2014: On Prosperity and Commitment

Goodbye 2013

2013 was a good year for me. A preparatory year. I hired a sexual liberation coach and it changed my life. I unconferenced World Domination Summit, crashing more than 10 unofficial meet-ups and felt I had finally met my tribe. I released old loves to make room for the start of a new one.

My time in the Manila slums wasn’t exactly a misstep. It was a step I had to take to go battle my dragons, but I knew that Manila wasn’t where I wanted to be in the long run. Truthfully, I haven’t found that place I want to be in the long run. Not yet, anyway.

I finally feel like I’m living my future now. My compass is set to the vision that I want to create. I’ve aligned myself to where I want to be. Everything opened up when I realized I didn’t want to live in Manila because Manila wasn’t my future. For as much as I love my motherland, and the natural beauty that the Philippines has to offer, it’s not where I want to live. The Philippines always felt like the place I wanted to go to die. By that, I mean to “retire”. I don’t want to die yet and there’s so much more to live.

Turning 30 really gave me a wake-up call. All of a sudden, I was no longer willing to tolerate the bullshit of my 20s. If it’s not what I desire, why keep doing it? You can always change things. Pivot. Go a new direction. Go towards your desires.

When I first contacted my sexual liberation coach last summer I was ashamed and embarrassed. Why was I seeking help, exactly? I was happy, so why was I so unsatisfied?

I had been getting urges to try new things. Things I couldn’t, in the capacity of a monogamous relationship, explore. I also wanted to start writing a sex blog. One that was spiritual and sensual by nature, but also just talked a lot of erotica and softcore smut.

This sexual liberation lead me into a journey of creating my “New Story” as I began to explore my openness towards polyamorous philosophy. I wanted to explore that philosophy, and then I wanted to experience it.

Letting go of monogamous relationships that didn’t serve me was the first step.

But this isn’t a blog about sex and polyamory. That comes later.

Mainly, I wanted to acknowledge how 2013 was a year of growth and transformation. Things shifted. I finally feel like I’m on the right path. “Sometimes when things fall apart they may actually be falling into place.” That’s the beauty of life. The destruction/creation cycle. The Kali dance. The creative process.

I’m happy to be in my “falling into place” part of the process.

2014: I’m Ready

2014 is the year of prosperity. It is the year my business will flourish. It is the year that I not only commit to myself, but explore what it means to be “free”. Starting in Thailand.

I’m a commitmentphobe, or at least I have been for the last few years. This shows up in the way that I’m afraid to commit to my own business. Or in the idea of a serious relationship (I haven’t had one in over five years) and marriage, which still feels like a noose around my neck. For some reason, I have equated commitment for lack of freedom and this has been detrimental for growth. Not only in lack of freedom within intimate relationships, but lack of freedom from living the life I want. Committing to my business means redefining how I look at freedom and pushing through my own barriers, creating better systems, and staying consistent and productive.

It has been awhile since I “shook things up” in my life and experienced a good dose of the uncomfortable. It’s scary, nervewracking but also extremely exciting and what I live for.

I’m on my own, for the first time. While I can’t say I’ve lived alone in all my 30 years of existence (I’ve always cohabited with partners or lived with roommates or parents), I’ll finally be experiencing a taste of it in Chiang Mai. For at least a month, I’ve reserved a place to stay, and I may extend for longer.

“Freedom” is a buzzword in the location independent, digital nomad circle, but what does it really mean? The freedom to choose how to spend your time and where to work is a big draw. For an introvert like me, working from home or in a cafe is perfect. The freedom to create the life you want. It’s all about living intentionally. Conscious living. Mindfulness.

Planning and goal setting at the start of the year has always been one of my weak points, but this year, I’d like to launch at least two product offerings. I hate to “plan out loud” on my blog for fear that I won’t accomplish it, and I still have to think more about how I’m planning my year. I’ve got a few ideas kicking around my noggin for things to do. I just need to take consistent action. I just need to commit.

Commit to being committed is a focal point. It’s the underlying theme behind prosperity that my 2014 theme could well also be commitment.

Business is my Boyfriend

Something synchronous happened recently that I consider to be a sign. I swear Universe/Source talks to me through social media/tech because I’m always online. I had pinned “Money: A Love Story” by Kate Northrup on Pinterest and because Facebook picks up my Pinterest activity, one of my friend’s commented on how it’s a great book. While I was typing a reply, my Macbook somehow spazzed out when I was clicking around and suddenly, a PDF popped up called “Date Your Dollars: Money Makeover”. It was a PDF from a financial coaching session I had done over a year ago with Karie Hill. I still have no clue how it opened up as a preview and it would not X out of my screen! I had to restart my computer to get rid of it.

The synchronicity was too uncanny to be a coincidence. Since “Money: A Love Story” and “Date Your Dollars” both have an underlying theme of relationships, I got the message loud and clear.

Ok, Universe, I’m supposed to work on my relationship with money. Business is my boyfriend. And dating my dollars is a form of self-love and self-care. I take care of myself by taking care of how I make money, and transforming my relationship with money. Committing, once again, so that I can experience prosperity. The vision of being a bread winner is completely empowering to me.

Beyond that, I saw it as a positive sign that this meant money WILL transform this year and prosperity WILL come. It was a sign that I’m on the right track and that I will manifest the money, my target goals, by the end of the year. It may sound crazy, but it’s not impossible.

In the next few weeks I’ll be further outlining how I plan to date my dollars and create a plan for prosperity. I hope you’ll stick around to read what’s in store.

Janet Brent

Janet is a graphic/web designer for indies in the holistic and creative arts. She is passionate about working with creative world changers and showing people how to march to their own beats. You can email her at janet@byjanet.net to introduce yourself or work with her. If you enjoyed this, sign up for more updates. TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus

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How I Escaped a 9-5 Dead End Job and Launched a Life Abroad

bantayan

NOTE: This post is to accompany an upcoming offering I’m cooking up on creating your Escape Plan. If you’d like to help me out, fill out this quick survey. Thank you!

Let me be transparent. I never made it up the corporate ladder like the many “quit your job, launch a biz” stories out there. I’ve never even made more than $35,000/year.

I always knew there was something more for me. Every day felt like squandering my talents. I was’t happy. I dreamed of escape.

There’s something romantic about living abroad. At least, I always romanticized it. I dreamed about moving to New Zealand or somewhere in Europe. My partner at the time always made excuses. How hard it is to start over. How difficult it is to move all your crap (note: DON’T move your crap, sell your crap). How difficult it is to get visas and for countries to accept you for work. And on and on. I felt discouraged and shot down. I knew I wasn’t living my life. I felt stuck in a rut and it was killing my spirit that wanted so much to feel alive.

I learned to let go.

The weight in my heart was weighted down by stuff, and by a dying love I was better off without. I learned to let it go.

This was a dark moment in my life, but it was also a time of great creativity, the typical “tortured artist” stereotype. There was sadness steeped with creative muse. I found my poetry. I became the writer I always was. And although I vowed two years of celibacy to go inwards, sensual, erotic words spilled out of me, confirming my erotic nature would not go hidden.

I knew that no matter what, I was going to be ok. Better than ok. I knew I was moving towards my best life, and learning to be my best self.

Making a List

I made a plan. I dreamed of going back to the Philippines and finding my cultural roots again. Exploring more than just the Cebu province I had always been to with my mom.

I set an intention.
To volunteer in India and move to the Philippines in one year (at the time, 2010). I wrote down a step by step plan to break down the fear. I began to downsize and sell my stuff.

It wasn’t rocket science. In retrospect, this is the exact technique Napoleon Hill teaches in Think and Grow Rich with your ‘statement of desire’. Write down a desired goal and when you’d like to complete it by. Write down what you’re willing to give to get that goal. And then write a plan of action.

My simple list seemed much easier once I broke down the steps:
Step 1: Commitment
Step 2: Research
Step 3: Visa application
Step 4: Apply for jobs/ Get interviews set
Step 5: Sell/move my Stuff
Step 6: Purchase one-way ticket
Step 7: Pack
Step 8: Get on plane

To make the commitment, I found a voluntour opportunity in India. I knew it would be fun to visit another country on my way to Philippines. To experience travel that I had missed from years of passivity and low self-esteem. I researched a lot of options before applying to a program. The application process was non-refundable so this symbolized the point of no return. This was it. Fill in the application. Step one.

I made sure to cut back on expenses/social life/going out. I didn’t go shopping except for food and necessities. I didn’t make that much so it was hard to get ahead each month but I tried my best. I sold most my stuff, with what little I had. A djembe drum, a violin, a guitar, dresser drawers, and an XBox360 I had won from work before I left.

Quitting My Job

I had actually planned to quit my job in December 2009. I had my plane tickets already purchased. I just wanted the last few paychecks.

Turns out, the job fired me in November instead but I left smiling and laughed in their face. It was a mutual departure and I still felt like I had ‘quit’. They just beat me to it.

While I tried to find a small seasonal job during the holidays to hold me over for a month, it didn’t work out and I made the intention to find a job that I could “take with me” and do from anywhere. Soon after, I found an opportunity on my twitter feed for a social media gig. I got the work, although it was very part time, but it was enough to hold me over for SE Asia, and it was my first foray into being “location independent”. I also got a design gig from scouring Craigslist and worked on designing a portfolio for an architect. This small taste of what my new life could be like was just the beginning.

Launching My Life Abroad

It helps to have contacts where you land. In my case, I went to India to volunteer with a group and then went to the Philippines where I have family. I soon grew bored of staying at
the family ancestral house and began to look for other adventures.

I experienced culture shock. Even in my own motherland. I wasn’t used to being on my own, and it was the first time I had gone back without my mom. It was my first time completely solo.

I found a Zen monastery retreat for 4 months and decided to take up the offer. It soon stretched into 6 months, with a month interlude in Taiwan to temple hop and visit the head temple from the Fo Guang Shan foundation. Because everything in the monastery is provided for (meals and sleeping quarters) and they actually gave us a monthly allowance, I was able to spend less than $1,000 that year.

I traveled here and there around the Philippines and eventually ended up in Manila for two years, living frugally on $50/month rent at an informal dwelling. It wasn’t glamorous, but it was enough to start my business as a self-employed graphic/web designer. Two years and still going. 2014 is the precipice of massive transformation.

If you’d like to have a life of travel/living abroad while being location independent, email me for a free 30 minute discovery session to see how I can help.

Janet Brent

Janet is a graphic/web designer for indies in the holistic and creative arts. She is passionate about working with creative world changers and showing people how to march to their own beats. You can email her at janet@byjanet.net to introduce yourself or work with her. If you enjoyed this, sign up for more updates. TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus

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Living with Intentional Poverty

My corner of the slum, squinting from the morning sun, 2011

My corner of the slum, squinting from the morning sun, 2011

I recently came across an article that wrote about America’s “intentional poor”, intentionally living on $5,000 a year on purpose. The shift towards a minimalistic “simple” life is a new trend brought upon by the ever increasing demands of an unsustainable world. More and more people are consciously rejecting the status-quo, choosing to live off the land, off the grid, or find ways in which to live with much less in the realization that our current world and system needs a new way of doing things in order to thrive.

When poverty becomes privilege, though, is when you can deliberately opt out of the system in favor of “poverty” but just as inadvertently opt back in. Education, family/friends/networks and social status can always help you back into the norm. The demographics of people who intentionally choose poverty, therefore, are strongly white/Caucasian with little outliers here and there like a short Filipina-American woman who decided to move back to Asia and live in a Manila slum for two years on $3,000-7,000 a year.

That woman is me.

When I started this journey, I never did it to make a statement. I was simply broke on my last dollar and needed to figure out a cheap solution towards navigating a new and foreign city whilst trying to live on a meager start to self-employment with next to zero experience, let alone business skill. I was trying to reinvent myself; like a pheonix rising from its ashes.

This part of my history was never something I was proud of. In fact, it was a pain point that I was embarrassed of and tried not to talk much about. I used the self-pity angle here and there on my blog, and always felt worse for wear afterwards. I made myself as my own personal laughing joke. I cried a lot, curled in the fetal position. I felt like scum. I battled my demons. I prayed a lot. I faced my shadows. I noted the irony, having just gotten out of a longterm relationship, house and mortgage with a fairly comfortable life to this meager existence. How did I get here?

There came a point when I realized all of the whining and crying wasn’t going to help the situation and that the only way out was through. I tried to shift my perspective and look for ways the slums could teach me. What lesson did I need to learn? I got by just knowing that this was temporary. That, like the American’s intentionally choosing poverty, I had the resources to opt out if I really wanted to. I knew that this was “just a phase”. I never saw it as my permanent reality, only something that I was enduring. Eventually, I opted out two years later, but still live with an income under the American poverty line.

When I was a teen, I was into punk rock. Gutterpunks and squatting and counterculture was always something that interested me, but not something I seriously tried. I was a ‘poseur’ by most standards, but I loved punk rock ethos. This is another reason why the slums became my home. It became an adventure and a little bit ‘punkrock’. I tried to convince myself it would be fun.

Weakness turned into a strength slowly but surely when I began to own up to my alternative decisions. Maybe it was no accident that things turned out the way that they did. Maybe it was a statement from the get go. I’ve always been unconventional, and into eco-consciousness and sustainability… maybe from my Oregon upbringing. Here was a way to challenge normal ways of living, be minimalistic, reject status-quo and consumerism, make a smaller carbon foot print and learn to live with less. My very being is exactly this. While I wouldn’t live in the slums again, I definitely plan on living in alternative or minimal spaces in the future.

Lessons

I experienced firsthand how poverty is a state of mind, and how some of the happiest people don’t have much material wealth, yet live rich, full and thriving lives. It’s true when they say money can’t buy happiness.

The Philippines are resilient people, and they’ve made up their own systems and economies within communities to help survive.

I learned that I was living with poverty consciousness in my own life, whether as part of my collective cultural psyche or past experiences, or both. I had to consciously try to work on an abundance mindset, and I still am.

Even though I lived in the slum for two years, it became comfortable. I came to enjoy it, in its own way. I had standards too and chose a decent space. It wasn’t the worse slum on the block, and it was behind the “shadow of commerce”, a 10 minute walk to the big mall, where I ended up spending most my time. My spending habits didn’t quite transition to a “local” and my American habits of frequent Starbucks, eating out everyday, and the occasional shopping stuck out like a sore thumb. It made me really aware of how I spend and how I budget, or lack there of.

Intentional poverty is a journey I don’t regret. It’s the choice I made when I quit my dayjob, in an unfulfilling office, and decided to strike out on my own. First, it was a career sabbatical with less than $7,000 to my name, and then it was the bumpy ride of self-employment and aspiring entrepreneurship.

I broke free from the cubicle. I moved and lived abroad. It’s been a bumpy ride but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I’m still here. On my own path. What’s next?

I’ll be living in Thailand for at least a month, and then onwards to Europe and new adventures.

I will be offering a new coaching service for people interested in selling their crap, moving abroad, living intentionally and starting an online business. If you’re interested in a pay what you can basis, please contact me.

Janet Brent

Janet is a graphic/web designer for indies in the holistic and creative arts. She is passionate about working with creative world changers and showing people how to march to their own beats. You can email her at janet@byjanet.net to introduce yourself or work with her. If you enjoyed this, sign up for more updates. TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus

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Third Culture Kids Will Change the World

I first stumbled on the term third culture kid about a year ago, but ever since, I’ve felt like I finally found something that described “me”. I didn’t feel so alone anymore. My experience growing up and assimilating to different cultures and feeling “alien” was finally validated. Other people like me go through the same thing. It’s a third culture kid phenomenon.

A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background. ~David C. Pollock

Third culture kids come from a cross-cultural background. Because of this, they have the ability to bridge cultures and act as ambassadors. They are positioned in a way to shift cultures. They are positioned in a way to change the world.

I’ve always believed third culture kids have the excellent potential to change the world by building bridges, but I never saw this first hand in action until I met Francis Varga.

francis

Francis and I first bonded over being third culture kids. Like me, he was born in Cebu, but grew up abroad. Where I went to the USA at age 3, he went to Germany at age 6. He came back to the Philippines during the beginning of the year to rediscover his cultural roots and used it as a homebase while he traveled other parts of SE Asia. If you know my story, then his should start to sound familiar. He lived in SE Asia for a year and went back to Germany just a week before the big Typhoon Yolanda (internationally known as Haiyan) hit.

With his healthy network in Berlin, and his passion to help the country of his parents from the devastating destruction of mother nature, Francis decided he would start a blog to collect donations and write a petition on change.org for the two biggest cookie companies in Germany to donate 1,000,000 Euros or 1,000 tons of energy cookies to the Philippines relief efforts. This was the perfect marketing campaign with Christmas just around the corner. A win-win for both the companies and the Philippines.

His campaign went viral and soon was picking up media attention in Germany, and scheduled interviews. In one week, Francis will return to the Philippines to help volunteer his time, purchase supplies from the donations on his blog, and deliver the relief goods to critical areas of Cebu. While most news media is only covering Tacloban, the hardest hit city, there are still many smaller communities in Northern Cebu that have been completely wiped out and need help as well. Media coverage will start to taper off but there is still much work to be done, and a constant need for help.

Using his authentic story as an emotional connector, with his perfect background in two cultures, Francis became the posterchild for a good cause. He became the cultural bridge between two nations he is both rooted in, and the cultural ambassador for the Philippines in its time of need.

This is one example of how third culture kids are changing the world.

I do it in subtler ways. In supportive ways. Through intentional living, through words, my writing, and my own platform.

If you’d like to donate to Francis’ cause–to our motherland’s cause–and support the Philippines, the donations will be go directly towards helping the survivors in critical areas and we will be volunteering and updating our blogs with the progress.

Donate via my Paypal account, which I will directly forward towards Francis’ fundraiser:


Janet Brent

Janet is a graphic/web designer for indies in the holistic and creative arts. She is passionate about working with creative world changers and showing people how to march to their own beats. You can email her at janet@byjanet.net to introduce yourself or work with her. If you enjoyed this, sign up for more updates. TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus

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On Minimalism

travel

I’m cleaning out childhood memories. Old art school projects. Holy panties. Things I don’t need.

I’m leaving in less than a week to go back to the Philippines, then Thailand, but in the mean time, I want to get rid of crap at my parents house. I’ve been a pack rat for way too long… and my coach says clearing out the clutter is good for manifesting abundance… clearing space.

I don’t have storage units. I just have boxes in my parent’s garage, an overflowing closet in my childhood room, everything still in tact. I leave my stuff in places and home bases. I still have a suitcase full in Cebu, where I’ll be going to visit family again by the first week of September. I still have loads of books and clothes, an expired Philippines passport I don’t need since my US passport is better, rain boots with polka dots and my favorite, almost brand new hiking shoes, and random odds and ends in Manila. I’ll probably never get that back because I left that life behind and abruptly ended a relationship.

Other than the messes I leave, I think I could be a minimalist. I pack light. I know how to live off a suitcase. When I knew I was going to be traveling and moving to Asia over three years ago, I got rid of furniture, an XBox360 I won, my guitar, a djembe, one (of two) of my violins… My room was sparse and I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor. It’s probably the cleanest I’ve ever been. That whole year living with roommates, even when I wasn’t preparing to move, was the cleanest time of my life. If you want to stay clean (and by that I mean tidy), just get rid of crap and clutter and stop acquiring any. I left a house and mortgage and discovered my crap was very little compared to my ex. And separating out what was “mine” and “his” looked a little bit unfairly all “his”.

I’d love to live in a tiny house. Some “alternative” living space. Small spaces and modular designs. A treehouse. A hobbit house. I’d love it.

I hate the idea of acquiring furniture. I want my life to fit in as little as a suitcase, with a few boxes here and there for good measure. I like living 2-3 years at a time in one place, and then moving on. It had been 3 years in the Philippines, and it had been 3 years in my past life and relationship too. My concept of life is temporary and I don’t like the process of acquiring. Rather, I love the process of letting go. Life isn’t immortal anyway. Not this tangible life. But maybe our souls.

Maybe someday, I could have my own library, and all my books displayed, outside of their crummy boxes, but for now, I love the semi-nomadic life. And I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon.

30 day challenge

Could you live a minimalist lifestyle? Why or why not? OR What does minimalism mean to you in the context of your ideal lifestyle?

Janet Brent

Janet is a graphic/web designer for indies in the holistic and creative arts. She is passionate about working with creative world changers and showing people how to march to their own beats. You can email her at janet@byjanet.net to introduce yourself or work with her. If you enjoyed this, sign up for more updates. TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus

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