can/will become a lifestyle you want to keep and grow. If I see results, it always inspires me to do more (I’m the same with music practice for example) and with my strength training it was also that it made me feel so much better also mentally, and made me feel better about my body, and it became an important part of life.
      I’m happy if I can give you some inspiration and I hope you find an exercise form that suits your life – what you say about habits is essential. Motivation is useless because it’s too fluctuating, the only thing that works is to create a routine (if you check my weekly rundown posts you’ll see that I have certain gym days and certain running days, same every week). My next word of the year will actually be related to this!

  7. Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au avatar

    Hi Susanne – I love how diversified your life is – music, design, photography, running, learning new things, blogging, online selling (soon), and so much more. I feel quite the underachiever in comparison. Fortunately I’m getting better at not envying others and just admiring what they’re doing while I quietly get on with enjoying what works for me. I look forward to seeing all your new photos in the year ahead and your musical journey…..and also seeing if you end up with a new WOTY – I’m sharing mine on Monday. Happy New Year from the land down under. 🙂

    1. Susanne avatar

      It sounds exhausting when you describe it like that! 😂 But I’ve found a nice balance with it all, during this year so much in life has fallen into place in a way. I’ve always had many interests, some have come and gone, some have remained and they are the things that enrich my life and that I’ve managed to become decent at. But having many interests isn’t for everyone and that’s ok! You have your art and you’re a wonderfully strong woman, doing what is right for you, living a good life and I admire you for refusing to do what other people think you should be doing and just living life on your own terms.
      I’m looking forward to reading about your new WOTY – I think I’ll have one too!

  8. Sue from Women Living Well After 50 avatar

    What a lovely wrap up for your WOTY Susanne and you certainly do sound CALMer than at the start of 2022. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts and as a runner and fitness lifestyle promoter I’ve been excited by your progress. What I love is that you recognise that exercise is a lifestyle not a chore. You are very talented and inspire me with your musical ability and creative designs. Thank you for being a contributor and supporting our monthly link up and I look forward to connecting again with you in 2023. Happy New Year and Best wishes, Sue xx

    1. Susanne avatar

      Thanks Sue for your lovely comment and it’s been lovely to connect with you through our blogs. I’m very happy with how 2022 progressed! Thanks for your encouragement and I wish you a lovely start of 2023.

      1. Sue from Women Living Well After 50 avatar

        It has been lovely getting to know you and I look forward to more in 2023. I’ve already entered a half marathon for mid year. I’m not sure I have a full marathon in me anymore – but ‘never say never’ LOL 🙂

        1. Susanne avatar

          Oh, nice! Half marathons are not bad though! My first goal is to be able to run decent distances injury-free and then later it would be nice to join shorter races.

  9. Debbie Harris avatar

    I really enjoyed reading about your Calm Project Susanne and love the diversity of your life. It obviously suits you as your words tell the story of a happy blogger. It’s been great to have you join us for WOTY linkup and hopefully we’ll see you at our What’s Been On Your Calendar linkup – same time/same place! All the best for 2023 and looking forward to your WOTY for 2023.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Hi Debbie, I’ll definitely be there for your new link-up! Happy new year to you!

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