Change ~ Being Rooted ~ Personal Growth

People write about change all the time. Change is as central to the human story as love, transformation, belonging, redemption, loss, and forgiveness.

Change is the way of it. Ecological change, large scale economic change, relational change. And yet we seem to fight it at every turn. And most of our angst as humans comes in the fight. We long for the way things were, nostalgic for the mythic "golden age" of our personal or cultural history.

I am a person who doesn't particularly welcome change in my life.

Those people who only know me as the nearly 38 year old mother willing to pull up roots for the sake of freedom, move around for the sake of experience, and hike the AT with her family for the sake of adventure would not recognize the child and young adult I was - very resistant to change. Change of plans, change of schedule, all of it was met with resistance. My Dad still loves to tell the stories of my stubbornness in the face of change and I laugh, with compassion, at my younger self.

And I wonder then, how is it that I find myself drawn to new ideas and new ways of living that necessarily require change?

Damien is definitely a big part of that. When we became one I had to open myself to change as much as he had to open himself to structure. He credits my tight handle on the finances for enabling us to live the life we do as much as I credit his vision and glass half full optimism for moving us forward in spite of my resistance.

At this point in my life, having "studied" myself for the past ten years or so, becoming quite self-aware, I have a little bit of an addiction to personal growth. You might call me a personal growth junkie. I still fight against change that brings the growth, almost every time, but the end result is worth it.

I read a great blog post recently by the intrepid world traveller and mother of six, Rachel Denning, on the subject of personal growth and change, specifically as related to adventurous travel. Change is uncomfortable, but like she says, "if you're comfortable you're not growing".

The more I open myself to change (sometimes still very hesitantly) the stronger I become. I also become more resilient, more compassionate, more in-the-moment, more willing to step outside of my comfort zone, more fulfilled, more on-fire and more energized for living.

I love feeling this way as I approach my 4th decade of living. On the flip side, I don't love the uncomfortable places and spaces of personal growth.

Right now I'm reading, amongst other things, Katrina Kenison's Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment. Two years ago I read her book The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother's Memoir while getting ready for our big move.

Kenison's books speak to many of my life experiences and personal transformations and growth. Her wisdom comes out of changes in her own life and losses beyond her control.

I identify with much of what she writes about, even though our life circumstances are different, but one thing I've questioned from her recent book is this thought:

...if people can be divided between those who itch to travel widely and see much, and those who prefer to stay put, sink their roots, and go deep, I am definitely in the latter camp, a root sinker by nature, happiest puttering in the garden, chopping vegetables in the kitchen, or curled up in an armchair with a book in my hands. Home is the only place I've ever wanted to be; the good life was always the one we created right here, under our own roof.

What if people can't be divided into two groups so easily? What if, like me, you're both? Starting off as one and changing, slowly, to explore both the wandering itch and root sinking aspects of your inner self.

What then? Are those of us who find ourselves straddling both realities consigned to some kind of limbo? Where do we belong? Does it have to be one or the other?

I'm not saying I'm a toad, I just like this photo

I say no. It doesn't have to be this or that, it can be both.

I have chosen, in the circumstances of my life and marriage, to make family life my home, and my faith the rich loam where I sink my roots, my place of belonging.

Wherever I am with my family is home. And when our kids are grown, wherever Damien and I are together - that will be home. And without him, well, that is beyond imagining for me.

Of course there are places Damien and I prefer to "make home" - mountains and woods in some seasons, thriving urban environments in other seasons (though natural places are where we feel most alive and whole).

When the magazine Taproot first came out a friend asked if I had read it, she said it reminded her of our life, which she describes as "deeply rooted". I hadn't read it. The magazine is not easily accessible where I live and I'm not interested in a subscription to something that seems to be about homestead gardens, chicken coops, and knitting.

I found it interesting that my friend would think of me in the context of that magazine, since our life direction and vision seems quite different than the Taproot vision.

We are in a season of adventure and have been asking the question "what is our life purpose and life work beyond raising our family? beyond putting down roots?"

This is a life season of movement, literally and figuratively. Moving from one country to another, from steady employment to self employment. Moving through childhood into young adulthood. Moving from one temporary house to another, and then another (to stay debt-free and live below our means allowing us the freedom we want at this stage to go and do.)

Taproot, it seems to me, is a magazine about putting down roots, as the name suggests. My own life seems less and less about permanence to a place and more and more about "where now God?"

This reality, or how I see our reality (the two may not be the same!) is not some easy, go-with-the-flow magic carpet ride for me.

Feeling rooted independent of place hasn't come without struggle and yes, sadness.

I grew up in one town and spent my junior high and high school years in a home just blocks from my school. I went to University 45 minutes away from that town and came home every weekend, to the comfort of home and family. (Dorm life was not even an option as far as I was concerned).

When Damien and I decided to marry I finished my schooling as a part time student so I could also do the homemaking gig. I have been a homemaker from the time I was barely out of adolescence.

In our early marriage and family life years I thought I was rooted in home and place but now I think what I've actually been rooted in is relationship, first to my family of origin, then to my faith, and then to Damien and my kids. This rootedness is what holds me fast, not where I live or what language the locals speak, or if I raise chickens or not.

Being an adventurer is my husband's lifeblood. I was blissfully unaware of this for the first few years of courting and marriage, while my own dreams were for a white picket fence in an urban neighborhood. As it was, this was the dream we worked towards at that time.

When that dream didn't satisfy, because Damien was not happy to be confined to the cubicle work that supported that dream and I too itched for something else beyond domestic comfort, we hesitantly at first, and then with our whole selves and family life, followed the call to go places and do things.

My 22 year old self, the one who wanted nothing more than to have a larger apartment to welcome our first born child into and who dreamed of the house we'd one day own, in the city, asks my nearly 38 year old self "how the heck did this happen?"

How did I become a woman who would consider living in a tent for six months? And who regularly tosses out "let's travel in an RV for a while" and who is excited at her oldest daughter's developing love for Japan which may include a solo visit one day.

I've had a hard time finding my tribe in this regard. The adventurous homemaker/homebody group. Where do they hang out? Where do they blog? Are you one of them? What magazines do they write?

Change is something I used to fear, and I still do in many regards. But I've realized it's not change so much but the loss, that often accompanies change, which I fear.

I don't think we ever get to move forward without a loss of some kind.

I fear losing parts of myself in thru-hiking the AT. I feel I have already lost parts of myself in simply committing to the project.

I have wondered more times that I can even recall, "how on earth did I get the place in my life where I would even agree to do this?"

But the truth is that I have lost parts of my self at every significant life junction. Marriage - there goes the ability to steer my own ship independent of someone else. Motherhood - there goes my sleep and a huge chunk of selfishness. Emigrating (almost) - there goes nationalism to be replaced with an view of myself as a world citizen and member of the human family.

Personal growth requires periods of discomfort, loss, and insecurity. Discomfort, loss, and insecurity will find us wherever we are. And most people build a life to insulate themselves from these hardships. I know I have.

What freaks me out about hiking the AT is not the snakes, bears, or even Lyme disease. What freaks me out is that by saying yes to this adventure, I'm inviting intense personal growth into my life (perhaps facilitated by snakes, bears and Lyme disease). The kind of intense growth which comes out of discomfort, loss, and insecurity.

(Just to be clear, I don't see the trail as all hardship, suffering, and scary experience.)

I am certain that thru-hiking will change my perspective on the world, change some of my beliefs, and definitely change particular patterns of thought and action. I will lose parts of myself, parts I've held onto for years thinking they are important.

And who will I be when I am no longer able to hold on to old and ill-fitting identities, values, and beliefs? The unknown of the different me I will become is scary.

I didn't think I was the person who would invite this into my life. The person who says yes to situations that are guaranteed to be uncomfortable. The person who says yes to an incredible amount of hard work and preparation that feels beyond my abilities. The person who says yes to basically being homeless for a period of time. And yet here I am, saying yes.

And if I'm willing to say yes to this, where will it end? If I break through this boundary does this mean I won't be able to hold up boundaries in the future and say, "this far, but no further".

And there is it. The core of it all. My fear of losing control.

Opening myself up to this adventure and thriving while doing it, not just surviving, is dependent on me surrendering. Surrendering misplaced values (the importance I place on financial security), surrendering the control I try to exert over my circumstances and outcomes, surrendering my rights... to plentiful food, bodily comfort, and predictable patterns.

What if many "things" I've held onto as security and comfort - routines, beliefs, possessions - turn out to be just optional? What if the things we think we need to be rooted, healthy, and happy are just things in the end, and what really matters is much deeper and harder to cultivate than a garden on a piece of property we call a "homestead"?

I fear I will no longer be able to say to God, my loved ones, or myself "but I need this", when in fact it's not a need, just a want. And that need may be a warm sleep, money in the bank, or a full belly. I want to claim those as needs so I can fight for them and feel entitled to them.

(Truthfully, I want to be a wee bit high maintenance. Where people fawn over my wants just a little.)

I fear I will no longer be able to say "I'm weak" as an excuse to get out of something God calls me to do. Instead I will know how very strong I am, in body, soul, and spirit.

I fear I will come home and look at all our possessions with perhaps a measure of disgust and disdain. I fear I will see things for what they are, just things; I will become that much less concerned with the owning and possessing of them.

Once God has stripped away my false beliefs, and I have stepped over broken boundaries (the boundaries I've set up in my life), who knows where the journey will go? How far will saying yes to this adventure take me?

Jesus tells us "whoever loses his life will find it". Sounds so cryptic. It's really not. When you lose what you think is your identity, your mooring, your purpose even, you have the chance to discover who you really are.

I fear that my whole perspective and the way I move forward in the world will be be forever changed.

And that's why I want to do it. The very things I fear about this journey are my reasons for going.

Someone asked me recently, about our AT adventure, what I was most afraid of, to which I replied, "the changes that will take place in me".

Then they asked what I was most excited about, to which I replied, "the changes that will take place in me".

And I ask myself, "Renee, are you ready for this level of personal change and growth?" And I can say honestly, no I'm not. But no one ever is.

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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  • Mel

    Mel on Oct. 29, 2013, 12:48 p.m.

    I don't think you are nearly as alone or as different as you think you are :) I have chickens and knit, but also travel internationally once or twice a year (trekking in Peru last spring and heading to Churchill Manitoba this week to work on polar bear stuff). I love being able to make a home, curl up with a book, homeschool my kids, and also take family road trips, backpack with my son, and plan adventures, I don't think there is any reason to pidgeonhole oneself as "adventurous" or "homemmaker." We all have many facets to who we are, it makes sense that our lives would be multi-faceted, too. Hang in there, you can be both!


    • renee

      renee on Oct. 29, 2013, 1:39 p.m.

      I agree. I don't want to pigeonhole myself as either one or the other but I feel shifts happening under the surface of my identity and I'm trying to find expression for that. 

      Also, this is not a "woes me I feel different" post. I've been there before and have dwelled in that space for periods of time but this is not one of those times. So I feel a bit disappointed that I may be communicating that. Writing is such hard work sometimes. 

      There is a lot more to this post than the question where do I fit? Obviously the undercurrent of that question is in this post but that's not the main expression here (yeesh, having to explain the main point of a post seems embarrassing, from a writerly perspective). 

      What I'm really wrestling with is an overall life change and evolution of self, and also the trepidation I feel going into what I know will be a life altering experience. 

      I don't feel lonely. I feel at the edge of another level of growth and experience. I also want to question out loud the idea that rootedness is fixed to place and a certain style of living, namely the modern North American homesteading movement. This is not a criticism, just to be clear. 

      I'm also not a solo adventurer and this post wrestles with the merging of homebody tendencies with an adventurous spirited life partner, a theme I've blogged about before (smile). I've changed since I was young but I still can't imagine doing trips on my own etc. And many of the "adventure women" books I've read are by women who are hardcore like that. And I don't fit there. Again, that question of fit.

      Anyway, I appreciate your comment and perspective Mel. And thank you for your encouragement that I can be both (and more than) adventurer and homemaker.


      • renee

        renee on Oct. 29, 2013, 2:02 p.m.

        Mel, I realize after writing this comment that you may have been simply answering he questions I asked midway through this post:

        "What if people can't be divided into two groups so easily? What if, like me, you're both?

        What then? Are those of us who find ourselves straddling both realities consigned to some kind of limbo? Where do we belong? Does it have to be one or the other?"

        You were affirming that it doesn't have to be one or the other, and I read your comment more like, "renee is feeling all weird and different". Sorry if I misunderstood or misinterrpreted. 

        I have been trying in my thought life to focus on the values I share with people (as a way of connecting with and appreciating other ways of living) vs. the ways I feel different. So I read your comment through this lens. 

        Sorry if this isn't making sense. Basically, I appreciate you sharing here and sorry if I misunderstood your comment (smile).


  • Misti

    Misti on Oct. 29, 2013, 1:25 p.m.

    I love Taproot magazine, subscribing before it began publishing. I'm not a homesteader, just have a simple garden, but I can relate despite all of the homesteady-ness within. Of course, I'm also in a part of my life where I'm not wandering now, despite my ache to do so. 

    You can be rooted into home on the AT. It is life, just a different form. There will be your family of course, but you'll likely gain a few other new friends who you might consider family in a differnet way by the time you are through. And you do lose yourself, but you gain another part of yourself in it too. 


    • renee

      renee on Oct. 29, 2013, 1:43 p.m.

      "And you do lose yourself, but you gain another part of yourself in it too." Exactly! That is what I am very excited about. (In case you're concerned I'm all doom and gloom, I'm absolutely not! I'm very excited about our hike, and scared.)


  • Jess

    Jess on Oct. 29, 2013, 2:06 p.m.

    I am an adventurous homemaker/homebody :D It is hard to "find our tribe", isn't it. I have felt more confidence in myself and my values and how I'm rooted, since I have found your blog. My husband is an ISFJ and I am an ENFP, I understand the giving and growing that takes place when you marry someone so different than you. We are just entering a stage in which he feels more comfortable letting go of his needs (that I have seen for years as only wants), and I am beggining to get more insight into how he works and I appreciate it more than I ever have. Our dreams are a bit different than yours, in that we hope to move to NYC someday. Living in a small town in rural Michigan where we are comfortable and secure is a huge jump for him and brings about a lot of fear. The way you are facing the advent of personal growth is beautiful. I look forward to being a bystander during your adventures :D


  • Jess

    Jess on Oct. 29, 2013, 2:09 p.m.

    *ESFJ and INFP :D


    • renee

      renee on Oct. 30, 2013, 12:23 p.m.

      Jess, I think you may have mentioned this before but your husband and myself are very similar personality types. I'm a T where he's an F, and I've not a strong, strong T at that. And Damien is an INTP. Funny how you both are F's and in our marriage we're T's and those are our shared personality "markers" (or whatever they're called). 

      Anyway, I'm psyched about your NYC dream. 


  • Amy

    Amy on Oct. 29, 2013, 2:16 p.m.

    Hi Renee, I don't comment here much but I just wanted to say I enjoyed reading this post.  It will be so interesting to watch how you and your family process the upcoming adventure.


  • Alicia

    Alicia on Oct. 29, 2013, 2:18 p.m.

    Thank you, Renee. I have been a faithful reader for a few months now and your words bring a deep comfort and validation to my heart. I am wrestling with  the season of having littles and homeschooling and continually being laid bare, faced with the choice of submitting myself to be stripped of yet another layer of my perceived wants and needs. I have friends who have started this journey with me and one by one jump ship for something easier. I am convinced that whatever path I pursue, it would be hard. And there would be stripping there, too. And there too, would be a pouring out of oils precious to me. Thank you for being willing to serve as a comforter. Blessings to you!!


    • renee

      renee on Oct. 30, 2013, 12:26 p.m.

      Exactly, whatever path we take will strip as bare as certain points and it will peel away different parts for different people. The things I have to learn to let go of may not be held so tightly by someone else (or be a reality in their lives at all) and their letting go with be something completely different. 


  • Rebecca

    Rebecca on Oct. 29, 2013, 2:33 p.m.

    This post is amazingly beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing  so deeply of your story. I am often blessed by your honesty and vulnerability. I stumbled upon your blog years ago when i was looking for homeschooling blogs. I've continued reading all theses years because your story inspires me, not to aspire to the life you have, but to know myself and make brave choices that align with my values. As I enter my third decade of life I am more and more grateful for voices such as yours that shed light on what it looks like to live a life of growth and change. 

    You are a gifted writer. Thank you. 



    • renee

      renee on Oct. 30, 2013, 12:57 p.m.

      Thank you so much Rebecca. I'm honored that reading my blog helps you "make brave choices that align with your values". (smile).


    • Meg Bennett

      Meg Bennett on Nov. 2, 2013, 2:32 p.m.

      I was going to respond to Renee's post,but your post expresses my thoughts so clearly. I am not sure how I stumbled on this blog,but I am glad I did. Thanks Renee for your good writing and thoughts that lead me to growth.


  • Marianne

    Marianne on Oct. 29, 2013, 2:50 p.m.

    This is why I like to read your posts:   every once in a while you write something that knocks my thoughts out of their calm stream.   Sends them into the white water for a bit and that is good.   I've mentioned before that we live very different lives.   And I am in a near daily contest with trying to change some of the cirmcumstances of our life without completely changing.   In that regard I identify with being both a serious homebody, but always scheming an adventure that is outside my normal boundaries.    I tend to keep my schemes to myself.  Hidden.    As if there were something wrong with them and convinced that only I could dream these things.   Fear of failure is what it really is.   I can't stand the thought that someone, especially my husband, will poke a hole in my dream because then I'm only left with the homebody.  I see now that  I need the two of me,  homebody and adventurer,  to feel whole.   It's a conundrum.       I love that you are a homebody who is reaching out and somewhat jealous too.  Shameful to admit that, but there it is.     I  for one and looking forward to your changes, which I totally see as growth and not loss of any kind.


    • renee

      renee on Oct. 30, 2013, 1:14 p.m.

      Something we've worked on cultivating in the past few years is an open environment for dreaming and scheming. And I'll say, this is difficult for me because I see flaws and pitfalls in many ideas, and I get hung up on the details before we're even out of the gate. 

      I'm just not a dreamer by nature, but I want ideas to have space in our home to grow and be nurtured. And some of them are no good but others are fabulous and I don't want to shut down my receptiveness before I've even given them a chance. I think maybe your husband and I are more alike in that way. Damien has to keep some ideas hidden from me (though when I write that I feel bad even saying that) until the time is right. He's learned, over the years, when and how to bring things up. (just like I've learned timing in how I approach issues with him) And I've learned that not all ideas are things we must do! 

      Anyway, all that to say discussing dreams and areas for growth and change in our marriages is vulnerable. And it's so important that we cultivate relationships of love, trust and respect where there is safety to discuss ideas without fear or reprissal (or the fear of failure - which is huge subject in itself that I think about often with regards to education). So that there isn't the fear, like you mention, of having someone poke a hole in your dreams. That's one of the real gifts of marriage and family life, the ability to create that environment. 

      I feel this so strongly as a homeschooling mother also. I want to be the encourager of the dreams not the "hole poker". 

      It's so encouraging to me to hear the voice of other women in these comments saying they are both adventurer and homebody also. And I wonder how many other dichotomies do we allow in our lives (as women, mothers, wives, etc) thinking we must be this or that, but not both (or several?) I am like you, seeing I need to accept, love and live many parts of myself to feel whole.


  • Sarah m

    Sarah m on Oct. 29, 2013, 3:08 p.m.

    "Jesus tells us "whoever loses his life will find it". Sounds so cryptic. It's really not. When you lose what you think is your identity, your mooring, your purpose even, you have the chance to discover who you really are"

    I love that. You've explained the concept really well, I now understand it a bit more. 

    I totally get these thoughts. I realized I am more resistant to change than I thought since being married to my husband. His family has DNA of entepreneurs, and wealthy, risky takings ones. I grew up with a single mom who counted every penny and played it safe because she had to. I like structure and planning and few very chaotic/restless when there is no plan and we 'see how it goes' (as my husband likes to say)  :) It is really interesting how the marriage relationship makes both partners like the other, in surprising ways. 

    In thinking about your personal change, I'm wondering how this is developing in your kids, too. Is one more scared/nervous or hesitant to go than the others? With about 8 months of our cross country move underway, we've finally made a few friends and feel more comfortable in calling this place "home for now". We've recently tackled immigration issues, so in February or so, we'll be moving again, this time across the border (finally) into the Lowermainland. I feel so mixed about this, because our kids have taken longer to adjust than I thought, and have found some activities and friends (it took much longer than I expected, and they are young!) and then we'll just be taking them away from it to start all over again. Without friends their age, without knowing where anything is, a new house, everything. It feels worse for me--I should say my fear--is more on "is this the right thing for them?" It's hard. I assumed they were much more malleable than I've found. I know they will adjust, and they are very young, so they'll spend the better part of their growing up in one area (once we get there :) but it feels like we're dictating their life without their consideration at times. Yikes. Do you guys ever feel that way? 

    Sarah M


    • renee

      renee on Oct. 30, 2013, 2:39 p.m.

      Sarah, the irony is that my family dna is more like your husbands and I am the hesitant one. 

      I'm so happy you're moving north to the lower mainland. Canadians call it lotus land, at least we did when I was growing up in AB. 

      Now, about the kids and moving and the AT and personal change. I'm working on a post about finding connection and making friends with a more nomadic or adventurous lifestyle. I'm no expert and so I'm pulling together some stuff from people who are. But it could be a while before that posts since these things take time. 

      To answer your question. Yes, of course we feel sometimes we are dictating our children's lives without their consideration. All parents do that, regardless of your parenting or lifestyle philosophy. Parents who don't move are "making their kids stay in one place". Parents who move are "making their kids move". etc... 

      Our children did not have a choice in any of our moves. And they still don't, though at their ages we consider their input much more than we did when they were little. Honestly, when they were little they didn't have any input. And as our kids get older their life track, where they want to study, work and travel will play a large role in where Damien and I will live and how we will structure our lives. We're a couple years out from this with Celine.

      We feel the active parenting years are when we get to "call the shots" so to speak. And when our children are adults they will call the shots for their life and we, as their parents, will have to adjust and adapt to the lives they create with their own children. We are planning for that (and looking forward to it!)

      And while we're on the topic, our kids don't have a choice in the thru-hiking either. But having said all this let me explain how it is that we can still be "good" parents when we make our kids do hard stuff - like move, thru-hike or whatever. 

      As parents, we are responsible for our children's wellbeing. One of the realities of being an adult is that yes, you get to call the shots, but you also bear the mental, spiritual, physical and emotional burden of your decisions. The buck stops here. If someone is sick you are the one to minister to them. If they are hungry you are the one to feed them. If they have a learning need you are the one to provide (or outsource to someone who can meet that need). 

      So yes, we make the decisions as the adults in our house - about where to live and how we want to live - but then we also provide the emotional, physical, intellectual etc, structures so our children thrive. Our children don't have to worry about food on the table, or that their parents don't love each other, or that they are misunderstood and neglected. When they have concerns we listen and respond, whether that's about hiking, moving or whatever. It's our job as parents to create an environment (regardless of location, situation or circumstance) that is physically safe, intellectually stimulating, and emotionally secure.

      We do this by having a very solid family foundation of love, trust, & respect which we've built over years. We do this by giving our children a lot of freedom in their own interests and pursuits, within the construct of our family life (that's our whole educational philosophy). We do this by actively supporting their interests and adjusting our own schedules around their wants and needs (this last point becomes more and more significant the older they get). 

      (For example, recently we've been pondering the question of how Celine might continue her Japanese studies while hiking. Japanese is totally self-directed by her and she loves it and if she doesn't want to take a break from that while hiking we have to help her figure out how to keep studying on the trail.)

      We do our very best to provide this for our children regardless of where we are. And just because we're doing our best doesn't mean everyone is supremely happy all the time either, but that's not the goal. 

      So, this was really long and still leaves a lot unsaid and not adequately explained but what I really want to say is this - parents call the shots (which may introduce difficult circumstance into a child's life) but are responsible to provide for their children the emotional, intellectual, spiritual, physical, etc means to thrive in those circumstances. 

      Although children are wired a certain way (I see this so clearly in my own three with completely different temperaments) they are are greatly influenced by the home life they experience. And if the home life is secure and strong (regardless of circumstance) they will learn to adjust to situations. And parents must be committed to working through the bumps together with their children, and your children need to know this (and this will mean unselfishness of the parent's part in working towards providing things the child may need - social interactions, educational opportunities etc.)

      I feel pretty strongly about these principles (can you tell?)- a parent's right to both direct the family but also the incredible responsibility we bear to provide. (smile)


      • Sarah m

        Sarah m on Oct. 30, 2013, 9:26 p.m.

        Well that could have been a post right there! Thanks for taking the time to answer some of my questions and hesitations. I can definitely understand and agree with everything you say, I just have insecurities about moving them (again) when the first time has been much harder than expected. Though, rationally, will it ever be easy to move regardless of their age? Probably not, so why delay it...that would be my first reaction. Then I'd settle into a fear of 'it took us so long and now we're just pulling up those tender roots' thought process and it'd be undone. 

         I had no reserve about moving across the country with them the first time, didn't even question it as far as how the kids would deal with their new environment. I mostly thought, "they'll find new friends!" because friends for us--meeting, playing, doing, whatever-- was so easy to come by in our last (fairly large, 250,000 people city). It has taken us such a long time to make friends while actively pursuing it as much as possible. I suppose this leads me to believe it has been harder because it's a small town.  

        I just need to remember those encouragements that you've written, which are true for our family as well: they are safe, they are well loved by us (and see our marriage by example), they are cared for when I feel those insecurities creeping up. We don't have too much time to dwell, anyway. We'll just have to jump ship and do the thing in the next number of months. We're visiting Nebraska for 2 weeks over the Christmas season and after we get back? We start to look to seriously look at northern locations and housing options. 

        Sarah M



        • renee

          renee on Oct. 30, 2013, 9:35 p.m.

          I hear you on all accounts, especially about the challenge of finding friends. And yes, it was a post. I counted 900 words. I didn't work on any posts this morning, I replied to comments on this post (smile).


  • Carol

    Carol on Oct. 29, 2013, 4:57 p.m.

    Great post!  I read it twice and I'm still digesting.   After many moves, I agree home is with my husband and kids where ever that is.  Long ago, I wanted to be in control of my life.  Over the years God has shown me that by accepting change and having faith, I can find much greater happiness than I could imagine on my own.


  • Alison

    Alison on Oct. 29, 2013, 8:10 p.m.

    I relate to what you write and other commenters too. Sometimes life seems to be one long move to pull me away from who I started out as, to who I am now. I would never have expected to change so much - and to contemplate more change for the future.

    Like both you and Sarah, I relate to being different from my husband, and pulled into something new by how he sees life and its possibilities (as he is by who I am). I don't like the pain of the changes either, but I like who I've become. (Once I've drawn breath.)

    I hope that you will get your wish of transformation through the AT thru-hike - I'm sure you will. And I trust that it will be at least as much exciting as scary, and hopefully more so! 


  • Dianna

    Dianna on Oct. 29, 2013, 9:54 p.m.

    An excellent post Renee!  Courageous you are to write and share about your struggles as you are working through them.  I appreciate your honesty!

    Ahhh...we never like not being in control, none of us.  I think that is the one major issue that keeps Christians from believing and trusting in the Soveringty of God. I'm 64 years old and have come to realize that it is only by facing our fears (for lack of a better term) that we are able to overcome them.  If we don't ever step out into the times of adventure then we will always feel as though we've been defeated...and we have.  

    When our children were born we began helping them to see all of life as an adventure.  We didn't pull up roots as you are doing but there are those "adventures" in the course of life, no matter what lifestyle we have and we wanted them to see them as not something to shy away from, but to meet head on.  Our daughter was always the homebody...always.  She was our first born and we were so proud of her when she came to us and told us that her next "adventure" was going to be going to Mexico City to live as a missionary.  She was there for 12 years before she and her husband and son had to return to the States due to some health issues within their family.  

    I grew up in a home where ROUTINE was the only way of life.  My mom was such an organizer when it came to anything.  My husband was raised in a home where everything was done on spur of the I understand SO much of what you are saying here.  I also understand what you are saying about being afraid of what you will lose...what part of you will be lost.  I've lost a LOT of me over the years...but the things I've been blessed with that replaces what I've lost far outweigh the loss.

    I've written these things as the thoughts came to mind...not necessairly the way you approached things in your post.  I'm sorry if it seems a bit scatterbrained...:)

    I'm looking forward to following you on this journey and I'm adding a couple of books to my wish list at Amazon. :)



    • renee

      renee on Oct. 30, 2013, 3:28 p.m.


      Thank you for your comment. It was not scatterbrained at all. I agree with you that control is maybe the thing that keeps us from experiencing the fullness of freedom in Christ. And freedom is my rally cry these days and I hear the Spirit say, "ok my dear, time to let go, are you willing to trust?". They go hand in hand. There is no other way. And yet it is very hard. But less hard, I feel, if we share the experience. So thank you for sharing yours. 


  • Alaina

    Alaina on Oct. 29, 2013, 10:42 p.m.

    I can definitely relate to what you are saying.  However I think I am further behind on the road than you are.  

    I laughed out loud at the toad comment.  And I love the tamarack photo!  I LOVE tamaracks this time of year.  This week I even saw them covered in snow...lovely!


  • Mama

    Mama on Oct. 30, 2013, 12:17 a.m.

    If you are interested in magazines related to adventuring, is great because they not only have a magazine, but also on their website, a lot of families have linked to their own blogs, which might be encouraging, if not for traveling in an RV than for adventuring for long periods of time with kids :)


  • Lisa Zahn Life Coaching

    Lisa Zahn Life Coaching on Oct. 30, 2013, 12:59 a.m.

    Me! Me! Me! This is one area where we have LOTS in common again. I too straddle both worlds. I WANT to be like the Taproot people--gardening, raising chickens, etc.--and I have long dreamed of that and even done some of it (blogging about it at my old blog The Zahn Zone). But it seems in truth I am called to a life of opening up, letting go, being rooted in relationship and not necessarily place. I too hear the call to adventure, to travel, to possibly someday "RV it" and my husband does too (though he is very called and committed to his breadwinning job as a music teacher too). We can kind of have both worlds now, as we have summers to travel and I long to plan more of that AND I long for more year-round adventure. We'll see where it leads us.

    I don't know if there are any magazines for us, but I am thankful there's your blog!



    • renee

      renee on Oct. 30, 2013, 3:23 p.m.

      Lisa, I'm not sure you'll get this since you've unsubscribed from comments but I wanted to say this anyway (for anyone who cares to read it).

      I think you and I (and others) are in good company in this transition and progression. I see this more and more and I wonder if it's an age thing? Or another fad, just like the homesteading thing was a bit faddy for a while. The desire to not be tied down so much - is this going to be just like the urban (or rural) homestead thing? People try it out and discover it's not so much for them. Or is this a further evolution of our personal values and life-tweaking? 

      We should be allowed to change and evolve and not get so hung up on if we "stick with it". And so if the call right now is to have adventure that doesn't mean it will always be that way and so let's live it to the full. 


  • Catherine Forest

    Catherine Forest on Oct. 30, 2013, 1:36 a.m.

    Renee, this is one of the most amazing piece you have ever written. And I don't say that only because it truly totally resonates with me (OK, I am not a homebody and clearly more an adventurer, but I sure relate to all the rest of it). I have been quoting Kenison's Magical Journey book in my two last posts, because what she writes really resonate with me...

    What I can say from experience is that yes, leaving and being homeless changes you completely. Coming back to a house is hard for me, the stuff, the dailiness, the routine now feels heavy and artificial almost...

    I too thought that our little homestead was home... until I felt stuck and needed more freedom. And once you have a taste of that, it is almost scary to see how much you crave more adventures. Yes, stuff becomes optional, but freedom remains essential.



    • renee

      renee on Oct. 30, 2013, 3:13 p.m.

      So much I could say in response to your comment Catherine (I've attempted to reply and connect to each comment on this post). I just know you know what I'm talking about. I have much of Kenison's book underlined for the same reasons you state.


  • Ariana

    Ariana on Oct. 30, 2013, 1:50 a.m.

    In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful posts you've written. I, too, straddle the line between adventurer and homemaker - wings and roots that tug on me simulatenously, fairly equally, almost daily. A difference between you and I is that my roll in my marriage is more similar to Damien's - I'm more often the partner to push for adventure, seek change, look to move us beyond our comfort zone for the sake of growth. Interestingly, in my current season, many life circumstances are forcing me to grow and change without my prior consent. And, although I trust that I'll come out on the other side a "better" person for having "gotten through", I feel very resistent to the internal and external changes that have already begun. For me, letting go and allowing change to occur is a much easier process when I've been the one in control of the decisions that lead up the adventure. But, in cases where I've had no choice in the matter, I find myself digging my roots in a defensive manner, which doesn't feel good.

    You mention Katrina Kension's book (with "contentment" in the title) and discuss her focus on digging roots. Do you have any reading suggestions where the focus is on finding contentment in circumstances where the situation leading to change/growth was forced/unplanned and contentment was still attained?


    • renee

      renee on Oct. 30, 2013, 3:11 p.m.


      you said: "For me, letting go and allowing change to occur is a much easier process when I've been the one in control of the decisions that lead up the adventure. But, in cases where I've had no choice in the matter, I find myself digging my roots in a defensive manner, which doesn't feel good." I totally hear you.

      As for Kenison's books, I think you would appreciate them. Her books do not focus on digging roots but actually discuss the very thing you've talked about - finding contentment regardless of where you are. In fact her books, the two I've read, are about rolling with what comes your way and finding out who you really are. In mothering, womanhood and living in general. They are beautiful books. Her blog is also like this (you can google it). 


  • Jeanne

    Jeanne on Oct. 30, 2013, 4:24 a.m.

    "We long for the way things were, nostalgic for the mythic "golden age" of our personal or cultural history."

    I often find myself resisting the consumer culture in which I live, longing for this mythic time. Perhaps I should embrace more change in my life and focus on the good things that are still present in life from the past: community, relationships, and the beauty of nature. You seem to have accomplished this for your family. 


    • renee

      renee on Oct. 30, 2013, 3 p.m.

      Jeanne, I find reading about history, the real history and not the glossed over versions, helps me when I feel "the good ol' times are past". 19th century England keeps popping up in my radar for the past few months. I think of all the art that portrays the mothers, wearing long dresses, drinking tea in the garden with children (the kind of portraits you see in Charlotte Mason type art, sorry if that make no sense to you but this is where I see this art most) and I'm tempted to think life was like that, but for most people in that age and place it wasn't. It was nearly horrific. Just as the present day is for many unfortunate people. 

      And of course the american idealized past, whenever that was, was never without tarnish - slavery, Native genocides, the conditions leading to the civil rights movement. 

      Anyway, just a thought. Community, relationships, beauty in nature - these are all available now and can be lived fully (smile).


      • Sarah

        Sarah on Oct. 31, 2013, 5:04 a.m.

        Ah yes, and many 19th century upper/middle-class women weren't too happy! That was they peak of "hysteria"... I just read Turn of the Screw, so I feel very hyper-aware of the fact that even those wonderful domestic pictures may be glossing over something (or they're simply one version of a multi-faceted truth). 

        I understand the feeling of wishing for another time or place. Sometimes I feel I should've been a hippy-- part of a passionate, idealistic, and driven generation... and then I remember that I know so many people now who are just those things, that my generation is special in those very same ways, with different accoutrements (technological power, communication rather than festivals, protests). Certainly there were beautiful things about that time, but also horrible things (lack of civil rights, stifling conformity in the 50s and lack of political freedom because of the cold war, a devastating draft...) that many of those people were fighting against.

        A few weeks ago I went to a showing of Inequality for All (, a film about the changes in the American middle class over the last 70 or so years (I found it really interesting, but it has a leftist bent, so beware if that's not your thing). After a bit of doom-and-gloom (but necessary, not just off-putting), the movie reminds us that many good things from the past are not over--we have the power to revive them (perhaps in a more modern way), if we choose (i.e. we have the power to revive policies that strengthened the middle class). There are many imperfections in our economic and political system here in the U.S. (in my opinion), but the greatest thing is that WE HAVE POWER. I guess that is also my answer whenever the news gets me down (I have to just skip/close my eyes/turn off the horrible pointless stuff, I'm talking more about the social injustice stuff in the news). I think it is important to examine what news I am taking in and see whether it makes me feel inspired to act or whether it makes me feel un-powerful. If the latter, I either try to shift my mindset (thinking about what I can do while limiting my exposure to the most shocking images), or I completely turn it off. 


        • renee

          renee on Nov. 3, 2013, 5:34 p.m.

          Sarah, I totally identify with you. When I moved to Maine over 10 years ago and met all these aging back-to-the-landers I felt I was born in the wrong era (1975) and wrong place (the Canadian prairies). And then I met the new back-to-landers and realized that wasn't quite the right fit for me either.  But just like you say we have the power and different means to create and affect change in our society. Some of us will take to the woods, others will work in inner cities, some will create community in the suburbs - it all has a place. I'm excited to see where your journey will take you!


  • Amylynn

    Amylynn on Oct. 30, 2013, 11:23 a.m.


      I loved your article on change. It really spoke to me.

    I especially love the quote by Rachel Denning"  "if you're comfortable you're not growing".

       I like you ,never really loved change. I grew up in a rural corner of South Eastern Indiana, total farm country. At age 18 my parents decided to sell our acreage and move to  Charleston,South Carolina. They moved us for two reasons: One that the locals were trying to fight a huge dump moving within miles of our home, that would damage the water supply and scar and change the land. ( which later the local farmers won, thank God!) Two that my brother and I never experinced change, never saw parts of the US, never experinced things. By doing this they completly changed our lives, and now I am grateful for this, thank you Mom and Dad! At the time I was crushed, I hated to see the farm lands go, hated to see my woods be taken from me. I was shocked!

         But, by doing this they changed my life and for the better. If they wouldn't have taken part of this radical change I wouldn't be married to change. My husband is in the US Coast Guard and we do move around. We look upon our moves as experiences and adventures. Yes, even with a four year old boy we are excited about our adventures. Every move we create a bucket list of the area, and we mark off our adventures, and sites that we want to see. By not owning and renting a house we are not tied down to anything. By doing so we can get out and experice. Yes renting can be a pain. We run into issues with renting on each adventure but...I would not trade it for anything.

        As for you we will be moving in about 6 months.  The destination is not known at this time. We are hoping for New England the are that my is from. We dream of the salty briny sea, lobsters, the white mountains, moose, Maine, and all the beauties of the area!

       This is a time of change, changing of the seasons, I too am 38, and see my parents getting older, grasping onto memories, sacred of the future, scared of the uncertainties but excited about change!





    • renee

      renee on Oct. 30, 2013, 2:51 p.m.

      Amylynn, thank you so much for sharing your story here. I love hearing how other people have gone through changes also in location and how they have adapted to that. 


  • Lisa Zahn Life Coaching

    Lisa Zahn Life Coaching on Oct. 30, 2013, 1:35 p.m.

    sorry! commenting here just to turn off the comment notifications...don't know another way to do that. It is fun to read the comments but my inbox is flooded. :)


    • renee

      renee on Oct. 30, 2013, 2:47 p.m.

      Apologies Lisa and everyone else about "comment spam" in your inboxes. We're working to fix it.

      Also, I appreciated each and every comment on this post and I have replied to each one, which I rarely do, up to this point. And now I'm done (smile), replying that is. I've written a couple more posts just in the comments alone. But feel free to leave a comment I will read it and, if I can't help myself, probably reply. (smile)


    • renee

      renee on Oct. 30, 2013, 10:05 p.m.

      To unsubscribe from a post's comments:

      I talked with my technical director and to unsubscribe from a post's comment feed is very easy. Just click the link at the bottom of the notification e-mail. (I forgot about that link since I don't get those e-mails.)


  • Jessica

    Jessica on Oct. 30, 2013, 6:33 p.m.

    Dear Renée, in the past week or so (postwise, not exactly datewise), your writing has been just awesome. You have written a lot of things I am THINKING but I am too busy to WRITE.Then I check here and BANG! Renée did it for me! I am so enjoying reading these posts: thank you!


  • Jessica

    Jessica on Oct. 30, 2013, 8:34 p.m.

    You are definitely not alone by the looks of all these comments! I too am an adventurous homemaker. I recently became a first time mom and am loving being a homemaker, however I am definitely a dreamer and adventurer. One minute I can be thinking about this months menu plan and the next I'm planning a 6 month backpacking trip down to New Zealand and back! I'm British and live with my family on a teeny British island near France, its a beautiful place, but very, very small. We dream of emigrating somewhere bigger, somewhere where we can roadtrip and immerse ourselves in the natural world more often. Somewhere where there are mountains and forests and we can hike and backpack and camp! (Canada is actually high up on our list of countries!) I find this dream daunting at times, so much change would be involved, however I still crave it, despite the fear. The fear of not doing it is actually worse than the fear of doing it, so that spurs me on.


  • Kelsi

    Kelsi on Nov. 1, 2013, 6:53 p.m.

    What a spot-on post. I am there with you.

    Here comes a whole lot of random thoughts. Because writing is such hard work and I don't have as much time as I'd like to organize my thoughts. (sorry.)

    "I've had a hard time finding my tribe in this regard. The adventurous homemaker/homebody group. Where do they hang out? Where do they blog? Are you one of them? What magazines do they write?"

    Yes. Yes. Yes. I don't know they reside except for here on your blog.

    My family is preparing for move #19 this month. Each time we move, we flense, shed another layer of ourselves, get closer to the core. The more we move, the more I realize that home is where our souls are together. The clothes, beds, books - nice, but not necessary.

    I seek roots, deep, sustaining roots. I want neighbors and friends and community. And I want arms-flung-wide adventure. Our beloved dog died this past year and while we were all sad, I was also (secretly) relieved because I was happy to be free of the responsibility. Now, we could leave for a trip much more easily. I am torn between roots and roadtrips. I've rad Taproot but find it totally foreign to me. And I don't know quite where I belong. No, I'm not "lonely" but I do feel very much like I don't fit anywhere but with my family (the one my husband and I are building.)

    I am grateful for your brave blog posts because they give me a boost of confidence to continue to make brave choices.

    And all the comments, I need to reread them all. More wise words.


    • renee

      renee on Nov. 2, 2013, 1:42 p.m.


      You know I'm starting to see that. That FIMBY does serve as a gathering place for likeminded adventurous/homemaking people (women mostly, I think). And thank you for adding your voice here. I really appreciate it. 

      Flense - wow, had to look that one up. I love learning new words. Thanks!

      You are so right about getting closer to the core each time you have to let go of old layers. Exciting and scary, is it not?


  • Jess

    Jess on Nov. 2, 2013, 11:25 a.m.

    There is a sacred space each Saturday morning as I allow myself time to sit and fully throw myself into the presence of your posts.

    My mind is full of affirmations and contemplations all centered around one simple thought - Yes!

    " The adventurous homemaker/homebody group. Where do they hang out? Where do they blog? Are you one of them?"

    Yes, they (WE!) exist.

    Yes, they are hard to come by.  Still, you create a space for us here.  A space to swallow the tension of living within the body of a homemaker and life of an adventurerous partner.

    Yes, I am one of them.

    Often I find myself handing our computer over into the lap of my partner, encouraging him to read your posts.  It is frightening how deeply your relationship and life together with your husband and children reflect our lives, conversations, personalities and parenting here in Michigan.

    Renee, thank you.

    Thank you for being a consistent voice in our home of affirmation and support to live into this tension of being adventurous homemaker/homebody group.  It's been so beautiful to be with you, here, each Saturday morning.  

    The affirmations and like-minded throughts are like salve to my soul.


    • renee

      renee on Nov. 2, 2013, 2:01 p.m.

      Jess, I am completely honored to be a part of your Saturday morning reading. Honored and humbled. 

      Your Yeses are like a salve to my soul also. Yes is such an affirming word. Do I belong? Yes. Do I matter? Yes. Do people connect around these ideas? Yes. Am I supporting and encouraging others? Yes. 

      These are the yeses I hear in your comment and it encourages me so much to keep sharing myself fully in this space. The dichotomy I feel is experienced by others and maybe it doesn't have to be a dichotomy at all. But a rich tapestry of colorful threads. 

      I love that my values and our marriage relationship life looks a bit like yours in michigan, because sometimes I question "does anyone else experience this?" And yes (there it is again), they do. And that is comforting.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts Jess.


  • Shannon

    Shannon on Nov. 2, 2013, 1:39 p.m.

    I can totally see the comparison between your family and the Soule family (Taproot.) Your families may not "look" alike, but you share the commitment to creating  the exact, authentic life that fits your families. I don't want to raise chickens OR through hike the AT, but I dearly love reading you both. 


    • renee

      renee on Nov. 2, 2013, 1:53 p.m.


      Well, I'll take that as a compliment. Thank you. Your comment about how you aren't a chicken raiser or plan to hike the AT but appreciate reading both stories got me wondering. Wondering why I'm not so appreciative of the chicken raising stories these days, why I just can't relate and how I respond to that.  

      I wonder if I am still insecure in some ways about our life path and maybe that's the reason I can't get past all the homesteady stuff (which is a part of me also but not realized the same extent) and simply appreciate the story of authentic living, chickens and all?  Maybe it's because I thought, years ago, the homestead in Maine might be our path (and I believe it could be if I was married to a more fixed-in-one-place person) but then we took a different direction, just as grounded and rooted in our family identity and values, but expressed differently.

      Or maybe, I just can't relate very well and because we're on a path that is not well traveled I'm looking for support and likemindedness, instead of alternatives that are not supportive of where I'm at right now. Does that make sense?

      All that to say, your three sentence comment got me thinking - thanks.


  • angi

    angi on Nov. 2, 2013, 2:54 p.m.

    Renee, I really loved this post.  I think being "deeply rooted" has more to do with being comfortable with who you are and not where you live.  My family has moved 14 times in 21 years.  I'm really hoping to not ever move from this house.  We are "rooted", living out the life God has lead us to each and every day.  Not looking at what God had lead others to do and try to copy that but finding what He has for us.  Planning for the future, but enjoying today.   I'm also pretty resistant to change - like my oldest going away to college and now getting married - but God has forced change upon me and its all good.


  • Lee

    Lee on Nov. 3, 2013, 10:34 a.m.

    Hi Renee - another thoughtful post that was a pleasure to read.  I often save your posts for when I have time to really read and digest them, which is why I often come late to the comment party!


    I wanted share some thoughts that I had while reading.  I have additional fears around big changes when I actively choose them.  I have grown so much as a person seeing my sister through cancer and then losing her last year.  I'm learning to open up more, persue my own dreams more, and forgive more (my sister and I were at a really good place in our relationship, now I want that with more people).

    But, moving to Germany a second time, that was a choice.  And it hasn't worked out so well.  I've learned things about myself that I'd rather not know, like I can get petty and say ugly things about my neighbors.  They have been exceptionally rude, but it is still my choice how I react.  I am fearful of big decisions, because if they go wrong, I will have chosen to be there for it.  We recently traveled to Morocco, and part of our journey took us deep into Berber country in the high Atlas mountains.  We had a driver and guide, but we were the only tourists around and I worried about medical emergencies.  I kept thinking if something goes wrong, I chose this and it is my fault!

    I do have to remember to trust myself to handle whatever comes my way.  I've now been through enough things to know that the strength will come when I need it.  And the days curled up on the couch with a good book will also come again!

    Anyway, your posts often make me stop and think, and I am grateful for that.


  • Shannon

    Shannon on Nov. 3, 2013, 8:16 p.m.

    You know me Renee and our 10 yrs of moving and renovating 5 houses... We haven't lived anywhere longer than 3 years. Now on our 5th, here for less than a year and being very contented to say, "Finally we are NOT moving, for at least 10, no 20 years, no actually never!" I wanted/want nothing more than to settle in and make this whole property mine-to change many aspects to suit/sustain me. Having the peace of saying-we are not moving and struggling and renovating with kids AGAIN!

    But the reality of that is sinking in....and it's not making me content like it should be, it's making me think what other adventures we can now have--that we have a "stable" place to hang our hats. Never being anywhere longer than 3 years has always meant that by year 2 we've been planning on finishing and getting ready to move again (have another adventure). These "struggles" have absolutely changed so much about me, my husband, the way we relate to each other in our marriage, our children, etc. Looking back, sometimes I want to say, "why did we do such and such-we lost such and such but we also gained much!" And that's where I need to stay-in the place of non-regrets because you cannot change the past.

    Now that we're getting ready to close in on one year here, and everything is almost done including the basement- something is happening-I'm getting antsy. Not I want to move and renovate again antsy but adventure antsy, change antsy, struggle antsy. And although I've always craved stability, I find it interesting that I've NEVER been in that place of stability or what it looks like in my mind anyway...and I've never made choices really that would provide that for me.

    I thought for a moment, am I sabotaging myself? But no, I too want to live in this place of in-between. I think many want to be here but don't know how to balance it and so waffle between one or the other but it doesn't have to be that way as you said, you can be both, you can have both and either are for different seasons in life and that's ok! "I love routine until I'm bored then I crave adventure until I am overwhelmed then I crave routine." This was on some fb e-card recently and really it sums it up succintly for me :)


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