Now is the Time

Our Gap Year adventure is beginning!

Thor Ace 27.1 | 1CL

When I last wrote about Gap Year, we hadn’t decided when it would happen.  We knew the earliest it could possibly get started was after our youngest child left home, but we didn’t know if we’d be ready right then or not.  And when my husband got his dream job a few years ago, I was sure he wouldn’t want to leave it after only a couple years.  But the reality of working for a big company set in, and the honeymoon ended.

Since I wrote that Gap Year post back in 2011 we’ve lost some family members that were way too young, had coworkers that suddenly passed or developed life-threatening illnesses, and both of us lost our fathers.  It reinforced the notion that our time here is limited, and we don’t know how limited.

With the housing market starting to recover, we thought we could sell our house without too much pain (that turned out to be true).  My mom is still living independently, we’re healthy, our kids our healthy, and we don’t have any grandkids.  The planets had aligned—there was no reason to put it off.  The longer we waited, we knew the greater the chance that any one of those things could change.

The Plan

We sold our house, bought a motorcoach, and quit our jobs.  We said goodbye to San Diego and to our family and friends there.  After I finish up one last week of work in Las Vegas, we are heading to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, then on to Lake Powell.  After that the plan is to have no plan (or at least minimal plans).  Here is what we do have planned:

  • Stay out of the snow
  • Drive no more than four hours a day and only in the daylight
  • Hike, hike, hike
  • Spend Christmas with Mom in NW Arkansas
  • Experience Mardi Gras in New Orleans
  • Spend our 10-year wedding anniversary in Niagara Falls
  • See the fall colors on the Eastern Seaboard
  • Drop in on friends and family whenever possible on our journey
  • See as many national parks and monuments as we can
  • Find opportunities for Kelly to do Scottish country dancing
  • Go back to work for a few years before retiring

We have a long list of places to see, but no itinerary.  It’s a challenge for me to set out on something this big without a definitive plan, but it’s also part of the adventure.   By not making a bunch of reservations in advance, we have the freedom to stay a little longer or follow recommendations we hadn’t considered before.  It’s an opportunity to practice letting go.

The Blog

One Conscious Life will become more or less a travelogue now.  I may still write posts about frugal living, healthy eating/cooking, personal finance, eco-friendly living, and being of service because these will always be topics of importance to me.  But this blog is about to become more personal than before, and I won’t have a set posting schedule.

The best way to see pictures of our adventure, and to have more up-to-date information on where we are and what we’re doing, will be to follow our Facebook page, “Dave and Kelly’s Gap Year” at facebook.com/dnkgapyear.

We hope you will follow us on our adventure, either here or on Facebook (or both!), and that you’ll actively like and comment on our posts and make suggestions about places we should visit.

Why I Stopped Blogging

After a year of being a blogger, posting three posts each week (I only missed two posts), I decided to stop.  That was a difficult decision for me.  I’m not a quitter, even when I probably should be, and I was proud of what I’d done.

Writing was supposed to bring me joy, and for a while it did.  But the bottom line is that it became a grind.  I came to dread Sunday nights when I needed to have my big Monday post written.  What was the topic?  What was the angle?  What was my unique viewpoint?

The recipe posts were a little easier, but maintaining the spreadsheet in which I tracked the cost of all the food we purchased so I could cost out my recipes was extremely time-consuming.  Imagine going through your grocery receipts every week and recording the cost and weight/volume of everything you bought, and later weighing and measuring and calculating so you could provide cost per serving information.  More grind.

Although I was proud of what I wrote, I didn’t think I was bringing a particularly unique perspective to the topics my blog covered.  There are thousands of bloggers out there—many of them very good.  I just didn’t stand out.  My blog wasn’t sticky; I didn’t have a hook.  Which is probably why….

Nobody read my blog.

Not even my mom.

Still, I didn’t want to give up on the idea of having an outlet for my writing should I feel moved to write.  And I wanted to have something in place for posts about our Gap Year adventure.  So I’ve maintained the site to keep my options open.

In the driver's seat

Why I’m Starting Again

Just like when I started One Conscious Life 4 ½ years ago, I’ve got big life changes underway.  It’s not time to start posting about that quite yet, but it has caused me to think about my little blog again.  It’s time to rethink the purpose and content of my blog, reset my expectations, and get to writing again.  (It’s NOT time to restart the grocery spreadsheet.)

As I’m inspired, I may post something periodically while I rethink and repurpose 1CL, but it’s definitely going to be a more casual, inspiration-based posting schedule.  I hope you’ll check back in and see what happens.

Minus the Sugar

My husband and I just wrapped up 13 days of “clean eating”—-our version anyway. We were inspired by an article in Fast Company in which the author noticed some rather startling changes when he gave up refined sugar for two weeks. With the holiday season and all its temptations coming up, it seemed like a good time to see how it would impact us.

We already eat pretty well, but during this time we gave up all added sugars (including honey and maple syrup), bread and pasta (anything made of wheat flour), alcohol, and our weekly “meal off.” I gave up my Friday trip to Starbucks for my grande nonfat two pump mocha with no whipped cream. We didn’t eat paleo, didn’t give up meat or dairy, didn’t give up coffee.

The results? Unimpressive.

I didn’t weigh myself before we started, so I don’t know if I lost any weight, but it doesn’t feel like it. I don’t eat a lot of sugar (except during a meal off), so I didn’t experience the withdrawal symptoms or positive changes described in the Fast Company article. I also didn’t stop wanting a glass of wine at the end of a long day or thinking that a sweet treat would be wonderful.

I think this was more of a challenge for my husband. He drinks 3-5 cups of coffee every day with a teaspoon of white sugar and a teaspoon of powdered creamer. He doesn’t like the taste of coffee with just milk (how I drink it), so he didn’t drink much coffee during this time. Consequently, he had caffeine withdrawal headaches for a couple days. He also lost a few pounds—-I think he must be having more “tastes” during the day than he realized.

Ultimately, I had hoped that this change in my diet would make me feel so much better that I would be inspired to keep it up, at least at some level. And although I did sleep better, I didn’t feel better enough overall to make any long-term changes in my diet.

Still, I’m glad I did it. It validated our current diet, and I added some new foods into the menu. I know now that I can (at least for a short time period) give up sugar and alcohol, and I’m hoping that will buoy my willpower during the season of gluttony and intemperance.

Hiatus

1CL is on hiatus for a while as I figure out what direction it will take.

Happy New Year!

National Soup Month

January is National Soup Month.  So to start off the new year, I thought I’d do a retrospective of the soup, stew, and chili recipes I’ve previously posted.

Lentil & Brown Rice Soup

Lentil & Brown Rice Soup

Spicy Black Bean Soup

Spicy Black Bean Soup

Spicy Shrimp Gazpacho

Spicy Shrimp Gazpacho

Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup

Vegetarian Goulash

Vegetarian Goulash

White Chili

White Bean & Turkey Chipotle Chili