Day 630 OUT OF Beijing: Break Time.


Jill and me celebrating my birthday and enjoying our ride on the SVT Salsa and Rueda Party bus.

Jill and me celebrating my birthday and enjoying our ride on the SVT Salsa and Rueda Party bus.


All I can say, is that after 630 blog posts over 630 days, I’m ready for a well deserved break.

I’ve loved sharing Jill’s and my adventures with all of you and will write more when I feel like it.

I have no idea when that will be.

I want to thank everyone that has enjoyed my blog posts and read them.

I’m incredibly grateful for the comments, responses, and care you sent me while I was living overseas with Jill.  She is also.  It meant more to us than I can ever relate to any of you.

Thank you.  Seriously, THANK YOU.

Now it is up to you to write your own story.

Most of all, I have to thank Jill.

My darling, I will do my best to never let fear stand in our way.

Thank you, Jill.

You saved my life.



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 589 OUT OF Beijing: Upwardly Vagabonding.


A longer shot of the bridge with the new movable divider on the left.

A longer shot of the bridge with the new movable divider on the left.


As most of you know, Jill and I are traveling around and only staying with friends or family.

I’ve titled this new way of finding a place for us as “upwardly vagabonding.”

A vagabond is someone that is essentially homeless and is just trying to find a place to live and survive.

We are more Upwardly mobile about our vagabonding so I’ve joking called it just that.

We are staying in nice places, with good people, and don’t have to worry about shelter or really being homeless.

As Jill continues to build her site, SF Tourism Tips, and we are now building our new website together (to be released to the world in a month or so) we want to stay as frugal and with as little limitations on us as possible.

We also are traveling by plane, train or bus wherever we go unless friends are driving and we can hitch a ride.  We also use uber or taxis if needed to get around.  It saves us money and saves us mental strain as we don’t have to worry about driving and possibly being in a car crash, paying insurance or worrying if we are going to get lost.  We leave the work to the driver or pilot.   We also then have time to enjoy the scenery or work on projects while we travel.  Win-win.

We have gone through another round of minimizing our stuff and donated all our winter clothes and whatever we think we won’t need.

Our plan is to be down to one good sized backpack and one daypack each by the time we head off for Los Angeles on February 28th.

It is rather amazing we’ve been home for a month already because it seems like we just arrived and are still settling in.

Part of that is the reverse culture shock after being in China for 1.5 years but it is also that we have stayed in 4 different places in one month so we didn’t really “settle” down in any one place and feel at home.

We will be staying at our friends, Randy and Alethea’s house, for most of the the rest of our trip in the bay area so that will make life more comfortable and easy on us.  Hopefully it will on them also as they are being incredibly generous letting us stay and hang out with them.  Randy is like a second brother to me so it is wonderful to spend time with him and his family and just be “home.”

Here are a few pictures from the Golden Gate Bus as I was upwardly vagabonding home to Randy and Alethea’s recently.


Day 567 OUT OF Beijing: Grace Cathedral Videos


Jill and I think beauty of Grace Cathedral speaks for itself.

To give you another perspective on it, we’d decided to post some videos.  We will be using some of them on our business site, SF Tourism Tips.

Enjoy them and the fact that I’ve now written 567 blog posts over 567 days.

I find it pretty cool that I haven’t missed a day and that the numbers line up as 567.

It is the small things that make me happy.

And large things like Grace Cathedral.




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 555 In Beijing: SANTA CON!!!!



Me in front of one of my favorite sculptures.

Me in front of one of my favorite sculptures.


Jill and I did Santa Con last year in Beijing and had a blast.

We met a lot of people and made some amazing friends during it.

I also did Santa Con the year before I came to China, in San Francisco, and something like 5000-10000 people showed up.

Beijing rolls about 150-200 people deep but it is almost more fun because Santa Claus and Christmas is still a novelty here and people are really surprised and seem to enjoy a bunch of crazy laowai walking around and giving out candy and having fun on the streets.

Our friend, Federica, who is from a small town near Turin, Italy, wasn’t able to come out with us this year but posted a picture of herself wearing a santa costume on the Great Wall of China.  I can only imagine what the Chinese nationals out there thought about it.  They probably laughed and loved it.  I know I would have.  Federica is hilarious and one of our closest buddies.  She’s also in the first picture above this post.

We hung out with our friends Barbara and Patrick most of the time.  Barbara is from Brazil and Patrick is from Cape Verde.  They met here and have fallen in love and are a super cute couple.  We love hanging out with them because they have such positive attitudes and also want to travel the world and see what is out there.  Barbara is also an awesome salsa dancer and Patrick is great at dancing kizomba and merengue.

We also hung out with our friend Rachel, who is in the picture below with Jill, who flew up from Hong Kong just to hang out with us this weekend.  We call Rachel, “Our daughter” because she is 26 and we feel like she is our kid.  She’s actually third generation Beijing-ren (ren means person) and moved to Hong Kong for work about 3 months ago.  We met at a Jing A beer and food pairing at The Big Smoke a while back and became fast friends immediately.

We hit about 6 different bars and ended up at our favorites, The Local and Jing A Taproom.  On our way, we stopped by The Big Smoke and passed by Beijing Sideways, which is a tour company where you can rent motorcycles, with sidecars attached, and do tours of Beijing, China and who knows where else.  Someone hired them to ride all the way from Beijing to Paris, if memory serves correctly.  One of my friends, Moeava, used to work there and is setting up the same company in Tokyo.

That is the part of Beijing that Jill and I truly love: Meeting so many people, from all over, that have such different attitudes and ideas on how to live life.  We enjoy being excited by their new ideas, their willingness to take a chance and their desire to try something new.  The Jing A guys, Kris and Alex, are perfect examples of this:  Kris Li worked at Cisco and Alex Acker worked at Ogilvy and Apple.  About 3 years ago, they started home brewing out of one of their bathrooms.  Then they built up and became more popular.  The owner of The Big Smoke, Kris Ryan, asked if they wanted to build their brewery in his restaurant and they agreed.  Just about 4 months ago, Kris Li and Alex started their own restaurant, the Jing A Taproom, and it has been a huge success.  It has been wonderful to watch them learn, grow and strive to be their own people and not just stay stuck in an “easy” career or life.  Alex also got married to the amazing Ashley while we were here and we’ve been able to celebrate their new life together as we’ve seen it grow.

We’ve made so many friends, in just 1.5 years, it is hard to believe.  However, that is why we love traveling and being out there: There are always adventures to be had and places to see.  We’ve seen so many of our friends make these amazing choices and live lives of adventure.

I wonder what adventure is next for us?


Day 554 In Beijing: NAZARS or Protection from the Evil Eye!


The Nazar protector tree.

The Nazar protector tree.


Jill and I grew up with very different stories told to us as children.

Her parents weren’t world travelers and she must have gotten that from somewhere inside herself.

I, on the other hand, grew up with stories of traveling everywhere, whenever possible, however possible, and whyever possible (a new word I just made up).

My grandparents once bought a Volvo station wagon, in Sweden, and then drove all the way down to India.

If I remember this correctly, this was in 1960s or 1970s. Incidentally, I took my driver’s license test in that wagon and passed it on the first try.  It was a boxy, blue 240.  A classic.

I, therefore, remember stories my grandparents would tell me about driving through Turkey, in their volvo station wagon, and ending up parked, on the side of some mountain, with a bunch of Turkish truck drivers, and dancing all night long.

I was raised to believe that traveling was the norm, not the exception, and that staying at home was somehow a strange choice for our family.

Because of these trips, my grandparents always had interesting artifacts around their house: Indian sculptures and statues of gods, photographs and paintings from all over the world, and jewelry from their travels.

My grandmother had a lot of jewelry with Nazars on them.  This was, according to Turkish myth, to ward of the Evil Eye and protect people.

So, when I saw this tree, with all these amazing Nazars on it, I immediately thought of her and took a picture.

I thought we had taken pictures with us sitting in the chair but I guess we did not.

That just means we have to go back and visit this amazing tree sometime in the future!

I think my grandma and grandpa would approve.


Day 551 In Beijing: Lunch at Belisirma Village, Ihlara Valley: Video.


Looking down the river.

Looking down the river.


To really get the feeling of being at Belisirma Village, in the Ihlara Valley, Jill and I think a video is necessary.

So, without further ado, here is a video!


Day 549 In Beijing: Trekking Through the Ihlara Valley, Part 2.


A large cave with cliff wall dwellings.

A large cave with cliff wall dwellings.


Jill and the rest of us kept trekking through the valley.

We also kept being amazed by the power of nature and how it could split rocks and make cliffs that look impenetrable.

Incredibly, the cliffs weren’t as many people had built homes into them and lived there as you know.

These were somewhat different as they seemed to be much smaller and more concentrated than the other ones we’ve seen.

There was also a very big ant that was carrying around some food and was not going to be stopped by any humans getting in its way.

I was continually reminded how small we humans are while also noticing how much we can affect our surroundings for thousands of years.

It allows me to have perspective on my place in this world and this universe.  Both in terms of how unimportant I am and how important I am.

It is something I teach to my clients:  Every single choice you make means everything…or nothing.  It is up to you to decide how you want to be thought of, remembered, or forgotten.

Because, sooner or later, we will all be forgotten and we will all be forgiven.

Sooner or later, there will be no one to remember us so live the life you want to live, try to do the best you can, and remember to forget.

Life really can be that simple.

It, like everything else you do, is a choice.