March 15, 2022
Every once in a while I feel the need to give my blog “about page” an update. Because, you know, life changes.
Backyard, March 15
When I was thinking about doing this last fall I stumbled across the idea of a “now” page, which is what it sounds like. A page describing the “now” of your work, writing, blogging, etc.
Since I’ve been blogging for 17 1/2 years this really appealed to me because I’ve accumulated a lot of layers here, like the calcium carbonate accretions of a snail’s shell. There’s a lot of history here on the blog. Which was kind of the point, to tell the story, year by year, layer by layer.
(I wonder, am I peeling back layers of self or adding layers? Feels like both.)
Anyway, instead of updating my about page, which has gotten pretty loaded with layers, I’ve decided to write a “where things are at now” page and drop some of the backstory weight. (Don’t worry, you can still find and read all the backstory you want! If that’s your thing.)
The only type of content that shows up on my blog “feed” are blog posts. But the Now Page isn’t a “post”, it’s a “page”. Because of this, you’ll never see it unless you visit my website and click on the little “Now” link in the menu. Because that’s unlikely to happen for many of you who read my blog via email I thought I’d copy and paste the Now page into a blog post so that you will see it.
Anyway, this is a good up-to-date (& brief) accounting of where I’m at with work, life, and school.
Created March 14, 2022
Hi, my name is Renee Tougas. This is my variation on the Now page. (It’s wordier than most now pages I’ve seen because that’s how I roll.)
Putting words to all this can feel like an ossification of thought, spirit, and energy, which at a subterranean level remains fluid, like magma. So it’s hard for me to even publish the words. I refuse to be calcified, to be set in stone, since the essence of who I am and even “what I’m about” is fundamentally inexpressible and in constant motion. However, these words will put you in the general vicinity of my present understanding (the now) of who I am, how I live, and some of my aspirations.
I experience my identity primarily in my relations, and in my roles and responsibilities in those connections.
I’m a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and kin to many living family tree relatives. I’m an Earthling. I’m a human. I’m a student of life, homemaker, writer, thinker, keeper of family and story, caregiver, and receiver of love. My body, my self’s, response to the world is deeply spiritual and intellectual. My internal compass is orientated to seek connection based on the recognition (hey, I know you!) of the Divine in the human experience within the greater cosmos. I am mostly energized, though sometimes completely exhausted, by the effort of finding a true and beautiful path for living in response to this drive.
I currently caretake a very small piece of land (my backyard) in Montreal, where I attempt to create a space of beauty that provides a small measure of metaphysical and physical sustenance, for humans and other-than-humans alike. I manage our family home, a three bedroom apartment, where I live, in relative (no pun intended) harmony, with my husband and three young adult children.
I am very grateful that I can part-time work from the comfort of my home to earn money to support family needs, my education, and other interests. I find satisfaction in this work in developing relationships with colleagues and clients and in using my analytical, organizational, and research skills to help those people meet their goals. I am mainly motivated to do this present work by the financial compensation that meets household and personal needs.
My aspiration is that my paid labour would someday more closely align with my vision for contributing to the common good. I seek paid employment because we’re currently living in a time and culture where this is how we gain security. I’m interested in alternatives to this system while recognizing it’s very unlikely to change in my lifespan.
A quick aside about systems. I love systems and structures. I’m wired for them. I work to create them in my own life. I think and act in the framework of systems. But I love “beings” more. And I’m also wired for that. And the well-being of beings is always a higher value to me than the functioning of systems. The purpose of a system, any system, is to support the flourishing of beings (all the beings, all the kin), not to support the flourishing of its own machinations and survival.
The working definition of my professional vision is to question and subvert systems that can no longer justify their existence because of oppression, exploitation or indifference to the real needs of humans, or because they have simply outlived their usefulness to the beings they once served. This position privileges and supports the flourishing of personal autonomy, responsibility, and relationality for the pursuit of, and contribution to, the common good.
I seek to serve the common good by using my ideas, (com)passion, and energies to support families and relationally-orientated (vs. bureaucratically-managed) communities dedicated to the care, education, and development of children, in specific, and humans, in general.
Having invested my adult-life thus far on the combined family-education front as a homeschool parent, I am now attending grad school at Concordia University to get a Masters degree in Educational Studies (graduation date: winter 2024) with the hopes of understanding Big Ideas and making the intellectual, spiritual, and personal connections that will enable and equip me to serve the common good in society, not just my family.
The axes of my worldview have shifted significantly in recent years. Key disruptions to these axes have been a deconstruction/reconstruction of my faith and spiritual narrative, the Covid-19 pandemic, and my personal awakening to climate change. (This is in addition to the overall economic, environmental, and social disruptions of the early 21st century). Future possibilities that I had imagined for my life, plotted with previous data, are currently in flux.
Let’s illustrate with a garden metaphor. I’ve planted some seeds in the heavily composted soil of my life (read: other dreams/ideals had reached their end or had died and were dug back into the soil), some aspirations and baby ideas are currently germinating, but I’m not entirely sure which ones to tend and nurture to harvest.
painting by: Laurent Tougas, 2018 Montreal backyard
In this space, in this flux, in this unknown, I am guided by my purposes to: take care of my people, extend the circle of belonging, critique systems and resist empire, and live like I am part of the whole. The action I take along these axes is my lived path forward into tending the garden of my life.
I would be thrilled to some day have pages here on my website with lists of my publications, articles, talks, interviews, maybe classes? That’s a big hairy dream that loses the staring contest most days with my tending-to-pessimism, pragmatic nature. I have many things I want to do with my life, I have varied interests, and I have responsibilities to people and place. And in the mix of all that, I’m not sure what is reasonable to aim for in the realm of knowledge and idea generation and dissemination. One assignment/post/video/etc… at a time…
For now, you can find my video work at YouTube, snippets of writing and life stories on Instagram, and some of my outdoor adventures at Outsideways. I have a no-longer-updated) Patreon that hosts an archived podcast and a couple courses.
I currently publish blog formatted essays and memoirist/lifestyle stories and videos to my blog once or twice a month. What I publish comes directly from my lived experience and is at the leading edge of my growth and development.
I love connecting with people. I like zoom chats (if you have something in particular you want to talk about). I welcome your emails and I do my best to respond to everything that lands in my inbox. Send me an email at renee at tougas dot net. Correspondence lost to the inter-webs is beyond my control. (As is much else in my life.)
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