Packing light is not something I’ve ever been particularly good at, nor really seen the need to do, but when we moved to China and started traveling around southeast Asia quite a bit, I quickly found that backpacking was almost a necessity if I wanted to survive airports, train stations, taxis, buses, and ferries. Backpacking forces you to leave behind what isn’t necessary and not take more than you can carry. I had no idea that I would come to love backpacking, the act and also the mindset. It allows you to experience a new freedom, by worrying less about what to plan for, and ultimately carry less.
Riding bikes into the nearby village to ‘go grocery shopping,’ is not a place where there are fancy storefronts, and endless options, but rather market stalls and produce stands. Vendors line the street with the fruits and vegetables that are in season for summer, some which include peaches, plums, watermelon, green beans, and cucumbers. Market shopping is something I have come to love the simplicity of so much these days.
‘Outdoorsy’ is not an adjective I would have ever used to describe myself and until recently, hiking was only fun for about thirty minutes. But as I’ve ventured a little further outside of my comfort zone, the thing that amazes me is that when I finally reach the summit, every time I think ‘this was worth every step.’ Whether it’s trekking a volcano to watch the sunrise, exploring the jungle to find a waterfall, or hiking along the Yellow River, when you finally arrive, it’s worth it every time.
4. Coy fish
These little fish are all over from parks, to garden ponds, to the watercolor art work that is native to China. Their vibrant color is not only eye catching but every time I see one, I am reminded of the story in Matthew where Jesus feeds the five thousand with just a few loaves of bread and fish. For that which didn’t seem possible, He made a way, but it wasn’t until the disciples took action and started giving that Jesus multiplied and provided. The image of the coy fish ultimately reminds me to trust deeply in his provision, live with open hands, and that sometimes you have to act even when the way are not clear.
5. Countryside runs
After running a half marathon, I swore I’d never run another. But here I am, six years later, training for a second. Early morning runs through the countryside on the outskirts of Beijing have become a part of my daily routine that provides space and quietness to help bring balance in times that are unsettling. There’s a subtle charm to the cornfields, sheep, and dirt roads that I find lovely in their own unpretentious way.
Meredith Boggs was lucky enough to be born in her favorite city, Nashville TN, where she worked as a critical care nurse until moving to China. She and her husband are currently helping to provide orphan children with the medical and surgical care they need, through an organization called Show Hope. She believes passionately that telling our stories is powerful because of the truth they testify to, the comfort they bring, and avenue by which we come to know others and are able to be known in return. You can read more on her blog or find her on twitter and instagram.
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