Freedom

Currency: Freedom

Lisa

Before I visited Bali for the first time, I’d heard about it from several people. They gushed about the beauty there and the peacefulness of the people. Many said if I went, I wouldn’t want to come back. I was intrigued to say the least. Finally the day came when I held a ticket to Bali in my hand, wondering what awaited me. I would be traveling for a month alone and I was little afraid I’d feel scared and lonely being so far from home. Thanks to my friends on Facebook, I connected up with a friend of a friend in Bali, Lisa.

“I came for the yoga, stayed for the free-diving,” she told me as she casted her flip-flops onto the sand. She’d taken me to the local dive shop in Amed, a small village on the northeast tip of Bali and introduced me to her friends she’d made there. “They’re like my family away from home. They’re the best.” Lisa had been coming to this dive shop every day for almost 6 months. Everyone knew her and teased her like a little sister. She goes on to tell me about free-diving, which she has taken up since being in Bali. A self-proclaimed fraidy-cat of the water, Lisa decided to face her fears and can now dive to over 100 feet, unassisted by an air tank. “I came to Bali, intending to stay for 3 weeks, then to go to Thailand for another 3 weeks. Instead I stayed for 4 months.” Despite frequent trips back to NYC to visit family, Lisa has been living in Bali for over 4 years now.

Working as a highly stressed out litigation attorney in New York City, Lisa had a whole other life before she discovered her next adventure. “My days used to be spent in a small office surrounded by reams of paper under harsh fluorescent lights. Now they're spent in the Bali Sea amid multi-colored fish and coral.” With a yearning for travel, Lisa finally pulled the trigger on booking her first trip to Bali when a friend said, ‘take your laptop and go.’ And the rest was history.

Lisa rents out her apartment in New York City in order to make her new life in Bali work. She also works remotely now, but instead of law she’s taken up other interests and says the change has changed her for the better. “Most of my friends are extremely supportive. Some think I'm crazy,” she says to me as we look out into the crystal blue waters and prepare for snorkeling. I glance at her and ask if I can take a portrait of her, just as she was at that moment, wrapped loosely in her sarong. Her skin was aglow and hair tasseled from the sea air. I couldn’t really imagine her anywhere else.

Matt

If you’ve read ‘The Tipping Point’ it is easy to understand what kind of person Matt Bedrosian is. He is what the author refers to as a ‘connector’ —someone who thrives on connecting others for beneficial synergy. He has done that throughout his career metamorphis, from high-powered, fast-paced Hollywood agent to high energy, low stress yogi.

In his first incarnation, Matt, an agent at Paradigm, helped writers get scripts made into movies. “I loved aspects of it,” Matt says, “but I started to feel a somewhat negative and desperate energy shift from the people around me as the nature of the industry was changing. There was always a carrot dangling in front of us that we couldn’t quite catch.” Matt knew he could not maintain that level of stress and so, when he turned 45, he started trying to figure out what really made him happy.

His wife, Kim, encouraged him take a yoga class. A 6’4” skier, Matt had always embraced cross training. “It seems like as I get older I can’t do the things I used to. It’s like, what is my release now? What am I going to do with these achy knees?” Turns out, after taking some classes at an Encino studio, Matt fell in love with the practice and the mindset. “There are very few places you can go in LA,” Matt says, “where you don’t have to put on airs.” Soon he began to envision his own studio.

“I knew I could be happy if I created a space where people who wanted to elevate themselves could,” says Matt. “I had visions of a community studio where like minded people could find and inspire each other.” Matt dove in head first to teacher training, ultimately leasing a space on the Boulevard and opening Forward Fold. His designer wife helped to make the space ‘an urban refuge,,’floor to ceiling windows looking out to a lush garden, dimmable lighting setting the mood and soundproof walls to quiet the world outside.

Matt is beloved by his students—not just for his teaching techniques—but for the personal touch he gives each class. Remembering names, details and special talents Matt still relishes at putting like-minded people together. He even has classes dedicated to the arts. During one recent workshop, “Yoga for Writers,” he instructed students to write in a journal and have a discussion afterwards. “I think people are dying for a supportive, art community,” shares Matt “and I love that I get to contribute to a space that leaves people happier at the end of the day.”

Julia

Ask anyone on the trails of Runyon Canyon about Julia and they will either know her or know of her. Leading a pack of 8 to 10 dogs, 2 to 3 times a day will draw some attention especially if you’re a friendly blonde. Julia is known as the Major of Runyon or the Queen of the Canines and for good reason. Passionate about her career in dog walking, Julia is a magnet.

Talk about a career shift. Several years back Julia found herself burnt out on high end event planning. From music award shows, parades, weddings and book launches, Julia was there tending to each and every detail. “I was sick all the time. Since I’ve been walking dogs, I haven’t been sick at all, for years.” The stress became too much when her own dog was tragically hit by a car, marking a new direction for Julia. “It was awful but it made me think about what was really important.”

Julia quit her day job and starting going to the dog park. Mourning the loss of her yellow lab Eddie, she found solace in playing with the dogs at the park. One day, sparked by a conversation with a stranger, Julia got the idea to start a dog walking company. “Being outside all day, walking, training and taking care of dogs, just sounded like a dream.” So, after several bruises, scratches and a really dirty car, Julia became a real life Dr. Doolittle. A few searches online and you’ll find the myriad of recommendations from her clients, far and wide.

Julia reveals the best thing about her new career path is being appreciated by her human and dog clients. Never feeling fulfilled in her past occupation Julia raves about the positive mental shift her new career has had on her. “I think I have a following. Sometimes I have as many people walking with me as I have dogs. We like to talk. I think I have become a bit of a counselor.” So, if you need some life advice or a big lick from a Puggle or Poodle Doodle, you know where to find her. Julia was inspired by being included in this project several years ago that she went back to school to study NLP and get her counseling certification. You can find her new, budding business model here @ www.badassunicorns.com

Glenn

Several years ago, Glenn traded the bitter chill of the San Francisco bay wind for the gentle, warm breeze of the Pacific Ocean making Manhattan Beach California his new home. Taking a job with Mercedes, this Stanford grad pushed numbers by day and traveled weekly meeting new clients and gathering research for the car giant. “It was tough with all the travel I did. I felt like I didn’t have a foundation in the city,” says Davis. Seeking a sense of community Glenn took a volleyball class. Living blocks from Manhattan Beach, the birthplace of volleyball, Glenn was amazed at the tight nit community that existed around the sport. It wasn’t until the recession that Glenn was introduced to a new life of fitness, fun and a lot more sunsets.

“Our travel budgets were cut which meant I was home a lot more then the previous year. I started practicing a lot more, 4-5 times a week and working with coaches to improve my skills. It became addictive really,” said Glenn.

Training consistently Glenn was proud to say he felt he was in the best shape of his life. Deciding to help coach at night, Glenn’s newly learned skills allowed him to progress to the qualifiers for the AVP at the end of the summer. “It was like a dream come true to be there with these phenomenal players.” said Glenn. “It was an amazing feeling to have progressed so much. I don’t think I would have found the community and the drive to practice so hard had my work schedule taken me out of town.” Feeling fortunate for this slow time, it’s allowed Glenn to cultivate other areas of his life and excel at one of his most favorite sports.

Finally able to start a life in the city, Glenn found his foundation in the supportive community of beach volleyball. Describing what he loves most about the sport Glenn laments the lifestyle change he hopes will last awhile. “When you’re at the beach you have this incredible connection with the world and nature. I noticed that I see the sunset a lot more, when before I’d be in an office missing it. I’m grateful for a lot of things and I probably don’t think about them enough. It’s easy to take things for granted.” A realization he’s able to come to with some extra time on his hands and miles and miles of sand to practice that killer jump serve.

In 2017 Glenn reported back to us that he now works for Facebook as a Creative Strategist and loves that they support a life outside of work. He has graduated to training with pro volleyball coaches in the early mornings and has found an amazing volleyball partner to up his game. Together this year they earned a AA rating with the California Beach Volleyball Association (which basically puts Glenn as a top 2 player). An amazing accomplishment, Glenn. Good for you for sticking to it.

Chris

Leaving at dusk everyday and consistently logging 80 hour work weeks, Chris provided for his family working a job in the financial world. Dreaming of early retirement Chris plotted and planned his exit from the grind. His wife Niki holds down the fort, cooking organic and playing chauffer to an ever busy Anna ,7 and Miller, 4. The stress of multi-million dollar deals and long hours tested Chris day after day but his cool and calculated attitude would never let on. A hard worker, to say the least Chris’s life changed in a moment one day when he received news that his company had been sold. Instead of being one of the casualties, Chris became one of the success stories. All the planning and hard work came to fruition that day, the moment when Chris was able to walk away and retire at 39 years old.

So what do you do when all of the sudden your calendar opens up for the first time in 20 years? Chris decided to try for another long time goal, complete an Ironman. “There’s no way he would have been able to train the way he has with a wife and two kids and a job. It just would not have been possible before” says Niki. “Plus we’ve been able to spend time training together, until he leaves me in the dust on the run.”

Taking the same calculated approach to preparing for the Ironman Chris did his research on nutrition, proper training regimes and the latest equipment to aid the journey. Training became his new ‘job.’ “I’ve loved the lifestyle and plan to keep that aspect of my life in tact. I’ve also realized that I’ll never really stop working. Now I just work for myself. It’s been a blessing.”

Chris participated in a few smaller races while training, a cheering and supportive family on the sidelines. Niki in charge of snacks, Anna handing the “Go Dad” signs and Miller capturing it all on film. As always, the whole family participated in helping dad reach another life long goal. This year Chris realized not one but two of his biggest goals. You could say he was one of the lucky ones. Some sit on the sidelines and wait for things to happen. Chris has never and will never be that type of person. So although luck did play a part in Chris’s life this last year, a lot of fortitude, guts and hard work did too.

In 2017 Chris reported back that as of this year he had completed three Ironman competitions and supported Niki in completing one too several years ago. She tells us it was the best year of her adult life, living the life of a fully supportive amateur athlete. Considering the percentage of people in the world who have completed an Ironman is .01%, I would say this couple is pretty amazing. Chris also learned how to race cars and competed in a European circuit for the last two years. He’s taking 2017 off to concentrate on raising teenagers. The kids are now 16 and 14. Someone’s gotta teach Anna how to drive.

About the currency project

The Currency Project challenges us all to see the beauty through the pain, the positive that can come from a negative and the heartbreak that can turn into a new beginning. Life is uncertain but our faith, hope and love can never be taken from us. Our true currency in life is what we make it.