God-willing, when this post publishes, Rick & I will be swimming in mojitos on the Star Pride, one of Windstar Cruise’s six luxurious yachts. As you’ve probably noticed from my dispatches from our Ireland road trip, that wasn’t exactly a relaxing romantic vacation, what with the runaway horse and the multiple freakouts brought on by driving on the other side of the road. It was more of a rom-com misadventure than anything… so yes, we are over-the-moon excited to team up with Windstar to explore the Caribbean in the most fabulous way this month.
If you need a jolt of wanderlust or just some daydream inspiration (and who doesn’t?), head on over to my Instagram for real-time turquoise seas and rum drinks from our balcony.
In the meantime, here are some highs & lows from the past 90 days.
You probably saw all over Instagram Stories that Rachel and I filmed a video at Universal Orlando back in January. We’ve seen the first cut and are awaiting an official release date. I hope you like it as much as I do, and I hope you’ll help us share it so we can do more video content like that in the future. Coming soon to an Internet near you.
WRITING RETREAT (AND SPA!)
Rae had this amazing idea that we should get away for a few days on a quarterly basis just to write, so we drove up to the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island to do just that a few weeks back. Once we put our phones in airplane mode, we finished almost 10 posts between us, and had time left over to get stress relief massages and to eat a magnificent dinner at Salt. You have not lived until you’ve had their ribeye with a lobster on top, y’all. Thanking the Lord we live only 45 minutes away so Rick and I can drive up for dinner anytime we want!
JUST AN HONOR TO BE NOMINATED
Award season is upon us and don’t think for a moment that doesn’t trickle down to the blogger world. I was thrilled to win a bronze (North American Travel Journalist Association) NATJA award in the Travel Trade category and to be a finalist in Luxury Travel for my story on Jade Mountain. My site was also recognized as a finalist in the Travel Blog category. After paying my dues as a freelancer/blogger/influencer since before blogging was even considered a profession, it’s really a treat to be recognized by my peers. Makes all the hard work and behind-the-scenes slogging seem a little less sloggy.
We finally hired someone to do a deep clean of our house and y’all. It was the best thing that happened to me in 2018. Why did I wait so long to do this? I now look forward to cleaning day more than just about anything else. And it saves me so much time scrubbing and fussing at Rick over scrubbing, and I can finally let go of the guilt over not getting enough done and not having enough time in a day to be both a domestic diva and a lady boss.
Of course Vader and Leia came over for an extended visit with Alex was in Israel with Rachel, so the house got dirty fast, but good news: the cleaners can come back anytime I like. My cup overfloweth, y’all.
STRESSED SPELLED BACKWARDS IS DESSERTS
As much as I don’t want to admit it, operating at DEFCON 10 for… well, 30+ years… is finally catching up with me in a tangible, unavoidable way. Over the past few months, I’ve started to see (and been forced to accept) that my body is not going to function forever at crisis level. It’s not made to, actually, and it’s miraculous that I’ve been able to keep things moving like this as long as I have. But I’m starting to fall apart, little by little, and the past couple months have handed me plenty of signs that point to taking a serious break and making some major life changes. ASAP.
SPEAKING OF STRESS
While gardening with Rick the other day, I started to have weird spots in my vision. I thought perhaps I got some plant goo in my eyes, but the blurry spots turned to prisms and I really got freaked out. I Googled my symptoms but couldn’t see the results on my phone! So I did what any wigged out grown-up would do: I called my Mom. Sure enough, I was having an ocular migraine. And you’ll just die of shock when you find out the supposed cause: stress.
A DIFFERENT DISNEY
There’s nothing quite so heartbreaking as visiting a place from childhood and finding it distinctively less magical than you remembered. Rae and I went to Disney for an afternoon of frolicking and rides, but it was overshadowed by epic crowds, aggressive stroller pushers and absurdly long lines. I’m ok with 45 minutes here and there for a roller coaster and a spike of adrenaline, but 3.5 hours for the Seven Dwarves Mine Train? Girl, bye. It was my first visit in almost 10 years, and I’m sad to admit that I won’t be rushing back anytime soon.
I bought an Apple Watch a few weeks ago and am totally smitten. Because of its encouragements and notifications throughout the day, I am remembering to breathe, meditate, walk around and work out. I’ve been lifting weights, swimming laps, getting my steps in on the treadmill and just generally moving more since I bought it. All the charts and graphs dissecting my heart rate and calories have me in nerd-heaven, too. I’m an Apple aficionado, so I can’t believe I’m only just discovering this fun little tool! Will write more about it in the coming months.
STOP AND DO NOT PASS GO
It took visiting a sick friend to realize that I’ve been ignoring my own health red flags for far too long. The majority of my issues are stress-related, and it’s completely up to me to start reversing the damage I’ve done. I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until things were past the point of an easy fix.
I feel like I’ve said this before, but I have come to the decision, once again, (but for real this time), that I have to make some changes. If I don’t respond to every text or do every fun campaign that comes my way or even go to the movies on Friday night, then that’s just how it has to be for a season.
A few quick fixes:
- I’ve turned over my email to Rachel so before I get flummoxed with the media kit requests, consulting proposals and people asking for favors and free work, she organizes, files, categorizes and deletes things. By the time I get in there, it’s a much less chaotic place.
- I’ve started meditating every day. Since last year, I’ve made it a point to have a daily quiet time where I read my Bible and journal, but I’ve added quiet breathing and deliberate meditation to that, too. I’ve signed up for two apps: Calm and Abide, and already feel like this new habit is going a long way. I notice a marked difference in how I feel on the days where I don’t start with meditation.
- I’m attempting to be nicer to myself. It sounds simple, but I push myself to the point of exhaustion far too often. There’s no reason, where I’m my own boss, that I should have to burn the candle at both ends. I think a lot of it has to do with growing up on a restricted income. I let worry over providing control my decisions. God is the one who provides for me, not the other way around. I may have to say no a little more often, but in that margin, I am finding the space I need to be my best self. A.k.a. not a crazy person.
Getting to this place took decades, so I can’t expect to just right the ship in a couple of weeks. I’m a work in progress these days, y’all, so thanks for your patience!
The diamond in my engagement ring FELL OUT while I was telling a story at dinner one night. Fortunately, I happened to see a little sparkly thing on my shirt. I thought it was a piece of food though and was flabbergasted when I came to the slow realization that my diamond had just jumped ship. I’ve been putting off insuring this thing but now it’s a top priority. Anyone love their jewelry insurer?
The Next Steps
We can make our plans but God determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9
TO EVERYTHING, THERE IS A SEASON
The first quarter of the year historically tends to be slow in the blogging world, so it was perfect timing to have a huge PR consulting project while we stayed close to home, strategizing for influencer work for the rest of 2018. Rachel and I are going to be busy little sister bees!
We’ve got trips to Mississippi and New Orleans in the works, and in between, Rae is spending a whole month in Texas (much to my dismay – what will I do without my Mini-Me?). I’m wrapping up some big PR projects and turning my attention to book writing this summer, with a goal of having something pitchable by no later than August.
WORKSHOP COMING SOON
Folks ask me all the time how to get into the travel writing / blogging / influencer world, and as much as I wish there was a quick and easy answer, the reality is that it’s a lengthy process that takes much more than a coffee date to share. I am working out the details of a super fun, hands-on, multi-day workshop to help answer this question, so if you’re serious about starting down this path or have been floundering for a few years and want to improve your game, work with more brands and destinations and increase your traffic, I’ve got you. Coming later this year or early 2019, likely in Florida.
Before we left for the Caribbean, we planted seeds and prepped our garden so when we return, things are gonna be sprouting all over the place. I’m looking forward to Spring/Summer, and the growth and renewal that come with longer days and more sunshine.