On Going Deep in 2022: A Reflection

Happy New Year, Good People! I hope 2023 started well for you as it did for me. Before moving forward with this year’s plan, I’d like to take stock of the past year by revisiting my going deeper, not wider exercise in 2022, and also share lessons relearned.

When I settled for my word depth, last year, I did not know just how deep I’d end up going. And it was certainly not the kind of depth I had in mind. If you’re a regular reader of this blog or have read my recent collection, The Sheltering, you know those details already. At the risk of repeating myself, here are a few lessons I relearned last year:


Self-awareness has been the biggest lesson. I realised that creating space and time often to connect with myself is the greatest act of self-love. Because it means I allow myself to sit with my emotions, seek my truth or listen to answers already within me, appreciate and accept all of me, and be enough.

“Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve.”

I fully agree with Brian Jacques’ quote above. But I’ll say this: even real and personal experiences can feel performative and jarring on social media. I had written a whole post about reasons I won’t grieve in public. But it needed to be more than a blog post. Anyway, I find private rituals as equally important in processing grief.

Making my art no matter what

If you are an artist, you need to make your art. That’s not an overstatement—it’s a fact; if you stop doing your creative work, your quality of life is diminished.” Beth Pickens

Some still ask what is the point of poetry. Well, I’m not here to convince you about the purpose of writing poetry. I know what it does for me. Last year, I was in overdrive dealing with a number of things that were very taxing emotionally and mentally. I leaned heavily into poetry during those desperately times. The opposite would have been a black hole. I’m not sure if I’d have been able to climb out of it without making art. By the way, the book pictured below is another great book for art makers.

Make Your Art No Matter What by Beth Pickens (image courtesy of Amazon)

Being my own support system

I’ve also learnt that when someone tells me I am strong, lucky or whatever double-edge sword word they use, they are actually saying I cannot rely on them for emotional support. But they expect that support from me. So, being my own support system has meant continuing to remove all the people and things that bring me down. I can tell you, I’m already feeling less resentful.

Social support system

Someone once said, when you are buried deep under the rubble, you don’t care about the colour of the hand that pulls you out. It turned out to be my chosen family (my friends) who offered me greatest support in my time of need. Also acquaintances whom I would have never thought of reaching out to, surprised and touched me with their generosity. This is to say, authentic friendships are important in one’s life.

Being a better listener

I’ve written before about how I pride myself on being a good listener, of both what is said and unsaid. I had recommended this book before, You’re Not listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters, because I find it to be very informative. Anyway, I still fall short when it comes to active listening. There are times I could have done better but I just didn’t have the bandwidth.


Depth, itself, is a deep word. It turned out that my going deep had nothing to do with creative and professional goals, even though I did achieve some. Rather, my year of depth had everything to do with the depth of human character, reassessing relationships and personal growth.

Snowmobiling in Finnish wilderness

PS. In the next post, publishing on Sunday, 22nd Jan, I’ll share my word for 2023, what I’m moving away from and towards.

Khaya Ronkainen
Khaya Ronkainen is a writer, poet and creative professional. Her blog focuses on all things poetry and creative nonfiction.


  1. Khaya, an incredibly powerful post and your year of depth has obviously been more intense and far-reaching than you ever imagined. I feel deeply that you suffered grief and during the tough times had to learn which ‘friends’ were not there for you but that others more than stepped up to be by your side. Authentic friends are precious and true gifts in life. Khaya, it is good you’ve been able to immerse yourself in your art, and wow, another book from you! What a treat! I’ve just ordered the paperback (I always think poetry is much better as a real book!) and look forward to reading it. I saw Diane’s superlative review and your Static Apnoea which she quoted is profound. Reading it was as if experiencing an epiphany! ❤️

  2. What a powerful year of discovery you had, Khaya. Thank you for sharing this rich and inspiring post. This especially touched me:
    “I realised that creating space and time often to connect with myself is the greatest act of self-love. Because it means I allow myself to sit with my emotions, seek my truth or listen to answers already within me, appreciate and accept all of me, and be enough.” I believe this is the most important gift we can give ourselves. Beautiful share! 💜

  3. This is such a profound and beautiful and heartfelt reflection, Khaya. I could feel much of this reflection in your recent book. Pain is a terrible and wonder-ful teacher if we are willing to go deep and learn. Our insights and lessons learned ease the path ahead. I wish you a year of peace and joy and much creativity. You have a beautiful soul, my friend. <3

  4. Deeper rather than wider. Thank you for sharing that wisdom, Khaya, which I will take to heart for myself in my own renewal of mind and body. May peace, joy and creativity light your path as you explore this year.

  5. Hello, Khaya, I am reading your poetry book, “The Sheltering,” and plan on posting a review on my blog on January 16, 2023. I will also post the review on Goodreads (if you’re there) and Amazon.

  6. These are awesome reflections. Even if depth didn’t mean what you thought it would, it seems to have brought you a lot. Many of these reflections resonate with me, places I need to get to rather than things I have accomplished. It is inspiring to read. I can’t wait to see where you go in the new year.

  7. being my own support system has meant continuing to remove all the people and things that bring me down… this resonates and how! Am still doing that having come to terms with what/who I can manage to live with and what/who is toxic and just has to be weeded out…

  8. We usually get to see who is a real “friend” when we go through a painful experience. This past year has been a revelation!! But I thank every experience, for it has brought me closer to the truth. That is, there are people we like (and who like us too) but it doesn’t mean they are friends.

    Isn’t Diana’s review brilliant and generous! I’m super happy you connected with the poem she shared. It’s one of the favoured poems by readers. Thank you so much for continuing to support my work, Annika. I appreciate a lot. And you made a great choice opting for the paperback, because the formatting of poems has remained intact. I had to sacrifice some during the creation of the e-book. So, I hope you’ll have a wonderful reading experience. Much love! <3

  9. Many thank, Natalie. I’m so happy that message about self-awareness resonated with you. It is an important gift to ourselves, indeed. Here’s to creating space and time to connect with ourselves! <3 <3

  10. Dawn, what a wonderful surprise!! I’m greatly touched you took time not only to read my book but write a review as well. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’ll be on the lookout for your blog post, and also link to it. Thank You.

  11. Thank you, Christina. 2022 was another rollercoaster, for me. But I learned a great deal. I hope the new year is gentle to you too, and that you are able to go to those places… I’m eagerly waiting for your new writings.

  12. It has never been more important than in recent years to weed out all the toxicity. Coming to terms with, can be difficult. But we need to tend the garden for our peace of mind.

  13. This post could also be considered a great intro into your New Year – a good foundation to build upon in 2023. And I’m tagging along with you, dear one.
    The whole section, “Being my own support system” resonates with me. You came to this understanding earlier in life than myself. It’s a hurtful one that can indeed lead to resentment…so glad resentment has been lifted from your soul. It’s an awfully harsh oppressor.
    “The Sheltering” touches (he)arts because it was written with an honest heart.

  14. I’m so glad you see these lessons learned in the past year as a good foundation for this one. I will continue to build upon. You are so correct about resentment as a harsh oppressor…Thank you so much Laura for your continued support. I can feel the warmth of hand as you tag alongside me. Much love!

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