Why breaks are essential

If there’s one constant in life, it’s change. And I feel like the same can be said of the internet.

I recently read a book about the behind-the-scenes start of Twitter, and it reminded me of what the internet was like back when it was just starting to explode for us common, non-startup folk.

It had been around for at least a decade by then (maybe even two, now that I think of it), but with the birth of social media, it took off like wildfire in a brush field, changing how we communicate, interact with each other, and make daily decisions.

Much of it is good, I think. Some of it is pretty tiring.

In early 2008, I started this blog, under a different moniker and with a different purpose than it serves today. Twitter was still an infant, and comments on posts were the barometer whether our words were making a difference.

(Seems so quaint now.)

2.5 years later, my third-born arrived on the scene, and I gave myself a self-imposed maternity leave from the internet. By this time, this site was almost a full-time job, and though I loved it, I was working myself into the ground.

I took six weeks off and barely logged on. This saved my sanity, and it rekindled a love for what I was doing. It gave me needed perspective, and I returned with new ideas and refreshed creativity.

I now do this every summer.

As the internet and how we communicate ever evolves, one thing remains the same in my work: a need for a break.

I feel it astutely this year. My latest book released this spring, which meant I worked more than usual. Changes in our family routine meant having to squeeze more work in nooks and crannies of our day, like in my earlier days of writing.

Most important, in my opinion—I’ve unearthed direction and perspective I’ve needed to continue changing my work, so that it stays both helpful for you and enjoyable for me.

dock

I’m planning a number of changes on the horizon: for this site, yes, but also in podcasting, book-writing, speaking, planning face-to-face events, and revamping how and what I communicate.

I haven’t been this excited about my work in a long time.

But in order to do it, I first need to rest. I need to step away from the demands of the always-posting, always-interacting, always-having-something-to-say-about-X-issue culture of the internet, and just be.

I know, after seven years of doing this, that my annual internet break is more than just a nice reset button. It’s a lifeline for my soul. And so, with this post, I’m taking a few steps back from online demands and letting my soul breathe.

It’ll look like slower publishing this summer, reminding you of oldies-but-goodies buried deep down in the archives here, as well as continual newer stuff from my writers.

It’ll look like less availability in our Facebook group (but only for awhile).

It’ll look like a special summer podcast series for you, already recorded and ready to be pushed out. I can’t wait for you to hear it.

It’ll look like unanswered email. (Even more than there already is.) It’ll look like using a dreaded autoresponder, shrugging my shoulders and saying Oh well; it is what it is about it.

It’ll look like catching up on my to-read stack—of nice, thick books, not clicking on one-off articles about the latest so-and-so.

It’ll look like working in the backyard, clearing out the shed, decluttering the bathroom closet, having friends over for midweek dinner, and dropping the to-do list for a day at the watering hole with my kids.

It’ll look like working offline on some long-range projects. It’ll be giving myself permission to let them percolate, marinate, simmer, without the need to give some online update about how they’re doing.

It’ll look the way summer should look.

And I know, from seven years’ experience now, that this is how it works best for me. Less instant internet. More mingling with the 3-D world around me, letting my best work flow out of a day’s work of hands in simple dirt.

wildflower

If you’re a creative, I encourage you to try the same. Take a step or three back from hitting the publish button and adding your instant comment to a conversation for awhile, and see how it feels.

If you’re a consumer, try stepping back as well. Keep up with the news, yes, but then close it up and do other things. Read more books, linger an extra hour with a friend, go for a long walk, play a board game.

It’ll be good for all of us. We’ll be better neighbors, friends, lovers, and parents.

Here’s to healthy limits for our souls. Here’s to healthier souls for our work.

I’ll still be here, l’l be around—but I’ll be quieter for a bit. And I’ll talk to you again… soon.

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17 Comments

  1. Seana Turner

    My husband and I were just talking about this yesterday. We are designed to need periodic rest… the sabbath concept. I have great empathy for those whose lives don’t allow for a window of “pause,” and who have to keep going every day no matter what. It burns us out. I wish you a wonderful summer, as you disconnect and reflect and create!

  2. Suse

    Yes! Love this so much. We need to recharge and receive in order to have something to give. xx

  3. Caroline Starr Rose

    That’s my July, every year. Sisters in solidarity!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Boom!

  4. Aimee Kollmansberger

    Yes! I have been saying that summer is the time to “repair the foundation” of all the different aspects of our lives so that we are strong when the inevitable busyness of fall shows up. Enjoy your break.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Repair the foundation – I like that!

  5. Rita

    Your wit and wisdom will be missed – glad to know it’s only for a short time while you get the most out of your summer – enjoy! BTW Please don’t totally disregard the post comments – some of us just don’t do social media :o) Have a wonderful time off!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Oh, I’ll still read the comments and wave hi every now and then! Thanks, Rita. 🙂

  6. Nikki (NYNomads)

    I’ve thought about life before every moment was controlled by the internet and technology, how we’re able to know anything and everything at the touch of a button. It’s scary, in all honesty.

  7. Annette

    As others have mentioned, I will miss you! However, I also say, have so much fun!
    I am exhausted from the mess that is I my inbox and my newsfeed. I am culling every day, and purposefully adding positive content. I think I may just log off and join you in the garden!

  8. Heather

    Such a great reminder that we ALL need to take a break.

    I’ve been devouring the podcast and loving every episode. Getting ready to read your At Home book, so I’ll have enough Tsh to tide me over until you get back. 😉

    I can’t wait to see what you have on the horizon. See you on the other side.

    ~Here’s to dirty fingernails and sweaty curls in this Texas humidity.

  9. Johnny Lympus

    Amen. Enjoy your break and look forward to reading more and better articles because of it. I think it takes courage to stop when you don’t have to. Thanks for leading by example on this. J

  10. Karen

    Definitely agree with you! It’s always nice to switch off and take a break from social media- it can be exhausting at times. It is sometimes like we are trapped in a vicious cycle, one where we are afraid of missing out and have the need to “catch up”!

  11. Natalie Ann Redman

    Breaks are so important! It helps to mind reset.

  12. Helen

    I agree breaks are so important! I look at others who give work all of their attention and think their priorities are wrong. We all need a good work life balance 🙂
    Helen | The Little Giraffe
    http://Www.thelittlegirraffe.org

  13. Alicia Eichmann

    Tsh, it is hard but so important to take time to slow down and step away, get perspective, spend time with family, in nature, recharging, finding inspiration. Thanks so much for setting that example for us! I’m excited to see what your next season holds, and I really enjoyed the book. Thanks for sharing your family’s journey.

  14. Carol Rogers

    Self care is so important and as a nurse for years I can look back and know when I wasn’t taking the time I needed for myself. Life is short, make the time 🙂

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