Inspiration and Action ~ The Wrap-Up

This month I've been writing about winter inspiration. A couple weeks ago I did a series of seven re-posts from previous years, the most re-publishing I've ever done on the blog. Here is the list of those posts:

In re-publishing those posts and publishing last week's two brand new posts, both on the subject of action and inspiration, I saw themes emerging.

It's fun to pull a bunch of writing together, that's been done over different years, in different situations of my life, to see the common threads and truths.

This post is the recap of these nine posts, a wrap-up of winter inspiration and action.

inspiration action FIMBY


First, some quotes from those posts, which illustrate key points of inspiration and action, of having dreams and then making those happen.

Make time in your life to be inspired. This inspiration will give birth to dreams.

Imagine having time to unplug, time to dream, time to push your limits and boundaries.

All you feel is tired and cranky and maybe like this whole trip is just too much work. But then you hit the trail head. And your push yourself through that first mile and realize "I can do this".

Much of the weekend was spent talking and listening; dreaming and scheming. I came home from last weekend inspired to do something about it. To make changes on the small level that affect change on the big level.

Sure, I don't particularly love the work of getting ready, but you know what, life is work.

Hard work? Yes. But living the life you want is good work, life changing work, family building work. Kind of like backpacking.

I like to regularly remind myself that I am just passing through. Literally. When I die I don't take anything with me. None of us do. I want to live a life that brings me joy in the living, not in the acquiring and owning.

The beauty of winter (life) is all around, I just need to appreciate and celebrate it, not wish it away.

Enjoying winter (life) is a choice.

A strong, healthy family life provides the best structural framework for reaching our potential, for getting out the door, making ideas happen, getting things done, and doing the work.

Family life, when operating at its best, provides the unconditional love and accountability that humans need for personal growth and self actualization.

The process of writing clarifies goals and gives you a fixed point to work towards. This clarity, whether you are conscious of it or not, helps you sift through all the input coming your way. Helping you filter out that which is not helpful to your end cause or goal.

After you've been in nature for an extended period, say a few days or longer, you will start to see how your everyday patterns and quirks - maintaining a standard you thought was necessary - may not be so necessary after all.

And when you let go of controlling all these things, mentally and physically, you gift yourself and your family with more breathing room, more time, and more peace. You gift yourself with freedom.

I want this wrap up of inspiration and action to be very applicable to you, regardless of if you camp, hike, or ski. Regardless of if you live in the city or the woods, whether your "dream" is RVing around North America, homesteading, cycling from Alaska to Argentina, doing non-profit work in the Philippines, or traveling the world with your family.

So here's my takeaways from these nine posts, which are actually takeaways from five years of inspiration to action movement in our family life.


Give yourself space to dream.

For us that literally means wide open spaces. The more time we spend outdoors the more we dream. You might not be outdoorsy but I encourage you figure out some way to spend regular time outdoors with your family - walking, biking, beaching. Get into nature.

Evaluate your life.

Identify areas you want to see change and forward movement, and then work towards that. Write down your dreams, goals, values, and mission.

Start exactly where you are.

Today. And move forward. Don't disdain humble beginnings. We all start somewhere.

Surround yourself with inspiration.

Tune into inspiring people, music, blogs, books, and media. Be inspired in relationship and community.

Question the status quo.

Question what society says family life (student life, retired life, "wherever you are" life) must look like. Must it mean a house of a certain size, a job with certain benefits, a certain schedule? Get creative and think outside the box of how you might achieve your dreams.

Do something difficult.

Do something that you think might be nearly impossible. It will inspire you to do the next nearly impossible thing. You will set a precedent in your life of doing difficult things. And what was once difficult will be easy and you'll move on to more challenging tasks.

Allow for mess.

Moving ideas from inspiration to expression is messy (and you may experience what other people call failure, we call it growth), but this is the stuff of life. Let go of perfection. Getting out the door is better than never crossing the threshold.

Living is hard work.

Regardless of how you slice it it's going to be hard. Why not invest those energies into moving forward in your family and personal dreams and goals?

Do it together.

We're wired for relationship for many reasons, one of them is simply that there is strength in numbers. Working together helps you capitalize on individual strengths (you don't need to do it all!) and support each other in weakness.

I believe you can make goals and work towards them. You may currently feel trapped in a situation, but you can make choices, right now, today, that move you in the direction you want to go.

Questions to ask yourself

Where do we want to be? What direction do we want to go in? (Hint: You'll need some dreams to point the way.)

What can we do right now, today, that moves use closer to that?

What are we willing to change in our life to make that happen?

Where can we find inspiration for these dreams? How can we surround ourselves with inspiring dreamers and doers?

What big, scary difficult thing can set our sights on? And how do we move that direction?

Who are we, together? How can we maximize our "team effect"?

There are no guarantees in life. Ever. There are no guarantees of success, health, or happiness when you "go with the flow" or accept the status quo. So why not live the life you dream of living?

In the context of homeschooling

I'd like to suggest that homeschooling is no different.

Let your kids dream. They'll need spaces of open time for this.

Surround them with inspiration.

Evaluate your core beliefs about living and education. This is your educational philosophy.

Do your homeschool methods and resources align with those beliefs? Are your days, the rhythms and patterns, an expression of that philosophy.

Help your kids do hard things. Show them how. Partner with them. Let go of perfection in your homeschool, in your life, and gift your children the freedom of good enough.

And above all else, do it together. Invite your children into a lifestyle of learning, study, and scholarship.

What are your thoughts. How do you take winter dreams (or summer dreams) and make them real? How do you move from inspiration to action in your life?
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  • Kelly

    Kelly on Feb. 17, 2014, 5:58 p.m.

    Love this and your inviation to explore. For us, it's not putting a limit on what might be and not putting off our dreams until we're say retired (because we'll probably never be able to retire) and because doing and making our dreams be with our children is part of our dream.


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 18, 2014, 12:56 p.m.

      Kelly - exactly. Retirement, of the traditional stop working and then do what with your life, is not in our life plans. Doing things as a family, now, is how we want to live. (smile) I could say much more about retirement and ideas and philosophies of living in later life, but I'll leave it there. We have an old age plan but it's not the typical retirement model. 


      • Trace

        Trace on Feb. 21, 2014, 1:02 p.m.

        Lots of good inspiration here! I'd like to hear more about your old-age plans, please!


        • renee

          renee on Feb. 21, 2014, 1:16 p.m.

          Someday I'll tell the plans in full (smile) but here's the preview: Damien and I are talking about our old-age plans now the way we talked about raising teenagers back when our children were not yet born and babies (smile). We figure we've got a good 30-35 years of active working life ahead of us. We've got the health and the will and discipline to remain healthy, as much as is in our power to do so. And when you love your work and live your dreams year by year, there's no incentive to retire. But when we are no longer physically or mentally able to earn an income from our "work", our place in family life and society will shift to being elders in our family and helping our children and grandchildren however we can until we are no longer able to contribute. At which point they will take care of us (however they see fit). That's it in a nutshell. Totally counter-cultural (surprise, surprise), we dream/desire and are working towards living in community (not necessarily in the same home) with our children in our old age, just as we expect to be a continual presence in their adult lives - helping them achieve their dreams, get their careers going, support them emotionally, physically, spiritually as they raise their kids, etc. We in this thing called "family" for life. It's our primary investment and our main asset. (smile)


          • Trace

            Trace on Feb. 22, 2014, 1:11 p.m.

            Sounds wonderful, and exactly what my husband and I hope for someday, too. We're trying to find a place to settle down that our kids will never want to leave!


  • jacinda

    jacinda on Feb. 17, 2014, 7:09 p.m.

    I am learning more and more to let go of the chatter in my head (read excuses, justifications for inaction) and turn up to the next step. Just get on and take the next step and what looked like one tiny step becomes a path. With each step I begin to identify myself more with that path (which only a while ago was a tiny step) and slowly I grow into the places I want to be (in myself, as a mama, as a creative being).


  • Ashley Floyd

    Ashley Floyd on Feb. 22, 2014, 8:48 p.m.

    Renee, in rethinking the status quo, I'd love your thoughts on something in particular...I am the oldest of a large family (2 girls, 5 boys), and my upbringing was probably the typical American childhood in many ways.  A few exceptions being that I went to a private school through graduation and I was raised by very strong believers who gave us a much better spiritual foundation than most families.  The one thing I disliked about my childhood is how much of it was devoted to after-school sports.  All my brothers (and I at times) played soccer and I kid you not when I say I grew up on a soccer field. Every evening there was some practice to head to and every single weekend, games or tournaments. I really hated it. I like sports, but I hated the time that was carved out for team sports practices.  We went to school, had practices, ate a quick dinner, homework, bed. Repeat.  As parents now ourselves, Kyle and I have relished the freedom to make our own choices about how our family will function. And we've gone a very different route from both our upbringings - except that we do emphasise a strong spiritual foundation for our family.  Everything from home births, cloth diapers, homeschooling...we've ended up breaking the "mold" that most families unconsciously follow. And now we have hit the ages when kids are typically signed up for team sports. We find ourselves torn - we love and want to promote an active lifestyle - Kyle and I are both very physically active (yoga, running, cycling, weights, tennis, etc) and we want our kids to be physically fit and active.  But what we most definitely DO NOT WANT is to begin spending every evening at the soccer field or some practice venue that will suck away hours and hours of our lives. There is something in my soul that balks at that prospect. And yet, I'm already getting questions and not so subtle hints and pointed glances from my parents who think we're doing a disservice to our kids if we don't sign them up for team sports immediately. I don't even buy into the philosophy that it's so important to "be a part of a team".  In my own experience, you learn all that from being a part of a family.  One of my sisters-in-law even basically said that as a parent, you have to just suck it up and do it anyway. Cause it's what being a parent is all about. To which I say, baloney. I believe deeply taht there has to be another way. I don't want the typical American life. I want to live outside that box.  Anyway, Renee, I value your insight and opinion and lifestyle choices very highly. You never cease to inspire me and encourage me. I would love your thoughts on this issue.


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 22, 2014, 9:10 p.m.

      Ashley, thank you so much for taking the time to write this thoughtful comment. 

      Did you see this post I wrote about team sports? Your kids can be fit, active and team minded - without team sports. They just need a healthy family life where mom and dad do stuff with them. 

      It wasn't until our youngest was 10 that we started a weekly sport routine, and that's taekwondo and it's totally a fall/winter activity for us, and completley subject to our schedule. Taekwondo, at least here, is nice that way. The team is not depending on you. Also our kids are all in one class. Fabulous.

      I also disagree with the notion that parents must simply suck it up and do a lot of stuff they don't like for the sake of their children. Yes, we must rise in the middle of the night with our babies to nurse and reassure them, as an example of putting our children's needs before our own, always. But the rest of it, the wants and even how we meet our children's legimate needs, is cultural.

      The notion that kids need team sports or need music lessons, or need this or that. They don't need any of those things. Are they good? Yes. Will you want to seriously consider some of those options if your children are interested in them? Why yes! But you are not obliged to provide them. (But your parent's heart will often want to bless and give good gifts to your children).

      A couple thoughts: a lot of people feel trapped by the race they're living and when they see another family living consciously against that stream they feel (mostly unconsciously) threatened and probably disorientated (you mean, I didn't have to spend all my spare time on the sidelines but I did anyway because that was what was expected of me?)

      Also, when people don't have an imagination for any other way of living, culturally or otherwise (what do they think about families in Asia or Africa or Europe who live differently?) they imagine a void or a vacuum. When in fact choosing to not do something brings freedom to a family's life to something else.

      There's no void, that space is filled in the child's life and the family life with something else, something that family or child values more. 

      And that's really what it all comes down to - what do you value? And how can you live inline with those values?

      Problem is, a lot of people don't even stop to ask themselves what they value, what they love, to dream about how they want to live. And then they get stuck or in a rat race or something and they're just "sucking it up" for the kids. That's not the way I want to live. 

      And of course there is nothing wrong with sports or even heavy sports involvement if that really fits who the family is. We're kind of hardcore outdoor people. People could say the outdoors suck up so much of our time (smile) but it's our joy and pleasure to be doing it, together. 

      My advice for you is to live your family life to the extreme (smile). Extreme in love, extreme in values-driven choices, extreme in the joy you feel being together and hanging out with one another. Family life - the new extreme sport. 


  • Ashley Floyd

    Ashley Floyd on Feb. 22, 2014, 10:10 p.m.


    Thanks for responding so quickly! I actually had missed your previous post, but read it just now. You pretty much addressed everything we've been mulling over. And I appreciated the comment section too.  I really liked Damien's thoughts - I can't wait to share all this with Kyle.  Good thoughts, good perspective. I love that your experience with your kids is ahead of mine enough so that I can benefit from the thought processes you and Damien have already worked through. It makes me feel like I'm finding a trail in the forest, instead of hacking my own brand-new path. Especially since it seems that many of the paths my family is choosing to take are divergent from many of the families around us. It's incredibly refreshing and inspiring to get a window into your life, decision-making process and find so many things that ring true for us, too.  Thank you thank you! 


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 22, 2014, 10:14 p.m.

      Ashley, You're welcome. I was happy to respond. I'm working on taxes this afternoon and I'm easily distracted and would much rather chat with you than keep my head in the books. 


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