Being Busy, Daily Practice, and 750 Words

Sometimes I get “so busy” that I forget my own personal goals or habits. I’ll look back and realize I haven’t read a book in months, or I haven’t been to the gym in a couple of weeks.

For me, my personal goals are simple and straight forward, its really the habits I want to build and foster, which there are really 4:

1. Read everyday 
(Always be reading a book. I’m trying to mix in more fiction – I’ve always been a big non-fiction reader, ie: authors like Malcolm Gladwell or Michael Lewis)

2. Write everyday
(I try to have a goal to write ‘Morning Pages’ every morning. 3 pages, stream of consciousness, popularized by Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way. But, I don’t always do it.)

3. Exercise 
(Mainly Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, with occasional yoga to supplement BJJ for flexibility and injuries)

4. Study something
(Whether it’s Mandarin Chinese, coding Python or Swift, or just some random history or philosophy class from HarvardX, I try to always have one skill or something to be working on)

On the writing goal, I just recently found out about this website called 750words. Apparently 750 words = 3 pages. So, it’s just an environment to actually do the ‘Morning Pages’ in. I tried it this morning. What’s cool about is the stats it gives you about your writing as soon as your finished.

It only took me 12 minutes. I really should do this more often.



You wake up in the morning in a new apartment, but you don’t have anything: no comb, no toothpaste, no clothes. You just signed a lease late last night and crashed, because you were too tired to leave and go get your stuff.

There’s also no coffee in the apartment yet – which is probably even worse than having no comb, toothpaste, or clothes. You wonder, “Did I make the right decision? Do I even want to be in this city anymore?”

“Should I just jump ship and go to Austin, Boston, or San Francisco?” Two of those cities you love like they’re your second home. One of them you’ve never been to, but you just dream about constantly.

Then, you feel depressed. You feel stuck. This shit sucks.

It’s hot as hell outside, and you’re stuck moving your belongings. Then you forget something important, and have to go back.

Now, you’re covered in sweat. Even though you just took a shower a couple of hours ago. And half of your day is gone and you got nothing accomplished work-wise.

Damn. This shit sucks.

You finally get to the office around 4pm – everyone else is leaving, or about to. You sit down, fire off some emails, set up some meetings with potential clients, brainstorm with your business partner about your upcoming product launch, work on some powerpoint slides, and generally just get shit done.

After a few hours, you head off to jiu-jitsu, still responding to emails from your phone the whole way there.

Then, you roll around for a couple of hours. You know you have to not just be so content with having an annoying guard, but you have to actually start sweeping people more, and getting to advantageous positions. So you work on that. Hit a couple of good ones. You dominate a couple of guys bigger than you, just because they’re newer to the sport than you are. The bigger they are, the more susceptible they are to half-guard recoveries from side control, like “goddamn it! How the hell did he get his leg back in there?”

After training, you’re hot as hell again. Sweaty. Tired. Your right knee is tweaked. Your left pinky might be broken – its swollen, and you’re kind of sure it shouldn’t bend like this. But, you kind of don’t care. Because its your pinky. On your left hand. Probably the least important finger you have.

You go into the locker room and take a shower, and apparently take one of the longest showers out of anybody, because you’re one of the last guys to leave the gym. Then again, not everybody showers at the gym after training. You wonder “how could they do that? How could they go home sweaty?” Then, you remember that you’ve done it a hundred times, but part of the reason you shower at the gym now – if you’re really being honest with yourself – is because there’s soap and shampoo already there. And the more showers you can take at the gym the less often you have to buy soap and shampoo at your own place. Because that’s what your life has come to: pinching pennies on frivolous bathroom supplies.

Then you head back to the office. But, on your way back, you stop and get some dinner. And, even grab a beer, because, “hell, why not?”

Then, you eat your dinner. You take a sip of your beer and have a conversation with yourself about the direction of your company. Yeah, you talk to yourself when no one else is around. Just like crazy people do.

Then, you take another sip of your beer. And, you smile. And, you think to yourself, “Damn, my life is great. What the hell was I depressed about this morning?”


BJJ Globetrotter by Christian Graugarrt

Headed to Copenhagen; Finally Read the Book

I like books.

When I travel to a new city, I always wind up popping into random bookstores I see along the road and look around. Even if the books are in another language and I can’t read a thing. It doesn’t matter. I still look through them.

I also take note of interesting books and add them to my Amazon Wishlist. To come back and read some day. The number of books on that list just keeps growing. And growing.

I will never read all of them. Lots of interesting books.

I don’t really carry physical copies of books around with me anymore. Its a lot easier to just carry a Kindle. 50 books in my pocket.

One of those books is ‘The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Globetrotter’ by Christian Graugart. It had been on my Wishlist ever since Masa first told me about Christian and his trip well over a year and half ago. Before I even knew much about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ).

BJJ Globetrotter by Christian Graugarrt

This one

But, I never bought it. I thought I had. I looked through my Kindle, but it wasn’t there.

I had read a few travel memoirs before and the idea of traveling and training at various Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gyms was interesting to me.

In fact, I even started doing it myself. I started training BJJ in September 2013 when I was in Taiwan. Since then I’ve trained in 10 different gyms in 7 different countries.

I joined Graugart’s BJJ Globetrotters team when I first heard about it, and I’ve even used it to find places to train at while I travel.

But, I still hadn’t read his book. It just sat there on my Wishlist: one of those things “I really should read one of these days” along with the many other books on that list. They pile up like documentaries in a Netflix queue.

Flight ticket frustrations and change of plans

Last month, after a couple of weeks of surviving solely on espresso shots and Pastels de Nata, and in between blowing up eggs in the hostel’s microwave (true story), I got paid for a project and decided to sit down and figure out my travel plans. I could buy my flight tickets and finally get back to Texas for the holidays, after two and a half years of not stepping foot in my home state.

Pastel de Nata

Everyday in Portugal

My original plan was to go from Portugal to Ireland, spend about a month in Dublin working and training BJJ and then fly back to Austin. The reason I had this plan was because I thought the flights from Dublin to Austin were fairly inexpensive.

They weren’t.

All the prices that were being shown were lies. Completely untrue. No matter the flight aggregate site: Momondo, Skyscanner, Kayak. They were all lying to me about the price of this ticket. It looked fairly inexpensive, but every time I went to buy it, it jumped up 250 Euro (about $300) from the advertised price. I eventually figured out why. The airline was pushing half the price of a roundtrip ticket to these aggregate sites, rather than the true price of a one-way. So, the prices that were being shown were prices that didn’t actually exist. I’m not paying this much. I refuse.

I start looking for cheaper alternatives. I still wanted to get to Texas for the holidays, but now I didn’t know how. It took almost a whole day of searching and playing around with alternative routes, but then I stumbled on fairly cheap flights being offered by Norwegian Airlines.

Extended layovers: one of my favorite travel tricks

Whenever I find a certain airline offering a good price on a route I usually look into doing an extended layover in the country they are based in, just so I can see another place. This is how I visited Seoul (Korean airline flight from Shanghai to Singapore), Dubai (Air Emirates flight from Singapore to London), and even Dublin the first time in 2012 (cheapest route from UK to Boston).

So, now I’m looking at Air Norwegian flights. Do I want to spend a few days in Norway? In December?

It sounds cold. And dark. Only a couple of hours of daylight. I don’t even have a good winter coat. I had one when I lived in Boston, but I left it in the US when I bought that one way ticket for Singapore. No winter coats are needed by the equator.

Then, another thought occurred to me: all of Scandinavia is pretty much the same, maybe the flights would also be cheap if I did a layover in Sweden, Finland, or Denmark, instead of Norway?

Yep, they were.

Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway

Thanks Google

I’ve gotten a lot better with world geography over the past few years as I’ve traveled, but I still knew nothing about Scandinavia. After a quick brush up familiarizing myself with the major cities there, I was reminded that Oslo is in Norway, Helsinki is in Finland, Stockholm is in Sweden, and Copenhagen is in Denmark.

Copenhagen? Oh, that’s where the BJJ Globetrotters guy has his gym.

Now, I had an idea. No. Now I had a plan.

I booked the flights and emailed Christian. He told me I picked good dates and invited me to his Christmas party. Traditional Danish Christmas food on deck.

I should probably read his book before I get there.

It’s been on my reading list for awhile. So, I bought it and read it while I was traveling around Ireland (and training BJJ at academies around Ireland).

The book inspired me

It inspired me to keep training. It inspired to me to keep traveling.

But, mostly, it inspired me to start writing again (Hence, the blog is back)

I knew about the hospitality of BJJ guys around the world, having experienced a bit of it myself while traveling. But, its always interesting to see someone else’s take on his own travel experiences. It was really interesting to see Christian reflect on his trip and how it shaped his life thinking even after returning home.

Overall, I just like to hear other people’s stories and experiences, and this book had plenty of that.

It’s a book that should inspire you. Whether you train BJJ or not. You can still take on the world. And win.


Mentioned in the post:

‘The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Globetrotter: The true story about a frantic, 140 day long, around-the-world trip to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu ‘ by Christian Graugart.