What would you do today? – Practicing Simplicity

I woke up this morning and after my normal routine of yoga, breakfast and coffee, I sat down and happened to read  7 LESSONS FROM A YEAR ON THE ROAD a blog written by Brian and Shannon a couple who have been traveling since 2010.  This blog revolves around a couple who basically got fed up with the daily grind and decided to hit the road.  Of course there is more to it than that but once they got started the travel bug stuck and they just kept going and going.  It’s an awesome blog about how they did it with tips on how you can also make that break.   http://EverywhereOnce.com

Within minutes of reading this blog I ironically happened upon a quote from Positive Atmosphere a facebook page with a quote of the day that read, What would you do today?… If you really weren’t afraid?… If you weren’t worried?… If you weren’t unsure?… What would you do today if you knew you couldn’t fail?…”

I began to think about my own version of “A year on the road” which began for me in about 1984 and continues today.  My version was in no way organized, there was no planning and I cannot actually give tips on how to make this lifestyle work for anyone.  Mine was just an ideology formed from reading high-adventure books, watching movies about people who lived amazing and worldly lives without fear, or possibly because of fear, and listening to stories from a variety of people who had already REALLY experienced so many parts of the world because they faced their fears and played like NIKE and Just did it!  Not to mention a few lucky events that propelled me into this current life.

So at 16 I joined the Navy, began a career of traveling around bits and pieces of the United States and the world, eventually got married had kids, got divorced, put myself through university, taught English in Korea and landed my current job which actually pays me to travel the world.  AWESOME!!!  Like my very short description of Brian and Shannon’s blog, with me there was more to it than that as well.

Yes, I was inspired by all the books, movies, and worldly friends I had.  Yes, I always dreamed of a life of high-end travel and adventure. Yes, I wanted to let go and just live out those dreams.  However, little things always seemed to get in the way.  Little things like, immaturity, fear, lack of money, lack of focus, lack of motivation, raising children… well a lot of little things got in the way.  Lucky for me some very random events propelled me into action.  Lucky for me I took these random events and moved instead of just sitting still.

My first lucky event began on the day I decided to live.  I debated talking about this initial catalyst as it was a very personal event that to be quite honest is nobody’s business.  However, it WAS possibly the most important event in my history leading me towards my current life.  I don’t want to minimize what happened because at the time I really felt that ending everything was what I wanted to do. There were many motivations behind that decision that today seem quite ridiculous but in the moment the emotions were real.  I was 17 years old.  I remember distinctly gathering up pills, writing good-bye notes, taking the pills and waiting for someone to come down to my bedroom and find me.  No one came.  I laid there and realized that no one was going to come and at that point I had to make a decision.  I am here today so obviously I made a decision to live.  My decision to live was a permanent decision.  I have never looked back and have never regretted that decision.  For me deciding to live involved facing one of my biggest fears. LIFE. Most decisions since then have been pretty darn easy.

Of course that decision alone did not bring me to my life today.  I still got caught up in all the same things that most young people get into.  Material things, money problems, limitations on time and imagination, marriage, children different life goals and on and on goes the list.

The next lucky events that catapulted me into my current lifestyle involved  having been told more than one time that I might potentially have cancer and would need a second opinion to rule it out.  The 3rd time doctors told me this I didn’t believe it was true but I sat myself down and had a good, long, hard look at my life and decided I was not doing something right.  I made a decision to forge ahead in life, simplify and start living out some of my dreams.  I got a divorce, put myself through college and raised two lovely daughters.  During those years of financial struggle I sucked in my fear, minimized worry, simplified my life and began to enjoy the U.S. by car and train.  I began to truly appreciate some of the most amazing aspects of parenting and life in general.

For many years I worked no more than 17 hours a week (by choice) and for most of the past 20 years made between $8,000 and $17,000 ANNUALLY.  Some people were shocked that I could do it (and do it so well) while others said they were envious of my ability to give up so much.  My sister actually conducted a study on poverty based on my life and financial situation at the time.  No one asked me how I felt about the sacrifices I made and honestly the only sacrifice I felt I was making involved earning less money and having more time which to me was not a sacrifice.  Thanks to Steve Jobs for reminding us…“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.”

There were other lucky events that taught me to lose fear, worry less and enjoy the simple and amazing things in life.  For instance having my entire house robbed two times in 6 months when my kids were in elementary school, losing most of my worldly possessions to sea damage during shipping most recently and moving about 15 times in less than 20 years all led me to realize that the material things in life didn’t hold a lot of value.  It’s actually easier, cheaper and more fun to travel light.

The final leap to my present life involved being fed up with my current job. I was teaching English in Korea at a University making less than the equivalent of $1,200 a month and living in a one room studio.  Yes, one room.  I had 3 plates, 3 spoons, knives and forks.  None of my own furniture and not a lot else.  The economy in the U.S. had hit a very low spot.  However the failing economy didn’t really bother me too much and had almost no effect on my life because I didn’t have a much to begin with.

At any rate I was still struggling paying off any of my U.S. bills and so decided I should probably apply for work back in the U.S.  Some considered my timing  awful as the terrible downturn in the economy had resulted in not a lot of job opportunity.  I decided to throw caution to the wind and apply for this government job I had read about that involved being paid to travel the world and live nicely in other countries.  With no money in my bank, limited credit card limits I flew from Korea to Japan to take a computerized exam.  There were no guarantees for a job.  I was mocked by many as wasting my limited resources and time.  Over two years I spent more money and time on the random and unlikely possibility of obtaining gainful employment in this job that fit my childhood dreams of travel and adventure.

Several people asked me, “Aren’t you afraid you have wasted time and money and you won’t even get this job?”  In truth I was happy where I was and I had given up being afraid of going for ANY opportunities many years earlier.  I loved my life and was just checking out random ideas and opportunities.  The point is, I was enjoying my life during this two year period the same as I had enjoyed my life for many years.  The job was awesome but it wasn’t my end goal.  My end goal was simply to continue to enjoy my life and attempt to appreciate all the amazing things the world had to offer.  This lack of worry and fear might actually be what helped me land the job, but more important it IS what has helped me to continually pursue a better life for myself as well as for my kids.

I don’t have a playbook and I can’t give advice on what anyone else should do I just know what I did and how I got here.  Every time I was over-loaded, stressed out or desperate I would go back to my own 3 simple, easy to follow rules.

1.  Breathe in.    2.  Breathe out.    3.  Repeat.

“Most of life is on-the-job training. Some of the most important things can only be learned in the process of doing them. You do something and you get feedback — about what works and what doesn’t. If you don’t do anything for fear of doing it wrong, poorly, or badly, you never get any feedback, and therefore you never get to improve. -Jack Canfield

Aside from world and national travel, good food and good wine, humor is my favorite pastime.  I love ironic and even sarcastic humor because to me they are based in reality.  I find humor in so many things.  I especially find a bit of humor in how complicated so many people make so many things.  How annoyed people get with the little things.  Like how slow computers are or how long we have to wait to get places or how long it takes to heat up a cup of coffee.

Life is quite simple and quite amazing if you can let go of some of your little set-backs.  If you really look at life as a whole it is not that difficult.  According to Louis CK  “Everything is amazing and nobody is happy”  This is a great clip from an insightful man about how crazy and spoiled and mixed up WE make everything.

Photo Montage of what choosing life, practicing simplicity and living my life as fearlessly as possible has given to me.

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