I think apologies are in order. No, no, not you to me. I owe YOU an apology.
I thought I was being honest with you
You see, I have always tried to tell you the truth about my life. I have tried not to hold anything back…even my finances.
I thought I was revealing myself through my wit and story craft
By giving you Travel Narratives I thought my personality would shine through when you read about my adventures in far off lands (well far off for you). I worked hard to embarrass myself, or share stories that might get me fired from work, accounts of when I almost died, and even times when I have saved others from dieing.
I thought that you would get updates on my Facebook Page
You see, I started my Facebook Page to help fill in the gaps here in on my website. There is no way I can post every place I visit, every strange thing that pops into my head, or every wonderfully odd picture I take. Trust me, if I posted everything that came into my head you would get overwhelmed and would run for the digital hills.
I thought you weren’t interested in learning more about my life
Sure, you might say your interested, but really you just want to read pretty words, look at beautiful pictures, and discover wild adventures. But it turns out that many of you want to know me better, and that the details of my life abroad are in fact interesting to you. All I can say is:
Thank you and I’m Sorry
Many people believe that saying sorry is a sign of weakness, or that it signals that you were wrong and thus you deserve to be blamed. Many people at work think that saying sorry is a liability. That Evil Bob will use it against you to get ahead, get the higher paycheck and score with the cute secretary. But really, you never had a chance with the cute secretary. Plus all she is interested in is your money so let Bob lose it all while you work on making your life better, happier, and filled with people who love you.
Starting today I’m going to start giving you more personal updates, let you in on the ups and downs of living this kind of lifestyle. I’m actually going to tell WHAT this type of lifestyle is!
Take a Deep Breath and Let’s get Started
A few months ago I offered my advice on how to Manage Uncertainty- Don’t. Instead of freaking out about losing my job at the same time my first son was born, I took a different route. I decided to enjoy and be thankful for what I had, rather than worry about what I didn’t. Many of you are probably wondering how that worked out for me.
Today I’m here to shine some light onto my life for you, and show you what has happened in an incredibly short but eventful 3 months. At the very least you can guess that I still have internet access, but are we homeless, are we able to pay the bills, are we still in Japan mooching off my parent’s in law?
The Baby and Japan
First things first! On June 22nd, 2011 we welcomed Kaito Andrew Yamagiwa Wassel into the world. He is by the far the best thing that has every happened to me in my life. After spending 2 wonderful months living in Japan with him, we moved back to Kosovo (more on that below). He did great on the 11 hour flight from Japan, 4 hour layover, and 2 hour flight from Vienna to Prishtina. Soon we are heading for a family vacation to Greece. That means he’ll have 3 countries under his belt in 3 months…such a good little traveler
Living with your in-laws can be difficult in general. But living with in-laws in a different country and in a different language is especially difficult. Our visit could have turned into a darker Lost in Translation but it didn’t. My Japanese Parents are wonderful people and we all had a great time. It was not all roses and I did get tired of a strict structure of Japanese living. But we managed and learned to find the gems amongst the stress.
At times I had to work, even though I was not getting paid (more about that below). We were exhausted at times due to lack of sleep. Although, in general Kaito is a mild mannered kid who seems happy with his lot in life. I also used the time to see more of Japan and catch up with friends.
Work and Kosovo-Getting Paid to Hike
Not having a source of income and welcoming a new baby to the world can be stressful. Insurance, international flights, and buying expensive baby items can make any worry. Instead of stressing I took action. I worked to finalize the Hiking and Nature Tourism Guide to Dragash, Kosovo. It will be available (right here!) around September 19th. We were always committed to returning to Kosovo even if a job was not waiting. After all, we left our stuff in our apartment and let’s face it, living in Kosovo is MUCH cheaper than living in Japan without a job.
Working for free has paid off and I’m happy to say I’m about to enter into a new contract with the United Nations in Kosovo. The twist is that I’m now blending my travel writing with my peacebuilding work. Sounds impossible…right? I will be taking the hiking guide a step further and will develop a rural tourism and mountain strategy for Dragash, Kosovo. I’ll be working with the UN and the Municipality to develop strategies to increase tourism and protect their natural assets at the same time. Basically, I’ll be getting paid to hike and write. This consultancy is a direct result of this site (ToddsWanderings.com, yes, this little website right here!) and my willingness to take action for free with the guide book.
I will also be helping the UN to manage the change in my old peacebuilding program in Northern Kosovo. If you have been paying attention to news recently this summer has been difficult up there (riots in the North). I’ll be evaluating the past 3 years of work and helping them with raising 11 million dollars (yes, you read that correct) for the program that I co-developed on my last contract.
So, I have “stability” until March 2012. After that I have no idea what will happen. I have plans (yes, you will be hearing about them soon) to take this site to the next level. I’ll need your help as this site is nothing without you. Well, that is not true. It is still something, but it would be a lonely, sad place without your sexy, well traveled, and witty eyes.
It All Works Out in the End
So, what are the lessons you should take away from this post. I’ll be so bold (yes, it is my site) as to offer a few myself, but I’d love to hear your thoughts down in the comments.
1) Don’t worry about what you don’t have and instead focus on what is in hand. You’ll just waste energy that can be used to enjoy what is around you.
2) Work hard on the opportunities you do have. I could have complained about working for free but instead I focused on providing value.
3) If you work hard and are passionate about something you will attract attention and work.
4) Without my website none of this would have been possible.
5) My son is super cute.
6) Everything in life is not as simple as it is sometimes presented on this Blog (due to editorial constraints). My wife and I have been tired, we have fought, we have snapped at each other, I have been stressed by lack work, she has been stress by lack of work etc etc etc. But through it all, everything has worked out in the end.
So, what are your lessons from this adventure? Do things really work out in the end or am I just a biased upper middle class American who had the world handed to him?
Photo Credits: Bowing in Japan, My Son