On Birthdays

Looks like I’ve successfully completed another trip around the sun.

Birthdays are hardly my favourite days. They’re a yearly reminder of just how little I’ve gotten done—or at least how little I think I’ve gotten done.

I have a habit of holding myself to very high standards—impossibly high, some might say. I look at Jobs, Welles, and Zuckerbergs of the world, and see people who achieved creative and/or entrepreneurial success younger than me, and can’t help but stack up my short list of achievements next to their lengthy ones at the same time.

Earlier tonight, I attended a screening of the premiere of the new series of Doctor Who, starring Peter Capaldi. Although he could hardly be considered unsuccessful before this point, his role as the new Doctor is easily his highest profile role so far, and has catapulted him to a new level of stardom. And, oh right, he’s 56.

It’s easy to forget that success is like a mountain. Some people might scale it faster, but no matter what, if you don’t look back and don’t turn around, you’ll make it to the top too. It might take a while—56 years, perhaps—but you’ll make it.

Instead of lamenting that I haven’t reached the top quite as quickly as I’d like, I need to stop and enjoy the journey. It’s easy to forget that the sights below the summit can be just as beautiful as the view from the top… if you pause and look.

August thoughts

August has been a busy month. Between client work, the launch of BlastOff, travel, and the strains of everyday life, I am officially wiped out.

I’ve been spending the past week in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, visiting a friend. The town (village, perhaps?) is beautiful—if you’ve ever tried to imagine what a seaside Maine town is like, you’ve probably imagined something like Boothbay Harbor. I spend my mornings in the small local coffee shop, my afternoons visiting the sights and enjoying the weather, and my evenings lost in thought.

As wonderful as this week has been, it’s not quite hitting the level of restoration I was hoping for. Don’t get me wrong: I’m in a much better place than I was a week or two ago. The fresh air and sun have done me good, and I’ve had plenty of time to socialise away from the laptop.

But there’s still something missing. As usual, it’s time: a week is nice, but hardly enough to develop a consistent routine that allows for ample relaxation time. And because of the pressures of client work, I can’t disconnect completely. Frankly, even if I could I’m not sure I would want to. Crazy as it may seem, I really do enjoy what I do. When I’m not working I’m often thinking about work: solutions to client problems, phrasing for proposals I’m working on, feature ideas for BlastOff, etc.

I think these issues—the inability to disconnect, the lack of time for a routine, etc.—are central issues that most digital nomads face. When you’re bouncing from place to place, it’s hard to find consistency. When you barely stop, you barely breathe.

It’s hard to recharge a battery that’s constantly being drained.

Adding to the madness are changes and challenges in my personal life. To be frank, the dating scene in New York City has been maddening, leading to frequent frustration. And while I’m incredibly fortunate to have wonderful friends, I still spend more of my time alone than not (again, the challenges of being a nomade sans bureau surface). There are some nights that are wonderful, but many others push me to very depressive lows.

As I move forward over the next few months—as we make our way into autumn—I know I need to make improvements. I need to spend more time with more people. I need to take up yoga, or work out more, or commit to running, and make physical fitness a real priority. I need to allow myself to experience happiness without guilt, and sadness without letting it take over—I need to give my emotions the weight they deserve.

Above all, I need to slow down. Life passes by whether we notice it or not; may as well make the effort to notice—and relish in—everything it has to offer.

Addendum: after publishing this post, I noticed this quote on a website: “Time is very slow for those who wait.” I’m not sure I fully understand the quote—it’s simplistic yet enigmatic, like a finely-honed koan—but it feels relevant, and I wanted to share it here.

The quote is from a poem by Henry van Dyke, and the full poem is at his Wikipedia entry.

Fall Speaking Tour

WordPress is fantastic blogging software that works just as well for podcasting.

WordPress is fantastic blogging software that works just as well for podcasting.

Hey all! It seems that I only post here about my speaking events… sorry for that!

That said, I do happen to have a lot of speaking events coming up. Here’s where you can find me over the next few weeks/months:

WordCamp Maine

I’m SO excited to be speaking at WordCamp Maine on August 15th and 16th. On the 15th, I’ll be giving a class about content creation. I have a lot of opinions on the idea of “content” as well as how to do it right (and wrong), and this is a great opportunity to get some hands-on instruction.

On the 16th, I’ll be debuting a brand new talk on content marketing, outsourcing, and related topics.

WordCamp Boston

A week after my talk in Maine, I’m heading to WordCamp Boston on August 23rd! I attended last year and had a great time, and I’m especially looking forward to speaking this year. I’ll be giving a new-and-improved version of my WordCamp Philly talk, which explains some of the tools and techniques we use at Van Patten Media to make sites easier for clients to manage.

WordCamp Buffalo

Finally, I’ll be shuffling off to Buffalo for the third WordCamp Buffalo. I’ll be reprising my content marketing talk from WordCamp Maine, undoubtedly with many tweaks and improvements. I always love visiting Buffalo, and I’m very excited to be joining a great speaker line-up full of awesome friends!

And more!

In addition to the talks above, I’m tentatively planning a trip to a few more autumn WordCamps. As the details get locked down, I’ll be sure to share here.