Know When to Fold ‘Em

What a Year

outdoor fire pit with fire burning and a plastic glass of champagne being held up to toast
January 1, 2020, celebrating a new year with friends, hope, and bubbly around a fire pit–suckers!

One thing you can say about 2020, is that it taught many of us what matters to us and what we need to let go of. Or as Kenny Rogers famously immortalized in songwriter Don Schlitz’s “The Gambler,” it forced us “to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.”

Like many of us, I’ve spent numerous quarantine hours ruminating on what to hold on to tightly, as if for dear life (not even an exaggeration in the time of corona) and what no longer serves me well or is well served by my holding on. I learned when to fold ’em and when to walk away. I’m not talking about things placed on pause during the pandemic, activities I still adore and will return to in a heartbeat once they are safe to return to.

a 7-piece band is on a stage lit up with purple and blue lights, and a young African-American woman in a shiny gold dress is singing
Ms. Mack and the Daddies opening up for Kool and the Gang at ACL Live in February

I will forever love and advocate for local live music, dining out, drinking on patios, traveling, and making new friends wherever I go. This is all part of who I am. My heart is open. Some things I once enjoyed or felt passionate about needed to go, though. I may have outgrown them or perhaps had nothing more to learn in these spaces.

I’m making more room to serve my new social media clients, focus on my other paid writing jobs, and write here. I hope you will follow me here and at The American Genius, where I write about tech, marketing, and entrepreneurship. Oh, and robots. I like to write about robots, because hello, they are awesome!

Taking the Leap

The biggest change I’ve made along these lines is resigning from The Austinot after 4.5 years of writing for them. I remember how excited I was when the original founders of the blog, Brittany and Eric Highland, took me on as a guest blogger in Aug. 2016 and then as a contributing blogger two months later. I wrote that first Austinot article with such excitement and care, highlighting three new south Austin places with an old Austin vibe (one has since closed, but The Little Darlin’ and Toss Pizzeria and Pub are still going strong).

Voting never seemed more important than in 2020–art by Niz, Sloke One, and Mez Data at Home Slice Pizza

In the past 4.5 years, I’ve written more than 100 stories for the blog, appeared on beloved local talk show Studio 512 regularly for 2.5 years, not to mention I created or co-created hundreds of Instagram Stories for the blog. In 2020, I focused on virtual and at home cooking and tastings for all the obvious reasons. My friend Ketan inspired and helped me write a pandemic survival guide of sorts to help restaurants and bars by sharing how we saw others adapting.

To finish out the year, I surveyed local wine experts to create a massive Texas wine gift guide (Texas wine for various occasions, pairings, and budgets) that I will be saving for future reference! Finally, in December, I wrote a story on how some of my favorite local musicians have weathered the pandemic without touring or live gigs and how organizations like HAAM and Black Fret were helping. It was a great way to wrap up the year and my work with The Austinot.

pre-pandemic party scene with a lot of people in a room and a big disco ball on the ceiling
January 2020 Hill Country Ride for AIDS at Native Hostel

I am genuinely proud of having been able to shine the light on a multitude of local nonprofits, businesses, artists, musicians, filmmakers, artists, events, and more! I’ve experienced the best of Austin, from food trucks to glow-in-the-dark stand up paddleboard adventures, BBQ joints to breweries, tubing, swimming, Texas whiskey, Texas wine, Texas beer. I’ve taken adventure packed day trips and weekend getaways. I participated in several virtual events and tastings during the pandemic.

I’ve loved meeting the movers, shakers, and makers who bring such energy, enthusiasm, deliciousness, kindness, passion, and funk to this city I love. You inspire me and bring me immense joy! I’m also grateful for the opportunities The Austinot afforded me. I surely have had my fair share of invitations to crazy cool places and events. I’m a lucky woman, and my heart is full, y’all.

I Love You and You and You, Too!

a bottle of whiskey is on a table with a black cowboy hat behind it and two poured glasses of whiskey in front of the bottle
Enjoying Milam and Greene Distillery Edition Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Most important are the many fascinating, talented, and all around wonderful people I’ve met through the blog, either directly or indirectly. It is such a profound honor to have someone share their story with you and trust you to share it with the world. I have taken that as a near sacred duty, and I am appreciative to hear the inside story. I learned of and joined the Austin Food Blogger Alliance through the blog, such a great organization dedicated to promoting Austin food blogs. Now I am the internal marketing chair for AFBA, and have made many interesting and fun new friends in that organization. Many of the people I’ve met through the blog have become ride-or-die friends, and my life would be so much duller without them.

a woman with curly hair is looking up at  a living wall (a wall with plants) and smiling
Happy blogger face at delicious new restaurant Ten Ten

All of this is a long way to say Adios, Austinot, we had a good run. It’s time for me to start building my own blog, and I am thrilled about it! Please bear with me as I work to get this organized and focused. Of course I’ll still share so much local love, because I want to always advocate for my Austin people and places I love. That won’t change!

Shiny Objects

a margarita with a cucumber garnish is in front of large outdoor lights hanging from trees on a patio with  outdoor umbrellas over the tables
Trace at the W Hotel is as charming as it can be

I’m also going to share some of my travel stories, tidbits from my memoir I’ve been meaning to write for, oh, say, a couple of decades. The first ones I’ll share will be the stories I’ve read at One Page Salon, the coolest literary event in Austin. I also enjoyed writing about films and filmmakers for SXSW, and so that will be another element. And when we start to feel safe to travel again, I’ll take you along for the ride and show you what discoveries I’ve made. I want to feel free here to also explore issues of social justice, as we can no longer remain silent about things that matter.

Welcome to my busy brain. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to sharing more with you!

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