Tonje Lilleås

2022 – it’s been a year

Trying to summarize 2022 in an honest and true way is a bit of a challenge. It’s been a year of poles. Highest highs, and maybe not the lowest lows, but we’ve been battling a few obstacles for sure.

The valuable photo book

Every year for Christmas I make a photo book with snaps and images from the last 12 months. I gift it to close family, but I think making the book is as much something I do for myself as for those who receive it. There’s something about taking the time to look back and reflect upon the year that have passed that I thoroughly enjoy.

It’s so easy to forget all the great things you’ve experienced as days, weeks and months fly by. All the images you snap of your kids doing everyday stuff, the short outing to the local forest or your dog resting in the grass outside your cabin tend to just become a part of an ever growing collection of moments you never look at again. And so by the time another year ends, you tend to view the passing year colored by the state of mind you are in come New Years Eve. I write you, but maybe this is just me.

Anyway; making the photo book helps me recognize the ebbs and flows of our lives over the last 12 months. It reminds me that even in a year that I remember as a bit of a uphill battle, there really has been some golden summit moments.

A promising start

2022 started with me getting my vision normalized. As a photographer that was kind of a big deal. And I loved bringing both my camera and drone out for some winter photography in the mountains during winter break in February. For our family the days we spent at the cabin were probably one of the best vacations we’ve ever had. Finding a rhythm and level of activity that suited us both as individuals and as a group.

My wife and I had planned a weekend away in March to see a concert by Sondre Justad. The concert was postponed due to COVID. I can’t really believe that we’re talking about postponing concerts due to COVID in 2022. But we had our weekend away anyway, and got to experience a more intimate and shorter version of the concert. An experience we came to cherish even more, come fall. More on that later.

During Easter I captured some of my favorite lifestyle images ever. Probably because they portrayed two of my favorite people in magical conditions in my favorite place on earth. You can’t go wrong, right?

And in May we returned to celebrate the first Pride in my hometown Stranda. I really never expected that, and felt so happy seeing the streets colored by rainbows and happy, proud people.


Then my grandmother passed from COVID. She had lived a long life, but family passing still reminds me of this life being ever changing.

The people surrounding you as you grow up can seem like some kind of institution that will always be there, but we all know that that’s not the case. When someone passes, no matter if you’re close or not, reality somewhat changes. And recognizing that change always reminds me that everything is transitory. We all pass at some point.

And so I ask myself the question; if I was to die tomorrow, would I be happy with the life I’m living? Usually the answer, after a lot of reflecting, is yes, but I need to be more outside and create more.

A busy summer

Summer came with an opportunity to do just that. My photography in 2022 didn’t look like anything I thought it would, due to a client project that consumed most of this summer. I was so thankful for that opportunity. And as I got to see the final product going to print a couple of weeks ago, I knew that the result reflected the experience.

As a family we spent a Summer hiking, biking and visiting family. Our long awaited trip to Finland didn’t happen, but we still spent quality time together. I would say Summer of 2022 was a high, crashing into a bit of a low as I lost vision in one of my eyes while trail biking and had to be hospitalized again.

An uphill battle

Long story short; I got out from the hospital and started recovering. And not even two weeks later came down with a hard case of COVID. This was almost the low point of 2022 for me. Followed by maybe the highest high of 2022 as we finally got to visit Legoland during fall break. I’ve shared about it recently, so I’m not going to elaborate. It was great, we had a blast.

My plan after returning from Legoland was to get back at creating. My vision was decent yet again, my heart seemed to have recovered from COVID and I felt so ready to get out there. I know I even promised you guys weekly updates and to share more photography related tips and tricks. It didn’t quite work out.

I got to photograph the boys for this years Christmas card, and then I headed back to hospital just a few days later. My legs basically decided they didn’t want to carry me anymore.

Relearning to walk

Now my right leg has been “a bit of an arse” since my accident eight years ago, but my left leg has been doing its job carrying me for both of them. This fall I’ve noticed that I’ve been loosing strength instead of gaining it as I’ve gotten back at my workout regime post COVID. But it wasn’t severe, and I figured it would pass. I lost some muscle in my legs, lost a bit of weight, but was still able to function normally. Then from one week to the next I wasn’t able to walk properly. Really inconvenient with regards to getting outside and create images and videos.

If you’ve read all this, you probably remember that the Sondre Justad concert of march was postponed. I think the real low point was when I told the people at the hospital that I needed to be out by Friday because I had a concert to go to, and their reaction told me that that’s not going to happen. I didn’t believe them, but they were right.

The last month I’ve been working hard on relearning how to walk properly. And the last couple of weeks I’ve seen some good progress. My goal is to be able to ski with the boys before the end of January. I’m the only one that really believes that it’s going to happen I think. My physical therapist makes jokes about it having to be in a sit-ski, but I think I can do it. Anyway; it never hurt anyone to have goals, right?

2022 turning 2023

2022 has been a year. I think more than anything I have been reminded that you have to take on whatever is handed to you. Opportunities or challenges, you just have to take them on. Your happiness can’t rely on your plans for the future, you have to find it in the present. And that knowledge has led me to acknowledge that I really need to make some changes. I think that will be the project for 2023.

If you read this far; thank you. You’re probably part of my core readers, and I really appreciate you. I hope you have had a good 2022, that you recognize what could have made it even better and that you make 2023 the year you take steps to improve your level of happiness. I wish you a very merry Christmas.

All the best,





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