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The Hardest Lesson I Learned in 2011


giant mango bowenAbout a year ago, I made a prediction that 2011 would be the year of the Brooke. I felt all powerful and fuzzy inside writing that little post, and it wasn’t long into the year that I thought my prediction just might be true.

Energy was oozing from my fingertips as all my projects were kicking into high gear. I started my daily post and photo project on Brooke vs. the World, and that quickly brought in commenters and readers I didn’t know were following along.

I started the Brooke vs. the World Facebook page (yep, only a year old now) and that had a fair few “likers” from the get-go. The Female Travel Underground newsletter was making its mark with great newsletter topics like “Love & Boys on the Road“, and the Her Packing List website I created launched officially to the public.

brooke bloggingIn the midst of this excitement, I got signed on for a twice weekly blog gig at An article I wrote was featured in the US Airways Magazine, I managed to get published on AOL Travel and I also got a guest post up on

And, let’s not forget I was still working hard on creating content for WhyGo Australia, updating that Twitter account and trying hard to also grow that Facebook page.

My travel life was shaping up quite nicely, too.

raging thunder balloon group

I managed to be whisked away by train to Perth, by plane to Malaysia and the USA and further on to Queensland (read about my 2011 travels to get the full story).

There were extra little projects here and there, like a contest or two, a thrifty travel ebook and a no speak language guide, that took up more time and energy than I had in me.

I think you can imagine that all the time spent working on all these things throughout the year caused a bit of stress, even in my relationship. These tasks are time-consuming, and all provide very little money in return. Then one day…

I cracked, slightly.

brooke sad

Sad face.

I think it was when I wrote this post. Not only was I tired of trying to keep myself on top of a thousand and one duties and a daily post/photo project, but I also found out that the writers platform for WhyGo Oz would be ending. I felt so LOST. Now what was I working towards?

So, I stopped worrying about the daily photo posts, but after a short calm patch, I made more goals, piled more things on, and made lists of all the things that need to be done. Too many ideas. I’ve started writing now twice a month for the BBC travel blog, and I have another writing gig that’s about to start in the New Year. I’m putting together some super-huge-gigantoid travels starting in April, and guess what…

I’m feeling the stress again.

I sit on the computer for hours on end and can feel the stress sitting in my chest as my mind races from site to site — from idea to idea. I am a person cursed with too many wants for one individual to manage.

Although I often let my mind graze across this thought from time to time, the one real lesson I have had the most trouble fully learning and understanding is this:

I am one person.

More importantly, I am one person, and I need to make changes to make this whole blogging thing work. While my dream is to get Pat on board so we can be a travel team (I envy travel teams like no other), I don’t see that really happening (but who knows!).

pat and brooke airport

Will we ever be a travel team?

What I’m Planning for 2012:

  • My focus is going to be put back on Brooke vs. the World. This is going to be the main site that I work on growing during 2012.
  • Still, I like to have a source of steady income, so I will also be keeping a focus on a few gigs with other publications.
  • Everything else… delegate.

Delegation is the hardest part.

When it comes to some of my smaller projects, like Her Packing List and the Female Travel Underground, I sometimes… no always…. lack the time. But they are still really awesome projects that I believe in and I believe that people enjoy, so I want them to continue. The goal of this year is to make these projects run on a more self-subsisting level.

brooke and heather in cooktown

Hanging with Heather in Cooktown.

HPL: I hired Heather Rudd of There’s No Place Like Oz a few months back as a writer for Her Packing List, and I’m happy to say that we’re continuing that relationship in 2012. With the money I am going to be receiving each month from a longer term sponsor on that site, I will also be bringing on a second paid writer (stay tuned for that announcement)!

FTU: The Female Travel Underground newsletter has always been about the community given the fact it is a digest of female travel stories and tips. Starting this year, I will be handing over the reigns each month to a traveling female that would like to curate the month’s topic. What this means is that instead of my voice telling the stories and adding in little bits of banter here and there, it could be YOURS.

I’ll be doing January, and March has already been snatched up, but do have a look at the tentative schedule and let me know if you’d like the awesome job of curating one of the other topics this year.

BvtW: After years of telling people that I don’t accept guest posts, I have decided to accept guest posts on Brooke vs. the World! However, I will only be accepting those posts for the Thrifty Thursday category as other people’s thrifty tips could be a useful addition to the site. Do you have an amazing thrifty/resourceful/budget travel story to share (like how you traveled for a month on $1000), then get in touch.

harley trike

I did this. I'm badass, but still not Superwoman.

No, I’m not Superwoman (damn it), and I can’t do everything without killing myself.

Spreading yourself thin is not the way to go.

That has been the hardest lesson to learn this year.


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19 Responses to The Hardest Lesson I Learned in 2011

  1. Jade - December 29, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

    holy &*^%!! How did you manage to do all that? James and i both work on our ONE blog and I work full time and we barely manage to keep up with it all! I am totally in awe of your time management techniques! I am also in awe of some of those writing gigs you got! Especially with BBC! I am taking the matador course at the moment, and once that is finished I really want to get my writing past the blogosphere and into the online magazine sphere. Well lets hope! I will probably be contacting you in the near future about the HPL among other things though. 🙂

    • Brooke January 3, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

      Haha, I wish I had better time management 🙂 It’s a work in progress. Good luck with all your writing work!

  2. inspiredworlds December 29, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    hey brooke, I know the feeling of trying to do too much. And I can see you’ve done a lot of things in the past year!

    For me next year, I’m in a similar boat and just need to concentrate on a few things and just do them well.

    • Brooke January 3, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

      Ha, yes, I’ve read your post! Big year for you!

  3. Hannah Loveplaywork December 29, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    Sounds like you are doing really well, but it IS a lot and you are bound to have times where you come a bit unstuck. I seem to go all out for a few months then grind to a halt, it scared me to start with but I’m learning that it must just be what I need so go with it. With regards to having a ‘travel team’, it will happen, even if you don’t see how just now. I could not see at all how Chris and I could do it then it just all came clear….and we’ve been working/ travelling for 4 years now. It is the best.

    • Brooke January 3, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

      Always good to hear that others feel the same 🙂 Would love to be a travel team… we’ll see. Congrats to you and your partner for making it all happen!

  4. Bohemian Trails December 30, 2011 at 3:44 am #

    oh my you have been a busy bee! I’m making a ton of goals for 2012 so hopefully I’ll accomplish most or all of them! I also envy traveling couples 🙂

    • Brooke January 4, 2012 at 9:56 am #

      Traveling couples make me sooooooo jealous 😉 I’m 75% of the way there I think (I have talked my bf into a rather large trip starting in April), so who knows. Good luck on the 2012 goals!!!

  5. bethany December 30, 2011 at 4:06 am #

    Damn. I feel you. Randy and I have been so burnt out the past couple of weeks I am having a hard time motivating to get work done! It’s driving me nuts because i want to be all energized and super motivated and right now I’m just not… blah… 🙁

    • Brooke January 4, 2012 at 9:42 am #

      It’s so hard to set boundaries for work when you are self-employed. I think this is part of the reason we get so burnt out. Can I schedule myself for 9-6 and have Sundays off? I don’t know. I always feel like I should be doing something “right now” when I’m around a computer. Ugh. Here’s to re-energizing in the new year, Beth!

  6. Caz Makepeace December 30, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    I hear ya girl!! We’ve had the same year and when you throw a baby in the mix I am completely falling apart.

    My recent stint in hospital has caused me to refocus on just the essentials and I seem to feel more calmer.

    Everything sounds like it is going great guns for you. Next year is your year and I hope Pat comes on board soon. I think you will make a great team

    • Brooke January 4, 2012 at 9:45 am #

      Caz, I can’t even imagine throwing a baby in the mix. Your drive is very impressive, but I agree that it has its price. Stress does crazy stuff to our bodies and it makes you think about whether or not this cost is worth the payout. Your new plan of focusing on the essentials sounds perfect… and you totally deserve to relax for a while! 🙂

  7. Angie Orth of Angie Away December 30, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    If only we could all learn this lesson at the beginning! Never thought I’d burn out or be spread too thin, but something about being self-employed AND Type A brings out the crazy workaholic in me. Sounds like you’ve got a good plan to keep Superwoman in check… will be watching for updates!

    • Brooke January 4, 2012 at 9:50 am #

      Yes, I feel you! Self-employed and Type A = non-stop working 😉 I love the idea of being self-employed, but the stress is doing bad things to my body. Must get that in check or else. Wishing you luck with your workaholic ways in the new year as well! 🙂

  8. Heather December 31, 2011 at 5:19 am #

    You are one busy woman! Thanks for the chat this summer and bringing me on board. Looking forward to seeing where HPL goes this year 🙂

    Take care of yourself!

    • Brooke January 4, 2012 at 9:52 am #

      Oh, Heather, thank you for all the help! I am also looking forward to HPL this year, and I hope it turns into something that brings you even more work and money. 🙂

  9. Amanda December 31, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    A tough lesson, but a really important one to learn!

    I totally hear you on having all these ideas but not enough time to even get around to half of them. I bought 2 new domains in the past few months, but haven’t even begun to seriously think about those sites. Between growing my own blog, editing another, doing some odd writing gigs here and there, AND going to grad school full-time with a 20-hour-per-week assistantship, I feel like I barely have time to sleep, let alone take on more projects!

    • Brooke January 4, 2012 at 9:55 am #

      I think it is easy to get carried away in the online world. I also have another website that hasn’t been announced, but it hasn’t been built up enough. Going to put that on the backburner and focus on relaxing for a while before that starts up. You sound super busy as well, my dear, so be cautious and don’t burn out! Good luck to you in 2012 🙂


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