A Life Less Structured

For the second time in my life, I have taken the plunge and quit my day job. Something inside me was screaming that I am not meant to sit for eight hours straight per day. Sunlight and movement and open space were things that my soul was craving. Days free from clocks, structure, screens and boxes. 

The last time I quit my day job, a couple of side projects that I had been working on for years suddenly took off at just that moment. I had more time to focus on my art, and discovered that people actually wanted to buy it. I took a scary risk, and it somehow worked out... and here I am again, swimming upstream against the tide of "supposed to."

I'm usually quite the planner, but sometimes I decide to just wing it instead. This is one of those times. 

Here is some of what I've been soaking in lately.

Looking out over the Buffao Bill Reservoir and the Absaroka Mountains at Buffalo Bill State Park in Cody, Wyoming.

Looking out over the Buffao Bill Reservoir and the Absaroka Mountains at Buffalo Bill State Park in Cody, Wyoming.

Morning light on summer wildflowers on the hike up to Elk Mountain in the Wyoming Range - one of my new favorites.

Morning light on summer wildflowers on the hike up to Elk Mountain in the Wyoming Range - one of my new favorites.

Waking up to see the sunrise on Jackson Lake after a night of camping in  Grand Teton National Park .

Waking up to see the sunrise on Jackson Lake after a night of camping in Grand Teton National Park.

Watching the thunderclouds roll in as the sun shines moody light on the steamy Excelsior Geyser in Yellowstone National Park.

Watching the thunderclouds roll in as the sun shines moody light on the steamy Excelsior Geyser in Yellowstone National Park.

Lingering in this field of happiness in  Grand Teton National Park .

Lingering in this field of happiness in Grand Teton National Park.

The view of the "Idaho side" of the Tetons framed by wildflowers on the hike up to Peaked Peak at Grand Targhee.

The view of the "Idaho side" of the Tetons framed by wildflowers on the hike up to Peaked Peak at Grand Targhee.

Enjoying lunch after a hike up to Delta Lake in  Grand Teton National Park , the moment before a cold wind and a hailstorm drove everyone else away (while I put on my rain suit and backpack cover and waited a short time for it to blow over).

Enjoying lunch after a hike up to Delta Lake in Grand Teton National Park, the moment before a cold wind and a hailstorm drove everyone else away (while I put on my rain suit and backpack cover and waited a short time for it to blow over).

Hiking through fields of tall, trail-obscuring Nettle-leaf Horsemint, Lupine and Sticky Geranium on the long, strenuous route up to Liar's Pass in the Big Hole Mountains of eastern Idaho.

Hiking through fields of tall, trail-obscuring Nettle-leaf Horsemint, Lupine and Sticky Geranium on the long, strenuous route up to Liar's Pass in the Big Hole Mountains of eastern Idaho.

Getting lost in lupine.

Getting lost in lupine.

River of No Return

I had never set foot in the state of Idaho before the day I moved here. The "Welcome to Idaho" sign near the end of steep, winding, still-snowy-in-April Teton Pass was my initiation. Did I mention that I was riding in an RV with 4 cats? 

I had carefully researched our move online though, every detail of it. I already knew that I wanted to work at Earthfire Institute, and had sent them a cover letter with my resume.  I already had plans to be a workshare at a local organic farm to ensure that we at least had a food supply for the first 6 months in case nothing else worked out. 

But I knew no one in the town I was moving to and had never seen the town in person until the day I moved there. I had also never seen my new home in person until our RV parked in front of it. In some ways, it was a leap of faith. In other ways, I was just that sure about this.

The doors to the house were unlocked when we arrived, because that's how things are here. To me, it was like a passage in time back to my childhood growing up in a small town where feral children still played outside, and no one locked their doors. It's still like that here. 

And it's quiet. And I can see the Milky Way in the sky at night. 

Idaho hadn't even been on our radar until Max and I happened to see a PBS special called River of No Return. Who knew that the state of Idaho contained the second largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states?! Not I! I had been told it was all potato farms. Shortly after watching River of No Return, we stopped searching for homes near Yellowstone National Park in Montana and Wyoming, and started looking at Idaho. And then it wasn't long until we were on the road to our new home.

the road home

There's Still Time to Change the Road You're on

Before I moved to the mountains of Idaho, I lived in New Jersey.  The noise and the light pollution and the greyish skies and the overcrowding and the endless sea of tiny boxes that I saw out my window were driving me to madness.

The street light shining through my bedroom window all night. 

The neighbor's backyard floodlight that was on all night long, beaming through the crack of window that my kitchen shade didn't cover, bouncing off the woodwork, and illuminating the interior of my darkened house.

The leaf blowers. The constant, crazy-making leaf blowers.

The highway noise, always a constant hum in the background.

And row after row after row of houses. Box after box after box. Ever notice how there are no boxes in nature?

Shortly before I left New Jersey behind for good, I took a hike through Cheesequake State Park. Damage that had been done by Hurricane Sandy a few months earlier had left the park looking very changed. 

I took this photo there, and titled it: There's still time to change the road you're on.

Cheesequake State Park, New Jersey

Soon after, I was road tripping cross-country in a rented RV with my husband Max and 4 catsmoving over 2,000 miles away to Teton Valley, Idaho. In my new home I am surrounded by open space, snow-capped mountains, wildlife and deep blue skies. Yellowstone National Park, one of the quietest places in America, is a short distance away. And there are no street lights in my neighborhood.