January 19, 2012
Post three of five in my Ski Week series.
The mountains inspire us. One of the reasons we moved to the Gaspé peninsula was for the mountains. Some people (our families?) might find it strange but we need to be close to the mountains.
We know this about ourselves. During our years in Maine we learned that mountains are a part of our family identity. They are a part of what makes us tick. They are our family's playground, a place we find great joy and spiritual, creative and physical renewal.
They freak us out a bit too, especially in winter. Or maybe just me (Damien has mountain in his blood, he needs them like I need flowers and the woods).
Mountains inspire us to greatness.
I'm not saying we're great. I'm saying close proximity to mountains inspires us to dream big, push our boundaries and take risks. And helps us to teach that to our kids.
We are willing to give up a lot, and indeed we have, to have this inspiration as part of our lives. But for us, it's worth it.
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Jen @ Anothergranolamom on Jan. 19, 2012, 6:06 p.m.
We live in the heart of the mountains, and I cannot imagine living anywhere else. I used to visit relatives in Kansas and wonder how they could tell which direction they were heading. I drove across the plains and felt like I must be going uphill all the time. But although I love the mountains, hiking in the desert is the real thing for me. It is inspiring, challenging and wonderful.
renee on Jan. 20, 2012, 1:25 a.m.
No deserts in Canada. Maybe one day when we hike the PCT...
Michelle on Jan. 19, 2012, 6:38 p.m.
Renee, I love how you said that mountains inspire you to greatness. That statement made me stop and think. I also like how you make no mistake about giving up a lot for this proximity to the mountains. That is something many people would not be willing to do. You are keeping it real here and I appreciate that.
PS My daughter came to stay last weekend and I asked her to try your shampoo bar. She was skeptical as she has long, thick, wavy hair and buys expensive products. After she used it she said," I like it so far but I usually use conditioner because my hair gets frizzy so when it is dry, I'll tell you then." After it was dry she was equally impressed and asked when you will have it for sale. So that is 3/3 good ratings from this house.
renee on Jan. 20, 2012, 1:27 a.m.
This is good news, I'm so glad you all like it. Now, if I can find time this winter to make some shampoo bars.
Elaine on Jan. 19, 2012, 6:55 p.m.
Oh I so get this! Growing up surrounded by trees and mountains I would live nowhere else!
Amy K on Jan. 19, 2012, 7:27 p.m.
I am loving all these breathtaking pictures (especially since we are having such an unusually warm winter in my part of the world). I love your blog. Thank you for sharing your life and thoughts with so many people.
ps. our family started our own outdoor adventure day after being inspired by your family. we spend a lot of our time outdoors already, but having a weekly sacred time set aside for "adventure" is so much FUN! Thanks, Renee.
renee on Jan. 20, 2012, 1:29 a.m.
That's fabulous that you started your own one day a week practice. Warm winter - what a bummer.
candelion on Jan. 19, 2012, 8:03 p.m.
If I may ask, what is it that you feel you are giving up to be close to the mountains? I have been following your journey back to Canada all this time, and it doesn't feel like you've given up much of anything that you truly love (at least from a distance).
I recently graduated with my degree in May of last year and have been struggling to figure out where I want to be. For the longest time, I have wanted to travel, see places, meet people, and feel more inspired to greatness (and attempt to become some kind of international medical worker-- whatever that means)! Part of my hesitation is monetary, but I also know that there are many ways to go abroad without having a ton of my money. So, in reality I know that I am holding myself back. As much as I want to jump on a plane almost everyday, I have also created a life here that I have enjoyed over the years. I recently started a full-time job as a nanny, which is hard to leave when it promises an ability to save money and get those braces I've needed for all these years. I just can't seem to separate myself from a place where my family and friends seem to need me or from a life that has created other passions that I'm scared to loose. I also don't have a distinct plan about where I want to go, which makes this a tad more complicated. I could go to Italy or Spain or Australia to be an Au Pair. I could try to apply for the Peace Corps and see where they place me. I could try to get a job in this international camping organization or go stay on organic farms around the world. I'm also thinking about volunteering in Africa or India somehow, Naturopathic Medical School, Bikram yoga teacher training, Master in Public Health school..... I want to do it all, but I can't even decide where to start. You and your family know that mountains inspire you. Mountains inspire me too, but I am also so in love with many other things.
All this to ask how you gave up what you did, because I know I only get part of the story ;) Sorry this is so long, but I do look forward to your response.
renee on Jan. 22, 2012, 1:40 a.m.
Candelion, Nice to "see" you again. Are you ready? It's kind of long...
Both making our big move and choosing to live in the Gaspe peninsula required sacrifices on our part. We gained a lot and feel the gains outweigh the losses but there was loss.
First the move itself (which isn't related to the being close to the mountains per se), oh where do I start. We gave a secure job with excellent benefits (retirement accounts, the whole works), living in our own home that we had worked so hard to renovate. We will be renters now for a bit till we sell our home in Maine, after that we don't want home ownership will look like since we want to avoid a mortgage.
We said goodbye to friends, farm and our community of nine years. Community where we established connections and relationships and "knew the way things worked". Including shopping systems. As a homemaker responsible for our family's budget this has been hard. I've had a steep learning curve in trying to find the food we eat and stay in a budget. I am not succeeding so well. I feel I gave up a lot in that regard - the farm, the buying clubs, etc. The systems I knew and understood. On a related note most things in Canada are more expensive than in the US. So, you give up a certain amount of your earnings for that (universal health care being the thing you gain).
Now we start to get into things related to being near the mountains, specifically. The Gaspe peninsula, which really has the only significant mountains in the east (I wanted to stay east because my parents are in NS), other than Labrador, is fairly remote and rural. Not uncomfortably so but let's say Maine is populated compared to here. In order to be close to the mountains we have given up certain routines, comforts and familiarity of living in cities or close to cities (there are no cities here). This is not the west coast or the Rockies where large cities with all the cultural and shopping opportunities those cities present are found near mountains. We gave up having good homeschool connections (we have not found one homeschooling family) and an excellent library - there is neither of those where we live and that is a huge loss in my mind. Homeschoolers without a good library service. Ack! There are certain things we just can't access here because of our location.
Now, this is not a complaint. It's just an honest accounting. We are internet people - we can get most anything we need there, including books (except now we have to more for shipping and Amazon prime does not exist in Canada - and that sucks).
We are outdoors people and the outdoors here are fabulous. Mountains, rivers you can drink out of (seriously), ocean. Winter skiing, summer backpacking. Everything we want and more for this stage of our family life. We chose Gaspe Peninsula for the mountains and the proximity to my parents but it also has a vibrant culture, great people and a good farming community (on the side we live). You can read the whole process in this post.
We feel we gain more than we gave up in moving here but we did give up things to make this move and in choosing the Gaspe. That's just the reality of making any change in your life - there are gains and losses - always. The movement forward is the gain. The new experiences, the opportunities you can't even plan for or anticipate. The comfort of the familiar - the routines, the community, the friends - those are things you give up.
Not sure you were expecting a post in response but there's no 10 sentence response to a question like that.
Jill Foley on Jan. 19, 2012, 9:07 p.m.
I hear you on the mountains. I feel more alive when I live near them. Having spent the first 18 years of my life surrounded by cornfields, I didn't realize the desire to be near the mountains. We've moved a lot - VA, NC, VT, MN, MI and now OR. My favorite places to live have been the places with mountains in sight.
Jennifer Brotherton on Jan. 19, 2012, 11:18 p.m.
I think I'd rather be dead than go skiing in the mountains in that snow!! I am not a cold weather person AT ALL! But glad you all enjoy it! :)
Karenh on Jan. 20, 2012, 12:06 a.m.
hi! I found you here via Unplugged Sunday. Oh yes, I know what you mean. I've lived in the same place ALL of my life in the Hudson River valley in New York surrounded by small mountains of the Catskills, Shawangunks(great rock climbing), Hudson Highlands, Taconic and the foothills of the Berkshires. As a teen I wanted nothing more than to escape this area, now years later, I never want to leave. It is just something beautiful looking out over the majestic river with the sun setting and rising over the mountains. Awe-inspiring!
It looks lovely where you are with the snow capped mountains. I'm not familiar with that area of Canada. Is there snow there year round?
Have a peaceful and fabulous day!
renee on Jan. 20, 2012, 1:44 a.m.
Do you mean snow in the mountains year round? Or snow in our neighborhood? I could never live in a place with snow year round. I love beaches, hot summer days and gardening. There isn't snow in the mountains year round here either. They're not high enough for that. We look forward to hiking and backpacking in these mountains in the summer. Thank you, I am having a fabulous day. We're on a mini ski vacation this weekend. Three days on the slopes of a nearby resort, learning how to telemark ski so we can take the kids into the backcountry and have some clue what we're doing out there. We used to live in NJ. The Hudson River valley is very nice.
Joy on Jan. 20, 2012, 2:58 a.m.
Beautiful pictures, Renee! I love the mountains (lived near enough to Banff and Jasper to go often for awhile) but it's the sea that does it for me - inspires greatness, fills me with joy and refills my soul-well. So thankful to be living on Cape Breton where we have access to great hills (not actual mountains but close enough) and the ocean, too! Loving your blog, thanks so much for sharing your journey. Bless you and yours!
renee on Jan. 20, 2012, 1:01 p.m.
Joy, My parents kept trying to entice us to move to Cape Breton, as it's in NS, which is where they live (and where we lived last summer with them). Cape Breton sounds so nice and I can't wait to visit someday. I too love the ocean and water - lakes, rivers. Maine had both, mountains and ocean/water. So does the Gaspe peninsula. Our son is a water boy and we considered that when moving here. One of his dreams (among many) is to be a marine biologist. Thanks for visiting and commenting Joy.
Kika@embracingimperfection on Jan. 20, 2012, 6:38 a.m.
I love this : "During our years in Maine we learned that mountains are a part of our family identity." So important, I think, to develop a "family identity" - hopefully a healthy one - and embrace it.
Anonymous on Jan. 20, 2012, 8:37 p.m.
I am so loving these winter mountain photos as we are in the middle of a fantastic summer. I am so blessed to live in the South Island of New Zealand where we are in close proximity to the sea, lakes, rivers and mountains. While still being close to a university city (although shaken with earthquakes) for the kids. Love your blog and photos Renee, Thanks!
renee on Jan. 21, 2012, 1:17 p.m.
New Zealand is our family's dream location to live. Maybe the kids will be inspired to go there when they leave the nest and we can follow them (smile).
Anonymous on Jan. 22, 2012, 7:02 p.m.
We have spare beds and room on the lawn for a tent...Amanda