When the pandemic first hit the US this time last year, I wrote, “It looks like we’re in for a gruesome couple of months.”
If only it had just been a couple of months. I can’t even talk about the specifics of the past year without getting choked up. I feel like I’ve aged a decade. God, have mercy on us all.
Things are definitely different here in Florida, where mask mandates are lifted, schools are open, capacity restrictions are minimal and most folks I know have gone on with life as if there were no pandemic at all.
Still, even in wide open Florida, not everything is back to normal. Maybe that’s ok. There were too many things we considered “normal” that weren’t good for any of us. Working too much, glorifying busyness, burning the candle at both ends, doing way too many things out of obligation… the Great Pause has brought a whole lot of clarity for me. Has it been that way for you?
I’m happy to report blog traffic has turned around and we’re getting more visitors now than we were just before the pandemic hit – WHEW. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to know all is not lost and we may be on the way out of this long, dark tunnel.
That said, I haven’t been a very good blogger lately. Have you noticed? I’ve only posted twice since the last edition of Reflections from the Road, and I can’t even remember the last time I sent out a newsletter. I’ve been keeping busy with TikTok and Instagram, our Airbnb, a few brand projects here and there and some new book proposals and screenplays. So things are moving again behind the scenes, and I hope to have lots of stuff to share with y’all soon. In the meantime, some recent posts you might enjoy:
- Advertorial vs. Editorial: The Ultimate Influencer Marketing Smackdown
- Rae and Ben’s Gorgeous Winter Wedding in Apopka
- Alligator Safety Tips
- The Jet Sisters on TikTok
Rae and I were invited to experience Epcot’s Festival of the Arts back in January and it was so nice to get out and create content again. We made so many TikTok videos in one day – I had so much energy and was just ON FIRE to make stuff. And then the next day I felt like I’d been run over by the Seven Dwarves Mine Train. Baby steps, old girl!
We went back to Disney in March to celebrate Mom’s birthday with a camping trip at Fort Wilderness. Was it the first 90+ degree day of the year? Yes, of course it was. Sleeping in a tent was not that awesome, but it was fun to hang with the family at the campground. We went there several times when we were kids (including the night of Central Florida’s worst tornado outbreak ever), so it was just nostalgic fun as Disney always seems to be.
Speaking of Disney, it’s been a year since our cruise on the Disney Magic… you know, the last cruise before COVID arrived. We were in the dining room when the captain announced that it would be the last cruise for a couple of weeks. I still get goose bumps when I think about it – none of us knew what we were in for. I think of our awesome waitstaff all the time and wonder how they’ve fared after a year without work.
We didn’t get to share our content from the cruise last year – it just felt weird? But now that travel is looking more realistic within the next year, we put together a quick highlight reel of the trip. It’s got me SO ready to sail again!
I meant to write some fun new stories for the blog this week, but I got distracted by this guy who’s trying to pull a fast one on me. “Steve Johnson” reached out asking me to buy some gift cards for him. Of course he says he’ll reimburse me after I give him the codes, but we know how this works out.
If you need a good laugh today, I made a highlight called Scammy Scammers on my Instagram profile with all of our conversations thus far. We’re still emailing back and forth, so I don’t know how it’s all going to turn out. Stay tuned!
Rick and I went on a real vacation together, just us, for the first time in well over a year. It was incredible, refreshing, relaxing and just what we needed. I didn’t even post about it at all. Who even am I?! Is this what they call… growth?!
SHINGLES AND READY TO MINGLE
Just kidding – you really shouldn’t be mingling with shingles! Fortunately we’re in the midst of the pandemic so I wasn’t really going anywhere anyhow. But the bumps that popped up on my forearm randomly one day weren’t bug bites like I thought. After a week of ignoring it like I do most things, I had to go to urgent care and was diagnosed with freaking shingles. The doc said she’s seen way more shingles in younger patients than ever before. There may be a COVID link, but no one is sure just yet.
Everyone told me horror stories of how bad it was going to be, but it was actually not the worst thing ever. I had some moments where I was screaming in pain, but they were quick. I’m very lucky the outbreak was on my arm where I could keep it from touching anything. I cannot imagine how much it would hurt in a different location. Almost two months after it popped up, I still have the red marks and occasional jolts of nerve pain, but I’m glad to be on the other side of it.
WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE
Fact: The storming of the US Capitol was less than 90 days ago, but it feels like it was 100 years ago. Since my last check in, there have been multiple horrific shootings, hate crimes, terror attacks, border crisis… I mean, the list goes on forever.
I don’t remember there being a month’s worth of tragedy and scandal every other day when I was little. I’m sure the hatred and division was always there, I just don’t remember it being this heavy. Was it always like this?
I noticed last year that I was really struggling to process all the horrors so I had to take a step back from the news, social media and the unproductive arguing.* It has been incredibly helpful and healing.
*That said: if I were to see, say, a man beating up a woman in Hell’s Kitchen, you can bet he would catch these hands. Staying out of the news doesn’t mean I’m out of the fight.*
CREATION BEFORE CONSUMPTION
Speaking of the news and social media, my biggest time waster is my phone. I’m absolutely addicted to scrolling. I just love seeing what all my friends are up to, and I have like eleventy-thousand internet friends. I’ve started a new habit where I don’t grab my phone first thing in the morning. I have to have some quiet time with God and coffee before I even think of looking at my messages.
And I’m working toward the goal of actually having to create my own stuff before I ever look at what anyone else is up to. It has been really challenging! But I think it’s a worthwhile pursuit so I’m going to keep after it.
I’m on of those people now. Sort of. I don’t actually have a Peloton bike – the cheap knockoff was all I could do right now. But I subscribed to Peloton classes and I love it so, so, so much.
I’ve worked out more in the past 6 months than I have in probably a decade, and I feel fantastic. It’s been a sanity saver in the midst of all this uncertainty.
Would you want to read a post about my DIY $350 version of Peloton?
Of all the things I could’ve done in the past 90 days, I sure never saw “becoming a stock market Reddit junkie” as one of the options. Guys, it’s like gambling but you can do it on your phone and take a rocketship to the moon with other diamond-handed apes. I literally have no idea what’s going on, and I could just as easily throw money out the window, but I had to invest a recently relocated retirement savings plan so I listened to the hype and bought Gamestop, and some other random stonks.
So what’s the lesson? Um, I don’t know yet. We’re either going to be super rich or we can never retire. It’s a toss up!
We can make our plans but God determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9
We’re trying, I swear. I feel like every time we put a date on the calendar when we’re going to start, something monumental comes up like Rick going to California for four months, Leia needing a mountain of prescriptions for her skin, a pandemic that torpedoes my income or a health diagnosis we have to tackle. It’s always something. I will probably always be that way. Please pray that obstacles will move and we’ll be able to get our foster kids soon.
We’re moving forward with projects and planning tentatively for work travel later this year, maybe sooner just depending on how things go. Rae is working on a dream project with Adrenaline Films, so she’s staying busy while we figure out how to take The Jet Sisters into the future.
FUN FACT: It’s been 10 years since I left for my round-the-world trip.
I keep seeing the memories pop up on Facebook and I almost can’t process that freewheeling travel life I had with the strange and locked up times we live in now.
I’ll tell you what though – I’ve never been happier that I traveled the world when I did. It was a huge risk and I wasn’t sure if I was making a mistake, but I’ve never regretted it for a moment. And over the past year, I’ve been more grateful for that year of freedom and travel than ever before.
I don’t anticipate many overseas trips in 2021, but if I’ve learned anything in my 39 years, it’s that I don’t have a clue what’s going to happen next. I’m taking things day by day, and trusting that God’s got it figured out.
Thanks for being here, for reading our posts and watching our videos. We appreciate you now more than ever!
Have you been vaccinated? What are your travel plans for this year? Have you experienced any silver linings to the pandemic? I’d love to hear from you.
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