NOVEMBER 2017

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#305 This Series

01 November 2017 // San Diego, California

This series, man. I love this time of year when a bunch of people find out that, hey, baseball is actually pretty full of drama.

My favorite win was when the Astros beat the Yankees in the ALCS, because it assured I’d be happy with a bunch of the storylines tied to either team winning. It’s a great one for the City of Houston, Verlander, (not you, Yuli), Altuve, and last place teams with hopes for three years down the line.

Phillies 2020. Can’t wait.

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#306 The James & James Show

02 November 2017 // San Diego, California

Is there a recipe for meaningful experiences? Sometimes I think it just looks like being honest and wholehearted and to invite other people to be in that same moment. 

James Bishop and James Spaite put together a fantastic evening of creativity, honesty, and togetherness– I seriously love having these two as Plant With Purpose ambassadors and just knowing them. 

Something about the low, warm lighting in the old Episcopalian church combined with musical textures and storytelling was just the right setting to bring me back to another time in life… probably one where doing things like this at 9 on a weeknight used to be a little more common.  

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#307 Red Letter Revolution

03 November 2017 // San Diego, California

“I always tell our community that we should attract the people Jesus attracted and frustrate the people Jesus frustrated. It’s certainly never our goal to frustrate, but it is worth noting that the people who were constantly agitated were the self-righteous, religious elite, the rich, and the powerful. But the people who were fascinated by him, by his love and grace, were folks who were already wounded and ostracized — folks who didn’t have much to lose, who already knew full well that they were broken and needed a Savior.” 

–Shane Claiborne

Book No. 44 from 2017

This book did a terrific job of articulating how Christ’s teachings interact with some of the most touchy subjects today– immigration, civil disobedience, racism, feminism, etc.

The rallying cry for people to “not get political” has never been less effective. What counts as “political” only expands. From government budgets to healthcare, eventually down to the reasons you aren’t watching football anymore. Avoiding all “political” conversations only means that the arenas your faith can inform have to shrink to accommodate that expansion.

Instead, there’s a way to engage politics that doesn’t go around them, but beyond them, and I think this book points in that direction. It isn’t partisanship. It’s being able to listen to the most important voice.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

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#308 85º

04 November 2017 // San Diego, California

If these baked goods could talk, they’d say "you’re where you’re supposed to be right now. Stop and smell us, the pastries." 

In my case, it’d be totally true. It’s so easy to take note of everything that feels like its missing, everything that hasn’t been done yet, everything that’s gone away. It can be a lot harder to notice the fact that all of my needs have always been taken care of, and that’s more of a miracle than I often acknowledge. 

These baked goods can’t talk, but it’s still true.

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#309 Easy Sunday

05 November 2017 // San Diego, California

An easy Sunday afternoon in North Park, just days before a big trip.

Just like a balanced life is full of healthy cycles of work, play, and rest, mine seems to thrive in a healthy rhythm of home, away, then home again. There was a time when I could’ve gone fully nomadic. It wouldn’t have been right for me, and I’m glad I chose against impulse.

That said, I’m thankful for a life at home that is so much richer because of the time I’ve spent away from it. Knowing how to lean into curiosity, how to follow love all over the globe, and how to come back to it in the end.

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#310 Chicken Rice Pilaf

06 November 2017 // San Diego, California

Mission 44: The original plan was to make chicken biriyani, but that’s a pretty time consuming dish. Instead I made a slight adjustment to the plan and went with rice pilaf. One of the “fun courses” I got to take back in college was a Middle Eastern Cooking Class, and the pilaf is one of the things I remember best.

The Results: This was pretty good! The rice was a little bit risotto like, and there were some key ingredients that should’ve been there that I didn’t have handy like almond slivers. The flavor came through though, and this didn’t take as terribly long to make as it easily could have.

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#311 Roy Halladay

07 November 2017 // San Diego, California

It’s rare that a famous person’s death will feel personal, but my favorite baseball player died today and Roy Halladay was a gem.

Growing up as a Phillies fan, you’d have to wait long stretches in between windows where the team was actually good. When Halladay joined the team, I wasn’t used to my favorite team attracting such talent. He instantly made the entire team better when everyone else tried to adopt his work ethic.

I scrambled home as fast as I could to catch the end of his playoff no-hitter. I associate Roy Halladay on the Phillies with such a happy era in my life. When he retired, I hoped for his sake that it wouldn’t be the case of an athlete running into an identity crisis post-career, being so driven and all. Instead, his retirement press conference was more like a motivational speech.

He gave away the core of his extreme motivation– “I realized just how quickly everything can be taken away.” Knowing how easily you can lose things like health, your job, or life itself shouldn’t be a reason to live with unhealthy caution. Just a catalyst to engage and give everything 100 percent. #RIPdoc

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#312 Work Festivities

08 November 2017 // San Diego, California

Shoutout to Melissa for having been so awesome to work with in my first six months at Plant With Purpose. This was our last day in office together, which was also when I learned you were moving- but had to keep it under wraps..

Good luck in the OC! We'll miss working with you but excited for your next chapter.

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#313 Galaxy Tacos

09 November 2017 // La Jolla, California

So this octopus tostada is one of the most wonderful things I've tasted in a long time and Colby is a wonderful friend for introducing me to the world of Galaxy Tacos

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#314 Katy Perry

10 November 2017 // Los Angeles, California

Yeah, sure, I have a flight to Beijing that leaves in about thirteen hours, but whatevs. I'm down to take a space journey with Katy Perry.

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#315 LAX to Beijing to Seoul

11 November 2017 // Los Angeles, California

Thrilled, cause on the other side of this 18 hour journey are a few days to hang with my guy Jihyun

And this is how this adventure starts. First leg to Beijing is the first of eleven planes I'll be hopping on over the next sixteen days.

I have a few objectives for this trip, including shooting a film and celebrating a wedding, but in spite of that, I've kept planning pretty loose. I've been in need of that burst of aliveness that comes with not being entirely sure what each day will bring and I think this adventure comes at exactly the right time.

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#316 Beijing Layover

12 November 2017 // Beijing, China

The flight into Beijing felt long. Not the longest flight I've been on by any means, but couldn't fall asleep and time travel through this flight like I usually do. Instead it was a marathon of five movies, drafting work emails, and reading halfway through a book I packed.

I was wondering if I might've been losing the travel stamina that's served me well for such a long time. Then I arrived and it all came back. The excitement of a total change of scenery.

I never know when that feeling of immersion will suddenly strike but that ended up happening while walking around the Beijing airport. I managed to find some awesome soup that was way overpriced by local standards and a pretty good deal compared to what I'm used to. Noticing everything, feeling at home so far away from home.

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#317 You So Pretty

13 November 2017 // Seoul, South Korea

So happy that my passage through Seoul led to spending some real quality time with this brother. Thanks for the amazing hospitality, Jihyun, and for all the places we did go.

Jihyun took me through the back alleys of Itaewon and showed me only the most hardcore pieces of graffiti. After that, we turned into Anthony Bourdain for the rest of the afternoon and I think I had six consecutive meals or something.

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#318 Seoul to Bangkok to Chiang Rai

14 November 2017 // Bangkok, Thailand

Lots of airport/airplane pics lately, huh? Well that's pretty much been my world for the month of November.

The cost of physical energy is well worth it for the spiritual reward of every meaningful thing done while away.

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#319 Ja Cho

15 November 2017 // Chiang Rai, Thailand

This is Ja Cho– He had one of the most infectious smiles in the whole village, and though we needed two translators and three languages to communicate, nothing could really hide his joyful spirit. It didn’t come easy and his story is like that of so many people in his village.

“I left my home village when I was still very young, so I don’t have a good recollection of what that is like.  I’m originally from China and lived there until I was 15. It was a famine that caused us to move. We were very poor, and my parents decided to move us to Myanmar. We lived there in a place called Namisuh. I got married there."

“Even though we moved, we faced challenges there like conflict, famine, and health issues with my parents. My parents passed away. Now I have one son living with me in the village. My other children and grandchildren live in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, other cities."

"I am Christian. I cannot read or write, but I listen to teaching at church and follow the teachings. I teach my children to do good things, and I’m involved in a leadership role at the community level and community forest level. When we talk about sustainability, we need to talk about the past. If we don’t understand the past, we can’t look at the future. Sustainability means I will pass on land, farmland and cattle, but also knowledge to my children.”

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#320 Na Kuh

16 November 2017 // Chiang Rai, Thailand

Meet Na Kuh

"I am from Myanmar and I moved with my parents after the conflict. If I got caught, I would have been forced to be a porter for the army. Between the government army and the rebel troops, this created a very difficult situation for us. We walked from our village into a border area, then into Thailand. There were 2-3  families together, with our children. It took us about a week to enter into that border area. While we were walking on the Burmese side, we had to watch carefully. We were at risk of being caught by the government army.”

When she arrived in Thailand, she found challenges in her new home village as well. Na Kuh is a member of the Yellow Lahu tribe, an ethnic group that relies on the forest.

"There can be a lot of problems with the Forestry People when we go out and gather firewood from the forest. In areas protected by forestry people, we aren’t allowed to gather firewood, or graze animals. There are regulations protecting the forest by law so we cannot gather it. We cannot collect food from the forest."

"We plant trees into our forest so we have a community forest committee that walks around to check the forest. When you have good management from local people, the government people won’t come and disrput you. My dream is for nobody from this village to have to go out and work outside. We want to work together within the village and help each other. We don’t want to see people have to find outside labor and work like slaves."

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#321 The Golden Triangle

17 November 2017 // Chiang Saen, Thailand

I had the opportunity to take a visit to The Golden Triangle. This is where Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos all meet up at the same river confluence. (Myanmar's the little strip in the middle)

Two more borders I’d love to cross over if I had a little bit more time and an easier passport to travel with. But what’s a good trip without a “next time” list anyways?

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#322 Chiang Rai to Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur

18 November 2017 // Chiang Rai, Thailand

Another day, another plane, but the lumps and houses of Chiang Rai look good from up here.

Also, I'm running into the problem of running out of passport pages! Not fond of the State Department ending that extra pages option. It's a total Cadillac problem, but I had a harder time than normal getting on this flight. It'll probably be up for retirement once I'm back.

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#323 Petaling Street

19 November 2017 // Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I decided to save enough time today for simply walking around the streets of Kuala Lumpur, to take in as much as I could. This city brings so many different cultures together and merges them to confront all five senses. Walking around the mildly sticky humidity, passing the cluster of people of many different heritages right around the city’s old town, in between signs in Urdu for Halaal food and signs in Chinese for mee noodles, it was overwhelming in the best way possible.

Right by my guesthouse, I found Petaling Street, an old Chinese influenced market street and a great place for pedestrian stall-browsing. I managed to find the flip flops I forgot to pack and the Chinese fried chicken I’d been craving all week.

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#324 Uppercase Bangsar

20 November 2017 // Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Welcome to my workspace for this week… Uppercase Bangsar. This place is a rad co-working hub for remote workers and KL locals, and is it just me or does the unfinished wood, consistent yellow-colored branding, and industrial warehouse vibe actually make me an estimated billion times more productive?

I used to fantasize about being a digital nomad and that whole deal, but ultimately it wasn’t for me. Still it’s a pretty fun treat to get just a little taste of it this week- not to mention, glorious air-conditioning that lets me escape both the outside heat, and the thunderstorm going down at the same time.

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#325 Petronas Towers

21 November 2017 // Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

What do you think it’s like to be the former tallest building in the world? Is it sad to be reminded of your glory days at the top, knowing that you’re no longer the superlative you once were? Does the Burj Khalifa stir up thoughts of anger and envy? Freaking Dubai, right?

Or maybe it’s a relief. After all, it’s hard to live up to a title like tallest-building-in-the-world. Would people love you just for your shape and size? Would people even care what’s on the inside of you, or would they treat you like some token for selfies and postcards. Maybe, just maybe, being the second tallest building in the world has its perks if it means people are more interested in the real you.

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#326 Phuket

22 November 2017 // Phuket, Thailand

Capping off this wild couple of weeks with Phuket. So much fun. So gorgeous.

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#327 Island Hopping

23 November 2017 // Phuket, Thailand

I spent my Thanksgiving out here, so I think it’s safe to say that I’m feeling pretty grateful.

Really, though, I don’t think I could have it any better. I have a job that lets me do work I love, and when it’s done it lets me come home to a life I love. I get to go on these adventures, and when those are all done, I get the adventure of coming home to a crew I love.

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#328 Dream Phuket

24 November 2017 // Phuket, Thailand

One of the more amusing parts of this trip was how radically different all the places I got to stay were. I spent some time in the rural villages of Chiang Rai, and in Malaysia my guest house was clean and had everything it promised– but it also looked undeniably like a prison cell with how thin it was.

This hotel in Phuket was sort of on the other end of the spectrum, as was its poolside bar.

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#329 Ivy & JB

25 November 2017 // Phuket, Thailand

What. A. Wedding.

A blur of colors and joy and crying people and unplanned singers and floating lanterns and love. This whole night was so much fun and it made me happy to see these two so happy.

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#330 Trisara

26 November 2017 // Phuket, Thailand

A parting shot at this gorgeous villa. Been getting spoiled over here the past few days.

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#331 Back to Seoul

27 November 2017 // Seoul, South Korea

Ready for the return trip, and that takes me through one last night in Seoul and hanging out with Jihyun.

Going from the warm humidity of Phuket to suddenly walking the streets of Seoul at wintertime was a contrast made even more vivid by walking into a Thanksgiving potluck blaring Mariah’s Christmas album.

Christmas wasn’t even on the radar when I left for Asia and now it’s in full swing. Quite the homecoming.

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#332 Giving Tuesday

28 November 2017 // San Diego, California

It's #GivingTuesday and Plant With Purpose is at it giving away entire forests. I love being a part of this team, but you probably already knew that.

This year, CyberMonday made Jeff Bezos the new richest person. What if on GivingTuesday we gave a boost to the poorest communities?

The longer I've been involved with so many different causes, the more I appreciate the importance of dealing with root causes. I love Plant With Purpose because of how well it takes on the challenge of poverty with environmental restoration and spiritual growth.

If you want to give effectively, know that when you give a forest away to a community that lives off the land, you're putting the power to transform their lives back into their own hands and keeping it there for generations.

There's still a few hours left to give as part of Giving Tuesday- visit the link in my profile!

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#333 Braving the Wilderness

29 November 2017 // San Diego, California

"I won't sugarcoat this: standing on the precipice of the wilderness is bone chilling. Because belonging is so primal, so necessary, the threat of losing your tribe or going alone feels so terrifying as to keep most of us distanced from the wilderness our whole lives. Human approval is one of our most treasured idols, and the offering we must lay at its hungry feet is keeping others comfortable. I'm convinced that discomfort is the great deterrent of our generation. Protecting the status quo against our internal convictions is obviously a luxury of the privileged, because the underdogs and marginalized have no choice but to brave the daily wilderness."

–Brene Brown

Book No. 45 from 2017

Picked this one up for the Unconventional Book Club. I've been partial to Brene Brown since the TED Talk but had yet to read anything in full. The idea behind this book seemed so timely I looked forward to it.

It took me a little while to figure out the book's direction, but it became clearer midway through: recognizing shared humanity clarifies those moments when speaking up bravely is important, and how to do so in a way that's more effective.

⭐️⭐️⭐️
 

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#334 The Light is Winning

30 November 2017 // San Diego, California

“We might see an opportunity to reflect on what is being revealed, embrace the change that is needed, and move forward in newness of life. After all, isn’t that how the story goes? Life to death, death to resurrection.”

–Zach Hoag

Book No. 46 from 2017

This book was a pretty quick read. The ideas are sound and valuable, but the arrangement kept everything a bit hazy.

If he simply told his story of his upbringing in a Texas cult boldly and vividly, I think the story would have made his points for him. If he went the route of trying to make his case more globally with fewer personal examples, that could’ve worked too. Instead, this kind of falls in a vague gap in between personal memoir and social commentary. I wasn’t quite sure who the book was for- it seemed like he wanted to speak to those with a negative view of religion, but takes a lot of insider knowledge for granted.

⭐️⭐️

Philippe Lazaro365