It’s time for what seems like my annual ritual of giving you an actual glimpse into the inner workings of my life. I feel like my day-to-day is quite mundane—and you can always get glimpses of it on Instagram Stories if you’re really curious—but I also don’t share a whole lot of work-related stuff online, so I’m sure there are many of you who don’t know exactly what it is I do. (The short answer: writing, editing, photography, marketing and consulting. Easy enough, right?)
But let’s start with the holidays. Christmas was a weird one this year. Kari and Josh were gone to Charleston so we did a bit of a celebration a week out at my parents’ house and feigned that it was Dec. 25.
We spent Christmas Eve at our Nashville condo with friends, going to a service on Music Row, then Cheekwood for the Lights! exhibit, then Le Sel for dinner. On actual Christmas Day, Mom and Dad came over, and SVV cooked us all brunch (orange Grand Marnier French toast), we drank two bottles of champagne, then we went out into our yard and mulched (yes, mulched). It gave a new meaning to “Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals!”
On the Thursday after, we took our now-annual trip to Washington for a week, and it was epic. Posts on that to come, but here’s a little bit of a teaser:
So what else is new in my life? Well, to start…
On My Dad
We’re now 11 months, post-stroke, and while he’s made significant progress, we’re all a bit fearful that he’s plateaued. Speech is still quite difficult for him—he has a base vocabulary but stringing together coherent thoughts and sentences is often challenging—and we communicate in numbers and charades. He’s in good spirits, though, and best of all his physical health is probably the best it’s ever been; he stopped drinking and smoking (cold turkey!) after decades of doing both in excess and is walking up to six miles a day.
I’m hoping to write about this whole experience in a magazine piece soon, or maybe even an audio broadcast if I can find the right medium. It’s a story I feel that I need to tell more so than I’ve shared on this blog.
We hit our seven-year legal anniversary last month, and I adore this guy a thousand times more than I already did when we met all those years ago in Holland.
He took a leap of faith in the summer and quit his job with my dad, where he’d been working for five years, when it was evident Dad wouldn’t be going back to work, post-stroke. I’ll admit I was terrified that we’d now both be relying solely on my income, but I was already having a banner year, work-wise, and the second I had help, our workload increased even more. So it’s been a good, make that GREAT, change. And I like having him around the house with me a few days a week.
The other days a week, he’s working with my dad on a house-flip, which has been a good therapeutic endeavor for Dad, who is going stir-crazy at home after working 80-hour weeks the past four decades, and also for Mom, who needs a bit of a relief from caretaking every now and then.
I’m still working out consistently (four to six days a week), and I’m also back on the Whole30 train for a third round! One day, I’ll learn to just stick with a modified plan full-time, but for now, I’m on a 30- (or more realistically, 25-) day reset before heading to the Caribbean. I’m also hoping to run another half marathon in April, though I’m just now getting back on the running train. And I really love AcroYoga!
I DYED MY HAIR! What? I know. I still think the same thing every time I look in the mirror!
I was born blonde and still maintained a shade of dark blonde that would get natural sun highlights in the winter, then fade to a boring shade of blah in the winter. So the first time ever, I figured why not make a change? to get me through the winter months? Two months later, I’m still loving it and even thinking I could go a bit redder next time.
On Home Life
The week before Thanksgiving, a tornado ripped through my neighborhood. While it luckily didn’t hit our beautiful old Victorian house, it was a bit terrifying as the sirens went off again and again and we holed up with Ella in the basement. My sister, however, wasn’t so lucky. The tornado touched down in their neighborhood and did significant damage to all the yards in the area.
Miraculously, no one was killed or even hurt, but there are a whole lot of insurance claims floating around in that part of town right now.
Here’s what my sister’s house looked like the next day:
Yikes is right! And here are scenes we captured around her neighborhood about 16 hours after the fact:
Can you believe Camels & Chocolate turns 10 this year? Where has the decade gone? I have so many fun things in store, particularly one massive giveaway this summer to celebrate my 10 years in the blogosphere!
Speaking of which, what would you guys think about me cutting my blog posts into more bite-sized morsels and dispensing them more frequently (uh, after this one, that is…)? Like, instead of two to three 1,000-word posts a week, I’d aim for four to five in the 500-word range in an effort to include more work-related posts, more DIY home posts, more info about our Tennessee lives. Would you still read regularly if I were posting that much, but shorter?
I realize, I’m a lot wordier than most bloggers—SEO says you should keep your posts around 300 words, but I’ve always written for myself and all of you, rather than search engines—so I’m going to try to rein it in a bit and share more in smaller doses. Make sense? Good idea? Bad idea? Give me your thoughts in the comments below!
I added a new skill to my repertoire of journalistic offerings this past year: I did some on-camera hosting!
While it wasn’t my first time in front of the camera, it was the first time I live-streamed an event while on camera without break for two hours straight. It was both exhausting and exciting, and I was thrilled to represent Redbook at the 50th annual CMA Awards (you can watch it here).
I was placed on the carpet right next to the Ellen Show, which cutie pie Macey hosted. And even though I didn’t necessarily get to talk to everyone, they did at least have to pass me by and give me a little wave or a high-five (like Garth freakin’ Brooks, you guys!). Even better, SVV came as my cameraman (er, iPad-man). Then, a month later, I got to film a series of videos for the Brewers Association, which was so much fun as it meant a full morning getting paid to talk about beer while shooting inside a brewery (but no drinking, unfortunately!).
On New Business
We now have a handful of clients on monthly retainer, a couple of which I hope to share with you in the new year, and I’m still pounding away at the keyboard, thousands of words a day, split among various projects. While I’ve shifted to doing more copywriting, consulting and influencer marketing campaigns, I still do a good amount of editorial work, anywhere from four to eight magazine assignments a month, many of which I eventually add to my portfolio page for those of you who are interested.
And I’m also project managing a few such marketing initiatives, which should be a fun change of pace. Hannah is working on overhauling my professional page, but once that’s done, I’ll give more of an update here as to what those projects entail.
And because I’m all about setting intentions this year, in summary, in 2017:
- I will floss daily.
- I will develop a skincare routine.
- I will take care of my body, both how I treat it and what I put into it.
- I will blog shorter, but more often.
Sounds easy enough, right?