Billy is back from Europe (and Africa!) and wants to share the life lessons he learned during his travels! Hear more about:
--why surfers are total bad asses
--why only speaking English is a privilege and a curse
--how social media is still addicting even when you're traveling
--how to recognize the travel tractor beam
--why tapas are the best food ever
--what "saudade" means
--whether or not Billy figured out the meaningful of (his) life
--why happiness is only real when shared
--how making connections with others makes the world a better place
Season 4 of The Mindful Midlife Crisis is coming your way Wednesday, January 5th, 2022!
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Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis, a podcast for people navigating the complexities and possibilities of life second half. Join your hosts, Billy and Brian, a couple of average dudes who will serve as your armchair life coaches as we share our life experiences, both the good and the bad, in an effort to help us all better understand how we can enjoy and make the most of the life we have left to live in a more meaningful way. Take a deep breath, embrace the present, and journey with us through The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
Billy: Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I’m your host, Billy, and, as always, I’m joined by my good friend, Brian on the Bass. Brian, how you doing over there, man?
Brian: In honor of your return, Billy, I am triumphant.
Billy: Oh, I feel so honored. Thank you so much.
Brian: Yeah, man.
Billy: It feels good to be back. It’s good to see you. How have you been the last two months?
Brian: Really good, man. Lots of stuff happened. Kids graduated from college.
Brian: Oh, no, wait a minute. It’s not going fast —
Billy: How long have I been gone?
Brian: It’s going fast but not that fast.
Billy: Wow. A lot has happened since I’ve been gone. Well, it is good to be back and, in some capacity, I guess, I’ll tell you that it’s nowhere near as warm here in Minnesota as it was when I was in Portugal and Dakar.
Brian: But is that the biggest culture shock? Is it just the weather? Or is there other things that are — like is there anything else that’s so different from here over there?
Billy: Driving. I didn’t drive for two months.
Brian: Oh, yeah.
Billy: I didn’t drive for two months so that was — I miss trains. I miss subways. I miss metros. I miss being able to navigate, and there aren’t really suburbs. There’s different neighborhoods but you don’t have cul-de-sacs and you don’t have major freeways blocking up roads and dividing up neighborhoods and stuff like that. I walked all over Lisbon. I walked everywhere in Lisbon. I would put on 30,000, 35,000 steps a day and Lisbon is kind of like San Francisco where it’s hills and you’re up and down, up and down all over the place. I put on a lot of steps so I miss that. That is definitely a culture shock and —
Brian: Were you exercising when you were over there or you’re just sightseeing pretty much? Did you find time to exercise?
Billy: No. Exercising was walking.
Brian: Walking? I mean, you’re moving all day.
Billy: Yeah, yeah, and I did a lot of climbing. Putting myself in precarious situations on boulders and the side of cliffs that maybe I shouldn’t have. There was a moment —
Brian: Did you get video of that?
Billy: I didn’t because I was so focused on not dying.
Brian: Well, that’s important. I would suggest staying focused on that, of course.
Billy: The scariest moment I would say is when I was at Pena Palace in Sintra, and there is this warrior who looks over the castle and looks over the land and he’s very high atop a set of boulders.
Brian: So is this a statue or what is it?
Billy: Yes, a statue. And there isn’t a real way for you to get up there but, of course, that didn’t stop me.
Brian: Oh, so you had to climb a cliff to get up there.
Billy: So I climbed these boulders and going up is always easier than getting down.
Brian: Oh, God, yes.
Billy: It’s so much easier, so there was a moment where I had left foot on one boulder, right foot on one boulder, left hand on another boulder, right hand on another boulder, and nothing but a 10- to 15-foot drop to another boulder below me and I had to crab walk centimeter by centimeter along that boulder until I got to a point where it was safe enough for me to drop down into the hole. And when I finally dropped down into the hole and then got down to the bottom of the hill, I was shaking from the adrenaline and the fear.
Brian: Do heights bother you?
Billy: So here’s the weird thing and I’m not the only person who has had this. I have to literally tell myself, “Don’t jump off the cliff,” because if I get too close, I’ll get this urge to be like, “What would it be like to jump off the cliff?” and then it’s a split second urge so I have to back up because there’s like an adrenaline rush right there. So, I kind of have this weird relationship with heights because I will absolutely go to the edge of a cliff and look down. I like to do this thing with my phone where I will videotape my feet at the edge of the cliff and then lift my phone up and then do a panoramic. If anybody follows us on Instagram at Mindful_Midlife_Crisis, you can see all of the videos that I took while I was overseas and a lot of them start with my feet and some people are like, “Dude, what’s with the feet?” I go, “Just I like showing people just how close to the edge I like to live.”
Brian: It’s perspective, man.
Billy: Yeah, exactly, exactly. So there was a lot of perspective that was gained while I was overseas and I thought, hey, this would be a good opportunity for me to share that with everybody here. We had a great Season 3. I’m kind of looking at this episode as the capstone project to Season 3. So, if we did our homework during Season 3, we should have walked away with a lot of life lessons about how to be the best version of ourselves and I thought that I would share some of the things that I learned while I was traveling in Portugal and Spain and Dakar and New York City.
Brian: All right, lay it on us. What do you got?
Billy: All right. So here’s the first one I’m going to tell you. I think it’s important that we push out the edges of our comfort zone and I am not a fan of that saying, “Get outside of your comfort zone.” I think that’s a ridiculous statement because if you’re outside your comfort zone, you’re more likely in fight, flight, or fright mode and even brain research shows that learning doesn’t happen when your amygdala is overheating, but if you’re at the edge of your comfort zone, you can stretch that out like it’s pizza dough. That’s kind of how I think of it.
Brian: So go to the edge of the cliff but don’t jump over.
Billy: Yeah, yeah.
Brian: Okay, got it.
Billy: Unless you are safely strapped into a parachute or you’re a trained professional and you can handle those kinds of things. Absolutely. And pushing the pizza dough of my comfort zone out was on full display when I went to the Ngor Island Surf Camp in Dakar because I know next to nothing about Dakar, I still know next to nothing about Dakar, and I have only taken one surf lesson in my life and that’s when I was in Porto two months prior to being in Dakar. And the other thing is, I absolutely hate camping. Like I hate camping. When friends are going to go camping, I tell them, “It’s not gonna hurt my feelings if you don’t invite me because I just don’t like camping.” I like hot showers, I like central air, I like heating, I like reliable internet connections. So, am I a little high maintenance? Yes. If you’ve been listening for three seasons, you know. Okay? But the thing is the surfers at Ngor Island Surf Camp are absolute badasses and I didn’t get out there and surf because I wanted to paddleboard off the coast of Africa because my goal is to paddleboard off the coast of every continent and the other reason why I didn’t get out there to surf, like I kind of wanted to go surfing but every time a group of surfers came back, they either had sea urchin needles in their feet or up their ass or they had a gash in the back of their head from their surfboard or from the coral. I’m like —
Brian: Oh my.
Billy: Yes, yes. So there’s a guy, his name is Kevin, wonderful, wonderful person. He just posted a video the other day on his Instagram. He has very long like Jesus hair, very thick, curly hair. They had to shave out like a circle because he has a gash that is probably an inch, inch and a half long and, I don’t know, maybe a quarter inch wide, and instead of getting stitches, he just put super glue in it.
Brian: Oh, yeah, super glue is actually designed as a battlefield suture so that’s a normal thing to do, actually.
Billy: Oh, okay, I didn’t know that because I’m like, “Dude, what are you doing?” and he’s like, “Well, if I put super glue in it, then I can go surf tomorrow, but if I got stitches, I won’t be able to go.”
Brian: You can’t because you can’t get them wet. Right, that’s what we bass players and guitar players do whenever we have finger injuries that you cut your finger or something, you super glue it up, you’re fine for the show.
Billy: That is so badass, and these surfers are so badass. The men that were there, the women that were there, just a collection of badasses. And with all due respect to our friend and former guest, John Wessinger, the surfers that I met in Dakar, they are real deal Holyfield and they are absolutely fearless, which was so impressive to me because I’m someone who enjoys the creature comforts that life has afforded me and, like I said, I’m not a camper at all and it’s not that I need a fancy hotel because I think staying at a fancy hotel when you’re traveling is a complete waste of money because you should be out walking around and exploring instead of crashing at the hotel.
Brian: I don’t know. If it’s a fancy hotel with a good location.
Billy: But if you’re in a good location, shouldn’t you be out walking around?
Brian: But, I mean, like — okay, take Santa Monica, for example, California, you can stay down — the hotels are, I wouldn’t say they’re nice but they’re very expensive. So you could stay — like we stayed in, I think it was like the Super 8 but it’s right on the pier and it was like $450 a night, but I wouldn’t call it a nice hotel.
Billy: Right, and so I don’t want to spend a lot of money at a hotel. When I go to New York City, I usually stay at the Jain Hotel, which is a 50-meter room and it doesn’t have a bathroom, it kind of has the communal bathrooms. That’s where I stay when I’m in New York most of the time, because I love it, they have the bellhops there and the old school uniforms, that kind of thing and it’s 100 bucks a night. Love the Jain Hotel —
Brian: Not bad for New York. That’s great.
Billy: That’s where I’m staying. But as far as like camping, after a long day of exploring, I do want to come back and have my own space and I want to be able to take a hot shower, that sort of thing, and there’s the part of me that’s the 50 percent introvert so I like having my own space, which is why I’ve never done a hostel before. But the surfers at Ngor Island Surf Camp in Dakar, they’re the truest adventurers I’ve ever met because the countries they’ve visited and the remote locations they’ve traveled to just to surf are so mind blowing and extensive that I honestly can’t even begin to remember the places they’ve all been, like there’s a lot of Southeast Asia and South America, but to give you an example of just how wild these people are, there was a couple there from Colorado named Mike and Kelly and they just fly standby all over the world because Mike works for an airline so they decided to fly from Dakar to El Salvador because, you know, why not?
Brian: Why not? Yeah, sure, let’s go to El Salvador.
Billy: So what they did was they flew from Dakar to New York all the way across the country to LA to El Salvador, because that’s the life they lead and they wanted to go surfing in El Salvador.
Brian: You know, a lot of these places that they’re surfing to, there’s no immediate access to medical care or anything too, I’m sure.
Billy: There’s not a lot of immediate access to a lot.
Brian: Any — even food, right? That’s what I mean.
Billy: Like civilization. So it’s just so wild but that’s the sense of adventure that they have and that luxury of flexibility and freedom, it all just blew my mind because Kelly still had to work remotely but it just made more sense for her to be in the same time zone as her company this time around so that’s why they’re like, “Well, we’ll go to El Salvador because that’s in the same time zone as the company,” but that’s just how this group lives their lives and everyone there was so welcoming and so nice and it felt like a group of friends who’ve known each other for years, even though most of them had just met —
Brian: So you bonded in adventure over adventure.
Billy: Yeah, exactly, exactly. And many of them traveled solo to Dakar and just connected with each other through surfing and I was just blown away at the connection they all had with each other. The other thing that I noticed was that they weren’t there for a short holiday. They were all like, “You’re only here for four days?” because a lot of them are going to be there for like two weeks, some of them are going to be there for two months at this camp. And, to me, that is so wild because to be on a completely different continent in an underdeveloped city for that long in contrast to what you’re used to just showed me how fearless and go with the flow this group really is and it honestly inspires me to just let go of some of that need for comfort and familiarity I have so I can continue to push out the boundaries of my comfort zone so I can experience more of the world more openly as opposed to boxing myself in or putting myself in a bubble. When we talked to Dr. Yvette, I told her I wanted to learn how to live out loud and I don’t think I got there completely during this trip but I think if I would have had a little more time at the surf camp, that good old Dancing Billy, he might have made an appearance at some point in time. But, all in all, I learned a lot about stretching the edges of my own comfort zone at the surf camp. So, if you’re looking for a travel adventure to Africa, I would highly recommend booking a stay at the Ngor Island Surf Camp because it was an absolutely amazing experience, which is funny because I didn’t really leave the island because I didn’t take out any local currency while I was there and nobody on the island takes credit cards and it was really hard for me to communicate with the locals because Senegal is a French-speaking country so there was definitely a lot of lost in translation moments for me so, at times, I was definitely paralyzed by my own discomfort and lack of experience. But I think if I went back, I’d be able to have a more fulfilling experience, because the camp owner, Pierre-Louis, does such a great job of organizing day trips to safaris or going zip-lining, which I didn’t do because I wasn’t sure how the whole trip would work if I didn’t have any local currency. So, again, that was a missed opportunity on my part due to my own fear getting in the way. But, regardless, he also had something planned for the group like organized surf outings to various beaches in the area and he was very accommodating to kind of my high anxiety about being in a place where I wasn’t familiar. They did a great job of bonding. They had group dinners and he’d provide a daily update for when and where the best waves would be rolling in or what options people had for other activities during the day. And then in the morning, everybody would just sit around and have breakfast together and people would start to wake up and come and go and we would all talk about our plan for the day. So, it was just a fun atmosphere all around and after traveling alone for two months, I just really enjoyed making those connections with people, even though I wasn’t nearly as comfortable or as adventurous as they are. And are there things I regret not doing while I was there? Yeah, a little bit, but at the same time, I feel good about the experience I had and I met some amazing people while I was there, which is something I’ll talk more about at the end of this episode. Another thing that I learned, as I mentioned before, I think the fact that I didn’t speak the local language in Portugal or Spain or Dakar limited my ability to fully engage with people and it made me so aware and appreciate but also despise just how much speaking English really is a privilege. And in those moments, when I would try to use my very limited Portuguese or Spanish skills, I would often just freeze or forget how to say something or I would say something and they would ask me a follow-up question and I’d be like, “Oh, shit, I have no idea what they just asked me,” so I would just nod and say sí —
Brian: But I think that experience is universal when you’re outside of the culture of the language, you know what I mean? It’s like whether it’s English or Portuguese or Italian or whatever it is, I mean, you feel that way if someone’s trying to communicate with you and, obviously, you don’t understand them.
Billy: Well, yeah. It really made me think about how vulnerable you have to be to speak a language you don’t know well in front of native speakers because —
Brian: Yeah, that takes guts.
Billy: Yeah, because you can get really self-conscious about how they view you and what they think of you in those moments.
Brian: I know, you can tell them you’re a pregnant woman or something like that.
Billy: So here’s what I want to say. To those of you out there who are like, “If you’re gonna come to my country, learn how to speak English first,” first of all, how about you learn the difference between Y-O-U-R your and Y-O-U-’-R-E. Start there because the reality is this, my guess is that they’re learning English as best they can and if you’re an adult trying to learn another language, that shit is really, really hard.
Brian: Oh, yeah. Our brains don’t learn very well when we get old.
Billy: Oh, it’s so hard. And it’s so easy to default to your native language so instead of being an asshole to those people, just be patient. Instead of being condescending, be kind. And if you can’t be patient or kind, find someone who can be and then go back and listen to our episode on compassionate communication with Dr. Yvette Erasmus again and again and again until you do learn how to be patient and kind when communicating with others.
Brian: I used to work downtown and I worked with a lot of Spanish-speaking people and I speak a little bit of Spanish, I was better back then, but there was one gentleman by the name of David that was just a great guy and he barely spoke any English, but after I got to know him speaking Spanish, he invited me over to his house and I got to know his family and this guy was a doctor in Mexico and I was a janitorial supervisor in college and that’s where I interacted with this guy but you make assumptions that when people don’t speak the language, that they’re stupid, you’re like, “Well, don’t you understand me, stupid?” that’s what the guy that you were imitating before is probably trying, “You’re dumb.” It’s exactly the opposite. The dude was one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met and didn’t speak any English but kind, intelligent, learned. He was a doctor. It’s crazy.
Billy: Yeah. And I just feel like we are so ignorantly spoiled yet truly limited all at the same time because we just assume and sometimes expect everyone to speak English even when we’re in a foreign country.
Brian: Oh, yeah.
Billy: I can honestly say I didn’t get frustrated with anyone who didn’t speak English while I was in a foreign country.
Brian: Yeah, how could you? That’s ’cause you’re —
Billy: Yeah, why should I?
Billy: But I definitely got frustrated with myself for not knowing how to speak Portuguese or Spanish or French or German or Dutch because I often felt left out of conversations at times and most of the people I met while I was traveling spoke at least three languages —
Brian: Oh, wow.
Billy: — and some spoke more than that, and there I was speaking English like a dummy. And I just think that goes to show how ignorant and spoiled English speakers are and I don’t just mean Americans either, because I also observed the British doing the same thing. So the Brits are not off this one either.
Brian: Here’s a quick tip, Billy. Someone does not understand you more if you talk louder in English either. Just a little tip, you guys, that if you’re interacting with someone that doesn’t speak the language, speaking louder does not help. Because I’ve seen that happen. You know what I’m talking about, right?
Billy: I know exactly what you’re talking about. I just think, as an educator, I just think it’s important for our children to start learning a second language early and if I can recommend one, I’d say go ahead and learn Spanish because once you’ve learned Spanish, Italian comes easy, Portuguese, which a lot of people assume is similar to Spanish but it actually sounds way more Slavic than Spanish. There’s a lot of sh in it. There’s a lot of shwosh, shwosh, but it does have some similar Latin root derivatives. That’ll come easier. French will come a little bit easier because that’s a Latin derivative. And if you can speak those languages, you’ll travel way more comfortably in Europe and you’ll enjoy your experiences that much more, you will make so many more connections, just like the connections that you made with David because you made an attempt to speak Spanish with him and try to connect with him.
Brian: He taught me a lot actually about speaking Spanish and it was great, man.
Billy: So, Brian, I don’t know if your boys are doing any language courses right now but if they’re not, get them in while they’re young because that way they can shit talk you —
Brian: In a different language, right, yeah. Oh, yeah.
Billy: They could talk shit about you in a different language and it’ll be a nice bonding experience for them.
Brian: Well, they’re learning Spanish and they don’t know I know as much Spanish as I do so I’m going to keep that little — keep my powder dry there so I can — the old man’s a step ahead of them, you know what I mean?
Billy: I love it. I love it. Well, I’ll tell you what, we’re going to take a quick break and then when we come back, I’m going to continue breaking down the lessons that I learned while I was on my trip. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
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Billy: Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I am here sharing my lessons that I’ve learned while I was traveling to Portugal, Spain, and Dakar and Brian is sharing his witticisms with us as well. Always much appreciated. I missed your witticisms, Brian.
Brian: Yeah, I kept them dry. I didn’t give them to anybody else while you were gone, just so you know.
Billy: I appreciate that.
Brian: Yeah. I didn’t go on anybody else’s show and spout off or nothing.
Billy: But, if you want to do that, you can. This is an open relationship.
Brian: Okay, now I know, this is good. All right.
Billy: All right. So, here’s one thing that I did way too much of while I was overseas. I still spent way too much time on my phone. Because, for me, I think it was a way for me to feel connected to the familiar after being out all day in the unfamiliar but it’s really too easy to get caught up in the addiction that is social media.
Brian: When you’re by yourself too, there isn’t a lot else to do. It’s probably the most engaging thing you can do by yourself outside of masturbation. You get that eight seconds out of the way then what are you going to do with the rest of the day?
Billy: Right, and usually it’s social media that’s driver to that sometimes.
Brian: Another tip. Do not combine masturbation and social media though. In any way, shape, or form, I’m just saying.
Billy: I do think that being on social media too much, it led to the FOMO that I felt from time to time, like I was going back and forth between, “Oh my gosh, am I gonna be able to handle being away for two months in a foreign country?” to feeling like, “Well, I could leave everyone and everything behind and start all over and —”
Brian: How long did it take before you started feeling that way?
Billy: I think maybe a week and a half, like I think halfway through my time in Porto, I started thinking, “Gosh, I could leave everything and everyone behind,” but then I started feeling like, “I wanna come home and keep doing the podcast,” and then got to the point where you said to me, “Sometimes you just gotta say fuck it,” so I’m like, okay, I’m just going to let go of the podcast for a couple of months and then I wanted to come back home just as some sense of normalcy and then I wanted to push the trip out further and then I regretted scheduling a return trip so soon and then I wanted to be somewhere else with anyone else to embracing all of the moment and just surrendering to the moment as much as my anxiety would allow me to do. And now that I am home without a place to call my own, like I’m back to crashing on couches like I did back when I was in the college years and when I was 25 —
Brian: That’s kind of fun though, man. You’re couch surfing.
Billy: So it’s tricky not to have a place to call my own and to drive by where my condo is and there are strangers living in my condo, like that’s just weird to me so the pull to get back out there and see more of the world is very strong, especially now that I have booked my flights to Seattle and to Thailand. But at the same time, I’m also trying to enjoy the time I have here with family and friends while also ramping up the production and recording for our upcoming Season 4. So for now, in the words of Eddie Vetter, you can spend your time alone redigesting past regrets or you can come to terms and realize you’re the only one who can forgive yourself, it makes more sense to live in the present tense, so I’m continually working on being present during this transition period in my life. But I also noticed while I was there that the push and pull of when traveling starts to feel more like a mission than an exploration was very powerful. Like there would be days when I would be so determined to get from point A to point B that I could literally feel almost like a tractor beam pulling me forward and I would have to remind myself to snap out of it and then look around because there were so many great things to see or I would turn around and be like, “Okay, what does it look like behind me from this vantage point?”
Brian: You reminded yourself to stop and smell the roses, man.
Billy: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And when you’re in New York, you’re probably smelling the garbage but even still —
Brian: New York roses.
Billy: Yeah. You appreciate that smell when you’ve missed it after a while. It’s definitely uniquely New York.
Brian: Oh, yeah.
Billy: Oh, did you like — I just did a great mouth exercise right there, uniquely New York.
Brian: Uniquely New York. Yeah, that’s a bit of a tongue twister, isn’t it?
Billy: Everybody try that one five times. We’ll give you some time. All right, so another thing that I noticed is travel days are hard, like when you’re traveling from one destination to another, if you’re flying or taking the train, that can take a lot out of you, especially if you’re an anxious traveler like myself and you’re bound by time and, “Oh my gosh, did I remember to pack everything?” and that sort of thing. So just take it easy when you arrive and put yourself in a better headspace. Just go for a walk or don’t plan anything but dinner. Just take it easy when you get to a new city. You don’t need to go and explore the whole city. Just take your time with it. Because the thing is, you’re going to make mistakes and, most likely, those mistakes are going to cost you money but, eventually, you’ll get over that once you start exploring again so just shake it off and move forward. Now, the one thing that people asked me about, “What was the food like over there?” I’m not a foodie so I can’t really say that it was amazing or terrible. I thought the food was food. I’m not a big seafood person so I didn’t eat any seafood when I was in Portugal and that’s a big —
Brian: Is that the specialty over there?
Billy: Yeah, especially in the south of Portugal, seafood is really a delicacy. In the north of Portugal, the cheese and the meats. I’m going to tell you now, francesinha. It is the most amazing sandwich. You can get it in Porto. Delicious. The food in Porto, far superior to the food that was in Lisbon or Lagos.
Brian: Oh, really?
Billy: Yeah, yeah, I highly recommend it. But, at the end of the day, the world needs more tapas restaurants.
Brian: Oh, no doubt. Tapas is pretty badass.
Billy: Tapas are so delicious. That is something that Spain definitely had over Portugal is the tapas.
Brian: I cracked my tooth at a tapas restaurant one time in Vegas.
Brian: There was a bone inside one of the pieces of meat that wasn’t supposed to be there and it was a big one. We were eating like — gosh, I don’t remember what it was. It was some sort of beef and it was that hard ass, they must have shaved off a corner of it because it just broke my tooth right off. That was the first time Leen and I had taken a trip together too. We were out in Vegas and at this tapas restaurant because she said, “Rachael Ray recommended this restaurant. We gotta go there,” so we got there and we’re eating and I cracked my tooth —
Billy: Oh my god.
Brian: — while we were sitting in there. But, in that restaurant’s defense, they were really nice. They paid the dental bill. I had dental insurance so it was only a couple hundred bucks but he’s like, “We’ll cover it. No problem. Done.” Thanks, went our separate ways.
Billy: But did they pay you for losing your dignity walking around Vegas like Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber?
Brian: It was a back tooth, fortunately, so you couldn’t see it.
Billy: Okay, that’s good. Do you remember the tapas restaurant in Lyndale and Lake called La Bodega?
Brian: Yeah, I remember hearing about it, I was never in it.
Billy: Yeah, they had tapas there and they would have flamenco there. I miss La Bodega. That was a great spot.
Brian: Oh, man. It’s gone?
Billy: Yeah. It’s all gone.
Brian: Stupid COVID.
Billy: Well, it’s been gone I think for about 15 years.
Brian: Oh, okay. Never mind then. My statement stands. Stupid COVID.
Billy: Agreed, agreed. Here’s what I will say, one thing I did learn about food is that if I had someone who could prepare vegetarian meals for me on a regular basis, I would have no problem giving up meat for at least 50 percent of my meals. I’m just not that great of a cook and food always tastes better when someone else makes it for you, especially if it’s a specific style of food, like a vegetarian meal, but I had really good vegetarian meals when I was at the surf camp and I feel like I could switch over no problem. But here’s another thing I learned about myself. Even in perfect conditions, I will find an excuse not to do something that requires discipline.
Billy: Like working out, like I had all the time in the world, especially when I was in Lisbon, I was in Lisbon for a month so I could leisurely explore. Not one push-up. Not one lunge —
Brian: But, again, you pointed out you’re moving all day long, that’s just as good.
Billy: Yeah, yeah, like I can feel I’m definitely thinner because I lost muscle mass and not that I was the Rock before that but I definitely lost muscle mass from not doing bodyweight exercises or that kind of thing. So that’s just one of a number of things that, even in perfect conditions, I probably could find an excuse or talk myself out of not doing them because I haven’t set that discipline.
Brian: But it’s not the focus of your trip either. You want to prepare for the trip by looking good and feeling good and having energy and working it because that’s why I work out. I work out to get more energy, to look better, to feel better, mostly. While you’re on the trip, you just skip that crap, you know what I mean? You don’t have to do it.
Billy: I appreciate that validation right there because I did work out yesterday and I just grabbed 12-pound kettlebells and did a very light workout because I knew that if I grabbed anything heavier that I would be moving like a robot today. Just kind of took it easy today.
Brian: Getting back into it. Me too. Actually, today was the first day I got back. I’ve been off for about a month too and I can feel it too that I’m starting to lose muscle mass but I always do that in the fall, like coasting through the beginning of football season, mid football season, and then as soon as it gets nasty out, like it’s cold and you can’t go outside and do anything anymore, that’s when I’m like, “Oh, I better get exercising.”
Billy: Yeah, yeah. Well, we’re going to give all of you an opportunity to exercise a moment to take a break right here and then when we come back, we will finish up the final lessons here and say thank you to the people who made my trip very memorable. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
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Billy: Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We are finishing up talking about my trip overseas to Portugal, Spain, and Dakar and the lessons that I learned while I was over there, kind of just bringing everything together from Season 3, the amazing advice that we got from our guests. If you haven’t checked out any of the episodes from Season 3, go back and listen to those episodes, those interviews. The guests that we had are of the highest quality.
Brian: There’s really some good nuggets in there in that season.
Billy: Absolutely, absolutely. Listen to that season more than once because each episode is going to hit you with another piece of knowledge that you maybe missed the first time. I like going back through and listening to them multiple times because, like I said, there’s so much great advice in there about how to live your best life. And I’ll tell you one thing that I learned while I was particularly in Portugal that has made my life that much more fulfilling is chasing more sunsets and waking up to see more sunrises. Much of what made Portugal so magical for me was watching the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean with nothing blocking it. It was just beautiful. It was majestic. A lot of the times, it was just me by myself on a quiet beach with the ocean waves crashing and the sun setting in the distance. It was just so beautiful and you could watch the sun slip into the ocean like a quarter falling into a horizontal vending machine and if you stuck around long enough, that’s when the real show would begin because the colors would reflect off the clouds and you’d see like a full Crayola box of colors decorate the sky. And I’ve been getting up a little bit earlier now because the sunrises here in Minnesota are around 7:30 so I’m up and I’ve got a great view where I’m staying to catch those sunrises and, man, it really just helps you appreciate the beauty of this life and of this universe. And I can tell you, there really is nothing like a sunset in Portugal. I highly recommend it. I also truly understand now what the Portuguese word saudade means and I hope to all my Portuguese friends out there, I hope I said that correctly. It’s a very, very special word in the Portuguese language. There actually isn’t a word in English that literally translates to it. The closest word is bittersweet and saudade is kind of the overall theme of the fado music and fado songs are what the women of old would sing when their sailor husbands were out to sea and they would lament about missing their loves and they would lament about the times that they had together and how they may never have them again but it’s this combination of longing for the good times and the sadness that you have when they’re no longer there. And I can tell you that I have never felt more at home in my entire life than I did when I was in Portugal, especially in Belém, that’s where I stayed when I was in Lisbon. And Porto has my whole heart and Lagos felt like a dream, but Lisbon felt like home and as I was on the bus going from Lagos to Seville, Spain, and passing through the Portuguese countryside and watching it leave me, I felt saudade and I remember texting my friend, Carla, and saying, “I feel so sad that I’m leaving Portugal right now,” and she said, “Now you understand what saudade means,” and it just hit me like a ton of bricks because I still have that longing and there’s a bittersweetness that I’m no longer there but I still have those memories that fill me with joy. So, it’s a really powerful word and I feel like I’m almost an honorary Portuguese because I know what that feeling is like. I know what those fado singers are singing about right there. And the thing is, after all this traveling and introspection that I did, I still have no idea what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. I have no idea what I’m going to do with my life when next August rolls around. I’m going to turn 45 next August and I honestly have no idea what’s going to happen and if I dwell on that too much, it freaks me out so, for now, the future only goes as far as planning the next stages of this journey, which is to head out to Seattle after the New Year and live with my sister for a month and then I’m going to head to Thailand for a month and, hopefully, I can make it to Singapore and Japan and South Korea by March, just in time for cherry blossom season. That’s my hope. So I’m putting that out into the universe right now that that’s going to happen. So, new COVID variants, go away.
Brian: Well, actually, they’re saying now that they think some of these newer variants could speed towards the end of all this baloney, because as RNA viruses mutate, they tend to get less severe but more easily transmissible. That’s the virus’s survival strategy. So what we’re going to hopefully see, the leading scientists are saying right now, is it’s going to get more transmissible but the symptoms will be a lot less severe, which we could all hope for because then coronavirus is just going to basically end up like a cold.
Billy: This is why I love that you’re a science nerd.
Brian: I read about this stuff.
Billy: I love it. I can only hope that that is the direction things are going.
Brian: Me too.
Billy: I think we all can agree that we hope that that’s the direction things are going because it’s crazy that we’re two years into this and we’re still navigating it. So I think here is the big question that I was asking myself while I was overseas: Would I give up this life if I met the right person? And I honestly don’t know the answer to that question either. Considering physical touch and quality time are my love languages, I definitely felt alone and isolated at times and I craved making a connection with a significant other and it made me think about how much time I spend on dating apps instead of actually living my life and putting myself in positions that create opportunities to be seen the way I want to be seen and, in turn, creating more genuine in-person connections.
Brian: Is that 40 feet tall and covered in gold and jewels? Is that how you want to be seen?
Billy: Like Ozymandias before the fall, yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And if I can’t make that connection, I would really like to have a dog again. That was one thing that I really —
Brian: So, companionship, you’re missing companionship. That’s completely normal, dude.
Billy: That was one thing that I realized was I was like, “I really miss having a dog,” and it was great because when I was at the surf camp, they had two dogs there and one of them almost looked like a tubby Shih Tzu, I don’t think it was a Shih Tzu but it kind of had —
Brian: Tubby Shih Tzu, that’s a good band name.
Billy: Write it down. Add it to the list. Yeah, they just had like this tubby dog right there, he was just bought as heavy as a bowling ball but I just loved that dog. You’re right, it’s that companionship right there. And, obviously, the dog doesn’t replace having that genuine human connection with somebody. So, again, if I met somebody here, would it keep me here? I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s possible but at the same time, right now, I am committed to this leave and I’m committed to this journey that I’m on so I don’t know that I would be able to commit to anyone else at this time. The last thing that I wanted to leave you with here is this idea that happiness is only real when shared and I think that goes back to this idea of the importance of making connections. Everywhere you go, there’s a person there with a story or an experience that can simply make your day or completely change your perspective or inspire you to become the best version of yourself. Just like we said, David for you, right? And it’s usually someone else who will inspire you or challenge you to expand your comfort zone, but a real friend will go with you to share in that experience with you. So, now, just like the Oscars, I’m going to attempt the nearly impossible here and say thank you to all the people or as many as I can remember who I made a connection with during this trip or who challenged me to expand my comfort zone or added something of value regardless of what it was. Maybe it was just a kind word, maybe it was simply hanging out with me when I had no one else to hang out with and you kindly let me tag along for the day or for an hour because I was traveling by myself. So, my apologies if I can’t remember your name or if I mispronounce it. You can send all of your hate messages to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can DM us on Instagram at Mindful_Midlife_Crisis if I butchered your name or if you feel slighted in some way. I will try to include as many of the tours as I can when we record our first YouTube Channel video coming out sometime where I’ll actually kind of get into the must sees and must dos of Portugal, Spain, and Dakar. So, when I was in Porto, I want to say thank you to Izzy. Izzy was really my first connection and we hung out in Lisbon too. She was my go-to travel partner right off the bat and, Izzy, thank you so much for that connection. Fabien, thank you for being the dude that I connected with on top of a boulder in Porto. You’re a great dude. John and Laney, thanks for letting me crash your party when we went to the Taylors winery. I appreciate that. Rebecca, thanks for being my surf buddy at the Fish Surf School in Porto. Kevin and Kelly from Dallas, Tara and John, I believe, from Ireland, and there was a German woman I can’t remember her name, I’m so sorry, but you really made my last night in Porto at the Virtudes Miradouro really memorable and I really, really appreciate you letting me sit there and chatted up with you guys after your tour. When I was in Lisbon, I met this very young woman named Anna and thank goodness for her because if it wasn’t for Anna, I would still be sitting at the Rossi Metro station trying to find a metro pass. Luckily, she spoke Portuguese and she was able to get us to where we needed to be so thank you so much, Anna, for that. Mayana, thanks for being such a cool person to hang out with and thank you for going to fado with me. It was a great experience. Andre and Barbara, you two are so much fun and I really appreciated hanging out with you after the tours that we went on. Jojo and Darko, thanks for chatting it up with us at the fado show. Sofia, thank you for being an amazing host when I was in Lisbon and introducing me to Douglas. Douglas, you have such a worldly view. I really appreciated chatting with you. Vinny, it was nice to meet you when I was in Cascais. You introduced me to my good friend Chiro who I’ll talk about a little bit so I appreciate you being the bridge to that connection. Ben, Eric, and Dave, I think that’s the LxFactory crew, thanks for letting me hang out. I hope you enjoyed your time at Óbidos. Alex and your wife, thank you for being the people who calmed me down after I almost fell off of those boulders when I was in Sintra and thanks for walking around with me around the castle. Van, how can I forget the memorable day that we spent together? Van was traveling by herself and I bet she went to, in three months of traveling, 15 different cities —
Billy: — and she was all over, like she was in Egypt and then she was in Istanbul and she was in Bulgaria. She was all over, completely a fearless traveler. Much respect to you, Van. In Lagos, I wanted to say hello and thank you to Emmy for being such a cool paddleboard partner. You have a beautiful voice. Keep it up. I think it’s Sana, Sean, I’m sorry, I can’t remember the pronunciation of your name but you and your boyfriend were so much fun to hang out with and they taught me a new card game and I actually need to message her now that I think about it because I can’t remember the rules of that card game but it was a really fun card game. Selmo, the best burgers in Lagos Lagash are at Nah Nah Bah. Go to Nah Nah Bah and Selmo will take care of you. Delicious burgers and make sure you sit at the bar and say hi to Carly because Carly has the most infectious laugh I’ve ever heard in my entire life. She’s just a ball of energy. Carly, you are amazing. Bruno, thank you for taking me paddleboarding to the Benagil caves, that was the one thing I was looking forward to the most when I was in Lagos, and you do it with the biggest smile on your face. It was so much fun hanging out with you that day. In Seville, Brad and Erin, you just really are two of the nicest human beings I’ve ever met. Thank you so much for going out to dinner and hanging out. You’re absolutely wonderful. Carlos and Nate, thanks for hanging out on the walk back to town. Ishmael, thanks for making fun of my English. I appreciated that. Thanks for making fun of the fact that I couldn’t speak any other languages. You were so funny in the way that you did it that it wasn’t even insulting. In Madrid, Charles at Simply Charlie Books, it was nice meeting you, it was nice having lunch with you. Ada, Sam, Comly, and James, I met all of you at the market in Madrid. Thanks for hanging out. In Dakar, the three biggest badass ladies I’ve ever met in my entire life, Claire, Lor, and Natalie, oh, my goodness, the three of you are so awesome. I really enjoyed getting to meet you. Same with Xena and your boyfriend Kevin. Kevin, thank you so much for kind of being my go-to dude when I was in Dakar. You really made an effort to hang out. He’s from Switzerland but loves American football so much that he has the NFL pass so I actually —
Brian: So you got to watch a game.
Billy: I got to watch the Vikings loss of course while I was in Dakar. The Vikings still sucked in Africa.
Brian: Yeah, that’s true. I think you’ll find they suck wherever you go.
Billy: Who beat the Packers?
Brian: We had to just kind of give you some semblance of hope to just crush it at the end like playoffs. No, thank you. So we gave you a glimmer of hope in your otherwise abysmal season.
Billy: Facts, facts. It was fun explaining American football to Jason and his girlfriend, Leanne. Joe from England, oh my goodness gracious. You know when they say that the Brits love to swear?
Brian: Oh, yeah.
Billy: Joe was the fucking epitome of that, I’ll tell you that right now. Mike and Kelly, again, you guys are wonderful. Anna and Colin, we’re going to have Anna and Kolin on the show actually and they’re going to —
Billy: Yeah, they’re going to lead us through some breathwork and give us a different perspective on how to breathe.
Brian: All right.
Billy: Yeah. I didn’t realize that there were a lot of different ways to breathe and —
Brian: Apparently there is.
Billy: There is and they’re all very beneficial. And, of course, Pierre-Louis, thank you so much for hosting us at the Ngor Island Surf Camp. Finally, a couple special thanks to [inaudible], aka Rich Aunty, I will be your Instagram boyfriend anytime, anywhere. You just let me know. Elizabeth, thank you for the laughs, thank you for the memories, obrigado. Carla, [inaudible], por favor. Chiro, thank you for hunting down sunsets and Ginjinha with me. And last but not least, Ellie, thank you for giving me a top 10 day in New York City. So with that, we’re going to close out Season 3, we’re going to take about a month break, we will be back January 5, 2022, with Season 4 of The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
Brian: It’s going to be amazing too. Some of these guests, we’ve already recorded some of these episodes and the guests just keep getting better.
Billy: I’m very much looking forward to continuing the conversation with our guests. I’m very much looking forward to continuing the conversations with you, our listeners, so feel free to reach out, connect with us. You’re going to miss us for the next month so reach out to us at email@example.com, DM us on Instagram at Mindful_Midlife_Crisis. Let us know how you’re doing out there. Let us know what you want us to talk about. Share your successes with us. We love hearing from you. So, with that, for Brian, this is Billy, thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. May you feel happy, healthy, and loved. Take care, friends.