A New Year, A New Outlook, and New Adventures

It's that time of year again. Exhausted travel bloggers everywhere are enjoying a week off, thanks to the relatively easy "Remember all the great stuff I did?" recap posts that are filling the inbox of blog subscribers across the globe. That's right... Here's another one.

This year's missive is going to be a little different because, well....I'm different. MJ has always said as much, however something tells me she means it another context. No, this won't be a photo essay or play-by-play analysis of the last 12 months, but instead a chance to share why 2013 was a turning point for this little website, and why I'm incredibly excited to welcome the new year.

Somewhere between early 2010 and the middle part of 2013, this hobby of mine turned into much more...it became a job. The hours were long and the pay was non-existent, but the perks...Ah yes, the perks - they were magnificent. I loved this job, and could have cared less that it occupied literally every available brain cell because, I mean, did you see the infinity pool at Kiawah Island?

Things were clicking along wonderfully here at The World of Deej, and 2013 was shaping up to be one heck of a year. Then I boarded the Oasis of the Seas, and everything changed.

After nearly two years of blogging, Instagramming, and Tweeting my way through the great hotels, restaurants, and golf resorts around the country, I decided that I needed to unplug. For seven days on the high seas, there was no laptop, no social media, no iPhone, just a point and shoot camera that was left in the room more often than not. That week was, in a word, glorious.

For weeks, maybe months, after we returned home, I tried to restart my engines but failed. Something had changed.


I know exactly when it happened: Sitting around the Chefs Table, laughing and exchanging stories with fourteen strangers turned fast friends thanks to copious amounts of wine and gourmet food. It wasn't until after the meal that I realized what had made it so special when compared to any of the outstanding meals I had this year, or any other year for that matter... Thanks to our location in the middle of the ocean, none of us had our nose in a smartphone...

You can see by the number of glasses, this was a great night...

In the weeks that followed, I couldn't help but ponder this epiphany. How many similar moments had passed me by because I was too busy sending a Tweet? How many punchlines to MJ's corny jokes had been missed, in favor of uploading a photo to Instagram? How many once in a lifetime moments had been stored in the memory of an iPhone instead of my own?

Too many.

My mom has always been a fan of the phrase "everything in moderation." There is definitely some truth to this wisdom, although I have always lobbied that donuts, wine, and great hotels are exempt.  From 2011 to the first half of this year, my entire life had basically become one big blog post. I jumped from one amazing trip to the next, rarely savoring the moments and destinations that had entered my life for perhaps the one and only time. Travel went from being a passion to a chase and it's one target that can never be caught.

And so, when compared to the sprinting pace of the last few years, I put this site on the back burner for the last half of 2013. Doing so allowed me to rediscover my previously lost sense of moderation, while also letting me to fully relish in the travel memories made during this time. The first sight of Lake Michigan on Whistling Straits, the laugh of my pajama wearing nephew in the lobby of the JW Marriott, the sparkle in my niece's eyes when she saw the penguins at Sea World, discussing life with my best friend while watching our alma mater on the gridiron in a hotel bar, and relishing an annual tradition with MJ at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival - all moments that in the past I might have taken for granted or missed altogether, now cherished memories once again.

There aren't enough positive adjectives to describe this day.

Dialing down my blog activities also gave me the opportunity to pursue a few personal goals. This week, after years of wanting to do so, I finally started volunteering with the local chapter of The First Tee - giving back to the game and community that has given me so much, by sharing my passion for golf with the next generation. I also recently started running again, which, as much as I hate to admit it, has become one of the bright spots of each week - just don't tell MJ.

Over the last few weeks, the travel bug - more specifically, the travel blogging bug - has slowly started to creep its way back in. With a newfound outlook and sense of balance, I couldn't be more excited for the adventures that lay ahead in 2014, starting with Las Vegas in just a few weeks. No doubt there are plenty of great installments to come here on The World of Deej. But if I'm lucky, there will be exponentially more entries made to the travel blog in my mind.

I'll see you in 2014. Happy New Year. And as always...

Enjoy Your Stay

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