Confession: I am 41 & on food stamps

I recently watched one of Gary Vee’s videos and at the end of it he asks a question something like: “What’s the conversation that you are most scared of having in the world?”

Is it with your parents, your relationship, etc. He suggests that letting the world know that may clear the kink in your pipes.

Time to expose some of my dirt.

The truth is I am broke and stuck here in San Francisco. I can’t manage to save money and I have to pay high rent. I can’t seem to escape.

I have been getting food stamps pretty much since I have been here.

I usually make most of my money by street performing. I often make less than minimum wage.

I owe $28,000 in student loans. It’s hard to keep up with interest. I started with $30,000 in loans and my grandmother paid off a big chunk of money then I had $17,000, but unpaid interest grew it back to $34,000.

Some might say get another job. You see that’s part of the problem. My resume is kinda shitty now after spending 6+ years out of the country and street performing for 3+.

On top of that. I don’t really want a “resume” or a job.

Because I never found one that I liked. Every job was a means to an end. Something I did to get somewhere else.

I guess I always wanted to do my own thing. My parents were never like that. They were practical people.

For a long time it was art for me and that was what I wanted to do with my life. Make art. Then I got burn’t out on painting. Maybe I gave up too soon. IDK, but I wanted to travel so I did.

Pretty much spending any money I earned on it. Since then I have lived in 7 different States and in 3 different countries.

In 2009 I started my project ESLinsider. It wasn’t until the end of 2010 that it got online with videos and an ebook. I tried selling a subscription to the videos.

That failed and approximately one person paid. Then I made the videos free and then like a year later or so I was making $80 a month with ads. I never made more than that with ads.

I decided to make it a course and for a few years I averaged maybe $300+ a month from it in donations or paid courses. Just last year I had one month where I made $1700.

But the month that followed was like zero. When I told my dad that he snickered. Over the last 3 months or so it’s been pretty bad.

Sometimes I wonder if I should quit. I have been doing this for 7 years! And I can not support myself with it. I mean I probably wouldn’t totally erase the site, but just change my focus.

I think that’s what I am doing and that’s why I changed my Youtube channel name from ESL Insider to Ian Leahy.

I have gone back and forth about that and starting a new channel.

Being 41 

It’s not that different from when I was 26. Seriously my life hasn’t changed much. On some levels it has (like instead of snowboarding I am passionate about jiu-jitsu & instead of painting I am more into the music thing), but not by usual standards.

Most people are married, have a career and kids.

Not me. I don’t really desire those things. Sometimes I think I’d like a relationship, but kinda fear it and getting attached to someone. Japan is where I want to move to next and I kinda think getting into a relationship is not really going to help that.

Also I don’t think many women are interested in a street performer who’s on food stamps.

As far as kids go I still think the same thing I thought way back when and that was maybe when I am older.

Like when I was 26 I was all about getting to next place – a better place. I am not sure if it’s searching or exploring. I just get bored with places so the same could happen with Japan, but if I don’t do it I’ll regret it. I don’t want to be 50, 60, 70 saying, “what if?”

But at this rate I won’t get there until something changes or rather I change something. I guess the point of this post was just to share some of the things that get swept under the rug.

Jiu-jitsu wear and tear you’ll probably get

In this video I cover the different kinds of wear and tear most people get from jiu-jitsu (bjj) and judo. The topics I cover are fingers, bruises, scrapes and cauliflower ear.

Your fingers will get beat up a bit from grabbing the gi. They will get a little raw around the knuckles at first. Over time you will develop calluses on your top knuckles.

I think everyone will get this unless you do no gi.

Some people don’t bruise, but I do. I tend to get bruises on my legs and arms.

Toe injuries are common too and one thing you’ll probably get are scrapes on your feet from the mat.

Cauliflower ear is also common amongst grapplers. I noticed recently that I have a little in my right ear and I wear a head piece most of the time.

You are NOT homeless if you live in your car

I recently saw a bunch of videos on Youtube where people sort of said they were “homeless” but lived in their cars. Then there was another video that really looked down on people who lived in their cars/vans after 2008.

But you are not homeless if you have a car and live in it.

On a positive note your mobile and living frugally. It’s not a house but it’s some place to go to that you can also take with you.

There’s a lot of homeless people here in San Francisco that live on the street. They don’t have a car, job or any way of making money.

That is what real homelessness is.

How much money do street performers make?

Are you wondering how much money street performers or buskers make? I can only speak for myself. I think a lot of people lie or don’t want to tell the truth about what they make.

I asked a few in San Francisco before I started and they didn’t seem to want to tell me, one did and another I think told me a lie. Then I found a video on Youtube with the title “Make $800 a day as a street performer”.

That’s a good click bait title. But obviously a lie if you watch the video and read the comments.

It really depends on you and what you do and how you do it. I make anywhere from $0 an hour to $20 an hour. But really most of the time the average is probably a bit less than $10 an hour.

It’s not lucrative for the most part. I have made over $130 bucks in a day on several occasions, but that came with like 7-8+ hours worth of work.

Some days suck and I might go out there and spend an hour and make no money.

It’s also up and down and erratic. A lot of it can depend on the time of the year, the time of the day and day of the week. Relatively few people tip (a small percent).

The more of a crowd that you can gather, the more you ask for money then the more money you can make.

How To Meditate – Using Your Breath

Here is a simple guide on how to meditate using your breath. This is a basic meditation. One of the first things that you will need is an alarm.

If you are just starting off I’d say it’s best to start with a few minutes. Let’s say 5 minutes for starters or you could try two if that’s daunting.

I have practiced yoga for 16 years and have been meditating about 40 minutes a day since 2009-ish.

I highly recommend that you start it now and remain disciplined about your practice.

It’s like anything if you want results you have to be consistent.

You breath controls your emotional state. Your breathing is different if you are happy vs. angry or depressed vs. calm.

So to meditate:

  1. Sit somewhere comfortable.
  2. Straighten your back.
  3. Relax your body and face.
  4. Inhale slowly through your nose.
  5. Pause.
  6. Exhale slowly through your nose.
  7. Continue until your alarm goes off.

The Best Advice I heard Today From Gary V.

I have been watching a lot of his videos lately. Today I was watching this one and the wisest words were his last. At least for me.

So wise I have played this 3 times and now I am going to write it down for memory and play it again.

“When you start tripling down on what you are and what you’re good at many better things start happening…

Don’t try to do what you think is the right move. Don’t do what you think is the biggest money making opportunity. Do the things that you have always done since you were a kid and triple down and 10x down on that.”

I thought the last 3-4 minutes was pretty interesting.

CAUTION: My New Street Performing Costume

I have been working on a new costume behind the scenes. I have been in love with caution tape for quite some time. It looks cool and I like the colors. I saw some pics of people making caution tape dresses out of that and duck tape.

My new costume

They stitched it together. I don’t have any sewing skills or a sewing machine. So I had to come up with a different solution.

The other thing was I had been looking for a one piece suite for a long time. I actually had two different flight suits that I only used like once or twice. They were orange and I tried dying and painting on them and only ruined them.

They weren’t that comfortable either. I made this with a temporary coverall suit that you can get in the hardware store for like $14. It’s pretty cheap and like paper.

So how I did it was like this.

  1. I got double sided carpet tape.
  2. I got caution tape.
  3. I stuck the double sided tape to the coveralls.
  4. I then stuck the caution tape to the double sided tape.

It sounds easy, but it was not. That carpet tape is super sticky. There were wrinkling problems when applying the caution tape.

I was thinking the blue would look good with the yellow tape. But to cover the whole suit in that is going to take a lot of time and money – like $50 in carpet tape.

I have been thinking yellow and black for a long time and since the suit was still white I think painting my face white with the white hair looks cooler and more uniform. However, the white paint sucks. The blue paint is from the same company, but feels a lot better and comes off easier.

I haven’t actually been performing much out on the streets. And I don’t know if making a new costume will actually make me want to do that more. Probably not.

It’s cool to make stuff, but I my interest in doing what I have been doing is waning and has been. It’s kinda like…

Plastic surgery

They say plastic surgery has effects that only last temporarily. It might give you a boost in the short term, but you can’t see how you look. You essentially feel the same and you’ll soon feel like you did before you got the surgery which makes the whole point of getting plastic surgery in first place pointless.

Maybe it’s more about the process than the final product. I enjoy making stuff sometimes. Time flew by when I was making that suit.

Press play

I have about 4 of these signs that I have made. That one with the yellow costume there I originally made to put a phone camera in it, so I could capture the goofy things that people do sometimes. But the quality of the footage I got was pretty crappy.

It turned out that this one actually matches the suite, but sometimes I just think of getting rid of the whole push play thing. That’s another story.

I have thought of doing some artwork on mannequins. It might actually be more fun to make, paint and dress up mannequins than it would be to pretend to be one. Then take those out in the streets with me.

I have a lot of ideas for street performing, but there is a practicality and cost issue with a lot of them. If it’s difficult to get your stuff out there then you’re not going to want to do it.

caution tape street performer

ESLinsider’s 10 Most Popular YouTube Videos

ESLinsider.com is a resource for those interested in teaching English abroad. It provides resources such as how-to videos, online TEFL courses, guides and a blog. It’s also a place where you can find out what’s it like teaching and living in Eastern Asia: China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

It has a strong presence on Youtube with over 200 videos and over a 1,200,000 views between two channels. This post will take a look at the 10 most popular videos.

Most of the videos are how-to videos shot in the classroom. The other videos posted here have to do with culture, money, advice from teachers and teaching ESL without a degree.

1. The Preview – ESLinsider’s 1st Video On Youtube


This video and another longer version were the first to go on Youtube in 2010. This video was a preview of the videos that went on Youtube and on the site. It shows a sample of some of the how-to videos.

This video is a preview of 3 of the how-to videos.

  1. The first one is an icebreaker called “Categramble” that can be used with lower intermediate to advanced students.
  2. The second one is called “One Hand, Two Hands”. This is a listening activity that is used here to tell the difference between plural and singular nouns. It can be used with all levels.
  3. The third one is called “Whispers”. This is a speaking activity that works well with younger students through elementary school and sometimes even older.

This video contains footage from a public school in Changwon, South Korea and a kindergarten in Busan.

By the numbers since 2010:

  • 163,000+ views
  • 220+ likes
  • 73+ shares

“Nice video with very cute kids^^ What is the name of the song at the end of the video? Loved it! :) ” – Leyl’s comment

This video is on a channel that was discontinued. The following videos are placed on ESLinsider’s main channel.

2. Teaching English To Kids in 5 Fun Steps


I took some time to make this one. My goal was to make it informative and fun. This video takes you through a lesson plan and gives you some structure as well as some ideas for class in a fun way.

The majority of the how-to videos were uploaded in 2011 this one was later in 2014 and it’s growing fast. At this rate this video will become the most popular video ESLinsider has on Youtube.

This video was filmed in a kindergarten in Busan, South Korea.

By the numbers since 2014:

  • 153,000+ views
  • 286 likes
  • 191 shares

“Amazing!!! I have my very first day teaching kids on a EFL context in Nicaragua! I’m pretty sure they will love a class like this one! Thanks!” – iMedia’s comment

3. “Teacher Says” – A Warm-up/TPR Activity For Kids


This activity can be used as a warm up for kids or it can be used for teaching body parts and actions as well. It works well with young kids. If you can’t get them to make a mistake then that probably means they are too old for it or their level is too high.

In my experience it works until about 3rd or 4th grade.

This was filmed in a kindergarten in Busan, South Korea.

By the numbers since 2011:

  • 102,000+ views
  • 78+ likes
  • 50+ shares

“Loved it! Good strategy to teach human’s body parts!” – Shimeny Soares comment

4. “Line Up” – An Icebreaker


“Line Up” is an icebreaker that will work well on the first day of class. It’s a simple getting to know you activity with a twist.

This video was filmed in a public elementary school in Changwon, South Korea. As you can see the students here were adults. They were in fact parents of some of the children that I taught. There was an adult class once a week.

By the numbers since 2011:

  • 75,000+ views
  • 41+ likes
  • 26+ shares

“Great job!!!!!” – Cesar’s comment

5. “Sprite” – A Simple Vocabulary Activity


Sprite is a simple and effective game that works well with practicing vocabulary. Students get a chance to practice writing, speaking, and listening. It’s also fun too as they kids get to move around which is important.

This video was filmed in a public elementary school in Changwon, South Korea. These children were mostly in the fourth grade. I think some were in the 5th grade too.

By the numbers since 2011:

  • 48,000+ views
  • 58 likes
  • 39 shares

6. Why The Obsession With Asian Women


Did you know that according to some studies Asian women and white men are considered the most attractive by most people of different races?

By the numbers since 2012:

  • 44,000+ views
  • 173+ likes
  • 391+ comments
  • 20 shares

7. “Pass The Bag” – Vocabulary Game


This was another popular game for teaching vocabulary. It uses music which can be fun and refreshing. This video was filmed in a kindergarten in Busan.

By the numbers since 2011:

  • 43,000+ views
  • 62+ likes
  • 40+ shares

“Haha, they are sooo cute! And he is great at giving dynamic classes!” – Ursula’s comment

8. How much money can I make teaching English in Asia?


This video talks about how much money you can make teaching English in Northeast Asia. It specifically talks about hourly wages and salaries for teachers in South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and China.

I share my experience and how much I made teaching.

By the numbers since 2011:

  • 30,000+ views
  • 123 likes
  • 12 shares
  • 169 comments

A little note…

Some videos that I didn’t post here were a bit more popular in terms of views.

Such as:

However, there a few videos that are growing faster that were added later like the last 2 on this list. So I have included them here. I also thought they would add a little variety to this post.

9. Advice On Teaching Abroad From 26 ESL Teachers


I interviewed about 30 ESL teachers in China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan. One of the questions that I asked them was if they had any advice for newcomers. Here they share it.

By the numbers since 2014:

  • 26,000+ views
  • 170 likes
  • 34 shares

10. Teaching English In Asia Without A Degree Or As A Non-Native Speaker

This video talks about teaching in Asia without a degree or if you are not a native English speaker. Those are the two main requirements (degree + native speaker) that you usually need to teach there.

Teaching without those requirements can be illegal and sometimes it isn’t. It largely depends on how you get your visa. There are some loopholes to that.

I am also not advocating that or not, but rather just telling it like it is. It can be illegal and there are risks, but that being said most teachers abroad probably taught illegally at least once.

Read more about teaching English in Asia without a degree.

There are other videos with more views than this, but this one is newer and growing.

By the numbers since 2015:

  • 15,000+ views
  • 67+ likes
  • 7+ shares

So what other kinds of videos will you find there?

Most videos are how-to videos. You’ll find instruction and ideas on:

  • Lesson planning
  • Warm-up and icebreakers
  • Vocabulary games and activities
  • Sentence/Q&A games and activities
  • Teaching tips
  • Teaching numbers, reading, writing, etc.
  • Classroom management and more

All of these videos can be found on the site and you’ll also find written instructions below the video that you won’t find on Youtube. They are also organized better on the site.

You can catch the latest blog updates, get feeds from other teachers in Asia by following ESLinsider on Twitter. You can also read reviews of ESLinsider’s online TEFL courses.

Mike Clough – My Memories Of The Daredevil Extraordinaire

I just heard Mike Clough passed away. I don’t know how, but man I wished I had seen him in recent years. My last memories of him were from high school and a bit after circa ’93, ’94, ’95 or so when I last saw him. I have some wild memories of him though.

Here’s some of what I remember:

Mike was a strong guy and had guts like no other and was definitely a thrill seeker. Most of my vivid memories of him involve doing such things like that.

I remember he had this old black Nova SS that he was working on. There was this one day that we took it out for a spin down that dirt road in Woodsville near Wanda Downer’s house. It might have been Swiftwater road??? there by the Ammonoosuc. But we were going like 50 MPH down this dirt road and then he decides to jump off the side of the road into the corn field.

We couldn’t see anything except a wall of green and big ol’ corn stalks. I was shitting my pants and he was laughing as we plowed through all those corn stalks and then jumped back onto the road totally Dukes of Hazzard style.

He had another toy for a while too. It was like a white and blue Honda CBR 600. He used to do wheelies down main street in Woodsville. There was this day that he came and picked me up in Monroe on it and we were heading down route 5 on those straights at 135 MPH. I just felt like if I lifted my head a bit I was going to blow off the back of it.

Then there were the times we would go to the train trestle bridge in Woodsville and jump off. He was the first to show me that spot. What’s that 40-45 feet? Nutty again. Then there was this day Scott Clark decided to do it. He wanted to wear his socks for some reason and when he jumped his sock got caught on that plank and we watched him drop all that distance and land on his side. Hilarious!

There was another bridge in Monroe/Barnet and I remember him and Joe Williams decided to jump off in May. These guys didn’t pause a second and just like ran off it looking very cool and ballsy, so I had to do it too… And when I did I remember hitting that water,  it was so cold and I panicked. I thought I wasn’t even going to make it to the shore, lol^^. Meanwhile Joe and Mike were laughing at me there on the river bank.

There was this other time with Alia and the 3 of us were under the influence of something… We were down by the McIndoe falls bridge and Mike suddenly gets inspired to bolt up the side of the trestle. He gets nearly to the higher part of the end, freaks out, starts laughing and climbs backwards down. It looked nuts.

One of the most memorable crazy, beautiful moments I ever had was with this guy. I think the three of us Alia, Mike and I were out driving around near Ryegate, VT. There had been this crazy lighting and thunder storm and we went to Tickle Naked Pond.

Being the geniuses that we were we decided it would be a great idea to go swimming. It was night time and there we were standing in the pond up to our waists in water watching this insane lighting and thunder show. It was awesome. It had stopped raining and you could see the reflection of the lighting in the water. We were both in awe of this awesome planet and the show we were getting.

I remember standing side by side in that water looking at him and saying something like if we had to die now this would be the perfect time to go. There were handshakes and I think there was a bit of howling perhaps. It was one of those “I love you man” moments. Then I remember Alia in the car calling us morons or something and we finally got out.

Those are some of my most vivid memories of Mike. There were others too. There were other bridges, parties and other exploratory missions out in the woods. Despite some of the trouble he sometimes hung out with I remembered my mom always liked him a lot and thought he was kind.

I wish I saw you when I was back in NH last Mike. I remembered one of the last things you said to me – that you were going to come out west and visit me someday.

I hope you still do.

From hot to cold and why cold showers are better

This guy made me feel like a wimp. You can see him there taking an ice bath. I watched some of his videos on mental toughness. And that’s why I started taking cold showers.

markdevine-icebath

I think this guy Mark Devine an ex-Navy Seal was the first one to give me the idea.

Then I started reading that some athletes and UFC fighters would take a cold bath or shower after a workout.

I figured I had some discipline, but cold showers just seemed impossible. Why would I want to do that? I like hot showers. They’re relaxing and comforting.

But the idea of mental toughness is appealing and goes along with another idea I have been exposed to lately in jiu-jitsu of being comfortable in an uncomfortable position. Like just trying to relax and be patient when you are in a bad position. To not freak out and panic.

Just relax you’ve been here before, you can get out.

I guess it’s the same with showers. It’s cold, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s temporary just relax, you’ll get used to it and then you can get out.

Here are some benefits of taking cold showers:

  1. It increases alertness
  2. It’s good for your hair and skin
  3. Helps circulation
  4. Weight loss
  5. Decreases muscle soreness
  6. Decreases depression
  7. Decreases stress
  8. Increases testosterone in men

How I have been doing it

I just start as normal. I shower and wash and then when I am done I gradually turn the heat down until there isn’t any. And I enjoy??? the cold water for a couple of minutes.

I pulled a muscle in my back the other day and initially pointed the hot water on that spot for a while and then turned it to cold for a few minutes.

It definitely had an icing effect and the pain did go away for a while.

I’ll keep it up.