Two December’s ago, I finally took my friend Paul’s lead and spent the month offline. I checked Instagram occasionally, but the blog, Twitter, etc. all went quiet. Not surprisingly, I can still remember moments from that month vividly. Without the distractions of needing to keep up with what was happening on the internet, I made memories with people in real life. Baking days with friends, playing with the dogs, relocating to Squamish, walking through heavy snow, going up the gondola with my mom and brother. That’s not to say it was all simple and peaceful (the holidays rarely are, at least not entirely). But I remember it.

I don’t remember last December. Actually, the one memory that sticks out is breaking down crying and calling Anthony from the floor of my living room. I eventually laughed at how ridiculous the situation would look to an outsider (grown woman laying on her rug sobbing). But that’s what I remember. I was neck-deep in book launch tasks and had no idea what I was doing. Being my first book, it was completely foreign territory. I couldn’t see where the task trail was going to lead me, but I was running down it at an uncomfortable pace. It didn’t feel good, and it wasn’t sustainable. Unfortunately, because that’s the pace I set, I felt like I had to keep it up—and did so for five full months.

You know how the rest of this story goes. After doing more than 100 interviews in the first four months of the year, I took May and June off to travel and spend some time with myself. Then I took the summer off to properly sit still, think, and begin to process what happened in the first half of the year. In that time, I decided to stop blogging altogether, and opted to write a newsletter instead. My original intention was to write this weekly, but I missed a few here and there while travelling, and have no guilt or regrets about that. I wrote what felt good, when it felt good. And right now, I feel more like myself than ever for one simple reason: I changed the rules.

I didn’t change the rules for everyone, but I changed the rules for myself. The rules about what I thought a blogger was supposed to do after writing a book. The rules about what I thought a first-time author was supposed to do before/after its release. The rules about what I thought I was supposed to do next. And currently, I’m changing all kinds of rules about how I’m living my life. It hasn’t been easy (as you know from my stories, but more importantly from your own). It’s hard to change stories you’ve been told, and stories you’ve told yourself, about who/what/when/where/why/how we live this life. But there’s one thing I keep telling myself that makes it a little easier.

This thing we’re doing? Living, working, challenging ourselves, etc. It’s all an adventure. Despite the fact that it feels like we are living in a time where everything is right/wrong, there is actually no right/wrong way to do this stuff. We have to try new things and learn, and take new trails and see where it all goes. More simply put: we have to be open and considerate—of ourselves and others. Sometimes that means starting down one path and realizing it’s the wrong one for you. That’s ok. With every step you take, you’ll find new paths open up. And no matter which path you take next, you’ll never be able to see the outcome. Just stick to a pace that feels good and you’ll find your way.

As you begin to think about what your goals or intentions might be for the rest of 2018 or early 2019, remember that you’re in control. You can change the pace or the rules to meet you or your family’s needs. If you do what feels good for you and those around you, there’s really no way you can go wrong. Again, you may not feel certain of that at the beginning. But eventually, you’ll find you have a personal map of your life and experiences. It’s only after you’ve taken steps forward, though, that you can look back and connect the dots to see where you came from. So don’t be afraid to take that first step. It’s the hardest one to take, but it’s also the closest.

Thank you for joining me for this season of the newsletter. I’ll be taking December off to travel a bit, spend time with friends and family, and think about what I want the future of the newsletter to look like.

Before signing off, I want to share quotes from two of the most meaningful pieces of content I’ve read this year. First, on the topic of consuming . . .

“While choice is infinite, our lives have time spans. We can’t live every life. We can’t watch every film or read every book or visit every single place on this sweet earth. Rather than being blocked by it, we need to edit the choice in front of us. We need to find out what is good for us, and leave the rest. We don’t need another world. Everything we need is here, if we give up thinking we need everything.” – Matt Haig, from my favourite book of 2018: Notes on a Nervous Planet

And on the topics of both consuming and creating . . .

“We are porous, highly susceptible creatures whose words and actions are affecting each other constantly. We’re taking cues from each other in every moment about who and how to be. The consequences of this are pretty massive. Everything is contagious. Every word, every action, every tweet, every Facebook post is a contribution to the collective. Every encounter affects us in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, and then that affects our next encounter, and our next, and so on and so on. We are wildly underestimating the impact we have on those around us. Those of us who are visible—and by that I really mean all of us—have a beautiful and holy opportunity. We can be contagiously good.” – Josh Radnor <3

That’s all for now, friend. Be kind, be safe and have a beautiful month! I’ll see you back here in 2019.


Posted by Jay Spira

Jay Spira is the founder and managing editor of Sharp & Healthy. He has co-authored NT Times bestseller Slow Food, Fast Results. Jay has been featured in Forbes, Inc. and Entrepreneur, and has received an undergraduate degree in the field of business management from the University of Pennsylvania.