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