Live Inspired: a new, strange life

• Brought to you by John Reamer and Associates •

Over the last three weeks, traveling solo through Mexico has given me some of the most memorable moments of my life.

It’s also given me some of my biggest challenges. 

I’ve traveled overseas alone, a lot. But in the past, I’ve always had an end date, a more luxurious budget, an ability to go with the flow — because the pressure of getting real things done was low.

I would soak it up. Live in the moment. Then I would go home. 

Now, I am attempting to start a business while learning living abroad. Either situation, alone, might have be enough to overwhelm me. Managing the two, together, has been almost breaking at times.

Last week, I called my mom while sitting at a cafe in a new place, where the WiFi wouldn’t work. My voice cracked in a way I rarely allow in public. I hoped my sunglasses would hide the tears rolling down my cheeks.

CITY GUIDE: Oaxaca’s vibrant markets

-visit oaxaca -visiting oaxaca -should I visit oaxaca  -things to do in oaxaca  -things to do visiting oaxaca  -weekend trip to oaxaca -trip to oaxaca  -what to do in oaxaca -oaxaca tourist attractions  -when to visit oaxaca  -is oaxaca worth visiting -what to do in oaxaca -tourist attractions near oaxaca  -best places to eat oaxaca -best things to do in oaxaca -oaxaca itinerary  -oaxaca attractions -places to visit in oaxaca -oaxaca must sees  -top things to do in oaxaca -oaxaca museums

Travel around Mexico long enough and you’ll find that big, vibrant markets are one of the country’s calling cards. 

Markets, here, are part of daily life, operating as shopping destinations, social hangouts and community support systems. Walk through a given market and you’re likely to see families eating, watching sports on TV, playing cards, caring for their children, cooking and sewing.

But in Oaxaca de Juárez, especially, this wealth is elevated to another level, thanks to its enormous bounty of wares. 

The city, a quaint, walkable town with just 300,000 residents, is known for its craftsmanship — wood and leather goods, pottery and textiles among them — and its art. It is the Mecca of mezcal. And the food that originates here, from sweet black mole to tlayudas to fried grasshoppers, is unique, varied and flavorful.

As a result, sprawling markets seemingly wait around every corner, particularly in the south end of town. And all of them are just a little bit different. 

Here are 7 markets to know before you go:

Live Inspired: an introduction

• Brought to you by John Reamer and Associates •

I am extremely excited to officially announce my new partnership with John Reamer and Associates!

Every week, I’ll be sharing a short story about my travels here and on the John Reamer and Associates social media pages, under the banner Live Inspired.

My first post…

For the last eight years, I’ve worked as a newspaper reporter at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and have lived a mostly happy, mostly comfortable existence.

But last month, I gave all that up. I quit my job, I sold all my things and said goodbye to my house.

Why? Because I was inspired to pursue a lifelong dream instead — traveling the world with an open itinerary. And in order to do so, I’m severely pushing myself out of my comfort zone. After a few weeks on the road (hola from Mexico!), I have a new appreciation for some of the basic amenities I’ve lost: hot showers, clean bathrooms, a kitchen to cook in and even conditioner (I’m carrying my life on my back, so toiletry items are very limited).

Still, I’m inspired to keep trekking, to see new things, to meet new people, to challenge myself, to find gratitude for things I’ve long taken for granted, to better understand a corner of the world so different from my own.

Along the way, I’ll be sharing my experiences, my victories and my struggles. Already, it’s been emotional… and I’m only just beginning. I hope you come along for the ride.

Mexico City guide: go forth, eat on the streets

Ciudad de México, or CDMX as its commonly abbreviated, is known for its historical beauty, it’s vibrant, bustling vibe and it’s incomparable style — represented in both high design and fashion, and the colorful street art that graces just about every block.

Mexico’s capital boasts world-class museums, epic public markets and sophistication that comes along with being one of the world’s largest cities.

But in a sprawling metro that seemingly has it all, Mexico City’s greatest treasure might come via lowly rolling carts bedecked with griddles.

Yep, the street tacos are incredible, and a trip isn’t complete without them.

In fact, Mexico City’s street food is so skillfully made and so nuanced in variety that UNESCO recognized the cart grub as “an intangible cultural heritage of mankind” in 2010. Pretty good for stuff made in a kitchen the size of a small closet.

Here’s what you need to know to eat like a pauper and a king, simultaneously:

My nomadic journal: early struggles

On the night before I boarded a plane with a one-way ticket to Mexico, I was out to eat with my family, and my sister asked me if I was nervous.

“Nope,” I said, stuffing my face with North Carolina barbecue. 

“But — do you have butterflies?” she pressed.

“I actually don’t,” I said.

I was being honest. On the eve of the biggest decision of my life, my greatest adventure, my greatest challenge, I was certain: I was going to kick ass. 

I had no doubts. Traveling like this, on my own with no itinerary, was what I had always wanted to do. It was what I was meant to do.

Two weeks into my nomad existence, I can hardly write those sentences without tearing up. Yep, that’s right. I’m close to crying right now. I’ve been crying a lot.

A loveletter to Minneapolis

Dear Minneapolis,

When I came to you in 2010, I was just 24, an intern, and eager to charge into a new city for what I thought would be three months.

When the summer ended, and I was offered a full-time job to stay, I still believed I would only stick around for two years, max. I was on a tear, then.  I wanted to live everywhere and never slow down.

But you wrapped your tree-trunk arms around me, showing me a metropolitan area with so much green. A place where you could bike to sky-scrapers in 10 minutes and bike to a lake in five. A town with top-tier options for eating, drinking and the arts but a blue-collar vibe. A city with with quirky neighborhoods, charming street corners and much more diversity than meets the eye.

I made OK money and didn’t pay too much for rent. There wasn’t a place in the city I couldn’t get by bike.

I decided to stay for a while.

stuff your life

How to stuff your life into four boxes

Step 1: Have some things, maybe a lot of things, and a place to live, maybe you even really like that place, and a vibrant, complex life stationed somewhere, maybe it’s kind of great.

Step 2: Remove 98 percent of step one.

Welcome to my insane life! I’m currently in the process of removing 98 percent of it and stuffing the rest into four oversized plastic bins.

Follow my journey

Follow my journey!

Follow my journey – Hi friends, fam, big badass world: I’m inviting you all to come with me on the journey of a lifetime — one with no itinerary and no end date.

After more than a decade in traditional print media — including the Minneapolis Star Tribune where I covered sports, food and travel for the last 8 years — I’ve decided to cut the cord and take on some of my own projects and goals.

I’m selling almost everything I own, saying goodbye to my apartment, strapping on a backpack and heading out — with no safety net, no promises.