It was the best of years, it was the worst of years.
Anyone else starting to get the hint that this is how life works? There are ups, there are downs, there is mind numbing stack of paperwork, dentist appointments and medical uncertainty in between scaling mountains both literal and figurative.
The past 90 days were full of work trips and partnerships – well, until December when I intentionally planned to slow things down a bit and enjoy the holidays. Things never go according to plan, you know, so a surprise work opportunity for Rick took him out of town for the entire month of December. The holidays were just a little less festive with him gone. I admit, I got a lot done on my own, but I also moped around and realized how many songs there are about coming home for Christmas and missing the one you love at the holidays. He did get to come home for a few days so that was the best present I could’ve asked for!
Pull down on the lap bar and keep your arms inside the vehicle. It’s time for Reflections from the Road Vol. 41!
2019 : THE GOOD
The best way to navigate the lows is to keep all the blessings at the front of my mind. I started a new tradition a few years ago where I wake up on my birthday and write down one thing I’m grateful for for every year I’ve been alive. Sometimes it’s a slow start with just the obvious stuff coming to mind: salvation, my husband, my family, my work, my house. But once I get going, I can’t stop thanking God for just dumping blessings, provision and favor on me. It’s an amazing way to start a new year of life.
I’m so grateful 2019 has brought:
- A dump truck of opportunity. Every year, December rolls around and the PR/marketing departments who hire me to do projects go quiet for a few months. Last year, the quiet time lasted longer than I expected, and a big client flaked out and left us hanging. I admit, I got a little nervous having just bought an investment property, paying for a full time employee and spending more money than I care to say on healthcare. It did not look good for a minute there… but God. It’s so ridiculous that I have to keep relearning that God always provides for us, but I was starting to wonder if perhaps it was time to hang up my laptop and figure something else out. It wasn’t. The Jet Sisters took off, we had a dozen campaigns over the summer and I had public speaking gigs, video projects and media consulting clients to spare.
- Airbnb. Our Airbnb has been a surprising success (especially after the drama we went through with our first tenant). I like having a project that keeps me busy at home (versus always having to get on a plane to make money) and I enjoy making other people’s trips special, comfy and easy. Countless strangers in my life have stepped in to help me or bless me on my journeys over the years, so it’s nice to have the opportunity to do the same for others in my own little cottage. If you’re coming to Jacksonville in 2020 and need a cute place to stay, get in touch and I’ll send you the link to our cottage.
- A new car. With foster kids on the horizon, it was time to leave my 2-door coupe days in the dust in favor of an SUV with a 3rd row. I thought I’d hate driving a grocery getter, but I really dig it. It’s SO nice not being blinded by everyone’s headlights now that I sit higher up! We got a great deal on a much newer vehicle than I was planning on, too.
THE JET SISTERS: WE DID IT!
One of my favorite things about 2019 is how Rachel and I took our dream to have a travel show together and made it happen. We waited for so long to fit all the pieces in place and one day we just said, ya know what? We need to do this now or we’re going to be in a retirement home (together, of course) wishing we’d followed through. So we did it. We filmed it ourselves, scripted it, did all the destination scouting, editing, etc. And the finished episodes fill me with pride.
If you haven’t watched yet, we need you! And if it makes you laugh, we’d love you to tell a friend. We are lining up episodes for 2020, now so stay tuned.
WE GOT WHISKED AWAY
If you follow along on Instagram stories, you probably know that Whisked Away Surprise Travel truly whisked us away and surprised us with the perfect trip to San Diego. I can’t imagine how I’m going to plan another trip knowing I could just tap Whisked Away to do it and it will be better, more fun and only take 10 minutes from me to coordinate the whole thing. If this sounds like it’s something you need (Enneagram 3s, I’m talking to you), you can read our review here.
RAERAE GOT A RING: THIS IS NOT A DRILL
Who goes to Paris and comes back with storybook proposal pictures, a gorgeous ring and a fiancé who has no idea what he’s getting into? Everyone’s favorite little sister RaeRae, of course.
Has anyone had a better year than this kid?! (Photos from Flytographer are up on Instagram)
We’re so excited to welcome Ben and his sweet family to our world of near constant shenanigans. Stay tuned for a whole calendar year of wedding planning that absolutely HAS to go better than mine. IT HAS TO.
MY PEOPLE CAME TO VISIT
An unforeseen side effect of being a nomad for so long is that my friends are scattered around the world like Sahara sand. Sure, we run into each other in airports and at conferences, but unless you actively coordinate schedules months in advance, it’s hard to get in-person quality time together. I was so, so, so happy to host two of my blogging besties in November. The Internet has kept us close over the years when our travels took us to opposite corners of the globe, but for me there was really something special to have my travel friends in my house in the neighborhood where I grew up. At this point, they’re family, ya know? And the Internet /conferences are great but there’s something to be said for lounging around on the couch for a few cold days just catching up, talking about the more absurd characters in the blogosphere and doing life. I’m so grateful for my people!
Recent Posts You Might Like:
- Why The Bahamas is the No. 1 Place to Visit in 2020
- Ultimate Montana Road Trip Guide
- Theme Park-free Guide to Kissimmee
- Intro to Italy: Sorrento with Monograms
- A New Look at London
2019: THE BAD
There have been some really rough moments this year. I’ve lost friends unexpectedly and mourned with friends who’ve lost family, have been unable to get real answers about my health (going on 3 years of inexplicable pain) and dealt with the fallout from one bad tenant in the rental.
I’ve touched on the rental situation a few times, but until we get through the whole court process, I don’t want to say too much. Basically, before we started Airbnbing, we rented our house to an entitled jackwagon who decided to bite the hand that was literally feeding him. We’ve spent the whole year digging out of the hole he contributed to, so it’s been difficult and demoralizing knowing someone you went out on a limb for actually turned out to be a bad guy.
The lowest low every year is always remembering the people we lost, and 2019 was brutal in snatching up some of the best people you could ever know. It never gets easier, that’s for sure.
My vacation to Italy was not the relaxing escape I craved. We had hotel drama, transportation drama and some unforeseen work drama that basically lead to me dealing with baloney instead of enjoying Sorrento/Capri/Rome. I’m really starting to think perhaps stress-fee vacations are not something I’m meant to have!
ROOT CANALS & PROPERTY TAXES
Well I probably don’t have to elaborate too much on that title… there’s nothing good about either one, eh?!
I just found out, after getting a giant needle stabbed in my gums before getting a crown, that I actually need a root canal, not a crown, for my cracked teeth. So that’s more $ and more work to set it all up. Raise your hand if you hate going to the dentist!
Here’s something else I just found out that is not awesome. If the mortgage company underestimates your property taxes, the payment on your investment home might just go sky high the second year you own it. GRRRR.
Up until recently I really thought most folks just didn’t get me. Surprise! People are just wired differently. My mind processes so quickly, I never realized that I was doing too much, too fast, too hard. I put so much pressure on myself to perform, to create, to constantly be doing. I guess the warning signs were always there but if I work hard enough, I can usually push past any pesky feelings or physical symptoms. Classic Enneagram 3.
Not so much anymore. I can still squash the feelings, but the physical symptoms have me in a bad way.
In several years, dozens of medical tests and thousands and thousands of dollars, only thing we’re coming up with officially is intense chronic stress causing widespread inflammation and pain. That is actually something that kills people and I don’t want to be dead at 38 because I have no chill.
I feel like I’ve learned more about myself this year than ever before, and much of that is thanks to the Enneagram. I was shocked to learn I’m a raging 3w4, and not a perfectionist helper 1w2 like I always thought. I’m trying to move forward in 2020 knowing that feelings are not the enemy of productivity and slowing down or doing less does not diminish my worth as a person. I am not my work. TBH, my inner critic does not like where this is going. Now that I can see the motivation behind why I am this way, I know what I need to do to right the course.
And learning about the Enneagram has been more than just a tool of self discovery. I feel like I get my husband, my sister and my parents SO much better now that I literally have their numbers.
LIVING OUT OF ABUNDANCE, NOT SCARCITY
God is not surprised by anything and he will always provide – those are steadfast principles I can set my watch to. We cannot out-give God. Every good and precious thing I have is His anyway, so I’m recalibrating to remember that I walk in His abundance. Even if the bottom line isn’t as abundant as I’d personally like it to be all the time!
I truly believe I could give away every material thing I have and it would boomerang right back at me. I’ve seen it time and again. On that note, in the midst of financial upheaval this year, we took on our 3rd Compassion child – a teenager from Uganda – because why not? God gives us everything we have, not so we can have everything we want, but so we can help others have everything they need. I want to live by that every day, and having our three kiddos in Uganda and Ecuador reminds me of how faithful God has been to me over the years.
And the day after we signed up for our new child, we got some big, unexpected work news and everything worked out. Every time!
We can make our plans but God determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9
Kindergarten teacher: Angie needs to stay home from school for a few days to relax.
Me: I’m totally fine. Please give me more homework. Can I take another spelling test?
Mom: Kid, you need to chill.
Me: NO, YOU NEED TO CHILL, MOTHER.
Brother: Calm down, dude, you’re so stressed out.
Me: No, I’m not stressed out at all. You’re just an idiot.
Boss: Work 80/hours a week if you want to be successful.
Me: YES. Now we’re talking.
Boss: More. More. More. More. Don’t sleep, you slacker. DO MORE.
Me: Um, ok. (Breaks out in hives, develops debilitating chest pain.)
Masseuse: Were you recently in a car accident? I’ve never felt knots like this.
Me: I’m a publicist in NYC.
Husband: You have got to get your stress under control or it’s going to kill you.
Me: I literally don’t know what you’re talking about. Also, can you carry me to the car? I can’t move because of the muscle spasms.
Me: Honey, I think I might be suffering from … stress?
Husband: Ya think?
Things need to change. My heart knows it, my body knows it, now my brain and I guess the muscle memory needs to get onboard, too.
- Travel less. Take more meaningful, actual vacations and fewer work trips that require me to create constantly.
- Write more. Finish my book.
- Start a new website.
- Do more video because I like it. Focus less on social media, especially Instagram.
- Focus on becoming a foster mom and release my addiction to work and the validation it brings. (This is where my brain is like … “Um, say what now?”)
- Celebrate 5 years of marriage with my criminally good-looking husband.
- Prioritize mental, physical and spiritual health over work, productivity.
In short, I want to say yes to adventures (travel, kids and otherwise) and no to unnecessary stress, like having to quantify my every move in likes and engagement because it’s my job.
BECOMING ESCHET CHAYIL
One of the people we lost in 2019 was Rachel Held Evans. She was a Christian author, wife and young mom of 2, and she passed away unexpectedly in May. Two of her books have made big impacts in my heart this year; A Year of Biblical Womanhood and Searching for Sunday.
There’s a whole chapter dissecting what it means to be the woman mentioned in Proverbs 31. I’ve always thought the chapter was a list of things a good woman *should* do, but Rachel cracked the whole concept open in a way I never considered. You really have to read it to get the whole point, but I took away this idea of eschet chayil, or a woman of valor. Rather than focusing on work goals in 2020, I want to become an eschet chayil.
Life is fragile, as the Bible says our lives are like a mist, a breath or a passing shadow. SHORT. I don’t know how much time I am going to have, so I want 2020 to be a year of intentionality in so much more than work. This is the first time I can remember where my New Year’s resolutions weren’t 95% work related. That’s BIG for me… now if I can just stick with it!
Can y’all hold me accountable this year? Especially if you’ve had similar struggles, I would love to chat about how you navigate chronic stress, perfectionism and workaholism.
Food for thought: what’s your Enneagram number and has knowing about it impacted you / your relationships? Where are you going in 2020? Do you have a word?
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