Hello from your favorite blogger! Did you miss me?
Do you ever feel like you blinked and a year passed by? Like life happened, and now you can’t remember to sign documents with 2020 or 2022? As if a swift tide has carried you along without any say in the matter. This has been me for the past 12 months.
In contrast, just over a year ago, New Zealand endured its only extended lockdown, from March to May, where time stood still and the days crept by at an agonizingly slow pace. Thanks to our island status with *literal* moats against the COVID war raging in the rest of the world and a kickass PM who has ensured we stay pandemic-free, life in New Zealand has pretty much been normal for a year. No masks. No distancing. And no COVID. Time quickly picked up its pace.
And if you’re an international travel blogger whose career is based on travel, it also meant no work. No travel = no income for me. I went from living the dream to living week to week. I had to make other plans.
As I took on new work, planned new projects, my blogger side accidentally took a backseat as I navigated urgent jobs. Travel paused, and with it, the life I knew.
Routine, routine, routine
The other day I had a meeting with some offices in the Christchurch Airport. In my usual fashion, I was late. I’m one of those people. No matter how hard I try, I can never be on time. I found myself sprinting past the empty and dusty international check-in desks towards the cafe and couldn’t help but reflect at that moment about how much my life has changed in a year.
Frantically running through airports was my jam as a blogger for a decade! Not anymore!
Now my life is ruled by routine. I get up in the mornings and help my partner get his kids ready for school. Then, I go to work. Afterward, I come home and watch tv. And I barely get on planes anymore.
I flew up to Auckland for a houseplant event a month ago and pretty much fucked up the entire trip. I almost missed the flight. And I forgot my free coffee in the lounge. My bags were overweight. I had no-nos in my hand luggage. I sat in the wrong seat on the plane. Far out, my travel skills have gotten rusty!
A year after our lockdown and I’m only just starting to get itchy feet to travel again.
The other day I was walking to work in Lyttelton in the early autumn morning. I caught a whiff of a fireplace combined with the frosty harbor smells at sunrise, and I was immediately transported to memories from a time of travel in Egypt and the Middle East over a decade ago. The exotic smell shook loose a powerful memory hidden away, followed up but a sucker punch to the gut of just how much I love to travel and how much I miss it.
It stopped me in my tracks as I got lost in thought, the whispers of an old life flooding my brain. Isn’t it amazing how we can hold two completely separate truths within ourselves at the same time? To yearn to travel more than anything but also wanting to stay put more than anything?
While I want to travel again, I don’t have any plans in the works – except, of course, my trip I’m hosting to Antarctica in November. When I announced this trip six months ago (and invited you all to join me), the world was very different. I look forward to seeing where I end up as a blogger. And in the meantime, I’m happy to slow down and enjoy being where I am in the meantime.
New year new me
Even before COVID hit us, I was already slowing down my travels. I couldn’t keep up anymore. My body and mind were exhausted, and I was incredibly burnt out. The joy of experiencing new places and new cultures had fizzled out for me. Instead, overwhelmed by sheer anxiety, depression, and a desperate need for stability, I pivoted.
Yes, I said pivot, and I meant it.
In that grey fog of realizing that I couldn’t keep up my life the way I had been doing for a decade, somehow I fell in love with an old friend, Giulio Sturla. Isn’t life funny? I picked up my Wanaka life and moved to Lyttelton, just outside of Christchurch. In the span of a couple of less than a year, I went from single girl life to having a partner, a dog, two kids, and a new home in a new place. Oh, and starting an entirely new brick-and-mortar business too!
I’ll be the first to admit I jumped feet first without fully grasping the scope of how much I would change my life. But love conquers all, and with that in mind, we have been able to navigate all of the complexities, hardships, and untold stories to work towards building the life of our dreams.
Liz, a party of four (five if you count our puppy, Guapa)
I often roll over in bed in the morning, see Giulio by my side and secretly mumble “holy shit” to myself. I still cannot believe this is my life after years and years of loss, disappointment, and being alone.
In many ways, my whole life, I’ve been alone.
I didn’t grow up living with siblings, and I was very introverted, preferring books and animals as friends. As an adult, not much has changed. In fact, I built an entire career around SOLO travel. It doesn’t take a shrink to see my love of solitude manifesting in my relationship with an enigmatic chef with Italian roots and two kids.
The past year has very much been a journey of discovery, of me learning how to share, of learning to vocalize the decisions I make in my head, about thinking beyond just myself. I know that sounds dumb, but it’s true. And it’s fucking hard.
I was never one of those girls that dreamed of families, of babies, or even marriage. Instead, I dreamed of polar bears and adventure. I still do. The thought of having tiny humans depend on me was terrifying. And since I have never felt the itch of wanting to hold children of my own or even dated a man who I could see as a father meant I shelved the idea and forgot about it.
Before living with Giulio, I was 95% sure that kid life wasn’t for me. I used to say things off the cuff like, I will only have kids if I can afford a live-in nanny. Now, look at me! Two kids part-time, and I’m still fucking broke.
Again, isn’t life funny?
While it’s certainly more manageable (I’m learning to tell the difference between real, in-pain crying and it’s bedtime-and-I-don’t-wanna-go-to-bed crying), I can’t imagine ever going back to my life before. I will definitely be sharing more on this soon, as it’s a topic that sits in my mind all the time.
Mother of Plants
I feel like I’ve been living a double life this past year in a lot of ways. I’ve been walking the line between travel Young Adventuress Liz, the influencer and creative, and then my new life as the owner of a new-ish brand, NODE. And it’s pretty surreal when these two meet in the middle.
For almost a year, I’ve been utterly consumed by my new business, NODE, a designer houseplant space in Lyttelton.
Here we run workshops, sell cute plants, and even do interior design. It is so different from my travel life, and yet, AND YET, it’s not. All of my experiences have informed me, inspired me to tackle something so different. I built NODE entirely from all of my lessons of both travel and my work as a blogger.
Starting a physical, in-person business in the middle of a global pandemic is wild. Hell, starting an in-person business when you’re a blogger is crazy! Honestly, what was I thinking?
Originally NODE was meant to be a side hustle, a fun little project. Oh man, how did I grossly underestimate the work that would go into it? However, I’m fully along for the ride, and I’m enjoying every minute. You know, now that I have help and all.
As I type all these words, I’m struck mostly by the feeling of deep satisfaction that comes with writing. Sigh. I’ve missed you. Join me as I dust off my blogger self and step back into my biggest passion – storytelling.
Have you ever taking a hiatus from something you love? Can you relate to this feeling of time flying by? Share!!