Posts categorized "Travel"

The best way to overcome a sick world...

I believe that the best way to overcome a sick, corrupt, fearful, violent world is to live freely and openly in love and truth.

Here are a few pics from our 10 days camping in Croatia.



Other than the perfect beach, food, and time spent together, some of the highlights were…

Watching Hungary essentially end COVID restrictions. Driving through Hungary on the way to Croatia, masks were mandatory indoors. On the way back, mask mandates had been lifted. Driving through the center of Budapest, I have never seen Hungarians so happy. No masks anywhere—not even on trollies. This tells me that nobody is afraid of COVID; rather, people wear masks because they fear the government.


Unfortunately, Slovakia went the other direction during those 10 days—suddenly requiring registration and a 2-week quarantine for anybody coming into the country. Nonetheless, we arrive at the border without registration, no PCR test, and of course no “vaccination” (we have never taken a PCR test and will never agree to the experimental vaccination). The officials at the border gave us a hard time until I said, “Do with us what you must.” Surprisingly, they immediately let us through without any further hassle.


Through these dark times, I appreciate the Slovak military and police—who have seemed to remain loyal primarily to the people rather than the insane government orders.


I wish everyone a loving, safe, beautiful, and fun summer filled with truth and inspiration. May we all be open to the truth—the whole truth. May we embrace what is coming and know that good always wins in the end. May we find strength and courage in the thought system and energy of love. May we fight for freedom by simply choosing to be free, to ignore the propaganda, to be authentic, and to love.


World's best floatation tank therapy

If you would like to find peace with yourself while growing closer to God, come to Croatia. The water here is salty enough, and calm enough, that you can float on your back without any effort. Find a quiet part of the sea, swim out as far as you like, close your eyes and float for as long as you can. Feel yourself connecting with the coolness of the water, with the warmth of the blazing sun. After some time, you lose not just your balance--you lose any connection to time and space. You feel as if you are suspended, slowly spinning around. Now, open your eyes and realize that you are exactly where you were before, safe and sound. Feel your senses become more alert. See, hear, touch, and smell with uncommon clarity. 

Away from all that is artificial, one's thoughts naturally orient around what is real.  And just what is real? The water, the sun, the rocks, the trees, the crickets, the waves, the infinite details in between. Your thoughts become not so much thoughts, as observations. You are aligned with your source. Now read a little (but not too much), write a little (just until you feel tired of it), listen to some music (paying attention to every sound), engage in deep conversations about nothing, sleep, repeat.

All popular ideas are wrong

Popular ideas are only useful if you want only to be normal.  If you want only to live an average life, conventional wisdom is all you need.  If you want an exceptional life, you need to innovate and think differently.

Back when I graduated from Business School and went to work in the corporate world, I was young enough, foolish enough, and brainwashed enough to live according to all of the popular ideas.  I hated the 9 to 5 but thought it was inevitable.  I watched TV at night.  I had no real hobbies.  As painful and unnatural as it was for me, I tried so hard to fit-in.  I tried to believe what I was told and any deviation of thought or action only went so far as being still appropriate.  I failed on that path.

Somehow radical ideas never leave me alone.  The problem I've always had is that, when an idea makes sense, when it is true, or when it works to achieve a desired result; I would always toss out what was popular in order to embrace what was better.    

 I'm not just talking about political ideas or opinions.  I'm talking about ideas for life.  I know that it is supposed to be cool not to care about money, but I think that's foolish.  Everybody knows that life is hard when you're worried about money.  Furthermore, lack of resources is the most common obstacle that intelligent, brilliant people have in reaching their fullest potential.

I've done Sales for a living for my whole career.  I sell very expensive software solutions to large corporations.  But I don't sell in the way that everybody else sells.  Over the years, I came up with a specific process that allows me to get 10X the result of my colleagues in something like 2 hours per day.  In the early days, I even told my colleagues about it.  But they didn't do it because my approach wasn't normal.  So I just shut up about it and did it my way.  Then, during the other 6 hours of the workday, I would sit in my corporate prison and browse the web.

In 2005 I decided that I could no longer tolerate wasting my days in the cube.  I told my boss I would be working remotely and that, if he didn't agree, we could part ways.  Oh, and by "working remotely" I mean moving from Seattle to Slovakia.  My boss agreed because they needed to continue getting the results I was getting.  Huge life lesson: deliver value to people and they will pay you even as you get what you want out of the situation.

It isn't unusual to dream of traveling the world or living abroad.  To do it, most people teach languages, work in bars or restaurants, and do whatever it takes to scrape by because it is normal to believe that this is the trade-off one must make.  That's one way to do it and there's absolutely nothing wrong with it.  But there are others ways.  Other people believe that they have to first have a million dollars in the savings account before they can take such a risk (in other words, they never do it at all).  What I figured out is that all I needed was a modest amount in savings (a year's income) and, more importantly, cash-flow.  

Cash-flow is what made it possible for me to live for a month in Cannes, Barcelona, and Paris.  I've travelled to dozens of European countries, and gone back to the US at least once a year.  More importantly; rather than wasting my time in the cube and in the commute, I've spent 8 years with enough free time to chase my passions.  When I moved to Europe, I had never written a song, had never performed live...actually I wasn't a musician.  What made all of it possible was the unconventional, highly-effective approach I took to my career.

Aside from traveling, writing, and recording and performing music, I've met so many amazing people.  I get to spend each day with my wife, we own a home in Europe, and now we are proud parents of a 3-year-old daughter.

But actually there's nothing special or unique about me.  Anything you want can be done.  But you have to let go of popular ideas.  Popular ideas about health will make you sick.  Popular ideas about nutrition will make you fat.  Popular ideas about marriage will bore you to the point of divorce.  Popular ideas about art will make you boring.  Popular ideas about work will make you a miserable slave.  

Anybody can have or do whatever they want in life.  But you're not going to do it with popular ideas.  There are other ideas -- better ideas that are more effective and more true -- which I want to start to start sharing with you in an honest, open way.   Whenever I find the time, I will get very specific and post ideas that I know will help you.

We are expats, travelers, and other misfits

It was October, 2011.  I hadn’t performed live for well over a year, and it was something I was deeply missing.  Having no band at the time, I spent a few months practicing my solo acoustic set and managed to book a gig in a café in Kosice.

Days before the gig, I came down with a severe cold.  The show should have been cancelled, but I was so excited and determined to get out there and perform again that I went ahead with it.  My vocal performance was truly terrible that evening…so awful that I drove away the 10 or so customers in the place.  Still I kept singing.

Toward the end of the performance, a group of 8 or 9 came in off the street and enthusiastically sat down at the table in front of me.  They seemed pleased as I went into a Bright Eyes cover and a few of them actually started to sing along to a song that I had assumed nobody in Slovakia knew.  Who were these people? 

Later they told me that they were a group of foreign students from Israel, the US, and the UK.  I talked with them and thanked them for coming, but I probably wasn’t as friendly as I should have been.

7 months later, Abscondo was a full band and we had our debut concert in Kosice.  At this concert was this same group of foreign students.  Despite my unimpressive solo performance, they came back for more!  And what did I do? I managed to offend and alienate a few of them by making a comment about religion between songs.  They actually told me that my comment bothered them.  Not great of me.  I failed to understand and respect my audience.  I alienated and divided them rather than bringing them together.

Looking back, I now realize is that this is my audience and these are my people.  We are all Abscondo.

Several months ago I met a lovely young lady who is an English teacher in Slovakia.  She was so enthusiastic about our music that she had the idea to arrange an “English night” at a local bar with Abscondo as the entertainment.  I realize now that she had hoped not just to see us perform, but to attract all of the expats, travelers, and other English-speaking misfits in the local area.  She wanted to meet these people and belong with these people.  I guess she understood our audience better than I did…up until now.

During our “English night” concert, I found out that it was also her birthday.  How absolutely flattering it was (and honoured we felt) that she was such a fan that she wanted us to perform at her birthday party!  She invited all of her friends.  While the club was small and the performance space less than ideal, I remember this as one of our best performances.  The energy was magical, the small audience was completely engaged, and everybody felt connected to the experience.  This is what a rock concert is all about.  We all shared the same feelings and we discussed the same ideas after the show.  We all wanted the same things in life and we understood each other.

You are my audience and you are the Abscondo band audience.  We are expats, travelers, foreign students, and other English-speaking misfits around the world. 

You are the people I will write for, podcast for, communicate with, think about, and perform for.  Whether on trains or planes, you are the people I end up talking with.  You are the people I understand and you understand me.  You are my people.

I became one of you when I fell in love with my wife, who is from Slovakia, all the way back in high school.  I travelled to Europe that first summer after high school and it changed me forever.  This experience, combined with my deep love for her, would mean that I would never again see the world as a “normal American” does. 

I had changed.  I remember having difficulty making friends in University.  I found the conversations and the interests of “normal Americans” uninteresting.  I didn’t understand the way they thought.  Then I met a group of international students.  For one beautiful year in Colorado Springs, my wife and I hung out with and partied with Magnus from Sweden, Enrique from Costa Rico, Kenai and Lukai from Thailand, Hedotoshi from Japan, and Natasha from Russia.  We went clubbing in Denver.  We went white-water rafting.  We hung out every weekend.  We helped each other.  We were true friends and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.  I realized that I had much more in common with this group of “internationally-minded” people than I had with “normal Americans”.  This is where I belonged.

What was obvious to me then, and what I still believe to this day, is that there is a relatively large group of people around the world who...because of our international relationships and rich experiences with travel and different cultures...we no longer fit into our own cultures.  We no longer think that the traditions, beliefs, cuisine, and customs of their own cultures are “inevitable”.  We understand that everything we think, do, and believe is a choice.  We live where we choose to.  We do for a living whatever we want to.  We eat whatever we enjoy.  We seek freedom, beauty, and experience.

My life is a clear example of this.  7 years ago I moved from Seattle to Slovakia.  I have not only made it work here, I have thrived here.  I have lived for short times in Cannes, Paris, and Barcelona.  I’ve travelled extensively around Europe.  During this time I started writing music, recording, and put together what I believe is a world-class rock band with an original sound.  Sometimes I eat Slovak food, but most of the time I eat (and cook) Thai, sushi, or Indian food.  I work the hours that I want to at home and communicate with colleagues who live in the UK and Canada.  I travel the world on business and earn a good living.  I have lived here with no material possessions for a few years and then later my wife and I purchased and finished a nice flat.  I have lived here for many years without children and now have a beautiful 3-year-old girl.  I have had good friends from the US and also have been very fortunate to know so many smart, interesting, and talented Slovaks.  Today I feel more integrated into Slovakia than I ever have been.  Yet I will never belong.  But I will never belong anywhere else either.  I know I’m not alone in this feeling.  I know there are people all around the world who feel exactly like me and I know that we are large in numbers.

We do try to get together.  We join Facebook groups.  We occasionally go to meet-ups.  But, in truth, we are quite disconnected.  Sometimes we feel lonely.  We feel like we don’t fit anywhere and probably never will.  This is what I would like to try to change.

I want Abscondo to become a movement for expats, travellers, and other misfits.  I want to perform for this audience in major cities around Europe.  I want to know you.  I want to make all of us feel more connected and I want us to feel that we are part of a growing, thriving community.  Ours are the values are most relevant in 2013 and it is we who will invent the future.

We need to connect.  We need to share ideas.  We need to help each other and rely on each other.  Yes, alone we are strong, smart, interesting, and experienced.  But together our potential is unlimited and we are unstoppable.

Going forward, the Abscondo project will be all about expats, travellers, foreign students, and other misfits.  If this is you, then the songs we are recording now are for you and I can’t wait to share them with you.  The lyrics are about your life, your feelings, your frustrations, and your victories.  I will immediately begin to organize concerts for you and your friends in Budapest, Prague, Krakow, Vienna, and eventually around Europe. 

This blog, the podcast, and everything I do will be for you.  You are my audience.  To “abscond” means to run away, often taking something or someone with you.  That’s exactly what this project has always been about, but I never fully realized it until now.

We are Abscondo.  We are expats, travelers, foreign students, English-speakers, and other misfits around the world.       

CNN's top travel destinations for 2013: Kosice, Slovakia


(From CNN) "Thanks in part to its medieval old town and vibrant mix of Renaissance, Baroque, and art nouveau architecture, the compact yet captivating eastern Slovakian city of Košice (population 250,000) has been chosen 2013's European Capital of Culture (along with Marseille in France).

To say that city officials are excited is an understatement -- they've planned at least 300 cultural events for 2013.

The ECOC opening ceremony will be held January 19 and 20 and is, according to officials, "conceived as a unique, two-day inspirational event which will enliven the whole city."

Events will be spread across town, from the State Theater to a stage on major Hlavna Street to numerous clubs and restaurants. Throughout the year, activities will draw on the city's Slovakian and Hungarian heritage and include music festivals, theater, art and street performance.

Just as enjoyable is people watching along a pedestrian-only main drag while taking in the Gothic St. Elisabeth cathedral and sipping a Košice Gold, the city's official cocktail (with a super-secret recipe). Link:"

From CNN

In Vancouver

I suppose the normal state of being for a man my age is that of routine.  I admit to falling into routine just as soon as those weeks in Slovakia stretch into months.  During these "normal" times, my days are filled with comfort, with work, with the needs of my young daughter, cooking, working out, music, writing, and projects.  During these times, I have to remind myself to go out and see a concert, to go out to a cafe or for a drink, or to arrange a weekend away.  This, what I'm describing, is the normalcy I have created, by choice, in this one life I have. 

The only thing that seems to jolt me out of my routines is travel (real travel, not just a weekend road trip).  To travel is to cleanse the palette of quickly forget the routine from just days ago.  Each time travel forces me out of my routine, I emerge into a world in which little is familiar.  Days on the road become a journey of self-discovery, a test of character, and even a re-invention of oneself.  Also, the effects of travel do not end upon my return; as upon my return I always fall into a different routine from the one I was just torn from.

Now in the Vancouver airport, I reflect upon the last few weeks.  First there were two weeks visiting my parents in small-town Wisconsin.  Sofia, little Isabella and I burst onto the scene with our usual energy and soon collided head-on with the comfortable, 20-year, uninteruppted routine of my parents.  During these few weeks, I had regular radio interviews, I landed a new job at a software company in short, we had places to go and things to see.  Our little Isabella had a whole new house to discover and new trouble to find (imagine a one year old crawling up the stairs when we weren't looking!).  I love my parents dearly, and I know they feel the same about me, but the clash of routine and the years spent growing in different directions boils down to one simple fact: two weeks is too long to spend with parents once you have your own family!

Next, I flew off on my own to Vancouver in order to start a new job.  I recently left the world's second largest software company because I really couldn't stand working for such a large corporation.  I saw little earnings potential in my role, little ability to impact the organization, and no real reason to be there other than for the regular paycheck.  It no longer fit in my life, so I quit.  Week's later, I found this really fun, growing software company in Vancouver.  I'll still work from home in Slovakia, selling software that impacts the way companies sell digital content on-line.  My job is to find opportunities at many of the largest Media and Telco companies worldwide.

My week here is filled with vivid memories.  This is a very young company filled with "oh-so-hip" kids peering through their typical West Coast thick-rimmed glasses combined with a very international set of unique, strong, opinionated adults.  The office is filled with lots of cussing and arguing amidst lots of laughter.  My bosses strut around in their sneakers and sweat-shirts and basically make shit up as they go along.  Come to think of it, it isn't even clear whether they shower.  Basically, it is the same kind of company I joined more than 10 years ago.  That one crashed-and-burned under the weight of its own stupidity and arrogance after 9/11.  We'll see what happens this time around.  But as long as they keep paying me what they agreed to each month, I'll go along for the ride.

 Even if dampened by the persistent rain, to look out the 24th-floor window of my downtown Vancouver hotel room was instant inspiration to get out and see the city.  I typically headed toward lively Granville Avenue and enjoyed the smell of joints here and there combined with the smell of Asian food.  I saw two really crappy bands not worth mentioning over a few pints of stale Canadian beer at the Roxy.  I left the club when an abnoxious girl who had recently vomited in the bathroom kept asking me to sit with her and her boyfriend (no thanks).  Another night, I took in a theater production at the Playhouse.  Last night, my bosses took me out to see the Vanvouver Cannucks play the last hockey game of the regular season.  Let's see...I also had lunch at a very interesting place called Elbow Room.  It is run by two old gay men who basically taunt their customers until you either fall in love with the place or run away crying.  Oh, and then there's the Thai food I've been missing in Eastern Europe.  Also, if you ever get to Vancouver, go have an Australian Lamb Burger at the Speakeasy on Granville...damn that was good!

Now it's back to Chicago, a long midnight drive through Wisconsin back to my parent's, and then we're all returning to Europe to find our next routine.

Life Changes (with Patti McCracken) - Podcast Episode

Click on the gray box below to listen to this week's podcast:

Abscondo Podcast - 30 - Life Changes (with Patti McCracken)

Sometimes even if we get everything we want in life, we find out that it isn't what we want.  Sometimes that great job isn't so great.  That big house is so big that we feel isolated inside of it.  Maybe that coveted lifestyle can only be maintained at the expense of dealing with too many responsibilities and pressures.  Then comes that nagging feeling inside.  Years can go by and yet that feeling doesn't really go away no matter how hard we try.

When this happens, it's not as if anything is wrong with us.  It's also not as if anything is inherently wrong with the lifestyle, itself.  But when we allow that internal voice of intuition to drown out all of those external voices of conventional wisdom and normalcy, some of us simply reach the point at which the only solution is to change.  Sometimes that change is drastic.  Sometimes not so much.

But when we listen to that internal voice, we say "yes" to things like travel or to adventure.  We may start a new hobby or become more creative in some way.  We may change cities or change countries.  We may leave a job or negotiate a work situation that is more tolerable.  We may say "yes" to a new friendship, yes to love, or we may walk away from relationships that aren't working.

Today, Sofia and I interview a guest who will talk about some of this as she shares her fascinating life story.   Read more about our guest, Patti McCracken.


Absconding an unsustainable lifestyle

This Friday's podcast addresses topics posed in the Abscondo song "Insecurities" in relation to the inevitable changes we are all confronting as we lead lives which are unsustainable.  We will discuss Europe's volcano-related travel disruptions, how this could be a tipping point that brings on the next Great Depression, and how this might affect our lives for the next decade.

This week, the commercial news media is desperately clinging to a tone of "normalcy" as millions of people are in the midst of absurdity.  What's significant about this mess, despite the frustration and suffering of all those caught up in it, is that I think this very-well could be the tipping point that will lead to the next Great Depression (the first Global Great Depression).

With the consumer and government debt bubbles worldwide, housing bubbles worldwide, a completely out-of-control and corrupt "rigged market" that is controlled by an untouchable financial elite in New York in London, peak oil, and a planet entering environmental chaos...all it will take is the wrong event at the wrong time.  This could be the "straw that breaks the camel's back", or if we're lucky it could be the next one...who knows.

Regardless, this got us thinking about our unsustainable lives, how they might change, and what those changes might mean in a practical sense.  Interestingly, this topic sort of coincides with the theme of a song I've recorded for the next album...a song called "Insecurities".  We will actually structure the conversation of this show literally around the chorus of this song:

You want this lifestyle to last forever

When you can't even stand today

You see fears where I see colors

Don't live a life a day away

Listen to the podcast for a fresh version of this song, with Sofia on backup vocals.  The sound of this song gives you a pretty good idea what I'm up to for the next album.  So far, I'm very pleased with the results (if I do say so myself) and can't wait to share it with the world.  Please tell me what you think by posting any comments / feedback here.

By the way, we usually finish the show a day early and get it uploaded right away.  I want to keep the scheduled Friday release dates for the podcast, but regular listeners can also check the blog on Thursdays and I might post the link to the show if it is done early.  Click here for early access to this Friday's show.