Black Sand Beach in Puerto Rico

February 2019 Highlights: The Highs + Lows

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The best Tweet I read this month was by @ABlannar: “January went by pretty slow, but February’s doing 75 mph in a 35 mph zone.” Can anyone else relate?

The shortest month of the year is usually my favorite, because not only is it my birthday and contains a long holiday weekend—which more or less means nothing to the self-employed, except that our emails and phones are quiet for a couple days–but it’s typically the month we try to take an actual vacation before our busy season kicks off in March and extends through November.

Vacation to Puerto Rico

I only wrote three blog posts in February—my January recap, an update on all the new Oklahoma City murals, a tell-all on renovating our latest rental property—and despite only averaging one blog post every one to two weeks, my traffic is higher than ever. Go figure. I still would like to get back to my average of eight posts a month … one of these days.


We won a community service award. We’re members of the Tullahoma Chamber of Commerce, and they surprised us at the annual member banquet with the “Extra Miler of the Year Award.” I’m not going to lie, I cried a little and am so humbled and grateful for the support we’ve received from my hometown in recent years.

Odinn Media at Tullahoma Chamber of Commerce

We went to Memphis. My Aunt Lou turned 70, so all the cousins flew and drove in from all over, and it was an epic weekend of family and celebration. After the fact, SVV and I stuck around an extra three days to write some Memphis content, which I hope to publish next week.

Aunt Lou's 70th Birthday

Aunt Lou's 70th Birthday
Aunt Lou's 70th Birthday
Aunt Lou's 70th Birthday

We got some great local press about our upcoming art projects. While Manchester as a whole has not been great to us—the city owes us a huge chunk of money for doing their website and rebrand, which they’ve been withholding for a year now, sigh—the local newspaper, Manchester Times, has been great advocates for the mural work we’ve been doing locally. Most recently, they announced our plans for the skate park and the baseball fields.

DMA Events in Manchester Times

Tennessee Home & Farm magazine also featured our murals. What a fun thing to open up Farm Bureau’s magazine and see a little blurb written about us (instead of by us) for a change!

Tennessee Home & Farm magazine: Manchester Murals
Tennessee Home & Farm magazine: Manchester Murals

We’ve fleshed out some cool new projects for the year. We’ll be going back to Oklahoma City twice (one for the Plaza District Arts Festival!), to the Peaceful Side of the Smokies a couple times and to Cincinnati twice for content/photography projects, and I couldn’t be more excited.

We took an actual vacation to Puerto Rico. I know, I know, many of y’all think we vacation for a living. The reality is that we don’t, and we try to purposely plan one non-work trip a year just to actually relax. We’re not great at relaxing, truth be told, but we forced ourselves to get off our computers for seven days and not work (much … we still tended to some day-to-day client work) while we were in Puerto Rico with two of our besties.

Puerto Rico Vacation

I turned 36! I don’t know about you, but I love birthdays, and ringing in a new year in Puerto Rico was the best birthday of all.

Vacation to Puerto Rico

Speaking of birthdays, Charlotte Rose turns one next week! Can’t believe we’re busy preparing for baby girl’s first birthday party tomorrow (unicorn-themed, obviously). She continues to be the happiest, cutest, funnest baby I’ve ever been around.

Charlotte Turns One
Charlotte Turns One
Charlotte Turns One


Busy is not a badge of honor. I love all the traveling we do, and even though we haven’t been traveling as much lately—just one to two trips a month, as opposed to one a week—I’ve found very little time to actually write, which I miss. I have so many blog posts in my queue that I want to put out there—from Nashville planning tips to everything about our Azores weekend getaway last summer—and I’m looking forward to figuring out a balance that gives me more downtime to put words to paper, er, a computer screen.

Maxed out bandwidth. One of the reasons that we’ve had so little downtime, besides running our business and all our rental properties, is because we’ve taken on a LOT of community projects in the past year. These are personally fulfilling and we love leaving a mark on the place we live, but both of us are going to have to figure out a better balance of what we say “yes” to, as all the committees and boards and public art projects are really a drain on our time. And while that’s not a bad thing, I do want to have some actual personal time to just enjoy life (and Ella)(and our house) this year. I thought I’d learned how to say “no,” and I have when it comes to social commitments and actual paying work funny enough, but SVV and I are both suckers for community improvement and find ourselves signing on to a lot more volunteer work than we can handle.

Tennessee flooded. We picked a great time to go to the Caribbean, as Tennessee picked this February to be the wettest in recorded history (and the seventh wettest month of all time). Homes were destroyed, mudslides ensued, sections of the interstates are still closed indefinitely and a few people died. The governor declared Tennessee a state of emergency. Manchester was wrecked as it’s situated along the Little Duck River, but by the time we got home, everything had miraculously dried up. (That said, it’s already raining hard again.) Our houses are fine, thankfully!

Flooding in Middle Tennessee

Credit: WSMV

Companies trying to rob freelancers. The freelancing I’m doing these days is less and less—which is twofold; we’re doing a lot more consulting for bigger brands and tourism boards, but mostly because rates have plummeted and who has time to write for free?—but one of my favorite clients to create content for is Marriott. Unfortunately, Marriott uses Contently through which to funnel all of its content needs, and Contently just announced it will be charging freelancers to get paid, starting in April. You read that right. WAT? Can you imagine if your boss started saying that you have to agree to give him/her 5 percent every time you get a paycheck just because? Note: It doesn’t go to anything like social security, healthcare, etc.; it’s simply Contently’s way of robbing freelancers. Also note: Contently is funded by companies like Marriott paying beaucoup dollars to use their services, so now they’re nibbling on both ends. This is one of the more asinine things I have read in an industry that is slowly losing its mind. Sadly, I won’t be writing for Marriott any longer so long as they’re on this shoddy platform (and like I said, I love love love Marriott and even more so, love love love my editor there!). Freelancers, I employ you to write your clients who use Contently and also Tweet them and voice your concerns. (UPDATE: IT WORKED. Contently reversed its decision thanks to a flood of input from freelancers and editors alike.)

How was February for you?

  • March 1, 2019

    I look forward to all of your blog posts, but the monthly recap is my favorite! Keep up the awesome work!

    • March 1, 2019

      Oh, thank you, Karolyn! I appreciate it!

  • March 1, 2019

    Agreed–I love the monthly recaps!

    And giiiiirrrllll, don’t even get me started on the Contently fee charging! It is DEPLORABLE that they have instituted this, and to me signals a downward spiral. They’re going to lose their most talented writers, and then those big clients that they love? Will not be getting the expertise and top-notch talent they’re supposedly paying for, and getting mediocre (at best) content instead. At which point no one should be surprised if they’re like, “C-ya, Contently!”

    Ugh. It’s just such a stupid, selfish move on their part.

    • March 3, 2019

      Did you see the CEO try to retract his statement? Like, too little, too late, JOE.

  • March 1, 2019

    Whew Chillay! Contently and their shenanigans, thanks for the heads up. I’m in the midst of planning our travels for this year. But, me actually putting out a blog post has been hell. I’ve created distractions like ever before. But, this was a good read.

    • March 3, 2019

      I hear ya, girl! It’s felt like a challenge to me, too.

      ooooooh…where are you planning on going, pray tell!

  • March 3, 2019

    I love reading your highlights of the month / season, as I’m too busy to read other peoples’ stuff these days. And I do like reading them as I don’t like vlogs!

    Congratulations on your community service award AND your birthday. You must both be so proud.

    It’s so funny reading about Manchester in the US, especially when I come from the original Manchester, in England!

    But OMG! What are Marriot thinking of re-charging freelancers to receive their very OWN money! What? How rude!

    So what have I been doing? Can I add January too?
    I went to Norway in January. I also went to two film festivals and was in the German paper ‘cos of Brexit. Thank goodness I have dual British-German citizenship as it might get nasty. 🙁

    I also took part in a TV documentary about British people who live in Berlin & Brandenburg, and how we felt, etc. It was supposed to be screened in February, but it was postponed ‘cos of a black-out! It’s going to be shown in a few days instead and I’m on the poster –

    I’ve actually seen it, and it puts me in very good light, but I always find it uncomfortable seeing my own face on TV, as I sound totally different in German!

    • March 3, 2019

      I know! I’ve been wanting to do a Manchester to Manchester post about traveling from here to our “sister city.” 😉 I LOVE YOUR HOMETOWN. It’s one of my favorite cities in England!

      Also, just to clarify, it’s Contently in the wrong, not Marriott! None of the vendors knew what was coming, and they pay a pretty penny to manage all their writers through that platform.

      Norway in January sounds right up my alley! I’ve got a pretty cute winter wardrobe, ha.

      Thanks for checking in—I’ve missed you, Victoria! Meet up in Europe this year?

  • March 3, 2019

    So glad you got some time to (sort of?) relax! I totally agree that February flew by. I spent nearly all of January in another country, and typically those long stints abroad are what go by quickly. This time, I found my domestic travels in February to be much too short.

    Also, happy belated birthday from a fellow February baby!

    • March 3, 2019

      We did! Just not good at relaxing, ha! But working was minimal, and it was nice 😉

      Happy birthday to you, too, Riley!!! Hope it was a great one.

  • March 7, 2019

    Happy belated birthday! “January went by pretty slow, but February’s doing 75 mph in a 35 mph zone.” I’m still shocked it’s already March! How did that happen?

    • March 7, 2019

      Me, too! Almost spring. And almost tulip season for you in Holland!

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