Every December I like to reflect on the year and write a blog post wrapping up the year. After two rough years I entered 2021 with something I have never done before: no goals and no expectations. I did not have any travel plans set in stone. I did not set any measurable goals for the blog, my career, or my life. I wanted a reset year. I wanted a year where I could just be; rest, relax, and recharge. It turns out that was exactly what I needed. 2021 was the year I saw an immense amount of growth, both personally and professionally.
How It Started
2021 did NOT have a great start. Readers of my blog know that in late December/early January, my family battled COVID while we were in New Jersey. We are lucky that we all had a mild case, but it meant staying in New Jersey an extra two weeks, where we quarantined with the rest of the group. Then in March of 2021 my mother was diagnosed with uterine cancer. While at first an emotional blow, it was caught early, and was resolved with just surgery. At the end of March, things turned around as my husband and I got vaccinated, and we took our first family vacation of the year.
March – Before I left to take care of my mother, my kids and I went to Mt. Shasta to try skiing for the first time. The kids did not become ski bums, but they loved snow tubing. Even my best friend and I got into the action. I also got on skis for the first time in the first, taking a cross country ski walk in the beautiful valley in Shasta.
April – We had a fantastic family trip to San Diego for Spring Break. We spent time together on the beach, learned history at the USS Midway and Old Town San Diego, flew with iFly, and ate at so many amazing restaurants in San Diego. The mild weather meant we could eat outside everywhere, and we enjoyed a fairly safe relaxing vacation after the trials and tribulations of early in the year
May – In May, my girlfriends and I, tired of COVID and the stresses of being home with young children for a year, decided to take a girl’s trip. We were all fully vaccinated so we decided to go to Vegas and just relax. We stayed at an off-strip resort with a phenomenal pool complex, and just enjoyed. We sat poolside every day, ate amazing meals, drank way too much, and enjoyed each other’s company. It was the recharge we all needed.
July/August – Late July, we took off for 3 weeks in New Jersey. But after our December trip where we did nothing but stay indoors, we made up for it this trip. We spent a day in New York, a day in Philadelphia, went to Wildwood for a weekend, and even did a few days trip down to Virginia, where we explored Richmond and Colonial Williamsburg. This turned out to be a busy trip, one where we did not relax, but we explored a lot.
September – In September I took my son on our first Mother/Son trip. He is at an age where he’s growing up fast, and I wanted to spend some time with just him, while he still wanted to spend time with me. We went kayaking down the Russian River, and saw the Shultz Museum, and enjoyed some Laser Tag. It was a special trip full of bonding at a critical moment in his life.
October – Out last trip of the year was an impromptu trip to Seattle. Combining some expiring Alaska Air credit, a companion pass that was going to expire, as well as a slew of points and miles, we turned a 4-day weekend the kids had in school into a chance to explore a new to us city – Seattle. This turned into one of our favorite trips of the year. We all loved the vibe of the city, exploring cool places on the City Pass, and the food! Oh boy the food! It was the perfect trip, and we loved every minute of it. It was a great way to finish off our travels for the year.
The big highlight of the year was getting vaccinated. The emotion was real when I finally got that first shot. Knowing that my husband and I, who both have underlying conditions, were finally getting protected was an immense relief. Unfortunately, the vaccine for those younger took longer. When the kids went back to in-person school, the fear continued to weigh on me. (Especially when my son was exposed after being back at school for only three days). In November the vaccine finally became available for 5–11-year-olds. My daughter was vaccinated right away, 3 days after it was available. Since my son was less than a month from turning twelve, waited until his birthday so he could receive the full adult dose. We wanted him to get the best protection possible.
After my life upheaval in 2020, I spent a lot of time in 2021 learning to focus on what made me happy. I took things slower. Instead of working a full 40 hours, I stuck to my part time consulting that allowed me to slow down and do things that were important for me and my family. I spent more time writing and reflecting. But I was also able to be there for my kids. Thanks to this I watched them thrive. My son is adjusting well to in person middle school, getting top grades and taking on a leadership position. My daughter is happy to be back at school, taking a harder math class and keeping a busy dance schedule. In December, her dream came true, and she danced with the Oakland Ballet in the Nutcracker. She was the youngest in the performance.
In 2020 I was laid off. I always thought being laid off would feel like a failure. But the truth was that after being unhappy with the job, being laid off felt like a huge weight being lifted from my shoulders. I enjoyed my time off and was not ready to jump into anything permanent. I was offered an amazing consulting opportunity, so I took it. That led to more consulting work, with great people that I enjoyed working with. I soon learned I liked the flexibility and freedom that came with the consulting opportunity. Throughout 2020 and most of 2021, I worked as a sole proprietor. Toward the end of the year I made the leap and incorporated, launching my own consulting company, Around the World Consulting, LLC. The company focuses on consulting in finance and travel, finally combining my two loves under one umbrella company.
When it came to travel blogging and creating content, I took a more structured approach this year. I created routines that let me create content ahead of time and with more focus. I created new blog posts almost weekly this year, posted pretty much daily on the social media channels, and experimented with video for the first time. The hard work paid off. I am ending the year with my website having the most views and visitors I have had in the past 5 years. My reach is growing on Instagram (my preferred social channel), and I am starting to get recognized. This year I was highlighted as one of the Top 5 Latinx Bloggers to follow on the Fat Girls Traveling. But most importantly, I am enjoying what I am doing. I love sharing my stories and tips, and hearing from others how it inspired them to take trips or get out and explore. Because at the end of the day, that is why I do this. To encourage others to explore as much as they can.
After a year of no goals, what do I do next? Set goals of course 😀. But this time the goals are more fluid, more flexible, and more meaningful to me. My goals:
- To continue to take life and my career slowly. I have signed on for more part time consulting and am still not committing to a full-time schedule yet. I want to enjoy this time and pace as long as I can.
- To grow my experience and reputation in the travel industry.
- To continue to build on the habits of last year to make quality content for my followers, as long as I am enjoying it
- To take more time to refill my own cup. I cannot pour into the cups of my family and friends if I have nothing left to give
We also have some fun travel planned for 2022. In April, we plan to take our long-postponed trip to Washington DC, and in June we are celebrating my daughter’s 10th birthday with a trip to Europe. After the past few years, we know that plans may change, but we will take the lessons we have gotten in flexibility and figure out how to make the best of it. If COVID has taught us anything, it has been to appreciate the moment, and be ready to change if needed.
After two hard years, and a rough start to 2021, I am glad in the end it turned out to be a happy year, full of personal and professional growth. I am relieved we ended the year happy and healthy. Yes, COVID is still around, and may be for some time yet. But we are learning to live with it, to be safe, and to continue to grow and thrive regardless of the challenges we are facing. Thank you for reading and following along. I hope that you are happy and healthy and have a wonderful New Year.
* Photos taken by Atma Photography