by Carmel on May 7, 2013 · 26 comments


I know I left it around here somewhere…

A week ago, we were almost ready to launch our blog. My friend Hannah and her boyfriend Lee worked tirelessly to get this blog designed and functioning. She asked me after revealing the final draft of our design – “How soon do you want this up and running? We can do this in a few days if you want.” We were so jazzed about the design and all of the ideas Hannah suggested, we wanted to take this momentum and run with it. So I said, “Monday or Tuesday.” Yep, a two or three day turnaround seemed like a fair enough deadline (or not). But I went forward with confidence that we could start this after getting an enthusiastic “yes!” from Shawn.

On Sunday, we went to work. After we gave her our blessing on the design, Hannah sent us a list of things we needed to do. Besides the signing up for a million different services, including our social media, we also needed to provide content. We had already worked on a couple of quintessential notables like the about us section and a tentative itinerary. But now we needed to create something far more intimidating – The First Post. Our introduction to the world didn’t have to be long. It didn’t have to be a complete picture of everything we are and who we want to be…but it did have to give people a glimpse of what this journey is all about. How we got here and why it’s so important to us. And it had to be done in fewer than 10,000 words, which is sadly the path I had been on when I finally told Shawn, “You do it.” I can’t tell you how many drafts of that first post I had. They all sounded fake, though. They all sounded like someone else – the blogger I wanted to be, not the one I am. I wanted it to sound just like us and instead it sounded like something a robot might piece together and spew out if it read as many travel blogs as I had.

So, Shawn wrote the first post. When he sent it to me, I just looked at him and said, “It’s perfect.” It was everything I wanted to say and more.

“Most people are much better at saying things in letters than in conversation, and some people can write inventive, artistic letters, but when they try a poem or story or novel they become pretentious.”
– Charles Bukowski

Months ago when we first started tossing around ideas for the blog, I told him I thought we should schedule some time to sit down and figure out how we were going to weave our individual writing styles together so that the blog would seem more cohesive. He looked at me like I was insane (rightfully so) and said, “It’ll be fine.” Despite my arguments, which weren’t very good, I agreed and let it go.

One of the things I struggled with when starting this blog, and to an extent starting this adventure, was how to find my Voice. What did I have to contribute to this wide world of blogging where such talented writers, photographers, and poets exist? When it was time to give Hannah a suggested third and the last post before we officially launched the blog, I opted out. She assured us it was fine, and it was. We were still welcomed with an overwhelmingly positive response (thanks all of you again!) I decided I couldn’t force the posts. I had to let them come to me.

I talked to Shawn about my concerns later that night, and he told me not to force it…that I had basically just “written” my post while talking to him. And that’s where I found it. My voice. This is just a conversation between me and my best friend, my husband. We’re letting you in on our wonderfully weird and sometimes inane conversations. It’s the best voice I have to share. The one that I use with the person I love most in this world and with whom I wanted to share this adventure with in the first place. It’s still mine, but it’s the place where I feel most comfortable just being myself.


{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Hannah May 8, 2013 at 1:25 am

Finding your voice when you first start blogging can be so hard – it took me months before I finally felt that I had managed to let go and just be myself, and I cringe when I go back and read my earlier posts because it just wasn’t me. This is only the second post you have written, and I can already hear YOU in every word. I truly can’t wait to read your next post.


Carmel May 8, 2013 at 2:41 pm

That means a lot coming from you. I know I’m my own worst critic and I am trying to let that go (no, really, I am!). I also know I tend to try for perfection, even though I know there’s no such thing. It’ll be good practice putting my writing and myself out there.


Gillian @GlobalBookshelf May 8, 2013 at 7:19 am

I think it sounds about perfect. Thank you for letting us in.
Gillian @GlobalBookshelf recently posted…Birth Of The Global BookshelfMy Profile


Carmel May 8, 2013 at 2:42 pm

I hope we don’t scare you off! 🙂


Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) May 8, 2013 at 8:50 am

I agree with Hannah, insofar as I think that we are all works in progress and I think we all put too much pressure to nail things on the first try. Tony & I agonized over all the things we wanted 20YH to be and we’re sure how much emphasis to give each aspect… in the end, I’ve found that the site has just naturally evolved to a state where it has all the elements I worried about incorporating are in harmony. I couldn’t know at the start what direction the blog would organically take and how it would settle, I just had to take it a day at a time and let it become what it would. It seems like you’re starting off just as you want, but don’t feel like your blog has to be fully formed right from the start. It’s ok for it to be in its infant stages and need some time to grow!
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…How To Spend $100 A Day In The PhilippinesMy Profile


Carmel May 8, 2013 at 2:43 pm

I’ve been lucky enough to read your blog basically from the beginning and you’re absolutely right – it really has naturally evolved to what it is and it all just works. I guess sometimes you just have to trust yourself and let it happen.


Sarah Somewhere May 8, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Of course Shawn is right!! We should know to listen to our calm, level-headed partners by now shouldn’t we?! Never! I think you guys make a great team on the blog, just as you do in life, and I’m especially looking forward to your different styles/ perceptions. You have a lovely natural, down to earth writing style, and have nothing to worry about except food poisoning, tropical diseases, and questionable sanitation (insert evil laugh)…
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Carmel May 8, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Pfft…what could I learn from being calm? I guess if I’ve managed to be a part of this team that’s created a good marriage, I’m bound to do ok while traveling/writing.

Is that all we have to worry about now? This travel thing is bound to be a piece of cake then! Mmm…cake.


Jade May 9, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Congratulations on finding your voice! This is a great, honest post and I can’t wait to hear more!
This is something that I have struggled with too, especially at this moment in time when my blog is having to take a back seat to my final exams… But I know that it will come, and for now I am almost just as happy to write simply for the practice, even if it isn’t perfect!


Carmel May 13, 2013 at 11:35 am

Thank you! That’s really the attitude I took with my food blog and it provided me a ton of practice, which has come in handy for this blog. It’s also taught me not to force the writing–it’ll come.


Christine Gilbert May 10, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Yay! The first post! I love your voice, I feel drawn in already. Can’t wait to hear how your travels go.
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Carmel May 13, 2013 at 11:35 am

Thanks, Christine! I can’t wait to get traveling and have something to write about other than my cats. Oh wait, I haven’t started down that path yet…


Rika | Cubicle Throwdown May 10, 2013 at 9:07 pm

You guys are off to a great start – I’m already hooked! And the design is amazing, well done Hannah!
Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted…How Being an Expat Has Changed Me (or, I Never Knew I Could Drink This Much)My Profile


Carmel May 13, 2013 at 11:36 am

Isn’t it great? We’re so excited to get going, although obviously the reality of not seeing our friends and family is starting to set in. By the way, I love your blog name!


Rob May 13, 2013 at 11:32 am

Hey Carmel,

Nice blog post. As a newbie to blogging myself you have basically summed up many of my inner thoughts. Thanks for putting a voice to it 🙂 I decided to just be my geeky self and hope for the best!

Enjoying the posts, looking forward to following your journey.

Rob recently posted…Saving tips – Raising £30,000 for our travel dream!My Profile


Carmel May 13, 2013 at 11:37 am

It’s taken me awhile to be ready to show my true dorkiness to the world wide web. Thanks for stopping by!


Franca May 15, 2013 at 7:48 am

It is absolutely normal to feel a little unsure about how to write making sure you don’t force the way you do it. It took a little bit for myself and I still think there is room for naturally evolving and improvement, we’ll see.. Well done for finding your voice so soon! 🙂
Franca recently posted…Learning English Before Lunch in LaosMy Profile


Carmel May 24, 2013 at 10:45 am

I always know when I’m forcing it. I have a food blog, so I do have some experience with waiting for the words to come, but at least with that blog, I have a subject. I don’t have to find a subject. Although once we actually start traveling, that will be less of a problem. Thanks!
Carmel recently posted…HOW WE’RE SAVINGMy Profile


Kim May 24, 2013 at 10:34 am

Finding your voice is difficult. Like Hannah, I cringe when I go back and read my first posts. I’m there, in those posts, but I’ve just been able to refine my voice over time. I can hear you in your posts already and it is lovely, and I love that we get to hear Shawn’s voice too. Xo


Carmel May 24, 2013 at 10:47 am

Neither one of you should cringe. Seriously. I’ve read a lot of bad writing. You both have definitely evolved and are even stronger than you were when you started, but it was never cringe-worthy.

I am ELATED that Shawn is writing, too. I fall in deeper in love with him every time I read a new post of his.
Carmel recently posted…HOW WE’RE SAVINGMy Profile


Candace May 29, 2013 at 6:34 am

I love this post so much, Carmel – not only for how beautifully honest it is, but also just for how much I relate to it! It took me forever to find my online voice – really the whole year I spent in New Zealand, posting on my blog, was a process of that – and I think the way it happened was simply just by writing, writing, writing! Not worrying about what I needed to sound like or what people would think, but just writing in a tone that felt natural. Thanks so much for letting us in on the wonderful conversations between you and Shawn – it’s going to be so fun to follow along your journey 🙂
Candace recently posted…sketching southeast asia and japan: thai canals, a trip in review, and thank you!My Profile


Carmel May 29, 2013 at 8:12 am

I think it helped that I was already doing some writing online and that I learned early on that the best way to get better at writing was to write. However, it felt like a completely new direction for me and suddenly, I was standing out in the middle of the stage with no better topic than me. Especially since we haven’t started traveling yet. It’s a little intimidating, but I try to remember that this blog is first and foremost for us to document our experiences. I want to remember all the fear, anxiety and frustration from before our travels to whatever happens during our travels. We’ll see what happens!


Ravinder Tulsiani Manager Learning and Development July 31, 2013 at 1:53 pm



Shawn July 31, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Hey, thanks for reading the post!


Life August 4, 2013 at 4:28 pm

“The game of life is not so much in holding a good hand as playing a poor hand well.” – words by H. T. Leslie


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