At the beginning of this New Year

~ Winter ~

January 2013 started with all the optimism of a New Year. It was going to be a winter of skiing and working on my first e-course. It was all sketched out.

art at table

The skiing happened, and lots of it, which may have been the saving grace in an otherwise difficult winter. I took French lessons, exposing myself weekly to the insecurity I feel as a second language learner. (I am so used to being competent, it's hard when I'm not.)

Through physical discomfort and challenge (and again insecurity about my abilities and inabilities) I learned to telemark ski. The kids were homeschooled, more or less (maybe less), and my young adult learner grew into her scholarship phase.

skiing pin rouge

The e-course content still lies dormant on my computer, dribbling out in FIMBY posts, instead of coming together in the coherent "how-to do Freedom Education" way I had envisioned.

Sometimes the best I can do is the live the freedom and share glimpses of that here, hoping to light the spark for others, even when I long to do more, to come alongside in writing and coaching, and walk people through step by step.

kitchen sink

As winter tentatively gave way to spring, like a wounded animal seeking a safe burrow, I took a writing break. The well was empty. This coincided nicely, (ah, something that lined up!) with a planned upgrade for FIMBY.

~ Spring ~

April I was able to start fresh, or as close to it as possible (if you only knew all the little tweaks I still want to do on the blog).

easter bubbles

Spring came on in a rush, which my winter-weary soul was happy to surrender to.

With the help of a spontaneous trip to my parents for Easter, a daily commitment to exercise, and a few other tricks, I could look back on the winter with a small measure of appreciation for what I learned about myself and also some strategies for facing future winters (she says while sitting inches away from her beloved therapy light).

be happy

~ Summer ~

We ushered in summer with a road-trip, planned during the difficult days of late winter, visiting friends and doing "the kids are growing up" stuff with our brood - a Christian rock music festival and a visit to New York City.

spring pond study

But a question haunted me, as my friends whom we visited on that trip can attest to. "What now?"

I felt aimless in my work. Not the homeschooling, that track was laid down years ago and it's our family's lifestyle, routine and way of living. I wasn't uncertain there, though as the kids grow, we go through inevitable homeschooling growing pains.


The question was what now in my writing, teaching, encouraging, beauty seeking and sharing?

My winter plans didn't proceed as I had hoped. What should I invest my energies in now?

sitting over river

After a heart and gut wrenching "are we on the same team or not?" discussion with Damien, which was the climax conversation after a month or so of angst, I found peace.

Peace for FIMBY (write and publish whatever I want). And peace in my working relationship with Damien. He has vision, ideas, and doesn't mind marketing; I have managerial, communication, and supportive skills. We work together.

floating petite cascapedia river

Summer was restorative in a way that I think only Northerners truly understand. Trips to the beach, berry picking, camping, eating local farm produce, and long-light filled days refilled my well to overflowing.

I offered two free online webinars where relationship building and honest support were the focus, not numbers and "reach".  I started FIMBY Facebook and found a way to make it work for me and the choir. 


~ Fall ~

Fall proceeded quite tickity-boo, a highlight was Celine starting high school (we made it this far!) There were some scary bumps along the way which I didn't mention here. Having Youth Protective Services come to visit was one of those (checking up on the homeschooling). And more government bureaucracy was another.


I worked hard at keeping homeschool inpsiring and on schedule, there were some things I wanted us to accomplish before the AT took over our lives completely. We ran a circuit of cross country races and took another trip to Nova Scotia, this time to celebrate my parent's 60th birthdays and 40th wedding anniversary. Good times. 

hiking mt. xalibu

I wrote for Toe Salad. And you know that Kickstarter campaign? I wrote our video scripts (a first for me), I wrote most of what you see on our campaign page. I took photos, I weighed gear, I wrote about gear. (I'm now a bit of a gear head).

We got a new camera and I learned how to use it. I started to make connections with the companies and businesses who are supporting our hike (Damien still does most of that).

autumn leaves

I wrote content, content, and more content. I published two complete series on the blog and had long conversations in comments about homeschooling ideas and resources. I answered e-mails.

august sunset

I coached even though they weren't private, paid-for sessions. I did the thing I had hoped to accomplish with my e-course, just in a different manner.

I gave from the well and filled the well. I lived my mission to nourish, encourage, teach, build relationship and create beauty, investing first in my family and then others.

hugging daughter

~ Winter, Again ~

The New Year, and everything this year would bring, would niggle in the back of my mind but I put it off because really there's nothing I could do about living the New Year till it came.

And now it's here. Demanding my full attention. And I am again, at a crossroads. Mourning the loss of our fall groove, which though intense was doable and clear to me in both action and purpose.

winter path

The New Year's groove is not so clear. What needs to be done is very clear. How it's all going to come together, that part is a little muddy.

Maintain basic homeschool routines, market the heck out of our Kickstarter campaign, start the video series, finish preparations for the AT, pack up our house, do taxes, move all our worldly possessions to our next address.

I think I might be missing something in that list. Oh yes, go skiing every weekend, eat well, exercise regularly, and follow-through with a new dental and supplement routine (trying to heal some small cavities the kids have).

Seventy-seven days and counting.

I've been paralyzed with overwhelm. Unsure of what to write, unsure of how to proceed. Unsure of what it looks like to live through this season, never mind blog through it.

new christmas mugs

I've grabbed for the first things I could. Cleaning up Christmas. Sketching out the homeschool plan. Reading to the kids. Downloading audio and ebooks. Cleaning the fridge. Re-stocking the larder. Going for walks (in which I hash out problems with Damien). Homemaking. Homeschooling. Relationship tending. Things I know. Things that are familiar.

But I am going to have to wade deeper soon into more difficult territory. Territory where there is no mental muscle memory to fall back on. Where new track must be laid.

And those areas I've tread before but don't relish at all - preparing for taxes, packing, address changing (we're still dealing with bureaucracy from our previous moves!), etc. - I must walk there, now.

tamarack river

No wonder I feel like I can't dig deep into the writing well right now. Damien suggested instead that I skim the surface of the water, sharing a dipperful of my life on the blog, in steady scoops, instead of the buckets and buckets I was publishing last fall, deep ideas, thoroughly developed.

Why not share what it looks like to prepare for this great adventure?

Damien and I have envisioned, and are working towards a life lived in distinct seasons. Seasons of high adventure, followed by a fallow period (the staying put), followed by preparation for the next adventure.

This happens on a weekly cycle in our lives in Sunday ski trips to the mountains. It happens seasonally, the highest adventures usually happening during summer or over Christmas break. And there is the longer cycle, like our big move three years ago, and this big adventure now. Adventures that demand a restructuring of our lives.

Our goal, the thing we are investing our parenting, working and living energies into, is to go places and do things on a regular basis, as our work, our life, our homeschooling, not separate from it. It's a vision we have for integrated living.

I understand the cycle, what I'm wondering is how to write my way through it.

And right now, I'm wondering how exactly to live through these next two and half months.

It reminds me of three years ago, only vastly different.

This time around we're already working together, Damien doesn't go to an office anymore. This time the kids are able to do schoolwork quite independent of me. This time around household work, especially kitchen work, is shared much more amongst the five of us. This time I have a firmly entrenched writing practice in my life. So much is different and yet the question - how will this all come together? is exactly the same. 

woodstove coals

But it did come together then. And it will come together this time also. I believe it will be hard but I know it can be done. And for right now, that's all there is to write.

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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  • Jess

    Jess on Jan. 13, 2014, 1:29 p.m.

    I love the scoops. I have loves reading about how you are preparing your heart for the AT. Tht may be the most important preparation of all. 


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 14, 2014, 2:05 a.m.

      Thanks Jess. You know I'm not preparing my heart at all. My heart is growing, expanding (and somedays feeling crushed) just in getting ready. Ack! It all seems to be trial-by-fire!


  • Nana

    Nana on Jan. 13, 2014, 2:11 p.m.

    I'm near the end of an interesting book: The Traveler's Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success by Andy Andrews. It is written as a novel, with an inspiring and challenging approach for real life changes. The last of the seven decisions is I will persist without exception and I've added a couple quotes from this chapter:

    "I acknowledge that most people quit when exhaustion sets in. I am not 'most people'... Average people compare themselves with other people. That is why they are average. I compare myself to my potential... I see exhaustion as a precursor to victory."

    " In Jeremiah, my Creator declares, 'For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.' From this day forward, I will claim a faith in the certainty of my future....For me, faith will always be a sounder guide than reason because reason can only go so far - faith has no limits. I will expect miracles in my life because faith produces them every day. I believe in the future that I do not see. That is faith. And the reward of this faith is to see the future that I believed."

     There is work and there is exhaustion - and there are also miracles. Hold fast to faith.


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 14, 2014, 2:04 a.m.

      "I see exhaustion as a precursor to victory." Everything about this comment was so encouraging. Thank you mom. I was reading in Hebrews this am, about faith specifically. I am holding fast to faith. Love you.


  • Alaina

    Alaina on Jan. 13, 2014, 3:54 p.m.

    It will be interesting to see how it all comes together for you.  I know I've had similar thoughts about many parts of my life.  

    I'm curious as to what resource/book/ideas you are looking at for ideas on how to heal cavities.  Anything I've seen involved large amounts of animal based things.  

    I also wanted to add that I took your advice for record keeping homeschooling info.  I tweaked it a bit but that video you made on your binder systems etc. really was a help. Thanks!


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 14, 2014, 1:59 a.m.

      awesome (on the homeschool video help). Yes, I hope to write about our dental program one day, but I'm going to see if it's effective first. We are not taking the animal foods approach.


  • JenP

    JenP on Jan. 13, 2014, 5:17 p.m.

    This quote comes to mind: "It always seems impossible until it's done." This has proved true for me so many times. The hard part is believing it is true before it's done. 

    And as a reader, sometimes the small glimpses are more meaningful than the deep thoughts. That is to say, sometimes I'm thinking when reading about your struggles especially, "how is she continuing to homeschool and get dinner on the table while she's thinking about all THAT?!?" Does that make sense? 


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 14, 2014, 2:01 a.m.

      Yeah, I hear you. Getting dinner on the table and homeschooling are the easier parts of the puzzle. They are familiar to me and comforting in that way. 


  • Barb-Harmony Art Mom

    Barb-Harmony Art Mom on Jan. 14, 2014, 3:33 p.m.

    I agree that our lives are full of different sorts of seasons...each valuable in learning how to proceed to the next season. When you are in the midst of it, you rarely see the lessons being learned. I think women "feel" the seasons more deeply. Enjoyed reading your thoughts.


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