I’m Motivated!! (and overwhelmed)

It’s 11:38am on a Friday morning.

I’ve been waking up at 8am and laying in bed til 10:30am lately.
I’ve been going to sleep at 2am after networking events and local music showcases.
I’ve been going to the gym everyday just to feel a sense of daily accomplishment.
I’ve been spending money that I don’t have and accruing more credit card debt.
I’ve been investing my mind and time into passion projects.
I’ve been making peace with the fact that ideas take time.. and action.

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 2.37.32 PM.pngSunrise. New Years morning 2016. Vang Vieng, Laos

I’m MOTIVATED! (and overwhelmed)

I have a giant dry-erase board that is the focal point of my living room. It’s where I write down my short-term goals, my long-term visions, my project ideas, daily routines, and other info to keep my chaotic mind on task. I love it. I love seeing how the ideas form and grow and build into one another.. I love being able to erase what I’ve accomplished and literally start fresh with a clean slate. I love collecting ideas that are bigger than myself and spending the time and energy to make them a reality. My white board is often full. My mind is often full. Every day is a battle between how motivated I am to change the World, and that feeling of “holy shit, what the hell am I doing with my Life?”

What I’ve been up to lately:

Networking. Lots of it. Trying to get to know the Seattle scene, both as a musician and as a professional speaker. I’ve been trying to fill every free moment with a networking event, a local music showcase, an entrepreneur MeetUp, an open mic or a concert.

Happy Heartbreak. Being a musician is central to my identity and will continue to be. Though I play acoustic guitar all of the time, I don’t want to be known in the Seattle scene as an acoustic musician.. I want to be known as the singer for Happy Heartbreak, my indie rock/ emo pop project. So, I’ve been trying to promote that.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 6.11.54 PM.png(Happy Heartbreak playing at the High Dive, October 2015)

Effectiveness Trainer. I’ve been commuting to Singapore to run workshops on designing and delivering results-driven effective trainings. I’m tired of watching presenters, speakers, educators, and trainers stand in the front of the room asking silly questions for validation and exploiting a speaking model from twenty years ago. It feels lazy and irresponsible to play on an audience’s emotions without giving concrete value for them to take away and implement. (More on this another time)

Seattle Songwriter Showcase. I’m starting a MeetUp for local musicians to help create collaborative community in an attempt to work together and push the Seattle Music scene forward as a whole. The hope is for us to support one another, share ideas/music, and offer solutions for how we can make the Seattle scene great..

The “I” in Happiness. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past 2 years of travel writing a curriculum on how we can make choices in our Life to further our overall Happiness. The thought is to have Lifestyle Design through Personal Development that allows us to create the Life that we want based on Who we are as people.

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 1.33.22 AM.png Multi-Dimensional Design Training: Singapore 2015

Along with the idea above.. I’ve been trying to find ways to bring in passionate friends who are driven and can work together in finding more ways that we can create positive impacts on the people and World around us. So, I have a lot coming up with further developing this and hopefully offering more for everyone out there. (Including a trip to Bali in the near future..)

Man, I love these ideas.. but man, it’s so frustrating to actually make things come to life. It all feels so thankless and so far, nothing has yielded any sort of income (and really has no plans for monetization in the long term).. these are all just passion projects. Projects that I’m going to continue to do because I love what I’m doing, but I am feeling more and more overwhelmed knowing that I still have rent and bills and food and everything else to make happen. Where do you draw the line? What is the appropriate amount of time to allocate to each endeavor? Is this really the best use of my time?

“If you want to be truly successful invest in yourself to get the knowledge you need to find your unique factor. When you find it and focus on it and persevere your success will blossom.”
– Sydney Madwed

IMG_2536.JPG(Playing ukulele and overlooking the city on an overcast Singapore morning)

It was 12:23am on a treadmill in Seattle. Actually, an elliptical, but the cardio equipment of choice that had me moving had less to do with the direction my mind was going. Ugh, I didn’t wanna be there. I had neglected the gym all day, despite my “FitnessFebruary and social media goal setting initiative #SnapChatSmallSteps.

To be honest, SnapChat was the only reason I went. This strange disconnected feeling like I was letting someone else in the World down (and further revealing my insane quest for validation and deeply rooted social media addiction) guilted me into going to the gym. I guess I’ll consider this one positive internal peer pressure. Because it was here on this machine that I came to the realization that I’m tired of just seeing the World. I want to change it.

My unique Life and perspective HAS to be good for something.. there must be some value for something more than just myself. And I’ve been searching to find it. Maybe I just so serendipitously watched the Tony Robbins video on scarcity the SAME day I checked my bank account and credit card debt. Uhm, spoiler alert, this particular story falls in the realm of Greek tragedy.. or at best, financial comedy. Unlike the Tony Robbins video, I didn’t have any money coming to me.

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 10.39.30 AM(Going for the jump down at the highest point on Miyajima Island in Japan)

I’ve been so worried lately about how I can monetize my skills. I can’t afford to continue living like this, but I’m worried that if I don’t stay focused on what I’ve been doing, and if I stop living a life of scarcity, that I’ll get too complacent. I won’t stay as hungry to achieve as I have in the Past. It’s a major reason why I left San Diego in the first place..

I’ve often thought about how I could live and get by in so many other places in the World on so little (I’m definitely privileged), but that doesn’t erase the debt I have already accrued over years of dream chasing and contract education work. I guess, if I wanna be who I am and make the impact I wanna make.. I need to create something that helps people beyond myself and allows them to continue building and growing. I believe that I should continue moving this positive impact forward. It’s a terrible business model, but a potentially a World changing idea.

IMG_8013.JPG(sunrise at the Cagsawa Ruins in the Philippines)

I guess my only hope (and unintended purpose) for this blog post.. is to process these thoughts of overwhelming doubt and recognize the important of making a difference.. at least for me. The more I can live my passions with purpose, the more likely everything else will make sense and make real change in my Life.

I am Motivated and Overwhelmed.
And I can’t imagine Life feeling any different.
Now quit doubting and start doing.
..one white board task at a time..

Excited to give more detailed progress on these projects, Friends.
See you soon.

Permission to be Happy.

It’s 8:25pm on a Saturday in Singapore.
I’m typing away at The Port by Quarters, a hostel on the river in Boat Quay.

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So, I’ve been thinking..

This is the 6th or 7th time that I’ve been to Singapore. To be honest, on the flight here, I found myself wondering why I’m off traveling again when there’s so much that I want to accomplish in Seattle with Music. I’ve been questioning myself. Rightfully so. I have the poor habit of thinking about all of the things that I want to be doing/achieving/working toward that I often neglect the moment at hand..

Today, I slept in. 10am. This is a big deal when you’re traveling. Usually, you’re up early to go site seeing or head to the next city.

Today, I went to the gym. This is a big deal when you’re traveling. Usually, there’s so much to go do and people inviting you on a day trip or urging you to come grab lunch.

Today, I went for a run, ate dinner by myself, played ukelele in a music shop, and just watched a terrible romcom on my laptop. And I feel really great about it all.

IMG_0558.jpg(the little things in Life.. like knowing your mom’s dog loves you)

You know that “high” that runners always talk about? Yeah.. I never get those. Still don’t. However, I did have a moment today about 10 minutes in where I felt myself really missing my friends and family and Life back in the United States. I started questioning what I was doing and worrying about all that I still want to accomplish.. and then something incredible happened:

I decided to stop feeling that way.

And I did. And I felt really happy.
And it was as surprising as it was relieving.

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(after a day of paddle boarding at Sai Kung Beach in Hong Kong)

It reminded me of an important lesson that I have the tendency to forget: It’s okay to be Happy. I gave myself permission to be Happy. Shifting the focus from what I wasn’t doing allowed me to appreciate what I was doing. I was proud of myself! While traveling, I took the time to just do normal things like fitness and rest. Not every day has to be a Life Changing adventure.. In fact, it can’t. It is unfair to place such high expectations on myself and whatever skewed belief I have about what Travel should look like.

There’s such a difference between anticipating the outcome of what I’ve been working on and expecting certain outcomes for what I’ve been working on. It’s like that movie in theaters that everybodyyy tells you you’re supposed to love, and then you’re let down when you finally see it. Too high of expectations. The same is true of ourselves. Expectations are unfair to our Appreciation. (Not that you shouldn’t have standards and love yourself: like this Letter I wrote to myself)

I guess my point to all of this…
It’s okay to be Happy. Give yourself permission to be Happy.

IMG_8571_2(like being invited to a fake tea party by your niece)

I don’t think that I’m alone when it comes to carrying guilt. Sometimes I feel guilty for not getting my workout in for the day. Other times I feel guilty for not practicing enough with Music. On more serious notes, I feel really guilty for not being able to be there for friends and family when I’m off on whatever adventures I may be pursuing.. I feel guilty for not making the most of the little moments and trying to do too much in the big moments. However, whatever guilt that I’m carrying does not need to define who I am as a person.

I am more than the things I’m not doing.
And just like that moment today on that run when I chose to let go of that feeling of guilt. Even if it’s only for that moment, I feel powerful knowing that I can do that. (And just as powerful getting back and being productive.)

As always, I’m a work in Progress. A Proud Work in Progress.
And I give myself permission to be Happy about it.

Be Happy, Friends.
You have permission.

Fly Away Around the World with Craig Suede – BTS

It’s 9:12pm on a Monday. I just got back from the grocery store and now at my Seattle apartment right across the Fremont bridge.

This is significant because I haven’t bought groceries in a long time.
This is significant because 3 weeks in Seattle is the longest I’ve been in one place in over a year.
This is significant because I thought I would have more figured out by now.
But, I suppose that’s Life.

IMG_8456_2(this is actually view from Fremont Bridge of Aurora Bridge.. but you get the point!)

How have your travels been?”
Good. Err, is that the answer you’re looking for? Travel has been uhmmm… fun? I’ve got to see a lot of really cool stuff and go through some cool experiences.. And yea??

I’m glad that I finally took the time to sit down and go through the footage I’ve been shooting over the past year or so of Travel. SO MUCH footage of scenery and churches and temples and so on.. but the footage that felt most compelling was the footage of people. Like an inside joke, the majority of that footage is only moving to me, but I like that I have it. However, I needed to put footage together in a way that is digestible for non-traveling persons. This proves difficult, because describing Travel to someone who hasn’t traveled is like describing being in Love to someone who’s never been in Love. It’s just one of those things that you have to experience to fully understand. So, in turn, my little travel video feels more like a compilation of selfies, “cheers”ing glasses, and hanging out of windows. It’s definitely a highlight reel of excitement and landmarks, appealing to that sense of adventure that many feel they’re missing in Life. I’ve gotta be honest.. this is a video that covers more tourism than traveling, but I’m proud of my experiences and happy to finally have an answer for: “How have your travels been?

This video is two part:
A chance to finally share some of the little happenings from travel.
A chance to share my other passion of Music, in a fun way.

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“Fly Away” is the fifth track off of Highways and Cityscapes by Happy Heartbreak. I think that it’s the most San Diego-sounding song that I’ve ever written. It’s bouncy and funky and happy.. I originally wrote it as an anthem for fun and excitement and had hoped that it could be used for licensing in TV and film. Musically, it’s one of the more difficult songs on the CD to play with the funny changes, key of Bflat, and unusual chord choices for a pop song, but I think it still maintains that simple, beachy vibe. The hook “I like to sing like no one is listening, and I like to drink like no one is counting.” is one of my favorite hooks I’ve ever written. Simple. To the point. It encompasses my San Diego experience and my fond memories of living there.

The video covers clips from a number of places I visited. Most frequently shown is Philippines (probably my favorite trip). A lot is from backpacking northern Europe with my buddy Bosen like Ireland, London, Belgium, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen. The rest are clips from Hong Kong, Singapore, Kenya, Japan, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Vancouver, and a bunch from Thailand.

I actually did a couple drafts of this video. My original I sent to a handful of friends and then made a bunch of changes based on their suggestions. The first time around, the video made it look like all I did was drink and meet girls when I travel the World. This was due to me trying to choose people oriented shots and not just myself. The feedback was to feature myself more, so that it was more of a video about MY travels. The other major difference is putting the tags on the bottom right of where most of the places were.. most people who saw the first draft really wanted to know where each was. I left them out intentionally because I was afraid that it would be distracting of the footage/music and take away from the holistic World travel and focus too much on individual places. Either way, I decided to make the changes to get the version you just watched. My own personal change was a move away from a music video and just to a travel video. Originally, I wanted it to just be the Happy Heartbreak – Fly Away music video, with a bunch of random shots around the World that lean toward that “Fly Away” vibe.. with the edits, I decided to be more personal and focus more specifically on my own travel. With that said,

This is not what Travel looks like.
I’d be lying if I said it was.. though the beach and drinking and mountaintops and landmarks are all a wonderful, smart part of travel, this video entirely ignores what makes travel so beautiful: the struggle. facing yourself. being lost. finding yourself. overcoming challenges. realizing how much more you can do on your own. being lonely. being alone. meeting new people. being the minority. not knowing the language. bonding over common experience. feeling small in the World. realizing the World is so big. and then realizing the World is so small. and that we’re all interconnected.

IMG_7655(..I have so many selfies because I’m by myself so much.. with two bags)

There’s so much more.. but, I want to make sure it’s clear that this video does NOT begin to encompass the reality and wonder of Travel. This is a lot more like being a Tourist. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s definitely a different experience.

On a final note, I want to make sure that it’s clear that this video (though it definitely looks this way) is not about You going out and traveling the World. Me traveling the World is a result of me knowing that this adventure is something that I needed and chose to do. Each person has their own adventure and their own choices to make. This video, hopefully, inspires and empowers others to make those choices for themselves. If that means travel the World, then go Fly Away! If that means finding a new job or working hard at your current job, or ending those unhealthy relationships or nurturing the relationships that build you up, or spending more time on a Passion, or finding ways that you can feel more fulfilled and productive.. then, GO FLY AWAY!

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Whatever “Flying Away” is to You, Go do it.
I’m excited to be back creating and sharing..

Leave comments to remind me to post more about my adventures, my music, my experiences, and my learnings. I’m trying my best to stay self-motivated, but nothing motivates me more than knowing that YOU are gaining something between all of these run-on sentences.

On to the next Adventure, Friends.

That Distinct Feeling of a Plane Taking Off

It’s 1:33pm on a Wednesday, and I am riding in a Safari van after an overnight stay at Amboseli National Park (next to Tanzania).

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It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a blog entry. It’s crazy to me since so much has happened over the past several months. As I glean over countless blog entry beginnings with no conclusion, I’m amused at how much these incomplete blog posts parallel my incomplete thoughts and my “still in progress” way of Life.

11:53pm on a Tuesday at a Publishing Office on the 36th Floor facing the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.
6:08pm on a Friday evening flying from Seattle to San Francisco for a casino gig.
10:12am on a Monday morning at my layover in Amsterdam to Nairobi..
and another morning in Thailand, or an evening in San Diego.. sometimes, I’m out working on an education program; others, I’m in a West Coast town for Music.. but mainly, they all begin on a flight somewhere and never get finished.

I frequently stream of thought type on flights, which I’m sure looks totally crazy, because I just turn my brightness all the way down and just type and type and type to the blank screen.. As I’ve been reading back over these notes, most are just incoherent rambling and mental garbage, but there has been a consistent theme throughout that parallels with this recent Life of Flights and Travel.

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If you’ve ever flown on a plane, there are a number of memorable sensations that happen throughout the process of flight. I’ve watched countless terrified faces as the plane bounces during a sketchy landing, experiences bumpy turbulence, or when the walls begin to shake for the first time. I am constantly reminded by these reactions, how much I’ve gotten used to these as a Frequent Flyer. Regardless, there is one particular moment during takeoff that always captures my attention and has continued to show up in stream of thought writing sessions..

When the plane has reached enough speed on the ground to begin flying, right as the aircraft becomes airborne, all of the weight shifts and it feels like someone has just turned up the gravity. This heavy feeling presses me back into my seat, and I am conscious of the fact that my ride is taking off. However, despite leaving the ground, my body feels like it’s being weighed down. For years, this familiar feeling of being weighted down has often distracted me from what is to come next.

In order to Fly, we must first be Grounded.

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It’s been a few months shy of a year since I officially “moved out” of San Diego (or at least, stopped paying rent). At the time, I was trying to create a more permanent living situation to ground myself in. Since then, I’ve passed through nearly a dozen countries and several cities that I have temporarily called Home. It feels like my feet haven’t touched the ground. I went from setting down roots to aimlessly branching out wherever I could find sunlight.

The problem with chasing the sun is that sometimes it’s overcast. And there are plenty of days to remind you of this fact when you’re living in Seattle, WA. Moving there has reminded me how lazy I can be. Online streaming and playing guitar in your pajamas all day? #thestruggleisreal and something about dreary weather makes it so easy to have a rest day.. that turns into a rest week.. that turns into rest month.. and like the flights I so frequently find myself on, my Life feels like I’m just floating.

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I’ve been putting off writing about this.. hoping that I could find the perfect quote about happiness or anecdote about travel that would so gracefully package my Life. I’m an educator. I’m a performer. I am constantly crafting lyrics of reflection and writing curriculum on self-development, yet here I am.. unable to put it together.

S c a t t e r e d.
I’ve been having a hard time sleeping. Playing lots of music by myself. Starting projects and not finishing them. Daydreaming, a lot. Feeling uncertain. Streaming TV. Going out with friends. Spending too much money. Playing guitar. Doubting myself. Facebooking. Traveling. Thinking about traveling. Running away. Running toward. Releasing new music. Planning. Constantly planning. Writing. Never posting. Missing old friends. Trying to keep up with old friends. Trying to make new friends. Trying to stay focused. Apparently, just a lot of trying. Rainier. Summer plans. Missed flight. Countries to visit. Business idea. Laundry. Write. Work on your blog. Italy or Tennessee. You need to make more money. Lyrics. Growing old. Debt debt, grow up. Practice singing. The Walking Dead. Meet people. Develop curriculum. What is Happiness? Facial hair. Ginger Ale. Hungry. Searching. Hoping. Moving. Trying to move forward. Trying to understand:

 Life is a gift that doesn’t always come in perfect packages.

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As I unpack and pack these thoughts back together, the inevitable weight builds on my mind and in my chest. At home, I keep a giant dry erase board to try to keep my thoughts together and my tasks on track, but this visual often feels just as overwhelming as the thoughts it brings up.

And the weight piles.
For all of us.

Sometimes it’s relationships, jobs, or money. Other times it’s a situation we’ve been put in (or put ourselves in). For me, I’m old enough and self-aware enough to know that my situation is a direct result of the choices that I have made:

  • I have chosen to forego traditional work life to continue pursuing Music.
  • I have chosen to not take relationships seriously in order to selfishly pursue what is important to me.
  • I have chosen to systematically move away from places where I feel comfortable within a community in order to not become too complacent.
  • I continue to choose travel and new experiences over developing the foundation that I could be building on by staying in one place

..and so on.

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These choices (along with many others) are the driving force pushing my Life forward and pressing me back into my seat. That feeling of weight will always accompany the act of taking off. In the Past, I would have felt like all of this weight was holding me down. And I suppose, up until writing all of this out, the scattered part of me still felt that way.

 Life feels much more exciting choosing to feel like I’m about to Takeoff.

Don’t be Afraid of the Weight, Friends.
It’s just the Distinct Feeling of a Plane Taking off.

So, You Wanna Go to London?

And finally, the British portion of my So, You Wanna Go to Europe series! First and foremost, I was extremely lucky to have my long time friend, Luke Murphy, hosting and offering advice on how to best experience the city. It was one of the most expensive places I visited, but it is definitely one of those must-see places that you go through after Ireland. It is also one of those places with lots of advice already online on where to go and what to do.. So, based on my personal adventure there, here are the tips that helped (or would have helped) me out. And also, tons of pictures for all of the people who wanted to see more about the trip. (Here ya go, Mom!)

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London was one of the only places where we had a plan. Luke, having previously worked in student events coordinating (or something like that), was really familiar with telling visitors where to go and the potential walking path to take.

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Here is a picture of one of the lists that we followed to find our way throughout the city centre of London. One thing that is great about this place is that it’s a walking city.. we were able to see most everything we wanted in one full day of moving about (assuming we followed the path we were given and excluding longer stops like museums/or the castle). Another great thing about London is that it’s expensive. Err, at least for us. The USD to pound conversion was atrocious, so it forced us to be conscious about not spending money. (This, of course, had nothing to do with the fact we spent much more money than we planned on going out in Ireland.) So, in lieu of spending money, we spent more time walking around and seeing all of the iconic sites that make this renowned city so famous.

So first things first, let’s get from Dublin to Ireland!

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We left our friend’s house by catching a taxi to the port where we took a ferry over to Wales. The ferry ride was a great choice for us when considering money and luggage. Since Bosen and I both had our guitars, we were concerned that the cheap airlines would charge us crazy amounts since they’re bigger than typical carry-on size (which is never a problem for me in the States.. but not worth the hassle here). After doing some online research, we decided to go with IrishFerries.com/ for their package deal: ferry from Dublin to Holyhead (Wales) and then a bullet train to London. I loved the ferry ride because for the first time traveling, we had lots of space! Plenty of room to move around, but I definitely suggest riding at an obscure time or board early so that you can find a good place to sit. It takes a little over 3 hours to cross the water, but I was content in seats without a view of the water (after Galway, this was pretty standard scenery). For the last bit about this leg of travel, I would suggest bringing your own food and water.. The ferry has its own little cafe (average options with above average prices) and the train didn’t really offer anything unless you were riding in first/business class. If you want to be extra frugal, Bosen and I spent most of our trip buying deli meats with various rolls to make sandwiches along the way.. it’s definitely not the fanciest way to do things, but it always ebbed our hunger and kept us out exploring with more money to spend on more important things! (like a pint or whatever) Once we finally arrived in London, the London Underground was really easy to navigate (I would say even mores than subways in the States). And we met up with our friend, Luke Murphy.

IMG_2357(whom we made document much of our London adventure via GoPro)

I think the best way is to get up in the morning and try to see as much as you can.. for us, we woke up and took the Underground to Leicester Square Station and walked the block or so to see the area. Instantly, we were reminded that we were very much tourists. AccepIMG_2118t this fact. So, we took a picture with a police officer and kept journeying on.. next through Chinatown which is substantially less impressive if you’ve been to a Chinatown in ANY Asian country, but this one feels much cleaner and much more for show and tourism. Something about Chinese lanterns (right) hanging across streets is such a sight, regardless of wIMG_2186here I am. Next was SoHo, a fun area with bars and restaurants known as their gayborhood. Having gone out in San Diego and San Francisco (with their really fun gay neighborhoods), this area IMG_2132wasn’t super exciting for me.. but it definitely has a nightlife and plenty of places to go out. I think Piccadilly Circus (left) is the iconic small square to see in London. I’m not sure why, but this small section was the major “I’m in the center of London” moment for me.  We decided to skip Buckingham Palace, because I guess you can really only stand at the gate.. which I suppose is a lot like visiting the White House? We found other places where you can get more up close and personal with the guards, so we were content with this. From what we were told, I would only recommend going if you can see the changing of the guard, and even then, it’s such a tourist haven that you’ll mainly just get pictures of people taking pictures. Besides, we wanted more time to spend in the most lively tourist location: Trafalgar Square. This area is the must-see of tourist locations in London. The square itself is large and inviting with its two fountains, statue lions, statue admirals of war, the National Gallery, and a giant blue rooster. The center is called Nelson’s Column and can be identified by the 4 lion statues at the corners. The rooster, I believe, is just a work of Art that is both interesting and out of place. We spent the majority of our time here taking pictures and shooting video of the site and the street performers who gather here to make money off the tourists.

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(It’s a good place to meet up with other travelers you’ve met, like Liz and Shelley!)

The last couple stops on our Day 1 London Experience brought us to Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. We weren’t able to go inside of the former cathedral, but the giant gothic-style building was still such a sight to see. And, of course, Big Ben is Big Ben. This was pretty much all we could fit into our first day (as we decided to unwind over an overpriced pint somewhere near Westminster Abbey). After this, we went to bed early because we were going to uncover a global mystery the next day!

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To set the mood for Day 2, feel free to watch the video: “What’s the Meaning of Stonehenge” by Ylvis (the guy who did, What does the Fox say?) .. it’s ridiculous and hilarious and what Bosen and I kept singing to eacIMG_2200h other during our visit. We got up early and went to London’s Central Station to catch the tour bus for the Stonehenge/Bath tour. When you’re comparing prices for the various tours, I would recommend choosing one that also stops in Bath (with entrance to the Roman Baths). Stonehenge is great and all, but adding the city of Bath makes your full day more worth it. We ran into a little difficulty with booking our ticket and getting the matched advertised price from the website, but with a little Polite Persistence (a post for another time), we were able to persuade the ticketing counter to give us our deal. Regardless, this was still our most expensive tourist stop.. I think we spent around 60 pounds each for these tickets but knew that we’d never have another chance to see Stonehenge. While you’re there, make sure that you rid yourself of any embarrassment and take every type of picture you can think of! We were reluctant to do so, but as soon as we started taking silly pictures, we watched as every other person followed suit to do the same exact pictures!
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Bath wasn’t even on our radars as a place to visit. We were happy that we did because the Roman Bath tour was interesting and added a lot of value to our day. Had we only gone to Stonehenge, which is basically a large circle walking around the perimeter, it would have been a bit disappointing (despite how interesting the actual Stonehenge is). Bath was a quaint, little town good for shopping (something we didn’t do), grabbing food, and seeing the Roman baths.
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At the Roman baths, we learned a bit about Roman history and a lot about the worship of Minerva and Neptune. We were able to walk around the entire complex following the audio guided tour through the various rooms full of artifacts and information. I don’t have much to say about it, but I definitely feel like it is worth visiting if you’re already going to Stonehenge.

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On our final day in London, Luke suggested we go to St. Paul’s Cathedral, cross over Millennium Bridge, see Tate Modern and the old Globe Theatre, go on a bit of a trek toward Borough Market and London Bridge, then finally see Tower Bridge leading over to Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, the Tower of London. We got a later start to the day than we planned, so we were rushing a bit mainly just seeing the outsides of these locations. We had a delicious (and overpriced) lunch at a stand before crossing the Tower Bridge to the Tower of London where we bought tickets and actually walked around the grounds.


As I recap on the previous few days, some advice comes to mind:

Take the obvious pictures.. even if you feel stupid for it:
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because, who cares? These are pictures for You. They’re as fun and silly as you want them to be, because they are your tangible memories of the places you’ve visited. If there’s ever a place to be an annoying tourist, it’s London.

As always, bring friends or make friends:

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We were fortunate enough to have our good friend we know from San Diego, Ash Gallagher, passing back through London from the Middle East to meet up with us for some quick selfies and a couple pints. When we didn’t know people, we made a point to “cheers” strangers and chat with musicians to try to get a better feel for the people in the areas we visited.

Take pictures other than the tourist norms:

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There is so much beauty in the random buildings, statues, and art of London, that your picture opportunities are endless. I’ve found that I appreciate places (and people) more when I can find the beauty in the places where it’s not expected. My general go-to’s are anything man made in the foreground with clouds or the sun in the background. Haha, and I’m no photographer, but I’ve found when I’m out trying to think like a photographer, I notice so much more of my surroundings.

You obviously have to go see the Tower Bridge:

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I think Tower Bridge is more recognizable than Big Ben. I also feel like it is one of the most common bridges to call by the incorrect name .. (London Bridge) It’s a gorgeous structure that is impressive to witness when it raises for the larger passing boats. Walking over the bridge is an experience in itself. (There was a couple taking their wedding photos while we were there)

See the castle (Tower of London):

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Get there early enough that you can take the tour. Sadly, we were too late to do so, but it was still worth the 20 or so pounds that we paid to walk around the castle. Seeing the infamous ravens, the crown jewels, and all the exhibits that they have are worth seeing. They do not want you taking pictures/recording anything inside the jewel room, so don’t get yelled at (like I did).


Our final evening, we were excited to check out Camden Town. We had heard so much about Camden and its Market, Lock, and local music. During the day, the street market is known for the artsy vendors selling their touristy and creative wares. The energy of the market matches the colorful small shacks and stalls. In the evening, this area quickly fades into a darker version of the vibrant daytime that is much more vacant with nearly every person trying to sell you weed and sometimes other drugs. Regardless, I still felt relatively safe, and the view of the water in the Camden Lock is amazing (shown below).

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With much credit going to Amy Winehouse, the area is also known for live music. The night that we were there, we visited multiple open mics with a variety of talent hitting the stage. As with most music scenes, the sound catered to what the city (and area) is famous for.. British rock and Amy Winehouse musings. As always, I enjoy the unknown expectations of any open mic, and we even found ourselves on stage sharing a few of our own Bosen & Suede songs.

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The other thing that stood out to me in Camden were the tattoos.. for whatever reason, this area has turned into a known tattoo haven where people haphazardly get inked up in the back of the multiple shops that line the streets between clothes and tourist traps. In general, I found almost every tattoo horribly done and perfect examples for Spike TV’s Tattoo Nightmares. I recognize that I’m partially spoiled by the quality of San Diego tattoo artists, but I wouldn’t recommend anybody get a tattoo in Camden unless you’re only getting a Camden tattoo for the sake of getting a Camden tattoo.

Finally, after a long day of exploring and sightseeing.. go get kebabs. For real. Almost everyone knows a great late-night kebab shop, and I would highly recommend this over your typical fish n chips. For real. They’re so good. I can still picture myself standing there in line salivating over the meat being sliced off the vertical rack and placed directly into my food, whether chicken or lamb (or the healthier “shish”). It’s really good. Go get some. You can even be creepy about it:

IMG_2375All in all, London was a great time. If I was more into museums, shopping, and history, I imagine I would have appreciated it more than I did. There is very much a Life Force in the city that you feel as you walk around all of the historical buildings and pop culture references. My biggest advice for visiting would be to find some sort of lodging arrangements before you get there. Easily, we saved a lot of money during this leg of our trip by staying with a friend. Regardless, go experience London! There were (BY FAR) more sights/sites to see in the few days we were there than any other place we visited.

There’s so much to see out there, Friends.

2014 – Year of Settling, Travel, and Reflection

It’s 10:04am on a Tuesday (Bangkok time). I’m sitting on the plane and my mind is racing as I reflect on the past few days.. weeks.. months.. year. Originally, I was going to compile all of my Asia travel notes to do a catch-up post from the past month abroad, but my friend Raelee got me thinking about the changes over the past year. So, here I am, with my calendar app open, looking at all the changes and reflecting on the Past. Wow. What a year.

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I can’t believe I’m still surprised at how much Life can change in a year.. People, Plans, Perspective. The journey keeps going and we keep growing.

The first half of the year, I spent most of my time with my live-in girlfriend. I remember feeling like I was supporting her endeavors as we woke up early on a January morning to do a beach photo shoot for her to get more Bar Industry work in Vegas.. I remember being ready to settle down and travel less and focus on establishing roots.. how things can change in 6 months.

The second half of the year, I’ve spent almost all of my time working education programs and/or traveling. I’ve played less gigs/shows this year than normal.. only around 85. In place of those gigs, I’ve been able to check out the music scene in Las Vegas and the Pacific Northwest each for a couple weeks, backpack and explore 5 European countries with my best friend, travel and/or work in 4 different Asian countries, and nearly complete my first full band release in years. Lots to reflect upon, and I’m happy that most importantly, this has been a year of learning and reflection.

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What I’ve Learned:

Plans and People Change. Always. Sometimes I think we get so focused on our plans or our own perspective that we don’t even notice the changes happening.. but they do. Whether the changes are voluntary or circumstantial, they are happening. It’s neither good nor bad, it just is what it is. I think how we react to change is often more defining than the change itself. At the beginning of this year, I was certain that the gf and I would be living in our own place in San Diego, establishing a business and building a home. As times have changed, I’ve now traveled more in the last 4 months than I have my entire Life.. and that was the right decision for me.

Smiles are Universal. I cannot stress how much smiling has generally served me in Life. Especially this year.. when traveling, sometimes a Smile is the only way I know how to communicate with other people. And when Life isn’t going the way that I had planned (see above), it’s amazing how much forcing a smile and focusing on the positive can really move Life forward.

I’m Happiest when I’m being Honest (with Myself). Especially when I’m in a relationship, I spend so much time trying to make others happy, that I neglect my own happiness. I think this is normal behavior from people, but it doesn’t serve either party. For me, neglecting things like Music only makes me feel more and more guilty and unfulfilled.. Not to mention, that some things just don’t work, no matter how hard you try to force them (haha, like relationships). With that said:

Resentment is Resilient. If you have unresolved resentment for anyone/anything, it will show back up again. Usually when it is the most detrimental to a healthy relationship. I’ve been surprised at how/when this negativity rears its ugly head and how much it affects my ability to make clear decisions. Emotions can be powerful deterrents to progress if not kept in check.

I’m a Mess and I think I’m Okay with it. When I was in a relationship sharing space and struggles, I felt ashamed for not having all the answers. Now, I appreciate the times where I feel Lost. In a world of GPS, it is okay to deviate from the path and find your own way. (Insert Robert Frost quote here) I’m getting used to not always feeling grounded. Life is a Puzzle and nobody has the answer key.

Nothing is Normal. Experiences are unique. People are weird. Life is relevant. At the beginning of this year, I had expectations for my relationships and my plans.. Now, I’m learning to better Accept People for who they are and the decisions that they make. It’s no longer “good” and “bad”. Their challenges and decisions are entirely their own. I don’t have permission to not accept someone even if I don’t like something about them. In the past, I thought I was being inspirational and encouraging, but maybe I was unintentionally trying to form people into the idea that I thought was best for them. It’s not my place to “fix” people.

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There are Pretty Girls Everywhere. For real. Earlier this year, I didn’t think I would ever find a girl prettier than the one I was with. And when you’re in Love, that’s a great perspective to have. Now that I’ve been traveling with a single mindset, there are beautiful girls all over the World (sang in your best Bruno Mars impression). I believe there is someone out there for Everyone are multiple people in the World that would be great for me. Sometimes it doesn’t work out because of timing, close-mindedness, circumstance, not being ready, or whatever other reasons.. And it’s crazy to me how influential these multiple connections are in our Lives. As much as every heartbreak sucks, I think I now appreciate them all. My hope is, when I meet the who is right for me, that I’ll be right for her.. and that based on all of these experiences, I’ll be ready for her and Us.

My Biggest Envy is Perceived Normalcy. Social media is a real pain in the ass, because we constantly get to see a version of what everyone else looks like.. their projected image via news feeds and posts. And I can’t help but be jealous of the happy families, little babies, career moves, new houses, and other successes. Part of me wishes I could follow that path, but I also know that it is a two-way window when people message me about rock climbing in Thailand or going to Belgian Breweries in Brussels. So, my learning is appreciating and encouraging each person’s journey and remember that mine is purely mine. Not right or wrong, just is what it is.

There is Risk with Cool Shit. haha. As in, everything worth achieving or going for has some sort of inherent risk associated with it. For me, I recently lost my GoPro while cliff jumping in Krabi, Thailand. And it was really devastating as I imagined all of those video memories floating to the bottom of the ocean.. It was a real bummer but taught me two valuable lessons:

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Experiences are Individual. It’s no secret that I’m addicted to social media.. and I’m not the only one. Many of us get caught up in the validation we get from likes and comments, that we forget that our person experiences are for us. My experiences are for Me. It doesn’t matter what others think, because Others don’t change how defining the moments are for Me.

Don’t Get too caught up on the Losses. If we only focus on what we lose, we never gain anything. The struggle is real. Haha, and valuable. Loss provides more learning than anything I’ve ever gained. Not to downplay what we’ve all achieved, but the journey to get there.. the losses along the way, are what provide the real feedback necessary to grow.

The Power of Choice Defines Us. I choose who I’m going to be in every situation and this makes a huge difference on the result/outcome. Multiple times traveling, I’m having to choose between stepping out into the unknown in search for new experiences or taking the time to catch up on rest (which is alwayyyys lacking) or play on social media. The choice to get the most out of each situation is the reason I’ve met so many new, amazing people.. get a traditional bamboo tattoo at a Buddhist temple.. find Love (people/places/experiences) all over the World.. and through the Power of Choice, I’ve learned to accept myself more. And I suppose that truly accepting yourself is the underlying truth amidst all of our relationships, achievements, plans, and discovery. So, I guess that’s my biggest learning for the year:

What Happiness Looks Like. And I’ve gotta be honest, I’m not always happy. That’s a silly assumption. However, I am learning how to better focus on what makes me Happy and not just on the behaviors that may lead to being Happy. For instance, I love going out with friends.. but what makes me happy is spending genuine, quality time with Friends, not just the act of drinking. I hate sleeping alone and love spending the night with girls, but I’m not conquest driven or super hook-up oriented (like many people are; more power to them for recognizing that). I’ve learned that I love making real connections with people.. (and enjoy attention/affection) which is another mixed-signals challenge within itself, but at least now I’m able to focus on the authentic result and less on the messy ambiguity I have previously placed myself in.

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So wherever you are in your own journey, I wish you the best of luck. Mine feels as out of control as ever, but I think I’m learning how to make the best of it. Thank you for reading my rambling, and I hope that somewhere amongst the chaos of my thoughts, it helps you find clarity in yours.

Happy New Year, Friends!

A Quick Update from Singapore/Malaysia:

Hello, Friends!
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I have been the worst at keeping everyone up to date.. (Trust me, my Mother knows this more than anyone!) As a quick update, since exploring Seattle, I played gigs in San Francisco, flew to Shanghai to see China for the first time and visit a good friend of mine. Then, I flew with her and a friend to go to Disneyland in Hong Kong and spent 3days venturing out into Hong Kong on my own. After that, I’ve been running an education camp in Singapore and about to start one in Malaysia after a few days of vacationing in Kuala Lumpur. Throughout this time, a number of conversations have come up that reference back to one of my original and most popular blog posts.. so, I thought it’d repost it here until I find the time to post up some new writing I’ve been revising. Some of the new posts I’m working on (and posting soon) are:

So, You Wanna Go to London? (for the So, You Wanna Go to Europe collection)
A Letter to the Girl of My Dreams
That Peter Pan Life
Ex Girlfriends and High School Sports
and a little rant about Millennials..

Until then, please go back and check out:

The Challenge with Break-ups in a Hyper Connected World

I’m finding some full circle revelations in re-reading this post recently. It had been awhile, and I gotta say.. I was kind of embarrassed at the transparency in my faults/shortcomings with my previous relationships. I can happily say that I’m feeling single and confident after a long time of feeling unsure and finding myself again. With that said, I am also the most confidently uncertain of my near Future than I’ve ever been.. and THAT, is also very exciting. I’m stoked to share some of my new learnings with you soon. And of course, I have a bunch of video editing to still go through from Europe, Cliff jumping in San Diego, and soon to be Krabi, Thailand for Christmas. So so so much happening in this crazy, fortunate Life of Mine. Thank you for sharing it with me!!

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See you soon, Friends!

Sleepless in Seattle.. in my Jeep

It’s 9:04am on a Friday.
I accidentally slept in longer than I planned.
I should have moved my Jeep by 8am,
and it would have been annoying to get a ticket while sleeping in the vehicle.

I’ve been visiting Seattle for a little over a week now.
I’m exploring this new city and its music scene.
And since I kinda left without telling people, I suppose I should explain..

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It’s been over 2 weeks since I’ve last posted. I apologize.
I’m gonna take a quick break on So, You Wanna Go to Europe series to give my Life update.

Let’s start with my excuses:

  1. I’ve been busy moving out of and leaving San Diego
  2. I’ve been busy driving up the coast seeing friends
  3. I’ve been busy finishing recording/mixing of the #HappyHeartbreak tracks
  4. I’ve been busy playing at Graton Casino in the Bay Area with Bosen & Suede
  5. I’ve been busy planning for the Education Work and trip to SE Asia coming up
  6. I’ve been busy questioning my Life and the decisions I’ve been making
  7. I’ve been busy driving around homeless and not as on top of posting
  8. I’ve been busy procrastinating posting because it feels overwhelming expressing in the way I’d like

So again, sorry for taking so much time. My mind has been a bit all over the place. So in an effort to catch you up and process this adventure of mine, here are the updates:

I’ve moved out of San Diego.

Man, do I love that city. It’s such an amazing place and a vacation destination. I recommend everyone go visit and enjoy yourself. For some, it’s a great place to live and explore what you’re capable of accomplishing when surrounded by a relatively stress-free environment and eternal sunshine. I am proud of what I’ve achieved while in San Diego. I cherish the friends that I’ve made while there. And the Life experience, as always, is invaluable. However, I’ve been having this nagging feeling for some time now that I need to find a community where I feel more at home and less on vacation. I love SD similar to how I loved college.. such an amazing experience, and now it’s time for me to move on. My biggest fear (and what was beginning to feel inevitable) is that one morning I would wake up in my late 30’s and wonder what had happened to the time.. and why I hadn’t accomplished more that I had set out to do.

I think I just needed a Change.

“The journey of change doesn’t begin when you intend, it begins when you move.” – Steve Maraboli

I decided to drive up the coast.

I was leaning toward Denver as a potential place to move.. I considered Austin, Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, etc. I knew that I wanted to stay fairly close to San Francisco (cheap flights) because I have an ongoing contract at a casino there each month. I knew that I wanted a city that has a music scene. Less than a year ago, I spent a weekend in Seattle playing a couple gigs with Bosen, and I remember being really charmed by the artsy vibe of the city.. everyone always brings up how rainy it is (and it’s really rainy), but after living several years in San Diego, I feel less influenced by weather as a motivator (or demotivator) in my Life. As always, it’s up to me to be productive. So, I had about a week and a half between casino gigs open to explore. I drove up to Seattle, and I’ve been here for the past 10 days.

I’ve never felt so uncertain and outside of my Comfort Zone.

For real. I’m totally alone. I specifically chose a place where I don’t know anybody. I feel like I’m challenging myself and testing this idea of being a “struggling Artist” (probably to a flaw). Even when I was backpacking Europe, I still had one of my best friends every step of the way.. this time, I’m on my own. And it’s scary to think that I have to entirely start over.. with gaining respect in a new music community, making new friends, acclimating to a new community, finding a place to live, seeing if I’m able to support myself financially, and testing this daily internal struggle with self-doubt. At times, it feels like such a fun challenge going into places and forcing myself to network and meet new people.. and it’s always so refreshing when my feigned attention turns to genuine smiles as I make real connections with people (something I’ve been working on). I’m beginning to feel like this “struggle” is what I need to move forward. With that said..

I’ve been sleeping in my Jeep.

And it’s surprisingly not been that bad. I have the seats down and the vehicle is full of clothes, a full PA, my guitar, suitcase and backpacks, and fortunately, blankets and pillows. When I first lay down, I can’t help but feel overcome by the “what the hell am I doing with my Life” feeling. But once I wake up, for a moment, I forget that I’m in the Jeep and only remember that I’m on a new adventure. This thought is quickly followed by:

“This isn’t thaaat bad. If this is the worst case scenario, then Life ain’t all that bad. I can do this.”

I’ve also been sleeping on couches. Several times, I’ve slept on the couch of an amazing Couch Surfer (if you’re familiar with www.couchsurfing.org) friend whom has been an incredibly generous person with her place, talents, and connections. Other times, I’ve pretended like I’m on tour and just stayed awake and chatted with people at music events until the end of the night to see if something pans out.. I’ve met some really amazing people this way, and these moments of accepting the idea that I may be sleeping in my car and this somewhat desperate desire to find a place to crash has lead to some interesting, comfort zone expanding moments. I can’t wait to have my own place to return to the favor soon!

I need to travel, but I need a home base.

I’m realizing this about myself. It is frightening how off balance you feel when you don’t have a place to call your own. Even homeless people tend to have spaces that they consistently return to. For myself, I recognize how fortunate I am to be able to travel and meet people and be open to experiences.. but I am most definitely less confident, more unsure of myself, and struggling with my own self worth during these times. I recognize these are all just thoughts in my mind, and that I can choose to feel differently. However, I also recognize that I’ve learned this about myself.. I am a better friend, more productive, and more giving when I have my foundation securely in place. I’m excited to have that once again. Soon.

I’m having a hard time letting go.

As much as I know that I’m trying to do my best to move forward, I can’t seem to shake this feeling that I’m just running away. Maybe I’m running away from my problems. Maybe I’m only leaving to avoid ever having to interact with my ex again. Maybe I’m leaving because I don’t have what it takes to make it in San Diego. Maybe I’m leaving because many of my friends moved out of San Diego. Maybe I’m leaving because the pressure of the California Dream is too much. Maybe I’m leaving because I have a short attention span. Maybe I’m leaving because I think it’ll be easier to take this new path..

I don’t know the answer. I know that I still think about my ex every day. Every. Single. Day. And I hate that about myself. Deep down, I still hold onto this ridiculous thought that she’s going to come around and realize how great I really was.. realize how great I am. And it’s so foolish, because it implies that I have the answers, and that we could actually work out.. if you’ve read anything I’ve written before (like The Challenge with Break-ups in a Hyper Connected World), you already know that we’re not right for each other. So why do I hold on? Some moments of strength are better than others, but it’s obviously something I’m still working on. I’m working on myself. I’m working on my dreams. I’m working on moving forward.

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.” – Hermann Hesse

Finally, here are my plans for the near future:

Next week I go back to the Bay Area to play some gigs. From there, I fly to China to visit a friend in Shanghai and check out Hong Kong. Next, I fly to Singapore/Malaysia where I’ll be running academic camps for the education company for a month. Then, I’ll spend the next week traveling around Thailand trying to find new experiences to help me figure this crazy Life out. I fly back to San Francisco to play gigs for the week (and Eve) of the New Year. And then finally, it’ll be time to face my Life decisions and strap in to the Seattle adventure.

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2015: Year of New Beginnings

I gotta be honest.. I’m not as sure of myself on this one as I normally have been in the Past. And that terrifies me. Also, it reminds me that I’m pushing myself and taking a chance. This very well may be a huge mistake, but at least I’m willing to boldly make this mistake. I’ve got high hopes and big dreams, and I’m hoping to come out the other side of this one closer to being my Best Self. And as always, I’ll let you know how it’s going in the process!

Take Risks, Friends.
No one can take them for you.

So, You Wanna Go to Ireland?

Adding to the series of posts about my travels, this post is all about my time in Ireland. If you’re looking for specific travel advice, check out these Overview tips I wrote here: So You Wanna Go To Europe? Admittedly, we (my traveling companion @BrianBosen and I) did not get to see ALL of Ireland, so most of this post will be about several nights in Dublin, one day in Galway, and a quick trip to Howth. Also, because this is the first chapter of SYWGTE and Ireland was our first (and last) visit in Europe, many of the tips will include first arriving in Europe.


 

“Sláinte”
(“cheers”, but.. more on this later)

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Our first day in Dublin was purely figuring out our arrival and lodging. We mistakenly thought that Bosen’s phone would work on Wifi to keep communication on Facebook or WhatsApp. Not the case, so we had a bit of an adventure trying to figure out what we think the other person would do in the case of zero communication. WWBrianD ? (insert VideoGameHighSchool joke here) So the first piece of advice traveling with other people:

Have a solid plan when/where you’re meeting and what to do in the case of a delayed/canceled flight.
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Luckily, we’ve traveled so extensively together that we were able to accurately guess each other’s actions despite planning on meeting at Temple Bar, which we thought was a bar, but is actually an entire area of bars. We would have definitely benefitted from having a better plan, so if you’re not meeting at the airport, make sure you have a solid meet up location (know the address, the area of town, and close by landmarks in case you have to explain yourself). Once you’re settled:

Visit Temple Bar area.

What’s great about this touristy area of bars is that there tends to be live music at most of the bars. It’s full of tourists. Who cares? Go grab a Smithwick’s, don’t pronounce it phonetically, and enjoy live music in an area that embraces it. (Bonus points to whoever can tell me why John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” is so popular over there. Definitely caught me off guard.) Almost every bar we went to had talented musicians playing covers, several local drafts to choose from, and people out who are pretty friendly and like to drink beer. Dublin is the most expensive place to be in all of Ireland, so don’t be surprised if beer costs more than you would think. I was actually really really surprised that Jameson and Guinness wasn’t cheaper, but it definitely does not cost any less while you’re over there. Oh, and not really a tip, but:

Tipping is not the same as the United States.

The first night we were in Dublin, we tipped 4euro on a 12euro round of beers, and you would have thought we either transformed into small children who can’t be alone for more than 2 minutes or international VIP rock stars who must not be ignored by the bartender. This was a very normal tip for us in the States, but much more odd in Dublin (and when it happens, they love to bleed the tourists dry of their tipping cash). If the bar is really busy and you want to make sure you’ll continue getting service, tip away. Though, every time I chose not to tip, I could feel my American bartender friends smiling for every time a European has stiffed them tips.. From what people told me, bartenders in Ireland (and Europe?) are paid a “living wage” and tipping is not as socially normal as it is in the States. If you order food, then I think it was the standard 15-18% .. but feel free to ask for yourself.

Go tour the Guinness Storehouse
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It’s worth it. It’s only 18euro (probably cheaper if you order online or go in the morning). It’s a 7-story brewery, museum, beer experience. Skip pass the massive, mall-sized merchandise and souvenir shop and get straight to the tour introduction. The rest of the tour is at your own leisure with multiple options of what you want to do. Armed with our single drink tickets, we trekked through the history of Guinness, the business, aromatics, tasting room, and rooftop bar. Definitely visit the aromatics and the tasting room, where they teach you what to look for in smell and how to appropriately drink/taste this stout. We had the option of getting an official pour certificate but didn’t feel like waiting in the long line. Furthermore, we were excited to get upstairs to the Gravity Bar, which has the best near-365degree view of Dublin in the entire city. I recommend grabbing your most delicious, best-tasting Guinness ever (I’m ruined. I don’t think I can ever drink it again.) while up there. And then write about! I met a New Zealander journalist taking pictures upstairs, and he mentioned how he gets paid to travel and write about his experiences.. (uhmmm.. *cough* dream job? Did I mention, please share this blog?) Anyway, since you’re spending money seeing the Storehouse and drinking beer, you should try to save money where you can:

Go to the Grocery Store and Cook Your Own Food

Sorry, Ireland (and most of our Eurotrip).. we found your food to be terribly underwhelming (why is there no hot sauce anywhere?). And fairly expensive compared to what we can get in the States. Going to any grocery store in any foreign country is already kind of a fun, so go do it to see what different products they have, how much price varies from us, and any unusual foods that you notice. There are definitely a handful of dishes you should try that locals can tell you about, like a traditional “fry” with black pudding (not what you think it is) and a late night trip to a Chipper (french fries.. and, you’ll notice a theme across Northern Europe). Otherwise, if it’s possible, go grab food and cook it up. It’s so much cheaper, and I think the cost of eating out isn’t worth the cost of the food you’ll get.. (at least during our budget-conscious trip). There is ONE food we ate that must be done:

Go get the Fish n Chips in Howth, Ireland
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Some of the best food we had during our entire trip. We knew that we wanted to have authentic fish n chips, and we asked around for where that may be.. we were informed that a small fishing town north of Dublin is the place to go, and wow, we are so happy that we chose to do so. To get there, we were fortunate enough to get a ride from our wonderful friends, Emer and her boyfriend Garret. It was roughly a 40minute drive with quaint Irish roads with views of the water and little buildings.. It’s right on the harbor, which has countless postcard-esque picture opportunities, so walk along the seawall after you’ve enjoyed these daily caught breaded delights. You can choose the type of fish you want, how you want it cooked, and the dipping sauces that you want to come with it. There are no wrong answers. Other than the traditional cod fish n chips, we particularly liked the smoked haddock..

Take the Bus

Take public transit in general. The experience alone is a comfort zone expanding adventure. It’s definitely more difficult than just jumping into a cab or Uber, but what’s the fun in that? Try challenging yourself to get around and risk getting lost. Who cares? You’re on vacation.. you’re on an expedition. And it’s cheaper. With phone apps and the internet, it’s relatively easy to figure out how to get around and how much transportation costs. I was suggested to use CityMapper, but mainly just used Google Maps.. Ideally, order your ticket from a bus stop kiosk/machine/stand, or keep a little cash on hand and be ready to drop it in the counter up front for the driver. Even if you hold up the line like the tourist that you are, whatever. Go find a spot to sit in the middle (fairly close to the door), smile as you fight the urge to take selfies, and offer your seat if someone elderly gets on the bus. And if you get to a stop that looks like a fun place to explore, by all means.. Go make memories.

Party with Locals
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If you’ve ever partied with me before, you know that I love a good “cheers” and take this part of social drinking a huge priority of my #PartyLife experience (excessively so, at times). When you go to the Guinness Factory, they’ll teach you to say “slainte” (sounds like “slahn-cha” kinda?). And this is great and all, but if you just yell cheers and smile and clink glasses, you’re pretty much always going to be okay. I’m pretty sure that this “cheers to good health” is in old Irish (Gaelic), but is more just novelty than actual usage. If you meet fun people, strike up a conversation, buy them a beer, and ask them what pub you should all head to next. We met so many fun, wonderful (funderful?) people while out and about.

Fall in Love

I made the decision to fall in Love every chance I got in Europe. Sometimes with fellow travelers, or from people we meet out at the bars, or sometimes with a certain place that made my decision to travel seem right, even sometimes from a 5minute conversation with a server at a pub. Keep falling in Love. I think it opens up your heart/mind for the experience of travel whether from a certain beer or food that reminds you you’re on an adventure or maybe from that beautiful blonde in Dublin whom you have a great connection with.. Love is openness, travel is experience, so I chose to Love the experience and all the people/places that came with it (more on this in a future post). While out on a Thursday night, we were told we had to do this:

 Go to Galway
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So the next day, we took a bus and checked out Galway for a night and day. Do it! It’s smaller and feels like a more authentic Ireland experience. All of the restaurants, bars, hostels, and everything are all within walking distance of each other, and everyone is really friendly and on vacation. It’s very much a weekend destination, so be aware of what day it is and book your hostel early (or couch surf). We met a number of incredible people and laughed the evening away. The night life is fun, but remember that partying can be done anywhere.. make sure you get rest so that you can:

Go see the Cliffs of Moher
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By far, this was the most breath-taking natural wonder that I witnessed during my trip. There is some amazing footage of the cliffs that I’ll post another time (Thanks GoPro!), but you must go see it for yourself. These cliffs are the second tallest in all of Europe, and from what we were told, they have the most spectacular view. (Though, we did almost go to the Aran Isles instead of Cliffs of Moher solely because it sounded like people were saying “Iron Isles” and we love Game of Thrones, so yea.) Anyway, these cliffs are gorgeous and at the top of my list for something you must see while in Ireland. Seeing these cliffs and listening to all the history and stories that we were told on the tour bus rides definitely felt touristy but felt right. Go see the Cliffs of Moher!


If you’ve been to Ireland and have any other suggestions, please add them in a comment or contact me!

 Travel Safe. Travel Fun.
Love Life. Live Your Dream.

Go check out Ireland, Friends!

Belgium Bus Ride and a Letter to Myself

(Grand Place: Brussels, Belgium)
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     It was around 11:00am on a bus from London to Brussels. We had missed our 8am bus to Bruges and the reality of this adventure was first settling in. Heading to Belgium was a turning point in the trip, because it was the first place where we didn’t know anybody or anything about where we were going. Since we missed the bus to Bruges, we had to forego the plans we had for the evening with a couch surfer friend and the hostel we had already booked. Now that we were on our way to Brussels instead, this Eurotrip felt real.

     On the fringe of my comfort zone is where I do the best reflecting. As I’m forced to face the feelings of the moment, I’m able to clearly see the parallels with familiar feelings from the Past. There’s a certain level of discomfort that goes with not knowing what’s going to happen next.. and I now see how I’ve held this same discomfort in my relationships. It’s funny how easily I could switch my mindset from Bruges to Brussels, but how stubborn I’ve been in the Past when I relationship goes in a direction I wasn’t expecting. I’ve learned to acknowledge my own faults and recognize when I’m using someone else’s faults to hide my own. Now that I’m able to focus on when I’m projecting versus communicating, I’ve become really hard on myself and my Past decisions. I’ve been too willing to accept all of the blame for the failures in my relationships. But a relationship involves two people. And these relationships are in the Past. The reality is this.. I cannot change my Past. All I can do is take what I’ve learned to move forward. So in an effort to bridge to Past to who I want to be.. I’ve decided to write a letter for my Present Self.


Dear Self,

I accept you. It’s okay that you weren’t perfect in every moment. It’s okay that you made mistakes. It’s okay that you didn’t know then what you know now, because this is how Life Lessons are learned. You are strong. You are confident. You are going to accomplish Great things. Stay focused on what is important and embrace everything that you have to offer.. even when it feels like it isn’t enough. It is enough. You are enough. Remember that it’s okay to have doubts, but that these doubts do not define you or make decisions for you. You are in control of your future. Allow yourself to be Happy. Let go of the Past that you’re holding onto that isn’t allowing you to move forward. I forgive you.

Sincerely,
Work in Progress.


 

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     I’ve gotten so used to the accusatory texts from my ex-gf that state how everything wrong in our relationship was entirely my fault.. but that’s not fair. At some point, I need to remember that it takes two people to be together. Both have a responsibility, and there’s a lot to be said for the reality that sometimes those two people just don’t belong together. Regardless of how bad one or each of them want it to work, there are circumstances that just don’t work. Love is a real bitch like that sometimes. We need to be self-aware enough to recognize when something just isn’t working and strong enough to make the right decision. The allure of what is comfortable, what is there, and what you’ve already worked so hard for can be very tempting.. but once you know that it isn’t right, you are only sparing your heart (and theirs) by having the strength to wish them well and move on. I suck at this. I have such a fear of being alone and dying alone and wondering if I’ll ever find somebody else who will accept me for who I am. I’ve worked so hard to be more accepting of the people around me.. who they are, their strengths and faults, but what’s the use in being accepting if I’m still learning to Accept Myself.

I’ll never find True Love if I don’t truly Love my Self. Just as I do in others, I need to accept my overconfident ego-driven facade, as well as truly love the genuine depths of my flaws, worries, disappointments, and unfulfilled dreams. In this, there is true strength.

The Strength in Self-Acceptance..
Be Strong, Friends.