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Reflections from the Road | Vol. 45

What can I say that hasn’t already been said about 2020? On a macro level, it was a flaming-bag-of-poo-on-the-front-porch kind of year, but we had more than our fair share of blessings on the micro level, too. 

Fun fact: the word I chose in advance for 2020 was NO. I meant, NO to things I wasn’t wild about in order to make room for things I really wanted to do.

So I guess the universe took me pretty literally because after March, basically every door closed, every project cancelled and every plan was put on hold. It was tough to stomach at first – March and April were hard, weren’t they? I cried a lot. But I’ve wrapped my head around things a bit more and we’ve pivoted as best as we can under the circumstances. 

All that said, I’m not going to write a whole 2020 recap this year. I just don’t feel like it… and life’s too short to write stuff you don’t want to write. But I do have this shiny 45th edition of Reflections from the Road here just in time to kick off the new year. 

I miss traveling and I mourn the loss of the dreams that weren’t meant to be in 2020, but I’ve settled into this odd new rhythm for now. I actually really needed a yearlong break from my own ambitious schedule, and I never would’ve taken it myself. (I’ve tried.) 

Ten years ago this week, I left for my RTW trip. It was only supposed to last a year, but here we are in 2020. Things have changed wildly in travel, in blogging, in my personal life, but I know – in a way I didn’t in 2010 – that I’m where I’m meant to be, doing what I’m meant to do.

Want a real blast from the past? Check out Reflections from the Road from that first year around the world:

Rachel Orth Ben Miller Wedding in Apopka Florida

Highs

GOING TO THE CHAPEL

Little RaeRae is married and I can hardly believe it! The wedding could not have gone better. It was incredibly fun and the wedding staff all showed up, the hair stylist knew how to do hair, the pool was filled with water, there was plenty of food, not a hurricane in sight, the relatives all behaved AND thus far, no one at the venue has sent post-nuptial death threats to the bride and groom. 

Who knew weddings could be so… pleasant and devoid of criminal mischief

Ben and Rachel Wedding Apopka

In all seriousness, Rae and Ben really did have one of the most perfect weddings I’ve ever been to – pandemic and all. Everything went off without a hitch – Sheba was an angel, the weather was idyllic, our brother was the perfect officiant yet again, and even my Matron of Honor toast, which I feel like I’ve been preparing for all my life, went alright.

Can’t wait to share a zillion pictures from the big (but very-much smaller-than-planned) day, but in the meantime, would y’all want to see my speech if I can get video of it?

SLOW RETURN OF PROJECTS

We had a handful of work projects in Q4 – nothing life changing or grandiose, but it was lovely to be creating and filming again. 

EVERMORE

I’d just like to take this moment to thank Taylor Swift for writing the soundtrack getting me through 2020.

GIFT GUIDE GIVEAWAY

Winners from our 9th Annual Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers are up on the website! We had 10 fabulous gifts to give away to readers this year, from the gorgeous Sunday Citizen weighted blanket to my favorite bag from Pakt to Flytographer gift cards and memberships to Roadtrippers and Scott’s Cheap Flights, and so – were you one of them?

If you didn’t win this year, hang in there. We’re planning a ginormous 10th anniversary giveaway in 2021 to really knock your socks off and to say THANK YOU for sticking with us all these years. 

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Lows

IN SICKNESS AND HEALTH

I had a root canal (that I’d been postponing for almost a year) and Rick had hernia surgery (also postponed for a long time). I put these medical procedures in the low section only because root canals and surgery are not fun, nor cheap, even with insurance. And the last thing we need during a slow business year is outrageous medical expenses. But both procedures went really well and we’re both right as rain now. Rick had to take some time off work and couldn’t lift more than 10 lbs. for six weeks, and we did spend our 5th anniversary on the couch recovering instead of in an overwater bungalow in Tahiti like I wanted. But that’s 2020.

Rick and I have been tested for COVID several times, but we haven’t had it yet. Other family members have come down with it but everyone has been ok – no hospitalizations or severe illness, and in some cases, no symptoms at all. Despite the grenade it tossed into wedding planning and the holiday season, we’ve been very, very blessed to come out the other side of 2020 healthy – maybe even healthier, than we started.

ELECTION 2020

I’m not even talking about who did or didn’t win. I’m just exhausted by the fact that it’s still going on, in January, between the presidency being undecided in many folks’ minds and the whole Georgia runoff still in play. I just don’t comprehend how regular Joes like me have the energy to continue fighting one other about politics.

I realize that even being able to complain about that is a sign of privilege. As a white American woman, I haven’t had to take on the system to be treated fairly very often. I do know that I am not wired for ongoing conflict and uncertainty and I want it to stop. There must be a middle ground where I can care as deeply as I do and be involved and not be made ill with the stress of it all… but I haven’t found it yet. If you have any resources for the HSP who fiercely loves people but gets physically ill over conflict, I’m all ears!

GREAT FENCES MAKE GREAT NEIGHBORS

Since the summer, we’ve been dragged into a dispute with our neighbor who built an enormous, un-permitted RV carport right up to our property line. We tried to work something out with them so we could plant trees in our yard to block it, allowing them to keep it up as is, but they wouldn’t discuss it despite being completely in the wrong. In the end, the city cited them for building without a permit and not abiding by the zoning code.

In order to protect our properties, we had to attend a contentious zoning hearing to present evidence that the neighbor breaking the rules affected us adversely. If you are as non-confrontational as Rick and I are, you will understand that this was an absolute nightmare for us.

And if you are as good at making presentations as I am, you would know that at least that part was a bit satisfying. Elle Woods certainly would’ve been proud of me that day!

In the end, the City of Jacksonville rightly upheld the zoning code designed to protect property owners like us from those with less-than-neighborly intentions, and they had to move the structure over to comply with the code.

Still: it was a huge time and energy suck – the last thing we needed this year. Very on brand for 2020 though.

I hope 2021 brings peace back to our neighborhood, but we shall see.

Lessons

FOOD IS GOOD

I’ve been digging into the F*&^ it Diet on Audible and the author’s words have been a long overdue smack upside the head for me. I am ashamed at how much time I’ve spent in my life obsessing over my weight – especially when I was actually an itty bitty creature with no body fat. It has not been healthy, and yet thinness is viewed as healthy no matter what extreme measures you have to do to achieve it.

My eyes are open to a whole new world of not overanalyzing every bite I take… and if that means I’m too chonky for public viewing, well, sorry not sorry. If the ancient sculptures of Greek and Roman goddesses – the epitome of beauty and health – can have rolls and big ole butts, so can I. I’m just not going to feel bad about being a normal-sized person anymore.

RUNNING IS ACTUALLY KINDA FUN

Aside from signing with my literary agent, this may be the accomplishment I’m most proud of in 2020. I did the Couch to 5k program and actually finished it! I’ve never run more than .5 mile at once in my life, so to be able to run 3.1 miles in just three months time is a BFD for me. (Especially because I dropped a mason jar on my toe during Week 2 and it set me back a bit.)

Running was always used as a punishment in middle school and high school, so I just hated it and thought I could never be one of those people who runs for fun. Once I took weight loss out of the equation, I started to enjoy running every other day. And actually hitting a fitness goal was a high I never imagined I’d enjoy so much.

I want to do something similar in Q1 2021, so shout if you have any apps to recommend. (I prefer autonomous workouts on my own schedule – accountability groups are not for me.)

Next Steps 

We can make our plans but God determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

HEY 2020: DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YA WHERE THE LORD SPLIT YA

In the 41st edition of Reflections from the Road, I sketched out my vision for 2020. Please laugh along with me below. (Commentary in parenthesis.)

  • Travel less. Take more meaningful, actual vacations and fewer work trips that require me to create constantly. (Great job, Ange. Your New Years resolution broke the world.)
  • Write more. Finish my book. (I finished the book, but wrote fewer blog posts than ever.)
  • Start a new website. (I did it! Check out JacksonvilleTraveler.com and tell me what you think! Also follow on Instagram if you’re so inclined.)
  • Do more video because I like it. Focus less on social media, especially Instagram. (Didn’t have much to film. All our Jet Sisters episodes were postponed indefinitely. Maybe this year? We did quite a bit on our TikTok channel in the early days of lockdown. Have you watched?) 
  • Focus on becoming a foster mom and release my addiction to work and the validation it brings. (Well, the pandemic blew up the foster family plans this year but I definitely got over my work addiction since there really hasn’t been any.)
  • Celebrate 5 years of marriage with my criminally good-looking husband. (Celebrated by cleaning his surgery wound and doling out medications.) 
  • I want to say yes to adventures (travel, kids and otherwise) and no to stress. (I said yes to gardening and redecorating the dining room and I really did put in the work on the stress situation in spite of it all.)
  • Prioritize mental, physical and spiritual health over work, productivity. (I did it but probably only because I didn’t have a choice!) 

The best laid plans, right? 

I’ve heard this year called The Great Pause, and that’s a gentle way of remembering it that I choose to hold on to. 

I’m so grateful 2020 has brought: 

  • Clarity on so many things. Clarity on what I want to do with my life going forward; on my health issues; on who in my life warrants my time and effort and who is better left behind.
  • Radical provision. In the midst of my worst professional financial year ever, God provided lavishly for both Rae and me and we were able to keep the lights on. The fact that I’m still here writing on this site today is a miracle to me and one I don’t take for granted.
  • A reset. I wanted 2020 to be the year I reset my body and my lifestyle, and as horrible as the pandemic has been on a global scale, it may well have been the only thing that could force me to slow down long enough to get that much-needed rest.

I don’t think I’ll choose a specific word or resolutions for 2021 – wouldn’t want it to get misinterpreted. I hope and pray it all goes better for me, for you and for the world. Frankly, I am not sure there’s much that can surprise me anymore. I’m just kind of watching Earth: 2021 like the reality show it has turned into. Oooooof.

It’s been a wild 10 years since I left for my trip. If I’ve learned anything at all it’s that I couldn’t begin to predict what’s going to happen in the next 10, but I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me.

One last thing before I close out Vol. 45. A heartfelt thank you goes out to every single one of you for your support. Whether you’ve been here since my time in Atlanta or the BigAppleAngie days or the Best Job in the World hubbub or the destination wedding debacle or even if you’re just a casual social media lurker, if not for you, I’m not sure I would’ve stuck it out this long. I absolutely cannot believe I’m still here in this content / blogging / travel / video space – but I’m so grateful to you for your part in helping me live out my dreams. Until next time!

New Zealand, January 2011

Are you getting the vaccine? Have you had COVID? Do you have a special word for 2021? 

Y’all continue to ask how you can help support us – just knowing you’re out there means the world! The biggest thing is also the easiest: like and share as often as you can on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook, and leave comments here on the blog. We read every single one and respond to all (except the creepy ones!) And every single time you visit AngieAway.com, it helps pay to keep the site up and running. So thank you for being here! 

COME AWAY WITH ME!
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  • Avatar
    January 04, 2021

    Yes to evermore being the soundtrack we needed! And yes to Rae (and Sheba, lol) having the epic wedding you all deserved. Hope 2021 is the year we reunite, as I think 2020 was the first year I haven’t seen you in over a decade. For shame!
    Kristin recently posted..December 2020 Highlights: The Highs + LowsMy Profile

  • Avatar
    January 05, 2021

    Shame on you, breaking the world in 2020… but honestly, so many of us wished to travel less and more intentionally. Now we’ll get the chance! I just wanted to comment to say that while Folklore was lovely, I too didn’t know how much I needed Evermore. Happy New Year!
    Valerie recently posted..An Olympic Peninsula Road Trip: 2 Itineraries, 11 Must-See StopsMy Profile

  • Avatar
    January 08, 2021

    What a year 2020 was, and you’re not to blame Angie! 😀

    Like yourself, I’m just so grateful that my friends and family were healthy, and that I was able to support small organisations where I could, especially those in the Arts.

    Let’s hope 2021 will be a better year for all.
    Take Care!
    [email protected] recently posted..Goodbye 2020. Hello 2021!My Profile

  • Avatar
    January 16, 2021
    Debbie Paulding

    “Your New Years resolution broke the world.”
    “It was a flaming-bag-of-poo-on-the-front-porch kind of year.”
    Those have to be two of the best lines I’ve read all year. 🙂
    I seriously enjoy reading of your adventures, whether they involve travel or not. And–omigosh– RaeRae looks like a million dollars in her wedding gown! And the photo of the two sisters together? Priceless!!
    Glad to hear you’ve weathered the year that was(n’t).
    Wishing all the best of 2021 to you and your loves.
    — Debbie

  • Avatar
    January 17, 2021
    Mary Norris

    Happy New Year, Angie! Love traveling vicariously with you! You look great and I am happy for you. Best wishes to Rae in her marriage. You girls rock!

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