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Life, Hacked: My 3 Weeks of Kitesurfing & Working from the Beach

Life, Hacked: My 3 Weeks of Kitesurfing & Working from the Beach

For the past three weeks I have done my work, writing blog posts, managing social media accounts, drafting case studies, and executing email marketing campaigns, all while staying in a three-bedroom penthouse apartment overlooking the beach, kitesurfing in the afternoons when it gets windy, taking not a single vacation day from my job, and spending no more than a few hundred dollars. That’s a few hundred dollars – for the whole trip!

But this story isn’t just about the last three weeks. The fact is, my life is generally charmed beyond belief. I have a job that I enjoy at an amazing company, filled with fantastic people. I have a perfect three-year-old son, who is truly the best kid in the whole world. I live in a great house in a great neighborhood right outside DC. I travel often, I have free time for myself, and am surrounded by people I love.

But it wasn’t always like this. In fact, like many good stories about living the good life, this one starts with my getting fired.

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Step 1: Get Laid Off

Almost exactly two years ago, I was laid off from my job as Communications Director at an internationally renowned and venerated DC think tank. I mention its reputation only because that is really the only good thing I can say about it in terms of being a good place of employment. Organizational goals were disconnected from daily activities, the people were ensconced in various fiefdoms of closely guarded influence (with much of the hard work being churned out by unpaid interns), and it practiced death-by-meeting like an art form.

Several months before I was laid off, management called a general staff meeting to inform us that they were unsure whether they had the money to meet payroll that month. Consequently, if we wanted to cut back our hours or even not show up at all, we should feel free to do so, since, after all, no one knew if we would get paid.

As a result of this staff meeting I began to look for work wherever I could find it, which meant contacting an old colleague who had started a marketing consultancy. As it turns out, he had a re-branding launching that very week and would need someone to setup and manage new social media accounts. From there work grew and I found other clients, and by the time I was finally laid off from the think tank several months later, I had more than replaced my salary with consulting work.

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Step 2: Find One, Amazing Client

I loved all my clients, truly. But from the beginning, I had one client with which I gelled particularly well. I could see immediately that they had a good story to tell because they were doing innovative work in healthcare. Their leadership was actually forward-thinking, and they gave me largely free reign to beef up their social media marketing activities in support of clear overall business goals.

Step 3: Go Work For Them, If You Want

My work for them grew over time, until one day they raised the possibility of bringing me in-house. At that point they comprised roughly 50 percent of all my consulting work, and culturally it was a good fit.

My main condition was that I would continue to work on my own schedule, coming in to the office as needed for meetings, check-ins or events. For a metric-driven company more concerned with getting results than with having a lot of butts in their office chairs all day long, this wasn’t a problem. Besides, I had been getting stuff done for nearly two years as a consultant already. Thus was born my work-at-home job, with people I love, doing work that is important.

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Step 4: Learn How to Kitesurf

Why should you learn how to kitesurf? Besides the fact that being sped along the ocean on a wakeboard whilst flying a 12-meter kite and getting 10 feet of air jumping off the waves is absolute pure, unfettered joy, there is also the fact that kitesurfing is the perfect activity to do in-between work.

That is because you can generally only kitesurf one to three hours a day, after which you are totally spent. In the case of kitesurfing in Cabarete, Dominican Republic, it only gets windy for a few hours each afternoon anyway. The rest of the time there’s not much to do. That means my schedule in the Dominican Republic was nearly identical to my schedule at home. In both places I woke up and immediately started work, but instead of a mid-afternoon break to workout, I took a mid-afternoon break to kitesurf.

In the mean time, I spent my time with my laptop either out on my porch overlooking the ocean in my hammock, or at the bar restaurant on the beach next to the kitesurfing school. Both places had excellent Wi-Fi.

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Step 5: Combine Other Lifehack Strategies and Execute on Grand Plan

After what has come before, the following should be pretty standard operating procedure for Lifehack.org readers. These strategies have been written about extensively elsewhere, but it’s worth noting that there are several aspects of new media, the sharing economy, and general sociableness that combined to make this whole experience possible:

  • I rented out my place in DC for three weeks on Airbnb, meaning I got a deposit of $2,066 into my bank account just as I left for the Dominican Republic. Pretty sweet. This essentially paid for my plane ticket and for my room and kitesurf rental for three weeks at the amazing eXtreme Hotel. The only other money I’ve spent here is about $150/week on food: cheap and tasty.
  • I forwarded my cell phone to my Google Voice number, which rang straight through to my laptop any time someone called me. Likewise, I could make free calls via Google Voice back to work colleagues in the U.S. any time I needed. This allowed me to both launch a new website and coordinate troubleshooting of some complex technical challenges even while out of the country.
  • Dropbox plus WordPress plus Salesforce plus Google Docs. I can’t say enough about web-based software that is designed to enable remote collaboration. I can log in to post new blogs or add new leads or edit case studies as easily from the Dominican Republic as I can from my house or from the office.

Finally, there was one non-technology-related bonus. Shortly after getting to the hotel, I and another couple struck up a conversation with the hotel manager about the three-bedroom penthouse that overlooked the ocean on the top floor. She offered to put us up there at no extra cost, since the place wasn’t booked. Rest assured I will be writing her and the hotel a badass TripAdvisor review. This development was mostly luck, but it goes to show what being social and willing to take a risk with some people you don’t know can get you. They were great company, and the penthouse overlooking the ocean made the trip.

More by this author

The One Mind Shift To Rule Them All: Everything is a Deliverable Life, Hacked: My 3 Weeks of Kitesurfing & Working from the Beach What Mark Twain Knew About Life (and Business, Love, Work, Travel) Why Selling Out is the Path to Fulfillment

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12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and black tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here:

11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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