Hi everyone!

2021 is officially underway. 2 months down and things are already looking 100% better than last year. At this time last year, I was dodging coronavirus while vacationing on Chinese New Year, this year we have vaccines being rolled out. That is a great change to see, and I’m hoping to see many new changes within this year of 2021 as well. And another new change is the formatting of this email, let me know what you think or if you prefer the other email better. 

Speaking of change, over the past month I’ve had a sort of epiphany. As I mentioned in my last email, I plan on sending a newsletter every month to begin with. Perhaps I will send every two weeks, we will see where it goes, but I don’t want to send just spam emails; no one likes those. I want to give you all valuable content and content that I think you would enjoy. It dawned on me this past month how I think I can do that!

Instead of merely giving you a “rewind” and a “fast-forward” of what my life entails, I want to give you something more. Something that I am personally driven by. And something that spurred the creation of my first novel, The Trials of the Core. If you haven’t checked it out yet, here is the blurb and cover for you below. Clicking the image will take you to the Amazon page. 


Destiny calls to them all. Only one can seize it…

Prince Hydro Paen longs to escape his disdainful mother. So when the Guardian of the Core announces a contest to become his apprentice, the young man leaps at the invitation to participate. Determined to prove himself and uphold the family legacy, he swears not to fail.

Orphaned underdog Eirek Mourse doesn’t believe he’ll amount to much. So when his uncle encourages him to compete in the Guardian’s trials, he’s shocked to be granted acceptance. But without any skills in combat, he has no idea how he will survive.

Zain Berrese is a haunted man. Convinced he’s responsible for the death of his girlfriend, he longs to make amends by becoming the next Guardian. Hoping to outdo his adopted brother, he’s crushed when he accidentally kills his sibling just before the games begin.

With trials increasingly complex and dangerous, each young man must face his own fears as well as their crafty opponents. And with lives on the line, one of them will make an extraordinary choice…

Will one of these would-be heroes find the inner strength and wisdom to emerge a champion before they all perish?

The Trials of the Core is the first book in the gripping Guardian of the Core adventure fantasy series. If you like ensemble casts, imaginative worlds, and unpredictable twists, then you’ll love Michael E. Thies’s thrilling tale.

Just like the characters in the novel, we all go through Trials in our lives. Moments of difficulty. And those moments of difficulty often lead us to profound change, and for the characters in the novel, this is definitely true. I, myself, love Trials and challenges for it gives me something to overcome and that ever-satisfying gratification that comes after you’ve endured or succeeded. In thinking of what I could possibly give everyone as content that may help you in some way, shape, or form, I’ve decided to dedicate a section of this monthly newsletter to a segment called: The Trials we Face.

In this section, I am going to highlight one person’s struggle. Unique or mundane doesn’t matter because every moment of adversity we have changes us, in fact, as the Roman poet Horace once said:

After summarizing this struggle, the person is going to divulge how this particular challenge changed them. What did he or she learn from the challenge? Is there any advice to anyone who is potentially going through the same thing? And is there a motivational quote that sums up the challenge or something that got that individual through that moment of adversity?

To start things off, I feel that it’s only right to share with you all one of my personal struggles that I overcame.

The Trials we Face

- February Spotlight: Me 

Back in 2015 I embarked on my first journey to live overseas. At this moment in time, I had just graduated from university and wanted to gain international experience, language experience, and just have a year abroad before starting the routine work of the 9-5—or, for teachers, the 7 to 3—working hours. I left for South America and lived in Santiago, Chile for one year.

Where is the adversity? Well, what if I told you that South America has this culture where they don’t hire you until you are there? Also, what if I told you that I didn’t know Spanish, and that the last time I had spoken it had been six years previous? All of those things are true. I went to South America with a little bit of money in my saving’s account, no job lined up, hardly any Spanish ability (I could say hola, como estas?), and only four nights in a hostel.

What happened?

I thrived! I managed to make great Chilean friends who I still speak to after 5 years of being apart. I met some great foreigner friends who I still talk with to this day and three of them are actually living near me in China right now in different cities. I learned how to be truly independent, meaning how to use public transportation, how to negotiate and barter for goods, how to speak Spanish—well, Chilean—how to handle working in the teacher environment down in South America.

Now this isn’t to say that everything was great. It wasn’t. For example, to complicate things further, the month before I went down to Santiago, the visa requirements changed and so I could no longer just work on a tourist visa, I needed a worker’s permit. However, I did not budget this into my savings account and so I ended up working illegally the year I was down there. In order to bypass the system I had to leave the country every 90. I turned this potential pitfall into an opportunity to explore more of South America, so I visited Argentina (1st picture, Iguazu Falls), Ecuador (2nd picture, The Equator or "Mitad del Mundo"), Bolivia (3rd picture, the famous Salt Flats), Brazil. In truth, it was a way better opportunity than having a work visa. 

After my year was over, I came back to North America with a totally different view. And, an interesting note about that, if you ask any Chilean where they are from they will say “America” and not specify South. In fact, they are taught in their high schools that there are only six continents, not seven. They don’t see America as North or South, they just see it as America and it’s rude to claim that one is from “North” America.

Throughout my other travels I have taken while living in Asia, I have always managed to run into Chileans. I spot them out due to their unique accent and when I start speaking to them about Chile, they get so excited and are some of the warmest people you can ever encounter. Truly, my year down there was absolutely amazing and it proved to me that I didn’t need anyone else for support, I had myself.

My advice to anyone about to make a major move like this, I would say: Just Do It. Obviously, make a list of the pros and cons, but for me, there weren’t any serious cons. Chile was the safest country in South America with the most stable economy (and it still is). I was single, so I didn’t have a relationship holding me back. If I went down and gathered international teaching experience, it would make my resume stand out to future employers. I could gain fluency in Spanish. The cons? I would be away from friends and family for a year. But, hey, that’s why they have Skype!

The main thing I want to mention is: I didn’t overthink it. If worse came to worse, I would purchase a flight back and start my life in the States, but that didn’t happen and I got to meet some of the nicest and coolest individuals in my life, I got to eat avocado for incredibly cheap prices (they grow them in Chile so it’s cheap. 3 whole avocados for a dollar), and I experienced many firsts in my life while there.

A quote that I want to share with everyone, that probably many of you have heard of is one from Henry Ford that goes: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” And this is so true. We are our own limitations, and I know many of my friends who are scared to take that leap of faith, but that’s what we need to do sometimes. Just like Grace did in the novella you all signed up with this newsletter, she had faith in her beliefs that she could walk on water and she did in order to escape her husband.

Current Book Reads

I am currently reading this book right now for my Master’s Program in Digital Strategy and it’s a great book. It gives a very unique perspective on how to shape your brand and build it like author’s build their stories. Truly, it is a fantastic read and the set up and implementation of this can go a long way in branding anything that you do whether it is your business, a line of products, or even yourself. Click the image to be taken to the amazon sales page! (I'm not an affiliate, just a person who wants to recommend good reads.)


This is more of a request than it is a question. I would love for more stories about adversity. If you have a story of adversity that you would like to share, please respond to this email and let me know. I can send you a form that you can fill out and your story will eventually be featured on one of these emails. I’m doing this because I think we can all learn from one another and we have more to share than meets the eye. I want us to grow together, and so I appreciate any and all support I get for the Trials we Face.

I look forward to hearing about your own personal Trials.

And until next month, don’t overthink. Just do it. Bypass those barriers that you impose upon yourself.

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