Highlights of January 2023

January has flown by despite the fact that I’ve only been away from home for six nights. Normally, it’s a slower month for us, but I didn’t feel that way this year, looking back at our January highlights and seeing how much we’ve been on the move. On the one hand, I love having the first month of the year to prepare and strategize for the upcoming 11 months, and I feel like we missed the boat this year.

The life of a photographer

On the other hand, I’m grateful that we have so much work, especially given the looming recession and growing layoffs in the media industry. We have so many fun photography, video, tourism marketing, public art, and editorial projects coming up this spring that I’m bursting with gratitude. This is what it looked like last month.

The Highs:

We went to Tucson! We have started an annual event for our public art non-profit in another city known for its placement. When our board member Emily suggested Tucson for this year, we found flights and a rental within 24 hours of her suggestion. Although I worked in college in Arizona, I had never been this far south in the state, and I really loved the desert landscape and also the variety of artistic styles throughout the city.

Tucson mural by Jessica Gonzalez

mural by Tucson artist Jessica Gonzalez

I have earned Southwest Companion Pass status. What does it mean? For the next 23 months, my companion flies with me for free (and I can redeem points for my flights). We are already using that privilege for a big trip this coming week to celebrate my 40th birthday. Here’s how I earned the Southwest Companion Pass without flying a single mile. Where should I go with this new privilege?

We started as editorial directors for our regional tourism board. Most of the first month of the gig was juggling the editorial calendar, getting to know our list of writers and editing backlogs of content, but I actually wrote my first piece for the Tennessee Black History website.

Try Tennessee

We had a visitor from Africa. A dear friend who lives in Mali and works for the government came back for R&R and came down to Tennessee to stay with us for three nights. It was gloomy, so we spent a lot of time at the Cedar House, but I also took her on a tour of all our murals and some of my favorite bars and restaurants in Nashville.

A visitor from Africa

I went to Knoxville for a quick 24 hours. I am excited to be on the Advisory Board for this year’s Governor’s Conference, and we had our first planning meeting a few weeks ago in my beloved college town. Also by luck? The fact that the Lady Vols were playing their nemesis UConn that night at Thompson-Boling Arena. You know I had to stay for it (even if we ended up losing).

Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville

I was interviewed about sports travel by Thrillist. Remember how my mom and I went to Indian Wells for the tennis major last year? It’s all part of his tennis bucket list, which I talked about in this article about why sports travel is back and bigger than ever.

Taking my mom to Indian Wells in Palm Springs, CA

I waxed poetic about Alabama on a travel podcast. I was a guest on the North Alabama Podcast to share five of my favorite unexpected adventures in my father’s home state, which included waterfalls, public art, and a monastery in the middle of a village. You can listen to it here or in the embedded audio below.

I started back with my trainer after a long hiatus. I was working out with my daughter Emily until the virus shut everything down. Then she moved to a new gym and mom and I are back working out a few days a week, which is so nice to finally get back into a routine other than joining regular weekly classes. (Although I still miss Acro.)

Fit Beyond Therapy classes

The challenges

January 25 was the anniversary of my father’s death. I think we had all been dreading this day for months, but my sister took the initiative and planned a “Dewar’s & Darts for Dad” night where we went to his best friend Kim’s house, played darts, and shot darts in his honor. old times sharing memories of our dear dad. I hope we make it an annual event because it definitely took the sting out of it.

Father's day

My favorites of the month

Looking for new recommendations? Here’s what I loved this past month.

Favorite book: Diamond eye and: Remarkable bright creatures

Favorite movie: Glass onion (on Netflix)

Favorite TV show. The Last of Us (new on Hulu/HBO) and Fair gemstones (formerly on HBO)

Favorite new app. Reader to follow my reading challenge this year (add me @lunaticatlarge if you join!).

Got a TV, book, or movie recommendation I should add to my list?

You can read all previous monthly summaries here.

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