* Michelle Thoughts, Intentional Living

All is calm. All is bright: Advent 2018

“All is calm, all is bright.” It’s a delightful sentiment, though not typically how I’m experiencing the world these days.

That’s why I’m making it my motto for Advent.

Advent, the time leading up to Christmas, tends to hold a lot more anticipation and magic in childhood. These days, I struggle to find ways to make it special.

To me, Christmas has a “true meaning” indeed. It has nothing to do with Santa, giving or receiving presents, and it’s definitely not about shopping.

Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ. A real live baby boy who changed the world. God walking on Earth. The man who was persecuted, whose body couldn’t be found in his tomb three days later, and who appeared to hundreds of people – people who became martyrs in dedication to his kingship.

It’s world-shattering stuff.

Worthy of pause. Reflection. Introspection. Action.

Every year I struggle with how to do this.

I don’t particularly enjoy tradition and ceremony for its own sake. It’s too easy to go through the motions.

I want to be intentional about Advent. But how?

I heard of the idea of Continue reading “All is calm. All is bright: Advent 2018”

* Michelle Thoughts

Michelle’s 35 Things Update

It’s been an eventful year so far – we both turned 35 and celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary with an extra dose of travel. With roughly 2 months left in my 35th year, I wanted to take another look at my “35 things to do in my 35th year” bucket list.

I was able to complete most of the things on my list without a problem. But I found that there were a couple things I resisted. One thing I’ve recently learned about myself, thanks to Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies, is that I am a Questioner. That means I only meet expectations that I have rationalized to myself are important. So I expect that the reason I resisted the 35 thank you letters task is because 1) I’ve never really appreciated the tradition of thank you cards in the first place, and 2) it was a popular birthday activity for others that I felt like I should do even though I wasn’t excited about it, and 3) it was overwhelming to choose 35 people and write 35 letters.

So I may end up replacing that one if I can’t find a way to align it better to my own style and personality. There are a few others I might need to adjust as well. Here is my current progress Continue reading “Michelle’s 35 Things Update”

* Michelle Thoughts, challenges, Intentional Living

Turning 35: Michelle’s Birthday Bucket List

I promised myself that I wouldn’t actually be old until age 75. But turning 35 means I’ve left my “early thirties” behind, which makes me feel that I no longer fit in the “young adult” category. I’m doing my best to accept this shift in identity without dragging my feet.

I confess that one of my biggest fears about aging is that life will somehow go downhill. I realize that the physical obstacles will increase – I’ve had chronic pain and headaches since my mid-twenties, so I don’t have much hope of anything getting better in that regard. But my real concern doesn’t involve bodily functions.

I remember as a Continue reading “Turning 35: Michelle’s Birthday Bucket List”

* Michelle Thoughts, Intentional Living

When You’re Not Saving Money at That Sale

Sale prices. Who doesn’t like to save money and get big shopping discounts? You walk into your favorite store and see a bright sign above some nice T-shirts: “45% off today only!” You may think to yourself: “That sounds like a good deal; I don’t want to miss out.” But I wouldn’t be so sure.

Unfortunately, sometimes those sale prices aren’t actually saving us money.

Intentional Spending

Being aware of how we spend our money is a big part of intentional living. Continue reading “When You’re Not Saving Money at That Sale”

* Life Updates, Other Travels

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 Continue reading “Life Updates from J + M | Intentional Travelers”

* Life Updates

The Latest From J + M

In case you didn’t see the latest update on our travel blog, we have a few pieces of recent news to share:

  • A Worthy Peace Corps Partnership ProjectPhoto credit: Dreamspace CollectiveOur friend, Jordan, a Peace Corps Volunteer who is now serving in our same host community in Jamaica, is raising funds for a project at the community center where Jedd used to work. They plan to create a community garden and demonstration plot that will serve low-income neighborhoods. Learn more and donate here to support this sustainability project!
  • Where To NextOahu
    We’ll be traveling again soon! Our next adventures include Oahu, Vietnam, and Japan – our first time West of Hawaii – and we’re getting all our flights by travel hacking. The main reason for this extended trip (2-3 months) is to help Jedd’s parents make a big move from Hawaii to Japan! As many of you know, we take our freelance work with us on our laptops wherever we go and we’ve got a number of projects going on, so we expect to have our days pretty full this Spring.
  • A New Business VentureScreen Shot 2015-01-23 at 8.03.46 AM
    We’re in the process of forming a travel coordination/consultant business for meaningful, transformational travel. We’re operating under the umbrella of our generous mentor’s travel agency, Travel Team Brokers. Hopefully we’ll have something more solid to share soon, but in the meantime, we’re testing the waters of helping people book travel and starting a network of other travel professionals who are involved in intentional, transformational trips. If you need help booking a vacation of any kind, let us know. You can also help us get connected to people you know in the travel industry who might align with our mission.

Photo Credit (pictures 1 and 3): Ben and Connie of Dreamspace Collective

* Life Updates, Other Travels, Videos

2014: Year In Review Video

2014 was another eventful year, and we are so thankful for all the people and places we encountered! As usual, we’ve put together a short video of clips from our adventures. You’ll see footage from Peace Corps Jamaica, some road trips and National Parks, France and Switzerland, and more. We hope you enjoy!

* Michelle Thoughts, Things We Love

The Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

We wanted to share this recipe in honor of being back from our Peace Corps experience in Jamaica. It’s fun to look back on the pictures of us making big batches of these delicious treats for our Jamaican host sister’s wedding.

According to Facebook, many of you actually tried these out at home last year! For my family (Michelle), cinnamon rolls are a traditional part of our holiday celebrations, and I’m looking forward to sharing these rolls with my family in both Oregon and Hawaii this Christmas. I like to make the miniature-sized rolls for this recipe to counteract the generous helpings of cinnamon-sugar and cream cheese frosting it calls for.


Continue reading “The Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls Recipe”

* Life Updates, * Michelle Thoughts, * Peace Corps, Other Travels

Life After Peace Corps: Returning to Post As RPCVs

Sunrise from a friend's apartment in Kingston
Sunrise from a friend’s apartment in Kingston

What is it like to go back to Jamaica after Peace Corps? Many have asked us this, and we are still trying to figure it out ourselves.

Let me start by saying that going between Jamaica and the U.S. feels like two separate worlds. Continue reading “Life After Peace Corps: Returning to Post As RPCVs”