Twenty-nine

To commemorate my 28th birthday, I got my first tattoo – 4 characters on my left wrist – N2L&

The tattoo serves as a reminder that it is “never too late…” to shed fear and be your most authentic self. Today as I embrace 29, I’m proud to reflect on how much I’ve grown. I credit this tattoo as a key first step in a series of big changes this year.

Part 1: The First Domino

The decision to get the tattoo was not an easy one. I had always admired them on others, but committing to something so permanent challenged every fiber of my perfectionism. Yet, I also deeply hated my inaction. Saying you want to do something and not doing it at all is often a worse crime than doing it poorly. So as my 28th birthday approached, I loosely held my very strong belief that it was time to get a tattoo. 

To say everything fell into place is an understatement. I landed in New Zealand with no set plans, but a long list of potential adventures. Miraculously, all the pieces fell into place, and I woke up on my last day in Auckland with only one item left on my list – “Get a tattoo”. 

I walked into a reputable tattoo parlor and asked if they could squeeze a walk-in. A stern man at the counter asked me what I was looking to get. When I told him I wanted 4 small characters on my wrist, it became obvious that I was not a customer he was interested in. My 15-minute request was not marketable art. He sent me on my way. 

To soothe my rejection and figure out a new plan, I stepped into a bright pink, pop-themed coffee shop to grab a coffee. An attractive, but grungy man covered in tattoos and piercings stood out like a sore thumb. His eyes met mine for a brief moment before we both shied away.

Coffee in hand, I headed to check out the plan B option – Black Cat Tattoo. A friendly lady at the front desk asked me how she could help. I explained my request and time-constraints. I only had 3 hours before my 5 pm flight to Queenstown. 

“It looks like we had a last minute cancellation at 1 pm? Does that work?” she asked.

I eagerly took the appointment without further questions. I was overwhelmed by feelings of serendipity.

I came back 15 minutes before my appointment to scan the artwork on the walls and preview the styles of the artists. Most artists had a variety of work that ranged from sweet to hard core – except one – Toby. Toby was just hard core

“Hey, who is doing my tattoo btw?” I asked the same lady who had booked my appointment.

“Let’s see. You’re with Toby today.” she responded. 

Anxiety pushed my heart rate through the roof. Why Toby? Anyoneee but Toby…    

A man walked into the waiting room from the parlor. It was the attractive, grungy man from the coffee shop!  We looked at each other shocked.

“Hi – I’m Toby. Are you Mei?” he asked in disbelief. 

“Yes I am. I saw you earlier at the coffee shop. What a wild coincidence.” I confirmed.

I felt at ease again. The universe works in mysterious ways, and I knew in that moment that I was meant to get my first tattoo from Toby.

I explained to him what I wanted…and I wanted it all. The numbers “2” and “8” to represent my 28th birthday, the “8” to morph into an “&” to represent a story continuing, and the “2” to look like a “Z” so that it could also be read as in “New Zealand”. 

“Oh and if you could light a candle and sing happy birthday while you’re doing it that would be great too” I joked.

Despite the jumbled vision, Toby free-handed an elegant design and placed the stencil on my wrist. I told him the first version was too small. He increased the size. I told him the second version was the right size, but angled off-center. He adjusted it until I was content. We pulled the trigger. I closed my eyes and looked away as the needle pierced my skin.   

I turned to look at the finished design. My mind began to race – It’s too big. It’s not straight when I turn my wrist. I combined too many concepts. It’s impossible to explain in a cohesive way. My insecurities gushed through my armour.

This train of thought continued as I left the tattoo parlor and headed to the airport. I sat in the waiting dock to board and felt a calm presence take over. A deep love for myself emerged. 

I saw myself as a strong woman in control of my destiny. A woman that breaks through self-limiting beliefs and takes risks.

The tattoo was not art. It was not 28, an &, or New Zealand. It had taken on a deeper meaning. 

The tattoo looked perfect to me.

 

Part 2: A Chain of Events

Inspired by newfound confidence, I began to see the world through a lens of abundance. 

When my co-worker and friend Linda casually mentioned that I’d be a good fit for her team, I became hooked on the idea. The opportunity came 6 months earlier than “planned”; however, my new risk-taking appetite craved a bigger challenge. The idea of change felt daunting; afterall,  I had spent my entire career building products for internal audiences. My inner guidance knew building consumer products would give me a larger platform for impact and urged me to take a risk. Fast-forward 5 months – I fought tooth and nail to land a founding PM role on our flagship product team.

Lesson #1: It’s never too late to change your path to purpose. 

Then the pandemic and riots swept the globe. San Francisco was not immune – everything changed in an instant. My beloved office closed. The city shut down and then was pillaged. Cars drove by dropping explosives that sounded like bombs. I felt unsafe to leave my building. 

Yet being in my building was just as miserable. Living on top of a hill made me a slave to online shopping, groceries, and food delivery. The refrigerator failed to keep our groceries cold, and the food expired quickly. Our tiny kitchen made cooking feel like a chore. Building problems became a daily issue – the ceiling crumbled and fell – exposing hazardous asbestos, the shower regurgitated dirty water, and the toilet stopped working. The best part? Paying a pretty SF penny – 5K a month to live in a small 2 bedroom apartment built in the 19th century.

Further, my personal life turned dark. I had no car or means to escape. My circle of friends shrank as many retreated and ran away from the city. Dating lost its spark – physical chemistry could not be replicated digitally. I ran out of Netflix binges and TED talks to keep me satiated. To fill the void, retail therapy and redecorating my room became my drug of choice.

I was clearly miserable; however,  I refused to accept my new reality and held onto hope that things would go back to normal. 

I’ll never forget the night I decided to take action and move to Seattle. The idea of a state tax-free pandemic gap year surrounded by boundless nature enthralled me. I stayed up until 5 am researching everything about the city. My body refused to sleep and woke up again at 7 am – a sign that I was ready to pounce. After a morning walk to socialize my crazy idea with Sarah, we agreed to take the risk and move to Seattle. By 2 pm, we signed a lease for the building we live in today. 

Lesson #2: It’s never too late to turn your greatest pain into the greatest pleasure. 

Seattle has been a therapeutic reset. With logistical challenges no longer consuming my day-to-day, I’ve repurposed my energy towards improving my mental health and resiliency.

One area where I’ve noticed major improvements is how I approach romantic relationships. I have a penchant for acting out of fear and smothering life out of any potential connection. I saw the old habits kick in during the 4th date with someone I felt a strong connection to. I pieced together that he had been seeing other women and began to panic. I confronted him, and he apologized for the timing, but not for the actions. I left the date feeling heartbroken, lost, and confused.

In that moment of pain, I reached for my spiritual salve. Listening to Gabby Bernstein for hours a day became the norm. Her teachings helped me see that I had acted out of irrational fear (we had only known each other for 2 weeks!) and gave me a path to return to love. 

Her solution was simple – surrender the outcome. I began to act out of unwavering trust that the universe would not steer me down the wrong path. He was my assignment. It was time for me to step up and face my assignment or like a broken record – replay my destructive tendencies over and over again. And so I chose to apologize to him for reacting out of fear and instead, re-channeled my focus towards being grateful for the moments of joy as they came. 

A dozen encounters later, we continue to build on our initial connection organically. Spending time with him reminds me of my own completeness. He inspires me to use my gifts on a larger scale and put in the work to make things happen. Our connection is my favorite surprise of 2020. 

Lesson #3: It’s never too late to surrender control and accept spiritual guidance.

I feel immense gratitude for the learnings from this year, and the people who have been my assignments. The path to change is steep and winding, and being pushed to the point of tears is a regular part of the narrative. However, I can attest the pain is worth the prize. Even rejection – examined through a wider lens – is simply love-in-disguise.

At 29, I’m feeling prime – pun intended – to be a beacon for love. The risks I’ve taken this past year have shown me the limits of my resiliency. I feel more ready than ever to conquer the parts unknown. 

Thank you for your support on this journey.

 

(today is the greatest…day of all)

Today is my 28th re-birth day. A noticeable pause in the story of life to catalog a chapter passed and set a thesis for the next one ahead.

Since our last check-in on my 27th birthday when I was feeling on top of the world – new city, new job, new apartment, etc., things have noticeably come back down to reality from the initial high of the honeymoon phase.

I look in the mirror and now see many different compositions. 

 Mirror Lake – @Yosemite

Like layers of metamorphic rock, the differences are not always apparent to the casual observer, but are reflected in the subtle differences in appearance and response to the weathering and erosion acting on the rocks.

Starting on the dating front, I must have gone on an average of 10 dates per month for a solid 5 months in the fall/winter. My first to second date conversion rate was 5% at best. As us PM’s like to say, that’s a steep funnel drop-off. 

 
It’s not always rainbows and butterflies (but sometimes it is) – Vernal Falls @Yosemite 

The first guy I went on a second date with in SF told me that he was so excited about where things were going that he told his mom about me (questionable?). Three days later, he dropped me off to a Saturday morning workout class, and I never heard from him again. 

The second guy I went on a second date with had the nerve to ask me “How the heck I was single?” and when I explained to him things just hadn’t really clicked with anyone, and my longest dating streak in SF was 2 weeks, he responded “Well this will definitely last more than two weeks.” I never heard from him again either sort of. 

Months later, iconically after another lackluster first date, I showed up hungover to Soul Cycle in the morning and to my surprise discovered that it was my 100th ride. The studio had streamers, balloons, and a huge poster with my name on it at check-in. I was stoked to celebrate this milestone. As soon as I strapped in front row, I looked to my left and sure enough, there he was front row as well. Awkward. That’s how small of a city SF really is. 

These were all annoyances compared to the last 4 months – where shit really hit the fan. A weird combination of fate, circumstance, and admittedly, my own extravagant imagination that can only be accurately described as a “divine orchestration” deserving of it’s own chapter in 50 Shades of Mei – a book that I am writing to indulge deeper in the hilarity that is my dating life. 

Yes, YOU reading now probably have your own chapter in this book too. 

 
My version is not quite as creepy, but making a comparison is also not inaccurate – @younetflix

Beyond my dating life, I’ve experienced some roadblocks at work that have shaken me 10x deeper than any man could ever make me feel. I’ve been told by my own leadership that I try to wear “too many hats” – constantly “overstep my roles and responsibilities” and “seem to crave more power”. It blew my mind that all my blood, sweat, and tears to make our projects successful could be interpreted in such an ugly way. This feedback was so deeply hurtful that that I did not show up to work in person for 4 days because the environment triggered in me a thunderstorm of anger, panic attacks, and tears. 

It took a lot of hard conversations to directly address the issue as well as time to heal, and to say I’m fully recovered would be a lie. I don’t think I will ever fully recover, and I don’t want to. There were moments this year that I felt like I died inside – smothered deeper than @karlthefog over the golden gate bridge on a Fogust morning.

  Mist you, long time @ Lands End

Something about that event rekindled a fire in me that I haven’t seen in months. Since then, I’ve been hell bent on investing into continuous learning (learning to code!), connecting deeper with others, and all around proving to myself that I can do anything that I set my mind to.

 
Camp fires are the best fires @ Yosemite

In addition to pushing myself outside my comfort zone, I’ve been leaning into opening my eyes to the good in my life that puts the bad into perspective. These moments of pure joy are significantly less glamorous than my nomadic days requiring more precision to find these pockets of magic in ordinary life.

Each day, my love grows deeper for all the amazing souls that I am fortunate to call my co-workers.  From weekend trips to Portland, Yosemite, or out to the links to spontaneous trips across the pond to Japan, I am grateful to have a crew of people who have made this past year in San Francisco unforgettable. 

  I wanna make it, I wanna make it wit chu (pikachu) @ Osaka, Japan

Consider it an unpopular opinion, but even through all the drama and leadership turnover, I am even more bullish on Coinbase and it’s ability to create mainstream adoption of crypto than I have ever been before.

 
#ask-clem-ama @ CB Portland

I’ve struck an *enviable* balance between work, relationships, and health that many would kill to have. 

I am grateful to be able wake up every morning and squeeze in a Soul Cycle or Core40 class before heading to work. 

I stroll into work between 9 and 10 am every morning energized and make my go-to-breakfast without having to wait a minute in line – a Whole Wheat Bagel from Noah’s with an entire, delightfully ripe avocado cut with a special avocado cutter – v important for safe core removal and optimal avocado coverage – *bless our workplace ops team*.  

When lunch comes around, I take a 2 minute elevator ride to a healthy and creative selection from our salad bar and hot buffet. 

Wine-not? has become a daily question as I grab a glass of wine and yet another free meal while bonding with coworkers in the evening catching up on the week’s happenings (a.k.a the “hot goss”). 

When the day wraps up or when I’ve hit my 3rd glass of wine – which ever comes first – I leave the office and have the evening available to learn something new, meet someone new, do something new, or simply go home and decompress with book and face mask. Let’s be real – the face mask wins 9 times out of 10.

Lastly, I don’t work on weekends. Heavy +1 to that. 

My life doesn’t suck. And more importantly, it gives me 

S-P-A-C-E 

and the means to CREATE my OWN life rather than be consumed by someone else’s.

 
Choosing the life behind door #2 – @Puerto Rico (1 year Remote Year reunion)

So that brings me what I want out of this year as a 28 year old.

What is my mission, vision, strategy? 

What super SF, techy, cliche, borderline douche thing have I not already said? 

tldr; saved the best for last because everyone knows that once you put that at the top of an email, no one reads the rest : )

 

At 28, I want to see the world differently. I want to see what’s actually in front of me, and not what my imagination wants to see. My imagination wants to love and be loved. My imagination wants to escape. My imagination wants time to bring me peace and clarity. The truth is living in the present is so much more fun.

Cheers to capturing one moment at a time and thanks for reading!

April Showers Bring Mei Flowers (after 27 years)

I’m 27, and I like the ring of it.

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Shocking – considering 4 months ago when we last connected in April, I was struggling to get my life together after Remote Year ended. I was bedless, boyless, and broken – stringing together a series of temporary thrills without a solid foundation to make me feel like I could lean in and build a future.

Most people don’t know this, but I was planning on moving to San Francisco before I got into Remote Year. Crazy to think that I spent an entire year traveling to the most exotic corners of the earth and yet nowhere could compare to the “dream” of living in SF. I wanted to be here so badly that I gave up a 20K tax break and 2 months of my RY experience to be on a project in city.

And finally – one morning once the dust had settled, and my (body, soul, imagination) had been simultaneously nourished and destroyed by all my adventures.

SF was my “home”.

And I thought – Yes it’s finally real this time. It’s not “just another stop on my Remote Year”. The best part – I don’t have to talk about the shitty weather or the Bears, Bulls, or Blackhawks to make friends here. I’ll be authentic and meet people just like me – mission-driven, tech-obsessed, active/outdoorsy, most importantly – appreciate that SF is a speck in the universe – the beginning of a grand adventure, rather than the destination.

And I knew it would take time and effort, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be to “make friends and do epic shit” the way I did on Remote Year. I had been spoiled by a year of saying yes and hearing it returned, and the reality is the real world doesn’t operate in the same way.

I’ll never forget taking this picture and feeling so disappointed about choosing to live in San Francisco.

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No Karl, I do not accept this rose – @meinalisasmiles.

  • Get used to being rejected for an initial interview after the JD was written word for word off your own resume.
  • Get used to being rejected on interview round 9 of 9.
  • Get used to running into a lot of dead ends in your love life
  • and a laundry list of other personal disappointments and failures that in retrospect were leaps and bounds in the right direction.

At the time, it was hard to see it from that perspective, and so I decided to do what any *sane* person would do instead – run away to Mexico.

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Classic @meinlisasmiles move. 

Which turned out to be the best decision ever because it sparked the craziest series of events I’ve ever had the fortune of experiencing – coincidence intersected with intention in the most beautiful way – the kind of stuff that makes you believe that there MUST be a God somewhere in the universe and that he/she/it is good.

It’s a story that deserves it’s own post, and so I’ll save it for another day.

Instead, fast-forward to today – April showers bring Mei flowers – specifically:

  • An amazing apartment ❤

Apologies for squealing like a 26 year old fan girl – my 27 year old self.

  • A dream opportunity to work at a crypto startup

cryptokittiememeScreen Shot 2018-08-26 at 10.02.36 PM 

#worththewait

  • The Comfiest (Smart) Bed Ever thanks to @eightsleep, @brooklinen & @cb2

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and a selfish plug that I’m selling my entire closet on Poshmark because it’s doesn’t fit into my “SF basic” dress code…

  • The occasional date or two a week

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It’s casual.

  • Still meeting way too many boys with connections to Boston (which I’m sure will become my 2019 NYE resolution)

boston

Sooo bad, it’s good.

  • And the regularly scheduled programming you’ve come to expect (a.k.a. travel)

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First Batch Party Ever @ Las Vegas, Nevada.

NewYork

Kub Reunion @ NYC, New York.

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Going back to where it began @ Minsk, Belarus.

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Catch me if you can @ Moscow, Russia.

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Grand Finale @ St. Petersburg, Russia.

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Channeling my inner “Cool” Mom @ Miami Beach, Florida.

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And celebrating forever love @ Chicago, Illinois.

You know what my favorite part of about reflecting back on this year of 26 is? The fact that I created a list of 26 things I wanted to do when I was 26 and only “accomplished” 30% of it.

Why am I so excited?

I am thrilled because I didn’t take a more is more attitude to this year. I focused on quality and not quantity.  In January this year, I made a personal, “secret list” of life changes that matter and would be a part of a life that I considered epic – “8 or above” out of ten, and I am proud to say I’ve “accomplished” all but the last item on this list:

  • Magically appearing in Medellin/Cartagena/Bogota (miracle) – check
  • Making it to Austin for my dad’s birthday in February (also a miracle) – check
  • Going to the Master’s Golf Tournament (an even greater miracle) – check
  • Traveling a lot for work/fun and visiting #tramily on the way – check
  • Moving to San Francisco – check
  • Earning 50% more income in 2018 than 2017 (the greatest miracle of them all) – check
  • Going to the World Cup in Russia with one of my best friends – check
  • Seeing one of my best friends get married – check
  • Studying for the GMAT and going to business school full-time – work in progress / pending (the fact that I love life too much right now!)

And by “accomplished”, I mean deliberately chose not check boxes and instead focus on things that were important while simultaneously, being blessed by a lot of rejection, patience, and ultimately opportunity.

Driving over fears that make us feel that we’re not enough.

@tommisch (so excited to see him play in October!)

Lastly, inspired lately (in all aspects) that less is so much more. Setting intentions and leaving plenty of room for chaos, adventure, and growth. Things I want to focus on at 27:

  • Equal balance between work (33%), health/self (33%), and relationships (33%)
  • Self-education on Blockchain, Venture Capital, and Entrepreneurship
  • Partnering with @sarahskatz on SheDisrupts

And that’s all she wrote…because that’s all that mattered.

Thanks for listening!

xoxo,

Meina

 

Thoughts about Life After Remote Year

Thoughts from my head in the ☁️ about
Life After Remote Year

Dear L.A.R.Y.,

It’s been 3 months. I want to give you all my love like Alabama Shakes. But I can’t…

And it’s not because I’m playing the comparison game. Traveling the world was a once-in-a-lifetime experience – meant to be experienced once in a lifetime. Round 2 could never compare to the magic of the original. I have no desire to rinse and repeat.

Why so serious (not Joker-ing?)

My career is at a crossroads. I’m sort of homeless (albeit “used to it”). I met a boy I like but to follow his dreams means moving any day now.

Universe, can you throw a girl a bone?

*crickets*
No? That’s how life works…oh right.
(you are exactly where you are meant to be)

It’s frustrating because I see the potential for you and me. You are all of my wildest dreams rolled into one beautiful disaster – so close I can taste you, but so far I wonder…

Do you love me back?

(put my heart in a blender, watch it spin around into a beautiful oblivion)

Or

Are you trying to find yourself too?

Ready to take a risk and walk to the beat of your own heart…like the rest of this city #SFHustles.

Every day I desperately crave to DO SOMETHING, MAKE IT HAPPEN, CLOSE THE DEAL, MAKE A CHOICEit’s eating me alive – but I need to be patient and trust the universe.

Accept that my purpose right now is to WOMAN-UP – own my worth, explore my options, and not to commit – without CLEAR reciprocation.

Apply to 40 jobs. (It’s not that bad)

Date 40 boys. (It’s not that bad)

See 40 apartments. (It’s not that bad)

Live on a couch. (It’s not that bad)

Maybe being HYPER SELF AWARE and setting the bar HIGHER is the only path to once-in-a-lifetime outcomes.

(re: currently writing this on a plane on my way to the Masters – a much needed reminder that my life doesn’t suck.)

Just because you have SO MUCH to give the world doesn’t mean you should. How are you spending that precious time and energy and with Who?

Let’s both take a look in the mirror and accept that you and I just need to take…things…slow…

Just because I don’t love you now doesn’t mean I never will.

Best,
Meina

 

On Turning 26

It’s crazy to think about what a difference a year makes. Last year, I was so work-oriented and out-of-the-loop socially that when I got scheduled to hostess on my birthday, I didn’t even try to find a replacement because at least working would guarantee that I would have friends to spend my birthday with.

Don’t get me wrong. I had a great day. The highlight of which was dominating a disco/rock themed Soul Cycle class with one of my favorite instructors and brunching afterwards with Becca Buell.

In the evening after hostessing, I had nothing planned. In an attempt to be semi-social, I ended up going to a random party one of the analysts at my company was hosting. I can’t remember why many of my closest friends were out of town. All I remember is the feeling of staleness that came over me that day.

To all the clueless men out there, here’s a tip. When a woman wants to “change” her hair, it’s not because she wants to “look” different, it’s because she wants to “feel” different. Cutting hair is about getting rid of all the negative energy and emotional baggage. Coloring hair is about bringing in more positive energy and feeling renewed. If she keeps the same hairstyle, it’s because she likes you 😉

So in an effort to mix things up, a week later I purchased clip-in bangs from Amazon to test drive how bangs would look on me.

IMG_6079

Two weeks later, I decided that bangs wouldn’t provide enough bang so I died by hair blonde.

(See -> Hair = Metaphor for life)

To be expected, it wasn’t enough. I mean you can only do so much to your physical appearance before your forced to face that you need more than a change in hairstyle. You need a big change in lifestyle.

Where to start when you feel lost? 

Get even more lost…

The easiest way to figure out what you want in life is to do a whole lot of what you don’t to do. Whether that be because it’s not your “thing” or your not “ready”, getting out of your comfort zone allows you discover, accept, and own who you are and what makes you happy.

And so even though I never imagined or wanted to travel before the age of 30, I joined a cult of traveling gypsies and the rest is history.

I want to take this time to appreciate what being 25 will forever mean to me and thank all the people who made it so memorable!

Here are my favorite 25 things that I did for the first time when I was 25:

1) I visited (not just passed through) 23 new international countries, 44 new international cities, 48 total new cities.

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Travel day with the #tramily is my favorite. Thank you to everyone for being the best human beans 😉 Special shoutout to @lbacks for turning it up on the way to Lisbon. That was the best travel day ever.

2) I took spin classes in 9 countries @ 14 studios, 25 total classes, 5 different languages. #SpinAroundTheWorld.

Spin

Thanks to @stephnieman for inspiring me to #spinaroundtheworld just like you you did.

3) I adopted a plant-based lifestyle for 30 days straight. Loving the PT-Vegan lifestyle now.

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Thanks to Kara Mossesso for being my muse and inspiration! You’ve changed a lot of lives! My (one) happy place in Phnom Penh – Backyard Cafe

4) I jumped out of a plane.

21442818_10155951400297345_449377126_nCorrection: We jumped out of a plane…Thanks @jerks_inc for organizing the ultimate #tramily #trustfall.

5) I got my scuba diving certification. 

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Despite hating every second of the process. Thanks Zoe Weiner for being the best buddy check ever and keeping me alive.

6) I ziplined through a rainforest.

skytrex

Thanks @sonofasimp for making a sweet video so I can remember the day forever.

Thanks to our city team in KL for planning the track event!

7) I stayed up until the sun rose @ the Full Moon Party > Caught a flight, ferry, flight, transport to other airport, flight, flight to get to Australia on the same day.

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Thanks to a whole bunch of people who helped me orchestrate that day.

@paullymcman for being a sober and driving me on the back of his scooter to drop off my bag at the hotel that was 5 mins from the ferry the night before.

@vee_loney for leaving the party with me in the AM when everyone else wanted to keep partying.

@zoeweinerrr & @jrahj for making sure I got on the first ferry and waking me up when it docked to Koh Samui 30 mins later.

8) I had some #Level3Fun in strange places – Melbourne, a Serbian night club, etc.

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Thanks to those involved. You know who you are.

9) I rode on a motorcycle. Walked into a parked motorcycle and got a second-degree burn.

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Thanks to Emily Van Os & @kmo_onthegogo for the professional medical advice.

Thanks to Jason George for letting me borrow with no intent of returning your bandaids and expired Neosporin.

Thanks to the 10 sadistic people that appreciated that I got a second degree burn. I love you all dearly.

10) I went on my first solo trip. Ok the intention was there.

Thanks to @linseypeterson & @tanwithme for being #travelcouplegoals.

Thanks to @tanwithme for being the best night shift buddy in Split & Belgrade. I cherish our deep, quality conversations and can’t thank you enough for letting me have @chadwohlers room that night I was locked out of my apartment at 3 am.

Thanks to @drewbreon for letting me hang with the cool kids during your birthday week. I’ll always remember your advice to keep going with RY that last day we spent together exploring London.

Thanks to @jide901 for being super cool when I ate one of your last two bananas in Prague. 

11) I swam in an infiniti pool.

infinity.jpg

Thanks to @drewbreon for taking pro-quality pics of me by the pool @ The Hanging Gardens of Bali. 

Thanks to the whole crew (Matt F, Pauly, Drew, Tan, and that random girl who came solo from Georgia) for a memorable side trip.

12) I did a professional photo shoot.

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Thanks to Cari Hill for making me feel beautiful. This is a very very small sample of our shoot, but I highly recommend going to her site to see more of her work!

13) I dined in the Dark, in the Sky, and in all White.

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Thank you @floppyhatadventures for capturing this moment and being an awesome friend. I’ll forever remember our rooftop sunrise adventures in Phnom Penh – robe and all.

Thank you Tue Le for planning the Dinner en Blanc! It was one of my favorite memories from HCMC!

14) I napped on the world’s steepest incline among other weird places.

Thanks @zoeweinerrr, @quesarito, @superninjafishy, @allofasuttonnn, @delneromia, @free_mason_20 for being the best napping buddies a girl could ask for.

15) I slept on a boat overnight.

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Thanks to @simonfoxe, @michael.morelli13, @delneromia, @rustygirlaroundtheworld for being the best flat mates/cuddlebuds (intentional or unintentional) a girl could ever dream of.

Special shout out to @djtinat for the anti-nausea pills. I couldn’t have made it through the experience without you.

16) I rode in a sea plane.

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Thanks @nowbecomingthen0 for letting me crash your romantic Maldives trip. We had an epic #girlymoon!

17) I junked and felt like junk after.

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This is us going out the night before the junk, before we felt like junk the next day. Thanks @lbacks for being the best Hong Kong partner in crime. There was no bar, no bun, no boat, no boy, no burger, no b-trampoline we left unconquered that weekend!

18) I got 4 certifications for work in 6 days.

Thanks @brandoncrowfeather for inspiring me to come to London and thus, getting the SIM card that allowed me to pass the third certification.

Thanks @zoeweinerrr & @jrahj for letting me use your spare room in Prague. Without your ironing board and awkward shallow cubby shelves, I’m not sure I could’ve gotten the right angle to be allowed to take my fourth exam.

19) I went to a punk rock music festival, 2 international music festivals, and two concerts solo.

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Day 1 @NosAlive was by far my favorite!

I have a serious Glass Animals obsession thanks to @brandoncrowfeather.

Thank you @christina.thelin, @kmo_onthegogo, @carinaroundtheglobe, Jason G, and Emily V for being the an amazing pre-game crew!

Special shoutout to @christina.thelin for taking the best selfies of anyone I know!

20) I kayaked…My first time was in Ha Long Bay – I’m spoiled!

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Thanks @floppyhatadventures for being my kayaking buddy. We were definitely the slowest rowers in the group, but we had the best beats and the most fun!

21) I played Laura Croft for two days at Angkor Wat…or Gigi Hadid…because I hadid take over 300 photos that day with my Texas babes.

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Thanks @theadav for all our heart to hearts on Australian men and daily travel lessons from the @purposeful_traveler.

Thanks @allisonbrookeahr for being the best mom ever and teaching me how to pose and be persistent to get the perfect picture. V important life lessons.

22) I went surfing for the first time in Sydney. Played “surfer” the second time around in Lisbon.

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Thanks @zoeweinerrr for ALL the memories in Australia. From Visa blunders in Phnom Penh > Surfing with Steve, petting koalas, bondi to coogee walking, wanderlusting, and going out in Sydney > getting Naked with Satan, Tindering, and wining in Melbourne, you’ve been the best friend a girl could ask for. Love you long time!

23) I paddleboarded for the first time…for 3 hours…on accident.

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Thanks @nicky_fran for pulling me to shore and then carrying my paddleboard.

Thanks @free_mason_20 for being a really cool dude and musician. Call your Grandma please ^ thanks!

24) I took trips internationally with my main squeezes. 

Thanks @xtinetuinenga for being spontaneous and always up for having fun. We had some good heart to hearts in Barcelona, Ibiza, and Formentara!

Thanks @beckawbuell for meeting me in Thailand to explore Chang Mai, Railay Beach, Ao Nang, and Bangkok. You were my rock during night shift those final weeks!

Thanks @sarahskatz for flying to meet me Month 1 in Toyko, Kuala Lumpur, and Vietnam and then in Month 5 in Barcelona, Ibiza, and Formentara! You have always been by my side through thick and thin, and I appreciate and love you for the caring person you are. I am so lucky to call you my bestie!

25) LAST BUT NOT LEAST – I LEARNED HOW TO RIDE A BIKE!

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Thanks to @jerks_inc & @chmccracken for teaching me how to ride a bike. I used to think the person who taught me how to ride a bike would be my future hubby, but I don’t think I’ll be marrying either of you. Again, thanks for teaching me how to ride a bike.

That went from #0to100 real quick, real quick.

I think this year has proven more than any other two things:

  1. That how you spend your days is how you spend your life. Live every day (even rest days!) with urgency, intention, and commitment to whatever you need to become your best self and amazing things will come to fruition.
  2. You can’t do epic shit with basic people (cred: Rebecca Thompson)…or by yourself! As you can see, I had a lot of help from my friends in making this year my best year ever!

And so with that, I’d like to also take the time to think about what I want being 26 to mean. I think the overarching theme is discovering adventure by going deeper. After all, you can only live this #snack life for so long before all you want is a proper meal.

Here are 26 things I want to do when I’m 26:

  1. Finish Remote Year and qualify for the Citizens Program.
  2. Teach a spin class.
  3. Visit a national park in the US.
  4. Go to Burning Man,and/or Coachella, and/or Octoberfest.
  5. Cook 26 Vegan Recipes.
  6. Go on 26 dates.
  7. Bedazzle/Paint vintage jackets & purses and sell them on Etsy.
  8. Take 26 Yoga Classes
  9. Run 26.1 miles in foreign country in 1 day. I think they call these things marathons.
  10. Write 26 blog posts.
  11. Practice golf 26 times.
  12. Get a tattoo.
  13. Learn to drive stick.
  14. Invest in Crytocurrency,
  15. Splurge and have a meal at one of the world’s best restaurants (Alinea or French Laundry)
  16. Volunteer for at least 26 hours.
  17. Read/Listen to 26 books.
  18. Be an invited guest to a wedding!
  19. Meditate for 5 min, 26 days in a row.
  20. Join the Mile High Club
  21. Ride on a camel in the desert
  22. Ride in a hot air balloon.
  23. Watch 26 movies.
  24. Go Camping – I’ll try anything once…
  25. Go to a Broadway Play, Ballet, or the Opera
  26. Visit atleast 26 new cities (maybe even countries). Here’s a rough outline of potential cities/countries – feel free to let me know if you want to plan a trip together!
    1. Poland – Warsaw – done
    2. Netherlands – Amsterdam, Rotterdam – done
    3. Belgium – Brussels – done
    4. Denmark – Copenhagen – done
    5. Sweden – Stockholm – done
    6. Finland – Helsinki – booked
    7. Switzerland – Zurich – booked
    8. UAE – Dubai – booked
    9. India – Bangalore – booked
    10. Sri Lanka  – (not sure which cities yet) – booked
    11. NZ – Auckland – booked
    12. Argentina – Buenos Aires, Cordoba – booked
    13. Chile – Santiago – booked
    14. Peru, Lima – booked, Cuzco – open
    15. Uruguay – (not sure which cities yet) – open
    16. Colombia – (not sure which cities yet) – open
    17. Brazil – Rio – open
    18. Iceland (not sure which cities yet) – See the northern lights – open
    19. South Africa – Cape Town – open
    20. Morroco – open
    21. Egypt – open
    22. Belize – open
    23. Cuba – open
    24. The Bahamas – open
    25. Turks & Caicos – open
    26. Jamaica – open
    27. Senegal – open
    28. Egypt – open
    29. Other (In countries I’ve already been to)
      1. Vancouver  – open
      2. Nashville – open
      3. Albuquerque – open
      4. Miami – open
      5. Reno – open
      6. Montreal – open
      7. Montana (not sure which cities yet)  – open
      8. Alaska – open
      9. Napa Valley (Cali wine country) – open

In conclusion – Thanks to everyone in my life. Each of you has made a significant impact in helping me “find myself”, and I am forever grateful to call you my friends. I am excited to see what 26 brings!

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Thanks @jay_dred for capturing all these special moments throughout this year! i.e. This picture of us at the top of the hike for my birthday 🙂

Thanks @nick_lanspa for the best comment on a picture ever – @jrahj taking a picture of @zoeweinerrr from the top of the Rila Mountains #boyfriendsofinstagram

 

 

 

I’ve contemplated quitting Remote Year almost every day for the first 6 months #SpoilerAlert #IWillSurvive

They tell you this journey will be full of ups and downs – that is an understatement.

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I get that I’m not your average bear, but I think that my fellow remotes can attest that this “lifestyle” is an emotional roller coaster.

As you can see, the first 2 weeks were a huge high – the honeymoon phase. Night shift was tough, but somewhat novel and edgy. I was so happy absorbing the new experiences and doing #allthethings that I didn’t mind not sleeping – yes 0 sleeps – 4 nights out of the first 10 days. That did not come without consequences. One of my first encounters with the entire “tramily” was during town hall which I proceeded to take a beauty nap through the entire presentation while the program leaders were presenting.

Hi, Nice to finally meet you in person…I’m Mei and I’m a professional napper. 

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In my expert opinion, I believe the group napping technique is how do the young kids say -on point.

First weekend – $13 round-trip flight to Penang? Count me in!

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The famous Sister Curry Mee – pigs blood soup – eaten at 10 am with @adescalso.

Second weekend – Balling out in Bali…Is this real life?

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@paullymcman – Are you ever coming back? I miss your Aussie face and awkward references to motorboats.

By the third week, I was starting to feel the alcohol, travel lag, night shifts, and work guilt build up, but I already had made plans to meet my friend in Japan. We had a blast none-the-less, but it was hard to keep my energy up.

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Throwback to the best meal of my life to date. $35 Omakase @ Sushi Dai. Worth the 4 hour wait…and doing twice!

When I got back to KL, I was dying to  be a normal person and do nothing except sleep, work out, and work.

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Not sleeping, working out, or working. Dinning in the Sky – Kuala Lumpur.

PRO-TIP: Don’t have your friends visit the last week in any city because you will be exhausted. Have your friends visit the first week so you can knock out all the things.

When we transitioned to HCMC, the next morning I left for Mui Ne. My friend and I had made plans weeks in advance to go visit and at the time, the last thing on earth I felt like doing was going to another beach and sightseeing for 3 days. In retrospect, it turned out to be one of the best side trips – crashing a Vietnamese Wedding will be an experience I will never regret.

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I wrote a note to myself that weekend (word-for-word below) which I chose not to publish. –

I’ve been in the dark as of late, going and going, but I’m starting to feel again and here’s what my heart has to say.

Something’s not right here. I am the journey of a lifetime traveling to by every definition the word “paradise” with 60 other people who I love like family and who have adopted me back – seeing all the wonders of the world, tasting authenticity in every bite, hearing stories passed down for centuries, smelling all the aromas of earth, wind, fire, and water, feeling warm and delightful, being treated like royalty, laughing harder than I have ever laughed in my entire life, and more than anything else – loving this community that we’ve built on this journey. Yet I’ve been feeling something’s not right here. 

I’ve been feeling down and the marginal pleasure of Doing All the Things has been rapidly declining and the marginal cost to my health and mental sanity has been slowly increasing. 

So this is to be expected. This is normal to “burn out”. You knew this would happen, and you need to know when to say no.

I proceed to pay to book all 3 extra tracks events and a $350 side trip to Ha Long Bay because I can’t say no. I reminded that I have no self control.

I’m addicted to the unknown. 

So then, I consider maybe it’s Guilt that I’m not doing enough for my career. Letting time slip away without a strategic plan to set the foundation for next year when I’m back. 

Maybe if I put some intention back into my work, I’d feel better. So I spent some time journalling my goals and how to achieve them and tried to put my heart back into work yesterday. 

I found no new revelations, and I am doing exactly what I need to do. In fact, work felt like I was working to work rather than to create – which is totally against everything I believe in. So I shut off my laptop at 1 am and proceeded to get some rest. 

Like most of us on this trip, I am reminded that I wouldn’t have chosen to be here if I hadn’t thoroughly considered the impact to my career already. I’m defaulting to the easy excuse for why I am feeling unsettled.

I spend 1 hr researching hair salons that specialize in bayalage in HCMC. My heart is beating at a million beats per minute. Why am I so nervous? – it’s just hair and it grows back. I realize that I’ve been feeling extra happy to doing first-world, materialistic things that can be done anywhere in the world –

  1. Going to Flycycle
  2. Getting a Keratin Hair treatment 
  3. Shopping
  4. Running 1.5 miles on a treadmill in the gym in our apartment

Hmm. I thought doing this travel thing was supposed to make you value experiences and not things? Kidding. I do value the experiences; however, I am anxious about someone from a completely different culture imparting a significant change to my identity. Where do we draw the line?

So what I’ve landed on this whole situation is that we all have demons in our past that choose to come out to play when we make ourselves vulnerable to new experiences.

I’ve only shared this with 2 people in my life. Not even my closest friends “officially” know. I’m a recover(ed/ing) (anorexic/orthorexic/bulimic/normal person). The sad part is – my closest friends will probably say they are not surprised and/or don’t even consider how I think about food/my body or eat disordered. When you look into the mirror and you see yourself back – normal begins to take a twisted shape.

Paired with the fact that exercise and healthy foods have been challenging to commit to among all the exotic, once-in-a-lifetime decisions we are faced with every day. I feel I’ve lost a big 

All-in-all a story for another day. Just feeling like a bit of a shadow of myself at the moment…

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Another “outline” for a “I’m Struggling” Blog Post I wrote near the end of Asia, but never followed through with.  –

Let’s play a game.

Guess who will leave next?

So far we’ve had 

This is now the second time

Spurred by being close to work friends

How? Social Media X Reality Y

Option 1

Option 2

Deadline

Every hour it changes

Either way work hard and hustle until then 

Mentally I’m in the US

FIN

I tried to “abort the mission” the first week we got to Serbia. My MD wouldn’t let me. He told me that if he were me, he would finish what he started.

(I literally work for the best company ever…and yes we’re hiring 😉 )

Was I living everyone else’s dream? How long could I keep this going?

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Your moment will run out
‘Cause of your sex chromosome
I know it’s so messed up how our society all thinks (for sure)

What you waiting for? Take a chance you … @ Guinness Brewery – Dublin

The funny thing is 6 months in and I think 35% of our group has dropped out, but

Guys, I really think I’m going to make it.

On July 25th, Something clicked. Like running a marathon and hitting mile 13.1.

Maybe jumping out of a plane rearranged the molecular structure of my brain, and now I feel like every moment left is precious. 

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Maybe I’m choosing to accept love instead of making decisions out of fear.

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What-if I get fired?

What-if I regret spending this much money on travel when this year is over?

Um…

What if I’m ruining the present by being so afraid of things that may or may not happen?

What if I chose to embrace every experience as if it was my first (and/or last)?

Because I know that day isn’t so far away, when we’ll wake up in the morning and realize our #tramily has spread it’s wings and parted ways.

And we’ll wish we had loved more deeply.

Instead of focusing on the little gremlins in our minds…

To my #KUBLOVERS&FRIENDS: Happy 6 months! #ILYSM

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Meina > Waldo.

 

 

How to Spend 5 days in the Maldives when You’re Single

It’s true – the Maldives are stunning.

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…even when you have poor photography skills.

It’s true – It only cost me $200 of flights to get here and back to Belgrade (thanks Chase Rewards!) and an unavoidable $500 seaplane transfer. All the accommodations were free for 5 days thanks to my sugar momma Cari.

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Beach & Pool pictures per the request of my favorite diva – @allisonbrookeahr

It’s true – seaplanes are really cool, until you land and remember how easily you get sea sick…

It’s true – everyone keeps staring at me and my friend wondering if we’re lesbians because why else would we be in the Maldives?

It’s true – that if you just spent over 15 days in Thailand island hopping, no sum of money would be enough to make you want to go snorkel, scuba dive, or kayak.

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It’s true – that means you end up watching 50 Shades of Grey and Finding Dory in the same 24 hour span because that’s what you do on a #girlymoon.

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It’s true – that those pictures and videos of us outside that we posted to social media were about an hour of trip, and the rest of the time we’ve stayed indoors because it’s tsunami season. Do your research!

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It’s true – that IDGAF because the whole point of being here is to do what I’m doing now – reflecting, reprioritizing, and catching up on REALITY.

It’s true – that we’ve talked about boys from last week, last month, last year. Yes, that means you.

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It’s true – that we’ve talked about accepting (cherishing) that life would be just as, if not more beautiful if we ended up single forever because we refused to settle for people that didn’t make our hearts sing.

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Caption: Who needs a  when #overalls are so much more versatile?

It’s true – our hearts will break none-the-less, and we may be tempted to use social media or Tinder as a distraction. We learn to look within instead for validation.

The Rule: Swipe Right if you see a Remote.

It’s true – that I’ve stuffed my face and chugged champagne at the free breakfast buffet every morning – although today I admitted defeat and only had 1 mimosa + 2 plates of food instead of 4 mimosas + 4 plates of food.

It’s true – that we’ve made fun of the CHEEKY couple that stockpiles 6+ glasses of champagne at their table every morning.

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It’s true – that I’m working on my Aussie lingo – I’m not KEEN to eat, but it’s free,  I feel GUTTED after breakfast, and abbreviating words and adding a “-O” to everything. “I’ve got a Pres-o due this Av-o” (I’ve got a presentation due this afternoon).

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It’s true – that I’m obsessed with the photos Cari took at my Boudoir photo shoot at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. We got upgraded to a “Personality Suite” which was based on a famous writer that used to stay there. There were 7 different shooting points. including a really cool desk with books he’s written.

Obv-o cropped, but you can see she does amazing work! Check her website out and hire her! You won’t be disappointed 🙂

It’s true – we’ve listened to every song from the 90’s since we both discovered that we have that love in common while getting ready to go out Saturday night in Singapore.

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It’s true – I’ve been myself. Ordering cheesecake at midnight and dancing to Bohemian Rhapsody alone. #nightshiftproblems

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It’s true – we’ve ordered and drank 6 bottles of wine in 3 days.

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It’s true – I haven’t showered in 3 days. Ugh, I keep telling myself I’ll do it after I work out, but haven’t gotten to working out…

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#AllTimeLow when @biologicalhealthservices likes your post about needing to shower…

It’s true – I’ve spent a full day planning travel – researching the most hipster cities in Europe b/c I’m opting out of two months and want to breathe “gentrified” grunge, art, good coffee and food, and athletic men in skinny jeans and fedoras. Is that too much for a girl to ask for?

Yes. I keep 100 tabs open at all times and have 15,000 unread emails.

It’s true – I’m the queen of High Intensity International Travel (HIIT) and recently, won an award in our group for most likely to be gone on a weekend trip.

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Yeah, that’s a lot of people to choose from, and I won.

It’s true – I’ve been thinking a lot about if that’s an award I want to win – what I want this year to be about or if I should consider parking it.

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More of this…

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Or More of This…

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Or Even More of This…?

It’s true – that I don’t think my current role at my company is suited for a long-term digital nomad lifestyle. I want to be leaned on as a leader, and a big part of that is seeing my colleagues face-to-face, building deeper connections, and being mobile to travel within the US.  My heart is telling me to squeeze in what I can because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

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Working remotely from beautiful destinations – Koh Tao, Thailand.

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New experiences with lifelong friends. An Epic Full Moon Party pre-game in my favorite Airbnb ever. – Koh Phangan, Thailand.

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Mixing in some constants and never taking them for granted. My favorite sunset to date. – Railay Beach, Thailand @ The Grotto.

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And sometimes going solo to gain a different perspective. Sporadic trips to Australia to see the sun rise differently. – Melbourne, Australia.

It’s true – that I am the most fortunate person in the world to get to live this lifestyle and am eternally grateful to my friends, tramily, and company for giving me this opportunity.

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Taking a Girlymoon to discover the Love Within. – Raffles Hotel, Singapore

So ya – if you’re single and headed to the Maldives for 5 days – there is very little to distract you from your thoughts and emotions so be prepared to own up to REALITY.

Post inspiration – the amazing, open, and authentic – Will Bessette.  Thanks for always sharing your emotions freely. I’ll miss you and congrats on your engagement!

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Remote Year Flashmob Proposal –  Bangkok, Thailand.

 

The Space Between

On my first day in Melbourne, I met a very nice lady who owned a lingerie shop. She opened the business with her daughter who also directs films in Italy. Her latest movie The Space Between is due to be released in 2 weeks and is based on the real-life story of how her and her lover improbably crossed paths in Italy, and the decisions that changed their lives forever.

I couldn’t help but think – another subtle sign from the universe to have met this women – and as much as I resisted relating to movie’s themes of coincidence and cosmic connection, there is something about being on plane that really takes your mind to that corner of the universe. So 13 hours with my head in the sky later (arguably longer depending on what you consider “the beginning”), here’s my poetic attempt at digesting WTF just happened over the last 4 days:

There is a Giant Elephant in The Space Between.

It’s not a She or a He but rather an It.

When you look at me, your daze lasts for a hot minute, before your concentration is focused back to It.

You’ve affectionately named It “Selfishness”.

I think It looks more like a

“Self-Fulfillment”,

“Self-Love”, 

or “Self-Acceptance”

After all, It is not malicious. It’s intentions are pure and noble.

While most girls would feel like the third wheel, I don’t feel jealous.

In fact, I’m relieved that The Space Between has nothing to do with me, or her, or him and everything to do with YOU discovering what YOUR SOUL is so desperately thirsty for.

I deeply respect…The Space Between.

Breathe in clear, crisp air.

Think and act authentically.

Be nourished being alone.

Wander free as a bird and gather unique experiences.

And if The Space Between becomes smaller – by fate or by choice – and our paths cross to do what we both love or to share new experiences like swinging by a night stand.

I’d be keen.

For now, I’ll be like Taylor – writing about the boys I meet along the way while

I’m dancing on my own. 

Make the moves up as I go…

7 things I wish I had known before starting Remote Year (#100dayslater)

It’s been over 100 of the best days of my life. Here’s 7 things I wish I had known on Day 1:

#7 NO it’s not that easy to ship stuff home. 

Congrats on being accepted and committing to the most life-changing journey of your life! After the honeymoon phase wears off and the reality sets in that you have to pack your whole life away into a 30 kg or less checked bag and 7 kg carry-on, you may begin to panic.

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In order to combat the feelings of separation anxiety, you will tell yourself that “you can always send it home later.” You will attend Pre-Remote Year info sessions that will nonchalantly state that it’s normal to ditch stuff along the way #NBD #LIES.

Here’s the reality:

  • It’s expensive to ship stuff home. In Vietnam, a fellow remote paid $200 to ship 2 kg home – that’s like 4 pairs of jeans. Other land-locked countries can be even more expensive!
  • It’s expensive to not ship stuff home. International airlines will charge absurd overweight baggage fees per kg.  Anywhere from $40 to $125 one-way is pretty standard for an extra 20 kg; However, some airlines are pay per kilogram overage. On one travel day, Qantas charged us $30 per kilogram, and I was 10 kg over the limit. Luckily I was traveling with the group and another remote took my extra carry-on for me. Trade beers for baggage fees!
  • It’s really annoying to ship stuff home. Finding a reputable post office and trying to converse with someone who doesn’t speak English is a pain in the a**.
  • The separation anxiety is way worse shipping stuff from a foreign country than leaving it at home. It’s rare to find package tracking in foreign countries, and you’re constantly stressed your bag will get stuck at customs or lost like the Titanic.

The Net Net: Leave it at home, you can always have someone bring it later.

#6 Backpack or Rolling Carry-on? – Not as controversial as Boxers or Briefs.

The million dollar question: Do they really weigh your carry-on?

The answer: The odds are far far higher that they will if you have a rolling carry-on than one that you carry.

I have seen “backpackers” with 20 kgs or more stuffed into a backpack and most airlines won’t even bat an eyelash. If your rolling carry-on looks like it could weigh more than 7 kgs, 9 times out of 10 they will exploit that and make you weigh it.

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Sent home from Australia

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Last Travel Day Backpack – Shoe be everywhere

The Net Net: If you can’t beat them, join them.

#5 They sell shit you don’t need everywhere in the world…until they don’t.

I stocked up on all the wrong things. 99% of things you can buy in the US can also be bought in most developed cities around the world (including tampons for all you ladies out there wondering!).

Here are some items that are much trickier (at least in Asia):

  • Sea Salt Spray – Shout out to Zoe Weiner and all those curly haired girls (Carin, Kathrin, and Kara – I see you) that would give away their first born to have some in their life. Straightening your hair in 100 degree heat and tropical humidity is futile; however, keep in mind there’s not really a market for this product as Asian women have straight hair.
  • Foundation for darker complexions – Asians are obsessed with being as fair skinned as possible so if you have a tricky shade to buy for stock up! You may have to adjust to a darker shade because you will get a lot of sun here.
  • Shoe sizes greater than 7 – This is another Asian quirk. It’s really hard to find larger shoes sizes even in department stores and malls.
  • Latisse (and other niche products) – There’s a lot a fake stuff in Asia so if you’re paranoid that the products you are buying might be counterfeit, you should just bring extra!
  • Proprietary Charging Cords (such as for Fitbits or Cameras etc.) – Just because they sell the brand doesn’t mean they sell the accessories a la carte. If you can’t live without it, you will likely end up re-buying the whole product.

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The Net Net: If it is something you use every day, bring an extra – you won’t regret it.

#4 The shoe game is hard. Dirt & packing space are not your friend.

Paved sidewalks are a luxury in Asia and if you’re headed to anywhere worth visiting – odd are you will be getting dirty!

The struggle becomes – look cute in sandals and ruin them or look so-so in tennis shoes. Well now you don’t have to choose!

When you only have room in your luggage for 4 pairs – Here are my footwear favorites:

  • The perfect all-weather bootie: Jeffrey Campbell Hunt the Plains Boot in Navy Suede! I get so many complements on these. They go great with dresses, shorts, skirts, and pants and are super easy to keep clean.

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  • The Strappy Strong Statement Sandal (The SSSS): I ended up breaking down and up picking up a pair of Birkenstocks my first week in KL because my cute dainty strappy sandals were getting wrecked by all the dirt and construction. If the hippy vibe isn’t your thing, a thicker strapped gladiator sandal is the way to go! Bonus points for if they slip on and off. It gets surprisingly annoying taking the 2 mins to put your shoes on after visiting a temple, entering a guests home, or going through airport security.

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@michellewimmer – Is that you looking fly as always?

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@allisonbrookeahr – Templing Shoe Game is alway #OnPoint

  • The going out in the day or night shoe: For when your tired of wearing flip flops to the clurrrb, but would like to be able to get use out of them during the day too. These I am currently on the hunt for, but @stylepalate has nailed it! The Dusty Tan color is key for keeping them in good shape after a night of drinking, and the heel height is perfect for day or night. Hers look something like this

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  • Lastly, a pair of tennis shoes you love – Being active is an integral part of traveling. Taking care of your body through physical exercise is key when ingesting copious amounts of cheap, delicious food and dealing with the mental stresses of being abroad. I ended up ditching my old uncomfortable pair of running shoes in my second month in Vietnam for these Adidas Pureboost Xpose shoes, and it was the best decision I’ve made so far on the trip!

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The Net Net: It is possible to travel and look fly while doing it.

#3 You are never home in the “Base City” and will constantly question whether it’s cheaper to go rogue.

Traveling on Remote Year is a beast unlike any other you’ve ever experienced. It’s not normal by any means. “Side-tripping” is the art of planning 3 to 7 day – weekday or weekend trips to other cities near your home base. All while maintaining your day job!

To give you a feel for how insane your schedule gets – Here’s what I’ve been up to so far (sidetrips bolded) –

Month 1 (Kuala Lumpur): Las Vegas > Hong Kong (Layover) > Kuala Lumpur > Penang > Kuala Lumpur > Bali > Kuala Lumpur > Tokyo > Kuala Lumpur > HCMC

Month 2 (HCMC): HCMC > Hoi An > HCMC > Hanoi / Ha Long Bay > HCMC > Phnom Penh

Month 3 (Phnom Penh): Phnom Penh > Kuala Lumpur (Layover) > Sydney > Melbourne > Bangkok (Layover) > Phnom Penh > Siem Riep > Phnom Penh > Otres Beach (Sihanoukville) > Phnom Penh > Hong Kong > Phnom Penh > Bangkok

Remote Year got me like –

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A few people have left the program to do things at their own pace and that’s totally understandable. Others are planning on opting out for a month or two in Europe to be able to explore on their own terms as well.

The Net Net: You will be tempted to find cheaper options to fund your side-trip habits (such as…)

#2 The couples discount isn’t just for couples.

Once upon a time (after a reputable Cambodian spa experience)…

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With the couple’s discount you still get the flight, workspace, and events covered, the only difference is that you share a bedroom. It’s pretty low risk – there are couches in every accommodation, and it’s rare to have 80% occupancy because everyone (including yourself) will be gone on side-trips. I won’t even see my roommate this month because we’re out of town on separate days. Greg and I were the first ones to take advantage of the couples discount, but now several other remote “couples” have followed suit.

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…Or Don’t…

The Net Net: $400 a month goes a long way for side-trips.

#1 Remote Year works really hard to make sure you have a kick-ass experience.

They tell you they will cover:

  • Accommodations
  • Workspace with Fast Internet
  • Travel between cities

However, Remote Year has gone so much above and beyond that:

  • City Managers – 2 to 3 locals that are staffed by Remote Year to help answer our questions and take us around town. They have been immensely helpful in recommending where to eat, shop, spa, how to travel to other cities, etc. and have made transitioning to a new city each month so much easier.
  • Track events – 9 to 12 local curated events (day-trips, meals with locals, cooking classes, museum visits, wine/food tours, ziplining, sunset cruises etc.) all FREE and included in the price of your monthly $2000 (or $1600) fee. These have been awesome in getting us ingrained with the local people and experiencing authentic (non-touristy) aspects of the city that we are in.
  • Seamless Travel – It is so nice that they take care of transportation to and from the airport on big air-conditioned buses and help us through the logistics of travel day such as SIM cards and General Visa advice. Big props on making traveling with tons of luggage seamless and enjoyable. Also, if you give them advance notice, their travel team can re-arrange your travel day to and from a different city and cover the equivalent costs.
  • Free Food – Our Program Leaders are the best. They organize Midnight Breakfasts twice a month for night-shifters, Never Know Never Try food events to expose us to “exotic” local delicacies, and provide meals at City Preview/Town Halls/Junctions, and other Remote Year sanctioned events.
  • Swanky Accommodations and Workspaces – If you want to learn more about where we live or work, head over to my friend and fellow Remote Sasha’s blog where she covers these in detail.

The Net Net: You may be able to do it cheaper by yourself, but traveling with Remote Year and the #Tramily is so much more fun.

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It all started with The Epic Bali Weekend

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Mixed with Classy nights with my KubLadies @ Dinner En Blanc – HCMC, Vietnam

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When we roll, we roll deep @ Rooftop Bar – HCMC, Vietnam

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And we hold onto those memories in our

#StopThisVeganShit

In case you don’t know, I just arrived in my 4th month on Remote Year in Bangkok, Thailand. When we transition to a new city, Remote Year hosts what is called a City Preview. It is an opportunity for us to learn some basics about the new city that we are in for the month (key phrases in the local language, where to grocery shop, laundry situation, etc.), meet the new city managers, and hear feedback from experience surveys that we fill out at the end of each month that help Remote Year improve the program for future classes.

Feedback from Cambodia:

“It was a very heavy month, but through having to face difficult topics like genocide and corruption, I learned a lot about myself and grew immensely as a result.”

“I learned how it feels to walk down the street and feel unsafe.”

“Pretty much unanimous – We hate all you KubVegans. #StopThisVeganShit.”

In case you don’t know (again! – because I’ve got some serious Carmen San Diego going on in my life right now), I have enrolled in my friend and fellow Remote – Kara Mosesso’s 4 Week Plant-Based Lifestyle challenge. This wave started on April 17 and finishes on May 15  and is a quick start to test drive a plant based lifestyle. Kara provides daily tips and interesting facts that have been super informative in dispelling all the myths that are out there regarding what is and isn’t good for our bodies. I’m a pretty big health freak and consider myself highly informed, but have been reading her emails daily because a lot of her content is even new to me.

Back to this Vegan Shit. Or rather Vegan Shift.

Why? There have been a lot “supporting” reasons for this change such as being grossed out by seeing chickens with broken legs in the market and then served on a plate for dinner, watching a fellow remote crunch through the bones and feathers of a boiled duck embryo, and oh that thing they call physical health. These are all good reasons, but the real reason I went Vegan is –

It’s fun to prove YOURSELF wrong.

I grew up in Texas surrounded by Barbeque, lost 25 lbs in college following a “healthy” low carb diet, and am the poster child for vampire-ism. #CarnivousAF.

“I couldn’t possibly give up meat and eggs and dairy for 30 days. No chocolate, No cheese, I’d rather die. I’m going to get fat eating noodles and starchy carbs for every meal. And WHAT ABOUT PROTEIN? How will I sustain working out without getting enough protein at my meals. What kind of sadist bans wine? Oh wait, you can drink wine as a Vegan? Okay maybe…”

I don’t give AF if you decide to be Vegan. In fact, nothing I could say here can change the deep-rooted personal beliefs that define who you are and how you live your life.

My only request is that you ask yourself – What do I believe in? Which beliefs are pushing me towards a more authentic life? And which beliefs are SELF-LIMITING?

In case you don’t know (Part 3), I now travel with 60 people on the regular. No one on this trip started out as a “travel blogger” but it’s the coveted Golden Snitch. It’s been interesting to see how different people perceive their worth and approach reaching their goals.

A) I am a travel blogger! I love to travel and write about my adventures on Remote Year.

B) I love to travel and write travel related blog posts. I am hoping that someone pays me to do this someday.

C) It’s my dream to be a travel blogger, but why would anyone pay me to travel and write?

Who do you think is going to make it in the end (A, B, or C)? In my experience, the key belief that differentiates people that do epic shit and people that stay stagnant is the former holds an indestructible belief that Life. Can. Be. Anything. You. Want. It. To. Be!

TRY IT. It’s fun to prove YOURSELF wrong. #Unstoppable.

Wait. This post isn’t about how I feel being Vegan or the results of this little experiment? Nope – I’m only two weeks in and will have to report back to you later 😉 .

For now, I will leave you to drool at #VeganFoodPorn.

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Yes, Veganism is contagious.

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