It’s Thanksgiving here in the USA, which means Americans around the globe are gathering together, eating way too much, and watching sports. Um, I mean gathering together with those we love and being thankful for the good times and blessings we’ve experienced in the past year.
I think it’s important to dwell on the great things we’ve gotten to experience and it’s a good exercise to make an inventory of things we’re thankful for from time to time. So whether your plans today call for turkey, roast, or a sous vide sirloin center cut like above, I wanted to share five things I’m thankful for today, some travel-related and others not:
1. My Passport
It’s easy to look at a document like a passport and think “well obviously I’m happy I have that or else I wouldn’t be able to travel outside of my country.” And I am thankful for that. But, as a holder of a US passport, I realize I’m pretty lucky to be born an American. My passport is widely accepted throughout our great planet and there are plenty of men and women who have given their lives to protect, defend, and uphold the strength of the USA which makes my passport as powerful as it is. It’s funny though, looking back at my trips over the past few years I realize I tend to visit foreign lands more often than exploring my own country. I don’t think it’s on purpose or anything I set out to do but I think it’s moreso a “I love leaving so I can love coming home again” type of things. The concept of “home” has been fairly fluid this year but there’s nothing quite like touching back down on your native soil.
2. Family and Friends who encourage me to follow my dreams
I love traveling and I like telling stories. As this blog started to take off my family and friends supported me in it, telling me that either they loved reading my articles or just liked looking at all the pretty pictures. Blogging can be a lonely pursuit sometimes, even travel blogging. Yes, you can be in amazing places like Saint Gilgen, Austria, pictured above, but you sometimes find yourself back in your hotel room writing your story instead of being out there experiencing life. It’s hard to find a balance sometimes but I have an awesome network of family and friends who embrace it with me and encourage me to keep going.
3. The BoardingArea Network
I have absolutely no idea how to run a website. I don’t know how to manage things like bandwidth, malware, advertising networks, any of it. I was lucky enough to join the BoardingArea and Prior2Boarding networks just over 2 years ago. From their home base in Colorado Springs (not far from where I took this overprocessed picture of Pikes Peak, in fact) they manage everything for me and put up with my crazy questions. From frequent-flyer legend Randy Petersen to the support team of Heather, Kristin, Jerry, Denny, Josh, Mark, and the rest of the team (yes Meagan, you too!). I know they have my back which gives me the gift of just being able to focus on blogging. The other bloggers on the network are valued resources when I get stuck and many have become close friends. I’m not quite sure if I’m a “good blogger” yet but I’m light years ahead of where I was when I started because of the continued investment that BoardingArea makes in me.
I’ll be honest, I first picked up a decent point and shoot (Fuji X10) camera almost out of annoyance because I knew I needed to run more pictures on the blog. I never thought that only three years later my images would be featured by Travel+Leisure, shared by numerous airlines on social media, and have print sales in the hundreds! It has taken a lot of work (and significant financial investment) but I now feel almost close to slightly calling myself a photographer. I still have a long way to go though 🙂
I enjoy photography because I get to show my
readers friends not only how something looked but how it felt. Moments in time are full of context and emotion and I finally feel skilled enough to properly show that context and depth in my images. If you’ve been a long-time follower of the blog you’ve had to put up with some pretty amateur images, so thank you for your patience and hopefully it was worth the wait!
(Oh, and just because it’s close to shopping season, here are my up-to-date camera recommendations in case you’re looking for a new one!)
5. The hundreds of thousands of visitors to Andy’s Travel Blog
When I started this blog 10 readers in a day was a record day. Back then (almost four years ago) I could’ve probably identified each one of those readers too! Since then the blog has grown, sometimes slowly and sometimes in massive chunks. I’ll put it this way, last month more people visited the blog than in the first two years combined. Not a bad feeling to see that!
For those of you who have never blogged or anything like that it is a really humbling emotion to know that people will take part of their life and spend it reading things you wrote and looking at images you created. It’s a blessing to me and also a challenge: I need to make sure that it continues to be worth it. It’s not about pageviews or sessions or affiliate links (even though those help keep me traveling), it’s about making a connection with readers, some of whom I’ve been lucky enough to meet.
Like I said before, blogging can sometimes seem to be a solitary pursuit but the comments and encouragement you’ve given me over the years reminds me that I’m not in this alone, that my beloved readers are right there with me.
Sure, blogging is fun, but it is only because of you. You have kept this blog going. I am thankful for you and count each of you as a blessing to me.
A reminder to slow down and be thankful
Most of my readers are in the USA, but I want to encourage every reader to slow down today and take note of the victories and blessings of the past year. Slow down and leave time for gratitude. Find those you love, put your arms around them, and tell them you’re thankful for them and love them. It’s the only way we can fix this crazy world: love and gratitude.