At the end of 2013, I wrote a year in review blog. Traveling Ink had launched that year, so there were a lot of firsts, and I was happy to look back on what had been accomplished and, more importantly, learned in 2013. Now that 2014 has passed, and I find myself struggling to write a '15 instead of a '14 on my dated material, the thought of another end of year blog came to mind. This one would be a bigger challenge however. You see, I've had something of a case of writer's block for a number of months now.
Just as 2013 did, 2014 held a number of firsts and exciting moments. We had our first communications intern, Lea Anna Cardwell, join us. She is a capable, kind, young writer who conquered the Cooper River Bridge Run, rallied support for the carriage industry, and was adventurous enough to kayak black water with Coastal Expeditions. She is now forging ahead in grad school at Clemson.
Traveling Ink also took its first full travel writing trip in the southeast with a visit to Bald Head Island, NC. We took a whole team to explore the island and did everything from sailing through a small pod of dolphin with the Riverside Adventure Company and Sail Shop, to learning about the ecology of the island with the Bald Head Island Conservancy, to climbing the old lighthouse used in the movie Weekend at Bernie's. Even without those activities, it would have been incredibly relaxing to just enjoy the pristine beaches and maritime forest environments this place had to offer.
The First Flush Festeaval was another highlight for the year, as we were able to enjoy the grounds at the Charleston Tea Plantation, the first batch of sweet tea for the year, and a bevy of talented musicians who entertained throughout the day. We interviewed Stop Light Observations and Atlas Road Crew, and covered the The Avett Brothers' set from the pit close enough to see the sweat on their brows.
As many years do, 2014 had both highs and lows, and, in spite of all the exciting things that happened last year, it was the hardest year of my life. I lost my father very unexpectedly in August. Three short weeks later, I lost my grandfather also. Though many people encourage bloggers to be personal when they write, there is always something of a question mark in regard to how vulnerable a writer should be. It is a challenge to know how much information is too much.
I've realized at this point that mentioning my losses is part of a healthy process for me. It is something like eating my Brussels sprouts. I don't know why exactly, but, growing up, Brussels sprouts were "the dreaded vegetable" in my mind. For some people it may have been lima beans, broccoli, or asparagus. There was probably some food out there that everyone touted as being very good for you, but the thought of eating it was, well, unpleasant. Talking about loss isn't at all pleasant or easy, but I know its good for me. I know one of the reasons I've had writer's block these last few months is that I didn't know how to write about "everyday things", without somehow mentioning what's really been on my mind. It is hard to forge forward without acknowledging what has past.
Both my father and grandfather played integral parts in the creation of Traveling Ink. My grandfather encouraged me to come to Charleston for a weekend visit a little over eleven years ago. I'd only been in town for about an hour when he suggested I move to Charleston where he was a part-time resident. He said he'd like me to live here, if I thought I'd like it (hmmmm...hard not to like Charleston). He also thought the move might enable me to pursue my own interests here in business. My granddad was an architect for over 60 years and owned his own firm for over 50. He spoke often of the freedom owning your own business provided, and how important it was to "do something you love(d)" if possible. I had visited Charleston once before, but fell in love with it during that weekend trip. Three months later, I made it my home and haven't looked back. I think it's very safe to say I wouldn't have started a travel website in Charleston without the influence of my grandfather.
My father was no different. He started his first company when he was young, and there is no doubt he had a part in my entrepreneurial spirit. When I started the process of building Traveling Ink, the first "make something happen" phone call was to him. He owned a WISP (Wireless Internet Service Provision) and all access IT company named Computers & Tele-Comm Inc., and I bought the domain name for Traveling Ink from his company. When the site launched he wrote, "Proud Dad is delighted that the entrepreneurial genes kicked in on something done so well," in the comments section. I didn't publish it. I thought "Who wants to hear my dad boast about his own daughter?" Dads have to be proud right? Isn't that an unwritten rule of fathers and daughters? Of course, all that seems silly now. He was just trying to love on me in that moment.
As 2015 begins, I know my dad and granddad would want me to move forward, pursuing life and this company which has brought me so much joy and taught me so many lessons. I think most people know that life is not going to be perfect, but one of the lessons this journey has taught me is that sometimes life is going to be more difficult than you imagined it could be...and it is okay to let people in on that. As a web-based business, part of how Traveling Ink is connected to people is through social media. Now more than ever, children and adults alike live in a digital age where their real lives and social media presence may not match up exactly. We exist in a world where most people (purposefully or not) try to put their best face forward on social media. We post pictures of our perfect cup of coffee, our adorable children or our adorable dog, the business gala we attended, the fun vacation, or night on the town we spent with our friends. There's nothing wrong with sharing those joys, but we may want to be cautious not to forget that things won't always be sunny, and it's okay to let the right people in to those parts of our lives also.
Dad and I at the petting zoo. Snoopy was always a favorite of mine.
One of the things I talked about in last year's end of year blog post was the importance of people, in our struggles and our celebrations. My thoughts on that have only been solidified this year. Beyond the grace and love of the Lord, people have been my most valuable resource, support, and joy this year. This travel site exists for people. My motivation for it was for Charleston locals to get out and enjoy their city and one another more, and to provide a resource for out-of-towners to travel to a place they would enjoy with the people they enjoy. My challenge to anyone reading this blog would be to continue to invest in people this year. Spend time with them. Travel with them. Have fun with them. Support them when they need help doing something difficult, like eating their Brussels sprouts. Thank you for helping to support me as I eat mine, and for all of the ways you support Traveling Ink. I wish everyone the very best in 2015.
In loving memory of
Graeme E. B. Gibson & James E. Gibson
Audra Gibson is a Christian, photographer, surfer, and a lover of teriyaki steak bites. She enjoys live music, doesn't like to be cold, and she's a bit of a cheese snob. Traveling Ink was her little brain child and she's very happy that you're here. She'd be oh so happy to recommend her favorite tours and attractions in town, help you with a team building event, or organize a day (or week) of fun for you and your group.Website: www.audragibson.com