That awkward moment when you look at your resolutions and intentions for 2017 and realize you can copy and paste them, almost verbatim, to 2018. Merp.
It’s not like I just sat around all year, ya know? I started waking up earlier and kicking off my day with a devotional, journaling and prayer. I lost quite a bit of weight during the first few months. 2017 was my busiest and most productive year as an entrepreneur. I turned down anything that didn’t serve my ultimate goals and did better financially than ever before. I hired Rachel to help with the workload – best decision I made all year! And I wrote a few hundred thousand words for the blog and for various freelance assignments.
On the home front, Rick and I crushed some serious DIY projects in 2017. We installed a pool, a ginormous deck and a brand new home office. We cultivated a delicious garden filled with peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage and herbs. In the past 90 days alone we hosted multiple dinner parties, a Thanksgiving feast and a Christmas party for my Bolivian Compassion child and her family. We volunteered a good bit, finished our foster care classes, traveled to two new countries together and through God’s provision, exceeded our charitable giving goal – one we thought was crazy and impossible to achieve when we set it.
I feel great about what we/I accomplished in 2017 — that is until I revisited my actual “goals.” And then it seems like I didn’t even move the needle. I only wrote a few chapters of my book. All that weight I lost piled right back on the moment my foot started acting up, I slipped a few discs in my back and I got overloaded with work. We didn’t finish the whole process for foster kids. Hurricane Irma showed up and blew us right off course for much of the end of the year.
So, like anything I guess, 2017’s success all depends on how you look at it. Maybe I didn’t crush every single goal. That’s what 2018 is for, am I right?!
My motto this year is “For real this time.”
Here’s how we spent the past 90 days and a peek at what’s to come in 2018.
THE EMERALD ISLE
I don’t know why it took me so long to get to Ireland/Northern Ireland, but it’s one of those destinations I’m already aching to revisit. It was a trip of firsts: Rick’s first trip to Europe and first time driving on the “other” side of the road; our first time sleeping in a castle; our first time trying to cram way too much into just a week. The holidays and work projects have taken priority in the past few weeks so I’ve barely had time to process, but rest assured, there’s a whole mountain of stories and gorgeous green photos from our Irish road trip coming your way in the very near future.
Did you see the first story? Tales from the Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland
THE ORTH REMEMBERS
Rick and I spent our 2nd wedding anniversary in Northern Ireland, kicking off the fun at Castle Ward – or Winterfell, for all you Game of Thrones fans. Despite getting desperately lost on the way (thanks for nothing, GPS!) and having my first of several total meltdowns as a result of narrow roads and left-side driving, we had the best time exploring the set where so much of the show is filmed.
Afterward, we made our way to Belfast for the night where we ran into Sansa, Bran, Brienne, Ser Jorah and Jon FREAKING Snow in various locations around town. GoT cast members are just everywhere you look! It was more than a bit exciting for us to see them all on our pilgrimage to the North, and it really set the tone for the trip. I am not quite sure how we will be able to top this anniversary in 2018!
2017 started off slowly with client projects and influencer campaigns, which was great, because the quieter schedule allowed me to set a foundation that carried me through the rest of the year. Once campaigns and PR projects picked up, I was busier than I ever could’ve imagined! More than once, in the midst of crazy launches, media events and travels, I found myself thanking God for giving me the freedom to work in the way that suits me best. I get to pick and choose the brands I work with and the destinations I visit, and I do not take that for granted.
In the past 90 days, I worked with The Walking Company, Jockey, Florida’s Space Coast, Katherine Way and One Ocean Resort, and my ongoing projects with Travelocity and Universal Orlando brought me all the way to the end of the year. I don’t know why I’m surprised, but 2018 is looking to be even busier and filled with work I really love to do.
BOLIVIANS IN FLORIDA
I’ve sponsored a child through Compassion International since 2006 or so and she came to visit me in December. Very few people actually get to meet their sponsored child in person, much less host them, so this was the best Christmas present ever ever ever. We only had a few days together but it was enough to share some of our favorite experiences in Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Orlando. More about the experience below in The Lessons.
MY DREAMY HOME OFFICE
My home office renovation is complete and I’m in LOVE with my new space. We went with bright white and crisp grays, some Fixer Upper-inspired shiplap and an IKEA sofa from Jacksonville’s brand new store. Rick did everything but design & paint and it turned out even better than I imagined it. The man can build anything! Tour of my new HQ coming soon to the blog soon.
As much fun as traveling as a couple is, our visit to Ireland wasn’t all four-leaf clovers. Rick was such a champ driving us almost 1,000 miles over the week, but even with his pro skills, I was in a pretty constant state of hysteria on the narrow, walled streets. I’m a fussy passenger on the best of days, but driving on the “wrong” side of the road and sitting in the “wrong” side of the car was a bit much for me. Add to that the message we got from our insurance company a few days later that clarified that we were not, in fact, insured to drive outside the U.S. ACK! We white-knuckled every turn. There may have been some impassioned yelling, a few tears, a wee bit of hyperventilating. Rick took my panic in stride, but next time, for everyone’s sake we’re going with a tour guide!
And then there was the whole runaway horse incident. Ya know, I’ve talked about it a few times in past posts so I won’t rehash all the deets, but like… I’m fully done with horses. I don’t need to ride one or be attached to one ever again. Tearing through Killarney National Park in an out-of-control, driverless carriage and a spooked horse was one adventure I had not counted on!
Again, Rick was the hero, picking up one of the reins and slowing the horse down as best he could. (What would I do without him?!) It was one of the more frightening incidents of my travel career and easily could’ve ended up with us in the hospital or worse.
We continued to deal with the fallout from a wicked hurricane season. Rick waited and waited and waited to find out if he might be sent to Puerto Rico for work, so we were unsure about the rest of the year. It definitely threw off some of our plans and put us behind, especially on the foster care front.
You all know my parents’ ground floor flooded, and they were actually better off than just about everyone else in town. Hundreds of our neighbors lost everything. Almost everyone I went to high school with was affected in some way, and people are still waiting on FEMA and living in hotels. It’s wild what one flash flood can do to a town!
The physical damage can be fixed – in fact, I do have some good news on that front. Mom has insulation and walls up – just in time for this absurd icy front we’re getting this week. (Snow in Jacksonville tomorrow?!) Other things aren’t as easy to fix. Emotionally, there’s been a lot to process. Relationally… well, I don’t even know what to say. While there were so many who stepped in to help, volunteer and donate, there was also a shocking void of concern from other friends and family members that left me scratching my head. Folks who should’ve been there weren’t, and as much as I wish I didn’t care, I really do. Still digging through the weeds on that, if I’m being honest.
This is a two-parter. PART ONE > I went on my first short term mission trip with my church in Atlanta in 2005. I was 23 and just trying to figure my life out, and I was super broke. My PR agency job barely paid me enough to survive. I did not have margin or extra, but I did feel called to serve. I stepped out in faith and signed up for a mission trip to Bolivia. It was there I met Issett and her family. We had an instant connection and it’s one of the reasons I went back again in 2006 and 2007, and why I decided to support Issett through Compassion.
Years and years passed. I moved from Atlanta to NYC. Quit that life and traveled the world. Found myself back in Florida, married with a house. Through it all, Issett and I have been writing each other letters every couple of months. The cute little girl I read Bible stories to in Spanish is now 18, graduated from high school and finding her way in the world. I’m proud to have been a part of her story, and blessed that God put us together. Getting to spend time together back in December was a highlight of my whole year!
When I read commentary on the futility of short-term missions, I get a bit defensive. If you want to make a short-term mission into a long-term relationship, you can. Staying close with a Bolivian family in a completely different situation than me hasn’t always been easy, but it’s been one of the most fulfilling relationships of my life. These folks were strangers and now they’re family.
God’s work done God’s way will never lack God’s resources.
PART 2 > I was BROKE when I started sponsoring Issett through Compassion. I did not have extra money and I was most concerned that I would not be able to make the monthly payment and that I would let her down. But God never let me down. Not when I was just starting out and had no money. Not when I quit my job and had no income. Not when I started this whole Angie Away journey 7 years ago. And now, He’s provided enough that we have TWO Compassion kids and are hoping to start the foster care journey soon. If I’ve learned anything from supporting Issett, it’s that our Heavenly Father is generous and He loves to love on his children!
The Next Steps
We can make our plans but God determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9
2018 IS THE YEAR OF:
Foster kids. We are focusing on making our house kid friendly and home-study ready this year. I also need to supersize my vehicle from 2-door coupe to SUV. I don’t know when it will all happen, but we are about as ready as we’ll ever be.
Hamilton. Rae and I obsessed over the soundtrack all throughout 2017, but we still haven’t had the chance to see it live. This is happening in 2018. Literally, it is the ONLY THING I WANT ALL YEAR. (Someone please tell my husband.)
Getting fit. I mean. This has been my main resolution every year since I was about 6. (And that’s the saddest thing anyone has ever written.) I finally feel healthy enough to get back in the gym with a vengeance. My scarred appendix, jacked-up foot and wonky spine are just going to have to deal with it.
Video content. Get excited, y’all! Rae and I are finally filming our web series – The Jet Sisters. A. It’s going to be so much fun and you are going to LOVE it. B. This year will be a deciding factor in where we take this blogging / influencing career, and since Facebook doesn’t show much anymore and Instagram is being finicky with its algorithms, we are going to need your help getting the word out and sharing once we finally film and publish.
Being pickier than ever. I have so much on the agenda that I can’t even say yes to everything I want to say yes to, much less the yahoos who still email me every single day asking me to write about their products and publicize their destinations in my free time out of the goodness of my heart. I’m cutting out some projects that are more drama than they’re worth this year and adding a few new partners who “get it.” I can’t wait to share details of this year’s coming attractions!
Finishing my book. I really mean it this year, you guys.
Cheers to crushing it in the new year! “For real this time!”