Although we had 103 friends in common, were members of the same travel blogging group on Facebook, and had commented on each other’s posts in the past, I didn’t know Anita Mac personally. But still I was shocked and saddened yesterday when our mutual friend Robert Schrader revealed that the blogger behind Travel Destination Bucket List had taken her own life at the age of 43.
Anita seemed like a lot of our travel blogging friends– outgoing, adventurous, and happy. Her Facebook page was filled with enthusiastic posts about weekend plans and gorgeous photos of food, friends and fun on the road. As Robert said, her mission was “to inspire and empower people to live their dreams.” On the surface, she seemed to be succeeding. But, as “What do you do with a broken heart?” (her final post, on August 22) revealed, Anita struggled with private pain that ultimately tore her life apart.
I’ve been struggling to come to grips with her passing for 24 hours now, trying to figure out why the suicide of a person I barely knew upset me so much. Her death led me to re-examine this industry we’ve become a part of, questioning why we blog about our travels and wondering about “the dream” we, as a community, encourage our readers to live.
When we first started Green Global Travel in late 2010, we had NO idea what we were doing.
Sure, I had 17 years of experience as a professional writer and editor, running INsite Magazine and freelancing for publications ranging from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to Rolling Stone. I knew how to generate and manage content, oversee a staff of writers and interns, and work with PR people. But I’d never even read a travel blog before, much less run one.
For the first year we ran the site as a side-project, focusing on my freelance career and our successful improv comedy business. We had no presence on Twitter. We didn’t do any SEO. Hell, we weren’t even on WordPress! But we knew precisely the sort of respected brand we wanted GGT to be, and early interest from WWF and Sustainable Travel International gave us hope that our labor of love would grow organically.
We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: There’s no way Green Global Travel would be able to do what we do without the invaluable help provided by our Social Media Internship assistants.
Originally launched in January of last year, our internship program has proven remarkably successful, leading to full-time jobs in social media and PR for some former interns, and leading others (see: Emma Jane Higgins) to become irreplaceable members of our editorial team. Now that Mary and I have helped launch EcoAdventure Media and are both working regular jobs in addition to GGT, our Social Media Internship program has proven more vital than ever.
So please join us in welcoming our latest crop of SMI assistants to the Green Global Travel fold, and look for their writing and graphic design work to appear on the site very soon!
Today, I am 45… although most days I feel about 15 years younger. It was a weird thing yesterday, filling out a tour waiver here in Mexico and realizing it was the last time I could truthfully check off the 25-44 age bracket box. I’ve never been one to make a big deal out of my birthdays, but this one seems somehow significant, as if I’m entering a new phase in my life and evolution. Feeling contemplative, I came up with 45 things I wish I could go back in time and tell to my younger self:
1) You’re good enough. Anyone who tells you different is just a jerk.
2) If you want something, ask. The worst anyone can say is no.
3) Patience and persistence ultimately pay off. But they usually do so very slowly.
4) Don’t let anyone ever tell you your dreams are out of reach. Only YOU know your full potential.
5) Dreams are nothing without action. Dream it, then DO it!
6) Fear is a wolf. Chase the wolf, and you’ll never be afraid of the things you once feared.
7) Smile more, worry less. Positivity is infectious.
8) Life is called a “rat race,” but remember that it’s a marathon and not a sprint.
9) Don’t ever judge yourself in comparison to others. Instead, judge yourself against what you know you’re capable of.
10) Love is all you need. But sometimes even love is not enough. Know when to say “when.”
11) You can’t change anyone, except yourself. Conversely, be wary of anyone who tries to change you to suit their ideal.
12) Write things down. You’ll be amazed how many great ideas you forget!
13) Celebrate your victories in life… even the small ones.
14) Don’t think so much. Sometimes it’s OK to just BE.
15) Don’t worry about getting knocked down. Instead, focus on getting back up as quickly as possible.
16) The family you’re born with ultimately isn’t as important as the family you choose. Choose wisely!
17) The people who truly love you don’t see all the flaws you see. Learn to see yourself through their eyes.
18) The scars you can’t see are worse than those you can. Heal them, and you’ll heal yourself.
19) It’s OK to test the waters, but don’t be afraid to jump in.
20) Happiness isn’t a destination, but a lifelong journey. When in doubt, just keep swimming.
21) Don’t look for a partner who makes you happy; look for one who makes you want to be your best self.
22) Treat life as an adventure. On their deathbeds, people usually regret the things they DIDN’T do.
23) The road less traveled is not always easy, but it’s never boring.
24) Don’t wait to learn from your own mistakes. Watch, listen, and learn from the mistakes of others.
25) Once you admit that you truly know nothing, life’s real education begins.
26) It’s great to have goals. Just remember that there’s always more than one path to achieving them.
27) Parenthood isn’t that difficult. Ask yourself, “What would I have wanted my parents to do?” And then do that.
28) Nobody ever made history by playing it safe. Be bold!
29) Never stop learning. Learning= growth= youth.
30) Karma is circular. Put out into the Universe the positive energy you seek in return.
31) Enjoy the frivolity of youth while you can, for it will be gone sooner than you think.
32) You’re never quite as smart as you think you are, nor as rich or thin as you want to be.
33) Don’t let the highs get too high or the lows get too low. The key to happiness lies in the balance.
34) Never forget where you come from. Let the past keep you grounded and humble.
35) Don’t let failure get you down. Look for the learning opportunity in every bad situation.
36) If you don’t have passion for what you’re doing, do something else instead. Life’s too short to work “just for the money.”
37) When a door closes, leave it closed. There’s always an open window just around the corner.
38) “I can’t” becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. In truth, you’ll never know until you try.
39) Listen to all advice and criticism that comes your way, but know when to ignore it completely.
40) Take your work seriously, but not yourself.
41) Take time to think before you speak, because you can’t take words back. In moments of heightened tension, think twice.
42) Happiness isn’t just the most important thing in life; it’s the only thing that matters.
43) Invest yourself only in those willing to invest themselves in you. Toxic people and “takers” will suck your energy dry.
44) Learn to accept the unconditional love you deserve, and to give it tenfold in return.
45) No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to live the life you’ve always wanted. –Bret Love
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When I was a kid, my personality could have been adequately summarized with three “S” adjectives: Shy, sensitive and stubborn. It’s the latter trait to which I owe much of my subsequent success.
A youthful example of my iron will in action: Me and my five cast-mates from our high school’s One-Act Play were having a cast party at our drama teacher’s lake house. Out on the dock in the middle of the lake, shenanigans ensued, with various people pushing and throwing various other people into the water.
I decided I’d have no part of the tomfoolery, but their attention inevitably turned to me. So I wrapped one forearm around the base of the slide ladder, gripped it tightly with my other hand, and held on for dear life.
Three teenage boys and two girls tugged and pulled and yanked my legs this way and that with all of their might. But I didn’t budge, even as a huge strawberry-colored bruise was rubbed into my arm. Eventually they gave up. I quickly scrambled to my feet, grinned at them broadly and did a flip into the water.
Even at 16, with all of my myriad insecurities and fears, nobody could make me do anything I didn’t want to do. And, perhaps more importantly, I didn’t give up even when there were obstacles on the road to something I really wanted.