The Freedom Life: July + August 2020

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It’s been quite a while since I’ve done the Freedom Life monthly recaps, but I decided it’s finally time to get back into it! That said, I may or may not have started writing this post with the intent of it just being a July monthly recap and then… got too busy to finish it. Story of my life…

So anyway, here’s what I was up to this summer living in Tbilisi, Georgia!

Georgia Military Highway

On the way to Kazbegi!

What I Was Up To This Summer

Over the last two months, I’ve been very busy! Firstly, Chris and I took a quick weekend trip to Kazbegi along the Georgia Military Highway!

In addition to that small trip, I attended a baby shower, prevented my cat from dying via surgery, rescued a NEW kitten, launched a new website with Chris, and more!

**For those of you who are concerned about me traveling during COVID-times, the Republic of Georgia handled the pandemic very well (we only had 17 deaths TOTAL) and things are really starting to open up. We did have a very strict mask protocol at the hotel though, and we specifically went to the countryside where we could explore with almost no people.

Where I Went in July

  • Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Mtskheta, Georgia
  • Pasanauri, Georgia
  • Kazbegi, Georgia
  • Sno, Georgia
  • Gudauri, Georgia
Rooms Hotel Kazbegi

Gergeti Trinity Church is lit up behind me!

Highlights

Here are the best moments from July and August!

A Quick Trip to Kazbegi

After being cooped up in a small apartment for months and months, Chris and I were so excited to finally get out and see a bit more of Georgia. Unfortunately for us, we only had about 2 months to enjoy Georgia before lockdown, so aside from a quick wine tasting day trip, we really hadn’t seen much of the country!

Now that things are (almost) back to normal here, we decided to head to Kazbegi in the mountains near the Russian border. The lack of tourism has been really hard for all of these beautiful mountain towns, so it was nice to be able to provide some business while enjoying the fresh (and chilly) mountain air.

We booked a heavily discounted room at Rooms Hotel Kazbegi, which is one of the nicest local hotel chains in Georgia. It was so nice to take a few days away, and enjoy the beautiful view of the mountains and Gergeti Trinity Church.

Honestly, I think Kazbegi is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to in my life.

Russia Georgia Friendship Monument

The Russia Georgia Friendship Monument!

Driving the Georgian Military Highway

Driving to and from Kazbegi was an adventure in and of itself! We hired an awesome driver named Timo from GoTrip.ge, who not only stopped at all the major sights along the Georgian Military Highway, he also suggested additional stops and activities for us!

On the way to Kazbegi, we had the opportunity to visit Mtskheta to see the beautiful Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in town and the Jvari Monastery which sits up on a hill giving you an incredible view of the entire town.

We also stopped at the famous Ananuri Fortress, Pasanauri for their amazing khinkali dumplings, Sakuriani to drink mineral water from a natural spring just off the highway, an area just off the highway with “sticky rocks” you could climb up without slipping despite the slight waterfall, and of course, the Russia-Georgia Friendship Monument, which we had completely to ourselves!

On the way back a few days later, we stopped at Sno to see the famous carved head sculptures of Georgian poets, and we even got to take an hour-long cable car through the mountains to Gudauri! We really thought the cable car would be closed considering no one was there, but they let us ride which was such a fun surprise! That said, it was super weird to ride a cable car for an hour and see NO ONE.

Honestly, the trip to and from Kazbegi is amazing, and I’ll have to write a blog post about it soon!

Baby shower fruit baby

Fruit Baby!

Attending my First Baby Shower

This July was my first experience attending a baby shower! Two of our friends are having a baby literally any day now, so it was very fun to be able to celebrate with them!

We played baby-themed trivia, ate tons of great food, and there was even a gender-reveal with cupcakes! I also loved being able to shop for a few cute baby things as a gift!

Chris and I Launched Multiple Nerdgasms

Over the last two months, Chris and I launched a brand new blog together: Multiple Nerdgasms! This is a site where we can talk about one of our other loves: Dungeons and Dragons. (Yes, we’re both giant nerds).

Chris has been DM’ing D&D games for 24 years (seriously), and I started playing a few years ago. While I used to play once every two weeks, during lockdown, I got involved in three different online D&D games!!

Chris and I thought it would be interesting to write about D&D from the perspective of both the player and the DM, as well as exploring both a male and female perspective. I’ve already written a few posts for the site, and set up social media accounts. I can’t wait to keep writing more!

Surprisingly, the very first post I wrote about gender equality and D&D actually got a lot of traction! People were sharing it on Twitter in women’s D&D groups, and many people reached out to me with their own stories of sexism in D&D. I even inspired a few men I know to create strong female characters.

rescue kitten

it’s hard to get a good picture of him

I Rescued a Kitten

So at the end of August (aka last week), I may or may not have rescued ANOTHER cat. After coming home from a nice dinner out, Chris and I stepped out of the taxi and were immediately accosted by a 2-month-old kitten who wouldn’t stop meowing at us.

He looked fairly healthy, so we thought that there was a possibility he belonged to someone in the area, especially considering the fact that he kept running up to people, looking for help/food.

We were originally going to leave him because we didn’t want to take someone’s cat, and even if he was a stray, Georgia has a ton of street cats and kittens that do very well. We even waited for a solid 40-minutes just to see if we could find a mother or owner, but no one came for him.

But on the way home, this little kitten decided to follow us, almost getting hit by two different cars in the process! Worried that he wasn’t going to survive on his own outside, we decided to take him home until we could figure out where he belongs.

After a visit to the vet the next day, we learned that he is definitely a street kitten, but doesn’t have great street-smarts and was relying on people for food and attention. Now he’s happily at home with us and is probably the most loving kitten I’ve ever met in my life. So… welcome to the family?

cat surgery

Yasmina relaxing after her surgery

Challenges

This summer wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Here’s what didn’t go so well…

My Cat Almost Died

If you didn’t already know, I’ve been fostering a cat named Yasmina for a few months now. She’s also a street rescue and has a ton of medical problems. At the beginning of the summer, Yasmina started to go really downhill. She was having a lot of trouble pooping, barely ate, slept constantly, and appeared to be in immense pain.

I kept taking her to the vet, who gave her IV treatments and lots of medicine, but she wasn’t getting any better. We even gave her an enema to try and clear out her bowels! (She hated it).

While my vet seemed great (and refused to take any money for any of these treatments?!!), she also didn’t speak English very well and couldn’t really take the time to fully explain to me what was wrong with Yasmina. I kept offering to pay her (seriously, she’s a saint), hoping she would give me more time, but even the paying clients were extremely rushed in this very busy clinic. I started feeling like it might be worth my time to go to a different vet that comes highly recommended from other expats in Tbilisi.

So after not hearing back from the original vet for a few days, and getting very worried about Yasmina not making it, I had Chris take her into the Veterinary Clinic at Georgia Agriculture University. Apparently, Yasmina is 8-10 years old NOT 2-3 like a vet originally told the girl who rescued her, and her biggest problem is not her kidneys, but the fact that she had a solid kilo of poop stuck in her intestine! She needed to undergo emergency surgery IMMEDIATELY and there was only a 50-50 shot she’d make it due to her age and medical problems.

On hearing this, I contacted the company I work for remotely and asked to have my remaining shift covered while I raced to get to the hospital to be there for her surgery. The entire surgery I was so nervous I felt sick! But thankfully she’s such a strong girl, she came out of surgery just fine, and has completely recovered!

I had to give her a lot of medicine, and take her in for IVs every day (and this vet clinic is NOT nearby my house…). I also have to feed her Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Wet food in 4 small servings a day which is not cheap.. but it’s a small price to pay for my fluffy baby!

As of now, Yasmina is a completely different cat. She’s constantly playing with toys, and went from barely ever making a sound to becoming an extremely talkative little lady. A little too talkative to be honest… 

Pasanauri Khinkali

At least I have khinkali

My Course Launch Didn’t Go As Planned

As many of you know, I have an online course and coaching program called Teach Abroad Squad that helps people to be successful teaching abroad in China!

Understandably, this year has not been great for my business. With the Chinese borders closed and no end to COVID in sight, it’s been a tough year for me.

That said, I did have a very successful launch of my program in April! I had my highest grossing launch yet, and had a bunch of really awesome people join the program. I’ve been working with a business coach who has really helped me through the entire thing (from positioning for the pandemic to dealing with my many mindset issues about selling during this time).

So after that successful launch in April, I decided to do another one in July! I made the free webinar training even longer and better, and had just as many people sign up as I did in April. However, no one joined the program, despite many people seeming interested.

Honestly, this is not really something I wanted to be open about, because I felt really ashamed of the results. I have this fear that if I talk about the struggles I’ve had with my program this year, people will think Teach Abroad Squad isn’t a success and they won’t want to join.

But deep down, I know Teach Abroad Squad is an incredible course, and I have full confidence in it. It’s really just the current situation that’s made things very hard.

Back in April, people still had a lot of hope that the borders would be open by now. So investing in Teach Abroad Squad was a no-brainer! But now with the pandemic raging in many countries like the US with no end in sight, I have the feeling that many people are choosing to hold off until things become more stable.

That said, it doesn’t make my July launch any less disappointing! I put a ton of time and work into promoting Teach Abroad Squad, and sometimes it’s hard not to equate your business to your own self-worth. It’s definitely something I’m working on!

This failed launch has definitely given me the time and perspective to look at potentially creating a second program I’m really proud of, with a different topic that’s more relevant right now.

While I still love and fully support Teach Abroad Squad (I mean, we do live Q&A’s weekly and monthly Zoom Coaching Calls!), it might make the most sense for me to stop pushing it for the moment and focus some energy on a new topic. Now, just to figure out what that topic will be…

For those of you who are interested in Teach Abroad Squad, I’ve decided to put a hold on webinars and big promotions for now. So if you want to join, I’m leaving the cart wide open for you! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions! 

Rooms Hotel Kazbegi

Drinking cocktails with social distancing in Kazbegi

Work Overload: Course Launch, Freelancing, and Interviewing!

Most of July and parts of August were EXTREMELY stressful for me. Earlier in the summer, I started a new part-time job interviewing Chinese students for their college admissions applications, which has been a great source of extra income, but also takes up a lot of the time I used to use to work on my blog and Teach Abroad Squad.

I also have a position working as a social media manager for my business coach Merilyn! Yes, I joined her Lead Your World program, and then she ended up hiring me a few months later to do Social Media! (I help run her Facebook Page and Facebook Group!)

Trying to do these two jobs, and run a launch for Teach Abroad Squad, while also running my cat to the vet 30 minutes outside of town DAILY… is a giant recipe for burnout.

I ended up having major pain in my jaw that’s only just now calming down. But wow, I really overloaded myself these last two months… hence, why this blog post never got published and it’s a 2-month recap!

Georgian breakfast

Georgian bread and cheese on the balcony for brunch!

Major Payment Plan Issues

To make financial matters worse, I had a few people in my program ask me to postpone their payment plan payments by a month due to financial issues. While I wouldn’t normally allow this, I know COVID has been super rough for everyone, so I allowed the payments to be pushed back by a month and followed the instructions from MemberPress to put their payment plans on pause.

IT WAS A DISASTER.

Not only did the system charge them anyway, but it also created a second subscription for them when I turned their access back on, meaning it charged them TWICE the next month. WTF!

Unfortunately for me, MemberPress only does tech support via email (seriously! It’s a paid service!), and my tech support person literally had no idea what I did wrong when I sent them screenshots of my system. They eventually had to get more advanced tech support in the backend of my website to try and fix the problem. It was a complete nightmare and I’m still mad.

Cats

Look at them not killing each other!

Trying to Introduce My New Kitten

While I’ve loved having my new kitten Mordie, my older cat Yasmina has NOT been happy. We’ve had to keep Mordie in the bathroom while Yasmina gets accustomed to him, and then we bring him into the bedroom to hang out for large chunks during the day and evening.

I know this is normal, but we have a very small apartment, and keeping them separate has been hard!

Not to mention, Yasmina was pissed at ME for bringing him home. She’d even smell his scent on my hand and growl at me. One day Mordie escaped into the living room and she was so mad she slapped me in the face! She also completely refused to come in the bedroom because it smelled like him, and hissed at me the one time I brought her in there.

Finally, after a week she’s starting to come around. They even napped next to each other on the bed today and she only hissed at him if he tried to come within a foot of her. Baby steps!

Georgian salad

Here’s a Georgian tomato and cucumber salad with walnut paste

The USA is a Giant Mess

I could write an entire post on this, but this summer has really showcased that the US has some big problems they need to fix. Firstly the way we’ve handled the pandemic is absolutely ridiculous (and this is coming from someone who lives in a country that locked down hard and only had 17 deaths nationally). Then on top of this, the police brutality and reactions towards the BLM movement is horrifying.

While I’m glad I’m in Georgia right now, there is definitely a part of me that wishes I was in the US so I could participate in the BLM protests to demand racial equality, police accountability, and justice for the many victims of police violence and racism.

I’ve been trying to do my part to help, and have the difficult conversations with the few people in my newsfeed (and on my Adventures Around Asia page!!) who just DON’T get it. While I would typically just block these people for my sanity, I’ve realized that this isn’t productive. But wow, is it EXHAUSTING to talk with people who refuse to recognize their own biases, and will literally never change their minds.

But every time I feel like I just want to walk away, I remember that many people don’t have the privilege to do so. I think many of us have felt exhausted, hurt, and angry these last few months, and I really hope the protests (and upcoming election) create some positive change for our country.

Tbilisi

Hello Tbilisi!

Blog Posts I’ve Written Lately

Here are the blog posts I wrote and guest posts I published on Adventures Around Asia since my last major life update/recap!

I’ve also written two blog posts for Multiple Nerdgasms!

Teva Ysidro

Travel Product of the Month

This month I want to give a shoutout to my amazing Teva W Ysidro Sandals that have gotten me through the summer. Not only are these things super cute and go with pretty much every outfit, but they’re also SO comfortable and supportive. They even have extra cushioning on the ball and heel of the shoe!

I had a pair a few years ago that I literally wore to death, which is why I was so excited to get these for Christmas! Now that the weather is warm I can finally wear them.

Georgia restaurant summer

This cat tried to eat our food for the entire meal.

What I’m Reading Now: Wisdom of the Enneagram

If you didn’t know, I’m more than a little obsessed with the Enneagram, a personality categorization and self-help tool. The Wisdom of the Enneagram is considered by many to be the “Enneagram Bible” and the book that you really need to read if you want to learn the Enneagram in-depth.

While I’ve owned Wisdom of the Enneagram for quite a while now and had read through most of it, I decided to start reading through from the beginning again now that I have a better understanding of the Enneagram. I’m also taking notes and highlighting important info!

I honestly feel like I’m back in college again and I don’t even mind. It’s always fun to learn something new!

Best Instagram Post

I took this one from the balcony door of my room at Rooms Hotel Kazbegi! Man, the view here is so amazing…

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Richelle (@adventuresaroundasia) on

What I’m Up to in September

To be honest, I don’t have any big plans for September, but there are a few things that I want you all to keep me accountable on!

Firstly, I plan to start writing a blog post EVERY WEEK on Adventures Around Asia. I know, right? I’ve been so horrible about writing since the pandemic started because I just haven’t felt the passion for travel right now (and neither does anyone else…).

My plan is to write every week about something I’m passionate about, whether or not it has anything to do with travel. To be honest, most of what I’ll say will at least be tangentially related to my life traveling and living abroad (because that’s my life!), but I’m not pressuring myself to write travel articles and teach abroad posts right now when I just really don’t feel inspired.

I hope you all enjoy my passion-led blog posts this autumn and keep me accountable if I haven’t posted anything in over a week!!

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