Spiritual getaways are about stepping (or hiking, kayaking or even leaping your way) out of your comfort zone. In a way, all Outdoor Book Club trips are about this. But if you're really looking for a way to reach your best self, to learn and practice your higher values (and then take those values back to your every day life), here's a list of book ideas that would make great girlfriend getaway trips (or else I can plan it for you):
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
As women, it's really hard for us to embrace our imperfections in a world that requires us to be perfect at beauty, sex, motherhood, careers, cooking, exercise and decorating our kids birthday parties. Brown teaches us how to let go of that need to be perfect all the time, and just embrace our best selves. I think the subtitle says it all: "Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are."
Here's one of my favorite quotes from The Gifts of Imperfection:
“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.
Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.
Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.”
Discussing the themes and lessons of this book with your women friends might be just the thing you need to jumpstart your life. Be sure to check out Brown's TEDtalk on the power of vulnerability, one of the most popular TEDtalks of all time, for a sneak peek of her message.
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
This is a book I turn to again and again. Years ago I highlighted some of my favorite passages in it, and whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed by managing all the details of my life, this book reminds me that I am not my problems. Here's just a sample:
“Give up defining yourself - to yourself or to others. You won't die. You will come to life. And don't be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it's their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don't be there primarily as a function or a role, but as the field of conscious Presence. You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.”
(Hell, I'm going to go pick it up again right now.) It was one of those books that changed the world when Oprah featured it in her spirituality workshop several years ago. Millions tuned in, and millions still turn to Tolle (including his other book, The Power of Now) to find peace and to center themselves. This would be an amazing book to read while on an outdoor retreat with several other women.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
This book touched millions of lives, inspiring women to own their pasts and do something amazing with their present. Strayed's cut-to-the-core writing style paired with humor and the classic tale of the heroine's journey make this an excellent read for a woodsy or backpacking retreat with just the girls. Here's a quote from the book to inspire you:
“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”
Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
This classic nonfiction book has been an invaluable guide as many women pass through the gates of middle age and beyond, making it the perfect book to discuss with your oldest and dearest friends. Lindbergh's writing is full of grace, clarity and lyrical language. She offers sage advice on aging, love (and marriage) as well as peace, solitude and the meaning of contentment. Here's one of my favorite quotes:
“Don't wish me happiness
I don't expect to be happy all the time...
It's gotten beyond that somehow.
Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor.
I will need them all.”
Yes. Yes I will. Another great book for the outdoors, this one read on the shores of a body of water. If you're not near an ocean, a lake or river will do just fine.
The Fault in our Stars by John Green
And why not just throw a fiction book (and a damn fine one at that) in the mix? Not typically considered a "spiritual" book, there are plenty of quotes from this bestseller by John Green that are great for reflecting on the fleeting nature of life and love. My favorites include:
“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
And then there's this one:
“I'm in love with you," he said quietly.
"Augustus," I said.
"I am," he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. "I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you.”
And my all-time favorite:
“The world is not a wish-granting factory.”
*SIGH* This is a book that feels amazing when you read it. A lot of my friends said they cried when they read it, so discussing it around a campfire makes a lot of sense.
Finding the right location
In addition to finding the right book, you're going to have to find the right place -- Vegas, Cancun and other hotspot girlfriend getaways just aren't going to cut it when you're trying to get more in touch with the present and your higher, more spiritual self (not to mention read). For my money, no place in the world can compete with Northern Michigan, especially in the summer and fall — and ABC's morning show apparently agrees. But even if you have to escape to your backyard bonfire to get right with yourself, a spiritual retreat doesn't need to be anywhere exotic. Wherever your favorite books and your favorite people end up gathered together will do just fine.
What are your favorite spirituality books (or books that offer spiritual guidance that you return to) or locations?
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"These are the best things I've ever tasted."
I think that's what my 10-year-old said when we first made these delicious brownies several years ago in a campfire at Interlochen State Park. I had to agree with her — in fact, five years later, if I for some reason was put on death row and needed to request a last meal, these suckers would be all there was on my takeout order.
There is nothing like food cooked over a campfire, and these brownies are among the easiest, most tasty campfire foods you can make. They require a little bit of experimentation (I hear you can also use cinnamon rolls or blueberry muffin mix as well), but that's the fun part of campfire cooking!
Here's what you need:
Slice off the top third of each orange and remove the pulp and juice with a spoon (see above). You can reserve a little of the juice to mix into the batter, or just eat it yourself. Mix the batter then spoon it into the hollowed-out orange shells. You'll only want to fill them about halfway; if you overfill they'll expand and you'll waste all that yumminess. Wrap the oranges in foil (two layers), then bury them each about halfway up in the coals of your fire. DO NOT put them directly in the flames.
It will take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes for the batter to cook into the warmest, gooiest, most delicious chocolate cake you've ever had. Seriously, these things are amazing. It might be worth it to whip up a batch in your backyard bonfire, and not wait just to go camping to enjoy these.
What's your favorite campfire dessert? Leave a recipe (or idea) in the comments.
"What's the craziest thing you'd be willing to do to celebrate the summer solstice?"
It's a question I asked myself recently while doing research for a free summer solstice hike I hosted on June 21 at Aman Park (men, dogs & kids invited!). As we here in the Northern Hemisphere prepare to celebrate the longest day of 2013, I wanted to know what were some of the most out-there traditions surrounding the summer sostice? Turns out you can party with druids at Stonehenge, practice yoga with 8,000 others in Times Square, and a myriad of other activities designed to bring out the pagan in all of us.
What is the summer solstice?
The summer solstice commemorates the longest day of the year — when the Northern Hemisphere is angled most directly toward the sun. But it also happens to be when ancient spirituality enthusiasts, photographers, as well as global freaks & geeks head outside and honor the first day of summer (seems like as good a time as any to enjoy an Oberon). Here is just a sampling of celebrations from around the world:
Set a fire on top of Kokino
One of the richest Bronze Age archaeological sites in Macedonia, Kokino is an ancient observatory located in Macedonia. The site features stone markers that scientists believe ancient people used to track the sun and moon across the eastern horizon.
Scientists believe that Kokino was used more than 4,000 years ago to provide a logical framework around agricultural and livestock breeding — when tribal elders set a fire on top of the observatory, people for miles around knew it was time to start plowing the land, planting the seeds, harvesting to grain and bringing the livestock in from the fields. The site also was used for important religous ceremonies. These days, people mostly make the journey to the top of the mountain to see the sun rise first thing in the morning.
Mass yoga in Times Square
How about yoga with thousands of your best yogi friends? "You don’t come to Times Square for tranquility…unless you’re a yogi with something prove. At this epic, all-day event, nearly 8,000 yoga enthusiasts like you are challenged to find peace and transcendence amid the glare and din of our neighborhood." Not exactly crazy, but still pretty cool. The event offers four free mass yoga sessions, right in the middle of Manhattan.
Engage in a water fight on Kupala Night
Celebrate Kupala Night is also known as Ivan Kupala Day or the Feast of St. John the Baptist. Some scholars claim that the holiday was originally a pagan fertility rite, and young people from all over Eastern Europe still celebrate the holiday: the night before (Tvorila night) is reserved for pranks and "good humour" mischiefs (which often raises the concerns of local law enforcement). Then the next day (on Ivan Kupala day itself), kids have water fights and continue the pranks (which apparently mostly involves pouring water over someone).
Party at Stonehenge
Last year over 20,000 revelers celebrated summer's longest day at Stonehenge, including a "reincarnated king" who was hoisted on the shoulders of revelers. Scholars believe the ring of 20-ton stones was built between 3,000 and 1,600 BC as a sacred temple. Of the 20,000 people who showed up at Stonehenge on June 21, 2013, many came to seriously worship at the ring of stones, but a host of otherse simply came to party.
Throw a stylish cocktail party
For many pagans, this would be a crazy thing to do (napkins are SO bourgeoisie). Add lots of summer-themed decorations, and serve sparkling wine and serve Scandanavian-themed appetizers (those northern peoples are particularly happy on the longest day of the year). When the sun sets, give toast that wishes everyone a very amazing summer (New Year Eve-style).
What about you? Maybe just a good book on pagan celebrations (The Mists of Avalon, anyone)? How do you celebrate summer solstice?
I've been thinking about some of my favorite quotes from the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed. The novel is compelling not only because it's a story about a woman on a journey — both a very real journey and a very metaphorical journey — but because the writing is so crisp, tough-but-loveable, so good.
Here are a few of my favorites:
“The universe, I'd learned, was never, ever kidding. It would take whatever it wanted and it would never give it back.”
Cheryl said this as her mother was dying. This quote also reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Anne Lamott, "make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish." Both of these quotes point to a certain fatality about life.
“It had nothing to do with gear or footwear or the backpacking fads or philosophies of any particular era or even with getting from point A to point B.
It had to do with how it felt to be in the wild. With what it was like to walk for miles with no reason other than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental. It seemed to me that it had always felt like this to be a human in the wild, and as long as the wild existed it would always feel this way.”
I'll never forget my first visit to the U.P (Upper Peninsula for your non-Michigan folks) where there was no cell phone coverage. Those days I had a Blackberry (it must have been around 2007 or 08), and I remember the panic I felt as the bars slowly disappeared into nothing. But after just an hour or two marveling at the unspoiled wilderness, I came to love how pristine the woods, water and air were in the U.P. This quote reminds me of picking blueberries along the same river where Hemingway fished, and how free I felt doing it.
“What if I forgave myself? I thought. What if I forgave myself even though I'd done something I shouldn't have? What if I was a liar and a cheat and there was no excuse for what I'd done other than because it was what I wanted and needed to do? What if I was sorry, but if I could go back in time I wouldn't do anything differently than I had done? What if I'd actually wanted to fuck every one of those men? What if heroin taught me something? What if yes was the right answer instead of no? What if what made me do all those things everyone thought I shouldn't have done was what also had got me here? What if I was never redeemed? What if I already was?”
God if I could tattoo this quote on my arm (it's a little long, even for my entire back) I'd do it. The last three sentences strike me as particularly powerful. We're all terrible people who have, at times, done terrible things. Most of the time we're good-hearted people: we're kind and friendly and don't text when we drive. But we've all been to dark places and done dark things (and I'm not talking about traffic infractions here). And sometimes it's helpful to remember that those dark places and things made us who we are today. Sure, we could spend the rest of our lives feeling the crushing weight of guilt bearing down on all the other wonderful things in our lives. But it's probably better if we instead strive for redemption. It's all any of us can do.
When I was a lifeguard stationed in Korea, part of my job when the pool was closed was to train pilots for emergency water landings. We had a sort "cage," built out of PVC pipe (learn more in this New York Times article), that was supposed to mimick a cockpit. It had a seat and harness where we'd strap the pilots in, fully clothed in their flight suits, then place goggles over their eyes that were painted black so they couldn't see. We handed them a little oxygen canister, then tipped the whole cage over backwards into the deep end of the pool, where it would quickly sink to the bottom. The pilots were supposed to escape from the harness and use the oxygen to get to the surface without being able to see anything, all without panicking.
Sometimes starting a business feels a little like that.
Let me start at the beginning
The fact that I'm an Army veteran surprises most people when they find out (I don't have a buzz cut or wear camoflage -- though I'm still a pretty good shot). I joined when I was nineteen years old, halfway through my first semester at Grand Valley State University. I honestly hadn't even considered military service when I went home for Thanksgiving break, and my parents sat me down and told me that unless started contributing to my education financially, they were no longer going to pay for my tuition.
For an upper middle class white girl who'd never really done anything hard in her life, the may have well as announced they were disowning me. I flew into a panicked rage, and there was great gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair. But weirdly, my parents held firm, and left me bereft and sobbing on the couch in order to go pick up my grandmother from the airport (she was flying in for the holiday). Literally as the garage door was closing, the phone rang. An Army recruiter was on the other end, and the first thing he asked me was if I would like $30,000 for college.
He had my attention.
Talk about timing.
When someone asks me why I joined the military, I answer "To piss off my parents." Which is only half true. In the end, it was just the kind of push I needed to find a life with meaning. College, while kinda fun, wasn't really offering me much in the growth department. Even at 19 I knew there was more to life than going to parties and attending class (in that order). So in another weird turn of fate, my future came down to the flip of a coin in the recruiting station bathroom, just before I was scheduled to raise my right hand and swear to defend the United States of America: heads I would join the Army; tails I would continue with college.
This sounds crazy to people. But again, even as a naive college kid, I knew somehow that whatever side the coin landed on, I would be okay.
So I took a dime out of the pocket of my jeans, looked hard at myself in the mirror, and flipped it in the air.
So I joined the Army
Today I tell people that the Army's best lesson was teaching me what I didn't want to do for a living. I didn't want to take orders from people whose only qualification was that they had more seniority. I didn't want to dig fox holes and I didn't want to move and upend my life every 12 months. Plus there was the GI Bill waiting for me (it ended up being $25,000 in exchange for a three-year enlistment), and by the end of my enlistment I had a husband and a baby on the way - so it was back to college and civillian life for me.
Time passed — almost twenty years. I earned a degree in Advertising & PR with a minor in writing, had developed a fairly successful career in the corporate world, and was recovering from an amicable divorce. I'd lived a mostly safe life. Worked a 40-hour week job, bought a house, gained & lost weight, started writing a novel - you know, things that a lot of normal people do.
But something was missingThis is where the business part comes in. My life was kinda empty, and I couldn't help but notice that old nagging feeling that there was more to life than what I was experiencing. I guess I missed the adventure; corporate life was killing me, as I was working for someone else's dream, to line other people's pockets. I wanted to meet life, and all its inherent failures and successes, on my own terms.
In the spring of 2013 I attended a conference in Chicago for women veterans who wanted to be entrepreneurs, through an organization called V-WISE. There I learned about managing a business, raising capital, marketing to a target audience and more (I wrote about it here). I came up with a business idea to create an online community of divorced, professional moms, and started writing a business plan to submit to V-WISE's business plan competition that was being sponsored by Citi.
The idea wasn't a bad one. But after trying to explain it to both strangers and friends, I discovered that somewhere along the way I'd lost my interest in talking about being divorced. But I didn't know what else to do.
Then one night I was having drinks with co-workers from my job at an insurance company, and someone mentioned that her boss was going to be gone all week camping in the Porkies with her sisters. I thought that was an amazing idea; a camping trip just with women?
But I knew that creativity and true business innovation comes only when you combine two (or more) concepts that had never been brought together before. So I thought about all the things I loved: writing, running, dogs, books. Books? What about taking books outside? Plenty of women had book clubs, but had anyone ever had an outdoor book club? (I also looked into calling the business the Adventure Book Club - but in the end decided to hold on to that name and pursue that idea at a later point.)
The Outdoor Book Club was born
I wrote the business plan, with the help of friends, family & colleagues, and submitted it. I spent nearly a month in constant anxiety until I found out I was selected as a finalist. More weeks of anxiety, but this time with a purpose: a finalist presentation. In January I flew to Long Beach, California to compete for a share of more than $130,000 in prize money. Never in my life have I been more prepared for anything. I read the books. I bought the suit (which I ended up trading for hiking boots & a frame backpack). I practiced my pitch in front of anyone who would listen.
In the end, I beat out 14 other semi-finalists to take third place in my program, netting $10,000 to start my business. [INSERT FIST PUMP HERE] I'd be lying if I said I was disappointed that I didn't take home first, but the women who took first and second simply did a better job than I did in the 90 second presentation that decided where the money went. As we say in the Army, "Suck it up and drive on."
Turns out, earning $10,000 was the easy partI flew home, and flying high on the energy from the competition, and after two weeks of my brain slowly melting as I sat in my cubicle at the insurance company, I decided to quit my job.
"You've got bigger balls than I do, Jill," said a good friend over drinks. I smiled, secretly freaking out inside.
That was this past February. In the last two months I've set up this website, planned three trips/workshops and have been telling everyone I know about the business. A lot of women seem genuinely interested, which has been incredibly inspiring. But this is hard work - pulling in money has been scary and weird and it feels like I'm flying blind half the time.
But my life has meaning. It has flexibility and excitedment and boredom and I learn something new every day. Which is exactly how I want to live my life.
I love books. And awesome women. And doing hard things.That's what my business, and my life, is all about. But those hard things can't be too hard, but hard enough so that I feel a real sense of accomplishment afterwards. I love intelligent conversations about deep subjects, like politics and moral compasses and how we can work together to change the world for the better. I love campfires. I love summer. I love wine. I love dogs. And all those things combined is why I started the Outdoor Book Club. Because I want to discover my own inner heroine, and help others do the same thing.
So when people ask me why I started this business, this is what I tell them: because it was time. Because no one had done this before, and that some things are worth doing even if you fail. And despite a lot of anxiety, self-doubt and frustration, I've never been happier. Never.
Time to put on the goggles and fall into the deep end.
Several months back a friend of mine asked me about starting a business, and how I had gone about it. Truth is, I've been starting this business my whole life, even if I only just filed my LLC paperwork in December 2013. I've spent the last several years reading a wide variety of books and blogs, attending classes, watching videos and experiencing life in a way that has led me directly to starting my own business. But really this journey started when I was a kid -- and everything from my first ride on the back of a horse by myself to getting up enough balls to quit my well-paying, boring office job had led up to launching the OBC. I just didn't always know it at the time.
That being said, there have been some go-to resources over the past year or so that have been instrumental in helping me look, feel and act like an actual entrepreneur.
So Good They Can't Ignore You by Cal Newport - Newport urges us all to stop believing the "follow your passion" bullshit, which sounds good in theory, but it leads a lot of people to feel worthless and betrayed. Get good at something - really good. Then work to find a way to make money at it.
Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur - This is a must-read (must-do?) for anyone who wants to start a business or nonprofit, and needs to work through how the business model will work. Their Business Model Canvas will help you visually lay out exactly how your business will work. Also good for corporate product development teams.
The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki - I decided in the end that I was not going to seek venture capital to fund my startup, but I did compete in one very important business plan competition where I walked away with $10,000. I couldn't have won that money without Kawasaki's advice on pitching your business to potential investors (which essentially was what the competition judges were).
Heart, Smarts, Guts & Luck by Richard J Harrington, Tsun-Yan Hsieh & Anthony K. Tjan - This is a book that had some good ideas, but mostly just served to keep me inspired. The whole survey bit a somewhat contrived, as I found I had elements from almost every element in my personality (though smarts & luck showed up most prominently).
Help. Thanks. Wow. by Anne Lamott - Because we really need some feminine energy in this mix, and also because there are days when entrepreneurship includes all of these emotions.
99u.com - Their tagline is "Insights on Making Ideas Happen." Includes a ton of great & insightful tips on everything from psychology to product launches, which is great because there is so much repetitive bullshit on the internet when it comes to advice. I'd guess that 99% of it falls within the "duh" category. Even 99u's videos are compelling, and as one of the .001% of people on the web who don't have the patience for watching videos - I'd rather read - this is saying a lot.
Buffer blog - Wow, this app's blog is a virtual treasure trove of awesome information for startups. I don't use their service (yet), but I love them. The most influential articles (for me) include Belle Beth Cooper's stuff, like The Secret to Creativity, Intelligence, and Scientific Thinking: Being Able to Make Connections, 8 Helpful Online Tools To Keep Your Company On Track and The Complete Guide for Finding and Sharing Better Content on Social Media.
Lifehacker - sometimes this site overwhelms me with how much useful stuff is there. I still force myself to read through the headlines every day.
Penelope Trunk - She's a career-writer with Asperger's who hardly ever writes about careers. Her stuff is smart, good and raw - a combination you rarely see in today's over-polished world of mediocre amateurs. Would I want to be friends with her? No way, she's kinda nuts. But I read everything she puts out.
Tara Gentile - Tara speaks to women-owned microbusinesses, but I've been particularly impressed with her focus on money & profitability. Some good stuff, particularly if you're trying to start an artsy type of business.
Abby Kerr - Abby puts out awesome stuff, including the first e-course I ever paid for - which catered to INFJ business owners. Her newsletter always includes some great links.
Evernote - I use this app to document everything - including my receipts for taxes. I use the website as often as the iPhone app.
Feedly - I read. Like A LOT. And believe it or not, books make up less than half of what I read (my favorite magazine is Esquire, which sometimes makes me want to be a guy when I grow up, the writing is that good). I was deeply annoyed when Google Reader went away several months ago, but Feedly has mostly lived up to my standards of being able to organize, read and share the stuff I want to read. The only problem? I'll never be able to read everything in my feed. #firstworldproblems
Startgarden - This is a local organization in Grand Rapids that gives away $5,000 a week to promising startups. I competed but lost (doesn't mean I can't try again someday, but I hate asking for Facebook votes, which is what's required as part of the process). Still, their classes and overall vibe have been instrumental in helping me along my journey (despite being decidedly dude-centric).
V-WISE - I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention this organization, which gave me the encouragement (and money) to really become an entrepreneur. Hooray for lady veterans!
Of course, I've had a lot of support from real-life people in my life, including a friend who used to own a talent agency and a friend who owns a yoga studio, as well as countless co-workers, friends (including friends from high school and my ex-husband) and family. And I really wouldn't be here if it weren't for The Red Headed Stranger, the guy who just recently asked me if I wanted to have the world's longest and best sleepover party by getting married.
Finally, starting a business has meant having some really big balls. Taking (calculated) risks is something I believe mightily in, even if I eventually fail. But being prepared with lots of inspiration and research makes that so much easier.
Pinterest camping has turned into one of our favorite places to find outdoor-related inspiration and hacks (it's been the inspiration for my posts how to stay warm when camping in the cold and how to start a campfire, and I use it almost exclusively to find content to share on my Facebook and Twitter feeds). It offers a wealth of recipes, destination ideas, hiking/backpacking/camping tips and of course gorgeous "memes" that remind me why I started the Outdoor Book Club in the first place. (Have you followed me there yet?) Lots of people use Pinterest to plan weddings; why not use it to plan your big adventure?
Four stages of camp planning: Fantasize, Plan, Experience, Share
Any planned adventure starts with an idea. Maybe you heard a friend rave about her camping trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes and want to have a similar experience. Perhaps you read an article, saw a picture or even had a dream about backpacking. That's when you start fantasizing about what an awesome trip you would have if you were the one planning the experience.
Once you decide you're at least somewhat serious about making your epic adventure happen, that's when you start planning. You look at your calendar, you research campsites, starting taking inventory of your gear, look up recipes and think about who you'll invite along. For many of us, planning is our strong suit and can be one of the best parts of camping. Pinterest makes it even more fun and inspiring.
The third stage is that you actually go on the trip. You use all the tips and resources you found, and take lots of pictures. You lose yourself in the beauty of the great outdoors, hike to places you've never seen, enjoy the warmth of a campfire with some amazing food and friends. You bring back a Petoskey stone from the beach, lots of gorgeous pictures and, after months or maybe years of wanting, found a sense that you've rediscovered your inner heroine.
How to use Pinterest for camping planning
I'm assuming here that you have a basic understanding of how Pinterest works. So I'll only give you a simple warning (which you probably already know, but bears repeating): Pinterest can be extremely addictive. You can spend hours and hours there, falling down one rabbit hole after another, your brain tweaked up on projects and ideas that might sound amazing and mind-blowing, but will in all likelihood, never happen. Planning your camping trip is no exception. So either accept that's your fate, or put a time limit on your browsing. Let's get started!
Create your boards
Boards help you organize your pins into categories like recipes, activity ideas, gear, inspiration and more. Don't go overboard with pinning everything that you find inspiring or interesting, otherwise you'll have a hard time finding the information you really need to plan your camping trip. Often using the "favorite" option is a good alternative to pinning everything you like. Questions to ask as you begin to create boards:
For example, if you're planning a backpacking trip to Isle Royale, you might want to create boards called (here are links to some of my boards):
Follow other people's boards
In order to find the best and most useful information, you need to start following boards and people. There are probably at least a handful of people who have started similar projects as yours.
Now you might not love every single one of their pins, but that's the beauty of Pinterest. You add the pins you do love to your own board. Once you've followed a board (or person), his or her pins will start populating in your home feed (similar to Facebook). Now each time you login to Pitnerest you'll have a fresh crop of camping, hiking and outdoorsy pins ready to peruse (and pin on your own boards).
Use the general search option to get started
This is as good a place as any to start your journey. Type in a keyword, like "hiking" or "camping" and you're off. Once you find a couple of good pins, you'll be well on your way to creating some truly inspiring boards. You can also start pining photos from some of your favorite outdooors sites. Found a helpful blog post on your destination that you want to revisit later? Pin it. Discover an inspiring travel photo? Pin it.
Make sure that you use the "related pins" option. Here's where you'll find some of your best stuff. (Remember what I said earlier about rabbit holes?) This really is the most awesome way to find the best pins. You'll move around the underworld of Pinterest, finding new and wonderful things on a variety of boards.
Got friends who camp? Follow them on Pinterest!
The best way to find the friends you already have through Facebook or Twitter is to click your name in the top right corner of the homepage, then use the Find Friends option in the drop-down menu. You can decide which friends you want to follow. To "tag" a person to a pin, simply use their Pinterest username with the "@" symbol.
Group boards are your friendHave you decided to bring along family members or a group of friends? Bring a little communal inspiration to a board, and invite them to add their own pins. This will keep everyone inspired and on the same page.
Pay it forward & create a post-trip boardPinterest is not only a great place for fantasizing & planning, but for organizing and sharing your adventures. After you come back from your camping trip, make sure you create another board where you can share photos and experiences of the trip (and help the next woman who comes along who's using Pinterest to plan her trip).
What are your favorite boards when it comes to the outdoors? Share in the comments below.
Jill Hinton Wolfe