Peace out January, Here comes February... and how I'm making work more joyful
So January has breezed by, and now it's time to buckle down, do taxes and commune with manta rays (cuz that's something that makes any winter better)
As I look back at this month I noticed a few things about January and what made it go by so quickly. Typically January is a hard month for me (and a lot of people) because it’s cold, pretty dark, and it’s full of society-imposed hope/resolutions. That all drives me nuts and it’s tough to get past, but I figured out why this January was better, which I’ll share below. Also, I have some really fun 2024 travel ideas that are interesting, not cost prohibitive for a lot of families, and some awesome bucket list adventures to ponder too.
Next week we’re heading back to Hawaii to complete our island hopping adventure that got postponed back in November, so that’ll be fun to share. The kids have both said that they want to record podcast episodes about it after we get home and I think they’ll have a really unique perspective on it. UnCruise is our partner for several really cool adventures this year, and as we sail in Hawaii and then up in Alaska, we’ll be sharing the wildlife, education, comfort-level challenging, and family fun of it all.
Podcast Update - What’s New and Coming Soon
This year I’ve gotten to record some different sorts of podcast episodes, and it’s been refreshing. We’ve got new and return guests talking about everything from road trips to authoring a memoir. Coming up in the next few weeks we’ve got episodes about planning a trip to Ireland, some more stories from Hawaii island hopping, and New York City. So much happening! Get the podcast in YOUR favorite listening service here!
What’s Making My Work Joyful
Like I was saying, January is usually really hard for me because of the weather and overall downward slope of seasons and new fiscal year and all that. The other thing that always wears on me too is all the talk around resolutions and goals. This year I stopped that in its tracks and it’s already put me into a better state of mind. I get it that people like to think of January 1 as a fresh start and an easy marker to track personal progress from, but for me since I always really struggle in Jan, I had to break my part in this collective mindset.
This year I have just been focusing on creating the things that bring me joy and then figuring out how I’ll benefit from it after. I’m not setting goals of getting a certain amount of writing done or securing big contracts right out the gate (and I usually focus on setting up clients in January), but instead I’m just rolling with the creative side of life. Yes, I’m taking care of work obligations and getting things published and sent out to the people I work with (tourism clients and brands…), but I’m doing it on a timeline that keeps me happy and that lets me use my energy where and when I need to on the things that bring me joy.
I know that not everyone gets to have this sort of freedom when it comes to work, but I am fortunate enough to get to, so I’m sticking to it. I’ve been recording podcast episodes with friends that inspire me (Yay, Angie for your new book!). I’ve been writing about places that make me and my family happy (like LGBTQ-inclusive Pensacola). I’ve been keeping my head down and staying in my own lane and it’s been life-changing. We’re all responsible for our own happiness and taking control of it where you can, or where I can since I’m talking about me, has had a big, wonderful impact.
I’m going to keep with this process: create, choose joy, mind my own business. If you catch me NOT doing this, call it out. Send me a message, email me, text me, leave an Instagram comment…
NYC Recap - New York with a Pre-teen
We got home from New York City last night. It was the best trip to NYC I've ever had, and I'm excited to share about it, and I think we'll need to record a podcast (Oliver and I) to dig into it all. I go to New York every January for a work event and rarely enjoy it. It’s always cold and wet and… New York. This year was different though and I loved it!
Oliver asked if he could join me in NYC, so I asked my good friend Kate to join and she and here son came along with us. This meant that we could explore with friends and Oliver would have somebody to hang out with during my working time. It was perfect and this week’s experience in NYC surpassed all my expectations. Getting to travel with just Oliver and not little bro and Papa was really fun. I saw a different side of him and we really got the chance to bond.
But what sort of things do you do in New York City with a pre-teen in the full swing of moodiness and self-discovery? Well, it was easier to plan than you might expect. The four of us included two 40s something adults and two 12 year olds, so what is the common denominator? Easy: Magic and Music. We spent five days exploring the city and it was so much fun. Here’s our list of activities (blog post with a complete itinerary coming soon):
Times Square, totally tourist activities and fun food
Empire State Building (yes, totally worth it and better than Top of the Rock)
Harry Potter New York - a really cool shopping experience if you’re into HP
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child matinee on Broadway
Ellen’s Stardust Diner - diner with servers performing all through the restaurant
Central Park and the zoo (group fun while I worked)
Nintendo, M&M, Nike, Lego and other unique stores
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) for Monet’s waterlilies and Van Gogh’s Starry Night
New York Public Library exhibits and Ghostbuster stacks
JP Morgan Library and an amazing collection of first editions and much more
Wicked on Broadway - it was incredible and a much better experience than the touring show
Walking the Highline and Little Island with friends
We really did a lot in five days and enjoyed it all. Getting to do NYC with Oliver gave me a completely new view of the city. Also, now Elliott has asked to have a special trip to New York too. And he wants to see Wicked and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child too. Good times. ;-)
Plan for Spring Break NOW!
I know it’s still January, but March/April will be here before any of us realize it. We’ve got our Spring Break plan already (Peru with the kids, using miles and exploring on a budget - all that info to come after our trip) but I know a lot of our friends haven’t started planning. Here’s why I’m bringing this up now: hotels and flights for Spring Break can be expensive and campsites fill up fast, theme parks can be busy, and many National Parks require entry reservations these days. You need to plan!
Here are my top picks for fun Spring Break trips that can fit with a broad range of budgets.
Pensacola Beach, FL - easy to fly into, beautiful sand, fun downtown, easy to visit Mobile AL also
San Diego CA - I think it’s still pretty cold during Spring Break, but if you’re coming from the Pacific Northwest or Midwest, it’s delightful
Chicago, IL - really cool museums, a different sort of metropolis, Ferris Bueller tour…
Vancouver, BC - even though it’ll still be a bit chilly, Vancouver is really fun for food, culture, nearby hiking and much more
Washington, DC - spring in DC is awesome and it’s great to visit with any age
Arizona Road Trip - hit up the Grand Canyon, Phoenix and Saguaro National Park; good for all ages and hiking abilities / mobility challenges
California National Parks - if you’re just doing Spring Break, you can’t visit them all, but you can hit up half of the NPs in CA.
Georgia Coast Road Trip - from Savannah to Cumberland Island National Seashore, it’ll be warm and beautiful!
That’s it for this week! Next week we head to Hawaii so stay tuned for that adventure over on Instagram. Thank you for following along on the adventure, and if you have any questions about the trips we have coming up or need some ideas for planning your own stuff, let us know. I love helping other people with travel stuff!