A Friday Introduction (and a bit of Instagram talk)

I've been working through some writing behind the scenes for the last little while. Weeks? Months? I've sort of lost track. And then this week I've been sleeping-in, had a morning podcast interview that conflicted with my writing and poof, there went the week's writing time. (My writing time is the first couple hours of the day.) And so, it's been quiet on the blog and what I had hoped to publish this week didn't get out.

camping in bug season, last weekend.

I'm feeling disappointed with my progress, or lack of progress, but I'm also reeling from some difficult life situations, feeling a bit discombobulated in general. And I'm tired. I needed the sleeping-in but I should also go to bed earlier. Goals for next week.

For today I'm going to post the same thing I'm posting on Instagram.

Many of us are using Instagram like an old-style blogging platform. "Here's a pretty photo and some thoughts from my life". Of course Instagram is used in a myriad of ways, many of them related to marketing products and services. The same thing that happened with blogging.

I've had an account since 2013 and posted sporadically at the beginning. Then a couple years ago I started using Instagram as a space to micro-blog my life. It meets a need for me the way blogging used to, when I would write and publish a post in one sitting. Ha! Can't even imagine doing that now.

There's a thing on Instagram called Friday Introductions.

This is the introduction I posted today (minus this intro and extra photos). IG has a word count limit and I surpassed it, no surprises. So I had to post the following text in two parts. I can't even write short stuff for Instagram!

Happy Friday Introductions!

I actually don't think I've ever introduced myself on IG, formally. And every time I think I should it feels like too much effort. (You'll see why I think that shortly. Hint: I can't write anything that feels meaningful to me in under 1,000 words.)

Overcoming that resistance today to just publish something.

Hi, I'm Renee. I'm a 43 year homeschool mom of three teens and young adults. I don't homeschool the young adult @celine.tougas, she's off to university this fall to study costume and set design for theatre. But I did homeschool her, all the way from kindergarten to graduation, and I'm doing the same with @mypictograph and @sparklypinkbling. God help me.

photographing my heart

I don't know what I was thinking to take on such an endeavor. The early years were easy and fun. The later years have been more difficult and intense (hormones and high school math) but still overall worthwhile for our relationships and learning.

Creating good work in the world, creating a healthy and loving home, nurturing relationships for the long-haul, all of it takes significant effort. Homeschooling is part of that effort. Plus, I actually don't agree with compulsory schooling, as perpetuated by the public and most private schools, so that doesn't give me a lot of options but to homeschool. I believe in and practice adult/teacher/parent-facilitated, self-directed education.

In addition to homeschooling I work part-time as a freelance content writer. Right now I have a long term (ish) gig for my brother Brad Toews, managing content and media for his B-RAD Podcast. It's a great job.

My longterm vocation and passion (that which I am willing to suffer for), besides raising and homeschooling my kids, is writing. I publish my writing on my memoirist lifestyle blog. I've been doing that for nearly 15 years. I write at the edge of my growth curve so the content changes as I change. But family, which is to say my heart, always features strongly in the mix.

I started a Patreon last year to experiment with monetizing my blog in a way that feels right for me and to complement my blog (which is about my life) with a podcast that is about other people's lives. Once a month I publish interviews with extraordinary ordinary people where we explore the big and beautiful ideas rooted in the everyday experiences (often mundane, sometimes heartbreaking) of our lives. I also create other content there including Freedom Education: A course in homeschooling and life.

I'm in a transitional discovery phase trying to navigate a path into my next career (post-homeschooling) which I hope will incorporate writing, thinking and teaching/educating/leading/system-changing/community-building based on that thinking and writing.

I love thinking about the ideas in theology, psychology, neuroscience, spirituality, philosophy, design, human development and education (to name a few) that contribute to human flourishing. I have an ever-growing long list of books to read in these fields but mostly I read memoirs, biographies and novels and try to meet my intellectual fascinations with podcasts and lectures.

If you geek out, as I do, on personality typing, you'll appreciate knowing I'm an ESTJ though I'm borderline introvert. But I've found the enneagram to be a more helpful tool for personal growth and understanding. Through that lens I'm an Type 6w5, probably self-pres or social subtype.

I'm a Christian and I stand under that colorful rainbow banner painted with all are welcome, all belong, all are "in". My Christian ethic informs my commitment to recognize and honor the inherent dignity and beloved-ness of all beings; to remain steadfast in the hard work of loving people (including myself); and to spend my time, effort and resources doing good in the world - reconciling people to themselves, each other, the earth, and the Divine. I feel spiritually adrift without regular time in nature, solitude, and contemplation.

I've been married to Damien 23 years this summer. We're actively figuring out a vision for the next stage of married life, post child-raising. I'd like to say it's exciting, and somedays it feels that way, but it's also difficult, like trying to imagine what exists on the other side of the forest we're currently hiking through, without a map to show us. I scramble up whatever elevations I can find, to get a view as often as possible, but the path is still not clear. So we just keep hiking our current path - raising kids, paying the bills, getting out of town as much as possible.

Originally from Alberta, where I was born, raised, schooled, married and became a mother, I now live in Montreal, after a circuitous route through NJ, Maine and the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec. At times I truly love the city, Montreal is so amazing, but I feel a constant pull to the woods and mountains. This is one of the many tensions in my life.

I am an avid hiker and skier and have done many miles and summits in New England and eastern Canada where I've lived for 19 years. I need to regularly camp, backpack, and travel. I feel a deficit of this in my current life season.

In 2014 my family thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and I am very at home in a tent and cabins. Actual home is a 3 bedroom rental apartment which I manage and organize to support my family's creativity, comfort, and connection. Putzing around my home is a favorite way to spend my time. In the summer I tend and nurture our backyard vegetable and perennial gardens, which I've built from scratch.

In my writing and thinking, in my living and my loving I actively seek beauty, order, and truth; cultivating freedom, courage, connection and compassion for myself and others.

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  • Michelle Payette

    Michelle Payette on June 21, 2019, 1:51 p.m.

    Renee, i started taking the Freedomship Education course on your Patreon but since we live in such a rural area, the videos wouldnt load. Is there any way I can purchase this course and actually download it or something so it wouldnt have to be streaming? I was only able to watch the first 2 videos.


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