Posts Tagged “work”

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.


Motorbikes & Dongs: Vietnam’s Sensory Overload

Motorbikes & Dongs: Vietnam’s Sensory Overload

Pairs Well With…Motorbikes + Dongs + Sensory Overload

Motorbikes.  Dongs.  Pho.  Those three things, all plentiful throughout the city, are what I first noticed upon my arrival to Vietnam.  (Imagine, if you will, the number of dong jokes that are exchanged within our group each day.) Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon), month 2 stop of Remote Year, is a beautiful city with a French colonial and cool street-style vibe.

Just when I thought I was getting the “hang” of Asia, enter Vietnam.  Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is not only wild, it’s a freakin’ sensory overload.  Granted, I was here all of a day before I took off on a work assignment to Hanoi and Halong Bay, but still.  My head has been spinning trying to take it all in. That first day had me like whoa!

When we left Malaysia, sure, of course, I knew Vietnam would be different.  They don’t front about getting into their country.  I mean, you need a visa to enter, and you’ve already overstayed your welcome minutes after your 30-day allowance in the country.  You can’t go home, but you can’t stay here.

So in case you’re wondering what my whereabouts this month look like…

WHERE I KICK IT: District 3

I live in a complex called Saigon Mansion.  Now, I’ve always wanted to live in a big, dreamy house like a mansion.  In fact, I’ve been channeling that shit for years.  It appears that I haven’t been clear enough in my intentions about what kind of mansion I would like, as well as its location or whether its permanent, but for now, this will to do.


Living Room



WHERE I’M WORKIN’ IT: District 1

This month’s office space is a little bit different and more untraditional that where we worked in Kuala Lumpur.  It’s cute – and it’s got a pool!

Poolside office anyone?

Easy, breezy cafe seating



  • Population: 8 million
  • Currency: Dongs ($1 US Dollar = 22,600 Vietnamese Dong = Dong jokes)
  • Language: Vietnamese (my sign language is not cuttin’ it here)
  • Key Landmarks & Attractions: 
    • War Remnants Museum – Contains exhibits relating to the Vietnam War and the first Indochina War involving the French colonialists.
    • Independence Palace – Home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was the site of the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates.
    • Thein Hau Temple – One of the oldest, largest and most beautiful temples of about 30 Chinese pagodas in HCMC.
    • Ben Thanh Market – The market is one of the earliest surviving structures in Saigon and an important symbol of Ho Chi Minh City, popular with tourists seeking local handicrafts, textiles, souvenirs, as well as local cuisine.
    • Traditional Medicine Museum – A private museums in Vietnam which are devoted to the Traditional Vietnamese Medicine & Pharmacy.
    • Cu Chi Tunnels – An immense network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Cu Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, and are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country. The Củ Chi tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War.  (I will visit the tunnels later this week.)



  • The way people drive here, I’m not sure that there are any licensing or age restrictions to operating a motor vehicle.  I’m pretty sure an eight year old on a motor scooter almost took me out the other day.  But I haven’t seen any accidents which is impressive.
  • Dong is the only recognizable word in most conversations I have.
  • The only thing the Vietnamese culture dislikes more than Americans are pedestrians.  Cars, motorbikes, anything other than your walking self has the right away – always.  Good luck and may you live to see tomorrow.
  • I am a minority in this country and at times have felt watched or judged by my appearance. Layer on a sometimes severe communication barrier and you can find yourself in high levels of stress and frustration, leading to feeling deflated.
  • I am doing things in Vietnam I wouldn’t normally be doing and am having experiences grounded in Vietnamese culture.  I mean…when was the last time you saw me catch a catfish with my bare hands?!

 Want to see how it’s done?  Watch and learn!


Mystery Meat & Asia Acclimation: My First Few Days of Remote Year

Mystery Meat & Asia Acclimation: My First Few Days of Remote Year

Pairs Well With… “Fill your life with adventures, not things.  Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.” 

I ate a lot of balls this week, which I believe are various sorts of colorful mystery meat. No, seriously: meatballs, fishballs, riceballs.  I started noticing a geometric pattern in my eating.  Circles represent being complete or whole, which I’m totally in tune to, especially right now.  But speaking of balls, I think it’s safe to say that I grabbed life by them when I decided to take this year long trip.  Remote Year has officially kicked off, and I have finally arrived in Malaysia.

Mystery meat adventures at their finest

I successfully (but barely) survived the 52-hour trek to get to Kuala Lumpur (KL).  Watch out world; I have arrived!  My first three days have been a blur of what day it is, what time zone I belong to, and where I need to be.  Somewhere between delirium and exhaustion, I managed to make quite a few new friends.  I’m acclimating nicely, and the only conflict in my world right now is the one that my hair is having with the humidity.  Overall, I’m starting to get the hang of things here.

First of many walking food tours


Let me give you the visual tour of how my life is shaping up.

Where I Kick It:

I live in the heart of downtown KL at The Maple Suite and am walking distance to many of the cities’ notable sites, restaurants, nightlife, shopping, and my office space for the month.  I love being able to walk to work, something I’m not accustomed to in what I’ve been referring to as “my other life.”

Spacious living and entertaining room. Ample space for an impromptu dance party.

Where I’m Working It

Located within one of KL’s premier malls is the Remote Year workspace.  It’s both bright and cozy, and only a 15 minute walk from my apartment.  While I haven’t spent a lot of time there yet, I will be- and making some career magic happen.

The Kuala Lumpur Scoop:

  • Population: 7.7 million people
  • Races: Malay, Chinese and Indian
  • Currency: Ringgit (Everything here is quite affordable since the Ringgit is not strong.  You can have a great meal for $2-$5. Cha-ching!)
  • Language: Malay, though much of the population speaks English
  • Key Landmarks & Attractions:
    • Petronas Twin Towers (a representation of modern meets historical)
    • Menara KL Tower (Stellar view from my bedroom & Instagrammed for your viewing pleasure)
    • Batu Caves
    • Kuala Lumpur Bird Park

First Few Days Observations:

I think it’s safe to say that things are off to a great start.  No one’s been mugged, fired or died of food poisoning that I know of, so I guess the world is looking up for all of us “Remotes.”  That’s optimism at its finest, right?!

Here are a few of my initial morning thoughts from the last three days:

    • Because of the heat, despite how many times you’ve showered today, you probably are already due for another.
    • This group likes to get after it, so if what they say is true about alcohol seeping out of your pores, KL will be catching the best contact buzz in the world.  Hangovers and heat are the real deal.
    • Energizing conversations and collaborations among Remotes are in initial phases and, without a doubt, this group will accomplish beyond amazing feats.
    • I will see to it that there is ample backing it up


And that, my friends, are the opening credits!

Photo Credit:
Apartment Images – Amber Brixey
Office Images – Amanda Little

Want to know what was running through my mind before takeoff and what I’m working hard to accomplish over the next year?  Tune into my guest appearance on Lindsey Heiserman’s podcast to hear the inside scoop!

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