The One Room Schoolhouse

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The United States has always been a wild place. It almost always seemed like everything could fall apart. New settlers would expand the frontier and then the wild towns would become neighborhoods. They would build a church and families would start to live there.

Then they would build a one room schoolhouse. The kids sitting in class would learn their Bible study and how to write. They would learn about the world sitting in that class. They were isolated form the rest of the world and wouldn’t have been able to look things up on the internet.

Today I worry that the internet could be the thing that destroys us. Instead of sitting in school and trying to learn, kids can avoid any work and look up nonsense on their phones. They’re probably only interested in the latest TV show or new trend. They don’t depend on their community to teach them about the way life is. Instead of building a foundation first they can start from the roof down. There are no limitations to work through. It worries me that the act of learning has become too easy so its value has become less. I’ve heard kids say often they don’t feel the need to memorize things because they can always look it up later. If no one bothers to remember the basics how can they ever evaluate or create something new? If you can’t remember what came before, wouldn’t you repeat what’s already been done?

It happens all the time with pop culture. Not even much time has to pass for people to forget. No one remember’s Lady Gaga’s last song. Who’s Iggy Azalea? She’s so cool right now.

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Travel Hacking 101: Choose Your Alliance

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For a while, I’ve wanted to get into travel hacking. It never seemed like a good time or I didn’t have the money. At a certain point, I realized these were all terrible excuses and the only thing preventing me from starting was that I was afraid to get a credit card. After all the horror stories about people spending too much and declaring bankruptcy, I was terrified I would ruin my life. I realized that I don’t have a spending problem and then decided to go for it.

For those people interested in travel hacking that have no idea where to start.

Here it is!

Step 1: Choose Your Alliance

There are 3 main groups of airline reward programs.

1. Sky Team

2. Star Alliance

3. One World

The first step in travel hacking is choosing your alliance because this is Spartaaa.

No, not really.

It is important to choose 1 alliance so that all the points you earn will be counted toward the same program and will be easier to redeem. If you earn 10,000 for Sky Team, 10,000  Star Alliance and 10,000 for One World, you should have enough points to go anywhere in the world. 30,000 should be more than enough for a one way ticket wherever you want to travel, however because they’re across different programs then you won’t be able to redeem them together. It’s like having tickets from different arcades.

Racking up points toward the same alliance helps you keep better track of them.

There are different airlines grouped together so it mostly depends on where you want to travel or if you prefer any airlines. I chose One World since I’m a fan of British Airlines, Iberia, and American Airlines. Between those three I know I can travel pretty much anywhere in the world so the rest are just a bonus. I’ve also heard great things about Cathay Pacific and would like to travel to Asia in the next year.

Before you even get to step 1, there’s a pre-1 or step 0 in which you mentally need to prepare yourself. If you’ve never gotten a credit card before or have heard horror stories like I did then you need to get in the right mindset to accomplish your goals.  My money habits built up over the years have been if I don’t have the money then I’m not going to spend it. I don’t really have a shopaholic problem so that wasn’t a concern. As long as I only use 1 credit card at a time and meticulously track it then there won’t be any problems.

The first question I would ask new travel hackers is “Are you the kind of person that thinks before spending? Or doesn’t worry until there’s a problem?”

The kind of person that will be good at hacking will remember to cancel things on time or how to balance more than one project without getting overwhelmed. If you hate complexity, deadlines, or can’t remember to pay bills on time, then it might not be for you. The odds are against the consumer with credit cards. They will always make more money the longer you are in debt to them.

If you’re still not sure if this is for you keep reading on to brush up on the basics.

After signing up for an alliance, we get into which credit cards you should use. Personally I like the ones that are upfront about potential for bonuses and don’t have an outrageous minimum you have to spend. The first one I signed up for was the American Advantage Citi Card because I was 100% sure it would transfer to American Airlines and the minimum was $1,000 in 3 months for 30,000 points. I knew for sure I would spend that much money in the next couple months so I wouldn’t overextend myself. I read the agreement and they don’t charge interest for the first month. As long as I’m paying off the balance every month then there shouldn’t be any issues.

I’ve been putting off big ticket items like a new smart phone and camera until I could have it count toward some mileage. The process has been interesting to me since it’s so detail oriented and unfamiliar.

My secret confession is… I love bargain shopping.

Ever since I was a teenager I was at Goodwill or Salvation Army looking for new decorations or weird jackets. Travel hacking is kind of like bigger stakes bargain shopping.

How many different reward systems can I combine?

If I’m waiting until sales, buying online, and paying with a credit card for mileage points that’s the most leverage possible for my money. It’s all a process and I’m sure there’s a lot more to learn, but I’m excited for the process and look forward to writing more about it.

More to come soon!

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LYL Blog Challenge: Day 3

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What do people thank you for? 

People usually thank me for listening to them without judgement. I’ve always been surprised that people feel so comfortable telling me their secrets when I’m the kind of person that doesn’t open up easily. Usually I don’t even have to ask very many questions before people open up to me. Many of my friends have told me that I was the first person they trusted with a secret or I was the person they would go to first when they had a problem.

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LYL Blog Challenge: Day 4

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What’s one thing you’re proud of?

One thing I’m really proud of about myself is my independence. When I was in middle school I asked my parents if I could go on a school trip to England. I saw the opportunity listed and wanted to go immediately. Only 5 other students signed up, which surprised me. I went to a wealthy school so it wasn’t like money was a limiting factor.

It was the first time I had been away from home and it was amazing. Growing up in California, nothing is older than 50 years maybe 100 tops. London and Cambridge are centuries old.

For college I wasn’t afraid to leave home either. I went to Boston by myself and then the next year went to Spain by myself. It made me so much stronger as a person to know that I could survive in a new country.

Now that I’m a few years older I realize that these decisions were important. The viewpoint that you can make decisions for yourself and control your life are invaluable.

As Tupac says, “You gotta do it for yourself, by yourself.”

A friend of the family is 19 and going to college in Delaware. It’s only a 3 hour drive from home and he’s terrified. I can barely understand why. He has family 5 minutes away and his parents are only 3 HOURS AWAY and he has a car to drive there anytime. When I was 19 I moved to Spain by myself. It’s made me proud of my independence since not everyone has the same quality.

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LYL Blog Challenge: Day 2

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One of the things that makes me the angriest is the way that every child believes in miracles and yet so few adults believe anything good will happen to them. Each of my beautiful, amazing, smart friends is dating some douche bag because they don’t think they can do better and my talented musician friends will never be famous because someone along the way convinced them that they’re not good enough since they can’t play Chopin in perfect time.

I believe that everyone is capable of amazing things.

They have the potential to succeed at anything they can imagine except that they have been slowly convinced that they’re not good enough. Over time, their dreams are toppled over like dominos and their hearts become bitter until they themselves are discouraging others from their dreams.

When I was teaching I realized that my gift has always been seeing the potential in other people. I’ve never met someone that didn’t have at least a couple talents. Sure not everyone is really smart or funny, but I truly believe each person will find at least one thing they are great at in their life.

One of the little girls I was teaching was the worst student I had ever seen. She had a severe learning disability and it was almost impossible to get her to sit down let alone study. She’ll probably never go to college, but you should have seen the way she entered the room. All the teachers loved her because she was so sweet and funny. It makes me angry that in school she’ll probably only hear that she isn’t smart enough and never mind that she’s a good person with a big heart.

Teaching an adult with disabilities, I asked him what his take was on the literature we read and waited until he could put his thoughts together. It seemed like no one had bothered to ask before. I told him that it would happen if he ever went back to college so I was trying to get him used to the process. After a few months, he quit the program to enroll in a community college.

It makes me angry that society will try to beat out the innate potential out of these people. The little girl that lights up a room and the guy with interesting opinions that has never had the opportunity to voice them.

I wonder what these people could bring to the world if we would let them.

Even though I don’t work with them anymore, I still worry if they’re all right and if they still have those gifts. I hope they don’t lose them.

It makes me angry that I don’t know how to fix these problems. If I had unlimited resources, I would figure out a way to help people find themselves and bring their gifts to the world. The things that only they could bring. The world could always use more of that.

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LYL: Blog Challenge

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Last year, I signed up for the Live Your Legend blog challenge because I wanted to build up a website to earn some money while I was looking for a job. It turned out that I failed miserably. The posts I wrote were uninspired and I gave it up quick. I didn’t write 500 words a week or discover my life’s purpose.

Looking back on the experience, I realized that there were a few really important effects from signing up for the challenge. The previous blog was about me trying to pretend I was someone that I wasn’t so every post was terrible. When I decided to restart with Road Less Written, the promise was to always be honest. If I’m writing about my weight loss journey and I’ve sucked at it, then I have to write about sucking at losing weight. Now that I’m more honest about the starting point, things are finally moving in the right direction.

Another important effect was meeting people from the LYL community and changing the 5 people I spend the most time around.

Before the challenge, my brain the same thing kept playing on repeat. “Why don’t I believe in myself? I believe in other people. Why not me?” It occurred to me that the reason the last blog was so terrible was because I expected it to fail. It bothered me that I could encourage friends and teach little kids, but I couldn’t say a single nice thing about myself. When Alex from Kindnessville won the blog competition I added him on Facebook and started talking to him about his self-love mantras. He offered a lot of great advice and was my life coach for a few months, which has finally given me the confidence to pursue the things I want.

In my experience, being honest or open about my interests has been met with criticism and hostility so I usually assumed the worst case scenario would happen. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that once I stopped thinking I was a failure I immediately found a job, lost weight, and started a blog. Everything I dreamed about doing before suddenly seemed possible.

Even though I feel sort of like a failure for re-joining the blog challenge when I failed so sublimely before, I’m glad that I have the strength to meet the experience head on this time around. It’s a much different situation to when you’re willing to put the time and effort into expanding your comfort zone.

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