Capture the Things that Move You

w4gcapture - 1I have a love hate relationship with my smart phone and my computer. One minute I want to hurl them both off a cliff, and then two minutes later, I accidentally drop one of them or forget one in a restaurant, and my breath gets caught in my throat, and I suddenly feel like my life is going to end.

There are lots of reasons to hate the technology that surrounds us every moment of every day. But, then again, there are lots of reasons to love it too. Maybe you’re firmly in one camp? Or maybe you straddle the technology lover/hater line like I do.

I love that technology allows me to live an untethered life. That my work can travel. That I can literally have an office wherever my laptop can go, and I can easily stay connected to the people I love. I wrote Upgrade Unlocked while eating pad thai in the street in Bangkok. I’ve written thousands of words from 37,000 feet in the sky. I’ve Facetimed into family holiday gatherings from far aways squares in Cambodia and Colombia. I’ve even been known to hike into the forest with my computer and my hammock when I need to get away to a “quiet” office to think. I’ve been able to build the life I have because the world is more connected than ever.

Yet, sometimes I miss the days when my computer was as big as the desk it sat on, and there was no chance that I’d ever try to pack it in my carryon for a trip around the world. I miss the days when a vacation was a vacation, when you checked out paper books from the library, and going out with friends included more time spent in deep conversations than in checking in and live posting every moment from the evening on instagram or snapchat. I miss the days when my friends were in my neighborhood and stopped by for a cup of coffee rather than liking the picture of my coffee in my social feeds.

As my new year has been starting out, I’ve been contemplating this paradox. I want to make sure I’m living fully in the real-life present, and using technology as a tool to capture the memories I want to keep, rather being captive to them–living tethered to my phone and awarded for my loyalty with notifications of pavlovian likes.

This year, I will choose to be at my sister’s wedding, rather than live stream it to Facebook. I will choose to share dinner conversation with my friends rather than posting the play by play demolition of our magnificent four course kale salad on instagram.

I will be present in the moments.

I will capture the moments that move me.

I will share memories.

I will not make memories for the sake of sharing.


If you don’t see me online every minute of every day this year, don’t worry. I haven’t died. It’s just a sign that, I have rather chosen to live, a little differently.

I hope you will join me. I think we’ll all be a little happier this way.




Choosing Joy and Lessons from the Universe

The universe has been trying to teach me a life lesson lately: Being happy is my choice when things aren’t going my way.

This isn’t a new lesson, I’ve been learning it for at least 30 odd years, but lately it just seems to be smacking me in the face.

Sitting by a fireplace with a friend, a story and a steaming Americano this morning I was feeling good as I shared how the universe and I were finally making peace with this lesson.

You see, last month when I was wandering my way around Asia I was carrying a lot of baggage. Usually most of my baggage is in my head, but this trip I was carrying it in the form of suitcases- overstuffed and overweight.

If you watched the Become a Travel Hacker course on CreativeLIVE you know that checking baggage is against my publicly preached principles of “travel hacking packing” (even if it means fighting a gate-check battle and carrying my stuff  in a trash bag). But here’s a big confession: sometimes I just don’t feel like schlepping stuff and against my best judgment I leave my bag to the fate of the airlines.

On a recent quick trip from Singapore to Bangkok I was flying on a business class award ticket and was transiting between two of the most efficient airports on the globe (the odds were in my favor). My bag had slowly been growing full of winter clothes I’d been acquiring in Asian markets along my journey in preparation for wintering in my new American home (details coming soon) and was weighing in at nearly 18kg. (Yes, a little too heavy to lift with ease into an overhead bin). Against all of my best judgment and frequent flyer know-better I checked my bag.

This all felt good, until the moment about one hour after my flight when I was standing empty handed at Baggage Claim Number 4 in BKK airport staring at an empty baggage carousel spinning under a sign flashing LAST BAG.

My bag was lost. I wasn’t as angry with the airlines as I was with myself. I know better. I waited a few minutes with some expectation that it would materialize, but finally reconciled myself to the fact that I would be baggage-less in Bangkok. I went to the lost baggage area, filed a claim and tried to ‘mai pen rai’ smile in the very Thai way while my ugly-entitled-American self simmered centimeters below the surface. I wanted my stuff. Not now, but 30 minutes ago.

I left the luggage office feeling defeated. I had planned for 48 hours of fun in my favorite Asian city of angels and I was destined to spend it on the phone with Thai Airways organizing baggage location and delivery (not fun).

Walking back through baggage claim, I noticed an art installation on the wall and paused beneath a beautiful blue Buddha painting. It caught my attention like the painting was saying, “Stephanie, stop and take a breath. “

I stopped. I took a picture of it. I Instagrammed the picture (because BKK airport is the most Instagrammed location in the world and I want to feel like I’ve contributed to that). And in that moment I had this very thought:

You can let not having a bag ruin the two days you have to reconnect and eat sticky rice and mango, or you can choose to walk out of this airport and be glad you’re here and alive.

I chose joy.

Instantly my step was lighter. As I passed by baggage claim number four on my way to the exit the craziest thing happened. The universe delivered my suitcase to the empty carousel with perfect synchronicity. It was as if the world was secretly cheering for me “Yeah Stephanie! You passed the test. You chose happiness. You get your bag back.”

As I recounted this exact story by the fireside this morning, I got trapped in my ego again for a moment, “Way to go, Stephanie, good thing you mastered that lesson. You’re pretty awesome. The world can’t get you down. You’ve got this!”

And then my friend left and I opened my opened my email to this message: Your American Airlines Flight tomorrow has been canceled due to bad weather. You will not be going home for the holidays tomorrow (or probably ever because air travel in America is cursed).

The Universe whispered, “Test time again. You can spend the next 43 minutes sending hate tweets about airline incompetence or you can practice your joy while you wait on hold.”

I managed to eek out some happiness while humming to the reservation line hold music and I think I passed with at least a B+. Tomorrow I’ll be transiting tropical Chicago in lieu of icy Dallas. If my next test comes in the form of a mid-western blizzard that traps me in the windy city, you’re invited to join me in practicing happiness from the O’Hare United Club. There will be snack mix.

And for you- whether you’re delayed or dismayed – or just tackling the every day -I hope you’re passing your own test today with joy and flying colors.

<- PS. Proof of my miracle moment 


Choosing Your Dreams

I’m a dreamer. I would confess to you that I secretly believe in the power of rainbows, fairy tales, and happy endings, but the truth is that this isn’t a secret at all. I believe.

I’m not afraid to admit that I dream about a world where good wins, happiness prevails and impossibilities are conquered.

And I’m not afraid to live like it either. You see, I think amazing should be a minimum standard for daily living.

While dreams are often planted and sprouted in our colorful imaginations, I don’t believe it is the place where they are to take root, build their houses and live.

Too often we file “dreams” on our list of things we can’t obtain. We see them as wishes just out of reach rather than sparks of hope and inklings of possibility. Dreams should drive us to push our boundaries, stretch our faith, and obtain a piece of impossible.

I keep these wise words from Alice in Wonderland on my refrigerator door so I’m reminded of them many times a day:

“Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Leave it to the Queen of Hearts to remind me that feeding my mind with imagination, and nourishing my dreams with possibility are just as important as a balanced breakfast.

What are these dreams I’m nourishing?

Most of my life, my dream has been to discover the world, find ways to make it better and live with contagious joy.

I dream about a world that is saturated with beauty and color and full of people who will reach out to help each other with whatever they have or need. That’s why I started #give10, that’s why I love rainbows of hammocks and the smiles they bring to people, and that’s why I write about seeing the world, changing the world and having fun doing it.

I’m living my dreams.

I’m here to live each day to the fullest and walk with others along their own path to see their dreams fulfilled. I’m not ticking things off a bucket list as a pre-requisite to dying, but chasing my dreams in the small steps I take to choose life each day.

On the other side of my refrigerator is another magnet with some more wise words of Henry David Thoreau:

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

I wish the same for you. Choose life. Choose your dreams.

What are you doing to live your dream today?



If you love dreams, start here and check out the rest of the inspring bloggers who have linked up to write about their dreams today.

We believe dreams are made of the same filling as hope, joy and love – the things that give us breath to run, faith to believe, and a heart to sing. When we dream, nobody imposes limitations on us, and that which can be imagined and hoped for can be so.

We’re writing about dreams this month because we believe when we share our dreams, we are dared to chase them. These dreams have inspired us, changed us, and fuelled our love for life and God. They’ve moved us jobs, continents and through relationships. They remind us that everything is possible.