Backpackers everywhere.


Please leave your backpacks at the front door, that’s a sign at the entrance to the only supermarket in town. The backpackers have arrived to pick the apples. 

Not the normal sign you would expect to see. Backpackers please leave your backpacks at the front door. We reserve the right to search customers bags, that’s the language of the city supermarkets. Donnybrook has many town icons bearing the apple. The Apple Fun Park , the largest free-entry playground in Australia, opened in Easter 2008 in time for the Donnybrook Apple Festival. The Donnybrook Apple Festival is held annually during Easter. The citizens of Donnybrook gather at Egan Park to celebrate the apple. The festival includes agricultural displays, sideshow alley, the crowning of the Apple Queen and a parade. During the street parade the Catholic Church of Donnybrook blesses the holy apple, assuring a good harvest in the year to come.

I have moved to the city now, I have been here a couple of weeks. Shopping at the local supermarket prompted me to think of the backpackers in Donnybrook. How many backpackers hostels there were in a small town, five that I can remember. Also how much these young people’s spending, helped swell the local businesses bank accounts. I never thought of it at the time but I hiked every morning with my small backpack, starting off in the forest and often ending up going to the local supermarket. The sign on the front door didn’t apply to me, it never even crossed my mind that it did. I wasn’t young of course, desperate to steal food!

Young backpackers.

The majority of backpackers spend most of their time interacting with other backpackers, and any interactions with locals are seen as “secondary importance.” That’s a criticism often voiced, but most of these backpackers come from Asia with poor English language skills. Living in dormitory style blocks isolated from the locals, of course they will interact with each other more. I know they were often confused with this strange country town ritual of leaving backpacks outside on the pavement. They can’t go into the supermarket without someone looking after their backpack, because someone might steal it.

An extensive inquiry by the employment regulator found widespread  exploitation of backpackers working in regional areas. The two year investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman, surveyed more than 4000 foreigners with 417 visas working in regional areas, has revealed alarming results, particularly for the agriculture industry, which rely on the backpacker workforce to fill critical labor shortages. The word “backpacker” has come to symbolize an itinerant person, who alternates between working and wandering. Also, anyone who doesn’t settle in one place for any length of time and is usually foreign. There taking our jobs is another backpacker criticism. Maybe these are jobs, we no longer want to do.

Irish backpackers.

No luck, Australia: Irish backpackers heading elsewhere. The number of Irish backpackers in Australia has dropped by more than half in three years. Startling tourism operators and farmers who rely on working holidaymakers in busy periods. Danny Keenan and Jonny Jamieson are in no rush to return to Ireland. But while cooking up lunch in a St Kilda hostel, the two friends have found themselves among a dwindling number of Irish backpackers who were willing to make the long trip to Australia

When I was a teen, every second week there was an Australia-leaving party. It has slowed down now you get maybe one every two months.” Danny Keenan said, many of his friends back home are now considering other options, such as a working holiday in Canada, with its proximity to the US, a shorter flight from Ireland and football-friendly time zone. This is part of a story in the Sydney morning herald January 2016.


I have worked in the construction industry with a number of “Irish backpackers” they never seem to have a backpack though. Their here for a perceived better life, with more opportunity, many of them settle here. I’m a hiker and I carry a backpack. I don’t do any of the perceived things that would define me as a “backpacker”. When I set off on the track with the intention to hike to a certain place with my backpack, the only label attached is Gregory Baltoro. Its packed carefully with everything well researched for weight and functionality. I live in a house surrounded with furniture and commitments, to me my “backpack” represents a different life that’s there when I want it. I only have to commit to staying fit and healthy.

Backpackers freedom to travel

Fear rehearsing benefits

Fear Rehearsing.

Rehearsing the fear of death would be the “worst case-scenario,” but we can’t inoculate ourselves from death and any planned rehearsing would require risks. Contemplating our own death to stay motivated helps. Having a sense of how short our lives are and being conscious of how little time we have left. There is no reason to believe we will be given a second chance, at least not on this earth. So it’s important to put all the petty things in life that we worry about into perspective. I’m not advocating we walk around thinking about our own demise all the time. But use fear rehearsing benefits as a motivational tool to reflect on the things that often scare us the most.

Fear rehearsing, can be regularly micro-dosing ourselves with the “worst-case scenario” as an inoculation. It’s planned exposure to the “bad” realizing the bad isn’t so bad, we can make it less so with repeated exposure. One of the life skills that is good to practice, is learning how little we actually need to live on. Not just in a survival mode, but in a contented mode. This gives us the confidence to take a risk, because you ask the question, “what’s the worst that can happen.” Well the worst that can happen is, that we end up with a backpack, sleeping bag, and eat porridge every day. Not cold porridge either as we have our “jet boil” to heat it up.

Fear rehearsing practices.

Remember it’s not just about survival, it’s about getting by with less. Allowing this to help us conquer the fear of our comfortable life being disrupted and having to live a simpler life by necessity. “Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare. With coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while. Is this the condition that I feared? Seneca. What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do. It’s a fear of unknown outcomes and uncomfortable conversations we may have with ourselves. Some periodic fear rehearsing we might do to simulate and inoculate ourselves from losing all our money.

This could be a period of 3 to 14 days or longer.  1 Sleeping in our sleeping bag (yes you can use your lightweight sleeping mat) this can be on the floor anywhere, but not in your bedroom. Also sleeping outside in your tent if your backyards big enough ( a hiking tent is only small )  2 Wearing one pair of jeans and cheap tee-shirts, for the duration.  3 Eating only very basic food, porridge as I mentioned before, rice and beans.  4 All cooking on the portable camp stove.  5 Drinking only water and cheap instant coffee or tea ( remember clean drinking water is a luxury)  6 Fasting for a day and only drinking water.  7 This is the toughest part, no internet, only at libraries.

Fear rehearsing  benefits.

Oddly, we are likely to feel happier after we experiment with these concepts. It takes a monthly or quarterly reminder of how independent our well being can be, when we distance ourselves from the outcome of money. There is freedom to be gained from practicing a frugal lifestyle, even for a short while. It sharpens our senses as we realize how much less we can live on, also more grateful for the things we do have. It’s working backwards from our greatest fear, realizing the chances of that happening are most of the time, unrealistic. When we grasp the idea that even if our worst fear did materialize we would be still be alright. Then it’s easier to rank and push through our lesser fears.

Life can be tough and struggling with money is a large part of that, it’s all about perspective and the situation we each find ourselves in. It’s pretty easy to live on what is just enough, but that’s not what life is about. It’s equally important to measure the atrocious cost of inaction, if you don’t pursue the things that excite you now. How will you feel  5 or 10 years from now if your living with disappointment and regret in not doing the things, fear held you back from. Your inaction could be the greatest risk of all.

Fear rehearsing benifits
Fear rehearsing It’s only a baby spider


Childhood vows subtle decisions made.

Childhood vows subtle decisions made
Childhood vows


Childhood Vows how subtle ways of thinking effect us later in life.

Questioning childhood assumptions is a good place to start. I’m not talking about social and cultural conditioning, which effects all of us. These social and cultural beliefs can be and often are very limiting for us. There was also nuance thinking, unique to me, caused by subtle childhood vows I made. Innocent as they were, they became part of how I saw the world and the people around me. Attitudes were cemented throughout my childhood and teenage years, these moments were like forks in a road. They could have been catastrophic things or traumas, that may have been easier to understand. But these situations I have been thinking about were not significant at the time, but subtly put me onto a certain road for a period of years.

It’s these minor forks in the road, these were the choices I wasn’t aware of making, these choices are the ones that I have taken for granted as part of who I am. I realize now, that some of the forks in the road have caused me to have certain values and principles that I uphold, or have moved away from. This has made me think of the cost I may have paid, or am paying in my life in the present moment.

Having perspective.

I’m realistic, I’m not blaming myself or others, the pitfalls in the road are minor setbacks. I’m trying to be more flexible going forward. Often we are so sure of our beliefs, that we defend them and have arguments over them. We are so sure of the correct way to live life, that we look down on others who live and think differently. Liking the people who support our beliefs and disliking the one’s who don’t. We seek and defend the “truth” because we think such a thing really exists.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” Marcus Aurelius. There are thousands of remarks and situations we may encounter through our early years. Not every remark in life causes us to make a vow it’s only a decision to be a certain way. Having an attitude towards a certain situation, or no attitude at all. Or a vow is never made because the impression is not strong enough.

Childhood vows.

These could be some childhood vows that may solidify later. A young boy prepares a speech to give to his class, he’s really excited and his parents realize how important it is to their child. He stands up in front of the class and in his excitement forgets the words he wants to say. The teacher remarks “that wasn’t very good, did you memorize what you were going to say as I asked you to. I’m sure the others will have done what I told them, and not forget their words.” The boy makes a vow to never speak in front of people again, because he feels humiliated. He doesn’t tell anyone, but for the rest of his life, he can never summon up the courage to ever express himself properly around people. Obviously this leads to all sorts of problems.

A young girl is walking down the street with her mother. There is a homeless person begging for money on the sidewalk. The mother tells her daughter that the person is a bum, worthless and no good to anybody. If you don’t work really hard in school and make me happy by being a good girl. You will end up just like that and disappoint your father and me. The young girl makes a vow, I will work extra hard in everything I do. I don’t want to end up like that homeless person or disappoint my parents. She goes on to have a good career, but has little empathy for others, which causes problems in her marriage later on. This vow could have taken the girl in another direction, depending on her perspective. She could have resented her mother for the same remark.

More Childhood vows.

A boy is chastised at school for being untidy and having a messy desk. He makes a vow to be good and never be messy again, always wanting things to be tidy in his life. He ends up avoiding any type of confrontation and maintains order in everything he does. His own children are messy and he finds this extremely hard to deal with, leading to other problems.

A girl is at the outdoor market with her mother. A man is eating a take away, chewing with his mouth open. The mother makes a disparaging remark, “that man is a pig, do you see the way he chews his food, he is no better than an animal.” The girl makes a vow to never be like that, but in doing so, makes constant judgements of others manners. Becoming very dogmatic in her attitudes towards people. She carries this into her relationships, with obvious problems.

My Childhood vows.

I can remember a couple of forks in my road that I believe, had a profound effect on me. My father was reading the local paper, he came across an article about a man who had worked at the same company all his life. He made a remark that he felt sorry for the man, how could he waste his whole life in one place. Never experiencing the world and everything it had to offer. What good was a watch and a retirement party, when he had given up so much. As a result I realized years later, that I made a vow to never be like that man, I would travel and have different jobs and experience as many things as I possibly could.

I have been in the work force for 50 years and have never been in a job for longer than four years. Due to my apprenticeship where I had no other option, but I managed to take time out to travel even then. I married and had two sons, we moved around a lot, working in different places. I look back on that vow today and realize what a profound effect it had on my life. Not only that but other peoples lives as well. Lots of positives though, both my sons are very confident men now, I’m sure that going to different schools, may of helped their confidence. They have both said “thanks, we  know what we don’t want, we want to settle and provide a stable life for our own children.” In a counter intuitive way it has all worked out.

Another Vow.

We lived in a quiet street in a very conservative town in England, everybody knew each others business and made judgements accordingly. Our next door neighbor who lived on his own for a number of years. Suddenly went to prison for child molestation offences, it was the talk of the street. No smoke without fire of course, but no one knew the full story, unless you believed all the gossip. Evidently something happened, because he returned home a few months later. No one would speak to him and tried to pretend he didn’t exist. My father surprised me with his reaction, much to my mothers distain.

I heard him say “I don’t care what anybody says, he’s a good neighbor and he’s still more than welcome in this house.  I’m not going to judge him. While he’s lonely and ostracized and I’m not prepared to stand by and let this situation continue.” They were good friends from that time on and for many years, they had a cup of tea and a chat every afternoon until my father passed away. The vow I made then, not to judge others and help out when I can. Has stayed with me from those teenage years until this day. Those two vows I made, worked out well in the end. Since there were other moments, but as I said before, not every remark makes us take a childhood vow, it comes down to our attitude at the time.


Develop the strength to do bold things.

Develop the strength to do bold things
I’m not scared of you slimy do bold things

“All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it’s impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.” Niccolo Machiavelli.

In life it’s only natural to experience setbacks and problems. Self discipline is the tool we require to solve life’s problems. Without self discipline, we can solve nothing. With only some self discipline, we can solve problems. With total self discipline, we can solve practically all problems. Self discipline is the means by which we concentrate our mind on what we want from life. At the same time keeping our mind from attracting what we don’t want through fear and worry.

Winston Churchill once said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm” The trick to doing bold things is changing the way we respond to failure, it’s disassociating ourselves from it. Our failure in any given area doesn’t make us a failure. It’s reframing our thoughts in a different way. I am not a failure, but I failed at doing this, boldness comes as we turn failure into strength with self discipline.

Take a bold step.

Some people get angry when they fail, others, unwilling to except responsibility, look for scapegoats. Still others ignore their negative results and continue with negative actions. “There’s really only one solution to gridlock on the failure freeway and that’s to wake up and find the exit. John C Maxwell. In a world of instant gratification it gets harder to play the long game, as we look for quick fixes to solve our problems. The problem is we get comfortable with what we were doing, and the new habit we need to be better, is less comfortable. We’re clinging to the comfortable, it’s so easy to be enticed by a stable salary, a routine and a comfortable life, but at what expense?  You can only make progress if you take a bold step. Overcoming the fear of failing is the first step to success.

“Try and fail, but don’t fail to try” John Quincy Adams.

Take action if you make mistakes realize your fear of failure isn’t based on logic but on experience. That experience eventually brings competence and as a result you make fewer mistakes. You have to act your way into feeling positive, not wait for positive emotions to carry you forward. “Fake it till you make it” I’m a firm believer that this can work, everyone does it to a certain extent and there is nothing wrong with that. The mind can be tricked, you can balance your life on a small hack. In the meantime, you will learn what you need to and turn that pretend confidence into the real deal. All it takes is a little nerve.

Doing bold things.

Doing bold things, comes in more when you have to do a particular task and there’s nowhere to hide your “fake it till you make it.” I can remember one particular boss I had in the construction industry, when I was a lot younger than I am now. You started in the morning and had until lunch time to prove your ability. “Here’s the blue print build that” lunch time came around, it was a very simple process. “Good on you mate, go grab your lunch” or “pick up your tools and fuck off”. Could he do that today I’m not sure? Did it help me to do bold things in the future? when you need money there is no choice, it’s doing bold things with necessity in mind.

Without the concept of fear there would be no need for boldness or courage. With boldness we choose to be bigger than our current self and step towards the future. We bring the new into the present, knowing that fear will show up, but we must commit to action anyway. Courage allows us to handle the waves of fear as they arrive, because we have made a commitment to do bold things.

Quitting, not giving up but moving on.

The act of quitting.

There will always be people who dare to live on the margins of society, who are not dependent on social acceptance or social routine, preferring a more free-floating existence. With these thoughts in mind, quitting, is not giving up but moving on. Changing direction is not a complaint, but a positive choice, not a stop in one’s journey, but a step in a better direction. Quitting is never seen as the end of something, but as a vital step in beginning something new and possibly more pleasurable. A winner never quits and a quitter never wins. This is a very popular quote in motivational books and seminars, but it can be taken to an unhealthy level, getting yourself stuck in something you are completely unsuitable for.

I’m not suggesting you become a serial quitter. Although there has to be a point where keeping on keeping on can only cause damage to your health and long term happiness. The upside of quitting is looking at the sunk cost and the opportunity cost. Sunk cost is about the past, it’s the time and sweat equity you’ve put into a job. Or a long term project, which makes quitting harder. Opportunity cost is about the future, it means every hour you spend on one thing, is an opportunity lost in spending that hour on something else. Something that could well make your life better. If only you weren’t so worried about the sunk cost, if only you could quit.

Constructive quitting.

Turning points often come up in our lives and there is nothing wrong with that, it can also be seen as a sign of growth. Quitting something that has been in place for a long period of time requires a test of character. Many people are able to create more personal freedom with the act of “constructive quitting’. Negotiating with their employers for special sabbaticals and long term leaves of absence. Even leaving your job in a permanent manner need not be a negative act, especially in a period where work is likely to be defined by job specialization and the fragmentation of tasks. Working a particular job with the intention of quitting is more often becoming an act of common sense, in an age of portable skills and diversified employment options.

All around the world people are quitting traditional employment and making their own way. Often turning their passion into profit while creating a more meaningful life. There’s no rehabilitation program for quitting and becoming addicted to freedom. So good luck turning back to follow someone else’s set of rules again. Freedom is possible, freedom isn’t something to be envisioned in a vaguely distant future, the future is now.

Skills and ideas.

Skills and ideas are the new currency, not certificates and titles, it’s the question of trusting yourself again. The strength that you need to quit your job, is the strength you will need, to find new opportunities. These opportunities will fulfill you more than you thought possible, there are more ways to “have a purpose” than ever before. It’s not whether you choose to change. Things are changing and it’s only a matter of how we are going to deal with them. Any get rich quick scheme is like drinking or gambling it can ruin your life. You won’t make any progress towards your goal until you give it up. There are two sides to negotiate after quitting, one is working diligently towards success in your new venture. The other is having your commitments under control before you start, preparation is the key.

Get excited about survival, learn to live on less and enjoy the process. Take that attitude into building something that other people will value enough to pay for. Your not just creating a job for yourself your working towards a more sustainable future.

Never confuse the size of your pay check with the size of your talent. Marlon Brando

Quitting not giving up but moving on
Decide what you want no quitting keep going

The lie of lack in comparison

The lie of lack.

Lie of lack
No lie of lack here it’s paradise

The lie of lack tries to convince us we are not enough. Also we don’t have enough and can’t do enough to be seen, heard and known. The lie of lack prompts us to believe we are missing out. It also doesn’t want us fulfilled in peace and contentment, it wants us to want more. In doing this, we question that we are not where we should be or will never get to where we want to be. In comparing ourselves to others, it’s easy to see where we don’t measure up. Whenever we feel the need to provide ourselves with something, it can be an indicator we are working from a position of lack. When we lack peace, we grab something, it could be drugs, alcohol, gambling , shopping, smoking or over eating. This can cause us to confront our sense of lack and where we need improvement.

We also value scan by comparing ourselves to friends, family and others, if only we had what they have, we will be happy. We fail to understand that the individuals we envy, have the same problems of being content and happy that we have. Comparison robs us of joy and satisfaction in our own lives, dispersing our time and energy in the wrong way. Instead of focusing our energy and allowing it to help us to become stronger.

Accepting ourselves.

Most comparing comes from low self esteem, not owning our own life and uniqueness. Giving in to blind mass conformity gets us into the lie of lack. When we conceive ourselves to lack what someone else has, it feels like we are permanently obstructed from ever being happy. Until we get what they have or the position in life they have realized. Yet it’s far more difficult sometimes to see where we have grown and improved. The most satisfying thing in life is to be ourselves and to live into that and accept it fully. As we become older we start to realize that the eccentricities that once worried us when we were younger, no longer matter. Now we can be fully open and wear our eccentricities for all to see. Not only that, but love ourselves for them, uncovering our true self in the process.

Self worth doesn’t exist, nobody is worth more than anyone else, who determines what’s worth what? The whole “worth” thing, is just a label we attach to things, that in themselves, have no worth at all, but we treat them like they do. Every object that we put a value amount on, is created by us, it’s only real because we give in to the consensus of a value amount being placed on it. There is a  competition happening and we are being constantly encouraged to join in and compete. But it’s a losing position, as there will always be individuals who are better and more adept than we are. The answer is to stop competing, focus on being a creator and ground yourself in your own values. The mature adult is a creator in life not a competitor.

Our own uniqueness.

We are too complex to compare, we aren’t comparing the same things, as individuals we are totally unique. To compare two individuals is like trying to compare apples and oranges. Each of us has a different life history, a different personality, family background and the resources we had available to us as we grew up. We also grew up in different countries, different neighborhoods and with different governments. These differences mean we are not all capable of the same things, as we come from very complex origins. We also allocate our time and energy differently, focusing on the things that we deem important to us at the time. While concentrating more on one particular subject, we become stronger in that, but weaker in another.

The lie of lack is just that, it’s impossible to compare what we can’t see. You can’t see all the facets of anyone’s life and how they focus their energy and the resources they have to work with. It’s a totally unfair comparison that doesn’t allow for individuals being unique and very different. Take ownership of your life, make it a do it yourself  project with your own sense of purpose.

Being “normal” is overrated.

Life is short, we have limited time and energy, there is no sense wasting that time and energy being normal. The human herd is basically very average, most people don’t behave in an intelligent manner or lead a satisfying life. So we have no reason to live this type of life. The most satisfying thing is to be yourself, to live it and except it fully. When we are young and attending school and college, we spend a lot of our time and energy trying desperately to fit in and be normal. The things that once worried us we don’t care about anymore, this can be a very liberating experience.

We can even play into that and make our uniqueness  part of our authentic personality. Your unique and seen that way and counter intuitively this can make you more attractive than you otherwise would be if you were conforming to the “normal.” In each of us is an authentic self that deserves to be revealed, this takes time and effort but the results are well worth it.

Lie of lack in comparison
No lie of lack here I’m wearing a crown I must be important