Friday, December 20, 2013

LIVE from Mongolia on the radio with Bryan Crump!

Vol. III, No. 11

What does cutting coupons have to do with following a dream?

A few days ago, I was on the air with Bryan Crump, host of Radio New Zealand's Nights. Click above to listen to me talk about my CBS mentor Magee Hickey, my inspiration Christiane Amanpour, and what I think of cutting coupons. On that last point (cutting coupons) I explain why that, of all things, helped drive me to a banking career. Hope you enjoy the broadcast. I certainly enjoyed speaking with Bryan Crump. Bryan is the voice of New Zealand, so it was an honor to sit down with him and tell him my story.

- Enter to win Patricia's very last personal copy of LIVE from Mongolia, signed and shipped to your door. Click her Facebook page to find out how! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Publishers Weekly Review & A Radio Interview with Bryan Crump!

Vol. III, No. 10

"Light, humorous, and relentlessly optimistic." This was how Publishers Weekly described LIVE from Mongolia. I'm thrilled with this vote of confidence, but there's been even more good news. After this review was released earlier this week, sent out an email recommending my book. I found out about this via Emily, my Wellington running partner, who forwarded the mail (and then suggested a 10k run, which I shamefully declined on account of what's going on. Read on.)

Patricia Sexton with Radio NZ Host of Nights, Bryan Crump
And what's going on, drumroll, is that I've been interviewed by none other than Radio New Zealand's Nights, a weekday evening show described by his producer Robyn Walker as a "nightly voyage of attitude, longitude, and latitude." For me to get a chance to sit down and talk with Bryan Crump was a real honor. As a kid, Bryan started out, following what I can only presume was his 'dream' to become a journalist, by recording variety shows with friends in a bedroom studio. From there, he went on to cover rural issues in both New Zealand and Australia, produce documentaries, and report on what's going on in Parliament. As Nights host, he is the voice of New Zealand. Needless to say, I was a little bit nervous, and when I'm nervous I tend to be loquacious.

So, if you tune in on December 18th, you'll get a chance to hear me talk about why on earth I'd leave a "sensible" job for an unpaid internship in Mongolia. You'll also get a chance to hear me talk about things that I hadn't written about, like what happened when I tried to book a ticket to Kabul, Afghanistan, and what I think about following a dream career or choosing love. To be honest with you, I'm not sure how well I did talking to Bryan. I've spent a few sleepless nights since the interview was taped, fretting that I'd said too much. Well, I'll let you decide. I'll post the link to the interview once it's aired in New Zealand. Or, for those of you in New Zealand, tune in Wednesday, December 18th to Radio New Zealand National.

Today, Friday, I'm headed back to America with my little girl to celebrate Christmas. I haven't been this excited about Christmas since I believed in Santa. So, to all of you out there reading, from China to Mongolia, Australia and New Zealand and Pakistan, New York, the U.K., Ohio, Arizona, and Nevada (I check my blog stats occasionally, which tell me this is where most of you readers are coming from!); to all of you out there, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a very Happy New Year. I'll be interested to hear about your dream-following New Year's resolutions!

P.S. LIVE from Mongolia is on sale on Amazon for 40% off. If you order now, it should arrive in time for the Christmas holidays. And if I'm in your city, I'll do my best to sign it. All the best!

Patricia Sexton is the author of LIVE from Mongolia, a #1 best-seller on Amazon, published by Beaufort Books. She's hosted Sinovision's WE Talk, a talk show exploring how people overcome extraordinary obstacles to pursue their dreams. She's worked for CBS News and written for Britain's International Life. Sexton authors this weekly blog about following dreams and dream-followers. Follow her on Twitter @PatriciaSexton and on Facebook @LIVEfromMongolia.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

An Email from Christiane Amanpour

Vol. III, No. 9

Forty days w/o my girl who now has an accent
WELLINGTON — "Mum!" my little girl shouted when she saw me. It had been forty days since I'd seen her last, and she seemed taller, more filled out, more a child than the baby I'd left behind. For the last six weeks, I'd been traveling to New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Cincinnati, launching my book and making speeches about following your dreams. Although I'd tried to Skype with my daughter during that period, the time difference between Wellington and America made it difficult to arrange. And, Skyping seemed to upset my little girl. Although she tried, she couldn't fit her breakfast toast through the computer screen to feed me, and somehow that was her clue that I wasn't really there.

So, all this got me to thinking about Christiane Amanpour. As many of you know, she's the woman who inspired me all those years ago to follow my dream out of banking and into journalism. As I wrote in LIVE from Mongolia, and as I said at every single book launch speech from New York to New Zealand, I knew where Christiane was…was where I wanted to be. Christiane had also followed a dream into journalism, and this is how she describes her journey, in her keynote speech in September 2000 at the Edward R. Murrow Awards Ceremony:

"I arrived at CNN with a suitcase, with my bicycle, and with about 100 dollars … it was really exciting. We were pioneers … and I was really just the tea boy to begin with, or the equivalent thereof, but I quickly announced, innocently but very ambitiously, that I wanted to be, I was going to be, a foreign correspondent."

I've read this speech of Christiane's countless times, and each time I do, it gives me the same chills down my spine that it did that first time I stumbled upon it. When I finally quit my banking job to pursue journalism in Mongolia in 2006, I sat in an internet cafe in Ulaanbaatar and pondered once more the woman who'd inspired me to leave behind my sensible and promising career for a very, very different path. And that's when I decided to email Christiane to say all this. It took me quite a bit of time to work up the courage to actually hit 'send' on a mail that was preposterously long and loquacious, but finally, I did so. A few weeks later, there was a message in my inbox, a message from Christiane Amanpour herself.

Christiane apologized for taking so long to respond, wished me well, and then said the very thing that would keep me going when the doubts would soon begin to appear, and I had an awful lot of doubts in those years. Although I never doubted The Path, as it were, I did doubt myself and what I was actually capable of. Christiane said, "I can see you are doing wonderfully with the motivation it takes to do this kind of thing."

Motivation. Christiane Amanpour thought I was motivated! If your inspiration thinks you're motivated, well then, you have no excuse. Why would you waste time thinking otherwise? Of course, I did spend some time thinking otherwise, and doing so left me with a choice between following my dream to CNN, or returning to banking for "one more bonus." But I won't spoil the story for you; the book ends with a bit of a surprise, a situation and decision that surprised me too, and I was the one in the situation making the decision!

So, as I return to New Zealand and my husband and daughter, after forty days on my book tour talking about these things, I'm reminded of Christiane's advice and assessment from all those years ago. I'm encouraged that the nature of pursuit is not a single-minded path, but sometimes a circuitous adventure, one that requires motivation to keep going, despite the doubts, even when you've been gone so long that, in your absence, your daughter has developed an accent.

"No!" my little girl said to me, as we spent days hugging each other and reacquainting.

"I was on an adventure," I explained to her, carefully sounding out the word. "Can you say 'adventure'?"

"No!" she exclaimed again. But she pronounced it with her new accent, "Nye-oh!"

Patricia Sexton is the author of LIVE from Mongolia, a #1 best-seller on Amazon. She's hosted Sinovision's WE Talk, a talk show exploring how people overcome extraordinary obstacles to pursue their dreams. She's worked for CBS News and written for Britain's International Life. Sexton authors this weekly blog about following dreams and dream-followers. Follow her on Twitter @PatriciaSexton and on Facebook @LIVEfromMongolia

Thursday, November 28, 2013

LIVE from New Zealand, the book launches in Wellington!

Vol. III, No. 8

Signing LIVE from Mongolia for the dream-following juggler
WELLINGTON — Last night, LIVE from Mongolia launched in New Zealand. As many of you know, I moved here recently with my husband (who is "Bunkle" in the book's epilogue) and our little girl. We moved here because it's always been his dream to return home from living in London and New York to live in Wellington, where he grew up. So last night when he introduced me at my own book launch, I wasn't at all prepared for what he would say. I was prepared for him to gently poke fun at me in retribution for my 2010 wedding speech, which outed how romantic he is (he wore a tuxedo to our first long-distance date, which was on Skype). Instead, he spoke about what it meant to him and his family that I'd strayed from my own single-minded path of adventure to share in his adventure here in Wellington, and share in the adventure of family. Let's just say his was a tough act to follow, and not just for what he'd said about me and about us. But for the backdrop of his country, and for the crowd.

My husband, making one helluva speech
Anyone who knows even the tiniest tidbit about New Zealand knows that the country was built on a foundation of adventure. Commercial bungee jumping was invented here. The world's tallest official bungee is here. The world's most famous mountain climber is from here. The deepest sinkhole in the southern hemisphere is here, which means the spelunking is some of Earth's best. And, the weather is occasionally from Antarctica. As in, weather reports say stuff like, "A strong southerly will be coming in today from the Antarctic." Come on, that is cool. (Quite, actually.)

Anyway, to be in New Zealand in The Land of Adventure talking about my adventure to follow my dream was humbling. But to be in a crowd of people introducing themselves to me, saying things like:

"I've been to Mongolia, and my friend and I cycled 1500km from the Mongolian town of Moron in the west to the other Mongolian town of Moron in the east. Here's the book about our adventure; it's our gift to you." -Tama Pugsley

"I'm an anthropologist and linguist from Russia. My first taste of vodka was in Siberia in -42C
Book blurbs from 60 Minutes' Rosen & New York Times' Sipher
weather, and I drank it only to save my life."-Olga Suvorova

"We'd never been to New Zealand before moving here. We just wanted the adventure of living somewhere new." -Lissa Carlino

"I've been to Antarctica. Several times."

"My Christmas will be spent in the sub-Antarctic." -Jock Phillips, my father-in-law

I mean, these were the people I was speaking to. Not just about adventure, but about following dreams. And as I said in my speech, never before have I unearthed so many people in such a short space of time pursuing so many incredible dreams as I have in New Zealand. And so it was with last night's book launch.

Celebrating with my co-pilot and her cousin
The launch was held at The Preservatorium, owned and operated by Peter Thomas who spent two years working day and night to realize his vision of the gourmet cafe it would become. The beer was from Parrot Dog, a craft brewery whose owners are passionate about doing their own thing their own way, and they're really passionate about flavor. Best of all though, there was a juggler. Craig McDermott taught himself to juggle when he was twelve years young, and has just realized his dream of joining Circus Aotearoa! Craig the Juggler offered to juggle with fire and knives, but we alerted him to flammable babies, so he juggled with softer things instead.

All this is to say that the crowd at the book launch was full of adventurous dreamers, and I am incredibly honored to live in this place, to be surrounded by dreamers and adventurers, in this land of unrivaled beauty (especially when it's sunny). Thanks to all who came, for sharing your dreams, and for listening to mine. Especially Bunkle.

Photos taken by Lissa Carlino, the dreamer mentioned above who sold everything to move to New Zealand, although she'd never visited!

Patricia Sexton is the author of LIVE from Mongolia, the true story of what can happen when you follow your wildest dream. She's anchored the Mongolian news, worked for CBS News, hosted Sinovision's WE Talk, and authors this weekly blog about dream-followers and adventure. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

LIVE from Cincinnati: Sitting down with The CW's Bob Herzog

Vol. III, No. 7

My first time on live television was about seven years ago. For a full two seconds (I counted; I was very nervous), I asked a fire chief if there were any casualties in a Midtown West fire in Manhattan. The fire chief answered, "No." And with that, my voice and my microphone-holding forearm had made their debut into the world of on-air television. They'd debuted on WCBS, courtesy of Magee Hickey, who had taken me under her wing before I left for Mongolia.

"Mongolia?" you ask, just the same way my Dad asked when I told him where I was going after I quit Wall Street to pursue my dream.

To which I reply: yes. Yes, yes, yes: Mongolia! It was an incredible adventure, and to read more about why I went to Mongolia, and in particular how my Dad reacted when I did, you're gonna have to read the book, LIVE from Mongolia. It's the true story of what can happen if you pursue your wildest dream.

But back to Cincinnati! Sitting down with Bob Herzog and getting a chance to meet with John Lomax and Tiffany Wilson was pretty cool. I grew up watching John Lomax, and I told him that. To which he replied that I'd made him feel old. Which then made me feel old, too. Nevertheless our glum moment passed, and I sure would love to return to the set of Good Morning Cincinnati to update them on the book when I return here for Christmas.

Patricia Sexton is the author of LIVE from Mongolia, the true story of what can happen when you pursue your wildest dream. She's hosted Sinovision's WE Talk, a talk show about people following their wildest dreams, worked for CBS News, written for Britain's International Life, and been featured in The Daily Beast, Northern Virginia Mag, and several radio stations. She authors her weekly blog, LIVE from Mongolia, and is on Twitter and Facebook - eponymously!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

LIVE from Cincinnati! And Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington, D.C.!

Vol. III, No. 6

LIVE from Mongolia and I have been touring the Northeast, and now we're in Cincinnati. But let me back up just a few days to Philadelphia. 

Philadelphia is a glorious city. If I didn't live in New Zealand, I'd make a home of Philly. I'd wake up at dawn somewhere near Edgar Allan Poe's house, and write pieces far less scary than Poe penned. Then I'd stroll the block around my tree-lined street and ensconce myself in the history that is so present in this stunning town. I'd breakfast, lunch, and dinner on crepes at L'Etage, and then because I'd have to go to the gym after all those crepes, I'd do just that, walking past Independence Hall, imagining the signing of the Declaration of Independence taking place centuries ago…in my neighborhood.

But alas, it isn't my neighborhood. However, it's my friend Lara Rhame's neighborhood, which makes it almost just as good, because I can visit early and often. Lara and her husband Josh Spivak put me up (and put up with me) last weekend in Philly, and, along with L'Etage, hosted a LIVE from Mongolia signing. 

What was interesting about this signing in particular was that it was more a discussion on the why of following a dream. Why do we choose to pursue a particular path? What are the inherent obstacles? And what about the joyful triumphs? Time and again, this time being no different, I've found that what unites us, from North Korea to Mongolia and Cincinnati and Philadelphia, is our combination of dreams and our obstacles. And this time, in the audience, were people anywhere from teenagers to septuagenarians. And once again, we united on the theme of pursuit. 

After all this dialogue, I had a moment alone. At first, I pondered the nature of pursuit, but then I wondered, 'How is pursuit necessarily possible?' Almost always, it is possible only with the help of others. And so it was in this case. Without the help of Lara and Josh and L'Etage in Philadelphia, Andrea and Loews in Boston, and Ginger and Jamie along with Busboys & Poets in Arlington, I would not have been able to make this incredible journey throughout the Northeast. And I certainly could not have done this without the support of my husband, my in-laws, and my own family and friends.

Speaking of which, I am desperately missing my little girl. It's been a month since I last saw her, and she's saying and doing things that she hadn't done before, like uttering "monkey" for the first time, running instead of walking, and wearing her hair in pigtails. When your daughter's hair has enough time to grow into pigtail-length, you know you've been gone a long time. It's about time…to go home. 

Until then, stay tuned for updates from Cincinnati and Washington, D.C.!

- Patricia Sexton is the author of LIVE from Mongolia, the true story of what can happen when you follow your wildest dream. LIVE from Mongolia is available on and in various bookstores in the U.S. It's been featured in The Daily Beast, on WKRC TV the CW, several radio programs, and is Cornell University Mag's Top 5 book for the quarter. 

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Live from Mongolia by Patricia Sexton

Live from Mongolia

by Patricia Sexton

Giveaway ends December 01, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Happy Holidays from…Mongolia! Well, sorta. I'm currently in New York, talking about my time in Mongolia. But anyway, Goodreads and I are offering another book giveaway! Our last giveaway went really well, and two books went out to Indonesia and Nevada. So, we're doing another giveaway, open this time to U.S. residents. Two signed hardcovers will be sent out to you…wherever in America you are. Click above to enter! And Happy Holidays all you dreamers!

- Patricia Sexton is the author of LIVE from Mongolia, available on Her story and her book have been featured on The Daily Beast, and will feature this weekend on Sinovision's WE Talk! Stay tuned! 

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

LIVE from Boston: Book Tour!

Vol. III, No. 5

It's been a big week for LIVE from Mongolia. For the first time, the book and I went on tour together. We travel well together, just like we did when "book" was just "manuscript," way back in the
Available in St Marks Bookshop, East Village NYC
Mongolian steppe.

Before I left for Boston, I stopped in St Marks Bookshop in the East Village. Right before my eyes, I watched another part of my dream come true - one of the staff members at the bookstore was placing my books on the shelf. Watching that process take place, for this new author, was pretty incredible. And it didn't hurt to be placed in between a book called "Salinger" and a book written by none other than Sonia Sotomayor. (There are three signed copies of LIVE from Mongolia on the shelf at St Marks. Get 'em while the ink is still wet!)

And then I hit the road. It's been a long time since I've been alone on a road trip. On one hand, I was desperately missing my little girl and my guy, but on the other, I was able put my headphones on and crank up the volume on Buddy Holly, opera arias, and The National. Outside my window, New England was busy putting on a beautiful fall show. The leaves were peaking, and the colors explosive. I wished I could remark on all of it to my husband. Alas, the conundrum of traveling alone.

In Boston, I met up with my old college friend Andrea. Back in college, Andrea was one of those
With Andrea Foster at Loews Boston Hotel
Women Who Gets Sh*t Done, and the only difference between Andrea back then and Andrea now is that she is a Woman Who Gets More Sh*t Done. In the space of about four days, she'd suggested a book signing in Boston, planned it, and gotten glamorous hotel space to boot. So Saturday night at Loews Boston Hotel, I spoke to a small but intimate crowd about some things I was a little uncomfortable talking about, but things that people had been asking me about ever since the book was released. But the best part? The best part was getting to hear about other people's dreams.

Thank you to everyone who came, bought books, and shared their dreams with me. And thank you to Andrea for being a "WWGSD," and to John Maibach, Hailey Guzman, and Becca Pavao of Loews Hotel for their generous donation of beautiful space and absolutely unforgettably tasty refreshments and dinner!

LIVE from Mongolia is now available, signed with a special inscription, at Brookline Booksmith.

- Patricia Sexton is the author of LIVE from Mongolia, available on Follow her on Twitter @PatriciaSexton and on Facebook @LIVEfromMongolia.

Friday, November 01, 2013

LIVE from New York: Following a Dream at The Opera Gallery in Soho

Vol. III, No. 4

If you've ever wondered 'What if?', what might happen if you follow a long-lost dream, click the YouTube link below. For a long time, I wondered 'What if,' but I don't wonder anymore. What happened during those years of wondering, and what happened after, are the subject of my book launch speech—and my book! LIVE from Mongolia was released this past week. I hope you enjoy it, and I'd love to hear about your dream. Especially if your dream requires me to interview you in Siberia while we sip salt-milk lattes.

- LIVE from Mongolia, the true story of what can happen if you follow your wildest dream, is now available on Patricia Sexton has hosted Sinovision's WE Talk, a talk show about otherwise-ordinary people pursuing extraordinary dreams. She's worked for CBS News, Britain's International Life, and on Wall Street in Foreign Exchange Sales. @PatriciaSexton on Twitter, @LIVEfromMongolia on Facebook.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

LIVE from New York: Launching the Book!

Vol. III, No. 3

A memorable Lou Reed interview (Photo: Gabriel Garcia Rosa)
On Monday night, the night of my book launch, I paced a lot. Due to a wardrobe malfunction, I paced in snakeskin tights paired with snakeskin shoes, which means I wore a lot of snakeskin, faux snakeskin of course. The last time I wore all this snakeskin, Lou Reed pinched my bottom. That was after a Sinovision WE Talk interview, and I use the word 'interview' very cautiously. What happened with Lou Reed was more like me asking a lot of interiew-ish questions, and Lou telling me I was an idiot, followed by Lou abruptly walking off the set. 
Anyway, the LIVE from Mongolia book launch was Monday night at Manhattan's Opera Gallery. The Opera Gallery is a beautiful space filled with art created by artists following dreams of their own. My favorite artist always was and still is Patrick Boussignac, who paints as if he's painting his own dreams. Boussignac's art is surreal and vibrant and the piece I bought from him many years ago is the one thing I've clung onto from my banking days.

Making the speech. (Photo: Eugenia Hom)
As many of you know, when my book and I first met each other in person last week, my publisher Beaufort Books told me I would have to make a speech at the launch. I wasn't too thrilled by this edict, and spent the next six days talking to myself in the East Village, Dumbo, and all the cafes and trains in between.

In the end, I stood in front of all of you at the gallery and talked for ten thirsty minutes (I was really thirsty) about why I followed my dream out of Wall Street and into journalism. I told you that Christiane Amanpour inspired me, and she still does. I explained why I waited nearly a decade to follow my dream. And at the end of the speech, I thanked Mongolia, for giving me a chance I did not deserve. 

Mr Ganbold Erdene, Councillor, Mongolian Mission to UN (Photo: Melisse Seleck)
Just as I was thanking Mongolia, I noticed that Mr Ganbold Erdene had come to the party. Mr Ganbold is Councillor to the Permanent Mission of Mongolia to the United Nations, and it was an honor to have him at the launch. He even stood up to say a few words, and presented me with a photo album called "The Beauty of Mongolia." Looking at that photo album, I've gotten thirsty all over again. Thirsty for adventure. But I'm still in New York, working on all the things that need to be worked on after a book is launched. Which means that I'm actually still pacing.

Yesterday afternoon, while pacing, I found myself in the company of another Union Square/East Village legend: the guy who wears a top-hat, marshmallow coat, and skirt made of rags. His marshmallow coat looked new, and I admired it while furtively snapping a photo of him. Top-hat Guy yells at people who take his picture, but then he yells at pretty much everyone anyway. While Top-hat addressed the crowd of onlookers sitting on the steps in Union Square park, shouting about something I couldn't understand, a little girl walked by. She was about four years old, carrying a plastic cell phone. Her plastic cell phone was glued to her ear, and she was talking animatedly into it, giving imaginary instructions to the imaginary person on the other end.

Watching her, my heart was in two camps: my love for this amazing and unique city, and my love for my little girl and my guy who feel so very far away.

- LIVE from Mongolia is available on and has been featured in The Daily Beast.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

LIVE from New York: Preparing for the book launch!

Vol. III, No. 2
The famed Mosaic Man NYC

My book and I are sitting together in a cafe in Union Square in New York. It's fall, and the leaves are changing, but only on a few trees here and there. Occasionally, someone I recognize from my old neighborhood will come into the cafe. We won't say hi, because we never did before, but we will nod our mututal recognition.

Earlier this week, I went walking with my friend Andrea. Andrea walks a lot. In fact, Andrea says she's come to regard herself as a "Professional Walker" and if you counted your miles each day the way Andrea does, and if you regularly clocked 15 or so miles on a daily basis, you'd consider yourself a professional too. Anyway, on our stroll, we stumbled on Mosaic Man. Mosaic Man's real name is Jim Power, and he's a little bit of a local legend. Jim is the guy who creates art on New York City telephone poles by spackling mosaic onto the base of the poles. While Jim told us his story (a little convoluted and better read about on his website), a local shop owner approached Jim and offered him broken dishes from his dish shop. Jim was bowled over, and so were we. Seeing this local legend at work was something of a little dream of mine. I'd always wanted to know who did this, who took the time to create this street art for the public, without pay.

Familiar sight in New York: the smokestack
And speaking of walking, I've been walking a lot too. On Monday, my book launches. There will be a party to celebrate this, and at the party I have to make an important speech. For the better part of this week, I've been practicing that speech, covering a lot of ground in the East Village, talking to myself and gesturing. Which is to say, no one takes notice; I fit right in here.

It's been a little difficult being so far from my little girl and my guy, and last night we all Skyped. Although it's only been a week since I left them, my little girl didn't look so little anymore. She looked bigger and older and her hair seemed longer. She was clearly very excited to see me though, and tried to feed me chewed-up apple skins through the screen. She's always been generous like that with chewed-up food, and I did my best to smack my lips just as I would have done in person.

In the meantime, I've been trying to create a sense of calm for Monday. However, there are some things that are just unforgivable, like using dill as a food substance. Or what happened yesterday.

Everyone knows, at least I thought everyone knew, that you shouldn't stand stock-still in the middle of a New York sidewalk (or any city sidewalk) and stare down at your phone. All around you, people are in a hurry, and you're wasting everybody's time while you text and we divert. Especially when you're standing under scaffolding and everyone has to squeeze past you, single-file.

So yesterday, after a calming and thought-provoking yoga class at Abhaya Yoga, and a beautiful long lunch with my friend Julia, Julia and I went for a stroll in Soho. We happened upon some scaffolding, and beneath it two women standing stock-still, texting. At the time, I was in the middle of making a telephone call, and I didn't hang up my call before (only briefly, and not all that rudely) giving the women a piece of my mind.

"Hello?" the shopkeeper answered, just as I was mid-mini-upbraid.

"Oh," I said. "Sorry, I was just in the middle of telling someone off. But they deserved it."

The shopkeeper gave me the directions I'd asked him for, and a moment later, Julia and I were in his shop, ordering champagne for Monday's party. There, I tried again to explain why I might've been a little rude on the phone to him. I was sorry to have been abrasive; he seemed like a nice man and he'd even cheerily introduced himself as "Vic, like Victor."

And then, Vic-like-Victor gave me one of those delicious New York moments, one of those unforgettable interactions that make you love New York for what it is, warts and all. Vic-like-Victor waited for me to finish apologizing. He cocked his head to one side, and without a hint of irony said, "I don't give a f*ck."

New York, I do love you.

- LIVE from Mongolia will be released Monday, October 21st. Available now for pre-order on Thanks for all your support, all you dreamers out there. I look forward to signing your copy. Especially if you're in Mongolia!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

LIVE from New York!

Vol. III, No. 1

At Beaufort Books, preparing for the 10/21 launch
It was 1996, winter, and I was in Madrid, Spain, on my first overseas trip. By way of welcoming the new students to the study abroad program, Flint addressed us all in Spanish. I had to concentrate hard on what he was saying. I'd been studying Spanish for about eight years, but I'd never been spoken to at length in any language other than English. But then Flint said something and I understood immediately, and I never forgot it:

"Welcome to your new country. From this point on, you will never again have a home. You will fall in love with little pieces of each place you visit, never feeling quite settled and never again knowing 'home' as home."

And so it was this past weekend, arriving "home" to New York, to the East Village of Manhattan. Obviously, I desperately miss my little girl and my guy. Without them, I feel like a part of me has been amputated. But there's something else. And the something else is making me feel like I'm peering into a window of what my life was, before I chose to pursue 'our' dream instead of 'my' dream. It's lonely, what I'm witnessing, my old single-minded pursuit.

So let me tell you about the coconut stand.

The first thing I did when I arrived in New York, after gawking at a whole new level of shoe fashion (thigh-high leather stilettos paired with red nylon short-shorts in rather bracing October weather), was attend a yoga class. Yoga and meditation are my methods of cutting the noise out of organized religion, of just being quiet and listening. Given all that's about to go down in the next week with the book launch, I knew yoga was where I needed to be.

Jet-lagged, I arrived to a 95-minute class not at all prepared for what was about to happen.

"We'll begin by meditating," Austin at Jivamukti instructed. "But," he added to our tiny Sunday-morning class of just four, "you will sit facing the person next to you." We did as we were told, the four of us, gazing into someone else's eyes as we meditated. My palms were sweating and I struggled with the discomfort, but Austin knew that would happen. He said so. And then he pushed us further.

"Now," Austin said, "tell the person you're meditating with that you love them."

So, to a man I've never met and whose name I can't remember, I said, "I love you." Austin's point, which has stuck with me in these first few days back in New York, is that it is awfully difficult, but shouldn't be, to find compassion and camaraderie in an urban setting.

The next morning, I returned to Jivamukti for another class. With that kind of backdrop, I knew I had to. And that's when I learned about the coconut stand.

This time, the teacher was Mimi Chen, a friend and someone whose classes I've sought out for the way she manages to teach profound concepts on an attainable level. Recently, Mimi had spent time on a retreat in India. She was focused, she explained, on her yoga practice and her meditation and it seems her mentor picked up on just that. Her mentor was an Indian Sanskrit teacher named Lakshmish and he often warned her, "Don't go to the coconut stand!" In fact, he didn't just warn her, but he reminded her, constantly, that she shouldn't go to the coconut stand. Even when he knew she hadn't been to the coconut stand, because Mimi doesn't actually like coconuts.

According to Lakshmish, the coconut stand was where all the visitors hung out, where everyone got their social groove on, and forgot about the real reason they'd come to India. Smack in the middle of a lesson, Lakshmish would ask Mimi once again, "You didn't go to the coconut stand, did you?" She hadn't, Mimi told him again and again, and she wouldn't either. Mimi was focused.

Lakshmish's point was made to Mimi in India. Mimi's point was made to me in class yesterday.

Right now, here in my supposed 'home' in New York, I am feeling oddly far from my comfort zone. On Monday, my book is being published. I have given up a promising banking career to take this leap into the unknown, and Monday will be the test of whether or not I can stand up in front of all of you at my book launch and tell you why this story was worth telling.

And one thing's for sure now: I won't be spending very much time at the coconut stand.

Live from Mongolia will be released on Monday, October 21st! Get your advance copy on for 40% off sticker price, or come to the launch to buy it and I'll sign your copy for you. Good luck with your dream, whatever that dream may be. 

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Nudity & Pursuit & The Pursuit of Nudity

Vol. II, No. 11, Final for "Following Someone Else's Dream"
Ancient Chinese cupping therapy

"Your shoulder no good," the Chinese therapist said. He was young, maybe twenty-two, with a slight frame and big hands. "I fix it for you." And with that, he mimed what he was promising to do by cupping his hands and displaying a book of matches. 

At first, I had no idea what he was trying to convey. My husband and baby and I were in Beijing, and while she slept, we took turns exploring. Incredibly, I stumbled on an underground massage parlor, the exact same one I'd stumbled on years earlier when I'd visited Beijing with my mom. Back then, she'd joined me in China to see me off on my adventure into Mongolia. It was my mom who'd insisted (and, of course, nagged until I complied!) that I write a book, and that's the book that'll be released on October 21st, the true story of what happens when you follow your wildest dream. So, all this in mind as I stared in awe at the same parlor I'd visited seven years ago, I knew I had to pay them a visit again! But this time I'd get something I hadn't bargained for.

And that's when I realized what the therapist was offering: Chinese cupping. Cupping therapy is one of the most ancient forms of medicine. It's been around for 5000 years, and was discovered as a treatment
Cupping therapy: "Shoulder no good!"
in the oldest medical book (published, I believe, on papyrus, and probably not available on Kindle). Cupping uses suction to draw blood flow to the injured area to encourage healing. I hadn't heard of it until I'd moved to Singapore years ago, where my colleagues raved about its healing properties. So there I was in China, getting a chance to experience cupping for myself. 

I laid down on the table, topless, and shut my eyes. The therapist pressed a dozen or so glass cups to my back, lighting a match beneath each to create the vacuum suction, and then left me alone in the dark for a half hour to ponder what was happening. I couldn't see anything, and I couldn't move, so when he finally came back, I asked him to take a few photos.

And really, this is all a long-winded way of explaining the pictures at right, a long way of assuring you that I don't actually have a dozen enormous nipples. The top photo is during the treatment; the bottom is after the treatment. It was fascinating to see which spots were reddest, in particular the shoulder he'd pointed out before he'd even begun the treatment. 

Drop everything and come here. If you can find it.
If we'd stayed longer in China, I'd have returned regularly to cupping therapy, because for the first time in years, my shoulder felt better immediately. But alas, we were off, to move to New Zealand. Which brings me up to date. 

This weekend, I'm heading home! Home to New York City and possibly Cincinnati too, to publish my book. As many of you know, the book has been a long time coming, and I've been through a lot of trials and tribulations, a lot of sitting in my pajamas at noon wondering if I'd ever make it to this day. A few months ago for WE Talk, I interviewed Tian Hao Jiang, a Chinese factory worker who worked his way all the way up to opera singer, opera singer at The Met no less. When I asked Tian how he faced down his own obstacles to his wildest dream, he told me this: "Although I doubted myself now and again, I never doubted The Path." 

I couldn't agree more.

*Goodreads is doing a giveaway for LIVE from Mongolia! Two autographed advance review copies are available to anyone, anywhere in the world. Click here to enter to win: Goodreads giveaway ending October 14th.*

- Patricia Sexton is the author of LIVE from Mongolia, the true story of what can happen when you follow your wildest dream. She's also the host of Sinovision's WE Talk, a talk show exploring how celebrities and artists have overcome big obstacles to follow extraordinary dreams. She's on Twitter @PatriciaSexton and on Facebook @LiveFromMongolia

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Live from Mongolia by Patricia Sexton

Live from Mongolia

by Patricia Sexton

Giveaway ends October 14, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

I know, I know! I promised nudity—some degree of nudity—in this week's blog post, but isn't a free book so much better, a free autographed book? So let me address business first, before getting to what happened to me in Beijing during an ancient alternative therapy session at an underground Chinese massage parlor.

LIVE from Mongolia has been featured in The Daily Beast! The Daily Beast has a section called "Women in the World," and it's chock-full of stories about Mexico's female vigilantes, Hitler's "killer women," and Russia's Pussy Riot. And me! You can read the article here; it's all about why I took 'the leap' out of Wall Street to follow my dream. There are some surprises in there, stuff that's not even in the book.

Also, I'm really excited to announce that Goodreads will be doing a "giveaway" for LIVE from Mongolia. Two free books are up for grabs: both are advanced review copies, and both will be signed. To join the giveaway for your chance to win, click the link above! The giveaway starts in just a few hours, and lasts until October 14th.

- Patricia Sexton is the author of LIVE from Mongolia, the true story of a Wall Street woman chucking in her job to become anchor of the Mongolian news. She's also host of Sinovision's WE Talk, a talk show exploring how celebrities and artists have overcome big obstacles to pursue extraordinary dreams. She can be found on Twitter @PatriciaSexton and on Facebook @LIVEfromMongolia

Monday, September 30, 2013

Following Someone Else's Dream: So long, China! Kia Ora, New Zealand!

Vol. II, No. 10

Writing this blog in Guilin, China.
Well, speaking of traveling into the past in China, it seems I've run out of time! My book is being published in just three weeks, and I'm going home to New York for the launch. I have a Goodreads giveaway coming up and I've been LIVE on the air on American radio. All this is to say that I need to rush us out of China, head to my new home in New Zealand for a brief spell, and then return to Manhattan. So here goes...

In Guilin, China, my daughter and I sat in a cafe and wrote and wrote and wrote. Well, to be clear, I wrote while she grabbed at the pen. The cafe we were in was Italian, and it was raining heavily outside."Lying Eyes" was playing on the jukebox and the whole place had the feeling of somewhere set firmly and permanently in the early 1990s. I was lonesome and homesick, but as anyone who's traveled knows, the cure for homesickness is never home.

Baby crawling the Great Wall of China
So on the three of us went, peripatetically but not aimlessly. Not aimlessly at all: we had the Great Wall to see.

At the Great Wall, I was overcome with a profound sense of emotion for the depth of the wall's story. I mean, if there's any project on this planet that's bigger, and was more unlikely to succeed due to its sheer scale, I'd like to know about it. As many as a million builders died during part of its construction, and that was during just one dynasty, for just one part of the wall!

Anyway, at the Great Wall, the baby wanted to get down, and she wasn't taking no for an answer. Incredibly, we'd managed to find an empty section of it, not necessarily off the beaten path, but simply devoid of people. It was cold and rainy that day, so we had history all to ourselves. Onto the Great Wall of China we put her down. On the Great Wall of China my little girl was crawling. On this majestic endlessly snaking spine of history, she was tasting loose pebbles. I couldn't have been more proud.
Forbidden City with my girl, Beijing. 

And on we went. Back to Beijing to see the Forbidden City. And to Grandma's House, a restaurant so popular that we waited two days and three hours just to sit down. There I misunderstood a translation for meal and drink, so that while we thought we'd ordered a dozen or so plates of tapas and two drinks, we'd actually ordered a dozen or so main courses and two bottles of wine. It was embarrassing; everyone in the restaurant, and yes I mean everyone, laughed at us. And no I don't mean 'with' us. Not on this occasion!

From Beijing, we caught a taxi made of aluminum that looks just like a refrigerator on wheels. From there, we headed back "home" to Shanghai. Once again, we explored culinarily and found ourselves at a locals-only restaurant that served up some of the best food we've ever, ever eaten. By this point, we'd begun to feel like locals ourselves. But by this time, it was time to go. To New Zealand.

Defying gravity, the "refrigerator" taxi
And just like that, we were in my husband's home, my new home. On one hand, I couldn't believe I wasn't going home to New York, not yet anyway. But on the other hand, I began to feel a strange sense of communion with New Zealand—Wellington in particular. It was hard to say why; it's winter here and it's been raining and raining and raining, and when it stops raining it begins to drizzle. But what I know so far is that there is something about this place. There's a vein of creativity that pulses through Wellington the way I feel it pulsing through my home of the East Village in Manhattan. There are farm-to-table restaurants on every city block, coffee houses serving up "flat whites" made from freshly in-house-roasted beans, and posters (I'm not kidding here) suggesting that you, too, ought to follow your dream. And when I say posters, I don't mean just at the university (there are those too), but even at the gas stations! The walls are crawling with dream-followers, like James who created Earth174, and Gareth the barista who is working his way of up in national radio, or Annette who's following her passion to make exquisite chocolate at Esque Fine Chocolate.

Kia Ora, New Zealand!
Oh I could go on, and in fact I will! As I continue this blog, I'm going to return to what we used to be talking about here—about other people following unusual dreams. Like you. Here and there, I'll pepper my accounts of you, and you, and you too, with my own tales of getting to know my new country. For now though, we are LIVE from New Zealand!

- Patricia Sexton is the author of LIVE from Mongolia, the true story of a Wall Street woman chucking in her career to become anchor of the Mongolian news—available now for pre-order on Amazon. She's also the host of Sinovision's WE Talk, a talk show exploring how artists and celebrities have overcome huge obstacles to pursue extraordinary dreams. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook where she writes about dream-followers!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Following Someone Else's Dream: Jack Zhou, the Time Traveler

Vol. II, No. 9

"Why don't you leave your baby with the villagers?" Jack Zhou asked, and I did a double-take.
Baby and I buying a crown of flowers in Yangshuo, China

"Leave her behind?" I repeated back to him, just to make sure I'd heard right. "On her own? At nine months?"

"Yes, why not?" Jack responded, doing a double-take of his own.

My husband and the baby and I had traveled from idyllic Yangshuo to Guilin, a "tiny Chinese city," in Jack's description, of "just" five million people.

To get from Yangshuo, we'd first caught a "tuk-tuk," which is a giant tricycle with a backseat and a noisy motor. It's named for the sound it makes as the engine potters slowly along the roads: "Tuk-tuk-tuk-tuk." On the way, the baby had met a brown cow she couldn't get enough of. She chattered and chattered away, as if she'd reunited with an old friend. To kill time, I bought a crown of fresh flowers from an old woman, and wore it all the way to Guilin.

The start of the climb: Longji Rice Terraces
But Guilin itself was only a stopping point. Our true destination was the past. And Jack Zhou would be the man to take us there. We'd discovered him on Trip Advisor; he's one of the highest-rated guides in the region. And it was only by luck that he'd been available at all. (As a matter of fact, while it was our good luck, it was someone else's bad luck; his other clients had had their passports stolen and thus couldn't travel.)

It's worth mentioning at this point that about half of Guilin's residents (of which Jack is one) are involved in the tourism trade. In other words, it's a crowded industry. Anyone with good business sense would know that it would be a waste of time to become 'just another tour guide,' especially if you already had a good job. 
Cliffside "bamboo rice"

Which was Jack Zhou's situation.

Back at university, Jack had studied Civil Engineering, but he hadn't been particularly interested in it. Quietly, on his own, before classes, Jack began to fervently study English. Every morning, seven days a week, from 6:00 to 8:00, Jack taught himself English. Then he spent the rest of his day at engineering classes. For three years he did this, explaining to me that, "Interest is the best teacher." Jack's interest, his passion, was communication: communication through culture, communication through travel. But, he added, "Passion surpassed even risk."

And the risk was that his parents would say no. Which they did, and for a time he ended up in that Civil Engineering career that he didn't want to be in. But one day, Jack took a leap, quit his job, and started his own tour guiding business. By this point, he'd married and had a child of his own, so the stakes were high now: he had a family to provide for.
Mrs Pan leaves me in the dust, with a much heavier pack!

And then Jack did something unusual, at least it seemed that way to me. Jack immersed himself in history. For him, doing so was just a matter of being interested. "Interest is, after all, the best teacher," he repeated once again. Knowing everything about a place, from soup to nuts, was his way of passionately communicating culture and travel.

Jack and I were in the car, driving up an endlessly winding road. My ears were popping and the atmosphere was raining mist. The higher we climbed, the cooler it got. Here and there, the road was washed out; occasionally we hit a traffic jam of chickens and roosters. At what seemed like the top, we parked the car in a lot and headed up again, this time on foot. To the Longji Rice Terraces. And as we climbed, Jack transported me from the present tense to the past.

Old Mr Chin and I talk about New York 
According to Jack, the Longji Rice Terraces were created out of necessity. Centuries ago, the Mongol Hordes were running the show in the region. As the Mongols moved in and took the choicest farmland, the local farmers were forced to move out. Farther and farther the locals moved until they had no place else to go but up, up into the hills. Of course, a hillside is not a very good place for a crop of rice to flourish, but the farmers didn't really have a choice. It was do or die, so they did, carving rice terraces into the steep hillsides. Centuries later, they're still doing what they did all those years ago, and Jack was busying himself introducing me to Longji's present-day past.

Halfway up the steady climb to the terraces, Jack stopped to buy a snack of bamboo rice. As we stood
At the top. One of Jack's passions is photography.
looking over the cliff, an old man made quick work of hollowing out a section of bamboo with a saw, and then stuffing it with rice and pork. He flopped it onto the grill and a few moments later Jack showed me how to eat it, by using a pair of chopsticks to scoop out the sticky, smoky insides. I didn't even need to ask if this was how it'd been done for many, many years.

Up and up we climbed, more and more slowly. A snake slithered across my path as a wizened old woman skipped past me. She was carrying a heavy sack of something, and she was at least a generation older than me. I stopped her; I had to know.

"How old is she?" I asked her.

Sneaking off the beaten path. Longji. 
"My name is Mrs Pan," she said. "And I am sixty-one." With that, she grinned, and heaved the pack a little higher onto her back, racing up the hillside, leaving me in the dust. I resolved to climb a little faster, but I didn't stick to my guns. The weather was cool, but the air steamed with exertion.

Finally, Jack and I reached the top. There, an old man wearing a USS naval cap called out to me, reaching for my hand. "My brother lives in New York!" he declared. "And he is a very rich man indeed," Jack translated. The old man's name was Mr Chin and he was shouting—Jack explained that he was deaf—and he had a warm smile and an infectious laugh. "Tell my brother I said hello!" Mr Chin yelled, just a few inches from my ear. I promised Mr Chin I would, if I ever met his brother.

"Would you," Jack then began, pausing as if unsure of my response, "like to go off the beaten path a little?"
Motorized tills, like this one, and cows plough the rice terraces

Did I? Did I ever!

Sneaking a glance left and right, Jack led me down a path used only by the farmers. The path took us directly to the rice paddies. Bright electric-orange and velvety violet dragonflies buzzed beside us as we picked our way carefully through the terraced farmland. We passed faucet-thin waterfalls and, eventually, a man selling bags of brittle honeycomb to the few passersby. Under the shade of the trees, it smelled of cedar. Jack and I stopped to rest, snacking on the leftover bamboo rice and sweet honeycomb, and there he told me all about rice varietals.

Jack, at rear, watches as a young villager shows off his new boots.
Admittedly, rice varietals don't much interest me. But with Jack, that was just it: he infused everything he said—from the history of a storied old place to types of rice grains—with such an omniscient passion that it wasn't difficult to find myself asking for more, even about those varietals.

But it was time to go. The sun was just beginning to set over the terraced hilltops, and we both had babies to return to. On the long drive back to Guilin, Jack fell fast asleep as I watched China roll past my window. Although I hadn't taken Jack's suggestion to leave the baby with Longji villagers, I had promised her we'd return one day when she's older. And hopefully it will be with Jack, guiding us.

(You can find Jack Zhou at Jack is the recipient of Trip Advisor's 2013 Certificate of Excellence.)

Patricia Sexton is the author of "LIVE from Mongolia," the true story of a Wall Street woman chucking in her career to become anchor of the Mongolian news—available now for pre-order on Amazon. She's also the host of Sinovision's WE Talk, a talk show exploring how artists and celebrities have overcome huge obstacles to pursue extraordinary dreams. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Following Someone Else's Dream: Some Advice on Backpacking with a Baby

Vol. II, No. 9

Dialogue with Dad, Yangshuo China
"Are you sure you want bones with your chicken?" the waitress asked a second time. My husband and the baby and I were still in Yangshuo, China, delighting in our ability to fall in love with a place and stay a few nights longer than we'd originally planned. For the first time in years, we weren't on anybody's schedule but our own.

"Of course I'm sure we want bones," I responded once again to the waitress, curious why she was challenging our palates. After all, we'd been told the "Braised Farmer Chicken" dish was best experienced in the local Yangshuo style, which was with bones.

Floating down the Yulong; singing Evita

While we waited for our dinner to arrive, my husband and I went over the week's events. We'd timed our ascent up Moon Hill to race each other up the peak. Because the baby had had to stay at home in the hotel, we'd taken turns doing this on different days. Although I lost by a long shot (my hour-and-a-half to his forty-five minutes), I'd won in other ways, just for lingering.

"Original paintings for sale" Yangshuo China

After the climb and descent, my guide Xiao Yu and I slowly cycled past roadside grave sites, where she pointed out the fluttering squares of red paper, left over from April's tomb-sweeping festival. Past a fruit field and farmers in straw hats tending to their rice crops, she introduced me to the tiny village of "Pig Hat." Of course, I'd done a double-take when she translated the village's name. 'Really?' I'd asked. 'Pig Hat?' And, yes, really the name of the village was just that.

In Pig Hat, toes of garlic hung from the ceilings of houses made from bricks of reddish-brown clay. There were twenty houses in the town, and more chickens than people. Frogs ribbitted from every nook and cranny and an old woman sat on a yellowed piece of newspaper, manning two grazing cows. This scene of someone else's home life couldn't have been more different than New York, Ohio, or anywhere else we'd lived.

Roadside tombs, Yangshuo China
On our way back from our respective adventures, we rafted downstream on the Yulong River, separately and this time without the baby. My husband drifted silently, occasionally jumping into the river (even swimming alongside a water snake). I avoided the snakes and instead drifted in song—my river guide began to hum, then sing quietly, finally belting out Chinese opera melodiously and emotionally. After a time, he asked me to respond in kind. So I did, singing what I could remember of Andrew Lloyd Weber's Evita to my audience of one. Not far off, a woman stitched needlepoint—in the middle of river rapids on a bright blue barge made of giant gasoline tanks. On the riverbanks, a couple dressed entirely in white got married.

The Town of "Pig Hat," Yangshuo China
Karst Art Gallery, Yangshuo China

And then with the baby in tow, the three of us had gone cycling. It was her first time, and she loved it, initially at least. We biked through villages, past an adobe-brick art gallery and a painter recreating the scene of the Yulong before him. We passed milkshake shops, cows, and honeypots sold out of an old army tent. We rode into an old stone village, inhabited by, at least it seemed anyway, one very old smiling man and his equally old and gregarious wife. 

All this the baby loved, until she grew tired, and then she cried until we reached home, shouting so loudly that our Chinese neighbors raised their eyebrows and smiled in sympathy. 

My husband and I remarked on all this, trying to decide which path to take next. By this point, we'd been in Yangshuo for about a week, and it was getting to be that time, that time to figure out what was next. Should we head west, to hike? Or should we go down south, to the beaches?

We'd do neither; the truth was we couldn't. Although we'd planned to "backpack" with our nine-month-old, we'd made the incredibly un-sound decision to bring suitcases. As in, heavy luggage that is rather unwieldy when paired with a writhing infant. So, I'll cue in my travel advice, and herein you'll get two-for-one:

1) Do not, under any circumstances, travel heavy when you wanted to travel light. Buy a big backpack, not a big suitcase. Wear it. Put your baby on your front, in a Baby Bjorn, and your pack on your back. You and your spine can send me postcards from the ends of the earth, thanking me for saving you both.

2) Download the app "Baby Monitor" and spend just a moment telling yourself what a bad parent you are, then turn on the app, and go downstairs to dinner while your baby sleeps quietly in your hotel room upstairs (as long as the room is close; the app needs proximity). You'll need an iPhone and an iPad for this arrangement, which sorrrrrrrta takes the fun out of "backpacking" but things change when you have a baby with you, and you might as well roll with just that.

Painter, Yangshuo China

Anyway, back to the chicken dinner!

My husband checked the "Baby Monitor" app to see that our little girl was sleeping soundly. Just as he did so, our chicken dish arrived. Right away, we understood why our waitress had resisted giving us the local version of the dish.

"It looks like," my husband paused, gathering his thoughts, "like the cook put an entire chicken into a meat grinder." Indeed, it did. In the dish were a pair of claws, a few stray feathers, and as I poked through the food with my chopsticks, I found a beak. It took some work to separate the bones from the meat, but once we did we were positively delivered, and then some. The sauce was fresh, rich, and zesty, and the chicken was tender and local.

As we ate, we both agreed: we'd move on. To Guilin. And, like many little decisions, this little decision would have a big impact: In Guilin, we'd get a chance to meet a local man who left behind his sure-thing career in order to pursue a dream that would regularly take him many centuries into the past.

Stay tuned for next week's edition!

- Patricia Sexton is the author of "LIVE from Mongolia," the true story of a woman chucking in her Wall Street career to become anchor of the Mongolian news—available now on She's also host of Sinovision's WE Talk, a talk show exploring how celebs and artists have overcome big obstacles to pursue extraordinary dreams. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook

Old man, old woman. Yangshuo, China