The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

In 2015: Highlights from the Year

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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).

 The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

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?

Travel

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 Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

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.

Breckenridge, Colorado | The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

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!

Knoxville, Tennessee | The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

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.

San Francisco, California | The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends
San Francisco, California | The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

Lake Tahoe, California | The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

San Francisco, California | The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends
San Francisco, California | The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

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!

Lexington, Kentucky | The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends
Lexington, Kentucky | The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

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?

The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

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).

Charleston, South Carolina | The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

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.

Bonaire | The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

Aruba | The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends
Aruba | The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

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!

The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends
The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

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.

New York City | The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends
The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends
The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

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?

Seattle, Washington | The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

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!

New Year's Eve in Knoxville

Career

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.

The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

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!

The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

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.

Personal

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.

The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

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.

Golden Doodle Puppy
Golden Doodle Puppy

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.

Renovating an 1800s Victorian house

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.

The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

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.

The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends
The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

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.

I’d say I do a pretty good job of this last part, but I am prone to negativity so I have to constantly remind myself of how good I truly have it, being able to say that I have a career and house that I love, a strong relationship with the best man I know, and a fur daughter who couldn’t round out SVV’s and my collective existence more perfectly.
The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

What were the highlights of your 2015? What are you hoping to accomplish in the coming 12 months?

 The Best of 2015: Career, Travel, Family and Friends

For past year-end reviews, see my recaps here: 20082009201020112012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

COMMENTS
  • January 2, 2016

    Taken out of context the man in the sea made me giggle, until I realized it was one of the statues you had seen in England 🙂

    My highlight of 2015 was moving back to the Netherlands; for 2016 I can’t wait to settle into my own place and visit more of my own country – which includes Bonaire and Curacao – my first trip this year will be to Alkmaar next weekend!

    • January 11, 2016

      Ha! A few people on Instagram thought he was actually a naked man 😉

      Can’t wait to see your Bonaire and Curacao recaps!!

  • January 2, 2016

    I have to say, 2015 has been an epic year for me from a lot of points of view. I actually counted that I have visited 10 countries, 5 of them I had never visited before. I achieved one of my biggest dreams going to Bolivia 🙂 In terms of career, I have ditched everything I was doing and started my own blog (and I need to redesign it!). My personal life has been meh as always. But I can be hopeful for the future. Also, I shall add that I have discovered your lovely blog!

    • January 11, 2016

      And ditto! Happy 2016 to you, Claudia! I still haven’t been to Bolivia, so I’ll live vicariously through your recent adventures =)

  • January 2, 2016

    I would like to hire you as my personal wedding guest stylist from now until eternity, and I hope this won’t be one of those times that you practice saying no. HOW DO YOU LOOK SO CUTE ALL THE TIME!?

    Very honored to have made it into the annual roundup. Fingers crossed we make it happen again in 2016!

    • January 4, 2016

      The What’s In My Bag: Camels & Chocolate in Residence edition where you unzip that massive Lipault duffel (that never arrived) and I pop out of it? Love that idea 😉

      Yes, yes, I will be the Cinna to your Katniss anyday!

  • January 2, 2016

    I am impressed with the amount of energy you have. Does your day have more hours than mine, or is it just age? You, SVV, the house and Ella all look great! Keep that positive attitude. I too suffer from negativity but we can beat it. Have a wonderful 2016!

    • January 4, 2016

      Ha! People ask me that all the time, and the truth is I just have trouble with sleep so I wind up spending a lot of time while people are zzzzzzing…doing. 😉 (And I’m also highly efficient with my time, so I guess there’s that?)

      And right back at you!

  • January 3, 2016

    Beautiful year. =)

  • January 3, 2016

    Gorgeous photos and what an amazing year you had!! I still can’t believe we haven’t met in person yet. Wishing you an amazing 2016 as well!

    • January 11, 2016

      I know! It’s almost comical at this point. Let’s make a mission for this to happen in 2016…Eurovision in your town? 😉

  • January 3, 2016
    Brandy

    Happy New Year! Love the 2015 recap and look forward to seeing all your adventures in 2016. I don’t have a ton of plans for 2016 yet besides some work trips to California and a long weekend in Montreal, but I’m definitely going to try to make it to some of our national parks this year, too.

    • January 11, 2016

      Same! Right now, I have Europe in August with my family and maybe California in April to see the in-laws, but other than that, I’m blissfully open and it feels nice =)

  • January 4, 2016

    You are such a great photographer! I always love looking at all of the pictures on your blog 🙂

    • January 11, 2016

      Thank you, Katherine! That is the nicest compliment!

  • January 4, 2016

    One of the most entertaining 2015 recaps I’ve read. So happy for you!

    • January 11, 2016

      Thanks, girl! And thanks for sticking with me so long =)

  • January 6, 2016

    What a fab year! Love all the photos…

    In 2016, I resolve to travel more while somehow saving up to quit my job in 2017?!

    • January 11, 2016

      Ha! That’s a great resolution to have. You’ll just come up with more creative ways to travel, that’s all =)

  • January 6, 2016

    Loved reading this and can’t wait for our March trip to make it in next years recap… oh, and a ski trip, beach trip, maybe Scotland trip… I think KidAugustine should go to Scotland for her first birthday, don’t you? xoxo

    • January 11, 2016

      Obviously! #KidAugustineDoesNC5002016. Too long? Dying to do that north coast route!

  • January 11, 2016

    what a year! excited for all of the good changes you have coming your way. and jealous of your exotic travels!

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