Day 614 OUT OF Beijing: Why We Walk, Part 8.

Take a book/Leave a book.  A wonderful little free library.

Take a book/Leave a book. A wonderful little free library.


Jill and I took a side road, after passing the off-leash dog and human park, and noticed this interesting bookshelf near an intersection.

As we walked closer we noticed the sign on top, “Free Library”.

We kept getting closer and then saw the “Take a book/Leave a book” sign underneath it.

We love walking around, seeing little surprises like this, that would bring together a community, and how people are always thinking up something new and surprising.

It is part of what we want our new website, to be unveiled soon, to help others do.

We want people to be inspire, and then inspire others, to be more, do more, and live more.

We’ve seen how wonderful it is to travel, experience new cultures and people, and hope to help others do the same.

This may not mean giving up your job and becoming minimalists like we have, but it may allow you to change something that you’ve always wanted to change, or visit somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit, or think about yourself in a new way that allows you more peace and contentment.

I’ve been working on an ebook to help people change their attitude, and life, at this very moment and it is almost ready.

My mom, who is an excellent writer and editor, has been helping me figure out exactly what I want to have come across in the most clear, simple and most useful format possible.

It is a combination of all my years of being a cognitive behavioral therapist, my dabbling in Buddhism and use of acceptance and gratitude, and my sense of humor and joy of living a life that is truly wonderful.

It is exciting to think that I’ll be putting this out into the world and what the reactions might be from the people that read it.

It is also a little bit scary.

I’m hoping that most people will like my book, and give me good reviews while also suggesting other points that they would like clarity or more support on. If so, I can then write more sequels or even do personal online training with them to help them achieve their goals more quickly.  It is an exciting new part of our lives!

However, I’m sure there will be people that will give me negative reviews and it will be hurtful.  However, if this happens, I will be able to use the tools that I’ve taught so many others to help me figure out how to adapt, learn and not let that become a set back to a new adventure and way of life that Jill and I want to achieve.

When we actually arrived at the little free library, we noticed the basket for free hollyhock seeds nailed to the side of it.  The little bit of randomness made us smile and laugh.

Maybe someday, if enough people buy my book, it will end up on a little free library like this and reach many more people than I can even imagine.

That is why we walk.

Not just books but hollyhock seeds are available.

Not just books but hollyhock seeds are available.

Day 608 OUT OF Beijing: Why We Walk, Part 2.


The view of Petaluma on one of our walks.

The view of Petaluma on one of our walks.


Jill and I kept talking to Mitch and discussing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It seems, and this may just be confirmation bias but Jill and I both think that more and more people are trying to figure out how to do more with less.

I’ve been getting a lot of friends asking me how to minimize their possessions to maximize their life.

I’ve helped them figure out how to live on less, travel with less, take up less space in the world, and figure out how to own things instead of having things own them.

Last night, in fact, Jill and I spent an hour going through each of our check in bags and discarded about half of what we had in them.

We doubt we can get down to one check and two carry ons between us each check in will be very light since they are both only about half full.

Once we figure out where we are going to settle, in about a year, we will be able to unload more of it since I’ll know if I need my cycling gear.

Cycling gear?  Yep, I have my cycling spandex and cycling shoes (with clip-less pedals) that I’m dragging around everywhere.

This takes up about 1/4 of my bag and seems like a waste.

However, it will allow me to get around easily, when we settle down, and the cost of carrying it is much less than having to purchase it again.

This is a cost benefit analysis that I’ve done and the benefits far outweigh the costs.

My friend, Christopher Rubin, is also going to open a bike store in the next few months.

I want to help him and we plan to ride our bikes to work together and that means I’ll be needing these clothes sooner rather than later.  It is also a free way to get healthy and lose weight which I want to do also.

Mitch seems to want to have a simpler life and we all talked about how that could happen, for both him and us, and what we are doing to accomplish that goal.

This doesn’t just mean minimizing but doing what you want, when you want and knowing that you could die, at any moment, and how do you want to live until that happens.

For Jill and me, it is traveling, seeing friends and family, and exploring the world.

We’ve both simplified our lives enough that we can make this happen.

We can help you do the same if you want.

When we walk, we talk about how to accomplish this and share our knowledge.

That is why we walk.





Day 560 OUT OF Beijing: Back in San Francisco!


The rainbow crosswalk in the Castro District.

The rainbow crosswalk in the Castro District.


Jill and I were supposed to fly into San Francisco on December 15th.

However, our flight was diverted to Oakland because of the storms and we weren’t able to land back in our “home” town.  We had some turbulence on the way down and yet the overall flight was fine.

This was actually a fitting end to our travels in, and out of, China as it has been an incredibly bumpy ride for the last 1.5 years.

Some of the high points:

Jill and I are engaged.   Hell, we met only 8 days before I moved to China so the fact that we even made it there is amazing enough.  But engaged?  Truly incredible.

I was able to help a lot of people in need of therapy and coaching.  I worked on some of the most high profile cases in Beijing.  If you look at the news of what happened, with expatriates living in China during the past 1.5 years, there is a decent chance I worked on the disaster and tragedies as a psychotherapist and a trauma specialist.

I worked with the most amazing co-workers and staff.  I was able, at any moment, to get support, knowledge, and whatever my clients, or I, needed to make sure the client had the best care possible.  The knowledge level at my company is amazing and the professionalism is beyond compare.  I’m honored to have spent 1.5 years with them and could not have wished for a better group of people to work for and with.

We made an amazing amount of friends and connections.  People inspired us to dream bigger and not settle for the norm.  It takes a special kind of person to survive, and thrive, in Beijing and our friends do that.

We were able to save a nice little nest egg for our future plans to travel around the USA and build our business at San Francisco Tourism Tips over the next year or so.  We are also going to be building a new website to help people live their dreams and take the road less traveled.

We were able to visit parts of China including Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai, Tianjin and see places out of history like The Great Wall, The Forbidden City, and The Terracotta Warriors.  These and many others will live on in our pictures, this blog, and our memories for the rest of our lives.

We also were able to visit Singapore, Malaysia, Mongolia, Turkey, and Greece.  Not a bad way to spend a year and a half.

Some of the bad points:

RAB (Richard Arden Bermudes) passed away while we were gone and we were not able to say goodbye in person. This will haunt me.

Jill’s grandmother passed away while we were gone and she wasn’t able to be there for the funeral and memorial.  She seems to be doing fine with it and was able to say her goodbyes before we left but I’m sure this still is upsetting to some degree.

As mentioned above, I worked on a lot of the major disasters that happened in Beijing during my stay.  This was incredibly positive because I could help a lot of people but it was also difficult because I saw so much grief and death in my 1.5 years.  From what I’ve been told, the 1.5 years I worked at my company saw as much emergency situations as anyone can remember.  And I always volunteered to help because I enjoyed doing it but it did wear me down.  However, I don’t regret one second of it.  I know I helped save peoples’ lives and helped them find a way out of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, psychosis and other very painful places.

Jill had a breast cancer scare and needed to get a biopsy.  This can be scary enough, living in the USA, but living in a foreign country makes it 10x worse. Everything turned out fine but it was still not an enjoyable experience.

Jill fell and hit her head and had a huge bruise for quite a while.  The amazing thing about Jill is that almost nothing gets her down.  She was able to laugh about what happened and let me write a few blogs and post pictures.  She is truly amazing.

This is just a short list of things that happened and I’m going to be writing a travelogue about them and others in the next year.

Jill and I sort of forgot all of these events as we drove into San Francisco with our dear friend, Alethea Bermudes and saw the Golden Gate Bridge rise out of the fog and clouds.

The Grateful Dead once sang, “What a long strange trip its been” and they were partially right because our long strange AND AMAZING trip has just begun.   It is past, present and future tense.

We both hope you continue along with us as we travel around the USA and then off to some foreign country to see what the future brings us next.


Day 556 OUT OF Beijing: Bye Bye Beijing.


Jill, the cake, and me.

Jill and I are ready to have some Bye Bye Beijing cake!


Jill and I are somewhere over the Pacific Ocean right now.

We are flying home and hopefully we are peacefully asleep as you all read this.

We are out of Beijing and on to our continued adventures as mobile vagabonds.

In the last 1.5 years we have had so many amazing experiences, made so many friends, and seen so much that this blog barely touches the surface our our time abroad.

I will be, in the future, writing a book about it and going very deeply into what it is like to live in China, be a therapist here, and how it has affected both Jill and me.

However, at this moment, I just want to thank all my amazing friends who Jill and I have met here in Beijing and in China.

This also includes our friends we’ve met on our travels to Malaysia, Singapore, Mongolia, Greece and Turkey during the past 1.5 year here.

We decided we’d have a little Bye Bye Beijing party and it was fantastic.  We had it at The Local and it was a perfect way to say goodbye and start to move on.

Being an expat can be difficult because people are constantly moving and appearing or disappearing from your life. We know this is part of the joy and the sadness.  I had to say goodbye to a lot of clients also and that is a tough part of being a therapist.  You help people through their most difficult times in life, see them change, and then have to say goodbye.  It is both a joyful experience and a loss.  Maybe that is why I’m okay with being an expat and seeing so many people come and go.  I can accept that they will leave, I enjoy the time I have with them, and then I know that something else will appear and I’ll learn more or see a new way of thinking.

I also hope that these friends, and the many others we’ve made, will come visit us wherever we are and keep in contact.

As for plans, we expect to be in San Francisco Bay Area for the next 3 months.  Jill has an amazing website, San Francisco Tourism Tips, and we need to be there to support it and our livelihood.  If you haven’t see her site, please click the link above and subscribe or like it on Facebook.  Also share it with anyone you know that might be interested.  It is made for travelers and locals and Jill has done an amazing job.  I’m absolutely amazed at how hard she works and how professional she is regarding this business.

During our stay in San Francisco, we will see my sister Stacy’s family, and my dad, in Walnut Creek.  During this time, we will visit my brother Dave’s family in Portland.  After that, we will head down to Los Angeles to see friends and family for about a month.  During that month, we will make a quick jump down to Cancun to see Jill’s sister Julie and her family.  Then over to Santa Fe, NM to see my mom Judy and her husband, Phil.  Lastly, we will hit Nebraska to see Jill’s parents, Emma and Bill.

After that?

We are thinking we will live in Costa Rica or possibly Colombia.  We have a lot of options and it could even include moving to Turkey or Greece.

It is a hard life but somebody has to live it.  🙂

We are also building a new website that will be unveiled in the next month or two.  It will focus on helping others live their dream life, figuring out what that exactly is, how to plan it, deal with problems that come up, and then inspire others to do the same.  Keep your eyes open for it because it is a life dream for us to help others make their dreams become reality.  This includes you, our dear readers!

Thank you for being a part of this journey as we’ve reached 556 days in Beijing.  I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have.

We look forward to seeing everyone back at home, or wherever you are, and continuing to write the story of our lives as it moves ahead.

Enjoy our final post from Beijing and pictures of the party.


Day 530 In Beijing: Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Cappadocia, Fairy Chimneys.


Fairy Chimneys.

Fairy Chimneys.


After watching the sunrise, the balloon went straight up, as high as they could take us.

It was fantastic to look out from our gondola and just see the land below us.

After descending, Captain Mike took us into one of the one of valleys that was full of Fairy Chimneys.

Again, we were overcome with the amazing beauty of nature.

The Fairy Chimneys were massive and there was a silence in the morning, that was only really broken by the fire from the hot air balloon being heated and a few of us talking, in hushed tones, about the wonders we were experiencing.

I wonder, now, what kind of thrill, if any, Captain Mike, has as he guides the balloon through the valleys and across the plains?  I have a feeling, from watching him as he looked out, he still loves it deeply.  He also has a great sense of humor and was able to show his joy by his comments and by pointing out things we might have missed because we were trying to see so much at once.

I can’t imagine how amazing it must be, day after day, to be able to take people up in balloons, see this amazing landscape, and share that with people that see it for the first time.

It has me now interested in learning how to fly a balloon, or a plane, for the first time in my life.

My mom, by the way, just started shaking her head, “No” and telling her husband, “Phillip,  why does my son do this to me?”



Day 529 In Beijing: Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Cappadocia, Sunrise.


Peace and beauty.

Peace and beauty.


Jill, our whole crew, and I were anxiously waiting to see the sunrise.

We were not disappointed.

It seems to take a very long time to break through and each second was precious.

As the light shifted, we kept being amazed, and stunned, by the colors that would appear in the sky.

You could actually see the sun’s rays changing and cutting through the haze as it broke over the horizon.

There as a beautiful silence, and awe, that everyone in the balloon seemed to experience together and it was great being able to appreciate this sight with them.

There is something about traveling, and this seems to happen more when we are traveling, where you are in a group, and you all experience an amazing event together, that makes it more powerful.

Even if no one speaks or talks about it, it seems to have a hold over everyone and the honor of being there, with other people, to experience this kind of magical event, even if it happens every day, is “once in a life time” for that certain group, and for me.

It is just another reason I love to travel and see the world.

I want to see what I can see, and experience as much as I can, before I leave this mortal coil.

I’m 45 and who knows how long I’ll have now.

I have often asked my clients, “If you were to walk out the door, get hit by a bus and die, what do you want on your gravestone?”

This may sound shocking, and that is my intention, because I want them to realize they have a chance, at this moment, to change their life.

Each client has their own answer.


I want to have seen all 7 continents, to have seen the 7 wonders of the world, and to have shared them all with Jill.



Day 288 in Beijing: Push Ups. One Month Later.


As you might remember, I was able to do 15 push ups on February 4 and 41 on February 19th, my 45th birthday.

I’m striving for 100 by June 1st.

Honestly, I’d like to hit it before that time but that is the “drop dead date” that I’ve set for myself.

I could tell you how many I ended up doing today but that would ruin the video.

See what you think and I’ll update this again in a month.

Excuses are nothing.

Day 281 in Beijing: Addictions.

Many people have addictions of one type or another.

Most people know, even if they won’t admit it to others, if they are addicted to something.

It affects their daily life, their work, their free time and their state of mind.

I’ve got a bit of an addiction also.

I’m trying to break it.

I like reading comments on articles from e-news sites.

I used to be very addicted to my righteousness and telling others how to live their lives.

It seems most of the people posting comments on these sites also feel the same way.

Let me be specific, they don’t feel the same way I do about how someone should live their life, just that the person commenting knows better than the person living their own life how to live it.

It is a confusing sentence but that is what it is.  I’m okay with that.

I’ve been attempting to break this habit with very little success because I haven’t put a lot of effort into it.

Mostly I look at the comments and think about how serious, mean and judgmental they are and then ignore them.

I’ve been wondering, in the last week or so, why I even look at them.

I think it is an addiction to the self-righteousness that I had before dying a slow death.

I can remind myself that I’m, mostly, not like that anymore and also feel somewhat superior to the people that are commenting.

This is, actually, rather self-serving and yet very destructive.

I’ve decided not to read the comments for the rest of the month and note whether I feel more positive or less positive about my state of mind or if there is no change at all.

Life is an experiment and I’m going to run one on myself.

I’ve also noticed, on social media sites that I’m a part of, that people seem to want to pull me back into the persona I was before I made this change to be more positive.

It is another test of my strength against the addiction of hubris and self-righteousness that I have learned to check myself on and agree with them and then move on.

Agreeing with someone, and finding even a tiniest bit of truth in what they are saying, tends to negate almost any argument.

When I first started praticing this about 7 years ago I found this quite difficult to do in the moment.

I learned a very simple way to set my mind to agree with someone from my supervisor, Brac Selph.

I don’t think he even realized he was doing this, but anytime someone said anything to him in our group supervision, he would immediately answer with, “You’re right.”

I noticed this and started doing it also since when I tell someone, “You’re right” I then choose to find something to agree with them and that reduces their desire to argue with me because we have just agreed.

You may choose not to do this, or you may think I’m incorrect in my assumptions, and you might be right, but for me, it just makes sense.

I find it is not always easy, especially with someone I tend to disagree with strongly, but it saves me energy, time and other problems that come up because of disagreements.

Also, if the other person is incredibly argumentative, they tend to get tired of talking to me because I don’t give them much to argue with.  They go find other people that fit their way of thinking and being.

That used to be me.  I decided on New Year’s Day to try to be more positive, constructive and caring when I comment or speak to people.

I think I’ve succeeded greatly.

And this is just one more step in my journey towards a more fulfilling and wonderful life.

Feel free to join along when, and if, you decide to come along!


Day 278 in Beijing: Life Is What You Make It.

The papercut we bought from Zhang Yonghong.

The papercut we bought from Zhang Yonghong.

I’ve been expounding on my belief is that life is what we make it for the last week or so.

I’d like to give an example of that ideal right here in Beijing.

It has nothing to do with me other than I happened to meet this person.

He didn’t use behavioral therapy, at least not that I know of, and he didn’t seem to have a “coming into the light” realization moment.

He had to make this realization at a very young age.

An age that most people would think, “Someone so young can’t decide for themselves what to do.”

I disagree.

I have hope, and a belief, that many people can make decisions for themselves, at a much younger age, than we believe.

I’ve seen it many times when working with clients.

I’ve seen it with kids I know.

Give them a proper set up, and the options, and they will make a choice.

It might not be the choice we believe is the right one, but they will learn from the consequences and move forward.

You survived your childhood.

So will most other kids.

Jill and I were walking around Nanluoguxiang, a very cool and old part of Beijing, and happened to see some posters on the wall with an article and beautiful papercut designs next to it.

We read the article and then went inside.

Let me introduce you to Zhang Yonghong.

He was born with brittle bone disease, less commonly known as osteogenesis imperfecta, and it seems horrific.

He is has had over 100 fractures in his life and his body seems to be quite small and he had a hard time moving around on his tiny bed.

He lives in this office, full of his art, and his bed, and without much room for much else.

His assisstant came out and we did our best to converse with both of them.

They both smiled a lot and were incredibly friendly.

We pointed out which piece of art we wanted and bought it.

It was 30RMB.

That comes out to about 5 USD.

We actually felt some shame that we weren’t paying more or buying a larger piece of art.

We had a party to go to and didn’t have the ability to carry it at that point.

However, we are planning on going back and buying more for gifts to give to our friends in the USA when we return.

Sadly, as you will read in the article posted below, was born with the same affliction and his wife left him.

She lives in his hometown and comes to Beijing twice a year for medical care.  It costs about 5000 USD per visit and he has stopped his medical care since he can’t afford to pay for both of them.

I have no idea if there is a way to do a crowdsourcing movement to help him with his medical bills, or to help him support his daughter, but I’d love to hear any ideas anyone has.

By the way, this is the same disease that “The Kid President” has if you’ve seen his videos.

Amazingly, both The Kid President and Zhang have the same amazing positive attitude.

Click here for the link to the article, “Life by a thousand cuts.

Ps. My friend, Katherine Rodriguez did the photography for the article linked above.  I think she did a wonderful job of catching his beauty, grace and charm.

I did not photograph him as I thought that would be offensive and rude.  He seemed to be such a kind person that he may not have minded.

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Day 277 in Beijing: All Because Of You, I Am!

With all regards to U2 I chose to borrow this title from one of their great songs.

I often listen to music when I run and this song is on my “cardio” playlist.

The main chorus is “All because of you, I am!

It is meant in a very positive and loving way and yet I chose to question whether this is a factual statement.

By the way, if you notice, I chose to use the words, “chose to” instead of “have to” since I chose to believe that we don’t “have to” do anything.

We have a choice, in every second, to do, think, believe, behave and live our lives in a way that is in line with our moral and ethical values, and when we don’t, we tend to get ourselves into problems.

This is not all because of you, it is all because of me.

When you attack me, it means I’ve given you something to attack.

When you feel resentment towards me, I’ve given you something to resent.

When you dislike me, I’ve given you something to dislike.

Please understand, I’m not excusing bullying or abuse.

However, I am stating that we have patterns that we follow and we chose to do things that are not always in our own best interests.

I’m sure that you have habits that others consider rude or wrong.  And yet you continue to do them even though it upsets others.

Why is that?

What do you gain?

In terms of relationships, one of the reasons that we do things that keep people distant is possibly because we don’t like that person.

This makes sense when you think about political, religious, or cultural differences but that is the obvious leap here.

I’m talking about with people we love and respect.

Or, we think we “have to” love and respect.

This is where “have to” gets us into trouble.

We feel pressured, guilty, used, manipulated, and pushed to like or love someone that we don’t like or love.

Maybe this is because of societal pressure, or family pressure, or self-imposed pressure of what we “have to” do to satisfy these believes.

I question whether that is needed or not.

I question whether that is even healthy.

I believe these expectations, and expectations in general, is what causes so many of the issues we chose to deal with in our lives.

When we chose to stop expecting so much, and enjoy what we are able to enjoy, in the moment, it is freeing and wonderful.

I believe that this comes from the inside.

I believe this comes from inside of me.

And, inside of you.

It is whether we chose to accept that when we respond to an attack, with an attack, that we continue the pattern and allow the person attacking to be proven correct.

If we chose to answer, in a respectful and caring way, without judgment or condemnation, even if we disagree, we have already proven the attacker incorrect about us.

When we disagree, with force and conviction, we prove them right.

So, next time you disagree with someone, try to find some little bit of truth in what they are saying, even just 1%, and maybe reply with, “You are right, I agree with…”

You might be surprised at their reaction since they are probably thinking you will disagree with them.  From what I’ve seen, when I agree with someone, they start to relax, calm down, and question their own thinking and figure out what they really believe.

And, maybe in a certain way, it is all because of you, that they will be able to change the way they think about you and themselves.