Where Did the Past Three Years Go? What's Next?

It's hard to believe that it's been three years since I published my very first post on The Hines Sight Blog. When I sat down at my computer on that January day in 2011, I didn't know what I was doing here and I certainly didn't know the pleasure, friendships, and the opportunities that this blog was going to bring me in the future.

Leigh at the Siena Hotel in Chapel Hill. 

All I knew that I was a former TV journalist/public relations professional who needed a creative outlet to help me cope with my full-time job as a stay-at-home mom. Don't get me wrong, I loved having the choice to be able to stay home with my children, but I needed something else in my life. I had just turned 42 a few days earlier, and honestly, I was down. I wondered if my choice four years earlier to leave a good-paying job meant the end of a professional career for me.

About to turn 41, and welcomed a new daughter into our family. 40 was a special year.

This blog has enabled me to get back to my journalism roots, and really write about what I enjoy. I didn't have that joy when I was a working professional. It has helped me meet people in my community, leaders in the travel industry, and it has certainly made me realize that my best professional years are not behind me, but are yet to come.

Parenthood is hard. Being a stay-at-home mom is challenging. It's the hardest job I've done. 

I am a freelance writer now because of this blog. This blog will never be a money-maker for me, but it has been the platform to help me transition into another segment of my life. Because of this blog, I learned to Facebook, Tweet, and to Instagram. I now connect with four thousand individuals because of those accounts, and host an Instagram Travel-Link-Up with five other wonderful bloggers in the world. I have met so many local people that I enjoy hanging out with in my city through this blog. Life without the blog would not be the same. It doesn't define who I am, but it makes life seem whole.

The Hines family in Beaufort the year I started blogging (2011)

This blog helped me gain a luxury hotel writing portfolio that got the attention of the talented and wonderful professional blogger, Katja Presnal, owner of Skimbaco Lifestyle. She graciously has taken me under her wing, and has taught me so much about the blogging business world. I am on my second year of serving as her Luxury Travel Editor for Skimbaco Lifestyle. I helped recruit two of our amazing writers, and I'm excited to be in on the ground floor of something I think it is great. 2013 was a great year for the magazine.

This blog also caught the attention of editors at the News and Observer here in Raleigh.  For the past two years, I have been trusted with my own weekly column on the TriangleMom2Mom website. I share some of those stories here, but many of them you've probably never read. I wrote 47 pieces for the website last year, and here's a list of some of my favorites.

I have a special fondness for Christina Thigpen, with the Ballantyne Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina because she was the first person who took a chance on me, and my hotel features. The Ballantyne was my first "Pack Your Bags" feature where I traveled on site to a property. Since the Ballantyne piece, I've now written about 20 hotel properties on this blog in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Canada. These travel/hotel features are my true passion, and it is what I love writing about more than anything else.

Leigh at the Ballantyne Hotel in Charlotte, NC in 2012

This blog remains my professional writing portfolio, but more importantly, I only write about things that interest me, and I hope it interests you as well. From a blogging business perspective, it's probably best if my niche was just travel, and this entire blog was travel focused.  However, travel is just a small part of my life and thanks to Katja, I can let travel be my entire focus for articles that I write on Skimbaco.

The Inn on Biltmore in 2013

Truthfully, I stay in Raleigh a good portion of each year. I'm not a jet-setter. I have to be on a budget like everyone else. I'm a parent. I have to cook meals for my family. I like to dine out. I like to share good recipes.I like to experience good restaurants.  I like to tell stories. That's the backbone of the Hines Sight Blog---my Southern Spin on Life.

Tea at the Umstead Hotel and Spa in 2013

I am still a full-time stay-at-home mom. Jack is now in second grade. He had not even started kindergarten when I wrote my first post. Liza had just turned one. She's now 4, and takes a lot of my attention. My time is stretched with all the writing that I do now, and I don't post here as often now as I once did when it was my only focus.

Leigh's children enjoying lunch at the Old Edwards Inn and Spa in 2013. 

I thank all of you for being with me on this ride. I will be taking my first press trip in a few weeks, and will be covering a hotel rebranding story for Skimbaco. I think 2014 will be an exciting year. I hope you continue to be a part of the journey.

Leigh on a solo trip to Hotel Le Germain Maple Leaf Square in Toronoto, Canada


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