The Next Three Years I know I keep writing about what we’re dreaming about for the future, but what about the three intervening years between now and 2018?

Here’s what we’ll be focusing on for the next three years:

  1. Get WenYu and YaYu through high school and launched off to college. This is our top priority. Meiling is already on her way, and this next year WenYu will be applying to colleges and for scholarships. YaYu has just three more years of high school to go before she leaves our nest, but she is already thinking about where she wants to go to college and what she needs to do to get there.
  2. Save. I will outline this more in the future, but we have a heap o’ saving to do in the next three years to turn our dreams into realities.
  3. Enjoy Kaua’i. I still sometimes can’t believe we live in this beautiful place. I thought we would like it, but living here is so much more and so much better than we imagined. Every day here is a gift.
  4. Officially retire. While Brett is retired, I’m not, officially that is. But, beginning in November I will start receiving a (very small) monthly pension as well as receive a (very small) lump sump disbursement from Oregon. I have loads of paperwork to get started on this month to make that happen.
  5. Stay healthy. Both Brett and I currently enjoy excellent health and we plan to keep it that way. We both feel that our health has improved since we moved to Kaua’i: we’re eating healthier, eating less, and getting more exercise. We both are sleeping better as well. A concern for both of us here is skin health, but we’re obsessive about using sunscreen (SPF 70 or higher), and I don’t move from under the umbrella when we go to the beach.
  6. Save some more.
  7. Learn Japanese. With the acquisition of Rosetta Stone for now, we’ve already gotten this started. Coming up soon will be textbooks. We have no expectations of becoming fluent, but we will know a whole lot more than we do now when it’s time for us to go in 2019.
  8. Make plans. We have three years to firm things up about where and what we will be doing, but once decisions are made then we can start the official planning, including reading every guidebook we can find, researching lodgings, airfares, etc. The goal of planning is to set up a solid foundation for a trip so we can be more flexible and spontaneous when we’re at our destination.
  9. Continue saving. Can’t do this enough!

Will there be bumps in the road along the way? Of course. But, we have our priorities in order, and know what we have to do to reach our goals, and so will roll with the punches, pick ourselves up if we get knocked down, and keep going.

And, if the next three years are anything like the past three, the time is going to fly by.

The Idea (Wo)Man

21821228-spedizione-icone-idea-luce-composizione-forma-del-bulbo-vector-in-strati-di-facile-montaggioI’m to blame. I am the one who comes up with all these ideas for travel.

But that’s pretty much all I do on my own . . . come up with an idea. Then it’s tossed over to Brett to see what he thinks. And, if he likes the idea, from there on we work as a team.

Brett has only actually said “no” to me once in our marriage. He knows I’m just stubborn enough that if he said “no” to one of my ideas I would probably go ahead and figure out a way to do it anyway. Usually his answer to an idea that he’s not crazy about is something along the lines of “let’s think about it.” I know when I hear this that he doesn’t particularly care for the idea, and that he wants me to think about it some more and see if I’m actually serious or willing to commit myself. He knows that often when I do think it through a bit more thoroughly I’ll probably see that it’s really not such a good idea or not feasible. The idea gets dropped without any further discussion, argument or bad feelings.

If he does like an idea of mine or think it’s worth pursuing, he’ll throw back some question, or even start talking about it like it’s already been decided. I’ll never forget when I first brought up the idea of adoption. I heard about China adoptions one day from one of my college professors, but told her that while I could adopt without a second thought there was absolutely no way my husband would ever agree. Our son was 16, and both Brett and I were students and barely scraping by. That evening though I mentioned to Brett what I had heard about adopting from China, expecting to hear the familiar “let’s think about it.” Instead, he got a gleam in his eye and soon we were talking about what it would be like to add a child to our family. We started setting goals that evening, and a little over two years later, Brett had a good job, we had bought a house, and we had brought our first daughter home from China!

We were both intrigued by the story of the Senior Nomads, who have been traveling around Europe for the past two years, staying in Airbnb rentals. I read about them first, which got me dreaming, and then I got Brett to read the article about them in the New York Times and then some of their blog. When he finished I said I thought we could do something like that once our girls had all left the nest.

I was honestly surprised that his response wasn’t an immediate “no” or even “let’s think about it.” Brett started out by saying he didn’t want to leave Kaua’i, and I agreed. We love it here. We then started talking about how much we wanted to go to Japan and spend time with our son and his family. But we kept talking about traveling, places we wanted to see, what we could afford, and gradually we came up with our goal of spending three months in Japan and two months in Europe or elsewhere each year, with the rest of our time on Kaua’i.

Besides being the idea woman, I’m also the planner. Although we work together to firm up our goals, all the nuts and bolts (finances, lodging, airfare, etc.) of actually making things happen are up to me, which is fine because I thoroughly enjoy doing it and Brett doesn’t. I love doing all the research that comes ahead of traveling, of setting down that solid foundation that our travel experiences will be based on. As ideas pop up along the way I’ll throw them out to Brett though. I know one way or the other we’ll either start talking about the idea or I’ll hear, “let’s think about that.”

Being SMART with Our Goals

8d0a21fae760c7f50e09457ec11ae320It’s one thing to say “we want to travel” and something else entirely to figure out how we’re going to do that. So, I figure a good place for me to start out on this blog is to put down for the record our goals for the future. These are what Brett and I are going to be working toward over the next few months and years.

Brett and I use the SMART system when we set our goals. SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound. Creating goals the SMART way is an extremely efficient way of making sure that we don’t come up with anything too nebulous, unattainable or downright crazy.

We currently have set both short- and long-term goals:

Short term:

  • Brett’s trip to Oregon and California: He will spend 10 days with his sister beginning in late September. They will meet in Portland, take our oldest daughter (Meiling) to college and get her settled in, and then he and his sister will drive down to Los Angeles where he will spend a few days before flying home. This trip is in the bag: plane tickets have been purchased and money set aside so all he needs to do now is go!
  • The Big Family Mystery Adventure: I can say no more about this other than I am about half-way there. I still need to save a bit more, and need to find some decent air fares, but otherwise everything is in place for a fabulous family vacation next spring!
  • Getting our middle daughter (WenYu) off to college: This will happen in the fall of 2016. We can’t start any planning until we know which college she will be attending, and we won’t know that until next spring. We are still thinking about it quite a bit though. I will most likely be traveling with her to help her get settled in wherever she goes. We are already working though on having enough Hawaiian Airlines frequent flyer miles to get her where ever she goes and home for the holidays at no cost.

Long term goals:

  • Take our youngest daughter (YaYu) to college in the fall of 2018 and get her settled in.
  • Spend three months every spring in Japan, living near our son and his family, beginning in 2019. Ninety days within a 365 day period is the maximum time we can stay in Japan without a visa (which is very difficult to get) and we want to live there the entire three months.
  • Spend two months every fall somewhere in the world beginning in the fall of 2018. We will either stay in one place for the entire time, or split our time between two locations.

While we’re not exactly at the starting point, we’re still very much at the beginning of things, currently trying to firm up how much we are going to need to save and how we will accomplish that without disrupting our budget. All of this travel will be paid for in cash – NO credit cards. Each one of the goals meets the SMART standard though, so we already know how long we have and a fairly good idea what we need to do to get to the finish line. We know there will be bumps and stalls and surprises along the way, but hopefully things will start falling into place and keep moving along.

Here we go!

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!