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trisha hadley

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I went to Costa Rica for the beaches, but instead I found freedom.

Do you ever imagine yourself with the perfect job. Something you could do day in and out and enjoy every second. Like, I want to be-a-professional-baseball-player-so-I-can-play-sports-all-day. Or open-a-yoga-studio-because-I-love-tree-pose-that-much job. Maybe become-a-flight-attendant-so-I-can-fly-anywhere-in-the-world-for-free.

We’ve all done it. Imagined exactly what we want to be doing on a daily basis and try to match that to a career. Picked up The 4 Hour Work Week and vowed never to have another traditional 9-5. Yup. I did it. Back in 2011.

And 3 years later I finally understand why. Freedom.

You see, do you really want to be serving-gin-and-tonics-to-overdressed-and-overstressed-executives-in-first-class? God no. You want the freedom to travel anywhere you want, the excitement of seeing new places and interacting with all walks of life. How about run-a-small-business-that-struggles-to-pay-its-bills-every-month? Uh, yeah right. You crave the freedom to do yoga whenever you want and the ability to live a healthy lifestyle on a daily basis. Sure, this may be a little simplistic. But maybe it’s spot-on.

I recently changed careers. Research scientist > software engineer. When I was considering positions in this brand spanking new field, I reflected quite a bit about the core components of what I was searching for, what I was creating. I decided that freedom, in terms of a career, had 3 criteria: financial, physical, and inspirational. Essentially, the ability to support my lifestyle, work remotely, and inspire daily. If a position didn’t have 2 of these 3, I didn’t consider it. 

Does this mean that you can’t be a professional baseball player and still have freedom? Of course not. It’s just a reflection on the why instead of the what. Maybe instead of dreaming up the ‘perfect job’ (read: actually another average job in a field that we think we like), consider the underlying desire. Is that freedom? What are your criteria?

It's cool if you don't know yet. There are some great Costa Rican beaches that I can recommend for some soul-searching.

Flipping the coin: what I really got out of grad school

Grad school saved my life. Whoa. It did. It completely upended my thought process, spun me around a few hundred times, threw a whole slew of new information at my brain and said, "Now go. Change the world."

It certainly changed mine.

Back in college, when I was applying for one of my more exciting educational endeavors known as study abroad (read: adventures that gave me never-ending wanderlust), I remember using the quote “I find the pursuit of knowledge fascinating.” (It’s actually the “learning new stuff” part that gets me, but it just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?) Which is probably why I find myself a continual student of something. Always. Most recently it’s been yoga, German, and now coding. And everything in grad school, of course. But “learning this stuff” didn’t save my life.

And anyway, the world is filled with tools that make this pursuit possible outside of the brick-and-mortar we know as universities. Wikipedia, Kahn Academy, TED. You can find just about anything on YouTube. But the subject matter of my program was very specialized (with a lot of questionable Internet content), and for that I am eternally grateful to each and every one of my teachers — faculty and peers.

Speaking of peers. You guys are seriously incredible.

Speaking of faculty, instructors, guest lecturers. You guys are seriously inspiring. 

You are all blazing trails left and right. Breaking down walls. Abolishing convention. Blowing minds. (Blowing mine, at least.) Integrating. Subtle, but somehow super intense. (Like the integration I was in pursuit of in Rome and Cape Town those oh-so-educational winter breaks.)

Networking is fantastic, and these people make it fun. But they didn’t save my life.

The secret to grad school is kind of like the secret (I’m learning) to coding. It teaches you how to think. It taught me how to think. How to keep an open mind, but be a skeptic. To look at the facts, hard and long. Then, realize there is a horizon beyond them. Allow space for paradigm-shifting content. It will happen at some point, it always does. Then all of the sudden the world is no longer flat. Who would have thought?

This quote by Steve Jobs about his life-changing encounter with LSD pretty much sums it up: “Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it.”

That’s what grad school did for me. Psychedelic insight. It opened my eyes and illuminated my mind. It said, “Hey! There’s a million other ways to do this thing that we’ve until now only done this one way. It might be better, it might be worse, but it exists. Let’s consider it. At the very least, recognize that it exists.” There is an alternative treatment option. There are other places to live in the world. There are many spiritual practices that provide meaning to people. There are other planets, galaxies, perhaps universes.

There is another side to the coin. 

And that, my friend, has made all the difference.

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As I write this I’m realizing that’s exactly what spending time in other cultures does. It flips the coin. So when you’re back at home ordering Greek takeout and dreaming of warmer weather, you might not remember how many goats crossed the road on your trek to lunch or what ridiculously fantastic cuisine you ate at that electricity-less restaurant by the sea or why exactly your rental car mirror was taped on (working hypothesis: rocky, rocky roads), but you do remember that experience. You acknowledge that existence. And maybe it helps you think a little more deeply about the world. 

So I guess that wanderlust isn’t ceasing anytime soon… 

7 Elements Of Conscious, Healthy Travel

Not many places are as inspiring to me as airports. My hypothesis is that it's the rush of travel, excitement of going somewhere new, adventures by the dozen on the horizon. The vast majority of my writing has taken place on airplanes (and it's usually in the Notes app on my iPhone). On my most recent trip to NY, the following materialized. Enjoy. I hope it allows you to travel a bit more consciously, and who knows, maybe airports will become your new mecca of inspiration, too.

1 Hydration -- Go ahead. I give you permission. Actually, I insist. I know it's a $6 bottle of water, but it's also your best travel buddy. Keep your cells happy; fatigue and illness at bay. I always make sure to splurge on a giant bottle of water at the airport. If you do nothing else in this list, do this. (Even if you're not thirsty.) (Yes, both ways.)

2 Immunity -- The very best arsenal against the bombardment of foreign germs waiting for you around the world is your very own immune system. Help it run optimally with a vitamin and nutrient boost. A few days before departure, have a series of green juices. Bring a supplement for daily support while traveling. I'm currently obsessed with these Korres vitamin tablets I purchased while in Greece this past summer. And I am dying to try this new green powder from Aloha for my next trip! Nutrient dense green juice to-go? Yes, please. Staying super healthy while jet-setting? Check.

3 Nutrition -- Snacks. Snacks. Snacks. There's few things I love more than going to Whole Foods and stocking up on a plethora of healthy snacks for upcoming travel. (Too cool for school, huh?) A few of my favorite, easy, items to bring: apples, kale chips, and nuts with sea salt (will help keep you satiated and hydrated!) But seriously, who doesn't want to be snacking on a trail mix complete with almonds, blueberries and dark chocolate while your neighbor picks through a microwaved meal of fake meat and bread wrapped in plastic from 2009? #duh

4 Clean -- Few things rival the cleanliness (err, sea of contained germs) aboard your trusty 747. Some of my go-to ways to stay fresh while galavanting the globe are face wipes, travel-sized castille soap, and washable pillow cases. Baby wipes do wonders for your face, hands, and cell phone screen. For an especially nourishing experience, I absolutely love Josie Maran's Bear Naked wipes (which also donate a portion of proceeds to protecting polar bears affected by global warming -- a small, but meaningful way to offset your travel carbon footprint). Dr. Bronner's castille soap is another inexpensive, natural way to keep your hands and face clean in sub-par airport bathrooms. If you like to bring a neck pillow, make sure it has a washable cover (and wash it!) Do you really want to snuggle up to everywhere that pillow has touched over the years of being dragged through planes, trains, and busses around the world? Exactly.

5 Comfort -- The only rival to the cleanliness of your seat is the comfort it provides. Combat that by wearing comfy, versatile clothes. And layers. The temperature of planes and subways are always variable, often extreme, and generally unpredictable. Being prepared and comfortable will give you the ability to relax and enjoy. I also love to stick a pillow or blanket behind my lower back for extra lumbar support.

6 Rest -- When else do you have 6 hours of uninterrupted me time? Totally disconnected from the constant bombardment of work calls, social media updates, and daily errands? Take advantage of it! Close your eyes. Throw on some chill tunes. If I'm feeling especially anxious or stressed, I'll take a moment to sit straight in my chair, connect my feet to the floor, and place my hands over my chest or heart chakra. Then I'll continue to #7.

7 Breathe -- Travel can create some of the most hectic situations you'll ever encounter. It can also allow for the most peaceful moments of your life. Breathe. Mindfully. Stay disconnected from the digital world and connect to the world around you. Look out the window at 37,000 ft and take it all in. This unique vantage point. Change of perspective. Realize there is always sun above the clouds no matter the weather on the ground. Enjoy its rise. Wonder at the mystery of the world. Soak in its immense beauty. Meditate. Relax. Breathe. Be.

Background image by Sebastian Glasl.