What’s up, friendos?! How are you feeling with the holidays in the rear view? It’s always a bit of a relief to get past the hubbub – that now seems to start in September for some reason.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the holiday season. Sparkly lights and special Starbucks drinks and cookies out the wazoo. It’s just a lot of prep and hustle to make it all happen. And by the end, I’m so tired. (And so full of sugar. So very full.)
In my family we started a tradition a few years ago where instead of going all out on gifts at Christmas, we focus on making each person’s birthday special throughout the year. The idea is that we can focus more on Jesus during December instead of shopping and spending. It works pretty well and it has taken a lot of stress out of the season. But there are still Christmas cards to send (there’s still a stack on my desk that unfortunately aren’t going to make it in time – ha!) and parties to attend and White Elephant gifts to acquire. So there’s a give and take, but every year I’m reassessing how to “do Christmas” in a way that is special for my loved ones and still honoring to the actual reason for the season. If you have ideas, please share them in the comments!
Without further ado, here’s a look at the last 90 days and where we’re heading in 2023!
THAT’S A WRAP
The She Shed is open for business! There’s more decorating and stuff to do, but we are a fully functional up and running writing retreat that I use every single day. I have been plowing through chapters with unprecedented speed and focus in my book since I moved in, so it was worth the wait. Here’s my first video from the finished space – what do you think?
And in case you missed it, our back patio is done, too! Rick has been a DIY, home improvement machine this year.
Living in Florida means I don’t get to experience much in the way of seasons. Well, except for hurricane season of course. Rick and I went on this year’s only romantic trip to Asheville to celebrate our anniversary. Seven years, what?! The leaves were incredible – I was in full-on basic bish mode, big dumb influencer hat included. Watch our Asheville video here.
Rae and I spent time out in Eugene, Oregon, for a really fun campaign checking out food and wine in the Willamette Valley. It also snowed which was an unexpected surprise for us Florida girls. We don’t get to travel together as much as we used to, so this was a treat! Read all about planning your own Oregon trip during Cellar Season.
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I had an incredible time at TBEX Lafayette and ate all the crawfish I could get my hands on. My topic was: “Paid or Trade: When (and how much) to Pay Influencers. I have to laugh that a big part of my work life now is public speaking and teaching. For someone who still gets aggressively sweaty and shaky before every presentation, it’s pretty hilarious that this is how things have turned out.
ANOTHER TRIP AROUND THE SUN
I was shocked to see a huge group of family and friends, including dear Chris all the way from Australia, at a surprise birthday dinner for me. I am notoriously impossible to surprise, but they really did it this time. Thank you!
I met Nicole Walters at TravelCon earlier in the year and jumped at the chance to hang with her at a private mini-conference in Santa Monica. I tend to stay in my little travel industry world, so it was really good to meet successful women from so many other walks of life and industries. A hype weekend that I’m still thinking about weeks later.
LOSS AT THE HOLIDAYS
Personally, my holidays were great, but I could not stop thinking about all my friends and family who have lost people this year. There’s been so much tragedy and unexpected loss. I won’t say it put a damper on the holidays outwardly, but it did feel like there was a dark cloud in my heart.
We never get hurricanes this late in the year, so it was a real surprise having to batten down the hatches for the second time in just a few months. Quickly followed by the coldest 5-day stretch we’ve had in Jacksonville in my memory. All our plants are dead =(
I have been sicker this year more often than ever before. More motion sickness and migraines than I’ve ever had. My second round of Covid.
I had a stomach virus on Thanksgiving and I was barely over that before I got a migraine that turned into a sinus infection that lead to an ER visit ($2,000 bill so far and counting…). I just finished my last dose of my second round of antibiotics, so here’s hoping I’m out of the woods.
I just had bloodwork done and I’ve got some stuff to deal with in the immediate future. Nothing serious for now, but definitely *have* to prioritize my health this year. Have to.
R.I.P. APPLE WATCH
Ugh. My precious Apple Watch slipped off my wrist and smashed into the tile. I feel like a bad kid who can’t take care of my toys so I am not buying a new one. But I should also point out that my blood pressure and cholesterol have gotten way worse ever since it broke. Coincidence? Doubt it. Now I don’t have anyone telling me to stand up every so often or drink water.
Doing what God asks you to do is not a guarantee that it’s going to go well or be fulfilling or fun. Our experience thus far as foster parents has shown that. But one kid (and all the accompanying traumatizing and terrifying experiences) is not going to take us out of the game. We’re on a foster care break, but I think with some time we’ll be back.
OOPS. I FORGOT WHAT I DO FOR A LIVING.
I forgot to leave the country this year. That hasn’t happened since I can’t remember when. Middle school? At any rate, I don’t intend to make that oversight again. I’ve got my sights set on Iceland and the Caribbean for sure and then I’m open to everywhere else. Writing my book has got me wanting to revisit Africa and Asia all over again, so maybe I will.
We can make our plans but God determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9
THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR
The holidays are great… but if I’m honest, I’m more of a January person. It’s quiet. It’s clean. Everyone is hibernating. I LOVE reflecting on the past year and dreaming about what’s coming. I’m not big into financial goals or even content goals. I’ve shared that with a few people lately and apparently that’s no way to run a business. Like, what even is a P+L? But I don’t know any other way. Basically every year I just pray that God will give us what we need, and he does. I never know what my bottom line is going to look like or how exactly I’m going to get there. But he always shows up.
2022 started out with us having to call the police to our home for a situation with one of the kids. And unfortunately that set the tone for most of the year. Happy to say Rick and I started 2023 out at the lake with friends and family, with fireworks all around and a kiss. And then promptly went to sleep with our dogs.
And in other news: we have so many fun things to looks forward to in the next 90 days. I’ll be in NYC for IMM and in February we’re going on a cruise. I’m looking forward to a football team worth of babies coming from besties on all sides. We’ve got weddings and trips planned, and to Rick’s great relief, very view large home projects in the works. As far as it’s within my power, this is going to be a year of gentle preparation as I look ahead toward the book launch in 2024.
My manuscript is due in 6 weeks – holy cow. I’ll be in a really good place with it probably by the end of this week, and then I’ll spend the rest of the time editing and fine-tuning (read: overthinking) every sentence and word choice. Then come all the choices: cover design! Launch date! Pre-sale details! I am so stinking excited for the marketing meetings 😂 and even for the editing process. I can’t wait to have an expert book editor tear my stuff apart so I can put it back together even better.
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Now, I really want to clean my house, organize every closet, file some paperwork and dust every baseboard… but that’s only because I am on the biggest deadline of my life. Y’all pray for me that I’ll be happy with the finished product and that God will give me the right words to say on every page.
I’ll see you back here Apr. 1 for Vol. 54 of Reflections from the Road. In the meantime, travel safe!
Where are you going in 2023?
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