GOOD

How Being a Technomad Makes My Life Richer

I have always had this feeling that I should be doing something special with my life, which is a big cosmic finger, because at 34 years old, I still have no idea what that something is… Meanwhile I am trying to live every moment.

I have always had this feeling that I should be doing something special with my life, which is a big cosmic finger, because at 34 years old, I still have no idea what that something is… Meanwhile I am trying to live every moment.


My husband John Leonard and I just completed 20 months of traveling through Latin America, because early in 2012, we decided to become mini documentary filmmakers.

We sold our stuff, mobilized a small business, bought a camera and left Australia to travel the world and capture the stories of people who make a difference to their communities.

We called our website Five Point Five because we were inspired by this short film about Narayanan Krishnan, a chef-turned-humanitarian who now improves the lives of impoverished people in India.

Krishnan says, “We all have 5.5 llitres of blood. We are all the same.” We took this a step further, we believe that as we all have 5.5 litres of blood – we all have the ability to make a difference.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_3BEwpv0dM

Sometimes a commitment is all you need to make a difference

With no prior experience, John learned how to make and edit documentaries watching Youtube clips in a hostel in Venezuela. After a few weeks, we were ready. We visited the slums in the north of Colombia to shoot our first film about a former street kid – Oscar, who turned his life around and set up two schools for kids from the slums. Without grants, aid and outside funding, he gives these kids hope for a better future. His commitment is palpable.

This is our focus… to capture the commitment, the change making, the phoenix from the ashes.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWIq68VluZU

We’ve learned that everywhere in the world where there is a need, there are people busting their guts to make a difference. We have found that an inspiring spirit of humanity often springs up. If this is encouraged or nurtured in any way, it can empower a whole community.

Mayan women share ancient growing techniques

According to the film “Thrive,” there are over one million for-good projects in the world right now - one million little projects bubbling away with positive goodness. So far we have filmed 17 beautiful stories of people and projects.

Most people want and need the same things… and laughter is universal.

Humor trumps language, every time. A smile and a laugh is a universal language, we have hacked our way through conversations and friendships in multiple languages that we don’t speak. But we can share wild gesticulations, play acting, warmth, silliness and laughs.

The typical greeting we get in most villages (Mexico)

When push comes to shove, most people have the same basic desires… to live in a safe environment, to love and be loved, to provide for our families, to have healthy and happy children and to be acknowledged for what we work hard for. You may look different, have different things, be rich or poor, but the same desires exist for almost every human being.

Traveling in Latin America comes with many warnings, mostly from well-meaning people who have never been there. Of course there is crime in Latin America just like there is in Australia, the United States, or any other country in the world. However on the whole, we found most cities to be safe, friendly and welcoming, and most rural areas even more so. The media generally only shares bad news, which can give you a very skewed picture of other countries. The safe bet is to not judge a country until you have been there yourself to experience it.

In Bolivia friendly zebras help ensure safety on crossings

Being a technomad makes life richer.

We now have a mindset of location freedom, so naturally we can see just how many opportunities there are to earn while traveling. We have met hundreds of people who have created their version of their dream life, through hard work, creativity and persistence and the one thing that they all had in common is that they actually took action on making their dreams happen.

The Guatemalan face of location freedom

We have found ourselves in many places, meeting people that you won’t find in the tourist brochures: the brothel in northern Nicaragua where women earn $4-6 per client; the football field behind a volcano where girls fight for the right to play; the orphanage in the jungle of Guatemala and the passionate student doctor in Cuba who grew up there; the men bursting with pride in the snowy highlands of Peru because learning permaculture techniques means their children get an education and can grow healthy and strong.

We have met the people passionate about wild animal rescue and people dedicated to animal and bee conservation. We have spent time with the people whose lives are dedicated to feeding the hungry, or educating and empowering whole communities so that they have the tools to live sustainably. We have met street kids and beggars, spent time in remote villages and shared bread with families still struggling to survive after centuries of violent and political oppression.

We have bitten off far more than we can chew, so our travel is hardly the cocktails on the beach I once imagined. Instead, we live a regular day in the life of people whose stories stay with us long after the filming is done.

Serena Star Leonard is a business coach, blogger and now, mini documentary presenter travelling the world capturing stories of people who make a difference to their communities. She is the author of the blog-that-became-a-book: “How to Retire in 12 Months” and one of the founders of Five Point Five.

Articles
AFP News Agency / Twitter

A study out of Belgium found that smart people are much less likely to be bigoted. The same study also found that people who are bigoted are more likely to overestimate their own intelligence.

A horrifying story out of Germany is a perfect example of this truth on full display: an anti-Semite was so dumb the was unable to open a door at the temple he tried to attack.

On Wednesday, October 9, congregants gathered at a synagogue in Humboldtstrasse, Germany for a Yom Kippur service, and an anti-Semite armed with explosives and carrying a rifle attempted to barge in through the door.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities
via Andi-Graf / Pixabay

The old saying goes something like, "Possessions don't make you happy." A more dire version is, "What you own, ends up owning you."

Are these old adages true or just the empty words of ancient party-poopers challenging you not to buy an iPhone 11? According to a new study of 968 young adults by the University of Arizona, being materialistic only brings us misery.

The study examined how engaging in pro-environmental behaviors affects the well-being of millenials. The study found two ways in which they modify their behaviors to help the environment: they either reduce what they consume or purchase green items.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

One of the biggest obstacles to getting assault weapons banned in the United States is the amount of money they generate.

There were around 10 million guns manufactured in the U.S. in 2016 of which around 2 million were semiautomatic, assault-style weapons. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry's trade association, the U.S. industry's total economic impact in 2016 alone was $51 billion.

In 2016, the NRA gave over $50 million to buy support from lawmakers. When one considers the tens of millions of dollars spent on commerce and corruption, it's no wonder gun control advocates have an uphill battle.

That, of course, assumes that money can control just about anyone in the equation. However, there are a few brave souls who actually value human life over profit.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via Reddit and NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Trees give us a unique glimpse into our past. An examination of tree rings can show us what the climate was like in a given year. Was it a wet winter? Were there hurricanes in the summer? Did a forest fire ravage the area?

An ancient tree in New Zealand is the first to provide evidence of the near reversal of the Earth's magnetic field over 41,000 years ago.

Over the past 83 million years there have been 183 magnetic pole reversals, a process that takes about 7,000 years to complete.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Pixabay

The final episode of "The Sopranos" made a lot of people angry because it ends with mob boss Tony Soprano and his family eating at an ice cream parlor while "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey plays in the background … and then, suddenly, the screen turns black.

Some thought the ending was a dirty trick, while others saw it as a stroke of brilliance. A popular theory is that Tony gets shot, but doesn't know it because, as his brother-in-law Bobby Baccala said, "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right?"

So the show gives us all an idea of what it's like to die. We're here and then we're not.

Keep Reading Show less
Health