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2015: the Good, the Bad, and the Blog

2015: the Good, the Bad, and the Blog | CosmosMariners.com

Oh, 2015. What can I say about you? You've been simultaneously wonderful and wretched, and you've reminded me of just how little control I have, despite my best efforts to the contrary.

I remember writing this post at the beginning of January 2015 and being so excited to see what would happen over the next 12 months.

At that moment, I had no clue how much lay ahead of me both in my personal life and with my writing and blogging.

This year has held some incredible highs and some devastating lows, but I've come out on the other side wiser, more dedicated to what's important to me, and more secure in what I'm trying to accomplish.


There have been moments that I seriously considered quitting Cosmos Mariners: Destination Unknown, but, thanks to my incredible family, I've kept going, and I am incredibly proud to have such a supportive group of people pushing me when I need it. The day-to-day schedule of balancing a blog, freelance writing work, and parenting a toddler isn't easy, and I couldn't keep doing what I'm doing without my husband, parents, and sister.

Plus, the blog seems like another extension of myself at this point, and I could as easily quit the blog as I could chop off an arm.

The Year in Review

January and February

2015: the Good, the Bad, and the Blog | CosmosMariners.com
It's just a country road, but it takes me home.
I didn't do any traveling at the beginning of the year, but, as we'd just purchased a new house at the end of 2014, hanging around the house probably was for the best. I have to confess that we still have unopened boxes as of this post's publication: whatever I didn't get accomplished in those first two months of the year around the house just didn't get done.

March

2015: the Good, the Bad, and the Blog | CosmosMariners.com
Charlotte, North Carolina, in bloom
I went on my first fam trip of the year to Charlotte, North Carolina, which is just a three hour drive from my hometown of Charleston. I had the pleasure of staying in the beautifully restored Dunhill Hotel in Uptown, dining on the delicious fare at the Asbury, and taking in the rich culture of this city.

From this point in the year until the writing of this post, life hit full speed, and I've barely had the chance to sit still.

April

2015: the Good, the Bad, and the Blog | CosmosMariners.com
The King and Prince Resort, St. Simons Island, Georgia
Almost immediately after returning from Charlotte, I repacked my suitcase to head down to Georgia's Golden Isles, where I was treated like royalty at the King and Prince Resort on St. Simons Island. While on the island, I had one of my favorite experiences of the entire year: riding in a World War II-era Douglas DC-3.

May

2015: the Good, the Bad, and the Blog | CosmosMariners.com
Ready for some water park fun!
My spring season of travel kept going full force as I went into May. My husband joined our toddler and I for a trip down to the Sunshine State. We surprised Britton with a stop at Disney's Blizzard Beach water park before heading down to the St. Petersburg, Florida, area for a week-long road trip to three different Florida Superior Small Lodging Association properties.

2015: the Good, the Bad, and the Blog | CosmosMariners.com
Onboard Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas 
After a quick break back at the house, it was time to head off again! Landon and I are firm believers in giving experiences rather than things, so we usually go on trips for our anniversary instead of exchanging gifts. For our fifth anniversary, we decided to pay homage to our honeymoon and go on a cruise to the Western Caribbean. We had a blast experiencing a local dance troupe in Labadee, Haiti, exploring Green Grotto Caves and Dunn's River Falls in Jamaica, eating our weight in guacamole in Cozumel, Mexico, and snorkeling over a shipwreck in Grand Cayman.

The day that we came home from the cruise, I found out that I was pregnant with our second baby. Having another child was something that we'd debated for a long time, but the moment that I found out that he was on the way, I was overwhelmed with excitement.

June

A week and a half after coming home from our cruise, I headed off from the house yet again (I wasn't kidding when I told you that the year got really crazy!).

2015: the Good, the Bad, and the Blog | CosmosMariners.com
Flagler College, St. Augustine, Florida
This time, I spent four amazing days in St. Augustine, Florida, where I was hosted by the incredible and historic St. Francis Inn. I had a blast making new blogger friends on this press trip, and the entire group was treated to some delicious coastal cuisine. I still hadn't told anyone outside our immediate family that I was pregnant, and I had some very long, hot days walking around in the Southern summer sun on that trip. The experience of seeing one of my favorite childhood vacation spots again was well worth the discomfort.

2015: the Good, the Bad, and the Blog | CosmosMariners.com
My toddler and husband getting up close and personal with one of the residents of the Edisto Island Serpentarium
At the end of June, my husband, toddler, and I spent a week on Edisto Island, South Carolina, with my in-laws. Our pilgrimage to Edisto is an annual family tradition, and I was appreciative of the many babysitters available as my morning sickness kicked in with a vengeance.

July
If you go back to the archive in mid-summer, you won't find anything. I made the tough decision to pause the blog because of my incredible morning sickness and exhaustion. Taking care of a toddler and traveling all of the time and being pregnant and working nearly full-time on freelance writing and blogging left me completely worn out.

August

My mom and I had been planning to take my toddler to Walt Disney World for a girls-only trip for months, so I was really glad when my morning sickness began to subside and I started to feel like myself again in late summer.

The trip that I'd looked forward to for so long ended up being my worst nightmare, as I miscarried in the Celebration hospital the second day of our trip. I was 17 weeks along when I lost our beloved little boy, August Gibson, and, four months later, I still ache for my son. I would never wish this pain on anyone, and it's still horribly surreal to me when I remember that I should be just a few weeks away from delivering.

As a way to focus on something positive, I threw myself back into blogging, which has been a wonderful comfort and release these last few months. Sharing my miscarriage with my friends, family, and blogging community via the blog brought such a response, and I was carried through my long, lonely hours by the comments that I received.

September

I barely remember posting in September, though I know I did. The framework of posting three times a week kept me moving forward in an otherwise dark time for my husband and I. You might not be able to see it in the posts, but I was struggling just to keep my head above the water at that point, and it felt all too easy to drown in my grief.

October

As late summer turned into fall, and I tried to grapple with the immense loss of our son, I had to make a decision about a trip that had been in the works for over a year: my grandmother wanted my family and I to visit her brother (my great-uncle) where he was laid after being killed at the end of World War II. By the time early October came around, the last thing that I wanted to do was go on a huge trip, but my husband told me that the experience would be good for me.

2015: the Good, the Bad, and the Blog | CosmosMariners.com
My daughter and I at Linderhof Palace in Ettal, Germany
And (don't tell him!) he was right. Our 11-day road trip through Germany and Luxembourg reminded me how much I love (and need) to travel, and how important a strong support system really is. Visiting my great-uncle's grave at the Luxembourg American Cemetery was one of the most moving experiences I've had while traveling, and I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity to be there.

November

In a weekend escape that was part redemption and part forgiveness, I decided to go to Walt Disney World for my birthday. I've always loved the pure escapism that comes with a visit to the theme parks, but I was afraid that my miscarriage there would tarnish my adoration of it. I won't lie--going back to some of the places that stand out in my mind from that August trip wasn't easy, but I have many, many wonderful memories of Walt Disney World to counterbalance that one heartbreaking visit.
2015: the Good, the Bad, and the Blog | CosmosMariners.com
Another year older (and hopefully, a little wiser) at Walt Disney World
I also partnered with my biggest brand to date--IHG Group--for a staycation at Holiday Inn Charleston Historic District. Since I've lived in the Holy City for the majority of my life, I often get questions on where to stay when visiting. Up until this staycation, I felt woefully underqualified to answer that since I'd never had any need to stay in a hotel in the area.

December


2015: the Good, the Bad, and the Blog | CosmosMariners.com
Enjoying the crisp mountain air at Caesar's Head, South Carolina
I finished the year out by checking off a goal of mine: to explore the upper part of South Carolina. I've lived all over the state, but I've rarely tried to see South Carolina from a traveler's perspective. My visit to Greenville and Travelers Rest was so much fun, and I can't wait to explore more of my own state in 2016.

The 10 Most Popular Posts of the Year

I had several posts that took off in 2015, and I'm still seeing massive returns on them. In order of their popularity, here are the most viewed posts from Cosmos Mariners: Destination Unknown this year:

  1. A First-Timer's Guide to Charleston, South Carolina
  2. A First-Timer's Guide to Savannah, Georgia
  3. How to Save Money on Your Trip to Scotland
  4. 6 Creative Ways to Preserve Your Travel Memories
  5. 8 Reasons Why You Should Visit Scotland
  6. 3 Spooky Ruins in South Carolina
  7. 5 Historic Southern Scottish Places You Don't Want to Miss
  8. The Ultimate Guide of Things to See and Do in London
  9. What to Know Before You Go to Puerto Rico
  10. Simple Ways to Afford More Travel (without Breaking Your Budget)

2015 Triumphs

I've worked with some amazing brands including Holiday Inn, the Florida Superior Small Lodging Association, the King and Prince Resort (St. Simons Island, Georgia), and the St. Francis Inn (St. Augustine, Florida).

I visited six new countries.

I grew my social media reach from 4,200 followers to 21,000 followers.

I hit 30,000 monthly page views (a HUGE goal for me!) and 240,000 pageviews for the entire year.

I monetized my blog and expanded my freelance writing to the point where I now make more than I did as an adjunct professor. (I'm not sure if this fact speaks more to the fact that I'm seeing some reward for my blogging hustle or to how badly adjunct professors are paid.) I love being able to work from the comfort of my home with my toddler, and being my own boss is the best thing ever!

I will be able to pay for our upcoming 2016 trip to Ireland completely with what I've earned through this blog and my freelance writing. This is massive for me!

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Even though I had some extremely difficult personal moments, I am still very proud of myself and my blog for growing as much as it has. I am thankful to all of my readers for sticking with me through the good and bad, and I cannot wait to see where this journey takes all of us in 2016!

I'll be sharing my goals for the upcoming year in my next post, and I'm incredibly excited for what 2016 holds for me, my family, and my blog.

What was your favorite moment of 2015? Where did you travel?

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