Can you believe I spent nearly four whole months on the ground? I actually drove other people to the airport and managed to resist the urge to buy a ticket on the spot and go with them. This is new territory for Angie Away! The great news is that I finally came off travel hiatus for a trip to the Caribbean… details below!
Country No. 42. So which lucky destination broke my grounded streak? It was the Dominican Republic, country no. 42. I just returned from an action packed week there yesterday and have so many photos to share and a new appreciation for organic chocolate, cigars and sweet Barcelo rum. And I loved colonial Santo Domingo – loved, loved, loved, and am ready to go back. The DR is a country with rich flavor, both historic and where taste buds are concerned, and they’re really doing some neat things in the realm of sustainable tourism. Watch for my first post in the next week or so, and check out Tequia Experiences if you’re planning a trip.
Apartment. I did it! I signed a lease for a whole year in a bright and shiny new apartment in Jacksonville. Settling in has been such a strange and wonderful experience. It’s crazy how much my decorating style has evolved after two years on the road. I’m much more likely to incorporate patterns and colors now (thanks to Bali, Morocco and Greece), where before I was a bit simplistic. I’ve been Instagramming my DIY furniture rehabbing projects like mad, and will be posting about them soon. Stay tuned!
Florida Travel. While I haven’t flown anywhere but the DR in 2013, I’ve made the most of my brand new car and road-tripped to several nearby destinations in Florida, visiting Amelia Island, St. Augustine and Orlando in the past few weeks. There’s much to do and see in my own backyard, and I’m loving being able to experience it with the fresh eyes of a seasoned traveler. Check out my post 5 Places to Experience 500 Years of Florida if you’re planning a visit.
I also returned to One Ocean Resort in Atlantic Beach, Fla., to experience their glorious spa and an OSEA treatment, the Sea of Life Facial. You know I often find it hard to sit still for stuff like that, but I was so relaxed and soothed by the all-natural, organic OSEA products that I drifted off to sleep a few times. Sigh. Why can’t every day be a spa day?
Generation W. Early in May, I attended my first ever Generation W conference, a women’s event founded by former WNBA President and powerhouse of a woman Donna Orender. Gen W is a platform for women to be educated, inspired and connected, and I know I was during the conference on April 5. I had the great honor of live blogging two of the sessions during the event, so you can check them out here:
Friends & Family Time. While there’s not always much to do in Jacksonville, I find my calendar has been chock full with family & friend-related events. In the past two months, my mom graduated, we celebrated mom’s 50-something and my grandma’s 70th birthday, my high school pal Audrey married her sweetheart Spencer, I’ve watched my brother perform with his band and as a guest drummer at a friend’s benefit concert, my sister and I road-tripped to Orlando for a photo shoot, singing the Disney Pandora station all the way and laughing our heads off. It seems like every weekend there’s someone’s birthday or celebration, and though that’s a complete 180 from my life of traveling solitude the past two years, I do enjoy being around for all the milestones.
Lest I forget the downsides of travel. It’s been rather easy to gloss over the not-so-shiny parts of being a wanderer as I’ve been focusing so much on being present in my new life in Jacksonville. The worst travel experience of the last 60 days of course was the dramatic, police-involved screaming fest that was my night at the St. Augustine La Quinta Inn. I don’t think I’ll ever recover from that ridiculous evening.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be air travel without some bumps, right? On the way home from the Dominican, something was wrong with our airplane so we ended up with an 8-hour delay, causing us (me and two other writers) to wander frigid Miami airport like zombies all night as we awaited our rebooked connections. I appreciate that American Airlines put safety first – no one wants to fly on a broken plane – and their Twitter customer service was so helpful in rebooking me on a flight the next morning. The ground crew in the DR left MUCH to be desired, as did the open-air terminal filled with hungry mosquitos, but that’s travel, right? You take the good with the bad.
Delinquent clients. What is with clients who won’t pay? I’m currently owed about $7,000 from freelance PR clients who seem to think they can pay me in goodwill. What is that? I can’t eat goodwill, and I surely can’t pay my rent with it. And I’m especially annoyed with the ones who aren’t reimbursing me for expenses incurred working on their projects.
Ah well. I know God will provide, but now that I have a lease and bills it has become such a daily exercise in faith.
Adjusting takes time. While my family and a smattering of friends reside in Jacksonville, I’ve yet to find my place here. I’m constantly reminding myself that it takes time to find a niche in a new town, even when it’s the town where you grew up. I’m slowly working on figuring out how to do this life I’ve signed up for – at least for the next year. Once my lease is up, I make no promises!
Everything (and everyone) doesn’t have to be perfect. I’ve always suffered from perfectionism – and I realize how silly that might sound. “Oh, my biggest weakness? I’m so perfect!” But that’s not what I mean. I demand perfection from myself and from those in my life, and I’m slowly learning to accept others for the things they do that make them maybe not-so-perfect, including myself.
AND, that perfectionism has spread to outfitting my apartment. I had to lay out a ton of cash upfront considering I had no furniture or bed or dishes or anything to start my new life… and I found myself wanting every last detail perfect immediately. I’m learning that everything doesn’t have to be amazing and it’s not the end of the world if I have to wait a while until I can afford bedside tables or rugs or miscellaneous household wares. I have enough to live comfortably, and at least until my clients pay me, that’ll have to do. And that’s ok.
We can make our plans but God determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9
THE YEAR OF ANGE. Since my last Reflections from the Road update, I promised to have an apartment, a new church home, a few more destinations under my belt. And I’m getting there! Now that I have my own place and some time to myself, I’ve been able to tackle my list of resolutions with a bit more chutzpah. So where do I stand?
Lose 20 lbs. – Working on it. Stuck at about -2. It’s been tough.
Write a book. – Haven’t even started.
Volunteer locally & abroad. – Haven’t even started.
Read 24 books. – Just finished Martin Eden by Jack London and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. 2 down, 22 to go.
Get an apartment. – CHECK!
Find a new church. – Have checked out two churches in Jacksonville and want to visit a few more before committing.
Summer Travel Plans. In the next 60 days, I’m scheduled to visit Ginnie Springs, Amelia Island, Orlando, possibly NYC and who knows where else? In July, I’m spending 2 weeks in Alaska and the rest of 2013 is looking to be quite busy, though nothing nearly as wild as the past two years.
Business partnerships in the works. I have some incredible projects on the horizon, though I can’t discuss any of them just yet. Before they start though, I’m available for freelance copywriting, PR or social media consulting – that is, if you pay on time! =)
As always, I couldn’t do any of this without your faithful readership, so thank you for sticking with me through the ups, downs, delays, imperfections and all! Leave me a note in the comments – I would love to hear from you!
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