10 Years a Blogger

I rarely have given a thought to how long I’ve been blogging, but this past weekend it struck me that it was 10 years ago this month that I first started out. Ten years? How did that happen? That’s a lot of writing under the bridge. 

Some readers may remember that my first blog was I’m Losing It Here, all about our family’s efforts to get out of debt along with me (once again) trying to lose weight. I started the blog because I thought that writing about the process would help me stay honest, motivated and on track. More for my own sake than any other reason, I blogged about our ups and downs, what we were learning along the way, and eventually even shared a frugal recipe or two. Writing about that journey truly kept me sane, and I learned much along the way, not only about the process of ridding ourselves of debt, but about myself as well. I can’t begin to tell how surprised I was though to discover one day that others had somehow found I’m Losing It Here and were actually reading what I had to say. And, some were sticking around to read more. And then following me! And commenting too! As a beginning blogger you hope to attract readers, but when you actually do . . . WOW!

Getting ourselves out of debt, according to Dave Ramsey, should have taken 11 months. It actually took over three years because stuff happens, especially when you have three kids at home, but in 2013 Brett was able to retire (something we initially had no idea could happen), and we had segued into getting ready to move to Hawai’i, to the island of Kaua’i. The blog segued as well to Noho’ana Hau’ole: Life Is Good, which chronicled our steps in downsizing, selling our stuff, selling our house, and finally making our big move in June of 2014. Once again, writing kept me focused and on track as we completed our goals and set new ones every month along with everything else that went along with making such a big move. 

Once in Hawai’i, the blog changed again, this time because WordPress initially refused to coordinate with our new IP provider. The View From the Treehouse, named after the views from our first house on Kaua’i, focused on adjusting to life on a small island in the middle of the ocean and about all that beautiful little piece of rock had to offer. Brett came on board as well to add articles about his hikes around the island. The View sadly ended when the hosting company charged me more than double for my second year than what I had paid for the domain when I set it up.

And thus it was back to WordPress, and The Occasional Nomads came to be. I wasn’t ready to stop writing; in fact, at this point, I realized I almost needed to write more than wanted to write, and it was time once again to change my blogging’s focus and direction. While continuing to write about our life on Kaua’i, I also wanted to write about travel. Brett and I have always loved to travel, but at that time we were still in the dreaming stage about trips we might take once all our little birds had left the nest. Little did I guess when I started The Occasional Nomads that he and I would become actual full-time nomads, but as the saying goes, here we are. And what a ride it’s been! I know we’ll eventually slip back into being truly occasional nomads once again, and that I’ll be blogging about it, but we’re not there yet.

Back in the dark ages, in my senior year of high school, my English instructor predicted that I would someday write The Great American Novel. I’ve thought about it over the years, of writing about the daily minutia of life, the dreams, the goals, the small and the great struggles, and the successes and failures that regular people endure or celebrate every day as they create and make a life. But a novel isn’t in me. So instead I’ve documented the life I’ve made, the life I’m still creating, and the dreams we’re fulfilling. As our son once said, I like the sound of my own voice. It’s why I’m going to keep writing.

And to all who have found me and kept reading over the years, thank you. Without your validation, blogging over the years would have been nothing more than shouting into the wind. As most teachers will tell you, we always get back as much if not more from our students than we give out in the classroom, and it’s been the same with blogging – I feel like I’ve received far more over the years from readers than what I’ve produced. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of you and becoming friends for life. Your kindness, support, and advice (and putting up with numerous typos, misspelled and misplaced words) have meant the world to me. I hope you’ll all stick around to see what happens next.

I’ve Been Moved To the Injured Roster

My lovely multi-colored, swollen, and very sore left hand.

Last Sunday evening I took a bit of a tumble during Brett’s and my walk. I was looking over at the remnants of a fair/festival that had been going on in the park by the side of the beach path and not watching my feet, and my right foot caught the edge of the path and boom! Down I went. I fell pretty hard too, but thankfully my head hit the grass and not the concrete path. My hand and rib were not so lucky.

I felt OK enough after the fall to finish our walk, and felt kind of banged up in the evening. But when I woke up Monday morning . . . yowza! My hand was swollen, bruised and hurt something fierce, and my chest hurt like crazy too, including when I breathed. So, off to the ER we went.

The bad news was I have a hairline fracture on the side of my finger. It’s not a major injury, but I’m splinted up for the next couple of weeks while it heals. The good news (?) was that while I didn’t fracture a rib, I did bruise one pretty badly. The doctor said it will heal faster than a fracture, but be more painful at first.

I’m typing this with one hand (and making lots of mistakes), so other than a post I had already put together for tomorrow I’m going to take a blogging break for around a week or so, and then will reassess how I’m doing, Poor Brett – once again he will be taking on almost all of the household chores, plus helping me dress, etc. for a while.

Life can change in a moment, but I’m so grateful and fortunate the injuries weren’t worse. I’m also very thankful for our insurance – between Medicare and Tricare For Life everything is 100% covered.

While I won’t be actively blogging I’ll still answer comments, and hope you’ll give me some time to get to them (and not expect the answers to be too detailed).

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

A Domain of Our Own

The Occasional Nomads has finally made the big time – we have our own domain!

And, we have a new web address: http://theoccasionalnomads.com

We ran out of space on the (free) blog on Monday, so I purchased an upgrade from WordPress with more storage. The upgrade also removed all the ads that WordPress was placing on the site. Brett and I have no plans to monetize the blog so the site will now be completely ad free!

You’ll still be able to reach the site from the old web address, but the new one will hopefully be easier to remember.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

A Different Look for The Occasional Nomads

Yes, we’re still The Occasional Nomads, but with a new look!

I felt like I needed a change this week, so I’m trying out a different design for the blog. I’m going to give it a few days and see how I like it, and how readers like it.

I’m not sure yet how I feel about the blog’s name being downsized in the upper left corner, but I do like the new picture (taken in Kyoto) and the themes of the blog being highlighted on the splash photo. It’s different without being too different.

Let me know what you think! The design change was free, so I’m not out anything for trying it out, and easily can go back to what I had before.

Fall Break

A Rainbow Shower tree: Hawaii's attempt at fall color
A rainbow shower tree: Hawaii’s attempt at fall color

YaYu is off from school this week for fall break, and I’ve decided to take the week off from blogging as well. I’m working on several posts, but to be honest it’s difficult writing when I’m lying on my back, and I can only sit up for a short time so that doesn’t work very well either. I feel like I need some time off.

Don’t go away – I’ll be back next Sunday afternoon!

Tanned, Rested and Ready to Blog Again

IMG_2781

Thanks for letting me have a little time off! I spent my “vacation” reflecting on the blog, and how I saw it going forward or at times, or if I even wanted to continue. I honestly felt that I was drifting further and further away from the direction I had intended for The Occasional Nomads when I began it last year, as well as dragging myself into a rut I wasn’t going to be able to climb out of. I wasn’t sure if the ennui I was experiencing was because I had lost interest in blogging, or because I had somehow headed off in the wrong direction.

What I did figure out was that I didn’t want to stop writing, but some changes were definitely in order.

Some things around here are going to stay the same, but others will be eliminated, combined or changed. For example, aspects of Feel Good Friday, which I loved writing each week, will now be folded into the Sunday Afternoon post. That has always been my favorite post to write each week, and I’ve always gotten good feedback about it. The Weekly Menu Plan will continue as well, but I want to incorporate more recipes, thoughts about healthy eating, and a bit more about food shopping here on Kaua’i rather than just listing what we’ll be eating for dinner during the week. I’m going to shift the day for the menu post from Monday to Wednesday though since that’s the day Brett and I shop at the farmers’ market, and our weekly menu is somewhat based on what we find there.

I’m also going to be adding some new, occasional features to the blog. One will be A Postcard From: XXX, small photo vignettes and write-ups about a particular place or site we have visited on our travels. As Brett and I continue to get out and travel more, I also want to include more information about how we bring it off, from saving to buying airfare to finding lodging, restaurants, local transportation, and so forth. We’re not travel experts by any means, but I’m hoping some of our experiences can be helpful for someone else.

I’m also an unabashed collector, and also fascinated by what others collect, so I plan to occasionally post pictures and information about some of the many things I’ve gathered over the years (and that made the cut to move with us to Kaua’i). I hope they’ll help give you some additional insights into who I am and what I like.

Laura_Mary_bartnikowski

Finally, I am super excited that my good friend, Mary Bartnikowski – photographer extraordinaire, world traveler, writer and educator – will begin contributing to the blog as well. Mary is the author of four books, is an award-winning photographer in both the Silicon Valley and worldwide, and has led programs at Stanford, Apple, Intel and other global sites. She has traveled solo to 32 countries, and circled the world twice, buying one-way tickets along the way (and was almost crushed to death by elephants in Nepal, but thankfully survived 🙂 ). Along with her gorgeous photographs, Mary will writing about her Kaua’i experiences and insights, as well as educating us about what she does here on Kaua’i. Mary, Brett and I will all be posting to a new feature we’re calling #Kaua’i. These posts will highlight different aspects of our beautiful island, from sunsets to hiking trails to beaches to restaurants and other goings on. Mary will also be offering photo and travel tips along the way.

So, here we go – I’m looking forward to writing and sharing again!

In the Weeds

blahNow that our offer has been accepted, we are deep in the weeds of the loan application process and my brain already feels fried. Escrow has been set up, earnest money deposited, and we got pre-approved for the loan. But, things have come to a screeching halt otherwise because . . .

. . . Oregon is apparently going to take their sweet time processing my retirement. My official retirement date was September 1 (application received August 7), and although the retirement is supposed to be processed within 62 days, it can take up to 92 days. No benefit letter will be available until the retirement is processed, and without the benefit letter we can only go so far with the loan. So, we are keeping our fingers crossed for a miracle, that the retirement actually gets done this month.

To top it all off, I don’t feel so hot either. Not sure what’s up but I just feel blah.

Anyway, posting this week is going to be sporadic, at least until I feel better. I’ll be back though.

Fourth Time’s a Charm

188220757187dae32adb3af278d41724So here I am with my fourth blog. My fourth!

What can I say? Blogging the past few years has helped me keep track of life and stay on track with our dreams, plans and goals, but as the focus of our lives keeps evolving and changing so have the blogs. We’ve paid off our debt (I’m Losing It Here), downsized and moved ourselves to Kaua’i (Noho’Ana Hau’ole), and settled in to our new life on the Garden Island (The View From the Treehouse). Along the way I’ve learned more than I imagined, not just about other people and places, but most especially about myself, about what makes me happy, and about what I want to do in the future.

If you have followed any of my other blogs you know that I am a finisher. I don’t just dream. I set goals. I plan. And then I execute the plan and go for the finish line.

It wasn’t always that way though. I grew up internalizing a message from my family that I was unserious, scatterbrained, silly, unable to finish anything. Because I was supposedly incapable of making a decision my parents and others made decisions and plans for me, but more to accomplish their own dreams and preconceptions, not mine. What I wanted to do carried little validity because what did I know?  And of course others’ opinion of me was always validated because for some reason I never seemed to finish anything I started.

Then, in 1977 I did something totally crazy. Without telling anyone I enlisted in the navy in order to take advantage of the then-existing GI Bill benefits. Bets were made that I wouldn’t even finish boot camp let alone make my way in the armed forces. However, as difficult as boot camp was (and it was awful), I was determined to not only finish on time but do well, and I did. Most importantly I also learned, beyond anything my time in the navy taught me, that when I set my own goals, follow my own dreams and make my own plans I follow through and accomplish what I set out to do. I am not a quitter, and I can accomplish any goal I set for myself (although the jury is still out on maintaining a weight loss).

Whether it was adopting our three daughters, paying off our debt or moving our family to Hawai’i, Brett and I have not only dreamed, but made concrete plans for reaching our goals, and then worked those plans. The path to accomplishing our goals hasn’t always been a straight line, or without its issues and setbacks, but we have always kept going and adjusted as necessary. And here we are, parents of four wonderful children, retired and living our dream on Kaua’i!

Our move to Kaua’i is not the end but the beginning of a new stage for us. We’re still dreaming, setting goals, and making plans. We’re in the beginning phases of thinking about how we will accomplish all we want to do and what we will need to accomplish in this next phase of our lives. In just three years our youngest daughter will graduate from high school and head off to college. And after she flies away, so will we. Beautiful Kaua’i will remain our home base, but we are looking forward to becoming Occasional Nomads, spending time in Japan every year near our son and his family and also visiting other parts of the world.

Until then we will be figuring out not only what we want to do, but where we want to go, how we want to do it, what we need to get there and how we will afford to not only travel but get three girls through college. Our income will be fluctuating for the next couple of years as the girls move on and my retirement benefits are added in. It’s going to be a bumpy ride for a while, but we have been there, done that and will adjust as necessary and keep going.

The Occasional Nomads will continue with updates from Kaua’i, and both the Sunday Afternoon and Feel Good Friday posts will continue as well. Brett will also be joining me here this time around, contributing posts about his hikes around Kaua’i, and his upcoming trip back to the mainland. His voice will be a valuable addition to our ongoing retirement story, and I’m thrilled he’s agreed to join me this time.

Many thanks to all of you for coming along – I hope you’ll enjoy this latest ride!