Volcano Bay - The Jet Sisters - Angie Away - Universal Orlando

Reflections from the Road | Vol. 31

Welcome back, y’all! How’s everyone been since the last update?

Remember how in my last edition of Reflections from the Road, I was so excited to be sticking with all my New Year’s resolutions? Well… those went out the window pretty soon after congratulating myself. As always, when I get busy, I chuck intentionality to the side.

In the past 90 days, I spent 27 nights in hotels, tents and/or my sister’s bed, took 6 flights, visited two countries and attended one wedding. I also went to a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert, scratched my head over the curious Japanese opening act BabyMetal, sang along with some of my favorite blogging friends at a Journey concert (sort of – former lead singer) and laughed my head off at a taping of The Tonight Show. (Speaking of bucket list items I never even thought about: I’ve now seen Shaquille O’Neal dancing suggestively with Jimmy Fallon and Pit Bull. In person. Yoinks.)

Angie Away Instagram

We installed a deck out back and bought a drone! I gained and lost the same stubborn 10 pounds. I called 911 once and cared for a hot mess of a family member. I also helped open a new ride and a new theme park at Universal, published 9 stories, two videos and 41 Instagrams. If the first quarter of 2017 was about taking stock and getting my footing, the second has been about running at full tilt toward even more adventures and shenanigans, and juggling the bowling balls that have been tossed in the mix.

Take a look at the highs, lows, lessons & next steps… if you can handle it. (I’m kinda sweaty reliving it all at once!)

The Highs

SAINT LUCIA

If you’re looking for a romantic vacation destination, wowie, do I have a recommendation for you! Rick and I had such a restful, fun time in Saint Lucia. It is an absolutely stunner of a place. The people were super nice. The food was delish. The hotels deserved the word epic. And the Pitons… gah. Perfection.

Knowing we’d be wedged between the Pitons for a week, we bought a drone! The DJI Mavic Pro to be exact. Now I’m trying to find a way to revisit all the places I’ve been B.D. (Before Drone) — just like I did when I bought my first GoPro. Check out the first video Rick & I have collaborated on below and tell me what you think! (We’re going to be doing a LOT more video so feedback & shares are much appreciated.)

Want to visit St. Lucia? Start planning here!

Romantic St. Lucia – We Made it to Ladera! | Video 

Ladera Resort – Cuisine & Romance with an Epic View

7 Things to Do in Soufrière | Video

THE POOL & THE DECK

I couldn’t decide whether to slot the Pool & the Deck into the highs or lows column, so I’m erring on the side of positivity and listing here. Finally, we do have both a pool and a deck — so bully for us!

Swimming Pool taken with DJI Mavic

Mucho work went into installing both – far more than expected. Me, on the admin side, and Rick on the really hard work side. The pool installation company was mediocre though they came highly recommended, so we’ve been fixing their boo-boos ever since installation day. The deck we thought would take a few days to construct stretched out over FIVE weekends, but we were fortunate that my experienced deck-building Uncle Jeff was there to supervise and my brother was there to lend a hand, too. I’ve got a post in the works with some pretty cool before and after photos, but we still have bits and pieces to finish before the big reveal. In the meantime, come on over for a swim!

JIMMY FALLON & VOLCANO BAY

Things have been positively crazy at Universal this year. In April, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon opened, and it was one of the most memorable openings I’ve been a part of. Jimmy was there to cut the ribbon of course, and there was a huge parade with The Roots and all the cast of characters from the Tonight Show. Jimmy’s little girls really stole the show though.

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon - Grand Opening - Universal Orlando Resort

We only had a few weeks in between that and the grand opening of Volcano Bay, the third park at the resort. For me, there’s nothing quite so exciting as being one of the first to check out the Universal Creative team’s work – it always, always, always blows me away. Volcano Bay was no exception.

Of course I wasn’t just there to float around on the lazy river! I filmed a segment for the launch day live stream (you can watch the whole thing here, but be warned, I talk with my hands a lot), wrote a story for the Universal blog, did that media relations thang and helped out with an entertainment TV crew. I’m always doing 10 different jobs behind the scenes, but this may have been the first time I did pretty much everything all at once for one client. It was a phenomenal, unforgettable, utterly exhausting week.

Universal Volcano Bay Live Stream

CANCUN (AGAIN)

As part of my gig as a Travelocity Gnational Gnomad, I went to Cancun and explored three very different all-inclusive resorts. Heading to Mexico soon? Check it out!

The Lows

OUCH

Many wonderful, fun things have happened over the past few months, so I hate to even confess that the past quarter also has been defined by doctor visits and tests behind the scenes. Recurring injuries, constant pain and unexplained exhaustion have been such a roller coaster – one I’d like to get off, please! I spent a day in the ER for pain in my right side strikingly similar to my appendix drama from last year, only to find out, after the condescending doctor told me, “There’s nothing important over there,” that I had a huge rupturing ovarian cyst.

Sorry, Right Ovary! Apparently you’re not important! Cue $800 hospital bill. Weee.

Plus, bulging discs and general spinal pain have been giving me fits. I’ve had massages and chiropractic visits, but nothing seems to help. I don’t like to say it, but there are days I struggle to get out of bed. And as I write this, I’m icing the lower back injury I acquired at yoga this week. I’m way too young to feel this dang old, right?

It’s not just me. Rick has been through a barrage of tests and calloused doctors who’d rather throw prescriptions at problems, too. That’s his story to tell so I won’t get into it, but it all takes a toll, doesn’t it? Our trip to Saint Lucia was right smack in the middle of a health breakdown for me, so it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Ginnie Springs Florida

TRASHY RIVER, TRASHY PEOPLE

When you go to a campsite, what do you expect? Nature? Peace and quiet? The calm you can only get from disconnecting from technology, reconnecting with friends and family and having the birds in the trees as an alarm clock? Me too. But every time I go to Ginnie Springs for our annual family camping trip, I am more and more disgusted with what it’s becoming. What used to be a fun weekend has turned into a trashy spectacle of obliterated twenty-somethings slurring, puking all over themselves and worse – LITTERING in the pristine river.

The group camping next to ours was the filthiest-talking bunch of drunken trashy trashbags I’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting, and unfortunately, I know a lot of trashbags. Some of those neighbors were harassing people on the way to the bathrooms late at night, and it was scary hearing the stuff they were shouting at strangers. Ginnie has always been a safe, fun place to hang out with family, but it doesn’t feel like that anymore. I’m not sure I’d go back on a weekend again. We’re looking at taking this 20-year tradition somewhere else next time.

A STOLEN VACATION DAY

With all the crazy of the past few months, we were beyond ready to start our romantic vacation in Saint Lucia. Only… American Airlines didn’t have a plane for us when we got to the airport! We ended up having to go all the way back home and try again the following day, missing a whole day of vacation and a part of St. Lucia we really wanted to see. Read the whole story here.

The Lessons

FIRING THE EMPIRE OF ONE

When I started out as a blogger in 2006, and even when I turned pro in 2010, the digital world was such a different place than it is now. I used to write a post, slap up whatever photos I had in whatever format, and tell Facebook about it once I published – that was the extent of my workflow. It was EASY to be a blogger. I was so blissfully unaware!

Now, my workflow is massively more complicated. Editing photos, resizing, formatting content, writing and rewriting, editing videos, optimizing for search, publishing and then sharing it on a dozen social media platforms and groups… that’s just a smidge of what goes into one piece of content. Where I used to spend a few hours on a post, now I can spend a whole week!

I still love what I do, and I’m grateful to be able to do it, but the game has changed and I have to change with it. Believe it or not, running a blog (that is also a business) is more than enough work for one person. Add in PR projects, freelance writing gigs, TV appearances and attempting to write my book, and I guess it makes sense that sometimes I feel like I’m drowning. (And I’m the doofus who jumped off the boat in the middle of the ocean with no life jacket!)

I quit this life of work madness 7 years ago for a reason, and now I’ve roped myself back into it. I AM THE PROBLEM in this situation.

In the midst of my existential crisis about just how I can go on as publicist, blogger, wife, functional human and future foster mom, I stumbled across this post, On Firing Myself and Ending the Empire of One.

“FIRE YOURSELF. Outsource some of your life. Because you know what won’t be cute on a tombstone? ‘Her grind was impeccable and she did it all by herself.’ We have no one to prove anything to. Especially for those of us who have established ourselves for over a decade. What other receipts do we need to show? We are usually Type A, perfectionist types who do not know how to let go of reins.”

Providentially just two days later, I found myself in the same room as the spunky author, Luvvie Ajayi. And she drove the message home again. She’s right. I don’t have to do everything myself. And honestly, I can’t. Not if I want to grow and do more and fit it all in. I am maxed out on what I can do on my own.

Something’s got to give. And it’s about to, so stay tuned.

Angie Away - Mexico

WRITING FOR DUMMIES

I’m learning so many tips and tricks as I meander down the path of writing my book. I have had to let go of this burning perfectionism that requires me to type magnificent golden sentences at first stab. There’s a thing called a draft, and I need to accept that it’s ok to revise.

The book is happening, come hell or high water. I’m about 25,000 words in with so much more to go.

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The Next Steps

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

ADVENTURES TO COME

I’m taking things slow in July in an attempt to catch up on content, but I’ll be back in cray-cray travel mode in August. Thus far, I’m booked for a girls’ trip to New Orleans with Alex and Kristin, and then off to Sandy Springs, Ga., with Travel Mindset. At the end of the month, Rachel and I are going on a super fun road trip sponsored by Wyndham Rewards. In between those trips, Alex is coming to visit and I’m going to my first ever Cirque de Soleil show.

Angie Away Saint Lucia

TO EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON

Remember all those seeds I planted last time around? Well, now we have about 30 plants that are just exploding tomatoes all over the backyard. We also have an abundance of basil, a variety of hot peppers and a random fig tree that I’m not quite sure what to do with. Basil fig pepper jelly? Figgy pepper basil tomato soup? If you have recipes to help me use up any of this bounty, I’m all ears.

The seeds I planted about us getting foster kids… well, perhaps that was a bit premature. When you make the decision to become foster parents, there are many, many steps to take. Rick & I are at the beginning of the journey. DCF doesn’t just drop kids in your lap after you write about it! We still have classes to take, bedrooms to make over and pool fences & alarm systems to set up. And I am pretty adamant about finishing my book draft before kids arrive, otherwise the likelihood I’ll write it shrinks to a scientific 1%.

So that’s the topline look at the past 90 days. Looking back, I might’ve just solved my unexplained exhaustion…

I want to hear from you! Where are you going next? What did you think about our St. Lucia videos? Have you signed up for my newsletter yet?

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  • July 04, 2017

    Ahhhh I love seeing your pool from a drone’s eye view! So cool. Guess it’s time for me to plan my next trip to your place already 😉

    Also, super bummer about Ginnie Springs—I’ve been wanting to go ever since I first read about it on your site!
    Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate recently posted..June 2017 Highlights: The Highs + LowsMy Profile

  • July 08, 2017
    Jamie Kralicek

    Angie,
    You know Aunti J. always loves your beautiful – wonderful descriptions of your travels and adventures. So sorry you are having various health inconveniences (what a drag) !!
    I am praying for your complete fullness of health.
    May God bless you and Rick and the rest of your family.
    Love to all….. Jamie

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