The Good, the Bad and the Ugly — 2015 in Review

With so much information in our lives today, I have to be really selective about what I allow into my life. I used to subscribe to oodles of newsletters, magazines, e-zines, you name it… but in 2015 I found all the stuff to be information overload. I don’t need to know everything, just the right things.

After the great purge, there are only a handful of influencers I still get emails from, mainly because what’s left are ones packed with value, insights and information that make my life better on some level.

James Clear is one of those few people I still read and listen to. If you can’t heard of him, check him out, I think you’ll like what he offers (science-backed motivation and goal-keeping).

Anyway, back to the point of this message.

For the past few years, James has always sent out a “Year in Review” email where he openly lays out his year’s trials and triumphs answering these three questions:

  1. What went well this year?
  2. What didn’t go so well this year?
  3. What am I working toward?

It’s the same format each year and I’ve come to really enjoy reading his recap. It’s honest and also inspiring to know that along with all his successes, there are places he (and I, and all of us) still fall short of the mark sometimes.

With that in mind, I’d like to offer my year in review.

2015 was an incredible year for me, but I also failed on several fronts. The good stuff is in Part I, the ugly stuff is in Part II, and the future is Part III. I hope you find it useful and interesting.

Part I: The Good

Royally Awesome and NASA

I’ve tinkered in freelance work the last several years, off and on, side hustle and in between other opportunities, but 2015 saw my first true step out of the corporate rat race and into my own business — Royally Awesome. I’ve learned a lot in the first ten months of operating my own company full-time, and not all of it has been pretty. I’m proud to say though that I’ve had a fun, fascinating variety of really wonderful clients — ranging from entrepreneurs to non-profits to Universities and more. Some have been long-term with me month-over-month, others have been on a per-project basis, but all have contributed to my dream of running my own marketing and communications business and I’m grateful for each one of them.

On that same note, a huge opportunity came up in 2015 that I simply couldn’t refuse. I was offered a research grant from NASA in conjunction with my Master Degree in Unmanned Operating Systems (that’s drones, to you). As a total aviation nerd, I was over the moon (pun intended, NASA, get it?). The research grant has meant some BIG changes, however. I moved across the country from Los Angeles to Virginia, to be on center at NASA, while continuing to grow and run my business. This has meant some REALLY long days this fall, but days filled with wonder and passion and I’m grateful for this opportunity. As I write this, I’ve been asked to extend my research at NASA until May, and so I remain on the east coast, growing and running my business while completing my Masters Degree and NASA research — life has certainly been exciting in 2015!

Dreams home image

Writing and Publishing

While writing has been in some fronts a weak point, it’s also been a strong suit on other fronts. I’ve been able to start my own column at Entrepreneur (you can see that here) about marketing and writing — a huge triumph for me personally as I love Entrepreneur. Furthermore, I was able to get some of my clients into national sites and publications like Inc., Huffington Post and Entrepreneur, while getting other clients into regional publications like Alaska Business Monthly. Furthermore, I’ve had numerous academic papers circulated on my small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) research. If you have any interest in drones, feel free to read them at my site DroningOnandOn. There are some very exiting things happening on the domestic front with drones right now.


A big goal of mine in 2015 was to start delivering my writing and PR-related workshops in person. I’m proud to say that I had the opportunity to do so in both Alaska and Los Angeles on multiple occasions. If you’re interested in learning how to create your own free press for your business, I’m teaching a workshop for the Alaska Small Business Development Center on February 4th in Anchorage, but if you’re not in Alaska, not to worry, I’m branching out to workshops via webinar this year — stay tuned! Or email me if you’re interested in a webinar or attending a local workshop in your area, I just may be in town —

Love and Passion

This is getting a bit personal, but hey, my personal life is a huge part of my whole life, just like yours I’d imagine, so I’m sharing. IMG_9723Last year I wrote a letter to myself on New Years Eve that pretty much summed up my attitude for 2015.


I’m sharing this because it’s that old adage that when you let go of something, it finally seems to happen. I’ve been through the ringer in my three relationships over the last 15 years, including a divorce at 26. I’m not expert in love. Every year I’d set a goal for the man of my dreams, the engagement ring, the babies, the whole nine-yards. This year, as you can see, I decided I’ve had enough of hoping and wishing. In 2015 I just wanted to focus on being really happy. Sounds corny, but I worked my ass off (and spent a small fortune) on being happy — including the most important accomplishment of my life to date, obtaining my pilot’s license in July!

Yep, that’s me with my flight instructor and my FAA Examiner (who coincidently was Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s examiner! That’s Los Angeles for you!).11401238_10153954410053219_1831846313722829506_n

When I got the call from NASA a few days after earning my license, I took the challenge and moved to Virginia a month later. Five days after arriving here, I met the man of my dreams. I couldn’t make this up — you would never believe it, it’s so cliché and corny, but it’s true. After the first date, I knew he was going to call me for a second. The next day he called and the day after that we went on our second date. And we haven’t left each other’s side since. Now don’t get me wrong, if you’ve read this far, you already know the hours I’m working and he’s a nuclear engineer, so he’s a little busy too! We are apart because we have lives and are normal, functioning human beings, but we come home to each other every night and it’s bliss.


I would never have met him if I hadn’t committed to being the most kick-ass me I could be, that included a pilot’s license I always wanted and a dream of working on some research at NASA. If I hadn’t followed my dreams, I never would’ve met my dream man. Life is pretty incredible that way.



Part II. The Ugly

Nomadic Realities

I mentioned the move across the country. Currently the majority of my belongings, like 95% of them, are in storage in Los Angeles and Anchorage, Alaska, while the other 5% remains here in my house with my nuclear engineer.

Here is an illustration of my “Jill droppings” locations across the country.

Jill Droppings

My stuff couldn’t be much more spread out than that. Maybe if I was in Florida instead of Virginia. Anyway, the reality is that I miss my books and most of my wardrobe and at any given time, I’m never quite sure where all my stuff is — which makes getting organized a challenge sometimes, especially as an OCD riddle perfectionist.

Workout shortcomings

I have always been active. I run, I ride (horses that is) and I usually throw some kind of Pilates or dance in there. With my east coast work schedule and my schmoopy, workouts in Q4 have been downright scarce. Good thing most of my wardrobe isn’t here, because I don’t know if I would fit in it right now. I hope to really alter that in 2016 and get back to my active self. I don’t work out so much for my physical looks, although that’s a nice side-effect. It’s for my sanity. I’m neurotic and running or working out helps me keep my brain together and my mind organized. I have to work out for my mental health.

Consistency challenges

With so many balls in the air, keeping consistent has been a test. There is a lot of room for improvement but my clients always come first and so there were times in 2015 when my clients needs trumped my own personal writing, business development, and yes, even workouts. No good thing can be achieved without consistency, so in 2016, I think staying consistent is going to be my biggest ambition. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy James Clear’s work so much — fact based tips for staying on track.

Part III. The Future


The year ahead needs consistent input from me. For my business, for my writing, for my body and for my mind. My goal is to publish an original piece across my three platforms each week (Droning On and On, The Duchess Guide and my column for Entrepreneur). It’s pretty pathetic when you’re offered an opportunity to write for one of the biggest outlets in the country, and yet you can’t find the time to write a weekly column for Entrepreneur. Expect that to change! Furthermore, I’m committed to some video this year! Time to talk to you all in person, or at least via video and webinar, versus just written. I can be entertaining, I promise.

Intuition and Insights

In business, I have focused so hard on doing in 2015, but I’ve always been equally committed to my spirit. I’m a big Marie Forleo and Gabby Bernstein fan, as well as an Abraham Hicks devoted listener, and so this year, I have been working on developing my insights and personal intuition to deeper connect with my own messages and guidance. It’s paid off big time and I am committed to exploring this side of my life even deeper in 2016. I’ll share my discoveries along the way, but our spirit is so often a neglected bystander in our busy business lives, I learned the hard way in 2014 that when you don’t take care of your spirit, your whole life can crash and burn. I’ve been working with a hypnotherapist and coach for over a year now and I can honestly say she helped change my life. I mean, I am responsible for changing my life, but she has been a catalyst for the change.


castle home imageRemember earlier comment on nomadic lifestyle? I’m ready for a more permanent homestead. Maybe that will be with my nuclear man, maybe it won’t, certainly it will include my Labrador, but I am committed to 2016 being the year I settle into a single location and gather my belongings from the edges of the Bermuda triangle of my storage facilities.


I love helping my clients get their writing published. I love getting interviews and write-ups for my clients. But this year, I’m also committed to getting back on track with pitching and getting my writing published as well. I’m looking to expand into new arenas, revered sites, magazines and publications I love like the LA Times, Vanity Fair and Huffington Post. I’d love to be published in more of the places I love to read and gather content.

Well, that’s my year in review. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below the good and the ugly of 2015, as well as the future for you in 2016.

Now I’ll leave you with a quote…

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” — Peter Drucker

Go be awesome today.