The World in Between Starts…

A bridge over the Danube

Crossing the Bridge

As much as I dream of tossing a backpack over my shoulder and heading down the road without a care or a map or a confirmation code of exactly where I will spend the first night (complete with address and phone number), I can’t.  I am a planner, a plodder, a person who deals poorly with failure and surprise.  Last weekend, I wrote a branding strategy for The World in Between (I realize that makes me equal parts nerdy, presumptuous and just plain pathetic). But that’s how I operate.  When I finished, I had crafted a framework to dictate my blog content and completed a painful and gut wrenching assessment of the World in Between demographic.  And, of course, I documented a three-year plan which sets my retirement date and commences two years of nomadic travel.  I need this plan, but Pat needs it more.  I showed him the details and reassured him.  “Trust me on this. It’s going to be OK.”  He remains skeptical.  I am as excited as ever.

When I started this blog, I didn’t think through content or audience or anything.  I approached it like I do so many things in life, another hair brain scheme which would seem terribly important today and would be forgotten in a month.   Last week, as I hit “publish” for the 115th time, I realized this blog isn’t going to careen into my graveyard of crazy ideas.  Hence the branding strategy.  It is time – past time – to figure out what I am trying to accomplish, focus my writings  and course correct.   Here’s an excerpt from my brand strategy:

The World in Between is reflective of an early, adventurous, and affordable retirement (to use an overused word, “nomadic”).  In this case, nomadic life is a means to an end: retire early, continue the ability to travel with limited funds, stay connected, engaged, vibrant and all while integrating family and friends.  Living nomadically does not imply living outside the US.   It merely implies living without a single and permanent home.

Two years ago my son, Ryan, created my wordpress account and selected the title: “The World in Between”.  It fits, but I struggle to describe it.  Not because the meaning isn’t crystal clear, at least to me.  I envision the World in Between as a bridge.  On one shore, I am a professional in corporate America working and raising our three kids.   The elephant in the room lives on the opposite bank.  There, I sit in a rocking chair or a wheel chair wearing decidedly non-globe trotting, orthopedic shoes.   Since the World in Between is my blog, I can avoid looking at that bank. Instead, I will focus on the bridge; the wealth of possibilities which exist beyond convention.  John G. Morris moved to Paris at the age of 68 and ran Barack Obama’s Paris expat re-election campaign at 95.  He is currently a 97-year-old jet setter.   That’s another tenant of the World in Between.   Keep it positive – and believe all things are possible.

When I google “nomad” in any travel or lifestyle context, all my hits are 20 and 30 year olds living and moving around the world, often at warp speed.   They work as social media consultants, ride vespas and look adorable in their pictures; tank tops with toned and tanned arms and bandana covered heads.  I am 56 and would expect to be arrested if I ventured outside in a tank top (I’d plead insanity).   Pat will abandon the journey if I wear a bandana.  I am not interested in their life.  And they are not interested in mine.  I envision my blog readers as people who: travel on the cheap because they value local experiences and relationships; dream of, or have entered, their own World in Between; and have waddles under their arms which swing about often independent of arm movement.

With all this completed, I scribbled a list: “Passions”.  In a branding strategy guide, one sentence resonated with me.   In order to have an authentic brand, you have to stay true to your passions.  My content will swirl around some predictable list of “how tos”, culture and traditions, and travel information.   And I will focus on a very specific list of passions:

    • Biking (flat and dedicated trails)

    • Hiking and long walks

    • Coffee Shops

    • Cemeteries

    • Markets and cooking

    • Churches and houses of worship

    • Dark chocolate and red wine

    • Baths and saunas

    • Old back streets

    • Books by local authors

    • Music in small venues

    • Vermeer paintings and French Impressionists

    • Interesting people

    • Cultural idiosyncrasies

This weekend, we put the plan into action.  Today, we bought tickets to four classical music performances in three different venues spread over the next six weeks.   I picked up two books by Hungarian authors.   Tomorrow, we soak in the baths near our apartment.  We hope to rekindle the restless discovery inherent in our early days in Bratislava.

Capturing my thoughts on paper kick started me.  I am excited to begin the next three years of this blog.  Attending classical music performances in Budapest and soaking in their world-renowned baths make me realize, I am already standing on the bridge.  I may still have one foot back on the bank, but the other is firmly planted on the bridge.   The World in Between is now.  I hope not to over analyze the future or the past.  Planning is a part of who I am.  But the World in Between is about grabbing all you can on whatever bridge you elect to cross.

Categories: Ruminations

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12 replies

  1. A+ for your list of passions– chocolate, wine, books, and coffee are always a good idea. Can’t wait to see where the next 3 years take your blog and you two!

  2. Great post. Love the new look of the blog.

  3. Julie: You are a spark — an amazing woman. I hope you cross that bridge bc those of us that read your writings will enjoy the adventures! Love to you and Pat, Pam

  4. I think that you and I should travel together in the future, because our passion list overlaps quite a lot! Tim and I also feel “in between”– we’re in that 30s bracket, and married, so we don’t feel like the bohemian backpackers we might have been at 21 (and actually, I somehow skipped that phase). A suspect hostel isn’t going to do it for us anymore, but we can’t afford a fancy hotel and we’re looking more for that authentic experience. I truly admire the plan you’re laying out for the coming years.

    • Hi Meghan…. I am game for any travel! You and Tim are so fortunate to have these experiences at such a young age and when it can influence your life choices. I will be excited to see what happens for guys!….

  5. The last two on your list are what interest me most – cultural idiosyncrasies and interesting people – from this side of the bridge.

  6. Keep writing. I was born in Hungary, but I have lived the majority of my life in the US. I am interested in how others experience the country and the region.

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