This is a special newsletter.

I am proud to share three stories written by the winners of the writing challenge of my Thought Leader course.

In those stories, you will find the authors in a junction. They must resolve an inner conflict first and then make external moves to get to the other side.

I found myself in all three stories.

Passive-aggressive emails, the end of a relationship that is not the right fit anymore, and the pursuit of financial independence.

In all three stories, an unraveling leads to clarity and the re-emergence of a stronger, wiser self.

And in all three stories, writing plays a role.

Your pen is stronger than the sword, and our heroes know when and how to use it.

Enjoy.

📱 Call me maybe?

By Clement Ray

It is 6:00 pm. I receive a passive-aggressive email with a lot left for interpretation between the lines.

I am tired. 😫

I am triggered. 🤬

I start typing a “not-so-passive” aggressive answer.

Luckily, I stop, take a deep breath and pick up my phone.

5 minutes later, I hang up.

Problem solved. ✅

Working relationship maintained. ✅

This happened today, and it could be any day.

I have learnt the hard way that email is confusing and damaging in many occasions. For effective communication, I now favor the phone.

💡 Did you know that according to a study by the University of Chicago, tone of voice accounts for 38% of communication effectiveness?

Next time you need to convey an important message or clear the air, consider picking up the phone instead of relying on email to create a more humane environment.

Clement Rey is a husband, father of 3 and a business leader in the MedTech industry. He is currently pursuing his certification as a coach and is deeply committed to fostering more humanity and connection in the workplace.

My subconscious knew what I was consciously avoiding.

By Caroline Rae

You must leave your relationship.

When I quit my job to take a sabbatical and travel around SE Asia with my long-term boyfriend, my friend gifted me the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

“It helps you focus your mind and make sure you don’t fall for the safe option,” she said.

It piqued my interest, so I packed it into my rucksack, pulling it out when I landed in Ho Chi Minh City.

The Artist’s Way aims to help you release self-doubt and pursue your creative dreams.

The core exercise in the book is the “morning pages.” You get up and journal your stream of consciousness before you do anything else.

The rule is that you must keep writing uninterrupted until you complete 3 pages, even if it’s jumbled gobbledegook, which is what it often felt like.

Research shows that right after waking, your subconscious is more accessible to you as your conscious brain is yet to kick into gear fully.

By developing the habit of journaling your morning pages, you can unclog the mental and emotional goop that gets in the way of being productive and creative.

One thought consistently dropped into my notebook on the 60 days I wrote the morning pages while touring Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.

You must leave your relationship. It’s not supporting you.

The words varied. But the message was clear.

I got home from my travels, broke up with my boyfriend and moved across the city to live by myself for the first time.

It was glorious.

I started a new, incredibly exciting job where I met bright and brilliant people, including my future husband.

The job took me on a completely different career trajectory and, ultimately, the path to founding my coaching business.

We often stick to what’s not working for us – a job, a career, how we approach work. Change is uncertain, and sometimes we can feel like we are giving up or failing.

But micro shifts in what you do – journaling consistently, setting boundaries, curating who you spend time with, taking time away from your desk – can have a macro impact on your work, relationships and health.

Have you read the Artist’s Way?

Caroline Rae is an Executive Coach & Career Strategist who writes about self-leadership, resilience for performance and intentional living.

From Identity Crisis to Renewed Purpose

Re-framing Financial Independence on My Terms

By Tracy Collins

Where to start?

I thought I had it figured out. There were dozens of spreadsheets, financial models, and projections.

In October 2022, at the age of 47, I announced we were Financially Independent. At a minimum, I wanted a gap year while I figured out what to do next. I hoped not to work for as long as possible.

We were still in Dubai but were out of touch with the cost of living outside of the UAE.

Six months in, and there’s been a significant re-think.

When you burn your life down, you can’t help but change. There was:

  • A job loss in Dubai
  • A difficult relocation from the UAE to Mexico
  • Significant culture shock
  • A new remote role working in a field I care about

There were hard lessons about:

  • Inflation: In Mexico, inflation is reported at 10%, but live here awhile, and you’ll see that it’s much higher.
  • Purchasing power: The Canadian dollar is weak which means our money does not go very far.
  • Cost of living: The true cost of living in Mexico is 32% higher than what we expected.

If I’m honest, the clues were everywhere, but experience, as always, is the ultimate teacher.

The move to Playa

We have been living in Playa del Carmen (PDC) since December 2022.

PDC is full of people like us fleeing North America and Europe for a different life. Ask around, and everyone’s got the same story: Inflation, tax, politics, war, cost of living, and quality of life.

In the last 18 months, geo arbitrage, though still a great strategy, is a lot more expensive.

It’s not only Mexico but everywhere experiencing this. And at least in Mexico, your money goes further than in the West.

A breathtaking four-month unraveling.

I lost my job in October 2022. By the middle of October, we launched our blog www.mindfulfirelife.com. I pushed out a ton of content in those early days. My truth, as I knew it at the time, poured out of me.

By the beginning of November, a company that I’d been eyeing reached out to offer me a role, which I accepted.

We left the UAE at the end of November, and after a 10-day detour to Canada, arrived in Mexico in early December.

By mid-December, I noticed our spending was in freefall.

I started tracking our spending and, within a few weeks, realized that our spending was on par with Dubai. The $2,500 USD budget I’d read about online was a sham.

In January, Steve left for Saudi Arabia for a 2-month contract. I started my new role, which turned out to be a saving grace. In hindsight, though I thought I wanted a gap year, in truth, it was the wrong time.

As I settled into my new role, I used writing as a tool to help me make sense of what was happening. Writing is what helped me process our new reality and define a new path forward and truth for FI.

Read the rest of the article and give Tracy a follow on Medium.

Tracy Collins is a mindfulness consultant and financial independence writer. Having hit her Financial Independence number in May 2022, she is now focused on purposeful projects that align with her values.

I hope you enjoyed those three stories as much as I did. I recommend you follow our three thought leaders: TracyCaroline and Clement.

And, if you would like to learn from me how to make a difference with your writing, check out my Thought Leader course, which is now on-demand.

Take care,

Caterina

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