I’m writing this post from the plane, some 30,000 feet over Nevada, my first flight in over four months. But somehow it feels like I’ve only been in transit this year, probably because we’ve logged so many miles in my car as we’ve crisscrossed Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama. And that’s only going to be the case for the coming years as we’ve got some exciting new multi-year projects in the works!
But for now, let’s talk about October. Tennessee has been through a drought, meaning we had an unseasonably warm and dry October, which translated to a lot of time outside, a lot of playdates with the kids and so many fun events we got to be a part of.
We were only away four nights—three in Mississippi, one in Alabama—and in addition to photo and content shoots, had so many print deadlines in October, for tourism publications and major consumer magazines. Here were the highlights.
We opened a coworking space! Our biggest news of the fall, we decided to open CoWork Tullahoma (because we needed something else to do!). We bought a commercial building with our friends Molly and Chad at the beginning of this year, and after months of trying to figure out what kind of concept, we collectively decided Tullahoma needed office rentals for remote workers. Enter: us! We had our soft launch last week and are officially booking spaces, both private offices and desks in a shared space.
We finished our first outdoor mural of the new fiscal year. This was DMA’s first international muralist hire, and I’m so obsessed with this piece called Shift that Sophi Odling created for us in Tullahoma on the side of Rigney HomeCraft. It might be one of my favorites yet, though having a favorite mural is like having a favorite child (and by that I mean it changes by the day, ha!). You can read the full story about this piece via the Tullahoma News or through our nonprofit’s social media.
We also had a pair of murals for Metro Nashville Public Schools. This project took more than nine months to complete (the bureaucratic red tape of a school system sure moves like molasses), but I’m so glad we’re now officially a vendor of MNPS and that the kids of Tom Joy get to look at this Kim Radford beauty (the tiger) and Cymone Wilder inspiration (the quote) daily!
We started traveling the North Alabama Birding Trail. One tourism board we’ve absolutely adored working with over the years is Visit North Alabama, and they hired us to travel the birding trail that crisscrosses the 16 counties of the northern part of their state. This checks all the boxes for things we love—travel, photography, rural tourism and wildlife—and we couldn’t be more excited to be in the throes of this project for the next couple months. We’ve already seen so many cool birds (egrets, hawks, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, etc.), and prime birding months are still around the corner!
We attended our third straight Rural Tourism Conference in Mississippi. I love this conference because it travels to a different rural area of the South each year and is an opportunity for many of the smaller tourism boards and chambers to attend and mingle with fellow marketing pros. And while this year wasn’t my favorite iteration of it (the content was a bit lackluster TBH), I’m really excited for it to return to Tennessee next year where I know my state will bring its A game.
I had so many fun family shoots. This year, I decided to shut down my calendar early and try to get all my regular Christmas card clients in before the trees were stripped of their leaves (and before I hit the road again for much of November). We photographed newborns and families, ghosts and witches, and I’m relatively caught up on edits of family galleries as a result and am hoping that means more time to play over the holidays and less time spent in front of the computer.
Speaking of witches, we shot our first Witches Ride (just for fun). Several of my friends don their best makeup and witchy wear to ride through the neighborhoods and scare all the kiddos (and give them candy), and it’s very quickly become a very fun tradition. I put together this reel of their dance, and it’s possibly my favorite thing we’ve witnessed in awhile.
And speaking of flying (see what I did there?), we also attended our second Beech Party at Beechcraft. This Beechcraft museum in my hometown celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, and if you want to see SVV get excited about something, put him on an airfield with 200 vintage aircraft and watch him light up like a Christmas tree. We took Charlotte and Mac one afternoon, and they had the best time running all over the grounds and talking about the “nice smooth planes.”
My AAA gig is back! After this summer of AAA Living being yet another casualty of print dying, I was thrilled to hear back from my editor that they’re bringing it back in digital version. This has been a client I have absolutely loved working with for going on eight years now, and I was devastated when the magazine died and thrilled when they said they’re coming back, but with an even more robust presence. As a reminder, SVV and I were cover models on this issue a year ago!
Every month I type out an honest challenges section, then wind up deleting because a) it just feels like a whole lot of navel-gazing and complaining for nothing (my tiniest of struggles are nothing, NOTHING, in comparison to anything going on in the world) and b) I’m also very careful to disclose any work behind-the-scenes because as a free agent I want to be hirable and keep a stellar reputation.
So without giving away the backstory, let’s just say that being a journalist is not always roses and I had one particularly rough project that kept me close to tears for days. I say that so that anyone else who is a solo entrepreneur or freelance writer knows that we all have those bad days (months) and that they’re easier to put in perspective when you’re on the other side of said project.
And instead of harping on how terrible those few days were—sorry to my awesome husband who had to see me completely come undone—I’ll say that I’m grateful for the paycheck and also thankful that I get to pick and choose my projects and that everyone is a learning curve for the next. If I work with that team or client again (a big if…), I’ll know how to better communicate expectations and ask all the right questions upfront because so many issues can be solved with an open line of communication.
My Favorites of the Month
Favorite audiobook: Tom Lake by Ann Patchett (and narrated by Meryl Streep!)
Favorite TV show: Lessons in Chemistry (Apple TV+)
Favorite podcast: The Kids of Rutherford County (from Serial Productions and the New York Times)
What were your top October highlights? All past month recaps are linked here.