Posts Tagged “expression”

The Question of Why: How I Got a Step Closer to My Life’s Purpose

The Question of Why: How I Got a Step Closer to My Life’s Purpose

Pairs Well With…Slight Changes in Course + Mind Benders + Deep thinking + Self Reflection

You know that feeling you get when you read something that doesn’t sit well with you, for whatever reason?  Maybe an article or an idiotic tweet, and it makes your blood boil? You’re fired up and your first instinct is to fire back, but instead, you eye roll to yourself, move on and perhaps think about it here and there throughout the course of the day.

But then there are times when what you read strikes a cord and forces you to think a lot – because somewhere deep down it hits home.  And you can’t stop thinking about it.  And you wish you’d never read it in the first place because somehow, it got you rethinking your actions.

Here, I’ll tell you what I mean. It all started in March back in Hanoi, Vietnam….

la long bay Vietnam

Ha Long Bay Views


I had just landed from Ho Chi Minh City and was about to embark on my first big paid content assignment for a global client. This job was big time, as far as I was concerned, and though I feel like a storyteller extraordinaire most days, I was still a bit nervous.  The company was even paying for my round trip flight on their seaplane, and that isn’t cheap either.  I was starting to get this freelance thing down nicely if I do say so myself.


seaplane ha long bay vietnam travel

A rainy day return flight


Just when I thought I had my life all figured out…

I was in my cab catching up on my morning social medias. My scrolling came to a halt as I began reading this lengthy Instagram post. This excerpt, pulled from the larger message, is the part that got to me:

“The more ‘why’ questions you ask yourself, the more you move towards your real life project, which is what do I conceptually want to leave behind.”

First of all, this was a very mind bending question for 9 am and not being caffeinated. Secondly, what was this post even saying?  Why are people trying to make my life on the road harder than it already is?  I mean, isn’t it enough that I quit my job to figure out my life’s purpose, let alone this extra pressure? I reread the post a few times, and I started questioning myself, something maybe I don’t do often enough. I’m a “just do it” kinda gal.

And so, mainly because my cab ride was obscenely long, and I didn’t want to anticipate my death watching these crazy Hanoi drivers, I started the why exercise. (If you do try this, prepare for where it takes you. Just sayin’.)

I asked myself a multitude of questions:

  • Why am I here?
  • Why did I decide to travel for an entire year?
  • Why did this company fly me out to write for them?
  • Why didn’t I have coffee on the plane?
  • Why do I always gravitate to the non-traditional path of life?
  • Why is it raining today? I didn’t bring warm clothes. (Get back on track Carin…focus!)
  • Why isn’t wine more readily available in Asia? (Now, you’re becoming that Askhole kid from Home Alone! Pull it together.  You want these answers.)
  • Why do I feel I that my biggest success stories will come from running my own business?


(You’ll see from the questions in my head, there’s a theme song that pairs well with these type of thoughts. It’s called Circus Theme, and it’s the worst when one thought triggers a thinking spiral. Ya feel me?)

The list goes on and on. The most frustrating part was when I realized what was firing me up. Many of my answers were “I don’t knows,” and that’s not a good sign because you should always live with purpose. For me, it was an indicator that I had a lot to think about and many hours of goal setting and reflection ahead of me.  Another thing for the endless to-do list.

Pause. Fast forward.  A few months later, I finally had answers to those questions:

  • Why am I here? To build a business outside the confines of a cubicle.
  • Why did I decide to travel for an entire year? To fulfill my dream of living abroad, meet some amazing collaborators along the way, and maybe even test my own capabilities, both personally and professionally.
  • Why did this company fly me out to write for them? They see my talent – and if they do, others do, too.
  • Why do I always gravitate to the non-traditional path?  I refuse to settle for less than I want, even if it means busting ass day in and day out for the perfect work set up.  To me, traditional is boring.  Anyone can do it.  You can choose to reach high or you can choose to coast.
  • Why do I feel I that my biggest success stories will come from running my own business? Because when you invest in yourself, you tell the world that you believe in yourself. You believe in your talents, capabilities, creativity…all while leaving fear behind to continue making forward progress and writing the next chapter in your story.


Storytelling is a talent of mine, and it’s something you’ll continue to see me do more of, both for myself and for others.  In regards to content…well, the good stuff leaves a lasting impression and causes you to think more deeply.  So, the person who created this post got his job done (and his point across) well.  So much so that I devoted a considerable amount of time thinking about it.

So, what’s on YOUR mind?  As always, feel free to drop me a line.  You know I love hearing from you while I’m on the road.

seaplane ha long bay vietnam carin

Ready for takeoff: My first seaplane experience

5 Key Traits That Lead You To Million Dollar Ideas

5 Key Traits That Lead You To Million Dollar Ideas

Pairs Well With…”Giving up on your goal because of one setback is like slashing your other three tires because you got a flat.” – Unknown

“You know, you might be one of the happiest people I know.  You’re like…rainbows and sunshine…pretty much all the time.  Either that or you really keep up a good front, but I doubt it,” a friend said to me last week.  A handful of things, if I may:

  1. Let’s be honest. I don’t have the energy to carry on any sort of facade, especially for the entire three months we’ve been on our trip. Forcing yourself to be something other than what you are, or guarding yourself, is a waste of time. Plus, like the rest of the group I’m traveling with, I’m too busy managing my social medias. C’mon now.
  2. Rest assured, I have my coffee and middle fingers kind of days, too.
  3. I’ve discovered that my happiness lies in my work freedom, which has allowed me to enjoy live differently, but in a more fulfilling way. I get to be creative and design big ideas and collaborations day in and day out.  That’s my sweet spot.
  4. For the record, my friend, you forgot unicorn.  I’m like rainbows and sunshine, but you forgot unicorn.  (Next time.)

I (finally) devoted myself to self-reflection this week, something I promised I would do more of in Cambodia…when I’m not tied up playing tug-o-war over my purse, that is.  I thought about what it is I love so much about my path today, and ultimately, where I want to be at the end of Remote Year. Due to the fact that this question has already been posed by people both in and outside the program, I’ve been forced to think about it, and maybe that’s an okay thing.  I guess it’s good to have clear intentions and know what I’m working towards, right?  I don’t want to find myself in the middle of month twelve thinking, “What happened?” the same way Kanye’s been wondering what’s happened to his career.


At 35, I Still Eat Cake For Breakfast

At 35, I Still Eat Cake For Breakfast

Pairs Well With…”Act as young as you feel.  You’re not getting older, you’re getting more entitled to be your fabulous self.” – Gwen Stefani

I love birthdays. If I have to get specific, my birthday. Growing up, we had a tradition in my house that you got to eat cake for breakfast on your birthday.  At 35, I still eat cake for breakfast.

Cake for Carin's Birthday

Today is my birthday, a birthday that I’ve not so positively anticipated over the last few years. I have fallen short of society’s expectations of me to have a husband and pop out a few kids. At times, I’ve felt anxious, stressed, judged and sometimes even flawed because I haven’t met what American culture deems as successful for a mid-thirties woman. And by successful, I specifically mean the marriage and kids bit.

Despite a booming career, deep social circles and a worldly background, much of what people seem to fixate on is why, “at my age” with “all I’ve got going on for me,” I am unmarried and without children. It’s hard for me to believe that people may be so narrow-minded that they think there’s only one path to happiness. But you know what they say, you can’t fix stupid.


Pieces of Home: The Challenge of Seeking Familiarity in Unfamiliar Places

Pieces of Home: The Challenge of Seeking Familiarity in Unfamiliar Places

Pairs Well With… “Home is where you leave everything you love and never question that it will be there when you return.” – Leo Christopher

Today has been the first day in Malaysia where I wanted to punch my day in the face.  One thing after another had gone wrong, and I’m surprised I didn’t lose my cool.  If I didn’t have so much work to do, I probably would have hidden in my room all day.  One thing continued to lead to another, annoyance upon annoyance building, and I threw my hands up at how laughable the day had become.

I’m coming up on week three of Remote Year and somehow the ankle bitter stressors of Old Life have followed me into my new abroad endeavor.  Shame on them.  That wasn’t supposed to happen! Like, ever.  Intersect those with minor frustrations of acclimating to a new country and one of two things are bound to occur: 1) you have a major meltdown or 2) you shut down.  I was unclear at this point which way this day was going to go.  There were still enough hours in the day for more chaos to ensue.

Currently, I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the stupid ass things that are taking my time away from the brilliant creative collaborations I’ve kicked into high gear here in Malaysia.  Insurance bills from appointments back in August that should have cleared when I actually had insurance, technology for my first podcast that failed me on the way to my first interview, and vacation arrangements for a Costa Rica trip in 2018.  2018? I can’t even handle February 18th two thousand and SEVENTEEN. Oh, and meanwhile, I’m trying to build and run a business, so there’s that.

There are not enough hours in the day, and the stress of what I should be doing to build my business and drive its success is surfacing within.  I just want to have fun and make a million dollars. Is that too much to ask?  If nothing else, I can thank my subconscious self for unknowingly planning ahead and giving me a “me weekend” to catch up and regroup before Bali tomorrow. (P.S., I’m going to Bali tomorrow.)

At some unknown point this week, I got smacked into my new reality and when I came to, I felt like I was behind and not keeping pace with my usual, ambitious self.  The order and precision of Old Life are in full showdown with the enjoyment and flexibility of New Life.  Usually, in times like these, I’d bring it down a notch and regroup over a glass of wine or a vodka soda. However, I can’t find a good glass of wine to save my life here (argh!), and cocktails are lacking the alcohol content I’m familiar with in America. Measured vodka pours? Why must you torment me so?  

And the burger I ordered the other day?  It wasn’t supposed to come on toast!  Toast!!! That’s just absurd. Toast for a burger is when you’re make shifting and too lazy to get your ass to the grocery store! The toast and weird ass BBQ sauce my burger was swimming in killed it for me, and this burger was something I had been looking forward to ALL. DAY.  See, I would have cooked myself dinner, but my stove doesn’t work.  Okay, it probably does but I don’t know how to light it!  Because who ever had to light a stove in the last twenty years in America?!?!

I have seen out of place things here in Asia where I thought, “Oh my goodness, this is not okay,” and would look around to gauge reaction from bystanders.  No one from Asia was really phased. Apparently, these situations are seemingly normal.  Like, the rat running through the restaurant. Did anyone else see that rat? No? NO ONE ELSE saw a 20-pound rat?  Running through the restaurant. Okay, cool.  (Maybe it was 7 pounds, but still.) Or the same crotch-grabbing street thief I keep running into in a city of 1.6 MILLION people (who I’m convinced is following me around Kuala Lumpur.) Let’s not forget about the cockroaches who make a grand entrance through the living room at an after hours party.  And finally, let’s talk about how you spend half your day waiting to cross the street.  But these things? They turned my head, sure, maybe they irked me, but didn’t really phase me.

You know what did phase me, though? Those little disappointments when you can’t find those pieces of home in the moment you need them.  Everything feels so amplified, and rationally, you know these things aren’t that big of a deal.  The thing about living in another country is you go for the unfamiliarity and the cultural experiences. But some point or another, you begin to crave just a touch of familiarity and comfort in the things you know.  For some on this Remote Year journey, that’s meant McDonald’s, and others, that’s meant having a 30 person girl’s night in.  Me? That’s a nice glass of red wine. (What can I say?  I’m a simple gal!)

Before bed, I reflected on the day and came to the conclusion that:

  • There are going to be bad days, even in Malaysia, or anywhere else I’m living – for the rest of my life.  Being a digital nomad doesn’t mean you’re exempt from bullshit, though it would be nice.
  • Old Life doesn’t fade to black because I’m on the other side of the world.  I still need to manage and wrap up pieces of Old Life from afar.
  • These aren’t real problems.  They are moments of temporary frustration among all kinds of worldly goodness.  Take your shitty day and carry on.
  • We all have bad days.  Mine may not look like yours, which might not look like someone else’s but we all have them.
  • Most importantly, I am privileged to be here with so many great people who either feel like home – or will at least help me chase down that exquisite bottle of red…

Note: In between writing and publishing this post, I managed to find the best glass of red wine and the perfect burger, all at the same restaurant – across the street.  I guess it goes to show that some of the best things are right in front of us.  And the world is good again…

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