I’ve posted a whole lot about my girls’ trip to Scotland (with Ireland still to come), but very little on my actual life these days. That’s mainly because life has gotten in the way, and quite frankly, I just haven’t had the time. (Don’t you just hate when people complain about lacking time? I know I do.) But many of you have been so kind as to email me and inquire what SVV and I are up to, so I figured I’d indulge you. Here goes:
We spent all summer going through an entrepreneur incubator we were selected for called SMTEC, a subsidiary of Startup Tennessee that spanned three tracks: automotive, aerospace and technology (obviously, we were in the latter). Meaning for two full days each week from June through August, we were in classes, pitch sessions, mentor meetings and the like. It was very interesting—and a lot of time—and we’ve connected with many businessmen who have been wildly successful and who have continued to help us even after graduation from the program.
The outcome is our new business venture: Odinn. I’ll go into more about the meaning behind the name once we launch our company site; however, here’s a bit about the origins on Wiki.
What we do: We take our digital savvy and apply it to the hyper-local economy in areas where the Internet has not yet taken over. This whole idea came about when we moved back to Middle Tennessee and turned to the Internet for our every whim (from locating a hardwood floor installer to searching for custom subway tiles to redo our fireplaces). What we found: Many companies outside of the major cities are not yet online and are in danger of becoming obsolete if they don’t change their business models. And those that do have a semblance of an online presence usually just have a landing page that doesn’t even register on any of the search engines.
In a nutshell, our mission is to bring these businesses into the 21st century by enabling an online portal that shapes, defines and directs potential clients to their brick and mortar store or online space. We improve their existing websites to harness new technologies and third-party aggregators and utilizes software that only recently has been enabled. We create forward-facing digital storefronts, execute synergistic marketing on the Web, handcraft social media outreach, and provide the strategy and tools to make them findable online.
So far our clients have been in the military, healthcare, banking and executive recruitment sectors. We had originally planned to target the tourism industry, but it’s funny how we’ve expanded our business model to encompass pretty much any company (that’s independently-owned, that is).
There is another big (read: HUGE) thing that I can’t tell you about just yet. Soon though, I hope! I hate being vague, but we’ve had so many dealings with sneaky creeps this year trying to steal intellectual property, that I’m making sure every last contract is inked, NDA signed and idea trademarked before announcing it publicly. (I have two excellent lawyers who have been earning their retainers, let’s just say.)
As far as freelancing goes, I’m still doing all that, just on a “reduced” schedule (though I’m currently on contract for seven magazine stories—surprisingly, none of which are travel-related—with other ideas in the editorial meeting phase). I’m also still working on the side as a travel adviser. And I’m in talks to partner with a couple big travel and tech companies for 2013, so stay tuned.
I’ve been scaling back my travel (at least in comparison to previous years), taking longer trips but less frequently. In fact, I’ve turned down quite a few assignments and work trips this year because of our business and homeowner status and I’m liking this being stationary (more) bit. It’s kind of hard to believe but SVV and I haven’t been anywhere just the two of us since our long weekend in Vail in February. Thus, we’re heading off to explore the Caribbean via a tall ship over Thanksgiving. Technically, this is a trip with my travel agency—we are doing scouting for new providers—so it’s more of a workcation for me, but at least SVV will be able to continue his tradition as “a kept man” while I do site inspections. He’s been working so hard this year—at his day job, on Odinn, on our home—that he deserves a break. And speaking of cruising…
Have you figured out via my sidebar of upcoming travels that I am indeed going back on my beloved MV Explorer next year? The ever-awesome ISE invited me back this December as Communications Coordinator on the next Enrichment Voyage but due to all the moving parts in my life, I was unable to, so I asked if they’d have me next April, May and June instead. They said yes! What’s even more exciting is that I’ll be spending eight weeks in Europe, my very favorite continent (the voyage is broken up into three different two- to three-week segments: Mediterranean and North Africa, Benelux and the British Isles, and North Europe, Scandinavia and the Baltics). And I’ll be teaching a three-week course on travel writing and social media. And for any of you who are interested in coming with me, leave a comment below or email me, as ISE gave me a really great group rate on both the Caribbean/Central/South America voyage next month and the Europe voyage, too. (Note: These are the educational-yet-still-fun “cruises” of sorts that are open to anyone and not student-driven like Semester at Sea.)
My parents and some of their friends will be joining me on the first segment and SVV on segments two and three. Plus, there are a whole lot of my former ship pals who are coming back for this voyage—I couldn’t be more excited for spring to get here, for many reasons.
Being a homeowner is a fantastic, tedious and oft-frustrating journey—particularly when you buy a home built in the 1800s and decide to renovate it all yourself. (This is when being married to a former contractor, electrician, painter—you name it—comes in handy.) So far, we have gotten the upstairs almost completely done, which has required hand-scraping all the ceilings, sanding them, applying three coats of primer and paint on them with a sprayer (in full-on hazmat gear), and doing the same on all the walls. I had no idea painting was such a tedious task, made more tedious by the fact that all of our rooms are nine-feet ceilings, minimum. It’s given me a whole new appreciation for what SVV used to do.
Though we had a little help when it came to replacing all 66 windows and redoing the floors in the upstairs bedrooms—there comes a point when sometimes you have to realize you aren’t Super(wo)man and that you need to hire someone to do some of the work for you. I promise to blog about our various projects, but I’m not going to do so until we actually complete one! We finished the downstairs bathroom yesterday, we’re retiling two of the fireplaces this week, and our blinds are set to come in sometime in the next few days, so things are starting to come together….slowly.
I have been antiquing up a storm and found some awesome—and better yet, affordable—pieces that complement our home perfectly. The thing about moving from a one-bedroom apartment in a city where all our furniture was IKEA (meaning I tossed it when we moved) to a four-bedroom, nearly 3,000-square-foot home is that it’s expensive from a furnishing standpoint. So we’re furnishing slowly, as we get paychecks in and find the perfect pieces.
Despite how busy we are, we always make time for fun. Lately, this has meant a lot of music. I’ve seen so many concerts this year, and most recently CMT Crossroads invited me back to another taping; this time, I saw my beloved Avett Brothers in concert (again) with Randy Travis from the second row (the show airs on Nov. 23). And yes, he appeared to have had a drink or seven before taking the stage (though he was pretty hilarious with his jokes and one-liners). And no, he didn’t pick any fights with the audience. And yes, I asked SVV if we could take an Avett home with us—I’d take either, or better yet, both—but he declined.
Next month, I’ll be seeing Taylor(!!!) and LL Cool J co-host the Grammy nominations concert in Nashville and then Aerosmith at the same venue the following week and Little Big Town (again) down on the Gulf Coast for New Year’s Eve Eve.
I love being back in a smaller town, because it makes getting involved with the local scene much easier. I’m speaking at yet another nearby Rotary chapter this week (my third for the year), I’m spoken at some classes at UT and I’m slated to speak for the Sewanee student body in the spring. I’m all about the teaching these days; I guess you could say, I finally took control of my public speaking fear.
Moving back to Tennessee meant I had instant friends, as many people I grew up with or with whom I went to college have stayed in the area or since moved back. However, SVV and I have gotten involved in our local Young Professionals chapter, among other groups, and have made so many new friends already. It’s nice having an excuse to get out of the house. Though for the next big YP event, we’ll actually be staying in the house as we’re hosting the annual Christmas party at our place. (Cue the panic: We are nowhere near ready to have visitors! Hopefully, that will have changed in three weeks’ time….)
Also, my mom talked me into joining DAR. (Really, it went more like this. Mom: “You should come join Daughters of the American Revolution.” Me: “OK.” Her: “Really??” Me: “Yes, why not?”) So it looks like I’ll be attending my first meeting in December. I might be morphing into a Stepford Wife before your very eyes! (I kid, I kid…that will only happen if I ever decide to join Junior League. Then you have cause to worry.)
In case you hadn’t noticed my lack of mentioning running, that’s because, well, I haven’t been running. At all. Like not once since April. My hiatus started due to a recurring stress fracture I’ve had since my college tennis days, but now is primarily because time is a luxury, and we’re doing so much home improvement that by each evening, I already feel like I’ve run a marathon that day. But we have a pretty killer gym nearby, so I will be joining this week (for a paltry $35 a month…for a family membership! I love the South), if for no other reason than I’m tackling a pretty major mountain trek in February on my 30th birthday, so it would behoove me to kick my own butt now in preparation for that.
I’ve been having a lot of allergy problems this fall—the one downfall to moving back South—and also some pretty bad arthritis in my hands that has flared up from all the home reno work we’ve been doing. (Any home remedies you guys recommend? Right now, I’m taking a whole lot of Ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and doing some hand ballet in my downtime.) But other than that, I feel just peachy. No panic attacks in a very long time, which is a huge change from the beginning of 2012.
Being back in Tennessee has been fabulous for a bevy of reasons, but primarily because I get to see my mom whenever I like. (Today’s mother-daughter activity: catching up on episodes of Revenge and Nashville.) While we don’t live in the same house anymore and in a different city entirely, it’s not too far of a drive; in fact, out of the first two weeks we were living in our house, I saw them 12 of those 14 days. And I’ll be back at their place the rest of the week “granddad-sitting” and watching all six dogs while they enjoy the Florida sun.
My sister is settled in Charlotte but will be home for Thanksgiving next week and will be working remotely (hopefully from my home office) for 10 days or so over Christmas. SVV’s parents are coming in town to see us the week after we get back from the Caribbean, and his sister and her husband are due to have their first baby in April. (Squee! I get another adorable niece or nephew! I couldn’t be happier for them.)
Aaaaand…I think that about covers it. In just over 2,000 words. Whew. Are you still awake?