Slow Living

It’s been a while since I’ve published an installment of “Parenting Against the Grain” and I’ve missed it! I launched this series to highlight interesting choices that parents are making to live a little differently with their children. Today, we’re going Down Under to talk to a lovely woman named Carley Morgan. I’ve been wanting to talk to Carley ever since she wrote to tell me that SlowMama had played a role in the decision she and her husband made to take two years off work, mid-career, to slow things down, spend time with their growing son, recalibrate, enjoy life, and build an off-grid house. They started a blog called 1 Million Minutes to detail their adventures, which they are well into now. I’m so glad to finally be able to share some of Carley’s story with you and hope you find it as inspiring as I do!

Carley and Family

Zoe Saint-Paul: Welcome, Carley! Tell us a little about you and your family.

Carley Morgan: Our little family consists of my husband (40), myself (35) and our soon to be 5 year-old son. I grew up in Calgary, Alberta (Canada), and my husband and son were both born in Perth, Australia, where we currently live. In the past 8 years we have lived in the U.S., Nigeria, and Singapore. We love travel, adventure, and living less conventionally. Both of our careers were in the Oil and Gas Industry. I stopped working before my son was born, however my husband continued to work until our “1 Million Minutes” adventure began, just over a year ago. While I tend to be more right-brain dominant and am interested in yoga, meditation, and the more spiritual aspects of life, my husband is very much the left-brain rational and logical one. Our son is a nice mix of the two of us — I say he’s got my heart and his dad’s brain, but really, he’s a typical little boy who loves learning, playing, running, and anything remotely gross or related to potty humor.

ZSP: What motivated you and your husband to take a two year break away from work and regular life?

CM: We decided to take a year off in 2011, and later it morphed into two years. We were living in Nigeria at the time when a colleague of my husband’s passed away suddenly. It dawned on my husband — who really loves the work he does — that he could easily see himself working into to his 70’s, if not longer. So we thought, why not take some time now, while we’re still young, to do something crazy and enjoy life? Why not spend time with our growing son while we have the energy and physical ability, and then work a little longer later on, when climbing mountains and building a house might be too physically demanding? We also realized that if we took time now we’d have greater ability to spend time and influence our son and create memories with him while he still wants to spend time with us. We were also becoming concerned that he never saw his dad actually doing work. My husband was very influenced by watching and learning from his dad, which he believes is the foundation for his strong work ethic, and he resolved to make sure that our son appreciates that work is more than trips to the office and email. In this way, we see our time as an investment in our son’s future disposition.

It would take a few years from that point before everything fell into place.

Off grid House in Perth

ZSP: What steps did you have to take to make it happen?

CM: Before we had even spoken about taking time off, my husband had been conceptualizing a house for years  one that could be flat-packed and modular built, flexible, sustainable, beautiful, and cost-effective. We just weren’t sure when we would build it and like many people, had casually slotted it in as a project for retirement. So the house was already in the back of our minds.

Before we even knew when 1MillionMinutes would start, we put the intention out there to buy a beautiful piece of land near Perth and we made the purchase in January 2012. While we could have started 1MillionMinutes shortly thereafter, an exciting two-year job opportunity came up for my husband in Singapore, which fit nicely into our plans as it gave us some more time to plan and save and also had us physically located closer to Perth to facilitate logistics and to spend more time with my husband’s family.

Although we had been talking about it for a few years, I think our decision still surprised most of our family, friends, and colleagues. Official discussions with my husband’s employer were initiated in July 2014 and we received confirmation on his leave of absence around October 2014. That really set the wheels in motion. Through all of this, my husband continued to work on the house plans and I started making arrangements for the move and transitioning our son to our new life. I also started a two-year diploma program. So while March 1, 2015, is the official start date of 1MillionMinutes, it truly began two or three years prior to that.

Carley and Son

ZSP: What exactly were your goals, and where are you in the process of achieving them?

CM: Our main goal was to spend time together, make memories, enjoy our family, and influence our son as much as possible. Reconnecting with friends and family was also important and is now a beautiful part of life.

Building the house was another big goal for us. Although it doesn’t look like a whole lot from the pictures, we are well on our way. The hardest part is the design phase since it’s never been done before and a lot of work has gone into getting ready to build. Moving through the process has been my lovely engineer of a husband’s greatest source of frustration and achievement. Now that the design is nearly complete and the construction phase has begun it should be fairly smooth going.

Personally, I wanted to challenge myself, to learn something new, meet new people, add value beyond our family, and to find new ways to share myself with the world. I decided to do this by completing a 2-year diploma in Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy. Now that I’ve graduated, I’ll put some effort into building up a private practice.

We were extremely conscious of the impacts that stress and a transient lifestyle had on our bodies and minds so we wanted to focus on learning more about ourselves and being healthy. We did the best we could prior to 1MillionMinutes, but we both agree that we’re currently at our physical, mental, and emotional bests and really enjoy preparing healthy food, engaging in physical activities, and having the energy to work hard while still enjoying life.

Each day we realize that we’re accomplishing things that we hadn’t even intended to do; that’s what seems to happen when you have time and space and good health. Life begins to flow and opens up to amazing things.

Carley with Diploma

ZSP: What have been the most rewarding parts of this decision so far?

CM: By far, spending time with our son and our family and friends. Memories and relationships are very important to us and truly the only thing that can never be taken away. We are also really pleased with our health and fitness now, being able to volunteer in my son’s classroom, having the time to contemplate life and really think about things, explore them and make them a reality. I really enjoy working with my clients and seeing their commitment to health and healing and witnessing their progress. There really isn’t any part of this decision that isn’t a reward for us.

ZSP: What have been the greatest challenges?

CM: The single greatest challenge we had to overcome was the fear of actually going ahead with 1MillionMinutes and leaving behind a very comfortable lifestyle. This fear now seems ridiculous, but was overwhelming at times before we made the decision. I went through a bit of an emotional rollercoaster when we finally arrived in Perth as there were many logistics that were unfolding and the stress of the past few years ,and the move, finally caught up with me. But we were well-positioned as a family to take some time to relax, heal, and regroup so while it was a bit challenging, it has been a blessing for us all. My husband has had a few intense engineering issues with the house, but we have grown to work with and support each other through anything and really, challenges aren’t really bad, but simply part of the process.

ZSP: How has this two-years-off plan affected your marriage and your parenting? And what has been the reaction of extended family and friends?

CM: As far as affecting our marriage, it has strengthened and reinforced the love, respect, and commitment we have towards each other. The mutual level of trust has deepened and our desire to be the best we can be for each other and our son has grown exponentially. We truly enjoy spending time together and this 1MillionMinutes has been such a gift.

Our parenting hasn’t changed much as far as philosophies go — we’re very much attachment-based parents. However, given that we no longer have the stresses of a hectic work life, we’re both able to be more present, mindful, creative, and patient in our parenting. We are very purposeful in our interactions with him and really look for opportunities to help him understand what it means to appreciate nature, work hard, be thoughtful and creative when problem solving, be mindful, enjoy life, and be a compassionate human being.

When we first started talking about 1MillionMinutes most people humored us with the discussion, but didn’t expect anything to come of it so there was a lot of surprise at the beginning when we actually did it. Our close family and friends have been incredibly supportive and we’ve met may new friends who are very interested and excited to see what happens. We’ve also let go of some friends and others have let go of us. It’s really been an amazing journey so far.

Smoking Ceremony

ZSP: Can you tell me a bit about the Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony you held prior to building your new home?

CM: We are well aware that there’s more to this universe than meets the eye and we’re also very aware that we’re only caretakers of the beautiful property that we purchased; it will go on to exist far longer than we walk the earth. For thousands of years, others have cared for and communed with this land. It was important for us to build our home on in the most respectful and sustainable way and that meant learning about its past and honoring those who have come before us. Having Uncle Ben Taylor (a respected Noongar Elder and Order of Australia recipient) and his family share their history, their culture, their passion, and their spiritual ceremony with us was one of the most profound experiences we’ve been privileged to participate in. We respect Aboriginal Peoples and feel that the results of poorly implemented government and church programs, and their devastating impacts on Aboriginal Peoples throughout the world, is a tragedy. We recognize the importance of these types of ceremonies not only for our own benefit, but also for the role that they play in the healing process of Aboriginal communities. We are now connected to the land’s past and responsible for its future in both the physical and spiritual sense.

Carley and Family

ZSP: What lessons have you learned so far and how do you think you have changed from this experience? 

CM: Time is precious. Living in the present moment is far easier if you’re not stressed out and tired from work. While I still have to remind myself to be present sometimes, it’s far easier to do these days.

ZSP: If someone out there has a similar dream — to take a sabbatical from their life or to build an off-grid home — what steps would you advise them to take and what do you think they should know?

CM: Here’s what I would advise:

Start planning as early as possible so you can get your finances in order and be debt-free (or have enough money saved to cover ongoing expenses like a mortgage).

Simplify your life well before you get started. Sell or donate physical items you don’t use/need, dial back your social calendar, take steps to improve your health.

Spend time thinking about what you want to do with your time off.  How can you be productive? Set some goals and plan ways to achieve them. It’s not a vacation!

Evaluate the relationships you have in your life and know who your supporters are and how they can help you.

Work through the fear and entire range of emotions that come along with this type of life change.  They are there for a reason and understanding them ahead of time will put you in good standing to be conscious and grounded.

In summary, be clear with your goals. Know what’s important to you and why, and then make the time to make it happen.

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I love Carley’s point that this kind of sabbatical is not a vacation. I think another message that comes through loud and clear is: Why wait? Sometimes we need to in order to plan and prepare, of course, but who says reaching important goals and enjoying our families is only for retirement? It’s not easy to make such decisions, but I like how  Carley and her husband overcame their fears and made the leap. I sense that when their 1 million minutes is over, things will never quite be the same. Many thanks to Carley for sharing some of her amazing adventure with SlowMama! 

Friends, does the idea of taking time out to accomplish certain goals and dreams appeal to you? What would it take to make that happen?

Also, be sure to check out previous installments of Parenting Against the Grain:

Elimination Communication

Taking A Family Sabbatical

Going Furniture Free

The Modern Nomads

 

Images from Carley Morgan

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Be Slower: Wear a Watch

January 14, 2016

Watch from Pixabay

I remember years ago reading that in order to slow down and not be so rushed, we should stop wearing watches. It kind of made sense… a watch on your wrist can make you more aware of the passing minutes. Taking it off was guaranteed to restore a more balanced pace to the day, lessening the pressure to beat the clock.

Fast forward to 2016 and I think it’s fair to say that one way to help yourself live a little slower is to start wearing a watch again. How did this watch wearing advice do such a 180? Blame it on the smart phone.

Everyone stares at their phones, anywhere and everywhere. One of the big reasons I would so often pull mine out in public was to check the time. But I wanted to stop that. Plus it’s awkward to be having lunch or dinner with someone and discreetly try to check the time on your phone.

Enter the old fashioned wrist watch. I received one from JORD early last year, and I’m still loving it. I wear it when I go out and it feels kind of special, like a piece of jewelry, but it also means that one quick glance at my wrist and I know what time it is. My phone can stay in my purse. Even though I can see the time whenever I want, I don’t tend to check my watch a lot — it doesn’t beckon the way a screen does.

Last week I found an ad in my Facebook feed for “slow” watches. I didn’t know such a thing existed. The company — Slow Swiss Made — was advertising a “quartz movement” that originally had 4 hands, plus the date, but this one has just one hand showing the 24 hour clock. The makers claim this creates a truly “slow” watch, allowing you to view the entire day in one view, providing a better sense of the day. The company doesn’t put a logo on their watches because, well, that doesn’t promote the whole slow thing. (It does appear on the back, though.)

I’m not clamoring for one of those, but they’re nice and the concept is interesting. I’m totally committed to wearing a watch when I go out now, though. It’s helped me be more present to people and to spend less time on my phone overall. A small thing, but the small things add up.

Do you wear a watch? Do you think it would help you use your phone less?

Image: Pixabay

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Unplugged Crew

Just before Christmas I found out that Unplugged Nation, the television show we filmed about off-grid living — has been slated for a second season. Blast Films, the London-based film company we worked with, will be producing the show again and they’re looking for interested participants. Since we had such a good experience, I wanted to give a plug for the show, just in case you’re interested!

For the record, you don’t need to be a family per se. The episodes in season one featured numerous families from different places and backgrounds, but also couples, and even a small group of young adults looking to start an informal off-grid community of sorts.

If you do have a baby or young toddler, the shoot schedule may a little too taxing, but if your kids are over 4 and do well with new experiences, it could work very well. At 6 1/2, our girls were troopers and I was impressed with how respectful and considerate the film crew were of them and our needs as a family.

So if off-grid living interests you, and you’re up for adventure, and you’d like to work with a fun film crew who will take good care of you, be in touch with Blast Films. Email the lovely Stuart Hastie at: unpluggedtv@blastfilms.co.uk (and be sure to tell him I sent you). There’s a vetting process, of course, and paperwork, etc., but that’s par for the course. One thing’s for sure — I’d love to see you on an upcoming episode of Unplugged Nation!

Image: Zoe Saint-Paul

 

 

 

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Woman on Screen

My husband is a techie. Me? Not so much. New tech gadgets intimidate and irritate me: Just when I’ve learned how to use my smart phone or computer proficiently, it’s more or less obsolete. I lament the cultural trend of being glued to screens and how much time is spent on social media. And I’m super careful about how much time I let my girls spend on computers and iPads.

So it came as a surprise to me when I realized I had some unhealthy habits when it comes to the internet. Ironically, it was my husband who pointed it out to me. At first I totally denied it (a classic sign of addiction, of course), and then I had to admit that I sort of did have a problem. (Maybe the reason I get so down on the digital world is my own subconscious cry for help?)

As a blogger, writer, and editor who mostly works on the web, it’s silly to expect the internet to go away or to not be a big part of my life. I might as well completely change my line of work if I don’t want to accept this. But then how does someone whose livelihood depends on the internet (or anyone, really) make sure the internet doesn’t swallow her up?

Here‘s one woman’s story of how she realized (and is trying to manage) her internet addiction. I completely stand by her recommendation of taking at least one — preferably more — tech-free breaks every year. I do this when I go to Nova Scotia in the summers. Even one week of not looking at my computer, checking email, and posting on social media, really refreshes me and helps me find balance when I come back to my everyday life.

I used to take a break between Christmas and New Year’s, too (although that won’t be possible this year) and I try to take Sundays (until evening time) away from digital devices (but some Sundays are harder to do this than others). I try to make sure I read paper books and magazines, especially before bedtime, and I try to be conscious about how I use my smart phone in public, like not staring at my phone while in conversation, at a restaurant, or even sitting in a waiting room.

My worst habit might be getting sucked-down the rabbit hole of email. Ann Waterman, a past contributor to SlowMama, swears by the habit of not checking email first thing in the morning. She inspired me to no longer check email on my phone from bed when I wake up, and now I manage to get a few things done in my household before I open up my laptop.

I still have more progress to make, though, when it comes to managing my email and online time. I feel overwhelmed a lot, mainly because personal organization — especially of data and paperwork — is not my strength.

As the author of NYT article above states, the internet is designed to overload us with info and distract us — there’s no getting away from that. Since we live in a digital tech world now we can make sure we’re doing certain things to counterbalance its negative effects.

Do you take tech breaks? What online traps do you get sucked into? (Surely, it’s not reading too much SlowMama!) What parameters do you set around your internet time? And if you work online, how do prevent your gadgets from taking over your life?

Image:Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

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Screen Shot Unplugged Nation

Friends, our television episode aired last week! I wanted to give everybody a heads up, but the production company forgot to let us know in advance and since we don’t have a TV, we watch the episodes (well, those that aren’t locked behind a cable key) via our computer after they’ve aired.

Last week I was standing outside our house when a neighbor went by and said, “Hey, I saw your show!” And I actually said, “What show??” … so far was it from my mind. Then B and I stayed up way too late that night and watched it. It was fun to see how the episode turned out, but a few things to keep in mind if you watch it…

This is reality TV… which means that what you see is not always how it was. Plus, it was an entire week of footage reduced to 48 minutes (or whatever it is without the commercials). There were things we were pretty sure would be in there and weren’t; and things we hoped wouldn’t show up and did (like the shutter on our house that broke a few days before they came to film).

I do want the interwebs to know that my husband has been fishing before and actually has very good balance. (And he wants everyone to know that he really didn’t swear in front of the kids.) Also, I wasn’t obsessed with room sizes despite what it seems, and our children didn’t need a break from playing computer games and watching TV since they don’t do much of either at home. But the Billy goat escaping was true, and his name really was “Rambutt.”

Did I mention it was hard to watch myself on TV?

But I remain really glad we did this. We wanted it to be a fun memory-making experience for our family and to learn something about off-grid living and about ourselves, and we did all that. And now we have the show to look back at and remember… and laugh at a few things, of course.

Alrighty, here it is. Let me know what you think!

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Unplugged Nation!

August 17, 2015

North Carolina

You may recall that back in May we traveled to the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina to film a show about off-grid living. We didn’t quite know what to expect, but ended up having a fantastic time. The experience opened up some great conversations and has helped shape some of the future plans we have for our family.

The show is called “Unplugged Nation” and recently debuted on the FYI channel (part of the A&E Network). You can view a couple episodes that have already aired on the FYI web site and/or tune in on Saturday evenings at 10PM EST right after “Tiny House Nation”).

I’ll be sure to put a link up here and on my social media when our episode airs. I’m excited to see it, but also slightly apprehensive… wondering what the editors chose to keep and to cut, how they spliced it all together, and just how badly I’ll hate my wardrobe choices and bad haircut.

I’m hopeful, though, since we’ve watched three episodes so far and really enjoyed them all. Can’t wait to see the rest. Let me know what you think if you catch the show! (Here‘s an article in Mother Nature Network about it.)

Image: North Carolina, Zoe Saint-Paul

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LifeOfPix

Have you ever heard of the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, or the Danish idea of Hygge?  I hadn’t until I saw this article in Mother Nature Network about seven different cultural concepts from other countries that aren’t common in the U.S.

Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese term and refers to something called “forest bathing” which involves spending time in the woods and natural areas as a way to prevent illness. There’s apparently science behind this idea: As MNN’s Catie Leary writes:

“The “magic” behind forest bathing boils down to the naturally produced allelochemic substances known as phytoncides, which are kind of like pheromones for plants. Their job is to help ward off pesky insects and slow the growth of fungi and bacteria. When humans are exposed to phytoncides, these chemicals are scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, relieve stress, and boost the growth of cancer-fighting white blood cells. Some common examples of plants that give off phytoncides include garlic, onion, pine, tea tree and oak, which makes sense considering their potent aromas.”

As for hygge, it’s a Danish concept, loosely translated as “togetherness,” and related to the concept of coziness, but goes beyond that, as it’s more of a mental state than a physical one. According to VisitDenmark (the country’s official tourism site):

“The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family — that’s hygge too. And let’s not forget the eating and drinking — preferably sitting around the table for hours on end discussing the big and small things in life.” Hygge’s high season is winter, and Christmas lights, candles galore, and other manifestations of warmth and light, including warm alcoholic beverages, are key to the concept.

Hygge might be why Danes have long been considered some of the happiest people on earth, at least for as long as people have been studying them, even though they have long, cold winters.

I can really relate to both concepts, though I never had descriptors for them. I grew up in nature and still find it very therapeutic. And despite the fact that I hate the cold, there is something I really miss about the winters I spent growing up in Nova Scotia and I think “hygge” sums it up well.

There are five other concepts in that article that are equally interesting, and among people I know, I’ve seen them practiced in some way here, but not as concepts or practices that pervade American culture. That doesn’t mean we can’t adopt some of them as individuals and families, though.

The writer’s other point about traditions and holidays is interesting and worth a conversation, but I’ll save that for another post.

Do any of those cultural concepts appeal to you? Are there others you might put on this list?

Image: Jordan McQueen at picjumbo 

 

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Life of Pix Ocean & iPhone by Jordan McQueen
I avoided Facebook, like, forever. I didn’t think I wanted everyone from my past “friending” me, plus I know a lot of people and am part of some very diverse circles — how would that work? I was also afraid it would suck up a lot of time; I was online enough already.

When I started SlowMama, I did create a Facebook fan page since many people don’t visit blogs directly; they read through social media. But increasingly I was missing out on information, events, invitations, and conversations that I couldn’t access with just my fan page and were only available on Facebook — particularly relating to parenting and adoption. So I finally raised a white flag and opened a personal account.

Although I rarely post anything to my personal page, I don’t regret signing up — those resources I was after really are super helpful. I find helpful things for my work — and admittedly, I love seeing photos and reading updates from friends and acquaintances.

But Facebook also drives me crazy. As predicted, I end up spending too much time on it… because… well, there’s always an article, a quiz, a cute baby, a heated conversation,  a whatever, to distract me. I’ve also been surprised, even dismayed, by posts and comments from people I know that reflect opinions I wish I never knew they had. Ugh.

I’m not only taken aback by what people post sometimes, I’m amazed at the kind of time they spend there. Don’t people have jobs? Kids? How do they find the time to post so much? I still haven’t figured it out.

So, yes, it’s a love-hate thing with Facebook and I don’t think that will change.

What about you? Are you a big Facebook fan? Or are you one of the rare creatures who has managed to not drink the Kool-aid? Do tell!

Image: Jordan McQueen at Life of Pix

 

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Austria by Marco Berndt
I enjoyed this interview in Kinfolk with Carl Honore, a journalist who’s essentially made himself the go-to expert on all things “slow” since his best-selling book, In Praise of Slowness, came out eleven years ago. Have the concepts of “living slower” penetrated the culture at all since his book came out? That’s what Honore discusses in Kinfolk — which, by the way, is a gorgeous magazine. Pick up a copy up if you ever get the chance!

Here are a few excerpts from the interview, but I encourage you to read the whole thing, which isn’t super long:

Is there any way that technology can help us slow down instead of speeding us up?
Absolutely. People often assume that, as a proponent of the Slow movement, I must be against new technology. They assume slowing down means throwing away the gadgets, yet nothing could be further from the truth. I am no Luddite: I love technology and own all the latest high-tech goodies. To me, being able to speak and write to anyone, anytime, anywhere is exhilarating. By freeing us from the constraints of time and space, mobile communication can help us seize the moment, which is the ultimate aim of Slow.

But there are limits. The truth is that communicating more does not always mean communicating better. You see parents staring at smartphones while spending “quality time” with their children. Surveys suggest that a fifth of us now interrupt sex to read an email or answer a call. Is that seizing the moment, or wasting it? ….

*****

What other countries are approaching work-life balance in an interesting way?
Germany is a shining example at the moment—its economy is a powerhouse of productivity, and yet Germans work far fewer hours than citizens of most other countries. When they’re at work, they focus—checking Facebook is verboten—and get a lot done. And when they’re away from work, they leave the office behind and focus on friends, family and leisure pursuits. They also put up a firewall between work and private life: Leading German firms such as Volkswagen, Puma and BMW have stopped staff from sending or receiving email outside working hours. The German Ministry of Labor has done the same, and has banned managers from contacting staff at home except in emergencies.

*****

A lot of people feel like they don’t have the time to be slow. What steps can we take toward a slower life?
My response would be that if you don’t have the time to be slow, then you aren’t really living properly. You’re racing through life instead of living it. People worry about missing out on life if they slow down, but life is what’s happening right here, right now. As for steps to lead a slower life: Do less. Buy less. Consume less. Drive less. Unplug more. Walk more. Sleep more. Stop multitasking and do one thing at a time. Embed slow moments and rituals into your schedule.

How are you doing when it comes to slow living? Does life feel like it’s going at the right pace for you at the moment?

Image: picography

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Off Grid Adventure

May 1, 2015

Bokeh bark Tomorrow, our family is off to North Carolina for a week to film an episode for an upcoming series about off-grid living. I can’t say much about the show, being sworn to secrecy and all, but I expect we’ll learn a few things and hopefully make some fun family memories in the process. If the back-story filming done at our home last month is any indication, we should prove to be amusing subjects for the show.

I’m excited but also a little nervous, not knowing quite what to expect, and hoping the girls do well and we all stay healthy, etc. Plus, I have to do one of my least favorite things before we even start: fly. But I’m trying to have a spirit of adventure about it all.

Because I’ll largely be offline next week, posting will be a lighter than normal around here. I’ll have one of my monthly links post earlier in the week and Mags will be here on Thursday. I look forward to telling you more about our experience, though I won’t be able to give many details until the show airs. I’ll also try and post some shots on Instagram, if I can, so you can catch a few glimpses there. Wish us well!

Hope you have a peaceful weekend and terrific week ahead.

P.S. I’m happy to report that things are a little calmer here in Baltimore. It sure was a wild sight to see the streets and businesses I frequent lined with National Guardsmen and state police all week. Here’s hoping the protests happening today and this weekend are peaceful and it all leads to reforms, change, and healing that is long overdue.

Image: Dave Meier at picography

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