What I Did on My Summer Vacation

You might have realized I haven’t been here in a while. That’s because I’ve been everywhere else.

I spent my summer doing deeply meaningful client projects and traveling the world sharing my passion for making people’s lives better. I met a ton of interesting new people along the way — people who inspired me to keep going, to consider new perspectives, and to enjoy the best that life has to offer.

Despite it being the densest period of travel, speaking engagements, and deadlines I’ve ever had, it was also one of the most relaxing. How can that be possible? Because I eliminated a lot of the miscellaneous obligations that had been dragging me down for a long time. I’m more focused than I’ve ever been. I’m doing only what’s important to me personally and to my business, and nothing superfluous. I’m enjoying my weekends, spending more time with friends, taking time to smell the proverbial roses, and taking much better care of myself.

I had a string of recurring sinus infections in the spring that seemed incurable, and I knew I needed to give myself a break. I was on the brink of burning out. While I didn’t reduce my travel or my workload, I gave myself the permission to ignore everything else: emails, meeting requests, writing gigs, volunteering, and most of all, this blog.

Not writing for the last three months has been incredibly difficult. Writing is how I express myself best and has been such a powerful tool of growth over the course of my life. But it also takes a lot out of me, mentally and emotionally. “If you love something, let it go.” That became my mantra this summer, and I’m happy to say with absolute confidence that I am now back and better than ever.

This summer brought several important milestones: the 6th anniversary of my LLC (August 3), the 3rd anniversary of my self-employement (August 22), and the last year of my 20s (July 11).

I spent my birthday in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island on a solo weeklong tech-free vacation that I had been dreaming about for years. I ate the most delicious mussels, oysters, lobster and scallops I’d ever eaten, three meals a day for seven days and I still wanted more. I walked around the Fortress of Louisbourg where the French tried (unsuccessfully) to fight off the British. I rode the muddy waters of the world’s largest tidal bore in a three-propeller raft along the Shubenacadie River with six strangers (four were there for a bachelor party adventure). I celebrated the end of lobster season at the annual Pictou Lobster Carnival (population 2000, one of whom told me that this is the *only* thing that happens in the town all year). I saw the area that inspired Anne of Green Gables (a series I’ve never actually read) whose rolling hills really are remarkably green enough to be named after. I learned how whiskey is made (and drank some!) at Nova Scotia’s only single malt distillery, designed to the exact specifications of namesake Scotland. I spent an hour watching local kids jump off a bridge into the inlet below, then swim up to the rocks, climb back up to the bridge, and do it all over again (I wanted to join them, but couldn’t work up the courage). I swayed to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band who came all the way from New Orleans to play at the Halifax Jazz Festival under a large tent on the waterfront. I went to a tweetup with the web designers of Halifax who explained Nova Scotian customs and insisted I eat a donair (I did). I spent my birthday morning on the boulders of Peggy’s Cove (red lighthouse behind me, Atlantic waves crashing in front of me, hopping from rock to rock in my flip flops, trying not to fall), my birthday afternoon walking through the storybook town of Lunenberg (a UNESCO World Heritage site preserved from the late 1700s), and my birthday evening eating an unforgettable farm-to-table five-course meal in an old converted home owned by a local couple. When it was all said and done, I had driven more than 2500 kilometers (1500 miles), exceeded all my expectations, and didn’t miss my laptop, my iPad or even my phone one eensy teensy bit.

I had a few very important revelations while I was on vacation and I’m in the process of making the necessary changes to my life in order to be closer to the person I want to be. Among them is taking much better care of my health (I always thought I had been, but I was ignoring one major part). If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably noticed by now that I’ve been tweeting what I eat along with the #4HB hashtag (which stands for 4 Hour Body, a book by Tim Ferriss). Call it a diet, call it an eating plan, whatever you want to call it, I’m in control of my body for the first time in my life and I feel amazing. I’ll go into all that in another post soon.

As for where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing, here’s the full itinerary starting June 1:

Vancouver, Canada

Interlink Conference
Design Principles: The Philosophy of UX

Sebastopol, CA

Foo Camp

Florence, Italy

Frontiers of Interaction ’11
When I Speak My Mind

Atlanta, GA

UPA International
Design Principles: The Philosophy of UX
Evangelizing Yourself

Atlanta Web Design Group
Design Principles: The Philosophy of UX

Nova Scotia, Canada


Philadelphia, PA

Wharton Web Conference
Design Principles: The Philosophy of UX

Miami, FL

Client work

Atlanta, GA

Client work

Burlington, VT

Client work

Tel Aviv, Israel

UX Israel Live 2011
Design Principles: The Philosophy of UX
Creating a Culture of UX

(Of course this doesn’t count 2011 prior to June when I was in Boulder, San Francisco, Austin, LA, San Diego, Denver, Portland, Boston, and Burlington)

I feel so blessed to be invited to speak around the world — it really blows my mind — and to have such wonderful and widespread clients. It’s an honor and a privilege. I’ll go into more detail on each of these in subsequent posts. I AM BACK! And I’m so happy to be here. I can’t wait to share more about what I’ve been doing and what big changes are just around the bend.

Won’t you come along with me?

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  1. Martha Orloci says

    Hey Whitney,
    I am glad you had a good summer – I hope my gf was able to give you good tips for Nova Scotia. I am pleased that you have taken time to focus your efforts. Perhaps now you know where I was coming from when I worte you that letter several years ago.
    As much as we try, we cannot be everything to everyone, all the time.


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