Day 624 OUT OF Beijing: Bus Breakdown.


As we migrate to our new bus.

As we migrate to our new bus.


One of the issues with traveling so much is we are likely to have problems with transportation.

We finally had one on our trips in and out of San Francisco.

Jill has been riding buses for the last 5 years since she went car less and has never had a breakdown while on Golden Gate Transit.  I haven’t been riding as long as she has but I’ve never had one either.

Today that all changed.

We were climbing up the hill to the Marin Headlands when we heard a big “WHOOSH!” sound come from behind our seats.

We were near the back of the bus and it started to slow down instantly.

The driver turned on his hazard lights and we drove for about 500 feet going 5 miles an hour on Highway 101.

As we crested the hill, the driver parked the car in a turn out and tried a few different things to see if he could fix the bus himself.

An alarm kept going off and he notified us that he’d be calling a new bus, and we’d have to wait about 15 minutes.

Being that Jill and I keep our own schedules, this wasn’t a big deal.

There were others commuters and they all seemed pretty calm and just took it as was a normal everyday life event.

A manager drove up and talked to us and he seemed pretty mellow about it and we all started laughing and joking.

As the new bus drove up, we all disembarked, grabbed our cell phones, and started taking pictures since we had a great view and the chances of us every being allowed to park here, take pictures, and have this view are about 0.

The manager, the driver and the technician also took out their phones and took pictures.

I loved that people could have been grumpy, annoyed or angry because they were late but instead of choose to enjoy the view, laugh a bit, and stay calm and cool.

Bus breakdowns really aren’t that bad.


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 612 OUT OF Beijing: Why We Walk, Part 6.


This house definitely looks blissful.

This house definitely looks blissful.


After passing the truck, Jill and I continued up the little hill in Petaluma.

Jill noticed this beautiful house, and then said to me, “Do you see what that house is called?”

I didn’t see any sign so I wrinkled my forehead and said, “I don’t see anything.”

Now, I’ve been tested and I have 20/10 vision so I can see just about anything, anywhere as long as humans can see it.

Jill has better vision than I do, if that is even possible.  And, since she does, I guess it is.

She pointed to a sign that was hanging over the doorway.

The words on the sign stated that this was the “The House of Bliss.”

Looking at the cool blue paint job, accented with teal/light blue trim, the house did look quite blissful.

Everything around it was manicured perfectly and it seemed as if the owners take a lot of pride in their home.

I was guessing this was a bed and breakfast but, after searching online, I found it is just someone’s home and they obviously love it.

I’m guessing that when the owners arrive home that they feel quite relaxed, calm and full of bliss.

Isn’t that the way a house should be?

By the way, “The House of Bliss” was about 150 feet away from the truck with the anti-Obama and Stars and Bars bumper stickers.  In reality. this blissful little home was a world away from it.

That is why we walk.


The House of Bliss. Just in case you missed it.

The House of Bliss. Just in case you missed it.


Day 572 OUT OF Beijing: Happy New Year’s Eve!


Goodbye Airpocalypse!

Goodbye Airpocalypse!


Jill and I have started our new life and are moving along swimmingly.

Today is New Year’s Eve and we are going to be celebrating with friends and doing a little salsa dancing.

We will probably drink a lot of champagne, eat amazing food, and have a truly incredible time since we are back home and things just feel “right” again.

We are definitely missing our friends back in Beijing and wishing them a wonderful New Year’s Day since they will have crossed the New Year’s Eve dateline before we do here.  We love you all and wish you were here to celebrate with us.

I have posted before about the Airpocalpyse app on my iPhone.

This will be the last time you, or I, see it since I deleted it.

I don’t plan on ever going back to Beijing, and I don’t want to be reminded of the pollution and conditions of living there, anymore.

Neither does Jill.

We are moving on to bigger and better things and want to focus on that.

I will be, however, writing a book about our experiences so we will be looking back at it.

But not right now.  Today is for the future and for enjoyment.

The air is clean in San Francisco and not a cloud in the sky.

Our website SF Tourism Tips is doing incredibly and we are working on our new site to help others live the life they want and figure out how to change what is in their way to being more content.

So, say goodbye to the Airpocalypse App.

Give it a good send off and a huge, “Thank you” for the laughs and the information that allowed Jill and me to figure out if we would leave our apartment on certain days or just stay home, order in, and watch Breaking Bad, 30 Rock or some movie that we’d have downloaded.

Happy New Years to all and I hope 2015 is the best year of your life so far.

I am sure it will be for Jill and me.


Day 566 OUT OF Beijing: Merry Christmas and Grace Cathedral.


Grace Cathedral in all its glory.

Grace Cathedral in all its glory.


Jill and I love Grace Cathedral.

It is probably the most beautiful Cathedral in San Francisco and it is located on the top of Nob Hill.

It has an amazing view out towards the bay and also back towards Daly City and out towards Ocean Beach.

It has been built out, as needed, through the years and yet the style has never changed.

It is a gothic cathedral and the acoustics are fantastic.

We also needed new pictures for our website and business, SF Tourism Tips.

It just so happened that the Rainbow World Fund Tree of Hope has been located at Grace Cathedral the last two years and we were able to see it this year.

It was located at City Hall last year, but we were both in China and were not able to see it, so it was nice to see it in such a magnificent location this time.

It is based on the 1000 origami cranes that were made by a Japanese survivor of Hiroshima in the belief that if she made 1000 of them she’d be cured of cancer.  She died about 300 cranes short but the legend lives on and this tree is a symbol of that hope.

I actually visited Hiroshima in 1997 and was taken by the Peace Plaza and how many thousands of origami cranes were there.  It was a magical place and it is dedicated to world peace as they have seen the worst humanity could ever do to itself.

This tree has another part of it’s own story that is quite incredible: “The wishes are then printed and folded into origami cranes by a diverse team of volunteers, including members of San Francisco’s LGBT and Japanese American communities, survivors of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, local children, and life-­‐sentence prisoners from San Quentin.  The origami “crane wishes”are then placed on the tree.”  From Grace’s Cathedral’s website.

Jill and I walked around and took a lot of pictures, enjoyed the scenery, and just sat in silence for quite a while.

We really loved looking at the amazing streamers that hung down from the ceiling and probably were over 100 feet in length.  I tried to find out what the represent but was unable to at this time.  I’ll have to ask a docent next time I go.



Day 557 OUT OF Beijing: Precis Synchronicity.



Jill and I both grew up listening to The Police.

They had a fantastic album called Synchronicity.

Yes, I’m old, we had albums back then.

And cassette tapes.

And we had to walk up hill to school.

Both ways.

Without shoes.

Or with shoes made of cardboard.

And kids today just don’t understand how tough we had it.

But I digress.

As you all know, we left Beijing yesterday.

However, my friend, and amazingly talented person, Chris Stecher, just published Issue #5 of his online magazine, Precis.  His fantastic wife, Kat Tosi, encouraged him to start an online magazine and use his talents to make some thing very special.  He has accomplished that with style, grace and pure determination.

He used 3 of my blog posts in it and it actually was published the day we were leaving at 3 am.

The three posts are all from BEFORE I left the USA and were the “countdown” posts about moving to China.

They deal with saying goodbye, my dad’s growing dementia, and Leslie Mesones‘ doggies who I’ll also miss.

I have now said goodbye to everyone in China, landed in the USA, and am probably incredibly jet-lagged but happy beyond belief.

I write my blog posts in advance because I want to make sure I don’t miss any days.  So, I’ve now been home for a full day before this even goes out but I’m writing it on my last day, at 3 am, here in Beijing because I can’t sleep.

We will have left Beijing at 4 pm on Monday, December 15th.  We will have arrived in San Francisco at 5 pm on Monday, December 15th because of the time zone difference.  Synchronicity.

We’ll have traveled almost exactly the correct amount of time to take off and land at the same time on the same day.

It is almost like traveling in a time machine.

I’ll be posting about the flight and the landing soon enough.

For now, please do me a favor and read PRECIS and then go to the Facebook page and “like” it.  My posts are on page 19 and 20 but read it all.

Chris has done an amazing job with it and it his labor of love.

Please reward him and also comment about what you like.

His computer crashed 3 different times and he almost lost everything.  It was delayed for a week or so and he barely was able to get it all done.  I can’t believe how hard he worked and am so proud to be a part of this amazing magazine and to be his and Kat’s friend.

I’m blown away that I have an article published about my first getting ready to leave the USA and move to China on the exact day we are leaving China to come to the USA.

Precis Synchronicity.


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 534 In Beijing: Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Cappadocia, JILL SAID YES!!!!!!!!


Two become one.

Two become one.


As you know, Jill and I bought a ring for her yesterday.

She thought it was just a ring that would look nice and not mean anything more than something that would help us to remember our trip to Cappadoccia.

Little did she know that I had other plans for it.

I’m about as unromantic as they come.

Luckily, Jill is even less romantic than I am.

I was married once before and Jill has never been married.

I don’t think she had any expectations that she and I would marry, and instead, we’d just travel the world and live our lives together in an unmarried state.

As we were about 2/3 of the way done with our hot air balloon ride, I knew I needed to move quickly.

The noise from the fire heating the balloon made it difficult to have a long enough time, in silence, so that she could hear me ask her so I had to think quick.

I moved over to Captain Mike and said, “Is there a minute or two where it is silent so I can ask my girlfriend to marry me?”

He looked at me, nodded, and said, “I’ll let you know.”

About 10 minutes later, he said, “We are going to go a bit longer, I want to take you over this field.”

Then he looked at me, winked, and I knew what he was doing.

As we hovered over the field, I asked our new friend, Brent, to take my iPhone and video us.

He said, “What am I supposed to video?”

I responded, “Don’t worry.  Just focus on us for a bit.”

He started taping and I said,

“So, I met you 8 days before I came to China and you are the person I want to spend the rest of my life with so…will you marry me?”

Obviously, she said yes.

By the way, the sounds you hear in the background are not Jill’s.  They are from Abby.  It cracks us up because it is so heartfelt and honest.  You can also hear Brent saying, “Oh my god!” as he films us.

Captain Mike tops it off by saying, “You said ‘yes?’  okay, now we can land and we don’t have to throw you out.  Congratulations!”

Brent told us, afterward, that “I was shaking I was so nervous.  I didn’t want to screw it up.”

I think Brent did an amazing job and I love that he caught us, Abby’s cute noises, Captain Mike, and the balloons in the background.  And all in 47 seconds.  They added so much to this perfect day.




Day 482 In Beijing: Two And A Half Days In Xian.


Jill being taken care of the doctors and our two translators, Miranda and Lizzy.

Jill being taken care of the doctors and our two translators, Miranda and Lizzy.

We were getting ready to leave Xi’an after 2.5 days of craziness and insanely busy exhibition hall cruising.

Think about this for a second:

In 2.5 days we had:

1) Taken an overnight train to Xi’an.

2) Seen the Terra Cotta Army.

3) Seen a major exhibition and expo and been a guest of honor by EACHAM.

4) Stayed in a 5 star hotel in Xi’an, all expenses paid.

5) Met the head of the whole expo and been able to drink some amazing wine with him and the winemaker at Kaiwai Vineyards.

6) Been invited to come visit the Kaiwai Winery and stay there if we come back.

7) Jill had been interviewed on Shaanxi television (that is the province where Xi’an is located) about Jill’s company and websites: and

8)Rode a tandem bicycle on top of all 16 kilometers of the Xi’an wall with new friends from countries including New Zealand, Sweden, Austria.  Later that night we met up with new friends from Germany, Portugal, Russia and Turkey.  14 people (including us): 8 countries.

9) Met two fantastic new friends, Lizzy and Miranda, who served as our interpreters, and got them to try some wine and beer with us at the expo.  Yes, we are bad influences.  Honestly, I think they had as much fun as we did and they will come visit us when we are back in the USA.

10)  Went to a Chinese bar named, “Mexico” which had Micheladas and chips and salsa.  Well, they had chips.  Instead of salsa they had honey mustard dressing.  Yeah, not quite the same thing as in Mexico but you do what you can in a small city of “only” 10 million people in China.

11) I was interviewed for a local Xi’an newspaper on our experience at the expo.

12) Explored the “Muslim quarter” of Xi’an inside the Xi’an wall.


Then, to top it all off, just as we were leaving the expo, Jill tripped over an exposed power cord and fell.

And fell HARD.

I was a few feet in front of her and couldn’t do a thing until I saw her sprawled on the ground.

I immediately reached down to check on her and she had hit her knee, then her shoulder and finally, her head.

That is what really scared me.

Her eyebrow started to show signs of bruising immediately and a huge crowd of people gathered about as quickly as someone could say, “DOWN GOES FRAZIER” in China!

Luckily, the people working the expo, including our two translators, Lizzy and Miranda, saw it happen and ran over to help.

The expo people brought over a doctor and he checked Jill out and we waited around for about 30 minutes as they ordered  a private car to take us back to the hotel.

it is a pretty brutal bruise and it was quite a scene at the expo as loads of people started milling around trying to help, give advice and offering us our choice of local hospitals.

Luckily, Jill didn’t have any headaches, dizziness, or blurred vision so it seems as if he eye had gotten the worst of it and her brain was okay.  We decided not to go to a local hospital and wait and see how things go.

If we needed, we could go to where I work and she’d have the best medical care in China.

Call me biased, but it is true.

We took the private car back to the hotel and decided to wait on the second floor balcony overlooking the lobby.

As we waited at the hotel to go home on a high speed train, three women got in a fight in the lobby in full view of everyone sitting there.

Yes, you just read that right: 3 Chinese women in a 5 star hotel started fighting with each other.  It took an expat friend of ours to walk in the middle and break it up.

Seriously, you’d think that Jill and I make this stuff up to add spice to our lives and stories.

We don’t.

This is the reality of living in China.

Honestly, it is nothing out of the ordinary.

Just another day in the life of Jill and Aram in China.


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Celebrating my CHINAVERSARY with Jill, Nebraska State Senator Kate Sullivan and her wonderful husband Mike.  A very nice way to ring in the second year in China.

Celebrating my CHINAVERSARY with Jill, Nebraska State Senator Kate Sullivan and her wonderful husband Mike. A very nice way to ring in the second year in China.

This is actually a weird problem to have.

This is my Chinaversary.

I’ve lived here for one year.

Except, that isn’t quite right.

I lost a day in my flight over so I’m never sure if I’ve really been here for one year or not.

I’m going with this is my anniversary since I left the USA on this date and technically would have arrived on the same date if not for the time change.   And, it would also set my “Day …” count off by a day if I didn’t do this.

I can’t really believe I’ve been in China for one year.

And that I’ve written 365 blog posts.

I had no idea that I could find that much to write about, that much to think about that much to keep going, day after day.

I’m actually quite proud of my accomplishment.

I also thank everyone that has been on this ride with me, either physically, like Jill, or mentally/emotionally like my family, friends and readers of this blog.

Some of the things I’ve learned in my first year:

Traffic in China is pretty bad.  I just moved to a new place about 1 block from my work.  It takes me 3 minutes to walk there and my stress load has gone down incredibly.  I used to commute, by taxi, for about 30-40 minutes each way.  The time I get to spend relaxing with Jill and going for walks is priceless.

Beijing is huge.  23,000,000 people, and by some estimates, 25,000,000, in a 200 km city.  It just seems to go on forever.  This has good and bad points.  We mainly have figured out the good points and that there is always something new opening and a new place to explore.  Or, better yet, a very old place to explore.

We love traveling.  We truly love to get out, try something new, meet new people, and see what life is like outside of our “little world” back home.  It gives us a new perspective every time we meet someone because we hear a life story that is so different and so contrary to what we both used to believe about what we could or should do with our own lives.

We miss our friends and family back home.  This goes without saying.  Two dear friends, and one who is basically “my second father” died while I was away.  I did what I could do, from here, but missed the memorials or being able to truly say goodbye.  This is a major downside to being an expatriate.

China is an amazingly dizzying place to live and understand.  It is like the industrial revolution on steroids.  I’ve never experienced anything like it and I’ve been to a lot of major cities around the world and lived in Japan, Australia and other countries.  Seriously, nothing compares to China.  That is good and bad.

Jill and I are an amazing couple.  We have put up with, I would say, was probably one of the hardest years of our lives and have come through with more love and respect for each other than we could have imagined.

Here is a simple list of what has happened since we met, some good, some bad.

I moved to China.

I started a new job.

I moved into a new apartment with very little support or idea of how to do anything in China.

Jill Moved to China.

Jill’s grandmother died.

Two of my friends/mentors died.

3 different visa trips to leave China so Jill wouldn’t overstay her visa.

Jill started Mandarin school.

Dealing with pollution.

Jill’s almost having to start over from scratch on her website because of problems.

The internet being limited beyond belief because of….I won’t state that here.  😉

Jill found out that people very close to her have cancer.

Jill had a breast cancer scare and a biopsy here (everything is fine, thankfully!).

Amazing boss and dear friend in the same person.

Seeing the Great Wall twice.

Having friends from the USA visit.

Salsa dancing in China.

Playing badminton with my coworkers.

Making new incredible friends that keep us continually laughing and feeling like we have a “family here.”

The ability to support and love each other through the hardships and know that we have each other’s love.

A move to a new apartment that is wonderful.

My therapy practice which is doing incredibly well.

Working in situations that I would have never imagined in the USA which includes doing therapy on a oil rig in the the middle of a bay in China among others.

Helping many people feel better and figure out what is right for them.

Not having to own a car.

Seeing the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Tienanmen Square, Summer Palace and so much more.

Seeing Chinese New Year in China!

Having Octoberfest in Beijing.

Becoming vegetarian, together, on New Year’s Day.

Visiting Mongolia.

Visiting Shanghai.

Visiting Malaysia, twice!

Visiting Singapore.

Spending NYE in Singapore with Dipesh.

The ability to take a month off in the summer and go to Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria.

Jill’s websites taking off and becoming a real force for tourism in San Francisco.

A new internet service that is screamingly fast which allows this blog, Jill’s sites, and all the connections we need to stay here and feel more at “home” when we miss people.

Overall, the positive definitely outweighs the negative and I’m sure there are lots more to list but I don’t want to overwhelm people.  Suffice to say that year one was incredibly tough, and taught us so much about ourselves, and each other, that we know year two will be a breeze. We are so much stronger, knowledgeable and resilient to what comes our way that we will succeed and master whatever needs to be done.

We both thank you for all your support, care and love.