I didn’t think things could get crazier than in past years, but 2014 felt every bit as busy as ever—even though I didn’t log nearly the number of miles I did as that summer we camped around the West for a couple months then moved across country then circumnavigated the globe by ship. (Whew!)
The good and the bad (but mostly the good), the highs and the lows (but mostly the highs), here’s a breakdown of the chaos that has been the past 12 months….
My new travel philosophy is fewer far-flung trips a year and more drivable destinations. I don’t have the gumption to fly 10,000 miles a month like I once did; plus, I miss my husband and puppy terribly when I am gone so long. Instead, I’m enjoying a whole lot of shorter domestic trips, some alone, others with SVV (or my mom) in tow.
For work, I went to the Caribbean twice—St. Kitts in the spring, Grand Cayman in the fall—as well as Gatlinburg, Montana, Seattle for my partnership with Microsoft, Panama City Beach, Orlando for the expansion of Wizarding World and Virginia Beach.
But my favorite trip of all was the only time I crossed international waters and headed to Europe for three weeks with my family. We visited several cities and regions in Italy, Sicily, Greece, Montenegro, Slovenia and Croatia. I’m nearly done recapping that trip, too—only six months later! We also fought the good fight with Delta and WON, finding a nice $1000 check in our mailbox week before last for lost luggage and a number of canceled flights. It’s a Christmas miracle!
I’m too lazy to total up my miles driven, cities visited or flight legs taken, but I imagine it’s not a shabby number. I don’t have any huge travel plans—yet—for 2015, other than to go to Memphis to visit St. Jude in just two weeks, California at the end of February to speak at Women’s Travel Fest (join me there!), our family timeshare in Orlando in June (more time with Harry Potter!), and hopefully back down to Florida with our family to 30A later in the summer. SVV and I are also trying to find a way to jet off to Colorado in January to ski, as flights are just $180 round-trip.
2014 was the year I went back into an office. I know … WHAT? But it was on my own terms, I only committed to three days a week (and now reduced to two), and I absolutely love my coworkers and what I’m doing. So … #worthit. I also got to interview Taylor Swift and other country artists I love as a result. A big thanks to the team at Nashville Lifestyles for welcoming me with open arms (and double oaked Woodford Reserve)!
It took me a lot of time this year to recover from the emotional turmoil of having a business partner screw me over in a huge way (i.e. when my other half of KEEN Digital Summit left me high and dry with the full bill and workload just six weeks before the big event!). Many of you have asked if I’ll be doing KEEN again, and the answer is no (and now you know why); however, I’m open to working as a producer for any other companies who might be putting on a conference in Nashville or elsewhere. I did really enjoy the whole, tedious, 18-month process and would love to be able to put that knowledge and experience to use on a future event (just not one that I am personally financing, as that was far too stressful).
I also had a better freelance year than ever; for those of you who don’t think being a freelance writer is a sustainable career, let’s just say that my income is far healthier than it would be had I stayed on the NYC magazine track and were now working as a senior or deputy editor. A lot of that is because I’ve retooled my priorities and weeding out the clients and publications that simply aren’t a good fit. You may have noticed, too, but I don’t solely focus on travel anymore. Rather, I cover a wide variety of topics, including food, entertainment, business and more. I’ve also dabbled in other pursuits beyond magazine, one of which is going to be a big focus in 2015 (you’ll just have to stay tuned for more information on that!). As a result, I’ve had a lucrative few years freelancing and a whole lot of great opportunities.
It’s clear that I’m not producing the volume of content I once did, but the good news is I don’t plan to go anywhere anytime soon. While I would love to get back to posting a solid three times a week, that’s simply unrealistic with my workload—I write more than 10,000 words a day, seven days a week as it is!—so I will continue to recap my travels as I have the time, likely once or twice weekly. I hope you’ll stick around, as I have a lot planned for 2015, including house coverage, Nashville fun, celebrities and more. I’ll probably make some changes around here in the late spring or summer (like swapping out Photo Friday with another column), but for now, the funds I’d put into hiring someone to do design work are being allocated for That Secret Work Thing I referenced above. I’m sure you understand—though personally I’m getting antsy and ready for a fifth(!) site design in the going-on-eight years this blog has been around.
Even though it may not have seemed like it to you since I haven’t shared a lot, we are constantly working on our old Queen Anne home over holidays and weekends when not traveling. We’re slowly replacing all of the 100-year-old siding, which we will then paint in its entirety when the woodwork is done next spring. Right now, with it being so bitterly cold out, we’ve been finally tackling a little interior design, doing some paint work, framing and hanging some art, rearranging rooms.
We’ve also spent a lot of time landscaping, gardening and building a fence. 2015 will be the year we have an enclosed lot to welcome plenty of foster dogs until they find their forever homes!
Family & Friends
Always the most important part of my life, I’ve been building my creative community in Nashville full of people I admire and respect and enjoy being around. I’ve never been happier in that respect, and every day I’m glad we left California and came back to the South. These are my people; this is my place.
So many other friends from far and wide visited us, too, this year—from our on-the-go Seattle pals to Team Mayhem to our Hollywood hotshot Nicole. I love playing hostess, so I hope we’ll get even more visits in 2015 (*hint, hint*).
On the friend front, we also attended eight weddings—from Austin to New York, California to Nashville—and next is going to be no different, what with me being matron of honor for my sister’s September wedding and a bridesmaid for a close childhood friend in July. We already have five weddings on the calendar, and I’m sure that number will grow. Good thing we like a party!
And, of course, last but not least, my sister and Josh moved to Tennessee a few weeks ago—we couldn’t be happier to have them nearby.
Happy New Year’s, dear friends! And do tell me what your favorite accomplishments of 2014 were. I always love to see what everyone else has to say about their past year.