About Us: Extended
Brace yourself. It’s going to be a long one.
The “About Us“ section has definitely been the hardest to write. But, I think it’s about time to update it. When we first started out, I wanted it to be less about us and more about what we were saying. So, we kept the biography to a minimum.
Writing about myself has always been the most difficult part. Crazy thing for someone who has a blog, huh? Probably.
Truth is, I’ve always been a very private person. People in my life would always question and pry to get me to open up and then complained when their multiple attempts fell short of their expectations.
I guess in a world where you know what your old little league teammate had for breakfast or that your former coworker’s Grande Burrito didn’t agree with her, it’s hard to imagine for some why few of us would prefer not to share our entire life story.
The Meeting That Changed Everything
I’m sure there are more than a few reasons why I was that way, though being an only child to two busy parents might’ve been a big one. At a young age, I would be my own best friend and would have to deal with most things myself.
It was just unnatural of me to need to share.
But, then Boris came into the picture.
He opened me up in a way that even I don’t recognize. With much patience and understanding, he allowed me to become the person I have always wanted to be and the person I always knew I was before I watered myself down to fit other’s expectations.
And then this blog came about. But, we’ll get to more on that later.
Why Blogging is Like Skydiving
When I was growing up, I feared rollercoasters and rides of all sorts. I tried to overcome my fear by going to Six Flags and getting on a rollercoaster. It was just a small one to start. If you’ve been and I say the name, you would probably laugh.
Okay… it was Skull Mountain.
As we soared through the twists and turns of the terrifying ride, I would scream and yelp at the intervals in which I wasn’t gasping for air. As we pulled to a stop, my eyes filled up with tears.
“Wow, that was lame!”
“I know! Not scary at all!”
I overheard two young boys converse about their disappointment with the ride. They were about seven. Yet, here I was, in my mid-20s crying like a punk.
Needless to say, the rest of the day was spent throwing darts at balloons and shooting guns filled with water to make ponies race. All in hopes of winning a giraffe or an octopus wearing a funny hat.
The next year, it was obvious what I needed to do. I went skydiving.
Blogging is my skydiving.
Boris, on the other end, was open from the moment I met him.
I think that’s what drew me to him the most. I’ve never met someone so comfortable in their own skin and so unapologetic about who they were. It was hypnotizing.
That along with a million other qualities and ultimately fate, led us here.
The Five W’s
When I sat down to write this and asked for Boris’ input on what to write in the “About Us” section, he answered nonchalantly: “About us”.
So, that’s what I’ll do.
All throughout school we were taught that the best way to get to know something or someone is to ask the 5 W’s:
The Who, Where, When, What, and most importantly the Why.
Therefore, in an effort to let you all know a little more about us, which I’ve learned is just as important as our thoughts and our journey, here are our 5 W’s:
Hello again! Just kidding… lol.
We’re Aleks and Boris.
Aleks is short for Aleksandra. It’s spelled that way because it was translated from Russian when we immigrated here.
There is no “x” sound in the Cyrillic alphabet so that’s where “ks” comes in.
Didn’t think I’d get so detailed right?
Remember my sky diving analogy?
Go big or go home.
Fun fact: we were both born in Moldova! It’s a small landlocked country that’s nestled in between Romania and Ukraine.
It’s a gorgeous wine country full of forests, rolling hills and grape vines at every turn.
Unfortunately, it was never able to recover after the break up of the USSR and remains the poorest county in Europe. While we were living there, it was still the Soviet Union, but collapsed right before we left. Which is why we were able to leave.
We immigrated as political refugees and were very blessed to get out in the short window that was availed to us.
Boris was born in a small village. It had unpaved roads, fruit trees for the picking, and animals roaming freely. He moved to Brooklyn when he was 9.
I was born in the capital. I was born and raised in apartment buildings and didn’t have a house until we moved to New Jersey in the 6th grade.
At the time, it was a huge deal, as we were the first in our entire family to have one. Which drives home even more the idea of why what we’re doing is so unfathomable to our families.
I immigrated to Brooklyn when I was 5.
We immigrated less than a year apart from each other. Even crazier is when we moved, we both moved in with our respective aunts and uncles where we lived until our parents were able to get on their feet.
Another fun fact is that those respective aunts and uncles moved not from Moldova, but from the same small town in Ukraine. And lived on the same street! All these coincidences are mind-blowing to us even now.
Growing up, I never had any desire or interest to marry someone Russian.
Moldovan was completely off the books in my mind since up until I met Boris, I haven’t encountered anyone from there outside of my immediate family.
I always considered myself more a child of the world than any particular region. As my dating history and parents would let you know, meeting and marrying a Moldovan was no where near anyone’s radar.
Same thing went for Boris.
So, when we met and connected in the summer of 2014, it was certainly a shock to everyone, especially us.
The funniest thing is that our culture is one of the least things we connected on. There was so much deeper bonding there, that even we couldn’t believe what hit us.
I guess that’s why after 2 dates we were exclusive, after 7 months we were engaged, and then 2 months after that we were married.
We didn’t want to waste time with the formalities, we really just wanted to be married. So on 5-10-15 (yes I’m a nerd and it’s a planned palindrome), we did it!
We had a small wedding in my parents’ backyard, the same house that I grew up in. We only wanted our family there, which combined is a total of 25 people.
We simply wanted to enjoy the day with each other and take in every second.
We didn’t want any crafty invitations, expensive and extensive photography, or anything that didn’t feel like us.
We just wanted great food, drinks flowing, and most importantly to get married!
We did things backwards and had people eat and drink first. Then, at sunset, we had a beautiful and quick ceremony under the lit up wedding arch that my mom ordered on Amazon and decorated.
I walked down an aisle lined with lights (from Amazon) and flowers from the garden.
I wore a flower crown my mom made with lilies of the valley she trimmed out back earlier that morning.
Which is another reason we chose May.
My mom making me flower crowns was one of the vibrant memories I have from my childhood. And, it’s our favorite flower.
So, May was when they were in bloom.
Thankfully, it wasn’t too long after we decided to get married.
We didn’t want any strangers there, so my mom got ordained online and officiated.
Family members were responsible for capturing moments and we just knew that’d we get at least one good picture.
Luckily, we got that and more.
We didn’t write vows or prepare anything, we just spoke from the heart. Everything was perfectly imperfect, and it was perfectly us.
And it has been nothing short of an adventure ever since.
Shortly after meeting, I passed my bar exam and got admitted as a NJ attorney. I was working at a large corporation in the NY metro area and was hating life.
Everyday I was thinking that there had to be more than this.
I would wake up at 5am, drive two hours through maddening traffic and chaos, only to sit and slave away for people who would replace me and not even remember my name.
I would crawl home and rest my eyes from the large screens they have been glued to all day, and would fall asleep hours before I would plan to.
At the time, Boris was working from home. Luckily, thanks to him, I was able to stay sane and fed from his overwhelming support and incredible cooking.
Everyday I would wonder and think that there has to be more than this. This couldn’t be what I went to school for? This isn’t why I’m 100k in debt for, is it?
I was miserable.
However, admitting I was miserable was the first and most important step that spiraled into me writing to you right now.
After many talks, walks, silences, and naps, we still weren’t sure exactly what we needed to do. What we did know was that we had to get out of our surroundings.
No one understood us or our crave for a more fulfilled life. You go to school, you work, you get married, buy a house, have babies, you vacation and then you die.
But, we wanted more than that.
We needed more than that.
So, What Did We Do?
We moved to Savannah, Georgia: the land of opportunities.
Well… not really. Which made it even more impossible to explain why the hell we were moving there.
Boris was living in Brooklyn when we met.
He was a bona fide city boy.
Even though, at heart, he was really a country boy. I just guess no one expected he would be that country.
And here I was, just spent the last 3-4 years of my life dedicated to the law, finally got a good paying job, and I was throwing it all away, for a place we had spent a total of two days!
Everyone thought we were certifiably insane. Come to think of it, they still do.
We arrived in Savannah with no understanding of what our experiences would be like.
Small Town Living
Thankfully, we both found a job within a month of moving, but even that was an adjustment. As much as I was trying to get my mind away from the law, once again, I found myself at a law firm.
Except this time it was completely different.
When I walked into my interview, I was in awe at where I was. Everything looked and felt so homey. There was such a small town feel in this firm, it was miles away both literally and figuratively from what I was used to.
Boris was even luckier. He found a place within walking distance from our apartment! We both loved the people we worked with and made quick friends.
We were loving the time away from the crowded streets, the incessant honking and obscenities, and the continuous chatter. It was such a great opportunity for us to really focus on ourselves individually as well as strengthen and grow as a couple.
We also calmed down a lot and finally embraced that small town mentality.
When Life Comes Full Circle
I remember when we first moved in and people would keep greeting us and saying their hellos. We would look at them cock-eyed and wonder “what the hell is their problem?”.
In New York, the only people who greet you on the street are those looking for money, looking to kill you, or just plain old being creepy.
Then, as our final days of living there approached, we saw a couple moving in.
At this point, it had become customary for us to wave and greet everyone: the neighbor, the postman, the driver on the freeway (wow, that’s how you know I’ve been out of the Tri-State for so long, that I just used the term freeway).
Anyways, so of course, we both waved and said our hellos to our new neighbors. Well, what we got in return is a funny example of things coming full circle.
They first looked confused, then offended, then continued facing down walking into the entrance way. We both looked at each other with the “what the” face, and then quickly just laughed as we remembered how that was us not even a year ago.
The world definitely would be a better place if everyone had that small town mentality and greeted and treated each other like humans instead of invisible floating objects.
But, I understand that it’s not that easy.
With the comparison of populations and how many times you’d have to say hello, answer how you are, smile, wave, and then repeat over and over and over, it would make even the deepest-down-south-hospitality-driven-Georgian go nuts.
So, I get it. But, it’s a nice thought.
I got side-tracked.
But, that’s typical, so either run now or grab a seat and stay awhile.
So what are we doing?
Well, as we were working our new jobs with people who became a home away from home, we still didn’t feel right.
We finally had to sit down and have a hard discussion about what it was that we wanted out of life.
We asked ourselves and each other: if we could do anything, if we could do something that would make us happy, fulfilled, and excited, what would it be?
It Was Simple: We Wanted to Make a Difference
We wanted to change people’s lives and continue to grow as well.
We wanted to take what we thought were our best skills and attributes and put them to use in a way that we could never do in an office environment.
We knew we had potential and ideas past the red tape and regulations at a structured business.
And, we knew that, ultimately, we wanted to work for ourselves.
Even at that point, before we had decided to sell our possessions and embark on a life on the road, we knew we had unlocked something that allowed us to take those leaps.
The First Step to Living Freely
In our minds, we were already doing something courageous by silencing our loved ones’ opinions and taking our lives back into our own hands.
Boris and I talk for days, sharing stories and opinions, facts and fictions.
We don’t find any topic off limits and delve deep into our thoughts with each discussion. Best of all, we debate between each other and are consistently, but respectfully, challenging each other’s stances and words.
Then Teach a Man to Think was born.
We were thinking of names for the website, and were toying with many options. Then, one day, in the bathroom at work (because isn’t that where all great ideas are formed?), I was thinking of meaningful proverbs.
One of my favorites has always been “teach a man to fish…” because of what it stood for.
It was exactly what we wanted to embody: people taking the power into their own hands and not relying on others for their happiness or fulfillment.
We are all in charge of our own destiny. Yes, it’s cliché, but it’s true. Clichés are clichés for a reason.
Most of the time when I have a profound thought or revelation, it usually aligns with a cliché. Like “everything happens for a reason”.
Which leads me to my next point.
When It All Came Together
I googled “teach a man to fish”. And, it was taken. It was an organization in Africa which supports education to children.
So, I had to keep thinking. I wanted something more original and really, more powerful.
So, I kept thinking. And then, that was it. Think.
There we had it: our website name and our purpose.
It was right around the time that we were getting ready to leave for our belated honeymoon road trip which also happened to fall on our first anniversary. We knew that this would be the ideal time for us to expand more on our goal and enlighten ourselves further.
We had the idea, but we wanted more. We wanted to completely embrace what we stood for before we could even attempt to inspire others. So, off we went.
And, we were right.
The Honeymoon That Made All the Difference
It only took a few days from us coming home for the changes to unravel and our mind to unfold as it has.
Which led us here.
It wasn’t until a few months ago though, that we felt we were finally ready.
This site is just as much for us as it is for you.
It was the catalyst that allowed us to open our minds as it has. And, it continues to do so.
That’s why we’re here sharing our stories, our funny experiences, our perspectives and our challenges to continue to evolve and grow internally while hoping to inspire some fellow souls along the way.
We all underestimate the power of our thoughts and just how much we could control if we approached them in the right way.
The key to gaining control is to lose control and not fight the process.
We need to search deep inside to understand that we have all the answers and only we know what’s best for our happiness. We have all been off course or gotten lost on our path, but we can get back on if we try.
Creating individual change is the best way to ignite global change. And together, we can all change the world.