My Top 5 Photos of 2022

This year I’m continuing my annual tradition of choosing 5 photos from my camera roll that captured aspects of my year (previous installments: 2020, 2021). For some reason I found it extra challenging this time around. Maybe because 2022 felt a little all over the place? In any case, I present to you my top five pics of this hard-to-sum-up year!

#5: All Grown Up

two people dressed in black with yellow-and-black arm-warmers and identical old-man-with-white-hair masks

There was a time when Halloween was a stressful frenzy for me. Particularly when the kids were in preschool, there was a lot of social pressure to create sweet, clever, preferably-handmade family costumes. But this year sure was different! My kids are now in 7th and 9th grades, so they came up with these hilarious costumes all on their own one day as we scoured the offerings at Value Village.

When Halloween night came around, they wanted to trick-or-treat with their friends, sans parents. While I fully enjoyed being able to spend the evening at home in my PJ’s watching spooky shows, it still was a tad bittersweet. It feels like they’re all grown up in many ways now (though thankfully not *quite* as old as the costumes would imply!).

#4: Mountain & Moon

a white mountain framed by tall pine trees, with the white full moon visible in the center of the frame

We had ample opportunities to surround ourselves with natural beauty this year. But despite all the photos I took during trips to Whidbey Island, San Diego, and other nearby locations, this was one of my favorite shots. My sister came up to Washington for a visit and rented a marvelous Airbnb on the Columbia River, and this was the view from the back deck: a gorgeous full moon cresting above a faraway white mountain (in this case, Mount Hood), framed by tall evergreens.

During this springtime trip, I was finishing up edits on What We Bury, in which both mountains and moons play important roles. (Maybe that’s a weird way to describe it… but if you’ve read the book, you know.) I always love it when images/locations/symbols from my books pop up in my real life, and try to take a moment to appreciate this whenever it happens, pausing to let the magic of these synchronicities really sink in.

#3: The Return of Live Music

This year, we got to experience two amazing concerts as a family: Billie Eilish in March, and Beabadoobee in November. The Billie Eilish concert (pictured above) was unlike any show I’d ever been to before! The giant arena, the dazzling lights and images, the energy of tens of thousands of adoring fans, and Billie’s stellar performance made it unforgettable. It was far from my usual experience of alternative/indie rock shows where the main spectacle is the band itself. Beabadoobee’s show was more familiar in that regard, but no less stunning! She is such a rock star and we all fell even more in love with her after that show.

I am so grateful that musicians are touring again after the pandemic put a pause on live shows. Concerts can be such powerful events, where we can connect with like-minded strangers as we listen to beloved artists perform the music that moves us.

#2: Lessons from a Cat

a brown cat with green eyes cozied up inside an open drawer

One evening I was putting away laundry in this old chest of drawers, and my cat hopped right in and proceeded to make herself at home. Per our usual protocol whenever she does something exceptionally cute, I called in the family, and we got out our phones and snapped pictures while she chilled in her new cozy space.

Sometimes, I find myself a bit envious of my cat. I’m not sure how she does it: no matter where she is, she finds a way to make herself completely comfortable. She carries herself proudly as she saunters down the hall, making it abundantly clear that she doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone. She KNOWS she’s a special being, and when she curls into our laps or brushes up against our legs, she makes the rest of us feel as though we are, too.

Maybe it’s a bit strange to idolize a cat like this? But I still think there are some things I can learn from her. She has a lot to teach me about being comfortable in my own skin!

#1: A Finished Quartet

When We Vanished, Where Shadows Grow, Within Every Flame, and What We Bury on the shelves at the downtown location of the Seattle Public Library

During a holiday shopping jaunt in downtown Seattle one day, my kids and I popped into the Central Library branch. This location plays a key role in When We Vanished, so imagine my delight when I saw ALL FOUR BOOKS there in the YA section, beautifying the shelf with those pretty spines I love so much!

2022 marks the end of an era for me, now that the series is done. It has been hard to let go of these books. I don’t know that I ever fully will, to be honest. But I can’t even express how relieved and happy I am to see all four books, intertwined as they are, together at last. Every single time I see them all on a shelf together, I just have to sigh in satisfaction.

Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone a fabulous 2023!