2022 Recap + 2023 Goals
When my daughters were little, we went through a brief but intense Miley Cyrus music phase. Party In the U.S.A. played on repeat for weeks.
I like Miley, and this was much preferred to our previous musical phase (Barney), and who doesn’t love a good bop? But personally I’ve always been partial to The Climb. Partly because I read once that Jay-Z listens to it on the treadmill (I swear!), and partly because I love the lyrics.
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb
Keep going, keep climbing. Stay the course. The reward is in the journey.
Looking Back: 2022 Recap
The Climb: Mt. Fuji
When I reflect back on 2022, “The Climb” keeps popping into my head. I guess for me, 2022 was all about the climb…both literally and figuratively.
Literally because of this:
In September, Vic and I hiked to the top of Mt Fuji, the tallest and most sacred mountain in Japan. The summit elevation is 3,776 m (12,389 feet), and the round trip hiking distance is about 10 km. Not too shabby for a couple of forty-somethings with a reconstructed knee (him) and a bionic back (me).
Mt. Fuji climbing season only lasts for about two months each year (early July – early September), and when we missed our window in 2021, we set our sights on the 2022 climbing season. We did a lot of hiking last fall, but then life happened and our training fell to the wayside. We spent most of December in Florida (no mountains to hike there!), we got COVID in January, and then the US military bases in Japan were essentially put on COVID lockdown until early February. We began hiking again in the spring, but we had a hard time gaining back our momentum. After a couple of pretty grueling hikes, we started to question whether we should postpone Mt Fuji for another year.
In the end, we decided to go for it…and, well, I won’t lie: it was brutal and exhausting and took 12.5 hours in the pouring rain. At times I wasn’t sure we would make it. But we stuck it out. We brushed ourselves off after our falls, and we kept climbing. I’m so glad I did it…and I also never, ever want to do it again!
Climbing Mt Fuji at 6 years post-spinal fusion, with titanium rods and screws in my spine, is one of my biggest and proudest accomplishments! If you’d like to hear more about our climb, Vic has a video about it on his YouTube channel.
While you’re there, we’d love it if you’d subscribe! He makes really good content and posts regularly about our life in Japan.
The Climb: Life
Life in 2022…well, it was brutal and exhausting at times too. But we kept moving, kept climbing…we brushed ourselves off after our falls, and we sure enjoyed the journey.
I’m now at 6.5 years post-spinal fusion, and I still have no regrets about the surgery. I’m healthy and strong, and I still have very little back pain. Unfortunately, I still can’t run – I gave it a shot a couple of months ago, and by my third or fourth run, my SI joint was screaming in protest. But I WAS able to hike for 12.5 hours – before my surgery, I could barely stand for 12.5 minutes. I miss running, but an active, pain-free life is a pretty fair tradeoff, in my opinion. I sometimes go for days without even thinking about my back, which is really saying something. If you know, you know.
Looking Ahead: 2023
Every year around January 1, we sit down as a family and come up with some goals for the year. Like last year, many of our goals for 2023 involve traveling around Japan and exploring the language and culture. We have about a year left here in Japan, and we want to make the most of it! Our travel goals include Okinawa, Hokkaido, and Osaka, as well as a trip back to the US this summer to visit some colleges.
All 4 of us are learning to speak Japanese, and I teach English to local students a few times a week. My students love teaching me about their language and culture, so I get to learn too!
We also want to read more books, hike and SUP more often, and create all the things!
I do hope to start writing and creating for this blog again. I was already in the middle of a longer-than-planned hiatus when my Instagram account was suddenly deactivated without warning or explanation. Nine years of photos and thoughts and memories deleted – it was quite a blow and didn’t exactly motivate me to create content. But I’m still here, and I’m back on Instagram as @thezamamama – so please follow me there!
Happy New Year – Shinnen Omedetô Gozaimasu!
Great article. Stay focused on the goal; the feeling, in the end, is fantastic.
Carol Keohane says
I’m now nearly 4 yrs after my 3 lumbar fusion. I still have back pain on & off, the weather & working too hard has a great bearing on this! However I find I am still managing to achieve new goals & feeling so much better. I’m 74 yrs old & I think recovery for my age group takes longer? I’m at least 90% better for having had my operation. Sharon you have inspired & helped me more than you can imagine with your blog. Thank you
Sharon Wilhelm says
So glad to hear from you Carol! Yes, I think age is a factor in recovery. 90% better is pretty incredible! I’m probably somewhere in that range as well. Stay healthy! <3