Road Trip: The Plan

So it’s been a little while since I posted a vlog about my road trip. You can watch my Road Trip: The Beginning pt 2, along with a conversation with my dear friend Robb.

Since then I’ve started driving around here, there, and everywhere, going to different places and seeing the sites! I absolutely love road trips. They’re the best way to see a country. This particular trip is from the northern tip of New Zealand to the southern tip. It’s so exciting!!

Though I’m on the road trip now, you can take a look at how I’ve mapped out my path.

Enjoy!

2020 Phrase of the Year

Apparently it’s common for people to have a word or phrase of the year.

I’m big on goals for the year, you’ll see a vlog on that later, but a phrase that is supposed to represent you for an entire year. That’s intriguing.

I think it’s a neat idea. You can run big decisions of the year through the filter of the word or phrase. It would help a people keep focused on their phrase of “positivity”, “community”, or any other word they might.

I assume people take a lot of time to thoroughly ensure they have the right word for this point and time in their life.

Alright, I picked mine. Drum Roll Please!

2020 Phrase of the Year: Show Me Some (Fluffy) Passion!
(PG edit because my nephew is 6, and I like to imagine he is an avid reader of his uncle‘s blog.)

Long ago, I read a person’s comment on Reddit about something that changed their life.

Technically, not something, rather, some words. 

They decided they would post the words Show Me Some (Fluffy) Passion in their house. If my memory serves me right, they posted it in their bedroom so they could see it every day.

Each day they woke, read the words reminding them to show passion.

The redditor mentioned after some time, they noticed change in multiple areas of their life.

Work changed because they were reminded to show the passion that once earned him the job. Married life changed because they showed the passion felt instead of letting it sit. Their life changed because they started looking for things they were passionate about and pursuing them.

Humor me for a moment, as I dive into the phrase.

Show Me

Every 20-something year old with a guitar will tell you they’re passionate about music. Others may talk about the outdoors, social justice, and community as their passion.

In many cases, a 30-something year old passion may have live a life directly impacted by their passions. Or they could be discovering their passion for the first time. (I’m a year away from my thirties, and I’m in many ways just learning and pursuing my passions.

For most people 40’s and above family life has really kicked in gear, and the passion of old isn’t the same. It’s changed direction.

The point of the Show Me, is to prove it. A stranger should be able to walk into your life, follow you for a day/week/month and at the end of it say, “You’re passionate about music/family/money.”

To say you’re passionate about a topic is one thing. To go out there and show it is entirely different.

 

Some

We have the ability to be passionate about a lot of things. What we don’t have is the capacity for showing our full passion in every single category. There’s just not enough time in the day. That’s why some is so important.

Choose a few of your passions to focus on. Some of them will pan out into something greater! Which is very cool. Some of them will not. No worries, a passion doesn’t have to equal a business or amazing performance. If you decide a passion is done, cool, we have another passion that can take its place.

Show some of your passion daily. If your passion is dog walking, Don’t spend 10 hours on dog training once and then be over it for a month. Show some today, some the next day, next week, next month. Get in the habit of continually showing some.

Plan to show it.
Make time on the calendar for it.
When you have free time, study it.

Put some effort into your passion. Otherwise, your passion is just a wish.

 

 

If you’re passionate about music make the best music you possibly can. Then grow in the passion and learn more. Get better.

If your job is your passion, walk into work and show yourself. Make you believe again, you are passionate about what you do.

When your passion has a new focus, devote yourself to it. If your passion is those around you, show passion for family by changing as they change. By loving them where they are as they grow to find and chase their passion.

Showing passion isn’t an extravagant moment. It’s daily. It’s a grind. It’s hard.

It’s not going out with the boys because you want to get one more shot of the night sky. It’s not finding ways to leave work early, but learning ways to better employment. It’s learning the more about why the heck your child is excited about seeing a penguin in Minecraft.

 

 

(Fluffy)

Now, I shouldn’t have to explain what this word really was when the person wrote it. It’s what I like to call a “heightening” word.

It emphasizes anger, excitement, disappointment, shock, horror. It takes the feelings of wherever its placed to the next level.

Some of you need to add more fluffy to your pursuit of passion. Heighten your pursuit. Go to the next level. Don’t stay in one spot with your passion, until it’s time to set the passion aside.

So seek help. In our Information Age, there are too many resources available for you to stop learning.
Google exists.
YouTube exists.
Pinterest exists.
The information is ripe for your picking. Go out there a fluffy do it!

Get on yourself and do it. Amp yourself up.  Heighten your focus. Get in there and fluffy work.

Passion.

Passion is like abs. You have them. You can’t tell me you don’t, because all of us do. Some of us are just learning where they are and how to show them. Others of us have been showing them off for years and posting pictures on Instagram of them. Some of us forgot we have them when we stopped pursuing them and lost them under thick layers of laziness.

Nevertheless, our abs and passion are there.

 

So this is my 2020 Phrase of the Year: Show Me Some Fluffy Passion.

I’m hitting the point in my life, where I need to be pursuing these passions. Pursue, lest I forget I have them. Pursue daily, a grind that allows me to grow in them; grow with them.

These passions are mine. They were given to me and are my responsibility. No one else has passions exactly like mine.

 

Once more:

Show. Me. Some. Fluffy. Passion.

The Expat Experience

Let me be the first to tell you, I LOVE BEING ON A PODCAST.

Seriously, it’s like one of my favorite things to do! You put together the plan, you go through the process, you practice the questions, then when you’re finally ready, you record the podcast.

So. Much. Fun.

Podcasts have taken the world by storm and it seems like everyone has one they want to recommend! I was at dinner the other day with a friend, and during a short pause, he looked at me quite seriously and asked, “What podcasts are you listening to?”

In this particular dinner, I mentioned The Expat Experience.

As an expat myself, I enjoy hearing other expat stories and being encouraged by what they say! I am so very fortunate, to have been a guest for 2 of such type of podcasts: Melanated Stamps, a podcast about American minorities traveling abroad. The other is The Expat Experience.

The Expat Experience was started by Amelia J., a Canadian who is currently living in Germany. When she posted in a digital nomad facebook group about starting a podcast, I leaped at the opportunity to add a topic that should be discussed, loneliness. Amelia agreed that it was a good topic and asked me to join the podcast for a discussion.

Here it is:

Wasn’t that great? Yeah! I think so too.

I’ve had many conversations with people about living abroad. As Amelia mentions, loneliness is a bit of a taboo topic amongst expats and nomads. But why?

Maybe because we’re supposed to be having the ‘time of our lives’?
Maybe because if admit to feeling lonely, we’re admitting defeat and therefore need to go back home?
Maybe because we don’t have a deep connection of friends to confess our true feelings?

Whatever the reason may be, I fully believe expression of truth allows for one to grow and be free.

I had a chance recently to visit with a man I consider to be a mentor. Let me rephrase that, he visited me! Here! IN NEW ZEALAND!! Conversing with him, seeing him, and hugging him was so warming to the soul.

He brought up another acquaintance who’s doing a journey from Cape Town to Cairo in Africa right now. I’m not sure what inspired him to do that kind of journey, but that is awesome. My mentor looked at me and asked me, “It’s gotta be lonely, right? This life that you guys have chosen.”

My answer: “Yes, all the time.”

They say everybody is fighting their own battle, so be kind because you don’t know what they are fighting. I can tell you right now, most expats and nomads are fighting loneliness.

This isn’t a post about “Woe is me! I’m so lonely in another country.”
This is an awareness post.

Depending on who you are, I want you to take away something from this podcast and post.

  • If you’re an expat feeling lonely, know you’re not alone. Plenty of expats and nomads around you are going through the same thing. It’s going to be okay. I promise! But you NEED to reach out to someone and open up. You don’t need to divulge every detail of your life, but be honest enough to say, I am struggling in this moment.
    Even if the burden you’re carrying is shared with someone who is also a nomad, and will leave your location in a hour/week/month, having the weight lifted off your shoulders for a moment is better than holding on to it alone longer than you need.
  • If you’re a person who has a friend living their dream abroad! Call them. Call them now. I don’t care what time it is, do it. They miss you. Conversations you have, don’t always have to be hours long. There is something precious about receiving a spontaneous text, voicemail, call that says, I’m just here to make sure you’re okay.
    Whether they confess their feelings to you or not, call them. Then do it again in a month. They’ll appreciate it.

  • If you’re about to start your journey prepare yourself. Send a message to your friends asking for their help before you need it. In fact, proof that I practice what I preach, this is what I wrote to my friends who named ourselves the #DolphinGang: (Yes, even in post with my friends, I am referred to, and I refer to myself, as Oneandonlynunez 🙂
    Don’t be discouraged, you’re going to ROCK THIS LIFESTYLE.

We’re not meant to live this life alone, support each other!

Healing

Let me know if you’ve experienced this: You go out with an acquaintance/friend/someone, you spend some time around them and you leave telling yourself: “Wow, they have so much wrong them, it explodes onto me when I’m around them,” “They need to work on themselves, because they always bring the mood down,” or maybe even “Spending time with them is always draining”?

Whether it comes from a judgmental place, or becoming more aware of those you allow around you, you can be honest here, we’ve all felt that at one time or another.

Much to my surprise, and delight, I recently experienced the opposite.

I recently started on an epic journey! Touring New Zealand relying on wits, the generosity of people and the grace of God. So far it’s taken me from one suburb of Auckland to another. My journey of 1,000 miles began with a 15 min drive to a new house down the road!

On this journey, I’ve been praying for some things:
1. For peace and protection while I travel around. These are generally nice things to pray for.
2. For people to travel with. I’ve traveled to about 20 countries, let me tell you, the best memories come when you have people by your side.
3. To be open to life changing and big conversations. I don’t want to shy away from those who want to have conversations about faith, death, sexuality, family, or whatever is on their mind. Strangers can make great conversationists and you never know when a conversation can change you.

Recently on this journey, I met another traveler willing to take a chance on getting in a car with a stranger. Together, we hiked, toured some cities, and drank wine on an island. It was a good way to start my road trip.

Before the traveler joined me, I mentioned to them. “Naturally, I’m an introvert. So, there may be times when I just need to be alone or walk away from everything and just recharge in my room. Take the time to do whatever you’d like. Don’t feel bad that I want to be away from you, it’s not you, I just appreciate my solitude.

They admitted they felt the same and would also let me know when they needed to be reading a book in a corner or walk to the nearest cafe to sit alone. It was a great conversation, we made our boundaries and desires known, and we were on our way

Side note #1: learn to set boundaries in your life. Set them with friends, family, and strangers. Hold to them. It’s worth it. Also, respect others’ boundaries.

After spending quite a bit of time with this individual, I noticed something. I didn’t feel the need to escape to the safety of my solitude. My time alone often includes my exploring the distant corners and thoughts of my mind. Yet, around this person, I was ever present.

Toward the end of the time I spent with them, I had a moment where I felt healthy. I was not drained by this time with spent around a stranger. I wasn’t seeking asylum under the covers in the arms of my bed. I was happy to simply exist where I was. It felt healthy.

Funny that I felt “healthy” because previous to this moment, I didn’t feel sick.

Side note #2: I think sometimes we get so used to being sick/in pain/tired we forget what healthiness looks like in specific situations of our life. It’s common for me not to realize I’m experiencing normal human things. (I say ‘human’ as if i’m not one.) Nevertheless, at the end of my days, you can often hear me ask myself, “Did I eat today?” Hunger is a human feeling that can often slip my mind.
Pain, on the other hand, that is hard to go unnoticed. Despite how commonly I’ve experienced it in my life, each ounce of it is an uncomfortable gut wrench that is both unfamiliar and familiar at the same time, each time. Yet despite this discomfort, we make pain comfortable and sit in it. Why do we endure? well, that’s a post for a different day

As I spent time around this stranger I noticed I felt better. Not better about myself because I judged their life choices. Not better because they finally left me alone. I felt like a healthier person after interacting with them. Each of us have felt what I described earlier, the drain of spending time with certain persons. But do many of us have a person that can help reenergize us? Maybe I’ve felt it before, maybe I just haven’t recognized it.

This time I did.

It’s as if the time I spent traveling was actually me checking into rehab, completing the 12 step program, and walking out the other side a burden removed from my shoulders. I was walking with a burden added without me recognizing.
*cue the music* i’m walking on sunshine ohhhh, ohhhh, and it makes me feel good, yeah, alright*

I sincerely hope I can be a person like that to others, while on this trip, and in my daily life.

I will say, one of the most curious things about suddenly feeling healthy, is not wanting to leave it. I find that the problem with getting healthy, is that when you’re finally 100%, you start to like it. You’re reminded that this is the person you like to be. You’re reminded that you’ve gone through some stuff and though you survived it, going through it takes it’s toll. Over time, most things in life do.

Once we’re healthy, we’re left with knowing we must go back through the grind, ever taking its toll on us. And whether it’s in the back of our minds, or at the forefront of thought, within ourselves we know we’ll slowly shrink away from 100%. It may be steps each day that lowers us to 99, then 98, then 97. Or we may go through a free fall down to 60.

So then why do leave the safety of 100? Why escape the safety of being separate from that which takes its toll.

Why don’t we stay in the place we can consistently be connected to what charges us and not brave the world of hurt people. After all, it is the people who are hurt who hurt people. It’s a cycle of pain that we progress ourselves.

Sometimes intentionally, other times on accident.

One of the wonderful things about facts, is that when a fact is true, often the opposite is true. If hurt people, hurt people, then loved people, love people.

It took me a while to see it this way. But this individual who helped me was well loved on their own and therefore capable of spreading their love

To slightly break myself out of my introvert mold and be more balanced, I told myself “if you see something you like, you have to say something.” Its simple, but effective.

I’ll complement a fresh haircut of a stranger. I’ll thank the bus driver for driving modestly (which doesn’t happen often, most bus drivers drive like it’s their last day on the job and they need to get to the next stop as fast as possible.). I’ll let a person know I like their art. It’s a small moment that can change a person’s day for the better.

I caught myself walking down the street of the Central Business District in Auckland. Within a group of people there was one person I admired. As usual, I couldn’t remember his name, but I stepped in front of him anyways and said, “Hey bud, we met months ago. You’re a photographer, I saw your work, it’s great stuff. Keep up the good work.” Immediately, I turned to walk away, I did my part and said I like something to the person who created it and was going about my business.

As I departed, he turned around and to me, “Thanks bro. You made my day, man!”

If a hurt person can ruin an entire day with only a few choice words, then a loved person can make someone’s day with a few choice words.

For me, this was just a simple walk to the grocery store. The first one since leaving my traveling friend. I was walking healthy down the streets of Auckland. As a loved person, I was able to love people. Continuing a cycle of love that can only be progressed through our actions.

That is why we leave our place of 100. Because there are people who need little encouragements, who need burdens removed from their shoulders, even if just for a moment. We leave our place of 100, to help others get to their 100. When we’re loved, then we have the love to give.

I’m glad I got healthy at the beginning of my epic road trip.

My Favorite Travel Blunders

Traveling is super popular on social media. Right now, you can go on Pinterest, Instagram, and any other social media app and see hundreds of pictures from the perfect and ideal trips.

There are women who spent 20 minutes getting the right pose, in the right city, at the right time are a dime a dozen! Couples who take astonishing engagement photos in the with the perfect sunset. Families who take pictures of their babies while living on the road in Europe.

The pictures are all amazing and astonishing! Every single one of them! And of course, there is usually a great story about something the travelers experienced, learned, or overcame that is detailed below the picture.

It’s inspiring! I totally do the same thing.

You know what you don’t hear enough?
Travel blunder stories.

Like in real life, traveling has these silly moments that create memories that stick in the mind just as well as a perfect moment. They’re not always caught on camera. They aren’t ones that you can prepare for. And they certainly aren’t ones that you expect.

I have plenty of these blunder stories from all over the world. Some of them are funny, some of them cost me money, while others taught me a lesson.

Here is My Favorite Travel Blunders pt. 1 (because with how awkward I am, there will certainly be more)

 

Chicago, Illinois, USA 
I’ll start with a month long road trip I did in the States. Over the course of this road trip, I drove my Red MINI Cooper through 19 states and a piece of Canada. I likely covered about 2,000 miles (3200kms) during this time. I decided I was going to spend as little money as possible on housing. I would camp or sleep in parking lots.

Through most of the trip, this worked perfectly! Except in Chicago. It was one of my longer driving days and I couldn’t find any good places to end the day. Without finding any spots outside the city, I ended up driving into Chicago looking for a place to sleep.

Eventually, I found my way to a hospital parking lot. I practiced a line I would say if I was asked why I was asleep here, “My relative is having surgery and I’m just waiting until it’s done to hear the news!” That should work, right?

At 2am, a security guard came to my window and started banging to wake me up. “You can’t stay here!” He repeated it at least 3 times, before I was awake enough to understand what he was telling me. I rolled down my window just a crack and said coyly, “Can I help you?”

His response was the same as before, “You can’t stay here.”

I was ready to say my line. I’d been rehearsing for this. But before I could get out the words to say, he walked away. As soon as he finished saying his line, he turned around and got into his car. I was a little shocked by this and shouted to him, “Where should I go?”

No response.

So, heeding his words, I turned on my car, drove back to the other side of the hospital parking lot and went to sleep. Apparently, this side of the parking lot was fine, because he never came to tell me to move. However, every now and then when I sleep in my car, I have a dream that I am yet again being woken by the security guard in Chicago.

 

Dominican Republic
In the DR, I was on a service journey with Denver Community Church. As we helped erect a house in the area, we were given permission to enter this older woman’s house to use her bathroom.

I, of course, like to stay very hydrated. So, I was commonly going in to use her bathroom. Using my broken Spanish, I was able to chat with the elderly woman a bit every time I went inside.

During the second day of work, I causally walked into the house, through her room, and into the bathroom as usual. However, this time when I entered her room, I saw here there, topless next to her bed.

Whoops.

Immediately, I decided I didn’t have to use the bathroom in that moment and I walked away.

On our last day, I wanted to take a picture of myself with some contrasting colors. I was asking the locals to borrow a chair. Guess who had a plastic chair for me? Yes, sweet little old lady.

I placed the chair down and set up the camera where I wanted it. Without relooking at the chair I sat down.

Without me realizing it, the little old woman snuck behind me and sat on the chair. Therefore, I ended up sitting on her fragile little lap. I’m not sure where we got lost in translation, but I don’t think either of us were expecting the other one to be in the chair.

Not only did I see her half nude this week, but I also sat on her lap. This mission trip ended up way more kinky than I expected.

 

Paris, France 
This one I will never forget. I was with my wonderful sister, Angelita, and my darling niece, Milana.

After spending a day in Paris, we were taking a bus to the beach. It’s about a three and one half hour drive. Keeping babies entertained is a full time job. Sometimes it’s difficult on a trip because they wont just fall asleep whenever it’s convenient.

On this particular drive, my sister and I were taking turns playing with the little one who was wide awake and ready to play! Roughly an hour into the drive, my sister noticed something was starting to smell bad.

uh oh

Milana had pooped. But what was even worse was that the poop had escaped her diaper!

Yup

In an effort to entertain her, I was bouncing my darling niece on my lap. Little did I know but with each bounce, the poo seeped out. It dripped onto me. It got on her back. It splashed on my sister. It got on the chair in front of us.

It was like a war scene, poo EVERYWHERE. We were blissfully unaware of all the splattered poo now scattered throughout our area of the bus.

It was a stinky situation, but my sister couldn’t help but to laugh at the silly moment.

 

Traveling has its blunders.

Be prepared to make good stories out of them.

Remind Me, Who I Am

I get asked sometimes if I brought a lot of stuff with me from America.

Kinda?

I did bring 3 large suitcases, 1 75L backpacking bag and 1 tote. All full of stuff. However, all of it are thing I use frequently! Except for a few special occasion things (like my batman onesie) -That’s a topic for another post

One of the most important items I brought with me is a pair of canvas with notes glued to them.

F L A S H B A C K

It was the summer of ’10. I was working at Frontier Ranch in Scott’s Valley, CA. It’s a great summer camp for kids. Tons of fun! As a counselor there, I was able to play around with children, do sketch comedy, and meet other people from different states and countries. It was a total blast.

At one point during the day, there was ‘mail time’. It was the time when the kids would receive the care packages that their parents gave them so they didn’t miss home as much. For the counselors, it was a time when notes were handed out from other counselors or employees.

Often, these notes were a joke from friends, making fun of something a kid did the day before, or laughing at someone’s camp name.
Side note: My name was Scorching Raven, because I’ve always had a cool nic name in my life 😉 *except for the time as a freshman in high school when I tried to get “the surprise” as my nic name. It was my AIM username, my email address, and I’m sure I wrote it down on my Facebook originally. It never caught on.

Sometimes, those notes would be more meaningful. They would be little thank you’s for helping out here. Or perhaps a “you’re a great guy” thanks for letting me vent. Being a counselor is tons of fun, but it gets exhausting at times, and you rely on people to help you get through the week.

These notes were the most sincere ones, as people needed genuine time with someone aside from the chaos of summer camp with kids.

I kept plenty of those notes.

A year later, I worked nearby at a Kampground of America in Watsonville, CA. During that summer doing similar duties with a closer knit group, we would take time at the end of the summer to write more intentional notes to one another.

I kept those notes too.

F L A S H F O R W A R D 

I don’t like to keep trinkets or little souvenirs too often. Sure, I’ll keep the more meaningful ones, but if I come across something I own and I’m not (a) using it within a year or (b) can’t remember who gave it to me, it’s getting donated (Please stop trashing good things, when you can donate it)

However, one day after college, I was going through a lot of my school papers, and tossing them out. I found a bunch of these notes piled up. I started reading them. They read…

  • I’m thankful of Michael’s excellent positive outlook
  • I’ve never met someone so willing to listen and open to comfort as you…
  • Your love and acceptance for people is awesome…
  • We just wanted to let you know how handsome we think you are…
    (I promise I didn’t make this one up. PEOPLE ACTUALLY WROTE THIS)
  • Thanks for putting up with my high maintenance all summer…
  • …I just love being around you!

Post university life wasn’t great for me. I felt like I was poorly adjusting to my expectations of life, the reality of adulthood, and a horrible job. I was not happy. My unhappiness overflowed into my friendships, romances, and employment.

Then I found these notes. 

Reading the notes reminded me of how much I’d changed. People enjoyed being around me, people opened up to me, and I was known for being loving. I was reading these notes and I felt the urge to return to myself. I wasn’t sure how to but I needed to get back to being the person that people recognized me as.

I decided to glue those notes to a canvas and put those canvases on my wall. They were placed in a location where I would be forced to see that every day.

I was reminding myself of who I was.

P R E S E N T

I still have those canvases on my wall here in Auckland. I’ve added a few notes over time that are reminders of who I am and the positive ways people see me. They are just as helpful in my life now as they were in the past.

There are times when I don’t act like myself. When I act out irrationally, when I act with envy, or when I act out of hurt.
Even when I don’t act like myself, these notes remind me of who I am.

There are times when I admit to people, I’m an egotistical prick, who taunts others from my high horse, and sets out to push others down as the only way to be lifted up. Ouch.
Even when I don’t believe what they say, these notes remind me of who I am.

There are times when people don’t recognize who I am and in their moments of acting outside of who they are will call me something like worthless, stupid (I was called that a lot as a child), or useless, either in their words or in their actions.
Even when I’m told something different, these notes remind me of who I am.

There’s a verse in the Bible that says, “Put these words in your heart and in your soul. Bind them as a sign on your hand. Place them in front of your eyes.”

I came across this verse after I posted these canvas notes on my wall. To be honest, it makes sense why it would say to do this. With these reminders, I stay closer to who I am everyday. I am a better person in my friendships, romances, and employment. I am confident in myself because I’m reminded daily of who I am.

I will have days when my foundation is shaken. A person may act unlike themself and label me something I am not. I will have days when I don’t believe in myself.
Nevertheless, these notes will remind me of who I am.

Third Impressions of New Zealand

Woo!!! Third Impressions of New Zealand!!!!
I may never get tired of my “impressions” posts. So I’ll keep on cranking them out! In case you missed it here are Part 1 and Part 2.

This is going to be a fun one because I’m not going to be talking about what is different. Instead, I’l talking about what is the SAME.

Obviously, I’m living in a different country, so I expected things to be different for me here. However, There are quite a few things that are pretty much the same as my home in the States. Here is a list of a few of them.

Breweries 
Just like my home in Denver, there are plenty of small craft brews in and around New Zealand. I’m not much of a beer drinker, it all taste bad to me (hence why I’m a cocktail guy), but there are so many different places that are aspiring to make their small time beer a house hold name! If you are a hipster that likes a small name brewski, New Zealand may already be on your list of favorite beers.

Bike lanes!
I ride my bike a lot. So it’s super nice to have plenty of bike lanes for me to safely ride the road. It’s also very scary every time a bus sneaks up next to me, as I’m too into my new favorite podcasts The Mouthfull and Melanted Stamps. I know the bus isn’t actually sneaking up next to me, but somehow I am blissfully unaware anytime the behemoth of a vehicle is driving next to me. I can hear the engine of a car or truck, but a bus is like the ninja of the car world.

Ridiculous people running for office…
Let’s start with 2016 President Candidate from North Carolina, Deez Nuts. Seriously, look him up he tallied 9% of the vote if I remember correctly. In California, a special election was held in 2003 for governor. In the running was TV star Gary Coleman, movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger, and a porn star. Gary Coleman said of himself as a candidate, “I’m probably the least qualified for the job.”
Currently, it’s election season here in Auckland. Let me tell you, they have some equally hilarious candidates! One that comes to mind is comedian Tom Sainsbury. He has different characters that he uses, one of which is Fiona. Fiona is running for mayor.

Burgers
I used to think that no one does burgers like America. Then I came to New Zealand. I’ll admit, no one makes a burger quite like In-n-out in California or 5280 in Colorado, but There are some great options here. I’ve found some Korean burger fusion thats delicious! I frequent a my local burger shop, Ice & Fire, which is an Indian burger cuisine. And a vegan burger place that is equally delicious! Burgers are everywhere, and I’m not mad about it.
(I should not have talked about burgers, cuz now i’m going to have to buy a burger)

If there is one superficial thing I could ask for from the States to be here, I think one thing that I wish was here that isn’t is…tape delay. I would prefer to watch my American sports games in primetime so I don’t have to wake up at 5am to watch my favorite teams.

The People
People are the same everywhere you go. I travel a lot, and I always see hard working people. I find communities thriving. I see people trying to become famous. I see men vying for love of another. The people of New Zealand are the same as those back at home. They are doing their best to prosper their family, friends, and find happiness!

The Life I’ve Always Wanted

Just a few months ago, I was chatting with my homeboi Cameron about a fantasy scenario I have sometimes.

No, not that type of fantasy!

This one, “If someone paid for all your expenses for one year. What would you do with your time?”

If I remember correctly, he wanted to learn a way to make a sustainable business, so when he returned to work a year later, he would have a second income that would allow him to work less and spend more time with his family.

Very clever.

Mine was definitely more fantasy driven: It starts with moving to a small town. At the time, I said Grand Lake, Colorado. If I had to choose a favorite spot in Colorado, it would have to be Grand Lake. Not only do I have some very fond memories here, I really enjoy the scenery. It’s too beautiful. There is a quaint town with 2 for 1 margaritas during happy hour at one restaurant and ice cream shop that my lactose intolerant body cannot resist!

Next, I’d get a job! I know, you’re asking, ” Wasn’t the point of this fantasy to not work?”  Yes. In a way. I would want a job in cozy coffee shop. I’ve always wanted to own a coffee shop. When I was young, I dreamed of calling it Ms. Abbey. So clearly influenced by The Beatles album. I love coffee and the ambiance shops provide. Many good things happen within the four walls of a café. In my opinion, they don’t receive the recognition they deserve in the States.

Working at a coffee shop would also be my community fix. A place where I can see regulars, have some lengthy chats about how things are going on the ranch, discuss local politics, and probably ward off offers from the older customers attempting to set me up with their daughters or granddaughters.

Yep, even in my crazy fantasy, I’m single.

I’d run a lot in this fantasy life. When I was younger, I remember watching my brother run a lot. He was preparing for a marathon when he was 17 or 18. I was at a very impressionable age, and wanted to be just like him. Since then, my fantasy has always included days with a nice run.

I would fill the rest of my days with writing. I always dreamed that in the slow times in my coffee shop, I would sit and write something. A book maybe, or a memoir. In my dreams, I was a bit older and had traveled the world, shot beautiful pictures which were hung on the wall of the café, and I would sit and write stories I lived or heard while I was abroad.

It’s a simple fantasy; I like it.

_______________

“Do you think I could quit my job and work a bunch of little jobs?” I asked my sister. “I think I’d have plenty less money to play with, but I’d be happier overall!”

I’ve asked my sister this question plenty of times throughout my life. In fact, I’ve tossed a lot of ideas her way. I have so many different ideas that pop through my head. Many of them I filter, while the rest my sister helps filter between “ridiculous” and “so ridiculous, it just might work.”

Moving to New Zealand was ridiculous enough to work.

This idea of working multiple jobs to make a living is something I’ve tossed around for a while. A while ago, I started working multiple side jobs to make extra side money so I can pay the ever growing student loan mountain. (APU, you’re great, but I debate if you’re worth the cost!) Therefore, I was already used to wearing different hats.

So many people take the path of working multiple jobs all the while hoping they can one day land a big one to cover all of their expenses. The 9-5 life is what many people work toward, but honestly, I’m exhausted by it.

I’m so tired of driving an hour or more to work and back everyday.
I’m so tired of working a job that brings no enjoyment or value to my life.
I’m so tired of being tired at the end of the day and not having the energy to live!

I’ve been blessed with good jobs for the past few years and sure the money is good, but how long will I make myself live to work and just get more money and more tired? The constant struggle between what I do and what I want to do has been going on since I’ve joined the work force.

I remember having a conversation with my father about this. I love the provision my father has given my siblings and me during our adolescence. However, even at a young age, I could see the toll it took on him. He was tired, all the time. Fortunately, as he got older, he was offer jobs that required to drive less, or work less. But it took many years to get there.

During the phone call with my dad, he told me that during his life he learned that a person should choose something they enjoy over the money. He felt like money chasing was helpful in providing, but he missed out on enjoying some parts of life.

My dad worked a minimum of 40 hours a week, that’s 2080 hours a year. Factor in the 2 hours of drive time one way, my dad spent a minimum of 130 days of the year with work. Work that he wasn’t enjoying.

130 days of the year, doing something you don’t enjoy. Let that sink in. 

“You know what I’ve learned, son? If you choose to work something you enjoy, you’ll be happier at work, which will help you be happier overall. I would choose happiness over money.” My dad said simply.

“DON’T TELL HIM THAT!!!” Exclaimed my mother, who we then learned was eavesdropping.

Different strokes for different folks. Despite the saying, money does bring a form of happiness to a lot of people. It brings the security they feel they need. It brings the stuff to fill their house. It allows the to dress the way they want. Money is the fantasy that many people have, and they chase it like I chase my dreams. Power to them! I hope they get it and I hope it brings the type of happiness they’re looking for.

It just doesn’t bring the happiness I’m searching for.

_______________

Originally, I entered the work force as a manager of a retail store in Southern California. Let me tell you, that was awful. Like seriously, terrible. I’m a firm believer that everyone should spend 1 year working in customer facing retail positions.

Retail put so much stress on me! Thieves taking merchandise (and punching me in the face – a story for another time perhaps), constantly unruly middle aged women wanting to report me for not giving them a deeper discount, and a boss that would alter my hours without telling me so my paycheck was less than I earned. (Not you Laurie, you’re a gem and I love you, and still think about you and tell stories about you!)

It was there that I felt a strong drain of my life.
Every. Single. Day.

I’ve never felt more depressed in my entire life. I literally felt my soul draining out of me with every shift I had. I knew there had to be something else I could do that would suck the life out of me.

Eventually, I made my way to Colorado. It was there I made a new home for myself and discovered that work doesn’t have to be as bad. I worked as a project coordinator and project manager for years. It was quite okay. It wasn’t bringing me happiness, but it wasn’t draining me.

I learned that I could be comfortable with what this job provided me. A good paycheck, and low stress. I’m no opposed to a comfortable lifestyle, but I have to admit, I wasn’t happy with this job.

It was at this job that I was chatting about our “no work for a year fantasy” with Cameron. Sometimes, I feel like you have to sit down and dream. Fantasize about what you would do for a year if you didn’t have a job or expenses. Once you conjure the fantasy, work on making your life as close as you can to that dream.

That day, I decided to. It’s led me to where I am today. I’m so thrilled about where I am today.

_______________

My life isn’t the exact fantasy I created back then. But its closer than I’ve ever been.

I’m not waking up early to work in a coffee shop. But I’m staying up til 2am to teach English to children in China, which is tons of fun!
I run or ride my bike nearly everyday, just for the health of it!
I am writing. As you can see from this post, I’m writing quite a bit. (and that’s just the writing you see. 😉 Wait till my other stuff comes out!)
I’m pursuing ventures and activities that excite me! Ones that have me looking forward to “Mondays.”

Sure, I’m making less money. Like, a lot less money. I think my mom’s heart would drop to know I’ll likely make around $50,000 USD less than last year job. Don’t worry, I’m doing fine! This isn’t a round about way to ask for money. I like to think the money I’ve “lost” is just an investment into me. And let me tell you, the return on investment so far is high!

I see the return in the mirror when I smile.

I find myself in a very happy spot. Doing the things I want to do. Hiking, learning Spanish, writing stories, performing improv comedy, eating dinner with my flatmates, writing a book, biking in the rain, running in day, exploring when I can.

I’m happy. And this is a feeling I could get used to.
This is a fantasy, I get to call my life.

Fulfilling the Dream

I left Honolulu, Hawaii both relaxed and anxious at the same time. Honestly, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Honolulu. It was the beautiful island life all tourist sites advertise.

Despite Hawaii’s beauty, looming inside my brain was the knowledge that Tuesday, May 15th at 2:25pm, I would be boarding a plan to move to New Zealand. I was finally doing it. I was going to New Zealand! I was moving out of the country!

I was about to fulfill quite possibly the biggest dream…of my childhood

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First Impressions of New Zealand

I have lived in New Zealand for one month. In no particular order, these are my first impressions thus far…

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