* 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”

* Life Updates, * Michelle Thoughts, challenges, Intentional Living

Will 2018 Be Your Year of Simple?

Seven years ago we made a life-changing decision to serve in the Peace Corps. We put in our notices at work, ended the lease on our apartment, and sold all of our furniture. We kept our winter clothes and yearbooks in storage with family and headed off to volunteer in Jamaica with the required maximum of two suitcases each.

Living with less was completely liberating. Not only did we have less stuff to keep track of, our weekly schedules in that rural Jamaican community were simplified, too. When we came home from work, we had time to read, journal, practice new recipes… In Jamaica, it was nearly impossible to get more than two real tasks done per day, so we became accustomed to a slower pace of life.

That simpler life was so much less stressful – it was something we vowed to keep in our lives moving forward. And we’re passionate about helping others do the same. Continue reading “Will 2018 Be Your Year of Simple?”

* 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, * Michelle Thoughts, Intentional Living

Why We’ve Given Up Vacations | Intentional Travelers

This post was written by Michelle for our travel blog – Intentional Travelers

It talks about the misconception some have about our recent travels, seeing them as vacations. In reality, travel has become part of work and more importantly, part of our day-to-day lives.



For the past two weeks, we’ve been in Honolulu, Hawaii visiting Jedd’s family. A couple times throughout this trip, people have referred to our stay as a “vacation.” The same thing happened on our three-week visit to Jamaica last month.

But, actually, these are not vacations for us!

We can see why people might be confused: Hawaii and Continue reading “Why We’ve Given Up Vacations | Intentional Travelers”

* Jedd Thoughts, * Life Updates, * Michelle Thoughts

Annual Review Exercise 2014

Happy Holidays!

We can’t believe it’s the end of 2014. Starting last year, we decided to do an exercise called the Annual Review which was inspired by unconventional blogger and author Chris Guillebeau (who founded the World Domination Summit).  It’s an intentional (cough cough) opportunity to take sometime time out to reflect on the past year. If you’ve done one before, it’s also an awesome opportunity to see if you’ve accomplished the goals you had from the previous year. Finally, it’s a chance to start planning and thinking about the next year.

Here’s what we came up with for our annual review, 2014: Continue reading “Annual Review Exercise 2014”

* 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”

* Life Updates, * Michelle Thoughts, Other Travels

Back in Jamaica (and How to Save on Travel)

Jamaica

We are back on the rock!

Saturday morning we landed in Jamaica, exactly 7 months after completing our service with Peace Corps. This time around, we’re taking the opportunity to experience Jamaica on our own terms (read: with a car and no longer getting approvals or reporting whereabouts to Peace Corps).  Continue reading “Back in Jamaica (and How to Save on Travel)”