A Little Update…On my Radio Silence, Fighting Overwhelm and Gratitude

I have this tendency with my site to focus on the positive, to write about my travels, and sprinkle in my back story, my point of view, but very rarely my current life. And so, as I spent the last three months fighting overwhelm back home in Florida (writing a non-fiction book, handling family dynamics, and trying to meet deadlines), I chose to mostly stay silent, figuring if I didn’t have some inspiring travel story to share, everyone reading would likely just prefer me to say nothing.

But I’m breaking the silence now because I can’t be the only one who has to pause from one part of life and just take care of things. I travel…a lot, and when I am traveling other things tend to be left undone. And on top of that, life just throws curve balls. When I returned in May from my travels with my niece, these “undone” things decided curl up under my desk chair, mewl pitifully, and taunt me.

I write this now as a way toward a bit more transparency. From emails of reader feedback, it tends to look like I quite seamlessly integrate travel and home . But really, I’m on this odd rollercoaster of circumstances, choices and life too…which means I juggle unequally weighted balls labeled: work, family, blogging, homeschooling, travel plans, and time with friends. And for the past two months I just couldn’t keep all these balls in the air. (And yes, I’m done with the strange mewling-juggling-rollercoastering analogy now, I promise).

Anyhow, last summer I described my relationship with travel in an introspective piece, a love letter to travel that detailed my decision to come home for the summers each year and see my family, while traveling for four-six months at a time to other places. That still summarizes the travel side of my life, though I have now added a tween-aged student to the mix, which changes the dynamics of travel and life altogether.

A few weeks ago I hit a wall with this site – the fact that I had not posted in weeks caused me all sorts of stress. I was overwhelmed by the number of “must dos” pulling my attention, and yet felt an obligation to the site. For nearly four years now I have written at minimum four posts a month. And yet in the last 30 days I managed nada. Okay, that’s a bit of a lie. I got frustrated one night and penned an epically dramatic post entitled (and my eloquence here is fabulous): A Little Decision…I Quit. I’ll spare you the details of that, but it was stream of consciousness post scrawled in dark navy ink and barely legible since it was written in near darkness on the top of a hostel bunk bed. The final thing I wrote, though, was perhaps the truest of it all:

I can’t quit, I love writing. I love how my photography has grown over four years because of a commitment to A Little Adrift. I am grateful to the community and the people I have met by the mere fact that in sharing my travels, I joined a global community of like-minded souls. I’m grateful for the opportunities traveling and writing have brought to my life. I’m grateful to every person who has ever read and support A Little Adrift.  I won’t quit, I can’t quit, I just don’t have time this month…and that’s okay.

And so, instead of a travel post, you get this. My honesty that life is overwhelming for all of us, and this is a summer of overwhelm for me. And it’s ebbing a bit. And with that in mind, I’d like to share a series of photos. The summer’s highlights so far. And to share my thanks and gratitude to the friends who hosted me, the travelers who touristed me around their town, and people who shared time, space and stories with me at conferences and get-togethers.

habitat for humanity pdx

In early July, a group of WDS conference attendees and I gave our time for a build day at Habitat for Humanity in Portland, Oregon in the days after the conference. I roomed with each one of these great people (and each deserve a thanks: Devon, Jacob, James, Steve, Jodi, Nicky, Nate, Nathan, David, Dave and Nathan for making it such a fun and rewarding day). And in true form, I encouraged us all to do an epic jumping shot on site :)

At Discovery Cove in Orlando, Florida with my bestest of friends :)

Back in May, my friends and I went to Discovery Cove at Sea World, Orlando to see dolphins and generally just to spend the day together. It was good fun and neat to see the dolphins up close and playful. These are some of the people I leave behind when I travel, and it was so nice to relax, snorkel, and chat with few other worries.

Raspberry picking and a fallen tree in Seattle, Washington.

After the conference in Portland, friends (and fellow Chiang Mai expats) Sean and Eva took me into their home in Seattle. They showed me a lifestyle I often miss from my two years spent living on the West Coast: fresh juice each morning, a focus on nature, and huge quantities of berries just nearby for the picking!

At the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Visitors Center

The NVR guys took me on an informal walking tour of their city and hilarity ensued for most of the day. A highlight was the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Visitors Center — it was free and worth a visit, so a heartfelt thanks to Kent and Caanan, I hope our paths cross again soon. (PS Can you find us in the photos? :)

Denver Colorado

My friend Jenn opened up her home to me in Denver, Colorado and then showed me around the city. We found beautiful flowers in the Botanical Gardens and I learned the value of sunscreen at high altitudes on our visit to Red Rocks. And best of all, I got to meet her new son on the trip. :)

B-man in Denver

And this little guy, Jenn’s newly turned 1-year-old  was a highlight of the summer. Just three days with him in Denver reminded me that we’re meant to see, smell, taste and experience this world of ours.

Thank you,

~S

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25 Responses to A Little Update…On my Radio Silence, Fighting Overwhelm and Gratitude

  1. joanna_haugen July 31, 2012 at 7:10 pm #

    Shannon ~ You are an inspiration to a lot of people (myself included) not because you travel all the time but because you are a REAL PERSON. It’s okay to take time off, and it’s okay to feel like you want to quit. If you felt inspired to tell “positive” stories all the time, it wouldn’t be genuine. That’s not how life is. I admire you for who you are, not for who you think everyone expects you to be.

  2. Dani July 31, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    Shannon – please don’t quit! :) You have been doing this for such a long time, and put so much effort into this site, it would be a shame if you quit. Taking a break is totally okay and you have so many dedicated readers who’ll still be there. I’ve noticed that it’s been rather quiet on your site but it looks like you had a great little adventure in Portland, Seattle and Denver – and your photos are fantastic!

  3. Rishi July 30, 2012 at 8:11 am #

    I like this post….a lot. Life can be overwhelming for everyone, and you’re lucky you decided to follow your desire and do all this, at this young age. You must have, already, gathered enough memories, anecdotes and experiences to pen a travel memoir of some sort.

    Cheers
    Rishi

  4. starrsy July 30, 2012 at 2:40 am #

    Glad to hear from you. Give yourself some time. We will be here eager to catch up when you are ready. I enjoy your stories and look forward to your advice.

  5. budgetjan July 29, 2012 at 7:46 am #

    Good to hear from you and get to know the “not travelling at the moment” Shannon. Everyone needs time to get things done, relax, we are all still here!

  6. Callie July 28, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    Great post! It’s important to hear about this side of blogging as well…glad you’re keeping on! :)

  7. Drew Meyers July 28, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    The next time you go to Seattle for any reason, you HAVE to let me know. I know lotsa peeps there to connect you with, all of whom I know you’d like if you like me me :)

  8. Joanne July 26, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    Love the honesty – we all get that way and I for one am glad that you chose to continue with the blog – and I think you see the effect that you are having on people. I think it is terrific – let it all hang out, for in the immortal words of Dr. Suess. “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Love you!

    • ShannonOD July 27, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

      Thank you lady, it really is the emails and support that has kept me motivated. Hugs. Thank you. xo :)

  9. me July 25, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    ?how about you posting shorter versions and more pics- at certain times of the year… its called a virtual postcard…
    *always remember we appreciate you!

    • ShannonOD July 25, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

      That’s a good idea, I do have many photos edited already that haven’t made it up. Thanks for the feedback and support, perhaps you’ll see a photoessay up soon :)

  10. Sharon Miro July 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    Whelm, and it’s cousin Over, are normal visitors in any sane human’s life. Part of the cycle of life today when we are all compelled/told to DO MORE! HAVE IT ALL! DON’T COMPLAIN! They need acknowledgement just like Joy, Love, and Fun. Time away does not mean submission to doubt..it simply means acknowledgement of self.

    • ShannonOD July 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm #

      Hi Sharon, thanks for weighing in and sharing your ideas,
      I definitely think I spent some time running through that cycle of trying to do it all and doubt. It has helped to give myself permission leave some things undone and look at the other pieces of my life; those tricky cousins try to eclipse joy, love and fun.

  11. Mike Sowden July 25, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    I declare war on whelm.

    WE WILL NEVER SUCCUMB TO THE EVIL HORDES OF WHELM.

    Time away is allowed. Everyone comes back. Traffic rankings and Alexa scores say nothing of true followers. But i know you know that, and I know that’s no comfort, I’m betting.

    Last year, during a moment of profound disillusionment, I almost deleted my blog. Without having a backup. I just wanted OUT. I wanted away from the pressure of having it always calling to me, eating up time I could spend directly earning money, sucking me into pointless circular discussions on social media…

    I’m very glad I just let go of it for a while.

    I hope you find a comfortable pace with it again, and find a way to balance it with everything crazysauce that’s going on with you right now.

    Because you’re really, really damn good at this lark.

    Hugs.

    • ShannonOD July 25, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

      A war on whelm, I LIKE it Mike! In our industry, there is that pressure to keep up, to blog and compare to others, and I needed some time away this summer to do other things, evaluate, and that sort. It’s a bit heartening to know that others have hit a similar wall. And I am mighty glad you didn’t delete your whole site! Yikes…you have such a great voice…no way are you allowed to delete those old ideas, I forbid it! Thanks for the cheerleading Mike, having friends to bounce the whelm off of helps :)

  12. Carmela July 24, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    Thank you so much for such an honest and motivating post. I’ve been feeling the same way lately too – having a hard time updating the travel blog and feeling self-inflicted pressure to do so.

    • ShannonOD July 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

      It really can be overwhelming, but taking a break and releasing my self-proclaimed need to constantly update has helped relieve some of the feelings of obligation that were creeping in, and instead are helping me see the blog as a positive outlet for stories and photos once again. Hope you can find a way to balance and enjoy, good luck Carmela :)

  13. Rachel Cotterill July 24, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    I know what it’s like to get overwhelmed – and I, too have a tendency to keep my blog content on the (unrealistically) happy side.

    • ShannonOD July 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

      It can be tough; and there is something to say for maintaining positivity, but it is heartening to know there are others with similar struggles. Hope your summer goes well Rachel! :)

  14. Jon Willis July 24, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    Truly enjoy your posts! Thank you!

    • ShannonOD July 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

      Thank you Jon! I appreciate your support :)

  15. James Schipper July 24, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    Your photography really has improved a bunch! I’m glad you’re still here!

    • ShannonOD July 25, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

      Thanks James! I appreciate that and am so sorry things have fallen through the crack, but I will shoot you an email tonight about meeting up :)

      • James Schipper July 25, 2012 at 11:19 pm #

        Do not even for a moment let me add any stress to your world. Nothing to be sorry about. I’ve already seen you once this summer! :-D

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