Do you ever work? Are you ever home? It must be nice to take off to another country and leave all your worries behind. Wow, you must have no stress!
These are all questions and comments I hear quite regularly. This morning, I woke up to four such comments on social media. I’m sure folks mean well and are just trying to be funny. The fact is, it’s a little off-putting. Yes, I come to Thailand a few times a year for six or seven weeks each time. Yes, it’s fantastic! Yes, it’s beautiful! Yes, it’s totally worth it! No, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies.
I work six days a week in Thailand. Due to the 14-hour time difference, I start work at 4:00am, which is 2:00pm in Seattle where my business is located. Waking up so early gives me time to respond to my customers on the same day as their requests, take care of any employee concerns, work on scheduling, etc. So while my friends in Thailand are up partying until 2:00am, I’m the one who makes sure I’m in bed by 10:30 each night so I can get at least 5 hours of sleep before work. It’s a common joke when meeting friends for coffee each morning that I’ve already worked six hours before they’re even awake. I reserve Sundays and Mondays (Saturdays and Sundays in the U.S.) for fun days like diving or other excursions before I start working again Monday night. It’s just how I make do and it works for me. This small sacrifice allows me the opportunity to work while watching the sunrise each morning, keep my customers happy, and go on adventures in the afternoon. This is how I live as a digital nomad.
I still fully run my company while I’m gone. I still have all the stresses of being a business owner and employer… but from nearly 8000 miles away. When an employee gives notice, leaving you high and dry, you make do with what you have, trying to conduct interviews online at 4:00am so everything doesn’t fall apart. When someone takes your company car without permission and wrecks it… you do what you can from 8000 miles away. It’s just like working from home, but with flip flops and a lot more hurdles.
Woe is me? Not even close!
Luckily, I have a partner at home who takes care of all the household stuff and is even coordinating our master bathroom remodel, which is almost finished! We stay connected by talking every day, sending photos and staying close. He’s a terrific partner who has listened through my tears and reminds me of my accomplishments while encouraging me to “kick some ass”. I truly am blessed. And let’s face it, missing each other is really good for our marriage.
I miss my adult children. I miss my family. I miss my closest friends. I miss getting my hair done and having a good pedicure. I miss knowing what each scent in the air is at home, and big hint, it’s not raw sewage or burning plastic. I miss not having to check my bed for creepy crawlies before climbing in. Hell, I miss putting toilet paper in the actual toilet. But I don’t miss mass consumerism. I don’t miss politics. I don’t miss living in a country where everyone assumes your religious or political beliefs are identical to their’s. I don’t miss racism. I certainly don’t miss the rain. Mainly, I miss my people and my dogs.
This little ex-pat community I live in, Kantiang Bay, is filled with people doing the same thing. Most aren’t working at 4am, but each of us has found what it takes to make this nomadic life work best. Interestingly, what we all have in common, is that we’re all doing THE THING. You know The Thing? It’s the thing everyone dreams of doing some day, but most never do. In this ex-pat community, we’ve all chosen a life of travel, adventure, beauty, and often chaos.
Many of my ex-patriot friends are here six months at a time. Some are here indefinitely. Some have no idea how long they’ll stay. All make it work. Some are Dive Instructors, Dive Masters, Dive Photographers or manage dive shops. Some follow the dive seasons around the globe. Some are retirees. Some own bars or restaurants. Some work their asses off for six months in their home country and then come here to chill for six months. Like me, some are digital nomads who rent a house in Thailand year-round and come back as their schedule allows. But what we ALL have in common is that we were all brave enough to do THE THING.
Sure, it’s a pain in the ass sometimes. Even as I type this, the power has gone off about 10 times in 30 minutes. No power = No WiFi. The phrase, “Oh, Thailand” is one I use at least a few times a day. But when I’ve pulled an 8-hour work day before noon and then have the rest of the day to do whatever I want in this tropical paradise, it’s all worth it.
If you’ve ever considered a part-time move, I highly encourage it. You don’t have to chuck it all to live in paradise or to do The Thing. You just have to pull up your big-girl panties and go for it! Give it a try. Plan a trip. Read up on the Visa situation for whichever country you’re interested in. Try not staying in a posh hotel where they make your bed and clean for you. Get a place with a kitchen. Fully immerse yourself in a new, maybe temporary life, to see if it can work for you. And make sure you have a great WiFi connection.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” ~ Mark Twain