Unpopular opinion: I’m so stinking relieved the holidays are over! I love the season, I really do, and having a worldwide reason to think about Jesus makes my heart smile… but now that the hullaballoo starts like 100 days before Christmas, it’s even more build up and preparation and furious planning than ever before. It’s way too much for my sensitive little soul to bear sometimes with all the expectations and potential for disappointment. I should probably leave the country and live in a little stone house on a deserted Greek Island from September to December 31, but then I might miss something and you know how my FOMO gets the best of me.
All that aside, we had a good holiday and hope you did, too. After a dramatic year of really not knowing how things were going to turn out, we all ended up at my parents’ house (now mostly put back together after Hurricane Irma in 2017) on Christmas Day. We even took a family picture in a spot that was covered in about 3-4 feet of floodwater the year prior.
Life is like that, isn’t it? Sometimes you’re on dry ground and suddenly everything is stormy and underwater and then you’re in a season of cleaning up and finding a new normal. The only constant in life is change, and for me, my faith.
There’s not much you can do about circumstances and stressors and hurricanes and the way other people behave, but you can control how you react.
It would appear that is the great lesson of my thirties. Also, caffeine is just not going to happen for me.
I’ve always loved the week between Christmas and New Year’s because it’s a quiet, built-in time for pivoting, reflecting and refocusing. In addition to shoveling cake and sugary things down my throat with purpose the week before New Year’s resolutions kick in, I spend a good chunk of time reflecting and goal-setting for next year. As a hard-wired planner, this week is basically my Super Bowl.
Part of reflecting on the year means taking a look back at each edition of Reflections from the Road. It always reminds me how far I’ve come and just how much I’ve accomplished.
Join me for a look back at the last 90 days and a peek at what 2019 has in store!
THE JET SISTERS DEBUT
I spent my 37th birthday filming the first episode of The Jet Sisters in Chicago. Rachel took me to Pie in the Sky on Willis Tower’s Skydeck and I saw Hamilton for the first time, for goodness sake. (If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching us sob over the last scene in the CIBC Theater, do yourself a favor and watch the video.) I used to hate working on my birthday, but this year it was a really special way to spend it.
Rae and I battled Impostor Syndrome to get to this point, more than you can imagine. We’ve been working on our idea for 10 years+, and like most women, we believed everything had to be perfect before we could put it out into the world. (See also: my long-awaited memoir, screenplay, every single blog post ever.) But if you look around, the most successful folks really are the ones who believe they’re great even if they’re just ok. (And there’s that funny tote bag: Lord, grant me the confidence of a mediocre white man.) So we decided to go for it, be less than perfect and put our baby out there. And to our surprise, we’ve heard nothing but positive feedback. YAY!
Rae and I have been busting our butts to churn out fun, funny travel content, so if you haven’t seen what we’ve been up to, here’s a look!
Top Adventures with The Jet Sisters from the Last 90 Days
- Road Tripping to Scranton With Two Superfans of The Office | Video
- Ultimate Guide to a Mississippi Delta Road Trip | Video
- 7 Epic Adventures in Niagara Falls | Video
Eagle-eyed readers have noticed we haven’t been sending most posts directly to your inbox anymore. We are trying something new where we are only sharing newsletters and special announcements in order to keep your inbox clutter free. So if you’re wondering why you haven’t been hearing from us as often, that’s why! If you want to know immediately when we post something new, keep an eye on our social media channels. We always link to new content there.
THREE MARRIED YEARS
Rick and I have officially been married longer than we dated – wow! We celebrated by buying another house. Um, what?!?!? We certainly didn’t plan on it so it’s thrown us for a bit of a loop, but when God drops an opportunity in your lap, sometimes you just have to say yes and know He always provides and takes care of his kids. Someday it’ll be a gorgeous AirBnB and for now, it’s a cute rental.
For the first time we actually spent our anniversary at home — we’re trying not to plan travel during hurricane season anymore because we just keep having to cancel. We celebrated a little early with an escape to London in September and had a great photo shoot with Flytographer at Tower Bridge and Shad Thames. That shoot was the best anniversary gift we could’ve given each other.
Want to book a Flytographer shoot on your next trip? Use CODE67210 for $25 off.
BACK TO BAHAMAS
Once hurricane season was officially over, Rick and I took a real vacation to The Bahamas. It was our first trip back since our disastrous destination wedding debacle, and I really just wanted to erase the bad taste from that whole thing. And of course, it worked. We explored a new hotel in Nassau, played roulette until the wee hours, hopped a teensy plane to Long Island and ate all the conch salad, drank all the Kalik and soaked up the real Bahamas we know and love. Rick even caught his first bonefish on a fly rod. The Bahamas is right back in my heart where it belongs.
PAGING DR. HOUSE
Where are the doctors who stay awake all night trying to figure out what’s wrong with you? I actually like most of mine, but good luck getting them to call with test results. This year, I’ve had a HIDA scan, colonoscopy, CT scan, ultrasound, two MRIs, five blood work ups and about 13 X-rays. I’ve seen a gastroenterologist, gynecologist, rheumatologist, GP, physical therapist, masseuse and a chiropractor, to the tune of around $10,000.
The verdict? Shrugs and referrals for more tests and more doctors.
All those tests and still I don’t have a diagnosis. On the positive side, there are plenty of things we’ve ruled out — like, aggressive cancer and an alien living in my gallbladder.
Not knowing is not awesome, especially because I feel worse than I did at the beginning of the 2018. I have to believe we’re getting closer, but every single doctor appointment fills me with dread because I know something is coming. Not knowing stinks, but knowing is probably pretty rough, too.
In January, I’ll be sharing some of the things I’ve implemented this year to take care of myself in the meantime. When doctors don’t know what to do, it’s all up to you, you know?
I don’t know what they’re teaching kids in PR school these, but if it’s how to ghost a journalist after multiple positive conversations, how to write misogynistic press releases, how to get the influencer to do all the work your agency is actually paid handsomely to do or how to lie to your face, well then everyone gets at A+. Ok, that’s a bit harsh, because I have worked with some wonderful PR people this year, truly. People I’d be proud to hire if I ever expanded my services into a full-service agency.
But real talk. I would not have kept my job in NYC very long if I’d behaved the way so many publicists I’ve encountered this year have.
I try really hard to always turn in excellent work, so when others don’t hold up their end of the bargain, that really gets my goat.
Anyone who tells you being a blogger/influencer is always carefree traveling fun and easy money is probably trying to sell you an ebook or a blogging course. ???? That said, wanna sign up for my blogging retreat or one-on-one consulting?
LOOKING FOR LOVELY
I got the most wonderful Bible study by Annie F. Downs for my birthday and it has me shook and woke in the best possible way. It’s called Looking for Lovely | Collecting the Moments that Matter and it’s a 6-week dive into finding the small things to be grateful for. I am as blessed as a person could be, so you wouldn’t think it would be that hard to be positive all the time, but here’s the thing.
I’m equal parts 1 (Reformer) and 3 (Achiever) on the Enneagram spectrum; basically a purposeful, controlling, over-achieving, pragmatic, image-conscious perfectionist. (So I’m fun. My poor husband.) Being wired this way makes me very focused on the next thing. I don’t usually stop to reflect on the good, the successful, the wonderful. Instead – and working in publicity for so long has made that tendency even worse – I am always processing how to improve, how to streamline and how to do better next time. (See above. Everyone should be excellent always.)
This study has been such a pleasant, sweet way to slow down and take stock of the lovely things in life. And gratitude really is the only way to get by in this insane world. If you’re looking to be more grateful and focused and positive in 2019, I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
Where do you fall on the Enneagram?
The Jet Sisters celebrating the holidays at Disney
LIKE ME PLEASE
As much as I absolutely adore creating content, there’s an ugly side that gets me down. It’s not mentally healthy to have a career that depends on other people’s perceptions of your work, but the only way to gauge if what we’re doing is any good is via feedback, likes and shares. And because my work is basically my personal life, photographed and translated into words on social media, I get daily performance reviews on my life from lots of strangers. That’s probably the worst part of being an “influencer.” I don’t want my self worth to ride on what other people think of me… and yet, it kind of has to if I’m going to have any kind of net worth, because that’s what brand partners want to see. Quality content means very little without engagement and followers. It’s just altogether a bit gross.
I started Angie Away for me… never thought of the “brand” long-term or the reader, past family and friends. I have always gone where I wanted and chosen the projects that appealed to me personally, so I do think I’ve managed to strike a good balance in the years that I’ve done this professionally.
But at the end of the day, the blogger space that had 50 people in it when I started now has tens or hundreds of thousands, and if you don’t stir the political pot, wax controversial or have all the photos of your booty at the pool, engagement suffers.
It’s something Rae and I discuss often. Ultimately, we’re just never going to be those folks, so we may well fade away in the next few years and have to do something else. Only time will tell where we end up! (Will we give in and wear thongs at some schwanky infinity pool at age 75? If you’re lucky.)
The Next Steps
We can make our plans but God determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9
IT’S BUSINESS TIME
Rachel and I have one big goal for 2019: work smarter, not harder. (Don’t even remind me that it has been my goal for like 10 years. I KNOW.) In addition to filming a zillion episodes of The Jet Sisters, we are focusing on SEO, blogging retreats & workshops, consulting and doing more of what we love and less of what we are bored with. We are scaling back on media events, social media for the sake of social media and partners who are unprofessional or just otherwise draining.
Writing my memoir and a screenplay is evermore at the top of my list, and I might just finish the memoir draft next year. If this all sounds like a lot for someone with health dramas, it probably is. But I’m nothing if not optimistic (or stubborn) and vehemently opposed to slowing down for as long as its within my power.
There’s a million things I haven’t done. But just you wait, just you wait. -Hamilton
Everyone has their vice, ok? Some people spend all their discretionary income on drugs. Some spend it on clothes and accessories for their dogs. (Ahem, sister.) Some spend it on fishing. (Ahem, husband.) I spend mine on hip-hop Broadway musicals about the Founding Fathers. Seeing Hamilton again on Feb. 3 in Orlando. I’m literally already crying.
The next 90 days will find us (together and separately) filming, speaking and galavanting in London, Paris, New York City, New Orleans and of course, fabulous Orlando. And that’s just what we have confirmed so far! There are so many trips and campaigns in the works for 2019. It has been pure torture waiting for January to finally get here so work can pick back up and conversations can continue. I love the holidays but for a gal who gets a little jolt of dopamine every time I get an email about new projects, I need my fix!
Folks have been asking me all year when we’re getting foster kids, and the truth is, I just don’t know. After getting the initial certification, we had to put the plans on hold when my health became a real issue. Rick had a bad (and pricey) bout of kidney stones this year, too. While it might not look like it from the outside, I have limited energy and just as many days on the couch as I do on the road, so I have to use my good days wisely. For now, that means working when I feel good and recovering when I overdo it. They say put your own oxygen mask on before helping those around you, so that has been the unexpected mantra for 2018. I’m praying that in 2019 we’ll have more clarity about when and how we are going to get our little buddies.
So that update was wayyyy longer than anticipated, but now you know what’s new with us. So what are you up to in 2019? Any exciting goals or resolutions?