For more than 12 years, my days were all about meeting the requests, and sometimes demands, of others. As a communications advisor to governments, I worked for up to 18 hours a day, six, or sometimes seven, days a week. It was a far cry from my background in visual communications.
But my creative spirit eventually screamed loud enough to be heard. I wanted to look at different landscapes and see beauty. I wanted to be able to enjoy lunch for more than 15 minutes and not have a meeting, email, or media call nagging at me. I wanted to breathe again. And that’s what I’ve done.
I now earn my living from photography and blogging…and all the opportunities that come from them. Through blogging, I get to experience new places, exquisite local foods, and meet lots of great people along the way.
Four years ago, I moved to Florence and in that time I’ve had the chance to explore much of Tuscany and beyond. In Florence, I know the corners to take when I wander the streets during the busy summer season, as well as the best places to enjoy a hot chocolate in winter.
I’ve strolled through the Tuscan hilltop towns of Cortona and Arezzo, relaxed in the natural hot springs of Bagno Vignoni, and sailed along the Liguria coast and the Cinque Terre. Lakes Como, Maggiore, and Orta each have cafés I love and ferries I frequently take. I’ve rambled through the laneways of Venice, hopped on the vaporetta (Venetian water transport), and navigated the Italian train network like a local.
And it all started will my decision to change paths.
I’ve built my business up over time. Some travel bloggers have incredible energy and make great connections, pushing open doors, and dealing with challenges. I chose a gentler approach, allowing myself to settle slowly into a new country, while fully absorbing the culture…and it’s paying off.
When I began, I knew I needed to dramatically change my writing style. So I started with reviews on TripAdvisor and Facebook. Using social media channels forced me to think of places differently: to see them, to experience them, and to listen to the stories of the people who worked in them and visited them. Social media can teach you a lot about why people chose certain places, and what factors play a role in their decision.
By re-learning how to tell a story, my confidence grew to blog more, and blogging more gave me the confidence to pitch story ideas to editors. Like all things, it was a wandering path, and is a wonderful journey.
Not only am I now blogging and getting more invites to write about my travels, I’m also in the position where I can begin to diversify. The outlines for three books swim in my head and are starting to take shape on my computer, and I’m building towards a photo exhibition in the next 12 months, with my stories on display beside them.
Importantly, I’m doing things I truly love—meeting people where they live, learning about their culture, tasting their favorite foods, and now creating more opportunities to share these experiences with others.
Now I spend my time working from home in the countryside near Florence, or meeting a friend for coffee in the city. Each week I’ll write for a few hours for two or three days, head out with my camera to catch the morning or sunset light, or visit a nearby cooking school to help with their marketing. But most importantly…each day I feel a little more “me.”
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