In which I plant some trees, start from scratch and do a little housekeeping

by Marian Schembari on October 18, 2011


It’s been a little quiet around these parts lately, and while I can’t freaking stand when people apologize for a blogging absence, said absence does deserve an explanation.

You see, my travels in Australia led me to Queenstown, NZ, where I worked for almost three weeks on a farm in the middle of nowhere, planting native trees with three strangers (who were not, surprisingly, hippies).

20K outside of Queenstown I lost internet reception, and at the gate of the farm I lost my phone connection too. For three days I panicked about family not knowing I had safely arrived, my bosses not knowing I couldn’t work and anyone emailing not knowing I wouldn’t be getting back to them for three weeks.

And then I stopped panicking. I read ten books. I went to bed at 9:30pm. I worked with my hands for three weeks, learned everything there is to know about fertilizing new trees, developed guns of steel and lost 10 more pounds.

I was surrounded by the most beautiful mountains I’ve ever seen in my life. I wrote a minimum of 5,000 words per day. I woke up to this view every morning:

And then I decided to give Auckland another chance. My trip was coming to an end (how the hell did that happen?) and while the only thing waiting for me in Auckland was a job, it is the BEST job. A job that makes me crazy happy with people who – though I’ll never admit it to their faces – are pretty spectacular.

And for awhile there I thought about going home – tail between my legs – and starting from scratch. Again.

Thing is though, as unhappy as I’ve been in New Zealand, I started realizing that I never gave it a proper chance. And while this blog may not be the most appropriate platform to talk about the extensive list of my personal failures, I try not to be a quitter. I love adventure! And challenge! So I’m staying in Auckland. And while I came here with a decent-sized support network, I’m on my own again. I have a whopping two American friends and coworkers I spend 95% of my life with. So far so good.

So that’s the life update. And while I do intend to return to your regularly scheduled programming, I do like to write about things other than social media, and with the return to my day job, it’s not the first thing I want to deal with when I get home. And there’s the rub. The “authentic” part of my blog isn’t particularly thrilling.

I’m not entirely sure the direction I want to take this site, but I do want to take it. Somewhere. It’s been a huge part of my life for over 2 years and it’s taken me to some incredible places and opened up some even more incredible opportunities. So DO be aware that it might change direction. No set plan as of right now, but I will write about what I want to write about, Analytics be damned.

However, I’d like to know what you want to read. Any burning questions? Personal or professional – shoot.

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  • Sarah Pearson

    No burning questions here, just an observation that I like to read non-writing stuff on a writer’s blog. I’m interested in people generally, especially those with a different way of life to mine :-)

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      I like the way you think…

  • http://blog.dianeshipley.com diane shipley

    Honestly, amid all the advice and analytics, all I really want to hear are people’s stories. And not the “everything’s rosy, look at my wonderful life” version, either. So thank you for sharing, and I hope you’ll keep doing so. I’d like to know more about the changes you’ve been through and what’s been going on, but only as much as you’re comfortable with, obviously. I’m sad to hear you don’t have the support structure you once did, but you have been really adventurous and brave, so even if you did go home now there’d be no “tail between the legs” about it.

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      I’m with on you hearing people’s stories, which is why I’m confused as to why I’m so hesitant to share mine. Maybe because despite everything, it’s still be drilled into my head not to overshare online, or worry about other people reading. After 2 years I’m still trying to find the balance.

      Your words are incredibly sweet though and they’ve definitely put a smile on this girl’s face.

      • http://blog.dianeshipley.com diane shipley

        Aw, well I’m glad to hear it. :) And I know what you mean about that balance. I shy away from sharing certain things, too. But often they’re the things that get the best response. Of course, then they’re “out there” forever, so I definitely understand your hesitation.

  • http://www.jargonwriter.com Melissa Breau

    Um, I for one would like to hear more about the trip, and have no problem with following your direction where ever it goes. I didn’t start reading your blog for the social media stuff (actually, i don’t remember how I first found you…) but I stuck around because you write with spunk and are fun… you’re doing a lot of stuff that takes a lot of balls to do and you do it in style ;-)

    It was at least partly due to your awesomeness that I got up the guts to leave my FT job for SC, Freelancing and being closer to the boy. 

    Basically, even though you’ve talked about social media, it’s really the *way* you talk about it (and everything else in your life) that’s kept me around. So while Im sad to hear that you feel like you’re back to square one (you’re totally NOT by the way—cheesey as it sounds, look at how much you’ve learned), I take no issue to a change of pace or subject. 

    And I’m VERY glad to hear you’re enjoying life. And totally jealous that you got to go spend all that time on a farm. That’s freaking AWESOME (how’d you find out ab that opp?) 

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      I’ve been wanting to write more about it, but am freaking out about annoying people. Though, I supposed I don’t really want readers that would jump ship because of a few travel posts. So trip it is!

      Thanks for all the compliments, you are a total star :)

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      p.s. I got the farming gig through WWOOFing. Willing Workers on Organic Farms. It’s a worldwide nonprofit that places you on farms and you work in exchange for food and accom. Have only done it this one time but I’m already ready to do it again! Heard there are some great places to do it in the States too!

  • http://alexisgrant.com Alexis Grant

    Girl, you don’t have to talk about social media to keep my attention! I follow your blog because I LIKE you and I want to know what you’re up to — and you don’t tell us about walking your cat, you tell us about interesting stuff that’s going on. This post reminded me how much I love unplugging when I can get myself to do it, and how much reflection that can prompt. Keep blogging about figuring out where you want life to take you, and we’ll keep reading :)

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      And this is why we’re friends :)

      As for walking my cat, how did you know that was going to be the brand new direction of the blog?

  • http://parisianfeline.wordpress.com tatiana

    Wait – I thought you had a boyfriend back in Auckland? What happened with that? Did you guys break up?!

    Also – I think staying on a farm and just working and writing is pretty awesome. I’m glad that the disconnect from technology didn’t tear you completely asunder. It can definitely feel like the end of the world when you don’t have access to internet or other people via technology. :D

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      I did. Past tense, unfortunately.

      And the farm WAS awesome! Was nice to just “kick back” – work with my hands all day, get creative stuff done at night and just chill.

  • http://twitter.com/marianschembari/status/126285863150813184 Marian Schembari

    In which I plant some trees, start from scratch and do a little housekeeping http://t.co/LIkD2wNP

  • http://carolinebookbinder.blogspot.com/ Carin Siegfried

    I want to hear about what the 10 books were. Also, the Freakonomics guys just posted a podcast about 2 weeks ago about the Upside of Quitting. They say it’s an excellent idea, so don’t rule it out completely. That said, I totally get you and I think that’s why I stayed at my last 2 jobs too long. And it still bugs me that leaving NYC makes me feel a bit like a loser. But you can also do what I did and you don’t have to go home – there are a gazillion other places! I picked a city near enough to home, but also far enough away. That said, NZ (and OZ) have a lot of awesome things so I do support giving it another chance. 

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      I can do books! I love books ;-)

      No need to quit though, I really do love my job. The people are amazing, the work is interesting. I really, really lucked out on this front. Even it if IS the only front in which I’m still doing well ;-)

  • Louise

    I too love people’s stories most of all. I don’t care that much about social media (I don’t even have a twitter account); what I love in your blog is YOU, and I do read the social media stuff but only because of the personal stories that come through them. 
    I don’t think there is anything personal you could ever talk about that would bore me! Quite the contrary… And I have “started over” from scratch so many times in my life, I love to read about other people doing it too.

    Much love dear Marian! 

    • Louise

      Oh, I wanted to add– your blog is the one blog I read that most makes me want to have a blog of my own. I’ve tried, several times; at one point I had one that lasted an entire 10 months and in which I wrote often (I was travelling to India and Nepal for the first time back then); but each time, it is that tricky question of “how personal should I be? how much should I reveal?” that causes my downfall… 
      Right now, though, reading you makes me want to try my hand at another blog… 

      • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

        Awwww, yay! Thanks for both your comments.

  • http://www.butterflycopywriting.com Lucy Smith

    I think you should write when the mood strikes, and write whatever the hell you feel like. Screw Analytics, screw the people who only come wanting free social media advice. I LOVE hearing about your travels and other stuff – I’m sure I’ve said before that I think you’re one of the most interesting people I know.

    Much power to you :-)

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      I like the way you think!

  • http://www.domesticsluttery.com Sian

    You’re incredibly brave.

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Thanks Sian. Doesn’t feel that way 99% of the time.

  • Laura Melanson

    So glad to hear things are going well for you and that you found some clarity while you were gone. The time spent tree planting sounds awesome! I love personal updates every now and then, for sure! We want to know how you’re doing, so continue to keep us posted. Sending you love & luck! 

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Thanks Laura! The tree planting WAS awesome. Think it’s important to take some time off from the real world. Not just on holiday, but doing something completely different.

  • http://sleve.wordpress.com/ Steve LeBlanc

    I don’t mean to be morbid, but I’d like to hear more about your failings. You are certainly strong enough to present them with grace and give us the courage to meet our own. I also struggle with the issue of how much to reveal of personal issues. Frankly my life is pretty boring. The posts I  most want to write are pretty heady stuff. Which can turn off readers. So I’d like to hear more about how personal to get on a blog and finding your perfect voice. I so want to post more than I do. But perfectionism and other challenges hold me back. But like the others here, I just like you and your voice. I’m more than able to skip those posts that don’t ring for me that day, without holding it against you. Blog on. I love how easy you make it for others to support you. 

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      I’m down with failings. I have ZERO problems talking about where I went wrong – not morbid at all!

      This is a really great comment Steve, mostly because you know how to make a girl proud of herself :)

  • http://twitter.com/arthurpdent42/status/126395704301203456 Sean M

    RT @MarianSchembari: In which I plant some trees, start from scratch and do a little housekeeping http://t.co/2U1zmY24

  • http://twitter.com/sleveo/status/126439100852084736 Steve LeBlanc

    Hey @MarianSchembari writes about finding her blogging voice: http://t.co/hb0CyhnA And I commented.

  • http://michellebizon.wordpress.com/ Michelle Bizon

    Hi, hun! Long time, no talk. I’m happy to see you back on the Internet! Figuring out your head space is quite the challenge sometimes, so kudos to you for being committed to self-awareness! I just wanted to stop by and offer my support as you embark on these new journeys, regardless of the direction in which your blog goes. While I certainly admire your social media prowess, I love hearing about your travels and perspectives on life. You have such a definitive style to your writing — something that just screams Marian — and I’m excited to see what you continue to post. This is your little corner of the Internet, so do what feels best to you!

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Thanks Michelle! It’s nice to be back, despite my rather relaxing hiatus ;-)

      Seems like I totally have the go ahead to write about some personal stuff and traveling which, to be honest, is all I really want to write right now so am glad for the support!

  • Roger Billings

    Perhaps it is your willingness to take the plunge and write about it that is compelling. So changes in direction will keep me coming back.

    And I was wondering, 5000 words a day on tree planting? social media? hippies? I know rough drafts should be kept under wraps but for the curious hints are welcome.

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      5,000 words per day on….. lots of things. No big project I’m working on or anything. Mostly journal entries, figuring out what the hell I’m doing with my life, tree planting, etc. Sorry, not as exciting as you’d hoped ;-)

  • Anonymous

    About not being a quitter and leaving Auckland with your tail between your legs….

    I don’t know you nor do I know if you should/shouldn’t be living in Auckland. But I’m (well my husband and I) struggling with a similar challenge here in Vermont – is this where we should be? I don’t have the answer. Some days I’m convinced it is. But not most days. Anyhoo….I think our paths take us many places, some of them may not be where we’re supposed to be. And figuring it out is HARD. IF it turns out that Auckland isn’t where you supposed to leave it doesn’t necessarily make you a quitter. You probably already knew that but I just felt it needed to be said :)

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      I love this. I’m starting to find that many people don’t feel like they’re geographically where they’re “supposed” to be. This makes me feel better – especially because you don’t know me :)

      Thanks for the encouragement.

  • http://chillinwithmcmillan.com Thomas McMillan Jr.

    Good hearing from you again…i must admit this tree planting shindig sounds like it was a blast (and rewarding).  The view wasn’t so bad either.  I hope Auckland can handle Marian in round 2.  Glad you do like your job there…that’s always helpful.  Good luck. 

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      It was a blast! If you haven’t tried WWOOFing and like the outdoors, I highly recommend it.

  • http://www.camilledeangelis.com/blog Camille

    Proving your resilience feels pretty awesome, eh? I am so thrilled that you got to have that experience—a period of fresh air and manual labor (especially when you’re doing something so environmentally friendly) really can be life-changing…not to mention great for building upper body strength.  :}

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Camille! YOU are the reason I had even heard of WWOOFing in the first place! So I seriously have you to thank for getting out there and working with my hands. It was an amazing experience.

  • http://www.turtleduckpress.com Siri Paulson

    I think we tell ourselves stories about success and finding ourselves and what to expect from extended travel, and if that doesn’t happen, it really can feel like going home with our tails between our legs. A number of years ago I went to Ireland on a work exchange program. I was going to stay for a year, it was going to be my big life-changing experience like in the movies.

    And then…I couldn’t find a job for whatever reason and had to come home three months later, having blown most of my savings. That wasn’t how that story was supposed to go! Took me a long time to get over that. But going home early did lead to my being in another city at the right time to get hired for a job that I’m still in today. While it’s not perfect, it is a pretty good match and provides security while I pursue other dreams. Oh, and it provides the option for a paid sabbatical…so a little over a year from now, I’m going to spend three months travelling across Asia while still drawing a salary. :-)

    Um. All of which is not to say you should go home. Just be open to looking past the story you’re telling itself — which it sounds like is exactly what you’re doing. Kudos!

    Oh, and add me to the chorus who would happily read your posts on travel (obviously!) or other things not related to social media.

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      I LOVE this Siri. LOVE LOVE LOVE. When you go abroad or move somewhere on your own or start something big and exciting you put these expectations on yourself and on what the experience is supposed to be like. So often when I “fail” somewhere I find myself wanting to start from scratch somewhere else because there’s this ideal of travel and new experience. When sometimes they just don’t work out how you want them to.

      I loved reading about your Ireland story. I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you, but something I’m learning is that if it always worked out and was easy and fun without challenges then we wouldn’t grow. And 6 months or a year from now I’ll look back on my time in Auckland and see it as a success because I’ve changed and grown and (hopefully) come out the other end a stronger person.

      • http://www.turtleduckpress.com Siri Paulson

        I’m glad it resonated with you! I should add that even though I failed at finding a job there, I did get to spend three months in a gorgeous country full of history, and was able to travel around and see a fair amount of it before I went home, along with meeting some interesting fellow hostellers from around the world. So the trip wasn’t a total loss, even if what I got out of it was not what I expected to.

  • Lori Ames

    Marian, always like reading your blog posts and seeing what you’re up to.  You are so brave and adventurous and fearless.  As Rob and I found out this past year, you never ever know what can happen.  Our lives turned around in a split second, we could have cried and given up, and yet, things are looking up because we forged ahead with a stubborn determination. You do that all the time, and I admire that so much.

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Wow, thanks Lori. That means a heck of a lot coming from you. (And am SUPER glad that Rob seems to be kicking some ass!)

  • http://www.chickybus.com Lisa @chickybus

    I love your site–always have and always will. I think you are the Kung Fu master! :) I wonder if it might make sense–if you’re going to do a lot of personal posts that aren’t connected to the business side–to redesign your homepage to have 2 sections. Then those who want strictly business posts can find them right away. Just a thought.

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Actually, I totally considered that. My only issue is a) I’m too lazy to figure out how to do it and b) I’ve seen blogs that do that and the tabs that get pushed to the back are always the least read. And if I’m going to put some time into a post, I want to make sure it gets out to everyone, not just those who forget to click that area. Not sure articulate, but yeah. It’s still on my list of things to consider though!

  • Pingback: The 8 Books I Read in Queenstown (some you should read, some you should burn) — Marian Schembari

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