2015 Gratitude Post

For top L to bottom R: coffee with Mayoyao Rice terraces as background (July), swimming with sea turtles at Apo Island, Negros Oriental (August), Salagdoong Beach, Siquijor (October), Bulusan Lake, Sorsogon (May), Falls #2, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato (December), Tinuy-an Falls, Surigao del Sur (December),  Cambulo Rice Terraces, Ifugao (August),
Porchetta at FAT, BGC (because there ought to be food), Batad Rice Terraces, Ifugao (August) 
2015 has been a year of green and blue hues, of an unending love affair with the outdoors, of curveballs, and of unparalleled great times. I'll always remember 2015 as the year I finally (wo)manned up and took the leap to my longtime wish.

Experiences on the road make up a huge chunk of this year, and more than the places I've seen and things I've done, it's the people who I've spent moments with (even the short ones) who fill up my overflowing happy memory bank. I'm writing this post to thank everyone who has been a part of my 2015.

I will spend the next few days envisioning what 2016 will be for me and I'm excited about what the year will bring, both in terms of travel and other aspects of life, because gasp! I've come to terms with the fact that there are other things in life other than chasing adventures. I want to take the time to wish you a great year ahead. May your days be filled with beautiful, jaw-dropping sunsets, long conversations that make your heart soar and dream, fun nights that go on until the wee hours of the morning, and with all kinds of love that inspire.

I wish to see more of you in 2016! Cheers!

In Pursuit of Location Independence

From a corporate employee, I have turned myself into a freelance writer/online worker/ self-employed individual. I'm still at loss when answering forms that asks for Occupation because I still can't believe that yes, even when it doesn't feel like it, this is my occupation (at least for now). I've been tempted to write non-practicing telecoms professional. I would love to romanticize how the whole decision-making process went, how years of imagining finally became reality, and how it felt to finally take the leap into the giant unknown but you can look that up and I swear I feel the same way as the others who have gone before me.
I'm here to write about the reality of the pursuit and some of truths I have discovered so far.
Who doesn't want to see this view all day, every day?

The lifestyle is not for everyone.

Because, of course, there's the monetary side and there are bills to pay.

If you can't figure out how you can earn outside of the four walls of the office, then don't even try. If you can't create self-imposed deadlines and if you can't meet your own deadlines, then stay in the office. If you need someone to help you in setting your career goals and if you are always acting based on mandates, this life is not for you. Being location independent is best suited for self-motivated individuals who can work on his own defined structure. There are no rules and no guidelines to adhere to so it will all be about you and your discipline. It's a process I'm still working on because of the next item.

And there are days when you just don't want to work.

And that's ok.

I've learned to forgive myself for days when I would rather read a book, blog, or hike. Same as in the office, there are lazy days except that in the office, even the lazy days are paid. Since I'm doing freelance writing, all my transactions are result-oriented which means lazy days equal no income days. The key is balance. 

And taking your laptop to the beach sounds great.

But it only looks good in photos.

I'm not saying it can't happen because it can but to work well and to be productive means setting up a good place where you can actually think and focus and where internet connectivity is great. I think it also beats being in the moment. It may not work for me but it can work for someone else. Setting days for recluse and days for making money works for me.

*That's a crappy photo of me failing miserably to work, distracted by the sound of waves. The other guy out front was watching a movie. He knew better than to work with that view.

And you need to have a to-do list. Maintain a calendar.

Or else you can easily be sucked into days of lounging.

A to-do list also helps you keep track of things you have accomplished. Even the smallest things can help you feel motivated. If you go on Google and find the daily schedule of the most successful creative individuals who ever lived, you'll find out that they have set specific chunks of their day to do meaningful work. It's easy to get sidetracked if you don't set your day's priorities.

And start thinking about what's next for you.

Because it's easier to climb a corporate ladder, with the rungs well-defined and you just need to know how to get to the next level.

Self-employed individuals have to sit down and define the rungs themselves because while there are plenty of options, you only have time to pursue a few. It's even harder for location independent persons (or digital nomads) because there's also another question of when and where the feeling of wanting to settle will take place. As for me, I have not figured out this part yet. I'm focusing on learning the ropes, expanding my knowledge, and keeping my world open to endless possibilities.

My own journey is new and so far it has been a good start of self-discovery. Sometimes it feels like a complete struggle but I always go back thinking that this is something I know my future self will thank me for.

Are you living the location-independent life? Cheers to living the alternative lifestyle!

Six Months Out

Today marks the sixth month that I've been out.
Out of my old loop, out of a regular job generating steady income, out of my previous routine.
I thought of writing this post to remember this day and to tell the story of how the past six months have been. To say that it is bittersweet is an understatement. To romanticize the experience would be to lie. The digital nomad, location-independent, strike anywhere life is not all unicorns and rainbows as one would like to imagine it to be. It's hard work, and I can honestly say that this is harder than when I had a corporate job with a regular stream of things to do and things to worry about. However, it is the path that I wish to keep and cling to as long as I could, if the universe permits.
For the past six months, I've been living off my meager savings and when it ran out, I relied on my earnings as a freelance writer to sustain me (and I still write for a living up to now). I started with the vision of living by the sea, going anywhere, anytime I want to, and I did exactly like that. I was someone with too much time on my hands, going anywhere aimlessly and for a moment, I may or may not have been a hedonist. A friend once told me that having too much time can sidetrack you from seeing and doing what's important. And that scared me for one bit because time, while I have plenty, is something that I can never take back.
Photo taken last Dec 17, 2015 - after spending 3 weeks in Mindanao

Six months later, I have met a lot of people who are true to their passions, who are dead on sure about the path they want to take, and who selflessly share their time, talent, and resources with others; it humbles me to know them and I wish I could infuse each bit of them into myself. Each person and experience has made me feel that there is something more, something larger than myself and my selfish vision of going anywhere, anytime I want to.

"Happiness only real when shared"

That phrase from Into The Wild says it all. Purpose is important and I think mine lies in that phrase (I think.. because one can't be too sure). I am most happy when I get to share the joy of experiencing things with others, may it be friends or strangers. The 'Why' of things is important. I've been searching for that one 'Why' and as of this writing, I still couldn't say I am 100% sure but I am there, almost certain. If you've come this far in reading this and still haven't figured your 'Why', take the time to do so. Your motivation ends when your 'why' ceases to make sense.

Sea turtle rescue at Dahican, Mati - I wished to see a turtle and there it was the next day
I've learned that: 
  1. Some dreams you just have to give up (maybe just for now or maybe it will never happen) in exchange for what you feel strongly about.
  2. You get to decide what you can throw out the window and what you can't live without.. I don't need much. 
  3. The things most important to you can move you to tears. The things that don't matter don't evoke that much emotion.
  4. There is much joy in having a genuine connection with people regardless of how fleeting the moment is.  
  5. You should always choose to be kind but remember that being kind is different from being plain stupid.
  6. It's easy to get lost in new ideas and experiences. You need family and friends to help you stay grounded and connected.
  7. You can change your mind (consequently, your reaction) about a person, about places, about events. Meditation has taught me to watch my emotions as they unfold and from there choose how I want to handle things.
  8. I'm turning into a dog person - which is fine - read number 7. 
I'm afraid I'll turn this post into a long winding post about self-realizations and start posting month's worth of notes but I'll keep it at this. The past 6 months were fun, revealing, rash, all a blur, enlightening, a rollercoaster of experiences, sudden breakdowns, fits of laughter.. anything and everything but a waste of time. Just like any good thing, I need to work harder this coming year for the life that I choose to live. I'm looking forward to spending the next months and years striving for the life that fills my big, fat heart with joy. <3 
Thank you to family and friends who have all been very supportive. See you on the road!