What I’ve Learned After 7 Years of Full-time Travel

 

bartnikowski.com

How did I get here in Chiang Mai, Thailand drinking smoothies every morning being happy and grateful to be alive?

I didn’t listen to people telling me I was nuts. Who said, “You shouldn’t go to that country because you can’t be sure of being safe.”

30 countries later I’m still going strong!

My eyes have been opened so wide it almost hurts to see the world without sunglasses. The light is so brilliant — its hard for me to see that at one time I didn’t have this life.

 You can have it too. I know what you’re thinking. Actually we think too much. And you can think yourself right out of doing anything if you give it too much of your attention.

1. Attention is a gift.

That’s the first thing I learned. Whatever you set your mind on blossoms and takes off.

Works the same with negativity and voices in your head telling you can’t do something. If you listen then you can’t do it. Put your attention on what you want to happen. Act as if it all ready is happening. 

Say you signed up for a Women’s Only coach on a train in India and you get on the train at 2AM and find out your coach is full of only men. You either leave or accept it.

They didn’t listen when I told them to stop smoking and cut the chatter crap so I could sleep but thats another story.

2. Time is not the hours on the clock face.

Time is your life span from birth to dying. What do you want to do with your time?

I want to travel and see the world. Work and play all over the globe.

Take the first baby step and the universe opens up to you. I didn’t believe this either at first but it miraculously happens when you decide to walk towards your Big Dream.

3. Money is attracted to boldness and magic.

Yes you can be a location independent entrepreneur. You can do your job on the road, you can teach English in almost any country on earth and get paid for it, you can have an online business, and you can teach belly dancing. I teach photography all over the world and write books.

And I have a magazine in the itunes store Vagabond Travel Photography Mag. Discover the world and learn how to take Amazing photographs Go see it here.

4. The Unknown is Your Friend

I used to plan too much. “Honey why can’t you meet me in Colombia in February – how come you don’t know when you’ll be there?” I said to my son who has been to 50 countries. I’ve only been to 30, I gotta catch up.

Now I know why, because I’m not planning either.

Less planning is more fun.

5. You never know what is around the next corner or who you’ll  meet today changing your life instantly. Today you might decide you gotta go to Bali to work on your surfing skills. I don’t stay on the board too long so I need practice.

Or I need to photograph Ladakhi people high in the Himalayas and how they live life, or teach yoga to women in Nepal living in mud huts. Or go live in an igloo, ashram, temple, seaside bungalow, or tent.

esheybaby22

And you can do it!

 

Your mind is malleable. It may be more flexible than your body. Get inspired by people who are living the life you want to live and open the ethers in your soul.

Queen.Dancer.bartnikowski

How do you do that?

 

You stay fresh, eat fruits and veggies, relax and be like a kid. Open to everything but if it feels off you walk away.

 

Being Happy Inside my Skin. This may be the title of my next book.

 

And then being so happy and grateful that you can give things, time, love to others.

That’s the secret to success. It’s not money or big achievements and awards.

I’ve done a lot of things I set out to do, but with many more I want to discover, I expand every day and want to leap into the fresh waters of the unknown; I see that time is this — it’s what our spirit loves doing and being. It could be meditation, travel, teaching but whatever it is the message is live today like you will die today. Because we will die. And it could be today so lets live at a higher exalted octave than we ever have before.

1. Be inspired by the birds singing. I hear them right now off my terrace in Thailand. They know how to fly. So can we.

2. Sleep enough – then your skin looks better and you have energy.

3. Move that amazing body of yours – yoga, walking, surfing, swimming, skateboarding just do it. You don’t have to motorbike across 4 lines of roaring traffic praying today like I did. Go walk around a lake with no cars intruding.

4. Take steps towards your dreams. Don’t give up.

Your new mantra: You can do it, you can do it, and you can do it.

Thank you for your enthusiasm, attention, and beauty, I am grateful to all you darling hearts – you have been there for me, and I couldn’t have done it without you.

Love, Dream, Discover,

Mary

Creating and the Creatures Who Live Here

I arrived in Thailand and plunged into creating Vagabond, my online magazine about Being Free, and Discovering the World as a Global Nomad.

Apple Computer approved it today!

Thank you Steve Jobs, and all those artistic engineers and creatively powerful people who work at 1 Infinity Loop in Cupertino (Apple headquarters.) Talk about creating!

It’s available in the iTunes store for iPads, Vagabond, a free app under newsstand.

Check it out!

Thailand the land of milk, honey, and mangoes gives me creative goosebumps.

I create my way out of any excuse I come up with here – I just do it.

In this tiny hamlet atop a mountain peak, Pai, sings with expression and communication.

Here’s me in my bamboo and coffee office.

Image

I’ve been in Thailand 6 months. It’s not that easy to stay here so long. Why?

Here’s what I was required to do:

  • Go on a visa run to Burma by bus ( took the entire day)
  • 2 visa extensions after riding over the highest mountain pass in Thailand (twice) on a puny motorbike. I did not die in that ditch I landed in – a kind truck driver pulled me out.
  • http://youtu.be/CI74Rgu6law Burma/Myanmar Border Crossing

But it was worth it — I moved into my cottage in the woods here in Northern Thailand in Pai, a breathtaking village that sweeps you off your feet with its astoundingly vibrant scenery, tons of hot springs, and sparkling waterfalls to boot.

You can get a Thai massage here for $7 or less, and eat scrumptious food for a few dollars a meal in a restaurant – serious. 2 reasons I love it here.

So what’s it like to create with the creatures who live here in my home?

Last night I heard a scritch-scratching noise near my actual head and turned around to see the underside of a 12-inch gecko 10 inches from my eyeballs on the other side of the screen window. That’s why it sounded so close; he was hanging out with me but I didn’t know it.

I guess we’re getting to be friends.

Just the other day I was wondering where King Kong gecko had gone – he had not shown up in a few days. Last I saw him he was parked behind my refrigerator making a racket trying to catch bugs. He was shaking the Frigidaire!

A pang of hunger arose and I bolted to my hanging bunch of bananas from the ceiling in the kitchen and there was my abominable gecko just inches from my fingertips staring at me with his bugged out eyes.

He didn’t even flinch when I grabbed the banana from its bunch of 8.

He just stayed there clinging to the top of the wall with his rubber-cupped feet.

I marveled at how I don’t scream any more when I see him.

He stays out of my bedroom and has the full run of the kitchen when I am sleeping. I don’t know what he does in there but he has not eaten anything that I know of.

This is all very colorful for the creative process. I may be editing my writing and hear geckos chirping mixed with crickets singing. Yes geckos like to congregate on my screened windows and get close to the light rays coming from inside.

It’s like the Jacob Javits Convention Center in NYC outside my bedroom door when I go to the bathroom at night; they are surrounding the ceiling light pow-wowing.

I like being inside my screened domain as bugs and lizards cannot find me in there and no one slithers across my computer screen either.

So my creative process goes like this:

Wake up in paradise hearing birds singing their hearts out.

Smile.

Turn over and suggest to my body that it sleep longer.

Most of the time get up and turn on the electric teapot.

Chinese or Thai Tea in hand I am delighted by the light show on the treetops while butterflies flitter around.

Meditate and chant then walk to my yoga pavilion down the dirt driveway. There is no asphalt here and I like that. The dirt driveway is between two rows of frangipani trees. Then I get to the yoga pavilion and I am rewarded. I didn’t ditch yoga I am doing it every day oh yes and I feel like an eagle looking out from its nest.

The mountain scape is intoxicating.

Here is the view from my front porch in Pai:

And a sunset view from the same porch.

Then I do my email, as the yoga pavilion is my home office.

What do I do after yoga? I eat a hearty breakfast in my cottage on stilts.

See me in my kitchen cooking here:

http://you.be/outTblup4CeKv0

After showering I jump on my motorbike to go to my real office to “work.”

A plump pillowed coffee and bamboo covered lounge area in the village – that no one seems to know about but me as now the owner is leaving me there solo while she slips out to do errands.

I lay in a hammock and do my writing/ photography editing/ more email /posting.

I am learning a language that I never knew before. And I’m not talking about Thai.

Internet marketing is another language for me – and its not as sexy as Italian but OK the creative process is not comfortable. I learned that from Billy Wilder that crazy wild amazing director from the 40’s and 50’s who wrote and directed intelligent comedy i.e. Some Like it Hot.

I learned how to use the magazine platform that they said was easy but it was not easy.

I am learning and ding-dang it I needed to learn how to use tools I never knew I needed before.

It isn’t comfortable to stretch past pre-conceived notions but somehow doing it here with the geckos and spiders (I forgot to mention them) and birds and butterflies isn’t so bad. In fact its downright invigorating when I consider that afterwards I can go to the hot springs and wallow in sacred spring water from the earth’s crust healing me with heat and effervescence.

So there were a few times I felt apprehensive but I let myself feel that and my acupuncturist from Morocco noticed. She needled me with an infusion of confidence.

She charges me $10 a session – that is far less than what she charged the people she used to treat when she lived in Manhattan and had clients at the World Trade Center.

When all the online language and things that were supposed to be “easy” to do were actually hard I questioned why I jumped into this ocean of new things. But I kept swimming and now the magazine is done. I created an app!!! And Apple Computer is selling it for me! OMG

I do not have an iPad yet and having recently learned just what an app is I feel like I’m thriving in the right direction. Now the momentum is going and I am letting it take me.

So the moral of the story is (remember that cartoon show about Mr Peabody; they always ended it this way?)

Keep going even when it doesn’t feel so hot. Keep going even when you are treading water and this dang program won’t let you delete text or move something simple in your graphic layout.

Just get up and go outside and say hello to all the critters who may be clinging to your house, notice the spider who is weaving a web under your window, say hello to the baby gecko who lives in the tree trunk post holding up the entryway stairs – notice the large winged insects who bash themselves against the lights and end up kicking their insect legs in the air as they can’t turn over again.

http://youtu.be/oWGLt2zuCGA Spider and Bedroom Chat

I pick them up and send them soaring again. I freed a butterfly from a spiders web today and it swiftly flew off happily. I was elated. So what that the spider missed a meal?

Take a minute and be grateful that you have the moments to make this mountain out of – you know that phrase making a mountain out of a molehill?

Yes I see it as making a mountain out of moments in your life that you want to express to the world, the heavens and the ethers so you do it and let the day become what it will. And the rain and the clouds and the sun shining through rainbows lights up your heart and you keep on.

Check out my web site to stay current with me and get a FREE e-book

on Secrets of Stunning Photographs

this is my life’s work in 40 pages.

Love and Peace, Mary

Pai, Thailand, Life as a Vagabond

 

My home in Pai Thailand

 

My home countries are Thailand and India with side dishes of Nepal, Laos, and Bali.  I feel happy inside my skin in the East.

I like being in the mountains of Thailand now. It’s a blend of primitive, sacred and wifi. Kindness and Buddhism prevails. No one swears or gets angry – no entitlement issues. I’m less and less interested in going back to the States; it doesn’t soothe my soul. But I do have spiritual teachers in California. I could visit them and do some good – maybe I will set some talks up before I return so I can share what I have learned here in Asia with my fellow Americans: meditation, yoga, letting it be, and living in the moment.

Outside the USA there is more chance of letting holiness permeate the soul without all the commerce, playboy porn star standards of beauty and an over reliance on automobiles and pretense. We’ve gotten caught up in stuff and greed and showing off and I include myself in that as when in the States there is very little emphasis on the sacred.

In Bali it’s a full-time job to make offerings and go to temple – my friends in Bali said, “We spend 60% of our income on temple offerings.”

In the States it’s far different – people want to hook up with money and prestige.

When I was 20-nothing I wanted the strange and fascinating. I was looking for what I have now. Freedom to explore. And time. I wanted to roam the universe.  And I needed silence. Silence to hear what I felt; to let my soul and spirit give me its wisdom.

I am letting my sense of wonder and awe guide me without a grand plan. My decisions are made for me – they just happen without me having much to do with it. When I get caught up in planning I’m tense – should I stay or what about this other country should I go there? So now I am practicing no decisions and I like it.

Don’t be in a hurry to decide, just let things happen in the moment.

I had planned to go back to Bali right after I left the island but every time I set up the ticket online to fly there I could not press the submit payment info – my finger wouldn’t let me. OK, lets see what the universe has in mind for me and here I am in Chiang Mai having a great time writing and living in a little white room with an overhead fan and a view over an emerald green expanse of trees outside with birds singing. All for only $6 a day including wifi. I’m happy.

I didn’t have a grand plan to visit Chiang Mai but there I was in Bangkok living the high life for $15 a day in a hotel room with my own refrigerator and bathroom and I thought nope this is too much to pay I am heading out to the country and hopped on a 12 hour train to get to the mountains, here in this hick town blended with temples. It’s not posh or pushy with tons of used bookstores with English books! It would take me forever to get thru them all or at least two weeks so I am staying here and paying this low amount of rent for comfort and cleanliness.

I must be evolving – the last two nights I was woken up by other guests coming home at 3AM and I didn’t get mad or get out of bed to tell them to shut up. I just turned over and wondered if my earplugs were nearby but I never even put them in. I just fell asleep again after they stopped talking.

Then at 5:30 AM I got up to do yoga and meditation – if they heard me I don’t feel badly. We all gotta live and let live.

Maybe I am getting a tiny bit less self-righteous.

So I’m not reading the paper, watching the news, or in any way paying attention to the western world – no media crap – I can let my heart tell me what to do without the overtones of CNN and Hollywood.

I don’t know who those people are on the cover of People magazine.  They all look the same. Same smiles, same sculpted bodies, whitened teeth, and blonde hair.