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Looking back at 2022

Sanna Stefansson
Sanna Stefansson
13 min read
Looking back at 2022
Scottish Highlands, always a highlight.

What a fucking year, I thought when I looked back at 2020.

What a fucking year, I thought when I looked back at 2021.

And now, looking back at 2022, again; what a fucking year.

Let's rewind.


January: Mezcal, Mexico, and Covid

January kicked off in Mexico. These were still covid times and only a few options available for travelers wanting a break from European winter, so we opted to join friends in Playa del Carmen. This was not the place for me, and while we had fun exploring cenotes and local food, PdC is not a place I'm likely to return to. A week into the new year, covid finally caught up with me and knocked me out for a few days. Recovered just in time to participate in the Nomadbase conference.

The upside was having a lot of focus time to get work done, and of course, I enjoyed a few mezcal cocktails AFK. Oh, and I did a temazcal session. (Short review: it's really, really fucking hot.)

February: Offline time and volcano adventures

By February, I had enough of Mexico and changed my plans to meet friends in Antigua, Guatemala. I used my vacation to go offline at a yoga retreat by Lake Atitlán. Enjoyed five days of practicing yoga and immersing myself in The Name of the Wind series.

I also experienced my first earthquake, I woke up from the bed shaking, and it took me a minute to understand what was happening. Naively got more excited than scared.

While still suffering from post-covid fatigue and barely being able to walk up five stairs without losing my breath, I thought it was a great idea to hike a volcano at 3000+ meters altitude. No regrets, but that was among the hardest things I've done physically. Wrote all about it here.

March: Lisbon routines and tipsy yoga retreat

In March, we returned to Lisbon, and I was grateful to be home. This was a month of getting my health back and catching up on work. For my birthday, Tom surprised me by booking us into the most extravagant yoga retreat, which included New Orleans food and an open bar. Maybe not the textbook definition of healthy, but it sure was what my soul needed.

April: Family visits in Europe

In April, we went to Sweden for a few days. Most importantly for Tom to cash in on his Christmas present, a tasting menu at Fotografiska. The food and wine pairing was A+, and really, why does not every museum have a champagne bar? We also spent quality time with a bunch of puppies and stopped by Funky Chicken for my favorite burger.

We then made our way to visit family in the Netherlands before heading back to Lisbon. Bought an e-bike which made getting around Lisbon's many hills much more fun.

May: London and writing

As I write this out, I'm beginning to see how insane our lives are. Trust me, we will be slowing down at one point, hopefully soon.

May started with a trip to London, where we ate all the food and saw Ocean at the End of the Lane live. I loved the book and the theater performance equally. Such a magical experience; go see it if you have the opportunity.

After that, I took the train up north to join my first writing retreat (which will not be the last). This year I set out to take my writing more seriously, and while I didn't reach my goal, I have made creative writing part of my life again. And it all started at Arvon.

Gin & Tonic Fridays continued to be an honored tradition, and I got slightly obsessed with Edinburgh Gin Distillery.

June: Lisbon focus and friends visiting

June kicked off with Sandra and Ida visiting Lisbon. As you get older, spending uninterrupted quality time with friends you've known for 25+ years feels special.

Went to Rock in Rio, which was not my favorite festival, but seeing The National perform live was worth it. Kept hanging out at Jaya and worked on my aerial hoop skills. Went to my first Storytelling Lisboa event, which instantly became a favorite monthly activity.

July: Quick visit to the Netherlands, Lisbon solitude

Big news: I'm officially no longer a Swedish resident!

Went to the Netherlands for the infamous Via Via festival. Lots of fun. Went back to Lisbon alone and enjoyed doing solo time my preferred way: spending far too much money on brunch and coffee while having my nose in a book.

Enjoyed the beach, did a ton of aerial, visited Ikea more than anyone should for the sake of their own sanity, and our garden took shape.

August: Scotland and Burning Man

Ok, now things are getting crazy. Bear with me.

We started with a road trip around Scotland. We rented a van outside Edinburgh and drove up to the Highlands. Enjoyed hiking, climbing trees, and taking cold plunges in every loch (including Loch Ness!). Happened to get a Crabbie's Ginger Beer, and after the first sip, I suddenly remembered how obsessed I was with this very beverage when I lived in Glasgow in 2006. Major nostalgia ensued.

After the road trip, we had a few days of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. We saw Daniel Sloss' "In progress" show (I love Sloss, but yea, that was clearly material in progress), a theater about the evolution of sex (A+), and Vidura BR's Monsoon Season (5/5 laughing crying emojis).

On our way home, we stopped by Cambridge for a night to visit Tom's aunt and uncle. We got university tours, had tea in a tea garden, and I compulsively visited every single bookshop in town.

Came back to Lisbon to squeeze out all the work I had to do while packing and somehow managed to get to the Swedish embassy to vote. A racist old man started questioning me on what I voted for and proceeded to tell me I was everything that was wrong with our country. Charming. My sincere sympathies to anyone who has to deal with an SD voter in their life.

We got on a flight to San Francisco a day later – time to burn! I already covered Burning Man in a post of its own, but in short, it was rough and much-needed. There's nothing like the Black Rock Desert to shake you up and help you shift perspective.

September: Decompression and back to Lisbon

After the burn, we drove to Lake Tahoe to decompress. Tom and I quickly realized two nights were not enough and rebooked our flights to get an extra day of rest and chill. One of our better decisions this year. One of my worse was thinking I could handle an edible while hiking, completely disregarding my track record with edibles (seriously, nothing makes me sleepier). Somehow made it back in one piece.

Back in Lisbon, we went to Brunch Electronik, enjoyed the last weeks of beach time, found a new favorite wine bar, and most of all, I enjoyed being home and having routines again. Which, of course, meant a lot of time practicing aerial at Jaya.

Oh, and I gave my notice for the company I've worked with for two years.

October: Home in Lisbon

I upgraded my iPhone. Yes, it's worth mentioning. The quality of images and videos is noticeable. Had date nights, but Lisbon weather in October was getting unpredictable, and our attempt at the outdoor cinema resulted in a taxi home due to pouring rain.

Went to a Halloween party as Cassie in the Oklahoma meltdown scene from Euphoria, which, I realize, is a bit niche. (But I was amused, and if you haven't watched it, you should; it's iconic.)

But mostly, October was about wrapping up work and, again, having routines (can you sense a theme?).

November: Lisbon, Nerja, Berlin, Stockholm

First month without work! I was all set on doing NaNoWriMo, but while I wrote more consistently than I had in years (definitely a win!), my mental health was going downhill rapidly, and focus was a significant challenge.

Went to Websummit one day, but stress and sleep issues caught up with me, and I was getting sick. Drove over to Spain for a few days to visit family.

Then it was time for the main event of November, doing a home swap with another couple and living three weeks in Berlin! In part because we both love the city, but it was also to see if we could see ourselves setting up a new home base here.

(Spoiler alert; yes, we can.)

Our Berlin schedule was intense because that is how we seem to do everything these days. We saw Monolink and Tove Lo live; both were incredible in their own ways. Went to a fine dining experience with friends. Went to more clubs than I have in years.

Had friends over, ate a ton of food, visited museums, went to a Christmas market and got tipsy on glühwein, had sauna days, and started learning to dance Lindy Hop and Charleston. Tried to keep my aerial hoop strength. The temperature plummeted. And I finally started therapy.

Went to Sweden for a couple of days to see friends and do some errands.

December: Vipassana, Christmas, Thailand

Came back to Lisbon a bit, still struggling with my mental health. Had an experience that helped me face the extent of this and how I had been hiding from it by staying busy. With this insight, I went into my third 10 days of silence.

It was rough, and I will share more about it at some point. But I did come out feeling calmer and with more clarity.

With one week left in Lisbon, we decided to organize a Christmas dinner with a Swedish theme since I love pushing our weird traditions on people. Tom made Toast Skagen, and I was in charge of meatballs. Obviously, there was a lot of snappsvisor, and never has a group been more out of sync in their singing. Managed to squeeze in a visit to Arkhe, too.

Christmas was celebrated in the Netherlands with Tom's family. If you're wondering what is wrong with us for traveling this way, you're not alone. Two travel junkies in one relationship create a lot of insane plans.

This brings me to two days before New Year's. Back at the airport, we made our way to Thailand and Koh Phangan, where we ended the year. A bit too enthusiastically for your truly, perhaps, but all in all, it was needed.

What a year

If you're exhausted just reading this, I'm right there with you. This year knocked the wind out of me, and while I feel I'm on the right track with my mental health, this year has raised many questions and changes in perspective. Growth periods are needed, but next time it would be nice if the hard life lessons could come slower so I can process them without feeling like I'm the main character in the 145th season of Sunset Beach*. Thnx universe.


*If you get that reference, congratulations, you are also old now.

Journal

Sanna Stefansson

Lisbon-based Swede who dabbles in creative writing and has too many hobbies. By day I freelance in Product and Project Management and advocate for working remotely.

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