Bantayan, Philippines

Why I Took A Short Break From Everything

Derek Personal Stuff 59 Comments

short break on Bantayan, Philippines
It’s me, Earl. Back again.

As you might have noticed, I took a short break from the blog. It started when I led my latest India tour back in February and continued as I took a ‘vacation’ once that tour came to an end.

It wasn’t a planned break. I would sit down and try to write in the beginning but it just wasn’t happening. Then one day in the middle of March, while on Siquijor Island in the Philippines, I made the decision to stop trying until I felt ready to write.

This morning I woke up and decided I was ready. And so I write.

Not quite sure where this post will lead so I guess we’ll both find out in a few moments.

The reason I took a break from the blog was that I simply needed some time for myself, time to concentrate on a few important aspects of my life. And in order to do that I needed to be fully present everywhere and at all times, without spending much of each day wondering how to write about what I was seeing and what I was doing.

During this period, I spent a few weeks in the Philippines and then four days in Taipei before returning to the US.

Cool stuff over there in the Philippines and Taipei by the way. Beautiful islands and beaches in one and some of the best food I’ve ever eaten in the other.

short break on Apo Island, Philippines

short break with Beef Noodle Soup in Taipei

I highly recommend checking both out at some point if you can.

The Problem

While traveling to these places, I really wanted to take a closer look at myself, to recognize my issues, to figure out what I need to improve on as a human being.

Sixteen years of travel can leave a person a tad confused and I realized that if I didn’t start taking care of myself in as many ways as possible, real long-term happiness was going to be difficult to obtain or sustain.

It’s the same regardless of whether we work in an office, perform surgery or bounce around the world working on our laptop. Life can get frustrating and lose it’s excitement if we ignore our own well-being.

So that’s what I was trying to during my short break in the Philippines and Taiwan, and still now. Take care of myself.

It’s not easy. There have been good realizations. There have been tough realizations. There are breakthrough moments and plenty of setbacks too. I’ve made mistakes, upset a few people during this process and been forced to make some really hard decisions.

The good news is that with some dedicated effort, we can always improve ourselves.

short break on Kalanggaman Island, Philippines

The Process

What are some of the things I’ve been doing to feel healthier and to be a better, happier person?

Here’s my random list.

  • Low-carb, low-sugar diet, and I feel better than I’ve ever felt as a result.
  • Breathing techniques. A friend of mine sent me a video of this Dutch guy, Wim Hof, and how he uses breathing to do things such as hike mountains wearing only a pair of shorts and spend time in freezing water without any problem. (Odd stuff, not sure if there are actually any benefits, but it’s kind of fun to try and does feel good.)
  • Reading all types of books (here’s my book list) about how to be more confident, how to keep life simple, how to deal with some of my issues and more. (If you have any book recommendations, let me know in the comments!)
  • Spending much less time online.
  • Being fully open and saying what’s really on my mind more often.
  • Saying ‘no’ more often. Feels pretty good once you realize that it’s okay to say it.
  • Figuring out what interests I have beyond travel and how I can integrate those into my life.
  • Spending more time with good friends than usual.
  • Facing my fears, in every aspect of life.
  • Enjoying the simple everyday moments instead of always looking for the next grand adventure.

Simple stuff. But a completely different, and more intense, experience now that I’m fully present and focused on myself. I’m not saying that everyone should do the above though. It’s just what I’ve been doing given my circumstances.

The Important Realization

Before – and I used to say this often – I believed that it was important to ‘check in’ with ourself from time to time in order to make sure we’re taking care of ourself properly and that we’re on the path we really want to be on. But now I realize the error in that line of thinking.

Focusing on and taking care of ourselves needs to be an ever-present part of our every day life. It needs to be the main ingredient of the foundation that everything else – relationships, work, goals and beyond – can be built upon, not just something we pay attention to every now and then.

Otherwise, life can get messy. Now I see this. Now I can do something about it.

At the moment I’m on a five-day road trip to West Virginia, then going back to New York City. We’ll see how long I’ll stay there. I do have a couple of short trips planned for May, but the goal is to keep working on myself too.

Right now though, time for some more breathing exercises. I might even try to take a freezing cold shower this morning.

More to come soon…

And seriously, the Philippines and Taiwan – a remarkably beautiful and yummy pair of destinations if you’re ever in the region.

short break on Virgin Island, Philippines

short break with Stinky Tofu in Taipei

How have you been recently? Any travel plans? Any thoughts on the above? I’d love to hear what you’re up to.


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Comments 59

  1. Jellis Vaes

    Hey Earl, cool that you mention Wim Hof. It is actually scientifically been proven that The Wim Hof Method influences your Autonomic Nervous System and the innate immune response. Definitely keep on doing it!

  2. Dave

    Thanks for your honest and thoughtful post. I think you are right you do need to be focused on taking care of yourself. I think when you are travelling its harder to keep to all the required health habits and easy to slip into bad routines. I think this is when you need will power and to keep it at the forefront of your mind. At least in somewhere like the Philippines you can de-stress and take a step back and gather your thoughts.

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