As 2017 is drawing to a close, it’s time to step back and reflect on these past 12 months. How has my year really been? What did I accomplish? What did I learn? Am I where I want to be?
My Travel Year in Review
My year started with the exciting news that one of my articles won two Gold Awards in two different categories at the North American Travel Journalists Association writing competition. The awards came with two prizes: a trip to China (still in the planning stage) and one to Washington DC. Being a winner in the NATJA Awards Competition for the second year in a row gave me a lot of confidence to continue writing.
In February we took our yearly ski trip in Lake Tahoe, California. After three years of drought, the winter of 2017 brought a great deal of snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Unfortunately, strong winds swept the mountains every day while we were there, so skiing was the worst ever.
April was a very exciting travel month as our plans to visit the Balkans finally came through. The three weeks road trip along the Adriatic took us through Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro. Seeing this part of Europe was on my bucket list ever since I lived in Romania. We picked April knowing that Croatia and Montenegro are very crowded during the summer months, but the risk of having bad weather was big. Luckily, the weather turned out to be almost perfect, except for a couple of days.
In May I attended the NATJA Conference and Marketplace in North Carolina – a great opportunity to meet old friends and discover new places. Chapel Hill was a good surprise – a wonderful college town with colorful store fronts and great restaurants.
In June I was thrilled to be invited on a press trip to Quebec City. Québec City has been one of those cities I’ve always wanted to visit and yet somehow it never worked out, so when this offer came along I jumped on the opportunity.
For our 40th wedding anniversary in August, we took a trip to Kauai. For me, Kauai is everything a tropical paradise should be: pristine and secluded beaches, navigable rives, varied landscape, great hiking trails.
In September we enjoyed a few beautiful days in the Nation’s Capital – one of the two prizes that came with my Gold Award in the NATJA Writing Competition.
October was a month of celebration, so we went to Oregon for our grandchildren’s birthdays and enjoyed some spectacular fall colors.
Thanksgiving found us like always in Arizona, where we never miss visiting Sedona and its fabulous red rock formations.
On a personal level, 2017 was a year of big changes for me. A year in which I realized that I needed to find some balance, to change my priorities and focus more on my lifestyle. The previous three years of my life have been extremely challenging. After launching my blog, I began working tirelessly day and night to make it successful. My regular work day was anywhere from 16 to 18 hours in front of the computer, with no breaks, and just 4-5 hours of sleep per night.
The long hours spent in front of the computer brought me a lot of success and benefitted my career, but they left me exhausted and burnt out. I had no time for family, or friends, for fun and entertainment. I didn’t even have time to rest because I was living under the constant pressure of having to ‘perform.’ Even falling asleep became a torture, because I was unable to relax and disconnect my brain.
The lack of sleep and exercise lead to headaches, back pain and episodes of anxiety and depression. So, as 2017 began, I decided it was time to change my routine.
I cut my computer time to 3-4 hours a day
My headaches are now gone
Began spending more time in the the kitchen, cooking
My anxiety disappeared also
Hike for an hour every day with my dog and go to the gym twice a week
My back pain is much better
I read more and watch more movies
My struggle with insomnia is not over yet, but at least I manage to sleep more than just 5 hours a night. But while my well-being is improving, my writing career seems to be going down the drain:
I no longer have time to pitch to travel magazines
Or to tourist boards
I only publish once a week
I can barely keep up with my social media
My blog readership decreased by almost 50%
A Final Note
As you see, things are not perfect yet. That balance is a work in progress. The lesson learned is that even an innocent hobby can become a curse unless you maintain a healthy work-life balance. But even though I recognize the importance of getting things done without feeling stressed, it’s a daunting task to resist the temptation of sitting in front of the computer till dawn. And that being said, it’s now 2:25 a.m., so I’ll have to go to bed. But not before I thank you for bearing with me this past year and for taking time to read my articles. I wish you all the best in your endeavors, happy travels and an amazing New Year in 2018!