So you’ve missed me, huh? Your life just hasn’t been the same without that weekly dose of, “What in God’s name is she talking about?!” Well, as it turns out, I’ve been going through some… uh… changes. Not to worry, I still have all my lady parts and it’s nothing of the werewolf/full moon variety though I have been watching a shit ton of Buffy the Vampire Slayer lately so maybe something strange actually is a-brewing.
I’ll get to that but first I’d like to share how I got to here, hopefully answer a question I’ve been asked so much lately, impart some situation comedy inspiration, and… actually, Angel just showed up at Buffy’s prom so I totes can’t talk right now!
Let’s just cue black and white flashback sequence…
‘Twas late September 2014 and I was somewhere over the Atlantic on a plane to Iceland. An episode of How I Met Your Mother played serendipitously on my seat-back TV and I couldn’t resist watching because OMG I LOVE SITCOMS! It’s a good thing, too, because the most unlikely of characters gave the most profound advice I’d ever heard. Nothing would be the same for me. Nothing, I tell you! Except for my lady parts… still the same… just to be clear.
This guy. This naked man. I mean, technically it was the writers who came up with it sooo shout out to Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. It was just this naked man with a well-placed cello that they chose for delivery.
THE BEST LIFE ADVICE I’VE EVER HEARD
I get asked A LOT about how I wiggled my way into travel writing. From the Irish guy next to me on the airplane, from my friends, from my husband’s friends, from 2006 Ashley (who, for the record, also wants to know how many Myspace friends I have now and if sexy is indeed back). It’s a question I love getting because it feels damn good to have a neato career that people are interested in (and jealous of – damn it, I’m only human!). No one ever asked me how I became a Hooters Girl. OK, maybe that wasn’t as complicated a process. But it’s also a question I hate getting because there isn’t a clear-cut answer. I didn’t go to college for it (though I went for just about everything else). I didn’t take a course or know anyone in the biz. It’s more like… the culmination of a lifetime of synchronistic events and a big, fat passion for both traveling and writing. Looking good in mini-shorts doesn’t hurt either. Wait… nope. That’s the other thing.
But just like everyone who asks me that question, I too thought being a travel writer was a magical career you somehow got lucky enough to fall into, like becoming a movie star after being “discovered” while walking your dog. For other people, though… not me. Until I took a plane to Iceland.
Getting back to the show, the girl in the naked man picture (the Mother who someone subsequently meets) is completely lost in her life. The naked man’s advice to her went something like this… actually, it went exactly like this because I’m transcribing it directly from my TV:
Naked Man: “I felt lost for a long time too. I was living in my parents’ basement. Playing video games, mastur…ing those games, until I finally woke up and realized I wanted to follow my dream of teaching music. Let me save you a few years. Even if it sounds completely crazy, what is it you want to do with your life?”
Mother: “I… want to end poverty.”
Naked Man: “Great. Then every decision you make from here on out should be in service of that.”
Mother: “Wow. Thanks. You know, for a minute there, I totally forgot you were naked.”
Naked Man: “In a way… aren’t we all naked?”
Mother: “Yeah, but, your balls are on my couch.”
OK the profound advice is in bold but the last part is just for the sake of saying ‘balls’ on this blog. (Re: previous post)
I immediately asked myself the same question: Even if it sounds completely crazy (as most of my ideas do), what is it I want to do with my life? Easy–I want to travel the world and write about it. So starting right now, every decision I make will be in service of that.
It was so simple and yet, how had I not come up with that on my own? I have Pinterest; I see all that inspirational crap. Because I truly believe it was the right time. It was the exact right time I needed to hear that exact advice. That’s how life works, I believe. Everything happens at the exact moment it is meant to. No sooner. Which is… actually… the entire premise of How I Met Your Mother… so… WHOA.
The concept is simple: baby steps. Also, making your dream A PRIORITY. If it’s really what you want… more than anything… it won’t be a chore and there won’t be any obstacles, so stop trying to find them! And every additional step you take will be a little nugget of excitement. Baby steps through the office… baby steps out the door… baby steps down the hall…
There’s one additional sentence in that dialog I really like: “Let me save you a few years.” I know this epiphany happened at the ideal moment, but of course I wish that moment had been ten years earlier. So, if this is your moment, let me save you a few years of talking yourself out of it or feeling incompetent.
CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! WHAT I DID NEXT
I was aboard an airplane out of the country and all I could do towards my goal for the next ten days was have a kickass trip, which I did. Four friends and I toured Iceland’s Golden Circle and lounged in the Blue Lagoon, chugged beers at Oktoberfest, and defied gravity in Switzerland. Nailed it! Self five!
Immediately upon returning home I did the only logical thing I could think of as a first step: I started a blog. Seriously, I didn’t even unpack first, which is fairly typical. (That you can make excuses for.) I registered My Wanderlusty Life without ANY KNOWLEDGE WHATSOEVER of blogging or cyberspace. I didn’t even read blogs before then; I just knew I could start one for free. I knew nothing of SEO, alt tags, or of leveraging social media but, in service of my completely crazy dream, I learned. I researched, tirelessly. I trial and error-ed. I live-chatted with the support gods at SiteGround. I bored my husband to death with blogging data. I wrote on my lunch break and planned trips when I should have been planning meetings. I stayed up late every night (11 pm, let’s be real here) and worked full days on the weekends. I sacrificed. Like, I haven’t updated my Myspace background in AGES. I punched things. #computersarehard
Then the craziest thing happened: people read my blog! Complete strangers read my blog. And liked it! (I also figured out what SEO was too, if you’re keeping score.)
A few months into travel blogging I found out you can make money doing this. Huh? I can do what now? And I won’t have to wear shorts that ride up my ass or stuff my bra? OK, maybe I’ll try it… I didn’t quite understand it but if others could do it, why couldn’t I? Completely crazy, right?
So I wrote. I slaved. I invested. I commiserated. And I joined the largest and most helpful travel blogging community out there: Travel Blog Success. I’ve mentioned them before but shut up, I’m mentioning them again. If you are at all interested in learning how to start or grow (and make money from) a travel blog, or if you, too, want to know what SEO is, this is your one-stop shop. I can’t tell you how many hours/days/weeks/months of stress they saved me. Let me save you a few years. The secret Facebook group is worth the price of membership alone.
If, on the other hand, you’d like to know how to keep your pantyhose tights from slouching or how to make your boobs look 3x their natural size, I’m your man! I mean, woman! Damn it!
Nine months after joining Travel Blog Success they released a related group: TBS Blogger to Bylines. This group focuses on turning travel bloggers into freelance travel writers. It’s like the universe knew about my newly set life goal and was placing the next steps politely down in front of me. I rarely watch where I’m going and consequently often trip on things so this is a perfect plan. Bravo, universe! Again, I knew NOTHING about being a freelance travel writer, only that I wanted to be one. I signed up and started making money immediately.
Maybe my dream wasn’t completely crazy at all.
WHY AM I TELLING YOU ALL OF THIS?
I WANT TO SAVE YOU A FEW YEARS
I know so many people who are unhappy in their current position in life, whatever it is. Yes, even in your 30s you can feel completely lost. Even with a full-time career, a family, and 1,500 Myspace friends you can feel completely lost. Actually, if you’re still using Myspace you most definitely need guidance. Get the hell outta there and tell me you don’t have a completely crazy dream. Go ahead. Just don’t tell me all of your excuses.
I WANT TO SHARE SOME NEWS
I’ve just made a significant life decision: I quit my job. My boring ol’ 9-5er. I had a cush job with regular hours, benefits, a steady paycheck, very little stress, and all the free coffee and orchids I could ever want. It’s the small (Southeast Asian) things.
Did I foresee on that plane to Iceland quitting my job to be a travel writer? Just a year and half out? Not anymore than I foresaw Donald Trump being the Republican presidential nominee. Both, things I still can’t believe are happening. I thought it would take years and that I’d probably have to go back to school… again. Then take a job de-beaking squids or analyzing frog sperm under a microscope…. again. Actually, that probably wouldn’t help no matter how I manipulated it. Was it luck? No. Sure it’s only been 18 months but I have WORKED MY ASS OFF. I’ve worked at creating a career from scratch while simultaneously working a full-time job. Cultivating a travel writing career while only getting 10 days off PER YEAR. I spent my nights and weekends in front of a computer screen. I’ve stressed myself to the limits with web hosting (seriously, whatever the fuck that is) and finding just the right hilarious metaphor. Every decision I made from that flight forward was in service of my completely crazy dream.
As I’ve illustrated, there wasn’t ANY MORE TIME that I could dedicate to developing my dream job. But there was always more work. I’ve had to turn down jobs and projects because my 9-5 schedule was taking precedence. I was giving up things I’d love to do for shit I didn’t even like doing. What sense did that make?
I WANT TO LET YOU KNOW WHERE I’VE BEEN
And apologize. It’s been three weeks since my last post. I think that’s the longest gap since I started MWL. A bigger gap than the space between Donald Trump’s ears. And for that I’m so. very. sorry. I know you look for my notices in your inbox EVERY DAY. I won’t let it happen again.
I took a bit of a hiatus. Some ‘me’ time, if you will. I didn’t intend on a 3-week gap, it just happened. Or didn’t happen, actually. After I quit my job I snagged the
first cheapest flight to Tennessee and spent two weeks hanging out with my friends and family, something I usually only get three days a year to do (Re: shitty full-time job). I ate great food and drank wayyy too much. I worked in a bikini, played tour guide, consumed all the world’s Zyrtec, and pretended to not see all the people I didn’t want to talk to. It was glorious. Many posts to come.
I was also deep into reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. What a life-changer this book is! SO not my genre but this book came recommended by more than a few travel bloggers so I gave it a shot. Immediately after starting this book I told my husband I’d be quitting my job as soon as I finished it. I made it halfway through before peace-ing out. The concepts in this book on working smarter, cutting out all the bullshit, and changing your own life are astounding. Why haven’t we all done this?!
As far as traveling goes, I will still travel part-time. I am not headed off on a round-the-world trip, I have not sold all my belongings, and I’m not moving to a Thai beach any time soon. I actually like my belongings, thankyouverymuch. My traveling style remains the same: fit in as many activities and as many countries into the fewest days possible. Life is short! And it’s gonna be LEGEN… wait for it…
EVEN IF IT SOUNDS COMPLETELY CRAZY, WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WANT TO DO WITH YOUR LIFE?
PIN THIS ⇣
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