WHEW. 2016 is finally over. Anyone else surprised to still be here?
The older I get, the more I can appreciate both the calm and chaos in my life. Yes, the Drama Llama followed me around all year (thanks for the expression, Alex in Wanderland), and yes, at times 2016 was fraught with peril.
Still, I’m not jumping on that “You stink, 2016!” bandwagon because to do so, I’d have to pretend that I haven’t been absolutely ridiculously blessed even in the midst of the crazy.
This year certainly had its wonderful moments, too. First things first, how often do I get to use “fraught with peril” in sentence? So…2016 bonus!
Other awesome things: we bought a house, I spent a whole year married to the hunkiest hunk, we renewed our vows in Kauai and we stuck it to the man when we had to. I spent quality time with my family and friends and had some opportunities I never could’ve imagined were possible.
Here’s a quick look at the past 90 days in my world and a sneaky peek at my goals and plans for 2017.
Though Hurricane Matthew forced us to postpone our anniversary trip by almost a month, in the end, we made it! And we had such a wonderful time exploring together. I rested more than I have in years and really took time to relax and enjoy spending time with Rick. What a luxury that was! We hiked, helicoptered and sailed, saw dolphins and whales and ate the most delicious food.
On the flight to Hawaii, I wondered how long it would take after arrival for Rick to declare, as I have many times, “We should move here!”
5 minutes. A new record.
So much more about our week in paradise coming to AngieAway.com very soon! For now, check out my stories on Travelocity’s blog: 7 Reasons Kauai is Paradise without a Passport | Escape the Cold: Warm Destinations for Easy Winter Getaways
I’ve been honored to be a Travelocity Gnational Gnomad for more than a year now, and our annual summit took place in Mexico at the Live Aqua Resort. It was a treat to catch up with old friends and meet new ones, not to mention the treats that come with all-inclusive life! That all-you-can-devour minibar and 24 hour room service was heaven.
Hotel Indigo Savannah
I was fortunate to visit Savannah twice in the past few months, once in partnership with Enterprise Rent-a-Car for a romantic coastal Georgia anniversary trip and then again with Hotel Indigo. Now that I think of it, this could have something to do with why my pants don’t fit. I have trouble turning down fresh biscuits with whipped butter, or anything with fried green tomatoes.
I suspect you’ll be seeing lots more Savannah coverage here on the blog because it’s just too cute. How am I only just now discovering it?!
Jacksonville, post-Hurricane Matthew
Not long after I pressed publish on my Reflections from the Road Vol. 28, Hurricane Matthew started making his way up the Florida coast. I’m not going to sugarcoat it – waiting for a monster to arrive was terrifying. Seeing the damage in Haiti and Cuba and knowing your town could be next was an ominous, threatening feeling I just wasn’t ready for.
In the end, Jacksonville actually dodged the worst of the storm, but if it had wobbled just a few miles east, we would’ve seen unimaginable destruction. Plenty of our neighbors suffered damage to their homes, some severe. And all those downed trees meant my hubby had to leave in the middle of the storm to start tree removal and power restoration. It was a tough couple of weeks, but we know how much worse it could’ve been. Read why I’ll never ride out a hurricane again.
I witnessed a fatal accident in Cancun. I was riding in a van when I saw a white truck coming across the median, out of control and at high speed. It was so close to that all the gravel and debris from the median washed over our vehicle as the truck missed us by a few feet, or maybe even just inches, and slammed into the car next to us, while I watched.
It was horrifying. I read all the news coverage about the accident because I had to know if the passengers in the car were ok, and who they were and what would happen to the driver. (One article hinted that he may have been drunk.) In my research, I came across a video online that I thought was a news clip but instead it was just video from someone driving by the accident, before the ambulance arrived. On top of witnessing the crash, I saw too much and it completely wrecked me.
The only way I knew how to process was to throw myself into work upon returning home and my next trip and then the holidays. And that worked pretty well. Still, when I see an accident or even sometimes just driving in my car, images of the crash will pop into my head.
I first voted in the year 2000. I was dating a guy on the opposite side of the political spectrum and his arrogance and belligerence during election year was a deciding factor in our ultimate breakup. Not because his beliefs were different, mind you, but because he couldn’t hold a conversation without condescending buttface.
Now, in my 5th presidential election, I’m sad to see so many Americans in the ex-boyfriend camp of rudeness and incivility. Whether your candidate won or lost, I think most folks can agree the sadness and anger and division unleashed this year brought America to a very dark place. There’s so much meanness and no respect – and it’s on all sides!
One reason I don’t talk about politics or broadcast who I voted for publicly is because to me, it creates division. I 100% understand why others do, and political discourse is so important in a democracy, but for me, I’d rather talk about anything else. I would rather talk about the Kardashians’ eyebrow management methods for an hour than read one more rant about moving to Canada or one more threat about unfriending anyone who voted for Candidate X. It’s one of the reasons I’ve regrettably unfollowed so many friends and news sources. I only have so much mental energy, and I want to put it into being a force for good. Tweeting snark at politicians and ranting on Facebook might feel powerful when you do it, but what does it do other than add to the noise and give you a jolt of dopamine when the likes roll in?
Who really lost the election this year? Everyone.
On the set of SEC Nation at the Florida-Georgia game, Jacksonville
Yes, my wedding venue cyber-stalked me and tried to wreck my reputation because they didn’t like my bad reviews. I had an unexpected & expensive surgery, bulging neck discs (OUCH) and family strain that made me reconsider living in Florida. I’ve had to fire difficult clients, chase down overdue payments and stand up for myself in 100 ways I never expected when I wrote last year’s New Years RftR post. I’ve had several friends diagnosed with cancer and lose spouses and children, and I’ve seen far too many tragedies unfold, up close and from afar. I can barely comprehend Aleppo, Istanbul, Nice, Orlando, etc. I suspect most of you are right there with me. (Other than the wedding venue harassment thing – pretty sure the cheese stands alone for that one.)
Even as the haters tried to bring me down and health issues did their best to sideline me, I partnered with more brands and destinations than ever, bought a brand new house, flew more than 30,000 miles, appeared on the Today Show, spent one whole year married to the love of my life, took my family on epic adventures, got health insurance and by the grace of God… thrived in the face of it all.
I know I am blessed on the good days and the bad, and I will praise the Lord no matter what this world throws at me.
THOU SHALT TAKE A DAY OFF
I literally tell people to relax and take a vacation FOR A LIVING – isn’t ironic that it’s something I don’t well even do in my own life?
My Google search history is basically made up of, “How much chest pain is too much chest pain,” “Am I old enough to have a heart attack?” and “Can your appendix still hurt after it’s removed?” I fully believe that this year’s dramas have lead me down an unhealthy path.
Would it surprise you at all to know that I already have more than 40 blog posts on the docket for 2017? To put that in perspective, I only wrote 37 this year. And this is before I’ve even traveled anywhere or taken on new partnerships. I’ll likely write at least another dozen stories for Travelocity in 2017. Throw in a few TV appearances, magazine articles, speaking engagements, trips abroad and a handful of PR clients with huge launches. Add new projects (see below in Next Steps). Mix husband, family and friends.
Can you see where I sometimes feel like I just can’t stop moving or all the plates I’m spinning will fall at once?
God thinks rest is such an important concept, he made sure to include it on the first page of the Bible in his own creative process, and then He commanded us to rest from our work as well. Why do you think He had to make chilling out a commandment? Because He knew people like me would try to avoid it at all costs and squeeze work into every available moment.
In 2017, I want to give myself time to rest. I want to leave margin in my life for things like reading, journaling, praying and just having quiet time. Y’all, help keep me accountable!
Road tripping in St. Simons Island
GOD IS FAITHFUL
Even though 2016 was a beast, I never went hungry or without a roof over my head. How many folks didn’t have those basic necessities this year? That’s always on my mind.
As part of our church’s generosity initiative, Rick and I set a goal to give a certain amount to our community over two years. We struggled on a number to commit to though, because as a freelancer, I never know how much I’m going to make in a given year. We wanted to stretch ourselves and feel the pinch and fully step out in faith, so we prayed about it committed to a number that was out of reach without some serious divine intervention.
Now here we are having just had our best year ever, and we very nearly met our two year giving goal in less than 12 months. In the face of our wedding venue slandering me online to clients and business associates, isn’t it amazing that what others meant to harm me, God meant for my good?
I tell you all this not to brag on anything Rick or I did – as if we have any control over anything in this life! – but to brag on God’s unfailing provision and faithfulness.
Giving is the one principle in the Bible that God says, “Go ahead, test me” on, and I will tell you from personal experience, the more I give to others, the more He provides for all my needs and the needs of others through me.
Waimea Canyon, Kauai
The Next Steps
We can make our plans but God determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9
TAKING THE FOCUS BACK
I’m heading into my 12th year as a blogger and the 7th since I quit my PR job to travel, write and be a freelance everything. I love what I do so much that I’ve let the hot opportunities and projects cloud my vision and inhibit me from reaching some of my long-standing personal goals. After some soul-searching, I realize that I have to be way more intentional about protecting my time and advancing those goals, or I’m no better off than I was when I worked in a corporate office, you know?
2017 is the year I take my focus back! But how?
God-willing this year is going to be quite a shake-up in these parts. I’m growing Angie Away in a new direction, rethinking how I do social media & how much time I spend interacting there, being even more selective about projects and saying “no” even more than I do now. It’s the only way to make time to do a few things that are important to me.
One thing I’d like to focus on in 2017: video! I have a web series in the works that I know you’re going to love, but I’m going to need your help sharing and promoting it once the time comes. We likely won’t film anything until Q2 at the earliest, but if all goes according to plan, 2017 is the year.
Hanging with my uncle in Kauai
TIME TO WRITE THAT BOOK
Or as one of my favorite funny storytellers puts it, assemble the pieces of a book.
I’ve been putting this off since I came home from my RTW trip at the end of 2011. This is the main goal that I’ve put to the side for everything else. With increasing urgency, I am moved and inspired to sit down and write this book – whatever it turns out to be – that is living inside of me. This is the year I finally do it.
BUT. I have to be honest. I’m scared to death. Scared I can’t finish it. Scared I will pour my heart, soul and unpaid hours into it and no one will read it. Scared of criticism. Scared of what people will think if I peel back the layers.
Since when am I scared of anything? Even if no one ever reads it, I have to write this book. (Tips & tricks welcome to all those who’ve gone before me!)
So just in case writing a book, running a few businesses and traveling the world weren’t enough, we are praying about becoming foster parents later this year – a ginormous step I don’t think we’ll ever be ready for, really. There’s a lot I’d like to accomplish before we bring kids into the fold, like… everything on my to do list. I hear children kinda take over your life, and I’d like to get heaps done before they come on the scene. Watch this space for more insight into this process as we dive in.
Do you see what I’ve done? I say I need to get my stress under control, focus on my health, leave margin in my life for rest and then I plan out a year full of goals that no human could possibly achieve. So, at least we all know where the problem lies 😉
Christmas with the family
After such a tumultuous year and many visits from the Drama Llama, I’d be lying if I didn’t have moments of trepidation looking ahead into 2017. What helps most is to look back on the past few years and seeing how it’s all worked out. I’ve never walked alone & God has always made a way, in the worst days and the best days.
Hasta La Vista, Drama Llama! On to bigger and better things in 2017!
(And if not, we’ll find the silver lining together.)