Vortex: The magical vanishing powers of 2015

Or, what the heck have I been doing all year (and a half)?

I believe this is where the days and weeks went:

Kidding! Lots happened.

This post is really a catch-up and highlights, since there's a lot of brandy spankin' new stuff coming. I like to do these wicked long posts just after my birthday instead of in January. It's a thing. Here goes:

Q: So...Is there life after Spain?

A: Yes, but it comes with a lifetime supply of wanderlust and beautiful memories.

As some of you may know, I adventured to Spain in early 2014 for 3 months, then returned to NYC in summer/fall. It's been a ride!

I cannot recommend travel enough to expand your mind and open your heart. The country, in general, was everything they say it is in the storybooks. Go there. Do not let silly excuses stop you from booking a ticket.

I was pretty broke before I went, but I leveraged lots of things to make it happen. Did that have any consequences? Hell yeah. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

Question: Will you travel in the next year?

If so, do this action step:  Book at least one major component of a future trip now! Then saving and planning becomes easy because you look forward to the very real trip!

Resources that I use regularly to tear down the travel excuse wall: 

  • Skyscanner - See all the best prices in a date range for airline tickets from a single point to anywhere else! Great for "close your eyes and put your finger on a map" type planning.
  • Airbnb - Sign up with Facebook or email, then start wishlisting beautiful, private homes-turned-bed-and-breakfast! Costs are well below hotel prices, and you can even sign up to be a host. Some hosts actually net a profit on housing while on vacation!
  • Zipcar - If you're worried about wheels, they have you covered. They have tons of inexpensive car rentals by the hour, with locations all over the globe. Their hourly price covers gas and insurance! (Yep, you read that correctly.) Cars must return home after each adventure, so this is best for small round trips.
  • WeWork - For those who can't get travel time off work, see if you can get permission to do some remote work. Surprisingly, this is very possible with all the apps and cloud, calendar, chat and project tools on the Interwebs! But what about an office? That's where WeWork comes in - they have locations in a lot of major cities where you can share a co-working office for the day. Pay-as-you-go membership rates can be as cheap as $45/month, and you get to connect with their entire network!

Feeling the love in NYC

Right after my return, I was fine. But, a few months later, I experienced a really tough travel hangover. The winter was a beast, work slowed down, and I was reminded of the price of housing. However, NYC in spring helped revive my spirits.

Don't get me wrong, I still think NYC is every bit the concrete jungle it's reputed to be! The trick, I think, is to meet that intensity with some degree of agility. Punch depression in the face by appreciating what's around you. Unless you're just super rich, in which case, the trick is to buy some relief.

Like I said, when I looked that the calendar and saw that it was mid-December, it seemed the year had vanished without a trace...but on deeper inspection, a LOT happened to my LIFE:

  •  I was mastering the art of staying alive and well - You know...I never thought I'd be one of those people to say this, but I'm starting to feel the big 4-0 tugging at my health! When it "happens", it's eye-opening. I embarked on an odyssey of doctor visits, tests and procedures. I had been sleuthing and diagnosing 4 or 5 troublesome issues which appeared to be intertwined, but I couldn't crack the case. Enter actual MDs and the many-headed-monster of US health insurance. Docs at one point diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia, but I refused that diagnosis, on the grounds that my symptoms could actually be traced to specific causes! I'm now working on my spine, blood, skin, muscles and brain, all at once! I had to change some of my diet and activity habits (by which I mean, actually exercise). I'm also doing physical therapy, and yoga for scoliosis (which I obviously call scoliyoga). I'll have a degree in this stuff when I'm finished. The best success has been from tracking the facts about my health (physically and mentally) with some sweet apps. Here they are: MyFitnessPal (tracks food/exercise/nutrition), Pacifica (tracks how you feel in relation to the rest your behavior), Dormio (bores you to sleep with kittens, and white noise), and one I'm just starting for actual online therapy (like, with actual therapists). It's called Talkspace - I actually met the makers of this app in Madison Square Park during an installation they were doing. Really nice people. I will no longer miss appointments because of train trouble!!
  • I was solving the puzzle of making a living - I took up with a few startups in 2015 doing social media, writing and marketing. Making enough to survive in NYC is a perpetual treadmill, and people's idea of survival is as varied as people's idea of what's good on TV. It's exciting to go on the journey of re-branding a rising tech company, helping a prolific blogger with her work, and building a site for a game company. I'm back to freelance, now. Been re-upping my game with the help of Paul Jarvis' emails and Creative Class and Marie Forleo's Q&A Tuesdays.
  • I was a mad scientist of living arrangements - It was a fantastically disorganized and enlightening experiment! For most of 2014-2015 I was subletting, couchsurfing, and Airbnb-ing. I've been comparing the costs of extended stay alternative travel housing to actual apartment rental in major cities. It's pretty shocking what I found. Stay tuned!
  • I was a local explorer - When I got back from Europe, I was in tourist mode. Something really cool happened from that: I developed a habit of doing things in the city that would quell my wanderlust. It's easy in NYC, but can be accomplished almost anywhere! One thing I did was join HeyLets which is an app and community for sharing highly positive reviews. I have had a blast! If you download it, you can follow me to read about all the new neighborhoods, parks, activities and restaurants I've tried out. Every time I'm near something I've liked, the app lets me know. I like it because it's happy and focuses on what people like, instead of the hate! I also learned about a lot of free and cheap activities. Let me tell you there are free things aplenty, here! From food to entertainment to transportation!
  • I released a workbook, quietly, last winter - It's here, and it's on sale!
  • I hid out and did secret & exciting projects - I'm working on some stuff. I can't talk about it yet......

What's ahead

You might've guessed from this mammoth post, I'm doing a huge reboot of my email list, blog and social for 2016. After a productive, yet markedly quiet year on the blog front, the site needed some new 2016 duds (new design, new splash page), and a chance to express itself once more.

Behold the new blog design, and keep your eyes open on Twitter for my brand new #WhatIfWednesdays and #WanderlustWeekends Tweet series.

Like some sort of content writing squirrel, I've been storing up my goods! Plus, there's some straight-up magnificent projectry (is that a word) is on the horizon–New projects, books, travels and tomfoolery.

I plan to spill my guts right here.

Topics may include:

  • The joys and challenges of becoming a bike person
  • A film based on Kurt Vonnegut's "God Bless You Dr. Kevorian"
  • Tiny, green and sustainable homes
  • New opportunities to support brilliant causes that help people
  • Minimalism (in actual reality)
  • Business & marketing for artists (because we deserve $ too)
  • Travel adventuring

See you soon! XO, Serena

As a thanks for reading this entire post, here are three ridiculous things I said about food in 2015:

A flat cake still makes a brownie.
— Serena Andrews, 2015
You can’t compare bananas to already eaten bananas.
— Serena Andrews, 2015
Even yams can be candy, right?
— Serena Andrews, 2015

Serena Andrews

Serena Andrews lives in NYC, where she coaches creative-minded entrepreneurs to launch beautiful passion projects. She is an author, artist & musician and has been traveling, speaking & releasing her own projects for over 20 years.