I’m Proud of You

When was the last time you heard the words, “I’m proud of you?”

If you’re like me, you’ve heard plenty of “Nice job”, “Good one”, and “That’s cool!” Though those are great encouragements to hear, they don’t carry the same weight as someone saying “I’m proud of you.” When someone takes the time to say what you’ve done brings them great pride, it’s quite heartwarming.

For many people, the last time they heard the words “I’m proud of you” came when they were a child. In fact, children most likely hear that phrase all the time. 

When they potty for the first time by themselves, “I’m proud of you!”

When they draw within the lines, “I’m proud of you!”

When they get an A on their homework, “I’m proud of you!”

It’s not any less genuine when we tell children, nor is it uncomfortable when we tell them that truth. Yet commonly when we tell people as an adult, “I’m proud of you” comes out as a joke. 

The last time you spoke this phrase to someone else did you didn’t say it sarcastically? I know I did! I have a habit of only saying it in my sarcastic voice as a joke to the person I’m congratulating for what was likely a menial task.  

If I’m honest, the last time I remember saying it to someone seriously was about four or five years ago. I distinctly remember what happened when I said it. I felt so awkward. 

They had just completed a fundraiser at a local school which raised bunches of money. For what, I don’t exactly remember. When I attended the fundraiser as a way to support my friend, I was genuinely surprised by how large the function was. The turnout was high, the donations were higher. Everything went smoothly. 

Everything went according to my friend’s plan. 

I was thoroughly impressed with the classiness and organization of the entire fundraiser! Yet, throughout the whole event, I didn’t tell my friend I was proud of her work. Oh, sure I said, “This is cool,” and, “Wow, what an event!” But nothing to tell her I took pride in her and in her work. 

I waited until I left. I got into my car and started driving back to my place. On the way, I started thinking about the brevity of what my friend did. I thought about how much time she took out of her life volunteering to put everything together and the money she raised! 

I was genuinely proud of her. 

At that moment, I called her. There was no answer, which made it a relief for me. I left a voice message that said something along the lines of, “Hey, the event you put on tonight, was really cool. I don’t know if I can say this, but I’m proud of you. You put in the work and it came out excellently!”

I’m not sure why it felt so awkward to say that. I’m not even certain why I felt as if I didn’t have permission to say it either. In fact, I’m not sure why I had to take a deep breath just to muster the courage to say it on a voice message. 

I don’t think I say it genuinely enough to people. I also know I don’t hear it enough. 

In fact, I remember one of the few times I heard it in my adolescence, I responded with disdain. “Why?” I felt like I had done nothing worthy of pride. I didn’t feel as though I deserved recognition for my efforts. I felt unaccepting of this person’s pride for me. 

I guess that’s the thing about being worthy and deserving, they’re not feelings, they are things you are. Whether you “feel” worthy or not, you are. You are. 

Not hearing a lot of compliments growing up, I became an adult that was quite averse to receiving any type of praise. “I’m not good with receiving compliments,” I’d say to people when they attempted to give me one. If I didn’t believe I earned the praise, then in my mind, it shouldn’t be said. However, I’ve learned to change and to accept the praise, even if I don’t feel I deserve it. 

When a friend recently told me they were proud of me, I was happy to accept it. 

They too felt like it was awkward saying it and we are close enough that they told me it was awkward to say! With a chuckle, we discussed why it might be that we feel awkward went confessing pride for others. 

However, let me tell you, their words were not wasted. Even though I haven’t heard someone tell me genuinely they were proud of me in so long, I didn’t worry about if I had earned it or not. I wasn’t concerned with whether or not I had finished the task they were proud of me for; I simply was grateful. 

Grateful, that someone took time out of their day, to look at what I’ve done and recognize it as good; to take pride in what I was in the middle of, even if my actions would never affect them directly.

I think this is a part of the reason why we don’t tell each other “I’m proud of you,” too often. We’re caught up measuring our own success and searching for our achievements, we forget that every person around us is doing the same. We don’t recognize the growth around us because we’re likely comparing it to our own, hoping that we’re on top. People are going at their own pace and finding success in their own way, whether we recognize it or not.

I like to think that when we’re spreading good to one another, it’s taking a break from ourselves to recognize the work of another human. Maybe they’ve grown in maturity since you’ve first met them or perhaps you noticed they’ve found a nice flow to live their life. Or perchance, they’ve found their passion and are relentlessly chasing it. For others, I’m sure their ability to resist some temptations is reason enough to have pride in them. 

Whatever you’re currently working on, going through, or just finished your ‘thing’, let me to you, I’m proud of you. 

Persistence Leads Your Forward

Sometimes, I’m amazed at where persistence leads some individuals.

It’s absurd that we think that people just happen upon certain destinations or places in life. As if they lucked their way into where they are. We are more likely to believe in random good fortune bringing them there, rather than persistence and hard work paying off.

From time to time, I think of musicians, especially young ones.

Each day, I listen to my niece and nephew play the same songs over and over again. Though they play the same songs each day. To be frank, it doesn’t always sound good. Some days it sounds rushed. Other days it sounds like they’re just prolonging it because they are not paying attention to where they are in their music sheet. Yet, when the time comes for their test with their teacher or recital in front of so many people their performance sounds like actual music!

I’m impressed each time they play something and it sounds perfect.

Honestly, I am not sure why I’m impressed. Seriously, I see them play every single day. It makes no sense why I should be impressed at their end result. If they played once a week or month, then performed amazingly, then I should be impressed. Instead, each day, they’re playing these songs. Over and over again. I should expect their persistence to bring a great job in the end. 

They don’t always want to be persistent. That is most certain. Sometimes they pretend like they don’t know what they’re playing. Other times, they’ll go very slowly because they’re not paying attention to the sheet music and just lost in their imagination. Sometimes, they play at their parent’s persistence. Which is so key!

It is not always our persistence thank pushes us forward, at times its the persistence of others that pulls us forward.

Think of all the people that go to the gym alone. They work hard towards their goals, and when they persist, they achieve them. Now, think of all the people who go to the gym and get a trainer. They gain persistence, from someone keeping them accountable. That persistence helps them achieve their goal. Persistence is like that. 

This reminds me of a conversation I had with my sister. I asked her if 10 years ago she foresaw herself being where she is today. Without skipping a beat she plainly said, “Yes.”

I was caught off guard and surprised by her response. Most people cannot predict the future, so I wondered how she could so confidently see herself in this position of life 10 years before it happened.

“How can you say that so matter of factly?” I asked.

“I set goals and I work on them.” She responded in yet another matter-of-fact way.

I’ll admit, between the two of us, she is more straight to the point than I. I have the more flowery speech. After some nudging, she gave an explanation of her thought process.

“I saw myself here because this is where I want to be. I set out a path for myself, my marriage, and my family years ago. I agreed with my husband on where we wanted to be, what we wanted to be doing, and set the goals to get there. I am not surprised we’re here because we were persistent on each and every one of them.”

Wowzers!

In more than one way, she has a point. Like I shouldn’t be surprised about my niece and nephew getting better at playing the piano, she should not be surprised at the result of her persistent goal setting.

I don’t think any of us should ever be surprised at the result of someone’s persistence. The place we are all in is from some sort of previous persistence.

The student persistently studying isn’t surprised when they earn good grades. A thief isn’t surprised when they are arrested, they persistently pursued that which wasn’t theirs. The person who takes time to learn about their family and spends time with them isn’t surprised that they are close to their family.

For my personal life, I shouldn’t be surprised that I am understanding more Spanish when I practice everyday. I shouldn’t be surprised when my podcast gains more listeners when I’m constantly posting it online for people to see. 

I also shouldn’t be surprised of my knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe when I sit down and watch movie after movie twice or even three times. 

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be posting my goals for the year. Goals that I believe will take me places.

Goals that will take me to places I want, if I am persistent with them.

Live From A Van: Jay, Van Life & a Chess Board

Chess is one of the greatest games in existence. It’s so popular, there are movies about it, books teaching how to play, and strategies for life created from it. 

Chess also brings people together. Or at least, that’s what Jay used to meet new people. 

Traveling around is a lot of fun. Its great to learn from different cultures, have conversations with people, or even play a game with a stranger. You can even record a podcast with a stranger who becomes a friend by the end of the recording. (Wink, wink)

Jay and I met while living in Christchurch, New Zealand. At one point, he decided to buy a van travel around the country. No stranger to traveling around different countries, Jay was setting on a new adventure, starting with building the interior of the van he would live in. 

In this episode, Jay talks about what its like to travel around meeting people, and the time he traveled with a chess board and played people all around. 

This episode introduces a new segment at the end! Stay tuned for special travel tips 🙂 

 

You can listen on Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Anchor.fm

2021 Phrase of the Year

I am not going to make you wait until the end to know what the phrase is. My phrase of the year is “search for the opportunity.”

Allow me to explain.

I studied business at Azusa Pacific University. Four years of (mostly) overpriced classes as I soaked in as much information as I possibly could! Though I don’t remember every lesson taught to me in those years, I do remember this one: Somebody is making money.  

Hot off the US depression of 2008, my business professor attempted to wake the young minds by letting them know that there was money to be made; a fact that all business students were happy to know. At any given moment there was always somebody who was making money. Doesn’t matter if it’s high season, low season, or not even in season. There is a person out there, making money. It may not be the same person each time, but they exist and they are making it work. 

I think about this proverbial person a lot. 

Who are they? How did they get there? What are they doing now? Did they know they were the ones that would be making the money? When did their moment come and end? How did it end? Does it have to end?
These are just the start of my questions. Most importantly, my question is, how did they know to recognize the opportunity?

It’s difficult for me to think the person who is making money is the type of person sitting idle at home watching television or meddling in the affairs of others. I imagine this is the kind of person who is antsy to make some sort of move. They were the ones itching for a renovation of any sort. They are the people who started expanding into the unknown hoping to step onto any type of footing. 

These people were searching for opportunities from their very beginning.

I learned another lesson at Azusa Pacific’s School of Business. This one came from the mouth of my Information Technology professor. During my senior year, he told me, and the rest of the class, “you’re studying for jobs that exist. You should be studying for jobs that don’t exist.” 

Thanks for telling me after I invested all my money (and future money) into this education. 

Though I don’t recall his name, I remember his reasoning behind the strange phrase. The next innovation is just around the corner and will come before we know it. Whether it’s financial, technological, or social it’s already started and will change the entire market soon. There’s nothing we can do to stop it. New jobs will sprout from it; an entire workforce will be dedicated to this innovation. Yet, not a single person in this classroom is equipped for it. Even the jobs we are preparing for could be obsolete by this innovation. 

In simpler words: change is coming. The point he wanted to drive into each of us, was to be prepared for such change. Be prepared for this unexpected event. We might not know how it affects us until it does. What he wanted us to understand is that we cannot sit thinking we’re fine simply doing what we’re currently doing. No, not if we’re going to be the ones leading our industry. Not if we’re going to be the ones making a difference. 

We need to be the ones searching for the opportunity. 

Thus far, I find this post to be most encouraging for those of the entrepreneurial mindset. So allow me to write another lesson given to me. 

While attending Azusa Pacific University (yes, a third mention. I’ve been hit with the nostalgia bug recently), I blew off a meeting with a Biblical Studies professor and friend, Bobby Duke. I mentioned to him I wasn’t attending a mutual friend’s funeral because I was dealing with the death of my brother. I believe I responded with the words “I have a strange relationship with death right now.” My brother’s passing was plenty of years before my university days, but being in college, the same age he was when he passed, brought new mental struggles I had yet to face. Professor Duke responded to me with openness and honesty about his experience with death while attending university and offered to take some time to sit down and chat with me. He told me a piece of his story and ended with words similar to mine, “you could say I have a strange relationship with death too. Want to talk about it?”

Though I needed the help, I skipped the opportunity. 

A friend made an offer for me to move in with him. In many ways, it was what I didn’t know I needed in my life: To live in a house with artists, to make a solid group of guy friends (something I didn’t have many of at the time), and centrally located on campus. It was a very cool opportunity for a young college Michael! Instead, I chose to live on a different campus, one which was in the mountains and allowed me to attend my classes in the open air of Yosemite.

It set me on a notably different path, a different opportunity. 

I had a very busy friend who played sports and was very involved with our school. She had one night off and chose to spend it with me. We had so much fun getting frozen yogurt, walking around our city, and watching the sunrise on top of our university’s cafeteria. This was a girl I was very romantically interested in at the time. But, due to my lack of confidence in that stage of life, I made no romantic move. Honestly, after all the time spent together, I was still unsure if she was even into me. Nevertheless, the clock hit 8 am, and we walked down from our rooftop view. She asked me to meet her at a school event in an hour, giving us time to go home get changed, and return to each other. I said yes. 

Walking back to my place, I convinced myself that this was my moment. No one spends all that time together and asks for more time with them without being interested in them…right? I went back to my apartment, very sleepy. I got dressed in five minutes and decided to lay down for a moment. I told my roommate to wake me up if my alarm didn’t in a half hour. 

Spoiler alert: neither my alarm nor roommate woke me. I missed the opportunity. 

Opportunities come in different forms. The first one would’ve helped a younger me struggling heavily with depression and in mourning from the death of the person who named me. The second seemed like a perfect alignment of a good year of uni. That’s not to say the year I had was poor, but it was drastically different, making an alternate impact on my life. I’m not certain if the girl and I would have enjoyed our version of happily ever after, but I know I didn’t get a chance with her like that ever again. 

Opportunities come and go every day. Some of them are like icebergs; they seem small on top, but they have a huge foundation that will change you. Others are a simple difference between how you’ll enjoy your time over the next hour, day, or year. 

There are many which are pretty easy to seize. They’re right in front of us, yet we make a bone head decision and miss out. Temporary comfort can lull us away from the opportunity we want. 

Some opportunities will be freeing for us. It may happen in a therapy session, over a cup of coffee, or these days during a Zoom meeting. Either way, these opportunities come with open honesty and letting out our truth. These are the ones that may be the most important; they deal with personal growth.
Don’t skip these opportunities. 

Despite all that happened in 2020, still there were people making money, changing their lives, growing in themselves, educating their minds, and taking leaps of faith. I had my fair share of these opportunities in 2020 showing some fluffy passion. However, 2021 is different. I’m making it my goal, my mantra, my focus; my phrase of the year!

This year I am going to search for opportunities and take them. As we rebuild the world, I’ll continue to build myself. I won’t allow myself to sit idly and for an opportunity to come to me. I will search for it and seize every moment of it. 

So, my phrase of the year, join me, please, as I believe it will make a difference in you too:

2021: Search for the Opportunity

Live From Onehunga: John & How to Challenge, Strengthen Beliefs

While attending a church in Auckland, New Zealand, I met John Nash. 

John is a solid legend. He is young, works under the son, is married and has a handsome new baby boy. Oh, and for fun, he studies philosophy and theology. For these reasons and more. John quickly became one of my favorite people to talk with.  It also helps that he is a guy who is always down to grab a cuppa or a pint. 

Over the course of our friendship, we had plenty of meetups to chat about the various ongoings of our lives. Near the beginning of our hangouts, one of these pint nights stuck with me. 

Just after meeting up, we stopped at a bookstore adjacent to our spot. John told me about his desire to learn the opposite of what he’d be taught. In fact, he searched for it. John believed that there’s no way he could be right about every single thing, right? So why not listen to the other side of his beliefs. 

So John walked in and said to the book store worker, “I am a conservative, straight, white male. Could you please give me something written by someone is the opposite of me?”

BOLD

John has a knack for challenging himself. He knows not people have truths to teach him, just as much as he has truths to share. He uses this challenging of self to expand and strengthen his beliefs. 

In an era where people would choose to stick to their communities of thought, John makes a point of it to search for the different. Not everything he learns changes his beliefs, but he does become a more understanding person as well as a more confident person. 

I am so happy to chat with John about this idea of challenging himself, his new role as a pastor, and his recommendations for others. 

This episode is found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and right on this link. 

Enjoy! 

2020: My Phrase of the Year in Review

For those of you who followed my blog at the beginning of the year I announced my phrase of the year, which is linked below.

Because, obviously all of you remember it, let’s say it together, with charisma: SHOW ME SOME (FLUFFY) PASSION!

It was quite a good one if you ask me. 

As this year is coming to a close, I figure it’s time to review my phrase and how I applied it throughout the year. However, this year wasn’t quite like other years. So…

Like much of the world, I spent plenty of time in lockdown doing my part to save my little piece of the world by staying at home. Of course, like many others I spent a lot of that time with my good friend, Netflix. The selection of shows on New Zealand Netflix is pretty good! 

If Netflix was my passion, I followed it down every genre they offer.
Thankfully, I have more passions than Netflix.

Other things I did while the world was in timeout include creating a photography studio. Studio KBC, as I like to call it, started because of a flood. After a series of hard rainy days in Christchurch, the room I was living in with five other individuals began to flood. Eek! 

As I helped empty bag after bag out of the room, we were all grateful to see nothing of consequence was ruined by the water. When we took out the carpeted tile pieces on the ground, I began to see how empty the room was. Then I noticed the room was quite long as well. This triggered an idea for me. 

You see, a month or two before this, I called, emailed, and stopped by a local photographers office for a job. It was a studio gig that I was excited about purely because the idea of working in a studio is an experience I lack. Despite my persistence, I didn’t get the position. 

Ultimately, in a phone conversation the photographer told me my photos lack creativity. 

And I took that personally! 

As I stood in the empty wet room, I thought to myself, this is my studio. The water was drained, but no one was allowed to live in there any longer. I took the opportunity to find all the black sheets and blankets in the hostel. Then I found all the clips and I wasn’t offered the job in the studio, but I was going to make my own. 

Creativity is my passion. I was definitely on track here.

Oh, I didn’t stop there. During the six weeks, I emailed about 300 different companies, yes, 300, asking them if they were in need of a photographer. You know how many decided to hire me? Guess!

Zero. Literally None. 

Did that deter me? No. Alright, maybe a little, but I’m a resilient person. 

Turns out, the hostel I was living in enjoyed the pictures I posted on my personal instagram and offered me an opportunity to do the same for them. The owner then introduced me to other companies who needed a photographer and web designer for their company. I showed myself some fluffy passion, and became a travel photographer. Something that was only a dream for such a long time. 

My vocation as a photographer is a passion and I followed through on it.

I didn’t only have passion in my professional life. I showed some passion in my spiritual life as well. Previous to the pandemic, I attended a great little church in Christchurch. They were a giving church, always trying to help the people in their city. I loved it. 

However, someone else told me about a church called Majestic. I searched for them on instagram. Cuz bruh, its 2020, and that’s a new standard for me when looking at churches. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find some of the most creative content I’ve seen in New Zealand. Not just for a church or organization, but just in general. Whoever does it for them there, does a fantastic job. I also saw that they were going to have Erwin McManus as a guest speaker. Mr. McManus is the pastor of Mosaic church in Hollywood that I listen to very often. After seeing that, you could call me a fish, because I was hooked! 

I sincerely apologize for that pun. It was bad, very bad. 

When I arrived I met artists. Plenty of them. Photographers, dancers, performers. I was in a haven for children who wanted to explore hip hop, young people who wanted to sing, and adults who wanted to create murals. It was amazing to see a church be so creatively forward. It was almost like the catholic churches of hundreds of years ago. The ones with major stain glass and sculpture work, except in a modern society.

My faith is my passion. So yes, I showed my passion there too.

I only found this church because I pursued my passion. The commitment to the pursuit of it showed me something new in multiple areas of my life. That’s what following a passion does.

Passion leads you to the unexpected.
Passion shows you what you didn’t know existed.
Passion takes you where you didn’t know you needed to be. 

In a year where so many things have happened, none of which went as we may have expected, I was able to thrive in this pursuit. I showed plenty of fluffy passion this year. Though, if I’m honest, I feel like I could have shown more passion on some days. However, I’m happy with that which I’ve shown. 

I can move into 2021 more confident in my ability to show passion than I was a year ago. 

Now…time to think of a new phrase. 

I’m Back in the US!…Now what?

It’s December 1st as I start to write this. I’m in Sacramento, California and just a few short months ago, I did not expect to be here. 

Coincidentally, I mentioned to my sister in January that it would be very cool to be with the family this year for the Christmas holiday. You see, because of jobs, traveling, and moving to another state, I physically been with my whole family on Christmas Day in eight years. 

That’s quite the streak if you ask me. 

In that discussion with my sister, I spoke while I was celebrating a birthday on a hike in Wanaka, New Zealand. I knew that in late October of this year, both my brother in law and sister would be celebrating their 40th. (Happy belated birthday!) Our father would be celebrating his 60th in mid December. (Happy early birthday dad). And finally, my 30th would come mid January. 

To me, spending a portion of December celebrating all of those birthdays and a Christmas seemed like the perfect combination! I spoke that idea thinking that I would have a job by then that would pay me enough to afford a round trip flight to California. 

However, plans changed!

Less than two months later, I was enclosed with 27 of the best people to be stuck with during a global pandemic. Stunningly, I didn’t know a single one of them more than a month before we spent lockdown together. Yet somehow, it was perfectly splendid. 

Once the locked ended in New Zealand, I started working. Putting my talents to work for various companies, I was taking my photography to anyone who would look at it. A local wine bar said yes to hosting an exhibition for my art! I found my way into a conversation with a member of the board of directors at the Art’s Centre in Christchurch. After the discussion, we agreed to photography studio operated by me. A studio of my own! What a dream come true.

However, plans changed.

Once I found out I needed to leave New Zealand, it was less than 12 hours that I had a fully fleshed out plan about leaving the country. It didn’t come easily. I spent plenty of time thinking and feeling the stress of booking a flight quickly. I received two potential offers for sponsorship on a working visa and therefore staying in New Zealand. But, just like I mentioned, earlier in the year I spoke my desire to be with my family this holiday. I had a feeling that I would need to be here. My sister was having a baby, and I would very much like to be present for that. 

The idea was come stay with my family through the holidays, then head back to my home in Denver for my birthday. I would search continuously for a job in Alaska, because my next adventure is to be the Pan American Highway, something I’ve spoken about with friends previously. 

However…plans changed.

Now, as I mentioned, I find myself sitting in my sister’s living room in South Sacramento, fully intent on staying in the area until summer; much longer than my original plan. I’ve started a job as a studio photographer. It’s not my studio, but it’s a studio nonetheless! I’m excited. 

I was fortunate to spend Thanksgiving with my family. Within a few days, I’ll be spending my first Christmas with the same loved ones. As I mentioned, it’s the first time since 2012. I don’t know if Santa brings presents at my age. Nevertheless, I’m excited.

As you know by now, I have The Live From Podcast which debuted last week! It’s thrilling for me to create something fresh and new. It’s one thing I didn’t find myself committing to until a friend said, “What are you waiting for, hit the record button now.” Truthfully, I’m excited.

 

So, to answer the question ‘what IS next?’ Well, right now, to be honest, the answer is both simple and complex, simultaneously. Part of the answer is I don’t fully know. The other part is I’m going to live out the plan I spoke out in January.

Right now, I’m going to be right here.

I had some great things going for me in New Zealand. However, things changed, as they do. Now, I have some different great things going for me in California. 

But I still have my eye on that Pan American Highway…

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.