Rekindling a Love for the Outdoors in a French Garden

by: Melissa Risenhoover


I haven't always been a nature lover.

If you had asked me if I like nature before we left for our summer in France I would have said yes, but in reality I had slowly, over the last twenty years of my life, become somewhat of a snob when it came to the outdoors. If I was too hot or too cold I wanted inside. If I was wet, get me inside. Windy? Inside. Too far to walk? Inside...a car. 

You get the picture. 


Needless to say, France is sort of a nice place to be outside. And our friends, no matter where we went, loved the outdoors. I began to walk EVERYWHERE and learned to love it. I will never forget the first long walk we went on and about half way through I started to get mad. Why were we STILL walking? My feet hurt and I was annoyed. 

That was the turning point. I came back from that walk more mad at myself than anything. Why on earth would I be upset about walking? Using my two legs that work perfectly well and enjoying the beautiful beach town in FRANCE! I KNOW RIGHT??? I was blind. I almost don't want to write this because its so embarrassing. But it's the truth. 


During those summer months my attitude shifted. I had a rekindling of love for the outdoors and even took a very cold sea bath in the English Channel. (I'll have to share that story)

The following are my words I posted over a year ago. 

This summer our friends that lived by the sea in the Brittany region of France had a magical landscape that surrounded their home. We spent a lot of time in the garden that was tucked away behind layers of green shrubs and a lovely stone wall. As a child I loved being outside and enjoyed it probably more than being inside. As I got older my love for nature slowly dwindled and for the first few weeks of being in France this was very evident. Having friends who loved being outside and who also took regular "baths" in the very cold ocean near their home, was a blessing far beyond what I knew.

"My feet on the grass absorbing the wonderful energy of our earth and watching my kids fall in love with nature and the French landscape." 

I still cozied up quite a bit reading my books and taking much needed naps, but the call to go outside and be in nature was far stronger than I expected. Long walks, garden swings, ocean dips...we were outside a lot and for the first time in a long time I was enjoying it. My feet on the grass absorbing the wonderful energy of our earth and watching my kids fall in love with nature and the French landscape. 


How Owning a Small Family House and Traveling Reflects Our Family’s Values

By: Kate Saffle

When we sold our Oklahoma City house last May, we were nearly 100% positive we would be traveling full-time in the next 6 months. We had spent the previous year planning for that new life: researching, shopping for trailers, talking to other full-time traveling families, and massively downsizing our belongings.


Northern Indiana was to be a pitstop, a place to get our plan on the road (literally), to have the support of family, and also to have a place to come back to between travels. We were infatuated with the freedom of no roots and no mortgage and spent last summer exploring the area, practically living at the beach.  And so we unexpectedly fell in love with this part of the country that is nestled in the sand dunes of Lake Michigan and not far from Chicago.

So now 10 months later, why didn't we leave? And more importantly how could we possibly make the leap to buying a house again after swearing off of home ownership indefinitely when we sold our last house?

There are several reasons, some of which are personal and some of which I'm happy to share. We had two family members battling cancer, one of which was also about to be a new father. We couldn't find a long-term way to fund travel, and my remote university teaching job simply wouldn't cover our expenses.  And despite my continuous attempts to secure a better paying remote job, it wasn't in the cards.

But then we came to the startling realization that we actually love where we live now. We began making friends and forming community. We met other homeschooling families and formed a nature hiking group. We bought a smaller camper, a Casita, to make road travel possible.  And then we found our house.

Cohesive Home - Small Living

We weren't looking (seriously) and yet, one Friday night I was avoiding grading another round of essays about da Vinci (who becomes boring quite quickly after 80 or so papers on him) and began looking at local real estate instead. We knew we weren't ready or able to travel full-time, rentals in our area are priced through the roof, but we craved our own space again after living with family for nearly a year.
And then I found the house. You surely know the details if you follow me on Instagram. But in a nutshell? Small, borderline tiny 2 bedroom 1 bathroom house walking distance to everything. Adorably cute, ridiculously cheap, and the perfect simple living family home.  I laughed when I first saw the listing, but I should have seen the writing on the wall. Our values had changed over the past 10 months from when we started our journey to reflect a desire for travel AND roots, and the perfect house had found us. 

"Our values had changed over the past 10 months from when we started our journey to reflect a desire for travel AND roots, and the perfect house had found us." 

We close Thursday. This house is part of our adventure, part of our family's story of changing our lives to wholeheartedly reflect our values. We still plan to travel, often as possible, and hope to use this home as an AirBNB rental in the future when we can take longer trips.  We are longing for deeper community, for days spent over lingering walks in our neighborhood, chats with local farmers over leafy produce, and spontaneous trips to the ice cream parlor after a hot afternoon playing hard at the playground. While we deeply desire traveling to new places to experience other cultures, we also want to innately know the fabric of our own hood as well.

Cohesive Home - Home and Travel

And you know what? Travel, of any kind, feels more satisfying when you know you have a home to come back to. For the past few years I've convinced myself roots are bad, and that our happiness is explicitly and only tied to experiences over possessions. I still believe that, but I also know that creating a path that honors wanderlust and secure roots is the best way to meet the needs of everyone in my family. And so we're ready to finally be “home” again, 675 square feet and all.