How to change the world (you know, let's pick something easy for today)

I don't have the answers to life's large and looming problems, but neither have millennia of philosophers, warriors, politicians, theologians, scientists, and writers. I live a privileged first world existence that sometimes handicaps me as much as it enables me.

And because of this - my privilege and the fact that my little thoughts will not change the world large scale, I feel I should keep them quiet. Let the people who do amazing things, like start orphanages in Africa, work to end sex slavery in east Asia or Houston, TX, or live completely off grid - let them write about how to change the world. They have the creds.

I'm just a mom, living in the woods, loving my husband and kids. I barely even tune into media. What do I know?

I'm not going to listen to that voice today, and so here goes nothing.

I want you to imagine...

Imagine the world you want to live in. I know it's hard. We're not children anymore. We've lost our innocence and a lot of imagination.

People have told us our dreams don't matter, that they are unrealistic, "that's not the way the real world works". (God help me, I don't want to be that voice in my child's life.)

You might use the following questions as prompts. In the world I want to live in, how would people treat each other? How would we treat nature? How would people view God? How would God view us? What would work and play look like?

Make a list of what that world, your dream world, looks like.

Now live that in your home.

Imagine your kids are all grown up. And you can send a letter back to yourself, from that imagined future to right now.

In that letter are the most important things you've learned through years of loving, living, and parenting. And in that letter, from your future self to your present-day self, there will be five things that really matter. Maybe six, or ten. But not too many, there can't be twenty things that really matter, ideals that you would sacrifice everything else for.

That letter, from you to you, might tell you the lessons that are most important to teach your children, or the secrets for living a happy family life.

Menhir girl dress up

Now, when you're looking at your day, week, or month, and you're overwhelmed with getting it all done, those are the things you can focus on.

Imagine you don't have a homeschooling evaluation each month or the end of the year. How would you structure your days, design your curriculum, and envision your goals without someone looking over your shoulder?

You may not be able to get rid of the evaluation, nor necessarily should you, but the expansiveness of ideas, opportunities, talent, and strength should be the driving force in your homeschool, not fear of reprisal and failure.

Practically speaking, steer the ship in your own home and then figure out how to fit the evaluations and external assessments (if they are unavoidable) into your paradigm instead shifting your family goals into another paradigm.

You have dreams, ideas, values, knowledge, and beliefs that have the power to change the world.

Believe the power of change lies within your grasp, within your home, within your relationships, within your circle of influence.

Believe the power of change lies within you, because it does.

snow in trees

One of the most irksome phrases ever uttered is "that's not the way the real world works".

This phrase is usually spoken, or written, by a naysaying individual in response to someone who lives, educates, works, dreams, or believes differently than they do.

In defense of the naysayers, they often don't even mean to be this way, they just don't have an imagination for how things could be, only how they currently are.

You live in the "real world". You contribute, you spend, you earn, you love, you play, you work, in a real world. Your world. Make your world the kind of world you want to live in.

Nope, life isn't going to go according to plan and play out perfectly all the time. I'm not a naysayer, but I recognize this truth.

You will chaff against the things you want to change but cannot (other people for example). Your dreams will not all come true. You will feel challenged, every day. But that shouldn't shut down your dream-machine, or stop you imagining the life you want for your children, or stop you from making the life you want to live a reality, right now, today, in your home.

whisked hot cocoa mugs

Stop listening to people who say "you can't do that", and start listening to those who say you can.

Stop listening to the people and internal voices who say "the real world doesn't work that way" and show them that in your home, which is the real world, it does.

What is the life you imagine for your grown children?

Do you imagine them pursuing ideas, making their dreams happen, contributing to their community, raising a family, living a mission? Live the life you want your children to lay claim to.

Success is too vague a word, so is well-educated.

Get specific. How do you want to prepare your children for an unknown future? (This is what education is all about.) Now live it yourself. Be that adult you want your children to grow into.

Imagine the world you want to live in and then go through your days like that is the reality. Create the change you want to see in your own heart and in your home.

This is not a burden message. You do not have to fix the world. You only need to live like you have the power to change your world, which you do.

egyptian dress up

We are all created different for a reason. We have different roles to play, different burdens to bear, and different contributions to make. Don't diminish yours just because you can't solve malnutrition in Africa, afford a hybrid car, or rid your life completely of plastics and chemicals.

Believe the power of change lies within your home, within your relationships, within your circle of influence.

Believe the power of change... lies within your grasp, because it does.

Ghandi is quoted as saying,

If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. ...We need not wait to see what others do.

Ghandi has also been quoted as saying,

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Whether Ghandi actually phrased it that way is disputed. But it doesn't really matter who said it. The sentiment is true.

juniper berries under snow

I want to challenge you to apply that to your home, your family life, your homeschool.

If it helps, make yourself a list or write yourself a letter that starts like this:

I want to live in a world where....

And then build a family homeschool and culture of doing those things. You will change your world, your children's world, and the people whose lives you touch.

"The business done in the home is nothing less than the shaping of the bodies and souls of humanity." – G.K. Chesterton
(thanks Mystie for always reminding me of this)
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  • Sarah Mast

    Sarah Mast on Nov. 20, 2013, 3:52 p.m.

    I'm glad you didn't listen to that voice. This was a great message. I have always hated that phrase "real world" because it just shuts down everything. There is no room for anything except mediocrity and "settling" in that sentiment. 

    This is my favorite line, that I shared on facebook with your post, " Success is too vague a word, so is well-educated. "  

    Sarah M

    PS-What is Brienne doing in that picture with the bindle and lamp? The picture reminds me of a female Thoreau heading out to Walden. :) 


    • renee

      renee on Nov. 26, 2013, 1:33 p.m.

      Sarah, Brienne is playing the part of Menhir merchant daughter traveling around, just wrote about it here.


  • JenP

    JenP on Nov. 20, 2013, 5:06 p.m.

    This addresses so many thoughts I've been wrestling with lately. I think you'd enjoy the movie "About Time" it's in theaters in the US now. We saw it over the weekend and have been talking about it ever since. Your idea of writing a letter from your future self brings to mind a lot of the same ideas. Thanks for your encouragement and insight. 


    • renee

      renee on Nov. 20, 2013, 5:14 p.m.

      Sounds like a good movie, I found it at We don't have a theatre where we live (and if we did it would be en Francais) but I'll look for it next year to download from iTunes. Thanks for the heads up.


  • Julie

    Julie on Nov. 20, 2013, 8:18 p.m.

    Unfortunately, my husband is the one who always plays the "real world" card.  He was out of work several years back for about six months and I think that has jaded him in so many ways.  His perspective on life and jobs and money is forever changed and not always for the better.  

    We are debating sending the kids to public school next fall (we've always homeschooled) and I am really struggling with it.  I feel like I am fighting to keep precious family time while much of the world works two jobs, sends the kids to school, and has a schedule so full they never see each other.  This is my greatest fear.  It's not at all how I pictured my life and when I look back in 30 years, I know there will be regrets.


    • renee

      renee on Nov. 21, 2013, 2:21 a.m.

      Julie, I'm sorry to hear you are struggling. Even if you determine public school is the best fit for your family right now, it doesn't have to mean all your dreams and desires go "down the tubes" so to speak with that decision. We all make decisions and compromises that aren't the highest expression of our values and beliefs. I have to do that all the time. I am facing some of those choices right now in my life (not with regards to homeschool, but other things). It doesn't have to mean there will be regrets (smile), it means we all do the best we can with what we've got. And the attitude we carry into making those decisions and living the consequences of those decisions is more of a determining factor in the success of the decision than if it was "the best" choice. Does that make any sense?

      I'm trying to encourage you that we all struggle (smile) and there is no perfect and I write these kind of posts as much for me as anyone else. To encourage me to make the life I want to live happen to the best of my ability. That's all any of us can do.  


      • Julie

        Julie on Nov. 21, 2013, 2:33 a.m.


        Thanks so much for your encouragement.  I am trying to see the best in this situation but it is such a change.  And I don't always do well with that and tend to fight it kicking and screaming (I know you've posted about your resistence to change before as well).  I know I need to open my mind and maybe this will be the best thing we have ever done.  

        Thanks so much for your blog.  It's such an inspiration for many.


  • Sandi

    Sandi on Nov. 20, 2013, 10:59 p.m.

    This is so timely for me. The story is to long and involved to tell here but I have drawn way back over the last little while. I found my self on a path that I didn't recognized nor agree with. It was the following of someone else's vision that got me there. I said yes when I should have said no. I committed to walk in a way I knew I wasn't meant for in order to serve the greater good. In the name of community I burnt myself out. It wasn't really community just the idea of it. 

    I find myself isolated in many of my thoughts and desires on how to live life, educate my kids and express my faith. I have changed over the years and become more clear about these things. I have become more and more different from others around me in the process. This is partly why I find myself drawn here to your place. There is so much more I would like to say but I can't stand typing on the i-Pad :) Need to get a keyboard for it.

    And the second Ghandi quote is posted over my desk. one of my favs.


  • Laura

    Laura on Nov. 21, 2013, 2:35 p.m.

    As is so often the case when I visit you here, Renee, I come away with food for thought. As I painted yesterday afternoon, I pondered what are my five or so things that I want my children to learn from me. I love that you reminded us that we can't focus on many things. I want to ponder this more and then write it down. It seems like something I should review often and then look at my life and see if I am living this out. I want to brainstorm more ways to be the kind of person I want to be and ways to teach this to my children. Mostly, I must live this out in front of them. What am I teaching them by the life I am living? A sobering, yet good thing to think on today.....


  • Kristy Gonyer

    Kristy Gonyer on Nov. 22, 2013, 9:50 p.m.

    Thanks so much for the lovely post. It can often be hard to keep working towards your dreams and to keep believing that it is possible for you to make a difference in the world. (Especially this time of year for me with the lack of sunlight...). This was just what I needed. A little boost to keep reminding me that even the little things we do make a difference (and that I am not the only one who believes this)!

    It is the first time that I have taken the time to comment, but I have been reading for awhile and so many of your posts have given me the inspiration and motivation to keep working towards a life based on my family's values rather than "the real world's" expectations. Thank you!



    • renee

      renee on Nov. 22, 2013, 11:31 p.m.

      Thanks Kristy. I loved reading about your dream on your blog. I think it could be inspiring to a lot of young couples (and people). 


  • Megan Hills

    Megan Hills on Dec. 8, 2013, 4:08 a.m.


    I feel a need to save up for a session with you. Tears filled my eyes reading this. I constantly feel a struggle between creating a portfolio and just living learning with my kiddos. They absorb so much more from my intuition than from Learning Results. Thank you for your inspiration.


  • Andrea

    Andrea on Jan. 1, 2018, 3:30 p.m.

    I read this back when you first posted it and saved it for my future self to read again. Read it again today and am loving the reminder :)


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