In a state

We drove to Maine on Friday. Arriving in the evening at our friend's home on the first official day of summer, the sky hazy and the air warm. 

Our friend's home - the brick hearth dividing the living room from the kitchen, the foot wide plank floors and dark beams on the ceiling, the gardens, and the peonies going-by along the drive - all speak "Maine farmhouse".

They saved us supper and waited to eat with us. Farm vegetable lasagna (using up the end of last year's frozen vegetables) served with a fresh garden greens salad. 

As much as I was looking forward to seeing our friends, there was an ache in my stomach as we drove through north and central Maine to their mid-coastal farmstead.

It's been two years since we left, moving back to Canada. 

I loved Maine. 

Returning for this short visit reminds me once again that I still love Maine. 

We went backpacking the morning after we arrived. These are our hardcore family-hiking friends. They inspire us so much. We met on a mountain, a year before we left, and have stayed in touch since, planning regular meet-ups around an outdoor activity - winter skiing, summer backpacking. 

This family will be hiking the AT next summer also. We both choose the year independent of each other's decision and we will be hiking our own hikes but hopefully sharing some of our journey together. Our kids, though different in ages, get along so well and when they hike together it's easier on the adults. Hiking with friends is fun for all of us. 

So we went on a short overnight trip to the Bigelows, in the western mountains of Maine. Arguably, one of Maine's most beautiful mountain regions.

The mountains of Maine feel like home to me. Just like the peonies and raspberry canes in the farmhouse yard. 

That ache I felt while driving through Maine accompanied me as I hiked up the mountain also. I was missing Maine but there was more to it. 

I feel a little uncertain right now, have for a few months, about the direction I want to take my writing. I'm questioning the roles I have in our family life. 

I feel less and less the homemaker but not sure what I am instead of that. I am unsettled right now. Searching for the work I want to do that fits who I am and the lifestyle we live. 

Perhaps for me, Maine represents all that is settled. Farmhouses, mountains, deep lakes.

And that, I realized, was the source of the ache as much as my memories of this place. The general fuzziness I feel about what I'm doing right now. Not feeling particularly grounded in an identity, occupation, or place. 

Coming back down the mountain the next day I talked this through with Damien, as the voices from the rest of our party carried up the trail to where we lagged behind. (There's a definite reason we don't see much wildlife when hiking with talkative, happy kids.)

Driving back to our friend's home, itchy with bug bites and sticky with sweat and ineffectual bug repellent, the ache was replaced with appreciation for this state we called home for nine years. The state of my thirties, where I grew into my adult self, and where we formed our family identity.

I'm at the beginning phase of new stage of adult self and family identity. Of course I would feel an ache for the state I've left behind. 

Growth feels that way. Painful at times and disorientating as we ask the question - Who am I in this new place? 

We can look back to who we were in an old place and long for that sense of security and knowing. Just like my feeling as we drove into Maine. The ache not so much for this state, though I love it so, but the ache for clarity in my life. A clarity of identity (homemaker? writer? adventurer?). A clarity in my work. A clarity in direction. 

We leave Maine tonight on to the next leg of our northeastern US travel-rama. I'll leave this state behind but carry the questions with me. Maybe there are answers further down the road.


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A day in the city (friends who leave a key to their home) »
  • Nina Thornton

    Nina Thornton on June 25, 2013, 9:15 p.m.

    Thank you for your honesty in sharing your feelings. You have crystallised all I have been feeling for past two years and not understood. It is SO good to share these feelings it helps us all. Renee I think this feeling comes to us all at times of change. I hope your answers will not be too far down the road. :)


  • Susan

    Susan on June 26, 2013, 2:13 a.m.

    I have a rising 4th grader and a rising 6 th grader. They can do more with out me each day. It is how it should be but it can be hard at times..when the were little ones my days were filled. Now I need to find ways to fill them.  I will be praying for you to find your place in this season that you are in.


  • stacey

    stacey on June 26, 2013, 3:23 a.m.

    This hits so close to my heart. I texted my husband just yesterday "who am I?" Because I'm not sure at the moment, it seems everchanging. My children are 17, 16, and 10. We've moved twice in 18 months. Not little moves, full out cross country affairs. We've always loved the outdoors, adventure, and being close to the earth, but recently it seems we've lost touch with some of that life. My kids aren't little and are so self sufficient. I think I should be proud that I've taught them well but I'm not always certian. I'm not at all certain if I should be working and if so doing what?

    Thank You for sharing your journey, it helps knowing I'm not alone. You will find your way, I have absolute faith in that. I envy your ability to share so openly.



  • Alison

    Alison on June 26, 2013, 7:57 p.m.

    I'm with you on the 'writing, yes...but what?' I don't know yet, but a few little bits are emerging, and hopefully more will come. I know you will figure it out, even if there's some wrestling to be done with it for now. 


  • Jess

    Jess on June 26, 2013, 9:25 p.m.

    Oh, that feeling can be so confusing.How wonderful to spend time with good friends! I hope that you continue to enjoy your family's trip and find a little more direction along the way.


  • Alaina

    Alaina on June 26, 2013, 10:40 p.m.

    LOVE the lupins!  They are out here, too.  

    I am also waiting for answers but I think they are going to be quite a bit further down the road for me.  I'm glad that I am not the only one who gets the "stomach ache" feeling.  I hope your time with your friends was fun.


  • LisaZ

    LisaZ on June 27, 2013, 4:20 a.m.

    Oh, how I know what you're feeling! Maybe there is something in the stars this year as I have been going through such similar feelings. Sensing the passage of time, a bit of nostalgia, and that 'feeling less like a homemaker'--me too! I've also been searching for what I am to do now, and it is coming bit by bit. I have found what I want to do right now--life coaching--just within the last few months. It involved giving up some of the old (finishing my Masters degree started 20 years ago for one) and reaching for the new, training to be a coach. It feels good to have a lot more clarity, but it's still scary jumping into a new place, starting a business, etc. I wish for you the clarity and path you seek, or that is seeking you, Renee!


  • Kelsi

    Kelsi on June 28, 2013, 7:57 p.m.

    Here's my two cents...

    When I read this sentence, "I feel a little uncertain right now, have for a few months, about the direction I want to take my writing," my heart leaps in fear because I value your words so much and I fear that you'll stop blogging! Of course, you have your own path to forge, but I thought I'd let you know.

    And then, I was at the library this morning and I saw a book, "Let Them be Eaten by Bears" by Peter Brown Hoffmeister and I brought it home to read. (I just finished "The Down and Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids" by Helen Olsson) and the thought, "I wish FIMBY would write a book like this, only better, more FIMBYish just popped into my head." So maybe you need to write a book about doing awesome things outside with kids on a budget in a way that glorifies God!

    I am not bossy at all nor do I love giving advice (ha ha). But sometimes, people who have more distance can give a fresh perspective.

    I love Maine too. And I am so excited to follow your AT adventure.


    • renee

      renee on July 2, 2013, 12:33 p.m.

      Kelsi, I love this blog and writing here is a joy in my life. This blog isn't going anywhere (smile).

      I don't have any desire right now to write a book but thanks for the book writing encouragement and your support in general for my writing. It means a lot to me.


      • Beth

        Beth on July 4, 2013, 5:18 a.m.

        I also read "let them be eaten by bears" and thought of you! Not a lot of new stuff here but positive encouragement and great stories. I say pick it up and read it. Then email the author. Have fun which ever direction life leads.


  • Mindy

    Mindy on July 2, 2013, 1:58 p.m.

    Aack! I echo Kelsi's fear...when I read that I thought "Oh no..tell me she's not going to stop blogging - not when I'm about to start my new adventure as a SAHM and homeschooler!" so a big "WHEW" from me on your reply to Kelsi. Our plan was for me to hopefully quit work at the end of this year to stay home with our daughter and venture into homeschooling within the next year or so...but God had a bigger plan. My job has been eliminated in some company-wide layoff's effective the end of this month. Sounds upsetting (and was initially shocking) but we see it as meant to be...and I get to enjoy the spoils of summer days at home with my daughter instead of cramming what I can in during evenings and weekends. Anywho...I had to share my new adventures and express my relief that whatever life brings you in regards to your writing you'll still be blogging. Hope you and your family are enjoying your traveling adventures! Light, love, and safe travels!


    • renee

      renee on July 2, 2013, 2:09 p.m.

      Mindy, Oh thank you. I love knowing that my writing is an encouragement (smile). We are having a great trip. I spend most of my mental energies simply finding equilibrium and moving through the transitions - we've done a lot of things in the last week and a half - and haven't had the time or creative energies to write about any of it, yet. Today we're going to NYC. Enjoy your summer!


  • Catherine Forest

    Catherine Forest on July 3, 2013, 11:03 p.m.

    I am just amazed at how we seem to be going through similar uncertainties at the same time, Renee. Once again, I recognize myself in your doubts and questions. The need for clarity. The weight in the stomach about coming back home. I feel you. I am at the stage where I know what doesn't work anywork, what I don't want, what isn't me, but I am still unclear about what lies ahead. What does work? What do I really want? Where are we heading and with what purpose?

    Thank you, my friend, for sharing your struggles and helping me see through the muddy waters...


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