Thais Freitas

Communications Strategy & Content Writing

2022: My year in review

Mother with two little boys in a forest full of yellow leaves in Quebec

Every December, my partner and I talk about everything that happened over the year, how we felt, and what we want to do in the new year. Today, when we were talking about how tired we are, he said, “Whew, 2022 was so challenging for us,” and then I remembered him saying the same thing about 2021, 2020, and 2019. And yes, all of those years were indeed very challenging for many reasons, but 2022 tops them all.

The last few years have felt like a video game where we keep advancing to a harder level. And boy, did I take a hit this year! If this were really a game, my avatar would desperately need a magic potion or whatever happens in video games to stay in the game. But since this is real life, I’m hanging on to whatever energy I’ve left and planning how to make life a little easier in 2023.

Scene of the game Street Fighter where Chun-Li is beating Cammy and kicking her face
In the game of life, life was Chun-Li and I was Cammy the whole 2022

What 2022 was like

Three words describe my 2022: change, restlessness and fatigue. The three go hand in hand and are the consequence of my own choices.

Here’s the bulk of what happened over the year:

Our housing situation

In December 2021, we moved from Vancouver to Montreal. We hired an agency to find a rental house and, at their suggestion, rented a house on the West Island, where most of the Anglophone community seems to live. The house was great: sunny, cosy, great vibes (no haunting), plenty of room for the kids, and the nicest landlords we could ask for. But… I didn’t like the area: it was too far from downtown Montreal and not pedestrian friendly at all – it was like those American suburbs where you need a car for everything, totally not my style.

After much deliberation, we decided to move to Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, a small town on the South Shore that I fell in love with when we visited – it looks like it’s straight out of a Christmas movie, so charming! We moved here in November, and it’s a place where neighbours know each other and you can walk everywhere. It’s also closer to Thiago’s work and some other places we need to go often, so it’s become easier to get around, and I love exploring our new neighbourhood. But moving twice in less than a year is very stressful and has definitely impacted us.

Eli exploring our new backyard the first week after our move to Saint Bruno – November 2022

Work

I had three jobs in 2022. I had planned to take a few months off this year, but in February I got a job as a content marketing manager for a French company. I was in charge of marketing in North America and they said I didn’t need to know French to work, but it turned out that 95% of the meetings and communications were in French and I never felt so inadequate. Still, I did a lot of cool content marketing stuff and learned a lot, but after six months I realized it was time to move on.

Then I got hired as a marketing specialist at a clean energy company – the work was 100% remote, I created interesting content, and my supervisor was great, but I realized that the corporate world really isn’t my thing – I thought I could do it, but I just can’t get excited about working to increase a company’s bottom line, even if it means a higher bonus for me.

So when the opportunity came to join Outward Bound Canada (OBC) as their communications manager, I said yes right away – it fit with my work experience, my desire to work in a non-profit again, and many issues I’m passionate about, like outdoor education, environmental conservation, and working with youth. I started there in September and couldn’t be happier: The team is wonderful and the work is so interesting and enjoyable that it doesn’t feel like work at all, because I’m getting paid to work on issues I was already committed to in my free time.

But the onboarding process, getting to know everyone, and adjusting to three very different work styles in one year, in addition to all the interviews and tests that the hiring processes required, is extremely time-consuming and exhausting and took up a lot of my year, so I’m glad it’s over.

Mothering

My sons remind me every day that the energy level of young children is directly proportional to how tired their parents are. Need I say more? Parenting is endless work and I honestly had no idea it would be this hard – often I want to crawl under the bed and pass out, but so far I’ve survived every day and still love my two little monsters more than anything – maybe that’s what they call a mother’s superpower? Or Stockholm Syndrome? 🤔

Anyway, parenting was HARD in 2022. I don’t know if every little boy is like this, but mine are rambunctious, messy, and have a really hard time listening – which in turn drives their dad and me crazy. I feel like I’ve never yelled and lost my sh*t as much as I have this year, and I’m sure that’s one of the reasons I’m so tired – and have so many grey hairs now!

On the other hand, it’s wonderful to see them develop and become more and more of a “real person” every day – I love watching the differences in their personalities, sense of humour, tastes, and reactions – it’s like an anthropological experiment happening right in my house. And I couldn’t be more proud of their bond and how they do everything together, even if that means teaming up to wreak havoc around the house, because that’s exactly what I planned for them and what I missed as an only child.

Summer afternoon in Chambly, QC with my scientific experiments

Mental health

Being so tired and going through so many changes took a toll on my mental health – there were moments when I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. But then I’d keep pushing and feel okay again, then hopeless again, and then okay again – it went in cycles.

One thing I noticed is that since I started getting my period again since Kyle was born – about a year ago – I’m having terrible PMS. With all the stress, about a week before my period I turn into an irritable angry demon and can barely stand myself. This makes everything even more difficult, so I’ve been looking for ways to manage and relieve the symptoms, such as going on walks by myself and taking natural medications. I’ll keep an eye on it in the new year and see a doctor if it doesn’t get better – which reminds me, I need to adjust the depression meds I’ve been on for a while and these two things are probably related.

How my 2022 goals turned out

I started the year with six goals:

  1. Get a meaningful job I love
  2. Become fully proficient in French
  3. Eat healthy and exercise three times a week
  4. Write regularly
  5. Resume counselling sessions
  6. Save more money

My main goal, as it has been for the last few years, was to find a job where I feel I’m living according to my purpose and what is important to me. That’s exactly what I have working at OBC. I love what I do, my colleagues are the best, the pay is decent, the work-life balance is great, and I can wear my sweatpants and no shoes every day – what more could I ask for? I’m so grateful for this opportunity and will do my best to help the organization achieve its goals in 2023.

Goal #2: Well, I didn’t need French on the West Island. I even applied for the Quebec government’s Frenchization programme and bought the recommended textbook, but I ended up not taking a single class or even opening the book. I just didn’t have the time or energy. But now that I live in Saint-Bruno, everyone speaks French and I really need to be fluent to fit in. I’m going to sign up for Frenchization again this year and actually make it this time. But to be fair, I’ve been taking a lot of French lessons on Duolingo, which is helping me brush up on what I learned in the four years of private lessons I took a million years ago – so that’s something.

For goal #5, I had about 10 sessions with two different counsellors in 2022. One kept giving me homework (“check this website, call this organisation, do this, do that”) that I just couldn’t keep up with, and the other kept telling me to close my eyes and do mindfulness exercises during the sessions, which really bugged me, so I quit. Therapy is still in the plans, but I’m considering group therapy and am very interested in psychedelic assisted therapy for my depression. I found a facility in Montreal that offers that and plan to sign up for it in 2023.

Goal #6 was achieved. With our new jobs and less expenses, we could definitely save more money than we did in Vancouver, especially since we saved $0 there. haha But moving has too many costs that kept us from saving as much as we wanted/planned/needed. Hopefully if we settle down and don’t move again in the next few years, we won’t spend as much.

Goal #4, to write regularly, was 45% accomplished. Again, not enough free time and energy was a big obstacle, but I’m happy with what I’ve been able to write in my journal, my blog, my ongoing book project, and my three jobs. I love this blog post I recently wrote for OBC, for example, and I’m sure there will be many more writing opportunities in the new year. I’ve come to terms with the fact that my current circumstances don’t allow me to write as much as I’d like, and that this is a temporary situation (like everything in life).

Finally, goal #3, like last year, was a miserable flop. With everything going on, my health was low on the priority list in 2022. My checkups are long overdue, my ears and throat are pretty much permanently inflamed and sore, I’ve had about 273 colds over the year, and I ache all over (but maybe that’s because I’m approaching 40?) Next year, I really need to prioritize taking care of myself, because I can no longer ignore the SOS signs my decrepit body is sending.

Good things that happened in 2022

Despite the hardships, I’m grateful for the year that is ending and all the opportunities we had. My loved ones were all healthy and safe, and after my dad almost died in 2021, I understood that’s what really matters. These were the highlights of my year, in no particular order:

– The move to Quebec and our subsequent move to Saint Bruno. Despite the French language and bizarre politics, I really like it here. I love the snowy, sunny winters, living in a house for the price of a cramped condo in BC, being closer to Brazil and other cool places, and not having to pay an arm and a leg for childcare. It was one of our best decisions and my only regret is that we didn’t do it years ago.

Sunset from the house on the West Island. Cold yes, but so sunny!

– Landing my job at OBC.

– My parents came from Brazil to spend four months with us – every year I eagerly await their visit so I can take a break from parenting and be my sons’ big sister for a while. haha

– Visiting New York City for the second time in my life. Dad has always wanted to go there, so we took my parents there in July. The first time I visited was in the winter of 2006, and returning this year was shocking – the city that felt so magical 16 years ago turned out to be a chaotic, filthy, overpriced, overpopulated, smelly mess full of angry people. It was a disappointing but interesting experience, and I was truly relieved when I returned to our empty, quiet, boring Canadian streets. In case you’re wondering, my dad enjoyed the visit to the city, but he said he’s fine with not setting foot in it ever again. Lol

Mom and dad in the classic photo in Times Square – ps: this place made me want to run away screaming!

– 2022 was a year of meeting new and old people in my life, like my old university friend who’s living in NY, a couple of longtime friends of Thiago and their kids who live in Philadelphia and met us in NY, and the parents, sister and nephew of my oldest childhood friend in Montreal. It was great to be with them again after so long! And this year I became friends with my ex-boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend who also lives in Montreal and sent me a message on LinkedIn – something so unexpected that reminds me of how the world turns and that friends can come from the most unexpected places.

– Eli is potty trained and out of diapers for good – what a relief! Now I can’t wait for Kyle to do the same so I never have to change a diaper again.

– Having a backyard with plenty of room for the kids to play and for me to garden – I’ve grown and harvested eggplant, peppers, potatoes, berries, herbs, cauliflower and lots of salad thingies – a testament to how generous the land is and how much it gives back when we take care of it.

Look at me all proud with the potatoes I planted, harvested and ate!

– All the wildlife we saw in Quebec this year. In our backyard and around the house on the West Island we saw foxes, wild turkeys, deer, rabbits, groundhogs, raccoons and coyotes, plus lots of squirrels and so many beautiful birds – more species than I’ve ever seen in BC!

– I bought a bike and rode it a lot in the spring and summer. Riding alone, listening to music, singing loudly and enjoying my surroundings is one of my favourite things to do!

– We were invited by Immigration Canada to take the citizenship test. After years of procrastination, we finally applied, passed the test, and will take the oath in early 2023 – then we’ll get Canadian passports and be able to vote, which I’m looking forward to.

– I read 23 books (and started and abandoned many others). One of the reasons I’ve managed to do this is that I’ve basically given up social media in 2022 – I don’t check in as often and post even less, and that has given me peace and JOMO. Now every time I feel like checking my profiles, I “check” my Kindle instead and read a few pages, or take French lessons on Duolingo.

– Breaking my kids of their YouTube addiction. This deserves its own detailed post, but basically all the YouTube watching was making them obsessive, aggressive, impatient and very unpleasant, so we went cold turkey – no more cell phones at all. It was easier than I expected, and it’s had nothing but positive effects: They play together all the time now, their attention span is longer, and they’re much calmer and more affectionate – and don’t even ask for YouTube anymore.

– Thiago and I have our own home offices now. He’s in the basement and I’m in what used to be a six-year-old girl’s bedroom, so it’s all pink and purple, but it’s mine! It’s so much better to have my own space to work from home instead of having a desk in our bedroom or trying to work from the living room – I feel so much more productive and relaxed.

– I joined a gym weeks ago and started strength training again after a five-year hiatus (since my first pregnancy). Every single muscle in my body hurts right now, but it feels wonderful to be back at it! I doubt I’ll ever be able to spend three hours a day, six days a week in the gym like I did before I became a parent, but a quick full-body workout three times a week is already doing wonders for my mood and energy.

Looking at this list, I realize that 2022 was a positive year after all. I was going to list the not-so-good things that happened, but you know what? It’s not worth it, so I’ll just count myself lucky and look forward.

Summer was fun! Picking berries is one of my favourite activities to do with the kids

My goals for 2023

I’m excited to start a year where my main goal isn’t to find a new job. Whew! But my goals for 2023 aren’t much different, just more detailed:

  • Establish a steady writing routine and have at least half of my permaculture book written by the end of 2023.
  • Be more patient with my kids – less yelling, more enjoying the moment. (God help me, I’ve no clue how to do this!)
  • Schedule (and actually get done) all the tests, vaccinations, appointments and medical treatments we all need – not only for the people in our family, but also for our dog Chica.
  • Cut down on processed foods and eat healthier. Reduce our meat consumption to three days a week or less and maybe eliminate sugar from my diet – I’ve done this before, the beginning is hard AF but after a few weeks it feels fabulous.
  • Get more active in my community and make new friends. Now that I’m not job hunting or preparing to move or unpacking or almost freaking out, I finally have the headspace to try and be a little social.
  • Keep up with my studies of Buddhism and Permaculture and attend meetings and classes to meet like-minded people.
  • Meditate 30 minutes a day.
  • Lift weights three times a week and then gradually progress until I’m A BEAST again. hahaha *a girl can dream* But seriously, losing 5kg wouldn’t be bad, although I’ll take cheese and wine over dieting any day, so that’s very unlikely.
  • Injecting Botox between my eyes and on my forehead so I can just feel and not look so darn angry all the time. lol
  • And of course save more money, as always.

Easy, eh? haha  Let’s see what the new year has in store for us.
Happy 2023, everyone!

Looking back – My previous year reviews:

2021: My year in review
What the coronavirus pandemic has taught me
20 things I learned in 2020
19 things I learned in 2019

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