November 5, 2014
We've been off-trail now for six weeks. One of those weeks we went to visit my parents in Nova Scotia.
In our five weeks at home I've been orchestrating our household routines, re-establishing old rhythms and establishing new ones.
As the kids take on more cooking and food prep duties I'm down to being responsible for two snacks, two lunches and two suppers a week. As kitchen manager I oversee the show, write the shopping lists, and make sure the cupboards are stocked, the almond milk is made and the beans are cooked but my work in this domain is waning. And as it wanes my inspiration and enthusiasm for cooking has increased. Can I hear an Amen!?
With the help of a local doctor friend I've started a run/walk routine and my foot is doing well. I can exercise without pain and as far as I know I'm healed but I'm still taking it slow. The nearby beach in on my daily route.
I'm reading tons. I have more books on the go and have worked into my schedule more time for reading than I've had in years. Books, my first love, have replaced the Internet as my source of escape and inspiration. Memoirs, mysteries, fantasies, non-fiction. I adore these piles on the nightstand and a full Overdrive bookshelf on my iPad.
I'm working on my shawl, with a goal to complete it by the end of winter. Winters are long in Quebec, I think I might just pull it off.
My guitar is out, I downloaded a tuner app, and I've started making music again, singing for all I'm worth. I've found new-to-me francophone folk musicians on Spotify, have listened to more ABBA in three weeks than I have in the last 15 years combined, and in the rest of my listening hours I have soaked myself in Steve Bell.
We started going to church. I've been making an effort to re-connect with local and not-so-local friends.
The kids have returned to their studies. Celine has a job. Out of necessity we hit the ground running with homeschool and I've had to build our curriculum as we go. I prefer to plan then execute but there was no time for that so I'm constructing the pieces as we go.
I'm studying French again, in earnest. So are the kids. We are fostering two adorable kittens which we found (rather, they found us) on the road to the beach.
Early-to-bed, early-to-rise, I find immense comfort in the punctuation of my days. The anchoring of The Morning Office and Evening Compline, the sound of surf on my afternoon walk. Morning coffee, post-lunch reading, afternoon tea. Routines that give definition, structure, and regular breaks to my industry.
I could write a blog post, or more about each of these things. I could talk about how to get kids in the kitchen. I could talk about how I loath to push myself out the door each day to exercise but I do it anyway and I love the way I feel when I get back, my hate-love relationship with regular exercise.
I could write reviews about the books I'm reading and new authors I love. (See the sidebar on my blog where I keep an updated list of recent reads.)
I could talk about the importance of pieces of my past in my present, why we stopped going to church many years ago and why we are returning.
I could talk about how our introverted, homeschool teenager has a job, location-independent, just like her dad. I could write about our goals-based curriculum, a schedule for project-based learning, and the kid's owning their own education.
I could write about Canadian history homeschool studies, self-directed second language learning (and the programs, apps and resources we're using), knitting as a meditation, playing guitar, and the recipes I'm loving these days.
I could also write about the excruciatingly frustrating moments and days I have on this path to post-hike recovery. How I seem to have little bandwidth in my life right now for failures and glitches but life is full of those anyway. (Someone didn't get my memo.)
I could write about our trail debt and our austerity budget to get ourselves out of that, which means no funds for homeschooling, among other things. I could write about how, after years of pushing the boundaries and walking the edge, right now I need to live in the safe middle of a very well defined box, with firm boundaries on time, resources, and ideas.
Each morning for a couple hours, or maybe just one, I write. Haltingly. Sometimes with tears streaming down my face and a rumble of anxiety in my belly.
I don't write about recipes, or homeschooling, or books - even though those seem like bright shiny objects. Tidy posts.
Right now I need to write about what happened to me this summer, to try and make sense of my trail depression and post-hike anxiety (which is thankfully subsiding). I'm going back even further to understand subtle and not-so-subtle shifts that have happened in my heart and psyche since leaving Maine in 2011.
This is hard work. Some days it hurts like digging out a splinter and other days it feels like rays of sunshine into dusty, dark corners. This is the focus of my writing time, which is the same as my blogging time. I need to write my way to understanding and discovery. I need to write my way to healing.
This is how I process with writing. I write, talk, write, read, write and maybe cycle through the whole thing again, and eventually I publish. But this kind of writing does not lend itself to a fast turn around on the blog. I do plan to publish, I have always published what my heart feels compelled to write and this is no different. It's just taking a lot of time.
I want to publish fun and beautiful things here. Some bloggers are very explicit in their purpose to use their blog to focus on gratitude, beauty, goodness. I want to share the joy of homeschooling life and homemaking and creativity and yes, even adventure, but a more important writing task calls to me.
My writing time looks like yielding to that call and then resisting. Walking boldly for a few steps then retreating. And in the resisting and retreating I am so tempted to publish "aren't these kittens adorable" or something like that. Maybe I will. But in reality publishing even a simple post takes hours and I don't have those hours to give.
I have always used my blog as a place to not just share ideas and a family story, but as a publishing platform to process and work through things.
In my pre-hike life there were steady and small eruptions, usually corresponding with times of transition and seasonal shifts, of navel-gazing and introspective writing, that would bubble up from the subterranean lava that constantly flows beneath the surface.
Now as I write my way through the last ten months I feel like I'm trying to harness a volcano. I'm not going to write one post and resolve this. I do believe the lava will cool, it will give new shape and structure to my life and eventually, fertile soil. Maybe it's already happening.
But writing my way through this is time-consuming and emotionally difficult. There is no turnaround time I can rely on for publishing to the blog.
Ideally, I would love to post little snippets of our life, whether those are homeschooling, creativity, homemaking, or adventure related, while I keep working on the heart writing. I love that when I look through the archives I see this blog as a record of our family life (according to mother) and I have a strong desire to maintain that somehow, while I'm doing this personal work.
I honestly just don't know how to do that. Each post I publish here takes hours of work. I'm not sure if I should be embarrassed or proud of that. It never used to take hours and hours to write, edit and publish a post. Reading the old archives, I can tell. (She writes with a smile.)
This is not an answer post, or a planning post, or a "you can expect such and such for me" post.
This is me, just checking in.
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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