Establishing A Daily Practice

So I’m a little late on this post, but like they say, better late than never. I wanted to bring up something that’s really helped me become a more efficient human – establishing a daily practice/routine.

I’ve always thought of myself as a Type B personality, most at ease when going with the natural flow of things. While this is generally pretty accurate, it led me to also think that I wasn’t the type of person who would benefit from routines and structure – not quite the case. About a year and a half ago, I came across the James Altucher Show, a super intriguing podcast. Hooked, I then read his awesome book, Choose Yourself, (which I would highly recommend). Altucher is a major proponent of addressing four core areas in your life through a daily practice. Let one fall to the wayside, and the rest come tumbling down as well. They are – Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual – I’ve included his table below:


As you can see, the point is to check one box per area, each day. Also, these are just guidelines to be helpful, but I’d encourage anyone to tailor the items to their goals and preferences.

You might be thinking, “this looks awesome in theory, but I’m too busy to add anything else to my schedule.” Don’t worry, I did too, until I tried it one morning.

It took me 10 minutes. Ten. Diez. Dix. You get it.

If you don’t have 10 minutes to spare, you’re either:

a.) President of the United States or b.) Lying 

The key is starting small, building on your small wins, and adding more over time. 

My (basic) daily practice currently looks like this (click on each for more info about getting started):

Most of the time, I also go to the gym, read, play music, etc. But, those are all add-ons. On days where I’m pressed for time, I just make sure the basic list is covered.

You’ll be amazed (as I was) by how much everything else falls into place when you take care of yourself, first.

If anyone has any questions or recommendations, I’m always happy to chat! Good luck with your practice!


2016: A New Year


I was sitting around before work yesterday, looking back on 2015 and taking a self-inventory. What positive changes did I make? Any regrets? Where can I improve in 2016?

If I’m being completely honest, initially, I was disappointed – I didn’t see the transformation I’d hoped for. Where was all the extra money I planned on saving? No new business started yet, still no clue what I want to be when I grow up, etc.

It took me a few minutes, but I began to realize how negative and unrealistic that perspective was/is. I think we’re all guilty of beating ourselves up about the things we didn’t accomplish, instead of giving ourselves some praise for all of the positive steps we did take. With a little change in perspective, my 2015 began to look a lot better. Some personal highlights:

  • Visited 4 new countries
  • Began teaching myself the piano
  • New job
  • Started learning Portuguese
  • Gave up drinking
  • Started a blog
  • Added meditation to my daily routine

You get the idea. In an ideal world, I’d have become fluent in Portuguese, mastered the piano, traveled the world, etc. But, that’s not realistic. We need to celebrate the small victories, as they turn into the big changes if we give them time – i.e. 1 new blog post a month might not seem like much, but next year I’ll have 12 more than I started with.

Another example: instead of committing to the uphill battle of losing 25 pounds for 2016, commit to one small action everyday towards the goal of a healthier lifestyle. We’re more likely to sustain the action and build on it if we set our sights smaller in the beginning. Losing 1 pound every 2 weeks (which is extremely attainable) would net you 26 pounds by the year’s end.

Here’s a book that helped me tremendously in setting goals and creating lasting habits for 2015 and beyond (Amazon link below in case you’re interested).

Mini Habits


Cheers, 2016. I’m looking forward to a great year ahead.

Eurotrip ’15

When trying to decide what my next post would be about, I was a bit stuck. October was a busy month for me, with a ten-day trip to Europe planned smack dab in the middle. In an effort not to overload my plate, I hadn’t committed to learning something new for the month (which is kind of the point of this blog). But, as I was struggling to come up with an idea, it hit me – why not talk about my trip? There’s no other thing that I’ve done that pushes one’s limits like travel. It’s the ultimate teacher. Struggling to learn a new language? Bad with directions? Go get lost in Central America and I guarantee you’ll figure out a way to improve both pretty quickly. What choice do you have but to learn and adapt to your surroundings? There was an old guy named Charles Darwin who had similar thoughts:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

So, about this trip.

There were six of us, and our itinerary was: fly into Dublin, fly to Lagos (Portugal), drive to Lisbon, fly to Barcelona, and back to Dublin to fly home. Incredible as the experience was, there were inevitable moments of discomfort that we all encounter when traveling. This got me thinking.

Some uncomfortable truths of travel:

  • Dorm rooms in hostels. Don’t take this one the wrong way. I love hostels and use them on all of my trips. But, no matter how awesome the rest of the place is, there is nothing comfortable about sleeping in a room with 7 other adults, in bunk-beds.
  • Nothing fits. This is true in a few different ways. You need converters for electrical outlets, monetary values fluctuate and currencies change from country to country, clothing fits differently, etc. Coming from the US, we also have the added annoyance of converting everything from the Metric System (which, by the way, is so much easier).
  • Long plane/train/bus/car rides suck and there’s no way around it. Until we’re able to teleport, we’re stuck with crying babies, crappy movie selections, motion sickness, and middle seats.


Ok, enough complaining. The great thing about the aforementioned annoyances is they make the amazing parts of travel that much better. On to the good stuff.

  • Dublin, Ireland

We flew in and out of Dublin, so in total we had about a day and a half to explore. Staying at the Kinlay House Hostel, we were within walking distance of all the best spots in the Temple Bar district. Everything about the city was great – tons of history, cool pubs/restaurants, and last but not least, super friendly people. For being a major international capital, it had a unique vibe, unlike any place I’d ever been.

Highlights: St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin Castle, Temple Bar, Copper Face Jack’s


  • Lagos, Portugal

Wow. This was one of the most beautiful places I think I’ll ever have the pleasure of  seeing in person. All the way at the southern tip of Portugal, and not far from the city of Tangier in northern Morocco, lies the small city of Lagos. Hand-tiled streets and buildings made way to breathtaking coastal cliffs, with blue-green waters below. We stayed for three days, and I probably took about three-hundred pictures (none of which do this place justice).

Highlights: Relaxing on cliffside beaches, Eating fresh seafood, Enjoying the nightlife


  • Lisbon, Portugal

We headed up the coast from Lagos in a rental van, towards the capital city of Lisbon. What I thought would be a three-hour drive turned into six, full of winding coastal roads, overlooking cliffs below. As we crossed over the beautiful Tagus River and took in our first glimpse of the city, I was immediately impressed. Everyone in our group was blown away by the architecture and gritty character of the city. Wrought-iron lattices adorned worn in buildings, tram cars zipped by, cafes were nestled in streets barely wider than the span of my arms, fingertip-to-fingertip. On my list of places to get back to asap.

Highlights: Alfama, The Food – Pasteis de Nata, Bread & Cheese,Sunset Destination Hostel, Carmo Convent Ruins & Museum


  • Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona was the impetus for the whole trip – my little sister is spending a semester abroad, and my brother and I wanted to take some time off and go visit her. A quick flight from Lisbon, we rolled into Las Ramblas and found our hostel, right off the main strip, in the bustling Placa Reial. Barcelona was a completely different experience than Lisbon, feeling more modern and much larger than the Portuguese capital. Hundred (plus) million dollar yachts lined the harbor, Catalan flags hung from balconies, and paella. So. Much. Paella. We had a blast, and it was great to be able to share that experience with my brother and sister.

Highlights: Las Ramblas, The Gothic Quarter, Chupitos, Opium

Side note: Back in Dublin, we were lucky enough that our last day overlapped with my parents’ first twenty four hours of their trip to Europe. Cross “Having a Guinness with my parents in Ireland” off the bucket-list.

All in all, a great time. I’d highly recommend every one of our stops, although Dublin and Lisbon really impressed me. It won’t be long until I start planning my next adventure – any and all suggestions are welcome.

Language Learning – 1 Month to Portuguese


There are roughly 7,100 living languages in the world – holy shit.

Learning a new language (in my opinion) is one of most fascinating, but difficult things to do. I’ll never forget the overwhelming dread that I felt after landing in Nicaragua in 2011, when I realized that I had no ability to communicate, even after taking 6 years of Spanish classes in school. Sure, I remembered some vocab and small phrases, but I couldn’t have a meaningful interaction with anyone past “Hola! ¿Cómo estás?” Fast forward to 2 months later, and I was tutoring at a local elementary school, completely in Spanish. I wasn’t, nor am I currently, perfect when it comes to my Spanish skills. But, how the hell did I learn so much more in 2-3 months than I did in 6 years? The answer lies in actually speaking the language.

With little to no English being spoken, I was forced to start speaking Spanish from day one. Most of my sentences were caveman-like and the equivalent of “How get there?” and “Me need food,” but I was communicating. With each embarrassing exchange – i.e. the time I asked a server if the restaurant accepted dolores (pains) instead of dolares (dollars) – I improved. Without the ability to speak one’s native tongue, the path to learning a new language is much more rapid and direct. Armed with this knowledge, and with an impending trip to Portugal, I decided to see how quickly I could learn Portuguese. (Hint: It’s longer than 1 month.)

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the option of immersion by way of living in a Portuguese-speaking country, so I was forced to employ other strategies. I’d previously heard about an app called Duolingo from a friend and decided to check it out. For a free app, it’s pretty awesome and makes the learning process fun/interactive. Additionally, lifehacker and serial entrepreneur, Tim Ferriss, has invested a few bucks into the program, and mentions it in a few of his blog postings dedicated to language-hacking.

One of Ferriss’ posts actually led me to the very helpful Fluent in Three Months – a blog authored by an Irish guy named Benny, who claims it only takes 3 months to conversational confidence in a new language. Here’s a video of him speaking eight. 

Anyhow, Fluent in 3 Months is very promotive of a language exchange website called Italki. Here, one can find partners (free) or teachers (paid) to practice with via Skype – I signed up immediately and friended a few native Portuguese speakers. Equipped with some basic, and I mean basic, Portuguese, I logged into Skype and connected with my new Brasilian language partner. Cue the caveman speak (it felt like I was back in Nicaragua all over again). Three weeks (and multiple Skype sessions) later, I’m feeling pretty good about my ability to at least have basic interactions when I get to Portugal.

My process so far has been:

-Duolingo 2-3x per week for about 20 minutes
-1 Hour Italki/Skype Session 1-2x per week (30 minutes totally in Portuguese/30 in English)
-Listening to Portuguese podcasts and music as often as possible

The Italki sessions are the most beneficial, however, Duolingo helps with my vocab, and the podcasts/music are my way of mimicking “immersion.” Anything audio related also helps by showcasing correct pronunciation, which is crucial in the nascent stages of language learning.

I’ll check back in after my trip, and I’m sure that I’ll have some embarrassing stories to share with you. Tchau!

Experiment #1: A Month Without Alcohol

In life, there are good and bad times for soul-searching. A three-hour, solo road trip with a severe hangover is probably a bit of both, but really, it’s unavoidable. Sunday Scaries, anyone? Driving back from a family wedding in early August, I was trying to piece the previous night together. Thoughts like, “How the hell did I get back to the hotel?” to “Where did all of my cash go?” were coming and going, unanswered. I happened to be listening to a Tim Ferriss (4-Hour Work Week, etc.) podcast, when I remembered part of a previous challenge he’d issued to his blog readers – No Alcohol for a Month.

Anyone that knows me knows that I’m prone to making impulsive decisions, but this seemed like a no brainer. Coupling this with the fact that I couldn’t even think about drinking without also thinking about vomiting, I decided at that moment to begin the challenge. When I finally got home, I did a little research and found a handy app called “I’m Done Drinking,” to track my days, money & calories saved, and drinks not consumed. Here are the results, and my thoughts, post-challenge:


(Wow. I wanted to smack myself after seeing these)


It’s pretty obvious that cutting back on booze will lead to an increase in overall health. What I didn’t realize is how dramatic the changes would be, or how quickly I’d start to notice them. In the past month, I’ve experienced an uptick in energy levels, better sleep, positive changes in body composition, a more stable mood and overall mental well-being – the list could go on and on.


For someone who enjoys getting an early start to their day, this was one of the most beneficial aspects of the challenge. It only took me a few days to get into the habit of waking up a few hours before work to hit the gym, meditate, get in some reading – all things that were cut out of my schedule on mornings where I’d been out the night before.


Now that I know how much money I’d been spending on alcohol throughout any given month, it’s hard to justify continuing. I was pretty conservative when setting up the parameters on the “I’m Done Drinking” app, and I was still blown away by the numbers. The app also doesn’t factor in drinking-associated spending like Ubers, late-night food, hungover food, etc.  With the roughly $12,000 saved over the course of a year, I could: pay off my car, buy a new Macbook, take a few international trips, rent a bounce castle. I think you get the picture.

Final thoughts:

This was honestly much easier than I initially expected. My biggest test was attending a friend’s wedding at the end of my month. I won’t lie, there were a number of times that I felt extremely awkward not drinking (i.e. on the dance floor), where I’d normally use the effects of alcohol to feel more socially uninhibited. Those moments passed, and were extremely helpful in providing me some perspective/my biggest takeaway from the challenge/the idea for this blog:

In order to grow, I/we need to get away from what’s “comfortable”

My goal, and the point of this blog, will be to pick something new every month that forces me outside of my comfort zone – i.e. playing an open mic, dance classes, starting conversations with ten strangers a day. With a trip to Dublin, Portugal, and Spain coming up in October, I’ve decided to try language-hacking Portuguese for the next month. I’ll check in once a week with updates on my progress and thoughts on the experience. Be forewarned: