Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

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a recent selfie from Mai Châu, Vietnam

Every year I write a birthday post reflecting on something I’ve learned in the past year about myself (and thoughts about getting older). It’s a great way to see where I’ve been, who I am today, and hopefully reflects the person I am working towards becoming.  


I’ve always been a self-conscious person.

Some people call it being sensitive. I think it’s a hyper self-awareness of what I think of myself and what I think of what others might think of me (thanks, Sociology 101). I’m probably too sensitive.

As the years have gone by I have noticed no matter how youthful I feel, I am aging. This appears to be a trend that will continue for the rest of my life. Great. Michelle reminds me often that I need to stop saying “I’m old.” She’s probably right. However, one tangible aspect of aging has been the steady loss of hair on the top of my head (for some reason I’m still able to grow some hair on the sides and back of my head…yay for that). Thus the reason for the hats these days. I wasn’t really a hat person, but hiding bald spots and preventing scalp sunburn seems now to be the norm in my life.

If you had talked to me about this maybe 5 years ago, I would have denied it or avoided it. Me? The boy who my haircutting-great-Aunt swore had- and would always have- the “thickest hair in the family.” The one she swore would have hair when he was old. She was wrong. In fact, the first time I was even aware of my hair loss was when a good friend of mine in college (thanks, Anne) pointed out to me in my senior year that my hair was thinning. She was honest with me and I’ve always been thankful to her for that because I wasn’t honest with myself. 

I started to think about it. What would I be like without hair?

I worried about it. It seems silly to write about this today but I think many of us struggle with our appearance one way or another. Which actually brings me to a confession: My two front teeth are fake. Actually, let me be more specific, parts of my two front teeth are fake.

Kristi-YamaguchiThe story involves famous, Olympic-gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi, and a camp that she sponsored for children with disabilities. It also involves a swimming pool. Let’s just say that a 20-year-old version of myself, who was attending as a camp counselor, decided to try and show off his swimming ability. He tried to look and act cool. He tried swimming from one end of the pool to the other side completely underwater. As he went from the deeper end to the shallow end (unable to see and open his eyes because of his contacts) he slammed his mouth into the bottom of the pool due to the sharp rise in the floor. The floor was a rough, concrete bottom, which essentially ground away part of his two front teeth.

Immediately, the 20-year-old version of myself shot to the surface making a huge scene. Staff and, yes, Olympic-gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi came over to see my new look. I was mortified. I knew I had lost my teeth- the permanent ones they tell you that will never grow back. It was all I could think about. Though Kristi and everyone else at camp was incredibly gracious and supportive, I was embarrassed. Again, all I could think about was myself. What would people say? I’d be ridiculed. In that moment, it was a horrible, horrible feeling.

I’ll never forget what happened next. A large, muscular hand pulled me aside from the crowd to speak to me. He was a big man, someone who I had just met earlier that day. I don’t even remember his name. I just remember he was an impressive figure. The kind of guy you thought either played professional football, was a bouncer, or maybe both. Hoping for some consolation, he spoke directly and calmly, “Jedd. We are here at a camp for children with disabilities. Many of them cannot walk. They cannot help themselves. You can get your teeth fixed. Can they fix their situations? Don’t forget why you are here.”

I was ashamed and I was humbled. I needed that moment.

I wonder if you’ve ever felt like me- so focused and worried about things that are fleeting, that you forget about what’s really important. My hair and teeth do not define me. They might be part of my identity for a period of time, but my character, my values, my passions- these are the things I will have with me for a lifetime. As the years go by, I will continue to lose my hair, and my teeth, though fake are still there. I hope I will continue to smile. I will try to be thankful.

I’m still self-conscious, but I’m getting better because I am reminded of what happened. Everyday I look in the mirror and see my teeth. I see the fallen black hairs everywhere. I remember the 20-year-old version of myself, a pool, a very large man, and Kristi Yamaguchi.

And I am thankful.   

Updates from our travels

Miyajima-Japan1Greetings from Japan! For those of you who have been subscribed to our personal blog for a long time, you might have noticed that we have not been posting consistently as we used to.

The reason for that is we have shifted our focus over to our travel blog, in effort to start growing an online business that helps people pursue transformational travel.

We will still be keeping this Simply Intentional blog (a.k.a. jeddandmichelle.com). We’ll be using it to share any thoughts and reflections that don’t fit with the “intentional living” and “transformational travel” theme of our other site, Intentional Travelers. But again, these posts will be fewer and far between.

If you want to stay connected, we suggest signing up for our Intentional Travelers e-communications:

1. Subscribe to our e-newsletter. This has a focus on useful transformational travel resources, but we also include a monthly personal update from the road.

2. Subscribe to our blog digest. We have an option to get a list of our latest travel blog posts in your inbox every week or every month.

Both of these subscriptions can be accessed from our sign-up page, and you can adjust your e-mail preferences at any time.

Click to sign up for our e-newsletter or blog digests

Click to sign up for our e-newsletter or blog digests

Here are some of our most recent posts from Southeast Asia:

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How to Cross the Street in Hanoi

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Budget Travel in Mai Châu, Vietnam

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Staying Fit in Hanoi, Vietnam

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Candid Travel Photography

Life Updates from J + M | Intentional Travelers

As you may or may not have noticed, we’ve been posting a bit less on this blog lately. We’re shifting our focus toward our travel blog (now travel business). We do plan to keep posting “simply intentional” reflections here but most of our travels and adventure updates will come from IntentionalTravelers.com, like our life update below:


 New Transformational Travel Business

As we’ve mentioned briefly over the past month or two, we are in the works of launching a business around transformational travel. We are passionate about seeing our culture grow in understanding and appreciation for the world we live in, and be inspired by its beauty and diversity to become more generous, responsible, passionate global citizens.

The primary aim of our business is connecting people to resources for transformational travel. This includes a range of opportunities from long-term travel or living abroad, to vacations with a purpose. We can provide travel resources in a variety of forms. Online, we will be sharing information, products, and trip opportunities from partner organizations we believe in as well as creating our own books, blog posts, and e-guides.

We will also operate as travel consultants, which is meant to be broad and vague. It includes, but is not limited to, using official travel agency status under the umbrella organization of our mentor at Travel Team Brokers. This means we can book travel and put customized trip itineraries together for clients. Our hope is to be “team leaders” on different organized trips throughout the year and eventually coordinate some of our own small group tours to places like Jamaica.

To be completely honest, we’re not really sure what is going to come of this business. We have multiple “revenue streams” in the works and by trial and error, we’ll see which – if any – take off. As always, we appreciate your feedback and constructive ideas- a big thanks to those of you who already took our market survey!

Website and E-mail changes

In order to reflect the upgrade at IntentionalTravelers.com from hobby blog to business, we’re getting a make-over. We’re currently in the process of rebranding with the help of a friend and colleague who has been assisting us with projects in our freelance web services business.

The website changes will be happening in phases over the next few months. We appreciate your patience if things get wonky while our site is under construction!

We’re also developing a new e-newsletter to share our best tips, travel ideas, and updates once or twice a month. You can now subscribe to the newsletter as well as choose from a daily, weekly, or monthly digest of our blog posts to make sure you don’t miss out.

Travel Plans

We’ve been in Honolulu, Hawaii since February helping Jedd’s parents make a big move to Iwakuni, Japan and fix up their condo. We’ve been running errands, packing, doing home repair projects, visiting friends and relatives, squeezing in work time on our laptops, and trying to do as much hiking as possible in our free time.

On Saturday, we’re on to our next big adventure. We’re making our first trip west of the Hawaiian islands to Asia! We’ll be staying about two and half weeks with friends who are living in Hanoi. Then we’ll make our way to Japan to visit Jedd’s parents in their new home for another two and a half weeks. In early May, we’ll head back to Oregon for the summer.

We’re planning to keep this trip very low budget. Thanks to travel hacking, our flight costs are minimal. Our accommodations are covered by the generosity of the friends and family who are hosting us in their homes. Since we’re pretty sure we’ll have another opportunity to visit these places again, there’s no pressure to see all the sights or do a lot of traveling once we arrive. Instead, we’re looking forward to seeing where friends and family live, spending time with them, eating local food, and continuing to work from our laptops!

Thanks for tuning in and being a part of our journey.

-M

via Life Updates from J + M | Intentional Travelers.

Available for Family

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Apparently I have a twin (he is my real brother, btw)

When you tell people you are going to Hawaii, immediately people think: vacation. Even if you are from Hawaii and now live elsewhere- when you return, people think you are on a break, enjoying your vacation. This trip was not a vacation (though we tried to have some fun – surfing, hiking, eating, etc…). What this trip was really about was family.

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Working on the condo

When my parents told me they were going to move to Japan, I knew we had the time and flexibility in our schedule to help them. For the last month or so, it has been a full-time job to help them pack, sort through their belongings, donate items, as well as clean and repair their condo (due to unforeseen water damage). My brothers wanted to help more but their jobs wouldn’t allow them to take off the time. It got me thinking how lucky and fortunate we are to have time. What if we had conventional jobs or other commitments that didn’t allow us to take leave? What if my parents needed more help?

When we committed to living this unconventional lifestyle, to become full-time digital nomads, we did so because we knew it would give us two things we valued a lot: time, and the ability to use that time to spend with others. Often when we catch others up with what we are doing, a lot of people tell us they wish they could do something similar but can’t because of time and money.

It makes sense. One of the biggest decisions that led us to our current lives was when we decided not to buy a house. It’s not that we don’t want to at some point. But we realized that owning a home would create a financial commitment, which would become a burden that we didn’t want. In order to keep our house we would have had to both keep working full time. This is not a bad thing. It’s the conventional path. Whereas some might want to set down roots in a community by buying a home, we saw those roots as limiting us from being able to travel and have flexibility with our time and finances.

It doesn’t help that the current American work model does not allow people to spend time with loved ones on a daily basis. We spend more time at work than we do with our family and friends. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Thanks to technology and due to the changing economic climate, there are new, flexible ways to do work. The internet has made it possible to work from home and on the road. It’s also a shame that America has not adopted policies similar to Canada and countries in Europe that are more flexible and generous with leave time. What if a loved one needed extra help that would require you to take more time off than you had vacation or paid-leave for? What would you do? You could lose your job for trying to help.

As we’ve said before, there is no perfect scenario. Though it seems great that we have so much time and flexibility, there are days where I know Michelle and both wish we had a little bit more stability and security with our finances. Also, conventional employment typically offers better health care and even retirement benefits that most entrepreneurs like us struggle to afford. But the trade-off for us is a life that better fits our values of time and relationships. It’s about spending time with loved ones while we can. Michelle and I have treasured the family get togethers, reconnecting with high school and college friends, and also taking the time to enjoy each other’s company. I know a lot of couples wish they had time for that, too.

If anyone asks me what I’ll remember most about our time being “digital nomads,” I’ll say the ability to travel and being available for family.

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My great Aunts play with the newest addition to our family.

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pineapple Dole whip

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Old Pali highway hike

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Got to meet Skylar of Hi Sky hats at the H.I.M. conference – an amazing and courageous girl

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Michelle and I volunteered at the H.I.M. conference photo booth

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My hilarious great uncle

Attention Fellow Travelers

Many of you may or may not know that Michelle and I have been blogging about our travels in more detail on another blog called Intentionaltravelers.com. The original intent for Intentional Travelers was to document our travels, but mostly to help others learn about the joys and benefits of travel from the failures and little victories of our own experiences. Through this experience we realized there was a need and a tiny hole in the travel market for information for travelers like ourselves – those that want a more meaningful and transformational experience through authentic cross-cultural exchange.

Long story short, we are planning to start our own travel business that focuses on providing resources, training, and opportunities for those that want to do more intentional, meaningful, and transformational travel. Here’s where you come in. We are doing some research to figure out if a need for this kind of travel information exists. Do you love to travel or wish you could travel more? If so, would you mind filling out this quick survey for us by clicking on the picture or link below? Or, if you know someone that this description fits, could you share the link below?

Thanks! J&M

Intentional Travelers

http://intentionaltravelers.com/survey/