Novels on the Nile.
Hi, I have a story to share with you. It might inspire you to come with us to peaceful, tranquil and outrageously beautiful Southern Egypt. We will write a staggering amount in 10 days, and experience a truly life-changing adventure. But I’m getting way ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning, yes?
First a little intro: I’m Mike, the creator of ilys.com. It’s a website for writers that helps train us into an easy flow state which allows our creativity to explode with quality and quantity. There are many shared reports of people increasing their written output by orders of magnitude with ilys. It works very nicely.
I’m also a full-time digital nomad. You might have heard this term before. It means that I have no fixed home base and I travel the world while working on my things through the internet. I’m a modern day hobo with laptops and many other things that plug into a wall. I can’t say I travel light, but I sure do travel… a lot. And it’s awesome — really really really REALLY awesome! I am always on adventure and in the process have the blessing of meeting amazing people on this journey. Right now I am sitting in Cafe Revolucion in Medellin, Colombia. Nice place, highly recommended. :)
Last year was full of many very memorable adventures. One of which was the very first ever Digital Nomad Trans-Atlantic Cruise from Gran Canaria, Spain to Salvador, Brazil. There were so many of us digital nomads on the ship. So many cool people from all over the world, exploring and pushing the boundaries of culture and the limits of what’s perceived as possible.
One of the wonderful nomads I met on that Trans-Atlantic crossing is Birgit Pestalozzi. Our first shared moments together were on the top rear deck of our ship, the Pullmantur Sovereign. Birgit was teaching yoga to a large group of us. I’ve been wanting to begin a yoga practice for a long while, so I joined the fun and learned to stand on my head :)
I remember… Thinking to myself, while standing on my head, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, gazing at the horizon of an exquisitely perfect day, as deep azure waters flirted with the bluest and cleanest sky perhaps I ever did see, dotted with majestic, playful fluffy clouds that all seemed upside down because I was standing on my head… I remember thinking “I’m in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, on a cruise ship filled with amazing and fun people, crossing to the other side of Our Mother Earth, practicing yoga, standing on my head. It’s a weekday. I must be dreaming. I must be aware inside my dream.”
I was. I was aware inside my dream, though I wasn’t sleeping. This was actually happening. My dream has again become real.
This whole dreams-coming-real thing happens more and more now. I find myself in these moments and situations where I know I dreamt them into being somewhere along the path. To some former sense of self, it seems unreal because I had no reference points for them. It was just a fantasy. But there it is, happening, really. Again and again.
This is one of the other most important things ilys continues to teach me. When I let go of the thinking and allow my thoughts to flow, my dreams flow with them. They become expansive and ask for things that might seem outrageous to that “normal” sense of self that isn’t in the flow-state. Like, having this experience on this cruise ship with these people in this moment.
I learn to allow myself to have visions and inspirations of a future I’d like to experience. Then those dreams just seem to materialize. It happens a lot and I’ve learned to rely on it. I always thank ilys for teaching me to let go and let flow, to express and allow, in writing and in life.
Although this Yoga class in the Atlantic was a great way to meet Birgit, we didn’t chat much after class. She went her way and I went mine. We would see each other from time to time and share some words, but had no idea of what would be unfolding in the coming months.
Ahh, again, I get ahead of myself… Let’s fill in the blanks for you.
It would take three books to describe what happened next, which I might write later. For now, I’ll share a snapshot:
- Landed in Salvador, Brazil and hung out for a while in an apartment by the beach programming software for a week.
- Went to Jericoacoara to join DNX Camp and had one of the best experiences of my entire life, I’m forever expanded. I started to learn to kitesurf there. This is another dream come true, as I’ve wanted this for over 10 years.
- Visited Fortaleza for a couple of weeks and stayed with beautiful friends I met in Jeri (THANK YOU!! ❤). Celebrated the most amazing Christmas ever with their large, happy family. You can’t plan this stuff.
- Returned to the United States to visit family.
- Went to San Francisco, California for professional training, lived in a sailboat in Alameda.
- Went to Washington State for some detox.
- Returned to San Francisco to housesit my friend’s house and take care of a beautiful God of a Dog.
- Went to Fairfield Iowa and hung out for a month.
- Drove to Minneapolis for more professional training with a Master Teacher I’ve been wanting to study with for many years.
- Back to San Francisco for more training.
- Somewhere along the line Nomad Cruise 2 springs up, this time from Colombia to Lisbon. I buy the ticket. They send a message saying they have nice suites with a balcony. I say YES. They send another message saying they have something called The Waves Club for people who got the nice suites with the balcony. Internet is included. I say YES.
- Return to see the family one more time.
- Fly to Colombia, San Andres Island. Have so much fun with digital nomad friends, we celebrate my birthday 1 full month ahead of schedule at fancy Restaurante La Regatta. I think they just wanted free ice-cream. They deny it.
- We go to Cartagena and I continue to work on my programming and manage to practice more kitesurfing. Turns out one of us cruising nomads has a kite school there :)
- We get on the ship, this time, the Pullmantur Monarch, and set a course to Lisbon.
So now we’re on the cruise ship again and the very first thing I did was sleep, and sleep, and sleep, and sleep. Travel is great fun, though it does get tiring. I’m not complaining and sleeping on a rocking ship in total darkness is one of the heavenliest sleeps I’ve ever known. It was good. Very good. After some rest, it was time to get to work. This is confusing to some people because on the surface it seems that a digital nomad is a tourist, traveling around the world and sight seeing. But many of us, including myself, are still fully at work, no matter where we are. Including on a ship. So refreshed, I shower, get dressed, packed my tools and go to the “office”. It’s called The Waves Yacht Club and it’s glorious.
Situated towards the rear and at the very top of the Monarch, the view from Waves is gorgeous. Imagine one large space with windows in every direction and nothing but ocean and sky as far as the eye can see. The “Office.”
I enter the club and start walking around, looking for where I’ll set up shop. It needs to be comfortable, have a plug for power and a large enough table to handle the things I bring with me. Circling the room, I spot a place and settle in, set up, plug in and get to work. Sometimes when I get focused on work, I can see nothing that is going on around me. All I know is what’s happening inside the computer and what I’m hearing through my headphones. For the next few days all I could do is keep flowing with my work. It was so easy. I got so much done in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
The Waves Club is a proper Yacht Club, without the Yachts. We were catered to in every way. It was total luxury. Everything we wanted, they brought to us with cheer and humor and joy. Sure, they didn’t go to the bathroom for us, but I have a feeling if we asked, they would try.
What I realized later is that because the staff at The Waves Club was so attentive and caring, I had nothing else to think or worry about and could just flow with my work. And I did, for hours and hours and hours, days at a time. Every once in a while I would raise my head and see friends around me having fun, playing games, chatting, interviewing each other, sharing, teaching and learning. It was a very excellent, fun, easy, productive and flow-filled environment.
Birgit was here too.
The wonderful people who staff The Waves Club made it possible for us to have this experience because they took care of everything. If I wanted more entertainment or distraction, we had the rest of the ship to play in. If I wanted to focus on work, it was all here for me to do that. Oh, and The Waves Club had special doors which opened to the outside where there are spacious beds to lounge in, feel the breeze of the fresh sea air and the warm sun on our skin. Always ready, The Waves Club staff shows up asking us if we want anything, bringing us everything. I started 2016 with an intention of having “More Yachts” in my life, however that occurs, and here it is again. I’m inside my dream in The Waves Yacht Club.
The time passed quickly and again, much too much happens to write about in this story, but of specific interest is this:
On our last day at sea, Birgit, our friend Natha and I are sitting in The Waves Club, eating delicious snacks and desserts and chatting about whatever was coming up. We were feeling so much inspiration from everything we’ve experienced on this voyage! Towards the end of the conversation we got to talking about ilys and I mention that I’d love to organize a writing adventure for ilys members during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November, in which we would finish the 50,000 words in less than 10 days, because I know we can. I’d want it to be just like The Waves Club, where everything was taken care of for the writers, so that there was absolutely nothing to handle except to simply relax and write using the ilys philosophy. We would be in flow, forward only, no editing, just pure writing and so much of it. We would practice yoga, meditate and go on excursions. I’d want it to happen in truly magical places around the planet. An exotic writing adventure!
I’ve never organized such an adventure, and I’ve been wanting to for some years. I’ve seen what ilys can do. I know what living into the philosophy of letting go and letting flow can create. I know we can write 50,000 words this quickly if the environment were excellent, and I know we can have amazing life affirming experiences through this. But, I’ve never actually lead one of these adventures and some part of me still held this dream as being just a far-distant dream, a fantasy, not something to realize.
Birgit calmly listens, pauses for a moment and simply says “You know… There’s a house on the banks of the Nile in Southern Egypt and I think this could be a great adventure for us to have there.”
I must have looked a bit dopey as I imagine my eyes opened up like giant saucers hearing this. She said it so effortlessly, like “Oh yeah, sure, your far distant and seemingly impossible dream, yeah, sure, we can do that, no worries, ok.”
It hasn’t fully dawned on me yet in that moment that we’d actually do this. We left the conversation and each other on the ship with the idea that we’ll feel it out and see what happens, if anything. I am super happy with just having that conversation, being able to share a dream with friends who heard me and didn’t say things like “you’re crazy” or “you’ll never have that.” Sometimes sharing dreams with others gets those responses too. But not here, not now. Everything was all love and green lights and “you can do it!” in every way.
Again our ship has docked to land and Birgit went her way and I went mine. I was elated by everything that unfolded and was in a very high state of bliss as my feet touched down in Lisbon, a beautiful city I wish I had more time to explore. Again, so much happened that should go in those 3 books I mentioned earlier that I can’t get into the details of at the moment, but I will summarize for you here:
- Found my hostel in Lisbon, showered, napped, met friends for dinner in a very cute and intimate restaurant. We laugh a lot, drink great wine, eat fantastic food. I notice and compliment the waitress on her playful tattoos. She blushes. The ladies get together for a picture and I step out of the frame to help keep it beautiful.
- Next day, another dream come true, I fly to Milan to go shopping and see the city. Stayed with a super-cool AirBnB host and have meaningful conversations about life, death, and things in between. Get caught in rain storms at Duomo and make videos. Lots of fun. Delicious figs and gelato.
- Visited my friend in Bologna, taking the speedy train to get there. He is an author who uses ilys, that’s how we met. It’s great to meet him in person and talk about his coming book being published. We had excellent pizza and a very fun walk around the city :)
- Returned to Milan and onto another dream come true. Flew to Athens, saw a friend and we chatted about possibly meeting up later because the same day I went on to:
- Lemnos Island for DNX/BetaHaus/CoPass Greece! Oh my God, this was intense and amazing. There were about 50 of us, from everywhere, on an island of so much natural beauty and fun. More and more and more friends, laughter, sharing, learning, growing, possibilities.
- Flew back to Athens, took a ferry to Mykonos to hang out with my friend in a room on the beach. We got into adventures, met very beautiful and playful souls, celebrated our birthdays.
- I continued to practice kitesurfing and am starting to become decent.
- I could stay in Mykonos forever, but I needed to get back to focusing on work, so I went to Montreal, got a flat to live in, a place to work in and got busy and focused.
- Beautiful city, lovely people, an excellent example of harmony and multicultural existence. Saw one of my favorite DJs and danced all night, practiced more kiteboarding. Had fun, got work done.
- Birgit wrote to me and says “LET’S DO THIS!” and I said “WHAT?!” and she said “LET’S GO!” and I said “WHAT?!” and she said… okay. We’re doing this.
As we started thinking through the details, she told me more and more about the “house”. Turns out it’s not just any old house. It’s the Fekra Cultural Center, a vortex for peace, creation, harmony, expansion and joy in beautiful Southern Egypt.
Birgit was telling me that the people at the center are very excited about facilitating this adventure for us. They would create for us in Egypt what The Waves Club created for us in the Atlantic. They will take care of everything for us, cater to our wants and needs so that we have nothing to think or worry about. All we have to do is enjoy our time and write, write, write. It’s the perfect environment for us to let our words flow freely.
I almost could not believe it. Could this be real? Again I felt that moment of standing on my head in the Atlantic, looking into the horizon wondering if I’m dreaming. After some days of talking about this with Birgit, I understand that really, actually, this IS happening. It’s real.
The Fekra Cultural Center is inviting us to have this experience in their space. We have the green lights, it is happening. Fekra hardly ever is available for booking a group like us, but this is a special occasion. We are invited!
I know that for many hundreds of thousands of people, writing a novel feels like a far distant dream, something that will never happen. Just like having this writing adventure was an impossible dream for me, along with so many others. One of the things ilys continues to teach me is to allow the dreams to unfold when they present themselves. Like Fekra, this dream is here and it is real. We are going to write 50,000 words in Egypt. We are going to make dreams real and turn them into delicious memories. These memories become foundations for our future lives, on which we can hang our other dreams knowing they too can come true.
This is all about glorious life, of dreams realized.
I could have never guessed though, that Birgit would resonate with this vision with such enthusiasm and grace! In just some moments, she put together the first version of the ilysBlast! website and was coordinating the details with the Fekra team. She was so far ahead of me with putting the details of this dream into motion that it took me some weeks to catch up. I’m still not sure that I’ve caught up, but here we are. It’s all happening!
I think Birgit is an Angel sent from the Cosmos. I find out later she’s a professional Love Doctor too.
WE ARE GOING TO SOUTHERN EGYPT!
WE WILL WRITE 50,000 WORDS!
YOU ARE INVITED!
- Be pampered and totally taken care of, with staff bringing us goodies day and night, cleaning the house and taking care of everything for us
- Have private chefs, making yummy, yummy food
- Visit and write in the Old Cataract Hotel, where Agatha Christy penned her masterpiece
- Visit the sacred Temple of the Goddess Isis
- Swim in the Nile
- Be guided in yoga and meditation every day
- Have mastermind sessions around our writing and life aspirations
- Envision, focus and write, write, write
- WRITE 50,000 WORDS IN SOUTHERN EGYPT BY THE NILE!
Bold plans, huh? 50,000 words in less than 10 days. How?
We are going to use ilys. We are going to practice just writing. We will not care about typos or anything else. We will keep our fingers moving and our words going forward. We will use intervals and write for 30 minute sessions. We will have breaks and chill out. We will meditate and practice yoga. No stress allowed. We will continue to write again and again. We will take some day-long breaks in between to rest, inspire and recharge for our next sessions. It will be intense, but easy and totally in flow. We will practice NOT CARING about what our thoughts are saying and let the words flow anyway.
We will live the ilys philosophy and just write!
Our schedule will look like this during writing days:
- Wake up at 7AM
- Yoga and meditation, set intention for the day
- Shower, dress, etc.
- Start writing at 10AM, in 30 minute intervals
- Snacks and drinks served during the day
- Break at 2 PM
- Continue writing at 2:30 PM
- Dinner at 6PM
- Evening activity at 8PM
- Sleep at 10PM
Our word count goals are:
- Day 1: 4000 words
- Day 2: 6000 words
- Day 3: 7000 words
- Day 4: Excursion day — Full Moon Ceremony
- Day 5: 8000 words
- Day 6: 9000 words
- Day 7: 4000 words at Old Cataract Hotel
- Day 8: Excursion Day
- Day 9: 7000 words
- Day 10: 5000 words — Completion Ceremony
My job will be to keep us focused on our writing when it is time to write. I will be like the person in the rowing team that sits in the back of the boat with a megaphone saying “row, row, row.” I will keep us moving together in the right direction and keep us focused on forward-only progress. Our only concern is keeping that word-count moving higher and higher, meeting our daily goals. Although I can’t personally guarantee that I can make you write 50,000 words, because of course you can just stop and that’s the end of that dream, I do personally guarantee that I will be and do everything I can to keep you moving in the right direction, with the best tools on the planet. If you follow along and keep moving, you will surely succeed. I will be writing with you also. And I will surely succeed :)
Birgit is going to focus on keeping us flowing in our body and soul. She will lead us through yoga and guide us as we move through the emotions of this intense journey together. Did I mention she’s a professional Love Doctor? She is! Birgit will also coordinate with the Fekra team to make sure we have everything we need for the smoothest, most luxurious ride towards our NaNoWriMo victory.
There’s just one thing…
“Oh I knew it, there’s always JUST ONE THING!”
Yeah, it’s true. Here it is:
This can only happen if we assemble 6 committed participants by October 8th. We need this lead time so that the people who staff the Fekra Center can start to prepare and organize for us. It’s a very special occasion and they want to be entirely ready for this.
Please accept my apologies for only being able to bring 6 people. Fekra has 6 rooms and we want to be sure everyone is as comfortable in their space as possible. We can’t have it be crowded. This is important for the people advancing through this intense program. Comfort and ease are essential for flow to occur. And this is ALL about flow occurring.
The price of this adventure is $2,190 USD paid directly to The Fekra Cultural Center. It does not include flights, but does include transit to and from the Aswan Airport. The money will be used to provide the best experience possible for our group and will further go on to support the local community. While you fulfill your dream, you help others to fulfill their dreams, like sending their children to school, opening a child & youth center, provide medical care and more.
Birgit and I are volunteering and will not be paid from the money going to Fekra. You are invited to give us a donation after the process is complete if you feel you want to. We would surely appreciate your kind gesture of gratitude.
So…. Are you in? Are YOU ready to realize your dream?
If you would like to join us, please click here to visit the ilysBlast! site for more pictures and information.
I am personally so excited to see this happening. It is the realization of a long-held dream of mine and I am so grateful to be able to share it with you.
Creator of ilys.com and Adventuring Hobo