Making of a Friendship

I met someone this past week. He’s a younger male version of me.

He’s a seeker of adventures, challenges, and new things. Much like me, he bores easily, and has many interests. As he listed things, activities, and sports he’s tried or is interested in trying – I listened in awe of the similarities. His struggles of balancing his desires for the unconventional with life’s expectations, and responsibilities also rang with familiarity. His yearning to commit to a relationship, but fear and inability to do so, hit right at home. He needs to feel free, to explore and to push himself. When he starts something, he wants to be good at it/master it. He jumps into things completely and fully; but can also be totally lazy about other things. Again, I’ve never heard someone describe themselves and feel like they were describing me.

He is however, a lot of more outgoing, energetic…and “youthful” – a term to kindly describe the biggest difference between us. He still has a few of the flaws/issues I’ve worked through over the years. I don’t doubt he’ll figure them out too.

He made me laugh…a lot. I had fun with him and enjoyed being around him.

We often found ourselves pedaling in front of the group, sometimes in silence (mostly because I was actually out of breath), and sometimes chatting. We sat across from each other the first night at dinner, and became pretty inseparable from that point on. We shared rooms, a tent and even a bed, but there was no funny business. It wasn’t like that between us.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s an attractive guy. I can definitely see why women pursue him. Especially younger women, who think it’s possible to tame a lion…who get caught up in his charisma, energy and drive, while unaware of everything else going on underneath. He knows how to be sweet…and if he wanted to, I’m sure he could have followed that with quite a bit of charm, but he didn’t. He knew about my faith, and belief and respected them…or maybe he wasn’t attracted to me, or he was afraid I’d fall for him, and felt a need to protect me from himself (clearly not knowing who he was dealing with). Who knows? It really doesn’t matter; I just know I can trust him, and I can be fully comfortable and myself around him. There was no expectation. No weirdness. It just was. There was such a simplicity to it.

Meeting a truly kindred spirit in my opinion is pretty rare. At least, it has been for me.

I have very few friends. I usually rather be alone than in the company of others, but I didn’t mind being around him, dare I say, I even liked having him around. I have what I consider a couple of work friends, but much of what we have in common is rooted in the work we do. With him, it’s different, it’s rooted in being so alike.

Friendship requires effort. To no great surprise, we’re both crappy at nurturing and maintaining friendships. He did invite me to come visit him, and to participate in a run that he and his family put together to honor his father. That puts the ball in my court, and it freaks me out, which is why I’m writing this blog post. I need to remind myself that sharing the week with him was a lot of fun. Further developing the friendship, and possibly having someone to go on some of my future adventures with could be pretty awesome. He’s up to just about anything, he’s physically fit, totally able to keep up (makes me push myself), he’s low maintenance, quick to get ready, and he makes me laugh. As far as what I would look for in a friend…he’s a pretty solid match. The only way to really know, is to work on keeping in touch with him.

 

Dries and Ann
Dries and Ann

 

How About You?

Have you ever met someone unexpectedly?  Were you able to maintain a long-distance friendship? Feel free to comment below or contact Ann’s Adventure Tour Writer and Blogger here.

Capturing Beauty

I never had an interest in photography, not even when it became everyone’s favorite new (expensive) hobby. I am not even sure I’m into photography now, but I do have thousands of pictures on my phone. I do take the time to edit some of my pictures, and I have a pretty active Instagram account.

The Edited Image
The Edited Image

Some people have told me I take great pictures, and I have quite an eye; I don’t know if that’s true. All I know is that in the last 15 months of traveling, I’ve been exposed to so much beauty; I’ve grown a desire to capture it.

The desire to capture the beauty grew out of wanting to share it and memorialize it.

The Simple
The Simple

 

The Unique
The Unique

When I look through my pictures, I see the difference from the pictures taken during my first trips and my more recent pictures. Along the way, I grew more patient. I stopped rushing to click and move on. I began to take the time to really see and watch what I was blessed to experience and then click to take pictures. It’s actually a very interesting cause and effect.

Slowing down to better see what’s in front of me has resulted in better pictures.  Creating better pictures has caused me to look at things in a new way.

Capturing beauty has motivated me to seek out more beauty to capture. Becoming more patient, has allowed me to notice a lot more.

The Artistic Vision
The Artistic Vision

I don’t own a fancy camera. I have my phone camera and recently, I purchased a GoPro (which I’m not familiar with at all, yet). I know the type of camera matters, and understand there are many tricks to taking better picture.  Even though I don’t actually know any of the tricks and techniques that’s where not being a photographer comes in. I’m not interested right now in complicating the process I have.

While I want to capture the beauty of my travels, I don’t want the photography to overtake what my experiences are meant to be.

Simple Scenes (this one from Paris)
Simple Scenes (this one from Paris)

Which brings me to another point about captured beauty, it doesn’t matter how incredible the photographer is – seeing it for yourself is much better. Looking at some pictures might feel like being there, but trust me, it isn’t the same as being there.

I would hope the pictures I take, allow you to see the world (as I see it).  More importantly, though, I hope these pictures encourage you to go see the world for yourself.

Capturing Art - Horse Mural in Salzburg
Capturing Art – Horse Mural in Salzburg

How About You?

What have you seen in pictures that you are planning on going to see? Leave a comment and tell me about it!  You can also contact Ann’s Adventure Tour Writer and Blogger here.

American Conundrum When Living in Europe

I love, love, love living in Europe because the opportunities to travel in Europe are endless, and the different type and quantity of activities are mind blowing.  The opportunity to work and live in Europe is a once in a lifetime chance to experience a plethora of cultures, view incredible historical sites, explore the great outdoors, and live a life others can only dream about. Trains, planes and automobiles can take you anywhere you want to go or see anything that tickles your fancy.

Yet how do you balance travel with your daily life and prioritize it all? It’s a nice problem to have…but it’s still a problem, and at times a true conundrum.

The options alone make it a huge challenge to figure out what to do and where. Add on top of that, long work hours and the day-to-day requirements and responsibilities from having a job, a house, and running a blog and it can easily make you feel like it’s impossible to get it all done.

Narrow Down Options Based on your Interests

To ensure you get the most out of your trips (time and money), the best thing you can do is prioritize your trips and how you plan to spend your money base on what you love to do the most. If you love wine, food and beer – plan your trips to cities, events and occasions that match those passions. Do your keyword search online based on your interests, available dates for travel, and place you would like to see.

I’m into adventures and outdoor activities, so I start with broad searches, and based on the results I try to narrow it down. I’ve discovered for cycling/mountain biking it’s insanely difficult – the options all sound so interesting and fun.

Narrow Down by Cost and Availability

Trust me, no matter what your interests are…you’ll get a lot of search results which can become overwhelming. Try further narrowing down your options by some other preference you might have and by finding out cost of transportation, tours, and lodging.

When I researched my trip to mountain bike in Morocco, my goal was to go somewhere that would be warm, while it was still cold in Germany, and I wanted to mountain bike. I sold myself on the idea…without first looking into flights. That was a big mistake. I ended up having to push the trip by a couple of weeks to find an affordable flight.

Take the Tours

Planning trips is time consuming. Planning multiple trips at once is a nightmare…at least to me. The fastest way to plan and book a trip is to join a tour. For the most part, the prices are very reasonable and everything is taken care of.

As I make my plans to visit Belguim, Munich, Venice and Amsterdam, I am looking for tours on Viator. I’ve used the site a few times before; it’s easy to use and it’s reliable. This ensures you have everything booked before you get to your destination and you can make a daily agenda.

Forgo the Clean House

My house is not a total mess…but it’s also not as clean or organized as I would like it to be.  I can spend the weekend cleaning the house, or I can spend the weekend traveling somewhere. Between the traveling adventures, I have to work (and I work a lot of 10-12 hr days), grocery shop, cook, clean, do laundry, blog, pay bills, interact on social media, and plan future trips. It can’t all be done perfectly…so the house is not as organized as it ought to be.

Hire Some Help

How do you want to spend your time? There’s only so much time in a day.  It is important to prioritize what gets done, what does not get done, and what someone else can do. I’ve hired someone to help me with SEO and my social media needs in order to make sure I get my content out to everyone; I know I can’t give it the right amount of time on my own. I should probably look into getting a cleaning lady too!

Don’t Settle in a Routine

The biggest mistake an American living in Europe can make is to forget you are living in Europe because the routine of day-to-day life gets you into a rut/comfort zone. Plan trips, pay for the trips and then make yourself get out there. There is a lot to see and do and it can be overwhelming to plan, but it’s so worth it because it will never be this easy again to have a buffet of travel experiences at your disposal.

How About You?

What steps have you taken to ensure organized travel adventures? Leave a comment and tell me about it or contact Ann Bernard Travel Writer and Blogger here.

Rejection Folder

I just created a Rejection Folder in my email to file a few emails that have come in recently. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve submitted proposals to various sites and organizations for speaking gigs and other inquiries.  A few rejections have started coming in. First off, let me just say that I rather get a rejection than never hear back from people/organizations. So why am I keeping the rejection emails?!?

Hundreds No’s on Your Way to a Yes

Sales has never been my strong suit for a variety of reasons and I need to address those reasons and work on them. Bottom line is my bottom line.  I need to sale myself, what I bring to the table and my services.  I need to realize, accept and roll with the fact that I will likely get rejected and hear a lot of no’s before I get to the yes’s I’m looking for.  I have a lot of different things to “pitch” so I’m rolling up my sleeves and embracing my NO’s because each one is getting me closer to my YES!

A No is a Not NOW

The organizations and people who have responded back have shown the professional courtesy I seek in the people I interact with, so they are the type of people are want to work with…I’m keeping their rejection emails so I have their contact information for a later time. What I have to offer and my experience level will change over time…so may be right now they aren’t interested but that doesn’t mean they won’t be down the road.

When I was pitching WhyGoSolo to investors I ended up letting the rejections get to me.  I didn’t embrace them fully like I needed to. I took some of them personally and didn’t use the full powers of the NOs to grow and improve as much I should have. I was much more stubborn back then, not so much anymore.  Life has humbled me. Thinking and doing things differently in order to have different results!!

Falling in Love Again

Heartbreaks are horrible. It’s so hard to get over the disappointment, betrayal, pain and anger that heart breaks bring us.  But anyone who has ever experienced a heartbreak knows that at some point you wake-up and realize – your heartbreak is no more. Your heart is healed and once more hopeful.

In good old Ann fashion I’ve given a lot of thoughts to my past relationships and what went wrong with them. I’ve always been very clear about the type of man I want and need in my life; where I’ve gone wrong is in the selection process. I’ve fallen short in actually selecting the right man.  Thus far, I’ve picked men who had the POTENTIAL to be the man I desired. They’ve had traits and qualities that lead me to believe they would become the man I want.

It’s no longer a surprise to me that none of them have become the man that’s best suited for me.  (I did learn about myself in each of my past relationships so they all served a purpose) You can’t change people, can’t rescue them and can’t help them grow…unless they want to.  This time around, being older and a little wiser, I’m seeking and going to wait for the man who actually IS what I want.

No more “projects” for me. The emotionally unavailable men with unresolved issues and baggage need not apply.  Looking for a man who is physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually healthy.  A man who shares the same passions, virtues, morals and character as me.

Not planning on going all out to find him – I think that’s highly unnecessary. I’m going to simply become more aware about who I come into contact with. Once I meet him, I’m going to take my time getting to know him…hold the assumptions and the tests. His true character and essence will show itself and I won’t ignore the bad or cover it up with hopes he’ll change.

There’s no big rush since the next 6-8 months are going to be filled with uncertainty and it’s always tough to get to know someone new during times of uncertainty however…I leave it up to God.  He knows when the right time is.

I know where I’m heading and I’m looking for someone already traveling down the same road.

Wearing All my Lives at Once

Most days, I get up around 5:45am and I’m at the gym by 6:15/6:30am.  I return home around 8am and on Tuesdays and Thursdays; I run around in a rush to get ready to get to school since my first class is at 9:30am.  On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I’m not in as much of a rush but I always have things to do before I leave the house to make it to class by 1pm. On Tuesdays, I’m at school from 9:30 am to 9pm.  On Thursdays, I skip my French class in the afternoon to rush to the Marine Corps base, put my uniform on and fill my billet as the S-6 for Intel Support Battalion for HQ, Marine Forces Reserves. Every moment that I’m not at school or on base I’m studying, doing homework, or doing social media consultant work for Go Local NOLA or making an attempt at marketing The Loop of Confidence to get  clients.

My life right now is not just hectic…it’s quite honestly WEIRD!

My life feels like I’m wearing all of my lives at once…

  • Student
  • Social Media Consultant
  • Entrepreneur (The Loop of Confidence)
  • Marine (USMCR)

The plus side of my life at the moment is that for the most part I’m managing to make ends meet while “working for myself”. At the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, I lived off my savings which was followed by living on debt which eventually lead me to having to take full time billets in the Marine Corps.  But for the first time, since leaving the Marine Corps in 2005, I’m squeezing by without having to be full time in the Marine Corps.  I’m making it thanks to the living stipend that’s part of the 9/11 GI Bill, doing consultant work and drilling in the USMCR.  I hate being 33 years old and having to pinch every penny…particularly since I envisioned I’d be a millionaire by now but I’m focusing on the victory (being free of full time employment and self-sufficient) not the deficiencies.

What irks me the most about my current situation is that in order to make ends meet, the majority of my time must go towards the things that generate income which leaves little time to dedicate to The Loop of Confidence.  Most entrepreneurs end up in this similar situation. Entrepreneurs know what they love, and are passionate about…what they wish to dedicate all their time to but have to be realistic about paying the bills and making ends meet.  I no longer have the luxury of savings to support me while I pursue my entrepreneurial dreams.

I didn’t imagine that my life would become a combination of all my lives at once…and I can’t figure out what it actually means. Last year…around the beginning of the summer when I felt really lost, the thing that made the most sense was to start going to school.  This was an oddity in of itself since going to college full time was never something I had pictured myself doing…but since I was going to get paid to go to school – it made sense to do it.  Meaning, the Universe and circumstances lead me down that road.  Next, I had a aha moment which lead to re-opening the door to The Loop of Confidence but so far that has been slow going since I really haven’t been able to market it properly.

The consultant work and the Marine Corps Reserve were two “opportunities” to add my measly income and neither required much effort on my part to get.  When “opportunities” present themselves detached of adversity and challenges – it makes sense to embrace them.

My story is undoubtedly still being written and since I can’t make sense of it – all I can do is continue on as I am and see where it takes me.  I have an extremely clear image of where I want life to take me and some days I feel I’m heading towards that image/life I want for myself while some other days all I can do is ask Why?

The most difficult part of wearing all my lives at once is not really having anyone who can relate to all of my “lives”.  Mostly all the students I encounter are either younger than myself and full time students or adults working full time/part time jobs.  They don’t know anything about the military aspect of my life and even less about the entrepreneurial aspects of my life.  Same can be said when I’m wearing the uniform and when I’m around other entrepreneurs.  I relate to the people I encounter in the capacity under which they fit into my life.  God willing, someday soon I will live the life of a successful entrepreneur and narrow down the scope under which I exist.