The advent of the new year is always a great time to reflect on what the past year has taught us. At the same time, it’s also a chance to apply those lessons from our past to the new and upcoming year. In looking back on 2016, I am realizing that it may be time to rethink this whole travel blogging thing.
My husband and I recently bought a house, and part of the process of packing up involved going through our many, many belongings and deciding which ones we wanted to keep and which ones we wanted to let go. To help me through this process, I picked up a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.
I have to admit, some of the book is a bit wacky – she has been passionate about organizing and tidying ever since she was six! – but there was one part that really spoke to me. In her book, Marie Kondo urges her readers to only keep the things that spark joy, and to discard anything that doesn’t spark joy, thanking them for doing their part. It was a cathartic way to end the year, letting go of the items in my life that no longer brought me joy. And it really gave me a chance to reflect. Not just about the material items I possessed, but about the other aspects of my life.
What were the things in my life that really brought me joy? When I look deep down inside, it’s really only a few things – family, travel, and writing. On the surface, it seems that keeping up this blog satisfies all three of those things, but in actuality it didn’t.
There are so many other aspects of blogging that don’t bring me joy at all – the regular scheduling of posts, the constant need to market my blog posts, having to always be present on social media in order to be relevant. I found that the majority of my time was spent doing the things about blogging that didn’t bring me joy. I would wake up early in the morning before work to schedule my social media posts on Buffer. I posted regularly on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and participated on Twitter chats and Instagram challenges. All of this for the sake of having a presence online and hopefully increasing exposure and traffic to my blog.
In the evenings, after my kids were tucked into their beds, rather than spending time with my husband, I would sit in front of my computer, working on my next blog post. It was really like a second job, except I wasn’t getting paid for any of it.
As I think about what direction I want to take my blog for 2017, I am realizing that what I really need to do is be honest with myself. I really can’t have it all. I am a mother of three. A wife to my husband. A full-time employee for a job that is becoming increasingly more demanding, yet also more fulfilling. Do I really have the bandwidth to devote my time and energy to something that doesn’t bring me 100% joy?
Let me clarify, that last statement. When I say that travel blogging doesn’t bring me 100% joy, I’m not saying that it doesn’t bring me any joy. In all fairness, there were plenty of things from my blogging and travels in 2016 that did bring me joy:
In March, I had an opportunity to attend the Women in Travel Summit in Irvine, California, hosted by Wanderful. Through that experience, I met so many inspiring and amazing women (including one of my blogging idols!), and some of these women I am still in touch with today. As an added bonus, since July, I have been a correspondent for Wanderful, interviewing other women travelers and featuring them on the Wanderful blog. I don’t think I would have had the confidence to pitch my writing talents to Wanderful had it not been for the Women in Travel Summit. I’m looking forward to attending it again this year in Milwaukee.
In April, my husband and I traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada for a grown-up getaway to watch my favorite band from my childhood, Guns N’ Roses. It was a fun and relaxing trip, and it reminded me that as a parent, it’s so important to make time for your significant other. That trip made me realize that it’s okay to leave the kids behind every once in awhile!
In June, my work gave me an opportunity to travel to India, and I decided to take my husband and kids along for the ride. In hindsight, this may not have been the wisest of choices, considering June is one of the hottest months in India, but experiencing that country with my family was so much fun. For most of our trip, we stayed in apartments, so with me going to work almost every morning, it really did feel like we were living there rather than just visiting. We also had an opportunity to splurge and pamper ourselves with a stay in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai.
In August, I got to travel again for work, and this time spent two weeks in Lusaka, Zambia. After my two weeks in Lusaka, I visited Victoria Falls, and then also spent a couple of days in Johannesburg, South Africa on the way back to the United States. That trip to Johannesburg was immensely touching to me, as I spent most of it visiting Soweto, and learning about the Apartheid movement.
In September, my kids and I accompanied my husband to Portland, Oregon. While my husband was busy attending a conference, the kids and I explored Portland’s many attractions thanks to Travel Portland. It was an amazing trip, and one that I would recommend to anyone.
All of those travel memories brought me joy, and I tried hard to share it with everyone on this blog. But in between those moments were some really hard and challenging moments. In hindsight, it’s a lot to ask of myself to keep up this blog and be a mother and wife and work a full-time job. I am not Wonder Woman, and I need to stop aspiring to become one.
So as I mentioned, for 2017, I am actively choosing to step back. I am only doing the aspects of blogging that will bring me joy, social-media presence be damned!
Looking deeply in the last year, the posts that truly brought me joy were the ones where I interviewed other travelers. I love making connections with others and sharing their stories with the world. That, after all, is one of the reasons why I love to travel. So while I will continue to have this blog, I’m going to focus more on connecting with others.
At the same time, I also want to spend more time with my family, because they are also a major source of my joy. So rather than try and keep up with a steady schedule of weekly posts, I’m going to only commit to posting at least once a month. This is important for me and my own sanity, as maintaining a weekly blog was becoming increasingly difficult as the year wore on.
For those who have visited this blog and read one or more of my posts, thank you for your interest and support. I hope that my words are inspiration for you to go out and experience the world with your family. Thank you for allowing me the outlet to speak my mind and share my stories!