The last 12 months, while stressful, have rocked. I feel like I say that every year, but in 2015, I truly learned so much about myself—strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes—as both an individual and an entrepreneur. Mostly, I’ve been working on saying “no” (more), learning how to turn down an “opportunity” when it simply doesn’t feel right or doesn’t jive with my own approach to business (or life), trying to ignore some of the digital noise that accompanies being connected 24/7 and not feeling like I have to be everything to everyone (OK, that last part is still a struggle).
And while there are always challenges, all in all, 2015 was not just a good, but a GREAT year. Let’s review some of the highlights, shall we?
Surprisingly for as much as I was on the road, I only used my passport three times: twice to the Caribbean and once to England. I felt like I was constantly on the go in 2015, but I welcomed 12 months of closer-to-home travels (for the most part).
The year started out with a rewarding weekend at St. Jude, which is headquartered just three hours from me in Memphis. I love this organization more than I can express, and it was humbling and bittersweet to be a part of the annual Country Cares for St. Jude event that helps fund this philanthropic endeavor that costs $2 million a day to run. (Feeling charitable with your Christmas bonus? You can donate here.)
A week later, SVV and I caught a direct flight to Denver, where we loaded up our rental car and drove to Breckenridge. Now that we no longer live on the West Coast, our ski trips are few and far between, but I welcome any long weekend in Colorado that we can manage.
In February, my mom and I took a quick three-day jaunt up to Knoxville and then were caught in the worst ice storm I’ve ever experienced. It was pretty crazy to see a town completely shut down!
Then, it was off to California to speak at a conference later in the month and see my sister-in-law, niece and a handful of good friends, before we headed off to the mountains. Five nights in the Bay Area and Tahoe was not nearly enough time to catch up with everyone, but it was a nice refresher—and chance to see loved ones—nonetheless.
I also went to Kentucky twice in as many months, first for the races at Keeneland and then to speak at PRSA in Lexington. And you know I found plenty of excuses to drink whiskey while there!
Similarly, I wound up in Florida three times in six weeks: for a photoshoot, for a Gulf Coast bachelorette party and for vacation in Orlando with my cousins. Lucky me, it happens to be one of my favorite states—with those views, how could it not be?
Next, it was off to Charleston for my sister’s bridal luncheon. Man, I adore the Holy City—don’t you? So much delicious food to eat, it’s almost unfair. I’m definitely hashtag blessed to now have extended family living there and even more of an excuse to visit regularly (the fact that it’s an hour direct flight on Southwest also helps).
Just days after Charleston in July, I was in a wedding in Nashville, then flew at 6am the following day to Bonaire for a week-long dive trip with some girlfriends. After that, we hopped on over to Aruba for three days and lazed around by the pool.
SVV and stayed at home for two months in August and September—during which, we had a smattering of visitors from Tennessee and Germany—and only stole away to Georgia for a wedding at Barnsley Gardens among the ruins. I also learned to shoot a gun. Home intruders, you have been warned!
After we married my own sister off a week later, I spent a solid month on the road: First, it was to New York City for Click! Retreat, then off to Manchester and Liverpool for five days for a project, then onto the Bahamas for eight days, where we saw a friend get married and also worked on a magazine assignment at a swanky private island resort.
Then, it was back home for two months of holiday madness, home renovation jail and a quick jaunt to Washington state for five days to close out the year with a creative retreat with two of our closest friends. Seriously, is there anywhere prettier than the Pacific Northwest?
We flew home the night of Dec. 30, then drove to Knoxville on New Year’s Eve to see one of my sister’s best pals get married. I can’t think of a better place to ring in 2016 than good ol’ Rocky Top!
Everyone’s always so interested in the behind-the-scenes life of a journalist, which I find funny (spoiler alert: it’s a whole lot of time spent alone in your pajamas not speaking to anyone for hours at a time). Still, I’m always an open book where career is concerned, and I’ll tell you this much: I feel like a chameleon, shedding my skin and morphing with the times as the media landscape continues to evolve.
While things may be ever-changing, the one constant is I still won’t work for free (sorry, HuffPo), and I still write tens of thousands of words a week, no matter the projects. This year, I worked on a few influencer campaigns with Travel Mindset, but most of them were remote until the Visit Britain initiative that launches this month.
For the past 18 months, I’d also been working at Nashville Lifestyles as co-editor—and at the end of 2015, I resigned. My reasons were both financial and personal—waaaaay too much of a time commitment for all the other irons I have in the fire—but let’s just say this development has freed me up to take on much more lucrative work that I love, so ultimately it’s a good thing, though I did quite enjoy my tenure at that magazine and being back in an office after more than six years out on my own. It was fun, too, getting to sculpt a final creative product month after month, but without more resources, it was also ridiculously stressful.
The biggest thing that happened to me this year by way of career, though, was the redesign of this blog and all the new people who have found me—including a few new clients at that. SVV and I are on the middle of organizing a few influencer campaigns of our own, and it’s been a refreshing change getting to be at the creative helm for a change. If you’re looking for a consultant or project manager, feel free to hit us up. We love chatting about new, innovative ways we can work with others who share similar visions!
While many of my normal editorial projects tend to be one-offs, I’ve been working with YP writing all their Nashville content for the past 12 months. And of course, I’ll never stop freelancing—I’m currently in the middle of a pretty sizable Travel and Leisure project and have worked on several stories for Southern Living, Afar, Country Weekly and PEOPLE, among others.
Following The Royal Wedding (as we like to call it), we all took one massive nap and my sister moved into the house she and Josh bought earlier in the year.
Photo by Joe Hendricks
Their first child, Charlee, is now eight months old—yes, they fast-tracked things!—and it’s been so nice having all of them and my parents within a 20-minute drive of1 us. This also means my whiskey intake has increased dramatically.
Our old Victorian home is always at the forefront of everything we did: Even if we aren’t working on it, we’re talking about the next big project we’re going to tackle. With the refinance process finally complete, we can slow down a bit, though we’re both itching to paint the exterior now that our siding is done.
It’s the first time I’m starting a new year with zero flights booked, and that freedom and flexibility feels really good. With this year being the centennial of the national parks system, I’m hoping to get outdoors more and see not just the best parks around the country, but in my own backyard of Tennessee.
Leaving Nashville Lifestyles—and adopting a new approach to work and projects going on—has led to a drastic decline of my anxiety. As a highly-functioning Type A individual, I’ll always deal with this, but I’m learning to cope with exercise and identifying triggers, cutting panic attacks off before they develop. I still keep up a pretty strict workout regimen and am hoping to go back to a modified Whole30 eating plan more long-term.
I never really make resolutions but the goal for each coming year is always to be the best writer I can be—I’m constantly reading novels and magazines, taking notes and trying to up my own game—spend more time with my husband and pup, and just enjoy every minute of everything, always.
What were the highlights of your 2015? What are you hoping to accomplish in the coming 12 months?