Saturday, January 18, 2014

Engage in the Creative Process

One of the best phases of the journey is the planning process. It can be overwhelming, but when broken down into tiny chunks and worked on daily, or every other day it is more than manageable and very exciting. The journey doesn't begin on the first day of travel. It really begins when the thought of the journey is seeded in your mind. By fully embracing the idea, and creatively putting pen to paper (or keystrokes to your computer) we begin to engage the universe to manifest it.

So I was debating where I should create a travel plan. Sometimes I like to be a feather in the wind and go where the wind blows. However, by nature I am meticulous about planning and the details, so I chose the route of creating a tentative plan and allowing LIFE to bring what it may on the journey and flex my plan to fit LIFE'S little surprises.

A long time ago, one of my good friends Meredith told me to pro-actively share your plans/ideas with others. Ever since I had the idea of traveling the US and Spain, I have shared my story with others. The personal benefits of sharing is that you remove any self doubt about following through, you continually feed your soul with positive energy about the trip, and you freely solicit great suggestions and feedback from your friends and strangers about places to visit, to eat, to stay and people who can assist you on your path. And occasionally you seed the idea of a similar journey in an another at the perfect time in their lives when they need it the most. Sharing is a very powerful process not only to the giver but the receiver as well.

One of my passions is to use technology to positively influence the world. I decided to actively use technology to create my plan, share my story with others, and engage others through feedback and suggestions.

Facebook and Google's various tools have been great assets in this process. Google Docs has allowed me schedule and outline my travel plans as a spreadsheet. It gives me a high level view of my entire travel plan. By sharing this with others I have starting to get fantastic feedback from friends of the cities I am planning to go to. Please keep the feedback coming!

Today I decided to take the spreadsheet one step further and use Google Maps to visually pin the cities on the map. I ran into my neighbors Jon, Sarah and Ella at Lex Coffee. I shared my story with them and gave me great suggestions of places that I must visit in Nashville, TN, and in or near Los Angeles. I just realized that I could document every suggestion in Google Maps and as I drive through the cities and I could visit those locations if time allows. Brilliant!!!

So friends if you have suggestions of attractions along the way that I must see, restaurants/diners that I must feast at, cultural music performances that I must hear, search for it, and pin it to the map. Or you can just comment, fb message, or email me. You never know if your suggestion will influence someone else who lives nearby to visit your suggestion including myself.

Then there is Facebook: the tool that allows us to share socially. If it weren't for facebook much of this trip wouldn't have evolved to what it is now. Facebook allows me to search for friends who live in the cities I plan to visit, to chat and reconnect with them, and to actively share my blog posts with friends and family who are socially connected to me.

Finally it is this blog, that allows me to document my journey from start to finish, and share my experiences with others. If you wish to share my blog with others please do. The more the merrier. I hope through sharing my journey I am able to positive impact others in some way that leads them closer to what they are called to do - as I search for my own calling.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Journey begins

After working in the non-profit industry for 12.5 almost 13 years, I'm taking 3 months off (Mar-Jun 2014) 9 months off (Apr - Dec 2014) to recharge my batteries and satisfy those travel cravings that have built up over time. Through the process of those 12.5 almost 13 years, I changed immigration status multiple times: from being an international student, to becoming a temporary US worker, to self-deporting due to a hole in immigration law, back to becoming a temporary US worker, and now a full immigrant. Five more years and then citizenship. The journey has been long, and the American dream lives on.

As a new immigrant to the United States, I seek to appreciate my new home more and learn about its diversity - culturally and geographically. Living in Virginia, I have traveled to various parts of the US before, but mostly on the East Coast and only for a few days. There is so much of the mid-west to west coast that I yet have to experience. So part of my US travel is being the adventurer and going to areas where I’ve always wanted to go.

The other part is the settler. I’ve lived in Thibodaux, Louisiana for 3-3.5 years of college. I’ve lived in Lexington, Virginia for close to 13 years. Thibodaux has a population size of 14K and Lexington has a population size of 7K. I spent my childhood in Dubai until 1998 when I came to the US to study as an international student. Dubai had a population size of around 750K (1998) and now it is at 2 million (2014). I left at the tipping point of becoming what it is today. Needless to say, but I’m definitely between an urban and suburban guy. While I have lived in small towns for over 16 years and appreciated many of the luxuries a small town offers, I crave metropolitan culture, lifestyle, food, languages, and everything else the bustling city life brings. So finding a new home/new city for the next decade, score, or more to live in and celebrate life is on my priority list. The other part of my travel takes me to Spain. In 2012, I watched a movie called The Way directed by Emilio Estevez and his father Martin Sheen. The movie (which is available on Netflix) left an indelible mark on me to take the journey of St. John Pied de Port (the edge of France) to Santiago de Compostela and then continue to walk to the edge Spain touching the Altantic Ocean.

People on this journey go for different reasons: mid-life crisis, getting over a divorce, quitting smoking, losing weight etc. Mine are two-fold. One, I’ve always wanted to go to Europe and travel. I am at this point in my life where I have no debt, no significant other, and no major obligations to fulfill. Almost complete freedom that I aim to ecstatically enjoy while it is still present. Second, I need to reconnect or rediscover my purpose. Through the varied experiences of my college and employed years I have developed many personal and business skills, and I’m confident and ambitious with my abilities. The real question for me is how to utilize those skills by aligning them with my purpose. I have been feeling disconnected from my purpose - what I am called to fulfill in my existence. I hope that by going on this journey and avoiding the distractions and obligations of ‘organized life’, I can get clarity of my purpose and return to live a purpose driven life moving forward.

I am no longer a religious man, but I definitely swim in the ocean of spirituality. As I wade through my journey please wish me well, send me your good vibes, positive intentions, prayers and wishes in silent form or other. I will hear them (consciously and not), because we are all connected.

I will strive to make every blog post honest and raw as possible. I wish to learn great lessons along the way but also not to be trapped in my own bubble. My journey insights may not just come from just my personal reflection. It can also be revealed through my shared experience with you. You may hold the key to unlocking my struggle with your thoughts and ideas on some of my posts. Or perhaps my journey will be the key that opens a locked door in your life that is filled with alternate opportunities and possibilities. As I mentioned earlier we are all connected in this tapestry of life.