Sometimes you just have to kick yourself out of the nest, especially when a parachute gets handed to you and all you have to do is fly. I had been dreaming of combining my travel and work life for a while but it always felt daunting to do it alone. So, when my friends (and fellow remotes) Gaurabh and Anuja told me about Remote Year over a sunny brunch in New Orleans, I instantly knew I had found my parachute.
My dream. No seriously, I worked this year on launching a travel start-up idea that I’d been noodling on for a while.
VAWAA | Vacation With An Artist is a way for travelers to spend their vacation in artist studios around the world, learning a new skill. Unlike a workshop/ course, the idea is to spend one-on-one time with the artist in their studio to learn the skill, participate in the everyday creative process and/or collaborate on a project – usually lasting anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks. Some of the artists include a photographer in Slovenia, clothing designer in Vietnam, music producer in Uruguay, calligrapher in Japan, tango dancer in Argentina, cook in Malaysia, leather shoemaker in Prague to bamboo bicycle maker in India.
I also co-founded Food For Thought with my friend Anuja. It is a dinner event created by travelers, for locals. As we travel around the world, we find a local host who is willing to open their kitchen and home for the event. Then we prepare food from different cultures and invite a small group of locals for dinner, conversations and travel stories.
Looking back, I could not have done this sitting in New York. Pinch me!
Before I started Remote Year, I was working as a Creative Director at R/GA, a New York based digital agency. I took a one-year sabbatical to work on VAWAA and Food For Thought.
Ah! This is the part that I am still processing. I have loved every bit of traveling and working, but I have also realized that I love the idea of home. Since I was used to working regular office hours, it took a while to find my groove working from anywhere/anytime. It was hard to stay disciplined with all the distractions of travel. And then one day, I realized how easy it had become. I was walking to the co-working space in Uruguay and just the day before I was doing meetings in Argentina. The sense of displacement didn’t exist anymore and inspirations were continuously flowing in. I want to carry this feeling with me and find ways to integrate it into my regular lifestyle when I get back home. I will love to hear from other nomads who’ve done this before.
It’s addictive. Do it at your own risk.
Life Goal. Checked.
My mum says I rushed her into labor. She also has stories of my two-year-old self running to the door with my shoes on as soon as I sensed my grandfather going for a walk. I think she may have an answer when she says I was “born with wheels on my feet”.
Being a digital nomad is not as pretty as an Instagram filter in reality. There are a lot of challenges but the two I struggled with the most were:
First, packing up every time we moved to a new place. I didn’t mind it in the beginning and in fact I’m so good at it now that I can pack my entire life in a city in 20 minutes. But, the thought of it itself gets tiring after a while.
Second, I missed having my trusted network of friends who I could share ideas with. There is a lot of inspiration on the road but sometimes you need your sounding board to help you filter through it.
There have been many interesting people I met on the road but the most recent one is a guy I met at our co-working space in Santiago, Chile. He is Chilean, grew up with Waldorf education and a life story that had no parallels to mine. Our first conversation was whimsical and silly. A week later I found out that he is a genius with a 4 month-old technology start up and investors lining up at the door. He is the anti-thesis of a typical entrepreneur - anti-pitch and full of imagination and play. He has even written songs about it. One evening, he took some friends and I on a spontaneous adventure up the hill in his bus to see the starry sky and view of Santiago at night. Wish I had made notes of everything he said that evening - but I was too busy listening, laughing and following his imagination.
In space with my family and friends, on the dance floor playing the cajon. And when it gets all serious, doing something good for the world.
I love this quote by Marianne Williamson and find something new in it every time I read it.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”