The Secret, The Dooce Effect, and Travel Plans

I hardly know where to begin. I haven’t written much lately because I’ve been mired in travel planning – I’m up until the wee hours every night doing research and finalizing arrangements – there’s a lot to think about when you are leaving the country for six months. But yesterday I looked at my remaining list of things to do before I leave and I realized I’m going to make it. Almost all the crucial things are done – taxes, powers of attorney, setting up all my bills as drafts or activating online bill paying, etc. Now just the little stuff remains and I decided to take a breather. One of my new friends loaned me the movie “The Secret” so I decided to kick back in my recliner, make a big bowl of popcorn, and enjoy the movie.

This movie is all the rage right now. Oprah has featured it on her show and discussion about it on the Web is rampant. For me the film was just OK. It contained nothing I haven’t known for years. That’s not to say it’s not worth watching. It’s just that I found it to be a rehash of information that was previously examined on the film “What The Bleep Do We Know?“, which I found to be so much better than “The Secret.” The premise of “The Secret” is startling in its simplicity – that we create our reality with our thoughts and our intentions and that there is only one Universal law, the Law of Attraction. In other words, if we dwell on the negative things in our life we will attract more negativity into our lives.

I have always believed that that there are two clouds of energy out there in the ether – a dark, black cloud composed of fear, hate, judgment, envy, despair, sorrow (basically all the negative emotions) and a pure white cloud composed of love, joy, gratitude, willingness, honesty, peace, etc. (all the positive emotions). I believe that if you stay in a positive emotional state – and this is absolutely a choice on everyone’s part – you will draw positive energy to you, while if you dwell on negative emotions you draw negative energy to you. That’s why people who are in debt can’t get out of debt or people who are in abusive relationships continue to choose partners who will abuse them – it’s what they expect so the Universe obliges them.

It is really so very simple once you get it. It’s worked for me throughout my life. My Dad told me recently that Mom used to tell him not to worry about me as I moved around the country trying to find myself because I always seemed to land on my feet. And so I did. I never worried much about money because I always believed it would be there when I needed it, and so it was. I’ve always said that, where business is concerned, everything I touch turns to gold. Employers have always loved having me as an employee. I just seem to make success happen.

On the other hand, I’ve always said that I’ve never had a personal relationship that wasn’t dysfunctional, and so they all were. I justified this with the reasoning that no one person can have it all – I had success in business, so how could I also expect success in my personal relationships? I created my own story. The Universe is abundant – it gave me what I believed. It proved me right. What I thought was absolutely correct.

What I realized recently was that although I had enjoyed some success in business, I’d never really been happy. I hated every job I ever had but by God I went to work every day and put in 12 and 14 hour days because that’s what was “expected” of me. I was even fond of saying, “If I knew what would make me happy I’d go out and do it, but I simply have no idea what would make me happy.” The really strange thing is that I believed this lie so completely that I had forgotten my childhood dreams of being a journalist or a National Geographic photographer – I had completely suppressed those memories. About eight years ago I again began to think seriously about writing – I figured I had at least a couple good books in me. But after working 70 or 80 hours a week I had no energy left to write and I abandoned that dream, too.

It took a fairly serious illness – Chronic Lyme Disease – to wake me up. The Lyme, coupled with stress, had me practically bedridden for six weeks. Suddenly work was the least of my worries. My recovery process was slow and at times frustrating and it required me to travel back and forth between the east coast and Seattle to a Naturopath who specialized in chronic diseases. I was forced to take a long, hard look at my life and realized I had to make some changes. I made a commitment to quit my job no later than the end of 2006. I decided to turn my life over to the Universe with faith that it would give me what I need, asking only that I recognize the path I am supposed to take when it is shown to me.

Within days of deciding to give up my safe, successful career, things began to happen. I suddenly “remembered” that all I’ve ever wanted to do was write, travel, and do photography. Almost immediately a friend told me about a blog that he reads all the time, At the time, I barely knew what a blog is (now I know it’s short for “weblog” – a sort of online journal). Dooce is the brainchild of Heather Armstrong, a disenfranchised Mormon who struggled with post-partum depression after the birth of her child and got fired when her boss in LA discovered she was writing about the company on her blog. I began reading it regularly. I think it is hysterical. In fact, I’m addicted to Dooce. Heather Armstrong is my hero. She now has so many readers that she is able to support the family with the revenue from ads on the site.

And I thought, “Why couldn’t I do that?” I’ve designed a few web sites in my time that have been highly successful, so I wondered – why not do a blog of my own? It took me a couple of months to learn the software and figure out the whole blogging thing, but I finally launched this blog last November. While Heather has a built in audience of Moms and Dads who can relate to her parenting woes and insecurities, I have a built-in audience of baby-boomers who are nearing retirement and are struggling with the very same issues I am facing. Most of them hate their jobs and just want to do something joyful with the rest of their lives.

I did what I promised and left my job this past December 31st. Since then I’ve been making arrangements for a six month trip around-the-world. I leave next Sunday and will be blogging my way across four continents. I like to keep my travel a bit loose – not lock in every place and time, so that I can take advantage of opportunities that arise as I visit new places – but the following is my itinerary as far as it is planned:

  • March 11: Florida to Los Angeles
  • March 12: LA to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. Three or four nights in Saigon, then take the train up the coast, stopping at towns such as Dalat, Danang, My Son and Hue. Then a few days in Hanoi with side trips to Hai Phong and the UNESCO World Heritage site at Halong Bay. Fly back to Saigon on 3/27.
  • March 28: Saigon to Bali, Indonesia. Have hired a private guide, Wayan Sueta for 5 days. I will decide where to spend my remaining time in Bali based on the initial five days of touring
  • April 7-8: Bali to Bangkok, Thailand.
  • April 9-13: Take backpacking trip to Angkor Wat, Cambodia to see the fabulous ruins there, storing baggage at hotel in Bangkok until I return (this is a common and very safe practice in most of SE Asia)
  • April 13-14: Back to Bangkok
  • April 15-16: Depart Bangkok on train for Kanchanaburi to see The Bridge on the River Kwai, again leaving baggage at hotel in Bangkok
  • April 16-21: Back to Bangkok. My house-mate, Joan arrives in Bangkok late on the evening of the 17th. Since this is her first trip to Thailand we’ll stay in Bangkok for a few more days so I can show her around.
  • April 22 – May 16: Joan and I head for the hill tribes in northern Thailand, basing out of Chiang Mai and taking side trips to Chiang Rai, Chiang Saen, the Golden Triangle, Lamphun, and Lampang (all in Thailand), as well as a boat trip up the Mekong to Vientiane, the capital of Laos and perhaps a side trip to Myanmar (Burma) as well.
  • May 17: Back to Bangkok, where Joan heads home to Florida and I continue on to New Zealand
  • May 17-31: Travel around the north and south islands of New Zealand by hop-on/hop-off buses, rental cars, and trains, making sure to take the TranzAlpine express from the west coast to the east coast across the mountains of the south island – this is reputed to be one of the most fabulous train rides in the world.
  • June 1-22: Sydney, Australia. Base at the home of my dear friend, Yoga compatriot, and talented musician, Jane Walker. Travel north to the Great Barrier Reef and south to Melbourne and Adelaide; perhaps even the island of Tasmania if the weather is not too cold. Take a side trip to Ayers Rock in the interior of the continent.
  • June 23-26: Singapore!
  • June 27-30: Fly into Johannesburg, South Africa. Since Johannesburg is perhaps the most dangerous city in the world (notwithstanding Oprah’s recent accomplishments there), I have no desire to even leave the airport, so I fly right back out again for a 3 night/4 day stay at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe/Zambia. During this stay I plan to do a day safari in Chobe Game Park and a night lion walk.
  • June 30- July 4: Back to Johannesburg airport and right back out again to Cape Town, South Africa.
  • July 4-11: Tanzania!!!!!!!! Africa is a lifelong dream for me and I can hardly believe this is happening. I will be on safari in the northern part of Tanzania, where I will visit Mt. Kilimanjaro; Arusha National Park; Lake Manyara National Park; Serengeti National Park; Olduvai Gorge (where the Leakeys found the fossils of early hominids); Lake Natron, with its millions of pink Flamingos; Ngorogoro Crater (I’ll be there at the height of the Wildebeest migration and will see herds numbering in the hundreds of thousands); and ending with one night in a Treetops Lodge in Tarangire National Park.
  • July 11-15: Into the foothills of northern Tanzania, where I will stay in a home in a traditional Maasai village, sharing the chores and living just as they do during my stay.
  • July 15-26: Off to the spice island of Zanzibar, which is technically part of Tanzania, though a world apart from the rest of the country, culturally and geographically. Zanzibar has some of the world’s most spectacular white sand beaches. I will split my time between the capital of Stone Town, with its quaint architecture and fishing village scenery, and a resort at the northern end of the island where the great diving and beaches are located.
  • July 27: Fly into Zurich, Switzerland and spend nearly six weeks in Europe, traveling around by bus, rail, rental car, and plane. Some of the places I’d like to visit include Austria, the Dalmatian Coast (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Montenegro & Serbia), Greece, Italy, Spain (Barcelona and Madrid) and Portugal. I probably will need to shorten this list, but I’m just going to go wherever the wind blows me.
  • September 5: Fly home from Lisbon, Portugal

I have no doubt that many wonderful things will emerge from this trip. There’s a new life out there just waiting for me and I hope you will come along with me on my adventures as I figure it all out. I’ll be blogging and posting lots of photographs – will you be reading?????

6 thoughts on “The Secret, The Dooce Effect, and Travel Plans”

  1. We just couldnt leave your website before saying that we really enjoyed the quality information you offer to your visitors… Will be back often to check up on new stuff you post!

  2. Hey Barb,
    Just spent the last few hours catching up on your blog. Very interesting reading. You have a great talent for writing, and the pictures are great too. Sarasota looks like a nice place to live.
    I too am a list person. I have a few different checklists for trips, depending on the type of trip (golfing, skiing, ect.), and they are the only way to be sure I don’t forget anything.
    But a 6 month trip! It would be a logistical nightmare for me. Sounds like you have a pretty good handle on things though.
    Should be quite an adventure. I’ll be looking forward to your reports.
    Take care,

  3. Wow Barb!!! Sounds like you have a very busy and exciting time ahead of you. I have been to Switzerland before and one place that is absolutely beautiful is a town called Geneva. You should look it up. Eat lots of cheese for me and be safe!


  4. You’re probably wise to leave Joburg, it’s not safe apparently (nothing’s ever happened to me there and I fly there about a dozen times a year), but Johannesburg isn’t a pretty town. How about a Johannesburg to Cape Town flight (prettiest city in the world).

  5. Barb,
    Sounds like a very exciting trip. When you are in New Zealand do me a favor and let me know where all the good surf spots are located. I plan on going there within the next few years.
    I am off to Peru on the 14th. Should be a good time. Probably won’t venture too far from the coast though. Possibly Texas and Lake Tahoe sometime in June and then Nova Scotia again in the fall if everything lines up right.
    Safe travels.

  6. Hi Barbara:
    Oh, please, take me with you. I’ll carry your backpack, give you a massage, bathe your tired feet…I am so envious. But you deserve it all. A trip like this is more than just fun; it is a tremendous learning experience that enriches your life and deepens the understanding of human nature and world existence. Maybe something else will come out of it, too, who knows?
    I’ll be reading your blog as much as my time permits. It is next thing to being there since you write so well.
    If I don’t write again before you leave, have a safe and fabulous journey and we’ll stay in touch through your writing.
    Many hugs and kisses,
    Angie, Bill, Twiggy and Heidi


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