Back in the Saddle Again!

Ft Pierce (1)I’ve been away from you far too long, my gypsy-souled friends.  I’m very sorry for that, forgive me.  The winter took an unexpected turn, and I’ve needed a break to do a bit of processing.  Never fear, I’m back.  It’s time to catch you up.

After many grand plans were made, with a variety of unsurpassable roadblocks that came up for each set of those plans, we ended up back in our old stomping grounds in Florida for the winter.  The very same area that we left when we started this gypsy journey a little over a year prior, in fact.    What’s more, I went back to work for the same company that I was with then also.  Talk about full circle!

Naturally, we were worried about back tracking, and getting sucked back into the system.  After all, we’d worked so hard over the past year to unwind ourselves and the damage it caused from our lives.  It was a valid concern.  A good bit of the old life came rushing right back at us when we started up the old way of living again.  But, after looking back and taking some time to think through it, here are my reflections:

  • Revisiting and reconfirming your life choices from time to time is healthy.
    This past winter was a gift in that it gave us a chance to compare what our life (and our expectations of life) are and were, and how the two paths (conventional living and gypsy living) fit who we are and who we want to be.  We were deliberate in making our decision in favor of gypsy living the first time, but making the decision a second time gives you greater strength and conviction in knowing beyond a doubt that it’s what’s right for you.
  • Networking is key (no matter what path you’re taking in life!)
    More than networking actually.  When I think of networking, I tend to think of anxious people in “corporate climber” attire with nothing in common, passing business cards back and forth to each other at a chamber of commerce brunch. That’s not what I mean. Instead, I believe in being sincere and working on making friends everywhere I go, at work, at play, wherever.  Not all of them will be friendships that last, but the connection was sincere.  As Jesus said “Faith, Hope and Love, the greatest of these is Love.” Part of my mission in this life is to try to embody that love and share it.  For me, that means building and doing my best to maintain heart felt connections.  That’s one of the greatest gifts we’ve been given to share.It was through one such friendship, that we were able to rent a room in a friend’s house for the winter.  It was a blessing in several ways for us.  We paid a very reasonable rent, got to enjoy her family, and did some repairs around the house for her. Hopefully our stay was a blessing for her also.
  • Keeping your integrity opens doors.
    When we left the first time, I was honest with my employer, and told them that we weren’t able to make it financially and needed to find another solution.  I then stayed every bit as engaged at work as I had been before deciding to leave.  (I always try to leave my employer and co-workers in a better spot than when I arrived.)  I suppose it’s a little like Johnny Appleseed, planting seeds wherever he went.  I like the idea of the trees growing and bearing fruit after I’ve gone.  My point though, is that, while it wasn’t my intent, it left the door open for my return.
    Being committed to our new lifestyle though, I made sure that I was clear from the get-go about the temporary nature of our time in Florida.  I didn’t want to mislead them and betray their trust. Living honestly is also one of our mantras in this new life we’re carving for ourselves.
  • You’re more capable than you allow yourself to realize.
    While a year isn’t that long to be away, we fit a lot of living in that year.  And most of that time was doing work that wasn’t quite of the same nature.  Instead of doing database analysis, project management work and streamlining processes for manufacturing, I worked the front desk at a resort.  I house sat dogs and cats.  I camped in the woods.  I put together camping equipment for busloads of school children and families.  I did housekeeping.  I visited friends.  I served corn dogs and chili cheese fries at the state fair.It was wonderful, and blissfully low-stress.  But also not particularly mentally engaging. Would my brain still work the way it did when I was back doing the regular grind?  Would I remember anything?  Could I go back to doing it successfully?  Deep down, I think that’s a fear that probably many of us have, fear that by trying something different, we’ve permanently severed the ties.  I was worried about it too.

    Granted, the answer might’ve been different if I’d been away longer.  But this time, I was delighted to see (as was my employer!) that I could step back in without missing a beat.  I’ll repeat this, as it’s important for us all to hear:  We are capable of more than we let ourselves realize.

  • Down time can be just what you need.
    This area was pretty isolated, with not much in the way of work opportunities.  But hubby was able to pick up some work in tutoring math.  And he also spent the winter teaching himself different skills that will help us in our travels, namely auto mechanics.Yet another blessing of having an old vehicle, is that it’s no longer difficult or expensive to find the repair manuals that the auto shops used to protect like gold.  They’re not designed for beginners, but if you couple the instructions and information with some diligent online research, there’s much that you can do yourself.  He was able to replace:

    • The rear window (that was shattered by an unruly dumpster that got in our way one evening).
    • The starter
    • The fan clutch
    • The distributor cap, wires, and plugs
    • The radiator
    • Fixed the oxygen sensor
    • and learned how to turn off the check engine light

And so, besides learning something he’d always wanted to know about, he ended up saving us several thousands of dollars in the repairs that he made.  That’s in before tax dollars.  Also, because it’s essentially our home these days, he took great care in doing the job well.  That’s something that you don’t always get when you take your vehicle into the shop.

  • You never know where things will lead you.
    While we’re now off and onto new adventures and back on the gypsy track, my winter’s work gained me the opportunity to do contract work for the company from afar.  It’s something that, if it continues to work out for both of us, can be done virtually anywhere that has internet access.  Of course, nothing in life is guaranteed, except death and taxes (as Benjamin Franklin said).  But this has the potential of giving us some stability that we can take with us in our travels.  Perhaps it will open other doors also.  Remember, that in order to make the most of opportunities, you have to be willing to both see them, and do something with them.  It reminds me of an old cartoon quote that went something like this:  “Opportunity knocked, but by the time I’d looked through the peephole, turned the deadbolt, removed the chain, unlocked the doorknob, and opened the door, it had gone.”

I guess what I’m saying is, that life isn’t easy no matter how you approach it.  There will always be challenges.  It is how you handle those challenges that matters.  We only get one “go-round” in this world.  Make the most of it. Decide what’s truly important to you, and work toward it.  Mistakes will be made, but that’s part of learning and part of living.  The only people that don’t make mistakes are the ones that have moved on to the next world.  While you’re still breathing, it is never, never too late to start living.  And in the process, you’ll learn a lot about yourself, and you may just enrich your life.

2017 – Finishing our 1st Gypsy Year!

Like most of you, we too have been taking stock of 2017 before we say goodbye to it.  For those of you who’ve been following our middle aged gypsy journey, our tally of one year’s worth of adventures won’t surprise you.

 

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We started 2017 at 8600 feet above sea level in Colorado!

 

 

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and are ending the year near the beach in Florida!

 

As for some of the best of 2017:

  • Wintered at 8500 feet above sea level in Colorado’s ski country
  • Took lessons in cross-country skiing
  • Did a fair amount of ice-fishing
  • Pet/House sat at 3 different places (Kansas, Ohio, Tennessee)
  • Took care of horses
  • Visited friends we haven’t seen in a long time
  • Visited family we haven’t seen in a long time
  • Camped near Mackinac Bridge, Michigan
  • Drove through northern Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
  • Got to know magnificent Lake Superior
  • Summered on the US/Canadian border of Minnesota’s boundary waters
  • Kayaked and fished on some of the most pristine waters in this country (in northern MN)
  • Picked and enjoyed many wild blueberries
  • Harvested and enjoyed lots of fresh fish and crayfish
  • Survived quite a few black bear encounters
  • Watched a nest of pileated woodpeckers grow up and fly away
  • Hubby got to work on a lakeside dock, helping guests enjoy their outing; I got to learn about canoe outfitting and help groups of guests enjoy their boundary waters camping adventure
  • We visited a state I’d not been to (Louisiana), saw New Orleans, ate delicious Cajun food, visited a plantation home, and saw beautiful bayous.  We also spent  couple of weeks in a state that we didn’t know much about (Mississippi)
  • Camped and explored some of Florida’s panhandle
  • Swam in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Swam and fished in the Atlantic
  • Met so many new friends that we cherish  – from different age groups, countries, and walks of life
  • Hubby and I spent a lot of quality time together

There were low-points too, of course.  We’ve spent a couple of thousand dollars on car repairs or maintenance in the past year.  We had a couple of seasonal jobs that didn’t work out as we’d hoped and presented us with some pretty stressful times.  And all that wonderful cross country travel came at the price of untold gallons of gasoline.  We spent money on some things we thought we needed, but really didn’t.  And we got rid of some things that we needed, but thought we didn’t.  Oh, and I turned that magical number, 50.

Our year was one of having no place to call home of our own.  We’ve lived in a hotel room that’s used for staff housing, in other people’s homes (while house or pet sitting for them while they’re on vacation), staying with friends and family, camping, staying in staff dorm housing, camping in a platform tent for 2 months, and sleeping in the van.  The types of work we’ve done have been just as varied.

While our lifestyle at each specific destination has been slow and deliberate over the year, the pace of change has been pretty fast and by the end we were getting a bit worn.  So, we met the opportunity to winter back in our old Florida stomping grounds as a welcome reprieve into a bit of the familiar.  Rest assured, we’ll be ready to adventure again come spring.

However, all that being said, this is the very first year that I can EVER remember, where I feel content and satisfied with the parting year.  Hubby agrees that he feels the same.  I’m humbled that it’s taken us over half our lives to achieve just one year that we can peacefully say goodbye to.

All those years of obsessing over “more,” trying to keep up,  and trying to maintain the image the world wants of us.  Funny that it’s actually the year where we’ve shirked the mainstream that’s made all the difference.  Was everything easy? No.  Did everything go our way?  No. Did we have some frightening and stressful experiences? Yes.

Did we gain experiences that were meaningful? Yes.  Did we learn and grow? Yes.  Did we do better at living life on our terms? Yes.  Did we minimize the distracting noise of the modern world in our lives? Yes.  Did we fit as many of the important parts of living into 2017 as we could?  Yes. Did we live what we believe?  Yes.

And so, for the first time (at least, that we can recall in our adult lives), we’re at peace with offering a fond farewell to the old year.  We hope that you’re able to do the same, and we sincerely wish you a new year focused on (and filled with) the truly important things in life!

 

The People Along The Way: Kate Hibbs

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Off-Grid Summer Living in Northern Minnesota

For many of us, it’s a wonderful dream: spending a summer in a quaint little off-grid cabin on a remote lake with absolutely no one else around.  The view of the lake, the stars at night, and the sounds of nature feed your soul.

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The 1/4 mile path to Kate’s Cabin

There’s not a neighbor within earshot or eyesight, and the cabin isn’t accessible by road.  You park about a quarter mile away and walk-in on the trail.  There is an atv, but it’s a bit temperamental.  More often than not, you’re carrying in your supplies, drinking water, gasoline for the generator, and dog food on your back. 

Oh, the dog food?  Did I forget to mention the dogs?  Imagine that you’re also caring for 24 sled dogs… and 7 speedy and enthusiastic sled dog puppies!

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Even at this age – sled dog pups love to run!

Kate Hibbs spent her summer in northern Minnesota doing just this!  Kate says “I loved living up north this summer; I knew I needed this time to be in the woods.  I needed to recalibrate, so living in solitude for a time was perfect for me.

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Blue-eyed sled dogs, per the old legends, see into your soul.

Sled dogs are incredible animals, and I love mushing for so many reasons.  It’s extremely active, yet peaceful and beautiful.  It’s really fantastic to use this old traditional form of travel and see the pure joy, athleticism, problem solving and group dynamics of a sled dog team.”

When asked about the challenges the summer presented, you might expect to hear her talk about the physical demands of caring for so many dogs, or the inconveniences of living off grid and so remotely. 

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Rustic Accommodations!

Instead, Kate mentioned only two things. “I haven’t been around to enjoy Minnesota’s boreal winters and the dog mushing that comes with it.  It was pretty difficult to only care for them during the summer months when it’s too hot to take them on runs.  I’d also say a big challenge was being so removed from my loved ones.”

Lately, Kate’s been spending her falls, winters and springs in Antarctica.  While in Antarctica (time that she calls “on-ice”), resources are limited, so there isn’t much of an opportunity to stay in touch with friends and family back home.  “It is important to be able to spend my time off-ice engaged in relationships that are important to me and engaged in my community.  While tempting to seek out solitude, I’ve learned that I need to figure out a balance of self-care without using my privilege to escape too much!”

Only 27, she’s already been a “mover and a shaker” in making a difference in her communities.  While in school at Ithaca College for Anthropology, she helped establish her school’s Asian American Studies Program, and was part of starting an East-Coast-wide movement for intersectional education in colleges and universities.

She and a few friends also founded the “Aurora Collective” in hope of opening the “out of doors” experience to a broader audience.  Through her experience guiding youth with wilderness adventures in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, she witnessed countless amazing transformations. “Doing hard work in wild places teaches people non-academic skills: character, growth, mindset, grit, emotional and social skills, among many others.  Going on an expedition, especially as a youngster, can help a person realize that they are capable of anything.  It translates to a self-awareness and confidence that helps in the pursuit of goals later in life.  Historically, access to the wilderness (including the gear, transportation, etc.) is expensive and limits the type of person who can go on trips.

We started The Aurora Collective as a way to promote and sponsor people doing more extreme wilderness endeavors, believing that more representation provides more inspiration!”  She cited as a case in point, Ann Bancroft: a Minnesotan explorer that was the first woman to traverse Antarctica. 

We kicked it off last summer by competing in the Yukon River Quest, a 444-mile canoe race.” Their 6-person all-female voyageur team was a rarity and met a lot of skepticism. But, after 53 hours of paddling, they earned 19th place out of almost 100 teams overall.  “The Aurora Collective is a work in progress, but I’m hoping that we can keep it going despite us living so spread out.”

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Having learned about Antarctica from co-workers at Menogyn, a Y-Camp on the edge of the Boundary Waters, she had to see what life was like at the bottom of the planet!  This fall will be Kate’s third season working there.

“There’s a saying that people go down to Antarctica the first year for adventure, the second for friends and because the money’s pretty good, and the third year because they don’t fit in anywhere else anymore!” 

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Your view upon arrival in Antarctica, after a very long flight in non-temperature controlled seating on military aircraft.

Living there isn’t easy. The physical environment is challenging. “It is called the harshest continent for a reason!” The station is extremely remote station with very limited internet access, so staying in touch with friends and family isn’t easy.  The working hours are long and difficult, with 60 hours or more, 6 days a week, the norm.  There’s very little in the way of food choices available, being dependent on seasonal food shipments.  Fresh foods like vegetables and fruits are often a rarity.  Even something as simple as placing an Amazon order is challenging, as it can be months before your package is delivered.

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But, all that said, there are benefits to working seasonally in Antarctica also.  “The lifestyle of working really hard nonstop and then having a few months to travel or pursue a new skill or field is very appealing to me.  Air travel there and back is provided, normally with a stopover in New Zealand.  Kate often will make the most of that stop and do some impromptu touring of New Zealand on her way back from “the ice.”

While at the station in Antarctica, there’s a strong ethos among the community to make the most out of every day.” Kate says that the station is just big enough that you can find others with shared interests, but small enough to be welcoming. “It’s like camp for adults!” with the endless live music, sports, game nights, art-making, costume parties, language classes, etc. She’s found them to be a good group of hardworking and creative people that are invested in making their time there as nourishing and stimulating as possible. 

You may have seen that Antarctica recently made the news with the possibility of new life forms discovered in some of its ice caves. Kate’s been able to see some of the ice caves firsthand herself!  “I got to take a trip to an ice cave my first season. It was amazing.  I think the thing that jarred me the most was experiencing complete silence for the first time in months.  Ordinarily, we’re surrounded by the constant buzz of generators, planes, helicopters and heavy machinery.  It’s like living on a big construction site 24/7.”

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Just another hard day at work!

Kate’s work there this upcoming season will be as the Solid Waste and Recycling Coordinator. She was a Janitorial Lead last year. Before that, her first season as a dishwasher. She laughed, saying that the Antarctic station is known for having the best educated dishwashers in the work force.  People are willing to take (and are grateful for) whatever job is needed for the experience of living there.

If you’re interested in checking this opportunity out, she suggested you do some research.  First, there are a couple of good documentaries about what life on a station in Antarctica is really like.

Then, if you’re still interested, contact one of the agencies that hires station support contractors.  It is common to not be accepted on your first try.  She suggested that if you’re serious about it and determined, keep trying. Network.  Knowing others there can help. Find a way to try to get some experience in the field you’re trying to get a job in (even if just dishwashing!).  Most importantly, keep applying until you succeed.

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As for what’s next for Kate Hibbs?  “Eventually, I would love to return to my work in education.  But for now, it would be awesome to work my way up to running a field camp in Antarctica!  I also want to get all 7 continents in my passport (I only have South America and Africa left).  Beyond that?  Who knows?  I do feel like I’m still searching for something, but aren’t we all?”

 

Why Live Like Gypsies?

 

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Just one of the views we enjoy daily with our gypsy living.

A little less than a year into our gypsy living experiment, I’m pleased to report that we’re still loving this grand adventure.  Is life perfect?  Nope.  Is life easy?  Ha, yeah right!  Do we have everything we need?  Probably, although it doesn’t always feel that way.  Are there still stresses, problems and worries?  You betcha.  But one of the most important differences is that those “stresses, problems and worries” no longer dominate our lives.  Before, it seemed like those were the only things we could see. These days, our view is much broader.

That thought tickles me a bit with it’s irony.  Here I sit here in the great wilderness of the boundary waters on a public highway that’s so remote that it actually ends just a short distance up the road from us. Canada and more trees guard the other side of the lake.   We’re so far away from civilization that cell service doesn’t even exist here.  And, from our “dorm style” room window, I see nothing but clouds and trees.

So what’s the “broader” view then?  It might be easier to show you.  This was my day today:

Today, I woke up precisely 1 hour before work and before the alarm.  There was just enough time to mill around the room a little after breakfast.  I don’t have to spend a lot of time getting ready for work; We all wear jeans and t-shirts.  I enjoyed my 1/4 mile walk to work which takes me through the forest and past a burbling brook.  On a nice day, I take 5-10 minutes.  When it’s cold and rainy, 3 minutes.  Hubby’s walk is double that, as his workday starts at the lake.  Today’s weather was picture perfect.

I work with great people and we have fun while taking care of the guests.  I get an hour lunch break, during which I walk back through the woods and up the hill to my room.    I have a 4 year college degree, plus half of a master’s degree, professional certifications, and 25 years of professional business experience.  My job at this resort is as a canoe trip outfitter.  It’s wonderful. At the end of the day, I go home feeling like I accomplished something but I don’t worry about work and I don’t take work home with me. My time off is my time to do with as I please.  Right now, that’s mostly hiking, kayaking or exploring the area.

I live in a dorm with wonderful young people that are out trying to figure out life and fit in some adventures themselves.  They don’t seem to mind that we’re old enough to be their parents.  In fact, I think they like having us as part of the mix.  And they’re helping keep us young.

For dinner tonight, one of the fellows broke in his new charcoal grill and invited us to join him.  I wrapped pike fillets from hubby’s catch a couple of days ago in bacon and grilled them. The grilling itself was quite a social event, with at least half a dozen of our dorm neighbors joining us.  Hubby and I then enjoyed a lovely dinner together in our tiny one-room apartment.  We spent the evening talking (as we do nearly every evening).  And tonight, I can hear the wolves howling off in the distance.

We’ll sleep well, with the cool fresh forest air coming in from the open window by the bed.  And tomorrow will be a new day.  When it’s time, we’ll move on to the next adventure.

Gypsy living is about living life on our terms.  For us, that’s meant minimizing life’s stress, traveling, seeing new places, learning new things, having new experiences, and meeting new friends.  It’s not been easy, but it has been worth it.  Perhaps we’ll meet you on the gypsy road someday.

Listening To The Rain

Simple living doesn’t have to be heroic.  It can be as simple as just taking time for a brief pause in your crazy busy life from time to time.

Yesterday presented us with a wonderful surprise and opportunity to do just that.  We’re visiting family in Ohio and it’s now spring.  Would you know, this crazy thing happened: it rained!

Granted, rain shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone in the spring.  So silliness aside, keep in mind that we’d just spent fall and winter in the dry climate of the high-country Colorado Rockies.  Yes, there had been plenty of snow, but the fall had been very dry. In fact, we hadn’t seen a decent rain storm since we left Florida back in August.

It wasn’t actually the rain that surprised us.  It was the sound of the rain.

 

 

The picture above’s borrowed, but it gives you a good sense of what the storm was like.  It had been so long since we’d heard the steady patter of rain on the roof and windows.  It only took a half a second for us to decide to stop what we were doing and sit outside on the covered patio.

Thinking back about it, I realize that neither one of us felt a need to talk.  Listening to nature’s peaceful passage without interruption was just something we were both drawn to do.  Often, when I’m trying to have quiet time (“just being” as I call it), my brain interferes and won’t allow peace.  Not this time, however.  We just listened and enjoyed being present in the moment.

Our entire “moment” lasted maybe 15 minutes, but it was the most refreshing part of the day.

My wish for you: May you find and enjoy such simple pleasures in your week!

Gypsy Living – Not So Radical After All

I’ve always suspected that there are more people living like gypsies and nomads than is recognized.  It must be fairly common if the Wall Street Journal has it on Page 1 of their “Wealth Management” section in today’s paper:

In Praise of A Nomadic Life – Andrew Blackman

Hubby and I are now 7 months into our gypsy living adventure.  Like the author in the article above, we sold or donated nearly all of our earthly belongings.  We travel from seasonal job to seasonal job, picking places that we want to see.  In between jobs, we camp in our old van.  Andrew and his wife are a bit braver than we are… (so far).  They’re enjoying gypsy living in Europe.  We have our hands full just trying to figure out this gypsy lifestyle here in the States.

He’s right, in that like everything in life, there’s a trade-off.  We’re just starting this gypsy living journey, so I’m sure the list will change and grow.  But, here’s my list of pro’s and con’s so far (in no particular order):

Pros (Benefits) of Gypsy Living

  1. Sense of freedom
  2. Variety in scenery
  3. Variety in work
  4. Much less stressful (work and home)
  5. Helps you focus on the things that are important, without the noise of modern life interfering
  6. Less worry and more peace of mind
  7. Sense of independence
  8. Social – it’s a vey social lifestyle.  There are always new friends to meet and old friends and family to catch up with

Cons (Rather, I’d say “Challenges”) of Gypsy Living:

  1. Difficult to figure out how to mange things like how to vote, where to send your mail, how to manage healthcare across state lines, or even what state to call your residence.
  2. Financial uncertainty of not knowing how a new job (and living space) is going to work out (if you’re working seasonal employment with housing provided).*
  3. Possibly burning a bridge with your past career work, as you’re likely shooting holes in your resume (if you’re doing seasonal work).*
  4. Car trouble is doubly challenging, as it’s also your place to live.
  5. As you’re always moving, finding things that we often take for granted like good auto mechanics or hairstylists is a bit challenging.
  6. Even living small, it is still very easy to accumulate things.  This means that you’re always having to pick what stays and what goes.  There’s very limited space with this lifestyle, and it’s hard (but not impossible) to break the pattern of consumerism that we’re all used to.

*If you’re lucky enough to have either a guaranteed income (social security, pension, disability) or else employment that’s portable, you don’t have to worry about these challenges.  I suspect that your challenge then becomes how to  manage your travel schedule to meet your work deadlines.

All in all, it’s just nice to know that there are others out there trying to live the same way, and seeking similar goals.

The Lost Art of Picnicking

Picnicking:  In my top 10 of life’s simple pleasures

If you think about it, picnicking is such a simple concept.  It basically consists of food, beverage and a destination.  That’s it.  And yet, somehow, by calling it a “picnic” it magically transforms into an event that makes our hearts leap in anticipation.  It suggests something coming that’s fun and exciting!  I don’t know why adding the word to the act makes a difference, but it does.  I love it nonetheless. Picnicking is one of my favorite things to do.

I used to think of picnicking as a big ordeal that required the red and white checkered tablecloth and a basket full of home-made potato salad and fried chicken.  But my picnic-thinking as evolved (or perhaps degraded, depending on who you ask!).  As far as I’m concerned, picnicking can be what you want it to be.  You get to decide whether you want an elaborate affair with linens, your favorite take-out, or even just PB&J sandwiches.

You see, it’s about the deliberate act more than anything else.  Having a picnic is almost like you’re declaring your freedom from life’s constraints for a tiny window of time. If you can leave your electronic devices at home (or at least in the car), your picnic will allow you to put the world on “pause” while you step out and take a brief breather.

Personally, I think a good picnic is the answer to just about anything in life.  If you’re feeling stressed, keep it simple:  grab some takeout.  If you’re feeling broke, take egg salad sandwiches.  If you’re upset, take your favorite comfort foods.  If you’re feeling romantic, plan an elaborate and thoughtful meal.  If you’re missing someone, take something that reminds you of them.  If you’re feeling like a bit of decadence, pack up a backpack full of appetizers and wine.  It’s really up to you.

Although, the reality is that picnicking isn’t so much about the food (although, the food definitely influences the quality and mood of your picnic).  I’ll go a step further and say that it’s not really about the location either.  You don’t have to drive hours to get to a picnic spot.  (Although, those are certainly worthwhile outings too!)

I’ll bet that you have at least a dozen good picnic spots within a short distance of your home (or work).  Think outside the box.  Look for place where you can put down a blanket or couple of folding chairs and enjoy just resting and watching.  If it’s a quiet spot, watch nature.  If it’s a busy spot, watch people. Read a book.  Spend some time reflecting and in  prayer.  Kick off your shoes and wiggle your toes in the grass.

If no good picnic spots come to mind, it sounds like it’s high time that you did a little exploring in your own area. Learn to appreciate what’s around you.  It’s ok.  You can take a break from your life for a couple of hours a week. The world will still keep turning, business will still keep running, and life will still be waiting for you when you get back.  But the difference is: you’ll feel better.

Depending on your mood, go picnic by yourself, with a friend, your spouse, your family or with a group.  It’s all good.

The art of picnicking is about learning to be deliberate in choosing how you spend your time, where you spend your time, and who you spend it with.  I think you’ll find that picnicking will bring you closer to the things and people in your life that are important to you. No matter who you are and where you are in life, you can still take small steps to simplify and enrich your life, as the humble “picnic” show us.  Take this baby step in living deliberately! You won’t regret it!

4/1/17 Update:  If you’re a picnic lover, then you’ll enjoy this article as well.  Thanks Hannah for sharing the link!) 
The Seductive Nostalgia of The Picnic