February 6, 2017
It took me a few years to find the consistency in my writing. To identify the thread or theme that held true as the tapestry of my written work continued to evolve and change.
As much I love the principles and (certain) practices of homemaking, as much as I love homeschooling my children (truly this has been a journey of love and discovery for me, it is one of my passions and callings), as much I love exploring my personality and personal growth, as much as I love being outdoors, traveling and adventuring, etc. the consistency is not in those subjects.
Indeed, I have not been able to build a blog brand in any one of those areas, though they are big parts of my life experience and knowledge.
What I've learned through 12 years of blogging is that the consistency in my writing is not in a topic or genre per se, but in the place my writing grows out of, the zone from which I am inspired to write.
The place where my boundaries are expanding, which I've also described as the edge of my growth curve, is where I write. This zone is both the fertile ground that inspires my writing but is also an inexorable progression, like the leading edge of a hot lava flow, that continues to propel me forward.
This is somewhat problematic for building consistent blog content. Unless the the moving edge of experience is the consistency.
When something related to homeschooling is my dominant growth edge, you'll see that in my writing. And as I cross boundaries in my homeschool journey - the beginning of elementary, elementary to middle, middle to high school - I tend to be inspired to write from those discovery zones. Lots is being stirred up there. I see the same trend in my writing as I've progressed through growth zones in homemaking and adventurous family living.
For the past two years the edge of my growth zone has been deep personal discovery, healing, and a spiritual re-awakening.
The edges of homeschooling, the edges of adventure, the edges of self and faith, the consistent thread through these changes and experiences is that what I write comes from that growth zone.
And now I find myself at another edge.
I am not where I was one year ago, two years ago. I've lived in the same apartment for 20 months (our longest term of residence in the last six years) but I am not the same person I was when I moved here, the summer of 2015, haunted and hounded by anxiety and insecurity.
These two beasts are a recurring theme in my life and my writing but I feel that in the last two years I have turned around and faced them, full-on (in fear and trembling, it's anxiety after all), but I have faced them.
I have named them. I have called them out of the shadows in my relationships. I have identified "the good side" to these tendencies (light and dark, we're all both) and I have grieved the pain and misdirection they have brought into my life.
I have learned so very many things about myself as I've faced these demons. And I've written through some of what I've learned here on the blog. This season of deep self-awareness and a quest for healing has been the edge of my growth.
I haven't arrived. I'm not finished in that healing or in my understanding of self and Spirit. In many ways, I've just begun. I'm so thankful for what I've learned at this early-midlife point about myself and others; for the insight, knowledge, love, and compassion I now carry with me. But I have so much more to learn, so much more to grow. Always.
I feel a shift in the wind, a fresh breeze is blowing. This wind started as a gentle breeze sometime this past year. Not blowing all that much or all that often, but when it did, it was completely invigorating to me. (And just a wee bit baffling. Where is this coming from? Where is this going?)
The further I walked in my journey of personal growth and discovery, listening for my life to speak, the more this wind blew. And now I find myself, set to sail in a slightly different direction, under a new wind.
I thoroughly believe the intimate is the universal. Which is why I love memoirs so much. And why I have courage to write my own story and why I've shared everything I possibly can (with time and privacy constraints) about my journey in the last few years. But to write introspection and personal growth stories is not the "ends" for me. It's been the means for this last part of my journey, but it's not the ends. It's not my long term aim in being a writer. (I will always write introspection and personal growth stories but I want those to be one part of the picture, not the entirety.)
The wind that has been blowing is a dream and an ambition about the writing I want to do, the writer I want to be.
My ambition is to give expression and bring to the light in writing the meeting place of stories of the heart and ideas of the mind. I want to equip myself for this mission by continuing to live wholeheartedly (see Brene Brown's work for a definition of this), training my mind in good books and sound thinking, being actively engaged in ordinary and extraordinary life-changing experiences, and by wrestling with and writing through the intellectual ideas and heart-growth that those experiences teach me.
I want to be a great thinker and communicator because I have immersed myself in Great Ideas and have honed the art and craft of visual and written communication. I want to know so many more things than I currently know. I want my words to be read, shared, savored and be impactful in people's lives because they ring true, speaking to the universal human experience; because they are well written; and because what I write is what I strive to live; an Engaged Life of conscious, kind, examined, truth-seeking, disciplined, and loving actions, regardless of my circumstance or situation.
I have dreams around these ambitions but those dreams are too big to share, too vulnerable. Maybe someday I'll share them but maybe they will always stay private and simply be a guiding light on the journey. A light I may never reach but a light that, nonetheless, gets me further along the path. That's the real gift of a dream anyway. It gets you going in a direction.
I want to write from the place where ideas and engaged living overlap in my life. Where ideas are lived out and the living gives rise to the ideas. But this requires growth in a few areas, chief among them, a more rigorous intellectual discipline, so I can critically examine an Idea, vetting thoughts and experiences with a more robust lens. And I need to have courage as I lean into the opportunities for growth, many of which are hardships, failures, disappointments, set-backs, and misfortunes. This is the soil from which I want to excavate knowledge, truth, beauty and wisdom (I consider writing as my tool), as I engage myself in wholehearted living and loving.
This is where the wind is blowing, this is where I'm growing.
Photos in this post are from our Appalachian Trail thru-hike in 2014. If you want to read more about this journey and see more pictures, I am journalling that adventure at Outsideways. Also, our 24 episode video series of that journey is now available for free on You Tube. A new episode is released each week.
Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.
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