Going Off the Grid: Why It's Good For You

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10313527_10203066963346796_6451357325797666116_n One thing [of many] that I love about being at our family cabin in Montana, is the fact that it is completely off the grid. When I first went out there years ago, it was a bit of a shock for me. I was very much accustomed to the creature comforts of modern life, and the fact that I had to use a compost toilet in an outhouse, initially seemed like a sick joke.

But, as the years have gone by, I have grown to appreciate the beauty of the simultaneous simplicity and complexity that being off the grid provides. The only power is solar power [when you choose to hook it up] and the water all comes from a well. When my husband and I go out there, just the two of us and our dog, Gunner, we often choose to not to have electricity in order to fully immerse ourselves in the "Off the Grid Experience".

After our most recent trip to the cabin, I have come up with some reasons why going completely off the grid is good to do every once in a while - for your body and your soul.

1. Fewer distractions.

Going off the grid means no TV, no cell phone service, and no internet. It means you have to find ways to entertain yourself - ways that are, in my opinion, seemingly more in tune with a primal part of humans. Read a book [or two, or three...], go for a hike, go fishing, go for a walk, play a board game, simply sit and talk with a loved one, or just enjoy the silence and watch nature going about its business around you.

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2. Quality time.

I love being at the cabin with my husband because there are no distractions. We are able to really be together and have long conversations and play games together and enjoy little things, like a herd of 23 deer grazing right outside the cabin. We get to share the work that comes with being off the grid, like hand washing dishes and making a fire in the wood burning stove. It's magical, in a way, to spend a weekend entirely cut off from the rest of the world. Especially with the one you love.

3. Candlelight.

One of my favorite parts of being off the grid is having to use candlelight at night. My husband and I ate our dinners by candlelight. We lit a dozen candles and spread them out all around the cabin, filling the place with a warm, flickering glow. The wood burning stove crackled and heated the cabin, making it cozy. Candlelight is so calming and beautiful.

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4. Work for it!

Being off the grid is a lot of work. A LOT. You have to chop wood for the fire, especially in the cold months. Without a fire, the cabin is freezing, so always having a bunch of wood on hand is a must. You have to empty the compost toilet. Enough said about that. You have to hand wash dishes with well water, which is a task that I avoid feverishly at home, thanks to my dishwasher. Cooking takes longer, so you have to plan meals ahead accordingly. But the good thing about all of the work that goes into being off the grid, is that it makes you appreciate that fire, and the ingenious nature of that compost toilet, and that food that you slaved away over, and those sparkling clean dishes, in ways that you never would if you hadn't had to work so hard for them.

5. Appreciate nature.10306182_10203066990667479_5290437805133571472_n

Over a four-day weekend at the cabin a couple of weeks ago, my husband and I saw countless deer, a herd of 37 elk, four moose, and a bunch of bighorn sheep. It is incredible to be able to be so close to wildlife and to observe it in its natural state. It's a rush!

If given the opportunity, my recommendation would be to take advantage of a chance to get off the grid for a few days. It makes you appreciate the little things, and it allows you to quiet your mind and focus on the present. Going off the grid is hard work, but the reward is more than worth it.

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Up Close and Personal

I hunch down in the tall, yellow grass - awestruck and giddy at my proximity to the hulking black creature which stands only a few yards in front of me. It’s large head looks furry and I imagine that it might be soft to the touch. It’s long tail swishes spontaneously at the endless swarm of flies buzzing around it’s body. The creature moves slowly but deliberately through the grass, over the uneven terrain, passing directly in front of me. With my Canon Rebel out and at the ready I watch until the perfect moment presents itself. The buffalo pauses a moment. It is facing ever so slightly away from me, waiting as if pondering something. A cool, breeze blows through the grass and the green sage brush that surrounds us. I raise the camera to my eye and focus the lens in...waiting...waiting... With no sense of urgency, the buffalo turns his massive head towards me. I see his great eye, filled with a deep intelligence and beauty, focus on me - a strange little being, crouching not far from him with my camera plastered to my face. 17759_10201274979148311_471044507_n

For a moment we stare at one another, me through my camera’s lens, him through deep, liquid brown pools. Each of us evaluates the other, weighing the danger that the other presents. I feel an overwhelming sense of vulnerability. I know that if this creature decides that I am a threat, it could turn on me and in a very short amount of time it could cover the distance between us and that would be it for me. I would not stand a chance. I am at its mercy.

The buffalo’s tail continues to swish back and forth. It’s eyes continue to size me up and down. I slowly rise up a bit from my crouch in an effort to get a better shot, refocusing my lens. The buffalo remains statue still. I slowly press my finger down on the button. The camera snaps a few pictures of the buffalo. I lower the camera slowly. The buffalo hasn’t moved and is still watching me. I hold my breath, waiting for what the creature’s reaction to my invasion of its privacy will be.

Then, with a grunt, the buffalo turns and quietly drifts away, over the plains and out of sight.

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