Wow! Can you believe it? We are saying goodbye to another year. It’s true, the older you get, the more time flies.
It been a rollercoaster of a ride this year. If someone would have told me just a year ago that I would have done all the things I did this past year I would not have believed it. About the only downside (or upside financially) for my blogging and travel opportunities, was not having nearly the amount of time to do all the things I wanted to do due to working (my day job) way more than I thought I would be.
But, in order to be able to travel and do things I like, a girls gotta work right?
Being the positive person I strive to be, there is no dwelling on the things I DIDN’T do and focus on the things I DID accomplish.
So let’s recap the past year in wins and highlights.
One of my goals was to do just this. Blogging can be a lonely existence which is something non-bloggers don’t understand. I started blogging just for the love of writing and when I decided to combine that love with travel, it made sense to focus on travel blogging with the goal of making a bit of money down the road. This was where WITS17 came in.
WITS (Women In Travel Summit) was held in Milwaukee this year and when I found that out, I knew I needed to be there. Knowing the hefty admission to the 3 day blogging conference was way out of my budget, I set about to try and win a ticket. Which I did thanks to the Midwest Travel Bloggers group. Held in April at the Hilton in downtown Milwaukee, this conference is three days of local tours, informational sessions, and networking. Attending WITS was the single most important thing I did for my blog this year. It opened up doors, and connected me with women who thought just like me. The best part was meeting women who I knew just from their blogs and social media outlets. I was able to meet Kylie of Between England And Iowa who I had connected with prior and we hung out throughout the conference. I was also able to meet some fellow midlife bloggers and hear their advice on blogging in a space that is dominated by the younger set. I was also able, through the connections I made that weekend, take a mini sponsored trip to Kenosha thanks to Meridith and Laura at @visitkenosha. I continue to be thankful for the Midwest Travel Bloggers group, which has to be the most supportive group in the travel space. Because of this group, I opened my eyes to the endless travel opportunities just in my home state of Wisconsin. You can read about how WITS was a game changer for me here. Which bring me to my next highlight…
Making the best of having no vacation time and few free days to travel, I set out to visit and write about things in Wisconsin. As a result I saw my home state with new eyes. After WITS being held in Milwaukee and how many out of towners marveled at the city, I had a newfound foundness for Wisconsin and all it offers. It was my greatest joy of the past year to write about all the things I did and businesses I highlighted on my blog. I did day trips to Milwaukee, Kenosha, Marinette County on my waterfalls tour, Door County, Macinac Island, and a camping weekend in Upper Michigan (the latter two, outside of Wisconsin). Then there were the targeted destinations such as the places I visited looking for French Macarons in Wisconsin. I will continue to add more Wisconsin places to my blog in 2018!
It was a dream come true to see the author of one of my favorite books Big Magic Elizabeth Gilbert when my friend Shannon and I drove to southwest Illinois. What a fun road trip and it was well worth the 7 hour drive to listen to her speak. Bonus was spending time with Shannon. She has really learned how to rock the empty nest, by taking her love of painting, she has turned it into a wonderful business.
Of course it’s always a great year when I can see my favorite band, U2 in concert in Chicago. This year they toured taking the 30th anniversary of their album the Joshua Tree on the road. It was another unforgettable day, again waiting all day to see Bono. He stopped again this tour and I was able to get an autograph (not on my arm this time). The Edge’s guitar tech came out and gave us special guitar pics. I was able to reconnect with some fellow fans who I had met in 2015. Also on that day was my filmed interview with the Dream Out Loud creator Dave Berry. His documentary features U2 fans from around the world and the stories of their connections with the band. One of my proudest moments of the year was to be a part of this film and getting to meet some awesome people because of it. I was able to share my U2 story (emotional tears and all) with the world. Honestly I was so nervous, I have no idea what I even said. The concert was epic and it was a fabulous weekend, we stayed at a great Airbnb in Andersonville, and I even drove to Soldier Field!! It was great to get to share it with Megan and my friend Carol.
Lastly, was able see my travel hero Rick Steves, in Milwaukee in October. Before I went to Paris for the first time, I studied his Paris travel guide like you study a History book before an exam. Again on my second visit I faithfully bought the newest version of that Paris guidebook and planned our whole itinerary around that book. His Ireland guide will be by my side this year!! I made this trip to Milwaukee by myself and sat in the 4th row center. I would highly encourage all travel lovers to see him if you can. Full of travel tips and an insightful lecture on how travel and politics are linked, I was so happy to catch him. Plus I took along my Paris guide on the off chance that he would sign at some point. I was so happy when he announced that he would be signing for a short time after his talk. Getting my book signed by my travel guru-priceless!
There was the time I was on TV! Probably one of the most rewarding things that happened this year was my appearance on Local 5 Live on July 4th. Local 5 Live is a morning show at our local CBS affiliate WFRV out of Green Bay. When one of the shows host Lisa Malik contacted me to see if I could be on the July 4th show, I was a mixture of excited and incredibly nervous at the same time! How could I pass up an opportunity to go on local TV and talk about my blog and travels and my passion for inspiring women to follow their dreams through travel. In the end, it turned out to be an incredible experience and a whole lot of fun! I think I did a pretty good job and it did a lot to boost my blog! I would go back and do it again in a heartbeat! Thank you Lisa and Millaine for having me on!!
Watch my interview here
One of the biggest surprises of this year was being able to realize my dream of having a she shed. You know, the cute alternative to the “man cave” I was blown away when Rick said to me that Friday night in September that he had a surprise for me. That surprise turned into a dream of coverting a vintage camper into a she shed/writing retreat on wheels. Goodbye tent camping! Now when I want to go camping, I will be able to hook up Beatrice and go! She is still a work in progress, you can follow along with the renovation here on my blog. I can’t wait to write my first blog post in her this summer!
So those were my my main highlights from the past year. As I sit here and write this, I realize that although I didn’t have a whole lot of free days to travel this year, I certainly took advantage of the time I did have. I’m proud of what I accomplished this year. I have such an incredible support system. I am so excited to see what 2018 brings!!
Happy New Year to all of you!
Thank you for reading!