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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.)