March 2019

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“Solitude is where I place my chaos to rest and awaken my inner piece.” – N. Rowe

Why Maine?

The stars.

The sunrises.

The sunsets.

The coast.

The clean air.

The quiet.

The Woods.

No billboards, noise.

Pristine Stillness.

To set the tone for a trip to Maine and planning a Self-Care Retreat, I will begin by reposting a link to a  think-piece piece I wrote during this time entitled, “Slack Tide.”


Like Yellowstone, Maine is one of the United State’s hidden gems. Acadia National Park, located in Maine provides maybe the most stunning sunrises in all of the United States (but you have to be up early to catch!) A few summers ago, our family had one of our favorite camping experiences in Acadia.

If you like open skies, fresh clean air, extremes in weather, lobster, art, woods, hiking, skiing, hunting, relaxing or communing with Mother Nature, Maine is the place for you!

“Take time to do what makes your soul happy.” -unknown


Driving from Portland to Friendship I saw NO supersize stores of any kind – none, zero, zilch! There must be a grocery store chain called “Shaws” because I saw several of them. For the most part, there are a lot of mom and pop type stores along the routes I traveled to my cottage. I also saw several pottery and art stores that were mostly closed this time of year.

The highways were well-maintained and when snow began to fall, they were on it! The back roads to the cottage were “good” but a little rough (I imagine due to the extreme weather/winters they experience.)

When choosing my rental vehicle for this drive, I rented a heavier vehicle with four-wheel drive- just in case of heavy snow and boy am glad I did! The photo below was snapped upon my arrival in the Trader Joe’s parking lot! That’s some serious snow for this North Carolinian!


Maine is the home to many writers, potters, painters and other artists. There is something about the space, cleanliness and pace of life up there that just inspires one to sit in their creativity.  The quiet and landscapes are the perfect backdrop for inspiration and thinking. Our American society can be audibly and visually noisy. Technology is a double-edged sword with the inability to disconnect sometimes always at your neck. Maine is respite care for the soul.

“Maine is a joy in the summer. But the soul of Maine is more apparent in the winter.” – P. Theroux


Why Maine in the winter?

It is a risky proposition planning a trip anywhere that can receive blizzard-type weather. When planning this trip add flexibility in your travels coming and going because it can dramatically change based on let’s say, oh, maybe, a blizzard! (And, can I just say if you get lucky enough to be stranded in Maine in a blizzard, I am WAY jealous, ok?)

The Airport: I came and went through the Portland International Jetway and it is seriously the cutest, smallest international airport, ever. Security was sweet. Who says that? “security was sweet…” You say that in Maine! It is super easy to navigate, and man can they handle snow. On my return flight I watched an arsenal of snowblowers, power snowblowers, de-icers and snowplows work like a well-orchestrated ballet keep the runways open.

Why alone?

Once again, I refer you to the post “Slack-Tide” where I describe a week in solitude.


When planning your personal retreat:

Be clear on the purpose of your time away.

Set your intentions and then let your planning flow from there.

I knew I wanted time to read (a lot), write (a lot), and rest. I knew I wanted to take time to create a masterplan for my schedule/routine/life when I returned home. I wanted to do this in solitude, in silence, and in a remote beautiful winter nature setting.


Think about what YOU need, what makes you refuel and get clear on that and allow your itinerary, location and plans stay true to those.

When I shared with some my plans to travel to Maine for a week alone, they asked “Why Maine? Can’t you just go a couple hours to the beach?” No, I can’t. For me, I wanted silence. The kind of silence you cannot achieve with the backdrop of the ocean waves, cars, planes, people walking on the beach, commercial scrawl. I wanted pristine silence, no people, no consumerism, silence. I was clear on my desires and this is one of the reasons Maine appealed to me.Screenshot_20190305-140102_Gallery

My dad said when he saw my post about my time in Maine he was worried I wasn’t ok. I find that funny. Why is time away alone confusing? I have three teen daughters, homeschool my children, live with my extended family and for now am the primary taxi to my kiddos. Like many, my output is great. A week away was exactly what I needed. However, that may not be your jam. The key is to ask yourself, what would fill you up? What does your soul need?


“You should sit in nature for 20 minutes a day…unless you’re busy, then you should sit for an hour.” -zen saying

The Food

On this trip, food was not a priority. I did not even order a pizza for delivery! (Honestly, I am not sure if you even could!) I would suggest stopping at a grocery store (there is a Trader Joe’s right off the freeway less than 5 minutes from airport) or google a larger grocery chain closer to your destination. I purchased all the food for the week (bought way too much! Not used to shopping and cooking for one!)

Preparing and eating food on a retreat by your self is awesome! You eat and cook when YOU feel like it. Here are some of the food items I purchased for my meals for a week in Maine.

Note: I’m lacto-ovo-vegetarian (fancy spancy for I eat eggs and dairy but nothing with a face.)


Two Buck Chuck red wine


Dark Chocolate Almonds and raisins

Tortilla chips

Cheesy popcorn – love that stuff.

Dr. Pepper (don’t judge)


oatmeal, chopped bananas/strawberries & brown sugar

Granola & Soy Milk

Eggs, orange sprinkle cheese, tortillas, vegetarian sausage patties for breakfast burritos


PB & J

Spring Mix Salad

“Euro” lunch – sliced cucumbers, fancy cheese (I love Gouda), apple slices, hummus, crackers

Tomato Soup



Spaghetti and Vegie Meatballs

Steamed Broccoli

Cheese Raviolis


The Costs

Flight – AA $225

Uber – $25

Airport food – $15

Car Rental/Gas – Dollar $175 Most car rental agencies will fill your gas tank when you return car at same price offered at pump! If so, take advantage of not having to add another stop to your travels.  When booking through an online booking service for rental cars, pay close attention to the ‘a.m.’ and ‘p.m.’ choice! We accidently chose 10p.m. for our rental pick-up time.  When we called to correct it to 10 a.m. (simple mistake, right?) we were told that this 12-hour mistake (a click of the mouse mistake) would cost us an additional $150! WHAT? When the entire rental for the week was $175. Watch your clicks carefully!

When selecting a vehicle to rent in Maine in winter think bigger, heavier and possibly four-wheel drive. Maine does an extremely top-notch job maintaining their roads but going for the cheapest or smallest car may not be the safest choice in this setting.

New cozy writing clothes (sweats, sweatshirts, socks, scarf) $100


For those of you who follow me on IG, you know I LOVE a heart in Nature! Hard to tell from photo, but this heart is a huge piece of stranded ice in the lobster pound at low tide, has to be 6 feet across!

Food/Toiletries  for week – $125

Fresh flowers for cottage – $10

Candles for cottage – $15

Cottage: $0 very gracious family members

Gifts for very gracious family members $150

The Packing

I wanted easy, light. One carry-on.

Things I forgot:

The under the seat suitcase will not fit under the window seat on smaller planes. If you are bringing only a carry-on, when selecting your seat, choose aisle or middle seat or pray there is room in overhead bins. Luckily, I had a cool row-mate who switched underneath storage with me.

Sunglasses! I forgot how bright snow is.


Binoculars or small telescope (the stars in Maine? Ka-chow! It is so dark you can see the Milky Way with you naked eye!)

Hiking boots. I forgot how badly I would want to walk in the woods in Maine. I could have worn them on the plane easily.

Other Rockonliving Tips learned on this Trip:

Traveling in the winter (March) in this area of the United States was a little tricky! The night before I left, I received a text my flight was already cancelled due to a winter storm warning and luckily, I was rebooked several hours later, on a new flight.

Many homeowners and summer rentals are not busy in the winter and you may be able to find some good deals/prices on renting a cottage this time of year.

Portland has a small airport that is easy to navigate.

Driving to Friendship, Maine took about 2 hours in the winter (normally about an hour and half drive.)

There is a plethora of stores right outside the airport you can purchase groceries and items you may need for your time away. I stopped at Trader Joe’s 10 minutes from the airport. Due to the winter storm warning I wanted to get all my groceries for the week as close to airport and highway-maintained roads. In the summer I love shopping at the local mom and pop general stores, but this didn’t feel wise in winter.

Talk to the locals. Maine folks are down-to-earth and easy to talk to and can give you a lot of insider, helpful information for your time visiting.

Try not to get too attached your itinerary as things (weather, illness, wildfires, war, etc.) can and will happen.

Be aware your flights, travel plans, ability to drive to your location, stores being open or closed may be impacted by extreme weather. For example, my drive to the airport from the cottage took almost double the time due to a snowstorm. Growing up in the North, I was confident to drive in the weather, but it was slow go. I left with extra cushion of time. My flight was delayed for a couple hours and then we were held on tarmac for almost two hours before take-off. Extreme turbulence did not allow for any drink/snack service so next time I will remember to pack a few snacks and a bottle of water just in case.

I packed uber light and did NOT pack the following: Toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion. I indulged in these items to be used for the week and then either tossed them or left for future house guest.

While I KNOW packing books take up a lot of room and can be heavy, I LOVE to hold a book and not a tablet. For that reason, I did bring a few books with me but wish I could have brought more. I think in the future, I will order books on Amazon and have sent to arrive when I get to my location. And, then unless I LOVE the book, leave for next guest.

Along that line, after you have considered where you are going and how much you wish to pack, consider sending things ahead or renting items you may need due to season.

Pack a portable charger. Always a good idea.

Logistics of your home life need to be in order weeks prior to leaving. This week away required the coordination of many, mostly my rockstar husband. Take the time before you leave to make sure carpools, appointments, schedules, deadlines, bills are all handled so your time away can leave logistics at home.

Screenshot your boarding pass. Much easier to locate and use when going through security and boarding airplane.

Unpacking from your Trip: (I recommend this for ALL trips large & small. The bigger the experience, the more unpacking that may be necessary) This unpacking is not just your suitcase, but your experience as well.

I came home on a late flight on a Sunday. Before I left, I declared Monday a “Teacher Workday” (we homeschool). This allowed me time to sleep in, unpack (literally), do laundry, check back in with my family, get up to speed on our life – calendar/bills/grocery shop, etc. and finish prepping our homeschool for the remainder of the week.

Unpacking, for me, allows one time to bring  the parts of your experience you wish to incorporate more into your daily life.

Unpacking the experience will also give you time to talk with your family! By sharing my experience and listening about how their week went we were able to do a reboot or – touch-in with one another! A proper unpack will also allow one to get to bed at a proper time (there was an hour shift ahead on my return) and reenter life more peacefully.

Your exit plans and reentry plans are just as essential to your planning as the trip itself!


Maine is beautiful, ya’ll. For real. I have traveled to many locations and there is no place in the United States like it.  We have traveled in Maine as a family in the summer and enjoyed time in Acadia National Park (amazing!) and at the cottage I am currently staying in, but this is the first time I have been up here in winter, alone. In one word, heaven.

I tend to recharge alone, in silence and love nature so this location is perfect.

This special edition of a Rockonliving Travel guide is for the person desiring some intentional time away to recharge, relax and practice a little Self-Care. I have shared my thoughts and created this guide with the intention of hopefully inspiring you to do a little planning and schedule some time to live your best life!

My trip may not be your thing, that’s not the point. What is universal, or at the core of this guide, is that time away or time doing things that fill up cup, are life-giving and allow for you to hear your heart are as essential as an adult as breathing. That is what I hope you take-away.

If you plan a personal retreat, I would love and totally want to hear from you or see some of your snaps!

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” A. Lamott

One tradition our family has is the “jump shot” photo! We always snap a picture of our family jumping on our adventures and when home, I print the image and place in frame for us to remember – memories are the best souvenirs.

Jump and Snap! 

Share with us your family jump shot!

All of us here at Rock on Living LOVE a good JUMP shot on location!

Insider’s tip: Video your jump! Don’t try to “catch” the jump. Once recorded, you can then use your pause and scroll option to find the perfect picture and screenshot that image to post!

Share your adventure with us and use the hashtag #slacktide #rockonlivingjumpshot and/or tag us @rockonliving and let us see you jump!

Happy Planning Friends!

Cheers to living your best life.

Rock on LIVING,


Things I thought Rocked (Think Oprah’s favorite things) – items or things I discovered, used on this trip that delighted me enough to buy, purchase, put on my Amazon wish list for home or to perhaps return to in the future. If you want to pick up any of these items, you can simply click on the underlined link and it will take you like magic to the item! Ever heard of an Amazon Affiliate? I have joined the program. Basically, if you want to purchase something I have posted with a link, if you click on the link it will take you to item. If you purchase the item, I get a small percentage of the sale with no extra cost to you! Our hope is to grow Rockonliving to spread the word of living your best life and thought we would try it out!

When I travel I love to bring things that delight me home – sometimes it is a ‘thing’ like a cappuccino machine (France), and sometimes is nontangible things like a commitment to not drinking coffee on the run or in a to-go cup (Italy). Here are my Maine Top Three picks!


“>Trader Joe’s Lavender Spa Lotion – picked this up for the week and was so sad to leave it at cottage! Will be scoping out our Trader Joe’s in Raleigh asap but is available on Amazon. Just click the link!

20190312_123834 “>The Over 45 Mirror! How did I not know this existed? Every human being over the age of 45 needs one! I’m not going to lie, it was S.C.A.R.Y. to see my face this close, but what was even scarier is what I didn’t know was there! SO helpful. It magnifies, lights up, folds, doesn’t fog, plugs in (no batteries!) moves and tilts. I ordered one in Maine to be delivered while I am gone. My husband doesn’t know it yet, but he will thank me.

20190307_081625We Took to the Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich. I brought a number of like self-help/growth kind of books – see list below and didn’t have room for a fiction book. I found this little book of awesomeness on the cottage book shelf.  The author and her family lived in the woods of Maine (close to where I was staying) in the 1940’s. Her writings are stories from her time there and I was moved many times by her application of wisdom from then to now. She makes observations about how the world was getting to connected and challenges to communication. She shared parenting advice more than applicable today and if you write, you will enjoy her musings on being an author. She has a charming humor with a Northern wit. I loved it. I bought several copies to send to some people I think will love her style of writing and the content as well.

Other Books Read on Retreat:


Open Heart by Elie Wiesel (2011). This was Mr. Wiesel’s final book before his passing (July 2016) where he shares his intimate feelings on ideas of life, relationship and ultimately mortality. A holocaust survivor, Wiesel writings are a testimony to resilience, finding meaning in despair and living one’s best life.
dare to lead

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. (2018). I have read other writings by this author and this one fell a little flat to me. I tried to apply most of this book to running our homeschool and it just wasn’t clicking with me. I am sure it is awesome for people in the professional arena and I was able to take a few things I could apply to my life straight away. Once again, I think because of the audience was not meant for me.


A New Earth: Awakening Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle (2005).  This is a book I feel must be slowly digested and although I didn’t finish it, I made a good dent in the material. I have never highlighted, notated in a book more. So much wisdom, perspective. I will read this one again. Eckhart presents our current state of affairs so well with reasons behind what we are seeing and what he sees as the balance or correction for it too. Guess who holds the key to turning everything around? Each one of us individually and collectively. Life changing book.


Secular Homeschooler Magazine. Picked It up after a friend published an article in it and loved it. A beautifully illustrated magazine with varied articles for all ages and stages of homeschooling.