2014 has been a strange year for me, full of ups and downs and major changes. It is the first full year I have lived away from Glasgow, the first year in a long time I have not travelled abroad, I also started a new job in January and of course in 2014 I also started 'Adventures Around Scotland' which has grown more than I could ever have predicted.
As the year draws to a close I am one of those people that likes to reflect back and look forward, set goals and begin anew. I think it is important to take time out to acknowledge changes that have taken place and where exactly your life path has guided you over the last 12 months. Although it is impossible to plan for a year in advance as fate always springs surprises, it is possible to set some small goals and a short term destination to give your life some focus and direction.
One of my biggest decisions I have to make will be on the direction that I take this blog. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has turned into a major commitment which takes up a large part of my free time. When I started writing about my travels I never really had a plan, I simply enjoyed sharing Scotland with the world. I have been taken aback at how much the blog has taken off and I now have the dilemma about where I go with it next year as keeping up my day job, fitting in travels and managing growing social media accounts, e-mails, networking and pr requests on top of my actual blogging has become more and more demanding.
Many people would think this is a good position to be in and I'm definitely not complaining but the only way to grow my blog further is reducing my hours on my day job which I do enjoy and it pays the bills, however my job also means that I have to turn down travel opportunities and potential earnings from my blog as I just don't have the time.
In an effort to work out my priorities and what I really want to accomplish in 2015 I am taking some time out over Hogmanay for a digital detox.
Everyone chooses to begin a New Year in various different ways and over the years I have started mine off at the usual parties, concerts, ceilidhs, dinners, family get togethers and on occasion I have done something different as the bells signal the 1st of January like fly to SE Asia or celebrate in a snow storm on Rannoch Moor with a whisky (cold but memorable!).
As the last days of 2014 appear on my calendar I have been desperately trying to figure out how I want to acknowledge this changing year and I have decided that it is time to get back in touch with the outdoors and beautiful wild landscape of the country I call home.
This may not sound very original but for me it is long overdue. 2014 has raced by with a new job, new home and ever growing blog which has left little time to truly relax, connect with nature and appreciate the simple things in life. It may sound an over romanticised image but I really do find sitting by a stream, walking through a remote glen or spending a night under the stars to be the best tonic for the mind and soul. With depleted energy and general lack of focus at the moment I can't think of a better way to take some time out and just breathe and be.
You may think that I do this all the time as my travel blog and photographs are full of beautiful, wild places around Scotland. In reality, I am usually taking notes, looking for a WiFi or 3G signal to upload images and posts or packing as much as possible into a day for a travel article. Whilst my blog has brought me many amazing opportunities, it has also distracted me from truly enjoying and being mindful of my surroundings (for anyone that thinks blogging is easy I can assure you it is HARD WORK!)
I have spent far too much of 2014 staring at a computer screen or through the lens of a camera and not enough time absorbing the beauty around me. The penalty has been tiredness, lack of motivation and weeks of neck pain accompanied by a general feeling of having life overtake me. So now it is time to take charge, get back on track, ready and energised to face whatever another year throws at me.
In a couple of days I will be retreating back up to my favourite corners of the Highlands, free of WiFi and 3G (although I will of course have my camera!), where the primitive environment draws you in and nourishes your being. Quite simply a place where I can breathe and mark the New Year with simplicity and mindfulness.
I hope that having some space and time to think will help me set some goals and work out what I really want to achieve this year. In many ways I have forgotten how to have fun and enjoy life in 2014 as I have constantly been moving from one project to another and big life changes, even positive ones, come with their own stresses.
With a last burst of digital frenzy I will be setting up my Tweetdeck before I leave to ensure I stay virtually connected even if mentally and spiritually I am far-removed from the world wide web for a while.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that has supported my blog this year and shared kind comments and inspired me to keep following my dream. Whatever your own plans are this Hogmanay I hope you have an amazing time and that the coming year brings you health, happiness and peace.
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