Less than an hour ago I found out my friend was dead. I’ll acknowledge that this is not the most eloquent way to begin. But, then again, death is not elegant, poetic, or convenient. Especially not when you’re a relatively young woman working your ass off to make your dreams come true.
We first met Kimmy Hayes about a year ago. Referred to us by editor/friend Emma Jane Higgins, the sunny redhead I always thought of as “Kimmy Cupcakes” was relatively new to the travel blogging sphere at the time, heard about our internship program, and reached out to see if she could help with our social media and learn a few inside tips in the process.
Mary and I work with a lot of interns. Most are in it for the resume-padding experience, college course credit, and perhaps a recommendation when they graduate and apply for full-time jobs. They come and go with the seasons, never staying in one place long enough to put down roots. It’s a business transaction for them, pure and simple.
But Kimmy was different: From the very beginning, she was eager to learn, passionate about building her Afterglobe brand, and a sponge for any insights we were willing to share. Along with Emma and Meg Jerrard, Kimmy formed the core of our GGT team. We became friends. In recent months I had been mentoring her on building her brand, and we gained immense pleasure from watching her grow as a blogger over time.
What we loved most about Kimmy was the enthusiasm she had for helping others, using her own story to inspire others to pursue their passions. She and Meg formed several Facebook groups to provide support for beginning and intermediate bloggers, creating a cooperative spirit of community that helped many brands to blossom. Whatever Kimmy learned, she shared selflessly, helping hundreds of people in the process.
Kimberly “Kimmy Cupcakes” Hayes passed away in a tragic car accident in Oregon on Friday. She and her husband were traveling on I-84 in what authorities described as extremely icy conditions when Drew lost control of their SUV and crashed into a tree. Although both of them were wearing seatbelts, Kimmy was gone before the EMTs even made it to the scene of the accident. She was 37 years old.
I sincerely wish there were some sage wisdom to be gained from our dear friend’s passing– some semblance of reason and order that would allow us to learn from Kimmy’s death, just as we learned from her life. The only lesson I’m left with is that life is much too short, but Kimmy didn’t need to die in order to teach us that: Living life to its fullest and making the most of every day is what Kimmy’s work was all about.
It pains me to admit that there’s nothing I can say or do that will make this OK. It pains me to know that Drew is still in the hospital in critical condition and, if he does recover physically, he will likely never recover from the grief of losing his beautiful best friend. But it pains me worst of all to know that Kimmy never got to go on that amazing trip she and Drew had been working so hard to save up for.
This is the second time in 6 months a blogger in our community has passed away unexpectedly. Losing a friend is never easy, but– due to the timing and the circumstances and our close connection with Kimmy– this one feels especially hard, like losing a member of the family.
I know Kimmy’s spirit is still with us, and I feel extremely fortunate to have gotten to know and work with her over the past year. She was truly a light of inspiration to so many people, and I hope the other side brings her peace and paradise.
To Drew, Kimmy’s daughter Amanda, and the rest of her family, we express our deepest condolences for your tragic loss. Know that Kimmy’s life and work had an impact on many people, and that her illuminating presence will be dearly missed by us all. Rest in peace, Kimmy. –Bret Love
The two inches of ice and snow with which Winter Storm Leon blanketed metro Atlanta in a matter of hours yesterday has just barely begun to melt, and already folks are rushing to point fingers of blame. The Republican state government passed the buck to the (Democratic-leaning) City of Atlanta; the city wants to blame the state; both of them want to blame the meteorologists… it seems like everybody is pissed off at somebody.
Meanwhile, many people who live north of the Mason-Dixon line wondered what all the fuss was about, mocking Georgians for lacking the infrastructure to deal with what folks from Chicago or Minneapolis would consider mild winter weather at worst.
But while politicians were busy bickering and outsiders were busy snickering, a funny thing happened: The people of Atlanta banded together via social media and actually got down to the business of making things better. A Facebook community called Snowed Out Atlanta was formed early yesterday afternoon, and attracted more than 10,000 people in a matter of hours. Some were looking for help, others were trying to provide help for those in need, and not a single one of us wasted time worrying about who to blame.
There were pregnant women, children, elderly and diabetics whose lives were saved by good samaritans risking their lives to bring people food and water, or opening up their homes and businesses to provide shelter to complete strangers who got stuck in traffic. “Southern Hospitality” is not dead: It’s alive and well, and it made the last 24 hours a LOT less disastrous than they would’ve been otherwise. Here are just a few of the inspiring first-hand stories we’ve heard that should help restore faith in humanity:
I’m sitting in my 12-year-old daughter’s bedroom, spray bottle in one hand and putty knife in the other, with tears streaming down my face.
We’re using a mixture of water and fabric softener to scrape away the wildlife-themed wallpaper border that has lined her walls for 10 years now. But in my heart it feels as if we’re scraping apart her very childhood, layer by layer.
I’ve been promising to redecorate my kiddo’s room for over a year now, to something more grown-up than cute jungle animals, baby blue skies and fluffy white clouds. But, between our hectic travel schedule and new business ventures, something always seemed to come up to delay the project.
As my mind is flooded with memories dating back to my painful divorce, when my daughter was a two-year-old toddler, I realize that perhaps I’ve subconsciously been procrastinating on purpose, unwilling (or simply unable) to confront this symbolic rite of passage.
It’s just a few hours until Christmas Eve. We’ve trimmed the tree, decked the halls, wrapped the presents, baked fresh cookies and breads, and hung enough colorful lights on our house to line a small airport runway. We truly savor these rare quiet hours when we’re not traveling or working 12-14 hour days, because they give us time to breathe a bit and reflect upon the extraordinary blessings in our lives.
We didn’t travel nearly as much this year as we did last year (around 50 days instead of 90). But we seemed to work twice as hard, launching EcoAdventure Media, Green Travel Reviews, and our Blogging Mentorship program even as Mary took a part-time job managing a website. And yet somehow we managed to climb into the Top 20 travel blogs in the world in terms of traffic, thanks to the incredible support of our friends, families, and followers. We are so grateful to every one of our 25,000+ monthly readers, and wanted to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
We also wanted to take a few minutes to thank the writers and social media assistants without whom Green Global Travel would never be what it is today: Anne Stokke, Amanda Rogers, Bryan Macie, Krista Ross, Marine Popoff, Meg Jerrard, Niranjana Regarajan, Samantha Swanson, and Sarah Bennett. We owe a special debt of gratitude to the lovely Emma Jane Higgins, who has worked with us for nearly two years now and has been invaluable to Mary and I.
We wish we had time to thank every one of our fans individually, but unfortunately we don’t possess the North Pole magic that would make that possible. So instead we recorded this video holiday greeting from our family to yours (including a sneak peak of our big project for 2014). Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Solstice, Festivus, or something else entirely, we want to wish you and your loved ones a healthy, happy holiday season! –Bret, Mary, Alex & the GGT Crew
If you enjoyed our video Christmas Card, you might also like:
After three years of frequent travel, we’ve got packing down to a science. We NEVER check luggage, so everything we travel with has to fit into two carry-ons, a laptop bag and a backpack. From rolling up clothes tightly to packing clothes that can be easily hand-washed, we’ve learned a few tricks along the way. What follows is our travel packing checklist of everything we take with us, from luggage and clothing to photo and video gear. We were not compensated by any of the companies mentioned, but if you make a purchase through our Amazon affiliate link, we do get a small % at no additional cost to you: