Lay Aside Your Expectations, Pardner!

Just as Jeff and Gena’s “go slow” blog Ha Nui Loa — about simple traveling and minimalist living — was showing signs of finding a clear voice, their impending parenthood and other changes in their lives derailed the blog.

I’m sorry to see that it is exiting (although they haven’t officially pulled the plug yet), but at least I had the chance to write something really weird for them before they went.

Here’s my (somewhat unusual) guest post about expectations that I wrote in February. It has never appeared on So Much More Life.

Cast your mind back to February’s strange weather and the Dallas-Fort Worth area’s less-than-successful moment on the international stage before you continue…

I like Ha Nui Loa because the look and attitude of the site portrays the version of Hawaii I would expect to see if I visited the islands.

Of course, I’ve never been to Hawaii, and I could have it totally wrong. Expectations aren’t really a good thing.

Texas Is About Snow and Sporting Excess, Isn’t It?

You see, I’m a lifelong Texan, and I know how people can get the wrong idea about places they’ve never visited.

My region is the Fort Worth/Dallas area (although I haven’t been to the Dallas side in months), and it was recently on the international stage as it hosted the finals of some kind of professional sporting event that I don’t know much about. I think it was called the Big Dish or something like that. Forgive me if I’m violating someone’s trademark by even mentioning it.

Anyway, people from two Northern town arranged to have their abysmal winter weather brought with them as they invaded the area, really inconveniencing local road crews who didn’t know about the arrangement. Cities around here can’t afford to buy snow plows that would rust out from non-use long before they wore out.

These Northerners, according to local news reports, expected to see cowboy hats, six-shooters and expensive boots on the streets when they arrived. But their expectations were way out of line with reality. Felt hats and leather boots don’t stand up to snow. And concealed handguns have been legal for years.

A Simple Life Lays Aside Expectations

My blog, So Much More Life, is about living a simple, deliberate life. I write posts about minimalist hairstyles, simplifying our approach to medical care — and even religion sometimes. And I feature guest posts from writers who strive for similarly simple lives.

Since I started living the simple life, I haven’t even been tempted to buy a new pair of spurs. The cattle in my backyard eat grass now, not expensive feed blends. And the horse I ride into the town where I take my roping lessons wears horseshoes made of recycled corn cans. Sure, we’ve all made sacrifices, but it’s for the good of our souls and the good of the planet.

I’m 38 years old, and according to all expectations, I should be on my second or third ranch by now. As it is, I can barely afford the RV I live in with my cousins. (It’s nice, but we can’t have guests in because it tips if there’s a crowd.)

Part of living a simple life, however, is adjusting expectations. I no longer want to have the biggest steer on the hillside or bigger horns on my hood every year. People like me who live a deliberate life makes conscious, right-scaled choices.

A Real and True Point

I don’t know if there are as many stereotypes and misconceptions about Hawaii as there are about Texas, but I know that not everything is bigger in Texas.

I’m living a grand-but-small life in a little house with one human and four cats who also seem to enjoy it very much. We don’t call that the island lifestyle because where the land ends here, more land begins.

As far as I’m concerned, though, I’m happy with my Texas version of a simple, deliberate life. I don’t wear khaki shorts or take long walks along a beach every morning like some minimalist gurus do, but I do meaningful work, take life slower than I once did and goof off frequently.

If you ever get the chance to visit Texas, you may be surprised what you find. One thing you’ll find is lots of people like me, living a simple, grand life without expectations of anything else.

And most of us have time to stop and say “howdy” when you get here and “y’all come back” when you leave. They’re ancient Texas greetings that mean “aloha”.


  1. I really miss Jeff and Gena’s Ha Nui Loa blog too Gip.

    This was one of my favorite posts from you! I remember how I cracked up when it first appeared on Hanuiloa. It’s just as funny the second time around. 🙂

    Thanks for a fun Friday read!

    1. You’re welcome, Jenny.

      Jeff and Gena were starting to get a grasp of how to blog when they stopped. Maybe they will return to it.

      Every 20 posts or so, I write something really weird and interesting. I’m aiming for more consistently entertaining in the future…


  2. I loved this post – especially the part about the road crews who “didn’t know about the arrangement”. 😀

    Is Ha Nui Loa defunct, then? I don’t remember seeing anything about it on their blog, but sometimes I miss things.

    I love that this post has been resurrected over here!

    1. I don’t know if Jeff and Gena’s blog is officially gone, but I hope it isn’t. With a little more attention to the technical aspects of writing, it could have been a useful addition to the simple living blog world.

      They still haven’t replaced all the reflectors on the roads that they snow plows from West Texas knocked off.


  3. That was fun and colorful, Gip. As for geographic stereotypes, I heard a conversation on the ham radio this morning. A station identified itself as being in Snowflake, Arizona. Someone else (I’m not sure where they were, but probably the Midwest somewhere) remarked on how odd it was for an Arizona town to be named “Snowflake”. Perhaps, if one assumes that all of AZ is hot desert like the central and southern parts of the state (Phoenix and Tucson areas, for example). Go further north (and higher in altitude, too) to someplace like Flagstaff (or Snowflake!) and you will definitely find snow in the winter in Arizona. That’s one of the neat things about this state – one can experience quite a variety of climates and terrains all within a few hours’ drive.

    1. I don’t think people realize that cold temperatures and heavy snowfall are regular happenings in West Texas and happen sometimes here.

      People also don’t realize that Dallas and Fort Worth share very little culture in common. Fort Worth is fun and eclectic like Austin while Dallas is big and glitzy like Houston. Abilene is neither, unfortunately.


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