unconventional life

I recently read a book called The Art of Non-Conformity. You might have heard of it. I found it through Ali Edwards. I find a lot of inspiration from Ali Edwards. Any way the author of the book Chris Guillebeau also has a blog by the same name. You can find it here. The blog and the book are all about unconventional strategies for life, work and travel. I get that. My life is pretty unconventional. It wasn’t always that way, but it is now.

I can’t say that I had the original plan for an unconventional life. I can say that I believed in my husband. He sold me. He didn’t want to have a “normal” life. And we don’t. We live on an island in the archipelago of Bocas del Toro, Panama at a small eco adventure lodge that we own with another couple. Three of us manage the lodge. We live here with our two children ages 7 and 4. We also have a whole crew of extended “family” that live here with us. Right now that number varies between nine and 12 other people. They each fill different roles in our lives.

Our lives are pretty magical. Everything isn’t easy, but most things are pretty sweet. I don’t have to cook. I don’t have to clean my house. I don’t go grocery shopping very often, but I do manage supply management more than you can even imagine. Some days my work day begins at 6:00 am and doesn’t end until close to midnight. Other days, I work for a few hours in the morning and again in the afternoon, but the time in between belongs to me. I live in a rather small space. Think two dorm rooms connected. This is my family’s private space. However, we have acres and acres of jungle facing the Caribbean Sea and other shared spaces to enjoy on a daily basis. I don’t have a bathtub only a shower.

My children are being educated by one of the best teachers in the world. She is amazing. The rate at which my children are absorbing knowledge is so high. Their school is conducted in both English and Spanish. We expect that my four year old daughter will be in the first grade come March. My seven year old son reads at quite an advanced level. And these are only brief summaries of their talents and their teacher’s gift.

So to say that I embrace my unconventional life with my arms wide open might be a stretch. Living in a developing country is challenging. But so is living in the United States of America. When I run into a Latin American moment, I remind myself that at least I didn’t have to sit in traffic for an hour to get to work. I am extremely grateful for my charmed life.

And here on this blog, I will attempt to explain both how lucky I am and how crazy it can be. Thanks for checking things out.

about me

My name is Renée H. Kimball. I moved to Panama with my husband, Jim, and our son, Tres, in September 2004. My son was 10 months old. This move was a long time coming, but that is another story. We welcomed our daughter, Boty, in July 2006 here in Panama.

We own and run a small eco adventure lodge along with our business partners. I have always been a bit of a crazy homemaker - thus my husband occasionally calls me "Martha", but here my responsibilities and the set up have changed some of the ways in which I practice my "arts". I have become a digital scrapbooker instead of using the traditional tools as space is limited and my ability to run out a buy things is also challenged. Working on digital scrapbooks layouts has helped me in my work quite a bit.

My desires to sew ebb and flow with necessity: the desire for nice things and the need to hold onto my own cash. Right now it has kicked back in because it is fun to sew for my daughter. Hearing her say Momma made it makes me smile. My son, my husband and our extended "family" are all beneficiaries of my sewing. As you can imagine supplies are also hard to come by - but I can go to the mainland and make basic purchases. I have relied heavily on the internet to find tutorials, patterns, inspiration, and purchase all kinds of things. I am not very good at taking pictures as I go along with a project. You are more likely to see the finished product in a scrapbook layout as it is far easier to post that than it is for me to take photos along the way.