Tag Archives: camping

Spontaneous Fire and Falling Stars

Firelight on upturned faces as we watch the stars begin to fall.

Firelight on upturned faces as we watch the stars begin to fall.

Last week I mentioned that I was going on retreat.  I went.  It was wonderful.  The church choir members and I and my husband congregated up in Big Bear.  We brought the dog and our tent.  We had a lot of fun together laughing and eating and exploring and eating and resting and well eating.  Several members mentioned that we were probably most successful at the last 3 letters in retreat.  I suggested that we used all the letters, just in a slightly unconventional way.  We did eat.  And then we did re-eat.  And we capped it off with some tea.  So we covered all the bases.  We came back down the mountain on Saturday sun-kissed, happy and tired.

But I’m writing today to tell you about what happened on Sunday.  After church, my husband and I were enjoying some lunch and talking about what we would do that day.  He mentioned that the Perseid Meteor showers were scheduled to be at their peak that night.  We said what a shame it was that we wouldn’t be able to see them very well in LA.  I quickly pulled out my phone and googled “best places in So Cal to see Perseids”.  #1 on the list was Joshua Tree National Park.  At this point it was nearly 1:00 PM.  But my husband and I looked at each other and both got a devious and adventurous look on our faces.  “Let’s go,” said my hubby.  “Woo Hoo!  It’s an adventure!” I said.

Neither of us had ever been to Joshua Tree.  I quickly found out that it was over 2.5 hours drive and the visitor’s center closed at 5.  There was no ability to make a reservation at a campground at that point.  Luckily we hadn’t really unpacked from Big Bear yet.  We frantically threw things into bags, loaded up the cooler and some warm clothes and the dog and hopped in the car.

This is not typical for us.  Usually I have maps printed and our site reservations confirmed all before we even think about leaving the house.  I have an excel spreadsheet for all our camping gear for God’s sake.  But this time we just went for it.  And it was magical.

My husband and I are both complete space geeks.  Always have been.  We had decided to sleep in the car.  The Element has seats that all fold together to make a bed.  But the meteor shower was SO much more spectacular than I imagined it to be.  The viewing conditions at the park were perfect!  We ended up sleeping on top of a picnic table, bundled under a pile of blankets, holding hands and watching the stars fall from the sky.

It was nearly 3 AM and the park was so quiet.  “There’s one!” He whispered.  “Oooo that’s a good one!” I would reply.  For a while we tried to keep count as to who had seen more.  But as the morning wore on, there were 2 or 3 or even more meteors per minute.  We simply lost count.

Geek love is a little different than what you see in the movies, kids.

You know, there are so many moments that we work so hard to put together.  We scrimp and save and plan.  But this impromptu little trip will probably live on as one of my very favorite memories.  We didn’t have a fancy meal.  A fast food nosh on the way and s’mores around the fire.  But just being together and breathing together, and experiencing wonder together, was so very peaceful and joyful and exciting all at the same time.

Tired, rumpled and happy after staying up all night watching meteors.

Tired, rumpled and happy after staying up all night watching meteors.

What I’m trying to say here is that sometimes you just gotta throw caution to the wind (at least a little bit), throw some stuff in a bag, hop in the car and go.  You never know what you’ll get.  On the down side, stuff will be sort of a disaster, and you’ve got a funny story to tell  your friends when you get home.  On the up side, stuff is perfect, and you’ve got a beautiful story to tell yourself all the rest of your life.

Here’s hoping you find your magic getaway moment.  Whether it’s trying a new restaurant or moving to another country, I hope your story is wonderful.  And I can’t wait to hear it!

Love (and good night!) from:

The Fat Chick

 

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Filling the Barns

We had the house tented for termites this past weekend.  This is a rite of passage that nearly all Southern California folks go through at some point in their lives, and it is a big pain in the tuckus.  We had to be out of the house for several days and we had to spend many hours prepping the house for the process.  Frankly we were dreading the whole thing.  We had researched some hotels in town that could accommodate us and our dog and we were frankly less than thrilled with the options.

Then my awesome husband came up with a brilliant idea.  “Let’s go camping!” he said.  I was skeptical.  I was waiting to hear back from a show producer.  I had piles and piles of work to do and I knew the campground didn’t have wi-fi.  How could I realistically take the weekend off?  I also wasn’t sure that prepping to live in a tent while we were prepping to tent the house seemed like such a good idea, but I agreed.  And getting ready for the trip was kind of tough with everything else going on, but boy am I ever glad we did.

We finally had just a breath of fall.  It was so nice to don a light jacket at night and to live without the whirr of the AC for a few days.  The weather was frankly, perfect.  Warm, sunny, clear and gorgeous.  We spent a lot of time doing nothing.  We walked.  We talked.  We looked at trees. We tasted apple cider.  We played with the dog.

This was definitely a lemons to lemonade situation here.  I had been wanting to take some time off, but just felt that I couldn’t.  I was clearly tense, frustrated and completely out of energy.  But somehow I felt I needed to keep slogging.  I was trying to keep the farm running and the livestock fed with an empty barn.

It was just a reminder that sometimes you have to stop and fill the barn.  Sometimes you have to quit waving the pitchfork around and you need to go get some hay.  Sometimes you’ve got to refuel.

Sure, I took almost a whole weekend off.  (I still took a producer call on Friday night and taught class Saturday morning.)  And you know what?  The world kept on turning.  I remembered that I have a family who loves me.  And I am ready to face that huge pile of stuff to do again with renewed energy and purpose.

I’m remembering again that I am one very lucky fat chick!

Love,

The Fat Chick

The Zen (sort of) Art of Camping

Sometimes I joke that the best part of camping is how relieved you are not to be camping any more.  Seriously.  You know, like when you say to somebody, “It hurts when I do this!” They invariably dutifully ask, “Well, why are you doing that?”  You reply, “Because it feels so good when I stop!”  Yeah, camping is a little like that.

When I told one of my good friends I was planning on going camping, she said that for her, camping seemed to be mostly about cooking and cleaning up after cooking and getting things ready for sleeping and sleeping and picking things up after sleeping.  And I agreed.  Camping is kind of like that too.  But for me, that’s sort of the point of camping.

For me, camping takes me out of my routine at home and slows me down.  Everyday things like making a meal or doing dishes are more challenging when you have to pull everything out of a cooler and make a fire and heat your own water.  But I also find that the slower and more challenging nature of doing these things in a more primitive way causes me to live in the moment.  While I’m making dinner, I’m not also on the cell phone and figuring out what I’m going to wear today.  While I’m doing dishes, I’m not also watching TV and thinking about what my last client said to me.  I find that I can be absorbed in what I’m doing and achieve a state of flow.

For me, a state of flow is a condition where for a few, brief, blessed moments, I’m concentrating completely on what I’m doing while I’m doing it.  It’s rare and elusive but supremely relaxing.  It’s living in the now without reflection and without worry.  It’s just a matter of doing stuff while you’re doing it.  This is something I also feel whenever I teach an exercise class.  There’s so much to keep track of while teaching–from how my students are doing to the temperature in the room to the beat of the music to what step I’m supposed to be doing right now to making sure that everybody is being safe and not getting hurt.  Whenever I start thinking about what I’m going to have for lunch or whether or not I should buy that shirt I saw at the mall last night, it all falls apart.  I stumble.  I lose my place in the music.  And I find I have to shake my head, march us all in place for a little while and begin again.  But when I’m just thinking about my students and the beat and the dancing, it’s calming and joyous and maybe a little teensy bit zen.

So my little chicklettes–I want to ask you to think about what activities allow you to achieve this sort of moving meditation.  What allows you to live completely in the “now”?  Is there something you love to do?  Something during which you can be completely absorbed and time seems to just “fly by”?  I encourage you to find your thing.  Maybe you could even try camping.  Because, when you stop camping and take a bath and slip in between clean sheets on a real bed, it feels soooooooo good.

Love,

The Fat Chick

The Fat Chick Unplugged: Back to Nature

The Fat Chick and family get back to nature

I often talk about balance on The Fat Chick Sings.  My husband just finished up a pretty intense gig and I knew he needed a break.  So the minute he told me the date of his last day, I announced that the day after his last day, we were going camping!

Now I love technology as much as the next chick.  Possibly even MORE!  And my husband works as a high level technology consultant.  But sometimes my little chicklettes, you need to unplug and get away from technology for a little while.  So we go camping.

We have a funny rule on our camping trips.  We only check cell phones/email one time per day and we only check our spouses email/cell phones not our own.  We know each other well enough to know what constitutes a real emergency and what can wait.  And then neither of us gets sucked down the rabbit hole of emails and electronic love that pulls us out of the moment.

So we unplug the technology, stoke the campfire, pour some wine into our plastic camp cups and sit.  We feel the breeze on our faces.  We trace the patterns in the stars.  We talk about everything and nothing.  We breathe.

I wonder sometimes if feeling the sun on our faces is something that we need for health.  Some casual googling reveals many folks believe that spending time in nature helps deal with depression, helps us heal, makes us feel more creative and may even help us live longer.

Now I’m not saying that camping and/or being outside is always awesome.  There are challenges (more on this tomorrow).  And I admit, it’s a whole lot easier to spend time outside when you live in Southern California than in many other places in the world.  But it seems like getting outside for just a few minutes each day might be a good addition to our list of healthy habits.

So my little chicklettes, I invite you to spend just a teensy tiny bit of time today feeling the sun on your beaks and the wind ruffling through your fluffy little feathers.  Take two deep breaths and call me in the morning.

Love,

The Fat Chick