Why 2024 is Going to Be... Better or the Same...
I'm starting the year by setting an expectation of myself that not every moment has to be able goals, but can just be about living (and I have some life tips to make meaningful experiences for all)
So yeah, welcome to 2024. This year is going to be interesting for us for many reasons, and I hope it’s smooth and wonderful. It’s been funny watching social media and seeing how the general mindset people are sharing is much more of just “Let’s get through this, let’s be gentle on ourselves and others…” and not proclaiming loud goals and pretending like January is a fresh start. I kind of love it and to me that feels more authentic and doable. So here are my thoughts for starting off a new year (and then I have some travel stuff to share).
AND IT’S MY BIRTHDAY WEEK!! That’s right, I too get older despite my agelessness (totally kidding). Yes, I do have birthday wishes (thank you for asking). I would love to have my friends, online pals and readers subscribe to our podcast. It’s a very different way to share our stories and we get to have lots of different guests on, so
New Year, Same You (that’s okay)
There’s nothing wrong with the old me or the old you. Unless you’re actually a person who acts to the detriment of others, you’re not a bad person and you don’t need to “change.” But change is inevitable and good, so evolving through the year and through life is expected and beneficial. Since I’m the one sharing, here’s what I think I am progressing with or have really updated how I roll.
Evaluating 2023: I’d give it an A-
I don’t dwell on the past. I mean, I dwell on how awkward I make situations and dwell on how I let opportunities pass me by and how awesome things were before… Okay, so I do dwell and with 2023 that led to me handling things very differently. At the start of the year I had come off a crazy 2022 because I told myself that I would say Yes to everything, and that turned out to be too much. So with 2023 I decided to just accept the work that was truly beneficial and brought lots of joy. That worked well.
I can confidently say that with the exception of the Hawaii stranding, all of the projects and trips in 2023 were awesome, brought a lot of joy, and brought about work that I loved and am proud of. 2022 was NOT the same so I feel like I personally made progress in understanding what was worthwhile for my family and my work. I said no to doing work with products and selling stuff, so that made me feel good AND it made space for doing more meaningful stuff all through 2023. (but so many good articles came from both years!)
One of my highlights of last year was getting to participate in Pensacola’s Stamped LGBTQ Film Festival. After being surrounded by an awesome community of artists and people from all walks of life, I know that I want to do more events and projects that support families like ours and LGBTQ youth. More to come on what that means in 2024.
2023 was also a year for getting to really know our kids. They’re growing and changing so quickly, and I think that they are diverging from each other a bit. Yes, they are still best buddies, but I can really see how they have very different interests and needs. I don’t know if I was just not paying enough attention before or if we’re at a moment in life when everything is changing for them, but last year felt like a whole year of getting to know the boys as their own people. I loved it.
Easy Fitness and Health
2023 saw me actively making choices that were way different than my norm. I used to be a fitness instructor and taught kickboxing, core, weight training, aquafit… and then after adding a second little dude to our world I stopped and just carried on with day to day life. And I got into beer and baking and blogging and didn’t take time to be intentionally active. Last year that changed for me.
In 2023 I started walking with a friend several mornings each week and that spiraled into me running again. Now I’m running and walking a ton and I feel completely different. Apparently when you’re in your 40s you don’t physically look much different in any short amount of time when you add walking and running several miles a day, but I feel completely different.
It’s actually been really easy to just set an alarm for an hour earlier than I would normally wake up and it’s been completely worth it. And if you’re thinking I’m crazy for starting running again (cuz my knees are cranky), running on flat routes and alternating with walking days has made it so my body doesn’t get angry with me, which is normally when I lose steam and give up. Months into walking and running and I truly feel like it’s a habit now which makes it even easier to stick with.
Bonus: since we live by the beach, I make sure that I walk on the beach for at least a few minutes EVERY day. I love the ocean more than I can express, so spending a few minutes of my day staring into the great beyond also does wonders for me.
Financial Transparency with Yourself
Last year I spent a lot of time telling myself that “a little spend now will be a big return later.” I was pretending that I was more business savvy than I actually am. I have a process for planning my work and projecting the income from it, but I willingly over-estimated myself all through 2023. It’s not like I was being flippantly financially irresponsible, but just not honest with myself.
Midway through the year Google starting switching up how internet traffic flowed and my site got hit harder than I was ready for. I didn’t change my business spending methods and update my views of what was worth my time and money and I should have. Not to overshare, but with how everything changed via Google, for the first time in years and years, I operated my business at a loss for Q4. But I’m okay with that.
The reason I’m okay with it is because I took time to make myself ready for a big year in 2024. I’m investing in my own education and tools. I spent more than planned on travel, but I am already working on being a profit center for my business. I approached projects from a more costly angle and now I know better how to manage upcoming work.
Even as I reread what I just wrote I feel like I’m lying to myself a little, trying to justify my spending, but there’s no going back so I must treat my spending as genuine investments in my business and make it all count. If anyone is interested to hear more about this element of my blogging business, I’ll happily share in another newsletter or blog post, just ask.
PS: I always chuckle when I’m on a work trip and the rental car is a convertible. I only do it when it’s the same cost as a regular car, but 2023 felt a little more over the top due to the many convertible trips. ;)
Travel Stories and Plans
Ahh, so now that we’ve been home for a while (and kids are back at school today) I’ve gotten to really dig into writing about our Q4 travels. My favorite part of getting to travel for work is going through photos and telling the stories online. I feel like each story or itinerary is helpful to somebody somewhere, so that brings me joy with each article I get to publish.
The last few weeks have included a variety of articles and podcast episodes:
Visiting Haleakala National Park - this was the best part of visiting Maui
Plan for Exploring Maui - we did it very differently than how everyone told us to
Arizona National Park Road Trip - long-time bff Kelly and I worked hard for this!
Beginners Guide to the Bahamas - article and podcast with my pal Angie
Planning International Family Travel - podcast with Kate (we do a LOT of work together and she’s my walking buddy and one of my closest crew)
There’s more coming soon, but for now these travel tips and podcast episodes really capture the fun work I’ve been diving into. Just wait until you see what else is coming to the blog!
National Parks for 2024
Of course we’re always planning new National Parks to visit. This year should have some fun ones if everything goes to plan. I’m really excited for the mix of the desert and temperate rainforests… Here’s what’s on the docket thus far:
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
Glacier Bay National Park
Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park
and (hoping!) Katmai National Park!!
White Sands National Park
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
I’m also hoping we can make it to Kenai Fjords and Denali. I used to live in Alaska and worked just outside both parks so have spent so many wonderful days there. I hope we can make these parks happen when we head to Alaska in June.
While the boys are still guaranteed to be deeply interested in adventures with us, we’re working to be sure the places they want to visit find their way onto our calendar. It’s their life too, so let’s make sure they have their dreams added to the plan!
New Travel Destinations for Us: PERU
Drum roll….. We’re heading to Peru in April! This is going to be a new country for all of us and it’s pretty exciting. We’re still working on the plan, but it includes the Amazon, Machu Pichu, penguins and more. I mentioned this possible trip a few months ago and immediately was inundated with Peru suggestions but I wasn’t ready to hear them. I am now!
If you’ve been to Peru and want to suggest the best wildlife and cultural sites, we’re building our itinerary now and are open to hearing peoples’ picks!
5 Tips for Planning a Meaningful Year
Before I let you go, I wanted to share a recap of what we’re doing to make sure our upcoming year really counts. Even though we get to work from home, thus giving us more time with our kids than previous generations may have had with theirs, we still strive to make our time together as meaningful as possible. Here are five ways we set aside time we ALL will enjoy.
Find things to do close to home that are enjoyable and repeatable - for us this includes beach time, biking and paddling, all of which are free and available to us any time (weather permitting)
Plan two big adventures to give everyone something to look forward to - we’re really fortunate in that we get to do this as a part of work, but with the work we choose we’re sure to find projects that offer something truly unique and adventurous for us all
Budget - figure out what you can happily afford to spend on meaning experiences. This might be earmarking a tax return, setting aside budget each month, or pre-paying for elements of an experience (I like to book trip elements in advance and pace them to have costs hits over time)
Survey your crew - if there is only one person making the decisions about how your family spends their time and money, do you know if it holds the same value for everyone? Are your family members’ interests being incorporated or is it all about just what one person says they want to do?
Don’t keep up with the Joneses - meaningful experiences look different for everyone. This might be the year that you really invest time, care and money into making your home your happy place together; it may be that times are tight and you need to rediscover local camping; Fiji might not be in the cards, but maybe San Diego or the Florida Gulf Coast are… Don’t base your dreams on what somebody else says you should care about.
Anyways, that’s my piece and how we roll in our family. I hope it’s helpful and gives you an idea of how to shape the year ahead.
Thank you for following along through the years. I love sharing our stories and the things I learn in life, and I always love hearing from YOU. Stay tuned through the winter as we head to NYC, back to Hawaii and continue to find new fun here at home in St Augustine.
Happy 2024 and safe travels!