Also resurfacing: a sea turtle we saw in Mexico!

Happy New Year! I’m very behind with updates to this blog. I was traveling with my family over the new year (Mexico!) and am also busy writing a new novel, which I plan to hand over to my editor in just a few weeks. Between those two things, I have unplugged from the internet a bit. I’ll be coming up for air and updating this blog sporadically between now and mid-February.

Meanwhile, you can find me over at my mystery blog, Sleuths Spies & Alibis. Exciting things are happening there. We’ve nearly doubled our size, adding five outstanding mystery and thriller writers who have books coming out this year or next year, AND we have expanded our blog topic to include thrillers. Drop by and meet our fresh blood bloggers! And if you’re a writer with a new year’s resolution of getting more words written, check out my post there, up today, on demystifying the writing process.

Snorkeling cove!

As it turns out, the BEST thing I have done for my writing process lately is to take a break. I took an ENTIRE WEEK off from any kind of work while I was in Mexico. Let me say that again: AN ENTIRE WEEK off from work. You guys, I have never done this. I am notorious for running off to check email, or spending some time writing to meet a deadline (for a novel or for freelance work that I do). Or I schedule trips around conferences or book promotion, which are really not vacations. Or I become desperate to see everything within a 100-mile radius, so I run around trying to take it all in, and burn myself out. Relax? Recreate? Those were completely foreign words to me.

My husband chose this destination — it was his turn — and he was adamant about going to a place where we could all unplug. The Mayan Riviera had guaranteed good weather, and it was a child-friendly place to take our kindergartener son. This was a perfect destination for us at this time in our lives. It was not until I was sprawled out on a beach, gazing at blue sky, hearing nothing but waves, that I realized how hard I had worked in 2012, and how much I needed a break.

We did manage to seek out some adventures. We climbed Mayan ruins. We swam in rivers, natural pools, and the sea. We went to an eco park called Xcaret, hiked jungle paths, saw animals, and visited an outstanding coral reef aquarium. But adventures, directed largely by our five-year-old’s stamina, were manageable.

Coral reef aquarium at the edge of a jungle

It was incredibly refreshing to be away from a computer for awhile. I highly recommend a periodic unplugging from electronic devices — and you don’t even have to go to Mexico to do this! When I wasn’t staring at a screen every day, or checking in with various social media accounts all the time, my mind felt sharper. I had more room for my own thoughts. I was alert and energized. I became more attuned to small yet fascinating things, like the shape of a cloud that looked like a palm frond, or the warmth of sand beneath my feet, or the glint of blue, reflected off water, on the underside of seagulls’ wings. I became more present for my husband and son. I think I even laughed more.

My one new year’s resolution for 2013 is to be more present in the world, more alert, more aware. What about you? How do you balance the internet world with your real life? What do you do to “unplug” and how often do you resurface?

My little guy, surrounded by jellyfish