My Outdoor Bedroom: Thoughts on Living Weird. Happy and Weird.

I used to think I didn’t like the outside. I’m not a long-haul backpacker like my most outdoorsy Oregonian friends. I don’t enjoy endurance hikes, forced-march style. I don’t even go on leisurely grandma walks around the block. But once I was able to tackle outside on my terms — biking in the sunshine, kayaking because I get to sit on my ass in the water, and hiking where hiking means sauntering through the woods and meandering up mountains rather than tight timelines and a race to the top — I was IN. All the way in. Mud in my toes, scrambling over boulders, bugs in my bed, IN.

I started sleeping outside this week, but not in a sleeping bag on a hard pad on the ground. Nope; I started sleeping outside, but in a real bed with sheets, soft pillows, and a ragged, faded plaid down comforter I bought for my first apartment 26 years ago.

{Psst… Greg and I made out on that comforter a lot.}

It’s pretty close to heaven on earth, and it’s 100% Outside My Way.

Greg only grumbled a little when I pestered him for days and days to pull the old iron bedframe from the storage loft, and I went ahead and ignored his eye-rolling while I stole the nightstands back from our Goodwill pile. I mean, I don’t want to brag too much, but I’m really good at ignoring eye-rolling now. Also, sighing. Also-also, the slow shaking of Greg’s head side to side in weary disappointment. I can ignore it ALL.

See, Greg is of the opinion that one bedroom inside a house with things like Protection from Inclement Weather and Temperature Control — Not Very Many Giant Fuzzy Spiders and Zero Raccoons with Razor Blade Teeth and Beady Little Demon Eyes Peering from the Blackberry Bushes — is plenty of bedrooom for me. Greg thinks I don’t need a second, outdoor bedroom. Greg thinks, if I’m going to invest time in a house project, maybe I should finish painting the hallway — or the other 47 things I’ve started — instead of creating a redundant living space in the backyard.

Poor Greg. Bless his heart. And we can pray for him. <– This is our Greg Liturgy. Amen.

As for me, I’m certain this is the Best Idea Ever.

I’ve been fighting Depression again lately. It’s been a rough couple of months. I think. Maybe a rough couple of years? I don’t know. That’s one of the symptoms of mental illness, really; the Not Knowing. The trying to decide if this is Normal or Unhealthy. Is this a Phase or Do I Need Help? So I’ve been fighting Depression again lately; I just don’t know what “lately” really means. I’m bobbing up and down in Ocean of the Unknown. Getting hit by waves of Anger and Hurt and Worry and Blah. Finding myself underwater. Pushing again to the surface. Suspecting this is just part of what it means to be human in all its complexity. Suspecting this is just circumstantial and easily explained. Suspecting none of that’s right at all.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Mental health is a giant jigsaw puzzle, after all, except we only have some of the pieces. The rest we have to go on a scavenger hunt to find with murky clues. We never find them all. And so I manage my mental illness a lot of ways. Partly through medication which saved my life. Partly through pursuing Joy these days instead of the Approval of Others which has made this life richer and fuller and weirder than ever.

So I keep doing Weird Shit that makes me happy instead of Normal Shit in its tightly controlled box of Acceptable Behavior. These days, I’m spending my time building fairy houses out of wall holes. And making my bed outside.


I feel like I just keep leveling up on Weird. Things that make No Sense to others, I’m pursuing anyway, and I’m finding Joy there. It turns out making my bed where the dirt gets in is a piece of the puzzle — the piece that looks like watching the stars before I fall asleep and hearing the wind in the cherry trees and waving at you, always waving, in the dark.

With love, friends, from this little piece of earth,





P.S. I want you to know, so I get credit, I ironed the stained bed skirt before stacking the mattresses, which was wasted effort entirely since it’s all covered now by the wrinkled comforter. I suppose I could have ironed the comforter, as well, but I’d already ironed one whole thing and felt there was no need to go to ironing extremes. Besides, now the ironed bed skirt is symbolic of all the work we do that never sees the light of day. And it’s also symbolic of my guiding principle which is that Half Assed Is Good Enough. After all, mathematical integers prove that anything more than zero is in an infinite percentage more than nothing; since I ironed something, that is infinitely more than ironing nothing. INFINITELY MORE. And infinity is a LOT, you guys. A TON.

P.P.S. This is my view right now.


P.P.P.S. Good night.

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21 responses to “My Outdoor Bedroom: Thoughts on Living Weird. Happy and Weird.”

  1. Once upon a time, I made my bed where the dirt got in. *sigh*
    I love your wiggly perfect tightrope balance. And who is the “Weird” Master anyway? I’ve never met him & believe wholeheartedly that he is make-believe – much like those phony lies inside our heads telling us we’ve only just meandered here without purpose or intention – when in fact, we’ve actually been tenatiously journeying through our discovery of the secret fairy hole into Imagination Heaven through years & years of conquered mind-battles & ignored nay-sayers. We know something the rest of them do not. When it comes to the woven tapestries of life – we ARE the magic. Even the wrinkly frayed bits. Especially the wrinkly frayed bits. Those are the most magical of all.

  2. It’s beautiful. Ray Bradbury (and I) did not find your instinct strange at all. “But the full moon soothes all sick animal, be they human or plain field beast. There is a serenity of color, a quietude of touch, a sweet sculpturing of mind and body in full moonlight.” – _A Medicine for Melancholy_ . . . Wishing you sweet dreams and healing . . .

  3. I am way too uptight and prissy for this. This post messed with my OCD badly. Not that I wouldn’t love to sleep outside-I would absolutely love to. On an enclosed, secure screened in porch, free from moths, spiders, stink bugs, chipmunks, and raccoons with razor sharp teeth.

  4. I LOVE this! Years ago, when I lived in a downtown loft in Portland (Maine), I would drag one of those weird foam chairs that unfolded and made a bed out onto my tiny little back deck to sleep in the summer. It was amazing and even waking up one morning with a spider bite on one eye did not take away from how wonderful it was.

    Every summer I fantasize about doing something like this. Here in northern Utah were we live, even when it’s quite hot during the day, it cools off a lot at night. Usually when we go to bed it will be delightful out on the deck, but not enough “airflow” to get that lovely air into the bedroom. I want to put some kind of bed (probably with mosquito netting, just in case) out there. You’ve inspired me to think about it some more.

    I also want to say that the way you write about your fight with depression, I think, really *speaks to* a lot of people and helps them feel less alone in their own struggle. I am lucky not to struggle with depression myself, but have lived with others where the fight is so very real. I am always moved by your words.

    • The plan for rain is to bring the bedding inside and put tarps over the furniture. Greg believes this plan is flawed because our tarps are small and torn. Greg is a pessimist.

  5. I use to struggle with depression. I get that. The fight to get over it, the fear you’ll never come out. I started doing EMDR therapy, and now the depression is gone. I feel good. When I’m sad, mad, whatever I know where it comes from, why, and it goes away. 🙂

    Wheen I look at your outdoor bed all I can think is, that is going to be a mad scramble when it starts raining in 10 minutes, while the other half of my brain thinks: I SHOULD TOTALLY DO THAT!

  6. Beth,
    It looks like a magical setting from a magazine-beautiful! I sometimes sleep out on the screened porch and I love it, I can’t see the stars, but on a moonlit night, it’s fantastic! But my logistics seem easier (none of the insane amount of mosquitoes and dry). I’m beyond curious about how you handle these factors.
    Happy start sleeping!

    P.S. You have such a way with words…always! The way you spoke about, with depression, how hard it is to pinpoint “lately” and the regular self-assessment, deciding between “normal and unhealthy” . So true! I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m feeling optimistic because it’s stage 1 & caught early. I’ll be ok after chemo (first one yesterday), surgery, radiation and hormone blocking therapy (which will throw me into menopause). It will take the better part of 9 months to get through and years of hormones, but I’m feeling ok…and I keep wondering if I’m suppressing something…the “is this normal?” self assessment keeps playing out. I’m signed up to work with the cancer centers’ therapist “in case” I fall.
    Beth, it’s always so nice to hear others function day to day, seem positive and optimistic and creative, and have “messy house” issues and a many started and unfinished projects; but there’s more others don’t see. And I appreciate you sharing you!

    • I’m using a mosquito net at night, and we’re having a lovely dry stretch in our corner of Oregon.

      Sending you TONS OF LOVE as you tackle breast cancer. x’s and o’s, friend.

  7. That is gorgeous. It deserves a photo in an outdoor decorating magazine. One of my favorite memories is of sleeping under the stars and watching the Milky Way. Is it sad that I did a quick weather check to make sure you wouldn’t get rained on? My first reaction was, “this is Oregon!” followed by, “oh yeah, it’s hot out!” Don’t forget to acknowledge the grief you may be feeling, too, from various things. What come to mind from your writing is church. Take care of that piece of your heart and don’t let people tell you that you shouldn’t be feeling it.

  8. I would exsanguinate and DIE because I am so damn delicious to mosquitoes, biting flies, and other things. But power to you, because it sounds lovely if you’re not as edible as I am.

    • The mosquito net I’ve rigged is so far working beautifully! No bites. (Knocking on wood.) Although, honestly, I’m letting concerned about being bitten than I am about being able to read in bed without the gnats and moths attacking my book light. Because priorities. 😉

  9. I love this a lot. Like want to do it. What do you do with it if it’s supposed to rain? Take off the mattress and comforter but leave the furniture? Move all of it? Leave all of it?

    Ps great to see you at gregg’s party!

    • OK so I told Ben I wanted to do this and actually started researching a wall tent like at the ranch that Meghan mentioned in the comments… AND my husband this morning told me he HAD A DREAM about it and actually thinks it would be fun and so today we started PLANNING HOW TO BUILD THE PLATFORM FOR IT WHATTT.

      So hurray.

      THANKS for the inspiration!!!!!!

  10. Are you sure we aren’t related? I feel like we would really get each other. For all my dear sisters in arms dreaming of this but worried they will look funny covered in mosquito bites I provide you with this link. Not to be honest I wouldn’t pay for this. I’d rig it up out of leftovers and scraps. But still a bit of heaven in the outside.

    Ps today I “redecorated” my art space by stealing the rug from the front hall and the rolling chair from my husbands home office. It’s making me very happy. He may feel,differently when he gets home from the convention. But I am also very good at ignoring eye rolls.

  11. I want one of those clear bubble deals that you can put a small bedroom in out back. Because I LOVE the idea, but Mississippi summers=every bug from the bowels of hell, everywhere outside 🙂

  12. It looks perfectly delightful!! Love the white bed frame and the bedding , especially the plaid quilt!
    I wouldn’t sleep there because bugs…. and potentially rodents or frogs…
    BUT I would love to lounge out there during the day to Read, drink tea and eat cookies, or Coke and chips!

  13. I have always thought that a proper outside bed would be the height of luxury. Growing up, I slept out back on a chaise lounge whenever it got hot. I am JEALOUS of your lovely blue bed.

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