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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!

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!

Road Trip: Intro pt 2 & Denver Sessions: Robb

In this episode of my blog, I get to mix two of my favorite things: friends and road trips!

These interviews have been so much fun to do! In this episode, I talk about the epic road trip across New Zealand I’m on and I discuss road trips with one of my very good friends.

Feel free to watch and enjoy! 🙂

New Zealand: Auckland Coast to Coast Trail

Here’s a fun fact: it rains a lot in New Zealand. More than I expected, that’s for sure. I’ve only been present for the winter and spring, so it makes sense. But the sunny days have been a bit sparse.

Recently, on one of the sunny days, I was able to do this trail I found on the All Trails app. Going from one side of the country to the other is no small feat! But it is a small country, so that helped a bit too. 🙂

Take a look at my most recent adventure!

 

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.

Dreams are Hard

If I’m being honest with you, this is a lot harder than I thought it would be.

People told me to pursue my dreams! They didn’t tell me it would be difficult to start them.
People told me that I’m going to have so much fun chasing this desire! They didn’t tell me how hard it is to stop yourself from turning back.
People say they admired my journey and wish they could do the same. In a short time, I’ve learn to respond with, “It’s not easy.”

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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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A Child’s Dream

What did you dream about when you were a child? Was it about getting a pony? Becoming an astronaut? Or perhaps to build the largest lego castle ever!?

I had those dreams growing up too. Those, and a few more most children don’t have.

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