. 4th of July, a different side of me, and a world domination summit in Portland - Budget Travel Adventures : Budget Travel Adventures

4th of July, a different side of me, and a world domination summit in Portland

July 4 fireworks Portland Willamette river

July 4 fireworks over the Willamette river in Portland

Exploding fireworks and the sounds of happiness filled the skies on this cool summer evening in Portland. People were scattered all over the city enjoying the festive atmosphere on 4th of July.

I walked along the waterfront on the banks of the Willamette River. Crowds of people lined the sidewalks and sat on the grass. Kids screamed with delight and fear at the lights and sounds overhead.

It had been a few years since I spent Independence Day watching fireworks explode over a city skyline. As I stood and watched, I resisted the temptation to pull out my camera at first. But seeing the fireworks in the sky, I realized the irony of what I was seeing.

This was the perfect start to the World Domination Summit in Portland.

4th of July fireworks – from tragedy to triumph

blue red fireworks July 4 Portland

“And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air”…are beautiful?


Meant to symbolize “the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air.” Something that was tragic and ugly we now celebrate as beautiful and a symbol of our freedom.

As the white light of fireworks crackled against the black sky, it looked as if the universe was exploding. Beauty from chaos.

So much of life is spent running from the chaos and ignoring the tragic. But what if the chaos was celebrated? What if we spent more time embracing the tragic, broken, and ugly in our lives as it becomes a symbol of freedom and beauty?

A different side of me

white fireworks Portland July 4

Chaos and beauty in the form of fireworks

I came to Portland to be a part of the World Domination Summit. It isn’t as scary as it sounds. We don’t want to take over the world; just make it a better place to live. WDS is about empowering people to live remarkable lives in a conventional world.

So I started WDS doing everything I wasn’t supposed to do and ignored conventional.

On Friday night, I skipped the opening party and was invited to hear a guy play some acoustic music at a winery. I met some fun, amazing people and had a blast.

I did things I’ve never done. I crashed a wedding and was welcomed by the bride for doing so!

I encountered people that brought out a different side of me. It was the perfect way to start World Domination Summit – the unconventional way.

World Domination Summit – a different side of me part II

World Domination Summit Darren Rowse Superman

World Domination Summit – Darren Rowse aka Superman

World Domination Summit means something different for everyone.  We came because we want to live a better life, make a difference, tell a story, leave a legacy.  However, our situations and circumstances are different.

My story, just like your story, isn’t the same as everyone else.  However, here’s world domination from my point of view.

I spent the weekend being inspired by people – speakers, fellow attendees, and new friends.

Everything I ever held true in my life was challenged – who I am, what I believe, what is right for my life. I laughed. I had engaging, fun, interesting conversations. I filled up a notebook with quotes, questions, bits of wisdom, stats.

I left with empty pages in my soul where the answers have yet to be written.

During my last day there, I cried. I don’t even know why. I just know that I am not content in my life and haven’t been for a long time.

Throughout my life, I’ve struggled with depression. Most of the time, I’m pretty good but high expectations, insecurity, and living a life that doesn’t seem to fit gets me down sometimes. Is that a life confession or a travel confession? I don’t know – but it’s my reality.

I’ve lived my entire life in a left brained world. I was a really good student, an all star baseball player, and a bit of a jerk in high school (as I learned from my high school reunion). I went to college, majored in accounting (the first class I ever took), graduated, and have been working in IT for the last 16 years.

Without a doubt, I am extremely analytical and logical – sometimes to a fault. I love stats and numbers. I am good at researching. That came in very handy when I started travel blogging and writing about travel tips like cheap flights and tips for summer airfares.

As I started writing more, I found that there are others who do the travel research better than me – like Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt. The more I wrote, I realized I don’t want to write about deals and tips all the time. I want to go deeper and share stories and connect with places and people.

The creative side of story telling proclaimed to the left brain that enough was enough.

For 15 years, I’ve always had a project – golf, travel, fixing things in my life, a degree in computer science, travel blogging. Outside of my job, I’ve spent a considerable part of my time pursuing one passion after another in an attempt to get more out of life.

This weekend, I realized what I’ve been doing. I’ve also come to the conclusion that everything I’ve always believed about myself and the way I’ve lived my life may be wrong.

Life lessons from World Domination Summit

World Domination Summit Don Miller

World Domination Summit – Don Miller

Darren Rowse showed me that I need to get my dreams out of my head, look to what gives me energy, and find ways that my dreams can solve problems.  I need to review my life each day, re-examine my dreams, and take a step towards that dream.

Jia Jiang embraced rejection and sought after it 100 times.  He learned that rejection is a reflection of someone else’s opinion and preferences and not a reflection of the one receiving it.  Just ask.  If you don’t, the worst rejection is denying yourself a potential opportunity you never pursued because you were afraid.

Chase Jarvis challenged everything about the way I grew up, lived my life, and how I defined success.  Imagination is greater than knowledge and creativity is needed for every activity and profession in life.  We’ve spent too much time taking tests and not enough time creating and inspiring.

Maybe the idea of college and getting a job isn’t the path to happiness or success.

So what’s the key to happiness?  Gretchen Rubin says that it is knowing yourself.  Negative emotions, envy, and lying can show us what needs to change, what we want, and the disconnect between our values and actions.  We need to understand how to handle expectations in our outer and inner worlds.  We need to find that 10 year old kid inside all of us to know what makes us happy.

Andrew Warner challenged us to listen to our true mind and not believe the statements of our counter mind (those negative thoughts we listen to that aren’t true).  Tess Vigeland understands that being remarkable and successful isn’t being good at what you do.

World Domination Summit notes

World Domination Summit notes – carried with me and read numerous times a day

Don Miller inspired me to live a meaningful life – that real person buried underneath the shame and personality that we have built around us. We are not our successes or failures but the stories we create with the people in our lives.

As I walked to catch the train and head to the airport, tears filled my eyes. I left believing I can’t live a left brained life any more. Everything I’ve ever known about myself and what I believed was challenged.

I don’t know what is that next step for my life. There may be drastic changes. Maybe I’ll give up writing and do something else. Maybe I’ll quit my job and go save the world.

Maybe I just need to save myself from a life I thought I wanted but have always been looking to escape.

I don’t know what’s next. However, it’s time for the right and left brain to live together in harmony. It’s time for a different side of me.

Inspired by World Domination Summit, here are a few questions to inspire and challenge you about your life. If you feel comfortable, share your answers to any of them in the comments.

What’s one dream you’ve had that you’ve never told anyone?
What activities give you energy and make you feel alive?
What’s the biggest fear you have about pursuing your dreams?
What’s one skill or activity that inspires your creative side?
What’s something true about your real self that you can offer to the world?

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  1. nicole says:

    I think the biggest fear anyone has about pursuing their dreams is the thought of failure. People always say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But, sometimes you just don’t want to know what it feels like to almost be killed (in the metaphorical sense).

    I would love to get my foot in the door for freelance writing. Our blog is new, but even newer blogs have way more followers than we do. And some popular blogs with massive amounts of followers have TERRIBLE writing (I mean, just awful). I don’t claim to be the best on writing, but sometimes it disheartens me to see this. =/ And that creeping feeling of failure sets in.

    • I completely agree. I hate failure to be honest. If I’m even more honest, I would say I don’t attempt things where there’s a good chance I could fail. I work hard and pretty much force myself to succeed in anything I attempt (and I have). However, maybe that means I’m not dreaming big enough?

      As someone who writes (and with an accounting degree and works in IT at that!), I agree with you about the quality. Some of it is awful. However, never underestimate the power of pretty photos. For some people, they enjoy the visual stimulation with a few words here and there. Others enjoy the written word which makes a place come alive. I know which one I like and want to do (doesn’t mean I do it well but I do think I’ve improved my writing over the years). So I would encourage you to write and write and write. The more you do it, the better you will get at it. Get some help for others. Reach out to people that you know. Find your voice.

      Yes you will fail. If you aren’t getting rejected, then you aren’t asking for enough opportunities. Honestly, this is easier said than done because I am like you – I hate failure and don’t take my own advice. However, if it’s your dream go for it. Obstacles will come. When you face them, push through them or see what they are telling you. Best of luck Nicole!

      • From another accounting nerd who “grew up” in the IT world & dreams of writing…. I wholeheartedly agree. The writing on my website is probably pretty terrible (I’m pretty sure my English high school teachers only gave me a passing grade because I’m nice), but I’m told I connect with the reader & give them hope. If that’s really true, then I must keep writing (for them, not me), even though the thought of being a failure nearly paralyzes me sometimes.

        • Loralee, I am glad to know there are other people like me out there. I just didn’t think there were too many other IT/accounting nerds who liked to write! I can’t say I’ve been the best writer over the course of my life. However, I’ve had glimpses of a writing passion.

          Back in 7th grade, I wrote an essay about something (I don’t even remember what it was) and I was picked to read it in front of the entire school. I still remember that day (just not the essay). In my job, I’ve been complimented on my writing and communication skills. However, it’s all a work in progress. Just keep writing. The more you do it, the better you will get at it. Find your voice and remember your audience when you write (something I need to work on).

          Like you, I abhor failure. I tend to succeed at everything I try. However, I think that’s because I am safe and don’t take more risks. I know my skills and abilities and stay within them. I also work very, very hard to make sure I succeed in whatever I do. Maybe I need to dream bigger. I still don’t what it is I’m supposed to do. But if writing is your passion, do it every day. Love it, learn more about it, and just do it. If you love something enough and it’s meant to be, doors will open or other push you in a different direction.

          Good luck!

    • Jenna says:

      I have felt similar frustrations, but I would encourage you to keep on and don’t worry about what some other bloggers might be doing. If you write well and have interesting content, people notice. Off to check out your blog now :)

  2. I like the sound of the World Domination Summit. It reminds me of how I rolled at TBEX.

    • To dominate TBEX you have to be there :)

      Actually, this was much much different than TBEX. I chose this on purpose because I wanted something bigger than travel. I wanted to be around other people from all walks to get a bigger perspective on life.

  3. Audrey says:

    Love this line: “it’s time for the right and left brain to live together in harmony.” I (and Dan, too) know that feeling all too well – our previous jobs were completely left-brained. The trick is harmony – both sides are important.

    Really glad we had a chance to talk briefly at WDS and that you recognized that it was the right place to be for you. Good luck with all the decisions and thinking coming up. We’re doing a lot of that ourselves. Not easy, but necessary.

    • Thanks Audrey. I lived in a left brain world my whole life. Even when I wasn’t at work, my left brain has ruled my life. I analyze, think, research, and have a hard time shutting my brain off from trying to figure things out. Travel writing has been a HUGE help for me as I’ve explored a creative side I never knew I had. I’ve seen it grow more and more. I am not sure what is next for me but I hope if nothing else, I’ve got a little more balance to the two sides of my brain now.

      I really enjoyed talking with you and Dan. I have a lot of respect for both of you. Your stories and travels are inspirational. More importantly, you’re real, engaging, down to earth, and humble. I’ve met many travelers and bloggers over the years. Some I connect with and some I don’t. However, my list of genuinely awesome people is small and I would put both of you on that. So thank you. Keep inspiring others with your lives and stories!

  4. Jenna says:

    I would love to attend this conference. I will have to look into it and see where and when the next one will be.
    I have doubts about where I am going and if I am doing what really makes me happy when I see others who are living their dreams, but I know that I have a lot to be thankful for right where I am now. Looking forward to seeing where your new perspectives take you :)

    • For years, I’ve attended travel conferences and meet ups. I told a few of the travel people there at WDS I was here because I needed something bigger than travel. I wanted something to inspire me, to get a bigger picture on life. I’m not against giving up travel writing completely. I still enjoy it. However, it’s about finding that thing in my life where energy meets passion and I know this is what I am supposed to be doing.

      Maybe I shouldn’t admit that I have doubts about my travel writing. Then again, if I didn’t I wouldn’t be honest with myself and others. And after all that I’ve already shared, it’s too late not to be open and honest now :)

      Hope you get a chance to go. Next year, the dates are July 11 – 13 I believe. The conference is always in Portland. Tickets are $400 or more (depends on when you buy) but it’s worth it if you are thinking about direction and purpose for you life. Since you’re turning 40 soon, this might be right up your alley! :)

  5. Great story and opening of your inner thoughts and desires. Darren Rowse is someone I admire for many years. Chase Jarvis is someone who created Creative Live with others to offer so much to so many people.

    Your story is the second I have heard of World Domination Summit – a new conference – the first I heard of it was from Darren Rowse because he was going to be a speaker.

    I spent umpteen years in IT from Field Tech to Support to Marketing and my creative side kept calling me – diametrically opposed sides of my personality – making me feel an either or situation and working to blend myself.

    Finding the right place and crowd has been a challenge. Having degrees in technical and certificates and certification in the creative the blending continues.

    Very glad this was so moving for you. Midlife does that. Enjoy the process and the ride.

    • I have been left brained my entire life. I never explored my creative side much. There were glimpses of it though. I wrote an essay in middle school that was picked to be read in front of the entire school. I gave a high school graduation speech. I’ve had little things here and there get noticed. However, I never gave much consideration to that side until I started writing about travel.

      Without a doubt, my analytical, technical side have dominated my career and personal life. I think there are others like you and me. As Chase Jarvis said in his speech, every field in the world needs creative people – including scientists and mathematicians. Too many of us have forgotten how to be creative. Look at any child and almost all of them are instinctually so creative. Where did we lose that? How have people like us suffered as a result.

      This entire conference has changed the way I thought about life, success, and being happy. Like you, I don’t know what this means for me long term. I just need to live with more right brain and left brain harmony. We will see where the adventure takes me from here.

      Hope you get a chance to go one year. This is truly inspiring. Not just the speakers but the people as well. Have you figured out what direction you want to go?

      I’ve used the mid life crisis term a few times now. But it’s weird to hear someone else use it when talking about my life :)

  6. Liz says:

    I wish we had a chance to catch up there! WDS is so busy it is really hard to meet all the amazing people. I had a great time this year too, see you next year? :)

    • Yes, I regret that as well. There were so many people there. I wish we had met at WDS. I really enjoyed my time and as you can read, was inspired and challenged. I do hope to be back next year. However, we will see where this journey takes me first. Maybe I will be off dominating the world! :)

      How did you enjoy the conference? What did you get out of it?

  7. Portland looks beautiful in that first photo!

    • It was fun being there for the 4th of July. It had been a while since I’ve enjoyed fireworks on Independence Day. I liked Portland and want to go back. Have you ever been there?

  8. Lola says:

    Thank you so much for sharing yourself and for sharing these inspiring quotes. Looks like we come from similar technical backgrounds. I love those questions and they’re going to inspire a future blog post which I’ll link back to this post.

  9. Kim says:

    I’ve been through a similar process. I initially followed the left-brain path but eventually moved on to photography, a more right-brained pursuit. Now, though, I’m wondering if I should’tve completely abandoned my left-brain tendencies as photography isn’t the best fit for me, either. I think it’s hard to say what’ll be right for me or for you, but I think it’s important to really listen to ourselves and not quiet any feelings of inner discontent. Being open to change and new opportunities may be the best way to move forward. Good luck on your new journey and I think it’s great that you’re taking the time to think about what you really want.

  10. Suzanne says:

    Sorry that I didn’t meet you at WDS – it was my first time there and so many amazing people. This is a great recap of the conference and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. I also have a background in accounting/finance and have had many bigger questions to explore right brain creativity as well having just started a travel blog and attended TBEX to see how to make changes. WDS definitely gave me additional life tools to help and made me see that there are others just like me searching for larger meaning in our day to day to be happy/content. Right+left brain harmony is such a great goal. I wish you the best on your journey and look forward to following you as you go forth and dominate the world on your own terms-

  11. Christy says:

    I’ve always wanted to crash a wedding! :) That’s so great that you went to WDS. I’m glad you got something out of it.

  12. April says:

    This is a great celebration of the World Domination Summit. The fireworks are really nice. It was great that you have traveled to look for a better life and to make a difference. I hope I can join the same event with my family because the dream that I always love would be having a simple life together with my family. So my family and I travel to different places for the reason of resting from stress and creating more great memories to strengthen our bond.

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