Hi, I'm Renee.
I'm a forty year old mom, and my children, ages 17, 15 and 13, were home-birthed, are home-educated, and home-raised. As homeschooled teenagers they are starting to spread their wings and are on the path to becoming independent adults, but I'm still full-time mom and homemaker.
My children are pretty amazing. They are artists, and programmers, singers and actors. They are artsy and technical, geeky and expressive, studious and adventurous. They are, to date, my life's major work, my magnum opus. They are beautiful people. I am beyond blessed to be their mother.
I'm married to Damien, a self-employed web developer (also forty something, father of said teenagers). Damien is an engineer, a technology geek, a deep thinker, a visionary, and adventurer. He is a calm, open-minded, and patient counterpart to my energetic, decisive, and reactive personality. We highly esteem one another and are deeply committed to each other but after twenty years of marriage we increasingly recognize our own, and each other's, faults and inconsistencies. And loving each other anyway is one of life's greatest gifts.
I am a lifelong learner and mothering and marriage have been the catalyst and crucible for the most important lessons in my life. Almost everything I write comes from the edge of this growth plate, where self meets other.
I am honored if what I write here resonates with you on some level. That’s super satisfying and maybe we’ll even get to know each other, meet in person, and move from kindred spirit to friend.
But before you go further I need to let you know a few things. I struggle with anxiety and I'm insecure which makes me reactive and defensive and sometimes a bit of an emotional wreck. I stumble over my pride. I swear, less often in writing than in real life. I’m critical, mostly of myself but sometimes of others. I’m kind of judge-y. (I really try to keep this one in check, because I can’t stand being judged, isn’t that totally inconsistent of me?) I’m inconsistent. I naturally press panic before I press pause. I don’t take kindly to unsolicited advice, because of my insecurity, and I assume that you assume I haven’t thought through a situation therefore I need instruction. I hate to appear incompetent and be incompetent. And if I want your opinion, I’ll ask for it. (Seriously, please don't offer me advice unless I ask.) By the way, much to my chagrin and shame, I sometimes give advice without being asked. Did I mention I'm inconsistent?
If you’re still interested in reading you might be like to know I’m extremely loyal. I get things done. I’m super organized and skilled at executing systems. I love these things about myself. I feel really good when I’m operating in those spaces. I’m a beauty seeker. I laugh easily and have been called “bubbly and effervescent”. If you're into personality typing I'm an ESTJ, Enneagram type 6. I love my body. For real. I am in love with, and committed to following Jesus Christ. I function best, ie: act a little less crazy, when I spend time every day basking in God's love for me and listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit. The fact that I use the word "function" in describing an intimate relationship is big tip off that I'm a pretty task orientated person.
When I am able to meditate, pray, read good books, journal, Zentangle, garden, spend time alone, and remember (and practice) all I've learned about Cognitive Behavior Therapy and the power of our thoughts, it really helps with the anxiety, judging, recovering-perfectionist, insecurity thing I have going on.
I love to talk about homeschooling, educational philosophy, human development, psychology, religion and spirituality. And contrary to first glance at my personality profile and all my hang-ups (or maybe because of those things), freedom is my rally cry in homeschooling and life in general.
We live within boundaries so we can be free.
Some days I feel like such a mess. I find my humanness so very discouraging. And then Love shows up and brings with it truth and beauty and every good thing. And freedom settles once again into my soul. That is my happy place.
Are you messy? Me too. But we were made for freedom, and beauty and love. That's a true thing.
I didn’t used to think I was a mess.
I’m not talking about messy houses, I homeschool three creative kids, I understand mess.
I mean the mess of personal brokenness and feeling like a failure. Until my mid-thirties I lived with the happy knowledge that I pretty much had my crap together, having “managed” and controlled my life fairly well till that point. I knew I wasn’t perfect, but I was ok.
All a person like this, like me, needs, is a series of events which are hard to manage and out of her control to uproot the lie of self-sufficiency and expose the idolatry of placing trust and identity in anything other than God. That experience was difficult, to say the least, and it rocked our marriage for a while. It's hard to learn that deep down you really don't have it all together, that you can't protect yourself from pain and discomfort, that you're more flawed than you realized. But covering that knowledge is the Truth that I'm loved anyway. Can I hear an Amen!
I agree with Parker Palmer. He writes,
I now know myself to be a person of weakness and strength, liability and giftedness, darkness and light. I now know that to be whole means to reject none of it but to embrace all of it.
I am a wholehearted memoirist and lifestyle writer. It's vulnerable and exhausting sometimes to share my struggles but it's the only way I know how to live and write, open and honest.
I write as a witness to the human heart; a pilgrim and seeker on a journey of lifelong learning in marriage, motherhood, home making, homeschooling, adventuring, and creativity.
Cheryl Strayed says:
When you’re speaking in the truest, most intimate voice about your life, you are speaking with the universal voice.
Here's another way to explain it:
anyone trying to live a spiritual life will soon discover that the most personal is the most universal, the most hidden is the most public, and the most solitary is the most communal. What we live in the most intimate places of our beings is not just for us but for all people. That is why our inner lives are lives for others. That is why our solitude is a gift to our community, and that is why our most secret thoughts affect our common life.
~ Henri Nouwen
Here's how I see it:
The intimate is the universal.
~ Renee Tougas
This blog is not about presenting my best, brightest and happiest self to the world. It's not about a perfect family (and I don't share my family's secrets, just mine).
This blog is a chronicle of the journey, sometimes it's bright and happy and other times there is pain. The constant is that in those highs and lows I am looking for beauty, order, and truth; and choosing freedom and courage with each tentative step into the unknown.
Now I begin to feel that I can be that person - open, unafraid. Thus the desire to create comes from a new place, for a different reason. Remember, this is who you are... consider your own darkness, your own light.
~ Beth Powning
Thanks for joining me.