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.
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.
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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