Posts tagged Self Improvement

Life Lessons Learned By Almost Dying

[dropcap]BAM![/dropcap] Dead. It happened that quick. Well, at least it can happen that quick. Today I was nearly run over by a car. Had I been riding my bike just a little faster and had I not braked last minute, I could have been roadkill. After my heart stopped racing and I regained my composure, I began to think about what that meant. And it seems like I’ve learned some life lessons by almost dying today.

I’m guilty of getting caught up in the everyday grind of things when not backpacking through some exotic countries outside of the United States. Though my goal is always the same thing — to save up money for traveling, the daily grind becomes a normal cycle. Working, commuting, dining out, morning coffees, nightly drinks. You get the point.

Even after I moved to Australia a few months back so I could work abroad and save up more money for my next big trip, it’s become somewhat of a stale affair. Don’t get me wrong, Melbourne is a phenomenal city to live in and there are always exciting things to do — but it’s still a major city that I am working in to save money. I’m having a fun time living in a new city and exploring the uniqueness that is Melbourne. But I’m still waiting tables instead of hiking mountains. I did ask for this though. After somehow surviving the Rickshaw Run madness, and after getting so ill in India that I lost 20lbs, I needed a place to recover my body and bank account.

That doesn’t mean living life to the fullest has to stop when you settle down for a few months from adventuring.

You never should stop living each day to the fullest. As I will tell you, something bad can happen in a flash.

I was biking to one of the 5 days of work per week. It was just a normal day like any other has been while living in Melbourne. I woke up and ate breakfast. I took the familiar bike path along the Yarra, admiring a single beautiful black swan that was coasting along with the current. Maybe that was some sort of omen. Everything was as it had been lately. Normal. I came to the freeway crossing and had the green bicycle telling me it was safe to cross, and I biked across to the island in the middle. As I was crossing the median, the bike crossing light began to blink red. But I was midway across already, biking off the median when the light began to blink.

And that is when I was nearly run over.

Just as I was about to hit the 4th lane of the freeway and onto the other side, I noticed all the other cars coming to a slow stop since they obviously had a red light, but not one car. Since I make it a point to be aware of my surroundings, I noticed that one car not slowing down. I thought he would, but he was still going fast, and just as I was hitting the fourth lane I braked and slid. He zipped past me, not even slowing down, straight through a red light which would have been a wreck had there been cars crossing as well. When he sped past me and I braked last minute, the car was less than a foot away from my front bike tire. I could feel the wind on my face.

Once on the sidewalk, I paused and took a deep breath. So much was racing through my head, but I couldn’t be late to work. So I kept on cycling. For the entire day I was frazzled, and I couldn’t stop thinking about that close call. I finished the day, went back home, slept, and went back to work the next day.

But I haven’t been able to kick that feeling. I had a near death experience in a major city that is known to be quite safe, and caters to bicyclist. And though I’ve always been one to express how anything can happen to you at any moment in whatever city in the world, sometimes a close call like this brings it back up.

It makes you realize that you haven’t been taking advantage of life.

That’s why I’m sharing this today, because everyone should know that it isn’t out there in the big and bad and mysterious world that something bad can happen to you — it can be in a city at home while inside your “comfort zone“.

Yes, I have gotten sick a few times while traveling, like in India recently, or when I got a stomach infection during Songkran in Thailand. There has been occasions where I felt as though I would die on some of the sketchier modes of transport in countries like riding in the insane charter buses in India. Usually though, I feel a sense of safety and calm while traveling, because I am more aware and alert and on my feet. But also, I’m actually doing things — not just lulled into a repetition like a “safe” and “normal” life does to you.

Life lessons learned by almost dying. Image of Bungy jumping in Taupo New Zealand.

Everybody told me not to go to Haiti, that Haiti was a dangerous place and I would be killed or kidnapped. After that first trip to Haiti, and shattering all preconceived notions of Haiti while there, I am adamant to tell everyone how much I loved it. And, to make a point, I felt more safe in Haiti then I do walking around at night in Washington DC. That was just the first real realization I’ve had of many that living what some think to be a safe life, thinking that traveling through the world might be inherently more dangerous than working in a cubicle, is completely wrong. Once I thought I would be robbed in Thailand only to come to find out they just wanted to help me.

Life lessons learned by almost dying. Image of myself standing atop a waterfall in Saut D'eau Haiti.

Traveling is no more dangerous than living that idea of a normal life.

This is why, no matter what situation you are in or whatever it is you may be doing; be it working in a cubicle at home or scuba diving in Italy, walking the dog or driving a rickshaw across India — make sure you are doing what you want to do at that very moment. Make sure you aren’t thinking about tomorrow or a week from now or 5 years from now or that retirement in 20 years. Because we never know what tomorrow will bring or if there will even be a tomorrow. We have to stop living in tomorrowland and start living in the now, and even if you have to work that “normal” job for the moment, make sure there is a purpose behind it driven by your dreams and what makes you happy.

Life lessons learned by almost dying. Image of the tattoo Fernweh and waves crashing on a beach below a cliff.

I’ve realized that I was getting too invested in this routine again, and I was lulled into not embracing every second of everyday, so I am going to try daily again to be focusing on my passions and the now. Though I need the waiter job at the moment to save up for future travel plans, that doesn’t mean I can’t be doing something amazing everyday. And more importantly, I can be living everyday instead of existing.

Life lessons learned by almost dying. Image of myself leaping off of a waterfall in New Zealand.


Need some inspiration? Check these posts out!



10 Most Inspirational Life Quotes over my Travel Photos

Everybody needs a little kick in the mojo sometimes. A jolt of energy to get life shocked back into. A dose of pure inspiration from the voices and the pens of travelers, philosophers, dreamers, and doers. Hell, sometimes you just need someone to slap you and shout, “Get off your ass and chase your dreams fool!Get Inspired Here!




Death: My Travel Inspiration

Your life can change in an instant.

Sometimes that phrase is difficult to grasp since we get caught up in our daily lives and don’t realize when things pass us by — for example: life. But just like a lightbulb, it can burn out without a hint of notice, leaving the faintest remnant of that light clinging on to the last minutes of what once was before fizzing out forever.Get Inspired Here!


Your New Year Resolutions are Rubbish – How to Succeed in 2015.

Ooh, those are some fighting words aren’t they? Did that hurt?

It is a touchy subject when somebody takes your New Year resolutions and categorize them as trash.

Except I am right — and by the end of this post I guarantee you and I will be in agreement. Then you’ll be ready t take on 2015 punch for punch.

It’s a sick cycle that happens every year like a skipping record.

Another 365 days are scratched off that paradise calendar; and after drudging through another year of living on this planet in misery, people are in dire need of some something more.

Well, usually the bright light of inspiration that promises a better year than the last is just a gigantic disco ball distracting you with shiny lights.

Oooh Ahhh.

Then just like a broken record your goals may be going smooth, and sooner than later you skip a beat.

Each year goals are set, and each year goals are not accomplished.

The promises made to yourself, the glorious feats you are determined to beat, the changes you decide that need to happen to live a better life; 90% of people will fail. And then it’s brushed aside until the next New Year, and next failed attempt.

Trust me, I’m not saying this to get you down. I just want to slap you in the face a little, because I have done the same thing I’m writing about, and I am damn sick of failure.

Are you sick of failed resolutions?

Pay attention. This is how we are going to get shit done this year.

The issue begins by putting your faith into thinking that promising something on the first day of the year is going to suddenly change your life.

Somehow, the 1st of the year is going to pump you up full of life mojo like Neil Armstrong on steroids, and you are going to blow away every obstacle leaving problems in the dust.


Only YOU can start to change things.

Only YOU can continue the change.

Only YOU can do the work it takes to live your dream.

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
-Maria Robinson

So how the hell do you take on your 2015 goals?

The bottom line is that New Years Resolutions are just a big fat excuse to procrastinate more. I am always hearing, “Oh well, maybe I’ll give it another shot next year…

What kind of crap is that?

Just because you set a personal and you missed a beat, that means you need to wait for another couple hundred days to give it another shot?!

Just stop waisting time.

Quit waiting for that magical date each year, because it’ll come and go each year and you are going to still be sitting around doing the same thing.

A New Day Resolution.

One of the biggest attributing factors in the failures of resolutions is that you bunch up goals into a giant clusterfuck and think about it the terms of the whole year.

If I thought of all the things I need to accomplish before I travel again, I’d lose my freakin’ mind! Pay off debt, buy my Mother’s gravestone, save money for the actual trip, get in shape to bicycle across the United States. The list goes on.

Yeah, it’s a mess; and there is nothing that saps your motivation more than being overwhelmed with tasks. Even typing that gave me a pang of stress.

So go in small steps and work toward a goal each day. Wake up and start realizing each sunrise is a new day, each day you have a breath in your body is a fresh start, and each day is a chance to meet that next goal on the journey to your dream.


Make Daily Resolutions Matter

Nothing is going to put a stop to you momentum more than doing something that isn’t fun and most importantly isn’t something you give a damn about.
Some people want to lose weight, or quit smoking, or buy a new car, or stop eating meat, or get a raise. And they are all bad resolutions.

How will you quit smoking when you are still stressed? How will you get in shape if you aren’t happy? How are you going to be happy if you are still working a shit job you hope to get a raise in to buy that shiny car to fill a void that will temporarily make you happy?

How about you start connecting the dots with the end goal at your life dream?


-I want to Travel
-Believe in working to Live not Living to Work, I know everything I do contributes to my dream.
-Knowing this, I can focus on staying positive
-I work more because I am now not working for nothing or miserable
-I make more money because I work more
-I spend less because I don’t need shiny things anymore
-I pay off my bills because I have more money
-I save up plenty of money because I worked hard and knew it was worth it
-I can now travel!

It’s as easy as that.

And many other travel bloggers can attest to this. How did all of these people break free of their corporate confines? They did it step by step.

Once you map out the steps it will take to accomplish your goals, and as long as your end goal is something you truly want that will make you happy, you don’t need to wait for a New Year.

So this is what I want you to do: Write on a piece of paper “New Years Resolution” and then cross it out. Hell, scribble it out if you are pumped up. Then write down “New Day Resolution” and begin your first step today.

Each day see it as a new chance to create a better ending. Then repeat. 

Here is an inspirational video to watch. You have 84,600 seconds in a day. What if that was money, and it disappeared at midnight? Wouldn’t you try to use every last penny?

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A dwindling travel budget and fear of failure.

Photo May 08, 8 57 50 PM

Something haunts me as the thunder rumbles deep outside. Lightning streaks across the sky every so often, white-washing the rolling grey clouds like the flash of a camera. The pouring rains rat-ta-tat-tats on the rooftop and weeps down the window front — headlights and tail lights from passing traffic shimmer across that waterfall before me, creating a kaleidoscope-like obscura.

Something else, less literal, hangs dark and foreboding above my head. A cloud looms over me, darkening my mood. It is fear. A creeping fear. The type of fear that waits for the right moment to drill into your brain and tighten more and more. Each time it tightens on your mind, it strips away confidence and positive thinking and replaces with the soul-destroying “what ifs” that fester in the darkest parts of your mind.

Things that you subconsciously create to hold you back.

That fear has caused me to gnaw off my fingernails, and to lay awake at night trying to find distraction from swimming in this melancholy the past few days. Struggling to keep my head above the waters so not to drown in despair.

It is the sudden fear of a dwindling budget.

And I am sure many travelers at some point during their journeys finds themselves looking up above to see that darkness following them. That pressure weighing down on you.

When I first left the United States again to embark on this new and exciting road, I knew what mistakes I had made in the past that cut my trip short.

My year-long escape in New Zealand was cut short when I found myself dumbfounded that my bank account showed $25 as my balance. I had completely run out of money without even realizing it and didn’t even have a flight booked home. Luckily I was able to use $20 of that for a bus ticket to a kiwi picking town in the south, as well as charity from family and friends to keep me afloat until I got a paycheck. After a few months of working in a factory 13 hours a day, I had saved up a little money, and with that I decided to return home and reset. Return home to work again for the next adventure.

I vowed never to make that mistake again.

Yet, here I am haunted by that fear. Not because I have $25 left to my name — after nearly 6 months abroad I still have close to half of my original budget. But at the same time I have no income flowing to my bank account.

One of my goals coming to Thailand was to hit the ground running and to teach English here, guaranteeing me an income and prolonging my budget. And, though I have yet to start teaching, I did not abandon that goal fully. In February I took a TEFL/TESOL course and received my English teaching certificate which unlocks many doors and many ways to sustain traveling. But when I received the certificate, the end of the school year was wrapping up. Though I could have searched for teaching opportunities, it was not practical seeing that I would be coming on board a month before school let out.

So I decided to wait.

All the while I watched my budget dip lower and lower.

Seeing red rising.

I have been pretty conscious of my spending each month. The past couple of months I have managed to keep my budget under $30 a day, some days even as low as $10. So I’m not frolicking about throwing around Thai baht like I’m rich, that’s for sure.

Tracking your spending has it’s downsides though. Obviously I don’t want to be oblivious about where my money is going and how I am spending. But tracking every penny that gets used and having no income adding back to your budget is just watching it slowly disappear. Almost like watching the sand in an hourglass trickle down ever so slowly until time is up. Constantly imputing red mark after red mark. And if you let it, and can become and obsession and a fear.

And that is what has happened the past few days.

On my most recent travel newsletter I discussed this sudden fear gripping me — fear that I would run out of money again even though I am not necessarily close to doing so yet. And this feeling seemed to grow in intensity after I decided to temporarily abandon the English teaching goal in favor of my one true goal.

Finally pursuing freelance writing.

My ultimate goal when I left stateside was to find the time I needed — no, to make the time I need — to pursue freelance writing outlets and to focus on furthering my travel blog.

Except the past couple of months while doing my TEFL training and afterward, I barely wrote any articles. I was caught up with the classes or feeling burnt out and lazily lying around my apartment. I realized that, just like back in the United States, I was letting things distract me from focusing on that main goal.

So dived back in head on.

The past couple of weeks I have felt a fury inside of me for writing. It seemed as though I finally found my mojo rejuvenated and the creative juices flowing. I haven’t been able to pull away from the keyboard, and the only thing that really does is when I need to either tinkle or when I start passing out on my laptop. Sometimes food. I’ve slurped down uncountable amounts of coffee. Café dweller could be a nickname, because it hasn’t been uncommon for me to spend 10-14 hours a day writing or scouring the web for freelance opportunities.

And even though I am in a foreign country and spending my days as of late sitting in a café, my mindset is that the hard work will pay off if I keep focusing on the goal and putting forth all of my energy.

But, like the budgeting downside, that also had an opposite effect as well.

The number of emails I have sent out to companies to write for has been in the hundreds. Every freelance travel writing opportunity that has reared its prospective head, I’ve zeroed in on. The problem is, I haven’t received many responses back. And the responses that I have, the companies aren’t actively looking to bring more writers on board.


I knew it wouldn’t be easy. Passionate endeavors rarely are. I know that freelancing is like a war zone and you’ve gotta’ fight for opportunities. Or it is who you know. Yet I was finally giving it my all and receiving nothing back. It was demoralizing. I know I can’t expect instant payoff, but I couldn’t shake it off. And as much as I kept telling myself, “it’ll be fine, just keep pushing” the fear of failure was beginning to take hold.

What if I wasn’t good enough? What if they don’t like my writing? What if I can’t find any work and have to give up? What if I have to return home?

That damned phrase “what if” — something I’ve tried to eradicate from my vocabulary — was suddenly grasping my spirit with a death grip. I was beginning to think that maybe I should just give up the hunt for now and take the “easy” route by teaching. Not that teaching English is remotely easy, but it would almost be a guaranteed gig.

Surely I could teach and write? Well, if I did that then I would be focusing most of my time and energy to something else. Again I would be getting further and further behind on my main goal. I’d be supplementing the fear of failure or running out of money with a guarantee. A safer bet.

It’s a sick cycle.

I had been raised in a family where my father was a conservative and headstrong realist. He knew the hardships of life well, and though I do not know what his pursuit of happiness may have been once upon a time, I know that he ended up taking the guaranteed route. Throughout my childhood and into adulthood, he would constantly tell me when I had a lofty dream that it was nonsense. He would tell me to “get your head out of the clouds“. He would emphasize that it would be too high of a ladder to climb.

I used to despise the way he would crush any dream I had that wasn’t a “normal job“. These days I don’t blame him though. Life was hard and we struggled to get by. Maybe he knew how it felt to pursue a dream and have reality slap him across the face. Possibly he knew the effects of a failed attempt at something different, and he just wanted to protect me from that hurt. Maybe one too many failed attempts at it broke his spirit.

But I didn’t face other fears and other “what if” worries to leave the United States for nothing.

So how the hell do you beat this fear? 

That fear is the reflection of your own ultimate being. When you sit there daydreaming, envisioning this person that you want to be doing all of these spectacular things you want to do, what happens? You see yourself as this unreachable entity that far surpasses the limits you have mentally imposed. Suddenly, fear crawls across your skin and you feel like cowering away from what you saw. Cowering from your own greatness.

As that fear takes hold, you may instantly deem it as some crazy idea or unattainable goal. But what you saw — that is the person you are meant to be. That fear that you experience when you see yourself doing something amazing; a slight tingle in the back of your neck and maybe even causing your heart to beat faster — that is the test. Fear of risks stems from fear of something great inside you. That is the a challenge to your fortitude to see if you want it badly enough to face the fear. The fear of failure. The fear of trying out that wild dream you have, but going into it already telling yourself you won’t make it.

Don’t let fear beat you, because on the other side of that fear, is who you are meant to be. And only you can beat it.

It’s full steam ahead now.

I am tired of constantly beginning to pursue my passion only to allow fear to make me turn back and do something safer. I’m tired of thinking I have to do something else to be able to keep inching toward it. The truth is if I focus on it fully, I can gain much more traction.

Though I have been feeling demoralized lately, by writing about this fear that has been haunting me, it has actually helped refocus my mind.

There was also a good opportunity that came my way from the recent writing blitzkrieg I’ve been on. Opportunities I wouldn’t be able to take advantage of if I was focusing on other things. Hipmunk, a nifty flight booking company, has recently asked me to be one of their “destination experts” to create content for their website. And I am super stoked. Though it won’t pay all of the bills, it is a small start to being able to sustain my travels with my writing.

So I will keep at it.

I will keep working hard and even though that fear will surely creep up on me, I will not let it destroy my confidence. I know my goals and I know my self-worth and I know I can do this. And even with my budget dipping lower, I cannot let that stop me from moving forward. I will not be afraid of failure. Because through trial and error you can fail a thousand times, but if you keep at it, eventually you will succeed.

You can only be a failure if you quit.

Photo May 07, 7 56 03 PM

What is your greatest fear while traveling? Have you ever felt this way?


Revealing My Travel Plans to My Brother, and the Shocking Conclusion.

It would be an immense understatement if I said the relationship between my brother and I has been a tad bit rocky the past 5 years.

Growing up, we were polar opposites beside just our looks. I would be more prone to frolicking in the woods, building forts, pretending, using my imagination, and that sort. My brother on the other hand was always working. He began working at the age of 13 at a nearby produce stand, and his hobbies included winning trophies in BMX racing or becoming a championship winning lacrosse player.

Throughout our childhood, we fought like all brothers do, and he tormented me like all big brothers are supposed to. But the one thing that bugged me the most was that all of my lofty aspirations; whether by childlike ambition, or by growing up wanting to be a filmmaker, all seemed like nonsense to my father.

Get your damn head out of the clouds!” was a phrase I heard often.

Even though it was never stated, it always seemed as though my father wanted me to be more like my brother. My brother was a spitting image of our Pops, with the same hardworking mindset. He didn’t believe there was any other job worth doing besides a labor job. After a period of not speaking with each other before his death, I succumbed to his pressuring and was inducted into the grind of being a window repair man like him.

And at that time I was content with staying there.

After my father passed away, all I wanted to do was leave. I wanted to run away from it all. It was almost like my grown-up way of pretending it didn’t happen like I did as a little boy to forget about my father abusing my mother. So I packed up and moved out west. Ever since I left, my brother and I have barely had a conversation besides the one or two times a year that we would meet for dinner with my aunt and uncle.

And we never spoke about the day our father died. Ever.

I never really tried to speak to him about it. Hell, I couldn’t bear to visit our father’s grave, and typically lied about doing so. As I chronicled in a recent memoir I wrote, I never wanted to talk to anyone about it that day. I just wanted to forget. In doing so, by bottling it up inside for 5 years, it nearly led to my demise and also forced a bigger rift between the two of us.

Something I wouldn’t realize until recent.

Right before the dinner Friday night I posted an article recapping bits and pieces of the night my brother disowned me for moving to New Zealand. Because I wanted to move abroad for a year he told me I wasn’t his brother, and I was so furious I decided I wasn’t going to try to talk to him anymore. I was going to prove him wrong. Like our father would have, he stepped on my dream with the heel of his boot and attempted to grind it into the ground.

Or so I thought he wanted to crush my dream.

That was one of the biggest and most invisible issues. I was always trying to prove my brother and father wrong. Trying to prove to the world I could be great. I perpetually felt unworthy.

In the past few months while sharing parts of my dark past with you all, and getting some tremendous feedback, I’ve gained a completely new perspective and awareness of myself. I’ve finally faced much of what haunted me nearly leading me to suicide, and however this dinner was going to end up, I had a whole lot to divulge to him.

Would he disown me again like last time? It didn’t matter as much this time.

Obviously I hoped he wouldn’t, but I had no control over his decision. I just had to tell him the truth, and how confident I was this was right for me this time.

So how did I reveal it to him this time?

Well, a whole helluva lot different from New Zealand.

Up until this night, most of our conversations revolved around money. I felt like him and his wife always pestered me about my finances, how irresponsible with money I was, how I should live my life, and how I should get a secure job. I couldn’t stand dinners with them most of the time because I always felt as if they ganged up on me just to make me feel like crap.

So I didn’t mention a damn thing about money this time. It wasn’t something I felt important to talk about.

Instead, I told him everything.

We’ve never talked about when dad died, ever. And I’ve never told you or anyone this. Or even realized it myself until recently. But it fucked me up really bad

I began at the death of our father when everything came crashing down.

The money we received from the house? You know I moved out west, but I never told you that I blew it all on partying.”

I know you did, trust me.” He said.

Well, over the past 5 years I’ve always told you I was fine, and that everything was amazing. All I wanted to do is prove you wrong, and to not end up like Dad in a job that killed him.

Yeah, you were always trying to prove something to me and I was always wondering why the hell you felt like you had to.

I began by brutally dissecting the past 5 years.

I told him how I viewed his decision to sell the house, how I felt at that time, and how I see it all now after re-thinking his motives. I told him about every instance in which I screwed up over the past 5 years, how I blamed someone else, or how I made excuses for my missteps and downfalls. I told him about the times I despised him for selling our house, and how I resented him for being able to just deal with our fathers death.

“I was able to run with it, to just take it all and continue living and doing my best.”

“You ran with it, and I ran away.”

It really gets easy to live a life that is a lie when all you are doing is living for someone else’s expectations and opinions. I never knew my brother didn’t care about things like that, but I felt the urge to make him think I was doing amazing.

You always made everything about money when you talked to us. I didn’t give a damn about how much you were making and what job you were in, but you always started each conversation with how well off you were so we could only talk to you about your finances.”  he said.

In hindsight, I never realized that I did always fire off my current standings of false wealth and false happiness to prove him wrong, leaving that to be the only thing we could talk about.

When you told me you were heading to New Zealand, it was the last straw. Uncle Ken and I knew for the past few years you were going through some shit, and I knew you hadn’t dealt with it and were running away again. So I got fed up and just had to cut you loose. There was nobody that could save you except you.” he said.

During this conversation and in the past few months, I realized how hiding my past and pretending to be somebody I’m not was extremely detrimental to fostering relationships of any kind. I was so caught up in proving everybody wrong that I would let relationships with friends, family, and others fall to the wayside.

I was definitely in a dark place. Very dark. I hit rock bottom and kept falling until I reached an abyss with no light. And it feels good to be aware of that now. I came here tonight to tell you I am tired of trying to prove you wrong, because I have to live for myself and it is the root of my well-being to do so.

I’m proud of you bro.” he said. Words I never thought I’d hear from him.

Words I didn’t care to hear now because I wasn’t trying to make him proud. Funny how that happens right? But I could see his eyes cloudy (though he would never admit to produces wimpy water from his eyes) and I could hear in his voice he was genuine.

Just like writing about my darkest days here on the blog, telling him how I felt all of those years while analyzing my own thoughts has lifted a mountain off of me. Sometimes when you are in a bottomless pit filled with quicksand and pit vipers, you have to pull a MacGyver to get out.

Or sometimes the key is to be honest with yourself and others.

When I told him and his wife about my upcoming trip to Southeast Asia to teach English, their eyes lit up and they smiled.

That sounds like an incredible trip Ryan, I think it’ll be amazing for you and your growth.

Okay, where the hell did my brother go and who replaced him with this Care Bear?

Actually, it finally felt like we were brothers, instead of competitors, for the first time in a long time. And even though some ways my brother dealt with things or treated me aren’t the best ways, I now realize we were both a part of the equation that held back our relationship instead of just blaming him.

I had laid all of my deepest thoughts and feelings on the table that night for the first time ever. I am no longer running away from my past, blaming others for my downfalls, making excuses for pretend greatness, and living for others expectations.

It seems like this is the start to repairing family ties, and opening up the possibilities for me to foster other relationships. I am truly excited to hit the road now and meet new people.

I know I have the potential to be great. I know my own worth. I know my dream. I am living now for me.


Will I be Disowned for my Love of Travel again? Today I tell my Brother I’m Leaving.

If you have followed this blog from the beginning, or if you have read my article about my brother disowning me because I moved to New Zealand for a year, then you will know just how badly this dinner tonight could go.

In a couple of hours I will be meeting with my brother and his wife at a restaurant for the first time in months. I have been trying to meet up with him to break the news that I will be heading to Southeast Asia for at least a year, but all attempts to meet up have been futile.

I last saw him at his birthday where we all went out for drinks with his friends, and after the explosive reaction the last time I revealed my travel plans at a party before New Zealand, you can be damn sure I wasn’t going to with drinks in us that day.

Then, I had a chance to go out to dinner with my uncle, aunt, and my brother and wife. But alas, I couldn’t get off of work that night. Last month my uncle wanted us all to come over before he had back surgery, and I was going to go, but my brother bailed out and I didn’t have a ride. And for the past couple weeks my brother wouldn’t come out because him and his wife had been furloughed.

Ever since I returned home early from New Zealand to surprise my brother on my birthday, we still haven’t seen each other much.

So, as the trip creeps up closer and closer, I’m left with under two weeks to tell him I am leaving for a year or more.

I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t anxious at all. I’ve grown up emotionally in the past few months after writing about and facing a lot of my demons, and I am more confident than ever about my dream to travel the world, yet I know how my brother.

I know last time I told him, he stated over and over again, “You are no longer my brother.

I know for a fact that he thinks it is highly irresponsible of me to travel the world instead of getting a secure job with benefits. He and his wife have always hark on me about saving for a car and for a house and about how important credit scores are.

Well, I can tell you one thing. All of those things listed above have never made me want to save up for it. They have all never created a fierce fire in my heart like travel does. There is no way a car or a house could motivate me to save up the $8,000 I have in the past 5 months, with another $1,500 to come hopefully these last couple weeks.

And I will tell him that.

The difference this time around is that I know why I was traveling before. Of course I loved traveling, but I was still not traveling for myself. I was still traveling to escape my past that haunted me. I was still traveling to prove to my brother that he was wrong. I was still traveling to show the world I would end up in a labor job breaking my back like my father for most of his life just to get by.

I was never truly traveling for me.

Now, I am more confident than ever about this crazy, irresponsible, and overall fulfilling dream. And I am confident this time to tell him, and to accept any reaction he has. After tonight, if he chooses to react the same way and disown me again, there is nothing in this world I can do to change that. Sure, I’ll be heartbroken again to have my brother say such things, but this is my life and my dream, and it is time to live it.

I will try to approach it differently though.

You see, my brother and I have NEVER once talked about my mother and fathers deaths. I have never told my brother how finding my father’s body darkened my soul and was etched into my brain however much I tried to forget it. I’ve never told him about how seeing certain colors brought up flashbacks of that day.

But I will try today.

I am going to try and ask him for just 15 minutes of silence as I talk about the past five years and how truly dark it was.

I will tell him about how I lied to him all of those times about being fine and dandy when I was honestly depressed.

I will tell him about my denial of it all just because I wanted to prove to him and to the world I could be great.

I will tell him of that day when I nearly killed myself because I had locked everything away for so long.

And then I will tell him how I have grown up.

How I am finally talking about our childhood and our parents deaths, accepting it, and how writing has helped me face it.

How this trip is different than all the other trips, because it is now transformational and not supplemental.

How travel gives me purpose and drive to work harder at something than ever.

How I know that he is trying to be the big brother that watches after his little brother after both parents passed away.

How I know the pressure that put on him, and seeing me potentially be reckless is frustrating.

How I was reckless, and drank into oblivion at times because I couldn’t face what happened to us.

And lastly, I will tell him that I love him, and respect his opinion, but that I need to be my own man and I just need him to be my brother and accept me for who I am.

I now believe I can be great, and it is time to pursue greatness for myself. Not somebody else’s measurement of greatness.

And then, after that speech which I am envisioning I will give in epic fashion and grandeur, I will tell him about moving. Hopefully talking about all of the things we haven’t in the past will help him realize just how serious I am about this lifestyle. I am tired of trying to prove my worth by spouting out all of the things like finances that he measures me on, but if he asks I will tell him about teaching English in Thailand. But typically he has no care to ask about my pursuits.

So then I will leave it at that.

And in a few hours time I will have my reaction, and I will tell you how it goes. I will not ask to be wished luck because even though it is a kind gesture, there is no luck that will decided the finale of this night. Just two brothers talking, and two outcomes possible. One outcome will be not talking afterward. Again.


Escape From Tomorrowland: Why You Should Travel TODAY!

So many of us live in Tomorrowland.

Tomorrow is another day.

I’ll do this tomorrow.

I’ll start working towards my dream tomorrow.

Tomorrow is a new beginning.

Well let me just voice my opinion about tomorrow.

Tomorrow does not exist.

Now, I’m not telling you that this is fact by some divine knowledge….

I’m just asking you to toy with this idea. Just think about this for a minute.

Tomorrow is a theory.

Tomorrow is a comfortable assumption that the sun will rise.

Tomorrow is a hope that your heart will keep beating and your eyes will open.

Tomorrow is a a fear that we are not strong enough at this moment to do what it takes to pursue our happiness.

Tomorrow is an excuse. A delay.

And as with the seconds of your life not being guaranteed tomorrow, so is the world as we know it.

There is a place in New Zealand called Cathedral Cove; a massive White Sea cave or arch that has been shaped by the winds, waters, and time.

There is only one now where there used to be many. All have collapsed and disappeared, and this one is disappearing piece by piece everyday.

Like most lush rain forests, stunning waterfalls, awe-inspiring monuments, architectural wonders, breath-taking beaches, unique species of plants, animals, reptiles, insects, and marine creatures — they may not be here after today, because life can change in an instant.

We may hope that we will have the time to do something we’ve always wanted, but that something, whatever it is, may not be there tomorrow.

Because like all theories, tomorrow is tentative.

By definition, “theory” is a belief that can guide behavior. Not a fact.

And that “theory” of tomorrow guides the majority of the world into a self-induced coma, one where we will say, “Tomorrow I’ll wake up early and start getting in shape.”

Or, “Tomorrow I will use my day off and not sit in front of a TV, but start molding my dream into a reality.

Or, “Tomorrow, I’ll quit my job and travel the world.

You know what? When tomorrow arrives and you feel good about still being around for one more day, it gives you enough air of confidence to put everything off until tomorrow once again.

Inside of this sickening cycle you are only living in theory.

You are not truly living.

One can only live that very second his or her heart decides to beat. One beat at a time.

Have you ever had your heart skip a beat? That feeling of shortness of breath, or the pain in your chest. That is the consequence of skipping a beat. It is that moment, life itself, slipping away. But luckily it wasn’t your last heartbeat. This time at least.

Tomorrow is a possibility, but not a guarantee.

Yesterday existed, but no longer does it exist.

Today exists.

This very second exists.


Snap your finger…

…by the time you did that, you’ve already lost a moment, and that is how quick that moment could have been your last.

I ask you, just to consider what the present means, and what tomorrow doesn’t.

So come with me.

Escape from Tomorrowland.

Kick open your cubicle cages.

Rip free from the bondage of corporate chains.

Shatter the glass jars that have trapped your light like a firefly in the summer, and fly into the night to find your place among the stars.

Today awaits.

And with today, your dream awaits. 

“Tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present, since it is in the present and only in the present that you live. There is no other reality than present reality, so that, even if one were to live for endless ages, to live for the future would be to miss the point everlastingly.”

– Alan Watts

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.’ It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

– Steve Jobs

Are you ready to live for today?


The Proclamation to the World of Intent to Live Gnarly

Definiton: Proc-la-ma-tion |ˌpräkləˈmāSHən – a public or official announcement, esp. one dealing with a matter of great importance.

My friends, dreamers, travelers, and warriors of the Live Gnarly Army; today is the day to proclaim your intent to the world. One of great and profound importance, one that encompasses your hopes, dreams, aspirations, and purpose. One that will send shockwaves from your soul, through your body, and out to the world. One that will set forth action for you to start traveling and living that dream.

This proclamation was the end result of my recent memoir about one of the darkest periods of my life that travel helped eventually pull me out of. And as a fierce ending statement, these words below flowed out like a raging river bursting through a dam. I had no forethought, it just came to me.

So I present to you, My Proclamation Of Intent to Live Gnarly. And if you relate, there are blank proclamations below, and I hope you will proclaim your intent to Live Gnarly with me!


Pick your Proclamation, and share it with the world!





The Travel Drug: Potent, with possible Severe Side-effects.


Bloggers tend to paint a picture of constant euphoria, of happiness, of adventure, of the grandest lifestyle that everyone is missing out on. It can be all of those things.

But it isn’t always rainbows, butterflies, and happiness. Actually, rarely is it an “ideal” lifestyle.

It is a lonely road at times, a hard road at times, a sad road at times, and a road to emotions you tried to hide deep down inside.

Travel can be one helluva potent drug, and if used as a supplement for things you aren’t facing in your life, can have very severe and sometimes deadly side-effects.

One thing traveling for the first time to New Zealand taught me was the same thing running away from my hometown after the death of my father taught me. You will be haunted no matter what from these things until you look them straight in the eyes and face them.

And after I returned, my own crash was so severe that I nearly ended my own life in a way, which I am currently forming into a short story when my emotions permit.

But after that crash, and after a serious self-review of my emotional state, my trip to New Zealand revealed to me that I was still hiding from myself, and exposed my issues with self-worthiness like an open wound. A wound I finally realized I needed to heal. Not by ignoring or escaping, but by doing things for myself.

Many people, including myself at one point, think travel can be the end-all-be-all-cure-all for what ails your heart, mind, or life as a whole. From personal experience I tell you it can’t.

What travel can do is give you the solitude needed to see inside yourself, and to begin to realize what you need to do for happiness. It can help you escape the bondage created by our normal lives so you can formulate a lifestyle you want to live.

It made me realize that happiness isn’t in the traveling, but what the traveling provides me: Challenges, knowledge, exposure, hardship, cunning, and all other skills you begin to utilize on an adventure. It presents me with the nakedness needed to realize that I was still trying to live up to some other standard, to show people “I made it!

I have personally struggled with the feeling of inadequacy, the feeling of failure, of desperate moments, of despair, the feeling I had to prove myself to the world and to other people. And ultimately I have even contemplated suicide before. That ultimate and permanent “cure” lies in wait until you are at your weakest point.

And this is exactly the reason why I speak out so much these days about my own parents deaths, about my shattered childhood, and also about the darkness that followed me. That still follows me. I have battled with alcoholism for years, not believing such a creature existed in me like it did in my father.

And I can’t hide from this anymore, because it tears at my soul.

After leaving for a year in New Zealand it showed me that even though I wasn’t running away like before when I moved across the United States, I was still just avoiding the life I didn’t want. I still wasn’t fixing myself, or making myself better, or making myself feel worthy. And that makes the crash from a high even more catastrophic.

New Zealand and traveling did help me realize the most paramount thing: I needed to work on me.

For the first time in my life, through writing and surprisingly in person with other people, I am revealing what pains me deep inside, how I am afraid to cry, afraid to feel, afraid to connect, how desperately I want to succeed because others said I won’t. Problem is, proving yourself to other people is a battle that cannot be won.

I write so much about my turmoil(s) in life because for the first time I am facing it. I hid away emotions, truths, and weaknesses for so long that it came back to haunt me after returning from New Zealand.

Revealing what haunts me brings it out like a raw wound, and then I can see the damage and try to fix myself. I can try to begin to live this dream for myself and not just to show up others.

I think it is EXTREMELY important that if you are going to take on the endeavor of a life of a traveler, you must take it on as just that, an endeavor. Traveling indefinitely is a life choice to do what makes yourself happy, not to become happy by avoiding what is inside yourself. Life is a mean mother fucker, a wicked and cruel gauntlet at times, and just booking a ticket WILL NOT FIX IT.

You must do it for yourself and nobody else, and you must be honest and open with yourself, and then you will be to others. And then it won’t be just a sugarcoat.

You must also know that the initial surge of happiness from the freedom you experience, as well as the intense relationships you develop on the road, will eventually have it’s bad moments. And when the fall happens, you need to reach out to those you love the most. You have to be self-aware, and you have to not hide it.

Even when culture shock smacked me across the face when I arrogantly thought I was immune, the loneliness I felt made me hole myself up for more than a week.

It pains me to read about Anita Mac, a fellow travel blogger and dreamer, taking her life. I know how much it hurt me when my mother committed suicide, and I wish her family the strongest of hearts.

Travel can have dire consequences with anyone. To escape means to typically run away, and to run away means to not face something. And to not face something lets said something grow into an enormous and fierce beast that will come back to ravage your life.

As I write this, I don’t know the full story of Anita and I will never make assumptions about another persons life. But I wish I could have met her, because everybody who mentions her all have beautiful things to say. And I wish someone…anyone…could have discovered her inner turmoil before she fell to the darkness and helped her through it.

I just know the dark moments I’ve been through myself, and how I’ve come to realize that a life on the road needs to be taken seriously. It can be a phenomenal transformation, or an amplifier for hidden emotions. Keep honest with yourself, and tell people when travel isn’t going so rosy.

With Anita’s death, paired with my “travel drug” overdose, I felt this message had to be shared. I’ve realized I must travel to live for myself. I travel to find my own self worth and happiness. I see travel now as the journey, not the destination, and surely not to escape anymore, but to face the world head on. And to face myself.

Feel free to share your own stories of emotional struggles on the road, and how you overcame them. The travel community is a great one, and we should all support each other.