In my 2022 Annual Review I will answer three key questions:
- What went well this year?
- What didn’t go so well this year?
- What am I working towards?
Writing a yearly review is one of the best ways for me to check in on the year that’s passed. Now that I am a father I feel like I need to remember more of the milestones that were because right now life seems to be flying by at warp speed. Watching my little girl grow up is an amazing experience. However, with the groundhog day rush of morning and evening routines, working all day, and the general chaos of raising a child, I simply can’t keep on top of everything. This is my chance to pause and reflect.
1. What went well this year?
Koa growing up
2022 has been the year of watching Koa grow 😅. When anyone asked me how I was doing the conversation would inevitably wind up talking about Koa and her development. It was impossible not to think of her before myself. It’s cliche to say, but even with me working from home and being there every day, I still can’t believe how fast she’s grown.
It’s been really incredible to be part of this journey. I never really thought of being a dad in the literal sense but I deep down always knew I wanted to have a family. Now that I am a dad I can say that it really is an amazing gift to watch your own child grow and develop before your eyes. Koas fiery spirit, her cute little giggle and constant seek for new and interesting things has definitely kept me on my toes. It’s been one of the most challenging years of my life (of which I will discuss later) but I feel like, looking back on it all, it all went pretty damn well. I mean, she’s alive and healthy, so I’m grateful for that!
Things are getting easier with Koa and life in general. With every month she grows things just get a little easier, a little better and my confidence grows with it. She’s capable of so much right now and it’s really fun taking her around with me. We go for morning and evening walks and spend plenty of time down at the park. She’s full of giggles and always excited when she sees something new, especially animals! It’s getting easier for me as a dad to take Koa for longer, and give Zoe more time off. I’m getting better at being prepared, ensuring she's dressed properly, has food for the road, fresh clothes and nappies, and all that fun stuff.
By far the biggest and best milestone of the year was our family trip to Austria for a month over May-June. Both Zoe and I were nervous about the flight with Koa only being nine months old at the time. Luckily I had lowered my expectations because as it turned out, it really was a horrible experience 😅. But like all things in life, we eventually made it to the other side and were warmly welcomed by Zoes family.
The trip didn’t start off too great though; we all ended up getting COVID from the flight. First Koa, then Zoe and then me, all a few days apart from each other. Luckily, we all fought it off within a week or so and I’m just so proud of Koa for battling it out to make a full recovery at on nine months old.
Despite COVID, we did not let it get in the way of our holiday plans. I spent a ton of time climbing outdoors with my mates and sampled all of the top bouldering gyms in town. It was epic. After nine months of just being in hardcore dad-mode I finally had the free time to climb my heart out. Over the entire month I climbed almost every second day. My body felt amazing and I gained strength quickly. I really wish I could climb more. This trip gve me massive motivtion to get outdoors more often.
For me, our trip to Graz was probably the biggest highlight of the year. Catching up with family, friends, making new friends, and just soaking up the vibrancy of Europe in springtime is all just so good for the soul!
Workwise things went well this year. I started out the year in a full-time role that wasn’t quite a good fit for me, but in the end it wasn't a big deal to pivot. I handed in my resignation after four months on good terms with everyone at the company. I knew my old company well and I could see that the pipeline of work just didn’t fit in with my personal career goals. They were grateful for my honesty and we ended things amicably. I’m still in contact with the team at Pipefish and wish them all the best for the future!
Shortly after I found a new contract for a government agency called CleanCo. That role only lasted six months as I did not feel the need to renew. And now I am currently on another contract working with Nintendo Australia as the main client.
I have realized that I am just more suited to short-medium term contract work. As a contractor I can pick and choose from a wide range of industries and technology stacks, plus it’s a great way to stay sharp and continually learn new tech. It’s also nice to be my own boss. Some contracts last longer than others and that's fine. For me, the best part about contracting is that if I am in a role that I realise is not a good fit, I can simply move on once the contract date is up. If I find a company and culture that I really connect with then I can choose to renew or move into a full-time position.
Although, I will say that deep down I don't think I am well suited to full-time work. I have so much creative energy inside that I feel restricted when doing only one thing week-in-week-out. Furthermore, when I say "yes" to one role, I inevitably have to say "no" to many other roles. I find this extremely difficult to deal with because there are just so many great opportunities out there in the world.
Plant medicine ceremonies
This year I had two major plant medicine journeys that have truly blown my mind and forced me to reevaluate everything that is holding me back. It’s taken a lot of courage to want to do these journeys but I’m glad I have persevered even in the presence of an unclear intention or not knowing what I am actually going to get out of the experiences. However, on both occasions this year I was rewarded with some incredible insights into life, death, consciousness, health, wellness and love.
I was most nervous about the first journey earlier in the year because about a year prior I had a really intense and confronting journey that I wasn’t prepared for. I was scared of having the same experience again, but I knew deep down that I had to face my fears and build the courage to give it another go. It was vital that worked to resolve all the things that came up for me previously.
The biggest difference from past journeys was that on both occasions this year I went in with a clear intention as to why I was taking the medicine. The first journey I focused on tuning into my body and exploring areas that needed healing. I followed a mostly vegetarian diet on the lead up and I practiced a lot more yoga, meditation and calming exercises to get in the right headspace.
These ceremonies are incredibly taxing experience both mentally and physically and the effects can last anywhere from four to six hours, sometimes more. These medicines need to be treated with absolute respect for their power to take control of the body and mind. I know a lot of people who liken plant medicine journeys to that of a near death experience. I certainly can vouch for that.
During my first journey of the year I was taken on a full inner body excursion. It felt like I was a microscopic voyager gliding through my bloodstream. There were these moments along the way where I would run into blockages in my body. When this occurred there was an immense rush of “beings” that came to force out whatever was obstructing the flow. Like little lemmings, or worker bees; they came in such numbers and with so much force that eventually they pushed the blockages free. In those moments I felt a surging rush of warmth to areas of my body: my eyes, my stomach, my back. All areas where I had experienced some form of chronic pain throughout my life. It was such an amazing feeling and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before.
What was sad and beautiful about this experience was that these little worker beings fought their way through my body and purged me of these blockages only to go on and sacrifice themselves, all for nothing in return. Their sole purpose was to heal and to love and I felt so selfish for being on the receiving end of such a wonderful gift. I was grateful, happy, sad and just amazed at the beauty of it all.
On my second journey, which occurred just before Christmas, I had an intense ego dissolving experience that lasted the better part of five hours. It was strong and relentless, but exactly what I needed after such a tough year. During this experience there were many moments where I completely disconnected from all thoughts and bodily experiences and simply merged with a field of pure consciousness. I could see clearly what it’s like to just exist as my pure self without anything holding me back. The journey gave me a lot of great insights into who I am right now and who I know I am deep inside.
What does this mean exactly? Well, it is my interpretation that the self is the purest form of who you are. It is where you don’t have to act a certain way or be a specific kind of person, you just are “you” without any limitations.
It is obvious that our past experiences that shape us into who we are today. However, what wasn't so obvious to me, until I started down this journey a few years ago, is that our past negative experiences cause us to create a shield that "protects" us from any future pain. When this happens the true self becomes layered with this new guard which one ends up carrying through life forever unless it’s brought to the surface and dealt with. Furthermore, the negative emotions and experiences hidden behind the guard act like wounds that can damage our mind and our body. I don't think it's been confirmed by western science, but there are many eastern medicine texts that claim negative emotions have the power to create disease.
It’s not until we have a realization moment, either through plant medicine, deep meditation or therapy, that we recognise the role these “guards” play in our lives. When you are able to know your guards you can then look behind them to see the wound as well. And when you work through healing the wound you can release it, which inevitably leads to greater health and happiness.
I know it sounds bizarre and I don’t expect everyone to believe it. All I can say is that these medicines are very powerful as they have the ability to open up your mind and body to an elevated level of consciousness unlike anything you've ever known. I’m drawn to these experiences because I can see just how important they are to helping me unblock all my past patterns, behaviours and limiting beliefs.
On closing, I will say that this kind of work isn’t for everyone. If this is something that sounds interesting and you would like to chat about it more then feel free to reach out.
2. What didn’t go so well this year?
Full time work
The year started off with me working at a startup spinoff that my previous employer, Pipefish, had founded. Initially I was really excited to be back on board with the team because I had a really great working relationship with them throughout 2020-21. The product, called SyncFish, is an extremely promising piece of commercial technology. I have absolutely no doubt that it will do well. However, the role just didn’t suit me and the pipeline of front end development work was actually quite limited. Anyway, after about four months or so I let them know it just wasn’t for me and luckily they were great about it and actually really appreciative that I was honest and upfront.
I followed that role up with a new contract with a government owned renewable energy company called CleanCo. That role focused on developing a trading platform for electricity traders to buy and sell wholesale renewable energy from various electricity production facilities across Queensland. The work was somewhat interesting and I did get to work on some fun features, but the workload and intensity of output was massive. After working on various government contracts for the past 2+ years, I felt that it was time to try something new and move on. All in all, while these two roles weren’t so aligned for me personally, I still feel as though I learned a ton of valuable skills professionally.
Stress and burnout
Unfortunately this year was marked with a lot of stress and tension, fighting and anger due to the overwhelming nature of raising a newborn. Both Zoe and I have had a hard time adjusting to this new life, despite the fact that we love Koa to death. Managing work, all the responsibilities of parenthood as well as household duties has just been too much. We have both suffered without proper support from family. I hate that we have both been so rattled by this experience, but I also know that it’s an integral part of the journey.
With the new year comes a dedicated effort to resolve all that isn’t serving me and to be better in every way I can. The difficulties of this past year have been a huge driver for me to look inward and go on these plant medicine journeys I highlighted above. I know things will get better, but I don’t want to sugar coat the pain and suffering that we have both had to deal with throughout this past year.
Lack of outdoors time
Lastly, what didn’t go well this year was my lack of climbing outdoors. While I had an epic month of climbing in Austria, the rest of the year I only got outdoors two or three times. Climbing outdoors is a huge part of my life and one of the best ways to reduce stress and rebalance. I need it in my life and feel like a piece of me is missing or broken when I’m not getting my outdoor climbing fix! Hopefully all that will change in 2023 because we have some pretty big plans!
3. What am I working towards?
Living in Austria for 12 months
In 2023 Zoe and I plan to move to Austria for twelve months or more. We are looking to set off in May once my current work contract ends. After getting a taste of Austria for a month in 2022, we are both super excited to move there and settle in for a year of wacky adventures! I am excited because I know I will be able to climb outdoors a lot more. I have an amazing group of friends there who all just love being out in the mountains. For me, the best part of living in Austria is that the mountains are just so close and accessible, unlike here on the Gold Coast where the closest climbing area is about 45 minutes away + 45 minute hike.
We will be close to Zoe’s family so it will be great to have some extra support to help out with Koa. It’s also a great chance for me to continue learning German as well. And of course, it’s an opportunity for us all to travel Europe as a family!
I haven’t quite figured out what I’ll do for work at this stage, but I’m not overly worried. I can freelance or contract, or even work for a company in Austria as I’m planning to get a permanent residence visa. More importantly I think this is a great chance to reset and realign my career goals and potentially try something new for a change.
Diving deeper into Ayurveda
In 2023 I am working towards building a more consistent and well rounded yoga practice. I am also deeply interested in the ancient Indian health science of Ayurveda, of which yoga is a part. Ayurveda covers everything from diet, exercise, home remedies and wellness practices all the way through to the treatment of diseases including cancer and parkinsons. It’s a holistic solution that looks to nature for answers and explains disease in terms of imbalance of our core natural elements, referred to as our doshas.
For me, Ayurveda explains a lot about who I am and why I am how I am. The more I read and learn the more I have these “aha” moments where everything makes sense why things are how they are. So in 2023 I would like to expand my daily routines to incorporate more Ayurvedic practices and learn to cook more holistic, healing meals. I genuinely believe the practice of Ayurveda is the answer I've been looking for when it comes to health and wellness.
The reason why I am so interested in these ancient healing practices is because they aren't focused on packaging up a solution in a pill or cutting you open to remove diseased tissue. Ayurveda looks for balance in everything, for that is what nature innately strives for. Our bodies need to be balanced in order to thrive. However, that requires awareness and openness as well as a commitment to bring the mind and the body together as one. From this perspective activities such as yoga, meditation, walking in nature or even simple breathwork exercises can all be used as medicines.
This approach isn't easy for most westerners because it's not convenient. It means peering within oneself to realise all the behaviours or habits that might actually be causing harm. Oftentimes, western medicine simply prescribes a pill and sends you on your way. Or even worse, they tell you there is no cure and there's nothing they can do.
I call BS on that. I believe Ayurveda has the answers and I'm excited to continue down this path in exploring how it can help me thrive.
So there you have it, my 2022 annual review. It's been a really intense, stressful and emotional year. However, from this comes a new beginning and I'm really excited to move forward in a new light with a much more positive outlook. In 2023 I plan to do a lot more work from within so that I can rid myself of any limiting beliefs, internal stressors and self talk that is holding me back. I'm exctied for 2023. Bring it on! d