I did not manage to write a review last year (2021) because of many reasons, but sometimes that’s ok. I prioritised things that were more important and that paid off this year (2022).
For me, 2022 was a year entirely dedicated to recovery, health and growth. Since 2019 I have had quite a few challenges but also struggled with health and my focus this year was to recover from all of that. Probably the most difficult, challenging and important part was the work I’ve done over the year in therapy.
What did work?
In December 2020 I started writing a daily journey. For the first year that was pretty sketchy in terms of consistency but also I didn’t know what to write. But as is my belief, the best way to figure out things is to try it. Based on that I stuck with it and have been writing more and more, evolving the format and changing depending on what felt right.
In 2022 I wrote almost every single day. To date I’ve written 218 800 words, for 1074 days and 830 entries. These stats don’t mean anything really, but they give a unique perspective that can be useful long term to reflect on the time spent doing this.
I’ve wanted to write this consistently for a long time and writing / language in general is one of my best ways to express myself and also it helps me to think and reflect.
The interesting parts of this writing were when writing travel entries, collecting quotes and reflecting on them, but mostly when using it as a tool to work through self exploration and learning the skill of being mindful. Slowing things down and observing. There’s many ways of doing that, but writing consistently has really helped me and is my preferred way.
At the start of 2022 I decided to restart my use of Duolingo and to try to spend some time exposing myself to Romanian, mainly because I am surrounded by many Romanians and wanted to feel a bit more comfortable with the language. I’ve done 364 consecutive days of learning so far. Duolingo is not necessarily the tool that will allow you to learn a language, I have no illusions about it, but I think it’s a great way to get exposed to the vocabulary of that language and build a familiarity and a base to start form when you are too busy to commit to more time. For that purpose it has served me greatly so far.
Let’s start with some stats as usual
- January – 218.83 km –27:25:51h – 10,489 kcal – 47 workouts
- February – 81.41 km – 15:37:50h – 5,912 kcal – 34 workouts
- March – 116.92 km – 19:36:54h – 6,798 kcal – 35 workouts
- April – 262.68 km – 46:46:45h – 22,264 kcal – 36 workouts
- May – 181.03 km – 29:28:18h – 10,963 kcal – 45 workouts
- June – 121.67 km – 27:10:19h – 9,682 kcal – 42 workouts
- July – 157.49 km – 28:52:22h – 10,123 kcal – 43 workouts
- August – 123.60 km – 26:22:30h –9,336 kcal – 34 workouts
- September – 117.89 km – 24:29:07h – 9,334 kcal – 40 workouts
- October – 58.63 km – 38:34:01h – 10,607 kcal – 49 workouts
- November – 83.33 km – 41:49:21h – 13,498 kcal – 47 workouts
- December – 112.54 km – 37:48:19h – 12,963 kcal – 43 workouts
Total: 1636.02km – 30,212m elevation – 363:52:00h – 131,969 kcal – 495 workouts
That also means training every single day of the year, which was one of my goals and I am super proud to have achieved it.
As I mentioned in the intro, my focus this year was on recovery. I spent a lot of time building up strength, mobility and flexibility in my body. Through many hours of consistent training with patience and concentration. In particular I am very proud to have achieved the press to handstand after almost a full year of training for it. But overall, I became a lot more balanced in my strength, working on core but also balance and coordination. Spending a lot of time doing bodyweight based exercises allowed me to train whenever we travelled, to keep the consistency. But also it has been a great tool to get to know what my body is capable of too.
Another huge part of my training was focusing on mobility and flexibility. Areas where I can see a great improvement is back bend mobility, hips and hamstrings and huge improvements in wrist flexibility and strength. Flexibility doesn’t come easy, it is a much slower process than building strength and it requires patience, discipline and humility to progress and not get injured, and I have learned a lot in the process of doing it for over a year now.
I’ve mixed up the sports this year, doing a mix of cycling, running, hiking, strength training, climbing and Krav Maga. It was almost a year of re-learning what my body can do in new ways and old ways. Aiming for balance, rather than any extremes.
There were a few different things this year. At the beginning of the year I tried to go to a local folklore dance group that practices Bulgarian traditional dances and other folklore dances from around Eastern Europe. However, I found that the group didn’t accept beginners and they were simply practicing dances for performances and the learning curve was too steep (mainly because there not only Bulgarian dances but other types too).
Another interesting experiment was going to Krav Maga classes more or less for about three months. This was a very exciting new experience and it taught me a lot. I liked the nature of the classes, little ritual and straight into the practical. There were a lot of exercises to make you react appropriately in overwhelming situations. Closely surrounded by people, falling on the ground, losing some of your senses while being attacked, etc. It was an amazing experience, but I also realised that it’s not something that I am passionate about and doesn’t excite me as much as other sports. Still, a few lessons will stay with me.
Resting heart rate
The average resting heart rate for the year was 52 bpm. And the average heart rate. when active was 142bpm.
I am much happier with my sleep pattern this year. I think introducing magnesium has really helped and overall realising that I can’t sleep past a certain time in the morning or that light wakes me up no matter how tired I am and working around those things.
Very much low levels of stress with the highest being around August when we travelled to Peru and I had to drive there 😀
An average of 2800 kcal burned per day.
I am pretty happy with an average of 10,000 steps per day. And we very much consciously choose to walk many places and not own a car for all the benefits walking brings us.
It was an on / off good relationship with good this year. We’ve had some busy times and I feel like the first thing that degrades with less time are my eating habits. For example, in winter I struggle with energy and I compensate with more food. In summer it’s much easier to reach for salads and the lighter meals.
It wasn’t particularly a bad year for eating, but I know there could be improvements. If weight is of any guidance I’ve not really gained nor lost weight.
In May 2022 I decided to stop drinking, and apart form a wedding and Christmas I’ve stuck to it, which I am super happy with. It really does make a difference to feeling more sharp and easier to concentrate at work, etc. I also find that I sleep much better.
Probably one of the most important developments this year was the amount of work I put into my personal growth and mental health. I’ve had the privilege to work with a therapist. There are an endless amount of taboos, stereotypes and misconceptions about going to therapy or even mental health in general. I’ve struggled a lot with mental health through the years and growing in a culture where you were either “fine” or needing to go to the “loonie bin” it took me a while to catch up with things and it was mainly in my own time.
But this year I’ve been working with a therapist and have seen incredible growth and improvements in my inner life and as a result my mental health. I understand a lot more about myself, but also am actively working on overcoming bad patterns and just living better. The focus has been, apart from other things on noticing, mindfulness, daily meditation (learning different ways to do that) and self compassion. These are all very difficult skills (especially if you haven’t practiced them) and for me a big part of the work is undoing all the misconceptions, and ideas I have about them. I am still very new to all those skills, but so far it has been a very interesting journey.
I am truly grateful for having the luck to find a therapist that fits with all the requirements I have and be able to work well together. Based on my experience, I would say with absolute confidence that I believe everyone could benefit from a good therapy. For me it’s the unofficial “guide on how to be a human”.
We didn’t travel as much as previous years in 2022, but still there were some amazing trips and many memories created.
January – Gdansk – Poland – We made it somewhat of a tradition now to travel in January for Andra’s birthday, as it’s always difficult in the dark winter (and after Christmas). This year we went in a bigger group to Grandsk and it was an amazing experience. We spent a lot of time exploring the city and it’s history, visiting museums, tours and eating tons of food. The weather was ridiculously cold, so it meant on our runs we had to be extra fast to keep warm 😀
April – Finland – I spent 9 days with my brother in Finland, mainly hiking an average of 30km per day through the forests and a mix of camping and staying at the traditional local huts with saunas. It was surreal. For many the landscape there might seem boring and repetitive, but that’s only until you adjust to it and start to see the beauty. It was my kind of holiday – snow, new place and spending a lot of time in the outdoors and I absolutely loved it.
April – Greece
May – Greece – I suffer badly from hay fever from May until August, and this year I realised that that hay fever is basically non existent in Greece, so I spent more time there (luckily being able to work remotely) and it was a game changer.
June – Malaga, Spain – Again going as a group, with Andra we loved Malaga. We love Spain in general, but in particular Malaga was beautiful with its architecture influenced by the Moorish empire. We also went to see the Camino del Rey which was breath-taking. Dramatic rock faces, where you get to walk high up on a narrow path and be part of the landscape in a unique way.
August – Two weeks in Peru – It’s very difficult to summarise the trip we did with Andra and Tudor to Peru. We spent two weeks there and each day was absolutely packed with activities and new experiences. Spending the majority of the time above 3000m elevation was taxing on the body and humbling. We visited mountains of 5000m, deserts, coastlines, ancient cities, vast mountain ranges in a never-ending array of unique views and experiences. The local people are incredibly friendly and welcoming, the food is diverse and incredibly delicious. It is impossible to summarise a trip like that, but it was definitely an experience of a lifetime.
September – Two weeks in Greece – One of our favourite places and a good time to recover and reconnect, and also spend time with family.
This year we spent a lot more time connecting to friends and family and I loved it. I think having settled in a house really helped with that, as we have had the space to host people. I value my relationships with people and it can be difficult to maintain them and strengthen them through shared experiences when everyone is busy and moving around. There’s always more one can do, but I feel this year has been particularly good in that sense.
I’ve also realised that with Andra we’ve been together for 8 years now, through many ups and downs, many experiences together and it feels like we are more connected than ever. I am so grateful for that. I think relationships are not for everyone, they do require dedication and thought, to be nurtured and cared for and most importantly they pay off.
Every moment shared is precious and I definitely don’t take any of them for granted. I feel lucky and blessed with the people in my life, every day.
It’s safe to say that our main goal this year was settling into the new house we got at the end of 2021. We enter literally an empty shell, with no furniture. Most of the effort was spent on understanding how to decorate, what we want from our living space now that we can change it and making sure we make smart financial decisions while getting there.
I think we’ve done incredibly well managing that, getting stuff from charity shops, second hand, doing bits ourselves and never going too far. The house has been the biggest investment of our lives, so it took a while to get things back to normal.
This year has been one of the biggest years in terms of my professional growth, in many ways. I can comfortably say that this is the year where I’ve gained the most confidence in the work I do and in overcoming my importer syndrome.
I’ve gained an incredible amount of new skills, but I’ve also grown a community of likeminded people at work. Starting a guild of 5-8 people which has now grown to over 60 people from more than 27 teams. Bringing important discussions together and driving change, relentlessly asking the difficult questions and pushing for change.
Solidifying my skills in micro-frontends, but also improving my position in the business as a lead developer and also crossing over a bit into software architecture.
I also contributed as part of a team to win an internal company hackathon again with a solution that would allow the business to scale and overcome some of their most pressing technical challenges.
And finally, at the end of the year I felt like I’ve reached my limit in terms of the value I could add to the existing company. It was a difficult decision, but after some deliberations I decided to look for another place and was lucky enough to find the perfect fit. So in the new year I will be starting as a principle engineer and looking forward to a lot more growing, to bring everything I’ve learned so far to my new team, but also to learn a lot from them too.
- Creating and growing a strong developer community / guild
- Leading a team
- Winning another hackathon
- Improving as a mentor
- Growing into architecture
- Finding a new job
Toward the end of the year I decided to spend some of my time resting, doing an activity that is relaxing and enjoyable. So I picked up drawing and sketching again, Apart from working with fine-liners and pencils, I am learning about the medium of watercolours and it’s so much fun. I have a few courses I want to do, to learn more, so this is something I hope to continue into the new year.
What didn’t work?
A lot of my reading this past year was mainly audiobooks on long walks or when travelling. Again, mainly fiction, which is quite new for me as I used to read a lot more practical literature in the past, and a welcomed change. I’ve read around 15 books, which is nothing in the grand scheme of things. The ones I can recommend are The Beekeeper of Aleppo and Pachinko.
The year in photos
Overall, it has been a very busy year, a year full of personal growth, strengthening relationships and many new experiences. I am grateful for all of it. 2021 was a very difficult year in comparison, a lot of big changes and personal challenges. In contrast, 2022 turned out to be a year of recovery and much needed recharging. It only makes me excited for 2023.