Where have you been?

And so it seems, with that last post, I completely vanished off the face of the earth.

However, that is clearly not the case as demonstrated by this post here.

The past four months have been some of the most intense times of my life – but hey, I made it out alright and that’s all it matters.

I’m weathered, older and wiser.

On top of that, I’ve traveled to more places, met more interesting people, matured through laughter and heartache.

But mostly heartache.

Apparently, that’s the main driver behind life these days.

But even so I’ve managed to pacify and make peace with.

There are things take needs taken care of before I move on to the next steps and of course, I will have time on my hands now to recount them and regather myself.

Moving forward.

What to do when things simply aren’t working out

It’s been 48 hours.

48 hours since I’ve returned and it isn’t a happy reunion.

In the past 48 hours, I’ve had a lot of time – not only to myself but also to visiting friends. Yes – seeing my friends who’s visiting me was great, but after we parted ways, I realized how I was only having fun because my attention was them, and not what was around me.

Again, I don’t care for my own city.

I was due for work – walking out the door, and then realizing I was about to waste an entire day doing nothing I wanted was a complete waste of time.

Sure, I was going to be paid, but that’s not good enough anymore.

I ended up turning back and heading straight home and writing that letter of resignation that contained only 2 lines – Hi, please consider this short email a letter of formal resignation. I quit.

There.

Now that’s done, I’m looking at the countdown on my phone.

87 days until I’m out of here again.

87 days to make it count.

I know full well of what’s at stake.

But I’m not afraid anymore, like I was used to.

If I was to think about this clearly, I was only scared and clinging onto that job I should’ve given up a long time ago because I didn’t want to go deal with the pandora box I’m about to open.

Having a “job” was the safe option, but that option will lead me to nowhere.

I know that.

So.

It is time for a new and exhilarating adventure.

A different kind of thrill.

We are what we repeatedly do – Aristotle

2000 something years later, this statement still holds true.

I’m used to going to bed late at night, then feeling completely plastered in the morning.

I’m used to doing things last minute, because of poor planning.

I’m used to misuse of my imagination over worrying for worst case scenarios.

I’m used to being cynical and stopping myself from doing what I really want to do out of several types of fear.

I’m used to misusing my energy, because of inner chaos.

And I realized, all of these unnecessary fretting really doesn’t help at all.

The older I get, the more I know myself – through experiences and retrospective observations – the outlines of what I ultimately want are getting clearer.

 

I know that what I’ve been repeatedly doing is detrimental, but when you’re caught in a never ending loop without much hope for change – because everything is the same – you’re in the same city, doing the same job, seeing the same people, thinking the same thoughts – it’s hard to break out of a rut – truly.

We are what we repeatedly do – Aristotle

So I rebelled.

I said “no” to all that bothered me.

I did something different.

I went somewhere different.

I met new people.

I tried new things, had successes and failures in various aspects of my life – the highs and lows – I didn’t shy away from either – but the thing is – things weren’t perfect, yet I made them work – I realized, I could handle so much more in my life than what I had thought to be possible.

Namely:

  1. Being uncomfortable: Ever been to a party where you knew practically no one? Check.
  2. Swallowing pride: Starting a conversation with someone whom you thought was ignoring you, but it turns out they’re just busy. The old me would never do this…the old me would’ve let those worries run amok and shrivelled up in my shell of self doubt.
  3. Making things happens: Surprising your friend and yourself by your party planning skills.
  4. Bounce back from fatal mistakes: Having a little too much fun in club and being helped home by a friend. Opps. Don’t ask me to party for the next 3 months…
  5. Stand up for what I believe is right: Helping someone out even though it makes little sense to other people, but for you its the righteous thing to do.
  6. Letting things go that doesn’t serve the bigger picture: Realizing fully that I’m only behind the wheels of my own life, and not anyone else’s. Therefore, I am completely detached from anything that doesn’t concern me and my attention directly.
  7. Spending time with people who matter: because these are the moments and the memories you will cherish and remember.
  8. Turn thoughts into action a priority: but all in all, taking all of this experiences and recognize that if you didn’t take the initiative to be creative, or put your thoughts into action in time, then none of the wonderful and not so wonderful things would’ve happened – for better for worse, you should continue this adventurous streak even when you’re back in the other city.

The past month was about experiences. It was about doing things I would never do normally and breaking through barriers, regaining confidence, and a sense of balance despite all the chaos.

And that’s exactly the most invaluable thing about the trip, the experiences that I’m taking home with me and knowing that across from the ocean I have not only promises to fulfill, but bigger and better projects, and magical moments waiting for me for when I get back.

How to be Amazing

Recently, I’ve had the pleasure to have a truly inspirational person visit me for a week in the Netherlands (cue to my MIA status on here).

And in that week’s time, I’ve learned so much, not only about myself, but about life in general – you could say I was inspired to no ends.

Now, let me explain a little bit on the background story with this quote by Bill Murray:

Friendship is so weird.. you just pick a human you’ve met and you’re like “yep I like this one” and you just do stuff with them

And that’s sort of what happened in October last year.

You meet someone by chance.

They’re on your frequency.

You soon start exchanging not only words, but your hopes, fears and dreams.

This person then inspires you to no end, because they make you curious about the world again – they challenge your world views, sometimes shaking up the already established status quo – they make you do a double take on the world, a double take on yourself and a double take on the relation you have to the world.

They make you want to be a better human, not even for superficial reasons.

And yet, you then look at them and realize that they too are just human.

Flaws and all.

 

And for that reason, you are both baffled and intrigued when you glean into their day to day.

Despite your admiration.

You know what you’re seeing is not perfection, but it’s a lot closer than what other people (you included) have achieved thus far.

Still, they’re like a mirror – reflecting back that it’s possible to achieve what you want to achieve.

And of course, this led me to wonder – if I should gather all of my idols and put them on a common denominator – what is it about these great figures that I absolutely admire?  I started the exercise in my mind. Listing out all of the qualities that I truly admire from them and how much of it only took practice and perseverance.

So, in short, how to be amazing?

Know that it is possible to achieve what you want for yourself and go achieve it.

Amsterdam: The perfect city and what it all means.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure to be out and about in Amsterdam once more. One might expect it was all a fairytale moment, with the sun peeking through the clouds and the birds singing and in the distance there’s Prince Charming galloping on his steed to meet me…or something along the lines of that.

It wasn’t as if I haven’t anticipated this moment enough.

Stepping off from the train at Centraal, I was excited. But I was also aware that it was dark, gloomy, and raining. There has been several thunderstorms over the weekend in the place I’m staying, just a little under an hour away. So, I wasn’t exactly expecting any different. Oh and of course, it was also windy as hell.

Shitty weather? Check.

Still, I was excited as ever.

After all, I was here in April? Hah.

I skipped off the train and headed into the city. The central station is as I remembered, as is everything else – except it was covered up all in a shade of clammy greyness from the weather – I went ahead and started to run errands in the city I was just reacquainted with, then I found a work-cafe I’d been eyeing online and went there to caffeinate, followed by some shopping and then some post-shopping falafel eating at one of my favourite falafel places before going home.

It was a very productive day indeed. Then I went home and turned on social media, seeing posts from my friends back home tagging familiar places which I don’t miss – it was as if seeing those places gave me more motivation to work hard to get out (oddly to the inner monologue of Rose in Titanic, “the same boring people, the same boring endless conversations until eternity.” ) And that’s exactly what I DON’T want in life.

And yesterday, I realized, it’s gonna take a lot more work to achieve just what I want, but also a city doesn’t have to be perfect – the reasons why you think a city is perfect, or perfect for you, is at your discretion. After all we give meaning to the narrative in our heads. What makes sense to us internally might not make sense to others externally. Yet, if that narrative in your head gives you purpose, then it is up to you to give that purpose a go and see where it leads.

Because really, what is life?

Is it destiny?

Is it destination?

Work-caytion 2016 begins now!

I have the next twenty days to myself.

Meaning, I have the next twenty days (480 hours) to be completely in control of my own life, my schedule, who I see, where I go – I don’t think I’ve had that level of freedom in a long time.

It is currently some ungodly hour on GMT + 1 and I’m bubbling over with a sugar rush from chocolate and the sheer excitement of being here (okay, so maybe I’m a little bit jetlagged too).

I have great things that I have planned, both alone and with friends. And for the next twenty days I will see those plans to fruition and go home refreshed.

Here’s what’s different about this time rather than the past number of times I’ve been to Europe.

I will be stationary for the next 20 days (for except day trips to other nearby cities).

I wouldn’t be moving around as much.

Why?

Because traveling too fast is exhausting – for both your energy levels and your bank account.

I can only speak for myself, but I can’t possibly get anything worthwhile done, when I’m going around different cities in a whirlwind – as I’ve found out last time, by the time I stopped for 3 short days in Amsterdam then went to Vienna for a week, all I had wanted to do was to sleep. Not only did I not have the energy to do anything in Vienna, but it’d feel like that time was wasted – and I’m not a fan of time-wasting.

Not only that, cluttering your schedule with tasks and sights takes the enjoyment out from the traveling experience (and this is another reason why, I almost always do solo traveling, as with others, compromises will have to be made).

So now it’s 4:12 AM. I’m making up a day’s plan and delegating tasks, a great start of the day I’d say.

WestJet Transatlantic Review: Cheap Flights to Gatwick

For what it was worth and for what I paid – which was around 200 USD in total, I can’t really complain – the fare was phenomenally cheap – however, now I know why. I don’t have previous Transatlantic experience with WestJet, in fact they’ve only been offering their Transatlantic flights since the beginning of May and I was eager to hop on board to see what the fuss is about, especially, how they stack up to rival European budget airlines like Norwegian Air (which by the way is one of my favorite airlines of all time).

From the start, it all looked promising, the boarding procedure went smooth, the staff were friendly and the seats were comfortable (though, the WestJet 767-300 isn’t as comfortable as Norwegian Air’s 787-800.)

However, with the WestJet base fare, things like seat selection and meals are to be bought separately – and so I ordered ahead of time a seat and a meal. Drinks too, of the alcoholic variety, are for purchase (unlike various other major airlines.)

While the seat was no problem, the meal came as a great shocker – wait, was this actually made for human consumption?

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To begin with, the mashed potato was dry, the meat was rubbery, and the vegetables tasteless. The only edible thing in there was probably the brownie. 

Luckily, I had packed a separate salad from WholeFoods ahead of time, so I ate that while chatting to my seat mate. However, my experience with WestJet only seem to get worse after that – because the staff apparently didn’t bother with garbage collection until well after the meal. I was a little ticked by the lack of efficiency and got up to give them the tray myself so I could use the washroom and not deal with it later.

Then after I came back from the washroom my seat mate told me that they’d only began collecting trash because I’d complained.

Oh, how nice to know.

Then a couple hours later – we were served another ‘meal’ except, it couldn’t be hardly called that – apple slices and a piece of banana bread ? Really?

Not exactly what I was looking forward to eating.

Horrible food experience and timing onboard aside, the flight experience itself was good. But would I do it again for the cheap fare and horrible food? Most likely not, especially when their European rival Norwegian Air offers more pleasant experience with more competitive offerings.

The inspiration behind working anywhere

This is a picture I took at Schloss Schönbrunn of me, well, working. My phone prompted important emails for me to answer and I thought, since I had my laptop with me, why not sit down and type it out – as it’s way faster – so there I was, sitting in front of one of the most important architectural, cultural and historical monuments in Austria and typing away.

How totally North American of me to work on “vacation”, or so my friends would say.

The thing is though, I used to dislike when I was contacted during my personal time, however now I realize that comes with any job – there are going to be emergencies, there are going to be times when there’s no choice but to plop down anywhere and deal with the situation. Instead of shrinking away from the responsibilities, one must be prepared to take care of them no matter where they were.

So if this was already the case, why couldn’t you work for yourself anywhere? The principle is the same. Only you’d be in direct line of communication with clients rather than management etc. and in which case, it might just be easier since emails are not passed on and issues could be dealt with first hand.

Home: things I didn’t know I’d miss until I wandered afar

Familiarity of home was one thing I didn’t think I’d miss all that much when I began to travel.

Why should I miss a familiar place when all I had for it was contempt?

Though now, I do have a different perspective. I’m going to enjoy myself no matter where I am, or how I am.

First day back was easy. I started slow, easing myself into the day, surprisingly though, I’m not experiencing any jet lag after flying for 14 hours and not catching a wink on the plane.

I decided to treat myself today – and treat myself I mean, picking up some fresh fish and cooking it – I’ve been traveling and eating on the go and admittedly, the stuff you’d usually eat might not be available at the destination – or it might be exorbitantly expensive, or ill-fitted for your tastebuds.

For example, I challenge you to try and find fresh seafood in Vienna (possibly difficult feat.)

And of course my diet has been a little atrocious as of late…

Read: Schnitzel, schnitzel, schnitzel, sausage, cake, apfelstrudel, cake schnitzel sandwich, beer, beer, wine, wine…wine…and more wine…

I went a little all out there and ended up missing vegetables and home cooking.

So today, first day back, I decided to cook for myself and the result is – healthy, delicious, home cooked food that I didn’t think I would miss, but really really did miss.

 

How to achieve the results you seek

If someone asked me this question before my trip, I’d give them the reflexive answer:

“Work hard! And don’t stop until you get there!”

Well – yes, hard work is required, there’s no doubt about that, but to facilitate the outmost productivity in one’s day (ex: think about an orange juicer – cheap with many parts that don’t work well together and a more expensive and sleek looking one that can be calibrated to give the most output and overtime equates to less cleanup time and headache on your part) which one would you prefer?

In other words, you don’t want to wake up everyday without a plan – not knowing how to use your precious 24 hours. It’s easy to get lazy and not want to do things – it’s also easy to lay in bed until 1pm, ‘thinking’ about what you’re going to do, and only do them when you realize it’s 3pm in the afternoon already. Clearly, this route about things is not productive at all.

So, how do you achieve the result you seek?

I say work backwards.

Look at the results you want and work backwards from there.

It is always better to give yourself plenty of time by over-estimating than under-estimating how much hours you need to put in to get something done.

Say you estimate something will take 100 hours to complete and you have 2 weeks to do it.

Depending on your preferences, you could divide that 100 hours up to neat 8 hour days, or alternatively you could work 10 hours or even 12 hours straight to get it finished in less time, so, in the case of 10 hours / day you could take 4 days off to do as you please, knowing that the project is finished and submitted.

Setting your own hours and working flexibly changes the game completely. How I see and experience travel now is not the same as taking a ‘vacation’ anymore. I still manage to work remotely, albeit on much reduced hours, still, work is work. And in my previous post: “how much work can you expect to do while traveling?” the case becomes, how well did you pre-plan your day to day activity around this chunk of time you’ll have to sit down and ignore all distractions? And depending on the timezone you’re on, you might have to wake up at odd hours to conference. Ultimately, my goal is that I could work anywhere, just like I’m back home. Whether there is an office space, or I’m in a cafe, working away. It shouldn’t make much of a difference to me.

And since I’m currently packing to head home for a couple of weeks. I’ve set up this calendar. Since my ultimate goal is overlooking environment and being able to work anywhere – I did some preplanning of the next 3 weeks – that way, I can ensure there’s reduced chances of any last minute surprises and forge on ahead smoothly.