The Heel of Italy

So, here we are on leg one of the three month trip to and from a family wedding in Italy. The three-week journey from Malta to Tuscany is pretty straight forward, but the trip home again will feel like halfway around the world as we take ten weeks to do Belgium, Germany, Copenhagen and beyond. Much of it is still up the air; as we follow our noses.

I’ve had my head in editing and writing mode for six weeks solid without a break (including weekends) and it’s lovely to begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ll talk about that in the next blog or two… this is a bigger catch up as I’m so behind on news!

In a few week’s time, we’ll be a year into our to two-year sabbatical, and I won’t lie – it’s been hard. But not in ways most people assume. I realised recently that people think we must hate being around each other all the time – but we don’t. Which led to the realisation the other day that short of an hour or so while he cooks or pops next door for ingredients, we are never further than a few feet apart. Yup; you read that right – we spend about twenty-three hours a day less than three feet apart, with no one else we know around (other than the odd visit every three or four months when we’re on the road). No one planned it that way; it’s just how it is. We’ve always been like that. Even when he’s worked long hours, we’re always in contact. It’s just how we roll. We’re good at working alongside each other and I’ve been working twelve hour days. So there’s also a whole lot of healthy silence around here. We’re both quite introverted and we enjoy the quiet.

Which also means, while we work hard on assessing and building and working on ourselves and our lives and our marriage and all that (the hard stuff), the idea of a plot of land in the country has gone out of the window completely. The dream of big open spaces, for us, has turned out to be a bit of a myth; if it’s not dogs barking or a tractor going it’s a chainsaw or a lawnmower or any number of “boy toys” dressed up as farm machinery and “work”. So now we’re thinking more about small apartments and double glazed windows for our future!

Speaking of said future… we miss the babies terribly, and as they start to really settle into adulthood and build careers and families and now houses, (and there’s another new baby on the horizon), we’ve put the first peg in the sand of our second half and bought a block of land in Queensland (Australia). It came out of nowhere a couple of weeks ago, but it slotted exactly into a spot we didn’t know was waiting for us, and we’ll be right next door to some of the grandbabies and we could not feel more spoiled or blessed to be invited to be in their lives like that.

So while I’m writing, he’s in full on land buying/contract/money/advice mode, and I’m ignoring it all except when I’m needed for design purposes; much of which won’t happen for a while. The land isn’t even ready yet, so the house won’t be till next year, and this means we really have something to look forward to.

Anyway, so I’ll talk more about books and building and babies in the next few posts, but for now, back to the current trip.

savingpng-83

savingpng-82

We LOVE staying in Molly (our VWT5 campervan) and Daisy (our tandem Pino) means we can access places I otherwise can’t. Now and then I hop off and walk around a bit, but mostly we’re the crazy people weaving through small-towns in the heel of Italy. We don’t enjoy campgrounds or crowds (or tourists haha!) so we usually travel on the shoulder seasons but we’re heading into summer here in Europe so I’ve been saving my HouseSwap points to park in people’s gardens instead. He wasn’t quite sure how this was going to work, but this is week one and we’re staying on an old olive farm in the middle of nowhere. It’s old, the bed is rock hard, the water is from a well. It’s rustic at best and all the things one doesn’t enjoy in a house swap that isn’t ideal, but we have everything we need in Molly so it’s like having our own free, and very private campground. We still sleep in Molly, but we have a porch and a shower, a kitchen and a toilet – and no neighbours parked right next to us. I’ve booked a house swap for a week or so twice a month throughout the trip, so we’ll still wild camp in between.

Matera was the first town and just amazing. Much of the old city is dug into the side of the cliffs. It’s not a wheelchair or a bike-friendly town for obvious reasons so we couldn’t stay long and couldn’t go down into the town at all, but it was worth the stop.

Ostuni is our local town so we ride there for supplies. It’s worth a visit in it’s own right.

Monopoli was lovely too.

Riding between towns through olive groves, hay bales … (and sadly, disgusting seashores you don’t actually want to see)…

Polignano a Mare where the cliff diving happens (we didn’t even try to go that day as we’d never get close enough to see anything and I can’t go down or up)…

Pizza for dinner in small squares was a highlight but nowhere near as good as the gelato which was AMAZING (and didn’t last long enough for a photo).

To save my spoons (energy) we caught trains too.

savingpng-77

It’s about to get hot, so the weekend will be spent on the porch and writing and editing again before we head off north on Sunday.

#TheLongWayHomeFromAnItalianWedding #VanLife #VWT5 #Molly #Daisy #13Weeks #9Countries #91Sleeps #Tandem #Pino

Join The JPeaSmith Reader’s Club for non-spam emails with all that and more by clicking HERE. (Yes, this used to be a newsletter but I found that a bit stuffy, which doesn’t suit me).

Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

YouTube |Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

@JPeaSmith

 

 

French catch up..

So… I’ve missed a few blogs. I’m not well. I don’t think of myself as a people pleaser but I haven’t yet learnt to explain to people that I need to rest, with my feet up, for most of every day. I shouldn’t try and sit at the dinner table on upright chairs for more than half an hour and I shouldn’t offer to go on shopping trips … even short ones.

So while I’ve loved seeing people the last few weeks, I shouldn’t have offered so much. The reality is I’m not sure how not to…

So I’m sore… very sore, which means I have brain fog, haven’t written my book in a while, and when I’m tired and my brain is foggy I knock and therefore hurt myself. So I’ve had a headache for three days and quite bad concussion. Bertha is doing ok because I’ve been very good with her with all the concussion rest… but I shouldn’t ever let it get this bad.

The weather hasn’t helped. I can’t stand wind and the stormy weather of the last four days mean my joints hurt. And husbands get grumpy in this kind of weather… who knew?!

So we’ve taken the opportunity to hide from the world a bit, pop into the odd IKEA for more storage options, and driven across about half of the southern coast of France.

I sent him out on a ride yesterday, to help him increase his niceness, and it even worked for a few hours.

What I don’t like about France is their tendency to use guns in clearly risky areas. We woke yesterday morning to someone shooting what appeared to be rabbits (hanging from his belt) with both joggers and cyclists on the same road as he was!

Right here:

We’ve since heard an English cyclist was accidentally shot and killed by a French farmer recently. We’re not surprised at all!

I’ve no idea where we are right now exactly, or what day it is. Nor do I care on either score. All I know is we’re trying to work out life together without the pressures which have dominated us for decades. That isn’t always easy. Especially with concussion and Mah Eeds and bad weather and grumpy old men!

But I love this man more than I could ever say!

PS: The book’s never going to happen if I don’t finish it! Or if I don’t have a support team So I’ll keep these links at the bottom of my posts for the next month 🙂 They’re the easy, no-spam emails I’ll send out no more than weekly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those) till the book launches and you can get your free copy!

Main email group:
Team Tortoise:
Team Hare:

Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

YouTube |Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

@JPeaSmith

Happiness Is….

Sleeping in the middle of nowhere, tucked deep under the lip of a huge dam wall, among the trees, chickens, donkeys and even the odd mountain goat. I’ll admit it was also a little creepy in a strange way, but it was also wonderful.

After a midnight snack of cheese & hams we found in the fridge, we slept like logs, woke late, cooked oats for breakfast, packed Molly up again, and climbed the steep embankment back up to the roaring freeway hundreds of feet above.

Happiness, for us, is also togetherness, the open road, brave life off the grid, olive trees as far as the eye can see, mountains, alpacas, chickens, and absolutely delightful people…

Go on, zoom in, can you see those olive trees?? I love “order” and I love “natural” and those rarely come together … yet here they do, in spades.

We’ve come on search of Memoirist Alan Parks, deep in the hottest part of Spain (which is a hot country) in the middle of nowhere. It’s also known as the “Frying Pan of Spain” and I’d forgotten that bit when we set out on this journey.

I first read his book, “Seriously Mum, what’s an Alpaca?” a couple of years ago around the same time we coincidently fell in love with alpacas ourselves. Alan does such a good job describing their adventures as Brits giving up the rat race, that I really wanted to come here to see it for myself. This was the same time that we were planning our Second Half, and it was really encouraging to know we weren’t the only crazy people around. So I’ve been following him for a while now and while there’s so much more to tell you, for now, we’re so thankful for a few hours this afternoon with Alan and his adorable partner Lorna. They’re even better in real life and their home is everything the books describes and more.

It’s a magnificent home, a stunning B&B, a true oasis, complete with a never ending running spring (you know, the actual water kind), fresh eggs for breakfast, great stories about real people, real lives, challenges, adventure, and yet more fabulous food!!

But most of it will have to wait till tomorrow!

Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 17.04.59

PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve offered to support and keep asking where and how! I’ll keep these links at the bottom of my posts for the next month 🙂 They’re the easy, no-spam emails I’ll send out no more than weekly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those) till the book launches and you can get your free copy!

Hare & Tortoise

Main email group:
Team Tortoise:
Team Hare:

Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

YouTube |Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

@JPeaSmith

Still Tweaking!

Like all homes, I’m not sure Molly will ever be “finished”. We potter and shuffle and think of new things all the time. We’ve also been living out of suitcases for three months across five countries on both sides of the equator so we’re carrying some extra baggage. Some of it’s bulky (like Hitches travel bag which uses up half of Molly’s storage under the seats), the rest is smaller but all these extra things add up.

So we keep finding better ways to hide it and store it. Which means constant reshuffling, which can sometimes be interesting (but often boring).

I wanted one of those kitchens for Molly where everything hung on hooks. But in the end having ALL the crockery in a single soft basket seems to be the best solution. One single, non-rattling, non-sliding, soft-but-sturdy bag where if you need anything from a pot to a plate, the kettle or an egg ring, it’s in there:

It travels on the bed so it doesn’t go anywhere when we go over bumps, then sits on the counter when not needed, which is the easiest spot to access anything in it anyway. Then when you open the lid to cook or get some water, the bag moves easily back onto the bed.

Crocheting bags keep me busy as we drive and are going on the kitchen wall hooks instead of the pots. They are fun to make and I’ll show you more soon. They hold the cutlery, glass coffee plunger, glass wine glasses etc.

Oh, and I made a hanging fruit bag too so the fruit doesn’t bounce and get bruised. so today was about settling in to routines.

He makes oat porridge for me in bed each morning which is such a lovely way to start each day. The view never tires as it’s different every morning 😊

And that’s all before even climbing out of bed!

So far Molly is everything we hoped she would be and more. Belgium is absolutely AMAZING in ways I can’t explain! What a fabulous diversion!!

Another fabulous day, though Bertha’s not helping things and today was a particularly bad day 😢

Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 17.04.59

PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve offered to support and keep asking where and how! I’ll keep these links at the bottom of my posts for the next month 🙂 They’re the easy, no-spam emails I’ll send out no more than weekly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those) till the book launches and you can get your free copy!

Hare & Tortoise

Main email group:
Team Tortoise:
Team Hare:

Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

YouTube |Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

@JPeaSmith

Bruges!

I think I’m going to have to post more regularly as things get so out of date so quickly! We woke this morning to a leisurely getaway from Nigel’s house in England, popped into the supermarket for some last minute supplies (more on that later), then drove an hour to Dover, hopped on the ferry, all without me even leaving Molly!

A couple of hours on the ferry with my blanket and hot water bottle and before we knew it we were landing in Calais, drove across the top of France, through to Belgium, and arrived in Bruges by 5pm!

Thanks to our Wild Camping app we’ll be spending the night along this canal in the middle of town. A short walk to the city square, the best waffles I’ve ever had, a local beer for him to enjoy by the canal with the harbour master (& new best friend) and our first night in Europe appears to be quite the success!

Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 17.04.59

PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve offered to support and keep asking where and how! I’ll keep these links at the bottom of my posts for the next month 🙂 They’re the easy, no-spam emails I’ll send out no more than weekly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those) till the book launches and you can get your free copy!

Hare & Tortoise

Main email group:
Team Tortoise:
Team Hare:

Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

YouTube |Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

@JPeaSmith

STOP! THIEF!!

That’s not quite what I thought I’d shout if I caught someone stealing, especially 6 inches from my toes, on the other side of the glass, but I like to think I’d scream something! But nope, at 1am when I awoke to a couple of cartoon type cat burglars trying to steal Hitch from the back of Molly, I just angrily bashed my knuckles on the window!!

Thankfully, both criminals, dressed completely in black (were those beanies or balaclavas?), got such a fright they ran! I watched them run all the way down the road and around the bend, as fast as their legs could carry them!!

I took this photo only about 8hrs before the incident, just as the sun was setting, as the men did their thing and admired both Hitch and his perch (super strong bike rack that cost a bomb from Thule; “Look how clever this bit is”, “check this fancy doo-dad”, “ooo I love that feature…” and so on…

I wasn’t entirely convinced. It looked too simple to me. I worried over the last few days that someone would take a liking to Hitch and either steal him or damage him trying to.

He’s no ordinary bike you see, he’s the result of years of love and dreams and plans and experiments. He’s very, very special to him, and while I roll my eyes, I also know the importance of this relationship.

He’s not happy I’ve named his bike, and I didn’t mean to, but once we picked up Molly, named her, and the bike was firmly attached to the back, that was it! Every view of or from the back window has Hitch in it:

savingpng-28

He’s hitched a ride on each of the seven international or cross-continental flights we’ve taken over the last 10 weeks. He’s a pain in the butt like you can’t believe! The bag is huge, fragile, uses up a good chunk (if not all) his baggage weight allowance and the helmet, shoes etc eat into much of mine. We’re one of those rare couples where the wife gets the leftover baggage space and the husband uses up most of it.

I rarely see my own bags loaded on or off a plane but so often we see the bike bag because it has to be loaded separately.

Here are Hitch and his bike bag from the plane both in Rome and London in the past couple of weeks.

So many times the poor wheelchair pusher sits & waits with me as he frantically searches (in a panic usually) for this monster of a bag when everything else is unloaded and it’s nowhere to be seen.

When someone hitches a ride… well, it’s such a pain. So Molly and Hitch are now the team, our wheels for the coming 6-week journey from Devon to Malta through Spain, France and Italy, and now we nearly lost Hitch because he brags, he thinks he’s special and stands out just a little bit.

I haven’t even taken a proper photo of Hitch on the back of Molly yet. Last night was night 4 in the UK and therefore Molly, and night two at our dear friend’s home. The guys had don’t all the fancy checks of the new Thule bike rack that was supposed to be super safe. This is the top part of the bike rack which has a lock and huge grip and nothing can be broken. It’s the secure part. It bolts to the middle of the frame of the bike.

savingpng-29

Then just to keep it from falling off, each wheel sits on the railing across the bottom of the rack and is held in place with a simple yet strong rubber tie. At the bottom of this picture, you can see the buckle. It has no lock.

At about 1am I awoke with a fright at a metal on metal sound not unlike bolt cutters cutting through bike spokes or a lock. Before I was awake I flew to the foot of the bed and pulled back the blinds. Hitch was there as always and there was no one to be seen. But I had a really bad feeling and my heart was racing. I felt hot too, so I stood on the bed and opened the side window in the raised roof. He lay sleeping beside me and didn’t even flinch as I bothered and moved about.

I lay down and eventually I must have drifted off to sleep because the next thing I knew, the exact same thing happened; I flew out of bed to the bottom of the bed and pulled back the blinds, convinced someone was stealing Hitch.

But this time I saw two men, completely dressed in black, pulling and cutting away at the bike. Stupidly, I didn’t say a word, I just panicked and bashed on the window. Thankfully, that they ran, and the way the road unwinds down the hill, allowed me to see them all the way to the bottom and far away. I grabbed the sleeping body beside and shouted “They’re trying to steal your bike!!

I had visions of all kinds of damage, and in the drunken stupor of panic at being awoken from the dead, he fumbled for clothes and shoes and keys and whatnot and raced outside. We were seconds away from losing Hitch. The unbreakable Thule lock was off completely, and of the two straps at the bottom, one was completely hacked off, and the other was about halfway there.

The irony of it all is, once they’d beaten the “bulletproof” top bit, all they had to do was open the buckles (yellow arrow) at the bottom of each wheel in 2 seconds, and the bike would’ve been theirs. But stupidly, and ever so thankfully, they’d spent anywhere up to twenty minutes hacking through the straps (green) instead, and it was this snipping and twisting and pulling which alerted me to their presence!

 

He gathered up the bits and put Hitch safely in the garage, but our hearts were pounding and we really were too afraid to simply roll over and go to sleep again! Are you kidding? So he locked up the garage while our fabulous guests slept, made us each a cup of tea, and we sat in bed with the blinds open, watching for the bad guys to return.

It seems silly in daylight but in the dark of night, our hearts racing, we couldn’t think straight.

“Are we in danger?”

“Are they coming back?”

In the end, we realised the Police were the best option for all kinds of reasons. This is a dead end street and we already watched a car drive slowly by… were they watching and waiting for us to go back to sleep? Police would show we are serious and that there’s a presence around. So we called 999, gave all our details to the operator, and two of Britain’s finest showed up thirty minutes later.

They were really supportive and kind. We’re pretty sure the bad guys won’t get caught. I was awake for about 3 hours, today I’m absolutely exhausted and my knuckles are bruised, swollen and very, very sore.

In the light of morning, I kid you not, all there was no evidence other than the broken bike rack, but the cat had left these perfect cat prints…. It’s been sunny all day and as we head for bed again, they’re still there….

PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve offered to support and keep asking where and how! I’ll keep these links at the bottom of my posts for the next month 🙂 They’re the easy, no-spam emails I’ll send out no more than weekly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those) till the book launches and you can get your free copy!

Main email group:
Team Tortoise:
Team Hare:
The Editing Team:

Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

YouTube |Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

@JPeaSmith

Follow the Journey!

So many of those around the world have asked me how they can follow our journey into the next phase of life. They want to know what’s happening with the Kombi camper van, where we’re going next, and how this is all going to play out.

But the next question they keep asking is “Why do you drop off my newsfeed?” as though I’m causing it. I’m not.

So here are all the simple instructions on how to follow our journey without missing out or getting lost or overwhelmed. There are different ways to suit your own needs, so pick and choose what suits you.

FACEBOOK:

All blog posts from both of us, YouTube videos, Facebook Live videos, Instagram photos and more, will be collated in one easy place; The @JPeaSmith Facebook Page (click on the link). So if you don’t want to miss anything but you’d also like to choose what you actually watch or read, then this is the place.

But in order to keep current you need to do a few simple things first:

1: LIKE the page: (by clicking on the thumbs up icon).

img_5956

2: Liking it will also mean you follow it, but you need to hover over the FOLLOWING button and change the settings to “see first” in order for it to appear in your newsfeed and not disappear. Only you can do this.

img_5957

3: Comment on the pinned instruction post on the page so that we know you’re following us and can interact with you. We don’t want to annoy people so will only interact with your permission.

4: Remember that for many of you, this will be our only communications, so please encourage us, give us feedback, and let us know you’re there by commenting on our posts. If you don’t, we won’t know you’ve even been by and will assume we’re out there alone.

EMAIL:

If email is your best news source, then sign up to the once a month roundup emails HERE. I’ve been very slack on writing these this year but they’ll start again in July. Each month we’ll share with you the top news and links in a single, short email. Simply click HERE to be added to the list, and you can opt out any time you like. (if the link doesn’t work please let me know asap).

If you’d prefer more regular emails to that then follow my blog HERE so that each time I post you get an email (roughly once a week), or you can follow his blog HERE. You can even sign up to all the above.

YOU-TUBE:

We’ve bought a Dashcam for the Kombi and we still have the GoPro from the “olden days” so while his YouTube channel is fairly empty now, it should start filling up pretty soon! So subscribe to it now so you get notified when we add travel videos or birds-eye views of cycling down the Swiss Alps at full speed or whatever else happens along the way… You can subscribe by clicking HERE and clicking the red subscribe button.

INSTAGRAM:

img_5958

If all you’re interested in seeing are the still photos, the one a day snapshots of highlights, then HERE is our account so follow us there. Again, you’ll need to comment if you want to keep seeing them in your Instagram feed.

PHONE:

Both of us are about to drop off the radar from an old-fashioned phone point of view. We are unsure of what any of this is going to look like and what access we will have. Many of our posts will make us appear very online, but often they will be scheduled to go off ahead of time and we’ll actually be out of range.

So we are unlikely to be able to Whatsapp our progress and Facebook messenger is a nightmare (we get so many rubbish messages we seem to miss many of the important ones). So please interact with us in the comments and we’ll endeavour to answer all of them and reply to all emails.

We both REALLY look forward to seeing you there and taking you with us on this journey! Get ready for a ride you did not expect!

PS: Most of my health issues will be kept separate from this whole Second Half space. I find most people aren’t interested and that’s ok. So if you also want to be a part of that journey, it’s on my personal Facebook profile.

PPS: Doug has decided to stick to WordPress and Twitter so you won’t find him on Facebook or Instagram.

IMG_3536

Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

YouTube |Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

@JPeaSmith

Packing up one’s life!

People keep telling me how brave we are. It feels weird, as we don’t feel brave. The theory of packing up our lives and having a season to rewind, repurpose, rewire our lives sounds to most people who’ve responded as a great idea… but brave.

Why brave? Are we stupid, blind, crazy? Am I missing yet another memo that everyone else appears to have?

There is little about what we’re doing that hasn’t been done before, and daily on social media, we are encouraged to do all these things. There is little about what we’re doing that we personally haven’t done before.

We spent the first year of our married life living in a campervan as illegal aliens in a foreign land with absolutely no money… pregnant!

This time we won’t live in it full time (next week we will be off in search of a possible small nest to use as a base), we will no doubt have a key to the van so we won’t need to jump start it every time we drive it. This time we should have a sink that works and we won’t need a wrench to open and close the sliding door. It will be pure luxury!

I’ve done 8 international moves, some of our belongings have circumnavigated the entire world over the last few decades. I thought there was nothing I didn’t know about selling houses & cars, culling, visas, home affairs and shipping. But I’m wrong…

We are talking about selling our safe spaces, dealing with 4 different countries at once, managing six different contexts on a regular basis and all the while juggling 17 balls at once, including new babies …and if we drop just one of them, even for a moment, they will all come crashing down. But I can do that, I’ve done it before…

But sometimes it feels like everything is going against us. As we speak Mr.S is driving to a lawyer in terrible traffic to have documents that have been just fine our entire lives, Apostillized! Autocorrect tells me that word doesn’t even exist. But I can tell you it does, and that lawyers can charge $750 for one document (we have 7 we need doing, but don’t worry, after the first one, the rest are only $350 each!!!). It’s like Certified copies on steroids and takes 2 days, and we need them yesterday. Thankfully someone who knows someone will do it for only a leg instead of both an arm and a leg, and we’re trying to be grateful while we choke.

It also turns out that there are apparently NO house buyers out there. This can’t be entirely true or literal (in the real sense of the word) of course but so far I’ve heard that story from almost everyone I know. And it’s not just buyers, it’s renters as well. They all up and left apparently.

I’m trying to remain optimistic but it’s tough when you feel well prepared for the nineteen doors that need knocking on, and you wisely expect that many of them won’t open easily. But I feel like I’ve smashed my face into just about all of them they are slammed shut so hard.

I’m trying not to let the voices in my head win and throw in the towel and do what everyone else does and just be normal for once. My husband tells me I like being different. I don’t, I can assure you I hate it. I just don’t know how to be the same as everyone else. I grew up missing all the memos everyone else got and had to work life out for myself. It’s hard to take the tarred road when you know what’s behind the fences along the side. Yes, it’s tough out there, but there are also so many mountains and streams and beaches and palm trees …. out there beyond the normal…

Anyway, sorry to have a gripe, but I promised to share the journey and it’s important not to make it look rosy when it isn’t. Right now it sucks!

(and sorry to use the same photo … Im tired…)

IMG_3536

Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

YouTube |Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

@JPeaSmith

Our Big News!!!

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 19.47.57It’s been too long since I’ve written, but it’s also been a bit hard. As many of you will know, I’m good at keeping a secret, but I’m not good at making something up to cover it. I’d rather say nothing than get all tied up in knots! So here is what has been happening and how it affects my books:

In the last two years or so, a handful of significant changes have happened in our lives:

TURNING 50:

Yes, we’ve both turned 50 in the last year or so (less for me, a little more for him). This marks for us both the middle of our adult years! How so you ask?

Well, in the last 18 months, we’ve each lost a relative which we hadn’t experienced in a very long time. I lost my uncle, who, at 83 is the youngest person to die in my father’s family, while Mr.S lost his last grandparent that same year at 96. There is a history of longevity on my mother’s side as well. This means that for both of us, accidents aside, our life expectancy is around 87. That means we each have about 37 years left on this crappy old earth, which is longer than the 30 odd years we have already been adults.

Now, while longevity and wellness do not mean the same thing by any means, our family members appear to fall into one of two categories; those who lived life till the end without ever “retiring” and those who retired young and then started coming apart at the seams quicker than I thought was possible. Those who lacked significant purpose have gone down fast … and yet not died for a very long time. Many of them spending their last decade or so bedridden (with their spouse bedridden in another room). And I use the word significant as there are all kinds of tiny little purposes in life that really don’t add up to very much.

This is not what we would like our endings to look like. My health issues are old news, but they’re not life-threatening, but I do need a lot more help if I’m to preserve my tendons and ligaments and therefore my whole body. We need to be very careful of me if I’m to last the distance in one piece (OK, that’s not going to happen, but for at least as much of it as possible).

WE READ THE BOOK:

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 13.18.02About 18 months ago we read this book called Half Time by Bob Buford. We spent the whole time nodding our heads and soaking a bunch of wisdom around the space of finishing work earlier rather than later, but NOT to retire. Rather, to do something more meaningful, significant, and which one can do right until the end.

Mr.S works very hard and always has, and he doesn’t have the kind of job that one can do part-time or in smaller doses. So continuing to do what he does but on a gentler level is not an option. But we don’t want to leave it too late to change gears either. And he works so hard there isn’t time to start anything new concurrently, (which is part of the Half Time premise).

But we have come to realize that for some people, there needs to be a season in the middle. That changing tack can be too swift or overwhelming. That we need a season to detox from the old before we can begin to build the new. A sabbatical as it were. A time to ground and breath and experiment and write and blog and publish and study and hide from the world….

We spent the first year of our married life in a WV van, so why not spend the beginning of our second half doing the same?

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 12.57.04.png

Over the next 6 months, we will be winding down life as we know it. The house is on the market, the car should be soon too. I am off to see the kids in a few weeks to do some groundwork there and we are off to Europe next week to do more groundwork there. There are work farewells both here and the USA, and there are belongings to sort through and cull, and so the list goes on.

Hopefully, in the next couple of weeks, we will find a second hand WV van to use as the shell for our new home, and I look forward to sharing the journey with you!!

But what this really means is that my husband will be back into publisher mode by then and we can start publishing again! Woohoo!!

IMG_3536

Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

YouTube |Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

@JPeaSmith