Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Is 60 the new 20? Two “over-the-hill” city-dwellers; year-long global travel adventure

August 18th, 2014
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Well into their second fifty years, Louise Lague and Tom Lichty decided to chuck all their material possessions and with the exception of one travel bag each, hit the road in April, 2013. They had no plans other than to see the world and enjoy the adventures of life in faraway places.

Louise Lague and Tom Lichty

Louise Lague and Tom Lichty

During the twelve months that followed, they lived in five countries, experienced two life-threatening health events, and traveled by bus, train, boat, airplane, and an occasional ATV.

They ended their year long trip saving more than $5,000 than they would have spent had they maintained what they were doing as city-dwellers in Portland, Oregon.

How did they do it? Where did they live? What did it cost? How did they survive?

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The Expat Almanac: Sell It All, Pack a Bag, Hit the Road captures their amazing story--their trepidations, joyous adventures, tearful holidays, travel bloopers, and the terrifying medical event that threatened Tom's life – twice—during a year of living in four other countries.

“Our kids have fled the nest and the retirement accounts are in place. We can still walk to the corner, we don’t drool, and although we never seem to remember all of our passwords, we do remember birthdays and Christmas, which seems to be enough. But retire? You mean golf and bingo and a condo in Florida? That kind of retire? That’s not us. Instead we abandoned comfort and security, sold almost everything we owned, packed one bag each, and embarked on an adventure that lasted a year.”

“We added up our expenses for the past ten months and indeed, it has cost us less — far less — to live than it did while we lived in Portland. In other words, for us full-time travel has been a money-saving venture. And an adventure to boot. How can that be? Well, to begin with we don’t have a car, and that’s financially significant. No automobile insurance. No homeowner’s insurance. No utilities. No Internet. No…”

The adventure began in April 2013. They lived in Girona, Spain—April through June, 2013; Chania, Greece—July, 2013; Bellagio, Italy—August, 2013; USA (visiting children)—September, 2013; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico—October, 2013 through March, 2014. At the end of that year, they moved back to Portland, Oregon.

They became very skilled at identifying how to find a great vacation rental from far away. Here are their five key secrets on finding a safe place that's just right for you.

1. Make a list of must-haves and deal breakers

Real estate is an emotional decision and it's easy to get carried away. In our excitement about the wood-burning fireplace, we may fail to notice that there's no internet connection.

2. Line it all up on a spreadsheet.

When you're doing a major search, it's hard to remember which one had air conditioning and which one had a balcony.

3. Check out the neighborhood online.

Pretty apartments can lurk in scary places. Use Google's street view, plus tourist reviews of nearby hotels to find out if you're in a neighborhood where gangs roam, where discos boom late into the night, or any place that seems dangerous. Also, how far is it from public transportation and taxi stands?

4. Ask for a better deal.

Once you've warmed up your potential landlord with a great show of responsibility and trustworthiness, ask if that is the best price. Longer stays almost always bring down the daily rate.

5. Make it personal.

You may not be renting someone's actual home or second home, but owners still want to know that you will respect the space. Build a relationship in advance by complimenting the décor, and asking about house rules. Reconfirm a few weeks ahead of time to be sure it hasn't been rented out – or sold—to someone else. Later, thank your landlord and write a nice review on his rental page.

On the eve of their return, Louise wrote the top ten things she learned from being away from home for a year:

1) Life can change drastically in a heartbeat. I guess I knew that, but I’d never watched someone so close to me so suddenly close to death. Tom’s episode was a life-changer.

2) It is possible to live without a home address and phone service, but it’s really hard.

3) Wherever we went, we saw multi-generational families together every Sunday, brunching and strolling in tribes everywhere. With my kids so far away, I was in tears on Thanksgiving, and a recovering motherholic all through December. I’m okay now. Especially with this new plan to pester them incessantly from now on. Maybe invite them over every weekend. Be the mother-in-law from hell.

4) Mexicans are really, truly, lovely people.

5) Wearing sandals for a whole year is even better than you think.

6) Our theory that Europeans seem, culturally, more generous and familiar with strangers truly held up. And we needed that a lot when Tom was ill. Our friends in Spain did all they could to translate medical Catalan, keep Tom entertained, keep me sane, and celebrate his birthday right after the hospital. I come home with more emotional and hospitable generosity.

7) I really missed the old friends who know our stories. The people you don’t have to keep introducing yourself to. The people you can trust. The people who invite themselves to our Oscar party. I missed our Oscar party.

8) I don’t need a lot of stuff. I don’t even need a lot of clothes. I hope that statement does not come back to haunt me.

9) One of our many miracles was that that Tom and I spent a year pretty much alone together without brickbats or even boredom. But it made me treasure my girlfriends now more than ever. I miss the girlfriends who tell you to go ahead and spend the money. And you look like you’ve lost weight. And let’s go to a movie in which there is Pierce Brosnan and also nothing explodes.

10) It is possible to live by the sea for six months in a row, hearing it roll and roar 24/7, and never once take it for granted. Who cares if there was no phone service or movies on demand? I am one of the luckiest people on earth. And I will always treasure the memories this year.

I am sad. I am happy. But above all I am so glad we did this.”

The breakdown:

How did you live?

Ahh, that’s the key: we lived in Spain, Greece, Italy, and Mexico. We didn’t just visit them.
By renting apartments for a month or longer (with the daily rhythms of kitchens, laundry, and housekeeping), we made friends, got to know our neighborhoods, and dispersed the desperation to frantically see it all before time ran out. We had time to take a table in a piazza, order a glass of wine, and casually observe daily life for hours rather than minutes.

How could you afford to do this?
Specifics: The key is we had no home and no car in the US while we traveled.

What we did NOT pay for (actual monthly averages):

• Portland rent $1700
• Automotive expenses 400
• Insurance 170
• Utilities (including phone, Internet) 290

What we DID pay for (actual monthly averages):

• Worldwide rent (included utilities, Internet, even housekeeping) $1600
• Storage 130
• Travel (air, train, ferry) 313
• Local transportation 75

What we did NOT pay/month $2560
What we DID pay/month 2118
Difference/month 442 (or ~ $5300/year)

• Let’s not forget no health club, no subscriptions, no memberships, no traffic tickets, and so much of the daily bits that drain one’s pocket! Also, just NOT buying things. We could never own more that could fit in our one bag each. Learning to cook each country’s cuisine; not a lot of restaurants.

Most importantly, before we left, we had a - “piggy” - bank and put our change into it for five years. It provided us with $200 … enough for four dinners out!

What did you do?

• We sold everything
• We did not renew our apartment lease
• We embarked on a journey without end
• We lived in (rather than visited) five countries
• We returned to Portland after twelve months

Why did you come back?

• Cost and lack of availability of health insurance (an issue for people of our age)
• Technical and practical inconvenience (poor Internet, iffy phones, no permanent address or phone number, no common language)
• Missed friends, family, neighborhood, and community

How did you live?

A lot of reading, walking to explore, buying food and cooking it (we both love food stores) sitting around in plazas, talking to people. Local markets, eavesdropping, and asking questions taught us a lot about the culture.

Learning the history which was LONG and fascinating everywhere. At night, we Googled everything that puzzled us during the day.

How much planning could you actually do?

Most advance research went into finding the towns, neighborhoods, and apartments we would live in. That, along with purging and packing, took up the year before departure.

How did you eat?

Since we avoided American food where it existed, (only one McDonald's in Milan airport, and wow was it DREADFUL….) we ate the food of the country both in restaurants and at home. Cookbooks and prowling through grocery stores provided most of the instructions.

I (Louise talking) was baffled by Mexican cuisine, so took a few classes. In Greece, our kitchen was too inadequate to do much….but Tom learned to love Greek food…in restaurants!

How to Be Happy

August 15th, 2014
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We've all had bad days. Bad periods, in fact! Now, some witty and humorous advice from Laurie Gardner, a Harvard-educated expert in personal development and leadership, in her new book The Road to Shine: A Story of Adventure, Life Lessons, and My Quest for More.

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“Virtually every country and culture has an expression that means, 'Life is short; don’t waste it,' yet too many people are settling for less in their lives – at work, in their relationships, with their health, and where they live. Although they sense that there’s more to life than what they’re living, they still keep themselves small instead of allowing themselves to shine," she says.

Here's a sample of that good advice about how to break free and create a life that’s more fun, full, and free:

Settle schmettle. Life’s too short not to live fully.

Choose among the chatter. Of all the voices in your head, follow the one that’s calm, non-judgmental, and clear. That “no duh” is your inner wisdom.

Happiness is an inside job. To be fully happy, make sure that what you do, whom you’re with, and where you live match who you really are.

You already know. The question is why you’re not doing it.

Think like a Spaniard. In Spanish, “esperar” means both to wait and to hope. Instead of trying to control specific outcomes and timing, have faith in “this or something better.”

Unsubscribe from your to-do list. Life is supposed to be fun, not an endless chase of chores.

Celebrate your inner freak. Do or say one “out there” thing daily that you’re sure everyone will judge.

You are what you Tweet. Be as aware of your words as you are of your actions.

Peel the onion, baby. Underneath your excuses are your fears. Under your fears is what’s really holding you back.

Downsize blame. Own your piece, nothing more, nothing less.

Your nose knows. Listen to your gut for when to trust someone and when to keep up your guard. If something smells fishy, it probably is.

Lose the schtick. Recognize when you’re acting a certain way because it’s authentic in that moment versus how others expect you to be.

Let it all out. In a society that values specialization, be proud if you have multiple passions and skills. Michelangelo and DaVinci were the rock stars of their day.

Change is a double-hop. Letting go of what wasn’t working is only the first step. Sticking it out until you get where you want is where true courage lies.

Practice “practical passion.” Balance your dreams with your current reality. If you can’t be a rock star, you can still sing in the shower.

Transform on your own time. Baby steps are as good as a big leap. Just keep moving forward.

Quit if it doesn’t fit. You know you’ve found your purpose when you can’t not do it.

Just answer the call. Your vision’s been on voicemail for too long.

For all those who sense that there must be something more…let the adventure begin.

I like the Spaniard tip... anything here resonate with you?

Valley of the Temples hosts second annual Obon Festival

August 13th, 2014
By



Valley of the Temples Memorial Park will celebrate the second annual Obon Festival on Saturday, Aug. 16 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Similar to America’s Thanksgiving, Obon marks a time when families reunite to celebrate their heritage with loved ones and ancestors who have passed away.

 

Courtesy: Valley of the Temples

Courtesy: Valley of the Temples

Held since the seventh century, Obon is a tradition that preserves Japanese heritage and passes the country’s culture to younger generations. In addition, two round-trip tickets to Japan will be given away during the event, courtesy of Valley of the Temples Memorial Park.

Courtesy: Valley of the Temples

Courtesy: Valley of the Temples

This year’s daylong festivities will begin with a traditional opening ceremony that calls upon the spirits of ancestors through incense burning and the offering of a prayer. Performers, including Wa-Taiko, Aikido and Naginata, are among those providing the day’s entertainment. The event will conclude when spirits will be symbolically guided back to the world of the deceased with illuminated lotus water lanterns lighting their way.

This family-friendly event will provide entertainment, fun events, activities and prizes for kids. Food and shaved ice will be available for purchase.

Courtesy: Valley of the Temples

Courtesy: Valley of the Temples

WHERE: Valley of the Temples Memorial Park

Byodo-In Temple

47-200 Kahekili Highway

Kaneohe, HI 96744

 

WHEN: Saturday, August 16, 2014

11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

 

WHO: Entertainment includes:

·        Traditional Bon Dance

·        Floating Lantern Ceremony with free lotus water lanterns

·        Dharma Talk & opera

·        Aikido

·        Minyo & drawing

·        Gagaku

·        Okinawan Dance, music & drawing

Visit www.valley-of-the-temples.com/who-we-are/community-events or call (808) 236-4078 for more information.

"A Day on the Land" to restore wetlands in Hawaiʻi Kai

August 6th, 2014
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Nearly 100 volunteers spent their Saturday  restoring two rarely accessible cultural sites in Hawaiʿi Kai - Hāwea Heiau and Keawawa Wetland - for The Trust for Public Land community workday known as “A Day on the Land.”

Courtesy: Ryan Kawamoto

Courtesy: Ryan Kawamoto

The work included removing invasive plants and trees, removing fencepost stumps, and replanting native greenery under the guidance of the community nonprofit Livable Hawaii Kai Hui, which now owns and stewards this special place.

 

Courtesy: Ryan Kawamoto

Courtesy: Ryan Kawamoto

 

Keawawa wetland is home to a number of endangered species, including ʿalae ʿula (Hawaiian moor hen), ʿaukuʿu (Black-crowned night heron) and pinao (Hawaiian dragonfly). The five-acre property contains petroglyphs, a heiau and ahu (altar), agricultural terraces, and one of the oldest niu (coconut) groves on Oʿahu. Once slated for development, the site is now a community-owned and managed Hawaiian cultural heritage preserve.

Courtesy: Ryan Kawamoto

Courtesy: Ryan Kawamoto

Workday participants included The Trust for Public Land's local donors, board members, and sponsoring companies that sent volunteer teams of employees. "We are especially thrilled about local corporate supporters -- most of our volunteers came  from Hawaiian Electric , HMSA, Morgan Stanley, and Alaska Airlines" said Leslie Uptain, The Trust for Public Land's Director of Philanthropy.

Courtesy: Ryan Kawamoto

Courtesy: Ryan Kawamoto

"This is important work because The Trust for Public Land is a nonprofit organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as gardens, parks, and natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since 1979, we have conserved over 42,000 acres of land across Hawai‘i." To volunteer or learn more, contact Leslie.Uptain@tpl.org or 808-524-8694.

Six Steps for Managing Fear and Anxiety

August 1st, 2014
By



Most of us, at some time or another, experience fear and anxiety. We worry about our teenager driving at night. We fret about whether we'll be laid off. We fear the worst when we notice an odd lump or feel a shooting pain.

Here are six techniques from psychotherapist Jude Bijou, M.A./ M.F.T. to help you let go of fears and worry:

1. Release the emotion.
Scientists understand that emotions are physical--pure energy that's produced by our brain. When we feel an emotion such as fear, we experience physical symptoms such as fast heartbeat, shortness of breath, or stomach upset. You can release fear physically and constructively by shivering and quivering, like a dog at the vet. Let your whole body do what it wants to do--shake and tremble. Do it with vigor, and even better, accompanied by eeek orbrrrr, and very quickly you will notice that your symptoms of fear are diminished or gone.

2. Restore your perspective.
Next, use conscious thinking to interrupt repetitive, fear-based thoughts going on in your head. Say to yourself, "Everything is all right," "Everything will be okay," "One thing at a time," "Be here now," or "I can handle this." Even though you're the one telling yourself these truths, positive self-talk and reassurance really do change your attitude and pacify your body. Keep interrupting the old and remembering the reality.

3. Look within for the right action.
Often, fear is just something in our thoughts that requires no action. But sometimes we can relieve the anxiety and physical sensations by pausing and asking within for what action needs to be done. Maybe it's taking a "fear of flying" course, talking to your mate, asking your boss for help, or learning to meditate. Ask yourself if there's any action called for, and listen. Your heart will guide you well.

4. Make a list of what needs attention.
Usually, fear is a sign that some things in our life need attention. It's helpful and grounding to write down the top priorities in your life right now or all the things you need to do. You may discover that the fear and worry you're experiencing has to do with something else entirely. For example, you're fearful about your financial future, yet you've been putting off taking that last semester of courses to earn your master's degree. Having that degree would open up new career possibilities and relieve some of your financial fears. Look at your list, prioritize the items, then just do one thing at a time.

5. Stay specific; don't globalize.
When we give in to fear, we tend to feel worried about lots of things. For example, we can't pay one bill this month, and suddenly our fear spins out a novella about getting evicted, becoming homeless, and losing touch with all our loved ones. Instead, take one issue at a time--such as that bill--and address it as a single obstacle or challenge that needs your attention. The devil is in the details, so stay specific and present, and your fear will take a back seat.

6. Give yourself encouragement.
Keep offering praise for each little step. Say, "Good for me." Giving yourself this recognition feels like a small victory. This is what courage feels like--it feels like overcoming, being resilient, and pushing through. Your fearlessness will grow.

With every step you take to manage and work through your fear, remember to stay true to your heart!