“When you have that good energy, when you're truly happy and fulfilled, you attract more good energy not only into your own life but into the lives of the people around you too.”
What would you do if you had no responsibilities? If you could get rid of your job, all of your bills, and not have to answer to anyone—how would you spend your days?
My friend and filmmaker, Nick Conedera (director of The Miracle Morning Movie) decided to answer that question for himself. He burned his possessions (literally), got rid of everything he owned, and spent three (3) years living in a van and traveling around the country.
He tells the story of his journey in his brand new book, 70MPH: Grab the Wheel and Haul Ass to Your Dreams. I highly recommend picking up a copy. Nick is one of the best storytellers I know, and you won’t be disappointed!
- Why Nick decided to take a departure from his “normal life,” get rid of his belongings, and hit the open road.
- The personal challenges that come with living in a van—and why we as humans are more than capable of adapting to them.
- How living in a van helped Nick bring his existence into alignment with his values, find harmony with nature, and feel happier.
- Why you don’t need to burn everything you own and move into a van to live in alignment with your values—and how to tell if it’s time to take a journey of your own.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
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COMMENT QUESTION: What is your big takeaway? Write it in the comments below.
Hal Elrod: Hello and welcome to the Achieve Your Goals Podcast. This is your host, Hal Elrod, and thank you so much for being here today. I love you. I appreciate you. If you're a regular listener to the podcast, you know that and if you're not, you might be weirded out. You're like, “Whoa, dude, you love me? We just met. Slow down. Slow down.” Hey, today, you're going to get to hear a conversation that I just had. I just wrapped up with my good friend, Nick Conedera. And Nick Conedera, if you don't know, he is the producer, I'm sorry, the director of the Miracle Morning documentary and we've been friends for over a decade and he has a new book out, his first book called 70MPH: Grab the Wheel and Haul Ass to Your Dreams. And today you're going to hear his journey, his story. It's very inspiring. Nick is a very wise person. He's very articulate, and whenever I talk to him, he always shares observations, insights, perspectives that really opened my thinking up and expanded my thinking. In a way, I think today you're going to get that from Nick as well. I know I did. I told him at the end when we stopped, I said, and I should've said this actually on the podcast, so I'll say it now. But once we started recording, I said, “Nick,” I said, “One of your gifts is your ability to see things that other people don't see and then articulate them in a way that helps all of us to think differently and think better.” Anyway, I shared that with him after the episode, so I thought I would throw that in so that you are aware that that's what you're going to get today because I was inspired by Nick.
And he went on this journey, by the way, I'll just give you a quick synopsis. He went from this successful career driving a nice sports car, living in a fancy apartment, basically living the dream. He had his own business, the whole team working for him. He’s a filmmaker and he decided that he wanted to get in touch with his values, the core values of freedom and adventure. So, he literally burned all of his possessions. He burned his trophies and his high school yearbooks. I mean, he burned, I won't say all, but most of his possessions, got rid of everything, got rid of his apartment, sold his car, bought a van, built it out and he went and lived in a van. He built it out so it was like a little motor home, kind of, but he built it by scratch. He just bought parts and made a little sink and a refrigerator and a bed. And all of this, he built it by himself. And he lived in a van for three years and it's an incredible story. And he wrote a book about it, 70MPH: Grab the Wheel and Haul Ass to Your Dreams, which came out yesterday. So, I highly recommend that you get the book, but I'd imagine that you want to hear today's interview first. And if you feel by the end of the interview, as I did, it's not an interview. It's really a conversation with a friend of mine. But if you feel at the end of the conversation, as I did, that you are inspired by Nick and his wisdom, I encourage you to go to Amazon and grab a copy of the book.
And before we dive into the episode, the conversation today, I just want to say this. I want to take a minute to thank our sponsor, Organifi, and I want to say that your body is an amazing organic machine. Right? It turns food into energy. It heals wounds, it heals itself, it supports your consciousness and so much more but it needs the right fuel and signals to function at its best. And some of those signals include what's known as adaptogens. And if you’re not familiar, adaptogens are compounds that balance hormones and help you deal with stress in a much healthier way. So, if you're feeling tired, adaptogens give you a boost of energy. If you're feeling stressed, they help you return to a natural state of calm. They literally help you “adapt” to the stress of life. And my favorite source of adaptogens is from Organifi. Our sponsor, Organifi, they create these delicious superfood blends that mix easily with water or almond milk, or I put most of them in my smoothie. My wife drinks them at night to relax before bed, but they make it easy for you to get more adaptogens in your daily life like ashwagandha, reishi mushroom, Rhodiola, and a lot more. So, if you're looking for an easy way to support your amazing body, I highly recommend trying Organifi. Head over to Organifi.com/Hal and then use the code HAL at checkout to get an additional 15% off your entire order that's on top of all of their sale prices. Organifi.com/Hal and use the code HAL at checkout.
And now, without further ado, a conversation that I really enjoyed that I just had with my good friend, Nick Conedera, author of 70MPH: Grab the Wheel and Haul Ass to Your Dreams.
Hal Elrod: Nick Conedera, what's up, buddy?
Nick Conedera: Hey, how's it going, man?
Hal Elrod: It's good, man. It's really good. I'm excited as you and I just said, let's just hang out and record it. Let's hang out and record it for the world to listen to.
Nick Conedera: I know it's been a while but it's always a pleasure, and it just seems like every time we see each other, whether it's in person or virtually, it's like as if there was no time apart at all.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. No. We fall back into rhythm, man, for sure. I think with people that you're aligned with in terms of just your values and you have kind of a connection and old friends, it's like it makes it easy. It makes it easy.
Nick Conedera: It’s also easy with you because you're amazing.
Hal Elrod: Oh, all right. I did not pay you to say that but I appreciate that. Well, I'll say, I receive to that. Thank you. And I think what you're probably referring to, though, is, yes, there's never any, what am I looking for? I try to when I interact with people, it's just from love, pure love, love, acceptance, joy. Like, there's no judgment. There's no ego. So, maybe that's what you mean by amazing. I don't know.
Nick Conedera: You're a big love ball. You're a big teddy bear. And you give out a lot of love and I really appreciate it. And that's why you receive a lot of love in return.
Hal Elrod: I appreciate that, man. Thank you. Well, ditto I guess because it feels mutual. And where are you right now? You're in Georgia, right?
Nick Conedera: Yeah. Right now, I'm in a little suburb of Atlanta called Lilburn, Georgia. It's quite lovely.
Hal Elrod: All right. And tell us what you're doing there. I know but tell everybody listening why are you in Georgia. What are you doing there?
Nick Conedera: Well, I moved here a few months ago after I was asked to write and direct a docudrama about qigong and self-healing. It's actually the first film that I've ever been hired for because normally the movies that I make, they're either my ideas or I write the script. I go out and raise the money myself. And this one is the first one I've ever been hired to do, which is kind of exciting.
Hal Elrod: I want to hear about the film, but real quick, if I remember correctly, didn't you say this person saw the Miracle Morning Movie and that's how they hired you, how they found you?
Nick Conedera: Yeah. Basically, I got the job because the main subject of the documentary is trying to launch a book series and a brand just like you. And based on what they saw from the Miracle Morning Movie, that was the main decision making, the thing that tipped the scales to hire me.
Hal Elrod: That's so cool. And that was my hope, right? I was like I hope this movie goes out there and changes lives and, Nick, I hope it helps launch your career to the next level, which I mean, you were already a successful filmmaker before the Miracle Morning but, obviously, there's always that next level.
Nick Conedera: Yeah.
Hal Elrod: You mentioned to me before we started recording that qigong and this film is about people that are healing themselves of cancer with their mind-body like explain it. Can you elaborate on that?
Nick Conedera: Well, qigong is an ancient practice that's been around for thousands of years from ancient China and it's really just about like the word, qi, when it's translated into English just means energy. And qigong, the word gong is basically the use of that it's translated to the use of. So, qigong is basically using energy. And it's really using your own body's energy to heal yourself. There are other uses of qigong. The most popular one is Tai chi, which is more of a martial art that is one practice of qigong. And there's also external qi healing, which is when people use the qi in their body to heal other people's bodies. And there's a lot of science behind it. Like I said, it's a practice that's been around for thousands of years. It's interesting because it's not very well known in the West. People in China, they use it a lot. They swear by it. It's been around a long time. But over in the West, we do acupuncture, we do massage, we do chiropractic, which are all traditional Chinese medicine methods but qigong is much less popular here for whatever reason. But even though, it's probably the most powerful method of healing in general, whether it's to yourself or to somebody else.
Hal Elrod: That's fascinating. I'm a big believer, as you know, in the mind-body connection and our ability to heal ourselves through our mind. And like you said, there's science behind it, how our mind affects our cellular health, how our emotions, right? You look at the negative effects of emotions. If you live in a state of stress, you create an aesthetic response in your body, which then fosters disease and allows cancer cells to flourish, that sort of thing. And the opposite is also true, right? When you have a calm, peaceful healing mindset, you're actually able to see how that affects cellular health. And that's about as scientific as I get but cool. That’s cool.
Nick Conedera: Yeah. This film is really about it follows the story of a Chinese qigong master named Master Li, and he grew up in Maoist China in the 1960s, 1970s, and he was basically a poor, almost orphaned boy because his dad died and his mom was actually paralyzed. But he, as a young kid growing up in Maoist China, he discovered that he could heal anybody with his hands. So, it's really a story about his journey becoming a qigong master and becoming a healing master and then coming over the West to follow a prophecy to try to heal the world. And it's a real guy. It's a real story. It's an incredible story. And he built up a pretty big following in Atlanta at one point, mostly of cancer patients who they come to him when it's too late. They come to him when the Western medical system says basically, "There's nothing we can do for you. You're going to be dead in a few months.” And then that's when people get to the point where they're like, “Okay. I'm going to try everything I possibly can, no matter how crazy it sounds.” That's when they go to somebody like Master Lee, and he teaches them that he doesn't heal. He doesn't do any hands-on healing anymore because he had a practice in China for decades of a qigong clinic where people would come to him and he put his hands on them and heal them. But then he started teaching people to heal themselves because everybody can do this. And there's a lot of incredible success stories of people who've healed their inoperable cancer just from doing qigong, using their own body's ability to heal themselves successfully.
Hal Elrod: That's fascinating and valuable. I think that in the West, we've been taught that, "If you're sick, you've got to go to the doctor, the hospital. You've got to take a drug,” when our bodies were designed for self-healing and people were healing long before the pharmaceutical industry came into play, right?
Nick Conedera: Yes. Every scar on your body is evidence that your body knows what to do. You just kind of have to step out of its way.
Hal Elrod: I love that. And what's this master's name?
Nick Conedera: His name is Master Li. His legal name is Yan Ming Li or Li Yan Ming and he's known as Master Li because that's just how. In China, it’s Shifu Li. That's what they call master teachers when they get to a certain level.
Hal Elrod: And he's still alive?
Nick Conedera: Yes, very much so.
Hal Elrod: How old is he? I'm curious.
Nick Conedera: He's in his 60s, I think.
Hal Elrod: Okay. All right.
Nick Conedera: Or he's like 58 now, I think. But he looks and acts like he's my age.
Hal Elrod: Really?
Nick Conedera: He looks and acts like he's in his 30s. Yeah. He just has so much energy and he's so warm. You can feel the heat and the energy just like coming off of him. And it's very easy like whenever he's in the room, you can feel his presence and he's just kind of an incredible person. He's really quite one of a kind.
Hal Elrod: What a cool opportunity just to be behind the scenes, working, filming him sharing his story. I'm excited to see this. When's the release date?
Nick Conedera: It's the Chinese New Year. Or no. Yeah, I think it's the Chinese New Year sometime in April.
Hal Elrod: In April 2022?
Nick Conedera: Yeah. 2022.
Hal Elrod: Okay. It's about six months off.
Nick Conedera: I don't know the exact date. I guess I should have looked that up before we started recording the podcast.
Hal Elrod: No, no. Well, that's not even why we brought you on. This is just the project that you're into, which is cool, though. I'm excited about this. And I think that more and more - I'm sure you saw the documentary, Heal. Yeah?.
Nick Conedera: Yes. Actually, the guy who edited Heal is editing this film.
Hal Elrod: Oh, well, you're in good company then. But that's an example, right, of a documentary that showed case study after case study after case study of people that defied the logic of doctors to heal themselves. And I'll be honest, when I watched that movie, my ego did rise up and go, “Dude, I should have been in this. Like, why am I not in there? Why wasn't I in that movie?” But I think those movies, those films, those stories need to be told because I think people feel like they have a lack of control over their own health because they feel like, “I have to rely on the ‘experts.’ I have to rely on other people to heal me,” versus taking responsibility for our health. And by the way, I absolutely have relied on experts. But to me, it's like I feel like we should all be the expert in our own health first and then turn to outside sources and resources to learn more that we can add into our toolkit but that we filter through our own intuition and wisdom to apply for each of us because everybody's different. Everybody has different needs and different things work for different people. So, really, really cool films.
All right. Let's transition to the reason I want to have you on and to be clear to everybody, this is how this came to be. So, Nick and I've been friends for a long time and I know he had a book coming out but I just saw and I think I'm on your email list and I got an email from you with it was like your first video about the book but, obviously, you're a filmmaker. And so, he has a book coming out but he recorded. It was like, I think, a 9 or 10-minute video. In fact, where can people find that video? Is it on your website? Or where is that? YouTube?
Nick Conedera: It's on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. And what's the name? Remind me the name of that video.
Nick Conedera: It's a docu-series, so that's about burning my possessions is the first episode. I think it’s just called 70 Miles Per Hour Episode #1, The Cleanse, something like that.
Hal Elrod: Okay. So, Nick Conedera, and is it listed as 70MPH, I think?
Nick Conedera: Yeah. If you look up 70MPH Van Life, the page will show up and all the videos are on the page.
Hal Elrod: Okay. All right. So, you have a book coming out. So, I saw that video, by the way, and I told you this. I text you. I'm like, “Hey, can you come on the podcast? I said, "Great video.” And I wasn't surprised. You're a filmmaker and you're good at what you do, but I was enthralled for the whole nine or ten minutes the video went. I thought it was like a little mini-movie. It was really well-done. And so, you wrote this book 70 Miles Per Hour. Remind me the subtitle. I'm not looking at it right now.
Nick Conedera: Grab the Wheel and Haul Ass to Your Dreams.
Hal Elrod: And Haul Ass to Your Dreams. You essentially were living the life of your dreams, right? You had a six-figure business following your passion, your career as a filmmaker. You lived in a nice apartment, all of these things, and then you decided to literally get rid of everything like you burned, that video showed you burning most of your possessions, like destroying your trophies that you had won when you were younger in your sales career, burning pictures and yearbooks, and all this stuff. And I think that that in and of itself is really symbolic. It's not easy for people to do. We’re very attached. We're all hoarders at some level, right? Like, even if it's very minor, we hang on to things that we move them from one house to another to another to another. So, just take us back like why did you decide to take a departure from your “normal life” that you had been living that most people see as normal and then you decided to build out this van and go live on the road for three years now? You were living in the van for three years?
Nick Conedera: Yeah. That's a good question. Well, like you said, I did have pretty much everything that you would consider to be “success.” I had a thriving business, mostly thanks to you. I had a sexy sports car, a fancy apartment. I had a team of people working for me. I just wasn't happy and I didn't really understand why. And it's really hard to articulate. But it was actually back at BYEB 2017, which I actually was secretly hoping that you guys would not hire me because, for anybody listening, I used to do all of the videos for house events and Jon Berghoff’s events, and I was secretly hoping that I wouldn't get hired this time because I was kind of burnt out on these personal growth events. And after the event, there's like loud music playing, you just dismissed everybody, and everybody's excited and cheering and hugging, I just went behind the stage and cried. And I don't really know why but I think it was because everybody was having these big personal growth breakthroughs but me and at the time, I just felt really trapped in the life that I had created. It was one of life's lifestyle servitude where I was working just to pay my bills. I was stuck in a production-consumption lifestyle just to keep up with the fancy life that I had built for myself in Austin, Texas.
Hal Elrod: So, you were living the American dream. Yeah. I think most people listening can totally relate to that feeling trapped in the life that you created for yourself. Yeah. Keep going.
Nick Conedera: Yeah. And it didn't feel like freedom. It didn't feel fulfilling like we're supposed to think it will but I felt like my only purpose in life, the only reason I existed was literally just to pay my bills. I woke up every day to run this business just to pay my bills. And I really didn't, I mean, I really enjoyed doing event videos for you, guys. I just knew I had more to offer than marketing videos. There were stories that I needed to tell, there were things that I wanted to say as an artist, and there were a bunch of things I wanted to do like write scripts and make more films. I'd always wanted to live in a van and travel. I wanted to write a book. I wanted to start a family. There's just a lot of things that I wanted to do that I felt like I wasn't doing because all of my time was focused on running this business. So, the main reason I decided living in the van was basically to transition my life, to live more in alignment with my dreams, my passions, my visions, my bliss, my values, my priorities. And that's when I burnt all my possessions. There was a lot of really interesting, challenging practices that I had to adopt in order to prepare to live in a van because it's so vastly different than what we're used to living in a house in one spot. Building the van was one of them.
Hal Elrod: Okay. Yeah. I don't want to jump too far ahead. I want to start there like…
Nick Conedera: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Hal Elrod: So, what was the decision? So, were you back in your apartment? Was it on the plane? Like, where do you make the decision, and what was the decision? Did the decision evolve or was it like, “You know what? I'm burning all my possessions. I'm going to buy a van. I'm going to build it out so I could live in it and I'm going to hit the road.” What was the thought process that led to the decision?
Nick Conedera: Oh, it's a good one. I think it was actually at BYEB. After the event was over, I went back to my hotel room and took the workbook, and I was like, “I'm going to do the workbook myself because I've always been around some of these events, but I just never had participated. I was always part of the crew. I was always working at an event. And when I have a camera in my hand, my brain is not operating in a normal way, so I wasn't able to really experience the growth that other people get to experience at these events. So, I was like, “Okay. I'm going to go do the workbook myself,” and I stayed up pretty late that night and realized that there is this phrase that kept ringing in my head, "Live in alignment. Live in alignment,” and I didn't know really what that meant. But one of the things that I wrote down in my workbook from BYEB was to live in a van and travel the country. And then the next morning, I woke up and I had some Yogi Tea. I travel with my Yogi Tea and I love the wisdom of the Yogi Tea bags because they always have a little saying on the little tag that's attached to the teabag. And it said something like, "Use your head to live with your heart.” And it immediately clicked that next morning. I knew instantly like, “Oh my gosh, that's what living in alignment means.” I'm not living in alignment with my head, my heart, and my body. I'm not taking those visions as passions, the things that set my heart on fire. I'm not using those. I'm not using my mind to figure out how to do those things. I'm using my mind to figure out how to make more money. And then I'm not using my body to put those things in action. I'm using my body to run a business or whatever I was doing.
So, that's when I realized in order to live in alignment and be the person that I want to be and be more fulfilled, have a more fulfilling life, I need to go live in a van. It was kind of an immediate decision and I kind of just went with it. I took it and ran with it. And then all along the way, I kept having moments of like, “Wait, am I really doing this? Because this is crazy, right? I’m getting rid of all my possessions, getting rid of my nice car, abandoning our business. Am I really doing this?” all along the way. But I just kept having to take that leap of faith and trust in myself and trust the little whispers I was hearing from my heart's desires were more intelligent than what my mind could bring up. And so, I had to just follow through. And it was really challenging but it was just kind of an immediate, it was just an idea and then it became a decision. And then just for the next three months, all I did was build a van, basically.
Hal Elrod: And you didn't have a van at the time, right? You had to buy a van?
Nick Conedera: Yes. First, I got rid of all my possessions and then I went shopping for vans and I traded in my car for a really crappy van, actually, for some reason. That's a whole other story. And then I took a couple of months to build it out, and there was a step-by-step process that I had planned but mostly it was just kind of going with my intuition, going with the flow.
Hal Elrod: And so, did you end up sticking with the crappy van or did you end up replacing that?
Nick Conedera: Yeah. For some reason, the vision I had was a panel van, which some people call pedophile vans. It's just a blank.
Hal Elrod: No windows.
Nick Conedera: It’s just a blank. Yeah. Blank white van with no windows that like a contractor would own. And I don't know why but I wasn't imagining a super fancy Mercedes Sprinter, which I couldn't afford it anyways. I, for some reason, saw in my head a crappy white, like kind of gross-looking van. And then when I found this one at this used car lot, it was much crappier than the other ones, and I still could have afforded something nicer. But when I walked up to it, it's sort of like turned on and looked at me and I felt its energy turn on and say hello to my energy. And it was really strange. I can't describe with words that feeling but it was kind of like I think this is the one. I don't know why. I don't know if this mechanical thing has a consciousness but it is obviously responding to my energy or my energy is responding to its energy. And that's the one I bought.
Hal Elrod: I love it. And so, that's the one that I've seen that you've been at my house with?
Nick Conedera: Yeah. I did take it to a mechanic just to get it checked out. And actually, the engine was in any way better working condition than it should have been considering that it already had a couple hundred thousand miles on it. But it was just very well taken care of and that was kind of what sealed the deal.
Hal Elrod: Okay. And you build the van out and building the van out, by the way, I mean, you literally built structures in there so that you had a bed and so that you had - what all did you put in? A refrigerator? Or what do you have in it?
Nick Conedera: It's got pretty much everything a house would have. It's got electricity, it's got lighting, it has a two-pump or, what’s it called, two-tank water system that's hand-pumped. And there's no toilet. There's no toilet, no shower. That's pretty much the only thing it doesn't have but, yeah, there's a bed. I mean, it's got everything that you would need in it. It's got a kitchen. It's got everything.
Hal Elrod: So, have you not showered for three years? Be honest.
Nick Conedera: Well, at first, there were extended periods of time where I didn't take a shower. But just because most of the time, I was in nature at like a national park or just some place really beautiful. But whenever there is a body of water or a river or an ocean, I go ahead and jump in and there's a lot of instances where there's snow on the ground. For example, being in Colorado like in the Rocky Mountains, there's snow on the ground in the middle of winter but I'm still jumping in the river and it feels amazing.
Hal Elrod: So, you're living in a van down by the river. I mean, that's it. And isn't van life, I mean, that's a thing now, right? That's like there’s #VanLife on Instagram? I mean, this is actually like a movement, yeah?
Nick Conedera: Yeah. It's getting much more popular for a lot of reasons. One of which probably is Instagram because it's the way it's portrayed and it's very like sort of a romantic ideal for millennials nowadays. And they show like a half-naked woman next to beautiful turquoise waters in some remote location with their van perfectly positioned in the background. And there are instances of that when you're living in a van but it is also pretty grungy, pretty dirty, pretty challenging physically and mentally and there are a lot of personal challenges that come with living that kind of lifestyle.
Hal Elrod: And what were some of the biggest challenges?
Nick Conedera: Probably, for me, I mean, there's a lot of little things that I realize that I'm a domesticated human being and when you take away those creature comforts, it's actually really challenging at first. Like, where do you go poop? Where do you take a shower? How do you prepare food remotely? How do you create electricity remotely? Like, all these creature comforts where we're used to having just flipping a switch and it's there for us immediately and taking those away was actually really challenging at first. Also, one thing I learned was that we human beings are like the most adaptive mammals in the planet, and we can adapt to any environment. Actually, once I adapted, I found that the lifestyle was actually way more fulfilling and I was actually happier living this way. So, yes, there are some creature comfort challenges, but most of the challenges came from the process of just preparing myself to live in a van and the process of living in like living on the road. Like, my AC broke down in the middle of Texas in the summer, and I had to bust out my tools and like go find a part and replace it myself. You know, getting rid of all of my possessions was a huge challenge. Building the thing with no previous construction experience was a huge challenge. There's like a lot of these cool stories that I experienced, challenges that I overcame that were just part of living in a van in general.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. A couple of things I want to say that you said I want to echo, which is, one, you talked about being adaptive. And that's a lesson right now I'm trying to get across to people and I'm trying to really embrace that lesson of being adaptive. I did a podcast a few weeks ago on how to be fearless. And I talked about what…
Nick Conedera: Yeah. Great one.
Hal Elrod: Oh, did you listen to that one?
Nick Conedera: Yeah. It seems like your content's kind of changed recently, and I love the direction that you're going because I think it's way more valuable nowadays.
Hal Elrod: Thank you, man. Yeah, I'm trying to really ask myself, what do people need right now? You know, what do I need? What do we all need collectively? But in that episode, I talked about what causes fear. Like, we create fear based on us imagining some scenario in the future and then imagining that we're not going to be able to handle it. And that's what creates the fear is, “Oh my God,” and if you're sitting in your comfortable like, if I'm in my comfortable bed and I were to imagine living in a van and sleeping on what I'd imagine was not the most comfortable mattress every night as I'm laying in that comfortable bed, that would create fear and anxiety and worry about, “Oh, I couldn't do that.” But then once you're laying in that bed, yeah, the first few nights or maybe even a week or two, whatever, it might be like, “Oh, I miss my old bed.” But what you said, we adapt and that becomes your bed, and then it becomes it just is what it is, and we acclimate to our environment. And so, I really want to share that with. I just want to echo that because we don't know what's going to happen in the future and there are some signs that in our world, in our country that there are some pretty unexpected, maybe unprecedented things coming our way in the future. And so, I think it's important for all of us that we don't need a fear over the unknown. We need to have total faith and confidence in ourselves that no matter what comes our way, we got this. We got this. We can handle it. We will adapt. And your story is a perfect example of that.
I mean, to go from the creature comforts to living in a frickin van is pretty intense. There's one of the things that I wanted to echo that you said, but I forgot so let's keep going. What was your plan? What was the van plan? Meaning like, did you map out, “Here's the route I'm going to take around the country. I want to go from one side to the other?” I think you were still working, you were driving from job-to-job and doing some video work, like what was the path that you were taking in terms of where you were going in that van?
Nick Conedera: That's a good question. I did have sort of I'm pretty organized and anal about like time and scheduling.
Hal Elrod: Good.
Nick Conedera: And I did have a pretty specific plan and the goal was to just live on the road for a year. But once I got on the road, I realized how much having a plan like that didn't help. So, I just chucked the road map out the window and sort of just went with my intuition and I didn't really know exactly. I mean, I knew I was going to go to Colorado. I knew I was going to go to Washington, San Diego, New England, Florida, the Florida Keys, like there are places, destinations that I had in mind. I didn't have any specific plan about how to get there because I found that making decisions in the moment based on where I was and who I was with in that moment created way better experiences than I could have ever planned.
Hal Elrod: On that note, what were some of the high points, not high points, but some of the highlights in general in terms of like I'd imagine there's a sense of freedom, right? That you don't have to pay your mortgage every month and you don't have to follow any certain ritual routine, show up, be accountable like you just get to live and be free. “And you know what, I want to drive over here. I want to get out. I want to go walk in nature. You know what, tonight I'm going to head here,” like freedom is the word that really resonates with me. And I think that as human beings, I feel like we're born craving freedom like we want the freedom to live life in a way that is fulfilling, that's in alignment with our values, so on and so forth. So, talk about that. Talk about like what were some of the high points in terms of freedom or adventure or those kinds of things?
Nick Conedera: Yeah. It is definitely related. I think it's the way it's perceived, at least on Instagram, is the ultimate freedom. And it really is that mostly because you don't really have bills to pay like I only had car insurance in my phone bill.
Hal Elrod: Gas. Yeah,
Nick Conedera: Yeah. And then I had gas and food, other expenses but having the lack of that overhead does give you a lot more freedom to do the things that you want to do. So, it was very freeing. Again, very challenging at times but I would say the highlight moments were when I was surrounded by people who were like-minded and I wasn't expecting that. I was really excited about the beautiful places that I wanted to go see. And about halfway through, I realized like, “Oh man, I'm having the most fun hanging out with awesome people.” Like, I lived and worked on a USDA organic produce farm in Washington for the summer. I worked for a CBD company in Denver when CBD first became federally legal and they put me up in a high-rise above Whole Foods that literally had an elevator that went down the apartment building and then opened up inside of Whole Foods which was super cool because I love Whole Foods.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, sure. So, wait, so you got a break from the van to live in a high-rise for a while?
Nick Conedera: Yeah.
Hal Elrod: Oh, how fun.
Nick Conedera: I mean, you are correct in that. I did have to go make money every once in a while. I did put a lot of the trip on a credit card so I didn't have to focus on going and making money to fund my travels. At one point, I maxed out the credit card, so that wasn't a long-term solution but also work kind of just follows me because I'm known pretty well for what I do, and I'm very fortunate in that way. I think one of the biggest questions that people have is how do you actually make money on the road? I'm just very lucky. Work follows me everywhere. But, yeah, every once in a while I had to take a break and stop traveling for a bit and stay in one spot and do some work. And, yeah, living in Denver, working for the CBD company was one of them.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. You came to my house for a couple of weeks, helped our final editing of the Miracle Morning Movie. That was fun. The van was parked out front of the cul de sac.
Nick Conedera: That's right. I jumped in your pool every morning as part of my morning routine.
Hal Elrod: You did the cold plunge. Yeah. You know, one of the things you said is, and this resonates with me because I believe this is one of the most important conscious focuses for us to take, but I want to hear what you meant by you said the van helped you live more in alignment. How do you define that? What is living in alignment to you?
Nick Conedera: Well, living in alignment to me is simply aligning your spiritual purpose, which to me are your heart's desires. You could say what God says you should do, the little whispers that you hear, your dreams, your visions, whatever sets your heart on fire, I consider those things to be the northern star, like towards which you are supposed to go. I call that your spiritual purpose. The Sanskrit word for it is dharma but it's your purpose on this planet. And aligning those things, those visions, the bliss, the things that set your heart on fire, aligning those like I said with your mind, using your mind to figure out how to do those things, and then using your body to put those things into action, to me, that is living in alignment. It's using your entire conscious being, your mind, body, and spirit to live present in the present moment on this planet. And your intuition from your heart or your spirit or your higher self or God or whatever word you want to use to describe it is a very powerful force. That intuition is a very powerful force. And if you listen to it, magical things do happen because when you're living in alignment, the universe acts like a mirror reflecting you back to you. There's actually a law of physics called the Law of Conservation of Energy that states that energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can only be transmuted into another form which literally means you cannot give without receiving. You can't receive the things that you want without giving that energy.
And I was raised by a Buddhist who taught me that you are one with your environment. There's no separation. So, if that's the case, then that means that whatever happens inside you is then reflected in your environment or your life situation, maybe not immediately, but eventually. So, if you can't receive energy without giving in your environment is the direct result of you, then that means the universe responds to your energy like a mirror, sending you energies that match and resonate what you are putting out. So, if you're constantly in a bad mood looking at the negative in everything, always complaining to everybody, you feel like crap because you're eating crap and you're crapping on everybody around you, guess what? The universe is going to give you back more crap. But if you constantly look at the positive, if you cultivate an attitude of gratitude, if you treat everybody you come in contact with, with kindness and compassion, and you always want to help everybody around you, guess what? The universe is going to give you more energies or frequencies that resonate with that energy in the form of people who are willing to give to you or awesome opportunities that resonate with your energy.
So, for me, living in the van was living in alignment with my values, my beliefs, my priorities. Like, I wanted to lower my carbon footprint. I wanted to live more a green and energy-efficient lifestyle. I wanted to live more in harmony with nature. I wanted to be more self-sufficient, travel with the seasons, live a more mobile lifestyle, travel more, and all the things that I've always wanted to do. And magical things started happening in my life. I attracted some pretty incredible opportunities and some pretty incredible people into my life once I started doing that. And another magical thing that happens when you live in alignment is just you're happier. You're more fulfilled because you're actually doing the things that you've always wanted to do. You're doing the things that your heart says you should do. And like I said, when you have that good energy, when you're truly happy and fulfilled, you attract more good energy not only into your own life but into the lives of the people around you too. And that's what I believe. That's how I live my life, and it's working pretty darn well for me.
Hal Elrod: It is. And everything you just said, there's so much wisdom in all of that, so much wisdom in it. And you're right that that is what allows living in alignment, to me, and that's why I said it's one of I believe the most important conscious decisions for us to make and for us to explore. Am I living in alignment? What does alignment look like? What are my values that I want to live in alignment with? And as you said, that's what I believe. That's what creates happiness and fulfillment is living in alignment with what we value most, what's important to us. And I think so many of us are suppressing that because we're trying to live the way that we should live or we're stuck and we created this life and now we're stuck living it. And as you know, my wife and I recently sold our beautiful home in our neighborhood with all our friends to live in alignment with our values. We bought 30 acres. We’re living on the land. We’re growing our own food. We're being self-sufficient. We're spending more time in nature. And it's like it feels so good. I try to put in words for people. It's like it's surreal. I don't know. And it was a huge, scary thing for us to abandon the life that we knew for the life that we knew was possible. And you're living proof of that and I think that anybody listening at least I'm feeling inspired by your example, Nick. And talk about the book because you've captured what you just shared on this episode plus so much more in this new book, 70MPH: Haul Ass to Your Dreams. Tell us about the book.
Nick Conedera: Yeah. Well, I will say that, hopefully, you don't have to burn all your possessions and live in a van to figure out how to live more in alignment with your values. But like you said, even you had to abandon your own life, your old life to bring in a new life. So, hopefully, the book will actually allow people to learn from my experiences without going through what I had to go through. But the way it started is I'm a storyteller. So, I'm always doing a lot of writing and on the road, I was writing a lot of screenplays but very early on I decided to use that writing practice as a way to process what I was experiencing because I was like going through so much personal growth so quickly and it was so intense and I just had to write about it just to understand what was happening to me. And those journalings became really great stories, and I realized, like, “Hey, this would actually be a really good book,” and I've always wanted to write a book. And some of my favorite authors like John Steinbeck. You’ve read Travels with Charley, where he lived in a truck with his poodle, Charley, and traveled across the country. Jack Kerouac, he wrote On The Road. William Least Heat-Moon wrote Blue Highways. And Nomadland is a more recent book about living the van life. These are like some of my favorite books, some of my favorite authors, and I was like, “I want to do that.” So, I decided to put those writings into a book and actually did it.
Hal Elrod: And you did it, man. You did it. Yeah, I'm excited. I haven't read it yet. It's out. Actually, as of today, the podcast would come out on October 20th and the book came out on the 19th, right?
Nick Conedera: Yeah.
Hal Elrod: Or that it will have come out. We're speaking in the future as if it were the past. It will have come out on October 19. So, the best place to get it is Amazon, I'm assuming?
Nick Conedera: Yeah. If you just search 70MPH and my name, Nick Conedera, it will definitely pop up.
Hal Elrod: 70MPH, Nick Conedera, and the subtitle: Grab the Wheel and Haul Ass to Your Dreams. Well, Nick, what I'll say just from knowing you for a long time is you are a beautiful human being. You're a brilliant human being. You're very wise. And every time I spend time with you, including the last 45 minutes or so, I learn, I grow, you make people around you better. And so, part of that, I'm sure, you're raised by a Buddhist, right? There's probably I'm sure your dad rubbed off on you a lot but, yeah, just I am excited for you to get the wisdom that you possess in the form of a book that's going to help so many people. So, if you're listening to this right now, head over to Amazon and type in 70MPH and then Nick Conedera. Grab the book. It'll take you on an adventure that Nick’s been on and then leave you with the inspiration and the wisdom to live in alignment with what matters most to you. Nick, I love you, brother.
Nick Conedera: Dude, thanks so much for your wonderfully kind words. I love you too, man. Really appreciate it.
Hal Elrod: You got it, man. I'm excited for this. All right, man. Everybody, go check out the book 70MPH. I love you, goal achievers, members of the Miracle Morning Community, and thanks for tuning in today. And I'll talk to you all next week.