An Iterative Process & Spring Breakthroughs

Damien and I move forward in our life goals through an iterative process. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it's geek speak for the cyclical process of refining an idea, with each refinement (or repetition) getting you closer to the desired goal.

What this means practically is that Damien and I revisit ideas again and again as we solve problems, make decisions, and move forward. It's sometimes messy (if you ask me) and it takes time.

I tend to be linear in my thinking (step one, step two... destination) and I find the iterative process painful sometimes. I will throw up my hands and say "didn't we already talk about this, can't we just move on!"

But honestly, having someone (in this case Damien) who thinks this way opens us up to some real creative living. I think this is one of the real gifts Damien brings to our partnership - his unique problem solving abilities and willingness to consider all ideas as we circle back to the drawing board of our life. My strengths complement his as we organize, manage, and implement those ideas.

This iterative process is part of how we came to our Spring Breakthrough. After a bunch of round and round discussion and ideas on pause we have some definite forward motion for the next couple months and plans in place for the next few years.

You may remember I greeted April with some apprehension and gnawing worry. I asked her to be kind. So far she's delivered.

Taxes did not decimate our already fragile bank account. We had lots of expenses last year we could count towards deductions. That helped. We've been breathing a huge sigh of relief over how that's all worked out. 

There is money back in the bank (temporarily) which allowed us to turn our attention to the future again, instead of just surviving the next week. On a recent hike we made some serious progress - breakthroughs really, in our plans for the next five years. Plans that include our housing, livelihood, and some hardcore adventure. Ideas we have been discussing, round and round for years but have been waiting for the right time to initiate.

These plans include a place to live after our winter term is up at our current chalet at the end of next month. We found another chalet to rent - bigger (which means we won't need our storage trailer and there is room for guests) and at the base of a ski hill (huge score for next winter and our anticipated ski guests).

But there was some round and round discussion and serious research we did on the Internet connectivity before we could commit. Oh, the joys of living so close to nature! You have to be prepared for certain inconveniences. Something our pampered city butts are not used to. In exchange we get a river, mountains, skiing, a renovated chalet, and deer. Lots of deer.

Speaking of city butts (forget the deer momentarily) we're off to a city for the month of June!

I'm keeping the destination a surprise for right now but it's in Quebec. We're renting a furnished apartment and are going to live city life - markets, bookstores(!), Thai food, and libraries - before we return to the woods. Excited doesn't quite communicate how we're feeling about this.

This is why we launched Life 3.0 and have worked so hard to be location independent with our livelihood. So we can go places! Both near and far.

So we can hike for six months of the year on a world famous trail. Oh yes, that's the other plan that we've now committed to. The one we've been talking about for years and years. I'm not quite prepared to spill the beans - which trail and when - as we have some bigger plans in store for sharing this news and chronicling that journey (a hopeful re-boot of ADVENTUREinPROGRESS in the near future).

Inspite of having this thru-hike on the family dreams radar for years, I'm still in a bit of shock that this is really on the horizon for me. If you knew me "back when", you'd understand. Hiker babe is not how anyone would have described me if they'd met me years ago.

One of my more personal spring breakthroughs has been to seek, wholeheartedly, the joy in my daily living. To appreciate the joy in the actual work of living.

I love making plans and looking with anticipation to the future but this present moment, right here, is where I need to live with contentment. Not in the "if and when" future. I've got a lot to learn in how to live this way.

To have a foot in the future, always moving forward (because we have some awesome plans), but to be content with the present.

And I need to remind myself, daily it seems, that today I'm living yesterday's plans and dreams. The things that become routine and mundane - paid writing deadlines, having Damien at home, being surrounded by the beauty of nature - I start to take for granted. I don't want to do that.

This seems like my constant life work - moving forward but living in the moment (which is already the past). My personal iterative process.

« More Spring Science (& Writing)
Babies, Birth Stories & Books (a link to Laurent's birth story) »
  • Nicole

    Nicole on April 25, 2012, 1:28 p.m.

    Wonderful, inspiring post, as usual! I love your thoughts on enjoying the present, as it is the living out of plans previously thought of and put into place. That is, IF we're being intentional. If we aren't, then the time just slips away with nothing to show for it. Thanks for the food for thought, again! :)


  • Kika

    Kika on April 25, 2012, 2:55 p.m.

    So fun... all your new plans moving forward. I would love to visit you one day... maybe not in the winter, though:) (although now that Katia has taken up snowboarding, she'd probably enjoy the ski hill).

    I really get it when you talk about remembering that TODAY you are living YESTERDAY'S dreams. And the importance of being able to look forward (dream/plan, etc.) but not lose the beauty of today in that process. I have recently realized that this is exactly what has happened to me although this past month I've been correcting my steps, so to speak. I am always forward-looking... and I think this is mostly helpful. But I absolutely can get too eager to jump into the next stage -or even with earlier years of homeschooling to PUSH my children into the next stage before they were ready.

    I have felt this strong impression (as a Christian I believe this is the voice of the Holy Spirit) telling me "you need to finish well." And I know this refers to my parenting and homeschooling. It is not ok to become distracted and pulled away from these primary responsiblities and joys which really were/are my biggest life dreams.

    I hope to give you a real-life hug one day, Renee, and thank you for sharing your life - heart - experiences with us all. While I am sure we could drive eachother crazy with some of our personality differences, I think we are kindred spirits. xoxo


  • Monica Selby

    Monica Selby on April 25, 2012, 3:27 p.m.

    Today we are living yesterday's dreams. Well, in my life, we're still working out what the dreams ARE, but this thought spoke to me anyway. We're in a hard season of parsing out immediate, mid-range, and long term goals/dreams, and they can all get so jumbled in my head sometimes. Posts like this give me hope that if we keep up the hard work of dreaming, we'll eventually make some progress. Thanks!


  • Erin

    Erin on April 25, 2012, 4:56 p.m.

    How exciting about the hike! A 6 month journey is sure to be amazing. What I've found is that once you pass about 1 month, you enter a whole different depth of experience that nothing else in the world can match. Careful, though - it's addictive!


  • Misti

    Misti on April 25, 2012, 5:49 p.m.

    I hope you are hiking what I think you are hiking! ;) I love to read about families doing long distance family comes to mind---and I can't find anything else about them other than in the Barefoot Sister's books---is The Family From the North. They hiked with a baby!!


  • Granola Girl

    Granola Girl on April 25, 2012, 7:05 p.m.

    That whole iterative process thing drives me a bit crazy too. I'm the linear one; Lee's iterative. I'm packing all our maildrop boxes and came across a book I thought I'd let you all know about. It's called, "The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times" by Pema Chodron. It's pretty rad. We bring it hiking a lot as it works really well to explain and create conversation with kids about difficult emotions. I'm glad your difficult times are working themselves out!


  • Kyce

    Kyce on April 25, 2012, 7:20 p.m.

    Tougas family 3.0 is my favorite reality show, ever. I love that you're giving yourselves some city time. Thanks for sharing about the iterative process--it clarifies some brainstorming I've been doing with friends about a juicy project. I'm so tempted to say, "there, we've figured it out!" but the truth is by revisiting it again and again, we do get closer to what we really want to create. Just like you said!


  • Kelly

    Kelly on April 26, 2012, 3:03 a.m.

    So inspring Renee! And I'm thrilled to see someone else use the iterative. My husband taught me the word. We have lots of iterative discussions in our house too. A beautiful process, though the process can be a bit frustrating. Faith in the process, that it leads to goodness. That's the beauty. So excited to hear about the next steps of your adventure.


  • Catherine Forest

    Catherine Forest on April 26, 2012, 4:18 a.m.

    Oh, Renee... this is such a great reminder! Today I am living yesterday's plans and dreams. Finding joy. So simple, but not easy. Why is that, I wonder? We have to catch each little pocket of joy when it is there, like little children catch soap bubbles...


  • Ethan

    Ethan on April 26, 2012, 12:58 p.m.


    I can't thank you enough for writing things like this! Every time one of your posts pings in my RSS feed I pause what I'm working on to read through your ideas. It's like a deep breath with my mind.

    I find myself saying (many times out loud), "that's gotta be the coolest family EVER!!" I appreciate how dedicated you, Damien and the kids are to the iterative process. Emily and I have conversations in this way a lot as well. We find it helpful to revisit ideas and confabs we've had in the past. Our process, much like yours it seems, helps us to refocus what often becomes blurred from the day-to-day distractions we call life. It allows us to come back to the present with a clearer vision of what's to come.

    Best Regards, Ethan


    • damien

      damien on April 29, 2012, 5:37 p.m.

      Ethan, if you and Emily are ever looking for a ski vacation destination... consider this your invitation to come stay with us at our new cabin. Maybe we can have another pizza, beer, and cards night for old-times sake...


  • Dad

    Dad on April 28, 2012, 11:19 a.m.

    Hiker Renee??? Just so the rest of your followers get the whole picture, to get you off the beach and out of the shops in Nelson BC to go for a 4-6 hour hike in the BEAUTIFUL meadows below Kootenay Glacier, I had to use very persuasive tactic, short of "your going with us" you have no options available to you. Then for about the same amount of time we had to listen to how nice the beaches were and the wonderful baked goods that Johnny's Bakery in Nelson provided. Yes Renee you have come along way babe. Seeing your amazing young hikers makes wonder if I should have started the hiker thing toting you up the trails in a Bjorne?

    I love Renee


  • Lori

    Lori on April 30, 2012, 11:41 a.m.

    I think I might know the trail, and if I'm right, we live somewhere near the start. You're all welcome to stay with us when you are ready to start (we have room inside, but also an almost year round tent pitched in our backyard). Maybe we could even join you in the hike to the "starting point" of the trail. My kids are 10, 7 and 7, and love an adventure.
    I love your blog Renee, and look forward to reading more about your adventures.


You can subscribe to comments on this article using this form.

If you have already commented on this article, you do not need to do this, as you were automatically subscribed.