Is Erin Still Alive? + Self-Publishing Ebooks

As of this moment, as I type from my cat-sitting assignment in New York City, I am indeed still alive!  Although, in spite of many opportunities for doctors to figure out what’s wrong with me, they’re still clueless.  Once I have a dx, I’m pretty sure I can suss out a way to get myself to kick-ass status again in a physical way.  But maybe not.  All I know for sure is: I’m out of money, I’m still too weak to work, but I have 2 more weeks in which I don’t need to worry about finding a place to sleep or how to pay the minimums on my credit cards and student loans.  This, my dear friends, is a last shot opportunity.

I hear you say:

“But haven’t all your efforts been last-ditch ones?”


Over the past year and a half, I’ve tested out several different ways to add value to the world, and put a roof over my head and money in my pocket.  I’ve gotten really damn good at the finding ways to provide myself shelter part.  And no, none of them involved shacking up.  (Shame on you!)  The money thing has been trickier.  Even commuting to do office work twice a week proved to be more exertion than my body could take.  As a result, I continually find myself scraping the bottom of my bank account.  There were times when checking my bank balances made me physically nauseous.

When I arrived in New York City in November, with a couple house sitting assignments booked, there were long gaps in the calendar where I had no idea where I would be sleeping.  I also didn’t have enough cash to cover my bare minimum expenses for the time I promised to be in the city.  So, I agreed to give God freak-out free time through the end of December.  I made a commitment to have faith in Him, and squelch any bank statement nausea at the first hints.  But come January 1st, 2017, I was giving myself permission to fully freak the fuck out.

More house sitting assignments magically popped up to fill the longer gaps in my accommodations.  The smaller gaps in between were saved by the couches of my very kind and very generous friends in the area.  You guys are the best.

I found ins talking with business owners and tried working with them to find ways to add value to their companies.  Most of them were men who turned out to only want to talk at a mildly attractive female and not actually work out any glaring snags she brought to their attention.   They completely wasted my time.  I’ve marked and underlined this fact in my mental notes.  One of them was a woman, and I was able to work well with her.  I did add value to her amazing business, but after the trial run, I didn’t bring her in enough extra revenue to justify the earnings I would need.  Bills continued rolling in, and waves of nausea continued rolling up from the bit of my pit of my stomach, but I consciously stopped them the second they started.  The flame, that fear, was instantly and habitually doused.  I learned to snap back at the inner whines with, “you think God can’t handle this? This is no big deal. He got you, relax babe.  You’re being cared for.”  And then, through logic, my faith would win, and the fear would dissolve completely away.

When 2017 came, I’d gotten so used to being at peace that I forgot to be scared.  So, I wasn’t.  But I was out of time and without any good leads on how to make money with a body that was once more completely spent.

Fuck.  So, now what?

So now, the Hail Mary pass.  Seeing the Patriots, who were so hated, and so obviously losing the Super Bowl go from zero to crushing the souls of Falcons fans everywhere gives me added hope.  Maybe even a person who’s ill-favored enough to get kicked out of Ireland (of all the friendliest places in the world) can score a moderate victory.

My current house sitting gig in Astoria got extended to right up until my next assignment in Manhattan on Valentine’s Day.  Suddenly, I had nearly a full month in which I didn’t need to frantically search for and apply to house sits.  My bare expenses were covered.  I had time.  It felt like 15 minutes of overtime was added to my clock.  How would I make the best use of it?

I could work on the novel I originally quit my engineering job to finish!  But that’s only about a third, or 150 pages in, and I’ve hit a technical snag.  In order to continue writing, I need to figure out some physics and power grid engineering details.  (The protagonist is an electrical engineer — about time for one of those, right?!)  That isn’t something I’ll have tangible results from when my OT is up.  So, it’s time to think — not bigger, but smaller.  I decided to write a short story and just put it out there as an ebook on Amazon’s Kindle.  It’s time to test and see if anyone even gives a shit about my writing.  Maybe I was wasting my time with the longer novel!  Or maybe I will find I’m onto something and be able to benefit in small, but real ways very soon.

I began writing the evening of January 27th, and the goal was to have a rough draft completed by February 14th.  I also decided that even though I was doing something short, sweet and above all quick, I would not do things half-assed.  My LLC was still alive, although comatose.  She could be woken up and used to publish my books, though.  After a lot of searching, I found a free online business checking account with good reviews that I could apply to even though I was in New York, my LLC was registered in Indiana and the place my mail goes is a third location.  That’s still in process, and I can blog more details on that later.  If you’re curious, I’m trying out the free version of Capital One Spark business checking.  This article is really helpful:

There are a lot of pieces to slide into place, but my goal is to publish and have it available for sale by the end of February — hopefully sooner.  My current game plan is to do a pre-sale for several days at $0.99 to get reviews and bump it up a day after it’s ready to read.  Unfortunately, if you have your ebook available for free for 5 days through Amazon Select to garner reviews, the reviews don’t count toward the paid rankings.  And reviews are HUGELY important.  So, if when the time comes, you can spare 99 cents, read the book, and like it, I’d be much obliged by a kind and honest review.

I assembled a team of 3 – one is an expert on the subject matter at hand.  His main job is to make sure I don’t inadvertently write something horrifyingly wrong.  The second is a man whose opinion on books and movies I hold in high regard.  He also is incapable of bullshitting or sugar-coating.  His job is to review for overall entertainment and enrichment value.  The third is my editor for spelling, grammar, word flow, conciseness — all things mechanical.  Her name is Rebecca Sutton.

When I requested Rebecca’s assistance, I learned that she does some writing, too.  I asked her if she also wanted to put out a short story just to test how it would do.  If she wrote it, I could return the editing favor and do the publishing.  After all, I had to figure out how to do all that shit for my own book anyways.  Her answer was along the lines of, “AW HELL YEAH”.  Rebecca’s story is a feelz-inducing historical romance.  When I read the short version of it, it gave me chills.  I fully expect Rebecca’s sales to CRUSH mine.

You can check out Rebecca Sutton’s site here:

I decided to share/document all the steps I’m taking in this process.  Maybe it will be inspirational, or at least educational for anyone thinking of self-publishing their own ebook for the first time.

What about my story?  What the hell is it?  Well, it’s no longer going to be a short story as I originally aimed for, for one thing.  I’m a little over half finished and already at > 13,500 words, which depending on your definition, will make it longer than a short story.  I’m aiming for “novella” length now.  As for the actual plot: it’s about a bloody, blinding, bone-dissolving, sinew-snapping plague taking over the world, and the boundless love of a father who will do anything to rescue his child.  The working title is: Scourge of Sheol.

At my disposal are all the tools and abilities I need to follow this test through to completion.  My basic needs are met temporarily.  I have crazy momentum – I’m hitting over 3,000 words a day now, a record high for me.   It looks like the reviving-my-LLC thing and getting-a-business-checking-account thing might work out — as long as no one asks my income from last year.  I’ve got a team of trusted people to make sure I don’t produce horseshit.  Plus, I have a bucket of discount, instant coffee, and 2 cats to keep me entertained with rousing games of “WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?”  See below.

Oh hai! Sneak-attack kitteh is sneaky.


Well played, Kitty.  Well played.  GAME ON!


There’s been a lot of commotion about the Rochester Photonics Center lately — from everyone who would never directly benefit from a Rochester Photonics Center.  The center is a federal government initiative in which the means of production of photonics innovations would be owned and organized by the state.

This guy would have been amused. (Public Domain: John Mayall )
This guy would have been amused. (Public Domain: John Mayall )

In case you’d like to hear an opinion from a photonics professional for a change, read on!

First, a little about my credentials and background.  I’m originally from Rochester, NY, I hold an applied physics degree with a concentration in applied optics, and I’ve worked in multiple industries centered around optics and photonics.  Back in the day, I thought it would be smart to focus on optics in my studies so that I could return to Rochester and land an awesome job.  (Also, optics is really cool.)  I say “return” because I did not study at UR or RIT – their programs were not thorough enough for what I wanted to pursue.  Instead, I packed my bags for the very frightening, crime and crack whore filled city of Flint, Michigan, which was home to Kettering University (formerly General Motors Institute) and the most rigorous applied physics program in the nation.

Upon graduation, I was days away from a likely hire at Xerox in Rochester when a hiring freeze crashed my employment hopes.  It took several nerve-racking months of searching, starving and paying student loans before I miraculously landed a dream job at Leuze electronic, Inc.  My time there would be split between Fairport, NY and Germany and it was a truly amazing opportunity in many ways.  After only a year and a half, I was hit by the Great Recession’s second wave and was laid-off.  Then came 2.5 more torturous years of searching, starving and paying student loans.  Since that time, I’ve hopped around to different temporary situations, but never worked again in Rochester.  I’m currently on a sabbatical, in which I’ve been travelling the world, but soon will be back to searching and starving — I never stopped paying those student loans.

This brings us to now, when every time I turn around, Rochesterians are asking me how excited I am about the Rochester Photonics Center.  They tell me for sure I should be able to find a job in the city I’m from now.  My friend’s father asked for my thoughts on the center, but before I had a chance to answer, he said, “a part of me, though, thinks this is just another Fast Ferry”.

BINGO, sir.

The Fast Ferry, to those who are not familiar, was a multi-million dollar sink hole back when politicians thought they should use public funds to become pioneers of industry.  The ferry ran for a short time between Toronto and Rochester and was hoped to bring tourism dollars to Rochester.  I remember learning about the ferry proposal in Mr. Pete’s Participation in Government (P.I.G.) class at Greece Olympia.  Most of us pupils were not old enough to vote during the previous election, but hearing about the heedless use of taxpayer dollars made us wish we had been.  Out of the mouths of babes, came: “Why the hell would Canadians want to come to Rochester?”  Indeed.  They didn’t.  And the Fast Ferry racked up even more expenses than was anticipated and had to be sold.

Rochester’s Fail Ferry in Action – A Literal Boatload of Wasted Taxpayer $$. (Photo Credit: Ryan Tucker, CC License
Rochester’s Fail Ferry in Action – A Literal Boatload of Wasted Taxpayer $$. (Photo Credit: Ryan Tucker, CC License

So today, instead of a ferry, we have a much more expensive $600 million photonics center in the works.  It’s thought it will “create jobs” and “spur US competitiveness”.  Let’s get something straight, here.  Governments do not champion job creation and industry competitiveness, unless the government we’re talking about is Russia.  Governments are blamed and praised too often for the directrise and fall of economic states.  Governments should be thought of more like farmers than God.  Farmers do not create.  Farmers do not squat in the earth and say, “ok now, let’s make a grape”, and pop out seeds from their earthly bodies.  Of course, farmers cultivate conditions that allow crops to grow well – soil, shade, temperature, irrigation, etc.  This is what good governments should do, as well, except those conditions are more like: lead-free water supplies, smooth roads, a trustworthy legal system, low crime rates, good schools, reasonable tax rates.

I hear some of you saying, well, why not?  Governments can harness the collective buying power of many, many citizens.  Why shouldn’t governments do more to directly grow industries?

Because they are complete shit at it.  See Fast Ferry.

And I hear some others saying, but Rochester is, “the optics capital of the world”.  I’m sorry, but, no it’s not.  I don’t say that merely because I haven’t worked here in 8 years and didn’t get my degree here.  I say that because I have a very keen grasp of photonics industries in the US as an active job seeker.  At one point, YES, Rochester was not just arguably the optics capital of the world, but also the nation’s birthplace of optical science.  At that time, Rochester was home to thriving versions of Kodak and Bausch and Lomb.  This is not coincidental, by the way, but causal.

So where is the optics capital of the world?  Well, if we’re talking groundbreaking photonics innovations directly headed by companies expecting to make a direct profit, that’s: Oculus, HoloLens, GoPro, Project Aura, secret projects at Amazon labs, industry-leading semiconductor processing, smart contact lenses, industrial laser development, 2D and 3D display technologies, and self-driving cars, then that’s the West Coast from Southern California to Seattle.  There’s also all optics things automotive centered in the Mid-West.  New England, far outside Rochester, houses established medical optics tech and fiber optic companies.

What Rochester has, in contrast, is the yet #1 optics program of study in the US – at University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics, and a handful of excellent optical component manufacturing facilities.  Sadly, though, these things are remnants of when Rochester held the optics crown, not proof she is still reigning queen.

Let’s go back to the roots of optics in Rochester to understand this situation from the opposite end – how do regions successfully become pillars of industry?  Which thing is chicken and which thing is egg?

By the mid-1800’s, Rochester was already a bustling and growing city.  Three impressive waterways helped to get it there which acted as both power/flour-milling source and vital transportation ways – Lake Ontario, the Genesee River, and of course, the Erie Canal.  After the Flour City days, there was an ever-increasing population, fertile farms to feed that population, and still the excellent transportation pathways to import raw materials and export finished goods.  This was a ground fertile for industrialization and a few wildly successful entrepreneurs knew it: George Eastman, John Jacob and Henry Lomb, a.k.a. the founders of Eastman Kodak Company and Bausch and Lomb.  Photographic cameras and mass-produced optics were some of the most high-tech wizardry you could get before the turn of the century.

A Kodak Brownie - Ultra Mega High Tech. (Photo credit: By User Ericd on en.wikipedia - I (Ericd) took this picture myself with a digital camera Olympus C-960. The picture was digitally edited (framing, color balance)., CC BY-SA 3.0,
A Kodak Brownie – Ultra Mega High Tech. (Photo credit: By User Ericd on en.wikipedia

Then what?  Well, then those companies got together and gave the University of Rochester a ginormous grant so it would create the first optics study program in the United States.  This was hardly a purely philanthropic gesture, by the way.   Kodak and B&L needed optical science and scientists to continue to grow and stay competitive.  The UofR was capable of providing those things in their backyard.  This was in reality, a private economic transaction; it was supply and demand.

Notice, the story doesn’t go, “then the politicians of the city of Rochester got together and decided to force economic and educational prosperity upon circumstance”.

After Kodak and B&L came Xerox, and all the optics component suppliers that sprung up to drink from those larger entrepreneurial successes.  Then Kodak withered, as did B&L.  Lay-offs, lay-offs, bankruptcies, lay-offs.  The Institute of Optics still remains, as do many fine component manufacturers.  However, tier 1 optics suppliers are now springing up on the West Coast to feed off the aforementioned new, true photonic innovations center of the world.  When I worked in the mid-West, I would sometimes attempt to have a Rochesterian optical manufacturer produce or finish a component I designed, but every time, although the quality may have been better, they were unable to compete with cost, timing and even customer service.  The optics suppliers that are forming in this new wave of photonics innovation, are built very differently for different customers.  They offer quick turn-around, even higher tech in-house engineering capabilities, and altogether different products – instead of basic lenses, mirrors and coatings, they specialize in display, projection, light guide and smart sensor technologies.

That explains why I think trying to force Rochester into national  photonics leader status won’t work, but it doesn’t explain why I think it’s a terrible idea.  The terrible part comes foremost from the bushels of wasted taxpayer dollars being flushed away.  $600 million is the price tag thrown around in the news, with a large chunk coming from federal tax dollars and at least $200 million coming directly from New York State tax payers.

These dollar figures are high, but the economic development initiatives totaling 4 BILLION DOLLARS  for New York State as a whole are even worse.  To most working class lackeys, these numbers all just sound really big.  So, as an aside putting this into context, I want to tell you about the suspenseful Nokia Here deal which I followed very closely last year.  Nokia was selling off its division which created really excellent maps primarily for automobile navigation systems.  This is the data a pre-installed navigation system in your car would run off – the car version of Google Maps.  It may not seem like a big deal to the consumer, but this software is pivotal for the evolution of the automotive industry.  Think the development of self-driving cars and increased integration of all things Internets (the “IoT”).  Nokia was selling this software as a product to car manufacturers but wanted to get rid of the company.  Uber was very interested, but if Uber bought it, there’s no way they would allow car manufacturers to continue leasing the software.  This made the Big 3 of German auto manufacturers – Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen – freak out and band together to try to buy it. The course and rate of progress of the entire automotive industry hung in the balance.  If Uber bought the software and if Google and Apple and Tesla became very successful with their innovations, traditional manufacturers might be completely obsoleted in the future.  The fates of those German car companies were on the line.  Together, across those 3 hugely successful, high-valued companies, the Germans came up with2 billion dollars to save their future.  Then it looked like Uber would offer $3 billion.  Then the German companies laughed and said they’d rather let their children starve than pay more than $3 billion for the imperative technology.  Then Uber backed out and the Germans coughed up $3 billion.  Note, that’s an average $1 billion per hugely successful manufacturer.  AND THEN YOU HAVE NEW YORK STATE, which sneezes and out falls 4 BILLION DOLLARS.  BMW was like, “oh we’ve had a good run, if it takes more than $1 billion let’s let it burn to the ground, cuz it’s not worth it”, and NYS tosses FOUR billion haphazardly at “economic stuff and things”.  For more information on this bigger problem, see WHEC’s mini-investigation here:

So back to the Rochester Photonics Center – it’s a lot of money.  Ok, got it.  What else?  Well, it also is on the periphery of federal and state probes regarding potential financial impropriety in all these economic initiatives.  Awesome!  I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen when George Eastman threw money directly at UR to buy some optical engineers.  Then there’s the public pissing contest about where the center should be located.  Again, I’m pretty sure Bausch and Lomb didn’t arm wrestle with UR over locations when the Institute of Optics was being built because they were busy building telescopes.

The worst part of all has got to be the fact that most of the key players in this initiative do not have a direct benefit to gain unless something improper is happening.  I’m not suggesting there necessarily is anything improper going on with all the parties, only that it makes no economic sense and thus is proof of wasted funds.  What does Paychex need with advanced manufacturing methods for OLEDs?  How many more gallons of milk per year will Wegmans sell if Rochester creates a spiffy semiconductor clean room?

I mean, just take a look at the guys at the AIM Photonics Hub inaugural meeting on the website:   Do they look like highly capable, technology and science visionaries to you?  But, really now, really.

Tom Battley, the executive director of New York Photonics, was quoted by the D&C as saying, “this is as important to Rochester as when George Eastman donated $30 million to the University of Rochester“.  Mr. Battley, I wish that were true, but I really don’t think this is like that time at all.

Would You Like $12,000 to Drink Craft Beer All Summer? Be a World of Beer Drink It Intern!

Getting paid to travel around drinking delicious beers and telling the world about it?!  Well, I sure as hell wouldn’t mind that gig.  In fact, that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing with my life lately — in between testing new entrepreneurial ideas, that is.

In the past 6 months, I’ve drank in Ireland, Germany, and a whole shitload of Asian countries: Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore (Thank You God for the beer in Singapore), Indonesia and Russia.  All the beer I tried in Asia (aside from Singapore) really made me miss American craft brews and old-style Euro-brews.  I would crack open a can of something, take a sip, and then look back at the cold metal with bitter sadness.  “Oh grains, you could have been so much more.  What did they do to you?”  At least I enjoy novelty to the point I could find delight in trying the new things even when they tasted like disappointment.  Plus, all the bad beers enhanced my appreciation of the good stuff in the West.  Beer and internet speeds: I never truly knew how good I had it.

Then there is the food.  A delicious craft beer is lonely without some truffle fries with aioli or a perfectly grilled meat which was lovingly massaged by off-grid hippies every day of its living life.  When I finally got to Singapore after months of travel, I was craving a well-made burger and craft beer so hard that I blew my food budget for the week on those items.  It was one of the most sensible decisions I ever made.  Upwards of $50 to once again taste a hoppy, in-your-face Bridge Road Bling IPA from Australia, and a thick, juicy, flame-licked burger smothered in cheese, onions and mushrooms.  Magic.

Thank you Singapore, and thank you Bridge Road for your BLING IPA
Thank you Singapore, and thank you Bridge Road for your BLING IPA

Of course, just as with drinks, I enjoy the novelty of new foods even when it tastes strange in bad ways.  I brought you along in all those food discoveries as I tried lamb shanks in Ireland to pair with my Irish red, and chocolate banana roti in Indonesia to compliment a refreshing can of Bintang Radler.  These were the things that tasted fantastic.  You were also there for raw horse meat, fried octopus tentacle balls, and chicken heart.  These were in the more-totally-fucking-strange-than-savory category, but I think you enjoyed the novelty, too.

Ok, so you might still do some stupid shit -- like eating raw horse meat.  BUT DID I DIE?
Mmmmmm, raw horse meat.  Our favorite!

Onto the part where you can get paid to do all of the above:

World of Beer is selecting 3 “Drink It Interns” to travel for 3 months this spring/summer, learning about beer, drinking beer, and telling the world all about it. They’re looking for beer lovers who can learn, travel, drink and social media proficiently. Yes, social media can be a verb; it just makes sense. It probably helps if you’re comfortable roaming the planet alone and striking up conversations with strangers in places where beer lives. I so got this.

If you want to apply, too, hurry!  Application deadline is March 26th, 2016.  That’s my birthday, by the way.  So, you could just not apply as your present to me to help my chances.  That would be great!

Here’s my application:

And here’s where you can apply on the WOB site if you plan on getting me something else for my birthday:

Good luck!

FREE Mini Course Giveaway – “6 Months To Sabbatical” Pre-Planning Exercises

Is it time to break free of your corporate job and remember what it’s like to feel alive again?  Is it time for an adventure?  Do you want to see the world instead of the inside of a cubicle every weekday?  Do you want to wake up every day when you decide and have control over what you choose to do every minute?

If you’ve decided it’s time for a sabbatical that let’s you see the world, I’m offering FREE for a limited time, a mini “6 Months to Sabbatical” lesson to take you through an important pre-planning process.  This will help you clarify your sabbatical objectives and desires while you still have the perspective of a beleaguered office lackey.  Before you learn the special tricks on how to stay in beautiful homes for free around the world, how to book the lowest airfares, and how to rent a car for as little as $65 total for 4 weeks in Europe, come the steps I take you through here.  They will give you 2 things to minimize regret later on:

  1. They will help you next decide what activities, living arrangements and countries to visit will make you happiest.
  2. They will remind you later of what you are willing to give up and tolerate when you have a rough day or two during your travelling sabbatical and lose your perspective.

Put what you figure out during this lesson in writing, and remember to take the quiz at the end.  Now, let’s begin to build the framework of your perfect dream sabbatical together!  Register for your FREE mini lesson HERE:

Or, if you want to register for the Full Version of the 6 Months to Sabbatical Workshop, before time runs out at the deadline, February 23rd, at midnight Eastern Time, go to:


#1 Question I’m Asked: What Do You Do For Money?

Aside from, “you’re insane”, the next most frequent question I’m asked is, “what do you do for money?!”  Oh wait, “you’re insane” isn’t a question.  In that case, let me answer that #1 burning query.

I quit my professional job 5 months ago, and have been traveling the world since then.  It’s been a fantastical ride and one that showed me life can be bigger and more exciting than I ever imagined!  How do I financially sustain this new lifestyle, though?  Well, here’s a secret fact about yours truly:

I plan the SHIT out of EVERYTHING.

I plan, I scour, I create Excel spreadsheets, I research the webs and interview other people “in the know”.  It doesn’t matter if it’s putting myself through private university on my own as a teenager with no one to help or co-sign loans, or buying a fucking down pillow.  I will research the shit out of it and figure out the best ways and all the secret ins and outs.  I actually kind of enjoy following a rabbit hole of information to find hidden knowledge.  As a result, I spend an inordinate amount of time searching out the all the tricks I need to put together to create the ultimate plan.

My penchant for information digging is aided by a very diverse set of friends.  I have friends of all ages, incomes, stages of life, and stages of craziness.  As I’ve traveled, I’ve picked up an even more diverse set of contacts.  There are a lot more people in my “vagabond traveler” tool kit (tool kit, not toolbox) who have given me priceless gems.  These in-the-know people shared with me more ways to travel on the cheap or even free and rescued my sabbatical plans on more than one occasion!

Ok, but where does the money come from that you’re spending?

Let me ask you a question — what are you hoping I’ll say?  Are you looking for a solution for yourself or an excuse as to why you’re in a different situation and could never do what I’m doing?  Are you hoping I’ll tell you that like the Eat, Pray, Love author, Elizabeth Gilbert, I have a writing gig on the side that sends me a steady flow of Benjamins?  Nope, sorry.  I’ve had not a single paying gig since leaving my engineering job.  Are you hoping I’ll say my parents are loaded and they’re sending me money?  Hahahaha… Nothing could be farther from the truth in that assumption.  Nope, I’m totally on my own in this.

I have some of my own, hard-earned money sitting in the bank.  I withdraw it as slowly as possible.  That’s the short answer.

The long answer is I:

  1. Set up a way to save money painlessly many months before I took the leap.
  2. Sold everything I owned that people would buy and have very little to come back to.  (It actually is a very freeing feeling, as other people who did this will tell you.)  I sold much of my stuff for less than it was worth because of the short time frame, but still managed to re-coup around $1,000.  (Thanks again to everyone who bought stuff or shared my sales notices – especially to the newly made snow bunny.)
  3. Researched the best credit cards to apply to right before I made the leap, back when I still had great credit and income.  The credit cards were specifically selected for their no-foreign transaction fee, 0% introductory interest, and foreign car rental insurance coverage perks.
  4. Worked my final few weeks while housesitting and staying with friends, thereby saving $1,450 in rent.  Thanks again, ladies!
  5. Came up with a fun game on the road where my friends gave me ridiculous amounts of money as gifts.  See here.  I kept receiving gifts even after the game ended and in all, received over $1,000 worth of INSANELY generous generosity.  Thank you again, everyone!
  6. Found the best ways to book airfare on the cheap.  The best websites, times of day to book and how to fly all go into finding the cheapest flights possible.  For example, I recently paid $127 less on a flight from NYC to India than an Indian who is an expert in finding cheap fares for this exact route did — for the same time frame.
  7. Found ways to stay all over the world very inexpensively, and often even completely free!  There are surprisingly a TON of ways to do this and I now have a bunch of unusual methods and websites I can go to when forming a plan for the next stage of my journey.

    One Of the Gorgeous, Dream Places I've Stayed For FREE
    The View From One Of the Gorgeous, Dream Places I’ve Stayed For FREE
  8. Go to places where the US dollar is stupid strong.  When I’m not having to pay in British Pounds or Euros, or Singapore Dollars or Japanese Yen, then my housing and dining options are a bit wider.  Right now, for example, I’m in Bali and could be paying $2,000 per night at a fancy tourist resort down the road, but I’m staying in a nice hotel room all to myself with a big bed, A/C and a pool for $13/day.  This is the very high-end of accommodations pricing that I’ve paid in my travels, by the way.  I’m splurging because I needed some quiet, downtime to work on my 6 Months to Sabbatical Workshop.  Same with food.  I can easily get by on $3/day getting stuffed with food here in Indonesia by visiting street vendors instead of restaurants aimed at tourists.  If you go where locals go, you can eat and live like a king for a mind-boggling  small percentage of what your typical tourist pays.
This NOM-ful street snack cost $0.89 in USD.
This NOM-ful street snack cost $0.89 in USD.

… plus even more things I don’t have the time to mention here.

If you’re looking for solutions to escape your professional job and travel the world instead of excuses why you don’t, check out the “6 Months to Sabbatical Workshop” I’m creating, HERE.  I’m building out a complete plan for you, taking advantage of all the hours of research and connections I’ve made with other travel experts out here where the action is.  You can create a practical escape plan from well before you make the leap, and I can work with you to make it happen.  Hurry, the course starts February 25th, 2016, and registration ends February 23rd, 2016 at midnight, Eastern Time.  I don’t know if this course will ever be offered again, so if you’re interested, go to this site for more information on the course and to register:

Hope to see you out here soon and hear from you even sooner!

5 Reasons Why Your 30’s Are the Best Time to Travel the World

We’ve all fantasized about jetting to far off places, tasting new foods, seeing new sights, lying on exotic beaches “someday”, but when should “someday” be?

Escape to Paradise: Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
This is a real place.  No, really.  And you can go there! Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

If you aren’t blessed by small children or a significant other who is afraid to fly, your 30’s are the best time in your life to travel.  Here are the top 5 reasons why.

1. Youth – You’re young enough so that your body isn’t falling apart as much as it might in your golden years.  Why wait until you’re dealing with arthritis and high blood pressure before you strap on a backpack and finally attempt hiking the Andes like you always dreamed?  There are so many more things you can easily do when you still have your health!  Why waste your current capacity to survive food poisoning and wild tuk tuk rides?

2. Wisdom – You’re old enough not to do stupid shit.  Your teenage years and 20’s were all about finding out where your limits were – whether it was how long you could go without sleep and not crack, or the types of people you need to avoid at parties to make it home in one piece.  You usually found those limits by going beyond them and destroying yourself.  Now that your 20’s clearly defined how far your mind and body can bend before they break, your 30’s can be the time when you push yourself to just below that fine line.  It’s one more way you’re fully optimized for doing awesome things in your 30’s.  You’re less susceptible to peer pressure, too, at this time… so that’s a thing.  “No, really, I know myself — I’m good with just the 3 shots of tequila off your hard beach body.”

Ok, so there was that one time I ate Horse Meat. BUT DID I DIE?

3. Money – You’re well along enough in your career that you probably don’t have to save up for as long as when you were a young one before making the leap.  Plus, you can financially rebound easier if you want to rejoin the workforce when you’re done traveling as compared with your more senior years.  Just recently, a lot of great, new companies popped up to help with refinancing things in a way where you don’t get screwed, too.  These options didn’t exist when you were graduating college, and you probably weren’t making enough salary then to qualify.  If you need to refinance your student loans, I can refer you HERE to 2 great companies that saved me $1,000’s in interest.

4. Experience –  You’re a seasoned pro by now in your career with examples of shit you did under your belt.  It’s safer to leave the workforce and come back during your 30’s than it was during your early 20’s.  If you get laid-off in your 20’s (I did, twice), it’s hard as hell with less than 5 years of experience to climb out of that hole!  By your 30’s, you likely have a solid foundation and your degree, and the story about those widgets you expertly 6-sigma’d aren’t going away, either.  Yeah, there may be some companies in the future that frown upon you taking time out for re-energizing, self-improvement, learning, and experimenting… but are those really the companies you want to work for?

5. Potential — Travel can benefit you in your career later if you do it now.  If you do it at the end of your career, you only get jollies out of it.  By taking a sabbatical in your 30’s, you re-energize your mind and motivation with fresh perspectives, rediscovered curiosity and new ideas on commerce and products.  It’s impossible not to come back to your previous duties without seeing them all in a new light!  Interacting with the contrast of other cultures allows you to see and understand your own culture better.  This, in turn, allows for the possibility of expanded creativity. You can study large systems – entire cities or countries – from the outside and draw insights on what makes them work (Singapore) or not work (the Philippines).  You can learn how to haggle in Thailand.  You can better understand how to work with your future employer’s suppliers when you learn firsthand about the cultures in China, in Germany, in Mexico… Simply seeing everyday things from new angles and done in new ways sparks your potential for innovation.  In so many ways, travel can supercharge your career potential.  Why not increase that potential mid-career, when you’re most likely to benefit from it for many years to come?

Here’s how this tricycle negotiation went: Me – “How much?” Him – “250 pesos!” Me: “HAHAHA! I’ll give you 20.” Him: “Get in.”


If you agree and now is the time for you to take a break in your career and see the world, I can help.  For a limited time, my 6 Months to Sabbatical Workshop is available for registration where I can work with you to form your escape plan.  I know it can work for you, because it worked for me!  With some meager savings and student loans I still pay every month, I managed to quit my job and embark on the adventure of a lifetime.  I know how to save painlessly before quitting, travel for $1,000’s less than typical vacationers do, and even how to stay for free in beautiful accommodations around the world.  You know what else?  I have never been happier.  CLICK HERE to find out more and register for the workshop!  Hurry, early-bird pricing ends February 17th, 2016 and registration closes for good February 23rd, 2016.


Come join me out here!

Video: The Philippines with Erin and Where Next!

The video below is taken from my 2 weeks in the Philippines moving around from Manila to Bohol.  Included is footage of pimped-out jeepneys, motorized tricycles, a flirty motorbike driver, Bohol Coco Farm and Alona Beach.

Plus, you can watch to find out where I am now!  Here’s a hint — it took about 1/3,000,000th of the time to process and upload the video here vs. in the Philippines, and I was able to make it HD instead of “worst quality option available”.

Now, it’s back to non-stop work on my course to teach people how to quit their professional jobs for a long-term, travelling sabbatical!



Japan with Erin, Teaching Asians to Say “Parallelogram” and Where Next!

Hi there from…..?  I’ve moved on from Japan and you can find out where I am now in the video below!  Plus, you can check out a really shitty summary of my 2 awesome weeks in Tokyo and Kyoto.

Unfortunately, I uploaded this from a country whose internet tubes rank among the slowest in Asia, so the quality is horseshit-tastic.  Sorry.

I also didn’t have video footage of soooo many things I saw and did including dawn at Tsukiji Fish Market,

Tsukiji Fish Market at Dawn, for the Most Devout Sushi Lovers
Tsukiji Fish Market at Dawn, for the Most Devout Sushi Lovers

for breakfast sushi…

Breakfast Sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market
Breakfast Sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market

…beautiful, modern buildings…


…the “Tori no Iru” bird cafe in Asakusa…

Tori no Iru Bird Cafe, Asakusa, Japan

…the Senso-ji Hondo…

Hondo at Sensoji in Asakusa, Japan
Hondo at Sensoji in Asakusa, Japan

…and one of the many, many cheap and delicious pieces of Toro I indulged in while in Japan

Mind-Blowly Melty Toro Sushi in Tokyo
Mind-Blowingly Melty Toro Sushi in Taito, Tokyo

Of course, the most important thing of all was captured and included in the video.  NOT TO WORRY.  Without further ado, I bring you Teaching Asians to Say Parallelogram and other beautiful footage from Japan:

And as mentioned in the video, for referrals to the best companies I’ve tried and tested myself for student loan refinancing, CLICK HERE!

Top 3 Things to Do TODAY to Quit Your Job and Travel the World

5 months ago, I was trapped by a lengthy commute to work, the grey walls of a prison cell, errr, cubicle, and the typical degradations that come with a corporate gig.  My insides would try to claw their way out when I used all my willpower to remain seated in my ergonomic office chair.  On countless random weekdays, I had half a mind to get up from my seat at 3 p.m., pulling an Office Space and just walk the hell out.  I would fly to a tropical beach, order a Mai Tai and work on creative things that inspired me!

A Tropical Beach and a Mai Tai a Lot Like These
A Tropical Beach and a Mai Tai a Lot Like These

But I didn’t.  Why not?  Well, the corporate world is a gnarly beast to free yourself from.  If I just walked out randomly, I’d likely be crawling back begging for a job again very soon because there are chains that come with corporate life.  It requires a hefty financial commitment just to do the work.  You need to commit with a second set of corporate clothes, money for transportation, typically at least 10 hours of your weekdays and an expensive lifestyle that accommodates for your lack of free time.  A corporate job then becomes a self-reinforcing cycle, but there are things you can do today, right now to put you on the path to GTFO.

I’m writing to you today from Japan.  2 weeks ago, I was in Taiwan picking up delicious scallion pancakes for breakfast from a small alley shop.  One month ago, I was spending Christmas on Patong Beach, Thailand having cocktails with a bunch of Swedes.  6 weeks ago, I was crewing a sailboat from Malaysia to Thailand.  2 months ago, I laughed so hard I wet my pants in Ireland listening to stories with new friends over dinner and drinks.  4 months ago, after a bit of preparation, I pulled an Office Space.  That is, I left work after putting in a couple weeks’ notice and long after doing these next steps.  These are things you can do Right Now and they make sense to do even if you don’t eventually knock down your cubicle walls.

Escape to Paradise: Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Escape to Paradise: Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

1. AUTOMATE YOUR SAVINGS — If you’re not going to have a steady income, you’re obviously going to draw from your savings for a while lounging on that Thai beach.  Time to fatten up your account!

If your employer offers direct deposit to multiple accounts as a payment method, this can be a ridiculously easy step.  As I slowly realized that quitting my job and not having another one to jump to was a definite possibility, I bumped up the amount that went to my savings account.  I think I started with $50 from each paycheck, then $100, then $200.

Automatically allocate as much as you can to a savings account and try not to touch it unless you have an emergency.  By having your savings separated without you thinking about it, it’s easier to forget about.  Consequently, you’ll more easily live within the means of a new budget: your slightly smaller checking account.  Meanwhile, your savings account grows and you barely notice the pinch!  It really works.

Why it’s smart even if you don’t quit your job: in this volatile world, it’s just smart in general to have padded savings.  Do you have enough cash to cover at least 6-months worth of living expenses?  Lay-offs happen.  Illnesses happen.  Shit luck happens.  There are no guarantees other than at one point or another, it’s going to be good to have more in savings than you could foresee needing.  CYA!

2.  GET A FRESH PASSPORT — Getting a passport takes a while, and you’re not going to want to wait around for it when you’re ready to make the leap.  Apply for it today!

Even if you have one now, when you travel, you often need your passport to be valid for 6 months from when you arrive in a country, or even several months after you intend to leave.  Luckily, you can renew your passport now, even if it hasn’t expired.  Go to this U.S. Department of State link for more info:

Why it’s smart even if you don’t quit your job: you can still be spontaneous even if you work full time!   If you don’t have a passport, though, your spontaneity is drastically limited.  Plus, there are new U.S. rules about ID’s coming out that will make life in general more of a pain if you only have a driver’s license from certain states as ID.  You can see a current list from the Department of Homeland Security about which states’ ID’s are cool with Big Brother here:

3.  REDUCE YOUR DEBT — Debt, specifically student loan debt, was the biggest burden holding me back from quitting my job and traveling the world sooner.  There are 2 easy ways you can start hacking away at the binding ties of debt.

For typical credit debt, say a credit card you carry a balance on, it’s best to automate the payments.  It works just like the method for fattening up your savings – you have as big of a chunk as you can manage pulled from your available cash without your involvement.  Then, when you look at how many dollars you have in your checking account, your mind will automatically work within the new budget.  Bump up those payments as much as you can tolerate!  You want to be 100%, completely free of credit card debt if you quit your job.

For student loan debt, there are some fantastic, new refinancing options out there!  If you just want to pay down your debt faster and don’t plan on quitting your job, you may be eligible to dramatically reduce your interest rate.  6 months before I quit my job, I refinanced with the goal of paying off my student loans as soon as possible.  I chose terms that were as fast as I could manage.  That means, I chose terms with the highest monthly payments I could afford.  Typically, the shorter the payback term, e.g., paying back in 5 years versus 15 years, the less you pay per month in interest.

Later, when I realized I would not be jumping to a new,  better-paying job, I went the opposite way with my student loans.  Knowing I would likely not have an income soon, I refinanced with the longest terms possible.  This pushed my final payment way out to 20 years in the future, and raised my interest rate slightly, but I was paying over $200/month less, and that means I could stretch my savings out a whole lot farther.  Plus, I was STILL paying less in interest than if I had stayed with Sallie Mae/Navient.  Refinancing to get away from those companies was a no-brainer.

Check out the rough estimate chart below for examples on what you could save per year.  If you reduce your interest rate by 1%, 1.5%, 2.0%, etc., in the column on the left, you can follow the row over to the right to see about how much you would save per year on a loan of $10,000, $15,000 or $25,000, etc.

Annual Savings Estimate from Student Loan Refinancing

Annual Savings Estimate from Student Loan Refinancing

I’ve tested out 2 companies myself and had great results.  If you use THIS LINK to refinance with SOFI, it counts as a referral from me.  I get a finder’s fee and you get $100!  DRB is another great company where you may be able to get slightly better terms and rates, and you can get referred by me by sending me your info here.

You do need excellent credit to qualify for both of these refinancing options, so do it now, while you still have a job!  Check out both companies and see which gives you the better offer.

Why it’s smart even if you don’t quit your job: paying interest is like flushing your money down the crapper!  Why pay more than you have to?  The faster you pay off your debt, and the lower the interest you are charged, the more cash that stays in your pocket.  That just plain makes sense — no matter what your situation!

It takes a lot of planning to successfully pull off the type of sabbatical many of us dream of, but these 3 things are huge yet simple steps to take to make it possible.  Plus they just make sense in general!  Do them early.  Do them now!

Hi, From Freedom! Come Join Me!
Hi, From Freedom! Come Join Me!

If you have more questions about taking a much-needed sabbatical, money management, or anything else, please let me know in the comments below.