2022 Recap: Acceptance

2022 was a very mixed bag for me. High highs and super low lows. For many months it felt like we couldn’t catch a break. Isn’t that life, though? We take the bad with the good and do our best with it, even if our best feels completely incompetent. The beginning and the end of the year have been dreamy, with lots of travel, adventure, and growth. The middle kind of sucked. But even in the midst of the suck, there were bright spots.

Finishing up 2022 with Christmas at the Grand Canyon with Melissa!

Watch my Instagram highlights reel here!

A timeline of what sticks out in 2022 looks like this (disclaimer: this includes the good, the bad and the ugly):

January – February – We snowboarded and hotspringed in Idaho and Utah, went ice climbing for the first time, and got our fill of winter! Then we road tripped through Mexico, climbed our highest mountain by a long shot, Pico de Orizaba (18,490′) and generally had a blast. I stopped talking to my parents due to their lack of support and our religious differences, and I still feel conflicted about this.

March – We flew to Costa Rica to host our biggest retreat yet, the first of many to come at The Sanctuary at Two Rivers. Our group was incredible and open, and we marveled at how well everything flowed!

April – We quickly drove back to the USA from Mexico City in time to host our Joshua Tree retreat, start setting up Grand Canyon Eco Retreat for the season, and then hiked the Trans Catalina Trail two times in a row with more adventurous retreat groups! Whew, we were tired after this month!

May – Visited family in Pennsylvania, yay! Our season at home began, with lots of local adventures with friends. However, we were already feeling a bit over-extended after the whirlwind of spring. I got back to my lovely students in Flagstaff yoga land!

June – Ohhhhhhh June. I ran my first ultramarathon and did really well! We took a short break for a #vanlife trip and I also ran (more like hiked) a Vertical Kilometer in Tahoe! Unfortunately the next day Zach had his climbing accident and life changed forever.

June through October – These months were the roughest we’ve had in many years, possibly ever. Zach’s recovery did not go smoothly and he went through multiple surgeries. We experienced firsthand the atrociousness of the US health care system. Trying to hold it all together with him laid up, I somehow survived wild PTSD symptoms and cried more than I ever have in my life. I went through multiple bouts of insomnia. I continued running the retreats, trying to be a channel for the yoga, because I personally had nothing to give. I share this to paint an accurate picture, not a glossed-over version of the year!

Even throughout this time, there were bright spots. Our friends came through for us in huge ways. We got to host our first intern at Grand Canyon Eco Retreat, Sydney, and she was incredible. She’s coming back next year!!!!!!!!!!!

I took over leadership of the yoga program at our local Juvenile Detention Center, and continued to teach at the studios, with lots of amazing help from other teachers when I just couldn’t do it due to bad mental health.

Zach had his own mental health experience through this time which was very different than mine, and largely positive. But that’s his story to share. He heroically cooked for almost all of our retreats while non-weight-bearing for over 4 months. He only needed a substitute chef once!

We continued to meet compassionate, understanding people on our retreats, and I tried to adventure in nature as much as I could to keep myself sane. I flew to San Francisco for a weekend and wandered the hilly streets listening to Pema Chodron.

We learned a lot. That’s an understatement.

September – I ran our first Silverton, Colorado retreat, yay!

I got covid for the first time but Zach managed to avoid it and somehow took care of me while healing from his second surgery. I built our amazing Mongolian yurt with help from friends and continued to be exhausted all the time for about a month post-covid. Yuck.

October-November – Zach’s ankle did, finally, heal well enough for him to get his cast off. The journey of physical therapy began. We wrapped up the busy season at home. Ran our Baja retreat which was relaxed and fun, and I decided I need to surf more.

We failed throughout the whole year to make much progress on building our tiny house, but we did get some of our utilities installed. Living in a van on our off-grid property was challenging. Many thanks to all the friends who let us house-sit for them.

December – So here we are, back where we started the year, in an airbnb in Mexico. There’s no way to put a tidy bow on 2022, so I won’t even try. But we are both taking some time to heal. His ankle and my heart get stronger every day. Walking slowly down cobblestone streets, marveling at colors, is its own meditation. I’ve always been a fast walker. But now is the time to be slow.

I have no resolutions for 2023. I have goals but I’m holding them loosely, ready to take life as it comes, as an imperfect human. To close this novel, a quote from Pema that got me through:

“Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something; they come from a sense of poverty. We can’t simply relax with ourselves. We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment. We feel that someone else knows what’s going on, but that there’s something missing in us, and therefore something is lacking in our world.
Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look. That’s the compassionate thing to do. That’s the brave thing to do…
We can know the nature of dislike, shame, and embarrassment and not believe there’s something wrong with that. We can drop the fundamental hope that there is a better “me” who one day will emerge. We can’t just jump over ourselves as if we were not there. It’s better to take a straight look at all our hopes and fears. Then some kind of confidence in our basic sanity arises.
This is where renunciation enters the picture— renunciation of the hope that our experience could be different, renunciation of the hope that we could be better. The Buddhist monastic rules that advise renouncing liquor, renouncing sex, and so on are not pointing out that those things are inherently bad or immoral, but that we use them as babysitters. We use them as a way to escape; we use them to try to get comfort and to distract ourselves. The real thing that we renounce is the tenacious hope that we could be saved from being who we are. Renunciation is a teaching to inspire us to investigate what’s happening every time we grab something because we can’t stand to face what’s coming.”

On the first reading this quote may seem negative. Give up hope? The more I ponder it the more freedom I feel. Can we accept ourselves as we are before we try to change? We don’t have to fight off the negative feelings or thoughts, we have to accept them, sit with them, and see what they have to teach us. We go into the shadow to find the light. Wishing you a 2023 filled with acceptance.