FAQ with Sunni

For my birthday in July I asked my tag-along adventurers, friends, and connections on social media to complete an online survey for me. (Thanks to everyone who participated!) My goal was to understand the impact this blog, my email updates etc were having.

There were 3 questions asked many times. So, here you go, answers!

Common Question #1: How do you afford your life?

Answer: Video response!

Common Question #2: What can I do to help you? (or) What support do you need?

Answer: Connection and connections.

Connection

I know it seems like I’m always busy, but I’m really not. I keep busy with work and clients, but because I’m on the move so much it can get pretty lonely. Getting feedback from people on how/if my sharing impacts you, having friends reach out to stay in touch and send virtual hugs – these things are super valued by me.

Connections

I choose to be nomadic because it allows me to meet so many new people and experience so many new cultures. To fully immerse myself, and keep my life affordable, I barter for lodging wherever possible. I trade my聽strategic services聽for lodging which allows me to serve people who may not otherwise be able to afford my services. I’d love to trade with someone in Arizona, New Mexico or California for the Jan/Feb/March time frame.聽If you’re interested in bartering with me, or know someone who might be, you can click here to learn more. I’ve done this many times, so I’ll guide you through the process, ensure we have clear boundaries and agreements in place, here is what some of my past barter clients have to say about the experience.

Common Question #3: 聽What exactly do you do for money?

Answer: I work. Duh. 馃槣

Okay, for reals, I do several things.

I freelance as a Project Manager and Operations Manager for larger companies.

I apply these same skills when working with Entrepreneurs聽and Small Business owners to define a growth strategy,聽gain more clients and run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

As an Intuitive Strategist, I mentor people on a journey for self-discovery. So many people operate in survival mode, reacting to the things around them, acting out of obligation. I support people in intentionally and proactively designing a world that they love.聽One of my clients recently told me that I’d helped her to meet her true self for the first time. (#squee!)

Road Trip Logistics

I have been on the road for 30 days and I鈥檝e driven just over 1,300 miles through 9 states. I鈥檝e stayed in 6 different cities with 6 different families. One of which was a client I’d never met in person until I showed up to stay the night.

So far and聽have spent $270 on gas and $350 on food, everything else I鈥檝e bartered for or been gifted by friends and family.

Today I head out and will spend 12 days slowly making my way through the 1,500+ miles to Chicago. I’ll stop and spend time in 4 cities, staying with 4 different families, 3 of which I’ve never met before in real life.

Conklin, NY is to stay with a Reiki client of mine for 2 nights.

Then on to East Meredith, NY to meet a colleague and guest from #TabooTalk where I’ll stay for 3 nights.

Next is Pittsburgh where I’ll stay 2 nights with the high school buddy of an online friend so that I can spend a full day exploring Falling Waters (a bucket list item).

From there I head to Wapakoneta, OH which is where I have family I haven’t seen in ages and together we’re going to explore Cedar Point and ride some record breaking roller coasters.

Once I’ve had a chance to catch up with family I’ll traverse the final stretch to Chicago where I’ll be staying with the same clients I bartered with last year.

Managing this sort of trip is not simple. I have a spreadsheet where I’m tracking the hours, miles and people. Staying in communication with that many people, verifying dates, times, boundaries – it takes something. Add in the fact that my car has been throwing me curve balls which means everyone has to be flexible within a day or two and well – it’s complex.

But, there’s so much juice in it too!

I’ve wanted to travel my whole life. I actually got to travel as a child more than many my age thanks to Mom’s family being in Baltimore and Dad having family outside of Charleston. We made family road trips up I95 several times a year and they were filled with pit stops for homeschool field trips.

I actually got to travel as a child more than many my age thanks to Mom’s family being in Baltimore and Dad having family outside of Charleston. We made family road trips up I95 several times a year and they were filled with pit stops for homeschool field trips.

I always dreamed of far away places though. Rome, Russia, Thailand.

Since 2003 I’ve been to 48 of the 50 US States, 30+ countries on 3 continents. I’ve seen all of the sites, ate the foods, done the things.

With this road trip I’m shifting my focus to people. I’m visiting places and people that aren’t near major airports, that I wouldn’t otherwise see or maybe even meet. Instead of feeling pressure to hit all the big sites I’m meandering, stopping when and where I want to.

It may be challenging to coordinate, but the juice far outweighs the effort.

Crickets in Philly

My bartering, nomadic lifestyle is 100% possible due to social media. I rely on it to keep in touch with people, find people to live with, even to find new clients. It is AWESOME.

And it has the well-known side effect of allowing us to choose what people know of us. It’s become quite easy to feel like you know someone well, through social media, that you don’t really know at all, perhaps have never even met. I often find myself wishing people would spend less time relying on social media and more time connecting in real life.

Well, I got my wish in Philly. There is very little available via my normally reliable online resources to allow me to connect with communities in this city. I typically check Facebook events, meeetup and the like for interest-based communities that I have something in common with. I use them to find new friends, clients and peers to connect with, to help me make my home in a new city.

Philly has virtually nothing online. Crickets.

Thanks to the friends I have here I’ve discovered that Philly is simply old school. There is plenty of entrepreneurship here, it’s just the old fashioned hustle, hard work and handshake based variety. This makes me happy, because I like to think that there are pockets where social media isn’t the glue holding everyone together. Conversely, it makes me sad because it’s much harder to get to know this city as a nomad passing through for a few weeks.

Oh well. All the more thankful for my friends and the quirky sites I’ve found in my exploring.

My 1st week on the road

So, in case you haven’t been keeping up, I’ve shifted from flying around the US to driving. I’ve embarked on an endless road-trip聽and, aside from a delayed start, everything has been going as planned.

Driving is different from flying around the country for all of the obvious reasons. But there’s a whole bunch of less obvious things I’m discovering.

First, I’m so extroverted and social I wasn’t sure if I would like spending that much time alone, but it’s been awesome! I’m loving that I can listen to the 1940’s station on Sirius Radio without annoying my Partner.

It’s also awesome that I can stop at every single Co-Op or local crunchy granola market if I feel like it.

I’m also impressed with how productive I’ve been able to be from the car. I’ve been recording audio files, using voice to text to write blogs and emails (like this one!), taking client calls and listening to audio books. I’ve scheduled myself to only drive during the day and so far that’s been working out perfectly.

What’s been surprising is聽how exhausted I’ve been at the end of each day. Apparently driving takes a lot more energy than I thought, that combined with the fact that when I get to my destination I want to chat and connect with my host – I’ve been sleeping very well each night.

I’ve taken video every day since I left – here’s what the first week of life on the road looked like:

I’ve made it to my first anchor city, Philadelphia. I’m spending a couple of weeks here with very dear friends. We co-work during the day and chat and have fun in the evenings and weekends. It’s great to settle in a bit and sleep in the same bed more than one night! Oh, and there’s an adorable kitten, Scout who’s become my bed mate and loves hanging out in my backpack.

On that note, until next time! 馃檪

Freedom from Obligation

A theme that’s been emerging in my world is the difference between Obligation and Commitment. For some聽people, they may be synonyms, but to me, they聽definitely are not. I’ve been doing one of my word studies to dig in and get them clear for myself.

com路mit路ment noun
the state or a quality of choosing to be聽dedicated to a cause

ob路li路ga路tion noun聽a course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound

There鈥檚 one keyword that delineates them, to me.

Choice.

The more I dig into the etymology, history and meanings of the words, to me, commitment is choosing to bind yourself to something/someone and obligation is a thrust upon you and often feels like a burden.

This is important because I look at my life through the lens of choices.

Whenever I begin to feel obligated to something I pause to check in to see, is there anything about this 鈥榯hing鈥 that I鈥檓 actually committed to? Can I connect to that commitment strongly enough that the feeling of burden lifts?

I find when I鈥檓 doing something out of obligation my heart isn鈥檛 in it, whereas if I can do it out of a commitment, it鈥檚 all heart.

One example is that I often skip buying presents for my friends on their birthday. But I’m known to randomly send gifts, cards etc when I feel inspired. I’m committed that they feel loved, but not obligated to do it in any particular way or on any specific timeline.

A small shift perspective can have a huge impact.

Another example. In March 2017 I’d been living a nomadic life for a couple of years and was starting to feel a bit聽like a fraud because I’d been in one place, my hometown no less, for several months. I was feeling obligated聽as a nomad to get back on the road and really pushing myself to make this happen. Funny thing is, when I related to it that way, as an obligation, I wasn’t able to get any traction. Everything I had planned didn’t come to fruition. This all became super clear when,聽three days before I was scheduled to finally leave town and go to Europe, My Guy experienced a major tragedy in his family. He said to me ‘don’t feel obligated to stay behind, you can go Europe‘ and my first thought was ‘hell no! I’m committed聽to you, I’m staying!‘.

That same conversation taught me another lesson, about my commitment to myself. Traveling and nomading is not an obligation – I chose this life and if it stops feeling juicy and awesome, if it starts feeling like a burden, then I will choose a different life. Once I again started relating to my lifestyle as a choice and聽commitment rather than a burden and obligation things started magically falling into place. By June 2017 I was back to traveling in a new and exciting way.

I wrote about Priorities聽and it’s still totally true. I continue to evolve and this conversation of Obligation and Commitment is just another layer to the onion of this round of evolution. My hope is that by sharing it with you, seeing my journey, will allow you to more deeply connect with your own.

Does this relationship聽between Obligation and Commitment ring true for you?

Are there things you’re doing out of Obligation that you can look for what you’re Committed to as a way to shift your relationship?

 

Adventure – defined

I unintentionally branded my lifestyle a couple years ago. I started using the hashtag ‘adventures of Sunni’ for Instagram posts that were about my more daring excursions, like hiking a glacier in Alaska or zip lining in Thailand. Then a follower commented that it seemed like my life was one big adventure and I really should apply that hashtag to all my posts.

And I thought. Yes! This is indeed how I live my life!

I think words are magical and I’m intentional about which I use. So for starters let’s define the word:

adventure
[ad-ven-cher]

noun
1. an exciting or very unusual experience.
2. a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome.

verb
1. to risk or hazard.
2. to take the chance of; dare.

I’ve always approached my life as if it were an exciting and unusual experience. For as long as I can remember I’ve been willing to be bold and take risks and it’s absolutely been full of uncertain outcomes.

Here’s the thing, I did this way before I started living such an extreme lifestyle. Back when I was in college, or when I had a typical career as an IT Consultant, or when I was a wife redecorating a living room…it’s not been about聽what was happening, it was about my聽perspective on the happenings.

I’ve always looked for how I could create adventure in my life.

I share a lot of details about my life these days. I don’t do this out of a desire for attention, quite the contrary, it takes a lot of energy to be vulnerable, to take all the pics, write the blogs and articles, to share it all on social media, film the videos, write the emails etc.

I share the details of my life because I hope to inspire a shift in those following me. A shift in relating to your own life as an adventure. A shift to being intentional about creating your聽own version of adventure. While for me, right now, adventure looks like traveling the country, bartering and running my own business it may look聽completely different for you.

I find these differences beautiful and fascinating.

One of my favorite things is encountering fellow adventurers who’s lives look completely different than mine. On the surface it may seem that we belong to very different worlds, but because we both have the adventurer’s spirit we’re able to find common ground almost immediately.

It is for all of this that I created the Tag-A-Long Adventurers to allow as many people as possible to keep up with my version of adventure in hopes of inspiring more adventure for others.

So, what’s your current adventure? Is it a home remodel, kids, career development, a new commitment to your health, a new juicy relationship, or travel, like me? I want to know – use the comments to tell me!

 

A Hippy in Sin City

I spent the past week in Vegas. And did not gamble once.

It’s not really my scene to be honest. I find it all overwhelming, I live a minimalist lifestyle and the city is all about excess. I don’t have harsh judgements for people who love Vegas, I can understand the appeal, it just doesn’t appeal to me.

However, my partner had a gig there and had a suite at the Venetian Hotel
for a week. I’m not one to turn down time with My Guy or a swanky hotel.

So, here is what I learned during my聽week in Sin City.

Humans fascinate me.

I mean, I already knew this, but this week was a great reminder. Watching humans聽interact around this art piece was especially interesting.

I’m moved by the variety of family configurations. I’m amused by how they handle who’s turn it is next, especially cross culturally – some wait politely, others jump in while others are there. Most people don’t hesitate when handing their device to a stranger to capture the moment for them. Some come back for a do-over. Fascinating.

With a rodeo in town, I spent one day counting cowboy hats (287 by the way). I also spent a day talking to the characters and impersonators on the strip. I was even asked out to dinner by a Transformer (I said no when聽they refused to take their costume off).

Some of the conversations I overheard were, well, often disturbing. I heard a group of girls debating whether they were assaulted the night before.聽I heard a guy say to his sweetheart in the Grand Canal shops ‘you don’t need to go to Italy, this is much cleaner and nicer than the real thing.’聽I heard a parents聽with young children fighting over if their toddlers should be left playing the slots while they went to play cards.

People spend money on really interesting things.

Again, I knew this, but this past week took it to a whole other level. I spent a day going into the shops along the Grand Canal in the Venetian.

My tactic was to talk to the shop keeper and be honest

“I’m here with my partner on business and I’m bored. You must be bored too…show me your favorite thing in the store?”

Some of the prices blew my mind…the most expensive dress I found was $245,000 it was essentially bedazzled with Swarovski crystals, they rent it for $20k a day.聽There was a painting (that looked to me, and the sales staff, like a blank white canvas with a blue dot) for sale for over $300k. There was a hat that was supposedly worn by Louise, of Louise & Clarke, on display that was for sale for $2m (yup, million). We agreed it looked like a cast off from the set of Indiana Jones.

The most interesting thing I聽found was art carved into mother of pearl. It’s now a necklace, but hundreds of years ago it was a poker chip, used by royalty to bet during card games. The amount of detail just is not captured by this photo. This piece is about the size of a silver dollar and for sale for about $2,500. The history was so interesting and the sales person’s passion contagious. I went back a couple of days to chat with her.

The world of bath products is deep.

The hotel room had the most amazing soaking tub,聽so I went in search of some bath time … um … things? I don’t really buy these sort of things so I don’t even know what I was looking for, salts, oils, bubbles, bombs – something.

I went into a Lush and the staff was completely baffled by my lack of knowledge about their products. I spent over two hours being the guinea pig to a staff of four. They must have tried 100 products on me. In the end they all smelled too artificial for me and I left without making a purchase, though not empty handed as they gave me tons of samples and a list of places to explore off the strip.

I went into three other brands of bath shops, none of them had anything that appealed to my senses. And the cost was shocking, $15 for one bath? Really?

In the end, I wound up at Walgreens where I got myself some聽Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt Bubble Bath for $15 which lasted for 6 baths and was lovely. I burned some oils, listened to music and sat for two hours one afternoon.

There is a hippy village in Vegas.

I asked all of my shop keeper friends where the hippy’s hang out in Vegas. Most of them said that I was in the wrong city, but a couple said I belonged in Container Park. I did some googling and this park lives at the very end of the historic strip where all the flashy old neon is, and it happens to be around the corner from an awesome little Vegan Restaurant. Hippies, old school signage, healthy food? It was time for a field trip off the strip.

Turns out Container Park is a co-op of locally owned shops, including LAYOP clothes (very cool clothing brand) and a pet store where I held a snake!

Between the tree house, adult sized legos, natural sunlight and free wi-fi, I was a very happy hippy. I spent the better part of a day hanging out here.

There is ALWAYS something interesting.

The biggest thing I got out of my week in Sin City was affirmation that there is no such thing as a boring city. If you’re looking for it, you can find something interesting wherever there are human beings.

 

Ritual Intent

 

rit路u路al
藞riCH(o蜑o)蓹l/聽noun
1. a solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a set聽order.

I’ve never thought聽of myself as ‘routine oriented’, however I’m realizing that I have micro-routines. Rituals really. There’s something grounding and calming about doing things in the same order daily. I have a morning ritual that involves an elixir, gratitude, intention setting, meditation and stretching. I have a bedtime ritual that involves a chat with my Partner, reading, games, music and meditation.

Since going nomadic my most precious ritual is Creating a Sacred Space.

My Spiritual time took me to a stream in a Redwood Forrest

For years now I鈥檝e had a weekly spiritual practice where I set aside one day a week to focus on soul expansion, typically Sunday. On this day I do not work and I spend at least a couple of hours doing some activity that expands and feeds my soul. Sometimes I go to a spiritual center, church or group meditation, other times I go hiking or to the beach and meditate. I also use this day to clear out my space, this could mean cleaning my physical home, my calendar, my computer, cleaning up some relationships 鈥 whatever I need to do to go into the upcoming week feeling light, empowered and aligned. I also sage my home and work with my meditation beads, stones and crystals.

I maintain this spiritual practice as a nomad, it doesn鈥檛 always happen on Sunday, but one day each week I focus on soul expansion and cleaning my space. I noticed that I couldn鈥檛 expand my soul or clean my space until I was first grounded, so I added a ritual to ground in each house I stay in.

Every time I arrive at a new house I use this ritual to declare the space as my Home, a safe and supportive space, and lay out a Sacred Space for myself. To do this, I always pack my Woo Woo Bag, a small bag containing spiritual tokens and tools.

Now, this may be too Woo Woo for you鈥o, don鈥檛 do it my way, make it your own! Perhaps you鈥檙e catholic and you use prayer and a small statue of Mother Mary. The actual items, and even the motions, aren鈥檛 where the juice is.

The juice is in the intent.

The intent behind the Creating a Sacred Space Ritual is to create a relationship聽with the space I call home in a way that has me feel safe and connected.

I start by clearing the space.
Sage smudge stick

I burn dried sage. Many people use sage聽to cleanse and usher out bad energy. Sage does this naturally so I allow the herb to its thing and I focus on bringing in the good. Before I went nomadic I used a smudge stick, now I carry loose聽dried sage leaves. As it smokes I speak my intention for the space. If possible I do the entire home, at the least I do my bedroom. Typically the intentions I create for my bedroom include Peace, Connection, Relaxation, Joy, Safety, Coziness, Love. For the kitchen I might say Laughter, Nourishment, Community.

If this is too Woo Woo for you, you may try simply walking through the house and praying over each space, or expressing gratitude.

The intent is to get connected to the space you鈥檙e calling home.

Then I set up my Sacred Space.
My Sacred Spot in Oakland, CA

I have a small collection of stones and crystals I travel with that I lay out. I set up a small oil infuser, a wooden deity that I bought at a temple in Thailand and lay out my two mala beads along with my traveling succulent plant. If I鈥檓 staying awhile I might lay out a scarf or hang a small strand of Tibetan prayer flags. When I look at these things they make me feel grounded.

If this is too Woo Woo for you, there are many other objects you could use. Anything that you associate with your spirituality. It could be a cross, Bible or Koran, even a photo of your family. It鈥檚 the intent.

That’s it.

The whole ritual takes me about 5 minutes.

It鈥檚 a small thing, yet it brings me much comfort and makes a big difference in my ability to relate to each new bed as Home. It gives me a physical location to return to in order to ground my metaphysical self and stay aligned and connected as I roam this planet.

Even if you live in a space permanently, reacquainting weekly will help you not take your space for granted and get connected in a whole new way.

Life can get heavy

You know I’ve put a lot of thought an effort into settling into the Condo. It was a fun part of my adventures that I’m proud of.

What I didn’t account for is weight.
Checked bags have a weight limit of 50 lbs.聽Apparently my carry on has historically weighed about 35-40 lbs and I didn’t realize it was that heavy.

When I filled all the extra space on the Condo with items the new items to support my healthy life on the road. Items like glass bottles of essential oils, two months worth of daily herbal supplements, a bottle of coconut oil for daily oil pulling, stones and gems for spiritual practice… You get the idea. Everything fit easy-peasy. No problem! How deceiving.

When I checked in for my first flight with the Condo聽and stood fingers crossed with Diego, the friendly JetBlue employee, we both held our breath as I hefted it on聽the scale and…

61 pounds.聽Crap. Life can get heavy!

The overage fee? $100. My ticket including the checked bag was $85. Crap.

No way. Diego says.

You can reorganize and make this work. I know I don’t know you, but I can tell, you’re a make it work kinda lady. If you can get 8lbs into your back pack or other bags we can get this through.
For the first time in life I was one of ‘those people’ unpacking my life (literally) in the airport. With Diego’s words in head I did it, I made it bag ladywork. I look like a crazy bag lady, but I made it work. My Condo came in at 49.5 lbs and I’m carrying 11.5 extra pounds in three miscellaneous聽bags.

Diego’s good will stayed with me as security allowed me to carry 12 vials of essential oil through TSA and the gate agents allowed me to carry on my three聽bags, they even laughed with me about the debacle.

I have to point out, it would’ve been easy for the experience to be annoying and make me crabby. Diego’s partnership and encouragement made it a rewarding challenge. He got to set that context for me, in doing so it was excellent customer service and sent me off in a good mood. We’ve all seen the butterfly effect of how a good deed can impact others.

Lessons
  • Always pack an expandable bag
  • Always be friendly, you can never have too many allies
  • Notice and honor when someone sees greatness in you