How Burning Man broke my self-identity: part 3.

Leaving Burning Man, the depression was overwhelming me.

This is a continuation from part 1 & part 2.

Burning Man 2014
I was scared to turn my phone on. After a week in the digital darkness, I wanted to continue the freedom from Facebook, email, and my projects at work. I tell ya, living without connectivity for 8 days does wonders for the brain.

Continue reading “How Burning Man broke my self-identity: part 3.”

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How Burning Man broke my self-identity: part 2.

We had arrived.

Continued from part 1.

Part 3 can be found here. 

I’d read about the dust, and with it billowing around us, there was no mistake. We had made it to the playa.

Pulling into the bus depot, we all rush off the bus – we’re here, we’re here! As the baggage gets unloaded, we’re herded into a small group where the virgins are asked to step forward. Knowing that’s me, I move to the front of the group. We’re given a hammer and told to hit a bell as hard as we can as part of our initiation ceremony.

Continue reading “How Burning Man broke my self-identity: part 2.”

How Burning Man broke my self-identity: part 1.

With Burning Man quickly approaching, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how my first trip to Burning man in 2014 broke my self-identity, rebuilding me into who I am today.

This story deserves to be told it its fully glory, so this will be a mini series. To make sure you don’t miss parts 2 & 3, subscribe via email using the menu on the left (below for mobile).  

*Jurrasic park voice* Welcome…. to part 1! 

If you’ve never heard of Burning Man, you were just like me.

I had just gotten my first ‘big-girl’ job working in downtown Chicago. As such, it was my first job with paid time off. I didn’t know what to do with myself! I’d been working there for a while and had saved up enough money to take a vacation. Where was I going to go? Continue reading “How Burning Man broke my self-identity: part 1.”

Why I didn’t visit the Karen Long Neck villages in Thailand.

I chose not to visit the Karen Long Neck villages in Thailand – or any native village for that matter. Why not?

During my month in Thailand, I noticed that most activities for tourists were things that were ‘awesome photo opportunities’. Admittedly, I gotta say, part of the draw of coming to Thailand was for exactly that – sweet, sweet photos. Bring on that Reddit karma, baby! Visiting native villages, like the long neck villages, is one of the most popular ways to get those photos.

Let’s address two questions:

1 .What is considered an “awesome photo”?

2. At what cost do these photos come?

Continue reading “Why I didn’t visit the Karen Long Neck villages in Thailand.”

Rationalizing Violence

“Free tour of Peace Memorial Park at 10 am – meet in the lobby.”

Hmm..I pondered the sign. I like free. I like tours too. Peace memorial park was on my list. Truth be told, it was the whole reason that I was in Hiroshima in the first place.

I asked the receptionist, “How long is the tour?”

“Three hours. You’ll want to bring lots of water – it’s hot out.”

Psh, don’t need to tell me twice! Japan, being an island, has been one big sauna everywhere except the miraculous Tokyo.

With a bubble of immediacy bursting inside of me, I signed up for the tour. I then headed up to bed. Tomorrow was going to be a long day.

Continue reading “Rationalizing Violence”

My special birthday in Japan!

I was so lucky to celebrate my 28th birthday in Japan!

This will certainly go down as one of the birthdays I never forget. Like my 7th birthday when my mom gave the head of the unicorn on the cake to my childhood friend instead of me. Even though I was the birthday girl.

No, not like that though. This birthday was W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L! See how I spelled it all out in caps like that? Must be true.

As a sushi-loving-fanatic, I had decided that I would of course get some sushi for dinner. Japan can be crazy expensive though so I was only going to do something small, but nice.

A few days before my birthday, I was contacted by one of my readers – her name is Erin. I know Erin through a company we both used to work for. Our time overlapping there was short – only a few months. Erin worked in another department too, so we didn’t interact too much but when we did she was always so bright and positive. She’s actually always this way with everyone (even though she’s going blind).
Continue reading “My special birthday in Japan!”

How you can plan an adventure, RIGHT NOW in 5 steps

Adventure isn’t just for other countries and far away lands.

So many people tell me “I wish I could travel, I wish I could do what you’re doing”. I admit that I’m lucky to have the means and ability to be where I am right now. But guys, travel isn’t just quitting your job, going to other countries or bathing elephants. It sounds so cool when you say it like that, but adventure can be done in many doses. In my opinion, adventure is about attitude.

When I get home, I’ve been thinking about what I’ll put on the blog – because I do want to keep blogging. I’ve decided that I’m going to keep adventures going. I’ll continue to travel on weekends, days off and whenever I can. I’ll keep doing adventures and sharing them with you.

Before I get home though, I want to show you how easy it is go to get some adventure in your life. So, let’s get you suited up!
Continue reading “How you can plan an adventure, RIGHT NOW in 5 steps”

Hong Kong – the most intimate city.

I’ve been in Hong Kong less than a week, and I’m already running into people I know around town.

Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a giant city – and very dense. Everything here is packed to the brim, including the people. Crossing streets is a marathon affair. As I walk down the streets I feel like I’m avoiding a predator, zigzagging and weaving back and forth through the masses.

Despite the size and number of people, Hong Kong is turning out to be a rather intimate place. So far, I’ve had four encounters that were very sweet and made me feel like I wasn’t just another mass in the crowd. In fact, the city has been incredibly intimate – even beyond all the PDA that’s happening!

Encounter 1: The generous commuter 

At the airport, I purchased a train ticket that would take me into the city. I showed them on the map where I wanted to go and got a single ride ticket. This would involve me making a few transfers to different train lines, but no big deal!

At my first transfer, I find my new train line and try to enter the gate, but my ticket doesn’t work when I tap it against the magnetic reader. I try again – still nothing. There’s a kid, about 20 walking up and I kind of hold my ticket out and give him a confused look.

Continue reading “Hong Kong – the most intimate city.”

What it means to be human, a lesson in compassion.

We are Humans, all of us.

Humanity, as defined by Merriam Webster:

A noun; plural: humanities.

  • All human beings collectively; the human race; humankind.
  • The quality or condition of being human; human nature.
  • The quality of being humane; kindness; benevolence.

We aren’t so different.

I’m currently traveling through Asia, right? It’s beautiful, magical, mystical, healing, and very other-worldly. It’s surrounded by a slight air of mystery – simply because it is so radically different.

When you see pictures of “Asia” they often include rice or tea farms, people carrying baskets on their shoulders, and a never-ending horizon of street food vendors and markets.

These photos are exotic. Unknown.  They might evoke a sense of primitivism in viewers from cultures like the US, the UK, and other parts of the world that are heavily technology-oriented and ‘progressive’. It can seem like an ‘old-world’ destination where the people are not as developed.

Primitivism can insinuate: more dangerous or violent, potentially more corrupt, unhealthy, or possibly savage-like. I was culture-freakin-shocked at the attitude toward animals when I arrived in Thailand, and was thinking to myself “How is this not a big deal to you guys?! How can you just ignore that three-legged, starving cat over there who is obviously nursing?!”

These extreme differences in lifestyle and values can make it hard to relate or connect. Looking through the glass, you might not be able to see yourself in the people of that culture.

Today, my friend Bev and I are going to teach you how to recognize yourself in anybody.

When I was traveling to Burning Man on the Cobrabus, I met a wonderful and bright soul named Beverly. Bev is one seriously multi-talented and inspiring gal who loves to give and share. Not only did she share her home on the Cobrabus with us, but in Burning Man spirit, she gifted all the riders an amazing tool.

This tool has improved my quality of life dramatically. It has been a wonderful gift. Today, we’re going to share it with you.

What’s the gift? Is it free?!

Yes, it’s free! Not only that, but you will become [emotionally] richer every time you use it.

You can do it anywhere there are other humans (I’ve also done it on animals, they have feelings too!). Here it is:

Compassion Exercise

Excerpted from a book called, ReSurfacing®: Techniques for Exploring Consciousness by Harry Palmer.

Bev gave us each business sized cards with this exercise printed on it. I began to pull my card out on the playa, buses, trains, restaurants, my office…anywhere I was that was public or anytime I wanted to feel good.

Funny story: I was sitting on the Tram at the LA airport and this kid and his mom keep staring at me. Okay, maybe it’s the dreads? Do I have something on my face? Did someone tape a “fuck you” sign on my back? Eventually, I take a long, hard look instead of trying to get a side-eye squint. Low and behold, the kid is holding a compassion exercise card and was doing it on me! This was just extra reassurance that this tool is one of great value.

Since receiving my compassion card, I have found myself being much more understanding of, and patient with, my fellow humans. There is a lot less anger in my life! I used to see parents on the CTA who were being a little rough with their kids, and I would think “What a horrible parent!”.

With the compassion exercise, I managed to take off my judging pants. Now I think “Just like me, this person is …”. It brings me a lot of peace. While traveling, I’ve struggled with the ignorance and behavior of other travelers, and by showing some compassion, I’m managing to handle it much better.

What made me want to write a post about this?

Other than the fact that it’s a wonderful exercise that has literally no negative side effects? Alright, here we go, the kicker: I’ve encountered an almost unbelievable amount of ignorance regarding Asian people. 

To be blunt: just because they aren’t white doesn’t mean they’re savages.

Continue reading “What it means to be human, a lesson in compassion.”

A struggle with my patriotism.

My trip to the the COPE Visitor Center in Vientiane, Laos.

A struggle with my patriotism after visiting the COPE museum in Vientiane, Laos.

All I could write in the guestbook at COPE was “thanks for cleaning up our mess.”

 

I’m not a big museum person – unless it’s a museum where I can touch things! Places like planetariums, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, or COSI in Ohio – those are fun, but as a whole I’m not a big fan of looking at a bunch of things I can’t touch and reading big panels of text about them…ugh, shoot me.

That being said, I do also love free things! Here’s a little math: Free + Activity = Zoom’s attendance.

While doing my research for top activities in Vientiane, the capitol city of Laos, my options were limited – not really much to do here it turns out! The #1 recommended activity was a trip to the Visitor Center of COPE.

What is COPE?

COPE is a non-profit organization that helps UXO (unexploded ordinance) victims move on.

“Move on” is actually a morbid pun because the victims have usually suffered loss of a limb, function of a body part, or need some sort of physical therapy after their unfortunate encounter with unexploded bombs throughout the Laos region.

Continue reading “A struggle with my patriotism.”