Five Years

15 Posted by - April 22, 2013 - Life, Mexico
cooking with tequila

Our kitchen table today… the tequila was for cooking, but I feel like a margarita is in order!

In April, 2008, I started this blog to chronicle what I thought at the time was the biggest thing I could do: quit my job and travel. At the time, I couldn’t even see past what would happen when I turned in my notice, never mind five years down the road. I was sweating and shaking like an over-bred Pomeranian on a road trip. I was a mess. Drew thought it was hilarious, and suggested I name the site “Almost Fearless” — a recommendation I took, and that spring, I did become almost fearless, because I left GE, I packed up our Boston apartment and shipped myself, my husband and our two dogs over to Madrid, where I began my career as a freelance writer and photographer.

That was the scariest thing I had ever done.

Then life moves on. I traveled to 35 countries, stopping to live in many along the way, I took thousands of photos each year, I wrote several books worth of blog content, I studied Mandarin, Spanish and Arabic, I had a baby… then I had a second baby, I sold my book idea, my husband and I filmed and edited a documentary and then…

Suddenly I looked up, holding my six week old daughter, living in Mexico, my toddler running around with a Hulk mask on and yelling “Agua! Por favor!” (don’t ask) and realizing that — holy crap — not only has it been five years since I started this site and pressed the reset button on my life, but I really have no idea how I got here. Seriously, it was just supposed to be a little travel, some writing, I’d take a few pictures. That’s it! Yet, somehow that one moment, not just saying I wanted to travel, but actually chucking everything to make it happen — the leap that I took — it changed everything. It opened the floodgates.

Five years ago, I didn’t think I wanted to have kids. Amazing what a little jaunt around the world will do — 16 months later I was pregnant. I always wanted to learn other languages — for YEARS I said this — but I finally got down to business and seriously started studying not just one, but three. I learned about food — it blew my mind what I had been missing — and cooking local dishes has become an integral way that I learn about a place. It’s shaped my thoughts on raising kids, especially when you see how different cultures do it, but also when you consider the kind of creative, risk-taking and independent life we have now, how can we not give our kids the same thing? It’s made me want to travel more, but slowly, to never ever go home, to have lots of babies with my husband and to create art and play with the kids, and learn about the world.

If I talked to my pre-almost fearless self, she’d probably say, “Oh god, you’ve become such a hippie.”

Yeah, I know, right?

So five years in, I’m not looking back, I’m looking forward. I created this site as a totally different person, so I felt like it was time to catch up to where I am now. I did some things on the backend to make this easier, I broke a lot of stuff (mostly fixed now, I think) and I’m kind of thrilled at the result. If you’re reading this post from your RSS reader or email, go to the site real quick and check it out.

The big changes

There are four main sections of the site now: Life, Kitchen, Photos, Kids.

Life – This is the main blog as you know it now. I didn’t call it travel because, well I LIVE in Mexico. In six months, I’ll live in Asia. I’m not really a traveler, I’m more of a serial expat. I tried to think of a succinct mashup to describe it, like “flashpacker” but for traveling where you have a fully stocked house yet change travel plans so often that your three year old still talks about places in Thailand like they are right down the street (“Sorry sweetie, we can’t go to Kad Suan Kaew because it’s on the other side of the world…). Expat-flash-slow-packer? Okay, I’ll stop.

Kitchen – It’s my new food blog — I’ll be recreating the dishes that I find in my travels, using local ingredients as much as possible and finding out fascinating things like “What’s the difference between corn and flour tortillas” and then finding out it’s LARD, which apparently is delicious. As in “I don’t know what it is about these tortillas but they just TASTE better.” Yeah, honey that’s the lard.

Photos – I created a separate section for photo essays, which usually are from my travels, but might include anything. Of course there are photos all throughout the site, but I’d like to explore more photography-based story-telling and now I have a space to do that.

Kids: I’ll never really be a parenting blogger, I just don’t get into my kids’ day-to-day like that, but I am finding learning languages with Cole to be really interesting, and I’d like to talk more about raising bilingual/multilingual children. I’m also on the cusp of Cole’s school years (in some countries they start kids at 3, so perhaps I’m behind!) and I’m trying to figure out how to do that. Homeschool? International school? Playful art curriculum like Reggio Emilia? Unschooling? I don’t know where this will lead, but we want an emphasis on languages, art, music and play for those first few years.

Other things

In each section you can sort through my posts by the number of comments or ‘likes’ (new feature: that’s the little heart on each post, click the heart to ‘like’ it, which is like saying ‘worth reading!’ or simply, “yay!”). So you can very easily navigate around the archives of my site, check out what posts caused the most controversy over the years or what people liked the most. There’s also a new search page that lets you search the entire site. Hopefully this makes it easier for you to find older content, because that was some feedback I had received about the site… it was too hard to find things!

I’m also working on translated versions of the site, but that will come in a few weeks after things settle down. I’ll be translating select pieces in Arabic, Spanish and Mandarin, mostly as practice for myself, but also I would like to connect with readers who speak those languages! When a post is translated, there will just be a little link on the bottom to the translated page, if there is one.

So that’s it! The new structure of the site lets me do some cool things, like in the life section, you can filter by country but in the kitchen section, you can filter by cuisine. Little things like that. And big things too. Like it makes me extremely happy. I hope you guys like it!

Happy Five Years!

  • http://www.wheressharon.com Wheres Sharon? (Sharon)

    Congrats on 5 years!! The new site looks great, and I look forward to following your next 5 years!!

  • http://20literadventure.com OCDemon

    It’s pretty amazing to think what might have been if X had happened or not. I always wonder what might have happened if I had gone some other place, or done it a week later or earlier, or learned French in high school instead of Spanish. Whatever. But I bet if you had stayed at home for 5 years, life wouldn’t have been as good as this. Nicely done.

  • Craig Van Waardenburg

    Christine, Five Years, what a great little read. Very inspriational. I’m travelling with my family now. We’re three months into a 10 month round the worlder and the longer we’re away the more I don’t feel like ever going back. I want your life:)
    Our blog is cvw-rtw.blogspot.com if you want to have a peek.

    • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      That’s the risk, right? You might never be the same! :) Checking out your site now…

  • http://www.thewrongwayhome.com/i-didnt-love-paris/ Izy Berry

    Congratulations! And I like your new site arrangement by the way. :)

    • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Thanks!

  • http://thepresentperfect.wordpress.com Lindsay

    It’s gorgeous!

  • Desidério

    Wonderful improvements!

  • Tina

    Happy 5th!! I ‘found’ you December 31st 2009 (creepy that I remember the date, but only because I was sitting home on New Years’ Eve with my 1 year old) but I feel like I’ve followed you from the beginning because I went back and read from the beginning. I love to see the growth and change that you have experienced. It challenges me to step out of the unknown more and see what happens. Thanks for sharing your journey!

    • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Wow! That’s awesome. Thank you! I have blogs like that — soulemama.com I started reading so long ago it’s crazy, I didn’t even have kids at the time. lol.

  • janel

    It’s beautiful. I love it!

  • http://evolvingepicurean.blogspot.com Carmel

    When you left, did you plan to travel indefinitely?

    And happy blogoversary! I think you done good. ;)

    • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      I didn’t… I was completely open to whatever happened, but I had no set plans.

  • Sonia

    Well Done… it’s been great seeing this transform over the years!

    • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Thank you!

  • http://www.tellthemisaidsomething.com Tyrhone

    They say a change is as good as a holiday, I wonder if that still counts when you are on a holiday? Kudos on the new design, it’s very intuitive.

  • http://passingthru.com Betsy Wuebker

    Aloha and congrats, Christine on a great milestone! Slow living is just the way.

  • http://www.NatalieTravels.com Natalie

    Congratulations on 5 years! I love your blog.

    • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Thank you!

  • http://www.mybeautifuladventures.com Andi of My Beautiful Adventures

    It’s amazing how much life can change in 5 years!!! Congrats and I love the new blog!

  • Judy

    As I have end-stage COPD, I love reading your blog. It is seeing the world through your eyes! Congratulations and high-five on doing something that many of us can only dream about.

    • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Thank you so much!

  • http://www.mollyeverafter.com/ Molly

    Love the redesign! I’ve been following your blog for a few months now, and you inspire me to travel more. My husband and I are planning on taking a Thailand trip in November for Chiang Mai!

    • http://www.mollyeverafter.com/ Molly

      Whoops…I meant for Yi Peng IN Chiang Mai.

      • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

        Nice! I love that time of year in Chiang Mai and the festival is great. Enjoy!

  • http://roadslesstraveled.us Emily of Roads Less Traveled

    What a thrill for you. Sounds familiar!! Last summer — my fifth summer of full-time travel (via RV and sailboat) and my fourth summer of “blogging” (I had thought it was a website), I overhauled my site and moved to WordPress. (http://roadslesstraveled.us)

    Talk about 6 weeks of 18 hour days learning CSS and PHP. Yikes!!!

    But I’m thrilled with the end product, as I’m sure you are too. And after 6 years of full-time travel my sweet hubby and I are thinking about becoming serial ex-pats (and maybe just “pats” with a home base at home).

    Running away to a life of adventure is such a thrill — it opens your heart — and it opens incredible doors — but you end up CHANGED (which is cool) — and sometimes you have to pause a moment and take stock.

    I’m so with you on this post… thanks for sharing and congrats on your great new online look!!!!

    • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Isn’t blogging crazy? Thanks for stopping by!

  • http://www.ephemeraanddetritus.com MaryAnne

    Congratulations on 5 yeas of upheaval and transformation! It’s amazing what can happen in just a few years once you start unpicking the stitches that held you in your previous, more geographically stable life. I’m coming on to the 3 year anniversary of my blog (in 2 days, I think) and am kind of stunned at what changes have taken place in such a short space of time– and what changes are coming up very soon (hello total upheaval again!).

    I totally relate to how you guys have sorted out your travel style over the years. As a serial expat/ridiculously slow traveller, I can wholeheartedly understand how lovely it is to set up house somewhere, stay until you feel the need to move on, and then to move on when the craving hits to learn something different or to try something completely new.

    I look forward to finding out what new and amazing pathways you guys decide to follow over the next few years. It’s a ridiculously liberating approach to living life, isn’t it?

    PS The redesign is lovely!

    • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Maryanne! I’m so looking forward to your new adventures!

  • http://www.karakurcz.com Kara

    I really enjoyed reading your story. My life was changed two years ago when my husband was diagnosed with Colon Cancer at 34. We sort of through the old way of thinking out the window and started living. I just really started my blog recently but you inspired me to keep going. You can see mine at http://www.closetkarma.com if you have time.
    Love and Light to you! And I will keep reading.

    • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Thank you Kara!

  • http://acruisingcouple.com Casey @ A Cruising Couple

    Amazing what five years can change in your life! I loved your description of what you were like when you quit your job. In August my husband and I will be leaving Taiwan and hoping to travel long term. People keep asking us what the plan is, and I’m trying to act all cool, like, we don’t have one, we’re just going to travel as long as possible and see what opportunities arise. I’m definitely freaking out though :-) It’s totally inspiring to see what you and your family have done, and how travel has changed you! Love the new look!

  • http://www.sarahsomewhere.com Sarah Somewhere

    Happy five years! You are certainly the Pioneer Woman in my eyes, I have loved following your journey and am equally excited to continue. The site looks great and I can’t wait to replicate some of your recipes, and see what choices you make for the kid’s education. I don’t have kids, and like you five years ago, am not sure I will, but honestly you guys make it look at least possible to do whilst living abroad, if not really, really fun!!

  • http://comingsoon sara

    You truly inspire me! After several years of loss and heartache intermixed with hope and new beginnings I can finally see the the start of the life I’ve always wanted but have been too afraid or too wrapped up in “stuff” to jump into. I will soon be setting of as you did 5 years ago on a new life adventure without any solid plans or expectations, just allowing it all to unfold. I also plan to start a blog myself, even if it’s only me that reads it as I’m sure you get as much enjoyment out of it as all of us that follow you. Thank you for sharing and I will continue to follow you as long as you invite us to.

    • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Thank you!

  • http://seejulestravel.com/ Jules

    A million congrats! Thanks for sharing your adventures with us!

  • http://www.worldlytravelersguide.com Sharon

    Love love love the new site and this post! What you have been doing with your life is super inspirational! Congrats! Can’t wait to see some of your translated posts. I’d be checking out those in Mandarin. :-)

  • http://globalhelpswap.com/ Paul Farrugia (globalhelpswap)

    Congratulations Christine!!! You are such an inspiration to us.
    Keep up the good work!

    Take care,
    Paul

  • http://www.cafecouture.com.au Leanne

    Congratulations, that was a beautiful read – very inspiring. I think you are completely fearless! Well done

  • http://travelshus.com Annie of TravelShus

    i love the new design! great job! cant wait to keep reading. CONGRATS!

  • Natalie

    Love the new layout! As for schooling, ever thought about Waldorf schools? They’re definitely different than traditional schools and focus on learning based on the individual, languages, art, nature, etc.

    Can’t wait to read the rest of your new posts! :)

  • http://Www.jsoutofbounds.blogspot.com Jessica Young

    Christine,
    I have been reading your blog for about a year now as we prepared to begin what we thought would be about a two year journey. 10 months into it, we are asking the type of questions that could lead to your evolved lifestyle. Good on ya as they say in Australia. We write a story about once every week or two if you want to check it out. http://Www.jsoutofbounds.blogspot.com.

    Thanks for the joy in reading you have given me,
    Jessica

  • http://www.wanderfearless.com Sally

    Congratulations on 5 years and your successes, truly inspiring and I look forward to delving through your archives for inspiration :)

  • http://www.bridgesandballoons.com Victoria

    Having only started out journey a year ago, I feel truly inspired by all you’ve done. I’m sorry we didn’t get to meet back in Mexico. Hopefully we’ll cross paths another time. The site looks beautiful.

  • http://expatedna.com Edna

    Congrats on five years and the new site! This year marks five years since I moved to China and kicked off my own serial expat path so I’m right there with you — incredible how five years is both unbelievably short and ridiculously life-changingly-long at the same time.

  • http://www.frugalconfessions.com Amanda L Grossman

    Happy Five years!

    I quit my day job just three short months ago. Not to travel, though I did take a 2.5 week working trip to visit my family in PA. But to write/blog full-time. What a leap! I wonder where I will be in five years…

  • http://www.vagabondrich.com Rich

    It’s nice to read the “how it all began” type posts from the long-term bloggers such as yourself Christine. It’s awesome to see where what is basically the creation of words can take you!

  • http://gobefore.me/ Renan Ferrer

    Hello Christine. I did not know your blog. Very beautiful and with lots of interesting information. Congratulations for the work.

    I really liked the picture at the top with the tequila. Looks like a painting. Excellent work.

    Keep it up, my wife and I will be following from now on your posts!

    Thanks for sharing with us!

    Cheers

    Renan Ferrer

  • Ahmed Elkomy

    i can help you translate your posts in Arabic, if you wan