Every year I put together a year in review. Sometimes in the busyness of life, you forget to reflect on everything that you’ve accomplished, and it’s a great reminder of how far you’ve come. As I sat down to write this, I thought 2022 was relatively uneventful, but as I reflect on the year, I realize how much has happened.
The year started with some unexpected excitement. I live in Louisville, CO, which was in the news for a major fire that destroyed about 1,100 homes. We got our evacuation notice on the afternoon of December 31st. As we drove out of our development, the area was thick with smoke. Looking at the spot fires as we drove out of our neighborhood, we knew it was going to be bad. We spent New Year’s eve with friends in Boulder, glued to the news, watching homes in our neighborhood go up in flames. We were certain that our house was destroyed. We weren’t supposed to return home the next day, but we sneaked back into town There was massive destruction everywhere. Fortunately, the fire split into two branches as it came towards our neighborhood, and by the grace of god or lady luck or somebody, our house was spared. Besides the strong smell of smoke and the soot near the doors and windows, our house was fine. But swaths of houses on both sides of us were razed to the ground. Anne and I have lost homes to fires in the past (two different houses), so we were extremely grateful that we did not have to relive those experiences and, at the same time, saddened knowing what others around us were going through.
I focused on our textbook publishing business, Massage Mastery Online, this year and didn’t do as much photography as I usually do. But Tony Clapp, a talented photographer at RAW Photographic, invited me to come along on a photography trip to Las Vegas in March. We went with another photographer, Bob Younger, and three models, Everyn Darling (along with her boyfriend Billy who also modeled), Ren Hendricks, and Anne Barker. It was a fun and exciting three days of photography at a ghost town, a dry lake bed, and of course, the city itself. I just don’t shoot outside of the studio much, so it was challenging but such a good time.
We started off last year with our first rescue cat, Indu, and quickly realized he needed a playmate. So we got him a kitten named Minou. Minnie, who believes in her heart that she is a human, never really bonded with him. So this spring, we went searching for another kitten. We returned to the rescue, and the foster mom we were introduced to refused to give us just one cat. So we adopted two more cats, Loki and Delphi. It was an insane thing to do, but they are a joy and make us smile every day.
And speaking of crazy, we actually take our cats for “walks” (although it feels a lot more like lurking around people’s homes) and have been doing so since June. They are unleashed, but for the most part, they get the concept and follow us, or at least recognize that it’s time to come back home. Once and a while, Indu goes all-out feral as his hunting instincts kick in. We are truly crazy cat people. Sometimes I’m embarrassed to be me.
Anne and I attended a couple of massage conferences this year and taught classes at one. Our long-distance relationship used to revolve around meeting up at conferences around the country on a regular basis, but it’s been ages since we’ve done this. Unfortunately, we caught COVID on one of the trips. We were lucky that it didn’t hit us that hard.
I also made a trip back to Canada in the early fall to visit friends and family after about a year away. It’s great to catch up with everyone, but it was a whirlwind visit and completely exhausting. After two+ years of the pandemic, I’m just not used to that much socializing.
In terms of photography, now that we’re through the worst of the pandemic, I’ve been doing more Meetups and workshops as well as taking on more paid photography and videography gigs. I did a “Dancer’s in Rope” series in collaboration with suspension and shibari artist Ahna Green, where she creates outfits for the dancers made of rope. And we are continuing the concept with fashion models. I feel so lucky to get to work with such talented creatives.
I think my photos were published in about a half dozen magazines this year. Having writen five number one Amazon bestsellers and having articles I’ve written appear in so many journals internationally over the years, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I’m glad that the models I work with get profiled from time to time.
I did some art nude modeling this year. I did some modeling for the Ontario College of Art when I was dancing professionally and I hadn’t modeled since. When I was young and a professional ballet dancer, my naked body was used in a national ad campaign on the theme of “celebrating nature’s masterwork, the human body.” Now, I grapple with the losses that come from an aging body that no longer seems familiar to me. I don’t think my self-concept has caught up to the physical changes that have occurred, so my body feels somewhat foreign. So it was an exercise in vulnerability, self-acceptance, self-love, and authenticity. As a result of all that, I began what I called the “Vulnerability Project,” where, as an art nude photographer, I give people the experience I’ve had in a safe and supportive environment. I’ll promote this more in the new year. It might all seem a little too out there for many, but in the work that I do, I regularly see what a powerful self-growth tool it is and how it impacts people’s lives.
In November, I officially became an American citizen. It’s taken about five years to get there, but I’m delighted I can travel freely between Canada and the United States without worrying that border control won’t let me come home to Colorado. I found the ceremony to be very moving. I don’t remember the exact numbers, but there were about 50 people from about 30 different countries there. The experience of getting citizenship was complicated and stressful for me personally. I could only imagine the stories of the other people in the room, who have not been as privileged in life as me, as they walked to the front of the room with pride and joy to get their official documentation.
So that’s the kind of year it’s been. Not so uneventful after all.