A day in the woods to process life

I have had much on my mind these days. The change of season from spring to summer and all that entails for family life, figuring out how to manage our small gardens in just a couple hours a week, the growing of my children (Celine turned eleven this weekend, e-leven!), my writing and blogging commitments, the challenges of feeding our family well everyday and how to direct the children's education as they grow.

Added to those household concerns are our plans for backpacking next weekend, camping for a full week in June and plans to hike the two highest mountains in New England this summer.

Needless to say I've a lot on my mind and haven't had much time to talk it all out with Damien. Life is, as they say, busy. But we need that time to connect. Damien is a good sound boarding and logical problem solver. Great for someone like myself often wrapped up in emotion and feeling.

Damien and I don't have date nights, we hike with our family and in doing so we have hours together of interrupted time, with no distractions. And the best part about it? I don't even have to style my hair or wear make-up.

Without this weekly time in the woods to sweat, to smell pine sap and balsam fir, to summit a mountain, to talk to my family and think about ways to initiate and sustain change I'm not sure how I'd find time to reflect and process in our busy lives.  

How do you make time to process life?

Damien recently wrote a great piece on exactly how we get our family out the door for our weekly hikes. This is not philosophical but very practical. We also have a new resource page called Family Outdoors, a compilation of all our family-friendly content at ADVENTUREinPROGRESS. And our favorite outdoorsy photos are posted at our photo blog in case you're needing some inspiration to enjoy the outdoors for yourself.

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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  • Kika

    Kika on May 24, 2010, 6:46 p.m.

    My husband and I take regular walks together, holding hands, and discussing whatever is going on in our lives at the moment. We try and sit down for coffee once/wk and talk about our upcoming week and just be together. I love it when we lay in bed, holding hands, talking together about life too. We don't schedule these times together into agendas, however, so they're not as regular perhaps as your weekend outings. And certain seasons (ex. the dead of winter) we're not likely to be out strolling arm in arm :) But all in all, I think we're pretty good about connecting. I actually think my husband is better than me, which I'm grateful for. I get so caught up in all the details of life, decisions to be made, feeding forever hungry children, etc. But he often reaches out to pull me away from that and gets us spending time on eachother.


    • renee

      renee on May 24, 2010, 11:43 p.m.

      I love that image of you holding hands with hubby in bed. I love married romance and deep abiding love, communication and respect.


  • Claudia

    Claudia on May 24, 2010, 7:20 p.m.

    Like you and your family, spending time outdoors is the most reliable way for us to reconnect and to have the opportunity to really be present. I've been so wrapped up lately in our new homeschooling adventure I've barely taken the time to remember what the rest of our lives look like. For the past several years we've lived in a constant state of relocating (and now wanting to move again)and the stress of not knowing how long we'll be living where we do can be all consuming and definitely stressful. I am looking forward to a summer of hiking, camping, and enjoying the beautiful area we currently call home, and in the process remembering the people we are outside of the daily stresses and jumble of life.


  • Juliana Crespo

    Juliana Crespo on May 25, 2010, 1:09 a.m.

    Jeremy and I haven't had any time alone since we had Luna close to nine months ago. But we do find time to process life in other ways, either as a family, or during breaks we give each other from taking care of Luna. Yoga and writing are saviors for me, while Jeremy relies on physical projects, like building things or gardening, to help him process things. We go on walks and hikes when we can with Luna in the backpack, which works marvelously. Even cooking, doing small projects, or going to Farmers' Market ... anything, really, where we can simply be and be in the moment ... work for us.

    We're hoping that when we move to NC, we'll have a lot more leisure time as well, time with which to build our home, reflect on nature and art, build community, and enjoy family.


  • Juliana Crespo

    Juliana Crespo on May 25, 2010, 1:13 a.m.

    Sorry, I typed in the wrong blog address. This one has the right one though!

    I did forget to add that we try to do a little something close to every day so that we don't become overwhelmed with work, parenting duties, and other demands! Otherwise, we become so caught up in it all, and we forget to breathe easy.


    • renee

      renee on May 25, 2010, 11:02 a.m.

      Good advice. Each day Damien and I do something we enjoy for ourselves (writing for me, physical exercise for him). But our weekend hikes are our time to connect all together and talk for long periods of time which I really enjoy.


  • Hillary

    Hillary on May 25, 2010, 2:10 a.m.

    We don't really have date nights. In fact my in-laws were just in town and we snuck away for an hour and yes it was nice, but it was almost pressure to have "that time". In the winter, we tend to have coffee hour in the kitchen mid-afternoon and in the warmer weather we find ourselves on the front porch. It's just those moments, you can't plan when everyone is happy and content for a moment. We really enjoy those.

    Also, we live downtown so we walk a lot. Those walks definitely create time for good conversations.


  • old recipe for a new world

    old recipe for a new world on May 25, 2010, 2:26 a.m.

    Our walks are the most important part of our day--the time when everything but the next step gets left behind. Like you, we go for a big hike on the weekends, but try to make a daily habit of walking out the front door and up the ridge for sunset or along the river a block away. Our worlds reconnect after a day apart, and the open land makes room for whatever needs to be said. Or not said, but felt.


  • nicola@which name?

    nicola@which name? on May 25, 2010, 1:52 p.m.

    I don't have an answer to this right now, really. It is a work in process as we work towards better balance. Mike's job has been a horrid strain on our family and we are working through how to change that now without being unemployed. We do family projects together often and we do do date nights. We never used to, but my mom comes to be here for the kids after they go to bed and we go out with gift certificates for discounted meals. Not super frugal, but it is good for us right now. Love your photos and imagery and empathize with the busy life status. Nicola


    • renee

      renee on May 25, 2010, 3:54 p.m.

      If I had a mother or mil to come and watch kids we'd go out on real dates more often, I'm sure of that. Frugal or not. I love eating out with my husband.

      Our kids no longer go to bed earlier than us, Celine is often going to bed at the same time so our quiet time after the kids go to bed is slowly becoming no more, which is why sometimes it's harder to touch base with each other.


  • Michele

    Michele on May 25, 2010, 7:16 p.m.

    My life processing time comes at night. I'm a nature girl living in the city and late at night is the only time when the hustle and bustle of the day calms down. I find it so strange that my thoughts are not as clear during the day...I think it's due to the surrounding active energy. My heart is used to quiet days and no traffic (:

    Nature is the tranquility that speaks to my heart, but even my daily hikes with the pups in the morning and eve to a lovely woodsy spot near home doesn't offer the same ease of pace that the late hours can give. It seems to be the magic time for me (:


  • Debbie

    Debbie on May 26, 2010, 1:26 a.m.

    What a thoughtful post. How do we process life? Hmmm...well, I guess at the moment it is after Isaac goes to bed. He is close to four and is asleep by 7pm giving us the evening to connect. But even in the evenings we have our own things we want to do; reading and writing and whatnot for me, and Fred really enjoys de-stressing by playing video games. But our spaces are set up so we are in the same room...right next to each other. This way, when something comes up that needs to be shared or discussed, we can do it right then. Even if we aren't talking...I like that we are in close proximity. I feel connected. On weekends we do EVERYTHING together. Our evenings are the same as our weekday eveings, but our days are full of family stuff and in this way we all build our life and process it together. We don't do date nights very often...only if a cool concert comes to town - but when we do, it's always really nice to get out and experience our life as a couple in love.


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