Fall Intentions ~ The Nitty Gritty

I loved reading every single one of your intentions for this new year. Thank you for sharing them. You're an inspiring and ambitious bunch!

I will be announcing the three winners of the One Bite at a Time giveaway tomorrow, so stay tuned.

In my giveaway post I promised to share with you some of my seasonal intentions, a look back at my fall intentions and a look ahead to my winter intentions.

I'd like to start with my biggest personal fall accomplishment. Establishing a solid morning and evening routine.

Bookending My Days

Two of my fall projects from One Bite at a Time were:

  • 3. Establish a morning routine
  • 4. Establish an evening routine

I'm pretty good with organizing the bulk of my days - school routines, mealtimes, home management (just so you know, when push comes to shove I focus on the home part more than the schooling, one of the reasons I call myself a relaxed homeschooler). But morning and evenings were a point that needed work. Especially considering two factors:

  • I need time to write, and I prefer to do that in the morning. The days are busy with school and taking care of our home, and actually "living" what I like to write about (smile).
  • My kids are growing. Their own sleep schedules are shifting, ie: my "babies" do not go to bed at 7pm and then a block of time opens for me. I need to be available for my kids in the evening, to connect with reading and talking, before we all go to bed. I am not facebooking, pinning, tweating, pinging or whatever the latest thing is before bed. I am "facetiming" with my kids.

A side note about blogging and social media.

Excuse me if I sound a little preachy. You can turn away now if you like.

I don't spend a lot of time in social media or other similar blog building endeavors. I don't have time for these pursuits in my day (and certainly not time in my morning or evening) and these activities drain me in the end more than they fill my well.

I will not compromise my sleep, relationships and overall well-being to build a blog (or anything else, for that matter). I haven't done that in the past and I'm not not going to change directions now.

I feel at a disadvantage sometimes to those willing to pull all nighters (I can't stay up past 10:30), or rise at 4:00am, drinking pots of coffee to get through the day. I'm just not going to do that, or a bunch of other stuff, and I feel this limits my professional growth somehow.

I want to "be good" at so many things and truth be told, I'd like to join the ranks of mama bloggers with several thousand readers. But mostly I want to be a good mom. A present mom. A tuned-in mom. And for me, tuning into the heartbeat of my home means tuning out other things. Regularly.

I'm saying this for my benefit more than yours. I like the accountability of publicly drawing my line in the sand.

Stepping off my "turn off the damn computer Renee" soapbox. Packing up my blogging insecurities and moving right along then...

In September I prepared two index cards, listing potential points to an evening and morning routine, taking inspiration from One Bite at a Time. Having established the routine now, I don't even have those cards anymore but that was a good first step to get me going.


First thing when I get up is to drink water. And keep drinking throughout the day. I check e-mail, turn that off, then read something inspirational - might be web based, more often in a book. I often journal.

I usually sketch out the day on my daily planner. I pray - nothing major, just remembering people who are in need and asking for guidance, wisdom and help for my day. 

That's the early morning routine. What happens before the house comes alive.

Then I write for two hours, while Damien and the kids get started on their day. My desk is in the middle of the living area and I wear earplugs. I still hear everything, I'm learning to tune it out.

I enter the domestic fray at 9:30 to clean up the kitchen, get kids going with school, and so begins our day in earnest.


My evening routine includes shutting down my computer applications after supper clean up. Over the holidays this line fudged a bit, that's what holidays are for. But I'm back on track with this now.

At the end of the day we read for about an hour together. The kids read to me and I read to them. I have my shower and go to bed around 9:30. Sometimes I read in bed till 10pm.

My morning routine is about filling my well. My evening routine is about ending well. The hours in between can get messy and chaotic but I love the rhythm of these early morning and evening bookends.

Becoming a Morning Person

This was my big personal accomplishment of the fall. And I can't even take much credit for it. It just kind of happened. I had intended throughout the summer to get up at 6:30, though with 10:30 or 11:00pm bedtimes it usually was more like 6:45.

But when we moved a funny thing happened. A good funny thing.

We shifted one whole time zone but didn't actually move that far geographically west. So the afternoons got darker sooner but mornings were noticably lighter earlier.

Also, I got sick and felt so worn out by 8pm. I longed to crawl into bed right after, or even before, tucking in the kids. These three changes - moving, being sick, the time change - meant I was going to bed at 9pm, or shortly thereafter, for that last half of November.

And like clockwork my body was waking up between 5:30 and 6:00, with no alarm.


That unlikely combination of events set the pattern and I am officially a morning person now. Something I've wanted to be, but could never quite accomplish, for the last few years.

I've never been one to compromise my sleep (when I was a kid I actually went to sleep at sleep-overs). My babies & toddlers interrupted my sleep - for years. That is the way of it with young children. So in those days I slept in till they did, hoping for 8:00am!

But after those years of my life I didn't have a good reason, except staying up too late, to prevent me from rising early.

I find these morning hours to be my favorite time of day. I love getting out of bed to have this time.

Other Fall Intentions

1. Move to the Gaspe. Check. This was the whole focus of our fall really.

2. Exercise three days a week (in addition to our family's One Day A Week). Check. Unbelievable!

Like many people, I am not motivated to exercise.

Years ago, I dropped this from my to-do list. I was tired of beating myself up for not following through, so I stopped expecting it. I do a lot of hiking, backpacking and general life activity. I'm at my ideal weight, eat well, sleep well and generally feel great. I figured that was good enough.

Now that I'm exercising more regularly I feel better than good. Like Tiger says, "I feel gggrreat!" (I watched TV growing up).

So what changed?

  • I have a destination to walk to. We don't have mail delivered, we need to pick it up at the post office box. Thankfully, the post office is a 15 minute walk from our house. I've always known that purpose-driven exercise works for me - having a real need to get out and move. Now I have one, everyday if I want.
  • I live in beauty. Not surprisingly it's very motivating to exercise in beauty. I long to get into the woods and this helps me to bundle up and get out the door.
  • We got skis and skiing is fun! Exercise has to either have a real life purpose (like running an errand) or be fun for me. Owning skis has been a long time dream of ours. We live in winter snow land and I love skiing here.
  • Damien's home. Honestly, this is huge for accomplishing a lot of these intentions. Life is just easier shared, especially when you're raising kids. There is just more "give" in our schedule when we're both home. And it doesn't hurt that the kids are getting older also and they don't have to come with me when I exercise if they don't want to.

3. Green smoothies every day. Nope. Not even close! I love drinking them, I know how to make them. But it breaks down there. I'm carrying this one into the new year but aiming for three days a week to start.

I look at this list and I'm kind of amazed at how much was accomplished in this past season, most of it related to our move. Many of these intentions were possible because of that.

I pinch myself every day (am I allowed this much joy?) about where I live and how this move has made so many dreams come true, even my desire to get more exercise.

I feel full to brim with gratitude for this and have serious intentions to make the most of this blessing - to help others in their journey to making their dreams come true. Which brings me to my winter intentions... and to the end of this post.

I cannot believe how verbose I am these days. So much to tell. Anyway, I intended to share my winter intentions here also but this just too long. Those will have to wait.

At this time of year do you evaluate your progress on last year's intentions or are you just moving forward with new ones?

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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  • Jill Foley

    Jill Foley on Jan. 6, 2012, 3:34 p.m.

    Once again you've delivered a great post that seems written just for me. Since the New Year I've been rising earlier (without an alarm clock) and have enjoyed up to 2 hours alone each morning - it's so refreshing and sets the stage for my entire day. When I get some time to pray, read, write I am then ready to enter the chaos.

    I love the idea of having a better evening routine. I just mentioned to my husband that putting my kids to bed is my least favorite time of day and I don't want to feel that way. I think it's because I'm ready for more "me" time which usually means time on the computer. But I definitely want to shift that paradigm because bedtime moments are far more important than checking email.

    Thanks again for an inspiring post!


  • Bethany

    Bethany on Jan. 6, 2012, 3:36 p.m.

    so glad, I love how the bigger intentions are helping the day to day ones happen ... the beauty of a well-lived life! groove-finding is a delightful thing. and reminder to self ... i bought One Bite a few months ago and didn't have the printer-chops to print it out. after reading your post the other day i at least printed out the first few pages, and have my checklist! now to start tackling it, and i know the beginning/ending caps are crucial.


  • Aimee

    Aimee on Jan. 6, 2012, 4 p.m.

    I became a morning person in 2011 too. It has changed my life!! So wonderful. Like you, I have not been motivated to exercise...I am an active person who eats fairly well, sleeps well, and is active. But after having baby #6 and having joint pain since that pregnancy, I decided with the New Year to do Couch to 5K and it's so fun b/c my husband goes along with me! It's like getting a date and exercise :) I am making green smoothies too about 3-5 times a week...I feel so much better than I do. Just have to be disciplined to keep the ingredients always on hand. I have been reflecting lately on the power of good habits...it's truly amazing and brings such great spiritual, emotional, and physical health. Yea for some self-discipline!


  • Beth Wagenius

    Beth Wagenius on Jan. 6, 2012, 4:20 p.m.

    Wonderful inspiring post. Many of your goals seem to be similar to mine. I'm going to read this again later today and actually take notes. Lots of good ideas.

    I also have been wondering how "healthy" facebook is....not that it's wrong, I just think it can be addicting. A lot of popularity type games seem to be what's bothering me the most right now. And it seems to waste so much of my time.

    I have family that I don't live close to so I couldn't shut down entirely but I feel that my blog is probably "better" for me. (I hope I'm saying that right without sounding preachy)

    Also,I find it really doesn't add to my blog readers anyway.


  • Natalia

    Natalia on Jan. 6, 2012, 4:53 p.m.

    What a fantastic post Renee. I especially liked: "I want to "be good" at so many things and truth be told, I'd like to join the ranks of mama bloggers with several thousand readers. But mostly I want to be a good mom. A present mom. A tuned-in mom. And for me, tuning into the heartbeat of my home means tuning out other things. Regularly."

    All I can say is this is something I am constantly battling with - I need to learn what to focus on and what to let slide sometimes. This post has reminded me to do this.

    And you have also encouraged me to open my copy of One Bite at a Time Again and work through it (it is a great publication).


  • Catherine Forest

    Catherine Forest on Jan. 6, 2012, 4:59 p.m.

    Wouldn't it be great if we could do some exchanges? I drink at least one green smoothie or green juice a day, but struggle with exercising... Maybe I could drink green smoothies for you and you could exercise for me... This is on my list too... I started yesterday with a beautiful 5 km walk with lots of hills right off our doors. I was so motivated to do it 3 or 4 times a week, but I got a severe migraine, like I always have when I exercice seriously (like more than yoga...). It is so frustrating...

    Anyways, I enjoyed the way you describe your morning (fill the well) and evening routine (end well). Very inspiring!


  • Nicole

    Nicole on Jan. 6, 2012, 5:06 p.m.

    "My morning routine is about filling my well. My evening routine is about ending well. The hours in between can get messy and chaotic but I love the rhythm of these early morning and evening bookends." You said it perfectly! My routines have changed over the years for different reasons: kids getting older, husband's shift always changing, I teach so I have summers off. But having something in place keeps me sane!

    I am reevaluating my "bookends" right now, as next week I go back to work, but Dear Hubby has quit working, with my blessing. He had been working 60-70 hours a week, 6 days usually, weird shifts, never by choice, and it was obviously not conducive to family life or his health. So, for the first time ever he will be available in the mornings and evenings, and I am so excited for this change to our days.

    Like you I love to rise early and have that me time before getting into the day. That is in place for me. What I will be working on is the evening routine.

    Thanks for sharing from your heart, as always. So inspiring to read your thoughts and look at your gorgeous photos!


  • Jennifer @ kidoing!

    Jennifer @ kidoing! on Jan. 6, 2012, 6:34 p.m.

    Hello, I had been thinking about Tsh's book for a while now and finally took the step to purchase it last week. I had read Organized Simplicity and, while it was helpful, I found that it was full of the good things I had already done or was planning to do. However, the format of One Bite at a Time is perfect (topics are SO relevant), and while there are things I've done, there are other things I haven't (yet) or want to do better.

    I have always been an alarm clock girl, but the past five years or so I haven't used one, nor needed one. In the rare case that my husband sets his alarm, I have actually gotten angry at it because I wasn't able to allow my body to choose its wake up time (he was getting up at 5:15 for a while to run - too early for me, even though I am an early riser).

    I am missing your readership on my blog, but I completely understand. I have to force myself to pull away from the computer. I'm an information junkie and love learning new things. However, at times this has come at a price to my family, which is not acceptable to me.


  • Cari

    Cari on Jan. 6, 2012, 9:43 p.m.

    Great post Renee.

    I appreciated your thoughts about keeping it real online (and off). I also appreciated your insights into establishing a morning and evening routine. I have definitely identified that I need this morning time for filling my well, as you say. Now...I just need to set about accomplishing this end.



  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on Jan. 6, 2012, 11:48 p.m.

    I also like purpose driven excercise. I live 1.5 miles from work and now that my daughter is older and we can go together without complaint, I am able to walk or bike and also drop my daughter off at school on our way together. Going to the gym to 'get in' my half hour of being stupendously bored on the treadmill never worked for me. I feel that excercise should be part of my life - staying fit, eating well, being outside.

    Although I know it is your dream, I feel the mama bloggers with several thousand readers are always trying to sell me something. I now rarely read one blogger that was very inspiring since I feel she is always 'softly' selling something.

    I love your blog, your openness, and your inspiration. Thank you.


  • Naomi

    Naomi on Jan. 7, 2012, 12:48 a.m.

    I really enjoyed this post, Renee. I like to organize my days and assess and reassess goals regularly as well. And, as a side note, I don't miss Facebook!! Because my kids are little, even if they do sleep through most nights, I also (in comparison to your early years with kids) like to stay up later and then sleep in till they get up, but I have also been enjoying creating a routine that we all fit into despite the irregular sleep schedule. This week I have been back on my feet after a very strange flu bug, and it feels SO good to be back in the game as homemaker, mom, and even teacher. If only my prego self didn't feel like I needed SO MUCH sleep! Ah well, at some point I look forward to becoming an early riser because I do appreciate its gift.


  • Karen

    Karen on Jan. 7, 2012, 1:45 a.m.

    You've inspired me to look again at establishing my intentions. The recurring word for me this week has been stewardship - it's been interesting, processing how that fits in with the framework of my nitty gritty. Hearing your ability, and happiness, in rising early inspires me that our rhythms can, and do, change.


  • Jessica

    Jessica on Jan. 7, 2012, 2:48 a.m.

    Hi Renee. I recently discovered your blog through a link at Thoughts Interrupted and I feel like I found a jewel. I love this post for so many reasons - especially hearing the things you will not compromise in order to do other things that could seem good. Being able to discern what is right for me and my family despite what others are doing is something I am really wanting to walk out in my life. I have a one year old and a two year old and even though I would LOVE to wake up at 5 each morning to read and write, sleep is just too important (and hard to come by!) in this season of life. I was SO encouraged by your comment on another readers comment in a past post. You said, "Seasons, my friend. Seasons." That has been ringing in my head all week and I am soaking up the grace of that. Just because I can't greet the morning hours before my babies wake up, doesn't mean it's forever. Seasons. Thank you for your writing. Keep on keeping on being who you are as a blogger and your professional growth will take care of itself. :)


  • Wendy

    Wendy on Jan. 7, 2012, 3:17 a.m.

    Wow--so many great things in this post. I've just discovered this past week how much better my day goes when I get up earlier than the rest of the family--now to develop better morning and evening routines, and make them stick!

    I really identify with and respect your thoughts about being a mom and how blogging/social media/the computer fits into all that.

    That walk to the post office each day sounds perfect!


  • Michelle

    Michelle on Jan. 8, 2012, 12:55 p.m.

    Before I had my son I was a morning person. I still am, actually, just a really, really tired one! I too struggle with getting the sleep I need and getting done what I want to do and I admire your stance about what is your priority. I go back and forth on it quite a bit. Great post - my intention for the new year is to get my priorities straight and stick to them, nice reminder!


  • Deerskin

    Deerskin on Jan. 10, 2012, 1:27 p.m.

    Your blog has become my favorite lately precisely because I can tell it is not your first priority. Sometimes I wonder when I'm reading "Mommy blogs" how much of the content is gleaned second hand to attract readers and how much is experienced first hand by the author. Your content seems grounded and motivated by life experience rather than reader numbers, so I trust it much more.


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 11, 2012, 7:27 p.m.

      Wow, Deerskin. Thank you.  One of my deepest values is integrity. That who I say I am is who I really am. In writing this means actually living what I write (the details, the joy, the struggles and triumphs) not just writing to attract readers. This is my intention and so when I read a comment like yours I'm encouraged. So thank you.


  • Starlight

    Starlight on Jan. 26, 2012, 6:47 p.m.

    Do you know why I love you? Because you help me love me. Not only to you remind me to focus on what is important, but a lot of what you lay out here are things I have already taken the time to recognize as "of supreme importance". Being forced to acknowledge that I'm actually smart once in a while does wonders for the self-esteem. Between law school and homeschooling and being a wife and mom, my interaction with the outside world can be limited. And amidst the hustle and bustle, I often forget that I set these goals and I forget to follow through on them. And then you come along and get me all excited again!! Like I said before, every time I read your blog, I think, "Self, someday you have got to be this cool." Thank you so much for inspiring me, always when I need it most!


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