Yosemite National Park at sunrise. Image by Arkadiy Birger

Yosemite National Park at sunrise. Image by Arkadiy Birger

It’s 7 AM here in New York and I’ve been up for two hours already. The weather is amazing this morning — perfectly clear skies, 72 degrees (22 Celsius for my non-American friends), and clean, fresh breeze after hot and rainy yesterday.
There aren’t many things that I enjoy more than getting up really early and just having a slow, quiet, thoughtful morning. I’ve been up for over 2 hours now and loving it (especially since I don’t have to go to work).

It’s easy to do morning routine when you are not in a hurry and got up early enough so that the day doesn’t start for few hours. I normally meditate (currently using the wonderfulHeadspace app’s 10-day “silence” track) for 20 minutes, then fill out my 5 Minute Journaland then simply read or listen to podcasts in bed for another 20-30 minutes or more.

Lately I haven’t been able to truly tune-in during my meditation, as my mind keeps racing, clinging to various distractions, ideas and feelings, but I simply let it do what it wants to, while gently catching myself when I drift away and trying to re-center using my breath. I can definitely feel the benefit of daily meditation and would like to add the evening session as well, to clear my mind and prep it before going to bed, but have been struggling to make it a regular thing.

It can be tough to fill out the “I am grateful for” section of the 5 Minute Journal, first thing in the morning, and sometimes I am irritated about it, but lately I have been doing the journal right after meditation, and it is much easier and feels more congruent to me. If anything, if I am stumped, I can always be grateful for the practice of meditation and silence, and space in my morning. After having done the journal every day for 3 months, however, it’s become much easier to do. I can’t wait for the Self Journal to come out, though, as I feel like I want more than just 5-minute gratitude journal in my routine.

So having done meditation, a bit of journaling and reading I will get on with the rest of my day. Even if the rest of the day is not going to turn out well, I can rest peacefully, knowing that no matter what, because of what I’ve done in the morning, it is already a day well lived.

I know that I haven’t written in a while, being busy traveling and reading, but I wanted to shoot this quick update out, to break the silence and remind you that I exist, especially since I am going yet on another trip, this time only a week long though (insert sad face here).

Today, I am flying to California and thanks to Virgin Atlantic’s boatload of free miles, it’s costing me $11 in taxes for the round trip flight in the Virgin America’s Premium cabin. If you are interested to learn more about taking advantage of the airlines mileage programs and traveling more (and for way less), just shoot me an email and I would love to share my experience flying for close to nothing all over the world.

So back to Cali. The main purpose of the weeklong trip is to attend a 3-day Enneagram workshop by Ben Saltzman to learn more about my personality and how it affects all areas of my life, but specifically the business, financial and career aspects. I am very excited to learn more and gain a better perspective into the whole enneagram thing, as I found it to be extremely applicable. I will take copious notes and promise to share them with you later, but only if you are interested and will ask me for it.

However, what kind of adventure traveler would I be if I didn’t combine work with pleasure, so I am starting the trip with 2 days of hiking in the amazingly beautiful Yosemite National Park. Nothing crazy, just 2 days of day hikes, going up the high sierra from the valley floor. I know that we have the Yosemite Falls hike planned for one day, and will probably add an easier, less vertically challenging hike for the second day, somewhere in the alpine meadows, high up in the Sierras.

Yosemite Falls, we would have to hike up almost 3000 feet to get to the top. Image by Arkadiy Birger.

I am very excited about camping right in the Yosemite Valley though, for at least one night, on the bank of the Merced river, among the ancient trees, sheer granite walls and roaming brown bears.


Merced River snaking through the Yosemite Valley. Image by Arkadiy Birger.


This picture is from July 2005. I haven’t been to Cali in exactly 10 years, so this will be a total treat. Image by Arkadiy Birger.

And now, I am off to finish my packing.

Quick Collection of Stuff I am Into this week:

Book I am reading “Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.”. I have been trying to get through this monster for close to two years now. It’s a fascinating (at times) read and Ron Chernow never disappoints, but at times it just gets tedious and I’ve been losing interest quite often. When reading biographies, I am usually most interested in the earliest, formative years and my interest wanes shortly after the first major “break through”. So now I am 450 pages in (out of 678) and it gets rather tedious trying to unravel all the legal proceedings against the Senior. I am hoping it picks up the pace though. The book is a must read for anyone interested in the American capitalism, history and understanding one of the more interesting and formative people in the history of America. Additionally, visiting the Kykuit estate and dozens of sites in New York are that much more interesting, knowing the man (and dynasty) behind it all.
Movie I watched TT3D Closer to the Edge”Isle of Man Tourist Trophy race is considered to be the most dangerous race on earth, with fatalities every year. Between 1907 and 2015 there have been 246 rider competitor fatalities during the official practices or races. That’s alot. What else to expect when the riders are flying through the streets at average 135 miles per hour with maximum speeds approaching 200 mph, without any run offs and normal safety precautions of a regular race course. Just watch the movie to not only appreciate the beauty of the human skills and spirit but also to understand better why men (and women) still do the race, despite all the costs and dangers. Attending (not competing) the IMTT is a definite bucket list item for me for sure!
I am mesmerized byAir: Gotham 7.5k. A Rare High Altitude Night Flight Above NYC“. NYC is hard to ignore. You can hate it (which means you probably love it deep inside), but you can’t ignore it. I am simply astonished by the expanse and complexity of this monster, as seen through a very high quality lens taken high enough that it’s above the regular airline traffic. I’ve seen NYC at night from an airplane, but these pictures are simply out of this world
Struggling with “Beating the Unbeatable” — a great article by Dr. Peter Reznik on our internal “Debater”. I found it very similar to a concept in the book “Taming Your Gremlin“, the idea being that we have an internal debater/gremlin/critic/hater that gets in the way of us thriving. But with proper attention (being present and not getting carried away), visualizations and perseverance we can learn to control our mind’s inner voice of negativity. I especially liked Peter’s simple visualization exercise on how to pattern-interrupt the inner voice by giving it a name and then visualize flushing it down into the earth. Now I just have to do it on regular (dozens times a day) basis.

Thanks for reading,


P.S. As always, if you need any help, just let me know and I would love to be able to help you in any way I can.

P.S.S. I’ve started posting the previous issue(s) of this email on my personal website. You can see the archive here