Digital Nomad_Andrew Neel

Leading A Digital Nomad Life

“I am a digital nomad”

I kept on hearing this phrase bandied about in recent times and it intrigued me. Basically, a digital nomad is someone who uses telecommunication technologies to earn a living, and more specifically, to lead a nomadic lifestyle.  I loved the idea of freedom the lifestyle entailed.

Earlier this year, I was going through some soul searching about what I wanted to do next in terms of my career.

I had been ‘on the go’ for the last 12-15 years running my own retail business. Subsequently, I pretty much went straight back into corporate life which lasted the past couple of years. The pace was challenging as I was still in the process of winding my old business down.  In July 2017, feeling quite burnt out, I decided to leave corporate work and was grateful to have the chance to take some time out to decide on what to do next.

One thing was clear, I wanted work location freedom in my next career.

Realising this, I asked myself what I could possibly do next that would allow me to have the sort of flexibility I required. Funnily enough, that was when I started to read or hear about “digital nomads”.

Co-Working and Co-Living

I like to travel and experience living in another city or country. Luckily, my previous work experience allowed me conduct work trips to London where I often stayed with family whilst making short sourcing trips to Milan and Florence.

Staying with family or friends provides a different perspective of the city compared to being in a hotel. Personally, it was a fantastic experience being a part of the daily activities that my family members led in their lives. Whether it was visiting the farmer’s market, contributing to the household chores, meeting other people who live in the area or city, visiting ‘the local’ for a meal and such, these experiences added another dimension to my stay.

I began to wonder if it’s possible to find a career where I could earn a decent income and work remotely. It didn’t have to be in Singapore, it could be anywhere. With the rise of the Internet, working from anywhere is possible for most jobs with video conferencing calls and communication apps to manage projects and teams.

Running my own business provided some form of autonomy. There were perks like coming home mid-afternoon from the shop or booking a mat for a quick yoga class before heading to the store.   But underneath that perceived freedom of “being your own boss”, I worked ‘retail hours’. That meant being in the shop till 10pm for closing, waking up at 7am to go in early to ‘dress’ the store for an event, or working weekends and festive holidays because your staff needed a break.

While the flexibility was there, technically I was tied ‘physically’ to the store and this wasn’t quite my idea of freedom.

During my recent trip to Bali, I found out about a whole community of digital nomads based there. Companies like ROAM offer co-living spaces for people who just want to travel the world while working on their businesses.

 

Co-working spaces as featured in ROAM.CO

Source: Co-working spaces as featured in ROAM.CO

 

With ROAM locations in London, Bali, Tokyo and Miami, travellers can choose where they want to be based and for whatever length of time.

It was an eye-opening experience to discover what is possible.  The concept of co-working and co-living is a growing phenomenon, and after talking to the good folks at ROAM,  I believe leading a digital nomad life IS possible.

Now to MAKE it happen. Onwards we go!

 

 

Being Sattvaa, Ubud, Bali

Yoga Retreat at Being Sattvaa, Ubud

Recent news regarding Mount Agung in Bali brought back my memories of the beautiful island and its people, in particular, the magical yoga retreat experience I had while staying at Being Sattvaa in Ubud.

The island of Bali, especially Ubud, has always held a special place in my heart. I don’t know why, but each time as soon as I arrive, I feel a sense of peace and belonging.

Bali is a very spiritual place and every time after each visit, I wish I could stay longer.

In July 2017, I found myself back in Ubud on an 8-day trip (the longest I have ever stayed in Bali) of which 5 days were at Being Sattvaa, a gorgeous boutique hotel where the yoga retreat would be held. It was the fulfilment of a 3 year promise to myself that I attend a yoga retreat on my next visit to Bali.

Being Sattvaa Entrance

Welcome to Being Sattvaa

Upon arrival, I was entranced by the whole ambience of the resort. The brainchild of Subba and Renuka Vaiyadnathan, Being Sattvaa was designed intentionally to create a space where guests could focus on healing themselves spiritually and physically.

The days passed by all too quickly, we had morning yoga sessions that started at 7am, followed by yoga sutra (aphorisms) where we would discuss the philosophy of life based on the works of Sage Patanjali.

In the afternoon, we had some free personal time before attending another round of  yoga. This session was slower in pace so that our instructor could explain in greater detail the various asanas taught.

After an early dinner, there was a meditation session before we all called it a night. Personally, it was one of the best parts of my day. Sitting in such a contemplative, beautiful, quiet space, I went to bed each night feeling very much at peace.

Meditation at Being Sattvaa

Meditation before bed

 

Our retreat leaders

Our yoga instructor, was the gorgeous Ira Trivedi, a best selling author and yoga acharya. Ira writes fiction and non-fiction, with the latter focusing on women and gender issues in India.

Yoga sutra was led by ex-banker turned philosopher and mindfulness coach, Subba Vaiyadnathan. During our sessions, Subba led the discussion on how we can deal with the challenges in life by understanding the work of Sage Patanjali. We also learned meditation techniques to help us find balance in our busy daily lives.

Ira and Subba

Ira Trivedi and Subba Vaiyadnathan

 

3 of my most memorable experiences from this retreat

1. Meditative Night Walk

This was conducted one evening along Campuhan Ridge.

The place held a particular significance for me as the last time I was there was on my father’s 70th birthday in October 2014.  Dad, my cousin and his wife, and I did the little walk across the ridge one afternoon. My cousin’s wife and I were quite close, and she was the one who introduced the spirituality of Bali to me. Many of my trips over the years back to Bali were together with her.

Sadly, she passed away a year ago and this place brought back many memories. I felt her spirit with me as I walked the ridge that night. It was magical.

Campuhan Ridge walk

My cousin’s wife and I on Campuhan Ridge, October 2014

 

During that night, I had a very bizarre dream.

I dreamt my laptop had a virus that deleted everything on it, including the operating system. In desperation, I called a number that I was given to ask for help. A friendly voice asked what he could help me with and that was when I woke up. What a totally woo-hoo moment!

Prior to making the trip, I was on a MASSIVE de-cluttering phase, doing the “Marie Kondo” thing on my wardrobe, shredding old documents and archiving my old business stuff.  On hindsight, it made a lot of sense as I had come to the retreat to rest and heal, and to take some time out for some soul searching. Perhaps it was my subconscious reaffirming that I would always have ‘help’, and that it was safe for me to wipe the slate clean?

 

2. Yoga Sutra Class

Unlike other sessions previously, this one was special as it was conducted in the temple under the majestic banyan tree. I think the photos below speak for themselves.

Yoga Sutra by Being Sattvaa

Yoga Sutra at Telaga Waja Temple

 

Telaga Waja Temple

Telaga Waja Temple

3. Mind-blowing Vegetarian Food

Being Sattvaa is a vegetarian resort, and in fact during our retreat, the fabulous Chef Wayan prepared only vegan meals for our group. In all my life, I have never had vegan food for 5 days in a row. I thought I wouldn’t last, succumbing to a sneaky visit out to Ubud centre for a meal of babi guling! But I did stay the course, emerging none the worse for wear.

Actually, I found myself thinking on my last day at the resort how on earth was I going to continue maintaining this diet?

Vegan food at Being Sattvaa

Being vegan was so easy here!

 

I’ve just found out  when the next retreat will be. When was the last time you had some time out for yourself?

Stop Procrastinating

Austin Chan Unsplash

Source: Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

 Hello World!

After loads and loads of thinking, I’ve decided to stop procrastinating, get my act together and just start writing. This little blog project has been on the back burner for some time (how about years) and as with all undertakings, it’s a matter of intention and discipline to just stuff it and get things moving.

What inspired me? Watching Gary Vaynerchuk’s video  “A 5 Minute Plea To Do”.

The bit where he said stop reading all the Seth Godin books, just stop pondering, reading Medium, attending courses and going to conferences – it’s all about taking action and just doing; it totally resonated with me.

I am a life long learner and I am constantly reading, learning, researching about all sorts of things that interest me. Yet I have nothing much to show for it. So it’s time to start DOING and TAKING ACTION.