Finding the One: Who or When?

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Last week, out of nowhere, a friend asked me if I thought “the one” was a who or a when.  I told her I’d give it some thought and get back to her.  Instead of shooting her a text, I decided to make it a blog.

I’ll admit, I’m by no means an expert on love so keep reading at your own risk.  Over the past few years, I’ve spent more time single than not.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve gone on dates and had flings but nothing I would consider to be “love”.  Traveling made finding a significant connection that I could maintain difficult.

The quote that best describes my love life is: “a pain stabbed my heart, as it did every time I saw a girl I loved who was going the opposite direction in this too-big world.”  I had no difficulty finding a girl who caught my attention.  It was the stuff that follows the initial attraction that I found difficult.  To be honest, it wasn’t something I was looking for.  

The time I’ve spent single has been valuable.  It’s given me a chance to learn about myself, why I believe what I do, and what I want out of life- both romantically and otherwise.  Not rushing into a relationship allowed me to take a step back.  I was able to see what I value in a significant other and not settle for less.

Even after years of being single, I remain, at my core, a hopeless romantic.  If you talk to my friends they’ll tell you I fall ‘in love’ easily. Every few months there’s a different girl who could be “the one”.  A smile.  An unexpected adventure. An in-depth life chat is all it takes for me.  When I feel that connection my mind starts racing with the potential possibilities.  What can I say, I love love and cheer for a good love story whenever I can.

Though I haven’t found it yet I like to think I’m more ready for it now than I was when I was 22.

Before I explain why here are some ground rules:

  • I’m fully aware that there are hundreds if not thousands of different variables that decide if a relationship is successful (location being another huge one).  It’s not as simple as “who’ or ‘when” but as that was the question I was asked, those are the rules I’m playing by.
  • “Soulmates” and “The One” are different things to me.  I believe soulmates could be friends or lovers who come into your life (and usually leave) but help you grow.  “The One” is the person you voluntarily choose to spend the majority of your life with.
  • I think you can have more than a single “the one” over the course of a lifetime but this is rare.  If your “the one” dies you can find another “the one”. If you get divorced or break up that person was never really  “the one” even if you thought they were.  Believing something doesn’t make it a fact (though some may argue otherwise).
  • If I asked 100 people this question I would get 100 different answers and that’s okay.  It’s still interesting to debate because everyone can relate and there’s no “right” answer.
  • Your personal beliefs on destiny/fate will have a large impact on your opinion on this topic.  For the record, I don’t believe in destiny/fate I believe that where we end up is because of the choices we made in the past.

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Honest answer. I think “the one” is a combination of who and when.  But, that’s cheating.  So if I had to pick, to me, it’s more of a when then the who.

I spent my last two years at Creighton in a relationship with a great girl (she just wasn’t for me).  After I graduated she had another year in Omaha. I decided to defer law school for a year (little did I know it was actually forever) so I thought it made sense to stay in Omaha while she finished school.  I took a job at a trading company in June and by the end of July, we were broken up.

At first, I was devastated.  This was the girl I honestly thought I was going to marry (22-year-old Todd had no real plans of adventure).  All of the sudden, that future was gone.

After I got over the break up I spent the next year angry at myself and full of regret for staying. I had a chance to leave but I didn’t.  I was trapped in a job I hated for no reason other than quitting “looked bad on a resume”.

It was then that I promised myself I would never let another person decide if I stayed or went.  And I would never ask someone to stay and give up what they wanted for me.

In the end, it all worked out.  A few months later I took a job on a cruise ship in Australia and my life trajectory completely shifted.

Over the next 3 years, I had zero interest in finding “the one”. My last relationship ruined any desire I had of wanting a girlfriend and let me be clear I would have been a terrible boyfriend. I saw relationships as a hindrance.  As something that gets in the way as you attempt to pursue your dreams.

During that time, I could have met Emma Watson (the love of my life) and would have told her to fuck off.  I wanted to be selfish.  I wanted to explore the world.  I wanted to go and never look back.

But since returning to the States, finding a great job and a kickass group of friends, I’ve begun to feel differently. Life is good and I’m happy, but I’m not in the same “need to be selfish” mindset I was before.  I’ve explored and grown over the years.  I’m not looking for a relationship, but for the first time in years, I’m open to one.

My friends Zoran and Priya have played a role in my mentality shift.  Yes, I’ve matured since I was 23 (I hope), but watching them over the past three years has been eye-opening.  I’ve been with them at Burning Man and backpacking Southeast Asia. I’ve watched from afar as they went to Yacht Week, Spain, and helped each other through med school and now residency.  They’ve shown me that when you find “the one” it shouldn’t hold you back, quite the opposite.  The right person (at the right time) enhances all the things you love to make them even better.  But they didn’t meet and instantly date.  The timing had to be right for their relationship to become what it did.  Which is why Priya pursued Zoran for months before they got together.

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We meet a handful of people over the course of our lifetime who we truly connect with.  Each of these people could be “the one” we end up with.  However, them being “the one” depends on when we meet them.  At some point, you’ve heard someone say, “It didn’t work out between us because the timing just wasn’t right.”

Timing is everything.

It’s likely that you’re able to recognize how amazing someone else is, or vice versa, but if the timing is off, giving or receiving love will be difficult. It honestly doesn’t matter how compatible two people are. If the time isn’t right in someone’s life, they won’t be able to love completely which makes the relationship doomed from the start.

It’s also why you hear ‘we used to just be friends, but one day it just clicked.’  It wasn’t that the other person changed overnight.  It was the timing and situation shifted and you saw the same person in a new light.

Over the past five years, I’ve met a girl or two with whom I know I could be happy with in the long run if the timing had been right. Each challenged my thinking, loved adventure, was attractive (to me), opened me up to new ideas, and were equally interested in me. But we met at the wrong time (and lived in the wrong places). I wasn’t in a place where I was interested in making it work.  It had nothing to do with them and everything to do with where I was at that point in my life.

Our timing being off doesn’t change the fact that they are special to me.  It doesn’t take away from the feelings we had for each other.  It simply means that in this lifetime, our stars are not aligned.  We will both have to keep waiting for the variables to align to help us find “the one”.

I believe there are multiple “the ones” out there for each person and it is timing that dictates who we end up with.  Not believing that destiny pushing you toward one person

doesn’t make it any less special when you actually find “the one.”  Quite the opposite.  It means that everything had to align just right for the two of you to end up together.

Stay Gold.

 

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The Key to Getting What You Want

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The doors will be opened to those who are bold enough to knock.

Life isn’t complicated.  But we wouldn’t be humans if we didn’t make it difficult.  It ends up being difficult because often times, we allow our emotions to control us.  We give in to fear, embarrassment, and jealousy, which cloud our reasoning and yield inaction.  We find it easier to lurk in the shadows and complain than risk being the fool and stepping into the light.

Don’t get me wrong, emotions are useful, but only when we understand how they impact our lives.  It’s our responsibility to harness our emotions (both the good and bad ones) to get what we want out of life.

Those who know me would agree that I tend to get my way.  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why. This has led to conversations about assertiveness, manipulation, luck, and even divine providence.

I don’t claim to have any superpowers, but more often than not I find myself in good situations because of great people. Until recently, I had never given it much thought.  Maybe it was naive, but I just thought that was how the world worked.

As I’m apt to do, I started analyzing everything.  I had three recurring beliefs that shaped how I view the world, other people, and has guided me to one simple principle that is the key to getting what I want out of life.

People are generally good.

When you believe the best in people, it’s easy to approach them.  Most people will be helpful when given the opportunity (assuming you’re not being an asshole).  It has been proven to me time and time again over the years.  It’s why I rarely have an issue asking a stranger for help.

You get what you put out.

If you’re an asshole, you’re going to get treated like an asshole (crazy how that works).  People feed off each other. When you’re negative all the time, you’ll get met with negativity.  Being conscious of your attitude will go along way in getting you where you want to go. When people like you, they’re a lot more likely to help when you ask.  As the phrase goes, “Don’t wait for people to be friendly, show them how.”

Take the first step

Most people enjoy doing stuff, but hate getting started.  It’s why the first person to suggest a place to eat usually gets their choice of restaurant.  If you are willing to take the first step, most people appreciate it and will gladly come with. When I shared the itinerary for the trip to SE Asia, I told everyone that they were free to do whatever they wanted but this was my plan.  They ended up following my plan to the T.

But none of the above make a difference if you aren’t willing to

Ask for the thing you want

You have to get over being afraid to hear the word “no.”  You have to get over feeling ashamed or embarrassed.   Don’t feel self-conscious because you’re voicing what you want.  The people who never ask will never get their way.  It may sound unfair, but no one can read minds, so life tends to reward the people who say want they want.  

Last year I was out in California visiting a client with my boss, Adam, and coworker, Drew.  We spent the day at the client’s office reviewing their website, discussing SEO strategies and ways to increase sales.  At the end of the day, they presented us with three identical green backpacks.  I had spent six hours looking at their website and had seen they also had a grey backpack (which I liked more based on the photos).  Before leaving I asked Kaitlyn if I could swap the green backpack out for the grey one.

She said, “not a problem, I just have to go and grab it.”  She returned five minutes later with the grey backpack.  Turns out it was bigger, nicer, and honestly a better product.  The rest of the trip Drew and Adam laughed at me because I couldn’t accept the free backpack I was given.   Two years later, we all still use our backpacks, and I’m the one laughing because my backpack is better.

I give 0 fucks about how asking a question is going to make me look.  It’s how you learn.  It’s how you take steps toward what you want.  How was Kaitlyn to know I preferred the grey backpack if I didn’t tell her?  What’s the worst that could happen?  She might say no?  Which means, I’d be in the exact same spot I was before.  What did I have to lose?

At the end of the day, it’s better to ask twice than lose your way once.   This mindset has gotten me to where I am today. When you want something and are willing to make other people aware of it, the universe finds a way to help you achieve it.  

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I have a friend who hasn’t been loving his job the past few months.  The other day, I was speaking with him on the phone and he made the comment, “They’re never going to let me paint.  I think if I could paint I’d like the job more.”  So I responded, “Have you asked? Do they know you want to learn to paint?”  He said, “Well, no.”  

How would his company know he wants to learn to paint if he’s never told them?  I told him if it’s something he wants to do he needs to tell his manager.  He needs to take some kind of action or else he has no right to complain.   He spoke with his manager the next day.  Two weeks later, he was painting.

My friend’s situation isn’t unique to just him.  Learning to ask is a skill that has taken me years to develop, and even now I sometimes mess up.  When I graduated from Creighton, I told myself I was going to get my first job on my own.  I wasn’t going to ask anyone for help.  I didn’t need to.  I was proud and had a chip on my shoulder.  

I was an idiot.

Because of my unwillingness to tell people what I wanted and ask people (who had connections) for help, I ended up at a job I hated for over a year.  I thought things would just happen for me. I didn’t yet realize that I had to make things happen for myself, and oftentimes means asking for the thing you want.

Regardless of what some people may believe, in life, you’re going to need help to get where you want to go.  

Two things to keep in mind.   People won’t help you if you’re an asshole, and people can’t help you if you haven’t communicated what it is you want.

If I could give one piece of life advice, it’s this: Don’t be afraid to tell the world what you want.  Don’t let the worry of someone saying “no” keep you from asking.  Understand the only shame is in never making the attempt.

When you understand that, magic happens, and before you know it you’re on your way.

Stay Gold.

These Must be the Places: 2018 Edition

 

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It took less than four weeks to schedule out all the vacation time I have for the year.  In reality, it took less than four days, but I am who I am.

People accuse me of not having a “real job” or that I have unlimited vacation time.  I don’t. I’m lucky enough to work at a place that sees me as more than a number.  We’re a small company which means everyone knows traveling is one of my biggest passions. It is something I will always make a priority.  And if push came to shove something I will always choose.

Knowing this, they not only tolerate my vagabond side they embrace my free spirit.  Adam (my boss) gets as excited as I do for my trips.  He’s always telling clients about my next trip. He knows that allowing me to take a few trips a year allows me to focus on the company the rest of the year.

With that in mind the more notice I can give Lifted Logic, the better.  Which is why after I got back from Costa Rica I started thinking about the year ahead.

I considered quite a few places to check out in 2018.  I knew instead of doing one 35 day trip (like Asia last year) and one 10 day trip (Costa Rica) I was going to do 3 or 4 shorter trips. I daydreamed about places like Chile, South Africa, Iceland, Guatemala, New Zealand, Egypt, Japan, Ecuador, Lebanon, South of France, and Morocco.

All appealed to me for different reasons.  Some for the scenery, some for the culture, and some because I had a free couch I knew I could crash on.  Full disclosure, I’ve never needed much of a reason to go somewhere. Once, I ended up in Santa Barbara because a girl I met in line for the bus at a music festival told me I could crash on her couch if I was “ever in the area”.  Be careful what you say to me, I may take you up on the invitation (thanks, Emma <3).

It’s no surprise I like to go to places a little off the beaten path.  I like the look on someone’s face when they ask “why would you ever go there?” Based on past experiences, I know that those places are usually the ones that stay with you.  They’re different.  They challenge you.  They help you realize there’s no right way to live and that’s something I am always pursuing when I travel.

I enjoy solo travel as much as traveling in a group (maybe more so).  I enjoy each for different reasons so, as odd as it may sound to some, that never factored into my decision.  If I want to go somewhere I’ll go; whether it’s just me or nine of my closest friends.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about my 2018 trips, but picking these destinations reminds me how many other places I want to go and I’ll have to wait.  Regardless of what anyone says, FOMO is real.  Choosing one thing always means missing out on another.

Below are the places I’ll be visiting, the dates, who’s coming with, and why it made my 2018 list.

Portugal

Lisbon

Location: Lisbon
Date: June 21-June 25th
Crew: Me, KB, Haider, Pat, Steph, Zoja, Scott, Jessica

The Reason:

Because I saw an opportunity.

Originally I was flying from the States to London and meeting up with my friend Seif before heading to Russia for the World Cup.  We moved the dates of our trip back a week. This meant Seif was going to miss Russia v Egypt game in Saint Petersburg (Seif is from Egypt originally so this is a big deal).  In classic Seif fashion, he told me he wasn’t missing the game and was going to Russia early, I could meet him there.

I wasn’t heartbroken at not having to spend time in London.  Honestly, not one of my favorite places.  I started researching flights to Russia.  I had to have a layover somewhere in Europe.  So like all good travelers, I started asking myself where do I want to go for a weekend that is (kind of) on the way.

It wasn’t a hard choice.

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If I can surf, I’m there…

Lisbon has been a city on my “short” list for a few years now.  I didn’t get a chance to go when I backpacked Europe in 2014 and haven’t had a chance to since.  I’ve heard amazing things from each of my friends that have gone. I constantly hear: the food is incredible, it’s cheap, drugs are decriminalized, it has the art, architecture, and culture I love, rooftop bars, and last but not least, it has surfing.

I didn’t have to try too hard to convince KB that Lisbon should be our first stop.  I reached out to a few friends that live in Europe and now we’re planning to meet up for a weekend.  We’ll only be there for three days but that’s plenty of time to enjoy Lisbon and catch up with some old friends.

In the words of Seif, all you have to do to enjoy Lisbon is ‘follow gravity’.

Russia World Cup 2018

Moscow

Locations: St. Petersburg, Moscow, Other Russian locations TBD
Date: June 25th to July 8th
Confirmed Crew: Me, Seif, KB, Sims

The Reason:

Because why the fuck not.

This is the major trip of 2018 and I can’t tell you how or why it’s happening.  The World Cup has been on my bucket list since I wrote it years ago.  But it’s also true that I don’t love soccer (not a top 3 sport for me). I was in Europe during the 2014 World Cup and the atmosphere was truly amazing.  The games were being played in Brazil, but the environment is something that stayed with me.  I promised myself then that if I ever got the opportunity I would attend a World Cup match.

Seif and I were discussing a South Africa/Egypt trip when out of nowhere he asked if I’d be down to go to Russia for the World Cup. The World Cup was something we both wanted to do and agreed there was no way we were going to Qatar in 2022.  So it was Russia or wait a decade.  Waiting is not something I’m good at.

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Seif and I on one of adventures

One of my many flaws is that I don’t say no to much and a few days later I was putting in the vacation request.  The next thing I know, in typical Todd fashion, I’m inviting people on the trip with me (not really thinking anyone would come).

Kelly Blake (KB) who’s never been out of the country claimed a spot in the group.   The final spot in our foursome is going to my friend Sims who is the only real soccer fan in our group.

I’m excited to cross a big item off my bucket list, make more memories with Seif, show KB the world, and see if Sims can pull off furs in July.

Burning Man

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Location: Black Rock City, NV
Date: Aug 26, 2018 – Sep 3, 2018
Confirmed Crew: Me, Zoran, Priya, Seif, Shreya, Neil, Aubrey, (to name a few)

The Reason:

Because once wasn’t enough.

As amazing as Burning Man was in 2016 I could have done it better.  Not that there is a “right” way to do Burning Man, but the first time you go it’s overwhelming.  There is so much going on all the time.   It’s a sensory overload of sorts.  No amount of reading or watching videos can prepare you for it.  It’s not like other festivals (it’s not even a festival).  There is no start time or an end time.  There aren’t organized activities.  There are no rules. It takes 4 or 5 days to adjust to the level of freedom you have.  By the time I started feeling comfortable it was almost over.

The biggest lesson I’ll be bringing back with me in 2018 is to be present and enjoy what’s in front of me (This must be the place).  If you find something once odds are you won’t find it again. I spent too much time in 2016 looking for things and people I’d found the day before instead of exploring and finding new stuff.

I know this year I’ll have a better idea of how to prepare, what to expect, and how to let go.

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Ready for round 2…

More importantly, it’s the only full week that both Zoran and Priya have vacation at the same time in 2018.  (It’s tough being a resident pursuing the admirable career of doctoring)

Simply put, if Dr. Zoran is going, I’m going.

After all, we made a promise after we went in 2016 that we would take a year off and return in 2018. A promise is a promise.

Greece

Santorini sunset at dawn village of Oia Greece

Santorini sunset at dawn village of Oia Greece

Date: October 4th to 15th
Location: Athens, Santorini, Other Greek Islands TBD
Crew: Me and Sandi Clause

The Reason:

Because my mom deserves to see the world (and has an exceptional memory)

When I told my mom I was taking a month off to go to Asia in 2017 she asked if she could come.  I told her “Not a chance.”  She looked at me with that sad, offended, make you feel terrible look that I believe all mothers have mastered.  I explained to her that backpacking Southeast Asia for a month was not her type of trip.

Sandi has never been out of the country. Maybe I’m a bad son, but I didn’t think a trip involving $7 hostels, overnight trains, and unlimited rice wine was the best first trip for her to take in her 50s.

 

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Look out Greece here we come

 

I flippantly told her we could do Italy or Greece in 2018. It was mostly so she’d stop looking at me with those sad eyes.  I started planning the Asia trip short after and completely forgot about the promise I’d made.

A few weeks later (yes this was in 2016) she started sending me stuff for Greece. At first, I was confused.  Then I remembered and realized it was really happening.  No backing out.

I haven’t started to plan it yet, but I booked our tickets to Athens so it’s a thing.  It’s cool to see my mom this excited about something. She’s already asking me which suitcase she should bring and if she should get a new camera.  I make jokes about it, but bringing people along on my trips is one of the things I enjoy most. The desire to share the experience is one of the reasons I write as well.  Making memories with a person you care about and seeing it impact their life never gets old.  You get to see them outside of their comfort zone and exploring the world for the first time.  Seeing the other side of the world through the eyes of someone you love is something I hope everyone gets to experience at least once.

Portugal. Russia. The World Cup. Burning Man. Greece.

With 2018 destinations set it’s time to start planning…for 2019.

Where will you be going this year?

The best way to keep up with my adventures is to follow me on Instagram- Todds_Tales.

Stay Gold.

 

What it Costs: 11 Days in Costa Rica

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Now that my Costa Rica trip has come and passed I wanted to write my “What it Cost” recap blog.  I started doing the financial rundown of my trips after I spent a month in Southeast Asia last year and followed it up with What it Costs to go Backcountry Camping in the Grand Tetons.

The main reason I started to do my “What it Costs” blogs were to show people what an adventure really costs.  The biggest reason why people tell me they can’t travel is because they “can’t afford it”.  I hope that after each one of these blogs you realize that traveling isn’t that expensive (cheapest it’s ever been really) and if you really want to do it you can.  

I’ve written about life priorities before and how it’s important to decide yours.  Is eating out more important than my next trip to Russia?  Not for me.  Is another night at the bars or a random purchase on Amazon better than saving up for a house?  Again no.  

At the end of the day it’s all about what you value.  The old phrase “every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want” is 100% true.  Instead of saying you can’t afford something, say it’s not a priority and see how that sits with you. Being honest with ourselves is the only way to achieve what we really want.

 

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Below you’ll find a line by line list of what I spent on my 11 day trip in Costa Rica last month.  

But first, a few notes:

  1. Cheaper flights were available, however, I was very particular about the days and times I wanted to fly.  I didn’t want to leave at 8 pm on Thursday (getting to San Jose at 4 am) and I didn’t want to leave San Jose at 7 am (basically taking away my Saturday night).  If you don’t care about flight times you can get a round-trip flight for closer to $400.
  2. When you travel alone things tend to be more expensive.  I didn’t have anyone to split the price of the rental car or gas with.  But for this trip, I was completely okay with that.  This trip was more about exploring the world on my own and it was worth every additional penny.
  3. I brought a few things with me: a handle of Seagrams, spray sunscreen, and bug spray just to name a few to save money as I heard from Jordan that they were more expensive there.
  4. Costa Rica isn’t cheap, especially for Central America.  Guatemala and Honduras are cheap.  Costa Rica is a fairly well developed from a tourism standpoint.  If Guatemala is Vietnam than Costa Rica is Thailand.   I would even compare it to Kansas City, in most places you’re paying $4 to $6 for a drink and $12 to $15 for a meal at a sit-down restaurant.  They’re not exactly giving stuff away.
  5. I didn’t party much on this trip.  Honestly, I didn’t have the urge to.  Each day was filled with activities that by the time 10 pm hit I was ready for bed.
  6. Costa Rica is incredible, but part of me (and I don’t care if this makes me sound like a travel snob) hates places where I can use English all the time and have the option to pay for everything in dollars.  I feel cheated out of experiencing their culture and challenge of being uncomfortable figuring it out as I go.

 

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Pre-Departure Purchases:

Flight:

Kansas City to San Jose Flight- $649
$25 checked bag (One way) x 2= $50

Rental Car (11 Days):
Alamo 4 wheel drive SUV Rental car & insurance: $279 – $50 (talked myself into a discount)  =$229

Total: $928

San Jose to Jaco:

2.10 chips in airport
$20 for local SIM card
$4 In tolls to Jaco

Total: $26.19

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Jaco- 3 Nights:

$43.26- Room2Board hostel 3 nights
$30 surf lesson and board for the day
$10 surfboard day rental
$6.50 hostel breakfast
$8 guac/lunch
$8 Burrito dinner at Jaco Taco
$6 Breakfast at hostel- surfer wrap
$6 2 imperial beers
$14 on 2 whisky waters
$10 Drinks at bar
$6.50 breakfast at hostel
$10 Burrito dinner at Jaco Taco

Jaco Total:  $158.26

Jaco to Pavones:

$12 lunch at Flutter by house room
$22.83 gas driving to Pavones in the Osa Peninsula

Total: $34.83

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Pavones- 2 nights

$45 Surf House Pavones –  2 nights and Surfboard rental
$8 Dinner in Pavona
$6 snacks in Pavona

Pavones Total: $59

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Dominical- 1 Night

$8 Lunch (pasta and nacho)
$18 Cool Vibes hostel *private room split with Jay 36 total
$10 Surfboard rental
$10 Snacks. Pineapple, munchies, nuts,  ice cream
$3 Beer at Cafe Mono Congo

Dominical Total: $49

Dominical to La Fortuna

$8 burrito Jaco taco  (coming back from Osa)
$26 gas

Total: $34

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Arenal/La Fortuna – 4 Nights

$43 Arenal Backpackers Resort
$85 Whitewater rafting the Pacuare River (top 5 in the world)
$25 Rafting CD of photos
$8 Nachos for dinner at hostel
$16 Las Brasitas dinner
$6 Breakfast at hostel
$12 Parque National Park entry
$38 Entry to Hanging Bridges National Park with Tour Guide
$15 La Ventanita (Best Burrito of my life)
$68 Souvenirs
$28 Bottle of Whiskey

Arenal Total: $344

La Fortuna to San Jose

$28 gas

Total: $28

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Return Trip

$30 Corona House in Miami dinner ($30 credit from Chase Card Priority Pass perk)
$5 wifi airplane
$2 lunch at airport

Total: $7

Trip Total: $1,668.28

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Before I started planning the trip I was estimating around $1,500 total.  All in all, I’m not mad about spending a little less than $200 more.  I didn’t count pennies at all on this trip.  I ate less street food and at more restaurants.  I explored national parks, went white water rafting, and drove over 1100 km up and down Costa Rica.  I had total freedom to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.  I could have spent more or I could have spent less, but in the end, I had an amazing trip that will stay with me for years to come and there’s no real price tag on that.

 

Stay Gold.

This must be the place

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When my friend Aubrey and I began redesigning Of Whiskey and Words (it’s coming in 2018, I promise), she was convinced that the new site needed a motto.  A phrase that shapes my writing and resonates with my readers.  A creed I use every day that affects how I see the world. In short, something that easily conveys the message around which I’ve spent years writing.  

Aubrey is a designer by trade and a creator by nature (the new blog layout is incredible). She has a natural talent for connecting ideas and concepts to people.  In a time where everyone has the ability to make their voice heard, it’s imperative to know what you’re trying to say and why.

At first, I laughed at her suggestion and said that I had too many mottos to count – perhaps a side effect of my love of quotes.  But the truth was, after almost three years of writing (and publishing), I couldn’t come up with one core message.

My message has varied over the years. At first, it was, “Fuck everything. Travel everywhere.” Then it was, “Living abroad. Avoid Routine,” which morphed into, “Traveling and the concept of home.” If you’re bored (or just love reading my writing), you can go through all the posts I’ve written over the years and you’ll see the shift for yourself.

The issue is that I no longer consider myself a “world traveler.”  Yes, I still travel as much as I can.  Yes, I visited six countries this year alone, but compared to my “past life” it didn’t feel like a big deal.  I’m no longer the guy taking year-long trips, sleeping in a new country every few days. I’ve accepted that.

Over the past few years, I’ve started feeding both sides of the wolf.  

When Aubrey and I started talking about the new message for Of Whiskey and Words, I realized that it was about balance.  I want to write and tell people that you can work a “normal” job and still live a rewarding life full of adventure.  Just because you aren’t going to sleep in Budapest and waking up in Belgrade, life still has plenty of meaning.  It’s choosing to see the purpose in whatever you’re doing; wherever you are.

But, admittedly, “Find balance” isn’t a great motto and makes me sound like a yoga studio.

I wanted something that spoke to finding adventure – not just on the other side of the world, but in your everyday life.  I wanted to convey that you shouldn’t live life with your eyes fixed on the horizon chasing something because that’s how you miss the things happening in front of you.  I wanted something that inspires people to find purpose in their everyday actions.

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I saw Serengetee: “Travel More.” Cotopaxi: “Adventure on.” Kurt Vonnegut: “So it goes.”  King Solomon: “This too shall pass,” and I was amazed at how a few simple words could convey so much meaning.  How two or three words could convey an entire lifestyle.

Using those as inspiration, I went through a lot of ideas (spoiler: none of them were good).

 

  • Choose Adventure
  • Find Balance
  • Adventure First
  • Find Adventure
  • Adventure Always
  • Immerse Daily
  • Seek Purpose
  • Explore the Ordinary
  • Seek Adventure

 

Of those above, I liked “Seek Adventure” the best.  It was short, sweet, and to the point.  It spoke to what I was trying to accomplish with Of Whiskey and Words: telling people they need to seek adventure in their everyday lives.  

As fitting as it was, it still didn’t feel quite fit.  It didn’t move me and say, “Take a step back and appreciate what’s in front of you.”  I didn’t know what exactly I was looking for, but I knew as much as “seek adventure” seemed to fit the bill, it wasn’t quite it.

I stumbled across an article in which the author describes the best wedding ever which he went to in California.  He mentioned that everyone in attendance got a mug, and on the side of it was the phrase: This must be the place.  

I instantly knew. This must be the place was the phrase I’d been looking for.

I sent the article to Aubrey but didn’t tell her why.  Her first response was, “you should use that as the Of Whiskey and Words motto.”  Great minds…

The more I thought about, it the more I loved it.  

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To me, This must be the place represents appreciating wherever it is you are and accepting it.  It’s being at peace with yourself and your place in the world.  Stuck in traffic?  This must be the place.  Watching the sunset on a beach in Costa Rica? This must be the place. Busting your ass to finish a report? This must be the place. Drinking at a hostel with your new Australian friends? This must be the place. On a sixteen-hour flight across the world? This must be the place.  

There are certain things in life you can’t change.  Certain things (both good and bad) that are necessary and unavoidable.  Whenever I get frustrated, I remember This must be the place, and it centers me.  Whenever I’m excited I think, This must be the place, and I’m appreciative and thankful for the source of my excitement.

At the end of the day, you are where you are.  This Must Be the Place reminds me to make the best of everything and be present.  To not miss what’s happening around me, or let external factors dictate my mood.

So whether you’re traveling the world, working a fulltime job, raising three kids, or trying to finish school, just remember that wherever you are is exactly where you need to be.  

After all, This must be the place.

Stay Gold.

What to Pack: 11 Days in Costa Rica

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Let me start off by saying I never thought it would happen to me and to be honest I’m a little disappointed in myself for giving in.

But first, let’s take a step back.

Earlier this year, I spent a fair amount of money on the new Allpa 35L backpack from Cotopaxi with the thought “this will be my under 2 weeks and under trip bag.”  In the most travel nerd way I was beyond excited.  I was actually counting down the days (ordered on their Indiegogo project) until it got shipped.  Embarrassingly, I even emailed Cotopaxi (multiple times) to get a timeframe on when it would arrive.  Yes I was that excited.  The bag is small enough to be a carry on and has enough pockets and room carry basically everything you need (if you know how to pack effectively).  At the time, I had a few weekend trips coming up and I wanted to try the new bag out, but alas it wasn’t meant to be and I never got to try it out.

 

By the the time I got the bag it was clear that Costa Rica was going to be its first trip (for those wondering the bag is awesome and well worth the price/wait). I was excited about the challenge of 11 days and only 35L of space.  I’ve always considered myself a pretty minimalist low maintenance traveler but this was a chance to take it to another level.  No carry on roller bag for me.

Quick Tangent:
I’ve spent countless hours complaining about people with roller bags and even used the phrase “roller bag people are everything wrong with the world”  The mindset between someone with a roller bag and someone with a backpack is similar to the difference in the travel community between a tourist and a traveler.  Fair or not, I’ve always considered myself to be in the latter category.  So now I finally have a backpack to replace any need of ever using a roller bag again.  Happy days are here.

Normally when I travel I rely heavily on public transport.  I take trains, planes, and buses whenever possible  But after speaking with Jordan. who’d been to Costa Rica twice, he recommended renting a car and driving from place to place.   The biggest reason this was appealing is because of the freedom it gives me.  It plays right into my “not having a real plan” goal for this trip.  I could stay as long in a place as I want and wouldn’t have to worry about missing a train or a bus running late.  After weighing both the pros and cons I decided to take his advice and rent a car.  

Renting a car may prove to be the best or worst decision of my entire trip.  Driving by myself in a foreign country is really the only thing that’s given me any sort of anxiety about this trip.  I don’t have anyone to rely on if the car breaks down (I’m not handy), if I get in a wreck, or if I get lost.  But a secondary result of renting a car is it allows me extra space- to bring a second bag.  Ironically, instead of going the minimalist route on the trip and really utilizing my new Allpa I’m bringing more luggage than I took to spend a month in Southeast Asia- hence the disappointment I feel in myself.

With that said, it would be foolish to not take advantage of the extra room I have; especially since I rarely “bring things just in case” when I travel.  

Below you’ll find a list of everything I am bringing with me to Costa Rica for my 11-day trip and which bag I put it in.  For the record, I could have gotten by with just the Allpa (at least that’s what I’m telling myself).

Cotopaxi Allpa 35 L (carry on)

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Essentials

  • Passport
  • Global Entry and Priority Pass Cards
  • Sunglasses
  • Glasses & Case
  • Travel Towel
  • Travel Pillow
  • Sleep Mask
  • The Rum Diaries by Hunter S. Thompson
  • Notebook
  • Toiletries
    • Toothbrush & toothpaste
    • Contact solution and container
    • Razor and trimmer
    • Body wash
    • Comb

Tech

  • DJI Spark Drone
  • GoPro Hero 5 and 3-way stick
  • Macbook Pro & Charger
  • Apple Earbuds
  • Hard Drive
  • Battery Pack
  • Portable Speaker
  • Sennheiser HD 380 Pro headphones

Clothes

  • 2 Swim Trunks
  • 2 Tank Tops
  • Longsleeve Tee
  • 5 T-shirts
  • 5 pair of boxers
  • Surfing Rash Guard Longsleeve Shirt
  • 1 gym short
  • 2 pair of shorts
  • Cotopaxi Rain Jacket
  • Long pants (for jungle hiking)
  • Hat
  • 4 pairs of socks
  • Sandals

Deuter 65 L (Checked Bag)

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Essentials

  • Drone controller
  • Bug Spray
  • 2 Spray Sunscreen
  • Headlamp
  • GoPro Accessories
    • 2 extra batteries and charger
    • Clamp mount
    • Additional holders

Because “What If”

  • Hammock
  • Blanket
  • 1 L of Seagram’s whiskey
  • Hiking Boots
  • 1 pair of socks
  • Day Pack
  • 2 L Hydration Pack
  • Camping Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Beach Towel
  • Water shoes
  • Nebraska Flag

I truly believe if I wanted to make the one bag work I could have, but I didn’t.  Certain things, bug spray, sunscreen, whiskey, etc,  I could have bought when I landed, but I know those things are cheaper in the states.  With no plan, I have no idea what opportunities may present themselves over the next 11 days so I’m okay giving in to overpacking.  

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Whether I end up sleeping on the beach beneath the stars, hiking through the Costa Rican jungle, or hammocking on a mountain overlooking a volcano I want to be prepared.  Now I have all the stuff I need.  If worse comes to worse and I don’t need something I can leave it in the car and not worry about it.  I don’t have to carry it around or cram my two bags on a bus or train.  

This was a rare chance for me to be over prepared and give into the “what if I need it” urge that I always fight when packing.  

I may not even open my 2nd bag, but hey, at least I have it.

The best way to keep up with my adventures is to follow me on Instagram- Todds_Tales.

Stay Gold.

Todd’s Tales meets Chase Chronicles: Chapter #1

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One of my best friends started his solo one way trip to Southeast Asia this week.  He posted his first VLOG documenting some time at his first stop: Bangkok, Thailand.

I’m beyond happy for him because I know it’s something he’s been wanting to do for awhile- basically since we first met in Europe back in 2014 (that’s a great story and one I’m sure I’ll get to at some point).  Knowing my vagabond side all too well, he asked me a few months ago to go with and it killed me to tell him no.  I know he’s going to have a great time (not as great as he would if I were there though). I plan on keeping up with his adventures on my blog by sharing his videos and adding a little commentary of my own.

Be prepared.  Both for his videos and my unfiltered comments on his choices over the next year.

 

  •  While I love the guitar intro would have been great to know what the hell he was signing.  Maybe give us less cultured people some help next time?
  • With the time-lapse video footage, all I can picture is Chase standing on the side of a street in Bangkok with his camera watching traffic like some weirdo tourist.  Love that he’s willing to look like a tourist (a dirty word to a traveler) for his VLOG.
  • I’ve known Chase for almost 4 years.  Dude has never been up before 2 pm in his life.  He came to visit me in KC and I was home from work before he was up off my couch.
  • Love the cutaway but would have enjoyed more about Why. Why SE Asia. Why a one-way ticket. Why now. Why not slip me a Xanax and take me with you.
  • Chase makes a great point.  The best way to explore a city is to get lost in it.  When you keep your eyes up (instead of in a guidebook) you see a place in a whole new way.  It’s how I’ve discovered countless hidden gems that never make it onto TripAdvisor or Lonely Planet.
  • 23 countries?  What an amateur.
  • Another reason to explore a city by foot?  You can have 3 breakfasts guilt free and never worry about gaining weight.  Though if all you’re eating is rice and egg that won’t be an issue anyway
  • A real west coaster doesn’t fear a little rain.  Super disappointed. Where’s your sense of adventure?!
  • Chase and 4 random girls.  Some things never change.
    • Quick history lesson: I first met Chase at Roxy (a club in Prague) when my friends and I started chatting up, you guessed it, 4 random girls who Chase met at his hostel.  If it ain’t broke don’t fix it my man.
  • When we were leaving Bangkok for Chang Mai each of my friends set off the metal detectors.   Can’t decide if the same thing happening to Chase makes me feel better or worse.
  • Knowing Chase, I was legit worried he was about to unintentionally lead those girls down a sketch dark alley never to be heard from again.  Glad they made it out alive and with all their stuff.
  • I feel like I would have been able to swing a free drink while getting my free massage.
  • Speaking of massage, I’ve never heard someone mispronounce the word “massage” before. Must be that west coast accent of his.
  • “I’ve had a Swedish Massage before” #humblebrag
  • Not my favorite place in Thailand but the high up views of Bangkok are incredible.  If you ever get a chance you’ve got to see it for yourself
  • Made me cringe (for her sake) when Chase put Eva on the spot and she has 0 excitement in her voice.  Gonna chalk it up to still being half asleep from the massage
  • “Bring your own alcohol” a lesson not just for the Baiyoke Sky Hotel

Safe Travels Chase and Stay Gold.