We can't be sure these were actually our three biggest mistakes of 2022; perhaps in the future, hindsight will point out much bigger ones. But from where we are today, these are the things that look like our best opportunities to do better next year.
Not taking a real vacation between February and November.
Like getting hangry before realizing you’re hungry, we were stressed and exhausted and didn’t realize what was going on until our third or fourth day in Munich. Here's a hint: if you're sleeping 12 hours a night, your body's trying to tell you something.
The surprising part of this mistake is that we thought we had been taking vacations. Between February and November, we went sailing on Canyon Lake, camping in Texas, and backpacking in Colorado. We took trips to France, Tokyo, Sydney, and Kyoto—sure, those were work trips, but we almost always add a few days to the beginning or end to explore on our own.
But even during those adventures, our brains were still working; our bodies were still stressed; with the exception of Meera's three days of backpacking in September, we never really disconnected.
What was different about Munich? We knew we didn't have work any time soon.
Usually, when we take a weekend trip to the lake, Monday is looming. Even on an extra day in Sydney or Kyoto, work is just around the corner.
It wasn't until we took eleven straight days to ourselves that our subconscious finally let go of the cares of home, and we slept like the dead. (An important part of our relaxation was our determination that we didn't need to see all of Munich; we would see the Christmas markets, visit a famous site or a museum, eat dinner, and retire when we felt tired. Basically the exact opposite of our honeymoon in Paris, but that's another story.)
Lesson: take longer, more frequent vacations.
Bonus lesson: pay better attention to our bodies to identify chronic stress.
Waiting until our fifth ski trip to pay for lessons.
I always tell people that ski lessons are cheaper than couple's therapy. —Marcella, our ski instructor
Jerry learned to ski back in high school and continued in college. Why he thought this qualified him to teach Meera how to ski in the year 2022, we will never know.
Through significant perseverance, patience, conversation, forgiveness, and beer, Meera did in fact learn how to ski on her first trip back in January. But it wasn't easy, and it resulted in more than one argument (and more than a few bruises from falling down a mountain).
And, as we learned in December, a lot of wasted time that one paid lesson would have bypassed entirely.
We paid for 2.5 hours of lessons; our instructor was having fun and thought we were good students, so we got a full 3 hours. In those 3 hours, we both progressed faster and further than we had in the previous twelve full days of skiing by ourselves.
Lesson: Invest in learning from professionals, even if you're capable on your own.
Bonus Lesson: Ski lessons are cheaper than couple's therapy.
Camping with Tuck in Texas in May.
There were really three mistakes here that all compounded on each other.
First, we didn't do much adventuring in April. See mistake #1, above. As a result, we were getting kind of antsy for anything that would take us out of the house and the office and into the wilderness. So with minimal planning, we booked the next available campsite anywhere close—and the next availability was in May.
Second, we went camping in Texas in May. Now, there were probably parts of Texas that were nice, weather-wise, in May of 2022. But our part of Texas was already unreasonably, although not unseasonably, hot. So our two-mile hike in to the campsite took forever (I'm afraid to even look it up on AllTrails), and we were exhausted at the end of it.
Third, we took our dog Tuck with us for the first time. We see pictures on Instagram all the time of dogs happily camping with their owners, sometimes even with their own sleeping pads or even sleeping bags. Tuck is not one of these dogs.
You’d think we’d have learned this during our Enchanted Rock-in-August debacle, but we didn’t, and we tried it again, and it was miserable again.
Lesson: listen to the world, and choose your camping seasons wisely.
Bonus lesson: not all dogs are cut out for affiliate marketing.