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


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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 to introduce yourself or work with her. If you enjoyed this, sign up for more updates. TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus

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I Survived Mt. Pulag

The Philippines Jeepney, refashioned from the old WWII days, rode up the narrow, one lane dirt gravel mountain road in steep angles and curves so sharp you’d have to go 5mph and back up to readjust. To my immediate left, looking down the window, I saw the cliff’s edge just inches away from the wheel. One wrong move and you’d be over the edge.

I tried to avert my attention to the fact that my life was in the hands of a driver and I had no control over the ride. I reassured myself that he had probably driven this route 1,000 times. Leave it to the locals. As we slid on our seats from left to right, I knew the initial venture to climb Mt. Pulag–the getting there–would be more scary than the actual trek.

Mt. Pulag is the Philippines 2nd (some say 3rd) highest peak at 2,922m high. I got a chance to trek and camp overnight with a photography group who sponsored 50% of my travel fee and even let my boyfriend go for free. I’ve been wanting to add more adventure, travel, exercise and outdoors in my year and January has been off to a great start.







We were literally above the clouds. Camped out for the night, I saw the full moon rise behind the mountain and slowly peek its way up. Breathtaking.

I almost didn’t go. Thinking it wasn’t feasible or that I wouldn’t know anyone or some excuse or the other. But it was a beautiful trek and I couldn’t resist a chance to experience the great outdoors.

When was the last time you turned down an opportunity to experience the world?
When was the last time you took it?

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 to introduce yourself or work with her. If you enjoyed this, sign up for more updates. TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus

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Lessons from
the Trenches:
Craft Your Story

Yes, I actually did this shit during a 660 km walking pilgrimage. Pre-slum creds. Da BOSS.

I’m crafting my rags to riches tale and I’m doing it in the slums. For as much as I could berate myself for all the stupid decisions I’ve made to get to this point, I have to believe this is bloody brilliant. And it is, if you let it. It’s also bloody moronic if that’s what you decide it is. It’s up to you. You choose your own adventure. The drama you make is the drama that you live.

I have to believe that its a brilliant rags to riches tale because that’s the story that I want to create. Am creating right now.

For all those “self-made” millionaires that have their sob story of living in their mom’s basement or living in their car, whether exaggerated or true, can they really beat living in the third world slums?

I sold my car so I could live.

When I build things I shake things up. I don’t do things the “right” way or the “easy” way. I had zero savings and spent the only retirement funds I had. TIP: That tip they tell you to save at least six months of a monthly living wage? It’s a good one.

Craft your story because nobody else can do it for you.

Build your location independent biz abroad

In January 2010, I moved to SE Asia, more or less. I traveled nomadically for over a year, including a 660km walkabout (literally), before I settled in slumsville. I still question my judgment but I’m starting to believe that I had a shroud of brilliance.

Live cheap like a local while I build my biz!

Experience rock bottom so I can humbly figure out how to serve those in need by living it!

Of course, you don’t have to bunk in the slums to benefit from building your location independent biz abroad. If you’re attracted to the digital nomad lifestyle, living cheaply in SE Asia is a great opportunity to build your online business, get out of the rat race, explore the world and live a more awesome life. Lets get real. It’s not like you’re going to be able to afford Europe right off the bat if you’re just starting out.

It’s not all glam, as you can see, but it’s a hell of a lot more fun.

Live 1/3 cheaper, live on part time income, live like a vagrant, it’s all possible in SE Asia.

You could half ass it and still live better than most locals.

You could couch surf like a bum and enjoy the locals’ stories.

You could end up squatting in abandoned buildings and live like a punk rocker. It’s all good.

If you’re the “safe” type, you’re going to want that six month cushion, but it’s not necessary. You can live on $5,000 a year in SE Asia, but if you want your first world privilege, prepare to live on $15,000 a year or more.

Even so, the point is, you don’t need a lot. You can use the leverage of less to build your business more.

Declare Your Wealth

If you’re starting cheap with hardly any overhead like a $100 Start-Up micro-business that Chris Guillebeau writes about, know your worth and declare your wealth. You may not be making $X amount now but you will be! Declare it. Set your money intentions and set the track for manifesting it to reality.

Your brilliant ideas and framework will naturally gravitate towards that number as your plan starts to take shape. Don’t expect magical manifestations to do everything for you, but work your ass off, build the biz model, do some project calculations if you’re the logical/linear type, and you’ll get what you asked for.

Be specific and then plan accordingly.

Make a List

Make a bucket list, make a goal list, make a to-do list, make a gratitude list, whatever it is just start making lists! I made a list so I could figure out my step-by-step plan to move to SE Asia. I listed each baby step I could think of so I could break down the scary goal into realistic small pieces that seemed less-scary. I was scared as hell and I’m not the planner type, but it worked for me. I moved myself from inaction to action.

The point of lists is to move you to action. They help you live intentionally, mindfully, and consciously. They help put BIG goals into bite-sized, manageable chunks. They help you keep track of your day and make sure you stay productive.

Break it down. What are your six month goals? What are your monthly goals? What are your daily goals? Start thinking intentionally about how you spend your time and what purpose it serves.

What’s Your Story?

Your life is literally being crafted every day. You can choose to actively write it, or let others shape it for you. Are you going to author your life? What do you want to do? How do you want to live?

It was easy for me to pick my own adventures, but when it came time to buckle up and do biz it was harder to translate into the deliberate path I had crafted my career sabbatical to be. Let your goals freely take shape by setting intentions, making lists, and crafting conscious choices every day to get to your destination.

Remember, it’s ALL about the journey.

How are you living your journey? What’s your story to craft?

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 to introduce yourself or work with her. If you enjoyed this, sign up for more updates. TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus

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China, All the Way To New York, I Can Feel the Distance Getting Close

This story starts back in college when I went to a private art school in the heart of yuppie town; the Pearl District of Portland, Oregon.

There was this blonde bimbo with that air of high-class and superficial flair who was complaining that she was going to go to China and skip a day or two of school just to run a half marathon. First world problems.

The nerve that she was complaining that she’d get to travel. And yes I know I’m being slightly mean-spirited when I say blonde bimbo but it’s my blog and I don’t care.

She hardly trained, she said. And each week I saw her, she was complaining about how she hated running. She was just doing it to support her sister doing the full marathon.. She just wanted in on the ride. And on and on.

I got into running in my early 20s because it was the cheapest way to stay fit, and the only thing that really helped keep off unwanted bellyfat, and also because my boyfriend at the time wanted me to and I had to mindlessly follow everything he wanted because I was young and naive back then. All I needed was to dress appropriately, walk outside and shuffle my legs. I got into planning my route and having a regular route I enjoyed. I loved running in fall, kicking the falling leaves as I ran past piles of raked foliage by the curve, and the slightly cool but bearable air. That fresh sting against my face to wake me up and let me know I was alive. I carried this hobby with me into my mid twenties.

My first running partner was a man over half my age in his 70s. His name was Fred and he was Filipino. I think we were the only brown ones in the whole town. Very white and Republican. It made me almost want to puke and I haven’t puked since I was little. That’s a lie. I puked last year when I drank coke and pineapple juice and coffee all in one sitting. I don’t know what I was thinking.

Fred was about as tall as me. 5’1″ and strong and healthy for his age. He looked at my then-boyfriend and then looked at me, smiled, and said “don’t I look like her grandpa?” His little eyes shined. I didn’t mind because my real life grandpa died after I visited him in the Philippines on a break from college. He had that look like he was proud of what I accomplished, and content, and could finally rest. I have this weird way of showing up in the Philippines right before relatives die. As if they were waiting to see me one last time before they pass on.

Fred had run a handful of marathons all starting after the age of 50. He encouraged me that it’s never too late to start anything. And that he liked me because I was young and it helped keep him younger. Old people always say that though. He was the perfect running partner because of his old age and short legs. For once, I never felt like I was lagging behind. We always ran side by side and once, we ran 8 miles together. I didn’t think I could do it, but he pushed me to keep going. If he can, I can. And he was right.

I was supposed to train for a half marathon then, in Honolulu. Fred gave me my training schedule and I halfheartedly followed until I stopped. A series of missteps, false starts and missed potential, just like the rest of my life. I was breaking up then and running couldn’t keep my interest. I was too preoccupied with a broken heart. Nevermind that running is good for the heart. I should have kept going…

I always knew I wouldn’t make it to Honolulu. When he told me the possibilities and how I could accomplish a half marathon, my eyes glazed over. I made the decision then to stop myself from starting. I was too broke. Too broken. How could I afford it?

There’s nothing like a little bit of inception to jolt you alive again.

The idea of running a marathon plays with my mind now three years later. I wrote it on my bucket list, so it must have some importance. China and that blonde bimbo awaken my rest. I haven’t ran seriously since I left Oregon. I miss the river trail. I miss seeing wild rabbits during my running route and the peaceful fresh air.

I remember seeing a movie from China once on a long airplane flight about a little girl who had no shoes. Her bigger brother would run every day to give her his shoes that they would share. Nevermind the fact that his shoes were too big for her. It was a charming story but also a bit of perspective as I came to realize that no movie would ever have that plot in the US, where having shoes are taken for granted. I guess where I’m going with this is that you should be grateful you’re running a marathon in China, and that you’re running it with shoes on.

I’ve got a long way to go to train for a fucking marathon. Let alone one with 5,000+ steps. But I’m doing it. Goddamn, I’ll do it. And I want to be grateful.

Do it for the blonde bimbo.

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 to introduce yourself or work with her. If you enjoyed this, sign up for more updates. TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus

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