Category Archives: Life Stories

Chiang Mai Feelings

I just arrived in Chiang Mai, and it’s exciting- walking around this city I stayed in 6 months ago, it’s all the same yet I’m in such a different state of mind it’s so different.

Before the loud bikes, lack of normal sidewalks, and other differences between Europe/USA & Asia really bothered me. I thought I was above culture shock being a world traveler for so long, but now I am humbled to know that it doesn’t matter how long you travel for- it can get you.

I was heartbroken then, and I also had a huge surgery to take care of in Chiang Mai. It was a dark period of my life, my own personal Winter.

Now I’m in my Spring, or Summer perhaps, things are looking up- business growth, skills, purpose, girls, healing, it’s all coming together.

It feels almost like when I first started traveling. The dark feeling pulling me down is going away.

Now I feel young and free again, like anything is possible. What will happen during the month or two in Chiang Mai before I go to Bulgaria? Who will I meet? What will I see?

I stayed for 3 weeks before, but I feel like I saw nothing. I just stayed for a month and Bali and also felt like I saw nothing there.

I’m quite tired, and a bit irritable. It’s a funny mix of inspiration and irritability, as I hardly slept last night from excitement.

I now am wiser in my self-awareness, knowing that my irritability is not the place or me or my business or life- it’s just a bit of tiredness, and being locked in a plan is not fun either.

I used to think I was so invincible, that I could control my emotions, but now I realize you can’t- emotions do their own thing, and true freedom/meditation is just letting them be, holding in mind a true knowing of what’s true.

I can’t tell whether it’s the irritability or whether I need to go back to Bali, but I really miss Bali- now that I’m gone, I can feel the difference in vibe..

Not that Chiang Mai has bad vibes. Chiang Mai has great vibes, but it’s a different delicious flavor- my body craves for more of Bali, months more of Bali.

There is at least 2 months worth of stuff to do, I have friends to connect with again in Bali, and now I know the way of Bali (and Southeast Asia in general) so in a way I don’t feel ready to go to Bulgaria in June, but at the same time I can’t keep waiting- I miss my friends & life there, also.

This is the way of the traveler: to miss many places. To miss Montreal, Phoenix, Sofia, Bali, and Thailand and even more places and people all at the same time.

Bali really taught me how to enjoy the present moment- enjoy whatever dance you’re in. Goals are great, and everyone needs them, but the strange nuance of life is that you need to be present while you have goals.

So I focus on this moment, while also keeping in my peripheral where I’d like my business to go, and where I’d like to go to live.

Following your heart can feel scary because it takes you to the unknown. It shows you things, and demands growth. But it’s totally worth it.

My heart is scared for Chiang Mai. In a way the familiarity is nice, and there is a nostalgia from all the memories that I created here before.

At the same time, I feel sad because those times are gone- and I still have contacts in Bali. Who knows though, maybe some old acquaintances are here- now is the time to reach out.

I promised my heart that if after a week or a few days we aren’t feeling it, we’ll go back to Bali, even if it costs some money to do. Bali was SO amazing, I loved it so much!

And I didn’t even realize how amazing Bali was because I was coming out of my own personal darkness… now that I’m here, I realize how great there was- it’s not one big epic event or thing, it’s just the day to day that made it so amazing.

But I’m going to give Chiang Mai a 100% try. I owe that to myself. I first came here heartbroken, sad, in a shell, depressed, obsessed with money, going through a surgery, and so much more- now I’m young and free, healing, happier, and now I know the way of Southeast Asia.

For example, I knew where I might want to put my apartment in Chiang Mai- but I didn’t buy anything online because the Way in Southeast Asia is to look at things when here, and only book your first accommodation for a few days.

I do miss Bali. I also miss Bulgaria. I’m also excited to be here, and also a bit irritable from the flying and sleep deprivation.

But through it all, I’m feeling more and more relaxed and peaceful. Travel is teaching me to be here and now, nowhere else. Of course I keep in mind where I’m going, as should you (unless you need to wander a bit), but you only have THIS moment to choose where you’re going.

So here I am sitting in an old favorite restaurant, so excited to eat one of my favorite Thai dishes that I just couldn’t seem to find in USA- or it just wasn’t the same as eating it in Chiang Mai.

I love Thai food, and now I shall eat, so that’s all I should focused on- relaxed, one thing at a time, grateful for the food, grateful for the experience, grateful for everything, grateful for you.

Who knows what may happen. My heart may beg me to go back to Bali after a week. It may fall in love here. It may demand Bulgaria. One step at a time, enjoying the dance, that’s the beauty of life- you don’t know where it’s going, but it’s fun (if you let it be so).

-Michael

All In or All Out

When I took magic mushrooms for the first time over a year ago, I knew it would be deeply spiritual, but I never could’ve guessed just how important the messages would be to me.

I learned several key lessons in that first trip, which I wrote down, saved, and some of which I remind myself of to this today.

One of those lessons is this: all in, or all out.

All In or All Out

Life is full of decisions. You could eat at a million different restaurants, live in countless countries and countless cities, date countless people, and work too many jobs to fulfill a dozen lifetimes.

We each feel particularly called to something, which is our “heart” or “intuition.” It’s very important that we listen to it.

The whole Universe works to help you follow your own path, even if it doesn’t seem like it.

Events which we consider “bad luck” could actually be events which are designed to change our course and bring us unknowingly to riches we deserve.

How many stories are there of someone getting fired, then finding what they are truly passionate in? Suddenly they feel so grateful for getting fired, otherwise they may be dying slowly on the 9-5 grind they never really wanted.

Sometimes though you face a crossroad where there isn’t a clear path. The choice is up to you.

You should always consult your heart, and if your intuition doesn’t say “no” to any of them, then try listen closely to see what feels better. Sometimes it doesn’t matter- but you still have to make a choice.

You can’t live with regrets though. Sometimes you follow your heart and not everything goes to plan, or something unexpected which we call “bad” happens.

Should you have not followed your heart? No because in following your heart, you often learn to listen deeper, and your heart becomes wiser in its decisions.

Sometimes your heart knows that it must go through some pain and growth or loss in order to get something which it wants. The heart wants what it wants, but it also wants you to feel good, creating conflict.

This is where success barriers come in- we avoid doing what we know we really must do.

With anything, you need to be “all in” or “all out.” If you make a decision, go all in with it in that moment- if you can’t, then maybe you should be all in for the other decision.

The problem with many, including sometimes myself, is that they make a decision but think of the other, or hold regrets, or always wonder “what if…”

One great way to make decisions is ask whether you’d regret something because you know that if you would not be all in for the other decision and regret not taking the other path then it is a path you truly must take.

I’m speaking even of the small things here- if you can’t be all in for eating Mexican food tonight, then why should you go eat Mexican sitting there wondering what Italian food might taste like on your tongue?

Sometimes we make a decision and there’s no clear path. There is no good answer. In these cases it still makes the best sense to go all in for one decision.

If you make a decision but don’t take responsibility for it, then you can only be bitter at the world for that it didn’t work out exactly as you desired.

If you make an uncertain decision certain, then you can be “all in” and fully responsible for the outcomes, even if you can’t control it completely.

In this way you become the captain of your life, guiding yourself through life. You listen to your heart, and you follow it, knowing that things may not always go as planned but that it’s your true path.

There may be nothing worse on this Earth than not following your true path.

To fail in the face of authenticity is to have earned yourself a wonderful experience of following your heart, an experience which may just lead to your treasure.

To fail in the face of inauthenticity is to have cut yourself twice- once for denying your heart, and once for failing also.

The pain of not following your heart is greater than any pain you could experience by following your heart.

The nagging feeling of your heart whispering “I want to do this” is enough to drive man mad.

For long I’ve ignored the next big step in my path, and now that I’m taking it, it feels scary, but I know that I am living true and that whatever fault may come it is for better.

There is risk, of course. I don’t say anything of the future, either- I will not say where my path will go, just that I think I know where it goes, and I believe that I’ll arrive where I desire to arrive.

Of course, the path may change to get there, but I have faith as long as I follow my heart everything will turn out- it always does.

Try to follow your heart, be all in for it. We both know you can’t be “all out,” for that is to not be alive, and you are here now for a reason. You know it intuitively.

Promise your heart you will listen to it, that you will do what it asks of you.

And when you need to make any decision, be all in or all out. Not fully down for it? Don’t do it.

If you are uncertain, choose to be all in because there is no other choice. It is pointless to take one weak step in either direction, when you could choose to take a step with power, even if you don’t know what the right decision is.

Fortune favors the bold, which requires you to be all in.

All in, or all out. Choose. Now.

Done.

-Michael

Bali: 1 Month Report + I Already Miss It

I can’t believe it’s been about 1 month in Bali. It feels like I’ve experienced so much, yet so little at the same time.

I’ve had so much fun with friends, going to parties, scuba diving WWII shipwreck, motorbiking across the island, seeing magical temples, and so much more.

At the same time, I feel like I’ve hardly done anything. With every adventure I’ve had, 3 more adventure ideas/possibilities came up. It feels as though I’ve hardly done anything!

I estimate that I’ll need at least 2 months to do everything I’d like to here in Bali- I haven’t even left yet, but I’m certain that I will return.

It’s a bit sad actually. While I don’t have too deep of social bonds to anyone here, I feel sad to be leaving new friends & the place of Bali.

It feels as though I’ve just gotten settled in- I know where my favorite restaurants are, as well as morning cafes. Just yesterday I discovered an amazing breakfast/brunch place with one of the best salads and coffee I’ve ever had in my life.

In fact, the coffee is literally SHIT coffee! It’s called “Luwak” coffee, and it’s the best I’ve had in my life- but it’s still SHIT coffee.

No, literally. The coffee beans are fed to the civet cat (a special animal in Indonesia), and then we take the coffee beans after they shit it out to make coffee. Sounds disgusting, and I hesitant on my first drink, but I also became hooked immediately.

It’s so amazing that today I had three Luwak coffees! A huge benefit of the coffee is that it’s low in caffeine, so three coffees doesn’t send you to mars.

Anyways, coffee aside, Bali has been amazing. Let’s talk about some of my experiences so far.

Bali: Mini 1-Month Report

I’m calling this a mini report because there’s so much to experience in a place like Bali you can’t really explain it all in words. It’s amazing!

Traffic & Motorbikes

The traffic is crazy, but you get used to it. I would not recommend riding a motorbike unless you have a license though, as the please sometimes make stops. The fine isn’t that much if you don’t have a license though.

However I recommend the motorcycle license because I learned things in training that you never could learn just riding on the road, such as how to make emergency turns, understand car’s and other people’s visibility of you, etc.

For example, even in USA you’ll see experienced motorcycle riders riding basically in between two lanes. Why do they do that? Is it to be dangerous and stupid?

Actually, not quite. Positioning yourself between two lanes is great because you aren’t in the car’s blind spots, and should the cars suddenly stop (or you notice someone isn’t stopping behind you) you have an escape point between the cars to accelerate to.

Riding a motorbike is fun, but so many clueless Westerners hop on a bike that don’t have a clue how to ride it. One thing that regularly frustrated me was all the people that left their turn signal on.

What’s insane is that people would leave a fucking turn signal on in night. Are they really so clueless they can’t see a giant flashing orange light on the motorbike IN THE NIGHT? What the fuck?

Most motorbikes also have a flashing green light on their dashboard, so some of these people riding motorbikes are so clueless that they’ll have a fucking flashing green light in front of them and flashing orange light to their right yet they don’t even notice it!

Either that, or they don’t know how to turn a turn signal off on a motorcycle (which is done by pressing the button down, compared to left/right).

Motorbike rant aside, it’s a lot of fun, and not as dangerous as you think- assuming you know how to ride a motorbike. The traffic appears crazy but there’s a method to the madness that I quickly figured out. I love motorbikes though, so you may not have the same fun experience.

As long as you’re calm riding, you should be fine. The problem comes when you get over-stimulated or over-excited. Everyone that I met that crashed created chaos instead of relaxing into the chaos. What I mean is that they felt the traffic was crazy, and so drove crazy, when in reality it appears crazy but you should actually be relaxed.

Generally speaking I would avoid white people on motorbikes, I felt safe riding around Indonesians and other people that clearly knew what they were doing. To someone watching me on a camera, you would think that some of my moves are “dangerous” (such as passing cars & motorbikes), but the reason I was doing it was to get away from other people that I felt weren’t certain.

In Bali, the safest thing you can do is keep it moving. Don’t ride too slow (but if you do hang to the right, and never drive slower than the cars). If you know how to pass cars, pass cars and get away from everyone else. But don’t do anything you aren’t calm/comfortable with, because it is fear that makes you crash.

Wow, that was a lot on motorbikes. I love it, it’s fun, and it really makes me present to the moment, but I am a bit frustrated by all the people who have literally no idea how to ride a motorbike and think that it’s easy- real training will teach you a lot.

Food/Dining

Food here is amazing, and primarily Western. Prices are cheaper than in USA, albeit not as cheap as I would’ve thought it to be.

Some places are super cheap, like I found one Indian restaurant which was exceptional- the setting appeared to be a shit-hole in the middle of nowhere, but actually it was amazing.

Some of the actual sit-down restaurants are amazing also, but those are going to have more Western prices.

Local Indonesian food doesn’t suit my fancy, but it is the cheapest food- I did have it a few times, and compared to Thailand it really isn’t good.

Thai food has so much diversity, so much flavor & spice, etc. and I’m really excited for this aspect of Thailand (I leave tomorrow to Chiang Mai).

The local food is always the cheapest food, and because Indonesian food isn’t too good (most would agree also, this isn’t just my preference- sorry Indonesians!) I can’t wait for Thailand for that reason. My monthly food costs will reduce drastically, while the quality will increase.

However the diversity of Western food here is exceptional- I ate at amazing steak restaurants, Italian restaurants, a Balkan (Bulgarian/Serbian/Romanian) restaurant. and even Greek restaurants.

I had 2 Danish friends that even found a Danish restaurant and they said it was 100% authentic.

Each bite of the Balkan restaurant felt like I was back in Bulgaria, and the smells took me back to living in Sofia. The food I had in the Greek restaurant took me back to Greece.

The owners are also from their restaurant’s location. The Balkan restaurant owner was Romanian. The Greek restaurant was owned by a Greek man with such a thick accent it was damn obvious where he was from. The same for my favorite Italian restaurant.

They were all so kind also. The Romanian promised me a special Balkan drink when I return to Bali, and the Italian man gave me and a friend free dessert and a free shot of something amazing. The Greek, like a true man from Greece, was always there to greet you with a big smile and shake your hand as you left.

Health Food

There is a huge healthy/vegan scene here, if you’re into that. I eat healthy (but with meat/dairy) and the food is exceptional. I even eat at Vegan restaurants, which says a lot about someone who loves his Balkan meat.

While the local food is lackluster, the overall food scene is exceptional. Because it is not local food the prices are slightly higher than the local food prices in a place like Chiang Mai, but the prices are still very affordable.

For the value you’re getting, it’s insane. You can eat magical smoothie bowls filled with all kinds of incredible food. Even more Western dishes are stylish & colorful, from local restaurants to high-end restaurants. Foodies will love it here!

Note: there are some great local restaurants which I ate at, one of which was in the Northeast of Bali, and I stayed in Canggu where many travelers/expats hang out, so this is probably why my experience of the local food was different.

Cafe Scene

There are exceptional cafes as well- the smoothies & health scene here is exceptional! You can find delicious, cheap smoothies filled with whatever you’d like and no added sugar everywhere at a very affordable price.

The local coffee scene is amazing- the best in the whole world, based on what I’ve experienced.

The coffee shops are not designed for work, like some are in Poland, Bulgaria, and Chiang Mai.

They are more designed to be social, so you can’t get work done. This is the one downside to Bali, that you must find a co-working space (more on that later) if you work remotely.

Even then, there are some places you can get a little work done… it’s just not so normal here, so keep that in mind, remote workers!

One of my favorite cafes serves something called a “Chicory,” which is kind of like Decaf coffee. It tastes so good and I often drank there.

Just yesterday I discovered Luwak coffee, and I wish I had found it earlier because I’d love to have this exceptional drink every single day.

These cafes often serve breakfast/brunch as well. For example, the place I get my Luwak coffee also serves one of the best Caesar salads I’ve had in my whole life.

So the cafe/food scene here is exceptional. You can expect amazing food at an affordable price.

Fun & Adventure

Besides riding the motorbike, there’s tons of adventure to be had here.

You can see beautiful rice fields, climb or ride up mountains, see magical temples, go to the beach, surf, practice yoga, meet friends, go to bars, and so much more. You name it, it’s probably here somewhere in Bali.

I mean if I can find a Balkan restaurant here, you can find pretty much anything here.

There are amazing gyms, and even some rock-climbing ones. Yesterday I went to a trampoline place where you could jump on several trampolines indoors.

There are also ultimate Frisbee tournaments I’ve gone to, cool bars, Tennis, bowling, again- you name it you’ll probably find it somewhere here.

Culture

Balinese people are very kind, though one frustrating thing is that because so much of the economy is dependent on tourism, a lot of locals probably see you as a walking ATM.

That’s not true everywhere though- in the Northeast I met some compassionate, hilarious locals that wanted to tell jokes with me and just have a good time.

Canggu is a very popular Western / expat place, so my experience is a lot different than someone staying in Ubud or Amed. I also made Western friends, which made the whole experience a lot different than if I had a set of local friends.

I did make some local acquaintances through ultimate frisbee, but we didn’t hangout so much- we did in a group (with foreigners) so I haven’t got a complete local hangout just yet.

In a place like Bulgaria or Poland, you immerse yourself in the local culture. You are joining Poland or Bulgaria, but in Bali the experience is truly amazing but you don’t really feel like you’re joining some local culture because of the amount of tourism / expats here.

Again, I only stayed a month, and it would be totally different if you were staying elsewhere!

Next time I’m here I might stay in Ubud, or if I stay in Canggu again I’ll venture more far out to less-traveled areas. For example, going north from Canggu just 3-5 miles and you’re away from all of the western / expat stuff.

I went up there to explore a couple times, and saw so many beautiful temples, amazing locals, and talked to some groups of people to see what they were doing.

Away from the expat areas is a completely new Bali. If you’re white, it’ll be quite apparent that you are truly in Asia because in these villages where no one else goes only the locals are there.

One strange thing that happened was me and a friend were exploring a beach north of Canggu away from the tourists (where we were the only white people we saw, except for one other couple we saw later) was a group of kids maybe aged 10-15 came up to us and wanted photos with us.

They spoke hardly any English, but intuitively I could feel that it had to do something with the color of our skin. My friend, a Danish girl, said that in Lombok (a neighboring, less touristy island) she had several people come up to her asking for a photo or guys giving her free stuff (ie. hitting on her).

Maybe they wanted to show to their friends they had foreigner friends? Or that they had met foreigners who had actually dared to venture out of the Western hub of Kuta, Seminyak, and Canggu? Or they thought it was weird we were on this beach?

Who knows. We can’t judge, and we shouldn’t say bad things about it. Maybe they just thought it was interesting we were there. I now try to take photos with as many people I meet wherever I am in the world, and true Bali culture must be so different from our own that I can’t understand it.

For example, I’ve observed a lot of Asians like taking lots of photos. There’s a joke that you can spot the Chinese by how they take lots of photos in groups.

While this is vastly different from us Americans (we may take photos, but not so many, and not of random things) we must remember that our cultures are different- we must respect that.

It has been scientifically shown that an Asian’s brain processes information different than an American’s for example. This isn’t good or bad. It just means that our culture shapes the way we act and see the world.

From what little I do know of Balinese culture, it is deeply spiritual. All over the roads even in Canggu you will see special little offerings and incense. It is beautiful to see! There are temples everywhere where they pray and make fascinating noises.

While some in the local areas see you as walking ATM’s, and if you walk around you’ll sure to be badgered by several taxis, the vast majority of people are highly compassionate. Indonesia is about smiling and putting your best food forward.

All of the locals speak some English as well, albeit many with a strong accent that can lead to minor difficulty here or there. You must not speak too fast or complicated, or with too strong an accent, to make sure you’re properly understood.

Some things are simplified. For example, if someone orders something and you want it, you don’t say “hey I’d like one of those also” you say “same same.” Actually, that’s more of a Thai thing, but I am fairly certain it applies here also.

Honestly, now that I’ve wrote this, I feel that it kind of does a disservice to Indonesia. I honestly have no right to talk about local culture because I’ve only been here a month, and I didn’t make several local friends or experience local festivals.

I am a foreigner who often enjoyed things with other foreigners. There are some very obvious differences, such as that smiling & service is super valued, and that people are extremely kind.

But a true Balinese culture? Impossible for me to write about. What I’ve wrote here is probably 1% of local culture, if even that. I’ve only scratched the service, and I’ll never understand it completely.

For example, my ex was Bulgarian and I’ve lived in Bulgaria for roughly a year. Many of my friends there are locals. I experienced several local holidays, learned some Bulgarian, and even after almost a year with my ex we were still discovering fascinating differences between us.

The way we were raised, American vs. Bulgarian, was so vastly different, our lives so different, and culture so different that it would be impossible for one to fully comprehend the life of the other- though we can certainly try!

I intend to go back to Bulgaria for 2-3 months starting June, and even then I know that if I were to live in Bulgaria for years I would still discover things about the culture.

It’s not that people are exotically different- we are all fundamentally humans. It’s just the million subtleties that create a culture or experience. It’s the unspoken differences. It’s the vibe that you can just feel is different- not better or worse, but much 2 different great songs, equally beautiful, but beautifully different.

So, I just want to say here that experiencing what little bits of the local culture was amazing, but I’ve hardly tapped the service. They are humans like us, but with a vastly different world view.

I’m just grateful to have been in Bali and experienced this amazing place!

Spas & Massages!

Southeast Asia is AMAZING for massages! This is true of Thailand also!

Here in Bali you can get exceptional massages for super cheap. I think I enjoyed one epic massage for not even $5- traditional 1 hour (or 1.5 hour?) Balinese massage. It was amazing.

There’s also a great spa called Amo Spa which has more expensive massages, but then a spa with sauna & cold plunge which is cheap for the add-on price. I met lots of cool people there.

Internet & Censorship

Internet is cheap (in terms of getting a SIM card for your phone), but it can be spotty at times, depending on where you are.

Sometimes it’ll randomly go out. WiFi can also be very spotty. Video calling with friends was often difficult, and sometimes impossible.

The government also censors several websites, mainly porn websites, but then random websites get caught in the filter like Reddit. Sometimes Reddit works, such as if you Google “Reddit [topic to research,” but if you were to try go to the main page it wouldn’t.

At some co-working spaces & cafes, you can access blocked websites. For example, where I’m at now I could visit Reddit if I wanted to.

Generally WiFi is good, but you can’t work outside of a co-working or coffee shop with great internet, unless your villa has great internet.

Accommodation

Accommodation is cheap and readily abundant! My “home-stay” (which is like a hotel room but with a family in a villa) is just $425 for the month. No deposit required. It’s also directly in the center of Canggu (but this I regret due to noise). It also is cleaned 3-4x per week.

If you can ride a motorbike, I recommend getting a place farther away from the center of Canggu or wherever you’re staying. It’s much more quiet, and a bit cheaper.

The extra 3 minutes will mean you save an extra $100-$200 on a month’s rent, it’ll be super quiet at night, and you may have a bigger place also. Next time, that’s what I will do!

Where I’m at now I need ear plugs to sleep at night. It’s not the worse thing because the location is amazing, but the extra 2-3 minutes of riding is totally worth the much-needed silence I’d like at night.

You can also get private villas, private chefs, private drivers for fairly cheap also, depending on your budget. Like I said next time I’ll look into a better home-stay, apartment, or even villa but farther out from the center for that much-needed silence. Maybe the WiFi would work, also.

Sometimes the electricity goes out too but that’s not really a problem. I think every place I saw had AC as well, which is obviously much needed.

One frustrating thing was that lack of silence in many of the accommodations I visited. I am fairly certain on one of my first few nights in Bali (in a different accommodation) I woke up to a couple having sex in the bungalow next to me.

I didn’t get any special action in Bali, which probably is okay because to be quite honest I’d rather have the freedom to make some noise than have to worry about waking up all the neighbors.

All kinds of wild animals, farm animals, ceremonies, and motorbikes make noise as well, which is why I’d recommend making sure your accommodation is quiet.

Digital Nomads

SO MANY people here make money online while working remotely! It’s a great community to plug into over here.

In Bulgaria I think I could count all of the digital nomads I met on one hand just because of how few there were- but all digital nomads seem to make their rounds here in Bali.

One thing that sucks is the visa situation though- there isn’t a super clear path to residency, as far as I know. However, that could just be the talk from a ton of complaining digital nomads.

Many digital nomads are living perpetually on a tourist visa, which makes me uneasy, especially after Bulgaria rejected one of my visa extensions. While I love it and will return, I feel uneasy about getting attached to a place that doesn’t have a clear path to residency and then citizenship.

Overall

All in all I loved my stay here in Bali. I feel like there are so many more adventures to be had. For every adventure I had, 2-3 more ideas popped in mind or were introduced to me by others!

I feel sad to be leaving- I will certainly return for a total of several months more stay.

I’m excited to return to Bali, experience more of the local culture, have great adventures, and make it even better than this time now that I have so much knowledge of how things work here!

There’s so much more to write about, I feel like I hardly tapped into the experience here in Bali, which is probably why I typically avoid writing posts about places.

And really, there’s so much more to write about. But I’m ending it here. So just keep in mind that there’s a ton more to Bali, you’d probably have to call me/Email me to get more info if you wanted to ask. 

Done!

-Michael

Fear is Your Compass

We humans fear success more than we do failure- I don’t know why, but that’s just the case.

I mean sure we pretend to fear failure, especially if we’ve some arbitrary degree of status or success that we might lose.

But what we really fear is moving up and embracing a new reality. Is it just the fear of change, or is there more to it?

I’ve watched all kinds of videos on this. Some people suggest that we have resistance because our primal brains just want to do what’s comfortable and what brings short-term rewards.

Another video suggested that we fear failure because back in caveman times we subconsciously knew that rising up in status too fast would trigger jealousy in others (in theory), and so we would keep ourselves at the level everyone else thought us to be to avoid unnecessary attention.

Whatever it is, I’d argue that success is scarier in a way than failure. With it comes power, responsibility, and a complete transformation of yourself.

In failing, you only have to enter a “derp” state and become less of yourself. You can dull out the pain with social media, YouTube, drugs, sex, TV, you name it.

What if you become rich? Now guilt-vampires may chase you down, reminding you that other people don’t have it so good.

Or worse: your friends and family may beg from money from you, and exploit your kindness.

You may wake up just to realize that all your friends & family were fake all along, and that they never really were authentic… Now that you’re a crab coming out of the bucket, everyone wants to pull you back down.

Maybe your girlfriend or boyfriend gets insanely jealous. They attack you with all their might, despite being the one person who was supposed to always be with you.

If you fail, they criticize you and work with the world to push you down, but if you succeed they grab onto you and pull you down, because they don’t get to be in the limelight.

I don’t know what it is, but you can’t lie to me and say that you don’t know what you really want to do- you have at least a sense of direction with where you want to go, or riches you wish to have.

Today I was talking with a friend about business, and we got really excited. We realized how simple business really is.

All you have to do is create a good ad, run it, sell a top-funnel product that breaks-even, and then create an upsell offer and you’ll be literally printing money.

If you don’t understand what I just wrote there, I promise it only takes a day’s worth of immersion to figure out what it means. Boom, instantly you’ll have the framework to be excessively rich from internet marketing.

The next steps are just to figure out how to write great ad copy, target the ad properly, get a great product, and sell the product. It’s really not complicated- it’s not super easy, but the path is there to walk, and it doesn’t take years to achieve riches.

But… it often does. I’ve remained mostly at the same income level for the past year. In fact, I haven’t really done too much in the past 2 years.

I’ve noticed that sometimes when I tried to get new clients I’d start sneezing a lot, get a headache, feel numb, self-sabotage, self-attack, and feel like an imposer, as if I wasn’t good enough to make a certain income level.

Anyways, my current income level is fantastic. I can enjoy a wonderful life in Bulgaria or Southeast Asia that many could only dream of.

The idea of doubling my income- something which in actuality is extremely easy to do- is quite exciting but in a sense also over-stimulating.

One psychology article I read suggested that the excitement associated with growing a business can often be subconsciously mixed up with the same excitement experienced during a traumatic situation which previously caused PTSD.

I’ve had diagnosed PTSD before, from a situation in which a gay guy tried to rape me in my sleep. I’ve also experienced severe bullying in school.

Because I have experienced these terrible things does my brain associate the overwhelming excitement with becoming financially free with these things? Is my brain circuitry a bit messed up?

This explanation actually makes a lot of sense, and even if you haven’t had one single-defining traumatic moment of your life (studies suggest many more have, you’re not alone!), you’ve likely experienced some emotional turmoil such so that you associate excitement with fear, and get emotionally overstimulated.

That which lies beyond comprehension is scary. I think of what tripling my income would do for me, which I could do, but haven’t yet:

I could take first-class long-haul flights, live in luxurious villas anywhere, make same-day travel decisions instead of budgeting, buy anything anywhere that I want. My income is good for a 21 year old (just turned 21 today!). Tripling it would be insane!

For a mixture of reasons, success is over-stimulating to us. The good is SO amazing that we don’t go for it. It’s too unknown, too much change, and we also use the fear of failure as an excuse not to move on.

One dangerous thing that traps a lot of people is when “a little success” prevents them from getting “a lot of success.” That has happened to me.

Someone makes a little money, but then in fear of making more, they never take the risk to make more, so they just stay where they are at.

Example: I know that I should run ads to try get new clients, especially now that my Facebook Ads skills has been validated. If I just dedicated $1,000 per month for ads, I could sign on several clients which allows me to scale my business very quickly.

The problem is: that $1k could go towards my savings in the event something goes wrong, or it could go towards paying tax debt that I owe. In the short-term, the 1k is very valuable, especially in terms of financial security.

One post on Reddit said “the middle class is when $100 isn’t a lot to make but it’s a lot to lose.”

That is so true- making a few hundred bucks is not exciting to me. I am in no hurry to do that because it wouldn’t change much. Dealing with that low of clients is not worth my time.

Losing a few hundred? That would affect me quite a bit. There’s A LOT I can buy with a few hundred bucks. That could be my food budget for the month, or in a place like Bali where my rent is currently $425 per month (and it could be less), that’s almost an entire month’s worth of rent!

At the end of the day, it’s all just excuses. Fear is the compass. You shouldn’t be reckless, though reckless people still often end up multi-millionaires.

What does fear is the compass mean? It means that what you’re afraid to do, you should probably do.

You should probably go talk to that girl. You should do that work out. You should probably run those ads, Michael!

Following Your Path

Following your heart is not always easy, and I’m still working on it every day. It’s what we all intuitively know needs to be done, but so few people actually do it.

One way to get started is to create a plan. Then the next hardest step is taking the first step.

A huge modern-day trap people have is “information paralysis.” There is so much information on getting started. You could watch countless videos on picking up girls, but one approach is better than all the videos you could watch by a certain point.

It’s easy to theorize, talk, plan, and learn but where is the actual growth? That’s done by walking the walk.

I just wrote a post earlier about a complete fake who received so many interviews, and was to be a Tedx speaker, yet was essentially broke. Those people are habitually addicted to the validation of appearing successful, without actually being successful.

Instagram makes it too easy to be those people. The only thing that matters in business is the profit you’re making and the clients you’re servicing, but you could just take nice photos of “the hustle” all day and make people think that you’re working.

Then you can wonder why it took 4 years to get your business going… maybe it’s because those types wasted all their time doing BS work, rather than what really counts (like making sales).

In my own life, I’m walking my own path. I’m terrified. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the fear of not being good enough. We fear that we don’t deserve the income, especially when so many others don’t have that income.

I know what I need to do, and finally walking the path is… exhilarating. It’s not always pleasant.

Sometimes I created an ad for a client that flopped right on its face, and I had to awkwardly explain why we spent $100+ for a lead that will go nowhere.

But now, I’m finally seeing the results come in. I’m finally developing my Facebook Ads skills.

I’ve finally got some clients (that I’m working with for free until my skills are validated) to run Ads for, and I’m finally seeing that I am deserving and skillful in this.

I’m doing what I’ve wanted to do.. for years. It didn’t take years of hard work to reach this level.

It could’ve been done so much faster. Probably in months. You could reach this success level in a mere 3-6 months, but success is more about overcoming mental blocks than it is about actually progressing.

When I spoke to my friend this morning, we realized just how easy building wealth is. I told you how earlier. The theory is so simple. The focused work, potential rejections, potential flops, and every other obstacle isn’t that bad but it’s all your mentality about it.

Lifting weights isn’t hard. It takes maybe 5 hours per week. Running isn’t hard. It takes 20 minutes a few mornings per week. Business isn’t hard. It just takes studying & working a few hours per day.

Everything is only hard in our minds because deep down, we’re afraid. We’re terrified. We have some resistance. We don’t know why it’s there. Logically we know that even if all our fears come true the success is more than worth it.

It’s all a battle in the mind, one we each must fight alone.

Fear is the compass. What you fear most, you know you must do.

The path is yours.

-Michael

WARNING: Beware Fake “Successful” People

One day recently I woke up and saw that a “friend” on Facebook had just announced he was to be selected as a Tedx speaker.

My mouth dropped in shock, like you see in those comical movies- except no, there’s absolutely no fucking way in hell this guy deserves to be a Tedx speaker.

You see, this guy just ghosted his company because he hooked up with an employee who decided to press sexual assault charges on him. He has no money, yet gets interviewed and pasted on magazines about business success.

Based on what I’ve heard he’s fled the USA- my source (his co-founder at the company he fled) has no idea how he’ll even do this Tedx talk considering he may have ruined his chances to ever return to America.

But despite all this, you see his picture-perfect Facebook & Instagram photos… “Oh look at me, I’m going to be a Tedx speaker!”

The sad part is people fucking believe it, and if he finds a way back into the USA, he probably will give a Tedx talk about some other hype.

I even used to believe this guy was “all that!” Back a few years ago I actually took his business advice- and now months ago he confided in me as we made a business deal that they have no money, and that he had to downgrade apartments because he can’t afford rent.

In fact, this is a rather interesting story development…

A Story of Me & a “Successful” Friend

When I first moved to Phoenix, I had just turned 18- I was fresh, new to the world, and without much life experience.

All I knew is that I wanted to make lots of money, do something epic like travel, pick up girls, and live a great life.

I met this friend through a self-help Facebook group, and we clicked fast. Soon we were hitting parties & hitting up girls together. I didn’t know so much of what he did, but that didn’t matter.

When I started getting interested in business, I realized that this guy was a co-founder in a company. Awesome, I thought!

He suggested to me that I go to University & do something besides Facebook Ads because they “don’t work.” I of course ignored the advice, thinking it to be a bit strange. Other advice he gave sounded good (the typical hustle shit you see everywhere on Instagram).

For the last 4-6 months of Phoenix, I was pretty isolated due to some chronic pain, and we weren’t hanging out much. I don’t think he or anyone really believed in my goal of making money online and traveling the world, until I announced to family that I had a one-way out of the country.

When I returned he was quite shocked, and confessed he didn’t think I could actually do it so fast- but all’s well that ends well!

All up to this point, I was under the social media illusion that he was a successful CEO. He also had an epic, large apartment right in the party area in Phoenix where he regularly pulled girls to.

One of the last weekends I spent the weekend at his place because his roommate was gone and we actually had a blast throwing late-night parties and bringing people up from the party area to have a crazy fun time.

And Then, One Year Later…

So, no harm no foul- everything appeared normal. He had girls, money, he was the CEO, he lived in an epic apartment, etc.

I left Phoenix and lived in Sofia, Bulgaria and also traveled all around Europe for about a year before I returned to Phoenix. I became a lot more authentic as well.

When I returned for a short 3 weeks to see family and I met with him, I was quite… unimpressed by him.

He had put on a few pounds, and he was super obsessed with social media and creating the perfect image on Instagram to get girls. I was more of the mentality that you should just be a bit more real.

Still, I hadn’t realized just how fake he was yet- he reported that his company had received millions in funding (I think this might actually be true), or that they needed a million, or something like this, and I was happy he was successful.

Me, another “successful” friend, and him all sat down and eat dinner together one evening and I proclaimed that we would see each other next year even more successful.

Note: that other “successful” friend could be slightly more successful, but it seems he also is more of an Instagram appearance success than anything else.

Then I left and returned to Europe, thinking that I wouldn’t be back in America for another year or so- but then shit went south, I became a mess, and I ended up back in Phoenix maybe 4 months later.

And That’s When The Lies Were Revealed

Despite being such a mess after the break up with my ex, it seemed that the Universe still had some synchronicity waiting for me. My friend was expanding his company to provide software development services and other services to other companies.

He had such a huge network (he appeared successful) that he could close deals and then a highly skilled team of software developers or marketers like me could service the clients. It seemed like a win-win- he gets the deals, I work the clients, we all get paid.

There were some instant red flags when we got things going. It became apparent quickly that all was not well in this company. The first was that they were actually doing this new venture because of the fact that their current venture wasn’t profitable yet.

Their current venture is a health product which definitely has the capacity to be profitable, but they blew so many funds from stupid moves and still had hurdles to overcome. They now had to leverage their teams to service other clients to get funds to fund their primary business!

When I sent my second invoice, it wasn’t paid… until a week later. I became frustrated. The pay wasn’t so good as it was. I quickly realized I was the only person being paid because I was the only one with boundaries- many other people were ASU interns working for free, or simply not paid.

My friend confided in me that he had moved apartments from his awesome party place to a less-flashy location because he had troubles with money. He also started another small service-based business (which isn’t that valuable) because he didn’t have money!

Suddenly it made sense why my friend never wanted to go out or eat somewhere or do anything- he had no money! But, I thought he was the CEO of a successful company?

The company was an extreme mess, hiring free labor (“interns” are legal slaves), not paying me on time, and the other founder of the company was pouring his parent’s money into the business and hadn’t make any money back.

They had investors, but the investors were investing in the long-term potential payout… no one seemed to be happy though because no profit was being turned now.

In short, this business was a fucking disaster. They had no money. Yet… They were everywhere reported as “successful.”

And Then, It Got Worse

My friend hooked up with an intern. Because that always goes somewhere good, right?

The intern later claimed to the company that she was sexually assaulted, AKA raped. She was considering pressing both civil and legal charges. She is a lawyer, too…

When the situation was investigated, it became apparent that her claims were 99% lies. The other co-founder secretly recorded every conversation with her and there were holes in her story (she told a different victim story every time).

There were multiple text records, audio records, etc. which made it highly unlikely it was sexual assault. The more likely story was that my “friend” and her had a thing, and then he cut it off realizing it was wrong and then she flipped out and pulled the rape card.

When her background was investigated, it became apparent that she regularly did this to companies. She had a pattern of “getting raped” at the various companies she worked for.

Note: this intel was relayed to me by the other co-founder, so who knows, maybe she was raped, but based on my personal interaction, etc. my first guess would be that she wasn’t raped.

As soon as this happened my “friend” disappeared from the company. At the same time as this happened, I stopped working for the company because I was tired of this invoice not being paid bullshit- all work was halted until my invoice was paid, and all future invoices paid 100% in advance.

So basically all the clients got confused and left in a rage and wanted their money back… money which had disappeared…

My “friend” ghosted the company, terrified… but why? The evidence highly suggested that she was not raped at all. Based on my personal interaction with the chick, she seemed bat-shit crazy and her story made no sense. I had a friend who coincidentally hiked in a group with her and secretly recorded an audio conversation with her which also revealed her to be batshit crazy (to warn me about this company, lol) .

This chick was scaring all the interns off, and people like me that were already frustrated with the company. I prepared my resignation letter, ready to disappear- but I put on a face of staying just so that my invoice could be paid, then I’d disappear!

My “friend” NEEDED to be present at the company to fix this shit. The clients were confused. The interns were disappearing. His friend/co-founder was confused.

The evidence suggested he was innocent. Why was he disappearing and not able to stand up against the charges?

I hate to say this, but even if he did rape her… *whipser* he could get away with it because of the overwhelming evidence against her.

Whatever, I didn’t care. Fuck this company, fuck this situation, fuck everything- I collected my money and headed out!

A couple months later now, I find out that my “friend” is in a country on the other side of the world, which makes no sense given his visa situation. Note: this could be false intel, but is most likely true.

Why in the hell is he on the other side of the world? I get that receiving a false rape allegation is bloody terrifying, but running away from it makes you look guilty!

I must say that I do think he’s likely innocent, knowing him, knowing this chick, and having seen the records. It’s abundantly clear they had a secret relationship which he then cut off and she responded by going batshit crazy.

But is there more to the story? I don’t know, it’s about my paygrade. Maybe there’s even more to this rape story or more probably there’s more going on at the company that he fled from (ie. maybe he has a history of seducing interns, or something like this so despite it being consensual it’s still way fucking wrong).

And Then…

And then, after all this shit, I wake up and see a Goddamn post about my “friend” doing a Tedx talk. What in the fucking fuck?

And so many people were liking on it, commenting on it, so excited, so many likes, so many engagements- are people really so blind?

This is why I hardly use social media personally. So many people that build themselves up on social media are actually so full of shit. Not all people that build an image on social media are bad, but too many of the people I meet on social media that are “Insta-famous” are actually just shit in life.

My Friend vs. Me (and Others)

I don’t mean to brag, so sorry if this comes across like it, but let’s make a fair comparison.

My “friend” is on magazines, news, whatever, super popular and receiving business awards and has a lot of Instagram & Facebook followers. He has been selected to give a Tedx talk. He has been interviewed a lot to give business advice.

Yet his company has never turned a profit, he can barley afford rent, he’s hooking up with interns that claim he sexually assaulted him, and despite the overwhelming amount of evidence that supports his innocence he fled the country & ghosted his company which suggests he’s either a massive pussy (meaning he’s afraid his perfect social media image is ruined), or there’s something more going on at the company, or.. he actually did do that horrible thing.

And then there’s me (and countless others like me): I have like 100 Instagram followers, maybe 3 Facebook posts, and maybe 60 friends subscribed to my blog (but maybe only 10 people who actually read each post). My website gets maybe 5 views per day or something terrible like that.

I could be insta-famous or blow this blog up, but instead I choose to develop my character, and my real business, and live real life. My image is secret. No one knows my life, and you would never discover me on Google, Instagram, or Facebook.

Yet despite living in the shadows I’ve lived in multiple countries, traveled to 13+, eat out every day, and have been (for the most part, though I’d be lying if I said always) financially secure for the past 2 years.

Look Past The Image

People like my friend are exactly why success can be hard to attain- many of the truly successful live secretly in the shadows, actually enjoying their life.

For example in 2018 all I cared about was my ex-girlfriend. I wasn’t trying to post photos of her butt on Instagram to get likes n’ views. I’d rather just enjoy my time with her.

I have a group of absolutely amazing friends in Sofia, Bulgaria and several wonderful contacts all around the world (such as in Montreal, Phoenix, Belgium, London, and now places in Southeast Asia).

You would never guess by my Facebook images or profile that I’m living an epic life- and even as I write this, don’t assume that I am!

I try to be authentic, and if I’m being completely authentic I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, I’ve been sick the past week, and feeling generally agitated / mildly culture shocked. So even as I write “living an epic life,” I can guarantee that my past week has not been significantly more legendary than many other people’s especially due to my cold that I had.

Very few people are willing to be authentic though. I’d get more likes if I took a photo of a nice ass on the beaches of Bali, or took a selfie on a surf board, or maybe took a selfie with some of the monkey’s in Ubud.

The fact is me admitting that I’ve been sick a week, or that I cussed out the Ocean when I struggled surfing, or that Bali traffic is something hella annoying, simply doesn’t get likes or engagement- but it’s the truth.

People like my “friend” love the attention. He’s probably a narcissist (or worse, considering that the rape charges may be legit).

Note: if I didn’t include “friend” or every time I said my “friend” please include it mentally because obviously he’s not a good friend anymore or even really an acquaintance.

SO MANY people are posting these fucking picture-perfect photos on Instagram, it just makes me sick. Even on my flight to Bali I met a guy and girl who both had picture-perfect photos, but the girl was just a straight-up bitch; they were all talk, no substance.

You’re a million times more likely to find these people on Instagram than me or someone truly successful because the truly successful don’t have time to perfect a stupid social media image.

They’re out making millions, enjoying an amazing girlfriend, spending time with family and friends, and enjoying the finer things in life… and they feel no need to whip out the phone to go get 1,000 likes from strangers that mean nothing to them.

It’s all too easy to get hooked on Instagram because it’s what we think we want- but it’s not.

The people you look up to are creating an image. It’s OK to get inspired by it- for example, I was often inspired by photos & videos of Bali or Bulgaria or whatever. But don’t get attached to the people that are sharing these stories.

Don’t even get attached to me! I am a guy writing a blog, you might think I’m successful but I guarantee you there are countless people way more successful than I am that have 0 social media presence and 0 blog and just have like a family of 5 and then 2 close friends.

The truth is always deeper than the image. So many people appear to be successful, but they actually are fleeing their company, a country, they have sexual assault charges, and their company has never been profitable but instead countless dollars in the hole… and they can’t even hire employees or pay interns.

You might think this is a one-off case, but I assure you it isn’t. As I’ve grown in such LITTLE success, my bullshit-meter is super high. Your reality would fall apart if you knew just how many of those people you follow on Instagram are secretly miserable.

Verify Real Success

When taking advice from people… verify real success. You may just be taking advice from an ass-hat that enjoys jerking off their ego and that has no real success.

Also keep in mind that many of the truly successful people lie in the shadows. When you sit down in a restaurant or coffee shop, there might just be a millionaire or billionaire living the best life on Earth, but you’d never know because they’re dressed in plain clothing and focused on taking care of their kids just like everyone else.

Appearances are just that- appearances. It’s hard, but don’t get sucked into them, because the truth behind these people is not what it appears to be.

Done.

-Michael