I’m Ba-ack!

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The first Hellebores of 2015, taken on March 9th.

The first Hellebores of 2015, taken on March 9th.

During the writing retreat I took with four friends back in February, Shirley and Kathy talked about taking a Lenten sabbatical from all things “Social Media.” Envious, I told myself, “They both are already published writers with terrific, heart-grabbing books. They can afford to do that. They have great followings and six to eight weeks of being in absentia, wouldn’t hurt their sales, ratings, or any other business issue.”

Feeling a tad burned out by all of the things I do on a daily basis, including revising my memoir, keeping up with my blog, email, Facebook, Twitter, and my daily household duties such as cooking and keeping the house tidy, I wished I could go on sabbatical, too.

A week later.

A week later.

Facebook and Twitter, two places I’ve been told are absolutely necessary to participate in to build a platform were taking up too much of my time. I  threatened to quit both on a daily basis. They annoyed me. Whenever I’d start checking Twitter and Facebook trying to find something of interest to post about, Iwould get hooked, read everything but what I needed to read, and then feel as though I’d wasted an entire day. And while I’ve always loved working on this blog, I was tired and running out of ideas. I needed time to figure out where I was going with it. I yearned for time to just stare into space. I wanted more time to read for pleasure. I had a yen to get out my paints, brushes, and splatter glowing colors on a huge piece of canvas, as well as myself.

Same Hellebores on March 14th.

Same Hellebores 2 weeks later.

So, on the evening before I published that last blog post, I made the snap decision to join my friends on sabbatical. I asked myself, “Why not?” I was tired of waking in the night to use the bathroom, and not being able to go back to sleep because I’d start worrying how to get good reviews for the book I hadn’t even finished yet.  I’d try various breathing techniques to calm the knots in my stomach and then get up again to take a pill to remedy the headache that was worsening. For someone with an anxiety disorder, I was not taking care to keep myself from overwhelm and the inevitable panic attacks that can result.

I reasoned that if I took back the time I spent on social media, including my blog, I’d have more time to revise my memoir. I chose not to worry about my “platform,” or what the experienced big boys and girls were saying about what I had to do in order to be a successful author. I was getting more and more anxious about how I was going to get my book published and then spend the rest of my dotage being a saleswoman. I declared, “ Enough already!”

I had big plans for all the extra time I’d have. I’d allow myself to daydream, providing myself with new creative ideas, and time to just relax. I’d take at least an hour every day to read for fun. I’d get back into a daily stretching routine and help my body to get over it’s aches and pains. I’d take brisk walks and go for the 10,000 steps I knew I needed to take every day in order to stay fit. And in order to fill that yearning to start doing some visual art, I decided to keep a weekly visual journal in order to give myself some play time.

It all started out beautifully. I started ripping things out of magazines, got out the glue and markers, and started putting together my first journal page. I walked every day, and spent time stretching my stiff parts. I read, experimented with some new recipes in the kitchen, and took naps when I felt I needed to. I started feeling better immediately and was grateful that I’d chosen to quit the self abuse and just take some time off to get my head back together again.

Chinese Magnolia, April 1st.

Japanese Magnolia, April 1st.

So here I am, back on my blog and taking time to peek at and comment on Facebook and Twitter. I’m happy to be back, rested and wiser for the experience. Next week, I’ll fill you in on what I learned and how it all turned out.

In the meantime, I’m posting some photos of what spring has looked like here. I hope you enjoy them and come back next week for more.


  1. Joan — Stretching, daydreaming, experimenting with recipes, journaling, napping, splattering paint…it sounds like you invested wisely in YOURSELF. I look forward to reading about what you learned during your sabbatical. Welcome back!

    • Joan Rough says:

      Laurie, Thanks so much for your kind welcome back. Please see the note below I’ve written to all of you who have left comments here.

  2. Welcome back, Joan! I love that you joined Shirley and I on this mission to retreat, regroup and renew. So happy to hear how you spent your time nurturing yourself.–“journaling, napping and splattering paint”. We all need to unplug every now and then so we’ll last in the long haul. I’m happy to be back in the fray with you! It will be interesting to share , Life After the Sabbatical,too.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Unplugging is the secret to living a good life, Kathy. I’m so glad to have joined you in this experiment and grateful for all of things I learned about myself and how I spend my energy. It was eye opening. Learning what is important in my life was the icing on this wonderful delicate cake.

  3. Joan, these blooms remind me of spring in C’ville… so beautiful! The year I was there, the blooms started in February and kept going throughout the summer. And the crocuses lasted more than a month! Here in the north they last a day. And the dogwoods! They are my favorite tree of all times.

    Your sabbatical sounds like it was a good break. Now that you are back, will you do anything differently? The reason I ask is because I am an author who dared to do away with Facebook. Now writing posts for my blog is something I want to do, not a chore. I also use Twitter, but I don’t spend time on that like I used to on FB.

    The thing that the “experts” who tell authors we should be on social media cannot ever quantify is how much of a difference it makes in sales of books… no one knows. I have not noticed any difference in my book sales since I dared to take the plunge. But I can tell you I noticed a big difference in the numbers of people visiting my blog. Since my second book came out in February 2014, I have had just under one million hits on my blog and website. So for me it was a positive move. Being the rebel that I am, I encourage other writers who want more balance in their lives to dare to take the path right for them… even if that means leaving FB.

    I wish you all the best with the launching of your book.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Saloma, Thanks for your comments and please read the post I wrote to you and everyone else who commented here.

      The sabbatical was a wonderful break and yes, I am for now doing things differently. I’m only spending minimal time on Facebook and Twitter, feeling that what my writing here is coming from the real me. Here I have the space to let my readers really know me. I also need lots of time for my book which is my most important project.

      I’m not surprised your numbers have surged with your second book. I hear more and more pros saying that 2 or more books is the magic in providing writers with the platform.

  4. Joan, so glad you took a breather. And my guess is that it will make your book better by giving you the chance to do one thing at a time. Getting the book itself finished in the way you want it is more important than “platform building.” And keeping your body moving helps keep your heart and spirit moving.

    Can’t wait to read more!

    • Joan Rough says:

      Shirley, You are absolutely right. The book is the top priority and I have noticed how much easier it is to revise and enjoy the process, instead of pushing and beating myself into doing it all. I did miss writing here very much, but after this break, I’m happy to return and start writing again about life and how to make it a joyfull time.

  5. Surely art is your muse, for it seems you started to blossom when you touched paints and began to splatter, a metaphor represented beautifully by the flowering hellebores and magnolia. This morning I went to Pilates, raked leaves from the downpour of 18 oaks, and now I’m catching up with my blogging friends. Next – work on WIP – then a few taps on Facebook posts.

    Comparisons are a slippery slope, but when you feel overwhelmed, remember – I’m just beginning a first draft. We’ll both get there some day, and you before I – ha!

    • Joan Rough says:

      Yes, my friend, we will get there and I know that taking our time and going for balance in how we live is what will see us through. Taking time in the great outdoors, raking leaves or pruning back shrubs is truly what keeps me going. I cannot imagine what it must be like to work 8 hours a day in an office without windows to at least see the sunshine.

      I’m grateful for the time I took away and for being back.

  6. Welcome back Joan. I love it when we take time to refresh and nourish ourselves .. and practice letting go of what we become attached to.
    Good for you 🙂
    Val x

    • Joan Rough says:

      Thanks, Val. I feel well nourished and ready to begin the next chapter of getting my book finished. Letting go is such a good thing to practice. It is what life is all about.

  7. Joan, so glad you too took a break from the oppressiveness that can be social media these days. It sounds as if you enjoyed finding new creative avenues and stretching your bones. Good for you for putting you first!

    • Joan Rough says:

      Sherrey, I loved being disconnected for a while, but I sure am glad to be back here on my blog. I’ve come to believe that taking breaks as I did is a necessity for me and I’ll probably do it again next year. It is the ultimate in self-care!

  8. Joan Rough says:

    Let me apologize to you all for not connecting with you on this post. For some reason I was not receiving the emails I usually get when someone comments on my blog. I’ve sent the problem to my web person and hopefully he can figure out what was going on. Thank you all for your welcome home. I’m glad to back. I did miss writing here and step back into this place with joy.