Interview with Kristin Addis of Be My Travel Muse

Kristin Addis from Be My Travel Muse - Photo used with permission

Kristin Addis from Be My Travel Muse – Photo used with permission

Kristin Addis is a travel blogger (at Be My Travel Muse) who says in one of her blog posts that after a few months of independent travel, she found her focus of “talking to locals, ditching guide books, and going to places that not many people had heard of.” Here, she shares the importance of networking, the one major thing on her bucket list, and the best advice she’s ever received.

Name and blog:
Kristin Addis from Be My Travel Muse

Fun fact about you:
My breasts can tell if it’s going to rain…well they can tell if it’s raining. [editor's note: she's not crazy... it's a movie reference]

Funner fact:
I can speak Mandarin Chinese

Funnest fact:
I have a truly uncanny sense of smell

What do you think has been essential to your success as a travel blogger?
Difficult to say, but I think the chief aspect has been networking. I’ve had a lot of mentors along the way who have selflessly guided me and made invaluable suggestions. Other than that, I think focusing on putting out great content and being responsive to readers have both been important as well.

What was something that surprised you about blogging?
It’s a journey, but not the end game. I think travel blogging has the potential to open a lot of doors, but for most people, it’s a platform to make other things happen.

If you had to describe your blog in 6 words or less, what would you say?
Off the beaten path adventures.

Who or what inspires you?
The incredibly friendly locals I’ve met along the way who have helped me when it didn’t benefit them directly. They just wanted to help, and that’s beautiful.

What is your all-time favorite bucket list item (of yours or someone else’s)?
I don’t even know what this means anymore. I just chase whatever passion currently stirs my soul. There is one major thing on my bucket list, though: making it to outer space. I know, dream big.

If you weren’t doing anything related to travel, what would you be doing in your free time?
Well, in my free time I enjoy painting, dancing, and reading. If I lived in one place and had the time to devote to it, I’d really like to learn how to play the cello. It’s such a sexy instrument. When I hear it I feel a lump rising in my throat. It just moves me.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Stop caring so much what anyone else thinks. It will set you free.

Thanks Kristin for sharing your time and thoughts with us. If you want to learn more about Kristin’s travels, you can read her blog, which also has links to her social media profiles.

Who else do you want to learn more about? If you have an inspiring person in mind, please let me know using the contact form or comments below.

Two more days to vote! Please vote for me for the Big Blog Exchange so I can bring you more interviews from around the world. (If you’ve already voted and I didn’t say thank you, please let me know in the comments, so I can thank you. It doesn’t let me see who votes, just the number of votes. I appreciate all of your support!)

5 days left – Have you voted?

Shelly Najjar's Big Blog Exchange Profile - Vote for me! #bigblogx - BBE website copyrighted by Hostelling International 2014

My Big Blog Exchange Profile
BBE website copyrighted by Hostelling International, 2014

Thank you to everyone who has shown their support for me in the Big Blog Exchange by voting. I want to thank you all individually, but it doesn’t show me who voted, only how many voted. So, if you’ve already voted and didn’t get a thank you, please let me know in the comments below, so I can say thanks.

If you haven’t, there’s still time! Voting closes on September 3, at 12 PM Greenwich Mean Time. That is… 5 AM Pacific Daylight Time (West Coast USA); 1 PM in London, UK; 5:30 PM in India; 10 PM in Sydney, Australia.

When voting ends, the top 100 bloggers (25 from each region) will become finalists. The judges will pick 14 winners from these finalists, plus 2 more wildcard winners from any of the 500+ bloggers who entered. The winners will get paired up and will be switching countries for 10 days, winning airfare to and from the country, along with accommodation with the Hostelling International chain (the organization behind the competition), and a travel stipend. They will also be blogging about their experience on the other person’s blog. Winners and exchange pairings will be announced September 16.

I really want to win this prize because this would be my first solo trip, as well as my first trip overseas (my only other international trip would be Vancouver, BC, Canada with my family when I was young). I would get to stretch beyond my comfort zone, experience new things, increase my desire to travel, and learn about different cultures and people. Maybe I’ll even get to do some bucket list activities. My hope is that I would be able to meet many people living out their dreams and inspiring others to do the same, and then to share those stories with you.

If this sounds like something you could support, please take 4 minutes and vote. If you’re really supportive, please take 1 more minute and share my profile with your friends, family, and social media followers.

Here’s how to vote:

  1. Go to my profile on the Big Blog Exchange website.
  2. Click “Vote for Me,” enter your email, click “OK”
  3. Confirm your vote in the email, or it doesn’t count.

The only email they send is the one with the confirmation link, so don’t worry about getting spammed.

Be sure to let me know that you voted, so I can thank you individually!

If you won a prize like this, where would you hope to go? Let me know in the comments.

Everyone has a story: Sonya Matejko

Today’s mini-interview is with Sonya Matejko, who describes herself as a “20-something hopeless romantic working in advertising out of Miami, Florida.” She wants to inspire you and to remind you that “everyday is a fresh start, and a novel opportunity to change the world.”

(If you’re interested in being interviewed for this blog or have someone in mind for me to ask, please let me know or leave a note in the comments section.)

What is one of your dreams for your life?
My dream is to inspire people. I think of the moment when you finish a really great book. You slowly close the cover and hold the book with two hands. You look into space but you’re truly looking into the story that is so vividly painted in your mind. You contemplate the ending with either a smile or a tear, or somewhere in between. You remorse a little over the journey being over, but you’re thankful that you were able to experience it. It’s that moment, that deep sense of wakefulness, that I hope people will feel from my writing. I hope that they get lost in my words and find themselves between sentences. I hope that someone can take away lessons inferred through the passages and find a confidence between letters to take through their daily lives. I hope that one day there will be a hard cover book with my name on the spine. I hope a dreamer picks it up. I hope that they read it, invested in the words. I hope they close the cover the same way I always do. I hope “The End” is never final, because I hope the words inspire them to take on the world.

What is something on your bucket list?
Something I just recently added to my bucket list is to get certified as a yoga instructor. Previously, I was never into yoga because I found it too slow or boring of an exercise. But when I had gotten out of a serious relationship and needed an outlet, I decided to give it another shot. It was yoga that allowed me to keep myself centered, and where I learned to control my emotions. It taught me to let go of negativity and to live in the present moment. Mostly, it cleared my mind and allowed me to dig deep within my heart. It was through yoga I found my love for writing again because it provided me with an emotional clarity. I want to be certified as an instructor so I can share this great practice with others, and inspire them with positive vibes and the positive lifestyle yoga delivers.

What is the best advice you ever received?
It is never too late to be what you might have been.” (George Eliot)

My favorite piece of advice I found while, ironically, procrastinating on Pinterest. I use this as a daily reminder to continue to chase my dreams and to never give up… because everyday is a fresh start, and a novel opportunity to change the world.

Thank you, Sonya, for sharing your time and dreams. Readers: Do you want to be interviewed, or do you know someone I should ask for an interview? Let me know.

Please also take 4 minutes to vote so I can get a chance at a foreign exchange blog trip through the Big Blog Exchange. This will be a great opportunity to ask more people from around the world about their dreams. Voting closes September 3, so be sure to get your vote in before then.

See a movie in theater on my own (2013)

popcorn and movie - by ScypaxPictures on Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0 license

Photo Credit: ScypaxPictures on Flickr
Used unmodified under CC BY-ND 2.0 license

What’s a bigger mystery box than a movie theater? You go to the theater, you’re just so excited to see anything – the moment the lights go down is often the best part.
–J. J. Abrams

I love going to the movies. There is something really fun about being totally immersed in sound, light, and story.

When I went to do this goal, I decided on Oz the Great and Powerful. The choice in the movie I saw was excellent for this goal list experience. It was fun, magical, and a bit silly. It was a combination of prequel/remake to the classic Wizard of Oz story, and as I mentioned before in a earlier post, I’m a sucker for retold fairy tales of any kind. (Obviously, I’m counting the Wizard of Oz as a type of fairy tale. Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment and let me know.)

It was a weekday, and I happened to choose an afternoon show, because it was the next showing. If you want to go alone and not feel weird, that is definitely the time to do it. There were at least 3 other people there watching the movie on their own, along with the usual assortment of families, couples, and groups of friends. The only time it felt a little strange to be alone was when I was sitting in the theater waiting for the movie to start, because that is when I usually talk with the people I come with, but in this case I just sat quietly and waited (because talking to myself really would make things weird).

Because I had just eaten lunch, I didn’t get any snack (saved $6 by not getting the tiny popcorn!), but that also meant I didn’t have anything to do but sit and think when waiting. It was a little sad, because popcorn is one of my favorite parts of going to the movies, so if/when I do it again, it will be when I’m not already completely stuffed with delicious food.

Standing in line alone and buying just one ticket potentially might feel awkward for some people. I felt completely normal buying tickets since I just walked right up (no line!) and said “ticket to see Oz” and they sold it to me. Nothing strange. But my friends and I often buy our own tickets when we go see movies, so maybe that’s why. If you always buy two tickets or you have your ticket purchased for you on a date or something like that, it might feel strange to buy only one.

It may also be cultural, or an introvert/extrovert thing. I know that when I told other people about this, I got a mixed reaction. The extroverts and people from group-oriented cultures looked at me like I was from Mars (“why would you want to go by yourself?”), but many of the introverts said that they would like to try it sometime. I think it’s very practical. If there’s a movie I want to see in theater, but no one else wants to see it with me, I’m going to see it alone. No big deal, especially if you go in the afternoon.

The whole idea of movies was it was special to go to see – you went to a movie theater to see something that was magical and amazing, in a very special location.
–Bob Balaban

Would you see a movie in theater on your own?

Resource: Here’s a post by Annette White of Bucket List Journey describing potential anxieties of going to the movies alone vs. the reality. In the comments, other people shared the pros and cons of their experience as well, so don’t miss reading those if you’re still deciding on whether to put this on your bucket list.

Did you vote yet? Help me win a foreign exchange blog trip so I can bring you bucket list stories and interviews from around the world. Voting ends September 3, so please be sure to vote for this blog in the Big Blog Exchange before then.

Everyone has a story: Lily Kolle

Today’s mini-interview is with Lily Kolle, one of my former high school classmates whose dream is to encourage people to travel more and worry less.

Lily Kolle, Photo used with permission

Lily Kolle – Photo used with permission

My name is Lily Kolle, and I have a blog at

What is one of your dreams for your life?
My dream is to build a company that encourages people to live adventurously and not be afraid of traveling. Travel is so much more accessible than many young Americans realize, and I want to contribute to changing our culture of youth travel in the US. I really believe that if more people traveled the world would be a better place.

My background is in industrial design and I’ve been traveling a bit myself so I’d like to start this “company” around my designs for travel gear. I’m currently testing a wallet design and working on some pack ideas.

What is something on your bucket list?
On my bucket list? It’s a long list… To live in Europe, ideally Amsterdam or Paris. That would kind of cover a bunch of items at once

What is the best advice you ever received?
The best advice I’ve received is from my 93-year-old Oma (that’s Grandma). She told me she wishes she hadn’t wasted so much time worrying. And seeing as this comes from a lady who raised her 6 brothers and sisters during World War II in Holland, I don’t have any reason to waste my time worrying either.

Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, Lily!
(If you would like to be interviewed for this blog, please let me know or leave a note in the comments section.)

Also, please take 4 quick minutes to vote so I can get a chance at a foreign exchange blog trip through the Big Blog Exchange. This will be a great opportunity to ask more people from around the world about their dreams.

Goal Accomplished! Write 100 Thank You Notes in 100 Days (2014)

thank you pink flower tree card

Photo Credit: AForestFrolic (stampinmom) on Flickr
Used unmodified under CC BY 2.0 license

Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.
–Henry Ward Beecher

First, thank you to everyone who supported me in achieving this goal. Your encouragement and kind words were much appreciated.

This post is a general reflection of the goal and how it went, as well as an attempt to answer some of the questions that came up during the 100 days, for those of you who are considering doing this project on your own.

There were many expectations that I had for myself and for this goal when I started out, most of which didn’t turn out like I thought they would.

I thought I’d write 1 thank you note each day. What I actually did was write an average of 1 per day (1 at first, then none for a few days, then 5 the next day, etc).

Number of notes written during the 100 days

I thought it would “give me motivation and structure to be more intentional about expressing gratitude” – This one happened, just by the nature of the goal. I am slightly surprised that I finished this goal, and even went 2 notes over goal in less than 100 days. Sometimes I get really excited about starting projects but don’t always finish them unless I have a deadline, which I did in this case, but 100 days seemed like a really long time/really far away (I know, it’s all perspective, 100 days isn’t really that long, but it felt that way at first, until I realized I only had 16 days left, and then it felt really fast!).

I thought I would suddenly become a more grateful person – It seems funny to think about now, but there really was a part of me that thought that by the end of 100 days, I would have this gratitude thing completely figured out. Silly me. There is no magical shortcut or special project that can hasten the process, but I still think the practice was good for me.

I thought this would be a one-way project, where I wrote cards to people, and then… that was it. Instead, I ended up getting many notes in return, which cheered me up and allowed me to be the recipient of other people’s gratitude. This made me realize graciously accepting gratitude takes more humility than sharing my gratitude with someone else.

I worried people wouldn’t think I was sincere if they found out about the goal, or that I wouldn’t feel sincere writing the notes because of the goal. This was a concern brought up by a few people when I told them about the goal, and that came to mind several times during these 100 days. I decided not to tell the people I was writing to, unless they asked about it, because I wanted to make sure that as much as possible this issue didn’t come up. Whenever it did come up, whether in my mind or in conversation, the important thing for me to remember was that I needed to write what I would have written regardless of whether I was doing it for this goal list item or as an individual thank you note. The 100 thank you notes wasn’t just a goal to meet, it was a prompt to be more grateful. It’s not insincere to write a card even if a gratitude project inspired it, unless you don’t mean it and you’re just writing it to meet a quota.

Another issue that came up was how to thank people in a way that they would be sure to get the note. I decided that as much as possible, I would send real mail to people (cards, letters, postcards, etc) because it’s fun to get mail. For the people I see on a regular basis, I tried to hand-deliver. For people I was unable to reach by any other written form of communication, I wrote in a journal (for example, I wrote a thank you to God, but this would also work for those who have passed away). Many people I sent notes to I communicate mostly through email, LinkedIn, or Facebook, so those are the methods I used to write their thank you notes. Website contact forms were used for organizations that didn’t list an email or have a mailing address.

Types of thank you notes written

When I started this goal, I thought it would be easy to think of 100 people/organizations to write to, but the day I started planning who to write to, I only could think of about 40 (I quickly filled in the rest, and then realized there were still more people to thank after the 100). I also wanted to make sure that I sent groups of people their thank you notes at the same time, so that no one in the group felt left out, so I saved them after I wrote them until I had one for everyone in the group. For example, everyone at work got their card on the same day, or as close to it as I could.

I’m glad that I did this goal when I did. It helped me get in touch with friends I hadn’t talked with in a while, reminded me to notice things I was grateful for, and helped me express and receive gratitude. I would recommend a project like this to everyone.

If you want more info, you can:

How to Be Thankful and Improve Your Life, an article by David Hochman from a 2009 Reader’s Digest issue. David shares his experience with his Month of Gratitude project, as well as tips about expressing gratitude from experts he interviewed, including this tip relevant to projects like the one I did: “‘If you overdo gratitude, it loses its meaning or, worse, becomes a chore,’ Martin E. P. Seligman, the author of Authentic Happiness, told me when I mentioned my slump. Be selective, he advised, and focus on thanking the unsung heroes in your life.”

Other Info:

If you want to get more posts like this delivered to your email, you can sign up for free.

I’m entered in the Big Blog Exchange competition – winning bloggers exchange places with a blogger from another country. I’d love your support, it only takes 4 min to vote for me. My hope for this is to learn more about people, cultures, and what we value by talking with people around the world about their dreams for their lives, and by meeting people living out their dreams and inspiring others to do the same.

Interview with Neil Patel, serial entrepreneur

Neil Patel ( and - Photo used with permission

Neil Patel – Photo used with permission

Many people have “start a business” on their bucket lists, and in general, stories of entrepreneurship are very inspiring because there’s determination, hard work, and dream fulfillment involved. For this interview, I chose Neil Patel, a serial “entrepreneur, investor, advisor and blogger” (quote from his Twitter profile). I wanted to feature him because he has an inspiring life story (recommended reading for more motivation for achieving your dreams).

Name and website:
Neil Patel (

Fun fact about you:
I love running… so much that I run at a mile a day.

Funner fact:
I enjoy ironing clothes. It actually relieves my stress and calms me down… no clue why…

Funnest fact:
I enjoy making a fool of myself. I rarely ever get embarrassed…

What do you think has been essential to your success as an entrepreneur?
I execute fast. No matter what I am doing, I move extremely quickly while taking data into account. When things don’t go the way I want, I make adjustments and keep pushing forward.

What was something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
When I first started out, I really enjoyed starting companies. I thought it was extremely fun and easy to do… but I always struggled with growing each of my businesses. As time went on, I found that growth is actually a lot easier than starting a company and I eventually got good at it. I never thought that starting out and getting the initial traction would be the hardest part about entrepreneurship.

Who or what inspires you?
Elon Musk. When he believes in something, nothing can stop him. He has big dreams, but unlike most people, he is making his dreams come true.

What is your all-time favorite bucket list item (of yours or someone else’s)?
Run a marathon in every state.

If you had to describe your blog in 6 words or less, what would you say?
Blog about content marketing.

If you weren’t doing anything related to your businesses, what would you be doing in your free time?
Watching TV or spending time with my family.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Learn from other people’s mistakes. If you can avoid making mistakes as an entrepreneur you’ll drastically increase your chance to succeed.

Thank you Neil for taking the time to reply and share your advice with us. If you want to learn more about Neil, please read his story (on his blog), check out his website, and follow him on Twitter.

Want more interviews like this? Leave a comment and let me know who you would like to see featured, and be sure to sign up to stay updated on all the latest posts!

Please also vote for me for the Big Blog Exchange so I can bring you more interviews from around the world. (Thanks if you’ve already voted. It doesn’t let me see who votes, just the number of votes. I appreciate all of your support!)