Hello, world! I hope your 2017 is off to a wonderful start. Betty White is still with us, so from a celebrity perspective, we’re doing better than last year – right?
This quarter has been relatively chill for me – only 7 nights in hotels! – and though that was an intentional choice to check myself and put some new systems in place, slowing my pace was really tough. Even though I was busy, things weren’t too hectic (until March), and I found myself unsettled by the calm compared with the same time last year. I thrive on the busy and the stressful, and while that’s great when you’re churning out deadlines, it’s been really challenging to rein those instincts (and habits) in.
At home in Florida, I’ve been focusing on planting, both real seeds and metaphorical ones. While I wait for our dozens of tomato and pepper plants to really take off, I’m watching for other seeds I’ve planted this season to start bearing fruit as well. I’ve been taking steps toward better health, trying to manage our money with an eye toward eternity and set boundaries for social media activity so I’m not quite so connected all the time. I have not been successful every day (particularly with the social media disconnecting – I might need rehab), but there has been a marked change and I’m proud of where I’ve gotten thus far.
Here’s a quick look at the past 90 days in my world and a peek at what’s coming in 2017. (With all these tomatoes and peppers en route, I suspect there will be a whole lot of salsa, so bring tortilla chips for the next edition of Reflections from the Road!)
BABY ON BOARD | ALTERNATIVE FACTS EDITION
In our current age of fake news and click bait, there are a lot of folks out there who just read headlines and not articles – my friends included. I had no idea this was happening until I showed up at a conference this week and folks were congratulating me left and right on my pregnancy. Only one problem – I am not with child! Awkward turtle.
Yes, I’m pregnant… with expectation, probably a food baby and nothing else.
The real news is that Rick and I are starting the process of becoming foster parents, something that you’d have to click through on Facebook to know. It’s been something we’ve talked about since early in our relationship, and now it’s official because I blogged about our pre-kid bucket list. We have filled out the initial paperwork, started the process of background checks and fingerprinting, and are trying to figure out how I can string together 6 weeks in a row to take the required classes. That may be harder than actually fostering the kiddos!
HAPPY APRIL POOLS DAY
We celebrated one year in our house (already!) last week and we just finally got the guest bedroom set up enough to host our first non-family overnighters, missionaries from Bolivia in January and Kristin & her pal Lemon in March. I kinda wish we had more bedrooms to accommodate more friends at once!
To commemorate one wonderful year, last week we put in a pool. It was not as smooth a process as I would’ve hoped for the price, but as of this morning the electricity is working, the pump is pumping and the pool is sparkling. Later this month, we’ll install a deck and then I’m going to buy every cute flamingo-shaped float and live out there all summer. If you’re in the neighborhood, you really must pop over!
CARIBBEAN ESCAPES… IN FLORIDA
With all the laser focusing I’ve been doing the past few months on all my New Year’s Resolutions, I just couldn’t say no to the chance to pop down to the Hawks Cay Resort for a few days of island time and a diet detour of Key Lime pie at least twice a day. I caught an enormous amberjack, a.k.a. reef donkey, something I haven’t let any of the fishermen in my family forget since I got back. I also learned how to cook a delicious coconut milk risotto from the resort’s chef, so in addition to catching dinner, I can also cook it like a boss.
You know I rarely take group press trips these days, but with an assignment in hand and a quick turnaround, this adventure fell right in my lap and turned out to be such a treat. (And one of my new writer friends inspired me to add another project to my list: a screenplay!)
A few weeks later, Rick and I made our way to Loews Sapphire Falls Resort in Orlando to sip Caribbean rums, eat curried goat and spend a quick but fun weekend soaking up the sun by the pool. Yes, I’m at Universal all the time, but Rick never gets to come with me, so it was fun to give him a real expert tour of my “office.”
Check out my take on Hawks Cay Resort and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort over on the Travelocity Inspire blog.
ONE SPECIAL NIGHT
Hands-down, the best night in the past 90 days was Night to Shine, a prom for kids with special needs put on by the Tebow Foundation. In all 50 states and in 11 countries, host churches get together to host the event for hundreds of kids and their families. In Jacksonville, we had an epic night with four red carpets, limousines, hair stylists, paparazzi, and oh, Rascal Flatts stopped by to perform for the kids.
As someone who plans huge events and launches for a living, I was in awe of the attention to detail and logistical excellence. It was an overflow of grace and kindness lavished on people who don’t always get to feel like rockstars.
If you ever have the chance to volunteer at a Night to Shine in your town, all I can say is do it. You won’t regret it!
I am about 99% in love with the freelance life. Flexibility is something I always missed when I worked in PR agencies, so now that I have it I really try not to take it for granted. But that 1% of freelance life I don’t love can be exhausting. I spent most of January and February chasing down clients and trying to figure out when/where/if I was going to work at all in 2017. I did a lot of praying for provision!
And then suddenly, as always, the work floodgates all opened at the same time and my prayers have changed. Now I’m praying for a clone to show up at my door and help me knock all these projects out!
LIFE AND DEATH
No matter how good things are going, there’s one thing you can’t escape — death. (Well, death and taxes, as the saying goes.) In the past quarter, my husband lost his grandpa and a dear friend, and one of my very first coworkers died from cancer just last week.
It never gets easier, losing someone, and it’s especially hard when they’re young and have so much to live for like Emily did. All you can do is thank God for the impact their lives had on you and be a good steward of the time you have left.
AND SPEAKING OF TAXES
April always looms over me for the first part of the year. Knowing I have to input an enormous amount of data on my every expenditure just makes me cranky and fearful. I just started working on it all last week and it would appear I’ll be writing an unexpectedly large check once again. Just when I thought I’d finally paid enough into the system all year, I learned I just don’t know jack about the tax code and probably never will.
WRITING IZ HARD
You go to the bookstore and see a million novels and think, “How hard can it be to write a book?” And then you try to spill what seems brilliant in your brain onto paper and it’s agonizing and tormenting and it’s basically crap. Seriously. I’ve never thought of myself as much of an “artist” but dear Lord above, I am starting to understand the stinging perfectionism and gut-wrenching obsession that comes with getting the “art” out of you and into some format other humans will appreciate and understand. I write thousands of words a day for Angie Away and everyone else, but the book just means so much to me, and I want it to be meaningful for anyone who takes the time to read it. But getting from Point A to Point Z is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever attempted.
Within a given day, I love writing it and then I hate writing it. I want to quit but then I can’t stop thinking about it. Some days I think I’m on the verge of greatness, and other days I think my book is is the worst thing anyone’s ever written. It’s been a really surprising journey, and I’m nowhere close to being done. If you have any advice for how I can write faster and crush the crippling self-doubt about my skills that has suddenly appeared, I’m all ears.
(If you’d like a sneak peek of the book when I have such a thing to share, sign up for email updates at the bottom of this page! Subscribers will be the first to get a preview of this thing that may be wonderful or terrible.)
STRESS CAN KILL YOU
I was at the Generation W conference yesterday in Jacksonville listening to Heidi Hanna speak about recharging your brain and the effects of stress on the body. I wouldn’t smoke a cigarette if you had a gun to my head… but stress? I’m addicted to it. Stress is what launches me out of bed at a run every morning. And yet, stress, if not managed in a healthy way, can cause a myriad of health problems – something I learned last year when I packed on the pounds and ended up in the hospital with alleged appendicitis. According to a study, more than 3/4 of all doctor visits are attributed to stress issues, and I can firmly believe it.
I loved this note from her presentation,
Think about who you want to be before you think about what you need to do.
Gold, right? How about this:
I have enough. I am enough.
I’m still processing what I learned yesterday and digging into Heidi’s book Recharge to figure out how to reframe my stress in a way that makes it a healthy catalyst, not a life-force sucking parasite. I’ll report back!
The Next Steps
We can make our plans but God determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9
KEEP ON KEEPING ON
For the first time in my life, I’m actually still on that resolution bandwagon 90 days into the new year. I attribute all this focus to actually having time to dedicate to the things that are important. I’ve started waking up at 6 a.m. to add a few more hours to the day. I’ve started a daily quiet time for prayer and journaling, which sets my intention for the day and gives me perspective before I dive into deadlines.
I’ve lost some weight, walked many miles while book writing on my new treadmill desk, written about 22,000 words for the novel, outlined my screenplay, put in a few solid spin sessions and planted lots of yummy veggies and herbs out back. I went to the doctor this week to get a long-standing issue checked out and I even added brussels sprouts, quinoa and kombucha to my diet.
Right on cue: now I have more work than I know what to do with! Unlike my nomadic days where I could just frolic willy-nilly as my whims dictated, nowadays paying work takes precedence over margin, mindfulness, creative pursuits and healthy eating.
In the next 3 months, I’ll be launching several new attractions in Orlando, working on various influencer programs as both influencer & publicist, attempting to become foster parents, building a deck, tending our garden, finishing our taxes (crying emoji), flying to Mexico for an influencer campaign, camping at Ginnie Springs, continuing to write my memoir, attempting to publish 12 posts for Angie Away and three stories for Travelocity, and probably 100 other things I won’t remember until I look at my to-do list.
(Thank goodness Rick is pretty low maintenance, right? God broke the mold with this guy.)
With all this on deck for the next 90 days, I’m going to have to be really diligent to keep up with these new intentional habits I’ve formed. I’d love any tips you have for staying mindful and factoring margin in even when things get super busy.
So, that’s the gist. I feel like I’ve left out so much – cookouts with friends, wonderful weddings and showers and parties, hilarious moments with family… ah well. Next time!