What a year! 2022 was by far the hardest year of my life that I can remember. I gave birth in 2021 and even that was easier than 2022. But as a famous song lyric has it, “What does not kill us, makes us stronger”, right?
The year started strong but also quietly as usual – nothing happens much during the winter in Canada. We had some lovely dinners with friends and family, and we had our work and our nanny to take care of Sofia. I struggled with some insomnia at the beginning of the year so I worked with my doctor to get me back on track – this did improve in the first part of the year. Sometimes I still need to take medication for my sleep, but I am doing much better.
We also went for a weekend away with Nicolas in February to have some adult time together and did some cross-country skiing. It was wonderful to have a break from Sofia and spend the weekend together.
Even though February started nicely, it did not end like that. I will never forget waking up on February 24th and reading the message from my mother saying that the war started and my grandparents are in the bomb shelter. I could not believe it – what followed was a long day of streaming news and trying to reach relatives in Ukraine. It all grew into weeks of waking up with the news and falling to sleep with the news and of crying oneself to sleep because of the news. I don’t remember March and April very well. I recollect trying to focus on my life but it was a big mental blur. Nicolas thought I was going to go crazy and I thought so too.
At the end of April, my team was going for Hawaii for the work meetup. I hesitated for a while but ultimately decided to go as everyone thought it would do me good – both to meet my team and socialize but also to break from circles of news and more news. I quite enjoyed seeing my colleagues in person after the long Covid break, and I also enjoyed the warm air and the ocean.
I spent my birthday on the plane back to Canada and came back right in time for Sofia’s birthday. I also came back to doing the code test for the junior software engineer role at work. I have been working for some time with my mentor and studying on my own to become a software engineer and the hiring team thought I was ready to do the test. I was far from being confident that I would pass it. I spent pretty much the whole May working on my code test – every day of May, I would put Sofia to sleep after dinner and go hide in my cave to work through the tasks. I almost gave up a few times but at the end I made it. I will be starting my new role as a junior software engineer in January 2023! I am both nervous – because there is still so much to learn – and excited – I am very curious about what this new journey will bring. I have spent quite some time trying to figure out what I like doing. In essence, my Happiness Engineer role at Automattic was my first real full-time job. I am grateful to have experienced many rotations and projects in the past years that let me explore what aligns most with me. And I think I can finally say that I love writing code and building things. I love the element of creation in writing code.
June and July got busy for us again as we were preparing for a huge move – to the Netherlands. We had to sell our home, and our car and ship our things overseas. We had some fun moments with the family but we also started preparing what we could, we signed the sale offer for our home and sold some of the items that we owned. Nicolas left to start working in the Netherlands in the middle of July and my dad came over from Europe to help me disassemble furniture and get ready for the move. Most of the days, we packed stuff hiding in the AC from Montreal heat but we also managed to go to Montreal Botanical Garden and explore some local parks.
My dad left just a day before my sabbatical started in August! I brought Sofia to my parents-in-law, packed one million boxes, and a few days later the movers took our things to be shipped to the Netherlands. We did not know back then that this will take 4 months to get sorted but one can hope. On August 6, I took a plane with Sofia and Sherlock to the Netherlands and so our new chapter began.
We only spent there a week and Nicolas brought us to my parents in the Czech Republic for a few weeks of vacation. We still did not have any furniture in our Dutch house and I wanted to spend some time with them so I ended up staying over 6 weeks until the middle of September. My grandparents came over from Ukraine to meet Sofia and it was definitely a highlight. I went for runs, read a lot, and spent most of my days outside in the fresh air at my parents’ summerhouse. Days seemed slow back then but now they seem to be like summer bliss.
In the middle of September, Nicolas and I took 4 days trip to hike in the Austrian Alps. There was a specific place where I wanted to go and my parents were kind enough to keep Sofia so we spent hours hiking in the mountains, having schnitzel and Austrian beer in the evening.
At the end of September, my brother-in-law came for a visit from Canada so we spent some time in our city, Nicolas went to Germany with him and I took a trip to Amsterdam. In October, still with none of our furniture in sight, we started to prepare for my return to work. We found a childminder and eventually, a daycare, where Sofia started going in November. She loved the place but it came with its own complications. Starting the first week of November, we were sick for about 6 weeks non-stop.
In the middle of that sickness, I was scheduled to go to the USA for a work trip. I almost made it but not quite – I got stuck in Iceland during my layover. Eventually, I managed to get my flight back to the Netherlands.
November was a very difficult month for us – apart from being sick most of the time, Sofia and I were waiting for our Dutch residence permit which limited a lot of things I could do. I could not get a bank account, apply for a child benefit, or start operating my Dutch company through which I am now going to be employed. This did not interfere with our everyday life as much but this bureaucracy heaviness hanging over you for months did not make things easy. It is a constant stress that does not go away.
Speaking of the heaviness of November, we finally received our furniture on November 15. The first thing that we did was to assemble our bed and that felt like the best day of our lives after sleeping on an inflatable bed for 4 months. Unfortunately, a lot of our furniture also got damaged in the move so the battle with the insurance company will definitely continue into 2023. At the end of November, my grandmother also was taken to the hospital with a mini-stroke – she lost consciousness and 911 had to be called. Not an easy month, I am telling you.
December brought a bit more light in. Sofia’s and mine permits were finally approved and our paperwork issues mostly got sorted (there are still some details but they are much easier). We all got rotavirus at the beginning of December so that ruined some of our plans a bit but we still managed to drive to the Czech Republic to see my parents and bring Sherlock for holidays there. We spent a week with them (passing the rotavirus further) and then got back to the Netherlands taking a plane a day later to Montreal. We are now spending three weeks in Canada with family and friends.
2022 was a hard and eventful year. Some things went well such as seeing more of my family, reading 20 books, and passing the code test for a new position but some other things fell behind. In October, I started feeling a lot of pain in my back and I never really had a chance to work on fixing the pain. So now, I am a 27-year-old with chronic back pain. I also could not run as much because of moving between different places and then just being sick for weeks by the end of the year. In 2023, I would definitely like to focus more on my health and to strengthen my body.
Among other plans is being more intentional with my time. I noticed that I spend a lot of time on social media which I do not like. I do not produce anything, I just consume things. It has a damaging effect on my attention span and my focus. I would like to dedicate this time instead to cultivating relationships with people around me and some meaningful hobbies. I also noticed that I need to “empty” my brain to be able to sleep and function well. I tend to get hyper-focused on things and turn them around in my head for a while. My coach says that writing will really help me but I keep on avoiding it. Or I start and then drop it a few weeks after. Maybe it is time to start more seriously with it.
Anyhow, enough of my ramblings. Let’s see what 2023 brings!
What a challenging year! And yet, some really lovely highlights/positive experiences here, too. I appreciate reading about how you went through all of that, and what you look forward to in 2023.
I’m with you on less social media and more creativity/hobbies/producing things (vs. mindless consumption). We can do it!