Reflections from the Road | Vol. 27

I don’t know if y’all love reading it, but I really love writing my quarterly Reflections from the Road post. I sit at my computer and think, “I really haven’t done much in the past 90 days,” and then I flip through Facebook photos, my calendar and my crumpled up boarding passes and realize just how far I’ve come. Even though it’s only been 90 days since the last update, so much has happened – both good and bad.

Reflecting on it all gives me such a boost of confidence, seeing in black and white how much a human can reasonably handle in a small amount of time.

My new focus is balancing my roots and my wings, and for once, I think I did a satisfactory job in the past 90 days. On the roots side, our new house is in great shape, we’re unpacked, painted, decorated and planted, and we bought a truck. On the wings side, I had 12 flight legs covering 5,505 miles, 1 cruise, 2 car ferries and a few road trips from Panama City Beach to Jacksonville, Boston to Woods Hole, Mass., and Woods Hole to Albany, NY.

It’s been an interesting 90 days, with some serious highs and lows. Here’s the recap!

The Highs 

GLORIOUS NEW DIGS

Take a look around, y’all, and get comfy! In addition to getting settled in our comfy new house, AngieAway.com moved into a new space as well. My redesign with Further Bound is finally complete and I love the results. The gold sparkly foil is the FIRE, don’t you think? Now if I could just get around to reformatting all my old posts…. meep.

In case you missed it, to celebrate my Jaws-meets-Jane-Austen redesign, I gave away a luxury trip on the Rocky Mountaineer train to Tiffany from Hawaii, a new email subscriber. Thank you to everyone who signed up! If you haven’t yet, what are ya waiting for? I promise not to spam you with junk and let’s be honest, I don’t post all that much so your inbox will never get too cluttered with my cheesy mug 😉

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CRUISING TO CUBA

I was invited to experience Fathom Travel’s inaugural cruise to Cuba, the first from the U.S. in 50 years and I’m so, so glad I accepted the invitation! I’ll never forget sailing into Havana and watching thousands of Cubans line up along the Malecón to welcome our ship, the Adonia. If you’re interested in visiting Cuba in the very near future, check out my post about the experience, this interview for Johnny Jet and my segment on The Chat.

SPEAKING AT TBEX MINNEAPOLIS

Public speaking fears, be darned! I flew to Minneapolis, Minnesota, for my 6th TBEX (Travel Blog Exchange – a conference for bloggers) where I spoke about “How to Stay off the PR Blacklist.” As much as speaking in front of a crowd gives me the willies, it was surprisingly cathartic to hear the gasps and see the shock in everyone’s eyes when I told some of my most ridiculous tales of writers gone bad.

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MARTHA’S VINEYARD SQUAD TRIP

Immediately after TBEX, I made my way to Martha’s Vineyard to hang out with Alex in Wanderland and Camels and Chocolate, my all-blonde, diving, blogging, donut-eating squad. We stayed in a gingerbread house, danced with a diverse crew of revelers, brunched, did yoga in a restored barn and watched a Jane Austen flick in a historic theater. It was really the idyllic girls’ weekend. Read all about the lovely trip here.

WORDS, WORDS, WORDS

I’ve written quite a few stories since my last check-in, covering everything from Shark Week to Hell’s Kitchen to oh yeah, more shark stuff. Check out the latest additions to my portfolio!

Jacksonville Magazine – Gone Fishing | Shark Researchers Look for Great Whites of the Northeast Florida Coast

Travelocity – 7 Romantic Ways to Enjoy NYC

Gogobot – Angie Away’s Guide to Celebrating Shark Week Around the World 

Travel Mindset – 8 Ways to Enjoy the Drier Side of Panama City Beach

Travelocity – Where to Eat, Drink & Play in Hell’s Kitchen

Travel Mindset – A Girls’ Getaway to Remember in PCB

Travelocity – The Wild, Wild West | A Summer Road Trip from Denver to Boise

Jacksonville Magazine OCEARCH article-min

The Lows

WHEN FEAR CREEPS IN

After five months of harassment from a man employed by our wedding venue, I had enough and I called them out publicly on their despicable behavior. (You can read about the whole nightmare and see the threatening messages in my post here.)

I’m a patient, forgiving person – some might say I’m a doormat. If someone steps on my toes, usually I’m the first to apologize for my toes getting in their way. But I was pushed to my limit with this incident and felt like speaking out about it was the only way to get it to stop.

It seems like they’ve taken the hint for now. After a few more messages (and some ludicrous responses from the harasser’s wife, who called me a bully) the harasser has been quiet for the first time since January. He’s changed his photos and affiliations, and of course, hotel management hasn’t said a word. No apology, no claim that they had nothing to do with it. No surprises there.

All this background to say… there have been times over the past few months where I’ve barely held it together.

Combining the fear of a stranger’s threats with the paranoia that my reputation is being ruined was a challenge I never planned to face during my newlywed months, and it weighed me down in a bad way. I feared if I posted that the threats would get worse or they’d turn to action, that readers would be alienated and not want to read any more if I wrote another article about my stupid wedding and that people would think I was just some privileged whiny girl. The whole thing has crushed me at times, physically and mentally.

There have been bizarre reactions like, “At least you don’t have cancer,” or “Maybe you should just try to get over it.” I’ve been left feeling confused, abandoned and paranoid at times. This whole experience – yes, my destination wedding and the aftermath – has been one of the lowest points of my life.

SHOULD I QUIT BLOGGING?

Quitting blogging has never seemed more plausible, desirable or likely than it has this year. It’s not because I don’t love it, because I do. Writing/communicating is who I am at the core. But all the wedding fallout, the subsequent threats and a few mean/inconsiderate people made me consider throwing in the towel.

In the midst of my expansive and expensive redesign, that was not the best mindset to be in! Obviously, I’m still here, and I’m sticking around. I’m just a bit raw.

A SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS

While I was dealing with this whole harassment situation in my little universe, the actual world seemed to be crumbling, too. The attacks in Brussels, Istanbul and Orlando have rocked me to my core. They’re becoming so commonplace, people hardly pause to react anymore.

My Facebook and Twitter feeds make me wonder how everyone hasn’t ripped each other to shreds by now – and that’s after I’ve unfollowed all the particularly vitriolic folks. Everyone has an opinion and those who are expressing theirs the loudest just seem to be so rude.

Between the Brexit reaction and the ongoing drama with the U.S. election, kindness, thoughtfulness, self-control seem to be afterthoughts. We are not on a good path and my heart has been aching over all of it. If hashtag activism is all we have, things will never improve.

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The Lessons

FEAR IS NOT FROM GOD

I’ve had to rely on my faith more than ever the past few months. Conquering this fear monster instead of letting it conquer me, and giving my growing anxiety over to God has been a huge struggle, but prayer has been my lifeline. There are 365 verses in the Bible that tell us to FEAR NOT. Do not be afraid, be strong and courageous, cast your cares on the Lord… it’s comforting to know that God not only knew there would be times we’d be afraid, but that it’s ok to feel that way as long as you ultimately remember who’s in charge.

I’ve found so much peace in these verses that remind me that I am not in control, my days have been numbered since before I was born and all things work for the good of those who love the Lord. No matter what drama the world throws at me, I know my identity and I know it is well with my soul, regardless.

Living in the U.S., we are so surrounded by comfort and at least the appearance of safety that suddenly being scared to leave my house at times was a new sensation. And I realized, once again, how unbelievably blessed I have been to live in such luxury that I’ve not been outright threatened every day of my life. My situation with the wedding venue is the exception in my life and not the rule. How many women and girls around the world live in daily fear of their own cultural norms where men are legally allowed to oppress, threaten, beat and rape them? It’s a terrifying thought.

And it happens at home, too. The story about the woman who was raped by the Stanford Swimmer had me furious and heartbroken. I am in awe of her strength and courage to call him out, especially when the system that should’ve stood up for her (and other women) didn’t.

What’s been a hopefully temporary challenge for me is a real, lasting plight for so many women. Countless others have it so much worse than I have, and seeing how deeply affected I’ve been by threats — well, I can’t imagine the anguish truly abused women face. I barely caught a tiny glimpse of it with this wedding drama, but I do feel my heart open and that much more empathetic toward women who’ve been affected. I’m interested to see where this path leads. Pain is never without purpose.

YEAH. PAIN IS NEVER WITHOUT PURPOSE.

It’s been 10 years and 2 days since my pinball-like car accident in Atlanta. I’d just told my boss two days prior that I wanted to transfer to NYC and was saving every penny to make it happen. The moment I regained consciousness after being hit on first the right side and then the left, I sobbed because I just knew between car repairs and medical bills, I’d never be able to move to New York.

If you’ve been around for a while or read my new ABOUT page, you know that I did move to New York and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. In fact, totaling my car, while incredibly painful (I say with an ice pack on my neck all these years later), actually worked out better than trying to sell it before the big move.

What seemed like the worst possible thing that could’ve happened turned out for my good…. hmmm, just like God promised. I hold on to that memory whenever things are awful and remember that I’m never alone and God has a plan.

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NEW HOMEOWNER ADVICE

There’s really only one way to get everything done around the house – set a date for a party. In our 8 months of marriage, I’ve learned that Rick and I are on very different teams as far as home improvements go. I’m on TEAM EVERYTHING HAS TO BE DONE TODAY, and he’s on TEAM WE LITERALLY HAVE THE REST OF OUR LIVES TO ORGANIZE THE GARAGE.

We had a tiny get-together a few weeks ago to welcome family and a few pals into our new house and I’ll tell you what, we got more done in the week leading up to the festivities than we have in the three months we’ve lived here. Just wait ‘til you see the shelves my hunk built, y’all. Post coming soon! (p.s. Baby & puppy are borrowed!)

The Next Steps

We can make our plans but God determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

HUSBAND & WIFE VACAY

Rick and I are overdue for a husband & wife trip, and we’re taking off this Sunday for Costa Rica. (We had to wait an extra week once I found out we’d miss Shark Week & the Game of Thrones finale if we went on our original dates!) He’s getting some dental work done so it won’t all be fun and games, but I’m hoping it’s restful, relaxing and harassment-free. I’ll be in airplane mode so he-who-shall-not-be-named won’t be able to track me down.

TAKING CARE OF MY HEALTH

I give a lot of lip service to taking care of myself, but when it comes right down to it, work (and taking care of others) always takes precedence. I don’t know if it’s because I’m quickly approaching my mid-thirties or if the stress of the past year has just finally worn me down, but there are days when I feel like my body just isn’t going to show up for me. Now that I have insurance, I’m making doctor appointments and getting myself sorted out. If you have any suggestions to make joints feel better and afternoon naps unecessary – B12 injections, weird GOOP-approved treatments, etc. – please comment.

UPDATED RFTR EXPERIENCE

Last time I promised that Volume 27 of Reflections from the Road would look very different, and here we are with the same format as always. Honestly, I just didn’t have time to revamp it the way I wanted to, and so here we are with the same old, same old. I WILL get to it, but it won’t be today.

WRITING THE BOOK 

I’ve had a lot of clarity lately on my book – the structure, content and just the fact that I need to sit down and do it. But no sooner do I make a plan then the doubts creep in. Why would anyone want to read my lousy book? I’m not that interesting and isn’t it kinda self-centered to think anyone cares about my life enough to pay for an actual book? Free blog posts are one thing, but 70,000 words?! Nah.

Maybe I’m not Millennial enough to think that the world revolves around me. But with increasing frequency, I wake up in the middle of the night and have to type up ideas and notes so they don’t fly away. I believe this is something I am meant to do. So why is it so hard to do it?!

Q3 TRAVELS & TRAVAILS

Confirmed travels include Costa Rica with Husband, Canada with Mom and at least half a dozen trips to Orlando for work and RaeRae’s graduation. Guys, my baby sister, who last time I checked was 4-years-old, is graduating from college with a PR/advertising degree. I’m in SHOCK.

I also have a heap of projects in progress, many stories to share and that darn book to write, but before I get started… I’d love to hear what you’re up to, where you’re headed and what you think of new AngieAway.com.

Happy travels!

p.s. Special thanks to Kristin Luna for the beautiful cover image she took of me in Panama City Beach, and to Claire Volkman for the photo of me walking into the crowd in Cuba.

Since I kicked off this roots & wings lifestyle back in 2010, I’ve written bimonthly/quarterly roundups chock full of details and musings not found in my other writings. Reflections from the Road posts are my favorite to look back on, as they capture what I was up to and how I was feeling. If you ever wonder how I made it to where I am now, the RfrR series is the best place to start.

COME AWAY WITH ME!
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  • July 06, 2016
    Bonnie Walker

    I enjoyed reading this post. I’m glad things seem to be silent for now. Never stop doing what you love! I love to hear about all your travels!

  • July 06, 2016
    Renee

    I love reading anything in my inbox from you! Or really anything you write! Keep it up Angie!

    • July 12, 2016

      You’re the sweetest – thank you for reading!

  • July 06, 2016
    Kim Henrichs

    I love your reflections from the road!

    I agree, life can seem so angry lately. Such bitterness with all of this election stuff that has everyone wound so tight that the anonymity of the internet makes them feel easy to unwind. It keeps me away from social media more than I would like.

    I hope your next 90 days are awesome and relaxing. 🙂 🙂

  • July 07, 2016

    I’m so glad to hear that your cyber harasser has vanished. I really hope it stays that way. What that resort did to you is absolutely despicable and it was right to speak out about it.

    I can’t wait to see pictures of your house. I’m sure it’s decorated fabulously!
    Jennifer recently posted..Bordeaux in 365 Bottles: June 2016My Profile

  • July 10, 2016

    Always love Reflections From The Road… especially when I’M IN IT! Mwahahaha. Also just read your new about page and I’m in love (and cringing at how out of date my own is.)

    Wishing you smooth sailing ahead, friend!
    Alex recently posted..Hotel Crush: Bangkok Tree HouseMy Profile

  • July 10, 2016
    Heather

    I’m sorry you’ve had such a rough year but wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your Reflections, writings, and adventures. I love the new design and am looking forward to browsing through your archives. And yes, people will be interested in your book!

  • July 13, 2016
    Chris

    LOVE reading your posts and filling in the gaps. The last 12 months have thrown you a lot of ‘curve balls’ but, amid the disappointments, fears, adventures and all the good stuff (not the least of those marrying ‘Rick the Rock’) you’ve grown so much in your faith, your perspective on life and your writing. A lot of clarity on your book – the structure, content and middle-of-the-night imperatives … you DO just need to sit down and DO IT! Nearing 2,000 Facebook ‘friends’, and how many Angie Away ‘followers’?… there’s HUNDREDS of people interested in your ‘Life Adventures’! Enough doubt… you go girl… time to sit down and make a start! xxx

  • October 03, 2016

    Selfishly, I’m glad 2016 has included so much travel time with ME (and Alex, too!). Here’s to even more travels together in the coming year(s)…and maybe we’ll invite our husbands a time or two, too 😉
    Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate recently posted..Discovering Serbia, the Beating Heart of the BalkansMy Profile

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