This past weekend, Michelle and I volunteered as Ambassadors at the 2014 World Domination Summit (an event that brought together 3000+ participants and over 80+ volunteers and staff together in Portland, OR). Before you ask yourself “What is that?” (too late) let me provide you with some context and history as to how we got there.
How We Got Here
4 years ago, life was going well. Michelle and I both had awesome jobs at 2 different universities in Portland. We were in the process of buying a house, setting down roots… But we decided, it wasn’t the life that what we wanted.
What we wanted was a life that allowed for adventure, specifically: travel. We wanted more freedom, both in time and flexibility to pursue different opportunities to explore our world and, more importantly, spend time with each other as well as family and friends. And so began the journey of living a simple and intentional life.
In the last 4 years Michelle and I have:
– Gone on a month-long road trip visiting many of the National Parks of the West
– Traveled to Tampa to get to know my Great Aunt and help her move
– House sat for many people all over the Northwest
– Served 2 years with Peace Corps in Jamaica
– Traveled to Montreal and Quebec City
– Traveled to Washington DC as winners of a Peace Corps “Blog It Home” contest
– Road trip through Canada and the US visiting Banff and Glacier National Parks
– Travel to France and Switzerland for a month visiting family and doing a Help Exchange
– House sit throughout the NW (and possibly elsewhere)
A Shift in Perspective
Though I’m a dreamer, I’ll have to admit that when we first started this adventure I was very skeptical about it all. How would we afford to travel, to live? What about retirement? Health care?
“When you really want something to happen, the whole world conspires to help you achieve it.” ― Paulo Coelho
The first major change in our life was our attitudes. We believed it was possible. We didn’t have tangible, specific answers to all the uncertainty. We had belief. And because both of us were open and believed that things would happen to help us live the life we wanted, they did. And it is still happening today.
If you know both of us as a couple, you know that although we have similar beliefs and values, how we arrive at that point, how we understand and go about our world is night and day. Michelle is a researcher- analytical and practical. She puts in countless of hours studying, verifying, and planning. For me, I go off of feeling, intuition, and irrational logic (if there is such a thing). In other words, I put my trust in Michelle.
Finding the Art of Non-Conformity
Michelle’s research led her to countless blogs from people all over the world that were also living unconventional lives. It turns out this community happened to be very open about what they were doing and how they were doing it. So not only did we get confirmation that it was possible, we were also given the information and tools to make this happen for ourselves.
One of the main resources of information and inspiration came from someone named Chris Guillebeau and his blog, The Art of Non-Conformity. Chris seems like a down-to-earth, normal guy (I can say that because we met him recently), who is living an amazing and remarkable life. Best of all, he shares with others how to do the same and inspires a community of like-minded folk to come together every summer in Portland for a gathering he founded called the World Domination Summit (WDS).
So what is the World Domination Summit?
Everyone who attended has their own answer but here’s the best way I can put it: World Domination Summit is a gathering of people who are intentionally finding ways to live life unconventionally. It is centered around the core values of Community, Adventure, and Service. Maybe it would make more sense if I gave examples of people that I met at this conference:
– A woman who used to be in debt, working too many hours, unhealthy, not getting to spend time with family, who then started a community around drinking healthy green smoothies and now is financially secure, and more important, happy and healthy – http://simplegreensmoothies.com/
– A man who figured out an efficient and effective way to learn new 13 languages – http://www.fluentin3months.com/
– A man who took a vow of silence for 17 years, walked a cross the US, earned his Masters, and PHD in the process in order to bring attention to environmental issues – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Francis_(environmentalist)
– A woman who uses her love of art and mountain biking in places like Afghanistan to bring awareness and action to improving women’s rights and opportunities – http://www.mountain2mountain.org/
And these were just four of thousands of stories and examples of people doing amazing things, living life differently, and serving others.
Living A Remarkable Life
Currently our world is dominated by values and themes that prevent us from dreaming that anything else is possible. Think of a child who has an amazing gift as a dancer or an artist, but someone tells them they can’t make a living from that life. We live in a world where we follow conventional thought, lives that are in some ways predetermined by measurements of success that don’t have real value. Want to travel the world? People will tell you it’s not possible, it’s too expensive. But we saw so many examples of people that were living proof that lives of adventure, community, and service do exist.
We aren’t saying one persons’s life choices are better than another’s. We aren’t saying you have to go out and travel or become an artist to have a remarkable life.
We are just saying that it’s possible and worth trying.
Event Notes and Photos
We will be sharing more stories and talking more about WDS in future posts. If you’d like to see some cliff notes from the the keynote speakers of the conference, check out the following link – http://scottberkun.com/2014/notes-from-world-domination-summit-part-1/