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About Me

About Me

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Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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Why 2016 Was the Most Epic Year of My Life

Posted on December 29th, 2016

Besides the 9 months I spent in the womb, no consecutive period of time has been more critical to my development as a human than this past year.
 
2016 took me to eleven countries, and a few beautiful images stick out in my mind: Being served chai by young sadhu babas on the top of a silent, misty mountain in India, running into a herd of furry yaks at 14,000 feet in the Himalayas, and hitchhiking in pickup trucks in the Nepalese highlands with a hopelessly charming Israeli, snow-capped peaks and emerald lakes flanking our vistas. 
 
Most of all, I’ll never forget riding on the back of a motorcycle in south India, racing past villages of colorful blocks stacked on green swampy rice fields with a gang of fellow bohemians thinking without a doubt this is the happiest I’ve ever been and perhaps ever will be. 
 
But I had that same thought months later while dancing with my best friend to the 8am set at the best techno club in Berlin, and then again when watching a fireball sunrise in the Nevada desert with my campmates at Burning Man, the motley group of us decked out in rainbow fur, LED lights, and sparkly leggings. The year wouldn’t be over before the thought would cross my mind yet again while curled up in the back of a van deep in Yosemite National Park, snuggling next to a musician whose gypsy soul brought mine out to California and tethered it there unexpectedly, and finally once more while lounging in the November sunshine on the porch of a crunchy granola house in Oakland, the realization dawning that perhaps I had found somewhere in the world to call home. 
 
I spent two weeks trekking alone in the Himalayas, marching myself into a rebirth of self-assurance, quiet mindfulness of the world, and merciless acceptance of the enchantment I truly feel with my own company. I spent 150 hours in silent meditation in India, breaking down and breaking open day after day for twelve days until I came out with a joyful centeredness that hasn’t abandoned me yet. And the months I spent in a foolhardy love affair with Berlin! Bicycling down her wide avenues, dancing in big industrial cradles of what’s still right with the world with other creative misfits from every corner of the globe, all of us determined not to mistake life for anything other than an undefined period of play we’re permitted while temporarily taking up residence on a beautiful ball of energy rocketing us through space. 
 
I made a living as a writer this year, throwing shit at the wall until I saw my name published by media brands I could only have dreamed about as a kid. I paid rent on three continents with my craft and personally helped dozens of other young people from around the world hustle purposefully in the direction of their dreams. I discovered the healing properties of poetry and started writing my own. I read for the first time in my life with a frantic hunger to fill the sisyphean hole at the center of my understanding of history, politics, art, psychology, and philosophy. And through meditation, travel, and my determined abstinence of alcohol, I became conscious of the earthly passions and responsibilities I am called to take up in my lifetime: to write, to think, to educate, to advocate, and to love.
 
Speaking of love, I am for the first time in my life completely, wholly, healthily, masterfully happy with being single. My romantic affairs have been plentiful, passionate, and piloted by a paradoxical infusion of well-measured detachment and an emphatic investment of honesty, love, and sincerity. I’ve also come to a far more intelligent estimation of my attitudes towards motherhood and marriage, both of which become less appealing with every advance in brutal self-awareness I make. I harbor an overwhelming debt of gratitude to the generations of foresisters who fought to give me the enormous privilege to define myself, now and in the future, without the expectation of lifelong male partnership or sacrificial childbearing.
 
And the last massive milestone that made 2016 the most epic year of my life was the heart-wrenching and supremely important moment I experienced just a few weeks ago, staggering along a dark cobblestone street in colonial Mexico when at last I understood that something had changed. Something had gauged out a hole at the center of my life while I was busy backpacking through India and earnestly rearranging my career and dancing in the desert and standing on top of mountains in Nepal and camping under the stars in California. 
 
The same things that had profoundly shaped me, showered me in joy, and allowed me to become the woman I am today, those very same things had opened a final, hidden door of awareness, a passageway to the next logical chapter of my life. And it was then that I sat down to cry among strangers in that little town in Mexico and declared that I had fallen out of love with the nomadic lifestyle I’ve become known for, relinquishing my attachment to it the way a drunk with a sobering wave of self-recognition leaves her drink on the bar and takes herself home to a warm bed. 
 
In 2016, the entire world opened up to me in a way that rocked every fiber of my fragile molecular being. I have never felt more free, more alive, or more connected to my purpose, and I will fight to make sure it stays this way for the rest of my life. It’s also a year that closes with tossing me out on my head with a new mission, a new desire to carve out a slightly more rooted place for myself in the world. The same fire-blooded love of freedom, knowledge, and adventure that irreversibly shaped my identity in 2016 is burning to teach me new lessons. 
 
And if this year could give me an armful of the sweetest memories my twenty seven years have ever known, then I’m optimistic that 2017 will continue to fine-tune my delightfully plunderous attempt at the art of being human.
 
—–
 
A few favorite photos of 2016:
 
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Train travel in India
 
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New friends after 12 days in a Vipassana center in south India
 
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Meeting funny sadhu babas in Varanasi, India
 
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The Hampi motorcycle gang
 
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Guess where? (With tears in my eyes!!)
 
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The women of India who put a smile on everyone's face
 
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My beloved old scooter in Auroville, India
 
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Attending a festival in Kerala, India
 
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Taking a first glance of the streets of Mumbai
 
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Ceremonies in Varanasi, India
 
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Trekking in Nepal
 
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Guesthouses along the Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
 
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Standing at 15,000 feet in the Himalayas, after 9 days of trekking 
 
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I told myself I wasn't going trekking in Nepal, I couldn't do it, I wasn't strong enough.
Guess what? I was.
 
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The crazy things you see while taking the cheapest local buses in Nepal
 
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The beauty of Kathmandu
 
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Taking a motorcycle ride through the rural Kathmandu Valley
 
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Kathmandu Valley views
 
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Camping with the kindest Israelis I've ever met, lakeside in Begnas Tal region. Nepal
 
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Before Passover dinner with me and a dozen former Israeli soldiers, Begnas Tal region, Nepal
No shirts allowed. 
My kind of place.
 
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Changing up the pace in Amsterdam
 
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Paris, Paris, Paris
 
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Quintessential European party hostel life, Budapest
 
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From that week I drove a car around Germany (I don't drive!)
 
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Made it to Berlin and got my best friend with me!
 
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Me and my faithful companion in Berlin
 
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UNC alum reunion in Berlin
 
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Best friend. Best city. Best summer.
 
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A few memories from nights out in Berlin
 
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Girl meets California 
 
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And then this happened. Burning Man.
 
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New friends and old friends.
 
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My camp!! I love you all!
 
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One of the wonderful people the playa brought into my life.
 
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And then I took a shower.
And watched one of my best friends walk down the aisle.
 
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She was the most beautiful bride in the world!! I lost it watching her walk through the meadow grass on a perfect, still, warm North Carolina evening.
 
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California round 2. I was more excited to get to know the west coast than some countries I've been to.
 
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Yosemite wasn't bad either.
 
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Back in San Francisco, bonding with my Burning Man camp in the "default world"
 
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Saturday mornings at the best house in Oakland (backyard tree house not pictured)
 
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Then I moved to Mexico!
 
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Celebrating life in Tulum (job not pictured)
 
Okay, that's it. I'm crying now. Thank you, universe, for the best year of my life! If I keep being grateful, will you keep bringing me love?

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About Me

About Me

IMG_5937

Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

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Currently in: Malawi

 

 

Previously in: Berlin

 

img_6015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Hot

Recent Posts

Coaching

Coaching

Step into my office!

 

Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

Now I use Office Hours to help my clients do the same.

 

Do you want to travel but are scared to quit your job?

Do you want to find a job overseas but don’t know where to start?

Do you wake up in the morning dreading what’s ahead?

Read more

Like Me on Facebook

Like Me On Facebook

Follow me on twitter

Follow me on twitter

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Elaina on Instagram