Tag Archives: friendship

The Season of Gratitude

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Has anyone else felt that the holidays came at the blink of an eye this year? It was fall, and suddenly it is full-on Christmastime. I hope my American followers enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday as a time to relax, reflect, and spend time with family and friends. My holiday wasn’t necessarily relaxing, but I am happy that I made the most of spending time with family and friends throughout the week – from Ohio (Cleveland and Columbus) to Michigan (Royal Oak, Rochester, Bloomfield Hills, and Detroit!).

While it has been easy for me to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of the season, from travel planning, to shopping for gifts, to decorating my apartment, I wanted to make sure to spend time reflecting. After all, the holiday season for me is the season of gratitude. I wanted to share a few things that make me feel especially grateful this year and hopefully they will inspire you to think about what you are grateful for as well!

First, I am grateful for creativity. Throughout the fall I have had a huge craving for the arts. If I see or think of something creative, I want to try it! I made candles with my neighbors, which is surprisingly much easier than you would think. You collect old jars you have around the house, melt wax in a pan, pour wax into the jars, and mix in your favorite combination of scents from essential oils or spices (fun fact – turmeric is a great spice to color your candle), and voila – you have a candle! I also painted freestyle with my neighbors in our own version of a “wine and paint” party. This is much more budget friendly and intimate way to paint with your friends – you get to choose the wine, paint at your own pace, and be at the comfort of your own home! I practiced flow painting with family during the Thanksgiving – which was so much fun and also therapeutic. What could be more fun (from an arts perspective) than mixing paint with Elmer’s glue and water, combining colors in a cup, and pouring them onto a canvas in whichever order you would like? You would be amazed how quickly you can look like a professional artist through flow painting! And most recently, I decorated a gingerbread house with my dad so that we could share enjoying the Christmas spirit even though we live far apart. Through all of these experiences, I have found that the arts are one way for me to focus my mind on the present. It helps clear my mind even for a short moment – which frees up space for me to problem solve and reflect in my daily life. It is very rewarding to see the outcome, a tangible and visual example of my work. I look forward to continuing the arts in the new year!

I am grateful for home. I have realized how important it is to have a home – and I don’t mean a physical location. My apartment in Greenville feels like home with all the memories from loved ones, including furniture from my grandma, decorations from my travels, warm candles, and photos of important people in my life. Spending time in Michigan with family feels like home, because my loved ones make it home. Even as my relatives have moved locations, I still feel at home when we are all together. It is the sense of togetherness that makes a place home for me. I can say that my heart feels its best and the most complete when it has a sense of “home.”

I am grateful for flexibility. There is no better feeling than when I have options and I don’t feel “stuck” – whether that means in my life decisions, my daily schedule, or my travels. Flexibility and free time are incredibly liberating and are helping me as I plan for the future. I feel lucky that my job allows me to have work-life balance – to flexibly schedule my commitments at work and at home. I just started the book, “The Power of Now,” and through that I am already realizing that time is imaginary and we should never feel stuck in a situation. Everything can be much more flexible if we separate ourselves from time pressures and worries and focus on the present and what we truly want. I have a feeling I will write a post about “The Power of Now” based on how much it has inspired me in just the first 50 pages of the book.

I am grateful for friendship. As I have moved every year since officially being an adult, and often multiple times per year, I could not be more grateful for the friendships I have made along the way. New and old friends along the way have helped me explore new places, laughed with me on the good days, cried with me on the bad days, and reflected on life. Together we have shared experiences that have helped me grow and prepare for the next phase. I can honestly say I don’t know where I would be without them – thank you to everyone who has been a friend along the way – can’t wait for more adventures together!

What are you grateful for? I hope these reflections help all of us remember to pause and think about the season of gratitude. May the holidays bring you much happiness, joy, and peace this year!

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How Mom-Daughter Trips Contribute to Friendships

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In honor of my best friend’s birthday, I wanted to write about our awesome tradition to go on mom-daughter vacations when we were growing up. Chelsea and I first met in preschool and were great friends and little rascals through elementary school in Michigan. Chelsea moved to Alabama in fourth grade, which we (and our parents) knew would make our friendship challenging. But our jokes, memories, and traditions made us want to put forth as much effort as possible to keep our friendship alive. And thanks to our moms, we were able to see each other at least once a year for girls’ weekend vacations. Over the years, we traveled to Chicago, New York, Boston, Florida, San Francisco, and Nashville. During every trip, we would catch up, eat too much food, site see, explore, and laugh so hard that our stomachs would hurt. I will always remember our trips fondly and give them much credit for keeping Chelsea in my life over the years and continuing our friendship that has lasted over 19 years!

The beginning

The beginning of our friendship

Why were the mom-daughter trips so important to our friendship?

  • They allowed us to have girl time, where our sole focus was our friendship. We could explore new destinations together, catch up on life, share stories, and reminisce our younger years. It was all about “us” and having a good time together.
  • They helped us relax. Going away from distractions of daily life at home, we no longer had to think about chores, school or commitments at home. We could just have fun and relax together.
  • They helped us continue to make new memories that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. With each new trip came new stories, laughs, and memories to share and keep our long distance friendship alive. Chelsea and I still to this day talk about memories of our past trips. When we moved away for college, having memories of our trips made us want to continue to travel together. We visited each other’s college campuses and most recently Chelsea has visited me in Cleveland. Now I owe her a trip down south one day soon!
Boston Trip in High School

Boston Trip in High School

I could not be more grateful to our moms for helping keep our friendship together and planning such fun trips over the years. Chelsea remains my best friend. I hope that if we have children in the future, we can plan similar trips with our daughters. Mom-daughter trips have greatly impacted my life and I want to pass along the tradition to the next generation.

Entrepreneurship and Travel: Abroaders’ Approach

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Last fall, through the power of social media, I connected with the founders of Abroaders who are game changers in entrepreneurship and travel.

What is Abroaders?

Abroaders is a resource and community that helps people make travel affordable through frequent flyer points and credit card deals. It provides members with “travel hacking news, members only travel tips, and information on how to leverage international travel for explosive personal growth and business development. Cheers to a life without borders!”

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I asked co-founder, A.J. Dunn, to provide us with his perspective on Abroaders’ approach to entrepreneurship and travel. Thank you, A.J., for sharing your insights!


It has never been a better time to consider entrepreneurship.  Especially if you value travel.

There are lots of ways to quench your thirst for travel.  Teaching English abroad, using vacation time to travel, negotiating remote work, etc. If your thirst for travel is similar to mine, the above examples are great, but won’t fully satisfy the need to travel.  I really wanted to travel with no limits.  Never be bound to one location for any reason other than I wanted to be there.  I wanted location independence.  The only way I saw how to do this was win the lottery (be independently wealthy) or have a source of income that didn’t require me to be in any particular place at any particular time unless that was my wish. I chose the latter.

This post isn’t meant to serve as a measuring stick for success, or to measure our travel prowess against one another. So many digital nomads have made more money than me and so many digital nomads have been to more countries than me.  But I am living my dream, and that is all that matters.  We are all on personal journey’s and most of us envision our journey’s to have a different sequence and we are all en route to different places, both literally and metaphorically.

Where you’ve been is nice, where you’re going is exciting, but nothing can compare to right now.

This post is going to outline how I’ve been able to travel the globe (both fast and slow travel) over the last 4 years thanks to entrepreneurship as well as beating the airlines at their own game.

A quick explanation of how I can travel the globe full-time.

Like I said, I am where I want to be.  Maybe it isn’t where you want to be. But there are certain concepts and tools that grant us the true freedom to do with our time whatever it is we please.

In a nutshell, I can travel the globe and experience all things travel because of two things.

  • Entrepreneurship: Using award points and frequent flyer miles allows you to fly for next to nothing….However, food, shelter, water, and having a social life typically require some actual cash.  Entrepreneurship has provided me the income to pay for everything outside of plane tickets.
  • Mastering award travel: International airfare is really expensive.  My business partner and I save tens of thousands of dollars each year thanks to research, a strong attention to detail, and strong systems that have allowed us to master the “frequent flyer miles” or “award travel” game.

Note:  If you’re willing to invest your time and are interested in learning how to master award travel, my company has created some free resources on how to do this.  We created a quick start email course (get sent a series of emails teaching you the essentials).  And we have a weekly podcast that is free and takes a deeper dive into different topics pertaining to award travel. If you want to reap the rewards without investing the time, we have a paid service as well.

Things to consider before taking the plunge into entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship is a wild ride.  I highly recommend you watch this 3-minute YouTube video that explains the entrepreneurial journey in a more concise and elegant way than I can.

Here are some key points and questions I think are very important before you take the plunge

  • Before starting a company, seriously consider having a business partner (will touch on starting a business with a friend later)

At the end of the day, there are like 39842903843342987324 things that need to be accomplished or accounted for.  And what happens if you get sick?  Or have personal things you need to attend to?  In my opinion, a business partner is crucial and it allows you to share some of the stress and responsibility of being the head honcho.

  • Are you mentally tough?

If you aren’t, do yourself a favor and don’t start a company.  Are you offended that I asked that question? Do yourself a favor and don’t start a company.  There are a lot of stressful things about starting and growing a company and if you don’t consider yourself to be mentally tough, you probably can’t handle it, or maybe you could handle it but lack the confidence necessary to grind your way to success.  I haven’t met a successful entrepreneur that wasn’t mentally tough.

  • Do you REALLY want it or would it be nice?

You have to be a good kind of crazy and obsessed with either your business idea or at the very least obsessed with the freedom that a business could provide you.

  • Are you prepared to make a comically low hourly wage in the beginning?

You can definitely achieve great success entrepreneurially and create systems and build a team that allows your company to remain a well-oiled machine without you….But you need to start somewhere, and it’s tough to train somebody to do something if you haven’t done it yourself.  Sure you can source things like web design, and copy writing, but your core product or service, at least at the beginning you will need to be involved.

Quick tip on remote work.

  • Have a reliable work space (especially if you’ve never worked remotely before)

You don’t need an office.  You don’t even need to be a member at a co-working space (although I do advise this). But working remote is more challenging that people think.  I’ve learned I am most productive when I have a dedicated workspace as opposed to working in bed, at a desk, dinner table, then couch, and so on. Working from home is a blessing and a curse.  TV, laundry, your bed, no boss keeping tabs on you.  Those things are the devil and a distraction for your work day.  But there are great pros like saving money on a commute, not having to drive in traffic, and being able to work from anywhere in the world you want.

Questions to answer before starting a company with a friend.

  • Is this a friend that I ever bicker with over petty things?

If you argue about petty things with someone, you should really avoid going into business with them.  Because there will be non-trivial things you’ll have to have very serious conversations about and come to a joint-conclusion.

Erik and I are both rather frank people that naturally seem to avoid pass-aggressive behavior.  This bodes well for a business partnership IMO.  I can tell Erik I think an idea of his will not work and he doesn’t take it personally (I’d like to think I’m the same way).

My next question is really important in regards to coming to those joint-conclusions both people can buy into I previously mentioned and move forward with.

  • Do both friends (or a group of friends) share the same vision and goals for the venture?

What do you both want?  Money?  To make a change?  To offer a service to help as many people as while making sure you can at least pay the bills?  I feel it’s inevitable with any business you’ll come to the following fork in the road: make more money now, or continue to build as much equity as possible in your core business and turn down faster and larger profits.

That fork in the road seems to be a push-pull thing.  Erik and I have gone both ways at different points in our business.  Our decisions pretty much always came back to the vision we both shared for our business.  The first priority was to achieve location independence.  The ability to be anywhere we wanted whenever we wanted. To work from anywhere.  But we also have lofty financial goals as entrepreneurs based on certain future goals we have as individuals (I’m passionate about education and want loads of cash to put into a non-profit in that space).  We also both wanted to have reasonable standards of living on our entrepreneurial journey.  If we both had some cash in our checking accounts in those early days, we decided to turn down quick wins to build equity in the long game or to take some time off and travel.

  • Are you prepared to do more work than your friend, or believe you do more work than your friend without complaining about it?

This thing is cyclical.  There’s times Erik is more motivated than me to work like a crazy person and vice versa.  When you’re in the zone or really passionate and motivated about an aspect of the business to grow and improve, you can’t assume the other person is “there” with you.  It goes both ways and you just need to accept sometimes you’ll do more heavy lifting than the other person.  And there will be times they do more heavy lifting than you.

  • Is the business more important than your friendship?

This isn’t a rhetorical question.  Some people really care about their businesses and are willing to burn a bridge here and there.  Erik and I have known each other forever and from day 1 we agreed the friendship came first. That was a non-negotiable.

This is not a question to answer, but something to take advantage of….This is your friend.  There’s an incredible amount of trust already built.  Leverage this. Continue to allow yourself to trust the person you know and trust the strengths you know they have.  Lots of people go into businesses with certain people for strategic reasons.  There isn’t the trust built up.  There isn’t the chemistry.  This is an advantage you have when you go into businesses with someone you know well.  It limits the emotional and stress overhead of watching finances like a hawk/etc.

Finally, trust your gut!  Our instincts seem to have evolved further than our ability to rationalize and “think” some things out.  This isn’t always the case, but when in doubt, I firmly beleive that whatever your gut tells you should trump everything else.

My hope for this post is that you found  useful information/tools and are inspired to make entrepreneurship and travel a part of your daily life. Feel free to reach out through the Abroaders website if you have any questions.