24 Jun

Monday Moment: Chai-Wallah, Jhunjhunu, India

Chai-wallah Stand, Jhunjhunu, India

While in northern India we hired a car and driver (that’s Laxman with his back to the camera) to take us from site to site, town to town.

The first day of the drive he pulled into a tourist restaurant complex on the side of the highway for us to have some lunch. It was a bland, banal affair with jacked up prices and toned down food. We got back in the car after lunch and asked him not to stop at places like this again. We agreed that each day we would stop for breakfast and lunch at spots that he, personally, would usually stop at.

This turned out to be a decision that showed us the ‘local’ way of life but also mostly had us wondering when, not if, we would be sick.

This was a typical afternoon stop at a chai-wallah, or Indian tea, stand. It was as dirty as you imagine it to be; my only solace being that the milk and tea were heated to beyond boiling. We may have burned our fingers endlessly trying to hold the tiny, hot, glass cups and our tongues on the scalding liquid but we never, ever, got Delhi Belly.

17 Jun

Want To Be Successful? Surround Yourself With Better People And Level Up

Photo Credit: The Thinking Doll

It’s been seven months since my last day of cubicle work. A lot has happened since then. We sold all our stuff, visited family and friends for a while, moved to Chiang Mai in Thailand, started The Global Bookshelf, and set ourselves on an entrepreneurial path with all the ups and downs that go along with that.

The best thing we did though? Surround ourselves with passionate, motivated, forward-thinking, successful people.

Chiang Mai is a hub for digital entrepreneurs. The laid back vibe of the city, coupled with a warm climate, cheap living, and fast internet means that there is a large community of people making an unconventional living.

It took a while, and it meant really stepping out into uncomfortable to make ourselves go to the meetups, but we wormed our way in and were left nothing short of super inspired.

I realized that we always underplay our successes. I met people that I already knew on-line; people I consider successful and ahead of me. My confidence soared as I found that I actually know more than I realize and am just as successful as these friends. I just need to start using what I know rather than hiding behind always thinking I need to learn more. More action and less preparation.

I found that even the most innocuous of conversations can be a learning event. I would learn about a new process or method while chatting to someone while at our workout sessions. I would find out about a new tool or website while sharing a beer at one of the fabulous dinners our friends would host. I just needed to step out and take the time to ask the questions. Almost every single conversation I had ended with me running home to research whatever I had unearthed.

I now know just how hard people are working to make their dream come true. Being surrounded by successful people means being surrounded by some of the hardest working people I have ever met. The hours people are putting in, the innovative ideas they are generating, and the dedication they have left me reeling. It’s the difference between knowing the kind of time people are putting in and realizing just how much time that really is. I was left impressed and quickly recognized that we need to step it up.

It’s challenging to surround yourself with people who are better than you. It’s comfortable to stay in a familiar circle relying on what you know and feeling confident in your abilities. It’s more than worth it to step out and see what you can learn.

Two things I have learned:

  1. You know more than you think you know. Once I started talking to people I realized that my knowledge base is quite wide and deep and that often, even if I don’t know something, I can relate it to what I do know. Turns out that the chasm between what I want to know and what I do know isn’t that big.
  2. People want to help. They are willing to answer questions, tell you what they’re up to, and share their hard earned secrets. No, they’re not going to tutor you but if you listen closely, ask questions, and respect what it is they do, answers will result and then it’s up to you.

I had no idea of all the different things people were up to. Meeting so many digital entrepreneurs here has opened my eyes to the myriad of ways that people are out there making a living. Sure, it’s not all for me but I have learned something from every single person I have met. I can only hope that perhaps I have helped someone along the way also.

Success is definitely more than just what you know, it’s also about who you know and what you can learn from them. Agree?


10 Jun

Monday Moment: BOH Tea Plantation, Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

BOH TeaHouse, Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

The Cameron Highlands of Malaysia are a cool oasis from the hot, humid lowlands below.

I was surprised by the modern architecture of the BOH Tea House on the grounds of the plantation. I don’t know what I was expecting but it sure wasn’t this Frank Lloyd Wright reminiscent piece of work that jutted out over the tea fields below.

Others might have expected something a little more rustic, but I think it added to the scenery perfectly.

03 Jun

What Happens If The Worst Happens?

What would you do if something happened to your family? That’s one of the first questions people ask when they learn that we travel long term.

Our answer has always been that we would return home should ever the need arise. That we live a life that affords us the opportunity to be anywhere and that includes where ever we may need to be.

We haven’t lived near our hometowns, or families, for quite some time even before we chose a life of travel. In fact, our new travel life has only improved our situation in this regard. We can pick up and leave at a moments notice; being where we need to be without worry of job security, time constraints, or, for the most part, funding considerations.

It means that, for us, the ‘what happens if the worst happens?’ question is better answered now than it ever was.

Which is fortunate because we now find ourselves in a position to have to answer the question directly.

We learned last week that a family member is ill and so we have left Chiang Mai and returned to Canada. Although we are terribly sad that our summer plans have changed so drastically, we are also relieved to be able to return to help out where needed.

It’s an interesting emotional journey to get here. I’ll be honest here because the ‘what happens if the worst happens’ question deserves it.

After the shock of learning that a loved one is ill enough to warrant our return we sat on it for a day or so. We had made flight arrangements, managed leaving our apartment early, canceled rental agreements we had made for the summer, and withdrew from job competitions; all the stuff that needed immediate attention. And then we just didn’t tell anyone.

Telling people would make it real and, somehow, I just wasn’t ready yet. We needed to grieve a bit; feel sorry for ourselves and let the sadness find its place. So we moped a bit, had a few drinks too many, and got ready to meet it all head on.

It’s not selfish to do so. It’s reality. Often there can be guilt around thinking of ourselves; I think that’s bullshit. I don’t want to, and won’t, wallow in it but there is a place for grieving for what would have been, for realizing what you’re losing, and for coming to terms with the situation. And then it’s time to pull on the big-girl panties.

We’re here now, in Canada, getting ready for what might come, grateful that we can continue with our projects where ever we are, and proud of ourselves for being in a position to be able to help.

It goes to show that the one question that is often a hurdle for people actually has an answer that should remove the hurdle.