I spent this past weekend at Richmond Hill on a church retreat. Richmond Hill has an interesting history that lends itself to reflection and solitude. It was originally a convent for an order of nuns who prayed for reconciliation after Richmond was burned during the Civil War. Today, it’s an ecumenical Christian fellowship and residential community, still praying for metropolitan Richmond—and inviting retreatants, with the ringing of a cowbell, to join them at 7 a.m., noon and 6 p.m. for prayer services.
I found Richmond Hill, with its beautiful gardens, quiet spaces, history and views of Richmond, a peaceful oasis and conducive to contemplation. After we finished our work on Sunday—a course on “creation care” (i.e., trying to lead a simpler, “greener” life), I strolled through the gardens, enjoying a gorgeous fall day, discovering secluded spots and many plants still in bloom.
Sitting on a bench in one of those little nooks, I began to think about my past year as a PR “indie” and blogger. It’s been a year since I left full-time employment to start a PR consulting firm. This past week also marks the one-year anniversary of The Wayward Journey.
When I started the Journey, I wasn’t sure if I had it in me to write a personal blog. As I said in my first post, “[T]his blog is part experiment as I seek to reclaim a voice for myself; part therapeutic as I work through a major career transition and attendant life changes; and—I sincerely hope—part informative and provocative for those of you who may be going through similar changes.”
In many ways, my blogging exceeded my expectations: 65 posts over 52 weeks that explored everything from career changes to putting purpose in my life. There were posts that came naturally and just poured out. With others, I struggled to find the right words to express my feelings and experiences.
And along the way, I enjoyed having followers leave me comments and give me encouragement.
What have I learned?
- “The unexamined life isn’t worth living.” I have always liked this quote attributed to Socrates. This past year was definitely one of recharging, rethinking and retooling. I would say my blog has helped me examine my life in ways that I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise.
- I need to write! I’ve come to realize that blogging is like oxygen for me, so I need to figure out ways to keep it going without sapping my work time. I need to write, but I also need to achieve that ever-elusive balance in life.
- “Simplify, simplify, simplify.” I always come back to Thoreau. I’m convinced more than ever that if you can simplify your life—reduce it down to its essence and clear away the clutter—the more effective and happier you will be.
- Having a purpose in life is key. I think I’m getting closer, but I am not consumed, not on fire, just yet. I think that will come, and when it does, everything else will fall into place.
- Relationships matter. I haven’t done the best job of maintaining and creating relationships. I tend to get wrapped up in work or preoccupied with my writing. I need to make time for people. Heaven forbid that an introvert should say that!
- Have a little faith. The anxiety I first felt on this journey has largely dissipated. I have discovered that I can do many things that I wasn’t sure I could do. And I have renewed my faith in a God who really does seem to watch over me.
So here’s to Year 2! May it be just as thought-provoking and challenging as Year 1.
Top posts this past year…
In case you missed these posts, here are the top five most-visited pages on my blog (based on WordPress analytics):
- Hard evidence that soft leadership skills matter
- WWSJD (What Would Steve Jobs Do)?
- The ‘quiet’ storm: unleashing the power of introverts
- Extreme career makeover
- Seriously, it’s okay to promote yourself
…and some of my favorites