When I think of year 2022 I think about the famous first line in Great Expectations: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” After two years of COVID restrictions, we got back to travel in a big way this year, doing extensive travel in the US and Europe this year. With bigger kids and more flexibility to travel, we had one of our best travel years ever as a family of four. But due to some personal pain I was experiencing it was also a hard year in I had to learn to adapt on how I travel and how I run my business and blog. In the end, the year turned out to be one of immense growth, even though the trauma of all that happened.
This was a BIG travel year for us. After two years of cautious COVID travel, in 2022 we were ready to get back into travel in a big way. We traveled more this year than we have in the last 5 years. Some were trips that were pushed back from 2020, some were milestone celebrations, some were spontaneous. There was so much travel, and because of other reasons I’ll get into later, I’m still not caught up on all the writing. But we had some amazing adventures.
When I looked at all the travel we had planned for the year, I realized we had a ton of busy travel planned. These were trips, not vacations. Vacations are where you relax. Trips are where you are going and sightseeing or experiencing every day. I wanted to make sure to squeeze in a vacation. We booked a trip to Hawaii for the school’s February break. We booked flights and a hotel in Waikiki, one half day tour to Pearl Harbor, and that was it. I made no other plans. We spent our mornings at the beach and our afternoons at the pool. We ate, napped, relaxed, and did nothing else. It was amazing. It was exactly what I needed
April is when we took a trip that has been put off since April 2020. My stepsister in Virginia finally was able to celebrate her wedding reception (they got married last year in the church with only a few people) with all her friends and family. We decided to take the opportunity to take the kids to Washington DC for a few days so they could see the Nation’s Capital. We were exhausted for 4 days seeing all the amazing Smithsonian Museums, the Memorials, and famous buildings in DC. Then, we went over to Richmond, where the kids had 1 day to do a weeks’ worth of make-up work for school, before we spent time with family and celebrated my stepsister’s marriage.
This was the big trip this year. My daughter celebrated her 10th birthday. If you know anything about us, you know that we like to celebrate milestone birthdays with trips. My daughter got to pick where she wanted to go, and she wanted to go to Paris. I didn’t want to go to Europe for just one week, so we decided to tack on a city/country we never went to before – Lisbon, Portugal. My mom, who always wanted to go to Lisbon, joined us for the whole trip. A group of 6 of us went through Paris and Lisbon for two weeks. It was truly magical, and everything we all dreamed of.
In August, we saw a quick working trip back to New Jersey, where we saw some family, the kids had some fun summer, NJ time, and we had a quick family reunion.
September had us take a quick weekend trip to LA to attend the Bar Mitzvah of the son of a dear friend. It was a very quick trip, but we took the opportunity to enjoy the party, swim in the hotel pool, eat some good food, and listen to some good audio books on the drive.
October was our surprise trip. My husband was invited to speak at an industry conference being held in Rome. At first, I tried to figure out how the whole family could come, but with the late notice and expensive hotel, I couldn’t get it to work. Then my mom offered to fly out and stay with the kids so I could join my husband. A couple’s trip, sign me up!! My husband and I spent 10 days together in Rome. I even got a few days to explore the city by myself. It was a wonderful trip, and I am so glad we went on.
After promising I wouldn’t do any more travel this year, my best friend and I planned one last weekend trip for the families. We decided to check out the new Great Wolf Lodge near our house. It was the perfect weekend getaway where the kids were able to relax, enjoy and have a blast, and the adults were able to…well we were able to watch the kids enjoy that and spend some time chatting and relaxing with each other.
In September of 2021, I did a weekend kayaking trip with my son. I had been experiencing some shoulder pain in my left arm on and off since April before that, but the kayaking trip triggered extreme pain that sent me to an orthopedist who diagnosed me with frozen shoulder. He gave me some exercises and sent me on my way. It was improving until all of the sudden it was getting worse instead of better, even with the same exercises. I went to a different orthopedist who specialized in shoulders. They did an MRI, diagnosed me with a small tear, but suggested we try PT before we go the surgical route. I was on the mend until in Hawaii when, after over using my right arm, I used it the wrong way and suddenly felt even more intense pain, more intense than I ever felt on the left, in my right shoulder. More MRIs and it turns out I had an identical tear in my right. Now I had a double frozen shoulder and was told not only would my recovery be longer, but I was in no way ever a candidate for surgery as you had to have a working arm during the recovery. So began my year long journey of physical therapy, cortisone shots (to varying degrees of success), and learning to live with fairly constant pain. Even though I kept my part time working schedule of the past two years, I found at the end of the day, I was so tired from fighting the pain all day long, I would go to sleep with the kids. I did little writing because most of it was done in the evenings, and by then I was exhausted and in pain. All of the wonderful systems I put in place last year to manage my blog and social media fell apart. All my goals and careful professional planning fell apart.
I could go for periods of time with no pain. I would get bursts of energy. Then, I would have a setback, and find myself on the couch again with an ice pack and sadness. It was so frustrating. But I learned a lot from the experience. I learned to give myself grace. I had to just accept that I couldn’t do everything and that was okay. I learned my kids are significantly more capable than I gave them credit for. Far too late, I made them responsible for carrying their own items when we travel as well as any extra stuff we needed because I could no longer carry weight on my shoulders. I learned how to ask for help reaching things, carrying things, etc. My son is now taller (and much stronger) than I am, so I am discovering that I can use that newfound ability. I joke that he and his sister are my good arms.
After my last cortisone shot, my shoulders finally started to slowly improve. Around October, I started to find energy again. I could stay up later. I found I was no longer taking pain medications on a regular basis. I could get my arms over my head. I ran out of Physical Therapy sessions but continued my exercises at home and continued to see improvement. For the first time in over a year, I can do yoga again, and even returned to the gym to try and get back some of my arm strength. I don’t have my complete range of motion back, but it’s significantly improved, and I’m just hoping that little by little, it will eventually return.
Given the pain I felt all year long, often aggravated by my refusal to give up my travel and other pursuits, I expected to have a down year professionally. I joined an accountability group to work towards my professional goals, but each month found that I achieved very little of what I had set out to do that month. It was defeating. When I went to do my yearend review in preparation for planning 2022, I found quite a surprise. Yes I didn’t finish most of the goals I had set out. But I had set my word of the year as Growth, and I was surprised to see how much I had actually grown. I had grown my social media following by 20%, even with less consistent posting than the previous year. I had still managed to write 22 blog posts, almost one every 2 weeks. And I got some great exposure outside of the blog as well. My Argosy Cruises blog post was posted on the Argosy Cruises blog, and I was interviewed by NerdWallet about traveling as a family on points and heavily quoted. But most surprising of all I had the biggest number of views and visitors 2022 in the 10 years I had had the blog!!! You see, prior to 2016, blogs got a lot of views because they came up as news. After the 2016 election, blog posts viewings tended to plummet as Google started to suppress them. I had never reached my 2016 numbers no matter how much I wrote, optimized, etc. But something I did this year was working because I found a ton of people came to see my site. More than ever in the 10 year history of having this blog. Sometimes it feels like I’m writing and throwing this stuff out into the void. So it was validating to see that people really are still finding me and finding what I have to stay useful.
Plans for 2023
Now that my pain has significantly subsided, and I am finding my energy and groove back, I am hoping to take 2023 by the horns and achieve some big travel and goals this year. In terms of travel:
- A February trip to Mexico City
- A March trip to New York for the Latino TravelFest
- A spring break trip to San Diego
- An April and December trip to New Jersey for weddings
- A big trip in December to celebrate my husband’s 50th!
In terms of goals for the blog, I’m hoping to:
- Write more (need to catch up from last year and share 2023 content)
- Promote my email list and create a newsletter to send out. (If you sign up for my email list, you get a free good spreadsheet travel budget planner)
- Maybe I’ll finally write that book I’ve always wanted to write (A girl can dream)
I’m excited to see what 2023 brings us. But, given how my life has gone since 2019, I know that everything can change in an instant, and I will give myself brace if it does. Because, at the end of the day what is most important is having your health, your happiness, and your family safe and beside you. And no matter what 2022 threw at me, I managed to keep all of those. So maybe I didn’t hit my goals, but that is ok. Because I’m still here, and I’m still able to share with you. Hope you have a wonderful, healthy, and travel filled 2023!
* Starred Photos taken by Atma Photography