2015 was a great year for me and after this holiday I'm dreaming big and planning on taking things a little slower in 2016. As you undoubtedly noticed, I took some time off from blogging—like really off, for the first time since maybe ever. I’ve been blogging since 2007 and while it began as a hobby I was always fanatical about posting. Every time I traveled I’d work around the clock before my trip to have posts ready to go up while I was away and then while I was traveling I would continue to work on new posts to share when I got back. I even took pictures to share on the blog on my honeymoon (no regrets because Matera was too gorgeous not to excessively photograph)! It worked for a time but for the past year the relentless pace I set for myself was starting to really wear on me. I didn’t even notice how tired I was until this Christmas when I actually stepped away from e-mails, stopped taking photographs, and stopped writing posts for a full week. In the blink of an eye I had finished an entire novel that had been sitting in my bedroom for months. New notebooks were suddenly teeming with lists and ideas and inspiration. And I spent lazy, full days with family and loved ones doing nothing but eating, catching up, and watching the occasional holiday movie.
Stepping back was a big reality check. I’ve always felt that you can’t be a workaholic if you love your job. And you definitely aren’t allowed to complain about your job when you do the sort of thing I do! But stepping away from the computer, seriously saying no to work and ignoring the constant influx of e-mails and messages for a short time made me realize my job has been burning me out. And while I never thought I was sacrificing quality (because I would break my back to keep the quality up no matter the circumstance), I suddenly realized that my blog would be better if I stepped back more often to get refreshed and re-inspired.
Taking a break boosts creativity. Working constantly doesn’t mean your work isn’t good, but the direction of your work tends to be more limited. For me I was focused on a certain pace and quality of image; so frequent posts and decent photographs were what mattered to me. But what about style development? What about exploring different directions you can go—rather than trying to run a mile at a certain speed, I realized I need to look at the different routes my figurative running can take me. Maybe it’s a little slower to run uphill, but the view at the top could be spectacular, no?
So, here's to 2016; a year where I hope to be more intentional, dream bigger, and achieve more. I write this between bouts of packing and preparing for my flight back to Northern Ireland. I've enjoyed my time away seeing family more than words can say, but I'm also eager to be back in my tiny gatehouse knuckling down for awhile and putting some of the ideas I have into action.