It wasn’t fun anymore…

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You might have wondered where have I disappeared for the past month and why I didn’t really update the blog in a while. And I have to be honest with you. The truth is that I have been struggling with a burned out feeling for quite some time now, I felt that I couldn’t concentrate anymore and that my mind became empty. I have tried to find answers to this problem, I have tried to ignore it at first and hope that it will go away by itself. I have spent weekends in bed, doing nothing but watching movies, I have been active by going to the gym every day, I have tried to eat healthy, but nothing seemed to help. I had given up with hobbies and my camera became dusty on the shelf, abandoned. Every day I would wake up with the same empty feeling wondering what the day would bring. I was becoming impatient, clumsy, and the smallest things irritated me, even made me feel angry. I was becoming a person that I didn’t like, and I was started to hate myself for it. I was closed in this circle with concrete walls that I couldn’t break, there was no hammer anywhere. Something had to change.

So I decided that I needed a break. I needed to start feeling again and I needed my creativity back. I needed to find myself again, the curious traveller, the passionate photographer, the helping hand. I needed to start smiling again.

On the 1st of October I boarded a flight from Gatwick Airport to Pisa. I didn’t know what was waiting for me there, but I knew I had to do something to break the routine. And, as always, traveling was my way out, my saviour.

I rented a room in a house on top of a hill, in a village in Tuscany. I rented a moped, even if I have never driven before. I wanted my own eat, pray and love month, I was hoping that my month away in Italy will have the same effect on me that it did on Elizabeth Gilbert. A cliché? Maybe, but in my current state of mind I felt all I had all I had was hope.

When I stepped out of the plane and touched the ground at Pisa Airport I felt a moment of release, of peace. I smiled. I almost felt like I had to fall down and kiss the tarmac. I’ve made my way through customs (which lasted 30 seconds, compared to the UK when I get questioned every single time I enter the country), took the train and headed towards Empoli, where my host would pick me up from the station and take me to what was supposed to be my new home for the next month. During the first night I slept like a baby, something that didn’t happen to me in a while. I woke up at 10, surrounded only by the sounds of the birds chirping at my window. And above all, there was even a cat which loved me from the first second we met.

I will write detailed posts about my Italian experience during the following months, because oh, there is so much to tell. I’ve managed to learn how to drive a motorbike, 3 days after I swore not to get back on it because I fell on my first lesson. And during the last weekend in Italy I drove it 120 km in a return trip to San Gimigniano, all by myself.

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I’ve learned how to communicate in Italian and make myself understood, in a village in which nobody would really speak English. I have made friends at the local café and I cried when we’ve said good-bye. “Will you come back?”, they asked me. I’ve discovered a different Florence than the one I’ve seen 10 years ago. Back then I didn’t like it. Getting to know it with a local made such a difference! I’ve even trespassed inside a posh hotel’s garden so that I can admire Ponte Vecchio from a privileged spot. I ate gelato for dinner.

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I’ve learned how to cook Italian food and learned about the different techniques that the Italian mammas use. And I ate like there was no tomorrow. I’ve had the best gelato in my life. I drank wine, a lot of wine, bought directly from the little winery next to the house. I took part in the picking of the olives, with my adopted family, and I even received a small jar of new olive oil back (damn you 100 ml rule for hand luggage).

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I’ve seen the entire valley underneath the house turn golden every evening, at sunset. I fell in love again at Cinque Terre. I’ve been to the theatre, I’ve attended a film festival, I went to a concert and I even took part in a meditation class held in Italian. I’ve been to an open mic night. I tried to say yes to every opportunity that arose. I walked through vineyards and olive trees gardens, I drove through the colourful village roads of Tuscany.

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I tried to take it easy and to enjoy every moment, every sunset, every sunny day, every slice of pizza and every bite of pasta, every glass of wine, every stroke of the cat, and every drive on the motorbike.

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It’s the 3rd of November and I’m writing this while on the plane, from Pisa back to Gatwick. I already miss my life in Italy, but I also feel that my creativity is back, and that I am a changed person. I am becoming me again. I always go back to Italy when I am not feeling myself and Italy has always received me with open arms, like a loving mother receives their long-lost child.

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Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

85 Comments

  1. An honest post if ever there was one. I know the feeling of escaping the mundane. Loved that you tried your hand at Italian food too. You wont regret that. I do sometimes feel super-lazy even to browse my own blog. And to write, well thats an entirely different matter. Im sure you know the feeling!

  2. wow it sounds like you had such an amazing time and it done you the world of good! I would love to be able to to just hop on a plane and escape reality for a while. 🙂 xx

  3. I can totally relate to feeling burned out and not having the energy to do anything. I have bouts of that on a regular basis. It got so bad that I also went on a solo trip a couple of years ago. Solo trips are ❤️- it totally rejuvenates the soul. Your vacation looks lovely by the way. Glad you were able to regroup and come out of it with a new perspective. 🙂

  4. I’m also wanting to experience an “Eat, Pray, Love” vacation, but was unsure if I should also jet off to Italy. Looks like you had a blast and you’ve definitely inspired me to purchase a ticket to Italy RIGHT NOW, ha! I love that you took some cooking classes in Italy, I’m hoping to do that more often when I travel. Happy travels to you!

  5. This is a deep post. At first, I thought that you only had a block, but the more I read, I realized that it’s way more past that. I am glad that you made a good call to take a break and find some inspiration for you to be able to continue. I am looking forward to your future posts.

  6. Good for you, for being brave and getting back out there! It can be hard to have your energy sapped by the mundane dailies of life… it’s great you were able to gain energy and zeal back with your travels. Sounds like you met some great friends in the process! We weren’t meant to do life alone 🙂

  7. I’m so glad that you’re starting to feel more like yourself again and your month long trip sounds amazing (very jealous there as Italy is my favourite country), I can’t wait to hear more about the trip x

  8. I get the feeling that Tuscany has a kind of magic. My cousin has a home out there, and it seems to calm him everytime he goes out to stay. He has lovingly done his house up, and posts the most amazing photos. When he comes back to the UK for work, he is more at ease. Am so glad that you have had such a wonderful experience yourself, I hope it stays with you for a long time to come yet.

  9. This was such a lovely read, and so inspiring too! I love Italy, and spend a lot of time there so can understand how you felt. I think more people should take a leaf out of your book and do the same to get some creativity back into their lives. Travel can be so rejuvenating; it’s why I love it!

  10. I was beginning to get teary. But eventually smiled all through. It’s nice to always take a break, go back to nature, and surely finding oneself would become so easy. Gald you didn’t give up. Your story is an inspiration. I’m gald I read it.

  11. Being mobile in a foreign country is very much required, glad you didn’t give up even after the fall.
    I too have a dream to get away to some remote place like this. You have been brave to pursue your dreams.
    And Tuscany seems ideal as a destination.

  12. Italy is probably one of the best places for a re-charge when one feels burned out. All the food and sun and culture somehow soaks into me every time I go there, and I come back so creative and energetic.

  13. I can totally relate here. It’s SUCH a weird, off feeling – and you feel like nothing will change it. I love that you shared this!

  14. Happy to know that you took a break and got recharged. I think it is very important especially for creatives. Just to bring back the inspiration and the passion. Personally, I also make sure that I take a break once in a while.

    Thanks for this post because I realized that I should take break really soon.

  15. How spooky–we spent a month in Tuscany this fall too, and we left on November 4th! We didn’t go for the same reasons you did, but we absolutely fell in love with it. We will be back for our third trip to Tuscany before long! So glad that you found what you were looking for there.

  16. Wow, what a beautiful experience- it’s amazing how necessary travel can be to our well-being. I’m so glad you found what you were looking for out there and that you were able to give yourself such a special gift.

  17. Sometimes we need to take a break for our own wellbeing and get out – I’m extremely glad you went to Italy and managed to recharge and regain focus because being burned out is really not fun. It really sounds like it did you lots of good – you learned new things and gained new experiences and I’m so happy that you got what you wanted out of the trip.

  18. You go girl, I think you are right not to let it take over and to do something about it. I hope you enjoyed Pisa and that it helped you take a mental break.

    Mika

  19. This was total honesty and I really respect that! Awesome stuff welcome back and with a bang! This was a awesome post well done. Keep it going…

  20. I can totally relate to this. Myself and my partner have felt the same at points throughout this year and we always find heading somewhere on a trip helps us to bring some focus back and let our batteries recharge before heading home.

  21. I can relate to the feeling you describe not being able to concentrate, not feeling creative and motivated. I am glad you had a nice change for some time and it helped the creativity and inspiration to come back. I liked your pictures, I visited Florence almost 8 years back and reading your article has made me curious to think about visiting Florence again.

  22. What an inspiring post for all the travel bloggers! Glad that you went to Italy and expanded beyond your horizon. Sometimes we just need a little break in our life to get motivated and rejuvenated. The little joys such as eating gelatos for dinner or watching the sunset are priceless! You go gal! Can’t wait to read about your Italian adventures soon!

  23. What a lovely and honest post. It is difficult when you things are getting on top of you and life seems hard. I would love to go to Italy and do half of the things you did, you had such a great adventure and you know Italy will always be waiting for you x

  24. Yay! Welcome back Joanna, it’s so nice to read another post from you – certainly sounds like you’ve got your blogging mojo back! Your descriptions of Italy are so beautiful, I was right there with you on the journey – can’t wait to read more in your upcoming posts x

  25. It looks like your break in Tuscany really helped get your creativity back. I could follow your example and go for a break somewhere right now! I could get used to gelato for dinner and I’d love to know where this secret location for photographing Veccio bridge is!

  26. It’s ironic that I was feeling the same way in past few months, so I totally get you. Stayed in bed the whole day and did nothing. Not my favorite self at all. Days just went pass by. I knew I wanted to regain the other self that I love, so I also turned into traveling. Traveling brings out the best in us for some reason we couldn’t really explain. For what’s it’s worth, I’m glad to see you active again!

  27. I suppose lovely trips and activities such as this to rediscover ourselves is not only called for but is essential. It would be lovely to whisk off myself in an Italian adventure and eat as much pizza and pasta and gelato that my stomach can manage but since I cannot at the moment, I live vicariously through your beautiful post and get some hugs and kisses from my little man to make the world better again!

  28. We all undergo such a phase of slowly changing into someone we don’t like. I think I experience this on a monthly basis during the time my period is about to come or when I am too burned out. Good for you that you managed to become you again and Italy helped you out. Italy is such a therapy! I remember your article about the cooking lesson you had. Apparently, you did a lot of other fun things! Cannot wait to read your posts then!

  29. I always love to read experiential article like this.

    There are moments in life where we experience something like this: we feel like we couldn’t do something worthwhile and we don’t enjoy the thing we used to do.

    But all the things we could do is that, do whatever makes us happy. Good thing, you divert yourself to doing things like this.

  30. I really appreciate your honesty for this post. I do experience that feeling of emptiness too and I am glad that you somehow managed to cope with it by taking a break and made a quick escape to keep your inspiration and motivation on burning.
    Italy is one of my dream destinations. it seems like a perfect place to unwind. With all the remarkable landmarks, romantic dining places, it is definitely a remarkable travel experience and I’m glad you had a blast here.

  31. Blogging can easily lead to burnout. I have been blogging for 6 years and work so hard at it day after day. My blog is successful but that doesn’t mean I don’t get burnt out. So when I do – I keep my blog going and just let my writers write. Sometimes I give them topics while other times I simply let them have at it and pay them to write about something they enjoy. That gives me a week or so to put my self back in order, get the break I need and jump back in.

  32. Before I even got to the part that mentioned it, I was thinking Eat Pray Love! It’s my very favorite movie and there has been more than once where I’ve just wanted to get on a plane to nowhere! I’m so glad you took some time for yourself and got away for a little while. All of us need that from time to time! Loved this post AND the pictures!

  33. Wow! I love it. One of my dream vacations it to fly into Tuscany, stay there for a week, and then drive down the Amalfi Coast. Your blog has definitely inspired me to act on that dream.

    Thank you for the encouraging post. 🙂

  34. Oh my goodness, I can relate to this so much! Travel is so good for the soul and Italy sounds really wonderful! I’m so glad you had all those beautiful experiences and came back feeling so revitalised! <3 xx

  35. You really describe being in a rut and struggling with that so well, however, I am sorry to hear that you were dealing with that! I think it is fantastic that you took a leap of faith to break out of the space you were in. I am excited to hear more about your journey!

  36. Reading about how you rested and re-charged in Italy was fun. I’m so glad you enjoyed every bit of the vacation ad came back ready to conquer the world again! 🙂

  37. Lovely post. It’s wonderful how certain places in the world can impact us in meaningful ways, opening our eyes not only to knew things but also ourselves.

  38. Wow those golden sunsets are incredible. I really enjoyed reading this post – sometimes we all need a break to discover ourselves again. Sounds like an amazing and refreshing trip.

  39. Travelling is indeed my way out as well when I am blank. I try to have a small break atleast once a quarter to get that energy back and what a great thing you did to travel all way to Pisa and learn biking, make yourself understood where none knew english! Awesome.

  40. This was such a beautiful and truthful post…. we all get to a point we need a break and to recharge ourselves….. I look forward to reading more from you .

  41. What a great post about what you were going through. Im glad you got out of it and were able to head out of and travel. Its always nice to step out of your normal routine sometimes. It feels so good inside. Its like your soul breaths and says thank you. Keep doing what you love and spreading the joy you have inside you.

  42. I’m so glad to hear that you’re feeling better. Perhaps you may feel differently, but I find that the best thing to do during periods of clouded joy is to read the book of Proverbs specifically the first chapter. Through it I can see that living my life in close connection with my Creator gives it greater stability. It’s like having someone Next to you to hold your hand whr you don’t feel sure.

  43. This is a story of how “I found my groove back.” I am delighted to see you blogging again. It always serves you to listen to your heart, and honestly, its hard to hear your inner authority when there is too much pulling you in different directions. Looks like Italy is a fab location, and I can’t wait to ride a moped of my own. 😀 . Cheers!

  44. Wow what an adventure! Travel is so good for getting out of a funk isn’t it, I love idea of just choosing somewhere with no expectation! Pisa looks wonderful x

  45. I am so glad someone spoke about it. I am a workaholic and burn out very often. I have now trained myself to balance my life. Writing is not the only thing I want to do. I divide my time in work and other things like watching films, reading, spending quality time with parents. Glad you got your mojo back!

  46. Thanks for sharing such a “real” post. I think we’ve all been there and it’s something that travel bloggers don’t talk about too often (everyone’s life is not always rainbows and sunshine – we get stuck on the couch in our pjs sometimes too!)

  47. How wonderful that your trip to Pisa helped you to rediscover your mojo, your joy, your peace, your positivity! It must have been so hard to feel so burned out and depressed, and yet you were able to take the right steps to pull yourself through. Wonderful!

  48. I am quite moved by your post. It resonates with me on so many levels. What a beautiful thing that travel does to ones’ souls. The burnt out feeling is just terrible, but it’s so lovely to see that you have taken charge and given yourself what you know that would heal your soul. I am truly looking forward to seeing more of your journey. x

  49. Oh yes! Italy is magic. You’ll find happiness in every corner! I love it so much! But Tuscany is a special place for me and my family!

  50. Thanks for your honesty. I’m a full-time writer for other clients, so my blog often gets pushed to the side because I’m too mentally drained to deal with it. I’m glad you were able to escape and have some much-needed fun and relaxation.

  51. Great post! I love the honesty and beautiful photos. I’m actually thinking of going to Italy for a few months in 2018, so I can’t wait to read about your adventures and if you found what you were looking for!

  52. I ENJOYEd reading your post. I definitely understand the feeling of stoping everything and just think about what you want to do with life and try to find your self again. Great post

  53. Sometimes we just need to take a step back and regroup before we can keep forging ahead. It happens once in a while and it is important to find our joy in what we do again.

  54. Loved reading your honest and candid post. I guess this kind of burnout is something we all face at some time or the other. I think taking off to Pisa was the best decision. Living there and having an immersive experience must have been really a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. I am looking forward to your future posts which aresure to be charged with extra doses creativity.

  55. Ohh, I get this feeling a lot of times but the thing is to accept it and let yourself try something different. Glad you found your modjo back. I bet you will now write even better than before. 🙂

  56. Fun or not fun, really comes out from heart… Well.. Whatever happened, it does create an effect on our feelings.. But yet… It’s our life.. We decide whether to face it, positively, or not..

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