A Picnic In The Snow

 Empowering Extraordinary

A picnic is more than eating a meal, it is a pleasurable state of mind.”[su_spacer]

~ DeeDee Stovel

[su_dropcap style=”flat”]L[/su_dropcap]AST SUNDAY, we decided to go x-country skiing and being such a beautiful day, decided to bring along a picnic. Our two-hour drive took us up to a pristine, mountain gem at 10,000 feet. The snow was perfect and we enjoyed gliding along the trail with our “skinny skis,” meandering through the evergreens and breathing the fresh pine air while skiing up and down rolling terrain.

Racing back to the car, I could feel my hunger increase and the anticipation of setting up our picnic – the camp table, camp chairs, smoked mussels, a soft brie cheese, a baguette, Dijon mustard, and of course, some champagne as an added touch – made me so excited that I tried to ski even faster.

All was set up. As we sat down to our picnic, a man walked by and asked, “What’s the special occasion?” The words, “special occasion” hit me hard and for a moment, I was at a loss of what to say. I wondered why having a picnic required a special occasion? I Picnicwondered why taking the time to relax and enjoy the afternoon required a special occasion. While I contemplated these thoughts, I was reminded of a death threatening illness I had many years ago.

I was hospitalized for an unknown illness and what appeared to have no cure. Each morning, I rose early, expending all of my strength to get dressed hoping the doctor would tell me I was getting better and could go home. Instead of lying in the bed, I would sit in the windowsill, staring out the window, longing to breath in the fresh air, take a walk with my then 4-year old daughter, and just be in my own home again. However, each morning, the doctor would come in shaking his head and tell me the bad news. Seeing my disappointment, he said, “I’ll let you go home when your fever comes down from 105 to 101. We still don’t know what is wrong and are trying to find a way to help you.”

Days went by and I knew I was not getting any better. Finally, on the 8th day, as I sat in the windowsill, I decided I had to make a change. I had to take back charge of my life. I had to make a choice and empower myself rather than be under the control of the doctor and the hospital.

When the doctor came into the room that morning, he told me that I was still the same. This time, I was prepared. I told him, “You have done everything you can, and we both know that you cannot help me. Let me go home, I will either live or I will die. He agreed, and released me from the hospital.

Jim Rohn, a wise sage said,

You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.”[su_spacer]

From that experience in the hospital, I decided that each day was precious, a gift, and that I needed to be in charge of my life, rather than letting circumstances or situations be in control. I decided that I needed to get out of bed for myself rather than a job and really live each day. I decided that no doctor, no job, no organization was going to prevent me from thriving in life as, in the words again by Jim Rohn,

Days are expensive. When you spend a day you have one less day to spend. So make sure you spend each one wisely.”[su_spacer]

A common theme when I’m coaching my clients is how they describe a life out of balance. They wish they had more time to exercise or relax and often wish they had more time with their families and friends. Even when exercise is planned, it is fit in, and they rush from exercising to the next task, checking it off as another item taken care of in the day. I read that we now spend 30 hours a week checking emails and text messaging. Do we really not have enough time to enjoy life, take in the view, have lunch with a friend rather than sit at our desk and check emails?

Do we need a “special occasion” to sit, relax and enjoy life? What have we bought into when we repeat that famous quote by Jane Wagner, “Life is no picnic?” Have we adopted a belief that we cannot find enjoyment in each day? Wagner’s quote is almost always shortened, the entire quote reads:

Unless you are at a picnic, life is no picnic.”[su_spacer]

Another aspect of my coaching is challenging my clients on their beliefs, which shape their lives and can keep them stuck. Perhaps this quote is the root of a life being lived out of balance.

Working with my clients, I remind them how much power they actually do have especially when they become conscious of the choices they are making. Like that day in the hospital, I became conscious that I had a choice and exercised that choice. We are making choices whether we are conscious of them or not. If we do not become conscious, then as Jim Rohn stated:

If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”[su_spacer]

I was sad for the man who looked longingly at our picnic and had a belief that a special occasion was needed to sit and enjoy the day. My answer was simple, “No special occasion, just enjoying this beautiful day!” He looked perplexed, as my answer was not what he was expecting. Did I challenge a belief in him that day? We will never know, but I hope I challenged some of yours and that you will take time to enjoy a bit of each day.

I hope this article was encouraging to take charge of your life. Like if you were moved in some way and I invite and welcome all comments.

Melinda Fouts, Ph.D.
Melinda Fouts, Ph.D.
Melinda is a select Columnist & Featured Contributor for BIZCATALYST 360° and a Member of the Forbes Coaches Council (comprised of Top coaches offering insights on leadership development & careers). Prior to executive coaching and leadership development, Melinda has been in private practice as a psychotherapist for almost 20 years. She leverages her strengths and insights from her psychology background to help leaders and managers in transition through increased self-awareness. Owner and founder of Success Starts with You, is based upon the premise that you are already successful. Increasing self-awareness to increase emotional intelligence and unlocking blind spots are paramount to continued success. Melinda uses assessments to help bring more awareness. Whether you are a leader or manager in transition, need a thought partner, or need to improve your professional presence, Melinda has developed unique and innovative techniques from her background to help you reach higher heights. Melinda received her Ph.D. in Jungian Psychology from Saybrook University and her Masters in Psychology from Pacifica University. Melinda has worked as a consultant with executives and businesses for over 20 years. As a result of her experience and studies, she has developed a unique craft to fine-tune leadership development for peak performance. She lives in Colorado with her big, beautiful dog, Stryder.
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Lynn Forrester-Pitocco

Hello Melinda. New to this website I have managed to read a few posts and those I have I’ve throughly enjoyed and at the top of my list is the “Picnic”. I can relate to it in so many aspects of my life. Thank you, and you will remain always I prayer.


Melinda – 1st WOW! I am so thankful that you had the courage to take your health into your own realm of experience. About 15 years ago I was diagnosed with MS – My daughter had MS and her prognosis was that her MS was progressive. For me, three years later after numerous MRIs, my brain showed no more damage but my doctor said his diagnosis was sound. I had to accept it. Actually no, I told him. “I’m not having MS!” My daughter passed away from complications of MS after having it 16 years. I am still symptom free. I know it doesn’t work like that all the time, but in those cases where we can take control of our health, we can effect positive change.

I appreciated this article so much because I believe, as you do, that life is a celebration. We don’t need a special event to treat an event special. I applaud you for celebrating for no other reason than that you can.



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