Me hiking in Malana

The Price I’m Paying for My Freedom

I think many people read my travel blog and assume I’m living a glamorous life traveling the world. It’s true, I’m traveling the world, but it’s far from glamorous. Other people think I’m having a mid-life crisis or am being selfish. The fact is, I’ve made a very calculated decision to make some serious life changes. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and I’ve always wanted to travel, and I’m blessed to be doing what I love. But I’ve had to give up many things I like so that I can do things that I love. I’m paying a heavy price for my freedom and here are just a few of the sacrifices I’m making.

Relationships

It’s hard to have a romantic relationship of any sort when you’re traveling constantly. I left someone I love behind in India and I’m avoiding dating now until I have a more stable lifestyle. I’m missing out on seeing friends and spending time with my family. I had to say goodbye to my most loyal companion, my dog Ozzie, who is now being cared for by some dear friends.

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Hiking in India

Damn, I’m 50. What an Extraordinary Trip It’s Been

Frankly, I can’t believe I’ve lived this long. For those of you that don’t know me personally, I have lived a pretty extraordinary life. I’m a preacher’s kid, and as a result of having conservative beliefs forced upon me, was a very rebellious teenager. At one point in my life I shot up drugs, ran away from home, and lived on the streets of Portland. I came dangerously close to ending my life. Yet here I am turning 50 years old. I am healthier and happier than I’ve ever been in my life. I am blessed to be living the life of my dreams, but the journey, from there to here, has been rough.

 

It’s funny what a person thinks about at such big milestones, like turning 50. I think about childhood friends, my mother who passed away from cancer in 2004. I think about mistakes I’ve made and the people who have had such a profound impact on my life. People like my brother, Brent, my business mentor and dear friend, Susan, and my editor, Sonya. These people, and many others, have reached out to me in my darkest hours when times were so tough I couldn’t manage on my own. I am so grateful for the love and kindness that has been gifted to me throughout my lifetime so far. Yes, when I look in the mirror I see inevitable signs of aging that I struggle to accept, new grey hairs, more wrinkles, spots…what’s up with the damn spots?  But I am blessed to be celebrating this milestone. Many people don’t make it this this far. I have two nephews that died in early childhood. So, for them, and for everyone who loves me, these are the reasons I’m glad I’m 50 years old.

Sunrise

My Transition Home and Alarming New Observations About America

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been adjusting to life back in the USA for a while. Surprisingly, it has been every bit as difficult as my first few weeks in India. My time in India changed me, in every way possible. In fact, I’m writing a book about it. I’m not the same person that left here feeling anxious and lost a year and half ago.  I’ve grown tremendously, and as a result, I’m noticing things that I didn’t before. Here are some things that I’ve observed about Americans since I’ve gotten back, and they are some of the things that have made my transition feel a bit unsettling.

Americans are too damn busy

I came home with an extensive list of things to do because I had been gone for a long time. I had deferred maintenance stuff to take care of on my house. I had to file my taxes, get new eye glasses, go to the dentist, visit friends, etc.  But what has fascinated me most is that all my friends and family are even busier than I am. I’ve already been home almost a month, and there are many friends I still haven’t seen because they haven’t been able to squeeze me into their busy schedules. Americans are all on a hamster wheel, running around in circles checking things off their massive To-Do list. Rarely, do we just sit and enjoy each other’s company. In other cultures, people often start the day with tea or coffee and just visit with strangers.

We have become a bunch of human doings, not human beings.

In America, I don’t see many people just being in the moment, relaxed and enjoying the present. Instead, Americans are too busy thinking about what they need to do next. I find it alarming now. It causes stress and anxiety. It isolates us from one another. It’s the reason that I’ve decided to break the chains of corporate greed and work for myself again. It’s why I’ve decided to travel so much. When I travel, I feel like I am enjoying the present moment and engaging in this day, these people and this place. I’m not preoccupied with bills to pay and errands to run.

View from my apartment in India

Living and Working in India: The Hassle Factor

After living and working in India for 6 months now, I can tell you that much of the time I feel like everything is just a big hassle here. Getting things accomplished in India requires a lot of patience, and those that know me best, know that is not one of my best traits.  Nothing, even the simplest things, are ever easy!  Here are some of many examples.

Buying data for for corporate use

We opened a corporate account with a local telecom carrier so that we could more easily make changes to our plans.  This would give us the option for “post paid”, versus pre paid, meaning they would bill us for our data usage instead of having to pay up front. Initially they asked for about 10 documents, such as articles of incorporation, a letter of explanation on company letterhead, copy of the directors passport, etc.  Each page of every document had to be stamped and signed.  After jumping through all these hoops we finally successfully opened an account. A few days later I went into the store to make some changes to our data plans only to find out that I have to provide originals of all those documents EVERY time we want to make any changes.