Creature comforts

Talking to my friends and family occasionally makes me homesick. Pictures of Cape Lookout from the hull of my aunt's boat are pretty effective.

But the one act that has made me the most homesick on Remote Year?

Buying shoes from Nordstrom and shipping them to Amanda. She's going to bring them to me while we're in Ireland.

That little act made me crave creature comforts, crave a life in the United States where those comforts are all around me. Crave the ability to shop at my favorite stores, crave familiar surroundings and comfortable extras that make a huge difference.

Like scented candles, bubble baths, fuzzy blankets. Fashion, of course, which I've already written about. At-home spa days and online shopping. Snuggling up on a comfy sofa to watch a movie, my favorite candy in-hand. Giving myself a pedicure while I watch an indulgent Netflix series. Taking an extra-long hot shower (with a favorite scent of body wash) after a session at the gym. Pulling down the coconut oil from the pantry and giving myself a little foot rub.

I read Emily's post on Cupcakes and Cashmere about how to make your week feel a little bit like a weekend, and found myself getting frustrated. I can do a couple of those things, but not the ones that make me feel recharged. 

Right now, I miss how easy things are in America. I miss feeling like I can fix it when I feel stressed or sick. I miss easily accessible self-care and I miss indulgences.

I hope that doesn't make me shallow.

I don't feel shallow.

I just feel worn out.


Taylor Coil is traveling the world with Remote Year, living in 12 countries in 12 months, while working as a marketing manager. Follow along to read more philosophies on work, stories from the road, and general (mis)adventures. Sign up for the weekly email or read more from the blog.

Iterating on life

Something isn't right. Something isn't working.

I don't need a vacation from work. I don't feel burned out and I'm genuinely happy to log on every weekday. That isn't it (though I am taking a few days off soon to hang out in Ireland with Amanda).

I don't need to be single. My relationship is great, definitely not the problem.

I don't need different (long-term) friends. I have found great people with whom to share my life.

But something isn't right. Something is really, really wrong.

Here's the truth: I'm happy in moments, but not in the aggregate.

The even worse truth is that I felt happier in Durham, in my life right before RY. I loved living with Jeff in a little apartment, going to the gym regularly, cooking all the time and watching food documentaries while we ate. 

That life wasn't quite right, either, because I desperately wanted change. I was antsy and itchy to try another way to live, to be somewhere else, to live somewhere other than Durham.

But needing to be somewhere else and joining a program like Remote Year aren't necessarily congruous. 

Something isn't right. I iterated, and perhaps I made the wrong choice.

It might be South America. Maybe I just need to get the hell out of this continent and get to Europe. I think that's part of it. I have a suspicion that it's not all of it.

It might be traveling with Remote Year. That's likely. I'm not exactly silent on my critique of the program, at least in regards to fit for a person like me.

It might be full-time travel. Maybe nomadism isn't the life I want. Maybe I don't like to work while I travel, at least internationally. Maybe I want to separate the two - work at home, and travel often. I do miss having a home. 

Maybe I needed to live in a different city.

Maybe I just needed a different job (which I now have). That's entirely possible. The happiest I've been, in recent memory, is working for Tortuga from Durham. 

Agile marketing, full of testing and iterating and learning, is what I do. We do something, we watch what happens, and we tweak the strategy (or change it altogether) based on results. Of course I've applied the same concepts to life.

I iterated in a major way, when I felt itchy.

I learned a lot - a hell of a lot.

I learned that remote work is exactly how I want to spend my career. I learned that I felt trapped for reasons that didn't hold weight. I learned what I value in a travel destination. I learned that yes, Jeff and I can actually get through anything (travel, especially like this, really challenges a relationship). I learned that I really love Durham, but I don't want to live there right now. I learned that a city like NYC might be a place that I could find happiness, much to my surprise (I wouldn't have said the same before coming on RY).

But something is not right, not yet, and it's time to iterate again. This test gave me lots of information, but I wouldn't call the results exactly optimal.

Learning from something and getting great results from something are not the same thing. 

So what now?

Iteration number next: change continents. Get to Europe, and see what I learn. And go from there.

Header image: Ales Krivec via Unsplash


Taylor Coil is traveling the world with Remote Year, living in 12 countries in 12 months, while working as a marketing manager. Follow along to read more philosophies on work, stories from the road, and general (mis)adventures. Sign up for the weekly email or read more from the blog.

Snapshots of life through music

When Jeff and I started dating, we talked a lot about music, as many do in a budding relationship. We'd share artists with each other and talk about what we listen to in different contexts. He sent me Zero7, I introduced him to The Staves. We bonded over a shared respect for each other's taste.

Yeah, I kept screenshots of our swoony conversations. What of it?

Yeah, I kept screenshots of our swoony conversations. What of it?

I didn't mention that my best friend and I were both obsessed with Nicki Minaj. I also didn't tell him about that one month where I couldn't stop listening to Hilary Duff's new album. Seriously - during one week, my ONLY "recently listened to" artist on Spotify was Hilary Duff. 

It was a rough time in my life, okay? 

Right after divorce, I found that every song sounded like a love song. A simple lyric would send me into uncontrollable sobs. It was a problem. I turned to what my friend called 'anthems' - decidedly safe songs that weren't about love or breakups or pain. Or if they were about pain, the lyrics weren't too raw. They were sophomoric glee in music form.

Stuff like Hilary Duff's album, Taylor Swift's 1989, Nicki Minaj's Pinkprint. Mixed with nostalgic tracks from way-pre-married life, songs that are so bad they're enjoyable like Mandy Moore's Candy and Jessica Simpson's With You (I loved that song in middle school). I compiled them all (except the T Swizzle ones, because she's not on Spotify) into a playlist I called "I'm appropriately ashamed of this playlist."

I think we all take a bit of pride in our tastes. Any clout that I could earn with a careful curation of music will be destroyed if you look at that playlist. Just know: it's not what I usually listen to.

That's what I listen to when everything hurts.

 

Tracking my healing through music

I've always found immense power in music. I use it to change my mood, to focus, to celebrate, to destress. It sets the tone of a dinner, it helps me power through a lethargic workday, it makes a commute way more fun.

After my ex left, I drowned my thoughts with Spotify. I listened to music all day, every day. I couldn't stand silence.

At that time, I had a habit of creating monthly or quarterly playlists. I'd sometimes carry over songs, usually all-time favorites like Cosmo Sheldrake's Solar (the lyrics are a William Blake poem) and Evergreen by Broods. Most of the songs and artists, however, would be unique.

Looking back on those playlists is a fascinating replica of my healing process.


December 2014: Broken

This is one of my all-time favorite playlists - it truly feels like a snapshot in time.

I listened to Wolf Gang with sadness - my ex and I discovered them a few years prior and loved their music. We'd sing their songs on road trips. I couldn't let go of those moments. 

The same was true of Ben Howard. I can't listen to Old Pine without crying, even now.

I binge-listened to AM, the 2013 release by the Arctic Monkeys. Snap Out Of It was a song that I'd angrily blare in my little convertible, pissed at my ex and that one Tinder guy. R U Mine? was the same.

Speaking of that one Tinder guy - his influence is all over my December 2014 playlist. He introduced me to Purity Ring, Beats Antique, and Crystal Castles. His taste is impeccable. 


Q1 2015: avoidance

This is quite a small playlist. I curated a few songs that didn't couldn't me of my ex. I knew he'd never heard of these artists and would probably not seek them out on his own.

Some of these turned into all-time favorites. I still love Not Going Home (really anything by Great Good Fine OK) and Uma by Panama Wedding. They'd definitely make the ranks in a "Taylor Loves These" playlist.

Also noticeably absent: any influence of the Tinder guy, peppered in my December tunes. I was pissed at everything. Though a third party could never guess my anger from this little collection of tunes, it's painfully obvious to me.


Q2 2015: Confusion

I'm calling this "confusion" because, today, I legitimately don't like some of the music on this playlist. I think SOHN is meh and I find myself skipping over Banks songs whenever they come on shuffle.

Wolf Gang re-appears here, this time not out of teary nostalgia but because I legitimately love their music. Same with Cosmo Sheldrake, Broods, Arctic Monkeys. I started to re-claim my own tastes and separate them from my ex.

I started adding in new influences in Q2 - Brendan introduced me to ODESZA. Another friend pointed me in the direction of Glass Animals. Those were steps forward... but then I looked at my ex's recent listens and grabbed Best Coast and Electric Guest. That's also where I found SOHN. Two steps forward, one step backward.


Summer 2015: Friends

Let's be honest: most of this playlist was influenced by people I love (though, at the time, Jeff was a crush and not yet a love).

Chloe and I listened to Ryn Weaver on the daily. I kept trying to get her into Tame Impala, but was met with ambivalence.

Jeff pointed me to DJ Shadow and Jamiroquai. Ratatat was suddenly not an association with my ex, but the songs Jeff and I would listen to in his GTI, driving to dinner.

Megan makes an appearance, too - she sent me Dillon Francis' Get Low as a joke. Doubt she thought I'd actually like it. I do. I really do.


August 2015: Bye Felicia

There is no trace of my old life in this playlist. I love Wolf Gang, but it reminds me of old Taylor. The Taylor who had a townhouse and a husband and a puppy and a convertible.

HOLYCHILD, Conner Youngblood, Phantogram and AURORA feel like the more current version of myself. Do yourself a favor and listen to all four immediately.

This playlist feels like independence, defiance, and moving on.

I guess I should admit that Chloe found HOLYCHILD first.


Fall 2015: Modern Taylor

This one feels the most "me." 

I found The 1975 (Love Me is a fave) and DWNTWN. I continued my love for Conner Youngblood. Man, I love that music. This playlist is full of the stuff I listen to today.

Of course, my friends' influences are all over it. Brendan and I listened to Big Grams obsessively for a while. Amanda and I went to a Lord Huron concert together. Chloe wouldn't stop talking about CHVRCHES' new songs.

This one, along with the very first "era" playlist I created, is my favorite. Fitting to begin and end on high notes.


I no longer create playlists based on eras, in part because my emotions don't change as completely as time goes on. I'm no longer in a turbulent process of getting through trauma. In 2014 and early 2015, my entire being was turbulent. The music I listened to reflected that.

Today, music is more circumstantial. I listen to one set of tunes while I work and a completely different playlist when I'm walking home or hanging out in my apartment. If I drove, ever, that'd be when I'd turn to these former eras. I love a bit of nostalgia when I drive.

It feels great to listen to these songs and feel no pain. I remember the pain I felt in December 2014, but it's only a memory.

That's progress.

Header image: Corey Blaz via Unsplash


Taylor Coil is traveling the world with Remote Year, living in 12 countries in 12 months, while working as a marketing manager. Follow along to read more philosophies on work, stories from the road, and general (mis)adventures. Sign up for the weekly email, or read more from the blog.

Illness is defeating right now

I've always been the person who refuses to let illness get in the way, for better or for worse. I won't lose a workday, but I will stay sick for longer. It is not a good thing and not something that should garner accolades. It stemmed from feeling unable to take care of myself if it came at the expense of productivity.

A few years ago, I had an awful bout of laryngitis. I still worked - every day - until my doctor told me point-blank to go home and sleep. That's in part because my sick time and vacation time were one in the same, and I didn't want to let laryngitis in January keep me from taking time off at Christmas to spend time with my family. But that's another story.

The plus side of that: illness has always been something annoying that I had to deal with, but not something that impacted my mental state.

Today, that's not the case.

I get sick a lot on Remote Year. That's mostly because we're in South America, where bouts of food poisoning are frustratingly difficult to avoid. I've gotten a cold or two, but that's bound to happen regardless.

I've now had 4 awful encounters with food poisoning in 3.5 months. That's not counting the many, many days of an upset stomach (but a manageable one). In Argentina, I was throwing up so hard that vomit came out of my nose. The other night, I spiked a high fever in the middle of my nausea-filled misery and had to deal with sweats and intense body aches. It was so bad that I wondered if my typhoid vaccine was a dud.

 
Feeling like death on a bus while Martin and Jeff were exploring Pisac, Peru.

Feeling like death on a bus while Martin and Jeff were exploring Pisac, Peru.

 

In the grand scheme of things, it's not that bad. 

But it feels so incredibly defeating, every time.

Every time my stomach turns, I feel as though illness is inevitable. Getting healthy is a shallow joy because I'm just waiting for the next time it'll strike, the next moment that I'll be incapacitated by some environmental factor. The frequency and severity are so, so frustrating. Feeling shitty is my reality, and feeling healthy is a nice (occasional) break. 

I can't remember the last time I got food poisoning in the USA.

In that sense, Europe feels like my saving grace. I know I'll probably get sick in Europe, too, but probably not as often. Hopefully not as severely. 

In just over two weeks I leave for London, where vegetables aren't suspect and water isn't poisonous. Where I can easily find healthy food to boost my immune system.

Two weeks until I feel like I can breathe, literally and figuratively.

I love you, Peru, but I have really hit my South America threshold. My body is done.

Header image: negative space.


Taylor Coil is traveling the world with Remote Year, living in 12 countries in 12 months, while working as a marketing manager. Follow along to read more philosophies on work, stories from the road, and general (mis)adventures. Sign up for the weekly email or read more from the blog.

My capsule wardrobe needs work

I have a goal.

By the time the V3 of the Tortuga comes out (we don't have firm release dates yet, but I have a general time frame), I will be down to a carry-on backpack and a personal item.

Y'all - it's harder than it sounds. Especially for long-term travel.

I've always been a carry-on-only traveler, but I've also never traveled indefinitely. I packed a lot of just-in-case items that have come in handy in South America. Like a wine opener. It was weirdly difficult to find wine openers in Uruguay.

I'll ditch those superfluous things in Europe, where it'll be easier to find ad hoc gear that I need. That part is easy.

My biggest challenge lies in my wardrobe. 

I'm sick of my clothes and I miss the ability to dress fashionably. My go-to aesthetic isn't exactly minimalist and I don't love the look of performance gear. I'll never be the girl who wears head-to-toe Arc'teryx and Merrell and Patagonia. I'd far rather wear Free People and Asos and Halogen - but I have to find packable and layerable options from my favorite brands. I want this in my capsule wardrobe, but try stuffing those sleeves under a jacket.

Dammit.

I'm finding the line between fashion and practicality to be particularly challenging.

 

What I'm missing altogether:

  • Tights (regular and fleece-lined)
  • A maxi skirt - Lauren Hom has a gorgeous one in an elephant print that I covet on the regular
  • Black cigarette pants, or maybe something more stylish like joggers (but ughh they aren't as practical or versatile)
  • Dressy shoes (that are packable and comfy) like these in black or these, if my size comes back in stock
  • Bodysuit (great for layering under the maxi skirt I don't own)
  • Wool cardigan (planning to purchase this one in Dublin)
  • A flannel shirt (I had one, but I lost it in Montreal)
  • Laptop bag (as a personal item, for more space)

What I have, but want to replace:

  • Mini skirt - mine is a print, which isn't as easy to mix and match. I'd love a black or grey one with interesting textures. 
  • Jeans. I want to switch to high-waisted. You were right about that one, Emily. 
  • A dress or two. I want one that makes me feel like a badass and is nice enough for dressy occasions. My current options fulfill neither requirement.
  • Tops. I need some better layers. But stylish ones, not plain merino v-necks.
  • A warm jacket. Mine is not very warm.

My MVP items:

  • Jeans (even though they don't fit very well)
  • Ankle boots, comfy enough for walking through a city
  • Black bomber jacket
  • Blanket scarf
  • My Marmot Precip rain jacket. I respectfully disagree with my Tortuga colleages who think rain jackets are specialized gear that don't belong in carry-ons. I wear this thing all the time.

Things I need to ditch:

  • Half of my workout gear (I don't need as much as I have)
  • First aid kit 
  • A pair of shoes (or two) and replace them with the ones linked above
  • Tees - why did I bring so many tees?
  • My UNC hoodie (sorry, hoodie)
  • Clothes that make me feel bleh
  • Superfluous toiletries
  • Things that won't fly (get it) through TSA

Oy, this is going to be difficult.

Header image: Hannah Morgan via Unsplash.


Taylor Coil is traveling the world with Remote Year, living in 12 countries in 12 months, while working as a marketing manager. Follow along to read more philosophies on work, stories from the road, and general (mis)adventures. Sign up for the weekly email or read more from the blog.

Oh happy day

Today, I feel like this.

I woke up with three ideas for Tortuga.

Two little insignificant ideas, but ideas that will certainly help us move forward on quarterly goals. Tiny things that feel like the missing pieces to a couple of my projects.

One idea that will turn into a massive passion project at work, one that I am so excited about and believe in completely. Not because I think it will work, but because I think it should exist in the world and it makes sense for Tortuga to produce. It makes sense for me to produce, as the marketing arm. I work for a company wherein that justification is enough. 

Man, that's awesome.

Patrick, our in-house product designer, has mentioned before that remote teams sacrifice serendipity. I can see that, from a design standpoint.

The loss of serendipity isn't true for me. For me, remote work takes away all of the little stressors that build up over time - the stressors that are caused by a work environment. The lack of those stressors ignite serendipity in me more frequently and with more passion.

It's little things, like the fact that I never set an alarm. I wake up when my body tells me it's ready. It's the fact that I'm never watching the clock when I'm out to lunch. I don't know if my ceviche takes 45 minutes or two hours. And I don't care. 

It's that nobody bugs me to be on at a certain time, that nobody cares if I'm hyperproductive during every hour that I work.

It's that people trust me, that I have true autonomy.

It's that I can have a week of working HARD, then take two days of only doing the bare minimum to recoup my mental energy. That happened this week. On Monday and Tuesday, I coasted. I was just getting by. But the week before? I worked my ass off.

And those two days of coasting allowed me to recharge.

Allowed for serendipity on a Friday morning.

Allowed me to get to the point where I could accomplish everything I needed to (and a few things I didn't, but wanted to cross off anyway) in the latter half of the week.

Allowed for a workday on cloud nine, a feeling of true bliss.

Bliss that was caused by my job. 

How cool is that?

Header image: a silly picture of a Tortuga that I drew at lunch today.


Taylor Coil is traveling the world with Remote Year, living in 12 countries in 12 months, while working as a marketing manager. Follow along to read more philosophies on work, stories from the road, and general (mis)adventures. Sign up for the weekly email or read more from the blog.

For Chloe

Warning: Chloe, you're going to cry, don't read this at work. Or do, but don't immediately run into the Nugget guys at the coffee station afterwards. Go to the bathroom first and fix your mascara. Actually, scratch that, walk up to the Nugget guys and freak them out and then text me about it later.

Find your people and hold them dear. Sometimes, when I'm feeling really emotional about the people I love, I write about them. Thus far I've written about Brendan and Jeff. It's Chloe's turn. 

I have my people, wrapped up in my best friend. Sometimes, she feels like all of my people. She is the one who understands every nuance of my soul and compliments my essence with her own. She is my constant companion (no matter the distance), my platonic life partner, my favorite person. We understand and love each other in a way that is unparalleled. Stop crying, Chloe.

She is a brilliant, hilarious, loud (so loud), wise, kind, take-no-prisoners, self-aware, and a badass boss-goddess. "Boss bitch" isn't very on brand for Chloe. I see her more as a goddess. Though she'll tell you she's not a goddess, she's an elf - Galadriel, to be specific.

#GIRLBOSS.

#GIRLBOSS.

 

Some disjointed and emotional thoughts about my love for my best friend

You do not cross Chloe, because she might literally break your kneecaps (watch out, ex-husband who was mean to me and ex-boyfriend who was mean to both of us). I don't mean literally in the colloquial disambiguation sense - I mean literally. 

She has incredibly high standards. She knows what she values in a person and will hold you to that.

You can disagree, but you must be self-aware. She has no tolerance for "shitty people."

If you've won her favor, she is the most loyal person I know. Actively loyal.

She practices active love every day of our friendship. 

 

She lives by buddhist standards, but has a major Anthropologie habit. She's a bad buddhist. So am I. I'm a worse buddhist, because I'm not really a buddhist at all, I just admire Chloe's buddhism.

She forgives those she loves and practices kindness above all else.

She'll tell you when you're wrong, for all of the reasons that you're wrong, and then she'll love you so completely that you can't help but find the right way.

This is the purest and most uncomplicated love I have ever known.

 

Chloe helped me get through divorce with grace. She supported me and allowed me to be selfish with my emotions for months. She never once begrudged my weakness. It's hard to be there for someone during a time that turbulent. Chloe did it beautifully.

She is dear to me.

I hate that we are apart.

Chloe holds half of my heart.

 

Chloe,

I love you. I miss you every damn day. Literally every day. 

You are my people.

I am eternally grateful that distance has not weakened our bond.

Thank you. Thank you for everything.

Let's go live in a fairy house.

Your schnookums.

 
I don't miss working in an office, but I do miss attending entrepreneurial events with this one.

I don't miss working in an office, but I do miss attending entrepreneurial events with this one.

 

Header image: that time we bought gold iron-on letters and made funny tees that were funny for like 2 weeks and then we got sick of them


Taylor Coil is traveling the world with Remote Year, living in 12 countries in 12 months, while working as a marketing manager. Follow along to read more philosophies on work, stories from the road, and general (mis)adventures. Sign up for the weekly email or read more from the blog.

It's not Remote Year or bust.

Yesterday, I chatted with someone who was just accepted into Remote Year.

He expressed hesitations about the program and wanted an honest view from someone doing it - beyond the Instagram feeds with verbose captions and the constant expressions of gratitude. A note to readers: I'm always willing to do that, if you've been accepted into RY and are not sure whether or not to join the program. Email me. We'll chat.

Anyway. I noticed something about him, something that was true of myself when I received my letter of acceptance. 

Neither of us realized, or else truly appreciated one crucial thing:

There are lots of alternatives to Remote Year.

You are not limited to the choices of "join RY" or "get a desk job." That's what it felt like, to me, when I first heard about nomadism. I thought that I could either take this big leap with an established program OR stay in ennui-filled convention.

It seemed to me that there was no middle ground.

I thought that the logistics of nomadic life must be extraordinarily complicated, because why else would a program build a value proposition on solving them for you?

I thought it must be expensive to travel full-time, so expensive that $2,000 / month suddenly seemed reasonable.

I thought that nomads must get lonely, because again - why else would a program emerge to solve the issue of community in a full-time travel context?

Y'all. That's a fallacy.

A fallacy of false choice, to be specific.

Remote Year is one way to do nomadism. I've written before about how I don't think it's the best way - not for a passionate professional who places career in her top priorities (along with nurturing a relationship - but that's a whole 'nother story). It's, perhaps, not even a logical way.

RY, on the surface, presents a lower barrier to entry for nomadic life. The programs offers the comfort of traveling with 75 friends, a cushion of community in which to confide as you "figure out" how to do nomadism and how to make remote work a long-term, sustainable lifestyle.

But "lower barrier to entry" and "best option for a newcomer" are not synonymous. Just as first-to-market is rarely best-in-market (also relevant here).

Traveling with 75 friends sounds idyllic. Sometimes it is. I've made friendships on Remote Year that I already know will last for a long time (and not just because Martin has a place in Belize).

Pictured: 17 of the reasons I don't regret joining RY. Yes, I know my and Tiago's handstand game is on point. #humblebrag

Pictured: 17 of the reasons I don't regret joining RY. Yes, I know my and Tiago's handstand game is on point. #humblebrag

But sometimes it isn't idyllic. Often the social energy is exhausting; sometimes it's even toxic.

I didn't know about #nomads, or Nomad Forum, or the existing community of people who do this already. Because of course digital nomads formed their own community. Of course they did. Why wouldn't they?

I didn't realize that some coworking spaces, particularly those in Europe, doubled as a place to live and a place to form community.

I definitely didn't realize that RY culture would often overlap with the bar scene - boozy Tuesday nights and bus rides soaked in Jack Daniels. It didn't occur to me to be concerned about partying ruling the social culture. I've been removed from that scene for so long that I legitimately forgot that people my age spend lots of time and money in bars. 

That's not to say I hate the social scene. I might leave the party at 11 pm, downing only one glass of wine, but I still enjoy my time with my RY-ers. 

It's just not the social culture I'd choose for myself.

The point: you get to choose.

If you decide against Remote Year, you don't necessarily have to decide against nomadism. You don't have to decide against community, or full-time travel, or remote work.

You have options. Don't forget that.

And for the record, you don't need a year of hand-holding to figure out how to "do" digital nomadism.

Relevant: I just wrote a post for the Tortuga Backpacks Medium publication, Life + Travel + Work. It's a resource on coliving and working spaces around the world - both static places to live for a month or two (like Sun Desk in Morocco, a place I'm dying to go) and short-term retreats like Hacker Paradise. That should help with the fallacy of false choice issue.


Taylor Coil is traveling the world with Remote Year, living in 12 countries in 12 months, while working as a marketing manager. Follow along to read more philosophies on work, stories from the road, and general (mis)adventures. Sign up for the weekly email or read more from the blog.