Life is 10 percent of what happens to you and 90 percent of how you react to it. – Charles R. Swindoll
Today embarks a major milestone–a landmark that I feel should be shared and celebrated with so many people, because this amazing journey would not have been possible without so many individuals in helping me to achieving this remarkable feet! I've learned throughout life to show gratitude by pausing to appreciate both accomplished successes and having a genuine attitude of thankfulness. Therefore, with today's blog, I feel that this is something many of you can also pause for a moment and know you have helped be apart of this very large milestone! Everyone from my parents, to my amazing sisters and their incredibly amazing husbands and families, my brothers (whom are my cousins, but I consider them to be brothers) Dave and Mike, one of my many great mentors, Mike Vlad, my Cali boys and best college roommate, Jesse the Fyter, all of the amazing colleagues I worked with for 12-years in broadcast television including all the amazing freelancers in Denver (long live all those early morning setups and long late night strikes fellas), the incredible group of friends in Colorado including my softball teams that won numerous undefeated championships with, my boy Schlim, and to all the incredible friends that I've met throughout the past four-years that live throughout the globe! Seriously, THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart!
Once again, and I know I've mentioned this before numerous times, but I could have never imagined exactly four-years ago that it might be possible to still be out traveling this many years later! Often before leaving Denver, Colorado on that cold winter morning in March and after selling nearly every material possession I owned, I imagined that I could easily have returned to the United States; unemployed, moving back in with my parents or friends, and having a feeling a defeat, but this was sort of a risk that I was willing to make in order to live out a dream, and I knew that with all dreams there are sacrifices to be made!
For those that don't know me or haven't heard what I was willing to give up to pursue a dream, I'd like to begin by saying that I was NOT unhappy with my life nor was I running away or searching for something feeling lost, but it was quite the opposite. First, I wrestled with this decision for nearly a year, having my own doubts, because I knew what I would be giving up essentially.
I gave up the luxury of my four-bedroom three-bathroom very comfortable bachelor pad of a home that I purchased in 2002, but thankfully was blessed with an amazing tenant–a single-mother that was able to call my home hers and raise her children for four-years–I cannot thank her enough for taking care of my home so well these past four years. I also resigned from HDNet (AXStv) as the Program Manager, which was an incredibly difficult decision–one that I at one point I actually asked my former boss, Rachael, about delaying my resignation date, but thankfully she declined this as told me that interviews for my position were already underway, thank you Rachael for not letting my self-doubts keep me from beginning an entirely new chapter of my life!
For those that truly know me best, know that I don't make big decisions on a whim. I'm an individual that is very methodical and analytical, one that was not the biggest fan of surprises or change–something that of course would change as a budget traveler–I was also one that could be called a bit of a homebody and was a creature of routine. So as brave as you may think I may be, I still had my own doubts and anxieties!
While solo travel and backpacking were not entirely foreign to me, the last time I had attempted such a trip was when I was about 21 or 22 and headed off to Europe by myself for nearly 6-weeks. And, as I look back at this experience I view this–as I always have felt that everything in life happens for a reason and while we may not be able to recognize it at the time by life surprises you with these past experiences–as sort of a foundation for travel, especially what NOT to do, haha. This first trip to Europe I ended up often going way outside my budget, abandoning dorms in hostels for the comforts of hotels (stupidly paying around $400 for one night at the Hilton located directly next to the Eiffel Tower as an example), and this was a necessary experience to teach me that if I was going to do this, that I had to be EXTREMELY disciplined with both my budget and mentally preparing for the budget traveler's living environments of dorm life.
I'll tell you what, it's not the easiest thing going from living alone and sleeping in an extremely amazing pillow top queen size mattress, which I will admit I often do miss, and a spacious bathroom with an incredible high-pressure faucet that I installed to sleeping in bunk beds at the age of 30 and sharing sleeping arrangements with snoring monsters and showering in communal bathrooms that many people would without hesitation LITERALLY would view a dingy Motel 6 as a five-star penthouse suite at the Bellagio compared to some of the places I've slept and called home. This again is the UNGLAMOROUS side of being a budget traveler.
Even as I set out on a one-way ticket bound for Belize uncertain and unsure where life may lead me or take me, but living entirely on faith, because I know that many colleagues, friends, and possibly family members thought I was having a quarter-life crisis or searching for something, but in reality this was something that I had always felt was going to eventually be part of my life, even as a teenager. I know that I spent a lot of time talking with my brother Dave about this, and I have to give him credit in many ways for being the first of my closest friends to have the courage, even in spite of people questioning his decision to join the military, and to leave behind family and friends as well as the state of Colorado. Salut, mi amigo, often my partner in many shenanigans and crime while growing up! I've learned that courage in the face of adversity is often a path you must walk alone. The life lessons that I've learned throughout the past four-years have legitimately and beyond questioned pushed me to my limits physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and etc.
I have no problem admitting that there were numerous times that I contemplated whether or not I should return to the States and if it were time to end this journey. Yet, with each difficult experience, once again I was not haste to make decisions and often had to fight through many obstacles. I feel that I've seen some of the best in humanity and sadly some of the worst, I've learned what I want to continue to strive to become and most certainly what I do not, I've learned that life is a constant journey no matter what the situations may be and where you may call home. Life is difficult friends and it's how you respond to adversity that will either develop your character or allow you to become one of those individuals that sadly goes through the motions of life just kind of waiting to reach a plateau instead of continually striving to become something more.
I know that often people on social media only see the beautiful photographs of some of the places I've been fortunate and blessed to stand and take in, BUT, what many of you do not see is the 14-hour bus rides, being scammed by everyone from taxi drivers to immigration officers, overcoming the physical and mental exhaustion especially among language barriers and sanitation difficulties, and this makes me wonder exactly how many people would be able to endure much of what it took to get to some of these beautiful locations to snap a photo
just to post it to Instragram? I will be honest here and say probably less than 5% of the people I know back in the States. This isn't to be a knock to any of you by any means, it's just an example to demonstrate that again my life isn't all roses and sunshine. There have been more gloomy days than if I would have just stayed in Colorado and kept advancing through my professional career. And, therefore I want to continue to hopefully inspire you to challenge yourself. Challenge your ideals. Challenge your faith. Challenge your work ethic. Challenge and grow in all aspects of your life and pursue the dreams that you may have by beginning to make changes even now and working hard towards something that may seem impossible.
Well in closing, as I have found myself waking up naturally between 4am-6am daily, and running yet another entrepreneurial venture– this time without any partners–I do have some things to get done today as I was awake 10-minutes before 5am here in Seoul, therefore I apologize for any misspellings and grammatical mistakes. I just wanted to continue to thank everyone in helping me to celebrate this amazing milestone! I will end with a nice Korean proverb (고생 끝에 낙이 온다) pronunciation: Go-saeng Ggeut-eh naki eun-da and the literal meaning is "at the end of hardship comes happiness." I couldn't sum it up better in terms that many sacrifices have been made but through trials and hardships life truly is how you tend to perceive it and how you react to situations you cannot control. Therefore, I hope to continue to encourage and inspire people to get out of their comfort zones and to find ways to share their happiness with others through pursuing and using your own God-given talents!