Good bye, 2022

Looking back at 2022, I realise it was a good year for us. The COVID-19 pandemic slowly became less frightening, as the majority here got vaccinated. I started teaching again face-to-face in January and wore a mask consistently every time I was indoors- and so did my students! There were people testing positive and self-isolating left and right, but we were lucky enough to escape. We had a horrible flu instead, and the jury is still out if that was Covid-related or not. The most difficult thing was the “hybrid” teaching – I had to work with very small groups of students- a few in class, a few online, and simultaneously record both lectures and tutorials for those who couldn’t make it. At the end of the spring semester, I promised myself to never do anything like that again. It was draining, nerve racking and inefficient.

My main professional achievement was keeping my sanity throughout this, and helping my students to do the same as much as possible. Somehow, after a few really chaotic online conferences, I lost the will to attend, as I couldn’t focus. I also wrote less, as I couldn’t find my motivation. Everything else than teaching, supervising students and keeping projects on track went out of focus.

As many of my projects came to an end in 2022, I enjoyed a calmer year. Less firefighting, with the majority of meetings still taking place online meant that I was able to have lunch every day, and spend some of my short breaks out in the garden, doing minor chores. Having lunch every day is a gift the pandemic brought to me – I remember going to a health practitioner in 2018, and leaving with the “prescription” to try and have lunch at least 3 times a week. I had no time to eat, no time for breaks, and I was working 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week. A miracle I survived!

I took on a reading challenge – to read 70 books this year. I haven’t reached my target – I am at 64, but read a lot more than in other years, and discovered new authors and genres. I signed up for Audible and started listening to audiobooks while gardening – this brought on strange associations between certain plants on my allotment and books or podcasts that seem to jump back at me while I’m harvesting what I sowed then. A bit of allotment psychogeography?

I joined East Clare Paddlers last year, and continued to go out with the club this year. It was wonderful to get out on the water as often as I could, from mid March till the end of October. I always loved being on the water, or in the water, and Scariff is a very special place, with a lot of interesting birds and plants. I was persuaded to do a Level 2 course, and I ended up enjoying it very much. We had two trips with Kayakmor, one on the sea in Galway Bay, and one on the Corrib, starting from Cong, around Ashford Castle. We paddled in the rain and in glorious sunshine, and I have learnt a lot.

I love swimming in the sea, in lakes and rivers, but before the pandemic I have never tried to get into open waters outside the summer months. In 2021, we had an October holiday by the sea and I swam every day, and now I am much more open to the idea of swimming all year-round. I am a good-enough swimmer, but can’t swim very long distances. There’s something special about being immersed in the water, and feeling one with nature! My last swim this year was in Snamh, in West Cork, at the end of October.

Lace making was another thing that brought me joy this year. I took several online classes, which proved quite good. The pandemic pushed the boundaries, and a lot of technical skills had to be acquired on the go, to make teaching possible. Having a peer group and pace helped a lot to get work done and avoid giving up! In the summer, I got to attend classes and events in person and meet other lacemakers – after so much time in isolation!

Travelling abroad wasn’t high on the agenda. I went to Timisoara for a week in March – that’s when my daughter got Covid and she could only join me for the last few days, and then we went to Siegen in June for the 25 years of Socio-Informatics conference – and that’s when we both got Covid. It wasn’t fun! However, we travelled up and down the country, falling in love with new places and going back to our favourite haunts.

Probably the biggest event of the year was volunteering for the West Cork Chamber Music Festival. I had this idea in 2019, when I was younger and had more energy. After attending the festival for 10 years in a row, I wanted to give something back. Then the pandemic came, and the 2020 and 2021 editions moved online. As I was already on the list in 2022, I decided to go ahead. We rented a place for 10 days, and was there from the opening till the closing.

I remember getting the email appointing me “lead usher” for the Bantry House venue – I was so excited! I got to work on 3-4 concerts every day, so there wasn’t time left for anything else. Ray, who worked online from there, “was volunteered” as well for most evenings. We got to listen to some amazing chamber music – many I wouldn’t have chosen to go to if not working. Hopefully I’ll get to write more about this experience – there’s a draft waiting to be finished here somewhere! If I were 5 years younger, I would do it every year. We’ll definitely be back in 2023 as spectators!

It was a good year for me and my dear ones – a more “normal” year than 2021, although nothing is normal when we have a war going on in Europe, and everybody seems to be struggling. Hoping that 2023 will find us a bit wiser, kinder to our fellows and to the planet, and more open to make much-needed changes!

December 31 2022 07:40 pm | Limerick

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